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BINONDO: REVISITING 3 FAVORITE QUICK TREATS

We arrived around 8 in the morning yesterday in Binondo, a destination my husband and I have not gone to for more than 2 decades so this short trip was surely a sentimental one. Click a related post – BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT.

For the benefit of foreigners, Binondo* is considered the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila, Philippines, and a hub of Chinese commerce.

We finally found a parking space and made our way to Ling Nam Noodle House at 616 T. Alonzo Street. Even this early, the restaurant was almost full.

Z-2-wall menuwall menu – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Ling Nam still has a limited, yet time-tested, menu consisting of: noodles (asado, beef, chicken, wanton, or combinations of 2 or 3 thereof), lugao (congee or hot rice porridge, with the following variants: bola-bola, chicken, fish, fish-bola, halo-halo, liver, kidney, or plain), siopao (steamed bun, in the following variants: asado, bola-bola, lotus, mongo and taipao – the 4-inch or largest meatball-chorizo siopao) and siomai (steamed Chinese dumpling, with or without soup).

Unfortunately, only siopao, siomai and different kinds of lugao (congee) were available that early (noodles are only available starting 9:30 am). So, we settled for CHICKEN LUGAO (175 pesos), HALO-HALO LUGAO (165 pesos), SIOMAI (2 pieces for 80 pesos) and ASADO SIOPAO (75 pesos).

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Complimentary Hot Tea – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Complimentary hot tea was served first, followed by our orders.

BeFunky CollageChicken Lugao and Halo Halo Lugao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Both lugaos were served hot, accompanied by fresh calamansi (small, round citrus fruit also known as Calamondin). We squeezed the juice from the calamansi directly to the bowl and seasoned the lugao with patis (fish sauce) and a bit of pepper. This dish hit the spot and is definitely a comfort food for us.

 

Z-3-siomai-siopao2 pieces of siomai and asado siopao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Siomai and siopao were then served. Toyo (soy sauce) and freshly squeezed calamansi juice were mixed as dipping sauce for the two pieces of siomai (per order) to be enjoyed in between spoonfuls of lugao. The siopao did not need any sauce because the tasty filling, along with the soft dough, was just right.

We asked for the bill and gave our senior citizen cards. An employee simply looked at our empty plates on the table and orally enumerated the quantity of the exact items we ate to the cashier who prepared the bill. Now I call that going paperless! So amusing!

Z-4-shanghai fried siopaoShanghai Fried Siopao – Binondo, Manila

We shopped for a while and found ourselves in the corner of Ongpin Street and Bahama Street, the location of (80 year old) Shanghai Fried Siopao. We ordered PORK ASADO fried siopaos, each costing 20 pesos. This hole-in-the-wall stall only has a simple store sign “Shanghai Fried Siopao” and offers takeout dumplings, kikiam (or quekiam, a steamed-deep-fried pork/seafood Chinese delicacy wrapped in bean curd skin), machang (the Filipino version of the pyramid-shaped Chinese steamed sticky rice-meat dish called “zongzi”), siomai and other cooked-food items, displayed on a small counter along the street.

Z-5-fried siopaoFried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

The fried siopao displayed on the counter were not kept warm but you can observe that they were easily gone through the purchases of loyal and curious customers and the stock needed to be replenished regularly. The buns were still hot when it was handed to me. Amazing!

Z-6-fryer (2)Fryers used to make Fried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

Just to be clear, we ordered FRIED SIOPAO which is steamed then pan-fried so that it has a toasted crispy bottom but still looks like a steamed siopao on top. It is definitely different from Toasted Siopao which is a baked “monay-looking” Bicolano specialty variation of siopao.

Z-7-manosaWe walked a bit more and could not resist to go to (30 year old) Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant.

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We ordered yummy maki (a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, and chunks of tender pork) which was served in a large bowl and can be shared by two seniors. We were still full so we did not order side dishes like kikiam and siomai.

Z-9-manosa-3Maki – Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant, Binondo, Manila

The maki was served hot and its thick, starchy and tasty broth was so satisfying, along with the tender chunks of pork.

Z-10-siopao-bitepoor fried siopao after I have eaten it halfway

We needed to leave Binondo, anticipating traffic going to our next destination. Sure enough, we were caught in traffic and decided to eat the Pork Asado siopaos we got from Shanghai Fried Siopao. They were no longer hot but we still ate them. When I bit into the siopao, I got a bit of a crunchy texture from the bottom, along with the usual soft siopao dough and tasty filling (of pork and leeks, among other ingredients; no need for sauce). We enjoyed the siopaos and I am sure that these would have been more satisfying when eaten hot. Anyway, we didn’t get stressed with the traffic! LOL

Next time, we need to stay longer and eat lunch or dinner in the famous restaurants in Binondo. Dear Seniors, do you have any recommendations?

Did you find this post informative? Do you also go to these places for a quick treat? Do you have your other favorite places to dine in Chinatown for a quick bite?  I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Don’t forgollow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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*“Binondo,” accessed December 12, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo.

 

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JASMINE: IRRESISTIBLE CHINESE FOOD

Location: Level 2, New World Makati Hotel, Esperanza Street corner Makati Avenue, Ayala Center, Makati City, Philippines

My group of five were in the Greenbelt area and I was craving for Chinese food and salted egg so off we went to New World Makati Hotel’s Jasmine, its dining outlet at Level 2. Jasmine is open for lunch (11:30 am – 2:30 pm) and dinner (6 pm – 10:30 pm).

Z-1-Jasmine-facadeThe entrance to the main dining room was so inviting. We arrived at a little past noon and most of the tables were occupied.

Z-1-Jasmine-interiorThe Chinese Art Deco interior was cozy and simply elegant. It is my second visit to this Chinese restaurant and this will definitely be a “cheat meal”! LOL

Jasmine offers authentic Chinese dishes created by renowned Hong Kong chef Wong Kam On: a wide variety of Cantonese baked, fried, steamed and vegetarian dim sum; chicken, fish and pork century egg congees; rice rolls (served only for lunch); Peking Duck; seafood specialties; barbecued appetizers; soups; live fish and seafood (with your choice of cooking method); poultry and meat dishes; bean curd, noodle, rice, vegetable and vegetarian dishes; desserts; and different kinds of tea (along with Jasmine Tea and Jasmine Chrysanthemum). Set menus, priced per table of ten persons, are also offered.

Z-1-Jasmine-menuOn our round table was a menu for unlimited  yum cha (traditional Cantonese brunch consisting of dim sum and Chinese tea), for 988 pesos per person. It was so tempting but we settled for a la carte orders for the group so we could savor the salted egg dishes which I have been craving for.

Z-2-JasmineWe ordered 4 kinds of dimsum. The BARBECUED PORK PASTRY was a welcome treat because the pastry was so flaky and the pork filling was delicious. The generously-sized PORK XIAO LONG BAO looked so enticing: steaming hot with its delicate folds and thin, white casing. Its yummy mild broth was just right for the well-seasoned pork filling.

Z-2-Jasmine-hargaoThe HAR GAO was served hot, the dough shell was soft and delicate, and the seasoned shrimp filling was tasty and juicy.

Z-3-JasmineThe PORK PASTRY SPRING ROLL was a delightful appetizer as well.

We enjoyed sipping the hot JASMINE TEA while we savored the various dim sum as well as succeeding courses.

SPINACH SOUP was requested by our 5-year old picky-eater-grandson and he finished it all so that says a lot about this soup! This healthy soup was served at the right temperature and was pleasantly seasoned so the kid enjoyed it till the last drop.

Z-4-JasmineWe ordered five main courses. Finally, I will satisfy my salted egg craving! The SOLE OF FISH SALTED EGG YOLK hit the spot! I definitely rave about this dish and, dear Seniors, this is definitely a MUST TRY! The tender fish was fried with just the right amount of yummy salted egg.

Z-5-JasmineThe crispy DEEP FRIED PRAWNS SALTED EGG YOLK was likewise delicious, accentuated by the salted egg coating.

The CHINESE STYLE PAN-FRIED BEEF TENDERLOIN was topped with Chef Wong’s special sauce. The beef was so tender. The flavor and texture of the sauce enhanced the enjoyment of this dish.

Z-6-JasmineOur picky-eater requested BROCCOLI WITH OYSTER SAUCE. The broccoli was cooked just right and the sauce was tasty, but not salty.

Z-7-JasmineThe EGG WHITE SEAFOOD FRIED RICE with conpoy (a type of pungent Cantonese dried scallop) and pine nuts, with its subtle, yet flavorful blend of ingredients and seasonings, aptly complemented our a la carte orders.

Z-8-JasmineMango Pudding, Jasmine, New World Makati Hotel

Finally, we ordered two kinds of desserts: Mango Pudding and Mango Cream-Sago.

Z-9-JasmineMango Cream-Sago, Jasmine, New World Makati Hotel

Both desserts were a refreshing treat after all the dimsum and main courses we enjoyed.

The staff were so accommodating and gave personalized service. They changed the plates as needed, replenished our tea and water, and asked if we enjoyed the meal and what else we needed.

We will definitely come back for more, what with their December promo called “Feast on Festive Treats”: (1) a Yum Cha Buffet Lunch consisting of baked, fried and steamed dumplings, buns, rolls and noodles, at 1,388 pesos per person; and, (2) a choice among three 10-course set menus for December 24, 25, 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018, featuring Chef Wong’s signature dishes like Suckling Pig, Braised Abalone with Black Mushrooms, Pan-fried Lamb with Black Pepper Sauce, Pan-fried Scallop with Egg White and Black Truffle Sauce, at 9,888 pesos for a group of 6 persons.

Private dining rooms are also available for your intimate get-togethers, dear Senior Citizens. You can inquire/book at (02) 811-6888. Visit their website: www.manila.newworldhotels.com. You can view their complete menu at www.zomato.com, just type Jasmine – New World Makati Hotel Menu.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in Jasmine? If so, what were your favorite dim sum and ala carte dishes? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

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BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT

Location: Binondo, District of Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines

My husband and I were already in Metro Manila and decided to go to Binondo early for a quick and early visit since we haven’t been there for more than two decades.

For the benefit of foreigners, Binondo* is the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila and a hub of Chinese commerce.

Z-13-BinondoI saw the familiar Welcome Arch and prayed we could get a parking slot.

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Binondo still looks so busy especially during this time of the year.

Z-12-BinondoMemories of our past visits with loved ones and friends crossed my mind while we passed through the last arch.

Parking was full but we were able to find one accessible to the places we wanted to go to. We first ate breakfast in Ling Nam Noodle House. We then went to shop a bit then ordered a couple of  fried siopaos (steamed then fried meatball-chorizo buns) at Shanghai Fried Siopao for takeout. Before we left for lunch elsewhere, we didn’t miss the chance to eat maki (a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, and chunks of tender pork) at Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant. Click a related post – BINONDO: REVISITING 3 FAVORITE QUICK TREATS.

Z-14-BinondoFinally, we wouldn’t leave this place without buying yummy, freshly roasted castañas    (chestnuts). Then off we went for an important errand.

Did you find this post informative? Do you often go to Binondo? Do you also crave for castañas come the holiday season?  I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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*“Binondo,” accessed December 12, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo.

 

 

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GREEN PASTURES: FROM FARM TO TABLE

Location: G/F, Net Park, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

I had a scheduled meeting with someone in the Net Park area and arrived an hour before the designated time so I invited my companion to have a quick but not-so-sinful snack and we chose a casual dining and organic restaurant called Green Pastures, owned by Chef Robby Goco of Cyma, Charlie’s Grind and Grill, and Tequila Joe’s fame. It is located at the ground floor of Net Park and is open from 8 am till 10 pm.

Z-3-GP

For this restaurant, Chef Robbie offers healthy American and European homemade dishes which are made from fresh, organic, gluten-free and probiotic ingredients. Green Pastures also has 2 other branches: Eastwood Mall (in Bagumbayan, Quezon City) and (Level 4, East Wing) Shangri-la Plaza Mall (in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City).

We opted for outdoor dining despite the modern farm house interiors, ordered their Homemade Burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream), served with toasted bread, and requested it to be served fast so we need not hurry eating it and I won’t be late for my meeting. It came as promised by the waitress and it had a simple yet appealing presentation.

Z-1-GP

The texture of the bread complemented the softness and freshness of the cheese, served with Mt. Atok (in the province of Benguet) organic strawberries, cherry tomatoes and basil oil. It was priced at 430 pesos and was worth it! The cold refreshing drinks, Organic Dalandan Juice (juice of the tangy, Filipino variety of a citrus fruit) and Iced Tea with Organic Honey (small, 120 pesos each), were a welcome treat too!

I paid for this snack and all the comments are based on my dining experience. I will definitely go back to try the other items in the menu!

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining at Green Pastures in any of its branches? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

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A SENTIMENTAL PINOY MERIENDA AT VIA MARE

Location: G/F, Greenbelt 1, Greenbelt Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

My husband and I were accompanied by three relatives when we were in the Greenbelt area for early Christmas shopping. It was the middle of the afternoon when we all became hungry and they agreed to join me in a sentimental Pinoy merienda (snack) at Via Mare in Greenbelt 1 which was one of my favorite casual dining Filipino restaurants when I was single.

Z-1-VMfacade – Via Mare, Greenbelt 1, Makati City

Now, dearest Senior Citizens (SCs), you might ask, why there, Tita S? There is one at Greenbelt 3 and it is newer. I know that, SCs, but this Greenbelt 1 branch is so memorable for me before I got married. Anyway, indulge me, please, ok?

This outlet is open from 8 am till 9:30 pm (M-F), 9 am till 9:30 pm (Sat.-Sun.), and 10 am till 10 pm (during holidays). It is located at the ground floor of Greenbelt 1, opposite National Book Store, my favorite bookstore. Via Mare’s facade and interiors still looked the same and the diners were mostly families or seniors, alone or with a companion.

I can’t help but think that the other seniors also eat there not only for the yummy dishes but recall delightful memories of dining there for years/decades as well. For me, it was way back 1990s.

This outlet offers breakfast, a wide selection of Filipino merienda treats and kakanin (native Filipino rice cakes served mostly for snacks), as well as different soups, main dishes, oyster specialties, vegetables and rice for lunch/dinner.

I was feeling nostalgic when I got hold of the menu and I wanted to order lots of native merienda (snack) treats but stopped myself because of eating out too much when I go to Metro Manila.

Z-Via Mare-2We ordered only four kinds of merienda items First was BIBINGKA VSP (175 pesos), meaning this traditional Filipino rice cake was very special because it had all the toppings possible. It was served warm and soft and its flavor was enhanced by the yummy toppings (butter, cheese and salted egg), accompanied by freshly grated coconut and sugar.

Z-Via-Mare-3PUTO BUMBONG, with two pieces per order, served with muscavado sugar (partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor), quezo de bola (Edam cheese) and freshly grated coconut (106 pesos), was also ordered. It looked so delicious and we even ordered additional queso de bola for a more delightful combination.

Z-Via-Mare-4The PALITAW (a traditional, sweet, sticky Filipino rice cake), with three pieces per (55 peso) order and a generous topping of freshly grated coconut, sugar and linga (sesame seeds), was served next. It is definitely a MUST TRY, dearest Seniors! This boiled, flattened, small, rectangular, Filipino rice cake was so delicately soft, contrasted by the texture of the freshly grated coconut mixed with sugar and linga. We had to ask for an additional order because we couldn’t have enough of this native delicacy.

Z-Via-Mare-5DINUGUAN AT PUTO (205 pesos), another Filipino favorite, was a satisfying, thick, savory pork-blood stew with pork offals and meat, complemented by the small white putos (traditional, round, soft, Filipino steamed rice cakes).

Bottomline, we enjoyed all our orders but rave about the palitaw! My younger companions learned to appreciate these Filipino treats while I reminisced good times in this restaurant with every bite I took. Happy tummies! Happy memories! Happy meee! Happy weee! We will surely go back for more, perhaps for lunch or dinner!

Prices stated were based on charges when we dined in this outlet; they may change. Visit its official website: www.viamare.com.ph for outlets, catering services, updates, etc. You can also call (02) 815-1918. For a quick look at the menu of this outlet: (1) simply type “via mare greenbelt 1 menu” and click on the www.munchpunch.com option, or (2) type www.zomato.com and type café via mare greenbelt 1. View the menu at the bottom of the page.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in this restaurant or in any of its other branches? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

 

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EL NIDO: Islands and Caves – Part 3

Location: Province of Palawan1, MIMAROPA2 Region, Philippines

In our fourth day in the picturesque town of El Nido3 in the province of Palawan, my husband and I felt that we gained weight after three days here especially with Sea Cocoon’s yummy buffet breakfast, Hello El Nido’s finger-licking grilled buffet lunch during our island hopping, and the seafood dinners we had along the beach! This is paradise, but is not-so-good for our waistlines! But what can I say! When on vacation, NO DIET! Or, we have a SEE-FOOD DIET, i.e., when we see food, we eat! Right?!

Did you see my posts of our first two tours of El Nido? If not, click here for EL NIDO: HEAVEN ON EARTH – Part 1 and click here for EL NIDO: HEAVEN ON EARTH – Part 2.

Anyway, our third tour called TOUR B – WHITE SAND GALORE: ISLANDS AND CAVES, costs 1,300 per person. Just like the first 2 trips, I packed my hard-plastic beach bag with my needs for the day: sun block, bottles of mineral water, comb, towels, sunglasses, cell phone and power bank, snacks, cash, etc. After breakfast, we all met at the lobby, trooped again to the beach and boarded our big “banca” (boat) for the day.

3-El Nido-Snake Island-Gani
Snake Island, El Nido, Palawan – Photo by: Gani

The first stop was SNAKE ISLAND. I enjoyed this unique island because it had a natural S-shaped sandbar visible during low tide. And guess what, it was low tide today, lucky us! My husband and I walked the whole sandbar and we wished we had a drone to video our walk. We finally reached the end of the sandbar which was a mangrove. We stopped a bit and headed back to the starting point where we were ushered to head up and hike to a small gazebo with a spectacular view of the sandbar and the clear water! The bottled water came in handy to hydrate us going up and down this trail. Take your time, dearest Seniors, it is worth the effort!

Next was ENTALULA BEACH, reputed to be the best beach in Bacuit Bay. It can also be reserved for an intimate lunch/dinner.

The CUDUGNON CAVE was the next stop and cash was handy to enjoy fresh buko juice/cold soft drinks. This site was believed to be the burial site during the Neolithic period4 (10,200 – 2000 BC).

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A brief stop at the CATHEDRAL CAVE followed but we did not stay long because the water was a bit rough. However, each passenger was given a chance to have pictures taken with the cave as backdrop.

4-El-Nido-Pinagbuyutan Island-Gani
Pinagbuyutan Island Photo by Gani

The PINAGBUYUTAN ISLAND was the last stop. It is a powdered white sand island ideal for snorkeling, laying at the beach, or swimming with loved ones.

This last packaged tour is good but not as good as the first two … anyway, the sandbar was more than enough to make this a memorable trip! Thanks again, Gani Ricarte of Hello El Nido! Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

My final words re El Nido: This town is indeed a paradise and a precious treasure for all Filipinos and foreign visitors to visit and experience for generations to come! I pray it will not suffer the same fate as Boracay if they just continue to consistently and strictly implement the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA)5.  I hope the local government will be able to continue to plan and successfully implement programs against the threats of high human activities and the booming tourism industry in the these towns such as: pollution from waste and sewage disposal; beach erosion; damage to coral reefs due to snorkeling, diving and illegal collection; and, disturbance of bird nesting and marine sites.

I would love to hear from you, dear Seniors! Did you find this post informative? Have you gone to El Nido? Did you also experience this package tour? What are your observations of the tourism impact to the environment? Just scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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1Palawan, according to the Wikipedia page, “Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, s a province in the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA Region of the Philippines, founded in 1818, and is now called the Philippines’ Last Frontier. SOURCE: “Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

2MIMAROPA, according to the Wikipedia page, “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, is an administrative region of the Philippines which is an acronym for its constituent provinces: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. SOURCE: “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

3El Nido, according to the Wikipedia page, “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, is a first class, highly urbanized city located in the western province of Palawan, the westernmost city in the Philippines, with 66 barangays, and the capital of Palawan. The airport is located in this city and it is also known for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, named one of the New7Wonders of the Nature. SOURCE: “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

4“Neolithic,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic.

5El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) is the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines, according to the Wikipedia page, “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, It covers 18 barangays in El Nido and 3 barangays of its neighboring town, Taytay, involving more than 900 sq. km, using various forest and marine conservation and protection programs, to protect and develop the livelihoods of the seaside local population, amidst the development of tourist in the area. A very small (50 US cents) daily conservation fee is required per visitor. SOURCE: “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

 

 

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LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR: A HERITAGE TREAT

Location: Barangay Pag-asa, town of Bagac, province of Bataan, Central Luzon Region, island of Luzon, Philippines

6-Las Casas

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is an 18th-century heritage park and open-air museum located along Umagol River, in the town of Bagac, Bataan, Philippines. It was created in 2003 by Jose “Gerry” Acuzar, owner of New San Jose Builders, and opened it to the public in 2010. It is managed by Genesis Hotels and Resorts Corporation.

1-Las Casas

It presents a 400-hectare sprawling settlement of 27 Spanish colonial-heritage houses from various cities and provinces of the Philippines (e.g., Biñan, Bulacan, Cagayan, Ilocos, La Union, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Quezon City). Each house or “casa” was dismantled in situ (in its original place), brick by brick, numbered, transported to this site, where they were reassembled and restored. The houses are often made with a stone foundation on the ground level and made of wood on the upper floor. If parts are missing, bricks and woodwork were replaced to resemble the original structure.

19-Las Casas-layout

If you have arthritis, no worries, dear Seniors, the property offers the following transportation facilities to take you around:

  • Bicycle – reserve, for a fee, per hour;

9-Las Casas-jeepney-MarissaDG

  • Jeepney – pick-up starts in front of Casa Mexico and drops off at Casa New Manila;

 

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  • Kalesa – a horse-drawn carriage; reserve at the Concierge and meet Makisig, the horse, used for this traditional mode of transportation good for 2 to 4 persons;

 

10-Las Casas-A-golf cart-MarissaDG

  • Golf Cart – reserve at Casa Mexico for a fee per hour, whether self-driven (maximum 4 persons) or tour guide-driven (maximum 3 persons); and,

 

7-Las Casas-tram-MarissaDG

  • Tram – a vehicle which goes around the property along a metal railway or track.

 

For Seniors who can afford and who have an architectural, cultural and/or historical interest, this place is for you! You will also have lots of “muni-muni” (reflection) time while strolling from one house to another along the brick pavements or cobblestone streets, or while riding any of the above vehicles and feeling the gentle to strong (depending on the weather/season) wind from the Beach Area, direct from the West Philippine Sea. If you love taking selfies or unique Spanish architecture, more reason to go, just apply lots of sunscreen! If you enjoy spending time walking/strolling with family or “balikbayan friends”, enjoying freshly-baked pandesal from La Panaderia or native delicacies for “merienda” (snacks) at La Parilla/Pica Pica, indulging in local fruity-flavored “sorbetes” (ice cream) peddled by a roving “sorbetero” (ice cream vendor) wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, swimming, sunbathing and appreciating the beautiful sunset while sipping beer/cocktails by the beach, and without the “noisy” nightlife of the city even for just one night, then check this destination out!

4-Las Casas

Stay at least overnight to enjoy this unique resort and savor its beauty on a leisurely pace, preferably on a weekend, to witness traditional native activities (listed below). I visited this nostalgic property on February 2017, along with my high school buddies as part of our 45th jubilee. There are 217 rooms to choose from; check-in is 2 pm and check-out is 12 noon.

12-Las Casas-Casa-New-Manila-QCWe checked-in at the first “casa” or house upon entering the compound, the Casa de New Manila Quezon City.

3-Las Casas

I stayed with my husband in a Deluxe Room with a “retro ambiance” yet still enjoyed the comforts of air-conditioning, a queen-sized bed, television with cable, an in-room safety deposit box, a bathroom with hot and cold water and a separate bathtub and shower, and breakfast was also included.

Other types of rooms are the:

  1. Executive Suite – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza and gazebo; for 6 adults; with 3 queen beds with 2 extra beds;
  2. Family Suite – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view) or beach front, for 6 adults, with 3 queen beds and 2 extra beds;
  3. Large Superior Deluxe – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view, beach front, or plaza); for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds; and, the
  4. Studio with Loft – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza; for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds.

Visit its website for prices/availability/more information: www.lascasasfilipinas.com

16-Las Casas

The following tours are offered (but note that schedules/prices may be changed, so inquire beforehand):

  • A WALKING HERITAGE TOUR held about 7 times daily (9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm), subject to weather conditions, for 1,500 pesos. A trained and eloquent tour guide gives the history of each house. Experience this special one-hour tour with your “amigos/amigas” or family.

Here are some tips for you to maximize this tour: choose comfortable footwear that is easy to remove and wear (since you will be required to leave it at the door of each house before entry; wear socks for hygiene, if desired; wear comfortable and light clothes; during summer or hot days, apply sunblock, wear a cap or hat and even bring an umbrella; and, bring water for hydration. If it is windy, bring a shawl or something to keep you warm and, for ladies, apply a lip balm to protect your lips.

Since my husband and I stayed overnight, we availed of this tour and learned to appreciate more of our country’s rich history, architecture and culture. The tour guides were fluent in both English and Tagalog.

  • An ALL-DAY TOUR for a minimum of 5 persons, with 2,000 pesos nett per person, paid in advance, and cannot be combined with other promotions. There are several schedules daily, subject to weather conditions.
  • A RIVER/BALSA TOUR for a minimum of 4 persons per ride, on an “intimate and romantic” cruise around the property using a “balsa” (raft) for 500 pesos each. You can leisurely float along the Umangol River and the glide along surrounding balconies, brick walls, verandas and arched bridges.
  • A HOTEL DE ORIENTE TOUR is a tour of the faithful replica of the first luxury hotel in Binondo during the Spanish colonial era of our country, for 200 pesos. It is the property’s “premier 3-floor convention center” which can accommodate functions for at least 10 persons to banquets of up to 600 persons. Its lobby boasts of wooden sculptures crafted by Betis and Paete carvers, both well-known for wood-carving.
  • A WORKSHOP TOUR is an in-house workshop where woodcarvings and bricks are traditionally made. The tour starts at Casa Mexico and is held Tuesday to Thursday (9 am/3 pm) and Friday to Sunday (9 am/11 am/3 pm).
  • BATAAN TOUR PACKAGE – Please inquire at 09178329361 (Monday-Saturday, 8:30 am – 5:P30 pm) or visit their website mentioned above.
  • An ART TOUR is coming soon.

Dining outlets include: (1) The Beach Bar; (2) Café del Rio – a tapas1 bar at Casa Sta. Rita; (3) Café Marivent at Casa New Manila – a Filipino-Spanish restaurant at the 2nd floor of the said casa; (4) Cusina ni Nanay Maria – a Filipino restaurant located at Casa Unisan;  (5) La Bella Teodora at Basa Biñan – an Italian restaurant located at Casa Biñan; and, (6) La Parilla and Pica Pica – an open Filipino “street food and beverage” outlet located at Plaza de Castro. I enjoyed their turon (fried, sweet banana spring roll), bibingka (Filipino rice cake), puto bumbong (steamed, rectangular, purple rice cake) and salabat (hot ginger tea).

Other activities are (but schedules/prices/venue may be changed, so inquire beforehand):

  1. Carabao Parade and Race – A colorful parade which starts at 4 pm at Gate 2 and extends to the Beach Area every Saturday and Sunday. A carabao (Filipino swamp-type water buffalo) race and a “palosebo2” are also held at the Beach Area.
  2. Center of Filipino Arts and Culture – An exhibit at Casa Candaba, open daily from 9 am till 5 pm.
  3. Cockfighting – A famous Filipino pastime held every Sunday at 10am at the back of Casa Tondo.
  4. Cultural Show/Mini Fiesta – A show of traditional Filipino dances (maglalatik3, singkil4 and tinikling5) held every Saturday at Casa Hagonoy/Paseo de Escolta at 6 pm (sundown).
  5. Entertainment and Game Room – A room located at Casa Lubao, just a few steps away from Tulay ni Lola Basyang which offers billiards, darts and other board games free of charge, open daily, from 7 am till 7 pm. Contact a Game Coordinator for Filipino games like: patintero6, piko7, sipa8 or sungka9. Casa Lubao also offers fish feeding for 50 pesos.
  6. Fotografia de la Escolta – A professional in-house photography studio where you can schedule a photoshoot wearing the traditional baro’t saya10 or barong11.
  7. Music Shop – A guitar and ukulele shop located at Paseo de Escolta (beside Fotografia de la Escolta).
  8. Napiya Spa – The in-house spa and wellness center located at Paseo de Escolta (Room 212) which offers the traditional Filipino massages like “bentosa12”, “dagdagay13” and “hilot14”. It is open from 10 am till 9 pm.
  9. Pocket Performance – A performance held at the Tanghalang Tasulok every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 am/11:30 am/2:30 pm/4:30 pm.
  10. Sunday Mass – A Catholic mass held at the church called Santuario de San Jose every Sunday at 10:30 am.
  11. Swimming Pool and Beach Area – A “batis15”-inspired swimming pool open daily from 7 am till 9 pm; the Beach Area is open from 6 am till 6 pm daily.
  12. Water Activities – Activities such as banana boat, boat ride, island hopping, jet ski, kayaking and wakeboarding16, subject to weather and current conditions. Make it to Yasa Point for a zip line ride, ATV17 ride, mountain biking and wall climbing for the younger members of your family.

 

18-Las Casas-MarissaDG

This property is part of Historic Hotels Worldwide and part of the Conde Nast Jahansens Luxury Global Collection and Peninsula Hotel’s Pencities Luxe Guide. It is also the 2017 Asia Awards of Excellence winner.

17-Las Casas - Copy

Here are three “casas” and their stories:

11-A- Las Casas-Casa-ByzantinaCasa Byzantina, a 3-storey, intricately designed “floral” stone house from Binonda, Manila, built in 1890 by Don Lorenzo del Rosario, using Neo-Byzantine19 and Neo-Mudéjar20 influences with elaborate and delicate embellishments. It was demolished in 2009 and transferred to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

5-Las Casas-Casa Luna

Casa Luna, built in 1850 and owned by Primitivo Novicio, the uncle of the famous Luna brothers: General Antonio Luna (the first Filipino general who fought in the Philippine-American War) and Juan Luna (the renowned Filipino painter, sculptor and political activist). It was originally located in the municipality of Namacpacan (now Luna, in the province of La Union, named after the brothers). The house is symmetrically constructed and reflects the typical Ilocano18 stone house, with a “cochera” (a garage for carriages and “carrozas” as well as a storeroom for farm produce) at the ground floor, an “entresuelo” (a mezzanine for the servants), the main second floor for bedrooms, toilet and bath, the grand living room, kitchen, and an “azotea” (a flat roof/platform on the top of the house) at the back.

 

13-Las Casas-Casa Mexico-Pampanga

Casa Mexico-Pampanga, a stone house from the municipality of Mexico, in the province of Pampanga, salvaged from a junk shop and reconstructed based on an old photograph.

Overall and personally, this cultural escapade was memorable for me and my high school buddies. We had enough quality time to bond with each other amidst our leisurely strolls as well as “kalesa”/tram/jeepney rides. We had so many beautiful pictures to look back to in the years to come!

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced going to this destination site, either just for the day or overnight? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Thank you!

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1Tapas are small, savory Spanish dishes.

2Palosebo is a traditional Filipino game for boys during a town fiesta or on special occasions in the provinces using a long, straight, polished and greasy bamboo pole with a small bag or flag tied to the top as a reward to whoever could successfully climb, reach it, and retrieve the bag/flag.

3Maglalatik is a male folk dance from the Philippines where coconut shell halves are secured onto the dancers’ hands and on vests upon which are hung 4 or six more coconut shell halves. The dancers perform the dance by hitting one coconut shell with the other, alternately on the hands, on the shoulders and body, to the beat of a fast drumbeat. NOTE: The dance means “latik-maker”, from “latik”, a syrupy, caramelized coconut cream used as a dessert sauce or garnish, used in Filipino cookery.

4Singkil is a popular folk dance of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao (in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao),  performed during celebrations and other festive occasions, based on the epic legend, Darangen, the pre-Islamic Maranao interpretation of the ancient Hindu Indian epic, the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic poem which narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife, Sita, from the demon king Rayana. This dance was popularized by the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, the oldest dance company in the Philippines, founded in 1957 by Helena Z. Benitez and debuted at Expo ’58 on May 27, 1958, upon the request of President Ramon Magsaysay. Originally, only royal women danced the singkil, as a conscious or unconscious way of attracting potential suitors. A kulintang (an ancient musical instrument composed of a row of small, horizontally laid metal gong kettles, upon a rack, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums, played by striking the bosses of the gongs with 2 wooden beaters) and agung (an ensemble composed of large hanging, suspended or held, knobbed gongs which act as drones) ensemble always accompanies this dance. The female lead dancer gracefully steps in and out of closing bamboo poles arranged in either parallel, rectangular, or criss-cross fashion, while skillfully manipulating either a fan, scarf or by just artistically waving ones bare hands. NOTE: The name of the dance means “to entangle the feet with disturbing objects such as vines or anything in ones path.”

5Tinikling is a Filipino folk dance which involves 2 people beating, tapping, and sliding 2 or 4 parallel pairs of bamboo poles on the ground (or on 2 raised pieces of wood) held by 2 or more sitting or kneeling “clappers” or “clickers” as a percussion instrument, and against each other in coordination with two or more female dancers, wearing embroidered baro’t saya19, and male dancers wearing barong20, who step over and in between the poles, weave through the rapidly moving bamboo poles with bare feet and ankles, traditionally danced to rondalla music, an ensemble of stringed instruments (e.g., bandurrias, guitars, laúdes, octavinas or ukuleles). Traditionally, the poles are tapped twice on the ground on the first 2 beats then brought together on the 3rd beat, with the tempo progressing faster and faster. The dancers need to be skillful and agile not only to follow the rhythm but also not to get their ankles/feet caught between the poles as they are snapped closed. The barefoot dancers start with their hands at their hips or clasped behind their backs, but when the tempo becomes faster, they hold hands, then end by letting go of each other’s hands and stepping out of the moving bamboo poles. NOTE: Tinikling means “to perform like a ‘tikling’, a local bird” which walk gracefully and speedily between grass stems and run over tree branches.

6Patintero is a popular, traditional Filipino street game, using 2 teams, an attack and a defense team, with 5 players each. The attack team must try to run along the perpendicular lines from the home base to the back end, and return without being tagged by the defense players, called “it”. The latter must stand on water/fire lines with both feet each time they try to tag attacking players. The player at the center line is called “patotot”. The perpendicular line at the center allows the “it” designated on that line to intersect the lines occupied by the “it” that the parallel line intersects, thus increasing the chances of the runners to be trapped, even only one member of a group is tagged, the whole group will be the “it”.

7Piko is the Filipino version of hopscotch where players stand behind the edge of a rectangular box, and each should throw their “pamato” (cue ball or flat stone). The first to play is determined on the players’ agreement on the placement of the “pamatos” on a designated line/location and whoever throws the “pamato” nearest the agreed place, will play first. The next nearest is second, etc.

8Sipa is a traditional Filipino game where players kick or toss a washer covered with colorful threads using a foot. A player is thrown upwards and the player starts to toss the washer and counts the number of times s/he does it successfully without the washer touching the ground. The player who has the most kicks wins the game. Sipa literally means “kick”.

9Sungka is the Filipino mancala game played in a wooden board and cowrie shells or stones called “sigays”. A boatlike sungka board has 2 rows of 7 small pits called “bahay” (houses), initially with 7 “sigays”, with an additional bigger hole at both end of the board for each player, called an “ulo” (head) or “inay” (mother) or storehouse, for the captured seashells or stones, owned by a player to his/her left. A player empties one of his/her small pits and distributes its contents in a clockwise direction, one by one, into the following pits including his/her own storehouse but passing the opponent’s storehouse. If the last stone falls into a non-empty small pit, its contents are lifted and distributed in another lap. If the last stone falls into the player’s onw store, the player gets a bonus move. However, if the last stone falls into an empty pit, the move ends and the player is “patay” (dead). If the move ends by dropping the last stone into one of your own small pits, you capture the stones in the opponent’s pit directly across the board and your own stone. The captured shells are “subi” (deposited) in your storehouse. However, if the opponent’s pit is empty, nothing is captured. The first move is plated simultaneously, after which the players take turns alternately. The game ends when no stones are left in the small pits. The player who captures the most shells wins the game.

10Baro’t saya is the national dress of the Philippines traditionally made of piña (pineapple fiber); the feminine equivalent of the barong20. This conservative attire is composed of a blouse is called “baro”, with butterfly sleeves, and the skirt is called “saya”, generally fashioned out of opaque plaid or striped cotton and sinamay varieties. An “alampay” is a square kerchief usually made of the same fabric as the saya, worn over the “baro” to cover the breasts which also doubles as a veil, later called the “panuelo”. An overskirt made of a darker and thicker material called a “tapis” is wrapped around the lower half of the woman’s body and tied at the waist or below the breasts. It is the pre-colonial clothing of the Tagalogs and Visayans made of silk in matching colors, exclusively worn by women from the upper class; those belonging to the lower caste wore a “baro” made from pounded white bark fiber.

 

11Barong is the short term for barong Tagalog, the traditional, lightweight, long-sleeved, embroidered, formal shirt for Filipino males. It is worn untucked over an undershirt. It is considered the national dress of the Philippines.

12Bentosa is an ancient Chinese method used to remove aches and pains and improve the circulation by cupping. It is also spelled “ventosa”. It has 2 types: fire cupping and dry cupping. Fire cupping uses a cup or glass to suction the cold parts at the back of the body which lack blood circulation and have blockages so that they will have normal energy flow. It is executed with a glass cup, candle and oil. Massage oil is applied on the back to create a better seal on the cups, then a candle is lighted with a cotton candle ball on the top. Once the candle is lighted, the cup is placed over the candle so the oxygen is removed and the suction will appear when the skin bloats or puffs. The red marks that will appear after the cupping will disappear after 1-2 days. Dry cupping uses a glass/plastic cup on the skin using a pump so the air is removed by suction.

13Dagdagay is a traditional Filipino acupressure treatment for the legs and feet, originally from the Mountain Province of the Philippines, a way of accessing the body’s entire immune system through the soles of the feet. It begins with a soothing foot soak on healing herbs in a huge clay vessel and capped with a relaxing herbal foot wrap and massage. The therapist uses 2 bamboo or rattan sticks, in pack of finger pressure, to stimulate the soles and cleanse/purify the feet.

14Hilot is the ancient Filipino art of healing in rural areas where, originally, a “manghihilot” uses chiropractic manipulation and massage techniques to treat musculoskeletal ailments, to reset dislocated and sprained joints (ankle, fingers, knee and metacarpal bones). Modern spas use this technique to relieve stress and promote rejuvenation and balance the harmony of the body, emotion and mind, using warm strips of (naturally ionized) banana leaves laved with virgin coconut oil applied on the body before and after a session. The therapist identifies areas of energy imbalance in the body through touch diagnosis. A full body massage involves a combination of slow moving fingers and hand pressure over various pressure points throughout the back and legs, and relaxing the tension in the head and neck.

15A batis is the Tagalog term for a small stream, river or brook.

16Wakeboarding is a surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard21 over the surface of a body of water. It is a combination of snowboarding, surfing and water skiing. The wakeboard is usually towed behind a motorboat or personal water craft at a speed of 30-40 km/hr, depending on the board size, weight, and type of tricks.

17ATV, or All-Terrain Vehicle, is a vehicle that is designed to handle a wide variety of terrain and travels on 3-4 low-pressure tires with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control. The rider sits and operates it like a motorcycle and is stable at slower speeds. It is used in some destinations for a thrilling ride.

18Ilocano is a term which refers to the ethnolinguistic people who live, or come from, the Ilocos Region in the northwestern part of the island of Luzon7, in the Philippines.

19Neo-Byzantine is an architectural revival movement in the 1840s in Western Europe, prevalent among public and religious buildings, especially in Germany and Russia. It combines the Byzantine style with Eastern and Orthodox Christian architecture from the 5th till 11th centuries.

20Neo-Mudéjar is a type of Moorish Revival architecture which started in Madrid, Spain, in the late 19th century, and spread to the rest of that country. It is characterized by abstract-shaped brick ornaments for facades, arabesque tiles and horseshoe arches.

21A wakeboard is a small, mostly rectangular, buoyant and thin board with the core usually made of foam, honeycomb or wood, mixed with resin and coated with fiberglass. It has very little displacement and shoe-like bindings are mounted to it. Metal screws are inserted to attach bindings and fins.

 

 

 

Featured

EL NIDO: Heaven on Earth – Part 1

Location: Province of Palawan, MIMAROPA1 Region, Philippines

My husband and I visited Puerto Princesa2, Palawan3 years ago. The former is a first class, highly urbanized city located in the western province of Palawan, the westernmost city in the Philippines, with 66 barangays, and the capital of Palawan. The airport is located in this city and it is also known for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, named one of the New7Wonders of the Nature. Palawan is a province in the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA Region of the Philippines, founded in 1818, and is now called the Philippines’ Last Frontier.

We were invited by my high school buddies and their families to El Nido (a first-class municipality in the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan), from February 19 to 22, 2017. It was our first time to visit this wonderful destination known for its awesome coral reefs, white-sand beaches, unique lagoons and limestone cliffs.

We were likewise curious how tourism can thrive amidst the so-called El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA)4, the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines, covering 18 barangays in El Nido and 3 barangays of its neighboring town, Taytay, involving more than 900 sq. km, using various forest and marine conservation and protection programs, to protect and develop the livelihoods of the seaside local population, amidst the development of tourist in the area. A very small (50 US cents) daily conservation fee is required per visitor.

We heard so much about El Nido’s beauty so we did not hesitate to join the group to discover this new destination which was part of our bucket list.

21-El-Nido

Everything was pre-arranged by my very dependable and travel-savvy friend from the US so my husband and I just paid for our share. Here is the first part of our unforgettable adventure!

Our group arrived at the Puerto Princesa Airport and two vans were waiting for us provided by Daytripper Palawan. The mini-packs of banana chips, bottled water and, of course, the professional driving skills of our drivers were very much appreciated. It was about a 6-hour trip from the airport to El Nido, and we stopped a couple of times for the “call of nature”, to stretch a bit, as well as have our lunch. Some of us appreciated the view while some slept along the way.

We finally arrived at Sea Cocoon, our hotel, and we all checked-in. We used the remaining time to explore the town, its market and retail stalls, the beach, and savored its local and fresh seafood for dinner along a seaside restaurant. We slept early the previous night because this will be the first of our 3 day-tour that will take us around this awesome destination.

We had a good night’s rest after a hot shower and slept soundly on a comfortable bed in our air-conditioned room. We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and the hotel’s sumptuous buffet breakfast was so good!

I am also lucky to have a well-organized friend who even provided durable hard-plastic beach bags where I could place all my (and my husband’s) needs for the day: sun block, bottles of mineral water for hydration, comb, towels, sunglasses, well-protected cell phone and power bank, snacks, cash, etc. Photos were taken after breakfast, all met at the lobby, trooped to the beach (which was just about 3 minute-walk from our hotel) and before we knew it, we were all aboard our big banca (boat) for the day.

My friend contracted Hello El Nido for the 3 packaged tours and may I say that my husband and I were very satisfied with the services of the management and all the boatmen/crew. Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

It also seemed that the local government has standardized the packaged tours of El Nido which is beneficial for us, first-time tourists. Our tour that day is marketed as TOUR C – SECRET ISLANDS AND BEACHES, costing 1,400 pesos each person.

We wore our safety vests and enjoyed the natural beauty – 360 degrees! Worried that you cannot swim? Don’t be! You can stay in the banca but I do not recommend that and I am so sure you will not because of the beauty of all the stops. All destinations are safe for all ages and all stops are worth the trip! So, listen up, it’s our first packaged tour of El Nido and I know you will be excited with me as I recall our tour.

The first stop was SECRET BEACH which can only be accessed by swimming and going through a small crevice in a rock wall. No worries, dearest seniors, I gained weight and still fitted LOL! Besides, the kind boatmen will always be ready to assist you: seniors, kids, and whoever else needs assistance. Once inside, you will be awed by this pristine beach and its beauty and thus, a secret no more!

Next was HIDDEN BEACH, surrounded by fantastic limestone rock formations. You can just float with your life vest or swim, just be careful not to be near sharp corals.

The STAR OF TALISAY BEACH was the next stop. It is a snorkeling site and was also our lunch stop. Now, I am sure you are curious to know about the buffet lunch. Let me tell you that all such meals for our 3 package tours were soooo good, thanks to Hello El Nido! The freshly cooked “inihaw” (grilled) pork and seafood (shrimps/fish/squids), along with fresh vegetables/seaweed salad, hot steamed rice, and fresh fruits were always a welcome feast for our group! Burp! Drinking water was also provided. Happy tummies always! My best advice is for you to bring cash for fresh buko (young coconut) or cold softdrinks sold in island stops.

1-El-Nido- lunch buffet

The MATINLOC SHRINE or the SHRINE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, is located in an island maintained by the descendants of the original owner. Be prepared for a 100 peso-entrance fee. The shrine is serene and satisfies the religious among us seniors. The big old house seemed abandoned but you can imagine its splendor when it was new and operational. Our group went up a cemented area with steps leading to the peak where we had an unforgettable view for miles and miles!

Last was HELICOPTER ISLAND, a helicopter-shaped island when viewed from afar, ideal for snorkeling and diving.

This first packaged tour was indeed wonderful! Thanks, Gani Ricarte of http://www.helloelnido.com! Your kind boatmen returned us to our shores early so we can enjoy the majestic sunset in this picturesque island! We felt so lucky to have another dinner along the shore for us to breathe in all the good vibes while we savored the fresh seafood treats we ordered!

Did you find this post informative? Have you experienced this package tour? I would like to hear from you. Just scroll to the bottom of this post and type your comment in the designated box. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you.

Watch out for my next post and discover the other beautiful islands of El Nido!

Do visit my El Nido posts:

EL NIDO: Blue Lagoons – Part 2

and

EL NIDO: Islands and Caves – Part 3

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1MIMAROPA, according to the Wikipedia page, “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, is an administrative region of the Philippines which is an acronym for its constituent provinces: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. SOURCE: “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

2“Puerto Princesa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto Princesa.

3“Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

 4“El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El Nido,_Palawan.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

TAO YUAN RESTAURANT: YUMMY CHINESE-SINGAPOREAN TREATS

Location: 2/F Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City, Philippines

A niece of ours brought us to Resorts World Manila (an integrated resort*) in Pasay City and since it was almost lunch time and we were already hungry, she suggested we try this Chinese-Singaporean seafood restaurant at the second floor of Newport Mall. We said we were willing to try it and here is our dining experience for four.

The dining area was spacious, the air conditioning gave a comfortable ambiance and the head receptionist was very accommodating who led us to a table and graciously took our orders. I appreciated coming early for lunch because I heard that this place is popular and crowded during lunch and dinner.

1-Tao Yuan
Singaporean Fried Fish Skin

Our appetizer was Singaporean Fried Fish Skin and this is to die for!  The salted egg taste along with the crispy fish skin was so yummy so I told myself, this is definitely a Cheat Day for me due its generous portion and this was just for starters! It was worth 328 peso. We were not able to finish it so we asked this to be wrapped and we continued to enjoy it at home after being heated in the microwave, and was still so yummy!

2-Tao Yuan
Scallops with Minced Vegetable Soup

We just had a small order of Scallops with Minced Vegetable Soup and it was served at the right temperature, subtle yet delicious. The texture and delicate taste made this dish a delectable treat at 498 pesos.

3-Tao Yuan
Hainanese Chicken

We had half an order of their Singaporean Boneless Hainanese Chicken, a favorite among its customers. Now I know why! It is so tender and its delicate taste, along with the accompanying dips, makes you want to dig in for more. The 750 price was worth it.

4-Tao Yuan
Salted Fish and Diced Chicken

The Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Diced Chicken was tasty yet complemented the dishes we ordered so I enjoyed them all together or even just the fried rice alone! A small order costs 398 pesos.

5-Tao Yuan
Roasted Crispy Pork Belly

The Roasted Crispy Pork Belly was a winner! The crispy skin yet tender meat with its dip was just right for meat lovers. It costs 428 pesos.

6-Tao Yuan
Scallops with Broccoli Flowers

Scallops with Broccoli Flowers was ordered for someone craving for vegetables. Even the kid with us enjoyed this dish. The contrasting texture of the broccoli along with the smooth and the pleasantly-flavored scallops was a great combination. A small order costs 980 pesos.

We were given a complimentary dessert of almond lychee and it was refreshing with just the right sweetness, after all the dishes we enjoyed!

I just want to say that I paid for our meal and these are my personal comments based on the orders we made. It is a bit pricey but we had value for money and we were very satisfied! Happy tummies!

We will definitely come back to this restaurant and try their other dishes. I was told that dimsum is served in their other branch and would like to try it too.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in this restaurant or in any of its other branches? Do you know other Chinese restaurants you want me to feature? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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*An integrated resort is a type of resort which features lodging, gaming, convention failities, entertainment shows, fine dining outlets, high-end retail outlets, and theme parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now You Know: EL NIDO TOUR PACKAGES THEN AND NOW

To all those who plan to have a vacation in El Nido, did you know that there are changes in their standard tours? Well, Tita S wrote this post to compare the tour packages before and after November 27, 2018.

First of all, what I like about El Nido1 is that the tour operators agreed to standardize the types of tours, destinations therein, and cost per person. Thus, the tourist need not haggle nor feel shortchanged wondering if s/he paid more than other tourists did. Our resort even gave us a 20% discount for booking two tours with them.

You can either join a group tour (and find new friends) or charter a private boat (and enjoy the tours with family/friends on your terms, as to what spots to visit and the length of stay therein, as well as what food to eat).

The Eco-Tourism Fee2 is PHP200 and is good for 10 days. No worries, when you book your first day tour, this will be included already. This is a one-time payment for most tourists (who only stay for 10 days or less in El Nido). See a related post. Short and Simple: EL NIDO’S ECO-TOURISM DEVELOPMENT FEE

I wish Coron Island, a beautiful destination located in northern Palawan, would be able to follow suit. We had to haggle during our trip there last month to get the best deal for our tours (a difference of PHP100-200 per person among competitive tour operators there). I was told that there are still Coron tour operators who do not want to cooperate on a standardized rate. Let’s hope someday soon they will.

Back to El Nido1: most boat trips last about 7 hours, usually starting at 9:00 am and ending between 4:00-5:00 pm.

A beach towel and mask/snorkel are included in the package tour, so you need not bring either, unless you are very particular about using your own towel/swimming gear.

Lunch is also included in every tour, usually consisting of grilled fish/seafood, pork/chicken, rice, vegetables and fruits (banana, pineapple, or watermelon). A designated boatman grills the meat/seafood/vegetables at the rear of the boat, so you will get these freshly cooked and artistically presented/decorated just in time for lunch. For sure, you will want to eat a lot after swimming and snorkeling all morning!

Single-use plastic water bottles are banned from all tours nowadays and the MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority)is strict in ensuring that boats do not carry them. Tour operators have insulated containers with ice to chill reusable plastic water bottles/jugs with potable water. Tumblers are provided for each member of the tour. In one of the day tours we took, the operator also offered chilled small (glass) bottles of Coke but we declined. Definitely, no single-use plastics during island hopping in El Nido!

I personally brought my own eco-friendly reusable water container and filled it up with mineral/distilled water for every day tour during my December 2018 El Nido vacation. Why don’t you too? This way, you will be sure about the quality and safety of the water you drink while island hopping.

Anyway, there were only 4 standardized tour packages in El Nido1 before November 27, 2018:

  1. Tour A – PHP1,200/person – This was the most popular tour package of El Nido, and it showcased some of the area’s beautiful lagoons. Destinations included: Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island or Payong-payong Beach (for lunch), Entalula Island and 7 Commandos Beach. Snorkel/Swim all you want, subject to the schedule set by the tour guide and the conditions of the waters.

Take note, I used the past tense since this tour package was changed, effective November 2018. I will discuss that below.

This group tour was priced at PHP1,200 pesos; a private boat tour was PHP4,000-6,000, depending on the size of the group/boat. A kayak could be rented for PHP200 in the Big or Small Lagoon. If you notified your boatman when you arrived there, they would have arranged the kayak rental for you.

2. Tour B – PHP1,300/person – This nature-tripping package tour consists of the following stops: Cathedral Cave, Codugnon Cave, Pinagbuyutan Island (a very good snorkeling spot), Snake Island (the long narrow sandbar connecting mainland Palawan to Vigan Island is the main attraction), and sometimes, Entalula Island or Pangalusian Island.

3. Tour C – PHP1,400/person – This is another popular tour package as it features some of the best beaches of El Nido, perfect for swimmers and snorkelers. This is a long tour since Matinloc Island is one of the farthest limestone islands from the town proper.

Please take note that Matinloc Island faces the West Philippine Sea (which is prone to big waves), so ask your tour operator if the weather will be ideal for your selected date.

Other destinations include: Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine (you need to pay PHP100 entrance fee), Star Beach, Secret Beach, and Talisay Beach.

4. Tour D – PHP1,000-1,200/person – This package tour includes four beaches and a lagoon, mostly in mainland El Nido: Bukal Beach, Natnat Beach, Paradise Beach, Pasandigan Beach, and Cadlao Lagoon.

An inland tour is also offered in El Nido and is good for tourists who do not want to go island hopping. You can rent a motorcycle (PHP500 per day), tricycle (PHP1,500 for four persons), or a van (PHP3,000 for up to 12 persons). The main attractions are Calitang Twin Beach, Nacpan, and Nagkalit-kalit Falls. You can also go to Las Cabanas (for a memorable sunset) and/or Marimegmeg Beach. Do not forget to bring your own food/drinks.

Other tours could be arranged, like Overnight Camping, Combo Tour, Private Tour, or even an El Nido-Coron Adventure. It would be best to book ahead of time any of these tours, especially during peak season (December till March/April).

Take note that the tour guide/boatmen can make changes, depending on the number of people in a stop, the tide, or how calm the waters are. The MARINA personnel need to approve all boat trips prior to sailing.

Bottomline, if you only had 2 whole days to spend in El Nido, taking Tours A and C is suggested. But that was prior to November 27, 2018.

What happened on November 2018?

El Nido1 was rehabilitated but was not closed off, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT). There were many establishments that abided by government requirements and the local government took initiatives to address the town’s problems, so total closure was not necessary. Hurray to those who booked a vacation to El Nido starting November!

El Nido Municipal Administrator Dela Calzada said authorities would limit the number of tourists visiting key island destinations to preserve the area. The local government has set the tourist limit at the island’s Big Lagoon to 60 per hour with kayak trips at 30 per hour; and, for the Small Lagoon, at only 30 tourists and 15 kayak trips per hour.Oh no! Tour A, one of my favorite day tours, was affected!

The government has yet to determine the carrying capacity of El Nido as a whole, but funds for the study are already on standby, according to Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.4

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said the government will make sure that thousands of tourist boats will not spill wastewater nor oil into the bay.

Tour packages will also be redesigned to regulate the number of tourists. El Nido used to offer 4 standard tour packages, with 5 to 6 attractions per package; soon, there will be 7 tour packages with fewer destinations per package.4

In early 2018, single-use plastics, particularly water bottles, were banned from tour packages. Coast guard personnel shall inspect boats and confiscate plastic bottles before they are allowed to sail.4

Personally, I noticed that some (hard-headed?) tourists still bring single-use plastic water bottles. I think the tour guide should announce/remind beforehand that this is banned and reassure everyone that the operator’s chilled water is safe. To the tour operators, just be sure that your containers/tumblers are clean/sanitized and your source of water is safe. We don’t want any upset stomachs, do we?

So, what are the November 2018 package tours in El Nido?

There is a slight change in the tours but the stated price still includes lunch, mask/snorkel, and beach towel. We got the information below from our resort staff during our December 7-11, 2018 stay:

The Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon were separated in Tour A since a cap was made on the number of persons and kayaks that can enter per hour. Thus, there are now two Tour As:

TOUR A – Big– PHP1400/person – Big Lagoon, Simizu Island (lunch), Secret Lagoon, 7 Commandos Island, and Papaya Island. (inclusive of the P200/person entrance)befunky-collage-tour-a-enido-text

TOUR A – Small– PHP1400/person – Small Lagoon, Payong-Payong, Entalula Island, Papaya Island, 7 Commandos Island – inclusive of the P200/person entrance in the Small Lagoon and the PHP200 eco fee good for 10 days – see a related link: (I will place the link here)z-tour a - small - text

Tours B, C and D remain the same:

TOUR B – P1300/person – Snake Island, Codugnon Cave (lunch), Cathedral Cave, Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Beachz-tour b - el nido - text

Tour C – P1400/person – Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Star Beach (lunch), Hidden Beach, Helicopter Islandbefunky-collage-tour-c-enido-text

Tour D – P1200/person – Pasandigan Beach, Bucal Beach, Natnat Beach (lunch), Cadlao Lagoonz-tour d - el nido - text

Again, please take note that the guide/boatmen can make changes, depending on the number of people in a stop, the tide, or how calm the waters are.

During my December revisit I availed of only 3 tours, since I had first-time El Nido tourists with me. I will write a separate post about this visit.

Bottomline, if you only have 2 whole days to spend in El Nido, take Tour A-Big and Tour C. If you arrive in the early afternoon and still have some energy left after the 6-hour ride from Puerto Princesa, take the inland tour, to at least enjoy Nacpan, and savor the sunset (and even zipline) at Las Cabanas.

To the authorities who will finalize the tours, please make sure that the destinations are different for each package.

I will write another post should there be an official announcement regarding the 2019 tours of El Nido.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Have you experienced El Nido package tours before and/or after November 2018? Do you have immediate plans to revisit El Nido? Do share your comments about the tours you took. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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These footnotes are specially made for foreign viewers and those who want more information about the terms below:

1El Nido is a first class municipality5 in the province6 of Palawan7, in the Mimaropa Region8, in the Philippines, known for its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and awesome landscapes.9 It is considered the country’s last frontier, with the nickname “Heaven on Earth”. It was founded in 1916, has 45 islands10 and 18 barangays11, according to the Wikipedia page “El Nido, Palawan”.12

2El Nido’s Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF), or simply eco fee/tax, is PHP200 and is required to be paid when you go on an island hopping tour, valid for 10 days. It was established in 2008 and is used to finance the Eco-Tourism Development Fund geared towards environmental and tourism-related projects.13

3The Philippines’ Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is an agency of the Philippine government under the Department of Transportation. It was created on June 1, 1974, and is responsible for integrating the development, promotion and regulation of the maritime industry in the Philippines. See www.marina.gov.ph

4www.news.abs-cbn.com

5A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU), in the Philippines that has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province6, subdivided into barangays11, and is locally called “bayan”. In the Philippines, a municipality is headed by a mayor, a vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative branch). It can enact local policies and laws, enforce them, and govern its jurisdictions. It can enter into contracts and other transactions through its elected and appointed officials, and can tax as well. It enforces all local and national laws.

There are almost 1,500 municipalities in the Philippines and there are 6 income classes of municipalities in the Philippines: first class municipality (with at least 55 million pesos annual income; second class municipality (between 45-less than 55 million pesos annual income; third class municipality (between 35-less than 45 million pesos annual income; fourth class municipality (between 25-less than 35 million pesos annual income; fifth class municipality (between 15-less than 25 million pesos annual income; and, sixth class municipality (at most 15 million pesos annual income). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines”.14

6A province in the Philippines is divided into cities and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11, formerly called barrios, according to the Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines”.15

7Palawan is a provincelocated in the Mimaropa Region8 of the Philippines, founded in 1818. It is called the Philippines’ Last Frontier and its capital is Puerto Princesa, according to the Wikipedia page “Palawan”.16. It was chosen as the “World’s Best Island of 2017”17and of 201618 as well as of 2013 by Travel + Leisure travel magazine19. As early as 2007, National Geographic Traveler’s magazine chose Palawan as one of the best travel destinations in the world.20

8The Mimaropa Region is an administrative region of the Philippines which is an acronym for its constituent provinces6: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan7. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mimaropa”.21

9www.gmanetwork.com

10www.philstar.com

11A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner city neighborhood, a suburb, or a suburban neighborhood. The word barangay originated from the term “balangay”, a kind of boat used by a group of Austronesian people who migrated to the Philippines. A number of barangays grouped together is called a district. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Barangay”.22

12“El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

13www.elnidoparadise.com

14“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines.

15“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines.

16 “Palawan,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

17https://philnews.ph/2017/07/12/travel-leisure-magazine-ranked-palawan-worlds-best-island-2017/

18https://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best/islands#palawan-island-philippines

19https://issuu.com/filjapmag/docs/filjap_issue__10

20https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/content/71504/palawan-listed-among-world-s-best-tourist-sites/story/

21“Mimaropa,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

22“Barangay,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay.

Short and Simple: EL NIDO’S ECO-TOURISM DEVELOPMENT FEE

Island-hopping is the highlight of your El Nido1 adventure, and there are four standardized tour packages to choose from, with slight changes that started on the 27th of November 2018. Read a related post: Now You Know: EL NIDO TOUR PACKAGES THEN AND NOW

Did you know that part of the price you paid for your stay is the Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF), or simply eco fee/tax?

It started in 2008 to finance the Eco-Tourism Development Fund geared towards environmental and tourism-related projects.

A non-Palawan resident is charged PHP200 and is then issued a receipt in their name, valid for 10 days, or PHP500 for more than 10 days.

A Palawan2 resident must pay PHP100, valid for 10 days, but a Palawan resident-student is only required to pay on PHP50, valid for 10 days.

Do not be surprised if you will be charged this amount as part of the tour fee even before you board your tour boat for your first island hopping tour. Actually, all visitors are required to pay this fee before going to any tourist destination within El Nido.

The municipality3 claims that it would cost PHP10 million a year to effectively protect El Nido’s environment – all 92,000 hectares, 45 islands, 2,645 hectares of mangrove forest, 447 species of coral, 888 species of fish, 5 species of marine turtles, and  114 species of birds.4

The breakdown of the ETDF is as follows: 50% goes to environment and tourism-related projects, 10% to barangay5 eco-tourism projects, 10% to the Protected Area Management Board, 10% to the general fund of the municipal government, and 20% to implementing costs.4

The ETDF Task Force manages the collection and disbursement of this fee, composed of representatives of government office, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations.4

So, to all El Nido visitors, just be glad that you are enjoying the beauty of El Nido and that part of what you paid for your tour will be used to preserve the environment, for the future generations to enjoy as well.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

These footnotes are specially made for foreign viewers and those who want to know more about the terms below:

1El Nido is a first class municipality3 in the province6 of Palawan2, in the Mimaropa Region7, in the Philippines, known for its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and awesome landscapes.8 It is considered the country’s last frontier, with the nickname “Heaven on Earth”. It was founded in 1916, has 45 islands9 and 18 barangays5. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “El Nido, Palawan”.10

2Palawan is a provincelocated in theMimaropa Region7 of the Philippines and was founded in 1818. It is called the Philippines’ Last Frontier and its capital is Puerto Princesa, according to the Wikipedia page “Palawan”.11. It was chosen as the “World’s Best Island of 2017”12 and of 201613, as well as of 2013, by Travel + Leisure travel magazine.14 As early as 2007, National Geographic Traveler’s magazine chose Palawan as one of the Best Travel Destinations in the World.15

3A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU), in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province6, subdivided into barangays5, and is locally called “bayan”. In the Philippines, a municipality is headed by a mayor, a vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative branch). It can enact local policies and laws, enforce them, and govern its jurisdictions. It can enter into contracts and other transactions through its elected and appointed officials and can tax as well. It enforces all local and national laws.

There are almost 1,500 municipalities in the Philippines and there are 6 income classes of municipalities in the Philippines: first class municipality (with at least 55 million pesos annual income; second class municipality (between 45-less than 55 million pesos annual income); third class municipality (between 35-less than 45 million pesos annual income); fourth classmunicipality (between 25-less than 35 million pesos annual income); fifth class municipality (between 15-less than 25 million pesos annual income); and, sixth class municipality (at almost 15 million pesos annual income). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines”.16

4www.elnidoparadise.com

5A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner-city neighborhood, a suburb, or a suburban neighborhood. The word barangay originated from the term “balangay”, a kind of boat used by a group of Austronesian people who migrated to the Philippines. A number of barangays grouped together is called a district. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Barangay”.17

6A province in thePhilippines is divided into cities and municipalities3 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays5, formerly called barrios, according to the Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines”.18

7The Mimaropa Region is an administrative region of the Philippines. Mimaropa is an acronym for its constituent provinces6: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan2. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mimaropa”.19

8www.gmanetwork.com

9www.philstar.com

10“El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

11 “Palawan,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

12https://philnews.ph/2017/07/12/travel-leisure-magazine-ranked-palawan-worlds-best-island-2017/

13https://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best/islands#palawan-island-philippines

14https://issuu.com/filjapmag/docs/filjap_issue__10

15https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/content/71504/palawan-listed-among-world-s-best-tourist-sites/story/

16“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines.

17“Barangay,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay.

18“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines.

19“Mimaropa,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

Taal, Batangas, Philippines: THE MIRACULOUS WELL OF STA. LUCIA

The Miraculous Well of Sta. Lucia is a spring-fed well where two women saw the reflection of the Virgin of Caysasay. The well is located in Barrio Caysasay, in the heritage town of Taal, in the province of Batangas, in the Philippines.

It can be accessed from the San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay. A narrow walkway from the steps leads visitors to the well.

I joined a heritage tour of the town of Taal and this well was part of the itinerary. My group consisted of my college buddies and their partners. It was late morning when we walked up the many steps of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps from the shrine to the well. The walk up was tiring due to the temperature and humidity.

It is best to bring bottled water, a hat or folding umbrella, or even a battery-operated hand fan, especially for those who sweat easily. Bringing an extra t-shirt or blouse is also advisable since the heritage tour entails a lot of walking as well as going in and out of air-conditioned museum-houses. All of these items could be stashed in a small backpack.

A-Shrine-6-postAt some point along the steps, we were instructed to turn left where we had to go over a knee-high concrete boundary (see cemented elevation, right part of photo). Members of our group supported each other by helping those who found it difficult to step up then down the said boundary.

BeFunky-collageThis led to a shaded pathway going along private houses. Signs showed the way and indicated that we were nearing our coveted destination.

Z-well-4Along the way to the well, you will see a statue of Our Lady, with rosaries left by devotees

Z-well-5                       The Prayer to Our Lady of Caysasay, on the wall near the well

Z-well-6-okLots of flowers offerings … You can also buy candles from the peddlers in the Shrine, light it, and leave it nearby, on your way to the miraculous well

I was sweating but was keen on reaching the miraculous well with my buddies. I estimate that it took us about 15 minutes to reach the well from the shrine.

Anyway, we finally reached the site. We went up through a narrow passage, then downward towards the well. There were many people around the well.

BeFunky-collage (2)On a shallow, cemented, and exposed portion of the well, two men were scooping water using buckets attached to long wooden-poles and then pouring the “miraculous” water into a container for religious visitors to dip their handkerchiefs or hands.

Devotees then dabbed the precious water on any part of their bodies that needed healing. I must confess that I dabbed water on almost all over my body to make sure I did not miss any spot. I figured it will not hurt me to do so since I traveled all the way to get there, so what the heck!

A small container was available for voluntary contributions to the men who continuously scooped water from the well.

Some people bring a small container and fill it up with the water to give to anyone far away who cannot go to the well themselves, so they may, in turn, also avail of this “miraculous water”. Thus, for the more elder senior citizens in the Taal Heritage Tour who feel that they cannot physically undergo this experience, I suggest they just wait at the shrine and ask someone to fill a small water container from the well for them.

Here are 3 facts about theMiraculous Well of Sta. Lucia:

  1. Since its discovery, many have attested that the spring water has miraculous healing and therapeutic powers.
  2. The spot in the well that reflected the image of Our Lady, is marked by a coral stone arch with a bas relief image of the Virgin on its face. The arch was built in early 1600.
  3. The site of the well is known as “Banal naPook” (Sacred Site) and vestiges of the spring running close to the well is known as “Banal na Tubig” (Sacred Water).

I paid for my tour so this is not a sponsored post.

The information was obtained from my hardworking and knoweledgable tour guide, Mr. Art Mojica (09165378973 and atmojica660@yahoo.com) and the Wikipedia page “Our Lady of Caysasay”.* Contact Art for an enlightening heritage tour of Taal.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Have you ever been to this well? Did any miracle happen to you? Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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*” Our Lady of Caysasay,” accessed July 3, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Caysasay.

Say, Say, Say: NO BORACAY-LIKE CLOSURE FOR EL NIDO

Have you booked a vacation in El Nido for the end of 2018 or for the first half of 2019? Are you alarmed by the current news about its rehabilitation and afraid that your dream vacation in this beautiful island will be affected?

Well, fret no more! Here are some updates and tips, since I am also affected with my December 7-11scheduled vacation to this designated “best beach and island destination”.1

Let’s look back on this year (2018):

  1. In February, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) MIMAROPA2 formed Task Force El Nido to address the environmental problems of the island, prioritizing the delineation of the standard easement zones and timberland areas, the degradation of water quality in Bacuit Bay3, garbage disposal, unregulated construction of structures, and the wastewater management.4
  2. In March4:

(a) Malacañang urged the local government and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to immediately demolish illegal structures built along the town’s foreshore in violation of zoning and easement laws, and to take the initiative in implementing environmental laws;

(b) the local government underwent a cleanup drive and regulated the use of plastics, cellophane and Styrofoam as food and drink containers, among others;

(c) DENR Secretary Cimatu ordered the eviction of 32 businesses5 found to have been in violation of the 3-meter coastal easement provided under the Philippine Water Code for classified urban areas like El Nido, inspite of an order from local officials that gave a grace period to the affected establishments before they voluntarily demolish the structures;

(d) the Task Force issued 407 eviction notices to structures built on declared easement zones and forestlands and served violation notices to 253 establishments found non-compliant with laws regulating wastewater discharge and easement compelling them to pay penalties ranging from PHP20,000 to 200,000 per day. Erring establishment owners were given time to comply through technical conferences facilitated by the regional Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

3. Thereafter, national government officials met with local officials to discuss several problems, especially overcrowding and pollution in the lagoons due to the large influx of tourists (peaking at over 200,000 in 2017), as well as cooking and throwing trash.

4. President Duterte told Palawan residents to impose stricter regulations and put a cap on the number of tourists to protect its natural wonders.

5. In May, the town and DENR cleared the main beach in Bacuit Bay so it is now accessible to tourists.

6. In August, a photo of garbage floating around the Secret Lagoon went viral on social media.6 Actually, 140 sacks of foreign plastic trash were collected, mostly (70%) plastic bottles of foreign origin that found their way into the Secret Lagoon on Miniloc Island. Other debris were Styrofoam, rubber scraps, plastic wrappers, nylon and ropes. A DENR official said that the waste was carried by ocean currents and strong winds, made stronger by monsoon rains that hit Palawan. This led to a cleanup drive by the owners and workers of local tourist establishments and members of the Philippine Coast Guard.

7. In October, the local government demolished 95% of illegal structures in the town proper’s easement zone, according to Municipal Administrator Rene Jay Dela Calzada. He added that these structures were legal until the shoreline receded due to the gradual rise in sea level.7

8. In November, water pollution levels around the main beach area in the island have gone down significantly, according to the latest tests conducted by the EMB. DENR MIMAROPA said the results of water tests in Barangays Corong-Corong, Maligaya and Masagana in Bacuit Bay, after 7 months of Task Force El Nido’s monitoring and cleanup drive, indicated that the fecal coliform levels had gone down to “normal”. However, Barangay Buena Suerte, a populated area, has a fecal coliform level of 1,600 MPN (most probable number) per 100 millimeters, and still needs to be improved, based on the prescribed 100 MPN.

The local government also intensified its crackdown on illegal tour operators and have started apprehending boat tour operators with no proper documents.7

9. On November 28, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año went to El Nido to discuss the rehabilitation plans for the island with the local government officials, just like what they did in Boracay.

What’s next, especially in the next 6 months?

  1. El Nido will be rehabilitated but will not be closed off, according to the Department of Tourism. There are many establishments that abide by government requirements and the local government took initiatives to address the town’s problems, so total closure is not necessary.

Environment Secretary Cimatu said that he ordered the deployment of 50 personnel from the DENR to conduct a baseline assessment of El Nido and oversee the rehabilitation effort.4

The government is preparing an executive order to be issued by President Duterte detailing the rehabilitation plan for El Nido. The DENR will also ask the national government to allocate funds for activities that the town would need, including a plan to transfer the local port.4

Secretary Cimatu, on November 28, 2018, gave local officials 6 months to complete a rehabilitation program to rid the town’s beaches of pollution and enforce environmental compliance of commercial establishments. By then, the town’s water treatment and sewerage project would have been completed.4

2. It was reported that 22 establishments will be closed due to various violations. Fifty other establishments will be strictly monitored by DENR.4,7

3. El Nido Municipal Administrator Dela Calzada said authorities would soon limit the number of tourists visiting key island destinations to preserve the area.

The local government has set the tourist limit at the island’s Big Lagoon to 60 per hour with kayak trips at 30 per hour; and, for the Small Lagoon, at only 30 tourists and 15 kayak trips per hour.7

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said the government will make sure that thousands of tourist boats will not spill wastewater and oil into the bay.

4. Tour packages will also be redesigned to regulate the number of tourists. El Nido used to offer 4 standard tour packages, with 5 to 6 attractions per package; soon, there will be 7 tour packages with fewer destinations per package.7

5. Early this year, single use plastics in tour packages, particularly water bottles, have been banned. Coast guard personnel inspect boats and confiscate plastic bottles before they are allowed to sail.7

6. An interagency body is set to undertake a massive cleanup of El Nido.4,7 The DENR will follow the same time frame it employed in rehabilitating Boracay Island since it has the same problems: quality of water, improper sewage system, and easement violations. DENR Secretary Cimatu said that the rehabilitation of El Nido will only cover small areas with minimum government intervention.7

7. DENR will continue its campaign against erring establishments off Bacuit Bay3, hopefully, by the end of the year.4

8. The government has yet to determine the carrying capacity of El Nido, but funds for the study are already on standby, according to Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.7

9. DENR Secretary Cimatu is pushing for a 20-meter no-build zone. He said the current 3-meter easement zone from the shoreline should be adjusted “to allow tourists to enjoy the sand and the view with enough space,” as a tourist destination. Unfortunately, land titles were issued by the DENR in the 1980s/earlier.7

10. The local government is building a centralized sewage treatment plant that is expected to be operational in 2019.7

11. The government is pushing for the strict implementation of Municipal Ordinance No. 29, or the sanitation ordinance, that prohibits any house or establishment from discharging liquid waste directly to the ocean, according to Mayor Nieves Rosento.7

12. A dedicated security task force is also in the pipeline to ensure the safety of all tourists visiting the islands.4

So, what should tourists do when visiting El Nido, starting December 2018?

  1. Be a responsible tourist. Be cooperative; follow all new guidelines as well as rules/regulations set by the local government/Task Force El Nido, if any.
  2. Be an eco-warrior: bring your personal refillable water bottle. Remember, single use plastic water bottles are banned during island hopping.
  3. Drink alcoholic beverages only in licensed establishments. Do not drink on the beach to avoid generating trash and broken glass.
  4. Do not litter. Keep your garbage until you find a trash can.
  5. Smoke only in designated places and properly dispose of your cigarette butts.
  6. Respect the environment. Do not collect shells, sand, and other natural resources.
  7. Leave only footprints. Just keep taking photos and videos of the beautiful landscape and flora/fauna.
  8. Level your expectations, be patient and understanding. Bear in mind that El Nido is undergoing rehabilitation so there would be on-going construction, repairs, etc. Just remember that all these projects are for sustainable tourism in the municipality, for future generations to visit, appreciate and enjoy.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Are you a responsible traveler? Do you have any other tips for El Nido travellers? Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1CNNGo named El Nido as the “Best Beach and Island Destination in the Philippines” for its “extraordinary natural splendor and ecosystem,” according to the Wikipedia page “El Nido, Palawan”.8

2MIMAROPA, or the Southwestern Tagalog Region (as of 2016), is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon, with Calapan as its regional center. It has 6 local government units (LGUs): Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Puerto Princesa (a city in Palawan), and Romblon. This region was formerly called Region IV-B (2002-2016). NOTE: MIMAROPA is an acronym for this region’s provinces: MIndoro (Occidental and Oriental), MArinduque, ROmblon, PAlawan.

3Bacuit Bay is a huge archipelago or group of 45 limestone islands clustered together, offering clear and cool watershome to interesting marine life and coral reefs, plus captivating beaches, marble cliffs, awesome lagoons, mangrove forests, enchanting dive sites, caves, among others. It is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The largest town in the vicinity is El Nido so tourists enter this bay through that town.9

4www.newsinfo.inquirer.net

5A municipal order was served on March 2018 to the following establishments7:

  1. Amigo’s Inn
  2. Engel Nido
  3. Angel Wish
  4. Caalan Beach Resort
  5. Cadlao Resort
  6. Cadlao Resort Extension
  7. Café Athena
  8. Chislyk
  9. El Nido Beach Resort
  10. El Nido Boutique Art and Café
  11. El Nido Garden
  12. El Nido Reef Strand Resort
  13. Golden Monkey
  14. Hadefe Beach Resort
  15. Hidden Beach Resort
  16. Isla Expeditions
  17. Jarace Grill
  18. Kalinga Beach Resort
  19. La Salanganne
  20. Lally And Abet Extension
  21. Linda Leona Store
  22. Mezzanine El Nido
  23. Nido Bay Inn
  24. Organic Spa
  25. Palawan Pawnshop
  26. Prince’s
  27. Relucio Inn
  28. Rosanna’s Pension
  29. Shorepass Lodge
  30. Sonny Sails
  31. The Nest
  32. TTD Store

These establishments were given 30 days to vacate and demolish their property that crossed the 3-meter easement zone. I still need to find an article regarding an update on these establishments.

6www.news.mb.com.ph

7www.news.abs-cbn.com

8“El Nido, Palawan,” accessed October 26, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

9www.elnidotourism.com

Photo Credit: Some photos in the featured collage image were obtained from Gani Ricarte of Hello El Nido! Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

2019 Philippine Holidays and Long Weekends … Plan Now and Travel More!

Wandering Filipino Senior Citizens (SCs), the year 2019 is in our favor!

Just look at my table below and see all the long weekends! There are 7 long weekends but if your working travel companion/s will be able to take a leave, you can all enjoy 10 long weekends in 2019!

Actually, you can even stretch it to 14 long weekends, provided that your working travel buddies can take a leave of two days off before/after the holidays which fall on a Wednesday – Labor Day (May 1), Eidul Fitr (June 5 – to be officially announced), Independence Day (June 12), and Ninoy Aquino Day (August 21).

So, what are you waiting for, holiday-loving Seniors? Start planning your 2019 trips! Let’s go!

    Holidays        Day 1         Day 2         Day 3         Day 4
 

Rizal Day2018

and

New Year 2019

 

December 29, 2018

(Saturday)

December 30, 2018

Rizal Day

(Sunday)

National Regular Holiday2

December 31, 2018

 New Year’s Eve

(Monday)

Special Non-Working Day3

January 1, 2019

 New Year (Tuesday)

National Regular Holiday

Chinese New Year  

February 2

(Saturday)

 

 

February 3

(Sunday)

 

February 4

(Monday)

Take a leave, if still working

February 5

(Tuesday)

Special Non-Working Day

People Power Anniversary4

(EDSA Revolution Anniversary)

 

February 23

(Saturday)

 

 

February 24

(Sunday)

 

February 25

(Monday)

Special Non-Working Day

 Araw ng Kagitingan5

(Day of Valor)

April 6

(Saturday)

 

April 7

(Sunday)

 

April 8

(Monday)

Take a leave, if still working

April 9

(Tuesday)

National Regular Holiday

  Holy Week6 April 18

Maundy Thursday7

National Regular Holiday

April 19

Good Friday8

National Regular Holiday

April 20

Black Saturday9

(Saturday)

Special Non-Working Day

April 21

Easter

Sunday

 Observance

 Labor Day10 May 1

(Wednesday)

National Regular Holiday

Eidul Fitr11 June 5

(Wednesday)

National Regular Holiday

This date is tentative and will only be confirmed once the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) informs the President’s office of the actual day and a proclamation is made thereafter.
 

Independence Day12

June 12

(Wednesday)

National Regular Holiday

Eid

al-Adha13

August 10

(Saturday)

 

August 12

(Monday)

Feast of the Sacrifice

National Regular Holiday

This date is tentative and will only be confirmed once the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) informs the President’s office of the actual day and a proclamation is made thereafter.

 

August 11

(Sunday)

 

Ninoy Aquino Day14 August 21

(Wednesday)

Special Non-Working Day

 

National Heroes’ Day15

August 24

(Saturday)

 

August 25

(Sunday)

 

August 26

(Monday)

National Regular Holiday

 

 

All Saints’/Souls’ Day

November 1

All Saints’ Day16

(Friday)

Special Non-Working Day

November 2

All Souls’ Day17

(Saturday)

Special Non-Working Day

November 3

(Sunday)

 

Bonifacio

Day18

November 30

(Saturday)

National Regular Holiday

December 1

(Sunday)

Feast of the Immaculate Conception19 December 8

(Sunday)

Special Non-Working Day

 

 

Christmas

 

December 22

(Sunday)

 

December 23

(Monday)

 

December 24

Christmas Eve

(Tuesday)

Special Non-Working Day

December 25

Christmas Day

(Wednesday)

National Regular Holiday

 

Rizal

Day12019

and

New

Year

2020

 

December 28

(Saturday)

 

December 30

Rizal Day

(Monday)

National Regular Holiday

December 31

New Year’s Eve

(Tuesday)

Special Non-Working Day

January 1, 2020

New Year (Wednesday)

National Regular Holiday

December 29

(Sunday)

 

I will update this calendar, should it be necessary, if/when other subsequent official proclamations are made by the Office of the President of the Philippines.

Start planning for your 2019 travels, Wandering Senior Citizens! See you around …

Did you find this post informative? Do you have suggestions about where to go during these holidays? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

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1Rizal Day is a day dedicated to honor the heroic death anniversary of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. This is considered a fixed National Regular Holiday2, held every December 30.

2A National Regular Holiday is a holiday which has a fixed date and is celebrated yearly in the Philippines like Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. See the table for holidays declared as such.

3A Special Non-Working Dayis a non-working day/holiday in the Philippines, enacted by Congress or declared by the President of the Philippines. See the table for dates declared as such.

4EDSA Revolution Anniversary, or the People Power Revolution, is a Special Non-Working Day3 held every February 25. It was actually a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines from February 22-25, 1986, mostly in the famous highway, EDSA, short for Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. It is considered a non-violent revolution which eventually led to the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos.

5Araw ng Kagitingan, or Day of Valor, is a fixed National Regular Holiday2 held every April 9. It commemorates the Fall of Bataan during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, and honors the courage of Filipinos and Americans during World War II. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Public Holidays in the Philippines”.20

6Holy Week in the Philippines is called “Mahal na Araw” in Filipino or “Semana Santa” in Spanish. It starts with Palm Sunday and ends on Black/Holy Saturday9. For 2019, Holy Week will be from April 14 till April 20, followed by Easter Sunday.

7Maundy Thursday, or “Huwebes Santo”, is a National Regular Holiday2 in the Philippines. It will be celebrated on April 18 for 2019. This day marks the beginning of the Paschal Triduum (the 3-day period that recalls the passion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus). The Procession of the Passion of Christ, the Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper, the re-enactment of the “Washing of the Feet of the 12 Apostles” and Visita Iglesia (Spanish for “Church Visit”, a traditional 7-church visitation by Catholics) are held on this day. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Holy Week in the Philippines”.21

8Good Friday is the Friday of Holy Week6 which is observed in the Philippines as a National Regular Holiday2. It will be celebrated on April 19 for 2019. This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his subsequent death. Filipino Catholics observe this day with solemn street processions, the recitation of the Pasyon (an uninterrupted “singing” of the Philippine epic narrative of the life of Jesus Christ), the Way of the Cross, the commemoration of Jesus’ Seven Last Words and the Senakulo (a Passion Play depicting the trial, suffering and death of Jesus Christ). The highlight of the day is the Santo Entierro (“Holy Interment”) where the statue of the dead Christ is brought around town, followed by images of saints, with the image of the Virgin Mary, in black and gold, always the last image in the procession. Towns in the Philippines have their own ways of celebrating this day. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Holy Week in the Philippines”.21

9Black/Holy Saturday is the Saturday of Holy Week which is observed in the Philippines as a Special Non-Working Day3. This day marks the period of the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection. It is also called “Sabado de Gloria”. It will be celebrated on April 20 for 2019.

10Labor Day, or “Araw ng Manggagawa”, is a fixed National Regular Holiday2 held every May 1 in the Philippines. Labor organizations and unions usually hold protests in major cities in the country. This is also a day when the President announces good news in favor of workers nationwide.

11Eid al-Fitr is the end of the month-long fast during Ramadan22among Filipino-Muslims, along with Muslims worldwide. It will be celebrated on June 5 for 2019. It means “feast of breaking the fast”. It originated from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as thanksgiving to Allah. It was declared as a national regular holiday2 in the Philippines in 2002. The date of celebration varies yearly because it is based on the Islamic calendar “Hijra” and is also dependent on the lunar calendar. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Eid al-Fitr”.23

12Independence Day, or “Araw ng Kalayaan”, is a National Regular Holiday2 held every June 12. It is dedicated to the anniversary of the proclamation of the Philippine Declaration of Independence on June 12, 1898. TRIVIA: From 1947 to 1964, Philippine Independence Day was celebrated on July 4. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Public Holidays in the Philippines”.20

13Eid al-Adha is the Muslim celebration that honors the willingness of Ibrahim to obey Allah. It will be celebrated on August 12 in 2019. It also commemorates the end of the Hajj (the required Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) when Muslims sacrifice a camel, cow, goat or sheep to be sent to the poor as a donation. It was declared as a national regular holiday2 in the Philippines in 2002. Just like Eidul Fitr11, the date of celebration varies yearly because it is based on the Islamic calendar “Hijra” and is also dependent on the lunar calendar. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Eid al-Adha”.24

14Ninoy Aquino Day is held every August 21 and is considered a fixed Special Non-Working Day3. It is the celebration of the anniversary of the assassination/death of Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1983 which eventually led to the People Power Revolution4 in 1986 and the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Public Holidays in the Philippines”.20

 15National Heroes’ Day, or “Araw ng mgaBayani”, is a National Regular Holiday2held every last Monday of August so for 2019, it will be held on August 26. It commemorates the anniversary of the 1896 Cry of Pugad Lawin25 by the Katipunan26 which started the Philippine Revolution27.This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Heroes Day”.28

16All Saints’ Day is a fixed National Regular Holiday2 held every November 1 in the Philippines. It is also called Undas, Todos los Santos, or Araw ng mga Santo. Filipinos visit the memorial parks/cemeteries to honor and remember their dearly departed loved ones, as well as to get-together with family and other loved ones, often returning to their provinces to do so.

17All Souls’ Day is a fixed Special Non-Working Day3 held every November 2 in the Philippines. It is also called the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, referring to the souls of all Christians who passed away. However, generally, Filipinos traditionally visit the cemeteries on November 1.

18Bonifacio Day is the celebration of the birth of Andres Bonifacio29, held every November 30. This day is considered a fixedNational Regular Holiday2.

19The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a traditional Catholic feast date, held every December 8. It honors the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Patroness of the Philippines and the sinless mother of Jesus Christ. It was first observed as a Special Non-Working Day3 in 2018. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Public Holidays in the Philippines”.20

20“Public Holidays in the Philippines”. accessed March 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Holidays_in_the_Philppines.

21“Holy Week in the Philippines,” accessed March 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week_in_the_Philippines.

22Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar; a month of fasting for all Muslims worldwide to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammud. It lasts from 29-30 days, depending on the visual sightings of the crescent moon. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ramadan”.30

23“Eid al-Fitr,” accessed March 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Fitr.

24“Eid al-Adha,” accessed March 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_al-Adha.

25The Cry of Pugad Lawin, or the Cry of Balintawak, refers to first clash between the Katipuneros (members of the Katipunan26) and the Spanish Civil Guards, which is considered the start of the Philippine Revolution27 against the Spanish Regime (1521-1898) in the country. On August 23, 1896, the Katipuneros tore up their community tax certificates (“cedulas”) in defiance of their allegiance to Spain, amidst patriotic shouts. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cry of Pugad Lawin”.31

26The Katipunan is the Philippine revolutionary secret society founded by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892 which aimed to gain independence from Spain through a revolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Katipunan”.32

27The Philippine Revolution is the revolution that started in 1896 when the Spaniards discovered the Katipunan26, and ended in 1898.

28“Heroes’ Day,” accessed March 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroes’_Day.

29Andres Bonifacio (1863-1897) was a Filipino revolutionary leader and president of the Tagalog Republic (a revolutionary government involved in the Philippine Revolution27 against Spain and the Philippine-American War, established in 1896) as “Supremo” (Supreme Leader). He was also called “The Father of the Philippine Revolution”. This information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Andres Bonifacio”.33

30“Ramadan,” accessed March 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan.

31“Cry of Pugad Lawin,” accessed March 6, 2018,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cry_of_Pugad_Lawin.

32“Katipunan,” accessed March 6, 2018,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katipunan.

33“Andres Bonifacio,” accessed March 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andres_Bonifacio.

Photo Credits: The collage consists of pictures from the following sources: http://www.gmanetwork.com, http://www.ibtimes.ph, http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph, and http://www.philstar.com

Say, Say Say: THE NATIONAL HIGHWAYS IN THE PHILIPPINES

“Our roads and sidewalks must only be used by motorists and pedestrians.” – declared Department of Public Works and Highways National Capital Region Director Melvin B. Navarro, on August 2017, during a clearing operation along Road Radial 10 (R-10) in Manila

Hello, dearest Seniors! Can you recall the road trips you’ve done around our beautiful country? Religious pilgrimages during Holy Week, going back to one’s town during fiestas, riding a bus all the way to the northern or southern parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, all these and more enable us to appreciate the landscape and local culture of towns along the route.

However, I am sure you have experienced times when your vehicle was cruising along the national highway passing through a town or city and suddenly, your driver slows down and this goes on for several kilometers.

All passengers in the vehicle eventually become impatient due to the slow pace until finally, the driver gets to overtake, only to find out that a tricycle was at the front of the long line of vehicles, occupying the leftmost lane, or worse, the only lane.

Your driver desperately wants to overtake but cannot, due to the continuous flow of vehicles going in the opposite direction, or the zigzagging or winding road. Either instance would make it difficult and dangerous to do so.

Luckily, you might find yourself in towns with well paved 2-lane national roads. I personally feel elated when the roads are widened from one lane to at least double lanes. However, sometimes, when one goes along these newly paved streets, one will observe that vehicles cannot use the rightmost lane because of “obstructions”: old/existing electric poles at the center of the extended lane; old trees that might have been there for the longest time but with delays in their removal due to environmental technicalities; “palay” (harvested, unhusked rice) being sun-dried; parked vehicles fronting commercial establishments whose building permits have been approved without a provision for appropriate parking space; extensions of small and medium enterprises like carinderias and related/transient eateries, vulcanizing shops, carwashes, roadside fruit/pasalubong stands; and, even tents of homes with on-going wakes providing karaoke and dining tables for visitors.

A-road obstruction-1-okNewly cemented road for road widening project but look – electric poles at the center of the 2 new lanes along with cars parked, so what is the use of these new lanes?

Just imagine all these obstructions, compounded by jeepneys, provincial buses, vehicles carrying perishables to/from towns/cities, slow tricycles along the leftmost lane, and motorcycles with unprotected drivers and passengers (which might include a wife and one child to two children). In addition, some drivers of the two and three-wheeled mentioned vehicles treat the broken white line divider as their personal lane. So tell me, how can a driver comfortably and safely drive/maneuver along our country’s national highways?

SUVs, or larger vehicles, have difficulty using the leftmost lane with slow-moving vehicles also using said lane since the right lane has obstructions. Furthermore, fast-paced motorcycle drivers have the tendency to overtake at the right side of the road which might cause accidents if the drivers cruising along the correct lanes need to turn right and fail to see fast-approaching motorcycles.

Sounds familiar? Gosh, I have witnessed all these while driving from Lumban to Calamba (both in the province of Laguna), before entering SLEX, enroute to Metro Manila. Sigh …

The high budget of constructing, or expanding, national highways using millions of taxpayers’ money is not enjoyed to the fullest by driving taxpayers! Is it just not enough for the government to say – build, build, build. How about adding – clear, clear, clear the national highwaysthus enabling vehicles to use ALL lanes!

But, Pinoy roadtrippers, do not despair! There are current provisions and developments to solve this dilemma:

  1. Under the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160), city and municipal mayors, through their respective Sangguniang Bayan and the Sangguniang Panlungsod, are authorized to regulate the operation of tricycles and to grant franchise for their operation within their respective territorial jurisdiction, subject to the guidelines prescribed by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), now the Department of Transportation (DOTr).1

The Department of the Interior and Local Government issued Memorandum Circulars which prohibit tricycles to ply along the national highways utilized by 4-wheel vehicles greater than 4 tons and where the normal speed exceeds 40 kilometers per hour. If there is no alternative route or road network available, such as routes beyond the town proper, however, the Sangguniang Bayan and the Sangguniang Panlungsod shall provide exception through the enactment of an ordinance.1

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año urged local authorities to strictly adhere to the standards and guidelines provided by a Memorandum Circular, which contains the basic considerations in the preparation of city or municipal tricycle and pedicab franchise and regulatory ordinance or code. He said that allowing these vehicles to pass through main thoroughfares “pose hazards to other motor vehicles, the riding public, and even to the drivers themselves. The regulation of tricycles and pedicabs on national highways is, therefore, to the best interest of everyone.” These guidelines include prohibiting said vehicles to carry more passengers and goods than what they are designed for, or more than what is authorized in the franchise, among others.1

Land Transportation Office (LTO)-7 Regional Director Raul Aguilos said that the operation of tricycles and pedicabs has been a good source of livelihood, but allowing them to traverse the national highway puts the lives of their passengers at risk.2

Oh my gosh, the said Code has been in existence since 1991, that is 27 years, almost 3 decades! Why are some local officials not enforcing this?

However, there are towns/cities that require all motorcycles to stay on the right lane – not on the left lane and definitely not along the broken white line between lanes! In this regard, I admire San Pablo City in Laguna.

A-San Pablo-tricycles

So, local officials of other towns/cities nationwide, what are you waiting for? Please implement order and discipline along national highways!

2. The provisions of Section 23 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 178 (also known as the Revised Philippine Highway Act), prohibit the use of road right-of-way for temporary and permanent structures such as buildings, houses, shanties, stores, shops, stalls, sheds, canopies, and billboards.3 Again I ask, why is this not enforced?

  1. Bill 5098 of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian requires all car owners to have a permanent garage or parking space before purchasing a vehicle. Any financially able buyer of a motor vehicle must submit a notarized affidavit attesting to the availability of a parking space for a new vehicle to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) as a prerequisite for car registration.If s/he can buy and maintain a car, s/he can also provide a permanent parking space for it.2

A-no-garage-okTown roads are usually narrow, just barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass in opposite directions. But what happens when car/tricycle/vehicle-owners have no parking space inside their property? Take a look!

Bravo, beloved legislators, drivers and pedestrians can now enjoy our streets nationwide without illegally parked cars! Please pass this bill asap. Mr. President, please immediately sign it thereafter. Finally, whoever will be tasked to make the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), please do it fast and disseminate for proper and immediate implementation!

Upon implementation, the Metro Manila Development Authority, or its local counterpart in towns and other cities, is required to conduct periodic inspections of streets to determine if there are illegally parked vehicles and penalize accordingly (e.g., for car owner: revocation of motor vehicle registration, a fine of PHP50,000, penalties under the Revised Penal Code for making a false statement under oath and falsification of a public document, and not being allowed to register said vehicle; for any LTO official/employee, suspension for 3 months without pay).2

Allow me also to add the following:

1. Provincial buses and jeepneys plying national highways must load-unload at designated or safe stops and not at the middle of the road, thereby blocking the vehicles following them and cause unnecessary traffic.

2. Passengers of jeepneys must observe and respect designated loading-unloading places, and not be hardheaded as to ask to be dropped at a convenient spot which might be a dangerous curve or accident-prone area only because it is near or is at his/her destination.

3. Just in case a wake is held in a house located along a narrow two-lane national highway, the persons concerned must get a permit from the local government, which in turn, must send well-trained enforcers to control and monitor traffic to ensure the smooth flow of vehicles affected by the blocking of one lane. For the bereaved family, please do not occupy more than one lane for the tent so that the remaining lane for vehicles is good enough for large trucks and buses to pass.

4. Contractors of any construction or repair on the national highway or sidewalks therein, must be required and monitored to provide proper and well-lighted safety barriers against possible dangerous unfinished work which could cause accidents to vehicles especially at night.

5. Pedestrian lanes must be respected by all drivers.

6. Public schools that install metal barriers to protect pupils/students must be responsible enough to remove such obstructions during school time when pupils are in the classrooms. These barriers should not be left out on the roads the whole day, at night, nor on non-school days. I think drivers understand the need to protect children, teachers and school administrators during entry and dismissal times. But outside these times, please give back the road to vehicles.

7. Motorcycles are aplenty and some recklessly overtake at the right side, or boldly swerve from left to right and in between vehicles. Worse, drivers (usually wearing slippers) and passengers have no proper helmets and other protective gear, and some even have two or more passengers on the front and back of the driver. Tell me, how often do you see a traffic enforcer in a town? If so, do they bother to call the attention of such people?

I am now used to, and no longer surprised to see lots of motorcycle and tricycle drivers who unusually park along the highway to avoid checkpoints with enforcers checking on their driver’s license, vehicle registration, etc. Why are these checkpoints not strategically located so that there is no way for these drivers to avoid inspection? Why are these inspections not done daily in various unannounced locations so that those without licenses and those who are minors will be discouraged from driving along national highways?

8. And as for the quality of national roads, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) must: be strict in choosing contractors (no sub-contracting please!); monitor their compliance with regard to the quality/thickness of roads, as well as progress and completion thereof within contract terms; and, require safe and neon-lighted/painted warnings and protection against unfinished areas, among others. Hopefully, drivers and passengers will have a safe, comfortable and smooth ride on well-paved roads, without potholes or uneven surfaces.

Bottomline, it boils down to consistent implementation, regardless of violators. Self-discipline and cooperation among drivers and those with properties along national highways would really go a long way for a safe and orderly roadtrip nationwide. This would definitely boost domestic tourism by land and show our foreign visitors that we are disciplined and are conscious about road safety.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. What are your insights regarding driving along national highways in the Philippines? Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1www.pna.gov.ph

2www.philstar.com

3www.dpwh.gov.ph

Seniors, Now You Know: WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

We have always heard of the term World Heritage Site, but do we really know what it is all about and how it is selected? And, do we know the World Heritage sites in the Philippines? Well, look and wonder no more!

WHAT IS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE? HOW IS IT SELECTED?

A World Heritage Site (WHS) is a unique landmark, or geographically and historically identifiable place, which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific, physical or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties.

Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones. The list is maintained by the International World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 state parties which are elected by the General Assembly. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund.

As of July 2018, there are a total of 1,092 World Heritage sites across 167 countries (845 cultural, 209 natural, and 38 mixed properties). The top countries with the most sites are: Italy (54), China (53), Spain (47), France (44), Germany (44), India (37), and Mexico (35).

But how is a site selected? UNESCO mandates a nomination process. It starts when a country lists its significant cultural and natural sites to form a Tentative List. It can then place sites selected from that list into a Nomination File which is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union. These bodies then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. The Committee meets once a year to determine whether or not to inscribe each nominated property on the World Heritage List, and sometimes defers or refers the decision to request more information from the country that nominated the site.

Wow! Sites are well screened.and countries should be really proud of their World Heritage sites and protect/preserve them!

There are 10 selection criteria and a site must meet at least one of them to be included in the list:

CULTURAL CRITERIA:

  1. It represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance;
  2. It exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time, or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design;
  3. It bears a unique, or at least, exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition, or to a civilization which is living, or which has disappeared;
  4. It is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history;
  5. It is an outstanding example of a type of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  6. It is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literally works of outstanding universal significance;

NATURAL CRITERIA:

  1. It contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  2. It is an outstanding example representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
  3. It is an outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems, and communities of plants and animals; and,
  4. It contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

All information were obtained from the Wikipedia page “World Heritage site”.1

WHO CAN NOMINATE SITES TO BE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Museum of the Philippines, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and other heritage agencies, are the prime nominators of the Philippines. The permanent Delegation of the Philippines to UNESCO, universities and NGOs can also nominate sites in the Tentative List.

I am just wondering why it took so long for the Philippines to have sites declared as such. Here is what I found out: in the 1990s, Filipino architect Augusto Villalon represented the Philippines in the UNESCO Committee and drafted the nomination dossiers of five heritage inscriptions, and all of them were declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites from 1993 to 1999 (see list below). However, after Villalon retired, the country had a 14-year drought in UNESCO World Heritage designations. Since 2014, six sites have been on the World Heritage site list, spanning nine locations: three are cultural and three are natural. In 2015, 28 sites in the Tentative List were revised, with 9 submissions for possible nomination in the future.

All information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines”.2

WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Filipinos, be proud, we have six World Heritage sites and I will list them in order of recognition:

  1. 16th century Baroque Churches of the Philippines: San Agustin Church (City of Manila), Santa Maria Church (Ilocos Sur), Paoay Church (Ilocos Norte), and Miagao Church (Iloilo) – inscription: 1993; minor boundary modification: 2013, based on cultural criteria 2 and 4 (see previous topic). All four churches have been declared National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.

BeFunky-collage(l-r): Miagao Church, Paoay Church, San Agustin Church and Santa Maria Church; photos from http://www.en.wikipedia.org

2. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Palawan) -inscription: 1993; extension: 2009, based on natural criteria 7, 9 and 10 (see previous topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. It is one of the New7Wonders of Nature5, an ASEAN Heritage Park6, and a Ramsar Wetland Site7. It is also located within the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Resesrve8.

BeFunky-collage             Tubbataha Reef pictures from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tubbataha_Reef

3. Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras – inscription: 1995, based on cultural criteria 3, 4 and 5 (see previous topic). It is located in the Ifugao province of the Cordillera Region and dates back to 100 BC. The inscription includes 5 properties: the Bangaan Rice Terraces, Batad Rice Terraces (both in Banaue), Hungduan Rice Terraces (in Hungduan), Mayoyao Rice Terraces (in Mayoyao), and Nagacadan Rice Terraces (in Kiangan). These rice terraces have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.

 

 

BeFunky-collageBatad Rice Terraces in Banaue and Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan; photos from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_Terraces_of_the_Philippine_Cordilleras

4. The Historic City of Vigan (Ilocos Sur) – inscription: 1999, based on cultural criteria 2 and 4 (see previous topic). This 16th century site is one of the New7Wonders Cities9. The Mestizo Section, House of Father Jose Burgos10 and Leona Florentino11 have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.

Calle_Crisologo,_Vigan_City-wiki                    Calle Crisologo, Vigan (photo from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigan)

5. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Palawan) – inscription: 1999, based on natural criteria 7 and 10 (see previous topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. It is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8 and a declared Ramsar Wetland Site7.

puerto-princesa-underground-river-wikiPuerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan; photo from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Princesa_Subterranean_River_National_Park

6. Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (Davao Oriental) – inscription: 2014, based on natural criteria 10 (see previous topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. It is declared as an ASEAN Heritage Park6.

mt-hamiguitan-wikiMount Hamiguitan inDavao Oriental; photo from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hamiguitan

Perhaps, if you have not yet visited the aforementioned sites, why don’t you include these in your 2019 bucket list?

All information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines”.2

THE TENTATIVE LIST FOR THE PHILIPPINES

There are 19 sites that are included in the Tentative List for the Philippines for the Philippine government to nominate as WHSs in the future:2

  1. Apo Reef National Park (Sulu Sea), based on natural criteria 7, 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. This site is the second biggest producer of juvenile marine fishes in the world, next to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
  2. Baroques Churches of the Philippines (extension), based on cultural criteria 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (see criteria topic). – Boljoon Church (Cebu), Guiuan Church (Eastern Samar), Lazi Church (Siquijor), Loboc Church (Bohol), and Tumauini Church (Isabela) – All five 18th to 19th century baroque churches have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.
  3. Batanes Protected landscapes and seascapes (mixed criteria, see criteria topic) – It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epochand 100 AD. The Mahatao Church of Batanes is a declared National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines3.
  4. Butuan Archeological Sites (Agusan del Norte), based on cultural criteria 3, 4 and 5 (see criteria topic). This 10th century site showcases the pre-Hispanic Rajahnate of Butuan12 as a nation with great expertise in boat-making, seafaring, and gold manufacturing.
  5. Chocolate Hills Natural Monument (Bohol), based on natural criteria 6 and 7 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4and is the focal property of the proposed Bohol Global Geopark Reserve.
  6. Coron Island Natural Biotic Area (Palawan), based on cultural criteria 3 and natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  7. El Nido – Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area, based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is within the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  8. Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves (Benguet), based on cultural criteria 1 – 6 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since 100 AD and has been listed by the World Monuments Fund13 for immediate international conservation. It is also declared as a National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines3.
  9. Mayon Volcano Natural Park (Albay), based on natural criteria 7 and 10 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epochand is the central property of the Albay UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  10. Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park (Mindoro), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4and is a declared ASEAN Heritage Park6.
  11. Mount Malindang Range Natural Park (Misamis Occidental), based on natural criteria 7, 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epochand is a declared ASEAN Heritage Park6.
  12. Mount Mantalingajan Protected Landscape (Palawan), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  13. Mount Pulag National Park (Ifugao, Nueva Viscaya and Benguet), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is the third highest point in the Philippines.
  14. Neolithic Shell Midden Sites in Lal-lo and Gattaran Municipalities (Cagayan), based on cultural criteria 2 – 5 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Neolithic Period14 and is the largest shell midden15 zone in the Philippine archipelago.
  15. Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and outlying areas inclusive of the buffer zone (Isabela), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is the largest national park in the Philippines.
  16. Paleolithic Archaeological Sites in Cagayan Valley – Awidon Mesa Formation Paleolithic Sites of Solana in Cagayan Province and the Callao Limestone Formation Paleolithic Sites of Peñablanca in Cagayan Province, based on cultural criteria 2 – 5 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Paleolithic Period16 and includes the location where the bone fragments of Callao Man, the oldest hominid17 found in the Philippines, was located.
  17. Petroglyphs18 and Petrographs19of the Philippines – Alab Petroglyphs of Mountain ProvinceAnda Peninsula Petrographs of Eastern BoholAngono Petroglyphs of Rizal, Peñablanca Petrographs of Cagayan Province, and Singnapan Caves Petrographs of southern Palawan, based on cultural criteria 3 (see criteria topic). These multiple sites have been in existence since the Paleolithic Period16. The Alab, Angono and Singnapan sites have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3. The site in Angono has been listed by World Monuments Fund13.
  18. The Tabon Cave Complex and all of Lipuun (Palawan), based on cultural criteria 2 – 5 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Paleolithic Period16 and is a declared National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines3 due to the Tabon Man20 discovery in the area. It was listed by the World Monuments Fund13.
  19. Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (Tawi-Tawi), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is a major green sea turtle breeding and hatchery zone in the Asia-Pacific.

Another wow! These are 19 possible additions to our local travel bucket list!

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines”.2

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Have you ever been to any of these sites? Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1“World Heritage site,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_site.

2“List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_sites_in_the_Philippines.

3A National Cultural Treasure (NCT) of the Philippines is a unique tangible (movable and immovable) or intangible cultural property found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to the country and nation, declared by the National Commission for Culture and Arts and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines, National Library of the Philippines, and National Archives of the Philippines, authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines by the Philippine government. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines”.21

4Pleistocene Epoch, or Ice Age, is the geological epoch from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world’s most recent period of repeated glaciations, according to the Wikipedia page “Pleistocene”.22

5New7Wonders of Nature (2007-2011) was an initiative led by Bernard Weber who organized the New 7 Wonders Foundation, and attracted 100 million voters worldwide to create a list of seven new natural wonders:  the Amazon Rainforest and River (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuaodr, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Jeju Island (South Korea), Iguazú (Argentina/Brazil), Puerto Pricesa Subterranean River National Park (Philippines), Komodo Island (Indonesia), and Table Mountain (South Africa), according to Wikipedia page “New7Wonders of Nature”.23

6The Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Park is a project of the ASEAN Ministers of Environment to list heritage parks in the region of particular biodiversity importance or exceptional uniqueness among member states, to implement regional conservation and management action plans. Thirty-seven ASEAN Heritage Parks have been designated since the last inscription in November 2015. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “ASEAN Heritage Parks”.24

7Ramsar Wetland Site is a wetland recognized for its economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value, based on the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, signed in the city of Ramsar, in Iran, in 1971, according to Wikipedia page “List of Ramsar sites in the Philippines”.25

8Biosphere Reserve is an internationally recognized area comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, nominated by a national government to the Man and Biosphere Programme, an intergovernmental program, launched in 1971 by the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), according to the Wikipedia page “Man and the Biosphere Programme”.26

9New7Wonders Cities (2011-2014) was another initiative led by Bernard Weber who organized the New 7 Wonders Foundation, and attracted voters worldwide to create a list of seven cities which best represent the achievements and aspirations of our global urban civilization: Beirut (Lebanon), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Havana (Cuba), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia), and Vigan (Philippines). This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “New7Wonders Cities”.27

10Fr. Jose Burgos (1837-1872) was a Filipino Catholic priest who was accused of mutiny by the Spanish colonial authorities, underwent a mock trial, and was executed in Manila, along with two other clergymen, according to the Wikipedia page “Jose Burgos”.28

11Leona Florentino (1849-1884) was a Filipino poet in the Spanish and Ilocano languages, considered “the mother of Philippine women’s literature” and the “bridge from oral to literary tradition,” according to the Wikipedia page “Leona Florentino”.29

12The Rajahnate of Butuan (before 1001-1756) was an Indic polity30 centered on present Mindanao island in the modern city of Butuan, in southern Philippines. It was known for gold mining, gold products, and its extensive trade network across the Nusantara area31, with trading relationships with the ancient civilizations of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Persia and Thailand. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Rajahnate of Butuan”.32

13World Monuments Fund is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and training, according to the Wikipedia page “World Monuments Fund”.33

14The Neolithic Period (around 8000 – 2000 BC), or New Stone Age, is the period of the Stone Age which started in the Middle East, characterized by the development of agriculture, pottery, and the making of polished stone implements.34

15Shell middens are places where debris from eating shellfish (clams, oysters, whelks, mussels) and other food has accumulated over time, found on the coast, inland lakes, swamps, and river banks, indicative of Aboriginal activities in the past. They can contain: shellfish remains; bones of fish, birds, and land and sea mammals used for food; charcoal from campfires; and, tools made from stone, shell and bone.35

16The Paleolithic Period, or Old Stone Age (2.6 million – 10,000 years ago), is the period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools, with humans living a nomadic lifestyle in small groups, and their survival depended heavily on their environment and climate.36

17A hominid is a primate of a family (Hominidae) of erect bipedal primate mammals that includes humans, their fossil ancestors and some of the great apes (the orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee and bonobo).37

18Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of rock art, often associated with prehistoric people, according to the Wikipedia page “Petroglyph”.38

19Petrographs are drawings, writings, or inscriptions on stone, as a painting on a cave wall.39

20Tabon Man refers to collective remains discovered by Robert B. Fox, an American anthropologist of the national Museum of the Philippines, in the Tabon Caves in Lipuun Point in the municipality of Quezon, in the west coast of the province of Palawan, in the Philippines, on May 28, 1962. The remains, the fossilized fragments of a skull and jawbone of three individuals, were believed to be one of the earliest human remains known in the Philippines which date back to 16,500 years ago. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tabon Man”.40

21“List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Cultural_Treasures_in_the_Philippines.

22 “Pleistocene,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene.

23“New7Wonders of Nature,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New7Wonders_of_Nature.

24“ASEAN Heritage Parks,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASEAN_Heritage_Parks.

25“List of Ramsar sites in the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ramsar_sites_in_the_Philippines.

26“Man and the Biosphere Programme,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_and_Biosphere_Programme.

27“New7Wonders Cities,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New7Wonders_Cities.

28“Jose Burgos,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jose_Burgos.

29“Leona Florentino,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leona_Florentino.

30Indic polity refers to traditional Southeast Asian political formations, such as federation of kingdoms under a center of domination, according to the Wikipedia page “Mandala (political model)”.41

31The Nusantara area, or Maritime Southeast Asia, is the local Malayo-Polynesian name for the region which consists of what is now Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Timor Leste. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Maritime Southeast Asia”.42

32“Rajahnate of Butuan,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajahnate_of_Butuan.

33 “World Monuments Fund,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Monuments_Fund.

34www.ancient.eu and www.yourdictionary.com

35www.environment.nsw.gov.au

36www.diffen.com

37www.merriam-webster.com

38 “Petroglyph,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroglyph.

39www.en.m.wiktionary.org

40“Tabon Man,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabon_Man.

41“Mandala (political model),” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandala_(political_model).

42“Maritime Southeast Asia,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maritime_Aouthwast_Asia.

Taal, Batangas, Philippines: THE ARCHDIOCESAN SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF CAYSASAY

The Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay is located in Barrio Caysasay, in the heritage town of Taal, in the province of Batangas, Philippines. It belongs to the Archdiocese of Lipa.

A-Shrine-2-post

I was able to go to this shrine and touch the wooden statue of Our Lady of Caysasay. See a related post: Taal, Batangas, Philippines: OUR LADY OF CAYSASAY– The “Queen of the Archdiocese of Lipa”

A-Shrine-7-post                            The altar of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay

A-Shrine-8-post                                               Look up … and this is what you see

For religious tourists, do not miss this shrine and the experience of touching the miraculous statue.

A-Shrine-19-post

Here are 12 facts about the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay:

  1. It is a chapel made of coral stone, built in 1639 by Fr. Alonso Rodriguez (minister of Taal). It was completed in 1640 and dedicated to Our Lady of Caysasay, to serve as a perpetual shrine.
  2. Bricks and wood were also used to build this parish church.
  3. The shrine is 50 meters (160 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) wide.
  4. Behind the main altar lies the sacristy and a stairwell that leads to the room of the Virgin, where devotees could venerate.

A-Shrine-1-postThe stairwell leading to the sacristy (accessed by turning right from the altar) where you can touch the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Caysasay

5. The church was first built around 1611 by the Chinese. It was constructed using light materials and was located near the river where the miraculous wooden image of Our Lady of Caysasay was found. An arch made of coral stone with a bass relief of Our Lady of Caysasay was built later on. On February 24, 1620, the Augustinians issued an order to construct a church in Caysasay, as a visitaof Taal. It has been verified through serious investigation that the Most Holy Virgin appeared there. This Marian apparition was given the title Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia.

6. The roof of the church was partly destroyed in 1754 by the boulders and ashes from Taal Volcano but was quickly repaired.

 

7. During the earthquake of December 24, 1852, the walls of the church cracked and the towers fell. Fr. Celestino Mayordomo improvised a large makeshift shelter at the town plaza where the image of the Virgin of Caysasay was enshrined temporarily. Fr. Mayordomo also started the reconstruction work, which was completed in 1856. The twin towers rose again, the interior was newly painted, and the stone fence was completed. Once more, the image was solemnly enthroned in her home.

8. The sanctuary was damaged anew by tremors in 1867. Fr. Marcos Anton repaired the minor damages, installed a new altar and a presbytery floor, and constructed an iron balustrade around it. The interior was decorated under the direction of Italian decorator Cesar Alberoni.

9. In 1880, Fr. Agapito Aparicio installed an organ bought from the famous organist Don Doroteo Otorelin of Palencia, Spain.

10. Fortunately, the earthquake of 1880 did not cause serious damage to the sanctuary.

11. Other renovations followed: a coat of stucco2 cement was applied to the front wall and to the towers; and, the stone and brick wall was scraped clean to reveal its original color.

12. The Miraculous Well of Sta. Luciacan be accessed via the San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps4 from this shrine.

A-Shrine-6-postYou go up these steps (San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps) from the shrine, go up that cemented elevation to the right, to reach the pathway leading to the Miraculous Well of Sta. Lucia.

A-Well-Collage             Just follow the pathway which leads to the Miraculous Well of Sta. Lucia

Most of the information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay”5 and some information was given by our tour guide, Mr. Art Mojica (09165378973 and atmojica660@yahoo.com). Contact him for an enlightening heritage tour of Taal.

I paid for my tour so this is not a sponsored post.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Have you ever been to this Shrine? Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1A visita, or chapel of ease, is a church building other than the parish church, built within the bounds of a parish for the attendance of those who cannot reach the parish church conveniently, according to the Wikipedia page “Chapel of Ease”.6

2Stucco is a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, basically made of lime and sand. It is also used as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture, according to the Wikipedia page “Stucco”.7

3The Miraculous Well of Sta. Lucia is a spring-fed well located in Barrio Caysasay, in Taal, Batangas, where two women saw the reflection of Our Lady of Caysasay. It can be accessed by way of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps4 of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay”.5

4San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps is a stairway of 125-granite steps leading up to the center of the town of Taal. Originally, the steps were made of adobe stone, but these were later replaced with granite, or batong song-song, in the year 1850, by Fr. Celestino Matordomo. Formerly called Hagdan-hagdan, the stairway has since been renamed and is now dedicated to the memory of San Lorenzo Ruiz. An inconspicuous narrow walkway from the steps takes visitors to the well. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay”.5

 5“Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archdiocesan_Shrine_of_Our_Lady_of_Caysasay.

6“Chapel of ease,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapel_of_ease.

7“Stucco,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stucco.

Taal, Batangas, Philippines: GALLERIA TAAL

Z-Galleria-Taal-1 - A                                           Picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure

Galleria Taal is an ancestral Spanish-era house turned into the only camera museum in the Philippines. It is located in Calle Agoncillo, the main street in the heritage town of Taal, in the province of Batangas, in the Philippines.

Z-Galleria-Taal-3 - B                                 Location Map, Galleria Taal (from brochure)

This camera museum is for camera/photography fans and enthusiasts. It is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:00 am to 5 pm, with an entrance fee of PHP100 for adults and PHP50 for students.

Z-Galleria-Taal-2 - B                                             Picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure

I went to this interesting house with my college buddies and was able to obtain 4 facts about Galleria Taal:

  1. The house was the ancestral home of Domingo Ilagan and Maria Martinez-Ilagan in the 1800’s.

It is composed of two sections: the early house located at the back portion which has a distinct tiled roof and was built in 1870, and the facade fronting the main street which was built 30 years after, roofed with GI sheets.

Candida married Antonino Barrion, a lawyer and the 1st District of Batangas delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention, and had 3 children: Nellie (Inumerable), Corazon (Rodriguez) and Charito (Ahorro). She paid off her siblings and moved into this house in 1944 after their conjugal home in Batangas City was burned down by the Japanese Army.

Z-Galleria-Taal-2 - A                                             Picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure

After Candida’s death, this house fell in disrepair until 2004 when a grandson, Emmanuel (Manny) Inumerable initiated the restoration of this stately ancestral home, with assistance from his brother, Bobby, a civil contractor.

  1. Manny Barrion Inumerable opened this house on March 2010 to showcase his vast collection of vintage cameras from the late 1800’s till the 1900’s.

Z-Galleria-Taal-3 - D                   Manny Barrion Inumerable (picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure)

This museum features so many camera brands: Canon, Graflex, Kodak, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Rolleiflex, and Sanderson, among others.

Interesting pieces like accordion-type cameras, a Minox-Spy Cam, and a limited edition Nikon F2A-1977 camera in celebration of Nikon’s 25th year anniversary are also exhibited.

Z-Galleria-Taal-1 - B                                                 Picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure

A 1984 24K gold-plated Nikon FA Gold, with matching gold-plated lens, covered with lizard skin, and encased in a wooden box, is the most expensive camera in the collection. Only 2,000 units were ever made, in celebration of Nikon being declared as the European camera of the year.

  1. It also serves as a gallery of Philippine antiquarian photographs depicting early Philippine photography in the Spanish and American eras. Rare photos of Manila before and after the Japanese occupation, Marcos era, and EDSA Revolution are also exhibited.

Z-Galleria-Taal-3 - C                                               Picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure

Z-Galleria-Taal-1 - C                                           Picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure

The exhibit also includes a reproduction of the only known existing photograph of Jose Rizal’s execution. The original photograph is kept in a Cavite museum.

4. And you know what? All cameras are well-kept and in good working condition! Click!

Z-Galleria-Taal-3 - A                                             Picture c/o Galleria Taal brochure

The Museum Caretaker is Ms. Dolores Bautista, with contact numbers: 09067632449 and (043) 4081775. You can also contact the Proprietor, Mr. Manny Inumerable, at mobile number 09189124051 or email him at mannyinumerable@yahoo.com

Some information and photos were obtained from the brochure distributed during the tour and other information were given by my hardworking tour guide, Mr. Art Mojica (09165378973 and atmojica660@yahoo.com). Contact him for an enlightening heritage tour of Taal.

I paid for my tour so this is not a sponsored post.

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Savoring Pinoy Delights: THE LUSCIOUS LANZONES

I look forward to the early -ber months in Laguna because I can enjoy one of my favorite seasonal fruits, the lanzones!

 

 


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For our foreign readers, LANZONES (Lansiumparasiticum) is a seasonal, tropical, exotic, and edible fruit which originated in West Malaysia and is widely grown in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.

 

1-lanzones

Clustered like grapes, this fruit is elliptical, ovoid, or round, measuring 2-7 cm (0.79-2.76 in.) by 1.5-5 cm (0.59-1.97 in.) in size.

It has a thin, leathery, slightly-fuzzy yellow skin that varies in thickness from 2-6 mm (0.079-0.24 in.). The yellow skin will gradually develop brownish-black spots as the days go by as this fruit spoils quickly and does not have a long shelf life. So, eat it immediately after purchase. My advice is to buy only what you can consume within 2 days.

 

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This year, fruits were harvested in early September in Laguna, and priced at 80-90 pesos per kilo (2018). I personally prefer the smaller variety since I find that they are sweeter and have smaller seeds, if any at all.

Lanzones is known under a variety of common names worldwide: bhubi (Bengali), bon bon (Vietnamese), buahan (Cebuano), buwa-buwa (Tagalog), ceruring (Balinese), dau da dat (Vietnamese), dhuku (Javanese), dokong (Malay), duku (Burmese, Indonesian, Malay), gaduguda (Sinhalese), kokosan (Indonesian), langsak (Burmese), langsat (English, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai for thin-skinned variety), langseh (Malay), langsep (Javanese, Malay), lansa (Malay), lansones (Cebuano. Tagalog), lanzones (English), lon bon (Vietnamese), long kong (Khmer), longkong (Thai, for thick-skinned variety), lotka (Bengali), and pangkai (Mizo language).

The larger variety of lanzones is called Duku. It has large round fruits, a thicker skin, and some consider it sweeter than the smaller variant.The hybrid between Duku and Langsat is called Duku-Langsat. Another variation is Longkong, or Dokong, introduced in Indonesia and Thailand. This variant has a thick skin, sweet aromatic taste, no latex, only a few seeds or is seedless.1

Lanzones is grown in different parts of the Philippines: Camiguin (known to yield the sweetest lanzones during the month of October), Laguna (fruits harvested from September to November, depending on the onset of typhoons and strong winds which may affect the flowering stage), Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, and Northern Mindanao.2

The Lanzones Festival is held annually in Camiguin Island for 4 days during the 3rd week of October, to celebrate their lanzones harvest, the precious livelihood of the residents there.3

Legend says that this fruit was originally poisonous.3 The name itself, lanzones, comes from the Filipino term for poison – lason! It is said that there was once a town with bountiful trees which bore round and pale-colored fruits, but the people were afraid to eat them. They saw a man who tried to eat a fruit, but he died as soon as it touched his lips. This made the people afraid of even touching the fruit. Then, one day, the town suffered from drought, food became scarce, and the people became hungry. Suddenly, a mysterious lady came to town, sang and danced in the streets, picked a fruit from the poisonous tree, pinched it, and ate it. To the amazement of the people, the lady did not die. She claimed that as she pinched the fruit, she took out the poison. She then asked the townfolk to eat the fruits, and famine eventually ended.2

A second version of its origin goes like this: lanzones was poisonous and extremely sour but one day, a woman (believed to be the Virgin Mary) and Her Child (the Baby Jesus) travelled along a road, were very hungry, and found only lanzones trees all around. Having no other option to eat, they ate the fruits and, henceforth, the lanzones became edible and sweet.4

The fruits, when allowed to ripen on the branches of the tree, are attractive to flying animals at night, like bats. The people from Paete, Laguna, in the Philippines, hang kerosene lamps on the trees to repel bats and other nocturnal animals.1

When completely ripe, the fruit is eaten as is, or added to cooked/processed dishes/items. Its thin skin is opened by pinching/squeezing the stem end until the skin opens and is then further easily peeled back to reveal about 5-6 translucent white, smooth, juicy and sweet (sometimes, a bit tart or sour) fleshy segments, which, together, may have 1-3 dark green, bitter-tasting, inedible seeds of different sizes. Break the segments apart, and eat them one by one. Discard the inedible seeds, if any.

 

Z-lanzones-peeled

Peeling may yield a milky latex, especially when newly picked/harvested, that may stain your fingers with a slightly sticky blackish-brown sap. Personally, I do not mind this sap because this fruit is one of my top favorite fruits.

However, if you are turned off by the black sap on your fingertips after consuming a sizeable amount of this fruit, worry no more! There are 5 ways to avoid/address this concern: (a) use a paper towel when removing the skin; (b) apply oil to your fingertips to avoid the stickiness; (c) dip the fruit into boiling water to eliminate the sticky substance; (d) apply alcohol on stained fingers and wipe off with a paper napkin;or, (e) my dear father taught me to simply rub my stained fingers through my hair several times till all the sticky sap is gone. He said the natural oil in my hair removes the sticky, sappy dark stains, and you know what? It works! But if I do this, I see to it that I shampoo my hair thereafter. Try all these techniques and tell me what really works for you!

Lanzones is used in beverages, desserts, fruit salads, jams and jellies. Its fleshy segments are added to curries and soups. These are also added to other fruits like bananas, pomegranates and strawberries, to make popsicles.3

Each segment contains fructose, glucose and sucrose. It also contains carbohydrates, fiber, pantothenic acid, protein, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C, and minerals, such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.This fruit is low in fat so this is good for weight-watchers! It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, as well as an abundance of natural antioxidants (e.g., polyphenols) that can help the body to fight disease-causing free radicals.5

 

Z-lanzones-bunch

This fruit is considered a healthy snack for people with diabetes because of its high fiber content, along with the presence of the antioxidant polyphenol, which improves glucose levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar.3

 

z-lanzones-dami

There are no known side effects when eating this fruit. However, this fruit is known to cause gas so overconsumption is not good for people who easily bloat. Also, pregnant women should consult their doctors before eating lots of this yummy fruit.3

The bark, leaves and/or segments are known to: aid in weight loss; be effective in de-worming; boost the immune system; cure dysentery, malaria, scorpion stings and ulcers; improve metabolism; reduce cholesterol levels; regulate blood sugar levels; relieve diarrhea and eye inflammation; and treat bloating and fever.

Did you know that the dried skin of lanzones is traditionally used in the Philippines as a natural mosquito repellant? I recall my Dad who used to sun-dry the peels and light them up in our terrace during night time. The smell was pleasant and guess what? I had no mosquito bites!

So, what are you waiting for? Go to your nearest fruit stand while supply lasts!

Most of the information was obtained from the Wikipedia page, “Lansium parasiticum”.6

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1www.choosephilippines.com

2www.onlyfoods.net

3www.tagaloglang.com/lansones

4www.marketmanila.com

5www.livestrong.com

6”Lansium parasiticum,” accessed September 8, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lansium_parasiticum