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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.

Z-11-Binondo

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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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;

8--Las Casas-kalesa-MarissaDG

  • 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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to El Nido and your Tour C experience. 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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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 – CLIFTON HILL: ITS ORIGIN AND NATURE

Clifton Hill is a major tourist promenade of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. It offers an amusement area and center for every member of the family, day and night, with its gift and souvenir shops, wax museums, haunted houses, video arcades, restaurants, and themed attractions.

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Today, the Clifton Hill Tourist District includes Clifton Hill – “the Street of Fun by the Falls”, Falls Avenue, Victoria Avenue, Center Street and Bender Street. This area is the vibrant and colorful heart of the amusement and entertainment center of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. It consists of many museums, restaurants, attractions and activities for all ages. It is the second busiest tourist sector, next to the awesome Niagara Falls.

At night, The Hill, as it is known to Canadians and visitors, becomes a hub of nightlife activities consisting of pulsating sounds of music as well as a magical world of sparkling and glittering lights.

Its main street, also called Clifton Hill, leads to Niagara Falls and the Niagara River. It stretches from the River Road on the Niagara Parkway and intersects with Victoria Avenue. You definitely have to spend at least one night in this district, along with your visit to the Falls.Clifton Hill-to the Falls-titas.jpg

Here is the layout of Clifton Hill.1-fun pass-map-clifton hillThe photo was taken from the Clifton Hill Fun Pass brochure.

It looks like a fun, fun, fun place, right? I will make a post regarding a description of each attraction.

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But for now, here is an alphabetical list of exciting attractions that you and your family and friends can go to in Clifton Hill district:

  1. Big Top Amazing Mirror and Lazer Maze
  2. Bronto’s Adventure Playland
  3. Captain Jack’s Fun Centre
  4. Crystal Caves Mirror Maze Adventure
  5. Dinosaur Adventure Mini Golf
  6. Dracula’s Haunted Castle
  7. Fun House
  8. Ghost Blasters Dark Ride (part of Great Canadian Midway)
  9. Great Canadian Midway
  10. Guinness World Records Museum
  11. Haunted House
  12. House of Frankenstein Haunted House
  13. Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum
  14. Movieland Wax Museum
  15. Niagara SkyWheel Ferris Wheel
  16. Niagara Speedway
  17. Nightmares Fear Factory
  18. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum
  19. Ripley’s 4D Moving Theatre Ride
  20. Rock Legends Wax Museum
  21. Strike! Rock and Bowl
  22. Upside Down House
  23. Wizard’s Golf
  24. XD Theatre 6D Motion Ride
  25. Zombie Attack!

You will definitely get hungry or thirsty with all the walking, and the exciting attractions you and your companions will visit, not to mention your trek to and from the Niagara Falls.

Collage-Clifton Hill-restos.jpgSome picture inserts came from the Clifton Hill Fun Pass brochure.

So, here is a list of restaurants in Clifton Hill, alphabetically arranged, which I will feature in another post:

  1. Antica Pizzeria & Ristorante
  2. BeaverTails
  3. Boston Pizza
  4. Burger King
  5. Clifton Hill Family Restaurant
  6. Club Mardi Gras Niagara
  7. Dairy Queen
  8. Downhill Ice Cream
  9. Fallsview Buffet Restaurant
  10. Fudge Factory
  11. Guru Fine Indian Cuisine
  12. Hard Rock Cafe
  13. IHOP
  14. Kelsey’s Original Roadhouse
  15. Mama Mia’sItalian Eatery
  16. Maharaja Grand Indian Fine Dining
  17. Montana’s
  18. Niagara Brewing Company
  19. Pizza Pizza
  20. Rainforest Cafe
  21. Ruby Tuesday
  22. Starbucks
  23. Subway
  24. Sweet Jesus Niagara
  25. Sweets & Treats
  26. The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro
  27. Tim Hortons
  28. Wendy’s
  29. Yank’s Old Niagara Bar and Grill

collage-clifton hill nightlife.jpgA collage of Clifton Hill’s nightlife; photos taken from www.cliftonhill.com

Now, dearest Seniors and family, this destination is very much alive even at night featuring the following nightlife and entertainment options, in alphabetical order:

  1. Kelsey’s Bar and Grill
  2. Beer Garden Karaoke Patio
  3. Casino Niagara
  4. Hard Rock Night Club
  5. Greg Frewin Theatre
  6. Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
  7. Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club Niagara Falls
  8. Seneca Queen Theatre
  9. Oh Canada Eh Dinner Show

Do you know how Clifton Hill became a popular tourist attraction? Who owned this Niagara Falls attraction through the years, till the present? Let Tita S tell you.

Initially, the land was acquired by the Philip Bender family in 1782 as part of a United Empire Loyalist land grant. This land is currently called “the Center” because it encompasses a major portion of the primary tourist core in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

In 1832, it was purchased by British Army officer Captain Ogden Creighton who served with the 70th and 81st Regiments in various parts of the world, including the Far East. He acquired a sizeable tract of land on what is now the south side of Clifton Hill as well as the area just beyond the top of the hill.

Creighton had this land surveyed, then made an urban plan for his town. He laid out the streets and building lots, naming the future settlement “Clifton Place”, presumably after Clifton, an inner suburb of the English port city of Bristol, located on the gorge of the River Avon.

In 1834, he called the primary street Ferry Road (now Clifton Hill) as the main street, named after the small rowboats which were utilized to transport people across the Niagara River between Canada and the USA at that time, approximately where the Hornblower Niagara Cruises loading dock now sits.

On the edge of the high bank facing the American Falls, Captain Creighton built his own residence, naming it Clifton Cottage. It stood where the Great Canadian Midway is now located.

The Creighton family left Niagara Falls in the early 1840s, moving first to Toronto and then to Brantford, Ontario.

In 1833, the first Clifton Hotel was built at the base of Ferry Road by Harmanus Crysler and became the best hotel available at that time, and there were very few buildings along Ferry Road.  A small school house occupied the south side of the road for a brief period of time.

In 1842, the American contractor from Pennsylvania named Samuel Zimmerman came to Niagara, and made his fortune on projects like the Second Welland Canal and the Great Western Railroad from Hamilton to Niagara Falls.

Ferry Road provided the primary access route to the edge of the Niagara Gorge and the ferry service below, until 1848, when the first International Suspension Bridge was completed and this became the new form of travel between Canada and the USA.

Upon Creighton’s death in 1850, his wife sold the property to Samuel Zimmerman, who, in turn had the Erie and Niagara Railway routed through this town.

He created an estate property along the south side of Ferry Road, that he called “Clifton Place”. While building his estate, Samuel Zimmerman lived in Captain Creighton’s tiny Clifton cottage which stood near Ferry Road leading to the current Maid of the Mist dock.

He planned to build a mansion to live in, once it was completed. On his estate, he undertook to create many gardens and several large fountains, including the Zimmerman Fountain which still exists down in Queen Victoria Park.

The estate of Samuel Zimmerman occupied the entire south side of Ferry Hill and was bounded by the river, Murray Hill and Ferry Road (now Victoria Avenue). Today, this property is owned by HOCO (Harry Oakes Company).

He then purchased land in the Village of Elgin, now the area of Queen Street, Park Street, Huron Street and Morrison Street, and in 1856, the boundaries expanded to include the area of the Table Rock, and the newly formed town which then had enough residents, and was renamed the town of Clifton.

In 1856, the Village of Clifton became large enough to warrant a post office. In the same year, the Village of Clifton and the north end Village of Elgin were amalgamated to become the Town of Clifton.

The only buildings in the area of “the Center” on Ferry Road were the Clifton House Hotel and the Erie & Niagara Railroad Station; currently, they would have been located at the bottom of the hill and top of the hill, respectively.

Zimmerman created an estate property along the south side of Ferry Hill, now Clifton Hill, with many gardens and fountains.

The first structures that Zimmerman built on his estate were four gatehouses. Each gatehouse, which was large enough to be a house, was located at each of the four entrances to the 52-acre estate. The Clifton Gate House was the last of four such gatehouses built in 1856.

Zimmerman built a large stable for his horses and carriages. The stable was constructed of imported English yellow brick, which cost $18,000. The stables continued to exist until the mid-1950’s when the new Park Motor Hotel (Comfort Inn-Clifton Hill) complex incorporated a section of the stable wall into the hotel structure.

After the construction of the gatehouses and the stable, Zimmerman began working on plans for his mansion which he called “Clifton Place”, and was estimated to cost $175,000.

Alas, Zimmerman saw only the foundations of his mansion built before he was killed on March 12, 1857 in the Desjardins Canal Railway accident and did not see the completion of his mansion.

Following Zimmerman’s death, the estate was taken over by the Bank of Upper Canada. The Bank went bankrupt several years later and his estate was put up for sale. United States Senator John T. Bush of Buffalo, New York, bought Zimmerman’s estate at the bargain price of 25 cents on the dollar. Bush bought Clifton Place and the Clifton House along with the adjoining properties.

Senator Bush fixed up the estate and completed the mansion that Samuel Zimmerman imagined. The Bush mansion contained a great hall, measuring 4.9 meters (16 feet) wide and 27.4 meters (90 feet) long ran through the center of the main floor. The main floor consisted of five huge rooms and a kitchen. The second floor consisted of five larger bedrooms and the third floor consisted of a theatre, complete with a stage. A winding staircase, made with 1,829 board meters (6,000 board feet) of solid black walnut, allowed access to the various floors. The doors were 3 meters (10 feet) high. 300,000 kilograms (300 tons) of flat stone were used for the walls and hand cut limestone was used for the stone trim.

The view of the Niagara Falls was available from the many windows on the upper floors, the various balconies, and from a little stone turret built into one wing of the mansion. To reach the turret, one had to climb out of the nearby window and walk across the slate roof.

Originally, the mansion was heated by large fireplaces, however it changed to two large furnaces. Lighting was through oil lamps, but was eventually converted to electricity.

Senator Bush and his family lived in the mansion for the next 50 years. Following his death, Josephine, his daughter, continued to live in the mansion until 1927. In 1928, Josephine sold the estate to Sir Harry Oakes (Welland Securities) who eventually tore down the mansion in 1937, to give way to the booming tourism industry in the area, with the whole property catering to tourism.

In October of 1881, upon the request of its residents, the town received permission from the government to change its name to the town of Niagara Falls.

In 1898, fire destroyed the Clifton Hotel. It was replaced by the new Clifton Hotel in 1905.

The boom of tourism in the1920’s in Niagara Falls led to the creation of various camps and hotels on Clifton Hill. Niagara Falls Tourist Camp was opened by Charles Burland. It was located on the north side of Clifton Hill between the Foxhead Inn (currently the Sheraton on the Falls) and the Alexandra Hotel (currently the Comfort Inn).

Earl McIntosh opened two campgrounds; the Clifton Touring Camp and the Clifton Camp. The Clifton Touring Camp was located on the south side of Clifton Hill (currently the Comfort Inn). McIntosh also opened his Clifton Camp located on the north side of Clifton Hill.

In 1925, Howard Fox opened his famous Foxhead Inn on the corner of Clifton Hill and Falls Avenue. The Inn was a subsidiary of the Clifton Hotel and was located on the current site of the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel.

Reinhart’s Riverhurst Inn was located on the north side of Clifton Hill between the Niagara Falls Tourist Camp and the Foxhead Inn.

For several years after Welland Securities (Harry Oakes) purchased the Bush estate, two of the gatehouses were used as private residences. In 1937, Welland Securities began using the Clifton Gate House as their general office. As the years passed, the Clifton Gate House was utilized as an antique gun museum and later became a souvenir store.

The mansion was left vacant for 10 years until Harry Oakes announced it would be torn down. Despite a public outcry to preserve the mansion, it was completely demolished by June 1, 1937.

Of the four gatehouses, the Queen Victoria Park house and Robinson Street house were the first to be removed. By 1937, only two gatehouses and the stable remained standing, but by the 1950’s, the Victoria Avenue gatehouse was demolished.

In the 1950’s, the land on the south side of Clifton Hill nearest Queen Victoria was offered to the American Government to build a new American Consulate, however this offer was never acted upon. The land was later sold.

In the late 1950’s, the Park Motor Hotel (currently the Comfort Inn – Clifton Hill) and the Fallsway Hotel (currently the Quality Inn, and now the site of the Niagara SkyWheel) were built on a large portion of the former Bush estate. Harry Oakes owned the Park Motor Hotel, but the Fallsway Motel was separately owned until Harry Oakes bought it.

In November 1965, the 109-year-old Clifton Gate House, located on the south side, was demolished to make way for a two-storey building (today known as the Hollywood Wax Museum) worth $170,000.

Oakes was a Parks Commissioner who donated the piece of land in which the Oakes Garden Theatre currently resides to the Niagara Parks Commission, in exchange for another plot of land located just above the park, which is today the south side of Clifton Hill, with the current large chains of attractions and retail outlets still owned and operated by the Oakes family.

Today, the property is owned by HOCO (Sir Harry Oakes Company). The only memory today of Zimmerman is the Zimmerman Fountain, a large stone fountain-pond built by Samuel below the moraine, now Queen Victoria Park.

Clifton Hill continued to evolve and was transformed into the hub of the tourist district, second only to Niagara Falls. It was from approximately the mid-60’s that Clifton Hill really became known as the “Street of Fun by the Falls” with all its hotels, attractions, souvenir shops, and restaurants popping up.

Clifton Hill Tourist District is definitely the heart of tourist entertainment at Niagara Falls, not only during daytime but nighttime as well. So why not stay, at least overnight!

Here are the online contact sites for you to explore:

Website: www.cliftonhill.com

Facebook: www.CliftonHill.com/fb

Instagram: @cliftonhillfun

Twitter: www.CliftonHill.com/twt

Google+: www.CliftonHill.com/gplus

Pinterest: www.CliftonHill.com/pin

The information was obtained from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton_Hill,_Niagara_Falls1 , https://www.niagarafallsinfo.com/niagara-falls-history/niagara-falls-tourism-history/the-history-of-clifton-hill/, http://www.niagarafrontier.com/clifton.html, https://www.cliftonhill.com and https://www.niagarafallstourism.com.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding Clifton Hill, the attractions you enjoyed the most, the food and beverage establishments you went to, and retail stores you patronized. 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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1“Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls” accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton_Hill,_Niagara_Falls

 

BAGUIO CITY: LEMON AND OLIVES GREEK TAVERNA

My family went to Baguio1 on August 2019. The kids wanted to go horseback riding, after three days of rain so, of course, we let them.

However, while waiting for them, we started looking for an interesting place to eat because it was nearing lunchtime. While cruising along Outlook Drive, we were enticed to try Lemon and Olives Greek Taverna2, owned by Outlook Drive Residences, Inc.

This restaurant opened to the public on June 7, 2016 and claims to be Baguio’s first authentic Greek restaurant. It is open daily, from 11AM – 10PM.3

Now, you might ask Tita S, how do I locate this restaurant? Simple, if you have your own vehicle, use the Waze app. For those using public transportation, it is also easy to go to this restaurant. Tell a taxi driver to take you to “26 Outlook Drive South, and state the name of the restaurant. If you will use a jeepney, take “Mines View #15”. It has been more than three years since it opened, so I guess public transportation drivers are familiar with this place. The place is just a few houses past Maryhurst and Villa Cordillera.3

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We arrived a little after 11AM and we were able to park in front of the restaurant. I noticed that there were already several tables which were occupied and people were leisurely enjoying their lunch early. Hmm, I guess people were eager to eat out after several days of rain, just like us.

Good that we came early since I heard that this casual dining, waiter-service restaurant is popular and easily gets full.

The facade of this restaurant is homely, with lots of hanging plants at its main entrance. Lemon-facade-1

The charming, warm and cozy country-house ambiance is a welcome treat for me.

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Actually, it is an old Baguio house, turned into a restaurant, with the usual wooden flooring. The laid back surroundings are simple, yet instagrammable.

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The restaurant is not air-conditioned, what with Baguio’s cool weather. The temperature was just right even if it was almost noon that day we dined. While waiting for our orders, curious Tita S started to go around the place and found the al-fresco area, overlooking a wonderful landscape of pine trees, and then some.

BeFunky-collage-dining-POSTTop rightmost picture taken from https://www.facebook.com/LemonandOlivesPH/

For those who have not been to this restaurant, just imagine a small veranda where tables are set and you can enjoy dining with family or friends, while feasting your eyes with a great view of pine trees and foliage that Baguio is known for, and breathing fresh air at that!

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This restaurant offers Greek and Mediterranean cuisine for lunch and dinner, as well as coffee and drinks.3 Its in-house chef, Chef Takis, came from Athens, Greece, so you cannot question its authenticity. It accepts reservations but welcomes walk-ins, couples, groups, and is even kid-friendly. Take out orders are also welcome and credit cards are accepted.3

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Lemon and Olives Greek Taverna offers a wide range of tempting items, from appetizers, salads, off-the-grill and in-the-oven dishes, sides and extras, desserts and beverages.

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Apologies for not taking a picture of the backmost part of the menu card, so I got the information online4 of its Special Orders:

  1. Beef Giouvetsi– Tender chunks of baked beef over special orzo5 pasta, covered in red sauce, served with roasted potatoes and Greek salad – PHP2,450
  2. Lamb Giouvetsi– A more special version of a heirloom recipe, a leg of lamb carefully roasted, and served over special orzo pasta swimming in tomato sauce, served with a side of roasted potatoes and Greek salad – PHP4,180
  3. Soutzoukakia– A unique Greek meatball dish, with each meatball seasoned with thick Mediterranean spices, baked, bathed with tomato sauce, and served with either rice, pasta, or Greek French fries6 – PHP1,950

 Upon reaching the entrance, we were immediately led to a cozy table to fit our group of 10. It was a cozy dining nook for all of us. Our food server was polite and suggested the restaurant’s bestsellers and signature dishes.Lemon-dining-1-ok

We ordered the following for 10 people, 3 of whom are kids: 2 orders of Pita-Hummus (PHP300), Crispy Fried Seafood (PHP980), Standard Lamb Chops for 4 (PHP2,180, served with Greek Salad and L&O Salad on the side), Greek Kebab – Pork Tenderloin (PHP320, served with lemon pilaf rice), Pastitsio (PHP250), 3 additional Pita Bread (PHP60), and 2 plain rice (PHP60).

I only paid PHP3,969.63, with a savings of PHP222.32 for 2 seniors and 12% VAT of PHP133.39, based on the discountable amount of PHP1,111.60. Five percent service charge worth PHP175.34 was included.

The pita, dipped in hummus, was tasty, and our additional orders attest to this. Their pita is grilled with a little olive oil, which makes it crispy on the outside. Lemon-food-5-ok

The Crispy Fried Seafood was delightfully crispy, yet not greasy at all. The serving portion of this dish, consisting of a combination of squid and prawns, was appreciated by the adults in my group.  Lemon-food-4-seafood-ok

The Standard Lamb Chops were delicious and succulent, with just the right amount of herbs and seasonings. It is served with Greek Salad on the side. We were entitled to 2 salads and requested that the other salad be the L & O Salad, short for Lemon and Olives Salad. Our request was granted. Lemon-food-6-ok

Both salads were refreshing accompaniments to the lamb chops. The vegetables were fresh and crispy. The feta cheese in the Greek Salad was just right, slightly salty and tangy, and went well with the olive oil, olives and vegetables.Lemon-food-2-salad2-ok

The L&O Salad’s honey-lemon dressing satisfactorily complemented the other ingredients – pear slices, walnuts, Romaine, cucumber, cranberries and cheese.  Lemon-food-1-salad-ok

I was able to research that this restaurant has its own vegetable garden.veg garden - Feb 2016 - fr Fb acctThis picture was taken from its official Facebook account, in 2016. I guess you cannot have fresher vegetables than these! https://www.facebook.com/LemonandOlivesPH/

The Greek Pork Tenderloin Kebab was tasty, tender, and juicy; not dry. Both kids and adults alike in my group liked this grilled dish.  Sorry, no picture to share.

The Pastitsio was pretty decent (I tasted a bit of it), and off it went to the kids who seemed to enjoy it — like baked macaroni, they said.  Lemon-food-3-ok

We did not order dessert; I guess we were all full. Besides, there were yummy desserts waiting for us at our Baguio vacation place.

Overall, service was good, given that the restaurant became full before noon and when we left past 1PM, there was still a line outside of people waiting for available tables. So, if you plan to try this restaurant during your next Baguio vacation, come early, at 11AM, or better still, make a reservation.

Another aspect I check out when I dine out is the rest rooms. Well, it was well maintained and stocked, although it seemed small in size for me. However, I was told there is another rest room downstairs but I was not able to check it out. Perhaps next time.

All comments are personal and prices quoted were as of my August 2019 visit.

Here are contact details of this restaurant:

Address: 26 Outlook Drive South, Baguio 2600 Benguet

Phone: (074) 442-4079

Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/LemonandOlivesPH/

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you about your dining experience in this restaurant. 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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially those with “Senior-Moments”, not familiar with Filipino and Greek terms, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Baguio City is a highly urbanized city7 in the mountainous area of the province8 of Benguet9, in the Cordillera Administrative Region10, Philippines. It is known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, owing to its cool climate, people flock to this city especially during summer months. It is also called the City of Pines because of its elevation, at 4,810 feet (1,470 meters) above mean sea level, conducive to pine trees.

I distinctly recall when I was young, I would sleep at the back of our car but when we were nearing the city, I would automatically wake up because of the strong, yet refreshing pine scent from the pine trees everywhere.

The city is a major center of business, commerce, and education in Northern Luzon. It was founded in 1900, incorporated as a city on September 1, 1909, and became a highly urbanized city on December 22, 1979. It is composed of 129 barangays11.

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Baguio”.12

2A taverna is a small Greek restaurant that serves Greek cuisine, according to the Wikipedia page “Taverna”.13

3https://www.facebook.com/LemonandOlivesPH/

4https://ph.phonebooky.com/restaurant/lemon-and-olives-greek-taverna-baguio-city/

5Orzo, or risoni, is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. It can be colored by saffron, chilies, and black beans to yield orange, yellow, or black pasta, respectively. It can be served alone, as a soup accompaniment, as part of a salad, a pilaf, or baked into a casserole. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Orzo.”14

6Greek French fries, or Patates Tiganites, are hand-cut potatoes fried in olive oil.15

7A highly urbanized city in the Philippines is (HUC) is a city in the Philippines with a minimum population of 200,000 people and with at least 50 million pesos latest annual income. There are 33 such cities in the country, 16 of which are located in Metro Manila. As such, Baguio is administered independently from Benguet9, the province8 where it is located. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.16 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

8A province is the primary political and administrative division of the Philippines, divided into cities and municipalities17, which in turn, are divided into barangays11. It is governed by an elected legislature called the Sagguniang Panlalawigan, and by an elected governor. The provinces of the Philippines are grouped into 17 regions, based on geographical, cultural, and ethnological characteristics. There are 81 provinces at present in the country, further subdivided into component cities and municipalities17. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines”.18 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

9Benguet is a landlocked and highland province8 of the Philippines, located in the southern tip of the Cordillera Administrative Region10, in the island of Luzon. It is known as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines due to its huge production of upland vegetables like Baguio beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, peas, potatoes, sayote, and strawberries. Its capital is La Trinidad. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Benguet”.19

10The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is an administrative region in the Philippines located within the island of Luzon, bordered by the Ilocos Region to the west and southwest, and by the Cagayan Valley Region to the north, east and southeast. It is the only landlocked region in the country. It consists of 6 landlocked provinces: Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province. The regional center is the highly urbanized city of Baguio1. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cordillera Administrative Region”.20 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

11A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for village or ward. It was formerly called a barrio. It is informally subdivided into smaller areas called purok (“zone”), barangay zones consisting of a cluster of houses, and sitios, which are (usually rural) territorial enclaves far from the barangay center. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Barangay”.21

12“Baguio,” accessed August 16, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baguio

13“Taverna,” accessed August 16, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taverna

14“Orzo,” accessed August 16, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orzo

15https://www.olivetomato.com/authentic-greek-olive-oil-fries-patates-tiganites/

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

17A 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 province8, subdivided into barangays11, a town, 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines”.21

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

19“Benguet,” accessed August 16, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benguet

20“Cordillera Administrative Region,” accessed August 16, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_Administrative_Region

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

 

SAY, SAY, SAY: ARMY NAVY BURGER AND BURRITO, CONCEPCION, TARLAC

I recall, in 2009, hearing about the first Army Navy in the Philippines located along Tagaytay Ridge in Tagaytay City, almost 50 km south of Manila. In no time at all, this casual burger-burrito restaurant became popular, and branched out to other major cities in the Philippines.

The branding was unique because each restaurant’s architectural design takes inspiration from military Quonset Huts commonly described as World War I lightweight prefabricated structures of corrugated galvanized iron with a semicircular cross-section.

A camp-style dining experience was promised, along with freshly prepared, premium quality burgers and burritos. Popular bestsellers nowadays include the Bully Boy Burger, a triple-patty burger topped with onions, lettuce and tomato served in a Kaiser Bun dotted with black & white sesame seeds, and the Steak Burrito made with 100% high-quality beef.

I have dined in its various locations and have been satisfied with the quality of the food, service, and ambiance.

On August 26, 2019, however, after coming from Baguio City, my family decided to eat at its branch in City Mall SCTEX in Barangay Santiago, municipality of Concepcion, in the province of Tarlac.

It took us about 4 hours to reach Tarlac because of the volume of tourists leaving Baguio after a long holiday weekend, so we were all hungry.

As expected, the mall was full of people and there were long lines of customers, regardless of restaurant. Army Navy seemed to be inviting even if we had to wait for 25 minutes to be served. We found a table and waited for our orders.

Alas, we immediately noticed that there were flies all around – the tables, glass walls, floor, etc. I noticed that a single candle was provided on our table, but it was no deterrent for these insects, what with two full and uncovered waste disposal bins near our table. Even the kids who were with us covered their mouths for fear of a fly entering their mouth, no kidding!

We wanted to leave but we were famished by then, and we were sure that we could consume our orders in no time at all. My husband wanted to order some french fries from a famous potato stall just outside Army Navy while waiting for our orders, but decided not to do so due to the flies all over that stall too!

As usual, the mother hen in me, after hearing the number of the previous customer being called, stood up and waited patiently for our number to be called next at the claim-counter. That was where I noticed that food orders not immediately claimed   were exposed to the risk of flies to landing on them.

Our orders were placed on trays, one by one, and I requested them to be covered with their paper lining. I told family members to immediately eat and protect their orders from the flies.

My Coke Zero in can was given out earlier, along with the beverage orders of the rest of my family. I told my son to cover it while it was placed on top of our table.

The Tortilla Soup I ordered, followed, and I ate it at the claim-counter because I was really so hungry. The Bacon Cheese Fries came next. I had it covered after I took a couple of fries (sorry, I was so hungry). I then asked my son to bring it to the table and share it with others.

I ordered two Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwiches and only one was released. I gave that to a nephew. My sandwich was taking so long, and would you believe that it came last? When I went back to our table, most of my companions have finished eating and gave me feedback that they did not enjoy the meal because of the hovering flies. So, I decided to take my orders out of the restaurant, and just eat and drink them in the van.

My companions who went to the rest rooms gave me feedback that flies were all over the mall and when they asked for the reason, they were told that the source were nearby poultry farms. Perhaps, it was time for the farms to clean their premises after selling their chicken stocks, your guess is as good as mine.

My only regret was that I was not able to take any picture to document this event. I was so hungry, busy supervising the release of our orders from the claim-counter, and just wanted to get out of this place.

This miserable dining experience was not acceptable, but we had to eat lunch at 2 pm after being stuck in traffic leaving Baguio for 4 hours and this was the first decent place to stop and eat. Almost all restaurants in that mall were full at that time.

I personally do not know the cause of the fly infestation and what the stakeholders are doing to solve this situation, but bottom-line, as a customer of Army Navy on August 26, 2019, I found this situation unsanitary, and hazardous, and the CityMall and restaurant management insensitive to the customers, to say the least.

I featured the Philippine food safety standards and fly infestation in restaurants in two separate posts: A GLIMPSE OF PHILIPPINE FOOD SAFETY STANDARDS and  SAY, SAY, SAY: FLY INFESTATION IN RESTAURANTS. I am not aware what the restaurant, mall and local government units (LGUs) are doing regarding this fly infestation, but based on Philippine food safety standards and my brief dining experience in this restaurant, the following are my appeals and suggestions.

1. To the LGUs, specifically the leaders of Barangay Santiago and the town of Concepcion in Tarlac: Simply implement your mandate as per Republic Act No. 10611 – the Food Safety Act of 2013. That law stipulates that you have the primary responsibility for food safety in food businesses in your jurisdiction.

Have you investigated the cause of the fly infestation in this barangay? Implemented and enforced the food safety law? The customers of the various restaurants in this mall, and perhaps even the residents of the barangay, are definitely affected by this infestation.

What have your food safety inspectors done? Why renew the permits of erring businessmen? Are you not compelled to issue even just a suspension order to erring entities until they would comply with sanitary requirements?

If the inspector sees the flies on an inspection visit, every restaurant in the mall could be given a bad rating, or even be closed until the inspector is satisfied that the source is eliminated, and that steps have been taken to prevent the problem coming back.

For sure, customers will see the flies and eventually steer clear of the mall, costing business owners’ money, and potentially costing staff their jobs.

2. To Army Navy and the other food establishments in City Mall: You are supposed to provide a safe and comfortable environment so your customers can enjoy your delicious food and refreshing drinks. Do you think the presence of this fly infestation provides such an environment? Is it not upsetting and detrimental to the health of your customers and staff? Eventually, your reputation will suffer, and this will ultimately affect your revenue!

Have any of your customers or staff become sick due to this infestation? If not, do you still have to wait for such to happen?

Have you discussed this problem with the CityMall management and the LGUs, as well as undergone risk analysis and implemented appropriate measures?

After seeing flies in the front-of-the-house areas of this restaurant, I cannot help but think about the condition of the fly infestation at the back-of-the-house (kitchens) of all the restaurants in this mall. Do you have the Hazard Analyses at Critical Control Points (HACCP) system in your establishments?

Army Navy management, in your official website, you claim that your restaurant denotes a military culture of discipline, command, service, freedom and honor. So tell me, what you have done to solve this health hazard?

Please keep dining room-trash containers covered, preferably use self-closing lids. Assign a restaurant staff to regularly empty receptacles at the front- and back-of-the-house, and keep the areas around them free of debris and rotting food.

Constantly educate your staff on the importance of maintaining a high level of hygiene in the establishment so the risks of a fly infestation will be minimized. A pest control program should be consistently implemented daily.1

3. To the CityMall authorities: Your mall is infested with flies! Did you investigate? And what have you done so that your customers will not be exposed to this hazard? I am sorry to say this, but CityMall management, you have lost my family as future customers, unless we will be assured that this will not happen again.

Have you coordinated with the LGUs about this problem? Can you, along with the other residents of this barangay who are affected by the flies, petition the LGUs to immediately act on this problem?

Have you sought advice from a professional mall-food service fly control expert? You can also form a Pest Control Team to develop an Integrated Pest Management plan to control the fly infestation problem in your mall.1 and 2

 Similarly, you can develop an exclusion plan that is the safest and most practical method of preventing flies from entering your restaurant. Check the exterior of your mall for cracks or crevices, and fill them with caulk. Install weather stripping on windows and doors. If you can, add a set of sliding doors by the outside entrances as an extra barrier to any incoming pests. You can use high-speed fans near the exits and entrances to create air curtains that flies will have difficulty crossing.2

Light is a form of mechanical control for fly problems. Usually, insect light traps are most effective when placed near entrances such as windows and doors. It is important, however, to place lights in such a way that they cannot be seen from the outside. The goal is not to attract flies into your building, but to ensure that those already inside your building will be immediately drawn to the light source. Your pest management professional can suggest strategic locations for insect light traps, and can aid in installation. Be sure to include areas in your building that are not visible to the general public and customers.2

 4. To nearby residents: I am so sure that you are also affected by this fly infestation. Have you complained about this to your barangay and mayor’s offices? Are you keen on getting rid of this health hazard? Have you petitioned authorities to remedy the situation, now and in the future? Has any member of your family become sick due to this infestation?

5. To the establishment/s which is/are the cause of this fly infestation: Why not be socially responsible businessmen, citizens and human beings, and practice the right way to get rid of the flies from your properties, rather than just allowing these insects to fly and affect the food safety of nearby residences as well as food establishments and their customers?

6. To all government agencies tasked to properly implement Republic Act No. 10611: Why not investigate this matter so that this will no longer happen in CityMall-Tarlac, as well as in other places in our beloved country? You have been tasked to undergo thorough and rigid inspection as well as protect consumer health nationwide. We are waiting.

I sincerely look forward to the day when CityMall Concepcion, Tarlac, will be a “No Fly Zone” and hungry people from Baguio will get to enjoy dining in any restaurant in this mall!

The restaurant information was obtained from https://www.armynavy.com.ph/.

I paid for my Army Navy-Concepcion, Tarlac visit, and all comments are personal, based on my August 26, 2019 experience.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re any pest infestation in any food service establishment. 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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1https://insectcop.net/keeping-your-restaurant-fly-free/

2https://www.jppestservices.com/blog/effectively-manage-fly-problems-your-restaurant

RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM OF CANADA

Ripley’s Aquarium Canada is a public aquarium in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is owned and operated by Ripley Entertainment.

img004-2

It is located on Bremner Boulevard, to the east of the Rogers Centre, just southeast of the CN Tower, and across the street from the Roundhouse Railway Museum. It is accessible from the Union subway station using the SkyWalk pedestrian pathway.img004-3-location map

The building does not have parking of its own, but parking is available in several underground parking garages, and surface parking lots nearby. The nearest highway access is the Gardiner Expressway through the York Street exit.

It is open daily from 9AM till 11PM. It features 4-5 live diving shows daily, with a diver who feeds sea animals, while visitors watch through a glass wall and a specialist talks over a sound system about some “fin-teresting” facts!

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Here are the ticket prices* (in CAD):

Senior (65+) Adult (14+) Youth (6-13) Child (3-5)
Timed Tickets 23 33 23 10
Express Anytime Tickets  

26

 

39

 

26

 

13

Sharks After Dark 21 32 21 8

NOTE: Yes, dearest Filipino seniors, you need to be 65 years old to avail of the senior discounts in Canada. Use 1CAD = 40PHP to approximately convert to PHP.                            *HST1 is not included.

This aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Museums and Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA). It is also designated as a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

Here are 7 trivia about Ripley’s Aquarium Canada:

1. It has 7 million liters (1.25 million gallons) of marine and freshwater habitats from across the world.

2. It holds more than 16,000 exotic sea and freshwater specimens from more than 450 species.

3. Construction started in August 2011 with a cost of almost $130 million, and opened to the public in October 16, 2013, with a floor space of 12,500 m2 (135,000 sq. ft.).

This was a joint project of the federal government’s Canada Lands Company (which contributed $10 million to develop the John Street Corridor to link Front Street with the Aquarium, CN Tower and the Rogers Centre), the Government of Ontario (contributing $11 million), and the City of Toronto government (which provided property-tax incentives of $8-12 million for the first 12 years of operation).

4. The building: (a) features a multi-faceted shell clad in large aluminum panels, with the roof of the main entrance giving the illusion of the earth’s crust peeling away to reveal a window into the aquatic world; (b) was designed with special shielding so that sharks would not be disturbed by its electrical systems; and, (c) has colored surfaces that juxtapose reflective aluminum soffits.

5. It has 9 galleries:

a. Canadian Waters – This gallery features animals from all the bodies of water surrounding Canada.

It has 17 habitats with 665,000 liters of water. Its Great Lakes Exhibit has over 100,000 liters, and the Pacific Kelp has almost 360,000 liters.

It features, among others: alewife, American lobster, china rockfish, cod, giant pacific octopus, paddlefish, largemouth bass, lump fish, sturgeon, and wolf eel.

b. Dangerous Lagoon – The largest tank in the Aquarium with 2.9 million liters of water, the Dangerous Lagoon features a breathtaking underwater tunnel with a moving conveyor belt (the longest moving sidewalk in North America). Visitors will be amazed by all the sea animals swimming overhead and on each side. You will take non-stop videos and photos, for sure!img005-Dangerous Lagoon

Some of the featured animals are green moray eel, green sea turtle, green sawfish, longcomb sawfish, lookdown, Queensland grouper, roughtail stingray, sandbar shark, and sand tiger shark.

c. Discovery Centre – This gallery features various interactive exhibits and hands-on activities like the two unique, cylindrical underwater viewing bubbles, a pop-up research submarine (where you can enjoy the sensation of a deep-sea dive without getting wet), and a touch pool which allows visitors to touch living fossils.img005-Discovery Centre

The touch pool allows visitors to touch the skins of various animals like sharks and stingrays, with the expert assistance and guidance of aquarium employees. In fact, it holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest horseshoe crab touch tank, covering 37.9 m2 (407.9 sq. ft.).

Young visitors can have fun with a trip down the iconic clownfish slide, or play with a water table that replicates the complex lock system of the Great Lakes.

It is home to the blacktip reef shark, brown banded bamboo sharks, clownfish, cownose rays, horseshoe crab, palette surgeonfish, southern stingray, white spotted bamboo shark, wobbegong, and zebra shark.

d. Planet Jellies – This gallery offers a colorful display of 5 species of jellyfish, like the moon jelly, pacific sea nettle, spotted jelly, and upside-down jelly, exhibited in backlit kreisel tanks2 and color-changing displays.img005-Planet Jellies

It is one of the largest of this kind of gallery and one of the largest kreisel tanks2 in the world. It also has a ceiling exhibit so visitors can get another angle to view the jellyfish.

Our Life Cycles Exhibit showcases moon jellies at all stages of their life, from “polyp” (the stalked phase, when, as tubular shapes, they are attached to coastal reefs) to “medusa” (the reproductive phase, when they are adults and umbrella-shaped — called a “bell” — with tentacles hanging down, and floating among the planktons).3

e. Rainbow Reef – This is the most colorful gallery, and features animals from the Indo-Pacific water regions, with 200,000 liters of water, and over 100 species of fish, making it the most bio-diverse exhibit at this Aquarium. It also offers daily interactive dive shows.img005-Rainbow Reef

Examples of species in this gallery are emperor angelfish, humbug dascyllus, pajama cardinalfish, Picasso triggerfish, and unicorn surgeonfish.

f. Ray Bay – This gallery exhibits 4 distinct species of stingrays and one species of shark.img005-Ray Bay

If you get to visit during the daily interactive dive shows, you can witness aquarium divers feeding the stingrays, including the cownose ray, ocellate river stingray, roughtail ray, southern stingray, and spotted eagle ray, plus the bonnethead shark.

g. Shoreline Gallery – This gallery is located at the top of the Ray Bay gallery (see above). Visitors get to closely observe, interact and gently touch four species of stingrays – cownose stingray, roughtail ray, southern stingray, and spotted eagle ray.

It also features real shark eggs in the egg case, to allow guests to witness baby sharks swimming around within the “mermaid purse”4.

The adventuresome visitor can use the stingray barb interactive to learn more about how their stings work.

h. The Gallery – Also called Mother Nature’s Art Gallery, this gallery features 6 saltwater and 3 freshwater exhibits, with 50,000 liters of water, and some of the most delicate underwater species worldwide like the archerfish, electric eel, lined seahorse, lionfish, mudskipper, pipefish, piranha, and red lionfish.

It contains only live coral, grown on site.

You can feel the shock of an electric eel at the Electric Eel Interactive Exhibit.

i. Life Support Systems – This exhibit gives the visitors a behind the scenes look at the Aquarium’s life support systems room, especially the equipment for the Dangerous Reef and Ray Bay.

A significant number of pumping and filtration equipment is intentionally displayed in the public areas so that visitors can have a unique opportunity to see the complex environment of the Aquarium.

Sixty-eight thousand liters of water are pumped every minute in the Aquarium, using 10 pumps to deliver water to all the larger exhibits. Gosh, that is approximately 98 million liters of water every day!

Can you imagine that 95% of the water used throughout the building is recycled? Furthermore, the Aquarium has 5.2 million liters of Toronto municipal water running through carbon filters to remove the impurities. After this process is complete, the water is either circulated through the building for the Aquarium’s freshwater systems, or moved to a holding basin where salt and minerals are mixed in to create saltwater. Once mixed, the water must pass through water chemistry testing before it can be moved to any exhibit in the Aquarium.

Hmmm, you might ask, where did the 5% water loss go? Well, this loss is due to evaporation and human use in the washrooms and kitchens!

The foam fractionators use ozone gas to kill all of the microscopic bacteria. The clean water is then recycled out the bottom of the fractionator.

6. The Aquarium also features limited time exhibits like:

  • Curious Creatures, from the travels of Robert Ripley – showcasing, among others, the frogfish, giant isopod, goldfish, polka-dot batfish, peacock mantis shrimp, and sarcastic fringehead; and,
  • Swarm: Nature by Numbers– highlighting, among others, the blue bladder jellyfish, coral catfish, flashlight fish, and Halloween crab.

7. It offers 11 regular/seasonal programs: https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/programs/

a. Aquarist for a Day

b. Day Camps

c. Discovery Dive, a 30-minute guided dive so you can swim with the sharks!

d. Dive Shows + Aquarist Talks

e. Morning Yoga, in front of the colorful Rainbow Reef

f. Paint Nite

g. PD Day Camp

h. Photography Classes

i. Sea Squirts

j. Sleep with the Sharks

k. Stingray Experience

For more information, ticket pricing and annual passes, promotions, hours of operation and events calendar, weekly Aquarist Talks, galleries, programs, groups and events (group sales for more than 10 persons, request for an event, birthday parties, and Friday night jazz), field trips, sea scholars, teacher resources, meet our team, conservation, Deep Sea Diary blog, FAQs, parking and directions, hotel packages, dine and shop, accessibility bill of rights, tips for the best visit, preferred partner program, etc., visit https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/.

You can also: (1) download and print sensory guides, and (2) sign up for the “Scales & Tales” email newsletter with exclusive offers, news and behind-the-scenes information, in the said website.

Other contact information are: telephone – (647) 351-FISH (3474); toll free – 1 (877) 773-1497; TGServices@ripleysaquariumofcanada.com

The information was obtained from the following sites: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripley’s_Aquarium_of_Canada, https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/ as well as the brochure given upon admission.

First, here are some tips before you visit this Aquarium during summertime:

1. Schedule your visit during weekdays.

2. Check the official website for tickets and promotions, especially for groups of more than 10 persons.

3. Fully charge your cell phones, power banks and GoPros.

4. Bring only essential things since you will do a lot of walking and might easily get tired.

If you have kids in the group who tend to be excited seeing all the wonderful creatures, be sure to assign an adult for each of them, especially in the interactive sites.

An adult can bring a foldable chair, just in case a senior might need to rest somewhere where there are no seating provisions.

5. Bring water, drinks, snacks, and special food/drinks for kids, although there is a café within the building.

6. Bring CAD (cash) or your credit card for souvenir photos and shopping for souvenir items.

7. Educate kids before the visit to respect all sea creatures, not to tap on glass surfaces, to gently touch sea creatures, and observe silence so all visitors will have a memorable experience.

8. Encourage kids to actively participate in all interactive sites to maximize their learning experience. Bring 2 sets of extra clothing, just in case they get wet.

9. Check beforehand special events like the live dive shows (there are 4-5 daily) so you can time your visit to a particular gallery during such schedules to maximize your viewing experience. You can see the gallery-live dive schedule flashed on the wide screen at the lobby upon arrival.

Now for my July 2019 experience at Ripley’s Aquarium Canada: (I will insert pics in between)

The facade is so impressive.Ripleys-facade

My group just walked in to buy admission tickets. We did not avail of the online offer. However, this was not a problem since we easily got tickets.

It was a weekday during summertime but there were still so many groups and families all over the place. I was with my family, including a 7-yo grandchild so we definitely had to visit this attraction in downtown Toronto.

The lobby was spacious, despite the number of visitors that day. The ventilation was very comfortable, and we found ourselves going from one exhibit to another.

All exhibits were captivating, but I enjoyed the Dangerous Lagoon the most. As a senior, I appreciated the moving conveyor belt and the underwater tunnel. I could not have enough of the manta rays and sharks overhead, and the varied sea life all around!

I also got to admire the creative presentation of the different species of jellyfish in the Planet Jellies gallery, enhanced with the use of backlit kreisel tanks2 and color-changing displays.

upside-down jellies-collage-labelled

My 7-year-old grandchild availed of almost all the interactive features of the Aquarium.

He patiently fell in line to touch baby sharks and sting rays at the Discovery Centre and Shoreline Gallery.

Holding shark-labelled

He got wet in the Great Lakes Locks while playing with other kids. Great Lakes Lock

People tend to simply pass through the Life Support Systems exhibit but I shortly stayed there to know its importance to this Aquarium. Then, I looked up and saw a very unique and interesting work of art using plastics. It is called “Over Our Heads”, a sculpture using over 12,000 used plastic bottles from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)5, symbolizing the same number of plastic bottles thrown away every 4 minutes in Ontario!6 The artist is Rebecca Jane Houston7.Over Our Heads

My group watched a diver feed manta rays while a specialist talked about these sea creatures. We learned a lot, and every time the rays opened their mouths to feed, the kids and kids-at-heart always shouted.

The seniors in my group were tired so we went to the café, and had coffee and fries.ripleys-cafe - ripleyaquariums-com

The last stop was the souvenir shop, with various items, all so tempting to buy.Dine and Shop-ripleyaquariums-com

Overall, this Aquarium is definitely a place to visit in downtown Toronto for the whole family with kids who are curious and science-oriented.

RAC-conserve etc

Why not proceed to the CN Tower for dinner? Watch out for my post re this attraction.

I paid for my visit to this Aquarium and all comments are personal, based on my personal experience as of July 2019.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. 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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Canadians, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1The harmonized sales tax (HST) is a consumption tax in Canada. It is used in provinces where both the federal goods and services tax (GST) and the regional provincial sales tax (PST) have been combined into a single value added sales tax. This tax is in effect in five of the ten Canadian provinces: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island.  The HST is 13% in Ontario.8 & 9

2kreisel tank is a special horizontal cylindrical tank designed specifically to keep jellyfish. It was created to eliminate elements in a regular tank that could compromise the life of a jellyfish, like corners and bubbles. You see, jellyfish are poor swimmers and they can easily be trapped in corners and bubbles which can tear through their bells.

3http://www.differencebetween.net/science/nature/difference-between-polyp-and-medusa/

4A mermaid purse is an egg case or egg capsule (the casing that surrounds the eggs of oviparous sharks), and typically contains one embryo.

5The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is the most populous metropolitan area in Canada. It consists of the central city, Toronto, along with 25 surrounding municipalities distributed among four regional municipalities: Durham, Halton, Peel and York.

6Over 1 billion plastic bottles are not recycled in Ontario and end up in landfills or the environment every year.10

7Rebecca Jane Houston is a Toronto-based artist who works on sculpture, installation, metal work, wood work, and oil painting. She is a faculty member of the Toronto School of Art.11

8https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonized_sales_tax

9https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/tax/hst/

10https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/galleries/life-support-systems/

11https://rebeccajanehouston.carbonmade.com/about

SIQUIJOR: THE MYSTICAL ISLAND AND HEALING PARADISE

Siquijor is a small island province1 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas2 Region (Region3 VII)4. The people are called Siquijodnons.

Geographically, Cebu is to the north, Negros to the west, Bohol to the northeast, Camiguin5 to the east, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao.

Siquijor is so intriguing, mysterious, exciting to explore – the reasons why I included it in my local travel bucket list. We arrived in this island a bit hesitant, yet ready to explore its natural beauty and culture. A couple of my friends who knew I would visit this island warned me about its reputation of sorcery and magic, even if they themselves have not visited it. We heard stories about what happened to a couple of tourists who were physically affected during and after their visits, but all these needed to be verified. Talk about shady reputation!

We sought bloggers and vloggers, and became assured and convinced with what we read and saw, so we were bent on pursuing this vacation. However, to be on the safe side, my companions and I made a pact not to say anything negative, never to point towards certain places or things, and to just enjoy the view and destinations.

Here are 20 facts about Siquijor, the province1:

1. It is the smallest province in the Central Visayas Region2, and the third smallest province in the Philippines in terms of population and land area, next to Camiguin5 and Batanes6 (the smallest) at 327 sq.k. or 126 sq.mi., and a coastline 102 km (63 mi) long.

2. This province has 6 municipalities7: Enrique Villanueva, Larena, Lazi, Maria, San Juan, and Siquijor (the capital, and yes, it is also called Siquijor6). See a related post: Now You Know: THE SIX MUNICIPALITIES OF SIQUIJOR

3. This island provinceis indeed mysterious! First is the origin of the island. They say the island surfaced from the depths of the ocean during a great storm which once engulfed the region3. This storm was followed by a strong earthquake that shook the earth and sea. Amidst the lightning and thunder, an island rose from the depths of the ocean and became Siquijor island. In fact, how can you explain that during modern times, farmers have unraveled giant shell casings under farm plots?

4. Siquijor is commonly called The Mystical Island and is associated with mystic traditions. It is widely believed since the olden times that the natives of this island were men of mystery and magic who can conjure and control spirits. There are folk healers whose practices include spiritualism, along with the preparation of brews and herbal concoctions for love and health problems.

5. It has a long-time reputation as a place of magic, sorcery, mystical traditions. It is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals where incantations are sung, while the old folks make potions out of herbs, roots, insects, and tree barks. However, when we visited the island for a day on March 2019, we only saw love potions sold in small bottles and mystic wine in large bottles, along with voodoo dolls and other local souvenirs.

The Siquijodnons are predominantly Roman Catholics yet their island province1 is still known as The Mystical Island. Healers and herbalists all over the country annually come together in this island during Holy Week to perform healing, and to participate in the preparation of concoctions made from a variety of tree barks, roots, herbs, insects and other ingredients. These are gathered from the forests, sea, caves, and cemeteries during the 7 Fridays of the Lenten season. The resulting brews are deemed to have healing powers. Thus, it is also called The Healing Paradise.

Perhaps, a tourist needs to visit this island during Holy Week to witness this side of the culture of Siquijor.

6. During the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, the Spaniards called Siquijor Isla del Fuego (Island of Fire) because the island gave off an eerie glow at night from the great swarms of fireflies that lived in the branches of the abundant tugas or molave8. See my post: Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS to know more about this island’s legend, tradition, history and beliefs.

7. Each municipalityshowcases centuries-old Catholic churches, amidst the mystical traditions of the early Siquijodnons way before the Spaniards arrived. The province1 has some of the oldest churches in the Philippines: Our Lady of Divine Providence Church (Santa Maria Church) in the municipality  of Maria, established in 1887; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (Mount Carmel Church) in the municipality of Enrique Villanueva; Augustine Parish (Macapilay Church) in the municipality  of San Juan, built in 1863; St. Francis of Assisi Church (Siquijor Church) in the municipality  of Siquijor, established in 1783; St. Isidore the Farmer Church (Lazi Church), or San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in the municipality  of Lazi, founded in 1857 (see a related post: SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR PARISH CHURCH AND CONVENT, SIQUIJOR); and, Saint Vincent Ferrer Church (Larena Church) in the municipality  of Larena, erected in 1836. See a related post featuring all these churches: Now You Know: SIQUIJOR’S 6 ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES

Today, this province1 showcases the unique Philippine culture of blending Catholicism with traditional religious practices – a major part of its people’s cultural heritage, identity and character.

8. This coralline island is predominantly hilly, with many places reaching the sea, producing steep cliffs, and creating breathtaking panoramic views, perfect for your photos! It is surrounded by limestone materials, mangroves, coral reefs, and a coastline which boasts of white sand beaches that stretch up to 102 km. See related posts about two beaches I visited: SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR and PALITON BEACH: THE LITTLE BORACAY OF SIQUIJOR.

9. Siquijor’s central portion is mountainous. The highest point of the island is Mount Malabahoc, locally known as Mount Bandila-an, at 628 meters (2,060 ft) in elevation. One can still see fossils and shells on this mountain.

10. This island provinceis proud of its 400-year old Balete9 tree, located in Barangay10 Campalanas, in the town of Lazi. That is one of the oldest trees in the country and what makes it unique is the spring water flowing from its roots, which was turned into a natural fish spa for tourists. See a related post: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR

11. The island has wonderful waterfalls like the Cambugahay Falls in the town of Lazi which I was able to visit (see a related post: TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!). Cangbangag Falls, in the town of Larena, and Lugnason Falls, in the town of San Juan, are two other falls you can visit.

Cambugahay falls-labelled                                                            Cambugahay Falls

12. I was surprised to know that it has 46 caves: 4 in the town of Enrique Villanueva, 17 in Lazi, 6 in Maria, 5 in San Juan, and 12 in Siquijor. The only town without a cave is Larena (based on my research).

13. This island provincewas dubbed as the “Marine Paradise of Central Visayas4” after it was proclaimed a marine reserve11 and tourist destination in 1978 by Proclamation No. 1810. In line with this, the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) was charged with converting it into a principal tourist zone.

14. Fishing is the prime occupation, with Bohol Strait, Mindanao Sea and Siquijor Sea as the chief fishing areas. Fishponds are 15 hectares long, while swamp lands cover 71 hectares.

15. The island has 3 seaports: Larena (the biggest and main entry point of the province), Lazi and Siquijor.

16. The main spoken language is Cebuano, with English often used as a second language. Filipino is understood but rarely used and some Spanish words are spoken and understood.

17. The coral reefs ringing the island offer some of the best diving in the Philippines for snorkelers and scuba divers. Dive courses are conducted by several dive operators in this island.

18. Fossils of the giant clam, Tridacna, are often encountered in the plowed inland fields of this island. On the hilltops, there are numerous shells of the molluscan species presently living in the seas around the island. Siquijor was probably formed quite recently, geologically speaking.

19. Panglao Island, which is part of the province of Bohol and more than 80 km away, has a similar composition of the soil which is found throughout the whole island of Siquijor.

20. There are many festivals held in this island: Tubod Festival(March 19), Lenten Festival of Herbal Preparation (Holy Thursday and Good Friday, dates vary), Folk Healing Festival (Black Saturday, date varies), Tang Alap (Easter Sunday, date varies), Canoan Festival (May 3), Saging Festival (May 15), Lubi Festival (May 21/24), Pamukad Festival (July 16), Bugwas Festival (between August 27-30), Araw ng Siquijor with Solili (third week of September, including September 17), Dilaab Festival (October 1). See my post: Now You Know: THE FESTIVALS OF SIQUIJOR

See my other posts about Siquijor:

SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR PARISH CHURCH AND CONVENT, SIQUIJOR

Now You Know: CANG-ISOK – SIQUIJOR’S OLDEST KNOWN HOUSE

GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”12 and “List of festivals in the Philippines”13, https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Siquijor, https://dumagueteinfo.com/other-destinations/siquijor-island/siquijor-travel-guide/, https://www.tripzilla.ph/siquijor-visita-iglesia-guide/102, https://www.vigattintourism.com/tourism/articles/Siquijor-An-Island-that-Rose-from-the-Sea, and https://www.cocogrovebeachresort.com/special-events/siquijor-fiestas/

Now, Senior Citizens, you might ask, “How do I get to Siquijor”? Sorry, there are no direct flights to Siquijor, except from Mactan-Cebu International Airport, using Air Juan14. Air Juan has the only daily flight to and from Siquijor from Cebu: Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Siquijor Airport (ETD 12:50 pm – ETA 1:30 pm) and Siquijor Airport (ETD 2:00 pm – ETA 2:40 pm). It only takes 40 minutes via a 9-seater Cessna Grand Caravan land plane!

Sigh, this island province, to-date, has only a small airport, about 5 km west of Siquijor town. Construction to expand it into a full airport capable of handling international slights started in 2017, but as of early 2019, the project appears far from completion.15

The nearest reasonably large airport is in Dumaguete City16 which has no international flights, but is well-connected to domestic destinations, including all main airports for international arrivals. The main air hub of the region is Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Metro Cebu. Since mid-2018, the new Panglao Airport in Bohol province also handles international flights. A tourist can generally reach Siquijor by ferry from any of these places.15

What we did was fly from Manila to Dumaguete City16, with a large airport near this island, 25 km away, about a little over an hour’s flight only. We stayed there for a couple of days, then rode an OceanJet 17 from the Dumaguete Port to Siquijor (PHP380, one way), for a day tour only. Of course, seniors get a discount so do not forget to bring your Senior Citizen cards!

And, dearest Seniors, if you plan to visit Siquijor, why not buy plane tickets during promotional sales of airlines or travel agencies to get the lowest possible price?

My group rode a tricycle to the Dumaguete City16 Port, took the first trip of the fast OceanJet17 at 7:20 am, and the trip only took about an hour. An LED screen provides a movie or you can just play a game in your cellphone or IPad, go over and edit pictures/videos which you took the previous day/s, or take a nap.

You can also Google other fast crafts or ferries for your Dumaguete-Siquijor-Dumaguete trip.

You can also take the slower and cheaper ferries, taking about 2 hours, one way. It is best to book tickets a day beforehand to be sure you have seats and need not wake up so early to fall in line, especially for the first trip in the morning.

Joining the first trip is best if you plan not to stay overnight in Siquijor and be aware of travel time from your last tour-stop and the Larena seaport.

If you are coming from another place, like Manila or neighboring islands, check transportation options and schedules online, and book a ferry a day before for your visit to this island.

You need to pay a Terminal Fee of PHP25 per person before leaving the Dumaguete16 port.

I know what your next question is: how do I explore the island, especially since I will not stay overnight?

Well, upon arrival at the port in Siquijor, you have several options for a day tour of the island, depending on your budget, driving skills, length of stay in the island, and the number of persons in your group:

1. For groups with seniors and kids, it would be best to hire an air-conditioned van at PHp3,500 per day. My group availed of one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour (see: I will place a link here about the main post) offered by Yane’s Adventures Van Services18 after we arrived at the port of Siquijor.

We arrived at the port of Siquijor and walked towards its gate. As expected, we encountered different Siquijodnons who offered island tours. We did not know anyone but we were lucky to have chosen Yane’s18 and its very cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.

Jimmy showed us a laminated map of the island, complete with the various natural and man-made attractions we could see. However, we could only stay for less than 24 hours, so we selected destinations based on our online research among bloggers and Jimmy’s experience as a driver in the island, with the goal of not missing our 3:50 pm boat schedule back to Dumaguete City16.

There were so many natural and historical destinations but our group decided to choose only 6 places to visit. See our experience below.

2. Your group can book a tricycle island tour for PHP1,000 for one whole day. The tricycle is the main mode of transportation in the island. You can negotiate the places to be included in your tour so you better research ahead of time the “must visit” destinations. NOTE: Taking the regular tricycle from one town to another in this island might be more expensive so negotiate among the tricycle drivers just outside the port for a “special trip”.

3. You can rent a motorcycle and explore the island on your own, if you can drive. Plan your route before your arrival and when in doubt, or in case you get lost, the locals are hospitable and can point you to the right direction. Just Google bloggers regarding this matter because I have no personal experience about this mode of transportation. I was told that you will be asked to fill up a form.

Rest assured that the circumferential coastal road of the island is safe and well maintained. I did not notice but just a heads up because I read somewhere that there are no street lights in the island, so it might not be safe to drive alone at night.

4. There are also jeepneys with regular routes between municipalities as well as tricycles within a municipality7. This could prove to be cheaper to go around the island, especially if you will stay for more than a day. However, you may need to negotiate “special trips” for certain destinations you may want to visit that are far from the circumferential road.

For tourists staying at least overnight in the island, you can also inquire and arrange tours at the front desk of your resort.

My group had a chance to go to this island only for a day tour on March 2019, using a fast craft of OceanJet17. We bought a ticket upon arrival in Dumaguete16 so we will not have difficulty waking up very early to do all the ticketing right before boarding in the morning.

We skipped a lot of sites near the Siquijor port but we briefly stopped at the “I love Siquijor” sign for a group picture.

We only chose six destinations thereafter, for our SIQUIJOR COASTAL TOUR since the schedule of the OceanJet17 back to Dumaguete City16 was at 3:50 pm:

1. Paliton Beach, dubbed the “Little Boracay19of Siquijor”, located in the municipality7 of San Juan – see: PALITON BEACH: THE LITTLE BORACAY OF SIQUIJORPaliton beach-Siquijor-labelled

2. The 400 year old Balete tree and Fish Spa, located in the municipalityof Lazi. See ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR.Balete tree-Siquijor-labelled

3. Hapitanan, where you can show your best witch poses and enjoy fresh coconut (buko), among others, also located in Lazi – see:  GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJORHapitanan-Siquijor-labelled

4. San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent, also located in Lazi – see: SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR PARISH CHURCH AND CONVENT, SIQUIJORSan Isidro Labrador-Convent-labelledLeft photo by Greg, 3 February 2010, featured in commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Isidore_the_Laborer_Church_in_Lazi,_Siquijor.jpg

We were hungry almost midday and we asked our kind driver, Jimmy, where to eat fresh seafood along the way. He brought us to a small, open restaurant called El Monte Café & RestaurantIMG_3776

It offers an a la carte menu consisting of seafood, chicken and vegetables dishes as well as breakfast and budget options. IMG_3774

It was still early for lunch so there were no customers around.  We were also told that the seafood supplier did not deliver that day, so seafood dishes were not available. Anyway, we all ordered Chicken Barbecue. We also ordered Chopsuey to be shared. It took some time for the chicken orders to be grilled but we were satisfied with the degree of doneness, presentation, and taste when they were served. The chopsuey, however, had an average taste perhaps due to the milky looking, yet viscous sauce, but at least the vegetables were not that overcooked.Food-Siquijor-labelled

I strongly recommend that you plan where to eat for your day tour, with the help of your driver/tour guide. We just wanted a quick seafood meal and settled for what was available.

5. Cambugayan Falls, a three-tiered waterfalls where you can swim and take the Tarzan-Dive Challenge, also located in Lazi – see: TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!

Take the Tarzan-like Challenge at Cambugahay Falls

6. Salagdoong Beach, where you can swim, sunbathe, and take the Cliff Dive Challenge, located in the municipalityof Maria – see: SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJORSalagdoong Beach-labelled

What I liked about our day tour of the island is the well-paved and wide Circumferential Road of the province. Most popular attractions were along this road, or can be easily accessed from it.

Souvenirs and pasalubong20 are available in several places in the island so it is best to ask your guide where to buy handicrafts, key chains, t-shirts, herbal oils, local delicacies, etc.

Love potions-Siquijor-labelled

Siquijor souvenirs-labelled

We did not witness any witchcraft, sorcery, or scary incidents. For me, based on our short stay in this island, the mystique of this province1 lies in its beautiful waterfalls, enchanting beaches, century-old trees, relaxing fish spa, interesting history, and warm hospitality of its people. Trust Tita S!

Our driver, Jimmy, respectfully reminded us to finish early in our last destination so we will not be late for the 3:50 pm departure of our OceanJet17 ride back to Dumaguete City16. He was also so kind to get seats for us, instead of us having to fall in line to do so. So, dearest future visitors of Siquijor, look for Jimmy as your driver. He is so professional, accommodating and pleasant.

You need to pay a Terminal Fee of PHP25 before leaving the Larena Port of Siquijor. Senior Citizens are discounted so be sure to be ready with your Senior Citizen cards. (I will place a picture here.)

The following are tips when visiting Siquijor:

1. Have an open mind. Set aside the reputed negative image of this island. Google bloggers and vloggers who went ahead to be assured that you will enjoy your stay. Plan the date/s, how long you will stay, and select destinations wisely. Do not expect first class facilities in beaches, falls and other places you visit. Just appreciate its simple set up and make this trip your chance to commune with nature.

2. Check the weather beforehand. Visit this island during the summer months, preferably on a weekday, to avoid the influx of locals in the beaches and to be sure there are no typhoons to spoil your vacation.

3. Book your ferry or fast craft trip ahead of time to be sure you will have seats and need not wake up early to line up for a ticket going to this island province, especially if you will take the first trip in the morning.

4. For snorkelers, bring your own snorkeling gear and flippers.

5. Do not forget to apply sunscreen before your trip. Bring your sunscreen so you can reapply when needed.

6. Bring enough PHP cash. Research ahead of time the location of banks in certain towns for ATM and foreign card transactions. Do not forget small amounts like PHP10, 20, 50 for entrance, parking, terminal fees, and other minor fees.

ATM machines are available in Philippine National Bank (PNB) Larena (but only Visa cards are accepted) and Metro Bank along the main road in Siquijor town, accepting MasterCard and Visa.15 https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Siquijor

7. Fully charge your cell phones, cameras, power banks, and extra batteries.

8. Bring your own snacks, refillable water bottles, bamboo/metal drinking straws, etc., to destinations, but just be sure to dispose trash in proper bins. Be eco-friendly!

9. For spelunking (cave exploration as a hobby), always wear helmets and clothes which can still be comfortable when wet. Wear appropriate and comfortable footwear. Bring flashlights and extra clothing.

10. Secure belongings using a waterproof container, or designate a companion for the safekeeping of your group’s belongings.

11. Seniors, do not forget to bring your Senior Citizen card with you all the time to avail of your discount.

12. Go early to popular destinations to avoid large crowds.

13. It would be best to hire a “special trip”, i.e., a vehicle just for you and your companions for the day; because I was told that there is a lack of public transportation in the island. But no worries, once you exit the Siquijor port, there will be offers all over, so negotiate well, based on researched range of rates.

14. Just to be on the safe side, assign a companion to watch over your belongings when you swim or snorkel. Someone whispered to me that the crime rate in the island is very low. They say that locals are afraid to steal or do something bad because of their fear of the “needle”, referring to being the targets of the voodoo dolls used by certain locals. Perhaps, other tourists might be the culprits, who knows?! Just be careful, ok?

Seniors, Siquijor can be toured for a day, you just have to prioritize the places you will visit. If you want to see more than what we experienced, then add a day or two. Sorry, but we did not encounter any sorcerer or witch. Instead, we found the island-province very peaceful, safe, unpolluted, and the locals as hospitable, cheerful and friendly.

Bottomline, Siquijor is indeed a Mystical island. Be awed and fascinated by its raw beauty – its history, culture, white sand and pristine beaches, falls, hundred-year-old trees, springs, caves, mountains, and hospitable people. Yes, it is also a Healing Paradise! My visit of the island was therapeutic in a way – the captivating natural beauty of the Siquijor, the fresh breeze amidst the clear water sand white sand beaches we visited, such a peaceful island – all these, and more, restored the good vibes I needed to feel good and happy. This island is indeed so beautiful, with its unique character and simple charm! Perhaps I should revisit to see the fireflies at night when in season, and during one of its festivals to unravel more of its spiritualism and mystic, and then some!

You can visit the provincial government’s website for the list of accredited accommodations and their room rates. I cannot open the website cited by Wikipedia, www.siquijor.gov.ph, but I found its Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/siquijorgov/.12

The Provincial Government of Siquijor holds office at the New Capitol Building, Pulangyuta, Siquijor 6225, Siquijor, with telephone numbers (035) 480-9173 and 480-9076, telefax (035) 344-2088.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are personal, based on my experience in this province1. At this point, I can say that I demystified the mystical island of Siquijor!

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to Siquijor. 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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region3. There are 81 provinces (called “lalawigan”) in the Philippines. Each province is governed by an elected legislature called the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and by an elected governor. Remember, a province in the Philippines is divided into cities9 and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays10, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”21 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions3: Central Visayas4, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces1, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.22 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

3A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces1, composed of cities and municipalities7 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays10. The regions were initially identified in 1972, through Presidential Decree No. 1 of President Ferdinand Marcos. Since then, other regions have been created and some provinces have been “transferred” to another region. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”23 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region3 located in the island group of Visayas2, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units24 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”23

5Camiguin is the second smallest province1 in the Philippines, both in population and land area, after Batanes6. This island province is located in the Bohol Sea, geographically part of the Northern Mindanao Region (Region X), and formerly part of Misamis Oriental province. The provincial capital is Mambajao, also the province’s largest municipality7 in area and population. It is famous for its sweet lanzones (see related post – I will place the link here) to which the annual week-long Lanzones Festival is dedicated, held every third week of October. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Camiguin.”25

6Batanes is the smallest province1 in the Philippines, both in population and land area. This archipelago province is the northernmost province of the country, and is located in the Cagayan Valley Region (Region II). Its capital is Basco, located in the island of Batan. The entire province is listed in the UNESCO tentative list for inscription in the list of World Heritage Sites (see a related post – I will place a link here). Seven intangible heritage elements of the Ivatan26 are undergoing a process to be included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists between 2018-2025. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Batanes.”27

7A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)24, in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province1, subdivided into barangays10, and is called town, or 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”28

8Molave is a large Philippine timber tree (Vitex parviflora), known for its dense, durable, yellow wood. It was once used extensively in furniture, boats, etc. as a valuable construction material, but due to habitat loss and overharvesting, it is now classified as endangered by the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Vitex parviflora.”29

9A balete tree, balite or baliti, refers to several species of the trees endemic to the Philippines, from the genus Ficus (with large, thick, or stiff leaves), of the family Moraceae. Members of this genus are characterized by possessing a white to yellowish latex, a unique inflorescence, and a distinctive pollination system, i.e., involving a specific wasp species (i.e., fig wasp of the family Agaonidaeas pollinators). Its aerial roots which reach the soil grow into it and thicken into additional trunks. The growing roots encircle the host tree and appear to strangle the latter. The host tree eventually dies and rots, leaving a hollow cylinder of roots, which have now become the trunks of the balete tree.30

10A barangay in the Philippines 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 Wikipedia page “Barangay.”31

 11A marine reserve is a type of marine protected area (MPA)32 that has legal protection against fishing or development, according to Wikipedia page “Marine reserve”.33  The removal or destruction of natural and cultural resources in prohibited. It is created for a variety of purposes: to protect the spawning grounds of certain species, and as an outdoor laboratory that allows scientists to compare the undisturbed areas of a reserve to those impacted by human activities.34

12“Siquijor,” accessed March 8, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

13“List of festivals in the Philippines,” accessed March 8, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_festivals_in_the_Philippines

14www.airjuan.com

15https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Siquijor

16Dumaguete City is the capital and most populous city35 of the province1 of Negros Oriental, the neighboring province of Siquijor, located about 100 km to the west. It is nicknamed The City of Gentle People because of the hospitality of the locals. It is also called a University City because of the presence of 4 universities and a number of colleges, prominent of which is Siliman University, the first Protestant and American university in the country and Asia. It is also known for its beach resorts and dive sites, dolphin watching, and Apo Island’s giant turtles and awesome corals. It was also named the Best Place to Retire in the Philippines for 2018 by the Philippine Retirement Authority. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Dumaguete.”36

17Ocean Jet is the term for the high-speed water craft, owned and operated by Ocean Fast Ferries, Inc., a wholly owned Filipino corporation, offering ferry services to 10 destinations in the Philippines – Bacolod (Negros Occidental), Camotes Island and Cebu City (Cebu), Dumaguete16 (Negros Oriental), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Ormoc (Leyte), Larena (Siquijor) and Tagbilaran (Bohol), Batangas City (Batangas), and another in Calapan (Oriental Mindoro), with a fleet of 17 vessels. It was founded in 1995, then called Socor Shipping Lines (till 2001), with headquarters in Cebu City. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Ocean Fast Ferries.”37 Visit its website: www.oceanjet.net/

18Yane’s Adventures Van Services information – Address: Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor; Contact numbers: 09052133123, 09069732330 and 09183124461, look for Jade Jumawan Pestillos, and request for our very accommodating and cheerful driver, Jimmy Bueno.

19Boracay is a small island at the northwestern tip of Panay Island, in the Western Visayas Region of the Philippines. It is administered by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the provincial government of Aklan. It is known the world over for its fine white sand beaches, and was repeatedly chosen and awarded as one of the top destinations in the world for relaxation. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Boracay.”38

20 Pasalubong is the Filipino term for the tradition of giving gifts or souvenirs, from a destination visited by a Filipino, to family and friends upon one’s return home.

21“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines

22“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

23“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines

24A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities39; component cities40 and municipalities7; and, barangays10, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.41

25“Camiguin,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camiguin

26The Ivatans are a Filipino ethnolinguistic group predominant in the islands of Batanes6 of the Philippines, known for their stone houses of coral and limestone, designed to protect against the hostile climate in Batanes. Their origins remain untraced among scholars, but they are known to be an Austronesian group, i.e., a group of various peoples in Southeast Asia, Oceania and east Africa that speak Austronesian languages. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ivatan people”.42

27“Batanes,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batanes

28 “Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

29“Vitex parviflora,” accessed March 8, 2019, https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Vitex_parviflora

30https://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Balete

 31“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

32A marine protected area (MPA) is a protected area of estuaries, lakes, oceans or seas where a government has placed limits on human activity.43 The government restricts human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. It can be a wildlife refuge to research facilities. It is protected by local, state, territorial, native, regional, national, or international authorities and differs substantially among and between nations, due to limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on removing disrupting marine life.44

 33“Marine reserve,” accessed March 2, 2019, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_reserve

34https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/marine-reserve/

35A city is the local government unit24 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council), which acts as the city’s legislative body. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”45

36“Dumaguete,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumaguete

37“Ocean Fast Ferries,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_Fast-Ferries

38“Boracay,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boracay

39An independent city is a type of city35 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province1 so it does not share its tax revenues with any province. The national government and its agencies serve such a city through sub-offices of the region3 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city46 or independent component city47. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”45

40A component city is a type of city35 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city46. It is under the jurisdiction of a province1. If such a city is located along the boundaries of 2 or more provinces, it shall be considered part of the province of which it used to be a municipality7. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”45

41“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

42“Ivatan people,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivatan_people

43https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/marine-reserve/

44“Marine protected area,” accessed March 2, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_protected_area

45“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

46A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city35 in the Philippines with a minimum population of 200,000 as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and with the latest annual income of at least 50 million pesos, according to Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.45 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?).

47An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city35 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province1 in which it is geographically located and has a charter that explicitly prohibits its residents to vote for provincial officials (unless allowed to do so). It does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city46. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”45

NIAGARA FALLS, THE CANADIAN SIDE: AN AWESOME SIGHT TO BEHOLD

Niagara Falls is the collective name given to a group of three spectacular waterfalls at the southern end of Niagara Forge, between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. It is located on the Niagara River which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario.1

Niagara Falls - labelled-1I was able to visit the Canadian side on July 2019, and it is indeed an awesome beauty of nature.

The largest of the three waterfalls is Horseshoe Falls, or Canadian Falls. It is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by flow rate, and drops an average of 57 meters (188 feet) into the Lower Niagara River. It straddles the international border between Canada and the USA.

The smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lie entirely within the USA. Bridal Falls are separated from Horseshoe Falls by Goat Island, and from the American Falls by Luna Island.

For interesting trivia about Niagara Falls, visit a related post: NOW YOU KNOW: NIAGARA FALLS

By the way, it does not cost anything to see Niagara Falls. It is open 24 hours, seven days a week, year round. However, park attractions are seasonal and have their own schedules. For more information, visit www.niagarafallsstatepark.com.

Niagara Falls is located in a public place and you can take all the pictures and videos you want along the pedestrian walkway at the brink of the falls. However, if you so desire, you can enjoy any of the following with the corresponding fees:

1. Clifton Hill parking lot – If you want to enjoy the different attractions of Clifton Hill before or after visiting the falls, then why not park here? The area can accommodate 700 vehicles, with two entrances and three exits, as well as easy access to Clifton Hill (see a related post), Niagara Falls, and Hornblower Cruise (for your cruise along the falls, Canadian side). Parking fee is about CAD10 (about PHP390).

2. Hornblower Niagara Cruises– Are you game enough to ride a state-of-the-art 700-passenger catamaran or a 150-passenger jet-boat available for private functions called the Hornblower Guardian? Either vessel will take you as close as possible to the three falls.

All boarding is located at the Hornblower Lower Landing in the Great Gorge and entrance is at 5920 River Road (Niagara Parkway).

Hornblower Niagara Cruises is located on the Niagara Parkway, at the north end of Queen Victoria Park, close to the Rainbow Bridge and Oakes Garden Theatre, at the foot of the Clifton Hill tourist area.

Visit www.niagaraparks.com for more details, prices, packages, and discounts. To give you an idea about prices, adults (13+) with funicular – CAD28.95 (PHP1,135), children (5-12 years old) – CAD18.95 (PHP743), and 4-years old and under are free.

3. Journey Behind the Falls –  Why not go under the Horseshoe Falls to feel its thunderous vibrations and to experience what it feels to be behind the falls? You only need to descend 125 feet and explore 130-year-old tunnels through the bedrock.

The observation deck at the foot of this 13-storey-tall wonder will leave you breathless (and a bit wet too). But what the heck! Viewing portals were cut straight through the rock for your once-in-a-lifetime view of one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, crashing down in front of you!

An added treat from June 28 till September 1, 2019 is the night experience of the Journey Behind the Falls, with all the lights and fireworks. You can also have exclusive after-hours access at the base of the Horseshoe Falls and be fascinated by its illumination and fireworks!

4. Helicopter ride – A family vacation in Niagara Falls Canada would be so memorable if you take the  grand helicopter tour, costing a little more than CAD$100 (PHP3,920) each for a maximum of 7 passengers per 12-minute trip. Ask for family and group rates. The ride offers a taped commentary available in 12 languages. Helicopters have large panoramic-view windows, ideal for unlimited and spectacular photos and videos. Flights depart daily from 9am till sunset, weather permitting. I visited https://www.niagarahelicopters.com/our-classic-tour

5. Aside from taking the expensive helicopter tour, there are two tall structures you can also visit to appreciate the grandeur of the Falls, Canada side:

a. The observation deck of Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Ontario – This offers the highest view of the Horseshoe Falls (Ontario) and American Falls (New York), as well as the Toronto Tower in the opposite direction, from the Canadian side of the Niagara River, a 360-degree view.Skylon Tower-Ilievaart-wikiSkylon Tower at night, Niagara Falls, Ontario, own work of Ingelbert Lievaart II, 30 August 2005. See:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ilievaart-falls0805_7584smaller.jpg

The Skylon Tower was constructed by Pigott Construction of Hamilton, Ontario, on May 1964 at a cost of US$7 million, and opened on October 6, 1965. It stands at 160 meters (520 feet) from street level and 236 meters (775 feet) from the bottom of the falls.

Skylon Tower-collage                                          The Skylon Tower, different perspectives

It has 3 outside mounted “Yellow Bug” elevators which can carry passengers to the top of the tower in 52 seconds. An observation deck sits at the tower’s summit. Its colorful lights at night in recent years is also a sight to behold!

If you just want to go up the top and visit the observation deck, you will pay CAD16.24 (PHP637) for adults (13+) and CAD10.44 (PHP410) for children (4-12 years old); kids under 4 years of age are free. Special discounts may be offered for online tickets like CAD14.50 (PHP569) for adults and CAD8.50 (PHP333) for children. Be updated, visit: https://store.skylon.com/

You can enjoy lunch or dinner in its two restaurants at the top, and you can then have complimentary entry to the tower and observation deck – the lower Revolving Dining Room that seats 276 people and revolves once every hour (so be sure to reserve a table window side), and the upper Summit Suite Buffet.  Or try the fast food restaurants at the base of the tower, and stroll through the large amusement arcade and gift shops.

Visit the revolving Dining Room’s website for its menu. Prices are subject to H.S.T.1, and a 3% Attractions and Promotions Fee. Gratuities are left to the discretion of guests. For a complimentary elevation, a main course must be purchased, and the minimum charge per guest is CAD43 (PHP1,686). Anyway, if you do not go for such food, the breathtaking view of the Falls and surrounding areas will be worth it! It is open for lunch (11:30am-3pm), early dinner (4:30-5pm), and dinner (5pm onwards); savor the sunset and the awesome 360-degree view! Watch out for seasonal price changes and special offers at https://www.skylon.com/skylon-tower-menu/dinner/

For the Summit Suite Buffet menu, visit https://www.skylon.com/niagara-falls-dining/summit-suite-buffet/, the cost is CAD44.95 (PHP1,762) for adults and CAD17.95 (PHP703) for children. There are the special pricing for early bird (5-5:30pm) with reservations – CAD39.95 (PHP1,566) for adults and CAD15.95 (PHP625) for children.

b. The 175-foot (53.3 meter) ferris wheel called Niagara SkyWheel, is located in the middle of Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, and opened on June 17, 2006, at a cost of US$10 million.

Its 42 Swiss-manufactured, fully enclosed passenger cars can carry 9 people each, heated in the winter, and air-conditioned in the warmer months. It is open all year, from 9:00 am – 1:00 am, giving passengers wonderful views of the Niagara River and the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls.

SkyWheel-collage       SkyWheel, Cliftton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario – different perspectives, July 2019

Adults (12 years and above) need to pay CAD12.99 (PHP510) and kids 3-12 years old, CAD6.99 (PHP274). Savor every minute of the 12-15 minute long ride! Get updates from https://www.cliftonhill.com/tickets/individual-ticket-prices

 

 

 

The information was obtained from the following Wikipedia pages: Niagara Falls, Ontario2; Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls3; Skylon Tower4, as well as the websites – https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit-niagara-parks/plan-your-visit/niagara-falls-geology-facts-figures/, and www.cliftonhill.com

I purposely converted CAD to PHP for the benefit of my Filipino readers, at an exchange rate of 1:30.2, rounding off PHP figures.

Here are a few tips for tourists, especially seniors, who plan to visit Niagara Falls:

1. Be prepared to walk all day. It was good that at 63-years old, I walk 4-5 km almost daily with my husband. However, we still got so tired with all the walking from the parking lot, around and along Clifton Hill, all the way almost to the end of the pedestrian walkway along the Canadian side of the falls, then back to Clifton Hill and the parking lot!

img006

img008The map above was obtained from the brochure of CitySightseeing Niagara. Visit    www.citysightseeingniagara.com

You might ask, is Niagara Falls Canada accessible? Absolutely! You have the following options, on a first-come first-serve basis: (a) some Niagara Falls hotels have their own wheelchairs and scooters available for guests so better inquire at the time of your booking to ensure that one will be available for you upon arrival and for use for the Falls; (b) a few Niagara Parks Canada attractions and other establishments offer free wheelchair rentals like: Table Rock Welcome Centre which has 8 wheelchairs available for rent with a credit card imprint  or other form of acceptable identification, Marineland (in the Aquarium Dome building adjacent to the right of the admission area), Floral Showhouse, Butterfly Conservatory, RentMe Niagara Falls offers mobility equipment rentals (wheelchairs, power wheelchairs and walkers) with same day delivery, Motion Specialities (located in St. Catherines, about 20 minutes away from Niagara Falls, which offers accessibility rentals but please book in advance, for pickup or delivery for a fee), Pharmashield Dispensary and Queen Street Pharmacy (just book at least one week in advance; delivery is available), and eSkoot Niagara (which provides mobility scooter rentals, with delivery and pickup from your Niagara accommodation for a fee only from March 31-November 1, 2019).

If you visit during winter months, inquire if wheelchairs can be taken outside their building locations.

#ExploreNiagara! Visit this website for related information on accessibility: https://www.niagarafallstourism.com/plan/accessibility/

2. Bring water because you need to hydrate yourself. Besides, bottled water is expensive there. You can also bring snacks, if desired. But do try the surrounding dining outlets, stalls and bars with your companions.

3. Bring CAD cash and/or your credit card. Going to Niagara falls is free but of course, you need to eat somewhere, proceed to Clifton Hill (see a related post) or nearby attractions, or buy souvenir items.

4. Fully charge your cellphones, GoPro, and power banks to get all the photos and videos you want.

5. Travel light and bring only essential items for your walk.

6. I recommend that you spend at least an overnight stay in the Niagara Falls area to see more of the falls and enjoy other activities nearby like gaming, wine tasting, and shopping in outlets and souvenir shops.

7. It is fascinating that daylight goes on till around 9:00 pm during summer. Experience Niagara Falls at night, i.e.,10 pm onwards during summertime, and witness its nightly illuminations and fireworks!

8. Bring your whole family. There is something somewhere for every age. In fact, make this a memorable bonding time for the whole family!

9. Definitely, do not go on a weekend during summertime to avoid the influx of so many tourists!

Now for my short, but very memorable, visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. We arrived before lunch, parked in the very spacious Clifton Hill parking lot.

We came from a long drive from Scarborough and shopped at nearby Niagara outlet shops, so we decided to dine at the Niagara Brewing Company for a quick bite and tasted their beer samplers. As expected, the place was full. We were ushered to a wooden table in the patio. We ordered Chicken Wings and Chicken Fingers; both were tasty and served at the right temperature. We enjoyed them with fries as well as samples of 8 brews. The rest rooms were clean and well supplied.

We then walked along the main road, going towards the falls. Not much to say since I did not enter any attraction, just took pictures of whatever we saw, due to the limited time we could stay. See a related post for my comments regarding Clifton Hill.

Our mistake, if you can call it, is that we visited the Niagara Falls area on a Sunday during summertime so the place was teeming with tourists. The elevated border of the pedestrian walkway, as well as the walkway itself, was crammed with tourists who seemed to stay so long and/or endlessly walk in various directions. More than once, I needed to ask for space to be able to take videos and photos.

The lines for the Voyage to the Falls (Hornblower Cruises on the Canadian side) and the Journey Behind the Falls (which takes about 45 minutes) were so long that my group opted to skip these adventures.

Hornblower-3Hornblower Voyage to the Falls dock and boat, July 2019

Hornblower-Horseshoe Falls-rainbowThe Hornblower nearing the Horseshoe Falls, July 2019

The helicopter tour was expensive. The seniors in the group were tired walking around so we also did not go to the Skylon Tower either. Surrounding restaurants were full and food/refreshment stalls also have long lines but we somehow found an ice cream stall.

We left around 9pm (but there was still daylight, can you believe that?) so we were not able to see Niagara by night, which we were told was a sight to see! Perhaps, this is one reason to return to this place and stay longer to visit the casinos and other surrounding attractions.

Now that I have seen the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, I am more keen on seeing it from the American side. Perhaps, someday soon. For those who have seen both sides, pray tell which is more beautiful and tell me why, will you?

We paid for our Niagara Falls visit and all comments are personal, based on my July 2019 experience.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to Niagara Falls, not only during summertime but other seasons as well. 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.

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

1The harmonized sales tax (HST) is a consumption tax in Canada. It is used in provinces where both the federal goods and services tax (GST) and the regional provincial sales tax (PST) have been combined into a single value added sales tax. This tax is in effect in five of the ten Canadian provincesNew BrunswickNewfoundland and LabradorNova ScotiaOntario and Prince Edward Island. The HST is 13% in Ontario.5 & 6

2“Niagara Falls, Ontario,” accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naiagara_Falls,_Ontario

3“Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls,“ accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton_Hill,)Niagara_Falls

4“Skylon Tower,“ accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylon_Tower

5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonized_sales_tax

6https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/tax/hst/

 

NOW YOU KNOW: NIAGARA FALLS

Niagara Falls is the collective name given to a group of three spectacular waterfalls at the southern end of Niagara Forge, between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. It is located on the Niagara River which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario.1

Niagara Falls - labelled-1                         Niagara Falls, picture taken from the Canadian side

Niagara Falls is located in a public place and you can take all the pictures and videos you want along the pedestrian walkway at the brink of the falls. It is open 24 hours, seven days a week, year round. However, park attractions are seasonal and have their own schedules.

I was able to visit the Canadian side on July 2019, and it is indeed an awesome beauty of nature. See my personal experience in my post: NIAGARA FALLS, THE CANADIAN SIDE: AN AWESOME SIGHT TO BEHOLD.

For more information about the falls, visit www.niagarafallsstatepark.com.

Before you go to my personal visit to the falls, here are 18 interesting facts about Niagara Falls:

1. The largest of the three waterfalls is Horseshoe Falls, or Canadian Falls. It is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by flow rate, and drops an average of 57 meters (188 feet) into the Lower Niagara River. It straddles the international border between Canada and the USA.67926969_347169562860893_1535789689829588992_n

The smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lie entirely within the USA. Bridal Falls are separated from Horseshoe Falls by Goat Island and from the American Falls by Luna Island.American Falls-Bridal Falls

The falls are 27 km (17 miles) north-northwest of Buffalo, New York, and 121 km (75 miles) south-southeast of Toronto, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.

The height of the American Falls ranges between 21-34 meters (70-110 feet), taken from the top of the falls to the top of the rock pile at the base, called the talus slope. The height of the falls from the top of the falls to the river is 57 meters (188 feet). Its crest line is approximately 260 meters (850 feet) wide.

The crest line of the Canadian Falls is approximately 670 meters (2,200 feet) wide. The plunge pool beneath the falls is 35 meters (100 feet) deep.

2. Now what is the thing called the Whirpool in Niagara Falls?

The huge volume of water rushing from the falls is crushed into the narrow Great Gorge, creating the Whirpool Rapids that stretch for 1.6 km (1 mile). The water surface here drops 15 meters (50 feet) and the rushing waters can reach speeds as high as 9 meters per second (30 feet per second)!

Whirlpool_aerial_view-Zwergelstern-wikiNiagara River: Whirlpool (aerial view). The outskirts of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Glen-View Park is in the lower left, and the Whirlpool Golf Course is in the upper right – own work, Zwergelstern – commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Niagara_Falls_Whirlpool_aerial_view.jpg

The Whirlpool is a basin 518 meters (1.700 feet) long by 365 meters (1,200 feet) wide, with depths up to 38 meters (125 feet). This is the elbow, where the river makes a sharp right-angled turn.

In the Whirlpool, you can see the “reversal phenomenon“. When the Niagara River is at full flow, the waters travel over the rapids and enter the pool, then travel counter-clockwise around the pool past the natural outlet. Pressure builds up when the water tries to cut across itself to reach the outlet, and this pressure forces the water under the incoming stream.

Whirlpool_Spanish_Aero_Car-CmgleeThe Niagara Whirlpool with an approaching Spanish Aero Car – own work, Cmglee – en.wikimedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Whirlpool#/media/File:Niagara_Whirlpool_Spanish_Aero_Car.jpg

The swirling waters create a vortex, or whirpool. The,n the waters continue their journey to Lake Ontario. If the water flow is low (water is diverted for hydroelectric purposes after 10pm every night), the reversal does not take place; the water merely moves clockwise through the pool and passes to the outlet.

3. Can you believe that Niagara Falls is not the tallest waterfall in the world, although it looks so huge? Nonetheless, what is so impressive and breathtaking is the combination of height and the volume of flowing water.

Just imagine that the combined falls have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America that has a vertical drop of more than 50 meters (160 feet).

Horseshoe Falls-1

More than 168,000 cubic meters (6 million cubic feet) of water go over the crestine of the falls every minute during peak daytime tourist hours!

The rapids above the falls reach a maximum speed of 40 km/hr or 25 mph, with the fastest speeds which occur at the falls themselves reaching 68 mph.

The water through the Whirlpool Rapids below the falls reaches 48 km/hr or 30 mph, and at Devil’s Hole Rapids 36 km/hr.

The International Boundary Waters Treaty stipulates the minimum amount of flow over the falls during daytime, nighttime, and the tourist season.

4. Now, where do you think all the water comes from? Let Tita S tell you. The Great Lakes is the world’s largest surface freshwater system, containing about 18% of the world’s supply. If spread out, the volume of water in the Great Lakes would cover North America in  about 1 meter (3.5 feet) of water,

The water flows from streams and rivers that empty into the Great Lakes, from Lake Superior, down through Niagara to Lake Ontario, then into the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean. Water always flows down to the sea, and the land slopes downward through the Great Lakes Basin, from west to east, but the Niagara River actually flows north!

Today, less than 1% of the water of the Great Lakes is renewable on an annual basis (precipitation and groundwater). The rest is a legacy from the last ice age, or “fossil“ water. There is still water in the Great Lakes because they rely heavily on replenishment or renewal from precipitation (rain, sheet, snow and hail) and groundwater.

5. Did you know that there is a brown foam below Niagara Falls? What causes it?

The brown foam below Niagara Falls is a natural result of tons of water plummeting into the depths below but it is not dangerous! The brown color is clay, which contains suspended particles of decayed vegetative matter, mostly from the shallow eastern basin of Lake Erie.

6. With such a large amount of flowing water, one cannot help but ask how the water is used.

The waters of the Niagara Rover are used by a combined Canada-USA population of more than a million people, for a wide range of purposes, such as drinking water, recreation (boating, swimming, bird-watching), fishing, industrial cooling water supply, receiver of municipal and industrial effluents, and hydro-power generation (Sir Adam Beck Station in Ontario and New York State Power Authority).

7. So, how much water from the Falls is diverted?

The level of water flow from Lake Erie into the Niagara River has been regulated by the International Joint Commission (USA and Canada) since 1910, based on the 1950 Niagara Treaty. The treaty requires that during the daylight hours of the tourist season (8am-10pm local time, April 1-September 15) and 8am-9pm local time from September 16-October 31, the flow over Niagara Falls must not be less than 2,832 cubic meters per second (100,000 cubic feet per second). At other times, the flow must not be less than 1,416 cubic meters per second (50,000 cubic feet per second).

The treaty specifies that all water in excess of that required for domestic and sanitary purposes, navigation and the falls‘ flow may be diverted for power generation.

8. Boat cruises are available for tourists to be ferried to the falls. The American side offers the Maid of the Mist Boat Cruise, while the Hornblower Niagara Cruises services the Canadian side.

ships2-2Maid of the Mist (American boat – to the left, with passengers wearing blue raincoats) and the Hornblower (Canadian boat – to the right, with passengers wearing red raincoats)

9. There is a part of the pedestrian walkway at the brink of the falls of the Canadian side which is wet due to the mild mist or drizzle from the falls so many miles away! I experienced this when we were walking near the Horseshoe Falls. For those of you who went to the American side, is there such a part of the viewing walkway too?

pedestrian walkway-1                     Part of the pedestrian walkway, Canadian side, summer 2019

10. I was told that Niagara Falls ices up and the most recent occurrences were in 2014 and 2017. I could not imagine that such a large body of water could be frozen.

11. On the Canadian side, you can access the falls through Queen Victoria Park which features manicured gardens and walkways offering views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls.

Queen Victoria Park is the main parkland in Niagara Falls Canada, considered the centerpiece of the Niagara Falls recreational tourist area. It is opposite the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls, established by a Provincial Park Act in 1885 and opened in 1888. It is operated by the Niagara Parks Commission.

It is known for its outstanding flower displays of daffodils and roses in-season. It is also the focal point for the annual winter Festival of Lights.

Tesla-1The Nikola Tesla Monument, Queen Victoria Park, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada – I was too tired to cross the street so I just zoomed to take this statue. I salute Tesla for the electrification of the world through his modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system design. This statue shows Tesla standing atop an AC motor by sculptor Les Drysdale, unveiled  on July 9, 2006. You might ask, why this tribute? Well, Tesla designed the first hydro-electric power plant at Niagara Falls and, with George Westinghouse, started the electrification of the world.1

12. Clifton Hill is a major tourist promenade, with its main road leading to Niagara Falls and the Niagara River. It stretches from the River Road on the Niagara Parkway and intersects with Victoria Avenue. It offers a major amusement area and center for day and night life for all ages, with its gift shops, wax museums, haunted houses, video arcades, restaurants, and themed attractions. See a related post: Clifton Hill, Niagara: A Mecca of Fun.

13. The Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, commonly known as the Rainbow Bridge, is an arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge which connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, USA (to the east), and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (to the west). It was designed by architect Richard (Su Min) Lee, constructed at a cost of US$4 million, and officially opened on November 1, 1941 (77 years ago). It has a total length of 1,450 feet (440 meters) with a height of 202 feet (62 meters). It is maintained by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.

Rainbow Bridge-Collage                                 Rainbow Bridge, different perspectives, July 2019

14. The first time you actually see this wonderful natural attraction, you wonder how it was formed and how old it is.

Well, it was formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago), and when the ice melted, the water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment, en route to the Atlantic Ocean.

Southern Ontario, 18,000 years ago, was covered by 2-3 km thick of ice sheets and the latter advanced southward and gouged out the basins of the Great Lakes. They then melted northward for the last time and released vast quantities of melt water or fossil water into these basins.

The Niagara Peninsula became free of the ice about 12,500 years ago. The ice retreated northward, its melt waters began to flow down through what became Lake Erie, the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, originally with 5 spillways, at the escarpment at Queenston-Lewiston, and from there, the falls began its steady erosion through the bedrock.

Through time, the glacial melt waters were rerouted, but about 5,500 years ago, it once again routed through Southern Ontario, restoring the river and falls to their full power, and the falls reached the whirpool. A geological phenomenon occurred which left behind a 90-degree turn in the river we know today as the Whirlpool, and North America’s largest series of standing waves called the Whirlpool Rapids.

15. The Falls has moved back 7 miles in 12,500 years, and may be the fastest moving waterfalls in the world.

16. If you go close to the water you will see that it is green. Now, I wonder why it is so?

The green color of the Niagara River is proof of the erosive power of water. An estimated 60   tons of dissolved minerals are swept over Niagara Falls every minute! The green color comes from the dissolved salts and “rock flour“, i.e.,  very finely ground rock, picked up primarily from the limestone bed, but probably also from the shales and sandstones under the limestone cap at the falls.

17. Did this thought ever cross your mind while sitting at the edge of, or taking a picture along, the pedestrian walkway of the falls: What if I fall past the guardrails, can I swim and survive Niagara Falls?

Basically, you cannot survive, that is why some people atempt (and succeed) in committing suicide by falling there. Remember, 6 million cubic feet of water rush over the falls every minute during peak daytime hours, at 25-68 mph (above the falls-over the brink), and chances are, you will hit rocks!

If you do miss the rocks, your next threat are the bubbles. You see, the plunge pool under the waterfall is like a big surf and there is so much air mixed with the water so you cannot swim in it. Everything goes black in big surf because the sunlight is blocked out by the bubbles.

However, if you are so lucky and you survive the bubbles, the turbulence and darkness underwater would probably disorient you, and just hope and pray that you get pushed up! You also have to reckon with the debris around you; you will definitely get bashed underwater.

Well, if it is still not your time to go to heaven and manage to surface and float in a bruising current, the cold will hit you. Niagara’s waters are around 30ºF and it takes about 3 minutes before you black out, or the shock of cold water can trigger a heart attack.

The task force gives you less than 15 minutes in water that is freezing or below, and 15-30 minutes in water up to 40ºF. Pray that they rescue you before that!

Need I say more? Be careful, will you?!

18. With such a strong and powerful water flow every second 24/7, one cannot help but think of erosion and the future of Niagara Falls!

It seems that below the hard-rock formation, comprising about two-thirds of the cliff, lay the weaker, softer, sloping Rochester Formation (Lower Silurian). This formation was composed mainly of shale though it has some thin limestone layers and ancient fossils.

In time, the river eroded the soft layer that supported the hard layers, undercutting the hard caprock, which gave way in great chunks. This process, repeated countless times, eventually carved out the falls.

Alas, nothing lasts forever and the falls continues to erode but the rate has been greatly reduced due to flow control and diversion for hydro-power generation. Recession for at least the last 560 years has been estimated at 1-1.5 meters per year.

Its current rate of erosion is estimated at 30 cm (1 foot) per year, and could possibly be reduced to 1 foot per 10 years, a difficult responsibility of the International Joint Commission. Some major factors to reckon with include, among others: the abrasive action of the softer shales by fallen limestone boulders and no one knows when the next major rock falls will occur; climate change which may dry up the Great Lakes Basin and affect the water flow through the Niagara River; and, the action of frost from the spray and the dissolving action of the spray itself.

All things considered, scientists speculate that perhaps 2,000 years from now, the American Falls could dry up. The Canadian Falls will notch back for about 15,000 years, traveling back about 4  miles to a softer riverbed, after which the rate of erosion will change significantly, and the falls could be replaced by a series of rapids.

Fifty thousand years from now, at the present rate of erosion, the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie will have been undermined. There will not be a falls anymore, but there will still be a river at work.

Let us all pray that the plans of the institutions responsible for the falls will succeed in this regard. Thank God it will not happen in our lifetime so, dearest Seniors, if you have not yet seen Niagara Falls, visit it soon and marvel at its beauty and power!

The information was obtained from the following Wikipedia pages: Niagara Falls, Ontario2; Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls) 3; Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls4; Skylon Tower5, and Queen Victoria Park6, as well as the websites – https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit-niagara-parks/plan-your-visit/niagara-falls-geology-facts-figures/, www.popularmechanics.com/adventure/outdoors/tips/a6960/how-to-survive-an-accidental-plunge-over-niagara-falls/ and www.cliftonhill.com

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re other facts you might want to add to this post, or comment on the above facts. 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. Do visit my post: NIAGARA FALLS, THE CANADIAN SIDE: AN AWESOME SIGHT TO BEHOLD. Thank you.

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1www.teslasociety.com/victoria.htm

2“Niagara Falls, Ontario,” accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naiagara_Falls,_Ontario

3Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls),“ accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Bridge_(Niagara_Falls)

4“Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls,“ accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton_Hill,)Niagara_Falls

5Skylon Tower,“ accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylon_Tower

6Queen Victoria Park,“ accessed August 6, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Victoria_Park  

Now You Know: THE SAN PEDRO BELL OF BAUANG, LA UNION: RETURNED AFTER 115 YEARS

Did you know, dearest Senior Citizens, that there was another Philippine church bell taken by the Americans during the Philippine-American War1 in 1901?

Yes, there was! It is called the San Pedro Bell, taken from Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang2, La Union3, one of the oldest Catholic churches in the Philippines.

Sounds like Balangiga4, right? Well, not exactly. Let Tita S tell you about it because you might want to visit it this year and appreciate it more.

The San Pedro bell is the church bell5 that was originally presented to Friar Mariano Garcia on behalf of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in 1883 by Governor Mariano Balancio, and Hilario Calica.

san pedro bell-CBCPNewsSource: CBCP News

Named after one of the patron saints of Bauang, Saint Peter (“San Pedro” in Tagalog), the bell is made of copper, gold, and silver, and weighs 883 pounds.

sanpedrobell-newsinfo.inquirer.netThe San Pedro Bell of Bauang, La Union, Philippines – Source: newsinfo.inquirer.net

It remained in the church belfry until 1901 when it was removed by US forces stationed in the Philippines.

The circumstances surrounding the removal of the bell and its journey to the USA remain lost in history.

However, US Military Academy (USMA) Chief of Staff Colonel Wayne A. Green recalled that the San Pedro bell was almost destroyed at the outbreak of the Philippine-American War1 in 1899, when bells were being melted down and made into guns. The Americans claimed that the advance of American forces in La Union3 “saved” the bell. Thus, the bell remained intact and the Americans brought it to the USA as a war souvenir.

General Thomas Barry, a West Point graduate from Class 1877, was one of the American Army officers who served in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War1. In 1915, he became the USMA’s 21st Superintendent, and during his time there, he presented the bell to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, where it remained for the next century.

“But after its arrival in West Point, the San Pedro bell remained in the belfry of the Most Trinity Chapel for years, unhung, unrung, sitting in silence. It was discovered in 1959, during the chapel expansion, and for several years, it rested outside the chapel, proudly sitting in a place of honor ….”

In 2015, Former United States Navy officers Dennis Wright and Dan McKinnon were part of a group of American Veterans who re-discovered the bell in West Point. These American ex-servicemen, along with Dr. Rolando Borrinaga of the Philippines’ National Commission for Culture and the Arts, “campaigned to have the bells repatriated”.

Subsequent research identified that the bell belonged to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Bauang2, La Union3. The American veteran group then worked with Fr. Ronald R. O. Chan (the parish priest of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang2, in La Union3) and Mayor P. de Guzman III to formally request that the bell be returned to its home church.

Filipino cadet Don Stanley Dalisay of Tigloy, Batangas, an economics and operations research junior, helped to establish the bell’s history by taking pictures and sending them to two University of Santo Tomas (UST) professors who were enlisted in 2015 to research the subject.

Obviously, no one in West Point knew about the bell’s history until USMA’s Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Jr. received a letter on November 10, 2015 from Fr. Ronald Chan.

Based on the UST Professors’ research, the letter basically requested the USMA to return the bell. After verifying that the markings on the bell matched the descriptions provided by Fr. Chan, the superintendent responded two months later: “While we have been honored to guard and display this bell for the past several decades, we would be glad to return the bell to its rightful home.” He added that this was being done as a gesture of goodwill and in recognition of American’s enduring friendship with the Philippines.

Special recognition and thanks were extended to the following: Lieutenant General Casten, Jr., Captain Dennis L. Wright (USN, Retired), Rear Admiral Daniel W. McKinnon, Jr. (SC, USN, Retired) and Captain John P. Gilmer (USMA ’74), and Ambassador Raul R. C. Rabe.

Appropriate arrangements were eventually made for the bell’s transfer, culminating in a valediction ceremony that was held at the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel on April 29, 2016. Around a hundred members of the Filipino-American community, Philippine Embassy officials, diplomats and scholars, and US Military Academy (USMA) cadets, staff, officers and guests, gathered for the send-off.

USMA Chief of Staff Colonel Wayne A. Green remarked that sending the San Pedro bell home was “the right and honorable thing to do.” He added: “And so we are here today, in the spirit of friendship and cooperation with our friends from the Philippines, to say farewell to the San Pedro bell, which has been part of the West Point community for many years, and return it to its rightful place.”

Consul General (Ret.) Sonny Busa, who represented the Filipino American community, the US-Philippine Society, and the West Point Society of the Philippines, at the hand-over, pointed out that “the bell would have seen many momentous historical events in the history of America: two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The bell has seen thousands of America’s finest young men and women pass by. It has rung for their weddings. It has tolled for their funerals. It has rung for their homecomings. It has tolled for their departures.”

A choral rendition of Bayan Ko (“My Country”), led by a dozen members of the Washington, DC based-Philippine American Foundation for Charities (PAFC), followed Busa’s remarks, and the Filipino cadets and several guests joined in the singing.

After the mass, the chaplain rang the bell, while others gathered around the bell, and took turns to ring it too. The bell was then unbolted from its base, carted off by a half dozen professional movers, loaded on to a flat bed truck, and taken to a warehouse where it was crated for shipping.

After a few days, the San Pedro bell was airlifted to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, then finally transferred to its original home – the Church of Saints Peter and Paul – where a big celebration was set on May 23, 2016, according to the Wikipedia page “Bauang”.6

San_Pedro_bell-common.wikimedia.orgSource: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Pedro_bell.jpg

The return of the San Pedro bell revived the interest for the return of the three Balangiga bells7 to the Eastern Samar8 town of Balangiga4. The latter event happened after two years. See a related post: THE BALANGIGA BELLS–A TIMELY HOMECOMING AFTER 117 YEARS!

Most of the information was obtained from www.globalnation.inquirer.net.

Did you find this post informative? Have you been to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Bauang, La Union? Have you seen the San Pedro bell? 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.

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The following terms are defined for the benefit of interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, or those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1The Philippine-American War was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic9 (FPR) and the US. It lasted from February 4, 1899 to July 2, 1902. Filipino nationalists viewed the conflict as a continuation of the struggle for independence that began in 1896 with the Philippine Revolution10, while the US government regarded it as an insurrection. The conflict arose when the FPR objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris11 under which the US took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish-American War (April 21, 1898 – August 13, 1898). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Philippine-American War”.12

2Bauang is a first class municipality13 in the province14 of La Union3, in the Ilocos Region (Region 1)15, in the island of Luzon16, in the Philippines, according to Wikipedia page “Bauang”.6

3La Union is a province14 in the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region (Region 1)15, in the island of Luzon16, in the Philippines. Its capital is the city of San Fernando, which also serves as the regional center of the whole Ilocos Region. This province is bordered by Ilocos Sur to the north, Benguet to the east, Pangasinan to the south, and to the west by the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “La Union”.17

4Balangiga is a fourth class municipality13 in the southern coast of the island of Samar facing Leyte Gulf, in the province14 of Eastern Samar8, in Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)18, in the Philippines. It sits at the mouth of the Balangiga River. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Balangiga”.19

5A church bell, in the Christian tradition, is a bell rung in a church for a variety of reasons and can be heard outside the building. Examples are: to call worshippers to the church for a communal service, to announce the time of daily prayer, to signify special occasions like wedding or funeral service, and some believe to drive out demons. This cup-shaped metal resonator, hung within a steeple or bell tower of a church or religious building, has a pivoted clapper hanging inside which strikes the sides when the bell is swung. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Church bell”.20

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

7The Balangiga bells are three church bells5 taken by the United States Army from the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir, the town church of Balangiga4, diocese of Borongan21, province14 of Eastern Samar8, in the Philippines, as war trophies22 after reprisals following the Balangiga massacre in 1901 during the Philippine-American War1. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Balangiga bells”.23

8Eastern Samar is a province14 in Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)18, in the Philippines, which occupies the eastern portion of the island of Samar, according to the Wikipedia page “Eastern Samar”.24

9The First Philippine Republic, or Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines, formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899, in the city of Malolos, province of Bulacan. It ended during the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901, in Palanan, Isabela. The information was obtained from theWikipedia page “First Philippine Republic”.25

10The Philippine Revolution was a revolution that began in August 23, 1896 when the Spanish authorities discovered the Katipunan, an anti-colonial secret organization, and ended on August 13, 1898, after Emilio Aguinaldo issued the Philippine Declaration of Independence on June 12. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Philippine Revolution”.26

11The Treaty of Paris was an agreement, signed on December 10, 1898, that involved Spain relinquishing nearly all the remaining Spanish Empire, especially Cuba, and ceding Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the US, thus ending the Spanish-American War27. It came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged. The cessation of the Philippines involved a payment of US$20 million from the US to Spain. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Treaty of Paris (1898)”.28

12“Philippine-American War,” accessed November 2, 2018,

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine-American_War.

13A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)29, in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province14, subdivided into barangays30, a town, 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines”.31

14A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region32. There are 81 provinces (called “lalawigan”) in the Philippines; see a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?. Each province is governed by an elected legislature called the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and by an elected governor. The information was  obtained from the Wikipedia page “Province”.33 

15The Ilocos Region (Region 1) is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon16, with San Fernando (La Union) as its regional center. It has 5 local government units (LGUs)29: Dagupan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union3 and Pangasinan. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ilocos Region”.34

16Luzon is one (of the 3) major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It is the largest (ranked 15th largest in the world), most populated island as well as the economical and political center of the country. It is composed of 8 regions32: Bicol, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Ilocos15, MIMAROPA and the National Capital Region. The 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Visayas35 and Mindanao36. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Luzon”.37

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

18Region VIII, called the Eastern Visayas Region, is a Philippine region32 located in the island group of Visayas35, with Tacloban as its regional center. It lies on the east central section of the Philippines and faces the Philippine Sea to the east. It has 8 local government units (LGUs)29: Biliran, Eastern Samar8, Leyte, Northern Samar, Ormoc, Samar, Southern Leyte and Tacloban. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Eastern Visayas”.38

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

20“Church bell,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_bell.

21Borongan is a component city39 and the capital of the province of Eastern Samar, in the Eastern Visayas Region18, Philippines. It was founded on September 8, 1619 and became a city on June 21, 2007, according to the Wikipedia page “Borongan”.40

22A war trophy is an object or souvenir taken from a battlefield after a victory, and displayed as a cultural object, and becomes the property of the state to which the soldiers responsible for the capture belonged. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “War trophy”.41

23“Balangiga bells,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balangiga_bells.

24“Eastern Samar,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Samar.

25“First Philippine Republic,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Philippine_Republic.

26“Philippine Revolution,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Philippine_Revolution.

27“Spanish-American War,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_American_War.

28“Treaty of Paris,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of-Paris.

29A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces14 and independent cities42, component cities39 and municipalities13; and, barangays30.

30A 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”.43

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

32A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 18 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES? NOTE: It is further subdivided in provinces14, composed of cities and municipalities13 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays30, formerly called barrios. The information is obtained from the Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines”.44

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

34“Ilocos Region,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilocos_Region.

35Visayas is one (of the 3) major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas18 and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces. The 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon16 and Mindanao36. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Visayas”.45

36Mindanao is one (of the 3) major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It is the second largest island of the country and covers 6 administrative regions: CARAGA Region, Davao Region, Northern Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN, Zamboanga Peninsula, and ARMM. It is composed of 22 provinces14 and 33 cities47. The 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon16 and Visayas35. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mindanao”.46

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

38“Eastern Visayas,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Visayas.

39A component city is a type of city47 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city48. It is under the jurisdiction of a province14. If such a city is located along the boundaries of 2 or more provinces, it shall be considered part of the province of which it used to be a municipality13. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.49

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

41“War trophy,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_trophy

42An independent city is a type of city47 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province14so it does not share its tax revenues with any province14. The national government and its agencies serve such a city through sub-offices of the region32 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city48 orindependent component city50. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.49

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

 44“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines.

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

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

47A city is the local government unit (LGU)29 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council), which acts as the city’s legislative body.

48A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city47 in the Philippines with a minimum population of 200,000 as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and with the latest annual income of at least 50 million pesos. There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines; see a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.49

49“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philipippines.

50An independent component city (ICC) is a city47 in the Philippines which is independent from the province14 in which it is geographically located. It has a charter that explicitly prohibits its residents to vote for provincial officials. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.49

SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR PARISH CHURCH AND CONVENT, SIQUIJOR

The Lazi Church, or San Isidro Labrador Parish Church, is a Roman Catholic church in the municipality1 of Lazi2 (formerly Tigbawan), in the province3 of Siquijor4, Philippines.

1024px-St_Isidore_the_Laborer_Church_in_Lazi,_SiquijorGreg – originally posted to Flickr https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazi_Church#/media/File:St._Isidore_the_Laborer_Church_in_Lazi,_Siquijor.jpg

It is under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Dumaguete5. It became an independent parish on August 8, 1857. The sea stone-wood, neoclassical-style6 church was built in 1884 by Filipino artisans, followed by the bell tower the following year, under the direction of Recollect7 priest Father Toribio Sanchez. The church has two pulpits, and has retained its original retabloand wood floorings.

This church was my group’s fourth stop (out of six) during our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour. We rented an air-conditioned van owned by Yane’s Adventures Van Services6 after we arrived at the port of Siquijor. We were lucky to have a very cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.2-parking-Jimmy-cropped

I wanted to enter this 135-year old church, see the belfry, light a candle, and take pictures, including the grotto, but when we visited it on March 25, 2019, it was closed for renovation. Perhaps, this is one reason why I should return to this island province3.1-Lazi-Church-constructionGreat news, target date of completion is May 21, 2019! Please give me feedback if this target was met.

Anyway, at the opposite side of the street is the church’s big convent. The construction of this U-shaped, bahay na bato10 convent was made with coral stones and hardwood, commenced in 1887, and completed in 1891, also under Fr. Toribio.

1024px-Lazi_Convent_ColorThe Lazi Convent in 2012 (Carmelo Bayarcal, own work created June 10, 2012, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazi_Church#/media/File:Lazi_Convent_Color.JPG)

1-Lazi-trees-afar-ok

It is one of the largest convents built during the Spanish colonial era11, at 42 meters by 38 meters (138 ft. by 125 ft.). The ground floor has stonewalls and the second floor has wooden panels. A street sweeper I talked with said that this convent is the largest and oldest in Asia. I need to research to verify that claim.

The convent is funded by donations from parishes and missions of the Recollects7. Partitions of the convent were removed, but the original structure was maintained. It now houses the Siquijor Heritage Museum which has collections of important church relics and paraphernalia.

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to enter this convent. I merely took pictures of it from the road. I also admired, took pictures, and touched the three trees along the street which look like at least a hundred years old. BeFunky-collage-Lazi Trees

Lazi Church was declared a National Historical Landmark12 by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines13 in 1984, and a National Cultural Treasure14 by the National Museum of the Philippines15 in 2001. It was also nominated to be part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites16 Tentative List since 2006, under the collective group of Baroque17 Churches of the Philippines (Extension), together with the churches of Patrocinio de Maria in Boljoon, Cebu; La Immaculada Concepcion in Guiuan, Eastern Samar; San Pedro Apostol in Loboc, Bohol; and San Mattias in Tumauini, Isabela. In 2014, the government announced its plan to nominate this church in the World Heritage List.

800px-Allan_Jay_Quesada_-_Lazi_Church_DSC_2365Lazi Church in 2016 (Allan Jay Quesada, own work, 20 April 2016, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Allan_Jay_Quesada_-_Lazi_Church_DSC_2365.jpg)

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia pages “Lazi, Siquijor”18 and “Siquijor”19.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are based on my personal experience in this province3.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!, ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR, SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJORGET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR, PALITON BEACH: THE LITTLE BORACAY OF SIQUIJOR,  and Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to this historical church and convent. 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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

 1A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)20, in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province3, subdivided into barangays21, and is called town, or “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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”22

 2Lazi, formerly called Tigbawan, is a coastal municipality1 in the island province3 of Siquijor4, with 18 barangays21. It is located in the southeastern side of the island, between the towns of San Juan in the west and Maria from the east. It is known for its Roman Catholic church called San Isidro Labrador Parish Church (see above), the Convent in front of it (see above), the 400-yo enchanting balete tree with fish spa (see my post: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR), and Cambugahay Falls (where you can accept the Tarzan Swing-Dive Challenge; see my post: TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lazi, Siquijor”18 and “Siquijor”19. Visit this site for more information: http://www.phtourguide.com/municipality-of-lazi-in-siquijor/

 3A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region23. There are 81 provinces (called “lalawigan”) in the Philippines. Each province is governed by an elected legislature called the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and by an elected governor. In the Philippines, a province is divided into cities24 and municipalities1 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays21, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”25 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

 4Siquijor is an island province3 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas Region (Region VII)26. Its capital is the municipality1 which is also called Siquijor. This coralline island is predominantly hilly, and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing steep cliffs. Geographically, Cebu is to the north, Negros to the west, Bohol to the northeast, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao. It has a long-time reputation as a place of magic, sorcery, and mystical traditions. It is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals where incantations are sung, while the old folks make potions out of herbs, roots, insects, and tree barks. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.19

5Dumaguete is the capital city24 and main port of Negros Oriental, a province3 in Central Visayas (Region VII)26, of the Philippines. This laid-back university town is called the “City of Gentle People”. It has a charming sea-front boulevard, the most popular destination in the Philippines for retiring abroad, and among the top 10 tourist destinations in the country. The information was obtained from the Wikivoyage page “Dumaguete”.27

6Neoclassical architecture is an architectural style that began in the mid-18th century, characterized by grandeur of scale, simplicity of geometric forms, dramatic use of columns, Greek/Roman detail, and a preference for blank walls.28

7The Recollects were a French reform branch of the Order of Friars Minor created at the end of the 15th century, commonly known today as the Franciscans, best known for their presence as missionaries in various parts of the world. They wore gray habits and pointed hoods, took vows of poverty, and devoted their lives to prayer, penance, and spiritual reflection. In 1897, Pope Leo XIII officially dissolved the Recollects order and integrated it as a part of the Franciscan order, officially changing their name to Friars Minor. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Recollects”.29

8A retablo is the altarpiece, the main feature of old Roman Catholic churches. This upright panel, intricately carved, gilded, polychromed, and highly decorated, has a wooden frame and contains ledges and panels behind and above the altar. It is embellished with decorative features like rosettes, grapevines, scrolls, and cherubs, crafted by native artisans. It has several niches for the patron saint, usually located in the topmost portion, while other saints, affiliated to the religious order which takes care of the church, occupy both sides of the second and third levels.30

9Yane’s Adventures Van Services information – Address: Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor; Contact numbers: 09052133123, 09069732330 and 09183124461, look for Jade JumawanPestillos, and request for our very accommodating and cheerful driver, Jimmy Bueno.

10Bahay na bato, literally “house of stone”, is the Filipino term for a type of building originating during the Philippines’ Spanish Colonial period11, with a rectangular plan, popular among the elite and middle-class. It is an elevated, overhanging wooden upper-story nipa hut31 with balustrades, ventanillas (small windows), and capiz32 shell sliding windows. It stands on Spanish-style solid stone blocks or bricks and posts as foundation, and not wood, bamboo stilts, or timber posts. Roofing is either Chinese tiled roof or thatch (nipa, sago, palm or cogon), many today have been replaced by galvanized, or other modern, roofing. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Bahay na bato”.33

11The Spanish colonial era was the historical part of the Philippines from 1521, when European explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the country, and ended in 1898, with the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution34. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898”.35

12A National Historical Landmark of the Philippines is a place or an object that is associated with an event, achievement, characteristics or modification that presents a turning point or stage in history. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Category: National Historical Landmarks of the Philippines”.36

13The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) is a government agency of the Philippines which promotes Philippine history and cultural heritage through research, dissemination, conservation, sites management, and heraldry works, thereby inculcating awareness and appreciation of the noble deeds and ideals of our heroes and other illustrious Filipinos, instilling pride in the Filipino people, and rekindling the Filipino spirit through the lessons of history. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Historical Commission of the Philippines”.37

14A National Cultural Treasure (NCT) of the Philippines is a tangible (movable and immovable) or intangible heritage property declared by the National Commission for Culture and Arts38 and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines15, National Library of the Philippines39, and National Archives of the Philippines40. Such declarations are authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 200941 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines42 by the Philippine government. The title of NCT is the highest designation given to a “unique cultural property found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to the country and nation”.43 The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Treasure”.44

15The National Museum of the Philippines is a government institution in the Philippines which serves as the educational, scientific and cultural institution in preserving the various permanent national collections featuring the ethnographic, anthropological, archaeological and visual artistry of the Philippines. It was formed on October 29, 1901, with headquarters in Padre Burgos Avenue, in Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila. Since 1998, it has been the regulatory and enforcement agency of the national government in restoring and safeguarding important cultural properties, sites and reservations throughout the Philippines. It is under the Department of Education and the National Commission for Culture and Arts38. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Museum of the Philippines”.45 Visit its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

16A UNESCO 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “World Heritage Site”.46

17Baroque architecture began in Rome, Italy, in the late 16th century, which conveys grandeur and drama, most often used in palaces and churches. It includes curving forms, oval shapes, and a combination of concave and convex forms that make walls seem to undulate, or appear wavy, with a strong sense of motion. It groups things together like columns and decorative flourishes on building surfaces. Architectural elements are repeated across a surface. It uses distortion to make figures elongated, broken, or manipulated in some manner to make them stand out. Buildings have columns, sometimes topped with capitals and large volutes, scroll, or spiral forms. Sculptural wall elements will often project from the surface which is full of forms to increase the interplay of light and shadow across them. Inside, Baroque structures will often have ceilings painted in bright colors, made to fool one’s eye into believing one is looking at the sky. Buildings also have very rich surface treatments, including interiors with stucco47, various colored marbles, and gold gilt or thin sheets of gold applied to surfaces. Most Baroque churches have vaulted ceilings, supported by a series of interconnected arches.48

18“Lazi, Siquijor,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazi,_Siquijor

19“Siquijor,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

20A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces3 and independent cities49; component cities50 and municipalities1; and, barangays21, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.51

21A barangay in the Philippines 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 Wikipedia page “Barangay.”52

22“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

23A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces3, composed of cities and municipalities1 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays21. The regions were initially identified in 1972, through Presidential Decree No. 1 of President Ferdinand Marcos. Since then, other regions have been created and some provinces have been “transferred” to another region. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”53

24A city is the local government unit20 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice-mayor serves as the presiding officer of the city’s legislative body – the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”54

25“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines

26Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region23 located in the island group of Visayas55, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units20 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor4. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”53

27“Dumaguete,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Dumaguete

28https://www.britannica.com/art/Neoclassical-architecture

29“Recollects,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recollects

30http://www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/nationalmuseumbeta/Collections/Retablo.html

31The nipa hut, bahay kubopayag or kamalig, is a type of native, stilt house of the indigenous people of the Philippines before the Spaniards arrived in 1521, similar to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia like Indonesia and Malaysia. It often serves as an icon of Philippine culture or, more specifically, rural cultures, designed to endure the climate and environment of the country. It was made from plant materials, like bamboo, which was easily accessible and acquired to rebuild it when damaged by a storm or earthquake. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Nipa hut”.56

32Capiz, or kapis, is the shell of the windowpane oyster (Placuna placenta), an edible, bivalve marine mollusk in the family of Placunidae. It is durable and translucent so it is used as a glass substitute for windows, and even decorative items like chandeliers and lampshades. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Windowpane oyster”.57

33“Bahay na bato,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahay_na_Bato

34The Philippine Revolution is the revolution that started on August 23, 1896 when the Spaniards discovered the Katipunan58, and ended in August 13, 1898. The Filipinos were victorious, and this resulted in the expulsion of the Spanish colonial government, as well as the: signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato59 in 1897; resumption of hostilities during the Spanish-American War60 in 1898; the establishment of the First Philippine Republic61; and, the outbreak of the Philippine-American War62 in 1899. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Philippine Revolution”.63

35“History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Philippines

36“Category: National Historical Landmarks of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:_National_Historical_Landmarks_of_the_Philippines

37“National Historical Commission of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Historical_Commission_of_the_Philippines

38The National Commission for Culture and Arts is the official government agency for culture in the Philippines, formed in 1987, with headquarters in General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila. It is the overall policy making body, coordinating, and grants-giving agency for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture. Its parent department is the Office of the President of the Philippines and its sub-agencies are the: National Archives of the Philippines40, National Historical Commission of the Philippines13, National Library of the Philippines39, National Museum of the Philippines45, Commission on the Filipino Language, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Commission for Culture and Arts”.64 Visit its website: www.ncca.gov.ph

39The National Library of the Philippines is the official national library of the Philippines, with over 1.6 million pieces in its collections. It is notably called the home of the original copies of the defining works of Jose Rizal (Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo and Mi Ultimo Adios). It was established in 1901 and is located in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Library of the Philippines”.65 Visit its website: www.web.nlp.gov.ph

40The National Archives of the Philippines is an agency of the Philippines which is mandated to collect, store, preserve and make available, archival records of the government and other primary sources pertaining to the history and development of the country, as a result of the passage of Republic Act 9470 on May 21, 2007. It is the primary records management agency, tasked to formulate and implement the records schedule and vital records protection programs for the government. Its headquarters is in the National Library of the Philippines, in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Archives of the Philippines”.66 Visit its website: www.nationalarchives.gov.ph

41The National Cultural Heritage Act is a law of the Republic of the Philippines which created the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property and took other steps to preserve historic buildings that are over 50 years old, signed into law on March 25, 2009, according to the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Heritage Act”.67

42The Cultural Properties of the Philippines refers to the cultural properties listed by the National Commission for Culture and Arts38, National Historical Commission of the Philippines13, and the National Museum of the Philippines15 through the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), the official cultural property list of the country. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cultural properties of the Philippines”.68

43www.primer.com.ph

44“National Cultural Treasure,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cultural_Treasure

45“National Museum of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_the_Philippines

46“World Heritage Site,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Heritage_Site

47Stucco refers to the cement-based and fine plaster used for coating wall surfaces or molding into architectural decorations. It hardens into a highly durable material that requires little maintenance and can be used to obtain different textures and finishes.69

48https://study.com/academy/lesson/italian-baroque-architecture-characteristics-examples.html

49An independent city is a type of city24 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a provinceso it does not share its tax revenues with any province. The national government and its agencies serve such a city through sub-offices of the region23 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city70 or independent component city71. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”54

50A component city is a type of city24 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city70. It is under the jurisdiction of a province3. If such a city is located along the boundaries of 2 or more provinces, it shall be considered part of the province of which it used to be a municipality1. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”54

51“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

52“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

53“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines

54“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

55Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: Central Visayas26, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces3, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.72 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

56“Nipa hut,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nipa_hut

57“Windowpane oyster,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windowpane_oyster

58The Katipunan was 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”.73

59Pact of Biak-na-Bato was a truce between Spanish colonial Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera and the revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo to end the Philippine Revolution34, signed on December 14, 1897, in the house of Pablo Tecson (a Philippine revolutionary captain who served as Brigadier General under General Gregorio del Pilar) in San Miguel, Bulacan. Aguinaldo and his fellow revolutionaries were given amnesty and monetary indemnity by the Spanish government, in return for which the revolutionary government would go on exile in Hong Kong. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Pact of Biak-na-Bato”.74

60The Spanish-American War was fought between Spain and the United States in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor, in Cuba, leading to US intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The Americans won and it resulted in the Treaty of Paris75, signed on December 10, 1898, came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged, with Spain relinquishing all claims of sovereignty over and title to Cuba, and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the US. The cession of the Philippines involved a compensation of $20 million from the US to Spain. The information was obtained from Wikipedia pages “Spanish-American War”76 and “Treaty of Paris of 1898”77.

61The First Philippine Republic, or the Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines, established after the Philippine Revolution34 against the Spanish Empire (1896-1897) and the Spanish-American War60, and was the first constitutional republic in Asia, with a comprehensive constitution duly approved by a partially elected congress. It was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899, in Malolos, Bulacan, and endured until the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901, in Palanan, Isabela. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “First Philippine Republic”.78

62The Philippine-American War, the Philippine War, the Philippine Insurrection, or the Tagalog Insurgency, was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic61 and the USA that lasted from February 4, 1899 to July 2, 1902. The conflict arose when the former objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris75, under which the US took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish-American War60. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Philippine-American War”.79

63“Philippine Revolution,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Revolution

64 “National Commission for Culture and Arts,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Commission_for_Culture_and-Arts

65“National Library of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Library_of_the_Philippines

66“National Archives of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Archives_of_the_Philippines

67“National Cultural Heritage Act,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cultural_Heritage_Act

68“Cultural properties of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_properties_of_the_Philippines

69https://www.thebalancesmb.com/choose-right-stucco-mix-844655

70A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city24 in the Philippines with a minimum population of 200,000 as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and with the latest annual income of at least 50 million pesos, according to Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.54 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?).

71An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city24 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province3 in which it is geographically located and has a charter that explicitly prohibits its residents to vote for provincial officials (unless allowed to do so). It does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city70. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”54

72“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

73“Katipunan,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katipunan

74“Pact of Biak-na-Bato,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pact_of_Biak-na-Bato

75The Treaty of Paris was an agreement, signed on December 10, 1898, that involved Spain relinquishing nearly all the remaining Spanish Empire, especially Cuba, and ceding Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the US, thus ending the Spanish-American War60. It came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged. The cessation of the Philippines involved a payment of US$20 million from the US to Spain. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Treaty of Paris (1898)”.77

76“Spanish-American War,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_American_War

77“Treaty of Paris,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of-Paris.

78“First Philippine Republic,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Philippine_Republic

79“Philippine-Amercian War,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine-American_War.

SAY, SAY, SAY: FLY INFESTATION IN RESTAURANTS

Filipinos love to eat, whether it be street food, fast food, fine dining, or eat-all-you-can buffets. This definitely challenges food service management to be competitive as well as to strictly observe food safety standards to ensure public health.

Tita S summarized the highlights of food safety standards in the Philippines as per the 1987 Philippine constitution and the Food Safety Act of 2013. She also wrote about fly infestation in a particular restaurant. See these related posts: A GLIMPSE OF PHILIPPINE FOOD SAFETY STANDARDS and SAY, SAY, SAY: ARMY NAVY BURGER AND BURRITO, CONCEPCION, TARLAC.

Cockroaches and mice are alarming, but flies are everywhere. I have observed that Filipinos are not so particular about flies hovering around them while they are eating, even when satisfying their hunger for street food. Do you agree?

And tell me, Filipinos, are we not alarmed with our food safety when there are flies in the restaurants we go to? I guess flies cannot be completely eradicated, but for sure, they can be controlled.

Allow Tita S to give you some facts which she researched regarding this matter:

1. Flies are twice as filthy as cockroaches and carry more disease-causing pathogens.According to a study done in 2017, flies usually spend their time in garbage, feeding on decaying matter such as rotten food, and human and animal feces, which contain parasites, viruses and bacteria. Picking these pathogens up on their legs, they will transfer these to whatever surface they land on, be it human food or food preparation surfaces of restaurants and homes.2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Flies spread diseases by regurgitating a liquid that contains their saliva and digestive enzymes into your food. This fluid in their saliva and vomit breaks down the solid food into a liquid they can ingest.

Alas, it also contains pathogens that can cause humans to get sick. But that is not all. Flies can also transmit the diseases they carry by urinating and dropping their feces into your food as well as by leaving pathogens on your kitchen counter top or any surface.6

2. Flies excrete wherever they come to rest, and thereby, mechanically transmit diseases.According to the World Health Organization (WHO), flies can transmit over 65 different diseases, like cholera, conjunctivitis, gastroenteritis, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, among others. And all these diseases can have a direct impact on a restaurant’s customers and staff’s health.6

The longer a fly is on your food, the higher the chance of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites being transferred to it. It definitely slobbers, vomits and poops all over your food, and can transmit diseases. It is not only annoying but hazardous as well! Better to throw away your food!6

3. Flies do not have any teeth, so they eat by spitting and throwing up on their food. As a fly eats, it usually poops, and if it’s a female, it might lay eggs, too.6

Flies reproduce extremely quickly and speed through the air quickly.1 and 6 Female flies can lay batches of fertilized eggs, with one batch consisting of 150 fertilized eggs, and can lay up to 1,000 eggs during her lifetime, which is about 28 days.3 and 8

4. Flies love dirt and are attracted to rotten food and sugary drinks.Flies are like mosquitoes; they can smell their meal from miles away, but the reality is they prefer to have their meals where their breeding grounds are. So, if you eliminate breeding grounds, you get rid of flies!9 Ensure high levels of hygiene in your kitchen and restaurant.6

5. There are many types of flies which can invade a food service establishment such as house flies, drain flies, fruit flies, vinegar flies, phorid flies, and blow flies. Treatment for each fly is different.7

6. Restaurants must have a well-managed pest control program for rodents, roaches and flies. An inspection must be made to determine where pests are harboring, hiding and traveling so that appropriate pesticides will be applied.7

7. There should be a positive air flow for an enclosed restaurant with a commercial AC unit and an exhaust fan in the kitchen. Management must make sure that the AC unit is putting enough recovery air back in the building to make up for the air it is exhausting. With enough air to cool right, comes less flies. Or, the flies will huddle in an area, to be easily eliminated.9

8. Another alternative to keep the flies away from your kitchen and restaurant is to invest in the so-called fly lights. They are fly traps that emit UV light and will help you keep the flies at bay. Commercial kitchen fly control units like electric fly killing units or sticky traps are also handy tools in keeping these pests away from your kitchen as well as eradicating any existing fly problem.The electric gadgets can be strategically located in a building as long as they are not located close to food (which might be contaminated with zapped insects).7

9. Check all trash dumpsters, trash bins, sinks and sink drains, floor drains, kitchen equipment, loose floor tiles, wall voids, electrical boxes, any hollow tubing on appliance legs, behind and under equipment, and any other crevice, crack or void where pests may have taken up residence. Glue boards should be placed near suspected infestations to monitor suspected problem areas and to localize where to apply treatments.

There should be tight weather seals around doors and windows. Caulk all openings leading to wall voids and never leave doors or unscreened windows open. Remember, treating for pests outside may also stop them from invading indoors.7

Screen vents, doors and windows to prevent fly infestations. Sometimes large fans, called “air curtains” are effective at keeping flies out of restaurants.4

10. Install fans in your kitchen and restaurant. Another trick you can use to keep the flies away is to invest in cooling fans that that will keep the air circulating and the flies from landing on your food. Mesh netting on your windows and doorways will also help with fly control for restaurants with open doorways and windows because the mesh will keep the insects out while you will be able to keep your customers cool, thanks to the open windows.6

11. Well, if you cannot get rid of flies by denying them breeding grounds, why not trap them? Seafood can be used as bait, below or near a fly trap tape.Conduct a thorough inspection to locate breeding areas of pests. Apply fly baits to the trash collection areas. Flies can easily enter when customers or employees enter a restaurant, or when trash is taken out. You can also incorporate screening vents on windows or doors. Scan for problem locations, such as standing water left unchecked, and any uncleaned areas.

12. Sanitation is crucial in preventing flies from infesting a restaurant kitchen. Sinks, floors, kitchen equipment, and trash bins/pails, drains and drain traps must be cleaned as often as possible, especially before leaving overnight.All counter spaces and chopping blocks should be wiped down regularly throughout the day.5

All food should remain refrigerated when not being used so it will not be left standing. Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible to prevent fly entry.

Depending on your restaurant, you might even be able to use an “air curtain” or large fans pointed at entry points to help keep flies from gaining access to your kitchen.5

Sink and floors drains, as potential breeding grounds for many types of flies, should be kept extremely clean through an enzyme-based cleaner.7

13. Train all new employees on established sanitation procedures and the proper protocol for resolving a possible fly problem. Constantly educate your staff on the importance of maintaining a high level of hygiene in the establishment so the risks of a fly infestation will be minimized. A pest control program should be consistently implemented daily.6 and 10

Employees must be trained and be diligent to scrub the kitchen tops, tables, and chopping boards clean. Additionally, the indoor and outdoor trash cans should always be covered, and customers’ food remains properly disposed of because those will be the first to attract flies. The restaurant tables and floors should also be wiped every time a customer leaves which will ensure extra cleanliness and less possibility that your customers can get sick by eating at your restaurant. The staff should constantly check on the food in the kitchen, and dispose of the food that is past its expiration date. All empty bottles that contain sugary drinks should also be kept away from the eating area as flies are attracted to sugary substances.6

To summarize, here are some suggestions for employees11:

a. keep counters, appliances and fixtures free of food, and clean up spills immediately. Inspect wheel castors, table supports, and other hard to clean areas regularly for food debris.

b. Damp mops and towels left to ferment can quickly become a breeding place for bacteria and pests in a food service area. Dry out wet tools and if possible, keep them covered in a bin. Never leave a wet mop propped against a wall. Instead, store with strands hanging down in a dry, well-circulated area.

c. Use a heavy-duty brush to scour pipes above the water trap. Regularly maintain drains with a bio-enzymatic cleaner – one that is bacteria and enzyme-based – to eliminate the grease and slime that small drain flies feed on and lay eggs in.

d. Eliminate areas where water may pool, paying particular attention to drains, corners, cracks and crevices. Use a squeegee or wet/dry vacuum to remove pooled water on floors.

e. Run garbage disposals for an extra 30 seconds after waste has passed through, running water down the drain at the same time.

f. Always keep trash containers covered, using self-closing lids whenever possible. Empty receptacles frequently and keep the areas around them free of debris and rotting food, especially vegetables and fruits. Rinse containers regularly with hot water to eliminate bits of food or juice, then clean and disinfect.

g. Do not allow windows or doors to be propped open. Repair torn screens and replace missing caulk, weather stripping and joint mortar around the building. Crevices and gaps could provide an easy entryway for pests.

h. Keep exterior garbage cans at least 25 feet from entrances. Use a mechanical spray device with a disinfectant solution to clean, disinfect and deodorize exterior trash receptacles Do not stack, store, or plant anything next to building openings.

i. Drain flies may be small, but they can become a huge problem for your food service establishment if not under control. Simply practice a few simple maintenance procedures each day to make your kitchen area uninviting to these pests while keeping your operation safely humming along.

j. The bucket-and-mop technique leaves behind plenty of soil for flies and other pests to enjoy. Systems that use always-fresh cleaning solution and incorporate a wet/dry vac to remove anything left on the floors are much more successful. Use a squeegee on tables, counters, bars and kitchen lines to make sure no food residue remains at the end of a busy day.12

14. A food stall owner in Singapore hangs a bunch of chilies near cooked and uncooked food where flies are likely to land to keep them away from the food preparation and storage areas.9

15. Apart from commercial repellents, you can also plant herbs that repel flies around the restaurant or place them on the windowsills.9

The picture of the fly in the featured image of this post came from the free photo library of WordPress.

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 1https://totalfood.com/filth-flies-small-pests-big-problems/

2https://nowthisnews.com/videos/food/you-might-want-to-throw-away-your-food-if-a-fly-lands-on-it

3https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1007813

4https://www.orkin.com/flies/restaurant-flies

5https://www.rjspest.com/how-to-get-rid-of-flies-in-a-restaurant/

6https://insectcop.net/keeping-your-restaurant-fly-free/

7https://www.domyown.com/restaurant-pest-control-a-418.html

8https://sciencetrends.com/what-is-the-lifespan-of-a-fly/

9https://www.thriftyfun.com/tf22337071.tip.html

10https://www.jppestservices.com/blog/effectively-manage-fly-problems-your-restaurant

11https://www.nycoproducts.com/resources/blog/get-rid-of-drain-flies-foodservice-restaurants/

12https://kaivac.com/a_636-How-to-Prevent-Flies-From-Plaguing-Your-Restaurant