Craving for Cheese? Go to Melt Grilled Cheesery

LOCATION: Molito Lifestyle Center, Madrigal Avenue corner Commerce Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

I was craving for cheese and it so happened that a relative of mine drove me and my group to Molito1 in Alabang, on a hot, humid and early evening of May 2019. We were walking leisurely in this spacious and relaxing commercial complex while appreciating the landscape as well as the numerous dining and retail outlets all around. See its Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/MolitoAlabangPH/

BeFunky-collage-Molito-okThere are lots of trees and the well-maintained open space was so refreshing. It was early evening and when it became dark, the lights all around were lit and so beautiful.

At one point, a niece told me that they previously dined at Melt Grilled Cheesery and enjoyed their orders. I thought, great! I can satisfy my craving and it would be interesting to see what cheese dishes they will offer other than the usual cheese sandwich and fondue!

Melt Grilled Cheesery is a cozy, gourmet restaurant that specializes in all things cheese, from appetizers, soups, salads, fondues, pizzas, grilled cheese sandwiches and dishes, pastas and desserts. It also offers hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to complement your food orders.

Chef James Torres, the owner of Melt, was inspired by his wife Chessie’s love for cheese.

Here is its menu:

BeFunky-collage-menu-cover-ok

DRINKSIMG_5055-drinks-ok

APPETIZERS, SOUPS, SALADS, MELTING POT FONDUEIMG_5056-appetizers-etc-ok

GRILLED CHEESEIMG_5057-Grilled-Cheese-ok

PIZZAS AND PASTASIMG_5058-pizza-pastas-ok

ENTRÉEIMG_5059-entree-ok

CHEESECAKES, SWEET GRILLED CHEESE, MELTING POT FONDUEIMG_5060-cheesecakes-etc-ok

COCKTAIL MENU

It also has a cute, special, colorful, ring-bound cocktail menuIMG_5062-cover-cocktails-ok

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This Molito branch opened in 2017. Here are its operating hours: IMG_5061-operating hrs-ok

Melt also has an outlet located at the 3/F Uptown Place Mall, 9th Avenue corner 36th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, open from 11 am till 10 pm daily, with mobile contact number 0917-8924377. It opened in 2016. I was told that another branch will open in EDSA Shangri-la sometime 2019.

And now for my dining experience at MeltMolito:

The entrance is facing the lighted four-tiered tiled waterfall and you cannot miss this restaurant since its name is well-lit as well, and can be seen from afar at night.   IMG_5047-facade-Melt-x

It has glass walls so you can satisfy your curiosity and look at the interiors, especially its high ceiling. BeFunky-collage-interiors-ok

We were warmly greeted by smiling wait staff, and led to a table with a combination of cushioned seats and comfortable wooden seats with good back rests. There are round tables with yellow upholstered chairs for four, or rectangular tables for 6-8.

BeFunky-collage-tables-okI wonder why the chairs with the round table are yellow? LOL

The spacious and cozy dining area is U-shaped, with a long middle portion featuring a marble counter with bar stools.IMG_5075-bar-ok

To the bar’s left is the entrance to the unisex rest room which is well-maintained and well-stocked.

The interior temperature was just right, even on a hot and humid early evening. The wait staff was very professional and cheerful, and expertly suggested options.

Deciding what to order with companions on a no-sugar, low-carb diet was difficult, until we all decided to cheat for that dinner. Yes!

We ordered the following and found them Instagram-worthy:

1.TRUFFLE CHEESE FRIES (PHP290) – This is a favorite of my 7-year-old grandson. After tasting it, it is also my favorite.What with its melted mozzarella, cheddar cheese and truffles, served with bacon bits and sour cream? Quite a satisfying appetizer!

IMG_5209-truffle fries

2. MELTING POT FONDUE (PHP485) – Of course, we had to order Melt’s house blend of melted cheese, served in a heated pot, with grilled sausages and chicken. The cheese was so creamy, and with the grilled meat, was a winner! NOTE: My niece requested the regular order of gnocchi and marbled potatoes to be replaced with grilled chicken, and it was! See how they are very accommodating? Our verdict: it was delicious!

IMG_5206-fondue-ok

3. BACON MAC & GRILLED CHEESE (PHP395) – This grilled cheese was definitely a treat for us. The maple-glazed bacon strips and 3-cheese mac and cheese were sandwiched between slices of grilled-smoked and buttered sourdough bread, that, when drizzled with maple syrup, was so good! The sweet potatoes were crispy, and along with the sandwich, resulted in a very satisfying dish.

Mouthwatering, generous, overflowing melted cheeseBeFunky-collage-swich-ok

4. WINEY CHICK (PHP380) – This grilled paprika chicken dish has pesto mashed sweet potato with melted mozzarella, string beans, and wine-infused demi-glaze. The tender chicken, with all the different tastes and textures, was enjoyable.

IMG_5070-use-ok

The men in my group ordered San Miguel Pale Pilsen (PHP90) and San Miguel Light (PHP90), and the drinks were served well-chilled.

I looked around the table while waiting for our orders. I noticed a small square box of MEALTIME PRAYERS. This is great for religious customers, or perhaps, for a family with kids. A kid who is able to read could be asked to choose a prayer and read it for all to hear before eating. Nice touch for families with kids!IMG_5091-prayer-ok

Melt also offers something for those on a date. It has CHEESY DATE QUESTIONS you can ask each other while waiting for your orders. Cheesy indeed! IMG_5092-date-questions-ok

My group wanted the dessert in the nearby restaurant called Souv!2 – the Crumbled Baklava Frozen Greek Yogurt and Wildflower Honey Frozen Greek Yogurt (PHP165 each).

IMG_5080 -cropped-dessert-souv-ok

We asked the wait staff if this was possible and you know what? They easily complied, hurriedly went next door to Souv2, brought the menu card for us to see, got our orders, and after a while, served our orders, and got our payment. Now that is genuine pampering! Thanks to the wait staff of Melt!

BeFunky-collage-souv-dessert-ok

Here is our verdict re Souv’s frozen Greek yogurt: The orders were served in a paper coffee cup, which reminds me of the classic New York cup.

We loved the Crumbled Baklava Frozen Greek Yogurt. It was SOUV-ery satisfying with its combination of textures and flavors. The Wildflower Honey version was SOUV-ery creamy and just right in terms of sweetness.

The service is definitely very good in MeltMolito. The orders are served at the right temperature and as promised (I asked how long the wait would be and they did serve on time thereafter).

Some people might find this restaurant pricey so, dearest Seniors, do not forget to bring your Senior Citizen IDs. Please check prices with the restaurant before visiting this restaurant.

Cheese is like a comfort food for me so this is definitely a cheat meal, but was guilt-free. Melt made our tummies happy!

So, cheese lovers, especially for those going on a date, why not indulge in this restaurant?

I will come back and try their other cheesey and interesting offerings, on another cheat day, like The Big Buff, Burrata!, Butternut Squash Soup, Good Morning Chorizo, Angus and Cheese, Pot Roast Cheese Toast, Risotto Balls, Truffle Pasta, Chocolate Chip Oreo Cheesecake, and Dulce de LeCheese.

Contact information: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meltgrilledcheesery; Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/meltgrilledcheesery/

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? Did you also dine in Melt-Molito? 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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1Molito Commercial Complex is a lifestyle center located in the heart of suburban Alabang, at Madrigal Avenue corner Commerce Avenue, in Muntinlupa City. It opened sometime 2017 and offers spacious relaxing ambiance and layout to chill with family and friends, especially at the end of a stressful workday. It hasa refreshing water fountain area, trees and greenery, al fresco tables and chairs, and hassle-free parking. There are so many establishments to choose from:

Dining Establishments (cuisine/specialty)

  1. Brera Delicatessen (European, American)
  2. Bungalow Café (coffee)
  3. BurgerGeek (Burgers + Sides + Shakes)
  4. Canton Club (Chinese)
  5. Chairman Wang’s Prime Beef Noodle House (Chinese)
  6. Chichario Peri Peri (Latin American)
  7. Chow King (Chinese fastfood)
  8. DBCafé by Designer Blooms (coffee)
  9. Designer Blooms Café (Asian, coffee)
  10. El Cocinero (Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish)
  11. Exchange Alley Coffee House (coffee)
  12. Fiftea (beverage shop, tea)
  13. Frankie’s New York Buffalo Wings (American)
  14. Group & Boiler Coffee Co. (coffee)
  15. Hen Lin (Chinese, dimsum)
  16. Jollibee (sandwiches, chicken, fastfood)
  17. Just Thai (Thai)
  18. McDonald’s Desserts (ice cream)
  19. Manam (Filipino, coffee)
  20. Mang Inasal
  21. Melt Grilled Cheesery (American)
  22. Miyazaki (Japanese)
  23. Park’s Bread & Cake (bakery, café)
  24. Nana & Co. (European, desserts, ice cream)
  25. Nathaniel’s (buko pandan, bakery, desserts, Filipino)
  26. Omakase (Japanese, sushi)
  27. Ooma (Japanese, sushi)
  28. Pancake House (American)
  29. Paper Moon Tokyo (café, bakery)
  30. Parmigiano Pizzeria Ristorante (Italian)
  31. Pepi Cubano (sandwiches)
  32. Ramen Yushoken (Japanese, ramen)
  33. Recovery Food (Filipino)
  34. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (desserts, coffee)
  35. Souv! By Cyma (Greek, healthy food)
  36. Starbucks (coffee)
  37. Thomson Road Chinese Bistro (Chinese)
  38. Torch (Italian, American, Spanish, ribs and steaks)
  39. Un Cuenca (Spanish)
  40. Wooden Horse (steak)
  41. Yoree Korean Barbeque Dining (Koran, barbecue)
  42. Yushoken Ramen (Japanese, ramen)
  43. Zubu Chon (Cebu lechon, Filipino)

Bars and Drinks Shops (specialty)

  1. Barcino Wine Resto Bar (Spanish, bar)
  2. Draft Gastropub and European Food (American, Asian, European, bar)
  3. Perfect Pint (Filipino, Italian, Spanish, bar)
  4. Ralph’s Wines & Spirits (wine bar, international)

Banks

  1. Bank of Commerce
  2. BDO
  3. Citibank (ATM)
  4. HSBC, Metrobank
  5. Robinsons Bank
  6. Security Bank

Other Services

  1. Acts Manila (ballet, dance and music school)
  2. Alter Station (garments alteration)
  3. Cebuana Lhuillier (pawnshop)
  4. CopyTown (xerox, printing and digital services)
  5. Eye Level (learning center)
  6. Galerie Roberto (art gallery)
  7. Gran Trail Cycles (bicycle shop)
  8. Habitat Crossfit (fitness gym)
  9. Kumon (learning center)
  10. Philam Life (insurance company)
  11. Puregood (supermarket)
  12. Re/Max Real Estate Associates (real estate)
  13. Santis Delicatessen (deli store)
  14. 7-Eleven(convenience store)
  15. Sip & Gogh (paint and sip studio)
  16. Smart (mobile network)
  17. TechnoPop! (cell phone accessory store)
  18. The Playground (sporting goods store)
  19. Titan(basketball specialty store)
  20. Tokyo Healthlink (medical and diagnostic center)

Contact information: (02) 808-6401; Website: www.molito.com.ph for the map, layout of the establishments, promos and events, features and contact page; Instagram: #MolitoLifestyleCenter; FB/Twitter:MolitoAlabangPH; Tumblr: molitolifestylealabang

2Souv! is a Greek restaurant which specializes in spit-fired meat, and a member of the Cyma restaurant group of Chef Robby Goco. The term is short for “souvlaki”, grilled Greek skewered meats.

Turning Japanese at Omakase

LOCATION: Connecticut Carpark Arcade, Greenhills Shopping Center, Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan City, Philippines

Omakase is a Japanese restaurant owned by brothers-in-law Ed Encisa, a former chef in a Japanese restaurant abroad, and Rico Rosales. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, homesick Ed seriously considered going back to the Philippines. They then came up with the plan to start a business during one of their conversations, the needed push for Ed to finally go home.1

The term omakase is Japanese for “I’ll leave it up to you”, from makaseru, Japanese meaning “to entrust”. This term is used by patrons of sushi2 restaurants to leave the selection to the chef, as opposed to ordering a la carte.  Customers who order omakase-style expect the chef to be innovative and surprising in the selection of dishes, and the meal can be likened to an artistic performance by the chef. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Omakasa”.3

They started with a small takeout counter in Quezon City in 2002, serving three kinds of maki4 at affordable prices for office workers and students.The counter eventually became known for its affordable sushi2 rolls. Ed and Rico initially split the capital of PHP80,000.1

After six months, Omakase expanded its space for dining tables. Prices were slightly increased until daily earnings spiked to PHP10,000. After a year, their relatives chipped in to open the first restaurant in Libis, Quezon City (now closed).1

Ed continued to concoct different sushi2 rolls, ebi5 tempura6 with salmon skin, salmon with cream cheese, and deep-fried soft-shell maki4.1

Omakase eventually opened branches in:

  1. Ayala Triangle Gardens, Paseo de Roxas Street corner Makati Avenue corner Ayala Avenue, Makati City (now closed)
  2. ESJ Building, Mayor Gil Fernando Avenue, San Roque, Marikina City
  3. Molito Complex, Madrigal Avenue, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  4. 3/F, Ayala Malls Feliz, Dela Paz, Pasig City
  5. G/F, Banawe Lifestyle Center, Banawe corner Don Manuel Agregado Street, Sto. Domingo, Banawe, Quezon City
  6. G/F. Il Terrazo Mall, Tomas Morato Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City – Tel. No.: (02) 332-4115
  7. Pwesto Community Mall, 56 Holy Spirit Drive, Don Antonio Heights, Quezon City – Tel. No.: (02) 285-9089
  8. Connecticut Carpark Arcade, Greenhills Shopping Center, Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan City (this is the branch I recently visited and will blog about)

The Greenhills branch is open from 11 AM to 10 PM.

greenhills.com.phPhoto from http://www.greenhills.com.ph

It offers a wide variety of Japanese dishes as well as set meals and party trays. Hot, cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available too. The menu card has 22 pages, with inviting colored pictures of its specialties!

Here are the specific dishes offered (pictures from menu card):

APPETIZERS IMG_5008-appetizers

SALADS IMG_5011-ok

SOUPS AND NOODLES 

IMG _5033-SOUPS-ok

SUSHIIMG_5013-sushi-ok

MAKIMONOIMG_5016-makimono-1-ok

IMG_5017-makimono-2-ok

MAIN DISHES IMG_5019-ok

TEMPURA6, FURAI8 AND DONBURIIMG_5020-ok

SET MEALS, PARTY TRAYS, DESSERTS IMG_5023-ok

SIDE ORDERS, BEVERAGES IMG_5025-ok

Omakase is also promoting the Torikatsu Sandwich, served with coffee and fries on the side as well as Kani Mango Sandwich. Perhaps, I will taste them on my next visit. IMG_5006-promo-ok

Omakase-Greenhills also offers Buffet Packages and Cart Catering

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My husband, my son, and I, accompanied a niece and her 7-year-old son to Greenhills. For our dining experience on May 2019 – we ordered:

1.SEAFOOD TEPPAN (PHP 470) – A seafood platter consisting of pan-fried salmon, tuna, shrimps, and squid. It was served with garlic rice. This order can be shared by 2-3 persons and the tasty seafood was enjoyed by all the members of my group. The seafood was fresh and served hot for us to savor with the accompanying dipping sauce.

IMG_5030-ok

2. MISO SOUP (PHP65 per single serving) – This soup was served hot, tasty, a bit creamy, and is not salty.

3. EBI5 TEMPURA6 (Shrimp Tempura, PHP370 for 5 pieces) – This crispy, coated, deep-fried shrimp dish is a staple order in any Japanese restaurant. I found the shrimps small, based on the selling price. I also wished that the dip had more daikon10.

IMG_5032-ok

4. GYUDON (PHP305) – This donburi9 dish consists of sliced beef, mushrooms, onions over rice, topped with an egg, served on a bowl. We asked for two orders. It was served hot and the amount of rice was very generous. The beef was tender and the accompanying onions and mushrooms cooked with the beef made this dish more enjoyable.

IMG_5028

5. CHICKEN TERIYAKI (240) – This order consists of grilled chicken, cooked in teriyaki sauce, a favorite of our dearest 7-year-old grandson. I personally find the serving portion a bit small. However, it was very tasty and well appreciated by our 7-year-old kid. The proof? He finished it all! Bottomline, Omakase dishes are also good for kids.

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We arrived sometime 7:00 PM and the main dining area at the second floor was already full. The place looked a bit old but well-maintained.

Fortunately, the smaller function room at the ground floor was available and that was where we dined. We were asked to wait a bit at the second floor, go over the menu card, and after about 10 minutes, we were ushered to the function room below. It was clean, tables were set, ventilation was comfortable, and the room smelled good.

I must say that the wait staff was accommodating despite the large number of guests at the upper floor and the function room was soon fully occupied. Our additional orders were a bit delayed but were worth the wait.

The prices are reasonable, and we got discounts with our Senior Citizen IDs. Cash and credit cards are accepted. Please check prices before visiting this restaurant.

I did not have the chance to visit their rest room so I cannot comment on this matter.

By the way, Omakase is now available on GrabFood11 so you can have your favorite Japanese dishes delivered to your doorstep!12

Contact information: Telephone Number: (02) 470-9807 (table booking is recommended); Cellphone Number: +63 9302523575; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iloveomakase; Twitter/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iwantomakase

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Pictures used in the cover picture collage were obtained from the menu card of Omakase Greenhills (starting from top right, clockwise): Sushi Cake, Seafood Yeppan, Tuna Tataki Salad, Mixed Nigiri and Salmon Sashimi

Did you find this post informative? Did you also dine in Omakase? Which branch? 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 interested readers, especially those not familiar with Japanese and Filipino terms, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/07/15/16/meet-the-pinoys-behind-omakase

2Sushi is a Japanese dish made of specially prepared vinegared (medium grain white rice or brown) rice, usually with some sugar and rice, combined with a variety of ingredients (e.g., raw/cooked seafood, vegetables, tropical fruits), served as an appetizer or as a main dish. Fillings, toppings, condiments (shoyu16, wasabi18, Japanese-style mayonnaise) and preparation vary widely. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sushi”.13

3“Omakase,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omakase

4Maki, short for makizushi, is rolled sushi2 formed into a cylindrical piece using a bamboo mat called a makisu. It is generally wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) then cut into 6 or 8 pieces, for a single roll order. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Sushi”.13

5Ebi is the Japanese term for shrimp. Thus, ebi tempura is shrimp tempura6.

6Tempura is a Japanese dish, usually consisting of seafood (e.g., shrimp, squid rings) or vegetables (e.g., strips of carrot, eggplant, onion) that have been battered and deep fried. It is eaten hot immediately after frying, and may be sprinkled with powdered green tea and sea salt, or yuzu and salt, before eating. It is commonly served with tentsuyu sauce (about 3 parts dashi14, 1 part each of mirin15 and shoyu16) and grated daikon10. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tempura”.17

7Makimono, makizushi, or norimaki is a kind of “rolled sushi2”, according to the Wikipedia page “Sushi”.13 It is called maki4, for short. Makimono is Japanese for “rolled thing”.

8Furai is a Japanese dish made of deep-fried fish, shrimp or seafood, coated with a thin layer of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), and served with a tangy sauce.19

9Donburi is a Japanese rice bowl dish consisting of fish, meat, vegetables, and other ingredients simmered together and served over rice. It is sometimes shortened to “don”. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Donburi”.21

10Daikon, literally “big root,” is a mild-flavored winter radish. It is originally native to Southeast or continental Asia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Daikon”.20

11GrabFood is a service of Grab, a Singaporean transportation network company operating in the Philippines, which allows (as of May 2019)  BGC, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Ortigas, Pasay, Quezon City, and San Juan residents to satisfy their food cravings, by delivering orders from their favorite restaurants daily, except holidays, from 9 am – 9 pm. It is so easy: through your cell phone, launch the Grab app and select “Food” from the product selection menu at the top of the app, enter your delivery address, select your favorite restaurant (within a given distance from your location for speedy deliveries, for now), select a meal, add to your basket (no minimum purchase), complete your order, wait for an assigned GrabFood delivery partner to pick up your orders for you, and deliver it to your doorsteps.22

12https://www.facebook.com/weloveomakase/

13“Sushi,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi

14Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used in Japanese cuisine. The most common form of dashi is a simple broth or fish stock made by heating water containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented skipjack tuna. It forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth, and many kinds of simmering liquid. It can also be mixed into flour base of some grilled foods. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dashi”.23

15Mirin is an essential condiment used in Japanese cuisine. It is a type of rice wine, similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mirin”.24

16Shoyu is the Japanese term for soy sauce, according to the Wikipedia page “Soy sauce”.25

17“Tempura,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempura

18Wasabi is the green, highly pungent, paste served as a Japanese condiment for sushi2 and sashimi26, made from the wasabi plant.

19https://pogogi.com/japanese-deep-fry-furai-little-cousin-tempura-and-tonkatsu

20“Daikon,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daikon

21“Donburi,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donburi

22https://www.grab.com/ph/food/

23“Dashi,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi

24“Mirin,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirin

25“Soy sauce,” accessed July 5, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_sauce

26Sashimi is a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced, fresh, raw fish or meat, often served as the first course in a formal Japanese meal but may also be served as the main course. It is garnished with long thin strands of daikon (white radish) or single leaves of the shiso herb (perilla). It is served with soy sauce as a dipping sauce, along with condiments – wasabi paste (the hot Japanese green paste made from the wasabi rhizome), grated fresh ginger, and ponzu (Japanese dipping sauce made of fish flakes, lime juice, soy sauce and vinegar). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sashimi”.27

27“Sashimi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashimi

Always A Happy Tummy at Hossein’s!

Hossein’s Persian Kebab is a favorite cheat place for me and my companions every time we go to Metro Manila1.

hosseinPhoto from: https://www.facebook.com/hosseinspersiankebab/photos/a.226129307478327/1138618449562737/?type=1&theater

This restaurant specializes in halal2 Persian, Arabian, Indian, Iranian, and Eastern Mediterranean3cuisine. It is one of the first Middle Eastern4 cuisine restaurants in the Philippines.

Chef Hossein Sohrabi is the person behind Hossein’s. He wanted to showcase his Persian culture and history as well as his family’s traditions, adding his own modern twist, along with Arabian, Indian, Mediterranean5 and South Asian6 specialties.

IMG_4877 - CopyChef Hossein Sohrabi (Photo from:  https://www.facebook.com/hosseinspersiankebab/photos/a.226129307478327/1138618449562737/?type=1&theater)

He established his first restaurant – Hossein’s Persian Kebab – in 1985 on Jupiter Street, in Makati City, with just three tables. He was the cook, the wait staff, the marketing department, the dishwasher, and the janitor, all at once. He would be cooking the orders in front of his guests, and serving it to their table. Then, after his guests have finished eating, he would clear the tables, buss the dishes, and wash them once he gets to the sink. He had burned hands from grilling kebabs, cut hands from slicing garnishes, bruised hands from washing dishes, and body aches from carrying supplies – all in a day’s work. No one in Metro Manila then knew what kebab was, or if there even was a market for it. He just did what he loved to do, seven days a week, 364 days a year.

He later moved to the ground floor of LKV Building in Makati Avenue which is now Habibi7, his shisha8 bar. The second floor, renovated in March 2018, became the main restaurant, with his son as architect. The walls of the stairs leading to the second floor has a Persian rug design, painted by a British painter.9

There are now has six outlets in Metro Manila1, all open daily from 11 AM till 12 MN:

  1. MAKATI AVENUE – 2/F 7857 LKV Building, Makati Avenue (right across Burgos Street), Makati City – Tel. (02) 890-6137, 890-5928; Fax (02) 890-5803
  2. MAKATI AVENUE – HABIBI SHISHA BAR – 1/F, 7857 LKV Building, Makati Avenue (right across Burgos Street), Makati City – Tel. (02) 890-9174, Fax (02) 890-5803
  3. GREENBELT – 2nd Level, Greenbelt 3 (above Starbucks), Ayala Center, Makati Avenue, Makati City – Tel. (02) 729-0266; Fax (02) 729-0267
  4. SERENDRA – 2nd Level, C-201 Serendra, Bonifacio High Street (in front of Fully Booked), Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City – Tel (02) 856-0632, 856-1278; Fax (02) 916-0056
  5. TRINOMA – Unit 4005, Level 4, Trinoma Mall, EDSA North Avenue, Quezon City – Tel (02) 901-5613
  6. ALABANG – Unit F &B007, Cluster 2, The Street, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City – Tel (02) 511-8899

977924_460542687370320_823213007_oPhoto taken from: https://www.facebook.com/hosseinspersiankebab/photos/a.438484959576093/460542687370320/?type=3&theater

I have dined in three outlets (Makati Avenue, Greenbelt and Serendra) and all my dining experiences were satisfying, but my favorite is the Makati Avenue branch at the second floor (see above).

Let me share with you my latest dining experience (May 2019).

My group of five decided to have an early dinner to meet up with a relative later in the evening in Makati so we sped to the said branch. Parking was available in front of the building because we came early. IMG_4899-ok

Use the side stairs to go to the 2/F dining areaIMG_4898-ok

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We went up the stairs and upon entry, we were greeted and ushered to a comfortable table for five with very good ventilation on a hot and humid late afternoon.

The interiors, lighting fixtures and decorations show the Middle Eastern4 influences and exude a very relaxed dining experience.BeFunky-collage-1-interiors-ok

IMG_4908-okThe bar, Hossein’s Persian Kebab, Makati Avenue

The layout of the dining area allows for intimate dining for pairs and groups of 4-6.BeFunky-collage-2-interiors-ok

We were given menu cards and let me share with you the menu (pictures taken from the menu card):

APPETIZERS – MEZZE10IMG_4878-appetizers-ok

SALADS, SOUPS, BREADIMG_4879-soups-salads-bread-ok

KEBAB11 SPECIALTIES

IMG_4882-kebab-ok

CHELOU12 SPECIALTIESIMG_4884-chelou-ok

MIDDLE EASTERN4 SPECIALTIES AND RICE SPECIALTIESIMG_4886-ME Specialties-ok

CURRY AND SOUTH ASIAN6 SPECIALTIESIMG_4887-Curry-South-Asian-1-ok

IMG_4888-Curry-South-Asian-2-ok

SANDWICHES AND SHAWARMA,13  BEVERAGES, SHAKES AND JUICESIMG_4889-SW-Shawarma-ok

DESSERTS, TEA AND COFFEE1-desserts-tea-coffee

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES

1-bevs

We selected a relatively light meal, in anticipation of more food to follow when we meet up with our relative. Two of the members of the group were dieting – low carb and no sugar– but were willing to cheat a bit so we ordered:

1.Roti Channai, a Malaysian puffed sweet bread, served with a special sauce made with a blend of Indian spices (PHP 140 each)

IMG_4897-bead-okSorry, 1/4 of the roti was already taken before I could take a picture.

OMG! I am so in love with this flaky, moist flatbread, and that is why we had three orders! It was served hot, and after you pull a piece and dip it in the sauce, it was so satisfying. Its texture – a combination of soft, flaky layers with crisp-chewy parts, along with the delightfully sweet-oily taste is enough for me to eat it plain – without a dip. The dip is like icing on the cake for me. You need to try this, trust Tita S!

2. Mega Kebab I, a chelou12 specialty which is a Persian kebab11 platter consisting of 2 sticks each of beef kubideh14, beef shish kebab15, chicken kebab, with grilled tomatoes on the side, and served on a bed of biryani16and saffron rice (PHP1,755)

IMG_4896-kebabs-ok

This order is ideal for a group of four to five people, depending on your level of hunger and other orders. The beef and chicken kebabs were so tasty, tender, and cooked just right. The combination of rice and grilled tomatoes with small amounts of grilled onions complemented the kebabs to the max!

3. Tabbouleh, the customary Syrian salad made of a mélange of bulgur17, delicately chopped parsley, and diced tomatoes, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil (PHP525, family size) 

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This bulgur-vegetable dish was so refreshing with just the right amount of dressing. This is a wonderful side order with any kebab11 choice in this restaurant.

A male member of the group ordered two bottles of San Miguel Beer (PHP108 per bottle), all served well chilled.

You might find this restaurant a bit pricey but it is worth it. So indulge when you can, treat yourself, you deserve it! And, do not forget your senior citizen cards for your discount! Please check prices with the restaurant before visiting this restaurant.

The service was very professional. Orders were served as promised, at the right temperature, and with appropriate accompaniments. Water glasses were immediately refilled.

I went to the restroom and it was well-maintained and well-stocked, with good water pressure, and smelled really good. There is a separate cubicle for males and females.

The bill was promptly presented upon request and our senior discounts were deducted.

Bottomline, I recommend Hossein’s for (dieting or cheating) seniors and non-seniors! I counted their dishes and it totaled 251, along with 66 kinds of beverages, so there is definitely a dish and a drink for everyone! Absolutely a happy tummy always!

Information and some pictures were obtained from the website: www.hosseins.com and https://www.facebook.com/hosseinspersiankebab/

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for all my visits in the different branches of this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? Do you also dine at Hossein’s? What outlet/s do you frequent? 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 interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

 1Metro Manila is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975. It is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Metro Manila”.19

2Halal is the Arabic word which means “permissible” in English, with food particularly prepared in accordance to Islamic law, especially meat processed and prepared in accordance with those requirements (e.g., Allah’s name must be pronounced during slaughter; the animal must not be unconscious; the animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products; the instrument must be very sharp to ensure humane slaughter and the animal must be slit at the throat; the animal must be hung upside down and allowed to bleed dry; eating blood is not halal). These steps must be accomplished by a Muslim or the People of the Book (Christian or Jew).20, 21

3Eastern Mediterranean countries are geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea, and include Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Eastern Mediterranean”.22

4Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia23, Turkey and Egypt. It consists of the following countries: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Middle East”.24

5The Mediterranean countries are those that surround the Mediterranean Sea. Southern Europe25, the Levant26 and North Africa27 regions border the Mediterranean, in addition to two island nations – Cyprus and Malta. Here are the countries and territories bordering the Mediterranean Sea: (1) Southern European coast: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey; (2) Levantine coast: Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine (Gaza Strip), and Syria; (3) Northern African coast: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of Mediterranean countries”.28

6South Asia, or Southern Asia, is the term used to represent the southern region of the Asian continent, bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on land (clockwise, from the west) by West Asia23, Central Asia29, East Asia30, and Southeast Asia31. It consists of the territories of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “South Asia”.32

7The term habibi is an Arabic term that literally means “my love”, but sometimes translated as “my dear,” “my darling,” or “beloved”.33

8Shisha is the term used in the Arab Peninsula (Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunesia, UAE, Yemen), Egypt, Sudan, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, by the Moroccan immigrants in Spain, and the Arab and Indian communities in Southeast Asia32) for the single- or multi-stemmed waterpipe used to vaporize and smoke flavored tobacco, where vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin, often glass-based, before inhalation. People in the Arab world and the Middle East4 smoke these waterpipes as part of their culture and traditions, Social smoking is held during parties, small get-togethers, and in (Middle Eastern) cafés. Hookah is the Indian term for shisha. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Hookah”.34  (I will insert 2 pics from Wiki here and give proper credit)

9www.primer.com.ph/food/cuisines/indian/hosseins-persian-kebab-in-makati

10A meze, mezze, or mezza, is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East4 (as a multi-course meal), the Balkans35 and Greece (as snacks while drinking or talking), and North Africa27. It is generally accompanied by distilled drinks like arak, mastika, ouzo, raki, rakia, or tsipouro. It may also be consumed with beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Meze”.36

11Kebabs are various cooked, skewered or not skewered, (cut up or ground) meat (or seafood) dishes, sometimes with fruits and vegetables, with origins in Middle Eastern4 cuisine, with variants throughout Asia and even worldwide. In the Muslim world, a kebab is any of a wide variety of grilled (cooked on a skewer over fire) meat dishes. It can also be grilled, baked in a pan in an oven, or as a stew, and served with various accompaniments. It is traditionally made of mutton, but regional variations use beef, goat, chicken, or fish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kebab”.37

12Chelou, or chelow kebab, is an Iranian dish consisting of cooked rice and one of many varieties of kebab11. It is considered the national dish of Iran. It is served with accompaniments such as butter, sumac powder, basil, onions, and grilled tomatoes. The traditional beverage which accompanies chelou is doogh, an Iranian yogurt-based drink, sometimes made of carbonated water. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Chelow kebab”.38

13Shawarma is a Middle Eastern4 meat preparation based on the Turkish döner kebab39, originally made of seasoned mutton. Modern versions are also made of beef, chicken, turkey or veal, cut into thin slices, and stacked in a cone-like shape on a vertical rotisserie. Thin slices are shaved off the cooked surface as it continuously rotates. Spices added include cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, paprika and turmeric. It is commonly served as a sandwich or wrap, in a flatbread such as pita40 or laffa41, often garnished with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, pickled vegetables, and tahini42 sauce or amba43 mango sauce. Some restaurants may offer additional toppings like grilled peppers, eggplant, or French fries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Shawarma”.44

14Kabab kubideh/koobideh/kubide is an Iranian meat kebab11 made from ground lamb or beef, and less commonly chicken, often mixed with parsley and chopped onions. Salt, garlic, black pepper, celery powder, sumac, very finely grated onion and one egg yolk per pound of meat are added. All ingredients are mixed, covered, and left to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. It is then grilled on skewers, traditionally over hot coals, and is served with polo (Iranian rice pilaf with oil, salt and saffron), accompanied by grilled tomatoes and onions. Sumac (a reddish-purple powder for a tart, lemony taste) is usually served as a tableside garnishing spice. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kabab kubideh”.45

15Shish kebab is a type of Middle Eastern kebab11traditionally made of grilled cubes of lamb, with other versions like beef, veal, swordfish, and chicken meat. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Shish kebab”.46

16Biryani, biriyani, biriani, birani, or briyani, is a mixed rice dish of the Muslims made of Indian spices, rice, meat (beef, chicken, fish, goat, or prawn), vegetables, or eggs, with regional differences. The condiments and spices used may include ghee (clarified butter), bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, garlic, ginger, green chili, mace, mint leaves, nutmeg, onion, pepper, saffron, and tomato. The dish consists of two layers of rice with a layer of meat (or vegetables) in the middle. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Biryani”.47

17Bulgur is a cereal food made from the cracked parboiled groats of several different wheat species, most often with durum wheat, with a light, nutty flavor. It originated in Middle Eastern4 cuisine. It is a common ingredient in cuisines of many countries of the Middle East and Mediterranean5. It does not require cooking, although it can be included in cooked dishes; soaking in water is all that is needed. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Bulgur”.48

19“Metro Manila,” accessed May 9, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Manila

20“Halal,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal

21https://www.thekitchn.com/good-question-what-is-halal-me-60979

22“Eastern Mediterranean,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Mediterranean

23Western Asia includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Western Asia”.49

24“Middle East,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East

25Southern Europe, or Mediterranean Europe, is the southern region of the European continent, consisting of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Corsica, Croatia, Cyprus, Gibraltar, the East Thrace of European Turkey, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Spain. Andorra, North Macedonia, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, and the Vatican City are also often included, despite not having a coast in the Mediterranean. It can also include mainland Southern France and Monaco, which are otherwise considered parts of Western Europe. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Southern Europe”.50

26 The Levant refers to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean3, primarily in Western Asia23. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Levant”.51

27North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, but the most commonly accepted coverage includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “North Africa”.52

28 “List of Mediterranean countries,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mediterranean_countries

29Central Asia is a region which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. It consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also colloquially referred to as “The Stans” as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix “-stan”, meaning “land of”. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Central Asia”.53

30East Asia is the eastern subregion of Asia, defined in either geographical or ethno-cultural terms to include China, Japan, (North and South) Korea, Vietnam, geographically and geopolitically to also include Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Mongolia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “East Asia”.54

31Southeast Asia, or Southeast Asia, is a sub-region of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China and Japan, east of India, west of Papua New Guinea, and north of Australia. It is bordered to the north by East Asia30, to the west by South Asia6 and the Bay of Bengal, to the east of Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. It consists of 11 states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam), two Australian external dependencies (Christmas Island and Cocos/Keeling Islands), and two internal dependencies (Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Southeast Asia”.55

32“South Asia,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Asia

33https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/habibi/

34“Hookah,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hookah

35The Balkans is a term used more generally for the region, including states in the region, which may extend beyond the peninsula, and is not defined by the geography of the peninsula itself. The Balkans are usually said to comprise Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Balkans”.56

36“Meze,”accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meze

37“Kebab,”accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kebab

38“Chelow kebab,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelow_kabab

39Döner Kebab is a type of Turkish kebab11 made of seasoned meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The outer layer is sliced into thin shavings as it cooks. The sliced meat may be served on a plate with various accompaniments, stuffed into a pita40 or other type of bread as a sandwich, or wrapped in a thin flatbread such as lavash57 or yufka58. It inspired similar dishes like the Arab shawarma13, Greek gyros59, and the Mexican al pastor60. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Döner Kebab”.61

 40Pita is a Middle Eastern4 family of yeast-leavened round flatbreads baked from wheat flour, also common in neighboring areas. It is used to scoop sauces or dips, such as hummus62, or to wrap kebabs11, gyros59, or falafel63, in the manner of sandwiches. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pita”.64

41Laffa, or taboon bread, is a Middle Eastern4 flatbread, traditionally baked in a taboon oven or a tannur, and is similar to the various tandoor breads in many parts of Asia. It is of medium thickness, slightly chewy, and does not tear easily. It is used as a base or wrap in many cuisines, and eaten with different accompaniments. It is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine worldwide. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Taboon bread”.65

42Tahini is a condiment made from toasted, ground, hulled sesame seeds. It is served by itself as a dip, or as a major ingredient in baba ghanoush66, halva67, and hummus62. Tahini-based sauces are common in Middle Eastern4 restaurants as a side dish or as a garnish, usually including lemon juice, salt and garlic, and thinned with water. The sauce is also a popular topping for meat and vegetables in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is used in cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean3, the South Caucasus68, as well as parts of North Africa27. It is also used in Chinese and Southeast Asian55 cuisine. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tahini”.69

43Amba, or anba, is a tangy mango pickle condiment popular in Indian and Middle Eastern4 cuisine, particularly Iraqi, Israeli and Saudi cuisines. It is typically made of mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chili and fenugreek, similar to mango chutney. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Amba (condiment)”.70

44“Shawarma,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma

45 “Kabab kubideh,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabab_kubideh

46 “Shish kebab,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shish_kebab

47“Biryani,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biryani

48“Bulgur,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgur

49“Western Asia,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Asia

50“Southern Europe,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Europe

51“Levant,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant

52“North Africa,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Africa

53“Central Asia,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Asia

54“East Asia,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Asia

55“Southeast Asia,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Asia

56“Balkans,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans

57Lavash is a soft, thin, Armenian unleavened flatbread made in a tandoor (a cylindrical metal oven) and also eaten all over Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. It is made with flour, water and salt. The thickness of the bread varies, depending on how thin it was rolled out. Toasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds are sometimes sprinkled before baking. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lavash”.71

58Yufka is a thin, round and unleavened flat bread in Turkish cuisine, similar to lavash57, usually made from wheat flour, water and salt. It is about 18 inches (40-50 cm) in diameter. The sheets of yufka dough are baked on a heated iron plate called a sac for about 2-3 minutes, turned over once to brown the other side. Before consumption, dry yufka bread is sprayed with warm water. The moistened bread is covered with a cotton cloth and is rested for 10-12 minutes before serving. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Yufka”.72

59Gyro, or gyros, is a Greek dish made from meat (pork, chicken, ground beef, mutton, or veal), cooked on a vertical rotisserie, similar to shawarma13 (of the Middle East4). The roasted meat is sliced vertically in thin, crisp shavings when done. It is generally served wrapped or stuffed in a lightly grilled flatbread (like pita40), and rolled up with sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, tzatziki73 sauce, and sometimes, French fries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Gyro (food)”.74

60Al pastor, or tacos al pastor, is the Mexican version of Turkish döner kebab39 and the Greek gyros59. It is a pork dish developed in central Mexico that is based on shawarma13 spit-grilled meat, brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Al pastor literally means “shepherd style” in Spanish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Al pastor”.75

61“Döner Kebab,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Döner_kebab

 62Hummus is the classic Middle Eastern4 chickpea and sesame dip or spread. Cooked or mashed chickpeas or other beans are blended with tahini42, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is also popular in the Mediterranean5. It is rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals like manganese. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Hummus”.76

63Falafel is a Levantine77 and Egyptian deep-fried ball, or a flat or doughnut-shaped patty, made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both, commonly eaten in Western Asia23, most likely originated in Egypt. Herbs, spices, and onion relatives are commonly added to the dough of this vegetarian dish, considered a street food. The balls are commonly served in a pita40, laid over a bed of salad or pickled vegetables, and drizzled with hot sauce or a tahini42-based sauce. It can also be wrapped in a flatbread called a taboon. It can be eaten alone as a snack, or served as part of an assortment of appetizers called meze10. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Falafel”.78

64“Pita,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pita

65“Taboon bread,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taboon_bread

66Baba ghanoush, baba ganoush, or baba ghanouj, is a Levantine77 appetizer of mashed baked or broiled eggplant mixed with tahini42, olive oil, and various seasonings. It is a typical mezze10, often eaten as a dip with pita40 bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Baba ghanoush”.79

67Halva, halvah, or halwa, is any of various dense, sweet confections, mostly made in the Middle East4, Central Asia29, and the Indian subcontinent80. It could be flour-based, made by frying flour (such as semolina, cornstarch, and rice flour) on oil (like clarified butter or ghee), mixing it into a roux, and cooking it with a sugary syrup, very popular in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, India, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, and Turkey. It could also be crumbly and nut butter-based, usually made from tahini42 or other nut butters such as sesame and sunflower, and sugar. Halva can also be based on other ingredients like beans, lentils and vegetables, like carrots, pumpkins, squashes, and yams. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Halva”.81

68The South Caucasus is a geographical region in the southern Caucasus Mountains on the border of Eastern Europe82 and Western Asia49. It roughly corresponds to modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “South Causasus”.83

69“Tahini,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahini

70“Amba (condiment),” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amba_(condiment)

71“Lavash,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavash

72“Yufka,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yufka

73Tzatziki, cacik, or tarator, is a dip, soup, or sauce found in the cuisines of Southeast Europe25 and the Middle East4. It is made of salted strained yogurt or diluted yogurt, mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs such as dill, mint, parsley and thyme. It is generally served as a cold appetizer (meze10) or a side dish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tzatziki”.84

74“Gyro (food),” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyro_(food)

75“Al pastor,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_pastor

76“Hummus,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummus

77Levantine cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Levant26 which covers a large area of the Eastern Mediterranean3. The most distinctive aspect of Levantine cuisine is meze10, including baba ghanoush66, hummus62 and tabbouleh85.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Levantine cuisine”.86

78“Falafel,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falafel

79“Baba ghanoush,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_ghanoush

80The Indian subcontinent is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush87 in the west, and the Arakanese88 in the east. Politically, it includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Indian subcontinent”.89

81“Halva,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva

82Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent, and although there is no common definition of its coverage, the United Nations’ Statistics Division included the following countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, and Slovakia, as well as the republics of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.90

83“South Caucasus,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Caucasus

84“Tzatziki,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzatziki

85Tabbouleh is a Lebanese and Syrian vegetarian salad made mostly of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, onion, mint, (soaked, not cooked) bulgur17, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Some variations add garlic or lettuce, or use couscous91, instead of bulgur. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tabbouleh”.92

86“Levantine cuisine,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levantine_cuisine

87Hindu Kush is an 800-km-long mountain range that stretches near the Afghan-Pakistan border, from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan, according to the Wikipedia page “Hindu Kush”.93

88The Arakan Mountains, or the Rakhine Mountains, are a mountain range in western Myanmar, according to the Wikipedia page “Arakan Mountains”.94

89“Indian subcontinent,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_subcontinent

90http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Eastern_Europe

91Couscous is a Maghrebi95 dish made of (3 mm or 0.12 in.) small steamed balls from crushed durum wheat semonila, traditionally served with a stew spooned on top. It is a staple food throughout the North African27 cuisines of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Couscous”.96

92“Tabbouleh,”accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabbouleh

93“Hindu Kush,” accessed May 9, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_Kush

94“Arakan Mountains,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arakan_Mountains

95The Maghrebi is a major region of North Africa27 that consists primarily of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. It is also called Northwest Africa, Northern Africa, Greater Arab Maghreb, Arab Maghreb, Greater Maghreb, the Berber world, Barbary, or Berberry. It additionally includes the disputed territories of Western Sahara (mostly controlled by Morocco), and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla (both controlled by Spain and claimed by Morocco). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Maghrebi”.97

96“Couscous,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couscous

97“Maghrebi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maghrebi

PALITON BEACH: THE LITTLE BORACAY OF SIQUIJOR

Paliton Beach is a small beach in the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines.

Paliton_Beach-wikiChecawey, 18 February 2012, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paliton_Beach,_Siquijor,_Philippines.JPG

It is located on the northeastern part of the municipality5 of San Juan, on the western part of Siquijor2.

 

Here is my experience in Paliton Beach:

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 friendly, cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.2-parking-Jimmy-cropped

This beach was my group’s first major stop during our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour, right after the “I love Siquijor” sign where we just had a couple of pictures taken.Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

Perhaps, you can schedule this beach as your last stop for the spectacular sunset. However, this beach was part of our morning schedule in our day trip, so we could not do so. Maybe, the next time we visit Siquijor and stay overnight, we will schedule this place in time for sunset.

From the main highway, our van entered a narrow unpaved, cleared pathway and Jimmy still drove for a little over a kilometer before we reached this beach. There is no entrance fee but the parking fee is PHP10; swimming is free in this beach.

Jimmy, our driver, parked the van under a coconut tree for shade. There were several small stalls nearby selling refreshments and snack items. It was still early in the morning so we did not buy anything from these stalls. I must say that the area near the beach is not developed nor organized.

The easement was lined with coconut trees. The narrow beach has sand that is white and powdery so this place is called “The Little Boracay7 of Siquijor”. It also has clear and calm blue waters. The scenery was very peaceful that March 2019 morning, perhaps because there were very few tourists when we were there.

We decided not to swim this early in the morning and will just do so after lunch in the last two stops.

People sunbathe, swim and snorkel in this beach but I was told that the best time would be at high tide and during summer months. It gets crowded with locals during sunsets and weekends.

A marine sanctuary is somewhere near and there is a charge to swim or snorkel there. I was told it had a coral garden and small fish,and covers more than 6 hectares.

We just looked around and took pictures. We did not swim here and only briefly stayed on this beach, mostly admiring its fine white sand and coconut tree-lined shore and clear water.1-Paliton Beach - right

We did not get to explore this destination since we only set a day tour of the whole island-province of Siquijor.

I was attracted to a particular coconut tree that was leaning very low towards the water. I was told that you can take a picture on this tree and just give a donation, but no one from my group wanted to do so.1-Paliton Beach - left

We noticed that there were a couple of bancas2 docked on the shore.

We contented ourselves taking pictures and videos of this “Little Boracay3 of Siquijor” because of its fine, white sand and calm blue waters. 

We only stayed about 15 minutes on this beach. We had to proceed to the other sites to see more of this island province1.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are based on my personal experience in this province1.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORTAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJORSERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, 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 beautiful beach. 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 region8. 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 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.”11 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Siquijor is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality5 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.12

3Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions8: 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”.13 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).

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region8 located in the island group of Visayas3, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units14 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor2. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”15

5A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)14, 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.”16

6Yane’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.

7Boracay 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.”17

8A 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 municipalities5 (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.”15 Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

9A city is the local government unit14 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.”18 Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

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.”19

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

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

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

14A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities20; component cities21 and municipalities5; and, barangays10, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.22

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

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

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

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

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

20An independent city is a type of city9 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 region8 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city23 or independent component city24. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”18

21A component city is a type of city9 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city23. 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 municipality5. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”18

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

23A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city9 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”.18 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?).

24An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city9 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 city23. 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”18

GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR

Hapitanan is a welcome stop between destinations in Siquijor1. It is located along the Circumferential Road, in the town of Lazi2, in the island province3 of Siquijor, in the Central Visayas4 Region (Region VII)5 of the Philippines.

1-map-Siquijor-HAPITANAN

I was told by one of its staff that hapitanan means “stop-over place”.

This place was my group’s third 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 Siquijor1. Jimmy Bueno was our very friendly, accommodating and cheerful van driver.

2-parking-Jimmy-cropped

There is a cleared area beside this establishment for parking, regardless of your vehicle.

You can briefly stop here for something refreshing, something sweet, something quick and tasty, something silog7, or something to wake you up. So, for those who did not take their breakfast, or are hungry at this stop, indulge! Because we were still full, we did not order anything from the menu. 1-menu-Hapitanan-labelled

1-right-Hapitanan

You can use the monoblock tables and chairs to the right of the counter.

1-middle-Hapitanan

This is what you see as you enter Hapitanan. I suggest you give your order and while waiting, you can do other things. Read on!

But wait, there’s more! You can also do the following:

  1. Take the Broomstick Challenge! Just give a donation, ask one of your companions or a staff member there to take your picture while you position yourself like you are flying with a broom, and jump as high as you can, with both feet folded. You can have several shots taken, with different poses, along with the broom.

1-Broomstick ChallengeDo not waste any time! Take the Broomstick Challenge, just go up these steps, to your right, upon entry. Do not forget to give your donation.

FB-Hapitanan Grill and RestobarHave a companion or someone from Hapitanan take your picture from below, and voila, achieve! You have passed the Broomstick Challenge! (Picture taken from the Facebook account of Hapitanan Grill and Restobar)

2. Walk a bit further outside the store and you can have a beautiful view of the town              of Lazi2.1-view

3. Have your picture taken on the wooden swing and tire swing too, with the beautiful          view as background.1-swings

4. Buy fresh buko8, sip using a metal straw (yes, they do not use plastic straws here) and you can even buy a set for yourself and/or for someone else as a gift. This is exactly what my group did; we also ordered a buko each. The buko I tasted was so sweet and refreshing! After you have sipped all the water, you can request the buko to be halved and you can then scoop the soft meat. The person-in-charge was so creative chopping a small scoop-shaped piece from the shell so you will not need a spoon to do so.

1-bukoRefreshing fresh buko sold to the left, upon your entry. I think it costs PHP50 per buko.

1-buko-2Kudos, Hapitanan, for the metal straws but please be sure to soap, use a long, narrow bristled brush, and wash them well after every use. Thank you very much.

5. Look around at the other items for sale, like Siquijor souvenirs (e.g., wooden carved refrigerator magnets, herbal wine, key chains, voodoo dolls, love potions), and snacks (for you to bring to your next destinations).

1-goods sold

We only stayed less than 30 minutes in Hapitanan so we can proceed to the other sites of Siquijor.

At this point, I must say that all the people in Hapitanan were very hospitable, cheerful and made our brief stop very memorable.

For more pictures and information, see its Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/pg/wherehappytanan/photos/?ref=page_internal

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

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORTAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, 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 flying broom experience and brief stay in Hapitanan. 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:

1Siquijor is an island province3 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas Region (Region VII)5. Its capital is the municipality9 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.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.10

2Lazi, formerly called Tigbawan, is a coastal municipality9 in the island province3 of Siquijor1, with 18 barangays11.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 (a National Historical Landmark12, a National Cultural Treasure13, and included in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites14 under the Baroque15 Churches of the Philippines-Extension), the Convent in front of it (one of the largest convents built during the Spanish colonial era16), the 400-yo enchanting balete tree with fish spa, and Cambugahay Falls (where you can accept the Tarzan Swing-Dive Challenge). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lazi, Siquijor”17and “Siquijor”10. See related posts: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR and TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR! 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 region18. 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 cities19 and municipalities9 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”20 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

4Visayas 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”.21 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).

5Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region18 located in the island group of Visayas4, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units22 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor1. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”23

6Yane’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.

7Silog is the abbreviated fusion of the Tagalog words sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg, usually, sunny-side up). It is used as a suffix in combination with a prefix pertaining to the main dish for a set breakfast meal. An example is tosilog: to (short for tocino24) + silog = fried rice with tocino (sliced, cured, fried pork) and fried egg.

8Buko is the Filipino term for young coconut, sold in the Philippines especially in the countryside. The peddler can usually open the coconut for you, and even skillfully carve off the whole meat for you, with the water intact inside. Alternatively, it could be cut and enjoyed the way I described above.

9A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)22, 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 barangays11, 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.”25

10“Siquijor,”accessed March 2, 2019, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

11A 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.”26

12A National Historical Landmark of the Philippines is a place or 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”.27

13A 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 Arts28 and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines29, National Library of the Philippines30, and National Archives of the Philippines31. Such declarations are authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 200932 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines33 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”.34 The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Treasure”.35

14A 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”.36

15Baroque 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 stucco37, 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.38

16The 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 Revolution39. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898”.40

17“Lazi, Siquijor,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazi,_Suquijor

18A 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 municipalities9 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11. 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 Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

19A city is the local government unit22 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.”41 Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

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

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

22A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces3 and independent cities42; component cities43 and municipalities9; and, barangays11, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.44

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

24Tocino is the Philippine variant of the Spanish bacon. A popular fried breakfast treat made from thinly sliced strips of pork belly, it is traditionally marinated using saltpeter, salt and sugar, although pineapple juice may be added for a slightly tart flavor. It can now be prepared by mixing the meat with anise wine, annatto, water, sugar and salt. The meat strips are stacked in a container, then covered and kept refrigerated for about three days to cure. Prior to serving, it is fried in oil until the fat is rendered. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tocino.”45

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

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

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

28The 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 Philippines31, National Historical Commission of the Philippines46, National Library of the Philippines30, National Museum of the Philippines29, 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”.47 Visit its website: www.ncca.gov.ph

29The 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 Arts28. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Museum of the Philippines”.48 Visit its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

30The 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 located in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Library of the Philippines”.49 Visit its website: www.web.nlp.gov.ph

31The 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”.50 Visit its website: www.nationalarchives.gov.ph

32The 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”.51

33The Cultural Properties of the Philippines refers to the cultural properties listed by the National Commission for Culture and Arts28, National Historical Commission of the Philippines46, and the National Museum of the Philippines29 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”.52

 34www.primer.com.ph

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

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

37Stucco refers to the cement-based 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.53

38https://study.com/academy/lesson/italian-baroque-architecture-characteristics-examples.html

39The Philippine Revolution is the revolution that started on August 23, 1896 when the Spaniards discovered the Katipunan54, and ended in August 13, 1898. The Filipinos were victorious and resulted in the expulsion of the Spanish colonial government, as well as the: signing of the Pack of Biak-na-Bato55 in 1897; resumption of hostilities during the Spanish-American War56 in 1898; the establishment of the First Philippine Republic57; and, the outbreak of the Philippine-American War58 in 1899. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Philippine Revolution”.59

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

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

42An independent city is a type of city19 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province3 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 region18 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city60 or independent component city61. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”41

43A component city is a type of city19 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city60. 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 municipality9. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”41

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

45“Tocino,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocino

46The 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”.62

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

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

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

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

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

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

53https://www.thebalancesmb.com/choose-right-stucco-mix-844655

54The Katipunan was the Philippine revolutionary secret society founded by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892 that aimed to gain independence from Spain through a revolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Katipunan”.63

55The Pact 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 Revolution39, 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”.64

56The 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 Paris65, signed on December 10, 1898, and 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”66 and “Treaty of Paris of 1898”67.

57The First Philippine Republic, or the Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines, established after the Philippine Revolution39 against the Spanish Empire (1896-1897) and the Spanish-American War56, 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”.68

58The Philippine-American War, the Philippine War, the Philippine Insurrection, or the Tagalog Insurgency, was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic57 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 Paris65, under which the US took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish-American War56. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Philippine-American War”.69

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

60A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city19 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”.41 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines. See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

61An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city19 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 city60. 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”41

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

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

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

65The 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 War56. 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)”.67

66“Spanish-American War,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish-American_War

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

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

69 “Philippine-American War,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine-American_War

Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS

Siquijor is an island province1 located in the Central Visayas2 Region (Region VII)of the Philippines. It has 6 municipalities4: Enrique Villanueva, Larena, Lazi, Maria, San Juan, and Siquijor (the capital, and yes, the same name as the province).

It is the smallest province1 among the provinces of the said region5, and the third smallest province in the Philippines, next to Camiguin6 and Batanes7 (the smallest).

THE LEGEND OF SIQUIJOR

Legend tells of a King (or Datu) Kihod as the source of the island’s name. Before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, this island was the home to the Kingdom of Katugasan, from the word tugas (the local name for the Molave trees that covered the hills found all over the island). The early Siquijodnons used tugas to make posts for their homes because of its strength and durability. It was also used for making wooden plows to cultivate the rocky soil for farming.

Archeological proof – in the form of pottery and old tools excavated in the island’s caves, as well as Chinese ceramics and other objects – substantiate the supposition that, prior to the discovery of using tugas as housing material, the island’s natives lived in caves, and, that they were already in contact with Chinese traders during the pre-colonial era. The art of traditional healing and witchcraft belief systems also developed during this time.

This island province1 is 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 region5. 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?

Siquijor is commonly 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. See traditions and beliefs below.

BRIEF HISTORY

This island was discovered by Esteban Rodriguez and Juan Aguirre of the Legaspi8 expedition in 1565.

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 molave trees.

Siquijor was founded in 1783 and was under the province1 of Bohol9, part of Negros Oriental10 (1854-1892), then a sub-province of Negros Oriental (1901), and eventually, an independent province on September 17, 1971 by RA 6396, with the municipality4 of Larena as the capital. A year after, the capital was transferred to Siquijor town, by Proclamation 1975.

The municipality4 of Siquijor was the first parish, established in 1783, under the administration of secular clergymen. In the years that followed until 1877, the parishes of Canoan (Larena), Tigbawan (Lazi), Makapilay (San Juan), and Cangmenlac (Maria) were founded by Augustinian and Recollect11 priests.

TRADITIONS AND BELIEFS

The Siquijodnons are predominantly Roman Catholic 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.

The Festival starts on Holy Wednesday with the gathering of the final ingredients. This day is known as pang-alap. Activity on Maundy Thursday is called pang-adlip, or the chopping of different tree barks and other ingredients, said to be more than 200 kinds. On Good Friday, healers and herbalists concoct amalgams for black magic or occult practices. This is part of the villages’ secret knowledge, and no outsiders allowed to observe.

In contrast, the Black Saturday activity is open to spectators. This time, the herbalists, healers, and spectators gather together in a circle, taking turns to produce mixtures that also include herbal potions. When the brews are ready, they are bottled and sold. This village tradition started before the 1930s, according to the people of San Antonio and Cantabon, and has been handed down from the predecessors of some famous healers.

Siquijor partly owes its famous mystique to its “traditional doctors” and their variety of folk healing and divination rituals, with the bolo-bolo as the most popular form. Bolo-bolo is performed with the use of a glass of water, a (magical black) stone, and a (bamboo) straw.

bolo-bolo session begins with the healer feeling the pulse of the patient to determine if the ailment is brought about by evil spirits or by natural causes. Some healers treat only patients whose illnesses are deemed due to supernatural elements, while others treat illnesses of both origins.

Notwithstanding popular belief in the curative powers of the bolo-bolo and other folk healing practices in Siquijor, these same practices have fanned so much speculation to the extent of becoming, in fact, the subject of several scholarly studies. Whether you believe it or not, one thing is certain, it has become one of the Siquijor’s major attractions.

The information was obtained from https://pia.gov.ph/provinces/siquijor and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

Please read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORTAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR and GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR.

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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 region5. 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 cities12 and municipalities4 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays13, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”14 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 regions: Central Visayas3, Eastern Visayas15 and Western Visayas16. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol9, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces1, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.17 See the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines: Luzon18 and Mindanao19.

3Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Visayas2, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units20 (LGUs): Bohol9, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental10, and Siquijor. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

4A municipality, or town, 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 province1, subdivided into barangays13. A town 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 Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”22

5A region in the Philippines 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 cities12 and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays13. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

6Camiguin is the second smallest province1 in the Philippines, both in population and land area, after Batanes7. This island province is located in the Bohol Sea, geographically part of the Northern Mindanao Region (Region X)23, and formerly part of Misamis Oriental province. The provincial capital is Mambajao, also the province’s largest municipality4 in area and population. It is famous for its sweet lanzones (see related post – Savoring Pinoy Delights: THE LUSCIOUS LANZONES) to which the annual week-long Lanzones Festival is dedicated, held every third week of October. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Camiguin.”24

7Batanes is the smallest province1 in the Philippines, both in population and land area. This archipelago25 province is the northernmost province of the country, and is located in the Cagayan Valley Region (Region II)26. 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 Sites27 (see a related post – Seniors, Now You Know: WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?). Seven intangible heritage elements of the Ivatan28 are undergoing a process to be included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists29 between 2018-2025. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Batanes.”30

8Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (1502-August 20, 1572), also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo (The Elder), was a Spanish navigator and governor who established the first Spanish settlement in the East Indies when his expedition crossed the Pacific Ocean, from the Viceroyalty of New Spain, in modern-day Mexico, and arrived in Cebu, in the Philippines. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Miguel Lopez de Ligazpi.”31

9Bohol is a province1 located in the Central Visayas Region (Region 7)3, consisting of the island itself and 75 minor surrounding islands, and considered the 10th largest island in the Philippines. Its capital is Tagbilaran. To the west of Bohol is Cebu, to the northeast is the island of Leyte, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao19. It is known for the Chocolate Hills, its beaches and resorts, and the smallest primate in the world called tarsier (see a related post – Short and Simple: THE PHILIPPINE TARSIER). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Bohol.”32

10Negros Oriental, Oriental Negros or Eastern Negros, is a province1 located in the Central Visayas Region (Region 7)3 of the Philippines. It occupies the southeastern half of the large island of Negros, and borders Negros Occidental, which comprises the northwestern half. It also includes Apo Island, a popular dive site for both local and foreign tourists. Its capital is Dumaguete City, the seat of government and the most populous city of the province. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Negros Oriental”.33

11The 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”.34

12A city in the Philippines 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). Congress is the only legislative entity that can incorporate a city in the country. Upon receiving its charter, a city also receives a full complement of executive departments to best serve its constituents. There are 145 cities, as of 2016, in the country. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”35See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

13A 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.”36

14“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines

15Eastern Visayas Region (Region VIII) is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Visayas2, with Tacloban as its regional center. It has 8 local government units20 (LGUs): Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Ormoc, Samar, Southern Leyte, and Tacloban. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

16The Western Visayas Region (Region VI) is a Philippine region located in the island group of Visayas2, with Iloilo City as its regional center. It has 8 local government units20 (LGUs): Aklan, Antique, Bacolod, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Iloilo City, and Negros Occidental. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

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

18Luzon is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It is the country’s largest (ranked 15th largest in the world) and most populated island, as well as its economical and political center. Luzon is composed of 8 regions5: Bicol, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Ilocos, MIMAROPA and the National Capital Region. The 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Visayas2 and Mindanao19. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Luzon.”37

19Mindanao 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 the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). It is composed of 22 provinces1 and 33 cities12 (27 provinces and 33 cities, if associated islands are included). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Mindanao.”38 See the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines: Luzon18 and Visayas2.

20A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities39; component cities40 and municipalities4; and, barangays13, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”41

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

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

23Northern Mindanao Region (Region X) is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Mindanao19, with Cagayan de Oro as its regional center. It has 7 local government units20 (LGUs): Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Iligan, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

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

25An archipelago, island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster, or collection of islands, or sometimes, a sea containing a small number of scattered islands, according to the Wikipedia page “Archipelago”.42

26The Cagayan Valley Region (Region II) is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Luzon18, with Tuguegarao as its regional center. It has 6 local government units20 (LGUs): Batanes7, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Quirino, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

27 A World Heritage Site (WHS) is a unique landmark, or geographically and historically identifiable place, which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific, physical or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. UNESCO mandates a nomination process. It starts when a country lists its significant cultural and natural sites to form a Tentative List. It can then place sites selected from that list into a Nomination File which is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union. These bodies then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. The Committee meets once a year to determine whether or not to inscribe each nominated property on the World Heritage List, and sometimes defers or refers the decision to request more information from the country that nominated the site. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage Sites in the Philippines”.43 See a related post: Seniors, Now You Know: WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

28The Ivatans are a Filipino ethnolinguistic group predominant in the islands of Batanes7 of the Philippines, known for their stone houses of coral and limestone, designed to protect against the hostile climate in Batanes7. 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”.44

29The UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists consists of important intangible cultural heritages45 worldwide, established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to ensure better protection for these treasures and the awareness of their significance. The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists”.46

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

31“Miguel Lopez de Legazpi,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Lopez_de_Legazpi

32“Bohol,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohol

33“Negros Oriental,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negros_Oriental

34“Recollects,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recollects

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

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

37“Luzon,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luzon

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

39An independent city is a type of city12 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 region5 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city47 or independent component city48. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”35

40A component city is a type of city12 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city47. 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 municipality4. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”35

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

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

43“List of World Heritage Sites in the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_the_Philippines

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

45An international cultural heritage (ICH) is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill, as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces that are considered by UNESCO to be part of a place’s cultural heritage. The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was drafted in 2003 for its protection and promotion. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Intangible cultural heritage”.49

46“UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO_Intangible_Cultural_Heritage_Lists

47A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city12 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”.35 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?).

48An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city12 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 city47. 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”35

49“Intangible Cultural Heritage,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intangible_Cultural_Heritage

ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR

The famous and majestic 400-year old Balete tree is located in Barangay1 Campalanas, in the town of Lazi, in the island province2 of Siquijor3, in the Central Visayas Region (Region VII)of the Philippines. It is reputed to be the oldest and biggest tree in this province.

Some people believe that balete5 trees are mystical, possess spiritual powers, and are dwelling places for supernatural beings called “anito”6, like diwata7, kapre8 or tikbalang9. Local folklore reveals that sorcery rituals are performed inside the chambers formed by these sacred trees. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Balete tree”.10

For what it is worth, just in case you believe in such beings and feel uneasy about a particular new place you visit, elders used to tell me not to point my fingers or hands, especially towards old houses for fear that beings there might play tricks on me and/or join me when I leave the place. If by chance you feel odd thereafter, and you realize that you are going in circles and cannot leave a particular town or place, just remove your shirt/blouse and wear it, inside out. For severe cases, sprinkle salt on your vehicle and do not go straight to your house. Make “pagpag”11 by stopping anywhere, like a store, to leave such beings behind.

I recall my childhood days in New Manila, Quezon City, where we resided on a major street perpendicular to, and near, the famous street called Balete Drive, named after a huge balete5 tree that used to stand in the middle of that street. Since the 1950s, the tale of a white lady who hailed taxis at night further added to the haunted image of this street and was the subject of so many hair-raising stories. Well, come to think of it, I spent 30 years of my life there, and did not see any kind of “anito”6 or white lady.

My group did not go to Siquijor4 to experience the so-called sorcery side. We wanted to discover and appreciate its natural beauty all in one day, so all my posts regarding this island are about nature-tripping (its flora, beaches, etc.), a cultural stop (the Lazi Church), and the cheerful and hospitable Siquijodnons.

Now for my experience at Siquijor’s old enchanted balete5 tree and fish spa:

My group left Dumaguete City12 port early and took a ferry ride aboard Ocean Jet13, to the town of Larena, where the Siquijor3 port is located. We arrived after an hour, disembarked, walked to the main gate of the port, and negotiated the rental of an air-conditioned van for a day trip called Siquijor Coastal Tour for PHP3,500.

We chose Yane’s Adventures Van Services14 and were lucky to get a very cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.

Alternatively, you can hire a multicab15, tricycle16, or motorcycle to do the same service as a “special trip”, depending on your budget and the number of people with you. You can also opt to ride along with the locals, and pay the regular rate, but I guess this might be difficult at some stops and might create delays. Our group consisted of seven people, including a 7-year-old kid, so it was more convenient to hire a van.

Our driver, Jimmy, handed us a laminated map of Siquijor, showing all the possible destinations to be squeezed into our day tour. We opted to see only 6 major destinations of the island province, and this 400-year old tree cum fish spa was our second stop.

The property where this imposing, majestic tree is located is clean and well-maintained. It also has an open parking area fronting the main street of Siquijor3. Our driver parked in front of the souvenir shop.

1-entrance

2-parking-JimmyJimmy Bueno, our cheerful and expert driver in Siquijor (Yane’s Adventures Van Services)

3-facadeA restaurant is located at the 2nd level and assorted items are for sale at the ground floor

The shop offered a wide variety of pasalubong17 and goodies, from snacks and cold refreshments to ease your immediate hunger and thirst, to assorted local products like Siquijor3 t-shirts, key chains, bracelets, love potions, miniature voodoo dolls, mystic herbal wine, as well as other products like native bags and delicacies from nearby places.1-store-collage-ok

5-siquior-goodies-collage-okTake your pick – Love Potions, Voodoo Dolls, and Mystic Herbal Wine

To the right of the shop is the table with local government representatives, where the entrance fee of PHP10 is collected.6-entrance-fee-ok

When one walks further on, the huge quadricentennial tree can be accessed to the left; the nearby man-made fish spa area stands to its right.7-tree-fish-spa

It is quite surprising that this enchanting and enthralling tree did not look scary at all to me. People take turns taking pictures under this tree, and we patiently waited for our turn to do so. After seeing your solo or group pictures taken under this tree, you will realize how small you are in comparison. But you feel one with it. It is definitely not creepy at all!

I took several shots of the different parts of this captivating tree and, in my crazy and imaginative mind, I wondered what this old tree could possibly tell me, if it could talk. I just felt contented holding the tree’s trunk and other parts I could reach. I thanked it for giving me fresh oxygen, the same way it has given to the people of the barangayfor centuries. I thanked it too for allowing the spring water to flow beneath it – the water being essential to the relaxation tourists felt during their fish spa experience.8-tree collage

9-tree-collage-ok

Dearest city-dwelling and stressed Senior Citizens (SCs), you do not have to hug a tree. Trees are good for our health, and you just have to be near them to breathe the pure and fresh oxygen they emit and be energized with their presence as well.

Can you recall any of the following people-tree connections: Buddha’s enlightenment under a fig tree; Plato teaching his students under an olive tree; and, Isaac Newton forming his theory of gravity after observing an apple fall to the ground?

Well, what are you waiting for? Go to Siquijor3 and see this gigantic and enchanting balete5 tree!

Admittedly, I spent a longer time in the souvenir shop, so I was late in reaching the fish spa area. By that time, my companions were comfortably seated on the edge of the pool, enjoying the fish spa.

It was interesting to observe that a spring emanates from the base, or roots, of the baletetree, and flows into a cemented man-made pool, turned into a fish spa area, where willing tourists can remove their footwear and soak their feet in the flowing spring water, and where eager (and I guess, hungry) fish of different sizes take turns nibbling on their dead skin.

The design of the cemented pool was convenient for people to converse and sit side-by-side along the edges, with Dr. Fish nibbling on their feet. The pool is well-maintained, so you need not worry where to sit or place your footwear.

Is the practice of fish spa sanitary? I researched a bit worldwide, and found out that some countries ban them while others do not. The local Siquijor3 government is maintaining the area, and nothing happened to my companions,so I guess it is safe. Perhaps, this could be a future topic for my “Say, Say, Say” section in this blog.

I am no scientist, but I surmise that the small Dr. Fish are called garra rufa18 or nibble fish. These fish have no teeth, so they just suck the dead skin from submerged feet. However, I was surprised to see large tilapias19attacking the feet of my companions and decided not to soak my feet in the water. Why? Because tilapias have teeth. But I guess it was fine since they only felt a very gentle scratching on their feet. Talk about natural feet exfoliation!

10-fish-spa-tilapia

I was content taking pictures and videos of my companions’ dangling legs and soaked feet during their fish “pedicure”. My companions were so relaxed, and I zoomed in on the numerous fish nibbling on their feet to remove dead skin.

The large number of people relaxing and enjoying the fish spa only proves that the superstition about balete5 trees is not applicable in this case. And you know what? This is good for the tourism industry of this beautiful island province2.

The location of the enchanting balete5 tree and fish spa along the main street did not diminish the peace and relaxation of our stay.

By the way, there is a small stall that sells fresh coconut at the rightmost part of the fish spa area. A coconut was priced at PHP30. That would have been so refreshing indeed, but we had a hearty breakfast and still felt full!12-buko for sale

We only stayed for barely an hour – shopping for souvenirs and t-shirts, taking pictures with the old balete5 tree, and my companions soaking their feet for a fish spa. Besides, the place was getting a bit crowded, it was almost late morning, and we wanted to explore the other destinations of this island.

13-comfort roomThere is a a comfort room for males and females

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are personal and based on my experience in this province2.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJORNow You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS, and SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR

Writing this post reminded me of Thich Nhat Hanh (October 11, 1926, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist), reflecting on a leaf:

“One autumn day, I was in a park, absorbed in the contemplation of a very small but beautiful leaf, in the shape of a heart. Its color was almost red, and it was barely hanging on the branch, nearly ready to fall down. I spent a long time with it, and I asked the leaf a lot of questions …

I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, ‘No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard and to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I do not worry at all.’ As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, ‘I will see you again very soon.’

… That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf because it is not afraid – it knew nothing can be born and nothing can die.”20, 21

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to this enchanting balete tree and fish spa. 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 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.”22

2A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of aregion23. 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 andmunicipalities25 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays1, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”26  Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

3Siquijor is an island province2 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas27 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality25 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 Mindanao28. 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.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”29

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region23 located in the island group of Visayas27, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units30 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor3. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”31

5A 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 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.32

6An anito,or anitu, refers to ancestor spirits (veneration of guardian spirits of a family or ancestors), nature spirits (deities in charge of the forces of nature), and deities in the indigenous animistic religions of pre-colonial Philippines (900-1521), used in Luzon33. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Anito.”34

7diwata, in Philippine mythology, is the term for a deity or spirit, traditionally used in the Visayas24, Palawan, and Mindanao28 regions, the counterpart of the anito6, the term used in Luzon33. These spirits reside in large trees, such as acacia or balete5, and were understood as the guardian spirits of nature, casting blessings or curses upon those who brought benefits or harm to the forests and mountains. In modern times, the term “diwata” is sometimes loosely used to refer to a generic type of beings, like elves or fairies. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Diwata.”35

8kapre is a Philippine mythical creature that could be characterized as a 7-9 feet, black, hairy, muscular tree male giant or demon, wearing a bahag (loin cloth) and smoking a cigar or tobacco pipe. It is said to dwell in big trees like acacias, balete5, bamboo, and mango, usually seen sitting under those trees, with a strong smell that attracts human attention. It often wears a belt which makes it invisible to humans. It is believed that the kapre holds a magical white stone, a little smaller in size than a quail egg, and should any person happen to obtain this stone, the kapre could grant wishes. It is believed to be nocturnal and omnivorous but not necessarily evil. Kapres may be seen with big, red, glaring eyes at night, and may turn vengeful when the tree that it inhabits is cut down. A kapre can make contact with people to offer friendship, or if it is attracted to a woman. It can also play pranks on people, frequently making travelers become disoriented and lose their way in the mountains or woods, or even in their own familiar surroundings. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Kapre.”36

9tikbalang, or werehorse, is a creature of Philippine folklore said to lurk in dark, sparsely populated, foliage-overgrown areas in forests and mountains of the Philippines. It is a tall, bony humanoid creature with the head and hooves of a horse, and disproportionately long limbs, to the point that its knees reach above its head when it squats down.  It can be a ghost which assumes a variety of forms. In some versions, it is a transformation of an aborted fetus, sent to earth from limbo, or it can transform itself into human form or turn invisible for humans. It scares travelers, leads them astray, and plays tricks on them, such as making them return to an arbitrary path no matter how far they go or turn, counteracted by wearing one’s shirt inside out, or asking permission out loud to pass by or, not to produce too much noise while in the woods, in order not to offend, or disturb it. It is usually found standing at the foot of large trees, beneath bridges, in bamboo clumps or banana groves, and atop balete5 trees, looking around for anyone who dares to bestow malignancy on its kingdom’s territory. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tikbalang.”37

10 “Balete tree,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balete_tree

11Pagpag is a Filipino term with different meanings. For this post, it refers to the superstitious practice of never going directly to one’s home after attending a wake or funeral, to avoid the possibility of the soul of the deceased tagging home. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Pagpag.”38

12Dumaguete City is the capital and most populous city24 of the province2 of Negros Oriental39. 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.”40

13Ocean 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 destinationsin the Philippines – Bacolod (Negros Occidental), Camotes Island and Cebu City (Cebu), Dumaguete10 (Negros Oriental), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Ormoc (Leyte), Larena (Siquijor2) 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.”41 Visit its website: www.oceanjet.net/

14Yane’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.

15A multicab is a small, lightweight and narrow truck in the Philippines that is usually used as public transport, with a fixed route, or hired for a special trip, ideal to navigate through narrow streets. It has a seating capacity for 11 to 13 persons. Smaller versions can seat less than 11 and typically have three-cylinder engines. It is similar to a jeepney42 but has a cleaner and less noisy engine. It is typically assembled in a factory in the Philippines, with surplus parts from Japan and South Korea.The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Multicab.”43

16A tricycle, or motorized tricycle, is an indigenous form of the auto rickshaw, and is a common means of public or private transportation, especially in small towns and cities in the rural areas of the Philippines. It can ply a set route, or be for-hire like a taxi, and can be painted colorfully like a jeepney42. It is built in a variety of styles, which differ from city to city, and usually made locally by building a sidecar, and affixing it to an imported motorcycle. Usually, both the motorcycle and sidecar are covered, but not always by the same roof, and can be completely enclosed in heavy plastic covering in rainy weather. A passenger tricycle can accommodate 4 to 6 passengers, or more, excluding the driver. Goods can be placed at the back or on the roof. One or two passengers can sit behind the driver, while several more can sit in the sidecar, depending on the design. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tricycle.”44

17 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.

18Garra rufa, red garra, doctor fish or nibble fish, is a small species of cyprinid fish that is native to rivers, streams, ponds and lakes in Anatolia and the West Asian regions. When this fish forages sloughed dead skin, they seek food, which in the wild consists of periphyton, a complex mixture of algae, cyanobacteria, heterotropic microbes, and detritus that is attached to submerged surfaces in most aquatic ecosystems. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Garra rufa.”45

19Tilapia is a freshwater fish which inhabits shallow streams, ponds, riversand lakes. The Nile tilapia (O. niloticus) was one of the first fish species cultured. Today, all commercially important tilapia outside of Africa belong to the genus Oreochromis, and more than 90% of all commercially farmed tilapia outside of Africa are Nile tilapia. The scientific names of tilapia species have been revised a lot in the last 30 years, creating some confusion. The scientific name of the Nile tilapia has been given as Tilapia nilotica, Sarotherodonniloticus, and currently as Oreochromis niloticus. It is shaped much like a sunfish or crappie, but can easily be identified by an interrupted lateral line characteristic of the Cichlid family of fishes. It is laterally compressed and deep-bodied with long dorsal fins. The forward portion of the dorsal fin is heavily spined. Spines are also found in the pelvis and anal fins. There are usually vertical bars down the sides of fry, fingerlings, and sometimes, adults.46

20https://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2015/10/thich-nhat-hanh-on-an-autumn-leaf-life-death-continuation.html

21https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2015/09/09/people-and-trees-intimately-connected-through-ages#

22A 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.”47

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 provinces2, composed of cities and municipalities25 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays1. 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.”  See a r4elated post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

24A city is the local government unit30 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.”48 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

25A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)30, in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province2, subdivided into barangays1, 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.”49

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

27Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: 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 provinces2, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.50 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).

28Mindanao 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 the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). It is composed of 22 provinces2 and 33 cities24 (27 provinces and 33 cities, if associated islands are included). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Mindanao.”12 Mindanao is located in the southern part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Visayas (the middle part).

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

30A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces2 and independent cities52; component cities53 and municipalities25; and, barangays1, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.54

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

32https://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Balete

33Luzon is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It is the country’s largest (ranked 15th largest in the world) and most populated island, as well as its economical and political center. Luzon is composed of 8 regions23: Bicol, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Ilocos, MIMAROPA and the National Capital Region. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Luzon.”55 Luzon is located in the northern part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Visayas (the middle part) and Mindanao (the southern part of the country).

34“Anito,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anito

35“Diwata,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwata

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

37“Tikbalang,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikbalang

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

39Negros Oriental, Oriental Negros or Eastern Negros, is a province2 located in the Central Visayas Region (Region 7)4 of the Philippines. It occupies the southeastern half of the large island of Negros, and borders Negros Occidental, which comprises the northwestern half. It also includes Apo Island, a popular dive site for both local and foreign tourists. Its capital is Dumaguete City12, the seat of government and the most populous city of the province. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Negros Oriental”.56

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

41“Ocean Fast Ferries,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_Fast_Ferries

42A jeepney, or jeep, is the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines, a symbol of the country’s culture and art because of its colorful decorations. It was originally made from US military jeeps, left over from World War II. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Jeepney”.57

43“Multicab,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multicab

44“Tricycle,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricycle

45“Garra rufa,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garra_rufa

46https://thefishsite.com/articles/tilapia-life-history-and-biology

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

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

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

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

51“Mindanao,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindanao

52An 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 city54 or independent component city59. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”48

53A component city is a type of city24 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city54. It is under the jurisdiction of a province2. 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 municipality25. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”48

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

55“Luzon,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luzon

56“Negros Oriental,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negros_Oriental

57“Jeepney,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeepney

58A 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”.48 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines. See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

59An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city24 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province2 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 city58. 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”48

TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!

Cambugahay Falls is a famous tourist destination in the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines. It is a three-tiered waterfall that flows naturally into a lake. Said lake, I was told, apparently has healing powers.

This is the fifth stop (out of six) of our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour. At the port of Siquijor2, we rented an air-conditioned van owned by Yane’s Adventures Van Services5. We had a very friendly, cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.

And now, for my experience in this destination:

Cambugahay Falls can be accessed from the Siquijor Circumferential Road, in the town of Lazi6. It would be best to visit this place during weekdays and to go early to avoid the large number of people.

The parking area is on the opposite side of the street. The parking fee is PHP30 per vehicle.

Just cross the street from the parking area and you cannot miss the sign announcing Cambugahay Falls.

1-entrance-okEntrance, Cambugahay Falls – I hope the local tourism officials can improve its appearance and the local police can monitor groups to prevent the vandalism of signages

And guess what? There is no entrance fee to use this facility! You will then be offered the services of a guide or lifeguard, and it is up to you how much to give him as service fee. We opted to have one guide since we had a 7-year-old child with us. If you and your companions can swim, then you may not need avail of this service.

Thereafter, simply go down around 140 cemented steps made with large smooth stones. The downward trek is approximately 10 minutes, depending, dearest Senior Citizens, on the pacing of your steps. Be careful when you go down since there are no handrails. Hold on to a younger companion while going down the steps, just to be sure, dearest Seniors!2-stepsI strongly recommend that handrails be installed along the steps so that children, elders, and other persons who have difficulty going up and down these uneven steps can safely do so.

Your brief journey downwards will be rewarded by a captivating view of the third (bottom) level of the waterfalls, the biggest and deepest of all three levels.3-view-3rd levelThe third tier of Cambugahay Falls, with three diving spots (left of picture, middle with green slope, and right, with man seated)

These three swinging areas offer different heights to fall from, and you start to wonder, after seeing so many tourists doing a Tarzan-like jump, if you could also be brave enough to do so. If I were younger, I guess I would have jumped too!

This is where you will be amazed with the daring jumps of local and foreign tourists swinging from a long rope in three different parts of the falls.

6-cross bamboo-okYou just need to cross this narrow wooden bridgelike structure over the shallow, flowing water to get to the area where you can stay and later, decide to swim, Tarzan-dive, and/or proceed to the two other levels of this falls.

Then, live your best life at Cambugahay Falls, swing, swing some more, let go, and prepare for your splash! 

 

Most tourists just stay on this level of the falls. Some younger tourists repeatedly do the jump challenge, using different techniques of jumping. Some simply swim and enjoy the cool water.5-swim-ok

So, adventurous, younger, and more fit Seniors, why not take the Tarzan-Swing-Dive Challenge? My two younger male companions took the challenge, used different styles of jumps from the rope to the water, and made wonderful splashes on the cool, refreshing waters. I was told that if you pay PHP20, you can have unlimited jumps. Should you prefer not to jump, then, enjoy the view, swim, breathe in the fresh air, and take lots of pictures, just like what I did!7-3rd level

Of course, your best option, dearest Seniors, is to swim and enjoy the bluish, and oh so cool, spring water. For non-swimmers, you can rent a life vest for PHP50. We rented a life vest for the 7-year-old, and for the hesitant non-swimmer in our group. Bottomline: do not miss the chance to try the refreshing water.8-rental-life-vest-ok

There are makeshift bamboo tables, free of charge, where you can leave your belongings while you swim. It would be best to designate someone from your group to watch over your things.

9A-wooden tables-pls crop-okNotice the bamboo tablelike structures to the right of the life vest rental where people are seated? Those are the makeshift tables I mentioned which you could use to place your things while you swim or Tarzan-dive. Remember to place sunblock 30 minutes before sun exposure.

I noticed that there are no food stalls but saw a group of tourists being served food and drinks, delivered to their bamboo table. So, inquire about such services, if needed. However, I suggest you just bring your own snacks, since you will probably stay here for only 1-2 hours anyway, and then to find a decent restaurant in between stops.

Seniors, if you feel energetic and adventurous, why not proceed to the two higher tiers? These levels are more serene because fewer tourists go there. You can also swim in these two levels and I was told that the water is shallower in these two basins. It just so happened that I was not feeling well that day so I did not venture to see these two higher levels. If you did during your Siquijor tour, please tell me about it, ok?

There is no washroom, restroom, nor changing room in this place so some of us changed quickly behind a large bath towel (held by companions), while some opted to just exit the area without changing.

We only stayed here for about an hour, since it was also starting to get crowded and we had to proceed to our last, and final, destination – a beach called Salagdoong Beach7 – where we intended, anyway, to swim again.

A word of caution, dearest Seniors: leaving Cambugahay Falls entails that you climb all the way up to the entrance, about 10-15 minutes, on the same steps you used going down to the falls. Remember, there are no handrails, so pace yourself, or better still, hold on to a younger person. Take your time; you just swam for an hour so just rest after several steps. Accidents occur when you are in a hurry. Just tell you younger companions to be a bit patient and I am sure they will wait for you at the top.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are based on my personal experience in this province1.

You can read a related post about my Siquijor tour – SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJORGET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJORNow You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS and ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your visit to captivating Cambugahay Falls. Did you take the Tarzan-Swing-Dive Challenge? 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 region8. 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 cities9 and municipalities10 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”12 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Siquijor is an island province1 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality10 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.13

3Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: 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”.14 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).

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region8 located in the island group of Visayas3, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units15 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor2. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”16

5Yane’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.

6Lazi, formerly called Tigbawan, is a coastal municipality10 in the island province1 of Siquijor2, with 18 barangays11. 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 (a National Historical Landmark17, a National Cultural Treasure18, and included in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites19 under the Baroque20 Churches of the Philippines-Extension), the Convent in front of it (one of the largest convents built during the Spanish colonial era21), the 400-year-old enchanting balete tree with fish spa, and Cambugahay Falls (see above). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lazi, Siquijor”22 and “Siquijor”13. Visit this site for more information: http://www.phtourguide.com/municipality-of-lazi-in-siquijor/

7Salagdoong Beach is a popular tourist destination in the town of Maria, on the southeastern side of the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines. This beach is known for swimming and cliff diving. It has crystal clear waters and white sand shores.

8A 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 into provinces1, composed of cities9 and municipalities10 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11. 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.”16   See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

9A city is the local government unit15 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.”23 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

10A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)15, 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 barangays11, 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.”24

11A 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.”25

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

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

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

15A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities26; component cities27 and municipalities10; and, barangays11, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.28

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

17A 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”.29

18A 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 Arts30 and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines31, National Library of the Philippines32, and National Archives of the Philippines33. Such declarations are authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 200934 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines35 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”.36 The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Treasure”.37

19A 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”.38

20Baroque 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 stucco39, 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.40

21The 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 Revolution41. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898”.42

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

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

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

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

26An independent city is a type of city9 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 region8 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city43 or independent component city44. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”23

27A component city is a type of city9 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city43. 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 municipality10. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”23

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

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

30The 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 Philippines33, National Historical Commission of the Philippines45, National Library of the Philippines32, National Museum of the Philippines31, 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”.46 Visit its website: www.ncca.gov.ph

31The 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 Arts30. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Museum of the Philippines”.47 Visit its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

32The 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 located in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Library of the Philippines”.48 Visit its website: www.web.nlp.gov.ph

33The 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”.49 Visit its website: www.nationalarchives.gov.ph

34The 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”.50

35The Cultural Properties of the Philippines refers to the cultural properties listed by the National Commission for Culture and Arts30, National Historical Commission of the Philippines45, and the National Museum of the Philippines31 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”.51

 36www.primer.com.ph

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

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

39Stucco 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.52

40https://study.com/academy/lesson/italian-baroque-architecture-characteristics-examples.html

41The Philippine Revolution is the revolution that started on August 23, 1896, when the Spaniards discovered the Katipunan53, and ended on 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-Bato54 in 1897; the resumption of hostilities during the Spanish-American War55 in 1898; the establishment of the First Philippine Republic56; and, the outbreak of the Philippine-American War57 in 1899. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Philippine Revolution”.58

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

43A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city9 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”.23 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – I will place a link here).

44An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city9 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 city43. 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”23

45The 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”.59

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

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

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

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

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

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

52https://www.thebalancesmb.com/choose-right-stucco-mix-844655

53The 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”.60

54Pact 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”.61

55The 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 Paris62, signed on December 10, 1898. Said treaty 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”63 and “Treaty of Paris of 1898”64.

56The First Philippine Republic, or the Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines, established after the Philippine Revolution41 against the Spanish Empire (1896-1897) and the Spanish-American War55, 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”.65

57The Philippine-American War, the Philippine War, the Philippine Insurrection, or the Tagalog Insurgency, was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic56 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 Paris62, under which the US took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish-American War55. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Philippine-American War”.66

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

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

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

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

62The 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 War55. 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)”.64

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

64“Treaty of Paris,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Paris.

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

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

SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR

Salagdoong Beach is a public beach located in the town of Maria, on the southeastern side of the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines, known for cliff diving and swimming. I was told that the beach is part of a government-owned resort and managed by the Provincial Tourism Office.

It is easy to reach this destination because there is a sign along the main road that will lead you to it. It is best, and more practical, to avail of an island tour and negotiate the places you want to visit, like this beach. You also get to see a manmade molave5 forest before you reach this beach.

This beach was my group’s last stop during our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour (post to follow). 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.

And now, for my personal experience in Salagdoong Beach:

1BeFunky-1-collage-entrance                                Entrance of Salagdoong Beach from access road

The entrance fee is PHP25 per person (inclusive of a PHP10 environmental fee and PHP5 Red Cross fee) and the parking fee is PHP25.

1-BeFunky-2-collage-parking

Our driver, Jimmy, parked the van in a designated area near the individually-roofed tables lining the edge of the paved area by the easement leading to the beach below.1-BeFunky-collage-jimmy-ok

The well-maintained beach offers fine white sand shores and clear blue waters.1-BeFunky-collage-waters-ok

You can see several large inflated plastic objects, which, I guess, could be rented and enjoyed by you and your group.1-H-inflated-labelled-ok

I was also told that the resort offers rooms and cottages with complete amenities to interested guests.1-BeFunky-collage-housing-ok

If you walk onwards from the parking area, following the cemented border to the left, you will immediately see a blue painted slide at the far left, but during our visit (March 2019), it was under renovation and cannot be used.1-BeFunky-collage-slide-ok

You can head up the cemented steps near the slide till you reach a gazebo-like structure.1-BeFunky-collage-steps-ok

X-L-gazebo-1-ok

The cliff-diving area is to the far left. You will see two diving boards at different heights, with the left one placed several feet lower than the right one, more than 65 meters in height.1-BeFunky-collage-slides-ok

If you are brave enough, you dive and have your picture and video taken by your companion. As for me, I am not that brave, so I just took a picture of the white sand beach from that elevation.1-N-elevated pic-beach-1-ok

I was also told that there was a tourist who got a minor scratch at the lower cliff-diving area. He hit the rocks at the bottom because his jump was not far enough. So, if you, or one of your companions, decide to cliff-dive, ask if it is high tide, and be sure to jump as far as possible from the board since the water directly below is not that deep. Perhaps, start with the left board, and for more excitement, try the right board too!

For smokers, the rear part of the gazebo is the smoking area.

As you get down from the gazebo, you will see a restaurant-dining area, at about your 11 o’clock position. It was very hot afternoon, and I found my way to the restaurant, went over their menu, and decided to order shakes, a couple of clubhouse sandwiches, and popsicles for the young and young-at-hearts.1-BeFunky-collage-resto-ok

The service was slow because of the large volume of tourists, but the helpful and hospitable staff more than compensated for the delay. I was allowed to bring the orders to our shaded table overlooking the secluded beach. The fresh breeze was so nice to enjoy with our light snack. I saw to it that I returned the china and silverware we used.1-P-tables-labelled

A secluded, partially-shaded beach beckons near the cliff area. This is where local and foreign tourists sit on the sand to sunbathe, or wade in the shallow, clear waters.1-BeFunky-collage-beaches-ok

By the way, always secure your belongings by assigning a companion to watch over them while the rest of the group swim, sunbathe, snorkel, or cliff dive. A tourist lost her belongings during our visit.

We only stayed about an hour on this beach. We had to proceed back to the pier for our trip back to Dumaguete7 through Oceanjet8.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are based on my personal experience in this province1.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORGET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR, TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, 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 beautiful beach. 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 region9. 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 cities10 and municipalities11 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays12, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”13 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Siquijor is an island province1 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality11 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.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.14

3Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions9: 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”.15 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).

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region9 located in the island group of Visayas3, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units16 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor2. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”17

5Molave 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.”18

6Yane’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.

7Dumaguete is the capital city10 and main port of Negros Oriental, a province1 in Central Visayas (Region VII)4, 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”.19

8Ocean 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), Dumaguete7 (Negros Oriental), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Ormoc (Leyte), Larena (Siquijor2) 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.”20 Visit its website: www.oceanjet.net/

9A 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 municipalities11 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays12. 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.”17 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

10A city is the local government unit16 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.”21 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

11A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)16, 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 barangays12, 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

12A 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.”23

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

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

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

16A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities24; component cities25 and municipalities11; and, barangays12, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24An independent city is a type of city10 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province1so 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 region9 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city27or independent component city28. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”21

25A component city is a type of city10 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city27. 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 municipality11. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”21

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

27A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city10 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”.21 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – I will place a link here).

28An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city10 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 city27. 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”21

THE GREAT BUDDHA CAFÉ: A Great Dining Experience

LOCATION: 2nd Floor UBE Tower, 628 Ongpin Street, Binondo1, Manila 1006 Metro Manila2

The Great Buddha Café is a casual Chinese restaurant located in a three-storey building at the heart of Binondo1. Its menu is inspired by Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine and it is a good option for dining with family (including kids) and friends.

It is called Great Buddha because the (Eng Bee Tin) owners want guests to feel happy and contented – feelings that are embodied by the golden Buddha statue sitting inside the restaurant’s premises. Their use of quality ingredients ensures that customers get value for money.

Do you know what Eng Bee Tin means? Eng stands for “forever”, Bee stands for “beautiful” and Tin stands for “precious”. Eng Bee Tin in Hokkien literally means “ever beauty precious”.

Eng Bee Tin popularized ube3 hopia4 and eventually ventured into other pastries and other related products.

The company making this favorite and iconic hopia brand is helmed by Mr. Ube himself, Mr. Gerry Chua, a third- generation Chinese entrepreneur, whose grandfather, Chua Chiu Hong, came to the Philippines from Xiamen, China, and established a small stall on Nueva Street in 1912.5

Gerry always wears a violet t-shirt and matching eyeglasses. He is also known to have formed an active volunteer community firefighting organization.

A trial opening of The Great Buddha Café was held on from February 10 to 20, 2019, in time for the Chinese New Year. It then closed on February 21 for the finishing touches and reopened thereafter.

The Great Buddha Café is open 8am till 10pm daily, but, sorry, no reservations are accepted. It easily gets packed and parking is a problem so, either have a driver drop you off, come early to get a parking space, or just use Grab6 service to get there without any stress.

1-ground flIt offers Chinese dishes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. But wait! There’s more! Imagine stepping into a one-stop-shop building where the ground floor offers all your favorites Eng Bee Tin goodies – mooncakes7, hopias4, tikoy8, Chinese deli and bakery products, mochi9, noodles, etc.

1-eng bee tin goodies-ok

There is also an escalator which easily brings you to the second floor.1-2nd-fl-1-ok

1-2nd-fl-shop-okOn this floor, you not only feast your eyes on Chinese charms and decorations but also on native bags, fans, etc. in an open-style souvenir-shop display. I bought a beautiful rattan bag and a couple of lucky charms. Of course, this floor is also where you can dine and enjoy Chinese cuisine.

1-2nd-fl-buddha-okThe café looks so spacious and what will attract your attention on one side of the dining area is the huge golden buddha statue with two intricately carved wooden chairs on each side. Guests may take turns posing with the buddha and/or seated on the chair/s. This is indeed a welcome feeling of space compared to other restaurants in the area.There is also free wi-fi.

Coming soon would be the Eng Bee Tin museum on the third floor. I guess they will feature the history of this brand and the process of making their famous hopia4.

I read somewhere that this building has a wheelchair-accessible lift. I will check it out next time I visit.

Here is the menu:

1-menu-1-dimsum-ok                                                                          Dimsum10 

1-menu-2-claypot rice-ok                                                                         Claypot Rice 

1-menu-3-roastings-ok                                                                          Roastings 

1-menu-4-side orders-ok                                                                           Short Orders 

1-menu-5-noodles=congee-ok                                                              Noodles and Congee11 

1-menu-7-squids-ok                                           You can also order squids dishes

1-menu-8-siomai-frice-okFried Shrimp Wonton, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Chicken with Anchovies and Black Pepper Beef are also available

1-menu-6-desserts-drinks-ok.jpg                                                            Desserts and Drinks 

Sorry, no alcoholic beverages are offered.

And now, for my dining experience in this restaurant:

The senior citizens in my group, including myself, appreciated the automatic glass door and the Chinese deli and goodies shop on the ground floor (a must stop before leaving this building for “pasalubongs12”); the escalator to bring us to the second floor; the souvenir shop on the second floor, a few steps away from the escalator; and of course, the very spacious, well-lit, and air-conditioned dining area complete with its smiling and friendly service staff.

1-2nd-fl-dining-okI had lunch here with four other family members. The air-conditioning temperature was just right even when the dining area was full.

We ordered: Hainanese Chicken, Salt and Pepper Fried Squid, Pork Ribs Glazed with Honey Garlic Sauce, Beef Tendon Claypot Rice, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Xiao Long Bao13, Pork and Shrimp Siomai14, and Sun Cake ala Mode.

1-order-1-hainanese chixThe Hainanese Chicken (PHP600 for a whole chicken) was served hot. The chicken was so tender and flavorful and I really enjoyed it along with the Ginger Sauce, made of ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chicken broth. I like the idea that the sauce was portioned per person so we do not have to take turns getting from one large container.

1-order-2-squid-okThe Salt and Pepper Fried Squid (PHP340) was fried and seasoned just right. The chopped red and green pepper not only improved its appearance, but its overall taste as well.

1-order-3-pork ribsThe Pork Ribs Glazed with Honey Garlic Sauce (PHP320) was delightfully savory. The pork was very tender and crispy, and the flavorful honey-garlic glaze was so magical to my taste buds.

1-order-4-claypot riceThe Beef Tendon Claypot Rice (PHP260) was good for one generous serving. The tendon was very tender and the sauce tasted just right with the beef tendon and plain rice.

1-order-5-fried rice-okThe Yang Chow Fried Rice (PHP240) was served hot and the rice was pleasantly mixed with shrimps, meat, bits of scrambled egg and other colorful and flavorful ingredients. This was a welcome accompaniment for the main dishes we ordered.

1-order-6-xlb-okTheXiao Long Bao (XLB for short, PHP248 for 10 pieces) was served hot in a bamboo steamer basket. The skin is just right (not too thick, not too thin) and did not easily tear when lifted onto the Chinese soup spoon. The soup inside the dimsum10 was tasty and the meat filling was tender. We appreciated the portioned dipping sauce made of black vinegar and fresh ginger slivers.

The Pork and Shrimp Siomai14 (PHP128 for 4 pieces) was likewise served hot in a bamboo steamer basket. It was tender and very tasty, and we enjoyed it with a soy sauce-calamansi15-chili-garlic dip.

1-order-7-dessert-okI ordered the HK-Style Flaky Egg Tart (PHP58) but was told it was already sold out. Next time, I will come earlier and try it. Anyway, I settled for Sun Cake16 ala Mode. It was served with chocolate ice cream on top with chocolate syrup. I found it too sweet, so next time, I will request them not to place the chocolate syrup.

1-2nd-fl-dining-crew-okThe dining room employees were all very accommodating and efficient. Dishes were served at the right temperature and pace.

You can also request the waiter to buy your favorite milk tea17 at a nearby store. Now that is what I call SERVICE!

1-order-sauces-dips-okAccompanying sauces/dips were given to each person which we really appreciated. Oh, you can also ask for more, just in case you are partial to them, like the ginger sauce for the Hainanese Chicken.

Cash is the only form of payment accepted.

The restrooms are on the third floor, a bit far from the second-floor dining area, especially for senior citizens, but are very well maintained. Both the men’s and ladies’ restrooms smell good and are very clean, with automatic faucets and well-supplied soap and toilet paper.

The escalator from the second floor to the ground floor was much appreciated after our meal, and prior to a much-awaited stop to shop at the ground floor to buy “pasalubongs”12.

We will definitely come back for more and even try other food/beverage items.

Contact information: Telephone Numbers (02) 288 8888, 288 8881 local 129, and 241 9999; Instagram @greatbuddhacafe and @loveengbeetin

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. 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.  Tohsiah! (“Many thanks!” in Hokkien)

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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:

1Binondo 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 the hub of Chinese commerce, according to the Wikipedia page “Binondo”.18

2Metro Manila is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975. It is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Metro Manila”.19

3Ube is the Filipino term for purple yam (Dioscoreaalata). It is a kind of vividly violet to bright lavender colored yam or tuberous root vegetable, with origins in the Asian tropics. It is also called greater yam. It is used in a variety of desserts as well as a flavoring for ice cream, milk, and a variety of pastries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dioscorea alata”.20

4Hopia is the Filipino term for bakpia, a popular, inexpensive, Philippine and Indonesian bean-filled mooncake7-like pastry, originally introduced by Fujianese immigrants in these countries’ urban centers during the turn of the 20th century. It is also a favored gift for families, relatives and friends. The flaky type uses Chinese puff pastry while the cake-dough type uses a soft cookie-dough similar to Japanese bean cakes. There are four traditional and popular fillings: mung bean (called “mongo” in Filipino), azuki (red mongo), purple yam (called “ube” in Filipino), and pork. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Bakpia”.21

5https://www.manilatimes.net/mr-ubes-quest-sweet-success/346473/

6Grab is a private car for hire service provider.

7A mooncake is a Chinese baked pastry, traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, held late September to early October, with a full moon. It is typically round, with a rich thick filling, usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste, surrounded by a 2-3 mm thin crust, and may contain 1-2 yolks from salted duck eggs in its center, according to Wikipedia page “List of Chinese bakery products”.22 It is usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea. It is offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. It is also customary for businessmen or families to give mooncakes to clients or relatives as presents. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mooncake”.23

8Tikoy is the Filipino term for niangao or Chinese New Year’s cake, originally from China, and widely consumed in the Philippines. It is eaten all year round but is considered good luck to eat it during Chinese New Year (on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, i.e., between January 21 and February 20) and traditionally during Duanwu Festival (held on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, i..e, between the end of May till mid-June). This sticky rice cake is usually sliced, dipped or coated with beaten egg, fried until crispy but chewy inside, and enjoyed among all members of the family for closeness or unity, due to its sticky nature since it is made from glutinous rice flour. It is sweetened with brown sugar, giving it a dark yellow to light brown color, often prepared with different flavors. It also means “raising oneself taller in each coming year,” symbolizing a higher position, higher income, the growth of children, and generally, the promise of a better year. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Nian gao”.24

9Mochi is a chewy Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grained japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. It is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year (held December 31/January 1 till January 4), and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. In Japan, it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mochi”.25

10Dimsum refers to fully cooked, ready-to-serve, small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. The term literally means “heart’s delight” or “touch heart”. They are usually served with tea and together, form a full tea brunch. In some Cantonese teahouses, carts with dimsum are served around the restaurant. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dimsum”.26

11Congee, or conjee, is a type of thick, Chinese rice porridge or gruel, popular in many Asian countries. It can be eaten plain, served with side dishes. Meat, fish and flavorings can be added. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its preparation. Culture also often dictates the way congee is cooked and eaten. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Congee”.27

12 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.

13Xiao long bao (XLB), literally “small basket buns”, are steamed dumplings or buns, named after Xiaolong, the small bamboo steaming baskets they were traditionally steamed in. It is a kind of tang bao (“soup bun”) or guantang bao (“soup-filled bun”). This soup dumpling is served piping hot and has a delicate skin that encases a pork-based filling and a gelatinized meat broth created by wrapping solid meat aspic inside the skin. During steaming, the broth liquefies, poaching the pork in a rich, savory soup. As the dumpling cools, the broth solidifies and the skin hardens, so eat this quickly but carefully. How? Place your Chinese soup spoon close to the dumpling. Grab the dumpling close to the knot with your chopsticks, and gently lift it from the steamer. If the dumpling sticks to the bottom of the steamer, peel it off slowly; do not tug so as not to rupture the skin. Remember, you want to savor the soup intact and inside the skin. Do not put the whole, hot dumpling in your mouth because it might be too hot, scald you, and cause you pain. You need to let the steam out and let it cool for a few seconds. In a fine dining restaurant, you could be given a big spoon so you can take a smaller bite along the side. The broth then drains into the spoon and you can decently sip it. In regular Chinese restaurants, you can nip off the top of the dumpling, or nibble off a piece of the skin on the side of the dough ring using your front teeth, pause to give it a few moments to cool, and savor the rich broth by sucking the juice directly out of the skin. You can then easily devour the rest of the dumpling in one slurp. You just need a little amount of the dipping sauce made of black vinegar and fresh ginger slivers. You have 4 options: you can put the sauce in your empty spoon before scooping up the dumpling; you can dip the dumpling in the sauce before putting it in your spoon; you can place the dumpling in your spoon then drizzle the vinegar over it; or, you can add the sauce to the drained dumpling after you have slurped all the broth out.28, 29, 30

14Siomai is a traditional Chinese dumpling, usually served hot as a popular snack item in the Philippines. It is usually made of seasoned ground pork with bits of shrimp, mushrooms, and other preferred ingredients/seasonings.

15Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient for siomai14 and lugao31.

16Sun Cake is a round Taiwanese dessert with a flaky crust and filled with condensed malt sugar. It is usually sold in special gift boxes as souvenirs for visitors. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Suncake (Taiwan)”.32

17Milk tea is a Hong Kong-style tea drink made of black tea, sweetened with sweet evaporated milk21 or condensed milk, usually part of lunch in Hong Kong tea culture, according to the Wikipedia page “Hong Kong-style milk tea”.33

18“Binondo,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo

19“Metro Manila,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Manila

20“Dioscorea alata,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioscorea_alata

21“Bakpia,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakpia

22“List of Chinese bakery products,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_bakery_products

23“Mooncake,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mooncake

24“Nian gao,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nian_gao

25“Mochi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochi

26“Dimsum,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimsum

27“Congee,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congee

28https://thetakeout.com

29https://www.thrillist.com

30“Xiaolongbao,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao

31Lugao is the Tagalog term for a slightly thick congee11, seasoned, and boiled with ginger, onion and garlic. The stock depends on the desired taste/topping: ground pork, chicken, fish, liver, kidney, tripe, with a hard-boiled egg, or just served plain. It could be garnished with chopped green onions and toasted garlic, and served with fresh calamansi15, fish sauce and pepper.

32“Suncake (Taiwan),” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suncake_(Taiwan)

33“Hong Kong-style milk tea,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong-style_milk_tea.