Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Manila: Makati skyline at night

This is the view from one of my favorite hangouts, the Ritz penthouse apartment of my brod. I was there last Sunday for a frat party. And again on Wednesday, the night before the Peninsula takeover, for another frat event. The second photo was snatched from Bikoy. Hehe!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pampanga: Another Pampanga adventure

I attended another event in Pampanga today. Hausland launched Fiesta Homes, their low-cost housing company. The guest of honor was none other than Vice-President Noli de Castro. Of course, Among Ed was there too.

After the event, I took our brod Lindolf around Pampanga. We drove around the San Fernando Heritage District and dropped by the half-buried Bacolor Church before returning to Angeles City via the Megadike Road. We had to rush since we had to catch an event in Manila in the evening that's why we missed Betis.

Dinner was at Red Sea in Fields Avenue with mint-flavored shisha to match! There are just so many choices in Fields Avenue, it would take you days to try out all the good restaurants.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Manila: Abe Restaurant turns one!

I was lucky to be invited by Larry Cruz to the first anniversary celebration of Abe Restaurant in Serendra. Named after his father, Emilio "Abe" Aguilar Cruz, a diplomat, artist, bon vivant and gastronome of his generation, the restaurant serves a wide variety of Kapampangan favorites.

Guest of honor that night was none other than Gov. Ed Panlilio who was an instant celebrity as soon as he arrived in Serendra since passersby kept on requesting to have their picture taken with him. I did too! Hehe! Here's a photo with him and my brod, PR executive Danny Gozo. As always, the food was great and plentiful!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Baguio: Baguio Country Club's famous raisin bread

When family and friends hear you're on your way to Baguio Country Club, one pasalubong request stands out: raisin bread! The next day, we had breakfast in the Raisin Bread Shop of the BCC. And of course, I bought their signature raisin bread and banana bread to take home.

Don't miss out on their equally famous blueberry muffins among many other muffins. I'm sure their cakes are equally mouth-watering. In fact, the cake display case beckons to every customer who enters. But I had enough sugar for the morning. Also available in the bread shop are deli sausages and cheeses among many other products.

I had wanted to stay an extra night but I had to rush to an evening meeting in Makati. So that ends my 3 weeks of non-stop travel. It's back to school. In a way, it's time for a vacation from my vacation. Hahaha!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Baguio: Old Baguio charm at the Baguio Country Club

There are still a few patches of serene and picturesque areas amidst the urban chaos of Baguio City. And the Baguio Country Club (BCC) is most definitely one of those remnants of Baguio City's old charm. It was a great opportunity for me to relax after a tight schedule the last two weeks.

As soon as I arrived in Baguio, I went straight to the BCC since I wanted to rest before my cousin's wedding. I had a late lunch at the veranda and chatted with my relatives who were also billeted there. Then it was a power nap before proceeding to the church.

The reception was at the ballroom of the BCC. The food was great! But I had to eat in moderation. Sigh! Anyway, I woke up late the next day since I didn't have any sleep the night before.

After lunch at the veranda, it was time for some recreational activities at the club's many facilities. I was toured around the golf course on a golf cart by the facilities manager. Then we passed by their new driving range and golf academy. It's an unusual driving range since it isn't flat. This is so that you could familiarize yourself with the terrain of the BCC golf course. And yes, I was given lessons at the golf academy. Looks like I'll try that more often.

Later in the evening, I went bowling at the bowling alley at the basement. Then I met up with my brod Jaysie at the veranda for dinner. Then I went back to the driving range for more practice shots. Then went back to the bowling alley, this time with my cousins, Carlo and Michelle for more frames. I was definitely maximizing my stay at the BCC. Haha! If I only knew there was a heated pool and jacuzzi, I would have brought some swimming gear. Anyway, after all those activities, it was off to bed for me.

Here is a photo from Carlo and Michelle's wedding reception at the ballroom of the Baguio Country Club...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Benguet: The waterfalls along Kennon Road

Finally, a trip I can really call a vacation! I drove up to Baguio a few hours after I had arrived from Iloilo City. I was rushing up to attend the wedding of my cousin at the Baguio Country Club.

The trip up Kennon Road was very refreshing. The views were so picturesque and it was only now that I noticed there were so many waterfalls. So I stopped several times to take photos of them. Two of them are quite popular namely Bridal Veil Falls and Colorado Falls. In fact, you could actually swim in Colorado Falls as the water is very clear and there are basic facilities in the area.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Iloilo & Antique: Church overload in Iloilo and Antique

The day after the conference, we visited the towns of Southern Iloilo and Antique, my 59th province. From the hotel, we took a van and stopped by the towns of Tigbauan and Guimbal, which I was not able to visit during my previous visit, to check out their churches. We then proceeded to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Miag-ao Church and the cemetery chapel, also in the same town.

In the next town was a National Cultural Treasure, the San Joaquin Church. But equally impressive was the well-preserved cemetery which has maintained its old and uncrowded look.

From there, we drove down to Antique. But we stopped over first at the junction point called Tiolas to have lunch. I got myself an order of batchoy. From there, we took the road less traveled to the southernmost point of Panay Island, the town of Anini-y.

The Anini-y Church was very much intact and I hope that it is declared a National Cultural Treasure soon. It was most definitely worth the visit.

Our companions had to drive back to Iloilo City since they were leaving that night, but Archt. Richard Bautista and myself opted to stay behind to continue further up north to visit the other towns of Antique. Transportation was scarce and we had to wait for 30 minutes for the next jeep to arrive. Our next stop was the town of Hamtic since the cemetery chapel there was quite intact.

From Hamtic, we took another jeep to the capital of Antique, San Jose de Buenavista. After taking photos around the Antique Capitol, we rushed to get a jeep to Patnongon to check out more heritage structures there. Although in ruins, the church, casa real and an old bridge are still standing and I hope it remains that way. We had to rush back to San Jose to try to get a bus back to Iloilo City. If we got stranded in Antique, we were prepared to stay for the night. But good thing we were able to find a bus back and got back to Iloilo City.

The next day, it was raining hard so I was too lazy to get up. Our plan was to go around Central Iloilo. But we decided to continue our church and cemetery tour since it looked like the weather was improving.

From the hotel, we took a cab to La Paz for lunch. Where else to try batchoy than where it was born! We ate at Deco's. From there, we took a jeep to Jaro, where we boarded another jeep to Cabatuan. We got off at the cemetery a few kilometers from town. The walls and chapel was still intact.

We then took a tricycle to the town proper. The church was gargantuan with two exaggeratedly large belfries on either side of the facade. Its stone retablo is said to be the tallest in Iloilo after the Oton Church was destroyed during the 1948 earthquake.

From Cabatuan, we took another jeep to Janiuay. After visiting the ruins of the church, we took a tricycle to the cemetery. I've seen photos of this all the time but was quite disappointed when I got there. It was quite neglected. To me, the best cemetery I visited is the one in San Joaquin which I heard was recently restored.

From Janiuay, we took a jeep to Pototan and transferred to another jeep to Dingle to visit the church. Good thing there was English Mass.

We were planning to visit Duenas but since we had a flight to catch, we took a jeep straight to Iloilo City. They sure know how to stuff the jeepney! There were three passengers in front plus the driver, thirteen on either side, plus about eight in the middle, and even some holding on outside!

In Iloilo City, I took some photos in Jaro before we proceeded for a quick dinner in one of the chicken inasal restaurants. It was then a mad rush to the airport and we got there just in time since I got my favorite front row seat. Hehe!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Manifesto for Heritage Conservation in Philippine Towns and Cities

Straight from Boracay, I proceeded to the Sarabia Manor Hotel to check-in and wait for the vehicles from City Hall to pass by for me. We were off to the airport to meet the other members of the Heritage Conservation Society who arrived yesterday. And we went there in style, breezing through Iloilo's rush hour traffic with four motorcycle escorts. Hehe!

As soon as they arrived (their flight was two hours delayed), we went straight to Robinsons for the Opening Cocktails of the 2nd Philippine Towns and Cities Seminar hosted by Mayor Jerry Trenas. The night wasn't over since after that, I went to Smallville to meet up with the Ateneo alumni in Iloilo and my SSEAYP batchmate Councilor Winwin Sanchez.

Today, we had the seminar at the Sarabia Manor Hotel. I was emcee for the day. Here is the manifesto we drafted at the end of the seminar. We hope each LGU would adopt this as a provincial, city or municipal resolution:

Manifesto for Heritage Conservation
in Philippine Towns and Cities

The 1987 Constitution (Sections 14, 15, and 16, Article XIV) declares that the State shall foster the preservation, enrichment, and dynamic evolution of a Filipino culture based on the principle of unity in diversity in a climate of free artistic and intellectual expression. It shaIl conserve, promote and popularize the nation's historical and cultural heritage and resources, as well as artistic creations. Further, all the country's artistic and historic wealth constitutes the cultural treasure of the nation and shall be under the protection of the State, which may regulate its disposition.

In the pursuit of heritage conservation as a strategy for maintaining Filipino identity, we, the participants of the 2nd Towns and Cities Seminar in Iloilo City assembled shall pursue the following objectives:

1) Protect, preserve, conserve and promote the nation's built heritage resources in our localities;
2) Establish and strengthen national and local cultural institutions;
3) Vigilantly implement national and local laws on the protection of heritage;
4) Integrate heritage conservation of built heritage and cultural sites and landscapes in all the master development plans and zoning ordinances;
5) Implement safeguards to protect local heritage by creating heritage zones and declaring heritage sites at the provincial, city, municipal and barangay levels through local ordinances and resolutions;
6) Increase heritage awareness among the youth by including preservation of heritage and local history and culture in the curriculum;
7) Maintain the appearance of streets, parks, monuments, buildings, natural bodies of water, canals, paths and barangays within heritage zones;
8) Promote the adaptive re-use of built heritage property to generate economic activity that will ensure sustainability;
9) Document and sustain all socio-cultural practices such as traditional celebrations, historical events, and the revival of customs that are unique to our localities; and
10) Expand the concept of heritage to include knowledge and collective memory, situating the study of heritage within a broad time frame connecting the distant past to the present, and a vision of the future.

2nd Seminar on Philippine Towns and Cities
Iloilo City, 9 November 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Boracay: Hello Boracay!

It was a spur of the moment decision. I was sporting a fever and a sore throat in the morning so I wasn't able to wake-up as early as planned. So I missed the early morning bus to Kalibo. I was thinking of exploring Aklan when I decided, what the heck, I'm on a bus that goes to Caticlan anyway, so why not ride until the last stop. So I did and I finally set foot on Boracay!

At the ferry terminal, several fees were levied including a PHP50 environmental fee, PHP20 Caticlan Terminal Fee and PHP19.50 for the ferry ride from Caticlan to Cabgan in Boracay. It was just a few minutes and I was there in no time. I had booked a hotel with the help of the tourism office in the terminal. Since I didn't want to spend much, I got a room in a place called Villa de Oro in between Boat Station 2 & 3. For a non-aircon room, I spent PHP800 plus an 8% credit card surcharge (which I know shouldn't be but what the heck).

I had my photo taken with one of the Boracay sandcastles which are done by enterprising locals. After settling down, I went for a swim while enjoying the Boracay sunset. I had dinner in the resort and then walked all the way to Station 1 to check out the night scene. There weren't that many people since it was a weekday and the sembreak was already over. It was amusing seeing ATM machines and a Smart Wireless Center amongst the numerous bars, restaurants and resorts in this world-famous white sand beach.

I decided to sleep early since I still wasn't feeling well but was roused later in the evening by my sore throat. Since I was hungry, I decided to go for a snack and settled for a burger and fries. There are so many establishments open 24 hours and every possible need you could think of is conveniently available on this beach.

The next day, I had to leave early to catch the opening cocktails of the 2nd Seminar on Philippine Towns and Cities in Iloilo City. I made a brief stop in Kalibo to check out the heritage structures then it was off to Iloilo City. More photos in Multiply.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Iloilo: Seafood binge in Breakthrough Restaurant, Iloilo City

I'm in Iloilo City again. I arrived at the new Iloilo Airport this afternoon from Cebu. Bernard met up with me there and we took a cab to the city proper. I wasn't feeling that well so after a brief stopover at the old Iloilo City Hall which is now part of UP Visayas, I went back to the hotel and took a nap.

In the evening, Isa Silva and family took me to Breakthrough Restaurant in the Arevalo District for dinner. I'm not that fond of seafoods but it was a seafood binge for me. We had abalone sashimi, talaba and the pricey diwal shells for dinner among others. Everything is fresh and you can catch your dinner yourself. The restaurant is also by the beach so the breeze adds to the ambiance. After dinner, we had some dessert in Smallville.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cebu: More heritage in Cebu City

I've already seen the major attractions of Cebu City before. So this time, we went around looking for old houses. Arnold first took me to the house of President Sergio Osmena which was bought by CAP. Sadly, they built a building right smack beside it ruining the proportion of open space around it. On one hand, I laud CAP for preserving old structures and opening them as free museums to the public. But on the other hand, they were very ill-advised with renovations and additions to the structures.

We then drove around the Sepulvida Street and Ramos areas since there are a number of colonial houses there. Among the places we checked out was the Archbishop's Palace and the Borromeo House. We also dropped by Parian to check out the Yap-Sandiego House and Casa Gorordo, a wonderful house museum restored by the Aboitiz Foundation.

Lunch was at a restored residence called Mooon Cafe. This was a wonderful example of adaptive reuse of a heritage structure. Many of the items in the menu are Mexican-inspired. For lunch, I had nachos and a burrito.

In the afternoon, we visited some institutional buildings. I have seen the Cebu Capitol from the outside, but it was my first time to enter. And lo and behold, there was a grand ballroom inside! Wow! At least this elegant feature of the building is still intact. Although there are layers of the usual kitsch decor and fixings typical of government offices, there is still hope if Governor Gwen Garcia has the interiors restored properly just like in Pangasinan.

From the capitol, we walked to the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, another heritage government building.

For dinner, I met up with my Cebu-based brods at Cafe Laguna in Ayala Center. Tomorrow, I take a flight to Iloilo.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cebu: Church heritage museums in Cebu City

I'm back in Cebu City to jump-start the HCS Youth - Cebu Chapter. Indeed, young people are taking the lead in the campaign to preserve our national heritage. It was a morning flight so I had the afternoon to go around. Our youth chapter president in Cebu, Arnold Sancover, met up with me at my hotel and we dropped by the Cathedral Museum of Cebu which is under restoration. The damage that had been inflicted on the old convent from years of misinformed improvements was slowly being erased with proper restoration. On top of things is Cebu-based restoration architect Melva Java.

At the museum, we were welcomed by Trizer Dale Mansueto of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church. He will be responsible for organizing a chapter of HCS Youth in the University of San Carlos.

We then proceeded to the museum of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. While there, I noticed several ladies wearing white blouses and yellow skirts selling candles to churchgoers. It turns out, if you buy candles from them, as part of the service, they will dance and chant a prayer for you to the Sto. Nino before handing the candles over to you. So I bought some and whispered my petition to the lady who in turn started chanting a personalized prayer for me while dancing. After the prayer, she handed the candles over to me so that I could light them in a designated area outside the gates of the basilica.

Anyway, I didn't stay up late and I returned to my hotel to get some rest since just like my Leyte trip the week before, I didn't get much sleep while waiting for my flight. Since my hotel is in the vicinity of Fuente Osmena, I took some night shots. It was a pity I was too tired to have dinner in the New Larsian.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pampanga: The Ulitmate Kapampangan Show-off!

Today, we offered our first tour offering, a high-end Pampanga food tour brought to you by Our Awesome Planet, Ivan About Town, Old Manila Walks and Manila Boy. Breakfast was at Everybody's Cafe where we had tsokolateng batirul and Imang Salud's ensaymadas, pindang damulag, longganiza among many others.

We visited the lantern factory of Rolan Quiambao which was abuzz with activity. Then it was a drive around the San Fernando heritage district before proceeding to the Betis and Bacolor Churches.

Lunch was at Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung. We spent four hours eating!!! Our next trip will be different and it's scheduled on December 15 with a special treat in the evening, the Giant Lantern Festival!

The Ulitmate Kapampangan Show-off!
On December 15, let's journey to the Central Luzon heartland as we immerse ourselves in things Kapampangan! From Baroque to betute, it's a fun-filled day as we poke around and get intimate with the very best of this province's cultural offerings. We'll gawk at the jewel-box of a church in Betis while wading through the half-buried town of Bacolor. We'll stuff ourselves silly with the best Kapampangan fare by one of the country's best known Pampango chefs! To it cap-off, we'll have front-row view of the most dazzling display of Kapampangan artistry - the Giant Lantern Festival of San Fernando! A tour screaming with Pampanga's pride! There are just 35 slots so book now by e-mailing

The Tour Experience: Betis Church, Bacolor Church, Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung, Pampanga Pasalubong Shops, Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) in San Fernando, and featuring our own version of the bento box for dinner: the Cabalento Box!!!
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