Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ultimate Beach Bus to Zambales & Pangasinan! Book now!

It's summer time! Let's frolic under the sizzling sun as we hop around three of the best beaches along the western coast of North Luzon! We'll boat around the iconic Hundred Islands and enjoy the white sands of Quezon Island. In Alaminos, we'll eat our way through their yummy longganisas then we troop towards the town of Bolinao, visiting its famous lighthouse while enjoying the sunset at Patar Beach. To cap it off, we'll drive down to Zambales to discover her best kept beach secrets: Anawangin Cove and Capones Island. Take a ride on the ultimate North Luzon beach bus experience!

And we're pulling all the stops! We're bringing a cook to Quezon Island for example to prepare a sumptuous lunch for you. You'll never go hungry during the whole tour. Ask those who've joined our Pampanga tours. And we'll also drop by some historic sites such as the Masinloc Church and the house of President Ramon Magsaysay in Zambales. What's more, we'll get to watch a classical concert at Casa San Miguel in Pundaquit. But the clincher here is that we'll be staying at the best hotels in town. And did we say we always have a lot of pleasant surprises?

The tour fee is PHP15,000 per person (we took out one night but it's still the same power-packed tour) inclusive of transportation, overnight accommodation at, Puerto del Sol (Bolinao) and Punta de Uian (San Antonio), boat rides to the Hundred Islands, Anawangin Cove and Capones Island, and meals. Limited slots available. For bookings and inquiries, e-mail us at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Longganisa Baguio (Derecado)

Baguio City also has different versions of garlicky (or mabawang) derecado longganisa. One Baguio longganisa derecado has no sugar and less fat.

Another version is also garlicky (or mabawang) but is sweetened with a little sugar.

Then there is the shortganiza version of the derecado. All these varieties are available at the Baguio City Market.

Main article: Longanizas of the Philippines

Longganisa Baguio (Hamonado)

There are several varieties of hamonado or sweet longganisa in Baguio City. There are the lean varieties which are for direct frying such as the one pictured above.

Another lean hamonado is what market vendors refer to as the Baguio Country Club longaniza since it is similar or comes from the same supplier as the one served there.

Then there are hamonado varieties laden with fat which need to be boiled first before frying such as the one pictured above.

Finally, the shortganiza version of the hamonado is also heavy of fat and needs to be boiled first before frying. All these hamonados are available at the Baguio City Market.

Main article: Longanizas of the Philippines

Friday, February 20, 2009

Longganisa at the Baguio City Market

The Baguio City Market has a variety of longganisas from Baguio, Vigan and Laoag. These include the Laoag derecado (salted garlic), Vigan derecado (with and without vinegar) and hamonado, and the Baguio derecado and hamonado which inlcudes versions for boiling (because of the amount of fat), straight frying (lean hamonado) and short links which they call shortganiza. These pork delights are sold in one area of the market together with the ultimate pork dish, lechon!

Main article: Longanizas of the Philippines

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Longganisa Alaminos

Longganisas from Alaminos, Pangasinan are unique because of the toothpicks they use to divide the segments. Each length has six pieces and is hung using a buli grass string. This longganisa would fall under the derecado garlicky (or mabawang) category. This was taken at the private market under Nepo Mall in Alaminos, Pangasinan.

Main article: Longanizas of the Philippines

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pangasinan: Tondol White Sand Beach in Anda, Pangasinan during high tide

Tondol White Sand Beach is arguably the best beach in Pangasinan. But when it's high tide, it doesn't impress much. Tondol is in Anda, Pangasinan. The junction to this island town is along the National Highway on the way to Bolinao. The island is quite large and the beach is located at the end of the island. So it's still a bit of a drive from the town proper.

On the way to the beach, you'll pass by some salt beds also in Brgy. Tondol. Here is a post about Tondol Beach during low tide. The pictures will speak for themselves. That's why make sure to check the time of low tide before you visit Tondol.

Part 1: Visita iglesia to Western Pangasinan churches
Part 2: Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan

Pangasinan: Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan

Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan is one of the iconic attractions of the Philippines. We've learned about it through our elementary text books and seen it extensively in our tourism campaigns. Ironically, I only got to visit it recently. But the visit, albeit short, was most definitely worth it.

Visiting the Hundred Islands is very simple. Just make your way to Barangay Lucap in Alaminos where boats are available. There are standard rates as well so no need to haggle. Just check with the dispatchers office as soon as you get there. You can do this as a day trip if you leave Manila early. But it's best to experience Hundred Islands by staying at least overnight.

Anyway, the boat will take you to Governor's Island where you can climb several steps to a view deck for the Hundred Islands. You can opt to swim there or proceed to Quezon Island where the white sand beach is much better or rent kayaks and snorkeling equipment. But if you want a beach all to yourself, you can ask the boat driver to take you to other islands with small beaches.

I actually enjoyed Quezon Island since there's a lot to do there. And if you get hungry, there are sari-sari stores as well. I had other beaches to visit that day so I was back in the mainland just in time for lunch. While you're in Alaminos, make sure to try their longganisa. The city also has a lot of ancestral homes and I really hope they preserve them.

Part 1: Visita iglesia to Western Pangasinan churches
Part 3: Tondol White Sand Beach in Anda, Pangasinan during high tide

Monday, February 16, 2009

Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines on the Cultural Heritage of the Catholic Church

The Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines,

Acting, on the part of the Holy See, in accordance with the declarations of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty and the relations between the Church and the civil society, as well as the norms of Canon Law, and, on the part of the Republic of the Philippines, with the principles of its Constitution and applicable laws,

Considering that the cultural heritage of the Catholic Church in the Philippines constitutes a very significant part of the cultural patrimony of the Nation;

Realizing the need for close cooperation between the Church and the State as regards the ecclesiastical cultural heritage;

Have agreed as follows:

Article I
The Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines, each within its competence, are committed to cooperate for the protection of the cultural heritage of the Catholic Church.

Article II
This cooperation includes the movable and immovable cultural heritage of artistic and historic significance, comprising the colonial churches declared as legally protected by the Republic, museums, archives and libraries, belonging to ecclesiastical institutions and organizations.

Article III
The two Parties shall cooperate for the conservation, appreciation and proper use of the cultural heritage mentioned in Article II.

Article IV
The Holy See, through the Apostolic Nunciature and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, and the Republic of the Philippines through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) shall together agree upon the provisions for the conservation, appreciation and proper use of the cultural heritage of artistic and historical significance owned by ecclesiastical institutions and organizations, harmonizing the implementation of Philippine legislation with the norms of Canon Law and the exigencies of the pastoral activity of the Church.

Article V
The Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines shall proceed by mutual accord to resolve any difficulties that should arise in the future concerning the interpretation or the implementation of the present Agreement.

Article VI
This Agreement requires ratification. It shall enter into force on the day of the exchange of the instruments of ratification.

Done in Manila on 17 April 2007, in two copies in Italian and English, both having equal force.

For the Holy See

For the Republic of the Philippines

(Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines on the Cultural Heritage of the Catholic Church entered into full force on 29 May 2008, following the exchange of the instruments of ratification between the Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pampanga: Birdwatching at the Candaba Bird Sanctuary

Birdwatching at the Candaba Bird Santuary has always been in my wish list. But to really appreciate the visit, you have to be with expert birders. And since it was a "weekend of everything that flies," we visited the Candaba Bird Sanctuary to do some birding!

To make sure the experience was even more enriching, we tagged along members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) together with their equipment to guide all of us around the place. It was Birdwatching 101 for all of us.

They introduced us to the different species of birds found at the reserve area in Simang, Candaba which is actually the property of the mayor. And with the special spotting scopes brought in by the club, we were able to see and appreciate the birds "up close." I'm definitely going back!

The only downside is when there are big groups, especially media groups, the local "managers" of the place would fire shots in the air to startle the birds so that they would put up a show for visitors. Great for photos but bad for the birds!

Media is to blame here since the photographers don't care if the birds get disturbed so long as they get a good shot for the papers. So those wonderful pictures you see in the newspapers most probably are a result of guns fired in the air, no thanks to impatient photographers who can't wait for the birds to do it naturally and at their own pace. Several shots were fired while we were there to the dismay of the WBCP members who were guiding us.

Anyway, to get there, it's advisable to exit at Pulilan since the roads are better. Make your way to the Baliuag (you'll pass by SM City Baliuag), and make a left under the flyover. You make a right when you see the Barangay Hall of Bahay Pari, Candaba. Below is a video I took while we were there.

Related entries
Wandering around the Candaba Bird Sanctuary
Sunset at the Candaba Swamp Reserve

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pampanga: 14th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (Day 3)

We found ourselves up and about early in the morning in time to catch the lift-off of the the hot air balloons at the 14th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark Freeport. Our tour group left Manila at 3 a.m. and got there before the crowds arrived.

Anyway, it wasn't as sunny as the first time I got to watch this event. But there were more unique balloons this year including one in the shape of an elephant and another in the shape of a Coke bottle.

Related entries
14th International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
Day 1 at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
Day 3 at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2008 in Clark Field, Pampanga

Are you going to the 12th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Zambales: Subic bats at Cubi Point

I've been driving around North Philippines like crazy the past week. While at the Subic Freeport, I made sure to check out the bats at Cubi Point. Years ago, they used to hang out at the top of Cubi near the hotels. But for some weird reason, they transferred along the main road in front of FedEx. So if you want to check them out too, just go to the FedEx building.

I have not seen them fly out before so I waited for them to wake up right after sunset. What a sight! Below is a video I took using my Sony Ericsson C905. When it gets darker, that's when it gets really exciting!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top day-trip destinations near Metro Manila

Here is a list of my favorite day-trip destinations near Metro Manila. With summer just around the corner, it's time to plan your trips!

Manila day trip - Anawangin Nagsasa Capones Zambales1. Beach hop in San Antonio, Zambales
Call them San Antonio's Big Five - Anawangin Cove, Camara Island, Capones Island, Nagsasa Cove, and Pundaquit! And you can reach all these great beaches from the jump-off point in Pundaquit. I most definitely enjoyed the surreal landscape of Anawangin. So remote it is that you need to hike several hours or take a pump boat to get to it. Nagsasa Cove is just as pristine!

Manila day trip - Taal Volcano2. Taal Volcano trek
You've always seen the Taal Volcano from Tagaytay City. Have you ever tried visiting the island itself and hike or ride a horse to the crater lake? This is a one day-trip option you can do together with a culinary tour of Tagaytay.

Manila day trip - Mount Pinatubo3. Mt. Pinatubo trek
All it takes is a drive to Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac to begin that breathtaking journey to Mount Pinatubo's crater lake. A one hour 4x4 ride, plus a one hour trek across some of the most unusual and unbelievable landscapes makes the journey there even more exciting. The crater lake of Mount Pinatubo is perfect for a swim especially when it is baby blue! It's easy to organize a visit through the Pinatubo Spa Town. And don't forget to get a massage after the trek!

Manila day trip - Corregidor4. Corregidor Island day-trip
As I mentioned, this is one of those day-trips taken for granted. Reliving the story of Corregidor is a very enriching experience. The Sun Cruises tour includes round-trip ferry transfers, buffet lunch and a guided tour around the island. You get to visit the various war memorials and the surviving gun batteries which formed part of the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays. You can also opt to stay for the night and explore the Malinta Tunnel in the evening and do a morning trek among the less-visited batteries the next day.

5. Road trip around Mount Banahaw
You've all heard about the Viaje del Sol route and the wonderful establishments along the way. But go the extra mile by completing the loop around Mt. Banahaw. Along the way, you can visit the seven lakes of San Pablo, Laguna. You'll pass by the grand Art Deco mansions of Sariaya and the magnificent churches of Tayabas and Majayjay, both National Cultural Treasures. Don't miss the Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan. Plus you can munch on Lucban's famous longaniza and pancit habhab. Slipper addicts will have a blast in Liliw, Laguna! You can stretch this trip another day by staying a night in Pagsanjan and doing the next suggested day-trip.

Manila day trip - Pagsanjan Falls6. Shooting the rapids in Pagsanjan
This one you should try at least once in your life. It was exciting and exhilarating. I personally enjoyed the raft ride that takes you right under the falls. So make sure you have extra clothes. The only catch is that the boatmen will pressure you to give hefty tips.

Manila day trip - Pampanga food7. Pampanga culinary adventure
You haven't been to Pampanga if you haven't savored its food, both local and international cuisine. San Fernando is home to Everybody's Cafe where everyday Kapampangan food is as exotic as it can get. Angeles City is the birthplace of sisig and make sure you taste the original at Aling Lucing's. At the Camalig, Kapampangan pizza is topped with longaniza, salted duck eggs, and pickle relish. And Fields Avenue near Clark brings you around the world with its international restaurants, my favorites being C' Italian Dining, Zapata's (Mexican), Subdelicious (American), Cottage Kitchen (Cajun/Creole), Red Sea (Lebanese), Hana-mi (Japanese)... the list is endless! Now obviously, you can't eat at all these places in one day since that would be gluttony! So why not stay another day?

8. Road trip around Laguna de Bay
We all know about the visita iglesia route which will take you to Pakil and Paete in Laguna, and Morong, Baras and Tanay in Rizal. But there's more! Make sure you also visit the heritage town of Pila, Laguna and stop over at Lumban to check out their wonderful pina cloth emroidery. Have you ever considered stopping over at Daranak and Batlag Falls in Tanay, Rizal? Well, you should! End the day with a sunset dinner high up on the ridge in Antipolo.

9. Intro dive in Batangas
Even if you don't have a license, you can still experience diving with the help of a dive master through an intro dive. And that's exactly what we did in Bauan, Batangas! It's a different world down there and all I could say is, "Wow!"

Manila day trip - Ipo Watershed10. Plant trees at the Ipo Watershed
Now this is travel with a cause. Just contact the UP Mountaineers to find out if you can join one of their reforestation trips to the Ipo Watershed. Any advocacy to preserve our cultural and natural heritage is close to my heart. Which is why we made a visit to the Ipo Watershed to support the advocacy of the UP Mountaineers to protect it!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pampanga: More slots opened for Hot Air Balloon Fiesta tour!

Due to public clamor, we added eight more slots to our Valentine's Day tour to the 14th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta! First eight to book and pay get the last slots. E-mail us at to book. As part of the tour, you'll have a sumptuous breakfast at C' Italian Dining, a hearty Kapampangan lunch at Abe's Farm and optional spa treatments at Nurture Spa. Click here for more information.

Ultimate Batanes Heritage Tour from March 21 to 24! Book Now!
Slots for our Batanes tour are going, going gone as well! Remember, we'll be staying for three nights at Fundacion Pacita, the hotel with the best views, and the only first class accommodation in Batanes! No other Batanes tour offers that and so much more! Click here for more information.

Corregidor Island: Battery Grubbs

Battery Grubbs is another of Corregidor's heavy seacoast emplacements one will get to visit on the regular guided island tour. Work for this battery was done from 1907 to 1911 at a cost $212,397.86. It had two 10-inch disappearing guns making the battery the only battery with 10-inch gun emplacements in the Manila Harbor Defenses. These were 1895M1 guns on Model 1901 Disappearing Carriages (#25/#14 and #22/#16) and were apparently never changed during the battery service life. It was named in honor of 1st Lt. Hayden Y. Grubbs, 6th U.S. Infantry, who died during the Philippine-American War in 1899.

Main article: Corregidor's artillery batteries
Related article: Corregidor Island day trip via Sun Crusies

Corregidor Island: Battery Hearn

Battery Hearn is another of the relatively intact Corregidor artillery batteries one visits during the regular island tour. Constructed from 1918 to 1921 at a cost of $148,105, Hearn and companion Battery Smith were the last major caliber sea coast artillery built on Corregidor before the Washington Disarmament Treaty of 1922.

Battery Hearn was part of Battery Smith (Battery Smith Gun No. 2) until 1937 when it was renamed Hearn in honor of Brigadier General Clint C. Hearn who commander the harbor defenses on Manila and Subic Bay in 1919.

It was armed with a 12-inch (305mm) gun model 1895A2, mounted on a Barbette Carriage Model 1917, which with a maximum firing elevation of 35 degrees, could fire a 1,000-pound (454.5kg) shell propelled by a 270-pound (122.7kg) separately loaded bagged charge to a range of 30,000 yards 17 miles or 7.4 km.

Main article: Corregidor's artillery batteries
Related article: Corregidor Island day trip via Sun Crusies

Friday, February 06, 2009

Corregidor Island: Battery Way

Battery Way is said to be the most intact of Corregidor's artillery batteries. And it's no surprise that it's one of the most visited and most photographed attractions on the island.

Construction for this battery began in 1904. It was completed in 1914 at a total cost of $112,969 and named in honor of 2nd Lt. Henry N. Way, 4th U.S. Artillery, who died in service in the Philippines in 1900.

Armed with four 12-inch (305mm) M1890 mortar carriages which were capable of lobbing a 1,000-pound (454.5kg) deck piercing shell or 700-pound (318kg) high explosive shell 14,610 yards (8.3 miles or 13.35 km) in any direction.

On May 6, the day Corregidor surrendered, Battery Way continued firing all morning. Only when the breech block of its last gun froze at 11 a.m., warped by the heat from constant firing, did it stop firing. It was the last of Corregidor's "concrete artillery" to cease fire before the surrender at 12 noon.

Main article: Corregidor's artillery batteries
Related article: Corregidor Island day trip via Sun Crusies

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Northbound Magazine, your free travel guide to North Philippines!

After several months in the making, the maiden issue of Northbound Magazine, a free quarterly travel guide to North Philippines (Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, the Cordilleras and Central Luzon), will be available in hotels, restaurants and information centers around the region beginning next week. This magazine is a publication of the North Philippines Visitors Bureau. You can download the online version from

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

South Africa: Love affair with Cape Town, South Africa

After one year, I finally have a second guest post. It's all about wonderful Cape Town, South Africa! And it's written by my college blockmate and kabarkada, Lia Andrea Ramos. Sounds familiar? Of course since she was a former Binibining Pilipinas-Universe and Miss Photogenic at the Miss Universe 2006 pageant! Li-an is now modeling in South Africa and loving it! Hope the E-1 gang gets to visit you there soon!

In my quest for an exotic destination, I found myself traveling for eighteen hours to a small city situated at the tip of Africa. I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on a beautiful, cool summer day in November. Summer in Cape Town runs from November until March. Yet experience taught me that Cape Town weather is unpredictable.

There are days when I go through the wet, the cold and the hot in one day. Windy times in Cape Town are intense, the strong southeasterly winds from the Atlantic can literally blow you away.

Kaapstad, Cape Town in Afrikaans, is the most popular tourist destination in South Africa because of its scenic landscape and good climate. Its tourism industry is quite impressive, with a fairly developed infrastructure to support it. It is not a surprise that it is an easy pick for Europeans as their regular summer paradise.

Cape Town, as locals say, will not escape its name. It is a city yet maintains that town-like characteristic of a laidback atmosphere. It could be the beaches and the mountains that surround it that enhance this vibe. Familiarity is easily achieved; and in a month’s time, you would probably have met most of Cape Town. What I love about it is that it is a melting-pot of the young and the old from all over the world. It is a city full of dreamers and lovers. Its cultural diversity and free-spirited environment makes every person’s experience of Cape Town a unique one.

As a nature lover, my love affair with Cape Town happened in an instant. The first thing that captured me was Table Mountain, the city landmark, a flat-topped mountain that stretches about 3 kilometers from side to side, flanked by Devil’s Peak to the east and Lion’s Head to the west. It is a dramatic backdrop of the entire Cape Town City Bowl. During the summer, the peak can be reached through a cable car. For the adventurous, the hike up to the peak is quite a rewarding challenge.

In my five-month stay in Cape Town, I resided in Camps Bay, a posh residential and commercial area close to the beach. Camps Bay is the most popular among locals and tourists alike. The Lion’s Head (it was named such because it looks like a lion), and the Twelve Apostles, a mountain with twelve peaks, form an imposing background to this setting.

Restaurants and bars are nestled right along the main road of Camps Bay where you can enjoy good food and refreshing cocktails. Popular spots include Caprice, Paranga, and The Grand. Sunsets at Camps Bay are breathtaking, sky painted with red, pink and orange. The only downside to this almost perfect setting is that water is icy cold and one can last only a few seconds or minutes in the sea.

For a less crowded setting, Clifton beaches, which is divided into four sections - Clifton 1, family beach; Clifton 2, models beach; Clifton 3, gay beach; and Clifton 4, mixed group - are right next to Camps Bay. Exquisite holiday houses with breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea can be found in this area.

Food is one of the reasons to come to Cape Town. You are in for one gastronomic experience! Because of its cosmopolitan nature, restaurants of different cuisine have sprawled all over town. African and local isiXhosa cuisine are served in trendy restaurants in the city center, such as Marco’s African Place, Mama Africa and Nyoni’s Kraal. My personal pick is Africa Café, for the interiors and varied food selection. The server, dressed in traditional African clothing and painted face, brings six small portions of different African dish at a time. After three sets, you can order a repeat of whatever your taste buds fancy. For a traditional Cape Malay meal, the historical Bo-Kaap area is the place to visit.

Wine is a staple in every dining experience in South Africa. The Cape region is home to six winelands, three of which I have visited. Constantia, about fifteen minutes away from the city, boasts of the some of the oldest wine estates and homesteads in the country, such as Groot Constantia, established in 1685. Stellenbosch, further away from Cape Town, is the oldest wine route established in South Africa and most popular one.

, first occupied by the French Huguenots, produces many of South Africa’s top wines. The French influence is evident in the town’s guest houses and side street cafes. Eight of the country’s top restaurants can be found in this town, apparent of French flair in culinary arts.

The safari is a must see while in Cape Town if you want a close encounter of the big five - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and cape buffalo. The term big five was coined by game hunters according to the level of difficulty in bagging them, due to their ferocity when cornered and shot at. Not for the faint-hearted, Cape Town offers quite a number of extreme sports to experience. You may go sand boarding and quad-biking in the sand dunes of Atlantis; kite surfing on Langebaan Lagoon or Bloubergstrand; paragliding off Signal Hill; bungy-jumping in Tsitsikama Nature Park, the highest bungy-jump point in the world; shark cage diving in Shark Alley; and skydiving to witness spectacular views of the city.

Cape Town is undeniably a premiere tourist destination for its extraordinary natural beauty and vibrant culture. It is however hounded with social and economic problems that can be rooted to its colonial past and troubled history. Breaking free from a long oppression from its colonizers, the city and its people has slowly evolved with the new freedom that they enjoy. Living in Cape Town and meeting its people have made me fall in love with a city of hope and incredible spirit.

Previous guest posts
Lomo in Paradise Island & Nassau, Bahamas

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Longaniza Cebu (Carmen)

Another sweet (or matamis) longaniza, this Cebu longaniza was being sold and grilled at a bus stopover in Carmen, Cebu.

Main article: Longanizas of the Philippines

Monday, February 02, 2009

Baguio: Panagbenga 2009 Calendar of Events

Panagbenga 2009 will be extra special this year as Baguio City celebrates its centennial year. So there's more than enough reasons to troop up to Baguio for this year's celebration. Here are some of the major events you should mark in your calendars:
  • February 14: - Fluvial Parade featuring Phantom on the Lake and La Divas, Burnham Lake
  • February 19-21: Legarda Rocks, Legarda Road
  • February 26-28: Abanao Nights, Abanao Street
  • February 28 (8a.m.): Grand Street Parade, Session Road to Baguio Athletic Bowl
  • March 1 (8 a.m.): Grand Float Parade, Session Road to Baguio Athletic Bowl
  • March 2-8: Session Road in Bloom, Session Road

Longaniza Cebu (Carcar)

These different versions of longaniza are sold at the Carcar Public Market. Sweet (or matamis) like many longanizas in the Visayas, these longanizas are simply different sizes of the same meat filling.

Main article: Longanizas of the Philippines

Batanes: Ultimate Batanes Heritage Tour from March 21 to 24! Book Now!

So much has been said and so much has been written about it. But the best way to really take in all the superlatives is really just to be there! This is Batanes province!

Let's journey through northernmost territory of our archipelago and get intimate with rugged beauty of these islands. We'll discover Basco, the charming seaside capital and explore beautiful Batan Island cruising along her stunning blue ocean-meets-green mountain scenery. Travel over to neighboring Sabtang Island and get acquainted to the unique Ivatan way of life visiting old villages, traditional stone houses, colonial churches and stunning ocean views. And to top it off, your home away from home is the best address on the island - Fundacion Pacita, on top of a hill with gorgeous island views!

The tour fee is PHP28,000 per person inclusive of airfare, transportation around Batanes, accommodation and all meals. We can only accommodate a maximum of 20 people for this tour. For bookings and inquiries, e-mail us at

Visit the Ultimate Philippines Tours website
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Joint Statement of the Heritage Conservation Society and ICOMOS Philippines on the Dingras Church

A call to arms and a sound of alarms! Once again, a historic structure in our country is threatened. What makes it even more alarming is that it happens in the same province, Ilocos Norte in almost the same period of time. First the planned demolition of the Laoag Central Elementary School, a perfectly usable, intact and beautiful example of 1920s education architecture in exchange for a mall, and now the proposed demolition of the centuries old façade of the Church of San José de Dingras to be replaced by what would most likely be a poor replica of the former.

What gives? Dingras is one of the most picturesque facades in the country not due to its Baroque grandeur, but because of its perfectly beautiful proportions, the patina of the ancient bricks and more importantly its enduring and eternal visage of a ruin. The church of Dingras like most colonial churches in the country experienced numerous re-buildings during its course in history, and like similar structures in Ilocos have conflicting information. An earlier structure, presumably made of light materials was built before 1620, which was damaged during the earthquake of November 11 of the same year. Another conflicting report this time by Captain Don Lucas Mariano de Ochoa, together with his barangay heads in 1710, mentions that the church of Dingras had been constructed by their minister Fray Alonso Cortes OSA 30 years ago, c. 1678-1680 and that by the year of writing, 1710, only the brick walls remained. Noted Church historian Regalado Trota-Jose on the other hand mentions a brick church being built in the late 1670's collapsing in the earthquake of 1707. Whichever information is correct it is presumed that this solid structure may be surmised as the second church of Dingras.

This structure may have undergone rebuilding but was subsequently consumed by fire in 1838, which also gutted the whole town. Father Pedro Galende OSA mentions that in 1879, Fray Damask Vieytez OSA built the present church, which is described as being huge and massive. But Trota-Jose corrects this by stating that the church was built sometime during the priorship of Fray Vieytez from 1846 to 1854, the year the said builder died. The church again underwent renovation, this time fixing the roof and replacing it with metal sheets during the incumbencies of Fray Ricardo Diaz OSA (1879-1893) and Fray Fidel Franco OSA (1894-1898), whom Galende identifies as Saturnino Franco. Fire and earthquake again destroyed the church in 1914 and 1931, which made the structure unsafe and subsequently abandoned. A smaller concrete structure was built on the plaza across the street, which served as the house of worship for the town. The ruins of the old church remained standing throughout this time and became a beautiful and nostalgic setting for pictorials and even concerts. In the past decade the church has been re-opened and masses again have been conducted inside the refurbished and retrofitted structure.

The architecture of Dingras is also significant not only in the annals of Philippine architectural history but more importantly Ilocos Architecture for this together with the facades of the churches of San Nicolas, Piddig, and the original pre-1984 facades of Sarrat and Vintar follow the manner and character of the Vignola masterpiece of the Church of Il Gesu in Rome. Sadly with the proposed demolition of this façade gone would be this fine example, with only that of the Church of San Nicolas serving as the only remnant to this once popular style.

Why demolish this ancient brick façade? It would appear that the ruin is precariously leaning on to the newly built gym like shed built by the parish during the early parts of this century. After standing and buffeting typhoons, earthquakes, wars, pollution and other unknown forces, the façade, though showing its age is still massively strong and with the proper methods of conservation and shoring would allow it to continue gracing and serving the populace of Dingras and people who appreciate and understand the meaning of continuity.

Other leaning facades have been shored up and made safe for people to appreciate. One does not need to travel far to see how, through a concerted effort, a historic ruin was saved and even elevated to become not just an icon of a community but a whole promotional tool of a region, a people and a country.

Macao's world renowned ruins of the Jesuit Church of Saint Paul are a prime example of how a façade could be shored up, strengthened and saved for generations to come. Began in 1602, the church like those in the Philippines suffered numerous travails in its colorful history. In 1835 fire destroyed the church leaving only a pile of rubble and a wonderful façade standing. Restoration efforts in the early 1990's resulted in supporting the ruins by building a concrete inner stencil that would serve as a reinforcement of the Baroque façade. Today, the ruins of St. Paul are the must see tourist destination aside from the Casinos that litter today Macao's quaint islands.

What was done in Macao, can be done in Dingras. Economically speaking it may even be more prudent to just build a retaining inner wall than to tear down a heavy masonry façade and rebuild it following the same lines and specifications of the original. Artistically and technically speaking, the methods, know-how and artistry of today compare poorly to the craftsmanship of the 19th century. Finally, do the people of Dingras understand the repercussions of loosing a vital piece of their heritage even if the façade were to be replaced by a replica! A replica remember does not replace the original, for whatever reason one gives. The best is still the original, and a replica is but considered a fake.

One wonders why this project is even being considered. True, the need to shore up the façade is pressing. The safety of anyone visiting this shrine of faith is the paramount concern of the parish. But do the necessary agencies both local and national know of the proposed demolition of this historic façade? If they do, are they inept enough to even suggest the demolition instead of alternative processes of rehabilitation of a vital monument? One wonders again at the ineptitude of government and the people elected therein in suggesting the opposite of the complete conservation, preservation and rehabilitation of such vital infrastructure. Though the building is a private structure, its heart and soul lie deep in every Catholic and Filipino that roams the land.

Pampanga: 14th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

The 14th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta will be held in Clark, Pampanga from February 12 to 15, 2009. Our Valentine's Day tour to the festival is fully-booked already but you can e-mail us at if you want to be included in the waiting list.

Anyway, you can catch the hot air balloon flights from 5:30 to 7 a.m. daily during the festival. That means leaving Manila by 4 a.m. to be sure you make it on time. Take into consideration that the later you arrive, the harder to find parking.

The schedule also mentions flights late in the afternoon but I'm not quite sure about this since the evenings are usually for the night glow event which you should not miss. Night glow is scheduled for Saturday, 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. The full schedule of the festival is here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Longaniza Leyte (Bato)

The Leyte version of longaniza is sweet (or matamis). Each link is further divided into three shorter links shaped like balls. This Leyte longaniza is from the Bato Public Market. The one being grilled in the lower photo is available at stalls beside the Bato Port Terminal.

Main article: Longanizas of the Philippines
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