Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quezon City: Bagoong Club's Noche Buena Menu

You a have a few days left to catch the Noche Buena Menu of Bagoong Club! We got to try this menu last week and definitely enjoyed it. There are seven dishes in the special Christmas menu. Here they are:

I particularly liked the Mula sa Puso which is puso ng saging (banana blossom) sisig. It's a healthy twist to the popular Kapampangan dish.

Puso de Coco is banana blossom wrapped in gabi leaves and cooked in coconut milk.

Tinapambutido is crispy-fried smoked fish patties topped with laing.

Then there's Bagoong Club's Christmas twist to the staple lechon: Liemponillo. It's Filipino style cuchinillo pork liempo with asado sauce and whole scallions.

Krismanok is grilled glazed chicken rolled with ham and cheese, cooked in pineapple sauce.

Balut Adobo is deep-fried balut cooked the adobo way with a generous serving of garlic.

Finally, there's Sisig Paella. That's flavorful paella infused with delectable Pampanga pork sisig.

You have until the end of the month to catch this special menu at Bagoong Club!

Bagoong Club
122 Scout Dr. Lazcano
Sacred Heart, Quezon City
(02) 929-0544

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Batangas: Sailing for beginners at Taal Lake Yacht Club

Ivan Man Dy talks about our Lake Sailing 101 adventure at the Taal Lake Yacht Club and lunch at Club Balai Isabel in Talisay, Batangas.

I had thought that layag was just the verb and I didn't realize that layag is also Tagalog for boat sail. Just like English, layag (the sail) is root word of the verb layag (to sail). Thus maglalayag sa dagat literally translates to sailing in the sea. This was just one of the many aha moments I learned with our first sailing experience in Taal Lake in Batangas. We recently checked out the sailing activities at the Taal Lake Yacht Club (TLYC) upon invitation by their president Peter Capotosto to try out the sports activities of the club. And what a revelation it was!
Located in the town of Talisay just below the ridge from Tagaytay, we now add this to our list of fun things to do when visiting this highland city. Upon arrival, we signed a waiver and did a crash course on sailing. TLYC offers several options to enjoy the the waters of Taal Lake such as the Hobie 16 (feet) sail boat that is good for 3 people, kayaks, sail boards and even bangka rentals for Taal Volcano hikes. Our pick was the two-hulled Hobie 21 Sport Cruiser sailboat which was the biggest in the lot. With Peter as our captain and guide, we immediately headed off for the water.
Our day was perfect for sailing, with the onset of the amihan (north-east monsoon), Taal Lake was filled with endless gusts of wind that took our Hobie sail boat from a relaxing cruise to sudden bursts of speed which was very exhilarating! In between controlling the sail, determining the wind direction and guiding us as we controlled the rudder, our captain Peter explained to us the intricacies of this sport as well as discussed the environment issues currently confronting Taal Lake. In terms of sanitation standards, Taal Lake is rated class 2 which means that it is not recommend for drinking but just right for swimming and water sports like sailing.
For our lunch break, we made a spur of the moment decision to dock at the nearby resort of Club Balai Isabel. Good thing the resort's amiable president Nelson Terrible was there and he treated us to a sumptuous lunch buffet at the restaurant. What was once an old coconut plantation is now a nine-hectare fully-furnished resort with 228 rooms and a swimming pool, in case the lake is too big for you!
All in all, it was a very productive morning with fresh insights and new experiences to a tried-and-tested day-trip destination. Sailing is an individual sport as it can be a fun-group or family-oriented activity. They even allow for food and beer to carried on-board! Note that you will get very wet, so do not forget to bring extra clothes, towels and toiletries. Hobie sail boat rentals start at Php1,500 and goes up depending on the boat size and duration. Even better is that the rental fees can be charged on an hour's interval, perfect for first-timers who are initially testing the waters to this adrenaline pumping sport!

Thanks to Peter Capotosto of the Taal Lake Yacht club for hosting this trip. For sailing details, click here.

By the way, they're selling BlackBerry phones at for as much as 35% off at BlackBerry hubs in SM. If you still haven't gotten one, time to get your brand new BlackBerryBarkada smartphones at really low prices this Christmas! I'm getting one myself and I can't choose which BlackBerry I want more with everything up to 35% off! Click here for details.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Canada: Kingston Fortifications & Royal Military College of Canada

The first thing I researched when I learned I was joining the inaugural flight of Philippine Airlines to Toronto was the nearest UNESCO World Heritage Site to Toronto. And that was the Rideau Canal, which has several component sites from Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario.

Kingston was the nearest city, a three-hour drive from Toronto. And since we had one free day during the trip, we decided to rent a car and drive over to Kingston. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate that day. But we still decided to go for the adventure! 

Once the capital of the newly-united Canada from 1841 to 1843, Kingston was being prepared for this important role that was however cut short when Queen Victoria decided to move the center of government to Ottawa. In fact, a grand neoclassical Kingston City Hall was completed in 1843, one of the major landmarks of the old city center. On the way to the Kingston Fortifications, we saw a view of this historic skyline from across the Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence River. I was hoping we'd get to explore its weathered stone houses and historic streets, but the rains prevented us from doing that.

Our first order of business was getting to any of the Kingston Fortifications which is part of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site. Fort Henry was closed for the winter. So our next choice was Fort Frederick on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada. The RMC is itself a very venerable ensemble of architecture and worth a visit if you like old architecture.

We had to brave the rains and cold to get to the Point Frederick, the southern end of the RMC grounds, where Fort Frederick is located. The two forts, together with Cathcart Tower, Shoal Tower and Murney Tower formed the Kingston Fortifications which protected the entrance of the Rideau Canal.

According to UNESCO, "The Rideau Canal is a large strategic canal constructed for military purposes which played a crucial contributory role in allowing British forces to defend the colony of Canada against the United States of America, leading to the development of two distinct political and cultural entities in the north of the American continent, which can be seen as a significant stage in human history."

We were wet and cold from the rain, and hungry since we missed lunch. So we called it a day and drove to the nearest fast food. On the way back, we stopped by the outlet mall off the Ontario Highway 401 exit, before driving back home.

How to get to Kingston, Ontario from Toronto
There are regular bus trips from Toronto to Kingston, Ontario. If you choose to drive, it's a 262-kilometer drive via ON-401 East.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mangan Tamu! Giant Lantern Festival and Pampanga food tour on December 15!

The spectacular Giant Lantern Festival is coming up! And Ultimate Philippines Tours invites you again to journey to the central heartland as we immerse ourselves in things Kapampangan!

From Buro to Baroque, it's a fun-filled day as we poke around and get intimate with the very best of Pampanga's cultural offerings. Gaze at the jewel-box of a church in Betis while wading through the lahar-buried town of Bacolor.

We'll stuff ourselves silly with a pre-Christmas Kapampangan noche buena fare by Claude Tayag, one of the country's best known Kapampangan chefs! And to it cap it off, get a front row view of the most dazzling display of Kapmpangan artistry the Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) of San Fernando! It's a tour with nothing but Kapampangan cool!

Tour will be on December 15, 2012 (Saturday) from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Rate is P4,500.00 per person inclusive of transfers from Ayala 6750 or Trinoma, tour and some serious food binging! E-mail to book a slot.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Canada: Toronto, Kingston & Niagara Falls in Ontario

Finally, Manila now has a direct flight to Toronto thanks to Philippine Airlines! We boarded PAL's inaugural flight and got to explore Toronto and its environs for five days. Among the places of interest we visited in Toronto were the old and new Toronto City Hall, St. Lawrence Market, CN Tower (but it was unfortunately cloudy when we were up there), the Ontario Legislative Building, University of Toronto, Casa Loma and the Toronto Islands for the best view of the Toronto skyline.

We also rented a car and drove three hours east to Kingston to visit the Kingston Fortifications which are part of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate and we only got to visit the Royal Military College of Canada and Fort Frederick. Kingston's historic skyline looked quite interesting thought but we'll save that for another visit.

The group also visited the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, namely Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin to try out their famed ice wine before proceeding to the iconic Niagara Falls in the US-Canada border.

Here are photos from that visit to Toronto:
November 30-December 1 - Toronto, Canada
December 3 - Toronto, Canada

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Philippine Airlines (PAL) now flies direct to Toronto, Canada!

Philippine Airlines (PAL) inaugurated its maiden flight to Toronto, Canada last November 30, 2012. It was a rare opportunity to be part of that inaugural flight. And here I am in Toronto, exploring this nice Canadian city, which is home to close to 200,000 Filipinos. In fact, Filipinos are the third largest ethnic group here in Toronto.

Ceremonies began at NAIA Terminal 2 lead by PAL President Ramon Ang and Canadian Ambassador H.E. Christopher Thornley. Passengers of the flight posed for a commemorative group photo with Ang who saw all of us off as we boarded the maiden flight.

The plane was a brand new Boeing 777-300ER which provided some of the latest amenities including an in-flight entertainment system that will keep you busy for the duration of the 15-hour direct flight from Manila to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Since it was the inaugural flight, we were treated to business class service and meals even in Fiesta Class. Yes, they brought out the metal dining utensils and ceramic plates for all of us, with four choices of dishes to choose from! Plus before we landed, passengers were feted with champagne and a toast to celebrate this milestone.

At Toronto Pearson, more ceremonies went underway led by local airport authorities and business leaders. The local Filipino-Canadian community performed dances from the Philippines.

We ended the night with check-in and dinner at the Hilton Toronto which would be our home for the next five days. Congratulations to Philippine Airlines for yet another milestone! This definitely is something to celebrate as we push harder to get our cities connected directly to other destinations around the world, opening our doors even more for tourism.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

BGC Passion Fest this weekend!

Bonifacio Global City (BGC) has got to be one of my favorite mall developments in the country, especially because of Bonifacio High Street, their open-air mall. I've always liked the way they've shown the Philippines that malls need not be air-conditioned with their perfect mix of architecture, intelligently-landscaped open spaces and great establishments.

This weekend, BGC will host BGC Passion Fest, Bonifacio Global City's 3-day weekend celebration on November 23-25, 2012. There something for everyone! And I'm posting the schedule here for your information. You all better go!

November 23
Catch Music Moves. Art Grooves Mobile Concert (6:30 p.m. to 12 midnight) featuring:
(1) fused performances by Wolfgang with a seven-piece wind and string ensemble, Pinoy and foreign movie themes with visual performance by Joseph the Sand Artist at 9th Street High Street;
(2) the Brass Munkeys with Jun Lupito, big band rock with a graphic artist at the Mind Museum;
(3) Razorback, Pinoy 70s to 90s rock, caricaturist visual artist at Turf BGC;
(4) Silverfilter with Skarlet, club jazz, graffiti artist at the Fort Entertainment; and
(5) Mobile concert, performances to be held on an open-wing 12-wheeler truck

November 24
Enjoy the Great BGC Outdoors at High Street and High Street Central (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.)! High Street will be transformed into a big fair ground with giant game installations, picnic areas, pet shows, fair games, inflatables for kids, magic shows, and free cotton candy, popcorn and ice cream. Kiddie shows will happen at High Street Central Ampitheater from 4 to 6 p.m. Plus a movie marathon after from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight will feature The Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo and Avenger movies.

November 25
More fun and exciting events will happen on Sunday including:
(1) Run BGC Ready Set Explore from 5 to 9 a.m. where you can explore BGC's interactive parks, outdoor art, science museum, and retail playground in one exciting run.
(2) The Great BGC Outdoors from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(3) Opening of BGC Christmas, 6 p.m. at High Street Central

Note that there will be a special route of the BGC Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour during the said weekend. Those who live, work and study in BGC get discounts in registration fees for Run BGC, and special discounts and freebies in selected retail shop and restaurants in BGC.

So start planning your weekend at BGC!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Celebrating 40 years of UNESCO World Heritage!

Batad Rice Terraces
On November 16, 1972, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Today, we celebrate the 40th year of World Heritage! For the next few days, I will be featuring UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I have visited. To date, I've been to over a hundred UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 32 countries. Experiencing them first hand were always memorable trips for me.

The Philippines has five inscriptions. These are the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Bangaan, Batad, Hungduan, Mayoyao and Nagacadan), Historic Town of Vigan, Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Paoay, Santa Maria, San Agustin and Miag-ao), the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

Bangaan Rice Terraces
Hungduan Rice Terraces (Hapao and Baang)
Mayoyao Rice Terraces
Nagacadan Rice Terraces
It is the responsibility of each state party to safeguard UNESCO World Heritage Sites in its jurisdiction. While the Philippines has had its share of bad experiences such as the influx of tourists to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River and the violations currently being committed by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte in the core and buffer zones of Paoay Church, this year has been a proud year for the Philippines as it was recognized by UNESCO for its management of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras which was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger, and the Historic Town of Vigan which was recognized as a model of best practices in World Heritage site management.

Historic Town of Vigan
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Paoay Church
Santa Maria Church
Miag-ao Church
To learn more about the criteria for innscription to the UNESCO World Heritage List, read Nominating properties to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Conference & 2012 ICTC Annual Meeting

The ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Conference and 2012 ICTC Annual Meeting came to a close last night as we returned from the post-conference tour to the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. We've been very busy the past two weeks since our first delegates arrived on November 2.

Conference Chair Ivan Henares, National Museum Director Jeremy Barns, Ambassador Jose Maria Carino, ICOMOS Philippines President Augusto Villalon, ICOMOS ICTC President Susan Millar, DOT Director Cynthia Lazo, Conference Co-Chair Ivan Man Dy. Photo by Anson Yu
Conference Chair Ivan Henares, ICOMOS Philippines President Augusto Villalon & Conference Co-Chair Ivan Man Dy. Photo by Anson Yu
Official activities started on November 5 with the Welcome Reception at the Old Senate Session Hall of the National Museum. Before that, foreign delegates were transported from Intramuros to the National Art Gallery on an air-conditioned jeepney courtesy of Jeepney Tours, followed by a tour of the newly-opened galleries of the National Museum. I was astounded with how much of our national treasures were in storage all these years before they finally seeing light in these new exhibits.

Food was catered by Cibo, and cultural performances rendered by the Ramon Magsaysay High School and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

The next day, delegates flew to Laoag City. We got to visit Paoay Church which was the only major embarrassment during the conference as ICOMOS experts pointed out violations that were being committed by the local government as we were visiting. Structures were being constructed in the core and buffer zones which raised a major concern among our guests.

In the Historic Town of Vigan, we got a grand and festive welcome at the City Hall of Vigan as each foreign delegate was assigned an assistant for the duration of the conference. Dinner was at the Burgos House (National Museum) hosted by the Department of Tourism Region I.

For the next two days, the conference was held at the recently-restored Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol. A temporary exhibit on archival material of the town plaza of Vigan was also opened by the National Archives. In the evening, the City Government of Vigan invited everyone to watch a sarsuela which was followed by a festive dinner in front of city hall.

The next day, the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee held its annual meeting followed by a workshop with local stakeholders. The day ended with a Closing Reception hosted by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur at the Vigan Plaza Hotel.

We returned to Manila the next day. In the evening, we got a glimpse of the reconstructed Ayuntamiento de Manila, as well as an evening tour of Fort Santiago, the Rizal Shrine and Casa Manila. A Farewell Reception was hosted by the Intramuros Administration at Barbara's. Check out photos of the conference in the Ivan About Town FB page and with Estan Cabigas.

As most of the delegates went back home, the other half braved the long drive and truck traffic to visit the Rice Terrace of the Philippine Cordilleras in Ifugao. It was a very meaningful visit to Banaue, Lagawe, Kiangan and Hungduan as we got to interact with local officials and stakeholders. The group had a very comfortable stay at the Banaue Hotel. Here are some photos of our post-conference tour to Ifugao.

Thank you very much to everyone who contributed, particularly the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur, the City Government of Vigan, Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs-TCCP, UNESCO National Commission, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Metrobank Foundation, City Government of Manila, Intramuros Administration, TIEZA, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), National Museum and the Provincial Government of Ifugao among many others!
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