Showing posts with label Western Visayas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Western Visayas. Show all posts

Friday, September 09, 2016

Experience Boracay with Tides Hotel

Tides Hotel is one of the best located hotels in Boracay, if you want to be close to all the action. In my previous trips, I always notice the entrance to Tides in D'Mall. There's no need to take public transport to get to Boracay's commercial center. As soon as you exit the hotel, you're there. So when I got invited by Tides Hotel to stay with them, I didn't think twice.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Iloilo hosts the 117th anniversary of Philippine Independence

For the first time, Iloilo will host the Independence Day celebrations. As part of the 117th anniversary of Philippine Independence, President Benigno Aquino III will lead flag-raising ceremonies at Santa Barbara, Iloilo, where the Philippine flag was first raised outside of Luzon.

This will be followed by the traditional vin d'honneur reception which will be held at the newly-rehabilitated Iloilo Provincial Capitol in Iloilo City.

Iloilo City has become a beacon of hope for local governance, leading the way in sustainable development and heritage conservation. As it makes the drive towards progress, it continues to conserve its rich heritage.

The Iloilo River Promenade is one example of the political will of Iloilo's leaders. They were able to reclaim the river, remove all illegal settlers no matter how influential, replant mangroves, and develop a linear park that has given the community a fantastic public open space. Iloilo Mayor Jed Mabilog has done a fantastic job! Here is a video of the Promenade courtesy of Archt. Paulo Alcazaren who designed the park.

We also got to visit the Iloilo Convention Center which is being rushed in time for the APEC ministerial meetings which the city will host in September. Thank God it isn't the usual generic infrastructure which the government usually churns out. We were toured by Sen. Frank Drilon and former DOT Sec. Narzalina Lim who heads the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation.

Iloilo is a city of parks and plazas. Take note, they don't build barangay halls or covered courts in their plazas. Open spaces are respected. Here is Plaza Libertad as seen from the roofdeck of Iloilo City Hall. And there are fantastic plazas as well in Jaro, Molo and La Paz.

We were treated to a fantastic tabu-an lunch at the Iloilo City Hall! On our table was ginisa nga uhong (kabute with patola), pinindangan (dilis), talaba ukoy, scallops, diwal, Pinoy salad (okra, talong, talbos ng kamote, itlog na maalat, kamatis, sibuyas) with lato paired with fresh Banate bagoong, duck estofado sa tuba at piña, binuro na kasag (alimasag), pork adobo sa achuete, fried ubre (pork mamary gland), prawns, managat and kinilaw na tanigue by Chef Rafael Jardeleza. What a feast!

Speaking of Iloilo City Hall, the old Iloilo City Hall is now part of a campus of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas.

I really love it how Iloilo is giving incentives to heritage building owners to conserve their buildings. The heritage buildings of Calle Real are given fifty percent real estate tax discounts when they rehabilitate their buildings. No wonder Iloilo's heritage is alive and kicking. I wonder when Manila will give incentives to heritage building owners?

Note also that SM is restoring the Lacson-Yusay Mansion (which most call the Consing Mansion) to house a branch of SM Kultura. I wonder when SM will start conserving heritage in other parts of the country, especially in Manila. I hope they continue saving heritage. My fingers are crossed! But at least in Iloilo, they are on the right track.

But what I enjoy most about visits to Iloilo is the food! Oh yes the food! You have to try La Paz Batchoy at the La Paz Market. My personal favorite is Netong's which one can find inside the market.

And of course, there's also Pancit Molo. Ironically, it's difficult to find a restaurant in Molo known for Pansit Molo simply because it's usually prepared as home. Lucky for us, we got to enjoy a hot bowl of Pancit Molo plus Tsokolate Batirol at the Camiña Balay nga Bato (Avanceña Heritage House), Villa de Arevalo, Iloilo City. They get the Pancit Molo from Kapitan Ising.

There are just so many food choices in Iloilo. Here are some of my favorite must-try Ilonggo dishes.

Iloilo has so much to offer. You are missing a lot if you do not visit the original Queen City of the South!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Iloilo: Must try Ilonggo dishes

La Paz Batchoy Netong's
Visiting Iloilo City can be a culinary adventure. Here are some Ilonggo dishes you might want to try out while in Iloilo City.

La Paz Batchoy Netong's
La Paz Batchoy must be on top of almost everyone's list. You can get the best batchoy at the La Paz Market. This noodle soup contains pork innards, pork cracklings (chicharon) and beek loin among other ingredients. While there are many batchoy stalls outside the market, hidden inside the market is Netong's Lapaz Batchoy which is highly-recommended by locals. And while we were there, I noticed they added a really deadly ingredient to their batchoy — bone marrow!

KBL (Kadios, Baboy and Langka) Iloilo
Kansi and KBL are two classic Illongo stews that are powerful enough to stimulate emotions and evoke good memories, the Ratatouille moment if I may say, among Ilonggos. My search for the fabled Kansi and KBL took me to Punot Flavors of Modern Iloilo by the Esplanande.

KBL (Kadios, Baboy and Langka) is a classic Ilonggo pork stew with batuan (Garcinia binucao) used as souring agent. Punot serves their own version of Kansi, a beef stew. They have Corned Beef Kansi which is corned beef shank in soured broth, jackfruit, lemongrass and atsuete oil with oven-roasted bone marrow on the side.

Then there's another Ilonggo classic — Pancit Molo. Ironically, it's difficult to find a restaurant in Molo known for Pansit Molo simply because it's usually prepared as home. Lucky for us, we got to enjoy a hot bowl of Pancit Molo plus Tsokolate Batirol at the Camiña Balay nga Bato (Avanceña Heritage House), Villa de Arevalo, Iloilo City.

Pangat Iloilo Breakthrough Restaurant
Pangat is the Iloilo version of Bicol's laing. Panay and Bicol have a noticeable cultural connection because of the abaca trade. We had Pangat at Breakthrough Restaurant.

Ramboy's Liempo Iloilo
Liempo may be a common dish. But Liempo at Ramboy's is in a class of its own. We got to try their famed Liempo at the Ramboy's branch by the Esplanade.

Finally, there's Pancit Efuven (egg noodles with pork and vegetables). I got to try Teresa's Special Efuven at Carlitos Restaurant from the owners of the Original Biscocho Haus. Their version, cooked light and delicately herbed, is an heirloom recipe of the Guadarramas of Fajardo Street.

Did I miss any more popular Ilonggo dishes?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Iloilo: Santa Barbara Church and Iloilo Golf and Country Club

Santa Barbara Church Iloilo
Santa Barbara, Iloilo has a special place in our country's history. I was honored to celebrate our 115th Independence Day with the citizens of Santa Barbara. One of the town's heritage sites is the Santa Barbara Church, a National Historical Landmark. It was here that the Revolutionary Government of the Visayas led by Gen. Martin T. Delgado convened the junta that raised the first cry outside Luzon.

Santa Barbara Church Iloilo
Iloilo Golf and Country Club Santa Barbara
Another heritage site is the Iloilo Golf and Country Club, the first golf course in the Philippines, which was established by Scottish engineers in 1907. Unfortunately, the original club house was burned down by the Japanese during the Second World War. Except for the historical marker, there's no other structure that highlights that it is the country's oldest golf course. Maybe they could reconstruct the old club house to house the golf course's museum, an added attraction for Santa Barbara. There are many qualified restoration architects who can do that.

Arthur Defensor Iloilo Governor
With Sta. Barbara Mayor Dennis Superficial, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor & Cabatuan Mayor Ramon Yee during the 115th Independence Day ceremonies

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Iloilo: QR codes for Iloilo heritage sites

Last week, I flew to Iloilo to see how technology is now helping tourists learn more about Iloilo heritage sites with the use of a smart phone. Smart sponsored the installation of QR codes in heritage sites around Iloilo City and in other towns of the province of Iloilo as well.

First thing we did when we landed was to get a warm bowl of La Paz Batchoy at the La Paz Market. While there are many choices, one has to walk inside the market to find Netong's Lapaz Batchoy, one of the more popular brands. In fact, our hotel (in front of La Paz Market) had complimentary coupons it gives out to guests. It's a deadly concoction indeed as we watched the cook dish in innards and scoop out bone marrow to make this tasty noodle dish.

Our first stop on the #QRIloilo tour was the Jaro Metropilitan Cathedral, seat of one of the oldest dioceses in the country. The QR code is located by the gate of the church. When you scan it, it gives more detailed information on the church, including an old photo. You can try scanning the code in the photo.

The QR codes are not only for built heritage, Smart installed some at delicacy stores like Deocampo Barquillos, our next stop. I finally got to see how barquillos is made thanks to a demo they prepared for us. And rolling it was not easy as each of us got to try. Scanning the QR code at Deocampo gives a detailed history of the bakery and the process of making barquillos.

We stopped by Molo before lunch. The Arenas-Lazaro Ancestral House was among the houses Jose Rizal visited in 1896 on his way back to Manila. The Molo Church is a very famous landmark. It is often called the feminist church because almost all of the images are dedicated to female saints.

After lunch at Breakthrough Restaurant, it was nap time in the van as we proceeded to Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Too bad we didn't have time to visit the San Joaquin Church, a National Cultural Treasure, and the very elegant San Joaquin Cemetery.

We motored back to Iloilo City, stopping at Villa de Arevalo District to have merienda at Camina Nga Balay na Bato (Lola Rufina Heritage Curio Shop) or the Avancena House. This house and shop has a QR code too. We had really good Pancit Molo! As locals say, the best Pancit Molo in Iloilo are the ones prepared by the old families.

When you visit Iloilo heritage sites, make sure to look out for these QR codes!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Where to eat in Boracay: Fishbar Boracay and Zuzuni

Boracay just has too many restaurants to choose from. And many are really good! Here are two of the restaurants we ate at during the SEAIR and Microtel Boracay Bloggers' Tour. The first is Fishbar Boracay in the D'Mall area. And the second is Zuzuni located along the beach front in Station 1.

Fishbar Boracay is obviously a seafood restaurant. But they do serve other dishes too (good for me)! We were served a whole gamut of dishes from their very popular Beer Batter Fish and Chips, Fish Burger, Calamares and a large platter with a little bit of everything among many others.

For dinner, we had the most authentic Greek cuisine on could find on Boracay at Zuzuni. We were first served pita bread bread with three kinds of dips: Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), Tirokafteri (feta cheese spread), and Tzatziki (yogurt dip). Then there was the Greek Summer Salad made with kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumber tossed with herbs, olive oil and red wine vinegar and topped with feta cheese.

On skewers was the Souvlaki which is assorted grilled meat or fish and vegetables. There also was Garides Saganaki Pasta which has prawns in pomodoro sauce, and Moussaka which is something like lasagna with eggplant , ground beef and ground pork, topped with bechamel sauce and cheese.

But the pièce de résistance is none other than the Mati Chocolate Sin dessert. In fact, Zuzuni is very famous for it. This dessert is Valrhona chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream. I can still remember the rich chocolate ooze out of the cake as I savored every bite.

Boat Station 1, White Beach, Boracay
+63 920 982-9848
+63 36 288-4477

Friday, November 05, 2010

Boracay: Mandala Spa is the best spa in Boracay!

No doubt, Mandala Spa is among the best spas in Boracay. I've heard so much good stuff about their treatments, I had long wanted to try them out for myself. And I finally got the chance some weeks ago. And I wasn't disappointed since the facilities and service was superb!

It's a bit far from most establishments since it's quite close to the Cagban Port. But this secluded spa is tucked deep inside the sprawling property making it very exclusive for its clients. In fact, you'll have to walk several meters from the road into their driveway to reach the main reception pavilion.

You actually get your own private hut when availing of spa treatments at Mandala. Each private hut is spacious and complete with your own massage and bathing facilities. I availed of their Mandala Signature Massage (Php2850) which lasted for an hour and 30 minutes. I noticed the therapist's meticulous attention to detail as she carried out the spa treatment. It was one of the best spa treatments I've experienced.

Mandala Spa also has a resort if you want to avail of their holistic Boracay experiences. Looking also at their menu of services, I was intrigued with the other treatments, particularly the Water Dance which is an underwater therapy (yes you'll be wearing nose plugs) with the therapist leading you through a harmonious routine in a pool of warm water. Maybe I'll be able to do that on my next visit.

Mandala Spa and Villas
Boracay Island, Malay Aklan
Tel: +63 36 288 5858
Fax: +63 36 2883531

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Boracay: SEAIR and Microtel Boracay Bloggers' Tour

Boracay has many other beaches aside from the very hip and happening White Beach. In fact, many of the other beaches offer peace and quiet one would not think is still possible on Boracay. Diniwid Beach is one of them. And thanks to the SEAIR and Microtel Boracay Bloggers' Tour, I found myself back in Diniwid Beach since we stayed in the very comfortable Microtel Boracay.

Here's an old post I made on Microtel Boracay which says it all. I was pleasantly surprised that Diniwid Beach got its sand back since when we first visited two years, the beach was almost gone. It actually looks like a shorter stretch of White Beach now sans the activity.

For our first night, we had dinner at Mama's Fish House, the restaurant of Microtel Boracay. After dinner, we all boarded the free shuttle of Microtel to check out what was happening at White Beach.

Microtel Inn & Suites Boracay
Diniwid Beach, Malay, Aklan
Tel No. +63 36 2884311
Fax +63 36 2884312
Mobile +63 917 7165004

Boracay: Halloween fun in Boracay with SEAIR

I found myself on a SEAIR flight to Boracay just in time for the Halloween. Boracay is actually one of the best places in the Philippines to celebrate Halloween. Halloween being a Western tradition and Boracay being a destination for Western tourists, you'd see a lot of Boracay visitors in some of the most creative, wildest and funniest costumes as they party on Halloween night.

The festivities actually start in the afternoon when the kids and those young at heart go trick-or-treating around D'Mall and other participating areas. It was a bummer though that this year's Halloween was a very rainy.

After checking out the trick-or-treating, I claimed my free pair of Havaianas. I was on a lucky SEAIR flight where every passenger is given a pair of Havaianas.

In the evening, we visited Discovery Shores Boracay to enjoy their special Halloween buffet spread and check out their horror house.

The buffet spread was quite creative, particularly the desserts. Aside from the usual decor, there was the Bloody Fountain Station (white chocolate fondue that was colored red to make it look like blood) and Black Liver Mousse (chocolate mousse with tomb stone fondant) among others.

And kudos to the staff of Discovery Shores for the effort they put in the horror house! Each chamber in the horror house was conceptualized by one department. And the actors inside are the staff themselves. You could hear the kids scream from outside as they went through the various rooms of the house.

From Discovery Shores, we walked along White Beach to check out the Halloween happenings. Most establishments had something for Halloween. Even the henna tattoo artists were dressed up for the occasion. Unfortunately, there weren't too many people compared to previous Halloweens since it had just rained.

But by 9 p.m., the foreigners were trooping back to D'Mall to party in their crazy costumes. Indeed, Boracay is a major Halloween destination for the Philippines. Even if it rained again, the partying still continued. Check out the SEAIR Fan Page or SEAIR Boracay Beach Party Coverage 2010 on for more photos.
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