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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Negros Occidental: Around the historic center of Silay City

Silay, Negros Occidental is one of the heritage cities of the Philippines. Its historic center was declared by the National Historical Institute as a National Historical Landmark. While twenty-eight of its ancestral houses were declared Heritage Houses, the most number of declared structures anywhere in the country.

Several of these houses are open to the public as museums including the Victor Fernandez Gaston Heritage House, Manuel Severino Hofileña Heritage House and the Bernardino Lopez Jalandoni Ancestral House among others. I had visited the Gaston House (Balay Negrense) in a previous trip. So I wanted to visit the other two museums.

After visiting the Delicacy Barter Market and having breakfast, we proceeded to the Jalandoni House to visit the museum there. The first floor features an exhibit on Silay's heritage houses while the second floor is the Jalandoni House itself.

We dropped by the Silay Church or the San Diego Pro-Cathedral but I wasn't able to take too many photos inside since there was a wedding going on. But in front of the church is a really nice view of Rizal Street where a row of ancestral houses can be found.

Walking around Silay is like walking back in time. I wonder if there is a Silay heritage walking map available for those who want to explore the city on their own. Maybe in the future, some of the houses can be converted into bed and breakfast establishments for those who want to experience living in an old house. Now that the Bacolod Airport is in Silay, these adaptive reuse options become all the more viable.

Silay has a good example of adaptive reuse in fact - the Maria Ledesma Golez House is now a branch of RCBC. And what's good about it is that the signage is very subtle, not the overbearing pylon signs you usually see in banks.

Getting into the Hofileña House is a bit tricky. It requires an appointment and is said to be dependent on the mood of the house's current resident, Ramon Hofileña. More than the house, people visit the Hofileña House to view the impressive art collection of Ramon Hofileña. He's got works of various National Artists including Napoleon Abueva, Fernando C. Amorsolo, BenCab, Jose T. Joya, Cesar Legaspi, Vicente Manansala and H.R. Ocampo among others. And even more, in his collection are works of our nation's heroes including a school project of Dr. Jose Rizal and sketches of Juan Luna and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo.

But more than these priceless works, there are some (in)famous paintings which have always been talking points of any visit to the Hofileña House. What these are, you'll have to find out and visit the house for yourself. So next time you fly to Bacolod, make sure to stopover and experience Silay.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Negros Occidental: Delicacy Barter Market in Silay City

Early in the morning in Silay City, Negros Occidental, at the Silay Public Market, a unique exchange of goods happens. Known to locals as the Delicacy Barter Market, this is where the friendly tindera gets her snacks and kakanin to sell in offices, homes and other places as far as Bacolod City.

The practice originated from the family delicacies of Silay's old clans. Each family had a particular delicacy. And the household staff who prepared them would trade the leftovers with that of other families. Thus the barter of delicacies.

Today though, it has evolved into a unique trading system which is quite complicated to the onlooker but understood by the sellers and suppliers. Each tindera has her suki supplier. So she gets all her goods from a single supplier. The supplier is responsible for getting other goods from other suppliers. Thus the exchange of delicacies. They have a system in place already. And at the end of the day, the tindera would come back and pay her supplier. And the supplier will take care of paying the other suppliers.

At the Delicacy Barter Market, you'd find native kakanin and local delicacies, as well as popular snacks and sandwiches. So if you happen to arrive in Silay City early in the morning, why not swing over to the Delicacy Barter Market at the Silay Public Market to get your local delicacies and snacks at bargain prices!

Part 2: Around the historic center of Silay City

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Iloilo: Barkada burger at Perri Todd's

Now how big can a burger get? Well, I found that out when I tried out the barkada burger at Perri Todd's in Iloilo City. Their Premium Burger, made of pure beef and good for 4 persons, is Php220. They also have a Premium Burger with Cheesy Mushroom Dressing at Php250.

There are over a dozen other barkada burgers in their menu (with bacon, caramelized onions, blue cheese, grilled pineapple or buttered mushrooms). Plus the Todd's Potato, their version of mojos with a pomodoro and carbonara dip, is really good!

Perri Todd's
8 Cuartero Street, Jaro, Iloilo City
(033) 5082598 / (0920) 8925504

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Iloilo: Carlitos Restaurant and the Original Biscocho Haus

I was in Iloilo City recently to speak at the Tourism and Hospitality Students' Congress Nationwide Caravan - Iloilo Leg. As always, food tripping was also on the agenda! It was recommended that I try out Carlitos Restaurant which comes from the owners of the Original Biscocho Haus.

The restaurant is named after Dr. Carlos Guadarrama whose food mantra was a balanced diet, way before the advent of the food pyramid. The bestseller is Steak ala Teresa, the matriarach’s version of luscious, moist and sizzling choice beef tenderloin. The original branch of Carlitos Restaurant is along the National Highway in Pavia. But they opened a new branch beside the Biscocho Haus in Jaro.

They serve some local Iloilo favorites. But the menu choices are plentiful since they also serve pizza, pasta, meats and seafood, burgers, sandwiches, breakfast and dessert among others. Perennial family favorites like Ox Tongue and Callos are made available.

I tried out their pizza best-sellers: Carlitos Overload Pizza with everything on it, and Teresa's Spanish Pizza, with Spanish chorizo on mozarella cheese. Both were really good!

For the local food, we had Teresa's Special Efuven (egg noodles with pork and vegetables), and their Dinuguan which is served with Puto Manapla. The Pancit Efuven, cooked light and delicately herbed, is an heirloom recipe of the Guadarramas of Fajardo Street. I also tried out the Carlitos' Steak (beef tenderloin served with a special steak sauce) and the Fillet Steak (which is seasoned with herbs and spices and covered with a creamy crabmeat sauce).

For dessert, I highly-recommend the Butterscotch a la Mode (which is the famous Biscocho Haus butterscotch topped with vanilla ice cream and their homemade custard sauce) and the Banana Fritters (their version of turon but served with their really rich homemade custard sauce).

You also might want to know that Carlitos’ Jaro branch has live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with pica-pica to match light drinks on its alfresco T-Grillhouse.

After dinner, I walked over to the Original Biscocho Haus store to buy goodies to take home. On top of the list was butterscotch. I got introduced to this really yummy butterscotch way back in high school and I've been a fan ever since. Aside from the original flavor, they've innovated and created some with dried fruits such as prunes and mangoes.

Biscocho is another main product. That's why they're called the Biscocho Haus! They also have the Ilonggo favorites which include barquillos and piaya. I was actually amazed at the variety of products the Biscocho Haus now produces.

Carlitos Restaurant & Original Biscocho Haus
Airport Highway, Pavia, Iloilo
(033) 3293252

8 Lopez Jaena Street, Jaro, Iloilo City
(033) 3290862 / 3290864 / 5085909

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Aklan: Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan! Hala bira!

The Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan is one of the iconic festivals of the Philippines. Held annually on the third Sunday of January, the feast of the Sto. Niño, many of the street dance festivals of the Philippines were inspired by the Ati-Atihan which is often called the Mother of All Festivals.

The festival is a showcase of neighborhood troupes called tribes, who paint their bodies black (mimicking the dark-skinned Ati tribe), don colorful costumes, and parade around town while dancing to the beat of loud drums that follow behind the group.

Right after the 7 a.m. Mass in Pastrana Park and the shouts of "Viva El Señor Sto. Niño!" the different tribes made their way out of the town plaza. The energy in the streets of Kalibo was high, and the atmosphere electric! Hala bira!

Unlike most festivals, there is no parade route in the morning. The different tribes make their way around the plaza and town without a particular route. Spectators and the tribes are not divided by any cordon. In fact, you're free to join them dance if you want or have your photos taken.

While this happens the whole day, it's best to watch the tribes in the morning since their costumes and body paint are still fresh, plus the movement of the tribes is more orderly. By lunch, everyone goes home to eat.

After lunch, the tribes slowly come out again. By that time, they've had hefty doses of lechon (roast pig) and alcohol. So they become rowdier.

At 3 p.m., a procession of various Sto. Niño images makes its way around town together with the tribes. By this time, everyone is on board, dancing in the streets as the Mardi Gras-like procession snakes through the streets of Kalibo. The procession was so long, the tail-end was expected to arrived in the plaza shortly before 10 p.m. It was one big street party.

Unfortunately, we were so exhausted by 5 p.m., we could no longer stay to watch the tail-end make its way back. While it's a great party, let me warn you that the alcohol creates trouble, especially as the sun sets. So be safe!

The Ati-Atihan was said to have been a pagan ritual that was established before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. It was held in celebration of a pact between several Bornean datus who had just arrive in Panay, and the local Ati chieftain, Marikudo. To commemorate the pact and purchase of land, the Malayan newcomers, as they joined the Atis celebrate a good harvest, covered their bodies with soot. The arrival of the Spaniards saw the shift of the festival to commemorate the feast of the Infant Jesus or the Sto. Niño.

Next time you plan to visit Boracay in January, try to make the third weekend so that you could catch this upbeat and colorful festival. Hala bira!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Aklan: Kalibo's Ati-Atihan Festival! Viva Señor Sto. Niño!

The Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo, Aklan is held during the third Sunday of January, the feast of the Sto. Niño. This year it was held on January 17, 2010.

The day starts at 6:30 a.m. with the transfer of the Sto. Niño from the Kalibo Cathedral to Pastrana Park. This was followed by a Mass at 7 a.m. You'll have to wake up really early for this.

The only downside was that it would drizzle every now and then. Good thing it didn't rain hard.

One thing I noticed during the Mass were the dozens of Sto. Niño images in front of the altar. I found it amusing that people treat the image like a doll since vendors all over the place sell various clothes for the Sto. Niño images.

As the Mass was about to end, people started raising their own images of the Sto. Niño since priests went around to bless the images with holy water.

The different tribes were assembling around the plaza as well during the Mass. I could see them amongst the crowd from my vantage point in the altar area. As soon as the Mass ended and the crowd shouted praises for the Sto. Niño, "Viva Señor Sto. Niño!" the drumbeats from the different tribes erupted. It was an exciting feeling and the atmosphere was simply electric as one by one, the tribes began to leave the plaza to make their rounds around town.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boracay: SEAIR flies you straight to Caticlan (Boracay)

I wanted to fly down to Kalibo, Aklan to witness the Ati-Atihan Festival. But I decided to chill first in Boracay before proceeding to Kalibo. So I boarded the first SEAIR flight to Caticlan last Saturday. Thank God they have airport and boat transfers so it was really convenient.

Still sleepless from the Baguio trip, I looked for a spot where I could doze off while waiting for friends. And I found some lounge chairs in front of Cafe del Sol.

I ordered a strawberry banana yogurt smoothie and a panini sandwich. And the next thing I knew, I was in lalaland. I seriously needed that power nap.

It was a cloudy day. But the breeze was refreshing nonetheless.

SEAIR Fan Page
SEAIR has been giving away free tickets on its Facebook fan page. Join the SEAIR Fan Page and be the first to learn about SEAIR's exciting promos. And if you haven't yet, join Ivan About Town on Facebook to keep yourself updated on all the great travel destinations you might want to consider.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Negros Occidental: MassKara Festival 2009 in Bacolod City

MassKara Festival in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental is one of the best festivals in the Philippines. My father's side is from Bacolod. But I've never been able to watch it until this year thanks to a family reunion that was purposely coincided with the MassKara Festival.

The MassKara Festival was first staged in Bacolod City in 1980. It's been held annually during the weekend closest to October 19, which is the Charter Day of Bacolod City. So this year marks the 30th time that the festival is staged.

The street parade is held along Araneta Street and makes its way to the Bacolod Public Plaza. Good thing it is walking distance from our house. There was a Schools Category held on October 17. But we weren't able to watch that since that was the day of our family reunion.

But we did get to watch the Open Category right before we flew out of Bacolod City on October 18. Although a street dance parade like many festivals in the country, the MassKara Festival is very unique because of the intricate masks that accompany the colorful costumes. I was able to see the dancers up close and indeed, the effort put into creating the festival masks is astounding and commendable.

I particularly liked the masks of Barangay Mandalagan. Their colorful masks looked very elegant and neatly-done. It's a good thing they won the Best in Mask Award.

After the parade, there was still a dance competition in the Bacolod Public Plaza. But since we had a flight to catch, so I was content with watching the competition and awarding on TV while waiting at the airport. I would have wanted to stay longer. But contrary to popular notion, traveling and blogging aren't the only things I've got on my plate.

Congratulations to Barangay Taculing, the champions of MassKara Festival 2009! Same goes to the runners-up Barangays Mandalagan and 23!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are in Boracay?!

Rumor has it that celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are going to the new Shangri-La Resort in Boracay. And they'll be staying at one of the resort's priciest suites I was told! It also reached me that they chartered a SEAIR plane to get there. But friends from SEAIR aren't confirming the news. Again, it's unconfirmed but news from the grapevine is the couple chartered the plane using the name Frangelina, an Armenian princess or something.

Could Pitt and Jolie have entered the country undetected using the Dornier Do-24 ATT seaplane which can land straight in Boracay? Just a backgrounder, in February 2004, a restored and re-engined Do-24 ATT was used by a UNICEF mission to assist children in the Philippines. Upon completion of the work with UNICEF, it is now run as a special charter airliner by South East Asian Airlines. I wonder if they used that! If they did, such style, such substance! Can people in Boracay confirm if they are really there? Watch out for a couple in a large hat and dark shades!

But maybe not, since I got more news that Brangelina flew with at least eight bodyguards (three of them female), all dressed in beach attire! And that the conditions of the special charter flight was that the SEAIR crew should not mind the passengers. I want to go to Boracay! SEAIR take me there too!

Anyway, if it is true, the fact that the couple chose Boracay as their vacation destination this time around is reason enough to celebrate. That means the Philippines is slowly entering the mainstream global tourism market. We've been so left behind by all our neighbors, it's about time we take our rightful place with all the beautiful beaches, natural scenery and colorful heritage we have here! I do hope Brangelina have a nice time here in the Philippines and come back to see more.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Boracay: Halloween in Boracay

I didn't realize Boracay was a really cool place to celebrate Halloween. The entire island was so into the celebration with hotels, restaurants and bars churning up the spookiest and coolest of decor and great Halloween events to boot. Many partygoers also came in the craziest costumes. There were really funny groups too like the "101 Dalmatians" hoping around the sands of Boracay.

I was with my cousins and I took them party-hopping tonight. SEAIR sponsored really cool parties including a concert at Pearl of the Pacific, a party at Hey Jude, and an event with Cinema One at Summer Place.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Boracay: SEAIR means convenience to Boracay all the way!

I found myself on my way to Boracay again. The island does not have its own airport so you have to ride a ferry boat to get there. But flying on SEAIR is the most convenient option since they transfer you from the airport straight to Cagban Port in Boracay and back!

But the convenience starts from the time you get off your vehicle at the Manila Domestic Airport. Now that most of the flights have moved to T3, there are less passengers crowding the place. Gone are the lines to show your ticket and ID to the guard, as well as the line at the x-ray machines. And there were no lines at the check-in counter as well. So I immediately got my boarding pass. It took me 15 minutes to get from the entrance, check-in and sit down in the passengers' waiting area!

Since the Dornier planes are smaller than others, time to board passengers is also much shorter. So we were in the air in no time! Like in most domestic flights, I was expecting nothing much on board. In other local airlines, you have to buy your food and it's so pricey! While the rest, they give you a small snack and a glass of softdrinks, juice or water. So when the flight stewardess was going around, I was surprised when she asked, "How many packs of peanuts do you want?" instead of giving me just one small pack. I can't remember how many I got. For the Halloween trips, they also gave us a bottle of Gatorade.

The flight was super smooth and we were in Caticlan in no time! At 35 minutes, these flights are the fastest in town! Less time lining up, less time flying, more time to relax and enjoy Boracay! And since it's the preferred airline of many celebrities, you just don't know who might be with you on the flight.

As soon as I got out of the Caticlan Airport, the SEAIR ground staff were waiting to assist me. Buses and vans wait outside to bring you to the Caticlan Jetty Port. SEAIR pays for your boat ride and you only have to pay for the Terminal and Environmental Fees. The staff are so accommodating in fact, they accompanied me all the way to the boat! On Boracay, my SEAIR boarding pass also served as a discount and perks card. So if you do take SEAIR, make sure you check what promos are available.

Going back to the Caticlan Airport was a breeze as well. At the Cagban Port, all I had to do was look for the SEAIR table and I was taken care of until I got to the airport. Indeed, SEAIR has positioned itself as the premiere airline to Caticlan/Boracay, where you get great service and really fast flights!

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"It's one of the smoothest flights I've ever had to Boracay" - Chris Tiu on his SEAIR flight last Halloween. Thanks to Choi Eliciario for the photos of the Ateneo Blue Eagles!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boracay: Boracay is just 35 minutes away

The belief that getting a flight to Boracay during peak season weekends is close to impossible is a myth! And I realized that myself after flying to Boracay on several fully-booked weekend flights as a chance passenger.

It was a hectic weekend. I found out last Thursday night that I had to be in Boracay Friday and Saturday night. But I already had commitments Saturday morning. So what was the solution? I was a chance passenger on the 3 p.m. SEAIR flight and that wasn't a problem. Then I was to risk being a chance passenger again for the 6:45 a.m. flight back to Manila the next day, hopefully to get to my 9 a.m. appointment in Makati. It's a good thing SEAIR has 35-minute flights to and from Caticlan.

Then it was another SEAIR flight to Boracay on the same afternoon to catch another event in the evening. I had to be back in Manila on Sunday since I had to catch a flight to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam on Monday!

As planned, I got on the 6:45 a.m. SEAIR flight back to Manila and made it to my 9 a.m. appointment in Makati. I was back at the airport after lunch and got on the 3:00 p.m. SEAIR flight as a chance passenger. The next day, I was back on the 9:30 a.m. SEAIR flight back to Manila, again as a chance passenger. And the first thing I did when I got home was to take a nap!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Boracay: Puka Beach in Boracay

There's more to Boracay than White Beach. Yesterday morning, we were scheduled to go snorkeling and have a lunch picnic in Puka Beach. But since it was raining, that did not materialize. But we went to Puka Beach anyway and had lunch indoors at a nearby restaurant called Tesebel Ihaw-Ihaw.

Puka Beach is named after the puka shells which are abundant in the beach. Puka means "hole" in Hawaiian and these shells are pieces of the cone snail shell and are so named because of the hole which occurs naturally in the shell fragment. They have been popular material for necklaces, bracelets and anklets and there are a lot sold by the beach.

You could see nearby Carabao Island, Romblon which they say is the next big thing. I heard they are planning to build a better airport there to serve Boracay as well as the future development on Carabao Island.

I didn't stay too long since I had to rush back to Manila while the rest of the group stayed behind. So after a souvenir photo, I left for the hotel to get my stuff ready for the trip back.

In Boracay were: Abe Olandres of Yugatech, Lauren Dado of Flail at Life, Noemi Lardizabal-Dado of Touched by an Angel, Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet, Eric Dormido of Byahilo, Gail Villanueva of Kutitots, Marc Villanueva of SheeroMedia, Melo Villareal of Lakbay Pilipinas, Eugene Villar of Lakbayan, Karla Redor of RockersWorld, Ferdinand L. Decena of En Route and Fernando Martinez of ShutterBox. Thanks to Anton for the photo!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Boracay: Cocomangas Boracay delivers pizza!

I was quite worried that I could not get a midnight snack from where I was. It was raining and walking to White Beach to get some grub was out of the question. The restaurants in Diniwid Beach were closed by this time as well. But there was no reason to fret since Cocomangas delivers pizzas up to 2 a.m. anywhere in Boracay!

There were so many kinds to choose from. I asked the lady taking my order to give me a sampling of their best-sellers. But when I found out that their pizzas were the same price for all kinds (XL - PHP482, 16 slices; L - PHP360, 8 slices; and S - PHP228, 4 slices), I got an XL-sized Halo-Halo which was everything on it! And no, I didn't eat the whole pizza. I shared it with Abe, Anton and Lauren.

Cocomangas Pizza
Tel No. +63 36 2884455

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Boracay: Microtel Boracay in Diniwid Beach

Up to now, I can't stop raving about the chiropractic-approved beds of Microtel! I was able to get the much-needed quality sleep worthy of a grand vacation.

As soon as the second batch arrived, we went straight to the ferry that would take us to Boracay. Remember, that there are fees you have to pay including an environmental fee and the terminal fee which has jumped from PHP20 to PHP50. Cabgan is the only gateway to Boracay after the municipal government prohibited the docking of boats at the various beaches to preserve their beauty. It may be an inconvenience for tourists but it's better that way so that the beaches remain pristine.

We took a minicab from the port to Diniwid Beach where Microtel Inn & Suites is located. The only downside of this is we had to deal with all the exhaust from the tricycles. As soon as we arrived, we were given a cold towel, a shell necklace and a welcome drink. Since I was not able to sleep the night before which is usually the case when I have early morning flights, the first thing I did when I got to the room was to check out the famous Microtel bed.

The group had lunch at the hotel restaurant and since everyone was tired, it was free time for the afternoon. While the rest of the bloggers walked to White Beach, I found myself in lala land. And I blame it on the bed! At least I was able to get some sleep.

Anyway, I was up just in time for the sunset. We played some games at the beach before dinner. And after dinner, I was back in lala land again. I had asked the bloggers to wake me up if they were going out but since it started to rain, everyone decided to stay. And the next thing I knew, it was 12 midnight.

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

Friday, January 11, 2008

Boracay: Butterfly garden at Seair Caticlan

Since our group was divided into two flights, and I got pushed forward to the earlier one, we had to wait an hour and thirty minutes for the second batch to arrive. It was a good thing there was a new attraction at the back of the Seair office in Caticlan. So if you're killing time at the Caticlan Airport, check out the butterfly garden.

Boracay: Seair's Dornier 328 plane to Caticlan

I've always wondered how it felt to ride those small commercial aircrafts in the Philippines. I had already taken the ATR42/72 from Guam to Saipan before and was surprised by the smooth ride. That's why the prospect of taking Seair's Dornier 328 plane to Caticlan excited me. And it's the fastest flight to Boracay at 35 minutes.

It was an ambitious gathering of Philippine travel and photo bloggers organized by blogging guru Abe Olandres. We were divided into two flights. A group was scheduled to leave at 7 a.m. while I was with the 8:30 a.m. flight. I chose to arrive at the airport early to avoid rush hour traffic and got there 6:30 a.m. in time to watch the first group board. The next thing I knew, my name was called on the PA system for me to board as well!

Since we were flying at an altitude lower than the regular commercial aircraft, the views were different. We were closer thus to the ground and at the level of many mountain peaks. The views were surreal! The sun was resplendently rising behind Mount Banahaw. And below us was a perfect view of the Tagaytay Ridge and Taal Volcano. We also flew past the grand mountains of Mindoro before reaching Caticlan. The Seair flight is itself a must-try with all these great views!

Adventure Pass
Now this is something I'm getting for the summer break. For P18,500++, you can ride all you can for 45 days on Seair. The first two flights are bookable but the rest are based on seat availability which means you'll be a chance passenger. But with so many great destinations from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, you'll never go wrong with this pass!

South East Asian Airlines (Seair)
Tel No. +63 2 8490100
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