Monday, August 27, 2007

Guimaras: Island-hop to Guimaras

For our last day in Iloilo, we decided to visit the island province next door, Guimaras.

We were at the Ortiz Port near Ateneo de Iloilo at about 9 a.m. and from there, we took a 15-minute pump boat to Jordan for PHP11. We had arranged for a minicab to take us around for PHP1000 (they have rates at the tourism office at the port based on distance) since you need to have your own vehicles to check out the sights.

Our first stop was the OLP Trappist Monastery in Jordan where one could buy various products, mostly made from mangoes, such as jam, yema, candies, tarts, bars, piaya, and many more. We then proceeded to Alubihod Beach in Nueva Valencia for a swim in the waters of Guimaras. Don't worry about the oil spill since it's in a different part of the island.

After an hour of swimming, we were off to the Navalas Church in Buenavista, the oldest Church in the island. Although the facade is perfectly preserved, the other parts are totally gone (walls and interior) as a result of renovations by several priests (as always). Why can't they just preserve these old churches, especially since this seemed to be the only one in Guimaras.

Nearby is the Roca Encantada Heritage House owned by the Lopez Family. We were lucky enough to be given permission to enter the premises. From afar, I thought it was a modern vacation house until I saw the marker. I could not understand how this modernized house got the seal of approval of the National Historical Institute for Heritage House. There are fewer traces of the original features of the house. With all their wealth, I hope the Lopezes restore even just the exterior of the house back to the way it looked before so that it lives up to the prestige of the NHI marker. I also hope they install the marker in a better way since it was just attached to a piece of wood. Markers like these should be screwed to a hard surface like a wall.

But the setting of the house was so picturesque with the balconies offering a 180-degree view of the sea, Siete Pecados Islands and its lighthouse, and the nearby islands of Panay and Negros.

We had to rush back to Iloilo City since we had one last stop, Breakthrough Restaurant in Arevalo District, which is very popular for its seafoods. It was a treat of Danya's family. After a sumptuous feast, we made our way to the Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan. This new airport shames our crummy Manila Domestic Airport. And mind you, we paid a terminal fee of PHP30 compared to the shabby Manila Domestic's PHP200.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Iloilo: Walking tour of old Jaro

After the activity, I proceeded to Jaro to meet up with Eugene Jamerlan of the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage and Conservation Council (ICCHCC) who took me and HCS Youth members Bernard Arellano and Gian Alvarez on a walking tour of Jaro. We first entered the Locsin House and walked around the plaza towards the Magdalena Jalandoni House.

We also passed by the Old Jaro City Hall which is now a police station. Before Jaro and the other districts of Iloilo City were merged together, Jaro was a city itself. Of course there's the Ledesma Mansion, one might say a story of stupidity. They thought that there was treasure buried in front of the mansion and started to dig. As a result, the facade of the mansion collapsed. They did not realize that the treasure was their house.

On the way, we bought some Iloilo bibingka from a street vendor. These are flat pancakes about two inches in diameter sold in paper bags of 10 pieces for PHP20. I really like trying out the local street food since it gives you a feel of the locality.

We also visited the ancestral home of Marikit Javellana which is now in a rundown area of Jaro. How sad it is to see how these grand streets have deteriorated through the years.

Our last stop is the Lizares Mansion which is now the Angelicum School. We got to check out the interiors as well. The grand ballroom inside is now a chapel. But despite the years of wear and tear, you can still see its former grandeur.

I went shopping at the Original Biscocho House since I am a fan of their butterscotch. I was introduced to these baked delights way back in high school by my friend Babits Guadarrama who is a granddaughter of the owner if I'm not mistaken. The are more goodies inside and to me, it's a must for pasalubongs.

I then met up with the rest of the Ateneo people at SM City Iloilo since Francis Trenas was treating the Jesuits and us to dinner at his David's Tea House. After that sumptuous dinner, the Jesuits dropped us off at Smallville again where we had some drinks. More photos in Multiply.

Iloilo: New chapters in Iloilo

Today, we launched the Ateneo Alumni Association - Iloilo Chapter at the Ateneo de Iloilo campus. Of course, Iloilo City's top Atenean, Mayor Jerry Trenas, was there to grace the occasion. To all the alumni of the Ateneo de Manila University based in Iloilo, you can contact Danya Jacomille at (0917) 3000030 to join the chapter.

We will be in Davao City on September 29 to launch the AAA chapter there. Calling all Ateneo de Manila alumni in the Davao area, do join the fun!

That same day, we also created the HCS Youth - Iloilo Chapter. Elected president was Gian Carlo Alvarez of Central Philippine University. Calling all young heritage enthusiasts and advocates in Iloilo, you can contact Bernie Arellano at (0916) 3820555 to be part of the group. They've in fact launched their first project, a heritage blog. Explore the old world charm and the rich cultural heritage of the city and the province of Iloilo and Guimaras by visiting Panubli-on: The Iloilo Heritage Blog.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Iloilo & Capiz: Seafood binge in Capiz

I flew to Iloilo today to attend tomorrow's launching of the Ateneo Alumni Association - Iloilo Chapter. Our flight arrived at the new Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo at 6 a.m. We decided to proceed first to our hotel in Iloilo City to drop off our stuff.

Since Sta. Barbara and Pavia were along the way, we decided to pass by to check out their churches. We had to pay PHP200 for a taxi since the new airport is several towns away from Iloilo City.

Before proceeding to the bus station for Roxas City, we had batchoy for breakfast at Ted's. The bus to Roxas was about two hours and costs PHP113. We arrived at 11:30 a.m. and went straight to the Baybayon Seafood Plaza in Baybay Beach to savor the seafood. Capiz claims to be the Seafood Capital of the Philippines.

The food was great and really cheap! We were shocked our bill was just PHP334. The small batya of talaba (oysters) was just PHP25; scallops were PHP5 a piece; the big pusit was just PHP40 a stick; cagaycay (shells) for the soup was PHP35; the slice of blue marlin was PHP80 and the kilawin was just PHP25 a serving. The non-seafoods include pork barbeque at PHP10 a stick and tayuba (liempo) at PHP35.

From Baybay, we took photos at the center of Roxas City, where you can find the Capiz Provincial Capitol, the Cathedral and Panublion Museum, a water tank which was converted into a museum. We then took a jeep to the town of Pan-ay to check out the church and the largest bell in Asia (the third largest in the world). The Pan-ay Church is a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark.

We then went back to Roxas City, and took a bus back to Iloilo City. Traffic was bad when we got back so we didn't have much time to rest before dinner with the Ateneo alumni. My SSEAYP batchmate, Winwin Sanchez, dropped by the hotel to say hi. Then the group of Tito Chito Tinsay, Danya Jacomille and Pam Go arrived to pick us up for our dinner at the Mango Tree Restaurant, owned by Ateneans as well.

The ambiance of the restaurant was great. They have a large garden at the back which one could use for functions. Don't forget to try out their sizzling bulalo steak and their frozen mango iced tea which I liked very much.

If you thought the night was over, it wasn't! The group proceeded to Smallville to hang out. Smallville rocks! This is the new hip nightlife area of Iloilo City. We didn't stay up too late since the launch was the next day. More photos in Multiply.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ifugao: Restore the Ifugao Rice Terraces before it's too late

We seem to forget there is a delicate balance between man and nature that needs to be preserved. Such a balance was close to perfect in the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras until neglect came into the picture. I've always lamented the fact that the Banaue Rice Terraces are now the Banaue House Terraces with so many unsightly structures built on them. I understand the need for more homes in the area to shelter the growing population. But can't they be built the traditional way so as not to destroy the landscape, the very cultural landscape which gives them funds to build their new structures in the first place?

The UNESCO has spoken: restore the Ifugao Rice Terraces or it's out of the UNESCO World Heritage List! Those shanties and other unsightly buildings must go! If new structures must be built, let them mimic the traditional Ifugao homes with cogon roofs and wooden walls. In fact, although it may be artificial, I feel covering all those structures with cogon would make a big difference. Or maybe the architects of the UAP can propose designs for affordable houses similar to the traditional ones which would give the Ifugao modern amenities but still preserve the cultural landscape. What do you think?

But in the long run, to preserve these terraces, we must endeavor to preserve the way of life which built them. That is tall order given the gradual growth and development these communities are undergoing. But it is one that has to be accomplished to save us from international embarrassment. Check out this article from GMANews.TV:

Unesco to RP: Restore Ifugao terraces or it's off heritage list
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) on Thursday said the scenic Ifugao Rice Terraces in the Cordilleras was at risk of being stricken off the World's Heritage List should the Philippines fail to restore it in two years.

Carmen Padilla, commissioner of the Unesco National Commission of the Philippines (Unacom), advised the government to take immediate measures to preserve and prevent further deterioration of the terraces, now included in Unesco's "Danger List" of heritage sites.

In a media forum at the La Dulce Fontanana in Greenhills in San Juan City, Padilla scored the construction of shanties and other structures on the centuries-old rice terraces in the upland Cordillera region.

Radio station dzBB quoted Padilla as saying that the structures may deface the site should an earthquake rock the region.

Other factors cited by the committee as contributing to the site's deterioration are the rising unemployment rate among farmers in the area as well as the deforestation activities in the land. Read more...

Taste of Asia Bloggers Meet
I arrived really late since I came from another event. More than half of the bloggers had left already. But at least the travel bloggers had fun. Here's myself, Anton of Our Awesome Planet, Ivan ManDy of Old Manila Walks, Eric of, and Nina of in the CliqueBooth.

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