Thursday, November 08, 2007

Boracay: Hello Boracay!

It was a spur of the moment decision. I was sporting a fever and a sore throat in the morning so I wasn't able to wake-up as early as planned. So I missed the early morning bus to Kalibo. I was thinking of exploring Aklan when I decided, what the heck, I'm on a bus that goes to Caticlan anyway, so why not ride until the last stop. So I did and I finally set foot on Boracay!

At the ferry terminal, several fees were levied including a PHP50 environmental fee, PHP20 Caticlan Terminal Fee and PHP19.50 for the ferry ride from Caticlan to Cabgan in Boracay. It was just a few minutes and I was there in no time. I had booked a hotel with the help of the tourism office in the terminal. Since I didn't want to spend much, I got a room in a place called Villa de Oro in between Boat Station 2 & 3. For a non-aircon room, I spent PHP800 plus an 8% credit card surcharge (which I know shouldn't be but what the heck).

I had my photo taken with one of the Boracay sandcastles which are done by enterprising locals. After settling down, I went for a swim while enjoying the Boracay sunset. I had dinner in the resort and then walked all the way to Station 1 to check out the night scene. There weren't that many people since it was a weekday and the sembreak was already over. It was amusing seeing ATM machines and a Smart Wireless Center amongst the numerous bars, restaurants and resorts in this world-famous white sand beach.

I decided to sleep early since I still wasn't feeling well but was roused later in the evening by my sore throat. Since I was hungry, I decided to go for a snack and settled for a burger and fries. There are so many establishments open 24 hours and every possible need you could think of is conveniently available on this beach.

The next day, I had to leave early to catch the opening cocktails of the 2nd Seminar on Philippine Towns and Cities in Iloilo City. I made a brief stop in Kalibo to check out the heritage structures then it was off to Iloilo City. More photos in Multiply.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Iloilo: Seafood binge in Breakthrough Restaurant, Iloilo City

I'm in Iloilo City again. I arrived at the new Iloilo Airport this afternoon from Cebu. Bernard met up with me there and we took a cab to the city proper. I wasn't feeling that well so after a brief stopover at the old Iloilo City Hall which is now part of UP Visayas, I went back to the hotel and took a nap.

In the evening, Isa Silva and family took me to Breakthrough Restaurant in the Arevalo District for dinner. I'm not that fond of seafoods but it was a seafood binge for me. We had abalone sashimi, talaba and the pricey diwal shells for dinner among others. Everything is fresh and you can catch your dinner yourself. The restaurant is also by the beach so the breeze adds to the ambiance. After dinner, we had some dessert in Smallville.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cebu: More heritage in Cebu City

I've already seen the major attractions of Cebu City before. So this time, we went around looking for old houses. Arnold first took me to the house of President Sergio Osmena which was bought by CAP. Sadly, they built a building right smack beside it ruining the proportion of open space around it. On one hand, I laud CAP for preserving old structures and opening them as free museums to the public. But on the other hand, they were very ill-advised with renovations and additions to the structures.

We then drove around the Sepulvida Street and Ramos areas since there are a number of colonial houses there. Among the places we checked out was the Archbishop's Palace and the Borromeo House. We also dropped by Parian to check out the Yap-Sandiego House and Casa Gorordo, a wonderful house museum restored by the Aboitiz Foundation.

Lunch was at a restored residence called Mooon Cafe. This was a wonderful example of adaptive reuse of a heritage structure. Many of the items in the menu are Mexican-inspired. For lunch, I had nachos and a burrito.

In the afternoon, we visited some institutional buildings. I have seen the Cebu Capitol from the outside, but it was my first time to enter. And lo and behold, there was a grand ballroom inside! Wow! At least this elegant feature of the building is still intact. Although there are layers of the usual kitsch decor and fixings typical of government offices, there is still hope if Governor Gwen Garcia has the interiors restored properly just like in Pangasinan.

From the capitol, we walked to the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, another heritage government building.

For dinner, I met up with my Cebu-based brods at Cafe Laguna in Ayala Center. Tomorrow, I take a flight to Iloilo.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cebu: Church heritage museums in Cebu City

I'm back in Cebu City to jump-start the HCS Youth - Cebu Chapter. Indeed, young people are taking the lead in the campaign to preserve our national heritage. It was a morning flight so I had the afternoon to go around. Our youth chapter president in Cebu, Arnold Sancover, met up with me at my hotel and we dropped by the Cathedral Museum of Cebu which is under restoration. The damage that had been inflicted on the old convent from years of misinformed improvements was slowly being erased with proper restoration. On top of things is Cebu-based restoration architect Melva Java.

At the museum, we were welcomed by Trizer Dale Mansueto of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church. He will be responsible for organizing a chapter of HCS Youth in the University of San Carlos.

We then proceeded to the museum of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. While there, I noticed several ladies wearing white blouses and yellow skirts selling candles to churchgoers. It turns out, if you buy candles from them, as part of the service, they will dance and chant a prayer for you to the Sto. Nino before handing the candles over to you. So I bought some and whispered my petition to the lady who in turn started chanting a personalized prayer for me while dancing. After the prayer, she handed the candles over to me so that I could light them in a designated area outside the gates of the basilica.

Anyway, I didn't stay up late and I returned to my hotel to get some rest since just like my Leyte trip the week before, I didn't get much sleep while waiting for my flight. Since my hotel is in the vicinity of Fuente Osmena, I took some night shots. It was a pity I was too tired to have dinner in the New Larsian.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pampanga: The Ulitmate Kapampangan Show-off!

Today, we offered our first tour offering, a high-end Pampanga food tour brought to you by Our Awesome Planet, Ivan About Town, Old Manila Walks and Manila Boy. Breakfast was at Everybody's Cafe where we had tsokolateng batirul and Imang Salud's ensaymadas, pindang damulag, longganiza among many others.

We visited the lantern factory of Rolan Quiambao which was abuzz with activity. Then it was a drive around the San Fernando heritage district before proceeding to the Betis and Bacolor Churches.

Lunch was at Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung. We spent four hours eating!!! Our next trip will be different and it's scheduled on December 15 with a special treat in the evening, the Giant Lantern Festival!

The Ulitmate Kapampangan Show-off!
On December 15, let's journey to the Central Luzon heartland as we immerse ourselves in things Kapampangan! From Baroque to betute, it's a fun-filled day as we poke around and get intimate with the very best of this province's cultural offerings. We'll gawk at the jewel-box of a church in Betis while wading through the half-buried town of Bacolor. We'll stuff ourselves silly with the best Kapampangan fare by one of the country's best known Pampango chefs! To it cap-off, we'll have front-row view of the most dazzling display of Kapampangan artistry - the Giant Lantern Festival of San Fernando! A tour screaming with Pampanga's pride! There are just 35 slots so book now by e-mailing

The Tour Experience: Betis Church, Bacolor Church, Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung, Pampanga Pasalubong Shops, Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) in San Fernando, and featuring our own version of the bento box for dinner: the Cabalento Box!!!
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