Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cebu: Lechon, chicharon and more from Carcar

Carcar is the pork capital of Cebu if I may say so. The town is ever so popular for its lechon and chicharon. And I found myself on my way there again.

From the North Bus Terminal in Mandaue, me and my tokayo, Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks, took a cab to the South Bus Terminal to catch a bus to Carcar where we were going to stay for the night. We were lucky since Jerry Alfafara, president of the Carcar Heritage Conservation Society, invited us to stay at his ancestral house. It was a two hour bus ride to Carcar. And as soon as we arrived, I noticed immediately one of the products which Carcar is famous for, chicharon!

We walked over to the Noel Ancestral House where Jerry was waiting for us. After a short tour of the house (which I visited in 2006) and settling down in our room for the night, we had dinner. Lights out was early and we stayed in the room the whole night, scared that we might meet the other inhabitants of the house which have become part of the house's story. We survived the night without seeing or hearing any of them.

The next morning, we took a walk around Carcar on the way to the Carcar Public Market where we planned to have breakfast. I didn't realize that there were more old houses further down the streets.

At the market, we were greeted by the many lechon stalls which have made Carcar so prominent in the "heirarchy of pork" as Anthony Bourdain puts it. Yes, you could have lechon for breakfast! But we didn't. Instead we had hot chocolate and suman. But I'd like to thank Kagawad Bebie for giving us some lechon. Daghang salamat!

We also visited a place where they make chicharon. They showed us the tub of lard they use to fry the pig skin in. Now talk about first class cholesterol!

Carcar is indeed at town with so much character. I hope the local government of Carcar realizes that and does not bastardize Carcar beyond recognition.

Part 1: Bantayan Island, Cebu is rich in heritage and great beaches!
Part 2: Visita iglesia in Northern Cebu
Part 4: Visita iglesia in Southern Cebu

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bohol: Panglao Island and Chocolate Hills

Panglao Beach looks so much better during low-tide since the expanse of white sand is wider. The view of the beach during breakfast was relaxing. Too bad we couldn't go for a swim since we had to start driving early. Today, we were covering the eastern part of Bohol, most of which I have not seen.

Another thing I learned, thanks to this Honda City test drive, is that it is more convenient to rent a car if you want to visit these towns off the regular tourist route. I would have wanted to check out the church of Dauis in Panglao, as well as the many other colonial churches we saw along the way including those in Dimiao and Duero. We could not stop though since we had a tight schedule to follow. At least I know now which towns to visit if ever I go back to Bohol.

We drove as far as Trinidad in the north before driving down to Carmen for our first and only major stop of the day, lunch at the Chocolate Hills view deck. So much has been said about the Chocolate Hills, a National Geological Monument, so I won't talk about it anymore. But few people know that there is a hotel and restaurant at the view deck. So if you want to experience sunrise by the Chocolate Hills, that is possible.

After lunch, we made a brief stop at the Man-made Forest for some pictures before rushing back to Tagbilaran to catch our flight. It was a really hectic day but a lot of fun. Thanks to Honda for the invitation!

Part 1: Honda City test drive in Bohol
Part 2: Bohol by car (Day 1): Loboc River Cruise, Baclayon Church and Panglao Island

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ivan Henares meets Multiply Founder & CEO Peter Pezaris

I had dinner with Multiply Founder and CEO Peter Pezaris and David Hersh, VP of Business Development, at Power Plant Mall this evening. They met with ten power users of Multiply to give them feedback on Multiply. Did you know that the Philippines accounts for 30 percent of Multiply users worldwide? Glad to be on the list! More pictures in Kids Ahoy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bohol: Loboc River Cruise, Baclayon Church and Panglao Island

The last time I was in Bohol, I relied mainly on public transportation to get me around. It took quite a while to wait for the next jeep or bus, but I was able to cover a lot of ground. So when Honda invited us to test drive the new City in Bohol, I immediately said yes.

We arrived in Tagbilaran mid-morning. I was still groggy after that power nap on the flight (didn't get any sleep the night before as always) and continued sleeping in the van that took us to the Clarin House in Loay where we were going to have our orientation and snacks. So when we finally arrived, I was still disoriented.

The Clarin House is a heritage house declared by the National Historical Institute. I've seen it from the outside but this time, we were given a tour of the inside by the owner, a former mayor of Loay and descendant of the Clarin senators. I enjoyed the snacks they served in Cafe Olegario which consisted of local Boholano treats such as puto maya (now I know where "gaya-gaya, puto maya" came from) which is glutinous or malagkit rice with ginger served with hot chocolate; malagkit (the local kalamay or rice cake), torta boholana (similar to mamon and ensaymada) and kamote fries with latik dip.

After the briefing, we were given the keys to the Honda City for Day 1 of our test drive. Our first stop was the captive display of tarsiers in Loboc for an encounter with the smallest primate in the Philippines (they are primates contrary to what the tour guides and some people have been saying). Also on display are a pair of flying lemurs and some monkeys. Captive displays of these primates are actually an issue in Bohol since misinformed tourists can cause harm to these animals aside from the fact that they are not allowed to roam in their natural habitat.

From there, we drove to the new Loboc River Cruise Terminal. I looked forward to this trip because of the food, the music and the pristine Loboc River. But it was a shock to me that they installed lamp posts on both sides of the river bank! I was told the lights serve as a backdrop to an enchanting evening cruise. But during the day time, it looks horrible!

The lamps stick out like sore thumbs and don't blend with the natural surroundings. What's is more disheartening is that the wiring is exposed and you can see the orange PVC casings of the wires nailed to the rocks and trees! They also uglified the small waterfalls area by building conrete posts on it.

Another new attraction I don't remember seeing in 2006 is the ukulele ensemble that entertains visitors when boats make their way back to the terminal. Each boat docks at the makeshift stage that houses the ensemble of locals who serenade guests as they play their ukuleles. Now that's tourism creating jobs!

After the cruise, we made our way to Panglao Island where we were staying for the night. On the way, we stopped by the Baclayon Church and the Blood Compact Monument.

We checked-in at the Amorita Resort in the afternoon to give us time to relax and enjoy Panglao. I walked around the beach for a while. But since it was high tide and I forgot to bring my flip-flops, I decided to take continue my nap. I woke up just in time for our alfresco dinner by the beach.

Part 1: Honda City test drive in Bohol
Part 3: Bohol by car (Day 2): Panglao Island and Chocolate Hills

Bohol: Honda City test drive in Bohol

I got invited by Honda to test drive the new City in Bohol! We were given a chance to drive both the 1.5E and the 1.3S variants. Our route covered half the island and we got to stop over at Bohol's major tourist attractions. I'll tell you more about the trip in a while.

Part 2: Bohol by car (Day 1): Loboc River Cruise, Baclayon Church and Panglao Island
Part 3: Bohol by car (Day 2): Panglao Island and Chocolate Hills
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