Monday, April 06, 2009

Cavite: Corregidor Island overnight trip via Sun Cruises

Corregidor is not just a memorial to the heroism during the Second World War. Today, it's truly a destination. And I hope it gets more attention. Just two weeks after my recent day-trip to Corregidor, I decided to come back, this time for an overnight trip and more exploration. I tagged along Gideon so he could map out some trekking routes.

I wanted to see all the attractions off the usual tour route, especially the artillery batteries off the beaten track. And when you stay overnight in Corregidor, you can do a lateral tunnel tour in total darkness! And I'll make sure I do that!

We took the first Sun Cruises trip to the island. I slept the whole trip going there and the whole morning at the Corregidor Inn since I did not have any sleep the night before. So Gideon hiked up Malinta Hill on his own.

After lunch, we hired our own vehicle so that we could check out the different artillery batteries at our own pace. First stop was Battery Morrison. The grass was a bit tall and obviously, it wasn't that visited. Battery James is nearby. But what remains is just the concrete structure. It's gun, like in most of the gun batteries near the shore, have been stolen and sold for scrap. It's really sad hearing these stories of theft.

We also visited Battery Way and Battery Hearn which is on the regular tourist route. What people don't know is that Battery Hearn has a twin called Battery Smith. In fact, Hearn was part of Smith before it was renamed Hearn.

We then visited Battery Wheeler which reminded me of Battery Grubbs. Battery Geary is also popular because it still has live ammunition stuck inside it even after it was hit and exploded during the war. Just a few meters away from it is Battery Crockett.

The last Corregidor gun battery we visited today was Battery Ramsey. There was nothing much left of it since it got hit as well during the war. But at least parts of the gun are still there. I took a nap the rest of the afternoon. If you want peace and quiet, Corregidor is definitely a good candidate.

My plan was to join the night tour of Malinta Tunnel lateral tunnels. But that was canceled since it was raining and the other guests at the hotel decided not to push through. So let's just say I got to sleep early that night.

The next day, I was off to more exploration. I finally got to visit Kindley Airfield near the tail of Corregidor Island. It's the site of the infamous Jabidah Massacre which saw dozens of young Muslim trainees slaughtered to protect a military secret. It would have been lost in history had one of the youth not survived to tell the tale.

There was one gun battery with its guns still intact. And that's Battery Cheney. But to get to it, you have to hike a bit and you'll have to go through some tall grass. But that was fine with me. It also reminded me of Grubbs and Crockett.

On the way there, you'll see some Japanese caves by the beach. there are many of these holes all over Corregidor which the Japanese built to protect themselves from attack.

Anyway, I decided to push through with my Malinta Tunnel tour now that it wasn't raining. Even if you do it during the daytime, the place is pitch black. So you could imagine what the soldiers and their families had to go through during the war, especially when there was no power.

It was a good thing I was wearing a hard hat since I bumped my head several times! Some of the tunnels are really narrow and low, especially those which were damaged during the liberation of Corregidor. We got to visit the hospital as well. My guide pointed to a large wooden door with grills which served as a prison for those caught stealing the guns.

The overnight trip was really fun and most definitely worth it. I want to come back again to explore more of the island. Maybe they could establish more trails which people could visit. And I hope Sun Cruises opens up more ferry schedules so that people could visit the island anytime they want.

Part 1: Corregidor Island day trip via Sun Cruises

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pampanga: Visita iglesia to Pampanga churches

When I was still City Tourism Officer of San Fernando, Pampanga, I lamented the fact that the beautiful churches of Pampanga were not given the attention they truly deserve during the Holy Thursday visita iglesia tours. Well, I can say that today that Pampanga is hot on the visita iglesia map!

On top of the list is the Betis Church in Guagua. A National Cultural Treasure, the church is called the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines because of its wall to ceiling mural paintings and its ornate wooden retablo.

You can start your visita iglesia in Lubao Church, the oldest church in Pampanga. From the San Fernando Exit of the NLEX, just drive westward to Lubao. After Lubao, drive eastward along the Jose Abad Santos Highway (Gapan-Olongapo Road) and look for the junction to Sta. Rita town on the left to visit the Sta. Rita Church. After there, you can drive to the Guagua Church, and then to Betis Church.

After Betis, drive along the old National Highway until you reach Bacolor Church. Once the biggest church in Pampanga, it is now half-buried under lahar. But that did not damped the pride of the town in their heritage since they dug up the wonderful retablos and restored them.

After Bacolor, continue your drive along the old National Highway until you reach San Fernando. You'll know you're in San Fernando when you see the chimneys of PASUDECO, the Pampanga Provincial Capitol, and the wonderful ancestral mansions along Consunji Street. Since Holy Thursday is also Araw ng Kagitingan, you might want to make a stopover at the San Fernando Train Station, an important Death March landmark.

Anyway, you'll be able to find the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando really easily. The current interior of the Cathedral was designed by Architect Fernando Ocampo after the church burned down a second time in 1939.

Since you are already in San Fernando, you can have your lunch stop there and try out the great restaurants that serve some of the best Kapampangan fare.

From San Fernando, drive south along MacArthur Highway to the Minalin Church and Apalit Church. Then at the San Simon Interchange, cross above the NLEX eastward to get to the San Luis Church and further on, the Arayat Church. Along the way, you'll see the old facade of the Sta. Ana Church. However, its interior is heavily renovated.

If there's not enough time, you can go straight to Angeles Church north of San Fernando. From there, you could drive to Porac which has two old chapels worth visiting, the Pio Chapel and Hacienda Dolores Chapel. Pio is a bit more accessible. But it's quite a drive to Hacienda Dolores.

You can end your day with dinner in the Clark Freeport area which has a wonderful selection of international cuisine for all. Well, if your stomach is up to it, you can keep on eating in between churches since every town has its own specialty! A visita iglesia in Pampanga is definitely a feast for mind, body and soul!

Related entries
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches
Pisamban... the churches of Pampanga
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia and more Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday

Visita iglesia and more Holy Week practices in the Philippines

Visita iglesia to our Philippine churches has been a part of our lives as Catholic Filipinos. Every Holy Thursday, we visit seven churches, some fourteen, as we reflect on Christ's passion and death. I've done a whole lot of articles on Holy Week including Holy Week practices in the Philippines, which discusses Holy Week practices you could witness if you're at the right place at the right time.

Anyway, below are even more articles I had previously written on Holy Week. I'll be in San Fernando again this Good Friday.

Holy Thursday
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday - In this article, I gave suggestions on churches to visit in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Quezon. I also suggested some popular routes including Pampanga Day Trip, Laguna de Bay Loop and the Mount Banahaw Loop.
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches - In this article, I focused on heritage churches, including those up north.
Visita iglesia to Metro Manila churches
- This is a fairly comprehensive list of heritage churches in Metro Manila which you can visit.
Visita iglesia to Makati City churches
Visita iglesia to Batangas churches
Visita iglesia to Pampanga churches
Visita iglesia around Laguna de Bay churches
Visita iglesia to Southern Cebu churches
Visita iglesia to Northern Cebu churches

Visita iglesia in Leyte and Southern Leyte

Visita iglesia to Western Pangasinan churches

Good Friday
Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga
Crucifixion rites held in San Pedro Cutud every Good Friday

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Around Clark: C' Italian Dining and Azur Bistro & Bar

When in Clark Freeport, make sure to try out the many wonderful restaurants that offer a fine selection of international cuisine. After our visits to El Kabayo and Puning Hot Spring, I brought the Qtube crew to C' Italian Dining for lunch. No doubt, this is the best Italian restaurant, if not the best restaurant in town!

Of course, Chef Chris Locher served us their world famous panizza (these are pizza strips you roll with alfalfa and arugula), their homemade sausages, wood fire roasted chicken and pasta. Great selection indeed! If you want to taste the best of C' Italian Dining, join our Mothers' Day tour on May 9!

Anyway, for dinner we trooped to Azur Bistro and Bar, an up and coming restaurant and bar at Enclave along Friendship Highway. With me was Claude Tayag and Meng Tayag-McTavish who also wanted to try it out. Pampanga is really home to so many good restaurants!

Each of us had something different. We ordered (1) Meat Pie Salad, (2) 6-hour Slow Cooked Pork, (3) U.S. Certified Angus Beef Onglet, (4) Lamb Sausage, Mushroom and Tomato Pasta, (5) Corned Pork, Sausage, Black Pudding and Cannellini Beans, (6) Chilean Sea Bass, and (7) Braised Ox Tongue, Mushrooms a Jillo. What a feast!

Part 1: Around Clark: El Kabayo & Puning Hot Spring

More ultimate culinary and heritage tours from Ultimate Philippines!

We've got a great line-up of tours for Summer 2009! Aside from the usual Pampanga and Tagaytay culinary tours (better book now if you're interested since we get fully-booked really early), Ultimate Philippines is offering three single run ultimate culinary, heritage and beach tours this April and May.

Ultimate Culinary & Beach Tour of Zambales & Pangasinan
Frolick under the Philippine sun as we visit three of the best beaches along the western coast of North Luzon. We drive up to Zambales and take a boat to its best kept secrets: Anawangin Cove and Capones Island. At night, we will watch a classical concert at Casa San Miguel. Then we troop to Bolinao and visit its famous lighthouse and enjoy the sunset at Patar Beach. For our last day, We'll boat around the Hundred Islands and enjoy the white sands of Quezon Island.

The best part of the trip is savoring the culinary surprises and treasures of Zambales and Pangasinan. We will enjoy leisurely picnic beach lunch in Anawangin Cove, sunset dinner in Bolinao and barbecue lunch at the Hundred Islands.

Tour will last from Saturday, April 25, 4 a.m. to Monday, April 27, 7 p.m. The tour fee is PHP15,000 per person all inclusive of transportation, overnight accommodation at the best resort in Pundaquit (Punta de Uian), overnight accommodation at the best resort in Bolinao (Puerto del Sol), boat rides to the Hundred Islands, Anawangin Cove and Capones Islan, full board and all meals, plus many surprises.

Ultimate Culinary & Heritage Tour of Pagudpud & Vigan
In Ilocos, nature and history is intertwined but at Ultimate Philippines, we think this is combination best savored with bagnet and beer so we're exploring this provincial belle - our style. Let's journey onto the Northern plains and take a time-warp through the colonial city of Vigan. We'll walk through cobbles, munching our way through the town's traditional street fare, from yummy empanadas to tasty longganisas.. More historical bites as we take a peek at the life of ex-strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the town of Batac and admire two masterpieces of Ilocos' unique 'earthquake baroque' architecture- Paoay and Santa Maria Church. Capping off, we'll surf through the waves of Maira-ira beach in Pagudpud ending our journey in time to join the revelries of the annual fiesta in Vigan.

We leave on Thursday, April 30, 9 p.m. and will get back on Sunday, May 3, very late in the eveing or early morning. May 1 is a holiday so no need to take a leave. The tour fee is PHP15,000 per person all inclusive of bus transportation (one can opt to fly for additional fees), overnight accommodation at the best resort in Pagudpud (Kapuluan Vista Resort), overnight accommodation at the heart of the heritage town of Vigan (Vigan Plaza Hotel), full board and all meals, plus many surprises.

Ultimate Pahiyas and Culinary Tour of Laguna and Quezon
It's fiesta time in this month of May and what better way to drink, eat and be merry as we head south to explore charming Quezon province. It's the best time of the year as the as join in the revelry and celebrate feast of San Isidro de Labradorl! First off, to the town of Lucban and Pahiyas Festival where we'll feast our eyes over a smorgasbord of food, music, artistry and local color! Then on to the neighboring town of Sariaya to join the street celebrations of the Agawan Festival. Along the way, we'll follow the Viaje del Sol and discover the the quaint dining establishments, meet the personalities and immerse ourselves in true Tagalog hospitality!

The tour leaves on Thursday, May 14, 5:30 a.m. and returns on Friday, May 15, 10:30 p.m. The tour fee is PHP8,000 per person all inclusive of transportation, overnight accommodation at the best bed & breakfast place in San Pablo, Laguna (Casa San Pablo), full board and all meals, plus many surprises.

We can only accommodate a maximum of 20 people for Zambales/Pangasinan Tour and Ilocos Tour and 30 people for the Pahiyas Tour. So book now beacuse slots are filled-up really fast. For inquiries on itineraries, please email us at For bookings, reserve your slots at

To those asking about Batanes tour in May, sorry guys but it's fully-booked. We'll make an announcement as to when the next tour is.
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