Friday, July 10, 2009

Pancit Batil Patung of Tuguegarao, Cagayan

Pancit Batil Patung or Batil Patong is a noodle dish unique to Tuguegarao, Cagayan. It's something you have to try if ever you get to visit the warmest city in the country.

I got to try the one at Paul Louis in front of the old city hall. I asked if I could see the pancit being made in the kitchen. I guess the reason behind the name is that the sahog is simply placed on top of the noodles.

The meats include ground pork, beef or possibly even carabeef. They also add sauteed vegetables, crushed chicharon and fried egg. If you get the mega or jumbo size, they throw in liver and hotdogs. It's PHP40 for the super size which I had, and the mega and jumbo are PHP50 and PHP60 respectively.

They usually serve chopped onions and calamansi with the pancit. Make sure to ask the servers how to mix the onions, calamansi, vinegar and soy sauce with the pancit.

Gretchen's is another pancitan in front of the old city hall. Another suggested pancitan is Long Life in Barangay Tanza in front of Panacal Village. In many of these restaurants, they also sell Pancit Cabagan, which is the native pancit of Cabagan, Isabela but very popular in Tuguegarao.

Main article: Pancit, mami and other noodles dishes of the Philippines

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tarlac: Pinatubo Spa Town and more from Capas, Tarlac

Pinatubo Spa Town is among the best places to get a shiatsu massage. I've been there twice and both shiatsu sessions were unbelievably great, especially after a tiring trek to Mount Pinatubo, or in our case, a medical and dental mission in Barangay Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.

The complete spa treatment has three components. The first is the sulfur sand shower where you are buried up to the neck under volcanic sand from Mt. Pinatubo for 30 minutes. They say it's good for the skin, opens up the pores, and you release toxins while you sweat. But isn't sweat the same with or without being buried under the sand?

After taking a cold shower, the next component is the sulfur mud pack. It's actually a funny feeling since you basically cover yourself with volcanic mud and wait for it to dry up, again to open the pores.

Finally, after rinsing off and one last shower, the last component, and the best if I may say so, is a shiatsu massage treatment in an open air pavilion in the compound. Each component is individually priced at PHP500. But you can get all three at PHP1000, which is quite good a bargain. The lunch is also good and filling. But it's PHP350 per head.

Anyway, Tambayayong 2002, my Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) batch, organized a medical and dental mission last July 4 in Capas. We realized after looking at the registration that we serviced over 500 patients!

Thank you to Mayor Rey Catacutan of Capas, Tarlac for being such a gracious host and for taking us around. We got to visit the New Asia Golf Course and the Capas National Shrine after closing hours!

Thank you so much to all those who attended and contributed, especially those who donated funds and medicines (we got so much and have supply for our next one in Novenber). I specifically want to thank Unilab whom I personally begged at the last minute. They gave us tons of Diatabs, Biogesic, Medicol and Hydrite.

Thank you to the doctors and interns who attended: Joseph Lachica, Ryan Guinaran, Tina Langit (all three were chairpersons of the UP Med Student Council at one time), Gideon Lasco and Ria Santos. Thank you as well to the Strada Club of the Philippines for the dentists. I hope I didn't miss anyone!

Related entry
Trekking and 4x4 to Mt. Pinatubo

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pampanga: Apu Iro Fluvial Procession in Apalit, Pampanga

When I was still fresh out of college, I'd try to attend all of the festivals in Pampanga. One of those annual trips was to the town of Apalit every June 28 to 30 for the Apu Iro Fluvial Procession or libad.

While the actual feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul is on June 29, the fluvial festivities are held the day before the fiesta, when the centuries-old ivory image of St. Peter or Apu Iro (sometimes Apung Iro or Apung Iru) is brought from the chapel in Sulipan to the town church; and the day after the fiesta, when the same image is returned to the chapel, in grand and festive fluvial processions along the Rio Grande de Pampanga.

As soon as the image of Apu Iro nears the decorated pagoda, a mad splashing and water fight along the river banks ensues. The Apu Iro Fluvial Procession is one of the many water festivals of the Philippines (and Southeast Asia). So expect to get really wet!

Notice also the Knights of St. Peter in yellow uniforms swimming in the river, tugging onto the rope and pulling the pagoda towards its destination.

It would be great though if you know someone in Apalit who will be renting out a boat since the view from the water is much better and you can witness the whole procession. I wanted to attend this year since I have not seen it for quite some time now. But unfortunately, I was doing my rounds of North Philippines. So I asked for photos from the Center for Kapampangan Studies instead.

Main article: Philippine festivals and other cultural celebrations

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Iglesia ni Cristo Day is a special working holiday!

Just to let everyone know, July 27, 2009 was declared Iglesia ni Cristo Day commemorating the founding anniversary of the sect. The question is whether it is a special working holiday or a non-working holiday since the Inquirer and Philippine Star are reporting it differently. If it is, that adds to the long weekend calendar for this year. For more on this year's long weekends, read Philippine holidays and long-weekend schedule for 2009.

Update: I contacted a friend in Malacanang. Sorry people, but it's a working holiday. I was told the PDI print version also says that. Now there goes the credibility of!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Alternate route to Baguio

Alternate routes to Baguio are being sought due to the worsening traffic along MacArthur Highway. I don't know for how many years they've been trying to repair the roads in Urdaneta, Pangasinan. But they never finish it. And it gives me the impression that they don't intend to and that they'll keep constructing until they milk government coffers dry. As a result, traffic there is horrible and it can delay you for as much as an hour especially during the day time.

One option is the Magilas Trail via Rosales, Sta. Maria, Asingan and back to MacArthur Highway at Binalonan. This bypasses the traffic in Villasis and Urdaneta City.

But another option is to take an alternate route from the Tarlac City SCTEx Exit itself. Instead of making a left back to MacArthur Highway, I made a right and took the alternate route to Baguio via La Paz, Victoria, Guimba, Cuyapo connecting to the Magilas Trail in Rosales. This skips traffic along MacArthur Highway from Tarlac City all the way to Binalonan, Pangasinan.

It's a bit longer but faster. Roads are relatively good plus vehicles are scarce. So there's less stress driving since I didn't have to worry about driving in crawling traffic or overtaking slow vehicles except for the occasional tricycles which occur much, much less than along MacArthur Highway. Travel time from the Tarlac City SCTEx Exit to MacArthur Highyway in Binalonan (97.4 kilometers total) via this alternate route is under two hours.

What's good about the route is that it's clearly marked by directional signs both ways. On the way to Baguio, just make sure you pick the route via Guimba as you exit Victoria since the other option via Pura, Ramos and Paniqui will bring you back to MacArthur Highway and Urdaneta City traffic.

Remember though that this alternate route is good only for the day time when traffic is bad along MacArthur Highway. Also make sure you're gas tanks are full and that you've eaten or have supplies on board since there's nothing much along the way. In fact, you don't even pass by town propers except in Victoria, Tarlac and Rosales and Binalonan, Pangasinan.

Going up Baguio, Kennon Road is my choice during the day time and when it's not raining. It's shorter, faster and very scenic. I enjoy the view of its many waterfalls which become all the more evident after it rains.

Sadly, GI sheets started to mushroom all over the place. There are now two houses at the base of Bridal Veil Falls destroying the view. And Camp 6 in Tuba, Benguet is the most horrible! The local government of Tuba should start doing something to protect the wonderful view of this historic road.

Also remember that there is ongoing road rehabilitation in the Camp 8 segment. So Kennon Road is one way in that area. So going back down to Manila, you'll have to pass by Marcos Highway or enter Kennon Road via Loakan.

Related entry
Waterfalls along Kennon Road
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