Archive for March, 2009

menu for living the life at bantayan island

Posted in artifacts, food, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by mijodo

deliciously grilled fresh scallops

Puso (4 pcs) – P8.00

Petso (2) – P50.00

Chorizo (2) – P30.00

80z Pepsi (3) – 30.00

Total – P118.00

Yups, that’s what the  total bill is  for a late lunch at the dining area of Aling Maribel near the market at Bantayan proper.  And that is good for two people. Amazingly, not bad.

The food stalls there serve different grilled seafood and rice packed inside coconut palm leaves (puso).

Bantayan is the northern most island of Cebu. And there are three municipalities which qualities are different from each other. Sta. Fe has the powdery white sand beaches to boast about.  Bantayan proper has its 430 year old church that truly impresses. And Madridejos has the magnificent sunset view to wow its guests. 

Bantayan Island is a three hour trip from the Metropolis of Cebu. Take a Ceres bus at the North Bus Terminal or even the faster van for hire at SM Cebu to the wharf of Hagnaya. Then ride a ferry towards the port of Sta. Fe. Then you may need some help for you to explore Bantayan’s three towns. Just look for Don-don and Danny to assist you as they have their padyaks (foot pedalled cab) and motorcycle. Just call them at this number 0907-6445218. 

And since Bantayan Island has access to the freshest, mouthwatering seafood – crustaceans, shells and fish alike, particularly in this unassuming grillery, Arjaymay near the beaches of Sta. Fe. The owners can even cook up the famous rock lobster at P160 pesos per serving.

And of course, don’t forget to buy your pasalubong afterall, this is where a significant portion of dried seafood of Cebu come from. There is danggit, and there is danggit unsalted for those health conscious. Just get such just before you go on board the ferry back to Cebu city.

There is much more in living life at Bantayan. And definitely there is much more to talk about in the coming posting as well about the three towns of the island of Bantayan.

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buried in secret

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, history, locales with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2009 by mijodo

the charming chapel of paco park

It could be a romantic place. In fact it has been a venue for weddings. And I have been into one. Afterall, there is this old chapel, just big enough to accommodate the groom’s and the bride’s families. There is manicured lawn, and if it is not syrupy enough, one can even have a fountain gushing for the matrimony. Seriously, it is a beautiful and elegant place, this Paco Park.

But if you look closely at the place, actually it is a cemetery, full of catacombs and niches. Paco Park in Manila during the Spanish era was a burial place for well heeled aristocrats. It is interesting to see the names and dates of those interred at this place. You just wonder what life had been during those times, eons ago.

There are several pocket sections inside this intimate park. In fact there is a corner for the unborn children. Then as I walk around, there was a marker which  information I was blown away. Apparently, where the marker was, that was the exact place where Jose Rizal, our National Hero was buried, unbeknownst to the Spanish authorities after his execution in Bagumbayan, the nearby Luneta Park. Somehow for a history buff like me, it was my first time to know such curious fact.

Then I get to imagine what could have happened right after Rizal’s death. The family just trying to haul the lifeless body of the hero, and giving him a decent burial at least. But then everything has to be hushed-hushed lest the authorities find out, and worsen the situation even more for Rizal’s family. Thus in the interim, secrets had to be made, right after Rizal’s demise. 

Sometimes secrets like rizal’s entombment and like the  mysteries of the disappearing articles in this blog, just have to be made – or things may go awry. In time, everything will be unfolded.

the antipolo ambient

Posted in architecture, interior design, lifestyle, locales, people, religion, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by mijodo

 

 
 

suman and casuy vendor at the church area

Next to Tagaytay perhaps, it is Antipolo which is the most popular destination for a quick and cool getaway from the metropolis.  Aside from the crisp coolness that envelops the area, it is Metro Manila’s panoramic vista that becomes a significant reason for  people to come and enjoy the Antipolo hills. Numerous quaint inns and botique hotels line along  Sumulong Hiway and take advantage of the romantic visual delight, particularly during night time period

 

Thus it is no surprise that restaurants and bars sit as well along the ridges as many customers revel on the views of Western and Southern portions of Metro Manila. Among these food places is the legendary Eagle’s Nest which started decades ago in nipa huts in stilts. Eagle’s Nest is where young people from the universities and offices  flock for cheap bottles of beer and tasty pulutan (food accompanying liquor or beer). Today the drinking area has changed a little bit.  Now huts have karaoke machines.

 

Still along Sumulong Hiway, a relatively new addition to the area of Antipolo is the Meralco Management & Leadership Development Center Foundation (MMLDC).  This is a learning and training institution which caters essentially to corporate and organizational clients.  There are several seminar rooms and auditorium type set ups that can accommodate to as many as 200 individuals. Although the whole place initially was reserved to those dorming in and taking seminars in the facility, MMLDC has opened its doors to those wanting to have dinner or lunch on impulse in its open area and nicely appointed restaurant.  For a fee, one can take a tour of the several hectare compound where one can find the swimming pool, an aviary, and a rainforest where teambuilding exercises are held. MMLDC can even hold wedding receptions.  Just imagine the nuptial photographs taken in a romantic garden setting of manicured lawns and dreamy backdrops.

 

One of the old important haunts in Antipolo is Hinulugang Taktak. It is a well-known respite site, most specially during the 50s and 60s where people could swim in its waters . It was so popular that a ditty was composed, asking the people to trek the mountainous Antipolo to enjoy the cooling waters of the falls. Today, although not a popular destination to dip your toes in, it is still a refreshing sight for those visiting.

 

If one has a friend or relative who is a member of the exclusive Valley Golf and Country Club, then ask the person to invite you to come in and enjoy a brisk walk inside the golfing premises, particularly to Hole No. 15 of the Executive Course to take in the stunning view of the entire course together with the man-made terraces. Of course, some drinks, courtesy of that member-friend at its clubhouse will be surely appreciated.

 

The basketball afficionado knows where the Ynares Coliseum is. This is where the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) stars make their impressive moves. But right beside it, one can be equally impressed as well with the neo-classical architecture of the newly built Provincial Capitol of Rizal.

 

Perhaps, the most famous Antipolo stop is the Church where the devotees go just before a long and important travel. People ask the church’s patroness, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage for blessings for a safe passage or journey. And in the end, after the prayers and mass, one can go to the tiendesitas beside the church to bargain for Antipolo’s food products of suman (rice cake) and casuy (cashew nuts).

 

Addording to Ms. Peng Young, marketing officer of MMLDC, during summer it is the breeze that circulates that makes the temperature in Antipolo still bearable.  A decrease of one or two degrees from what Metro Manila is experiencing is just a welcome treat for those people experiencing the highlands of Antipolo. Tayo na!

 

amped!

Posted in architecture, interior design, lifestyle, locales, sports, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2009 by mijodo

kneeboarding toward twilight

I see the 15 storey-tall contraption, just at the edge of the shore. Some more similar frames, but leaner in size, are placed along the circumference of  a lagoon. And in the middle of the water, an islet sits on it. The lagoon could be likened to a race-horse track in terms of its measurement. Then I see steel cable  lines encircling the water connected to and from the tall frame apparatuses.  Then I see that from the machine-contraption, a person is whisked away, hauled hard by the cables, along  the perimeter of  the water. Then I  just realize that the person is just having the ride of his life!

Camarines Sur or CamSur brings forth to the open its newest sensation which catapults its image as the prime spot in the Philippines for the adventure seekers and the extreme sports enthusiasts. The Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) is a provincial government  initiated project which provides a jolt to anyone trying out the biggest and best park for wakeboarding  in the world.

Apparently, CWC has been opened for some years now, but somehow it just in the recent months that its popularity truly made impact to the domestic public. But for those professional riders of the watersports, particularly from Europe and North America, the park is well-known and is taken as a serious venue for showing off skills and abilities through the different ramps and obstacles. And many competitions have been mounted such that all legendary names in the field have approved the standards of the course. It would not be a wonder if many of the foreigner guests come only for the wakeboarding facilities in Pili, Camarines Sur.

Wakeboarding is quite similar to waterskiing , and it involves riding a wakeboard that skims over a surface of water while the person is towed at a certain minimum speed. Some would run the course alone, but some would do it on tandem. Others would opt to waterski and waterskate, using other footgear.  For those just trying out the watersport of wakeboarding, one can start through the use of a kneeboard and be on the water with knees fastened on the board. There is a person ready to give you pointers and instructions to ride out the cables. Prices are very moderate – 160 bucks to rent out the gear and do practice runs for an hour.

CWC is a well thought off plan and undertaking, with the global youthful travelers in mind. It is plush and truly world class; it is resort-style in touches and amenities.  At the beaches, cabanas are installed for some  deep tissue massages.  Row of tiki huts along shore provides shelter from the searing sun while the famished read the menu of food and drinks which cater to Filipinos and international guests. German sausage meals are on top of the list.  There is an ample sized infinity swimming pool to lounge between the cabanas and huts. But what is unmistakebly welcomed is the park’s  free wi-fi connection just right beside the man-made lagoon. Surely, one can get connected to the rest of the world right after getting  a kick in the water!

Tired in the knees and arms from wakeboarding?  How about doing the ramps instead on the ground with skateboarding – ala street fashion. Just at the back of the park’s open-air bar and restaurant, one can do some shuffling and board tricks on the simulated street environment. Or one can just frolick more on the water. The still to be opened man-made lake behind the main receiving hall has  inflatable slides and  giant toys to play around with.

But the provincial government does not stop there. It gives several choices of well appointed rooms and housing for staying for a while. There are trailer homes – in red, blue and green- which accommodate families. There are also the cabanas, and the newly opened palochina walled cabins to provide luxurious comforts in rustic style. There are vans and coasters to bring the guest to and from the beach area to their respective rooms, and to the other different places around the Capitol Grounds where CWC is located. The park administration even offers free shuttle to Naga, the charter city of Cam Sur and airport transfers.

I am not exactly an extreme sports type of guy.  But not to partake the seeming thrill of going around the lake is quite just  unreasonable. Afterall with a floating vest on,  the worse that can happen is to get submerged in the water for a second, and be propped up the next second. After some directions provided by the instructor, and all geared up, I go to the water, and instantaneously lose balance.  Then and there, I swim towards the shore and I decide to head to the pool instead. Afterall, I know a successful wakeboarding activity won’t just happen to me within the hour. I am after the experience.  But while I float at my back in the now placid water, and while I take a look at the image of Camarines Sur’s Mount Isarog looming in the distance, I say quietly to myself, “This is CamSur, and I am amped about it.”

hail, halo-halo

Posted in artifacts, culture, food, lifestyle with tags , , , , , , on March 1, 2009 by mijodo

halohalo with wafer on top

Here comes summer again.  Air can be arid and dry.  And the heat brazenly pounds on many of us, Filipinos. But one is not worried, Filipinos have concocted its own heat minimizer – the halo-halo.

Halo-halo (“Mix-mix” if translated in English) is a fancy thirst quencher, ingrained in the minds of every Filipino during the summer months of March to May.  A cornucopia of ingredients – shaved ice, ube (yam), macapuno (jellylike meat of the coconut), leche flan (custard), boiled red mung beans, kamote (sweet potato), kaong (sugarpalm seeds) and saba (a variety of banana). pinipig (rice crispies), evaporated milk – creates not only a sweet blend of flavorful refreshement, but also a delightful tall-glass or large bowl presentation, more particularly when topped with violet (ube flavored) or yellow (mango) colored ice-cream. A fiesta not only in taste, but in colors too.

There is scant literature on the origins of the halo-halo. Some say it might have come during the Japanese occupation as the Japanese then were selling shaved ice with red beans in it. Others say that it might have been in the 1920’s when ice plants were constructed, thus making the main element of shaved ice less expensive.

Through the years, the importance of  ice is highlighted. For the more discriminating, the quality of shaved ice is as important as the freshness of the ingredients incorporated in halo-halo. Ice should be truly fine and powdery, not coarse nor crushed.

As Filipinos are inventive, many have tried to recreate, retouch, and reassemble this kind of Pinoy cooler. The humble vendors in the markets would do a scaledown version of halohalo by putting less ingredients or even eliminating some of the less popular or expensive ingredients such as garbanzos and pinipig.  Others even make substitutions like slivers of  fruits like melon and mangoes. All components are then squeezed in a shorter glass, usually a coffee brand giveaway. Everything is done to economize, and yet still can give  the same effect of cooling down the average people.

Another variant becoming popular is the creamy halo-halo, made popular in Pampanga. 
This kind is focused on just several ingredients, doing away with some of the fruit and rootcrop components of the usual hal0-halo.  This version has shaved ice, leche flan, cheese, macapuno, banana, and camote, and more of the milk ingredient. In fact there are supposedly three kinds of milk in this cocoction. Thus this halo-halo produces a cream and yellow blend.

To enjoy halo-halo, at the start let the spoon slightly stab on the shaven ice and let the milk and the ice cream produce a gooey melange.  Then let the tongue distinguish the flavor of each food element. But make sure that all the stuff come together  into a meld which should compose its own textured yet luscious taste. It has been told that establishments Little Quiapo, Aristocrat and even fastfood area Chowking serve up the best halo-halo. But for those a little upscale, Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati is touted by Time Magazine, no less, to have created the ultimate one.

Many ponderers have used the halo-halo as a tool for commentary on our Filipino psyche. The festival of colors inside a cup describes the Pinoy’s artistic eye – a fear of the unadorned.  (Look at the jeepney – another Filipino icon.)  Moreso, the concoction is also an apt symbolism of  the Filipinos’ imaginative spirit, creating something so sublime and inspired with such a hodgepodge of almost diverse ingredients. Halo-halo – so Filipino, so cool.