Archive for the health Category

(lg2a) to rise again

Posted in culture, events, food, health, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, nature with tags , , , on March 30, 2013 by mijodo

ysla cover mike dario
It has been a while since I truly last posted here. I am in a middle of work that just exhausts me during weekdays and I just want to finish a book that I have started about two and a half years ago, right after migrating to the United States.

Now the book YSLA is complete. And I would like to think it is worth all the time. My intention has been to start a series of books that should encapsulate familiar words and themes to most young Filipinos living abroad most of their lives and who may have little idea about their heritage.

And hopefully YSLA does that through the eyes of three teens, Amiel, Mayumi and Ian who are marooned in an island full of surprises and terror, and eventually finding out the island’s history and their own culture and values. The Manananggal, the Tiyanak and the new set of colonizers move the story forward for these youngsters, pitifully stuck in another time and place.

Please get a copy of the ebook YSLA if you are outside the Philippines from Amazon.com, itunes and Barnes and Noble. And if you are within Philippines, get it from Flipreads.com.

Follow me at this Facebook account – https://www.facebook.com/mikedarios.ysla?ref=tn_tnmn

After this book YSLA, who knows I may rise again back here in this blog or even at another book for the series.

Happy Easter everyone!

beyond the waves

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, health, history, locales, nature, news, people, technology, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2011 by mijodo

 (Author’s Note:  I wrote this article and took the accompanying pictures, for a certain publication about two years ago. And about a week ago, somehow I decided that this article about Aurora  Province where a tsunami had taken place in the 18th century would be posted for this blog around this week. Uncannily, in Japan, last Friday, a major earthquake and a tsunami happened. Subsequently on the same Friday, another tsunami, although relatively small, affected Aurora Province) 

“I am going to Aurora,” I stated.

 “Ah, in Quezon,” almost everyone chorused.

“No, it is Aurora Province,” I said emphatically.

 Apparently Aurora has not been a part of Quezon for some decades now. But no one seems to know about this important factoid except perhaps people from Quezon and Aurora provinces. Quezon province is named in honor of President Manuel Quezon, the second president of the Philippine Republic who was born though in Baler in 1878. While Aurora province is named after the wife of President Quezon, the former Aurora Aragon who was born in Baler too in 1888. And during the Spanish period Quezon and Aurora provinces constituted the whole province of Tayabas.  In 1946, it was President Roxas, the fifth President who had renamed Tayabas into Quezon  Province and it was the legislative branch, Batasan Pambansa which approved the independence of Aurora from Quezon in 1979.

 Aurora Province has eight municipalities – Casiguran, Dilasag, Dinalungan, Dingalan, Dipaculao, Maria Aurora, San Luis and Baler. Maria Aurora is the only non-coastal town of the province which is largely bordered by the Philippine Sea at the east. And the town is named after the only daughter of President and Mrs. Quezon. Baler is the capital of Aurora, and is most famous for its beaches having large waves, terrific for surfing (Read https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/dude-wheres-my-surfboard/). But definitely there is more to this town other than the huge water undulations.

 Museo and the Garrison Church. First stop should be the relatively new Museo de Baler, a repository of the artifacts and work of art, significant to the town of Baler and its people. Here one can readily see a short history and important moments of its town through the bronze mural sculpture by National Aritst Abdulmari Imao at the museum’s façade. Outside at its rotunda, there is a steel statue of President Quezon, sitting relaxly, yet still assuming an elegant posture, welcoming the patrons and guests of the museum. Outside too at one of the pocket gardens, there is a nip hut supposedly a replica of where Mrs. Quezon was born. At its steps toward the main door, a facsimile of a cannon during the Spanish era is carefully placed.

 Inside the airconditioned museum are mementos from the rich cultural heritage of Baler’s past decades. There are santos and religious articles, and a picture of its seeming old church. There was a number of swords displayed, showcasing the artillery during the Spanish period. At a corner are antique pieces of churchbells which are important to the history of Baler as they were used to warn people of impending bad weather and even possibly – calamities.  

 Just several streets away, one can find the austere architecture of the Baler Church. It is simple looking, with post Spanish period motif. Apparently there had been an old church, made out of coral stones in the same place where the present church is. It was smallish, compared perhaps to other antiquated churches during that era, but just the same it was a symbol of the Spanish supremacy in Baler. That former church structure had been solid witness to a striking historical drama that started in July, 1898 and finally ended in June, 1899.  

 During this time the 300 year Spanish regime was already about to close by surrendering the Philippine Islands to the Americans. Apparently there had been a breakdown in communicating the news about the Spanish Government withdrawing its troops and authority over the Philippines to the political stewards and military authorities in Baler thus the soldiers and cleric decided not to abandon their hold of Baler and held fort in its church. Filipinos and even Americans had tried to persuade and convince those who were holed up in the building to abandon their cause and surrender. But the Spanish military fought it out for eleven months. And in the end many of those unwilling to give up had died either of diseases or by gunfire. This historical narration is identified as the Siege of Baler.

And recently there has been a Filipino movie produced, inspired by this account, aptly titled as “Baler.” Although the movie set of the film was mostly done elsewhere, the producers of the film have donated props and replicas used during the making of the movie to Baler Province. These are the cannon, swords, and a picture of the reproduction of the old church of Baler. Some of these are now displayed in Museo de Baler.

 To the Hill. Baler, together with the whole of Aurora, is a typhoon stricken area as the storms and tropical cyclones originate from the eastern section of the Philippines, most specially from the Pacific Ocean. Many times this part of the country will be the first ones to experience such howlers.

But there are other misfortunes that Baler has experienced through the centuries – and these are tsunami waves. Apparently there was a huge tsunami in 1735 devastating much of Baler, then known as Kinagunasan. Only seven families survived. It is told that these families ran up the Ermita Hill and escaped the floods. Among those who luckily had gotten out of the lowlands on time was the Angara family which lineage produced political luminaries such as Aurora Governor Bella Angara Castillo and Senator Edgardo J. Angara, and their father Juan Angara, three-time mayor of Baler.

Sadly, there was a recent one too – in 1970. And the waves along its coastline created extensive damage and deaths to the province as well. And the marker at Sabang Beach memorializes the event. In that same marker, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warns that another occurrence of this disaster can just happen. Possibly, but not hopefully, the churchbells of Baler Church will ring again to warn its residents to flee their residential homes and run toward Ermita Hill.

Today, Ermita Hill is used as a vantage point for a panoramic view of the expanse of Baler Bay and the Philippine Sea. One can trek on foot or use a tricycle toward its viewing decks to appreciate the coastlines and be entranced with the moving tides of the ocean.

In the area, there are spanking new structures that the local government has built. With red bricks as main construction finish, similarly used in Museo de Baler, a platform stage is created as a focal point for the open-air arena. Now Ermita Hill can be a site for performances and large gatherings. At the back of the stage, a mini-zoo is being completed, with monkeys and sea eagle as initial collection.

The Indigenous and the Natural Setting. Baler is home to two groups of indigenous people – the Dumagats and Ilongots. The Dumagats are sea-farers while the Ilongots are head-hunters. Both tribes have been scarce to the streets of Baler as they have hied off to the remote outskirts, mostly in the mountains of Sierra Madre. Many of their indigenous colorful art and artifacts are being exhibited at Museo de Baler. And when there are festivals and fiestas in Baler, the Dumagats graciously attend, and even showcase their cultural dance to an appreciative audience.

Once in Aurora, you cannot run out of places to go to and not get mesmerized with its natural setting offering. In Baler, aside from the waves of Sabang Beach and Cemento, one can travel to Digisit at Barangay Zabali, just several kilometers away from Cemento, and be enthralled with large boulder rock and coral formations sitting on shallow waters of the beach. It is a dramatic seascape where considerably large waves are broken by these protective barriers. In some parts of the shoreline, sea shells  and pebbles delicately scatter around. In other portions, dark smooth stones with sharp edges abound, making the place menacing and foreboding.

But of course, this fearful sensation dissipates as you drink a couple of cold bottles of beer in one of the shacks being rented out. Some of these charming huts are just positioned to have a good view of the waves crashing into the stones.

Necessities. For food, Gerry Shan Restaurant at the main thoroughfare of Quezon Avenue is just the  place to be in – good food, ample servings, easy on the budget. As you check out the menu, there is a wide array of Filipino and Chinese entrees in this amiable place. Try their garlic chicken with buttered vegetables and mango shake – all for only 100 pesos. Of course another alternative is Bay’s Inn restobar at Sabang Beach, right in front of those surfing waters. Just stone’s throw away, there is Corrie’s for some baked goods.  Sample its carrot cake; it is moist and chewy. There is even wi-fi for those lugging their laptops.

Just in case, you are  low in cash, there are two ATM machines – at Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank right across the Kapitolyo.

So if you are not fit, not qualified or just not interested to surf at Sabang Beach, there is still much more to Baler,  Aurora and its waves. By the way, remember that Aurora is not in Quezon.

(lg2a) what’s hot, chocnut?

Posted in artifacts, culture, food, health, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2011 by mijodo

Don’t get me wrong, my mom was quite a conscientious mother when I was being reared as a child. But there were days when she would ask me to go to the nearby grocery to buy Nestle Chocolate Crunch bar as substitute viand to a plate of rice, particularly when the maid or help was gone, and she was too lazy or perhaps busy to prepare food. And truth to be told, I loved it when chocolate bar became part of the meal – nopes not just chocolate drink such Milo, Ovaltine, Chocolait or ChocoVim.

Of course if you were a kid of the 70s or the 80s, you would remember Serg Chocolate Bar or Nips (M&M’s pinoy counterpart).  Do you still remember Horlicks – that chocolate flavored discs, good for energy (well that is what my mom said to me)? How about those addicting Curly Tops by Ricoa? Or probably you would have good memories of those fascinating but strange looking fake gold coins, laden with creamy chocolate that melted and annoyingly smeared your clothes.

Yet there is no denying that when we were kids, and probably the kids of this generation, would prefer those imported chocolates, direct from the United States or even from those PX stores from Angeles, Pampanga then.

Kitkat (my personal favorite). Three Musketeers. Baby Ruth. Butterfinger. Milky Way. Mr. Goodbar. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Almond Rocha. Almond Joy. Ferrero Roche. Toblerone. And of course, Kisses. These were the chocolates of our colonial-mentality fixated youth.

So when the opportunity came up, from my sisters Jane and Christie, together with niece Ernestine, to passby Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey’s, Pennsylvania, I could not forego it since the trip would surely bring back the yummy-filled memories of  my childhood.

Just like a kid in candy store, I was in awe of how grand the whole area was as envisioned by Mr. Milton Hershey, the grand daddy of confectionery when he started his choco factory. The Hershey factories and corporate office have been located in several hectares or acreage of land. But thoughtfully, a covered mini theme park has been set up to welcome visitors, comprised mainly of families.

In such hall, there were movies that account of Mr. Hershey’s rise to chocolatedom. There were rides that show the processes of chocolate making. And of course, the best part was the Hershey’s store that showcased all the candy products and keepsakes alike. The place was like being in the wonderful world of Willie Wonka without the scary and mean Wonka wrecking you out for being troublesome.

Obviously, there is much love for chocolates by Filipinos, particularly the imported ones. But there is one truly Pinoy chocolate that can rival any of these American goodies in terms of popularity, and even possibly in taste.  Definitely, it is Chocnut or Tsoknut – that humble nutty confection that one can get at the corner sari-sari store for a measely peso per piece (I remember it at 25 cents per piece before).

There is a continuing love for this chocolate that started as  kids’ fare and now has become an important ingredient for sophisticated restaurant deserts – from cakes to ice-cream concoctions. Surely, this choco brand has become  part of the Filipinos’ consciousness that spells comfort and happiness. Sweet kisses to you, Chocnut.

get crazy and high

Posted in architecture, events, health, interior design, lifestyle, locales, news, people, sports, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by mijodo

 If New York has the Empire State Building, and Paris has the Eiffel Tower, then Cebu may just have Crown Regency Hotel. Afterall, in these tall landmarks, it is not unusual for many tourists and locals to come up, and take in all the panoramic views the eyes can afford to see from such edifices. People in the city of New York clamber up to the 86th floor of the famed Art-deco office building to set eyes on the uniformed street blocks of Manhattan and its countless skyscrapers. In Paris, all try to move up into the observation platform of the iron tower of Eiffel, and gush at the lush garden sceneries down below, particularly the Trocadero Fountains. But once in Cebu, visitors go to the highest floors of the hotel edifice, and try to admire the vast aerial views of the metropolis, but possibly, even quite literally, with a twist.

 Of course at the very top of the building which is said to be the  tallest in Cebu, and probably in the whole Philippines, there are the usual coin operated binoculars and telescopes to zoom in on specific areas of Cebu City, but one can be most appreciative of the commanding and extensive views of the city without the necessity of such peering device. But alas, still that would be a little unexciting as there are more atypical ways to get a 360 degree views of this historic and economically robust southern city destination through the Sky Experience Adventure, at the very top of the Crown Regency, along President Osmena Boulevard.

Take the Plunge.  One can even get out of the comfort zone by checking the vista a little outside the perimeter of the building through its Edge Coaster. At the 39th floor, one can take on the ride, similar to the cabs of a rollercoaster, that takes you around the building, yet facing full frontally the views. But then the seat tilts down 55 degrees giving one the impression of plunging 430 feet towards the ground. In fact, if both parties (the cab can only seat two at a time) decide to increase the slant more, the seat can even go to an extreme 90 degree down slope. But then one gets to realize that one is strapped safely at the coaster. Still the experience is intense and may not be advisable for those who have the fear of falling.

 The ride starts with the gracious staff giving all pointers for safety. And not like the usual rollercoaster where cabs move together, each cab in the Edge Coaster moves independently. Then the cab slowly tips over and gives one that feeling of falling down. One just prays that one does not actually fall off from the seat. Expectedly, people just hold on to the to the seat’s handlebars for dear life. But as the cab moves slowly around, then the safety features of the ride are guaranteed ok. During the ride, it is a little straining and awkward for some because of the position they are in. But then the ride is not very long, it just goes around for a minute or so.

 Look Ma, No Railings. If the Edge Coaster gives one a sensation of dropping toward land, another feature of the Sky Experience Adventure, the Sky Walk provides an impression of flying – or at least walking on air. At the 38th floor of the building, there is a four foot wide ramp around the building to walk on, without the supposed security of the railings or barrier. At the ramp there is only the harness which is securely tied from the ceiling to the suit worn by person that provides some sense of protection.  The harness’s length is short enough to make the person stay only on at the ramp, making it difficult for one to fall off from the ledge. Again, one gets to see the whole scenic vistas of Cebu. But of course, somehow there is just more mind thrill when one is romping around on the tallest building in the city, and without supposedly the safety net of the guardrails.

 But indeed, the Sky Experience Adventure team does all the precautionary procedures to avoid all untoward incidents. The team of ladies and gentlemen who have mostly mountaineering experience briefs everyone on the safety measures provided for the Skywalk Experience and how everyone should conduct himself during the walk. One must don on the blue and yellow suit specifically for such walk. And if there are those who are in slippers or highheeled shoes, the team can lend rubbershoes to provide them sole traction while on the ramp. The team also says that harnesses which can carry a weight of 5000 pounds are there for the utmost safety of the people. The ramp is strong enough and can accommodate a number of people at a given moment.

Then people are instructed to get out of the building premises, and go out and step on the actual walkway. Together with some members of the team crew, people are instructed to start walking guided by the harnesses that dangle from ceiling top. With some trepidation, one walks, and in due time, he or she enjoys a seeming moment of freedom. Then somehow, one is even emboldened to perch and sit at the very rim of the pathway. Or he can show off  a one foot standing trick at the glass edge as well, directed by the team leader. Everything can be documented by an official photographer that goes along with group for the romp.

Everything to see and feel. During the day time, you get the whole arresting vista of Cebu’s Metropolis, with the Cebu Harbor at the Southeast, and the other neighboring cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Naga and Talisay.  There might be some challenge to find famous landmarks of Cebu such as Tops at the hills of Busay. But definitely, one can easily find the iconic memorial plaza – the Fuente Osmena Circle, and of course, further up – the beautiful and majestic Capitol building of Cebu Province.

And since the Sky Experience Adventure opens until past midnight, particularly during weekends, it is very worthy to visit and participate in both rides during the evenings as well to see the luminous lights of the Capitol and Fuente Osmena Circle, and experience another enthralling aspect of the whole Cebu City. One must do the rides then twice – during the day and during the night.

Bill Killgore, General Manager of Sky Experience Adventure, devised ways to make the rides affordable, even offering two rides for the price of one promotion, many times. The patrons even get a certificate after each ride – detailing the exact date, time and even the condition of the weather. Then of course, one can purchase a picture of himself enjoying the rides, and if hungry, then he may have some food at the Sky Lounge or Sky Resto Bar.

And if there is some more money to spend, one can go several floors down to watch and experience a movie of a 4D kind! In other words, not only will he view movie scenes almost realistically through state of the art magic, he also experiences and definitely feels everything almost authentically what is shown on the screen. It is not good to spoil a film by spilling out the details, but it is recommended that one brings a hanky or small towel at the theater.

Bill Killgore, recollects that Cebu locals had some hesitations when the Sky Experience Adventure started late 2008, and it was people outside Cebu who were more adventurous and enthusiastic to partake in such rides. But it has changed through the months. In fact one local Cebuano guy, through the help of the Sky Adventure Experience team and its manager, surprised his girlfriend and popped the ultimate question – “Will you marry me?” – at the 38th Floor during their promenade at the Sky Walk. “I am just waiting that a marriage ceremony will be done here one of these days,” Killgore says a matter of factly. Well, that surely is another way of taking the plunge – 30 plus floors above the ground in Cebu.

(lg2a) city of life

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, health, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by mijodo

It has definitely been a privilege to crisscross North America, and see some great cities in this part of the world –  from the flashy glitz of Las Vegas to the can-do character of New York City. However it seems that there is a place in Canada which is esteemed to be the “most livable” among all the cities in the world. And if you happen to be living in Vancouver City, British Columbia, then you are one lucky dude.

However if you just happen to visit Vancouver, it is not difficult to be impressed with what it has to offer –  a working, thriving, and clean metropolis in the bellows of scenic landscapes and sea vistas.  People may be working hard in the city, but the city is not working hard on its people.  The city seems to be aware on how it  can assist its dwellers in making life accessible to convenience and prosperous growth. There is a web of trains and trams that bring its people to work and home – even right to its airport. Passengers don’t need to box out fellow passengers for valued commuter space, during rush hour as commuter crowd is quite sparse. 

It is quite possible  not to even own a car, if a bike ride (or even skateboard) is sufficient (and certainly efficient) for you. There is a bike lane that goes around the city. And however way you explore the city, there are always the surrounding mountains and Fraser River that accompany you, and make your stay, in awe of Vancouver and its environs such as Surrey, Richmond and New Westminister.

The temperate climate even during winters make the whole place bearable, particularly that one can delightfully see from the city snow capped mountain sites, around Vancouver.

Our Version Apparently, it is not only the transport infrastructure or the sceneries that make Vancouver on top of the surveys (one of which is Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey) as “most livable.”  Of course, prime importance are the economic viability of the place and the secured neighborhoods.  Such criteria may be applied on the cities within the Philippines.  And among such places, Davao stoodout, beating out Manila and Cebu City, as “most livable city” in a survey (http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideLifestyle.htm?f=2010%2Faugust%2F24%2Flifestyle3.isx&d=2010%2Faugust%2F24).

Just like Vancouver, Davao City is a bustling megapolis (considered the biggest city in the world in terms of sheer size) with a progressive economy, almost zero percent crime rate, and significantly less traffic hassle compared to that of Manila, Makati and Cebu City.  Since it is located in Mindanao, its weather condition has been mild and almost typhoon free.  Also like in Vancouver, Davaoenos enjoy the short distance access to many beaches, particularly in Samal Island, and the rustic settings of its many mountains, such as Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain within the Philippines.

City of New Life It is no wonder expatriates and newcomers, looking for  opportunities, with a kinder way of life, gravitate towards such cities, such as in Davao, but more particularly in Vancouver.  You right away get the impression that the city of Vancouver welcomes people from all over the world, but more particularly the Asians – Chinese, Indian, and yes, of course the Filipinos, wanting to have a peaceful, rewarding life.

The Vancouverites don’t discriminate. In fact they encourage the people from different nationalities and ethnicities to profess and manifest their own cultural identity without much hesitation.  There is no need to assimilate. Vancouver  wants its people to add on to the vastness of customs and conventions to form a “mosaic” instead of a “blend.” 

The city government offers all the aid and help to new settlers – particularly, to couples with children.  You are given housing assistance, especially if the family’s income may have difficulty with coming up with rental money.  If you are just starting out, this indeed is a sweet deal.

It is not sure if Davao does the same to its new lifetime guests, but for as long you are able to work, contribute and be a good partner in building both cities, then you and your family may just have the life you have been wanting for – a great and productive one. Welcome to the Cities of Life – Davao and Vancouver.

(lg2a) this is not panama city, panama

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, food, health, history, interior design, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, sports, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2010 by mijodo

 

An aunt from Canada was to attend a family member’s wake and burial in Panama City, Florida. However instead of going directly to one of the gulf cities of Florida, she found herself in another part of North America –  at Panama City, Panama.

Probably this story has been retold amongst family members countless times, just to regale ourselves and have some hearty guffaws at such an oddball experience.  But it did happen, and can happen even in the Philippines. If you want to go to San Fernando, make sure which Luzon capital city you are stopping by – the one in Pampanga for some culinary experience or La Union for some surfing action in nearby town, San Juan.

When you think about “Cagayan,” you do ask yourself, “Is this the capital, Cagayan de Oro City of Misamis Oriental of Northern Mindanao or is this Cagayan Province of Northern Luzon?” Cagayan de Oro City boasts of whitewater rafting activities and a busy seaport while Cagayan Province has cave exploration and spelunking for tourists. But “Cagayan Province” should not be confused with “Cagayan Valley” or the whole Region 2 area,  which is composed of the provinces of Batanes, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Cagayan Province.

Another name, “Davao,” set in the Mindanao turf, sets chaos probably among the minds of Filipino students studying for a geography quiz. Davao City which is the business and tourism hub of Mindanao is independent of any province, including Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur. Davao del Norte’s capital is Tagum City while Davao del Sur’s is Digos. Interestingly, and even probably more confusingly, Davao del Norte’s official and newest name is Davao Province.
But heck, after some stressful geography lessons in the Philippines, I guess it is time for some destressing which you can get plenty of in Panama City Beach Florida which is distinct from Panama City, Panama.
(For some personal pics on my travel to America, please click on this: https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/letsgopinas-goes-2-america/)
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Panama City may not be a top of mind destination in Florida. Miami and Orlando should be prime city targets among travellers in the socalled Sunshine State. However Panama City, together with adjacent environ, Panama City Beach has so much to offer for the sunworshippers – torquoise waters, powdery white shores, and magnificent sunsets. Americans from the Southern states usually enjoy the beaches and the countless high rise accommodations that line the area. Families during the summers and students the socalled springbreak troop to the 27 miles of stunning beachfront sceneries of Panama City Beach.
And between Panama City, Florida, and the country, Panama is the Carribean Gulf. This piece of info should settle the confusion once and for all.
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As we try to hairsplit these geographical names, how about finding out where the phonetically troublesome and originally named town of “Sexmoan” is.
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How about “Sasmuan, Pampanga.”