The Iloilo Dinagyang
Just like most festivals in January, Dinagyang is a thanksgiving for and a celebration in honor of Sr. Santo Nino. But it prides itself as a festival of excellent folk choreography, a showcase of Ilonggo heritage and culture. It is as grand as Iloilo's old churches and mansions. It is as crisp as pinasugbong saging, as delectable as pancit molo and batchoy.
Highlights of the Festival
The religious highlight is the fluvial procession along Iloilo River. The cultural highlights are the Kasadyahan and the Ati-atihan parades and competitions.
The fluvial procession is on a Friday of the Dinagyang week. Devotees carrying assorted images of the Child Jesus ride in motorized bancas from the mouth of the river towards the pier area where the foot parade would start and then back to the church.
Held on a Saturday, Kasadyahan is a cultural parade. The presentation is theatrical and in local color.
The Ati-atihan contest on a Sunday, is a big event. Participated in by at least twenty groups or tribe, the warriors wipe black soot all over their body and dance to the drumbeats.
Primary reason for starting the Dinagyang Festival. The festival was first started to celebrate the feast of the Sto. Nino. From a parish church festivity to honor the Child Jesus, the celebration has evolved to become a religious-cultural activity. It is now a vehicle to promote Iloilo as a tourist and investment destination.
The Sinulog festival is one of the grandest and most colorful festivals in the Philippines with a very rich history. The main festival is held each year on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City to honor the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, who used to be the patron saint of the whole province of Cebu (since in the Catholic faith Jesus is not a saint, but God). It is essentially a dance ritual which remembers the Filipino people’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity.
The Light Rail Transit System Line No. 1 consists of the 15 km elevated railway system servicing the Taft Avenue - Rizal Avenue route between Baclaran, Pasay City and the Bonifacio Monument in the City of Caloocan. It is considered to be the first LRT system in Southeast Asia.
Me, inside the train
Gil Puyat Station
Line 1 has a length of about 15 km and runs from Baclaran in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City. Pasay City lies in the south-west section of Metro Manila, close to the airport. From there, the line runs in a north-western direction, parallel to the Bay but at some distance from it along Taft Avenue to the Manila City Hall, where the central terminal is located, then through Arroceros Street, across the Pasig River, entering the Santa Cruz district at Feati University. From there, it follows Rizal Avenue and Rizal Avenue Extension in a northerly direction to the terminal at Monumento in Caloocan City. (?)
Identified as one of the 25 major tourist destinations in the country by the Department of Tourism, Silay City is considered as the “Seat of arts, culture and eco-tourism in Western Visayas”.
Things I did in Silay City:
Visited the San Diego Pro-Cathedral
It is an early 20th century church, declared as a pro-cathedral in 1994 and the only pro-cathedral outside of Manila. It is the only church in Negros Occidental with a dome similar to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Designed by Italian architect Lucio Bernasconi in 1920, it stands out as one of the most noticeable landmarks in Silay.
Explored the Heritage Houses
I got fascinated with the vast number of heritage houses Silay City has. Its history and architectural details is truly a National Treasure. As I walk down the streets of Silay, I saw more than a dozen of old houses and each house never failed to suprise me of its great architectural designs. Lucky me, I was able to get inside one house, the Manuel Severino Hofilena Ancestral house.
Fastest Rising Local Travel Destinations
4. Puerto Galera
5. Camarines Sur
7. Anawangin Cove
8. Puerto Princesa
10. Villa Escudero
Nothing beats the Christmas season in the Philippines.
Giant Christmas trees everywhere...
Robinson's Place Manila
Cash and Carry Mall
SM MOA - South Wing
SM City Iloilo
NAIA Terminal 3
There will be very few long weekends coming up next year, as most of the holidays fall on a weekend. And since the current administration would not likely to implement the holiday economics, we would expect that regular and special holidays will not be moved to the nearest Monday as previously done.
In the afternoon of my day 1 in Negros Occidental, I visited this 903 square meter skeletal structure that is truly one of its kind.
"The Ruins" is considered as one of the 12 most fascinating ruins in the world. A monumental landmark that can be found in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.
It is the ancestral house of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a rich and young Filipino Sugar Baron. Built in the early 1900's, as a memory of don Mariano's wife Maria Braga, a young Portuguese lady he met in one of his trips in Hongkong. This could be the reason why Zest Air called it as the Taj Mahal of the Negros in their travel magazine. During its heyday, the mansion was the largest residential structure.
The house is of Italianate architecture with a touch of renaissance structure typical of the homes of English ship captains. One of Don Mariano’s sons even supervised the construction of the mansion making sure that only A-grade mixture of concrete was used. Unfortunately, it was set to fire during World War II by the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East), to prevent Japanese Forces from using it as their headquarters. The raging inferno took three days before it reduced to ruins.
If only "good looks" can bring me to Batanes, I would definitely use mine. Wahahaha!!! Kidding aside, a Batanes trip has always been haunting me in my dreams. Without a doubt, I will do everything just to see and be able to set my "happy feet" in this awesome province.
I want to witness breath taking views of the beaches, lighthouses, hills, churches, and stone houses. I also want to meet the warm and gentle Ivatans. Feel the nice weather and to relax and have a time of my life. Needless to say, nothing can beat a natural high when you see a beautiful place such as Batanes.
I want to hike up Naidi Hills to see the Basco Lighthouse, like what I did in Guimaras where I saw the Guisi Light House in the town of Guisi. I want to share to everyone how majestic lighthouses are.
I want to explore Rakuh-a-Idi Spring and compare it to Mambukal Resort in Murcia Negros Occidental.
Been to a WWII Japanese tunnel in Albay, too bad I was not able to get in, this time, I want get inside the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel.
I also want to see the churches in Batanes and feel the same admiration I felt when I visited the stunning Miagao Church in Iloilo.
I've been to Bohol's famous Chocolate Hills and seen different views from the top of the mountains, I also want to see the vast stretch of hills that look like rolling waves of the ocean of the Vayang Rolling Hills and the beautiful landscapes and seascapes it offers. Also the beautiful ocean, and witness a spectacular sunset.
I want to swim in the waters of Nakabuang Beach, like what I did in the white sand beaches of Quezon, Puerto Galera, Anawangin and Guimaras.
I've been chased by a carabao on the summit of Mt. Gulugod baboy, I want to see cows and carabaos on the hills of Rakuh-a-Payaman.
Been to "The Ruins" in Talisay City Negros Occidental, I also want to see the Songsong Ruins.
Done island hopping in Puerto Galera, Guimaras and Anilao, I also want to explore the islands of Sabtang and Itbayat.
Walked in the old streets of Vigan and Silay City, I want to see the oldest house in Batanes - Vahay ni Dakay (House of Dakay) and meet Lola Ida.
Indeed there are a lot of things to discover in Batanes. I'm afraid this dream will never be a reality. Should I just keep on dreaming? *sigh*
Been checking out SEAIR's website hoping that I could avail a ticket going to Batanes, unfortunately, my resources are not enough. I'm glad that they have this contest that somehow gives me an opportunity to fly to Batanes. I want to be there because the lovely Batanes deserves a blogger as charming as Pinoy Adventurista. *wink*
This will be a big help in achieving my personal challenge of being able to set foot on at least two-thirds of the Philippine provinces before I reach the age of 35. Hope you could help me achieve my dream of flying to Batanes by “liking” my entry at SEAIR’s Facebook Fan Page. Thanks a lot!
A new set of Philippine peso bills were released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. It still has the same famous Filipinos, except for the 500 peso bill that added President Cory alongside with his husband Ninoy.
What I like most about these new bank notes are the pictures at the back. It now features Philippines' iconic natural wonders and popular tourist attractions such as:
-Banaue Rice Terraces alongside the Palm Civet (20 pesos)
-Taal Lake and the Giant trevally fish (50 pesos)
-Mayon Volcano in Albay and the whale shark (100 pesos)
-Chocolate Hills in Bohol and the Philippine tarsier (200 pesos)
-Subterranean Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and the Blue-naped Parrot (500 pesos)
-Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and the South Sea pearl (1000 pesos)
The town of Murcia is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Negros Occidental. Known for Mambukal Mountain Resort, it is fast becoming an alternative residential hub in the province. Traffic and pollution free, the local government is eager to replicate the industrialization boom that was made in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna and Subic area. Develoment projects are ongoing that aims to improve road infractructures to and from Bacolod City.
After visiting Mambukal Resort, I pass by the Murcia town proper to roam and take photos around.
I am quite sure that most of us want to take a break from our usual daily activities. Having not to think of anything but to commune with nature.
Mambukal Mountain Resort, a government-owned piece of paradise is a favorite vacation destination of local and foreign tourists since it is very accessible from Bacolod City, the capital city of Negros Occidental. It is located in the town of Murcia, some 31 km east of Bacolod city. With a land area of over 23.6 hectares, it is blessed with numerous beautiful natural resources and unparalleled scenic features.
Lies at about 1,200 feet above sea level, it serves as a gateway to the Mt. Kanlaon Volcano.
My Lakbayan grade is C!
How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!
I've updated my lakbayan map with my latest trips to Tarlac, Quezon, Rizal, Iloilo, Guimaras and Negros Occidental in the last 3 months of this year. From "C-", 3 months ago, I now have a Lakbayan grade of C! Yahoo!!!
What a great way to end my 2010!!! Looking forward for more trips next year!!!
On my bucket list:
January 2011 - Western Pangasinan with my officemates
February 2011 - Davao Del Sur with my MBA friends
July 2011 - Zamboanga Del Sur, solo trip
I just got back from a solo adventure in the "Sugarbowl of the Philippines" - Negros Occidental. Being an "adventurer", I boarded the plane without any thorough research about this province (read: this is not recommended). I just read one blog post and that's it! I'm ready to go! =D
I arrived at Silay-Bacolod Airport at around 5:30 AM. I looked for the shuttle service outside that will bring me to Bacolod City. The fare is 150 pesos and travel time is about 45 minutes.
I don't have any reservation at any hotel. So when I reached Bacolod city, I started to search for a budget hotel that will fit into my budget. Luckily, I found one, the Star Plus Pension Inn in Lacson Cor. Rosario Sts. Their room rates range from 300 - 430 pesos only per night. I took the premium room and I'm glad that they allowed me to check-in right away. Thanks, I now have a place to keep my things safe.
After fixing myself and my things, I went out of the pension house to start my solo adventure. As a first timer, I got lost around the city, I can't see where the jeepney or bus stations are. But it's okay, I'm not afraid to get lost. I know that getting lost can be a great adventure.
I went to 3 Cities and 1 Town to experience Negros Occidental's innate beauty and charm.
On day 1, I went to the town of Murcia to explore Mambukal Resort and later on, the town of Murcia.
The town of Miagao is a 1st class municipality located approximately 40 km southwest of Iloilo City. It is well known for its 18th century church, the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church.
Built in 1787 by the Spanish Augustinian missionaries, it was declared as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site - "Baroque Churches of the Philippines" in 1993. Its fortress-like design suggests its dual purpose - as a place of worship and as a fort used in defending the town against Moro raiders during that time.
In Baroque-Romanesque style, the church sinks six (6) meters deep into the ground with walls one-and-a-half (1 1/2) meters thick and buttresses thrice thicker in size. A truly 'Philippine Church', it exudes a native touch. Its artistic facade is decorated with a relief sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child amidst coconut, papaya and guava shrubs. A large stone image of St. Thomas of Villanueva, parish patron saint, dominates the center. Carved life-size statues of the Pope and St. Henry with their coat-of-arms above them flank the main entrance. (source)
Another must see attraction in the town of San Joaquin, Iloilo is their Campo Santo or the chapel at a century-old Roman Catholic cemetery. Located on the national highway, it is just a few meters away from the town proper and the San Joaquin Church.
Sitting on a hill overlooking the sea, it is popular for its chapel with intricate baroque architecture with oriental influence. It is even made more attractive by the grand stone staircase approaching the beautiful chapel.
San Joaquin is the southernmost town of the province of Iloilo. It is the last southern town before the province of Antique.
The San Joaquin Church is the only church in the Philippines that has a militaristic-themed facade. The masterpiece in its facade depicts the Spaniards' victory at the Battle of Tetuan. It is made of lime stones quarried from the town of Igbaras and white coral stones that can be found in the town's shorelines.
From Guimaras Island, we ride again the ferry boat bound for Iloilo City. Goodbye my lovely Guimaras, we'll see you again... =D
Upon reaching Ortiz Port, we took a cab and told the driver to bring us to a place where we could stay. As I mentioned in my previous posts, we are on a tight budget, so we asked him to help us find a budget hotel within the city. He then dropped us at Budget Inn located at Castilla EL-98 Jaro Iloilo City. It is indeed a budget hotel. A twin room only costs 700 pesos per night. It's clean and well maintained. The staffs are very accommodating. With all its amenities such as cable television, stand-by generator and WIFI zone, I guess it's a great deal!
An all-time Filipino favorite during Christmas Season. Spot.ph listed their Top 10 Bibingka that can be found in Metro Manila. So, to those who crave for the best Bibingka in town, here's the article posted in their website.
Top 10 Bibingka in Metro Manila
Jenny B. Orillos | Published: November 25, 2010
Bibingka may be available year round these days but it reclaims its special significance when December rolls in. Stalls serving the traditional Filipino rice cake during the Christmas season have become a part of the tableau during the traditional nine-day dawn masses. Clay ovens warm up the cold early mornings as families crowd the stalls for their share of this delicacy (and its partner, the purple-hued puto bumbong) after the mass.
Made from a batter of galapong (glutinous ground rice), eggs, sugar and coconut milk, the bibingka is placed on a banana leaf-lined pan and baked in a clay oven with coals underneath and on top of a metal cover. The bibingka is topped with kesong puti (native white cheese), itlog na maalat (salted duck's eggs), butter, and sugar depending on the recipe of the cook and it’s served with grated coconut.
The name "bibingka" is similar to the Indian dessert bebinca from the state of Goa. The latter is made with flour, coconut milk, sugar, egg yolks, ghee or clarified butter and almonds. Aside from Goa, the bebinca is also common in Macau and East Timor, all of which, like Goa, were Portuguese colonies. Aside from the name, both cakes are similarly cooked with heat on top and bottom. But unlike the Philippine bibingka, the Goan bebinca is a layered dessert wherein each layer must be cooked first before the next one is added (like the way we cook our sapin-sapin). Their bebinca is made with flour instead of glutinous rice though a nineteenth century Indian cookbook lists rice flour as an ingredient.
In The Oxford Companion to Food which mentions the cuisine of Goa, Alan Davidson remarks that food accounts from Goa always mention bebinca but without direct connection to the Filipino bibingka. Historian Rachel Laudan traces the trail of the bibingka to Goa but in the above Indian cookbook it’s called “Bibinca dosee, or Portuguese Cocoanut Pudding.” I suspect that the common denominator is the Portuguese influence and each country added its own take on it.
Still, we cannot discount the fact that like our biko, the term bibingka may also be Chinese in origin. Anthropologist E. Arsenio Manuel, as mentioned in The Governor General’s Kitchen, relates the rice cake's name to its root word "bi," which in Romanized Mandarin (Pinyin) means "unripe grain." Bibingka is also used in naming other rice cakes such as bibingkang cassava and bibingkang malagkit.