“Your unexpected detour could lead to unexpected moments of beauty that otherwise you would have missed”
This is how I would summarize my thought after I and my friend-colleagues has gone to Laiya, San Juan in the province of Batangas to scout for a venue for our upcoming company’s post-summer outing.
We basically checked-out, visited and inquired almost all of the major sea-side vacation lands in the area but in each of the resorts we visited there seem to be something lacking. We have gone to seven leading resorts yet we still were not one in deciding which to choose. This until, we decided to get lost and do a little detour before heading back to Manila.
And here is what we found!
It really feels good to be lost in the right direction…
I totally disagree with the pretext, depth and perspectives of your tweet. It is sad to note that a lot of Filipinos agree, liked and shared your unwise tweet.
I love underdogs that is why I was drawn to liking Gilas Philipinas in the past. But it is unfortunate to note that last night’s basketball game (July 2 held at the Philippine Arena against Team Australia), the charismatic underdog Gilas Team seem to have transformed into some confused and rabid mongrel.
Let me then inform you that my being a Filipino and staying as a Filipino is not anchored on how the games of Gilas Pilipinas play its game! The affairs of your team may it be compassionate or rabid towards your opponents is not going to be the fundamental foundation of my staying as a Filipino. Lastly, the size of your prefrontal cortex will not be the basis if I will stay as a Filipino or convert to becoming an Australian.
You being one of the star players of the team, guess what? A simple tweet apologizing to your fans could have been better, more mature and more sportsmanly act as compared to what you tweeted.
Last Sunday, I woke up wanting to go to Ongpin, the Chinese Capital of the Philippines. As soon as I opened my eyes after a long and quiet sleep, my katawang lupa (flesh and corporeal being) just suddenly crave for the look, the noise and the smell of Ongpin.
Thanks to super friend Willie, he accompanied me and made my silly craving a reality. My longing was really plain and unchallenging. I just wanted to walk the super busy street of Ongpin, buy a snack and then leave. But thank goodness I was with itinerant Willie because he knows a very good eatery in this old and hoary part of Manila.
We dined at what is known as Estero. It is a non-air-conditioned diner that is right beside a creek and a tidal channel used as drainage canal in the overly populated area of Manila. I was at first so tentative and doubtful about the place. But when the gentle lady manning the eatery approached us and handed the menu, I knew that I was into some exciting gastronomic adventure.
Estero is tagged as a fast food on the internet but it is unlike the usual fast food that items were pre-prepared and placed on a heater display. Estero food are only cooked upon ordering. Maybe the reason why it is called fast food is because the kitchen is equipped with high pressure burners and the cooks prepare their dishes so fast. In a haste, the server was already serving our freshly cooked Hototay and the surprisingly crunchy Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sprouts.
Aside from the very good food, Estero’s price was surprisingly cheap. Total bill of all the fantastic dishes we ordered was roughly around 8 (US) dollars.
If I am to choose a place where to bring a foreigner-friend so as to fully immerse him to the culture of the Philippines, I would choose Villa Escudero in Tiaong Quezon.
Villa Escudero seem to contain and characterize a wide assortment of a true Filipino culture. Employees from engineering, to servers, to housekeeping and receptionists are all comfortably dressed in the traditional “patadyong” for the ladies and the colorful “camisa de chino” are worn by the guys.
The structures of Villa Escudero room accommodations are all native, characteristic of the traditional Filipino house known as “Bahay Kubo”. Villa Escudero also boasts of a marvelous museum collection, majority of which are about the rich Filipino religion, clothings, history and even fauna.
After a glorious Filipino buffet lunch right in the middle of a river with a man-made waterfalls as a backdrop, guests will get to enjoy and watch a Filipino show inside a humongous pavilion. The show features various uniquely Filipino dances, costumes and customs. I particularly loved the energetic TInikling dance, the funny vignette about Sabong, the robust and brawny Maglalatik and of course the singing of the song Filipinas at the end of the show. The show boasts about its authenticity for it was conceptualized and choreographed by the late Filipino National Artist for Dance, Mr. Ramon Obusan.
Then later in the afternoon, guests would get to enjoy and listen to a “harana” (a serenade). In the old days in the Philippines, a way for a suitor to woo a lady is by having a visit in the lady’s house. But prior to being allowed inside the lady’s abode, the suitor needs to sing by the lady’s window otherwise known as the Harana.
If the young lass showed up through her window, it means that the admirer will be welcomed inside the house after he finish his singing. But if the lady refuse to show up and face the singing dude by her window, it signifies that she is not interested towards the guy singing outside. In Villa Escudero, their male employees get to sing old and traditional Filipino song in front of the houses where guests are billeted as if they are doing a “harana”.
But what I am most impressed about the authentic Filipino element present in Villa Escudero was its excellent food selection during breakfast. Never have I seen a buffet breakfast as Filipino as that of the selection of dishes served in Villa Escudero!
It seem that all remarkable Filipino breakfast dishes are featured in their buffet. Aside from the usual fruits, yogurt, cereals, jams, milk and eggs, there were Filipino breakfast varieties like Champorado, Singangag, Lannganisa, Lugaw, Gatas Ng Calabao, Suman Sa Lihiya, Bibingka, Crispy Danggit, Crispy Dilis, Quesong Puti and of course Kapeng Barako.
Why do I know all these? It is because Villa Escudero was again the chosen venue of Nengkoy for her to celebrate her 81st birthday. Six years ago, this was the same venue for Nengkoy’s 75th birthday. Villa Escudero no matter what year we visit still has the same authentic Filipino elements for everybody to enjoy.
There seem to be no good news in the Philippines for the past 2 years. Everything on the news concerning the situations in my country were either so bad or gone worse. Like any other ordinary citizen living in the Philippines, I long for some good news!
Because of the present economic, political and social circumstances of my country, I’m jealous and envious towards the citizens of progressive Canada. These feelings of envy was further reinforced when I saw a YouTube video of the winning dance skating performances of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the recently concluded Winter Olympics.
Though the Philippines now send delegates, I don’t normally watch the Winter Olympics held every after four years. Maybe it is because my country does not have a winter season that is why winter sports are so foreign and unfamiliar.
But when I clicked on a recommendation by YouTube about a couple of weeks ago while I was searching for good news about the Philippines in the net, I suddenly wanted to become Canadian while watching Tessa and Scott’s performances.
My foolish admiration towards Tessa and Scott further intensified when I learned (also from Youtube) that they have been partners in the sports of ice dancing since their cute childhood days. This made me further admire and fell in love with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
They seem so pleasant and amiable that is so typical of a Canadian. I totally admired them to the point that after the day this tandem won their Olympic gold medals, I Facebook-messaged a friend and former colleague (Chef Onille Pitogo) who is now based in Canada, I told her to say hi to both Tessa and Scott if she happens to bump unto this lovely couple.
I thought that my wanting to become a Canadian would eventually wear off. But this was again revived and revitalized when I saw a homecoming video of this ice dancing legends when they arrived back in their home country.
Can some nice Canadian adopt me until the next Philippine presidential election? Hahaha! I badly need some damn awesome news about my country. And while I await for such moment, my heart continues to melt towards this lovely Canadian couple.
Some friends and colleagues still could not believe that I was able to accomplish the rigorous hiking that the mountains of Batad in Ifugao Province entails. Some were actually not surprised when they heard the hardships and learned that I was the crankiest, most ill-tempered and was the number one complainer among our group. As If my complaining was the highlight of our Batad adventure! Hahaha!
But people don’t realize that aside from the breathtaking sites, I was able to appreciate how lucky I am based on how my life has been going on compared to the simple folks living in Batad. That is why seeing locals especially the farmers who keeps the bizarre and phenomenal rice terraces by their bare hands humbles me. I may have been blessed more than these folks yet I have so much respect for these people. Batad folks may not own the possession that a modern human being enjoys now, yet they are the people who chose to live simple, enjoy simple and chose to maintain a beautiful earth wonder by their very own hands.
Kudos to the people of Batad! You definitely are one of a kind! Galing nyo grabe!
*thanks to Aiko and JB’s cameras for these photos…
Batad in Ifugao Province is not just its beautiful and majestic rice terraces, another awesome attraction and must-visit destination found in Batad is its strong, massive and breathtaking waterfalls known as Tappiya Falls.
Hidden in the lush green rainforest, a one-hour hike in the mountains of Batad will take you to the beautiful Tappiya Falls. Without a doubt, the turquoise fresh water and the perfect natural surroundings will fascinate every living soul who can luckily be able to reach it.
It was a tiring hike from our hotel in the secluded town of Batad to Tappiya Falls and back, especially those long flight of stairs at the edge of the mountain. But being able to reach and marvel at the actual Tappiya Falls after a grueling hike was something so rewarding already. All body aches, lung-bursting tiredness and anxiety whether to be able to finish the hike or not simply went away as soon as I dipped into the fresh cool water of Ifugao! Being able to see, smell, feel and conquer Tappiya Falls make me the proudest!