philippines

Marcela Agoncillo Historical Landmark in Taal, Batangas

I visited the house of Marcela Agoncillo, the woman who is known to Filipinos as the person who made the first and official flag of the first Philippine Republic.

Ideally, that’s a good start.

A group of teens entered the Marcela Agoncillo Historical Landmark and upon seeing the statue fashioned after Marcela sewing the flag, a visiting teenage girl squeaked: “the flag was made here?!” Examining the statue some more and glancing back at her companions she once again exclaimed: “the flag was made here?!” I exhaled heavily and silently exited the crime scene.

Nonetheless, the house is beautiful and the ambiance leaves you exclaiming questions that would (like the teenage girl) lead you back in time. It is located in the old, historical town of Taal, Batangas and open from Wednesday to Sunday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

I took these photos, you be the judge.

The first Philippine flag made by Marcela Agoncillo was unfurled in May 28, 1898 at the Teatro Caviteño in Cavite Nuevo (now Cavite City) when it used as Aguinaldo’s standard in the Battle of Alapan. The reason for the country’s annual celebration of the Philippine National Flag Day.

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We Love Batad!

From Sampaloc, Manila, we took an overnight (Ohayami) bus that left at 9:00 PM (August 20) going to the municipality of Banaue, traversing a series of cliffside roads up North. The roads are long, winding, rough, wet (due to rains this time of the year), and risky. We arrived at around 8:00 AM the next day (Thursday), had breakfast overlooking the Banaue rice terraces, found a special trip (shared with 6 backpackers) at noon to visit the Batad rice terraces, a UNESCO-declared World Heritage.

Spent the night in Batad, slept in a traditional Ifugao house (with the convenience of modernity: a mattress). Pounded rice manually. Hiked up to the highest view point of the Batad ampitheatre terraces. Witnessed a huge rock mountain landslide that sounded like thunderstorms. Hiked back to the Jeepney joint and took a jeep back to Banaue to spend the night there before going to Sagada the morning after.

Sagada was a good 3-hour trip with endless exhilarating scenery. Food choices were the best we’ve had in the trip so far. I devoured a home-made yoghurt. We arrived at around noon of Saturday, spent the whole afternoon sampling food, exploring the streets of Sagada on our own, and admiring the limestone formations and pine trees that generally define the landscape of this charming, isolated, and artsy mountain town.

Tough, rough, exquisite nature. E-x-q-u-i-s-i-t-e!

Exploring More of Dumaguete, Philippines

Some days I get excited at the prospect of discovering new stories, I think about finding my way to new destinations, imagine the beauty of nature, taste local delicacies i.e. some days, I wake-up really excited about traveling. Rightfully so because traveling takes us places as beautiful as the province of Negros Oriental.

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Who wouldn’t want to be a witness to this? A common sight in Sibulan, Negros Oriental. A rural community on the mountainside located just beside the capital city of Dumaguete.

Us, Burburs, took a Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to Dumaguete City, we booked a promo ticket online last April. Upon our arrival at Sibulan airport (popularly known as Dumaguete airport), we rode the local transport – a tricycle for PhP40.00. We asked kuya (aka driver) to take us to the motorbike rental. Another kuya (in-charge of the motorbike rental) asked for an ID deposit + PhP300  for 24 hours rental. After dropping by the gas station, we used the motorbike to look for a hostel. The search led us to a backpacker’s hostel that cost PhP800 per night for an airconditioned room with double bed. We took a quick shower and went out for dinner:

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We devoured our dinner at Lab-as restaurant located on the other end of Rizal boulevard. Lab-as is bisaya for “fresh,” and bisaya is a Filipino language widely spoken in Negros Oriental (Visayas & Mindanao at large).

Now, imagine a live band serenades you as you eat your fresh seafood while you look at the moon by the seaside. That was our Friday night in Dumaguete. Before  going about how even more brilliant the day that followed, we could never let our first night in the “City of Gentle People” end without trying these famous Dumaguete delicacies:

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Sans Rival. Did you know that this pastry name is French? The term translates as “without rival” (sans /sah/ is without, rival /reeval/ has the same meaning as the English word rival). According to one story, the recipe of Sans Rival was taken to the Philippines by some students who came back from France. Sans Rival’s origin can be traced to the French pastry called daquoise.

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Silvanas. The object of everyone’s craving, or at least of my friends who couldn’t resist asking for this as their “pasalubong”.

The next day, the Burburs woke up with a few more pounds and extra determination to explore the province. On the (non-food) itinerary was Balinsasayao Twin Lakes in Sibulan. The sights going to our main destination didn’t disappoint.

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The Philippine’s national animal: carabao (kalabaw, karabaw) seen here taking a well-deserved siesta during early afternoon. A rice farmer’s bestfriend, the carabao plows the field for rice planting that starts at the rainy season, then and now.

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Acacia trees, one of the many beautiful trees that line up the roads leading to the Twin Lakes.

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Wild flowers.

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And some more colorful wild flowers.

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The Burburs at the entrance of the Balinsasayao Lake. Fee is 100 pesos for foreigners (the Bur at the back riding the motorcycle) and 10 pesos for locals (the big-faced Bur infront). Motorcycle is always our preferred means of transportation in exploring the countryside.

Our Negros adventures shall continue…

Dolphins Showing Up Without a Memo in Negros Oriental, Philippines

One of the dive masters shouted “dulpin!”, he pointed at the far horizon and made a hand gesture intended for the boat captain.

I was busy looking at people napping on the boat.
Two Korean guys infront of me were both tall and lean donning the same hairstyle and were in almost identical napping position, a middle-aged Taiwanese couple beside me looked very deep into slumber as the wife’s head rested comfortably on her seated husband’s lap. Their two teenager boys, meanwhile, were silently sleeping (as opposed to their only other state: wide-awake bickering) at the boat’s upper deck.

Either I was too preoccupied or I hardly understood the context of what the dive master was saying. Until moments later, everybody rushed towards the front edge of the boat and the dolphins became visible under the clear, deep blue waters of Dauin, Negros Oriental.

There must’ve been a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand dolphins alternately half-circling on and off the water surface! I couldn’t count, of course, all I know is that they were all over the sea. Some dolphins were staying closer to one another, most of those within our very limited view of them were noticeably staying in small groups as if racing with each other and those staying close to our boat, racing with our captain. My good guess is that there’s one important trait Filipinos and dolphins share: our love to entertain! That impromptu dolphin show was nothing short of magical.

How Much to Travel in the Philippines: Camiguin Island Expenses

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Landing in Camiguin.

Des (browsing through the in-flight magazine): Look! There’s an Eiffel Tower in Japan!

Yoann: That’s France, always imitate, never coppayyd. (English translation: always imitated, never copied.)

I am starting a travel inventory. I want to keep a tab of how much Yoann and I spend whenever we travel. Spending money is probably the easiest task there is, and that is even made more true when traveling. So yes, I am starting a travel inventory. I used to do this all the time for my work so doing it again now is only coated with sweet nostalgia. I must say this list is accurate enough at 98%. I was able to keep most of the receipts!

Quantity and unit price is indicated below as (axb); 3×13; 3 qty x 13 unit price = total transaction amount. Laugh all you want at my attempt at Maths but YOU wouldn’t want to miss that for bargaining! Sundry /sundree/ pertains to miscellaneous, infrequent expenses (those that don’t fall under the other categories, basically).

Here we go!

Expenses Summary:

1st Day = PhP 2,595.50

2nd Day = PhP 4,406.00

3rd Day = PhP 2,690.00

4th Day = PhP 886.50

5th Day = PhP 5,650.00

6th Day = PhP 3,175.32

7th Day = PhP 1,827.00

Plane ticket for two = PhP9,062.38

TOTAL: PhP35,292.70 or 17,746.35 pesos per person. 

Remember: 7 days of good food and various island adventures!