MRJJGUERRERO

Living without Borders

DSC_0387_20150315132421220


3 Comments

Mount Pulag and the Ten Life “HUGOT’s” It Taught Me

There are places in this planet each of us would like to see, not just because they’re pop. We like to be there because they magnetize our emotions and possibly challenge our physiques, or could be out of pure wanderlust and sheer indulgence in adventures. There are few places, however, which could sum them all up and which, like a filter, chooses who may pass and who may not. Mount Pulag is one great example.

Rising 2922 meters above sea level, Mount Pulag is the highest peak in mainland Luzon, second in the Philippines. It is a protected site under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) of the Philippine government, of which DENR has full jurisdiction. It is likewise part of a vast ancestral domain of the tribes of central Luzon, custodians of both the natural and cultural heritage of the place.

DSC_0361_20150315062100970

Climbing Mount Pulag was my first attempt of a real hiking (although I fell short in some aspects of it). This first time brought me to many realizations, of which I wish to share:

1. Base decisions on concrete motivations, not on feelings that are fleeting. Mount Pulag is a long walk and a relatively steep climb. Although the thought of the summit is amazingly good, it should not overshadow the reality of the steps we have to make to reach the top. Put into mind, however, that it may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

DSC_0387_20150315132421220

2. When you visit Mount Pulag, pack the essentials, both the visible and the invisible. Bring a good tent (not necessarily a posh one hehe), a thick but light sleeping bag, and comfortable thermal wears. You wouldn’t need to change often because the temperature drops to an almost piercing cold. Bring a lot of patience for the long climb, and much chocolates for both the carbo as energy source and for serotonin to keep on flowing.

3. Gravity is one constant thing. Whether you are up there or down, you experience the same pull. What makes it seem stronger or weaker is attitude.

DSC_0392_20150315222426065

4. Climbing Mount Pulag will tire you. Rest as often as you must, sip water to replenish your arsenals. But keep in mind that the sun will not wait for you before it rises, and the sea of clouds will not be there forever. Take your time, but remember to hasten when you need to.

DSC_0350_20150315222943457

5. Some signs are too hard to believe. Along the way, a signage will tell climbers they are about this kilometer far from the summit, only to find out it is farfetched from what your feet can measure. Life can sometimes give false hopes. But I am inclined to believe that life will not test us beyond our strength. Our capacity should never be limited by what we see along the way. Whether the road is narrow or wide, our feet should dictate how far we can go.

DSC_0397

6. When you reach the summit, savor the moment. Take photos, make memories, feel the bliss! Being on top of the world is great, but realizing why you’re there is much more important. Whatever your reasons are, make them simple and straight forward. Life is complicated, and the least you want to do is to make your reasons blur and hard to comprehend.

7. Pray. Adore, confess, Thank and solicit. Mount Pulag is the playground of the gods. Although I believe in just one God, the summit is an opportunity to be amazed by how great His handiworks are. And if He can do such beautiful creation, I believe He has grander plans for our lives.

8. The only way to go home is to climb down. The summit is windy and cold, bordering to hostility towards our tired bodies. Staying for so long up there even when were done doing our things, took all the photos and savored the moment, will only damage our frames, more so our mood. Just as in life, working too hard is never good. Work smart instead.

DSC_0372_20150315132535044

9. Climbing together is always better than climbing alone. Enjoy both the personal journey and the tintinnabulation of a group. In this case, I think it is safe to say this: if you can, use half of your energy to reach your goal, so that when your friends need help, you have another half to lend.

10. Leave the things that will slow you down. Getting to the summit fast is not necessary, but getting there safe and in one piece is a must. Gauging which to bring and how much of it will depend on how many pockets you have or if you’re willing to bring a bag with you. Just as in life, unloading the heart of burdens will ease your gait. A much better option than littering the meandering road with the many shards of desperation and angst, which may hurt others and yourself.

Live and enjoy the seven thousand islands of the Philippines. It is really more fun in this country!


Leave a comment

TOP TEN PHILIPPINE DESTINATIONS FOR SUMMER 2015

Wanting to book your tickets but do not have any idea where to go? Here are the top ten picks that you might want to consider this summer 2015!

Banawe, Ifugao

No where in the world can you find staircases as magnificent as this! This 2000-year old structure is a legacy of the Filipino genius and innovative mind.

No where in the world can you find staircases as magnificent as this! This 2000-year old structure is a legacy of the Filipino genius and innovative mind.

The stairways to heaven is here in the Philippines! Built by our forefathers some two thousand years ago, this magnificent rice terraces is a lasting reminder of how hard work, vision and culture can stand the test of time. Officially known as the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Philippine classic destination is more than a tourist spot. You can actually volunteer in repairing some of the damaged terraces! Be a Voluntourist in a participatory activity called Bachang or bayanihan in the Ifugao dialect. The activity focuses on stone walling, or moving rocks to fortify the eroded portions of the terraces, and a recreational and post-immersion activity involving a trek to the rice terraces and down to Tappiyah Falls.

Boracay

This top beach destination is a must. If not now, plan to visit at least once in your lifetime! You will be amazed by how great the Creator is!

This top beach destination is a must. If not now, plan to visit at least once in your lifetime! You will be amazed by how great the Creator is!

You don’t want to miss the best beach in the world, do you? Boracay Island is the top destination during the summer times, but is equally enticing anytime of the year. Enjoy the bustling beach life in the morning through the many fun water activities and the even more vibrant evening through fire dancing, clubbing and eat-all-you-can restos and cafes! If you like the serene, hire a vinta to ferry you to Puka Beach and bask in the sun while lying down on puka shells mixed with fine sand. Sunsets are great moments, too!

Coron, Palawan

Where nature is personified, Coron is where you get to find serenity and commune with nature. Bring your family and friends along, or perhaps someone special to your heart. =)

Where nature is personified, Coron is where you get to find serenity and commune with nature. Bring your family and friends along, or perhaps someone special to your heart. =)

Coron is one of the small islands at the northern tip of Palawan, the country’s last frontier. This place is the concrete example of paradise on earth, marrying imagination with reality and blurring the line that separates them. A three – day worry – free trip to the place will do the trick. That’s about enough time to explore the islets of the Siete Picados (Seven brothers), paddle in the Barracuda Lake, gaze at the picturesque scene of Kayangan Lake and interact with the fish of the Coral Triangle and Sunken Ship. Coron is where every angle of the eyes is a paradise!

Porac, Pampanga

Get out of the city and head to this new adventure garden. Test your limits, and I mean literally!

Get out of the city and head to this new adventure garden. Test your limits, and I mean literally!

There’s this new place called Sandbox that attracts the free-spirited and the adventure seekers. The place offers thrilling rides that challenge your strength and courage. This is exactly the place for the bold! So if you say you’re brave enough to take that leap of faith, why not literally jump off the free fall station and see how long it takes you to actually decide to do it! Or perhaps, you can try the traditional wall climbing and rappelling or ride a zip line with literal twists and turns! Sandbox is perfect for family getaways, friendly escapades and company outings, all to build camaraderie and simply break free!

Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

Tilapia capital of the country, never leave the place without one on your plate. =)

Tilapia capital of the country, never leave the place without one on your plate. =)

We only know the metro Cebu. But there is a hidden hamlet in South Cotabato called Lake Sebu. This town is known for their tilapia which they grow and carefully harvest from their clean lake. Tourism has grown better through the years. When you visit, try the highest zip line in Asia! Glide over the falls and rivers that cruise the misty forests of South Cotabato.  Because the place is perched high up the mountains, the cold atmosphere is perfect to shoo away the summer heat. The best entry point is through General Santos City.

Tagaytay City

Not just a good place to unwind, Tagaytay City is also a great place to invest. =)

Not just a good place to unwind, Tagaytay City is also a great place to invest. =)

If you just live in the bustling metro Manila, a once in a while weekend getaway to Tagaytay is a good breather from the stress and rush. It’s relatively cheap, close to work and has a cooler atmosphere, akin to that of Baguio City minus the six hours of travel. The two-hour trip to Tagaytay City allows you to have that photo with Taal Volcano, the smallest volcano in the world! If you want to push it a little bit more, organize a trip to Taal itself! Many independent travel groups are doing weekend rounds for a minimal contribution. Whichever you like, the photo-op with Taal or be inside Taal, Tagaytay City is where you start that journey.

Iloilo

Iloilo presents a multi-faceted face of love. Get out of the city and explore the other towns of the province. You might find love in the unexpected places. =)

Iloilo presents a multi-faceted face of love. Get out of the city and explore the other towns of the province. You might find love in the unexpected places. =)

Eat, pray, love. That’s how you summarize this superb province in the island of Panay. Iloilo city, the capital, and the many towns are linked by the delectable cuisines, historic churches such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Miagao and the upbeat life of the metro. Dinagyang Festival happens every January, one of the three giant festivals, including Sinulog of Cebu and Ati-Atihan of Kalibo, that jumpstart the year-long festivities in the country. Find time to visit Damires Hills, a farm resort in Januiay, Iloilo that offers amenities such as a swimming pool, ATV, zipline and the likes. More than that, you will almost always fall in love with their “malambing” accent, making you want to come back, if not, stay!

Valencia and Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental

book a trip to this livable city and try the sweets, the strolls and the stress-free life of Dumaguete. If you like the hype, head to the next town of Valencia!

book a trip to this livable city and try the sweets, the strolls and the stress-free life of Dumaguete. If you like the hype, head to the next town of Valencia!

The quiet town of Valencia, some 9 km from the capital city of Dumaguete, is a must-see for adventurers and nature lovers. Unknown to many, this town will soon become a rising star, along with Dumaguete, where the urban and the countryside are one and the same. Before you visit, practice your motorcycle skills as the place is best toured on a bike. Never miss the Pulangbato Falls, a picturesque falls hidden in one of the resorts of Valencia, and the sans rival, the ultimate treat to the taste buds!

Cauayan City, Isabela

The Ideal City of the north is ready to welcome travelers the world over. Enjoy the fusion of history and contemporary. =0

The Ideal City of the north is ready to welcome travelers the world over. Enjoy the fusion of history and contemporary. =0

When you go north, it’s usually to the heritage city of Vigan, summer capital city of Baguio or somewhere else in between. This time, try exploring the ideal city of the north, Cauayan! For years, it has remain hidden up until development projects opened it to the world of tourism. It has its own airport, so travel won’t be too tiring, has its own SM, one that is uniquely designed, and has its own share of history and culture. It is two hours from Tuguegarao City, the hottest place in the country!

Albay

Visit this province of Bicol and enjoy the many things that it has to offer. Ensnare your senses with only the best!

Visit this province of Bicol and enjoy the many things that it has to offer. Ensnare your senses with only the best!

It’s the province where typhoons are always passing by, but Albay remains to be the most resilient province in the country, and in the last few years, no lives were lost due to disasters. That’s one of the many reasons you should visit this crown province of the Bicol region. More than the majestic Mayon Volcano, the many extreme sports, the more than sixteen festivals capped by the annual Magayon fest, Albay offers all sorts of flavors that ensnare the taste buds, sites that will capture your gaze, scents and sounds that will bring you to the historic past, and the vibes to make you look forward to the future!

The provincial capitol is located in Dumaguete city.


1 Comment

Pinas Muna: Dumaguete, the City of Gentle People

Wondering where to head next this year where you can both enjoy the serene and the urban, immerse in both the countryside and the rocking metro, or perhaps have a vacation and study at the same time?  Dumaguete City might be that place for you!

entrance to the Dumaguete airport

entrance to the Dumaguete airport

Read it over in social media and I did see it myself, Dumaguete City is one of the most sustainable cities in the country. Cost of living is low, but provides an equally gratifying metro feel. Known as the university town, this capital city of Negros Oriental is the largest in the province and is home to four huge universities and many other colleges, making the place a converging point for young people to seek higher learning. Siliman University, a protestant school and the first American school in Asia, is one of the four, along with St. Paul University, established by sisters of Saint Paul of Chartes in France, regarded as the first Saint Paul school in the Philippines. Foundation University, a private non-sectarian school which offers a complete educational system from kindergarten to college, and the Negros Oriental State University, a government institution, are the other two.

The sisters of Saint Paul de Chartes of France established the very first St. Paul school in the country. This edifice is in Rizal boulevard to remind us of that epic day of their arrival.

The sisters of Saint Paul de Chartes of France established the very first St. Paul school in the country. This edifice is in Rizal boulevard to remind us of that epic day of their arrival.

A simple Christmas décor within the Siliman University compound.

A simple Christmas décor within the Siliman University compound.

The gates of Siliman University is open for everyone. In fact, this road is a major road in the city.

The gates of Siliman University is open for everyone. In fact, this road is a major road in the city.

Located at the southern portion of the province of Negros Oriental, Dumaguete City is strategic both to trade and, well, pirates. No wonder the city’s name was derived from the words “daggit” and “dumaguet” which mean “to snatch and to swoop”, respectively. The famous Dumaguete Belfry was built to address the concern of marauding pirates. Built in 1760s, it was rebuilt in 1870s to discourage people from pillaging the town.

This belfry is one of the four original built to prevent people from pillaging the town.

This belfry is one of the four original built to prevent people from pillaging the town.

Just like Roxas Boulevard of Manila, Rizal Boulevard of Dumaguete offers a tranquil walk of about 800 meters facing the sea on one side, and the many establishments on the other. Travelers can choose from a plethora of treats, or simply sit on one of the benches and observe how the townsfolks while their time, as you while yours.

Rizal Boulevard. Serene in the morning, afternoon, evening. Whatever time it is, that time is the best to walk this stretch. =)

Rizal Boulevard. Serene in the morning, afternoon, evening. Whatever time it is, that time is the best to walk this stretch. =)

When you finally decide to visit, don’t overlook the adjacent town of Valencia. Getting there is best by renting a motorcycle  (we got ours at 250 pesos for the whole day, the gas is on us), just as going around the city is. Dumaguete, unlike Cebu or Davao, is a relatively small one. People, locals and tourists alike, will opt to walk or ride bikes. It is important, however, that your driving license is ready.

The town of Valencia is where you can find the Red Rock Falls. Because of the rich iron deposit and what other sorts of minerals are there, the rocks are literally bloody red. It is an amazing view, indeed! The other one is the Filipino – American – Japanese Amity Shrine. This is a reminder of the losses of World War II. Enshrined on top of a hill, the place will give you a great view of Dumaguete City. The hard part, though, is getting there. We almost got ourselves killed because the road was uncemented and we lost our balance. We just hope the road will be better when you visit, or when we come back.

The Red Rock Falls. Rocks are rich with iron.

The Red Rock Falls. Rocks are rich with iron.

The Filipino - American - Japanese Amity Shrine was the hardest to find and reach!

The Filipino – American – Japanese Amity Shrine was the hardest to find and reach!

Because we were so tired that day, we decided to dip in a local hotspring. Afterwhich, we went back to the city to catch some other sites. We ended the day with a sumptuous dinner at Moon Café and a mouth-watering coffee and sans rival at the famous Sans Rival House along Rizal Boulevard. Do not leave Dumaguete without tasting these delights.

Sulfur is coming out from the side of this mountain. We just had a dip in the local hotspring so that explains why I'm half naked. hehe

Sulfur is coming out from the side of this mountain. We just had a dip in the local hotspring so that explains why I’m half naked. hehe

Do not miss these delights at Sans Rival House. =)

Do not miss these delights at Sans Rival House. =)

Finally,  find comfort in Harold’s Mansion as your choice of accommodation. Unlike many hotels and inns where everything is made for you, this unique place allows you to enjoy the DIYs of things. Check in to find out. =)

So there you go, Dumaguete City is such an amazing place to visit. I find no words to describe the beauty of the place. Only stepping on the very ground will describe how great the place is. Dumaguete City, known to many as the City of Gentle People, is challenging us to know why it’s regarded as such. It’s more fun in the Philippines, and thank God there is Dumaguete to boost our claim. =)

DSC_9432_20141101104019106


2 Comments

Pinas Muna: Tuguegarao City, Entrance to the Cagayan Valley

That short trip to the city of Tuguegarao last October 2014 was unplanned, perhaps never been in the mind up until hours before leaving for the capital city of Cagayan Valley. Coming from Cauayan City of the adjacent province of Isabela, getting to Tuguegarao was either aboard a bus or a van, some two or so hours on the road. We took the van, mainly because it was available at that time and partly because we didn’t like dealing with a lot of people along the way (or was it? lol). My friend and I were up until the wee hours of the morning, drinking and what else, I really cannot fully remember. The point is, the headache and the hangover were pressing us down. He had to meet up with someone, whereas I, not wanting to let go of an adventure and an opportunity to see the city for the first time, tagged along. =)

The only thing I know about Tuguegarao City is that it has the highest recorded temperature in Philippine history, a whopping 46 degrees Celsius! Aside from that, however, I learned that it is the tricycle capital of the country. When we arrived at 4pm, tricycles greeted us with compromised fares, blowing of horns and a circus of invitations to ride their humble vehicle. It was fun to watch because I was new to the area. haha

Because the trip was short, I prioritized the old churches in the city. Churches are witnesses to the place’s history. How they speak is through their architecture and their silent screams of religion, politics and the struggles of Filipinos of old. True enough, the city started as a barangay established by the Dominicans in 1604 as part of a mission. How they got into the place was a challenge, given that the area is bordered by the Sierra Madre, Cordilleras and Caraballo mountain ranges. Following this establishment was the construction of the stone chapel of Saint Hyacinth. Erected outside of present-day Saint Paul University is the latest part of the rebuilding process started in 1724.

This chapel was erected by the Dominicans as a symbol of control over the place. Today, mass is celebrated every afternoon. This is my favorite spot.

This chapel was erected by the Dominicans as a symbol of control over the place. Today, mass is celebrated every afternoon. This is my favorite spot.

The Saints Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is a different design, erected in 1910. It is a mix of old and modern architecture that puts it in the list of the beautiful places to visit in the city. The interior, on a personal note, is akin to Turkish designs, embellished with the colors of earth and gold.

This cathedral has an image in the Vatican city because of its beautiful architecture.

This cathedral has an image in the Vatican city because of its beautiful architecture.

St. Paul University has its own church, a much modern feel. I had to befriend the guard on duty to have my photo taken in front of the church. The light was dimming so I really didn’t have the best shot of the place. Hehe

Finally, we visited my friend’s alma mater, the main campus of Cagayan State University. Coming from a state university myself, I know how schools such as this produce the best leaders of this country. The architecture of the façade was of Greco-Roman design inspiring young men and women to pursue higher education, as did our forefathers.

The façade of the Cagayan State University, a premier school in region 2.

The façade of the Cagayan State University, a premier school in region 2.

We went home, this time aboard a bus, tired but fulfilled for the day. Tuguegarao City will now be a new travel destination, as I look forward to exploring its sights and sounds, its taste and texture and everything else in between. Maybe, just maybe, not planning trips bring you to the road less taken. And though it is short, it feels like days because every minute has to count. There is no pressure in making moments last, because, I am sure it is in the right momentum. It is more fun in the Philippines, and Tuguegarao City makes it more attractive.

DSC_9362_20141030050449751


3 Comments

Pinas Muna: Cauayan, the Ideal City of the North

A relatively young city, Cauayan is on its way to become a prime destination of the north as it interestingly marry industry and agriculture, history and modernity, all founded on the traditional Filipino way of life. As part of the province of Isabela, Cauayan stands as a bastion of progress, rightfully regarded as the Ideal City of the North.

I have to admit, I haven’t heard of the place until last month. When I book flights, I often see Cauayan as one of the destinations, yet I do not remember myself asking where that is. Last month’s “Pinas Muna” Project brought me to this place, unplanned but amazingly satisfying.

I traveled by bus, a long 8-hour road trip that passes through the provinces of Central Luzon. I arrived early morning and checked-in at Hotel Andrea, the newest hotel in the place. I waited for the sun to kiss the sky before going around.

Unlike the huge cities, the rural feel still lingers in the streets. Though there are traffic lights, the streets are not crowded with vehicles. Going around is best by a motorcycle or by rickshaw. There is a newly opened SM Mall whose architecture and design are not the usual. You have to visit it for you to understand. hehe

The city center is easy to navigate. A few steps from my hotel is the Our Lady of Pillars Church that is old in the exterior but modern and grand inside. The paintings are well done to depict biblical events. The Dominicans were the first to manage the parish when it was founded in 1739. When you visit, take the few hundred steps to the bell tower which offer you a view of the city’s landscape. I am not sure, however, if this is allowed because we just sneaked in. hehe It was a worthwhile sneak. haha

Our Lady of the Pillar Church has an old exterior that dates back to the mid 1700 when Dominican friars tried to establish Christianity among the locals of the place.

Our Lady of the Pillar Church has an old exterior that dates back to the mid 1700 when Dominican friars tried to establish Christianity among the locals of the place.

The modern interior of the Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church

The modern interior of the Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church

The paintings in the ceiling of the church was done by a local painter.

The paintings in the ceiling of the church was done by a local painter.

This is the view from the top of the bell tower of the Church. I really am not sure whetehr it is allowed, but we had a good sneak. hehe

This is the view from the top of the bell tower of the Church. I really am not sure whetehr it is allowed, but we had a good sneak. hehe

Given the limited time of my visit, and that I did not really plan it out, there was nothing much that I visited. The hospitality, though, was warm and I am sure that when I get back, there will be more than meets the eye. =)

Cauayan, literally translated to “bamboo”, is an interesting place to visit. Just as bamboo bends and transforms into anything our imagination can conjure, so will Cauayan City transform into a prime destination, an ideal city of the north. It is more fun in the Philippines because there are places like Cauayan City that allows us to challenge the human mind.

DSC_9051_20141023010431329


1 Comment

Pinas Muna: When in Angeles City, Pampanga

Many places in the Philippines are deeply drenched in Spanish influence. Churches, forts and the way of life depict Spanish colonialism in interestingly modified ways. Angeles City of the province of Pampanga, however, is inclined more to the American mentality than, perhaps, any town or city in central Luzon. Once the biggest military facility outside of continental US, it was an important hub for military strikes during the second World War. Years following Philippine independence, it remained a stronghold of the Americans, partly leading to the economic boost of the city.

This is my first visit to the city of Angeles and the municipality of Porac some fifty – minute drive from the city proper. Angeles City is derived from the Spanish phrase meaning “the town of Angels” .The first anniversary of Philippine Independence was celebrated here by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo a year after its declaration in Kawit, Cavite.

Angeles City is a bustling metropolis in central Luzon and is home to many Americans who chose to live in the Philippines

Angeles City is a bustling metropolis in central Luzon and is home to many Americans who chose to live in the Philippines

The Holy Rosary Church, a prominent parochial structure, was built through the Polo y Servicio system, or forced labor imposed by the Spaniards. The church backyard was an execution ground for Filipinos who went against the Spanish authorities. The same church served as the hospital of the Americans years after the declaration of Philippine independence.

Santo Rosario Church is an old parochial possession completed in 1909 through forced labor system. It is recognized as a national historical site by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts. Locals call it "Pisambang Maragul" or the big church.

Santo Rosario Church is an old parochial possession completed in 1909 through forced labor system. It is recognized as a national historical site by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts. Locals call it “Pisambang Maragul” or the big church.

An alternative to Angeles City’s bustling city feel is the adventure park of Sandbox at Porac, Pampanga. For the adventure seekers, this place provides a great escape from work but pumping up the adrenaline at the same time. Sandbox entertains visitors with over-the-top rides that aim to push people to their limits, conquer their fears and enjoy the sudden surge of thrill. Guests can try a modified zip line that goes wacky along the way, a freefall jump, the traditional wall climbing and rapelling, an aerial walk and a giant swing. Choose from packages or try doing the rides one at a time.

The best way to ejoy the Sandbox rides is with friends and loved ones. No alternatives, baby!

The best way to ejoy the Sandbox rides is with friends and loved ones. No alternatives, baby!

The freefall is personally my favorite because it literally translates the phrase "leap of faith".

The freefall is personally my favorite because it literally translates the phrase “leap of faith”.

It appeared simple, but man! I felt all types of aches in my body after this!

It appeared simple, but man! I felt all types of aches in my body after this!

And yes, it was fun! So much fun! Make sure to wear comfortable clothes when you head to Sandbox. And bring extra shirts as well!

And yes, it was fun! So much fun! Make sure to wear comfortable clothes when you head to Sandbox. And bring extra shirts as well!

Angeles City, cited in 2008 as one of the best places to live in the Philippines, is a lasting testament of the Filipino-American friendship. More than that, however, it is a city that challenges visitors to look beyond the obvious. Angeles has its own share of this country’s beauty and pride, and crossing out this from your travel list is akin to deleting that important piece of identity. It is more fun in the Philippines, and Angeles City is one good place to keep the momentum of fun and adventure!

DSC_8950_20141021115730185


Leave a comment

Pinas Muna: Beyond Bacolod’s Sugar Lore

Sugar is bountiful in the City of Smiles, and for many years much of the historical events in Bacolod City and the province of Negros Occidental is directly and indirectly linked to this sweetener. Today, business is driven by both the sweetness of the sugar and the enchanting smiles of the Bacolodnons. Its cultural and culinary heritage, being the birthplace of the famous inasal (roasted chicken in skewers) and a variety of sweet pastries, add to the excitement of any traveler who wants to immerse in the Land of the Sweet People.

Head to Bacolod Cupcakes Café and try the different flavors of their cupcakes. This one is part of a social enterprise!

Head to Bacolod Cupcakes Café and try the different flavors of their cupcakes. This one is part of a social enterprise!

Instead of taking a flight from Manila to Bacolod City, I crossed the Guimaras strait from Iloilo City aboard a fast craft. It took me an hour to reach the city’s port and saved me a lot of money.

Taking the boat ride to Bacolod is a cheaper alternative compared to the pricey airplane trip. This, of course, is when you are from Iloilo..

Taking the boat ride to Bacolod is a cheaper alternative compared to the pricey airplane trip. This, of course, is when you are from Iloilo..

Hidden in plain sight, there is a certain finesse to the place, a unique feature I only felt within the city and among the people. During my first trip to Bacolod City in 2013 (first blog here), I probably did not notice because I was too pre-occupied by the sites we visited. This time, though, I had time to immerse into the local arena, walked its park and enjoyed the moments as they happen.

Bacolod City has a wide plaza where locals and tourists converge for a lazy afternoon stroll. It has a lot of fountains, statues and where many events of the annual Masskara Festival take place. The colorful plaza bandstand is a meeting place to friends and colleagues such as debaters, arnis martial artists and the likes.

This newly-painted bandstand is an eye-catcher. You wouldn't miss it when you take an afternoon stroll at the plaza.

This newly-painted bandstand is an eye-catcher. You wouldn’t miss it when you take an afternoon stroll at the plaza.

Walking around will expose you to the city’s heat, as in any other metropolitan in the country, so a good cone of ice cream can dispense the heat away.

Take an ice cream around when you want to go around the plaza. It's best to combat the heat!

Take an ice cream around when you want to go around the plaza. It’s best to combat the heat!

Across the public park is the San Sebastian Cathedral. Completed in 1894, it is a coral-made church but now overlaid with cement for durability. The city of Bacolod was not named a town until 1755 and was only proclaimed a parish in 1788. Under Fr. Gonzaga as acting parish priest in 1817, people were encouraged to migrate to Bacolod and the land was opened for business and agriculture. The intertwine of government and church is further seen when the Spanish governor-general ordered the restructuring of the area politically and religiously in 1848, with the Augustinians given spiritual authority of the place. San Sebastian Cathedral is a silent witness to these events up until it was honored by Pope John Paul II in 1981 when he visited the church as part of his official trip to the country.

A coral-made church that dates back to the founding of the Bacolod parish.

A coral-made church that dates back to the founding of the Bacolod parish.

The provincial capitol and lagoon is  good place to visit as well. The provincial capitol building was the former headquarters of the Japanese during World War II. Joggers and fitness enthusiasts frequent the park and lagoon during the night time for a quick run.

Taking a stroll at the provincial capitol park and lagoon is a good way to end your Bacolod trip.

Taking a stroll at the provincial capitol park and lagoon is a good way to end your Bacolod trip.

A trip to Bacolod City isn’t only exciting during the Masskara Festival every October. The sweetness of the place is consistent all year round making Bacolod a prime destination in the country. And unlike table sugar, there is no limit to how much sweetness we can take in. It is more fun in the Philippines, and Bacolod City is just the place to open up your appetite for travel and adventure!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,972 other followers