Travel Journal

Maps and pins

Traveling Milking Mama

I traveled to Bangkok a month ago. This by far, was the trip I was most worried about – mommy duties, breastfeeding, etc. My breast milk supply has already gone dipping. I used to pump at least 4 ounces a few months ago, but since I started going to work again, I can only hit the 2-ounce mark maximum. So, I decided to maximize the time and remaining milk by taking in more supplements to bump up the supply. Unfortunately, I was bound to travel during this time of struggle.

Thinking about traveling at this point made me very uneasy. I did a lot of research and even contacted the Consulate of Bangkok for their rules with checking in breast milk on flights. And even if they assured me that it’s fine, I was still worried because Immigration officers are really meticulous and curious or however else you can call it.

The flight to Bangkok was rather easy. I brought my manual pump instead of the electric one to avoid declarations (it’s considered a medical apparatus) and lengthy explanations. I packed antibacterial ice packs and gels, pump paraphernalia, storage bags, insulated packs in my check in baggage.

At the hotel, I was very lucky that the staff were very warm and accommodating. My personal refrigerator did not have a freezer so the staff goes right up to my suite to pick up the insulated bag, wait for me to assemble the breast milk pouches, then bring it back to the hotel freezer. My principals from TaylorMade-adidas Golf as well made sure this trip would be a breeze. They assured comfort checking up on me every now and then if I got enough time to pump on breaks.

On the flight back home, I was more worried because I hand-carried the breast milk. Fortunately, I was assigned to a woman officer during the inspection. My bag was just held for a few minutes to get checked. She asked if it were for a baby girl or boy. I was so relieved that was the kind of question asked! I thought they were going to fire me a lot of questions about it. The woman officer even told me how lucky my baby is for me to get him food while I’m away. I answered politely and smiled while putting on my shoes.

I was smiling to myself on the flight. Days of research and hours of pumping have finally paid off, I have gone home with something my baby would definitely appreciate (he can’t be utterly happy about new toys and cute apparel yet). Hahaha! I would love to thank the staff of Hotel Indigo – I mean it’s their job, right, but their assistance didn’t seem like a chore (FUN FACT: They even got my Writing Project mailed for me!). I would love to express my utmost gratitude to the airport officers again for being nice and sweet. And of course, to my TaylorMade-adidas Golf SouthEast Asia Team for facilitating a very smooth and mama-friendly trip for me (also for the gift last February when I delivered my little boy)!

Oh, if you are wondering, knowing this TSA policy helps a lot! If you are still in doubt, contact the Consulate of the country you are traveling to.

Cheers!

Kuala Lumpur 2015: Another Overdue

WordPress reminded me that my last post was about a year ago, so publishing one that has been rotting in my Drafts folder.

***

So June last year, my colleagues and I traveled to Malaysia for a buying trip for one of our brands. It was a short 3-day stay, but it was a productive trip nonetheless.

We stayed at the St. Giles The Gardens Hotel. Here’s a shot from the top floors. Kuala Lumpur looks like Manila, a few green areas, tall buildings, creeks, etc., only cleaner and a more systematized transport system. They have a lot of freeways and the queue at their tollbooths is the nearest thing they have to traffic. Gawd, Manila sucks.

IMG_0830

As same as all other LDR (Long Distance Relationship) phases my Boyfriend and I go through, he has letters stashed in my office planner for me to read upon arrival at the hotel. Yes, it’s that specific. This time, it came in a form of origami. I just stole a few minutes while my colleague was freshening up to have this one shot and read. It didn’t come in a series though, only one for the weekend.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

And here’s my travel buddy. Yes, we have Nike Golf for years, and we acquired Exclusive Distributorship of Taylormade adidas Golf as well. Hurray! And yes, it’s adidas we did buying for, thus, the pair. I think this is one of the earliest of the boost technology models. It’s light and has a comfortable sole, perfect for all the walking we did the entire trip.

IMG_0868

Breakfast buffets are the best! I take shameless photos of my plate to send on Viber to my boyfriend for ~food~ updates.

Malaysia is basically a basin of culture, but majority of its population is Muslim. It’s mostly obvious through food options. Pork is rarely served. So here I had baked cauli flower, cheesy baked tomatoes, Basmati rice, hash browns, beef bacon, and chicken sausages. I almost cried, why BEEF bacon, why? The chicken sausage was good though, I liked that it had cheese.
IMG_0866

We visited the famed Jalan Alor at Bukit Bintang. It is an entire stretch of Street Food. It’s crazy – different races, all chats and noise, public performers, cars passing by, souvenir vendors, etc.

IMG_0858

Food was mostly spicy, or maybe I was just bound to love spicy food (and get fat, too).
IMG_0862

Of course, everyone’s favorite…

IMG_0861

And so far, the food that has piqued my interest in all of Kuala Lumpur, the chicken fish. I know it’s cute because, the heck, it’s smiling. But more than that, this sea creature has no bones aside from the hard one through the center. It’s white meat, chunky yet soft. It didn’t taste like chicken though. It was served fried – not oily nor spicy. Just the right hint of herbs and spices.
IMG_0860

This was the crowd to my right while dining. Crazy street.

IMG_0859

Of course, we cannot miss the Petronas Towers. Good thing we went there at night as it was majestic with the lights on and with the full moon.

IMG_0857

We left the next day hoarding Old Town Coffee.

Farewell, KL. Hoping to get back and take a not-so-touristy time out with you next time.

 

 

Bangkok 2015: An Overdue

Honestly, I can hardly think of an introduction for this post as this has been rotting in the drafts folder for nearly a year. Guess it is about time to finally send it out there as this was my first trip and Nike Golf CSI to Bangkok.

***

The flight to Bangkok took us almost 4 hours. That’s the longest I’ve been on air. As mentioned in previous blogs, I am quite paranoid on flight. I had a hard time napping. I took a few trips to the loo and skipped sleep music on my ipod. Another hour was spent from airport to hotel. I was at my happiest when I arrived at my hotel room. Rest, finally.

As temporary LDRs with my boyfriend go, he sneaked out and had cute postcards sandwiched between pages of my office planner. This one’s for the day.

IMG_0150

I traveled in a group of three. So I went along with the two boys’ manly instincts and grabbed grub. At least they didn’t opt to stay at their mancave, they took me out for a big lunch at MBK instead. That was the first of the many spicy food I am to taste for God knows when time I’d be coming in and out of Thailand for buying trips. The boys were too lazy to walk and take the train, so we hailed a cab instead. They kind of briefed me with the the transportation system.

IMG_0152

Met a friend on the first day. I was brave enough to take the train on my own, but ok, I love getting lost in foreign places. I just had to keep a map with me, just in case.

IMG_0154

My first stop in Bangkok was the famed Jatujak market, no less. It’s like Manila’s Divisoria, but only a lot organized. I already had a pasalubong list, so I just had to do the pressure of hunting at that moment so I can relax the days ahead. I had good buys though. I got my mother a nicely weaved table runner. Also got her and my grandmother silk scarves. Haven’t actually bought for myself then, because I was saving for a pair of Nike’s (LOL) but was already eyeing leather bags. It was humid on that day, just had to cool down with coconut ice cream. I think this was just around THB35-50, toppings included. Jatujak isn’t just a shopping heaven, it also boasts of monstrous street food. They have the spiciest balls and grilled pork around, and they perform while preparing your Thai Iced Tea!

IMG_0156

It was rather late when I got back the hotel room. The boys thought I got lost and I kept receiving Viber messages asking where I was, or if I need help commuting, etc. HAHA This was the last snap before I went to bed. Looks just like our own Manila.

IMG_0161

I was never a morning person, but the breakfast buffet definitely motivated me to get up earlier than usual. Their bacon and sausages are the best!

IMG_0264

Nike Golf’s SEA office is just stone’s throw away from the hotel. Thank God! I can get to the Conference Hall in a matter of 5 minutes, depositing of ID at the Reception Area included. Nike really has a sleek modern office! I haven’t taken any photos though as I might be judged of sneaking around. Their rooms/halls are named after novelty shoes. Isn’t it so cool to hold office at Airforce One or at Air Max?

Found Rory McIlroy imitating David lying around. Life (Golf) imitating art, eh? So witty.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Walked around Paragon and suddenly believed in love at first sight. Heehee.

IMG_0196

Same night, Team PH went out with Team Indo for dinner. We were scouting for real Thai food. We wanted to try Chicken Rice but the train queue was unbearable so we dined at Lek Seafood, which was just right under the train station. HAHA! Good thing I was the only girl in the crew and the only first-timer so I always had the first bite of every dish. All four boys battled it out in the table after I’ve taken my part.

I never thought I’d love Thai food, but Lek Seafood’s Tom Yum and Steamed Fish blew me away. See how beautifully legit this fish is served?

Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 preset

As everyone ended up being full from dinner. We all decided to swim. Team Indo went straight to the pool area and dipped in the same clothes they wore during dinner. Yes, that Suzanne Petersen-signed shirt was immersed in water. Those two guys were a mix of cool and crazy.

IMG_0182

The next day was more serious stuff at the office, so there just had to be a party by night. This was at Cloud 47, one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings. Beautiful Bangkok city lights. We walked to and fro this venue. We made a detour at Pat Pong on the way back to the hotel. That was one of the craziest walks I had in my entire life. Imagine waking and being followed around by people holding menus of what the red light district had to offer! I was actually asking myself what the hell we were doing there!

IMG_0231

Apparently, fun really starts as soon as the sun sets. As Team PH and Team Indo have been lusting for Chicken Rice, Nike Golf’s head took us to this small Chicken Rice shop on the road leading to the Floating Market. We walked from the hotel to this restaurant, took us almost an hour. We were starving. This better be good!

IMG_0209

And Sui Heng Hainanese Chicken did not disappoint. This quaint restaurant boasts of tasty Chicken Rice, beyond par of those famed Sinagapore counterparts. It was summer and I was already having allergies, but I had chicken to my heart’s content.

Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 preset

Look at that white tender meat!

IMG_0204

The following day was the Marketing Team’s tour. So tempted to take a dip, but ugh, have to prepare for the long road trip ahead.

IMG_0265

As Nike Golf launched the Vapor line of Irons and Metalwoods, Nike Golf shifted its color scheme from red (remember Covert?) to the Volt Green. I believe this is a good marketing move as it possesses a younger, electric, and more energetic feel. Well, aside from the fact that the color really drives attention. Look at this Limited Edition Driver for Michelle Wie. Doesn’t it look hip?

IMG_0224

And this cute headcover for Rory. I actually asked the Nike SEA team why Rory’s was a dog. (I mean, Tiger’s was a tiger for all the obvious reasons) Well, because Rory had the same headcover for years. Good to know, actually. Would have to consider that a selling point aside from the fact that you could get it for free with a purchase of two dozen Nike RZN Balls.

IMG_0226

Getting from one store to another was quite tiring. I just had to have my sugar fix. Now, this one’s the Thai Tea Crepe Cake. Which is like the best dessert I ever had in Bangkok because duh?! That’s Thai Iced tea and Crepe cake in one! My photo makes no justice and I can’t find the right words to describe what heaven on earth this tastes like!

Processed with VSCOcam with a4 preset

Had a lot of curries too. This one’s Green Beef Curry with Roti. It’s a mild curry so it’s easy on the palate.

IMG_0219

One of the most anticipated part of the trip, Nike Factory Store!

IMG_0283

Had to take a photo of this washroom, as it looks like a public bath area in Greece circa Renaissance era. I just wish I didn’t include myself in the photo.

IMG_0305

We had a cruise at the Chao Praya River. It was a beautiful tour, I just hope there was someone who actually spoken about the historical landmarks along the river instead of a voiceover which was hardly ever heard.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

I wasn’t able to take enviable photos of the tour. I was just struck in awe with the images of their majestic temples. I can’t believe I’ve seen a temple in gold, shining at night, or a temple with intricate details seen from afar, or parks and homes of royals luminescent in the dark.

This is the Rama VIII bridge. Majestic is an understatement. I’d like to walk upon it one day.

IMG_0329

Met with my friend, or twin should I say, the next day. We met at Jatujak again. She helped me complete my pasalubong list. She was actually on her last days in Bangkok too. After a few days, she flew and relocated to Norway. So sad, I wouldn’t be able to meet her on my future visits to Thailand.

IMG_0360

I always compare Philippine airports with those abroad. That’s a dreadful thing to do, I know, but this one I can’t help to.

Thais are deeply rooted in their history. They take so much pride in their country and culture. Their gateways (airports) have guardians (see pictured below), narratives and depictions of their gods and goddesses. And mind you, these are enormous.

IMG_0372

Finally, it’s time to board the plane. Farewell, Bangkok. Until the next Nike Golf CSI.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Baguio Eats

There’s a certain kind of love that compels me to travel up North every now and then. Must be the weather, must be the food. This post will be focusing on the latter.

As previously mentioned in most of my posts, I have spent but a brief time in Baguio in 2005 during my freshman year in UP. I never actually cared about the good eats then. I relied majorly on cafeteria food, carinderia stalls, fastfood, food my roommates bring back from home, or some food I experimented. It was actually only a few years ago I realized Baguio really does boast of good food finds. Here are a few from my last trip:

Cafe Sabel is the restaurant within Bencab Museum. The restaurant has an artsy interior and a breathtaking view of the Benguet mountains. A cup of coffee would actually suffice (the view was already filling to the soul), but since it was a little past lunch time, I had to order something heavy. I opted for the Tuyo Pasta. I liked that it wasn’t too salty but still flavorful – there was a hint of herb, of cheese, and of tuyo (dried anchovies). It was a tasteful delight to the palette.

IMG_0566

Boyfriend had the chops. It was rather ordinary, if not for the fresh siding.
IMG_0567

Vizco’s Strawberry Shortcake!!! This is something you just can’t miss when in Baguio. Creamy and dreamy, just the right amount of sweetness. I’m so craving now, wish we had Vizco’s here in Manila.
IMG_0634

Oh My Gulay is one of the most popular culinary finds in Baguio. Owned by artist Kidlat Tahimik, it’s a restaurant and a gallery in one – the most beautiful too, methinks. I personally consider this one of the most memorable places in Baguio. Not only have I spent afternoons here after researching for my thesis, I met and had the most sensible tete a tete with artist Willy Magtibay. I believe that conversation persuaded/lead me into actually going to the direction of Artsafter Graduation.

Well, that was too much an introduction! My favorite from Oh My Gulay is their Bulaklak Tempura (Deep Fried Pumpkin Blossoms) but was unfortunately already phased out (WHAAAAT?!) so I opted for this Kabute (Mushroom) Pasta instead. Must be because I was never a fan of purely vegetarian dishes, I felt some “meat” taste lacking in the pasta.
IMG_0638

The Sili Omelette, however, was nice and cheesy. I always loved omelettes and have been used to having omelettes with only veggies so I had no issue with this one. Don’t let it fool you though, it isn’t hot nor spicy.

IMG_0639

OMG’s Clubhouse Sandwich was as fresh as it could be. It didn’t bother me that the egg was substitute for meat. I actually kind of liked it, like it was a healthy breakfast sandwich of some sort. I loved the fruity, sweet, and tangy salad dressing!
IMG_0640

50’s Diner is one of the oldest establishments in Baguio. Best known for its Hollywood themed interiors,you’d see posters of old movies hanging on walls. I just hope the Jukebox still works though! This is also one restaurant that boasts of grand servings so just had to had She. It’s actually a protein plate – with beauty all mixed and mashed up – pork chop, chicken wing, beef sirloin, fish fillet, hotdog, french fries, and mixed vegetables, all golden fried. Taste was nothing spectacular though, or maybe I was already full upon first sighting.
IMG_0681

Boyfriend had the Gambler’s Choice. It was a heavy plate too. It had beef chops, prawns in barbecue sauce, and mixed vegetables. Nothing spectacular again.
IMG_0682

For days, we had breakfast at the Tam-Awan Village Cafe. I was very impressed with how they fused the normal food fare with traditional flavors of the north. For example, their clubhouse sandwich had etag (fermented lean pork) instead of ham and bacon. Taste was more smoky and flavorful.
IMG_0700

As for their omelette, you wouldn’t get butter alone for your toast. They mixed in honey, which is one of Baguio’s best produce, to give a tinge of sweetness to the savory breakfast.

IMG_0703

We also dropped by Hill Station for sugar fix one afternoon. We sampled on their New York Cheesecake, which was smooth and creamy, nothing special though.

IMG_0714

I’ve developed an instant liking though with their Lemon Meringue Bars. It gives the right tang when you’re already having a feeling of “umay” from all the sweetness.

IMG_0715

For the boyfriend’s Birthday Lunch, we opted to just stay in the Village and have a helping of their Cordilleran dishes. Boyfriend chose Pinikpikan, as we missed this during our trip to Sagada a year ago.

Pinikpikan is basically a chicken stew much like tinola, only more savory. Its root word “pikpik” directly translates to “light beating”, a process the chicken undergoes for its preparation. The dish originated from Cordilleran ritual of sacrifice for special occasions.

The Village’s version had thick broth with mostly fleshy parts of the chicken and a few etag strips. Etag’s strong flavor greatly enhanced the broth, lending a smoky and salty flavor to it.

IMG_0717

I had kini-ing. It looks like liempo, yes, but undergoes a rather complicated method of preparation too. Kini-ing is mostly left under the sun to dry, but is smoked only when it rains. These are thinly sliced and possesses a smoky flavor. But do not mistaken this for etag, kini-ing does not undergo fermentation.

IMG_0718

Before we left Baguio, artist friends insisted we try dining at Good Taste. It was kind of hard to find, but if you’re wondering, it’s actually near the bus/jeepney terminal to Sagada. There were a LOT of people when we visited there. It isn’t an upscale restaurant so don’t expect too much.

Good thing though we were a bit observant of what other customers were ordering. The other table, which was only a group of three, ordered fried rice. Thus, a BIG bowl of fried rice was served in a matter of minutes, it would have been good for 8 people. Upon acknowledging the fact that their servings was hefty, we had the rice meals instead.

Boyfriend had Lechon Broccoli. Big serving, big taste. This one did not disappoint. Oh cmon, it’s lechon!

IMG_0752 I had the Beef Curry. From the smell alone, I knew they used a powdered mix. There was nothing to be overly happy about my order, except for the fresh green bell peppers perhaps.

IMG_0753

These are but a few of the many restaurants to dine in Baguio. I might do a better food crawl in the next visits. I need to have my boyfriend sample more food choices from Cafe by the Ruins, Tsokalate de Batirol, the Slaughterhouse, Ketchup Food Community, Sage, Solibao, Chef’s Home, and the list goes on and on.

Thus I assume, this one will be the first of many other Baguio food posts.

Dear Lover, Some Little Thing I Owe You

Dear Lover,

I don’t remember saying “We’d see the entire world together”. Or maybe I did, but entirely forgotten because a few memorable places would actually already do.

Remember when I told you I’m taking you to Baguio? In my head I was actually telling you I’m taking you home. And just a month ago, I did. As promised, we took the midnight bus. We did not have the luxury to recline our seats as we missed the bus we’re supposed to take. I would have wanted to keep the curtains open for you to watch the outside pass us by, but I chose that you take rest instead, for mostly, the ride we took were all freeways in sight.

The sun had already declared its might by the time we arrived. I briefed you of my soon-to-be tendency to point out random places and tell stories of what happened then and there. You let out a small laugh because I have already started right before I warned.

We jetted to Tam-Awan Village after that. We were greeted with a massive wall of graffiti my friends did for the village. It looks brighter and a lot less gruesome than it had been. We were welcomed by my old friends, whom to you are new. But at that moment, I knew you knew what I meant how faces become places and how places become faces. Their sanctuary has also become ours.

11402844_10204335230525711_7844687745588666678_n

1

You insisted we take the trek past the view deck before leaving. You loved how the weather afforded us a sweat-free trek up until the borders of the village. We hopped on to museums – of people and works you knew. Might have been because you met them once, or I acquainted you with them as per stories told then and there. We took the road up to meet the Oble of the North. I roamed the halls I used to roam. Some ten years ago, I was here, without any idea we’d exist here at one point.

11267040_10204655835336072_8019861119506057604_n11144463_10204334824355557_1746919072983258485_n11401392_10204334824795568_5481143417007783669_n10511297_10204655835696081_2527600594826086770_n

2

The night has finally put on its veil just as the rain poured, we sought refuge in a cafe because I promised to give you a taste of the best Strawberry Shortcake. I knew you’d find it not sweet enough, you requested for a slice of Apple pie. We felt we needed something to refresh our palette so we crossed Session Road and headed to an artsy vegetarian restaurant. I know I promised you a glimpse of a lesser known road but equally beautiful as Session, but the weather did not afford us – it was washed white from where we stood. Oh, it was that night you took literally The Magnetic Fields’ The Night You Can’t Remember – deluded with alcohol, you forgot how you wounded up in our room the following morning. And I, of course remembered, how you took a cold shower and jumped to the bottom bunker naked.

10450744_10204334925318081_7022615450546511591_n

The next day was a stroll on Baguio’s scariest. I must say, I am one lucky person – to have someone like you who looks at these kinds of places with utter admiration of beauty and history rather than what they are shallowly known for. I love how you marvel and wonder like a kid presented with an idea that aliens exist or something. And of course, you made the same face when confronted with a plate full of meat and protein. We took a cab home that evening. It was a toil getting one along Session Road, but it was along the trip you admired Baguio’s city lights. You struggled to take a photo from the moving vehicle. I laughed a small laugh and slipped into my mind that image of you in awe of Baguio’s lights.

11665_10204335196284855_1929148670525537772_n1604888_10204335197884895_1451178397857350620_n11407217_10204335196884870_5540681377649772711_n11401058_10204335198164902_2364751913774496760_n11108402_10204655862176743_7304481476584204664_n11407058_10204655862336747_2895013807954794909_n10487204_10204655861536727_6609106382159194728_n

I took you out for touristy things the following day. You knew this was not my forte, I hated to do this actually. We strolled Burnham Park, maybe I just had to lend you stories which unfolded there – afternoons at the playground and some moments affront the lake. We judged a few people because it was what I used to do there. We felt a pull towards SM Baguio, you insisted we watch a movie for sixty pesos. But that was then, two hours spent at the cinema now costs a hundred and fifty. Well, still not bad these days. We stayed a little while at Harrison as we did thrift shopping that evening. It was not really your thing, but I got you sniffing around looking for vintage shirts you could parade and be proud of.

10401866_10204655888777408_6178688838168404259_n 11426044_10204655890817459_6011844778704977087_n 11219454_10204655889977438_5410756209350243915_n

We woke up early the next morning to oblige for everyone’s pasalubong requests. I took you to the outskirts of the wet market – not everyone has ever been to where vegetables from La Trinidad or Sagada is dropped off, not everyone sees how vendors wash their goods onsite, and not everyone knows there’s a fifteen peso kilo of carrots there.

We no longer left the village after that. We strolled back again to the roof deck, but we caught rain. We missed the sunset, which beauty I promised you forevers ago. However, we were presented with a dazed view of the mountains and South China Sea. We stayed there for a little more while, unmindful of the sharp shudders, without need of a coat, a jacket, or a warm cup of coffee. It’s like a cheesy scene in a movie bound to make you cringe and giggle at the same time.

11429800_10204335232125751_4992371416511328048_n1384358_10204335234005798_815376031274195276_n

I thought the trip would be totally over when we set foot at the bus. On the way down Marcos Highway though, you pointed out again how beautiful Baguio’s city lights were and how it kind of reflected the serene night sky. Just when I thought we missed that part on the beginning of our journey, you brought it to me even before it came to an end.

I kind of smiled myself to sleep, knowing those days have been very exhausting, but promising and exciting. We may not have been able to tick off all that was in my Baguio checklist, but I was glad to have brought you to my heart’s home. Now, it’s yours as well.

Love always,

Asteorra

Lanuza Walking Tour

Lanuza they say, is a hidden surfing gem, mostly overshadowed by its northern counterpart, Siargao. In the last few years however, they are marketing the area for tourism. Every November, they hold a music and surfing festival for three days. Curiosity had us cruising for thirty minutes from Parang to Lanuza.

We arrived a little early. We went directly to the surf camp but there was no one to welcome us. We took a look at the beach and the waves were rather tame. Perhaps it was because of the time, like in San Juan, La Union, waves were wilder in the afternoon. So we decided to look around other sites first.

SAM_3951

I made a research prior to this trip and have read good reviews about the Centennial Old White House. It’s a hundred and twelve year old house which showcases antiques and relics. Several blogs have mentioned that this is a municipality museum. Much was our surprise when we arrived there and found out that there were still people living in the house! Apparently, heirs of the house’s original owner still reside there.

They were very warm. Kuya Armando, our tour guide, led us around the house. According to him (and some notes posted around), the structure was built on May 28, 1898 through the help of Chinese artisans. It served as the business residence of then Mayor of Cantilan, Don Gabriel Uriarte Herrera.

SAM_4023

Pottery and earthenwares can be found in random corners of the house.

SAM_3961

Corners of their ceilings were painted of this kind.

SAM_3964

This dragon detail on a jar caught my attention. Chinese artisans, maybe.

SAM_3966

That’s Kuya Armando in a white shirt. The boyfriend (in backpack) was too eager to listen to him, while I took photos of things I found interesting.

This is their living room. That guy in the piano is related to the Herrera family, methinks. He was chatting with them. Also, I remember him playing the piano while we were having the tour.

SAM_3968

Such beautiful piece.

SAM_3969

Works of different media can be found throughout the house. There are paintings, charcoal drawings, carved wooden reliefs.

SAM_3972

I remember old wooden cabinets at home having this kind of details.

SAM_3978

Old gasera(s). My father used to collect these things.

SAM_3980

This globe looks ancient in actual.

SAM_3983

Some other old finds.

SAM_3989

Some other too many old finds.

SAM_3990

Their santo(s). All of these are made of wood and some have already been infested with termites.

The Herreras sponsor holy week and other church activities. They had a locker for dresses of these saints.

SAM_3987

They have a pretty good collection of Chinaware. We have been told that some of these even came from ship wreckages.

SAM_3993

Los Mexicanos. Yes, they do have these puppets hanging on their plants.

SAM_3998

We then proceeded to their garden.

Mama Mary was surrounded with water. She even had another statue praying to her.

SAM_4002

This, they say, is where the Herreras also welcome visitors aside from their sala.

SAM_4005

SAM_4006

Dr. Herrera, Don Gabriel’s grandson I assume, joked that this well’s too old it could pass for a wishing well.

SAM_4018

Then we hopped to Propsero Pichay Sr. Boulevard, still with Kuya Armando. He told stories of people around, like who owns the houses and the resorts at the beachfront, stories of political clans, and gossip like who married who.

It was during this walk we realized that the old political families were the boyfriend’s second to third degree relatives, the Azarcons and Orozcos. They were also former mayors and vice mayors of the municipality.

SAM_4031

I wonder if this is where lifeguards chill during the height of the surfing season.

SAM_4036

Facade of the Orozco house in Lanuza.

SAM_4037

Of course, upon realization that the boyfriend’s related to once political families, we just had to visit the Lanuza Municipal Hall. It was closed at that time, but Kuya Armando being the ultimate tour guide knows the ins and outs of the building. I kid, he knows his way around because he was the assistant and landscapist of Mayor Herrera during his term.

SAM_4038

Blocks away from the municipal hall is the Herrera’s mausoleum.

It was a small structure, more like a chapel, where the family visit their departed relatives. Sometimes, they attend mass here.

SAM_4040

And surprisingly, we found familiar names in the mausoleum: Monteclaros. There were even Orozcos, Azarcons, and Limguangcos. We offered silence and prayers for a while.

It felt like we were walking for hours (well, we actually did). The heat of the sun made us tired.

SAM_4041

We headed back to the white house and ended up at the Herrera’s dining table.

SAM_4042

We thanked them for their very warm hospitality. They even told us to pay them a visit every time we fly to Surigao.

We went back to the surfing area. Unfortunately, the waves weren’t what we expected. It wasn’t the surfing season anyway.

We cruised back to Parang midst the rain. The boyfriend’s spirit did not dampen. He was obviously giddy and ecstatic about knowing people from his extended family. If only he could draft a family genealogy right then and there, he would. He was so amazed by how he found blood ties in far (relatively) and different places.

It may have been a swift and tiring walking tour, but it was all worthwhile, Lanuza. You made my annoyingly happy man a lot happier.

How to Eat in a Town Fiesta

Born and raised in Manila, I never really had the chance to experience a real town fiesta. Do not pity me, our parish does have fiesta in honor of our patron saint. However, it is not as fun as how other places celebrate it. By “real” fiesta, I mean house hopping and getting stuffed with dishes every house has to offer.

I believe I mentioned in the previous blog something about learning from experience (late aircrafts, ugh), and from the town fiesta experience I had in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur just two weekends ago, here are some notes and tips on how to survive eating in a town fiesta.

  • Give your tummy an ample room for the (eating) activity. A cup of coffee or tea may already be enough in the morning. If you have a pretty large storage, a few slices of bread would be fine too. You know when they say “pinaghandaan ko to” (I prepared for this)? It’s the most appropriate for this.
  • Skip rice. Isn’t this already the rule of the thumb? Bet you have done this in buffets or all-you-can-eat restaurants. But if you really can’t say no to carbs, take less than a cup. Or mull over the space it will occupy in your stomach. Feeling guilty now?
  • Get food in small portions. Do not hoard ulam (viand). Sample each dish in small amounts and make papak (to eat with no rice) instead. If you like a dish, you can go back anyway. This is also a good way to not make flavors too empowering.

 Clockwise: Fried chicken wings, fish fingers and honey mustard dip, ginger prawns, Lechon, and Menudo.

SAM_3874

  • Get minimal portions of dessert. In the same household as plate number 1, desserts were individually served and equally distributed: a slice of chocolate cake, a square brownie, and a cup of buko salad. I would have wanted to say no to the chocolate cake and brownie, but I had to finish the dessert plate since it was served in front of me. I already felt a little bloated that time. I wonder how much starch and glucose that was!
  • Opt for greens, or dishes with vegetables. It was a blessing the second house had a make your own salad bar. I would have skipped the dressing, but the veggies needed a little more zest. Also, yes, that’s a lechon rib, because that’s a freaking lechon and rib in one.

SAM_3878

  •  Variety. Get at least one dish for every kind of meat. Get at least one dish for every kind of cooking or taste. From the choice of meat below, note that there are no two dishes of the same meat. Also, I kind of picked them out from the way they were cooked or seasoned. I had something dry (pork), something sweet and bony (chicken), and something smooth but savory (fish), so I wouldn’t get umay (feeling overloaded after consuming too much food or flavor) from similar taste.

Clockwise: Rubbed and deep fried pork spare ribs, roasted and glazed chicken, Fish Escabeche

SAM_3879

  • Skip carbonated drinks (and beer), if possible. I mean, with all the flavors exploding and inhabiting your mouth, you may rinse and burp it out a little with a glass of Coke. However, it is not necessary to gulp it down in every household. Refer to plate number 2, you think soda would go well with the salad, no? You can always request for water anyway.
  • Kill time before or after eating. Drop the little you’ve gained by walking from house to house, or engaging in a chit chat before delving into your food. If you are visiting distant relatives, it’s best to converse about family matters, and good old memories. If you’re dropping by homes of friends of friends, you can tell them about your stay and ask if there are places in the vicinity they suggest you to visit.
  • Do not be shy to ask for a to-go. If you are really really stuffed, you may ask to skip the meal and make pabalot instead. In the last house we visited, we were already too full to function (aka eat), so our Tita Tess asked for a to-go from her niece instead. The to-go landed the dining table the next day and we didn’t even have to say no to the host.
  • Be courteous and well-mannered. Not because it is a buffet sans the fine dining atmosphere means you have to let go of your table manners. Be mindful of your kubyertos, the area you take when eating, and the noises you make. Smile (even when your tummy’s already aching) to everyone you are being introduced or acquainted with. Be courteous when asking for extras like water, table napkins, etc. And lastly, return them hospitality of the hosts by greeting and thanking them warmly.

There, the town fiesta’s ways to a happy tummy.

Surigao Del Sur Weekend

My boyfriend and I have been itching for a trip to Surigao for years since he has always told me stories of how beautiful and amazing the place is. Fortunately, we were able to book cheap flights late last year. We traveled to Surigao del Sur last weekend. The province’s biggest town, Cantilan, was having their fiesta. What better way to be meet the boyfriend’s relatives but with a celebration!

Experiences really makes you learn. I kind of expected our flight to be delayed, so I brought company,  J.D. Salinger (for re-reading) and this ipod. I was right, our carrier was forty minutes late this time.

SAM_3708

It was my first time to ride a propeller aircraft so we had to take (stupid) photos inside the plane. It’s a lot smaller than the ones I have flown. It’s a 40 to 42 seater aircraft. And since it’s small, you can really feel the take off, the landing, and the turbulences along the way.

SAM_3720

Finally arrived! I just had to include this photo since we had a similar one from our first travel together.

SAM_3724

After an hour’s travel in the air, we rode a van bound to Cantilan.

Surigao, I believe, is a beautiful place. It is surrounded with cerulean waters and lush green mountains. However, some of these mountains have been reduced to dark red dust due to mining. Even the bodies of water nearby have been contaminated and have already bled red.

SAM_3730

After almost five hours of travel, we’ve finally reached Cantilan!

Here’s the boyfriend’s extended family from his grandfather’s side.

SAM_3732

And another shot from his grandmother’s side.

SAM_3744

Each household served lechon (roasted pig), seafoods, and carabao meat. It was my first time to try the carabao meat, I would have mistaken it for beef.

This is the Monteclaro house, as my boyfriend would call it. This is Tiya Petra and Tiyo Nic’s home.

SAM_3778

I was amazed by Tiya Petra’s greens! She had chilis, lagundi, orchids, ferns, macopa fruits, sponge gourd (patola), cactuses, and other plants around.

SAM_3763

SAM_3764

SAM_3767

SAM_3769

SAM_3772

The beach was just stone’s throw away. It isn’t as beautiful as the beaches of Boracay or Palawan but is promising in its own way. It is more serene, though the waves could get fierce at certain times of the day. It has clear waters, you can actually see your soaked feet midst the dark sand. And a few feet away is the distance between you and fishes.

SAM_3792

We also passed by the cemetery to pay visit to the boyfriend’s ancestors.

SAM_3797

This is Tito Tom’s place. His sari-sari store had everything! From grocery items to hardware finds to gas tanks and unlimited wifi connection/subscription.

SAM_4158

A few blocks away from Tito Tom’s house is the Coraler’s home. The bottom part of the house used to be open and supported by pillars, but since they needed to have a storage for the goods they supply, they needed to have it covered and cemented. Now it also functions as Tito Josue’s pad and office.

SAM_3823

Their house was filled with bougainvilleas of different kinds and colors. They were so beautiful!

SAM_3817

SAM_3818

I loved this small and old poso (water pump) installed in their kitchen. Apparently, it still works!

SAM_3830

What gas ranges? This is one medium of cooking their meals.

SAM_3832

Coconuts

SAM_3859

Corn

SAM_3864

Pineapple

SAM_3862

Pigs (I want the smaller one as pet)

SAM_3933

Most people in Surigao del Sur use their motorcycles as mode of transportation. Unlike in Manila which enforces strict traffic rules, they are kind of lax there. People can ride the motorcycle is threes, fours, and so on without helmets. The boyfriend and I even cruised without license.

4×4’s are also favored in the area, considering the trail you have to go through when traveling, you really need a car that can survive the dirt road. I haven’t seen a single sedan in my entire stay.

Public transportation is also available in the area. There are multicabs, which look like baranggay patrol cars in Manila. Tricycles can also be hired. Their tricycles look like Cagayan de Oro’s motorellas. Their only difference is the number of wheels.

SAM_3873

A photo of the Coraler’s.

SAM_3919

This is the kind of food that always greeted us in the morning. Way to go to a long lovely day.

SAM_3925
There was also a spring nearby. We just had to take a dip (and beer and lechon too).

SAM_4063

The boyfriend kind of arranged a simple family reunion for both sides.

SAM_4097

This is me with the boyfriend’s nephew and nieces.

SAM_4094

We had lunch by the beach.

SAM_4132

Lechon, the star of every meal.

SAM_4129

We witnessed men (and women) fishing. We even tried to help them by pulling the net towards the shore. They caught only a few fishes that day, two buckets of dilis (a variety of small fish, anchovies?). The kids asked five fishes from the fishermen for them to keep. They temporarily put them in a plastic cup.

SAM_4127

Boyfriend enjoyed playing with the kids as they buried him in the sand. He had sunburn after.

SAM_4123

And here I am overly happy.

SAM_4107
It was wonderful, Surigao. I can only promise to be back.

 

P.S. Wait, there’s more! Part 2 (How to Eat in a Town Fiesta) and Part 3 (Lanuza Walking Tour) coming up.

Zambales 2010

There hasn’t been so many interesting stories in my life lately. Well, actually there are, but I am yet to disclose until the right time comes.

I haven’t been writing for a time, too. I got pending writing/blog ideas but never really had the time, even for drafts. Work has got me preoccupied with a lot of things and I assume that will go on for the next few months. This taxing and tedious time at work just makes me want to run away to an unknown place.

I was having some spring cleaning last weekend and found photos of travels long ago. I am sharing this trip to Zambales circa 2010 as it reminds me of the first adult out of town trip I had with my sister and all other memories and emotions in between. This was back when working was such lovely labor.

***

Casa San Miguel, an art sanctuary in San Antonio, Zambales.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were there just in time for the Pundaquit festival. These kids were practicing for their performances.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They made beautiful music.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Works by Leeroy New were scattered all over the place. My sister thought they’re creepy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Found these tiles too. I love how they reflect music and art and madness and passion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Speaking with/interviewing the artist, Brendale Tadeo. Yes, we traveled far and wide for this interview.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Gallery inside Casa San Miguel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brendale Tadeo’s Machinas on exhibit. This was later transferred and exhibited at NOVA Gallery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back in my gallery days, I was always interested about how the works were lighted. This explains this photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Studying and looking at Brendale’s work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And asking him some more questions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We spent the afternoon at the beach. Baybay, as locals would call it. Breathtaking sunset.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brendale again, he asked us to call him Tadz instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My sister, enjoying the water but trying not to get wet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But ended up getting soaking wet anyway (HAHAHA!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then, there were kids. Perky and happy, playing in the sand and posing for the camera.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next day, we searched into their backroom where old paintings and sculptures were stored. Here are works from their weekend children’s workshop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plet Bolipata’s then work in progress. I believe she filled this animals with tiles and had them displayed in BGC years after.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

***

Good old days, Zambales.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Lakbayan

I wish the world was flat like the old days
Then i could travel just by folding a map

I have read about this guy who put a tattoo of a world map on his back and inks the states/countries he has already travelled to. Unfortunately for me, I do not have the guts to undergo such procedure, and even if I make “magmatapang” I have skin asthma anyway, so, boo!

Luckily, I found this app/website which features the map of the Philippines and a checklist of provinces. The colored ones are the places I’ve been to. Apparently, I’ve travelled most to the north – because I love the north.

I’m a C-. Well, I haven’t listed Puerto Princesa and Surigao yet. I still have hope. Vying for C+ at the end of the year!

I think I will have to do this every year just to inspire myself to go new places.

Also a reminder that my passport is expiring in 2 years, so I better go to a foreign land again.


My Lakbayan grade is C-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.