Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Historical Kota Park in Bantayan Island

Kota Park in Madridejos is a destination that you shouldn’t miss when you are in the island of the “living paradise” Bantayan Island in the Northern part of Cebu. It is just a simple park yet marks the history and the humble beginnings of native Bantayanons.

Kota Park was built sometime in 1880’s. It was a Spanish fort that serves as watch tower of the natives in protecting themselves from the Moro Pirates during the Spanish era. After the Spanish times Kota Park became public cemetery where the departed love ones of the native Bantayanons were buried.

Since 1950’s it has been rehabilitated and  converted into a beach resort that allows everybody to see the nice view of the Visayan open sea and the beautiful sun set panorama.

Inside the park is a concrete footbridge that connects to a floating balcony which enables visitor to under watch the different types of sea creatures.  The bridge has a 187 meters length which was historically built in a period of 40 days and 40 nights. The construction of the bridge has been very significant for it was part of the natives sacrifice during that times. 
Historically, Lawis is the old name of Madridejos. It was founded by a certain Loreto Mangubat, the very first person who decidedly settled in the island. He was believed to be the direct descendant of Lapu-lapu, a native Cebuano hero who kills the Fortugees explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the battle of Mactan.
Lawis was founded in the middle of 16th century and became the very first organized settlement in Bantayan Island. Along with the founding of Lawis is also the establishment of Kota or Fort in Spanish as it serves as the watch tower in the area.
It was in 1917 when Lawis became a town and was changed its name into Madridejos in honor of Benito Romero de Madridejos the archbishop then of Cebu. Madridejos is the third municipality in Bantayan island other than Sta. Fe and the Municipality of Bantayan.

How to get there?
From Cebu City, it will take you 3-4 hours travel by public bus or approximately 3 hours drive in private car going to Hagnaya port in San Remegio, northern Cebu. From Hagnaya port, need to travel thru ferry at about 1 and 1/2 hours going to Sta. Fe in Bantayan island. From Sta. Fe another 30 minutes ride going to municipality of Madridejos where Kota Park is located.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HOLY WEEK TIME IS VISITA IGLESIA TIME: Plan Your Destination for your Visita Iglesia this Holy Week.

Philippines as a predominantly catholic country has a solemn observation of Holy Week which took place usually during summer time. It is a time of peace, somberness and reflection and coincidentally for some non catholic it is a best time to spend vacation due the long holidays from work.  One of the highlights of the event in a week long spiritual celebration is the Visita Iglesia or the Seven Churches Visitation which is traditionally observed every Maundy Thursday until the eve of Black Saturday.

Historically, the Visita Iglesia is observed consistently with its motives especially that it is done during holy week where the season’s message is to reflect, repent and renewed. The seven holy sites (mostly churches, basilicas, shrines and pilgrim sites) to be visited during Visita Iglesia represents seven scriptural events and the first visits to the 7 Roman Basilicas and the Seven Deacons in Jerusalem who were appointed by the twelve apostles.

Here are some suggested sites/churches that are good to visit this holy week for Visita Iglesia. For those who are in Laguna there are some great ancient churches to go that celebrates a solemn Semana Santa and preserve the figure of traditional and historic symbol of faith.

The St. John the Baptist Church of Liwliw, Laguna.

The Liliw Church or Church of Lilio (former name of Liliw) is one of the famous churches in Laguna. Yes it is most loved by tourists and church goers because of its physical appeal and a huge ground space which strategically constructed overlooking the downtown of Liliw. The church as it appears is built with a red brick façade and in baroque architectural style which makes it unique among other churches in the country. It was built centuries ago when its original structure was destroyed by earthquake during 1880.

Saint Bartolomew Parish of Nagcarlan

This church which is made of strongly-ancient materials is a result of the third reconstruction.  The first was made of light materials of Nipa and Wood in 1583. During the year 1752 the second construction was purely made with colored brick and stone but was suddenly destroyed by fire in 1781. Now the structure is mainly composed of strong materials but its face which was influenced by the color of the previous constructed materials catch the attention of many. This parish church was founded by a Franciscan Priests in the name of Father Juan De Placencia in 1571. Today it is one of the living historical ancient Parish Churches in the country.

Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Seniora de los Dolores de Turumba 

Pakil church or Saint Peter of Alcantara parish is another name before this unique infrastructure of faith became a diocesan shrine. Yes it is a shrine now and this church enshrine the Our Lady of Turumba – an oil painting on canvass showing the face of the holy mother contorted by pain. Turumba is a Spanish word which means crazed or insane. For many Filipinos this church is very familiar because it is where the most known teleserye Juan de la Cruz was hosted.    

San Sebastian Church in Lumban, Laguna

The church of San Sebastian in Lumban, Laguna is an exception to many other ancient churches in terms of structures. This is common to many as the first stone church erected in 16th century.  Historically Lumban during the Spanish era was a center of all missionary activities in Laguna Province.

St. Mary Magdalene Church.

In a town of Magdalena in the province of Laguna is another ancient church founded in 1851. The church was named after the name of the town into Saint Mary Magdalene. This historical church is also the most significant landmark of a quiet town of Magdalena. It is made up of stones and bricks with a sandstone façade. This church is located at the town center near the municipal plaza across the municipal hall. Historically, the Filipino hero Emilio Jacinto during the Philippine revolution against Spaniards sought refuge in this church after being wounded in a battle in 1898.

Top 3 suggested sites to visit for Visita Iglesia in Cebu.

Cebu as a center and origin of catholic faith in the Philippines has so many pristine and century old catholic site that is good to see for Visita Iglesia. But when in comes to history significance and convenient these top 3 sites are highly suggested to experience and witness how they uniquely celebrates Semana Santa.

The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist

Birhen sa Simala church as it is commonly known to many is now the most preferred place of pilgrims in Cebu. This is because of its undying history that people receive the miraculous intercession of mother Mary thru answered prayers and petitions. Birhen sa Simala Church is the most solemn place for worship, a majestic and miraculous church that has a thousands of devotees coming in daily. It is located in Barangay Lindogon, Sibonga,in the Southern part of Cebu province.

Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon.

Boljoon Church is one of the oldest Church in Visayas with significant religious artifacts and the historic figure that narrates the history of the place. Boljoon Church or in its old famous pilgrim name as “Church of Patrocinio de Maria” was built in 1599 during the Spanish era.  This has been very famous for this is the only pilgrim church in Southern Cebu to which during fiesta celebration, many devotees are coming in to venerate the image of the virgin enshrined in the altar who believed that posses miraculous powers. This church is generally made of corral stone and a clay roof tiles for its roof. This church is founded by the Augustinian fathers during colonial times.

Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan Island.

Bantayan Church is considered as the second oldest church in Cebu so far. This is much known to Catholics as the host of the grandest ever procession during Good Friday. This majestic church has been built since 1839 but the original composition of this parish started in the early 15th century.
This church is a home of many significant events in the history of Bantayan island way back Spanish time. For many times it serves a a hiding place of locals during calamities and war. The Bantayan Church has walls of coral stones just like most of the century-old churches in the country.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PEÑAFRANCIA FESTIVAL 2014: Schedule of Activities

Peñafrancia festival is a well known festival in the Philippines particularly in Naga City which took place every September of the year. Unlike to any other common festivals in the country, Peñafrancia Festival is both a religious and civic occasion purposefully to honor Mother Mary in the image of Peñafrancia whom in thousands of years celebrated historically by bicolanos and tagged as the “Ina nin Kabikolan”-mother of Bicolandia.
Historically, Virgin of Peñafrancia was named after the place in France where the image was found by a certain Simon Vela, a heir of a very rich French family who turned himself into a service of God. It was Peñafrancia because the place where the image was conceptually found was at the mount of Peña de Francia in France. From the moment where the image was discovered until at present, Peñafrancia believed to be performing great miracles. It cures different kind of illnesses and some other forms of miracles and that probably the reason why an ever-increasing number of devotes are coming forth in Naga City every September for the Peñafracia festival celebration. And because of this, Bicolandia thru INA has been one of the best Marian Pilgrimage site in the world.

For this year 2014, here are the lists of activities for Peñafrancia Festival:

Among these schedules of activities, the highlight is the Traslacion or the procession of the image of INA from her home in Basilica Minore going to Archdiocese of Caceres Metropolitan Cathedral. Traslacion marks also the starts of the 9 day novena masses in preparation for Peñafrancia Festivities. Another highlight of event that culminates the festival is the Fluvial Procession wherein the image of INA is brought back to Basilica Minore from the Cathedral thru procession in the bicolandia river. INA is joined by the bishops, priests and numbers of religious voyadores inside a Pagoda during procession at the river while devotees are cheering for "VIVA LA VIRGEN" and praying the rosary.

Friday, August 8, 2014

TRAVEL NOTES: Visiting the Most Bombed Country on Earth, Laos

I was privileged to be given a chance for an international work engagement in Southeast Asia and was commissioned to assist some people’s organizations there particularly in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao (most known as “Laos”) in their pursuit for community development works. This time my work brings me to another area of concern and I am happy indeed to nurture my travel fashion while in work at foreign land. I stayed in Laos for a number of months and very fortunate to explore some historic places and fugures of the country.   

LAOS, or simply the Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao is one of the smallest country in Southeast Asia with a population of 6.5 million (data as of 2012). Its land area is big to have this number of population so distance from one house to another is defined by a number of meters.  It is a landlocked country covered by the neighboring countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and China. I am lucky to set foot into some of these neighboring countries whenever I am renewing my visa.  Laos, politically wise, is a single-party socialist republic and run by a communist movement since 1975.  

Laos as compared to other countries in Asia can be regarded as “started-to-grow country” in terms of economy, modernity and some aspects of advancement. It’s already a member of some world organizations but only be joining to WTO (World Trade Organization) by the year 2015 as expected.  Its current condition can be attributed into a one lone province in the Philippines. However Lao people have an extra kind breeding in terms of discipline and following rules. They are quite, kind and respectful as correlated to their religious behavior Buddhism.

With regards to some places and historical facts, Laos has a lot to offer. Mostly of the countrie’s significant places and historic figures are found in the provinces of Luang Prabang, Champasak and Vientiane for these are the great areas of the country that were considered as the three major kingdoms during the French protectorate period in 1893. Currently, Vientiane is the capital of Laos and Luangprabang and Champasak is one of the most improved provinces in the country.

The Laos flag is so simple similar to the simplicity of lifestyle of Laos people. It was designed with three horizontal bands with symbolic colors of red, blue and white. The horizontal band color red recalls the bloodshed in fought for the Laos liberation. Another horizontal band in color blue represents the Mekong River and prosperity. Mekong River plays an important part of Laos existence because Mekong river becomes the major source of daily survival to most Lao people. The white circle symbolizes the full moon and the unity of the people under the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and also the country’s bright future.


Patoxai is a war monument in Laos situated in particular at the Lang Xang Avenue in the heart of the City of Viantiane. Patoxai literally means “Victory Gate” from the original meaning of a two words “Patu means ‘door or gateway’, and “Xai” which means ‘victory’. This victory gate was built in 1957 and is dedicated to Laotian soldiers who fought for Laos liberation from French dictatorship. It is also called “Arch of Triumph or Arc de Triomphe de Viantiane.

This historical symbolic is typically Laotian in design and decorated with mythological creatures by the famous Laotian architect (Tham Sayasthsena). It has five towers that represent the Five Principles of Coexistence and the Five Buddhist Principles of Thoughtful Amiability, Flexibility, Honesty, Honor, and Prosperity. Along with this monument is the National park with musical fountain that add color and value to the white house which is just ahead of Patoxai Monument.

That Luang:

Another great infrastructure that will surely capture your interest is the Pha That Luang or the Great Buddhist Stupa. Stupa is a very important Buddhist structure containing Buddhist relics and the ashes of Buddhist monk. It is also a holy place of Buddhist for their meditation.  Pha that Luang is situated almost 500 meters away from the Patoxai park. It is one of the most important national monuments in Laos considering the country’s religion, Buddhism. Pha That Luang is also the Laos national symbol.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

SINULOG FESTIVAL 2014 At The Queen City of the South.

Sinulog Festival is the highly anticipated fiesta in the queen City of the South. For many years it has been considered as the grandest festival in the Philippines celebrated every third Sunday of January in honor to the Child Jesus-Sto. Niño. Sinulog means a graceful dance ritual accompanied by a drum which historically remembers the Cebuano and the Filipino pagan past and the acceptance of Christianity in the country. It is already in history that once Sinulog mentioned it’s all about Cebu and when Cebu is the topic it’s a house of Sinulog. No other festival in the Philippines that may be compared to Sinulog in terms of purpose, number of devotes and even the way how it is celebrated. Here is a tentative line-up of activities of Sinulog Festival this year:

December 30, 2013 Sinulog Fun Run. January 9, 2014 Opening Salvo; Installation of Hermano and Hermana Mayores, Walk with Jesus. January 10, 2014 Sinulog 2014 Kick-off: Street Party bands, Launching parade, Sinulog Idol. January 11, 2014 Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan, Cultural Show. January 12, 2014 Cultural Show, Grand Finals of Sinulog Chorale competition. January 13, 2014 Sinulog street Party & cultural show. January 16, 2014 welcome party of Balik Cebu (Balikbayan na Cebuanos) January 17, 2014 Traslacion, Walk with Mary, Sinulog festival Queen Competition. January 18, 2014 Grand Fluvial Procession, Street Party, Reenactment of Baptism of queen Juana. January 19, 2014: Pontifical Mass, Sinulog grand parade. January 20, 2014 awarding ceremonies.  January 24, 2014 Hubo mass ritual. January 25, 2013 Photo exhibit/competition.

It is expected that as usual, millions of devotees and tourists will occupy the busy street of Cebu and anticipated as well that ports and airport are busy for this month. Over the years Cebu that tagged as Queen City of the South is the most loved place in the Philippines by tourists both local and foreign. It is because of some historical places, significant items and brands and the most beautiful white sand beaches that are all available in Cebu.

Common places and foods that you shouldn't miss while in Cebu:

The Historical Cross of Magellan.
One of the famous spot that tourists never forget to visit while in Cebu is the historical and legendary Magellan’s Cross.
This is a Christian cross planted by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers headed by Ferdinand Magellan when they arrived in the Country on April 1521. Though this is no longer the original cross but still many people venerate this for the fact that the original form is encases in this Tindalo wood cross.

The cross is now placed inside a kiosk closer to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino and is just in front of Cebu City Hall at Magallanes Street, (Magallanes street was named after Ferdinand Magellan. Magallanes is Magellan’s Spanish name) Cebu City proper.

Taoist Temple
Taoist Temple is situated in Beverly hills, Lahug Cebu City. This is the center for worship of Taoism religion in Cebu built in 1972 by the Chinese community in Cebu. This is open for both worshipers and non worshippers so many tourists are visiting this place day by day. This is just 20-30 minutes away from the Metro Cebu but sometimes due to heavy traffic it would take you lesser than hour to get there. Transportation is not so frequent because the situation of the temple is in very private subdivision to better to take a ride in taxi or in habal-habal if without private vehicle.

 Marian Temple                 
This Marian Temple in Lindogon, Sibonga, Cebu or most commonly known as Simala Shrine is another famous center of catholic worship in Cebu. Thousands of devotees coming in daily offering prayers and petitions to loving mother because this is believed to be miraculous. It was believed that the image of mother Mary is shedding tears of blood – a phenomenon that lacks of scientific or any artificial validation but draws more people attention over the years.
You won’t believe that this Shrine appear to be so spacious but during Sundays this has almost no more space due to volumes of devotees coming in to venerate the miraculous image of Mama Mary. It would take some efforts in going there. From Cebu City you need a bus ride of almost 2 hours from South Bus Terminal and from the highway another 15-20 minutes in habal-habal or tricycle ride. Though you might be experiencing some risks and stressful travel but all these things will be reconciled by the serenity of the place and the distinctive behavior and accommodation of the Marian monks and of some loyal and religious conservatives. 

When it comes to foods and delicacies Cebu is also number one and well known place that offers a variety of local foods that are tastier and likeable. Number one in the list is the Lechon de Cebu which is proven to be the most delicious variety of lechon in the county so far. This is the number one fiesta serving of Cebuano’s and even in some simple occasion like birthdays, reunions, group outings and gatherings.   
There are many restaurant and fast food chain the serve lechon for meals. This is also available in pasalubong   package because many tourist love to bring this home when they visit Cebu. Truly, you will never enjoy your stay in Cebu if you won’t taste Lechon de Cebu of its kind. Prices per kilo are ranging from 380-400. 

Another famous local food in Cebu is Bibingka or locally called “Bingka” in Visaya. This is one of the favorite local delicacies for snacks and picnic foods. This is locally made from rice flour with a very unique preparation and baking procedure. As compared to other wheat or flour-made snacks, bibingka always win our taste because of its uniqueness in ingredients which are also locally available and without any other extra added formulation or food preservatives.

Some of the best Pasalubong that were known to be the Cebu identity are the dried Sea Foods or the Danggit and Pusit to be particular. These are common in all local markets and even in malls in Cebu.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pinoy Classic, Roadside Bibingka de Cebu

Bibingka or locally called “Bingka” in Visayas is one of the favorite local delicacies for snacks and picnic foods. This is locally made from rice flour with a very unique preparation and baking procedure. As compared to other wheat or flour-made snacks, bibingka always win our taste because of its uniqueness in ingredients which are also locally available and without any other extra added formulation or food preservatives.

Bibingka is traditionally baked in an improvised oven heated with a coal or by coconut husks which are both available in the locality. In terms of ingredients bibingka has a very unique component. This is made from fresh ingredients like coconut milk squeezed from freshly grated coco flakes, white rice flour, some leavening agent, “tuba” or coconut wine for better and sweeter taste instead of yeast or baking soda, butter or margarine as fillings, and freshly picked banana leaves where bingka has to be formed into holders. Once ingredients already prepared and placed into holders packed by babana leaves, it has to be baked for about 10-15 minutes to improvised oven before it could finally serve as ready to eat and deliciously baked bibingka. 

This improvised oven is a very important one in baking for Bibingka. Simple as this appear but it can accommodate pieces of deliciously ready-to-bake Bibingka that would surely satisfy hunger and craving for naturally delicious and one of a kind pinoy classic Bibingka. This improvised oven (according to bingka maker) can accommodate 15-20 pieces of ready-to-bake bibingka. This has to be heated with coconut husks or shells on top and below while bingka placed into its holders inside for 10-15 minutes baking. Many have greeted that one of the ingredients that makes the Bibingka de Cebu very delicious is the “Tuba” or coconut wine. This is best used instead of using other forms of yeast or baking powder and to avoid putting too much sugar to sweeten its taste.
This is sold into a price of P5 each commonly on the streets, south-road ways, snacks food Shoppe and at Pasalubong center anywhere in Cebu.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DOTS OF TRAVEL 2013: Pinoy Taste Kalderetang Kambing

One of the best Pinoy dish commonly serves for occasions such as fiestas, birthdays, and other parties. This is also a perfect pulutan or appetizer. Unlike to other kaldereta or (Caldereta), The Kalderetang Kambing requires some extra effort in preparation.  This is because the goat meat is gamey and it needs to eliminate the odor and gamey flavor by marinating it in vinegar, salt and ground pepper mixture for a minimum of an hour before cooking to best experience its delicious taste.
To really satisfy the delicious goat meat it has to be sure that the meat should be from a Chevon or the adult goat because it is believed that adult goat meat is so tastier than of the young ones. Goat meat is believed to be fewer calories, less fat and cholesterol than of any other meat. This is perhaps why kalderetang kambing is loved by many.
Kalderetang kambing is commonly find in Filipino restaurant or even more available in local food shop or “turo-turo”.

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