Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘visit’

Breathing Adventure: City Escape to Marikina (Part 2)

I tried to focus my attention on the bright blue sky and the long line of trees ahead of us as my feet were beginning to strain on my superficially, smooth flats. The searing heat was beating on the wide, concrete bikeway as bikers joyously passed us by. The river glimmered beneath the golden rays of the afternoon sun. Giant, fancy shoes loomed over the waters, upholding the pride of Marikina’s heritage as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines. Beside it was the statue of Marikit, the woman from whom this city has been named from, whose scars have reminded us how this city has been resilient during Ondoy’s dangerous floods in 2009. I thought the road was short enough to keep my feet from being strained even more. I guess my shoes were not the right pair for the long walk around the Riverbanks.

If Metro Manila was almost deprived of parks, Marikina has excellently preserved its Riverbanks. It’s the perfect place for joggers, bikers, and would-be bikers who ended up walking on the long road.

These leaf markings could be found on the concrete pathway. Some of them come in patterns like this.

Bike rentals are only at Php30 per hour. However, I was not in the mood to learn how to bike (especially when I was not ready to receive scratches). Walking was not actually boring because there were animal sculptures and exhibits that recreated popular tourist sites around the country. 

Crops planted by the riverside.

However, my feet ended up being too sore at the end of the site. Next time, I’d wear walking shoes and try to learn how to bike. Maybe still, I should have bought Marikina-made shoes! Still, this site is worth visiting because it is clean and beautiful. I hope my feet would be happier when I come back here.

Wonder where’s the food trip? The visit would not be complete without visiting at least a few of the best ones! Watch out for my next blog. 

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Breathing Adventure: Friendships and Sunsets for the Lone Trip (Benguet Tour Part 2)

My two-day Baguio getaway was brief yet blissful, momentarily pulling me away from the reality that nearly freaked me out of my sanity. What came after my first BenCab Museum tour was a visit to a missionary friend I have not seen in years, a short walk in the night-cloaked city outskirts, and a moment of fellowship at my friend’s church the following day.

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The city lights glitter on the hilltops at night. Baguio is just one of the places where you can safely stroll at night

I emerged once again in the homey ideals that these lovely people hold, while vainly trying to understand Ilocano dialect. Competition was unlikely to begrudge the existence these people delve in; too far with what we Manileños strive for everyday. Little by little, urbanity has been setting in Baguio City for years. Yet, the unyielding purity of the city’s outskirts is just one of the million things that amazes me in this place.

The main reason for going up alone to Baguio was a small mountain my friend was telling me days ago. On the day I was to leave Benguet, I had the chance to go on a short trek on what they named as Mt. Jumbo. It was located at La Trinidad, a city beside Baguio, also best known for its strawberry farm. We planned to start the trek right after lunch. But due to the slow, incompetent service of a diner we came upon, we were able to leave for La Trinidad at past 3pm, a few hours before the sunset kicks in.

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Part of the view while going up to the summit of Mt. Jumbo

It was an easy trek, but my legs became easily strained after ascending a number of those small but steep man made steps. This is the consequence of not jogging for a long time. The cloistered trees, fresh air, and clear blue sky refreshed me though. Upon coming near the summit, the trees became fewer and the air became crispier.

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Going upward

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Racing towards the sun

I was surprised to find a few tourists clamoring upon the nearly bare, green, rolling hills of Mt. Jumbo. Some of them had tents set up, anticipating a clear, star-studded sky soon. A group had even taken horseback rides to the summit. We walked passed them as we clamored to the west side of the hill. The vast, industrial fields of La Trinidad opened wide before us, the golden sunshine painting it in bright orange.

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Beyond the rolling hills was part of the view of La Trinidad.

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The sunset gleaming over La Trinidad. This area once called the “salad bowl of the Philippines” as it used to be an agricultural area. Now, it is replaced with houses and industrial buildings, striving with the urban shift of the country.

I did not mind my short stay on the summit. In an intense moment of freedom, I did not dance, I did not run. All I did was flap my arms to feel the wind beneath them and watch the sunset descend behind the mountains in awe. But that moment of awe was broken when we tried to catch the sunset with our cameras.

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The sun giving us a final breathtaking view for the day.

The sun’s majestic exit was interrupted by the thick silver clouds that canopied over the mountains. Still, the view was breathless, for a sea of clouds surged over the adjacent mountains. It was a phenomenon that no city-dweller could experience everyday. Twilight was not far behind by then. The first sparkle of stars began to blink the moment we left the spot.

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The sea of clouds just behind me

It was a breathless moment. Though part of me knew I had to go straight to the bus terminal right after that trek, I strongly felt that my Baguio experience would not be complete without experiencing a known restaurant at Session Road. With that, I capped my stay with dinner with friends at the fine but affordable Solibao Restaurant. Should you end up hungry at Session Road, this is one of the places you should you drop by.

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Capping my trip with a great dinner with my friends Lans, Marian, and Angie. This Pinoy/Chinese group meal at Solibao Restaurant was too much for four ladies and yet it was very affordable.

The bus terminal was jampacked with people leaving for Manila. I was one of them. With me were jars of lengua, choco flakes, and strawberry wine — just some of the Baguio goodies I can’t leave without. As I waited at the line, I just realized that I have the capacity to travel somewhere far without a definite plan and still enjoy good memories of this place. Next stop? I won’t plan it up. All I know it would sure be better. 🙂

The Magic Of Dinner Over Movies (Sixth Bite): A Reunion in Pampanga

It’s strange how our relatives could only get together after years. If it were not for a cousin’s special occasion, my mom and I wouldn’t get a chance to visit Pampanga.

Pampanga is a province located in Central Luzon. Should you begin your travel point from Manila, go in a two-hour northward travel to get to Pampanga, or longer depending on the city to visit. Since my province Bulacan is adjacent to Pampanga, travel going there is quicker. From the district of Bocaue, Bulacan to the city of San Fernando, Pampanga, it takes about an hour’s ride. So what’s so special about this place? For foodies like me, of course, it would be food.

I had the privilege to taste of the authenticity of Kapampangan dishes as my cousin invited us for the christening of her first baby. Now, add up the mini-reunion of relatives on my mother’s side, our visit is worth to remember.

Kapampangan dishes are known for their richness. Besides that, their food can range from simply being savory to exotic. I’ll give you a peek to one of the restaurants there.

Bale Capampangan:
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My craving to taste the best of Pampanga has been answered by having the privilege to visit and have lunch in this cozy restaurant, located in Dolores, San Fernando, Pampanga. The buffet it offers has a variety of dishes, igniting the curiosity and the hunger pangs in me.

IMG_20150516_112354There are the classic dishes of bulalo (cow soup), pinakbet (vegetables cooked in sauce made of seafood like shrimp or fish), bistig damulag (the Kapampangan version of beefsteak). I’d take only a little of each, since they are very rich in ingredients. The each sauce of these dishes is filled with much flavour. It embodies the homestyle cooking. Besides, the place is a good place for family reunions as it gives a homey feel.

Adobong Balut

Adobong Balut

There are also exotic food like the pasta aligue (pasta made with crab paste), susong supsop (yes, it’s

made of cooked, small snails) and adobong balut (the matured chicken egg now cooked adobo-style). These are but a few in the whole bunch of buffet offered by this restaurant. I bet you’ll keep on coming back once you take a bite of them.

As most Filipinos, we had the habit of ignoring the people around us while we eat. Perhaps, it’s an inborn ability to take note of the food first before we get to talk much. Or perhaps, we heed what the elders say: “Don’t eat when your mouth is full.”

Susong supsop

Susong supsop

Of course, Filipino meals are not complete without sweets. After a plateful of the main course, we’d line up for halo-halo (or mixed up, literally in English). Just fill your glass with sweet banana, red sago (round starch pearls), mongo, pinipig (uncooked glutunous rice), sugar, crushed ice and milk. A cold treat to chase the summer heat away.

Aside from that, there are also other sweets and rice cakes like the palitaw.

I guess this place gave us much to talk about, like language differences. Yes, that’s right. The signs are mostly in Kapampangan. In the Philippines, each provinces have unique dialects. Pampanga has its own dialect, aside from the Tagalog widely spoken in the whole country. Even my uncle admits that he was still confused with some of the words, being a Bicolano himself.

The calming atmosphere of the restaurant made us stay, relax, dive into nostalgia and crack jokes at one another. Because it shunned us from the terrifying heat of the day, I did not notice that we were staying there for more than five hours! It was past three in the afternoon, and we would have wished to stay longer with our relatives.

After scouting for pasalubong, my cousins invited us to try the popular cheese bread and Spanish bread of a bakery just beside Bale Capampangan.

L.A. Bakeshop:

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When the door was opened, the smell of freshly baked bread gave us the tingling sensation of home in the city. Started in 1985, this bakeshop had its humble beginnings at one of this city’s market. But the populace would flock this store because of its tasty cheese bread, thus it grew into a cafe and resto-bakery.

Some of L.A. Bakery's special breads and cookies lined up at the counter beside the cafe

Some of L.A. Bakery’s special breads and cookies lined up at the counter beside the cafe

L.A. Bakery's tasty cheese bread and Spanish bread. Thirty pieces of these can be sold for P195. Freshly baked, it's inviting scent invigorates nostalgia and the hunger pangs of the other passengers in the van as we went home :)

L.A. Bakery’s cheese bread and Spanish bread. Thirty pieces sold at P195. Freshly baked, its inviting scent ignited nostalgia and the hunger pangs of the other van passengers as we went home 🙂

Unlike some usual cheese bread bought in other bakeries, this one is oozing with much cheese and it’snot airy; even though it looks smaller compared to other breads. The Spanish bread is sweetly superb, as well. A box of it would make a good pasalubong. Aside from being tasty, a box of it is worth its price. Even if you reheat it in the oven, it still smell as if freshly baked, provided that you keep it in a safe place. My mother said that instead of using lard, real butter and egg yolks were used for the dough. If we had much more time, we’d stay with our cousins and have coffee in this homey little bakeshop. Perhaps, I would not stop myself from its offer of unlimited coffee and bread. Yes, coffeeeeee… 🙂

My cousins introduced us other shops just near these places where we’ve been. I promised them and myself that we would return and try them all. But I would enjoy these places and food better with my relatives. That would make every bite and taste more sumptuous and even memorable.

Meet my family. My mom (in red) and I (in the dark green dress) together with my cousins, uncle, and aunt :)

Meet my family. My mom (in red) and I (in the dark green dress) together with my cousins, uncle, and aunt 🙂


A Few Firsts for My Independence Day 2012

For once again, I got a taste of my firsts last Tuesday, June 12. I can’t help how I cherish this 114th Anniversary of the Philippine Independence. Even though we all had to wake up too early, it’s something I’ve enjoyed to remember.

High school students perform some excerpts of the Philippine Revolution through dancing

As we covered this event, I can’t help but feel how proud I am to be a Filipino. Oh, yes, though I’m just another generation reminiscing a history I’ve never witnessed first hand. After a year of being a correspondent, this is my first time to cover a commemoration of Philippine Independence. As a palace reporter, I and my team had to follow him wherever he goes – unless, it’s extremely far. But everything starts with small things and short distances. And his visit to my province, Bulacan, is a big privilege to me.  Most of all, I was able to get a glimpse of pure, young Pinoy talent. These young students who reenacted history did it with all their hearts. And somehow, I wished I were a teenager, too.

Finale of the students’ presentation…”Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!”

Now here where the irony sets in. It’s weird how a Bulacan resident like me got to visit the popular Barosoain Church for the first time after 27 years of existence. Imagine, going there should have been so easy, as Malolos is just more or less thirty minutes away from my town, Sta. Maria. And it took a president to push me to go and take a touchdown on this historical landmark.

For a backgrounder, the Barosoain Church was where the Philippines was declared and established as a republic. This was also where the Malolos Constitution, our nation’s first republican constitution, was announced. I’d remember as a kid how it was depicted on the back of the old ten peso bill.

I’d still remember how I wanted to visit this church when I was a bored college student. And how it was never done because no one was willing to go around with me. Oh well, everything has it’s own time.

The Barosoain Church just behind me right after the program ended. I can’t help but feel elated by letting my heels touch its stone pavements. O.o

To make sure that this was a special day, I had to wear something special. So I chose my newest violet dress (and the others had to call me “ube” or purple yam). But I wouldn’t wear a traditional baro’t saya because I don’t have one. And even though my mom had kept some old traditional clothes in our magical closets, I wouldn’t dare…I’d have a hard time walking around for interviews underneath the fiercely hot sun!

And so I had to get a glimpse of it personally for the first time! But because this was no pleasure trip, I did not get that “awe moment”. Awww…

I saw how real and huge the church was. I could have touched its walls but I had to find the media seats first. I never thought I could also get a glimpse of that hundred-year old tree in front of it. Weeee!!

But we all got down to work. President arrives, speaks in public, watch his every more, then waved goodbye. Our focus was the leader of the country, and so we had to keep our eyes on him all the time. And we had to hurry back to office to produce my story. No time for that “awe moment” again. Awww…

Next year, the president is expected to visit another historical landmark. Oops, that would be my second coverage of Independence Day. But it hope it would be as exciting as my first one…and every coverage be something that I would anticipate all the time.

I guess I just have to muster all that guts to go back to Barosoain again. Maybe, when I come back there, I’d be able to have that “awe moment” – and make it feel like it’s my first time again! 😀

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