A herd of cows walking through a commercial center in Iloilo in midday. I was so amused because this is an uncommon scene in the Philippines, especially in the urbans. And this particular area here is where the posh hotels in city are. I had no idea where they are headed to because they’re unsupervised but kept walking straight on the road. (Maybe they got away from Ted’s La Paz Batchoy Restaurant? hehe) (Taken in 2011 in Smallville, Iloilo City)
Beyond these tall grasses and seemingly endless trails in hills lies the Bokong Falls (Small Falls), a waterfalls about 20 feet tall located at Sagada, Mountain Province. In order to get there, one must hike several kilometers, right in the middle of rice fields. The first time I went to see this place, I started to lose hope and quit after walking a couple of hours. But once we reached the place, all weariness disappeared.
Bright lights illuminate the activity center of this mall in a busy Christmas season.
On the way to Mt. Pinatubo
June marks the start of rainy season in the Philippines, but this doesn’t stop the fun going all over the country because Filipinos never run out of things to celebrate, no matter what season it is. If you are planning for an out of town trip for June and July, here are some of the events around the country that ypu may want to catch.
June 4-10 Philippine Eagle Week
The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is one of the icons representing Davao City. The Philippine Eagle week aims to showcase the beauty and symbolism of the Philippine Eagle and the richness of the Philippine environment, encourage responsible enjoyment of wildlife and also to promote awareness on the Philippine Eagle as an endangered species. Various activities are held in the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos and in other places in Davao.
June 12 Philippine Independence Day
Kawit, Cavite and various points in the country
Philippine Independence is observed every 12th of June. The celebration is marked by a flag raising ceremony at the balcony of the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, where the first Philippine flag was unfurled but there are various celebrations and activities held simultaneously all over the country to commemorate the country’s independence from the Spaniards. Filipino citizens show love and support for their country by putting a flag in their homes, cars and offices.
June 24 Parada ng Lechon
Every 24th of June, the people of Balayan celebrate the feast of their patron saint, John the Baptist by parading a number of decorated lechon (roasted pig) around town. The lechons are dressed and decorated according to the yearly theme and are wrapped with clear plastic to avoid getting wet during the parade. Dousing of water to the people is done to signify the baptism of Jesus by St. John. Festival-goers and locals partake of the lechon after the parade.
June 28-29 Pili Festival
Sorsogon holds an annual grand event known as Pili Festival which also coincides with the city’s traditional patronal fiesta in honor of its patron saints, St. Peter and St. Paul. Pili Festival showcases the Pili Tree which is indigenous to Sorsogon and is a premier product of not only of Sorsogon and but the Bicol region. The festival highlights a streetdance demonstrating the many uses of Pili tree.
July 1 Pagoda sa Wawa
Every first Sunday of July, the people of Bocaue holds a festival in honor of the miraculous Cross of Bocaue (Krus ng Wawa) which was discovered floating on the Bocaue River some 200 years ago. During the fluvial procession, a replica of the cross in which Jesus was crucified is paraded on a decorated pagoda float and guided by colorful bancas. The pagoda is accompanied by devotees who douse each other with water during the procession.
July 2 Sagayan Festival
Tubod, Lanao del Norte
Sagayan Festival is a cultural event performed during Araw ng Lanao del Norte. The festival depicts a war dance among Maranaos. It is said that the festival is based on the epic of Bantugan, a legendary hero of Darangan and beholden by the Maranaos. Male performers clad in warrior-inspired costumes and native spears perform the Maranao war dance while women, also in colorful costumes, perform the fan dance.
July 22 Sandugo Festival
Tagbilaran City, Bohol
The Sandugo Festival commemorates the Treaty of Friendship between Datu Sikatuna, a native chieftain and Miguel López de Legazpi, a Spanish conquistador and representative to the King of Spain. The treaty happened in the shores of Bohol on March 16, 1565 through a blood compact or “sandugo.” The fiesta includes street dancing parade, traditional Filipino carnival, martial arts festival, beauty pageant, among other exciting activities.
July 26 Sta. Anang Banak River Festival
The people of Taguig commemorate their faith in a fluvial parade held every 26th of July in honor of their patroness St. Anne. During the parade, the participants aboard colorful boats and spectators by the riverbanks toss fruits, juice and native delicacies to each other, an act of sharing blessings believed to be sent by their patroness.
*Published in the June-July 2012 Issue of Philippine Tourist Destinations
I was in Tagaytay last weekend and helped man an ukay-ukay shop, while simultaneously looking for goods for myself. If you happen to be around Olivarez area and looking for a thrift shop, Jennifer’s Apparel Haus is located near the rotonda, just beside Chow King. They’ve got a huge collection of affordable second hand stuff. Mara’s family has another store inside Olivarez Plaza called Trinity. Go check them out.
I’m pretty sure I gained at least 4lbs from that weekend because Mara just keeps spoiling us. Like the usual, Mara brought us to Magallanes for lunch. She wanted us to try the food at LZM, which according to her serves good food, and by food, she meant Bulalo. On our way back to the shop, Mara treated us to an ice cream. Fact: it was my first time to eat this used-to-be-controversial-ice-cream-but-instantly-lost-public-attention. The other day, we were just talking about how we never tasted that Magnum yet- Dona, Ishi and me, eh hindi na siya pinag-uusapan ng mga tao. Of course, as trolls, we had to take photo of the overpriced ice cream, hrhr.
Ifugao boasts what is dubbed as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces. The terraced farmlands beginning at the base of the mountain range and extending several thousand feet upwards never fail to amuse the visitors who are almost always unbelieving of the surreal beauty right infront of them. The magnificent creation is a source of Filipino pride and a proof of the creativity and resourcefulness of the ancient Igorots.
Two of the terrace clusters in Banaue, the Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Centuries ago, the Igorots have to till the land in the mountains so they can plant rice and vegetables in them. Using primitive tools and early methods, they built stone walls to separate and prevent the land from eroding. The farms were irrigated by means of mountain streams and springs that have been channeled into canals that run downhill through the rice terraces. The stone-walled rice terraces manifest the engineering skill and ingenuity of the Ifugaos.
The Banaue Rice Terraces was acknowledged as a green globe destination in the Philippines by the World Travel and Tour Council. It also received an “International Historic Engineering Landmark Award” from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
[Few years back, the Banaue Rice Terraces showed signs of deterioration caused by natural phenomena such as El Nino and earthquake. Furthermore, some Ifugao families have abandoned their land in the rice terraces because the rice variety most suited to the cool climate is not a high-yielding crop. However, the Philippine government is extending efforts to restore the beauty of the centuries-old creation.]
How to Get There
From Manila, Banaue is 8-9 hours ride via bus. Dangwa Bus and Autobus has daily trips to Banaue. When visiting on holidays or long weekends, make sure to reserve your ticket before the trip.
From Baguio, there are mini buses near the Rizal Park that have trips to Banaue. The trip takes up to 9 hours.
You may also opt to take connecting trips, Baguio to Sagada or Baguio to Bontoc both takes 6 hours. If you opt to take a Sagada trip, most probably you’ll have to get around the place first as Sagada is also a popular spot among tourists and backpackers. From Sagada, you can ride a jeepney going to Bontoc. It takes 30-40 minutes of literally breathtaking (if you’re on topload) ride and from Bontoc, you can take a jeepney or a bus going to Banaue which is 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours away.
When in the highlands, you can do activities such as mountain biking, mountain climbing and hiking. Don’t forget to try native delicacies such as Pinikpikan (chicken) and Etag (processed meat) while sipping Tapey (rice wine).
*Published in the April – May 2012 Issue of Philippine Tourist Destinations