Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stored Treasure: Dolphin Watching and the Shouts and Silence it Bring -- Dolphin Watching at Pamilacan Island, Bohol


Stored Treasure / 02 June 2010

When I first visited Bohol in 2001, I was already told to never fail to do dolphin watching at Pamilacan Island but due to time constraints then, I wasn't able to do as advised.  Nine years after, I went back to this paradise island and made sure that I together with the rest of the gang will be able to see dolphins in the wild.  We were first asked to choose between dolphin watching and snorkeling but we decided to maximize the trip and do both. =)  And fortunately, the stars alligned to our favor, and granted our wish! =) 

On May 27, 2010, at around 5:30 AM, we headed to a small boat docked at the white beach of Bohol Beach Club.  After wearing our life vests, the small boat sailed the tranquil bay with the serene blue sky and slowly rising glow of sun as the backdrop.  After less than 10 minutes, we transferred to a bigger boat that brought us to the deep blue sea where the dolphins might be patiently waiting.

Then after around 15 minutes, we heard the boat driver shouted, "Ayun! (There it is)".  And we immediately witnessed another spectacular performance orchestrated by mother nature.  And as I have always said to the Boholanos I meet, the island province is rich and blessed.

At first we saw big dolphins one by one, and about two or three of them are swimming alongside our boat!  We all shouted for joy, cheered the marine wonders and jumped in a way that we won't fall off from the boat.  Then as we moved around, we saw more dolphins, this time a little smaller than the first ones we saw, all swimming in synchrony.  A few playfully jumped and twirled as if they knew we were watching them with enjoyment and as if they were making a show sans the man made structures and animal trainors.

I guess we stayed at the dolphin area for around 45 minutes and headed to the marine sanctuary located in nearby Balicasag Island afterwards. Watching the dolphins brought out the children in us but as we sailed away from the playful sea mammals, we were again mesmerized, this time by the cool gentle breeze touching and kissing our skin and the panoramic view of the serene water, sky and horizon being photographed before our eyes.  For us who are pressed to live and survive the stressful and catastrophic life in Manila, the brief encounter with the sea and sky provided us a therapeutic relief -- it calmed our mind, cleansed our spirit and rejuvinated our body.

In my interview before with the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems, I learned that humans are deeply drawn to nature; we find joy in having picnics under the trees, walking along the beach, or simply basking in the beauty of nature. 

Well, I guess, we really are connected to the ecosystem that's why it's our instinct to always look for these kind of activities because we find and gain strength in being close to nature.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stored Treasure: The magic spell cast by Loboc River Cruise


Stored Treasure / 30 May 2010

About 9 years ago, the small province of Bohol became big in my eyes as I witnessed its magnificent natural beauty and wonderful people.  It captivated me that up to this time, Bohol still lands in the top list of my most desired Philippine destinations.  The province has it all -- the world famous Chocolate Hills, the so-called smallest primate in the world Tarsier, top diving destination Balicasag Island, Boracay rival Panglao / Alona Beach, Philippine pride Loboc Children's Choir, historical treasures Dagohoy and Sanduguan sites, and religious gems Baclayon and Daois churches, among many others.

Left photo shows foydi playing with the tarsiers.  Right photo shows foydi right after his snorkling experience in Balicasag Island.

The province may be small but I think I'll never run out of things to do, sites to check out and people to meet everytime I visit the place.  And for this trip, I was able to experience the Loboc River Cruise, dolphin watching in Pamilacan Island, tour and food trip in Bohol Bee Farm and first class stay in Bohol Beach Club. 'But I also checked out the world famous Chocolate Hills, manmade mahogany forest and Baclayon Church.  For this post, let me focus first on the River Cruise because for sure, this will be novel like if I include all the sites in one write-up. =)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Treasure Find 19 -- The Big Jump! (Da Best sa Batanes part 2)


In exploring life and the endless possibilities wrapped around it, I would like to believe I am adventurous, brave and daring enough.  Well, not on all aspects hehe.  Though I think I am such, there are things I don't do because I feel uncomfortable doing or I think I don't want the public to see me in such an awkward way.  Let's say, I won't dance in front of many people (unless am with friends and people I'm comfortable with) or dress up in a very eccentric way. 

But during my recent trip to Batanes (you may read Da Best Sa Batanes part 1 here), there was one thing I did which I was hesitant to do in the past.  It's doing the jump shot!  :)  During our trip to the Marlboro Hills, when we were scheduled to do the jumpology, I just took my inhibitions away and did the BIG JUMP!  :)

And as you can see, if I did not let go and held on to my restrictions then I would have not enjoyed the moment and have this kind of awesome and unforgettable shot!  :)  I guess this is Treasure Find 19, dropping the doubt, seizing the moment and enjoying life!  :)

Thanks to Imelda Acidera of etceteraetcetera for taking this photo.  :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stored Treasure: At last, I made it to Pahiyas! -- The Grandeur of the Pahiyas Festival


Stored Treasure / 16 May 2010

At last I made it to Pahiyas! =) Finally, after several years of trying to schedule and plan a trip, I finally made it to the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon! Well, year after year, my friends and I have been planning to go to Pahiyas until, I think everyone lost interest already but me. So when I got the invitation from Ultimate Philippines, I finally grabbed the chance! So I would like to thank Ivan Man Dy, Tina Decal and Anton Diaz for this wonderful cultural experience! =)

And for this trip, the bonus was to realize, and also to see, the versions of nearby towns Sariaya and Tayabas, which happen to celebrate the San Isidro Labrador Festival as well. ‘But since those are major and important occasions too, I think separate dedicated posts are needed.  So for this one, let me just tell you more about the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban.

The Pahiyas Festival is celebrated every 15th of May in Lucban, Quezon in honor of its patron saint and the patron of farmers San Isidro Labrador. This festival features streets of houses with displays of palay, fruits, vegetables, handicrafts and kiping, a rice-made decoration (can also be eaten) which is said to be the icon of the celebration. Kipings are strung together to form various shapes like chandelier called "Arangya" and giant flowers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Treasure Find 18: Da Best sa Batanes! (TaDi Goes to Batanes Series)


"When God created the world, He gave his best in Batanes."  -- Mandy Navasero.

With that quote alone I bet you can already visualize how beautiful Batanes and how truly blessed our Bayanihan Republic is!  Considered as the smallest province in the Philippines, in terms of land area and population, Batanes is a group of islands located at northern Philippines and south of Taiwan.  It has 10 islands but only 3 are inhabited, Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat.

Marlboro Hills

So what really hooked me in going to Batanes?  It was a magazine article I read years ago when Filipino photographers voted / declared Batanes as the most photogenic place in the Philippines!  I saw the pics and I was just amazed and got intrigued with the beauty of the islands.  Wrongly, I told myself, and my friends that it just looks like New Zealand!  Why did I say wrongly?  Well, because Batanes has a beauty of its own, comparing it with another place is a mortal sin.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Treasure Find 17: Strawberricious Baguio! -- Finding the Strawberry Taho and Strawberry Sinigang! (Yo Baguio part 2)


Who loves taho?  Who are addicted to pork sinigang?  Well, if you are a proud Pinoy, I guess you love both, just like me!  :)  The two have always been in my favorites list but when I recently went to Baguio, I didn't expect that these well loved Filipino snack and dish still have something much new to offer!

We all know that Baguio (the market) and Benguet (the farm) are haven for strawberries!  While we are aware and delighted with the fruit, the jam and the ice cream, Baguio peeps have innovated their very own produce and came up with all new offerings to the public!  And they are... the Strawberry Taho and Strawberry Sinigang!  :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Treasure Find 16: R&R Within Reach at Paradizoo and Residence Inn


For a hot country like ours, that's literally and figuratively speaking (hehe), we once in a while look for and go to cool places to rest and relax.  I was fortunate enough to have been to Baguio and Tokyo, Japan a few weeks back but if the need arises, I don't have the time and funds in an instant to just pick up my bag and go to those places.

For residents of Manila and its neighboring provinces, good thing there's Tagaytay and the nearby towns in Cavite which are just kilometers away of the metropolis.  But don't get me wrong, Tagaytay is not last in the options.  :)  In fact, it's one of my favorite places as well.  That's why when I got an invite to visit Paradizoo and Residence Inn, NO was just taken out of my vocabulary!  :)

Stored Treasure: Barasoain Church's procession for faith and tradition


Stored Treasure / 04 April 2010

Next in the Holy Week tradition that I revisited is the Good Friday procession of the Way of the Cross.  The procession features life size replicas of biblical characters and scenes depicted in the Passion of Jesus Christ.

At Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, the activity usually starts at around 5 or 6 PM but we managed to enter the patio right before the procession so we could have a better look at the sacred figures. =)  Here are some of the shots I have taken.

Barasoain Church may be an icon in Philippine History but first and foremost, it is a home to centuries old Filipino Catholic tradition.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Treasure Find 15: Yo Baguio


Yo Baguio
The Bloggies' Baguio Getaway (part 1)

I can't recall how many times I've been to Baguio, which is dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines by the Americans in the early part of 20th Century.  But going to this wonderful place never bored me.  Thinking of its distinct characteristics -- the scenery, the weather, the people, the goods just continue to amaze and magnetize me. 

Baguio, formerly known as Kafagway, is 1,500 meters above sea level and is located at the Cordillera Administrative Rregion (North Luzon Island) of the Philippines.  A highly urbanized city, Baguio was declared the Summer Capital of the Philippines because of its cold weather brought about by its altitude.

A few years back, I got the interest to go to Baguio during its Panagbenga Festival (Flower Festival) because of a scene I saw in the romantic comedy movie of Aga Muhlach and Regine Velasquez :).  I was amazed with what I saw and I told myself, how come I've never been to Baguio during this time!  Oh well, there's never too late for TaDi's Bayanihan Republic.  So here's the adventure!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Stored Treasure: Talk the Walk... the Good Friday walk to Kapitangan


Stored Treasure / 02 April 2010

Like the "pabasa", the "lakad sa Kapitangan" (walk to Kapitangan) is another Holy Week activity I grew up with. There's nothing spectacular about this tradition except that we get to walk in woods and rice fields, see the standard Filipino Catholic activity like Via Crucis and penitensya, eat native dishes at the street, buy "langis" (oil) that said to possess healing power, witness the crucifixion of Mother Paring, an old woman who make herself crucified each year during Holy Week and of course bond with my cousins.

Photo shows a man who volunteered himself to do the penitensya.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stored Treasure: Pabasa lives on and enriches relationships, spirituality and culture


Stored Treasure / 01 April 2010

After Christmas, Holy Week is the next most awaited occasion in our family as it brings us to valuable traditional activities that were started decades ago.

On Holy Thursday, we have the "pabasa", an activity where people chant the book that narrates the Passion of the Christ. In pre-colonial Philippines, poems are not read but sang or chanted (like in epics Lam-ang and Alim). That I think is the reason why pabasa is done that way.

On Good Friday, we have the "Walk to Kapitangan" which I will blog next, the "prayer at Barihan" and "prusisyon at Barasoain". Come Saturday, since there are plenty of kids, we usually have a swim. =)