MAJESTIC VIEW OF LANTAWAN PEAK AT LANTAWAN VIEW SILAY

There is no better way to explore Silay City, Negros Occidental  than our winding, curvy mountains road to Patag and to the majestic view of the Lantawan Peak.  The road going up to Lantawan Peak is clean and surrounded by mountains of green, tall trees and sugar cane plantations that can be seen along the side. Negros Occidental is the Philippines’ major sugar producer, contributing over half to the country’s total production. 

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As you approach the top you will be in awe by the beauty and simplicity of rural life. It was a quiet scenic ride all the way up to Lantawan View Silay. At the top, there is a campground and a distance away is the forest seedling of mahogany trees. The mahogany tree (Swietenia mahagoni) is a large tropical tree with a semievergreen growth habit.

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Towering Mahogany Trees
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Towering Mahogany Trees
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Camping Ground

Due to its popularity and known for its view that overlooks the Lantawan Peak, the owner decided to put up an accommodation offering a tent-style accommodations and a basic cottages.  The place has a bathroom for male and female where you can take a shower and a small store that offers small bites for snack.  They have a wide space to park your 4  or 2 wheels service as well.

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Dining Fly
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Camping Tent

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A Frame Cottage

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In preserving the beauty of the place, visitors and guests are not allowed to pick flowers and carving trees.

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The best part of our road trip was seeing the majestic mountains of Lantawan Peak surrounded by greenery and fresh air was truly amazing. The scenery is so beautiful, no words can describe how I felt that day. I felt I transported into a paradise realm where the Earth is still pure, fresh and nourishing. The view was just so amazing that I stood glued by the beauty of the mountains. I was totally captivated by its grandeur.

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Lantawan Peak is the northernmost peak of Mount Silay. The peak is largely uninhabited, especially its back country Southern side. Likely most of the peak of the mountain, Lantawan is largely covered by forest.  The first recorded climb of the peak done by Joseph Victor Magdato, Mark Anthony Maja and John Paul Salcedo who scaled it on October 3, 2005.

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Elevation (feet) is 3,442. Latitude: 10 49 58.44″. Longitude: 123 14’9.96″

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It was almost late in the afternoon when we headed back to the city, as we descend I saw beautiful flame trees (fire trees, Delonix regia) along the side of the road. It is a flowering tree that grows in many tropical parts of the world, like the Philippines. 

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The leaves of the tree look like Fire. It is red, yellow and orange. So beautiful to see. How the shade and the sun connect. It  makes me felt I was in a field of fire.

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The sky turned into orange, yellow, red and blue and imagine strolling through these trees with leaves the color of fire. I just wish everything just stop. It was amazing. Orange, yellow, red all different colors  really made me felt warm inside as I said goodbye to this beautiful country side of my home town.

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I am going back someday…..

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FINDING HERITAGE – HACIENDA ADELA CATHOLIC TRADITIONS

This is not a docu short about rituals of faith during the Semana Santa. I and Hannah did this story about a hacienda and a beauty queen. Hacienda Adela, a sugar plantation tucked between mountains and sea in the Philippine city of Silay – also known as the “Paris of Negros” island – the region’s cultural center. It is home to sacadas (migrant workers) and dumaans (originals), who have managed to preserve centuries-old Roman Catholic traditions, including saying chants in Latin, even by those workers who have not reached secondary school. Miss Culture World Rizza Paula Lacson is seeking to discover heritage worth preserving. When the past and present, old and new meet, and intersect, heritage reveals itself – Julius Marvels.

Holy Week in the Philippines is a significant religious observance for the Roman Catholic majority and most Protestant groups. It begins on Palm Sunday and continues Maundy Thursday, when businesses in the Philippines either shut down operations until Black Sunday or have the late opening and earlier closing times. Many communities observe Spanish influenced Catholic rituals such as processions, with many having been syncretized with pre-Hispanic beliefs. This is evident practices and many superstitions associated with the occasion.

The recitation of chanting of the Passion story of Jesus -the Pabasa ng Pasyon – is one of the oldest Holy Week traditions in the Philippines. Since 17th century believers have gathered that week to pray by singing or reading a story of the Passion of Jesus of epic singing that predates’s rise in the Philippines. In some urban areas in the Philippines, Pabasa ng Pasyon is a declining traditions, but there are always people who make a panata (vow) to participate and such practice remains strong in HACIENDA ADELA in Silay City, Negros Occidental. They are the living heritage. The folks continue to practice these oral traditions so that the younger generation can still experience them in the future.

EXPERIENCE SILAY CITY CHRISTMAS VILLAGE

Experience Christmas Village in Silay City, its joyful atmosphere with thousands of glittering Christmas lights, colorful lanterns or referred as “parol” in Filipino lingo, creative Christmas decorations and manger displayed all over the plaza that will truly bring you and your family into the perfect Christmas mood. A Nights of Shimmering Lights a great place to meet up with friends, stroll along with family, loved ones and take pictures.

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What is Christmas Village? 

The time of the year wherein the communities start making their Christmas lanterns, holiday decor and “Christmas arko” ( arko is a Silaynon symbol for welcome and the hope of the Silaynons for a more progressive future) being displayed in Silay City Plaza for the Yuletide Season to show their craftsmanship and creativity.

This year the participating communities and barangay who are vying for the awards expected to join the theme “Masanag nga Paskwa sa Pag-asenso sang Dakbanwa” ( A Bright Christmas For A Progressive City). Lanterns, Christmas decor and arko are made of recyclable materials and Mountain Dew plastic bottles.

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Christmas Village has been a long tradition which started  as early as 1840 with the aim to beautify the plaza and bring together the community during the Yuletide season which continually grown over the years.

Exactly 7:30 P.M. on December 11, 2016 the plaza illuminated with twinkling lights followed by the “Employees Christmas Extravaganza” a show that brings together favorite Disney heroes, princess and villains. After the show was the fireworks display shining in the sky. So beautiful to watch!

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I Hope you enjoy my photos of our Christmas Village, and that  every one of you have a very Merry Christmas!

UNPLANNED ROAD TRIP – GUIMARAS ISLAND OFF WE GO…

“Go Ahead You Never Know What Could Be On The Other Side”

We did not have a plan to cross the sea and go to Guimaras. Our plan was to go back to Bacolod the following day after our long and tiring trip to GarinFarm and Iloilo City. But an unplanned road trip sometimes is the most thrilling part of adventures right? You don’t know exactly where are you going, just packed your clothes, go and get lost. It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s the experience not the destination that counts.

The last thing we knew, we already boarded a ferry heading to Guimaras Island after our breakfast in the hotel. Guimaras Island is one of the top destinations in the Philippines both by foreign and domestic tourists, especially for nature lovers and adventure seekers like me. The island of Guimaras always stands out as one of the travel destination in the Philippines because of its white sandy beaches, quaint little towns, bike trails, and off shore islets. Guimaras Island is  known as the home of the sweetest mangoes. Just a short trivia. Did you know that Guimaras mangoes earned its reputation as the sweetest mangoes in the world after being served at the White House and Buckingham Palace?

Guimaras is an island province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. It’s capital is Jordan which is the gateway to Guimaras. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros.

Iloilo is the primary gateway to Guimaras. The island province is 15 minutes by motorboat or ferry ( Php14.00 per head) from Parola and Ortiz Wharf in Downtown Iloilo City.

Once we boarded and settled on the boat we took some selfie pictures. 🙂 It was a lovely smooth sailing boat ride. The views are very scenic, at a distance, I saw a large cross on top of one of the islets of Guimaras. I asked the guy setting behind me what it was. He answered “it is a church and you need to climb the steps going up to the top of the mountain and it would take you two hours to go up and another two hours to  come down.” OH MY GOODNESS! I can’t imagine myself taking a trek like that.

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Smile 🙂

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One of the islets  in Guimaras that caught  my attention is the big cross on top of the mountain.
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Inviting blue waters of Guimaras.

After 15 minutes of sailing, we finally arrived at our destination. Upon disembarking, I saw the sign “Welcome to Jordan the gateway to Guimaras”.

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Jordan Wharf the gateway to Guimaras.

At the port entrance there are tricycle drivers, jeepneys and multi-cab operators waiting for passengers. We were  approached by a local  as we disembarked from the boat and were told  we needed to go to their Tourist Information Office to register. Inside there are maps of places you can choose to go and explore. After finalising where we would like to go, I asked one of the drivers  if he could bring us to places where we wanted to see. You need to haggle the price for the transportation.

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A ride for the day to see the island of Guimaras would cost you about PHP1,500.00,  just try to haggle the price. If you do not rent the tricycle for the day, the  fare would be PHP50.00 per head one way.  Renting a tricycle one way may lead to no  tricycles available when it is time to return to the wharf.  The advantage of renting a tricycle as a group the driver would wait for you on your own convenience. I haggle the price for PHP1,000.00 and we both agreed on the price.

The adventure begins…we are on our road trip…yey!!!The road trip going to our destination is very scenic, beautiful dense trees  with some opening in the trees along the road  that provides lovely views of the surrounding landscapes.

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Beautiful scenery on the road
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Lush green forests

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Our first stop is their little plaza or the smallest plaza ever recorded in Guinness Book of World Records. Their little plaza is just a few minutes from the port. The modest statue of Doctor Jose Rizal, our national hero is standing at the center of their plaza surrounded by circular porches.

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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet. We just stopped bye here.
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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet.

Our second stop is the  San Lorenzo Guimaras WindMills. The trip going to the WindMills was quite long, passing lush green towering trees and large mango plantations. The scenery is quite impressive and the road is well maintained. I was impressed at how progressive the little towns of Guimaras is in maintaining their roads.

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The San Lorenzo WindMills, measuring at 80 meters tall and 40 meters wide on the other hand, rise like a skyscraper towering over everything. Each wind turbine blade is capable of generating 2 megawatts of electricity giving a total of 54 megawatts, more than enough to cater 13-megawatts power supply needed for the province. The remaining energy is used to power the neighbouring provinces – Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

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Approaching San Lorenzo WindMills

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After taking pictures in San Lorenzo WindMills we headed to Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery. This is a peaceful and sacred enclave in Guimaras run by the monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. These monks follow the rule of St. Benedict and are best known for extreme austerity or strictness that characterises their discipline.

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On our way to Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery
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Water Buffalo cooling of in the river.
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Cow under the tree.

The Trappist Monastery in Guimaras was founded in 1972 and is the only men’s monastery in the Philippines.

The monks earn a living by selling souvenir items and food  such as jellies, jams, candies and playa (is a muscovado-filled unleavened flatbread from the Philippines especially common in Negros Occidental where it originated. It is made by filling dough with a mixture of muscovado and glucose syrup) and more which are sold in their small shop within the monastery grounds. When buying their products you are helping them earn and sustain their living.

It was already noon and our hungry tummies started singing, our driver brought us to the Raymen Beach Resort where we had our lunch. Entrance Fee is Php20.00 per head. As soon as we paid  the entrance fee we headed to their restaurant. It took us so long to call the attention of the waiters before we can order our food. The place was packed of people. The food is good enough to satisfy our angry belly he he.

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Raymen Beach Resort, located in Alubihod Beach, is one of the popular resorts in Guimaras  both for locals and tourists. It has a short white sandy beach surrounded by the inviting blue waters, pristine off-shore islets of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. This is an excellent jump-off point for Guimaras island hopping tours.

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Our last stop is their  Guimaras Provincial  Capitol before heading back to the wharf in Jordan Guimaras where we posed on their iconic GUIMARAS  touristy spot. I guess you really have to stop here for a picture.

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A souvenir photo with our nice, friendly,, entertaining and smiley  tricycle driver as we bid goodbye to him.

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at the Jordan Wharf before heading back to Iloilo City.
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On our way back to Iloilo City.
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Goodbye Guimaras!

Till the next trip…we will see you again!!!

OUR JOURNEY TO HEAVEN – GARIN FARM

” My home is in heaven. I’m just passing through this world.”

Billy Graham

It was almost noon time when we arrived in GarinFarm, our journey to heaven. Garin Farm is a slice of heaven on earth. I’ve heard a lot of comments and read lots of reviews about this place, so that I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

GarinFarm is a 14 hectare inland resort located in the town of San Joaquin Iloilo. There are no buses in the town of San Joaquin. Buses passing daily in this area are those coming from and going to the province of Antique and of Iloilo. A number of tricycles operate within the municipality. The most common mode of transportation in the poblacion is trisikad ( The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as bike, pedicabs, cyclo or trishaw).

GarinFarm is a perfect place for family, friends or people who love nature, outdoor activities and educational travel in matters like farming and agriculture. This is a great place to relax, retreat and meditate as well while bringing yourself closer to nature and to our almighty creator.
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Upon entering the gates, you can smell the smells of the farm life. Along the way you can see ducks, chickens, goats, rabbits and water buffalos as you walk through the pavement of their hanging gardens. The uphill walk inside GarinFarm leading to the heart of the place where the pavilion is located was a bit tiring but fun. Walk, smile, and think of happy thoughts as we continue our journey to heaven. As we all know, entering the gate of heaven will not be easy. 🙂

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Hanging Gardens

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After the long walk, your eyes will be in awe by the breathtaking view of the place. There is a wide swimming pool for adults and children and a large artificial lagoon for kayaking, fishing, horse-back riding, all terrain bikes, ziplines and a lot more.

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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet.

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One of the main attraction of the GarinFarm is their Pilgrimage site located at the heart of the farm. It has a huge stone façade leading to the 456 steps towards the Divine Mercy Cross. Going up to the Divine Mercy Cross would be a great way to lose some calories and fats.  As I climb the steps my legs are a bit shaky but keep on telling myself go Tess go..You can do it. It was hot and the angry sun started to cause my skin to feel hot as if it was burning. I almost wanted to give up. But there’s no reason to give up. Our hardest time often lead to the greatest moments of our life. I should try to take the most of it. As we reached the top I was sweating but with a big smile on my face. Hurray! Finally we made it! I made it!

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A breathtaking view at the top

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As you climb take time to stop and meditate on different scenes of  Christ’s life.

Reaching the top was a very satisfying moment for us, as we finally reached the inspiring Divine Mercy Cross and seeing  the big image of the Divine Mercy was a great relief.

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From here you need to enter the meditation tunnel leading to the gate of heaven.

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As we step inside the meditation tunnel you have this feeling of being drawn into darkness. It was total darkness. We can not hardly see each other, I need to grab the hand of my friend as she leads me towards the end of the tunnel until reaching a realm of radiant white light.

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Towards the end of the tunnel.

As the light appears and the tunnel takes you toward the light and into heaven. HEAVEN ON EARTH! The place is so bright that we could hardly open our eyes. I had to shield my eyes from it until my eyes adjusted to the brightness. The light filled me with rapture of love, peace and joy, it was so intense and so beautiful.

There are angels blowing their trumpets who stand beyond the gate of heaven as you can see the Throne of Light and Glory. The heaven is so beautiful, my heart felt very peaceful.

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Our trip to GarinFarm was truly a memorable one. A beautiful, idyllic slice of HEAVEN!

Direction:

From Iloilo International Airport:

  • Take the Shuttle Bus going to SM City, Iloilo
  • From SM City, Iloilo, take the SM Manduriao jeepney and take a stop at the nearby intersection under the overpass and ride the Oton bound jeep going to the jeepney terminal located in Mohon, Oton.
  • In Mohon Oton Terminal, there will be several San Joaquin jeepneys ready to take you to GarinFarm for PHP60.00.

From Iloilo City Proper:

  • Take the San Joaquin bound jeepney from Super terminal, Iloilo City.
  • You  can also take buses going to Anini-y or Dao Antique in Molo Terminal. Tell the bus driver conductor to drop you off in San Joaquin

From San Joaquin Town Proper:

  • Take a tricycle ride and tell the driver to take you to GarinFarm, Brgy. Huna. Brgy. Huna is a 2-minute ride from San Joaquin town proper.

For Private Transportation:

  • San Joaquin is the last town in the southern part of Iloilo
  • Driving  along Iloilo-Antique National Road would get you in San Joaquin in about an hour
  • There will be signage and billboards directions along the highway going to GarinFarm to guide you.

TIPS IN VISITING GARIN FARM SAN JOAQUIN:

  • Bring umbrellas, hats,  sunblock, shades and other protection you can against the sun. However, I suggest better to go there as early as possible before noon time. Noon time would be so hot. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while climbing the stairs going to the Divine Mercy Cross.
  • Bring extra budget if you plan to try their leisure activities. The entrance fee is not consumable.
  • Enjoy the scenery

ENTRANCE FEE:

  • PHP150.00 per person excluding children 1-year-old
  • Senior citizen discount; applicable to cardholders only. Strictly no outside food and drinks allowed.) Food and drinks available in the pavilion.

From the entrance you can walk going up to the pavilion and explore the agricultural products along the way ( just bring your umbrella). For those who can’t afford to walk under the heat of the sun, you can take a ride in the Golf Cart (3 pax/ride): Entrance to Pavilion is PHP60.00; Pavilion to Cross: PHP90.00.

ACTIVITIES AND AMENITIES:

  • Executive Conference Room (15-20 pax): PHP2,500.00
  • Hilltop Swimming Pool – PHP80.00
  • Hilltop Horseback Riding – PHP60.00
  • Biplane (300 meters -2 rounds): Sitting -PHP250.00 and Superman PHP350.00
  • Hilltop Boating: (Single Kayak -PHP40.00; Double Kayak – PHP90.00; Pedal Boat-PHP90.00; Rubber Boat – PHP120.00)
  • Hilltop Fishing: PHP30.00/kilo
  • Billiard: PHP60.00/hour
  • Restaurant
  • Canteen
  • WiFi Access
  • Laundry Service
  • 24-Hour Security
  • 24-Hour Electricity

ROOM RATES:

  • Hilltop Family Room: PHP3,500.00
  • Hilltop Twin Room: PHP2,500.00
  • Hilltop Single Room: PHP 1,500.00

***Extra Bed: PHP350.00 with breakfast; PHP250.00 without breakfast. Available for Family and Twin Rooms only and limited to 2 extra beds.

*** Check-in guests have complementary breakfast and a free use of the hilltop pool.

For inquiries and reservations please contact Garin Farm San Joaquin

  • Telephone Number: + 63 033 314 75 55
  • Mobile Number: + 63 916 667 6851

or visit their Facebook Page: Facebook.com/GarinFarmInlandResort

Website: http://www.garinfarm.com

THE HIDDEN BEAUTY OF BACONG, NEGROS ORIENTAL

Bacong is a small town in the province of Negros Oriental, 10 minutes ride south from the City of Dumaguete. The town founded in 1801 by the revolutionary Filipino hero Pantaleon Villegas, better known as Leon Kilat. Leon Kilat monument stands in the little park and became the landmark of Bacong. The town’s name comes from the local dialect word “Bacon”, which means stand up.

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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet

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Only in Bacong can you find an old church known as the church of San Augustine with the tallest belfry in all of Negros Oriental and is one of 26 colonial churches within the country selected for restoration by the National Commission for Culture and Arts. It has the oldest altar with gold-bearing and painted friezes and a pipe organ from Zaragoza, Spain, installed in 1898 shortly before the revolution against Spain broke out in Negros Oriental. The only pipe organ of similar provenance is Bohol.

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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet
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Photo not mine. Taken from the internet.

Lots of expats live in Bacong including me and my partner and it became our adopted home after my partner decided to retire from his work in Australia as a Geologist. My partner did a lot of research and reading about Bacong and he  fell in love with this little town.  My partner loves the country side of living while I am a city girl and have always enjoyed diversity of the city, so there was a big adjustment and transition on my side.

Bacong became popular destinations and retirement haven for expats. It’s tranquil small-town life by the sea. It is known for its beaches. Here you can find an array of beautiful resorts and cottages along the coastline. There are plenty of apartments, houses fully furnished  that you can rent for long or short-term which is very affordable.

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The town is accessible by jeepneys, tricycles and private vehicles.  The best way to tour around Bacong is by foot or tricycle because it is such a small town and most of the sights are only a few minutes away from each other.

After nine months of living in Bacong we decided to move to my hometown Silay City, Negros Occidental where life is highly urbanised . It keeps a breast with development yet still keep up the laid back lifestyle. For the time being we are enjoying our life here in Silay City.

Living in a small town like Bacong was one of my best experience. My partner and I enjoyed our time there and one day we will be going to visit. We miss our friends that makes the town what it is ” A great place to live”.

 

PUERTO GALERA – “PORT OF THE GALLEONS”

It was 2008 when we went to Puerto Galera. The trip to Puerto Galera was part of the company Team Building Workshop. I was pretty excited then. I was so thrilled that the  night before our trip I already prepared and packed my things and be sure tha I have everything I needed before going to bed.

Puerto Galera is just a few hours travel time from Manila, it can be reached by boat within 1-2 hours from Batangas Port. This gorgeous collection of bays and islands is one of the country’s top destinations, known for having a lot of beaches and is cheaper than a Boracay vacation.

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A view of Boat children diving for coins from Batangas Pier ferry passengers going to Puerto Galera!

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The town was popularly known as “Puerto Galera” in Spanish ” Port of the  Galleons” which was given by the Spaniards who used the island as a safe haven in the 16th century. The town later became an important trading center and became the capital of Mindoro Island in the 17th century. In 1903, however, Calapan was named the capital as it remains to the present, and Puerto Galera became but a barrio there. On December 7, 1927, Puerto Galera was declared an independent municipality through Act 3415.

There are several pocket of beaches where you can choose and stay. We picked the White Beach over Sabang. White Beach is more family oriented and thinking that White Beach would have a white powdery sand but we were quite disappointed because it is not really white, the sand is coarse with broken corals and small pebbles. But this place has an array of restaurants, resorts, bars, souvenir stores, tattoo parlors thus, it is a convenient place to stay since everything you need is here. During the day, people enjoy their time playing beach volley ball, sun bathing, massage, swimming and there are lots of water sports to choose and enjoy such as jet ski, banana boat ride and kayak. At late afternoon you can lay out your beach towel and watch the sunset from the side of the island while sipping and enjoying a nice cocktail. But after the sun sets, life in White Beach does not stop at all.  Expect more fun and partying all night. At night you can watch the fire dancers which is very popular in Puerto Galera especially at White Beach. Most of the bars around the place has their own fire dancers to attract visitors.

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Banana Boat ride
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Sunset in White Beach, Puerto Galera
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Fire Dance
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Mindoro Sling

I really don’t drink but occasionally I would sip for a try to one of the favorite booze in Puerto Galera which is Mindoro Sling. It is a cocktail drink of rum, orange, mango juice, sliced apple and Sprite. They said it is a deadly concoction and  be consumed slowly. 🙂

White Beach is very popular and expect the place to be crowded and a bit noisy during holidays especially Holy Week!

Sabang on the other hand is known as Puerto Galera’s Red Light District with a busy night life and bar options. But no beach at all! The main street lined with bars, cafes and restaurants. Sabang focuses mostly on the girly bar scene. If you like bar hopping with each bar being within a minute’s walk of the other and nightlife activities, Sabang might be the perfect place for you.

There are a lot of activities to do in Puerto Galera however, we only stayed for a night so I headed to our room and have a good night sleep as we will be heading back to Manila the following day.

 Note: All photos are not mine. Photos are taken from internet. I lost all my photos from my old phone during our trip in Mindoro, Puerto Galera. Bummer! 😦

TEMPLE OF LEAH – A TRIBUTE OF LOVE

Temple of Leah was constructed in the year 2012 as a tribute of Teodorico Adarna a business tycoon that owns the Queensland chain of motels and the grandfather of actress Ellen Adarna to his wife Leah Villa Albino -Adarna whom the place is named after. He made this Temple possible to show his unwavering love to his wife.

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The Temple of Leah is a work in progress  when we came to visit. It was a little dusty and cluttered, hopefully I am looking forward to visit the place again and able to see its final look. The temple was built on the hillside of Barangay Busay, in the Queen City of South (Cebu City). The area varies from steep slope in the upper part to gently rolling slope in the lower part. This barangay has rugged hillsides and topographically/shrub land area.

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The Temple is an edifice of Roman architecture and Greek methodology inspired as you can see from the sculptures, columns, and high pillars. People who visited the place felt that they stepped into ancient Rome.

As you entered the Temple you would be greeted by a gigantic lions lying on each side of the stairs that will guide you to the door step where you can see a staircase with angels made up of brass and the Queen of the Temple in a 10-ft statue with crown and flower.

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The brass statue is the representation of Leah Villa Albino-Adarna the late wife of the business tycoon Teodorico S. Adarna. Leah crowned matron queen of her alma mater, the University of Southern Philippines. The plaque at the bottom base of the statue reads ” May the beholder discern her innate beauty, poise and gentleness.

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The Temple has an art gallery, museum and a library where all the favorite things her wife owned keep. Outside there are benches where you can sit down, relax, nibble some snacks and drinks while enjoying the panoramic view of Cebu City. I can’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful scenery and intricate works of art, wondering how will it look like once done.

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Temple of Leah is one of Cebu City’s important landmarks that invites and welcomes visitors to see its majestic beauty.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Address: Roosevelt Street, Barangay Busay, Cebu City

Entrance Fee: 50 PHP per person

Parking Fee: FREE if  outside the premises, but limited slots only. 100 PHP if parked inside Temple of Leah

Contact Number: 632 233 5032

Other Fees: 2,500 PHP for photo-shoots

Opening hours: 24 hours a day and 7 days a week

THE RUINS – A SYMBOL OF UNDYING LOVE FOR HIS WIFE…

The Ruins or the The Taj Mahal of Negros, yes you heard it right the counterpart of the Taj Mahal of India. Too many people raise their eyebrows when they heard about it, me myself wonder why so. From the way you look at it is far different from the Taj Mahal of India.

It was time for our tour and our tour guide show us the place while telling us the love story of Don Mariano and Maria the couple who owned the mansion and the reason behind why the place was known as The Taj Mahal of Negros.

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The mansion is located between the borders of Talisay and Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. The mansion owned by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, who visited Hong Kong often along with his friends during his younger years. On his visit to Hong Kong, the  sugar baron, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson met a beautiful young Portuguese woman from Macau by the name of Maria Braga. He fell in love with this beautiful lass and eventually the two felt in love with each other and got married.

The couple lived in Talisay and started their own family, blessed with 10 children and two of them became government officials. However, when Maria was pregnant with their 11th child, she slipped in the bathroom and started to bleed. The transportation during those years was a horse-drawn carriage from Talisay to the town of Silay, where a doctor lived and it would take two days before the doctor could reached the mansion.

So by the time the doctor arrived at the Mansion on the fourth day, Maria and her baby were already dead. Don Mariano was so depressed during this time. Saddened by Maria’s death and his undying love for his wife, he then planned of building a mansion in honour of his wife and his unwavering love for her. He told his idea to his father-in law and he agreed  and even went as far as supporting him the best way that he could.

Don Mariano’s  father-in law was a captain of his ship during that time so many of the items in building the mansion was imported from Europe and China, ranging from machuca tiles, chandeliers and china wares carted to Talisay. His father in-law even brought construction workers from China to help build the mansion.

It took three years constructing the mansion. The finishing touches on the walls and posts were a mixture of pure concrete with egg whites, resulting in a marble-like finish which can be seen and felt even to this day.

In 1911, the mansion was the largest residential structure ever built in the area. Built on  a 440-hectare farm. When World War II broke out, Don Mariano and his unmarried children left the mansion leaving everything behind.

When the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines came to the area, there were some rumours that the Japanese forces might have used the mansion as it headquarters. To prevent it from becoming such, Don Mariano asked the Filipino guerrilla fighters in Negros to burn his mansion.

It took three days of burning of the mansion to consume all the  roof, ceiling, floors, doors and windows – all of which were made of hard wood. When the flames finally died down, only the following withstood the fire: the pillars of the mansion, the grand staircase and parts of the two-inch wooden floors on the second storey. For many years, the remains of the mansion were abandoned in the midst of sugar plantations. Until the owners decided to fix it and put a landscape around the ruins.

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Today The Ruins are a historical landmark, open to public  since January 2008.

Now, The Ruins has a  Mediterranean restaurant that operates from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Ruins has a souvenir shop and an 18-hole Mini-Golf course where you can have fun recreation activity with your friends and or family.

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A great love story with a not -so- happy ending and a mansion built by romance and love once filled with beautiful memories before it became into a ruins.

HOW TO GET THERE:

If you are coming from Bacolod-Silay Airport and plant to visit The Ruins, just tell the taxi to pass by The Ruins.  If you are from Bacolod or nearby town, you can ride in a tricycle at the North Ceres Terminal.  Fare  from the North Ceres Terminal to The Ruins is PHP50.00 per head.

The Ruins is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m from Monday through Sunday including holidays.

All of the photos were taken by myself.

DISCOVER VALENCIA, NEGROS ORIENTAL

Valencia is a first class municipality in the province of Negros Oriental, Philippines. It is located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) west of Dumaguete City, the largest city and capital of the province. The municipality voted as “the greenest and cleanest” town of Negros Oriental in 2007.

We used to live in Dumaguete for nine months and every Sunday morning we travelled to Valencia which is about 5 to 10 minutes ride for their  Sunday market. Valencia Sunday Market takes place at the municipality plaza.

Nearby the park, there are some small eatery and coffee shops owned by expats that offer breakfast and coffee.

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Oval Field
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The Municipality Church
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Sunday Market in Valencia
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A small park in Valencia
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A nice pathway
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Acacia Trees all over the plaza

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Valencia grows many kinds of plants, flowers and vegetables due to its cooler climate, because of this Valencia supplies most of the fruits and vegetables found in Dumaguete City and surrounding areas. Agriculture is the town’s main industry aside from geothermal energy.

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Large Cauliflower field
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Farmers of Valencia
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Cauliflower Plantation
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Here you could buy fresh cauliflower in a very cheap price like Php80.00 per kilo or USD 1.65

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If you are an adrenalin seeker  rock hopping and climbing, trekking the river of Forest Camp, Valencia  would be perfect for you. Forest Camp Valencia is a mountain resort about 20 minutes by tricycle (a three-wheeled motorcycle) from Dumaguete. Entrance Fee is Php80.00 per person with the money going for upkeep of the resort.

Forest Camp is a popular for picnic destinations. Cottages, picnic huts and rented tables scattered around the area for rent where you can lay down your picnic baskets and enjoy the day with your family and friends. The place has its own restaurant as well and a tilapia pond where you can fish for your own lunch. You just have to pay your catch and have them steamed or grilled for you by the staff.

The place also offer accommodation for those who wish to stay over night or a days in the mountain resort.

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If you want to escape from the hustles and bustles of big city life. Why not plan a vacation here someday? Include Valencia in your next destination and you would surely enjoy the simplest life and close to nature.