All posts by dtp_admin

jeepney rooftop (header)

a day’s worth of backpacking in Bohol

We wanted to see how we would fare if we took the public transportation to visit Bohol’s most famous tourist sites, and so we started off from Tagbilaran City’s plaza near the cathedral at around 9:00 a.m. where we rode a jeep to Baclayon. Fare P 8.00 per head, travel time around 20 minutes.

a day's worth of backpacking in bohol

The Baclayon Church is one of the more famous old churches in Bohol. Its parking lot was filled with tourist buses, vans for hire and private vehicles which came in and out at all times of the day.

It was my first time inside the church. As is staple to old churches, there were several statues at the altar, carved woodwork on the door panels and church pews, paintings on the walls and ceilings and stained glass windows. I dropped in on the souvenir shop and saw all sorts of religious items for sale such as rosaries and prayer beads made of several materials including the expensive Swarovski crystal. I bought a sapphire blue rosary for P 450.00 as a momento.

We stayed for a while near the belfry where we took several souvenir photos. Our photographer from the Manila Bulletin newspaper Noel Pabalate pointed out a shape on one of the churches’ stone façade which resembled the face of a friar. According to him, it was first noticed by a student who called the attention of the sisters running the convent. It has become an iconic example of Baclayon’s religious devotion to the church and its patron saint/s.

We went out back to look for the shop selling the famous Marzipan biscuits/bread but was informed they had ran out of stocks due to a deluge of tourists the day before.

a day's worth of backpacking in bohol

We went back to the main road to wait for a jeepney ride to our next stop. After about 30 minutes, we were able to catch a jeep for Loboc where they have the famous Loboc river cruises and floating restaurants. Fare from Baclayon to Loboc was P 18.00 per head with travel time of about 45 minutes.

We alighted at Loboc Plaza which was just adjacent to the parish church of San Pedro Apostol and the Loboc Tourism Office and Waiting Lounge housing the boat terminal for the river cruises. Since most of the floating restaurants started at lunchtime (11 a.m.), we had to wait around for 30 minutes since we arrived early. A good thing there were several souvenir shops and snack kiosks to while away the time.

There were around four choices for the river cruises, each one revolving on a particular theme or menu, complete with live music entertainment. There was also a choice between day cruise (inclusive of lunch) or night cruise (inclusive of dinner) at P 400.00 per head. Capacity per boat was anywhere from 30-50 pax.

After a perfunctory lunch and a quick stop over at a balsa where a group of locals serenaded us with native songs and dances, we left at around 1:00 p.m. for a bus ride to the interior town of Corella to visit The Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc. Entrance fee was at P 20.00 per head.

a day's worth of backpacking in bohol

Bus fare cost P 21.00 with a travel time of around 45 minutes.

From the registration area, we walked down a dirt road for about 10 minutes before reaching the sanctuary. According to the tour guide, tarsiers are nocturnal animals and should not be disturbed at daytime. They commit suicide in captivity due to trauma from touching and loud noise. They have the slowest fetal growth rates of any mammal, taking 6 months to reach a birth weight of 23 grams. They are able to move about at night, but are wary of cats and snakes which usually prey on them.

Every morning, the tour guides go into the sanctuary to locate the three adults and one baby tarsier they currently have.

On our way from the sanctuary back to the main road, we met several foreign tourists riding rented motorcycles.

The staff at the registration area advised us that if we missed the 3:00 p.m. ride back to Loboc, we would have to wait another hour for the next ride.

We waited for 30 minutes before a jeepney headed for Loboc came along. Since it was already full, two of us had to ride on the roof since we did not want to wait another hour.

It was my first roof ride even though I came from the province. It was a good thing it was a balmy day, otherwise we could have gotten sunburned. The view was exhilarating and we had fun waving to kids who thought we were Koreans! From this experience, we learned that jeepney and bus rides in the province usually served as couriers as well, dropping off passengers and their packages on their front gates! So every now and then, it was normal for stopovers at someone’s residence, or little detours on side roads to drop off packages.

Back at Loboc, we had to wait another 30 minutes before a bus headed for the chocolate hills of Carmen passed by and it was jampacked, even worst than Manila’s MRT at rush hour! First thing we verified was that the last trip from Carmen back to Tagbilaran City was at 5:00 p.m.

So we squeezed into the bus along with all the other passengers. Just like Manila buses, bus aisles were also maximized to full capacity. Unlike Manila buses however, the front half of the bus were all seats with no aisle. After about an hour into the journey, I was ready to grab the next seat vacated. To our surprise, the elderly were just as agile and frisky in hitching rides on jampacked buses as did the young. Bus fare was P 31.00 each at over an hour travel time.

a day's worth of backpacking in bohol

We reached the Chocolate Hills at around 4:30 p.m. and rode motorcycles at P 40.00 per head up to the view deck. Entrance fees were at P 50.00 per head.

At the view deck were several tour buses and lots of parked motorcycles. One had to go up a flight of stairs (I lost count at 50) to get a bird’s eye view of the hills. They were spread over several hectares of land and were covered in green grass since it was the rainy season. At summertime, they turn brown when the grass dies under the scorching heat of the sun.

Tagbilaran’s museum diorama explains that mainland Bohol could have been under the ocean in pre-historic times, a possible reason why several fossils of shells, volcanic rock and limestone are abundant in the area even though Carmen is an interior town and far from the ocean.

After about 20 minutes, we hurriedly made our way back to the main road to catch the last trip back to the city. It was a good thing we were able to grab some empty seats because it took an hour and a half back to Tagbilaran City.

We were back in the city plaza at 7:00 in the evening.

a day's worth of backpacking in bohol

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Amuma Spa (header)

the wonders of Amuma Spa

Nothing beats a warm tub and a great massage after a tiring day.

Bluewater Resorts Group has several massage offerings to choose from at their renowned Amuma Spa, whether from their main resort in Maribago or at Sumilon, both in Cebu, or at the newly opened Bluewater Panglao Resort in Bohol.

The name AMUMA is derived from a Visayan word (native Philippine dialect) which means to pamper, spoil or indulge with every attention.

Amidst lush tropical surroundings, their spa services incorporate ancient and modern therapies from Visayan-Filipino, Asian and Western cultures. Amuma spares no detail to enhance your spa experience, from rituals that accompany each treatment to the products using the best local ingredients.

the wonders of Amuma Spa

HILOT JOURNEY

A three hour Amuma signature package, you start off by bathing in Amuma’s signature oil and calamansi blend to exfoliate and invigorate your skin with a gentle loofah. After your skin is exfoliated and prepared, you will be smothered in coconut cream, amuma potion, calamansi and Cebu’s famous mangoes.

the wonders of Amuma Spa

With your body wrapped in cool banana leaf, attention is given to your hair and scalp. Warmed virgin coconut oil is then drizzled on your hairline to nourish and moisturize your crown. If you want to forego the oil on your scalp, you may opt for a scalp massage instead.

A warm bath of sea salt, calamansi, amuma potions and frangipani will embrace you and take you further on your journey to hilot, an amalgamation of our favorite native hilot techniques. The hilot journey includes traditional hilot rituals such as space cleansing through burning of medicinal herbs and minerals and prayer invoking spiritual guidance and blessings.

the wonders of Amuma Spa

TRADITIONAL HILOT

This treatment is never the same twice as each manghihilot (therapist) has inherited the gift of healing hands from a relative and will pass on this good energy to you as a gift from the Divine. This is not a whole body massage. Instead, it focuses on areas the healer believes to be the root cause of the problem. Prayer/meditation is part of this experience which culminates in the healer giving you good advice to keep healthy and fit.

HOT STONE MASSAGE

My personal favorite, this treatment uses heated basalt stones to loosen stressed muscles and promote deep relaxation, as well as a sense of calmness. Crystal therapy stimulates healing and is incorporated by placing crystals on your chakra points.

the wonders of Amuma Spa

HILOT LAMANG

It involves long flowing strokes and techniques to relax tense or spastic muscles. This treatment increases joints’ range of motion, soothes the nervous system and reduces swelling. It also helps eliminate toxins from the tissues.

HILOT ABLON

With origins from Northern Philippines, it is known as “dry massage” because it does not use oils. This massage uses thumb and palm pressure on specific points of the body. Combined with stretching, it improves circulation and relieves stress and tension.

the wonders of Amuma Spa

HINGUT-AN

Head and shoulder massage derived from the rural pastime “kuto-kuto alis”, it includes a gentle hair-pulling technique that stimulates circulation, relieve headaches and induce rest and sleep. A blend of rhythmic rubbing along the neck, back and arms also rejuvenate both body and soul.

the wonders of Amuma Spa

PIKPIK KAWAYAN SA SIKI

Treatment using bamboo poles to apply rhythmic pressure on the foot area. Akin to reflexology, gentle taps on specific points help provide relief and improve blood circulation in the body. Also reduces fatigue, aches and muscle pains, as well as helps rid toxins and restore tissue balance.

the wonders of Amuma Spa

Other treatment options include Swedish, Namikoshi Shiatsu, Thai Foot Massage and Travel Revive Fusion.

For additional information, booking and reservations, please log on to www.bluewater.com.ph

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native child at Aguirangan Island, Camarines Sur

volunteerism and advocacy as legacy

ordinary people

making the Philippines

a better place to live in

one day at a time

Every day, all over the planet, international organizations of all kinds are hard at work building a stronger, fairer and safer world. They want to make sure that humanity does not fall into chaos. They want to create a world where the vulnerable are protected and where all people live in harmony with each other and with their environment. The charities, foundations, political groups, governmental, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work for the betterment of our planet are, today, humanity’s greatest assets.

Some of these organizations are legendary; some are known only to the people whose lives they touch. All these groups, highly visible and ultra-discreet, merit recognition and honor for their efforts to improve life for mankind.

For the most part, the employees, volunteers, and supporters of these organizations are neither superstars nor celebrities. Most of their leaders are unknown to us, as are their founders. Those who make these organizations viable are our global heroes, many of them working far away from the spotlight to make everyday life better and safer. They might  be your neighbors. They might be family members. Maybe they are you. If this is the case, let me take this opportunity to humbly thank you. Thank you all. You are my heroes.

The world would be a very dark place without you. You are an inspiration and you are hope.

You belong on humanity’s Wall of Honor.

Patrick Bonneville, publisher of the book WALL OF HONOR

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Revisiting Mabini Art book cover

In a new book, Mabini art shows its true colors

 by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

Before the advent of Romanticism, which emphasized the importance of the individual and his utterance (especially artistic) as a veritable imprint of his soul, art was largely seen as a trade and the artist as a craftsman meant to address the demands of his particular patron. Of course, not all artists were created equal. There were those who, showing exemplary talent, coveted lucrative commissions. Artists sought, even fought over, patrons. The Roman Catholic Church was inarguably the most powerful client there was.

In a sense, art-making was tied with, if not deeply entrenched into, commerce. The tide turned when artworks were seen more than just objects of beauty but as nebulous entities invested with spiritual implications. To trade one openly was to corrupt it. Even if galleries proliferated at the start of the 20th century and sold more paintings than at any point in history, care was still extended in the treatment of artworks as sacred objects. Like a spiritual relic, they were placed on a pedestal, illumined by a light source, held with gloves. Viewers, pondering them, kept their distance. This practice continues up to now.

That is why artworks sold openly by a commercial establishment, which dispenses with ritual preparations and curatorship connected with a formal display, are frowned upon, if not outrightly rejected. They are judged not according to their forms, movements and subtleties but on their context. Since no care is extended in presenting them and evoking their magic, the consensus is that their value—if there’s any at all—lies merely in the decorative. Never mind if the art works in question share the same qualities as those which are shown in legitimate galleries and exhibitions.

The book Revisiting Mabini: Its Significance in the Development of Philippine Visual Arts, edited by Oliver Quingco II and Klaus W. Hartung and published by the German-based company Transwing Jane e.K., offers a corrective to this view, even arguing that what is viewed as “commercial art”—specifically those showed in the famed street of Mabini in Ermita, Manila—has helped propel the momentum of art in this country, bringing its own welter of iconography, impulse and inspiration. The editors, with contributions from some of the most notable art critics and academicians in the Philippines, present their case in more than 200 pages of art history annotations and image reproductions.

In their Preface, the editors promise to “revisit how Mabini Art developed starting from 1949 and its role in the development of visual arts in the Philippines, the walk-out of the conservatives from the AAP [Art Association of the Philippines] competition in 1955, the influence of modernism, and later on the mingling of studied artists, college dropouts and self-studied artists in the galleries and studios in Mabini, and the subsequent opening of Pistang Pilipino.” Pistang Pilipino, by the way, was a commercial complex where different galleries traded their wares.

But before the editors proceed to their bone of contention, they offer a sweeping view of the history of Philippine visual arts, back from its indigenous roots to its present-day incarnation and blossoming. For those with no or little knowledge about the subject, these chapters are a treat. They elucidate, aside from a variety of concerns, how our forebears translated the world into symbols they carried on their bodies; how Filipino artists during the Spanish times worked with foreign, therefore hostile, Christian iconography; and how Jose Rizal, having been schooled in painting at Academia de Bellas Artes de San Francisco in Spain, became an accomplished landscape artist.

The book then turns a gear as soon as it covers the 20th century. Fernando Amorsolo, who would eventually gain the distinction as the country’s first National Artist for Visual Arts, was the acknowledged master of the first half of the century with his idyllic settings, lovely maidens and intoxicating treatment of light. He was also the figure that the modernists, after the Second World War, rebelled against. Leading the modernist pack was Victorio Edades who, himself, would also become National Artist.

It was during this intense period (when the conservatives and the modernists staged their confrontations) that the so-called “Mabini Art” was born. Pearl Tan, associate professor of Art Studies at UP Diliman, mentions that the reputation of  Mabini Art we know today—something that is openly commercial, ready to be snapped up with the click of a purse—is largely faulted on the third generation of artists who have set up shop on the street.

“Because the paintings are easily produced and reproduced in quantity,” Tan writes, “Mabini Art is commonly looked upon as commercialized by most art experts and non-Mabini artists and dismissed as low-quality art or ‘cheap art’…” She adds that “such disparaging aesthetic judgment and stigmatization prove to be unwarranted” since the first two generation of artists (and a handful from the third) were serious practitioners, worthy of historical documentation.

Revisiting Mabini makes a roll call of notable Mabini artists from all three generations, including Cesar Amorsolo Sr., Cesar Buenaventura, Roger San Miguel, Oscar Ramos Apuli, Rafael Arenillo Cusi and Emmanuel S. Nim. The book’s piece-de-resistance, however, is about Francisco “Paco” Gorospe Sy (who signed his work as Paco Gorospe). Why he is made as a focusing lens of this book could be credited to three factors. First, even if he belonged to the second generation of Mabini artists, he was one of the street’s loyal denizens (re-building his gallery twice after being engulfed in fire), making him a credible witness to and an active participant in Mabini’s history. Second, he was willfully eclectic and prolific, playing around with trends and figurations and not sticking with one particular style. He was a micro-Mabini Street all by himself, metaphorically speaking. Third, after his death in 2002, one can now make an objective appraisal of his work and contribution to Philippine visual arts.

Born on July 10, 1939 in Binondo, Manila, Gorospe was largely a self-taught artist, even if having spent a term as a student at the Fine Arts department of University of Santo Tomas. Initially, he worked with crayons and watercolors but found out that he could best express himself in oil. After getting married and having four kids, he founded his gallery in Mabini in the ‘60s, forging what is now referred to as the Mabini Triumvirate, the two artists being Roger San Miguel and Francisco Ello.

Prof. Paul Blanco Zafaralla, Ph.D., respected art historian and critic, sums up the Gorospe visual vocabulary as such: “For 45 years (1957-2002), Gorospe fixed his eyes, mind and heart on at least 11 different subjects, in various media and styles. The subjects…were the following: people, fowls, fishes, animals, landscapes, riverscapes, abodes, still-lifes, climate, industrialization, religion.” Gorospe, Zafaralla adds, was at home with “realism, cubism, abstraction. He used the styles of some Western and Filipino artists as take-off points for his deconstruction of the subjects whose pictorial units are taken as metaphors.”

Though they are metaphorical as they come, Gorospe’s works, especially his figures, are full-bloodied, alive, inflected with the immediacy of animate objects. His coloration, trumpeted as his main achievement, renders a multi-dimensionality to his paintings (he was not called as the “Picasso of the Philippines” for nothing), as though they are transpiring, at once, in the realm of sense and spirit. They are undeniably painterly. They are pieces whose main subject is beauty, broken through the prism of seductive forms. His portraits of the natural world, especially, are beckoning.

Why he didn’t achieve the renown he was meant to have in his lifetime can only be surmised. Perhaps, just like Mabini art, he was a willful (and willing) outsider, creating his art beyond the whims of trend while ironically operating under the demands of the market. He produced his paintings—all 7,000 of them—to the service of the eye and in the seeming absence of anxiety, employing faultless technique and mesmerizing craft. He will not remain a neglected master for so long. Revisiting Mabini: Its Significance in the Development of Philippine Visual Arts also seeks to redress that.

———————————————–

2012 Palanca Awards First Prize Winner for Poetry in English is Carlomar Arcangel Daoana—it’s his very first time to win First Prize, and he did it after only twelve attempts. Yes. Twelve attempts in twelve years.  That’s how coveted a Palanca gold medal is: you have no right to give up until you achieve it—and yes, Poetry in English is one of the toughest categories for anyone to win; it can take more than a decade!

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Male Torso

terpsichorean fantasies

“Women are from Venus and men are from Mars,” so goes the hoary cliché that is often used to describe the difference between the sexes. For want of a better way, I use the same cliché to distinguish men from women.

Not one to settle for the “birds and the bees” shtick from my parents, my teenage bout with sexuality brought me to an exhaustive research that lasted well after my college days, safely preferring oral and visual to genital explorations. Here is what I discovered:

Body build.

The ideal man is thought of as lean, muscular and hard. In reality though, there is the mesomorph (Hercules, predominantly muscle and bone), the ectomorph (linear or pencil man, thin and spindly), and the endomorph (spherical and fat) with the vast majority falling somewhere on the gradient between one of two of these types.

Compared to the vast majority of women, men tend to have bigger bones and muscles or body mass.

Hairiness.

Having lost the hairy tegument that covered the bodies of his early ancestors, man has been described accurately as the “naked ape.” Vestiges remain on the scalp, face, the armpits and the pubic region and, for some, on the chest, abdomen and back. While hairiness is an acceptable physical characteristic in males which enhances their masculinity, it is not desirable for women to be hairy. Hence their willingness to submit to the torturous process of waxing to remove unwanted body hair.

Baldness, on the other hand, while acceptable to certain fads, is often regarded as a personal catastrophe. Men and women will spend huge amounts of money to remedy the situation. Throughout history, baldness has carried a negative connotation. The Romans cut the hair off prostitutes, adulterers and traitors while early Christians endorsed a “tonsure style” for monks as an expression of humility and religious obedience, and to make them less sexually attractive. The French shaved off the hair of women who collaborated with or were mistresses of the occupying German forces during World War II.

Testosterone.

Although often thought of as the definition of maleness, both men and women produce it — men in their testicles, women in their ovaries, and both men and women in their adrenal glands. Men, however, produce much, much more of it. An average woman has 40 to 60 nanograms of testosterone in a deciliter of blood plasma. An average man has some 300 to 1,000, and a teenage boy’s can range up to 1,300.

Men experience a flood of testosterone three times: (1) in the womb eight weeks after conception for the development of the male sexual organs, imprinting maleness on the brain and influencing the many other characteristics of masculinity; (2) during the first few months after birth for the development of the body, emotions and the mind; and (3) at puberty — resulting in squeaky voices, facial and genital hair — that completes the process. Without testosterone, humans would essentially revert to the default sex, which is female. The lack or overabundance of it, on the other hand, is a factor that affects sexual orientation as is the case with lesbians and gays.

The Y chromosome.

The spermatozoa (in male ejaculate), which look like tadpoles, have 23 chromosomes and either an X or Y sex chromosome. If in the rush to get to a female ovum, an X-bearing sperm gets there first, the result will be a girl (XX), but if a Y-bearing sperm wins the race, it will be a boy (XY).

About one in every thousand males has an extra Y chromosome, making him an XYY male. Studies have shown that an XYY male is usually taller and bigger than the average male (XY), is not very bright, tend to lack emotional control, is more impulsive, and is predisposed to criminality unless the extra energy is redirected to something positive such as sports.

Spermatozoa.

Anywhere up to 500 million sperm are present in a single ejaculate, though they make up less than one percent of the volume — the rest being seminal plasma whose principal constituent is water, the function of which is to ensure that the semen is effectively transported into the female genital tract or wherever it is targeted at the moment of ejaculation.

The brain.

Anyone who dared suggest that the male brain might be different or in certain ways superior to that of females would have been promptly labeled as sexist 10 years ago. Now, it is more permissible to tell the truth, which is that in virtually every way — anatomically, psychologically, and intellectually — the brains of the two sexes are as different as chalk from cheese.

While men are single-minded and tend to excel in mathematical and scientific aptitude, women are multi-focused and tend to excel in verbal skills and emotional responsiveness. The major anatomical difference between the brains of the two sexes is the size of the corpus callosum connecting the two sides of the brain. More recently, it has been found that the hypothalamus in the brain is smaller in women than in men. This is thought to be important in determining sexual orientation, as it is also smaller in male homosexuals.

Sweat and smell.

Try watching the various brands hawking their beauty and hygiene products and you’ll see that men’s needs are very much different from that of women’s. With the exception of female athletes, men tend to have a more active lifestyle than women, so they sweat more and are more odious.

The feet, groin, hair and breath all have quite distinct odors, but the most powerful and easily recognizable of them all is that from the armpit. The axillary sweat glands in the armpit secrete small amounts of testosterone, but this proves to be odorless. However, the presence of large amounts of bacterium known as corneyform converts this testosterone onto other metabolites which emit the urine and musk-like odor that is so typical of sweaty shirts.

The penis.

Banana, zucchini, rod, staff, shaft. Whatever you call it, the possession of a penis is the defining characteristic of maleness which combines the two quite distinct functions of urination and copulation.

The length of the flaccid penis varies from 7.5 cm to 11.5 cm, and doubles when it’s erect. Although the importance of size has long been a dead argument, the use of it has spawned such bestsellers as the Kama Sutra and its modern day equivalent — manuals for advanced sexual maneuvers, techniques, positions, multiple and extended sexual orgasms.

Those who, through either impotence or choice, do not regularly use their organ for sexual intercourse also find that it becomes smaller with time. The lesson seems clear — use it or lose it.

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Aplaya Restaurant & Bar

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

Feast on succulent seafood and the day’s freshest catch at Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort’s Aplaya Restaurant & Bar in Panglao Island, Bohol.

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

Open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., the resto offers a healthy mix of international, Asian and Filipino regional cuisine served on Hotel Line Porcelain. Designed by Bluewater executive Chef Gilbert Alan Mathay, the menu is now supervised by Sous Chef Val Villarin.

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

An assortment of live seafood such as crustaceans (lobsters, crabs and prawns), fish (grouper, jack fish, eel, abalone and stone fish), shells (oysters, scallops, clams), and seaweed, which may be viewed in aquariums, may be ordered and cooked according to your preference:

Chinese – steamed with ginger and soya; with salt and pepper fried in sea salt and Szechuan peppercorns; with sweet and sour sauce; or with black bean sauce

Filipino – grilled or fried and served with native Filipino vinegar sauce; Sinigang soup; Tinola soup

Japanese – Sashimi with wasabi and soy sauce; grilled with teriyaki sauce

Singaporean – in chilli sauce; with yellow curry

Thai – with red curry; grilled with lemongrass and served with nam pla (fish sauce)

Continental – steamed or grilled with lemon butter sauce or garlic butter sauce

When dining at the Aplaya Restaurant & Bar, we highly recommend that you allot ample time in order for you to fully appreciate the exquisite cuisine. Housed in a large, open hut adjacent to a free-form lagoon-shaped swimming pool and bamboo groves with a splendid view of the ocean, the only distractions allowed are the aromatic smell of good food and the anticipation of gustatory delights.

Start off with an appetizer, soup or salad.

The Aplaya Platter of teriyaki chicken barbecue, pork and shrimp spring roll and seared sesame tuna served on Hotel Line Claire Rectangular Platter (menu photo) is a must.

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

Or you can savor homemade wonton noodles stuffed with pork and shrimp, seasoned with soya sauce and ginger, gently simmered in chicken broth served in Hotel Line Katsu Bowl (menu photo).

From garden fresh salad choices, we had Aplaya’s Native Salad of cucumber, bitter gourd (ampalaya), tomato and jicama topped with stir-fried marinated shrimps and dry milkfish flakes served in Hotel Line Lorraine Square Flared Bowl (menu photo).

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

For Filipino fare under the Kusina Filipina menu, we tried Hinalang na Manok, a Bohol specialty of chicken cooked in onion, ginger, peppercorn, chilli and coconut milk served in Hotel Line Shikaku Bowl. Their sautéed beef steak marinated in soya sauce and calamansi (Bistek Tagalog), served with onion rings and rice in Hotel Line Lorraine Square Flared Bowl, as well as the trademark Filipino vegetable meal Pinakbet, stewed assorted vegetables with shrimps, fermented shrimp paste, and pork belly strips also served in Hotel Line Lorraine Square Flared Bowl reminded us of home cooked meals. Aplaya’s version of Adobo Rice, fried rice of chicken adobo flakes and sauce served with generous portions of adobong Bisaya is a sure stand-out. To share portions are served in halved bamboo culms, and eaten on Hotel Line Amore Square Plate.

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

 Don’t miss out on the local favourite of sinugbang manok (grilled chicken), sinugbang nokus (grilled squid), or sinugbang tiyan sa baboy (grilled pork belly) served with onion and tomato salsa, steamed rice and native sauce.

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

From the Pasta, Rice Meals and Entrees, we sampled Bohol Bouillabaisse, a fresh seafood stew of seasonal fish, shellfish and vegetables, flavoured with a variety of local herbs and spices, served with rouille and melt in your mouth garlic croutons in Hotel Line Lorraine Square Flared Bowl. Pan seared lemon marinated chicken breast (Lemon Herb Chicken) on mashed potato and grilled garden vegetables with citrus-mustard reduction was beautifully plated on Hotel Line Amore Square Plate. Literally a mixed meal, the Korean Bibimbap had warm rice topped with sautéed ground beef and raw egg, served with julienned onion leeks, cucumber, carrot, homemade pickled radish, kimchi and bean sprouts in Hotel Line Nancy Bowl. From a choice of bolognese, marinara, pomodoro, alfredo or carbonara sauce, we had Spaghetti Marinara served on Hotel Line Tagliatelle Pasta Plate.

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

For a quick meal, an assortment of sandwiches are on hand such as the Bluewater Cheeseburger, 250 grams of US Black Angus Beef, fried onion chips and mozzarella cheese served on Hotel Line Claire Rectangular Platter (menu photo) , as are a kid’s menu which are creatively plated to catch the children’s attention.

To wind down your meal, have a serving of Aplaya’s Tiramisu, whipped cream cheese with espresso-flavored lady fingers served on Hotel Line Square Rim Plate (menu photo). Don’t leave without tasting the Boholano Ube Kinampay Dessert, a sandwich of coconut macaroons with halayang ube (purple yam), using Bohol’s special ube kinampay and cream with sago served with ube ice cream.

Amongst several choices of drinks, we couldn’t get enough of the standard Bluewater Lemongrass Cooler, a thirst-quenching cold lemonade brew with a hint of lemongrass which is also served as a welcome drink for all Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort guests.

A Culinary Feast by the Seashore

If you happen to wine and dine at the resort on a Saturday evening, you’re in for a treat since Saturday nights are Barrio Fiesta Nights at the resort. Aside from the buffet dinner fare, diners are treated to several Filipino cultural dances like the Tinikling by agile dancers, after which the guests are invited to try them out for fun. Group photos with the dancers in colourful Filipino costumes are permitted after the program’s finale.

For inquiries and reservations, visit www.bluewater.com.ph, e-mail panglao@bluewater.com.ph, or call (63 38) 416 0702/0696

***special thanks to Ms. Margie Munsayac, Adie Gallares, Jairus Laguatan and the amiable staff for excellent service

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Milea Orchard & Bee Farm Batangas

at home with the bees

Growing up in the province, I am no stranger to cattle farms, vegetable farms, poultry farms, fruit orchards, ornamental plant and tree farms, as well as fish and prawn farms but I have never been to an apiary except last weekend.

Upon learning that one of my high school batchmates from the Visayas was now operating a bee farm for the past three years in Batangas, I immediately tracked him down to schedule a visit. Milea Orchard & Bee Farm in Brgy. Balagtasin, San Jose, Batangas is a two hour drive from Manila. From the main road, you have to take a five minute moderate hike through natural terrain before reaching the gates of the one hectare property.

at home with the bees

Rico Pietro and Edilee Rosales Omoyon have lined the entrance with ornamental flowering plants that include daisies, sunflowers and vines. Endemic fruit trees such as coconuts, banana plants, aratiles (muntingia calabura, with small cherry-like fruits), as well as lanzones (lansium domesticum), pineapple plants, dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus), santol (Sandoricum koetjape), and papaya also dot the property.

A native hut made of bamboo and nipa shingles covered with a fine mesh net to keep out the bees is built on an elevated portion of the property just off the main entrance. Their caretaker resides on the second floor as Mr. and Mrs. Omoyon live in Makati with their children on weekdays.

The apiary makes use of recycled materials such discarded rubber tires that were converted into steps for the hilly portions of the property. Discarded plastic containers are converted into planters for seedlings. Vermiculture is in one section of the property utilizing rabbit excrement. Discarded ground coffee beans are collected from cafes and used as organic fertilizer in the farm.

This rainy season, a Mandala herbal garden will be built at the back portion of the property featuring oregano, marjoram, rosemary, chives, basil, and parsley.

at home with the bees

An audible hum is apparent as four species of bees are visibly buzzing around from flower to flower collecting nectar. They currently have colonies of European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Native Honey Bees (Apis cerana), Native Stingless Bees (Trigona spp.) and they help manage colonies of Asian Giant Honey Bees (Apis dorsata) that prefer to stay in the wild.

According to Rico, building a hive for our native bee colonies need not be expensive as they have used everything from coconut shells, bamboo culms, to discarded wooden guitar cases, and damaged round wooden vats which have been discarded by spas and saunas. The key is to provide roofing materials that will keep the water out of the hives during the rainy season. Now, farmers or individuals have no reason why they could not culture pollinators for their plants.

He and his wife were already producing organic personal care and cosmetic products several years ago and were sourcing for local suppliers of beeswax, a key ingredient. Due to the dismal production of local suppliers, he and his wife decided to put their Batangas property to good use by setting up their very own bee farm. Continuous research and networking with the Department of Agriculture, with other local suppliers and training abroad have made him knowledgeable on bee farming.

at home with the bees

According to him, bees are a natural part of the ecosystem whose role as pollinators help increase the number of fruits thus multiplying the number of planting materials. Ancient practices of smoking the hive to extract honey kills the bees and has caused irreparable damage to the ecosystem. The presence of bees in an area is a good sign that the property has a thriving ecosystem. “If we can train local folks on the proper way to extract honey without killing the bees, then we will have an adequate supply of honey and bee-related products the whole year round. With proper monitoring, we might even be able to export these abroad in due time.”

at home with the bees

Aside from honey and beeswax, Milea Orchard & Bee Farm also produces bee pollens which are considered highly nutritious food supplements, honey cider vinegar and bee sting, a fermented drink which has alcoholic content and a shelf life of one year with a taste better than or comparable to the Japanese sake rice wine. The farm also provides colonies and beekeeping supplies for those interested in setting up their own apiaries. They currently offer NatSoda (Natural Soda) made from fresh fruits fermented in honey mixed with Kefir Water with five variants to choose from: Pineapple, Pomelo, Lipote, Yacon, Coffee and Butterfly Pea.

at home with the bees

Milea Orchard and Bee Farm conducts beekeeping seminars. For more information, kindly check out www.mileabeefarm.com for upcoming schedule of activities.

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White water rafting

Hello Mindanao (my first visit to Southern Philippines)

I had been to several destinations in Luzon and the Visayas on leisure and business trips, but have never ventured to Mindanao. I was thus looking forward to my first visit there with the Foremost Group staff in what was to be our company outing.

Amidst monsoon rains in Metro Manila, we departed via Air Philippines at NAIA Terminal 3 early morning. The take-off was a bumpy ride because of gusty winds but we soon settled down for the hour long flight.

Upon our arrival at Cagayan De Oro (CDO) airport, we were fetched by Darryll Montesa of CDO Bugsay River Rafting (www.bugsayrafting.com) in a blue Starex aircon van and a good thing too because the weather in CDO was quite hot.

First thing to do was to check in at Nature’s Pensionne near the city park, also known as Divisoria because of the weekly Friday and Saturday night markets.

After a 30 minute rest, we were off for lunch and on to our itinerary for the day. From CDO, we took the Davao-Bukidnon Highway from the Alae Junction and proceeded 25 kms. to Brgy. Dahilayan past Camp Phillips and the pineapple fields via Mampayag. En route, we passed by vegetable farms, flower farms and pine forests. The cool mountaintop weather, frequent afternoon showers and warm sunlight were ideal for growing vegetation.

Day One

Hello Mindanao

The Zip Zone at Dahilayan Adventure Park (www.dahilayanadventurepark.com) claimed to be Asia’s longest dual cable zipline at 4,500 feet above sea level on Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. First course was 320 meters plus 150 meters in a sitting position. Except for Ms. Flor our employer, we were all nervous at our first attempt and had to overcome our fear of heights. We were allowed to hold on to the nylon straps which anchored us to the cable above, so that somehow gave us an assurance of safety. After the first lap, we started to enjoy zipping through the air but were not prepared for what was to come later.

You have to take another 4 X 4 off-road ride up the mountain to reach the second course launch pad. Second course was 840 meters long in a face down reclining position with nothing to hold on to. The guides assured us that the cable and outfit we were strapped in could carry up to two tons of weight. After we were hung on the cable by a couple of male staff, we were given a minute to adjust to the feeling of being suspended and had a full view of the mountainside and pinetree tops we would zip down to. We were instructed to spread out our arms like a bird to help slow down our descent, and then to clip them to our sides as soon as we saw the end zone approaching. Then the gates were opened and we were sent on our way with a strong push. I had the advantage of taking off my prescription glasses before my launch for fear of losing them in the fall, hence I couldn’t quite clearly see my distance from the ground. All I could feel was the wind rushing through my hair and a patch of green coming up to meet my fall. I had to scream out a couple of times to get rid of my tension and I was on my way. After what seemed like a really long time (a couple of minutes max in real time), I saw a couple of staff at the end zone and I remembered to clip my arms to my sides.

The cable brakes were controlled from their side and with the help of a large metal ladder, we were unharnessed from suspension and brought back to terra firma unharmed.

In a span of like 30 minutes, all 7 of us were back to the main area of the park to claim our certificates and select our souvenir photos for printing. We were offered to claim the 7th ride for free since one of our staff backed out at the last minute (guess who?) but since it started to drizzle, no one dared to claim it.

On our way back to CDO, we stopped over for some refreshments of fresh pineapples and Chinese noodles at Pinutos, an al fresco stopover cum dining area. There was fresh cow’s milk and chocolate milk by the litre in their menu but I was told they sold out every morning so I bought some golf balls as souvenir instead at P 25.00 apiece.

We were all exhausted after an early morning flight and a challenging zipline experience, so everyone opted to sleep early sans dinner.

Day Two

Hello Mindanao

We woke up early to leave for Balingoan Port in Misamis Oriental where we would take the ferry boat that would cross us over to Camiguin Island. There used to be a ferry ride from CDO pier to Camiguin Island which took two hours but we were informed that the owner of the ferry sold the boats and bought amphibians instead to concentrate on city tours via Cagayan River rides so we had to take the alternate route instead. The trip to Balingoan Port took an hour and a half, and we slept for the most part on the hour long ferry ride.

Upon nearing Camiguin Island’s Benoni wharf where we were to dock, we noticed several fishermen on the horizon, an islet surrounded by white beach which had a fishing village and cultured seaweed as a means of livelihood, and some white seabirds flying overhead. We couldn’t help but admire the pristine waters which were incomparable to Manila Bay’s murky waters.

Tatay Junior, a resident of Camiguin who was our tour guide and multicab driver was ready to meet us as soon as we got off the boat.

We rode around the coastal road and checked in at the Bahay-Bakasyunan sa Camiguin (www.bahaybakasyunan.com) in Mambajao. The resort was all native inspired with wood, bamboo, coconut husks and nipa shingles incorporated in their interior design, but with an international look. The cottages were located amidst spacious green lawns and landscaped gardens. I am sure Europeans would find the resort most appealing, with a pool at the far end beside the ocean. They have a gift shop, a gym, a game room, a massage room, a jacuzzi, function rooms and the Oceanside Bar & Grill Restaurant which offered an assortment of seafood and drinks in their menu.

Hello Mindanao

First itinerary on the island was a cool dip in the Sto. Nino Cold Springs. A natural pool on the mountaintop, entrance fee was most affordable at only P 20.00 per head. There were souvenir shops outside selling an assortment of novelty items from shirts and swimsuits, to native accessories that included among other things necklaces, earrings, bracelets and decors made of seashells, animal (monkey, bird, fish) bones, claws and teeth, and some dried fish in packs. Home-cooked meals could also be ordered at the nearby houses for lunch. We had fresh fish and native chicken cooked in several viands, and had durian for dessert. Durian which looked like a small brown version of the jackfruit, gives off a pungent smell when ripe but tastes great when eaten fresh.

The pool area had huts and cottages that were rented out to visitors. Ideal time to bathe in the cold springs are morning to 4 in the afternoon, and it is interesting to note that the pool which has a natural floor of rocks and sand has some interesting fish species swimming around.

We left the cold springs to transfer to Ardent Hibok-Hibok Hot Spring Resort late in the afternoon and stopped by the church ruins in Bonbon, Catarman and the sunken cemetery along the way.

The church ruins were what remained of the first settlement in Camiguin when the volcano erupted in the late 1800s. Near the monastery ruins, a century tree stands as a silent witness to the passing of time.

The sunken cemetery came about when the eruption caused the shifting of plates and the cemetery area went below sea level. A large cross marker marks the spot where the cemetery now lies underwater. The area has been declared a marine reserve where several species of marine species abound. We crossed shore to have our souvenir photos taken on the marker and the tour guides/boatmen who, according to them were required to take workshops in basic photography, suggested several poses which had the effect of stepping on the mountain or holding the marker in the palm of your hand depending on the angle your photo was taken. According to Jimmy who went swimming to retrieve his snorkel, there were several large colourful fish around.

Entrance fee to the hot spring was again most affordable at P 35.00 per head. The hot spring had therapeutic effects due to the sulphur content (clears skin infection) since it was on Mt. Hibok-Hibok, a dormant volcano. There were now several native cottages to stay in should visitors decide to stay overnight. The only downside here were the mosquitoes that feasted on our heads when we were taking a dip in the natural pool.

Henna tattoos were offered at P 50.00 for the simplest designs in the souvenir shops outside the entrance to the hot spring.

We went back to our resort at around 7 in the evening and after a delicious dinner at the Oceanside Bar & Grill Restaurant, we stayed on for a couple of hours in the swimming pool for night swimming.

Day Three

Hello Mindanao

We woke up early on Saturday morning to make the most of our half day schedule on White Island (sandbar actually), a 10 minute boat ride from shore.

Hello Mindanao

Crystal blue waters, sandy swimming area to one side, and a marine reserve on the other side makes for an ideal waterhole. Large, colourful beach umbrellas and snorkels are available for rent from walking entrepreneurs (locals), and sea urchins are sold by the piece as local delicacy on the sandbar. On the background is the verdant Camiguin Island, specifically Mt. Hibok-Hibok. We took our time soaking in the sun and taking several dozen jump shots! Thank God for digital cameras or we would have emptied our ATMs for photo development expenses.

After checking out of the resort at noontime, we went to J & A Fish Pen near Benoni Wharf for lunch before taking the ferry back to CDO at 3 in the afternoon.

Hello Mindanao

The fish pen in fact had several fish pens from where you could order your choice of seafood for home-cooked meals. There were large crabs, several varieties of fish, and a lobster the day we were there. A group of tourists had the 3.5 kilo lobster cooked. After sneaking into the kitchen where the meal was being prepared for some perfunctory shots, I learned it cost P 1,800.00 per kilo which meant the group had to pay around P 7,000.00 for the lobster alone!

Back in CDO, we had dinner at the Divisoria night market where the streets were closed off from traffic. Several tents were set up and grilled food the main highlight. There were also several stalls offering bags, shoes, clothes and other items as souvenirs.

Day Four

We left Nature’s Pensionne at 8 in the morning on Sunday for a jeepney ride up the border between Bukidnon and CDO to reach the starting point for white water rafting.

Hello Mindanao

Darryll, our guide, informed us that our group was lucky to be starting off from the advanced course area which meant we would be enjoying several more rapids as opposed to the basic course which generally meant small rapids and plenty of still water.

After donning our gear, and a short briefing on how to paddle and what to do if a crew fell overboard, all 9 of us (7 staff and two guides that included Darryll) boarded our raft and pushed off for a 3 hour ride down Cagayan River, and an hour stop over for lunch.

First half was a bit of an adjustment to the rough waves and a bit of history along the way. We were dowsed in the cool brown waters of the river which was a pleasant relief against the scorching heat of the sun. Several tributaries and water sources were pointed out by our guides along the way.

After a sumptuous meal of grilled fish, shrimps, chicken and pork, and some fresh pineapple for dessert, we pushed on with the other half of the ride down Cagayan River. When we came to some still waters, we jumped overboard to take a swim.

Further down, our guides pointed out Snake Wall which was so named because the mountain wall was pockmarked by holes and sparse vegetation which was home to several snakes. True enough, there were several shed snakeskin caught up in some of the bushes and the photographer Mark Aldea from CDO Bugsay River Rafting was able to photograph a yellow and black snake high up in some branches overhanging the wall!

We finished up around 1 in the afternoon and after a quick shower at the end camp, we went back to the city for some last minute shopping and an early dinner at Bigby’s!

All in all, we were able to make the most of our four days in Mindanao. I sure am looking forward to a return visit to Camiguin Island next year. And a second try at the zipline if I can convince some other first timers to try it!

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