2011 Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo

January 26, 2011

I went to Iloilo for the Dinagyang festival a week after I experienced my first Sinulog festival in Cebu, to complete a memorable back-to-back festival incursion. Both festivals has many similarities starting from its devotion to the Sto. Nino. The two festivals also features elegant and colorful street parades. Both revelries also attract a huge crowd that eventually stays up and parties all night long like jubilant citizens celebrating the end of a war.

The Best festivals in the Philippines

2011 Sinulog Festival | Cebu

January 25, 2011

The Sinulog Festival is held every third Sunday of January each year in Cebu City. I haven’t been to any of the previous Sinulog except this year wherein it was my first time to experience such a colorful spectacle, rain or shine it didn’t diminished the zest of the Cebuanos to partake in such a grandeur event as witnessed also by countless visitors from the Philippines and other countries.

Sinulog Festival Guide

Guimbal Church in Iloilo

January 24, 2011

I arrived at the town of Guimbal in Iloilo and as I got off the jeepney and walked to the plaza I saw a tiny structure ahead and upon walking closely I recognized it as being the Parish of Santo Nicholas de Tolentino or Guimbal Church. It was one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, built in 1774 by Father Campos, a Spanish Priest. The church was constructed using yellow sand stones called "igang" and is smaller compared to other Spanish Colonial Churches that I've visited in the past.

Guimbal Church in Iloilo

St. Anne Parish Church in Molo, Iloilo

January 24, 2011

I landed in Iloilo at about 5:45 AM, straight from working 1 and a half shift to cover for my being out and away on a Friday. Sleep hasn't occurred to me yet for more than 24 hours. Still, I was feeling energized as if I've chugged down a liter of Red Bull energy drink. I took a shuttle ride from the airport which took me down to SM City in Iloilo.

Old Churches in the Philippines

Cebu Foodtrip: Larsian, Siomai sa Tisa at Lechon sa Carcar

January 24, 2011

I rarely blog about the foods I gorge on during my travels, but this time I made an effort in writing these fine places in Cebu where one can enjoy a laid back environment and one finds additional joy in eating not only these sumptuous but otherwise can cause high blood-so please eat in moderation, foods but also find a suitable place to mix both hanging out with friends and pleasing one's appetite to the fullest.


24 Hour Road-Party People

January 23, 2011
When I go on trips to far away places I make sure to make the most of it. You won't find me sleeping 8 hours and beyond nor wasting away precious time in a shopping mall. I love to explore and cover as much ground as I could. During my trips, I've met other gregarious people who shares the same traveling passion as myself and they too, have this sense of treating time on the road as precious. Any second or minute should not be wasted doing and seeing nothing. Hence, I call them the "24 Hour Road-Party People".

I show up at work with my backpack ready to head out on the road
An example of a trip I did recently wherein I almost spent an entire 24 hours wide awake and seeing new things was the Iloilo trip I did last January. It was my first "Dinagyang" Festival experience and as I was caught between a day job and my yearnings for getting on the road - most of the times I have to take a trip straight from my job and the result was often a sleep deprived person showing up at the airport.

Before the flight to Iloilo - I spent the night awake with my workmates drinking to half death
But, I'm not complaining. So, from work where I spent the previous 8 hours sitting in front of the computer and mopping floors to amuse myself - I went with my co-workers to a place in Makati called "Central" - its where "yuppies" and feeling "yuppies" and "anti-yuppies" drink themselves to almost death. It was a colleague's birthday so we drank some hard alcohol like "bad trip" over a spirited conversation about our job, of what else and other things.

Molo Church
After that about past midnight I went home to pack some stuff for my trip which includes of course a couple of underwear, three shirts, two short pants plus my camera and stuffing it all inside my small backpack.

I went home to get pack additional underwear, this one a "Playboy" brand brief lol
I didn't slept and just waited for 2:00 AM then I went straight to the airport for my 4:00 AM flight to Iloilo. I arrived at Iloilo at around 5:00 AM since I will meet my couchsurfing host Joanne after lunch I decided to make the most of my trip by exploring parts of Iloilo which consisted of doing a "Visita Iglesia" on some iconic Spanish Colonial Churches.

outside the Sto Nino Church
From sunrise to past lunchtime I was able to visit St. Anne Parish Church in Molo, Sto Nino Church, Tigbauan Church, Guimbal Church, Miag-ao Church, San Joaquin Cemetery and Church. I had my lunch near the beach at the scenic sleepy town of San Joaquin before going back to the city proper.

Tigbauan Church
Guimbal Church
Miag-ao Church
Near the entrance of San Joaquin Cemetery
San Joaquin Church 
I had my lunch here under that tree
After lunch I met with my couchsurfing host Joanne and proceeded to her friend's place to hang out where we feasted on liempo, pinakbet and a few sticks of marijuana. It was so good as my sleep deprived self got a bit high and felt energized in preparation for the next day's grand Dinagyang festivities. I also met other couchsurfing guests of Joanne like Alana and Yan who were an American and a German couple traveling the world and are making a pit stop here in the Philippines.

There's the culmination of a normal whirlwind 24 hour on the road. I still wished I'd stuffed more into that, well from now on I still want to pursue doing more and exploring further every 24 hours I spend on the road. Sitting back at the office in a cubicle, you'd realize what an opportunity it is to just go out there free as a bird and just gather miles off the road. I'm looking forward again to that wonderful opportunity.


This is my fourth entry to the "Pinoy Travel Blogger's Blog Carnival" with the theme "Best One Day Itineraries" posted on Travel Photographer Karlo De Leon's 4AM Chronicles Blog.

Dive into Me Yeah - Moalboal

January 18, 2011

 Dave Matthews Band's "Crash into Me" played out perfectly in my head when I was staring at the sea when we arrived in Moalboal. I have never tried scuba diving after making plans half a dozen times in the past. Maybe it's the cost - or my little fear of deep sea water but I've reckoned myself to eliminate that fear by hoping one day to try scuba diving. When that day comes - I'll make sure to visit Panagsama beach in Moalboal again.

Erica Poyauan

San Juan Nepomuceno Church Ruins in Moalboal

January 18, 2011

I love visiting ruins of buildings built many years ago. Ever since I saw photographs of ancient civilization ruins in Jordan, Egypt, Peru and Israel to name a few, I made it a point that I should go out and see some old ruins here in the Philippines.

San Juan Nepomuceno Church in Moalboal

Basilica de San Martin de Tours in Taal | Batangas

January 07, 2011

The Basilica de San Martin de Tours or simply known as Taal Basilica is considered to be the biggest Catholic church in Asia. I was doubting that fact outside even though the facade of the basilica was imposing with its solid structure and high arching pillars but when I stepped inside the church, that's where the hugeness of the place made its presence felt.

Taal Heritage Town, Batangas

January 04, 2011

I never knew beforehand that there is another heritage village located within my backyard. When I say backyard, this refers to an area within a '3 hour bus ride' radius of where I live - which is in Meycauyan, Bulacan. Alright it's give or take 3-4 hours from my place to Taal, Batangas. Well, I'm also unaware of the fact that aside from Taal Volcano, there's this town called 'Taal' that is located in Batangas. Last Sunday, I finally visited the place - not the currently sleeping volcano but the town itself.

Along with other travel bloggers I tagged along for a daytrip to the town of Taal, where we spent the great deal of morning and the whole of afternoon walking around the heritage village which consists of numerous Spanish colonial houses located along separate rows of streets. In contrast with Vigan's Heritage Village, in Taal you can actually step inside some of the old houses which has since been turned into a museum and were declared as historical landmarks and are now being looked after by caretakers.

This rustic town takes you back in time by giving you a peek inside some of the century old houses in the area. There's quite a few open for visitors like the Don Leon Apacible house, Doña Gliceria Marella Villavicencio Residence, the Agoncillo Mansion, Doña Marcela Marino Agoncillo historical landmark house, Casa Punzalan,  Shrine of the Virgin Caysasay and of course the Taal Basilica or otherwise known as Basilica de San Martin.

The interiors of these old houses were already redecorated, repainted and reworked to improve its conditions which has taken a beating in its more than a hundred years of existence. However, amidst all these improvements done in its restoration - one can still appreciate the unique appeal of its colonial architecture, the brick walls and floors, colorful tiles and antique furniture such as chandeliers, lamps, bedpost, accessories and many more.

I never got tired of pointing my eyes at each corner of the houses we visited as images of my grandparents house where transported back inside my mind as if it just happened yesterday. That house I had in my memory bank that dates back to my childhood in the 1980's, was constructed in late 1950's and it stood along a great part of our family tree's evolution until one by one it saw my mother and her siblings have their own respective families. Soon, everybody moved out then my grandfather died - a few years later my grandmother passed away and that house was torn down in the late 1990's and it was bittersweet for us to have gone through that. To think, that was just a mere 40 plus year old house. What more of these houses in the town of Taal and other heritage towns all over the Philippines.

Which has colonial houses still standing - through the efforts of heritage conservation advocates, that are more than a hundred years old. I felt the more inclined, we ought to be in fighting off commercialization of these heritage districts so as to not to rob future generations of an opportunity to peek into our glorious past.

Not all in Taal are made up of old colonial houses, there are now a number of modern houses built along these historical landmarks and I could imagine how it would be much better if we have a law, just like what countries in Europe have that prohibits anyone from constructing buildings, houses and other establishments that does not match architecturally with existing houses, especially those that dates many years back.

A uniformity of sorts when it comes to letting the past absorb the present even if its only through this infrastructures being put into place left and right by economic development. I'm pretty sure there's a lot of ways to balance development with nurturing and caring for our heritage sites all over the country.

The houses we visited were once owned by famous patriots who were known in social circle back in the day and were ardent supporters of the Philippine Revolution. Doña Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio of whom one of the houses turned historical landmark was named after - was referred to as the "Godmother of the Philippine Revolutionary Forces" by General Emilio Aguinaldo in June 12, 1898. Another Spanish colonial homeowner Felipe Agoncillo, was another popular hero of the revolution and was among the representatives of the Philippines at the 1898 Treaty of Paris.

When you think about historic towns, none can get more historic than Taal along with similar heritage villages found around the Philippines. I was glad that, after a long time of having only the Taal Volcano stands out as a purple thumb on my mind when one mentions the place "Taal" - today, I'll be willing to point out to anyone that one must not only visit the scenic Taal volcano and its surrounding lake, but thread their feet at the historic Taal town as well.

I'm glad I came on board on this day trip around my backyard and discovered for myself another place I should highlight on my map for future travels. Hopefully when I go back to this town, I'd be tagging along other friends of mine so they too, will get a bit of heritage conservation edge for added awareness of its utmost importance in our existence as a country.

From its wooden, stone structures, colorful ceilings and hand painted walls that represents its old and colorful past, walking around the town of Taal gives a different kind of fervor and delight - It must be that cold breeze of air that comes from the open space of the lake or the infectious harmless laughter of the towns' folk that makes you feel at home even though one is hours away from their accustomed place.

Traveling really gives that sense of homecoming even when you're just about to visit a new place. The town of Taal gives that kind of feeling. There I was, a part of generations that came after the older generations who once upon a time frolicked around the town plaza, attended mass at the Taal Basilica, fought alongside Philippine revolutionaries in search for independence from the Spanish.

Time might have created a long gap between then and now, but through this remnants of the old, from its old Spanish colonial churches, its antiquities on display like an old cooking utensil, a hot water pot, an aging piano, the grand staircase, old picture frames, 100 year old photographs and paintings all of it conspires to remind us, living in the present day that history is ongoing and rapidly changing as minute buries the previous minutes to oblivion, but it wont become 'history' if one forgets about it.

And only the stupid brushes aside history as if it never happened. Shout-out to new friends who I went with to the town of Taal last Sunday, Joel, Berniemack, AJ and Spencer. It was nice spending a day outside coming off from a long holiday break wherein all I did was eat, sleep and surf the internet at home. I got the chance to test my new telepoto lens as well. However, I regret not bringing my kit lens which has a wider angle starting from 18mm, because shooting from 18mm and below would have gotten me a better view of the interior of the old houses and the Basilica of Taal.

Well, there's always the next time to go back to Taal heritage town.

But, I did got some close shots of people living in the town, like the middle aged couple peeking out of their window, the hairy shitzu dog that barks softly on passing people like us, the young girl also by another window stealing a glimpse of the world outside and looking excited at her whole life ahead and the cute lady at the municipal hall near the statue of Rizal wondering why a mustachioed Rasheed Wallace look-alike is taking photographs at her direction.


Our Lady of Caysasay Taal | Batangas

January 04, 2011

Even if you're fond of visiting old churches in the Philippines and you wander in Taal town, there's a chance that you might overlook this smaller church which was a mere walking distance from the bigger Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours or the Basilica of Taal. However, since I went there with people who have prior knowledge of the place and its history, I was able to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay.

Jomie Naynes