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Experiencing Malate, Manila’s Bohemian District

Malate lives up to its image as Manila’s bohemian district. Or so I thought. One late afternoon, I ventured out to stroll on its two-lane alleys. Life seems the same as any fast-paced streets of the metro, but wait til darkness comes and excitement would come out from its daytime slumber. 
I checked in at Malate Pensionne, a romantic accommodation that offers guests that old-world feel. I got the Eco-Air Room, which is airconditioned but doesn’t have its own comfort room and shower so I have to take the communal amenities. Rooms do not also have wifi connectivity, though.  Below are photos of the hotel and of the room that I got. 




A short walk away is Café Adriatico where a friend and I had coffee. The tsokolate,pan de saland white cheese, and chef’s salad really satiate the palate. The cozy, masculine interior offers a very inviting ambiance—especially for intimate moments.









It is my habit to attend the anticipated mass every Saturday so I decided to go to nearby Malate Church. But havin…
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The River Was Calling—Experience Palina Greenbelt Ecopark

“The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it's going to go and where you'll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don't let anyone deter you from that.” Profound thoughts from Eartha Kitt and her words were stamped well in my mind—reminding me of the gentle rush of the river that leads to the open sea.

Mabaay Island, the Hidden Gem of Ivisan, Capiz

“Come join us swim!” Mataji invited me with that excited look in her face, as if it’s my first time to swim. In fact, it’s been over a year I haven’t plunged myself in the water.

“No, I’m good,” I replied. I contented myself in taking pictures of the clear water, the fine, white sand, and the azure sky. Mabaay, you’re such a beauty!
The small island of Mabaay, hidden behind two islets that lie just a swim away (or even a short walk when it is low tide), is in the municipality of Ivisan. From Roxas City, it is a 15 minute jeepney ride to the town proper. It is not a boring ride, though. The short trip beholds a view of cerulean mountains from afar. The statue of Jesus at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus lingers on, assuring any traveler of divine guidance as one searches for a little piece of paradise here on earth.




Tell the driver to drop you off at the jeepney terminal heading to Basiao. The first trip usually starts at 8 am. Take some patience with you if you plan to ride o…

Notes from Naga City, the Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines

Naga City was not declared the Pilgrim City of the Philippines for nothing. It is my first time here in Naga, and for that matter, in the Bicolandia, and I have felt the deep religiosity of the Bicolanos.
The plane which I took from Manila landed at the domestic airport in Pili, the capital of Camarines Sur. It rests near the foot of the imposing Mount Isarog, a natural greeting to any guest arriving in this part of the country.
The trip went well and despite the last minute reservation I made with Naga Land Hotel, I was pretty surprised I was offered a nice accommodation and free shuttle from the Airport! The front desk provided me with the only room available, a Deluxe suite, which can accommodate three people. It is spacious and clean. The hotel staff were very friendly. I made special requests many times over but they never hesitate to provide me with what I needed. The bed was comfortable and they offer three pillows, more than the usual most hotels offer. Breakfast is availabl…

Book Review—Alice Steinbach’s Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman

The concept of slow travel had not yet been probably coined when Alice Steinbach decided to spend a year in Europe, but here’s a book that epitomizes the beauty of lived experiences, of escaping your comfort zones and discovering that inside you lies a person that’s waiting to be freed. Alice Steinbach definitely mastered that craft as she spent almost a year in four different countries to encounter brand new experiences that enabled her to emerge with new perspectives.
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Women has become a classic travel memoir that aspiring travel writers should emulate. Here, Pulitzer winning Steinbach chronicles her European journey after taking a nine-month off from her job as a journalist at The Baltimore Sun.
Alice was a self-professed independent woman and I think she was adamant of living up to that image. “For years I’d made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow,” she wrote.But does independence mean only being physically fre…

Reaching Out in Ganzon, Jamindan, Capiz

Last February I decided to go to a remote school on the mountains of Jamindan. The purpose was to give books to Manuel Ganzon Advincula Elementary School. It’s totally a different world. Children were shy yet unaffected by what we city dwellers see as bareness in their existence. For them, nature makes them abundant and so I think. I believe there is an eagerness in them to learn but for some reasons, like the lack of learning materials, the need to help their parents at work and their isolation, education becomes just a secondary or even a tertiary priority.

Notes on Holy Week the Capiznon Way

Holy Week manifests the fervent faith of Roman Catholic Filipinos on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is heavily embedded in the history, culture, and way of life of the locals, one that is difficult to part with. It is the lasting imprint of over 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. Capiznons to be specific, take Holy Week to heart seriously.  Aside from Christmas and All Saints’ Day, Holy Week sees family reunite for after its sobriety follows the celebration in Easter.



Palm Sunday

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday or Mierkules Badlis, where the faithful receives anointment of ash on the forehead. The ash comes from burnt palm and coconut leaves blessed by the priest from the previous year’s Palm Sunday or Lukay-Lukay. Palm Sunday commemorates the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. The Capiznons would celebrate Lukay-Lukay by the distribution of coconut (as substitute to palm) leaves. However, I observe that the event has become commercialized endeavor already. Outside t…