Wake Up, Philippines!

Guiding Light

Posted in Luzon, Places, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009
By Text and Photos by RANEIL ANTONIO IBAY
July 4, 2009, 4:05pm
Faro de Cabo Engaño or Cape Engaño lighthouse in Sta. Ana, Cagayan
Faro de Cabo Engaño or Cape Engaño lighthouse in Sta. Ana, Cagayan

Sta. Ana, Cagayan is known as “The Gateway to the Pacific”  and is the last province on the tip of Luzon in Region 2. And with a 45-minute boat ride from Sta. Ana lays the wave and wind battered island of Palaui.

Palaui is home to 21 species of fishes, 90 species of migratory birds, 105 species of rattan and timber, and Faro de Cabo Engaño or Cape Engaño, one of 27 major lighthouses in the Philippines. Completed in December 31, 1892 by the Spaniards, it is the first lighthouse you will see when entering Philippine waters and is the last when heading out into the Pacific. Nestled on top of a scenic hill, its octagonal, cylindrical stone tower standing guard, it once played a crucial role in the trade between Spain and the Philippines, guiding ships toward the port of Appari.

Now, with its roof gone, probably torn off by forces of nature, this U-shaped building stands as a decaying reminder of the past. You can’t even go up the rust corroded metal stairs going to the top of the lighthouse. It is now closed, a sign or vandalism on the wall by the Philippine Coast Guard warns you not to go up because the flooring is rotted.

With nowhere to go, I peer out the crumbling windows and see the legendary islands of Dos Hermanas. Folklore has it that these are two sisters waiting for their husbands who went out to fish and never returned.

Peering out on the east side, I see a weather-beaten ridge. Waves relentlessly pound the rocky shores of the island and I am reminded of the car-sized waves we endured going to this beautiful island.

Our trip started on an early morning with a calm sea, we almost didn’t feel the waves. This lulls you into a false sense of serenity, of being one with the sea and all that romantic stuff. Then came a little sea spray here and there. This gets more frequent until we come to across car-sized waves that literally rocked our world. Shaken and stirred like a Martini, we at last get a glimpse of Faro de Cabo Engaño Lighthouse and docked at Palaui’s cove. I swear I could have kissed the shore, profusely thanking God that we arrived safely. This must have been how the Spanish sailors felt back then. The lighthouse must have really looked like a guiding light from heaven to those sailors.

I now look around the lighthouse and I see that vandals like Glenn, Arnel, Bullet, Aurelio, Ceasar and Noel were also once looking out this same window. Besides the forces of nature, this historical landmark has to contend with human nature.

We go down the hill and I count 240 concrete steps from the lighthouse. I could be wrong with my count, as I was hungry as the carabaos grazing on the lower side of the hill. We head back to our boat and have our breakfast.

Going back to Sta. Ana took 30 minutes because the water was calmer. We were again sprayed by seawater but this was because of the strong winds coming from the North East. Our boatman even had to make a second attempt to land on the shore, the strong wind and powerful waves pushed our boat off course.

And speaking of going back, will a 15-hour bus ride or an hour on a plane from Manila to Tugegarao plus a 3-hour van ride to Sta. Ana, Cagayan and almost an hour of being tossed like a salad on a small outrigger boat prevent me from going back and see Palaui? With the spectacular scenery and the Faro de Cabo Engaño Lighthouse to guide me back, I most definitely will.


A new high in Tagaytay

Posted in Luzon, Places, Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009
A one-stop weekend getaway
July 4, 2009, 4:27pm

Who doesn’t love Tagaytay? Its cool weather, stunning view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, the long stretch of fruit stalls along the road, and it’s just a short drive from Manila.

Another great thing to look forward to in Tagaytay is staying in its long list of hotel resorts, bed and breakfast establishments and country clubs. The latest addition to the city’s string of hotels is Summit Ridge Hotel, a mountain resort getaway nestled on the highest point of the city that promises the best view of Tagaytay.

Owned and operated by Robinsons Land Corporation, Summit Ridge Tagaytay promises to boost leisure experience to greater heights. The fresh air with the occasional morning mist and mid morning fog compliments the hotel’s first class accommodations and amenities – making it an ideal place for celebrations or to simply have a much-needed respite from the hurly-burly of city life.

“Only in Summit Ridge will guests experience the best view of Taal while enjoying the luxurious feel of a world-class hotel. This is also the only hotel resort property in Tagaytay that offers a whole range of training, seminar, banquet and event facilities complemented with a state of the art audio, video and free Wi-Fi facilities,” said Cora Ang Ley, Summit Ridge Hotel general manager.

Communing with nature

For those who love the outdoors, the hotel allows guests to have an opportunity to bask in the sights, sounds and smell of nature, an experience totally lacking in the city life

“All our rooms — from the ballrooms and function rooms, to standard rooms and apartelles — open up to a balcony because we want our guests to get most out of Tagaytay’s irresistible weather. We want to give that non-claustrophobic feel and a homey ambiance at the same time,” said Ang Ley.

Designed by master architect and planner Felino A. Palafox Jr., the hotel blends harmoniously with its surrounding and makes the most of Tagaytay’s natural attractions and scenery. Even the hotel interiors give out an environmental feel with its “Asia Tropical ” concept. The ground floor and hallways are non-air-conditioned so that the whole hotel is engulfed with Tagaytay’s morning mist and evening fog.

Amenities and facilities

Aside from room accommodations, the hotel also boasts of health and recreational facilities such as an infinity pool overlooking the ridge, gym, and indoor badminton and basketball courts. Summit Ridge also offers multi-purpose convention facilities for any kind of business meetings, conventions and events. From its ballrooms, function and training rooms to the state-of-the-art Summit Learning Center, a separate structure from the hotel with a reception lobby, water feature and direct access to the hotel, Summit Ridge promises to provide multiple venue options that are tailor-made to meet the needs of organizers and attendees.

For dining and entertainment, there’s Truffles Bar & Café, a cozy al fresco  restaurant overlooking the lawn and pool. It has a 404 sq.m. area where guests can hold receptions and parties.

However, according to Frederick Go, Robinsons Land president and COO, Summit Ridge Hotel’s main attraction is still the breathtaking view of Tagaytay.

“First of all, we have the best view in all of Tagaytay, I don’t think there’s any hotel here that can say they have a better view than we do. During the day you can see so clearly across the ridge and you can see, down to the boats, is Taal Lake. Secondly, I think we have the best climate because we are in the highest and coldest point of the city that’s why even in the afternoon there’s fog all over,” said Go.

According to Go, they intend to have tie-ups with lake tour operators and golf courses with the hotel so their  guests can avail of tour packages aside from their in line facilities.

“It’s part of our goal to make people appreciate Tagaytay as a serious vacation destination. The problem in Tagaytay now is that most people usually come here in the morning and then drive back at night or, at the very least, stay overnight. So what we want is to create enough activities for them to stay two to three nights or even an entire week. So we really need to make all this options for them to play golf, to go boating, go hiking,” Go added.

Summit Ridge Tagaytay is on Km. 58, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City. For inquiries and reservations visit www.summitridgehotel.com


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Leisure Lifestyle at the Pico De Loro Beach Club

Posted in Luzon, Places, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009

July 4, 2009, 4:39pm

The Beach Club’s pool has breathtaking views extending to the sea. (TERRENCE UY)
The Beach Club’s pool has breathtaking views extending to the sea. (TERRENCE UY)

It used to be that families have to schedule in advance vacations before setting off on a quest for a grand adventure. However, with out-of-town residences and club membership in the uptrend, weekends have come to mean heading straight to those second homes.

Among weekend getaways, a preferred destination has been the accessible South—of which Hamilo Coast, a 5,800-hectare property in Nasugbu, Batangas, is becoming well-known as a premier leisure destination for weekenders and out-of-towners.

Hamilo Coast is a sprawling property master planned to be developed in phases and envisioned by SM Land to provide a variety of leisure lifestyle experiences.

The first seaside community to rise at Hamilo Coast is Pico de Loro Cove–a 37.5 hectare development consisting of splendid mountain and sea views, ten residential condominium clusters overlooking a four hectare man-made saltwater lagoon, a hotel, and the Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club.

Pico de Loro’s low impact condominiums and members-only beach and country club perfectly suits the market of more active families seeking more than the usual trip to the beach or resort in the nearby South.

Pico de Loro Cove is not a resort, but a weekend place one can call his own. The beach experience in this development—though arguably one of the best and most enjoyable in the Batangas area—is not its sole attraction.

The inimitable proposition of Pico de Loro Cove is its convenient leisure lifestyle that affords city dwellers with a place of immediate escape.

For city dwellers who also enjoy the casual yet exclusive and refined recreational lifestyle of country clubs, the Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club will be an exciting change.

The leisure beach community will provide the creature comforts, service and exclusivity similar to that of a country club, but amidst a breathtaking natural setting to heighten the genuine sense of escape from the metropolis.

The Beach Club started operations last February and sets the tone for recreational living at the cove through its amenities, facilities, and nature-based activities that read like a wish list of a true nature’s child. Its tropical contemporary architecture is a delightful reminder to guests that their hurries and worries are now a world away.

The interiors were done by well-known interior designer Manny Samson; memorable accent pieces by local artists such as Cebu’s pride Kenneth Cobonpue welcome guests. Upon entry to the club, its Lobby Lounge extends to a pool with views extending into the sea below.

Adult and kiddie locker rooms are accessible from the pool area for the convenience of members.

To get there: Via a 90-minute ferry ride from MOA Complex by 2010; via a twenty-minute helicopter flight; via a one-and-a-half hour drive thru Ternate to Cavite; or via less than three hours of travel through the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway.

To know more about Hamilo Coast and Pico de Loro Cove, call 8580333 or 8191673. Visit www.hamilocoast.com.


New tourism packages for CALABARZON

Posted in Luzon, Places, Tradition, Travel by Erineus on July 16, 2009

July 11, 2009, 3:14pm

Batangas Taal Park
Batangas Taal Park

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is set to launch new adventure and wellness packages for CALABARZON, the region composed of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, at the Clamshell at Anda and Sta. Lucia streets, Intramuros: History Town Philippines, on July 13, 2009.

Dubbed as “Excite! Delight! @ the Sights CALABARZON,” the event opens to the public on July 14 – 25, 2009, where top travel stakeholders will offer their latest tourism packages to foreign and local consumers.

“With support from the local government in CALABARZON, and business movers such as travel agencies, hotels, resorts, tour operators, and travel boutiques, we have come up with some of the most unique and exciting packages. This regional showcase will likewise introduce the newly-opened first-class hotels and resorts in the area,” said Ace Durano, Secretary of Tourism.
These packages, according to Durano, include wellness and spa sessions, culinary trips, hot spring baths, beach hopping, dive safaris, golfing, pilgrimages, and heritage exploration.

“Aside from CALABARZON’s highlights which are its beaches, volcanic springs, and historical landmarks, we have also put together other alternative activities that cater to a diverse market of foreign and local tourists,” added Eduardo Jarque, Jr., Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions.

“We invite everyone not to miss this rare opportunity.  It’s a chance for them to check a wide range of value for money packages in one venue,” shared DOT Regional Director Louella Jurilla.

The CALABARZON regional showcase opens to the public on July 14 – 25, 2009, with the following schedule: Mondays, 2:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Tuesdays –Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Fridays – Sundays, 10:00 a.m. – 12 m.n.


‘Taltallak’ becomes Cordillera town icon

Posted in Luzon, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on May 18, 2009

By EV Espiritu
Inquirer Northern Luzon
First Posted 21:27:00 05/17/2009

BALBALAN, Kalinga—This interior Cordillera town is a three-hour drive from Tabuk City, but people who drive through its quaint mountains and teeming forest cover end up skirting wooden carts that dart off its hills carrying many of its residents.

They call these carts “taltallak,” which have their own steering and brake mechanisms that allow them to accelerate down the sloping hills of this town.

During summer, some of these wooden cars are driven by children.

According to Regino Wacas, municipal tourism officer, taltallak are as common to the Kalinga towns of Pasil, Balbalan, Lubuagan, Tinglayan, and Pinukpuk, as the hand tractors or “kuliglig” are in the Ilocos and Cagayan regions.

There are 50 taltallak in Balbalan that residents use mainly to haul firewood. Until now, firewood is more commonly used for cooking than liquefied petroleum gas.

These contraptions are fixed together only by nails and rubber straps.

Residents first hammered together their taltallak in 1956. The term is a childish transliteration of trucks.

The taltallak’s inventor, Daniel Lopez, 63, said it was shaped after the only post-war vehicle in his village in the 1950s.

Lopez said he had pursued a childhood obsession for the “Weapon,” a heavy-duty World War II truck that was used in his village to transport ammunition and medical and food supplies.

At 10, he fashioned miniature toys looking like the Weapon. He nailed together his first taltallak, based on his toys, so he could take back firewood to his parents.http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20090517-205570/Taltallak-becomes-Cordillera-town-icon

Explore, enjoy and rediscover Taal at Discovery Country Suites

Posted in Luzon, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on April 26, 2009

Updated November 16, 2008 12:00 AM

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From the comfort of seven luxuriously appointed master suites, the beauty and wonder of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake are waiting to be explored, enjoyed and rediscovered. Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay offers the exhilarating wonders of the world’s smallest volcano with the “Taal Trek”— an adventure that is part of its Rediscover Tagaytay Packages.

From the charming bed and breakfast country house, participants will be transported to the Taal Yacht Club to take a 15-minute outrigger boat ride across placid Taal Lake to the town of Talisay at the foot of Taal Volcano. A 30-minute guided horseback trip takes adventurers through winding trails and some of the most scenic paths to the rim of Taal Volcano’s crater. Perched on the mouth of the volcano, visitors will have rare glimpses of spectacular volcanic views and experience the natural beauty of this unique geologic wonder.

The breathtaking half-day Taal Volcano Trek includes accommodations at a Deluxe Room at Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay for P9,999++. This can be upgraded to a Premier Room for P10,999 ++, or the Oxford Suite for P12,999 ++.

At Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay, guests can take time out in the tastefully furnished suites, enjoy the crisp country air, and savor epicurean delights especially prepared by chef David Pardo de Ayala at Restaurant Verbena.

Discovery Suites, Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay and Discovery Shores Boracay are developed and owned by the Discovery Leisure Company, Inc. The Discovery Collection of resorts and hotels is managed by HSAI Raintree Hospitality Management.

For reservations, call (02) 683-8383, (046) 413-4567, or e-mail dcsrsvn@discovery.com.ph.


Taal: Where history and shopping come together

Posted in Luzon, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on April 26, 2009

Updated November 02, 2008 12:00 AM

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La Isla Pilipinas Tours’ distinctively innovative, easy-paced day tour of Taal, Batangas, a two-hour drive south of Metro Manila, beckons one to discover its many delightful surprises.

Privately owned 19th century Spanish colonial and early 20th century ancestral homes, exclusively made available only to participants of the tour, present intimate glimpses of the country’s unique past.

The 19th century bahay na bato (stone house) has large wooden doors and a main staircase (escalera principal) which leads into the caida (landing), so called because the women, who lifted their long skirts as they climbed the steps, let these skirts fall (caida) once they reached the top of the stairs.

Large double doors lead to the sala (living room) at the front of the house, while smaller ones on either side of the stairwell open to the comedor (dining room) and to a small bedroom.

The second floor windows use the unique rejas na buntis (iron grills shaped like a pregnant woman’s belly) which, throughout the archipelago, are usually found only on the ground floor windows fronting the street.

Upper windows overlooking the central courtyard have French doors that open into balconies with squash-shaped balusters indigenous to southern Batangas, and a floor of Portuguese azulejo (polished stone) tiles hand-painted with mauve and blue floral designs. These capture the opulence of the Victorian period when the houses were originally built.

The early 20th century ancestral houses also display the vibrancy of the era with their chandeliers of the Edwardian period, the only ones in the country, a tremor (full length dresser) made by the famous Chinese furniture maker of the rich, Ah Tay, the Flemish-styled sala, dining sets by Ortoll and Zaragosa, circa 1930s, and antique santos (images of saints) made of ivory with 22k gold-leaf.

Taal also prides itself with having the largest Catholic basilica in Asia, a reflection of its pre-eminent stature in Philippine economic, political and social history, as an important urban center, next only to Manila, during Spanish times.

Shopping is such a delight at the public market, first constructed during the American period, circa 1925. Since Taal is known for hand-embroidered items, Burdang Taal, one can’t help taking home some of them.

There are also a lot of Taaleño delicacies to take home — suman malagkit (glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves), empanadang gulay, longganisa and tapang Taal, sinaing na tulingan (small-sized tuna caught in the waters of Balayan Bay that are simmered with pork belly and camias), cassava and rice cakes, panutsa (caramelized peanuts), and cacao tableas.

An interesting stop in the tour is a visit to where the country’s most famous weapon, the balisong, is made.

La Isla Pilipinas’ Heritage and Shopping tour will run on Nov. 29 and Dec. 13, with a 10 percent “early bird” discount.

For more details, call 436-6581, 426-0093 or 0915-9269176.