Wake Up, Philippines!

The other attractions of Siquijor

Posted in Tourism, Travel by Erineus on March 6, 2009

In this age of technological wonders, Internet, iPods, and what have you, when one talks of the mystical island of Siquijor located in Central Visayas and easily accessible from  major  cities in the region, the talk will invariably shift to the island’s famed mambabarangs and mangkukulams, or those who practice witchcraft and black magic.

The fact is, even before I could even set foot  for the first time on the island, I was already warned  about strangers suddenly tapping me at the back for a greeting or about the danger of accepting drinking water from a glass, The advice was when someone taps me, I should return the tap immediately so a cast spell does not have any effect. For the water, that I should stick to drinking from sealed mineral water containers.

Another person warned me about going into the interior of the island and if ever I do, there are certain days and times of  the day that it is better to stay indoors because of lurking evil spirit.

Another interesting  story I gathered was about the mambabarang, Aling Busya, who was supposed to have treated Imelda Marcos way back when fish-like scales  started growing on her legs, supposedly, when the San Juanico Bridge was built  connecting Leyte and Samar. There were water spirits who were angered and vented their ire on Imelda.

The same Aling Busya was killed, again allegedly by her own relatives about five years  ago when  she started going out of control and cast spells on anyone who crossed her path, even if they were her own relatives. One person I talked to actually had the chance to meet her a long time ago and admitted getting scared by her stories.

Then there are those who also use their powers for good as Siquijor is also known for its bulo-bulo healing method where the healers use a small pipe-like  stem to blow on the afflicted part of a person seeking treatment and lo and behold, all sorts of objects appear as if by magic and the person is healed.

I was able to talk to somebody who actually underwent this treatment. And to his surprise, what came out were river sand and pebbles. And when he was asked if he had been near a river recently, he remembered that indeed, he went to the riverside. He also saw with his own eyes another person getting healed and a stone bigger than a golf ball  came out of nowhere.

These healers gather during Black Saturday in secluded caves in the hinterlands in San Antonio. And after collecting medicinal herbs and roots, they do rituals called tang-alap that are supposed to make them powerful healing materials. Healers not just come from Siquijor but from all over the Visayas and even Mindanao.

Of course, there are also local folks who do not believe anymore in the mambabarangs, particularly in the coastal towns. It seems the new generation of people do not want to accept anymore powers that  used to be transferred from  one generation to the other.

Mayor Gold Calibo from Siquijor’s commercial capital of Larena is one of those who personally does not believe in witchcraft. Instead, he points out to the numerous natural attractions of the island for visitors to visit. The island does get its share of local and foreign tourists.

For one, the place has no insurgency problem. It has one of the lowest if not the lowest crime rate in the Philippines and jails are seldom occupied. There are no squatters and local people go out of their way to make visitors welcome.

‘‘Actually, that is what we want to focus on. We cannot avoid all those tales of mambabarangs and mangkukulams. But Siquijor boasts of  natural attractions like white sand beaches with beautiful rock formations and very clear water. We have caves and waterfalls, and historical places, particularly churches. And during the month of May, we get a lot of visitors who celebrate with us our fiestas,” said Mayor Calibo.

And he helped me get around the whole island literally, using the circumferential coastal highway and stopping by to take shots of some attractions he was talking of except for waterfalls and caves where one has to go to the interior to enjoy them, and maybe meet also the mambabarangs.

I visited the century-old San Isidro Labrador Convent, a historical landmark and believed to be one of the oldest and biggest convents in the country. It is located in Lazi fronting another historical place, the San Isidro Labrador church constructed in 1884 and up to the present still maintains the same old  wooden flooring. One can also see towering acacia trees near the convent, attractions by themselves.

There are other old churches and an old bell tower in the province but then what I wanted to see were the island’s famed beaches. And I was not disappointed at all—the guide from the provincial tourism office brought me to a secluded public beach in Kasuguan in Maria.

From the highway, we turned into a side road flanked by tall trees and ended up seemingly on a dead-end spot. But there was a small hidden cemented stairway that brings one down to the white sand beach, a favorite week-end swimming spot for locals and visitors even if there were no facilities except for a few picnic tables.

But the next place we went to was even better, Salagdoong Beach, still in the town of Maria. Here, there were  overnight lodging places, cottages and the provincial government-run Agripino Hotel, the only hotel in the province and which rooms offer a beautiful view of the surrounding area as it is located on high ground but still accessible to the beach.

Some smaller rock formations even offer shade for swimmers while a big one was converted into a viewing deck. There were several cottages and a restaurant in the area and the place, when we visited, had a lot of people frolicking on the water.

According to our guide, all their beaches are white-sand beaches and practically most of the major coastal towns have their own resorts, some owned by foreigners who have settled down for good on the island.

What we missed because of the shortness of time was the island’s waterfalls like the Cambugahay Waterfalls in interior Lazi, going through either a forest or taking a river boat to reach the place, the caves of Cantabon where one treks inside the cave for over an hour to reach the other end while dodging stalactites and stalagmites inside this live cave. Adjacent area also has the Talawog and Boljo caves and while in the area, one can also go to the Bandilaan Nature Park located at the center of the island.

One can go all the way to the highest area of the park, 557 feet above sea level and get a view of the entire island and the waters surrounding Siquijor. The park also features natural springs, a butterfly sanctuary, a shrine, and an outdoor way of the Cross.

For divers, Siquijor also offers  several marine sanctuary teeming with underwater sea life and live corals. The Tulapos Marine park is the biggest among these marine shelter and protected areas.

You see, Siquijor indeed casts its own brand of enchanting spells with its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, nature parks, caves, and marine parks, and who can refuse the island’s allure after experiencing these places.

This summer, consider Siquijor among the local destinations one can visit and enjoy. I did and I have not even taken a dip in their beaches.

By Lito Cinco

Kasalang Filipino joins San Pablo Coco Festival

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Tourism, Wedding by Erineus on February 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — Laguna’s best wedding suppliers showcased their products and services during the Kasalang San Pablo wedding fair and exhibit, the first leg of Kasalang Filipino 2009, a 12-city wedding fair road show held last Jan. 12 – 14, 2009 at the Pamana Hall in San Pablo City, Laguna.

City Administrator and Coco Festival 2009 over-all chairman Loreto Ambem Amante, Laguna Provincial Planning Coordinator Valentin Guidote, Mutya ng San Pablo 2009 Glennifer Perido, Lakan ng San Pablo 2009 Joseph Brul, celebrity stylist James Cooper, and Kasal.com head Mathel Ong were present during the ribbon cutting ceremony to formally declare the opening of the three-day wedding fair and exhibit.

During the afternoon of the first day, 11 local make-up artists showcased their skills in Ever Bilena’s Gandang Pinay Bridal Make-up competition. Each contestant was given an hour to make up their model brides. Their works were judged by Ever Bilena (EB) marketing manager Onin Mas, EB Brand Manager Mozhgan Amaranto, EB make-up artist Ana Abainza, and James Cooper.

The work of Ferdie Santos on model-bride Diane Joyce Ramirez won the grand prize. Make-up done by M.C. Rasaoa, on model-bride Mica Villamondo, and Eys Vergara, on Alyanna Marie Amad, were awarded as first and second runner-up, respectively. Santos received a trophy, one-year Gold Listing in Kasal.com’s Wedding Resource, P20,000 worth of cosmetics from Ever Bilena, and will be featured in the company’s various ad campaigns.

On the third day, during the Coconut Cookfest, 100 Barangay Nutrition Schools of San Pablo City demonstrated their culinary expertise in using coconut as ingredient in three categories: main course, appetizer, and dessert. Del Remedio District won Best Appetizer and Best in Costume. Ambray District cooked the Best Main Course and Sto. Angle District made the Best Dessert.

The wedding fair was concluded with a fashion show in front of the old City Hall building, showcasing the works of San Pablo’s leading bridal couturiers.

“Through this, (the Coco Festival and Kasalang San Pablo) and with the support of the media, we hope to inform everyone what San Pablo has to offer,” Amante said.

Kasalang San Pablo wedding fair and exhibit is one of the official activities of San Pablo Coco Festival 2009. It started in 1995 as a way of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and to showcase the locally made coconut-based handicrafts, decors, and food products like copra, coco lumber, coco coir, doormats, linens, accessories, virgin coconut oil, bottled macapuno, bottled nata de coco (processed ‘cream of coconut’), and buko (coconut) pie.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Alamat ng maindayog na musika at natatanging kultura ng San Pablo, bayan ng tangi at unang ermitanyo” (The Legend of the Rhythmic Music and Unique Culture of San Pablo: town of the first and only Hermit).

The Coco Festival coincides with the Feast day of the patron saint of the province, Saint Paul, the First Hermit.

Updated February 01, 2009 07:22 AM

Honesty Café: Only in Batanes

Posted in Cafe, DOT, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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More than a cup of honesty: Honesty Café in Ivana, Batanes is a little store that provides refreshments to townfolk and travelers in the area. Anybody who enters the café can get food and drinks and drop whatever payment they feel like in a basket.

I went to Batanes for the first time after getting an invitation from a friend who was going there with her son. I decided that it was a good opportunity for me to go, and take my son along. Whatever I had heard previously about Batanes did not do justice to its beauty, as well as the goodness of its people, which I experienced during my trip. People there are content and do not live their lives preoccupied with thoughts of natural calamities — the events that, sadly, make Batanes familiar to us. Their homes are made of limestone which is naturally porous and resistant to earthquakes and typhoons. More importantly, every house is an architectural sight that makes one feel how much love and patience was put into the construction. I was amazed to hear about the community’s housing cooperatives. The neighbors help one another build homes for their families.

Batanes may be isolated, but it is no doubt a successful community where interdependence is the norm. The pervading culture dictates that it is a privilege to help and be helped, and almost an insult to receive payment.

While biking in one town called Ivana on the main island of Batan, I got fascinated with a relatively popular yet inconspicuous fixture — The Honesty Café. This little store was started by Aling Elena, a retired teacher who decided to provide refreshments to townfolk and travelers in the area. Anybody who enters the cafe can get food and drinks and drop whatever payment they feel like in a basket. While the items are tagged, the store is not manned. Some people drop their payment, others don’t. But it’s all okay with Aling Elena; her ultimate profit is the chance to awaken her customers’ consciousness to honesty and responsibility and to teach them to live these lessons in the other areas of their lives.

Together with her husband Jose, she toils the fields and takes pride in being a farmer. In her daily labor of love she prays, “God, please help me with my crops so I may share them with others.” As Elena and Jose talk about their 50th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day next year, it’s as though their celebration is already happening, every day. Their life together reinforces simple values: what you plant, you eat; what you sow, you reap; everything is abundant; everybody sees beauty.

I was overwhelmed by the simple and profound lessons of life that are the day-today experiences of the people of Batanes. Life is about thanksgiving, with Sundays being strictly for church service. To many of them, sharing their lives with one another and sincerely helping is the only way to prosper.

As I looked out at the fields, beaches and mountains of Batanes, talked to Aling Elena, Mang Jose and their community, I became more convinced that in simplicity lies majesty. Nature, when respected and nurtured, can provide us with everything that we need to live abundantly.

This is my experience of Batanes and its people. Life that is lived fully will lead us to knowing who we are and becoming what we are made to be. Giving starts with one person. It starts with one home. One woman prepares food with love. One man takes pride in his labor. One traveler pays the right amount. One child learns to share. A neighbor gives unconditional assistance. Everybody does the same. And we get blessed with a community called Batan in an island simply known as Batanes.

View previous articles from this author.

By Rose Anne Belmonte
Updated January 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Iriga City celebrates Tinagba Festival

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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The festival is an ancient Bicol first harvest offering that features a caravan of gaily-decorated bull carts/motorized floats

MANILA, Philippines –  Iriga City in Bicol will come alive as the city celebrates its annual Tinagba Festival which started Feb. 5 and ends tomorrow, Feb. 11. Tinagba Festival is an ancient Bicol first harvest offering that features a caravan of gaily-decorated bull carts/motorized floats. It also features revelers in mardi gras and native costumes who dance and parade around the city.

Iriga Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen and the Irigueños are preparing for this big celebration. Highlight of this week-long festival is a spectacular street parade competition tomorrow which coincides with the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The festival will transform Iriga City Park into a Science and Technology Park. Various activities are also lined up such as acrobatics, animalandia, quiz show, film showing, technodance expo, wall climbing and science exhibit.

Iriga City is a fast growing urban center in the Bicol Peninsula which offers breathtaking natural wonders, a safe community and the warm company of kind, creative people. It is known as the City of Crystal Clear Springs with more than 30 natural springs spread everywhere in this booming city. It is also famous for its most prominent natural landmark, the majestic Mt. Iriga that offers a captivating view of the Bicol River basin area.

The city’s other major activities this year include the annual Miss Iriga, Miss Rinconada and Miss Tourism Pageant and the Charter Foundation Anniversary.

Mayor Alfelor-Gazmen and the Irigueños invite everyone to visit Iriga City to celebrate the festivities and experience the hospitality, honesty, and warmth that Irigueños are known for.

Updated February 10, 2009 12:00 AM

Dinagyang: A dance offering

Posted in Celebrations, Feast/Solemnities, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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Tribo Molave exhibits their heartfelt devotion to Señor Sto. Niño as they perform before a crowd of thousands.

For Ilonggos participating in the annual Dinagyang Festival, it’s not just another day of street dancing. The long-held tradition is an opportunity to show their devotion.

The economic pinch nearly prevented many tribes from taking part in the festivities this year. But they could not just abandon what their fathers and grandfathers had been doing for decades.

This year, Smart Communications Inc. helped three tribes to continue the tradition. The leading wireless services company sponsored the Atub-Atub, Molave, and Pana-ad, the leading groups in last year’s festival.

Smart also sponsored the Kasadyahan Festival and the staging of concerts like the Kapamilya Caravan at the Freedom Grandstand and Rock ‘Til u Drop at the Boardwalk Leisure Area.

“It’s hard to finance a group of street dancers for Dinagyang, especially in these tough times,” says Jaimer Canlas, operation manager of Tribo Molave. 

Finding the time to rehearse alone can be quite challenging, as each member has to eke out a living. Most members are out-of-school youth, tricycle drivers, pier porters, and blue-collar workers.

They persevere, however, because being in the tribe is not only an outlet for creative expression but also an opportunity to spend time in prayer and devotion.

This year, their dance is also a form of thanksgiving, as the province of Iloilo has recovered from the devastation caused by typhoon “Frank” in July last year. The Ilonggos are smiling once again, the streets full of gaiety and hope.

This year’s performances reflect the Filipino’s indomitable spirit, says Joaquin Santiago Jr., operation manager of Tribo Atub-Atub. Their theme is “helping each other after the disaster of the storm.” The idea is to show how Ilonggos move on from kalisod (sadness) to kalipay (happiness).

Tribo Molave worked around the theme of harvest. “After the storm, the land yields the harvest for the people; in our performance’s case, the ati,” Canlas says.

Consistent winners, the three tribes nonetheless remain true to the real meaning of their dance offering.

“This year, we focused on our devotion, not on the competition, so win or lose, we are happy just expressing our gratitude to Señor Sto. Niño,” Santiago says. Tribo Atub-Atub took home a special award, Best in Discipline.

And it’s no competition, really. The tribe members are friends, with the same purpose — to keep their heritage and culture alive. It is this that makes their street dancing truly meaningful.

Updated February 08, 2009 12:00 AM

Cagayan North eyed as Asia’s windsurfing capital

Posted in DOT, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Tourism officials and adventure aficionados have discovered an idyllic windsurfing destination in the northeastern part of Luzon, which is fast emerging as a water sports destination.

A joint team from the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the private sector recently explored Anguib beach, its white beach and crystal clear waters in Sta. Ana town, Cagayan province, and found the area perfect for windsurfing, which is fast gaining popularity in the country, thanks to foreign and local enthusiasts.

“Hands down Anguib beach is a lot better than Bulabog Beach on Boracay island,” said Manny Cabili, president of the Philippine Windsurfing/Kitesurfing Association (PWA).

Cabili described Anguib beach as “Boracay 30 years ago, with clear blue waters and white sand.” Anguib also has better, wider and bigger reef protected by a lagoon.

Bulabog Beach, stretching along the east coast side of Boracay has become too crowded for surfers, and is full of sea urchins. Construction activities have also spoiled the natural beauty of the beach.

Anguib, which is surrounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean and on the north by the Babuyan Channel, is touted as the next best site for wind and kite surfing in Asia, because it has consistent wind (amihan or northeast winds from November to March). It also has flat water that gives surfers better environment to enjoy.

It shall be noted that wind, flat water and seamanship are the three key factors that surfers have to look for in a good place for the water sports.

The northern coastal town of Sta. Ana, which is a part of the 54,000-hectare Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, is also a popular fishing mecca, because of the abundance of huge game fish in its waters.

Tourism Undersecretary Oscar Palabyab and Department of Tourism regional director Blessida Diwa led the soft launching of the windsurfing exhibition on Jan. 23 and 24.

“The windsurfing activity will definitely build capacity of tourism in the region,” said Diwa.

The windsurfing event, co-organized by officials of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), drew participation from both local and international windsurfers.

“This is a new window of opportunity to boost sports tourism in the country,” said Palabyab. “This is a good way of increasing our capacity in frontier and adventure tourism.”

Palabyab said promoting windsurfing in Cagayan North is aligned with DOT’s campaign to promote the countryside that offers alternative sites and activities, in addition to the usual tourism offerings.

Sta. Ana town in Cagayan North is 642 kilometers or 12 hours away by car from Manila. From the coastal village of San Vicente, one has to ride a boat to get to Anguib beach and several other popular eco-tourism destinations such as Palaui Island and Gotan beach.

Cagayan Valley ranks as the seventh top regional destination for tourists in the country. In 2008, it generated P1.6 billion in tourist receipts from the arrivals of 670,000 visitors, including 32,000 foreign tourists.

About half of the tourists in the region go to Cagayan province, which is one of the largest in the country, while the rest visit Batanes, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Quirino.

Sta. Ana has also been attracting international visitors because of its distinction as Asia’s first and only interactive gaming jurisdiction, set in motion by CEZA when it transformed Port Irene into a Special Economic Zone and Freeport.

Link: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=439302&publicationSubCategoryId=206
Updated February 11, 2009 12:00 AM

Bataan’s blessings

Posted in DOT, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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Flying flippers: Dolphins at Ocean Adventure

You live a billion moments. How many do you really remember?

My recent trip to Bataan is one of the many beautiful moments that will forever be etched in my mind. It is because my rediscovery of the province, where ecotourism and industrial developments symbiotically flourish side by side, paved the way for my family and our dear friends to enjoy an unforgettable one-day sojourn.

The company I was with on this adventure couldn’t have been more ideal — what with the presence of our dynamic entrepreneurial guru Andy Ferreria, property development czar Danny Antonio, architect and environmental planner Nestor David, business solution provider Kenny Quintal, and my dear friend Edwin Santos, a physical therapist visiting from Texas. My gregarious siblings Michelle Soliven, Mark Dayrit and Yvonne and her hubby Pael Romualdez joined in this adventure as well. Our Ate Jaqui, who was with us in spirit, had to sit out this trip because she was celebrating her wedding anniversary with loving husband Boom Boncan.

The road to Bataan is already a treat, a destination of sorts in itself. Like a painter’s dream, the SCTEX highway is a sight to behold. Along the expansive road, motorists are escorted by scenes that seem to jut out from the artworks of Amorsolo, Ansel Adams, Monet, Gaugin and Cezanne. This well-planned and impeccable thoroughfare is a showcase of man’s ingenuity that complements nature’s bounty. The enthralling landscapes present priceless unobstructed views without defacement by billboards. To borrow the words of our newfound friend, Nestor David, “When I witness such artistry and human creativity, I am proud to be a human being.”

Driving to Bataan to explore its beauty and bounty, we couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. Our late dad Vincent “Ting” Dayrit was the first to impress upon us siblings the endless possibilities of this haven. My brother Mark accompanied Dad on countless treks as they would don mountain boots in the fashion of Indiana Jones in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Dad fell in love with Bataan and weaved tales of inspiration and had a cathartic vision 15 years ago that has become a reality today. He may have moved on, but his dreams will never die.

Today, with the many fabulous developments and tourist sites like Sinagtala Farm Resort and Retreat Village, Bataan is definitely a paradise luring tourists and investors from here and abroad. With the dawning of each new millennium, Bataan heralds the future as the “New Frontier.” With this in mind, we all felt like proud trekkers on the trail to new conquests and adventures. We explored the lush Mt. Natib in the town of Orani, reminiscent of the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music. I could almost hear the hills come alive with peals of laughter as we descended to the valley below by a very clean stream where a sumptuous lunch of sugpo, grilled fish, kalderetang kambing, fresh buco and rice cooked in bamboo and the sweetest mangoes with suman awaited us.

While savoring the feast, we felt the cold breeze after a rather laborious but nonetheless rejuvenating walk. We all the more enjoyed the warm camaraderie and infectious laughter of our travel companions. Truly, this is what I call a slice of heaven on earth.

Worthy to note, there are equally attractive destinations like Anvaya Cove and Ocean Adventure in Subic, which is adjacent to Bataan. Aside from trekking, one can also go biking in Bataan. For beginners, the Alas-Asin offers a short 10-kilometer loop of single tracks that will allow one to experience the demands of the course, learn shifting techniques and enjoy excellent scenery. For the intermediate to advanced biker, try the Bataan Killer Loop, a 30-kilometer trail laid down over old WWII guerrilla roads and tracks that circle around Mt. Samat. Other links to this trail include the Dunsulan Falls, Bataan Bonanza Trails and Twin Rivers Trails. For advanced bikers, there is Lakbay 44. It is an epic 44-kilometer distance from the Zero (0) Km of the famed World War II Death March Marker in Mariveles to the 0 Km marker in Bagac. This ride is a complete package ideal for the whole day and some night ride or camping. Hills, valleys, rock gardens, old guerrilla roads, fire roads, jungle tracks, two river crossings and whatever other imaginable path condition a mountain biker might wish for — it’s truly a biker’s haven! “At a certain stage in our lives, we tend to romanticize the countryside simply because these places of rural character give the urbanites the opportunity to reminisce and experience again the provincial ways of their childhood that they truly miss,” Nestor enthused as we sipped the best mountain coffee I ever had in the well-appointed Sinagtala Farm Resort and Retreat Village, a 50-hectare farm and resort development at the slopes of Mt Natib. The resort, just 20 to 25 minutes away from the Dinalupihan exit of SCTEX, is surrounded by 10,000 fully grown coffee trees.

Ten farm cottages will be built with commanding views of the Bataan National Park at the west side and Manila Bay on the east side. Each cottage sits on a 1,000-square-meter farm lot. Nestor, a master planner from DA Architecture Corp., shared that a free-flowing stream provides the water supply for irrigation and domestic use. The excess water flows through a swimming pool enclosed with natural rock boulders. A mountain resort with cottages on stilts in between the tree canopies and a retreat village will form part of the development. There’s no doubt Nestor’s vision will be accomplished within the year. After all, he is the brains behind the planning and architectural design of Lagen Island Resort, also in El Nido, cited by Conde Nast last year as one of the “Best Green Resorts.”

He even shared with us his ingenious “invention,” which utilizes organic components like corn stalk, fibers and gemilina wood shavings mixed with cement. Mixed together, it results in a material that is aesthetically beautiful yet maintains the durability of cement. On March 19, 2009, Nestor’s new composite cement bonded board will be introduced at the SMX, Mall of Asia. It utilizes corn stalks and bamboo shavings. Worldwide, agricultural wastes are usually burned in open fields. This practice releases carcinogenic toxic fumes like furan and dioxin. The corn composite board not only reduces agricultural waste burning, it will also make housing more affordable, particularly to rural farmers.

As night dropped its cloak, we further explored the romantic peninsula of Bataan as we dropped by the famous Dayrit’s Kitchen & Grill located at Capitol Drive in the capital city of Bataan province, Balanga City. The restaurant is owned by Alex Dayrit, our cousin from Pampanga. The specialties here come from Kapampangan recipes perfected by our cousin over the years. Notable dishes were the charbroiled specialties such as steaks, baby back ribs and seafood. The fresh seafood served here such as mussels, clams, prawns, crabs, bangus, tilapia and pampano come from the many coastal towns of Bataan. Another bestseller at cousin Alex’s restaurant is the crispy pata and the novel pancit Bataan.

After witnessing such exhilarating progress and development in Bataan, we basked in newfound inspiration and God-sent moments. In retrospect, the last time I trekked was with my dear sister Michelle in Dhurlikel as we viewed the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. We all agreed that whether one explores the Juizhaighou Valley, Swiss Alps, Canadian Rockies or the ski slopes of Aspen, what’s most important is that we make each moment count by living life to the fullest — wisely, purposely and passionately.

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For more information about the Sinagtala Farm and Resort, please call (02)454-7592 or (02)441-0856. Dayrit’s Kitchen & Grill has branches in Capitol Drive, Balanga City (047-2373604) and Rizal Avenue, Olongapo City (047-2339833).For biking aficionados, please contact Bataan Trailriders and Adventurers Network (c/o Eboy) at 0920-9623923.)

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E-mail the author at miladay.star@gmail.com.

By Christine S. Dayrit

Updated February 15, 2009 12:00 AM

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