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Philippines

"My Family's 2010 Vacation in Mindanao"

Of Baryokes, Jessa Zaragoza, River Dredging...etc.. Part 2

19 °C

I immediately made a walk around the neighborhood before sunset. Since our home is just a few steps away from the river (Calinawan River), I noticed that there were large boats and backhoes mounted on separate boats. A DPWH billboard installed on the riverbank educated me on what is the use of the heavy equipments on the river: the Calinawan River is currently being dredged. Heavy siltation brought about by the erosion of soil from the mountains into the river for years had deposited on the riverbed which caused the river to be shallow and prone to flooding our small town. The backhoes are being used to dig the soil/sand on the silted river bed and are then loaded into the large boats. Of course, any engineering student would agree that it is a welcome project if only to save our town from flooding. However, the dredging work with its humming sound coming from the boat carrying the backhoes continues till the evening, I was telling my wife and my daughter to brace for possibly a sleepless night ahead.

I totally agree that the dredging work is a welcome activity on what used to be a clean river where I first learned how to swim dog style. Aside from the direct beneficial effect that it will bring specifically the prevention of flooding, the project has brought in addition money to the economy of our 5th class municipality. Some 40 staff and crew of the project added the local demand for food commodities (including the cheap tamban fish) but most importantly, same crew become instant avid clients of the baryokes (a word coined to mean the Philippine-made electronic machine similar to its 1960's counterpart – the jukebox where an aspiring singer drops a five peso coin, push the button to choose the number of his favorite song and presto, the audio of the selected song containing the minus one being played by a full band comes out in blaring volume with the lyrics of the song displayed on the tv screen with sexy bikini-wearing foreign models as background.)

The owners of the baryokes related to me though that most of crew of the dredging project are singing on credit to be paid on paydays! I counted four baryokes which are surrounding our home. One owner promised to me that the blaring volume will be reduced to tolerable level after 9:00 pm in compliance to a municipal ordinance providing such. However, ever as the blaring volume of the baryokes is being reduced, the humming sound of the dredging continues till about 11:00 pm.! Tsk, tsk, tsk!

My body system and that of my wife and daughter had easily adjusted the audio challenge from the baryokes and the dredging such that the next evening, we used to the audios as our lullaby to dose us to sleep!

I have a separate compliant though. I have no problem listening to Jessa Zaragoza's 2004 hit song “Parang Di Ko Yata Kaya” even if it could be considered as old time favorite. However, if it is being replayed and replayed for 18 times straight in a row it is a different story! I was tempted to discuss the matter with our young Lady Mayor Sadeka Garcia-Tomaneng if the local council can pass a local ordinance limiting the number of replays of the same song not only Jessa's but all the songs in the book of entry of the baryoke to at most only 3 times! This is my personal tolerance level!

My routine while on vacation in our ancestral homewas to wake up at 5:00 am to check on the faucets since the local water system opens only the water for 30 minutes from 5:00 to 5:30 am. After filling all the water containers, I walk along the rive side going to the delta and finally into the beach fronting the open sea (Mindanao Sea). Since my youngest daughter's boyfriend gifted me with a Panasonic SRD-S26 handy cam, during this trip, I made my first video shots. I have videos during the wedding of Kanna and Awing, the birthday of Auntie Nita but my videos during these early morning walks with such subjects as the river, the dredging activities and the arrival of the fishermen from an evening fishing expedition are the most notable ones. I will usually buy freshly caught fishes (tamban was only P20.00 a kilo!) and cook it for breakfast. We then just sit down the rest of the morning and sleep in the afternoon until Jessa's song will wake us up to signal our visit to the grave of my parents.

I was surprised to receive a text message from the Talent Coordinator of Green Rose while I was busy doing the above laid back routine that supposedly I had a taping last December 20! I texted back that I was already on vacation in Mindanao!

To break the monotony of the fresh fish as viand, I brought my wife and daughter to the next town - Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte. We usually do some marketing of meat and vegetables in the local mercado or eat in the town's most popular restaurant Yang Chai!

(to be continued...)

Posted by E. Sandalo 01:37 Archived in Philippines Tagged river baryokes calinawan dredging panasonic srd s-26 Comments (0)

"My Family's 2010 Vacation in Mindanao, Philippines"

The Homecoming - Part 1

20 °C

One thing that I have been missing so much since I started to get regular tv assignments is the luxury of spending my vacation in my hometown. In 2009, we still had tapings for “May Bukas Pa” days before and after christmas. As a certified Homing Bird, I promised myself that after that show, I will spend 2010 christmas in my hometown in Tubay, Agusan del Norte!

God in all His wisdom, guided me as I started to plan for that long overdue family vacation. After “May Bukas Pa”, the rest of my 2010 was blessed with more tv projects. I was tapped to be in the cast of “Lumang Piso Para Sa Puso” of the “My Precious Hearts Romances Series” as Mayor Gasti. That episode with Kristine Hermosa and Oyo Sotto was taped in March and April. Then I got small but memorable bit roles for Agua Bendita and Momay. Since May, I was in the cast of Rosalka as the lawyer of Cecille Dimaano (played by Mickey Ferriols). While tapings for “Rosalka” continued, sometime in June, a staff of ABS-CBN informed that I will be in the cast “Green Rose”. I also did an indie film titled “Will of the Heart” where I played a rich haciendero and grand father of Blue de Deon who is paired with Roxanne Barcelo in the lead. Despite of these, I was still determined to go home on christmas.

As early as June, I was in Mc Donald (the branch fronting the Asian Institute of Management), while I was waiting for my class in the Trust Operations Course that I made up my mind to start on-line booking for our 2010 trip to Mindanao. A few days later, I got a call from my sister Dr. Myrna S. Motoomull that her eldest daughter Kanna was getting married with Winston G. Idulsa on 18 December in Cagayan de Oro City. I told myself, this will mark as the reckoning date of our vacation. I planned to get a ticket for a Manila to Cagayan de Oro flight on 18 December. For our return trip,it will be on 28 December. This decision was arrived at after considering that I have tapings for Green Rose, my family always make it a point to spend the New Year's eve in our home in Bulacan, and most importantly it will be my sister Myrna's birthday on December 27.

I had already received flight confirmation from PAL on those dates when the course timetable for my class in Trust Operations was announced: we will have an exam on 18th December, the date of our flight to Cagayan de Oro! Since the flight to Cagayan de Oro was at 6:00 am and the exam was at 9:00 am, I immediately got a new booking for an afternoon flight. However, Kanna's wedding was at 3:00 pm, so told myself chances are I will be able at least be able to catch the reception! But, as God would intervened, I already had a new ticket for an afternoon flight when it was announced in class that the exam was moved to 11 December and there will be no more class on the 18th!

I informed our Green Rose Associate Producer Joy Mangilit-Tarce and our Production Assistant - Queenie Quiro our of my vacation schedules. In fact, in the same manner, I informed them of my three-day trip Ho-Chi Minh City in Vietnam with my wife last November. Luckily, there was no taping for me while we were in Vietnam.

The SSS Christmas party was held on the 17th of December, so I made it a point to go home early despite of the party since we have to wake up early to catch the 6:00 am flight to Cagayan de Oro. I was able to request my eldest daughter – Kira to take us to the airport. Joining me for the flight was my wife and our youngest daughter Purita Angela.

Since for the past several years the cheap fare promos of Cebu Pacific had magnetized me to travel with them, the PAL flight we took was a relief from the usual very ordinary Cebu Pacific flights. For one, the cabin crew was so classy: their features (face value, height, physique) and enhanced with their classic uniform was a breed several levels higher than their short pants-wearing Cebu Pacific counterparts. Another thing, while the Cebu Pacific girls became notorious with their dance rendition of the flight safety features, the PAL crew remained seated as the overhead tv monitors showed a video presentation of the flight safety features. Finally, while the Cebu Pacific girls are known for the skills in selling junk foods produced by a subsidiary of Cebu Pacific – the Universal Robina Corporation, the PAL crew serves free coffee/water with cookies and peanuts!

My sister Myrna gave us a free hotel accommodation in Country Village Hotel which was also the venue for the wedding reception. The wedding was in a way a reunion with my siblings- our eldest sister Ely, another sister Atty. Dorothy S. Cajayon and my brother Riki also attended the wedding. There was no time to take a beauty rest since the whole morning was bonding moments with my siblings and my nieces and nephews. We had an assigned service van to shuttle us from the hotel to the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral in Cagayan de Oro City which was the venue of Kanna's marriage to Awing which was officiated by Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J.; D.D.

The line up of the wedding sponsors was headed by no less than Gingo-og City Mayor Ruth L Guingona and my auntie – Trinidad Ong Oh Go. My auntie Trining was with my uncle Gonzalo Go who was recently elected as Barangay Chairman in their barangay in Cagayan de Oro Cty.

During the reception, my sister Dorothy and myself acted as the emcees. The reception lasted till almost midnight. There were pure fun and merriment typical of a filipino wedding!

Early the following morning, we joined my auntie Trining in their Hi-Ace Van to Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte. We have to catch the lunch banquet for the birthday celebration of another auntie Concepcion (Nita) Ong Oh Chu Te. We arrived at the beach house of my cousin Ruby and Louie Libarios in Tolosa, Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte. Again, it was a family reunion and more bonding time spiced with anecdotes, story-telling and children talent presentation. My cousin Grace Chu Te who created my website was home on vacation from Australia.

At 4:00 pm, my uncle Boy Ong Oh offered his Toyota Fortuner to take us to our home in Tubay, Agusan del Norte. Finally, an hour later, we we settled in my own home, sweet home!

(to be continued in four installments)

Posted by E. Sandalo 01:31 Archived in Philippines Tagged del mindanao norte tubay agusan Comments (0)

"Pilgrims of Our Lady of Piat"

religious tourism

overcast 25 °C

Me-an of Polaris Rest House told us that the travel time from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte to Tuguegarao City in Cagayan is four hours. We calculated and managed our time on the road. After checking out, we went to the Wind Mills of Bangui and had lunch in the nearby KangKang Café before we finally traveled to Tuguegarao at 2:30 p.m. We arrived Tuguegarao at 7:30 p.m.

My wife is from Tuguegarao that was why we included a stop over in this City not only to visit my wife’s relatives and friends and to visit the grave of my father-in-law but to pay homage and pray at the Basilica Minore de la Nuestra Sonora del Piat in Piat, Cagayan, the shrine of the miraculous image of the our Lady of Piat.

Church records reveal that the image of the Our Lady of Piat arrived from Macau in the year 1620.Since that time, she had moved around Luzon and according to the account of numerous devout faithful countless miracles and prayers were answered and were attributed with the intercession of the lady of Piat.

My wife myself and my mother-in-law attest to their answered prayers made with the intercession of the miraculous image.

That Sunday when we made a pilgrimage to the Lady of Piat, we traveled some 37 kilometers from Tuguegarao City to the town of Piat. We passed by tracts of lands planted with sugar. The Basilica of the Lady of Piat was filled with devotees when we arri ved. It was the mass that started at 8:30 a.m. that was going on when we arrived and the church was overflowing with people having mass. Even the patio and the streets leading to the church were all crowded.

After the final blessings for the 8:30 a.m. mass, we inched among the crowd towards the front portion of the Church. We heard the 9:30 a.m. mass. The was a fully crowded again with devotees.

Joining the crowd of devotees of the Lady of Piat for mass was a different experience.

The next day, we left early at 5:00 a.m. for our trip back to our home in Bulacan province. The maintenance works going on for the national road across the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya and Nueva Ecija were almost completed, thanks to EVAT, it made driving a lot faster. However, what is more annoying is the presence of numerous public motorcycle cabs which are plying along the national highway specially in the portions of the cities of San Jose and Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija. I thought that these traffic hazards are banned in the national highways. I have never seen as numerous public motorcycle cabs before in my whole life as numerous as what I had seen in these two cities!

We were finally home at 6:00 p.m. We were so thankful to God for giving us a wonderful family bonding moments together throughout our travel!

Posted by E. Sandalo 05:26 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

WindMills of Bangui, Patapat Viaduct of Ilocos Norte, Phils

man-made infrastructures attracting tourists

sunny 25 °C

One of the famous jokes during the time of President Ferdinand E. Marcos who was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte was that almost all kinds of infrastructures that can be funded by the government were already built in Ilocos region. The region has the Don Mariano Marcos State University, the Fort Ilocandia, the (Balay Ti Amianan) Malacanang of the North to name a few.

However, the latest man-made structures that have been drawing tourists in this part of the Philippines are the Wind Mills of Bangui. These were constructed long after the death of former President Marcos. Viewed from afar on Pagudpud beach, the wind mills are very prominent and awesome. Looking at these structures from a distance, one is naturally urged to get close to it. So after spending the whole morning on Pagudpud beach, we checked out Polaris Beach House only a few minutes before the cut-off time at 12:00noon.

We drove back to the next town of Bangui (coming from Manila, Bangui comes first, then Pagudpud) to get close to these new man-made structures. It took us only twenty minutes to reach the wind mills of Bangui.

Twenty wind mills which are 23-storey tall are lined up along the windy shores of Bangui bay. The shore line is directly facing the South China Sea where the strong winds are coming from.

A few minutes ago, while I was writing this blog, I google searched the Wind Mills of Bangui and was able to get these information from a website site named waypointdata.com:

”The Bangui Wind Mills were built by the NorthWind Power Development Corporation to take its share in reducing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) causing global warming and to accelerate the rural electrification of the government.

In this area, wind mostly comes from the north-east, from the sea towards the land. To optimize the full benefit of the winds, turbines are installed along the shore facing the sea effectively removing wind breaks and achieving a terrain roughness of class 0.

The ‘Wind Farm" as it is aptly called consists of 15 wind turbines (Egay’s Note: there are now 20 turbines). The turbines are on-shore and arranged in a single row spaced 326 meters apart. The turbines hub height (ground level to center of nacelle - that part holding the blades) is 70 meters high (roughly equivalent to a 23 storey building), each blade is 41 meters long (just 9 meters shy of a Olympic sized pool) giving a rotor diameter of 82 meters and a wind swept area of 5,281 square meters.

Every body is welcome at the wind farm (you will not see any fence) and wonder at the beauty of the wind mills. Visitors are reminded, though, to — Take nothing but pictures (and/or videos), leave nothing but footprints and retain nothing but memories.

Waypoint narrative by: Dino_T 2007 and EPPGarcia 2007…”

After having lunch at the KANGKANG Coffee Shop and Restaurant located a kilometer away from the windmills, we were already on our way to TuguegaraoCity in Cagayan province.

An hour later, we passed by the Patapat viaduct which is a remnant of the Marcosian infrastructures in Ilocos region. According to the explanation from our friends in the Department of Public Highways, it is more expensive to construct the portion of the highway by side-cutting the mountains. So instead, a viaduct was constructed on the mountainside which looks like a skyway but with pillars constructed on the portion of the seawaters.

I am not an engineer, but my simple mathematical calculations could not convince me that the viaduct is the cheaper alternative to a mountain side cutting!

Posted by E. Sandalo 21:41 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

"Pagudpud, A Hidden Treasure"

Fine white beach

overcast 19 °C

We were already travelling for seven hours but we were still in Candon, Ilocos Sur. I grossly underestimated the distance and the travel time from Lucap, Alaminos City in Pangasinan province to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. I thought that the 450 kilometer distance can be reached in seven hours. We left Lucap at 7:00 a.m. there were times when I was stepping the gas of my Ford Lynx at a speed of 80 km per hour while my eldest daughter who substituted me behind the wheel sometimes hit 90 km per hour but we could only reached in the middle of Ilocos Sur province after seven hours. The reason being was that in populated cities we experienced heavy traffic.

We had a late lunch at a Max Restaurant in Candon, Ilocos Sur at 2:00 p.m. It was also the longest rest that we had (an hour) after spending seven hours on the road. I have to attest to the fact that the national highway from Pangasinan to La Union and then to Ilocos Sur and finally to Ilocos Norte is well-maintained as we were able to travel at a faster speed with some exception of slowing down in cities like Dagupan City and San Fernando City where we experienced heavy traffic.

It was already getting dark at 6:00 p.m. when I had a full tank at a Petron station on the highway near Laoag City. The gasoline boy told me it will take another hour and a half to finally reach Pagudpud.

It was refreshing to finally meet Me-an, the manager of Polaris Beach Resort in person. We were only texting and talking over the cellphone for our booking arrangements after I got her contact number from a website which I google searched for Pagudpud accommodation. Me-an led us to our rooms and was very accommodating to our needs. It was a wise decision that we had an advance booking as there were many guests who arrived at the same time that we arrived. I witnessed how Me-an politely referred at least 5 vans full of guests to the other beach resorts which are still vacant. However, unlike Polaris which is a beach front resort, the others were located several meters away from the beach.

Since it was already dark at 8:00 p.m., we could no longer see the beauty of the beach line of Pagudpud. We had dinner at the restaurant of Polaris Beach Resort which was reasonably priced, the same way that our air-conditioned rooms where priced fairly. We got two separate rooms (one room for me and my wife and the other room for our two daughters) each room was only at P1,500.00 per day.

After dinner, we slept early, tired from the 13-hour drive that we had. As I closed my eyes after my evening prayer, I could not wait for daybreak to come so that I can finally see for myself the hidden treasure named Pagudpud.

As soon as I realized that the sun was already up I left my wife who was still in bed and I walked to the beach of Pagudpud, only 20 meters way from Polaris Beach Resort. The sea wind from the great South China Sea was blowing strong and even with my jacket I could still feel its coolness.

Facing the sea, I stood on the highest cliff of Pagudpud beach and I saw the shimmering South China Sea with a few fishing pump boats approaching the white beach from a night of fishing. As I slowly moved my head to my left, I saw the long white beach of Pagudpud with the wind mills of Bangui lining the horizon. Slowly moving my sight to the opposite direction, I was delighted to see the stretch of white beach lined with tall coconut trees. Several fishermen are busy removing their catch from the fish nets that they had thrown into the sea.

I went back to the resort to wake up my wife and my daughters. We had an early free breakfast which was included in the room rate package. As soon as we finished breakfast, we went to the beach for a morning frolic with the sea! A van owned by the Municipality of Pagudpud was parked near the highest cliff. It was designed with a buzzline: Pagudpud, Asia’s Number 1 White Beach Destination. I could not help but agree with this buzzline considering that unlike Boracay which is already very commercialized, there are no rows of commercial establishments on the shoreline. What I saw was the white beach with white sand but the particles are bigger than the powdery sand of Boracay. Also I saw the busy fishermen, their fishing boats, tall coconut trees and the local residents who watching us swimming!

Its accessibility from Manila could be its weakness. Although there are several bus companies (RCJ, Farinas, Partas etc…) plying from Manila to Pagudpud, a lot of guests does not have the patience of travelling more that 8 hours on the road. There are flights from Manila to Laoag City. But from Laoag, it will still be another one hour and a half drive to Pagudpud.

But for me and my family, travelling 13 hours just to reach Pagudpud was worth it. We finally saw a hidden treasure!

Posted by E. Sandalo 07:24 Archived in Philippines Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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