Saturday, March 29, 2014

Advocacy: Balay ni Charie



First Grade classroom, Agsilab Elementary School

February was a hectic month for Balay ni Charie. We distributed school supplies in four elementary schools in Capiz. Our first stop was in Sapian at Agsilab Elementary School. 300 students received notebooks, pens and pencils from Balay ni Charie. At Agsilab, we saw first hand the damages wrought by super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. In one building, three different grades had to share the same room. Blackboards were used to separate one class from the other. The ceiling was gouged out. In another classroom, a red plastic tarp keeps the children dry from the rains. The kindergarten and day care kids were installed at the barangay hall across the street as there were no classrooms available for them. The good thing is that all the children were able to continue with their studies. And maybe the buildings will be repaired during the summer break.

Agsilab Elementary School

Our next stop was at Agoho Elementary School in Pan-ay which is right on the beach. It has the most beautiful setting of all the schools but vulnerable to storm surges and flooding. I would have a hard time concentrating on learning anything if I were one of the students here because I would probably be gazing out the window or be distracted by the calming sounds of the sea. 290 children received school supplies at this school. We happily observed the work on the roofs of the buildings. Fortunately, the school received much needed help for repairs from a Christian group from TexasUSA.
 
Agoho Elementary School

Nieva Burdick and her friends and family sent a generous contribution of school supplies to Balay ni Charie. She shipped these supplies and t-shirts from New York in December 2013 and it was delivered in Roxas City in February 2014. This contribution helped us immensely so we could reach out to two more schools - Malonoy Elementary School and Ilas Norte, both in Dao, Capiz.  I was quite impressed with how the Principal, the teachers and the parents of the students at Malonoy Elementary worked together to make necessary repairs to the classrooms damaged by the super typhoon. What a herculean effort on their part to put everything back together in record time! Bravo!

Malonoy Elementary School

The sixth grade kids at Ilas Norte Elementary School received t-shirts and they were so excited to wear them. Here they are showing off their new tees.

Students at Ilas Norte Elementary School 

About 204 students in Malonoy and 295 schoolchildren at Ilas Norte Elementary School received school supplies. These distributions totaling 1,027 grade school students in Capiz were much needed replenishments after the super typhoon claimed all of the children's books and supplies. As Balay ni Charie, a grassroots foundation, enters its 9th year of service to the children in Capiz, it is grateful to all its generous supporters whose invaluable contributions allow it to reach out to more schools in the community.

For more information on BalayniCharie, please check www.balaynicharie.blogspot.com.

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Images by BalayniCharie and TravelswithCharie 


Monday, March 24, 2014

Kalibo Art Tour

Erlinda Quimpo Wilson (l) and fellow artist, Clay Dalid (r) at Studio Q

We drove to Kalibo from Roxas City to see the paintings of Erlinda Quimpo Wilson at her own Studio Q in the center of the city. At the time of our visit in February, Erlinda was busy preparing for the Transwing Art Exhibit at SM Aura Mall in Fort Bonifacio where her paintings were included in the exhibition. 


Erlinda has received awards for her works and these are proudly displayed at the studio. The walls of the cozy studio show a wide selection of her paintings depicting local scenes or festivals as well as canvasses she completed while in U.S. where she took painting classes. I really loved this peaceful painting of 2 people busily working on the field with their backs bent against violet tinged mountains in the background. 

Saylo Cuisine

We went to Saylo Cuisine for lunch where some of Erlinda’s paintings were prominently displayed in the dining room. Saylo encourages local painters to display their works here. Near the main door is this dining alcove with a deep purple backdrop and a collage of photos. What an artistic tableau!

Saylo Cuisine's menu

I was impressed with the lengths to which Saylo has gone to provide a unique dining experience starting with the menu which came in a banig bag. Lots of choices from the kitchen including their best seller, Inubarang Manok which is native chicken and ubad (core of a banana stalk) cooked in coconut milk and lemongrass. I ordered the fried tilapia and it was every bit as good. Saylo is located in Andagao on Quezon Ave Extension near St. Monica Chapel, a short drive from the city center. 

Dela Cruz House of Piña

The Dela Cruz House of Piña is a classy little boutique inside the home of the woman who sent her kids through school with the money she earned from weaving jusi or piña material with her very own hand loom. Both the woman and the loom were in house and I had the privilege of meeting this grand old lady who enjoys talking with guests and telling them her life story.  The sheer piña shawls are both elegant and refined. And the hand painted shawls are worth the price listed. The shop also sells nito and abaca products. Nito is a tropical vine from the fern family and is hard and waterproof. Nito is woven into baskets, placemats, and trays. The House of Piña is located at 81 Buswang, Kalibo.

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Images by Charie

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Miag-ao Church


It's a 35-minute drive from Iloilo City proper to Miag-ao along well paved roads. We left the city around five in the afternoon and arrived in Miag-ao just after sunset. I've had to filter these photos as it was too dark to get any clear images.

Miag-ao Catholic Church or the Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was completed in 1797 and ravaged during the 1898 Philippine revolution against Spain, during World War II and again during the 1948 earthquake. The walls, the belfries and the facade are all that is left of the original structure.  Miag-ao Church is a fine example of colonial Baroque.


The facade of the Church is of yellow ocher limestone which was quarried from nearby mountains. It is decorated in high relief with a palm tree on the top and center of the triangular frame. St. Christopher with the child Jesus on his shoulder is under the palm tree and they are surrounded by indigenous flora. In the niche below St. Christopher is the town's patron saint, St. Thomas. The Church is flanked by two belfries of varying heights and which were built in 1854. An earthquake in 1880 destroyed the original north tower.


The massive walls of the Church measure 1 1/2 meters thick, rises 11 meters high and are of sandstone material. It is supported by buttresses that taper at the top. These walls were built as fortifications against further advances by Muslim pirates who attacked the town in 1741 and 1754.

The Church was closed for the evening so we missed seeing the retablo. It will be the subject of a future post.

Retracing our ride back to Iloilo City, we stopped at Tatoy's Manokan and Seafoods Restaurant in the Villa district to try their famous chicken. I didn't find the native lechon manok (chicken) to be anything special but it was good to check out what the hype was all about.  All the other entreés we ordered were fine. There's a new Tatoy's branch in Santa Barbara just outside the international airport.  

We stayed at the Smallville21 Hotel in Mandurriao. This is an area of restaurants, cafés, karaoke bars and discos. It was Saturday night, party night. We could hear the loud music from the bars below to the wee hours of morning. We begged for a room away from the main street but all the quiet rooms sold out early in the day. If you love the nightlife, then this area is for you. 

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Images by Charie

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Ruins

The Ruins, Talisay City

In a residential neighborhood of Talisay is this evocative architectural demonstration of love - The Ruins. When Maria Braga died in an accident in 1911 while pregnant with her 11th child, her husband, Mariano Lacson, built this house in her memory. There's no mistaken whose house this belongs to. The double M (looks like E backwards) on the columns and pillars are the initials of Maria and Mariano. 

Mariano Lacson and Maria Braga

The house which is reminiscent of European villas, is made of concrete which has the look and feel of marble as it was mixed with egg whites rather than water. The tiles were imported from Spain and have withstood years of exposure to the elements. The four tier water lily fountain is original to the property as is the sugar mill smokestack that is topped by a tree, a not so subtle reminder of a tower in Lucca, Italy.

Tiles from Spain

A house rule strictly followed by the family including Mariano himself was that only the unmarried members of the family could live in this house. Alas at the onset of World War II, the US Armed Forces in the Far East felt it necessary to torch structures that may be used by the Japanese for their headquarters. Maria's house burned for three days until only the framework remained as you see it now.

Staircase to the Belevedere 
(notice the M initials on the side walls flanking the arched entry)

Mariano died in 1948. The ruins were left as it was for 67 years. Workers at the hacienda, vagabonds, and animals invited themselves to repose here. Mariano's grandson, Raymund Javellana, decided to restore the house in 2007. It was opened to the public in 2008, sixty years after Mariano's death.

A colonnaded balcony

The Ruins, what a tribute to enduring love!


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The Ruins, Hacienda Santa Maria, Zone 15, Talisay City, Negros Occidental. Hours 8:30 am to 8 pm. daily.  Entrance fee applies. Entertaining guide named Roger Laksoon. 

How to get to Bacolod/Talisay City 
Flights from Metro Manila to Bacolod on Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. By supercat from Iloilo City, it costs P710.00 and takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes. Departures several times daily. Take taxi from airport or dock to Talisay.

Where to eat:
21 Restaurant
21 St., Corner Lacson
Bacolod
Phone: 34 433 4096
Try the lapulapu over eggplant. The pinakbet is very good.

Calea
14th St., Bacolod City
Desserts galore. Best known for their cheesecakes.

Where to shop for local delicacies
Virgie's Homemade Products
59 Sebastián St.
Bacolod
www.Virgieshomemade.com
Try their famous mango tarts.

Images by TravelswithCharie. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Where to go in 2014

Above the clouds

There are so many recommendations from various travel guidebooks and newspapers of the best destinations in 2014 to help us decide where we should go this year of the Wooden Horse. New York Times has a list of 52 Places. Lonely Planet has Value Destinations, Family Destinations, Top Cities and so on. In the end, it's all up to us to decide where to go. It's all very exciting. And I'm caught up in the possibility of traveling to a new destination in 2014. So here we go.

Dinner at 36,000 feet

National Geographic Travel:
Among the destinations selected by National Geographic are Alentejo in Portugal, Cape Verde, New Orleans, Puglia in Italy and Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda. Check this link for more recommendations: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-trips-2014/

Lonely Planet Top Value Destinations:

Palawan, Philippines

The Top Ten Value Destinations for 2014 are: Greek Islands, Italy's Heel, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Portugal, Fiji, Mexico, Karnataka in India, Palawan in Philippines and Ethiopia.  Here's the link: 

New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2014:
At the top of the list is Cape Town, South Africa followed by Christchurch, New Zealand and the Northern California Coast. The Albanian Coast and Downtown Los Angeles round up the Top Five. Please follow this link for the other places on the list: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/01/10/travel/2014-places-to-go.html?_r=0

"We live in a wonderful world full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." Jawaharlal Nehru

Wishing you all safe and fun travels in 2014. 

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Images by TravelswithCharie


Saturday, January 04, 2014

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oahu Redux

Ko Olina Lagoon

It's always a treat to getaway to Oahu. Much as I like to walk around Ala Moana Park as I did in the old days, I've traded this to walking at Ko Olina where the beaches are less crowded, especially on a weekday, and the scenery is enhanced by five peaceful lagoons.  It's also a good place to enjoy the sunset. 

Shaved Ice from Matsumoto

On my travel bucket list for Oahu is to try new restaurants. Honolulu Magazine annually weighs in on the Best Restaurants in Hawaii by category and I use their list as my guide. Last November we tried Assaggio Ristorante Italiano at the Ala Moana Shopping Center. I ordered their Fresh Eggplant Milanese over a bed of linguine and it was very good. The diced eggplant was soft to the bite. For local flavor, we went to Matsumoto in Haleiwa for their famous shaved ice. I chose the mango flavor and we sat on the bench outside the grocery store to enjoy this delicious flavored ice and were rewarded with a view of the picturesque Liliuokalani Protestant Church across the street.

Liliuokalani Protestant Church

Farther up the road from Matsumoto's is the world renowned Banzai Pipeline, the big draw for all earnest surfers. We watched as some of them were coming back to shore as it was getting late. But we also saw a handful of them who were paddling out to meet the waves.  

North Shore

Our souvenir shopping discovery was Don Quijote in Waikele where we found boxes of chocolate covered macadamia nuts and Kauai cookies at bargain prices. These goodies are always appreciated by friends and family on the mainland.

Aloha Oahu for the moment. Looking forward to more visits in 2014.

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Images by TravelswithCharie



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Boracay


It's a three hour drive to Caticlan from Roxas City, another beach town on the island of Panay. Then a short 15 minute hop by pump boat to the white sand beaches of Boracay. We stayed at White Beach where most of the action takes place. Our hotel was right on the beach, convenient for the many walks we took during our brief stay. We arrived in Boracay just about lunch time and we found a buffet restaurant close by. For two hundred pesos, we had our fill or more. While eating our lunch at this crowded beachfront resto, I watched how the pigs were prepared and slowly roasted for that evening's dinner.


Soon the pigs were turning a golden hue with the patient manual rotation by these two men.


A couple more hours and the "lechon" will be on the buffet table. We ate dinner at another restaurant, Mesa, where we savored their specialty - tinapa rolls along with what else, tinapa rice and fried tilapia. Tinapa is a tiny smoked fish. My friends and I thought the food at Mesa was quite good and reasonably priced. It also has a nice ambiance and is steps above the seashore. 


We didn't tire of walking along the beach during the two days we spent in Boracay. There were many tourists although October is typically low season. We had fun people watching while resting our feet and sipping our ice cold juices. We also bought souvenirs at the stalls in Talipapa (just behind our hotel) where we found hats and wraps to wear on the beach. 


Can you believe they have a bar named Obama? Cheers!

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Images by Travels with Charie




Merry Christmas 2013


"And the Word was made flesh
And dwelt among us
Full of grace and truth." 
John 1:14


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Please help


U.S. residents may help the victims of super typhoon Haiyan (YolandaPH) by texting AID to 27722 to donate $10.00. 0r text MKHUNGER to 50555 to donate $5.00.  All proceeds go to World Food Program (WFP) which organization is on the ground now distributing relief goods in the storm ravaged areas of Eastern and Western Visayas. Or donate online https://www.wfp.org/donate/typhoon-philippines.


Philippine residents may text RED space AMOUNT to 2899 for Globe subscribers and 4143 for Smart subscribers. Donations go to the Philippine Red Cross. "No amount is too small."

Check also this list of organizations that are involved in relief and rescue operations in the Philippines: 

Thank you for your generosity.

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