Tuesday, October 18, 2016

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Capiz

Sorry to disappoint you but there are no aswang in Capiz. If there were, the airlines would lose money since we could probably get promo fares more frequently on the back of an aswang. Seriously though, release your fear. Come to Capiz. Wear a garlic bracelet, if you must. But do come and experience our world. 

1. Life is simpler in flip flops

Baybay Beach and Mantalinga Island

Baybay Beach in Roxas City is the choice of denizens for its proximity to the city center and its seafood restaurants. It's easy to slough off the calories gained from an indulgent lunch with a walk on the beach. If you crave variety, we have more beaches for you to comb in Ivisan, Olotayan, Pan-ay and Pilar. 


2.  Baby let's cruise 

Palina Greenbelt Ecotour
The Palina Greenbelt ecotour is a good introduction toward understanding the negative effects of fish pens in our waters. It wasn't long ago when Palina River was badly silted and marine life was profoundly affected. Convincing the fisherfolk to let go of the pens upon which their livelihood depended was the biggest challenge on the table. Today the waterways are healthier and mangroves are thriving. The fisherfolk who were disenfranchised by the loss of their fish pens now manage the ecotours. They also maintain a fish farm nearby where they breed lapu-lapu. It's a win-win situation.


3.  On Angel's Wings

Diwal or Angel Wings

A plateful of oysters could set you back P40/serving. Wait, what? Yes sir! So go ahead and order another plate of this confirmed aphrodisiac. Try the diwal too (in season). This is what's great about dining in the seafood capital of the Philippines. There's a wealth of choices. May I suggest locon (sweet prawns), grilled scallops and ceviche? Bon appetit! 


4.  It's not just about the bell

Retablo from Santa Monica Parish Church
Do go up the narrow stairs to the belfry and examine up close the biggest bell in Asia. It's made from thousands of coins which were donated by the faithful. There's also a panoramic view of Pan-ay from the tower. After you've satisfied your curiosity, enter the church through a side door and observe the three-meter thick coral walls. In the cool interior of Santa Monica, let your eyes rest on the beautiful and intricately carved retablos found in the side chapels. I find these to be the true treasures of this storied church. Before leaving, notice the statues of St. Augustine and St. Thomas on either side of the front portal. There's more to discover at Santa Monica beyond the bell. 


5. Stretch your comfort zone

Olotayan Island
There are no fancy hotels on this white sand fringed island. Only a few no frills cottages if you wish to stay overnight. It's a forty-five minute ride by motorized outrigger from Banica to Olotayan through mangrove and across the deep blue sea where the outrigger rolls with the waves. So why go? Perhaps it's time to step outside your comfort zone. 


6.  Walk the historical trail

A Karst formation
Most visitors go to Pilar to pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Agtalin. It's a steep climb to the top of the hill where the 80-foot statue of our Lady stands above the countryside. But the young ones will gleefully run up the stairs. A special mass is offered at the shrine on the first Saturday of the month so expect a lot of people then. Just a short drive from Agtalin are beaches, caves, waterfalls, karst formations and a mummy. There's something for every traveler's interest including the historyaholic who will appreciate the story of the Battle of Balisong Hills.


7. When in Ivisan

Talaba Farm
When in Ivisan you must do the following: burrow your feet in the white sand beaches of Basiao and Ayagao, check out how they breed oysters at the talaba farm, go island hopping to Pulo Gamay and Pulo Maba-ay, climb up the hill to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, get a selfie in front of their tricycle with its precariously wide black roof, pick up virgin coconut oil products for cooking, bath and massage essentials at the Co-op then buy some goodies like otap and ugoy ugoy from Mayden Bakery. Ivisan is full of surprises!

8.  Communing with nature in a military camp

Malinamon Falls*
Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan is a sprawling 33,000-hectare army camp. It's heavily forested and abounds in natural beauty. For starters, there are two waterfalls within the property, Malinamon and Kalikasan. There's also a golf course, a swimming pool, a grotto with a commanding view of the lush surroundings and challenging trails for hiking and biking. You can even stay overnight in an air conditioned room for P100.00. It's a cool escape to reconnect with Mother Nature.

Note: Because this is a military camp, you will need to make arrangements of your visit at the visitor's office in Camp Peralta prior to your arrival. 

*Image by Bernadith Barrientos

9. Spelunking 101

Igang Cave
If this is your first spelunking adventure, then you're in for a treat at Igang cave in Maayon, a forty minute drive from Roxas City. The cave is easy to scale though some of the chambers are mere crawl spaces. There are bats, of course, but they cling to the higher ceiling amongst the stalactites. Capiz has a lot to offer the caving enthusiast including Suhoton cave in Jamindan, Kipot in Mambusao, Balisong in Pilar and Suhot in Dumalag.  

10. Eat, pray, relax 

The Carrying of the Cross on Baybay Beach
Combine rest and relaxation with religious activities during Holy Week. Discover our century old churches in Dao, Dumalag and Roxas City during your Visita Iglesia. Then join our Good Friday procession in Roxas City. You'll be surprised to see the number of exquisitely ornamented carroza chronicling the journey to Calvary. Spend Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday celebrating a getaway well spent in Capiz at one of our laid back seaside restaurants. Cheers!

Need more convincing? Here you go:

11.  "Create an auspicious condition"

Meditation Hills
"The masters say that if you create an auspicious condition in your body and your environment, then meditation and realization will automatically arise." Soqyal Rinpoche

Though Yolanda denuded the carefully planted foliage and blew away the cross which stood on top of the hill, the green-swept landscape has returned. It's best to visit the Hills early in the morning or late afternoon when the heat is less oppressive. You'll have more energy to climb up to the grotto and cross or if you prefer, sit still in the chapel or under the shade of a palm tree for some quiet introspection. 


12. Food trip
Dumolog - dried fish
Dao - balut
Dumalag - biscuits from Cake Lovers
Ivisan - ugoy ugoy from Mayden Bakery, organic coconut oil products from Co-op
Pan-ay - ibus soaked in tuba and choriwich with hot chocolate from Balay ni Nanay Lording
President Roxas - sugar cane
Sapian - mussels from the mussels farm
Tapaz - buy bananas from roadside stalls beside a banana plantation

See you soon in Capiz.

Anot's - 2 locations. One in Baybay across from the beach and another on Washington Street in the city center. Try their crispy kangkong, grilled mangagat, and binakol.
Bitoy's Balay Barbekyuhan - On Baybay Beach. They are famous for their pork barbecue. I always order their camaron rebosado, chicken sotanghon and chop suey.
Coco Veranda - On Baybay Beach. Have you eaten lato salad yet? Order it here. My favorite is the sizzling tangigue.
Café Felisa - At San Antonio Resort across from Baybay beach. When the Thai chef is in house, order her chicken pandan and catfish with green mango. So good. 
Espacio Verde - In Dayao. The restaurant by the pool serves tasty chicken inubaran. 
Café Terraza - In Pueblo de Panay. It's all about the view. 

Jacque's Coffee and Chills - on Baybay Beach. Sangria tea and any of their melt-in-your-mouth cakes and muffins.
Spanggo - on Rizal Street. They're famous for their buko pie.
Panulce - 2 locations at Robinson's and Magallanes Street. The diet cake lulls you into believing that these are calorie free.

San Antonio Resort, BayBay Beach - www.thesanantonioresort.com/ 
Grand Gazebo Dormitel, BayBay Beach (Particularly suitable for groups and families) -  grandgazebodormitel@gmail.com 
Urban Manor Hotel, Pueblo de Panay - http://urbanmanorhotel.yolasite.com/  
Espacio Verde Villas, a luxury hotel in Dayao - info@espacioverde-resort.com, 63-36-522-8383 
Emmanuelasa by the Sea, a bed and breakfast in Cogon - 63-999-881-4491
**I've personally inspected these hotels.

Getting there:
By Air: 3 flights daily from Manila via Cebu Pacific and PAL
By Air from Cebu: Cebu Pacific is launching this flight in November 2016
By Sea: Ro-ro buses from Cubao, Quezon City
By bus from Iloilo: Air conditioned and non-air conditioned buses and vans leave Iloilo for Roxas City every hour. Passengers are dropped off at the Punta Dulog Terminal. Take a tricycle to the city center or to your hotel from the terminal.
By bus from Kalibo: Ceres Bus Liner and vans link Kalibo with Roxas City. 

Getting around:
From the airport to the beach or to the city center: by taxi or tricycle. Hotels listed here have their own shuttle services. Check with your hotel for sightseeing tours in Capiz. 

Capiz Tourism and Cultural Affairs
Capiz Provincial Capital
Roxas City
Hours: M-F 8am to 5pm


Images by TravelswithCharie, except for Malinamon Falls which was contributed by Bernadith Barrientos.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

When in Ivisan

"I've traveled far and wide to explore new horizons only to find that there's so much to see right here in my own backyard." TravelswithCharie

Basiao beach
A view of the islands from our cottage on Basiao beach. We ate a simple lunch of bangus (milkfish) and rice with the balut we bought in Dao and assorted pastries from Roxas City.

Islands of Pulo Gamay and Pulo Maba-ay
There's something to be said about heading to the beach on a weekday. We have this beautiful stretch of white sand to ourselves. All throughout lunch the siren song of the islands beckoned and we wanted to go island hopping but alas the rain caught up with us. All the more reason to come back. 

Oyster Farm
We managed a trip to the talaba (oyster) farm before the downpour. It was nice to see up close how they breed oysters. The old method is to suspend them from bamboo poles as you see here. The new method is to raise them in barrels which are partially sunk in the water. 

Ayagao beach
Another quiet white sand beach on a Thursday afternoon. This is what you call searenity. You can rent a cottage and bring your own food. There's a short zip line above the adjacent beach resort but it was not functioning when we visited. The drive to Ayagao is through a forested area past an orchid farm. It was refreshing to be surrounded by trees the shade of which dropped the temperature a notch and made for a pleasant ride.

We went to Balaring to distribute school supplies at the elementary school there. There's only a one lane road to get there which for the most part is unpaved and we had a rough ride. But we got to see this peaceful cove on our way to the school. I asked the driver to stop so I could take pictures of this hidden gem.

Christ the Redeemer
I had no idea that there is a statue of Christ the Redeemer in Ivisan. No one I know has ever mentioned it to me. But here it is, surrounded by a pastoral landscape and appearing very much like the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. My friends joked that we didn't have to buy an airplane ticket to see this. We're blessed!

Coconut products
Thank goodness for friends who knew about this Coconut Cooperative where they sell coconut oil products. So I picked up cooking oil, massage oil with lemongrass, two kinds of body soap and two baby coconut trees. Having read the health benefits of coconut oil, I was happy to find a place where I could stock up on these items.

Ugoy ugoy
We stopped at Mayden Bakery and watched as they packaged monay bread at their factory at the back of the store. As it was merienda time, we bought a few of their treats like these ugoy ugoy which are nice and crispy and not too sweet. They're fresh off the oven.

Ivisan is a basket full of surprises. 

It's a 20-minute drive to Ivisan town proper (where Mayden Bakery and the Co-op are located) from Roxas City and a little bit more to the beaches. There are passenger vans departing from Roxas City to Ivisan where you can take a tricycle to the beaches or to Santo Rosario to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer.


Images by travelswithcharie

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Pinto Art Museum

Walang Iwanan, Elmer Borlongan, 1999
The Pinto Art Museum has a vast collection of Philippine contemporary art and it requires more than a single visit to appreciate all that it has offer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Markets of Seoul

If LA is a great big freeway, then Seoul is a great big market. Above ground or underground, there is no dearth of choices. The only limit is how deep your pocket is. 

Friday, August 05, 2016

This small museum packs a punch

Blast Furnaces of Vizcaya, Juan Luna, 1893
I love small museums where I don't have to rush from painting to painting so I can see everything in a few hours. I like to linger, take a photo if it's allowed, leisurely read the attribution card or the brochure and check out the works of art as meticulously as possible. The Yuchengco Museum in Makati is an ideal place to visit and learn about Philippine art in an intimate setting. It wows with its collection of paintings by the masters of Philippine art including Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, Carlos "Botong" Francisco and a host of other artists, some of whom I've included below. During my visit in July, I was lucky to have seen the Benedicto Cabrera Tribute Exhibition, BenCab in Two Movements.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Azulejos as Decorative Art

Altarpiece of our Lady of Life. c1580
This altarpiece was partially destroyed during the 1755 earthquake. It is composed of 1,498 tiles in a multitude of hues. The top section with missing pieces is the Annunciation. The Adoration panel in the center is flanked by the images of St. Luke on the left and St. John on the right. The arrangement of this altarpiece resembles that of a retablo. It is attributed to Marçal de Matos, one of the masters of Portuguese azulejo painting.