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Showing posts from April, 2013

Narita-san Shinsōji Temple

Niōmon Gate (1830)
An unplanned layover at Narita Airport yielded a pleasant surprise. With a whole morning free before returning to Narita Airport for an early evening flight, we took the shuttle bus from our hotel to Narita City. We walked to Narita-san Shinshō-ji Buddhist temple from the drop off point. The temple is located at the end of a busy, shop-lined street called Omotesando. It was the Setsubun Festival (in late January) and the streets in and around the temple were packed with visitors and pilgrims who, like us, were distracted by the many food stalls and enticing curio shops along the way. Setsubun is the celebration of the beginning of spring (according to the lunisolar calendar).

Three Storied Pagoda
Narita-san was founded in the year 940. It is a lead temple of the Chisan branch of the New Shingon sect of Buddhism. Some of the buildings in the complex are designated National Important Cultural Properties including the Three Storied Pagoda that dates back to 1712 and t…

Balay ni Charie Foundation

Garcia Elementary School students in Tapaz, Capiz
Balay ni Charie Foundation is a grassroots organization I created in 2006 that provides school supplies to children in Capiz, Philippines. On its first year, 20 children from ConradoBarriosElementary School in RoxasCity received school supplies. With the support of family, friends, and another charitable group, Balay ni Charie now distributes school provisions to several hundred grade school children in various towns in Capiz.
Students at San Antonio Elementary School in Cuartero, Capiz
This year, we visited the schools of GarciaElementary in Tapaz, Capiz where 146 children received notebooks, pens and pencils. We also gave school supplies to 220 students at San AntonioElementary School in Cuartero, Capiz.
 The road to San Antonio Elementary School
It is not easy to get to some of these schools. We needed a 4 x 4 to take us to the hinterlands of Cuartero because the roads were deeply potholed and impassable from recent rains. Two years …

Palina Greenbelt Ecotour

Touring can be both fun and educational. And so it is with the Palina Greenbelt Ecotour that takes students and visitors out into the waters off of Barangay Cagay in RoxasCity to appreciate the reclamation of the PalinaRiver after it was silted up from the excessive number of fish pens in the area. This tour is conducted by the fisherfolk who sacrificed their own fish pens and livelihood in order to save the river. And now they are our guides on this barge trip as they unravel the story of the rehabilitation of this river and the rich mangroves that were planted to stem floodwaters and nurture fish, bird and plant life.
Bamboo Raft
We were towed by an outrigger to the open waters while two able bodied men navigated our bamboo barge with their bamboo poles, steering us forward or sideways with their muscles and then turning the barge into the narrow passage leading to the Panay River where a huge surambaw commandeered a big slice of the corridor and we had to gingerly edge our way ar…

Anot's Restaurant

New to the beachside restaurant scene is Anot's with its fresh and innovative menu. When we had lunch there recently, my friend, Clay, requested the chef to serve us his top favorite dishes from the menu. Here's what we got.


For starters, we had fried, crispy kangkong which was a complete surprise. Never knew kangkong could be this good. It wasn't oily at all and every delicious leaf was crispy. I didn't even need the extra mayonnaise dip to add flavor. This is an appetizer you can't put down.


Prawns are a personal favorite especially the sweet variety only found in the seafood capital of the Philippines. But this dish was a little too spicy for my palate.


Eating squid is an acquired taste, I think. It's meat is thick and chewy. Didn't score highly with me but I'm not an adventurous eater either.


Mangagat fish is in a neck to neck race with bangus (milkfish) on many local menus. This mangagat is prepared with tiny scallops and a special secret sauce. …