ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE:Dapitan & Dipolog City

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DAPITAN CITY: It became popular as it was regarded as the “Shrine City in the Philippines.” Dapitan is a peaceful city that seems very simple and organized. Heritage houses are still inhabited by most residents. There are a number of accommodations along Sunset Boulevard at a reasonable price. Every scenic spot is just a tricycle away and people are very welcoming.

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ST. JAMES CHURCH: What makes this landmark special? Firstly, it is a historical spot where our National hero Jose Rizal was spotted regularly attending mass while he was exiled in Dapitan. It is just across Dapitan City Plaza and a few minutes walk to another tourist spot, the Ilihan Hill (A concrete hike to the achieve a 360-degree-view of the city). Secondly, the 1827 German-European pipe organ was preserved at the choir platform of the church. Thirdly, unlike most baroque style churches in the Philippines, the ceiling is truly captivating. The apex of the central dome is hypnotic.

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RIZAL NATIONAL PARK: Interesting finds include, Jose Rizal’s house while he was in exile for four years between 1892-1896. The entire place was preserved and declared as the José Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape. His works where kept in a museum just within the vicinity. You can freely read his letters which are now laminated and projected on the wall. From Sunset Boulevard, tricycle will take around 10 minutes to reach this elevation, located at Talisay facing Dapitan Bay.

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DAKAK BEACH RESORT: You will love the beach front and white sand beach. For day trip, entrance is 1000 Php/head. For overnight, it ranges more or less 5,000-20,000 Php depending on your villa. This place is perfect for couples and large families who want to engage in activities such as diving, kayaking, zipline and so on.

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FANTASY LAND/GLORIA DE DAPITAN: If you miss the city, head on to the nearest theme park. It consists of more than 30 rides and food stalls. They have a rollercoaster for the extremes and a classic carousel but the highlight is their 5D shows similar to Hong Kong’s Disneyland. This is the perfect place to do grocery shopping too.

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RIZAL’S LANDING SITE: Also known as “Punto de Dissembarco De Rizal en Dapitan”. Perhaps this is the most famous landmark in Dapitan as it is found along Sunset Boulevard. The former landing site became a hang out spot for the locals and tourists. You will see a lot of people gathered to watch the sunset by Sta. Cruz Beach while others are feasting on grilled meat and seafood.

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OTHER PLACES TO VISIT:

  • Heritage Houses
  • Aliguay Island
  • Restaurants along Sunset Boulevard

DIPOLOG CITY: It is the home of the most delicious spanish sardines! Everytime I set foot on this city, I take home quite a few bottles. The “Bottled Sardines Capital of the Philippines” has flavors in oil, tomato and chilli. Aside from that, the price is half lower compared to the groceries we find in Luzon. Dipolog is the “Gateway to Western Mindanao” making it the capital of Zamboanga del Norte.

IMG_0339.JPGST.VINCENT: It is said to be designed by Jose Rizal during his stay in Dapitan. His former professor urged him to conceptualize the church’s total look. The ceiling has remarkable details carved from wood. Just across is the main park of the city where you can see giant cartoon and movie characters.

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OTHER PLACES TO VISIT:

  • Hike at Linabo peak Sitio Dinginan, Brgy. Lugdungan to for a 360-degree-view of Dapitan, Dipolog and parts of Zamboanga del Norte.
  • Visit Plaza Magsaysay at Herrera Street
  • Trek and swim at Sungkilaw Falls at Barangay Diwan
  • Cliff dive at Sicayab Cliffs in Sicayab-Bucana
  • Spelunking in Libuton Cave at Manukan, Dipolog

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  • GOODTIMES CAFE: It is an artists’ guild mosaic themed cafe located at C. P. Garcia St. Cor. Lopez Jaena St. Biasong, Dipolog City. Visit early for better lighting and bring insect reppelants.

See Related travel post: ZAMBOANGA CITY

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“If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots not feet.”

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NEGROS ISLAND: Bacolod,Talisay and Cadiz City

HOW TO GET TO BACOLOD CITY FROM SILAY? See related post: NEGROS OCCIDENTAL: Silay City Heritage Houses

A. BACOLOD CITY: MassKara Festival is held every fourth week of October to commemorate the rich culture of Negros. It started in 1980 during a period of crisis yet the Negrenses decided to carry on an optimistic outlook in life and put on smiles. Since then it was called the “City of Smiles”. Like in any festival in the Philippines, the program include dancers in costume and colorful face masks. They could be hand-painted, beaded, adorned with various ornaments and even feathered.

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WHERE TO EAT?

  • MANOKAN COUNTRY IN BACOLOD is my favorite “chicken inasal” place. Inasal is roasted chicken marinated in calamansi and secret ingredients. I have tried various versions already but whenever I set foot in Bacolod, this place is where I head first. Aside from being affordable, the meat is flavorful, tender and juicy; grilled perfectly. Don’t forget to drizzle annatto oil on your rice and create a dip of chilli, kalamansi/lemon and soy sauce. Annatto oil/Achioto oil/Atsuete is a common ingredient in Latin America. It is red-orange in color, gives a good grease  and enticing appearance to grilled dishes. It is also known as the “poorman’s saffron”. Apart from ordinary oil, annatto is an antioxidant and bowel cleanser so you can enjoy it freely! To be specific Nena’s Beth is the best place in Manokan Country.
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From left to right: Pecho, paa, corazon, isaw(small intestine), longganiza, isol(chicken ass),pusit

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chicken wings are the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B. TALISAY CITY: Perhaps the most popular tourist destination here is The CAMPUESTOHAN HIGHLAND RESORT. Located on a higher part of Negros, its climate is comparable to tagaytay or little Baguio in Summer. Mt. Makawili is visible on this 5-hectar-resort. Enrance Fee is 150Php/head for a day with free use of swimming pool and playground. The Indian Village is the perfect place for family overnight. Canopy tents and log cabins can be rented for a day trip or overnight. Price ranges between 2,500 to 5,000Php for a small group. For specific rates and updated activities check out their website.

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The Indian Village accommodations

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3rd photo: The Bonita Hut is my favorite! It is like a Hobbit’s house. Packages include airconditioned rooms and free breakfast. Such a great deal with this ambiance!

HOW TO GET THERE:

  • Via car, From Lopues East/McDonald’s east head to the road that leads to the mountains. When you reach barangay Granada follow the signage and take a turn. It won’t be difficult to find as there are stores and vehicles parked outside.
  • Via Tricycle: All you have to do is haggle for a reasonable price and even rent it out roundtrip.
  • There is a shuttle on weekends that travels to the resort at 100Php/head. From Lopeus East/Jollibee East.

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C. CADIZ CITY:  LAKAWON ISLAND is the biggest floating bar in Asia located off the coast of Cadiz. Though it is a party bar, I think it is perfect for an afternoon nap or siesta. Afterall,“TAWHAI” means relax.

TAWHAI FLOATING BAR (285Php/head) is best enjoyed in the afternoon where you can take a nap and witness sunset. Check out their website for roomrates.

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HOW TO GET TO THE ISLAND: Take a taxi to the Bus terminal. Ride a bus heading to Cadiz City and get off at Barangay Burgos terminal. If you are planning a day trip, travel early because boats are between 7:00AM to 5:00PM only. Take a tricycle (120/6persons capacity) going to the Lakawon Port/ Cadiz Viejo Port. Register at the windows and get your boat ticket for 310 Php/head.

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D. TALISAY CITY: Your stay will never be complete without visiting the “Taj Mahal of the Philippines”. It was built in the 1900s by Negros’ sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson in memory of his Portuguese wife Maria Braga Lacson who died by giving birth to their 11th child. It is dark in color because it was intentionally burnt by the guerillas in World War II. That is because they were trying to prevent the Japanese from using it as a headquarters. The ruins of this Italian architecture has been preserved up to this day. General admission fee is 100Php, 50 for students and 20 children. From the City center, taxi meter will read around 150 Php but you may haggle and rent it roundtrip for less hassle as there aren’t much tricycles heading back to the city.

Going in the morning or afternoon will be the best time for photo ops. However, the sunset or night visit creates a more romantic vibe. The downside would be the photobombers. They’re open everyday between 8:00AM-8:00PM.

TIPS: Look for the glass table and set your camera there for a mirror effect shot. Dont miss the sugarcane juice being sold at the side of The Ruins!

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OTHER PLACES TO VISIT:

  • Before heading home, I encourage you to drop by THE NEGROS MUSEUM then buy pasalubong/souvenirs. The museum displays the historical Negrense lifestyle and art. The Negros Museum is open from 10:00am-8:00pm, Tuesdays to Sundays at the Former Agricultural Building (historic neoclassical capitol building built in 1925) along Gatuslao Street, Bacolod City.  General admision fee in Pesos is 50, 40 for Senior and 20 for students/children. The Provincial Capitol Building of Negros Occidental and the Hall of Justice are the perfect landmarks at the city. Take a 5-10 minute-walk to reach it.

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  • There is a baroque style 19th century church at the city center. From here, you may check out nearby pasalubong stores by foot.

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HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP: Do not forget to try the city’s authentic “Kansi”. For dinner, I had native chicken inasal, calamares, gambas and the sumptuous kansi! KANSI is an Ilonggo dish that is popular in Negros. It is a sour bone marrow soup with extra tender beef that is like a fusion of Filipino viands: Bulalo  and Sinigang.

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“All you need is the plan, the roadmap, and the courage to press on to your destination.”

-Earl Nightingale

 

 

 

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL: Silay City Heritage Houses

REASONS TO VISIT SILAY CITY?

  • It is referred to as the “Paris of Negros” and “seat of arts, culture and ecotourism” due to the numerous preserved heritage houses, artists, cultural shows and its rich history. No wonder it was acknowledged by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as one of the top travel destinations in the Philippines.
  • 31 Ancestral Houses are declared by the National Historical Institute as cultural landmarks.
  • The world’s oldest Steam Locomotives(train) is at Hawaiian Philippines Co. a.k.a. “Iron Dinosaurs” are found and can be rented here (15,000/day).
  • Home of Kansilay Festival (A legend: the heroism of Princess Kansilay and her love story with Lawaan) and Adobo Festival (November 5: people showcase various versions of Adobo).

HOW TO GET THERE?

Silay City is more than 25 minutes away from Bacolod City and vice versa, hence the traffic. Exploring Silay is best done via pedicab or trike. Ancestral houses can be reached by foot if you are a walker like me.

If you are heading to Bacolod City: I personally prefer to take a taxi though it may cost more (200-250Php) due to the distance. However, you may take a shuttle van service (150Php) from Silay International Airport with drop off points at nearby hotels within the city, Robinson’s, SM or Bus terminals. From Bacolod City, Robinson’s is a major pick up point going to Silay.

MUST VISIT ANCESTRAL HOUSES:

Silay is like a Museum City with a laid back ambiance and Spanish feel. It is like Marinduque and Ilocos wherein you can see well-preserved ancestral houses mostly turned into a museum or cafe.

A. BALAY NEGRENSE or Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House: It is the first museum in Negros Occidental. The house was owned by Victor Gaston, son of Frenchman Yves Leopold Germain Gaston. Before sugarcane became a staple crop, he discovered Negros’ fertile land and was the first to bring an iron mill for sugarcane production and produce quality sugar. He was regarded as the “Father of the Sugar Industry.”

This literal “house of stone” (bahay na bato) housed his 12 children and was later on donated to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) repaired and opened for public viewing. This Neo-Renaissance architecture was built in 1897.  Entrance fee is 60/adults, 40/students or seniors and 20 /children. Open between 9:00-5:30 PM and closed on Mondays at Barangay III, Cinco De Noviembre Street.

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B. BERNARDINO JALANDONI HOUSE/MUSEUM: This is called the “Pink House” probably because of the notable color. Don Bernardino Jalandoni and Doña Ysabel Lopez Ledesma were the original owners but now in the care of Silay Heritage Foundation, Inc. It is walking distance from the Church of San Diego de Alcala. Nowadays, this 1908 house is a common venue for cultural and artistic events. It is located at Brgy II, Rizal Street open between Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

C. SOLEDAD AND MARIA MONTELIBANO LACSON ANCESTRAL HOUSE: This landmark is owned by the family of Montelibano Lacson sisters: Soledad and Maria. According to history, it was where General Lacson and revolutionary leaders constantly secretly meet and where they first raised the Philippine flag. It is just at the corner of Rizal Street stop light.

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D. MARIA LEDESMA GOLEZ HERITAGE HOUSE: The house was restored in 1992 and is being used by Silay Branch of Republic Commercial Banking Corporation in 1992. Today it serves as a bank and shops building.

There is a popular backpacker’s inn across the road and an old cafe on the ground floor. It would be a perfect homestay if you are planning a day at Silay then head to Bacolod.

E. HOFILEÑA ANCESTRAL HOUSE: This beautiful home was built in 1934 by Hofileña for his 12 children and former Miss Silay wife. These days, it serves as a museum exhibiting the work of popular Philippine artists, antiques and private collection of Ramon H. Hofileña. The world’s smallest dolls are found in their collection too.

F. BALAI VERDE or Angel Araneta Ledesma Ancestral House: This 1933 “Green House” is an American clapboard-Colonial plantation architectural combination. It was later on sold to the local government. Currently it serves as the Office of Culture, Arts and Tourism of the City of Silay. It is located along Plaridel Street near The City Hall and San Diego Pro-Cathedral.

G. EL IDEAL BAKERY or Cesar Lacson Locsin Heritage House: This is the oldest 2-storey-home or “bahay na bato” in Silay. The ground floor is concrete while the upper floor is classic wood with metal grills and glass windows. Silay’s original bakery was established in 1920’s located at 118 Rizal Street. They serve home-made pastries and Filipino-Spanish viands. Their guapple pie is a must!

Foodtrip at Silay

Left Corner: Cubana, porkchop, empanada and cassava at El Ideal bakery and Restaurant. Right Corner: ison, atay, corazon, pakpak and sizzling gambas with egg at Silay Food Park

H. GENEROSO GAMBOA ANCESTRAL TWIN HOUSE: A very interesting twin house wherein the other is painted while the one next to it retained its original wood finish.

I. JOSE LEDESMA ANCESTRAL HOME: This 1917 house has a beautiful entrance of two. The flights of stairs connects in the middle of the veranda.

J. DR. JOSE CORTEZA LOCSIN ANCESTRAL HOUSE: He graduated at University of Sto Tomas with a degree in Medicine at 21 years old and also became the President of the Philippine Medical Association in 1938. He was elected in various government positions and is considered the “Father of the Filipino First” policy. His Art-Deco architectural house has 3 prominent elongated arcs in each floor facing the entrance.

Other additions are: LEANDRO DELA RAMA LOCSIN ANCESTRAL HOMEHOUSE OF RENE AND JESSICA VELEZ DIMACALI and you may visit SAN DIEGO DE ALCALA PRO-CATHEDRAL, a Romanesque design by architect Lucio Bernasconi.

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“A mind that is streched by A NEW EXPERIENCE can never go back to its old dimensions.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

 

PANAY ISLAND: Roxas City, Capiz to Aklan

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THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Roxas City is known as “The Seafood Capital of The Philippines”. It exports to neighboring countries as well.
  • Roxas City was honored by (DOH)Department of Health with the Red Orchid Award for being 100% tobacco free. The local government has managed tobacco control by enforcing bans, investing on public Education and promotion of pulmonary health.
  • It is the birthplace of the 5th President of The Philippines: Manuel Acuña Roxas.

A. La Playa de Roxas People’s Park: Located at Brgy. Baybay, Roxas City faces the Sibuyan Sea. It is one of the best place to watch sunset and sunrise while enjoying the best seafood. It is 3 kilometers away from the circle so I prefer to take a tricycle and stay at nearby accommodations for a couple of days.

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What I love the most is their open seafood foodcourt. Their Managat fish is the best. You may have it grilled or in soup in traditional “sinigang” way. Their scallops are fresh from Carles; no wonder they are huge. When I went to Islas de Gigantes, I ordered scallops (surprisingly 1 peso each) cooked in every way.

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B. Sta. Monica Church: It is popularly known as Panay Church. This stands in Capiz, which is just near Roxas City. This baroque style church is made from coral blocks and declared as a National Historic Landmark. Aside from that, the largest bell in the country is found here which weighs more than 10 tonnes!

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IMPORTANT LANDMARKS:

  • The Roxas City Hall
  • Capiz Provincial Capitol
  • Roxas City Bandstand
  • Manuel Roxas ancestral home (Rizal and Zamora Streets)
  • The monuments of Manuel Roxas and Jose Rizal across the Roxas City Museum
  • The Panubli-on Roxas City Museum
  • The Roxas City Fountain (dancing lights)
  • Immaculate Conception Cathedral located at Rizal Street
  • Roxas City Bridge (century old)/Spanish City Bridge

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HOW TO GET THERE?

  • From Iloilo City, take the Capiz bus at Ceres Bus terminal. Travel time is 3-4 hours though it is just 2 hours via van, the leg room is uncomfortable.
  • From Caticlan wharf (Boracay), get on a bus/van bound to Kalibo. From Kalibo transfer to another bus heading Roxas City. Total travel time is appromixately 4 hours.
  • From Kalibo to Roxas City vans and buses available. Travel time is 1-2 hours.
  • From Roxas City to Carles/ Islas de Gigantes is just 1.5 hours. See my other posts about the itinerary.

IMG_9676Capiz is known for Placuna Shells (Kapiz) that sounds like Capiz. These shells are edible but have been historically used as decoration for making lampshades, ornaments, windowpane, doors and substitute for glass due to its durable, shiny and elegant characterictics. The reason why I keep on coming back to this city is their OYSTER LANE. If you have been to several parts of Panay Island then you will definitely agree that they have the largest and fattest oysters in the Philippines. What’s more? They sell one bucket between 20 to 35 pesos at the most!

C. Barangay Tambak has an entire street of oyster-selling-stalls fronting the sea. Just take a jeep from Kalibo Rotonda heading New Washington. However, the easiest way is to ride a tricyle and stay overnight in one of the accommodations adjacent the seawall.

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Jackstones on Low Tide

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Jackstones on High Tide

These giant jackstones are placed by the shore to break the strong waves before they reach the sea wall. This is my view for two days across a humble abode & seafood haven. Glad to witness its low & high tide, sunrise & sunset of calm & raging water.💙

Check: PANAY ISLAND: Antique

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

-Mark Twain