Jan 8, 2012 - Festivals    No Comments

Experience the Grand Celebration of Sinulog Festival

Images of the picturesque Sinulog Festival backfire to cognizance of my quickened steps as a small child of ten, the time we entered the Basilica gates of Cebu and paid decent sum for the candle pedlar’s revered chanting and dancing in solo: A lighted candle raised and waved above her as we faded along with hundreds of devotees still on their way in a long line to see the image of child Jesus encased in a glass housing. Recently, I unearthed some facts over an online travel guide that the dance ritual memorialize the “Cebuano people’s pagan root and their acceptation of Roman Catholicism.” I once thought of those parades and processions or those heavy lines of the devout as plain attractors drawing people closer to the developing tourism of the city, only to dig up historical and religious significance that makes up of its grandeur and reputation to be among the visited and most colorful festivals celebrated in the Philippine Islands.

Sinulog Festival

Sinulog Festival—Photo courtesy of Sinulog_Festival on flickr

The word Sinulog originates from a Cebuano adverb “sulog” which means “water current movement,” describes the forward-backward motion of the Sinulog dance. I recall the candle vendors then, with clarity now that theirs was a way to preserve tradition too, tracing back origins of pagan accounts, the time when the aforementioned dance steps was a way to please the Anitos (icon of worship). Read more »

Nov 1, 2011 - Food    No Comments

Ten Best-loved Visayan Delicacies

My drinking days are also filled with bright imaginings of exotic goodies whenever a beer bottle is knocked down over the table at hangover mornings or while the rounded shot-glass is filled with rum or gin at night spots with drinking buddies; chances are, illusions of the best dishes to lavish at drinking sessions found in the provinces deserve a little nostalgia: rice beetles, woodworms, field mice—to name a few—stingray and eel specialties which are likely found in restaurants of the coastal areas in Mindanao and Visayas add up taunt to the palate as grilled meat aroma teases my nose in the city’s street side joints. But whenever the belly calls for something finer, or a glass of bahalina starts me to crave for a delightful Visayan delicacies, I easily unscrew my pen and crush bulleted texts of my notes and start wheeling to the market where every ingredient is choicest for Asian cooking.

Sinugba

Sinugba

Fish meat is surely an attraction when grilled and simply laid in a plate over the veranda’s folding table. Whenever fish is mentioned in Visayas and most portions of Mindanao, kinilaw comes so alive a delicacy. It is usually made of raw tuna meat (malasugue or yellow fin) spiced with red onions, lemon, minced ginger, vinegar or coconut toddy; salt and a touch of umami taste to season. In Northern Mindanao and Camiguin suha (lime) and tabon-tabon are added to the dish which is not common to the rest of the regions preparing the same, added with hot chillies to spice up the treat. It is best with cold beer, hard liquor chased down by soda, or the socialite’s selection of white wine. But I prefer it with a well-aged bahalina. Read more »

Oct 31, 2011 - Ilocos    No Comments

Experience the Charming Beauty of Vigan

Some other things aside from elegant tropical resorts, nightlife, and rural escapes, the Philippines too treasures a rich heritage that makes it a notable “pearl of the orient” in years past. Its colonial history which influenced a lot of what it is today not only remain as leftovers of the then struggling revolution, but also as an artifact of western cultural and religious fusion in all aspects of human activity in the archipelago. Just by strolling around municipalities, towns, or even cities, the colonial architecture is much represented by ancestral houses although some are poorly maintained to dilapidation. But 400 kilometers from Manila, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vigan remains uniquely preserved.

Vigan

Old houses in Vigan—Photo courtesy of jcbacolores on Flickr

Being the Capital of Ilocos Sur and was established in the 16th century, Vigan showcases precious remnants of old Spanish architecture. It is also the best-preserved Spanish colonial town in Asia with a unique European atmosphere and the oldest surviving colonial city in the Philippines. Read more »

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