Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Travel Philippines: Ceres Tours Supershots from Bacolod City to San Carlos City

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

While in Bacolod City, we barely missed the 8:30am A/C bus to Dumaguete and didn't want to wait for the 11:40am bus, so we took the Ceres Tours to San Carlos City. What?! You don't know what a "Ceres Tours"is? Okay, I'm sure you are not from Negros (lol) where the bus company is so popular that "Ceres" is used by residents as a substitute for the word "bus".

Ceres Tours is the other bus line by Vallacar Transit Inc. which also owns Ceres Liner, the largest bus company in the Province of Negros. The Bacolod City - San Carlos City ply through the scenic route of Don Benedicto Salvador. It was my first bus ride in this province so I feasted on the sights for 2 1/2 hours. 

Here are some of the captures by my ever reliable Nikon point and shoot camera (through the bus glass window).  

This is the "after passing by" picture of the viewing deck for the Malatan-og Falls. I didn't see it coming  so I wasn't ready with my shutter.

I spotted the welcome sign for the La Vista Resort Ultimate High Adventure. La Vista is a small deluxe resort in a spectacular setting with a nice view and intimate and friendly atmosphere in Brgy. Prosperidad, San Carlos City.

The scene is truly breathtaking!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Trail: Paco Park

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
Date: May 8, 2012
Location: San Marcelino and General Luna Streets , Paco, Manila
Rizal @ 150 Stamp No. 10 - Paco Cemetery 
Rizal's remains were secretly interred in the Paco Cemetery. They were guarded for fifteen days by the Guardia Civil Veterana. His remains were exhumed on August 17, 1898, placed in an urn and deposited in the Rizal Residence in Estrada Street, Manila. 

Paco Park housed a recreational garden  consisting of 4,114.80 square meter and a circular shaped- Roman Catholic chapel dedicated to St. PancratiusThe park is open Monday to Sunday (except on Wednesday) from 8:00AM to 5:00PM and every Friday by sunset and made popular by the weekly evening of classical and traditional Filipino music performances called "Paco Park Presents".
So who would have thought that this park which is now a popular venue for garden-like weddings and receptions, was the original municipal cemetery with the niches placed within its hollow walls? Yes. The Park was built in 1822 as a cemetery for the most wealthy families in the district of Dilao (former name for Paco). It had been the burial ground for several generations and descendants of those who were buried in the park until 1912 when the burial and interment ceased and had the remains of their ancestors transferred. 
On December 30, 1896, Dr. Jose P. Rizal's remains were secretly  interred at Paco Park after his execution at Bagumbayan. They were guarded for fifteen days by the Guardia Civil Veterana. His sister Narcisa discovered the grave and marked it with marble plaque with Rizal's initials in reverse. His remains were retrieved and exhumed on August 17, 1898, placed in an urn and deposited in the Rizal Residence in Estrada Street, Manila.  On December 30, 1912, our national hero's remains were re-interred at the Rizal Monument.
Aside from being a cemetery, Paco Park served also as a central supply and ammunition depot for the Japanese forces during World War II. The high thick adobe walls around the park were ideal for defensive positions of the Japanese against the United States Army and Philippine Commonwealth Army. 
After the war, Paco Park was slowly restored and remained since then as a public park and promenade. In 1966 during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal, it was converted into a national park but only in 1998 that Paco Park Presents concerts commenced as part of the celebration of Philippine-German month.

P.S. Kuya Mike visited Paco Park on May 17, 2012 and got his stamp on May 23, 2012.

Monday, May 21, 2012


by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

inside Ceres Bus from Bacolod City to San Carlos City and hop to Sipaway Island
UBIQUITOUS.(being everywhere at the same time. ever-present. frequent. constant. widespread.) Just like this ubiquitous indian mango that I enjoyed eating during the Iloilo-Bacolod City-San Carlos City - Sipaway Island - Dumaguete City - Siquijor - Sibulan - Liloan - Cebu City - Mactan bus and ferry series of trips last May 17-21, 2012, I can be everywhere at the same time (at least that's how my clients think) since July 2009. Well, the law firm where I am one of the two senior partners is based in Ortigas Center, Pasig and I still consider my house in Valenzuela City as my home office, but I can be anywhere else on a whim and still be able to assist and respond to clients (as long as there is wifi or internet signal for my Globe and Smart broadband sticks). I guess this is the beauty of being a location independent lawyer and having a location independent lifestyle.
to Sipaway Island but well equipped with hp mini, external hard drive, broadbands and kindle touch  inside this huge red bag

*This is part of a series of 2012 Monday post inspired by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant's Stop DoingStart Being article on Family Circle Magazine April 1, 2005 issue. What she said about having so many "to-do" list and trying hard everyday to check off the list hit so close to home! I agree with her that what I need is a list to help me be who I want to be, both for myself and others. Click on START BEING Monday Series to see other list of cool virtues we could emulate!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Travel Philippines 2012: Take 4 in Bacolod City

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
 As a jump off point for our bus travel to other cities and towns of the Province of Negros Occidental, the Sugarbowl of  the Philippines, I decided to be in Bacolod City for the night last May 17, 2012.  I have been in the City of Smiles for many business travels and have seen much of its tourist spots so the only reason I chose to stay here over Iloilo City was to meet up with friends. Unfortunately, I met none of them coz of conflict of schedules. So you guess I was bored and sulking? wrong
I was still all smiles and did my usual TAKE 4 having chosen  Saltimboca Tourist Inn ( Address15th / 17th Lacson Street, Bacolod City, Tel No. 4323617/4321145/4323179for our accommodation. (Thanks to co-PTB Izah Morales blog post). For only Php 900 a night (with a key deposit of Php 200 refundable at checkout), we were surprisingly able to have Room D - Poolside with two single beds, A/C room with  cable tv,  hot and cold shower, towels, soap and tissue. The room accommodation also includes free use of swimming pool, breakfast for two (either continental or Filipino breakfast) and free wifi!!! 
Take a dip at its swimming pool was the first thing we did when we arrived at around 3 in the afternoon. It was a refreshing thing to know that our "cheap" accommodation even comes with this little luxury, perfect for cooling off after a not-so-fun ferry ride with Weesam Express, whose business class seems like being in a sweat shop. Now I thought about the economy class and how much ordeal they have to endure for an hour!
Ambiance is delightful in this charming little abode with its gazebo, birds nest, and a  garden leading to our room by the pool side. The location of our room affords us a quiet stay, perfect for the zzzz we were hoping to have after an early flight at 4:40am and being at the airport without any sleep.
Kick the night away with their KTV Rooms and Music Bar! Well we didn't actually go because we fell asleep while waiting for our room service dinner, the reason why I didn't touch my order of baby back ribs haha. The swimming tired me good and so sleeping was in order! 
Eating is more fun in Saltimboca Inn with its free breakfast (continental or Filipino) which can be served in its resto with wifi access or in the comfort of your room.I got chorizo  pudpud and my brother ordered bangus. For an additional fee of Php 60 for reheating our left over of sinigang na bangus and baby back ribs that night.
Well of course this is my TAKE 4 in Bacolod City just because I have already seen its many places of interest. But if it is your first time in this lovely city, go see its many famous attractions! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Travel Philippines 2012: TAKE 4 in Iloilo City

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Iloilo is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas subdivided into 42 municipalities, one component city and one highly urbanized city. Although independent from the Province of Iloilo, the provincial capital remains  to be Iloilo City which is a useful transit point for Guimaras Island and other Visayan islands.
We were in Iloilo City from 6am to 1:10pm last May 17, 2012 and here's my TAKE 4 in this economic hub, cultural and heritage center aside from doing the Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Pilgrimage Trail.
Take the Cultural & Heritage Center (Spanish-American Tour) which includes a visit to 9 sites that highlights Iloilo City's ancient and historical heritage as a prominent place hosting the religious-political power of the Spanish Authority during the colonial period. The Molo Church, Jaro Cathedral/Belfry, Sinamay House, Philippine -American Cemetery and other colonial homes of sugar barons and mooch highlights this tour. If you still have the time to wander around, check on Maragtas (Historical Landmarks) and Maricudo (Historical Educational Institutions) Tours. Just don't forget to take brochures while at the Iloilo Airport. 
Award the Franklin S. Richards Pro Bono Service Award to recipient Atty. Benjamin Candari, Jr. from Bacolod City who happens to be in Iloilo City while I was there. He contacted some J.Reuben Clark Law Society - Philippines Chapter members - Provincial Prosecutor Virgilio Garcia and Chris Barredo for a meet - up. It was a great meeting!!
Kick-start your Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Pilgrimage Trail (with side trips) just like what I did by flying from Manila to Iloilo City thru its new airport to check off No. 17 - Molo Church (St. Anne's Parish) and Escolta then take one of the many ferries bound to Bacolod City where you can take a Ceres bus bound for No. 18 - Dumaguete City (or stay first in San Carlos City and swing by Sipaway Island for some cool swimming)  then hop on board a ferry from Sibulan, Negros Occidental to Liloan Cebu. Finally a three hour bus ride to Cebu City to check off No. 19 - Fort San Pedro before flying back to Manila.
Enjoy  Iloilo's delights  like La Paz Batchoy and Pancit Molo or just have lunch in one of its many restaurants like Ocean City Restaurant and satisfy your gastronomic pleasures. Take home some pasalubong like galletas and muscovado sugar or its Dinagyang shirt.
Well no matter how long or short you are in Iloilo, you will surely be able to have a TAKE 4 experience to your liking.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lakbay Rizal @ 150: Molo Church in Iloilo

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Date: May 17, 2012
Location: Jocson and San Marcos Streets, Molo District, Iloilo City
Rizal @ 150 Stamp:  No. 17 - Molo Church (St. Anne's Parish) and Escolta
Rizal's boat, the S.S. Espana from Dapitan arrived at Iloilo where he had the chance to visit Escolta and the Church of Molo. 

Finally, my brother Joel and I (minus Kuya Mike) were in Iloilo yesterday for the Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail after a cancellation (without a refundof our Cebu Pacific flights Manila- Iloilo-Dumaguete-Cebu-Manila segments last February 1-7, 2012. It was blessings in disguise coz there was an earthquake then in Dumaguete.
Pre-national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal visited this astonishing Baroque architectural church on his way to Manila from exile in Dapitan last August 4, 1886 (Tuesday). Like Dr. Rizal who exclaimed "La iglesia bonita!"(pretty church) upon seeing this landmark built in 1831, we too were impressed by its size and beauty from  the outside in.
As a national landmark since 1992, the Molo Church is a reflection of the dominant Catholic influence among the Ilonggos. It resembles their deep spirituality as well as its enduring legacy of majestic artistry as shown by its spires, two belfries which had  around 30 bells of different sizes and its two pointed towers and pointed arches at the main altar.
Dr. Rizal described in his diary "The church is pretty and the interior is not bad, considering that it had been painted by a lad. The paintings are mostly copies of biblical scenes by Gustave Doré".  
The Church is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Blessed Virgin Mary (who co-incidentally were the two female saints from whom my parents coined my name Mary Ann). Interestingly, 16 images of female saints stand on each pillar. This is aptly called a "women's church". 

We walked to Panciteria de Molo which is a few meters away from Molo Church to get another stamp on our Rizal @ 150 Passport!

There were two old ladies there who accommodated us that early morning. We bought galletas (Php 120) as our pasalubong and token of appreciation for their nice gesture
And like our national hero, we maximized our short stay in Iloilo by doing the TAKE 4 from 6am to 1pm and boarding the Weesam Express (Php 330 each business class) bound for Bacolod City at 1:10 p.m. to hop on to our next stop -  Dumaguete - No. 18 on the Rizal @ 150 Passport.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Travel Philippines: Lots of Firsts Today

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I made sure I could fit in my busy schedule a trip to Iloilo-Dumaguete-Cebu to finish off my Jose Rizal @150 Passport Heritage Trail with my brother Joel. I booked my ticket just a week ago so I was surprised I still got a reasonable tickets courtesy of Air Phil Express. It was my first time with Airphil and it was uneventful.
I was impressed with the Iloilo Airport. It was my first time there, coz the last time I was in this province I flew in through the old, small airport in Mandurriao. The airport is huge, clean and with a tourism information desks full of helpful brochures. My brother and I spent sometime reading the pamphlets before going out of the airport.
Outside, we boarded a van headed for SM City in Molo Iloilo that cost us Php 60. We added Php 10 each so the driver can bring us directly to the Molo Church where we needed to be for the Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail. We also got ourselves a Dinagyang shirt, first time to have one although I frequented Iloilo years back.
Earlier though, I was wearing this shirt "i'm smart that's why i'm single" (lol). This shirt resurfaced while I was doing last minute packing so I decided I'll wear it for the trip. Those who have read my mid April crisis post would know that this is my first month after the beautiful 5-year relationship ended, and just co-incidentally that a shirt is expressing my real status (swallow *). But this is not to say everything is over. I loved the guy and still do...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Travel Memories: My 7 Super Shots...

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I am a self-confessed shutter bug (referred to by wikipedia  as an avid hobbyist in the field of amateur photography). As such I take delight in taking photographs of everyday life and common things as subjects during travel and vacation. I often found my photos unintentionally artistic and tell of many wonderful stories which deserves a National Geographic spotlight but didn't and it will still take a long shot before that happens (lol)! Well, there's no reason to sulk since I was tagged in this Hostelbookers 7 Super Shots game by an accomplished Engineer and co-Pinoy Travel Blogger, Bonzenti Panganiban of ConTour Blogwhere I get to share  7 photos that fit with the below categories! 

Here are my 7 Super Shots...

(1) Photo That Takes My Breath Away                              Related Blog Post: Seeing Sydney Opera House From Every Angle

The Opera House in Sydney, Australia from the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Literally, I sang Tom Cruise movie "Top Gun" theme song "Take my Breath Away" when I went up to the 200 stairs, 87 meters above sea level Pylon Lookout of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to capture this dramatic scene. But the drama didn't stop there! The Sydney Opera House, Australia's most recognizable and most photographed structure stood out amidst the fantastic view of the city, blue skyline, blue water of the Harbour, and this ship sailing along this world famous Australian icon whose roof is evocative of a ship at full sail - designed by renowed Danish architect - Jorn Utzon.

(2) Photo That Makes Me Dream                                       Related Blog Post: Hershey, Pennsylvania USA

"Luxury Begins With A Single Dream"-captioned by Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
During the 60 minutes Trolley Tour of Hershey Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania, I had a sweet education of Hersheys’ legacy and the inspiring story of Milton Hershey and his model town captured in this photo. A delight of my sweet tooth in this so - called "sweetest place of earth" led to my dreamy spell of making a fortune in the chocolate industry or just indulging in an abundance of my favorite uber sweet hugs and kisses ...chocolates

(3) Photo That Makes Me Think                                            
Related Blog Post: Hanging In Singapore Via Singapore Flyer: A One-Of -A-Kind Experience
"Taking Steps Towards Progress"- captioned by Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
While inside the 42-storey high wheel capsule called "Singapore Flyer", I was treated to a 360° visual feast of iconic and historical landmarks of Singapore at every turn, which tells me that Singapore is indeed a progressive country! It made me think of the possible steps we could lessen the heavy traffic jam and our dirty bays and water ways which hinder our country's progress.

(4) Photo That Makes Me Laugh (Smile)                        Related Blog Post: UK Winter 2012: Take 4 in Lincoln, England

"The Lincoln Imp sits immediately above the lighted bearded broken man's head in the spandrel of the arches." 

This photo always make me laugh as it reminds me of the earliest flying buttresses and gargoyle in the City of Lincoln, England named Lincoln Imp inside the Lincoln Cathedral. According to a 14th-century legend, two mischievous creatures called imps were sent by Satan to do evil work on Earth. While inside the Lincoln Cathedral, they smashed tables and chairs and tripped up the Bishop. When an angel came out of a book of hymns and told them to stop, one of the imps was brave and started throwing rocks at the angel but the other imp covered under the broken tables and chairs. The angel turned the first imp to stone giving the second imp a chance to escape." Lesson learned, don't be mischievous!

(5) Photo That Makes My Mouth Water                    Related Blog Post: Travel Memories Part II Fun In The Sun 

"Mountain High Eats" - captioned by Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I am a picky eater and so for those times I don't feel like eating, I just look at this picture for a tasty solution! This was taken at a Sundeck resto atop Aspen Mountain in Aspen Colorado (USA) where I enjoyed a hearty meal while having spectacular views of the mountain. Natures at its best truly makes my mouth water!

(6) Photo That Tells A Story                                               Related Blog Post: US Summer 2011: Retracing Rizal's Travel In the East Coast

You can see and feel the power of the Niagara Falls  in this photo I took during the half - hour scenic Maid of the Mist boat tour. The titanic size and majestic cascades of the pounding waters of this world-renowned collective waterfalls - American Falls, Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls tell a story of its beauty and its valuable source of hydroelectric power for two great nations - Canada and the United States!

(7) Photo That I Am Most Proud Of (a.k.a my worthy of National Geographic shot)                                                Related Blog Post: US Summer 2011: Paradisiacal Maroon Bells 

Most Photographed Maroon Bells consists of two fourteeners (over 14,000 feet ) Peaks 

To me a  postcard perfect photo is one that captures the three elements of sky, water and land! And I believe I have achieved that in this photo of the beautiful but deadly Maroon Bells in Snowmass (near Aspen) Colorado (USA)! The  sunny sky, craggy bells, lakes, wildflowers and meadows blended so well that even an amateur photographer like me have easily snapped tons of  worthy of National Geographic shots!                                    

With the honor of being tagged in this travel worthy game, is an equal honor to nominate five (5) of my Pinoy Travel Blogger friends to do their seven (7) Super Shots...

(1) Another shutterbug, wordsmith and wayfarer Ms. Rain Amantiad
(2)  The Backpackman himself, Anciro C. Romana

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