Why I love my Philippines

Stuck in day to day heavy traffic, empty promises made by some pompous politicians, little income but high taxes, and  corruption are only few of the things we dislike about this country, but if there are 100 obvious reasons to hate this country I see five big reasons to love my Philippines.

#1 Waters

Philippines an archipelago made up of over 7000 islands, a home for stunning waterfalls, rivers, lakes and beaches. To name a few there is Potipot island known as the little Boracay of Zambales for it has powdery white sand and crystal blue waters. You can reach the island through a small boat in less than 10 minutes from Dawal beach. It doesn’t matter if you are just a curious tourist who wants to drop by and check how beautiful the place is or someone who is in a quest of finding oneself looking for some alone time with nature so decide to try primitive living, set up a tent and stay overnight. Surely, you will enjoy the beauty of this little island with or without accompany the way I did.

Potipot Island_WhyILovePH

Looking for a place beautifully developed; make your way to Puerto Galera white beach in Oriental Mindoro. Recognized for its wonderful diving spots fall in love with the rich life underwater or enjoy the surrounding view of lush green mountains during daytime.  Can’t stand a night without partying?  Have fun watching fire dancers doing flare routines, and enjoy conversing with friends over good drinks. How can I dare say no to this place?

If the beach doesn’t sound interesting maybe a trek to Kabigan (kaibigan = friend) waterfalls is. A 120-foot waterfall with a base forming a natural pool shape hiding deep inside the forest of Brgy. Baloi Pagudpud Ilocos Norte waiting to be discovered. On your way to the falls, you will find a river stream too! Pretty certain that it would be an alluring experience for nature junkies.

Kabigan Falls_WhyILovePH

#2 Histories

Subjugated by foreign countries hundreds of years ago Philippines is also a country rich in stories that needs to be told. Try to go anywhere and I guarantee there is an interesting story behind those big old walls. The Bantay (Bantay meaning guard.) Belfry that sits on top of a hill in Ilocos Sur for example, built in 1590, said it has served as a watchtower and was part of the city’s defense during the Spanish regime. And the grounds around the tower were believed to be the same grounds where Diego Silang with his troops fought the Spaniards centuries ago. If the tower looks familiar, that is because scenes of the movie Panday were shot there. How cool is that?

Bantay Belfry_WhyILovePH

Want to hear a folklore? Here’s the one I find lovely interesting:  The story of the star crossed lovers Marin and Duque. There’s a beautiful Princess named Marin who had many suitors including the Datus (Royal leaders.) of Camarines, Mindoro and Laguna. But Marin is in love with a modest man Duque. Despite the absolute disapproval of her father Datu Batungbakal they continued seeing each other secretly. Until the Princess decided to follow her heart and leave the royal life, she was born with. So, one night they rode a boat heading Tayabas Bay. Unfortunately, her father learned about their plan so Datu Batungbakal together with the Datus of Camarines, Mindoro and Laguna the persistent suitors of Marin sailed after the lovers. When Marin and Duque thought that they would be caught, they decided to drown themselves. Years had passed when a heart shaped land emerged from the spot where the ill-fated lovers drowned. They named the island Marinduque – the heart of the Philippines. See we have our own version of Romeo and Juliet.  

#3 People

Branded as the country of smiles, I bet it’s no news that we Filipinos are naturally… happy people (well, except for those who are having a bad day! 😛 ). Very hopeful and full of sense of humor, Filipinos can find happiness even in the most dire situation. And believe it or not we are honest people, *Laughs* this trait may be hard to see among our politicians but Filipinos are honest. Just look at the Ivantans (Locals of Batanes.) they are regarded as the epitome of honesty that means we can be as honest if we want to. Creative and hard working these are the most obvious traits we Filipinos have. One good example for me is the Burnay jar makers. They manually pedal the potter’s wheel then mold the bantog clay using their skilful hands very determined to make a beautiful piece of Burnay jar. This is hard work and creativity combined. I am honored to be a Filipino. Are you?

Pagburnayan_WhyILovePH

#4 Food

Filipino cuisine is equally rich as our history and talking about being creative earlier, that works for culinary too. Naturally gifted with wide variety of ingredients needed for cooking, Filipino food is very interesting as the flavors vary from island to island. Give your palate a treat of Ulang Ulang a native dish in Marinduque made of grated young coconut, de shelled shrimps and calamansi. It is an original recipe of Aurora Pitero mother of Rose Sotta the owner of Casa de Don Emilio a restaurant at Boac, Marinduque.

Ulang Ulang_WhyILovePH

Craving for the best Bulalo soup? Drive straight to Mahogany market in Tagaytay. You don’t have to be disappointed for not getting the view of Taal volcano from this side because eateries at Mahogany market are famous for serving the best sinful bone marrow soup that will just make other Bulalo you’ve tasted seem bland. Did this stimulate your taste buds?

Bulalo_WhyILovePH

# 5 Thrilling Adventures

Philippines do have a big room for thrill seekers too! It depends how dauntless you are but there are activities that would shake the hell out of yourselves. If cliff diving is your thing then you must have heard Imelda cave at Marcos island in Pangasinan. A twin chambered cathedral shaped cave with a natural pool said to be 70 feet deep. Climb up to the cave wearing your life vest then jump for as high as 20 feet.

Imelda Cave_WhyILovePH

Like Morroco and Dubai, we also have natural sand dunes in the country. You don’t need to travel so far for an exhilarating voyage just visit Paoay sand dunes in Ilocos Norte. Ride a 4×4 jeep, hold on tight at the steel bars, then enjoy trailing the small, medium (seems like a 45 degree) to high (what seems like a 90 degree) slope sands that would make your knees feel like jelly.

Paoay Sand Dunes_WhyILovePH

How can I not choose to love the country that has so much beautiful things to offer? It wouldn’t be called Pearl of the Orient Seas for no reason, right?

Chia

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Poctoy White Beach Marinduque

The beach! Summer vacation won’t be complete without hitting the beach. (Right?) Marinduque is a small island surrounded by waters. So unsurprisingly they have beaches to explore!

I first explored the Poctoy white beach in Torrijos. It appears famous to Marinduqueños so I have to see it for myself.

From Buenavista it took us an hour to reach Poctoy. I suggest you bring a vehicle with you. Commuting can be a hassle. I bet transportation trouble is the last thing you want to experience when on vacation.

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

The entrance fee ranges from PHP 10 to PHP 20 and cottages costs PHP 200. Budget friendly, check!

So how’s the place? Honestly it is not how I imagine it to be or maybe I did set my expectations too high.

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

When we arrived, the beach was pretty occupied with tourists enjoying the white sand and saltwater. Crowded to overcrowded is how I will describe it. I told you it is famous. Haha

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

The water is very shallow that even we walked a few meters away from the shore the water would only be as high as my knee to my waist. Although I won’t recommend that you wade farther away from the shore because there are booby traps scattered all over! What?! I mean sea urchins. There are lots of sea urchins not so far away from the shore. (Remembering it gives me goose bumps) Renting a kayak is what I would suggest so you could enjoy gallivanting through the waters. It costs PHP 150 per hour.

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

If you don’t want to pay extra you can still enjoy the waters but be careful not to step on any booby traps (I mean sea urchins) or just enjoy the sand and go sun bathing. You can also rent a videoke machine or play beach volleyball with your friends and family. (up to you!)

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

Rinsing time?(Ooops!) I don’t think the beach has a good water system yet as most of the showers were not working and comfort rooms and dressing rooms were a mess (really). What we did, we let ourselves dry a little bit and bathed when we returned to Buenavista. Good thing we brought a private vehicle thus travelling in wet clothes was not so much of a problem. (I told you so)

Exploring is a trial and error process. The more exploring the more learning and experiences gained. If it’s a good one, great! If not, charge it to experience. Stay positive and happy!

Here’s a beautiful sunset to remind me… “What a good day it has been!”.

Poctoy White Beach - ChiaChinR

Okay that’s it! In the next two weeks I’ll be posting about Pangasinan so if you haven’t been to any place yet this summer stay tuned for more ideas.

Cheers!

Chia

Wander at Boac

After the delicious lunch we get on our feet and started roaming around Boac.

Wander at Boac - ChiaChinR

First stop, the National Museum, Boac Marinduque branch. The Museum highlights artifacts discovered underwater the Gaspar site, the story of the colourful Moriones Festival, and the income generating activities of the Marinduqueños such as farming, fishing, and traditional crafts production. The museum’s entrance fee is very minimal ranging from PHP 5 to PHP 20. No budget excuse for you to miss this place. 🙂

This is “Liwasan ng Kalayaan” it serves as the replica of Casa Real Building and it is where the original Casa Real exactly stands.

Wander at Boac - ChiaChinR

Then, we went to Marinduque Expo where we enjoyed taking photos of and together with different morions – as the locals calls it.

Wander at Boac - ChiaChinR

Aside from the colourful morions, different souvenir and food stalls showcasing Marinduques pride were present inside the expo. (This is where I bought pasalubongs haha)

There was a butterfly booth where you can intermingle and take photos with the butterflies too!

And oh! Would you dare to snap a photo holding these cuties? Haha

Have I mentioned that I find Boac quite similar to Vigan. There were heritage houses, some were maintained as residences and others were transformed as commercial spaces.

The last stop was the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Boac Cathedral) and I feel blessed that we were able to hear the homily just in time when we arrived. Just by merely looking at its exterior you can tell it is history and when you get to see the interior, the word is exquisite. Mind if I tell you that this is located on top of the hill so going up is a bit of a challenge unless you are riding a vehicle. haha

Local story time: Back in the 17th century the cathedral serves as a refuge for the locals whenever Moro pirates would attempt to invade the town of Boac. In one particular attack when the forces of Marinduque defenders seemed to weaken suddenly, a powerful storm came followed by the appearance of a glowing image of a Lady. Her arms outstretched as if telling the invaders to go away. After that, the Moros fled with their sailboats. Hence, a new name for the Lady emerged as “Ina ng Biglang Awa” or the “Mother of Instant Mercy”.

That’s it for my Marinduque travel stories. Oh.. No! Wait! I seem to forget something. Oh yes, the beach experience. How can I forget? Summer won’t be complete without visiting a beach. Will talk about it next week. Promise!

xoxo

Chia

Kusina sa Plaza – Casa De Don Emilio

It was Maundy Thursday when we visited Boac and the first thing we did was to… eat! Haha of course Filipinos loves to eat. Don’t we?

This is Kusina sa Plaza, the home for traditional/authentic Marinduque cuisine. They also have the Café on the corner and a fine dining restaurant on the second floor called Casa De Don Emilio.

Kusina Sa Plaza - ChiaChinR

The place (first floor) was fully occupied when we arrived, so we decided to dine at Casa De Don Emilio. With fewer guests and classy ambiance the dining experience was relaxing. Although fine dining, the costs of their food are not pricey compared to the fine dining restaurants in Manila. Literally budget friendly at its finest!

My initial reaction when I stepped inside Casa De Don Emilio was… wow! Once again I felt like I time traveled back to the Spanish-era. Well.. Actually this is one of my favorite thing when travelling, the feeling of as if I own a time machine.

What I found distinctive about this restaurant are the titles of their menus. They have “Mga Putahe Ni Antonio” that offers yummy dishes from vegetable, seafood, beef, chicken and pork. “Mga Paborito ni Totoy at Neneng”, “Espesyal na handa ni Don Emilio” where the house specialties are listed, “Minatamis ni Aling Sayong” for desserts and beverages, and “Merienda Ni Manang Nena” for those who want to have snacks.

We ordered ulang-ulang, beef broccoli, yangchow rice, and penne seafood marinara. The food was fine. It was delicious. I loved almost everything we ordered but what I would recommend for you to try is the ulang-ulang, a soup topped with coconut meat and shrimp.

Did I boost your appetite? Great I intended to! haha

My next post would be about gallivanting around Boac.

xoxo Chia!

Loading up food after the hike

Right after the hiking activity and as it was already past lunch time we head straight to Curba Grill and Restaurant.

Located at Sitio Curba, Brgy. Uno Buenavista, it would seem like the name of the restaurant was derived from the name of its location and as it is on the curba (meaning curve) portion of the road. Also, it is on the second floor overlooking the nearby rice fields and the Curba Farm Resort. And only a few minutes away from our jump off point in Sihi.

The restaurant serves variety of Filipino dishes and with a cowboy inspired interior.

We tried their calamares, sinigang na baboy, chami, mais con hielo and ordered four cups of rice. Yep! 2 cups of rice for me and another 2 cups for bf. I told you we felt so hungry after the activity. It is the pancit chami that I would recommend if you are going to visit this restaurant. Tasty and Saucy! They said lomi is their specialty but we are not a fan of lomi so we did not try. Maybe next time.

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

Curba Grill and Restaurant-ChiaChinR

So long!

Chia♥