Monday, February 22, 2010

Manaoag to Baguio City

Went out yesterday for a quick road trip commute to Manaoag City with Roshie's friends. We left early morning from the bus terminal of Viron Transit in Blumentritt corner Dapitan in Sampaloc, Manila where we hailed a bus direct to Manaoag that took around 4 hours to travel more or less 200kms north of Manila. Our main destination is to go to Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario de Manaoag (Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag) and the good thing with the bus trips it is along the way on their routes so you can get off just across the street from the church.

A shrine containing a 17th century image of Virgin Mary is the main attraction for the devotees to come here.

People from all walks of life and from different parts of the country come here every day and most specially on the third Sunday after Easter when a feast is celebrated on her honor, as the patron of the sick, needy and helpless. It is a common belief among devotees that the image is miraculous and many devotees light candles as a symbol of their prayers.

melting candle

an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the candle area

After we heard mass, lighted candles and said our prayers, it was decided (impromptu) by the group that we go to Baguio for an overnight stay. 2 hours of sitting in a van (on reckless driving) and we were already on Baguio Ciy. We stayed at La Brea Inn located along Session road, which is a good jumping point for us to travel around the city since we don't have our own car.

We haggled and got our room for PHP1000 for 1 night stay. The room has 2 queen beds (since we were four), hot and cold shower, cable television but no aircon since it is not a necessity as Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines after all and is colder than Manila year-round.

We didn't do much since all of us have been to Baguio City before but just to rest in our room and stroll around the park. That night, we went to church to hear mass (anticipated) in Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral or fondly known locally as the Baguio Cathedral few steps away as we walk upward Session road.

inside the church during mass

The night was capped off by a dinner at the eateries at Burnham Park whom mostly offers freshly grilled meat and seafoods. Perfect for the cold weather!

Earlier today we went to the market to buy some stuffs to take home and left for Manila right after lunch time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Going around Cebu

I just got home tonight from a 3-day official business trip in the wonderful province of Cebu. The trip is for our company offsite and I've been to Cebu numerous times, all of which are business trips (customer meetings, presentations, etc.), except last year when I came with friends for the Sinulog Festival 2009.

Our group stayed in Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, a resort I've been to in 2007 and raved about in a blog post before. This time my room, being shared with a friend and officemate, is a Superior Garden Room located at the main wing.

And just like before, they still have a fresh ripe mango fruit welcome basket for guests.

The room has a balcony, which is a perfect addition to the rool to chill out and let your mind wander off stress from work.

view from the balcony

Because our flight was early, we were already in the airport at the wee hours of twilight. Generally we were very hungry come lunch time as we feast on sumptuous dishes served buffet-style in Tides, an in-house restaurant located at the main wing.

my food! yum!

The rest of the day was spent on internal meetings and I'm not in the position to disclose what happened.

Early on the next day (day 2) however, I strolled around the pool and beachfront area after having breakfast in Acqua, the restaurant located in the ocean wing.

The place never fails to amaze me. It is so inviting that right there and then, I wanted to take a dip and relax. However, we have activities lined up for that day so I can just help but dream.

The pool area is so nice and calm, and the surrounding view is really serene. Add to it that there were not a lot of guests at that time. It really was teasing me to give in.

The beachfront area! A stretch of white sand beach and a line of beach hut umbrellas were waiting for guests!

Rest of day again was spent over official business, including some water activities. That night, the group went to the city for some drinks and party at a local bar. That was the end of the official trip for the next day (day 3), majority of the group will be flying out.

Day 3. Today, while some others arranged to fly out in the morning, a group of photo enthusiasts were left in the city and arranged to fly that night instead. The plan is to go around the city and take some pictures.

Our first stop was at Lapu-lapu Shrine, located in Mactan island (same where Shangri-La is) and where a 20-meter bronze statue of a local hero, Lapu-lapu, stands proud. The status was to commemorate this datu (village head) who lead a group that fought against and killed Ferdinand Magellan in the Battle of Mactan on 1521.

Nearby, a memorial tower was erected in honor of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

a nearby hut

A tablet marker stands nearby describing the place to be the site of the Battle of Mactan. Behind is a mural painting of the encounter.

a closer look

Then we drove off (via a rented van) to the Taoist Temple, located at mainland Cebu City.

The temple was built in 1972 and is open to public, with some restrictions. As we are not practicing the belief, we were advised upon entry on the restrictions and that we respect the sanctity of the place.

railings and tower


The temple is located around 300 meters above sea level

stone lion

The temple architecture is amazing! Even minute details such as the roofing and designs were carefully planned and executed.

And the place is very colorful. Striking red and green blends well with its natural surroundings.


stairs to the top

another view of the temple

We then headed for a quick lunch and proceeded to Magellan's Cross. A cross planted when Spanish colonizers arrived in 1521 is now housed in this small chapel located nearby the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño.

Inside, one will find the wooden enclosure where the original cross was put inside. The enclosure was put to protect the cross from people who take bits and pieces of the original cross in a belief that it is miraculous. The painting on the ceiling depicts the arrival of Magellan in the island.


Then we walked towards Colegio del Sto. Niño en route to the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño.

Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño is a church built in 1739, in replacement of an old one, build on the location where locals found a sculpture of the Child Jesus kept on a wooden box.

inside the church

the altar

Walking around the basilica, you may pass by a small museum showcasing old religious articacts or walk around and notice the old-century charm of the place.

vendors selling candles for prayer offerings

Lastly, we headed to Fort de San Pedro, but as we parked, I saw that is very nearby Malacañang sa Sugbo and took a picture. Malacañang sa Sugbo is the official residence of the President of the Philippines in the region which was built in 1910 and previously was a Bureau of Customs office.

Fort de San Pedro is a fortress built during Spanish regime era of 1738 for defense against Muslim raiders. Entrance fees to the fort is PHP21 for adults and PHP13 for children.

logo engraved in stone at the entrance of the fortress

The place is famous for locals to relax and hang-out (or even have concentration as what this painter is doing). For visitors of the city, they come here for the historic value and the remaining traces of the Spanish colonization period.

Here are just some of the pictures taken inside the fortress:

Here in the fort, we arrange for some photoshoot among the group also, with the focus on lighting basics workshop. Here are just some shots tooked for myself..

.. and some sample shots with a model.

This was the end as I had to head back to the airport late that afternoon to catch a flight. This has been an eye-opener experience for me as I've been to the city for years but never been to these places before. Next time, I'd be more vigilant. For all I know, there are still things I didn't even know from my home town yet!