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Showing posts with the label Philippines

The School on the Hill

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It was after lunch when we decided to go and give school supplies to the children at an elementary school in the hills of Mararison Island. The climb was difficult under the sweltering heat but this view of the Antique coastline was well worth it. We hired an enthusiastic guide who made sure we saw as much of the natural beauty of the hills as we possibly could and in the safest manner. She also helped us carry some of the school supplies we prepared for the children.  The elementary school used to be by the beach until a typhoon devastated the island and destroyed the classrooms. The school was then rebuilt on top of the hill. There are concrete stairs to get there which are easy on young legs. We opted to take the unpaved trail lined with roots of overhanging trees because it was an easier climb but treacherous when wet. The trees provided shade from the heat.

There are less than a hundred students at the school. Only a few kids were at school on the day we visited as some of the chil…

Boracay Rejuvenated

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White Beach Two days prior to the scheduled reopening of Boracay, we had the chance to take a day trip to what was hailed as the best island in the world for 2016 by Condé Nast's Readers Choice Awards. And we found this beautiful stretch of powdery white sand with nary a sunbather.
The island had been closed to tourists since April 2018 after the President of the Philippines remarked that it had become a “cesspool”. Unchecked growth and the 1.7 million visitors annually had left environmental damage to the tiny island. Nearly 6 months after the closure, Boracay was getting ready to receive visitors again.
We took an electric tricycle from the jetty through dusty backroads to get to a drop off point close to White Beach. These e-trikes are a welcome addition to island transportation.     
White Beach It was nice to see White Beach free of stalls and vendors. We weren't allowed to eat nor drink on the beach. So we sat under the shade of these palm trees and stared out to sea, took oc…

The Season for Sea and Seafood*

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Beyond the sea-to-table cuisine that Capiz is famous for, the province serves a plateful of surprises to feed your wanderlust.

Gugma Beach Aptly named Gugma (Love), this off the grid stretch of warm grey sand in Sapian ticks all the right boxes for a splashing good time with its expansive views of the coastline and striking rock formations by the shore.


The White Sand Beaches of Ivisan Speaking of beaches, the town of Ivisan has fine white sand beaches bordered by palm trees. The laid-back vibe of Basiao, Ayagao and Patio beaches will please the consummate beachgoer. Pumpboats are available to explore the tiny shoreline of Maba-ay Island, just minutes from Basiao beach.

Ruins of Railway Bridge Once upon a time, there was a railroad connecting Capiz and Iloilo. Buses eventually replaced the trains which were finally put to bed in 1985. There are remnants of the supporting approach to a railway bridge in Dao, about thirty minutes from Roxas City. Hardwood pylons cut dramatically across the f…

When to go to Malumpati Cold Spring

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There are so many exceptional beaches and swimming holes in and around Panay Island but I had never been to Malumpati Cold Spring in Antique. After checking out the attractions of Jawili in Aklan, we drove to Pandan which is a short distance from the border of Aklan province.
Everyone had the same idea as we did. Malumpati was insanely crowded. Summer break was well on its way and families were in the know where to cool down. Who can resist turquoise waters on a sweltering day?
I was naive to expect tranquil surroundings. I did find a little piece of heaven on the other side of the bridge that is enveloped by overgrown trees with hints of caves and my mind's idea of an idyllic day by the water. But it is not accessible to the public. Summer is not the best time to visit Malumpati nor weekends. I'll go back another day. Make that a weekday.

There's a minimal entrance fee to Malumpati Cold Spring. We paid 50 pesos for parking. There are people at the parking lot who say they…

The Hidden Charms of Aklan

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Aklan has many attractions that tourists miss when they head straightaway to Boracay from the Kalibo International Airport. Lambingan Beach is just a few minutes down the road from the airport and the perfect spot to celebrate the blue hour. Or meet locals frolicking on the beach.

Tinago Lake in Batan is aptly named. Tinago means hidden and this lake is well hidden except to those who seek off the grid paths. We met two other visitors when we were in Tinago. It was easy to appreciate the expanse of lake and sky and harness the #bluemind in tranquil surroundings.

I enjoy shopping for pottery in this village because the prices are reasonable and the stall owners are open to bargaining and will even give an extra planter or two if you purchase a lot of pottery. Bayangan means "potter's wheel" and Lezo is the pottery capital of Aklan.

St. Isidore the Farmer Church is right next to the pottery market. It has served the parish community since 1910.

The cool plunge pools at Jawili …

The Enchanting Islands of Concepcion

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The Concepcion group of islands is located east of Panay Island in the Visayan Sea. These 17 islands are part of the Municipality of Concepcion in the province of Iloilo. 

The sandbar on Bulobadiangan Island stretches across the sea toward Igbon Island. These islands have so far escaped the throng of sun worshippers. It was our only stop during our visit because Agho Island which is known for its white sand beach, was closed to visitors at the time and no one at the Tourism office knew when it would reopen. There is a P25 entrance fee per person to get off at Bulobadiangan and we had to bring our own food which one of the residents prepared for us for a P150 cooking fee. Cold drinks are available on the island.

Danao Island with its white sand beach looks inviting from the shores of Bulobadiangan. 
The peak of Mount Manaphag or Sugarloaf Mountain towers over Pan de Azucar Island and can be seen from the mainland. Pan de Azucar is the largest island in the group. Mountain climbing enthusi…

8 Heritage Houses of Iloilo

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The province of Iloilo on the island of Panay has a rich trove of heritage houses, left over from the sugar industry boom in the 19th century. Iloilo also had the largest port in the Philippines at that time which facilitated the export of sugar to foreign shores and deposited money in the hands of the sugar barons. The barons dropped their earnings into the acquisition of properties in Negros and the construction of beautiful homes in Iloilo, many of which are located in the vicinity of the Jaro Cathedral.

The Lizares Mansion was built in 1937 by Don Emiliano Lizares for his wife, Concepcion Gamboa and five children. The family fled to safety when World War II broke out and the house was occupied by the Japanese military. The family returned to the house after the war but left once again after the demise of Don Emiliano. It was sold to the Dominican order in the 1960s and was converted in 1978 to a private school, Angelicum School. The mansion now houses the chapel. Andres Luna San Pe…

Historical Churches of Iloilo

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The Miag-ao Church is a Unesco World Heritage Site together with three other colonial Baroque churches under the collective title, Baroque Churches of the Philippines. Please follow this link for my article on Miagao Church: 
https://travelswithcharie.blogspot.com/2014/03/miag-ao-church.html

The two belltowers are of unequal height and served as watchtowers following Islamic invasions in 1741 and 1754.
The gold-plated retablo is the original altar used in the late 1700s and was found during excavations in 1982. A fire had ravaged the church in 1910 and it was believed the retablo had been razed as well. 
Guimbal Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It was built in 1774 and restored twice, once after World War II and after the earthquake of 1948 which also destroyed the Jaro Cathedral.
The Romanesque inspired walls of Guimbal Church have withstood the ravages of time.
The Molo Church is called the "feminist" church for the 16 statues of female saints on each sid…