Tuesday, January 29, 2013

birthday boy

Guess who else celebrated his birthday this month?

The festivities lasted an entire week. He started with Kalibo's Ati-atihan on 18 January 2013.

For three days, he shook his booty.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Five things that I was grateful for yesterday:

1. Good health and good weather. I've learned to not take them for granted.

2. That the stock market was closed and I didn't have to watch $AAPL circle the drain. Oh, I still believe in Tim Cook. I just wish more people did. That's the company's problem right now, in a nutshell.

3. That my beloved Harman Kardon worked perfectly. Thank you, Mr. DJ and Wikireena!

Friday, January 18, 2013

paoay church, ilocos norte

Mention "Ilocos" and I immediately think of Paoay Church. Iconic is an understatement.

I had been here before, but that was when my trusty Panasonic Lumix LX3 had not yet entered my life. I was extremely grateful to have a second chance to shoot this UNESCO World Heritage Site. I must say that the recent landscaping efforts have really brightened up the place.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

ilocos 2013: day four

Warning: This blog post is very long and has lots of photos. Our last day of sightseeing in Ilocos was jam-packed. Plus we ate like there was no tomorrow.

Our first stop after checking out of Saud Beach Resort in Pagudpud was the Bangui Valley observation deck. It was a bit hazy and there were electric cables everywhere, but it was still quite beautiful. We couldn't see all 20 windmills, though, unlike in 2009 when I was standing right next to one and had an unobstructed view of the entire beach.

I decided against going down to meet the windmills face-to-face this time because we had to reach the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation before it got too hot. And boy, was it a hot day.

It was my first time at Kapurpurawan and the alien landscape was truly stunning. It's an easy walk along a concrete pathway or you could ride a pony.

The front, or the side that one sees first, has been roped off, but you can still climb up the back. It's slippery in some places and it was just scorching, so we didn't stay long. I wonder how it looks at sunset.

We were told that they're erecting 40 windmills in this area very soon. I'm all for clean energy and I hope they do it right. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ilocos 2013: day three

The next day, 7 January 2013, we went to Pagudpud. The plan was to stay the night so that the Australian Holleros could enjoy the beach.

(In 2009, I chose to stay longer in Vigan instead of Pagudpud because I felt that there was more stuff to see, do and eat in Vigan. But that's just me.)

After breakfast at Palacio de Laoag Hotel, we packed all our stuff up and drove north. Actually, if I had a Tupperware container handy, I would have brought along the imbaliktad to knosh on.

Imbaliktad literally means "just turned over".  Often described as half-cooked beef, goat or carabao meat.

Our first stop was the salt-maker in the small town of Pasuquin. I always thought that salt was made by drying brine in the sun, but here it's boiled down using rice husks for fuel.

A round-the-clock steam bath for the workers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

santa maria church, ilocos sur

There are eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. The Tubbataha Reef. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. The historic town of Vigan. The rice terraces of the Cordilleras. And four Baroque churches: San Agustin in Manila, Miag-ao in Iloilo, Paoay in Ilocos Norte, and this one.

Finally, I can say that I've been to all of them.

Dizizit! Iglesia de Señora de la Asuncion, a.k.a. Santa Maria Church, in Ilocos Sur.

After lunch at Café Bigaa in Vigan, we drove south to the municipality of Santa Maria, one hour away. The church is on top of a hill. There are many, many steps to climb.

We didn't really feel like all that exercise after our post-meal nap in the van, so our driver very kindly dropped us off right at the church's back door.

Monday, January 14, 2013

ilocos 2013: day two

Our hotel, Palacio De Laoag, suggested an itinerary which entailed being on the road promptly at 7AM every day.

Uh, no way. Some major tweaking was in order.

This is what our second day looked like, revised:

I would not have thought that it was possible to tour Vigan in just one day-- last time we stayed overnight-- but our time was very limited. So we ended up skipping the recommended museums and shrines, simply because there wasn't enough to visit them and still have delightful, leisurely meals.

And y'all know how important mealtimes are to me.

After mass at St. Paul's Cathedral, we walked over to Café Bigaa at Vigan Plaza Hotel. While perusing the menu, we munched on a local delicacy, Tongson Royal Bibingka.

Vigan-style bibingka (rice cake). Very heavy and dense. A little goes a long way.

ilocos 2013: day one

As soon as our plane landed at Laoag International Airport on 5 January 2013, I could hear the bagnet calling my name. We hit the ground running, hard and fast. We dropped our bags off at our hotel, Palacio De Laoag, and drove to Fort Ilocandia for lunch.

Fort Ilocandia is still the only five-star resort facility in the Ilocos region, and it's as handsome as it was when I first visited almost four years ago. Maybe even more so.

Probably the most well-maintained hotel I've seen in the country.

We ordered the usual suspects: bagnet and pinakbet. No photos, though. I was too hungry.

But I did take some pictures of their cute gingerbread display. All of the must-see spots of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur provinces, in edible form.

Fort Ilocandia Resort. Are those supposed to icicles on the eaves?

The Kapurpurawan rock formation, the windmills of Bangui, and the lighthouse of Cape Bojeador.

UNESCO World Heritage site Paoay Church. The sinking bell tower of Laoag in the background.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

best director

I'm so glad that I'm still in Manila to catch Zero Dark Thirty.

Ever since I saw The Hurt Locker, I've been a huge fan of Kathryn Bigelow. I don't need no Academy to tell me that she's the best director, ever.

based on the novel by

Cloud Atlas was the last English-language movie I watched last year, and the first book I finished reading this year.

I was so enamored by the film that I immediately bought the book after coming out of the theater. The saleslady at National Bookstore apologized because they only had the movie tie-in version, but boy, did that turn out to be a good thing.

You see, the movie tie-in has David Mitchell's afterword, Based On The Novel By. An unexpected and wonderful bonus.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

happy feet

It's the first day of the new year. I went shopping and bought myself some cute shoes.

I am now the proud owner of a pair of Mel Dreamed by Melissa Toffee Apple wedges in nude.