Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hello, All.
Thank you for visiting the travel blog I kept during my travels in the Philippines in February/March.  The resulting creative pieces from this "journal" may be found on my companion site, http://alyssumblog.blogspot.com

Feedback and comments always welcomed.

Love from here,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Al Robles Express, 2012

In two days we depart from the Philippines, our ancestral homeland, and as I sat listening to my music, I felt moved  to express gratitude to our ancestors who walked with us this entire month, held our hands, and smiled with us during every discovery.  Maraming salamat to Oscar Penaranda, our guide, always the absent-minded, yet ever talented, patient, and generous professor.
  To new and wonderful friends Nena and Vanessa....
And Kathy...
And to Gary with nephew Michael (Oscar's son)....
And to Dr. Lacson, his lovely, sweet daughters Summer and Marjorie.
And to Raymond Alunan from the Negros Museum...
And love to Uncle Lari (Laribo) and Auntie Adele from Bohol...
Appreciation and love to  Dito, Dicto, Orange, and Vip in Cebu...
And to Moses Atega in Dumaguete...
And  to artist Karl Aguila in Dumaguete...
And to Rosa-Linda-who-loves-her-job at Ice Castle in Cebu...
And to Inting, Dito's driver, who took us all around along with Vip to Carcar and Sibonga to find family.
And to the Davao Writer's Group: Monica, Tita LaCambra Ayala,Josie, Jhoanna, Ricky...

And to Maan Chua for the personal tour of Ponce Suites and her husband Kublai's artwork; and again to Monica Ayala and her mother Tita La Cambra Ayala for taking us around after dinner together in Davao...

And to Father D.J. de los Reyes of Ateneo University and the chefs: Roma, Oliver, and RR for preparing a beautiful meal for us at the rectory...
 And to the wonderful staff at CEO Suites in Makati, especially Abil-with-the-sunshine-smile (2nd from L), and Melanie, the BEST directions ever (3rd from L)...
And, finally-- to "Inasal", from Bacolod- our designated mascot for Al Robles Express 2012.

Maraming Salamat Po!

Ayo-Ayo, from the Group's travel blogger, Lisa:


Arriving on the very long, skinny island of Palawan, we find ourselves on the last leg of our month-long travels here in the Philippines.  At this moment I almost hesitate to post the photos from our days here as if this will confirm the end to what has been, from the very beginning, a journey blessed by our ancestors.  My wish is for everyone to know this feeling. Oh my, when it happens, you will know.

On our first day we were whisked off on a city tour which was squeezed into a tight four hours, including lunch.
Kathy on the bridge along a mangrove forest.
Badjao Restaurant is a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth.  To get to the restaurant we walked along the bridge (top) among the mangrove trees.

These are 2-3 year old baby crocs from the Crocadile Farm.  a) satchels? or b) sisig?
(ans: b )  the best sisig (and we've tried A LOT of sisig, right Nena?)

I hope my two friends, Venus and Frances see this blog for it is they who insisted that I must visit Palawan and experience the Underground River.  They were one of the first people I told of my plans to visit the Philippines for the very first time.  We were working on a project, so I scribbled "Palawan, subterranean caves" in the upper lefthand corner of the project notes.  That was almost six months ago!  As I boarded the first boat to make my way over to the caves, I thought of you Venus and Frances.  Maraming Salamat for feeling my heart on that day.

The road to Sabang cuts in an east to west zig-zag pattern across the narrowest part of Palawan Island.  Palawan is mountainous.  With mountains come canyons rich, green,green, green, vibrant and fertile.  Carabao, cows, chickens, goats, and lots of dogs roam through villages, in and among the modest huts lined along the road.  The trip along this road takes an hour and a half.  And then.....
Look at this wonderful outrigger whose sides are made of strong bamboo poles which keep the vessel level in the open sea.  Up to 8 passengers can ride.  We head out into the West Philippine Sea and sail twenty-five minutes to the caves.

                                                                       Nena and Oscar
until finally.... (although this portion of the journey was my personal favorite.)
I called the zebra fish over to say hello while we waited for our next boat to take us into the caves.

After experiencing the subterranean caves, I appreciated that this is truly an unspoiled, protected and totally natural beauty.  We gently sailed through and enjoyed the formations, animal life (yes..what type of animals do you imagine we saw?)  There's no fake lighting, no cheesy music, and the guide points out special formations with lots of quiet in between so that we can really soak it all in.  a modest battery operated light at the front of the boat is held by one of the passengers who manually shines it on particular spots.  No-oh I'm not gonna show you the treasures inside- what, and spoil the surprise?
On theway home I tried climbing a palm tree.  Look at that; I have two coconuts in my back pocket. 

This is the almost complete photo of the gang.  On the Palawan portion of our travels we were so happy that Michael-Oscar's son- and his uncle, Gary, joined.  Very, very fun!
Treasure of the Day: a carabao at the ocean.  What more can I say? 
Finally - a BEACH !  How to get to Naktabon Beach: take the LEFT fork in the road.  That's all the direction I'm going to give you. heh heh heh

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DAVAO-beyond Eden, 3/7/2012

One section of Eden is devoted to illustration of indigenous healing practices including the use of herbs, plants and various concoctions made from nature.  The Spanish colonizers destroyed all records kept by the indigenous tribes regarding the medicinal properties of such natural remedies, citing them as works of the devil.  Truth is truth, however. Today what our own Filipino indigenous people had known all along has become fairly common.  We got to see firsthand the source.

Tawa-tawa is a natural remedy for dengue fever and snake bites.  Also, not shown here, is Citronella, a long, reed-like plant used as insect repellent - mostly mosquitoes - and is found in candles, incense coils, and the refill tube of lotion I bought in a convenience store in Davao.  We got to carry a small piece in our backpacks during our Eden tour.

An albino peacock walking freely around the grounds at Eden.  He shook and shimmied his tail while his harem walked around our tables collecting bread scraps from our merienda.
The Pagobo are one of the indigenous tribes of Mindanao.  Their handicraft is woven bracelets in brown and cream colored grass.  Later that afternoon as the sun was going down, we saw this woman and her baby (named Elisa) jump on the back of a scooter driven by a man- husband maybe?- and head home after a long day's work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Divine Davao Writer's Group

                                Three amazing women: Jhoanna Cruz (dagmay.kom.ph) , Monica Ayala.
                             Monica Ayala, her mother, Tita La Cambra Ayala, and Penaranda (w/an "n-ye").
                                          The gathering of writers and wanderers. UP  Chancellor Ricky And Unli-Food !
                                           "unli" = unlimited, as in "Unli- rice" or "Unli-text".  In other words, Eat All         You Can and Write All You Can."  That's All She Can Write right now.

                                          Kublai Cafe & Bar / Ponce Suites. "The Unconvention Center"
                                          Kublai's lovely wife, Maan Chua, a singer and guitarist. Check her out on YouTube.

DAVAO-Father D.J. 3/6

 Father D.J., a Jesuit priest and teacher at Ateneo University here in Davao, is Oscar's nephew.  He is a gentle and intelligent man, articulate and bright, imparting an unmistakably peaceful presence.  Father D.J. invited us all to the Rectory on campus, for a dinner with his fellow priests.
Father D.J. and his  Uncle "Onkoy"
                                                          L-R: Oscar, Oliver- one of the cooks, Father D.J., "RR", and Roma- a lovely soul who serves the priests by shopping and cooking for the priests here at Ateneo University.  We were priveleged to be invited in to the kitchen to meet with them after enjoying a meal prepared by them.  I tell you, I could feel the love that went into their dishes: Laing (leaves in coconut oil and a touch of hot peppers; kare-kare (hands down the BEST I've ever tasted.); sinigang; rice; buko pie.
                                          Night views of Ateneo University.  So nice to be on a college campus, among students...
                                         With gratitude for the tour and meal, Father D.J. !