My Top Everything of 2009 – In High Profile

1. The Queen

Thank you for being patient, loving, (super) attentive, caring, supportive, and tough (super).

My Top Everything of 2009 – iLike!

Here are the things I heart the most in 2009.

1. Social Media/Web 2.0

facebook + twitter

A Good Marriage?

I started with Friendster, and then came Blogger and Multiply few years ago.

This year I came to know Facebook and Twitter, and since then I got hooked!  At the same time, I have become a frequent user of apps like WordPress, Plurk,,, among many others.

the google

Lady Gaga-personified over Google

Of course, the wonders of Google. I am currently relishing Google’s toys like Google Reader, Google Docs, Google Picasa, Google Mail, Google Talk, Google Translate, Google Code, and more. Truly, I have gone gaga over Google in 2009!

Social media is just getting even better.

My Top Everything of 2009 – my best places

1. Iloilo

It was ten years ago when I first visited this Visayan place that is gifted with rich culture and history. A random invite to say the least, mom and I visited the quiet islands of Concepcion, the majestic churches of Jaro, Molo, Miagao among others, and the country’s Island of Mangoes, Guimaras.

More than enjoying the places, the food, and the people of Iloilo, my bonding moments with mom were truly worth it; no matter how at times, we’d get into petty fights and troubles along the way! I was able to picture out mom’s life snippet in Iloilo as she showed me to places where she lived, studied and enjoyed. At this point too, I was able to personally meet her closest girl friends. It was very fascinating to see these three female musketeers jeer at each other’s misadventures (or even the lack thereof). There were no dull moments with them. I suddenly felt so belonged in this (old) ladies group.

I was able to visit my great, great grandfather’s humble monument in Zarraga, and found out about my ancestry. Later on, I was also able to meet a few people who introduced themselves as part of the clan. As I now keep them in the loop, chances are high for me to fulfill my goal in tracing my roots.

2. Boracay

Our very first out-of-the-city escapade together – Dylan, Janet, Stephen and I – was in Boracay. Despite the unexpected circumstances days before we left Manila that could have had called off our much-awaited travel and buried this dream in perpetuity, it turned out that a lot of fun moments awaited us in the end.

3. Alaminos and Bolinao of Pangasinan

I spent Labor’s Day holiday at the Hundred Islands in Alaminos. I also had a quick stay at Puerto del Sol in Bolinao. This year, I have spent more days beach adventuring than I used to before. My love for the beach has just gotten better. Definitely in 2010, I’ll be yearning for another beach escapes.

Continue sipping…

Galaera Diaries: “puli kami sa iloilo” (going home to iloilo) – final part

Guimaras Island is a favored destination by both foreign and domestic tourists because of its picturesque beaches, waterfalls, springs, off shore islets, and its famous mangoes, which is considered one of the sweetest in the world. Guimaras is an island province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Among the smallest and youngest provinces, its capital is Jordan. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros.

There are many theories on how Guimaras got its name. Available historical documents can attest that pre-Spanish Ilonggos had knew Guimaras as “Himal-us” though some Spanish historians had written that Guimaras may have been named after after a peninsula in Portugal called Guimaraes, or from names of places in Spain such as Guimaron in the provinces of Leon and Galerea, Gimenia in Catalonia, Gomera in the Canary Islands, and Guimaraon in another province. On the other hand, Ilonggo folklore reveals that Guimaras, formerly known as Himal-us was named after the ill-fated romance of Princess Guima and slave Aras, who betrayed the tradition tribe to enkindle their forbidden love. They were able to ride a small raft and escape Aras’ arranged marriage by her father to another nobleson. Unfortunately, they disappeared in the raging seas, never found again, and from then on, people seemed to hear the repentant father’s calling of the lover’s names “Guim-Aras” echoed in the wind during stormy seas, thus, the name Guimaras.

Most likely, people would associate Guimaras with its mangoes, which is their most important product and the Philippines’ best export quality mangoes. They are grown in mango plantations spanning more than 8,000 hectares throughout the island, which create an awesome verdant landscape and the characteristic ambiance of rural life in this “Mango Country”.

Guimaras mangoes are considered as one of the sweetest in the world and the only mango variety in the Country certified as pest-free by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The variety of mangoes produced are also best for making dried mangoes, jams and other delicacies. The best time to enjoy Guimaras’ mangoes is during the Manggahan Festival held every May 22 to commemorate the province’s charter day.

Guimaras is also well known for its white sand beaches, pristine seas, and secluded off shore islets. Among its most popular destinations include Alubihod Bay with its calm waters, and Guisi Beach, where visitors could enjoy the province’s natural beauty.

White sand beaches, multi-colored corals, fish, and other marine life are also found in Igang and Tando Bays and Taklong islets. For those who opt to relax in a secluded and luxurious destination, there’s Costa Aguada Island Resort in Inampulungan Island, Nagarao Island Resort, and Isla Naburot.

We stayed the whole day at Raymen Beach Resort in Alubihod Bay, Nueva Valencia. It can be accessed through a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo City to Jordan Wharf and a 45-minute jeepney ride from Jordan Wharf; or a 1-hour boat ride direct from Iloilo City.

We spent our afternoon with another island hopping adventure. First, we visited the Pawikan Caring & Feeding Station at Barangay Lawi and had a personal encounter with the endangered pawikans. Second stop was at the snorkelling site. It bored me to death because unlike in Galera, there were no fishes around. It looks like they all disappeared after the oil spill incident. Then, we stopped by to this another uninhabited white sand beach. The finale was our visit to one of the caves in Guimaras. It’s my first time to get into a dark cave. Creepy but thrilling and exciting at the same time!

“Damu salamat, Guimaras! Balik kami dira.”
[Thank you very much, Guimaras! We will come back.]

A single day in Guimaras isn’t again enough. We missed visiting Guimaras public market and Trappist Monastery for mango shopping (literally, mangoes!); and historical landmarks such as the McArthur’s Wharf, Guisi Lighthouse, Punta Blanco Target Range, Navalas Church and Roca Encandata. We could also opt to relax in more secluded island resorts such as Costa Aguada, Inampulungan Island, Nagarao Island and Isla Naburot. If we even stayed really longer (until the end month of April perhaps), we would also witness the start of Manggahan Festival!

So many places to visit, so little time. Oh yeah, I’m officially 27. And I served a freshly grilled pampano, hot la paz batchoy, and warm cooked rice on my birthday! Hahaha! Yay.

Reposted from

Galaera Diaries: “puli kami sa iloilo” (going home to iloilo) – part four

Sixth day of our stay in Iloilo and we were now starting to feel weary and a bit homesick. Not that we miss dad and brother, not really! Haha. It’s just that mom wanted to get back to her business routines. I, on the other hand, was yearning for my bed, again! Well, make it my entire room already. Haha.

We decided to slow down and parted ways to do our own thing. Doing her most favourite hobby, mom went out to the public market to buy rare finds. I stayed in the hotel for a dip in the pool. Actually I don’t swim at the beach. I just like to hang around, feel the sand, the wind and the heat of the sun, and enjoy the view. After the hefty food splendour, I can already feel the heavy bulge that I sense the need to swim in laps to burn these calories, pronto!

Late afternoon, mom asked me if I wanted to visit other towns, this time at the north side, especially Zarraga. Upon hearing that familiar place, I said yes!

If the church in Jaro is perceived as more patriarchal, Molo Church on the hand is dubbed as a feminist church in the Philippines. It is because female saints stand on each church’s pillar. This church earned the moniker “women’s church” because of the presence of 16 images of women saints inside. The centrepiece in the retablo is the image of Sta. Ana, the patron saint of Molo.

The Molo Church is one of the most familiar landmarks of Iloilo. Built in 1831, the church stands as a reminder of Iloilo’s rich history and a monument for Ilonggo artistry.

the exquisite molo church early in the morning

the exquisite molo church early in the morning

The Molo exudes a blatant expression of Gothic-Renaissance architecture, the one of its kind outside Manila. The interior is a fusion of Gothic and Romanesque architectures, there is a constant alternation between the overpowering features of Gothic and the recessive characteristics of Romanesque.

The interior is rich in Gothic elements. There are five gothic altars which are made of wood while beautiful paintings dominate the walls. There is also a pair of interestingly decorated pulpits contrast the entire structure.

The Spires of Molo are yet the most interesting colonial skyscrapers in Iloilo City aside from the Neoclassic Belfry of Jaro.

molo church belfry from afar

the beauty is still standing up to now

the beauty is still standing up to now

Molo church is very sturdy and has survived fires, earthquakes, and artillery barrages in 1945. Molo church was made as an evacuation center for the civilians during WWII. One tower is said to have been destroyed by the Americans after suspecting it was used for military purposes by the Japanese during the Second World War. The bells still bear the scars of bullets shot at Philippine resistance fighters in the second world war. The National Historical Institute declared it a national landmark in 1992.

experience europe in iloilo

experience europe in iloilo

In front of the Molo Church is the district plaza and its bandstand, a typical feature of Western Visayas towns.

leganes church

leganes church

Off we went to Leganes and we visited the town’s church, the Church of San Vincente Ferrer. Declared as a diocesan shrine, the imposing baroque structure stands facing the town plaza as it struck passers by with its captivating beauty. The facade is an elaborate example of the usual baroque church common in the Philippines and in other countries around Europe. Without the canopy, the facade would have shared a lot of similarities with the Church of Saint Theresa in Lithuania. Though it was just recently rebuilt, the architects and engineers did choose the best details that could make an astonishing facade that depicts nothing else but elegance, faith and magnificence.

zarraga church

zarraga church

When I was researching over the Internet, there was nothing much to read about Zarraga. I just got to know about it when dad was invited to visit this town for the inauguration of the monument of General Poblador, who apparently is, my great, great grandfather! Oh holy cow! Who wouldn’t get excited to see my lolo [grandfather] still standing firmly after hundreds of years eh? Haha. Peace Lo!

Upon reaching Zarraga, the first familiar place to visit was definitely its church. After a few minutes of prayer and picture-taking, I immediately ran and searched for my lolo’s monument. I first found this statue near the municipal hall, which I joked about. I said it waved back at us when we dropped off, with a thought that it’s my grandfather’s. It turned out a different one. Oops. Sorry, wrong statue!

I can truly say now, Wala kayo sa lolo ko, LOL!

I can truly say now, "Wala kayo sa lolo ko, LOL!"

So we started asking around, and we later found him at the other side of the road, at the town’s plaza. For a few seconds, I was dumbfounded and gave him nothing but a blank stare. Sorry to say this, lolo, but I was expecting you’re wearing something, uhm, a bit more fashionable and trendier! Then I suddenly realized that such outfit of his was a trend at his time. Sheesh. How inconsiderate I was! So I did ecstatically rush towards him, as if I could hug him tightly and he’d hug me back. Hey you couldn’t blame me, I was a proud apo [grandchild]!

ang rebolusyonaryo (the revolutionist)

ang rebolusyonaryo (the revolutionary)

Apparently, our family is a known bunch of revolutionaries during the Spanish and the American eras. And surprisingly, the most popular of them all in the family is no other than the Joan of Arc of the Visayas, Teresa Magbanua. Yay!

teresa magbanua, joan of arc of visayas

teresa magbanua, joan of arc of visayas

Teresa Magbanua is a native of Pototan, Iloilo. During her childhood, she was someone described as a tomboy or lesbian for she enjoyed the company of boys over girls. She enjoyed boy activities like climbing trees, riding horses and water buffalo. She was the one defending her brothers when they got into fights. This behavior put concern on her parents who sent her off to a local finishing school and two colleges in Manila.

She returned to Pototan after her studies and began teaching. She transferred to the town of Sara where she met a wealthy landowner who became her husband. She left the teaching career and focused on the plantation where she helped in managing the farm. She had the opportunity to get back to the activities she loved most when she was a child–riding horses and practicing her marksmanship.

When the revolution began in Iloilo, her brothers: Pascual and Elias joined the Katipunan and became leaders. Elias became a Major in the revolutionary army albeit he was only a teenager while Pascual became a Brigadier General in the same army.

Teresa was indeed destined to be a heroine. Her desire for deliverance and love for her country kept burning inside her heart that despite the objections of her husband, she enlisted under General Perfecto Poblador who was her uncle. The General first refused to take her in, seeing weakness in her being a woman; but she objected and showed her determination, making her uncle to heed.

She did prove herself. She commanded a group of equally patriotic men who would attack under her every command. She was called “General” although wasn’t really designated. She fought against the American forces in Jaro in 1899, never declining until it was really futile. She disbanded her men and returned home.

She felt lost when her two brothers died. It was a product of treachery made by Filipinos who were behind the assassination. Elias died at the age of 19 from the bullet of a Filipino guide who was working for the American forces. Her brother Pascual’s death was even more tragic because bandits murdered him. They threw his body into the river and was never recovered. It was believed that the reason behind the murder is jealousy for Pascual’s successes.

When Japan attacked the Philippines, Teresa sold all her property to help finance the guerrilla forces. She migrated to Mindanao and died in 1947 in Zamboanga.

I therefore conclude that being who I am really runs in the family. How fascinating it is to know now…

pantat is what Zarraga has to offer. pantats on the street!

pantat is what Zarraga has to offer. pantat's on the street!

Moving on, Zarraga also prides itself as pantat country. I just noticed on the street what this place is also known for—mud fish! It was my first time to eat pantat inasal, and luckily I survived. Well, I was able to finish 3 and was even craving that we decided to bring home a few more. No wonder why dad likes this fish, too.

Repost from: