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Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu October 16, 2008
Two days of scouring Cebu City for interesting finds, we see ourselves restaurant hopping instead. So on the third day, with little information on hand and for the first time, empty stomachs, we give in to our rural cravings. We hop in a bus bound for Badian early the next morning to visit the Kawasan Falls.
Kawasan Falls is approximately a 3-hour bus ride from the city. From the South Terminal, ask around for buses going to the waterfall. Better to specifically tell your conductor before getting in a bus. If not, you could end up 3 towns away from the supposed stop like we did.
Get off at Barangay Matutinao. If you catch a glimpse of a small triangular shaped church while you’re speeding along the South Coastal National Highway, scream at the top of your voice because you just missed your stop.
If you plan to come on a holiday or a weekend, I highly suggest on skipping on the guide. Guides, at times, are very helpful. You get to your destination faster, local info on the place and a light on your path when it’s dark. But on some occasions, they’re just walking Meralcos charging you for every step in the trek, kerosene in their lamps and for their rates, even their breaths in the small talk you have very little interest in.
So just wait for other tourists familiar with the waterfall. A lot of locals frequent Kawasan Falls so you can just tag along and make new friends. If you’ve been traveling for a while, you know it pays to know a bit of PR. It’ll save you at least P100 (the rate each of the guides asked for but of course, we haggled).
The 30-min trek is pretty easy since there’s a coconut tree-lined trail, signs along the road and for the really locationally challenged, houses with people you can ask for directions.
Two foot bridges away and near the souvenir shop selling Kawasan Falls shirts, pay the P10 entrance fee.
Go under the adobe bridge and after another foot bridge, you get to trod on a cemented road that leads you to a shocking line of unsightly rooms for rent on the left and the cottages on the right. The place looks like a crudely developed resort complete with awfully tasting pricey food and restrooms they manage to affix by the side of the mountain.
I know the facilities are there for the comfort of visitors like me but nature looks best when untouched. Comfort turns into discomfort when a ride in a raft costs P300, rent in a cottageP300, a vest P50, and food from P80 to P200. Even if you eat in the restaurant, you still need to pay for the cottage.
Despite all the distraction, seeing the first and the biggest of the three-tiered waterfall is breathtaking. It has been raining all day so cool fresh water splash from the rock formation and into the turquoise colored pool. Three twenty feet long rafts they maneuver with ropes all over the place are in the pool, regardless of the public notice dated March 26, 2008: “…Prohibits the following activities in the Kawasan Falls area: a. jumping from the falls, b. operation of rafts.”
An uphill climb for fifteen minutes will take you to the second falls but we don’t attempt to go since the last trip going back to the city is 4:30 PM. I was able to catch the rates of one of the cheap hotels in the Kawasan Falls:
|– no limit on number of persons|
|Ceiling fan||P 1,500|
|– below 10 pax|
|– 5 pax|
|More than 5, less than 10 pax||P3,500|
Isawan sa Kalayaan on UP’s Centennial January 30, 2008
On U.P.’s Centennial celebration, I found myself parading with students from different U.P. branches. Accompanying my friend Maanne on a quick trip to U.P. Diliman to pass her masters thesis, I was hoping to shoot a little on the side. Instead we were greeted by a mob of students and teachers holding humongous banners of their respective colleges as we headed to the U.P. Diliman library. Unfortunately, the library closed early because of the festivity.
Back on the street, iskos and iskas (how students of U.P. are called) wore their school pride well. On their shirts are popular “U.P. ako, ikaw?” and “U.P. Ang galing mo!” prints; which are, if I may say, too brazen for my taste. U.P. Baguio guys on their bahags were getting busy with it, tearing up the floor with an Igorot dance they were too self-conscious to pull off gracefully. I don’t mean to insult but they were getting a lot of sneers and stares on their bare bums.
Since there had been a lot of re-routing in U.P. that day, we had to go way around the Sunken Garden and back to University Avenue. With Vinzon’s Hall in sight, we decided to pay my favorite fish ball cart in the university a visit.
I’m quite surprised they now serve hotdogs aside from the regular fish balls, squid balls, kikiam, kwek kwek (or tokneneng for some), and cheese sticks. I order cheese sticks – P10 for 7 pieces.
And since we’re already on a spontaneous walkathon, we went straight to UP’s famous isaw! During my college days, we only refer to the place as isawan sa Kalayaan or isawan sa Shopping Center. Well, to our surprise, the cart now sports a sign board: Mang Larry’s Isawan complete with his contact numbers! Whoa! I wonder if he caters🙂
Each isaw costs P3 per stick. Other artery clogging treats available are balunbalunan, dugo, tainga (pork ears), atay (liver), adidas (chicken feet). Spicy vinegar for sawsawan (dipping sauce) is available for free but a plastic cup where you can pour the vinegar for your own consumption costs P1.
Mang Larry’s Isawan
Beside U.P. Post Office
and in front of Kalayaan Residence Hall
Take University Ave. then turn left when you see the Oblation. That’ll be Ylanan Road. You should see the College of Mass Communication (Plaridel Hall) on the left and College of Music (Abellardo Hall) on the right.
On the first corner, turn right. You’ll be passing by Bahay ng Alumni – where you can get a taste of Chocolate Kiss and Oz Café. Yum yum!
Turn left on the next corner. Just a short distance, before you reach the U.P Post Office is Larry’s Isawan.
Take a jeep ride in Katipunan corner Aurora Blvd. The terminal is under the C-5 flyover. Fare is just the minimum – P7.50 (around $.20).
Get off at Shopping Center. Follow the trail of smoke. It should lead you to Mang Larry on the grill J
At the back of the food establishments in Philcoa is a jeep terminal. Fare is just the minimum – P7.50 (around $.20). Get off at Shopping Center.
Tasting Perfection at Café Diperensya in Baguio City January 9, 2008
It’s 10 am and it’s starting to rain. With my big red cam bag slung around my shoulder, I step out into the open, scanning the road for a cab to bring me back to the city.
I just spent 2 hours at Tam-awan Village, a museum of preserved authentic traditional Ifugao huts and at the same time a community for Baguio-based artists. The driver who brought me here looks genuinely concerned I am alone so early because cars rarely frequent the area. Chivalry is not dead, at least not in Baguio. But a glance on the side betrays his intensions. He is quite intrigued there’s no guy accompanying me. I want to say, photography is my lover and we’re going to make lots of love all day long.
As the Philippines’ summer capital, I’m surprised that people are still quite unused to see a girl traveling by herself here in Baguio. I give the driver my wide-grinned smile, step out of the cab and welcome the cold morning air stinging my face. I feel invincible.
Outside Tam-awan Village, I come upon a gate with white metal arch. It says, Arko ni Apo, Ilocano for Ark of the Lord. Upon entering I see a gallery with an assortment of paintings, sculptures ahead, and on the right a simple garden with an image of Jesus Christ. Hearing the familiar trickling of water, I instantly catch sight of a water fountain. Three feet in height, a naked woman is perched on a big rock, arms outstretched in sacramental offering.
Inside Café Diperensya, the waiter slash gallery caretaker appears shortly and offers me a drink. I ask what’s good and he recommends Soya Coffee.
Served with Danish cookies on the side – the kind that comes from a tin can, the coffee tastes familiarly like ordinary brewed coffee. I’m no coffee expert but since it feels light and does not give me palpitations after 2 cups, I quite like it. My 2nd cup is courtesy of owner Bumbo Villanueva, who after a short conversation gave me another cup on the house.
While munching on my second serving of Danish cookies, he tells me the story of Café Diperensya. Conceptualized by his father Ben-hur, a sculptor, painter and teacher in Ateneo de Manila for three decades, and himself, the idea behind Café Diperensya is to use wobbly chairs, mismatched utensils, cracked cups and what nots to create an ensemble of imperfection. Everything is flawed, except the coffee; which in its warmth and lightness, I agree is indeed perfect, especially on Baguio’s cool climate. Contrary to Bumbo’s original concept, the coffee and cookies aren’t served in broken cups and saucers. Actually, as I looked around, the only broken thing I can see is a wall décor by the entrance. And like what the artists envisioned, it does add a peculiar charm to the place.
Turning down a teaching post offered to him at Ateneo de Manila, Bumbo instead teaches the disabled, children and whoever is interested in the arts right in Arko ni Apo.
As I get out of the gallery two hours after, I find myself with a renewed passion in art. Outside, it’s still drizzling. No taxi in sight. Instead I amble down slope, towards the jeep terminal. Big raindrops hit my face hard and I do not hurry. Nothing can dampen my spirit.
How to get to Café Diperensya and Arko ni Apo
There’s a jeepney at Shagem St. around the plaza. Check out the ones with the signboard: Plaza*Tam-awan via Quezon Hill. A trip costs just the minimum jeep fare of P7.50 (around $.20).
A taxi ride from the center of Baguio to Tam-awan costs P50 (that’ll be around $1.20)
Warning to those who plan to visit without a car: better go there during daytime when there are still jeepneys and cabs passing by.
Choco-late de Batirol November 9, 2007
I have low tolerance for caffeine that even a bottle of Mountain Dew makes me palpitate. So when the need for the warm comfort of a hot drink arises, I opt for a hot cup of chocolate instead.
Finding myself cold, wet and alone during a recent wanderlust to Camp John Hay on one rainy September afternoon, seeing Choco-late de Batirol’s sign is like mirage in a desert. Except everything’s the other way around and oh yeah, the only dry thing I can account for are my undies.
Wooden seats amidst a flourishing garden, the place is indeed relaxing. Checking out the menu, I can only muse as how fast other cities outside Manila catch up, especially the prices. A cup of their choco-late does a P70-P90 damage on the pocket.
Stirring hot chocolate using a Batirol, a local wooden or brass stirrer, is an age-old tradition dating back from the Spanish. I order their Traditional Blend and oddly enough, the taste is as old as the recipe itself. The drink’s too thick and texture so course I might have been drinking ground cardboard.
I wish if ever next time I happen to be around the place and decide to drop by, it’ll be a more pleasurable experience.
Choco-late de Batirol is located at Scout Hill, Camp John Hay, Baguio City.
Of all the cemeteries in the country, there’s one place you probably didn’t see any relatives visiting last All Soul’s Day. A very interesting sight at Camp John Hay in Baguio City, Cemetery of Negativism is a graveyard for negative thoughts that looks inconspicuously like a pet cemetery.
The animal figures on the epitaphs (about 15 of them in all) make Cemetery of Negativism seem like a pet cemetery.
Just makes me wonder, when a person is laid to rest, where do his hopes and dreams go? Unfulfilled and cut off from their dreamers, are they put into eternal slumber 6 feet on the ground just as people would like to believe about their dead loved ones?
As death comes, the sudden absence of life and its irrevocability gives us so many questions we cannot seem to have the answers for even after we cease to exist.
But even the living has lots of regrets in their emotional baggage. Sometimes as simple as saying what you feel is so hard. You have so much to say to a person but you choose to walk away. You act with the finality death brings. And then at some point in your life, you say, “Why didn’t I? It might have been..”
Living the rest of your life wondering is no way to live life at all. But honesty is so damn overrated. Yes, Oprah, sometimes words are better left unsaid. Feel broken, pick up yourself, dust off your negative thoughts and move on. But always learn from your experiences.
If you trust yourself, just think of it that in the future, you might even thank yourself. And hopefully, if you’re lucky enough, as you light your last ciggie and reminisce, your memories will bring a nice little smile to your lips.
Jugno’s Monster Pizza November 1, 2007
Just in time for our little family graveyard get-togethers is a monster you wouldn’t mind popping out in the middle of the night.
A Jugno’s pizza, in all its 20” monstrosity, is anything but ugly. On a thin crust is a gorgeous helping of toppings that promises not to scare even the conscious eaters out there who hate oily.
And the price is not as shocking as its size. For a 20” pizza that serves 6-8 people, they charge P400-500.
Our pizzas have two flavors each, both of them sliced in 42 square pieces. Another good thing about Jugno’s is that they give you a choice whether you want your pizza sliced into 8, 16, or 42 slices.
Personally, I like the Spicy Taco and Beef n’ Mushroom Monster. Sorry for who like their spice hot, but unfortunately, it’s not. But it’s still good though.
The pizzas also come with dips. Ours are garlic, salsa, and I don’t know what the other two are.
From the flyer, Jugno’s has been around since 2000. A friend who discovered it says it’s somewhere in Mandaluyong but she also says they don’t have space for dine-in customers so they only deliver.
Just like any good monster, Jugno’s is open 24 hours. So anytime you have a gigantic appetite to satisfy, call up 531-3756 or 534-0573.