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Showing posts from February, 2012

Good Morning Timberland!

It's been 6 months since I first learned how to bike. It's funny, weird even, but there really are people like me out there.  And no, my childhood wasn't traumatic or boring either. It's just that I never knew how to bike until my 26th. Check this previous post to know how it finally dawned on me that it's really a needed skill.

My 6-month stint with Foldie (my folding bike) and Aaron's MTB led me to my recent endeavor: riding on a trail.
There's a group in the office who regularly rides on weekends. So one Saturday morning, I went ahead and gave it a try. Thanks to my boss who had an extra mountain bike. Foldie would have folded on the trail, in all literal and figurative meanings of the word.
Timberland Heights is located in the heart of San Mateo, Rizal, 30 minutes away from Eastwood. The mostly uphill drive is a pretty good preview of how the trail is.  I should have decided to stay at the parking lot at that point, but I didn't because I know I…

Hawaiian-Philippine Company: Iron Dinosaurs in Silay City

The roads of Negros are paved with acres of sugarcane fields. They used steam locomotives to transport sugarcane all over the province, and these trains are now aptly called Iron Dinosaurs. If you want to get a glimpse of the remaining Iron Dinosaurs, take a bus going to Victorias City at the Bus Terminal in Bata and hop-off at the Hawaiian Philippine Company (HPC). The trains at HPC are one of the last few left in action, the rest are now replaced with trucks seen all over Negros.

We talked with a tricycle driver here and asked him to take us around the sugar plantation. For only
P200, we were able to sneak into see the perimeters of the plantation, with photos to prove. And by sneak I mean going around as innocently-looking as you could. A tour of the plantation needs to be approved by the company first, but if you take the route towards the planters village, the trains can be seen in plain sight and the only thing that separates you from them is a barbed wire fence. Take a super z…

No Sweat Hangover

Win over hangover!

That was my mantra when I woke up today with a nasty hangover. The only thing that never fails in getting me through these times is Pocari Sweat!
A couple of years ago a friend introduced me to Pocari Sweat. I was cured of my hangover halfway through the bottle. Never mind the taste. Pocari Sweat works like magic.  The sweet and sour taste was not appealing on my first few sips but it has the kind of weird flavor that grows on you. I have recommended this to friends and family and they all agree that this is the best and fastest remedy for hangover. So if you see me chugging a bottle of PS, you know what I'm going through.
Another surefire way to tone down the dreaded 'morning-after' feeling is to drink a glass of water before hitting the bed. That is if you still have some stream of consciousness left in you. Unfortunately for me, my memory stopped functioning way before I decided to finally call it a night. 
But of course, still the most effective way to…

Negros Occidental: How to Gain A Couple of Pounds in 3 Days

I admit not having well discerning taste buds, but the food in Negros is too delish to go unnoticed even by a dull foodie like me. Restaurants are lined up along Lacson St. in Bacolod City, with cuisines ranging from local Negrense to Korean and Japanese restaurants.  Being the Sugar Bowl of the country, there are also a lot of good pastries shops here, and most are found right along the same street.

There is also something about the Negrense's way of eating that makes it more tempting for the guests: they eat their food with much gusto! Lucky are those people who were gifted with that delightful way of eating.  The food is one big reason why Bacolod is a city I want to go back to.

Here's a rundown of the places we ate at for 3 days. I would have wanted to squeeze more in but my stomach was beyond full!

Note: Lengthy post ahead. I'd like you to read all the way to the end but if you wish to skim through, click on the links below.

Where to Eat:
Aida's at Manokan Country

Ramon Hofileña - Silay's Prime Arts Advocate

I have long wanted to see a city in the country where arts and culture is strongly supported. This longing was satisfied when I visited Silay City in Negros Occidental earlier this year. Silay in itself is a lovely gem but the highlight of the experience was spending an afternoon with a Silaynon and his rich and engaging stories.

The fact that we had to call ahead to set an appointment to view an ancestral house was enough to rouse my curiosity and raise my expectations.  The Manuel Severino Hofileña ancestral house did not disappoint, and the unconventional and highly entertaining host, Ramon Hofileña, was beyond expectations.

The house is located in the quaint city of Silay in Negros Occidental, known as the Paris of Negros, not for its appearance but for the city's appreciation and knowledge for arts and culture.  Over the years, Ramon has obtained a diverse collection of artworks, sculpture, and prints from Manansala, Luna, Hidalgo, Ben Cab, Hechanova, and a local artist from…

Victorias City: Peñalosa Farms

The surprises never end.

Early Friday morning, we headed off to Victorias City, an hour north of Bacolod City. Andrew agreed to meet us up and bring us to the Church of the Angry Christ, including a side trip to their demo farm.  Apparently, the 'demo' farm is a 3000-sqm swampy land that now produces herbs, crops, and vegetables, and where groups of swine, chicken, duck, and rabbit are raised organically.
The land, owned by Andrew's family, was originally a bus repair shop. The family used to grow water spinach (aka kangkong) at the backyard to provide food for the shop workers. When the kangkong grew out of hand, the family decided to get a swine.. to finish some more of the wildly growing leafy vegetable. And that was where it all started. From then on the business grew and the farm is now supplying products at the Organic Section in SM City Bacolod.
The family holds seminars in the farm for people who want to learn how they could start earning from their own backyards.…

Tana Dicang - A 20th Century Woman of Power

All the while we thought that The Ruins was all there was in Talisay City. Thanks to an old friend from college days, Andrew Peñalosa,who took us to a hidden gem in Talisay. Incidentally, Andrew's college thesis was on the old ancestral houses in Negros Occidental and he's probably the best resource person I know on this topic. (Though I could not remember as to what exactly the thesis was about. Sorry Andrew!)
As it turned out, Balay ni Tana Dicang was the only one that stood out, presumably because it is the most well-preserved ancestral house we've seen in the region. Situated on a 6000 sqm. property along Rizal St. in Talisay City, the classical bahay-na-bato house will take one to a journey back in time.
The house is named after Enrica Alunan, the wife of Capitan Efigenio Lizares.  At age 47, Dicang was
widowed and she took over her late husband's position, thus the name Capitana Dicang. She held this position for 40 years until she died during the war in 1942. 

Hongkong Island: The Peak Trail

Armed with a heavy lunch fromYuen Kee and finally certain on the places that we wanted to see for the rest of the afternoon, we set-off and rode the Tsuen Wan Line MTR. 

From the TST station, we got off at the Central station. We lingered at every interesting detail along the way (including a group of factory workers holding a protest in front of a park) that it took us a bit longer than the usual 10-minute walk to get to the Peak Tram terminal.

The terminal was filled with tourists wanting to catch the sunset at The Peak and people nudged their way to get good seats on the tram. Good thing we were quick and were able to get the window seat, facing the harbor. 
The Peak Tram ride going on the way up to the Peak in HongkongIsland offered a pleasant view of the VictoriaHarbor on the right and the streets of Kowloon and southern HongkongIsland on the left. 

After less than 10 minutes of the tram ride, we stopped at the end of the rail at The Peak Tower with just enough time to look for a goo…