Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Magarao. The Hilot Capital of Camarines Sur.

In the province of Camarines Sur, whenever you mentioned the place Magarao to Camarines Sur residents, the first thing that pops into their mind is the word “hilot”. The town of Magarao is famously known for having the best manghihilot in the province. Whether you’re experiencing a sore muscle, a twisted tendons or a tired body, the town’s manghihilots can cure them. They have mastered the art of healing through hilot. The skills of manghihilot were pass down from generation to generation. People flock to this small town para magpahilot ng mga katawan nila, ng mga bali sa katawan, mga nananakit na katawan at iba pa.

Magarao Church

Magarao town hall

the town park

I visited the town of Magarao a few days ago, but not to try their hilot but to check the other things that this town has to offer. Magarao is located just a few kilometers from Naga City and it is just a 15 to 20 minutes jeepney ride. When I arrived at the town, I roamed around its town center and took some pictures of its church, plaza and its town hall. Nagtanong tanong din ako sa mga locals kung ano pa ang mga bagay na maipagmamalaki ng Magarao but, as I expected, hilot lang talaga ang ipinagmamalaki nila. I then asked some information sa Munisipyo pero same answer din ang nakuha ko. I then proceeded to their hilot center para alamin din ang rates ng hilot service nila. I was tempted to try their hilot because it was cheap but I still have several towns to visit on that day kaya hindi na ako pumasok sa center nila. So after I took some pictures of their hilot center, I then rode a jeepney and pumunta na ako sa next town on my list to visit sa araw na iyon. 

the hilot center or the wellness center

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Leaning Bell Tower of Bombon, Camarines Sur

Whenever I go to those towns north of Naga City, I always pass by on this town called Bombon and always passing its famous Bell Tower. So one fine day, noong mga panahon na wala akong magawa, I travelled to several towns in Camarines Sur at inalam ko kung anong mga tourist destination meron ang ibang munisipyo. After I visited the town of Magarao, I then proceeded to Bombon.  The town of Bombon is just a small town located just a few kilometers from Naga City. It is just a mere 20 to 30 minutes jeepney ride from Naga City.

Municipal Hall of Bombon

Bombon Church and its famous Leaning Bell Tower

Bumaba ako sa jeepney ng malapit ng dumating sa simbahan ng Bombon. I proceeded to the church and took some pictures of its famous Leaning Bell Tower. Hindi naman sya masyadong naglilean talaga na kagaya ng Leaning Tower of Pisa pero mukhang leaning naman ang Bell Tower ng Bombon.hehehe! So after taking some pictures, I then proceeded to its town hall to ask for information kung ano pa ba ang pwedeng mapuntahan na tourist attraction sa Bombon and the town hall employee informed me na wala naman talaga masyadong tourist spot sa Bombon. She also informed me about Casa Ofelia resort, which is a little bit far from the town center, kaya hindi ko na rin pinuntahan. Kaya ayun, after taking some pictures of its town hall and knowing that there’s no other tourist destination to visit in Bombon or near the town center, I then decided to go to the next neighboring town, which is the town of Calabanga.  Nauna na yung blog entry ko tungkol sa Calabanga kaya basahin nyo na lang ulet, sinulat ko yung kwento tungkol sa Calabanga about a few weeks ago.hehehe!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Earth Day 2012 in Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

Yesterday, while I was making my blog entry for Calabanga, I suddenly stumbled upon on these group of pictures that was taken by me a few months ago.  I was organizing the photos in my folder and I saw the Earth Day event pictures and I wondered whether or not I already did a blog entry about that event and only to find out that I haven’t uploaded and did a story about the said Earth Day 2012 event.

Barangay Cagsao, Calabanga

Anyway, the pictures show the mangrove tree planting activity that was conducted last April during the Earth Day 2012 celebration. The tree planting activity was conducted in Barangay Cagsao, Municipality of Calabanga in Camarines Sur. The activity was sponsored by an NGO which was also participated by different community and school organization. Weeks before the said activity, a friend of mine invited me to join her organization for the tree planting activity. I always want to join activities that benefits the environment so when my friend invited me, I didn’t hesitated to say yes.

The mangrove reforestation site in Calabanga

the volunteers in action

The mangrove plantation in Barangay Cagsao, Calabanga is probably the largest mangrove plantation site in the province. The barangay has been managing the mangrove site for several years now and most of the mangroves that have been planted a few years ago are now about a few meters in height. The mangrove has a lot of benefits to the community. The mangroves help to prevent coastal erosion by stabilizing soil and sediment and it also helps in protecting the coastal community from the waves during storm surge. The mangroves also serves as a spawning ground for many marine animals and this could mean, the community will benefit from the increase numbers of fishes near the mangrove ecosystem.

During the Earth Day event, hundreds of people planted more than a thousand propagules or mangrove seedlings. I know a few years from now, those mangroves that we’ve planted will soon became the home for thousands of marine creatures and this will not only benefit the community in Barangay Cagsao but it will also benefit everyone of us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wandering in Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

It’s been more than a month since the last time I travelled to a place far from home, so yesterday, I got out of our house and ventured out for a town hopping. I really don’t have a plan for that day. All I really wanted was to travel somewhere or away from the four corners of our house. So after I ate my brunch, I took a bath, nagbihis at nagprepare na ng gamit para magdaytour sa kung saan man na lugar. I thought of going somewhere in Albay but I don’t know where, and I felt a little bit lazy to research for a destination so I just then headed to Naga City and then from Naga City I decided to town hopped to the nearby town. I visited a total of 3 towns yesterday but I’ll just focus my story on the town of Calabanga.

Barangay Cagsao

The town of Calabanga is a big town located north of Naga City. It is about a 30 minute jeepney ride from Naga City Northbound Terminal. Calabanga has a lot to offer for visiting tourist. There are a lot of things to do in this beautiful town.  There are several resorts in the area and there are also several beaches. The town doesn’t boast a white sand beach but there are really some nice beaches in Calabanga.

Every year, during the Holy Week, hundreds of thousands of people flocks to Calabanga to visit the miraculous Amang Hinulid. Devotees walk for several kilometers to show their devotion and then kiss the image of Christ. Amang Hinulid is an image of the Lord Jesus in repose in his tomb. Last year, an estimated of half a million devotees visited Amang Hinulid.

Calabanga is located near the mouth of Bicol River so there’s an abundance of fish supply in the area. One of the famous products in Calabanga is “abo”. It is a kind of dried fish that is commonly sold in Calabanga and nearby municipalities. There are also old churches in Calabanga. Being one of the earliest settlements in Bicol, Calabanga is full of history.

Quipayo Church

Quipayo Church

Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Church or Calabanga Church

Another destination in Calabanga is The Village @ San Bernardino located at Barangay San Bernardino, Calabanga. This resort is also called as LRV Agri-Science Farm. It is a resort with an organic farm. You can go to the resort and pick and buy fresh vegetables and you can even catch a fish at their fishing lagoon.  The resort also offers big rooms and cottages for an overnight stay and they also have a big function hall for different events.

Municipal Hall of Calabanga
One of the cottages at  The Village @ San Bernardino

The Village @ San Bernardino

The Village @ San Bernardino

The Village @ San Bernardino

I only stayed for several hours in Calabanga. I’ve been to this place for so many times since my college years but it was only yesterday that I had that moment to capture a lot of photos of this beautiful town called Calabanga. It was almost about late in the afternoon when I decided to go back to Naga City. Ayoko kasi magpagabi baka maubusan na ng byahe pabalik ng Naga City. I wasn’t been able to visit the other resorts in town but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to visit them someday. In order for you to get to Calabanga, from Naga City Bus Terminal, ride a tricycle to Naga Northbound Terminal. The travel time is 10 minutes. And then from Northbound Terminal, ride a jeepney bound for Calabanga. The travel time is 30 minutes. Fare is 20 to 25 pesos. So that’s for now! Kagaya nga ng laging sinasabi ng mga Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, COWABUNGA Dudes!!!!!  Sounds like Calabanga Dudes!!!! Hehehehe!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I want these cameras!!!

I love taking pictures and I’m a trigger-happy person when it comes to camera. I am that camera user who clicks on clicks on just about any subject that caught my interest. I don’t consider myself as a photographer but I do love taking pictures of just about anything. My present camera is a point and shoot camera. I’ve been using my point and shoot camera for more than 2 years now. Actually, more than a year ago, I bought my first ever entry-level DSLR. However, after using it for more than 3 months, I just gave it to my sister. I just came into realization that it is such a hassle bringing a bulky camera specially that I am always on the go. I find it hard having a camera always dangling on my shoulder or a strap around my neck and it is such a hassle if I have to put it in my bag and then I have to open my bag again and get my DSLR in order to just take picture of something that attracted my attention.

Now, what I want is just a simple camera that I can use anywhere and anytime. I want a camera where I can just put in my pocket or I can carry or use without attracting too much attention from the crowd. I want a camera that I could just slip quickly to my pocket whenever I need to move to other destination or those moments that I need to catch a departing jeepney or a bus. I want a camera that I can use for zooming that subject while I’m on a ferry or inside a bus.

So now here are my wish lists of cameras and hopefully, I’ll be able to buy any of these cameras by the first quarter of 2013.

Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

Canon PowerShot SX260 HS. This is the point and shoot camera for travellers. It is 12.1 megapixels with a 3-inch screen. This camera features a 20x superzoom and it is GPS-enabled. 

Canon PowerShot D20

Canon PowerShot D20. The camera for the adventure junkie like me. This is Canon's second waterproof rugged camera. It’s a 12 megapixel camera with 5x zoom and it is waterproof to a depth of 10m and shockproof from a height of 1.5m. This camera is also GPS-enabled. Since I always go to the beach, and the mountains and I loved being in the water, this camera is perfect for me.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5. My alternative camera for bulky DSLR. This is Panasonic’s Interchangeable Lens camera. It’s a 12 megapixel camera.

You can check these links for a detailed specification of these cameras.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Top 10 Philippine Roman Catholic Churches

I am a great admirer of different beautiful architecture, and the Philippine churches are one of the few architecture that I admire. Whenever I go to different municipalities and cities around the country, I find ways to visit its town church and make some photo shoot. Aside from the different tourist destination on a certain municipality or city, I also visit its city/town hall, park and its town church.

So here are my top 10 favorites:

1. Calbayog Cathedral, Calbayog City, Samar Province
2. Holy Cross Church, Nabua, Camarines Sur
3. Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral. Naga City, Camarines Sur
4. St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Tabaco City, Albay
5. Taal Cathedral de San Sebastian, Taal, Batangas
6. Basilica Minore. Naga City, Camarines Sur
7. Caleruega Church, Nasugbu, Batangas
8. Paoay Church, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
9. St. Williams Cathedral, Laoag, Ilocos Norte
10. Vigan Cathedral, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Calbayog Cathedral, Calbayog City, Samar Province

Holy Cross Church, Nabua, Camarines Sur

Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral. Naga City, Camarines Sur

St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Tabaco City, Albay

Taal Cathedral de San Sebastian, Taal, Batangas

Basilica Minore. Naga City, Camarines Sur

Caleruega Church, Nasugbu, Batangas

Paoay Church, Paoay, Ilocos Norte

St. Williams Cathedral, Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Vigan Cathedral, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Affordable Food Destinations in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

So you’re in Naga City for a vacation, and you’re on a tight budget, or maybe you just want to make a food trip, and you’re looking for an affordable place to eat in Naga City, and you’ve search Google for information regarding Naga City, and you’ve landed on my website, THEN, good for you because I just have the information that can sort of help you. Pero kung ayaw mo sa webpage na to eh di ano…eh… please....’wag mong iclose…basahin mo naman muna oh! Hehehe! Nagmakaawa talaga..hehehe!

Anyway, I have listed here several locations in Naga City where you can find affordable restaurants, karinderia, turo-turo and famous streets for affordable foods in Naga City.

1. Naga Garden Restaurant
This restaurant is located at Panganiban Drive, near Plaza Rizal. The restaurant is famous for toasted siopao and the yummy lomi. They also serve some bicolano dishes at an affordable price.

Naga Garden Restaurant

2. Mama Eñga Restaurant
If you’re looking for authentic bicolano dishes, then go to this restaurant located at Peñafrancia Avenue, in front of Emily Theater. The restaurant is just a small restaurant near the famous The Park restaurant of Crown Hotel. Mama Eñga serves affordable and delicious bicolano dishes such as pinangat, laing and bicol express.

Mama Eñga

3. Geewan Restaurant
Now, if you want a little bit of classy but affordable restaurant offering bicolano dishes, then proceed to Geewan Restaurant located at P.Burgos Street, near Plaza Quezon (at the back of the grandstand) This restaurant offers different dishes including bicolano dishes. Turo turo style ang restaurant na to pero medjo may pagkakonting sosyal but affordable still to people on a tight budget.

Geewan Restaurant

4. Ateneo Avenue
This street is full of karinderia and affordable places to eat. Most of the people eating in this area are students, given the fact that this is near the two big universities in Naga City. You’ll find affordable budget meals here, mga pang student price, but don’t expect too much here. Mga simpleng kainan lang ang andito. Meron din medjo classy na karinderia and still mura pa din ang presyo.

Ateneo Avenue

5. Cely’s Eatery
Ahhh, the famous Aling Cely’s. This eatery is famous for kinalas, a flavorful noodle soup with slice of beef and thick sauce. Madalas akong pumupunta dito nung college pa ako kasi dito ang takbuhan ko kapag limited ang budget ko bilang studyante. This place is always full of customers during late in the afternoon. Aside from kinalas, they also offer goto, maruya, puto and other snacks. This is located in Barlin Street corner Dimasalang Street. This eatery is near the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral.

Cely's Eatery

6. Dayangdang Street
Just mention this street to the tricycle driver and tell them to bring you to Kinalasan and I’m pretty sure they know where to bring you. This street is famous for Kinalas, a flavorful noodle soup with slice of beef and thick sauce. There are few eateries here offering kinalas and one of them is Kinalas Twin.

Dayangdang Street

7. Naga City Plaza Rizal Skating Rink
The skating rink was converted into a place for street food stalls. There are plenty of stalls here offering kwek kwek, fishballs, and other street foods. During late in the afternoon, this place is full of students and other people who want to eat some quick foods.

Naga city street food

8. Paksiwan at Kainan. Infront of SM Naga City
There are a lot of paksiwan and karinderia infront of SM Naga City. There are also several karinderia around SM Naga City. You have several dining option inside SM and outside SM Naga so if you have a tight budget, you can find a lot of eateries in this area.

Paksiwan near SM Naga City

9. San Francisco
This is the most famous food location in Naga City when it comes to cheap foods. There are a lot of stalls here that offers affordable foods. Turo turo style ang pagkain dito. You can have a meal here for as low as 15 pesos and if you have a 100 pesos budget, I’m pretty sure it will go a long way, to the extent that you can even treat your friends for a lunch or dinner with that kind of budget. Sobrang mura ang mga meal dito but don’t expect much kasi open air ang lugar na to and medjo madami ang tao dito specially during lunch time. This place is located at Peñafrancia Avenue, infront of EMall, and near the San Francisco Church.

San Francisco

8. Magsaysay Avenue
This is the famous avenue in Naga City. This is where you’re going to find lots of restaurants, hotels, bars and other businesses. This is the nightlife center of Naga City. You can find here restaurants that offer different cuisine. There are also a lot of affordable restaurants here and several expensive restaurants too.

Magsaysay Avenue

Cereza, Magsaysay Avenue

So there you have, those are the locations that you can check for an affordable places to eat in Naga City. I hope you'll enjoy your stay in Naga City.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why I hate the local buses in the Bicol Region.

I’ve been riding buses in the Bicol Region ever since I was a child and I have to say that how they operate is just getting worst each passing year. There are several kinds of provincial buses in the Bicol Region. You have the airconditioned and non-airconditioned buses plying the Manila to Bicol route, the airconditioned buses plying the Naga City to Legazpi City route and the ordinary buses or non-airconditioned buses connecting the different provinces in Bicol. What I hate most is riding the non-airconditioned buses plying the Naga City to Legazpi City route.

Naga-Lagonoy bound buses

During my elementary and high school years, our family would go to Naga City once in a while para mamasyal at pumunta sa mga pinsan namin and travelling by ordinary bus would take about 1 hour of travel. It was fast then to travel to Naga from our house in Iriga City, which is about more or less 40 kilometers  of travel. During the late 80’s and the 90’s there were only few bus companies operating that route. With too little competition, hindi gaanong naguunahan na makakuha ng pasahero ang mga bus.

When I was in college, I also ride the ordinary bus very often since every week I have to go home to Iriga City but during my college years, nauso na din ang mga passenger van so I also have that option to ride a van. I usually don’t ride a van back then because it takes a while for a van to be in its full seating capacity since the van leaves the terminal only if it is on its full capacity. Another reason I don’t ride the van during my college years is that it is a little bit pricey for a student. I think it was 10 or 20 pesos much expensive than the fare in the ordinary bus. The ordinary bus travel time back in my college years was about an hour sometimes less than an hour or an hour and few minutes more. I also have the option to ride an airconditioned bus bound for Legazpi but it is out of way going to our house since all airconditioned bus plying the Naga-Legazpi route always use the diversion road and it doesn’t pass by Iriga City.

Naga-Legazpi bound buses

After college, I stayed in Manila for more than 5 years and then I decided to go back to Bicol for good since I am now working online. I am now more disappointed than ever when riding a bus kasi lalo na silang lumala to the point na maiinis ka na sa kabagalan ng patakbo nila at sobrang masasayang ang oras mo kung sasakay ka ng ordinary bus plying the Naga-Legazpi route.

Naga City to Legazpi City is, I think, less than 100 kilometers in distance and if you’ll travel by private car, it would only take you 1.5 to 2 hours of travel. If you’ll be travelling by passenger van, it would take you about 2 to 2.5 hours of travel. And if you’ll be travelling by airconditioned bus, it would take you 2.5 to 3.5 hours of travel. But if you’ll be travelling by the non-airconditioned/ordinary bus, it would take you a lifetime and eons maybe!! Hehehe! No, kidding aside, travelling to Legazpi City from Naga City via ordinary/non-airconditioned bus would take you about 3.5 to 5 hours of travel. Just imagine the time you will be wasting by riding these kinds of buses. So if you’re in a hurry and you don’t want to waste your precious time, NEVER EVER EVER EVER RIDE THE ORDINARY BUSES OR EVEN THE AIRCONDITIONED BUSES in Bicol, specifically those buses plying the Naga City to Legazpi City.

Iriga City Bus Terminal

Naga City Bus Terminal

Naga City Central Bus Terminal

I still ride the ordinary bus today because the people living in Iriga only have 2 options. It’s either to ride a van or the ordinary bus. I am not really a passenger van fanatic since most of the time, passengers were cramped inside the van. Medjo naiipit kasi ang tuhod ko sa van kasi medjo matangkad ako. So what I usually do is to ride an ordinary bus to the next town, and then from Baao town, I’ll ride again an airconditioned bus which is a BIT faster compared to the ordinary bus. If I ride an ordinary bus to Naga City from Iriga, it would take me 1.5 hours to 2 hours of travel. By transferring to an airconditioned bus in the neighboring town of Iriga, which is Baao town, I cut my travel time to just 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, therefore I don’t have to waste extra 15 or 30 minutes. Wala kasing aircon bus na dumadaan sa Iriga kasi sa diversion road dumadaan lahat ng aircon bus.

In Metro Manila, naguunahan at nagkakarera ang mga bus para makakuha ng pasahero but in Bicol, it is the opposite. Binabagalan nila ang patakbo nila para makakuha daw ng mas maraming pasahero. The word “bagal” here is equivalent to a travelling speed of 10 to 30 kilometers per hour. Kasing bagal yan ng tricycle at minsan mas mabilis pa ang bicycle. Yung Iriga City to Baao town nga na 7 to 8 kilometers lang ang layo ay inaabot na ng 20 minutes na travel. These buses don’t care much about their passengers. They are more concerned about the income na kikitain nila at wala silang pakiaalam kung nagrereklamo na ang mga pasahero or ma-late sa office ang mga pasahero nila. They just don’t care. And once na nagreklamo ka sa driver or sa bus conductor, sasabihin pa nila sayo na kung gusto mo daw ng mabilis na byahe, bumili ka na lang daw ng sarili mong sasakyan or sumakay ka na lang ng van or sisisihin ka pa nila na alam mo naman daw na mabagal ang bus bakit daw sumakay ka pa sa kanila.

provincial buses in Bicol

Another reason it takes them longer time to reach their destination is the longer waiting time in bus stops. The Iriga City to Naga City route will pass by 3 towns and there are about 4 bus stops, and that doesn’t include the stops being made to pick up every passenger na nakikita nila sa kalsada and yung mga stops every time na may bumababa na pasahero. In every bus stop, the bus waits for about 5 to 15 minutes, and usually ang nangyayari ay hihintayin muna nila na dumating yung isa pang bus na sumusunod sa kanila bago sila umalis sa bus stop and it really doesn’t matter kahit 10 to 15 minutes pa ang layo ng next bus na sumusunod sa kanila. By computing 4 bus stops multiplied by an average of 10 minutes, that means 40 minutes na agad ang nasayang mo sa loob ng bus.

Marami pang mga bad practices ang mga bus companies sa Bicol and I’ve been to some provinces na din sa Pilipinas at masasabi ko na talagang nakakainis din ang service na ibinibigay ng mga bus companies dito sa Bicol lalong lalo na ang mga ordinary/non-airconditioned buses. Okay lang sumakay sa ordinary bus kung short distance lang ang pupuntahan nyo, mga 5 kilometers or less but if you’re travelling for a long distance, NEVER EVER EVER RIDE the local provincial bus kung ayaw nyo masayang ang oras nyo. Better ride a passenger van na lang or kausapin nyo na lang ang mga Manila-bound buses na kung pwede pasakayin kayo para mas mabilis ang byahe nyo.
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