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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Liliw Laguna: Home to nice Flip Flops and Espadrille

Just some pieces of
nice espadrilles
The facade of San Bartolome Church
“NICE SHOES WILL TAKE YOU TO NICE PLACES.”  Upon hearing this from a Koreanobela, Boys Over Flower, it stopped me from visiting thrift shops for a good pair of shoes. But it gave me ample time to wait for the next SALE season. 
Further to my piece on Laguna Loop, before heading to Liliw, Laguna, the group stopped at the San Bartolome Church.  As per Filipino tradition, a short visit at any church will guarantee a safe travel. But I think I hit two birds with one stone (cliché as it is.)  I found a treasure in Nagcarlan Church.  As per my reading - The architecture of Nagcarlan Church is Baroque. Its facade has a semicircular arched main entrance flanked by semicircular windows. Its bell has Muslim-inspired crenellations. The embellishments of the facade and the side entrances are distinctly Baroque and this impression is enhanced by the play of light and shade among the architectural details which include tall pedestals which lift the columns on the second level, fenestrations and columns of varying number and length. These details alter the church's otherwise stolid rectangular structure. (en.wikipilipinas)
The captivating altar of San Bartolome Church. 
 Holy and nifty.
After the thank-yous-for-the-blessings and please-keep-this-trip-safe prayers, we left our hopes and prayers to all the saints we met and greeted. With renewed spirits and strength, Liliw, Laguna seemed a good breather
“Liliw is a 4th class municipality in the province of Laguna, Philippines. It is one of the highland towns forming the southern extremity of the province  It has a total land area of 88.5 sq. miles. Bounded on the northwest by Sta. Cruz; northeast by Magdalena; on the east by Majayjay; on the west by Nagcarlan; and on the south by Dolores, Quezon, Liliw is perhaps best known for its cold water spring resorts, native homemade sweets and a sizeable shoe industry that rivals that of Marikina City.”  (,_Laguna)
A dose of espadrilles for summer.
A short stretch displays an array of shoes stores. Although I heard nice shoes stores in Marikina, but this Liliw is just one spectacular display of Filipino talent and ingenuity.  Alighting from the van, a kesong puti vendor effortlessly sold me his wares and clueless on what to do with the keso (so affordable at P35 per pack), i accidentally left it while scavenging for my size.

And since summer is inevitable, the picture of espadrille is so engaging not to mention welcoming. Originally priced at P450.00 – a good talk with the tindera would end with P300.00.

Well, a good smile is always the best accessory.  And a good smile just landed me a nice pair of espadrille.  Now,  I am ready for summer.  

More Photos of the short trip (day tour actually)

The entrance of San Bartolome Church.

This piece of art showcases heaven and hell.
Gela, my Persian co-teacher is so amazed
that she thought of "converting" to Christianity.

The Laguna Loop ended with visiting Mer-Nel's Cake Shop
in Los Banos, Laguna.
If you are tired with the perennial sight of Buko Pie,
then don't ever dare go home without a box from Mer-Nel's.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Laguna Loop: Now on with the First Pit Stop, the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery


Although I had been to Laguna for so many times (not to mention my brother lives in Cabuyao) and my friend Sandie is from Rizal, Laguna, out of inquisitiveness, I checked the itinerary if I could spend the whole trip slumbering. Well, they had an underground cemetery and Liliw, Laguna before heading to Los Banos. 

The underground Cemetery was new to me. Although I had seen cemeteries before but with an underground one was something made me attracted. The trip was ok with tolerable volume of traffic when we reached Alabang.  After a short stop at Starbucks, SLEX (the students are hell crazy with it), I opted to get my lowly supply of caffeine from Jollibee.

First pit stop: Nagcarlan, Laguna.

Nagcarlan is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Laguna, Philippines. It is 21 kilometers northeast of San Pablo City, or 99 kilometers south of Manila, Philippines.  So, the 99 kilometers is translated to 2 hours of road trip.  It was drizzling and the clouds were not too blue for my lenses. But it never daunted my spirit to get awed. Truly, the beauty of the cemetery begins at the gate: “An arched gate leads to the chapel built into the cemetery's inner wall.”

“The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery Historical Landmark is a fine example of Spanish colonial architecture. Built by the Franciscan Friar Vicente Velloc in 1845, its octagonal grounds are enclosed by a wall decorated with wrought-iron grills and stonework meant to look like drapery.” (

The chapel is not that big. I mean don’t expect too much on the dimension.  Just allow yourself to get immersed with its history.   “This underground section of the cemetery played an important role in our history.  Throughout the Revolution of 1896 and the Filipino-American War, our fighting patriots used the crypt as a secret hideout, gathering here to plan their moves or to seek shelter.  Similarly, it became a safehouse for guerillas during the World War II.” (same source)

Now, that is history overload.  But don’t be depressed.  The pasalubong at the entrance of the chapel, delectable and affordable, offers a door to present times, just in case you undergo 1896 homecoming romanticism.

Now…on to the next pit stop, Liliw, Laguna.

 The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery Historical Landmark is located in Nagcarlan a mountainside town of Laguna. The landmark is open for public viewing from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. For inquiries please contact the NHI central office at telephone number +63 2 5249952.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Three Cities in One Sitting: A spur from Eat – Pray - Love

Photo from Google
For two successive weekends, my big rocks were left untouched and I soaked myself  watching movies in my almost worn-out DVD player.  To mention some (topping the list) From Justin to Kelly – a musical movie; think of High School Musical on a Spring Break at the California Beach.  With the beaches (and the bitches) the bods and the bodies – who will not love it especially summer is lurking  somewhere. 

Next is Julie and Julia – this one is about food and blogging. Though I won’t write reviews on these two movies. I will just leave that one to the experts.
But the latest movie I watched (after an exasperating day of checking the final papers of my students) brought me to three places in one sitting (literary in one sitting).  EAT – PRAY- LOVE is just one movie that I will keep in my treasure chest. Not to mention Under the Tuscan Sun also. 

Photo from Goggle
 EAT – ITALY.  All my life I have been dreaming of Italy.  The Food, the Language, the People, the Culture; everything Italian looks perfect.  The Gods must have settled first in Italy before migrating to Athens. I’m always left awed every time I watched movies filmed in Italy. In fact, Italy was not supposed to be part of my World Literature syllabus but I managed to squeeze it. I always feel this distinctive connection.  It must be my DNA.

PRAY – INDIA.  Namaste! India is my cousin Nui’s dream place. It is inevitable not to include India in any World Literature class. I had it at the very beginning of my class.  India – the land overflowing with religion.  Although I am not so India person because I cannot meditate and be vegan but visiting the place is more than a privilege.

Photo from Google

LOVE – BALI, Indonesia. The tsunami that hit Bali was insignificant to my impressions of the place. I know Philippines is a paradise to any tourist but Bali is heaven to me.  I have visited Bangkok (Pattaya) and partied hard, but that’s all that I remember of Pattaya. Though the occasional site of the massage parlors is not new to me (we have plenty in Manila) but the therapists are a sight to behold.  You will know what I mean when you get there.
Eat- Pray-Love – a movie that will appease me when things get uninteresting and life dull. For now I will Eat… I will Pray and I will Love wherever the place is.  I just have to save more. Enjoy watching.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NO RUZ: (Manila based) Persians New Year's Party

What’s a Filipino doing in a Persian Party?  I was toiling with the idea while I was on my way to meet Gela, my co-teacher who is an Iranian.  Two weeks earlier, she was talking about Iranian food and other Iranian stuffs and accidentally she mentioned about the Iranian New Year. I was flabbergasted because summer was about to start (note: early as January I was already buying shorts at my ukay-ukay suki) and Iran was about to have their New Year’s Party.
Curiosity tickled my imagination and I started thinking of Iranian music and clothes, the shishas and the food, since it was supposed to be their New Year’s Celebration. “In the Persian calendar (used in Iran and Afghanistan) New Year's Day falls on the spring equinox (March 20 or 21 in the Gregorian calendar).” From Yahoo.
Saturday came and I was still undecided to wear my “Indian” costume since it was near to Iran national dress or I would wear my “normal” party get up.  Good thing I have good friends who “argued” with me a bit and forced me to wear my “normal” party get up (so as not to look over dressed for the party.)
I met Gela and her friends at Grilla (a promising bar along Kalayaan Avenue) for a pre-Persian Party.  Meeting Iranians for a shindig was something beyond my imagination. I had not tried going out with “pure” non-nationals though I tried going out with mixed ones; like a two or three non-nationals and the rest were locals.  Going out with them would mean two things: I would be speaking in English the whole time and I would solicit few discriminating stares. 
The venue was Sicorro Bar along Jupiter Street in Makati City. It was past 11 p.m. when we reached the venue.  My system started to malfunction as Iranians were lining for the entrance. I felt a total stranger in my own country as Iranians were “invading” my homeland. News in Libya and Egypt started to fill my head and the flashes of the news about the Iran-Iraq war brought a vibrant recollection.  Reality sat in when Gela called me for a stamp.  One Iranian ushered me in after I got a star on my right palm.
The venue was just right for the party; simple and no trace of elegance of an Arabian party. There were no chairs but cocktail tables covered with black linen (but that didn’t mean anything with the celebration).  We head straight to the bar hoping to reserve the area for us as more Iranians were coming. 
Iranians are beautiful people. The women wore big hair, reminiscent of the Olympian Goddesses. The men were simple and equally beautiful.  It was a shocking surprise (I have not studied Iranian culture and their literature was not even part of my syllabus for World Literature) to see Iranian men kissing each other’s cheek three times when greeting. I guess I was just conservative as my greeting is limited to hand shake or the “beso-beso.”
The dancing part was a bit intriguing. Iranians don’t “mixed” dance: I mean, men dance with men and women dance with women.  Although it was a sight to see them dancing. Unlike Filipinos who are more into Western steps, Iranians still maintain (and proud) of their native steps. There were more “hips” dancing than “hip” dancing. The music? Any patriotic Filipino will come to realize how less patriotic he can get once he joins a Persian Party. From the moment I came in up to the time my bed was calling me, there was nothing but Persian music. Oh, I remembered there was one English song, but sad to note they mixed it with an Iranian song and that didn’t count one.  And one thing that surprised me exceedingly, they all know the songs and everybody was singing.  That was one impressive act to follow.  To date, I have not memorized Francis Magalona’s  “Mga Kababayan Ko” even after his demise.
Although it was not really a real Persian experience or their NO RUZ party, a taste of it just started it all. Next time, it will be more than Salam!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PVL's Jumbo Siopao: A full-size gastronomic experience.

My penchant for something unique and weird brought me to schedule my sedentary Saturday to check Brgy. New Zaniga, Mandaluyong City.  Few days earlier, Dan, a foodie by physique, texted me about this big “siopao” he discovered in Vergara, Mandaluyong.  A “non-siopao” fan, it didn’t thrill my appetite for the discovery as I had tasted different “siopao” preparations in the past.  Not until he sent me a picture of the “siopao”.

“Siopao (traditional Chinese: sio-pau) is a Hokkien term for baozi, literally meaning steamed buns. It is also called salapao in Thailand. It is a popular food item in the Philippines. It does not require utensils to eat and can be consumed on-the-go. Like baozi, there are several siopao stuffing varieties which could be either Asado or bola-bola that may use pork, chicken, beef, shrimp or salted duck eggs” -  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
To really check it myself, I intentionally dragged myself to sleep early (Friday night is translated to Gin night with friends).  Their laughter and the occasional clanking of their glasses reverberated to my close-to-shut-down system.  I almost gave up but the picture of the big “siopao” saved me for the night.
The morning was fine.  I had a positive outlook that my big rock for the day would soon have its way to fulfillment after failing few big rocks months earlier. I towed my two housemates for the experience. The MRT ride from Taft Avenue Station to Shaw Boulevard took me 20 minutes cutting more than 1 hour of the travel time if I had taken the bus but missed the prospect of planning  and the infrequent “wishful thinking” – whichever comes first. 
The jeepney ride from Shaw Boulevard to Kalentong and Kalentong to Vergara was strenuous.  MMDA should take a look into our Jeepneys – once considered a Philippine Icon.  Gone are the days when one is proud with the beauty of our Jeepneys as Thais to their Tuk-tuk and Venetians to their Gondolas.  
A corner right in front of the entrance of San Felipe Cemetery leads you to the main street leading to PVL – maker of the big “siopao.” The façade doesn’t really look that imposing – not even to epicurean like me.  There are three PVL stores but the picture of the big “siopao” intimidated us.
I gathered after the photo op that their “siopao” is now into the pages of Pinoy Record-the national equivalent to Guinness Book of Records. Although when I started my “interview” – the “tindera” was not that accommodating. I learned that it is owned by certain Norma Lim.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.
But the great fun started when our big “siopao” was served and it was really BIG – I mean colossal?!  I know the eating capacity of my two housemates (me included) and we managed to have left over. That’s how BIG their “siopao” is.  Well, we have what we call “our personal opinion”. (Lol)

Blogger's Note:

Thanks Vince22 for the correction. It is highly appreciated. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shell of Asia in Bulacan

February 27, 2011 and SUNday.  Before the “long weekend” ended, another charming invitation to Apu Iru in Apalit, Pampanga proved so overwhelming to resist. Although, I already uploaded some of the photos of my first visit, the second visit was equally enchanting.  The ambience was still correspondingly indolent although the number of tricycles improved a bit, with casual carts of fruits and vegetables plying along the almost occupied street.
It was a sunny Sunday, but the atmosphere was just enough.  The traffic was considerably satisfactory and the gasoline stations were agreeably happy with a pack of vehicles from a long-weekend-trip.  This North side of Luzon carries promising places for long and short weekends with NLEX that makes one trip a “walk in the park”.  

Photo from Yahoo
 The North Luzon Expressway (NLE or NLEX), formerly called North Diversion Road, is a 4 to 8-lane limited-access toll expressway that connects Metro Manila to the provinces of the Central Luzon region in the Philippines. The expressway begins in Quezon City at a cloverleaf interchange with EDSA: a logical continuation of Andres Bonifacio Avenue. It then passes through Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Valenzuela City in Metro Manila. Meycauayan City, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, Malolos City, Plaridel, and Pulilan in Bulacan. San Simon, City of San Fernando, Mexico and Angeles City in Pampanga. The expressway currently ends at Mabalacat and merges with the MacArthur Highway, which continues northward into the rest of Central and Northern Luzon.” (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Photo from Yahoo

No wonder, with a good number of pleasant gasoline stations/food courts, one can  still pick out  SHELL OF ASIA – unquestionably not a development from a famed MALL OF ASIA.  
Photo from Yahoo
Compared to other gasoline stations (I think I should not use the word “compared” but I ran out of words while writing this stuff), the Shell of Asia is a promising  - of course,  a gasoline station. But its services and facilities make it recommendable.  The comfort rooms are true to their labels – they are so comfortable and hygienic (aside from calling it clean).  So sad I forgot to bring my dependable Canon 1000D, I had to upload some photos from my other dependable google. Although we did not check the restaurants/fast food chains, I promised myself to spend a moment of coffee at the SHELL OF ASIA.

About Me

"There is no happiness for the person who does not travel. For Indra is the friend of the traveler, therefore wander!" by Brähmann On a personal note, I don't know Brahmann nor Indra, but the lines speak more than they are read. I gave birth to this travel blog, inspite of the fact that there are zillion of travel blogs out there, to share with you all that we can see the world without spending TOO MUCH. This is my Travel-budget-blog.