Legacy Suites Masbate

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Masbate is the venue for the  Grand National Rodeo Finals, with cowboys and cowgirls from all over the Philippines competing. Participants are students taking up Animal Science, or Veterinary Medicine, or Animal Husbandry etc. Professional cowboys from the different cattle ranches around the country compete in the professional category. Events  include bull riding, carambola, lassoing, etc. I have been attending the event since 2013. This year was my third.

Rodeo Event: Carambola

Rodeo Event: Carambola

 

 

Last year, I stayed in a hotel reputed to be the best — – even President Aquino was supposed to have stayed there when the search and rescue operation for Secretary Robredo was being done. I found that hotel inadequate, and actually lacked proper sanitation. The lavatory was leaking, and from indications it has been forever leaking and not being fixed. A very dirty rug was placed underneath to keep the water from spreading throughout the toilet floor.  Wet and dirty turned out to be smelly. Thus, the search for my Year 3 hotel.

I saw Legacy Suites last year when my FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group friends and I were having a bulalo dinner at the Boulevard by the Circumferential Road. It looked good, and I thought getting a room facing the ocean would be a good idea.

The hotel faces the ocean.

The hotel faces the ocean.

the view from the hotel

the view from the hotel

Early this year, I googled the hotel, looked at the photos of the rooms, and saw their contact details. They have single rooms and family rooms with 2 big beds. I thought that if they only took away one bed from the family room and added a sofa instead, plus a breakfast table where I could also work on my computer, that would be good. I sent a message through their website asking if my idea of reconfiguring the room would be acceptable. To my pleasant surprise, the lady owner (they are a hands-on husband and wife team) said she will. So I promptly booked the room for the Rodeo week which was 3 months away.

I arrived in Masbate April 14 early in the morning. And another pleasant surprise came in: the owner, Basil, was at the airport to pick me up. Had coffee as my luggage was being brought up to my second-floor room.

the coffee shop

the coffee shop

When I went up the room, I was happy to see the room with the sofa and the coffee table. And the room had two verandas, albeit small. One opened to the farm view at the back, the bigger one opened to a view of the ocean.

Room 8: my room, reconfigured following my request by email.

Room 8: my room, reconfigured following my request by email.

 

the sliding glass dorr opens to a small veranda facing the ocean

the sliding glass dorr opens to a small veranda facing the ocean

The rodeo took up most of my days. But I had the occasion to have lunch and dinner at the hotel. Basil, as it turns out, also cooks, and did my fish sinigang lunch and my steamed fish dinner the following day. How hands-on can an owner get?

Legacy Suites has a small function room that I figure is booked for meetings and private dinners.

Function Room

Function Room

 

My favorite spot is the row of al fresco seats outside the coffee shop, at the front of the hotel. A perfect spot to enjoy coffee. The area is also where the Souvenir Shop stands (at the far end). Realizing I forgot my shades, I was happy to buy one for P500.

my favorite spot for coffee or a refreshing bottle of beer

my favorite spot for coffee or a refreshing bottle of beer

I checked out after 6 days happy that I had a clean hotel room in a hotel with welcoming and attentive owners and staff.  Back in Manila, the lady owner emailed to thank me, and said they are open to suggestions, in case I have some. I suggested that they could build a clothes cabinet  – – – my clothes were piled up on top of my luggage on a luggage rack. I also suggested that a solid spring mattress would be more comfortable than the foam mattress I slept in. And some other small details. I figure the owners would heed my request, if my requests prior to my first stay is an indication. And Legacy Suites will then be the undisputed best hotel in Masbate when that happens.

Masbate, Once Again

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My third Rodeo trip to Masbate. This is addicting. Masbate, I mean – – – not just the rodeo.

Event: Carambola

Event: Carambola

For starters, I have become a member of VROoM, the Volunteer Rodeo Officers of Masbate, the implementing arm of Rodeo Masbateno, Inc. VROoM men and women are on the ground, at the arena, running the events as jusges, timers, stockyard managers, tabulators, etc. I have been designated as timer for Rodeo 2015, a duty I failed to perform due to a doctor’s order for me to stay out of the sun for hours.

A cowboy must stay on top of the bull for 8 seconds to qualify. Very vew do. And all of them eventually fall off the bull.

A cowboy must stay on top of the bull for 8 seconds to qualify. Very vew do. And all of them eventually fall off the bull.

 

And sometimes the bull gets to ride the cowboy

And sometimes the bull gets to ride the cowboy

 

action can start right on the streets, when  a cow decides to be "pasawy" on the cattle drive

action can start right on the streets, when a cow decides to be “pasawy” on the cattle drive

Secondly, every trip to Masbate is a discovery of some new place. And a return to familiar places that one would not want to miss when in town. Like the Buntod Marine Sanctuary and SUTUKIL, that restaurant I blogged about for having delicious food at unbelievably low prices.

the reef staff

the reef staff house

 

the reef is also a mangrove preserve

the reef is also a mangrove preserve

 

We also visited majaba, an island southwest of Masbate City, and never been visited by probably 99% of Masbatenos

We also visited majaba, an island southwest of Masbate City, and never been visited by probably 99% of Masbatenos

the Majaba island is sizeable, and boys use the paragos to transport stuff

the Majaba island is sizeable, and boys use the paragos to transport stuff

close to Majaba is Nabuktut, an island that is essentially a sandbar

close to Majaba is Nabuktut, an island that is essentially a sandbar

Bugui Point lighthouse revisited. In Aroroy, Masbate

Bugui Point lighthouse revisited. In Aroroy, Masbate

Bugui

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The Masbatenos have become friends. I am invited to the brainstorm for Rodeo 2015. And as I write this, cowboys from Masbate are on the road, coming to my Tagaytay home to wish me happy birthday. And participate in a canao I planned for tomorrow.

Nabuktut

Masbate will make you want to visit, again and again.

Ifugao Native House in Tagaytay Paradiso

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I have always been a wanderer and one of the best spots I have visited is the province of Ifugao, peopled by Ifugaos. They make sure visitors know that Ifugaos and Igorots are not the same. Ifugao is home of the Banaue.

A native house is a coveted accommodations option when visiting Banaue. What could be more authentic than waking up to cool mountain air, opening your native hut window to the view of the majestic rice terraces?

Banaue is quite a drive. And now it doesn’t feel so, with my own authentic Ifugao native house. Built by Ifugaos who chew on betel nut “nganga” made up of ikmo, bunga, apog and maskada. I was tempted to try the nganga when one of them left his nganga box.

My Ifugao native house is not a local recreation of the real thing. It is real as real gets – – native Ifugaos actually crafting and building it the way they build in Ifugao. The pieces are made like one big LEGO structure where the pieces fit, without nails.

See how it was done.

Delfin, the maestro. He is a jolly Ifugao who spins jokes and spits the nganga around the area where the native house was being built.

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Starting to build

BUILDING THE NATIVE HOUSE

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No nails. Just tongue going into the groove.

The horizontal thing that keeps rates away

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

The house is done, and a canao is planned for blessings. Everyone must come in full Ifugao (or nearby tribes) costume. That only means bahag (g-string) for men, and tapis and blouse for women.

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For the housewarming, a native ritual called canao is scheduled on May 2, with authentic Ifugao people invited. All guests will also be coming in native attire. Non-costumed or partly-costumed friends will not be allowed, just for this party – – because the authenticity of the planned canao ritual must be followed.

Scorecard: House: done. Cool mountain air : done (Tagaytay has cool mountain air). Rice Terraces: major problem. But maybe a can build three short tiers of rice terraces beside it. Hahahaha.

Iloilo : Dinagyang

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Iloilo is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines, and is home to the most colorful festival honoring the child Jesus, known as the Sto. Nino.

Tribu Obreros

Tribu Obreros

I went there last weekend to join the festivities and to capture the colors and the soul of the event wherein “tribes” from the different towns and cities in Iloilo participate. If one did not know, he will think that the warriors are real tribesmen, what with their bodies painted either black or very dark brown.

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Each contingent is well funded, and donations from the different businesses in their localities fund the elaborate costumes and props. Each of the participating tribes are  made up of more or less 500 participants, including the warriors and the ladies, the chieftains and the religious leaders, the musicians on their eardrums-assaulting drums, the propsmen, the barangay officials on parade, and the choreographers and costume designers.

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If one has not been to Dinagyang, he will never really appreciate the spectacle, and the scale of the event. The props are huge and mechanized, much like crude versions of props in Broadway productions. And each presentation includes a lot of huge props, one setting for every phase of the 6-minute presentation.

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Each of the tribes perform in front of 5 sets of judges on 5 different stages. Thus, photographers and spectators do not have to crane squeeze into one location and crane their necks. In my years of covering all festivals in the Philippines, Dinagyang stands aout as the most organized. Tribes are given an hour to set up, 6 minutes to perform, and another one minute to exit and proeed to the next stage.

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For photography hobbyists, Dinagyang is a must-go-to event. The performers are in their elements, their mouths are wide open when they shout, and their faces tell the story the tribe wants to impart.

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Dinagyang happens every third weekend of January. I strongly urge everyone to go. Book a seat on any one stage for a good view. More importantly, book your hotel as early as 2 months ahead, or one month ahead at the latest. And make sure you book your flight or your boat trip ahead, too.

A good way of not missing the trip is to book well ahead and visit the ancestral homes and old churches around Iloilo. The three most notable churches one should not miss are Miag-ao, the church in Molo, and the church in Jaro. Visit, too, the Balay nga Bato where your entrance fee includes a biscocho snack with hot thick chocolates.

There are many hotel in Iloilo. My top 3 choices are Amigo Terrace (refurbished) at the city center, the good old Sarabia Manor, and the very clean Grand Dame (if you don’t mind a public market right by your doorsteps).

I shall write about these churches and other destinations and show photos and contact details of these hotels on another day on this same blog page.

Tibiao in Tagaytay

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Just a preview.
I went to Iloilo last October 10 with the intention of going to Tibiao, Antique,  to get ourselves (me and my wife) immersed in a huge hot bath. In Tibiao, they add herbs to the lukewarm water. The hot bath is actually a giant “kawa” used in the making of muscovado in the earlier years. Enterprising resort owners made them into a spa.
Unfortunately, the heavy rains two days before our Iloilo-Antique holiday caused the bridge connecting Iloilo and Antique to become impassable.

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Had to content ourselves taking photographs around the southern part of Iloilo, up to San Joaquin where the bridge was located. Took photos of Iloilo’s beautiful churches instead. But my chief destination was Tibiao.

Now I do not need to go to Tibiao. I brought Tibiao to my PARADISO in Tagaytay.

Paradiso Tagaytay

DAYTOUR : DRIVING SOUTH OF CEBU

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This is a nice tour once you have done the usual Cebu tour of the Magellan’s Cross, Taoist Temple, the Sto Nino Shrine, the Gorordo Mansion, Tops, etc. Time to head south.

Hit the road going to Argao and Cagbalete and head back via Toledo, Balamban, and return to Cebu City via Nivel Hills – – where Marco Polo Hotel is.

You will be passing thru The cities and towns of Talisay, Minglanilla, San Fernando, Naga, Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, and then return via the coastal city of Toledo. You need to rent a car or hire a taxi for this wonderful tour. Hotel cars can be arranged for P5,000 for 8 hours, taxi’s can be negotiated for P3,000.00.

Stop and take photos.

Talisay

Talisay

This Naga is not in Bicol

This Naga is not in Bicol

CARCAR

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Carcar is a major stop. You can buy shoes and slippers, or ampawa and chicharon. These are the major finds in this city. But the visitor will most likely spend a bit more time taking photos of Carcar’s beautiful church, the museum beside it, and its many old homes.

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

shop for shoes and bags - - this is Cebu's Marikina

shop for shoes and bags – – this is Cebu’s Marikina

the old church

the old church

and the museum

and the museum

one of the many old houses

one of the many old houses

SIBONGA

Among photo hobbyists, the biggest stop is probably Sibonga with the castle-like Simala Church. The structure is very much unlike any other church in the country. Perhaps unlike any other church in the world.
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To non hobbyists, it is a pilgrimage place, pretty much like the Manaoag church in Pangasinan where devotees queue to get to touch the statue of the virgin

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as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways

as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways

ARGAO

The top attracation of Argao is the cathedral. There is a nearby cafe for the weary and the famished, before heading back to the city.

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DRIVING BACK

the church in Toledo

the church in Toledo

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when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

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