Iloilo : Dinagyang

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The Dinagyang experience will make you want to return. And so I will be in Iloilo on January 22 to 25 for Dinagyang 2016.

LAKWATSA

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.

Dinagyang 2015 211

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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Masbate. So Beautiful. So Underrated. Updated Version

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This edit includes my recent visits. Including a camping experience atop a hill at Sese Brahmans in Mandaon, a visit to an ancestral home within the city center, and a hilltop viewpoint in Mobo.

Mayong Payong is accessed via an unpaved uphill road. It is advised, until the roads are paved, to bring only 4X4 SUVs. A friend of mine managed to go up on his sturdy Toyota Grandia, but it had to take an excellent driver like him to manage the rough, slippery road. Locals without transportation go up via habal habal, or backriding on single motorbikes.

Overnight accommodations can be arranged in huts that cost only P200 per night, but you will need to bring all your provisions because the kubos are rented out bare. A couple sells coffee and light snacks.

Mayong Payong

Mayong Payong

 

Buntod is probably the most famous Masbate destination. But it is best viewed from Mayong Payong.

Buntod is probably the most famous Masbate destination. But it is best viewed from Mayong Payong.

 

VILLA BAYOT

Villa Bayot is the home of what locals call Santo Entierro, actually the image of Jesus Christ enclosed in a glass case. It is a destination among the religious. But those wanting to merely appreciate the grandeur of this old ancestral house can make arrangements, like we did when we did a photoshoot.

A beautiful lass in period costume. She is actually one of the descendants of the old family.

A beautiful lass in period costume. She is actually one of the descendants of the old family.

 

NEARBY ISLANDS

If you can, try to arrange for island hopping from the port at Mandaon. In fact, one can go to Sibuyan and on to Boracay from this port. As this was a side trip for one day, we visited two islands most Masbatenos have never even heard of, much less seen,

Majaba is home to probaly only 5 families. Beautiful beach all around.

Majaba is home to probaly only 5 families. Beautiful beach all around.

 

Nabuktut is a sandbar. Here I met an old man that reminded of the story of The Old Man and the Sea.

Nabuktut is a sandbar. Here I met an old man that reminded of the story of The Old Man and the Sea.

 

TICAO ISLAND

I made a separate visit to Ticao and one may refer to the sights within this island. I thought that to complete a Masbate feature, I needed to show at least the most popular destinations.

Matang Tubig is the most famous local destination. It is a bathing pool from a natural spring. Refreshing.

Matang Tubig is the most famous local destination. It is a bathing pool from a natural spring. Refreshing.

 

This beautiful house is where the Bishop stays when in Ticao

This beautiful house is where the Bishop stays when in Ticao

 

There are many old, weather-beaten homes in Ticao. This one is in Monreal.

There are many old, weather-beaten homes in Ticao. This one is in Monreal.

 

MASBATE RANCH LIFE

The Rodeo Masbateno, Inc. has recently opened to the public, locals and visitors alike, an opportunity to experience Ranch Life. Stay on a tent on the hilltop overnight and gaze at the stars. Ride a horse down the meadow. Make your coffee cowboy-style. But the difference from a rough camping experience is that the venue has hotel-standard toilets and baths.

Be a cowboy or a cowgirl at the Rodeo Masbateno, Inc Ranch Life offer

Be a cowboy or a cowgirl at the Rodeo Masbateno, Inc Ranch Life offer

 

Our ranch life experience was highlighted by a bonfire on the hilltop with only the stars above us.

Our ranch life experience was highlighted by a bonfire on the hilltop with only the stars above us.

 

Rodeo Masbateno, Inc also hosts the Rodeo Festival, scheduled April 12-17 this year (2016). In photo is the Cattle Drive which ushers the start of the rodeo season.

Rodeo Masbateno, Inc also hosts the Rodeo Festival, scheduled April 12-17 this year (2016). In photo is the Cattle Drive which ushers the start of the rodeo season.

Come to Masbate. I am probably the only non-Masbateno who has traveled the most number of times and covered most of the province. Only because #MasbateProvince is beautiful, and the people are nice.

LAKWATSA

I first went to Masbate in 1978. I remember Masbate to be a very poor province. I always tell my friends that I then checked in at Crown Hotel near the pier and, when it was time for shower, the hotel staff would fetch me a huge pail of water – – brought to my second floor room from a pulley at the end of the hall.

Fast forward to 2013. Friends piqued my interest to watch the Masbate Rodeo and I thought it was an excellent subject for photography.

Image Bull riding

Image Barn dance at the Rodeo opening ceremonies

In between the rodeo events, my friends and I would go to “tourist destinations” but I did not have enough material then to write about Masbate. This year, I attended Rodeo 2014 and booked myself a much longer stay. In the process, I was able to explore more of Masbate.

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Yap-Sandiego House in Parian, Cebu

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The Yap-Sandiego ancestral house is reputed to be the oldest Chinese house outside of China. According to the guide who handled our tour, the house was built in the late 17th century at the heart of Parian, then a wealthy community in Cebu.

I have seen a lot of ancestral homes in my travels around the country but this one is different in many ways. Most of these ancestral homes  were built by the wealthy  families with Europena/mestizo origins . Or they were houses of the biggest owners of farms and haciendas. They all looked like typical European homes.

Yap-Sandiego stands out because of the way it was constructed.In fact, it  does look and feel like you are in a Chinese movie setting, especially with the brick “tisa” roof – – not the same as the tegula concrete roof cement in today’s modern and affluent homes.

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Clay roof and molave hardwood for this ancestral house. 

A lady receptionist clad in old Filipiniana dress adds to the aura of this heritage home. At the ground level, there are ornaments and antiquities that are collections of the present owner of the house, a descendant from the Sandiego branch of the family. The house is over 300 years old although the antique collections would probably be “younger”.
in the moment

She lives that moment 

Ground Level

The ground floor is unpaved and contains a lot of period furniture and “santos”. Walking around, my eyes were riveted to the wooden structure that is actually the underside of the stairs. I marvelled at the wood that made up the house – – – molave and other hardwood.

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Pebbles on the unpaved ground floor

 

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Sturdy materials for the stairs

 

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Images of saints 

 

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Second Floor
Visitors are asked to wear mittens, provided by the guides,  to cover their shoes or sandals before being allowed on the second floor. This, the guide says, is to make sure the wooden floors are not damaged nor scratched. The first sign of its age, as I went up the second floor, is the creaking staircase, on the left side going up. Noticing how fragile the structure was, I slowly moved and walked up on the right side where it felt more stable.
Photographed from the second floor

Photographed from the second floor

The “banggerahan” ,  a rack for drinking glasses and cups, catches one’s eyes at the second floor, at the dining area. The other focal point  is the bedroom with a four-poster bed and a wooden baby crib. The guide said that even the wealthy Yaps then slept in one and the same bedroom.

 

Banggerahan

Banggerahan on extreme left

 

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The antique items are collections of the present owner, a descendant of the clan. Old interesting items, but not quite as old and as interesting as the 300+ years old house itself. 

 

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 A painting of how the Parian community must have looked like before

 

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Bedroom
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an eye-catching wooden baby crib

 

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Pocket Garden 
There is a pocket garden where one can catch a glimpse of the house from the sides. It was Christmas season when I visited so the lovely lanterns provided an interesting accent to this heritage home.

 

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STREETSIDE

As I took a photo of the house from the street, an ambulant taho vendor walked by, and an old lady came into the scene. I thought these personalities created for me a scene straight out of the late  17th century when Parian was a bustling Cebu district.

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Bonus: Cebu’s History in a Giant Sculpture

Just outside is a mjor tourist attraction. I am showing it from one side and not posting the other angle because a portion of the mural is damaged. I hope the city fixes that ruined part before you visit.

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A short turn from the Yap-Sandiego House is the Museo Cebu, but the facility is closed every Sunday.

YAP-SANDIEGO HOUSE
Open from 9am to 7pm everyday
Entrance fee: P50 per guest
How to get there: 
Hail a taxi/cab and tell the driver to take you to Yap-Sandiego at Parian. This is such a famous landmark that everyone knows.
Address and Contact Details:
155-Lopez Jaena corner Mabini Street
Parian, Cebu City, Philippines
(032) 514 3002 / (032) 514 3003 / (032) 253 5568
For more information, visit their faebook page: