Lubuagan, Kalinga’s Most Historic Town


Most stories about Kalinga revolve around the tribes, the tattooed women, about Wang-od, and inevitably about the rice terraces that compare well, and some claim better, than Banaue and Battad.

Not many visitors to Kalinga look at the town of Lubuagan, mostly bypassing this town en route to Tinglayan. Or onward to Bontoc. They do not know what they are missing.

Not many know that this 4th class municipality was once upon a time the capital of Kalinga. And, in fact, was the seat of the First Philippine Republic when then president General Emilio Aguinaldo based himself here for 73 days from March 6 to May 17, 1900, before his escape and eventual capture in Palanan, Isabela in 1901. He actually celebrated his 31st birthday in Lubuagan, his then seat of government. Consider, too, that Spanish rule was never established in Lubuagan in the 300 years that the Philippines was ruled by Spain. Very impressive history this town has.

Today, a monument of General Aguinaldo is found facing the municipal grounds. It is due for fixing up in preparation for the installation of the marker from the National Historical Institute, scheduled next year.

General Aguinaldo faces what is now the town’s plaza

On my visit to Lubuagan, I was regaled with stories from the town’s very young but also very knowledgeable, and charming tourism officer, Ms Ansharina Odiem. Most of the information I am sharing came from her.

Also referencing from wikipedia:

“The colonial Civil Government notably beginning with the administration of Lt. Governor Franklin Walter Hale (1907) up to the Commonwealth government is considered the golden years of Lubuagan, the capital town of the sub-province of Kalinga.

Lubuagan at that time was the center of education, culture, commerce and trade. The founding of the Kalinga Academy in 1927, a secondary school run by American Missionaries and the St. Teresita’s School, founded even earlier in 1924, a Catholic Primary and High School managed by the CICM Belgian Missionaries bolstered the luster of Lubuagan.

The Japanese Imperial army occupation came to Lubuagan in May 1942.

In 1945 during the war of liberation, Lubuagan was bombed by American planes resulting in the destruction of the Lubuagan Central School which was then occupied by the enemy. The big and beautiful St. Peter’s church of Lubuagan which resembles the Saint Peter’s Basicila of Rome with its high dome, the father’s convent and two more buildings within the compound were all burned to the ground. Lubuagan was once the capital of Kalinga sub-province before Tabuk rose to its present status as the center of learning and government activities. It is also in Lubuagan where the first instruction of higher learning (College) in the old Mt. Province was established.”

old, but repainted

If one is not into history, Lubuagan would still be a good visit for tourists and photography enthusiasts. The town has extensive and scenic rice terraces (Pon-e Rice Terraces and Gapis Rice Terraces) cut into the mountains, rising 2,000 feet (610 m) from the Chico River bed.

The Linas Heritage Homes
Lubuagan is also famous for its heritage homes. No small wonder – –  it was once the province’s center of commerce and, therefore, a showcase of affluence in its time.

Laga Festival

Lubuagan is famous for the Mabilong Weaver’s Village where backstrap weaving is the method, as opposed to loom weaving. Thus, Lubuagan celebrates the excellence of their weaving industry every year, on March 6, coinciding with the day gen Emilio Aguinaldo came. “Laga” means weaving.

Mabilong Weaver’s Village, located along the road, is the center of the ethnic weaving industry in the province. It showcases colorful ethnic backstrap weaving. Here, one can see how the intricate ethnic designs are made and how the colors are mixed. Souvenirs can be bought from the weavers.

I bought a lady’s belt from a store in Pasil, sourced from the Mabilong weavers. The other items are also on display in this souvenir shop in neighboring Pasil.

I did not then realize that one can spend a day or two in this small town, so on my next visit, I have listed down the following, from wikipedia (Other Attractions)

  • Awichon Mesa, a plateau situated at Brgy. Upper Uma, 2 km from the town proper and between Pasil and Lubuagan, is an archaeological site where bones of a prehistoric elephant were found. It was also the landing site of American forces during World War II.
  • Cadamayan Falls, at Brgy. Western Uma, serves as the natural boundary of Pasil, Lubuagan and Tinglayan and can be viewed from the road.
  • Tiwod Spring, the “Fertility Twin Spring”, is believed to be a God-given gift for couples who have not yet had children. Couples who take a bath every morning here and drink its waters will soon bear children.
  • Unexplored Tongango Caves, located just above the poblacion, consists of several chambers connecting the mountains of Lubuagan, Sumadel and Tulgao.


Had I known there were places for me to stay, I would have stayed in Lubuagan. So for prospective visitors, here are the options:

Homestays: JBC Inn, Henrich Homestay – both located at Barangay Poblacion. MA-K Homestay located at the Mabilong Weavers Village. And at Awichon Cultural Village, one of the  attractions on the top list, visitors can sleep in the Kalinga authentic houses.

Average rates range from 200-300/head . Awichon Cultural Village is probably P500 per head. These can be verified with the town’s tourism office.

How to get there

Lubuagan is 50 kilometres fromTabuk, and 460 kilometers north of Manila.


 Contact the Lubuagan Tourism Office :

email: (this was not misspelled, the locals pronounce Lubuagan as Lubuagen, thus this email address)








March 23, 1901.

Cebu City in One Day


I previously posted a 1-day city tour of Cebu. This post is another suggestion for a whole day city tour based on a recent visit.

Best to hire a car for an efficient day. Or hire a taxi later in the day after covering the core destinations within the city.


Remember that this is a religious shrine. Located within the posh Beverly Hills, visitors are treated to the imposing structure of this temple. Non-Taoist guests are welcome, but visitors are not allowed to take photos of the altar and the saints. The view from the temple is beautiful, the city skyline, with the Huge Waterfront Hotel, can be seen from the terraces of the temple.




This fort is the oldest and smallest bastion in the Philippines. It is a lovely spot, pretty much like, albeit a smaller version of, Manila’s Paco Park.





Popular among devotees, and more popular than the cathedral. Old ladies in religious costumes offer candles previously blessed for sale. The altar is beautiful, the ceiling grand.





Across from the church is the city’s most famous landmark, the Magellan’s cross. The original cross is wrapped in the tindalo wooden cross visible to visitors.img_2447



Across from the cross is the Cebu City Hall



Inexpensive lunch can be had at La Fortuna Bakery. This is found at the exit of the Sto Nino Shrine, before Magellan’s Cross. They also have a door fronting the City Hall. They actually have a fast food counter that serves lunch items. Lunch for three, in our case, was less than P300.00img_2466






Reputed to be the oldest Chinese house outside of mainland China. The brick roof is original. The floors are rather squeaky, and guests are made to slip on socks-like protection over their shoes so as not to damage the floors.



Just outside Yap-Sandiego is a huge mural depicting the history of Cebu.



Museo Sugbo means Cebu Museum. I will let the marker describe the structure.img_2553


This is a very interesting destination where one can spend more than an hour if he is s serious student of history. There are many galleries, all air-conditioned, with each one focusing on different stages of history. There are many guides taking turns to explain the different galleries to the visitors. After a rather long journey thru history, guests can avail of refreshments and souvenirs from the shops inside.



If you haven’t hired a car, this is the time to arrange for a hired taxi. Unless you know your way to Tops, as they also offer transportation to and from Tops.





the view from Tops



This is simply the loveliest spot for refreshments, early dinner, if not a real dinner at night. High on a hill in Busay, people go up to Lantaw for the good food and the nice city view while having dinner or drinks. Not a cheap place. Prices are mid-to-above-mid range. img_2637


the view from Lantaw


Temple of Leah is listed on tripadvisor and many city guides as a destination, likening it to the Parthenon. Quite honestly, I was not that interested. I have seen the spot being constructed from way before, right from Lantaw. So I took some iPhone photos of Temple of Leah from the Lantaw veranda.


All of these can be visited in 8 hours. I hired a car from Mabuhay for P5,000 for the first 8 hours. If you must exceed 8 hours, the subsequent charge for every hour in excess is P550. But then I figure that being in comfortable in an air-conditioned car makes this tour more efficient and more pleasurable.

Degustacion and Tertulia

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The heritage town of Taal, Batangas, celebrated Philippine Independence Day with a weekend Art, Food and Fashion Festival.

The old homes were decorated with Philippine flags and the atmosphere was festive.

Villa Tortuga

Villa Tortuga


An art exhibit was nearby, with artists from UST on a reunion.



Meanwhile, preparations for a fashion show were were being done at Paradores, the town’s premier hotel. A degustacion at Casa Feliza appealed to me the most so I went, having booked well ahead as there were limited seats.


Why was it a must-go?

The menu is a mouthwatering version of dishes served during the Malolos Convention, prepared by Chef Giney Villar.

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney


The event host was Elizabeth Angsioco, resplendent in a gown re-created from old gowns.

Beth with media person Howie Severino

Beth with media person Howie Severino

The town’s historian Dindo regaled the visitors with stories from the past, how Taal was also nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO Heritage list, about the festivals in Taal, all in his interesting Batangueno accent.



To highlist history and the link to the Malolos Convention, a delegation from that Bulacan town was present, headed by their vice mayor.



The guests included actors playing guardia civil, General Luna, and then president General Emilio Aguinaldo.

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Casa Feliza was home to Feliza Diokno, then the secretary of President Emilio Aguinaldo. Today, it is open as a taverna at the ground floor, and B&B at the second floor. For the degustacion, the table setting was nothing less than impressive.



I was lost in the bliss of this culinary experience that I forgot to take photos of the dishes. So I instead took a photo of the dessert corner.



Towards the end, a friend of the hosts recited a poem in Spanish. His original composition in English that he translated to Filipino and Spanish.

An event to look forward to in 2017.

Hotel Luna in Vigan

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I did not imagine Vigan will ever have a four-storey luxury hotel. And yet Hotel Luna blends with the heritage village perfectly.

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An old mansion has been converted into Hotel Luna, complete with a grand staircase leading to a spacious upstairs living room that has been turned into a museum. The rooms, typical of old-world mansions, are big. Mine was a Loft Suite (P11,000 per night) with probably 50+ square meters of floor area. It had a comfortable living room with an L-type soft cushioned lounge set, a desk, the coffee and tea bar, plus the wardrobe that came with a room safe. On the same level is a huge bathroom, the size of a room in budget hotels. It had a bathtub reminiscent of the old days, a bath tub with “feet”. The shower stall is separate from the tub. The lavatory is wide and came with a complete set of amenities. The toilet seat is high-tech, with all those buttons for the various functionalities, including warming the seat cover. They also have regular and de-luxe rooms. Please check the website listed below, where you can make inquiries on room rates.




Breakfast was served at the COMEDOR, a lovely restaurant. The buffet  was sumptuous, and the choices were as varied as when I have buffet breakfasts in high-end Makati hotels. And artwork  enhanced the setting.

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A Ramon Orlina piece at the breakfast/dining area



The Museum

I first saw a hotel that had artwork by masters in a Baguio Hotel, and I found out Hotel Luna is also from the same group that owns and runs Le Monet in Baguio. The museum is at the second floor of the heritage building, from the grand staircase.

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La Mandolinera by Juan Luna, Year 1800

Lovers of art and culture will spend good time appreciating paintings and sculpture by national artists. Amorsolo. Vicente Manansala. Federico Alcuaz, Ramon Orlina.  BenCab. Eduardo Castrillo. Guillermo Tolentino. Arturo Luz.  Abdulmari Asia Imao. Malang. And even 1800s works by Juan Luna, plus a reproduction of his Spoliarium.


Sarimanok series by Abdulmari

Sarimanok series by Abdulmari Imao

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an Arturo Luz

an Arturo Luz

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Dos Marias by Federico Alcuaz

Dos Marias by Federico Alcuaz

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Guillermo Tolentino

Guillermo Tolentino, an untitled 1957 work

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a reproduction of Juan Luna's Spoliarium

a reproduction of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium



Surely there were no tall structures in those days. The 4-storey structure must have been a beautiful addition beside the old heritage mansion. At the center of the 4-storey hotel area is a swimming pool with tables around for drinks and casual dining. On top of the     fourth-level , accessed via a scenic elevator, is the Azotea, the rooftop deck where my friends and I had drinks and bar chow.

The scenic elevator that leads to the AZOTEA

The scenic elevator that leads to the AZOTEA

Truly, Vigan has turned world-class with Hotel Luna.

portion of the ground floor lobby

portion of the ground floor lobby



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 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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


Pebbles on the unpaved ground floor



Sturdy materials for the stairs



Images of saints 




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 on extreme left



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. 




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






an eye-catching wooden baby crib




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.





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.



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.



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

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:

Beautiful Masbate. Beautiful Masbateñas


The long Metro Manila holiday due to the APEC Summit found me, once again, in beautiful Masbate.

the second Masbate signature (the big one is at the Capitol Building). This one is at the Safe House at Himomoro Boulevard, Masbate City. Interestingly, the famous Buntod Reef is the backdrop of this I Love Masbate signage.

the second Masbate signature (the big one is at the Capitol Building). This one is at the Safe House at Himomoro Boulevard, Masbate City. Interestingly, the famous Buntod Reef (towards the left) is the backdrop of this I Love Masbate signage.

Seven (7) photographer-friends from FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group joined me on a roadtrip starting from Manila at 4am. Estimated departure of the roll-on-roll-off (roro) boat from the pio Duran port in Ligao, Albay was 1 am the next day.

We settled at the hilltop campsite of the cattle ranch of a friend, the president of Rodeo Masbateño, Inc. After pitching our tents, two beautiful Masbateñas arrived for our scheduled photo-shoot at the Sese Brahmans Ranch in Mandaon.

A cowgirl-model on horseback near one of the tents in our camp

A cowgirl-model on horseback beside one of the tents in our camp













Our friends gamely posed as extras for our model whom we shot atop the wagon attached to the tractor used in the ranch

The next day, we drove up  Mayong Payong, a scenic mountaintop in the town of Mobo, in time for the sunrise. The scenery reminds one of Tagaytay. Another beautiful Masbateña was there, prearranged by a friend, for a photoshoot of this mountain park.

Mayong Payong has native huts that rent out for P200 per night.

Mayong Payong has native huts that rent out for P200 per night.


We got there to catch the sunrise. All we got was  a few seconds and fog enveloped the mountaintop,

We got there to catch the sunrise. All we got was a few seconds and fog enveloped the mountaintop,




At Mayong Payong, one can see the view of the city center, the distant Mayon Volcano, and the famous Buntod Reef which looks like a really tiny speck of sand when viewed from Mayong Payong

From Mayong Payong, Buntod Reef looks like only 3 people can stand on the tiny island

From Mayong Payong, Buntod Reef looks like only 3 people can stand on the tiny island

From Mayong Payong, we rode a boat at a wharf at Rendezvous Hotel for Buntod Reef and Marine Sanctuary, probably the most beautiful and the most photographed spot in Masbate, Our featured model was Masbate’s Miss Tourism.





On our third and last day shooting Masbate, we went to the Provincial Capitol Building as our location, On its grounds we also shot with the now-famous huge “Province of Masbate” sign.

Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines

Masbate is the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines


Location: the stairs at the Capitol Building

Location: the stairs at the Capitol Building



Cowboys and the cowgirl 



After lunch, we trooped to Villa Bayot, the oldest, well-preserved mansion in Masbate City. For this location, our models wore period Filipiniana.





I have been to Masbate many times and have featured other significant tourist spots: the beaches at Palani, the Bugui Point Lighthouse in Aroroy, the old lighthouse in the island of Jintotolo, the towns and churches in the second largest Masbate island of Ticao, and the games at the Masbate Rodeo – – – for the past 3 years.  But never have I thought of juxtaposing the beauty of Masbate Province with the beauty of the Masbate ladies.

Masbate is beautiful. And so are the Masbateñas. And, in fact, my friends and I are one in saying that we return to Masbate because of its wonderful people.