Church of San Matias – – Tumauini, Isabela

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Tumauini is a first class town located at the northern portion of the province of Isabela, 68 kilometers from Tuguegarao, past the town of Cabagan.

The Tumauini Church  was built in the 1780s by the Dominicans, in the Baroque style, and is considered to be the best preserved church in the province. Made entirely of red  bricks, the  4-storey bell tower which was subsequently added was also done in bricks that some have described to look like a wedding cake.

 

The Church of Tumauini was declared a National Historical Landmark on February 24, 1989, and is on the Tentative List of Unesco World Heritage.

 

 

San Pablo Church – the most beautiful in Isabela

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nothing but a facade

 

Went to all churches in Isabela on a recent tour. I could say all of the churches were interesting. But one stood out.

 

San Pablo is a second class municipality 21 kilometers south of Tuguegarao via the Maharlika Highway. Travel time is 26 minutes.

This church is the oldest in Isabela and stands out because the whole facade and the belltower, the tallest in the whole Cgayan Valley, are what really remain of what was probably one of the biggest churches in the region. Behind the facade, and actually way behind is a re-built church that still uses the walls of the old church. To think that between the old facade and the new church is a wide area that looks like a patio. Then one would know that the whole church then included the re-built church and this wide front space !

the rebuilt church behind the facade. Note the huge front yard, part of the original church

 

inside the rebuilt church. Note that walls are those of the original structure, and these walls flow into the empty space in front

 

the walls from inside the rebuilt church continue into this, now the facade of the smaller rebuilt church. One concludes this space was part of the original structure

 

the stairway to the bell tower

 

HOW MUST IT HAVE LOOKED THEN?
In front of the facade is what one will conclude to be the original church frontyard. It is marvelous and eerie at the same time.

When other photographers finally find this church, they will agree – – it is the most photographable church in Isabela.

the oldest, and most photographable

 

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The Tuguegarao Cathedral

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The Tuguegarao Cathedral is officially known as  the  Saint Peter Metropolitan Cathedral. The historical marker tells the full story, more than I can ever attempt to do.

 

Architecture is baroque, typical of churches built in the 18th century. The details on the main door are impressive that one can not resist taking photos.

 

 

 

It is one of the largest churches in Cagayan Valley and, Tuguegarao being the nerve center of the province, the cathedral is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tuguegarao.

Waze brought me from Piat 42 kilometers away to Tuguegaro Cathedral in 30 minutes.

Our Lady of Piat, Cagayan Valley

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At first I thought this beautiful church was in Tuguegarao. Then Waze directed me to the town of Piat,  42  kilometers  from Tuguegarao City.

It felt like Manaoag with the hundreds of devotees. I thought this was going to be some sleepy town with a beautiful church.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Piat  is one of the twelve minor basilicas in the country, and is home to the 400+ year old Black Virgin Mary.

I went to several churches in the region and noticed that most of them, like the Basilica of Our Lady of Piat, are made of red bricks, unlike the churches in the Visayas made mostly of coral rocks and stones.

The altar looks like the one in Manaoag, with the image of Our Lady of Piat enclosed in a glass case. Access is at the rear of the church where pilgrims queue towards a staircase leading to the glass-enclosed image – – where they can touch the dress of Our Lady.

Notice the man inside the glass case on the altar – – he is one of the hundreds who queued at the rear of the church for access to touch Our Lady’s dress

 

Dimasalang Masbate

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Dimasalang is a 3rd class municipality on the southern parts of the island province of Masbate. Visitors to Masbate inevitably stay within the city limits or visit the nearby Ticao Island. But out-of-city travel normally comes after visiting the famous sights in Masbate City and its surrounding municipalities.

I first went to Dimasalang last year and did not have enough material to write about the place. Last week, my friends from the group of travel-photography facebook group called FUNtastic Philippines set out for island hopping, after attending the Masbate Rodeo the day before.

We left Masbate before breakfast and were in Dimasalang in less than 2 hours, 67 kilometers away.

First stop was Patio Milagros, a resort hotel that is also the default party and function venue in Dimasalang. We went straight to a picnic hut on the garden overlooking a group of islands we were going to visit. After coffee and native pastries offered by our hosts, we were briefed on our itinerary by the Tourism Officer, Virgilio Natural, known to everyone as simply Ilyo.

PATIO MILAGROS

ISLAND HOPPING AND PORTAVEGA


We boarded a fishing boat at the town’s pier and went straight to the islands, mostly uninhabited. Such beauty. After about 30 minutes of oooohs and ahhhhs, we were brought to Portavega, a very relaxing resort on a cove.

Within Portavega is a very unique, dome-shaped church with Latin words around the dome. Because of its shape, no microphones are necessary during mass. And the religious should not even talk to each other in whispers. the whole congregation will hear what you are talking about.

Lunch was boodle fight consisting of pork dishes, sea food including sea urchins. Drinks were fresh coconut juice. We had for dessert some more native delicacies that looked like camote or balinghoy. I can’t recall exactly how the locals called it.

 

From PortaVega it was a short boat ride back to the pier, less than 15 minutes.

A sidelight was a visit to the statue of our National Hero Jose Rizal, the only known statue of this here where he is sitting down. Jose Rizal, for those who don’t recall lessons from grade school, used “Dimasalang” as his pseudonym when he wrote.

We were briefed on the development plans for the islands. Deep inside, I was hoping that the development will be controlled, and only to add some amenities that will make visitors more comfortable.

As for me, I will be happy pitching a tent at Porta Vega. There is a small store there that sells very basic provisions. And there are toilet facilities, too.

 

HOW TO BOOK AT PATIO MILAGROS:

Masbate: Big City

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I have always been wondering how others who have not been to Masbate think of this place. To confess, I also had images of my 1978 visit ( small, backward, very very provincial)  when I returned in 2013. Back in 1978 there was only one hotel, located near the pier, where hotel staff delivered to my room a pail of water when I took a bath.

MASBATE PROVINCE

Masbate Province has a booming population estimated at 950,000 in 2016. Made up of 20 municipalities and 1 city. Two big islands, Ticao and Burias form the province’s First District. Masbate City and the towns around it, including the province’s biggest town of Aroroy form District 2. The Third district includes the big towns of Placer and Cawayan, the two most populated towns after Masbate City, and Cataingan, the farthest town that is close enough to Iloilo.

Ticao Island Resort is within the First District

Ticao Island  is within the First District

 

Most of the hotels, B&Bs and resorts are in the Second District

Most of the hotels, B&Bs and resorts are in the Second District

 

the Third District hosts more beaches and island resorts

the Third District hosts more beaches and island resorts

Around 80% of land in the province is used for farms and ranches, making Masbate a cowboy country, and officially the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.

Get to visit a farm and watch how cattle is herded

Get to visit a farm and watch how cattle is herded

 

THE CITY OF MASBATE

Masbate today looks like any provincial city. No, not like the premier cities of Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo and Davao. It is the capital city of the province of Masbate, and the center of commerce. It is big and at the same time small. No traffic typical of the big cities. But has all the comforts – – it has malls and department stores, as well as the fast food joints that “define” how cities and towns have progressed. There are banks and other financial institutions that visitors will need to withdraw cash from ATM, or transfer/receive funds thru any of the “pera padala” centers.

Gaisano Mall

Gaisano Mall

Buy things for your gadgets in case you left them at home

Buy things for your gadgets in case you left them at home

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LCC, the largets chain of malls, supermarkets and express stores in the Bicol region is present in Masbate

LCC, the largets chain of malls, supermarkets and express stores in the Bicol region is present in Masbate

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as the provincial capital, Masbate City is where the universities and colleges in Masbate are found

as the provincial capital, Masbate City is where the universities and colleges in Masbate are found

The Grand Rodeo Arena is within the city

The Grand Rodeo Arena is within the city

 

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

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FASTFOODS AND LOCAL RESTOS

Sutukil is the best local restaurant, good food, very low prices

Sutukil is the best local restaurant, good food, very low prices

 

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WHAT TO VISIT WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS

Masbate is not just the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines. Within the city are tourist attractions, resorts, and resort hotels. Transport within the city is via tricycles and fare is only P8 per person.

Buntod Reef is a few minutes boat ride. White sands.

Buntod Reef is a few minutes boat ride. White sands.

 

Visit the Santo Entierro at the heritage house called Villa Bayot

Visit the Santo Entierro at the heritage house called Villa Bayot

 

a mangrove park at the Boulevard, near the hotels

a mangrove park at the Boulevard, near the hotels

 

the famous cowboy monument - - - this is rodeo country

the famous cowboy monument – – – this is rodeo country

 

the cathedral, at the city center

the cathedral, at the city center

 

Tricyles are easy to find, or are on queue in malls, fastfoods, and in many parts of the main street

Tricyles are easy to find, or are on queue in malls, fastfoods, and in many parts of the main street

 

The people are nice, and I have returned many times because of the many friends I have made. They have accompanied me to the different spots around Masbate and have had drinks with them in bars or in a “tambayan” at a friend’s carport.

One of the many bars and restaurants dotting the BOULEVARD area. This one is called "Kuya Nathan".

One of the many bars and restaurants dotting the BOULEVARD area. This one is called “Kuya Nathan”.

Another friend says he returns to Masbate every year not just for the rodeo, but to be with friends we have made. I personally truly believe that visitors go to a place to see interesting sights for the first time, and return to be with friends they made. Masbatenos are truly a wonderful breed of people, contrary to the image created in people’s minds resulting from the past. This is a New Masbate. Come visit.

Buy interesting pasalubong at Fazenda, found on the cathedral grounds

Buy interesting pasalubong at Fazenda, found on the cathedral grounds

 

WHERE CAN I STAY?

I recently wrote about accommodations options, to guide anyone wishing to see this beautiful island province.

https://boyplakwatsa.com/2016/03/09/20-masbate-hotels-and-other-accommodations-options/

 

HOW TO GET TO MASBATE

Philippine Airlines flies daily to Masbate, leaving Terminal 3 at 5:05 am. Visitors will have one full day when they get to the city.

You can also travel by land. Buses leave Cubao and are loaded onto roll-on-roll-off boats between Pilar in Sorsogon and Masbate City such that visitors can travel direct from Quezon City to Masbate City. Travel time is from 16 to 18 hours. Visitors can also bring their cars and take the roro so they can travel around Masbate in their own cars.

Masbate is interesting year round. A bonus when you visit mid April is the Rodeo National Finals

Masbate is interesting year round. A bonus when you visit mid April is the Rodeo National Finals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilocos Tour : Vigan and Sta Maria

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I have done the Ilocos region countless times. And this northern tour remains on my Top 5 list of Philippine destinations.

Will share the beautiful Ilocos via photos, and you pick the destinations you want to focus on. Otherwise, prepare to spend 2 weeks moving from town to town.

VIGAN

Vigan is, to some, the essence of Ilocandia.

Vigan is, to some, the essence of Ilocandia.

The moon was full on the night of my last visit

The moon was full on the night of my last visit

Vigan Day 2 + Laoag Day 1 027

Visit a BURNAYAN and be amazed at the potter's skills. And buy a jar or two

Visit a BURNAYAN and be amazed at the potter’s skills. And buy a jar or two

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a calesa ride completes a Vigan visit

the lobby of my favorite hotel. Cordillera Inn

the lobby of my favorite hotel. Cordillera Inn

the coffee shop at the nearby Gordion Mansion

the coffee shop at the nearby Gordion Mansion

Hidden Garden is more of a restaurant than a garden destination.

Hidden Garden is more of a restaurant than a garden destination.

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Bantay belltower, outside of Vigan

Bantay belltower, outside of Vigan

at the Baluarte, the home of Governor Chavit Singson, the grounds are open to the public.

at the Baluarte, the home of Governor Chavit Singson, the grounds are open to the public.

STA MARIA

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