Sanib Pwersa @ SM North EDSA March 22-25, 2019

A first-ever show featuring three Japanese art forms will open on March 22, 2019 and will run up to March 25. Dubbed as Sanib Pwersa, the exhibit will feature around 200 bonsai trees from the members of the Philippine Bonsai Society, the country’s premiere and most prestigious bonsai club. PBSI is the lead organization, having mounted huge bonsai and suiseki (viewing stones) exhibitions and conventions annually, including exhibits hosted for the international organization called Bonsai Clubs International (BCI), regional conventions for ASPAC and for ABFF, plus national shows every year.

The 2019 exhibit is joined by partner clubs Natural Stones Society of the Philippines (NSSP) which will showcase suiseki, or landscape and figure stones collected from all over the Philippines and in other parts of the world, and the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Manila which will display some ikebana arrangements.

I am showing some of my viewing stones collections to give readers an idea of what suisekis are. The exhibit and competition will be judged by an international panel of masters and experts from Taiwan, Japan and the USA. Bonsai Master Yen, from Taiwan is one of the judges, alongside another Taiwan master and another master from Japan, Kunio Kobayashi.

On the afternoon of the March 22 opening day, Master Kobayashi will do a live demo on how to create magnificent bonsais from raw trees. He will have Prof Amy Liang, another master from the National Bonsai Assn of Taiwan as partner in the demo. Here is how Master Kobayashi did his demo in the last national convention in Taiwan.

There are lectures and demos from March 22 to 24. Learn from the masters. This is a very rare opportunity.

The exhibit is open to the public, in partnership with SM Supermalls. Catch it at The Block Atrium, SM City North EDSA.

Ilocos Sur Rodeo at Kannawidan Festival

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The rodeo in Vigan, actually the 6th invitational amateur rodeo tournament, has just been concluded. This event has become the highlight of a month-long Kannawidan Festival.

This year, moe new teams participated, including teams from Visayas and Mindanao.

The VROoM (Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate) officiated the games, ran the stockyard, briefed the players, brought in its barker, and had Ilocos Sur use their bull riding gear for free.

Three events were held for the first time in Ilocos Sur: bullriding, wrestling from horse back, and lassoing from horseback.

Indeed the rodeo in Vigan has come a long way. And plans are afoot to invite rodeo teams from ASEAN schools in 2020.

Ilocos Sur has, de facto, become the Amateur Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.

Edible Garden in Mobo

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When my friend Mark and his girlfriend invited me for dinner while I was in Masbate for the rodeo, they said we were going to a restaurant outside of the city proper. Is this like Sonya’s Garden serving salads? Could it be they serve mostly veges grown from their garden restaurant?

We arrived at Edible Garden about 25 minutes from my hotel. The place looks very very simple, no frills. If at all, the decor is shabby chic, more the former than the latter. Appropriately shabby.

We took the long dining table with 2 wooden benches. On another table for four sat a group that obviously enjoyed their banter over dinner. Looks like the place is a magnet for friends planning lunch or dinner. My hosts also had close friends joining us. Shey cleaning up a table for us

We had so much food. Barbecue was apparently a house specialty that there wasn’t enough for each one of us. We also had bulalo and kare kare, among the many dishes ordered by Mark and Janine.

Can’t tell you how much the bill was. I can only surmise that the prices of the food items here are diner-friendly. It is not fine dining. It is away from the city. Ergo pricing must be really affordable. I must say everything tasted well. Such that I immediately recommended it to friends. Bico, fresh from a Hongkong trip, according to her diner-friends

The appeal is enhanced by the personal attention from sisters Bico and Shey and their mom. They cook, serve the food, and clean up. In between conversations about their pet doggies with diner-friends who seem to go just to be with the sisters, and have good inexpensive dinner at the same time.

Kannawidan 2018, Vigan

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Kannawidan is the biggest event in Ilocos Sur, and Vigan starts the festivities as early as January 28.

The highlight every year is the rodeo where teams from Luzon and, this year, a team or two from the Visayas compete for honor and cash prizes.

Plan your trip and book accommodations now!

Lussok Cave and Underground River, Luna Apayao

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Prior to traveling to Apayao, I researched on “must see” places and Lussok is one of the Top 3. Thus, I made sure this was going to be part of my itinerary.

LUNA, APAYAO
This cave and underground river system is in the town of Luna, the first town one will hit when traveling to Apayao from Cagayan Valley, the easiest access to this province. Thus, Luna town has become the de facto provincial capital. In fact, the government center has moved from the official capital town of Kabugao to Luna.

On the rocky slope of Barangay Dagupan one will find this  this multi-chamber cave  with beautiful centuries-old stalactites and stalagmites, with crystals embedded. Thus Lussok is also called Lussok Crystal Caves.  The visit is via a boat without outriggers, on calm and placid waters from the opening of the river unto the end.

 

Our boat had a boatman and a guide who brought in a flashlight, admittedly rather weak, but enough to show us the images created by the rock formations – the Blessed Virgin Mary, fruits and veges, animals, and faces . The water was so still our guide was standing on the front end of the boat.

 

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SPELUNKING

The Lussok caving adventure has three options for spelunking, with easy, moderate and hard routes.  The trail eventually leads to a bridge  above the entrance to the caves, visible to everyone going into the cave by boat.

Start point for spelunking

ACCESS TO LUSSOK

I understand from previous stories that Lussok was difficult to access. But with roads done, this cave system will soon be more accessible. On my visit, we drove our 4X4 all the way to the compound where they accept visitors to the cave. But that was after traversing a shallow river and muddy roads because the road has not been completed. I assume that in the next many months, Lussok will be most accessible.

 

The Visitor Center

 

literally: Apayao, Be Proud of It (Apayao: Ipagmalaki)

 

Our Lady of Atocha in Alicia, Isabela

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“Atocha is Madrid’s royal shrine: there is not a Spaniard of public importance for a thousand years who would not kneel to ask her help. Her gowns are made from the bridal gowns of queens; yet no shrine better demonstrates how little it matters where we rank in the world or what we do for a living. One of her supplicants asks her for victory for his armies, one for rain for his thirsty fields; Our Lady of Atocha answers all, impartially and lovingly. “( lifted from http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/our-lady-of-atocha.html)

The Our Lady of Atocha Church sits in the town of Alicia known for its Pagay festival, a first class municipality in the province of Isabela. It was completed in 1849 and has been declared by the Department of Tourism as one of the country’s religious tourist destinations.

As Atocha is Madrid’s royal shrine, Our Lady of Atocha in Isabela looks every inch a Spanish church.