Bonsai Paradiso

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On land that used to be planted with pineapples, Bonsai Paradiso is not very easy to find. One can get there only with detailed directions provided by the owner, based in Tagaytay City.

The owner started collecting bonsai 15 years ago, starting with balete, Tagaytay cherry, and other species that were then generally available on the Tagaytay roadside stalls selling bonsai. Upon his retirement 3 years ago, bonsai has become his primary occupation

Paradiso is the name he gave to his retirement home. Originally, the landscaping consisted of mature earth-balled trees. Narra, mahogany, agoho, Benguet pine, arocaria, African tulips, and a few fruit bearing trees were planted all over the property, surrounding the house. Shrubs and flowering ornamentals completed the landscape, with carabao grass as ground cover.

But bonsai has taken over. Most of the tall trees were pruned since bonsai trees need full sun.

The collection includes many local species, from deciduous trees to fruiting and flowering ones. To those who are not into bonsai, tree species like bluebell, tugas, kambilog ( kamuning bilog), kamtulis ( kamuning tulis), suimei, yangya, Argao, mulawin, lemonsito, ficus and some more may sound strange. Then there are also bonsais that most people will be familiar with, like santan, bayabas, balimbing, and bougainvilla.

Kambilog
A best-in-show Mulawin Surot
An award-winning Bluebell
Sampalok
Argao Taiwan created as a forest
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Santan
A Best-in-Show, Ficus and Pepper tree in a 2-point set-up
Bonsais all the way to the roofdeck

There are also trees originated from Taiwan and Vietnam.

The owner takes one on a tour, too, of the materials that start with cuttings as he promotes sustainable bonsai.

Cuttings for sustainable bonsai
Cuttings fir sustainable bonsai are all around the area where this authentic Ifugao native house stands

Workshops are conducted frequently among members of the Cavite Bonsai Club, where newbies are always welcome. Bonsai Basics are discussed, and newbies get a chance to witness and do hands-on participation on many phases of bonsai creation and maintenance. There are no entrance fees charged. And most visitors even get free coffee.

Bonsai Paradiso is located in Tolentino East, Tagaytay City.

GLAMPING, anyone?

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Glamping as defined in Oxford Dictionaries:

NOUN

[MASS NOUN] British informal

A form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping:glamping is likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature—without foregoing any of life’s luxuries
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My friends and I who regularly go camping, pitching tents near the beach or in mountains and riversides decided to glamp, for a change. All photos appearing on this glamping posts were taken by friends from #FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group, my fellow glampers: Papa Jet, Mai Sotto, Jun Bucao, Bob Gan Ferrer, Jon Michael, Nikki Lim, Connie Talactac, Annette Tamayo, Mommy B, Cherry Rose Dematera, Senyorita Lakwatsera, Rhyan Manago, and Gerry de Leon, Bobby and Amy Taron, Henry Completo, and Monina Cabanada.
Venue was a private vacation place in Tagaytay. Early Saturday morning, glampers started to pitch tents and, unlike in previous camping experiences where earth pads were rolled, each tent had proper mattresses and beddings and pillows with crisp, white, starched pillowcases.

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pitching tents

pitching tents, setting up mattresses and white linen beddings

pitching tents, setting up mattresses and white linen beddings

if there are model homes, we played with this tent as our "model tent"

if there are model homes, we played with this tent as our “model tent”

all tents set up

all tents set up

Amenities included a swimming pool with waterfalls, a restful veranda with huge couches, a billiard table, darts, toilets with hot & cold showers, an outdoor kitchen with complete cooking facilities, and a bar with tables and chairs used as our dining area and videoke hall. There was also a huge “kawa” hot bath, and an authentic Ifugao native house as points of interest for the glampers.
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A group of 4 went to the nearby Tagaytay City Public Market and later on prepared a boodle fight lunch. Never imagined camping to have as much food on the table, including shrimps and crabs, fruits and wine, and many other dishes.
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Dinner was by candlelight. For photography we turned some ceiling lights on. After dinner drinks consisted of flowing brewed coffee, beer, Johnny Walker Double Black, and a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label. Oh yes, we also had Absolut Vodka with Sprite, lemon and cherries.

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There was singing til the early hours of the morning, with some glampers taking a dip in the pool even at 4am.

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We broke camp the next day. After breakfast, and while preparing to leave for home, the group decided to go on an unplanned lunch to a restaurant in Calauan, Laguna. And to shoot some old homes and the old church in nearby Pila. But that is another story.

We will most likely do a second glamping experience – – more to accommodate friends who weren’t able to join us the first time.
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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.

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