Friday, November 12, 2010

THE RUINS : A Hidden Old-World Treasure

Hidden behind the vast sugarcane plantation and rows of middle-class homes is Talisay City's toast to history and wealth of Negros (Occidental) during the golden years of sugar production. The Ruins is an old mansion owned by the powerful and wealthy Ledesma-Lacson clan turned into a tourist destination / restaurant / cafe in the outskirts of Talisay City - just 10 minutes away from Bacolod.

To learn more about this must-see destination (history and getting-there), visit this site:

Here are the pictures I took during my visit there....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SAN VICENTE, PALAWAN: The Next Tourism Hotspot

The island province of Palawan never runs out of destinations blessed with unmatched and pristine beauty. Just 5 to 6 hours drive from the capital city, Puerto Princesa, another paradise awaits intrepid and curious traveler who is always in search of that unspoilt paradise...

San Vicente is a quiet municipality in Northwestern, Palawan boasting of equally captivating islands and beaches. It is currently undergoing a series a development as the town is envisioned to be the next tourism hotspot in the country. Our local guide tells us that a number of hotel chains and prominent individuals have already bought properties in the area. In a few years' time, resorts and hotels will be built to accommodate the expected influx of local and foreign tourists.

I guess I'm fortunate to see and experience the place while it's still unspoilt. The sheer beauty of the islands, sans the manicured, man-made landscape, is beyond words. If you don't call this Paradise, there must be something wrong with you!

A vacation house in front of the Long Beach. The design/architecture
of the house blends well with the environment.

The view from the house. The beach is just a few meters away.

A walk down the beach revealed this massive jellyfish, gone ashore.
Seeing this made me think twice to swim at the beach.

The Long Beach. The photo was taken around 6am, when the sun
has not shone on its shores yet. At midday, the beach becomes
blindingly white,just like Boracay. The sand's texture is fine.
The beach is actually 14 kms.long that's why it's been dubbed as
the Longest White Beach in the country.

(Below) The Daplac Cove, Boayan Island. Another paradise
that is a subject of so much controversy. For more info about
the Island and learn what you can do, please visit

As for me, I believe the island should be protected
from big hotel companies who will only disrupt the island's
ecosystem. Let it remain as it is... and let people go here
as they please, without paying too much fees.

Well, the island is about an hour's boat ride from the main
town of San Vicente. The seas can be rough during noon to
mid-afternoon, so expect a very bumpy ride. As soon as you
reach the Cove, the waters are already calm and the
view is just magnificent!

(Below) Some of the islands found in San Vicente.

(Below) The new International Airport. As part of the
Arroyo government's plan to boost the town's tourism potential,
a new international airport is being built right in San Vicente.
The airport, according to our guide, will have direct flights
from Thailand, Japan, Bali, etc.

And to experience San Vicente's Long Beach, one no longer
needs cross the seas, as the airport is conveniently
located near the coast.

San Vicente is also just 3 hours away from El Nido.
Once the airport becomes operational, it can cut the travel
time from Puerto Princesa to El Nido significantly.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I may have been born in Manila, but I consider La Carlota City as my hometown -- the land of my maternal ancestors.

La Carlota City is approximately 2 hours drive from the capital city of Negros Occidental, Bacolod in the island of Negros (one-hour plane ride). It is a city dotted with endless fields of sugarcane plantations and home to the oldest sugar mills in the province, not to mention some ancestral houses that are still inhabited up to this day.

Typically, your address here simply states which hacienda you are located -- very reminiscent of the feudal set-up which I still think exists today.

There are a number of spots here frequented by tourists, like the mysterious Guintubdan where a majestic falls await visitors. One can also explore the towns by bike and get lost in the sweet and charming characters of genuine Negrenses. And for the adventurous ones, climb the imposing Mt. Kanlaon (an active volcano).  La Carlota is a quiet town populated by hard-working people who made a living out of sugar production.

Hacienda Salamanca is owned by the Ledesma clan. Almost 80% of my
immediate relatives live here.

The Balay Dako, where the Ledesmas lived while they were
manning the hacienda. My mom told me that during strong typhoons,
this is where they all stayed for shelter.

The floor tiles at the Balay Dako are still preserved (and kept shiny).  

Detail of a very old tree that stood witness to the
hacienda's glorious past.

An ancient church at the town plaza. My mother's high school is just
beside the church, and this is where they held their daily prayers
and rosaries. Not much has changed, according to my mom...

One thing I noticed when I first entered the church is the state of its walls.
There were green moss on some parts, and the windows were filled
with bird dung, producing a pungent smell of antiquity and nostalgia.

the Town Plaza at night, during Christmas Season.  

The elders practicing their Christmas carol

A typical past time of my relatives - mahjong! Oh well, this is part
of Negrense culture. Remember the film, Oro Plata Mata? Whatever
happens, as long as the mahjong set and table is intact, everything
will be alright... I used to play mahjong, but now,I rarely do due to 
lack of friends here in Manila whomI can play with. 
 Besides, Manila is soooo addicted to Poker and Casinos!

Washing the coffee beans... I never realized they could be this colorful!

Of course, the endless rows of sugarcane plantations!

Care for some sweets?  

                   The mountain at the background is actually a volcano - Mt. Kanlaon!

The workers, after a back-breaking day in the fields... 

Ancient trees. According to my mom, these trees have been
there even when she was still young. That means, these sturdy
witnesses to history could be more than 50 years old...

Carabaos (water buffalos) - mestiza and negra 

Pili fruits/nuts. Not really a major industry in La Carlota but their
trees abound amongst the sugarcane fields. It's leafy and long
branches provide a cool shade from the enervating sun...