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...

Thursday, May 13, 2010


It was my first ever trip out of the country.

I can't wait to be in a real desert, with endless sand and unexplainable heat...

I can't wait to see the only 7-star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab...

I can't wait to gaze at those good-looking Arabs...

I can't wait to get lost in a foreign land...

Oh, Dubai... like a beguiling lullaby humming in my mind...

.... still inviting, still mesmerizing.

The King of Dubai loves horses! It is said that his horses are treated like royalties as well. Annually, there's an equestrian competition held here, with millions of dollars at stake for the winners.

Before the Burj Khalifa / Burj Dubai was erected (it was still being built by the time we went there), the Burj Al Arab was the structure that represented Dubai. Upon seeing this for the first time, I was really mesmerized with its beauty! In fact, I shed a tear!