Monday, August 15, 2016


Unless you're into old houses and churches, the main thing about Iloilo is the food.

That is as far as I am concerned and what I told Shelley and Airah as we cross the bumpy Visayan Sea to somewhat assuage the disappointment of coming to Bacolod's Calea too early.

But then in Iloilo, I thought that I had too many of those chicken inasals and batchoy so I went Korean at Arirang for a change, not bad, but not that good either.

In fact, the camote and banana cue plus the good conversation during our meeting with Ilonggo anti-coal activists is way above the aftertaste of Korean instant noodles that I thought its was.

But there was the saving grace of Tatoy's --- grilled fish and chicken, lato salad, steamed oysters, kinilaw --- although it will be a far second if compared to an earlier culinary experience at Diotay's Eatery in Bacolod.

There was of course that full course dinner in Miag-ao with Bulan --- lousy calamares and sisig at Balndina Sunrise, tasteless fried chicken at the Vineyard, a passable sushi at Sulu Japanese Restaurant, and more than good but not quite great local ice cream at Bambuko.

Breakfast was a bigger letdown the next day but then, food in a small university town is expected to be great in price but passable in taste.

Somewhat similar to the fare served at the Nueva Ecija Bowling Games: it's either flat or fair but designed to go well with cold beer just the same.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


dinilig ng hamog na sumingaw mula sa bunganga ng buwaya 
laway ng katuwang sana na hindi naman pala
bala o pera?

ang batas mula sa dagta ng mga inialay sa tulay ng Mendiola
ipinatuka sa manok na iginayak para sa mga propeta
inasal o tola?

sa Marihatag ibinurol ang pangakong isang ektarya 
batas na binihisan ng ternong butas-butas
basahan nga lang ba?

sa Valladolid ililibing ang maasim na binurong katas 
mapaklang katulad ng hangin sa hacienda
sementeryong isang ektarya?

pero ang tubo sa Cadiz na itinanim sa basag na semento
namulaklak ng rosas at namunga ng monggo
matamis ang tunay na lasa ng tubo? 

ang mapaklang katas ng tubo sa Kabankalan
ang tamis ng inaning tubo sa Cadiz
ang siyang lasa ng pala-pala sa Bacolod...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


I came, I saw, I fell in love.

It must be the university town feel that reminded me of Hogwarts, Baguio City, Bulan's Miag-ao, or the UP part of Diliman and Los Banos.

It can be the food and the genteelness of Siliman University.

And yes, the colonial churches of Negros Oriental that I'm going to encounter for the first time, starting with Dumaguete's Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria that I realized is more postcard-genic than actual, the bell tower eclipsing the church in terms of fame, with constant traffic and electric wires obstructing any possible line of photography.

From there, I negotiated a P400 rent with a tricycle driver to take me to Dauin and then to the National Heritage Site-listed church of Bacong, one of the 26 Philippine colonial churches I imposed upon myself to visit before I die, the trike driver curious why I want to see those churches until our conversation segued on how many drug pushers have been killed so far in Dumaguete and in Nueva Ecija, until finally Dauin's Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine, the oldest extant colonial church in Negros Oriental, exposed large river stones from its massive walls confirming that it is indeed, and I struggling to shoot through trees that crowd the churchyard and the locked steel church door, and against the light.

Dauin though is just the appetizer with Bacong as the main dish and I was bursting with expectation until I finally came face to face with the Church of St. Augustine of Hippo, wondering why the bell tower looked newly plastered and the church facade covered with what seemed as recent brick work, the magic of previous churches like Tayabas and Jasaan an empty dud, or it's just the gray late afternoon sky?

But still, Bacong is listed as a national heritage site so there must be a reason for that and that's it, my 21st of the target 26 thus leaving just five more [Jimenez, Lazi, Mahatao, Pan-ay, Romblon] so I went back to Dumaguete where the friendly trike driver dropped me along Rizal Boulevard, right in front of Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries where I finally decided to take lunch at 4 pm, and pretended to be a food critic.

The sans rival is okey although the taste of margarine is overwhelming [butter should have been a better alternative), the silvanas no match to that of Eriel's version, and the recommended salted caramel cheesecake a big letdown [eating the crumb is like munching on clay, the caramel and salt miles apart instead of complimenting each other].

I went to work the next day where the disappointment in Bacong was somewhat allayed by an early morning viewing of the Silliman University Church and an SRO crowd for the State of Nature Assessment where I sneaked out in between presentations to shoot the Silliman Hall which is the oldest extant American-era structure in the Philippines.

And yes, I had noodles, spanish sardines on pasta at Bo's Coffee, which is not bad.

I love Dumaguete!