May 2012
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"I hope that our long struggle against corruption won't be as long as San Juanico Bridge."

There is a chain of islands, and you don't need to hop from one island to another using ferry or boats because an epic structure has been constructed to make island hopping possible by land travel. Yes, you can using the the longest bridge in the Philippines which is the San Juanico Bridge connecting two major islands -- Leyte and Samar. 

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Location Highlighted in Red
From above there are beautiful mountain ranges, deep-blue lagoon, lush islands and charming coves that exist at the San Juanico Strait, a narrow body of water that separates the islands of Samar and Leyte.

At the middle of that body of water is a narrow strip of silver-colored structure. It looks short from up above but hey! This is the Philippines' longest bridge when you are down! I had this feeling in me that the Philippines was rich before (?) because we were able to create a big structure like this that those times, South Korea,  Malaysia, Thailand or Indonesia can hardly make! It is just so disgusting today that as this long bridge signaled a powerful economy during the time of Marcos, it now serves as a reminder of our loooong struggle against corruption. 

San Juanico Bridge
I will not say that during Marcos' time, there was no corruption but at least, the Philippines was able enough to build a long bridge that used to be "rare" in Asia during those decades.

Now, I was just seeing a concrete testament of a once-vibrant-economy -- San Juanico Bridge, a very historical landmark. It was an economic milestone but today, just serve as a lasting memory of what was "good" and "wealthy" from the past.

I hope that our long struggle against corruption won't be as long as San Juanico Bridge. We need immediate changes because today, this bridge is just considered to be a short bridge in Asia because our neighbors have built bridges twice and thrice as long as our so called "longest bridge" which remind us that our neighbors have gone too far!
NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"I thought I will never eat squid again but my travel infection is manifesting that conquering your fear and eating the food you never attempted to taste (or eat again) is part of the symptoms."

I remember, I was 10 years old when I last ate squid (that's 13 years ago). It was not even a real squid because the squid I used to eat when I was a child was the dried one then sweetened. I used to buy it for 1 peso per pack and I was actually after the "sweet" thing and I was not aware at all that the core of that sweetened food was squid. Personally, just smelling the odor of any squid dish disgusts me. I really don't want the odor and I developed that response since childhood.

Bicol Express Squid
Naga City Food Trip: Bicol Express Squid
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Location Highlighted in Red
Until I landed in Naga City in Camarines Sur where eating a food that is not common in our province was the craving of my heart, naks!

Asking the locals where can we have a good eat for lunch, they have pointed the way to SM Naga. The bus (where I just hitched) took us to SM Naga. Without too much adieu, the food court was my target. The people I was with (mostly my first time to meet) shared a table with me. At first I know myself that I am not a squid-eater but I gave it a try since Bicol Express is not common in our province.

SM City Naga
SM Naga, where I ate Squid Bicol Express

Of course at first I thought Bicol express was just limited to vegetables and meat with spices. But I was wrong. Anything could be a Bicol Express meal, just add some gata or siling labuyo and there you have it!

Taking the first spoonful of my meal that day, hesitation seemed to be out of my senses. The tip of my tongue was hurt though -- because it was so spicy!

This time I was actually suffering of Gastrointestinal disturbances that eating spicy food is contraindicated but never mind about it. It may take me a long time to go back to Naga again and eat this.

Naga Garden
Naga Garden was the name of the restaurant, ironically, I never saw any garden, lol!

About the taste, of course it was spicy -- that is given! The spice is very prominent that I can not honestly distinguish the taste with the spice.

Some foods that I also ate are Chop Suey and my favorite Halo-Halo.

Bicol Food Trip

Naga Garden SM Naga
I thought I will never eat squid again but my travel infection is manifesting that conquering your fear and eating the food you never attempted to taste (or eat again) is part of the symptoms.

So this is it, I ate squid after 13 years -- I ate squid without me vomitting!
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NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"Villasis is booming, many industries are flourishing, trade and commerce are doing well, but tupig, one little cheap food remains to soar high with pride from the community."

I would say that the town of Villasis is a booming due to its strategic location. Little players in the market and business sectors tend to vanish being replaced by bigger investments. Like Urdaneta City, Villasis in Pangasinan is a town loved by traders. I checked out the Villasis Public Market and Bagsakan Center and it was a busy place. Sacks of agri-products, mangoes, etc were dropped there. But in spite of big businesses and trades, I noticed a little part of their local economy that has managed to survive - the Tupig vendors and makers!

Tupig Pangasinan
Tupig Vendor for a minute
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Location Highlighted in Red
Coming from Urdaneta City, I told the bus driver to drop me at Villasis, Pangasinan.

As usual, I always end up walking along the streets of new destinations at high noon and it was undeniably hot.

I was dropped at the Bagsakan Center of the town and everyone seemed to be very busy. Since I am rushing to accomplish my 112 on 2012 travel challenge wherein I am set to explore 112 towns and cities this 2012 and create a blog entry about those 112 places, I tried my best to discover what Villasis has to offer.

Tupig Stalls in Villasis Pangasinan
At the side of the market, I noticed an array of stalls usually with yellow color and I approached those. The vendors were waving before me saying, "Dito ka na sir! Bili ka na dito!"

I had no idea what they were offering me. So when I finally decided which stall to see, I did not expect that tupig was the star of the day!

I really never have thought that tupig could be found in Villasis, Pangasinan too and I was just happy to discover it. It was also interesting that this little business continue to survive and compete in the ever diversifying market.

Tupig is made up of glutinous rice and grated coconut wrapped with a banana leaf and then cooked over coal.

I have been eating tupig since I was a kid and it is nice to know that tupig is a thriving local product and delicacy in this part of Pangasinan.

Another photo-op, thanks to manang Lumen for taking this photo :)

So the lesson I learned in Villasis is that never underestimate the little things because the role of the small could be as big as you could imagine.

Yes, Villasis is booming, many industries are flourishing, trade and commerce are doing well, but tupig, one little cheap food remains to soar high with pride from the community.

It was cheap at 5 pesos each but it carries the whole big town of Villasis, so if we say Tupig Pangasinan, people will turn their eyes to Villasis -- that was the rule, small commodity with huge impact. Rock and Roll Tupig! \m/

About the Taste: Tupig is a sweet kakanin,  it tastes like a bibingka with smoother texture and that the coconut-ish taste is prominent. It is common in the Ilocos Region and to Ilocano-speaking provinces like Tarlac and Nueva Vizcaya.
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NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"My sweat started to come out which signals that my metabolism (catabolism to be specific) is activated to a higher degree. It was a good cardiovascular work-out though."

I underestimated the act, I thought it was as easy as A-B-C. I have been wanting to gain lean mass but I usually fail, so retaining some body fats to gain body volume is my task. It was in Bangued, Abra's Victoria Park that made the day so tiring. You gotta ascend to the road going uphill and step your feet forward and upward to the long static but escalating concrete stairs. At first it was easy because it looked to be easy.

Victoria PArk, BAngued, Abra
I noticed this open theater in Victoria Park, Bangued Abra
No one was with me, I was alone so I was talking to myself to make me feel I was with somebody (my conscience, at least) just to make the climb easy. LOL!

I know some tasks and missions become easy when you're with somebody whom you can talk with, or to at least encourage you to go on. It was only my conscience that was encouraging me. I was wearing a tight-fitting jeans, a white shirt and the time was... Viola! It was 1:00 pm and it was just hot.

Poor me, I take advantage when my "connections" go somewhere. I learned from my mom that their women group (Note: aged 45 and above) is going to Abra with hired van. So, it was such a blessing that they allowed me to travel with them considering I am not a part of the group and hitching a ride has always been a reward for me.

Victoria Park, Bangued, Abra
The rays of the sun was just scorching creating intense sensation to my skin. I arrived at Victoria Park and some trikes have been there already asking me if I need their service.

At first, I was taking some photos before I crossed the street to the park. As I went near the arch, a tricycle driver asked me (in vernacular), "Why are you taking photos of ours?" 

I smiled and said, "No, it was not you, it is the arch that I am taking." Then the trike driver asked again why I am taking photos of the arch then I replied that I am a travel blogger and I capture photos to document my travel experiences. After that, he asked me to take photos of him including another trike driver who was with him because they wanted to appear to my blog. Haha!

Victoria Park, Bangued, Abra
I have a thin physique (at least now), so I only have little fats to spare. The road looks flat but it hurts my leg muscles gradually because the road also ascends gradually to the top of the hill. Should I have taken a tricycle ride, I was just too poor that I can't afford a possible overcharging from them (I always anticipate that) so I preferred to walk.

My sweat started to come out which signals that my metabolism (catabolism to be specific) is activated to a higher degree. It was a good cardiovascular work-out though.

Cassamata National Park
Cassamata National Park 
I know, aerobic exercises like walking, little hiking or trekking target burning our body fats on which I have a little (since I am payatot).

But hey! Going upward, trees are everywhere and the air gets cooler that gave me instant relief. I love the immersion to nature although I know I still have to take a more than hundred of steps to concrete stairs that will lead me to the top of the hill.

I am getting OA, I know. It is not a mountain, and more not to be a mountain climbing drama. It was just a hill with easy climb since there are roads and stairs but what I just wanted to bring out of this story is the fact that I was exhausted because of the non-stop walk and climb considering I don't have much body fats and for that, I consider myself to have burned some body fats because of the massive sweat I excreted and a degree of exhasution.

Of course, I still want to climb a mountain and I know I can do it. I am just telling that I burned some body fats as evidenced by massive sweat excretion, increased heart rate and toned muscle which makes this post so corny. blah. lol!

Oval Era Hotel Bangued Abra
Oval Era Hotel, located near Victoria Park
<img border="0" height="640" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZDS7PjRN1AE/T8HNjhua8ZI/AAAAAAAAD2g/riBpOMkzHQY/s640/CIMG0054.jpg" width="480" /></div><br /> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><imageanchor style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="440" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yMOJ1e4S8tU/T8HMOKFk2sI/AAAAAAAAD2Y/mFap46y4KQ0/s640/CIMG0053.jpg" width="595" title="Unconditioned park marker"/></imageanchor></div>Well I reached the top of the hill and it was just rewarding that the view you are seeing is majestic. It was the Abra valley, the Abra River, the Ilocos Mountains at west and the downtown <a href="http://www.edmaration.com/search/label/Bangued" target="_blank">Bangued</a>.<br /> <br /> It was about to rain actually and the sky turned to gray with the gloomy clouds appearing like paintings.<br /> <br /> <imageanchor style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Downtown Bangued abra" border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Cht_91FI3h4/T8HPGO50ZkI/AAAAAAAAD2w/YS4tkxxIbwU/s1600/CIMG0049+copy.jpg" width="595" title="View of Downtown Bangued from the top of Victoria Park"/></imageanchor><imageanchor style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="196" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MyTqjcT0GVI/T8HPAetUoWI/AAAAAAAAD2o/beNNgMPwQ5Q/s200/CIMG0045.jpg" width="200" title="Selfie at the top of the hill"/></imageanchor><br /> The park was quiet. I saw a couple at the top of a little tower having sweet moments while I was making myself relaxed while savoring the sweet and quiet moment of the view I was looking at!<br /> <br /> Yes I burned some fats I am sure of that, not just because of the physical efforts in climbing the hill but also the intense emotion that I experienced when I saw the breath taking view of the mountain, the valley and the river under an unfair weather condition, lol!<br /> <br /> </div></div><h1 style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: large;">Bangued #TownExploration Series</span></h1><pre class="alt2" dir="ltr" style="border: 1px inset; height: 215px; margin: 0px; overflow: auto; padding: 6px; text-align: center; width: 590px;"><a href="http://www.edmaration.com/2013/03/kawayan-festival-featuring-abra.html"><img alt="Kawayan Festival featuring Abra-inspired Terno Fashion Show" height="200" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-LJBy9vPENvo/UTnQimj4o4I/AAAAAAAAKXM/9zpGqAn6zlA/s640/CIMG3017.jpg" style="background-color: #eeecec; padding: 3px;" title="Kawayan Festival featuring Abra-inspired Terno Fashion Show" width="200" /></a><a href="http://www.edmaration.com/2012/04/abra-province-profile-my-take-for-this.html"><img alt="Abra Province Profile | My Take for this Notorious Province" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-az-o1gQ6C9Q/T5VUE1O-D3I/AAAAAAAADOM/As4LyYVX54I/s640/CIMG0046.jpg" style="background-color: #eeecec; padding: 3px;" title="Abra Province Profile | My Take for this Notorious Province" width="200" /></a><a href="http://www.edmaration.com/2012/05/peace-for-abra-roasted-cow-for-peace.html"><img alt="Peace for Abra | Roasted Cow for Peace" height="200" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YGgbJwDson0/T72M-bM_JvI/AAAAAAAADw8/aqdJddi5U-c/s640/538508_267532323335126_100002350828037_581624_433989858_n.jpg" style="background-color: #eeecec; padding: 3px;" title="Peace for Abra | Roasted Cow for Peace" width="200" /></a><a href="http://www.edmaration.com/2012/05/bangued-abra-victoria-park-where-i.html"><img alt="Bangued, Abra | Victoria Park: Cassamata Hill National Park" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-iqJ84wrE17A/T8GhcJhkoCI/AAAAAAAAD0k/IFJW_rp_R5E/s640/CIMG0051.jpg" style="background-color: #eeecec; padding: 3px;" title="Bangued, Abra | Victoria Park: Cassamata Hill National Park (You are currently viewing this article)" width="200" /></a><img height="200" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YVHTHcGBL9U/UXO7THWkMNI/AAAAAAAAK9U/2724oY_ZpzM/s1600/67067_312256012236670_672301789_n.jpg" title="ALL RIGHTS RESERVED | www.edmaration.com" style="background-color: #eeecec; padding: 3px;" /></pre><h1 style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: large;">Map Showing the Location of #Bangued</span></h1><a href="http://www.edmaration.com/search/label/Abra" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PzVD1BgEV2c/UTtbke2P4MI/AAAAAAAAKaA/EgwNyRJy_DA/s1600/Bangued.jpg" title="Map of Bangued | Abra, Philippines (Click to view other posts for ABRA PROVINCE)" width="595" /></a></div><h1 style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: small;">Click this map to view other posts for ABRA PROVINCE</span></h1></div>
NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.

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"The roasted cow served as a sign for unity, it was only one yet it can feed many which can simply be related to the goal of P.E.A.C.E. for Abra group to unite the people in one with peace and harmony."

The people of Abra from all over the world can never forget where they came from. It is a part of their outcries to change their province for good so the group Peace for Abra was formed. I got interested with the Roasted Cow that has made the people of Abra worldwide to spread peace this day!

Roasted Cow
Wholly cow, ready to get roasted transported from this jeep
P.E.A.C.E. for Abra is an international group of Abrenians with the goal to promote peace for the province of Abra and to help their less fortunate kababayans. 

The group is supposed to roast a lamb but since it was not available, this cow became the subject.

What made this scene interesting on my part is that it was a huge thing compared to the usual swine which is very popular as litson baboy. It was very noteworthy that this big roasted cow gathered all the Abrenians worldwide for a mission, for peace, and for unity.

Litson Baka
Abrenians who are more fortunate in their lives, around 100 of them came here to bring charitable works for their less fortunate brothers.

The event was held last March 08, 2012 at Bobila Farm, Cosili, Bangued and the roasted cow just looks epic as it made the people unite in one accord. The roasted cow served as a sign for unity, it was only one yet it can feed many which can simply be related to the goal of P.E.A.C.E. for Abra group to unite the people in one with peace and harmony.

One member said, "It was a wonderful celebration of helping our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Abra, which is the main reason why P4A exists!" -- This is a public service post made possible via Saks Baroña/end

Bangued #TownExploration Series

Bangued, Abra | Victoria Park: Cassamata Hill National ParkKawayan Festival featuring Abra-inspired Terno Fashion ShowAbra Province Profile | My Take for this Notorious ProvincePeace for Abra | Roasted Cow for Peace

Map Showing the Location of #Bangued

Click this map to view other posts for ABRA

NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.

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Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"The woods cover portions of the area densely, making the ruins to appear as a valuable part of the thick woods and that the thick forest-like setting has been ordered by nature to take care of this delicate testament of the past, of our heritage, and of our history."

I reached the place with no idea what to expect aside from the given fact that it is a cemetery and it was ruined. I was with a man who has inspired me to travel and to blog so well. I have been chasing after his blog for a long time now and traveling with this man this time stimulated the neurochemicals of my Central Nervous System to send a signal to itch my feet, thus urging me to rub these feet by going anywhere it can lead me.

For this cemetery ruins, an ordinary person or tourist would not or may not care about it. Well, the site, in the eyes of a non-traveler may just be so ordinary, but Kuya Estan (I call him sir in person) was suggesting me to see this maybe because he already knew that I have become his disciple, LOL! I didn't hesitate to say no and it was in fact a shame on me that I have a way better access to the ruins but I didn't know about it. 

Sta Maria Church Ruins

There was no mark of reluctance within me and I was in fact excited to see this site. As I always say, ordinary person would not care about it but deep inside me, this is such a very important landmark that I should not miss seeing.

Kuya Estan has already seen this before and he was actually showing me the things that I should see here. He was pointing to the old walls of the cemetery and I know it is a thing I must witness.

Santa Maria Church Ruins
There are local residents at the area. Some are gathering and eating Tamarind fruits which according to them, tastes sweet.

The trail to the ruins was lonely, very quiet and as I approached the cemetery, it was eerie before my senses. I wasn't afraid, I just feel a strange feeling coupled with excitement.

No I wasn't scared, it just looks eerie but I was actually enjoying this new discovery and that feeling is part of the thrill of the adventure.

Sta. Maria Ilocos Sur Ruined Cemetery
Kuya Estan at the entrance arch of the cemetery
Santa Maria Ilocos Sur Cemetery
The lonely trail to the ruined cemetery 
I know by myself that this place may not attract tourist that much but it is as equally important as other old churches. Yes, ruined which means left and undervalued but in the eyes of Kuya Estan and me, this landmark is an important seasoning for the taste of our rich history and heritage.

I was approaching the ruins already. I've been seeing a massive entrance arch made of bricks covered with a wild vine called cadena de amor that bears beautiful small pink flowers giving additional color to the place with mostly green objects (trees, grasses, vines) and brown too (the ruins).

Santa Maria Ilocos Sur Cemetery Ruins
Santa Maria Ilocos Sur Cemetery Ruins
As I approach the ruins, there is this feeling, something eerie but it was overridden by excitement that I am having deep breathes.

Sigh, what I saw was just amazingly beautiful. Inside the cemetery is a ruined chapel that gave me chills. Uh, I was having goosebumps and I am sure Kuya Estan is not noticing the height of my emotions since I stayed calm although the excitement of seeing a new place is already manifesting in me with trembling hands and big smile.

Look what I found! It was a ruined chapel with huge altar with beautiful architectural details showing a design that can hardly be seen nowadays. It was showing me a craft full of history, rich heritage and great connection to the past!

Santa Maria Ilocos Sur Cemetery RuinsSanta Maria Ilocos Sur Cemetery RuinsSanta Maria Ilocos Sur Cemetery Ruins


The ruined cemetery wasn't ordinary at my sight. I have seen several ruins but this one remained so beautiful. It is somewhat located inside a forest, as I consider it because the area where it is located has massive outgrowth of trees!

The woods cover portions of the area densely, making the ruins to appear as a valuable part of the thick woods and that the thick forest-like setting has been ordered by nature to take care of this delicate testament of the past, of our heritage, and of our history.



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Location Highlighted in Red
I may not give an ample dose of information about this ruined cemetery (on how it was ruined, how it was made and the history behind those brick walls, etc) because I intended not just to research about it.

All I wanted is to write this post based on my feelings and observations about the place and this is how I visited this place with Kuya Estan, these were the feelings, the observations and the surprises I experienced.
Eerie? May look like that but I know deep inside me that this moment was r0cking, simply great and I was happy because my tour guide was the person who has inspired me to travel, to capture, to blog and to appreciate more -- now, I was with him face to face.
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NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.