Planning to Visit the Philippines Soon?

There are hundreds of tourists attractions in the Philippines. But as a lover of the Island of Marinduque (Home of the Morions and Heart of the Philippines), I am indeed partial to its beauty, charm and its friendly and hospitable residents. Therefore, help me achieve my dream of seeing this island becomes a world tourist destination, by telling all your friends and relatives about this site. Welcome, to you all, new readers and faithful followers of this site! The photo above is Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos, Marinduque with beautiful and majestic Mt Malindig in the background. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing your copyrights. Please do not forget to read the latest National and International news in the right side bar of this blog!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Congratulations and Good Luck- P-Noy



Aquinos-The Past, the Present and the Future-A Dynasty?

The Philippines has a new President. Watching the inauguration ceremonies live in TV was very educational and inspiring. The Change of Power ceremony, the going down the stairs of GMA- most unpopular president of the century and the climbing of P-Noy up the second floor of the Malacanang Palace is indeed symbolic of the transition of Power. The inauguration ceremony was simple but inspiring. I do hope that the new President and his cabinet will be able to accomplish one of his goals -the elimination of graft and corruption ( G and C) in the Philippines.

Several articles in the web regarding G and C appeared today. One of the articles was written by Bob Martin in his web magazine “Live in the Philippines”. Bob mentioned several ideas regarding elimination of G and C that I like. However, personally I have a feeling that G and C could never be eliminated in the Philippines. It is a way of life in this country having originated more than 500 years ago from the Spanish Conquistadors and practiced by all levels in the Philippine Government for a number of years.

P-Noy may be able to reduce its incidence, but he will never be able to eliminate it in his lifetime. In Martin's article, one reader commented that perhaps a law imposing Death Penalty on all politicians found guilty of G and C charges should be passed. If this law is passed, I commented that is is the best way of eliminating majority of our Politicians and political Dynasties.

Another blogger mentioned that she hopes in six years after P-Noy , another “Aquino” name in the person of Kris becomes the next president of the Philippines(2016). I think this is too early, but with the Filipino habit and addiction of electing actors and actresses ( name recognition), this is a high possibility. What do you think? Comments any one?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cave Exploration in Marinduque


If you love cave exploration, Marinduque should be in your next spelunking trip. The following videos released by the provincial government of Marinduque a few days ago is a good example of the many ways, government officials can help promote ecotourism in the Philippines.

Surfing in Siargao Island, Philippines-Cloud 9


Do you like to surf? If so, Siargao Island, in the province of Surigao del Norte in Northeast, Mindanao, Philippines is the place for you. It has gained international recognition the last five years and has been a tourist attraction for surfers in the world.

Siargao is a tear-drop shaped island in the Philippine Sea situated 800 kilometers southeast of Manila in the province of Surigao del Norte. It has a land area of approximately 437 square kilometers. The east coast is relatively straight with one deep inlet, Port Pilar. The coastline is marked by a succession of reefs, small points and white, sandy beaches. The neighboring islands and islets have similar landforms.

Siargao Island contains the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao, at Del Carmen. Long stretches of wetlands indicate a potential for commercial seaweed propagation. Siargao Island is greatly influenced by the winds and currents coming uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean, intensified by the Mindanao current running westward through the Siargao Strait.

Siargao Island is situated at a coordinate of 9°52′N 126°03′E / 9.867°N 126.05°E / 9.867; 126.05. It is composed of municipalities of Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, San Benito, Pilar, San Isidro, and Santa Monica.

Offshore, a classic tropical island lies protected within its surrounding coral reef with dozens of coconut palms dressed in the center circle of the island. Off to the right, well within the massive coastal reef, lies a shining white sand bar, (Pansukian, or Naked island) some 200 meters long. The tide of Siargao is diurnal with tidal curves typically present, especially on the east coast of the island.

The Island's Pacific-facing reefs are situated on the edge of the Philippine Trench, and the extremely deep offshore waters assure the ocean swells have undiluted power when they encounter the many coral and rock reefs. Siargao has excellent surfing conditions, particularly during the southwest "habagat" monsoon from August to November, when the prevailing wind is offshore.

In the past , going to Siargao is by domestic flights from Manila to Surigao, and then by boat to Siargao Island. Beginning March 4 however, the easiest, fastest, most convinient way to the island is now by flying Cebu Pacific direct to Siargao Island via Cebu.1
Video by Tourism Philippines
Cloud 9One of the best known surfing waves on Siargao and the Philippines, with a worldwide reputation for thick, hollow tubes is "Cloud 9 . This right-breaking reef wave is the site of the annual Siargao Cup, a domestic and international surfing competition sponsored by the provincial government of Surigao del Norte.

The wave was discovered by travelling surfers in the late 1980s. It was named and made famous by American photographer John S. Callahan, who published the first major feature on Siargao Island in the United States- based Surfer magazine in March 1993, and hundreds of his photos in many other books and magazines since his first visit in 1992. Callahan has put the island on the international map and has drawn thousands of surfers and tourists to Siargao. Cloud 9 also has a reputation for being a relatively cheap destination for surfers with many cheap accommodations and restaurants and bars to choose from.

There are several other quality waves on Siargao and nearby islands, but Cloud 9 has received more publicity than any other, indeed in the Philippines as a whole. It is the only wave easily accessible without a boat, leading to overcrowding and the nickname of "Crowd 9" among surfers. Eager foreign and locally owned accommodation and tourist facilities have profited from the magazine publicity and the influx of visitors drawn by the annual Siargao Cup competition in September.

Siargao is well known as "The Surfing Capital of the Philippines" with a reputation among surfers within the Philippines and the International scene.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why I volunteer to the Medical Mission in Marinduque


One of the FaceBook users in my group “ Marinduquenos All Over The World” ask me yesterday, why I continue volunteering and giving my time, spend my own money and make a big effort to publicize this project of Marinduque International, Inc.( MI, Inc) via my blogs and Face Book account. I told her because I feel good about it. Moreover, the more I gave of myself ( time, money and my heart), the more I feel good about myself. For those of you who are not familiar with MI, Inc.. It is a non-profit organization registered in US compose of Marinduquenos now residing in US and Canada. Last year, a new chapter from Saudi Arabia joined the eight chapters in US and Canada. For more details please visit the website: www.marinduqueinternational.org

For those of you that had participated in at least one of the six previous medical mission ( 1998-2008), you know in your heart what I meant by “Feeling Good About Yourself.”. Some of you may have different reasons why you had participated previously or have plans of joining this coming mission next year ( February 5-14, 2011). But essentially,volunteering your time, money and your heart is one way of giving back to the poor and needy of Marinduque, the graces and good fortunes you have attained for yourself and your family when you immigrated to US, Canada or other parts of the world.

When you participate in the medical mission, you will touch the lives of many of your poor kababayans from the rural areas of the six towns of Marinduque. Therefore the saying that “the time that you really live is the time when you have touch the lives of others” can now be applied to you. For those of you who had not participated in the medical mission, your participation to this humanitarian project is highly encourage. I hope you will join us.

If you had participated in the previous medical mission, please feel free to add ( via comments) the benefits you have received personally and the reasons why you keep volunteering to this humanitarian project. I am looking forward to your participation next February in Marinduque. Mabuhay kayo Lahat!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Latest News on Bellarocca Resort and Spa


Marinduque’s luxury isle - is the title of the article on the Daily Inquirer by G. Querubin dated 6/23/2010 . With rates starting from $420 ( hotel room) to $1320 (villa) per night, most of the local Marinduquenos can certainly not afford these prices. Even Filipino-Americans Balikbayan found this resort very expensive. The resort has a website( www.bellaroccaresort.com) but their promo packages had not been updated.

I hope that the resort will give discounts to Balikbayans who are from Marinduque in the near future. I am currently negotiating with a representative of the resort to give our group ( Marinduque International) a discount in our planned post medical mission vacation at the resort this coming February, 2011. If you are interested in joining my group, please let me know ASAP. I will announce the negotiated discounted rate as soon as I received it. Here is the article for your reading pleasure.

"MARINDUQUE, A heart-shaped island-province south of Manila, is home to the world-renowned Moriones Festival, but on a small mountain-islet on its southwestern coast also sits a luxurious Mediterranean-style resort.

Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa on Elefante Island features elegant accommodations, with balconies and verandas that offer breathtaking views of the Sibuyan Sea and the majestic Mt. Malindig. It was formally opened on Feb. 14.

Bellarocca (“beautiful rock” in Italian) is part of Buenavista (good view), the smallest and poorest (fourth-class) of the province’s six municipalities. Pristine and picturesque, Buenavista also boasts of the Bagtingon mountain ranges where butterflies abound.

The resort islet has rolling terrain and immaculate white structures perched atop cliffs, reflecting sunlight and contrasting with the lush green surroundings and blue seas below. Its corporate owner compares its landscape with the quaint island of Santorini in Greece.

Asked what makes it different from other resorts, Jan Michel Gautier, a former general manager, said in an interview: “Service beyond customer expectation.”

“We create demand, we create potentials and we see to it that our customers will have a memorable experience with their stay with us,” he said.

The resort is owned by Gold Barrel Social Club Resort Capital Inc. and is managed by Genesis Resorts and Hotels Corp.

Villas and Terrazas

It features 50 exclusive and stunningly appointed rooms—21 deluxe, nine suites, 10 “terrazas” and 10 villas—designed to highlight a lavish ambiance and intimate stay. Each villa has its own eternity pool, Jacuzzi and pocket garden, and features fully furnished rooms with minimalist interior design and high ceilings.

Room and villa rates range from $420 (about P19,000) to $1,320 (about P61,000) per night. An overnight stay at the presidential villa is pegged at P250,000.

The prices are undoubtedly beyond the reach of most of the 230,000 Marinduqueños, whose average monthly income is estimated at P11,000. Poverty incidence in the province was placed at 50.6 percent, according to a 2006 report of the National Statistical Coordination Board.

Guests are shuttled to their accommodations from the marina, where they are first welcomed in the traditional “putong” (crowning) rite. Employees dance to the chanting and toss petals to the air before presenting kalachuchi leis to them.

An eternity pool, natural hot spring pool and a pavilion restaurant are found near the beach. In between the marina and the pavilion area is the aqua sports center, which offers snorkeling, kayaking, hobiecat sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, sunset cruising and island hopping.

Ramil Lagroso, the food and beverage manager, said the hotel restaurant serves mostly Asian and Western cuisine.

The resort also has a par-36, 9-hole golf course at the foothills of Malindig, a fully equipped air-conditioned gym, cigar, karaoke and piano lounges, library, entertainment center, garden and a meditation sanctuary.

Tours are available around the mainland and to various destinations, such as century-old churches, beaches, museum, Bathala cave and butterfly farms.

Commitment

Bellarocca is committed to help in the province’s social progress by being a part of social developments, Gautier said. During lean periods, the resort’s doctor conducts medical missions in the communities.

“We are helping the locals through employment,” he said. Of the 167 resort employees, 124 are from Marinduque.

“We buy seafood products used in our restaurants, also, directly from local fishermen,” Gautier said.

Fishing is the next main source of income of the locals. Marinduque is primarily agricultural, with 55,810 hectares of its total land area of 95,924 ha devoted to coconuts and other crops.

The municipal government of Buenavista expects that its revenues would increase from business permit fees and taxes that the resort will remit and from the taxes of local businesses tied up with the resort’s operation, such as restaurants and “pasalubong” stores.

Bellarocca is now the banner site of the province for local and international tourism, according to provincial tourism officer Gerry Jamilla. Marinduque, he said, “is becoming the next potential international tourism destination.”

“If the local products and support services such as restaurants will be developed fully, the benefits for Marinduque will be bigger,” trade provincial director Carlito Fabalena said.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Snow Bird Lifestyle -Aren't you Envious?

Marinduque-my Island Paradise
The following article was written by Celina Macaisa and posted by www.myphilippineretirement.com dated January 2, 2010. It was titled Retiring Half-a-Year in the US and the Philippines.

When a Global Filipino Retires, which country does he choose for the next part of his life? Will he need to leave home, friends, and family (a second time)?

For decades, due to lack of well-paying jobs in the Philippines, Filipinos have been leaving their country and families behind to improve their own and their families’ standard of living.

And after decades of working hard in a highly-competitive, fast-paced business environment, and ‘you are on your own culture’ of a 1st world country; these (former) Filipinos are now prioritizing how to increase the quality of their retirement years.

Ironically, the Philippines which may not have been a great country to make a living in during their younger years is an excellent country for retirement: warm climate and culture, relaxed pace of life, and lower living expenses.

Hence, the ‘snowbird lifestyle’ of having two residences in different parts of the world, which has been practiced by Europeans and North Americans for centuries, is now gaining more acceptance by Filipinos who immigrated abroad.

The Rise of the Filipino Snowbird

“I know of another person who is doing the same lifestyle we have, 6 months in PI [Philippine Islands] and 6 months in the US. We call ourselves snow birds. A lot of our friends are envious of us.” - David B. Katague

However, although many Filipinos living abroad are aware of the ‘snowbird’ retirement lifestyle, many are not quite sure about the planning and costs needed to make it work.

Hence, this article is written to give a look on how one Filipino couple, David and Macrine Katague was able to put into reality their wish to live their retirement years both in the U.S. and the Philippines—-two countries they think of as home and where key family members live.

David B. Katague is a retired Chemistry Team Leader of the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland USA. He is also currently a proprietor of Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort, in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.And one of the most interesting things you will learn from this interview is that beyond harsh winters and cost, ‘family’ is the driving reason and support factor for making this retirement lifestyle work.

Here is our interview with David B. Katague:

1) How many years have you spent in the US?
“[We] have lived in US since 1960 to the present.”

2) What were your top reasons for choosing your retirement lifestyle of living half-a year in the Philippines and half-a-year in the States?

“[Our reasons were] climate (even though the winters of Northern California are much milder than that of Chicago or Toronto), relatives, and cheaper standard of living.”

3) Before making this decision, did you know of another former Filipino retiree who practiced this ‘snowbird lifestyle’ that influenced you?
“[Yes], my sister-in-law”

4) Did you re-acquire your Filipino citizenship or retired in the Philippines under the Special Resident’s Retirement Visa (SRRV)?

“My wife reacquired her Filipino citizenship 2 yrs ago. I will consider applying for dual citizenship if I decide to live in Philippines permanently.”

5) How do you spend your time here in the Philippines? What makes retiring in the Philippines interesting and inspiring in terms of activities, new experiences, and living with other Filipinos?

”Setting up a small business (a beach resort and conference center (www.chateaudumer.com), keeps me busy while I am in Marinduque.

In addition since my favorite hobby is gardening, the tropical climate is conducive to growing orchids, fruits, and vegetables and other tropical ornamentals. This gives me plenty of exercise both physical and mental, an antidote to developing AZ disease.”

Also the presence of relatives makes life masaya lalo na [happy especially] during the Christmas and Easter Season. I do miss my grandchildren during Christmas while we are in PI [Philippine Islands].”

6) Practical concerns on this retirement lifestyle:
a) Are you receiving pension? How is this retirement way of life feasible?

“I have SS, private and federal pension. Since I am maintaining 2 households, it is a very expensive proposition. Luckily, I have a son, who takes care of our house here in NC [Northern California] while we are in PI.

When we are in US, I have a full time caretaker who takes care of the house and the beach resort.”

b) In articles discussing retiring in the Philippines, an allowance of US$1,000 to $1,500 a month is often quoted as enough for a retiring couple to live on. Is this still true in your experience?
“Yes, $1500 a month is still adequate in the provinces. In Manila, this amount will be probably too tight.”

c) Did you need to have a trial-run first? Or did you stay in the Phil with a tourist visa first before making the final decision?

“[No.] I know life in PI as I grew up there until I was 21 years old. The only question is where in the Philippines, we should retire, my home province or my wife's home province. Marinduque was the winner.”

7) Medical Insurance and Healthcare: In living half-a-year in the Philippines, what plans did you make for medical emergencies since U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not cover for treatment in the Philippines?

“I have Blue Cross under the Federal Insurance Plan. My wife has Phil Health. I recommend a minimum of $2000 for medical emergency.”

8) Are there any individuals and organizations who were a big help to you in setting-up your retirement life in the Philippines? What do you think the government can improve on to attract more former Filipino retirees?
“Yes, my sister-in law helped us built our retirement home, while we were still working here in US.”

“To encourage Filipinos expatriate, the government should help in relocation by exempting them of taxes for their household goods and car. Also, there should be someone in the Philippines to help them settle and facilitate their move.”

Note: Currently, one-time tax exemptions for importing personal goods (except for cars) to the Philippine is only provided to former Filipino retirees who applied for the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV), within 90 days of SRRV issuance and not exceeding $7,000. These tax exemptions are not accorded to former Filipinos who are retiring in the Philippines through re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship. - myphilippineretirement.com

9) Advice on doing it right:

a) Any suggestion/advice for other Former Filipinos who are still evaluating their decision in living part of their retirement life in the Philippines?
“Always plan ahead. Choose a location, where you have relatives and friends [emphasis mine]. Get health insurance accepted in PI, but reserve cash for medical emergency.”
b) Last question: Are there some common pitfalls to avoid?

“Do not engage in business if you can not personally manage it or have a trusted relative or employee to do it.

Keep your mouth shut in local politics. [Get] acculturated again to the Filipino lifestyle of [being] easy going, no value of time [or different regard for time as compared to N. America] to avoid the rat race again, thus preventing a heart stroke.

Keep always busy both in mind and body, thus enjoying your retirement, and hopefully a long life.”

To summarize this interview, a global Filipino can enjoy his retirement years both in his country of birth and new home country through adequate financial preparation and family support.Why make a tough choice of permanently leaving your new home, new friends, and family in North America; or forego the warmth of the climate and culture of your country of birth when you can be a Filipino snowbird?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Marinduque Cuisine- The Best in the Island?


It has been almost two years since my last posting about Philippine cuisine, specifically Marinduque cuisine. But the latest posting from one of my on-line friends in FB, reminded me that food is an excellent topic any time of the year. My on-line friend who is a Caucasian American( JM) and married to a Filipina posted on his FB wall that his wife relatives from the Ilocos Region sent them fresh Lapu Lapu, Prawns and kankong ( a native vegetables), the other day. JM commented that his wife is a good cook and served him chili prawns, fish sticks and kankong sautéed in oysters sauce that night for dinner. The menu made me hungry and reminded me of my wife's recipe of prawns in garlic sauce, sweet and sour bingao and chicken cooked in coconut milk with saffron and green peppers. Bingao is an ocean fish in the red snapper family. It is more fatty than Lapu-Lapu and taste like pork with no fishy smell. The texture is similar to fresh water eels. It is very expensive and rare. I am sorry I can not give you an English name, but bingao is better tasting than Lapu Lapu. We will not be in Marinduque until the end of the year. But the first thing I will instruct our housekeeper is to look for Bingao in the fish market as soon as we arrived.

Now back to Marinduque cuisine. There are four dishes that the Marinduquenos are proud to call their very own. First, they have the ADOBO SA GATA. This is usually a native chicken cooked in coconut milk with green papaya and pepper leaves, spices and dilaw ( a yellow spice) also known as tumeric, (a cheap imitation of saffron). The native chicken is sometimes tough but has a more sweet-tasty feel compared to the regular chicken. The native recipe do not call for green, yellow or red peppers fruit, but my wife always instruct our cook to add this three kind of peppers for color/texture. This is my #1 favorite. I could eat this every week with gusto.

The second dish is the dinugu-an or Kari-kari. The Marinduqueno kari-kari has ox blood but a dryer sauce(compared to other regional blood pudding dish) and very spicy. This is a different dish from Kare, made of tripe and ox tail in peanut butter sauce with green beans. I do not know the details of how it is cook, but when Macrine's aunt give us her Kari-kari, it taste like heaven with rice cake (puto) or just steam rice (I am salivating now, just thinking about it). If you hate spicy dishes, this is not the dish for you .

The third and most delicious of the native dishes is ulang-ulang. It is made from the coconut lobster and young coconut ( shredded buko), coconut milk and a sprinkling of garlic pepper, unions and kalamansi juice( similar to lemon juice). It taste heavenly with steamed rice and noodles.

The fourth dish native to the island is "laing". It is made from taro(gabi) roots and leaves with garlic, ginger and coconut milk. Sometimes, dried fish ( dilis) or tulingan is added to the dish and a tint of shrimp paste( bagoong)


To All Married Men Readers! Do you believe in the statement that, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". This statement really applies to me! Comments?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time for Patroitism-Philippine Independence Day


Today, June 12, 2010 is 112 years of Philippine independence from Spain(1898). Parades and other festivities are being held in the Philippines to celebrate this event. Since I am not in the Philippines, my contribution to the celebration is this video, a choral presentation of "Ako ay Filipino",(I am a Filipino) by UP Adventist Choir performed in Fresno a couple of years ago. If you have Filipino blood in you, joined this 112th anniversary celebration of Philippine Independence ( from Spain, not US). Philippines Independence from US was July 4,1946. Here's the video for your viewing pleasure. In this video, there are 15 more songs. One of my favorites Filipino patriotic song is Dugong Filipino ( Blood of a Filipino). This was sung by Jonathan Badon, re known Filipino Tenor in the world of Philippine Opera. Jonathan had been to our residence in Silver Spring, Maryland in the mid 1990's along with several other Philippine opera singers with the Fides Asensio Cuyugan's group.

If you have not heard about Jonathan Badon, here's his short biography.
The Philippines' prince of operatic-pop is an Aliw Awardee for 2004 Best Male Classical Performer (Philippine version of Tony Awards). He just had a series of performances in Texas, California, and Southeast Asia. Badon is a Bachelor of Music in Voice graduate at the University of the Philippines College of Music as a scholar of the Music Promotion Foundation - Cultural Center of the Philippines. He has performed lead roles in various operas, oratorios, sarzuelas musicales and has done numerous solo concerts in the Philippines as well as in the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Brunei Darrusalam. He also has represented the Philippines to different music and cultural festivals in Wales, Scotland, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Korea, China, Japan and the United States.

A versatile performer, Jonathan is one of the most sought-after stage and music personalities in the Philippines today. Also known as the Josh Groban of the Philippines, he is the ultimate cross-over artist in his effortless transition from classical to pop singing. It is no wonder that he is the favorite featured performer in Concert at the Park, Paco Park Presents, CCP-Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Concerts, Teatrino Concerts and Hard Rock Cafe to name just a few.

He is an award winning composer and arranger as well, winning the grand prize in the AFP National Songwriting Contest for “Dugong Pilipino.” His artistry is also revealed in the visual arts. He favors realistic sketches of architectural and historical landmarks of places he has visited. Quite aptly, his extra ordinary talents in music and art featured in a CD which was released in 2002 titled “Sketches and Melodies.” Jonathan had a very succesful solo US concert tour last 2005.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fishing that Ruins our Coral Reefs


I can not believe that this type of fishing is still existing in the Philippines. I feel that this type of fishing is ruining our corals reefs and damaging the environment as well as exploiting the children. A necessary evil, but it has to stopped. Here's the video for your information.

Link within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...