Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Make your Holy Week vacation more interesting by actually engaging in Holy Week activities. *wink wink*

Going on a social media purge as your penitensya (penance) or beach bumming in places like Boracay or Palawan for the Semana Santa is well and good, but don’t you ever get tired of the same trend every single year? Why not go on a simple summer holiday where you can enjoy your vacation AND still experience something relevant to Holy Week festivities? We have rounded up ideas for your Semana Santa escape.

Barotac Viejo, Iloilo

Iloilo isn’t the first place that pops into people’s heads when it comes to answering the question “Where should I be this Holy Week?” It’s not as popular a destination especially that crowd favorite Boracay is merely on the northwest part of the island. But the sleep town of Barotac Viejo may just give you something new.

The little town is known for having a community that is takes their Holy Week seriously by mimicking the Passion of Christ. The townspeople themselves have been performing the Passion play, with “passion” Hiligaynon every Good Friday for almost half a century in their annual Taltal sa Barotac Viejoand it’s a delight to watch.

Places to see: Bucas Grande, Old Iloilo City, Miagao Church, River Esplanande, “Little Baguio” (Bucari)
Things to do: Party at Smallville, Walk along Iloilo River Esplanande, Island hopping at Concepcion

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island
This small island north of Cebu isn’t just a hit for its white sand beaches; it’s also a good place to be if you want to see lifesize replicas of religious images this Holy Week. Photo by Roderick Eime

It’s an island north of the Cebu mainland that’s become popular for its stretches of fine-sand beaches that is expected to see an influx of tourists this Holy Week. What people shouldn’t miss while in the island paradise is the annual Pasko sa Kasakit, a simple celebration of the stations of the cross, but with a twist where the images in the Station of the Cross are supersized and paraded around.

Places to see: Alice Beach, Camp Sawi, Kota Beach (all in Santa Fe), Malapascua Island, Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, Kota Park
Things to do: Biking, snorkel, freedive/scuba, beach bumming, tour the town of Bantayan for heritage houses

Siquijor

This island is starting to blow up more for the views you’ll get than what happens here during Semana Santa.

Siquijor, known across the country as a home to witchcraft and mysticism, but locals have since shed that image and now proudly celebrate their folk healing expertise with the annual Folk Healing Festival, taking place during the last few days of Holy Week. Get yourself treated by local healers or witness how they make various concoctions with the promise of curing almost anything you can think of—yes, including heartaches.

Places to see: Century-old balete tree, Salagdoong Beach, Paliton Beach, Kagusuan Beach (extremely hidden, possible that not even the locals know about it)
Things to do: Go around the island on a scooter, visit a ranch, hit the island’s peaks on a mountain bike, snorkeling, beach hopping

Marinduque

If there’s a Holy Week destination that’s never left off any list, it’s Marinduque. Known as the geographical heart of the Philippines, it’s basically an island that’s made itself known for a festival that celebrates a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ: the Moriones Festival.

Moriones Festival
He’s not really angry, but he is the first thing you’ll see when you look up information on the Moriones Festival, the tale of a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ. Photo by Richard Reynoso for travelingmorion.com.

Most of you will know what this festival centers on commemorating Roman soldier Longinus, who stabs Jesus on the side, witnesses His resurrection, tells the Romans about it, and (gruesomely) gets his head chopped off. This part is often depicted in their version of The Passion play, which talks about Christ’s last moments before He eventually passes on.

Places to see: Tres Reyes islands, Mt. Mataas, Boac, Palad Sandbar, Ungab Rock Formations, Bathala Python Cave
Things to do: Visita Iglesia, Beach hopping

Pampanga

It’s the piece de resistance of a list of Holy Week destinations, and something that’s also been a source of controversy as to whether or not it should be considered a tourist attraction. We’re talking, of course, about the Maleldo Festival in San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga.

struck
Yes. This is a very REAL crucifixion. In San Pedro Cutud. And it happens nearly every year. Photo by istolethetv on Flickr.

The Maleldo Festival is the full (and very real) re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion. Yes, it’s the whole 10 miles: the garb, the Crown of Thorns, crying depiction of Mary Magdalene, people marching on the streets whacking their backs with things that make them bleed, and someone actually getting nailed to a cross that they’ve been carrying for several miles.

Places to see: Mt. Pinatubo, Subic Bay, Sandbox at Porac, El Kabayo, Skyranch Pampanga, Nayong Pilipino
Things to do: go on a food trip, adventure activities, Visita Iglesia

Poblacion, Makati

Yes, you read that right. It’s an option for those who don’t want to go out of the city yet still want to witness something that only happens once a year. The citizens of Makati, particularly those who live in the restaurant-and-bar hub that is Poblacion, stage a parade commemorating Lent.

They hold a grand procession every Holy Wednesday (closed roads, of course) and put up booths with life-size depictions of The Passion of Christ. Another plus: some establishments stay open even during Holy Week!

Places to see: Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (one of the oldest churches in the country), Circuit Makati (but hold off on that after Holy Wednesday), art galleries in Poblacion
Things to do: staycation at one of the many hotels in the area, food trip, pub crawl

Philippine Travel Trends for 2019

Philippine Travel Trends for 2019

It’s 2019, and we’ve got a bit of juicy travel bits for year straight from people who have been in the travel industry for several decadesthe Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA)that might just surprise you.

Travel, now a way of life

You might just see more people visiting Batanes. Photo by Ferdz Decena

Or for most people, it will be. PTAA president Marlene Dado Jante sees more people embracing travel as a way of life rather than a luxury, thanks in large part to how affordable trips are becoming and how accessible information have become.

“Travel expos are the best place not only to get the most affordable deals out there, but also to know more about a destination.” Her tip: talk to travel agencies who frequent travel expos. Chances are they’ll [the exhibitors] know more about a destination and can explain it to you in 20 minutes better than you can do with online research

DIY is still a thing

DIY trips are also becoming more and more popular, with blogs, vlogs, and books (e and tangible) that let you do your trip your way. Couple that with hostels and Airbnbs and you have a recipe that supports traveling as a way of life.

Vlogs, in particular, are perfect sources of itineraries, travel budgets, and travel hacks that equip anyone to travel. A simple search on YouTube and you’ll find budget itineraries complete with the actual experience you’ll get from people like Christian LeBlanc (Lost LeBlanc), Patrice Averilla (Avelovinit), and a lot more.

Sustainability is the way to go

Locals and adoptive locals like Luke Landrigan are all out in promoting sustainability and care for their beloved Siargao Island. By Daniel Soriano

Rehab is apparently a new buzzword for the local tourism industry. It’s only been months since the island of Boracay was opened. El Nido is already being worked on, and everyone from your mother to that nosy neighbor you sometimes talk to is talking about how clean the shoreline of Manila Bay has become.

From speaking with Marlene, you can tell there’s good that’s going to come out of all the rehabilitation going on, but she wants to go further than simply sprucing up our best destinations. “Rehab is good and all, but what we really need is for both the locals and the tourists to be more responsible in looking out [after the tourist destinations]. This will lead to destinations being more sustainable.”

Camping and Glamping

Camping at FarmPlate in Albay will also let you have a bit of farm life with their activities in store for guests like carabao riding and vegetable picking. By Monica De Leon

Camping is, well, camping. You get a sleeping bag or a tent, bring your own food, and find a place to sleep. It’s very sustainable albeit tough because you need to find a place where it’s okay to do that.

Glamping, on the other hand, is camping leveled up. It’s like staying in a hotel, but you’re in a tent. You’re outside and “exposed to the elements” but with all the creature comforts: a comfy bed, cooked food, “indoor” plumbing, and the like.

Crystal Beach in Zambales offers camping and glamping; Pass Island in Coron offers camping; Tagaytay has a number of hotels offering glamping.

Farm Tourism is a thing

There’s one type of tourism that’s been popping up since 2016, yet no one seems to be taking a hint: farm tourism.

You don’t (technically) even have to fly! Here’s a farm you can visit in Albay: Farm Plate. By Monica De Leon

It’s young, but it’s not that difficult to understand. What you do is you visit a farm, you learn what it’s about, what the farmers do, and what-not. It’s a great way of promoting what has sustained our country prior to the many warsa way for us to go back to our roots. The souvenirs at the end aren’t half bad, and they let you buy their goods at affordable prices.

Check out FarmPlate if you’re planning for a farm tour. For info, click here.

Pilgrimage

The Philippines is home to incredible-looking churches including this one in Batanes. By Monica De Leon

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic ergo its handful of centuries-old churches, basilicas, and cathedrals that have stood the test of time both in the big city and distant islands. This fact brings about tons of people poking interest in the Philippines as a pilgrimage site. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that travel agencies often include trips to churches.

Words by Andrew Del Rosario

5 places in Manila to ‘brighten up’ your sunset game in IG

5 places in Manila to ‘brighten up’ your sunset game in IG

You don’t need to leave Manila to add reds, tangerines, yellows, or even salmon in your Instagram feed. We’ve headed for that best-sunsets-in-Manila hunt just for you.

Spending one late afternoon in Manila Manila Bay got us thinking: ‘are there other places in the Metro where you can see the kind of a sunset you get from here?’ The first thing that popped into our heads was on the rooftop of Makati’s skyscrapers but they’re not exactly open-access.

Today, we list down five places in Metro Manila where you can capture a sunset as stunning as Manila Bay’s without the need to worry about being caught for trespassing.

An all-too-common photo since that weekend rehab: a sunset shot of Manila Bay, either from the bay walk or at the SM Mall of Asia

Sofitel’s Sunset Bar, Pasay City

It’s exactly the same body of water as the one along Roxas Boulevard, but there’s a bit of a twist. Visit Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Sunset Bar just before sundown and you’ll enjoy a clearer view of the world-class Manila Bay sunset by the pool and a glass of margarita in hand.

Make your sunset extra special and drop by on a Friday or Saturday night when the hotel offer their famous grilled barbecue specialties on the menu definitely worth the traffic you’ll possibly encounter along the way.

CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd, Pasay City
Sofitelmanila.com/restaurants-bars/sunset-bar/

University of the Philippines, Diliman

Feb20: Lovers in the light
If you’re there on a weekend, you might just catch people playing ultimate Frisbee. Photo by Daniel Ansel Tingcungco from Flickr

The University of the Philippines’ main campus in Diliman, Quezon City isn’t only home to some of the country’s brightest minds. It’s also home to places that you can take stunning photos of things like The Oblation or the Sunken Garden.

Good olOble is a bit shy since he faces away from the sunset, but get it right and you’ll have a non-risque silhouette. The Sunken Garden is an open field in the middle of the campus with benches at road level and people scurrying about in the middle of the field. Point your camera towards the sun and you’ll get a shot of both the field, the UP Main Library, and the mini forest that act as shade for the weary.

University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

Libingan ng mga Bayani, Taguig City

This one is a bit eerie, but it’s worth the trip. The Libingan ng mga Bayani or Heroes’ Cemetery in Taguig is home to row upon row of crosses marking the graves of those who have served the country.

You won’t just see a sunset that’s both eerie and serene thanks to the white crosses; you’ll also come across graves of some of the most notable names in Philippine History, including National Artists and former Presidents.

Bayani Road, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

Hole in the Wall, Century City Mall, Makati City

Couldn’t catch those wonderful reds and oranges, but sunset shots here are always a treat. Photo by Andronico Del Rosario

Yes, there are a lot of places in Makati for you to catch a beautiful sunset. It’s full of skyscrapers, after all. But not all are accessible to anyone out to see a sunset on a whim. Good thing there are places in Makati like Hole in the Wall at Century City Mall.

It’s an easy enough “climb” to the top (Century City only has four floors, and it’s on the fourth floor). The way Hole in the Wall is designed makes it easy to look out onto the citya perfect backdrop without the risk of being sent to the police station.

4/F, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City
FB:
@HoleintheWallPH

Antipolo City

Okay, this one’s admittedly a bit of a cheat, but Antipolo, Rizal is only one ride away from Metro Manila. That’s the same amount of time it will take you to move from one city of Metro Manila to another in today’s world of traffic congestion.

Being on top of a plateau, it’s easy to get a sunset shot of most of Ortigas, especially from places like Cloud 9 or any of the restaurants on its side of Sumulong Highway.

Sumulong Highway, Antipolo, Rizal

5 celebrated Pinoy desserts

5 celebrated Pinoy desserts

Our friends from Let’s Eat Pare tell us the all time fave sweets Filipinos love to serve in any given holiday.

Ube Halaya

Ube Halaya or purple yam to the rest of the world. It’s something the world just discovered yet we’ve been snacking on it for decades. Photo by Mon David Pakingan

The world is at least a century late on having discovered the wonderful flavor of the humble purple yam or ube. It’s sweet; has a bit of a gritty texture (in a good way); and goes well with virtually any dessert, especially with the next item on this list.

To enjoy this delicious treat, it’s best served on a plate drizzled with either condensed milk, coconut milk with a bit of sugar, or cheese.

Halo halo

The king of all Pinoy desserts, the halo-halo. By Jocas See

Widely considered the quintessential Filipino dessert because it has it all. It’s like the Japanese shaved ice dessert kakigori but with more to it than ice. You’ve got beans of nearly every size and shape, green and red gelatin (or really any color you want), strips of macapuno, jackfruit, or maybe some bananas. Some throw in corn kernels to the mix. Have it topped with some ube, a scoop of ice cream, and the next item on this list.

Leche Flan

A new twist to the leche flan: a LeCheesecake. It’s a (mini) cheesecake with leche flan on top. Photo by Niki Alfaro

A staple in every Filipino celebration that involves food, the leche flan looks like a simple custard but it’s more than that. It has that distinct combination of sweet and creamy, making it an ultra sinful, hard-to-resist dessert. Its many forms include the LeCheesecake from Nikita’s Pastries.

Buko Pandan

Two things combine in this ridiculously simple (yet delicious) dessert: glistening green pandan-flavored gelatin and the ever-refreshing and popular strips of coconut. Take these two and combine them with all-purpose cream and sweetened milk and you have yourself something that is a sure hit at any party table.

Tibok tibok

A dessert hailing from Philippine gastronomy capital, Pampanga in the North, that has graced many holiday buffet tables in Central Luzon and Metro Manila. The taste is akin to a spoonful of the widely-known maja blanca—soft, delicate, almost melt-in-your-mouth—but this one is a tad bit salty, thanks to the use of carabao’s milk.

Words by Andronico Del Rosario, with information from members of Let’s Eat Pare®

10 nightspots to be spotted in in the Metro

10 nightspots to be spotted in in the Metro

From grungy dive bars to secret speakeasies, to a flamboyant nightspot especially made for the LGBT community—not that it’s not open to all—here’s the it list for Manila’s party-loving species

Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen

It’s a bar that will definitely take you to places you didn’t think you’d go.

With Agimat’s dim, forest-inspired interiors, delicious food, and creative cocktails, you’ll be transported to a mythical place every time you go. Their menu is seasonal and highlights
a certain part of the Philippines each time. Every item on their menu is carefully plated and presented, and comes with a unique story. To make your visit extra memorable, order the Ritwal ng Agimat cocktail, which is served with a special method of pouring the liquor.
Average cost per person: Php500 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/Agimatbar

Today x Future

Located in Cubao, this bar would be hard to miss if not for the crowds of people that pool by its nondescript entrance at peak hours. The bar’s not big, and its interiors have an unpolished quality about them, but that’s only part of its charm. With music that ranges from 90s to dance pop, this is one bar where the dance floor will be hard to resist.
Average cost per person: Php300 for drinks; Facebook.com/todayxfuture

Nectar

This nightclub in BGC has become a safe haven for Metro Manila’s LGBT community—though anyone can come. With high ceilings, delicious cocktails, and great music, anyone
can have a fun time here. If you can, head there on the last Wednesday of the month, which is when Nectar hosts a drag competition called the Drag Cartel, with drag performers
battling it out with lip-synch performances of popular songs.
Average cost per person: Php500 for drinks; Facebook.com/nectarofmanila

Lan Kwai Speakeasy

Inspired by Hong Kong nightlife, Lan Kwai Speakeasy is hidden behind a Chinese restaurant. The bar itself is like a Wong Kar Wai film come to life, with red neon lights and murals. The
Hong Kong inspiration goes all the way to the cocktails, many of which are colorful creations by mixologist Carlos Munarriz. Try the Designated Survivor, a refreshing, citrusy cocktail
that’s served in a fishbowl and comes with an extra shot, perfect for sharing.
Average cost per person: Php500 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/lankwaispeakeasy

Nokal

Craft beer, cocktails, classic bar chow, and an overall energetic vibe are what make NoKal a must in the Poblacion nightlife tour. With three levels offering something different, NoKal caters to any kind of night-out mood. If you’re up for some comfort food, you can stay on the first floor; and if you’re ready to dance, mingle, and party, you can head up to the second level. If it’s a chill drinking session you’re looking for, go to the breezy rooftop beer garden
where you can knock back some craft beers over good conversation.
Average cost per person: Php400 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/nokal.mnl

Coconut Club

It would have been a seaside bar if BGC had a beach.

The Piña col piña.

With the Coconut Club’s tropical interiors and a bit of imagination, you can easily pretend that the ocean is right outside the bar’s door. The bar serves up fruity cocktails to go with the
tropical theme like the Mai Tais and Piña Coladas with the Coconut Club twist. Even better are the liquor-laced slushies at only Php120. Head there from 2pm to 7pm to catch their Happy Hour, where the slushies are available for only Php95.
Average cost per person: Php300 for drinks; Facebook.com/raintreecoconutclubph

78-53-86

This secret vinyl bar in White Plains, Katipunan is meant for sitting down and listening to only the owner’s massive vinyl collection. The owner curates playlists with his vinyls everyday, so you can count on discovering a lot of new (old) music. It’s the perfect place to go to if you simply want to enjoy your alone time. The bar doesn’t serve food, though they do serve truffle popcorn.
Php300 for drinks; Facebook. com/785386whiteplainswest

Route 196

Route 196 is the ultimate go-to if you want to sample the sounds of some of the best local artists in the industry today, from the underground independent musicians, to the more
established ones. With live music and affordable drinks, this is one place where you can kick back, drink in your surroundings—and perhaps befriend fellow music-lovers.
Average cost per person: Php400 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/Route196Rocks

YOI

This bar is a new addition to the famous Poblacion nightlife district. By day, it’s a restaurant where you can sample an interesting fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian food, but by night it turns into a slick bar that serves Suntory and all kinds of sake. If you really love your sake, they serve unli-sake for Php700/head every Tuesday and Wednesday nights—but another great time to go there would be on a Friday, when local indie artists have live performances.
Average cost per person: Php500 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/yoipblcn

20:20

With flickering lights, a high ceiling, and wall to wall windows, this bar on Chino Roces in Makati is inviting from the start. Once you settle in, you’ll be drawn to their food, interesting drinks, the relaxed and intimate atmosphere, and of course, the music (sometimes it’s an indie band, other times, it’s an underground DJ). Their menu is mostly comfort food with a gourmet twist, filling bar chow that will help you keep drinking all those cocktails throughout the night. Their Pork Belly Tacos in particular, are a must try, and go well with pretty much any of the bar’s signature drinks. A bonus: right next to the bar is a spot where you can head to when you’re done chilling and find yourself in the mood to bust a move to some serious techno.
Average cost per person: Php1,000 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/2020bar

Dash insiders
Who is Tabitha Rice?

Tabitha is a bartender, occasional club promoter, and model.

Who is Joshua Gonzales?
Joshua is an art director at a top ad agency by day, and occasionally DJs in several party hotspots.

Who is Andrew Florentino?
Andrew Florentino, also known by his stage name The Bgnr, is a music producer and songwriter who has performed in various venues all over Metro Manila

Words by Amelie Llaga

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