Simala Church

On the way back home from Oslob, we stopped by Simala Church to light candles. I was told it was designed by one of the local nuns. I’ve not seen a church like it before- it’s so big and sprawling and it’s not even finished yet.

I also bought a Santo Nino statue for my mom.

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

 

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

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Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

 

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

Simala Church, Barangay Sibonga

 

The Whale Sharks of Oslob

Whale sharks are considered a threatened species, and it turns out one of the largest populations of Whale Sharks in the world are in the Philippines – with Oslob in Cebu being one of the most famous swim sites. We had to leave the house really early (which was a feat in a large group and Oslob some 3 hours away), as visitors to the Whale Sharks are controlled by the local government; and all the watching and swimming had to cease by midday.

This was at the briefing, before going in:

The Whales Sharks of Oslob

The Whales Sharks of Oslob

 

Hopping on to the motorless bangka (traditional wooden boat):

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

Whales Sharks of Oslob

There’s some protocol.  You’re not allowed to put sunscreen on for example (you can wash it off before going in), which is partly why Craig and I decided to stay on the boat (we had put some on at home), while the rest of our group dived in. We had an underwater camera with us however, which we dangled beneath the surface from the side of the boat.

There are also Marine Biologists on site and small local boats without rotary motors are used (to prevent accidental harm).

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The local name for Whale Sharks is “Butanding”.

x

#EarlMia2014

One of the main reasons for our trip to the Philippines was to attend the wedding of my cousin Earl and his fiancee Mia, especially as my mother was too ill to attend the wedding at the time. We arrived in Cebu from Palawan at lunch time on September 24, with just enough time to drop off our bags and freshen-up for the Soltera that night.

 The wedding, attended by some 420+ guests a few days later on September 27, was an opulent affair designed/organised by Earl’s eldest sister Abigail (who we affectionately call BomBom).

Congratulations to the happy couple! x

Out about before the big night at Pino Restaurant

Not the Soltera – out about before the big night at Pino Restaurant

 

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#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

My glamorous cousin BomBom, informal wedding planner & stylist extraordinaire

The very glamorous BomBom, informal wedding planner & stylist extraordinaire

Earl & Mia  from A City Without Art on Vimeo.

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014 – Chanel w/ her children

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

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#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014

#EarlMia2014 – the brains behind it all 🙂

Palawan Day #5

Day 5: Baywalk Breakfast

Flying to Cebu in a few hours…. One last look.

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Baywalk

 

Breakfast

Breakfast & backpack 🙂

Breakfast

Ube addict!

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Colour-coordinated food & nails! 🙂

Bye Baywalk! Bye Palawan!

Bye Baywalk! Bye Palawan!

Day #4 Palawan: Bakers Hill

Freshly baked goodies are the main attraction in Baker’s Hill. The Ube (Taro) Bread & Hopia were especially addictive & was our favourites. The owner instead of just opening a bakery though, turned the place into a small private (but free) fun park. Aside from the fun park, there’s a reptile park where patrons can pet and have photographs taken with large geckos.There’s also a restaurant, which was where we ate our last meal in Palawan and where we, with some egging on from my grandma, tried the local delicacy called Tamilok. It’s a kind of wood worm and she said it was harvested fresh by the restaurant . It’s served raw cured in vinegar and various spices. Like many exotic dishes, Tamilok is an acquired taste I think… I recommend swallow over chew…Hehe 🙂

Baker's Hill

Baker’s Hill

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Theme Park – Shrek makes an appearance

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Garden

Garden

Garden

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Garden

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LOVE

 

x

Palawan Day #3: CBD + Ugong Rock

Day 3: CBD + Spelunking at Ugong Rock 

Palawan is still a very quiet port city and we love it because of that. This is the main street in the CBD, with the most popular form of transport being a tricycle.

Main street of Puerto Princesa CBD

Main street of Puerto Princesa CBD – from the top of Harbor Light building.

Houses that my grandmother builds and sells in Puerto Princesa - iif anyone is interested in a holiday house at one of the most beautiful islands in the world, let me know!

Houses that my grandmother builds and sells in Puerto Princesa – if anyone is interested in a holiday house, please message me.

Sari Sari Store

Sari Sari Store

Bulols & other wooden carvings

Wooden carvings

Local store

Local store

Tried spelunking and zip line for the very first time. In rubber thongs no less! A bit scary. The guide made us do a prayer for safety before starting out the cave climb as well.

Free play :)

Free play 🙂

Hard hat safety :)

Hard hat safety 🙂

Zipline

Zipline

Frente! shirt spelungked for the first time :)

Frente! shirt spelungked for the first time 🙂

Matamang Salamat Po!

Matamang Salamat Po!

Palawan Day #2

Day 2: Sabang Island and the Subterranean River

A beautiful boat ride to Sabang. Feels quite isolated to get there, but is actually a reasonably popular place to visit.

On the way to Sabang Island

On the way to Sabang Island – with our bangka boat driver

On the way to the Subterranean RIver

On the way to the Subterranean River – a stunning boat ride.

After being dropped off the island we had to walk through a jungle trail populated by wild monkeys & geckos. The guide told us to make sure we had no food item before going through the jungle because the monkeys are sometimes hungry. I had woken up really early that day to get started for the trip to Sabang and had wrapped my half eaten Pan De Sal (local bread roll) in toilet paper (as you do) and placed it in my bag for later. I had forgotten all about it of course by the time we got to Sabang and proceeded down the jungle trail, when within a few minutes a wild monkey had grabbed my bag, unzipped it and taken the bread roll out. I was scared from the unexpected experience of having to wrestle my bag from a monkey and Craig had tried to shoo it away. It bared it teeth at him, made an awful sound and ran away with his loot. He was harmless really and was just focused on getting my/his breakfast.

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After hopping off our bangka (boat ride) to Sabang Island) w/ one of my maternal grandmothers 🙂

Vanishing Biodeversity Sign at the start of the Jungle Trail

Vanishing Biodeversity Sign at the start of the Jungle Trail

Hungry Monkeys

Hungry Monkeys

The river that is open to the public is about 1.5 kiloetres long, which we paddled through in the dark with the use of strong flashlights/floodlights. But the actual river itself goes even longer underground the mountain/cave – some 8 kiloetres long, and unsafe for people to go to. There were constant drips of water which the guide told us were bat droppings. We saw, heard and smelt the bats constantly – which wasn’t really terrible because it was more of a faint scent rather than something putrid. At the highest point the ceiling of the cave looked like looking up a cathedral ceiling. Artists in the past used to talk about the sublime, when faced by something extraordinary that leaves them in awe. We felt a bit like that.

Inside the subterranean river.

Inside the subterranean river – using a strong torch to guide us slowly through. Felt a bit like Invaders of the Lost Ark 🙂

Bye! :(

Bye! 🙁

Tourism is carefully monitored in Palawan & eco everything is taken very seriously. The tourguides at the river itself are very well trained and are also members of the local tribe from the area. Would recommend this place to visit for Filipinos and foreigners alike.

The Underground River Palawan is a UNESCO & World Heritage Site and considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world.

Picture Perfect Palawan

Day 1: Island Hopping

We finally made it to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. One of my maternal grandmothers live there with her husband and their young children – so we were very lucky, as we had a very knowledgeable local to show us around 🙂

In front of lola's grotto

In front of lola’s grotto

They take eco-tourism very seriously in Palawan, so there are lots of bicycles and pedicab bikes available for hire. This is at the Baywalk.  It’s a bit like an Ai Wei Wei installation… 🙂

At the Baywalk in Puerto Princesa

At the Baywalk in Puerto Princesa

Island hopping - on the way to Cowrie Island

Island hopping – on the way to Pambato Reef and Cowrie Island

Almost there... :)

Almost there… 🙂

Lola brought some snacks - Boiled Camote & Saba Bananas

Lola brought some snacks – Boiled Camote & Saba Bananas

Relaxing under Coconut Trees

Relaxing under Coconut Trees

Eat all you can seafood buffet for $A 5

Eat all you can seafood buffet for $A 5.00

Young Coconut

Young Coconut

Happy Suki

Happy Suki

Manila Manila – Postcard from Vienna

We’re only here 4 days but what can we say, Manila is full on. Here is the view from our balcony from WakWak in Greenhills. Not many hills and only a little green…

 

The view from our balcony in WakWak

The view from our balcony in WakWak

Except for the exclusive golf course to the right for the lucky few. Everywhere else, as far as the eye can see, are built-up.

Wack Wack Greenhills in Manila. Thank you to Dominic Hing & Maan Ngo for looking after us.

Wack Wack Greenhills in Manila. Thank you to Dominic Hing & Maan Ngo-Hing for looking after us.

Craig (my partner) wanted to see something historical and somehow came across a walking tour online called “Walk this Way“. It was being run by an artist called Carlos Celdran at Fort Santiago in Old Manila.  I didn’t really know what to expect, as I didn’t know the artist (only what Craig and I read together online); nor much about Fort Santiago- despite the fact that my father’s family used to live in  and had businesses (which all had fallen into disrepair and sold over the decades) in a nearby place called Ermita (some 2 kms away). So being the clueless Filipino coupled to the even more clueless foreigner, I tagged along.

It was a very powerful show, despite the simple production values (one man with a few props)  and we learnt something about Philippine history too. I’d say this tour is definitely a better way to see Manila, and worth the effort to go to, even if you are short on time. It gave humanity and context to what seemed like a chaotic city on steroids.

The Crowd at Walk this Way

The crowd at Walk this Way

Walk this Way Walking Tour by artist Carlos Celdran

Walk this Way Walking Tour by artist Carlos Celdran

 

 

Signage at Fort Santiago, Old Manila

Signage at Fort Santiago, Old Manila

Part of the show was a ride on a Kalesa (a horse drawn carriage) through Old Manila, with the Kalesa driver (in costume) acting as a guide as well. It was a really fun way  to get around – to be out in the fresh air, with the feint scent of the horses and hearing the musical clip-clopping of their shoes. I’m not really sure if I’ve ridden in one before or not. My mom told me in passing once, that my maternal great great grand-father composed a song about Kalesas before I was born (I never had a chance to meet him). So I’ve always had a soft spot for one because of that. Also I was born in the Year of the Horse 🙂

 

Behind Our Kalesa Driver

Behind Our Kalesa Driver

Clip-Clop Clip-Clop....

Clip-Clop Clip-Clop….

Happy horsies

Happy horsies

Sylvia La Torre, a famous Filipino singer, singing “Kalesa”

Underneath the Jose Rizal monument, the Philippine's national hero.

Underneath the Jose Rizal monument. Jose Rizal is the Philippine’s national hero.

 

Not much of a holiday yet, but very stimulating all the same.

Thank you Manila! x Vienna