August 29, 2013

Museo Pambata: Children’s Playground

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. So today I decided to be a kid again and visit the place I should have been when I was still in kindergarten or elementary – the Museo Pambata.
Opened in 1994, the museum is located in the former Manila Elks Club building, built in 1911, along Roxas Boulevard corner Katigbak Drive. It was founded by Estefania Aldaba-Lim and Nina Lim-Yuson who envisioned an alternative learning for children, specially for those who have no access to formal education. Unlike traditional  and conventional museums where natural, artistic, historical, and scientific objects and artifacts are displayed behind glass shelves only to be admired but not touched, Museo features hands-on exhibits that encourage children to explore, get a little wild and discover various concepts, facts and trivia while they play.
Nakakatuwa lang kasi, I no longer have strict parents to watch over and restrain me ano man ang gusto kong gawin hehe.

White Huey helicopter
Believe that even a butanding could fly

There’s always a fire within me
A Spanish galleon replica
The Filipino Heroes’ Hall
A hero could be a child intent on making the world a better place
Binondo church scale model

Tranvia was one of the means of transportation during early American period

Glowing jellyfishes

He who plants a tree, plants hope

Health is a relationship between you and your body

Be your own Captain Planet – protect and save the environment
Miss Big Mouth can swallow the truth and me whole
Even though reality is always catching up with me,  I won’t let it take away my inner child.

August 27, 2013

Poco Deli: Your Little Neighborhood Delicatessen

Philippines is in chaos after the pork barrel scandal. So better keep calm and eat sausage.

Kielbasa and cheese krainer sausages

Spanish sardines pasta

Angus beef tapa
No bacon slabs available for that day perhaps in protest against unscrupulous use by some of our congressmens’ PDAF. It’s really hard to find true love in the time of pork barrel.
Poco Deli
#21 East Capitol Drive
Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Tel. No.: 477-4332

August 25, 2013


I’ve seen better days but I’ve also seen worse. The worst thing that could ever happen to you while you’re on a trip is when it rain non-stop. I mean who would want to venture out on a bed weather?

This time, even Habagat did not spare the quaint little town of Mayoyao in Ifugao, famous for its stone-walled rice terraces with the backdrop of picturesque green-lush mountains.

But then who am I to complain especially when I’m seeing the whole town enveloped in mist as if it were heaven.

August 19, 2013

Into the Wilderness: Paracelis, Natonin, Barlig

“Taking time to live life will only inspire your work.” 
- Anonymous

I got the hardship post for our annual community education program on migration for this year – the Cordillera Region. It’s a one-week seminar where we visit local communities to educate them about the programs and services of our office and Filipino migration in general.

Though I have been to Mountain Province before, it was my first time to set foot on its eastern side where the contiguous municipalities of Paracelis, Natonin and Barlig could be found. These areas which could be reached via jeepney or mini bus from Bontoc or Santiago, are often overlooked by tourists who usually go to Sagada.

Despite being dubbed as the less traveled or neglected part of Mountain Province due to its mostly unpaved road, I found myself enjoying its panoramic sceneries - rugged, raw beauty of mountains, pine trees, and rice terraces.

Natonin Rice Terraces

The honeymooners off to their fertility hut

Pastoral life in Paracelis

Military outpost in Natonin

A mini waterfall in Natonin

Barlig Rice Terraces

At kahit muntik na kami ma-trap sa Natonin due to landslide, sa totoo lang we wouldn’t mind. It’s nice to get away from civilization once in a while.

August 5, 2013

CASA San Miguel: The Opus of Coke Bolipata

"Then I will cut out my heart and pass it on."
- Coke Bolipata

At some point, I dreamt of playing Bach’s Minuet 1-3. But it was just a passing fancy when I realized I could never be as good as Coke Bolipata. Just by the strokes of his hand, he’s got that absolute power to control the listeners’ emotions. I just recently watched his first heartwarming indie-movie “Boses” and fell in love right away with his endearing and soulful rendition of Mozart, Vivaldi and Rossini played all throughout the film.

I’m a silent fan of Coke. Who wouldn’t? He’s a world renowned violinist, a Julliard alumna, and when I listen to him play “Sana’y Wala nang Wakas”, I feel ambivalent – happy and sad at the same time. So much of my adoration for his music that I travelled all the way to CASA San Miguel in his hometown, where the movie was partly inspired. And hearing the ballad of CASA indeed made a good prelude to my watching “Boses”.

Nestled between the lovely mountains and raging sea of San Antonio, Zambales, CASA (which stands for Center of the Arts in San Antonio) is a picturesque countryside brick and wood chateau, set amidst a lush mango orchard. It is the ancestral house of the Bolipata clan established in 1921, and was opened by Coke as a school and foundation for the local community, right after finishing his studies abroad in 1993. It was his way of giving back to the community, which was greatly devastated when Mt. Pinatubo erupted. The main house exudes a homey, artistic appeal for musicians, artists and art lovers.

The vibrant mural mosaic entrance of CASA

Ramon L. Corpus Concert Hall
named after Coke’s grandfather, also a celebrated concert violinist

A child mentor violinist

CASA supports financially deprived children who have talent in classical music, theater, and visual arts. During weekends and summer, one could see happy and talented children playing the violin under canopy of trees. The best and exceptional young homegrown musicians become part of the Pundaquit Virtuosi, a chamber ensemble composed of scholars of CASA. Julian Duque, the child lead of “Boses” and a musical prodigy, was in fact a member of the group.

Through the years, the CASA has evolved and continue to expand. In 2013, the Museum of Community Heritage was opened to showcase the rich history and natural treasures of Zambales.

Mini-library and colorful hanging mobile sculptures

Inside the bamboos are mini photos about the history of indigenous Aetas

Fishes and corals from Zambales are on display in the saltwater aquarium

CASA also has a cozy bed and breakfast which has become a steady source of income of the foundation to fund their projects. Spending a night surely does a lot to rejuvenate and inspire.

Behind the stone fountain are the room accommodations

A lady sculpture on the ground

Magsaysay Room

All-day dining Backstage Café is the perfect spot to chill out, savor delicious comfort food, and listen to Coke’s soothing music, which I swear I could listen to over and over again.

With the lantern lit patio, the café looks at its best during night time

Wonderful mural of violinists inside the café

Tuyo pasta

Molten lava chocolate cake - it was love at first bite

The sister of Coke, installation artist Plet Bolipata and her visual artist husband Elmer Borlongan, established the charming and whimsical Pasilyo, a country living store and home of the artists within the premises of CASA. Their garden comes alive with all the creative and playful artworks of Plet.

A red car swing

White cats on the tree

Seahorse mosaic sculpture

San Miguel Beach is just less than 10 minute-walk away from CASA. Though sometimes, I miss rubbing rosin in my bowstring, I guess I’m better off running to the sea, taking off my slippers, and braving the waves ahead.

The closest I could get in exciting standing waves on a violin string

I’ve already long accepted that some of my dreams are just not meant to be. But I’m glad Coke built a happy place for children to dream.

CASA San Miguel
Evagelista St., Brgy. San Miguel
San Antonio, Zambales
Tel. No.: 0915-6220335