Sunday, September 30, 2012

Baslay Hot Spring in Dauin, Negros Oriental

my life in  Oriental Negros series

Cloud-filtered sunlight earlier with a little bit of rain. Not bad for a road trip down south of Negros Island.

390 something concrete steps make the walk downhill easy. the way back is one cardio exercise!

I'm a sucker for natural hot springs so when I heard there's an accessible one with a 38 to 40 degree water temperature (hot enough to scald the skin!) at the foot of an ancient volcano, I got curious and wasted no time in looking for it.

Getting information about Baslay Hot Spring in the fringes of Cuernos de Negros Mountains was already half the adventure! I did my homework (online) on whether or not it has been reopened, the fees and how to get there. As it turned out, many information were old and unreliable since these were written before typhoon Sendong wiped out the facilities in December of last year. Must be closed. I went anyway.

It was deserted but not closed. I was the only guest that day. Perfect for skinny dipping which I did!

The junction to Baslay from the National Road is hard to miss. It's on the right side if you are coming from Poblacion, Dauin. Just before Jagoba-ac Bridge in Masaplod Norte. From there, it's a 7 kilometer uphill drive on a rough road with portions, about 40 percent, which are cemented.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

of comfort food and espresso in a place called Qyosko

my life in Valencia (and Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros) series

I sleep late these days and each time my stomach rumbles at the strike of midnight, I speed off downtown. I used to drive to the city center for an oily goodness of a golden arch or red bee burger and fries where they are available 24/7.

these chairs remind me of the 80s

Now that Joe Black (that's what I call my new Kawasaki motorcycle) has been around since last week, I've been doing a bit of spin downtown  after a cup of hot choco until this 24-hour local joint called Qyosko rediscovered me!

sinfully delicious blueberry cheesecake. just the way I want it.

I remember this place. Two years ago, in the small hours, it was noisy and aliwarus with groups of tipsy college students circling a table with steaming bowls of noodles (perhaps after downing one case of beer).  But tonight, it is relatively quiet with only one table occupied. Must be exams week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Philippine Airlines (PAL) domestic route effective October 28, 2012 retains flights to major cities only

The news that PAL will cease operations in Dumaguete is going to be a headache for my team. Every year, in the months of January, August, September and December, my school fly in an average of 250 students from South Korea. If you do the math, any travel agency would love to put their feet in our door.

The connecting flight Incheon-Manila-Dumaguete and vice versa with a check-through baggage system in place (meaning they can just check-in their baggage in Incheon and simply claim it in Dumaguete and vice-versa), makes flight transfers convenient.

Though PAL Express (Airphil) will take its place, I can just imagine the hassle of airport transfers from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 with 30 students to herd in any given group. Add to that baggage transfers and you have teachers at the edge of their sanity. Crossing my fingers PAL will provide an efficient transfer, retain check-thru or simply move PAL Express operations to T2. #wishful thinking.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

when the going gets tough, the tough gets to pig out (at Neva's pizza, pasta atbp!)

my life in Valencia (and Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros) series

Tough week at work! My team tried to control the "fire" by taking time off  and did yoga at the dance hall. We were off to a good start when the inevitable happened. To cut the story short, we drove downtown to do man vs. food!

the traditional wood-fired brick oven at Neva's Pizza

Everyone agreed to have Neva's House Specialty (Php228 plus Php10 for extra olive oil). It's an 11 inch pizza baked in the traditional wood-fired brick oven with a long list of toppings: pineapple, bell pepper, pepperoni, beef, mushroom, olives and mozzarella cheese. The hint of wood in the pizza made it a foodie's delight!

the hint of wood in the pizza sealed the deal for Neva's to stay at the top my dirt-priced food porn list!

My preference for pizza is something very close to le quattro stagioni or four seasons  thin-crust with heaps of olives and olive oil which is only available (as far as I know) at Idea Italia-La Tegola in Cebu. It has ham, antichokes, mushrooms and olives. Yum!

Monday, September 17, 2012

World Fitness Gym in Dumaguete City

my life in Valencia (and Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros) series

When I settled here four years ago, I was hoping I could find a gym that had the same gold standard in fitness training when I was in Cebu.

There was news that Clark Hatch Gym would soon open in Robinson's Place Dumaguete. That kept me excited for a while. As it turned out, it was just hearsay. 

It was frustrating to look around for a decent fitness gym. Until I stumbled upon the gym beside Lee Plaza. Not really close to what I have in mind, but okay ra. The area was cramped and the "please bring a separate shoes for gym" restriction was irrelevant. Left with no choice, I worked out there for some time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mifune Japanese Restaurant in Dumaguete

 my life in Valencia (and Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros) series

It's a Japanese Restaurant, alright.

But no kimono-clad women to greet you, no seiza-style seating. Instead, rows of tables with monobloc chairs, an open kitchen and waitstaff in red polo shirts will welcome you. 

It's more of a carenderia ambiance and I immediately like it (probably the reason why it's called Mifune Bar and Food instead of "restaurant")! No pretensions, no elaborate rituals. Just good food and pleasant company. One of the reasons why I heart Dumaguete!

Monday, September 10, 2012

59 places to stay in Bacolod

Life is good (and sweet, too) in Bacolod!

the sweet life | El Ideal Bakeshop in Silay City (11 km. from Bacolod City)

MassKara week is getting nearer and booking a decent place to stay is a major headache if done this late. I pushed my luck and thanks heavens, I scored a room somewhere in downtown. Here is an extensive guide on where to stay in the city of smiles!  Best of luck!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bouchon Restaurant in Valencia, Oriental Negros

my life in Valencia (and Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros) series

I got restless. With no place to go, I plopped myself on bed. But faster than I could say French dessert, Bouchon (pronounced boo-shawn) Restaurant came to mind!

This new French restaurant in Valencia is located very close by, just along the road to Forest Camp. I grabbed the camera and hied off to the restaurant.

To my surprise, the guard on duty remembered me as the guy who drove two clueless guests last Monday. But as luck would not have it, my guests and I didn't have our desserts as it was closed!

annual Cuernos de Negros: Mt. Talinis climb scheduled in September

Fellow outdoor lovers:

my first Mt. Talinis climb a couple of years ago

Cuernos de Negros Mountaineers Club, Inc. (CNMCI), a campus-based organization in Silliman University committed towards the protection, conservation and preservation of the environment through advocacy, initiative, and responsible mountaineering announces its 2012 Annual Trek to Mount Talinis. 

Here are the details I got from the organizers:
Date: September 21-23, 2012
Theme: “Talinis: Between Earth and Sky, a mountain rehabilitation trek”.   

Fastfacts: This 3-day 2-night climb aims to help Mt. Talinis in its struggle from the abuses of its people.  We do this by trees and carrying out a mountain clean-up drive (along the trail and campsites) from the inhabited areas and way up to the peaks of Mt. Talinis.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

moving to a new crib on a blue moon

*life in Dumaguete (and Valencia, Oriental Negros) series 

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic which means the art of finding beauty in imperfection. I add "wasabi" to it by breathing new life to an otherwise junk stuff here at the campus.

I've been moving rooms here countless times! This time, it looks long term (say 2.5 years? haha) at the renovated Teachers' Cottage. After my domestic travel for 6 months, I am flat broke so I can only cough up for an Ikea table lamp on sale and a P99.00 Chinese lantern for an added kawawa effect. Everything else, I drag from the stock room.

There were bundles of vinyl blinds lying on the storage room floor. I got one for the only window in my room. It doesn't really have that snug fit but it adds quiet elegance to an otherwise drab jalousie window.

I found an unused bunk bed stair and reincarnated it as towel rack. I was planning to use bamboo but I threw effort out of the window since school started. The inspiration I picked up from one of the resorts I saw in Bali, Indonesia.

The clothes organiser makes my room appear like a rundown ready-to-wear shop. It was actually a shoe rack in its past life. It bars the bathroom door from closing but I love how it makes imperfection appear beautifully jarring.

I found this metal motorbike in Unitop. I just had to bring it home. I collect miniature motorbikes by the way. 

It's just a 4m by 3.5m room (excluding the toilet and bath). Cozy at it's best. And best of all, it's easy to clean!

By the way, this is my bedside table. It's actually a foldable chair.

And if you ask me if this is how my room looks like every single day, the answer is a downright NO.This is just for pictorial purposes. Next cleaning schedule is at month's end. 

regular, special non-working and special holidays in the Philippines for the year 2013

With 2013 holiday schedule now in place, it's high time we do a seat sale booking spree for travels next year! Yehey!

There are four long weekends in 2013:

March 28-31 Holy Week
August 24-26 National Heroes Day
November 1-3 All Saints' Day
December 28-January 1 Rizal Day and New Year

Proclamation No. 459, s. 2012 has been signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on August 16, 2012 DECLARING THE REGULAR HOLIDAYS, SPECIAL (NON-WORKING) DAYS, AND SPECIAL HOLIDAY (FOR ALL SCHOOLS) FOR THE YEAR 2013.

The following regular holidays and special days for the year 2013 shall be observed in the country:

Active Vista Film Festival in Dumaguete set on September 5-8

The Active Vista Film Festival is a platform to shape the consciousness of a new generation of Filipino audience into the importance of knowing and understanding human rights as an integral foundation of responsible citizenship and nation building. 

one of the films to be shown Marlon Rivera's Babae sa Septic Tank on September 7, 2012
The festival is sponsored by the Dakila –Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, the Silliman University Cultural Affairs Committee, the Silliman Student Government, the College of Mass Communication, the Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center, the Societe des Cinephiles, and MetroPost. It is also supported by AustraliaAID, Movies that Matter Netherlands, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

Tickets to all screenings are available at P100. Tickets are available at the SUSG Office in Oriental Hall and the CAC office in COPVA Hall 2. Tickets will also be available at the venue before the screening. You may also contact Kenneth Bana-ay at 09173215892.


winners of the 62nd Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature

Congratulations to the winners of this year's Palanca Awards!

I am proud that in some point I have rubbed elbows with these brilliant writers: Ian Casocot (Litcritters and Wednesday Group at Silliman), Joshua Lim So, Dette Neri (co-fellows at Iligan National Writers Workshop) and Shane Carreon (co-fellow at Faigao Writers Workshop)! Cheers! Pa Bonchon Chicken naman diyan!

fastfacts for this year's contest:
  • 1,077 entries in 20 categories
  • 59 winning works were selected from 58 writers
  • half (29 authors) are first time winners

Here is the complete list of this year's winners: