Coasting Along the Coastline of Churches

Argao / Dalaguete / Oslob / Santander, Cebu, the Philippines

March 24 – 26, 2018

I was smitten by the rustic charm of Boljoon. Back in 2011, Ki and I were on a road trip tracing the southern coast of Cebu. We hopped off the bus in the rain and ran for shelter in the town’s church by the sea. The visit was brief but the fond memories lingered. Seven years later, we found ourselves traversing the same coastline from Cebu City to Liloan Port down south. This time, we gave Boljoon’s neighboring towns a peek by stringing together quick stops at their Spanish-era churches.

Fray Julian Bermejo “El Capitan Parroco” @ Oslob, Cebu
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What’s in a Name – The Prequel

Legazpi City, the Philippines

November 23 and 25, 2015

My unusual name – both given (Aniano) and family (Poliquit) – had always been a matter of curiosity. In a stroke of serendipity, I found the origin of my first name in Cairo where St. Anianus was regarded as Egypt’s first Christian convert. Four years prior, I thought I was about to crack the mystery of my uncommon surname’s origin and meaning in a trip to Bicol.

Mayon Volcano and Ligñon Hill from Legazpi Airport
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Manila in the Claws of Light 2

Manila, the Philippines

November 30, 2020

No pandemic could put a damper on the development of our capital city. The good mayor of Manila, Yorme Isko, had kick-started his revitalization initiatives at the area around Manila City Hall before the world ground to a halt in the first quarter of 2020. While I spent months at home on self-imposed lockdown, public works in the city hardly paused.

Ki @ Lagusnilad Underpass, Manila
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See Cebu

Cebu City, the Philippines

October 18 – 21, 2019

Only when I threw plans and itineraries to the wind did I make our real-time discoveries. It paid that Ki, an honorary Cebuano by virtue of his affinity to the city, led the way around Cebu. We spent three days urban trekking in both old and new sides of town.

TTT @ SM Seaside City Cebu
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The Jewel in the Palace

Manila, the Philippines

April 25, 2019

In my 50 years as a Filipino citizen, I never set foot in Malacañang Palace, the seat of power in the Philippines. As the office and official residence of presidents since a century ago, it never piqued my curiosity even as a historical site. A palace implied royalty; last time I checked, our form of government was never a monarchy. The opportunity came in the form of an invite from a colleague and docent-in-training. Her connections in the Presidential Museum secured our group a spot in their weekday guided tours.

TTT with Mesdames X, Y, Z, and a Secret Agent @ Malacañang Palace, Manila
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A Road Trip Down Memory Lane

San Juan / Rosario / Pedro Garcia, Batangas, the Philippines

January 23, 2012

“Every road that leads me leads me back to you.” A song of grief got me with that line. There were trips I took with my mother, one of which was through Batangas in 2012. While travelers left their heart where their feet had taken them, I left mine with people in this road of life. I posted this Facebook throwback for my sister and late mother:

This photo was taken in 2012 during one of our road trips through Southern Tagalog. We stopped by the town of San Juan, Batangas mainly to see the church where Juday and Ryan wed. In Mom’s pace, we also explored blocks of grand old houses (some seemingly abandoned), kicked off our shoes at a quiet beach of powdery sand, and took in local culture at heritage restaurants adorned with all things old world: Cafeno (in photo) and Naranja Grill. I’ve never been back to San Juan (except at Cafeno), but I hope it remains as how Mom saw it 8 years ago. 

The Kid and Her Kids @ Cafeño, San Juan, Batangas
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A Time to Chill

Cagbalete Island, Mauban, Quezon Province, the Philippines

April 26 – 28, 2019

Only a warp in the space-time continuum could explain this phenomenon. Hours and minutes dragged on reluctantly in paradise islands. The day stretched longer and more so the night. Such were the destinations that appealed to my laissez-faire approach to traveling. What was a vacation if not to escape the daily rush of modern life? That was exactly what I found in Cagbalete Island.

Mad Squad @ Cagbalete Island, Quezon Province

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New Year with a Whimper

San Remigio / Santa Fe and Bantayan, Bantayan Island, Cebu, the Philippines

December 31, 2018 – January 3, 2019

We rang in 2019, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Dominoes of delays came crashing down at Hagnaya Port in San Remigio, Cebu. We missed the last ferry out to Bantayan Island on New Year’s Eve. Not one to sweat the small stuff, I settled in with similarly star-crossed passengers on the non-ergonomic wooden benches, unmindful of the simmering anger beside me. Ki expected us to wait out the next ferry at 2:30 AM in a hotel. I shrugged the idea off as unnecessary and impractical; he got his beastmode on. The only fireworks we had at midnight were of the verbal kind.

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Manila in the Claws of Light

Manila, the Philippines

July 20 and November 24, 2019

The urban squalor depicted in the acclaimed Brocka film Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag in the 70s persisted like a stain that wouldn’t come off. The glory days of Manila were long forgotten. In the 80s, I could not unsee children and grown men hanging from embankments and pooping directly onto Pasig River in full view of morning rush hour traffic. Thirty years later, little else had improved. Until Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso – popularly known as Yorme Isko – came along. Barely warming his mayoralty chair, he set out to scrub off the decades-old grime of our capital city.

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Heritage Home

Silay, Negros Occidental, the Philippines

October 1 – 2, 2018

Young people, I found, were not only the hope for the future but also of the past. Silay, home to some thirty ancestral houses accredited by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, could stand a chance against unbridled development because her sons had enough respect for the tangible legacies their forefathers had left behind. Their inheritance, in other words. The number of preserved heritage houses in Silay likely exceeded that of more famous “museum cities” in the country, such as Vigan and Taal.

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Gaslight @ Dumaguete

Dumaguete, the Philippines

March 26 – 27 and 29 – 30, 2018 / January 4 – 5, 2019

For most non-residents, Dumaguete was its famous seafront boulevard and promenade. Running through the heart of the city, Rizal Boulevard had long been the place to be. Casa de Gobierno, the seat of the Spanish colonial government, once stood at this scenic coast. That piece of heritage burned down in the 1930s.

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Back to Burnham

Baguio City, the Philippines

July 4 – 7, 2018

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” That was my motto on my nth trip to Baguio. Nostalgia had been the theme of all my visits to the country’s summer capital. I always tried to relive my childhood memories of a city under pine cover. That meant staying in and around relatively well-preserved Camp John Hay. Not this time. Ki, the veritable Baguio-phile, let me experience present-day downtown Baguio, the area around Burnham Park, with more of the city and less of the pines.

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Good 2Go

Manila and Cebu City, the Philippines

December 30 – 31, 2018

Sailing used to be the cheaper alternative to flying. But in the advent of LCCs, it mostly cost less – and for less travel time – to take a plane than a ship. One December day, though, we decided to welcome the new year in Cebu. The holiday rush shot flight fares through the roof; that was a given. What was not was going by boat, which basically meant going by 2Go, the country’s largest passenger ferry fleet.

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