From Baguio to Bicol to Dipolog: 3 Milestone Celebrations of Arts and Music

Arts celebrations are often intimate affairs. Families, friends and ardent supporters gather in one place to witness the unveiling of masterpieces and experience a work of art.

Sometimes these are also celebrations of a milestone like these three regional events: Take 5 on Aquarelle, Wild about Flowers and Afternoon Sonatina.


On February 11, Bencab Museum celebrated its eighth anniversary with an all-watercolor painting show from five generation of painters. These are Alfredo Roces (80), BenCab (70), Elmer Borlongan (50), Kelly Ramos (40) and Abi Dionisio (30).

As such this 5-person, 5-generation exhibit was also a way of sharing the stage with fellow artists. Kelly Ramos, for instance, was from Mindanao and now lives in Baguio. Her paintings are about musings on living in the mountains of Benguet with environmentalist neighbors.

Below are preview photos from three exhibitors, namely: Ballast 2 by Abi Dionisio, Two Cattleyas by Alfredo Roces, and Nesting by Kelly Ramos.

BenCab’s Studies of Dance Movements, a series of 40 drawings based on a Polish Choreographer’s movement, were also displayed at Print Gallery.

The exhibit runs until April.


On February 1, Bernadette “Bidibidi” De Los Santos’ first solo exhibit opened at Ayala Malls in Legazpi City. It featured roses, poppies and “endemic” flowers in lush, tropical colors.

Flowers in the Forest Series. Photo courtesy of Ms. Bidibidi.

The flower paintings carried the mastery of her visual style, which ultimately blossomed in her 2003 exhibit. Her flowers were painted singly or in sparse number as if to emphasize their anatomic glory.


Typhoon Nina had severely damaged her home and farm, too. Yet she proved that a talent in full bloom can outshine all these challenges and finish masterpieces in just a month against her full-year preparation for her first exhibit.

While she needed to get the approval of the City Arts Commission in CA, USA, for her previous exhibit, this time she was invited by Albay art curator Apo Gonzales. She also considered this off her comfort zone, as she would exhibit solo only in her gallery in CamSur; while her first exhibit was with two women.

Her first solo exhibit is thus a celebration of resilience and mastery of style – two qualities necessary to bring forward the art scene in the region including literature.


It is open until February 28.


The Romano’s Afternoon Sonatina is a 25th-year celebration of teaching classical music and fine arts in Dipolog City. Misha Romano, grand winner for junior string category in National Music Competition for Young Artists in 2016, will perform together with her sister Miracle (his accompanist during the competition).

NAMCYA Concert of Winners last November 2016. Photo courtesy of Miracle Romano

According to Miracle, “It is a family affair shared with students as an attempt to expose their youths to fine arts and classical music.” It started with the Romano couple (Didi and Marietta) teaching piano and painting and sketching. A few ears later, Miracle (also a NAMCYA prizewinner at the age of 11) started to teach piano.

For raising musical champions, they bring honor to the region. Misha is the first violin grand winner from Mindanao. By teaching music, including to underserved communities in Cebu, the family helps impart lessons that our traditional schools can’t give. The family, therefore, makes ripples beyond personal.

In March, the family looks forward to two important events. First is the Afternoon Sonatina, a music recital and art exhibits with their students. Second, the result from Misha’s audition to Asian Youth Orchestra.

Hopefully, Dipolog City would showcase classical music performances in its tourism campaigns.


5 New Specialty Cafes in Albay

Take your pick: From Daraga’s neighborhood specialty cafe to Korean-style and Italian to uber sweet and love-themed.


Photo: Ivy Gamit/IG @herescape_


528 Ilawod

Daraga has this little secret: A specialty coffee shop found in the historical street of Lotivio. Its name is also its address.

Yes, you’ve got it dear!

528 Ilawod serves espresso-based drinks and single origin Arabica beans, which you can pair with yummy pastries (matcha especially),  pasta (tried spicy chicken fajita and I’m craving now) and meals (must try: rum chicken). Chili mocha is also on its menu.


Add the quiet neighborhood and the value-for-money menu to the reasons that make the short commute to Ilawod worth it.

Grabbed this from my sister's FB post hehe

Anthosia Cafe

Photo from the web.

Its love-themed food is a catch, and so is the bestseller heart-shaped Pan De Oriang. This, you can pair with hot and cold drinks: tsa’a ng pag-ibig, pagkamoot, kape anthosia, supremo, bolero and more.

The cafe encourages not just the ‘kilig’ part of love, but also the expression of heartaches. If you can share the pizza with your love, you can also slice it in two. (Imagine it’s your ex’s heart. Just kidding). It has three flavors: Dayaday (white sauce), Padaba (red sauce) and Salawahan (combination of two).

At times, it holds art exhibits, open mic sessions for spoken word poetry and acoustic sessions with local indie musicians for free.

Erin’s Cafe

Wonton Cups with Mango-Cucumber-Crabstick Salad
Wonton Cups with Mango-Cucumber-Crabstick Salad

Italian menu cooked by the chef-owner, anyone? She shares her schooled cooking skills through their delicious menu, and her love for art by holding exhibits. Their bestsellers are baby back ribs, grilled cheese sandwich, vanilla bread pudding and pasta selections. Try the garden salad too.

 Vanilla bread pudding served with ice cream and choco-caramel sauce

Vanilla bread pudding served with ice cream and choco-caramel sauce

It’s cozy interiors, with books and peaceful ambiance, add to the quality experience that diners consider as important as the food they go after.

Kaz Korean Dessert Cafe


A coffee shop where Bing Su, Korean-style halo-halo, is the bestseller. The mango cheese and berry cheese flavors are a crowd favorite too.


While the famous DJC halo-halo holds a distinct Bicol taste, these new flavors are refreshing. Would you believe its owner use ingredients from Seoul?

You better try it out.

The Patio by Greenleaf

Cupcake desserts and ice cream and cold coffee and beverages make its menu uber sweet. There are pasta and bread selections too. The interiors are whimsical and girly.

The cafe’s instgrammable food presentation and bigger-than-you expect servings complement its good, yet generic taste.

Is Camotes Island Cebu’s Best-Kept Secret?

A friend asked for an itinerary for their 4-day trip to Cebu. I can’t help but highlight this island.

It is so low profile to be existing under the tourist radar, yet blessed with natural splendors. Couldn’t agree more on this Nurse-issistic Traveller. 😉

Hence, this itinerary suggestion from Travex Travels looks perfect with a trip to Camotes island, besides the city tour and food trip.

A tour to the south for a butanding encounter can also be included, from Camotes Island to Danao Port or Pier 1. However, I don’t know how to get there from either of the two.

Any suggestions, please? 🙂

The Joys of Journeying

Secluded and underdeveloped – this group of islands in Cebu can be reached in one and a half hours via a fast craft vessel. Its prime islands are hosts to beachfront resorts whose infinity pools got the overlooking pristine beach for a background. Equally rustic are the other natural attractions in the area and with a vibe as relaxed and unhurried. Camotes Island hopefully would stay that way – that is, as Cebu’s arguably best-kept secret.

The Beach in Santiago, San Francisco

The Beachfront Resort

How to get to Camotes Island 

  1. Book a ticket to Camotes Island via fast craft ferries. At Pier 1, OceanJet plies to these destinations daily with scheduled trips at 6 am, 10 am, and 3 pm. There are also trips from Danao port from 6 am, and 9 am at Pier 2, and 1pm at Oanu Wharf.
  2. At Poro port, there are different public vehicles that can take you…

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Surfing in Siargao and more


There is more to Siargao than surfing. But who can resist its fabled waves? So we do island hopping, swimming with jellyfish, spelunking, kayaking, cliff diving and surfing when we visit Siargao islands.

Siargao is the ultimate place to be for surfers visiting the Philippines. It’s extremely good waves can get any enthusiast stoked.

Beyond its surfing spots, more natural wonders await for visitors to discover and enjoy – from secret coves and lagoons to still lakes and natural pools to pristine white sand beaches that are never crowded. These hidden gems make non-surfers enjoy the Siargao islands, too.


Enjoy Siargao islands!

Photos courtesy of my travel buddies (Ely, Gin, Joann).

Fluvial Parade for Albay’s Patroness


Every year Albay holds a maritime procession for the patroness of the province, Our Lady of Salvation, in honor of her feast day, August 15.

On the third Saturday of August, devotees and pilgrims from all over Albay take part in the celebration to pay homage to the miraculous image of Our Lady of Salvation. It is highlighted by a concelebrated Mass which is often held at Sugod, a fishing village in Tiwi, before continuing on with the procession.


The procession starts in Brgy. Joroan where the shrine of Our Lady of Salvation is located. The image is carried by a well-decorated trawl boat and followed by an entourage of equally colorful pump boats. It passes through the coastal barangays of Tiwi, including Bariis, Matalibong, Sugod, Bolo and Baybay, and vice versa.


On the last Saturday of August, devotees from all over the Bicol region will visit the shrine for Peregrinacion sa Magagahon. After midnight, they would walk in the procession from the St. Lawrence Church of Tiwi to the Diocesan Shrine in Joroan.

The nine-kilometer distance between the two churches is a sacrifice pilgrims make for that day, which they consider a special day of veneration. This flock of devotees to the shrine extends until September.


Incidentally, these events have become a part of the Coron Festival in Tiwi. Coron is a local word for potteries or clay pot, the very same product made out of pottery, the town’s major source of income. Events for this year include street dancing presentation, Tiwi Product Exhibit and Padyak Race.


In the next month, Naga will hold its annual fluvial procession for Our Lady of Penafrancia, the highlight event of the city’s Penafrancia Festival.

Infographics: Cross-border commuting in Singapore

In Singapore moving from one tourist destination to another is a breeze. Thanks to its very efficient transportation system, not to mention modern infrastructure.

While there are parts of the MRT and LRT lines that tend to get crowded, and a part of its road that suffer from mild traffic, those were tolerable.

Even cross-border commuting in Singapore is easy. Buses plying between Singapore and Johor Bahru in Malaysia have 12-hour trips, with an schedule as early as 6 am.

Tourists that intend to visit its closest neighbor, Malaysia, can take express buses or cross-border buses bound for Malaysia. Express buses have direct trips to major cities in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, whereas trips of cross-border buses terminate at Larkin Terminal in Johor Bahru. The latter is cheaper though, the reason why my friends and I took this option when we visited Malaysia from Singapore.

Here is an infographic about cross-border buses in Singapore. You may find it useful should you consider visiting Malaysia during your trip to Singapore and vice versa. The pros and cons of this option are also included to help you decide if this option is for you or not.

cross border sg-jb

This is the first page of the four-page infographic about cross-border commuting in Singapore. Big thanks to Public Transport SG for helping me update and double check the information presented in this infographic.

Cheers to SG for its 50th year of independence!

A beautiful discovery

I thought I could fall in love with pristine beaches forever. Now I found myself loving lakes and lagoons instead.


I knew I still wouldn’t be able to pass an invitation to an exotic beach, as long as it wouldn’t be between a beach and a lagoon or a lake. Yes, you could say that my interest in unspoiled beaches and its appeal to me have altogether declined.

I wouldn’t consider it a sad episode, though, because it was not.

The change in preference had something to do with a beautiful discovery that led me to knowing who I really am.


TUJUMAN LAGOON1922399_861537287209250_6454091803284233155_n



photo credit: travel buddies joann, dos, avi, ely and my cousin carol