Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Bayanihan Dance Company - The pride of the Philippines

Location: The Podium
The Atrium, Megamall

" The beauty of the Philippines shared in music and dance ".

The National Heritage Month is a yearly month long celebration centered in our heritage. It featured performances, exhibits , culinary events and other activities which emphazised on our traditions and customs. It has sought to strengthen people's awareness and appreciation of our Filipino culture and tradition.

I was fortunate to have been following the hectic schedule of the Filipino Heritage Festival Inc. in documenting the month long heritage festivities and in three occasions they featured the renown Bayanihan Dancers as one of their performers. The Heritage month will end on May 30 in Antique.

Bayanihan, the National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines takes its name from an ancient Filipino tradition called bayanihan which means working together for a common good. In 1956 Dr. Helena Z. Benitez founded the Bayanihan Folk Dance Group of the Philippine Women’s University. The following year, 1957, it was formally organized as the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center with the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as its performing arm. Both the center and the dance company were tasked to research on and preserve indigenous Philippine art forms in music, dance, costumes and folklore; to restructure and enhance these research findings to evolve repertoires suited to the demands of contemporary theater; and to promote international goodwill through performances at home and abroad.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

National Heritage Month features Donald Tapan's " CORDILLERA "

Add Image

location: The Podium

The Heritage Month, created by Proclamation No. 439 and signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in August 2003, declared the entire month of May as a festival of exhibits, performances, tours, and processions celebrating the nation’s history and cultural traditions. The Filipino Heritage Festival is supported by the Department of Tourism, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and Security Bank Corporation.

Donald Tapan, a photographer whose name is synonymous with countryside scenes. Tapan depicts his subjects with a strong combination of colors, composition, and depth of field, making them a feast for the eyes.

“When I take photographs, I try to look for something outside of the obvious, something not always noticed,” Tapan said. “Photography is an art and should be treated with respect, as with any art form.”

The National Heritage Commission together with Donald Tapan came up with an idea of promoting CORDILLERA to preserve it's natural beauty and culture. The exhibit is on display in Metro Manila until today and forms part of the annual Filipino Heritage Festival’s month-long celebration.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rediscovering Romeo Tabuena

location : Ayala Museum

Presented in partnership with the Filipino Heritage Festival and the Philippine Embassy in Mexico, the exhibit is part of the annual celebration of National Heritage Month.

“Rediscovering Romeo Tabuena: The Later Work” re-presents the works of Tabuena, who, since the 1950s, has settled in San Miguel de Allendre, Mexico.

Tabuena was born in Iloilo City in 1921. He was one of the pioneering artists who was part of the Philippine Art Gallery (PAG) which opened in 1951. The PAG was an institution that played an important role in the development of the Philippine art scene from the 1950s to 1969 when it closed its doors. It was also in this gallery where Tabuena, together with the postwar Neorealist group — Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Victor Oteyza, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, and Nena Saguil — found a home with their groundbreaking works.

Tabuena’s works were constantly exhibited and were very saleable in this gallery. Most of these artists were later to be recognized as National Artists by the Philippine government.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ugu Bigyan's Secret Garden with the Ultimate Tour....

location: Tiaong, Quezon

Augusto "Ugu" Bigyan is a ceramics artist. Ugu produces dinnerware sets, decorative tiles and accent pieces for finishing walls and flooring. Very evident in his pottery are his leaves. I was able to catch a demonstration of how his leaf is made. Original and creative ceramic pieces spilled from the house through out the garden, where Ugo shares his art to those who wish to experience dining al fresco in one of the Balinese inspires huts and partake a meal on his signature leaf plates. The place is not easy to find. There are no markers, no signs along the road. But people still strive to find this great, relaxing place in Tiaong, Quezon Province. There’s good food, zen-like garden, and of course, pretty pottery items. It’s a long drive from Manila, but it’s worth it. Occasionally, Ugu gives pottery and cooking lessons. It’s an ideal place for people wishing to de-stress on a weekend. Ugu's Pottery goes on sale twice a year... once on May 15 ( in celebration for the pahiyas festival ) and on August 15 ( his birthday )...

We had lunch there and this was our menu: Clam soup Tahong with mustard leaves Sauteed Shrimps Grilled Pork Ribs Kulawo ( banana heart ) Pako ( fern ) salad Crunchy Calamares Sweet and sour Fish fillet with mango salsa Iced Buko juice Guinumis ( for dessert )

I was able to get the recipe of one of his signature dishes. It is called KULAWO. here are the ingredients and how to prepare it in case you want to do this one day. I liked this dish This can be used as an appetizer or as a main dish. - puso ng saging / banana heart ( cut into strips ) - cane vinegar - Garlic - salt and pepper to taste - grated coconut meat 1. Grate the coconut meat. Once it is done put it in a metal container and set it aside. Get heated charcoal and place it on top of the grated coconut. Then mix it . It will give you the smokey flavor . 2. when the meat turns brown mash it with cane vinegar and get cheesecloth to remove the juice ( pure coconut milk or gata ) from the coconut meat. 3. Then in another bowl mix onions, garlic, coconut milk and the coconut meat. Add the banana heart the last.
This tour was made possible by Anton Diaz and Ivan Man Dy of Ultimate Philippines and Tina Decal of Viejes del Sol..

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ancestral Home in Sariaya, Quezon

Ultimate Philippines brought us to one of the most popular and well preserved ancestral homes in Quezon. This home was the residence of the Gala - Rodriguez Family and now is owned by Gladys Cabunag, the daughter.

It was built in the early 1930's by Juan Nakpil.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This Restaurant cum Art Gallery. Once you enter the complex, the art gallery is located in the ground floor of a 2 story former hotel. You can buy assorted antiques like religious icons, wooden chairs, wind breakers, wood carvings etc. On one side is Sulyap Cafe, it is a small 2-story Spanish Colonial Type House that was restored piece by piece on the place. The tables and chairs and all antique type and the ambiance is superb and also romantic. You can also see young couples on dates here due to the romantic ambience.

CASA SAN PABLO, San Pablo Laguna

location: San Pablo, Laguna

Casa San Pablo is a quaint country inn located in picturesque San Pablo City in Laguna. Boots Alcantara ( an avid art collector and a hobby enthusiast ) together with his wife, An Mercado- Alcantara runs the place...

I was booked here one night before the group proceeded to Lucban, Laguna for the PAHIYAS festival... The surroundings of the place reminded me of my childhood days in Baguio... The cottage where i stayed was surrounded by pine trees... The Inn also have a swimming pool that is surrounded by hundred-year-old trees..

I heard from the managers of the Inn that on a clear night they would line up the pathways with tea-light candles and one can just spread out their mats for moon gazing. Unfortunately the night I was there... it was raining.

Carlito's Workshop, San Pablo City

This is located in Barrio Sta. Ana, San Pablo City.

Carlito Ortega is a sculptor whose medium include welded steel, brass and hard wood. He is also known for his landcape. His residence/worshop/gallery in San Pablo is a showcase of his well rounded art. He used to be an electrical engineer and businessman, showed his first works at the Bistro Salud in Baguio City. He gave us a demonstration on how to make a "tikbalang " ( half man/ half horse ).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kusina Salud, San Pablo, Laguna

San Pablo, better known as the City of Seven Lakes, is a geographical wonder as such a relatively small area is home to seven very beautiful lakes. It is home to many hot springs as well many places where one can see the unspoiled beauty of nature. The best things about San Pablo is its close proximity to Manila. It is just a short two hour ride away.

KUSINA SALUD -- provides an enriching cultural experience that emphasizes Filipino cuisine and artisanship in a verdant environment. Opened in October 2004, Kusina Salud features an enchanting ambience created by Filipiniana textile artist Patis Tesoro, and a unique preparation of modern Filipino cuisine by Chef Paul Poblador and his talented team. There is also a mini aviary and a souvenir store where you can get some of the laguna delicacies for pasalubong. We were served breakfast of champorado, daing, fried suman with mango bits, garlic rice, bistek filipino and scrambled eggs.

Later on we had a demonstration of Chef Paul Poblador on how to make the PAKO ( Fern ) Salad...

HOW to make Pako Salad:

-- arrange the pako on your plate.
-- grate cheese on top of greens
-- grate salted egg on top of greens
-- add slices of tomatoes and onions
-- make dressing : mayonnaise, mustard, calamansi juice, little bagoong, mix well and pour dressing on top of greens.

Lucban Festival 2009

Location: Lucban, Quezon

Pahiyas means " decor " and every May 15 the facade of the houses are elaborately decorated with brightly decorated rice wafers called " KIPING". This is a type of rice dough made from traditional rice recipe. According to Tina Decal of Viejes del Sol, this kiping is the filipino version of the mexican taco. When the festival is over, these kipings are cooked and eaten as rice chips. Fruits, grains, vegetables and woven palm hats are used as additional decorations.

San Isidro labrador's image ( the towns patron saint ) is carried across town in a procession to assure the farmers of more bountiful harvests in the coming seasons. During the festival. people display their harvest in front of their homes for the parish priest to bless as the procession passes their homes. A competition is usually held during the festival. Families would compete for the title of " The Best Decorated House " after the competition the awards are handed over, the winning houses decorations will be thrown away to the huge flock of people as free treats. This is called " agawan "... What ever you catch is yours to keep!! It is indeed a joyous merriment for the Tayabasins ( that is what they are called ). You will never walk away with an empty stomach. It is a mouthful welcome to show how the people welcome their guests.

Food to try when you are in Lucban:

** Langonissang Lucban - is a garlicky slightly sour sausage that is quite similar to chorizo de bilbao, the famous garlic sausage from Spain.
** Budin or Casava Cake
** Hardinera - is like morcon

** Pancit habhab - very typical of the province... you will have to eat this dish without utensils. it is served on a piece of banana leaf and you have to shove it up your mouth... instead of using fish sauce ( patis ) you use vinegar... A word of advise when you are attending these festivals..
WATCH the calories when you are at it!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Goldenberg Mansion

location : 840 Solano Street, Arlegui Manila

The Goldenberg Mansion (so called after the previous owners) was informally referred to by Mrs. Marcos as the 'big antique.' A historic structure built by the Eugster family about a hundred years ago. It is the most elegant example of late 19th century Filipino residential architecture. According to the Malacañang website, the house is "a remodeled and enlarged 1930s mansion owned by the Laperal family. It later housed the Japanese Embassy, the National Library and the Presidential Economic Staff, one of the agencies that was later merged with another to constitute the present National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). It was exquisitely restored by Architect Leandro Locsin in 1971.

It held Mrs. Marcos' collection of excavated porcelain and pottery, Ban Chieng prehistoric pottery from Thailand and Filipiniana book rarities, and treasures such as a statue from Angkor and Chinese jade furniture.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Laguna Food Fetival 2009

location: Hills Spa Los Banos, Laguna

Los Banos started as one of the many settlements of the town of Bay in southern Luzon. It was then called Mainit because of the hot springs coming from Mt. Makiling, a dormant volcano, which is located within its proximity. These springs, which were said to have curative effects, attracted the Spaniards especially the Franciscan friars. In 1589, Fr. Pedro Baustista established public baths and renamed the place Los Baños which means bathing places in Spanish. When one hears the word LAGUNA... the first things that would enter in your minds would be... KESONG PUTI ( from Santa Cruz ), fresh BUKO PIE to take home as paslubong and Mount Makiling. But has anyone ever tasted LAGUNA style cooking??? Since May is known as Heritage Month in the Philippines... I was able to attend an event that was sponsored by the Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc., National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Department of Tourism and the Senior Citizens Federation of Los Banos Laguna. It was the Food Heritage Cooking contest of Los Banos, Laguna. The contestants had to prepare dishes that was typical of the province or town.The criteria for this event were the usage of indigenous / cookery methods, Must have profit potential and they have to use nutricious ingredients.... and NO MSG!!! They had 3 dishes that were coconut based ( guinataang hipon, labong and the binagoongang dalag ). What i noticed is that they would use calamansi instead of vinegar ( in the ampalaya salad ) and instead of sampaloc for sinigang again calamansi was used to make the broth sour... another ingredient that was very noticeable was the usuage of the malunggay or saluyot leaves in their cooking.
The winners were: 1st Place - Tortang Tulya - minced clams sauteed with saluyot and malunggay leaves, kinchay, spring onions and tokwa. Then each pattie is dipped into egg-cornstarch mixture and fried till done. 2nd Place - Sinigang na Carpa with gulay - cooked the same way as how we cooked our sinigang, but calamansi was used to make the broth sour, and the fish they used was CARPA... a fish that is found in the Laguna Bay. and the 3rd Place - Binagoongang Dalag - same proceedure as how they cook the binagoonang baboy but they used DALAG ( another fish that is found in Laguna Bay ).

Other recipes that joined were: RELLENONG SILI - they used small peppers stuffed with ground pork, minced onions and diced tomatoes. AMPALAYA SALAD- they used calamansi instead of vinegar, Buko pancit - they used grated young coconut instead of noodles, GUINATAANG HIPON- they used small fresh water shrimps cooked in coconut milk. I was able to taste a better version of this a long time ago from a friend of mine who is from Pila ( another town in Laguna ). KULALO TALONG- charcoal grilled eggplant grilled then mashed mixed with roasted coconut ( niyog ), coconut milk extract ( kakang gata ) and chili peppers. Just trying to jot down the ingredients of this recipe i thought it was the hardest to do unlike the others. The lady who cooked it told me that after you have grilled the eggplant , you set it aside... the meat of the crated coconut you will wrap it in a foil then ... get some charcoal and put it on the HUSK of the coconut... and then put the wrapped coconut meat on top to ROAST it. After it is done... you will then get the roasted coconut and extract the coconut milk by squeezing the extract thru cheesecloth. After all these are prepared , the coconut extract together with the mashed eggplant is now mixed with other ingredients like minced onions and chili peppers... an added twist was using calamansi ( instead of vinegar) to get the sour taste. The finish product??? it tasted like the sidings we have when we cook Pochero. It didn't look appealling to the eyes but it tasted good! SAGIPIG SA BANGA- their version of guinumis. Next time when you travel south... and pass Los Banos... why not stop and try to taste some of the dishes i mentioned... cooked the LAGUNA way..... HAPPY EATING!!!