My trip to Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival was not my first this year. I thought it would be but who would ignore a beach weekend getaway?

Thanks to a dear friend’s invitation, I was lucky to have joined Trippers (adventure organizers) one sunny weekend last January.

I, along with thirteen people, rode a private van that took us to Palauig, Zambales in four hours. We transferred to a boat and sailed for 10 minutes to reach the starfish-filled destination – Magalawa Island.

Upon arrival, we immediately pitched our tents and changed into our swimwear. I was extra excited to dip in the cool waters of the island because I had with me my Pentax W90, that outdoor camera I bought last 2010.

With my dear friend Maila

Starfish Barkada

4-star

6-star

After lunch, it was time for the bamboo raft ride. It brought us to coral spots around the island. Cool! 😀

Five fingers

Sea fairy

After about an hour or two, we got back to the island. The night was ours.

I spent the following morning playing along the shore. Forgive me, but to have my nickname spelled by sea stars is a childhood dream.

They were just out of the water for 5 minutes (we collected them on a big plastic bag filled with water) and then thrown back to the sea.

It was so much fun I had to jump.

And jump.

And, uhm, jump.

Thank you, Trippers, Maila, and to the Magalawa caretakers.

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I miss you.

I remembered seeing you first on an email. Your powdery sand and sparkling water are seductive; I knew I had to leave Manila to touch you. I endured seven hours of cold, butt-numbing van ride to Daet (Camarines Norte), waited three hours for the boat at Vinzons Port, and sailed two hours to finally see your magnificence.

Your picture did not fail me.

Boracay minus the city vibe

You have a place in my heart, Calaguas.

I know it will be more wonderful than this when I see you again.

As of today, I only have one confirmed trip this month and it’s going to be hectic. How can I cover Penang (Malaysia) in less than twenty-four hours?

I booked three seats with Cebu Pacific Air for a three-day visit to my cousin who is now working in Penang. I’m going with my mom and my cousin’s mother. Our itinerary receipt says we’ll be in Kuala Lumpur on March 22 at around 1350H. Then we’ll board an Air Asia flight that will arrive in Penang at around 1745H. Because my mom wants to see Kuala Lumpur, we have to leave Penang on the 23rd at 1455H. In short, the two of us can only stay in Penang for only twenty-one (21) hours.

I made some research and wanted to do the following:

  • See the snakes in Chor Soo Kong Temple – Viper snakes slither on this temple to protect the deity Chor Soo Kong, a healer.
  • Pay homage to Thee Kong Tua – I am fascinated to Taoism, so I have to see this temple dedicated to the Jade Emperor or the supreme ruler of heaven.
  • Pray at the Kek Lok Si Temple – Also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss, this is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It houses the towering statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
  • Ride a trishaw around George Town – This is a Unesco World Heritage Site. I have to see it.
  • Walk along Gurney Drive and eat hawker fare.

I hope we can do everything in this short list.

For a new you

I took this picture from a magazine while enjoying a cup of frappuccino. The article that came with it was shared by Ms. Pinky Peralta, principal designer of Creative Post, Inc. and owner of The Room Upstairs. It is the GO PACK method: Group Objects, Purge, Assign, Contain, & Keep it up. This method was my guide when I uncluttered my room last January. It was my motivation to start my travel light journey.

GO: Take objects out from where they are placed. Put them on the floor and group similar items.

P: Get rid of items that do not work anymore. Eliminate trash.

A: Decide which are for keeps, for donation, for recycling.

C: Don’t leave them on the floor. Get a rug, clean the containers (cabinets, boxes), put them inside neatly.

K: Keep it up. If not, GO PAC.

Note: Make a scrapbook – it’s a good alibi for not throwing things for ‘sentimental reasons’. 🙂

Iloilo had a party fever last January 21 to 23 as the people celebrated Dinagyang Festival 2011.

With my mama upon arrival at the Iloilo airport

The atmosphere at the airport was already festive when we arrived Friday at one in the afternoon. There were some men dressed as Ati warriors moving with the steady beating of drums.

After checking in at Ong Bun Pension House, we proceeded to Deco’s. The steamy La Paz Batchoy was a very warm welcome.

a taste of Iloilo culture

dig in

Night time during the festival was upbeat and roaring. Every street in the town proper was filled with people. They drank beer, ate grilled food, sang videoke,  and watched local bands perform.

Streets closed - party all night

Reggae music! Irie!

We joined the street merrymaking only until midnight so we can have enough energy for next day’s event – Kasadyahan 2011.

The crowd thickened as the competition progressed. Half past ten we decided to get away from the chaos and explore the Visayan land. This time I met blogger Mark who willingly accompanied us to some churches in Iloilo.

 

Jaro Cathedral

Molo Church

Inside Molo Church

Miag-ao Church

San Joaquin

Of all these, my favorite would be San Joaquin. The stillness of the place invoked peace. I suddenly remembered a trivia about Rey Valera when I entered the premises – he composed songs inside a cemetery. Anyway. Random stuff. 🙂

Sunday was the main event – Dinagyang 2011. We didn’t get the chance to watch the performances. No ticket, no entry at the Freedom Grandstand. There were fixers who were selling complimentary tickets for Php1,200. The price went down to Php1,000 after two tribes were done. It was frustrating. We wondered how foreigners dealt with it, they who traveled all the way to Iloilo just to watch the tribes’ performances live. There was no other way but to wait at the exit.

After performing, the tribes went out on the streets and started dancing/marching throughout the city proper. Sounds and colors filled the streets.  I suddenly forgot about the ticket issue.

Hala Bira Iloilo!

 

In a few hours, I’ll be flying to Iloilo for Dinagyang Festival 2011. This will be my first time to witness a provincial fiesta.

It was August of last year when I booked this flight. I even called the Iloilo Tourism Office to confirm about the dates of the main events: Kasadyahan Competition and Dinagyang Ati Contest.

Applause for Marcos of Explore Iloilo for posting the festival’s schedule.

Adding to my excitement is the chance to meet Ada and Marky, and maybe more fellow bloggers.

I’ll be back on Sunday with pictures and stories to tell.

Enjoy the weekend! 🙂

Since I knew I would be going places because the bug has finally made its way to my heart, I needed a good camera to digitally capture my adventures. I wanted to be faithful to my ‘travel light principle’ so I crossed out a bulky dslr camera.

There are a lot of compact cameras to choose from, each highlighting a feature which would make you look closer to the item – and then stare at the tag price. Because I felt I would be in different places with varying conditions – hot, sandy, cold, wet – I decided to get a sturdy amphibian.

Tadah!

It's so outdoorsy I'm gonna die!

Meet W90.

As my brother have commented about my purchase on Facebook:

Pros: Legendary Pentax optics in a waterproof, shockproof, and freeze proof construction.
Cons: I heard it can be destroyed by lava. 😦

 

W90's baptism

He may be exaggerating, but I already tried placing W90 inside a bucket full of ice for 10 minutes, threw it over the shore in Magalawa, snorkeled with it, and captured images underwater.

W90 is cool. Whatchathink?