Monday, May 22, 2017

To Jesus through Mary, but sometimes we need a little help from the Holy Angels

Roman Catholics who come to Cagayan go to Piat to visit the miraculous image of Our Lady at the Piat Basilica Minore have various reasons.

Some pilgrims go to Piat to pray for special favors like successfully passing board exams, getting cured from illnesses, offering thanksgiving mass and many others.

Due to the increasing number of pilgrims and tourists going to the Basilica, The Department of Tourism R2 has for sometime been looking into more ways to improve the experience of visitors in this part of the province. 

And so, the Cagayan State University Dairy Farm was opened to the public to visit for a minimal fee which includes tours around the farm with animal feeding and petting as well as vegetable pick and pay. 

At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, visitors can experience manual milking of the cows. The time for milking was a recommended practice by Cherry Lou Sampayan  of the National Dairy Authority so as to humanely treat the cows and allow for a relaxing experience for them and the guests as well.

We will always be indebted to Dr. Vicente Binasoy for allowing the tourism industry. Into this very prestigious institution. The Cagayan State University.... is now a DOT Accredited facility offering tours and meals

Not one to be upstage, the Municipality of Piat through Mayor Carmelo "Black" Villacete opened its road towards Piat Park and local market on Sundays for motorists to pass through. And motorists did not just pass through but they also dropped by for market shopping at the local market where  barrio folks bring their local and organic produce like vegetables, shellfish and fruits to sell.

It is in market places that i realize and get reminded again that haggling is a way of life, but unfortunately we always forget that the poor have only their pride to keep as their wealth. And so they  (the sellers) give in to the buyers haggling just so they don't loose face  if the buyer goes away empty handed only because they didn't get the price they wish to pay for the goods.  Word of advice, don't bargain persistently with the village folks specially the poor, the children and the old folks. They are there to have some money so they can buy more some important daily needs.

The tourism office at the Basilica complex and CSU Piat Campus are offering day tour packages for  a minimal fee. Mr. Benedict Sto. Tomas, a DOT Accredited tour guide and president of the  Tour Guides Association of Cagayan undertakes the bulk of doing the promotions job. Fun farms and Faith!

About fifteen minutes from Piat is the town of Sto. Nino, a town named after its church patron. A beautiful church is being constructed all through the efforts of the local folks of Sto. Nino whose more famous name is Faire.

Food is great. No, it was fantastic! And the people, greater! This I found out las May 15 during the 1st Rio Chico Festival 2017 held along the banks of the Chico River.

People described the town as a sleepy town due to its remoteness and because if its intermittent  rough roads. 

During the trips to Sto. Nino, the bounties of the town slowly opened up one by one like a shy lass from the barrio. Fun farms and faith!

After the Sto Nino visit, travelers can go to the Holy Angels Church of Tuao.

It was a surprised  seeing the Tuao Church with 400 figures of angels, aptly named the Holy Angels Parish. The church surprisingly had a differently shaped bell tower,  a six-storey brick building, only three of which was left after its renovation.

Beside the church is a room where the blessed sacrament is exposed. The holy sacrament was framed/mounted on a retablo believed to be the retablo of the original church where the image of our lady of Piat was first enthroned in Tuao before it was transferred to Piat.

After the church visit in Tuao, motorists are invited to take  the interior roads of the town and go to the Cassily Lake. There is more here than meets the eyes with a little tinkering here and there.

Millennials will be happy to note that just by doing the Piat-Sto Nino-Tuao loop, they will be able to go through three provinces in this part of the country. Some Fun and Faith trip!

What a special surprise indeed! 

Visitors  may contact Benedict at for the Fun Farm and Faith Tour in Piat. Or you may check with our favorite DOT Accredited Tour Operations in Region 2 from Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.### pictures to follow...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Watch out for my post about my TRC Membership.

In the meantime, go get a preview from here ... Help good people become rich!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pancit Batil Potun (Pancit Batil Patung)

Pancit Batil Patung Piat Style
Popularly known as Pancit Batil Patung, this noodle delicacy is very popular in Tuguegarao City, in the Province of Cagayan. No tourists are allowed to leave the city without partaking of this very filling noodle delicacy. This is also a welcome treat after a long night trip on an airconditioned bus from Manila or the Ilocos Region.

It is made from egg noodles and the “potun” which is the Ybanag word for “Patung”  in Pilipino means putting one on top of the other.

In cooking the dish, a big batch of bone stock is boiled for hours prior to the cooking of pancit.

The toppings for the original Pancit Batil Potun is ground carabao’s meat or carabeef and egg.

The taste of the pancit is better when cooking using a wok, cooked over the local “pugon”  a wood-fired local oven. The high heat makes for a fast cooking style so that when served, the pancit is piping hot.

Using a cast iron wok, the local name is “silyasi”, and using high heat, ground meat is sautéed in garlic and with local soy sauce, salt and black pepper to taste. Take note that there is no onions yet. But other panciterias are now adding as an add on. I don't know about you but i read somewhere that onion is better eaten raw.

The cook sets  the ground meat on one side of the wok while carefully pouring the bone broth, adding more soy sauce, salt and black pepper. The cook knows exactly how much bone broth is needed to cook the number of orders for pancit. This is how the panciterias also differ from each other, the amount of broth makes or breaks the bite of the noodles which will tell if the customer will be back or not. That is why it is necessary that the bone broth should be boiling in a big kettle beside the wok because when the broth is poured in the wok the noodles immediately follows the boiling bone broth to keep the ground meat from  joining the broth yet.

As the noodles are cooking, the meat gets tender on the side while the juice of the meat gets mixed with the bone broth, the eggs are cracked on another side of the wok. The number of eggs will depend on the number of orders. One egg per order or the customer can request for two eggs with the pancit. The cooking is so well timed that the cook knows just by looking at the noodles and the broth has been absorbed in the cooking. The bite of the noodles will guarantee a good pancit.
PBP Max Panciteria

In a somewhat deep plate with a pair of spoon and fork on it, the noodles are scooped using a locally designed ladle with wooden handle. On top of the noodles is the ground meat, followed by the pouch egg.

In  stylized version of the Pancit Batil Potun, some use MSG for flavoring but the taste buds of the local folks already know the difference having tasted fresh ground carabao’s meat cooked with the pancit and bone broth. Take note, for Pancit Batil Patung, everything is fresh.

PBP Jomar's
Other panciterias add fried pork belly, sausages, chorizo, chicharon and vegetables like sprouted mongo and patola. Still others bring along some pork liver to give to the cook as additional toppings.

The pancit is served with the sliced onions, either red or white, depending on what is in season with calamansi and blended with soy sauce as the customer wishes. Others put local chilis, the smaller variety, the better, with garlic, black pepper and vinegar. The customers can have as much of all the onions, calamansi and chilis.

In a little while comes  the “Batil”, a cup of soup made with  eggs scrambled on the bone broth cooked in the same wok where the pancit was cooked.

Customers can choose to eat the pancit in one form or another, others mix everything including the calamansi, fresh onions and chilis, while still others wait for the  “Batil” and pour half of it over the pancit making it look like a lomi.

The price of Pancit Batil Potun now varies depending on how many toppings you want to have in your order, but usually the best original local version is the cheapest.

The making of the egg noodles has also become a tourist attraction which is being produced by artisan noodle makers in some Panciteria’s around the city. It involves the vigorous mixing of flour and  water followed by  the rolling of a bamboo over the dough. The  pressure exerted in the rolling of the bamboo can be achieved as the man rides on it astride and jumping at a controlled rhythm from one end of the table to the other end.

The taste of the noodle varies depending on the ingredients of the water which could be a broth of some sort and/or water.

Panciterias could be a shed-type dwellings, a portion of the local home attached to the main house or a building built solely for the purpose of cooking and selling pancit. It is said that panciterias can be found in every block in the city, but some have become the locals’ favorite.

There is no picture here of the soup in a cup, because by the time the soup arrives to the customer, half of the pancit may have been devoured already and so all thoughts of taking the picture has been set aside  including the camera. 

No picture of the cooking was also posted to make you go see and experience it for yourself. PM me :-)###

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Am back... with vengeance in 2014 . . .  and am loving it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My first zipline experience

That's my back alright!
My first Zipline ride... and am gonna have seconds!

Ilagan town in Isabela has pioneered one of the most exciting manmade outdoor activities in the Cagayan Valley Region... Zipline!

As i was about to take my ride, i ask myself, how did i get myself into this thing at 47 y/o. I love outdoors yeah but putting my life in the hands of technology, ow heck! (its work dude, nobody forced me nyehehe!)

Okey, it was a leap of faith, literally, after making a hurried sign of the cross, i have to cheat really and jumped from the lowest point of the ramp, hahaha!

Opened last May 4, 2012 inside  the Ilagan Sanctuary, Ilagan, Isabela, the town is fast becoming an activity center for outdoor sports with the addition of the Zipline facility. About 350 meters long, the zipline starts from a height of 75 feet and lands at about  five feet above ground. It is said to be the fastest zipline in the country at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour moving on gravity because the area is not yet energize at the moment, scary?

At present visitors to the area come as day tourists and because it is located within a natural park, the area is very conducive for nature base activities like caving, waterfalls exploration and bathing or just lazing around the pool.

Although there are places to buy lunch and  snacks, it's better to bring your lunch for a big group or try your hands at grilling at designated areas with picnic huts.  The drinking water provided by nature has an 8.5 ph rating and so good to drink, fill up your water bottle.

Your loving it already? go to the Pinzal waterfalls and swim your heart out, or take the horse and tour the area at P100.00 for a 30 minutes ride.

There's no noise there, just getting close to nature, enjoy the birds and the bees and the monkeys. And to get uphill the zipline, take the 210 cemented steps, rest a little while to enjoy the view before plunging towards down the landing!


Monday, June 18, 2012

To immortalize this idea... am sharing the same...

My friend Adrian Panganiban showed me a letter from a Mom and Dad, and it touched me very much.
I quote it here because I want to stress the point that at the end of your life, you’ll need love more than anything in this world. 
Here’s the letter…

Please Bear With Me
Dear Child,
As I get older, please be patient with me.
When I drop things or make a mess of my food, I hope you don’t shout at me or scold me.  Please bear with me.
When my eyesight dims and I stumble along my way, or when my hearing gets really bad and I can’t hear what you say, please bear with me.
When these embarrassing and difficult times come, if you could just hold my hand and tell me that you understand… I’m sorry child, I’m getting older.  Please bear with me.
When my feet get crooked and my knees get weaker, when I fumble in my steps and I walk slower, I hope you remember the time when I taught you how to walk.  Please bear with me.
When I keep repeating my stories to you, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day, just smile and pretend I said it the first time.  Because to my failing memory, it’s really the first time I’m saying it to you.  Just remember how you repeated yourself as a child.  Remember how many times you asked, “Are we there yet?” every time we took a trip.  Or how many times you asked, “Mommy, can you buy me this toy?” whenever we were in a toystore?  Please bear with me.
When I don’t smell so nice, when I smell like an old person, please be patient with me.  When you smell something not too good from me, I hope you remember that when you were small, you used to sweat and smell too.  But I loved it because it was part of your growing up.  Well, my smells are part of my growing old.  Please bear with me.
When I get cranky or get sensitive, or when I get sentimental and moody, or when I get pushy and demanding, all these are all part of getting old.  You’ll understand when you get older.  Please bear with me.
When you have time, I hope you visit me.  Talk with me for a few minutes.  I’m always all by myself and have no one to talk to.  I know you’re busy with work but your work will always be with you, even after I’m gone.  I won’t be here forever.  Please bear with me.
Even if you’re not interested in my stories, please pretend you are. Do u remember when I used to listen to your stories about your toys, your imaginary friends, and the cartoons you watched?  Those things weren’t very interesting to me, but because they were important to you, they were important to me too.  I ask you to please bear with me.
When the time comes when I get sick and bedridden, I hope you visit me.  I’m sorry if I accidentally wet the bed or make a mess.  I hope you stay with me during the last few moments of my life.  I’m not going to last much longer anyway.  Please bear with me.
I pray for you everyday.  When I finally meet God, I will continue to mention your name to Him.
I love you.
We love you.
Please bear with me.
Mom and Dad 

 So I repeat: Invest in your relationships. 
        My fondest wish for you?
May you grow old with the people you love.
Honor your needs.

May your dreams come true, 
Bo Sanchez

Monday, May 21, 2012

In good grace part two in Isabela

For the Isabela trip, we had to be at the mini-summit on day one and then headed off to San Mariano for the release of head-started crocodiles from its rearing station  to the wilds at Dunoy Lake still in San Mariano but within the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP).

The group I was with were Zoo Keepers and animal lovers from all over the world as well as sponsors of the Philippine Crocodile Conservation Efforts since 1999. We were all ready to rough it out in the wilds for the sake of the Philippine Crocodile, and indeed we all had a great time sleeping on tents and riding on specially crafted six wheeler trucks over mountains and hills!

The Philippines have saltwater or estuarine crocs and freshwater crocs or the Crocodylus Mindorensis. For this project, the foundation is specifically takes care of the freshwater crocs. They are small (3 meters for male and 2.5 meters for the female) and are endemic to the Philippines. They are now endangered because of hunting and deforestation since they live in freshwater wetlands, creeks, rivers and marshes. They feed on insects, snails, fish, birds and small animals. The presence of a large number of people in the areas where they live impacts strongly on their habitat being lost especially to large scale farming like kaingin or slash and burn.

The release of 12 crocs at Dunoy Lake was the highlight of the trip as seen in the pictures
At the end of the trip, the reward was not just the freshwater crocodile experience but the bird watching accounts were also very promising.

The release of crocodiles

Mr. Chris Banks

Juvenile crocs feel good!

Mr. Shaun, the coke guy of NatGeo

Mr. Lacoste is peeling a ficus fruit and gave it around to taste after
By now I have held five crocodylus mindorensis since I started working with the Mabuwaya Foundation through Merlijn Van Weerd.  Will write my press release at the :)