Category Archives: Places

#343 Binagol

Photo by Backpacking Philippines


Binagol (BEE-Nah-GOL) is a Waray dessert made from a mixture of talyan (a type of root crop similar to gabi), coconut milk and sugar placed or poured into coconut shells or “bagol” (in Waray) and then steamed until cooked.

Binagol, although mostly made in Dagami town, can be found and are sold in Tacloban City and other parts of eastern Leyte region. With a ‘coco-nutty’ sweet taste, binagol is a popular food souvenir for visitors. The coconut shell not only makes an attractive, ecologically-sound packaging but also preserves the freshness of binagol. One can also eat directly from the coconut shell, making this dessert a very handy, filling and tasty snack-on-the-go.

Mabuhay ang binagol!

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#342 Magellan’s Cross

Wikipedia Photo


Magellan’s Cross, located in Magellanes Street in Cebu City, is considered as one of the city’s major historical landmarks.

In 1521 the Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, ordered his men to erect the original large wooden cross at the location where Cebu’s Rajah Humaton, his wife Juana, and 800 followers were baptised on April 14, 1521. The first Catholic mass in Cebu (in fact, the first Catholic mass in the Philippines) was also celebrated in the same site.

The original cross deteriorated over the years when the Catholic faithful took little pieces of the cross as mementos. In 1845 another cross was placed at the spot. The new cross was made of tindalo wood and inside a hollow splinters of the original Magellan’s Cross were preserved.

Today a tiled pavilion shelters the cross and a mural on the ceiling depicts the scene of the first mass and commemorates the conversion of the first Filipinos to Christianity.

Magellan’s Cross is a symbol of Cebu, and the chapel’s image can be found in its city seal. It is also considered as the symbol of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines. (Wikipedia and other sources).

Mabuhay ang Cebu!

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#341 Pulilan Carabao Festival

A decorated carabao at the Pulilan Festival, Photo by Sidney Snoeck

Hundreds of work animals, mostly carabaos, are led on a parade in the streets of the town of Pulilan in Bulacan province every May 14 and 15 to honor its patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. The carabaos decorated with garland and shaved for the occasion, genuflect or kneel in front of the church. 

Visitors can witness the colorful Carabao Festival and other religious activities on May 14 when farmers all over the town pay tribute to San Isidro Labrador for a bountiful thanksgiving. The celebration includes hanging all sorts of fruits, candies, food crops and multi-colored kipings on bamboo poles. The affairs is highlighted by the kneeling of carabaos in front of the church and the symbolic floats. Every year, droves of San Isidro devotees flock to Pulilan to witness and join the festivities (Excerpted from the Province of Bulacan website).

Mabuhay ang Pulilan Carabao Festival!

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#340 EDSA Shrine

The EDSA Shrine

The Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA, or more popularly, the EDSA Shrine is a small church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila located at the intersection of Ortigas Avenue and Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Quezon City.

The shrine was built in 1989 originally to commemorate the memories of the People Power Revolution and its peaceful outcome. The shrine and the small church stand on the site of two peaceful demonstrations that toppled Philippine presidents Ferdinand Marcos (the People Power Revolution or EDSA I) and Joseph Estrada (the EDSA Revolution of 2001 or EDSA II). It is officially called the “Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace” or “Our Lady of Peace Quasi-Parish”, although these names are seldom used.

The Statue of Mary triggered a minor controversy when it was first unveiled in 1989 due to its mammoth proportions, and what its detractors say the lack of ‘gracefulness’ in terms of line. It earned the humorous nickname ‘Daing Lady’ probably due to its shape that recalls the daing or dried fish, a fish staple for many low-income Filipinos. The EDSA Shrine is part of the Ortigas Center, a complex of office buildings and commercial centers that occupy large tracts of land in portions of Quezon City, Mandaluyong City, and Pasig City (WikiPilipinas and other sources).

Long live the EDSA spirit!

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#338 Arroceros Forest Park

The Arroceros Forest Park is located near the MacArthur Bridge, next to the Manila Metropolitan Theater in downtown Manila.

The small park or garden is one of the few ‘green lungs’ in congested Manila and has drawn its share of  controversy when city officials attempted to close the park in preparation for plans to convert the lot for other uses.

Today the Arroceros Forest Park is a oasis of calm in downtown Manila. Although it was given to the City Schools of Manila Division during the term of Mayor Atienza, the park has recently been promised back by mayor-elect Mayor Lim to it’s former caretakers, the Winners Foundation.

 Environmentalists and Cultural Heritage advocates in Manila are delighted that the park can now be opened up to the public and that the foundation can once again continue their efforts to re-green a lot that was once occupied by an office building until the 1980’s.  (From: Various Internet sources)

Long live the Arroceros Forest Park!

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#337 Lopez Museum

The Lopez Museum is a Philippine art and history museum and library located in Pasig City, Philippines. Founded on 13 February 1960 by Eugenio Lopez  in honor of his parents, Lopez built the museum to provide scholars and students access to his personal collection of rare Filipiniana books, manuscripts, maps, archaeological artifacts and fine art.

 Lopez was known to many as a leading industrialist of post-World War II Philippines. With resources that came from sugar production, he pioneered in diverse fields of business including transportation (bus, taxicab and air transport operations), mass media (ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation and The Manila Chronicle), energy (MERALCO) becoming one of the first Filipino successes in business in a then largely American dominated economy.

A staunch nationalist, Eugenio Lopez believed that by preserving and promoting the Filipino heritage, his countrymen would eventually develop sense of national pride and enable the country to develop a unified spirit ultimately resulting in ensuring a strengthening of a collective national soul in the succeeding generations.

The Lopez Museum’s Library  consists of over 19,000 Filipiniana titles by about 12,000 authors and preserves  an invaluable collection of Philippine incunabula, rare books, manuscripts, dictionaries, literary works in Western and vernacular languages, religious tracts, periodicals, newspapers, coffee table volumes, academic treatises, contemporary writing, maps, archival photographs, cartoons and microfilms.  The museum is housed at the ground floor of the Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Avenue, Pasig City (Excerpted from Wikipedia).

Mabuhay ang Lopez Museum!

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#335 Lucban Church

The present Lucban Church or Basilica actually sits on the ruins of the previous churches on the same site. The first one was built in 1595 and was destroyed in 1629, and a second church was constructed between 1630 and 1640 but was seriously damaged by fire in 1738. 

The present church was completed in 1738 and the convent in 1743. The church has exquisite architectural details, and the façade retains the familiar old Spanish style of Catholic churches in the Philippines. Unfortunately little maintenance work is being done to preserve the integrity of the church.  On the right side of the church is the site of the La Casa de Doña Ana, a big “bahay na bato” (house made of stone) – an architectural style for houses built for well-off Filipino families during the Spanish colonial period.  

Mabuhay ang Lucban Basilica!

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#334 Coconut Palace

Love it or hate it, the Coconut Palace, also known as Tahanang Pilipino (Filipino Home), is one of the many controversial building projects by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

The Coconut Palace, located at the Cultural Center Complex along Roxas Boulevard in Manila, was supposedly built for Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1981. However, the pope declined the offer, saying that it was too ostentatious a place to stay. The Palace’s architect Francisco Mañosa, later claimed that the Coconut Palace – a showpiece on the versatility of the coconut and its viability as an export – was planned long before the Pope even decided to visit the country.

Built in 1978, the Coconut Palace is made of several types of fine Philippine hardwood, coconut shells, and a specially engineered coconut lumber called ‘Imelda Madera.’ Each of the suites on the second floor is named after a specific region of the Philippines and displays some of the handicrafts these regions produce. The palace is shaped like an octagon while the roof is in the form of a traditional Filipino salakot or farmer’s hat. Some of its highlights are the 101 coconut shell chandelier, and the dining table made of 40,000 tiny pieces of inlaid coconut shells.

The palace celebrates the coconut as the ultimate “Tree of Life.” From the coconut’s roots to its trunk, bark, fruit, flower and shell, the palace’s design, form and ornamentation echo these elements. Today the Coconut Palace is a museum, with a butterfly garden and an orchidarium. The building is undergoing major renovations and news reports say  that it maybe used as the office and official residence of the Vice President of the Philippines. (Source: Wikipedia)

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#333 Peñafrancia Festival

River procession during the Penafrancia Festival

Tens of thousands of pilgrims, devotees, tourists come to Naga City, Bicol province, Philippines every September for a nine-day festivities in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the Patroness of Bicol, endearingly addressed by Bicolanos as “Ina” (Filipino for ‘mother’).

The festivities begin with the famous Traslacion procession during which the images of the Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) are brought by barefooted male voyadores from the Basilica through the main streets of the city to the Cathedral. This procession, which usually lasts for four hours attracts thousands of devotees from all over the country.  A colorful fluvial procession is also one of the highlights, with thousands gathering by the river banks to witness the river crossing.

The devotion started 300 years ago, in 1710, when Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias had an image carved, a chapel built and processions held in honor of the miraculous image of the Virgin of Peñafrancia due to the many favors he received through the help of the Virgin. Since then the devotion has grew and has even reached abroad. Devotees’ accounts of healing and favors received through her intercession helped spread the devotion. 2010 marks the festival’s 300th year.

Long live Philippine Festivals!

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#332 Anawangin Cove

A famous destination for fervent campers in Zambales province is the Anawangin Cove near the coastal village of Pundaquit in the town of San Antonio. Anawangin Cove has a rough, ash-colored beach (it is not white sand as a lot of people claim it to be) lined with Agoho Trees (Casuarina equisetifolia l.) – a large, evergreen, straight and tall tree resembling a pine tree.

These trees, which makes the place unique, stretch inland and the seeds of the trees were said to be brought by ash expelled by Mt. Pinatubo. There are no roads leading to Anawangin. It is only accessible by a 30 minute boat ride from Pundaquit, or by a six-hour trek through hot, open trails through the Pundaquit range.

The cove’s relative isolation has kept it free from development – as of this writing, there are no resorts on this sparkling piece of natural beauty, save for a few huts and deep wells. Just behind the beach is the pine forest and a marsh, where one can find natural springs feeding to the sea. The area is home to a number of bird species.

Mabuhay ang Anawangin Cove!


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