The Pride of Aliwan Fiesta 2011

Over 5,000 dancers, musicians, and artisans gather in Manila to compete for the annual Aliwan Fiesta. Think of the most celebrated festivals all over the Philippines, including the streetdancing, costumes, and vibes. They're all here in Manila to showcase their winning performances. And the best part - we can watch it for free! ^_^

Im thankful Dom invited me to witness it this year. Else, tatamarin na naman ako pumunta. We arrived in Quirino Grandstand 2 hours prior the event, just in time to mingle & talk with the participants, and take photos of course.

(as the competition proper started, Dom and I jumped over the bakod, looked for a good seat, and just watched the performances)

Hermosa Festival of Zamboanga

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Kampamagayon Festival

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Sosogon Festival of Sorsogon City

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Lembuhong Festival of South Cotabato

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Calacatchara Festival of Batangas

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Ibon Ebon Festival of Candaba, Pampanga

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Tribu Pantat, Kasadyahan Festival of Iloilo

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Kalimudan Festival of Sultan Kudarat

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Kalilangan Festival of General Santos

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Pakalog Festival of Pasig City

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Every performance is a feast in the eyes, but this one's the most outstanding. My jaw dropped upon watching them. Super showmanship!

all eyes on Dinagyang

all natural hair -wigs not needed!

in character agad siya!

yosi break muna

men from the province look very appealing, agree? ^_^

the winning getup - head over feet

+ ○ + ○ + ○ + ○ +

Aside from the colorful costumes and props, and the impressive performances - it's more overwhelming to know that:
- the participants have arrived in Manila as early as April 7. That's 9 days prior the competition.
- they reached Manila via bus! (very long road trip from Mindanao, grabe!)
- public schools around the metro become their temporary homes. (not very comfortable at all)
- their respective local governments sponsor their food and fare.
- the kids have daily allowances.
- the kids cant roam around Manila yet, not until the competition is over. (sana nakapag-OceanPark sila before going home)
- a teacher is assigned to 7-8 students, and she's liable if that student made a mistake while performing (seryoso talaga sila to make this perfect!)
- incomparable dedication makes everyone of them a winner.
- winning the competition is never about the prize - it's all about the PRIDE.

my Iloilo, my city
my Dinagyang, my Pride
winner of Aliwan Fiesta 2011

No wonder, Dom and I got interested to be part of their winning team!

Thank you Dom! Next time yung real thing na! Or if not, please invite me to your future trips - down south, yes? Salamat at Ayu-ayu! =)

1st part of audition palang - failed na! =)

waves to Sidney Snoeck and Enrico Dee, nice meeting you!

please let me know if anything needs to be corrected here

Hesitant Solo Female Traveler? Not Anymore!

As I chanced upon blogs and forums about Pinays who travel solo, I cant help but be impressed. Those Pinays must be really so gutsy to do that. It never crossed my mind to travel alone but in an instance, my heart began pounding for a solo travel too.

And so the plan was born.

I crossed out Bohol, Cebu, Boracay, Puerto Galera, and Baguio in my options. I've already been to these places, besides I dont find any thrilling adventures on these spots. I wanted to risk more and enjoy more. The one place that stood out for me was Sagada. It's not an easy breezy chillax travel destination. I've never been there. I dont know anyone from Sagada. It's a 12-hour bus ride from Manila, and the adventures are only for the strong-willed. Sagada is just perfect for my 1st ever solo travel.

Sounds easy? Trust me, it's not.

Everything was set, but up to the last minute I admit I wanted to back out. The thought of being sick, being in danger, and being helpless while being away from everybody who knows me freaked me out.
I just wanted to cancel everything I planned. I was scared.

to go or not to go?

If you're looking to buy a camera for your travels, try using these Dell Coupons.

Im still hesitant on the day of my Sagada trip. I knew I dont have to prove anything to myself and to others- but I badly wanted to experience this now else I might regret this big time. I know I may got sick, be in danger, and be bored, but I wouldn't know all of these unless I pursue this trip.

Fast forward.
I closed my eyes, prayed, took a deep breath, and left our house. Took a bus and arrived in Sagada. Survived the 6-hour Cave Connection in Lumiang + Sumaguing, trekked the mighty Bomod-Ok falls, saw the Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins upclose, learned their rich culture, and tasted their most raved specialties.

I was never the adventurous type. But my being alone taught me not to complain and throw tantrums at all (who would care anyway if I do? Im alone!). I was never fond of talking to locals too. But in this case, I was forced to. That made me understand that traveling is more than just seeing the beautiful spots. It's actually allowing yourself to learn and be part of the place.

This solo travel gave me the chance to discover about myself more, interact and immerse with the locals, appreciate the quiet-me-time, and remind me that my happiness must never be dependent with anyone but myself.

as my souvenir shirt says:
I survived Sagada alone!

So if you're to ask me what are the hardest parts of my 1st solo travel?
1st, it's convincing myself that everything will be just fine. 2nd, stepping out of our house while erasing all the paranoia in my head.
..and nothing more.
After Ive overcome these, I traveled alone to Ilocos, Vietnam, and Cambodia too. Looks like Im not a hesitant solo female traveler anymore! ^_^

This post is my contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers' Blog Carnival for the month of April with the theme Thoughts of a Solo Traveler.

Compilation will be hosted by Philippine Blog Awards Best Travel Blog Winner of 2010 - Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering.

My First SSS Salary Loan

After working for 4 different companies in 4 years (that means paying for my premium SSS contributions for 4 years even if I dont want to)- finally Im able to use my Loan Benefit for the 1st time.

For 1st timers, as long as you have 36 posted monthly contributions, you're qualified to loan.

I just submitted a photocopy of my SSS ID + the accomplished SSS loan form to our HR department, and nothing more. I waited for 1.5 weeks and whoala - I received my cheque! Effortless!

im 13,350 feysus richer! ^_^
1 item down in my To-Do-List this 2011

The voucher must be submitted to the payroll for the monthly payment via salary deduction. But I didn't submit mine. May balak kasi akong magresign -very soon! So there, I just disclosed my company name for the 1st time.

And BTW, I kept forgetting to mention - officemate ko na si Calvin's Hub! Sana manalo ko sa pa-raffle mo, or if not, makatikim sana ako ng pizza sa 1st payday mo! =)

Cafe Ilang Ilang @ The Manila Hotel

For a super early birthday treat, Rob and I indulged at Manila Hotel's newly-renovated restaurant Cafe Ilang-Ilang.

Manila Hotel's buffet rates are not so friendly to start with. It's actually more expensive than Dusit Thani's Crossover and EDSA Shangri-La's HEAT. But later on we did understand why. Here are 3 words for you - nine buffet stations! The selection is really overwhelming.

Cafe Ilang Ilang | Manila Hotel Buffet rates:
Lunch: P1,550++
Dinner: P1,770++

Ready for another Food Porn session?

Food Porn | Cafe Ilang Ilang Edition
my struggle shots using Rob's Olympus E-P1

bread and cheese

salad station

+ + +

appetizers galore


+ + +

make your own pasta

pizza variaties

popcorn shrimp

+ + +

prime ribs

peking duck

+ + +

chinese noodle soup

siomai and hakaw

sauteed shrimp and veggies

pork belly

seafood paella

+ + +

prawn tempura

shrimp teriyaki

sushi and sashimi rolls

+ + +

indian something - hehe

After roaming the whole place, it's time to eat.

light meal first

shrimp and 4-cheese pizza +popcorn shirmp
actually i already eaten a slice while roaming the place. =)

pesto pasta with shrimp and salmon
i like pesto. i like shrimps and salmon. so this dish cant go wrong!

ribs + grilled salmon
ribs-bland for my taste. salmon-perfect.
and i discovered i love those asparagus. very tasty.

again, walang tempura na hindi masarap

Im so full, but I cant miss my favorite crepe with ice cream!

crepe station

sweetness towers

ferrero and walnut gelato for me

heavenly as expected
cant get enough of ferrero and walnut gelato

Next, cakes and pastries.

dessert delight

choco cake + gelato part 2 + mango cream
i also had sansrival, hindi lang photogenic so i scrapped that from this picture

Very satisfying. My tea of choice- Chamomile, is also served for free.
We underestimated Manila Hotel's buffet. Never hesitate to buy some Cafe Ilang Ilang discount vouchers if there any ongoing promo. Super sulit!

And by the way, why not experience a night here in this historical hotel?

comfy king sized bed with lots of pillow, LCD tv,
computer desk, small dining area, vintage ambiance

spacious bathroom with tub, with waterproof tv on the wall

so did I had a great time in this historical hotel?


Now we know why Manila Hotel is still one of the premiere hotels in the Philippines.

Thank you Rob. Ang sosyal ng ating super ahead birthday celebrations!
Next time dadalhin ko na camera ko para di nako magreklamong di ko alam gamitin yung Oympus mo. =)

Manila Hotel
One Rizal Park, 1099 Manila, Philippines

(632) 5270011
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