Earlier, I had written about my word for 2011–DISCOVER. [See: My word for 2011: What's yours?] To fully give justice to this fantastic year, I’m putting together photos that speak exactly about how this year has been for me:
New York’s word is ‘ACHIEVE’, while Rome’s is ‘SEX’—or at least that’s according to Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ which recounts her experiences in Rome, India, and Bali after a failed marriage (of course you all know about that).
The book’s title could easily have been ‘Rome, India, Bali,’ except that this use of single words to summarize anything—a person, period in one’s life, and places—offered a more creative and poignant alternative, thus, Eat, Pray, Love.
Before 2011 closes, let me take a leaf from Gilbert’s book and share with you my word for 2011:
Discover (duh, what a no-brainer).
But as unthought-of as it sounds, DISCOVER is my year’s word (it could easily have been FIRSTS, but I’d opt for discover since it’s a lot less suggestive).
All my travels for this year had been for the first time—Iloilo, Banaue, Malaysia, Boracay, Davao, and Bacolod—and aside from a loadful of photos, these places gave me a great headstart into my lifelong dream of being on the road taking photos. At this point, I can also think of the word PIVOTAL, but sounds too stiff, don’t you think?
I had also discovered I could outgrow some of my nastiest habits if I really put my mind into it, or so I think, one of which is not saving up. Well, I’m nowhere closer to having a fat bank account—far from it, actually—but I would like to think that I had managed to suppress an impulsive consumerist attitude to make way for more sound investments for my future, no matter how small (and to that, the word PRUDENT comes to mind).
Not too long ago, I also received a simple advice during one of those life-altering moments of my life. “Have a goal. And do everything to achieve that goal.” It sounded so simplistic—nay, too generic of an advice to be taken seriously. But it had struck me because it was too true—I needed a goal, badly, because I didn’t have one. All I had was ANGST.
And 2011 is the year of discovering that goal and making headway into achieving it—taking my two passions together, writing and taking photos, to different places and discovering all the good it can bring. It leaves much to chance, but this is the Universe telling me that I only have to do one thing: put my heart in the right place. One word: FAITH.
This year had not been good; it had been GREAT, greater than expected, in fact. I attribute it to a clearer perspective that had made everything else fall into place.
Three lessons 2011 taught me: dream, never settle, and discover.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
January is all about starting things right, and because it also happens to be festival month, it’s all about starting loudly as well.
Theoretically, it will take you four years to see all four festivals happening next month—the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila (January 8), the Ati-Atihan in Aklan (January 14 and 15), the Sinulog in Cebu (January 14 and 15), and the Dinagyang in Iloilo (January 21 and 22). Assuming you ask me where to head first among the four, I’d definitely shove you to Iloilo, the home of Dinagyang, the best I have seen yet (gone to Masskara, Kadayawan, and of course, Panagbenga, but Dinagyang is still king. Of all the four January festivals, however, I’ve only been to Dinagyang and the Black Nazarene, and the latter is a religious procession and does not include the merrymaking typical in the other three. Will be seeing Sinulog for the first time next year AND going back to Iloilo right after for Dinagyang).
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DINAGYANG
The highlights of Dinagyang happen on a weekend (same as all other major festivals I’ve visited this year), specifically the third weekend of January. In 2012, it will be on the 21st and 22nd.
NAMES TO REMEMBER:
- Freedom Grandstand, Iloilo Capitol, La Paz Rotunda, and Iloilo Sports Complex. These are the four judging areas where performers of both events will dance. There are seats allotted in each of these locations, but you’ll have to purchase tickets. According to Ms. Pearl Lena of the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, the following are the ticket prices: P1,200 (Freedom Grandstand), P800 (La Paz Rotunda), and P300 (Iloilo Sports Complex). The Iloilo Capitol tickets, according to her, are not for sale.
- Iznart and JM Basa. This is part of the stretch closed during the festival where you can eat everything from chicken inasal to batchoy, as well as and buy souvenir masks. The festival fair is actually very long but Iznart and JM Basa Streets are nearest the Freedom Grandstand and Iloilo Capitol grounds should you be watching the performances in those areas.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE 2012 DINAGYANG. Next year, revelers can witness the performers dancing along the streets en route to the festival areas (unlike last year when they performed only in the judging areas via carousel route). So if you are unable to secure tickets or simply want to watch on the streets, you are free to do so (see parade route below).
- Why should you buy tickets though? Tickets are provided for spectators so you get to see the dancers the way the judges do, and compared to their performance in the streets, those done in the judging areas may be expectedly better (but then again that’s just me thinking out loud). Iloilo can get really hot, and when you factor in the crowds, you might be better off seated to enjoy the show better.
- Which spot is the best? During the Dinagyang 2011, we were able to secure a media pass and were assigned to the Iloilo Capitol judging area (although we requested for the Freedom Grandstand in our applications, because it’s the biggest one). It was a breeze shooting at the Capitol because there weren’t many people in it. The bleachers allotted for spectators were only half full. Next year, however, the Iloilo Sports Complex, which has a bigger capacity, will replace the Freedom Grandstand as the last (and biggest) judging area.
OTHER FRIENDLY REMINDERS
- Be. Early. Both events take place in the morning, starting around 8 AM until noon or 1 PM. Since normal routes are suspended, and the parade route is closed entirely to vehicular traffic (except sikads or pedicabs), you would still need to walk a sizeable distance to your desired spot. Crowds start to thicken by 8 AM so make sure you’re there by 7 AM. AND, the walking will not hurt as much because the sun’s not yet too harsh.
- Ditch the heels.
This is not a pageant. I’m used to walking because I’m from Baguio, but the walking we did in Iloilo was impossible. If you’re coming from Gaisano Mall—the nearest jeepney stop from the Jaro side—it will take you about 25 minutes to reach the Freedom Grandstand by foot, but you can always hire a pedicab to take you as near as the Iloilo Capitol from Gaisano, saving you 15 minutes of walking (drivers charge as little as P10 each). There’s never a shortage of food and water in Iloilo, so whatever energy you expend will be quickly rewarded with even better tasting food.
- Scout for hotels near the cordoned-off area.Iloilo is rife with accommodation options but since you’re going to have to walk almost every time, get one near the closed area (see the map below for the streets). Make reservations now to avail of the cheaper rooms in the nicer hotels. Competition for the best deals is going to be more difficult come January.
Once you’re in Ilonggo land, you can do much more than see Dinagyang. And because year-round fares to Iloilo are relatively cheaper than Tagbilaran, Puerto Princesa, Caticlan, etc., there’s no stopping you from making the most out of this wonderful Visayan gateway, but more on that in another post that’s soon to come.
In the meantime, you can consult this guide I put together. Print it if you will. Hope to see you in Dinagyang next month!
- Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation
- Dinagyang Festival Facebook page (unofficial)
- Explore Iloilo
- My post on the 2011 Kasadyahan Festival
- My post on the 2011 Ati competition
- My post on what else to do in Iloilo
- Videos of winning tribes in the 2011 Aticompetition
- For photographers and bloggers: the 2012 Media Accreditation Form download
- Ati-atihan: ‘Little Warriors’ by Flipped Out.
- Sinulog: 2010 photo contest grand street parade photo by Mikhail Arrogante
January is, for me, the biggest festival month in the country. Sinulog, Ati-atihan, and Dinagyang are all happening on the first month of the year, not to mention the Black Nazarene procession on the first Sunday of the month, which would be January 8, 2012.
For those who want to experience Dinagyang–which in my books is still the festival to beat–here’s the Media Accreditation Form from the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation.
Accreditation is open to members of the media, photography organizations, and bloggers. I’ll be writing a guide to Dinagyang in the next couple of days but in the meantime, secure the necessary signatures early on should you need them. Dinagyang is a must-see, I tell you.
Here are my Dinagyang 2011 photos to give you an idea what’s in store for you in Iloilo on January 21 and 22, 2012:
When in Iloilo, walk
Hala Bira Iloilo!
Frolicking in Iloilo’s Kasadyahan
You go to Davao for durian, but then sometimes you don’t.
For those of us (yes, us) who do not quite delight in the fruit, Davao has a surprisingly pleasant gastronomic diversion: all-you-can-eat everything. Even more, this city seems to put much thought to crabs, and unlike their counterparts elsewhere, these shelled orange delights come in relatively affordable prices.
Thanks to some online research and a local travel magazine, we were led to what was supposed to be one of Davao’s all-you-can-eat-crab haunts: Glamour Restaurant ‘n Caterer. Do not let the name fool you into thinking, though, that it is anywhere near Sofitel’s Spiral. Glamour, if I may be quite frank, does not have the trappings of a five-star hotel’s dinner buffet, contrary to its name. It’s roughly the size of a studio apartment and holds around 30 people at a time (thus, you have to reserve your seats beforehand). Painted in light shades of orange and green, it’s far from posh. It’s airconditioned, and the downside to this is the whole place smells of crab. Now, we all love crab meat and fat and all that, but we don’t want to be smelling crab now, do we?
Crabs bigger than my already big hands, yes they are.
A dinner buffet at Glamour (they open at 6 PM) will set you back Php 390 (around $9) per person. Aside from the all-you-can-eat (before-you-die-of-cholesterol) crabs, Glamour gives two to three other main viands—in our case, roast chicken and another beef dish I cannot remember—along with all-you-can-eat rice. They also have a variety of sweet treats for dessert (maja blanca, biko, brownies, etc) as well as fresh fruits and salad. You have to pay for your drinks though. The other dishes, including the desserts, were not particularly magical.
But the crabs more than made up for it. Cooked with gata and swimming in aligue, these steaming hot crustaceans are served dozens at a time. Personally, I like crabs just steamed, but Glamour’s rich-tasting recipe is a welcome change to an already-well-loved dish. The crabs were humongous; the amount of crab meat in a single serving can actually rival your average chicken leg.
Good things, however, have their ways of stripping you of energy, patience, and giving you all possible forms of physical torment even before you can enjoy them. In our case, this included an hour spent walking under the 12-noon heat but not finding the restaurant (and thus ending up eating in another restaurant, which was not so much a compromise because of the excellent food, but more on that later). Having resolved to get our plane tickets’ worth, we went for a second run in the afternoon after a quick trip to Samal Island [See: Two hours in Samal] and swore we would have nothing but crabs for dinner. But this resulted in yet another round of getting lost (and testy tempers in between) and getting soaked in the rain.
Turns out, if we had found it earlier at lunchtime, we would have been thoroughly disappointed, for the restaurant opens at 6 PM.
Testimonials of satisfied customers occupy half a wall inside the buffet restaurant.
We looked like we were gatecrashing a family party. The place, at least for that day, had balloons and other hanging trinkets that would give Ronald McDonald a run for his money. Just above the buffet table hung a tarpaulin greeting us a Happy Kadayawan (which explains the enthusiastic decor, I guess). On one side rests a huge tarpaulin where apparently satisfied diners have placed their generous comments on the restaurant. But as I had said, the crabs did not disappoint–and nothing else really mattered, at least to our needy stomachs.~
WITHOUT GETTING LOST
Have yourself dropped off at Sampaguita Inn 2 along Camus St. From there, Glamour is just 30 steps away. Note: There are 2 Sampaguita Inns along Camus. Sampaguita Inn 2 is the newer building, and that’s the one nearer Glamour (because it was Kadayawan and the traffic route was different, we decided to take a cab for easier navigation).
Glamour is just one of the many–and I mean many–buffet restaurants in Davao City. We also ate at Kuya Ed’s just in front of the hotel we were staying. I was, however, unimpressed with the food, and there was just too many people when we went there (which was a Sunday). We had to wait for
10 15 minutes to get a cramped space to eat. But at a surprising P135 each, I really would not have expected anything more. If you don’t like 1) crowds 2)crowds and 3)crowds, then you’re better off elsewhere with much better food. Trust me, Davao has lots more (and better) to offer. And for that, you can consult this list.
But Davao is more than just that. One of the more popular attractions in this big city is its annual festival, Kadayawan.
The MassKara Festival is Bacolod City’s annual festival of masks, conceived to lift up the spirits of the people from an economic crisis. Today, the smiling masks of MassKara are a perfect fit to Bacolod City’s moniker, the Philippines’ City of Smiles.
Bacolod City is located in Negros Occidental, Philippines. It is an hour’s plane ride away from the capital Manila. From Iloilo City, it is an hour’s ferry ride away. It is also the land of the chicken inasal, ube piaya, Silay’s ancestral houses, and The Ruins.