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Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gaga Over MassKara

When choosing my next destination, I avoid festivals because it's harder to get an accommodation and the streets become too crowded. Though I've been hearing about the MassKara festival of Bacolod from friends for quite some time, I've always listened passively (buking! :P), dismissing the idea of booking a flight just to watch  people dancing on the streets.

This changed when I saw some clips of the MassKara festival on You Tube. The colors, the lively dancing, the beat of the music - they were amazing!  As someone who moves a lot, I felt drawn to this celebration. Everything was vibrant and the energy I see from the movements and faces of the dancers were infectious! Plus - it's held in a place referred to as the City of Smiles which sounds even more attractive to curious, giggly backpackers such as myself.   

The roots of the MassKara Festival began in 1980, a year before I was born. Through the collaboration of local artists, civic groups and LGU's,  a celebration was created to motivate and uplift the spirits of the people who were amidst crisis at the time. Sugar, Negros Occidental's main product was on its lowest price at the world market and Don Juan, a passenger ship, had sunk taking the lives of about 700 Negrenses. (Info. from The MassKara Festival Website)

Though the MassKara Festival has digressed  from its initial purpose, the celebration continued as a way to give thanks for the blessings they have received. It's been a tough but blessed year for me too with several new projects on my plate and I want to join the BacoleƱos and Negrenses in their merriment as I move farther down the year and mingle with people who face challenges with a  strong attitude and huge smile. 

Much as I wanted to come-up with poetic ways to express why I wanted to experience the MassKara Festival, my reasons are quite simple:

1. I've never been to Bacolod. It's actually part of my "Must Go" list because I've read that  their cuisine is legendary. As a true-blue foodie,  the promise of great food is enough reason to go already,  hehe!

2. I'm good with crowds. I acquired most of my tackling skills from playing  fullback in our school's football varsity.  I can negotiate my way expertly in tight situations - having some practice from riding the MRT and my once in a while trip to Quiapo. But since this is a festival and tackling people is unnecessary, I promise to behave myself and always say "Excuse me",  (before pushing someone out of the way :P)

3. I can't dance but I am gutsy. Thus if the need arises and I need to substitute someone for a dance routine, I am all for it!

4. Can't sing either, but as with #4, I can also perform if required. Haha!

Hope to see you this year, Bacolod! 
Logo downloaded from the MassKara Festival Official Website 
Experience MassKara Festival, Hermosa Festival and Lanzones Festival this October. Airphil Express flies daily to BACOLOD, ZAMBOANGA and CAGAYAN DE ORO from Cebu and Manila. Visit www.airphilexpress.com to book!

This post was prepared as an entry to Air Philippines, Pick-A-Fest. 

Need more information on MassKara Festival? Click on any of the MassKara Festival links on this post. You will get directed to its official website. :) 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cheap Sunday Thrill

On days when the pockets are low on cash, my refuge are places in nearby cities that offer clean air, refreshing views and comfort food. 

Such destination is the UP Diliman campus in Quezon City. One of the Philippines'  state universities is open to the public and Sunday is when some of the roads are closed to give way to joggers, runners & bikers.

I was there last weekend with a friend, supposedly for a training run.  Both of us were not able to exercise much during the work week and needed to sweat it off,  but we ended up walking around for about two hours -  mostly chatting, laughing and uhm devouring the fine offerings at the various  food stalls conveniently placed at the side of the road. I had taho (yum, haven't eaten that for quite some time!) and  steamed corn (yummm, I missed that!).

After about 3 or 4 rounds down the usual running route, my friend brought me to what she referred to as the stall with the "Best Siomai in UP Diliman". As a foodie who is head over heels in love with steamed pork dumplings, no prodding was required. I feel elated at the thought of siomai! I eat it regularly but each bite always feels like the first time I had it. Just the thought makes me smile. Haha!

The attractive green stall  is in front of the Architecture building  and has the friendliest siomai vendor ever.  I was told that she's a good listener and students would often tell her about their teenage angsts and other issues.  Four pieces cost 30 Pesos, which is higher than your usual siomai around the corner but it was worth it! There's quail eggs inside (which was a downside for me because I can't consume that much egg) but it was good, garlic was crunchy and service was excellent.  Aside from siomai, they also offer snacks, softdrinks, juices, Figaro coffee in sachets (yes, I am not kidding!) and more. I miss this place already. 

After our siomai stopover, we continued our walk around UP. We reached Laurel Street, which is an entire block lined up with food stalls in front of homes. It was heaven! How I envy  the people who live here and walk out of their house every morning and enjoy the convenience of having nearby comfort food. My eyes gazed longingly at this stall which sells Yang Chow and Siomai, it was closed though  so I am meant to go back some other time.  :P

Our final stopover was Maginhawa street which is at the nearby Teacher's Village just outside the campus.  This popular street is filled it with food establishments on both sides of the street. It was a long walk from where we were, but worth it. We decided to check out The Burger Project, which lets you  take charge of what you want in your burgers with their array of choices from buns, patties, right down to the dressings and add-ons. 95 Pesos could get you a huge piece of good burger. They have tofu patties for those who do not eat meat so I  recommend it to everyone! :)  

After chatting, munching and laughing some more, we decided to call it a day so we can finally head home and bathe.  Though I was not able to train as much as I wanted,  I consider it a fulfilling day - both literally and figuratively. Besides, no amount of exercise can beat a great chat, excellent companionship and lotsa laughter for less than 500 Pesos. :)

Travel Info. :
How to get to UP Diliman - visit Commute.PH for directions.
The Burger Project Facebook Account

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