Is Masskara Worth Going To?

image

I have been observing the Masskara festival since the early 1990s. I say observing coz I never participated in the events, I look forward to the eating, drinking and socializing. It’s be Sem Break so the students would be back. Negrenses take time out to bring over and entertain non-Negrense friends and make sure they have a good time.

I recall only once did I watch the street dancing in the heat. I had to park far then walked to the street dancing area. Luckily I’m tall so I can see no problem. Others had to stand atop their pickups to get a good view. During that time, the only mask one could buy was that of the Power Rangers. Your choices were red, yellow or green. Seeing the street dancing once is enough. Listening to “La Bamba” about 20 times as each baranggay danced to the same tune, was enough to make me say, “No mas, no mas! Yo no soy marinero, soy Capitan, soy Capitan!”

Oftentimes I would just hang out along Lacson St., have some dinner, drinks, walk the strip and say hi to friends hanging out in other Lacson St restos., have more drinks. As the night wore on, the merriment became rowdier. Drinking 8 San Mig Lights a night was the norm.

About ten years ago, someone had the bright idea of closing Lacson St starting 4pm til the wee hours of the morning. Negrenses loved the idea of walking along Lacson sans vehicular traffic. Then someone decided to have an Electrical Parade at night that added to the festivities. Frankly, I found the Electrical Parade overrated but I’m sure as the years go by, the creativity of the Negrense would improve the design of the participating electrical floats.

Two years ago, it was still fun to walk along Lacson St. It was tight in some areas where there were stages then a bit of open space in between. I missed last year’s and this year’s Masskara. For this year, I heard part of the Masskara venue near Bacolod Town Plaza was transferred to Lacson. Hence, Lacson St became one big can of sardines. Stall owners were cooking inasal on both sides of the street making the venue hotter and smellier. The four-lane road became two-lanes as more kiosks occupied the outer lanes. If it’s tight, thieves will have a heyday. One of my friends was pickpocketed but that is no surprise anymore. Every time there is a Masskara, Atiatihan, Sinulog or Dinagyang, thieves from all over the country congregate and prey on the unsuspecting.

So is Masskara worth going to? If one is a Masskara first-timer, photographer, eater or drinker, it’s an overwhelming YES! But after that, it becomes a case of “been there, done that.” If one has friends who can entertain them by all means go again. Negros and Bacolod are more than just Masskara. There are many restaurants to try and places to visit. I can proudly say Negros is definitely a good example of…”It’s More Fun In The Philippines!”

Ilocano Road Trip

Someone asked me to write about my Ilocano Road Trip and whether it’s worth it. Before leaving Manila, another friend already told me that the proposed road trip would be too taxing for the senior citizens. Better if the seniors flew to Laoag then the car picked them up there. Ok, my problem is my father and his Ilocano friends planned the trip and they are responsible for everything. I just had to provide the van and driver and the rest is up to them. To make the trip more comfortable, someone provided another car. Ilocanos and my father in one car, Cumaguns in another.

DAY 1

We left Makati after 9am coz one car was color-coded. After picking up our Ilocano host in QC, we stopped for lunch in Kenny Rogers along the highway. After one pit stop in the last gasoline station before the fork going to Baguio or la Union, we ended up in our host’s beach house in San Juan, la Union.

image

DAY 2

At the break of dawn, we all went out to check the beach and were amazed at the rustic beauty of the place. In ten years this place will be full of resorts, is what we thought. We all packed up as breakfast was to be on the road. And we thought the nearest Jollibee would be at most a half hour away. Boy, were we wrong! The nearest Jollibee was two hours away in Candon City. In the province, everything is thirty minutes even if it’s not. Remember that!

image

After breakfast and one pit stop along the way, we arrived in Vigan in time for lunch. We ate Ilocano food in a hot pot type of resto then we took a calesa ride around Vigan. Instead of sleeping in Vigan whose hotels are actually converted ancestral homes, we drove on to Laoag which was two hours away. Personally, I was hesitant to sleep overnight in Vigan coz I feared my wife may feel something, if you know what I mean.

image

Before reaching Laoag, we made a short stop in the Marcos Ancestral home in Batac. We saw Ferdinand Marcos’ body but unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures. We arrived in Laoag after 6pm and it was dark already. Luckily for us, our Ilocano host just opened recently an 11 room place called, Ziur Inn along Jose Rizal Ave. Place was comfy and located very near the markets and department stores. If we needed supplies, no problem getting them.

image

DAY 3

After breakfast, we took a road trip to the light house, Bangui wind mills and Pagudpud beach for lunch and a little swimming. Pagudpud is 127 Kms from Laoag. I didn’t realize it was that far coz the last time I was in this area was in 1985 for work. The beach was excellent in Pagudpud. If one can stay overnight there, that would be a good idea. But we went back after swimming then on the way back to Laoag, I realized there was still time to visit Fort Ilocandia and the Malacanang of the North. By the time we got back to our hotel it was getting dark. Dinner was again in our hotel as our hosts cooked more Ilocano food. This time they served the Imelda fish and I understand it’s like cod and quite expansive. It was tasty for me but the others didn’t seem to like it as much. Oh well, not everyone likes Imelda! 🙂

image

DAY 4

Good morning! It was the dreaded going home day from Laoag to Manila. I estimated our trip would take 13 hours and that would be the longest I will have ever taken. My longest before was 12 hours when my Uncle Joe drove from Las Vegas to San Francisco and I found it tiring. And I didn’t even drive at all! I volunteered to drive part of the way so the driver can get some rest but he refused. Maybe he was just Dyahe.

image

So after a quick stop to load gas we had breakfast in Marsha’s Delicacies somewhere after Vigan. The bibingka here is highly recommended and it’s a pasalubong place. After one more pit stop, we had lunch in an authentic Ilocano Lutong Bahay resto in la Union. Kilawin cows balls and brain, dinuguan paste with liempo, soup number 5…my wife could eat only the fried fish!

image

One more pit stop before the long highway and we decided to have dinner in the highway coz if we didn’t, we would arrive in Manila past 9pm onwards depending on traffic. The second gas station in the highway had the most number of dining choices and we chose KFC. Traffic was relatively light along EDSA as the rush hour traffic already waned. We arrived in our Makati home at 10pm and trip took us 15 hours. 15 HOURS! No joke!

Trip was fun and didn’t seem that long coz I was with relatives. Would I do it again? No more na. Been there, done that! I would have preferred tho we sleep somewhere nearer like Curimao or Bauang, la Union on the last night to make the trip back to Manila shorter. But I’m glad we did it. And I’m glad my wife came with me so she can see the Philippine countryside. Looked the same everywhere actually! But one thing is for sure, I’m not going to have Ilocano food for the foreseeable future! 🙂

Dinuguan Paste Anyone?

imageimageimage

On our way home from the Ilocano Road Trip, we passed by an authentic Ilocano Lutong Bahay Resto named Joanna’s in San Fernando, la Union. Resto had other Ilocano delicacies like Kilawin and Soup Number 5 which I have mentioned in an earlier blog. Then I tried something different- Dinuguan Paste! It’s pure or true blood and one is supposed to swipe the pork liempo on it and it becomes dinuguan. It was quite tasty! Since I like dinuguan, I tried it on liempo and as you can see on the pictures, I tried it on clams! In fact, as is, it was already good. Won’t mind trying it again together with Kilawin cow balls and brain! 🙂

Five Things To Remember When Going On A Road Trip With Senior Citizens

Seniors enjoying the sites

Seniors enjoying the sites

For the last couple of years, my folks want to travel while they still can. But such travel is getting harder for them so they bring my sister to handle arrangements and me to do the driving and carrying of stuff. Ok, so we get to go places for free. That’s a nice perk. For them, I will work for food. Hehe

Recently we did a road trip to the Ilocos region with two Ilocano family friends who served as guides and interpreters. It was a fun and entertaining trip and with that, I compiled my five things to remember when traveling with senior citizens:

1. Bring a driver and alalay. There will be a lot of carrying and gophering to do.
2. Expect a pit stop every two hours, three hours tops.
3. They can’t hear too well so expect quite a bit of shouting. I could hear them talking in the hallway of the hotel and I was inside my room already!
4. They are short on patience and expect things to be done ASAP and their way.
5. They are proud of their senior citizens rights and will use it to the fullest. Be ready for some arguments especially when paying for the food bill!

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to travel with seniors. Although at times it may be stressful or frustrating, just be patient and deal with it. If one knows what to expect, one can just accommodate then maybe later on laugh about it. But if something really can’t be done, one has to let them know! These trips are really for them and going to their twilight years, such trips and bonding time should be cherished. I’m lucky I get to go and if they invite I will do my best to make it. And of course try to make it as fun as I can.

So here’s to the senior citizens…enjoy the rest of your lives and count your blessings!

Do You Know What This Is?

Aphrodisiac

Aphrodisiac

Care to make a guess? We went to an authentic Ilocano Lutong Bahay Resto in San Fernando, la Union. Fernando Lopez, the owner of Joanna’s Resto is an expert in exotic Ilocano cuisine.

I was told this dish was Kilawin or raw whatever so I just got a big spoonful of it. It tasted good so I had another one. Then other kinds of Goat Kilawin arrived. So if that’s the case, what did I eat?

My Ilocano family friend said that this Kilawin is made from the cow’s sex organ and cow brain. The cottage cheese looking thing is the brain finely chopped. The other ball looking thing is obviously the balls. And the gelatinous looking thing is the penis. Mixed with vinegar and some sili, it didn’t taste gamey at all. If I didn’t know what it was, well even if I knew what it was, I would have had more. I preferred it to the goat Kilawin.

Five Things My “Animal-Loving” Wife Learned From The Ilocano Road Trip

Calesa Ride In Vigan

Calesa Ride In Vigan

My parents wanted to take my uncle from San Francisco on an Ilocano road trip so my wife and I tagged along. These are few of the things she learned:

1. Ilocanos don’t really eat chicken. They love their pork, vegetables (from the vegetable bowl) and innards.
2. She now knows the difference between a cow and a carabao.
3. There are more goats than cats in the whole region.
4. Better check out what you eat. There may be some animal innards or brain in the dish.
5. She doesn’t want to see another Kambingan in her life!

Overall, it was a fun road trip that will be remembered for a long, long time.

Who Is Right?

Cat or Fax?

Cat or Fax?

Recently, our telephone landline would go out of order from time to time. I noticed this particular cat named, Magic (not named after Magic Johnson) would step on the fax or sleep right beside the fax. Sometimes I hear the fax phone turn on and I have to get up and reset. So my thinking is, get rid of the cat! Ok, not that drastic. But the cat can’t rest near the fax. Come to think of it, cat hair may destroy the fax much like what happened to my printer! My wife’s thinking is to move the fax. Well I’m not going to do it coz it ain’t my cat! And the fax was there already before the cat started to rest there. I should get my way right? ROAR!!! 🙂