Where to Go in the Awesome Tarlac Neighborhood

Tarlac offers an awesome neighborhood in Northern Luzon. Pangasinenses, Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Bulakenyos, and even Tagalogs flock to the province to enjoy a time for adventures and leisure.

If you’re looking to explore the neighborhood in Tarlac, here are some of the best spots that you need to visit.

Capas National Shrine

If you want to learn about the stories of the war, then Capas National Shrine is the best place to visit in Tarlac. This was built to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Bataan Death March. It’s an even more meaningful place as the site used to be a concentration camp, even reminding us today about the repercussions of war.

Isdaan Village

Looking for an awesome place with great food? Then, Isdaan Village is the place to go. It’s a floating restaurant that offers a variety of Filipino and other Asian cuisine. Dining in at Isdaan is also an experience with singing cooks and overlooking picturesque views. The place is perfect eating with your family or a large group.

Aquino Ancestral House

If you want to appreciate the democracy of the Philippines more, then you should head on over to Aquino Ancestral House. This is the house where the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino lived before he entered into local and national politics.

Kart City Tarlac

Do you enjoy the adrenaline rush? You should check out Kart City Tarlac! The place is perfect for kids at heart with their F1 carts available for driving! If you’re bringing your children, you won’t need to worry as there’s a designated place specially designed for them.

Mount Pinatubo

As the province borders Mount Pinatubo, this means more adventure for you! You can enjoy a nice ride by 4×4 trucks going uphill and a hike by foot going to the summit. What’s even more wonderful is meeting friendly Aeta locals along the way.

Tarlac has indeed an awesome neighborhood that makes for a perfect getaway spot in Luzon. More than visiting from time to time, the great thing is that you can also easily secure a home in the province!

If you want to purchase a home  in Tarlac, there are affordable houses that BellaVita offers. Settling a home in the province means that you’re one skip away to these amazing destinations – which is a great benefit for you.

For more information about the location of their homes and their pricing, visit BellaVita website or Facebook page.

Header photo by JC Galidon on Unsplash

UMak student crowned Miss Makati 2019

An 18-year old student of the University of Makati (UMak), Micah Beatrice Santos from Barangay West Rembo, has been crowned Miss Makati 2019, besting 23 other candidates at the Coronation Night held Friday at the Makati Coliseum.

Makati Mayor Abby Binay said the newly-crowned Miss Makati 2019 impressed the judges with her striking beauty, self-confidence and intelligence, which have made her an ideal partner of the city government in promoting a “smart, sustainable and future-ready Makati”.

“Miss Makati 2019 has risen above the challenges she has faced and turned these into opportunities to grow and become a stronger and better person. I am confident that she will be able to fulfil her crucial role in accelerating Makati’s transformation as a Smart City,” Mayor Abby said.

The mayor said Miss Makati 2019 will serve as the city’s ambassador of goodwill while inspiring fellow young Makatizens to strive for excellence and take an active part in city-building, as defined by the 2019 pageant theme, “Creating the Future Now”.

Santos is also the current titleholder of Miss UMak 2019. She stated that her advocacy is to campaign against bullying, having been a victim of bullies herself, and vowed to help fellow victims overcome adversity.

Mayor Abby, accompanied by Miss Makati 2018 Karla O’Hara and Congressman Luis Campos, crowned Miss Makati 2019.

Mayor Abby also congratulated the other winners, Miss Makati Tourism 2019 Kristina Cassandra Bahaj and Miss Makatizen 2019 Venice Kayla Barrameda.

“Both Miss Makati Tourism 2019 and Miss Makatizen 2019 have shown that they are up to the task of helping us promote innovations that will empower and inspire the citizens of Makati,” she stated.

Bahaj, 22, a resident of Barangay Sta. Cruz, said that she was motivated to join the pageant by her personal experience with taking care of a family member suffering from dementia, her own grandmother. This led to her advocacy for making Makati the first “dementia-friendly city” in the country.

Barrameda, 21-year old resident of Barangay Guadalupe Viejo, who also won as Miss CEU 2016 at Centro Escolar University, is an advocate of good oral health. Her goal is to promote oral health by providing dental missions for the less privileged to give back to the city.

Miss Makati 2019 took home P200,000 cash prize, a crown, a sash, a gift pack from Home of Beauty Color (HBC), and P50,000 worth of gift certificates from iSkin Aesthetic Lifestyle.

Miss Makati Tourism 2019, on the other hand, won a cash prize of P150,000, a crown, a sash, an HBC gift pack, and P50,000 worth of gift certificates from iSkin Aesthetic Lifestyle. Miss Makatizen 2019 bagged P100,000 cash prize, a crown, a sash, an HBC gift pack, and P50,000 worth of gift certificates from iSkin Aesthetic Lifestyle.

Bahaj was also named “Miss Air Asia” while Barrameda won the titles “Miss iSkin Aesthetic Lifestyle” and “Miss Balmain”. The title “Miss Congeniality” was won by Gianelle Anne Balaton, 22, of Barangay Valenzuela, “Miss Photogenic” went to Micah Beatriz Santos; and “Best in Long Gown” was Renee Rose Tirones, 23, of Barangay San Lorenzo.

Now on its 29th year, the Miss Makati 2019 coronation night was hosted by Mikael Daez and Issa Litton. The pageant was part of the month-long celebration of the 349th Founding Anniversary of Makati with the theme, “Makati 2025: Fasttracking Progress”.

The board of judges in this year’s pageant was chaired by Albert Andrada, designer; together with Sheila Romero, CEO Air Asia; Kate Pagkalinawan, CEO iSkin Aesthetic Lifestyle; George Royeca, CEO/owner of Angkas; Franco Laurel, singer and actor; Ruffa Gutierrez, actress and beauty queen; Tim Yap, host and media practitioner; and designers Anthony Ramirez and Paul Cabral.

Entertainment numbers were provided by Air Dance, Nexus (Makati Dance Challenge 2018 Champions), and balladeer Michael Pangilinan.

The other 21 finalists included Charlene Marie Inonog (Kasilawan); Stephanie Isabelle Aquino (Poblacion); Sophia Michaela Leanne Aguado (Pio del Pilar); Alliaa Nicole Diputado (Tejeros); Gianelle Anne Balaton (Valenzuela); Patricia Rose Pangan (San Isidro); Bianca Gabrielle Abaya (Poblacion); Lailah Guiuan (Pembo); Kaoru Aseana Pimentel (South Cembo); Jan Karen Esguerra (Bel-Air);

Monica Acuno (West Rembo); Hannah Patricia Beatrice Kristiansen (Northside); Desiree Harriet Alyanna Gamboa (Guadalupe Viejo); Charlyn Joyce Barrientos (Southside); Ma. Anna Clarisse Villavicencio (San Antonio); Marie Gabrielle Brillantes (Poblacion); Princess Vinia Putulin (South Cembo); Renee Rose Tirones (San Lorenzo); Elliah Kate Nicolas (East Rembo); Jeanne Pauline Suplente (Guadalupe Viejo); and Erika Mae Salvador (Comembo).

The candidates were adjudged with the following criteria: Intelligence, 40 percent; beauty, 40 percent; and personality, 20 percent.

San Fernando, Pampanga keeps the tradition of handcrafting Christmas lanterns alive

San Fernando, the provincial capitol of Pampanga, is a bustling city that houses the provincial presence of some of the country’s largest retail outlets, financial firms, restaurant chains, manufacturing companies and more. The city also plans to further expand the modernization of its infrastructure and services.

Despite its drive towards modernization, the city also stays true to its roots as the home of Christmas Lanterns, as manifested by its support to its handcrafted parol industry. San Fernando Pampanga’s parol makers are known for their grandiose creations: colorful and ornately patterned lanterns which light up and blink in cheery rhythms. Largely because of this, San Fernando, Pampanga has been hailed by CNN as “Asia’s Christmas capital.”

The Kapampangan tradition of handcrafting lanterns can be dated back to the 16th century when the Augustinian friars started the practice of holding processions honoring the town’s patron saints leading to the cathedral. This practice coincides with the Misa de Gallo, or dawn masses held for nine days leading to Christmas. The processions would later evolve and become locally known as Lubenas.

During these processions, the candles held by the devout would sometimes get blown out by the hanging amihan (cool northeast wind). The enterprising Kapampangans took to covering their candles to protect the flames from the breeze, thus making them lanterns. And since Kapampangans are also characterized by their appreciation for beauty, joy, grandiosity and pomp, the lanterns grew in size and complexity of design as the years went by. They evolved from being made of simple bamboo and other indigenous materials to incorporating dancing lights as well as the use of colored plastics and fiberglass in the design.

This interesting origin story of the parol was retold by Rolando Quiambao, the lantern maker/designer behind RolRen’s Lanterns and General Merchandise. The parols of this home-grown business have enjoyed not only national, but also worldwide acclaim. If you chanced upon the bombastic parols used during the Metro Manila Filmfest or those gracing the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), chances are, these were supplied by RolRen’s.

RonRel’s also produces lanterns for Saipan, Korea, Guam, Taiwan, Palau and more. While its products geared towards the international market retain the Kapampangan parol at their core, the execution of these lanterns reflect the culture of the country they are going to. Palau-bound lanterns, for instance, depict the nipa huts and boats used in local culture.

Recently, RolRen’s supplied San Fernando’s Heroes Hall with colorful life-size depictions of the Paskong Kapampangan (Christmas in Pampanga).

RonRel’s has also incorporated innovations in parol into its parol design. Its designers worked with computer programmers to facilitate choreographed blinking of the parol’s various lights via rotors, for example. Previously, these lights were manipulated using on/off switches.

Mr. Quiambao shares other interesting snippets of trivia as well. Did you know that what sets the Kapampangan parol apart from other Christmas lanterns are its component parts which are steeped in tradition? These are:

  • The middle portion called the tambol (base drum) so named because its round shape resembles that of the drum
  • The star-shaped portion after the tambol is the pito-siko, named after the way the star’s corners resemble bent elbows
  • Surrounding the star is the palimbon from the Kapampangan word for procession that circles the town on the way to the cathedral
  • The outer layer is called the ponteta, from the Kapampangan word punta, which refers to it being the final component of the parol.

The artisans of RolRen’s don’t have a monopoly of Kapampangan parol-enthusiasm either.

With the approach of the holiday season, amateur lantern makers from various barangays in the city are gearing up for this year’s Giant Lantern Festival. Already on its 110th year, the festival displays the artistry and passion the Kapampangans have for their parols as representatives from participating barangays contruct lanterns up to 20 feet tall to compete with those from other barangays.

Barangay San Jose, in particular, is represented by the Ambrosio family, the only team that has a female lantern-maker, Mary Anne Torres. (The lantern makers of the other contest entries this year are all male.)

This year’s entry from San Jose will reach up to 19.8 feet and will requires 10,000 lightbulbs.

Barangay San Jose’s last win in the Giant Lantern Festival was in 1991. Their winning piece was later displayed during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Giant Lantern Festival Competition will be held at the Robinsons Starmills on December 15, 6pm at the Robinsons Starmills. Participating barangays include Calulut, Del Carmen, Del Pilar, San Jose, San Juan, San Nicolas, San Pedro, Sindalan, Sta. Lucia, Sto. Nino and Telabastagan.

Want to take part in this fun and light-filled event as well as check out the local delights that San Fernando, Pampanga has to offer? Check out these packages centered around the competition night from tour operators accredited by the city government:

M.A.G. Travel & Tours

  • Tour Highlights: Giant Lantern Grand Competition Night, visit and learn how to make giant lanterns, Kapampangan cookery and food crawl, learning indigenous ways of preparing and cooking meals, a visit to the Sunken Church of San Guillermo Parish, a visit to the San Fernando Train Station
  • Rate (with overnight stay ay Imerex Hotel): Php5,650 (single)/Php4,280 (twin)
  • Contact Details: +63 2 3598699; +63 045 4995139; +63 917 6311459; +63 920 1172333; and +63 923 4258888

Don’t Skip Manila

  • Tour Highlights: Early Buffet Dinner of heirloom Kapampangan recipes; lantern-making workshop and factory tour; Giant Lantern Festival Show
  • Rate: Php2,000 pax
  • Contact Details: dontskipmanila@gmail.com

CultureShockPH

  • Tour Highlights: Early Buffet Dinner of heirloom Kapampangan recipes; lantern-making workshop and factory tour; Giant Lantern Festival Show
  • Rates: Php3,000 (discounts will apply for multi-person booking, students and children age 12 and below)
  • Contact Details: +63 917 7146737 (Osep Reyes)
  • LQM Travel
    • Package Inclusions: round trip transportation (pick up from Clark or Angeles); entrance to Clark Museum and VIP Seat at the Giant Lantern Exhibition; Lunch and Dinner; Souvenir T-Shirt and Licensed Tour Guide
      Rate: Php3,000 (discounts will apply for multi-person booking)
      Contact Details: +63 045 3311036; +63 045 3311356; +63 906 0660521; or +63 919 8744984
  • Disclosure: Together with other bloggers, I participated in a tout and food crawl sponsored by the city government of San Fernando, Pampanga. The experiences and food served were not paid for by the attendees including myself.