Step back to the 18th-century old Filipiniana setting and experience Las Casas de Acuzar. Your complete experience and travel guide (w/ costing).
Author: Paula Ferrer
Today, we’ll tell you all about 5 different craft bars that Makati has to offer that allow free-flowing tête-à-tête between guests over quality cocktails.
Your typical mall cinemas that are peppered in every area of Metro Manila ca, to some extent, be contrary to the resurgence growth of independently produced Filipino films. These independent films will need to fight fist with Hollywood driven movies or the local and saturated Piolo Pascual movies, should they want to get slots to these malls. Over the past few months, you can see these campaigns on social media most especially on their Facebook page where producers and even their cast members try their best to influence and seek support to netizens to call SMs, Ayala Malls to request their movies to be shown to for an extended timeline. It has always been a struggle to get these films available to the general public.
The role of microcinemas is very vital to the sustainability and visibility of these wonderfully produced local independent films. Smaller spaces means the less need to fill up the cost of the venue’s overhead cost giving them less pressure to sell out to any crowd-pleasing blockbusters. They can cater to a niche market of art and film enthusiast when tapped you will surely get a ‘repeat purchase’ if we coin it in a business-marketing term. Places like Cinema ’76, Cinematheque Centers (Manila, Davao and Baguio), and the CCP Arthouse Theater have been of great help as a channel.
Last Saturday as we all endure the horrific traffic of ASEAN summit’s redirection we were looking for a place that is less crowded preferably a coffee shop around Mandaluyong area. We opened Waze saw the Black Maria Cinema tagged and it appeared pretty interesting to drop by so then we did. They do have a coffee shop beside their cinema. The location can be a little be off beaten, but the sign was lit up beautifully as “NOW SHOWING”. Bought out a ticket and headed in. The steps and alley are pretty narrow with movie posters plastered on its walls.
We were impressed with what we saw. Black Maria Cinema is fully air-conditioned and boasts 2K digital cinema projection, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and about a 20-foot silver-white screen- full upgraded specs that in this smaller space yielded an extensively better experience compared to the above-mentioned microcinemas and even big mall cinemas. There are 22 cinema-style seats that are pretty comfortable and new, and with the addition of regular chairs, they can lodge 60-70 people (ballpark figure).
Researching about Black Maria and during our discussion with their staff, It is a local production house with commercial works such as trailers, music videos, and brand commercials for over 45 years in the industry. The compound facilities were once called SQ Film Laboratories then recently go a brand revamped to Black Maria Pictures, the name was inspired after the world’s first film production studio in New Jersey: Thomas Edison’s Black Maria. Just right beside the Black Maria Cinema is café they put up called Santiago’s.
They will be hosting a run of 2017 Cinema One Originals Festival from November 22 to 28. Based on their current lineups you can see that they will screen local and international films. As cinephiles, we’re pretty happy that these venues are now open.
Note: Every Cinema One Originals Festival ticket holder gets a buy 1 get 1 local beer offer from Santiago’s Café.
Why Support Independent “Indie” Films?
Many of the mainstream films are being released theatrically for a lot of wrong reasons. Either they are doing a faux release to trigger merchandise or TV deals, or they are vanity projects. These films clog up theaters and add to an environment that makes it hard to get attention for the films that deserve it. Thanks to theatres outlets like Black Maria Cinema, now these small quality indie films may reach audiences without requiring any theatrical pretense.
Black Maria Cinema is located on San Rafael Street, Mandaluyong, just off of the rotonda. This microcinema just opened its doors last month and has already ran/running screenings of Treb Monteras’ Respeto, Patay Na Si Hesus, and I Love You. Thank You.; as well as the all-art biopic, Loving Vincent.
Follow them on Facebook for updates: https://www.facebook.com/pg/BlackMariaCinema
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Cagayan de Oro City, the capital of Misamis Oriental, is the entryway to Northern Mindanao. It is one of the places in the Philippines where you’d happy to return to because of its people’s kindness; they have the good produce of fruits- the sweetest lanzones and mangosteen. A place where nature and city living traverse. The land is rich and vast with resources.
“CDO” as what we popularly call it. A city that is home to half a million people and is known to be a regional and shopping capital Northern Mindanao region. Never miss the Night Cafe and Market, where locals and tourists gather in the streets of Divisoria on weekends to enjoy solid barbecues on the street, local food delicacies, street stalls for shopping and music.
On the other side of the city and a mandatory activity when you are in Cagayan De Oro is to experience their whitewater rafting adventure/tour. Rafting and white water rafting are recreational outdoor activities which use an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other body of water. It has been categorized as an extreme sport and it also dates back since the 1950’s, if not earlier.
Cagayan de Oro is famous for its White Water Rafting Adventure. In fact, it is considered as the whitewater rafting capital of the country which locals and tourists alike are looking forward to a fun and invigorating adventure. White Water Rafting is a recreational outdoor activity that uses an inflatable raft and paddles to navigate on a river.
The CDO river is the perfect whitewater destination mainly because of its dynamic rapids. There are a total of 21 rapids that you need to go through in the course of your adventure (depending on your level). The simpler, easier rapids are for beginners, while up ahead lies greater challenges for the more daring rafters. As you go through the river, the water velocity increases and you are forced to match this with your unbounded energy. All the while, the cool waters splash on you. There are areas in the river where you just need to paddle along and relax or even stop your raft and jump off for a quick swim. You hear nature’s sound cascading in the background.
I was a bit hesitant to do this activity because I’m pretty bad at swimming. Good thing my friends are superimposing and won’t take no for an answer. It was definitely the highlight of my CDO trip.
By Air (from Manila)
For tourist outside the Philippines check out the cheapest flights going to Manila and Cagayan De Oro thru Kiwi.com, they find you the lowest rates across hundreds of airlines with a guarantee from canceled flights, rescheduling, and delays.
By Land and Water
Although we haven’t tried this as an option as it is pretty time-consuming. We’re still linking you the information for option purposes.
- Philtranco buses offers Manila(Pasay/Cubao) to Cagayan de Oro,42 hours travel time
- SuperFerry, Negros Navigation and Sulpicio Lines have ferries bound to Cagayan de Oro City. 30 hours travel time.
From CDO town proper to the river
Note: Jeepney transfer going to the white water rafting location is inclusive when you sign up with Kagay.
Pick up time:
|Morning Trip||7:30 AM|
|Afternoon Trip||12:00 PM|
The trip to the Cagayan de Oro start river starts in the Kalatungan Mountain Range, the central portion of Bukidnon, flowing towards Cagayan de Oro for about 90 kilometers and ending at the Macajalar Bay. The river serves as a natural border that separates Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro. At the starting point of your Whitewater Rafting trip, the right side is Bukidnon while the left side is Cagayan de Oro.
I recommend staying at these hotels (prices are subject to change and with your budget of course)
Mid-Range (with good user reviews from TripAdvisor)
- Stonestown Sweets (1,700php or 34USD)
- Seda Sentrio (2,750php or 55USD)
- Emerald Suites CDO (1,100php or 22USD)
- Red Planet Cagayan De Oro (1,100php or 22UDD)
Budget-friendly that are ranked from lowest price. CLICK HERE
Note: you may opt to book directly to links mentioned above or thru TravelBookPH on the upper right side of this article.
White Water Rafting is a group activity and also considered an extreme sport as it deals with powerful whirlpools of waves also known as the “rapids” all throughout the sail. It also requires you to have a substantial knowledge on analyzing water behavior. An assigned raft team leader professional will be part of your group to teach, help maneuver the transport and. Please take note that teamwork is pretty vital to finish the rapids. Dealing with risk and the need for teamwork.
- Lower Section 1,200php or 24USD / head
– (Approximately 3hrs River Run ) 14 Rapids
– Class I-II Minimum of 6 pax
- Mid Section 1,800php or 36USD / head
– ( Approximately 4hrs River Run ) 24 Rapids
– Class II-IV Minimum of 6 pax
- Upper Section 2000php or 40USD / head
– ( Approximately 2hrs River Run ) 14 Rapids
– Majority are Class III Minimum of 6 pax
- Jeepney transfer from City Tourism Showhaus, DV-Soria or at your Hotel within the city.proper to Put-in.
- Group guide
- Safety gears: Helmets, life vest, and paddles
Add on optional:
- Lunch plate (200php or 4USD)
- Photos/Videos (500php or 10USD)
- Caving/Spelunking: P1,200 or 24USD/head minimum of 6 pax
Visit Kagay’s main website for more info. Click here.
- Wear a Life Jacket. Make sure it is snug and buckled!
- Listen to your river guides/team leaders.
- Wear proper shoes – no flip-flops, slippers, or bare feet.
- Help your fellow rafters back into your raft if they fall into the water.
- Have fun!
- Do not stand up in moving current. If you unintentionally fall into the water, make sure to float on your back with your toes pointed up, facing downstream.
- Do not use your paddle as a splashing device
- Avoid fallen debris and trees/branches in the river
We spied a gem-green stream in the forest. It was seeping and dribbling as it swerved through the trees. Although the activity is high intensity there is a certain kind of calmness that you can feel around the environment.
There are plenty of things to do in Cagayan De Oro, but their white river rafting shouldn’t be missed.
Experience the hospitality of its people, they wouldn’t be named as “The City of Golden Friendship” if not for their endless smiles.
As we always say go forth and wander! and be a storyteller when you return home.
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Coming from the tumultuous and temperate place like Metro Manila you would not imagine the Philippines to be home to over 7,000 islands with striking beaches and turquoise seas, which is why the mountainous regions up north are often forgotten
The smell of salt and soft coconut oil, waves crashing gently on the shores, sands in between my toes, wind kissing my skin gently telling me that time stand still in a place like Siargao. Time passes crescently taking you thru your whole day.
I’ve emptied my mind and released all expectations I had for this place since a few individuals that I’ve talked to that have been to Siargao cannot put into words how magical the place really is. All they say is that when you return back to your automated life in the city you’ll pause everyday and think about this place over and over again. Daydream for weeks that you’d rather be spending a lazy Tuesday afternoons disconnected with the outside city life.
If you think of Siargao, most will brand it as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”, but for someone like me who’s not physically inclined to ride the waves Siargao can cater to anyone who’s in quest to experience what the island has to offer. Beautifully diverse landscapes from mangroves, enchanting forest, rock formations, waterfalls, vast rice fields, cave pools, calm white sand beach, and nearby islands. I’ve been to most beautiful and pristine islands in the Philippines and I thought I have seen it all. Of course, topping my list are El Nido and Coron which are situated in Palawan, but to much surprise, Siargao is authentically in its truest form strikingly, inexplicably and beyond beautiful.
Where is Siargao?
Getting to the island itself is a pretty long haul. If your kick off point is from Manila, Luzon
- FLY DIRECT to Siargao via SkyJet
- FLY CONNECTING Manila-Cebu-Siargao FLIGHT via Cebu Pacific
- FLY to Cebu take a 14-hour ferry ride (overnight) to Surigao City then take a FERRY to Siargao.
- FLY to Surigao City then take a FERRY to Siargao. I recommend riding the Fortune Angel.
- FLY to Butuan then BUS to Surigao City then FERRY to Siargao
I took the Cebu X Surigao City X Siargao Route as I wanted to spend a day in Cebu City first. From Cebu, I went to the pier and bought myself a ferry ticket going to Surigao City. There are options in terms of which type of sleeping area you’d be comfortable and also depends on your budget. I personally chose the Business Class area as it is more private, it has sockets for charging and it’s air-conditioned. A Business classroom will cost you roughly 1,200php ($20). There are mostly foreign nationals in the boat and I was able to some of them and they shared their Siargao stories, why they keep on coming back and how warm the people are. Of course, they went on and on and on how amazing the place is.
Ideally, you will end up staying in General Luna because that place is the main beach town with an interesting variety of shops, restaurants, resorts, and the great thing about it is that it hasn’t been ruined by mass consumerism for tourism.
You can see the sense of community on the island where locals and foreigners all co-exist. Most establishments are owned by foreigners who sought asylum from their western countries and built their homes and lives in Siargao. There are a number of restaurants, coffee shops, smoothie places scattered around General Luna
Where to Stay:
Note: Ideally you stay in General Luna area.
My friends and I stayed over at Eddie’s Beach Resort. It is reasonably priced and you get to stay beach front. Our room that is good for 4 people costs us only 2,200php ($40)
** all links are clickable to check availability, rates, and bookings.
- Paglaom Hostel (click for rates)
- Harana Surf Resort
- Point 303 Resort
- Kermit Surf Resort
- Siargao Inn
- Dedon Island
Where to Eat and Drink
- Pan De Surf (A MUST TRY)
- Coconut Pie
- Spicy Spider Shells
- Cafe Loka: Tourism Rd, General Luna, Surigao del Norte
- Kermit’s (A MUST TRY!)
- Shaka: General Luna, Surigao del Norte
- Miguel’s Taqueria: General Luna, Surigao del Norte
- Barrel Bar: Purok 5, General Luna, Surigao del Norte
- CFC: Cloud 9, Surigao del Norte
- NAH. Don’t.
For the best brick oven pizza try Kermit’s Dive and a Surf resort. They flew in folks from Italy to transfer crafting knowledge in making fresh pasta and making awesome pizza. This was probably one of the best pizza that you can get here in the Philippines. I asked for Parma ham, mozzarella, dill pizza.
Go to General Luna’s public market where you can get the freshest and cheap seafood. A whole yellowfin tuna that weighs 2 kilograms is only 200php ($4). What we did was we bought fresh seafood from the market and asked our resort’s restaurant to cook for us with a very minimal cooking charge. I must admit I haven’t gone around to random restaurants mainly because I was enjoying so much fresh seafoods from the market and my friends and I was happy to have it every day served fresh from Eddie’s Beach Resort.
It is a place where the land is rich and the sea is generous. You can live frugally yet get the best of what nature has to offer. The abundance of the island prohibits the locals to be greedy to its visitors.
What to do?
Surfing lessons will cost you only 500php ($10-$11) per hour comes with one: one instructor and board rental. For beginners, it is best to start surfing early in the morning at 7am-8am white the tide is high to avoid shore rocks. For experienced surfers, you can rent boats going to surf spots near neighboring islands.
- Daku Island
- Naked Island
- Guyam Island
- Explore General Luna Lagoon via stand up board or paddle board. Crystalline blue water and appreciate beautiful seascape
- The Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pool
The Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pool is located in Pilar, about 45mins to an hour drive from General Luna. Rent a motorbike for PHP350 per day (US$8) and explore it yourself. You can also hire a tricycle / habal-habal for PHP800 – 1,000/day (US$20). There is an entrance fee of PHP50 (US$1) per person.
- Surf in the morning in Cloud 9. Start before 7 am.
- Rent a bike and get lost. LTE is very fast on the island both Globe and Smart so just use Google maps or Waze
- Relax, lounge, sleep
I am still hung over for weeks now after my trip from Siargao. I am sitting right now in my office and everything and everyone around me were in a time-lapse. I want to pause. I want to be able to not wear a watch and forget time.
I want more of Siargao, I want to settle there and get a dog.
So what are you waiting for? Go and wander.
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