Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quick Tour: The Churches of Naga

Aside from the CWC Watersports Complex and the food, what struck me most about Naga is its churches. A quick search at Wikipedia yields the nugget that the city is the religious center of the Bicol Region, known for its fiery cuisine and the people's religious devotion, the area having the most number of followers of Roman Catholicism as well as of seminarians and nuns. Naga City is home to the largest Marian pilgrimage in Asia, that of the Our Lady of Penafrancia, gathering more than 5 million devotees a year. On the map Bicol is located at the southernmost tip of the major island of Luzon, and Naga is at its center. 

A quick tour is all you need to see the churches of the city. The Naga City Church, also known as the Nuestra Senora de (Our Lady of) Penafrancia Shrine, was formerly home of the image of the our Lady of Penafrancia before the construction of the Penafranacia Basilica. 

In its premises one can also see the monument of Padre Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, the first diocesan priest of Naga, who attributes his recovery from a serious illness while still a young man to his devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia. It was he who commissioned the sculpting of the image of Our Lady of Penafrancia.

Our Lady of Penafrancia Shrine is my favorite because of the pastel ceiling murals.

Our next stop was the Basilica Minore de Penafrancia, where the image of Our Lady is enshrined.

Our last stop was the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, aka Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, done in Spanish-Romanesque style. Construction of the church began in 1575.

In the church's premises is the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary, the oldest Christian higher educational institute in the Philippines, having been established in the early 18th Century. 

It was declared as a National Historical Landmark on January 29, 1988.

That's it. Until the next post.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Solo Traveler's Pick: Cagayan de Oro's Seda Hotel at Centrio Ayala

Those who are familiar with my blog would know I love fancy hotels. I am not afraid to eat like the locals, but at night I want the comfort that my means could afford--tasteful interiors, snazzy lobby, working wifi, and comfy bedding. On a working trip to Cagayan de Oro I fell in love with Seda Hotel. It has all the things I expect of hotels, plus it's within the premises of a mall. And the muted color palette is soothing. There are Seda Hotels  as well in Bonifacio Global City, Davao, and Laguna, and they all look pretty much the same, although BGC has a life-sized giraffe statue in its lobby, one I want to snap a selfie with. 

It was love at first sight with my room, here in all its Instagram glory.

Comfy linens is always a plus.

This chair at the lobby also caught my eye.

The staff were quick and efficient. We requested a last-minute photo op at the lobby, and they obliged.

The week we stayed a trouped entertained us with an assortment of folk dances.

Of course, a stay at Cagayan de Oro is not complete without stocking up on Slers longganiza and bacon.

We also made a pit-stop at La Vetta. 

For what we ate, click here.

Seda Hotel-Centrio Ayala
CM Recto cor Corrales Avenue
Cagayan de Oro City
(+63) 88 323 8888

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Quick Trip: Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort

I rarely go further south of Cavite and so it was a treat when we were invited for a day tour to a former boss's resort at Calatagan, a three-hour car drive from Manila via Cavitex and the Centennial Highway. We left Manila before 8 am, passed by Tagaytay, and arrived before lunch at Calatagan, known for its cream-colored sand beaches.

From the resort's website: "Set amidst 24 hectares of rolling hills and white sand beaches, Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort is a place to enjoy life's simple pleasures--beautiful beaches, comfortable cottages, flower-filled-gardens, golden sunrises and breathtaking sunsets, happy moments and special celebrations."

This post is pic-heavy. Hope you like it.

After alighting from our car, we passed through a walk-way covered with flowering vines and flanked by manicured gardens. 

Quotes painted against wooden boards are placed strategically all over the resort.

The turquoise waters of the pool near the reception hut beckoned.

The dining area was sandwiched between the reception and the floating cottages.

Cabanas on stilts! Staying for a week in this type of cottage is up there in my wish list.

We stayed at this floating cottage, dressed in the colors of summer.

The all-white bedroom is so inviting. Imagine the sound of the sea breeze and the roll of the waves lulling you to sleep.

Note the clear waters

View from the cottage:

I could hide from the sun in the cottage and stroll along the beach when gentle times roll in.

It's refreshing to be at a beach teeming with life. Many of them blend in well with their surroundings. Can you spot some of the critters pictured below?

 We left Stilts a few hours before sunset, hoping to return.