Browsing the archives for the iloilo category.

Iloilo: One Sunday at Anhawan Beach Resort

activities for kids, iloilo

Feeling nostalgic about Iloilo. Especially those times when kids got a taste of one-year Montessori education at the Iloilo Montessori School. I also got to get to know other Montessori Moms and we called ourselves the Wednesday Coffee Group. Aside from our Wednesday coffee, we went to this beach resort in Oton, the Anhawan Beach Resort. What a Sunday it was!

Kids splashed in the pool and flew their kites. We mommies were on constant look-out.

The Anhawan Beach Resort has a pool – divided for adults and a kiddie pool just below the adults’ – where our kids had a wonderful and safe time splashing around. We just sat on the side of the pool with, eyes rolling (hahaha), umbrellas! We went there almost at the end of the school year and it was already very hot. Summer time in the Philippines starts from March!

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But what really made my sons enjoy and remember that day was their kite-flying. My First-born had the kite to himself for some time and he was really into it. To this day, we still have the kite with us here in Seoul.

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The great thing with the Anhawan Beach Resort is its wide open space. Perfect for kite flying on a summer day.

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And, of course, kids need to have more activities so they can just sleep in the car on the way home (wink)… They just ran around and played whatever game they fancied. We rented one of the cabanas for the day so we had the perfect view to just watch them kids play around.

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It really was one of the great time we had in Iloilo. I’m very grateful to have met and known other Moms like me from Montessori. Thanks to Facebook we still get in touch these days.

Iloilo has an annual Paraw Ragatta event every February. In fact, it held its 39th year this year. When we went to Anhawan, the resort had its own Paraw event (not connected to the annual Paraw Regatta of Iloilo), so we saw these lining up the shore.

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Missing those days in Iloilo!

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Visiting Brgy. Macalbang Elementary School in Concepcion, Iloilo

iloilo, life in the Philippines, The 601 Habit

The typhoon that bagged the headlines of major international newspapers and news programs November of last year brought the Philippines to its knees. It was a major devastation, the effect of which was unthinkable! Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) destroyed cities, flattened out villages, separated families, orphaned children. For almost everyone in the affected areas, their lives became dependent to aid… living under the circumstances that they had been reduced to endure.

But Typhoon Haiyan made us, Filipinos, feel that we are loved… that people outside our country genuinely care for us. And there’s that realization that fellow Filipinos living out of the country could instantaneously act for the affected people back home.

Our group, The 601 Habit, felt the immediate need of our fellow Filipinos who survived this biggest disaster that has fallen into our country. We are lucky to have received a substantial donation from Women’s News Magazine during the Santa Sports Festival held last December 7, 2013 and for this, we are eternally grateful.

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The outreach activity that our group had chosen has the 211 students of Brgy. Macalbang Elementary School in Concepcion, Iloilo as beneficiaries. The school was badly battered by the strong winds of Typhoon Haiyan. Roofs were flown away and destroyed. Windows were threatened to be flown off. Unfortunately, the window of the office of the school principal was totally damaged so she now holds office in an almost-bare room with an open window, helpless prey to bad intentions. This state of the school is reflective of all the public schools affected by the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan. This has dampened the spirit of the students to go to school. Aside from seeing the pitiful state of their school, almost all the students have lost their school necessities… papers, ballpens, notebooks. It is for this reason that we, at The 601 Habit, found it imperative to uplift these children’s spirits by visiting them and giving each of them a school supplies kit. We are so lucky to have an Iloilo-based “Friend of The 601 Habit”, Pamela Ng-Yoo, who was very generous with her time and effort in packing all the 211 school supplies kit. And as an added bonus, we brought a television with dvd player for their audio-visual needs. It was a request they weren’t sure would be granted… we didn’t have the heart to refuse such a simple request which would benefit the whole student population.

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It was inexplicable to personally witness the joy that the kids felt upon receiving their individual school supplies kit. It was even more heart-warming seeing the kids read the Christmas cards that went with each pack. The Christmas cards idea was suggested by Anne Campos, one of The 601 Habit ladies. Seeing the faces of the kids while reading their cards with personal greetings written by some Korean families and by The 601 Habit ladies shows that the Christmas cards added more heart to the gesture.

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Mrs. Corazon Tupas, the school principal, was very glad to have received the television set and the dvd player. She told me that their television was destroyed during the typhoon. The new set will benefit all the students and they can continue with their supplementary educational aid through the use of educational videos which they schedule for the students to watch.

I am personally happy that we were able to help. But seeing the school grounds and watching the students over there, obviously there’s much more to be done. But we can’t be everything for everyone. And we can only do so much.


All photos in this post are by Pong Serdena III.

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Searching for the Malangabang Fishermen

iloilo, life in the Philippines, pinoys in korea, The 601 Habit

Original post was published at ABS-CBN GLobal-Filipino on January 13, 2014 titled How Pinays in Seoul Helped Fishermen In Iloilo Island.

I am reposting with additional pictures:

When our Seoul-based all-women group, The 601 Habit, decided to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, we had no concrete project in mind. It could probably just have been the usual sending of money to the Philippines through trusted organizations like the Red Cross.

It was by chance that I got to read a news report by Nestor Burgos about a group of fishermen from an island-barangay from Brgy. Malangabang, Concepcion, Iloilo. The fishermen, led by Kagawad Sonny Ciriaco, were asking for fishing boats instead of the usual relief aid. Our group was struck by one of the fishermen, Raul Hipolito’s, words “How can we live if we cannot fish?”

After our group decided to breathe life to “The Life Boat Project”, I tasked myself to get in touch with these fishermen. They were, after all, the inspiration behind this undertaking.

While simultaneously implementing the project in other affected areas, I got in touch with Mr. Burgos. He would be the best source so I could get in touch with anyone he mentioned in the news report. Luckily for us, Mr. Burgos found his notes and gave me the number of Kagawad Sonny Ciriaco. While still in Seoul, I started calling Kagawad Sonny.

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The fishermen who inspired us to do “The Life Boat Project”. Kagawad Sonny Ciriaco in black shirt and Mr. Raul Hipolito in white shirt (right) (photo by Pong Serdena III)

We agreed to meet on my group’s first visit to Concepcion after we distributed school supplies kit and a television and DVD set to Brgy. Macalbang Elementary School. We met. We talked. He presented a list of 54 beneficiaries complete with dependents. He did as he was requested. He did his job. And he was ready when he faced us.

He was steadfast in their needs, as they had been when they were first interviewed a few days after the typhoon took away almost everything they had.

They needed boats to start living the life they had always lived. They needed boats so they can feed their families again as they had always done. I was so glad we have the capacity to give them – albeit just half of it – what they needed the most at this time.

We have the capacity to give because we are surrounded by generous hearts. It wasn’t hard to ask for help for “The Life Boat Project”. As our group is based in Seoul, we have so many Koreans who were ready to help out. We didn’t have to beg. They understood and they believed.

As a group, it was easy to move and go forward with the plans. Everyone put their hearts into the task. Everyone was passionate about the idea to be able to help… long-term. And we have the support of Korea’s first foreign-born Assembly member, Representative Jasmine Lee. Without her, this project wouldn’t have reached this magnitude.

In just 10 days after our first meeting, Kagawad Sonny was able to gather people and resources to put together 26 boats. They were able to deliver. And we delivered. We provided the financial requirement – they provided the manpower and the skills. They knew what kind of boats they needed.

Just as they braved the waters days after Typhoon Haiyan hit them, we – The 601 Habit together with reliable friends – returned the gesture. We braved the strong waves for one hour until we reached the shores of Brgy. Malangabang. The visit became more special as Representative Jasmine Lee took the time to be with us and inspire the fishermen.

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With Representative Jasmine Lee, center; Ms. Laarni Oh and Ms. Pamela Ng-Yoo (left) (photo by Pong Serdena III)

I specifically requested Kagawad Sonny to also introduce Raul Hipolito to us. He was one of the fishermen interviewed in that news article. I was just so happy to see him for he is no longer just a name for me. I am personally humbled to meet them who, only a few weeks ago, I was just reading in the news. The sleepless nights were all so worth it when I finally met and personally hear their thanks for giving them their needs.

For some reason, the day we went to the island was alternating between sunny and rainy. Some beneficiaries (some lived in other islands) in another location where we also turned-over some fishing boats didn’t make it due to the strong waves on December 28.

We arrived past 5 in the afternoon, dusk already. But along the shoreline, we saw families waiting. There was no time to fix our windblown hairs and sticky faces. We immediately addressed the eagerly waiting crowd, again humbled by the warm welcome.

We could have stayed longer. In fact, we stayed longer than what was safe for us. We couldn’t resist the fresh crabs served for our group. At 7:30 p.m., Kagawad Sonny had to shyly ask us to start sailing back to the mainland. It was dark, and even darker in the waters where we can see nothing around us but just feel the strong waves.

We could only hope that we left the island with happy families, ready to face the New Year with renewed strength to battle storms that regularly come their way.

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Malangabang Island turn-over (photo by Pong Serdena III)

As for us, we were filled with joy. We fulfilled a self-imposed mission to deliver. There’s more to be turned-over in different locations. But for the fishermen of the island of Malangabang, know that you are special.


Iloilo: Wawa, A Heritage Restaurant


I was born in Iloilo, grew up and studied there until I opted to try Manila after college. And so, from time to time I would love to post something about Iloilo and its people, the Ilonggos.

Let me start with Wawa, a heritage restaurant located at Jaro, Iloilo. I was intrigued with the place the first time I saw it. It wasn’t there before. My eyes was immediately drawn to the place because it’s a quaint little structure along a busy street I am totally familiar with. It turned out to be a restaurant! And it just opened last year.

It looks like an art gallery from the outside. The giveaway was of course its name. There was nothing on the first floor save for the front display. There’s a staircase leading to the small but cozy restaurant space.

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I instantly fell in love with the ambiance. I could stay there for hours over interesting chit-chats with girl friends. In fact, for my first time, I went there with Mommy-friends while our kids were at school.

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The place is not monotonously occupied by tables and chairs like your typical restaurant. It has small tables for two, a lounging sofa right at the center of the room, a big dinner table with a glass top covering beautiful decorative shells.

This is the dinner table accentuated by a big shell:

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I just had to bring my kids there. I told them about this place where we can have a nice, quite dinner date and being a “heritage restaurant” they can learn some things about Iloilo:-).

We were there on a beautiful night and they were immediately drawn to this kiddie table with kiddie chairs:

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Unfortunately, the kiddie table is too small for my kiddos… The “kiddie size” had been exaggerated a little bit that it’s actually not usable.

With too many details around the place, kids took interest with almost everything that they can see. And by everything, I mean all the little figurines, wood displays and pictures. They like the open space as they can look out and watch the jeepneys passing by:

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We were there on a cool February night. I don’t know how the restaurant feels on a hot and humid summer night. There’s no air conditioner, maybe being consistent with its theme?

Nighttime is the best time to visit the place. The chandeliers and the colored lights surrounding the open windows add a romantic ambiance.

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I would say kudos to the designer and owner of the place, PJ Aranador, who obviously spent so much effort in putting details to the interiors of the restaurant. There are pictures around of old Iloilo. There’s some history in the menu book! But my! To incorporate history in a menu booklet isn’t really a great idea. You feel like you have to go through an academic reading requirement before you can check the menu. I think, the “historical concept” in the menu was… hmmmm, too much.

But, I love the “banggerahan” (the sink) area.

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At the other side, there’s even a “pugon” used for cooking. One uses a charcoal to use this “pugon” for cooking. I had a good time telling the kids about this.

Below the sink is a little too fancy to be realistic but for aesthetics, it’s good enough:-):

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Fortunately for us, the dishes we ordered were delicious. We just had to wait a little longer. I noticed there was only one staff serving us and the other customers. I don’t know how many are in the kitchen… possibly just one staff, too.

Overall the place has a cozy ambiance. At night, it is even romantic. For its uniqueness and its effort to be different, it’s worth a visit. I think I went there thrice. I just had to veer away from the self-importance of the designer and the owner. So, I stopped reading the materials. Instead, I allowed myself to enjoy the sight and the cool breeze.

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Iloilo: An Ilongga in The Voice of the Philippines

celebrities, iloilo

Hear ye! Hear ye!

The lady from Iloilo, Miss Sawsan Muhammad:



As the judges said, she’s a complete package.

And she chose Lea Salonga as her mentor…

She’s so passionate! I mean, Lea.

I’m following her! I mean, Sawsan.



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We Left Iloilo with a Bang!

education, iloilo

We stayed in Iloilo for close to one year. And it was a good year for my boys. They were very busy with activities that occupied their everyday life. Swimming, tennis, kumon. Playdates, weekend actions, planned and surprise visits from their daddy… it was exciting! Definitely, a lot of memories to remember with fondness.

The day we left was the day of their culminating activity from the Iloilo Montessori School. There was no better way to leave Iloilo but through this grand production from Montessori (video shows the finale):

Firstborn played the role of Ted from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Of course, hubby and I were proud of this new achievement of our son. And we were prouder to watch our 3-year old Second-born dance cutely on stage. Adorable, adorable little one! With his charm, I am pretty sure he will get the same chances as his Kuya at the right age and at the right time.

We made new friends! And we left not with heavy hearts but with excitement of the many possibilities of our next meeting.

“We only part to meet again”. - John Gray

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Vote for Iloilo City: New 7 Wonders Cities of the World


The campaign for Iloilo City to be part of the New 7 Wonders Cities of the World formally started yesterday at SM City Iloilo.

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In my almost 1 year stay here in Iloilo with my 2 kids, I have come to appreciate the city once again… after all, this is where I was born and this is the place where I grew up in. There are so many improvements, more places to go to and more things to do.

So, please support Iloilo CIty. Make it Number 1.

Please follow these steps on how to vote:

1. Visit

2. Choose “South East Asia & Oceania”

3. Choose “ILOILO CITY”

4. Choose other 6 less popular cities from other regions

5. Type the words as seen on the “captcha”

6. Enter your email address

7. Click the box with “I agree to the Terms and Conditions”

8. Click “Vote”

9. Share with your friends and encourage them to vote also

Let’s start our own campaign and let’s start voting!


A Wish to go Boating

iloilo, photography

There was a wish…

and it started here!

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Barotac Nuevo 2013

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An After-Class Drive to Experience the “Haw-as”

iloilo, life in the Philippines

One afternoon, kiddos and I had a road trip with the fishpond in Barotac Nuevo as our destination. I wanted them to see the “haw-as”, an Ilonggo dialect term for fish harvest. It was the day for harvesting the “bangrus” (milkfish). I was sure it would be an experience for them!

We arrived at the sprawling 45-hectare property of fishpond. Kiddos were hesitant at first and maybe… a little bit disappointed. I can’t blame them. All they saw when they got down the car were fields of fishpond with a narrow road dividing the property in between. The workers and the caretaker were busy with the last batch of harvest of the day.

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the caretaker

All the bangrus from various fields are directed towars a narrow field where they will be harvested like this:

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All the fish caught will then be securely transferred where big chunks of ice will retain its freshness

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until they will be sorted out based on their sizes.

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Unfortunately, this batch isn’t as big as the previous harvests. But these bangrus are still worth something because they were harvested at the time when fish demand a high price, I was told.

While the trays are being uploaded, the caretaker and the lady in-charge of the inventory reports to the owner of the fishpond.

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And as is always the wont of some residents around the fishpond who hears about the harvest, they stay around and wait for some blessings:-):

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No matter how a little bit disappointing the harvest is, they always end up with a few pieces each… good enough for a meal or two.

In the meantime, these trays

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are ready to be delivered to the Iloilo Fishing Port where a waiting wholesaler is ready to take them in and market vendors are ready to buy them and bring them to different markets around the city.

And what became of the kiddos? Of course, they enjoyed it!

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How could they not when they were allowed to touch!

Oh, yes! It was a good, different experience for the kiddos. Firstborn was even inspired to write about it. Ssshhhh!… I stole his writing and published it here.

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ASAP in Dinagyang: What You Don’t See on TV

holidays/special days, iloilo

ASAP 18 had a live show from the Iloilo Sports Complex during the Dinagyang Festival here in Iloilo. Of course, the television screens reflected a jam-packed venue:-). Sorry to disappoint but it wasn’t as filled up as it appeared:-). This one was a close shot, nearer to the stage.

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What made this afternoon interesting for me was not the celebrity sightings but the people in the venue:

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anything and any way to impress his girl

Isn’t she lucky? She has her man ready to give in to her whims so she could see the celebrities on stage. Well, at some point in our lives we go through this little bit of craziness:-).

For those who do not have partners, they content themselves with these piled blocks:

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There were several of these piled blocks there which some spectators used to elevate themselves to be able to see the entertainment and the entertainers. I did use one pile left by someone else hehehe…

And since this was in the Iloilo Sports Complex, one group of youngsters used the balance beam:

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A security marshal asked the youngsters to go down and not use the balance beam to prevent any accident. They politely obeyed… of course! And when the marshal was out of sight, they promptly went up again… lol.

There were those who can’t stand the heat and all the standing but apparently, they still wanted to be part of the crowd:

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But, of course, amidst these crowd is a group of volunteers who are always on standby, just in case. In the meantime, they allow themselves to relax:-):

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And among all those present, here’s my hero for the day:

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