Thursday, November 18, 2021

Where "ART" Thou?

My brother died last March of this year. He was an artist. He was far from us when he died from a vehicular accident. Browsing over his files, he has left with us his very impressive gallery. Those pieces of artwork might have been gifted, commissioned or sold somewhere else. If anyone possesses those master pieces, please give us a picture of those artworks. We are keeping our fingers crossed that those paintings are being well taken care of. 

These are my brother's, Marlon, paintings:

Should anyone who possesses the paintings decide to let go of them, please let us know. We would be glad to take care of the paintings that serve as memories of my one and only brother.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Three Days in Marrakesh, Morocco

Colorful attire of performers in Chez Ali
I spent three solid days in Marrakesh in 2018 and it will always be unforgettable. The rest of the other days were spent on plane travelling with two transit flights - Dubai and Casablanca - before finally setting foot at the famous travel destination in Africa, Marrakesh.

Dry land just near the hotel where I stayed
I missed a lot of nice places in Marrakesh because there was no time to explore further away from my hotel. I was focused at a work-related activity then. Nevertheless, even if I just had a sojourn, I will always treasure the experience and share that Marrakesh is artistically beautiful and literally beautiful - with its beautiful people.

When in Morocco, one can have a Sahara dessert tour. Even outside our hotel, a dry land is just nearby, giving one a little glimpse of what Saraha looks like. Should I be back there, I would be glad to have a tour on the dessert.

Entrance to Chez Ali
Amid very cold weather, we were eager to watch the performance
There are more horses in the performance
We were ushered to a place called Chez Ali in one of the cultural activities by the host nation. I enjoyed the gunpowder show where horse riders give performance together with a huge number of performers. One will be stunned with a sounds of the gunpowder being fired but one should not miss the action. Despite very cold weather, tourists patiently wait for the performance.

Marrakesh is known for palaces, gardens and mosques. I missed to visit those historical and famous sites. However, even if I just stayed in the hotel, I was amazed by the artistry everywhere I go. Just take a look at these pieces of art. These are colorful center table and side cabinet and imagine the artistry spent to create the masterpiece.

Center table

Side cabinet
Of course, there will always be a garden everywhere. The pathways are well maintained and crafted to have the gardens neat. I wish I would have visited the medina and historical gardens but I did not have time for personal tours outside the area. 

Morocco is known for a mix of influences of the world from Europe to Africa to Arabic. That makes it very interesting for me. I walked around the nearby street, it is named Mohammed VI Avenue. The pedestrian walkways are three parts - on both sides of the road and in the middle. I had a very nice experience which I can say a very different from the Philippines. I had several streets crosses and noticed that as I approached the pedestrian lane, the cars start to stop and let me go even giving me a hand signal to cross. Is that difficult to do in the Philippines? 

Marrakesh is a bike-friendly place. There are bike parking spaces and bike lanes. Even in rotonda, there are bike parking slots. There is more space for people than for cars. I have not yet figured out how EDSA will be as bike-friendly as this - maybe never.

Of course, when one is in Morocco, it is a must not to forget to bring home a Moroccan argan oil. I have known that argan tree only grows in Morocco. The tree gives the world-famous argan oil, a main ingredient in most premium beauty products. The range of products are available in the nearby Menara Mall, just connected to the hotel where I stayed. Aside from argan oil, herbs and spices, to which also Morocco is known for, are available as well. 

Range of products with Moroccan argan oil

Beauty products with Moroccan argan oil
From my three days in the historic and beautiful Marrakesh, I will always treasure the experience because I may never be able to go back there. In one of my visits to a Philippine museum, Museo ng Katipunan, I even learned that there were about one or two Filipinos who were exiled in Morocco during Spanish colonization. Maybe one day, Philippine historians can find out what happened to those Filipino revolutionists in Morroco. My brother even shared that Morocco is in his travel bucket because he was able to read one of the flyers about Morocco that I requested from the embassy when I was still in high school.

My big thanks to an international organization for bringing me to Marrakesh and to my boss for recommending me to be in Morocco. I was a bit anxious travelling alone that far but I made it. By the way, I stayed at Savoy Le Grand Hotel.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Destileria Limtuaco Museum

One of the must-do lists when you visit California in the USA is a trip to Napa Valley, where they grow grapes and make the best of their wines. In the Philippines, while we may not have Napa Valley, we have an array of tropical fruits and local raw materials to produce a world-class line of liqueur.

A former family museum, the Destileria Limtuaco Museum, is now open to the public.
The Destileria Limtuaco Museum opened its doors to the public in February 2018 despite the museum has been there as a private museum for the family. In 1979, Julius Limpe acquired the ancestral bahay na bato (house made of rock) to "enshrine the Destileria Limtuaco Museum."

I only knew before about Siok Tong, or Siok Hoc Tong wine, 
whenever I hear the brand Destileria Limtuaco.

The museum tells story of the "oldest distillery in continuous operation in the Philippines which was established by Bonifacio Lim Tua Co in Binondo, Manila in 1852, the Destileria Limtuaco & Co. Inc. It introduced and popularized the Chinese medicinal wine known as Siok Hoc Tong or Sioktong." At present the company itself is located in Grace Park, Caloocan City since 1956 while the company's museum is located in Manila City.

The museum showcases how the oldest distillery in the Philippines, the Destileria Limtuaco & Co. Inc. moved from the past and what it is now in the present. The facade of the museum is obviously of Spanish house while its entrance is a Chinese figure. Outside is a diorama of how cracking sugarcane was done with a tied carabao (water buffalo) doing the chore. It displays how it was before.

So as its flyer says, the museum has various photos, personal effects, iconic videos, array of printed materials from the past, objects of bygone eras, artisanal flavors, herbs and spirits, bottles, the red bikini among others that made the existence of Destileria since 1852.

When I was a kid, I saw those bikini-clad models in calenders of White Castle, somewhat, a Parental Guidance for us. Now, those mementos of the red bikinis are inside the museum and the White Castle whiskey as a brand has made a mark on us. The museum is divided into 12 sections, such as:

First Floor
A. The Gallery
B. A Matter of Taste
  1. How It Was Before
  2. Our Roots
  3. Our Mini-Distillery
  4. Our Process of Making Rum
  5. Our Process of Making Whiskey
  6. Ageing Matters
  7. Signed..Sealed..Delivered
  8. Home is Where the Heart Is
  9. Remember This
  10. So They Say
Second Floor
C. Best Foot Forward
D. Mark It.. Market
     11. Generational Vibe
     12. Product of Evolution
     13. And the Award Goes To

The most memorable part to me was the premium tasting. At an entrance fee of P200 pesos, (about 4 dollars only), I can taste their liqueur in the market. A total of four tastes was at hand. Much as I wanted to taste more, I was amazed that they are harnessing the Filipino tropical produce such as dalandan, manggo, coffee, sugarcane, dragon fruit, etc. I was delighted as well to see a brand of liqueur, Imeldifique. I inquired how they came to give that name, I learned that Imee Marcos came to the present generation of master blender on how the Destileria can help their farmers in Ilocos. They end up with a product named Imeldifique, after Imelda Marcos and getting raw materials from Ilocos. They also have the basi product and dragon fruit wine.

I left the museum happy that I bought with me 10 small bottles of wine. The company boasts of its export of wines made from tropical fruits like the one with mango flavor. Anyway, I can just order in big bottles online. If I was not commuting, I should have ordered the bigger ones. So nice to be given as pasalubong for relatives abroad or when going abroad. One of Destileria's line of products available for orders is called Philippine Craft Spirits and there are more products aside from this craft spirits.

The Philippine Craft Spirits:
  1. Amadeo Coffee Liqueur - a delicious infusion of fresh Philippine roasted coffee beans and the finest rum. It boasts of being one of a kind, no extra added flavor and color.
  2. Paradise Mango Rum Liqueur - the only liqueur made from sun-ripened Philippine mangoes.
  3. Very Old Captain Artisan-Crafted Dark Rum - barrel-aged in seasoned oak to perfect ripeness. 
  4. Liqueur de Calamansi - one of the Manille Liqueur Collection, made from calamansi.
  5. Liqueur de Dalandan - also one of the Manille Liqueur Collection, made from dalandan.
  6. Intramuros Liqueur de Cacao - an all-natural product using 100% roasted cacao.
  7. San Juan Lambanog - a traditional Philippine distilled spirit made from coconut.
  8. Dragon Fire Dragon Fruit Wine - fermented wine made with the meat of 100% red dragon fruit endemic to Ilocos Norte.
  9. Vigan Basi Philippine Sugarcane Wine - a premium cane wine made with sugarcane juice pressed from the best of Philippine Cane.
  10. Imeldifique Cooking Wine - made with sorghum spirit and enhanced natural Philippine onion and native garlic.
Moreover, there are souvenirs that can be bought inside the museum aside from wine. These include t-shirts, coffee mugs and note pads to name a few.

The museum services can be improved through, I think, the following ways:
First is when they can have a service for Order Now and We Deliver Later. If I want to buy right there and then inside the museum, I can pay my order and I can have it delivered at an address I want anywhere in the Philippines.

Second, in wine tasting, while the wines' raw materials come from the Philippines, it will be better to have something to pair the wine with that also comes from the Philippines. The Castello de Amorosa in Napa Valley offers bread sticks and chocolate; perhaps the Destileria can offer something Filipino. Why not peanuts, cashew or an artisanal chocolate like Theo and Filo or something coming from Cebu or Davao?

The Destileria Limtuaco Museum is located at 482 San Juan de Letran St., Intramuros, Manila.
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday; 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Entrance rates: Senior/student - P50; Adult - P100; Premium with wine tasting - P200 for adults only

For orders, visit:

They also partner with Convoy Marketing Corporation for orders and delivery:
Tel. No. (02) 361-4342; (02) 361-5161

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nagtabon Beach (Palawan)

From one of the most beautiful places in the planet, Nagtabon Beach is in the province of Palawan, Philippines. Our sojourn to the beach was unexpected. From the view deck where I was standing, we went immediately on the rush to the beach and plunged as if we were children given the chance to swim by parents. We went back all wet to the city proper of Puerto Princesa. Nagtabon Beach is indeed one of the must-visit places in the Puerto Princesa.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Calamba on the Rush

A tricyle passes through front of the plaza where map of Calamba is depicted by a huge jar.
Visiting Calamba City from Canlubang will most often be problematic if one has to go there by jeepney. Traffic situation is worse unless one has to get out of Mayapa and proceed to Calamba City proper via South Luzon Expressway by car. Nonetheless, Calamba City will always bring excitement to me.

The city of Calamba, besides being the birthplace of Jose Rizal, is home to continuing development. One morning I had to rush to the town proper as if I was in panic that I might be relieved from my present post anytime soon and I may not be able to go back to Rizal's home anymore. With my heavy backpack still with me from an out-of-town trip, I headed to the town proper where Jose Rizal's home is located. Rizal (1861-1896), being the national hero of the Philippines, brings meaning to the city, its history and the Laguna de Bay where many of his writings were hatched from the inspiration therefrom.

Rizal's family home is a symbol of being an illustrado during the Spanish occupation.
Resting place of Rizal's known parents, Francisco and Teodora.
I have been to the shrine for several times already but I would love to be back in due time. I do like the huge jar amid the plaza because it represents the barangays of Calamba. Opposite the park lies the Roman Catholic church built during Spanish occupation. It is in the said church where Jose Rizal was baptized by Fr. Rufino Collantes on June 22, 1861 with Fr. Pedro Casanas as godfather.

Westward the church is the Rizal National Shrine. The shrine is Rizal's family's home. It was restored through Executive Order No. 145 issued by President Elpidio Quirino and "with funds mainly contributed by school children of the Philippines," as the inscription says. The architect was Juan F. Nakpil and it was inaugurated in 1950. 

The spacious yard welcomes daily the people of Calamba and tourists who flock the shrine for free. Huge trees provide shelter and mementos of the family and that of Jose Rizal abound the place - inside the house and in the exhibits. The shrine also features a Filipino artist; during my visit, Bernadette Solina Wolf's art on coconut shell,  are indeed stunning.

Replica of Rizal's bahay kubo
Sto. Nino, a work of art in a coconut shell by Bernadette Solina Wolf
The shrine also houses the remains of known parents of the national hero, Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonzo. The bahay kubo (small house made of thatch), looks refreshing and is always a welcome to the visitors - children and adults.

From Rizal Shrine, I headed immediately to Kawit, Cavite where the duty guard in Aguinaldo Shrine asked me of what was Rizal's word for Aguinaldo then.