Saturday, April 26, 2014

Simple Comforts and Rural Tranquility at EPHRATHAH Farm

poolside at Ephrathah, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Farm holidays open doors to a wonderful country experience where one can meet the locals, enjoy the food and the whole immersion into a different culture. And you cannot just get this if you book into a hotel. Farm holidays provide every visitor with wonderful rural aspects, peaceful location and total relaxation.

In Iloilo, visitors will sure find some quiet haven to relax, whether it be a mountain resort or a farm house set in an undulating countryside. Visitors will surely have an enjoyable family holiday that will remember.

This summer, staying on a farm or Agri-tourism destination is an entertaining and educational activity for the whole family and gets you up close with the rural heart of Iloilo.

Ephrathah Farm in Barangay Sariri in Badiangan, Iloilo, Engr. Eddie Cańuto employs 52 people, all locals of the municipality to oversee its 7-hectare organic farm and another 7- hectare inland resort.

Ephrathah is a campsite for the youth and retreat area. The farm offers camping opportunities for educational groups and schools to learn about the local environment. It also provides opportunities for walking and encourages students to promote conservation and habitat management. It has separate dormitories for boys and girls with 7 double-deck beds each with separate communal toilet and bath. Construction of an Olympic-size swimming pool is on its way and is expected to be done by the end of 2014 along with its 500 meter zip-line, wall climbing and rappelling area, boating area for kids, ATV lanes and motorbike trails.

bedroom good for 3 with private veranda facing the ancestral pond, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Ephrathah is an agri-tourism center. The bountiful 7-hectare family farm yields papayas, dragon fruit, peppers, pumpkins, leafy vegetables, eggplants, rice, organic brown eggs and other treasures. Rounding out the farm operation, the Cańuto’ sell Ephrathah juice, a very healthy and refreshing concoction of lemon grass, ginger, calamansi, malunggay and basil. The farm also offers a different experience of Ilonggo farm life. By request, the farm also offers seasonal fruit picking activities in their farm. Bed and Breakfast accommodation on the farm is very comfortable and all bedrooms are en-suite and decorated to a high standard. For those who would want to stay overnight, it has eight (8) air-conditioned rooms that can accommodate a group of 3 persons with its own private toilet and bath, cable television, wi-fi, its own veranda, free use of pool and breakfast for 2 that run anywhere from P2, 300 to P2, 500.

the organic restaurant that can accommodate a group of 50, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Ephrathah is a wedding destination. It has a pavilion that can cater to 150-200 maximum persons. A glass chapel is also under construction and is expected to be open to the public by the end of this year. It also has a restaurant that boast of organic menu such as steamed tilapia, pork or chicken pinangat, native chicken binakol, bicol express and chicken or pork sate. The restaurant can cater to a maximum of 50 persons.

healthy and refreshing Ephrathah juice, photo by Bombette G. Marin

The Cańutos’ promotes organic farming with their whole hearts and Mr. Cańuto expects organic farming to remain strong in the coming years. He believes that Ilonggos will not only nurture the sector because of its perceived environmental and social benefits but also because of its expanding market opportunity. And that by establishing the farm, it will help increase public awareness of environmental and potential health benefits, better organization and production techniques and that patronizing organic produce from local farmers will maintain a healthy environment.

At Ephrathah farm you will discover peaceful surroundings, wide open views across the fields, friendly hosts and a relaxing ambience. Indoors we have lovely comfortable bedrooms, cozy surroundings, delicious food, lovely country walks. 

The agricultural town of Badiangan is situated 40 kilometers from the city. It is politically subdivided into 31 barangays with a land area of 6,335 hectares. To get to Ephrathah, one can get a tricycle ride at the Janiuay Public Market. For more information and reservations please contact (033) 3931090 or at 09054304861.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CARABAO-CARROZA Festival: Keeping Pavia’s Traditional Culture Alive for 42 Years

photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn

The Carabao-Caroza Festival of Pavia, Iloilo is one of the celebrated local traditions of this agro-industrial town apart from its native delicacy, the “baye-baye” and pottery making. Though similar festivities can be seen in other parts of the Philippines where the colorful parades are held in common with other towns and villages, the celebration is Paviahons way of paying tribute to the water buffalo, a fantastic and very important contributor to the local farmers in the area.

photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn
Every 3rd of May, the town presents a gala appearance with buntings. Promptly, at 7:00 a.m., the band starts playing loudly as spectators shout with joy. Crowds from surrounding barangays gather to see the colorful parade as it marches along the streets of the poblacion.

photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn
Leading every participating barangay in the procession are contesting colorfully-decked carrozas driven by carabaos where owners curry them until their bodies shine, then adorn the beast with flowers and ribbons, others paint their animals and take them in procession to the racing ground. The bamboo carrozas are elaborately decorated, oftentimes with three-dimensional figures which appear to float on the surface of the street. Each carroza is an original work of art and is every year designed new from the ground up. The artist of the carroza solicits potential sponsors within the barangay to fund the construction. Artists design the carroza that will not only draw favorable attention from the crowd and the judges, but one that will also catch the eye of television crews and photographers that cover the parade. The carroza parade is expected to remain an important part of celebration. The carrozas are expected to become more elaborate and technically sophisticated as artists vie for the attention of a wider audience.

photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn
An added attraction to the parade are the eighteen barangay muses in traditional Filipino costume join the parade, enthroned in their carrozas surrounded by flowers and local produce known in the barangay. Local officials participate in the procession and are dressed in colorful shirts and sporting traditional buri hats. The marching is accompanied by drum and bugle corps from elementary schools in the area.

The festival’s centerpiece is the carabao race that has become a culture and an attraction for tourists and visitors. After the parade, the carrozas proceed to the grandstand of Pavia National High School for the fun and entertaining flat and carroza races of carabaos in the school’s 110-meter track. The race is a simple carabao race in which mostly the owner, ride bareback on the well-manicured football field and usually lasts no more than 60 seconds. It is not common though for the riders to be thrown off their carabaos while racing to the finish line. Carabaos go neck and neck during the race. The race has even become a serious business among the participating farmers.

photo by Harold Agustin Ziegenhohn
This festival is about sharing experiences, giving inspiration and entertainment. The celebration is a direct reflection of Pavia’s culture.  It is this town’s method of sharing the story they want to tell. The annual celebration of the festival ensures that, in the coming decades, the younger generation of Pavianhons  will still come together to celebrate and listen to the stories of their families and friends, of their history and background and that they will be able to retell the stories when they grow older.

Pavia is 9.6 kilometers north of Iloilo City. Though known to be one of the smallest municipalities in the province with an area of only about 2,703 hectares, it is tagged as the Agr-Industrial Center of the Region.  Politically subdivided into 18 barangays, the municipality is bordered by the municipalities of Oton, San Miguel, Sta. Barbara, Leganes and Iloilo City. For more information, please contact, Mrs. Susan Jovero – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09173009041.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SURONG Festival: Showcasing the Cultural Traditions of Janiuay

photo by M. Villa courtesy of Discover Janiuay Page

The municipality of Janiuay will celebrate its 3rd Surong Festival on April 24-26, 2014. With the theme, “Surong Festival: Nagapakusog sang Turismo kag Nagapabakod sang mga Negosyante sa Pagpasad sang Mapag-on kag Mainuswagon nga Banwa,” the celebration will be highlighted by its Kinabun or tribe performances on April 26, Saturday at 3 p.m.

photo courtesy of M. Villa of Discover Janiuay Page

Surong is an eco-agri and cultural festival. It also showcases the journey of every Janiuaynons in all the challenges and adversities of their lives. The festival intends to build a strong common future among its people, rooted in their historically rich common past.

photo courtesy of  M. Villa of Discover Janiuay Page

Janiuaynons are known for their strength of character. They are brave, tireless and prayerful. They see life’s challenges as a blessing and that it comes into a persons’ life for a reason. And chooses to learn valuable lessons from the challenges they encounter. Janiuaynons believe that to be able to reap their benefits, they should accept them with absolute faith. They believe that the more difficult the adversity, the more valuable will be the lessons it offers to teach. By exercising faith in a power greater than themselves, they discover they are not alone in any adversity.

Janiuay is a showcase of natural history and dramatic landscapes. It is also an ideal place to combine relaxation and adventure. It is also a sought after destination by adventurous tourists. Many natural and historical attractions await visitors in this place complemented with routes to explore.

RUINS OF SAN JULIAN PARISH CHURCH was built on baked bricks and corals with its Neo-classical architecture with byzantine elements. Originally, it measured 75 meters long and 16 meters wide. It stands on a hill fronting the municipal park. During its construction, red bricks, sandstone and limestone were used. It was finished in February 1770. It was said that its belfry used to carry three magnificent bells, the largest weighing close to a ton.  World War II damaged the belfry, and the bells were lowered to ground after the war. The largest bell crashed down during the relocation and suffered a crack 18 inches (460 mm) in length from its lip upwards. When sounded it gives a distinct baritone rattling sound that can be heard for miles. It is now mounted in the new church's belfry that was built in the late 1960’s. The bricks from the ruins were used to construct the Japanese Landing Field in Tiring now the New Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan.

photo by Jun Fuerte

JANIUAY CATHOLIC CEMETERY of Neo-gothic architecture was constructed in 1875. Known to be one of the most artistic Spanish Colonial cemetery in the entire Philippines, it is made up of three dramatic grand arched gates, it has individual staircases made from slabs of stones and limestone blocks. It was said that the entire materials of the cemetery were quarried as far as the town of Dingle and were hauled by 52 carabaos. The cemetery is fenced by steel and supported by columns made of coral stone. The centerpiece is the octagonal-shaped capilla built by artisans from Manila. It has lancet-shaped doors and windows. This would have been a place of final vigils and services for the dead. Construction was under the watchful supervision of an Agustinian friar, Fr. Fernando Llorente with actual construction being undertaken by Don Placido Marin through forced labor. In November 20, 1885, the cemetery was finished and inaugurated by Archbishop Payo.

photo by Bombette G, Marin

WORLD WAR II JAPANESE PILLBOXES on both ends of the bridge in Janiuay overlooks the the Suage River. Both pillboxes, one is about 25 feet tall with a diameter of 9 feet were riddled with bullet holes that tell the story of some fierce fighting and resistance to the Japanese occupation of the area during the war by the resistance guerrillas. Both pillboxes are still intact. Japanese Pillboxes are dug outs where soldiers use to shoot from in World War II.

DAMIRES HILLS TIERRA VERDE is a leisure farm with a touch of contemporary Filipino hospitality. Situated in Barangay Damires, it is a perfect blend of adventure and tranquility. The resort is situated within a very natural surrounding equipped with facilities and amenities for your fun and convenience. The resort has an Infinity Pool, Fountain and Kiddie Pool, a Restaurant and Bar, Picnic Huts and Cottages, Overnight Cottages, Zipline Adventure, Kids Adventure Park, Farm and Fruit Picking, Biking with ATV Trail and Trekking, Ropes Course and Team Building Facilities. The resort is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every weekdays; Saturdays at 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. till 8 p.m. For more information please call 09096991390/ 09176325901 or email at

Approximately 29 kilometers from the city, the town occupies a fertile plain that is bordered by Cabatuan to the south; to the southwestern part by Maasin; to the eastern part, with which it share a border along Mina; Lambunao to the north; and by the Province of Antique to the west. The Janiuay mainland comprises 60 barangays in its 17,910-hectare land area. To get to Janiauy one can take a jeepney at the terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro, Iloio City. For more information please call Miss Corel Hanna Locsin-Yap, Municipal Tourism Officer at (033) 3171709 or 5318719.

Monday, April 21, 2014

KATAGMAN Festival: Bringing Ilonggos to the Excitement and Entertainment of History

Katagman Festival in Oton is designed to inspire, excite and inform Ilonggos and help them make a personal connection with the past and with the community. This year, the municipal government is proud to offer interesting and relevant programs and events that enrich the lives of Ogtonganons and offer every Ilonggos a unique perspective – and a great time.

The scenic and peaceful countryside of Oton is transformed into one of the most festive towns with so much amazing entertainment for all the family. With the theme, “Ogtong sang Una, Karon kag sa Palaabuton: Maskara nga Bulawan Amligan, Ipasundayag Padulong sa Kauswagan,”the very friendly municipality of Oton will celebrate its 442nd Foundation Day Celebration and its 13th Katagman Festival with series of special events that will open on April 28 (Monday) with a Mass, Parade, Opening of Agri Fair, Garden Show and OTOP Fair in the morning and the Search for Hiyas Sang Katagman at 7 p.m.; April 29 (Tuesday) FITS Day, Laro ng Lahi in the morning and the Search for Ginoong Erpat and Ginang Ermat at 6:30 p.m.; April 30 (Wednesday) Borador sa Katagman at 7 a.m. in Barangay Trapiche, Lampirong Diving Contest at 7 a.m. at the Municipal Fishport and the Awarding of Outstanding Ogtonganons and Young Achievers at 7 p.m.; May 1 (Thursday) Iloilo-Batiano Eco Walk at 5:30 a.m. (will take-off at Oton Plaza), On-the-Spot Painting Contest at 8 a.m. at the Heritage Lagoon, and Zumbra I (Tatoo/ Motorshow/ Rap and Band Performances) at 1 p.m. at the Multi-purpose Gymnasium, Katagman Street Dancing Competition at 3 p.m., Katagman Dance-Drama presentation at 6 p.m.; May 2 (Friday) Porma Balas at 7:30 a.m. at the Municipal Fishport, Motorboat Race/ Baroto Race at 7:30 a.m. at the Municipal Fishport, Awarding of Fishing Tournament, Lampirong Shelling and Eating Contest at 7:30 a.m. at the Municipal Fishport; May 3 (Saturday) 442nd Foundation Day Mass at 2 p.m.

It is believed that the present name of the town, Oton, is a Hispanized version of the phrase “Ogtong Adlaw” which means noontime. According to the story, the native gave this phrase when they were asked by Spanish exporters as to the time of the day. Many people up to now still refer to the town as Ogtong.

The Spanish conquest of Iloilo started in 1566 in Ogtong. Spanish authorities, led by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, approached the natives in the area with an entirely different attitude. Spain’s strong sense of supremacy which is common with other Spanish colonies is that the church and the state are inseparable when carrying out Spanish objectives. The Church took care of spiritual matters. Led by Fr. Martin de Rada of the Agustinian Order, Spanish authorities evangelized and converted the local inhabitants from their primal religion to Roman Catholicism. They also made Ogtong as their hiding fort until 1569. It was in 1572 when Ogtong became the seat of Spanish government and of Christianity. The State took care of temporal matters as civil administration built upon the traditional village organization and used traditional local leaders to rule indirectly for Spain.

However, long before Spanish conquest, Ogtong was said to have been an advanced society where the natives enjoy substantial wealth from trading with people from the east. Regular trade and cultural contacts already existed as written records reveal that Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics were found in the area. It is said that somewhere near the present Batiano Bridge was once one of the five ancient major Malay ports in Iloilo.

In the 1960s anthropologists Alfredo Evangelista and F. Landa Jocano excavated an open pit burial in Barangay San Antonio and found a death mask made of very thin gold with one piece used to cover the eye and the other piece placed on the nose. Pre-Spanish ceramic trade wares had also been retrieved.

Katagman Festival recognizes the historical significance of the golden mask to the community. It supports the values of Oton’s history set up to promote the understanding, importance and enjoyment of its past to the widest possible audience of all ages.

Oton is a First Class municipality. Approximately 10.2 kilometers away from Iloilo City, the town is bordered in the east by the district of Arevalo in Iloilo City; west by the municipality of Tigbauan: north by San Miguel; and the southern portion by a stretch of shoreline of the Sulu Sea. Made up of 37 barangays, the town has a total land area of 8,456 hectares. For more information, please contact Mrs. Irene Otero – Municipal Tourism Officer at (033) 3351014.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

12th Historic Bantayan Festival of Guimbal

photo courtesy of LGU-Guimbal

One of the most enjoyable ways to experience Guimbal history first hand is to attend to its annual festival taking place every April.  To share in the fun, interest and passion of its historic era, series of special events showcasing this town’s culture will provide an opportunity for guests to experience its intimate charm through this festive occasion celebrated this year on April 8-12.

photo courtesy of LGU-Guimbal
The five-day festivity will open on April 8 (Tuesday) with a Mass at the Catholic Church at 2:30 p.m., Float and Street Dancing Competition at the Poblacion Area at 4 p.m., Opening Program and Drum Beat Competition at the Amphitheater at 7 p.m.; April 9 (Wednesday) Search for Anyag Kang Bantayan at the Amphitheater at 8 p.m.; April 10 (Thursday) Boat Racing at the Bantayan Beach Resort at 8 a.m., Porma Balas and Pita Lawas at the Bantayan Beach Resort at 8:30 a.m., Fluvial Parade at the Guimbal Shoreline at 1:30 p.m., Re-enactment of the Moro Raids at the Bantayan Beach Resort at 2:30 p.m., 10th Bantayan Indie Film Festival at the amphitheater at 8 p.m.; April 11 (Friday) Musical Concert with Artists at the amphitheater at 8 p.m.; April 12 (Saturday) Tribal Dance Competition at the Poblacion at 3 p.m, Merry Making at Rizal Street at 5 p.m., Awards Night and Fireworks Competition at the amphitheater at 9:30 p.m. The Food Festival and Agricultural Fair will run from April 8-12 at the Public Plaza. All of our events are open to the public and family-friendly.

photo courtesy of LGU-Guimbal

History would tell us that piracy was rampant in the Philippines as early as 1595 where Muslim Moros or pirates raided several pueblos in the Visayas. Their favorite targets were Spanish held territories especially the coastal resettlements populated by Christianized natives.

photo courtesy of LGU-Guimbal
Riding in caracoas or out-triggered vessels with thirty to forty rowers on each side, the pirates, known for their murderous and barbaric acts pillaged the islands as they were drawn by the prize of more captives. Predation in those times was principally a matter of maritime kidnapping where the Muslim Moros carry the Christian Filipinos into slavery. They were also drawn by the gold and silver ornaments in the churches of the Spanish friars. Churches were despoiled by burning them down to ashes, chalices and images were abused.

The Christianized coastal pueblos suffered for many years as many were placed to torches that devastated everything. The natives suffered from oppression. This later on drove them to rebellion. They resisted by revolted against the Muslim Moros where many of them participated in the struggles, whether as a rebel or Spanish auxiliary.  The natives became courageous and warlike.

photo courtesy of LGU-Gumbal
For 12 years, Guimbal has been retelling its history through its much-anticipated dance-drama competition which highlights the historic the battle that took place between the natives and the Muslim pirates. It also brings to life the experiences of its people during the Spanish era.

The drummers provide the foundation and energy for the presentation. Their intricate and complex rhythm changes direct the dancers and form readily identifiable signatures during performances. The presentations have always been extremely well-received by the public.

Just a few minutes from the city, you will discover Guimbal through its charming coastline, with a working waterfront dotted with resorts, restaurants, historic structures, there is something for the whole family.

The town is 29 kilometers south from the city. It shares borders with Tigbauan on the east; on the northeast by Tubungan; Igbaras on the northwest; and west by Miag-ao. With a land area of 44.61 square kilometers it is politically subdivided into 33 barangays. One can ride a jeepney in the South Bound Terminal in Mohon, Oton, Iloilo. For more information, please contact Mrs. Karen Gayanilo-Felicio, Municipal Tourism Officer at 09177222477 or (033) 3155277/ 3155288.

Celebrating Tubungan’s Colorful and Vibrant Cultural Festival

Tubungan, Iloilo on its 250th Foundation Anniversary will celebrate the 17th Tubong-Tubong Festival, the town’s tradition that runs ...