BAGUIO For A Change: Next Stop

 

After checking out the Laperal White House, next stop was the Bencab Museum. I have heard a lot about it and being a lover of art, I was very excited to visit the place.

IMG_4314

Traveling to the museum was around 20-25 minutes from Baguio City.

Benedicto Cabrera, or “Bencab”, is one of the ‘best-selling’ painters of his generation and has been awarded National Artist of the Philippines for Visual Arts in 2006. Looking at his work, I would not doubt why he has been dubbed as such. His works are just amazing!

IMG_4381

 

When you get to the place, the modern industrial inspired architecture welcomes you with the iconic red Bencab signature on the imposing wall. For an affordable entrance fee of P100, you get to enter the museum and admire the artworks.

IMG_4326

IMG_4327

IMG_4335

IMG_4336

IMG_4345

 

Aside from the Bencab masterpieces, other works from Filipino artists are also on display.

 

And if ever you get worn out walking around, they have “Cafe Sabel”, their in-house restaurant overlooking the lush mountains.

 

The Bencab Museum is located at Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet, Philippines.

 

A WEEKEND IN TOKYO

One of the perks of being a performer is that you get to travel the world. Last weekend I was flown to Japan to perform in a show to raise funds for the representatives of Team Philippines – Japan for the World Championships of Performing Arts 2013, the same contest where I won in 2005.

20130621_071818

The flight to Japan is a bearable 3 hours and 50 minutes but most of the flight, I was fast asleep. Taking the morning flight on Delta Airlines, I had to be up around 3am to give enough travel time and the checking in at the NAIA Terminal 1.

The moment we landed in Japan, the first thing I noticed was how clean and fresh the surroundings were.  A light rain shower welcomed us.

20130621_132741

 

We travelled for about an hour to get settled into our hotel at the New Sanno Hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo.

20130621_152558 20130621_152605 20130621_152840 20130621_152957 20130621_153012 20130621_154253 20130621_154454

THE REAL DEAL

I am a fan of Japanese food. It’s not just a feast to the palate but also to the eyes. Edible miniature art!

20130621_203620 20130621_203742 20130621_204104

Our host brought us to one of the places in Shibuya called SUSHIZANMAI where we were treated to such amazing Japanese food!

20130621_204507 20130621_204556

We started out with the seaweed miso and the crab miso soup.

20130621_204710 20130621_204714

Ah.. to those who know me, I’m allergic to crab. So, I settled with the seaweed miso.

20130621_204803

Then I had my “broiled fatty salmon”… well, it’s grilled salmon belly. LOL

Then we feasted on different kinds of sushi.

20130621_204936

Toro & salmon (tuna and salmon sushi)

20130621_204854

Anago and ama ebi (eel & sweet shrimp sushi)

20130621_204324

Tamago (egg  sushi), Kani miso (crab paste sushi), Uni (urchin sushi)

Right after the meal, we washed everything down with a cup of hot green tea. I was pretty full but not to the point that I felt sluggish and couldn’t breathe. It was a really good feeling of being stuffed.

SHIBUYA AT NIGHT

20130622_223204

20130621_192536

Vending machines are everywhere.

20130621_224936

They still have Tower Records.

20130621_225328

20130622_222233 20130622_222343 20130622_222402

Of course, I didn’t understand anything. LOL

CYMERA_20130621_211026

After dinner, we decided to walk the streets of Shibuya to burn some calories from that amazing meal. Though it was raining, the streets were still filled with people.

 

We were told that the busiest “intersection” in the world was in Shibuya and yep! we were there to experience it.

20130622_224137_LLS 20130622_224201_LLS 20130622_224206_LLS 20130622_224211_LLS 20130622_224223_LLS

Every few minutes, when the traffic lights would change, it would be an exchange of hustling cars and walking pedestrians.

Another popular spot in Shibuya is the famous statue of Hachiko.

20130621_191951 CYMERA_20130621_210759

I’m sure most of us know the story of the dog who would wait for his master at the Shibuya train station every day until one day his master didn’t come home because of a heart attack. But still he continued to wait every single day until the day he died. That act of love and loyalty was immortalized  with a bronze statue of the famous dog.

DRUNK KARAOKE

After the second show on Sunday, I got a text from a very good friend of mine inviting me to do karaoke! Hmmm… karaoke after 2 hours of non stop singing??? Okay… I’ll just go for the drinks! And what the heck! It’s Lea Salonga who texted. Sheesh! Just a Tony Award and Laurence Olivier Awardee… Pffft! Hahahaha

20130624_012229

I asked my friend to drive me to this karaoke place called Shidax and when I stepped into the VIP room, there I saw Lea with a shot of saki in hand. But I was in for a big surprise! In that room were 2 of my Broadway idols! Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. When Lea introduced me to them, all I could do was shake their hands and say, “Of course, I know you guys…”. Ramin played lead roles in both the Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables and Sierra is popular for doing Ariel in the Broadway staging of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Also I was introduced to another performer, Japanese artist, Yu Shirota. These 4 are part of a touring show called “4 Stars”.

So I sit beside Lea and across where I was seated was Ramin and Sierra goofing around and screwing up their songs on purpose! Sigh… I just switched to fan mode. Then Ramin goes, “Hey Jed, you should do a Michael Bolton song… like How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?” I obliged but my heart was pounding. When the music played, He suddenly said, “Stop! No.. no… no… the original key is too low for you…”. Then punches the buttons bringing the pitch 2 notches higher. Eeeep! But it all went well. Hahaha

Lea and I did a “kick ass’ version of Separate Lives. Heaven.

When we left, Lea was really nice to take pictures of me with these awesome stars.

20130624_012300 20130624_012308 20130624_012337

LAST DAY

They say your trip to Japan is not complete if you don’t try the “real deal” ramen. So before heading to the airport, we dropped by this placed called Ippudo in Ropponggi.

20130624_132153 20130624_132140 20130624_132112

Their noodle wall.

20130624_132102 20130624_125102 20130624_125022 20130624_123828

We ordered what they call Akamaru.

20130624_123621

The soup is a broth made from boiling pork (including the bones) for days! Talk about really extracting the essence huh? The richness of the pork broth is enhanced by black sesame sauce, sesame seeds, green onions, garlic, seaweed, egg and the noodles! Every slurp was an experience! I also had pork dumplings on the side.

20130624_123745

Oh my goodness!!!

Pure yum!

It reminded me of our own Lapaz Batchoy but richer and more tasty.

I am definitely putting that place on the number one to do list when I get back to Japan!

You should too!

 

 

HOMETOWN

For the first entry on travel, what else would be the best place to highlight but the wonderful city of Iloilo. Being my hometown and living most of my life there, I’d say it is one place that has gone along with the times yet retaining it’s old provincial feel.

For a short 50 minute plane ride from Manila, you’re in for a whole new experience in the city dubbed as the “City of Love”.

img_0379

img_0442

Iloilo is pretty much popular for a lot of things. The Dinagyang Festival, which is celebrated every 4th week of January, is a tourist attraction which is highlighted by a competition of tribes. The participants paint themselves black, adorn themselves in lavish tribal costumes and performs synchronized choreography to the beat of drums and percussion. This is also in celebration of the feast of the Sto. Niño.

Another pride of Iloilo are the amazing churches that majestically stands in every town.

_JET9434

JET9437-1024x678

The Cathedral of the Nuestra Sra dela Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles) in Jaro is one of the most popular sites and it was where the late Pope John Paul II stopped over when he visited the city. It is also said that the statue of our Lady of Candles enshrined in front of the cathedral is said to have grown in size through the years. Stories has it that many years ago, the stone image was found washed ashore and was merely a foot tall. Now, it is approximately 5 feet.

_JET0995

 

_JET1000

The church of St. Anne in Molo is also one site to behold. Aside from being tagged as the “feminist” church because of the all-female saints that line the interiors, what makes this church iconic are the 2 red spires towering this Gothic masterpiece.

Untitled-1

For approximately a 45 minute drive from the city, one can be amazed by another structure… the church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Miagao. This church is recorded on the World Heritage List sponsored by UNESCO. It’s just so unbelievable how people can build such a structure using only eggs and limestone.

Iloilo City used to be called the Queen’s City of the South and was the home of the sugar barons and other wealthy families. They built their mansions on the island and some of them are still in their splendid glory. Here are a few of them.

messagepartThe Montinola Mansion, Jaro, Iloilo City.

messagepart-2Nelly Garden, Lapaz, Iloilo City.

messagepart-8Angelicum School, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Iloilo City is full of cultural heritage but there is another thing that it boasts of… the gastronomic experience that the city has to offer!

Of course there will always be Breakthrough and Tatoy’s in Villa, Ted’s & Deco’s Batchoy in Lapaz… but for me, there are more food places that are not so “out there”. Some of them have been running even way before I was born! So when in Iloilo, here is my list of places and their specialties that you shouldn’t fail to try.

The Angelboy & Lovergirl Pizza from Love & Kisses Pizza, Jalandoni Street, Iloilo City

Lapaz Batchoy from Netong’s Batchoy, Lapaz Public Market

Adobo Flakes, Splash Carwash & Restaurant

Asado Siopao from Kongkee Restaurant

Siopao from Roberto’s

Maki Soup from Dainty Restaurant

Fried Chicken & Chocolate Cake from Uncle Tom’s, Ninoy Aquino Avenue, Diversion Road

Bingka in front of Molo Church

Fresh pandesal from Pan de Buho

Pata and Kansi from Andres Patahan, Mandurriao Plaza

*Photos by Eric Tajanlangit except  for Dinagyang Shots. Credits to Greg de los Reyes.