Travel

Stories from Ifugao: Innug and Noel Balenga

I’ve met so many wonderful people while traveling, some in the most random of places. While I wish I could share with you everything I’ve tried, encountered, or felt; oftentimes there is simply not enough time nor the words to adequately describe the experience. I hope to blog about them someday or maybe share them with my grandchildren when I am old and grey.

These are the two fascinating people I met during my trip to the province of Ifugao. When I had lost all hope of a story, fate intervened and I met both Innug and Noel on my 3rd day while exploring Hungduan.

INNUG, Ifugao farmer

I was not paying close attention while trekking the stonewall of the Hapao Rice Terraces. I stumbled while on the way down as my left foot stepped into a ditch, I was getting absent-minded and careless. Thankfully, I was able to hold on to Billy’s back as I fell which offered me enough stability to stand up and get my bearings. “Are you okay?” he asked. I laughed and fluffed my shirt. “No biggie,” I replied.

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Innug harvesting rice

Then out of nowhere, I spotted an Ifugao harvesting. She watched us inquisitively as we trekked by. It’s customary to ask permission before taking a photo, as most tribes fear that cameras and pictures take a bit of their soul. I was told by the guide that it was perfectly fine, and so I snapped a few.

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My Top 8 eats in Davao City

Let’s steer away from Durian for a bit and explore what else Davao City has to offer. Davao City has been so controversial as of late most especially because of our current President Digong, but this didn’t stop us from visiting this wonderful city during Kadayawan Festival at the height of Martial Law. If you’re wondering how the province is doing during Martial Law, it’s business as usual for everyone. While we were initially anxious about the military presence and constant helicopter rounds, eventually we felt safe and enjoyed the festivities.

Kadayawan is a Bagobo word that means happiness, and this annual festival celebrates Davao’s bountiful harvest through songs, dances, local tribal games, and lots of eating. Here are couple of my favorite eats that you should definitely check out when you visit:

Kaondayawan Food Festival

A new addition to the roster of Kadayawan activities, Kaondayawan (kaon in Visayan means “eat”) features hawker food stalls and unique drink concoctions. Think of it as a food park of sorts, installed at Palma Gil Street specifically for the festival.

Kadayawan 2017_Elegantly Wasted

I zeroed in on the lechon and wagyu stalls while my fellow tourists/traveling companions, Phil and Princess, ordered Lechon Shawarma and the evergreen isaw (chicken intestines). Read More

6 Fun facts about Davao City

What do you know about Davao? For me, it’s synonymous with Durian, the smelly fruit-slash-aphrodisiac that many people go crazy about. I know of Mati, the popular pristine beach and surf spot in Davao Oriental, and of course Samal Island in Davao del Norte.

For this post we’ll focus on the largest city and 3rd most populated metropolis in the Philippines (next to Metro Manila and Cebu), Davao City. Home to President Duterte and deemed as the “safest” city in the Philippines, here are 6 facts you must know about Davao City:

1. Kadayawan is a unique festival in the Philippines

The Kadayawan Festival is celebrated every 3rd week of August and is a must-see if you’re headed to Davao for the first time.  What makes Kadayawan different from Sinulog, Masskara, or Ati-Atihan? While these are all fabulous festivals (and I urge you to go to every one to experience our rich culture), Kadayawan is the only non-religious Thanksgiving celebration in the country.

Kadayawan Festival 2017

Kadayawan Festival 2017

Davao has long been considered as “garden of the Gods” for its fertile land and bountiful harvest, which is why during the 1800s Americans and the Spaniards tried to conquer this province. Food here is affordable, fresh, and delicious, so much so that there are weekly food fests in different malls and parks where a meal can go for Php 20-Php 150. I tell you, we never stopped eating in Davao City!  Read More

Mid-year Musings: On Surf and Life

“Ever since I started surfing, I realized that there is more to life than just work.”

I heard A say this during the 5-hour drive back to Manila. I was feigning sleep and listened in on the conversation. Her purported awareness was belittled by a snigger: How will you pay for the bills, he said. Or sustain yourself while living in a surf town? What, leave all responsibilities and comforts of the city behind? How is this even possible?

Admittedly, A hasn’t figured out what to do yet. All she knew was that she was dead tired doing 22-hour shifts at work and needed a break.

Surftown_Elegantly Wasted

While I totally would support her and her plans of quitting her job (I am a supporter of going on a sabbatical and taking a break if need be, for your sanity’s sake), I decided to let it simmer and think about my own battles.

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My Experience at Brigada Eskwela 2017

My family (Father’s side) are educators, born and raised in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte. Brigada Eskwela has been a joint effort of the government and community for 12 years running. I first heard about it in 2016 when I was on vacation in my hometown and promised I’d be back next year to help.

Brigada Eskwela_Elegantly Wasted 1

A few weeks before the scheduled 2017 Brigada, I got a message from my cousin that it was slated for May 15-20 — a month earlier than last year AND the same weekend I was supposed to set off for Apo Reef and swim with the sharks.

But, a promise is a promise, I booked a ticket and flew home. The sharks can wait.

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Ilocos: Tourist Spots, Where to Eat, What to Buy

It was 9:00 pm and I was still a bit sleepy from my 2-hour bus ride from Laoag City to Vigan. I waited anxiously at the Partas bus terminal amidst the flurry of passengers and conductors. I had arrived earlier this morning from Manila and the idea that I am finally in Ilocos was still simmering.

Travel Ilocos_Elegantly Wasted 2

For years I have planned to go to Vigan as many people have been urging me to visit this heritage town once inhabited by the affluent Chinese-Ilocano mestizos. A town that is unparalleled in its preservation of Spanish colonial towns. After meeting Edmar Guquib (blogger and author of Explore Ilocos) during a previous fam trip in Puerto Princesa, my resolve to visit was stronger and we finally made time to plan a visit on April.

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