Sunday, June 30, 2019

Balai Princesa, Palawan, simply fantastic

Last mid-December 2018, my former dormmate in Narra boys' dormitory in UP Diliman, Peter "Pidro" Sing, invited me and four other dormmates based in Manila to visit his projects in Puerto Princesa. Upon arrival at Puerto Princesa airport, we went straight here -- a beautiful boutique hotel,

It's simply very relaxing.

Then we went to our room, a big one for us five boys. I liked it very much.

Curious, I went outside, at the back, and I was surprised with what I saw. The jacuzzi, steam bath, hot pool area, wow.

Outside, front area near the parking lot.

The common area, simply unique.

The main restaurant. Took our yummy breakfast and hot coffee here.

From left: Jimmuel Naval, Ding Aguila, Clifford Espinosa, Pidro, Pepay, Tito Cruz, me.

Thanks again, Pidro. Kudos also to Gilie Sing, Pidro's wife, for the unique and fantastic designs and interiors, awww!

See also below the places we visited in Puerto Princesa City and its barrios:

Viet Ville, Palawan

Sydney from the air

Photos I took before landing at Sydney International Airport last May 21, 2019.

Then photos I took on my departure, May 27.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney

Last May 22, my former HS classmate Lalaine and hubby Rod toured me in this zoo near Woodcroft village, Sydney.

My first time to see a koala, frilled-neck lizard, Tasmanian devil, other animals. Here a fat and bored wombat.

My first time to see and touch a kangaroo.

A cute, sleeping koala.

An owl trying to sleep, I tried to wake it with slight noise, it didn't bother :-)

Tasmanian devil. A 'devil' because of its loud scary howl.
Then a sleeping wombat.

An Australian bustard. What a name, hahaha.

Huge Macau birds, almost the size of chicken.

Southern Cassowary. About half the size of a mature ostrich.

Black-breasted buzzard.

More kangaroos.

Thanks again, Lalaine and Rod.

Viet Ville, Palawan

Another place that we visited last December 2018 in Palawan is Viet Ville, a former Vietnamese village, people who fled the Vietnam War in the early 70s and reached Palawan by boat. After many years, almost all Vietnamese refugees there have left, many went to the US, except one or two who stayed in the village until now. They run this restaurant serving Viet food and snacks. Yummy.

Among the few remaining structures that remained intact.

Buddhist temple.

And a Virgin Mary temple.

The trees have grown bigger while the original houses have become dilapidated, except a few where some locals plus the staying Vietnamese are living.

I saw this previously-cute, now-abandoned electric tricycle. These e-vehicles are cute and nice when they are new. Once engine and battery breakdown starts, there are not many spare parts available and skilled local labor to do the repairs and upgrades.

Thanks again for that tour, Pidro Sing.

See also, Viet Ville, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, December 18, 2016.

Iwahig Penal Colony, Palawan

Another late post, photos taken last December 2018 when our friend from UP Narra dorm, Pidro Sing, hosted us. Iwahig is also known as the "jail/prison without walls", prisoners are free to walk around, do various work while serving their jail time for not-so-grave crimes. Below, the administration building.

National hero Dr. Jose Rizal is prominent in the area. It's in front of the open space then the admin building.

The main function hall. It's huge and spacious. Close when we went there though. I think the facility's top officials, local governments, other influential politicians can have a big function or party there.

A small basketball area plus mini-palengke. Prisoners and their families can buy and sell there.

Opposite view from Rizal's monument, this view from the admin building area.

Wide rice fields attended by the prisoners. They produce their own food and earn extra. I saw many prisoners walking around, they are mostly old, average age would be 50+. A person who has been sent here for jail time would be in a dilemma somehow. Staying here for many years, he has freedom to walk around, work and earn some money, have a family, there is public school for the kids and a basic health center for everyone (but not a full and equipped hospital). But the original family and friends are nowhere to see or hardly communicate as this place is hard to reach unless one has a car or rent a jeep. Would he still wish to get out and have full freedom outside the colony, and face the uncertainties of life?

I did not interview any prisoner but I think some will say Yes, others will say No.
Anyway, Ding Aguila here composing his own camera shot.

Thanks again, Pidro.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Sydney, Blue Mountain with Lalaine Balandra and family

On my 2nd day in Sydney last May 22, Mario Tiong brought me to my former HS classmate in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Lalaine Balandra and her family. They live in Woodcroft, aka "Pinoycroft" because roughly 50% of the residents there are Filipinos.

It was also the first time I saw Lalaine after we graduated from high school in 1980, or 39 years ago, haha. We got connected via facebook, along with other high school classmates.

After a 2nd breakfast that day (1st breakfast at Mario's house), Lalaine and her husband Rod brought me to a zoo near their place, then the Blue Mountain. Picture here with Lalaine at the mountain.

At Featherdale zoo, Rod and I holding a cute, small kangaroo. It  was my first time to see a real kangaroo, and touch it, nice.

Rod is from San Juan, Manila, and has been living in Sydney since late 80s I think.

A lake in Woodcroft. Nice place. 

At the Blue Mountain.

The "three sisters."

Deep blue leaves of thick forest. The place attracts thousands of visitors daily.

That night, there was a small party at the house, Lalaine's niece who lives with them had a birthday party. The couple's daughter Stephanie, her boyfriend, Lalaine's sister and her bf, they all came. Lots of food, and beer again with Rod.

The next day, May 23, after a heavy breakfast, Lalaine and Rod brought me to my hotel in the city, Four Points by Sheraton. Here about to leave their house.

Thanks again Lalaine, Rod. I really enjoyed your place and hospitality.