San Marino: The World’s Oldest and One Tiny Republic

San Marino may not be as popular as Italy, the country in which it is locked from, but it is the world’s oldest republic. Add to that is the distinction of being the world’s tiniest republic. Nestled in between the northeast and central east side of Italy, it is considered as the retirement place for most Italians.

You may wonder why there is such a republic within Italy. History will reveal a lot of happenings in the region leading the the declaration of San Marino as a republic. But never be deceived by its size because it is one of the world’s wealthiest in terms of GDP. The figures can be compared to most developed regions in Europe.

The country seems to be a quiet place but shopping hounds should make this a stop whenever they are in the region. It is to no wonder why it is a tourist haven because shopping is cheap. Since it is part of the European Union, the currency being used is the Euro.

Since San Marino is part of Europe whose people are ninety percent Roman Catholic, you can find museums, churches and castles that are just usual in the area. The whole country speaks of a rich history that made it exist on its own.

Business establishments thrive from the influx of tourists that arrive in the country. Italians as well as people from other countries visit San Marino mainly for shopping. Since it is tiny, there are not much to see.

San Marino has no airport to boast but you can go there via Venice or Bologna. Even if there is not much to see there, a visit to the republic is an educational one. Definitely, it is a country far different from Italy. San Marino has its own personality.

Many thanks to Ms. Delia Gabatin for bringing our group to San Marino. Never have I thought that I will be able to visit the world’s oldest and one of the tiniest republics.

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Camarines Sur’s Pride — Naga City

Naga City is one of the Bicol Region’s foremost cities. It is one of its pride in terms of good governance. it earned the Seal of Good Governance for years and continues to pave the way for better governance by its leaders.

It is home to several churches which are not only popular among its people but among tourists, local or foreign as well. This goes to show that the Naga City people are very much the same as other Filipinos who are religious by nature.

Proof to the people’s religiosity is their devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia which is celebrated every September which draws a lot of devotees from all parts of the country. Several foreigners also take part in this annual pilgrimage.

It is in this light that several hotels have been built to accommodate the influx of tourists not only during the Penafrancia festivities but throughout the whole year. Naga City has its share of visitors who would like to relish the hospitality of the people.

Of course, a trip to any Philippine city would not be complete without tasting the local fare. Naga City has restaurants that serve delicacies that are modern yet Bicolnon by origin. Aside from the usual fastfood chains, home-grown eating places abound.

Naga City is where you can find two of the best educational institutions — Ateneo de Naga University and the University of Nueva Caceres. They offer the best learnings that students can get. But, of course, other schools cannot be outdone.

With the construction boom of subdivisions in the city, it is safe to say that Naga is one place where families can live in peace. It is also a manifestation that the standard of life there has become more cosmopolitan through the years.

They say that traffic is a sign of progress especially in a highly-urbanized city. Yes, Naga City may be experiencing traffic their own style but isn’t it a sign that the city is becoming an important hub in the Bicol Region?

This landlocked city in Camarines Sur can be accessed by air and land. I just hope that Naga will have its own airport. It’s airport is located in Pili town which is just nearby.

With it distinct character and appeal, it is not hard to love Naga City, the pride of Camarines Sur.

Como: An Italian City Near the Alps

Como is an Italian city located at the northern part of the country and is near the border of Switzerland. It is considered a resort city sans the beach and the sea.

But it is known for its lake which is frequented by tourists. It is a picturesque area known to retirees and celebrities who make the city their second home. The atmosphere is very inviting and serene.

Despite Como’s proximity to Switzerland and distance to other local cities, the architecture and other buildings still have that Italian touch. It reminds everyone that you are still in Italy and not somewhere else.

Como is a city where the old and the new mix harmoniously. Even the old and the new generation live with happy co-existence. It is a city where the culture of the old and the new created a personality that is distinctly Como.

As in any other Italian city, churches are all over. Almost in every area, a church is within reach. This is a testament on how religious Italians are.

There are structures in the city that make Como unique. It is amazing to note how the people take care of their monuments. They are clean and widely revered by the locals.

My visit to Como was a refreshing. I was astounded at how the environment is being preserved and how the city’s atmosphere is friendly and welcoming.

Many thanks to Laarni Silva for bringing us to Como. It was a trip that was worth the time.

General Santos City is Not Just All About Tuna

A jewel of a city named General Santos City is fast becoming a hub especially from tuna that can be harvested from its bountiful seas. But the city is not just all about tuna. It has other things to offer to its visitors.

As in any other major city in the Philippines, malls have mushroomed in General Santos. Name all major malls in the country, the city has it all. Being a hub of Region 12, a lot of people go these establishments for shopping and leisure.

They say that when commercial establishments hit a boom in a certain area, it is destined for progress. That is what I saw in General Santos City. Aside from the city proper, businesses flourish in adjacent areas and it is a good sign.

The development of residential enclaves has started in the city. With its vast land area, General Santos City can be a good place to build homes.

A growing population necessitates the building of health care facilities to take care of the needs of the people. Hospitals are abound in General Santos City. This goes to show that the local government knows its priorities especially those that will benefit the people.

But General Santos City would not be as it is now without the tuna that made the city popular not only here in the Philippines but other Asian countries as well especially Japan which imports tuna from there. They say that tuna from GenSan is tastier as compared to the tunas harvested from others countries.

The General Santos International Airport does not only cater to commercial flights. International cargo airlines bring tuna from the city to different nearby countries. Of course, with the increased air traffic, the airport is now being renovated to accommodate more passengers and airplanes that make the city a port of call.

I was in General Santos City for the Southern Weaves fashion show during the Budayaw Festival participated in by member countries of BIMP-EAGA growth area. It was a big event hosted by the city and expectations were exceeded. Thanks to the effective preparations and hosting by the local government.

A visit to General Santos City is worth the trip. It may be a fast-rising city in Mindanao but nature is bountiful…preserved and unspoiled.

An Italian City Called Udine

The city of Udine is located in the Province of Udine which is in the Northeastern part of Italy near the border of Austria. It is situated in the Upper Tagliamento River Valley and is surrounded by luscious mountains and greeneries.

Being at the exit point of Italy to countries like Austria and Slovenia, transportation is an important industry this part of Italy. The train station in Udine is as important as any other venue for transportation. Aside from that, iron and mechanical industries thrive in the city.

The Loggia del Lionello is a must visit spot in the city. Of course, there are the usual museums, churches, duomos and other particular Italian sights that can also be seen in other cities. But Udine is not one city to be left behind. As in any other European city, it may be quiet on the outside but people can be seen inside establishments. Restaurants and bars offer the usual Italian and European fare.

Typical of any other place in the country, Udine is another city which shows off Italian architecture preserved for the appreciation of everyone. Of course, there are also modern buildings because Udine is a thriving city. It’s vast land area still has room for further development.

The rich vegetation in the city is one good reason to visit Udine. It may not be as popular as the other Italian cities but it has many things to offer to tourists. The city can be reached via Venice, the nearest city where there is an international airport.

Thank you to Laarni Silva and the officers and members of the Samahang Filipino sa Udine for bringing the Philippine Tapestry group to this beautiful city.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

I had the chance of visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar last February 9, 2018 for the Las Bodas Filipinas en Las Casas Filipiniana bridal fashion show of the Designers Circle Philippines. I should say that what I saw exceeded my expectations. It is a resort and museum packaged into one interesting place. It is located in Bagac, Bataan.

Upon entry to the resort, one can observe that it is serious in instilling history, culture, art and hospitality to all its visitors. It is more than a home away from home.

One will be in awe as you go further inside. It is such a wonder how Mr. Jerry Acuzar, an architect, was able to come up with this idea of restoring ancestral houses from different parts of the Philippines, deconstructed them, brought the pieces to Bataan and brought them back to their respective forms. The structures are life-size jigsaw puzzles. Rich in history, these structures bring back to life whatever stories that they can tell about the past.

Roaming around Las Casas and looking at the details that each structure is made of, artistry is indeed evident. The puzzling and the build up of its totality is a work in progress. Despite the beautiful scenery and the already vast space inside, the staff of the resort said that it is not even 25% done.

You will feel the classy atmosphere and will really appreciate the architecture of yesteryears. It is one vast museum that is rich in history, posterity and pride.

Individuals and families can rent out the different houses with full amenities. Prices may vary as to what particular house will be rented. With what you can see inside, any amount that is priced by the resort is more than reasonable. Where can you find a resort, museum, Instagram-ready facilities and a lot more rolled into one? Only is Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

I appreciate very much that the Designers Circle Philippines commissioned me to do their fashion show. My appreciation for the Philippines’ past has been heightened. Thank you to all of you and to the management of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar who were gracious enough to accommodate everyone who were part of the said show.

Given another chance, I will not wait another minute to visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. It was an enriching experience to set foot on this resort. It was the kind of work that made me long to do more for them.

Thank you to Harry Canada for lending me his photos.

Arrividerci, Roma!

Rome is the capital of Italy. It is a city that is very rich in history and culture. For me, it is a living museum.

The Coloseum and the Arc of Constantine are places where lots of tourists can be seen. People fall in line just to see these two iconic structures in Rome. One will really feel astounded as to the way Italians preserve their historical places.

There seems to be non-stop restoration work done one several sites that have given up to the tests of time. The Italian government is doing serious work in the preservation of the historical structures. Meticulous work is being done by professionals 24/7.

In the old city, there is the Palantine Hill which is considered as the entrance to Rome. While traversing the route going to the old city, you will feel as if you are part of history. The ruins speak of the rich culture that the Romans had.

At first, I was appalled by the dirt that littered the city. As I roamed around, I fully understood why it the streets were full of trash. Hordes and hordes of tourists visit Rome on a daily basis. Well, it’s a result of progress.

Every nook and cranny in Rome tells of stories. Stories which cannot be read or heard. The city is a story itself…rich in history and culture. Despite modernity, Rome has maintained its stature of being a living museum.

Structures may abound the city but it has maintained and preserved nature at its best. Romans know how to take care of the environment.

Rome is a city that is easy to love. Distance should not hinder anybody from afar to visit the city. As they say…arrividerci, Roma! Until we meet again.