Pili, the Capital of Camarines Sur



Pili, Camarines Sur…the town where the seat of government of the province is located. Aside from Naga City, Pili is the next important place in the Metro Naga area.

The provincial capitol is located in the said town. Literally, the seat of government can be found there aside from various public offices of national importance. The Camarines Sur Convention Center is also there. Conventions, special events and other big activities are being held in the venue. Aside from the edifice, the convention center boasts of wide grounds for other different festivities such as the annual Kaogma festival and the like.

The world-reknowned Camsur Watersports Center (CWC) is situated in Pili. Log cabins, a man-made lagoon and their other facilities can be utilized by sports-minded people. Tourists from all over the world flock to CWC for their leisure get-away. There is also the Lago del Rey resort with very good amenities to the delight of guests.

The Naga Airport is also in Pili. Though only small aircrafts can land in the said airport, it is convenient for tourists to go to important areas in the province through this gateway. Besides, Pili can boast of good roads that are breezy for travelers to pass through.

Education institutions abound the first class municipality – a proof how the people of Pili and the people of Camarines Sur give importance to education. No wonder the town has produced a number of its people who have carved names not only for their town and province but in the national front as well.

A must-visit in the town is the St. Raphael the Archangel Church which is the main catholic church that binds the people of Pili. Its yearly Cimarrones Festival is another activity worth witnessing.

Of course, just like any town in the country, Pili is fast becoming an economic hub in the Metro Naga. With the establishment of different businesses, it can contribute to the development of the metropolitan area as well as the province of Camarines Sur. Development is not bad as long as it benefits the people and the community is surely getting its share from income derived from the businesses.

Despite the beckoning of development, the people of Pili, in particular and Camarines Sur, in general know how to take care of their environment. They have a sense of classy aesthetics that are appreciated by the locals as well as tourists. Thanks to their ever-supportive municipal and provincial officials.

When deciding which part of Camarines Sur to visit, choose Pili. It’s not only a convenient stop going to Naga City and other municipalities in the province but one will appreciate the provincial setting with rich greeneries that abound. By the way, Pili is where you can see the majestic Mount Isarog.

Special thanks to the owners of some of the photos used in this blog.


Verona: Setting of Romeo and Juliet

Verona in Italy is the setting of Shakespearean play “Romeo and Juliet.” Romance is evident in the city.

Entering Verona taking the train, one can feel how romantic the city is. Flowers, plants, parks, statues, etc are scattered everywhere. First time tourists like me can feel it in the air.

Roman architecture is prevalent in the city. Thank goodness for ordinances and laws that protect structures from being renovated for modernization. A good old Roman coliseum is at the center of Verona. It is a popular venue for events that are staged in the city. Other structures of Roman type are still standing and of use.

The street leading to the statue and house of Juliet is lined with typical Italian buildings and stores that cater to the many tourists that visit Verona. The street are made from cobblestones which are typical in Italy.

It is said that you have to touch the breast of Juliet’s statue so that whatever wish you may have regarding love, it will come true. At one side where the statue is located, love padlocks upon love padlocks can be seen hoping that those who locked their padlocks will stay in love forever.

Nearby is a mercato¬†and a great number of restaurants to cater to those who have gone hungry from visiting the place where Romeo and Juliet met. Tourists are abundant and shopping stores are there for shoppers’ delight.

If you are fond of authentic Italian architecture, Verona is a city to visit. I was astounded by the beautiful structures that I saw. Very Italian!

My visit to Verona may have been short but with all the things that I saw in the city, it’s worth another train ride to explore it more. Special thanks goes to Ms. Cecil Silva for taking me and Mama Renee Salud to Verona.

Everything is Big in Beijing


welcome to Beijing blue vintage isolated seal

Beijing, one of Asia’s foremost cities and one of the world’s most populous cities, lives up to the image of its country – everything is big there.

It is typical of a fast-growing city in Asia where east really meets west. I was astounded with the development that Beijing is going through. It is a bustling metropolis that caters to the needs of its people as well as the influx of tourists. With the many modern buildings that are being built alongside with the old structures, it is a delight to see how the oriental mixes with the occidental.

A traffic jam is seen during the rush hour in Beijing

Of course, together with development comes the problem of traffic and pollution of which Beijing is fast-becoming known for. But authorities are doing something about these problems. Traffic may be bad but with its many streets, going around the city is now much of a problem.


Not to be overshadowed is the structure that can even be seen from outer space – the Great Wall of China. Going to this China pride is a must. They say that your trip to Beijing will not be complete with a visit to the wall. Oh, so many tourists there are. There is a vast jade factory in a place en route to the Great Wall. Unlike in other Asian cities, the wares in the said factory are very reasonable.




For shopping hounds, there are many places to go to in Beijing. Signature brands have big stores there. If you want to haggle and see good finds, Xiu Shui is one shopping haven. Floors upon floors of stores are for everyone to go around. Of course, there are other districts where stand-alone shopping stores are also available.


Two popular places to visit in Beijing are the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Enter the former and go out facing the latter. These two are must-visits when you’re in Beijing. Our tour guide gave us a comprehensive story of each place and I fully understood the rich culture of China.


When the Olympics was held in Beijing in 2008, various venues were constructed for the purpose and they are visual delights. The Bird’s Nest was where the opening of the games and other sports activities were held. The cube was where the water sports were done. Very modern structures in an ancient city which provide a good contrast.


Everything is really big in Beijing. This is evident in the grandiose hotel lobbies they have, the big signature stores that abound in the city and their big international airport.


This city of contrasts should be part of anybody’s bucket list. For me, it is one cultural experience in the midst of modernity.


Travel to Beijing from the Philippines is easy because there are direct flights from Manila. Four hours of plane ride is enough to witness Chinese culture at its best. Visit Beijing and you will be surprised at what the city can offer.

Modena: Italy’s Automobile and Agricultural Capital



Modena is dubbed as the automobile and agricultural capital of Italy. It was a quaint commune which has evolved into a fast-rising city in the Emiglia-Romagna region of the northern part of the country.




Automobile giants Ferrari, Maserati, De Tomaso and Pagani have headquarters in Modena. Both Ferrari and Maserati have museums there. Lamborghini does not have a headquarter in the city but it is where their cars are manufactured.


It is an agricultural area where poppy fields and wheat plantations abound. It is worth mentioning that Modena uses animal poo as organic fertilizer to their plants. With the many fields that abound the area, agriculture is really a way of life.




It should also be noted that Modena also produces the best parmesan cheese in the whole of Italy. Of course, prosciutto can also be bought just like any ordinary fare in grocery stores. Balsamic vinegar is another Modena regular fare.




Just like any other Italian city, Modena also has churches all around. Truly, an evidence of the strong influence of the catholic religion in the country. With their medieval architecture, the churches are visual delights especially to tourists. Luciano Pavarotti, one of the city’s most famous sons, is said to be buried in one of the churches of Modena.


All these years, Modena has maintained their building designs that the country is known for. Despite the many earthquakes that have visited Italy, their buildings have withstood the tests of nature. You know you are in Italy when you see architecture that is solely theirs.


But, course, Modena is not immune to the influences of modernity. In one area of the city, some modern buildings are slowly being built to meet the demands of the times. Despite of the times, it has maintained its appeal as an old city.


Modena may be quaint but it is one memorable stop in my European trip. Special thanks should go to our Balik sa Basik producer Laarni Silva and her counterparts in Modena – the Knights of Rizal Modena Chapter headed by Gerry Adarlo and the Kababaihang Rizalista headed by Winnie Crisostomo. Worthy appreciation also goes to Ian Atienza, Licel Ferrer, Dennis Ilagan and all the other Filipinos in Modena who made our last stop in Italy an unforgettable one.

Beauty and Beyond



I was invited by fashion designer and beauty queen maker Renee Salud to a gathering of the members of Beyond Beauty which in composed of well-meaning personalities mostly former beauty queens who have banded together to give a deeper meaning to their usual get-together. I should say that they have truly lived their lives not only as society figures but role models that even the present crop of beauty queens and their mentors should emulate.


The gathering last October 26, 2016 was done at the Missionaries of the Poor in Manila where old homeless men and children with cerebral palsy are housed. The members of Beyond Beauty helped in taking care of the children even just for a short while.




They assisted the volunteer teachers in making their classes. One thing that I realized is that children with cerebral palsy have a chance of being a part of mainstream society. All they need is care and dedicated love so that they can be useful citizens of the country. Mama Renee even shed a tear because he remembered his ward who also had cerebral palsy and died a few years ago.



Aside from the visit of the Beyond Beauty team, they brought food not just for the day but supplies of necessities in the days to come. They pitched among themselves certain amounts to buy the food that they donated. Of course, there are also well-meaning friends who augmented by giving financial donations for their outreach program. Since Christmas is just two months away, they also helped in setting up the Christmas tree and some decorations that made the place livelier in time for the yuletide season.



They say that beauty queens have good bodies and intelligent brains. But this group is made up of people who have the heart not only for their respective loved ones but for their fellowmen as well. Kudos to Mama Renee Salud, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 1979 Dang Cecilio-Palanca, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 1981 Maricar Mendoza-Du, Miss Young Pilipinas 1982 Sharon Hughes-Bediones, Bb. Pilipinas-Maja 1985 and Miss Maja Internacional 1985 Second Runner-up Izza Gonzales-Agana, Mutya ng Pilipinas-World 1988 Dana Narvadez-Silverio, Bb. Pilipinas-International 1995 and Miss International 1995 Top 15 Gladys Duenas, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 2005, Miss Universe-Photogenic 2005 and Thai Royal Silk Awardee 2005 Gionna Cabrera and all the other members of Beyond Beauty for making your usual gatherings more worthwhile and meaningful.


May the Lord continue to bless you and give more strength to be of help to our needy countrymen. Indeed, there is more to beauty queens than just the physical. You are all truly BEYOND BEAUTY!

Prague, One of the Most Beautiful Cities in the World

welcome to Prague red vintage isolated seal


Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, is dubbed as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It is located in the central part of the country in the heart of Europe. It is one city which I can consider a visual treat.




My visit to Prague is doubly special because it is where the patron saint of San Beda College, my alma mater, can be found. I really made it a point to visit the Church of Sto. Nino de Praga, of the many churches that abound Prague.



Despite having been under communist rule, Prague, and the whole Czech Republic as well, has never ceased to follow the Catholic faith as evidenced by the way people show their religiosity. The beautiful churches that can be found in the city very well shows how Czechs value catholicism.



The Old Town Square is a convergence area of tourists. Stores and restaurants are all over. Old and new establishments share with tourist markets of various items to shop. One good thing in Prague as well as in other European cities, is that the facade of their buildings are well-preserved. Businesses strictly follow rules in maintaining the sanctity of architecture which date back to the medieval times.



The Astronomical Clock is one spot that is always awaited by tourists. Every hour, the clock bells ring and icons of the 12 apostles come out of the tiny windows near the clock. Our host told us to pray and make a wish while the bells are ringing.




A must-see when in Prague is the Charles Bridge. It crosses the Vitava River which is its main waterway. The said bridge is lined with different statues of saints on both sides. You can also see different activities on it…from selling of souvenir items and artistic gimmicks that attract tourists all the more.




Baroque architecture is what tourists can see in Prague. Of course, there are also areas where modern buildings have been built. It was even surprising to see a Filipino store in the city. I suppose that the population of our kababayans is slowly increasing that part of Europe.




Prague, which is also know as the City of a Hundred Spires, had me in awe. It jaw-dropping sceneries and beautiful architecture will leave an imprint in ones mind. For everything that it offers, it is a place worth traveling to.



Many thanks goes to our host, Mrs. Angelita Santos, for making this trip to Prague possible. It was one trip that made my bucket list shorter.



With the many beautiful things the I saw in Prague, it truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

Venice: From Dream to Reality

Venice is one city in the world that has been in my bucket list to visit during my lifetime. Little did I know that 2016 would be the year that this dream of visiting the city would become a reality. Thanks to the Balik sa Basik fashion shows of Renee Salud. Venice is the first stop of our shows in Europe.

The Hotel Russott Ballroom was the venue of our show in Venice. It is one hotel near the airport that has a spacious venue for different types of events. Although service is by the hour and per hour, its personnel are very gracious and helpful. Everything we asked for were given to us almost instantly.

Of course, a trip to Venice would not be complete without traversing through its narrow pathways and seeing the canals that make the city a special one. Complete with Italian and European architecture, it is like being inside an architectural book brought into reality. Tourists, local and foreigners, enjoy the sights of the city.

The islands of Murano and Burano are must-see places when in Venice. Murano is famous for its crystals which command good prices. Tourists must just be careful in buying Murano crystals because fake ones abound. Burano, on the other hand, is famous for the colorful houses of its residents. It is like being in a craft store but made of true houses.

The Canale delle Fondamente Nuove is the major gateway to Venice and to other beautiful towns that surround the city. It was through the trip to the other places in Venice that I saw how Italians were able to preserve structures as well as have the discipline to make the city a clean one despite the droves of tourists.

The Piazza San Marco is the focal point of one’s trip to Venice. It is where all tourists converge to play with the doves or ride the gondola in traversing the city’s canals. It is where one can find the best architectural designs that can be seen from its domes, churches, museums and other establishments. It is where one can appreciate the true Italian ambience.

With the many areas of art in Venice, you cannot just have enough. Every corner presents surprises that can only be seen there. The ones you see in books and magazines are right before your eyes. I just marvel at how they were able to preserve its heritage.

Religiosity is one trait that Italians adhere to. Just like in any other city in Italy, churches abound. Coupled with rich designs that depict the richness of the country’s culture and its strong adherence to the catholic faith.

From its canals and monuments, Venice is a city that has kept its image as a bastion of art, culture and religion. From where Marco Polo started his journey, Venice is place worth visiting.

With the world getting smaller, the dream of going to Venice is not just a dream anymore. 2016 made it a reality for me.

Special thank you to our Balik sa Basik producer Laarni Silva, our Venice leg producers Ness Araja, Runna Pervado & the B52s, one of our gracious hosts Belinda Rodrigo and all the others who made our stay in Venice a very special one. We hope to see you again in the future.