Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sugar Beach cruise highlights my second Sipalay visit

For two years in a row I was able to visit the City of Sipalay in Negros Occidental to participate a week-long Barungay Festival celebration where I was once again invited to judge a special citation of Most Photogenic Kite in Flight in its annual kite-flying competition held last March 20. This time the strain of identifying best kites were lessened, which somehow enabled me to explore other places of interest in a city dubbed as Negros Occidental’s sugar capital.

 For the second time I was amazed by the really stunning sunset of Sipalay, this time even more dramatic because more aerial activities were included into the celebration, most notable of which was the paramotor show and exhibition spearheaded by Mindanao paramotor pilots Sir Ramon and Sir Neil from the town of Midsayap.

As a coastal city, there are plenty of nice resorts especially in the North-western portion of the town where Sugar Beach is nestled. I missed this place in my first visit because my group took a cruise down southwest for an island hopping, an equally must-try experience when staying in Sipalay. This time, we were accompanied by Miss Rhea Carbajosa, the Tourism Officer, on the other side to witness a magnificent stretch of white sand in Sugar Beach.

Formerly named Langub Beach, Sugar Beach is a long stretch of fine sand and is home to several beautiful resorts. The powdery sand of Sugar Beach turns into light brown color in the morning when the sun rays hit directly to its track, making it a resemblance to Muscovado Sugar. The pristine blue waters here is to me the cleanest, while I was told that the underwater environment is excellent as it is one of the island’s diving spots.

After a 20-minute boat ride from the Tourism Center we docked by Takatuka Resort. This is a themed resort with unique features. Each room is subjected with distinct theme, and the beach front is solely filled with tremendous stillness. Foreign tourists are the most dominant market in Takatuka and some domestic visitors who love to stay in a serene environment.

Another resort in Sugar Beach, definitely the more interesting one especially for minimalist travellers like me, is the Driftwood Village resort. This one boosts of its driftwood-themed attraction where almost all junctures and structures are cosmetically engaged with pieces of huge wood debris, perhaps just sourced out from around the beach area. Here, creativity is the name of the game.

What is more fascinating about Driftwood Village is the simplicity of its offerings to its guests. The rooms are really at its modest, established with light materials like bamboo slats flooring and nipa shingle roofing. To get rid of mosquitos they used a common mosquito net because all rooms have no airconditioning units. Local plant species such as eucalyptos, bamboo, coconut and some century-old bushes shade the entire perimeter. In Driftwood Resort, you will be transported a couple of generations backward.  

My visit in Driftwood Village resort recently reaffirmed my thoughts that tourism in the 21st century will be a “back to basic” thing. It will be highlighted with something natural, something green and something that reveals calmness and simplicity.  

Just as I was about to conclude it was my last visit in Sipalay but the experience in Sugar Beach is a sweet temptation to really be back to this secluded paradise. I think I have to stay there for at least one night to gaze for stars and enjoy another version of sunset. I think I have to be back to solemnise my existence. 

Special thanks to resort managers whom I really had great time talking with - Miss Dina and Miss Daisy - and to the ever gorgeous Tourism Officer of Sipalay Miss Rhea Carbajosa for being so generous and accommodating. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

My Travel Playlist

For an ordinary person who grew up listening to different types of music, I realized then and now that I simply could not exist on earth in a day without having listened to at least a single song. To some substantial extent I have been addicted to it that I almost have it all throughout eternity, thinking it is an important piece of this existence, even more important than life itself.

From the novelty masterpieces of Max Surban and Yoyoy Villame for which I had so much fun listening to in my early childhood days to the smooth-soothing Life in a Tin Can album of the Bee Gees (this one I discovered from a long play record we used to play in a radio puno bought by my mother way back year 1981), to the funny but lifelike and authentic lyrics of Siakol and Grin Department of the 90s and the solid and funky rock tunes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers; the evolution of my music interest is as vibrant as the rainbow.  

As my traveling hobby progresses today, I have slowly twisted a taste of music that eventually became a perennial playlist every time I heed for a journey especially during long flights and even land trips. Some of the cuts might be your choice too, but there are songs in the list which definitely not in the usual menu and you might have never even heard of being played over FM radio stations. Believe me, this list never fails to entertain me every time boredom is about to intercept my consciousness, and I suggest you to start googling them now one by one.

MICHAEL JOHNSON. If you crave for pleasant-to-the-ears tunes with a touch of melodramatic lyrics, the songs of Michael Johnson can be on top of your list. More than being a pop, country and folk musician, Johnson is best known for crafting melody and lyrics that promotes good vibes both in love and relationships. Unlike other artists who hide most of their emotions behind the mystery of their lyrics, Johnson is the exact opposite. His literal expression of feelings is evident in every lines of the songs.

IAN PENN. This artist hails from Mt. Arayat in the province of Pampanga and a personal friend as I accompanied him with fellow musician Clem Castro for a video shoot and visit in our very own Bagobo Cultural Village sometime 2015. Despite the invasion of millennialism concept in the modern world, Penn stood out as one of the very few who tried to save folk and country music from extinction. His first album “Wild Abandon” was arguably a breakthrough, but his second offering “Water from the Creek” was a personal hit to me. His usual broad messages in almost all of his songs that was encapsulated in the “Water from the Creek” album somehow made him one of the very few lingual artists in this era. Some great tracks that I highly recommend are Water from the Creek, Bluebirds, Ticketman, Live Another Day, Different Kinds of Strangers and Naked at Three.

ERASERHEADS. This should form part of the list and nobody should believe me anymore if I left this band out in this compilation. Perhaps the most influential band in my whole life, I could not afford to let go of a travel without listening to Ely Buendia and company. My selection ranges from their very first Ultra Electro Magnetic Pop album up to the latest bands where Ely is taking part. As a self-proclaimed Batang 90s I am proud to have witnessed and co-existed with the band who propagated the use of faded maong pants, plain white round-neck tee and Chuck Taylor shoes.  

ROBBIE WILLIAMS. I fall in love with the songs of Robbie Williams only in 2017 when my friend Meggy introduced me to the artist who culled out himself from the original group Take That. This award winning musician rose to fame with bundles of solo compositions that made him one of England’s most respected artists. I am personally impressed with songs Advertising Space, She’s the One, Come Undone, Something Beautiful, Angel, among others.

COLLECTIVE SOUL. The only foreign alternative band in this group, Collective Soul songs are always a company when I climb mountains. Their Dosage album filled up a space in my cassette tape collections but for me their best album was their third studio album “Disciplined Breakdown” released in 1997 with amazing cuts such as Precious Declaration, Maybe, In Between and Listen. Led by vocalist Ed Roland and bandmates Dean Roland (Rhythm Guitar), Will Turpin (Bass) Johnny Rabb (Drums) and Jesse Triplett (Lead Guitars), the music of Collective Soul and the messages will definitely take you through an entire range of emotions.   The song “The World I Know” is an all-time personal favourite. 

JACK JOHNSON.  Of all the choices in this list, the songs of Jack Johnson are the most relaxing featuring soft rock and acoustic genres. I started listening to him in 2009 and from then on I was an instant fan. What I like about Johnson’s music is his restraint, a typical effort that provides transition from melodic fade away into a lyrical catching up. The ingredients are just precise to form a dynamic poetry. The lovely song “Do You Remember” is a flawless story of love and compassion and you can hear in Johnson’s voice the certainty and assurance.

DONG ABAY. This former Yano mainstay has made a mark in the music scene after some controversies surrounding his personal life. When he crafted his self-titled album in 2006 I was able to appreciate Filipino musicians all the more. His songs have critically-collaborated with the present times’ dilemma in the country containing lyrics about politics, poverty, betrayal, terrorism etc. To some sizable considerations Abay conversed us all to unleash commitment, to be part of resolving present problems in the country rather than adding more layer to the already-awkward situations. A typical artist who is unveiling radicalism, Abay is a sure boost to this compilation just like all the artists in the aforesaid. 

This playlist does not necessarily represents my entire music interests. For being born in the late 70s, raised in the 80s and gained music consciousness in the 90s, I think my music attentiveness suffers natural death in the early part of year 2000. It is not that I did not continue listening to new songs today, they just did not compliment with the desire of me who always thought of music as an integral part of life. Except for some recent masterpieces, today’s music rarely blends well with the expected evolution. It unknowingly flows separately to a different stream I could not afford to listen at times I would rather listen to AM radio stations.