Friday, March 17, 2017

A trip to the Wishing Island and the Chocolate Museum

There are so many things to do in Davao City, so many attractions to spend time and relish the experience and every year new destinations are added up.

Here are the two places within Davao City and the nearby province of Davao del Norte (Samal and Talikud Island, jump-off point via Sta Ana wharf in Davao City) which I recently visited and where I would recommend as must-visit places here in Davao.

Isla Cristina and the Wishing Island

Thanks to Kaiser Mangampo and WayPH, an online travel agency. About 22 online influencers from the Davao Digital Influencers (DDI) got to experience a whole-day island-hopping tour around Samal Island and the nearby Talikud Island.

Underneath these waters is the famed Talikud coral garden
Blogger and DDI member Emjay Llerena enjoys the sights

The usual island hopping route will take you from the jump-off point at Sta. Ana wharf in Davao City, skimming the coastline of Samal up until we reach Talikud Island which is a 45-minute ride. The highlight of the trip would be a pit stop at either Angel's Cove or at the Coral Garden where one can swim or snorkel at its pristine waters then disembarking for lunch break at Babu Santa beach.

This island tour was different, instead of having our lunch at the popular Babu Santa which would sometimes be buzzed up with the multitude of island-hoppers, we went to the smaller but less crowded Isla Cristina or Isla Costafba located in Sitio Cogon, Talikud Island.

I first visited Isla Cristina when we shot our Talikud Island segment for the Philippine Information Agency's "Like Pinas" TV magazine show, taken on a tour by Ms. Araceli Ayuste of Talikud Island Tours.

According to her Isla Cristina was formerly part of the sprawling 400-hectare Reta Estate, the family which owned the popular Isla Reta resort in the northwestern tip of Talikud. Sometimes it is called as Isla Reta 2, referring to the popular beach resort in the island owned by the Retas.

The estate was put under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and Isla Cristina was distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries. Thus the 'proper' name of the beach resort is Isla Costafba  (Cogon, Sta Cruz Farmer Beneficiaries Association).

Isla Cristina

The agrarian reform beneficiaries put up amenities and maintained the beach which is tucked between two coves. One part of the cove is a beach cave large enough to fit about 20-30 people at its mouth and is considered as one of the attractions of the beach.

The caves

After lunch and pictorials at Isla Cristina, we proceeded back en route to Davao City mainland but first we dropped by at Wishing Island which is owned by the Joaquin family.

The islet lies a kilometer away from the shoreline of Barangay Adecor in Samal Island, near the triple- A Pearl Farm Resort and the Floirendo owned Malipano Island.

It got its name as the local folks describes the islet as an abode of enchanted beings. But over the years christianity has taken root in the islet, in the Good Friday of 1976 visiting nuns planted a cross in the island. In 2014 a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary was consecrated making the island a sacred ground.

For a boat docking fee of P200. One can explore the small islet, one can also dip in the waters surrounding it but be careful as spiny sea urchins abound.

Wishing Island

From Wishing Island one can see the nearby small islands of Malipano, Diaz and De La Paz 

Our Lady of the Rosary brought to the island in 2014, once believed by locals to be an abode of enchanted beings, the small island is now a Marian shrine

For those wanting to experience Samal Island hopping you can contact WayPH as they can give you hassle-free Samal Island tour packages which you can customize to your wants.

Chocolate Museum in Malagos

Davao City is indeed a gateway to an island-to-highland experience. After island-hopping in nearby Samal you can proceed up in the highland district of Calinan, in Barangay Malagos where the country's one and only chocolate museum can be found.

Charito Puentespina explains some of the exhibits in the museum

Famed Dabawenyo chocolate-maker Rex Puentespina

Part of the museum with their interactive displays

The museum celebrates the famed Malagos Single Origin chocolates and provides visitors a tree to bar experience. Thru interactive displays one can see the beginnings of chocolates from planting cacao trees, harvesting of cacao bean pods to subsequent process and refinements until it becomes the signature chocolate bar which has won several international awards.

Why is the chocolate museum set up in Davao City? the answer lies in Davao City being the chocolate capital of the country producing 80% of the country's cacao production. And one of the prime-movers of the cacao/chocolate industry in this part of the country, the Puentespinas decided to create a modern museum to spread the advocacy not just to tourists but also to other cacao farmers as well.

Aside from the very informative displays, there are kiddie interactive areas for children too young to understand the various displays around the museum.

My most favorite part of the museum is the chocolate laboratory where visitors under the guidance of chocolatiers will get to experience to make their own chocolate concoctions. For P450 you can get to work on 200 grams of chocolate and make your own sweet confection.

The choclate laboratory

Davao City Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre picks out is chocolate ingredients

The councilor tries to mold his chocolate

My own confection. Chocolate with mango filling laced
with caramel droplets

Charisse Puentespina, the managing director of the  chocolate museum and an interior designer by profession says creating the museum was part of her advocacy as during her childhood Davao was bereft of museums. This is her fourth museum, she designed Subangan Museum in Mati, Davao Oriental, the Mt. Hamiguitan Museum and the Pusan Point Museum also in the same province.

Museum designer Charisse Puentespina

The chocolate museum is a welcome addition to the Mintal-Calinan area which has several tourism attractions including the soon to be completed sports complex in UP-Mindanao campus in Mintal, Japanese heritage sites in Mintal (known as Little Tokyo), the Japanese Museum in Calinan, the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, the Malagos Garden Resort (where the chocolate museum is located) and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy's Prayer Mountain in Tamayong also in Calinan.

Your entrance fee to Malagos Garden Resort allows free entrance to the chocolate museum. Chocolate Laboratory where you can make your own chocolates there is a fee of P450 for every 200 grams of chocolate.

Special thanks to WayPH, the Davao Digital Influencers and the Puentespina Family

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sarah Geronimo's The Great Unknown Live in Davao

Sarah Geronimo further expands her reinvention with the album "The Great Unknown." The direction of the album leaning towards pop rock that includes collaborations with Hale, Yeng Constantino and Top Suzara (formerly of Freestyle). Not the same popstar princess known for her soaring ballads and birits but as a musician eager to explore and widen her musical horizons.

I really liked her reinvention particularly in her previous album "Perfectly Imperfect" where she tries out danceable electronic-sounding ditties like my super favorite "Kilometro".

This is what I want to see in her upcoming concert this March 3 (Friday) SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier. Titled Sarah Geronimo: The Great Unknown Live in Davao. The concert will feature the band Hale whose vocalist Champ Lui-Pio has Davao roots.

Sarah Geronimo "The Great Unknown Live" in Davao is brought to you by EKG Productions.

Tickets available at P3,600 (VVIP), P2750 (VIP), P1,800 (Gold) and P998 (Silver). 

You can buy concert tickets at SM Lanang Premiere Ground Floor, Wiltelcom (Abreeza, GMall, NCCC Mall), Better Components, Javajive Bajada, Sharana Hotel- Ecoland, Phoenix Gas Station Maa and Matina. For the benefit of House of Hope For Kids with Cancer.

For ticket inquiries you can contact EKG Productions  (09167495883).

NOTE: This March 3 concert is a replacement of the Sarah G. From the Top concert  which was supposed to be held last June 2016 but was postponed. You can use your Sarah G. From the Top tix for the concert without incurring additional costs.

And. and you can win A GOLD TICKET by simply going to https: //www.facebook.com/davaodigitalinfluencersinc/ the Davao Digital Influencers is giving out free Gold tickets go to their page for the mechanics.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Besh

Oh God source source and origin of all light, accept this candle as a symbol of my love. Inflame my heart with your grace that I may walk on the road of virtues and glorify you all my life please help me in my needs….

Malcolm read the prayer written in a white wooden signboard. He murmured his wishes, his head bowed, the flame of the white candle flickered as a light breeze whiffed through the candle station. There were a few pilgrims at the Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague.

Built in 1969 by the wife of the city mayor, the shrine is located atop a hill which bisects the southern suburbs of Davao City. Being its major landmark, the limestone high ground has been called as shrine hills ever since.

A wide green lawn carpets much of the shrine broken by old stands of large fruit trees, the area is a home to several small white painted chapels and altars dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Child Jesus. These chapels are connected by pathways shaded by trees.

Much of the year the shrine is solemn and tranquil, but on special Christian holidays such as the Holy Week and the Feast of the Santo Nino, multitude of followers takes on a pilgrimage to the shrine.

From the candle station Malcolm made his way past the chapel, proceeding to the altar of the holy infant Jesus of Prague to pay his respects. The tall mango trees inside the shrine have shielded him from the afternoon sun. After saying a small prayer to the Santo Nino, he went to the white benches facing the altar flanked by Mango trees, he sat in the shaded portion, his eyes fixated at the image of the Holy Infant.


A small tap in the head broke Malcolm’s meditative silence.

It was Vera.

Malcolm quickly got up from the bench and hugged his old pal.

“I am sorry Mal, the meeting with the Davao Tourism Association got extended by lunchtime. I had to represent Nanay since she’s still in Shanghai.” Vera offered her sincere excuse for the after-lunch rendezvous.

“Ok lang Ver, I should be the one asking for apologies, I might be disturbing you on your busy schedule.”

Ey no worries, the office can run by itself for a day without me. It’s just that the meeting was very important.”

“So what was the meeting about?” Malcolm observed his friend, she was wearing a bright orange floral dress,  still the cute pretty mestiza he had known in high school.

“ Well it’s about the Mindanao Tourism Expo which the City will be hosting this July. We divided ourselves into committees and I’m part of marketing and promotions, we’ll be quite busy these coming months.”

Vera had noticed Malcolm’s usual fashionable preppy look, white v-necked shirt tucked into his khaki shorts. He had his usual boat shoes. Malcolm wasn’t one of those good- looking guys in school but to her he was always one of the most fashionable, he looked smart and dapper.

“Had you taken your lunch Mal?”

“Yeah. And you?”

“We had lunch at the meeting.”

“So where do we go from here Ver?”

“Ikaw na mag decide Mal” (you decide)

“You know Ver since I’ve been here in Davao, I was not eating durian that much.”

“Ok. let's get some durian, if that’s what you want.”

The two buddies decided to go to Magsaysay Park for durian. They were addicted to the fruit, back then they would regularly haunt the stalls outside Magsaysay or the mobile stands along Torres Street for a taste of the spiky, pungent-smelling fruit.

“Mind if I ride with you Ver? The Fortuner is currently in the casa, mom and dad are using their cars, I just hitched a ride with Tito Mike. I just had lunch with him at his bar.”

“Sure Mal, ikaw pa. Uy haven’t you heard about that story with Mike Mueller’s daughter? She was reported missing for many days, it was all over the news.” Vera asked Malcolm being a family friend of the Muellers.

“Yeah I was in Manila at that time when mom told me the story. I was really worried about Angela.” Malcolm said.

“Yeah  Nanay was worried nuts, we thought she was really kidnapped. Imagine the daughter of a former PBA import kidnapped in Davao City that news doesn’t appeal to tourists and Nanay was organizing this big national convention, she was worried that the news of the kidnapping will spread… then she suddenly reappeared. Do you know what really happened?”

“ Uncle Mike told me she ran away from home. He scolded the kid and apparently Angela didn’t take it well.” Malcolm answered Vera’s query.

“Was that it?” Vera asked

“That’s what he told me.” Malcolm replied.

“Well I heard some creepy stories.”

A few steps down from the Sto Nino altar, Malcolm noticed a sleek yellow Volkswagen beetle in the parking lot, he excitedly walked towards it.

 “Wow Vera. This is way so cool.” Malcolm admired the Volkswagen beetle in front of him.

“Nanay was planning to buy the second-hand Lancer of her amiga for me. Then Ren-ren took me to their auto shop, I saw this 1975 beetle, I fell in love.”

The yellow beetle was repainted into a sleek glossy finish, it had  a mean looking set of rims and had aircondition unlike the usual beetles which had none.

“I’m planning to sell this volks.”

“Oh?  but why?”

“It reminds me of Ren-Ren. I just want to forget him completely Mal.”

“Is that so? This is such a nice car.”

“Well he comes to the house to check on Marky. There was one time, two weeks after our breakup and I really didn’t want to see him, he went to the house and persisted because he wants to check the engine. The nerve, he’s such a thick-faced asshole,  ”

“Who’s Marky?”

“This beetle, I named him Marky.” Vera laughed at her answer.

“You still had this habit of naming your cars Ver” Malcolm seemed amused.

“Yep. Diba I named your car as Jonas…Well I was planning to get a brand-new car perhaps a Picanto. If I will get my tour package commission, that will be the downpayment for the car.”

The Magsaysay Park was built in 1959 to honor the late President Ramon Magsaysay. It sits in the eastern edge of the Chinatown district. Outside the walls of the park is a line of fruit stalls selling different varieties of durian.

Malcolm and Vera sat on the tables in front of their suki, the stall directly faces the gaily-decorated Chinatown arch. They had ordered a pair of arancillos a preferred durian variety among many Dabawenyos known for its thick flesh and delectable flavor.

“So what really happened between you and Renren?” Malcolm asked his high school buddy

“ Well it seemed he and his ex were trying to get back together. Ganito yun His ex and I had a common friend, that friend told me about what was happening. She had warned the girl that we were still a couple and this girl didn’t listen. Without me knowing they were seeing each other.”

“So how did you discover his cheating?” Malcolm asked while munching the  durian pulp.

“Hmmm, I was at his car shop, in their office there was this desktop, out of curiosity I checked on the PC. He was still logged on his Facebook account. And decided to check. And behold they were exchanging messages, they were going to a beach in Samal that Saturday. We were supposed to have lunch that Saturday but he told me he can’t make it because he was taking potential buyers of their property in Samal. Yun pala, it was with her.”

So what did you do? Malcolm asked while busy munching the fruit.

“So that Saturday without him knowing I went there. Caught them two together and confronted them, three days after, we broke up, I guess he was still into that girl…  Mal is it too difficult for Men to become faithful?” Vera was holding her durian but was barely eating, engrossed in recounting her story.

“There are some Men who are also faithful naman Ver.”

 “Mal, I gave him a choice when I caught him red-handed. Me or her. he chose her.” Tears flowed from Vera’s eyes, Malcolm hurriedly wiped his hands with tissue, he sat beside her and gave a tight hug.

“Chill Ver, you will just forget him soon.”

“Yeah besh. I’ll do.” Vera addressed him how she called Malcolm way back in high school.

The two proceeded to the Davao Cinematheque, a small movie theater in the middle of downtown Davao. 

The government-owned cinematheque was showing a South Korean comedy. The funny film somehow brought back Vera’s zest. After watching they decided to while away the rest of the afternoon at the nearby Peoples Park.

The four-hectare park was formerly a decrepit sports complex. Within the park thousands of plant species from all over the world can be found interspersed with indigenous-themed sculptures from renowned Dabawenyo artist Kublai Millan.

The two erstwhile best buddies whiled the time sitting at the benches under the shade of African Tulip trees.

Vera Mae Pantaleon is the eldest of the two children of businessman Claudio and his wife Rosita. When Vera was 5, her parents died in a plane crash in Misamis. The orphaned Vera was raised by Claudio’s sister, a spinster while Vera’s sister Charity was adopted by her mother’s brother who now lives in Australia. Vera helps run the travel agency of her Nanay Elena, the sister of her late father.

Malcolm Juanito is the second child of Crispin Juanito, a lawyer and his wife Patricia de Lara, a scion of a rich landed Spanish mestizo family in Bukidnon. He was named after George Malcolm, a pre-eminent Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court during the American colonial era.

Vera and Malcolm’s friendship began when they were seatmates in their second year high school class in Ateneo de Davao. Malcolm was a natural muy simpatico while Vera was affable. The two seatmates gravitated to each other and  became close friends.

Patricia de Lara liked to have a say on her husband’s fashion sense. As Malcolm became a teen, Patricia was also obsessed with transforming his son’s sartorial style. Malcolm’s penchant to dress up like an emo rocker was nipped in the bud.

During those years under Malcolm’s eyes Vera blossomed into a lovely teener. Gone were her tomboyish ways. She had a big crush on Vince, the school’s basketball star. But the varsity star player had set his eyes on the school’s It girl. They were a perfect high school couple much to the chagrin of Ms. Pantaleon. She knew she had to become a “lady.”

“I used to have a big crush on you when were in fourth year.” Malcolm told Vera, her eyes widened.

“Is that a joke? Ikaw ba, you keep fooling me around.” Vera said.

“I was not joking.”

Eh ba’t di ka nagparamdam.” (You didn’t give a hint.)

Malcolm was taken aback by Vera’ reply

“If I tried to make a move, would it matter? Malcolm asked.

Vera stared at him and laughed.

ewan (I do not know)”

Vince the basketball star along with much of the high school males noticed Vera’s transformation, in their senior year, Vince had broken up with his girlfriend and pursued Vera. They were in a relationship for three years.

In college, Vera stayed in Davao and pursued business management course in the Ateneo while Malcolm took up legal management in Ateneo de Manila, he was dead-set on being a lawyer like his dad.

“You know we kinda drifted apart after high school Mal.” Vera said.

“You were the one who drifted.” Malcolm replied.

“Huh? Me?”

“Yeah you barely messaged, you barely reply to my texts.” Malcolm said.

“You were the one who went to Manila, we could have been in the same school."

“Yeah but dad wanted me to take legal management, only Ateneo de Manila offered that course.”

"I understand Mal, At first I felt really bad about it. You leaving to study college in Manila."

" That explains the cold treatment from you during my first few months away from Davao."

"I'm sorry about being suplada Mal. I was just childish. I know its your dream to become a great lawyer like your dad."

" Then we kinda got busy with our college studies. And Lianne was kinda a jealous girlfriend. She would make selos (jealous) everytime I had these female friends. We really did drift apart Ver, I miss those times we had in high school."

“You know what, you’ve been away for too long,  I really miss my besh.” Vera stared into Malcolm’s eyes.

“Me too Ver, I miss my besh.” Malcolm held Vera’s hand.

It was early evening at the People’s Park, the screams of children running and playing had dominated the ambient noise at the park. Families strolled across the parkground to enjoy the balmy evening.

Malcolm and Vera decided to dine at FCF, a restaurant located in Damosa in the city’s northern suburb, the restaurant is located in a dining row inside the I.T. park, FCF or Filipino Comfort Food is known for its all-familiar Filipino meals.

Dinner was Nilagang baka or beef braised soup and Laing, a Bicolano vegetable dish cooked in coconut milk.

“You would be leaving me again Mal.” Vera again stared at Malcom’s eyes.

Hindi naman. You can always chat me up, or try visiting me in Manila.” Malcolm held Vera’s delicate hands.

Malcolm remembered very well, it was prom night at Ateneo de Davao high, six years ago.

Malcolm was standing at a nook, watching as his batchmates and classmates in their nice suits, tuxedos, gowns and dresses arrived, they were giddy and frenetic, admiring and making fun of their more dapper and glammed up selves.

Huy, Mal I’ve been looking for you.” Malcolm saw Vera in a black off-shoulder dress, her coiffed hair accentuated her fair-complexion.

“You look beautiful tonight Vera.” Malcolm stared into Vera, her make-up defined her pear-shaped eyes and high cheekbones.

 She smiled hearing the compliment, Vera’s smile accentuated by her facial dimples put a glow in the young man’s eyes.

“You too, you look like those guys in GQ.” Vera noticed Malcolm’s black designer suit. He was perfect in his ensemble.

“Is there something wrong Mal?”


“I can sense it.” Vera stared at Malcolm’s eyes.

“I’ll be studying in Manila. My mom and dad decided, it would be better for me there.”

Ganun? (is that so?)” Vera heaved a sigh of frustration and her eyes stared off to space.
Malcolm put his hand in Vera’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry besh.” Malcolm affectionately calls Vera, besh, a slang for someone’s best buddy.

Vera took off Malcolm’s hand and begrudgingly walked out. She rejoined her boyfriend Vince. Malcolm tried to socialize with Vera during the prom, but she ignored him.

“Bai, why don’t you just be honest with her. Tell her what you feel.” Nick told his barkada Malcolm during their talk after the prom.

“She’s just a friend, Nick.”

“Nah, that’s bullshit and I know it Mal. And Vera she has a thing for you too. It could have been you with her and not Vince.”

“I just don’t want to risk our friendship. What if…” Malcolm reasoned out.

“You’re one pile of crap, Mal, friendship my ass.” Tony another of their clique, seconded Nick.

Huy, what’s bothering you?” Vera snapped Malcolm back from his thought.

“Nothing, I was thinking of something.”

“Is that a behavior common with law students?” Vera asked jokingly.

After his breakup with college girlfriend Lianne, the two high school friends reconnected mostly through chats and text messages. Slowly Malcolm rediscovered his erstwhile besh and his feelings, will he try to brush it off just like in High School?

After dinner, Malcolm and Vera walked out to the parking lot, the stars illuminated the clear evening skies over Damosa, Malcolm held Vera’s hand. She reciprocated by holding his hand, their fingers interconnecting into a clasp.

As they stood beside the passenger-side door of the yellow beetle.

Vera faced and stared into Malcolm, her two hands gently cupped Malcolm’s face.

“I will miss you besh” She said.

Malcolm held her hand which was cupping his face.

“I will miss you too.” He said.

It was Malcolm’s turn to drive the beetle. He had asked a favor if she could drive him home. He volunteered to drive the volks which Vera agreed.

During the short drive, Vera’s gaze was fixed into her driver. Malcolm noticed Vera’s gaze and when he’s not switching the gears he held her hand.

Brrrgggg, shhhhhh

Suddenly the engine of the Volkswagen died, but Malcolm had enabled the car to swerve into the road shoulder. Vera went back to the driver seat and tried to restart the engine, it won’t. She decided to check the engine at the back of the car.

“What happened Ver?” Malcolm asked.

“There must be a problem with the fuel pump. I’m so sorry Mal,  I’ll call Renren. I’ll pay for your taxi.” Vera said.

Malcolm heard Renren’s name being mentioned.

“No, I’ll stay with you here and wait for Renren.” Malcolm reassured his besh.

“Ok. I’ll call him, his talyer has a standby mechanic.”

Vera called up Renren, she told him that the gasoline is not being pumped into the engine, maybe a malfunctioning fuel pump. The car won’t start and they’re currently stuck in the roadside.

An hour later Renren showed up in his pick-up he was in the company of his two mechanics.

Ren-ren was tall and brawny, tattoos covered his arm, his tough solid features betrayed a charismatic and mild-mannered persona.

He hugged Vera and put his arm around her.

“Are you ok?” Renren asked his ex.

“Yeah. I’m fine.” Vera appeared thankful but the tone of her voice was somewhat distant and cold.
Renren noticed Malcolm standing in one corner and approached him.

“Sorry attorney ha, are you ok?”

“I’m fine. I’m not yet a lawyer haha.”

“A few years from now you’ll soon be. I am really sorry for the inconvenience.”

Dong, we’ll try to clean up the fuel pump. The fuel filter looks okay.” One of the mechanic said.

Renren proceeded to watch the engine being repaired by the mechanics. Vera follows him. Seeing Vera standing beside him, Renren put his hands around his ex-girlfriend’s waist. Malcolm witnesses the scene. He stood at a far distant corner.

“We haven’t talk Ver.” Renren addressed his ex-girlfriend in a low voice.

“If this is about the two of us, there’s nothing more to talk about Ren.”

“I am sorry. I really am.”

“I forgive you, but that’s just it.”

“Give me a second chance please babe. Mahal pa rin kita (I still love you)” Renren whispered to Vera’s ears.

“This is not the right time to talk about it.” Vera stared hard into Renren’s eyes.

“Then just give me time, let’s talk about it, just don’t ignore me Ver.”

"Renato, I just gone through a lot, And this, this is not easy for me."

" Look I made a mistake, I was confused at that time. I thought we and Sofia can work it out, but it didnt.. I was so wrong about what I did, I was a fool. Please understand. I know deep inside you still love me Vera, Give me this last chance to make it up to you."

Vera, looked up to her six footer ex-boyfriend, she stared hard into his eyes for a few seconds, then shifted her gaze into the mechanic working at the engine. The other mechanic had tried to restart the beetle's 1300 engine.

Brrrrggggg, chugchugchug. It was the familiar sound of the beetle’s engine.

“The engine is ok but we need to check it at the shop.” The mechanic told Renren and Vera.

“You impressed me again manong.” Renren praised the veteran mechanic whom he had fetched at his house in Agdao to attend to his ex-girlfriend’s car.

“Ver, I promised you that this engine will be fixed tomorrow.”

“I am selling the volkswagen Ren, can it just stay at the shop, until you find a buyer?”

“Huh, you’re not using it anymore? Marky’s still good to go.”

“I’ll try to borrow the other car of nanay until I’ll get myself a new car. I just made the reservation at the Kia dealership already. I can’t gamble on an old car anymore Ren.”

“Ok, wanna ride with me, you and attorney? Manong will just take the volks into the shop” Renren asked Vera.

“No, it’s ok I will just ride a taxi Ren.” Malcolm told Renren.

“No, attorney, I’ll drive you home. You’ve been inconvenienced a lot.”

Malcolm and Vera hopped into Renren’s pickup and they proceeded to a posh exclusive village in Lanang, the Juanito’s family home.

“Really big house, you got there attorney.” Renren awed at the palatial Juanito residence. The house and lot a gift of  Malcolm’s maternal grandfather Don Pedro de Lara, a Spanish mestizo, who owns large tracts of land in Bukidnon and Davao Oriental to Malcolm’s parents.

“It was actually my lolo’s Davao house Ren. It was built in the 1970s, Lolo, the dad of my mother, he gave it to my mom as a gift when she got married. It has become our home ever since.” Malcolm recalled the brief history of the old family house in Insular Village.

Malcolm disembarked from the vehicle, Vera asked for a few minutes to talk to Malcolm, she got out of the pickup.

The two high school friends stood each other face-to-face.

“I will miss you Mal.” Vera stared into Malcolm’s eyes.

For all these years, Malcolm had hidden to her what was true. This was his chance.

Malcolm reached out to Vera’s hand. He leaned towards her and kissed her on the cheeks then on the lips. A quick smack, he could feel Vera’s soft lips. He kissed again. Then again a smack, Vera reciprocated, the two erstwhile friends saw themselves locked in a passionate kiss.

Renren saw and was shocked at the spectacle unfolding. He froze.

Vera noticed his ex-boyfriend watching her kissing Malcolm, she turned and saw that  the pickup’s front passenger side window was lowered. She could see Renren’s shocked face.

Malcolm noticed it, his head bowed, he felt awkward at the unfolding scene.

“I am sorry Ren.” Vera told her ex.

Renren as if by instinct handed Vera’s small pouch bag she had left in the vehicle.

“Ren, we’ll talk in the right time.” Vera received the bag. She had noticed her ex-boyfriend’s eyes in near tears.

Kasabot nako (I understand.)” Ren-ren replied, the pick-up’s passenger side windows rolled up and the pickup sped away.

Malcolm saw the pickup disappearing into the street corner.

 “I’ll take you home.” Malcolm told Vera.

“When?” Vera asked in her sweet, gentle voice.

“I don’t know.” And the two friends proceeded to kiss  again.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Films of the 12th Mindanao Film Festival


1.       Baboy Halas- A family of forest dwellers become unsettled when something unusual arrives. (1 hour and 30 minutes) (Davao City)
2.       Crescent Rising-Three portraits of different lives caught in between a crossfire of unwavering faith and ambiguous history. (1 hour 30 mins) (Zamboanga City)


1.            Dear Mama- A neglected child writes a letter to his mother, expressing his unrequited love,  (12 mins. 25 sec) (Davao City)
2.            Kapanglawan- Joseph a sociable creative designer meets Isabelle an introvert undergoing depression, the two develop an unlikely friendship only to be tested by their diverse personalities, (TRT 39 mins) (Davao City)
3.            Handuraw- Andoy, a gay young man is repeatedly punished and manhandled by his abusive father, beyond the scorn of Andoy’s father lies a deep secret. (26 mins. 31 secs) (Davao City)
4.            A Fading Heritage- A documentary about the indigenous peoples of Limonsudan, an upland village in Iligan City. A window to a fading culture (TRT 33:33) (Iligan City)
5.            Allyn- A story of a millennial girl who finds solace in her online world. (TRT 13:36) (Davao City)
6.            Anito- Animated short about a young kid who wanders in the world of the engkantos (6 mins.) (Davao City)
7.            Asay- A short film which focuses on the lives of Asays, professional party gatecrashers (24 mins., 13 sec) (Nabunturan Comval)
8.            Bahandi ni Lola- A fresh college graduate tries to introduce change in her grandmother’s store, however despite the onset of modernity, there are things from the past that need not change. (9 mins. 10 sec) (Nabunturan, Comval)
9.            Belo- A young man with an ill mother engages in online porn. (16 mins 14 sec.) (Nabunturan, Comval)
10.          Bobby- A bullied pupil seeks revenge against his tormentors- his classmates. (22 mins 13) (Davao City)
11.          Ang Agimat- A group of friends tries to save the world with the aid of a magical amulet (Davao City)
12.          God Must Think I’m Cain- Cops tries to pry out vital information from a recently-rescued hostage. (22 mins. 13 secs) (Cagayan de Oro City)
13.          Soulmate- A man looking for his soulmate gets himself into zany misadventures (12 mins. 34)  (Cagayan de Oro)
14.          Static- An accountant working for a crime syndicate runs for his life, while a mob boss tries to clean up the mess. (10 mins 52 sec) (Cagayan de Oro)
15.          Orpheus- An experimental short (4 mins) (Cagayan de Oro)
16.          Dagan-  Two siblings are caught in a deadly war against drugs (14 mins 15 sec) (General Santos)
17.          Abal- A young woman is confronted by her past and returns to her roots (18 mins. 11 secs) (General Santos City)
18.          Bulong- After their parents death,  Two sisters battle each other’s demons  (13 mins. 8 secs) (General Santos)
19.          Lapok- A young lady decides to make a stand that will ultimately change her life (26 mins 15 secs) (General Santos)
20.          Dasal- Marlyn for the longest time holds back her feelings for her friend Joy, she prays for guidance. (LGBT) (22 mins. 23 secs) (Davao City)
21.          Fachada- A traumatic childhood shapes one of the country’s notorious criminal figure  (16 mins 01) (Ozamis City)
22.          Gaba- A party full of pranks, booze and drugs goes horribly awry. (10 mins 06 secs.) (Davao City)
23.          Higala- An act of honestly leads to friendship between a  beggar and a yuppie  (11 mins. 08 sec) (Cagayan de Oro City)
24.          Kapit-os-Due to a hard luck life, Dong engages in prostitution to support his siblings. He discovers one of his clients is HIV positive. He then makes a life-changing decision. (17 mins. 46 secs) (Davao City)
25.          Kathryn and Margaret- Kathryn a school bully strikes a friendship with Margaret. However, it won’t last for long as Margaret is stricken with a fatal illness. That friendship will leave a life-long lesson for Kathryn. (22 minutes, 45 seconds) (Davao City)
26.          Kinsa Ta- A group of bullied students creates a short film for their school’s film festival. One which fosters understanding instead of formenting hate against their bullies. (21 mins. 42 seconds) (Davao City)
27.          Lipstick- A young girl is sent to a University by her elder sister. Lack of finances in the big city forces the girl to engage in prostitution.  (18 mins. 28 seconds) (Davao City)
28.          Love- A young woman searches for her perfect love. (13 mins. 44 sec) (Davao City)
29.          Panggaw- Bebeng is chosen to represent the school in a quiz bee, her parents try to raise funds for her travel by selling mud crabs. However a more affluent parent tries to bribe Bebeng’s teacher to choose her daughter instead. ( 9 mins. 24 sec) (Nabunturan, Comval)
30.          Nino- In the middle of Sinulog, An assassin plies his trade. (14 mins. 58 secs) (Davao City)
31.          Ma’m La- Nearing retirement age, a distinguished teacher tries to make a difference to an illiterate street urchin. (17 mins. 27 secs. ) (Cagayan de Oro)
32.          Makaakar- The short film follows the life of a sick abantero (miner). (16 mins. 55 sec) (Nabunturan, Comval)
33.          First Time- A party girl and a school nerd spends the night strolling and talking around the city. Would it be their last or would there be a next time?  (15 mins. 03 secs) (Zamboanga City)
34.          Pagbarug Ta Pagtuon- A documentary which details the lives of Indigenous Peoples evacuees from Kapalong Davao del Norte and a mission teacher’s quest to bring education to the affected IP children  (23 mins. 27 sec) (Davao City)
35.          Pamugas- An aging gay beauty queen looks for new prospects to join the barangay Miss Gay pageant. (19 mins. 11 sec) (Nabunturan Compostela Valley Province)
36.          Panun- A deadly riot erupts between two warring youth gangs. The wheels of restorative justice begins to grind, one of rehabilitation and healing. (17 minutes 47 secs) (Davao City)
37.          Pulis- While rescuing kidnapped victims, a bemedaled cop is killed. His police partner remembers him as a follower of God who readily accepts his worldly fate.  (7 minutes 25 seconds)
38.          Sherador- The underworld is policed by ranks of dreaded gay assasins. (17 mins. 13 secs.) (Nabunturan, Compostela Valley)
39.          St. Monica- members of the St. Monica Support Group confront their own demons (20 mins. 52 seconds) (Davao City)
40.          Subang- The joys and hearbreak of an dirty ice cream peddler. (10 minutes, 58 seconds) (Iligan City)
41.          Ta-bas-Siblings deal with life’s uncertainties amidst the government’s brutal war against drugs.  (20 minutes 15 seconds) (Davao City)
42.          The Soil of Dreams- The documentary takes a peek into the lives of young men who gather river sand from the Cagayan de Oro River and how their lives change after Sendong. (52 mins. 38 seconds) (Cagayan de Oro)
43.          Warak- A man suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being caught in the middle of conflict.  (8 minutes, 2 seconds) (Nabunturan, Compostela Valley)
44.          Yagapanaw- Left without no choice, a teacher leaves her school for greener pastures. (5 mins.  25 secs) (Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province)
45.        Birthday Boy- A young man with a delusional disorder spends his birthday on the beach with his girlfriend and friends. Then all hell breaks loose when his delusions start to manifest. (psycho-thriller UM) (20 mins. 26 secs) (Davao City)
46.          The Project- A group of college students created a documentary about a polyphasic sleeper. (psycho thriller) (18 mins. 20 secs) (Davao City)
47.          Amboy- An American expat doubles as a drug mule, he finds the love of his life. (filmathon, drugs)
48.          Ako Bahala sa Imo- A man is confronted with so choices in life. Some of these may seem inconsequential but actually would make one big difference. (filmathon)
49.          Ang Hanas na Magsusugid- In the future, people hire narrators to tell how their week would turn out. Mia’s week is explained by a hired narrator. (filmathon)
50.          Halug- A man is forced out from his son. He tries to be with his boy just for one minute. (filmathon)
51.          A Father’s Promise- A man tries to fulfill a promise to his daughter (filmathon)
52.          Huwag na Lang- A budding romance nipped in the bud by political differences (filmathon)

53.          Tanum- A writer tries to come up with different concepts for his environmental-themed movie (filmathon)
54.          Balagtas- Follows the life of a poet, who works as an assassin by night. (filmathon)
55.          Sad Boys Club- Boys get rejected, they are friendzoned, they are the Sad Boys Club
56.          Saranggola- Tech-addicted kids are challenged to make and fly kites.
57.          Buboy- A young man must do anything for his ill-brother (Pop Dev.)
58.          Under a Canopy of Light- The filmmaker summons memories and remembrances of an eventful day in summer 33 years ago that has sparked decades of clan war. (11 mins. 33 sec)
59.          Panicupan- A village is North Cotabato is one where Moro, Lumad and Christian settlers joined hands in forging a harmonious relationshop. (13 mins. 10 sec.)
60.          Entre Media del Fin- After seven months of taking care of pregnant Ayesha, in hope for a child, Danny and Khalil are confronted with Ayesha’s decision to leave with her boyfriend, Omar.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Larry and the bacon

Larry had waited long enough, he got out of the car and began to look around the campus for the boy whom he was to fetch from school. It would be one long afternoon looking for him.

Bugoy na bata-a” (what a mischievous kid) the family driver could only mutter describing the penchant of this rebellious kid to make his life difficult whenever he comes for him in the afternoon.

Many, many years passed, the once-mischievous lad would visit the wake of his family’s former chauffer. In front of Larry’s family, the man would fondly recall of his pranks, of how he would wait for Larry to exit the school before skipping his classes and how Larry would be at wits end looking for him when he fetches him in the afternoon.

That bugoy would grow up to become an extraordinary man, he is no less than the legendary Davao City Mayor and the current Philippine President- Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Larry meets up with the man whom he used to drive to school,

Larry’s granddaughter Joanne Divinagracia Domingo would listen to the then city mayor’s stories about his lolo Larry with tears in her eyes.

She describes herself as the closest to lolo Larry among his grandkids.

“When I was a kid he would call me Inday Badiday which is an Ilonggo term of endearment.” Joanne recalls.

“I was really close to him, He was super maalaga at malambing (caring and sweet), when I was still working in Manila and I would return to Davao for vacation, before returning to Manila he would give me a bayong of vegetables, fruits and dried fish he was worried that I was not eating well in Manila.

Joanne remembers her lolo for being frugal but kind-hearted and generous. He would bring our old toys when he goes to visit his relatives in the province, he really likes it when he gives something to the children in the barrio.

Working as a family driver for the political families of the Almendras and the Dutertes,  Hilarion “Larry” Divinagracia would strive hard to support his brood of seven kids. Joanne’s mother Dina is the second eldest of Larry’s children.

It helped that Larry’s kids excelled well in school and received scholarships. When his older children became professionals they began helping out  the other siblings.

Larry was stricken with cancer in 2010, Joanne resigned from her medical representative job in Manila  and return to Davao to take care of her lolo. He passed away in that same year, he was 79.

Joanne admits still missing her lolo Larry. When she and her younger brother put up a homemade bacon business, there was no question what name to put in that product.

Joanne with her favorite lolo

“Larry’s Homemade Bacon is a tribute to my lolo, it was my way of remembering him” Joanne says.

The bacon is a recipe of her mom Dina, who learned it in a school in Manila but revised the school’s recipe to come up with her own.

“I kept changing the recipe to suit my taste.” Dina says describing the process of creating the perfect bacon as a product of trial-and-error with her kids also becoming the testers.

“If they find it too salty, I adjust the recipe, ganun, it’s like that.” Dina remembers the process of coming up with her household bacon.

“I originally made those bacon for the kids since they love having these at breakfast, I figured out instead of buying commercial bacon I can save money by making these at home." Dina recalls.

One day, Dina asked a friend of Joanne if she would want to try her homemade bacon. Her daughter’s friend loved it so much she placed an order for the bacon.

At first Dina refused reasoning out that the bacon were just for the home and never thought of selling them.

But Dina’s kids JP and Joanne saw the business potentials of their mom’s homemade bacon. They invested a small capital to start off with the business. They began selling it to their relatives and friends.

The bacon were well received. Among the early patrons of Larry’s bacon were Joanne’s friends, who by word-of-mouth attracted more buyers, some of the bacon were shipped to Manila and Palawan.

When they put up a display area at Mercado Locale in SM Lanang it became a hot-selling item. Some of the regular customers became resellers themselves.

 "The secret to the bacon is having choice pork cuts we are using quality meats.” Joanne says.

And Joanne is firm in adherence to quality, when there are no stocks of choice meat, production is halted.

Larry’s Homemade bacon is a great stand-alone meal or a snack, but it can also be used in a variety of dishes.

During the product launching at Kusina sa Subli, a restaurant near Joanne’s home in Matina. Larry’s Homemade bacon were used in bacon mashed potatoes, rice balls and burger sliders. It was also used as toppings in cheese cupcakes.

bacon-wrapped rice bombs

bacon burger sliders

Bacon-topped cheese cakes (cupcakes from Sheenful Sweets-Invilicious)

bacon slabs

These days the Domingo’s home is busy with family members helping out in smoking, curing and packing the bacon to supply the increasing orders.

JP the culinary entrepreneur of the Domingo siblings is thinking of ways to expand the household business he is planning on selling their homemade tocino.

Booth at Mercado Locale at SM Lanang

The Bacon Feast featuring Larry's Homemade Bacon at Kusina sa Subli

The team behind The bacon feast.

Joanne is thinking of ways to market the products; she is now fully focused on the day-to-day operations of their bacon venture after helping out in the Presidential campaign of Rodrigo Duterte where she rode the campaign bus across the archipelago with her grade school clique which includes as fate would put it-Sara Duterte, grandchild of her Lolo Larry's former employer, Governor Vicente Duterte.

Joanne campaigning for the man whom her Lolo Larry used to drive to school

With the growing business, Joanne believes that her lolo Larry is helping his grandkids to succeed in business.

“I’d like to believe he is cheering for us in heaven and he is happy of what we have done.” Joanne says.

“One way to succeed in the business is to love what you are doing and love your product. When you love your product you will never compromise its quality and you will never get tired of selling those to people.” Joanne imparts an invaluable lesson she learned from the business.

For Larry's Homemade Bacon inquiries and orders you can text or call 09325623850.