Amazed by the Battle of the Red Cliff

The ancient Chinese really know how to invent military strategies and these are what awed me when I watched John Woo’s Red Cliff.

Woo’s film is about the epic battle at the end of the Han Dynasty and prior to what historians call as the age of Three Kingdoms. Prime Minister Cao Cao convinced the Han emperor that the only way to unify the whole of China is to invade the kingdoms located at South China. He claimed that the Han Emperor’s uncle, Liu Bei, is instigating a rebellion. Zhuge Liang went to the Kingdom of Eastern Wu to forge an alliance against Cao Cao. Sun Quan, leader of Eastern Wu, agreed to the alliance after he was convinced by Viceroy Zhou Yu. To make the long story short (just watch the movie if you are curious), Cao Cao was defeated after the brilliant strategies and bravery exhibited by the warriors of the allied forces.
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 Prime Minister Cao Cao

Viceroy Zu Yu (front) and Sun Quan (middle).

The fight scenes in this film are great. And the drama is not boring because it is an important part of the story. What gripped me with excitement are the strategies employed by Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang to defeat Cao Cao. My favorite is the strategy as picture below:


That is the tortoise formation formulated by the allied forces. Cao Cao’s army was led inside the maze-like formation where they were confused and routed.

Red Cliff is great and I am glad to have watched it. Now, Red Cliff joins my favorite films like Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven, Braveheart, and Prince Caspian. I recommend that you watch this film too.
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Oh by the way, before I end my post, I would like to show my most favorite character in the movie. He is Zhuge Liang, the legendary strategist in the movie and in the Chinese history. He is the one dressed in white in the picture below:
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 Zhuge Liang after stealing 100,000 arrows from the enemy.

Read about COMELEC’s precinct finder in Ahab Reviews and Tips. The online tool will help voters find their precincts online.

Suddenly, I Have More Relatives

Last last week, I attended the funeral of my grandfather’s brother in the neighboring town. As the usual Filipino culture, the funeral of my grandfather is almost devoid of sadness and served as a big family reunion. There is a mini casino where my cousins played and bet on cards. Tables were set-up for visitors that tell stories about the dead and other things. The coffee and biscuits are being passed around by the hosts to help the visitors to stay awake.

Present in the funeral are the regulars like my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. What surprised me is when I was introduced to my other relatives from Bicol. I couldn’t believe that I have many lolo and lola (grandfather and grandmother) whom I just met there for the first time. And that does not include all of my third to fourth degree uncles, aunts, and cousins that accompanied the lolos and lolas.

The members of our clan is too numerous! Christmas can’t bring the whole clan together but when an elder member of the family dies, all of my relatives from around the country will come to see the dead person one last time.

On that day, I discovered that I have a meteorologist cousin who is now working in PAGASA. She graduated in Ateneo de Manila through a scholarship. I did not know that while I am studying in the University of the Philippines, I have a relative that is also studying in a university that is just a jeepney ride away.

Add my Bicolano relatives to the ones I met in Davao and I say that our clan is quite widespread. Suddenly, my relatives become plenty. As many as the stars of the Milky Way.


Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read my tips on how to find your polling precincts by using COMELEC’s precinct finder.

Great Burgers are Wham! Burger

A friend of mine dragged me and my friends around SM North to a restaurant that she claims to have the most delicious burgers that she had ever tasted. These burgers are the Wham! Burgers. As a cheapskate, I am quite hesitant to spend my cash because Wham! Burgers are more expensive than the regular burgers that I buy from McDonalds and Burger King, but in the end my friend convinced me to taste her favorite burgers.

We ordered two Bronco Burgers, which cost 150 pesos apiece but not inclusive of the drinks.
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Wham! Burger
Wham! Burger.

My hesitation became nil the moment I tasted Wham! Burger. It is indeed the best burger that I ever tasted and I am not surprised why my friend made it as her favorite burger.

Wham! Burger is no ordinary burger. The beef patty is thicker than the burgers offered by Jollibee and McDonalds. I could also taste the spices and other ingredients in my burger that greatly add up to the nice flavor of the burger.

According to Wham! Burger Facebook fan page, they only put fresh 1/3 pound beef in every burger and each patty was not frozen so it is always juicy and fresh. This is the main reason why Wham! Burger is delicious.

Wham! Burger is great. I’ll visit them again because I know that what I pay for their burgers is worth it.

“The hell with Burger Yum, ang gusto ko ay Burger Wham!

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Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read how to go around Intramuros.

Photo of Wham! Burger came from the Facebook fan page of Wham! Burger.
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Danggit and other Pasalubong from Cebu

A Cebuano friend once asked me this question: “What can you say about our lechon in Cebu?”

“It is great! Lechon of Cebu are really delicious.” Was my answer.

My reply to his query is not just a polite answer but an understatement. Cebu’s lechon is the best lechon and I am lucky to have tasted it when I visited Cebu. For the uninitiated, lechon is either a whole pork or beef roasted over a very hot charcoal. Lechon becomes delicious by the way it is roasted over the heat and the sauce that is being daubed on it. The most favorite part of lechon is its crispy skin.

Lechon is so delicious that it is no wonder if cardiac arrest due to high cholesterol is the leading cause of death in Cebu.

Aside from the historical and beautiful places, Cebu is also famous because of its unique and tasty food. Lechon is one of those famous Cebuano dishes. Another is the sugba or barbecue of pork, chicken, etc. which is best partnered with puso or rice that is wrapped in coconut leaves and shaped like a heart. Because of delicious foods that abound in Cebu, I decided to buy some pasalubong for my family before I go back home.

 

Danggit Here and Everywhere

 

Cebu is also known as the danggit capital of the country. Danggit is the Cebuano term for sun-dried rabbitfish. Aside from danggit, there are also dried squid and other dried fishes.

A friend of mine requested for danggit as his pasalubong. Because of this, I looked for danggit that I could take as pasalubong for him and my family.
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Buying danggit.

My favorite is the dried squid. I like it fried and eaten as if it is a bubble gum because of chewiness. However, my family does not like it very much so I have to give some of it to some of my relatives in Manila as their pasalubong.
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 Danggit store.

 

Sweet Pasalubong from Cebu

 

What my family liked is the sweet pasalubong from Cebu. On the top of the list of  pasalubong is the dried mangoes. The dried mangoes of Cebu is sweet that is mixed with a slight sour flavor. Dried mangoes are so famous that it is in demand in other countries. Cebu’s dried mango is being exported abroad.

The next favorite pasalubong is the otap. Cebu’s otap is not the ordinary otap that is available in bakeries in Metro Manila. Cebu’s otap is thinner, sweeter, and almost melt inside my mouth. It is available in any shops that sell danggit and Cebuano food. However, I recommend that you buy otap at the factories where it is made because otap is much cheaper there than in the shops.

There are more sweet pasalubong that could be bought from Cebu aside from the dried mangoes and the otap. The shop where I bought danggit also sells other pasalubong like dried mangoes, otap, belekoy and other sweet foods from Cebu. All you have to do is choose what you like.

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Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read about how to go around Intramuros.
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Learning Things and Meeting Peeps at iBlog6

I finally got the chance to meet many bloggers in person yesterday when I attended the second day of the 6th Philippine Blogging Summit or iBlog6. I did not just had the chance to meet bloggers but I also got the chance to forge friendship with them and exchanged important information that will be helpful in my blogging career.

Kudos to the organizers of iBlog6 and their sponsors who made the event possible. They have a good roster of speakers that gave presentations that are informative and will be helpful to all bloggers, newbie or professional blogger alike.
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iBlog6

Vince Golangco's presentation on video blogging opened up some ideas in my mind. If I will pursue video blogging in the future, his tips and tricks will be definitely useful.

Juned Sonido talked about Photo Blogging and displayed his arsenal of cameras on stage. His tips on street photography and candid shots is useful since I mostly use these styles on this blog. His most memorable tips for photoblogging is that the photographer is more important than the camera.  I also learned about him the importance of “Decisive Moments” in getting a remarkable picture.
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JUned Sonido at iBlog
 Juned talking about photoblogging.

The talk on blogging on mobile platforms and running contests on blogs are also informative. Jinoe Gavan's talk on running contests on blogs gave me an idea to run a certain contest for my third year as a blogger. Please watch out for the contest. :-)

It is also good to see some popular bloggers like Momblogger and Janette Toral. I have also met personally  Flowell who I just know online. It is also fun to see Marocharim hop on the stage to stress the message of his talks. He caught my attention and I am also considering incorporating his idea to talk about forgotten issues on my political blog.

Joseph Gonzales of BatangBaler gave a witty and sleep-removing talk on his experiences in setting up a community blog for Baler. His idea is good. He may not be popular in the whole country but he is a celebrity in Baler. His talk made me think of setting up a community blog for Montalban.

Marghil Macuha talked about SEO, which added the information I already had about the topic. My seatmate commented that Macuha’s techniques on SEO borders on spamming. That may be possible, but still, his ideas work.

iBlog6 is also a great venue for networking and meeting friends that are bloggers. I have met some internet marketers and also learned good tips from them. I have also met bloggers like Diana Chan (who have a private blog) and Chris, who is planning to set-up a blog that contains book reviews.

I have also met JM, Joy and her sister Pam. Benedict and his group are my pals in the event and they are a group of internet marketers.

Yesterday is also my lucky day. I won in the raffle and got a white iBlog6 T-shirt.

iBlog Shirt

iBlog6 is an excellent event. I am glad to have attended in the event. I had learned many things and met other blogger. I will join iBlog7 if there will be one next year.

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Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read about my tips on how to move around the walled city of Intramuros.

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A Peek at Cebu Taoist Temple

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Aside from the Minor Basilica of the Santo Nino, Magellan’s Cross, and Fort San Pedro; another tourist spot that could be visited in Cebu City is the Taoist Temple. The temple is located on the outskirts of Cebu City and on a much higher ground than the metropolis.

The Taoist Temple is the center of Taoism in Cebu City, which is mostly practiced by the Filipino Chinese living in the area. The temple is large in terms of area and there are many interesting things that could be found there. Aside from that, the view of Cebu City from the temple is good.
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Taoist Temple in Cebu City
Taoist Temple, Cebu City

 

How to Go to Taoist Temple

 

There are no regular passenger jeepneys going to the Taoist Cebu Temple. The temple can only be reached by hiring a taxicab or by your own vehicle. Taking a car to the temple is not a problem since the temple has a large parking space.
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Cebu City as viewed from the Taoist Temple
Cebu City, as viewed from the temple.

Taxi drivers do not usually go to Taoist Cebu Temple and will try to negotiate with the passengers so as to jack up the taxi fare. Try to haggle with the taxi drivers until you get a reasonable fare for your trip to Taoist Temple.

It is advisable to ask the taxi driver to wait for you while you are visiting the temple since it will be hard to get a taxi back to downtown Cebu City.

The reasonable price is around 300 pesos. That is already good for both going to the Taoist  Cebu Temple and going back to Cebu City.

 

What to Find Inside Taoist Temple

 

There are many things that could be seen inside the temple. An example of this is the architecture of the temple which reflects the Chinese origin of Taoism. The layout of the temple, the motifs and the design elements that are inside the temple mirrors the architecture that could be found in the Taoist and Buddhist temples in China. One notable Chinese design element that is present in the temple is the dragon. There are dragons that are painted on the ceilings. Statues of dragons are also present from the rooftop to a giant dragon statue on one of the temple gardens.
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Dragons at Taoist Temple, Cebu City

Getting up this Cebu temple is exhausting because I had to climb a stairway with scores of steps just to reach the temple proper.
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Cebu Taoist Temple
 The temple is above the mountains.
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The most venerated part of this Cebu temple is the room where the statues of Taoist saints were placed. Sadly, it is forbidden to take pictures of the statues. My only replacement for that is this:
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Statues in Cebu Taoist Temple

 Here are the other things that I saw inside the Taoist Temple.
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Great Wall in Taoist Temple, Cebu City
 Replica of the Great Wall.

Fisherman at Cebu Taoist Temple
 Fisherman on the mountaintop.

Chinese Lion in Cebu Taoist Temple
The stone lion is watching you.

Pagoda in Cebu Taoist Temple
 Pagoda

The Taoist Temple is quite far from Cebu City proper but without visiting this place, your Cebu City experience is incomplete.

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Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read about my article, “How to Go Around Intramuros.
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Awards for Friendship

Good things are continuously coming my way and to all the blogs that I author. Just last week, I was gladdened to receive a very special award from a blogger friend named Mariel. This award is the Friendship Award.

I did not expect to meet nice people and good friends through blogging. But I did and to hell with my expectations. I am happy to have met many interesting people through my blogs. I am glad that I interacted with other bloggers through their comments and interactions with Twitter and Facebook. I am blessed to have argued and debated with other people that fought aggressively for their political beliefs. But the best of all is the friendship that I forged with other bloggers even though they just know me through my nom-de-plume (Oh yes, ma’am and sir, Ishmael Ahab is just a pen name).

As a token of gratitude and appreciation, I am also giving this award to the special people who always have time to give this humble blog a visit. I give the Friendship Award is given to my friends Bluedreamer, Mariel, and TIN.
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These people share more than comments and links on my blogs. They also make my blogging career more worthwhile. Thank you very much to you Mariel, Bluedreamer, and TIN.

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Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read my travel post, “How to Go Around Intramuros.”

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Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño

Cebu City is famous for its history and its Spanish heritage. Being one of the oldest Spanish settlements in the country, Cebu City has many stories to tell via its old buildings and the culture of the Cebuanos. If Manila is famous for the Feast of the Black Nazarene, Cebu is known worldwide for its colorful Sinulog Festival.

Sinulog is celebrated every third Sunday of January in honor of Santo Niño or the child Jesus. Sinulog is one of the most colorful feasts in the Philippines and many tourists, both foreign and local, flock Cebu to see the festival and the Cebuano’s strong faith to God.
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Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño

 The Santo Niño

The Santo Niño or the child Jesus is highly revered in the Philippines, especially in Cebu. In Cebu, you could see the image of Santo Niño everywhere. You could see the image of Santo Niño painted on jeeps; printed on souvenir shirts; and displayed on numerous shops and offices. The image of Santo Niño can also be seen at the top gate of Fort San Pedro.
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Cebuano’s devotion to the child Jesus is so great that they built a church in his honor. The Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño is the most visited Cebu churches.

The Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño

 Churchgoers to the Basilica.

Many people go to the basilica to attend mass and worship God. This church is also one of the most visited tourist spots in Cebu City. If you are going to the basilica, expect it to be always jam-packed with people. One reason why this church is well visited because it is just a short walk away from Magellan’s Cross.

During the Sinulog Festival, expect the basilica and its grounds to be filled with devotees and tourists. During the festival, the Holy Mass is celebrated on the open space in front of the Basilica so as to accommodate the hundreds of people who want to attend the feast.

Here some of the pictures that I took during my visit in the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño.
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 Friar embossed.

 We remember. We celebrate. We believe.

The sky is blue. :-)

So if you are visiting Cebu, I adjure you not to miss visiting the famous Basilica of the Santo Niño.

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Looking Forward with Social Spark

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

It is frustrating for a blogger of two years like me to not see loads of income coming in from any of my blogs. For the past months, I employed banners ads, link ads, and other blog monetization schemes that I learned from the popular blogging gurus in the blogosphere. I absorbed and applied their various teachings with regards to SEO and the Social Media Optimization schemes. However, I still have to see real money being deposited to my bank account.

Where Advertisers and Bloggers Meet

Of all the blog money-making schemes that I applied for my blogs, SocialSpark is the most latest. I first encountered Social Spark on a banner ad in the Blog Patrol website. I almost applied for an account by that time but then I shrugged the opportunity off thinking that Social Spark is another of those schemes that does not reap real benefits. Thankfully, a good friend of mine convinced me to join Social Spark by attesting to its reliability and by showing me the benefits that he gained by being a member.

Signing up for Social Spark is easy and long time bloggers will have no difficulty in filling up the information required by the website. The hard part is waiting for Social Spark to send you an e-mail confirming that your blog is accepted as platform for their ads and sponsored blog posts.

So far, I believe that Social Spark will be the best deal that I will have for my whole life as blogger. Social Spark offers to give bloggers a respectable income for their blogs. However, this is not what Social Spark is all about. Social Spark is also about friendship and connection between bloggers. The website acts like a social networking websites for bloggers. As of the moment, I already have two contacts in Social Spark with wonderful blogs. Social Spark will surely increase my income due to blogging but it will also enrich my blogging life. Connections and friendship, and some money too, these are the things that I am looking forward with Social Spark.

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Curious about Social Spark? Sign up for SocialSpark to know more about this wonderful website. Also, read about the site's Code of Ethics.
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Visita Iglesia

(*Because of too much activities during the Holy Week season, this blog post is somewhat late.)

It is the Holy Week once again.

T’is the season to meditate on the passion of our God, Jesus Christ, as he gave himself up to redeem us from our sins through his death on the cross.

T’is is also the season for a flurry of panata that many Filipino devotees have. There are those who vow not to eat meat for the whole holy week as their panata. There are those whose panata are singing the pabasa or go to a retreat. Still other chose to participate in a senakulo, which is a play depicting the life of Jesus. The most extreme is self-flagellation and reliving Christ’s suffering through crucifixion.

Another popular panata is the Visita Iglesia. During the course of my travels, I had visited many churches around the country. Visiting a church in your travels in the Philippines is important because churches are important landmarks of every town in the country. By looking at the church, the visitor will see parts of the town’s culture and history.

So, here are my seven most favorite churches that I had visited during my travels:

Santa Cruz Church

 Santa Cruz Church

I began to love this church since the first time I saw the painting on the wall at the back of the altar. The painting depicts a lamb standing on some rocks and a stream of water flowing down to holy bread. I also like this church because it is less crowded as compared to Quiapo Church.

UP Chapel


 Jesus' ascension to heaven.

The University of the Philippines Chapel or UP Chapel had been my sanctuary in the last years of my stay in college. During those times, many things are happening to me that I have no one to ask for help but the Lord. There I found solace and rest my problems to the Lord. Whenever I am in UP, I always make it to a point to pass by UP Chapel.

The Chapel is circular in shape with the altar and cross in the center. This chapel was designed by national artists. What I like in this church is the cross in the center with the crucified Jesus on one side and the risen Lord on the other. The outstretched hand of the risen Jesus inspires me always that I too will rise up after every hardships that I experienced.

San Agustin Church




I visited this church in one of my travels in Intramuros. This Church is beautiful. What I like about this church is its door, which is one of the most beautiful that I ever saw.

Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño




The Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño could be found in Cebu. This is the home of the image of the Santo Niño, which is much revered by the Cebuanos. What I love about this church is that the faith of the people is alive. You could feel how the people revere the child Jesus. The faith of the people made this church beautiful.

Lucban Church




I got the chance to visit this church when our office went for an outing in Lucban, Quezon. It is one of the old Church that I visited.

Manila Cathedral




Manila Cathedral is the home of the archbishop of Manila. It is located inside Intramuros in Manila. This church has lots of history to tell. It has been the church of the well to do Spaniards in Manila. It had stood during the invasion of the American then the Japanese. Like the San Agustin Church, I also like its doors with wonderful engravings.

Cebu Cathedral




The largest church in Cebu is the Cebu Cathedral. One of the must see spot in Cebu due to its being center of faith in the Visayas. I like to visit this church because of its being more serene than the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño.

These are my seven favorite churches in the Philippines. Many will argue that there are more Churches that are more beautiful than those place in this post. I agree, since I still have more churches to visit. That makes me more excited because I know that discovering churches will add spice to my journeys.

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Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read about my review of the second book of the Inheritance Cycle, Eldest.