2016 in Summary: What A Year That Was!

It is the last day of A.D. 2016!

This only means that it is the best time to publish the obligatory year-end post where I will look back to the year that was.

The Obligatory Year-End Post

2016 is the year when my second child – our Little Samantha – came to us and filled our home with fun.

2016 is the year where my firstborn – our Little Samuel – has plenty of milestones. Our little boy is learning fast and he is advancing to the delight of his Lolo and Lola.

2016 is the year when this blog went to the backburner due to my busy days as a Father, Husband, Employee. The office-stress and the sleepless nights when caring for our children took a toll to my creativity. The result is almost-a-year-long Writer’s Block. I only published 24 blog posts, which is the lowest since I started blogging in 2007.

2016 is the year when I withdrew from other activities like my involvement with pro-life groups because I focused most of my energy in taking care of the family.

2016 is the year when I started my journey for financial freedom. I purchased a life insurance which I hope will help my family save and grow our money. I don’t trust life insurance companies in the past because of the issues with CAP and other pre-need insurance firms but a good friend convinced me to think otherwise.

2016 is the year when I finally finished my post about my adventures in Thailand. This is a major achievement for this blog since I was posting about Thailand since 2012. It took me four years! Now I wonder when can I post about my adventures in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other great places around the Philippines.

That’s the highlight of my 2016. I do hope that we will see each other again next year.


Special thanks and mentions to the following bloggers to this blog who is always present in the combox.

Arthur Wee (a.k.a. Suitapui)
Thank you also to all of my suki (and those who are shy to leave a comment) and subscribers to this blog. Please continue patronizing my blog and I do hope that you start to leave comments next year.


Read all of my twenty-four blog posts for 2016



Nothing Special at Uncle Cheffy Nuvali Park
The Issue of Tipping and Service Charge at Filipino Restaurants


Visita Iglesia 2016: The Ruins of the 400-Year Old Church of Vinzons, Camarines Norte
And We Will Call Them Sam-Sam


Malunggay Wars! TaiChi vs Natalac vs Mega Malunggay
The Return of Ishmael (I Hope)


Happy Toothbrushing Time with Tiny Fangs
5 Reasons Why Bangkok is Better than Manila


Enroute to Manila: Waiting A Little in Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok)
The Bear is Going Home
The Daddy Chronicles: 13 Things that Your Toddler Can Do that You Can't


It’s Cebu Again for the Nth Time!
A Foretaste of Cebu in Mactan Cebu International Airport


Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 1): My Boat Ride Under the Bridges of Mactan Channel


Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 2): Finding Consolation in Consolacion Church
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 3): Feasting on Consolacion’s Fresh Talaba
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 4): Bagacay Point Lighthouse


#PaskuhanSaLRT1: Riding the Christmas Train to Carriedo

I was in for a big surprise when I boarded an LRT-1 train this morning.

#PaskuhanSaLRT1 - Inside the Christmas Train

The whole place is shouting “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

The handle bars were dressed as candy canes and they even placed a big parol.

#PaskuhanSaLRT1 - Parol sa LRT Train

The train windows were designed to look like capiz windows of old Filipino homes.

#PaskuhanSaLRT1 - Capiz Window of LRT Train
(Photo by Rommel Lopez)

I was so amazed with the transformation that I forgot my worries during the whole train ride. It really felt like Santa Claus will suddenly appear to give us gifts (even though I was a was naughty boy this year).

#PaskuhanSaLRT1 - Christmas Stars in LRT1

The Christmas Train is part of LRT-1’s #PaskuhanSaLRT1 Christmas celebrations.

Aside from giving the passenger good vibes, LRT-1 also gave passengers a chance to win 5,000-peso worth of Beep Card load whenever they take their selfie inside the Christmas Train.

Well, here’s my selfie inside LRT-1’s Christmas Train:

#PaskuhanSaLRT1 - Candy Cane

The good thing about #PaskuhanSa LRT1 is that LRT-1 didn’t forgot the reason for the Season. They placed a belen inside the Christmas Train.

#PaskuhanSaLRT1 - Nativity Scene
(Photo by Rommel Lopez)

Kudos to the management of LRT-1 for the #PaskuhanSaLRT1. I hope that you do the same (or better) Christmas gimmick next year.

Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 6): The Colorful Lighthouse of Lilo-an

Porter Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

The town of Lilo-an, aptly dubbed as the Light of the North, has two lighthouses. The old light tower, erected by the Americans, is located on Bagacay Point. The other one, which is more recent (and I daresay more colorful) is located inside Porter Marina Bar and Grill.

I really wanted to visit the lighthouse when I first heard about it. So, despite the bad weather, I hopped on a habal-habal and went to the marina.

It was a 15-minute ride on rough road. The motorcycle passed through places that have more talahiban than houses. The place is so remote that I expected to be ambushed by commie NPAs.

The place is closed and almost deserted save for the security guard, who welcomed us and brought us to his boss.

After a few minutes of chat and asking their permission, the owners of Porter Marina allowed us to visit the lighthouse without paying the entrance fee.  (Yey!)

We found an orange buoy on our way to the lighthouse.

Buoy in Porter Marina in Lilo-an, Cebu

A buoy is a floating device that is used to mark shallow areas. Some of the buoys are lighted so as to help ships navigate during the night.

Lo and behold! We finally saw the colorful Porter Lighthouse up close.

Porter Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

We discovered that the lighthouse was named after the parents of the owner of the marina: Capt. Edward James A. Porter and Rear Admiral Norma Y. Porter.

Memoriam to the Porters at the Porter Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

Captain Porter and Rear Admiral Porter were members of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary, which is a sort of a reserve force of the Coast Guard. The Porters were very active in promoting the safety of life at sea that's why they were honored by the Philippine Coast Guard.

This means that the lighthouse not only serves as an attraction for the marina but also as a true lighthouse that guide ships going to the Port of Cebu. The proof of it is the plaque placed by the Philippine Coast Guard on the lighthouse.

Plaque from Philippine Coast Guard showing Porter Lighthouse's registration in the agency

I read in some blogs that Porter Marina offers seafood delicacies. Visitors can also catch their own fish in the lagoon and in open sea. I saw pictures of people catching bangus and lapu-lapu just using their fishing rod.

The marina near Porter Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

Too bad that we didn’t do any of those activities. The truth is that visiting the lighthouse was my only objective.

The two-storey building, where the lighthouse stands, serves as function room and can be rented for events.

Porter Marina also has facilities for fixing boats and yachts. Thus, I was not surprised to see some yachts docked in their marina.

Yachts parked near Porter Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

We were allowed to go near Porter Lighthouse. So, I had a close up photo of the colorful lighthouse…

The colorful Porter Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

…and a good view of Magellan Bay, which is the place where I boarded the boat when I journeyed along the Mactan Channel. The bay was so named because it the place where the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan clashed with Mactan chieftain Lapu-Lapu. In fact, the Lapu-Lapu Shrine is located along Magellan Bay.

Magellan Bay as viewed from Porter Lighthouse (Lilo-an, Cebu)

Those who wish to visit the Porter Lighthouse or do some fishing can visit the Porter Marina at Sitio Baybayon, Brgy. Calero, Lilo-an, Cebu. They may be contacted at telephone numbers (032) 406-9239 and (032) 318-8807.

L’Nor Marine Services, which is the company inside the marina the deals with repairing yachts, may be contacted at telephone numbers (032) 406-9239 and (032) 406-0378, and mobile number 0917-305-0218, and email lnormarine@hotmail.com

No trespassing warning at Porter Lighthouse is Lilo-an, Cebu

Trespassing is strictly prohibited in Porter Marina so you better enter through the front gate unless you wished to be shot (and survivors will be shot again).



Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 5): The Mysterious Church of Lilo-an

Legend says that in a place called Silot, there is whirlpool created by the flow of the water in and out of the bay. Lilo is the Cebuano word for whirlpool thus the town which surrounds Silot Bay is now called as Lilo-an, which means a place where there’s a lilo.

I thought that that legend is all there is. There is nothing mysterious about a bay with a whirlpool. I even mused that the Bagacay Point Lighthouse was erected by the Spaniards to warn galleons of the whirlpool in the area.

However, everything turned bizarre when I researched about the old church in Lilo-an. The legend of the whirlpool, it turned out, has a deeper mystery and the old church is at the center of it.

San Fernando Rey Parish Church in Lilo-an, Cebu

The church of Lilo-an was built in 1847, which is two years after the establishment of the town as a new parish.

Lilo-an Church is unique because it was built not facing the sea. All of the churches in Cebu built during the Spanish Era are facing the sea like the churches in Danao City, the Cebu Cathedral, and the Minor Basilica of Santo Niño.

Door of Lilo-an Church in Cebu

Many speculated that the church was built not facing the sea to avoid the heat of the sun during morning masses. Another speculation was that the church was built towards the direction of Spain, which is the home of the town’s patron saint.

Piratical attacks by Moros is a common narrative in the early history of old towns in the Visayas. These Moro pirates raided Christian settlements, looted and destroyed churches, and enslaved their victims. The piracy was so severe that it lasted all throughout the Spanish Era. It was estimated that pirates enslaved around 500 people every year.

It is not surprising then why the people of Lilo-an chose San Fernando Rey as their town’s patron saint and intercessor.

Ferdinand III of Castilia
San Fernando Rey (painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo).

San Fernando Rey, officially known as Ferdinand III, is the king of Castilia from 1230 to 1252. He initiated the Reconquista, which is a military and diplomatic campaign against the Islamic caliphate in Southern Spain. His Reconquista was so successful that he liberated the whole of Spain from Muslim invaders.

Inside Lilo-an Church (Lilo-an, Cebu)

The church’s interior is quite simple. It is not as grand as the Minor Basilica of Santo Niño. Its ceiling is bare. The walls are bare. Even the altar is almost bare save for the tabernacle, the holy table, and the lone image of San Fernando Rey.

Altar of Lilo-an Church (Lilo-an, Cebu)

Don’t let the simplicity of the altar fool you because, according to a legend, the altar wall is hiding a secret entrance to an underground cave. It is believed that the secret cave runs under the foundation of the church and has an opening to the channel connecting Silot Bay and the sea. They say that if you will feel that the ground is hollow if your jump in the area behind the church.

Bell tower of Lilo-an Church in Cebu

If I just knew about this secret during my last visit to Lilo-an then I will make sure to jump like a fool behind Lilo-an Church. I might even try to locate the said mysterious cave entrance.

ImmortalUndead and Swerver of Liloan Trippers investigated the mystery of Lilo-an Church but they got inconclusive information. They even interviewed the parish priest but they failed to get an authoritative answer.

Legend also said that the underground cave is inhabited by a mysterious creature. Some said that the cave is inhabited by a kugtong. Others say it’s a giant squid. A few says it’s a mermaid. I say it’s the Loch Ness Monster.

Kugtong is a lapu-lapu that grew to a size of a car. Apparently, this fish is not mysterious since some fishermen of Antique caught one last year.

Silot Bay in Lilo-an, Cebu
Channel of Silot Bay where the lilo is said to occur.

Whatever it is, people blame the mysterious creature for the drowning of many people in Silot Bay. They say that this creature creates the lilo whenever it opens its mouth to suck in its victims.

If the legend is true then Lilo-an Church’s mysterious creature is older than the town itself!



Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 4): Bagacay Point Lighthouse

There is only one town in the whole Philippines that have a lighthouse (or light tower) in the middle of the highway. That town is the Cebuano town of Lilo-an, which is commonly misspelt as Liloan.

Bagacay Point Lighthouse replica located along the highway in Lilo-an, Cebu

Actually, the tower in middle of the highway is just the replica of the Bagacay Point Lighthouse. The people of Lilo-an are so proud of their lighthouse that they made it a symbol of their town.

Bagacay Point Lighthouse Replica in Lilo-an, Cebu

It is my second time to visit the town of Lilo-an. My first time was four years ago when I dropped by Titay’s just to buy their famous and super yummy Rosquillos. I didn’t visit the light tower because I immediately rode a bus to catch my flight back to Manila.

The true lighthouse is located about 3 kilometers from the replica so I had to ride a tricycle.

Channel to Silot Bay in Lilo-an, Cebu
On my way to Bagacay Point Lighthouse.

The trike had to cross a bridge that spans the small inlet to Silot Bay.

There is a story that in the sea off the town, at the place called Silot, there is a whirlpool created by the flow of water in and out the bay. Lilo is the Cebuano word for whirlpool thus the town was called Lilo-an, which means a place where there is lilo.

Bridge over Silot Bay in Lilo-an Cebu

I did not saw any whirlpool when I crossed the bridge but there is a different whirlpool in Lilo-an because of Silot Bay. I read in the news that a certain family blocked public access to Silot Bay. It was reported that armed guards threaten the poor fishermen with gunshots if they try to fish in the area.

This issue explains the “Free Silot” flaglets placed on the bridge.

A few minutes of tricycle ride brought us to true Bagacay Point Lighthouse.

Bagacay Point Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

It was my first time to see a lighthouse up close that’s why I was very eager to visit it.

Bagacay Point Lighthouse in Lilo-an , Cebu

I have a hunch that the Bagacay Point Lighthouse was built to warn mariners of the lilo. It would be devastating for Spanish galleons to be caught in a whirlpool because all of the goods and gold in the ship will sink to Davy Jones’ Locker.

Bagacay Point Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

The first tower of Bagacay Point Lighthouse was erected by the Spaniards in 1857 to serve as a guide for ships calling at Cebu port from the north. Unfortunately, that tower was destroyed for unknown reason.

The light tower that is now standing on Bagacay Point was built in 1904 during the term of the first American Governor General of the Philippines: William Howard Taft.

Bagacay Point Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

Bagacay Point Lighthouse stands 72 feet. Its light can reach ships that are 17 miles away. It is considered as one of the remaining example of American structure in the Philippines, particularly in Cebu Province.

Door of Bagacay Point Lighthouse in Lilo-an, Cebu

Bagacay Point Lighthouse is operational and the Philippine Coast Guard is the one taking care of it.

I was shocked when I reached Bagacay Point, not because of the lighthouse, but because of the presence of an Ayala Subdivision.

Amara by Ayala Land in Lilo-an, Cebu

The once remote tower is now surrounded by houses and residents of the posh Amara Subdivision.

Google Earth showed that all the land surrounding Bagacay Point Light is now occupied by the Ayala Empire.

Ayala even used Bagacay Point Lighthouse as their selling point. I guess many people are drawn to live near the scenic view of a century-old lighthouse.

Bagacay Point Lighthouse near Amara
(Screen grab from AyalaLand Premier)

Thankfully, the lighthouse can be accessed by the public since it is outside of Amara. If not then these lovebirds have no choice but to go to a less scenic spot:

Date near Bagacay Point Lighthouse

It is right for the people of Lilo-an to be proud of their century-old lighthouse, not only because it is a magnet for tourists, but because of centuries and centuries of service to the mariners navigating the sea of Cebu. Just imagine the number of lives saved just because of guiding light emanating from Bagacay Point Lighthouse.


Read more about my latest adventure in Cebu:
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 3): Feasting on Consolacion’s Fresh Talaba
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 2): Finding Consolation in Consolacion Church

Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 3): Feasting on Consolacion’s Fresh Talaba

A Dinner of Fresh Talaba in Consolacion, Cebu

It’s evening and me and my officemates (those who was also sent to Cebu for an office errand) are looking for something to eat. We didn’t want the usual burgers and fried chickens in the town’s SM Shopping Mall. We are in Cebu and we wanted to eat local.

Good thing that a tricycle driver pointed us in the right direction. He brought us here:

Ruben's Fresh Talaba in Consolacion, Cebu

The trike driver promised that this is the place to taste the best talaba in town. We believed him and so we entered the lowly hut…

Ruben's Fresh Talaba in Consolacion, Cebu

...which is watched over by the omnipresent videoke machine. Thankfully, no one is belting Sinatra’s My Way or those ghastly Tagalog juke box songs.

The town of Consolacion is jutted by an estuary. This body of brackish water is quite big that it almost reached the national highway where SM is located. The presence of estuary means that Consolacion is the perfect place for growing oyster.

Baked Talaba from Consolacion, Cebu

Our group ordered 1 kilo of baked talaba.

It seems like 90% of 1 kilogram talaba went to the heavy shells :-(

We also ordered other seafood dishes to make the most of our visit to Mang Ruben. We ordered a pot of tolang mamsa…

Tolang Mamsa from Consolacion, Cebu

…which the waitress served in a kaldero.

I didn’t know what mamsa is. A little Google search revealed that mamsa is talakitok in Tagalog and trevally in English. This is the fish that is featured in the 50-Philippine peso bill.

Our group also ordered kilaw na tanigue or mackerel cooked in vinegar.

Kilaw na tanigue in Consolacion, Cebu

And since kilawin is a certified pulutan, we also ordered some bottles of beer.

Our total bill is 695 pesos, which I think is not bad considering the number of dishes that we ordered.

Cost of our dinner in Consolacion, Cebu

However, I felt "lugi" with the talaba. I just ate two or three pieces of it. I should have eaten the shells para hindi naman ako lugi.

It was a good night. The bahay kubo style of the restaurant gave us a cool sea breeze. The talaba is fresh, although I cannot say that it is the best talaba in town. Our group enjoyed a fun conversation and I guess the beer helped us with that.


Read more about my latest adventure in Cebu:
Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 2): Finding Consolation in Consolacion Church

Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 2): Finding Consolation in Consolacion Church

The town of Consolacion is a dwarf compared to its neighboring cities of Cebu and Mandaue. I passed through this town in 2012 on my way to Danao City but I barely noticed it. This town is literally excluded in my mental map. 

However, thanks to a work-related errand, the town of Consolacion became my one-week residence and I got the chance to see it up close.

One of the things that immediately saw during my one-week stay is the SM Mall in Consolacion.

SM Consolacion in Consolacion, Cebu
This made me exclaim "Uy, may SM dito" :-P

Consolacion was once a barrio of Mandaue during the Spanish Era. This meant that the residents had to walk many hours to attend the Holy Mass or do their civil duties in the town center. I guess that the road to Mandaue back then was rough thus making their journey a sort of sacrifice.

In 1871, the Spanish governor granted their petition and made their barrio a separate town. The people were so grateful that they named the new town after the governor’s daughter - Consolacion.

They also chose St. Narciso, the namesake of the governor's wife Narcisa, as the town's patron.

Consolacion Church in Consolacion, Cebu

St. Narciso or Narcissus is the 30th bishop of Jerusalem during the 2nd Century. St. Narcissus is known for some miracles, one of which is the conversion of water into oil that was used by the church during Easter.

As its patron, St. Narcissus is the main feature of the church’s façade.

Image of St. Narcissus in Consolacion Church in Consolacion, Cebu

The church was first built in 1872 using wood, nipa, and bamboo. A typhoon in 1888 blew away the light materials thus totally destroying the church. Consolacion Church was rebuilt when Father Blas was the parish priest but it was again destroyed in 1892 by another typhoon. The third and current structure of Consolacion Church was built just before the Second World War during the time when Father Banzon was the parish priest.

St. Narcissus Parish Church in Consolacion, Cebu

Consolacion Church doesn’t look like the old churches of Cebu since it was built during the American Colonial Period. It already incorporated modern architectural motifs of the time. The Greek columns fronting the church echoes the architectural styles of the American Era building like the Manila Central Post Office, which is famous for its Greek columns.

The interior of Consolacion Church is also different from the old Cebu churches. It is very simple. The walls and the ceiling are adorned with minimal Catholic art.

Interior of Consolacion Church in Consolacion, Cebu

Some of the artworks that I found interesting include a relief of the Last Supper…

Bas-relief of the Last Supper in Consolacion Church (Consolacion, Cebu)

…and a painting of bread and fish and John 3:16 in Cebuano:

John 3:16 verse in Consolacion Church (Consolacion, Cebu)

The altar of Consolacion Church is also simple.

The altar of Consolacion Church in Consolacion, Cebu

At the front is the simple image of Jesus Crucified, flanked by the image of the Virgin Mary and St. Narcissus.

The altar of Consolacion Church in Consolacion, Cebu

The simplicity of this church in Consolacion reminded of the church that I used to visit in Thailand.

Although, I still prefer churches loaded with beautiful Catholic arts, I think that simplicity works in church. And during my short visit there, this simplicity helped me to focus my attention to the Lord crucified at the altar.

The church is the only place that I visited during my stay in Consolacion. I know that there are more notable places but I guess I will just visit them when (and if) I return to Cebu.


Request for Prayers

Tarp for the beatification of Archbishop Camomot in Consolacion Church (Consolacion, Cebu)

The tarpaulin, shown in the above image, made we wonder who Bishop Camomot was and why it is posted inside Consolacion Church. A little Google search revealed that the bishop is being considered by the church for beatification.

The cause for beatification was opened because of Archbishop Camomot's great generosity and simplicity.  Cardinal Vidal said that Archbishop Camomot once pawned his pectoral cross (the cross worn by bishops around their neck) to help the needy.

The archbishop was also reported to have the ability to bilocate, which is the ability to be at two places at the same time. Cardinal Vidal testified that the archbishop was with him, sleeping, during a meeting with the College of Consultors. However, a woman claimed that at the same time Archbishop Camomot was at the mountain in Carcar giving the last sacrament to a dying person.

It was also reported that the dead body of Archbishop Camomot was incorrupt for 20 years.

Archbishop Camomot founded the religious community of Daughters of Saint Teresa in 1960.

The ability to bilocate and being incorruptible is amazing but what's more amazing was the archbishop's heroic generosity.

I am with the Cebuanos in their prayers for the beatification of Archbishop Teofilo Camomot.


Read more about my latest adventure in Cebu:

Interested about Philippine Catholic Churches? Read about them here.



Most of the information about Consolacion and its church were sourced from the Official Facebook page of Consolacion Municipality.

Information about Archbishop Teofilo Camomot was sourced from the website of the Daughters of Saint Teresa.

Information about St. Narcissus was obtained from Catholic Online.