Monday, November 27, 2017

Bataan celebrates Pawikan Festival 2017

Aiming to make all the Filipinos aware of the importance of endangered marine turtles and its role in the ecological balance of marine biodiversity, the province of Bataan celebrated this year's nationally recognized Pawikan Festival with the theme "Help Save the Pawikan," which was held last Saturday, November 25, at the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan.
Pawikan Festival 2017: Help Save the Pawikan!
Currently on its sixteenth year, the festival was organized by the Bataan provincial government, spearheaded by Governor Albert Garcia and his mother, Vicky Garcia, the chairwoman of Bataan Tourism Foundation, in coordination with Morong municipal government headed by Mayor Cynthia Estanislao.

Walk for a cause

To create an awareness for the young generations about marine turtles conservation, the festival kicked off with a morning walk at 5:30am in Nagbalayog. The course was about 3 kilometers from the starting line in Nagbalayog to Pawikan Conservation Center. It was then followed by the opening ceremony at the Pawikan Conservation Center, attended by more than a thousand guests.
Local government unit participated in "Walk for a cause."
Opening ceremony

After the morning walk, the participants and guests from different schools, local government units, environmental groups and other organizations were introduced.
Student organization like Yes-O participated in "Walk for a cause."
While waiting for the program to start, the internationally awarded band from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines entertained the crowd. The PUP Banda Kawayan is well-known for its use of bamboo musical instruments.
PUP Banda Kawayan performing at the Pawikan Festival 2017.
Commencing the opening ceremony with an invocation and singing of the National Anthem, the PUP Banda Kawayan took the lead. After the anthem, Mayor Estanislao formally opened the celebration of the Pawikan Festival 2017. "Our municipality, Morong, is privileged for always being the venue of the festival. It is with great pride and honor that Pawikan Festival is associated with the municipality. With that being said, I formally welcome the guests and participants," Mayor said.

Following the welcoming remarks, Senator Cynthia Villar, the guest of honor, spoke in front of thousands of audience. "One of the main ways to protect the marine creatures like marine turtles is to protect our ocean and maintain its cleanliness because it is their home or habitat," said Senator Villar, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
Senator Cynthia Villar talked in front of BataeƱo.
Governor Garcia ended the welcoming remarks, saying "While I wanted to achieve the quality growth of Bataan province, it should not be at the expense of the environment."
Governor Albert Garcia delivered his speech at the opening ceremony of Pawikan Festival 2017.
Ceremonial release of hatchlings

The Pawikan Festival highlighted the release of the hatchlings at the shore facing the West Philippine Sea. The release of the hatchlings signified the continuous environmental conservation and protection by the local community and environmental groups to guard the marine creatures and its habitat. During the ceremonial release of hatchlings early morning, Senator Villar, Governor Garcia, and Mayor Estanislao participated in the release of 110 hatchlings.

Hatchlings relased at the shore.
Festival dance competition

One of the most-awaited parts of Pawikan Festival is the Festival dance competition. With ten groups coming from different municipalities, the festival dancers performed on the sandy beach of Nagbalayog. Dressed in their marine-turtle-inspired costumes, they performed dances that interpreted ways to help save the marine turtles. The festival dancers from the municipality of Dinalupihan took home the bacon. The movements of the festival dancers from Dinalupihan flowed with dazzling grace, synchronized with each other that took away the breath of every person in the audience. Their costumes were as colorful their culture and the festival. Magenta, cyan, emerald green, and purple were flash of colors that lighted up the afternoon heat.
Festival dancer enjoyed his performance with all smiles.
Festival dancer danced at full pelt.
Free me from the plastic bag, please.
Shout out loud, festival dancers!
Other contests and activities

Other contests to highlight the aim of Pawikan Festival included a songwriting contest, a sand sculpture contest, a photo contest, a paddle painting contest, a body painting contest and a slogan making contest. The winning song in the songwriting contest has been the official jingle of Pawikan Festival 2017. The students from Bataan National High performed the song with a sing and dance.
The students from Bataan National High School interpreted the winning song in the songwriting contest with their graceful moves.
In addition, festival goers attended zumba sessions, the Galing! Bataan trade fair -- BAFNOFMAI and DTI, an environmental fair, a creative forum and another release of hatchlings during sunset.

After the awarding winners of different competitions and recognizing partner agencies and organizations, a beach party, in which festival-goers enjoyed the rhythmic percussion of bands playing upbeat music, capped the celebration of Pawikan Festival 2017.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why the Philippines is worth traveling to

The Philippines is worth traveling to because of its beauty. Composed of 7,641 islands sprawling in the archipelago, it has so many mind-blowing attractions to offer. In fact, many of the islands are unnamed, uninhabited and waiting to be discovered, with pristine beaches, majestic waterfalls, mysterious mountain ranges, colonial-era architectures, rich culture, joyful people and diverse wildlife. Traveling to the Philippines is a total bliss. So whether you are a beach bum, an adventure seeker, a mountaineer, a philomath of culture, an explorer, a discoverer, or a wanderer, you will surely find something to love here.
The longest underground river in the world, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a world UNESCO Heritage site, was proclaimed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World,
The Philippines is worth traveling to because of its people. Filipinos are known to be the most hospitable, highly-relational and friendliest people in the world. Filipinos always put the comfort of their guests before their own. Filipinos make people feel welcome. Caring ways are very apparent, thus is nurturing spirit. It is innate for every Filipino to show their smile on their faces. Their waves of laughter are unfathomable. Their happiness is contagious. As a result, Filipino themselves can be considered as one of the Philippines' tourist attractions.
The old, preserved town of Vigan City, Ilocos Norte that was hailed as one of the new Wonder Cities of the World by New7Wonders Foundation. Image by Gretchen Dublin Filart of Filipina Explorer.
The Philippines is worth traveling to because it is worth protecting and conserving. The Philippines is one of the world's biodiversity hotspot. Thousands of species of plants and animals are endemic, many of which are currently endangered. Due to this, efforts to conserve these species are being made by the government and other NGOs. Ecotourism, which aims to rehabilitate and preserve the natural environment and wildlife while promoting the area as a tourist destination, is increasing its popularity in the Philippines. An example of this is Masungi Georeserve in Tanay, Rizal. Visiting these ecotourist attractions is hitting two birds with one stone. You get to visit the area, plus you get to contribute to the protection of the area.
The famed, gigantic hammock at Masungi Georeserve in Tanay, Rizal. Image by Gretchen Dublin Filart by Filipina Explorer.
The Philippines is worth traveling to because it makes us appreciate our differences and similarities with other people. The Philippines has many ethnolinguistic groups. Aside from different dialects, these groups of people also have different folkways, cuisines, traditions, and culture. For example, Cebuanos have a different set of culture and beliefs with Kapampangan and Ilocanos. However, despite the differences, they are all the same. They are Filipinos. We are all Filipinos, who have the same sentiments and a common goal, and that is to make our country better.
Local cultural performers showing their Pangalay dance accompanied by kulintang song. Taken at The Great Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City during Summer Fiesta Festival.
The Philippines is worth traveling to because we are Filipinos. The Philippines is part of who we are. It is our mind, our heart, our lungs, our blood that runs through our veins. We need to embrace the fact that we need to know the Philippines to understand ourselves better. Everywhere in the country, there's a trace of our root waiting to be ascertained by us.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The mere thought of traveling and learning

I love to travel and make a difference. I was born and raised in Caloocan City. My dad is from Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte and my mom is from Meycauayan City, Bulacan. Therefore, I am a citizen of three cities and living life in the hustle and bustle of the metro.

The Labasin Lake view from Coco Pavilion at Villa Escudero. 
I started traveling when I was 18 to leave my worries behind and to widen my understanding of the world. I have always been searching for something new to explore, seeking to venture out and interact with people from all walks of life.

Taken at The Great Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City. Image by Potpot Pinili of Travel Trilogy.
And so when I entered college, I took Marketing Management. At the start of my journey, I created marketing materials and built connections. Three years later, I learned advertising, marketing research, marketing plans, and a series of useful social media marketing tools that help make marketing communication more effective and efficient.

Taken at Brgy. Madadamian, Echague, Isabela. Image by Ferdz Decena of Ironwulf En Route.
After three years of studying, I filed a Leave of Absence to try my luck outside the country as a Visual Merchandiser. However, the unexpected happened. Things are not always what they seem. My dream did not turn out as planned. My documents expired. In other words, I was not able to leave the country. But that did not stop me from doing better. I looked for alternative sources of income. I worked as a Marketing Officer in a leading Korean salon in the Philippines, entered a freelance career as a Content Writer, Marketing Researcher and pursued my hobby as a Travel Blogger.

Luli Island is one of the islands in Honda Bay Tour in Palawan.
As a travel blogger, I have been to places I had never imagined visiting. I got the chance to board the iconic vinta of Zamboanga City. To discover the previously unexplored collection of majestic waterfalls in Isabela. To experience the white-powdered sands and sparkling blue waters of the World's Best Beach in Palawan. To enjoy the colonial culture of Cebu City, Vigan City, and Taal, Batangas. To be sent on an all-in-expenses-paid trip to the land of Kiwi: New Zealand, after my short essay was awarded a top prize. Traveling opens my mind--indeed our minds--to previously unknown possibilities and creates our paths to certainties.

The afternoon sky is partly cloudy, white patch blanket of clouds with thick blue sensations that mirror the colors of the sea. Taken at Malabrigo Pebble Beach.
Taken at the Monastery of Holy Eucharist, also known as Simala Church in Sibonga, Cebu.
The air is so cold yet the leaves of the tree are on fire. Taken at Auckland Domain in Auckland, New Zealand. Image by Andrew Russel Villena.
A year later, I returned to studying, striving to finish the work I had started. And now, I am in my last year of college, pursuing my passion for discovery and for traveling throughout more of the Philippines and beyond. I have learned photography, writing and the desire to see more of what the world has to offer. Life never stops teaching, and so I never stop learning. Through all these, I have realized that you find meaning in doing what makes you happy, in relishing what gives you joy, and in discovering what makes you whole.