Dampa Lunching


I went with family to Seaside dampa on Macapagal Avenue to celebrate a niece’s birthday. Not exactly a new Filipino cultural phenomenon, dampa paluto is still attracting waves of customers. Dampa translates to shack or kubo, so the whole experience is straightforward, nothing fancy, and is more authentic when you eat with your hands, like most Filipinos do.

Though we’d do something like buy seafood and look for someone who could cook the purchase for us here in Ilocos, it was my first time to experience going to a big dampa in Manila. I envisioned more seafood like clams, bamboo shells and scallops, so it was a bit of dismay to find a sea of squid and prawns.

Seaside Seafood MarketDampa Seafood MarketRock LobstersRock Lobster

Spotted some rock lobsters and crabs, but those can be really expensive as compared to prices in the province. Dampa prices run cheaper, though, than most restaurants in the metro.

GreensFruitySeaside Dampa

My sister-in-law had it all figured out. We proceeded to G Squared Palutuan (among the rows of restaurants) after buying the important ingredients. We were seated among big groups of locals and balikbayans. Plastic gloves (the kind you see in hair color treatment kits) accompany crab and prawn dishes. It’s amusing that people tend to be so quiet when crustaceans are right in front of them.

G Squared PalutuanDampa SeafoodAmong the food on our table: buttered crabs, tempura, buttered shrimps, baked mussels. DampaSeaside DampaCold Stone CreamerySeaside dampa is close to MOA, so we stopped by Cold Stone Creamery.

Photographed by BlauEarth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

Getting to know the gold in Cagayan de Oro

Downtown Cagayan de Oro City

“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.”-Rich Ridgeway


My trip to Cagayan de Oro in the central coast of Northern Mindanao has opened my eyes to more realities about life in the Philippines. I only knew the Mindanao region through little journeys along General Santos, Davao, the Samal Island, and the news.

One person, Canadian globetrotter, Kyle Jennermann nicknamed Kulas, who has been lingering in the country for three months now and who I’ve met in Cagayan de Oro, has beautiful stories about us Filipinos. I realize, he says it best that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines.

Fun is in the eager eyes and unstudied smiles radiating from the hearts of the ordinary people.

Cagayan de Oro is predominantly a Christian city. Augustinian friars arrived in 1622, leaving a trail of Spanish influence. The massive St. Augustine Cathedral, one among the oldest cathedrals in Mindanao, destroyed in 1945 during the American liberation of Cagayan de Oro, was rebuilt in Gothic style.

Chronicling significant events during the American colonial period, the General MacArthur Marker in Macabalan and the Macahambus Cave “Battle of Macahambus Hill” marker reckon Cagayan de Oro’s past.

A visit to the vintage summer house of statesman and dedicated public servant Emmanuel Pelaez hints at the beginnings of the cityhood of Cagayan de Oro.

Pelaez GroundsPEGAOrientalDowntown Cagayan de Oroglass windowMermaidA view from Macabalan Wharf, Cagayan de OroThe Surviving Krispy KremeMacabalan Wharf

The Museum of Three Cultures inside the Capitol University, established by educator, heritage conservation advocate Laureana San Pedro Rosales, is an exposure to the Muslim, Christian and Lumad cultures of the Mindanaoan region. Representations of the past, artistry and finery from T’boli, Bagobo, Higaonon, Manobo and other indigenous peoples fascinate

KulintangHandomananVote Buying

Social and political messages turned into art let the Filipino rethink of the widespread everyday issues such as vote selling, poor governance and privation.

Pilipinas Street PlanUkay ArtBotelyaCagayan de Oro native sweets and sinuglaw

I had a fling with local sinuglaw, a kind of fish ceviche and grilled pork belly concoction, flavored with indigenous tabon-tabon (kaffir lime fruit). Bitter undertones tease while savoring the appetizing fresh ocean smell and sweetness of the intoxicated morsels.

Kakanin, especially the latik-filled suman and corn tamales, were very nice! Also the sweet native pineapples! I also had an awesome discovery — Cagayan de Oro is the home of the best mango dessert I’ve ever had! Will have to write about it soon.

PlateColor and GlowTricycadLokalLi'l cave guidesMacahambus CaveMixed PatternsRidgeCagayan de Oro Rafting AdventureCDO Water Rafting

Introduced in 1995 by a small group of hardcore adventurers, the banner adventure product of Cagayan de Oro is rafting the raging rapids of the Cagayan de Oro River (to be posted in a separate story).

We arrived at a most trying time for booming CDO’s main attraction, at the time when a tourist went missing in the tricky river. We got to meet the city mayor, Oscar Moreno, who incidentally is married to an Ilocana from Dingras. He gave a fair straightforward picture of the tourism status of CDO.

In those days in Cagayan de Oro, I saw the very strong character of the Kagay-anons. Confronting reality and bending like a bamboo through Sendong-like misadventures is deep-rooted.

CDO Mayor Oscar Moreno#beingcagayanon

We can be harsh to ourselves sometimes, but here’s Kulas trying to become a Filipino, sharing the Filipino smile to the whole world.

Photographed by Lis, Jan, Carlo and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Tabako ni Ilocano

Ilocos Tobacco

Ilocos’s history is filled with tobacco smoke. For one century, Ilocano farmers planted only tobacco.

Post-Tobacco Monopoly, a big part of the growth of the region comes from tobacco. It has sent many children to school. It has built better roads. We have to admit it as a fact that tobacco growing is part of the Ilocano cultural heritage.

Ilocos TobaccoIlocos TobaccoPugon ti TabakoThe pugon.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014