28 March 2011

Bangera Inn

Bangera's facade.

Finding a place to stay in Puerto Galera is not easy for a first-timer (technically, a second-timer, on her first time to choose accommodations). Most spots are downright cheesy-- that Twilight Zone spot between purely rustic, "native" accommodations, and some more modern and "forward" places.

Such "horror hotels" serve chop suey, look like Goldilocks icing, afford TVs but not toilet bowls seats, and poor ventilation. That's what happens when Filipinos do a scuttle towards what they perceive to be "classy" accommodations, sacrificing the simple essentials. Many a breakfast have I spent staring at my "continental breakfast"-- often a relatively sweet mayo sandwich on white bread, with 3-in-1 coffee on the side. Hey! Give me fruit, give me local pot-simmered coffee, give me calamansi juice, give my boyfriend (the meat eater) smoked fish or something. Costs the same (or less), tastes better.

I don't know what they serve at Bangera Inn, but this unassuming, surprising spot away from the White Beach chaos is the perfect place to have some peace while enjoying the inner island walks that Puerto Galera offers.

The staircase, with low steps and ample natural night.

There are colonial elements all over the inn, with a lot of old wood, wrought iron, and sampaguita glass. Machuca tiles, cement fashioned to look like old plaster-- all the cozy elements that make you remember your lola and hot cacao.

The lobby, with simple wooden furniture.

The rooms are spacious, clean, and inexpensive-- I believe we spent 1500 pesos a night between 6 people (including an extra double mattress and breakfast). There are some cheesy elements, such as the bedsheets (your standard China cotton prints), but the proportions of the room were just right. Bad stuff is negligible.

Spacious rooms with cheesy bedsheets.

The bedroom floors are Vigan clay tiles, a nice touch.
The bathrooms, though using SM-type faux-clay tiles and similarly-styled bath curtains, are very clean, with hot water. The toilets are of good quality and new (that is worth mentioning, as we skipped several places due to deplorable toilet situations). I can rock bad bathrooms, but not when they're overpriced.

Clean bathrooms are an instant win on islands.

A big plus to Bangera is its roof deck, a charming windy area from which you can view the whole island. It's nice to climb up at dawn and see the people beginning to stir and move around. (There is also an empty lot across which could easily house a small edible garden). The staff is also fantastic. They will look after you even if you are the type to stumble in after a blur of a night:

Bangera Inn
White Beach (Behind Dreamwaves Resort)
Puerto Galera, Mindoro
Mobile (+63926) 706 4051
Manila Number (+632) 822 1192

20 March 2011

Religion in the Octagon House

Top-view of belen... on a plate.

The Octagon House is a beautiful old octagon-shaped house in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is lived-in. If there is anything I like more than plain old houses, it is old houses that are lived-in. Their stories continue, and they continue to have good, livable ventilation.

The octagon house from the outside.

The house was built by a local, Constancio Duque, in 1939. He was inspired by his stay in the Chicago, where houses were going beyond the boxy styles and into a so-called "bubble" style. Before being known as the Octagon House, it was called the idiay nagbukel or "round house".

Inside there is the typical assortment of Filipino Catholic paraphernalia.

Belen, frontal view.

Altar and Constancio's wedding photo.

Very large and unsettling figures.

Handpainted reproduction of that famous mother and child poster, by the owner of the home.

04 March 2011

Plant Shop Hut

Glamour shot, "Cookie".

Roadside plant shops are a great way to populate otherwise unsafe, drab empty areas. I hung out briefly in a plant shop's hut (of the pre-assembled, ready-to-use variety). Plant vendors are generally friendly people, and I am interested in how they pass the time waiting for sporadic customers, most of them passing by while driving home from elsewhere. Inside:

Photo of lover, pair of scissors, plastic bag, under anahaw leaves.

Walis tingting, woodfire pots, empty plate.

02 March 2011


A sack of rice on the head.

I often think about a parallel universe where, by some twist of fate, carrying stuff on the head gained more popularity than carrying stuff off the shoulders. Carrying stuff on your head does, after all, allow you to bring around 20% of your body weight around without increasing energy consumption.

A woman carrying some stones in a basket on her head.

How would our modern bags look? Would we be reaching above our heads for our wallets, not doing the whole cumbersome backpack maneuver? Would the cliche silhouette of the mountainclimber resemble like The Head?

Rootcrops up the mountain, on her head.

A bunch of grasses, on a banana leaf to prevent itchiness, on her head.

Upland pottery with a woman with, well, stuff on her head.

An empty "head basket", containing a pine needle cushion for the top of the head.

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