Tag: History of the Philippines

The Philippines

The Philippines - Michelle Alcaraz Dunlop
The Philippines – Michelle Alcaraz Dunlop

So this is a pretty crazy story, and a cool one, and one that is pretty amazing. So, as you know Michelle and I are husband and wife, and Michelle is 100 percent Filipina. She was born and raised in the Cavite area in the Philippines. Michelle and I dated for about three years all via Viber and Skype, with some emails smattered in there. When we first started talking Michelle was living in Brunei where she was working in a department store I swear I was in, but in the mid 90’s when I was in Brunei with the Canadian Navy. I have always said it’s a small world, and I seem to prove it time and time again.

Southeast Asia

I have had the honor of living in a few different countries in Southeast Asia. I have been on Sibu Island Malaysia managing a dive center at a resort called the Cabanas. I also spent time in Johor Buru, which I remember fondly. Then a couple of weeks in Kuala Lumper, which was fantastic!! I then spent time living in Pattaya, Thailand, and to this point it was one of the most favorite stays. For no other reason  then the fantastic people I met there and I am contact with to this day! Then I did two stints in Sihanoukville in Cambodia managing two different dive centers, and Cambodia always felt like home to me.

But then, Michelle and Bacolod City came into my life, and things have not been the same ever since.   There are no words that come to mind to describe Michelle. When I say she is beautiful, it’s a strong word, but when

The Philippines - Bamboo in Patag Silay
The Philippines – Bamboo in Patag Silay

you see Michelle flash that smile of hers when she laughs at something silly I have done, beautiful is certainly not strong enough. Elegant, she is very much that for sure, she has this air of proper around her when she is out in the public. Though I know the Michelle at home, when she lets her hair down so to speak and starts teasing and laughing and joking around.

Bacolod City is unique unto it’s own. It is affectionately known as the city of smiles, and when I first was there I would have said I did not see it, but then I was only there for a couple of weeks, and it would not be fair of me to judge that sort of thing. But now, after living there for 6 months solid, the people I have met in Bacolod City are easily the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever met, and I have been in 250 different cities around the world, so I have some experience to draw upon.

People are very honest as well. I once paid a tricycle driver 1000 pesos, for a 100 peso ride, an honest accident, and I certainly didn’t notice the mistake I had made when I paid the driver, but he quickly showed me I was making a mistake and went on his way. Standing in SM mall and I dropped a 300 peso phone card out of my pocket, and a gentleman picked it up for me and hand it to me, saying I had dropped it.   I think if there was one thing I learned about Filipinos it is that they are a very hard working, honest, god fearing, strong, determined people, who no matter what is happening they try to find the happy things in everything. I spent a day at Mambukal with a group of Michelle’s work peers, and they did nothing other then laugh and have a good time. No one was trying to be better or out do anyone else. It was genuinely a fun day. I spoke to a woman who was there tonight, and we were talking about how much Michelle and I love one another, and our conversation turned to the day out together, and she said everyone was concerned I would feel left out because I don’t understand their language, and I said, I was honored to be included, and I loved trying to follow what was being said. I have never felt so included in an event with a group of people in my life.

Rice Fields in the Mountains
The Philippines – Rice Fields in the Mountains

I am sitting in a hotel this evening in Manila, waiting for my flight back to Canada, and I feel lost. I have all my life gone places, and after so long had to leave, and I have been despondent and quiet about leaving for the next chapter in my life. Tonight however, I feel lost like I have never felt before. There are a couple of big reasons for this, and the main one, is that I have had to leave Michelle in Bacolod City, to wait for her Permanent Residence application to be processed, which is widely known to take 17 months. During that time, I maybe allowed to try to get Michelle a tourist visa so we can be together, but that is only if she qualifies. To qualify, I have had it explained to me that she needs to prove that she has ties to the Philippines. Her being a citizen of the Philippines does not count. Her having children does not county. Her having a job does not count, unless she is the owner of the business. The things my country wants, is proof of ownership of land, business or a home, plus 4000 Canadian, or 144,000 pesos in the bank. The fact her husband is a Canadian, is actually a hindrance, and we were actually directed by one Immigration Consultant to lie about our relationship.

Here is the strength of a Filipina, Michelle said, she loves me, she will wait no matter how long it takes, because she loves me. She then through both of our tears said, think about how soon we will be together again.

The Philippines

This country has so much beauty to share with you. Whether you are an Ocean person, scuba diver, photographer, explorer there is so much that is beautiful for you to see and do.   A word to the wise though, I have heard it said that the Philippines is pretty cheap to visit and live, and I am afraid I would have to disagree. Rent is certainly cheap. The cost of our apartment is about $155.00 Canadian and Electricity, water and our internet this month totaled about 1500 pesos, or $40 Canadian.   However, shopping for food is close to the same amount. Need clothes, and you shop at SM, it is as expensive if not more so. I had to scan some documents the other day, and I was told 20 pesos a page which is about $0.80 cents, and when you say 40 pages, that is pricy. You really need to pay attention to costs otherwise it will surprise you.

The Land of the SPA

I have never seen so many different Massage, SPA kinds of businesses in my life. Michelle works at Spa Natura

The Philippines - Spa Natura at Mambukal
The Philippines – Spa Natura at Mambukal

and The Blade as well, and both places are so professional and give a fantastic service to the public. Spa Natura has figured out that service plus ambiance will give the customer that dreamy experience. The layout and decor is beautiful there. The therapists are professional and give a fantastic service.

Vacation Time

I know the first thing Canadian’s thing when it’s January and you want to head to the fun and sun, you say Mexico. What!! Mexico…it’s like a warm Canada or United States. Seriously even if you only have 7 days, go to the Philippines. It is so worth it. The People are fantastic! Scenery puts Mexico to shame, and the dollar is still pretty strong even though, I said the Philippines is not as cheap to live in as people let on….visiting for a vacation is not all that bad, and there is so much to see and do, with beautiful fun people!!

Keep good thoughts for Michelle and I, as we tackle CIC in Canadian, hopefully my government will allow me to spend time with my lovely wife. Mommy please can I have a friend over!!!

Patag Silay

Patag Silay
Patag Silay

Michelle and I went to Patag Silay back in early April to go for some awesome hikes looking for some Waterfalls that are in the area and at the same time we got an interesting history lesson.  Patag Silay is very easy to get to from Bacolod City.  Take a Bata Jeepney to the North terminal a mere 50 pesos per person will get you to Silay, and then an additional 50 pesos per person will get you all the way up the mountain to Patag Silay.  We took a bus out of Silay, and we were loaded to the hilt.  People on the roof, and little wooden stools in bus so you could sit in the aisle and people loaded in doorways and hanging off the ladders.  The trip to the top of the mountain took about 1.5 hours as we stop at every little place and town on the way, but it was a cool trip.  The rice paddies are so beautiful.

Patag Silay, Silay City

Silay or City of Silay is a third class city in the province of Negros Occidental with a population os approximately 120,000 people and is a part of what is known as Metro Bacolod.  Metro Bacolod is made up of Silay, Bacolod City and Talisay.  Silay is often referred to as the “Paris of Negros” due to its artists, cultural shows and large collection of perfectly preserved heritage houses.  More than thirty of these houses have been declared as historical landmarks.  Silay is the second Philippine city to have been declared a museum city next to Vigan in Ilocos Sur.

History of Patag Silay

World War II

On the slopes of Mt. Silay lies Patag Silay, the site of the Japanese military’s last stand in Western Visayas

Bamboo in Patag Silay
Bamboo in Patag Silay

during World War II.  In 1945, US military forces landed in Negros Island. The occupying forces of Nagano Detachment of the Imperial Japanese Army retreated to Silay and proceeded up Mt Silay to Patag.  There, they established a defensive position.  Military forces of the Philippine Commonwealth and soldiers of the US 40th Infantry Division proceeded up the slopes of Mt. Silay with help from Filipino soldiers of the 7th, 71st, 72nd, and 75th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and Negrosanon guerrilla fighters and defeated the Japanese defenders.  Today, the site is marked by and monument dedicated to the efforts which led to the liberation of Negros Island.

Michelle and I did a couple of big hikes in the area in order to see some of the amazing waterfalls we have heard about.  Our first trip to the valley floor from Patag Silay had us following this trail that took us right past two caves carved in the side of the mountain by the Japanese during the war.  We were upon them before we even saw them.  If this was during the war we would have already died in an ambush.  Me with my military background of course really interested in this sort of thing.  I made a mental note to watch for them on the way back up, and I actually walked right past them and did not even see them.  I can only image what the US 40th Infantry Division endured during the war.

The trip to the first waterfalls was only about 30 minutes, and it was a beautiful falls to see, though the lighting was not in favor for decent pictures, it was still well worth the trip.  The area was pretty interesting there was cool mountain air, with the heat and humidity of the area mixed in.

Our trip to the second waterfalls was a 90 minute to 2 hour trip in then the same to make it out.  This trip is not

Patag Silay Waterfalls
Patag Silay Waterfalls

for the faint of heart that is for sure.  We hired a guide which is something I would not have normally wanted to do, but in this case there is no way we have made it where we were headed and back again I know this for sure.  The trail is not what we are used to back home, it was rough, rocky and narrow with little room for a mistake.  The mistake would have been a fall to the valley floor that would have certainly ruined our day for sure.

As we approached the second falls we could tell it was going to be spectacular.  We could hear the water cascading over the ledge and slamming to the bottom of the valley.  There were areas where we had to walk in the river, so be sure to know how you want to travel.  Michelle took her shoes off, where I kept mine on to protect my feet.  You need to realize we were in some pretty dense jungle for sure.  This was a long trip, I was hot sweaty and pretty spent by the time we reached the falls.  I think me anyways was pretty close to Heat Exhaustion, we were out of liquids and we had just made it half way for the second trekk.

If you find yourself in the area, a trip to Silay City, or Patag Silay is well worth your time.

The Ruins – Talisay

The Ruins - Talisay
The Ruins – Talisay

RunAway Prop had the opportunity to spend last Monday afternoon and early evening at The Ruins – Talisay, and what a fantastic time we had there.  I must say, it was such a relaxing atmosphere there, and I found it so enjoyable.

Some history about The Ruins – Talisay, ” The wealthy sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson built the mansion in 1900’s for Maria Braga, his portuguese wife.  He made sure the mansion was furnished with imported luxurious items.  The Mansion’s structure resembles that of the Italian architecture with neoclassical columns.  The facades of the mansion is comparable to the ones in Carnegie Hall. The belvedere facing west enables one to view the beautiful sunset through the bay window.  The garden of the mansion was tended by Don Mariano’s daughter Angelina.  Imported lilies filled the garden and around the fountain.  A Japanese gardner was hired to maintain the gardens until he disappeared just before the war.  It was found out later on that the gardner they hired was an informant to the Japanese Military.  When World War 2 broke out, the guerrillas burned down the mansion to prevent the Japanese from occupying the area.  The mansion burned down leaving behind the concrete structure that still stands to this day.  There is no current plans of getting the ruins restored back to its glorious

THe Gardens at The Ruins
THe Gardens at The Ruins


The Ruins – Talisay is easy to get to, if you take the Bata Jeepney from downtown Bacolod, and get off in Bata, there is a Bike waiting to take you out to The Ruins – Talisay.  Cost to enter is PhP 95.00, and there is a restaurant there for you to have something to eat.  I would recommend going later in the day so you can enjoy the beauty of the area in the early evening as the lights are turned on and the the skies slowly darken!!  Great time!!



Jose Rizal

José Rizal
José Rizal

I had the privilege to spend a week in Manila the end of November, with a person from Cavite, and they were nice enough to accompany me on some sight seeing journeys.  The time was well spent, I was able to visit Fort Santiago, and Rizal Park.  This afforded me the chance to learn some of the history of the Philippines which I have found very enjoyable.  Specifically I learned some things about Jose Rizal.  I always kind of prided myself as a Canadian, we learned many things in High School History class about the various other countries and not just our own, but I have not had any schooling on the history of the Philippines.  Since I plan on trying to stay here for an extended stay, I think it would be valuable to learn more about the country where I will be staying.

Jose Rizal by all accounts died a martyr for his country, condemned to die at the hands of a
Spanish Firing Squad, for events he had nothing to do with.  I had the opportunity to walk through the Park named after Jose Rizal and to spend time at the memorial for him, but it

Fort .... Museum
Fort Santiago Museum

did not really all come home to me until I visited Fort Santiago and the museum that is there explaining his life story.  I found this a very moving visit, and I was able to read about his life and the way it ended.  If you are in Manila, and have an opportunity to visit the Park and Fort Santiago, be sure to do so.  I would give yourself and good 4 hours or more so you are not rushed, and you are able to take a read of the various placards that are devoted to Jose Rizal.

For more information you can visit this website, Jose Rizal Biography.