Kampong Glam (Singapore)

When I started traveling, I have always thought that it is one of the best ways of enlightening one’s self about various cultures. I believe that the world we live in is beautiful that is why I am always fascinated with what it offers. I like the idea of trying different food, meet different people, experience different adventures and that hint of curiosity about differences among cultures led me to accept, respect and appreciate others.


There is this one particular district in Singapore, called Kampong Glam that made my wandering soul really happy. Kampong Glam is regarded as the traditional heart of Singaporean Muslim life (because if one traces back its history, the area has enticed and united Muslims of different ethnicity). The name Kampong Glam comes from the Malay word kampong meaning “village,” and gelam, the term for cajeput tree that once grew abundantly in the area.

Walking along the streets within the district, one would notice the distinct Arab impact as streets are named after famed cities in the Middle East like Basra, Bussorah, Kandahar, and Muscat. The numerous shops around the area are reflective of the Muslim cultures that have found a home in Singapore.


So here is a glimpse of Kampong Glam – a pulsating melting pot of opulent history, architecture, cuisine, religion, fashion and shopping.

Sultan Mosque: Perhaps the most iconic structure in Kampong Glam and is the biggest mosque in Singapore. With its impressively gigantic golden dome, ivory-hued exterior and a splendid central prayer room, any visitor will be left in awe upon seeing this structure. The mosque is open from 09:00 – 13:00 and 14:00 – 16:00 daily.

Haji Lane: Another favorite of mine is this vibrant narrow path called Haji Lane. One would be overjoyed to walk along this street because of 2 main reasons. One, for its eccentric yet attractive assortment of boutique shops, café and restaurants;, and two, for the stunning street art/ murals found in the area.

Malay Heritage Centre: Located next to the Sultan Mosque, this old colonial-style building houses the various galleries. Each gallery depicts Singapore’s history, aspirations, and role in its nation-building development. The museum is open from Mon 13:00–18:00, Tue – Sun 10:00-18:00.

Arab Street: This Street lined with quaint and polychromatic shops, and restaurants is a feast for the eyes. I like the fact that a certain portion of the road in close proximity to Sultan Mosque is off limits to cars every day. This adds up to that relaxed and amiable atmosphere. Those who is looking for Halal food, this is the best area to dine.

Malabar Muslim Jama-Ath Mosque: A mosque with a modern touch with its dazzling green and blue tiles, is an exquisite bit of architecture and yet another musts see in Singapore. The mosque is located at the junction of Victoria Street and Jalan Sultan in the Kampong Glam district.

These are just some of the many wonders in Kampong Glam. So if you have the opportunity to visit the Lion City, walk around this area and you will be surprised as to how enriching the experience would be.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri”Juan”.

Luna’s Bahay na Bato (La Union, PH)

At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.” – Warsan Shire

Through the years, I have developed this special interest over art galleries of different kinds. What has lured me the most are those that showcases wood and stone craftsmanship. So when my nomadic feet led me to my mom’s home province, I decided to check out myself this house made of stones in the seaside town of Luna in La Union.


The town of Luna is famed for the abundant supplies of pebble stones that come in different shapes and sizes (and even color). The locals have made a livelihood out of these stones by hand-picking and classifying them before they are sold. So, it isn’t much a surprise to see houses made of these natural resources. One particular house that has attracted both locals and visitors is “Bahay na Bato”.

I have heard (and seen photos) of this house during my years of teaching way back in Baguio. This house was built as a family rest house. I later learned that it is actually a property of one of my student’s family. Because of the undeniable and superb art works the house showcases, the mayor of Luna saw the likelihood of this property as a tourism attraction drawer. The mayor was able to convince the owner and now, the house turned art gallery, I open for public visit.


“Bahay na Bato” as it is simply called, displays a magnum opus of various stone carvings by Mr.  Von Kim (a Korean national), who was tasked to create the numerous art pieces inside and outside the Bahay na Bato grounds. Aside from the carved stones, one would also be mesmerized by the various wooden crafts. I also like the fact that there are trees within the premises.

The house per se is a 2-storey construction with which the ground floor has 2 private rooms. The flooring is made of palm-sized pebble stones – such a delight to the eyes. The first floor also serve as a reception area where a mini-store is also put up. The 2nd floor have different display items like lamps, kitchen utensils, and more wood art pieces. The thing I like the most is that it has a stunning panoramic view of beach.

Outside the house, more carved stone and wood artifacts can be seen – from animal formed stones to some naughty carvings that will make you grin. I also saw a set of clay pot display. And by the way, there is also a small pool near the lawn area.


How to Reach Bahay na Bato:

Ride a bus bound for Vigabn, Abra or Laoag. Inform the driver that you be dropped off the town of Balaoan. Bus stop is usually infornt of the Balaoan church. Walk your way to a 711 store that is near the Balaoan municipal hall. There are tricycle bound for Luna. Fare is Php10/person. Once in Luna, take another tricycle ride to Brgy. Nalvo Norte. Just tell the driver you are going to Bahay na Bato. Fare is also Php10.00. If you are coming from San Fernando in La Union, there are direct jeepneys from San Fernando City to Luna.

“Bahay na Bato” collects P20 entrance fee for adults, while kids below four years old are admitted for free. It is open from 6am to 8pm daily. It is located in Brgy. Nalvo Norte, Luna, La Union.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Silay City (Negros Occidental, PH)

“Identity was partly heritage, partly upbringing, but mostly the choices you make in life.” — Patricia Briggs, Cry Wolf

I personally have a soft spot for old, Spanish-inspired, grand houses. That is why I so adore Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. Little did I know that another city in the Philippines is home to impeccably well-kept-up heritage houses.


My visit to Bacolod in the province of Negros Occidental gave me an opportunity to check out one of its neighboring city, SILAY. Some people gave the monicker “Paris of Negros” to this picturesque city because of its vident love for culture and history. According to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), there are around 30 well-preserved ancestral houses (3 of which are open to public) in the city.

So when you find yourself at this side of the Philippines, make your way to this city and saunter around. Some of the most notable establishments to visit include the following:


Balay (Balai) Negrense: Perhaps the most iconic heritage house in the city. It is now a museum showcasing the way of life of a sugar baron (Victor Gaston) during the late 19th century. (FYI: Negros is one of the sugarcane producing provinces of the country). The mansion-like, 2-floor home, has 12 bedrooms. What makes this house extraordinary are the intricate specifics engraved in the windows and ventilation panel. It also boasts off an expansive garden.

Hofilena Heritage House. Just 2 blocks away from Balay Negrense is the earliest familial house in the city opened public viewing. This inhabited home was mounted with a historical marker as “national treasure for the present and future generations” by the NHCP.


Bernardino Ysabel Jalandoni Museum. Found along the national road is a pink-painted establishment. Hence, this museum is also called the Pink House. It features a large collection of books, antique furniture and glasswares, and even dolls.

Note that these heritage houses/museums are open from Tuesdays to Sundays and closed on Mondays and holidays.


If you are looking for a place to eat in the city, a must place to go is El Ideal. Considered the oldest bakeshop in the city, El Ideal is an olden place that is entirely functional for it remains to offer sumptuous goodies and other local delicacies. One of the must try is their Guapple Pie.


San Diego Pro-cathedral. Another place worth visiting is the city’s center of Catholic faith. It is known to be the only church with a dome in the entire Negros Occidental. Also, it is the only pro-cathedral in the Philippines outside Metro Manila. A pro-cathedral is a parish church that is temporarily serving as the cathedral or co-cathedral of a diocese, or has the same function in a Catholic missionary jurisdiction that is not yet entitled to a proper cathedral, such as an apostolic prefecture or apostolic administration.


How to Get to Silay City:

From Manila, there are daily flights to Bacolod where you’ll arrive at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, located exactly in Silay City. One can either ride a van or tricycle from the airport to the city center.

The best way to explore the city is by walking around.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

More of Mesmerizing Negros here.

Tam-awan Village (Baguio City, PH)

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle


Baguio City is one place that showcases the distinctive blend of the Cordillera’s artistic and superb craftsmanship. This can be observed in some of the city’s parks and museums. One particular museum that shows such culture of artistry is Tam-awan Village.


Tam-awan in the local phrase means “vantage point,” a fitting name for an outpost of Cordillera houses built on a hillside that allows guests a splendid sight of the West Philippine Sea on a clear day. Tam-awan Village lets any visitor to take on an enriching journey with a tad of exploration on the side.


This artists village is also known as Garden in the Sky as it literally feels like you’re with or above the sky due to its location. Moreover, clouds (and fog) may hover the area any time of the day. For the past years, it has become a major attraction outside the city proper of Baguio.


Tam-awan Village also serves as a venue for art exhibits and workshops that portrays the legacy of the Cordillera and its people. Today, the village houses Ifugao huts and two Kalinga houses. An Ifugao house is characterized to be compact and simple, while a Kalinga house is more spacious. These huts are named after the areas where they come from.  From Ifugao, we have the Bangaan Hut, Anaba Hut, Batad Hut, Dukligan Hut, Kinakin Hut, and Nagor Hut.  On the other hand, the Kalinga huts are from Luccong and Bugnay. It i interesting to note that people who intend to stay in the village, may sleep in these huts.


So what else can one do inside the village besides experiencing an authentic Cordillera house? Well you can try the food offerings of their cafe. One may also consider it as a venue for seminars or conferences. An eco-walk will allow you to see some indigenous flora and fauna; and later on wait for the sun as it sets from the West Philippine Sea. Being an abode to various artists, it would be great to attend workshops on bamboo and wood carving, printmaking, rice wine making and of course, basic and advance drawing.


Those who intend to stay for a night or two, here are the rates: (Note: Prices may be subject to change without prior notice).

Lodging (per day): Beddings and towels are provided. However, toiletries should be provided by lodgers.

• 1 Person P 500.00
• 2 Persons P 1,000.00
• Additional Person P 300.00 each
• Group(10 Pax or more) P 350.00 each


Use of Facilities or Venue:

• Picnic Fee (9am to 6pm) P 200.00 / group of 10 (Entrance excluded)
• Additional Person P 20.00
• Function Fee P 8,000.00 per day (max. of 40 person)
• Cultural Show P 5,000.00 (should be booked)

*Only paper & pencil will be provided. Participants shall provide other materials like watercolor, oil, acrylic, canvas, charcoal pencil, t-shirts etc.

• P 450.00 per person per module. Choose from the following:

(Basic/Advanced Drawing, Solar Drawing, Oil Pastel, Water Color, Wood Carving, Bamboo Craft, Dreamcatcher making, Life Drawing/Portraiture)


Address: 366-C Pinsao Proper 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Telephone: +(63 74)446-2949
Mobile Number: +(63 921) 588-3131, +(63 915) 948-8773
Website: http://www.tam-awanvillage.com/

Entrance Fees: Children (P20), Student (P30), and Adult (P50)


How to Get To Tam-awan Village:

By taxi: Just inform the drivers to take you to Tam-awan Village, Pinsao Proper. All cab drivers in the city know this place..

By jeepney : Make your way to Kayang Street, behind and above the Baguio City Market. Ride a Plaza-Quezon Hill-Tam-awan jeepney or the Long-long via Tam-awan Jeepney and ask the driver to drop you off infront of Tam-awan’s entrance.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Art in Island: Largest 3D Museum in Asia

Are you an art-slash-photography aficionado who likes to put into test some of your hidden theatrical skills?  Then, this Interactive 3D Art Museum is a perfect place for you. For a price of P500, the museum can take you to Rome to Egypt, ride a flying carpet or a horse-drawn carriage, and up-close encounter with Vincent Van Gogh and more!IMG_20150503_153335

Art in Island is said to be the largest 3D museum in Asia in terms of the number of 3D paintings available (around 200 masterpieces). It was founded by Yun Jae Kyoung together with his other Korean partners. This two-storey museum is about 3,800 square-meters, with 14 3D artists from Korea who worked on the paintings in just four months.

The museum encourages everyone to be a “part of art” hence the term interactive. Unlike many museums, where touching the paintings nor taking pictures of it is not allowed, Art in Island allows visitors to interact and have fun and be creative with the art pieces.IMG_20150503_153605

So, before we begin this virtual tour, here are some reminders/tips and other essential information about this very artistic hub.

  • Art in Island is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm.
  • Entrance fees: P500 for regular ticket; P400 for students; free for children below 3 years old.
  • No food or pets are allowed. Smoking is strictly prohibited inside the museum.
  • No flash photography. Use of tripods are not also allowed.
  • Upon entering, you will be asked to leave your shoes at the counter. This is to preserve the paintings because some can be found in the floor. Better wear socks or bring one.
  • There are markers that will guide you where to properly stand and take photos. There are also sample pictures displayed on the wall to give you an idea on how to properly pose.
  • Respect: Wait for your turn and do not interfere when there are people posing and taking pictures at a certain art.
  • BE CREATIVE! Think outside the box and display your artistic side.
  • Make sure your camera is fully charged with plenty of memory space.

Now What Will You See Inside Art is Island?

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Art of Optical Illusion: Upon entering, you will be greeted by a few framed optical illusion art hanging in the walls. Here are some of them:

Themed Zones: As you go further, you will find yourself be amazed with the different themed zones which include the following:

Aquatic/Marine Zone00012 021

Animal Zone12 122

Masterpiece Zone (where one gets to interact with the famous paintings around the world).21

A huge Central Hall (where one can explore the dungeons of the ancient times. This is my personal favourite).456IMG_20150503_1652150132

Religious Zone2134

Fantasy Zone748

Christmas Zone0000

Plus, the museum’s cafe – Cafe Minou – which is a sight to behold itself.0006

How To Get There:

Address: 175 15th Ave. Brgy. Socorro, Cubao, Quezon City

*** Art in Island is roughly a 15-minute walk from Araneta Center Cubao. When commuting, the nearest stops are MRT Cubao and the Cubao bus stops along EDSA..

Contact No.: (02) 421-1356

E-mail: artinisland@gmail.com

Website: www.facebook.com/artinisland