Uncategorized

Home Garden (Naga City)

I was just going through my picture files and saw these pictures of our home garden here in Naga City. Last year, there was a time when we were not particularly very busy, especially Mama Pat, who tended our home garden which used to look like this.DSC07699DSC07701

Our garden is mainly for food than for beautification purposes, although flowers were abundant especially during summer. Like these Rosas de Alas Dies as they call it here in Naga, but my Mama used to call it “Oro Alas Dose” in Sorsogon, so called because the flowers bloom in the morning but by noon, the flowers wither.DSC03951

This blue marnate vine literally covered the window of Mama Pat’s room. You can’t even tell this is a window. Anyway, this vine has been removed a few months ago because it was getting too big already. I miss the flowers, they are actually edible and can be found to adorn salad plates in some restaurants.DSC07703

In front of our house are bougainvilleas that also yield a lot of flowers in the summer and the blue flowering plant that I don’t know the name of.17190791_1619408251409407_5117129497669685115_n17265245_1619408431409389_1668838369552764419_n We also have a guava tree, cacao tree, moringga tree (malunggay) and rows of turmeric still rooted on the ground. Some plants we still have include culinary herbs like holy basil, mint and oregano. There are also aloe vera, okra, bitter gourd and eggplant.DSC07721DSC04946DSC07707

We are not as lucky growing the bitter gourd. They never seemed to grow just right, either they got eaten by insects or they ripened when still way too young so I don’t remember eating these. Although, that might be a good thing since they’re just way too bitter!   bitter gourd

And these string beans? They’re gone by now but we used to have them stir fried in soy sauce or with meat dishes like the Filipino favorite “Sinigang,” made with pork (or shrimp) with a savory and sour soup base.DSC07574

Our garden at home made me a believer that God’s blessings are truly abundant and within our reach. Because of this garden, we were able to save a lot of money since we didn’t need to buy our vegetables, we grew them (although most of the effort of course is due to Mama Pat). There was also something very special about harvesting food from the garden which always left me in awe. There was something really special about eating too knowing that there was no pesticide added and they were freshly picked. Last year, we were able to harvest this (below) almost every other day.DSC07814

Gardening truly brings joy to the heart and food to the stomach. I hope that this new year 2018, we will be able to bring our garden back to life, if our time and schedules will allow.

Thank you for reading!

 

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Hotels

Asia Novo Boutique Hotel (Sorsogon City)

Happy New Year Blogsville! I hope you all are happy and well this 2018.

I’m posting one of my hotel reviews now lest I forget the things I want to say about my stay at Asia Novo Boutique Hotel in Sorsogon City where we stayed last December 22.

Actually, we liked this hotel. The hotel is new so the room we stayed in, which was the Queen Deluxe or Queen Suite, was fresh and smelled fresh too (so important!). I like new hotels for a reason after having experienced staying at pitiful old establishments with old rooms that smelled of mold and mildew (yikes). NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 4

I especially liked that the sheets were white so you can see if it’s really clean or not. NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 1

This room we stayed in at Novo was also spacious and bright since there was ample lighting inside the room.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 5

Also, the cable TV was working well and the A/C was split type so it tends to get very cold.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 3NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 7

However, the room was not without its issues like wall paint coming off, less than immaculate bathroom, and that housekeeping forgot to provide us with bathroom tissue, bathroom door mat and trash bin (there was only one and it was inside the bathroom). Also, I noticed that the bathroom wall was wet and had map-like patches from within which I suspected was the result of heavy rains in Sorsogon and something like a glitch in building construction.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 8

On the upside, I like that their staff on the front desk were gracious and welcoming. I’m happy they let us check in early (around 1:00 PM) even though when I booked, it was indicated that check in time was 2:00 PM, but I like that they accommodated us so we were able to leave our bags inside the room before we went to my Mama’s house. However, I noticed they were not very keen about online booking since they did not confirm to travelbook.ph that I stayed at the hotel on the date of my booking so I was almost penalized because I was declared as a no-show (Wait, what?! Does this look like a no-show?). So, after a few exchange of emails with the said booking site with me sending them pictures as Exhibit A, B & C (so hard when the burden of truth is on me), I finally got myself acquitted from the charges and was declared innocent beyond reasonable doubt (I hope).

So, what’s more to like? The hotel has an elevator for the convenience of the guests. That’s my baby Julienne between the elevator door and the Christmas tree.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 13

Below is the view from the third floor where One Burgos Resto is just across the street. Their meals tasted great and were reasonably priced. We had our lunch there after we checked in at the hotel.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 11

The next morning, we just ordered coffee and Nissin Seafood instant cup noodles from the front desk and Yoy went out to buy delicious breads from Kambal Bakery nearby before we checked out.

Over all, I am happy with my stay at said hotel, especially that I got it for only Php681.00 (24 hours) through online booking at travelbook.ph using the Php300.00 discount promo they sent me as a member. Thank you for the discount!NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 12

 

 

 

Places

Celebrating Christmas (Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral)

Yesterday was Christmas Day and it was all about fun, love, food, lights, family, togetherness and the best gift ever- Jesus! We spent it in a simple way and we were happy with it as long as we spend it together.

We didn’t forget to go to church on Christmas Day. We went to Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral as we know San Francisco Church will be so full.NAGA CATHEDRAL 4NAGA CATHEDRAL 6

This is how it looks on the outside:NAGA CATHEDRAL 7NAGA CITY CATHEDRAL 1

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So when we got home, I greeted everyone on Facebook with a picture saying “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Someone asked me yesterday that if Jesus is the reason, then why did Santa Claus become the center of Christmas? And things like why do we even have a snowman decor when Jesus wasn’t even born during winter? And proceeded to say how it is a Western influenced fake tradition, etc. etc. He probably asked this because it is what he sees everywhere and I also don’t agree about how Christmas has been turned into a commercialized and secularized tradition that most people have lost the meaning of it. I mean, why do we really celebrate Christmas? We celebrate it because when Jesus Christ was born, we were SAVED from eternal damnation because no amount of good works can wash away all our sins to make us acceptable in the eyes of God. This is the reason why we rejoice and “give  love on Christmas Day.”

So, what if Jesus wasn’t exactly born on December 25? What if we like to eat, drink and be merry this season? Or what if we make our kids believe in Santa to get them to be nice? That doesn’t make us bad people. That doesn’t exactly put us in the same category as terrorists now, does it?  But to say that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas at all and calling people who celebrate it as gullible fools is overstepping the bounds. For the record, we do have free will. And we should all use it to however we see fit. You may not celebrate the season but really you cannot judge those who do. We should all be tolerant of each other’s differences because if we can’t be tolerant and respectful of other’s beliefs, we’d all be terrorists. And it’s not nice to call others gullible or fools just because their set of beliefs is different from your own. Remember, your truth is not the only truth. Who knows if what you know to be the truth is even the truth? Confucius said that “To know that you know what you know and that you do not know what you do not know. That is true wisdom.”

That said, I will continue to celebrate Christmas the way I want, and not the way other people think I should do it. Ho ho ho!

 

 

 

Places

Merry Christmas Sorsogon!

Merry Christmas one and all!

Christmas is only a couple of hours away and I’m sure lots of us are busy doing last minute Christmas shopping. I should know since I’m about to get ready to do some last minute for tonight’s Christmas dinner myself. Just some stuff we haven’t yet bought, like cake maybe.

Anyway, I just got back from visiting my folks in Sorsogon City. As usual, it was too short of a visit. We only stayed overnight, so we haven’t had a chance to even see a lot of places  or meet with friends. I noticed there were a lot of new establishments though – like the Gaisano Mall for instance. We haven’t even been to Gaisano. All we did was go to and fro to buy stuff for my folks’ Christmas dinner, catch up with them and then catch up on some sleep ‘coz so dead tired. And it was always, always raining!

On the night of our stay in Sorsogon, however, we braved the rain and our soaked feet and went to the park infront of Sorsogon Capitol Building. Just because I was intrigued when I momentarily caught a glimpse of the bright lights on our way to Asia Novo Boutique Hotel.

Drop lights adorned the trees while there was a long line of bright colored yellow trees lighting up the whole park inspite of the rain.sorsosogn city christmas 2017 2sorsosogn city christmas 4

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Below is the very bright and all lit up Sorsogon Capitol Building. We just stood there as we watched the whole building change colors. sorsosogn city christmas 5Picture5

We had the park all to ourselves because nobody else was there save from three little boys who stripped buck naked and used their little butts to slide on the wet tiled surface of the elevated stage we stood on. So slippery ,and “Weeeeeeee!” they all went gleefully sliding on their butts while we were beside ourselves laughing. They didn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people thought, they were happy.  Picture2sorsosogn city chritsmas 3sorsogon city christmas 2017 1

I missed my hometown Sorsogon, and I always regret not having enough time to reconnect with and really get to know the city I spent the most part of my childhood in. As time goes by and I get older, I get less memories and flashbacks that I connect to the places of my childhood as I visit less frequently.

Till then, Merry Christmas everyone!

Places

AMAZING CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN LIGAO CITY, ALBAY

Hi everyone!

I have always wanted to see the much talked about Christmas lights and displays in Ligao City. The Ligaoeños, I hear, take their yearly Christmas displays rather seriously. And it pays off, since Ligao has always been featured on both local and national television this time of the year.

So, I thought it was really lucky that my co-workers and I got to go on a side trip to Ligao after our Christmas Party in our regional office in Legazpi City last Friday. It was almost 8:00 PM when we got there, and at first, we hesitated since we did not really know which way to go. It was our first time to go to the centro of Ligao but it did not take long for us to find the church and the lights display was so easy to find that we didn’t even need to ask for directions. All we needed to do was to “follow the light(s)” hehe. So by this time, I was already very excited and I haven’t felt that way about Christmas in a while, or maybe I just got excited to find new material for my blog? Hmm.

We parked inside the compound of Saint Stephen Promartyr Parish Church. This is what the church looks like at this time.Christmas Lights in Ligao City 2017 1

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And just outside the church is the 54 meters tall Christmas tree made from blue LED lights with a star on top. It’s kinda hard to take a photo of the whole tree though because some guys just stood around it (really closely) even when they’re obviously not having their picture taken. Anyway, the tree was amazing!christmas lights in ligao city 2017_8

Then we went to their plaza which is adorned by hundreds of star-shaped lanterns locally called parol in the Philippines. It was such an amazing sight to see. Just three colors- dark blue, sky blue and purple.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_4

Isn’t it weird how a bunch of lanterns lighting up the dark night can stir up some feelings of child-like excitement and wonder? Things one may have forgotten in his quest for a better shot at the future by slaving away infront of the computer meeting deadlines, and being oblivious to the rest of the world. Such a toxic life can be a real pain in the ass in the long run because time flies and we will not live forever.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” So the lanterns were there to remind me I should live a little, or live more.chritmas lights in ligao city 2017_11

A little trivia, do you know that the Christmas tree and the star lanterns were hand-made by jail inmates in Ligao? It’s good that they have used their talents for a good cause. Their work is not too shabby, by the way.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_6christmas lights in ligao city_16

When we were there, a lot of people were in the plaza to watch “Patiribayan sa Ligao” which was a singing contest. Everywhere, the smell of popcorn, barbeque and hotcakes was very inviting but I kept thinking if only there was somewhere I could get a cup of coffee. I didn’t get my cuppa though because we already had to leave.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_9

The people of Ligao must be very proud for coming up with such a great way to put their place in the map, so to speak, by making sure that the festive mood of the holidays can be felt by everyone who visits. It sure is something to look forward to every year. Christmas is only a few days away, I hope you all are excited and feeling the Christmas spirit already!

 

 

Food

Woodstone Kitchen & Bar (Balatas, Naga City)

I have been eating my way around our little city, both for lack of better things I’d rather much do and because I want to keep ’em blog posts coming as often as I can.

So recently, I was with some friends from the office, and we have discovered this quaint resto bar located along Balatas Road, Brgy. Balatas, Naga City, that is called Woodstone Kitchen & Bar.woodstone kitchen and bar 1woodstone kitchen and bar 2

The ambience was nice, at first you get to see their bar upon arriving from the walk way. Unfortunately, I have no pics of that. I thought it would look nice during night time but during a hot day such as when we went there, it was a bit uncomfortable. The friendly receptionist then ushered us to the air conditioned area where customers can have their meal (say hello to Andeng, she joined us for lunch).woodstone kitchen ambience

I thought  the inside of the resto was a little small but wasn’t cramped. It was pretty, clean and comfortable, especially that we were the only diners at the time. The menu came and the prices are reasonable. Some are a bit pricier than the others.

We ordered the following:

First up was the Three Cheese Pizza. So yummy! Definitely the thinnest pizza I have ever eaten. Ever. It was like eating a pringle with those yummy gooey cheeses on top.

woodstone kitchen three cheese pizza

Then, there was the Oriental Salad. The sauce I thought was vinaigrette with a bit of a punch from the chili flakes. It had fried noodles wrapped in lettuce with chicken and croutons and finally lovingly (just had to add lovingly haha) wrapped in rice paper. One order = three wraps. I remember saying, I could have just this salad for a full meal.

woodstone kitchen oriental salad

Below we have the Seafood Paella, which we underestimated. As it turned out, we didn’t need to order additional rice. For me, the paella was the star of the table. It was a complete meal by itself and very affordable for the price of Php355.00 which can already satisfy a group of four to six people.

woodstone kitchen seafood paella

Another certified yummers (first time I’ve ever used this word) was their new Buttered Chicken in Salted Egg. The staff told us it was not yet even in the menu. KFC has this flavor in their offerings so I was ready and curious to try it too. Well, it did not disappoint. Chicken was very well cooked with plenty of butter and salted egg was a nice addition.woodstone kitchen and bar fried chicken in salted egg

Last but not the least was the sizzling Bulalo Steak (Php275 solo/ Php405 sharing). Honestly, it was a little salty for my taste, but that’s just me. Bulalo is a Filipino word for that bone-in cut of beef or pork with the signature marrow. The marrow was, well, to die for (pun intended hehe). Well, it’s not for people with high blood pressure though, that’s for sure.woodstone kitchen and bar sizzling bulalo

Over-all, it was a nice culinary experience that I hope to share also with my family in the event that they’re up for it. A lot of times, we stick to the kiddo’s favorites and sometimes, also depending on the budget lol. The wisdom of dining with a bunch of people is that you get to try a lot of dishes but not have to pay a lot.

Thanks a lot to Mam Cha of Siram Sana for letting me use the photos from her phone since I forgot to bring my camera.

So that was that. Thanks a lot for reading my blog. Keep safe everyone! =)

 

 

Places

Robinson’s Place, Naga City

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

We took a stroll at Robinson’s Place, Naga City last night and I was so thrilled to find that a giant Christmas tree is up! Well, that’s just me, something I brought along from my childhood is that old feeling of giddiness whenever I see a Christmas tree all pretty and bright. This particular Christmas tree is really pretty but I’m afraid my camera specs did not exactly give it justice. Nevertheless, I hope you see it as I do. =)Robinsons Place, Naga City

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Julienne likes the Christmas tree!

Before that, Yoy, little Julienne and I met Mama Pat and Tita Inky at SM City Naga, and together, we took a tricycle ride to Robinson’s Place which is located in Diversion Road at Brgy. Triangulo. To say that SM is packed with shoppers this time of year is an understatement as it is seriously stressful to go about your business when people are going on a buying frenzy like that. The queues for the ATMs, for McDonald’s take out and the lines at the cashiers were really long. Queues were everywhere. It was a good thing we only stayed there for a few minutes. The only consolation was that at least people were lining up instead of going in a mad dash (I think that stampede for the Php8.00 Shark’s Burger in SM North EDSA might be the one major proof in history that we are not getting any smarter with time).

Here are some photos I took to show what Robinson’s Place looks like right now in preparation for the coming Holiday Season:robinsons place, naga city10robinsons place, naga city11robinsons place, naga city5DSC09090DSC09094DSC09095robinsons place, naga city3

Although there were more people than usual as there was an event going on when we arrived, and of course, more Christmas shoppers, at least it wasn’t as crowded. It helped that this mall is bigger and the building is a lot newer than SM. It recently just opened last August 15, 2017 so everything is fresher, cleaner and their restrooms are really neat, clean and not gross. I guess, SM needs to step up their game soon, it’s a good thing they have their prime location going for them.robinson's place, naga city4DSC09029

So, if you’ve never been and if you ever find yourself in Naga, you might wanna check out Robinson’s Place for the ambience, good selection of restaurants, great customer service and helpful/friendly staff. You might also wanna go there for the holiday feels as Christmas lights are everywhere and their aircon is always so cold that I get the chills even when I’m wearing a sweater.

 

 

 

 

Food

MarkDom’s Chips & Dips (ALDP Mall, Naga City)

Hi everyone! I just want to quickly share with you my thoughts on those pretty tasty crepes we tried out last night.

So, I was with some office mates last night and we checked out this new food stall called MarkDom’s Chips and Dips located inside ALDP Mall (food court) in Diversion Road, Barangay Triangulo here in Naga City. markdom's-chips-and-dips

At the risk of looking like a couple of weirdos taking photos of every food on our table before eating, I think we managed just fine between taking photos and tasting our food subjects. Such is life I guess when three out of four in one table happen to be bloggers lol.

The first one we tried was the Lebanese Shawarma Crepe. It was very fresh and just right for the health-conscious. Who knew shawarma would taste real great on crepe?

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Lebanese Shawarma Crepe

Next thing that arrived on the table was my order. Voila! The Peach in Almond Custard Crepe with Ice Cream. This one was really sweet and delicious. The custard caramel sauce was great and there were delectable slices of peaches inside. Yummy!

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Peach in Almond Custard Crepe with Ice Cream

Then came the very delectable and very Instagrammable (is this even a word?!) looking Okonomiyaki Crepe. It tasted like, well, of course, Okonomiyaki. But if you’ve never had one, it is safe to say that it tasted so much like Takoyaki. Everyone has had Takoyaki at least once right? Not really? Oh dear…

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Okonomiyaki Crepe

Last but definitely not the least was the Pizza Crepe. It was also very tasty, such a pity I was so full already by the time this arrived.

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Pizza Crepe

So with the four of us versus four tasty crepes, I must admit we were satisfied and full. I didn’t even need to eat dinner after.

Prices are really affordable as their crepes are being sold for only Php80.00+. Hope you get to check out this place when you are in Naga!

Food

The Barn Food Park (Naga City)

There’s a new food park in town (city), it is called The Barn located in Ojeda St. corner Dayangdang St., Naga City. I went there with my lovely friend Bam as a post-birthday (mine!) date of some sort, and she suggested we go to this new place I’ve only heard about but have never really been to. I have always thought it was out of the way.

So when we got there, the place looked festive with banderitas hanging from the high ceiling. We got there at 6:00 PM and the place was not yet packed with just three tables occupied.DSC08775

At 7:00 PM, people started coming in for dinner and tables started filling up.DSC08787

The Barn had a feel good vibe to it like you’re not just going for a meal but you might wanna go there with your best pals for a cold beer or an Instagram-worthy looking frappe. Looking around, I noticed the variety of food stalls offering different specialties to choose from – from burgers and fries to boodle fight meals for groups, from tacos to baby back ribs, and iced coffee to ice cold beer. I felt that they had everything to make my tummy very happy indeed. Now, if only my tummy actually had all that space. Hmm, wishful thinking…DSC_6400DSC08776

So, I ordered what was called the Bumblebee Tumble meal from this stall called Nori for Php188.00. It was made of basically German franks topped with bacon and parsley and  the sauce (which I think was mustard), fried potatoes, rice and buttered veggies. I was pleasantly surprised that the food tasted as good as it looked. I had no complaints whatsoever. It was delicious!

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Bumblebee Tumble

Bam ordered their Beef Shawarma with fried potatoes and some chips on the side for only Php155.00. I tasted it as well although just two bites because I was struggling to finish my own plate lol. The struggle was real because I’m so petite that my stomach can only handle so much. Anyway, the shawarma was good but I thought their garlic mayo sauce did not pack as much punch as the one from my fave Shawarma N’ Tikka (another story for another blog post).

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Beef Shawarma

We also ordered this pica-pica called Refaro (Php168.00) from the stall next to Nori which sells mainly french fries, different varieties and flavors of fries.  So the color put us off a little because the sauce was pink with chocolate colored sauce as well. Makes one think the flavor would be sweet but it tasted savory with mayo. The Refaro consisted mainly of fries with chicken strips, coleslaw, cucumbers and chips topped with the pink sauce. However, the fries were soggy by the time we got our order. The taste was good nonetheless but we thought it was meant as pica-pica for those who will be drinking beer.DSC08783

To cap it all off, we had the sweet tasting beer which was San Mig Apple. After all, it was still then Oktoberfest. I’m definitely going back to see what else they have to offer. I think that The Barn is definitely a great addition to the new attractions of Naga City.

The Barn doors open at 4:00 PM daily, with lunch service at 11:00 AM-2:00 PM.

Places

NAGA CITY IN SEPTEMBER

Whenever the month of September comes, also marks the onset of the busiest time in Naga City as preparations for the Penafrancia Festival can immediately be felt. You can feel the energy as the usual pulse of the city suddenly gets a little bit quicker as the excitement for the festivities builds up.

Naga in September is like a crazy mass of crowd. People are everywhere, mostly dressed their best, lining along the roads to watch the Civic Parade and Float Competition, the Penafrancia Voyadores Festival Street Dance Competition and the Bicol Region Military Parade, among other activities. Also, there are concerts going on almost every night sponsored by the malls like SM, Robinson’s Mall and LCC. Across the street from SM City Naga in Barangay Triangulo, a carnival was also set up wherein the air is always wafting with the smell of newly cooked hot cakes and popcorn to the delight of the kids, with rides like the ferris wheel, caterpillar ride, horror train and the carousel. Peddlers and vendors are everywhere calling out to the crowd offering their wares.DSC08308

Nothing says fiesta more than the Banderitas hanging everywhere in the city. It’s great to see them blowing in the wind, you know it wouldn’t be fiesta without them.

 

By the way, you know what would be the best and most meaningful thing to do when in Naga? Let’s go do a Visita Iglesia! (visit the churches). Ok, did eyes just go rolling for a split second there? Nobody thinks this is fun? Well, I hope more and more people are willing to go along with this because you don’t have to be a Catholic to appreciate a tour of our beautiful churches. You have to visit these churches to understand why they are a major part of the city’s identity and the life of its people.

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Basilica Church in Balatas, Naga City

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Naga City is not known as a pilgrim city for nothing. Its churches are its main attractions and the city welcomes thousands of devotees of “Ina” come September of every year. So, maybe you won’t find beautiful beaches here like in Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes, but Naga City is spiritual as it is a happening city.

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Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral

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San Francisco Church at night
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Partial View of San Francisco Church

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Sadly, the influx of tourists and devotees of Our Lady of Penafrancia does not help the crime situation any as thieves also get busier during this time of the year. So I would advise everyone in Naga to please ever be so mindful of your valuables just like you do when in Manila. Wear those sling bags that can be worn across the body with the bag placed right infront of you. If carrying a backpack, wear it on reverse (as in infront of you). Of course, you can’t do this with those really big backpacks so just for the small sized ones then. And please, please avoid brandishing your high-end cellphones about, as tempting as it can be, or as nice as the rose gold color of your iPhone 7 matches your pretty peach outfit, please stop yourself from doing this. I have seen some people do this and all I could think about was “there goes another victim in the making.” The augmented police force is everywhere, in every corner, in every nook and crook, but they can only do so much. They can’t watch every single person in the crowd all the time. So better watch out for yourselves. Be smart, be careful, and don’t be a victim.

Happy Fiesta Naga!