Heneral Luna: The Hero that our Generation Needs

Heneral Luna, a movie launched in 2015, still resonates with us today, four years later. Let me share my review of this movie four years ago, a few days after it was initially shown in cinemas with only a dozen viewers. It is by word of mouth that this movie got popular and gained more attention with the help of independent film showings. Thank goodness for that!

But before the review, a little background…

The Inspiration: Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil’s Essay

This is a little-known fact, but something that everyone must know. The inspiration for the Heneral Luna movie is actually the essay written by Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil, entitled A Plot to Kill a General.

This essay is included in the book Heroes and Villainswhich is a great collection of essays by the famed historian and journalist. This essay was also published in Philippine Star in October 2008.

At the home of Mr. Ismaél G. Cruz and his wife, Mrs. Bessie Ocampo-Cruz.

A copy of this book is hard to find nowadays. We were lucky to receive the last copy from Mr. Ismaél G. Cruz, son of Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil, himself! Mr. Cruz is also the great-grandnephew of our national hero, Jose Rizal.

Kudos to director Jerrold Tarog, who co-wrote the movie with Henry Francia and E.A. Rocha. The movie was produced by Artikulo Uno Productions. (What exactly is Artikulo Uno? Watch the movie and find out!)

For those studying or using the movie as a teaching material, here is a downloadable Heneral Luna study guide created by Alvin D. Campomanes.

Heneral Luna is currently available for streaming at Netflix.


Heneral Luna: A Review

If you haven’t seen Heneral Luna, then you are definitely missing out on a lot. There is a reason why netizens clamoured to bring the film back to theaters nationwide (in 2015).

One can assume that the movie is all about glorifying a Philippine hero, like what has been done in previous period movies like Jose Rizal, Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo, El Presidente, and a lot more. But the movie Heneral Luna is more than that. Much, much more.

Cast and Characters: More than Just Temper

The actors were not chosen for their name recall (for which our showbiz industry is very much reliant on), but for their acting quality.

And yes, thank goodness for that! John Arcilla, Noni Buencamino, Leo Martinez, Joem Bascon, Mon Confiado, Archie Alemania, Epy Quizon and Ronnie Lazaro are but a few of the cast who have shown us what it is like to create a movie where actors have honed their acting craft to the fullest. No “pabebe” acting here, if I must say so. When they assumed their characters, they inhaled the air of the era more than a century ago and played the role as if it was their skin.

I no longer saw John Arcilla – I saw a general fit to run amok during war time and punish soldiers with no sense of discipline. He breathed life to a Filipino hero who was usually reduced to just a temperamental general with anger management issues and a stylish mustache. 

I thank the writer-director Jerrold Tarog for introducing me to General Antonio Luna, a three dimensional character who has hopes, dreams, aspirations, frustrations. There was a purpose behind his strict disciplinarian measures. He was quick to anger, but was always resolute and sometimes even funny. For him, there is no grey area between love for country and self-preservation, there is only black and white. He actually reminded me of my own grandfather.

Cinematography: Artfully Rendered

One of the things I look for in a film (apart from the story and storytelling) is its look. With hundreds, if not thousands, of films being released each year, we all look for a certain picture quality. The color, the blend, the framing, the texture, the camera movement and the angles are just some of the things that make for great cinematography. Cinematography sets the overall mood and assists visually in effecting storytelling.

Heneral Luna did not disappoint in this aspect. The movie was artfully rendered. If I really must compare, Heneral Luna somehow reminds me of Rurouni Kenshin Live Action movie. These movies are Hollywood commercial film material! It pains me to have to compare this film to those shown in Hollywood. I mean, does one really need to say these things just to promote it to his fellow Filipinos? Do we belong among those who, like Heneral Luna said, open their legs wide for Americans to enter? Para kang birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng isang puta! Ouch.

The beautiful cinematography of Heneral Luna is far better than many commercial films in the Philippines today. Period.

Reminiscent Storytelling

Unlike other historical films depicted in a straight line, the story of Heneral Luna was presented differently. The trend with Filipino life story films is to start when the character was young, then grew up, encountered a life-changing moment, faced the peak of his life, and then died. Heneral Luna started with the main character already at the peak of his life – the most brilliant general of a nation fighting to be reborn as a free country. It did not dwell on the mundane acts of childhood and growing up years (albeit this were shown for a bit), for that which I am thankful.

The movie showed mostly the time when the Filipinos were fighting the Americans during and right after Spain sold the Philippines to United States. It won’t be a wartime story without showing war itself, and it did. The exchange of gunshots and canon fire, cowardly soldiers running away, dismembered carcasses littering the field and exploding heads for all its blood and glory – these were not lacking.

Of course, Heneral Luna will not be complete without having to show Antonio Luna’s brother, Juan Luna, who is a famous artist and hero as well. 

*SPOILER ALERT (if you still haven’t seen this after four years!)* If you have a keen eye, you will notice a couple of Juan Luna’s works depicted in the movie, not as paintings but as tableau. Look for The Parisian Life during Antonio Luna’s life story flashback (care of his mother) and Spolarium after Heneral Luna and his aide were killed. The Spoliarium’s tableau is hard to miss.

We Are Joven

I absolutely love Heneral Luna. And I will watch it again when shown in theaters near me. If and when it is officially released in DVD, I will definitely buy an original copy. I feel like it is my responsibility to show a film like this to my family and future kids.

Amidst the war, the General was shown as being interviewed by a certain joven – which literally translates to youth or the young generation. 

But this joven is merely a depiction of us – the Filipinos of today. Antonio Luna was speaking to us, telling us of the nation that we need to build, the values we need to take to heart, the principles we need to keep in mind and the challenges we will have to face head-on.

Heneral Luna embodies our soul as Filipinos. It slapped us with the truth that we are a nation whose freedom is not absolute; whose sense of nationalism is hollow and naught but ash; whose sense of self-worth is defined by connections and money. It hurts but it is the truth. The moment that we realize this, the minute we accept it, that is when we can truly start embracing our country as it needs to be loved.

Heneral Luna is a film that shakes the very core of our perceived nationalism and forces us to face our deepest, darkest enemy — ourselves.

Why is the Philippines called Perlas Ng Silangan?

Why is the Philippines Called Perlas ng Silangan?

Have you ever wondered why the Philippines is called "Perlas ng Silangan"? I have. I've wondered about it a hundred times since I was a child. Until I just accepted the fact that we are called such because we are indeed a beautiful country in the Orient. But there is more to it than that.

Since we are using this very name in this website, it is only fitting for us to understand where the term really originated from.

How the Term Perlas ng Silangan was Born

The truth is, I have just learned about its conception recently, when I met Mr. Ismael "Toto" Cruz, the great-grandnephew of no less than our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. According to Mr. Cruz, the term Perlas ng Silangan was original coined by Gat Jose Rizal himself, in his last poem Mi Ultimo Adios, saying the Philippines is a Perla de Oriente.

His exact words were "región del sol querida, Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!", which means "treasured region of the sun, Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our lost Eden!" (translation by Lozada). You will find this on the first part of the poem.

For everybody's reference, here is Jose Rizal's 1896 poem, translated into Filipino by Gat Andres Bonifacio, and into Modern English by Edwin Agustín Lozada. For comparison's sake, I have placed the two translations side by side with the original. Enjoy!

Mi último adiós

¡Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante, más fresca, más florida,
También por ti la diera, la diera por tu bien.

En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio,
Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel o lirio,
Cadalso o campo abierto, combate o cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora
Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;
si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,
Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente,
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,
¡Salud te grita el alma que pronto va a partir!
¡Salud! Ah, que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un día
Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría,
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.

Deja a la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave,
Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave,
Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave,
Deja que el ave entone su cántico de paz.

Deja que el sol, ardiendo, las lluvias evapore
Y al cielo tornen puras, con mi clamor en pos;
Deja que un ser amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mí alguien ore,
¡Ora también, oh Patria, por mi descanso a Dios!

Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,
Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por ti que veas tu redención final.

Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio
Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio,
Tal vez acordes oigas de cítara o salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto a ti.

Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada
No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas, antes que vuelvan a la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan a formar.

Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido.
Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré.
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oído,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido,
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fe.

Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adiós.
Ahí te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fe no mata, donde el que reina es Dios.

Adiós, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adiós, dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría,
Adiós, queridos seres, morir es descansar.


 

Pahimakas

Pinipintuho kong Bayan ay paalam, Lupang iniirog ng sikat ng araw,
mutyang mahalaga sa dagat Silangan, kaluwalhatiang sa ami'y pumanaw.
Masayang sa iyo'y aking idudulot ang lanta kong buhay na lubhang malungkot;
maging maringal man at labis alindog
sa kagalingan mo ay aking ding handog.

Sa pakikidigma at pamimiyapis ang alay ng iba'y ang buhay na kipkip,
walang agam-agam, maluag sa dibdib, matamis sa puso at di ikahapis.
Saan man mautas ay dikailangan, cipres o laurel, lirio ma'y patungan
pakikipaghamok, at ang bibitayan,
yaon ay gayon din kung hiling ng Bayan.

Ako'y mamamatay, ngayong namamalas na sa silinganan ay namamanaag
yaong maligayang araw na sisikat sa likod ng luksang nagtabing na ulap.
Ang kulay na pula kung kinakailangan na maitina sa iyong liway-way,
dugo ko'y isabong at siyang ikinang
ng kislap ng iyong maningning na ilaw

Ang aking adhika sapul magkaisip ng kasalukuyang bata pang maliit,
ay ang tanghaling ka at minsan masilip sa dagat Silangan hiyas na marikit.
Natuyo ang luhang sa mata'y nunukal, taas na ang noo't walang kapootan,
walang bakas kunot ng kapighatian gabahid man dungis niyong kahihiyan.

Sa kabuhayang ko ang laging gunita maningas na aking ninanasa-nasa
ay guminhawa ka ang hiyas ng diwa
hingang papanaw ngayong biglang-bigla.
Ikaw'y guminhawa laking kagandahang akoy malugmok, at ikaw ay matanghal,
hiniga'y malagot, mabuhay ka lamang bangkay ko'y masilong sa iyong Kalangitan.

Kung sa libingan ko'y tumubong mamalas
sa malagong damo mahinhing bulaklak,
sa mga labi mo'y mangyayaring itapat, sa kaluluwa ko hatik ay igawad.
At sa aking noo nawa'y iparamdam, sa lamig ng lupa ng aking libingan,
ang init ng iyong paghingang dalisay at simoy ng iyong paggiliw na tunay.

Bayaang ang buwan sa aki'y ititig ang iwanag niyang lamlam at tahimik,
liwayway bayaang sa aki'y ihatid magalaw na sinag at hanging hagibis.
Kung sakasakaling bumabang humantong sa krus ko'y dumapo kahit isang ibon
doon ay bayaan humuning hinahon at dalitin niya payapang panahon.

Bayaan ang ningas ng sikat ng araw ula'y pasingawin noong kainitan,
magbalik sa langit ng boong dalisay kalakip ng aking pagdaing na hiyaw.
Bayaang sino man sa katotang giliw tangisang maagang sa buhay pagkitil;
kung tungkol sa akin ay may manalangin idalangin, Bayan, yaring pagka himbing.

Idalanging lahat yaong nangamatay, mangagatiis hirap na walang kapantay;
mga ina naming walang kapalaran na inihihibik ay kapighatian.
Ang mga bao't pinapangulila, ang mga bilanggong nagsisipagdusa;
dalanginin namang kanilang makita ang kalayaan mong, ikagiginhawa.

At kung an madilim na gabing mapanglaw ay lumaganap na doon sa libinga't
tanging mga patay ang nangaglalamay, huwag bagabagin ang katahimikan.
Ang kanyang hiwagay huwag gambalain; kaipala'y maringig doon ang taginting,
tunog ng gitara't salterio'y mag saliw, ako, Bayan yao't kita'y aawitin.

Kung ang libingan ko'y limat na ng lahat at wala ng kurus at batang mabakas,
bayaang linangin ng taong masipag, lupa'y asarolin at kauyang ikalat.
At mga buto ko ay bago matunaw maowi sa wala at kusang maparam,
alabok ng iyong latag ay bayaang siya ang babalang doo'y makipisan.

Kung magka gayon na'y aalintanahin na ako sa limot iyong ihabilin
pagka't himpapawid at ang panganorin mga lansangan mo'y aking lilibutin.
Matining na tunog ako sa dingig mo, ilaw, mga kulay, masamyong pabango,
ang ugong at awit, pag hibik sa iyo, pag asang dalisay ng pananalig ko.

Bayang iniirog, sakit niyaring hirap, Katagalugang ko pinakaliliyag,
dinggin mo ang aking pagpapahimakas; diya'y iiwan ko sa iyo ang lahat.
Ako'y patutungo sa walang busabos, walang umiinis at berdugong hayop;
pananalig doo'y di nakasasalot, si Bathala lamang dooy haring lubos.

Paalam, magulang at mga kapatid kapilas ng aking kaluluwa't dibdib
mga kaibigan bata pang maliit sa aking tahanan di na masisilip.
Pag pasasalamat at napahinga rin, paalam estranherang kasuyo ko't aliw,
paalam sa inyo, mga ginigiliw; mamatay ay siyang pagkakagupiling!

(Sa salin ni Andres Bonifacio)

Source: Univie.ac.at

 

Mi último adiós

¡Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante, más fresca, más florida,
También por ti la diera, la diera por tu bien.

En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio,
Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel o lirio,
Cadalso o campo abierto, combate o cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora
Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;
si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,
Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente,
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,
¡Salud te grita el alma que pronto va a partir!
¡Salud! Ah, que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un día
Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría,
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.

Deja a la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave,
Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave,
Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave,
Deja que el ave entone su cántico de paz.

Deja que el sol, ardiendo, las lluvias evapore
Y al cielo tornen puras, con mi clamor en pos;
Deja que un ser amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mí alguien ore,
¡Ora también, oh Patria, por mi descanso a Dios!

Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,
Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por ti que veas tu redención final.

Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio
Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio,
Tal vez acordes oigas de cítara o salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto a ti.

Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada
No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas, antes que vuelvan a la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan a formar.

Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido.
Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré.
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oído,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido,
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fe.

Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adiós.
Ahí te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fe no mata, donde el que reina es Dios.

Adiós, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adiós, dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría,
Adiós, queridos seres, morir es descansar.


 

My Last Farewell

Farewell, beloved Country, treasured region of the sun,
Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our lost Eden!
To you eagerly I surrender this sad and gloomy life;
And were it brighter, fresher, more florid,
Even then I’d give it to you, for your sake alone.

In fields of battle, deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives, without doubt, without regret;
The place matters not: where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field, in combat or cruel martyrdom,
It’s all the same if the home or country asks.

I die when I see the sky has unfurled its colors
And at last after a cloak of darkness announces the day;
If you need scarlet to tint your dawn,
Shed my blood, pour it as the moment comes,
And may it be gilded by a reflection of the heaven’s newly-born light.

My dreams, when scarcely an adolescent,
My dreams, when a young man already full of life,
Were to see you one day, jewel of the sea of the Orient,
Dry those eyes of black, that forehead high,
Without frown, without wrinkles, without stains of shame.

My lifelong dream, my deep burning desire,
This soul that will soon depart cries out: Salud!
To your health! Oh how beautiful to fall to give you flight,
To die to give you life, to die under your sky,
And in your enchanted land eternally sleep.

If upon my grave one day you see appear,
Amidst the dense grass, a simple humble flower,
Place it near your lips and my soul you’ll kiss,
And on my brow may I feel, under the cold tomb,
The gentle blow of your tenderness, the warmth of your breath.

Let the moon see me in a soft and tranquil light,
Let the dawn send its fleeting radiance,
Let the wind moan with its low murmur,
And should a bird descend and rest on my cross,
Let it sing its canticle of peace.

Let the burning sun evaporate the rains,
And with my clamor behind, towards the sky may they turn pure;
Let a friend mourn my early demise,
And in the serene afternoons, when someone prays for me,
O Country, pray to God also for my rest!

Pray for all the unfortunate ones who died,
For all who suffered torments unequaled,
For our poor mothers who in their grief and bitterness cry,
For orphans and widows, for prisoners in torture,
And for yourself pray that your final redemption you’ll see.

And when the cemetery is enveloped in dark night,
And there, alone, only those who have gone remain in vigil,
Disturb not their rest, nor the mystery,
And should you hear chords from a zither or psaltery,
It is I, beloved Country, singing to you.

And when my grave, then by all forgotten,
has not a cross nor stone to mark its place,
Let men plow and with a spade scatter it,
And before my ashes return to nothing,
May they be the dust that carpets your fields.

Then nothing matters, cast me in oblivion.
Your atmosphere, your space and valleys I’ll cross.
I will be a vibrant and clear note to your ears,
Aroma, light, colors, murmur, moan, and song,
Constantly repeating the essence of my faith.

My idolized country, sorrow of my sorrows,
Beloved Filipinas, hear my last good-bye.
There I leave you all, my parents, my loves.
I’ll go where there are no slaves, hangmen nor oppressors,
Where faith doesn’t kill, where the one who reigns is God.

Goodbye, dear parents, brother and sisters, fragments of my soul,
Childhood friends in the home now lost,
Give thanks that I rest from this wearisome day;
Goodbye, sweet foreigner, my friend, my joy;
Farewell, loved ones, to die is to rest.


 

(English Translation by Edwin Agustín Lozada)

Source: CarayanPress

Why is the Philippines called Perlas ng Silangan (Calabia Family with Mr. Ismael Cruz & Mrs. Bessie Ocampo-Cruz)

Above image shows some members of the Calabia Family with Mr. Ismael Cruz & Mrs. Bessie Ocampo-Cruz

Featured Image by Patrick Neufelder from Pixabay

 

Reicin’s Kitchen: A Little Slice of Heaven

Ever since we moved to San Pablo City, we’ve been constantly looking for great places to dine. We like cooking (when we have the ingredients, which lately we don’t), but we also like trying out new things.

One of the places we’ve been eyeing for the past few months is Reicin’s Kitchen. This small burger joint is located along Balagtas Boulevard in San Pablo City. It’s always closed whenever we pass by, so we were only able to try it tonight, when one of our go-to restaurants was closed. And oh boy, am I glad we did!

The Ambiance 🏡

One look and you know that it’s a family business. Why, the restaurant is simply a converted garage. Tables lined the space, with string lights brightening the place up. It’s a no-expectations restaurant. You can come here in your shorts and slippers and you wouldn’t be ashamed to eat. It somehow looks like it can be a bar, but since the dining areas are just outside the family homes, it’s likely that they decided not to offer alcoholic drinks to avoid scuffles so close to home.


Towards the back of the garage-slash-dining-area, it smelled a bit like dogs, which is why I opted to move to a table closer to the gate. This is the only downside for me. I don’t have any qualms with eating at a converted garage as long as it’s clean.

The Food 🍔 & The Price 💰

Not only was I surprised to find out that they serve more than burgers, I was more than shocked about how good the food was! We ordered Pork Ribs, Chicken Fingers and Bacon Mushroom Melt Burger.

I’m a burger person. Whenever I’m feeling down, my husband knows that one thing that would make me feel better is a great burger. Now my standard for Bacon & Mushroom Melt is the one from Wendy’s. Imagine my surprise when I tasted Reicin’s version. It tasted really great! The burger patty was flame-grilled and really juicy. I must admit that Wendy’s is still my top choice, but this very much runs second.

For a really good burger at the price of ₱130, it’s a steal! 
CHICKEN FINGERS MEAL FOR ₱100
BACON MUSHROOM BURGER ₱130
BBQ PORK RIBS FOR ₱250
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The Pork Ribs was very satisfying as well. We got what looked like a little less than half a slab for ₱250. They also offered bigger portions for ₱300 and ₱350, but we opted for the smallest one because we don’t know how it would taste. It was awesome! The meat was tender, juicy and flavorful. It somehow reminded me of Perissos Ribs (also in San Pablo City, who offers a whole slab of pork ribs for ₱600). Maybe because I didn’t expect much, when I took a bite, I almost cried of happiness. It was that good.

Finally, the Chicken Fingers were also good. Not the very best I’ve ever tasted, but it passes my standards. There were several big pieces so for the price of ₱100 (including rice and side vegetables), it’s very affordable.

The Service 🙏

Whenever we dine out, we always expect our food to be served within 30 to 45 minutes. That’s how long it takes for good food to be served. If the place is full, you can also expect a busy kitchen so the service can be slower. It’s a good thing that we came at a good time. The place was around 40% capacity when we arrived (which quickly increased while we waited for our food). But by the number of people coming and going, it’s really a popular place. By now, I am no longer surprised!

So our food was served around 20 minutes, and it was a fine waiting time. The service was nothing out of the ordinary. They added a ₱20 service charge to our bill, but I would have tipped more. Remember guys, waiters and the kitchen crew don’t always earn enough, so make sure to leave tips if there’s no service charge.

Himig said, “Tatay, picture!”

Reicin’s Kitchen Rating: 4.5 Stars 🌟

I would have rated it 5 stars if they can eliminate the doggy smell towards the back, and if they have a place to wash hands! You’re a burger place, and people usually eat their burgers using their hands. If you have this, then you’re awesome in my eyes!

EDIT: They have a washroom, yey! I didn’t see it at first because it was hidden among the birds (LOL), but I’m happy they at least have a place to wash hands. AND they now provide food-grade plastic gloves. Nice.

Nevertheless, you have found a loyal customer in us.

For more information on this restaurant, visit Reicin’s Kitchen’s Facebook Page.

(Featured image from Reicin’s Kitchen’s FB page)

If you’re looking for a good place for staycation,why don’t you try Crosswinds Resort Suites?

Hello, Philippines!

Hi everyone!

Before anything else, let me first introduce myself. My name is Jairene Cruz-Eusebio. I am a wife to a loving husband named Ferdie, and a mother to a lovable kid named Himig.

I love the Philippines! Before I got married, we have traveled to many places in the country. Not only did we discover the picturesque parts of the country, but we were also able to glimpse a little of the culture and history of the places we visited.

You may have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of Philippine travel blogs. This is not going to be one of those. This is going to be a website about discovering our culture, learning more about our history, and digging deeper into what being a Filipino actually means.

I am by no means an expert in culture, history and language. I learn as I go, and I will share with you those learnings as I see fit. If you think there are some information that needs to be corrected, I am always open to listen. But please back it up with proof so we can have a fruitful conversation.

Why am I writing this blog in English? I once heard a writer say, “write in the language you are most comfortable with”. So that’s what I’ll be doing. And also, so that people from other countries who are interested in learning more about the Philippines would be able to understand it as well. This is why my guide to writing in Baybayin is also written in English.

If you are looking for something written in Filipino, we have our sister-website SulatKamay.com, which features fictional work written in the vernacular. For fictional work written in English, we also have ACosmicEncounter.com. But those websites are for fiction. Here in PerlasNgSilangan, we will focus more on the facts.

I consider this a journey for self-discover. We believe that in order for us to find our identity, it is necessary to look back on our history, culture and heritage. These three molded us into who we are today.

So without further ado,

Welcome to Perlas ng Silangan!

*Featured Philippine flag on thumb mark image by Kurious.

Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas: The Money Museum

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

Museums are great venues to understand more about the history and culture of a certain place. If you want to understand the Philippines’ monetary system and trade structures way before our Spanish colonizers arrived in the country up until today, what better place to visit than the Money Museum of the Central Bank of the Philippines (Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)?

The Money Museum Location and Open Hours


The museum is comfortably located inside the compound of the country’s primary monetary authority, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The compound is located at the corner of A. Mabini and P. Ocampo Streets, in Malate, Manila. The Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is different from the museum located right next to the BSP compound, named Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines (we'll visit this one on a different day!).

The Money Museum is open from Mondays to Fridays, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, with a one hour lunch break from 12 noon to 1:00 pm. Anyone can come in and visit the museum, free of charge. However, the security is strict (what do you expect, it’s the Central Bank after all). You would need to bring a valid government ID before you are allowed inside. Proper attire must also be observed. No sleeveless and short skirts for women. No sleeveless or sando and shorts for men. You must be wearing closed shoes.

At the front gate, you will be required to present your ID, write your name and other pertinent details in a piece of paper, and you must state the purpose of your visit. You can just tell them you are there to visit the museum inside. You will be given an access pass that you can only use for the museum doors. You will not be allowed to visit other areas of the compound, so don’t even try.




Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Tour


Once inside the museum, you will be asked to watch a video presentation of what the museum is all about. Here is a description of the museum based on their brochure:

As repository and custodian of the country’s numismatic heritage, the Museo collects, studies and preserves coins, paper notes, medals, artifacts and other monetary items to show the nation’s rich legacy.
The Museo is designed to walk the visitor through the different periods of the country’s history. Each gallery is dedicated to a specific period and the evolution of the Philippine currency is traced alongside the development of the economy.

Exciting Finds


Money Museum Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (7)The museum has an extensive collection of monetary units used during the pre-colonial times, during the Spanish, American and Japanese periods, up until today. Before the arrival of the Portuguese Magellan, early Filipinos trade and barter using various products as currency. Rice, precious metals and even tea were used as currency. In fact, the word salapi, which currently means money or paper tender, is actually a word used to refer to bundles of freshly harvested rice.

As for precious metals being used for trade, these metals were formed not only into jewelry, but also into animals and other items! There were crocodile money, rooster money, knife money and cannon money. I was hoping to see jewelries or precious items inscribed with the ancient script, but there were none.

Through the museum, I found out that there even was some rebel-created money, called the Resistance Currency, circulated during the Japanese occupation. It was one of the ways of the rebels and of the locals to defy the Japanese government. There was a different resistance currency for every province that opposed the Japanese government.

Money Museum Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (16)We were also astonished to find the biggest paper bill produced in the country: the ₱100,00 note. The size is 8.5 x 14 inches, the biggest legal tender note produced by our very own Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Only 1,000 pieces were produced.

The museum also houses various Philipine medals that commemorate important events in the country, mainly the anniversary of independence. Other medals during the Spanish and American occupation are also on display.


If you ever visit the Money Museum, let us know what you think!

In the mean time, check our photos below for a preview of the Money Museum.

Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay: Little Baguio

Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay Review

If you want to have a quick relaxing trip outside of Metro Manila, there are loads of places to choose from: there’s the beaches of Laiya, or the hotspring resorts of Pansol and Los Baños, or the hotels with view of the Taal Lake in the ridges of Tagaytay. But there is also the mountain view of Tagaytay which is a wonder to behold, if you know where to look. We were lucky to find it at Crosswinds Resort Suites (Crosswinds Swiss Resort).



Booking a Room


For an overnight staycation, my husband and I opted to visit Tagaytay since it’s getting warmer nowadays, and the cool and crisp air in Tagaytay is sure to lift our spirits up. Baguio is our top option, but seeing as we only have a couple of days to spare, we can’t (you need to stay at least three days in Bagiuo, in my opinion). Being just an hour or two away from where we live, we’ve seen a lot of Tagaytay already. So we searched for something different. Luckily, we found the Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay. The photos from their website plus reviews from Booking.com and Tripadvisor were enough to convince us.

We booked a week earlier by sending an email and calling their number (when no one responded to our email). Another quick way to book is by using Booking.com. Booking was fairly easy. We reserved a Studio Queen Room, which has a queen-sized bed, a kitchen and a balcony. We caught a great deal at ₱3,800 a night (discounted rate).

Click here to check rates at Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay. 

How to Get to Crosswinds Resort Suites


The place was pretty easy to find since we used Google Drive to guide us. If you’re coming from the Sta Rosa-Tagaytay Road, on the fork to Tagaytay Proper and Calamba-Tagaytay Road, take a left. Drive 10 kilometers until you reach your destination. Towards the left, you’ll have a view of the ridges, and soon you’ll see the Crosswinds name laid out like the Hollywood sign. Once you see this, you’re close.

Once you see the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, you have arrived at the Alpine Village. You can arrange for the hotel shuttle to pick you up from here if you don’t have a ride of your own. But if you do, the guards will point the directions towards the Grand Quartier, which is where the hotel is. Just like most hotels and points of interest in Tagaytay, expect the road to be steep. But oh the drive can be fun! Make sure to open the windows to let the scent of the fresh pines in. The road is lined up with pine trees from the gate to the hotel. In fact, the whole village is filled with pine trees all over! It’s like a mini-version of Camp John Hay of Baguio (which we so love).

Check In: Fairly Easy


It was a nice five minute drive to the Grand Quartier, where the reception is. Upon arrival, we parked on the side of the road since there is no designated parking area for hotel guests. This is fine by the way since there are hardly any vehicles passing except for hotel guests and residents of the quaint little village.

Everyone greeted us with a smile upon checking in. Since we have been booked and fully paid online, all we need to do was present our printed booking confirmation. We were immediately given the key-card and were told of our room number. We were also provided a piece of paper for breakfast choices. There wasn’t a lot of people at the time so our breakfast is plated and not buffet.

We went up to our Studio Queen Room. The room was spacious as expected, and has a balcony of its own. Unfortunately, it was facing the building across the hotel. Although this was fine since the houses and buildings all have that Swiss Chalet style, we still wanted the view of the hills with all the surrounding pines. I immediately called the reception to ask for a change in rooms. I was told that only Studio Double Rooms are available (those with two double beds), and I said that’s fine.

A few minutes later, a staff buzzed our room and told us that he’ll show us the Studio Double Room first. It was on the same floor. The room was as spacious as the other one. It had its own kitchen as well, though no private balcony. It was alright since we definitely loved the view of the hills filled with pine trees and a few Swiss Chalet houses here and there. The staff named Philip offered to place the two double beds together so we can have one big bed, which was fantastic.

Hotel Amenities: No Restaurant, Has In-Room Kitchen


The only drawback with this hotel is that there is no restaurant (it’s a big factor for me, since a hotel’s restaurants is one of the main attractions, like Harold’s Hotel in Cebu). The nearest one is located at the entrance of Alpine Village which is a long way away. If you want to eat and don’t have a car of your own, you can ask the reception for a shuttle service. However, no restaurant in the premises means no room service, which is a downside if you want to really relax. They offer a list of restaurants in the area that deliver to their hotel. They can assist you in calling whichever restaurant you want.

The Kitchen Nook at the Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay On the upside, they have a full-functioning kitchen which you can use for no additional fee. If you are into cooking and preparing food yourself, everything will work out well for you. They have a refrigerator, an oven, an electric stove, pots, pans, plates and more. Our room was lacking a knife, but upon calling reception, they immediately sent one up. For turning the electric stove on, you would need to call the concierge for help.

The room was very spacious that it can fit another bed. The bathroom amenities were good. There was an internet modem inside the room, but the connection was pretty slow. They had cable, but if you don’t want to get stressed, don’t watch TV. They use Cignal Cable and the signal gets lost every few seconds/minutes that you will surely get pissed off.

Food: Plated Breakfast


Although they don’t have a restaurant, breakfast is still included in the room. Since occupancy at that time was low, we were told that they will send the breakfast to our room at whatever time we prefer, from 6 am to 10 am. We opted for 8:30 am so we are well rested and we still have time to roam around the place after breakfast. The choices for breakfast were few but satisfactory. We chose Beef Tapa and Bacon & Eggs.

Plated Breakfast at the Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay

Our breakfast arrived 30 minutes early the following day. I asked why they delivered it at 8 am when we wanted it at 8:30 am. They said we were scheduled for 8 am. I was still half asleep so I did not argue and went promptly back to bed. This means when we got up at 8:30, our breakfast was already cold.

I was disappointed to see that the serving size was small. My husband and I are not heavy breakfast eaters but we still felt that the portions were not enough. How much more for those who opt for heavy breakfast meals? The food was delicious though (which made it even more unsatisfying that the amount was not enough!) There was also some fruit slices and 2 slices of bread, which still wasn’t enough for two people, in my opinion.

The Place: Fresh and Crisp Air!


The best thing about this place is that the air is cool and fresh. Although it’s not as cold as Baguio, the coolness of the air is enough to take your worries away! We wanted to check out the Christmas Village and pool area so we asked for our shuttle service (we asked to be scheduled for the shuttle service the moment we arrived). Upon arriving at the reception area, everyone was smiling and greeted us a good morning.

We waited a few minutes and the shuttle arrived. We were brought to the Christmas Village which is just a walking distance uphill. If we knew it was that close, we could’ve opted to walk there! The place was closed on weekdays though so we had to content ourselves to taking a few pictures outside Santa’s House.

After 10 minutes, the shuttle service promptly arrived to take us to the pool area. The receptionist promised us some towels but sadly, we received none. The day before, the staff told us that the pool is actually a heated one so we were excited to take a dip. To our dismay, it was not a heated pool. Since we had no towels and the water was too cold for our taste, we just stayed at one of the huts by the pool to chill.

The Pool at the Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay

Crosswinds Resort Suites Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars


Although not perfect, we did enjoy our stay. I give it a 4-star rating because of the small breakfast portions, intermittent cable signal and no pool towels. I can accept that the pool was not heated, but being promised pool towels and not receiving some is a big letdown. What if we decided to take a dip? We would then be shivering in the cold afterwards.

However, it is still a nice place to chill. You can take a walk in the morning, jog or cycle around the area. The hotel staff were courteous and accommodating. If you really want to take breather from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Crosswinds Resort Suites at the Alpine Village is a great choice.

Click here to book at Crosswinds Resort Suites

Harold’s Hotel Cebu: A Home Away From Home

Harolds Hotel Cebu Review

When we visited Cebu City, our purpose was a combination of business and pleasure. It was our first time in Cebu, so our main goal of course was to visit historical sites and other popular tourists attractions. I had some business meetings to attend in Cebu City, which is why I opted to look for accommodations right in the heart of the city. The hotel I chose was Harold’s Hotel Cebu, a moderately sized 3-star business hotel. We stayed here for three days and two nights, and it was very well-spent.




One thing I noticed is that the hotels in Cebu City and Mandaue City are less expensive as compared to equivalent hotels in Metro Manila. I’m not saying they are cheap, but you can find 3-star and 4-star hotels that are half or two-thirds of the price of similar hotels in MM. This made Cebu so much inviting for me.



Booking.com

First Impressions During Check-In: Nice & Quick


We went there during peak season (on the month of May, no less) so I can safely assume that the rates at Harold’s Hotel Cebu at that time were the highest all year round (except for the Iron Man season). I booked one of their Deluxe Rooms through Booking.com. The price was P3,600 for two people and one infant, with breakfast included. Click here if you want to check the current price per room at Harold’s Hotel. The price for me is very reasonable for a business hotel like this.

When we arrived, we were automatically given welcome drinks and allowed to relax at the lobby. Check-in was pretty quick. Even though check-in was supposed to be at 2pm, we were allowed early check-in since our rooms were already available. We checked in at 12 noon, which was pretty awesome.

At the Lobby of Harold's Hotel Cebu
At the Lobby of Harold’s Hotel Cebu

If there are two of you staying in one room, ask for another key card. The elevators are card activated and will only allow you to stop at your floor and the rooftop, which is where the Highlights Lounge is located.

We were provided just one key card on our first day so when I had to go up and down several times while leaving my husband in the room, I had to ask their staff to punch my floor because I don’t have a card. When the sup noticed that I had to do this several times, that’s when she told her front desk staff to give me another card, which was a relief. It would have been so much easier if they gave us two cards at the beginning, but oh well. Also, since I had to visit other floors for our meetings, I asked them to add clearance to my card for those floors.

Room Impression: Large and Comfy


So yeah after check-in, we immediately went to our room to freshen up. We also waited for our luggage to be delivered, which was fast anyway. As is usual in hotels of this type, coffee and bottled water are readily available. The mini-bar is stocked with light snacks with a price list. The usual toiletries plus two pairs of rubber slippers were available. They also have a safe if you’d like to store some valuables. Our laptop and camera wouldn’t fit though, so we pretty much didn’t use it.

The carpeted room was very spacious; however the air conditioning dripped on the carpet, causing a funky smell. The smell quickly faded away though so we didn’t bother with it. The layout of my friend’s room was different from ours (the air conditioning was positioned differently) so she didn’t have any issue like that. Our bathroom was equipped with a rain-shower and bathtub, which my five-month old thoroughly enjoyed.

Inside the Room Harold's Hotel Cebu
Himig getting comfy

The room was clean and the bed was very comfy. We had Wifi access which was great, but it was only limited to two devices. If you have more than two devices (we had four!), you can call the reception and ask for additional allocation for your room. We told them how many devices need to connect to the internet and they readily added spots for us without question and without additional charge.

It was funny actually because my friend was staying solo in her room so I thought, hey what the heck, let’s use her extra allocation. So we logged in using her room number as password. Little did we know that our Australian delegates were thinking the same thing. So in the end, my friend was booted out of her own Wifi and had to call reception! Good thing they were so accommodating! Anyway, the speed was consistent and fast, which is a huge plus.

The Food: Love it!


We definitely enjoyed the food at their lobby restaurant called H-Café. The buffet breakfast at Harold’s Hotel Cebu which was already included in the accommodation was great. They have a wide selection of sausages, various egg preparations and other trademark Filipino dishes. They also have cereals, muffins, pancakes and lots of fresh fruits. Tip: You can request for danggit and bacon from the staff. These will be cooked crisp and fresh at no extra charge, which is a huge plus for me!

Our Australian friends super loved the breakfast that even when I was discussing serious matters with them, they completely ignored me and had to ask me several times what I was talking about! It was very funny, but at the same time it gave an impression that this buffet breakfast was really good, specially with their international tastes.

Rooftop Bar Performance of Harold's Hotel Cebu
Rooftop Bar Performance of Harold’s Hotel Cebu

We also had in-room dining for when we were too busy. There sandwiches delicious and affordable. We asked for two cups of coffee, but they upgraded it to a pot of coffee free of charge. Awesome!

Harold’s Hotel has a restaurant and bar located at the rooftop of the hotel, called Highlights Lounge. Pardon me for not taking photos of any of the food we had because I’m not really used to taking photos of the food we eat. (I guess it’s something I have to be reminded of every time since I’m blogging about it, LOL!) Anyway, the barbeque and their pizza was amazing. The prices were average, a person’s complete meal, including drinks and dessert, can range from P400 to P800, which wasn’t bad at all.

The Business Aspect: A Nightmare!


What disappointed me the most is when it comes to booking conference rooms. We were supposed to have a business room or conference room reserved, but there was an issue with the reservation. The reservations officer told me that they reserved a room for us, but it wasn’t “confirmed reservation”. I don’t know what the hell is the difference, especially since I already talked to this reservations officer and told me our room was reserved.

Then I was given the excuse that the officer who was supposed to call me back resigned from his position a day before and no one was able to handle my reservation. It was a very lame excuse!!! This gave me a headache because I only found out the night before our business meetings. I stayed up until midnight asking the hotel staff to look for an alternative. To say that I was pissed off is an understatement.

Now, I had another room reserved for two more team members coming on the day of our business meetings. What the management did was upgrade the room to a large one, and then provided us with a whiteboard and a marker, which was at the very least what we needed. This was my only issue with Harold’s Hotel. Otherwise, it could’ve been perfect!

The People: Best Feature of the Hotel


Except for what I experienced with the reservations officer, all the staff and crew of Harold’s Hotel are pretty awesome. They are always all smiles and greets you every time. The bellboys are always fast and ready to assist. They will quickly ask you if there’s anything you need: a taxi, a drink? They didn’t look like they were expecting any tips when providing service, which is a big deal for me. (Which was why we gave one of them P300 before we left)

Harold's Hotel Cebu
At the Rooftop of Harold’s Hotel Cebu

Room service was great too. My son had a poop accident in bed so our sheets were smelly and had a little stain (no matter how little, I cannot force myself to lie on it!). We called for a change of sheets in the afternoon, and they obliged without asking questions. I pretty much watched the guy changed the entire linen, and he did so quickly and efficiently. He even asked if there’s anything else we need before leaving.

The people at the reception were nice and easy to talk to. If we needed anything, they are quick to provide service and information. All in all, Harold’s Hotel did a great job in hiring and training their people.

Harold’s Hotel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars


Even with the glitch with the business room reservation, I still loved staying at Harold’s Hotel. In fact, we are even considering going back to Cebu just to have a staycation at Harold’s Hotel! That’s how much we loved it there. If you’d like to try them yourself, you can book here. Though yeah, it’s still not my go-to hotel for business. How about you, have you tried this hotel? Do you have better recommendations for hotels in Cebu City? Comment below!
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