Feeling uninspired? Wise words from top creatives (Rappler.com)

(First published on Rappler.com on February 12, 2014)

Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page
Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – What does it take to live a life less ordinary?

At the recently held Graphika Manila 2014, luminaries from the creative world shared the stage to talk about their creative process, their best work, the mistakes they’ve made, and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

We saw from their individual journeys that whatever the speakers’ backgrounds—whether they hailed from Barcelona or Bacolod, were a newbie or a veteran, worked freelance or in a studio—they all had one thing in common: they openly sought inspiration and designed their lives around what mattered most to them.

You can do it, too—regardless of your profession or passion. Here are 6 ideas to get you going:

1. Commit to your passions. Illustrator and creative director Ash Thorp admitted to coming from “humble beginnings,” and spent a lot of time drawing during his youth because he “didn’t have a lot of toys.

Thorp talked about his “year of complete potential”, during which he endured commutes every day from San Diego to Los Angeles “because L.A. is where the action is; it’s where Hollywood is.” Eventually, he got noticed by Hollywood producers, who commissioned him to do some work for the big-budget remake of Total Recall.

TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp
TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp

Today, Thorp lives back in San Diego with his wife and daughter, enjoying work and life as a freelancer.

His advice to the Graphika Manila 2014 crowd: “When there’s a trend happening, let the trend go [its] way and just be yourself.”

2. “Take your weakness and make it your strength.” New York-based illustrator and designerSara Blake/ZSO grew up near-sighted and with a “googly eye.”

Instead of looking at her near-sightedness as a weakness, Blake found inspiration in the many patterns she could see up close. Although she was a very shy child, Blake found solace in art and used her imagination and connection with nature to stand out from the crowd.

In a recent interview, Blake talked more about her creative journey and how she “embraced” her weaknesses to develop her own unique style.

Telling TheGreatDiscontent.com that she wasn’t the best illustrator when it came to drawing realistically, she said, “Instead, I decided to embrace that I use my instincts to determine what I would abstract and what I would base [on] reality.”

DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake
DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake

Blake tells the Graphika Manila audience, “Free yourself from anyone’s expectations but your own.”

3. Experiment. Learn. Have fun. (Rinse and repeat.) Creativity is the twin sister of experimentation. The more you experiment and learn, the more your mind stretches and makes creativity possible.

Each of the speakers talked about learning new skills, experimenting with new tools, and having fun with the process of discovery. Sara Blake even gave the audience a sneak peek into her creative process, showing time-lapse videos of her Photoshop screenshots.

In designing the typeface for her alias, ZSO, Sara Blake took inspiration from a heart, and joined the Z and the S in order to form an upside-down heart. Peacocks, owls, skulls, flowers, and other natural elements and patterns are also dominant in her work.

WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake
WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake

(READ: Take it from the masters: What art lovers can learn from experts)

4. Seek inspiration everywhere. Would you work with “Designers from Hell”? “Obviously, we’re not from hell,” quipped Teo Guillem and Carlos Pardo from Barcelona-based studio Dvein, but they were such huge fans of the rock band Pantera that they decided to name themselves after the Pantera album Cowboys from Hell. The word Dvein is an acronym for the phrase, DiseñadoresVEnido del INfierno.

“Ideas come from everywhere, from a mix of everything, like the Philippine jeepney,” Dvein said. “Sometimes you don’t know where your ideas will end up.”

ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein
ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein

Meanwhile, for Fil-Am Eugene Gauran, who now works as Design Director of the award-winning, international visual effects studio The Mill, it’s important to “be inspired by different forms of media.” Although working primarily with visual effects and computer graphics, he said that he finds inspiration in design-based forms because “everything starts with design, and you work your way up.”

5. Go ahead and be obsessed with your craft. “Obsession is the secret to an exciting life,” Bacolod-born Filipino designer Isabel Gatuslao said as she related how her “obsession” with typefaces and identity led her to do work for influential people, including interior designer Chat Fores, celebrity stylist Liz Uy, and, very recently, for Nike and NBA royalty Lebron James.

THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao
THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao

Every element must have a reason for being—else, it has no place in a well-designed piece.

Jessica Hische concurred. “As a lettering person, you get more obsessed with the smaller details,” she says. This attention to detail plays a key role in her work. In designing the cover of the book The Circle by Dave Eggers, which examines the issues raised by use of social media, illustrator and letterer Jessica Hische took inspiration from “the interweaving connectivity of social media sites.” The cover, which featured a cleanly beautiful spherical piece featuring interconnected orange links, was cited by the New York Times online as one of the best book covers of 2013.

For professional creatives, what matters to a client is to show work that reflects a clear and insightful strategy, a focused mind, and a clean, disciplined hand.

6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every creative knows that his first draft or study will not be his last.

A simple tip for those who are afraid to get started out of fear of making a mistake? Start with a pencil sketch of your ideas before committing them to ink or a digital rendering. Pencil sketches or doodles get the mind’s creative juices flowing while being clear that “this is just a work in progress.” Plus, it’s easy to erase, making it less painful to undo an error.

Jessica Hische put it another way when she said, “It’s hard to get clients to believe you’re good at something unless you do it over and over.” Make those mistakes. Assess why they happened. Note that for the future.

This applies even if you’re not an artist. Make your ideas real by writing them down, examining them, and consulting the relevant parties.

In creativity, and in life, practice makes perfect – and profitable. – Rappler.com

Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse (Rappler.com)

NOTE: My first major piece for the year was the product of sacrifice, self-awareness, honesty, and a whole lot of lemon juice. THANK YOU to my editors at Rappler for allowing me to share this–and thanks to the many readers who made this one of the “most read” pieces for that cycle!

Sharing an excerpt here 🙂

"Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse": A must-read on Rappler.com! :)
“Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse”: A must-read on Rappler.com! :)

MANILA, Philippines – The Lemon Juice Cleanse, a.k.a. Master Cleanse or the Lemonade Diet, is a 10-day cleanse that involves fasting on all solid foods and drinking only a concoction made of freshly squeezed (or fresh pressed) lemon juice, pure maple syrup (grade B), and cayenne pepper. It was introduced by Stanley Burroughs in 1940 and regained popularity after pop icon Beyoncé Knowles reportedly lost at least 20 lbs. on the cleanse, for her role in Dreamgirls (2006).

A 3-time “survivor” of the cleanse, I first tried it in January 2009 as my way of detoxing after the holidays and preparing myself for a new job. I did it again in 2010 before embarking on the campaign trail; and, just recently, I did it a third time in order to “reboot” my system and get back on the path of health and wellness.

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

This is an excerpt only. Click HERE to read the full post on Rappler.com.

Calling all Ateneo alumni! You can still submit creative work to Heights!

Calling all Ateneo alumni! Do you have creative pieces that have been locked up in your drawers and hidden hard drive folders, waiting to be dusted off and shared with the world? Heights has an open call for submissions until January 4, 2014–and we can still be part of it!

2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details
2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details

Here are the mechanics, taken from the Heights website:

FOR CONTRIBUTIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT

You need not be a Heights member to contribute.

Heights accepts contributions year-round; however, there are deadlines for special issues (e.g. Seniors Folio).

You may contribute more than once.

All submitted and solicited works undergo staff deliberations. Works are published based on merit. The author’s identity is kept confidential.

MECHANICS FOR SUBMISSION

Write SUBMISSION as the subject of your e-mail.

Attach your work to the message. For written works, there are no limitations for the number of pages. Artworks should be in CMYK format with a resolution of 300 dpi. If you feel the need to include an artist’s statement, please do so.

Include a short bio-note or write-up, and your contact details.

SEND YOUR QUERIES AND ARTISTIC AND LITERARY WORKS

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

Disclaimer: I am neither a member nor an alumna of Heights, but I’ve been a fan of their work through the decades and just want to share the message. Please direct your queries to the email addresses above. Thanks!

Mighty Aphrodite (Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia)

NOTE: This is a late post, and I apologize to my editors for not promoting the November 2013 issue of T+L Southeast Asia early enough. But between dealing with the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) plus all the traveling we did in November, there hasn’t been much time to catch our breath!

"Mighty Aphrodite" in Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, November 2013 issueMighty Aphrodite

A young woman in the Philippines has made it her personal mission to save the seas. By Niña Terol-Zialcita

(Published in the November 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia)

Many little girls dream of becoming mermaids. Not too many, though, take the mission to heart.

Philippines-based Anna Oposa is different. Her business card reads “Founder and Chief Mermaid of Save Philippine Seas,” and at the tender age of 25, she has already helped expose a smuggling ring that poached the country’s waters for corals, sea turtles and other precious marine species; started an independent movement to protect aquatic resources across the archipelago; and taken her mission to the international stage as a Young Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum. This woman’s love of the ocean is so deep, all she’s missing are flippers. Here, we dive into her underwater and on-the-ground pursuits.

Which came first—your love of diving or your passion for conserving the environment?

When I was 19, I volunteered in a cleanup dive to be exempted from an exam, and I saw diapers underwater. That’s when I told myself I needed to do more.

The interests complement each other perfectly. I am reminded of what needs to be conserved every time I dive.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, grab a copy of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia’s November 2013 issue.

The November 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia | Click on the image to visit their Facebook page to see more great content and cool promos
The November 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia | Click on the image to visit their Facebook page to see more great content and cool promos

Amanpulo, Visayas Islands among the best of Conde Nast (Rappler.com)

(First published on November 4, 2013) in Rappler.com)

AMANPULO. Paradise in the Sulu Sea. Screen shot from http://www.amanresorts.com/
AMANPULO. Paradise in the Sulu Sea. Screen shot from http://www.amanresorts.com/

[See the original image here]

MANILA, Philippines – Amanpulo, the ultra-exclusive resort located in Pamalican Island in the Sulu Sea, has once again made it to Condé Nast Traveller’s list of Top 100 resorts, hotels and spas in the Readers’ Travel Awards 2013.

The resort was cited among the Top 20 in the Asia & India category, with a numeric rating of 77.88 over 100.

Amanpulo is the only Philippine resort to make it to this year’s Top 100.

According to Condé Nast Traveller, “[Readers] were asked to rate [their] choices according to various criteria, such as service, culture and value for money. From [the] responses, we calculated the average mark on each criterion, and used this to provide the overall satisfaction percentage figure…”

Condé Nast Traveller is one of the world’s leading travel publications, known for its independence and integrity in reviewing travel and hospitality establishments. The poll for the 2013 Readers’ Travel Awards was participated in by 80,000 jetsetters, who cumulatively cast over 1.3 million votes.

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post on Rappler.com.

Diniwid beach: The quiet side of Boracay (Rappler.com)

(First published on November 3, 2013 in Rappler.com)

DINIWID PARADISE. Heaven's painting. All photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita
DINIWID PARADISE. Heaven’s painting. All photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita

I kicked off my flip-flops and dug my feet into the cool, soft sand. It was the first sunny morning in a week of stormy skies and sudden rainshowers, and I wanted to make the most of it. I sipped the warm, sweet taho that I bought from a roving vendor, then I settled my glass snugly into the sand before finding my own sweet spot.

SWEET SPOT. Breakfast by the beach
SWEET SPOT. Breakfast by the beach

In front of me, the high tide was carrying strong waves in a sea of teal and blue. From a distance, I could spy a woman running toward the sea with her dog; in another direction, there were two little boys hopping and crawling on the sand. There seemed to be only a handful of people around me—I was in Boracay Island, yes, yet there were no beach-going throngs, no ugly windbreakers blocking the view, no jarring sounds.

SECRET GETAWAY. A handful of people, no jarring noises
SECRET GETAWAY. A handful of people, no jarring noises

This is how it is in Diniwid Beach, White Beach’s quiet, unassuming “little cousin.”

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post in Rappler.com.

#ThrowbackThursday: Paris in a Hurry (asianTraveler Magazine)

(First published in asianTraveler Magazine in October 2010)

Note: A colleague of mine is traveling to Paris in a couple of weeks, which made me fish out my old Paris booklets and re-open this old published piece. I share it here in case anyone needs tips for getting to know Paris in just 24 short but sweet hours.

PARIS COLLAGE by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
PARIS COLLAGE by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

I have to admit: it was a rather foolish decision to make Paris only a short pit stop between my trip to Prague, Czech Republic, where I had spent a week on a scholarship program, and the French seaside town of La Rochelle, where I was set to make a long-awaited visit to friends. Divided into 20 arrondisements (administrative districts), Paris is certainly a city that takes days—even weeks—to fully explore and enjoy. Even with enough time and cash on your hands, you will never run out of new experiences to savor in the City of Lights.

Still, my itinerary specified that I had less than a full day to enjoy Paris, so with my (broken) luggage in tow and with my spirit resolute to make the most of my Parisian experience, I set off to explore the city like a soldier on a mission.

The must-sees: The Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, the Paris Opera House, and the Musée Louvre

The Paris must-sees | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
The Paris must-sees | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

I planned my trip around courtesy calls to the royalty of Parisian monuments. From my hotel in rue Cambronne (on the light-green Nation-Charles de Gaulle Étoile metro line) I took a long, leisurely walk to the École Militaire, the military school whose walls still bear deep, visible scars from the Second World War. The école sits right across Champ de Mars, a large, expansive park from where you can get an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. Although named after the Roman god of war, the park is tourist- and family- friendly and also boasts a large Wall of Peace.

After ogling at the Eiffel Tower and snapping away with my camera for about an hour or so, I found my way to the Invalides metro station to take the train to Avenue des Champs-Élysées (where I was lucky enough to catch the tail- end of the Tour de France). The strip is also the city’s shopping district, home to many of the world’s most famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Maison Guerlain, Zara, Adidas, Benetton, Sephora, and even the Disney Store, among many others. during the summer months, almost all on sale-up to 70% off, during the summer months. Right at its end sits the tall and proud Arc de Triomphe, which Napoleon had commissioned in 1806 to celebrate the victories of his army. Completed in 1836, it had once been called by the French literary great Victor Hugo as “a heap of glory.”

Another must-see in Paris is the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart), commissioned by the National Assembly in 1873, supposedly in commemoration of the 58,000 lives that were lost during the uprising of the Paris Commune from 1870 to 1871. Sitting grandly at the top of the butte (hill) of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, the Sacré-Coeur is a majestic testament to the beauty of Romano- Byzantine architecture and looks even more stunning and awe-inspiring at night. From the top of the hill, and aided by the light of the full moon, we also saw a beautiful view of the lit-up Eiffel Tower, which sparkles every hour at night until 2AM in the summer (1PM in the winter).

Getting to Montmartre usually involves taking the metro all the way to the Abbesses (green line) or the Anvers (blue line) metro station, by the northernmost part of the city, and then taking the funiculaire (an uphill tram) or walking up Montmartre’s famed steps. I was lucky enough, to have some friends fetch me from Champs-Élysées and drive me up the hill, saving me a lot of time and foot stress.

It was already on the next day when I had the opportunity to walk around by myself and take a look at the Paris Opera House and the Louvre. The Opera House (which is a main stop of the Roissybus from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and can also be reached via the Opera stop on the pink or lavender metro lines) was inaugurated under France’s Third Republic. Its main auditorium features a ceiling painted by Chagall, and its deep underground lake, discovered much to the chagrin of its architect, Charles Garnier, was one of the inspirations for Gaston Leroux’s immortal masterpiece, Phantom of the Opera.

From there, I took the pink metro line to meet the jewel of my Parisian trip, the Musée Louvre. Although friends had warned me about how you can lose yourself in there for days (and still not finish viewing all of its exhibitions!) and I had only a few hours left before my trip to La Rochelle, I could not resist at least taking a sneak peak. The Louvre was built as a fortress in the late 12th century, converted into a museum in 1793, and is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the ancient Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, among countless other masterpieces. It also houses collections of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, as well as collections of ancient Oriental, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Islamic art pieces.

A tip from the locals: to fully enjoy the Louvre, you must have enough time on your hands to spend an entire day there, maybe even two or three. The Museum offers free entrance every first Sunday of the month. Just be ready to spend hours just falling in line at the entrance!

Parisian slices of life | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
Parisian slices of life | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

What to eat and buy on a budget: art prints and chocolates, breads and cheese

TRAVELING ON A STUDENT'S BUDGET? Here are some inexpensive treats you'll find in Paris | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
TRAVELING ON A STUDENT’S BUDGET? Here are some inexpensive treats you’ll find in Paris | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

Since I was in Paris on a student’s budget, my only real shopping agenda was to buy enough art prints for my modest art collection and enough souvenirs and chocolates to keep the folks at home happy. The night market at Montmartre revealed lots of great finds, with art and souvenir shops lined up side by side. Prints of masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Klimt, Van Gogh, and other great artists can be bought for as little as €3 each; replicas of the Eiffel Tower can be bought for as little as €1. You can also have your portrait done in just 20 minutes by the street artists that line the square.

Ironically, it was while at the Avenue de L’Opera, one of the most expensive strips in the city, where I was able to buy my prize catches of the trip. Within the Opera metro station, somewhere between the ticket offices and the magazine stands, stands a small shop that sells beautiful bags and other genuine leather goods for the fraction of the price at the branded boutiques. There I bought a large, 20-kilo piece of luggage (to replace my broken luggage with) and a beautiful leather bag for well under €100. I also stumbled upon La Cure Gourmand, a specialty candy and chocolate shop that won the Grand Prix Salon International Paris in 1997. (Want a sweet surprise? Try their “chocolate-flavored olives”!) Another great shop was Bretano’s, home of more art prints and specialty paper products, where I found a beautiful replica of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss for only €99. (Sadly, I had to forego the purchase because of my already- overloaded suitcase.)

One other thing I love about Paris is the fact that you can find a chocolaterie, boulangerie, or patisserie practically at every street corner and, sometimes, just within striking distance of each other. My favorite European boulangerie, Paul, is found throughout the city and offers a wide variety of savory and sweet breads to satisfy any palate. (A must-try: the sesame baguette with camembert!) The breads are also filling enough to satisfy hungry tourists on a tight budget.

Even with limited time and budget, I made the most of my day in Paris by soaking up the sights and taking with me as much as my senses (and my wallet!) could allow. That experience proved that anything is possible in just 24 hours–if you open yourself up and allow the world to come in.

PHOTO ESSAY: TRAVEL - Where are you headed next? | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
PHOTO ESSAY: TRAVEL – Where are you headed next? | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

10 Ways to Enjoy Russia (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

(Published on October 19, 2013 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

10 Ways to Enjoy Russia by Niña Terol-Zialcita, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Photo of the Moscow Kremlin courtesy of the Russian Embassy
10 Ways to Enjoy Russia by Niña Terol-Zialcita, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Photo of the Moscow Kremlin courtesy of the Russian Embassy

To the intrepid traveler in search of exotic sites and adventures, Russia is the perfect starting point for the trip of a lifetime.

Aside from being the largest country in the world, spanning two continents and covering 1/7 of the earth’s total land area, Russia is also home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural and manmade wonders on the planet. (Some of the most widely televised events in the world will be held there, such as the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in November and the July 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.)

If the mere thought of navigating your way through this vast territory overwhelms you, fear not. Here are some must-sees and dos to get you started.

Winter Palace | Photo courtesy of the Russian Embassy
Winter Palace | Photo courtesy of the Russian Embassy
St. Basil's Cathedral (courtesy of the Russian Embassy)
St. Basil’s Cathedral | Photo courtesy of the Russian Embassy

This is an excerpt only. READ THE FULL PIECE through the Inquirer website, HERE.

In remembrance: 10 Ways Bohol Feeds Your Heart and Soul (Click the City)

The beautiful Philippine province of Bohol was struck this morning, 15 October 2013, by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that left scores dead and badly damaged a number of government, historical, and tourism structures. One of the most badly hit was Baclayon Church, completed in 1727 and considered one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.

Another popular landmark that was destroyed is the viewing deck of the world-famous Chocolate Hills in Carmen, the epicenter of the Bohol quake. It was heartbreaking to see the state of the viewing deck, and to know that the people of the Philippines–not just the people of Bohol–have lost a number of cultural and historical treasures around the Philippines because of the quake.

As my way of mourning for Bohol’s loss, and to commemorate the enchanting beauty that Bohol so selflessly shared with everyone who entered her doors, I’m sharing here excerpts of my retro travel post on Bohol.

10 Ways Bohol Feeds Your Body and Soul

(Published on January 6, 2012 in ClicktheCity.com)

Cafe Lawis' charming facade, behind the Dauis Church (Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
Cafe Lawis’ charming facade, behind the Dauis Church (Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita

4. Café Lawis: Perfect for soulful coffee. conversations and romantic sunset strolls. As we wandered into the picturesque, tree-lined street right behind Dauis Church in Panglao, we chanced upon a 19th-century-inspired structure and realized that Café Lawis is one of those not-yet-popular pit stops that reflect the true, quiet charm of Bohol. Serving a curiosity-inducing fusion of European and Filipino flavors (Pork humba Panini or freshly baked Tsokolate eh soufflé cake, anyone?), its interiors show Old World-Filipiniana details as well as a showcase of Dauis life and Boholano handicrafts. The real treat of this destination, though, is its expansive garden that opens up to a breathtaking view of the sea. The garden’s focal point is a large acacia tree whose leaves form a laced canopy, and—since we went there in December—was adorned with rectangular capiz lamps that gave the effect of large fireflies in an enchanted forest. It is best viewed at around sunset, with your loved ones (or at least the memory of them) by your side.

A romantic twilight view at the garden behind Cafe Lawis (Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
A romantic twilight view at the garden behind Cafe Lawis (Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
Dauis Church Complex {Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
Dauis Church Complex {Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita

5. The churches of Bohol: Culturally, historically divine. Bohol’s many churches are not only testaments of the island province’s deep connection with the Christian faith, they are also, in themselves, cultural gems that give us a glimpse of the Philippines’ architectural past. The Baclayon Church, for instance, is considered one of the oldest churches in the Philippines and was completed in 1727. Its main structure was built with coral stones that had been crushed and made into building blocks, while its cuadro paintings were made in 1859 by a famous Filipino painter, Liberato Gatchalian. The Dauis Church, meanwhile, has evolved from light materials such as nipa into its current Gothic-inspired structure, and features a ceiling that has been painted to give the illusion of having three-dimensional coffer designs. The Dauis Church is also home to “Mama Mary’s Well”, a deep well located right below the church’s altar, from which Holy Water may be obtained and bought for a small donation.

A portion of the Baclayon Church which, according to locals, shows a miraculous image of Padre Pio... Do you see it? (Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
A portion of the Baclayon Church which, according to locals, shows a miraculous image of Padre Pio… Do you see it? (Bohol, Philippines) | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post HERE.

For updates and details on how to help the earthquake victims, follow the hashtag #earthquakePH on Twitter.