Five years after my first visit to Laperal White House in Baguio City, there was a movie (which I haven’t seen), an iWitness Documentary and thousands of searches referred to my old post. There were even several invites to guest or talk about the house and a number of inquiries from researchers. I guess Filipino love horror stories. Something to scare themselves sometimes. It was only five years after when I got to revisit the place again. Now open to the public as a Bamboo Art Exhibit, visitors can now indulge themselves and unravel the mystery of this famous White House.
Manila was dumped by more than a month’s rain in August, finding it a bit difficult to go around. The unusual habagat (southwest winds) rains caused major floods in the Metro but that didn’t dampen our eagerness to travel. Once abated, a window opened to travel to Kalinga, a province I have longed wanted to visit, not only to see the famous mambabatok Fang-Od (Whang-od), but the curiosity to see the land of the head-hunters.
June is always an exciting time as I get to join and become a part-time guide to a Jim Cline Photography Tour in the Philippines conducted by international photographer Karl Grobl. It’s nice to know that the Philippines is gaining ground as an international photo tour destination. They were telling me it was unexpected that the Philippines Tour was filling up fast. And this year we had a full house so it was an exciting 6-day North Luzon leg from Vigan to Sagada (via Cervantes) then to Baguio and Manila. It’s great to be with different photographers and see their photographic styles and vision.
“I knew that man during my younger years. When I see that bust, I can still imagine him speaking to me” said Pastor Hermie, our guide for that day as we ventured to the farther south regions of Culion Island on a motorbike. He was referring to the grotesque bust figure greeting visitors of the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archive after a flight of stairs to the 2nd floor. Just the thought that the figure was an actual leper sent a chill on my spine as I imagine his mummified figure. Stories such as this is common in Culion Island, whose present inhabitants are one way or another are 2nd or 3rd generation descendants of the thousands of leprosy patients who lived on the island. Its hard not to talk about the leprosy stigma that has befallen Culion when visiting the island and a good starting point to learn more about it is a visit to the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archive within the General Hospital compound.
I met a few travelers who likes to collect items they find meaningful and unique when visiting places. Some would collect coins, some ref-magnets, others would be a coffee shop mug. For Atty Dominador Buhain, co-owner of the popular text books and law books printer, REX Bookstore, his fascination with books led him to keep any literature he would encounter throughout his travel across 211 countries in the world and the 76 provinces in the Philippines. To house his collection, he built what he calls the Marikina Book Museum and Ethnology Museum. It certainly piqued my interest when I found out about it. Being a book lover myself, I’m interested to see what he has on his collection.
There’s a curious little icon on the map of an old fort. It meant that there’s a historical site, sitting on the north eastern side of El Nido, just right smack in the town of Sibaltan. I would ask some people in El Nido town but not many people know about the significance except my landlord where I’m staying. “There’s a Balay Cuyonon Museum there you should see. It tells all about the history of the place”. When we got settled in Sibaltan’s Guard House, our caretaker, Bulanday led us to the grounds of the museum situated by the beach.
When in Melaka, it’s not enough to admire the many shophouses lining up in Jonker Walk. There are several shophouses turned museums in Melaka that it’s worth walking inside one of them to get a deeper insight on Melaka’s history and culture. One that I would highly recommend visiting is the Cheng Ho Museum found near the tail end of Lorong Hang Jebat before the bridge. With a floor area spanning 55,000 square feet, occupying about 8 units of old shophouses dating back to 1786 and three floors of artefacts, it is considered as the largest museum in Melaka.