Why Sorsogon is today’s cool option

ROUGH IT UP AND SURF, OR JUST CHILL IN CHIC SIAMA. DISCOVER IT BEFORE IT GETS BORA-HOT

 
At least once in your life, as a Filipino, you should experience the sight of landing at Legazpi airport, Albay, and see the perfect cone that is Mayon volcano. It is a majestic picture—one you’ve seen so often in textbooks, postcards and other tourist stuff, but it’s quite different when you’re descending on it and it’s ascending before you.

That sight greeted us last Holy Week as we went for the second time to Siama Hotel in Sorsogon. Siama is a one-hour drive away from Legazpi airport.

So beautifully designed, with classy accommodations, good food, Siama makes a good base when you’re in Sorsogon. From there, you can see the sights of this very verdant destination and enjoy its beaches.

You’ve been to Bohol, Cebu, and your kids shoo you away from Boracay (especially if it’s “Laboracay”), so that makes Sorsogon a very attractive option for the rest of summer. It’s relatively unexplored and unexploited.

Thanks to our good friend, leading architect and designer (Movement 8 fame) Milo Naval, we first ventured out to Sorsogon about two years ago to see the boutique hotel Naval had conceptualized, designed and furnished, and which he and his lean and pretty wife Kat have been running.

Modern tropical

With less than 30 rooms, Siama has a modern tropical feel which has been lauded in features/shoots here in Lifestyle, Cocoon design magazine and other local and foreign glossies. Naval, after all, has won acclaim for his modern Filipino furniture and interior designs that have brought pride to the country in various showcases, from international exhibitions abroad to the Apec receptions last November.

At Siama, native materials such as rattan and abaca, and native wood, are cast in contemporary lines, creating a symmetry that is very clean and elegant—be it as rattan sliding doors or ottomans covered in solihiya pattern or in the butaka that greets the guests entering the lobby.

The lobby that also has the social and dining area has an open-plan design, like a tropical home should be—hardly no wall between the outdoor and the indoor. But just brace for the typhoon. And Sorsogon has its share of battering typhoons.

Home cooking

Although there’s an a la carte menu, the guests welcome the buffet at the lobby/dining room or in the social hall, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dishes are home-cooked, typical of the coconut-rich food of the region, yet they have been tweaked a little to suit a city slicker’s palate, from the escabeche pampano to different native vegetables (sigarilyas, kangkong, to name a few) cooked in coconut milk to the popular lechon kawali and inasal chicken. Even the desserts are sumptuous but healthy, like sweetened kamote.

One can just chill in the boutique hotel, in the pool, or in a vast divan in the garden.

Or, from Siama, guests can venture out to Donsol, more than an hour’s drive away, for the world-famous “butanding,” or enjoy the beaches.

We went for lunch on Pagol beach, with a side tour to Banao Port on the way to the beach. Siama set up an ihaw-ihaw seafood/chicken/liempo lunch on the beach. One can swim and paddle-board. It’s only a 30-minute scenic drive away from the hotel.

Sorsogon has a lure to the young and fitness junkies. It’s a  surfing destination. Siama has a tour package to Gubat, a surfer’s paradise, where the community members—and they are young and many—can teach you how to surf.

Among them is 12-year-old surfing champion Vea Estrellado (Philippine Wahine Classic 2014, first runner-up of  Majestic Surfing Cup 2014, second-runner-up Aurora Surfing Challenge 2015, among other surfing events in the country).

There are old churches to tour, which we did last Holy Week: the Annunciation church and San Roque parish in Bacon, and the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Sorsogon City.

Easily, Sorsogon can be the next hot destination, and this summer is your chance to enjoy Sorsogon before the crowds come.

Follow the author on Instagram  @ThelmaSiosonSanJuan

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Missing Sorsogon principal found dead, minor suspects nabbed – See more at: http://bicoltoday.com/2016/05/17/missing-sorsogon-principal-found-dead-minor-suspects-nabbed/#sthash.vwe5foYk.dpuf

Christian ‘Qris’ de los Angeles. Bicol Today

SORSOGON CITY, 17May2016 – Police authorities Monday evening found the body of the missing high school principal in a canal at Bacon District, this city.

The body was discovered after police apprehended 5 suspects, all minors, and revealed that they dumped the body of Christian de los Angeles, the missing high school principal, in a canal at Sitio Gabao, Barangay San Roque.

A follow up operation Monday night by city police found the body in advanced state of decomposition.

Police authorities were looking for the chop-chop, or modified motorcycle of the victim as important lead in solving the case, and the lawmen discovered the suspects were using the motorcycle.

The body of the victim will undergo autopsy. Police is now conducting follow-up investigation of the case.

De los Angeles was reported missing by his parents last May 4, but search for the missing principal had remained unsolved, which had triggered wild speculation in the city.

The principal’s parents officially reported him missing to the police, prompting the city law enforcement unit to launch a manhunt and dig out more leads in solving the case.  The police manhunt led to the apprehension of the suspects Monday evening.

Original article is published at Bicol Today on March 17, 2016.

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DepEd Sorsogon, other units have new officials

LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Education (DepEd) Sorsogon Schools Division Office (SDO) has new top officials headed by Dr. Loida N. Nidea, CESO V, as the schools division superintendent (SDS).

Joseph John J. Perez, DepEd Sorsogon SDO information officer, last week said Nidea came from DepEd Iriga City whose personnel even accompanied her during the recent turnover ceremony.

During the same occasion, Dr. Ma. Jeany T. Postrado also officially assumed as the new assistant schools division superintendent (ASDS) of DepEd Sorsogon, replacing Dr. Fatima D. Buen who is now assigned in Albay province, Perez said.

Postrado was formerly assigned in the province of Masbate.

Nidea replaced Dr. Danilo E. Despi who was promoted as assistant regional director for Region IV-B or Mimaropa, where the regional director is Dr. Lorna Dig-Dino, who is also from Sorsogon.

Nidea hails from Legazpi City while Postrado is a native of Catanduanes.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bernie Despabiladero, who was the former chief of the Curriculum Implementation Division of DepEd Sorsogon, has also been promoted as officer-in-charge ASDS of the province of Catanduanes.

Also present during the turnover ceremony were Dr. Freddie Gavarra, the former ASDS of Iriga City who is now assigned in Camarines Norte, and Dr. Jose Doncillo, the SDS of Masbate province.

Both Gavarra and Doncillo are natives of Sorsogon, Perez said.

The original article is published at InterAksyion on January 25  2016.

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How Safe is Sorsogon City Compared to Davao

And I thought Davao is safe! Check this out.

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Camp Salvador Escudero Sr., the provincial headquarters for the Philippine National Police. Back in the old days, it was known as Cuartel.

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Storm Surge Hazard Map: Sorsogon City (Poblacion)

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Hazard map for storm surge in downtown Sorsogon City. Screenshot from the ARKO apps (DOST’s Project NOAH).

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Storm Surge Hazard Map: Bacon Poblacion

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Hazard map for storm surge in Bacon (Poblacion). Screenshot from the ARKO apps (DOST’s Project NOAH).

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Loida Nicolas Lewis and Her Love of Lobster

The philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis grew up by the sea, in Sorsogon, in the Philippines, listening to her father bargain with fishermen for sapsap (ponyfish) and “fresh shrimp, still jumping.” But the first time she tasted lobster was at Max’s Kansas City, the artist and punk refuge in downtown Manhattan.

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This was in 1969. Andy Warhol may have been in the back room. No matter: Ms. Lewis had eyes only for her date and soon-to-be husband, Reginald F. Lewis, and the lobster. It cost $4.95. She ate it down to the shells.

Mr. Lewis, a corporate lawyer who would go on to be hailed as the first African-American to head a billion-dollar company, watched her, mesmerized. (His life is chronicled in the book “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?”) He didn’t fancy lobster himself. “Too much work,” recalled Ms. Lewis, now 72.

Ever since, Ms. Lewis has served lobster to family and friends visiting from the Philippines, to share her discovery. Her Fifth Avenue apartment, overlooking Central Park, is equipped with silver picks and crackers, for wresting every scrap of flesh, and disposable plastic bibs bearing a life-size image of the creature about to be devoured.

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A former immigration lawyer, Ms. Lewis helped found the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund andmultiplied the profits of her husband’s business, TLC Beatrice International, after his death, at age 50, in 1993.

She has never prepared a lobster. For this she relies on Delia Juarez, a native of Iloilo City in the Philippines, who presents it simply broiled, with a finger bowl’s worth of melted butter and half a lemon, carved into a flower.

Ms. Lewis did cook for her husband and their two daughters when they were little. “I had three dishes,” she said. “Fried chicken, pork chop, sinigang” (the last one a distinctively sour Filipino soup). For her grandchildren, she occasionally slips a tablespoon of brown sugar into spaghetti sauce or bastes ribs in hoisin and sautés broccoli with lobster sauce (which contains no lobster).

“I cook pretty good,” she said. “They eat it all.”

Her father, a lumber and furniture magnate, wanted her to enter politics. “Maybe congresswoman, then mayor,” Ms. Lewis said with a laugh. When she was 7, he built and named a movie theater in their hometown after her, hoping that voters would remember “Loida” in a future election.

Years later, when she passed the bar exam, he sent her on a round-the-world tour that culminated in New York, where she was supposed to while away a few months while her sister studied art history at Columbia.

Instead, bored (“You don’t sit around”), Ms. Lewis found a job at a civil rights organization. Her boss set her up on a blind date with Mr. Lewis. (Her father’s hopes were not entirely dashed: Ms. Lewis’s sister, Imelda Nicolas, is a cabinet-level secretary in the government of PresidentBenigno S. Aquino III.)

At a recent lunch, Ms. Lewis efficiently dismantled her lobster and encouraged guests to try tomalley, the green minerally paste inside the carapace. She said, “At any dinner the fish head is reserved for me.”

Afterward, Ms. Juarez handed out Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars. Ms. Lewis wasted no time. Within minutes, only the stick was left.

Original article is published at The New York Times on December 7, 2015,

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