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Built in 1938 and officially known as The First Narrows Bridge, the graceful suspension bridge spans the First Narrows of Burrard Inlet. The bridge heads towards The Lions Peaks, hence the more popular name “Lions Gate Bridge”. Every major city deserves at least a few days of exploration but if you’re tight on time here’s my guide to help you enjoy 24 hours in Canada’s West Coast paradise of Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is a city that celebrates great global food, sophisticated entertainment,

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Amichilu: A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time
Local and family recipes keep fond memories of this charming rustic place alive
A retreat in many ways, Amichilu is a family compound situated on a hill just off Matabungkay beach, 15 kilometers away from Nasugbu and half an hour’s drive from Calatagan. On this fair day, the 10 a.m. sun drenches every surface it touches, while brisk cooling breezes – the amihan – caress the various fruit trees which murmur the same thing: the temptation of a pre-lunch nap. During our visit, the residing family is blessed with members from three generations visiting for the week.

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An amazing religious complex, two hours from Cebu City, is visited by scores of pilgrims attracted by reports of miracles and divine intervention

Magnificent and colossal are two words that aptly describe the Simala shrine in Sibonga, Cebu.  Established in 1998, it was built by the congregation of Marian Monks of Eucharistic Adoration. They brought the Marian image from Pampanga, which was believed to have wrought miracles during the height of an epidemic that snatched the lives of many in the community.   
A bronze marker on the site reads: “This crown structure is memorial of the victorious and powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother through the Penitential Rosary Walk in 1998, against the killer epidemic that struck the place, where several lives of poor children and infants had died (sic).

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Discover  friendly behemoths and marine life as small as a fingernail in the world-class dive hubs of Moalboal and Oslob

Cebu is home to a number of world-class destinations that figure high on the list of passionate scuba divers. Among these dive hubs, Moalboal and Oslob.

In 2011, when I was managing the luxury live aboard yacht S/Y Philippine Siren, I discovered somewhat by accident a small municipality right in the middle of the Tañon Straight.

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Benedicto — BenCab — Cabrera, the Philippines’ most popular painter, was conferred the Order of National Artist for Visual Arts in 2006. After living in London for 17 years, he decided to return to the Philippines for good in 1986, settling in Baguio. Many years later, he would move to Tuba, Benguet, on a farm on Asin Road. An artist with an intense love for the artistry of life, he assembled his formidable collection of paintings , indigenous artifacts and arts and crafts into the BenCab  museum, a unique attraction that has become a highlight of visits to this part of Northern Luzon.

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Restoration of the classic Casa Vallejo charms old patrons and enchants first-time guests

Built in 1909, one of the most distinctive historical and aesthetic landmarks of Baguio City is the Casa Vallejo.  First known as Dormitory 4, it housed American employees from the Bureau of Public Works who helped build the city. Then in 1927, a Spanish immigrant married to a Filipina leased the property, renovating it into Baguio’s first hotel.

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LOCAL AND FAMILY RECIPES KEEP FOND MEMORIES OF THIS CHARMING RUSTIC PLACE ALIVE. A retreat in many ways, Amichilu is a family compound situated on a hill just off Matabungkay beach, 15 kilometers away from Nasugbu and half an hour’s drive from Calatagan. On this fair day, the 10 a.m. sun drenches every surface it touches, while brisk cooling breezes – the amihan – caress the various fruit trees which murmur the same thing: the temptation of a pre-lunch nap.

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In Bhutan, Gross National Happiness supercedes GNP, cigarettes are illegal, murder is unheard of and no one smashes a bug because it could be their grandmother

My stomach turns to soft Jell-O as I catch a glimpse of earth’s highest peaks through the cloud cover. I quickly take a photo from my window seat hoping it doesn’t disappear just yet. The clouds are fluid this February morning. A soft voice on the PA announces our descent into Paro Airport. The pilot maneuvers the Airbus along a deep, narrow valley, banking crazily near precipices close enough to touch. I hold my breath. The landing strip is nowhere in sight.

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A mountain spring tumbles down the hillside, cutting a path through highland rain forest. A trail crosses the water via a hanging bridge. Ferns and bromeliads,  home to creatures wild and wonderful, fill the spaces between pine trees. This is Baguio primeval.

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More adventures await intrepid travelers beyond the City of Pines

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Most Filipinos are unaware of the district’s cultural and historical wealth. Follow this quintessential guide and be amazed. Founded in 1594, Binondo was created to encourage more Chinese to convert to Catholicism. Otherwise, they would have had to live under constant surveillance in the ghetto across Manila known as the Parian. By the 19th century, it had emerged as the center of commerce for the entire colony. From here, reformers and reedom fighters emerged, fighting to win our independence from, first, the Spaniards, and then the Americans.

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THE NATURAL WAY IS PRACTICED AND PROMOTED IN THIS BRITISH FAMILY FARM. “I had a little garden back in England, but that was it,” he says. “It’s therapeutic obviously, but also for getting some ingredients for the kitchen. I always had a small plot of land for growing vegetables like carrots, that sort of thing.” Irene, on the other hand, admits she had little experience in cooking. What the couple had for sure though, was the firm determination to pursue their dream of leaving the city and its stressful pace, and settling in a nice, quiet farm. And so, five years ago, they found the property they wanted and moved in.

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A  slew of trophy projects is expected to cement Cebu’s reputation as a metropolis worthy of rivaling Manila as an investment magnet.

Joel Binamira, a banker-turned-food entrepreneur, observes: “Cebu is not just the Philippines’ second major city. It’s now a commercial and lifestyle hub in its own right.”

Taking Cebu to a whole new development level is South Road Properties (SRP), the 300-hectare reclaimed site along the city’s east coast and a short distance from the central business district.

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It’s easy to believe their origins are extraterrestrial but Peruvians scoff at this preposterous idea. They are proud descendants of ancient civilizations that had a profound knowledge of construction, agriculture, sciences and the arts. But in the 16th century, a mere 180 Spaniards in metal armor annihilated 16,000 Incans. Spears and axes were no match for the firearms held by these barbarians. After a humiliating defeat, smallpox further decimated their ranks. There was no defense against this invisible arsenal. The collapse of this great empire was complete.

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A unique three-day festival earlier this year helped  showcase native traditions at their most colorful best

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The Churches of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur

Living reminders of a colonial past ensure an unforgettable road trip

Both Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte are extremely popular tourist destinations. Their infrastructure is very good, native delicacies abound and a variety of local handicrafts provide memorable souvenirs.

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The Ivatans of Batanes live life in tune  with the  seasons, and a hardy, forthright, and friendly people emerges Beside me on the prow of the ferry is an attractive young guide. She listens politely as I recall my first experience crossing the Sabtang channel 22 years ago. Back then, it was a small, roofless falowa belonging to the Department of Public Works and Highways. The falowa, a round-bottomed boat of the Ivatans, bobs and rolls with the waves. Near me was a cow attempting to break free of its bindings. It was late February, and the swirling waters whipped up by the amihan winds were mountains of froth. Nothing was visible except for monster swells ready to engulf the boat.

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Iconic Kennon Road provides geology students the perfect platform for field laboratory activities

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FIVE CAPTIVATING PLACES TO VISIT IN THIS HILLY PROVINCE. Less than two hours away from busy Metro Manila, Batangas has always been considered a convenient getaway for stressed locals. A verdant hilly province with 31 municipalities, Batangas boasts important peaks such as the famous Taal Volcano, Mount Makulot, Mount Talamitan, Mount Pico de Loro, Mount Batulao, Mount Manabo and Mount Daguldol. It is also blessed with excellent diving spots including Anilao in Mabini, Sombrero Island in Tingloy, Ligpo Island in San Luis, Matabungkay in Lian, Punta Fuego in Nasugbu, Calatagan and Laiya in San Juan.

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Serving Old World charm and slow-cooked cuisine, the award-winning restaurant  occupies one of Baguio’s most storied structures.

In 2009, Roebling Hotels was awarded the building and property that used to be the Casa Vallejo Inn.  The previous occupant was the DENR, which moved in after the family of the late Salvador Vallejo vacated the premises and the main building containing the Casa Vallejo Inn was left unused for more than a decade. The DENR offices occupied the “newer” annex where Mt. Cloud bookstore, the North Haven spa, and the Cinematheque are now located.  With plans to restore the building and put up a 24-room hotel, Roebling invited Mitos Benitez Yñiguez, of Mario’s fame, to run the restaurant.

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