Late last year, I attended Thunderbird Resort’s bloggers tour with a few of my friends. The tour was comprised of, The Higantes Festival Parade, Balaw Balaw art gallery visit, site tour of the Rizal’s Petroglyphs and lastly the relaxing overnight stay at Thunderbird Resort and Casino.
Though it was tiring, the Higantes Parade was a lot of fun. To meet the local people of Rizal was a blast for the people are warm and friendly. Higantes Festival, also known as the Feast of San Clemente, is celebrated every November 23 in the town of Angono, Rizal. This is a major festival in honor of San Clemente, the patron saint of fishermen. His image is carried by male devotees during a procession accompanied by “pahadores” (devotees dressed in colorful local costumes or fishermen’s clothes, wearing wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles, fish nets, traps, etc.) and “higantes” (paper-mâché giants measuring 10-12 feet in height and 4-5 feet in diameter). This street event ends in a procession to Laguna de Bay until the image is brought back to its sanctuary. (Reference:http://en.wikipilipinas.org)
The Higantes Parade was followed by a sumptuous meal with a glympse of the Native art of Rizal. The BALAW BALAW Specialty Restaurant is located at 16 Doña Justa Subd. Ph. I Angono, Rizal. Balaw Balaw offers exotic cuisine like Breaded and deep fried frog legs and Crickets as appetizers.
The venue, in itself, is nothing grand. There are numerous subdivisions – the main hall, which can hold approximately 100 diners, a conference center good for 30 people, and another private area for 10 or more. On the tables are miniature versions of the higantes (giants) paraded in town during the “Higantes Festival”, their arms stretched to contain the messages and signatures of past clients; and all around are masks (they are for sale, the smallest ones usually costing P150) also signed by past visitors and then hanged for posterity by the venue’s proprietors.
At the back portion (past a mini-mini-bamboo forest) is a museum, highlighting the works of the owner and the local artists (they aren’t cheap, I tell you). The gathering of artworks continues to the second floor, which houses more artworks (painting, carvings, et cetera) and religious artifacts. This addition to the venue makes waiting for the orders to arrive definitely interesting. (Reference:http://outragemag.com)
The trip to Balaw Balaw was shortly followed by a site seeing stop at Rizal’s Petroglyphs. The Angono Petroglyphs is the oldest known work of art in the Philippines. There are 127 human and animal figures engraved on the rockwall dating back to 3000 BC. These inscriptions clearly show stylized human figures, frogs and lizards along with other designs that may have depicted other interesting figures but erosion may have caused it to become indistinguishable.
Although it sits along the boundaries of Angono, Binangonan and Antipolo of the province of Rizal, this heritage site was discovered by the late National Artist of the Philippines awardee Carlos V. Francisco in 1965. Since then, some rock carvings have been damaged due to neglect and vandalism. In 1973, by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260, it was declared as a national cultural treasure by the Philippine government. During that time, a team led by the National Museum of the Philippines started archaeological site conservation and site development of the petroglyphs in which a mini-museum, viewdeck and stone path among others were constructed. Surveys and a seismographic recording were conducted to assess also the effects of a quarrying operation a few kilometers from the site.
The preservation and development of the Angono Petroglyphs is a collective effort of the National Museum of the Philippines, the Department of Tourism,World Monuments Fund, American Express and a Philippine real estate company. (Reference:http://en.wikipedia.org)
And finally, our last stop. Thunderbird Resort and Casino.
We had a special dinner prepared for us by the Pool bar. And before we went to bed a 15 minute complimentary massage was offered to soothe and prepare our body for another busy day. At exactly 8am we had our buffet breakfast at Koi Restaurant (which we enjoyed so much) and later on followed by a short trip around the Ball Room area and the Casino Lounge. After the playing some complimentary games at the Casino we were privileged to take a few hours of rest and Lunch was served, again at Koi Restaurant.
The meal was exquisitely prepared. Even though we were still full from our Breakfast Buffet, the food looks so appetizing that we didn’t think twice and took a feast on everything that was served.
Over all the Tour was awesome. A big thanks to the Management and Staff of Thunderbird Resort for giving us a warm welcome and treating us like King and Queens. Food at Koi Restaurant is to die for and staying at the hotel for a night is not enough. I would definitely go back and bring my family along (hopefully, I can get a discount 🙂 ). Make your reservation now.
You may contact them through:
T: (+632) 651.68.88
F: (+632) 651.6893
M: (+63) 917.586.5177