Friday, July 29, 2016

#LifeInTheBestLight: The Cavite Food and Heritage Tour with Transitions Optical

A full day tour at the heart of the Philippine revolution that witnessed the birth of a new republic, and a taste of its rich culinary heritage, experienced in a new light...  

The Cavite Food and Heritage Tour with Transitions Optical led by noted food writer, book designer, and magazine editor, Guillermo "Ige" Ramos; and event host, speaker, and entrepreneur, RJ Ledesma, retraces the key milestones and places of the revolution along with a tasty sampling of local cuisine, each one intertwined for a glimpse of the Filipino experience. And seeing history up close with Transitions Lenses made it all real and personal for a new appreciation of local history. 

During the the tour, each participant was supplied with prescription Transitions Lenses, fitted to match our individual specifications. With Transitions Lenses, the full day tour was transformed into a total sensory experience, with perfect visual clarity in all light conditions. The chameleon-like quality of Transitions Lenses adapts automatically to the shifting light, both indoors and out, daytime and night. Outdoors, Transitions Lenses blocks out 100% of harmful UV light and excessive glare, reducing both eye strain and fatigue.

Indoors, Transitions Lenses' deep tint clears up for perfect clarity, and seeing #LifeInTheBestLight. It's what makes Transitions Lenses essential to any adventure, changing with the shifting light conditions for optimal clarity.

Guillermo "Ige" Ramos is an advocate of Cavite's history and local culinary heritage, providing insightful commentaries on each stop. His deep and intimate knowledge and passion for the province made the tour relevant and meaningful, refreshing and shedding new light on the history we know from old school textbooks. The whole day tour was a total sensory experience, with Transitions Lenses completing the picture. 

The tour started with a typical rebel breakfast, the Magdiwang Breakfast at Malen's, one of Cavite's popular culinary destinations in Noveleta serving local cuisine.

Cavite's diverse culinary heritage is defined by its geography, with fertile plains bordered by a rich coastline and criss-crossed by rivers. Tinapang Salinas, or smoked fish, was a favorite breakfast dish among the early revolutionaries, paired with Tortang Itlog with burong mustasa and tomatoes...

...and Ensalada, a refreshing mix of cucumbers, mangoes, and salted egg (for more on Malen's, see my post on my other food blog, A Rebel Breakfast at Malen's). The typical culinary fare in Cavite during the Spanish colonial era may be simpler as compared with other provinces, like Pampanga and Bacolod, with its rich cuisine tracing its roots to deep Spanish influences linked with wealthy landowners, but the flavors are just as real using the freshest local ingredents.

This is evident with Cavite's local kakanin, or rice-based delicacies. These comforting staples are made from the fruits of the agrarian-based economy, or what Guillermo "Ige" Ramos described as the "crops of oppression." Wealthy landowners, or hacienderos, ruled the local economy during colonial times, sourced from bountiful harvests of rice, corn, and coconuts, the very backbone of national cuisine. From these staples, the inventive locals would prepare their kakanin, like Ka Julia's popular Sinudsod made from rice flour or galapong, and served with coconut cream.

From rice, corn, and coconut, a wide range of local delicacies evolved for a unique taste of Cavite (for more on Ka Julia's special kakanin, see my post on my other food blog, Cavite's Best with Ka Julia's Kakanin).

From Naic, we proceeded to the town of Maragondon, with a stop at the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church. Built in 1714, the church is listed as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum.

Religion remains one of the enduring legacies of our colonial history, and to this day, Roman Catholicism is the country's dominant faith. The centuries-old wooden doors reflect these linkages with Spain, with one panel depicting a galleon in full sail. It's no surprise that bulk of the massive galleon fleet in the bustling Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade were built with wood sourced from Maragondon's lush and verdant forests.

Inside the church, the linear form leads your eyes to the impressive Retablo Mayor, an intriactely carved facade displaying the Holy Eucharist, the focal point of the daily devotion. The maintenance and upkeep of the historic church is managed by the town's local devotees through donations.

As we head outside, the bright glare of Cavite's mid-day sun is compensated by Transitions Lenses, with its deep tint to protect the eyes from UV light automatically, without skipping a beat, as we head for the next stop.

We made our way to Kawit, Cavite, to the ancestral home of Emilio Aguinaldo, Cavite's proud son, the first president of the Republic and the first president of a constitutional republic in Asia. The large property was donated to the Philippine government and converted as a museum. At the lower ground floor, numerous exhibits featuring personal artifacts and memorabilia are showcased in special displays, with a local tour guide taking you through each exhibit. 

Time stops at the ancestral home, with period pieces and antique furniture preserved the way it was during colonial times and the turbulent days of the revolution. Up on the second floor, more of the priceless pieces are displayed at the Grand Hall, the very same floor with the balcony where independence was declared and saw the birth of a new republic. 

The ancestral home includes a number of secret passage ways designed by the General himself, and one of the most prominent features of the museum is the tower, providing panoramic 360-degree views of the town.   

From the tower, one can view the marble tomb of Emilio Aguinaldo near the tranquil fish pond. Seeing history this close provides a whole new perspective, and a better appreciation of the Filipino experience.

But no study of history is complete without visiting the site of a dark chapter from the past. In Maragondon, the group earlier visited the Bonifaio Trial House, the actual site of the infamous trial of Andres Bonifacio. Widely regarded as the father of the revolution and founder of the Samahang Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalang, Katipunan ng Anak ng Bayan, or simply the Katipunan, a revolutionary movement advocating independence, Andres Bonifacio and his brother, Procopio, were charged with treason and sedition and eventually executed on May 10, 1897 by Emilio Aguinaldo and his faction.

The Katipunan quickly emerged as the leading force for the nation's independence, but internal politics from two dominant groups, the Magdiwang faction led by Andres Bonifacio and the Magdalo bloc of Emilio Aguinaldo came to a head with the infamous trial. In the room where the trial was held, life-sized statues recreate the tense proceedings, with audio based on actual transcripts bringing you back in time.

After the trial and execution, it's said that Andres Bonifacio's wife, Gregoria "Oriang" de Jesus, frantically searched the hills of Maragondon for days, and to this day the bodies of Andres Bonifacio and his brother were never found. A poem written by  Gregoria is memorialized, adding a poignant touch to the tour. History, it's been said, is written by the victors. A visit to the Bonifacio Trial House offers another glimpse of the past, and another element to the Filipino experience.

From Maragondon, the group headed for Tanza for a late lunch at Calle Real, another dining destination offering traditional cuisine with a modern spin. The signature Crispy Pork Binagoongan, with pork belly draped in shrimp paste with a side of roasted eggplant is a must-try dish to recharge the body...

...along with the inventive Tokwa Sisig, with tofu instead of pork for this unique version at Calle Real. The homestyle cuisine at Calle Real is both satisfying and comforting, using the freshest local ingredients for local flavors.

Spanish influences run deep, and this is seen in the colorful tapestry of local cuisine. Calle Real's Paella Negra, soft and fluffy rice cooked in squid ink and topped with vegetables and seafood, is another must-try dish. After a sumptuous late lunch, it was time for coffee just a few steps up on the second floor... The Pink Table. Noel and Millie Lozada have transformed their ancestral home in Tanza into one of the province's popular dining destinations, with two distinct dining experiences in one place.

Local delicacies, like the Sopas Tanza, were served along with locally brewed coffee...

...and Churros with thick Spanish-style chocolate (for more on Calle Real and The Pink Table, see my post on my other food blog, A Taste of Tanza's Calle Real and The Pink Table). Each stop, and each bite, adds numerous layers to the full-day tour, enriching the experience. 

And seeing it all in the best light with Transitions Optical made it even more memorable.

Malen's Pizza Pasta Bakeshop and Restaurant is located at 9025 Magdiwang Hi-Way, Noveleta, Cavite, or call (046) 438-5027 or (046) 438-1634 for inquiries and reservations. 

Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo is located at Kawit, Cavite, open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Bahay na Pinaglitisan Kay Andres Bonifacio is located at Maragondon, Cavite. 

Maragondon Church is located at the municipality of Maragondon, Cavite.

Calle Real and The Pink Table are located at Sta. Cruz Street, Tanza, Cavite or call (046) 505-2836 for inquiries and more information or visit their FB Page at

For more on Transitions Optical Philippines, visit their website at and FB Page here at

Solo Expeditions is now on Facebook, check out the FB Page for regular updates on cool destinations. Better yet, click "Like" and "Follow" and enjoy the ride...just look for the FB widget on the right sidebar.   

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