Christmas Salu-salo at Arid and Aroids Farm in Silang, Cavite

It is the season for fun, shopping, outing, What a great way to explore a beautiful farm located within Silang, Cavite province.

collection of several cycad from all all over the world

This is not my first time to visit this farm, It was part of the several horticultural tours and farm tour organized by different plant societies and organization. The last tour that we have participated was organized in 2015 by Hortikultura Extravaganza by the Philippine Horticulture Society Incorporated.

Arid and Aroids also have farm located in San Rafael, Bulacan and in Quezon provinces.

Christmas Salu-Salo at Arid and Aroids Farm 2019

The Christmas salu-salo was a simple get together with friends and buyers of the farm. The meals, desserts, fruits, drinks are brought in by those people who are invited.

visitors are delighted with buffet meal

Mr.Njah Alvarez brought some banana cakes for sharing, while some brought buko pie ( coconut pie), lechon manok, pancit , sushi, espasol, chicken binakol and Chef Marlon and wife gave us some of their home made ham. They also find time to cook their own version of shawarma.

Tillandsia capitata and other varieties are also grown

The 1 hectare farm is a treasure trove of variegated plants, cacti, succulents, philodendron, ferns and mutant plants not just in the Philippines but the rest of the world.

It was a Christmas get together by friends, relatives and buyers of the farm. The food was delicious and the roasted pig (lechon) was a delight to behold.

The owners are planning big for the 3 known farms of Arid and Aroids. For more update, they have several known social media accounts.

Those who wanted to visit the farm, is by special appointment.

Arid and Aroid Farm

Location: Barangay Tartaria, Silang, Cavite


Piso Day Sale at Arid and Aroids Farm

It is a rare opportunity to know that one can still buy something out of One Peso (Php 1.00). This was proven at the Piso Day Sale and Great Discount Sale at the Arid and Aroid’s farm in San Rafael, Bulacan province.

Arid and Aroids farm entrance

One Peso Sale

portion of the farm

A last minute decision made past 9:00 pm on April 30 while chatting with an online friend who will be visiting the farm. I manage to wake -up by 3:30 am and left our home by 4:00am.

long lines of buyers

It was early dawn when people began to arrive at the Arid and Aroids farm located in San Rafael in Bulacan province.

Hundreds of people have flocked from different areas  and provinces to buy rare and hard to find plants and cacti. Some arrived before 5:00 am.

variegated sanseviera

dykia hybrids for sale

buyers at plant area ( photo courtesy of Mr. Marlon Valdellon)

There are several buyers which went to the Php 1.00 , Php 2.00 and Php 3.00 area.  Most of the plants were sold out even before noontime !

all smiles from Mr. Joshoua Banzuela ( photo courtesy of Mr. Marlon Valdellon)

different types of grafted cacti for sale

We were able to arrive around past 8:00 am and registered at the booth. We were given a haworthia cutting upon registration and some stubs which can be use to purchase some 1 and 2 PESO worth of potted plants like cacti, aglaonema, episcia, rhipsalis, sansevierra, tillandsias, adenium and among others.

Rhipsalis cacti

Aglaonema hybrids

variegated pineapples

I cannot help but to splurge in buying episcias, rhipsalis, aglaonema and cacti for token gifts (pasalubong) to some of our neighbors. They would give us some of their vegetables produce and would lend their 7 feet ladder whenever we needed them.

variegated sansevieras


Some of the much rarer plant varieties like variegated cacti, succulents and foliage plants were sold between 30 to 70% discount.

different tillandsia

Just like any event, there were on the spot raffles, short talk on cacti grafting, chit-chat with fellow plant lovers and pocket meetings.

resource speaker

The generous host also fed all the visitors with pancit, banana cue, sandwich for mid-day snack. While they also prepared a lunch which consisted of mix vegetables, pork and beef barbecue, lumpiang shanghai and softdrinks.

blooming aloe hybrid

Plant enthusiasts from Taytay, Cainta, San Mateo in Rizal province even brought some foods and juice which they shared with participants.

( Photo courtesy of Mr. Timothy Laurie Ang -The Haworthia Guys)

There were several plant and cacti groups from Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and even from Laguna and Quezon provinces.

Another hot item for sale was the A&A magic drops . This is a type of hormone can induce growth for cacti, succulents and other plants.

lucky visitor winning a variegated sanseviera

Those who does not have time to visit the farm got hooked over the FB page of the farm, since online discount selling happened several times a day.

online selling

Everyone was happy and glad to have went to the big sale.  For those who were not able to come at the great big sale, There will be another round of PISO Sale and Great Discount Sale at their Silang farm sometime September 2019.

group photo

Try to save money, time and save the date for the great big sale and PISO sale.

Picnic and Fun at San Rafael , Bulacan

San Rafael , Bulacan province -Philippines

We arrived past 7:30am at the scenic , Bustos Dam – San Rafael side . Our group then asked permission from the military officer manning the sentry gate at the 48th infantry battalion compound .

military sentry

The friendly officers tried to ask us where did we were from , We told them that our group is from Metro Manila and some of us are first time visitors of the place.

group photo

We asked the officers for a quick photo opportunity at the tank and military trucks which are parked within the compound. Some took their chance at a quick photo of the armor tank .

Bustos Dam

 Mr. Chael Santos and his team arrived a few minutes later , while some of us have started our photo shoot near the Bustos Dam РSan Rafael side. During the dry season , when water at the dam is at its lowest level , people would usually cross this side of the dam going to the town of Bustos . It is much faster and saves travel expenses.

Please try to visit about our recent visit to Lakad Pamana of Bustos Bulacan part 4


We saw several kind of birds , water hyacinth and interesting landscape scenery .

breakfast meal wrapped in banana leaves

Our group was served a traditional Filipino breakfast meal by Arki’s Tambayan of San Miguel, Bulacan which consists of steam rice , fried bangus ( milk fish ) salted duck egg and fresh tomato, Another meal which consist of steam rice, tinapa na galungong , ginisang mustasa with¬† choice of either coffee 3in 1 mix or swiss miss chocolate ¬† . While eating our breakfast , We overheard from a house nearby that there was a pabasa / pasyon or readings .¬† The pabasa usually starts on Holy Monday¬† and ends on Good Friday.

people at the balcony singing pabasa with electric guitar 

But according to some of the people in San Rafael , it would start during the lenten season and unlike some pabasa in Metro Manila. They would have a slightly different twist .

Lakad Pamana and Walk with Chan will be another round of tour schedule on April 10, 2016 SUNDAY ( whole day ) For those who wish to join us in our tour  there is a FB event page ( slot is very limited ) San Rafael Heritage and Malangaan Cave Eco Tour

Here are some of the places that we visited last March 12:

 San Juan de Dios Church and Parochial Museum

Malangaan Cave Adventure

A Tour of Greenery in Baliuag



A Visit to San Juan de Dios Church and Parochial Museum

San Juan de Dios Church and Parochial Museum, Barangay Poblacion ,  San Rafael РBulacan province

San Rafael Poblacion Church is also known as San Juan De Dios Parish

The town of San Rafael had its humble beginning as part of the Hacienda de Buenavista ( now part of San Ildefonso )  under the San Juan de Dios brothers. Though belonging to that religious group, the place was however administered by the Augustinian friars who established the mission in 1750.

curve facade

The church architecture is a classic example of Partido Baroque architecture in the Philippines. The style, popular from the early to mid-19th century, boasts of a curved facade as opposed to the flat ones typically found in other Baroque churches in the country.

historical marker

interior of the church

church altar

The church facade and interiors were painted in pastel colors,  looks bright and pleasing to the eyes, but it had a grim and sad story to tell behind those pastel colored walls and facade . The church and the nearby parochial college tells a different story .

Colegio de San Juan de Dios with century- old acacia trees

We also took some photos of Colegio de San Juan de Dios ( the college used to be known as Saint Paul’s School) .The school premises had several large acacia trees with dischidias or manaog ka irog which cling to their massive trunks.¬†¬† When some of us took the first glanced at the structure, we felt some eerie¬† feelings and felt that someone is looking at us . According to one of the locals , parts of the present school used to be part of the public cemetery .

 artist depiction  of battle of San Rafael inside the church 

Local historian and town folks  said that bodies of those people which numbered from 800 to more than 1,000 people were killed on November 30, 1896 . There was a town fiesta and people were at the church premises when the massacre took place, they are mostly innocent civilians , children and people who came for the fiesta .

church bell cast from Hilario Sunico foundry in Binondo

San Juan de Dios Parish Museum / San Rafael Parochial Museum or Museo San Rafael

The Museo San Rafael was officially opened on September 29, 2006 during the feast of San Rafael, coinciding with the 256th founding anniversary of the town. Besides the main hall of the convent, three rooms now house different exhibits.

 saint images and ecclesiastical items used by the church 

We took some time exploring the church and also the parish museum.  Mr. Chael Santos had negotiated prior hand  with the parish priest , Our tour group was allowed entry at the parish museum .

church vestments

There is also a place where the parish museum had an interesting display of church vestments .

period costumes on display

There were some period costumes on display reflecting a gentle era of the town

old retablo

sala set made from wood

The public can visit the parish museum during office hours but the staffs and parish priest must be inform several days prior to the visit. One must also be very careful in their steps,  since parts of the wood flooring is weak and were eaten by termites .

Our group was allowed to enter another exhibit are which they call museo ng bayan exhibit , only 3 to 4 people were allowed to enter since the floor is not that stable .

Story of Crispin , Basilio and Noli Me Tangere :

People from the town believes that Dr. Jose P. Rizal  was inspired to create the characters Sisa, Basilio and Crispin (in his novel Noli Me Tangere)  published in Berlin in 1887. Noli Me Tangere and its sequel, El Filibusterismo, exposed abuses of the Spanish friars and earned for Rizal the ire of the Spanish authorities.  The novel was said to have been adapted to the real-life story in San Rafael during the late 19th century . Recalling the story from Rizal’s novel, the two brothers were serving as bell ringers in the church to help their mother ( Sisa)  by earning money.

life-sized mannequin  of Dr. Jose P. Rizal and painting of crispin , basilio and sacristan mayor

The Rizal mannequin sits behind a desk, writing. He faces the well where Crispin’s body was supposedly dumped.

On one occasion, the sacristan mayor accused Crispin of stealing an amount of money. Crispin was punished by the sacristan mayor and was believed to have died inside the church premises. On the day the loss was discovered ( 2 gold coins ) , He was not permitted to leave the convent, while his elder brother was allowed to leave only after 10 p.m., which was past the 9 p.m. curfew.

painting showed the physical abuse of Crispin and Basilio

As proof of the local legend, locals point to a blood-stained wall off the side of the convent in a small room where supposedly the young ‚ÄúCrispin‚ÄĚ was tortured to death today their soul are present in convent.

hand stained portion of the wall believed to be that of Crispin

The head sacristan dragged Crispin down the stairs from the bell tower and into the shadows. That was the last time Basilio saw his younger brother.

church belfry

Some stories would tell of the revolutionary period where hundreds and even thousand of people perished.¬† the hand marks used to be in darker and more reddish in color several years ago , before this portion of the church was renovated in the late 1990’s .

This is the area where locals believed that Crispin was push to his death and Basilio escaped .


Fray Antonio Piernavieja was the friar that Dr. Jose Rizal took his character inspiration for Padre Salvi . It was widely believed that he was the said priest in the novel. He was transferred to Cavite in the middle part of 1896 when the revolution broke out . He was taken as a prisoner and made as a bishop by the Filipino insurgents  .

group photo

Fray Antonio Piernavieja took the advantage of his new position and gave vital information and tactical plans of the insurgents to the Spanish authorities that were based in Manila. Upon the discovery of the plan , the insurgents tied the friar in an open field and left him to die from hunger and thirst.

group photo

People would also claim the cemetery mentioned in Rizal’s novel is the Pasong Instik area.

We got to have a group photo before we bid farewell to the local priest and gave our donation to the museum .  Some of us had still some questions in our mind , if the stories are true , was it based on a true story or urban legend that refuses to die .

 References and Bibliographies :

Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo books

San Rafael Website:

Official Website of the Municipal Government of San Rafael. “San Rafael Festivals”. Retrieved May 24, 2014.

Official Website of the Provincial Government of Bulacan.

Philippine Star :

Zamora, F. “Sisa, Crispin and Basilio lived here, say Bulacan townsfolk”. Retrieved May 24, 2014.

Malangaan Cave Adventure with Lakad Pamana

Malangaan Cave and River ,San Rafael – Bulacan province

I woke -up past 4:30am with a mild flu and left home past 5:00am .  I was contemplating if i would join the tour or not since i am not feeling well .  Quite excited for the cave adventure and heritage tour together with Lakad Pamana .

Bustos Dam- San Rafael side

Arrived past 5:30am in our designated meet-up place for Metro Manila residents . We finally left the place at around past 6:00am on our way to San Rafael side of Bustos Dam . We ate our breakfast while waiting for the second van from Malolos ( some of the participants are from Malolos and Pampanga ) Our group was met by Mr. Chael Santos local photographer, guide , volunteer and blogger at tumblr . According to the local host and Mr. Chael Santos РDuring dry season , one can cross San Rafael going to the town of Bustos in just few minutes .

We visited the San Rafael Church and Parish Museum ( more on that tour in my next post ) then the Malolos group met us there .

cement road with cracks

We noticed that the roads leading to the barangay have a lot of cracks since heavy utility vehicles and 10-wheeler trucks pass the road, thereby some passenger jeepneys and tricycle would charge extra fare to compensate for the rough roads especially during the rainy season. After a short van ride ,  Our group arrived past 12:00nn at the site.

rock formation

The Malangaan Cave and River system is located at Barangay Tukod, San Rafael, Bulacan but the place also shares border with neighboring towns of San Ildefonso and Do√Īa Remedios Trinidad or simply known as DRT .

entrance to the cave system

There are a lot of interesting limestone formations at the site. one rock formation looked like head of a turtle , some limestone formations looked like an image of a woman .

 the erosion are caused by rain 

Portion of the road leading to the cave system would also be very muddy . The best months to visit the cave system is from late November to early June ( dry season )

During rainy season- The cave area can be flooded and can be very slippery .

 swimming area

 There are several areas were we have to pass and there were mini checkpoints being manned by the local children and locals. ( We hired a van )

We have to pay three times РFirst was the road leading to the place manned by children  ( Php 30 ) Second was crossing the river where an old woman was standing ( Php 30 ) and the last one was the entrance to the cave and river system ( Php 30 ) a total of Php 90 per van  .Every time they would ask our van if we would like to swim or visit the cave .

turquoise colored spring water Рphoto by : Mr. Allan Martinez 

Total of Php 90.00 plus so called RENT to the 3 cottages located within the river area – It cost Php 100 per cottage so a total of Php 300 rental for the 3 cottages. A cottage had a sitting capacity of¬† between 6 to 10 people depending on body mass.¬† If we divide the total cost among the number of participants , It will cost us around Php 20.00 per head We were about 25 participants including our driver, caterer and Mr. Gilbert Di√Īo¬† .¬† We waited for another 30 minutes so that everyone can relax and enjoy the place.

schefflera / five fingers and begonia growing on the crevices photo courtesy : Mr. Jhon Gorme

The place had an interesting rock formations and a good habitat for bats and swiftlets .


  We also saw native begonias , schefflera ( five fingers) Ficus pseudopalma ( niyog-niyogan or lubi-lubi ) , native ficus and a few native trees . 

Kuya Kulot one of the local guides told me that the native begonia that i was referring  is being use as a souring agent in the locality .

group photo at the cave entrance by Mr. Chael Sison Santos

We started the hike towards the main entrance together with Mr. Chael Sison Santos ,Kuya Kulot and a couple of kids who acted as our tour guide , Although we told them that we have an official tour guide from San Rafael.

one of the kids who joined us in our trek inside the cave

A couple of the kids went with us and they are the unofficial tour guides and ambassador of the cave system . There are over 20 of the children who takes their turn guiding people, some of them told us that the small token money that receive from tourists are used to augment their family income or allowance in school . Tourist season starts late November ( start of the dry season ) and peak during the summer months ( March , April and May ) then slows down by June as the rainy season begins with the cave network getting flooded. Flood waters can reach the several meters above the cave system .

graffiti marks

Our group have seen that there were a lot of ugly graffiti written by locals and even visitors to the cave system . We counted several dozens of ugly graffiti from names of¬† visitors , cellphone numbers, curses, sexual innuendoes , drawings etc…¬† I think a lot of them were not properly brief by the local authorities and even local guides . They should give at least 3 to 5 minute briefing for every tour group entering the cave system and swimming area.

ficus roots and ugly graffiti marks

I have voiced my personal observations to Mr. Chael Sison Santos and Kuya Kulot about what i have seen , aside from plastic mineral bottles and empty plastic wrappers that littered all over the place.

Kuya Kulot photo courtesy by : Ms. Pheeyah Salones

Kuya Kulot and some of the children were featured in several television documentaries which featured their stories about their tour guiding experiences . He is called Kuya Kulot because of his long kinky hair.¬† They were also featured on 24 Oras in 2012 by Mr. Mark Zambrano,¬† Brigada Siyete ” Mga Batang Tour Guide ” ” Anak ng Kuweba”¬† channel 7 and QTV channel 11 by Mr. Cedric Castillo in November 2015 . This had prompted a rapid in flock of local tourists from nearby towns and from Metro Manila.

author helping a fellow participant: Photo courtesy : Ms. Pheetyah Salones

We took a buddy-buddy system and try to take care of each other while climbing on the cave crevices and the cave , since almost all the male participants were able to climb the rock formation with minimal problems . We have to watch each other while climbing the rock formation. Except for Mr. Chael Sison Santos who went to the cave system over 24 times !  The cave network is quite extensive and there are several entry points and exit points. We only took the safe or tourist route.

inside the cave -just before the great ascend : Photo by Mr. Chael Santos

Seasoned cave explorers are usually called cavers or the hobby of exploring caves is called Caving , Spelunking or Potholing . I think almost everyone in the group were first timers . The cave system that we explored is between 250 meters to 245 meters long .  Caver or spelunkers would normally spend between 35 minutes to 45 minutes along the route ,but  our group are mostly non -professional and first timers. Our group spend about 1 hour and 20 minutes exploring the route.  ( not to mention taking photos and selfies along the way ) 

candit shot by Ms. Pheeya Salones

Kuya Kulot and Chael pointed another portion of the cave with white stalactites  and stalagmites formations, He told that we could spend a few minutes exploring the network , but we told them that it might damage the formation by just holding them , since our hands contains natural oil and perspiration which can damage the formation.  They usually called them kumikinang na bato ( shining rocks)

conquering the top -photo : Mr. Chael Santos

I had explored at least 3 caves , Crystal Cave – when i was about 6 or 7 years-old, Baguio- Benguet 2008 and Quezon province in 2009 .

We also saw the sad realities of living in a limestone rich deposit site , there were several areas that were quarried and mined of marble deposits using a very destructive form of extracting techniques , blasting the boulders using dynamites . We saw several holes in the huge boulders and neatly cut lines . There are some people who collects bat guanos , limestone rocks. This is a big relief that the local government had banned gathering of marbles and blasting of boulders at the Malangaan Cave site . But we think that cause oriented groups and local government should start the reforestation projects using native trees to protect the water shed and the rock formation .

lunch time boodle fight

Our lunch buffet was a combination of well-known dishes from Bulacan province like steam rice, fresh ampalaya leaves ,  crispy dinakdakan , inihaw na bulig or dalag, balaw-balaw with fritong talong , nilagang okra ( boiled okra) , chicken and pork kalderobo , binurong isda ( fermented fish) , nilagang sampaloc  with side condiments of bagoong , nilagang mani ( boiled peanuts ),  chilli pepper and fresh slices of watermelon , pastillas and melon juice with milk ( they call the juice mixture as Milon na Bulakenyo) the consistency is more of a halo-halo rather than juice.

 participants enjoyed the hearty meal

We also shared our food with the local tour guides and the small children who accompanied us .

We enjoyed the hearty buffet catered by Arki’s Tambayan from San Miguel, Bulacan – for orders and catering needs , just to to contact them at Facebook Page:Arki’s Tambayan

We left the place at around past 3:00pm for our final itinerary of the day and we all called our group Kwebarkats. 

Note : I am encouraging all visitors to observe proper cleanliness by bringing trash bags and avoid putting ugly graffiti and vandalizing the walls of the cave.

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