Sitio Remedios Responds…

Readers may recall that Marketman & Family did an “Ilocos sojourn” last summer and spent a night at Sitio Remedios. I wrote several posts about our stay, one looking at the positive sides of the resort, one detailing some fairly negative reactions to the stay, and one covering the meals we enjoyed there during our stay. The post entitled “Sitio Remedios, Part II: The Glass Half (or More) Empty” received a lot of reader attention, and many comments, mostly aghast at the issues detailed in the post. A few readers felt I was harsh on the hotel, but many felt I was objective or even possibly too kind to have stayed despite the issues raised. I wrote that review trying to be factual, and provided photos to prove it. At the time, Sitio Management obviously read the post, but did not respond directly other than to say they would try to improve.

Yesterday, I was pleased to read, Dr. Joven Cuanang, the owner of the resort, sent a lengthy comment detailing many of the improvements that they have done in the past few months, a lot of them addressing the issues I raised in my earlier post. Here is Dr. Cuanang’s comment in full:

“Dear readers, Happy new year to everyone. I am Dr. Joven cuanang and I would like to give you an update on the ongoings in sitio . As I posted in the blog last time, I really appreciate comments that are constructive because that is the only way to improve, thus we addressed the concerns one by one in the last two months prior to the coming of the guests last december. the bathroom in the big house were tiled to replace the cement flooring styled by an artist friend. We realized that it could look dirty coz the application of the material placed was uneven, so we did away with that. We assessed the other bathrooms and changed those which we thought needed to be tiled. The other houses where we thought the artist”s concept worked we kept. Hot and cold water is now available in the showers in all of the houses. One guest thought that the previous situation where the househelp asks whether one needed hot water at the end of the day ws charming. However the chill of December was thetipping point. We had the hot wter installed and I am glad I did as most of the guests in December appreciated it. So did I. The architect reviewed all the details that needed to be improved and That is all done. The perimeter fence is now properly coated with cement covering the Hollow=block look. The fence is properly topped and hope that all the cadena de amor we planted willcover it. The chapel is a working one as the parish priest comes to sy mass the last Sunday of every month. The community comes to hear mass and that is great coz it must be shared with the people who were there earlier than me. Besides their children who compose the choir, can now sing a full misa ilocana. The old people are now teaching the kids to sing the pasyon and that is great because this ritual must be passed on. A benevolent guest offerred togive tham a complete set of choir uniform and they are gaining a lot of confidence in their singing. They were invited to sing in the museo pambata but that will take sometime. We cleared the houses with some of my junk and placed the books in a small corner in the restaurant for those who maybe interested to read them I did not mean to impose my reading material to our guestsm andI apologize for that. The goat. My friends in Ilocos thought unthinkable for an Ilocano village not to have a goat. It is now outside the fence but dont be surprised if it loiters into the yard. I have commissioned a sculptor to make a pregnant goat that could be the mascot of sitio. Expect that in a few months. I am also asking Zac Sarian, the agri writer whocomes from Batac to advise me with the best breed of goat which we can milk and make goat cheese from. That will also give livelihood for the folks in the barrio when fish is scarce due to the overfishing in the high waters. We also have finished putting up a dormitory typoe of accomodation in a one story building with a twenty year old bougainvillea in front. The simple accomodations were all that we could offer a group of four religious brothers presiding over a fine manila university whopromised they will bring the whole congregation next time. It can accomodate ten males and ten females. We are updating our website and these will be described.
Needless to say, the feedback of the marketman is very much appreciated. We aim to become the best destination in Ilocos Norte for a restful and satisfying stay. My friends and my family who conceived of this madness that we are doing to showcase an Ilocos Norte experience the way we know it: towels made of inabel, bagnet, longganisa, puki-puki, tupig, miki, real honest to goodness pinakbet, katuray flower salad goats and goat meat and seaweeds– all will stay because we are proud of all of it. We discussed this with all our staff and we are all determined to make a difference in our small way.

Add: we have ordered egyptian cotton towels for those who will not like the roughness of abel towels, they are ready at the end of january, We have made available bathrobes for those coming out of the pool and the newly installed jacuzzi,made of inabel.We are going to install intercoms to the office from the houses and for those who wnt to have their wedding in this unique place, the chapel has been granted by the bishop that honor. Raymond the manager is
arranging a few weddings this year. The bishop says the priest can also officiate baptisms.

Thank you for your time and hope to see you in Sitio Remedios.”

It’s nice to see that the hotel owners/managers have responded to many of the issues raised in the earlier post. Constructive criticism can indeed yield positive results. I hope that the hotel will continue to improve and that future guests will find their stays increasingly more comfortable and good value for their money. Thank you Dr. Cuanang for taking the time to read through my posts and for taking positive steps to address many of the issues raised. I really appreciate it, but more than that, the many readers of this blog and any potential guests at your hotel who surf the net prior to booking a stay, will appreciate it as well.

This is an appropriate time for me to point out that when I write a review – good, middling, bad or scathing about a hotel stay or meal we have experienced, it is very much a personal opinion. However, I do try to document bad or scathing experiences with facts and photos. Folks who cringe at my posts that are less than positive, feel I breach the boundaries of more traditional “Pinoyness” (read, don’t be confrontational, don’t rock the boat) and to them I say, without someone pointing out legitimate issues or raising the bar, how will we ever improve? And this comment doesn’t just apply to Sitio Remedios, it applies to posts I have done on real estate companies, credit card companies, restaurants, hotels, airlines, etc. I am very happy to say that in almost ALL cases, management of the companies in question have taken note of the issues raised on this blog and in private letters sent to them, and have tried to respond in a manner that improves service that will yield benefits for hundreds if not thousands of other consumers. Credible and objective reviews often get the most results (or complaints grounded in FACT, not opinion)… and this is just another instance where my steadfastly holding to that belief is completely reinforced.


30 Responses

  1. You are the voice of Juan dela Cruz – speak up now or forever hold your peace! Constructive criticism is a good avenue for improvement especially in the hospitality – hotel, restaurants, bakeries, airlines and many more customer service related industries. You sent the right message to management. Way to go MM!

  2. A big thumbs up to Dr. Cuanang for graciously accapting constructive criticism and using it to improve Sitio Remedios and preserving the Ilocano heritage! Wish we could all be that mature!

  3. It’s nice to see that Dr. Cuanang responded, and acted based on your constructive criticism instead of being in the defensive end.

  4. one of the reasons i’ve become a regular is because i respect your opinion. your reviews are fair and you give credit where it’s due.

    and i totally agree with you, how can we improve if we don’t know what the issues are. constructive criticism comes from people who care, many don’t bother and just move on.

    to Dr. Cuanang, good on you and hope Sitio Remedios gets better and better.

  5. Dr Cuanang is a very respectable doctor. I had attended his lectures. I had seen his houses in magazines! It was humble of him to accept the criticismsc ( constructive) of Marketman! To Dr. Cuanang, Marketman meant no harm. It is just to help you improve what you have and dont worry if you had done everything, he will help promote Sitio Remedios once it gets better.

    Though for other people, this trait is not accepted by other Filipinos. Through the years, we have to accept these things because this will help us alot.

  6. I like reviews which tell it as it is. No embellishments. I also don’t advertorials masquerading as content. You are doing everybody a great service for being truthful, MM.

    Dr Cuanang, on the other hand, shows us what a good businessman should be, ready to listen to feedback and being open to criticism and working on the project to address such concerns.

    Kudos to you both.

  7. “My friends and my family who conceived of this madness that we are doing to showcase an Ilocos Norte experience the way we know it: towels made of inabel, bagnet, longganisa, puki-puki,…”

    Wow, longganisa AND puki-puki in the same sentence. I love the grammatical juxtaposition in describing the Ilocos Norte experience!

  8. I’m glad the management of Sitio Remedios addressed most of the issues that were raised. Egyptian bath towels should be a standard though for all rooms, as the native towels aren’t absorbent enough. The abel can be used though as hand towels.

    Our stay at Sitio Remedios was a memorable experience, made so by Dr Cuanan and Rene. They regaled us with stories of their youth, the townsfolks and of local lore. They arranged for us cocktails and nightcaps at the chapel steps (I can’t recall whether they charged corkage).

    I always thought that Sitio Remedios would only get better with the patina of age. It looked too “new” back in April 07. I’d go back again to see how the changes were implemented.

  9. If I’m not mistaken, Dr. Cuanang is a neurosurgeon and the medical director of St. Luke’s Hospital. I believe he is also the personal doctor of the Arroyos, particularly FG. Kudos to you, Doc and Marketman! It was sure nice to hear taht Doc took criticism positively. That’s what a Filipino should be. Dr. Cuanang is really doing a lot of good deeds. He owns Boston Gallery in Cubao and Pinto Gallery in Antipolo, which exhibits up and coming artists. A good deed, indeed. Famous painters like Marcel Antonio, Manny Garibay, Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, et al were under his wings when they were say “not-so-famous” yet.

  10. It is obvious that Dr. Cuanang is proud of the place, the concept. and the total project. I am particularly moved at how he cares for the local villagers and their livelihood.
    I have no doubt Sitio will only improve and Dr. Cuanang will receive his due rewards (and I don’t mean just financially).

  11. I love this blog site; it keeps me well informed with all the info, such as food and places to go to. Thanks MM, great job!!! You never run out of ideas and updates.

  12. Hi MM, you are promoting local tourism, and your very objective views whether negative or positive only aim to give local/foreign tourists(like you and the rest of us) a worthy, if not,an enjoyable stay…you’re MORE CREDIBLE than the other lifestyle writers, hehe…A BIG thanks for this ‘extra’ service that you extend through your blog..and for dr. cuanang, cheers to you for humbly accepting that there’s a need for improvement and for actually working on it. This only shows your genuine passion for the sitio and your genuine concern for the locals, as well.

  13. Kudos to you both, MM and Dr. Cuanang, for your professionalism. Good things result ‘pag walang personalan, di ba? It’s about time we pinoys stopped taking things too personally, anyway. See, all’s well that ends well. Yeahbah!

  14. Excellent!

    Kudos to Dr. Cuanang. He obviously knows how to run a business i.e. LISTEN to customers. After all- a wise man once said: “Business is very much like tennis. Those who do not serve well end up losing”.

    All’s well that ends well…

  15. Hooray for Marketman! His review of the place brought up a positive response from the management.

    But I must say double hooray for Dr. Cuanang for the improvements that they’ve done on their resort.

    Come to think of it, Marketman doesn’t benefit out of this (he spent his money to go there but unfortunately he found some things that need to be improved). It’s us future visitors of that place who will benefit from this because look they’ve done a lot of changes… everything is not perfect but hey business will be growing.

  16. Bravo, Dr. Cuanang. It is great that instead of being offended by the negative comments, you treated them as a force for positive action. The next time I and my sister go home to the Phil., we will plan to visit Sitio Remedios. From your description, the place sounds vastly improved and certainly worth checking out. I love listening to choir music, and we will try to vist at “pasyon” time.

    MM, what a good deed you’ve done! Sitio Remedios might end up being first choice destination for a lot of Pinoys.

  17. This is your blog and you can say what you want. Sure I welcome beautiful prose too but it’s interesting how you compare one blogger’s mellifluous exaltation on some dish or dessert or resto and pagpunta mo naman o pagtikim eh pure exaggeration lang. The world could use more truth-tellers. Rock on, MM!

  18. macpower:
    yes, dr. cuanang holds clinic at st. lukes & very famous at that . . . kudos to both of you— MM & Dr Cuanang. Mabuhay ang Pinoy!

  19. And that is the mark of a truly professional outfit. The ability to take constructive criticism and use it to improve on the present situation. Marketman’s remarks would have piqued and started a nuclear war in the blogosphere has it been with some other organization who is resistant to change. The Sitio reply seemed well thoguth of and responded to MM’s remark almost point by point.

  20. @ macpower: just a correction, Dr. Cuanang is a Neurologist and in addition to that the Medical Director of St. Luke’s Medical Center.

    I am surprised that he had actually responded regarding Sitio Remedios, granting that he really is a busy man, but given that he has achieved such standing, speaks volumes of his dedication to his work and to Sitio Remedios too.

    I hope that I would be able to visit Sitio Remedios and the other places you’ve written about… Reading through marketmanila is like having a tour of the Philippines and the world.

    More power and God Bless to you MM and Dr. Cuanang. :)

  21. P.S. I’ve noticed the total number of votes… It really has risen in the past few months. :)

  22. To MM: It’s good to read about the responses of those establishments you review. It’s nice when they actually listen and do something about it.

    To Dr. Cuanang: Hi sir! I was one of your students :-) It’s nice to see you online.

    (Dr. Cuanang is actually one of the best neurologists in the country. I have attended his lectures way back in med school and he is a very supportive educator and mentor. His bedside manners should be emulated by young doctors. He is also a patron of the arts and support many artists. I think he still has two galleries, one in Antipolo and in Cubao (Boston Gallery, if I am not mistaken.))

  23. My family, we’re Sitio regulars. Each time we are there, we are asked for comments and suggestions. We note that they are not ignored, but addressed readily. The good doctor welcomes criticisms as this resort is a new venture very much different from his profession. A work in progress indeed, and one that includes hands-on training for everyone who is part of the project. But it is a project borne out of love for one’s heritage, one’s orientation of service and sharing of good things coming one’s way. Dr. Cuanang’s known dedication to excellence and professionalism will surely permeate the resort soon, if it hasn’t yet. His presence in Sitio when his work as hospital director permits, and therefore personal touch on such occasions is truly special treat for guests. Lucky are those who experience his personal hosting. I am sure many past guests will agree.
    After reading Mr. Marketman’s piece, somehow I knew that Dr. Cuanang would react to it positively. All’s well that ends well.

  24. That was great of the good doctor! Only a customer-oriented business owner would have reacted and made action that way…not just words. Hope to spend vacation in this place soon!

  25. Great place. I’ve been there twice, thanks to Doc Cuanang’s architect, Rex Hofileña. Nakadinner pa ako, kulet! :-). Andami ko nakuhang pix, kaso after a week I lost my phone, asar. Ipost ko pa naman sana un sa site at frndstr ko. I appreciate Doc C and his team behind the development of Sitio Remedios, you can see their sincere effort to relive the golden days of Ilocandia culture. Not just the perfect place to relax, but to reminisce the past as well. hahaha tama ba grammar ko? :-)

  26. Thanks for your blogs about Ilocano foods. Where can I find an authentic Ilocano restaurants in MetroManila? Please give their locations (or addresses), so my family can go there in our vacation this December. Please email me about these Ilocano restaurants addresses in MetroManila. Thanks a lot, I will appreciate it.

  27. Thank you for your blog. I have been at Sitio Remedios twice. Each stay was relaxing and my family had fun in the resort. We also appreciated the management and staff’s knowledge of the local culture. I think the strength of Sitio Remedios is that it takes genuine pride in Ilocano culture – from the Abel towels, the trips to local cloth makers, the personal tour guides to rummage for old ba-uls, and the fresh vegie and fish meals. The site of fishermen and their wives and children hauling their daily catch is unforgettable. I have also attended a mass at the Sitio chapel and it was one of the most solemn masses i have attended. I plan to go back to Sitio this year.



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