With the Philippines’ Enhanced Community Quarantine in place, wanderlusts do not have much choice but to stay home and wait this plague out. After all, we need to stay alive to pursue our future meanderings, right? So here I am relieving adventures from the past. The blog posts that I will be writing are outdated and wouldn’t serve you much use as reference for your next travels. I guess this is me trying to find purpose on old photos that I have overlooked in the course of chasing my next adventure.
Scanning through my photo archives, I chanced upon those I have taken at the HISTORY Con 2017. This was held August of that mentioned year at World Trade Center, Pasay City. To give you a brief background, HISTORY Con is an event that united fans of History Channel, vintage collectors, paleophiles, antiquarians, bikers, chefs, and a whole spectrum of people that shares common interests!
Writing about it now, I can still recall the rush I felt upon walking through the doors of the convention center. It was pure bliss seeing the dazzling displays! HISTORY Con 2017 was made for us who are in love with a hobby and can manifest that ardor into something spectacular. There were big bikes, there were military dioramas, one section reeked of old comic book pages and it was incredible. People were chitchatting with those they find a similar ground with and I was snapping away, a self-confessed nerd who can only squeal at the sight of items that tickled my fancy.
There were scheduled talks from HISTORY Channel’s show hosts and we lined up to attend all that we could. We attended Corey Harrison’sIn Conversation and it was so hard not to fan girl and ask about Chumlee! Yes, Pawn Stars was there!
We also had the opportunity to have our posters signed and our photos taken with John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin of Tiny House Nation. They were warm and asked how we’re enjoying the event. We were also in awe having met fellow Filipino Ryu Lim, the Forged in Fire winner famous for his Viking Battle Axe. It was just sad that we weren’t able to witness his live demonstration but seeing his performance on the TV show was enough to turn us into fans.
And talk about being a huge fan of Adam Liaw! My partner wanted to have a photo with him so bad that we ended up running after him! He was the winner of the second season of MasterChef Austalia and the host of one of our guilty pleasures, Destination Flavour.
The highlight of the entire meet and greet we attended was with Counting Cars’ Horny Mike! He was being ecstatic while conversing with us and it was so hard to limit our talk because we all clicked! We had our photo taken and everyone in the room laughed because we shared this cool pose. I became an instant fan—not that I wasn’t before.
We also met Sir Ram Mallari, the famous Filipino Metal Sculptor and Draftsman. I have admired his work since I laid my eyes on his Maximus sculpture. It was a detailed, steampunk French Bulldog wearing a post-apocalyptic radar-glasses. How cool is that?!
It was difficult to forget that HISTORY Con 2017 experience and as I am writing this post I wondered why I didn’t take my time to sit down and tell this story earlier. We didn’t had the chance to attended the following year’s convention, sadly. But I am willing to bet that it wasn’t as mind-blowing as this one.
Almost 3 years after HISTORY Con 2017, I am still a fan of the channel. I still watch Ancient Aliens and have this love-hate relationship with Tsoukalos’ theories. I sincerely wish that after this pandemic, they’d decide to have another event like this…but here’s to hoping for the best.
In life, we all have to take risks. Being the self-proclaimed audacious person that I am, I love having a good laugh in the fangs of danger. My blog today isn’t about me challenging how far my adrenaline can hold my system, but more of how my liver, heart, and other organs can survive the gluttonous abuse I bring upon myself. Let’s talk about how 160/100 on the sphygmomanometer as our target, shall we?
Shorthorn Pares is a humble, familiar shack found in the outskirts of Barangay Bahay Toro in Project 8, Quezon City. Honestly, we weren’t hungry when we decided on that food expedition. We were just drawn by the number of social media posts, all raving how the place serves the meanest Pares in town. Imagine this: your typical Pares served on a very ordinary bowl, but adorned with the chunkiest, juiciest, and the most sinful slab of bone marrow, you’d probably witnessed in your whole entire lifetime. I thought to myself, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
So there we were, me and my partner, waiting for our turn to order. I recalled telling him how I’d love to have a house with a big garage so I can turn it to something profit-generating like Shorthorn Pares. All you need is a gimmick that would literally bring all the “boys in your yard”. What Shorthorn Pares did was set up a conventional carinderia/tapsihan/pares-mami, and surprise everyone with an unexpected, and vein-busting dish that will definitely look good and irresistible on your Instagram feed.
Anyway, I was feeling mighty daring that day and ordered their SB Pares. That would be Pares with beef bone marrow and brains. My partner ordered Bulag which is short for Bulaklak (colloquial term for pork intestines) and Lugaw. Our uric acid was pretty much shaking in threat that time but we had to do it! Paired with chili, beef broth soup, and a bowl of fried rice, we took a chance at life.
It wasn’t disappointing at all—not even a hint of! The food was well-cooked, that it is actually, literally torched to perfection! The taste was there, the quality was there. Every single sinful chew, I swear you’d be reminded why you are submitting to this mortal gamble! Fun fact: beef bone marrow is in reality, a good source of protein and can aid cell repair and regeneration. You just need to consume in moderate amounts. Too much of this is a recipe for heart attack!
When we visited Shorthorn Pares, though, there wasn’t a designated parking area. However, there will be little boys that will assist you in parking your car on a safe part of the street. Tip them please!
All that said, what I can conclude is that I am a sucker for dishes like what Shorthorn Pares has to offer. Yes, it may be dangerous but it was worth it. The fad that is Shorthorn Pares is rightfully just and I understand why after a year or so, people still frequent it. My partner and I went to Shorthorn Pares that day just to see what the buzz was all about but we went home a patron that is hungry for more!
Mark Twain once said that, “There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” From the time we have ventured to uncertainty, I had my answer…But no, readers. This is not your typical sappy blog entry. I do not intend to make you “kilig”.
Our first trip was filled with hopes: I am a self-confessed wanderlust. I veer away from plans and conformity. You, on the other hand, needed a solid ground to start from. The budget should be precise…and no to hoping that there will be a place to crash. According to you, a warm bed is a necessity. So, without any choices left and after a few heated arguments, I compromised and bid farewell to times when I slept on airport floors.
That trip was seasoned with mishaps…as all our future trips came to be. It ranged from times when we couldn’t locate the booking office, moments when we could not find a place to stay (my carpe diem does not work when I am with you); losing the last money we have (biggest at stake is 2,500 Php and this is overseas); to extreme moments of sheer terror when our bus was almost subjected to a heist (and funny we were both ready to fight); missing our flight, and losing direction in the middle of a foreign country’s freeway. Did I mention the supernatural? Yep. Ghosts too.
It was always a concoction of some kind of misfortune that I have not encountered in my years of living–consistently–unless I was indulging myself on a series of sarcastic literature. Travel can really teach you a thing or two about life. The lessons it taught me were intensely broadening and having you as its co-facilitator was not a big help. Honestly.
I was annoyed with the idea that you have to always have a plan. I called you out plenty of times until you switched to being as carefree as me…and that was a further disaster. Remember when, from a 30-liter-backpack, you suddenly shifted to a stroller-type bag? You hurled it across the beach. On the sand. While people looked.
And with reference to bags, how we threw out our stuff at the airport since my bag was overloaded because I packed it in my most “liable” state of mind?! I cannot be the responsible one…yet, I had to.
From that time on, when you shifted, I had to assume another role. The lesson life taught me this time is not to change people you are travelling with. Travel creates a better version of themselves…and I have no right to interfere.
Travelling with you also made me realize that if I needed to take better photos, it will not come from you. The delusion of Instagram boyfriends should clearly go in flames. Not that you are not a good photographer. Your degree in Multimedia Arts served you well but, hey, you suck sometimes. Besides, photos are meant to have the two of us or else I could have just traveled with a tripod or selfie stick, conversing with it intermittently about life over coffee. No. It doesn’t work that way.
Hence, I do not have the mandatory blogger shots.
In the course of travelling, we also learn a skill. Mine was swimming. You almost killed me. But I learned how to swim. Consequentialism-wise, I got what I wanted. This is disregarding the premise that I could have sunk into the depths of Anilao and went home in a body bag. Bottomline, though, I know now how to swim and I can cliff-dive because of this.
Arguments are also our own special way of releasing stress from the toil of the trip. We squabble about the pettiest things: food, baggage, sleep, walking, sleep-walking, cigarettes, or even how you are in a good mood and I am not because I am tired! It’s also not a good compatibility with the ability we have of coining out the most creative forms of verbal aggression. It can be a trying lot most of the time.
So what am I trying to say? Mark Twain was a genius. He clearly defined what we have as travel companions. Through these trips I have learned that I loath you, whichever version or form you are in. I detest the catastrophe our partnership can conjure. But I like it when you encourage me to try new things. I appreciate it that we can be gluttons without being judged. I abhor that this partnership can bring so much calamity in our well-beings but I am grateful that it is you that I share it with. I cannot find anyone to travel with who is as reliable and as compatible as you are to me.
I’ll end this by quoting you: “Just be prepared. We are bound to be unlucky.“
I wanted to go to Roxas City, Capiz not to explore the
unknown. Despite its riveting background and mysticism, when I visited the
province, I just wanted to indulge in their seafood offering. My mission was
simple: I wanted to dine along Baybay Beach.
Capiz was our last minute re-route in our Panay Island
roadtrip. We were supposed to head back to Iloilo after visiting Aklan but
realized that the food that Roxas City has in store is too tempting to skip.
We rode the van from Kalibo and alighted at the city center.
The very first thing we noticed is how collectively obedient the people of
Roxas City are. Everyone followed pedestrian signs. In fact, when someone tried
crossing on a red pedestrian light, passers-by (civilians) were quick to put
the man in place. This does not happen in Manila. We rationalize our
disobedience by the number of people doing the deed. Sad.
There were also a lot of army officers around Roxas City. This made me feel secured. If there is one thing I abhor most about traveling, it’s being ripped off by my fellow kababayans. I took advantage of their presence and asked directions, and also how much fare I should pay. Not only did they answer my inquiry, they even hailed a tricycle for me and instructed the driver where to drop me off. I really appreciated that.
When we arrived at Baybay, an array of food stalls, reminiscent to Manila’s Dampa, welcomed us. And just like any Dampa experience, I had a hard time choosing what to eat and where to eat. Thank goodness though for this very bubbly tindera who welcomed us with all her flamboyant will. She was also very considerate. She knew we wanted to try everything so she suggested that we order Diwal (angela wings clam) half of it baked, while the other, sigang-ed. It was a great bargain because she didn’t charge us extra! We also ordered grilled hito and liempo and ate to our heart’s content.
We also met one of the restaurant’s most loyal patron. It was a black stray dog who took shelter in their food hub. The fur-baby was well-behaved and only ate when given food. Of course, we did give him liempo and in return, he allowed us to play with him and take photos by the beach! The Sibuyan Sea was restless when we were there but the wind was the perfect prelude to the sunset. Within our eye’s reach was also Mantalinga Island. According to the locals, this island is dubbed as “Good Luck Island” because it is believed to give good fortune to fishermen. In fact, it has been the local tradition to have the names of the boat etched on the rocks on the side of the island before they set out to sea for the first time. We wanted to go to the island so bad because we heard that it’s also a great dive spot however, time wasn’t on our side. We had to take the next bus back to Iloilo.
Instead of trying our luck in crossing the Sibuyan Sea, we
just walked around town and hunted for souvenirs. Being at the center of the
Roxas City Plaza is humbling. We, Manilenos, brag too much about what we have
back home without realizing that the provinces has so much better to offer. Roxas
City is known for its Eight Heritage Monuments on its plaza alone. Among the
eight is the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral which is the oldest ,
having been built at around the 1870s.
Sitting on its right is the Capiz Provincial Capitol Complex
that is said to have a simplified take on the Spanish-Filipino architecture. It
was designed by an American architect, William Parsons, which could be the
reason why art enthusiasts can detect a hint of the bright and clear California
feel on the building.
Right at the entrance of the Capiz Provincial Capitol
Complex is also an American-era inspired statue of our National Hero, Dr. Jose
Rizal. Although it stands on the center of a parking lot, the capitol building
gives it a good backdrop when viewed from afar.
The last photo I took of the Eight Heritage Monuments was the gazebo (the very first photo on this blog). It was a bit frustrating since we were caught in between the late afternoon rush hour and there were a lot of foot traffic around the structure, thus making it hard to take a photo, so I had to make do of what I have. The gazebo was designed by Architect Jose Roldan who was then the founding director of Capiz School of Arts and Trade, or the now Capiz State University.
I liked Capiz. It was just sad that I didn’t have much time to explore further. We were able to secure souvenirs from the tiangge at the side of the church, though. Hopefully we’d back soon to see what this beautiful province has to further offer!
***Roxas City, Capiz is part of our independently-arranged Panay Backpacking Adventure in hopes that we finish Project 81 (Or visiting all the 81 provinces of the Philippines)!!! You can read our adventures around the Panay Island by clicking the links below:
While everyone is heading to Zambales to experience social beacheneering, I wanted to discover what’s more to the province. I mean, sure, watching a movie on the beach, buffet meals, glamping, and acoustic nights are great but as you grow older, you sort of want the laid-back kind of escape. This is why Masinloc attracted me. I wanted to see Zambales and discover what’s more to the province than surfing, partying, and events.
The road was long. Reaching Masinloc meant hours of driving, passing through several towns. Thank God we have Waze and we were able to dodge several vehicle build-ups. If you are planning to bring your own car, stock up on food and drinks to avoid unnecessary stopovers which can consume more time.
Once we reached the town, we headed straight to the city hall where the town’s tourism office was located. The office was closed and there was no one to greet us. The day before we headed to Masinloc, I was able to get the tourism office’s number and asked if their eco-tour is still being offered to which they replied yes. The price for the tour is 610 Php per head inclusive of snacks, boat rental, lunch, environmental fee, and gear rental fee. Please note that this price is applicable only to groups with a minimum of 10 people. Since we already ate lunch on our way to Masinloc, we took advantage of just the tour which is priced at 410 Php (minimum of 10). We were just 5 in the group so our bill was slightly higher than 410 Php to which we understood since the gas for the boat is expensive. If you are also wondering if you can join any group to fill the group of 10 pax and pay the published rate, their default answer is “no” although we saw another group on their way back to the shore as we were leaving. I am not ultimately sure if they want every tour exclusive to avoid untoward incidents, but in good faith, this is what I assumed.
The eco-tour started with snorkeling and the viewing of giant clams along the area of San Salvador Island. We hurriedly jumped off the boat to see these for ourselves. There were a lot of giant clams on the sea bed but most of them were already dead. The bangkeros told us that there were typhoons that washed the land from the mountains to the sea and the impact overwhelmed the ecosystem below. In spite of the fact that it is recovering, the phase can be slow and can take years. The community is currently taking care of what’s left of the life below.
The sea of Masinloc is rich and we saw different kinds of starfishes around. I initially thought they were fake because of the good quality they are in until they moved their arms as if to say “hey sucker bring us back to the water!” (hahaha sorry). The current was a bit strong (even underwater) because of the typhoon but on good days, the bangkeros mentioned that the sea is blue and sparkling! I would love to see that one day!
After battling the tide and viewing the underwater paradise, we then headed to Yaha Island or the mangroves. We were provided kayaks to roam around the area and it was sheer fun playing kayak tag. My friends and I were also briefed as to which flower is male or female. The male mangrove is planted while the female is the fruit (that is if I remember correctly. I was not able to take notes because of the excitement I was feeling that time :P). We were also given the chance to plant new mangrove seeds. Although this isn’t as grand as you might imagine it to be, knowing that the tour included this part, and considering the number of people participating in every tour, it’s a huge effort in conserving these mangrove areas!
The last stop of the tour was the Bacala Guesthouse. It was raining hard by the time we were approaching the island that it looked like we were in some franchise of Silent Hill!
The Bacala Guesthouse was originally put up to shelter tired fishermen seeking refuge after hours of working. It is situated on a sandbar that manifests itself during low tide. We were there when that happened. After having lunch at the Bacala Guesthouse, the tide slowly calmed and we found ourselves on a white-sand, absolutely enchanting sandbar, adorned with sea urchins, shells, and sea cucumbers! It was almost magical! Don’t forget to bring a packed lunch if you will be choosing the same package as ours. You also have to remember to take your trash with you! Sadly, among the sea creatures lying around the sandbar were plastic wrappers and even a consumed bottle of alcohol. I was turned off by this. We took the initiative to pick up the trash other tourists left behind.
After frolicking around Bacala Guesthouse, we had to leave and head to our accommodation. We thanked the kuyabangkeros and apologized for arriving late. When we visited, there was still no bathroom to change to dry clothes on. It was still under construction and cannot be used to shower. Thankfully, we found a small space to change clothes on.
We then headed to DFarm and Park which was around 10 minutes away. We were stunned by how beautiful the place was even from the outside. It was adorned with colorful and blooming flowers and it was just as it was shown on TV, probably even better! The best part about the resort is that it is very affordable for a quality place such as this! We stayed at the Guest House for 3,000 Php. It can house 4 people comfortably. We had our own bathroom, a television, a fridge, and a second floor where 2 people can stay. It has a porch where we had our meals and lounged about assessing how beautifully our trip turned out.
The main feature of DFarm and Park probably was their infinity pool that is overlooking the South China Sea. You can also admire the wondrous blue while in their jacuzzi, right beside the infinity pool. For those addicted to Instagram, this place is something you’ll undoubtedly enjoy. But aside from those features, the highlight of the place for me is the serene atmosphere that sort of welcomes you out of the clutches of the city. DFarm and Park, that day, was my oasis.
Masinloc, Zambales is many wonderful things. It may be far but its distance is its charm. The Zambales I knew was crowded and knocking towards toxic tourism. But Masinloc was different. It still belonged to the locals and to nature.
Masinloc Tourism: (0915) 4518246 or (0912) 4905877
Guimaras intimidated me. I usually stay away from touristy places because of the stress. I hate it when barkers call for you relentlessly despite refusing their offer for the hundredth time. I am also afraid of being ripped-off by my fellow kababayans. Upon setting foot at Jordan Port, Guimaras, there were swarms of people and my anxiety level rose. Thank goodness my impressions were nothing but. The port of Jordan had a system that is convenient for everyone! Imagine how relieved I was!
We began our journey at 7 in the morning by heading to the Ortiz Wharf in Iloilo. We were lucky because it was just a jeepney ride away from the Centennial Plaza Hotel where we were staying. It was the last day of our Panay Island adventure and we just couldn’t leave not seeing Guimaras. My worry began when we reached Ortiz Wharf where we met a flock of people from all walks of life, all waiting to get a ride to the other side. Some were students, others are employees in uniform—you can’t even distinguish locals from tourists because everyone had this busy look on their faces. “This may be a good sign because the province is progressive”, I thought to myself. Then a pang of worry hit me. I’ve seen tourism-progressive places and it was scary!
The boat from Iloilo to Jordan, Guimaras leaves every 15 minutes from 6 AM to 6:30 PM daily. We were able to depart the port immediately to our delight. The boat ride was smooth, easy, and fast and we arrived in Guimaras in around 10 to 15 minutes. As we disembarked from the boat, we saw men calling the attention of tourists. I thought they were the same as those I have seen and feared before. My instinct dictated that I had to look for the local tourism office to avoid being scammed and I was grateful to see that there is a helpdesk situated right at the entrance of the port. The lady was kind and accommodating and she told us that there is a fixed rate and system for all tours and I can freely approach anyone of the men hailing for us without worrying about being duped.
True enough, we approached one and he immediately called for a tricycle that was next in line. I thought to myself that I should finally let go of the worry because they even have an organized queue for their transportation. Kuya asked us where we wanted to go so that he can advise us of the tour package rate. Since we were under time pressure because of our flight back to Manila, we told him that we just wanted to see the beach and some tourist locations along the way. He immediately knew where to bring us and off we went to Raymen Resort.
It was a fairly long drive of around 40 minutes or so to reach Alubihod Beach in Nueva Valencia, the southernmost part of Guimaras Island. While we were headed to our destination, we thought how the trip was worth the price because of the length of the travel. Kuya also talked to us along the way and we had fun conversing with him. He was friendly and very knowledgeable of the best places to go for tourists beating the clock, like us.
One thing we noticed was how cool the breeze is in Guimaras. It was not just because we were moving along on a tricycle but it has that crisp, provincial air that you never get in Manila, not even during the “ber” months. The roads were also paved nicely. The sun was up and it was just too beautiful. There were Mango trees wherever we looked and all of them cannot look any healthier! We heard that in Guimaras, importing of mangoes is forbidden. This is to prevent any disease or genetic alteration of their very own product. I perfectly understood this rule because Guimaras Mangoes are not only famous nationwide, but worldwide too! It’s exported and revered for its sweet taste and high quality.
We immediately arranged our island hopping tour upon arriving at Raymen Beach Resort. For a fair price of 600 Php on our first hour and an additional of 200 Php for every succeeding hour, we couldn’t complain, especially when we saw our boat! I was used to island hopping on a small fishing boat but this was different! It looked like a boat that can transport 15 people! We were delighted! We were also given a copy of our itinerary which included 7 destinations. Unfortunately, again, we cannot stay for a long time because of our flight back to Manila. We asked the captain of the boat and his assistant for their recommendation on the best place to go and they suggested to try Natago Beach Resort. I also noticed the Sea Turtle Sanctuary on our itinerary and inquired about it but they said that there are no longer Sea Turtles around the area. They probably have migrated or it just wasn’t their laying season.
Natago Beach is picturesque! In fact, it has a deck with a view fit for your Instagram whims! The rock formations around the beach is divine and you can tell how the place is meticulously taken care of by the owner. The radiant sun accented the white sand and the cerulean waters were as clear as it can get. The sand is also white and it makes you wonder why people swarm famous, crowded beaches when they can go here. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t leave. It was paradise! I even purchased fresh Buko Juice served right from the fruit!
After frolicking around, we were reminded of the reality that we had to go home. I took one last look of Natago Beach as we were sailing away and promised to return for a longer stay. We also appreciated the captain’s initiative to at least sail us around where we can view the other destinations even from afar. I guess they had guests like us who had broken hearts because of the little tim ethey had to enjoy Guimaras to the fullest. We saw the cliff-diving site, the island owned by Gina Lopez, the Ave Maria Islets, and many other places which I wanted so much to go back to one day.
We settled our payment back at Raymen Resort after washing up and met with Kuya who opted to wait for us. I also bought souvenirs at the resort. I love how convenient the shop is! They had key chains shaped like mangoes and shirts that said “Guimaras”.
On our way home we stopped by the Mango Research and Development Center and marveled at the gigantic trees caving in on the field. The main mission of the organization is to develop methods that are economical and environment friendly to sustain the major source of industry of the province. If you ask me, I would say that they are doing a great job at it!
I also had to take an obligatory photo of the word “GUIMARAS” right in front of the Provincial Capitol! I was a bit frustrated at this point because my phone died back in Antique (read about our trip HERE) and I had to use my partner’s mobile phone which was slowly draining its battery life.
For pasalubongs, we dropped by the Trappist Monastery. We saw everything that’s mango! They have Mango Otap, Mango Piyaya,Mango Barquillos, Mango Tart—I can go on the whole day!!! I also bought a keychain from a wood taken from the miraculous sinukuan trees. It is said that the wood is only gathered during Good Friday and it has a natural cross on its center pith, no matter which direction or angle you cut. It was even demonstrated to us and although I am not Catholic, I find this moving. It’s like a fusion of modern-day religion, animism, and folk beliefs all in one item. Goes to show how Guimaras value their roots despite the massive change brought by time.
Our last stop was at The Pitstop (no pun intended, it’s really the name of the restaurant!) to try the Mango Pizza! We ordered to go and headed back to Jordan Port where we thanked Kuya for his personalized way of touring us, for making us feel comfortable and at ease, and for waiting for us because he knew our time was really cutthroat. We paid our tab and bid him farewell. On our way back to the city, I recalled telling my partner how I appreciated Guimaras despite of my initial fears. I felt bad for thinking of the province that way when they received us with open arms, providing us an unforgettable experience in a very short time, and showed us paradise that need not a whole day to appreciate. The townsfolk were all friendly and loved their place greatly. I was the evil, outsider doubting their intentions. Guimaras taught met hat there is more than meets the eye. Sometimes, getting a closer look will help you discover the true beauty of things.
How to Go to Guimaras:
From Iloilo, proceed to Ortiz Wharf and ride the sea shuttle or Bangka to Guimaras. (14 Php)
Tricycle Tours: The tricycle land tour has a standard rate of 1,200 Php to 1,500 Php. This is the complete, all-in tour. However, if you are like us who are working under a tight schedule, you can coordinate with your trike driver on which places you would like to see and they will give you a very fair price. This is because they are regulated by the local tourism office.
***Guimaras is part of our independently-arranged Panay Backpacking Adventure in hopes that we finish Project 81 (Or visiting all the 81 provinces of the Philippines)!!! You can read our adventures around the Panay Island by clicking the links below:
10 years ago, I would have gone backpacking without any plans. However, as I grew older, I realized the perils of my old ways. Being the 30+-year-old tita that I am now, I hate unexpected turns. I spend days before my trip planning my day-today activity. La Escapo Mountain Resort in Tibiao, Antique was different. It’s the living proof that the best moments are those you didn’t plan at all.
I initially intended to stay at another resort in Tibiao. I was grateful though that we had a slight miscommunication with the owner of the resort and we ended up not having a place to stay that night. If it weren’t for our van driver at the time, we wouldn’t have met the wonderful people of La Escapo Mountain Resort. We were received with open arms regardless of how hesitant we looked on staying at the resort at first (yes, yes, because it was unplanned). But the moment we were lead to our cottage, all my doubts were gone. The kubo was huge and to think that it’s only 250 Php per person, per night! We had a dining area, a spacey bathroom,and a room equipped with a kulambo and blanket. We were told by Ate Mary Ann that it can get really cold at night and she wasn’t lying! The air was fresh and crisp. Imagine a virgin rainforest…that was what we had. We had trees around us and we can hear the crickets rendering a delightful symphony. We had a good night’s sleep at the resort. I couldn’t be more relieved that the city was miles away from me.
LaEscapo Mountain Resort serves food! We tried their La Escapo Inasal meals which was very generous. Their Chicken Inasal was savory to the very bone and it’s with unlimited rice! Their Grilled Pork was just as delectable and pleasing. We didn’t have problems deciding if we were just starving that’s why the food tasted great: it was really delicious. We even ordered the same meals for the rest of our stay!
With the help of the resort staff, we had our plans laid right from the morning the next day. We started with the trek to Bugtong Bato Falls through the trail in Mount Bandirahan. The hike took around 20 to 30 minutes with the beauty of nature as your backdrop. Our guide is an old woman named Nanay Menen who astonished the living hell out of me. She trod the path with ease while sharing stories about the community of Tibiao. I appreciated her constant reminder for us to take care of our steps and her resolute offer to carry our bags to which we refused almost as determinedly.
Upon reaching Bugtong Bato falls, we were informed by Nanay Menen that the falls is 3 tiers high. The way to the second tier was dangerous because the steps were steeper and slippery. We all agreed we should go regardless and I was worrying about Nanay the whole time. As it turns out, I should be more worried about myself because she didn’t need any help at all! Upon reaching the second tier,we saw the way to the third tier to which we dared (again). It was a scene right out of Indiana Jones. The path was dangerously vertical and we were holding onto ropes. According to Nanay, the path used to be descending through the falls but it was dangerous so they changed it. To tell you the truth, the new trail scared me. It looked thrillingly similar.
The falls and the plunge basin of all 3 tiers were a sight to behold. We decided to take my phone to the third tier because it took clear photos. Sadly, all of the photos were gone now.
We stayed longer on the 1st tier because the water is shallow enough for you to lounge but deep enough to swim on. We were the first visitors of the day and it was a warm thought having shared it with someone inspiring as Nanay Menen. Our way back was a breeze. We made an effort to greet everyone we came across with. For me, this is the least I can do to express my gratitude to the townsfolk: for taking care of this natural wonder and also for sharing with me,an outsider, the beauty of their town. We settled our payment for the environmental fee and guide fee as soon as we were back at the jump off point and gave a little extra to Nanay Menen for being thoughtful the whole trek. We also saw her picking up the food wrappers left by other tourists while waiting for us (there weren’t many, thank goodness!) (we helped, of course!!!) and this further touched our hearts.
Right after, we headed to the river to experience the Tibiao River Tubing! I honestly underestimated the current. Here are 2 friendly, but important reminders:
No matter how good you are in holding on to your stuff, never trust yourself.
2) The current seems calm from where you will be starting but once you reach the middle part of the course, prepare for some drops and twists.
I had to learn the hard way. The resort staff were all discouraging me from bringing my phone. I told them I can manage. Since they saw that I couldn’t be deterred, they gave up and handed me a mobile phone bag/protector. To make the long story short, I found myself totally wet with my phone dead. Damn it. No regrets, though. The experience was gold! I was in a fit of uncontrollable laughter because it was thrilling and it excited me to no end. I had fun being dragged along the river! Our guides warned us for any sharp falls and curves. We survived the fury of Tibiao, River and ended in a stable stream where locals were having their picnic. They were all happy to see us and we were too! Some congratulated us even and offered us shots! It was so cool in its own little way!
It was finally time for some rest and relaxation after the river tubing! We watched as the La Escapo Mountain Resort staff prepared our Kawa Bath. The fire blazed as the water was itching to boil. They placed flowers and herbs in and as soon as it was well-heated, the pleasant smell filled the area. We stayed in the Kawa Bath for almost an hour. It couldn’t get any more relaxing than this. The cold, rainforest air contrasting the warmth of the bath was heaven. The Kawa Bath also came with a free, full-body massage. I was jumping in and out of consciousness at that point. It was so relaxing that I was dozing off! The oil they were using was minty and it was a good choice especially for those who just had a maddening adventure around Tibiao.
After the message, as much as we wanted to stay, we prepared to leave. My heart ached. Being in La Escapo in Tibiao, Antique became, indeed, an escape for me.We never intended to stay here but this was where we ended up in. La Escapo is a place where we learned all about Tibiao. The warmth of Nanay Menen, Ate Mary Ann Marcelino, and Kuya Larry Felipe, to name a few, was unparalleled. I didn’t want to leave and return to the road.
Ever since that day, Antique held its grip on me. It was my unexpected turn. It was an unplanned adventure. But of all the things that I never saw coming, La Escapo and Tibiao, Antique in general, was the most pleasant surprise that I am willing to submit to again. Just like Kuya Larry’s parting words “Mamimiss namin kayo!” Asta sa liwat, Tibiao and I will be back!
Howto go to Tibiao, Antique:
From Iloilo International Airport, ride a van toSM City Iloilo (70 Php)
Take the jeepney bound to Molo Terminal then ride a van bound to Tibiao, Antique. Travelling via van is suggested as it only takes 4 hours without traffic. When you travel by bus, expected travel time is 6 hours minimum. Van Fare is 200 Php while Bus Fare is 110 Php.
Asked to be dropped off in Tibiao and ride a tricycle to the resort. You can coordinate with La Escapo so that they can pick you up.
Mobile Number: (0977) 470 8784 and (0926) 237 6136
***Please be very patient when it comes to their reply to your text messages. There are no stable mobile phone signal in Tibiao, Antique regardless of the resort.
Rates: 250 Php/pax
Hot Bath with massage: 299 Php/pax
Tubing: 399 Php/pax
Bato Falls: 150 Php Guide Fee
***Prices are subject to change. But restassured they are one of the most economical yet quality resorts in Tibiao!
***Antique is part of our independently-arranged Panay Backpacking Adventure in hopes that we finish Project 81 (Or visiting all the 81 provinces of the Philippines)!!! You can read our adventures around the Panay Island by clicking the links below:
(We only spent 3,000 Php on our Brunei trip! Find out how HERE!)
One of the best thrills of travelling is eating! You get to know a country’s characteristic better through their food, and I can attest to that. However, during our visit in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei we were not able to indulge to the fullest. It was Ramadan and though we were not Muslims, we had to comply out of respect.
Good thing our host referred us to Sing U. Me restaurant. It is located in Warisan Complex in Jalan Gadong, right beside our homestay. They serve breakfast and we were very lucky to have found it since we had a long day scheduled ahead.
Upon arriving, we noticed that all the windows were covered with newspaper that day. According to our host, this is to hide the people inside, not because they’re breaking the rules but to not tempt those who are fasting. Sing U Me Restaurant’s patrons were all Chinese or those not fasting that day.
The morning after Raya!
Before Raya, all the windows were covered with paper!
It was also nice to meet fellow Filipinos in the restaurant. Most of Sing U Me’s staff were Pinoys and we were given a bigger serving because of it (I really love how we get to enjoy this treat from our Kababayans anywhere!). We ordered Bah Ku Teh (which has become my favorite food of that trip). Generally, Bah Ku Teh is a pork rib dish in herbal soup usually made of star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and garlic. They add other meat variants to make different types of Bah Ku Teh and at Sing U Me Restaurant, I ordered one with pork intestines!
Bak Kut Teh!!!!
We also ordered a shrimp dish that was to die for! It was coated in garlic and rosemary and was deep fried to perfection! It was served with white rice which is perfect in complimenting the strong taste of the shrimp.
We also ordered 2 sets of dimsums because our appetite was triggered big time! I know this isn’t really something adventurous but we needed to taste something familiar! To top it all off, my partner and I each ordered Kopi C or coffee with evaporated milk.
Overall, we spent 19 BND at Sing U Me. That’s around 900 Php. We went overboard, I know, and it’s because we were very pleased with the experience and the taste of their food. No regrets! Besides, we had to eat to last us the whole day!
Dining at Sing U Me Restaurant was a pleasant and palatable experience. It was different because we had to go in hiding just to eat. It was sort of a thrill. We got to understand Brunei’s culture through this experience. I also had a new found appreciation at how people adapt to each other’s differences in order to leave harmoniously.
Here is how you find Sing U Me Restaurant in Brunei 🙂
If you haven’t heard of Rai Rai Ken yet, I don’t think we’re living in the same planet! Kidding aside, Rai Rai Ken is the forefather of Ramen restaurants here in the country. I have been dining at Rai Rai Ken ever since I was 9! Through the years, the chain has maintained its authentic taste without being distant from the average purchasing foodies! Their equation to success? Quality Ramen + affordable price = a reign of more than 20 years!
🍜🥢🍚 Rai Rai Ken’s Ramen is one of the best in town! Their Miso Ramen is so on-point that the richness of the taste is undoubtedly satisfying. Like all their Tonkotsu-based soup, the pork bones broth base amplifies the flavor of the dish…and OMG the size of the serving! You can actually share this with a friend! Not bad for a Ramen ranging from 250 to 400 Php!
🍜🥢🍚 If you are fond of challenges, you ought to try their Garlic Chili Ramen. This is best eaten during cold weather. It has ox tripe and shrimp which are the ideal grubs to pair with hot Ramen!
🍜🥢🍚 Rai Rai Ken is not only all about Ramen. They also serve Bentos (Japanese lunch box consisting of rice, vegetables, and meat) and Donburis (Japanese rice bowl dish with fish, meat, and vegetables). They are all promising and sumptuous!
🍜🥢🍚 What is a Japanese Restaurant without sushi and maki? They have it here! Just don’t expect the exotic ones, of course. But if you’re looking for the timeless classics like salmon, kani, and tuna, you will not be disappointed!
Rai Rai Ken can still be found in several locations in Metro Manila. I am very to lucky to be living so near it in Cubao! Try their Ramen today and find out why they are standing strong in the market for more than 2 decades!
🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜🥢🍚 🍜
You can find Rai Rai Ken at the Second Floor, Ali Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City! They are open from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. Here’s how you find it:
The rainy season can be a bummer sometimes but since we live in a tropical country, we really don’t have any choice but adapt. That’s the good thing about us locals. We can still find good places to travel to regardless of the season. By the same virtue did we end up at Ten Cents to Heaven one rainy morning.
Monsoon rains got nothing on us. We wanted to go on a food trip and we have our sights on the beautiful Marilaque Road. We knew that with the rain, food trips are more meaningful in a place that amplifies the cold weather.
After some twists and turns, and the heavenly sight of Rizal’s mountains, we found Ten Cents to Heaven. The place was more of a resort/recreational facility than a restaurant. We arrived together with a couple of families planning to check-in and indulge on the weather.
We headed first to their admin office to get a brochure and check what more is in store for us. It turns out, Ten Cents to Heaven isn’t just a resort but also a team building venue. They have obstacle courses, zip line, even a hanging bridge! Wait hold it…they also have a rappelling tower! It was just a shame that it was raining that day and some of the activities weren’t available for safety reasons.
Their restaurant, Camp Cafe Resto Bar, is located at the end of the trail on the entrance’s left side. Along the path were beautiful trees which added to the cool, provincial feel. It was as if we were strolling along Camp John Hay in Baguio! If you like taking photos or selfies, then this place is for you too! Everything is just picturesque!
When we arrived at the restaurant, we were pleased with the view! This was exactly how we pictured our food trip session: overlooking the world below, chilly, and comfortable! Their menu is also extensive! From an array of local main courses, down to dessert and coffee!
We ordered Pork Steak and Fish in Soy and Garlic, and we weren’t disappointed! The fish was superb and tasty. It was soft and could seemingly melt in your mouth! The oriental flavor of the soy lingers longer in your mouth and the garlic compliments it without taking the spotlight off the fish! The Pork Steak was good too. I like that it was fried to the core, first before it was cooked in steak sauce. It was crunchy and it has a Filipino-style kind of sweetness because of the sauce. The sabaw, by the way, is great over steamed rice!
After dining, a curious cat approached us and asked for attention. Who are we to deny him of that?! Plus he was clean and super cute! According to the staff, there is someone who takes care of stray cats like him who happened to found home within Ten Cents to Heaven’s premise. The place just got more beautiful in our eyes!!!
Ten Cents to Heaven is indeed a good place to visit with your family. Heck, you can even bring your whole work department here for some adrenaline pumping activities! If you just needed to relax and take the time off from the busy city, then this is the pill for your weariness. Ten Cents to Heaven can also replenish bonds too with their team building facilities. Or if you’re like us who are just looking for places to satisfy our hunger, then Camp Cafe and Resto should be your next destination!
Camp Cafe is located at Sitio Mayagay II, Brgy. Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal. Below is where to find them on Google Maps!