Ethnic Boutique, Tabuk: An Oasis in the Mountains

Tabuk, Kalinga is known to be the portal to the ever so famous Buscalan. Many tourists roam around the town, all excited to their soon encounter with the legendary Whang Od or the country’s oldest mambabatok (traditional art of tattooing using bamboo stick and pomelo thorn. Ash is used as ink). Not known to the public, Tabuk has its own charm.

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One of Tabuk’s hidden treasure is Ethnic Boutique, located at FF Cruz, Bulanao Centro. My partner and I were looking for places to hang out the afternoon before my cousin’s wedding day when we accidentally stumbled upon the place. We were expecting to have the famed Kalinga Coffee over our usual musings. What we didn’t expect was how beautiful the place is.

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Everything was on point. It was Ethnic, alright! In every corner of Ethnic Boutique you will see the customary Igorot tapestry. The lush vegetation enveloping the cafe is a treat to the senses. It made the place an oasis to weary travelers. We arrived just right after lunch and there were no dishes left to prepare probably because of the influx of people dining. We waited for their merienda instead which is all good because the view is stunning.

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We stationed at the farthest corner of Ethnic Boutique, closest to the open view of the farmlands. The mountain seemed so near and smelled so near. It was something you would want to hold on to after being in the city for the longest time. The air was the freshest I have ever been exposed to. It was the antithesis to my usual toxicity of Aurora Boulevard.

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There were also different variations of native wines displayed. You can opt to buy from them and have it served with your meal. Their specialty wine is the Bugnay Wine or wine made from fermented wild berries. Pineapple wine and Guava wine were also available. We didn’t buy though. There’s a good place near the market that sells them cheaper.

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Ethnic Boutique serves unlimited Kalinga Coffee! While waiting for their afternoon serving, we indulged ourselves to the unlikely combination of coffee and cucumber iced tea. I know, I know. We were very hydrated and happy. We also got to meet the dogs and cats in the area. There was even a mama dog with her puppies. All were friendly and tamed.

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We ordered their buttered chicken and organic rice. It was so good, in fact, that after finishing our meal, we ordered a round of fries. Our palettes were not disappointed. If it was something about the cool weather that made us extra hungry, or the welcoming scenery, or their meals were just scrumptious to the core, we will never know. All we knew at that time is that Ethnic Boutique made us warm in delight.

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Ethnic Boutique is one of the places that gave us the full Tabuk experience. We were fortunate that we’ll always have the comfort of returning since my relatives are from the area. I would suggest that should you visit the cafe when you happen to make Tabuk your stopover or destination, better come on time for lunch. You will be able to choose more from their menu!

Here’s a rough map to Ethnic Boutique. If all else fails, you can ask the townsfolk where Ethnic Boutique is!

 

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Kawayan Farm Pililia, Rizal: Dine With Mother Nature

Do you ever miss the simple life? Having to eat a gracious, fulfilling meal with nature buzzing around you; strolling after dining, having talks in between about life and whatnot? How about a literal breath of fresh air that we find so rare nowadays?  When was the last time you’ve given your respiratories a treat? This is the reason why we searched far and wide to have a meal at Kawayan Farm, Pililia, Rizal.

 

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Hidden in the picturesque roads of Pililia, Rizal is a restaurant  that promises to remind you the simple joys of life. From the outside, you will be greeted by an array of bamboo and native installments that looks as though it’s stretching its arms in a frenzy of warm welcome. Once you enter Kawayan Farm, you will also be greeted by their resident Philippine Macaque, Muymuy. It was love at first sight for me. The staff allowed us to give him ripe mangoes. According to them, he loves fruits a lot! As a sign of his gratitude, and perhaps excitement, Muynuy bounced in elation and have us an amazed look. This was a heart-warming moment for me.

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Muymuy: “Master has given me mango!”

We were given a choice to eat inside the restaurant or in one of their kubos (native hut) outdoors. Definitely, we chose the kubo for a full experience. The hut where we dined in can fit 4 people having a meal comfortably. It has an electric fan and a complete dining set. There was also a lingering tegu inside the net that contained the dried cogon roof. While this can be something that can put customers off, I was honestly glad to see one. Goes to show how healthy the environment still is in this side of Rizal. The air was fresh and had a hint of the faint aroma of burning leaves or “siga” which is a treat to my senses because it takes me back to the good old days in the province.

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While waiting for our food to be served, my partner and I wandered around the premise. We found a small bamboo chapel complete with an altar, pews, and stations of the cross along the pathway. It looked serene, solemn, and in touch with nature despite its simplicity. The church is still open and is still holding mass as displayed by the entrance.

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Kawayan Farm also has a Bamboo forest which we gladly hiked. Just be careful, though, as the trail tends to be slippery when wet. It will also help to apply a mosquito repellent if you are not used to the great outdoors (just for safety measures). While on the trail, please do not bring food and avoid littering at all cost!

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Opposite of the trail is the Viewpoint here you can marvel at the mountain-side view of Pililia. We were taken by the site of Laguna de Bay peeking from behind the ridges of Rizal. Although there was an electricity line running across the scenery, it was just too darn beautiful to be spoiled by that.

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Along the path, you can find signs introducing you to the “Kawayan” (Bamboo tree) and how we can benefit from it. According to one of their signage, the Kawayan plays a big role against soil erosion, a major effect of deforestation. This is timely since there are some parts of Rizal where logging is prevalent. The signs also mention the many uses of this sturdy tree. You can create furniture from Bamboo, rafts, and even the house itself.

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There were also different kinds of Bamboo which surprised me. All the while I thought there was only one class of Bamboo! Among those I saw at Kawayan Farm are the Australian White, the Thailand Bamboo, and the Pole Vault Bamboo, each slightly different from the other.

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Chickens were also free roaming. We saw a huge rooster and even joked about him being the inspiration for Foghorn J. Leghorn of Looney Tunes. Yeah, we’re old.

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Our food was served as we were returning from our hike. We ordered Kawayan Farm’s specialty, Bulalo (beef shank stew). The serving was generous just as the staff honestly described. It can feed 3 to 5 people and had we ordered more, we would not have been able to finish it. Such a tragic waste!

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I can also tell why Bulalo is their specialty. How do I say this without overly patronizing Kawayan Farm Restaurant? Their Bulalo is the tastiest I had in a long time! The soup reminds me so much of a well seasoned corned beef that was manufactured and sealed to goodness! The beef tasted so fresh and succulent and there was no sign of artificial flavoring!

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The staff were nice and caring. Their hospitality is gold. They even instructed for us to clap to get their attention if we need anything to which we did not do. We find it degrading on their end.

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The meal at Kawayan Farm was hearty, palatable, and abundant. It was well-worth the drive! It wasn’t just a restaurant but an overall experience going back to basics. It serves as a reminder that it is still satisfying to share a meal with Mother Nature once in a while.

Kawayan Restaurant is located here:

 

Lubang Island: A Story Told By Many

Lubang Island for me is a trove of beautiful memories. I could clearly recall those summer afternoons I spent biking around town, trying to imprint every landmark in my young mind: the church, my great grandfather’s house in the corner of E. Quirino and L. Abeleda, the backyard with a pugon stove, and the school where my mother used to go to.

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I would always associate the island with April showers which would seem to rain on me at times my cousin and I hung out at the Plaza. Its yellow petals that have fallen from the trees were like sand burying my toes. Lubang Island was part of my childhood. It was part of my mother’s childhood. Lubang Island was a part of my late grandmother’s childhood.

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behind my mom is the house of my great grandparents 🙂

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Mommy at Our Lady of Assumption Church

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Stella Maris School

It’s a wonder to me, though, why the world has not raved about the island yet. At this day and age of aggressive local tourism, why hasn’t Lubang Island been found? Should I blame the island’s mysticism?

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Mama (my grandmother) would fondly tell me stories about Lubang while the 90’s prevalent blackout plagued us in Kamuning. She once talked about how a number of Japanese fleets during World War II tried docking on its pristine shores. Since their intentions were vile, the shore seemed to turn to soap, giving them a laborious time disembarking until they were spooked to their wits and called it a day.

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The beaches of Lubang Island, were anything but soap but everything that is clear and uncorrupted. It serves as a testimony that you need not spend more to witness the beauty of Bali or the Bahamas. I only spent 1,500 Php to get to and from the island comfortably. My heart raced upon the sight of the vast oceans that had taken the extreme end of Teal in the color wheel. I am not even exaggerating! My mother recounted stories of how she collected shells in Tumibo when she was young and I have validated those stories myself when I caught a glimpse of that beach for the first time. Imagine a shore covered with seashells, ruined by the waves but still elegantly alluring…and the mangroves! It was so new to me at that time that I am conflicted between swimming or just looking at the beautiful scenery!

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Photo Credit: Delahyde Blog

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My grandfather (Papa, as we fondly called him), narrated to us once about a story of a giant who set foot on one of the beaches in Lubang. In the process, he left his footprint and this has then made one beach famous. Binacas was the name given by the townsfolk to this place and up until today, you can see the footprint in the ocean, I kid you not!

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However, Binacas is more than just a tall tale (excuse my pun). The local government developed it to a park/public resort, providing chairs and tables among the beautiful trees so that visitors can dine and lounge about. Binacas beach is entrancing because of its headlands trapping the ocean. It is as if you have been transported to Hawaii, only better.

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The residents of Cabra Island, Lubang has stories to tell too. As Filipinos, religion plays an integral part among the people that is why when Mary, the mother of Jesus, chose to manifest herself to the people of Cabra, a whiff of devout service was instilled among the people. According to local accounts, our Lady of Cabra wanted them to build a church, 30 meters wide to aid people away from sin. My mother was present during one of the apparitions but she was too young to understand then. My great grandmother, Lola Bertha Sanchez-Valbuena saw how the cross danced wildly as prayers of the people swelled.

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From the supernatural and divine, miracles through will also happened in the island. Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda will never be forgotten by history and will be remembered by the people of Lubang as the Japanese soldier who went in hiding in the mountain forest and caves of Mount Puting Bato. He was so resourceful that he utilized nature during those toilsome decades to survive while entertaining himself (he has a music room) and even preserve his food using the river. He refused to lose himself to the long years and has emerged a hero by his country for surviving the war. He was reunited with the island in his later years and put up a school and means of livelihood for the locals. What’s left of  his tale are the caves you can visit along the trail.

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There are countless other chronicles that I, and the people who lives (and have lived) in Lubang Island, can tell. Lubang has a rich history and a vivid culture. Had you witnessed how they celebrate Holy Week and Flores de Mayo, I will bet that you’ll return annually and be part of it until it grows as your personal tradition.

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Photo Credit: Lubang Island Tourism FB Page

Having written all these, I am again at a loss as to why Lubang, Island isn’t as famous as it deserves…but after hearing all these stories, I am comforted with a resolution: the island will bloom at its own time. Like a flower, it is reserving and nurturing itself until such moment that it is ready to bloom. It will astound tourists soon and I trust that the time is at hand. After all, Lubang Island isn’t just a sight for the eyes but a whole legend that will enchant the other senses.

 

For more information about the island, you can visit their FACEBOOK PAGE.

 

Barangay Taboc: R & R in San Juan La Union

With this scorching heat, it’s a sin not to crave for the beach…and when you say “beach”, it’s hard not to associate it immediately with the waves of La Union! Elyu, as the “now” crowd refers to it, is the core of everything that makes us a tropical island. The beach is stunning, the sand–although not immaculately white–compliments the clear blue sky of the province, the locals are friendly (and ripped! Have you seen their bodies?!), and the waves are the most versatile I’ve seen.

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God bless these waves!

San Juan, La Union is easily identified as the Surfing Capital of the North. Crowds flock Barangay Urbiztondo, equipped with their colorful surfing gears and radiating enthusiasm. But don’t you just wish for a quieter place sometimes, where you can enjoy the real essence of being out of town? Or probably a lesser crowd to judge you based on your wipe-outs?

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Quinsaats in the house yo!

Lucky for us, we have Urbiztondo’s chaste sister, Barangay Taboc. It is a refuge for those who still seek the provincial feel of La Union without totally abandoning it’s touristy charm. Personally, I find this version of San Juan better.

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The place has a sort of boardwalk (a road behind the main road) street where people would stroll in the morning and late afternoons amidst the salt-laced air, while the others would bike from one end to another with the beach as their backdrop. Such a perfect set-up for those who crave for the simple life.

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Me, reverse-bombing my lola, tito, and titas while strolling.

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Biking is a legit mode of transpo here

Accommodation in this part of San Juan, La Union is affordable, yet, of good quality. You can be a backpacker but sometimes, you long for privacy and at times like such, it’s a comfort knowing there are places like these two that you can rely on:

  1. Mang Juan Place

Contact Number: (0918) 2410694

Email: mangjuanplace@gmail.com

This is my homestay of choice. The best thing about this is that the rooms are clean, private, and cozy. For 2000 Php, you get a room that can fit 5 people (500 Php in excess of 3) comfortably. They also provide you an extra mattress that is thick enough to send you to slumberland in the most pleasant way.

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Here, you don’t have to worry about sharing a bathroom. You’ll have the privacy of your own which is rare for homestays this affordable. You also get a television in your own room and the air condition is working really well.

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The place also has a store at the back just in case you have forgotten your essentials or you suddenly have a munchie attack in the middle of the night.  Their common area is equipped with speakers and a television, as well. They also have a kitchen that you are free to use should you need to cook anything.

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The owner’s father was very pleasant. Upon our arrival he toured us around the place which was why I was able to see the rooms that are vacant. Probably the best part of the house for me is the balcony where I get to have a full view of the sunset! The next time that I will be visiting, I hope I get to have the room next to the balcony!

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The whole family calling for me to join them 😛

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Mornings are best viewed in the balcony of Mang Juan’s

If you are also concerned about safety, Mang Juan values this by locking the gates at night.

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In the morning, they also provide you free coffee which is a big deal for me!

2. NorMi2’s Beach Front Resort

Probably one of the pioneers in the area, NorMi2’s Beach Front Resort has all types of rooms that you can choose from. They have a dorm-type room, kubos, family rooms, and standard rooms. You can also choose whether or not to rent an air conditioned one or a fan room. The rooms are pretty much spacey but it was a sad lot, though, that the sink in my family’s shower is clogged.

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COZY~~~!

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Love this native piece!

If you are the type to get tired of the beach easily, Normi2’s has a pool where you can lounge on. This is a big hit with the kids! The resort also has an in-house surf school if you are just starting to learn.

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The resort also has a place for you to do your barbecues. We had fun grilling, drinking beer, and shucking fresh oysters here. Dinner was good because of the place.

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Too lazy to cook? They have a restaurant that can serve you too! They can even prepare a boodle feast for you. Just remember to inform them beforehand.

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Being in Barangay Taboc is a pleasant treat.  Just secure yourself a surfing instructor in case you haven’t tried surfing yet! Although the waves here are tamer (and the beach side has lesser rocks, thank you Lord), if you’re a beginner, you need guidance. Ate Maribel is a great instructor! She’s very patient and she’ll make sure you get to stand up on your board! Contact her at (0915) 8347689 and say hi for me!

 

 

Going around San Juan, La Union is easier on this side too! Ask the owners of the place you will be staying in and they will be more than glad to give you instructions.

Rest and relaxation is ideal here in Barangay Taboc. If you wish to still party in Urbiztondo, don’t fret! It’s just a stone’s throw away! It cannot get any better than this. If you need that much deserved R&R, you can hear the place calling onto you. All you need to do is answer. See you there!

How to go to Taboc, La Union:

**Access is at Atijera St. from main road 🙂

Kaffeeklatsch: Let’s Talk Over Koffee

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are not really ideal days to go and search for an adventure. As Filipinos, we find ourselves paying our respects to our faithful departed. We, however, were in Baguio in a quest for good coffee!

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My aunt and I discovered a humble treasure cove in the form of Kaffeeklatsch. It’s really by pleasant accident that we stumbled upon the place. Our initial plan was to go to Session Road and look for the more popular and easy to find places. Thank goodness the altitude got the best of us, having to ascend 800 meters on the streets of Middle Quarry. Had we taken the cab, chances were we might’ve overlooked this hole in the wall!

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First thing I noticed was their live band! During the time we visited, they were celebrating Halloween! The staff were all in costume and the place was fully decorated with cobwebs, skeletons…you name it! The cafe emanates this relaxed, modern vibe as their dim yellow lights complement the acoustic set and the chill of November. There is also something with half-muted lights that makes you want to share your thoughts. Kaffeeklatsch invited guests to do so.

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Their coffee selection was extensive too! I had a very hard time deciding between their Flavored Koffees and Drip Brew. Not to mention their Chilled Klassiks (ice blended) choices were impressive as well! I ended up ordering their Iced Kaffee Latte and I did not regret it!

I also love the fact that they have an al fresco area. Should you wish to indulge in that Baguio weather, you can choose to sit outside and enjoy your coffee amidst the crisp mountain air. YEP, THIS IS HEAVEN FOR THE SMOKERS! There. I said it. LOL.

Now if you are wondering what this peculiar word means: talking or gossip at an informal gathering where coffee is served. The place really lived up to its name! You can see from the crowd the place attracts a variation of personalities wanting to gab. In every corner of the place, people talk and probably share a fraction of their time with each other. That we did as well.

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It’s such a shame though that we didn’t know the place was holding a Halloween Party or else, we would have participated! Baguio is a place that you really cannot get enough of. My relatives are from Baguio and no matter how often I visit, there is always something new to discover — for instance, Kaffeeklatsch!

**Here’s how you get to Kaffeeklatsch! You can also check their FB PAGE HERE!

 

5 Reasons Why I Hate Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is known for its glorious beaches and majestic mountains. After all, Kota Kinabalu is home to Mount Kinabalu, the 20th most prominent mountain in the world. I have heard of friends going to Kota Kinabalu to trek, dive, and do all sorts of adventure and this is probably what drew me to the place. However, as I spent my 3 days here, I realized there is so much more to hate. Yes, hate!

Hate Reason #1: Kota Kinabalu serves the freshest seafood that you can’t help but binge eat!

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**heavy breathing**

This is something to loath if you are on a diet. I have never seen humongous lobsters in my life! The best place to try these seafood out would be at Sedco Complex’s Seri Selera Kampung Ayer. They have the freshest, biggest, and the widest variation of shellfish, shrimp, and fish! My favorite (aside from the lobster which is a given) would be the Tiger Prawn. I hated every moment as I was munching it because I was worrying about my weight and my shrimp allergies! Yet, this opportunity is too good to miss! I wolfed on the food and shushed my conscience shut! Carpe Diem!

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Seri Selera Kampung Ayer is a little bit on the pricey end, though. If you would like to try cheaper (but same quality!) options, you can head to the Night Market next to the Filipino Market and Le Meridien! Rumor has it that they used to sell exotic food there such as Pangolins and Sea Turtles. Thank goodness they no longer do this!

Hate Reason #2: Kota Kinabalu has the whitest, white-sand beaches and the deepest cerulean waters that you cannot just visit one beach! Talk about moving from one place to another!

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It just gets to you! You never would want to leave! If you are like me who absolutely adores lounging by the beach, I swear, you’ll find your paradise here! This is not even exaggerating! Do not miss going on an island hopping trip in Kota Kinabalu. NEVER! The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park has islands that only exists in tourism books and probably your best, pleasantly feverish, dreams!

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Our first stop was Sapi Island. We were given a life vest and snorkel gear and were left to enjoy the sea…that we did! After a few crazy shots, we explored the vast underwater garden. We saw a number of Sea Urchins and a collection of fishes of different sizes and colors. It was a whole new world under the sea!

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We soon went to Manukan Island which looks like a mini Maldives. There were luxurious hotels and an appealing array of food stalls. You can relax on the shore and enjoy the sun with your pina colada!

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Last stop is Mamutik Island which is fairly different from the first 2 islands. The calm and peaceful atmosphere is best in the late afternoons. There are also lots of water activities you can enjoy here such as Scuba Doo or underwater scooter, Parasailing, and Banana Boat rides! We regret not being able to do all these stuff there since we were running out of time and were scheduled to go to another tourist spot. BOO-HOO!

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awwww

Hate Reason #3: Kota Kinabalu residents are friendly, caring, and hospitable, that it doesn’t make you miss home!

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Kuya Andy from Island Hop Express! Salamat po!

Most of the time, if you are in a tourist spot, people tend to be greedy and all about the ka-ching. Here in Kota Kinabalu, we met people who sincerely would wish you well and have a good time! We met Kuya Andy. He is a Filipino who lived in Kota Kinabalu most of his life. He owns Island Hop Express (head to COUNTER 10!!!) in Jesselton Point and while most of the travel agencies offer their tour packages at 180 RM to 250 RM, he offers his tours for as low as 50 RM! He even went his way and fixed our schedule so we can have another tour and see the Proboscis Monkeys and Fireflies! He took care of everything. He even sent us off to ride the van going to the Klias River.

Our van driver, Machai (to book van tours, you can reach out through his FB page), is very considerate and friendly. He talked to us throughout the whole trip and made sure we enjoyed every second of it. He shared his experiences visiting the places we were going to and made recommendations on which places to visit the next time we happen to end up at Kota Kinabalu again. You would feel that it’s not your usual lip service since he runs a business. The sincerity in connecting is there, believe it or not!

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Sir Machai made our trip fun!

We also met Baloo-the Uber Driver who brought us to Tanjung Aru. He told us beautiful stories about the Kota Kinabalu Sunset and how he left his corporate job just to enjoy time with his wife.

And we can never ever forget Mr. Lee Thien Fook! He is the owner and the mind behind Signal Hill Eco Farm! During our visit, he was very hospitable and even served us the MOST delicious BANGUS that I have ever tasted! This is not an exaggeration! He grew it in his own farm and was bred organically.  We also met his wife who has the warmest smile among all we have met in Kota Kinabalu!

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The amazing Mr. Lee Thien Fook

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The missus wearing the friendliest smile in all of KK ❤

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I have never loved Bangus so much!

Hate Reason #4: If you are an insomniac, their top of the line–not to mention, exquisite– coffee variations, will do you no good.

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Have you heard of Malaysian White Coffee? If you are raving about it, then that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We found a souvenir store in Suria Sabah Mall called BR and Toys which sells a wide range of coffee choices! From your regular array of Ipoh White Coffee to the more exotic Kopi Luwak (from civet poop!), you will definitely suffer a period of pleasant insomniac nights! Why pleasant? If you are in paradise, why is there a need to sleep anyway?

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Steven was an amazing Sales person! He gave us what we needed, not what’s expensive!

What really got me was their Durian Coffee. Other people would abhor the smell of the fruit but I tell you: Kota Kinabalu’s Durian Coffee is a must-experience! While I do not expect much from airport coffee shops, when I ordered Durian Coffee at Cafe de Jesselton Kopitiam, my faith was turned about. The aroma filled the place and I was even sort-of proud to have ordered it (LOL). It was a good experience to my senses!

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Durian Coffee love

Even Kota Kinabalu’s basic coffee is not-so! Every night we would go out of our homestay just to have coffee at Wong Kok Restaurant. The place is like an old eatery but their Kopi-O and Kopi-C is anything but ordinary!

Hate Reason #5: Kota Kinabalu is home to many animals and plants species that you have probably never heard of. Sucks to be you.

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Proboscis Monkey photos because they are so hard to spot!

I knew that the Rafflesia (only the world’s largest bloom!) can be found in the mountains of Kota Kinabalu. What I did not know is that you can also find the Villose Pitcher Plant, the Sun Bear, Pangolin, the Slow Loris, and the Proboscis Monkey here!  During our last day in Kota Kinabalu, I didn’t let the chance pass to see the Proboscis Monkey in Kota Belud and also take the Firefly River cruise. I was comforted by the idea that industrialization has not taken wildlife completely. There are places like Kota Kinabalu that preserves and co-exists with their flora and fauna harmoniously!

 

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Us–scanning the forest for the rare sight of Proboscis Monkeys!

So with all that being said, do I REALLY, REALLY hate Kota Kinabalu? The answer is still YES. I am so frustrated that I cannot stay longer. 3 days was not enough to digest and absorb this paradise and all it’s beauty. I hate Kota Kinabalu because it made me miss the days I had there now that I am back home in the Philippines…and in so much passionate ire, I vow to come back and stay longer!

 

 

 

Momarco Resort: One With Nature

Living in Cubao has its ups and downs. For one, it’s just plain bothering how busy the streets are even at 3 in the morning. The good thing, though, is that it is very accessible to different places where you can get that much deserved relaxation–for an instance, Momarco Resort in Tanay, Rizal.

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My visit to Momarco Resort was not really planned. I just came home from work (yes, nightshift!) and my grandmother and aunt wanted to spend some time away from the city. Through referrals from good friends, they found this resort. The travel time to Momarco is a good hour to an hour and a half without heavy traffic. To be fair, we did not take the Montalban route but instead took the Sumulong road which can be congested at times because of schools along it.

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We arrived at Sampaloc road which eventually led to the resort. I suggest that you drive slow once you pass the road heading to Daranak Falls. Momarco Resort is deep in the mountains and the only way for you to determine that you would need to make a right turn is through Google Maps or the small signage along the highway.  It’s all rough road after the turn until you reach the resort proper. If you will be taking the public transport, it is best to proceed to the Tanay Jeepney Terminal and ride a trike. It’s a little bit expensive at Php 150 to Php 200, but the length to which you will be travelling compensates the price.

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We were welcomed by a picturesque site upon arriving at the resort. There were trees everywhere! The receiving station is elegant with rattan couches, tables, and chairs. What I like most is the calesa at the center of the receiving area. It looked charmingly simple, festive, and welcoming, just like the Rizalenos!

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They have an in-house bar called Bathala Bar which serves a variety of cocktails and bar chow. There is also a stage probably for acoustic nights and other shows.

One of the highlights of Momarco Resort is its mini zoo. I can tell from their collection of animals that the owner is a reptile fan. There were snakes. Huge ones, but docile and enthralling (if you are into them)! They also have an aviary of cockatiels and lovebirds, which is another one of my interests! There is also a pond-full of Kois and if you would ask me, they are very much well-taken care of considering their size!

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Rock Balancing is an art form that is a cross of physics and a person’s ability to exercise patience. An organization, Rock Balancing Philippines, took their art here at Momarco Resort. They have a designated place for the art and if you would look around and pay close attention, you would see rocks on top of each other around the place! Oh yes, we tried it!

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My entry with Kim’s at the background 🙂

Momarco Resort also houses a Bonsai Garden. There is so much to see! I wanted to take a picture of every Bonsai plant! All of them looked well-crafted that their branches stretched evenly and gracefully!

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Of course, Momarco Resort wouldn’t be called such if it weren’t for their pools! The main pool is extensive. There is even an aisle to the center, accented with lush greens. Just be careful, though, and be mindful of the varying depth of the pool.

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Their man-made lagoon and waterfalls are sights to behold! The water is cold and refreshing, just like in real ones! It’s not as deep and you can just hang out and relax here.

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Normally, when I travel after work shifts, I instantly fall asleep at the sight of a bed. Here, I was more alive than ever. My titas, titos, cousins, ,lolas (2 of them! This turned out as a spontaneous mini-reunion), and my dad all enjoyed good conversation over the best home-cooked meals! You can bring your own here, heck you can even cook here! There is just a small corkage fee that you would have to pay in respect to their restaurant. I just sat there after swimming and chit-chatted with them.

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Here’s the (not-so) baby doggy I met while the family is bonding. He was begging for food so I gave him liempo and in return–this selfie 🙂

Nights here at Momarco are peaceful. It may be because it’s a weekday but you cannot deny the fact that the place just gives you that flora and fauna vibe. It may even unleash your inner Ceres. While my uncles were drinking the night away, I just lounged near our room which is a good walk up a makeshift stairs. I didn’t have a photo of the room we stayed in because of my makukulit cousins but they do offer a good space to sleep. We stayed at their Regular A/C room for 4, which has 2 bunk beds and a wide bath. You can even request (with extra charge but it was free for us. one of my uncles has this chikador character and is the town doctor) for extra mattresses since the room is spacey! Take note, the room rates are very affordable! This room only costed us no more than Php 3,000!

Momarco Room

Photo Courtesy of Momarco Website

Come morning, I was woken by jovial music. Funny, I knew instantly it was Zumba! I expected to see mothers dancing to the upbeat music, and I was correct! This made me inexplicably cheerful! I dressed up and hurried to the Lanai Restaurant. We ordered silogs and my morning requirement: iced coffee! Their breakfast is considerable but their iced coffee is good! I also like the paper flowers on the wall. Such a sight to see in the morning!

Outside the dining hall, there is a quaint photo exhibit of what defines Rizal. There were pictures of festivals, mountains, and people from different walks of life. It would have been better if these photos were framed or placed inside the hall where people can muse over them. The photos showed the essence of Rizal! How I love exhibits like these!

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Sadly, I was not able to fully explore the place. Apparently, there is so much to see! They have a bike park, pump track, and a hiking trail! Had I known, I would have hiked that morning!

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When it was time for me to go home (I went home earlier than my family due to appointments! argh~), I decided to do the trike-UV express way. It was a friendly-enough trip but I hated the part near SM East Ortigas. It was congested and my initiation back to the real world.

Overall, my stay in Momarco Resort was pleasant. It simply revives a person inside. If you are the kind of person who is borderline workaholic and cannot go far from the city, then this place is right for you. Momarco Resort is one of the reasons I like living in Cubao. Places like this is easy to reach!

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***How to Go to Momarco Resort***

  1. Take the FX/UV Express from Edsa Central or Starmall bound to Tanay Market. — Php 70
  2. From Tanay Market, ride the trike to Momarco! – Php 150 – 200

**Momarco Resort is located at Sampaloc Road, Sitio Bathala, Bgy. Plaza Aldea, Tanay, Rizal. You can visit their WEBSITE or call the numbers on the website for a faster and more comfortable booking experience!