Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hey! It’s Her Birthday Again. – A Backpacking Weekend in Pangasinan

Birthdays always warrant a trip.  At least for my family it does specially when it’s the little girl (who’s not so little anymore) who’s celebrating.  For June 2014, we took a trip to Bolinao with my husband’s family.  They had originally thought of going to a beach at Batangas.  However, I didn’t quite like the idea of having to bring our own water to use for bathing and not having at least a fan because there wasn’t any electricity to reckon with.  So, of course I had to look for an althernative and Pattar in Bolinao was my choice. 

 As always, we left the house at 4 am.  It was going to be our first time to go to Bolinao as a family and Googlemaps said  it would take about  5 to 6 hours to get there.  We didn’t have much time to spend as we were only staying 24 hours at most and getting to our destination early would give us a few more hours to play or laze at the beach or go elsewhere around the area. 
While the trip was scenic and the lighting in the blue and golden hours was perfect for a photo shoot, the travel time was not as we expected.  We reached Bolinao at almost 1 pm – almost 9 hours after.  Of course we stopped a few times - Once to have breakfast for 1 hour at Lakeshore along NLEX before proceeding to SCTEX, 15 minutes to have the tire checked, and about 3 times at 10 minutes give or take at each stop to take a leak. Bolinao  is a  municipality of the province of Pangasinan.   It is located in the northern western  coast  of  Luzon at the opposite direction of Baguio. With that distance, we had anticipated to get there by noon.

True enough, it was lunchtime when we got there so first stop was at the Bolinao Seafood Grill ATBP.  I had originally planned to have our lunch at the Bolinao waterfalls because we brought food anyway.  However, it was really cloudy with the rain about to fall and hubbydubby was already hungry that I didn’t think it was good to trek anymore.  The resto turned out to be a very good choice.  A plate of medium sized succulent and freshly cooked shrimps cost 160 to 190, mussels cost about 120 pesos per serving of about 2 to 3 persons, etc.  We had pinakbet (it would be a sin not to have it being in the Ilocos region), some grilled pork, 2 plates of shrimps, mussels,  and rice of course.  That cost only 700 pesos more or less.  Not bad conidering there were 7 of us.  What made it a great meal was that everything really tasted very delicious. 
After lunch we headed to Coco’s beach resort where we were booked for the night.  It turned out that not only was Bolinao Seafood Grill a good place to dine, it was also along the road we would have to take to go to Ilog Malino where Cocos was.  It only took about 10 minutes to get to the resort.  It had a few rows of rooms along the shore and towering coconut trees by the entrance and within the compound.  They had some grocery items being sold at the information hut and they had common grilling stands near the rooms for guests to use.  I didn’t know that they had coal, and rice and all other sort of stuff that you’d need to cook.  Had I known, I wouldn’t have brought so many.  LOL

The room we stayed at was enough for 6 by HK standards if you know what I mean.  LOL.  That just says there’s enough room on the bed but not enough room to walk by.  It had 3 twin beds and a shower  inside.  It had a table and some chairs outside and visitors were allowed to pitch a tent.  We brought ours as we had expected some of my hubby’s aunts to join us. That was just in case there were more of us and there weren’t any more rooms at the resort.  The advantage though is that the rooms at Cocos were cheap.  Some had airconditioning while others just had fans in them.  Ours was airconditioned and cost 2500 pesos which fit 6 not-so-picky adults.  Basic but it served its purpose.  The room for 4 was only 2 Grand. 

After we had brought our stuff inside the room,  I and my sister-in-law with her husband went to the talipapa nearby where be bought some yellow fin tuna and porkchops for dinner.  After we stashed our goods inside the cooler, they went out for a ride to Pattar which is 15 minutes away.  I, on the other hand, went out to the beach to take some pictures while I waited for my husband who took a nap.
My hubby and I went out to join them after about an hour.  Most of the tourist spots in Bolinao were in one area – Pattar.  We dropped by the Enchanted cave where they had an underground pool.  I didn’t go with them as I was told it was very small anyway and there wasn’t anything else to see.  Fortunately, it was the lean season already so there weren’t too many people.  Next we went to the lighthouse.  It is not as big as Cape Bojeador in Ilocos but it was also a sight to behold.  Situated on top of a hill, there was a fantastic view of the sea from the deck.   
Next stop was at Pattar beach.  I was thrilled to see it as the reviews I found on the net said it was very beautiful.  It wasn’t as I had expected.  The beach was not white but was just light brown, fine but not powder as Boracay, and the waves were strong because it was on the China Sea.  Pattar is a public beach on the coast of Pangasinan.  There were vendors about 50 meters from the shore and there were cottages built by some individuals.  While it is true that we could have brought a tent there, it wasn’t the time for camping as a downpour was expected in the afternoon during the rainy season in the Philippines.  We didn’t stay long, only a few minutes to take some pictures and we were off to meet up with the rest of our group. 
We headed back to Cocos after meeting them.  There, we found the water to be calm and clear unlike in Pattar where the the waves were threatening to devour you.  Ilog Malino, as I observed is a cove and thus the area was protected from the waves from the sea.  They had found several rafts which they used to frolic in the water.  I had originally planned for us to stay at Pattar but the rooms there were at some expensive resort.  There were cottages but the toilets and showers were communal.  So, as fortune would have it, I chose for us to stay at the adjacent Ilog Malino and would just rent a small hut at Pattar had we stayed long there. But we didn’t.  Less expense. Great for the budget. LOL
For dinner we had yellow fin tuna and pork that I had cooked on the grill along with some fruits that we had brought in.  Quite nice. 
As it had always been, I woke up early to see the sun rise.  With my cam, I took some shots.  The pictures I had were among the best ones I have taken so far.  We  had breakfast there, took some time in the water, and by 12 noon, we set off to go around the town on our way home.  Lunch was still at Bolinao Seafood Grill ATBP as we really enjoyed our lunch the day before.  We ordered food and reserved a table but went to the see the church while we waited. 
The St. James Parish is a 400 year old church.  Like the other old places in the Philippines, it is located at the heart of the town just beside the market and walking distance to the municipal hall, bus terminals , etc.  It is comparatively smaller than the ones I’ve seen but is well maintained considering that Bolinao is a third class municipality and the people are mostly fisherfolks and farmers.  There was a stall just outside the gate of the church where they sold Binungey.  It is a delicacy of steamed rice and coconut milk cooked inside a bamboo.  A suman as we would call it here in the Tagalog region only that the suman is wrapped in banana leaves. The Binungey has banana leaves as lining for the bamboo. 
After our visit to the church, we headed back to have lunch at the resto.  After the meal, we headed straight to Alaminos to see the Hundred Islands.  We had wanted to see the waterfalls because it was along the highway anyway but it rained so hard that the path to the falls would be too slippery.  And while most of us were adults, we had brought my mother in law along.  Of course she’d probably try to keep up but we didn’t want to risk a fall or any accident.
The downpour continued all the way from Bolinao to Camiling Tarlac.  While we actually went down for a quick stop at the Hundred Islands, the view was so hazy we could hardly see the islands that were nearest the port.  Anyway, looking at the bright side, there’s reason to go back that part of Luzon. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ride the Waves - Surfing at San Juan, La Union

It'd been a long while since my daughter Ikee wanted to surf.  I guess since she was in the 6th grade or so.  Anyway, it became a reality for her last December when we decided we'd just go on a short trip up north to San Juan, La Union.

The trip took about 9 hours or so including stopovers for coffee and wee breaks.  It was around 2 pm when we got there having left at around 6 am.  We were not in a hurry to get to San Juan as my cousin-in-law, Mike, and Ikee's cousin, Carlo, knew that the waves weren't due till late afternoon.  So, we ate a rather late breakfast along the way and had lunch at Sebay Resort where we were billeted.  Sebay is a cheap alternative for surfers who are only there to surf but do not mind how the accommodation looks like.  We had paid about 2000 pesos for the 4 of us.  It was basic but clean nonetheless.  There were other resorts but they were either full or too expensive.  Besides, both Mike and Carlo recommended the place so we tried it.  It was ok. I'd give it a 7/10.

At about 4 pm, Ikee, Carlo and Mike trotted to the beach and got a surf instructor to teach them.  My husband and I just watched them as the 3 surfers-wannabes listened intently. It turned out that as Ikee was a beginner and the guys weren't pros themselves, they needed an instructor not just to teach them but to also guide them.  The whole package of the 1 hour board rental with instruction cost 400 per person.  Not a bad deal.  After 10 to 15 minutes of combined lecture, demo and return demo, they were off with their boards to ride the waves.  Here are some pics:

I guess the 3 enjoyed the waves as they returned the next day for another hour of stoke.  And guess what?  They wanted to drop by for yet another hour after our 3-day trip to Ilocos.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Do you Mind? - Mind Museum at BGC

It was my daughter's birthday yesterday.  Even at 19 she still wants to go to a museum ('guess that part she inherited from me).  So, after lunch we headed for the newest world class museum in the country  - the Mind Museum at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines. Even on our 2nd visit, the museum still is new to us.  The first time we were there we checked out the exhibit on the human body and went to the science park where we played.  Yup, as old as we were, we enjoyed playing at the park.

Ikee and I bought our tickets ahead of my husband.  He had to park the car and it took a while for him to do so. When we got inside, we went straight to the Atom exhibit.  There was a demo experiment going on so we watched it.  It was rather fun specially when we were asked to go to a room where we temporarily left our shadow.  Wake up Peter Pan!  It's not just you who left his shadow.

There were other things that we did there.  The shows we watched were good specially the "Ang Simula"  which was done by ABS CBN (one of the Philippines' leading TV network).  It is a story of how science thinks the philippines evolved. Another one was the planetarium show although I liked the show at the planetarium in Manila years ago.

One of the highlights of the museum is the presence of the TREX skeleton.  I had seen one of those at the Museum of Natural History at Washington D.C. before but it's good to see one in Manila.

So, if you're planning to go visit a museum here, do include the Mind museum.  It's fun for both adults and kids I tell you.  Although they have a 3 hour visit which costs 600, the all day pass only costs 750.  Take the latter as you can't enjoy a museum with only 3 hours.  Oh, and they're closed on Mondays and are open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm.  Sorry for the pics by the way.  there was very little light and I didn't have a tripod (sheesh!).

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Two Trips Up North (Part 1)

This is a year late.  Anyway, today I think it is time I write about it.

Last year we went to Laoag, Pagudpud, and Vigan. It was a very long trip as our first destination was Laoag.  The Sunshine City as Laoag is tagged is about 2 hours away from Pagudpud to the north and 2 hours away South to Vigan.   However, we had expected Laoag to be about 10 hours away from Manila so we opted to take a quick stop at Vigan to have lunch.  Bad decision I guess because we left Manila at about 5 am and reached Vigan at nearly 4 pm.  Of course we had underestimated the travel time.  It was the holiday season and the traffic was just so bad.  It was my intention to see Vigan at both day and night but not for us to be starved.  Yup we were all starved when we got there.  Our breakfast was 7 hours earlier and at Tummy Talk it took nearly an hour for our food to be served.  The holidays took a toll on us as there were so many people in the area and we had to go resto hopping before we even got a place.  Then, after that, there were so much food for the resto to cook that it took even more time for them to hand our fare.  It's probably because Tummy Talk was not as popular as Cafe Leona and the other restos that we were able to find a place to sit.  Of course there was the usual empanada at the Plaza which later I found was just about 100 meters away from where we were but it was our first time in the area and we didn't know where to go.  Plus I didn't have the energy to look for my companions any longer.

Vigan is a city but it is also rich in culture and history.  In fact it had been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site as it looks and feels like you're taken centuries back when you're there.  Calle Crisologo is a street where most buildings and housese had been preserved.  Though most have been turned into stores and shops, the owners retained the stuff that reminded the visitor of the heritage and culture that influenced ours.  The capiz-shell windows were there, the cobblestone roads, the lamps, the solid wood huge doors that mostly the affluent had in their homes.   Even the shops sold more antiques than anywhere I have ever seen.  The only means of transportation allowed to ply the length of the street were the calesas (horse-driven carriage). The one thing that turned me off were the small piles of trash that the unmindful tourists who didn't care to throw their garbage in the bin and the seeming neglect of the Ilocano merchants who probably didn't want to lose time away from their goods to pick the trash.  Too bad.  Anyway, we didn't stay long there as we had to proceed to Laoag where we were to stop for the night.

to be continued...

Herb Republic - An Organic Resto in Los Banos

I had been wanting to try out organic restos for quite some time now.  It seems hard to make good stuff taste good too.  But not in the case of a rustic resto in Los Banos, Laguna.  

Herb Republic, which once was over a kilometer away from UP Los Banos, is now a stone's throw away from the academic community. My family and I tried to eat there at least twice before to no avail.  I thought they were closing shop already.  I was delightfully surprised one day when I saw their ad outside an old house along Lopez Ave. that they are now occupying.  Of course we didn't miss out on the chance to finally taste their food. 

The one that I like the most is their rosemary chicken.  It is roasted organic chicken and with fresh rosemary to flavor it.  It is of course tastier than their counterparts as organically grown animals are an the addition of the freshly picked herbs seem to crown them as the best in Los Banos.  We normally just order half chicken for the both of us.  

The other best thing that we love is the Herb Republic fresh and organic vegetable salad that you wrap in pita with its creamy dressing.  Of course I had to try their tarragon Shake which I find so refreshing till now. 

Anyway, in case you’re interested to see  them, check their website first and then gallop on and pay them a visit.

Oh, did I say that yoggie’s  yogurt now supplies their yogurt cheesecake there?  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chilline's T: A Beautiful House on A Hill in Tagaytay

If you're considering a cozy wedding or a debut with a view, why not look at the property of Chilline Attitude Corporation's T.

Yes, the name of the place is T.  Perhaps to mean Tagaytay, the property is set by the cliff with a magnificent view of Taal Lake.  It is perfect for a romantic get-away, a nice and quiet vacation for a family, or even to hold special occasions at.  From the driveway alone, the entrance warmly welcomed us with its foliage of light green, amber, and purple.  The first floor is actually thee house's rooftop which is strong enough to hold a gathering for over a hundred guests.

The house is Greek inspired.  It is mainly white with accents made mainly from natural materials - wood and stone. As we walked past the main door, we saw a wooden sofa set accentuated with a psychedelic painting. At least that's what it seemed to me, not that I'm one for the arts.  LOL  Anyhow, it was tastefully done.
stairway view from the sala

Just like any house on a mountain or a hill, the house's orientation is going down.  the first floor is where the entrance is.  A stone stairway lead us down to the sala  where I had noticed a large stone accent stood in the middle it.  most parts of this level had a view of the lake and the lone pool except for one bedroom that actually opened up to a garden. To the right of the accent we found the dining room which was separated from the poolside  by a glass door  A few meters down from the pool is where the sauna is located.

Another flight of stairs lead us to the basement where another room is.  most rooms have its own toilet and shower.  The master's room has a toilet and shower and a separate bathtub beside the shower.Anyway, I took the liberty of taking some pics.  here they are and you judge whether my description is accurate.


dining room

view from the dining room

masters bedroom

bathtub inside the master's bedroom

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bus Just For You

Consider bus rentals.  I've had several experiences with those and here are some:

When I was little, my family and I joined family vacations.  In the Philippines, family would not just mean the basic family but the whole clan.  In our case, the family would mean my maternal grandfather, his partner, his children and his grandchildren.  That's us.  We are a huge family.  my grandfather has 11 children and back then, 7 of the 11 were already married and had an average of 3 children per family.  Anyway, there are a lot of good memories during those trips most of which were in the buses.  My older cousins brought with them some muscial instruments, while we mostly brought food and some board games.  I believe the bus rental we used then were of the companies of the buses that plied the EDSA.  

When we were in the US and were planning to go to the Yosemite Park, we opted for a bus rental instead of bringing my relatives' cars.  We saved on gas because we only had to spend for 1 vehicle.  We saved on toll fees.  We saved on food costs as we had brought lots of food and stopped at some park to eat.   There was enough space for the small children to take naps and we didn't have to clean up after the trip.  What's more is that it was a lot of fun having everyone in one bus.  We sang, told stories, shared jokes.  It was convenient since there were at least 2 people who could drive the vehicle.  You know what, I even felt safer that we were in a bigger transportation.

While planning for my daughter's debut, I thought of bringing all of the guests to an out of town resort on a mountain.  That resort is near the university Ikee goes to. I thought her friends and the other invitees would all be able to provide for their own transportation. It dawned on me that most of Ikee's friends wouldn/t be able to go as many of them are not even 18 yet and couldn't drive according to Philippine laws.  I only have one car and my dad has one too but those wouldn't suffice to transport everyone.  Then I thought of a bus rental.  The city government where I live rents out buses at a discounted rate to its constituents.  It would've been perfect if we didn't have a change of plan.  

There are too many advantages at using buses and vehicle rentals.  You just have to choose the right one.  Consider the following when choosing what to rent:

1. comfort - will it be able to accommodate the number of people and the stuff you will bring.  I believe there should be an allowance of 1 or 2 person-seats.  This means that if there are 10 persons riding, the vehicle should be able to accommodate at least 12. 

2.  price - do your research. there are a number of car, van and  bus rental  companies that are published on the internet.  Also, do check out the ones in and the ones on the yellow pages of a telephone directory.  

3.  inclusions - some rentals have their own drivers, some need you to gas up after the trip, etc.
4,  permits and licenses - some buses or jeeps are used for public transport but they can also be hired for private use.  See to it that the vehicle has the necessary permit in order for you to avoid hassles during your trip.

These are but some of the things that you need to remember when renting a vehicle.  Next you take a trip with the family, try a bus rental.  You'll have memories to store when you do so.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Humour At UPLB

We were at UPLB yesterday.  The cow's noticeably had some sort of caps on their body.  My daughter explained that those were actually holes that were used to test the microorganism in the animals.  Anyway, I'll let the pics speak for themselves.  He was quietly and calmly grazing.  

At this point, I hurriedly went back to the car as I was just a few meters away from the bull.  LOL

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