Bangyan House in Pasil, Kalinga

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Driving from Tabuk, the capital city of Kalinga on my way to the historic town of Lubuagan, my attention was caught by a prominent sign on the road within the town of Pasil, right before Lubuagan. The sign shouts Bangyan 88. And right there on the roadside sits a cottage that is actually a cafe and restaurant. I couldn’t resist the looks of the cafe, especially the al fresco seating on the veranda. Nice spot for coffee. 

The posts used are those of giant ferns called bangyan, thus, the name of the cafe.

Visitors can not but be curious with the structures surrounding, and actually part of the property. A tree house, a hut, and a stone house that serves as the souvenir shop.

There are earthenware displayed, including old ones and some rather new ones with interesting design. I ended up buying instead a lady’s costume belt used by Kalinga women when they dress up. I figured I could use this as accent when my female guests don tribal wear in my rest house south of Manila. Kinda expensive at P1,500 a piece, but this is done via an elaborate backstrap weaving in the nearby town of Lubuagan.

MENU
Went inside the restaurant to check on the menu, even though I was just there for coffee. Interesting dishes.

I pretty much know most of the dishes, but learned about the others I am not familiar with.

Tinuno is inihaw na baboy
Dinakdakan is a blend of pig’s ears, tongue, and brain sprinkled with diced onions, ginger, vinegar, and salt

Surely I will stop again next time. And most likely will have enough appetite for dinakdakan.


Visit their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/88-Bangyan-House-1607271369543579/posts/?ref=page_internal

 

D’ King Fried Chicken

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Busy during the Juego de Toro at the Masbate Rodeo

 

I attended the new event at the Masbate Rodeo called Juego de Toro and got so hungry especially when I saw the store pictured above from where I was taking photos of the event.  In between the release of cattle, I sneaked into this chicken store. My verdict: they had good tasting fried chicken that is so inexpensive and is a good fill for one’s tummy. I did not say excellent, I said good. That is also because we should all calibrate our expectations depending on the place and the price of the items.

How can one miss with a fried chicken and rice meal for P28? And P40 with soft drinks. I wanted another piece of chicken and my lunch was just a little over P60 I decided to give the change as a tip.

I would eat here again if I happen to be in the area. And I don’t mind suggesting this place to friends. In fact, immediately after, I asked my friends gathered around the venue chicken restaurant to have lunch there.

WHERE IS THIS FRIED CHICKEN PLACE?
Easy to find. Along Rocero within Masbate proper, a building away from the former DBP.

Of course this is, as usual, a recommendation from experience. Like I mentioned, I paid for my meal, and even asked them to keep the change.

 

Baler Revisited

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This is another revisit. April 2017.

On a previous visit, Costa Pacifica was under construction. Now it is the best Baler has to offer, and nothing comes close.

Costa Pacifica has no equal. The 2nd best will be a far 2nd.

Aurora Beach Camp is a campsite no more. It has been developed into a resort called Coconut Plantation.

Not a trace of the old campsite, Coconut Plantation is now a proper resort, with air-conditioned cabanas.

 

There was just a pebbly beach before, now there is a swimming pool with gazebos

 

this cove is the only thing that reminds me of the old camp site

 

While the resort looks nice, I can not see my self staying in this place which is about an hour from Baler’s nerve center, Sabang Beach. The snacking experience was also bad. The “restaurant” is a shared space with guests checked into a room within the restaurant area. we were having snacks while the guests were comfortably slumped in the sofas right beside our table, applying make up, and doing things normally done in the privacy of their cottages. Not their fault. Just bad space planning.

 

I didn’t stay at this resort, and only went for snacks. Ordered “pako” hamburger. I thought it was expensive at P200, way more expensive than the better tasting (for me) Big Mac which even comes with fries.

PASALUBONG CENTER

For some reason, I missed writing about things to buy in Baler. The best place to go to is the Pasalubong Center at the back of the public market. The best buys are Pacing’s coco jam and also shredded beef. Look also for rice cakes and other kakanin in the stalls just outside.

vinagar, including pinakurat in stalls outside th Pasalubong Center. And suman (photo below). There are also several carinderias in the area if you get hungry after shopping

 

WHERE TO EAT IN SABANG BEACH

Yellow Fin : top favorite. At the back of Costa Pacifica

 

Good Food. Inexpensive. With healthy options.

at Good Food, blue marlin with rice (and it is a good size cut of marlin) is P200. Quesadillas was good. Taco was nice. No softdrinks here – – so we had lemon grass for drinks.

 

Vegetarian.

 

ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATIONS. 

There are plenty. Here are some of them just around (at the back, actually) of Costa Pacifica

wherever you end up staying, you will want to be on the shores of Sabang morning and afternoon. Enjoy Baler !

To and from Baler, there is Hillocks Coffee Shop and Restaurant. My favorite stop. Along Pantabangan.

 

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR LAKWATSA TO SEE MORE OF BALER

LAKWATSA

Baler is now more accessible after the roads have been completed and it now takes only a few hours from SCTEX. Before we hit Baler town, we stopped at the centuries old balete tree that is so huge and intricate it can literally carry 100 people at any one time, hanging around it.

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Baler now teems with visitors from Metro Manila, for that now-so-near holiday. Especially for those who love the beach and the surf. In fact, Baler is gives visitors a flavor of either Boracay or Phuket.

Baler Kahea

Baler Aliya

Baler surf2

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Baler resort

Baler Desiree's Inexpensive accommodations on the beach front

Baler Amihan

Baler outdoor Boracay feel – – food and drinks almost on the water

Baler outdoor 2

Baler store Store on the beach front

Other than the main beach lined with hotels, surf shops and restaurants, Baler offers tens of other beach locations. We had lunch in a rather quiet beach, at the Aurora Beach Camp. Here, there were no other visitors and we…

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Costa Pacifica Baler

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This is my nth trip to Baler, but the last was when Costa Pacifica was still being constructed. My first was at Bahia, that beautiful resort with a swimming pool at the front, with beautiful rooms, but really very few. Next thing I knew, there was another Bahia, this time a 3-level structure. Costa Pacifica, built by the same owners, is right between the 2nd Bahia and the ocean.

Today, Costa Pacifica is without equal. Nothing comes close. The resort compares with the best resort hotels I have been to.

As one enters the lobby, the resort feeling immediately sets in. Very tropical. Open space plan, with the huge pool and the ocean right in front of the guests. Tables and deck chairs surround the swimming pool.

The rooms have verandas facing the ocean. Ours was a suite on the second floor with a perfect view of the whole grounds, including the pool and the beach.

The room has 2 comfortable beds, a wardrobe with a safety deposit box, a luggage rack, color tv, a nice big bathroom with a shower and a tub. Two lavatories. Spic and span. With all the bathroom amenities one finds in 5-star hotels and resorts.  Not all rooms have living rooms, but our suite has a good-sized living room with 2 daybeds that double as sofas, another TV with a DVD player, a round breakfast table for 4, a bar counter top with 2 bar stools, a kitchen counter, with coffee and tea facilities. And a fridge stocked with mini bar items. The veranda has two deck chairs and a clothes drying rack.

 

 

the pool deck as seen from our bedroom, on the right

 

when the blinds are up – – the view from our beds

 

the living room, and the living room deck

 

 

Costa Pacifica sits on a huge property that has a long waterfront, probably the longest waterfront property in Baler. The garden has colorful chairs grouped in one section, a gazebo with swing chairs, a swimming pool bar. And nearly everyone gravitates to the shore where surfers get the ooohs and aaaahs from awed guests. I understand that Baler still offers the cheapest surfing lessons, and there are surf boards for rent. And lost of surf instructors.

Buffet breakfast is served at the restaurant called Beach Club. The breakfast spread is sumptuous, with cereals, fruits, breads, omelettes, and rice plus many choices of dishes to go with fried rice.

Outside of Costa Pacifica are a variety of restaurants and bars. And alternative, albeit cheaper, accommodations.

 

But one can say that Costa Pacifica is the nerve center when one comes to Baler for a holiday. One can go around. But the spell of Costa Pacifica will stay in the visitor’s mind for a long time. And this view will probably stay for quite a while, until the visitor encounters another beautiful resort.  Costa Pacifica will have a place in in their guests’  hearts.

I booked online, and you can book thru their website:
http://web.costapacificabalerph.com/

Hillocks Coffee Shop & Restaurant – – on way to Baler

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Pantabangan is a small town so I thought I’d include Baler on the title of this blog. For, indeed, this is my favorite stop on the way to Baler.

I first went to Hillocks about 2 years ago and enjoyed the food and the ambience. It almost doesn’t feel like one is in a rather obscure town – – – for who would really go to Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, to experience Hillocks?

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised that Emi, the owner, remembered me and my blog name BOYPLAKWATSA when I took my wife and daughter there for lunch on our way to Baler.

You will find Hillocks on the right side of the road, and it is impossible to miss with its elegant country-style structure.

Guests can park right inside the property, and enter from the main door of the restaurant, accessed from the rear, on a trellised path. As one enters the cafe, he will be pleasantly surprised with the set-up. Huge tables with benches for seating. And small coffee tables and chairs on the veranda.

Food is always good. We had Hillocks fried chicken, beef binayabasan, pork belly, and batutay longaniza. Batutay longaniza is an all-day breakfast offering but we decided to order the dish for lunch. We loved it and ordered 4 kilos that we will pick up on our way home.

Make sure you save your hunger pangs for Hillocks when you are on your way to Baler, or to any town of the province of Aurora. Or when you decide to just visit any of the resorts in the town of Pantabangan.

By the way, of particular interest is the white house visible from the property – – the residence of the owners. Clearly, the owner has good taste. And it manifests in the food served at this cafe.

Hillocks is at 497 East Poblacion, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija
Contact Emi at 0906 2090 711
Find them on Facebook:
https://web.facebook.com/hillockscoffeeshopandrestaurant/?fref=ts

(As usual, this blogger paid for his meals, with no special discounts, and this blog is written only to share to fellow travelers the wonderful lunch experience)

Cebu City in One Day

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I previously posted a 1-day city tour of Cebu. This post is another suggestion for a whole day city tour based on a recent visit.

Best to hire a car for an efficient day. Or hire a taxi later in the day after covering the core destinations within the city.

TAOIST TEMPLE

Remember that this is a religious shrine. Located within the posh Beverly Hills, visitors are treated to the imposing structure of this temple. Non-Taoist guests are welcome, but visitors are not allowed to take photos of the altar and the saints. The view from the temple is beautiful, the city skyline, with the Huge Waterfront Hotel, can be seen from the terraces of the temple.

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FORT SAN PEDRO

This fort is the oldest and smallest bastion in the Philippines. It is a lovely spot, pretty much like, albeit a smaller version of, Manila’s Paco Park.

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STO NINO SHRINE

Popular among devotees, and more popular than the cathedral. Old ladies in religious costumes offer candles previously blessed for sale. The altar is beautiful, the ceiling grand.

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MAGELLAN’S CROSS

Across from the church is the city’s most famous landmark, the Magellan’s cross. The original cross is wrapped in the tindalo wooden cross visible to visitors.img_2447

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CITY HALL

Across from the cross is the Cebu City Hall

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LUNCH AT LA FORTUNA

Inexpensive lunch can be had at La Fortuna Bakery. This is found at the exit of the Sto Nino Shrine, before Magellan’s Cross. They also have a door fronting the City Hall. They actually have a fast food counter that serves lunch items. Lunch for three, in our case, was less than P300.00img_2466

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CASA GORORDO

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gorordo-mansion

YAP SANDIEGO HOUSE

Reputed to be the oldest Chinese house outside of mainland China. The brick roof is original. The floors are rather squeaky, and guests are made to slip on socks-like protection over their shoes so as not to damage the floors.

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HISTORY OF CEBU

Just outside Yap-Sandiego is a huge mural depicting the history of Cebu.

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MUSEO SUGBO

Museo Sugbo means Cebu Museum. I will let the marker describe the structure.img_2553

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This is a very interesting destination where one can spend more than an hour if he is s serious student of history. There are many galleries, all air-conditioned, with each one focusing on different stages of history. There are many guides taking turns to explain the different galleries to the visitors. After a rather long journey thru history, guests can avail of refreshments and souvenirs from the shops inside.

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TOPS

If you haven’t hired a car, this is the time to arrange for a hired taxi. Unless you know your way to Tops, as they also offer transportation to and from Tops.

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the view from Tops

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CAP YOUR DAY AT LANTAW

This is simply the loveliest spot for refreshments, early dinner, if not a real dinner at night. High on a hill in Busay, people go up to Lantaw for the good food and the nice city view while having dinner or drinks. Not a cheap place. Prices are mid-to-above-mid range. img_2637

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the view from Lantaw

TEMPLE OF LEAH

Temple of Leah is listed on tripadvisor and many city guides as a destination, likening it to the Parthenon. Quite honestly, I was not that interested. I have seen the spot being constructed from way before, right from Lantaw. So I took some iPhone photos of Temple of Leah from the Lantaw veranda.

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All of these can be visited in 8 hours. I hired a car from Mabuhay for P5,000 for the first 8 hours. If you must exceed 8 hours, the subsequent charge for every hour in excess is P550. But then I figure that being in comfortable in an air-conditioned car makes this tour more efficient and more pleasurable.

Abundant Place in Silang

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Located on the Diversion Road in Silang, where all the gardens are, is Abundant Place,  a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I used to pass this way when I go to Tagaytay via Daang Hari and on to Imus and Dasmarinas. When one gets to Silang and bypasses the road to the town center, one is greeted with flowers and other ornamental plants left and right, throughout what seems like a 2-kilometer stretch. In fact this place is a weekend destination for gardening enthusiasts. Coming from Imus and Dasmarinas, Abundant Place is on the right, and quite difficult to miss because of its prominent signage.

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My very first encounter with Abundant Place happened many many years ago when I chanced upon their display of interesting foot stools made of “banig” material along the Sta Rosa – Tagaytay Road. Then I bought 2 foot stools and ordered mosquito nets (not the nylon variety) with sea shells for accent for my Alabang home bedroom. Thus when I saw the Abundant Place signage in Silang, and saw “breakfast” I stopped to check.

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At the entrance to the store is a blackboard with the day’s menu. I opted for pork tapa, 2 orders for myself and my driver. Plus cafe barako.

My bill for 2 breakfast orders with coffee, including the 10% service charge, was P330.00

My bill for 2 breakfast orders with coffee, including the 10% service charge, was P330.00

 

The cafe was done in a very creative way, using concrete, stones, bamboo, nipa, shells, beach sands, white screens, and many interesting accent pieces. I was so impressed with the cafe’s  design. I couldn’t believe it that the owner, who also did the place, is actually a pastor.

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STORE

While waiting for my breakfast to be served, I went inside the store and browsed at the items for sale. I wanted to buy so many items and the only thing that stopped me was the thought that I needed to first create some structure in my Tagaytay weekender to replicate the look of the cafe. I actually bought one item, a tiffany lamp for P500.00

my find, for P500.00

my find, for P500.00

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I so loved the place I thought I’d take photos and include in my blog. When in the area, make sure you stop and you will not regret the visit.

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