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36 hours around the Philippines

- Raymond Ang () - March 23, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - I have a problem. And as problems go, it’s strictly a First-World-in-Third-World kind of thing. By the glory of family trips and the occasional press trip, I’m what you’d call well-traveled. While I haven’t gone on African safaris and to the European cities less traveled like Prague and Berlin (I’ve only done the EuroTrip Starter Pack—Spain, France, England), I’ve been to the more popular tourist spots. I’m surely not at a loss for Mabuhay Miles.

But the problem is that the bigger my world gets, the more I realize I’ve barely seen home. The places I’ve been, in one way or another, all provided some unforgettable life experiences—little moments you stow away and eventually replay in that “whole life flashed before my eyes” montage they say plays before your life ends. Surely, that moment in the train ride from Paris to Barcelona when you saw the seasons change before your eyes, that moment the French cold gave way to Mediterranean warmth. Surely, that time on the Great Wall of China when the wind blew stronger and you realized how slight and insignificant your existence is in the grand scheme of things.

But while every trip is pregnant with the promise of new horizons and new experiences, guilt rears its ugly head every time that plane lands back home in Manila and you realize you haven’t really been anywhere but Boracay. I’ve been to almost all continents but I haven’t even seen Cebu. I’ve immersed myself in foreign cultures but haven’t even paid my respects at the Banaue Rice Terraces.

I know I’m not alone. I hear this same sentiment everywhere—a sentiment we casually brush off after a split second, when we take advantage of package promos and go to the same destinations. A friend of mine, during a recent dinner, told me about the Hong Kong trip he’s taking—his first plane trip out of Manila, paid for by his family’s newly-acquired financial stability. We wondered why the first instinct was “Hong Kong” when he hasn’t even been to Boracay. We wondered, pondered, and then got distracted by all the restaurants he’ll get to eat in in Hong Kong. Hell, now I want to go to Hong Kong.

But with summer announcing its presence and a renewed interest in local tourism thanks to a particularly persuasive campaign, there’s no better time to explore what we have here. It’s cheaper. It’s easier. It might even be more fulfilling. So ditch the dreams of xiao long bao heaven for a while. Think local. Think beaches, think nature. But most of all, think Cebu lechon.            

Different strokes, different folks: Megan Young, Divine Lee, Daryl Chang, Carla Sebastian, Patsy Abad, and Christopher De Venecia share their summer itineraries.

Batanes

Patsy Abad of Fundacion Pacita

SATURDAY

8 a.m.

Proceed to San Vicente port to ride the “falowa” going to Sabtang. Falowa is the Ivatan banca (boat) built without outriggers. Batanes is where the Pacific and South China Sea meet, so huge waves are common in the province. The falowa is designed without outriggers, so the waves (big or small) can easily toss the banca without the risk of capsizing.

9:45 a.m.

Arrive in Sabtang Island and visit the vernacular houses in Savidug and the ancient hilltop fortresses of the Ivatans called the Idjang. The idjangs were said to be the centre of communal lives in olden times. Because of the Batanes topography, the Idjang, during times of conflict, could easily be transformed into forts, only accessible through a rope ladder.

Continue the tour of vernacular houses in Chavayan. The village of Chavayan is a candidate for inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the whole of Batanes, Chavayan was able to preserve the traditional stone houses Batanes is widely known for.

Noon

Lunch at Nakabuang beach-rest/swimming. Nakabuang beach is famous for its rock formations, specifically the Nakabuang Arch which has been photographed so many times in magazines and print ads.

2:00 p.m.

Catch the last banca ride back to Batan island.

4:00 p.m.

Freshen up at Fundacion Pacita.

6:00 p.m.

Dinner at the Napoli Pizza Place in Basco. Super sarap pizza in town proper! The chef worked in an Italian cruise, has his own herb garden in his backyard, and sometimes, he’ll make amazing ice cream if he has time. Must visit!

7:00 p.m.

Order a bottle of wine and have a nightcap in your very own Fundacion Pacita balcony.

SUNDAY

8 a.m.

Breakfast at Fundacion Pacita. Today, take the Bataan Island Tour.

9 a.m. to noon

Go to Old Radar Station, Mt. Carmel Chapel, Boulder Bay, and Chawa Viewdeck.

Noon

Picnic lunch at Disvayangan Beach

1:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Dakay’s House is the oldest stone house in Batanes made of lime and stone, built in 1887; you can go inside and have a photo op with the owner, Lola Florestida. There’s also the Honesty Store — the typical sari-sari store without any “bantays.” Then, go to Tayid lighthouse, Marlboro country/Vayang rolling hills (communal pasture land where most tourists start singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”), Loran Station, the old American base in Uyugan and the SongSong ruins, an abandoned village damaged by a tsunami in the early 1900s

5:30 p.m.

Buy a few beers from the sari-sari store in Diptan and head to Naidi lighthouse to catch the beautiful sunset in Basco.

7:00 p.m.

Head to Fundacion Pacita for dinner. Ask for some coconut crabs and the sinful Ivatan adobo (pork cooked in its own fat!).

Pangasinan

Christopher De Venecia, Young Star columnist /Chalk lifestyle editor/theater producer

SATUR-CRAY

9 a.m.

Start your Pangasinan adventure with a trip to the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos. Check in for an overnight stay at the Big Brother House at Governor’s Island (roughly P10,000 for 10 pax total) — a former vacation home that was renovated and refurbished for an episode of the famous reality show (+6375 551-2505).

11 a.m.

Enjoy some kodakan by the island’s highest vantage point and get a picturesque view of the island. After which an ihaw-ihaw by the beach would make for a mouth-watering interlude

1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Commence your island hopping with the famous Quezon Island, named after former president Manuel L. Quezon. Soak up the breeze, and then head to Children’s Island where the waters are shallow and perfect for snorkeling. Next, take a boat ride to Marcos Island, named after (duh!) and take some pictures by the mermaid statues. But don’t get too carried away. The island’s main attraction is a single-chambered cave called “Imelda” (of course), which should be a 50-meter walk from the beach. Finish off with a pit stop at the Cuenco Island Cave for its activating limestone formations.

7 p.m.

Don’t forget to buy souvenirs at the “Suki Market” — a wet and dry goods emporium that peddles the famous Alaminos longganisa. Enjoy dinner at Maxine by the Sea, an eatery known for the best calamares in the region. The bangus belly sinigang, seasonal chili lobster and thermidor prawns and seafood kare-kare are also gustatory musts.

9 p.m.

Chill out with some live band music at the “Palamis Resto Grill.” A nightcap and some jukebox karaoke will go a long way in helping you recall your tiring yet memorable day.

SUN-DAZE

6 a.m.

Wakey wakey! Take last minute snaps of the Hundred Islands for your summer look book, and then set off for Bolinao, which is an hour and a half away from Alaminos. Be sure to buy some binungay along the way — Bolinao’s version of suman. The only difference is that it’s cooked within a shard of bamboo as opposed to the traditional pandan leaves.

8 a.m.

Soak up the sun in Bolinao’s white beaches. The most famous of which are located in Patar, where you can park your belongings in one of many huts dotting its bevy of beachfront resorts, including Puerto del Sol.

10 a.m.

Check out the majestic Cape Bolinao lighthouse. (Note: you’re not allowed to climb the lighthouse but its base makes for a stunning interest piece for your summer look book.)

Noon

After having some lunch, beat the heat by taking a nice, cold dip at Bolinao’s famous Enchanted Cave. It’s a little bit of a trek from the base to the cave’s jaw-dropping interior but the cold waters are worth it.

2 p.m.

Say goodbye to Bolinao and take an hour and a half road trip to town of Mangaldan to view Bert Jimenez’s vintage car collection. A 1956 Ford Customline and a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle will titillate even those who are not so much the car enthusiast. While you’re in the area, be sure to buy some of Mangaldan’s signature Peanut Brittle and say a prayer at the KC de Venecia Memorial Park.

4 p.m.

Visit the “Our Lady of Manaoag” and light some candles for your departed loved ones. The 17th-century Roman Catholic icon is known to possess miraculous powers. Also, check out the Our Lady of Manaoag Museum, which is a reliquary of religious icons and vestments, as well as gifts by loyal devotees. Rattan handicrafts, rosaries and Calasiao puto are available by the church’s sidewalk stalls.

7 p.m.

Cap off your Pangasinan adventure with dinner at the country-famous and historical Dagupeña Restaurant, which has been delighting customers with its family-style recipes since 1928. Be sure to buy some of their specialty bangus for pasalubong — a selection that includes teriyaki style, honey mustard, and pesto-glazed bangus belly variants, bangus chorizo and bangus tocino (+6375 5222752).

La Union

Carla Sebastian, champion surfer

SATURDAY

This is a typical weekend surf retreat at my “home break,” La Union.

I usually take the Partas bus up at around midnight and reach San Juan, La Union by 6 a.m. or leave with my sisters for a five-hour drive up. As soon as I get there, I run to the beach to scope out the surf conditions. If I like what I see I have a bar or a hot cup of oatmeal mixed into Milo; I suit up, block (sunblock) up, wax my board, grab my leash and head out for surf. I like to make the most out of the weekends I get to surf so up until about past lunchtime I’m still out there.

I paddle to shore at around 3 p.m. to grab some lunch. There are lots to choose from but I usually prefer it at Angel and Marie’s, or Surfer’s retreat (a five-minute walk from the main beach). Post-surf meals means I eat to my heart’s content: freshly caught blue marlin steak with rice and vegetables…. yum! Afterwards, I like to stroll along the beach to check out what’s going on. As soon as I feel settled, I’ll either surf again or just chill on the beach and hang out with the locals, Manila surfers or anyone I meet on the beach. If there’s no surf, random people usually get together for some beach games like volleyball, soccer or Frisbee — which are also fun to do.

Finally, as the sun sets, I’ll either be chatting with a bunch of friends while sipping on a drink or paddling out for my last wave. After dinner, there’s always something happening on the beach. I like to join in on jamming bonfire nights, or drinks and barbeque, and sometimes we sneak in a little karaoke. My nights in La Union can range from a quick social affair or an all-nighter.

SUNDAY

Regardless of how the night ends I like waking up at around 6 a.m. or earlier to head out for some dawn patrol — the best time, when no one’s (not enough for a crowd at least) out surfing. After a quick session I’ll paddle back in and change in time for Sunday Mass (part of my retreat routine). When I’m with my older sisters, we usually like eating a Sunday brunch at the new Pancake House in San Fernando. I love ordering the buckwheat banana walnut pancakes — tastes like home!

When my food is digested enough, it’s more water time for me! I’m out for about an hour (or sometimes 30 minutes) before I have to pack up and leave.

So that’s what a typical weekend getaway is for me. I do surf the majority of the time if possible but I guess, to me, it’s like the days that go by: each wave is different and each time I surf I try to learn something new. Like they say, surfing isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

Pampanga

Divine Lee, businesswoman/blogger/TV host

SATURDAY

First, have breakfast at Lewis Grand Hotel. This place is known for all the “silogs” — tocilog, longsilog etc. The first thing would be to check out Aling Lucing in Hensonville and order grilled native ikabud. It’s the Pampanga-style steakhouse where the concept of sisig originated.

You might want to have a quick nap so you can check out the different hotels. For villa types, you still have Fontana, Enclave and Mimosa. But for the hotel types, you can check out Holiday Inn. Since you will be checking out inside Clark, try shopping at some Duty Free outlets (although not as many as in Subic anymore) or hit the casino at the Holiday Inn.

For dinner, you can go to Mexico… well, Mexico, Pampanga. Famous for burritos and tequila, try out Zapatas at Don Juico avenue — one of the hidden treasures of Pampanga.For nightlife, you can check out Hacienda or special gigs at The Mansion. Manila Republiq DJ Ace is part owner of Hacienda so you are guaranteed hot music lists. Best nightcap would be lechon manok by the main road.

SUNDAY

Next morning would be to check out Marquee Mall for breakfast. They have a terrace à la Greenbelt. Then head on over to the Mango outlet at Robinson’s Mall. Who doesn’t love a bargain? After, you can play golf or enjoy the water park inside Clark. It really depends on your taste.

For lunch, the best place would be C’s Italian cuisine! Must be the best Italian place in the whole country. Buy pasalubong at the original Pampanga’s Best. Try to get a tour and see how clean and world class their processing is. I’ve never been more proud of our tocino. Lastly I would recommend a late dinner at Yatts or a food tour with Claude Tayag — a great end to your weekend.

Cebu

Daryl Chang, Preview fashion editor/stylist

SATURDAY

9 a.m.

Start things off with a breakfast at Merlot’s.

10 a.m.

Head out to Mactan to check out accessories/furniture in factories that export.

Noon

Lunch at Nonki Japanese resto.

2 p.m.

Visit local designers atelier for bespoke pieces: Cary Santiago, Protacio, Philip Rodriguez, Arcy Gayatin, Philip Tampus… to name a few.

5 p.m.

Late merienda at Café Laguna. Try the palabok and the puto bungbong and the lumpia. Great comfort food.

6 p.m.

Shopping at Ayala.

8 p.m.

Dinner at Choi City Palace, Chinese food: dimsum and fresh seafood.

11 p.m.

Margaritas at Maya Mexican restaurant.

1 a.m.

Clubbing at Penthouse. 

SUNDAY 

10 a.m.

Breakfast at Dimsum Break. Try the steam rice, pork sauce over rice in a pot. Childhood memories.

11 a.m.

Visit Sepa for accessories.

Noon

Lunch at Filipino resto Hukad in Ayala. The baked scallops are a favorite.

1 p.m.

Two-hour massage in Chi Spa in Shangri-La Mactan.

4 p.m.

Lounge around the pool or take a dip in the beach.

5 p.m.

Sunset drinks in Cowrie cove, still at Shangri-La.

7 p.m.

Back to the city for dinner at Abeseria, it’s a good Filipino restaurant slash souvenir shop so it’s a great one-stop destination.

9 p.m.

La Merea for dessert!

Subic

Megan Young, actress/host

SATURDAY

9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Go to Treetop Adventures. They have cable rides that are super fun and also trekking if you want to experience the forest.

Noon to 2 p.m.

Have lunch at Vascos. This restaurant sits right above the water. It’s also a diving spot so if you want a more adventurous trip, you can do that for another two hours.

6 p.m.

Go to The Boardwalk, There actually used to be a boardwalk there. But even though it’s gone, it’s still nice to just chill and walk along the shore. You can do that and walk all the way to your next destination, which is:

7-9 p.m.

Seafood by the bay for some fresh seafood! Kamayan na! But seriously, lobster and crab here is just yummeh.

SUNDAY

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Jungle Environment Survival Camp is where you really train like the Navy! They’ll show you the basics of how to survive in the jungle. They also have a butterfly garden.

Another option is the Pamulaklakin Falls where a lot of the aetas live. They also teach you basic jungle survival (make fire or cook rice in a bamboo stick kind of thing). What I like about Pamulaklakin is that you can go around and it is just so beautiful there because of the waterfalls. At both places, you can either bring your own food or buy food there.

2 to 4 p.m.

After a tiring day, all you want to do is relax! Head over to The Ritz spa for that. What I like about the spa is that they have separate nipa huts for the commons, VIP rooms and for the presidential room. It’s also beside a lagoon and it has such a relaxing vibe.

4 to 6 p.m.

For dinner, Extremely Expresso. I love going here because you get that homemade cooking vibe. They have huge pizzas for large groups (forgot how many inches though, basta malaki). I love getting the vanilla milkshakes, too.

7 to 8 p.m.

Of course, it’s a Sunday so head on over to the Subic Chapel which you can walk to from

 Extremely Expresso and hear Mass.

Home style: Pam Quinones, Luis Katigbak, Samantha King, Wanggo Gallaga, and Rajo Laurel on their homes away from home.

BATAAN

Samantha King, newspaper columnist/student

A rough 36-hour weekend itinerary for when I go mountain climbing, probably the only times when my weekends are eventful. The place: Tarak Ridge in Mariveles Bataan. It’s a national park! Quite near to us Manileños, and beautiful at that. It will be the best 1,130 meters above sea level that you’ve ever attempted in your life. 

SATURDAY 

5 a.m.

At the Five Star Bus terminal in Cubao, get ready to board going to Bataan. 

8 a.m. ETA

Barangay Alas-asin, where we register at the barangay hall, pay the reg fee and make necessary house calls to the locals.

8:30 a.m.

Start of the preliminary trek — all we had to do was follow the yellow mud road.

9 a.m. ETA

Aling Kurding’s Kubo, with flags of the various mountaineering groups that have visited hanging about. The place is a rest stop of sorts before the merry foray into the forest area up ahead. Here she serves hot coffee and suman, and one can buy souvenir T-shirts of Tarak Ridge.

9:30 a.m.

Start of the real trek — the foliage is dense and lovely, the trail is wide, enjoyable and relatively easy.

12:30 ETA

Papaya river; a rest station and, of course, water source. We ate lunch, refilled our jugs, and waded in the river just for the heck of it.

1:30 p.m.

Start of the real trek — enter the woodlands! This is where the real fun (and backbreaking work) begins, where you have to get past steep, ever-ascending trails, climb roots and hang onto branches for support (or dear life), all while lugging a 45-liter backpack on your shoulders. Good times!

3:30 p.m. ETA

Tarak Ridge, where the wind slicing through the ridge is a killer, but the panoramic view of Manila Bay, Cavite and the Corregidor islands is to die for.

4:00 p.m.

You can choose to assault either the El Saco or Tarak peak. (We actually climbed up to the summit the following day, since it was raining when we reached the ridge, and the wind... the wind!) A mossy forest guards yonder entrance to even more majestic views.

5:30 p.m.

Back at the ridge, where the sunset is marvelous if you’re lucky enough to catch Tarak in favorable weather. We set up our tents, making sure to secure those extra pegs (because the wind really is insane), and set about preparing for dinner.

6:30 p.m.

Dinner! Nothing tastes better than a meal prepared in the great outdoors. Everything just tastes better; and after a strenuous, exhilarating hike, there’s nothing quite like it.

6:30 p.m.

Socials. Because no good climb is ever complete with something to laugh about at the end of the day.

9:00 p.m.

Lights out. The next best thing to a good meal — a good night’s sleep!

SUNDAY

5:30 a.m.

Wakeup call, breakfast time.

6:00 a.m.

Climb to summit to view sunrise

7:30 a.m.

Break camp — meaning we take down our tents, fix the last of our breakfast, pack our bags, change and freshen up a bit (or not) and start the descent. And most importantly, we leave no trace!

9:00 a.m. ETA

Papaya River, after the descent down, where you still have to hold on to branches and roots for dear life.

9:30 a.m.

After the quick break, it’s back to resuming the trek. 

11:30 a.m. ETA

Kubo! Where Aling Kurding has the best buko juice (P5 lang) and banana-Q prepared for everyone. 

Noon ETA

Barangay Alas-Asin. There’s a public shower area here, with an open area where hikers can rest. If you aren’t barreling towards the shower rooms and making sure to get there first, then you’re stuck with cooking duty for lunch. 

5:00 p.m. ETD

Manila. With everyone rested and cleaned up (for the most part), the bus ride home is just a matter of good vibes throughout.

7:00 p.m. ETA

Manila, Manila, Manila, Manila!

8:00 p.m.

And at 9 ‘o clock... home sweet home. My bed never looked more inviting. 

Dumaguete

Rajo Laurel, designer

The focus on the weekend itinerary is the history of the city, local art, food of course, and then the expected jaunts to the beach and dolphin watching!

SATURDAY

9 a.m.

Breakfast at Hayahay Restaurant (http://dive-monster.com/dumaguete-hayahay-restaurant/), a famous food haunt in Dumaguete city featuring an open-air dining experience. A popular breakfast dish in the city is Butterfly Danggit, a must-try.

10 a.m. to noon

A jaunt along the Rizal Boulevard to see the storied buildings in this historic city, basically the main thoroughfare of Dumaguete city.  

Siliman University — one of the oldest buildings in the city, this place is known for being the first American private school established in the Philippines. This place featured early 1900s architecture, distinctly of the American period. It makes for an interesting look, and also has a Museum.

A quick round of shopping at The Barter Trade, the traditional barter grounds of the Muslim community in the port city. The name stems from the history of trade between the Visayas and Mindanao, long before a local currency was established. A variety of goods from Mindanao and other neighboring islands to be found!

Maria Gallery — a gallery featuring beautiful art from local artists! Worth the visit!

Noon

Lunch at KRI Restaurant, featuring local Dumaguete fare but in a gourmet package! A saucier take on comfort food, a must-try!

2 p.m.

Appreciate the city’s architecture dating as far back as the 1910 and more souvenir shopping at V. Locsin Street!

4 p.m.

A quick stop for tea and merienda at Sans Rival/House of Silvanas Bakeshop a few steps away from the Boulevard. The silvanas is already a legend in Dumaguete (having already made its way to Manila) but the original is a must-try!

7 p.m.

Go down to the piers and enjoy fresh seafood fair and barbecue, it happens on the streets every night! A must-try delicacy for me is the puso  — it’s basically aromatic rice wrapped in palm leaves. 

9 p.m.

Check out the sights and sounds of the sabong culture of the city, featuring live bets and banter. This is definitely where you can feel the pulse of its people.

10 p.m. onwards

Take a trip to a local nightspot called Adelavida, brought to you by my friend Angelo Villanueva (or as he’s known to the world, DJ SupermodelDiva!). Don’t stay out too late though because the highlight of Dumaguete for me comes tomorrow, the beaches!

SUNDAY

6 a.m to noon

Apo Island Reef Reserve! If diving and snorkeling is your thing, take the initiative to wake up early and take a boat out to Apo Island Reef and enjoy the numerous sights and delicious local fare. There are enough things to do here for an entire day. (http://www.dumagueteinfo.com/apo-island-day-trip.php)

1 p.m. onwards

Take a one-hour car ride to Bais City to go on a dolphin watch! Observe the wonders of marine life — this is the perfect place to do it. I highly recommend http://dumagueteoutdoors.com/ for a no muss, no fuss experience.

7 p.m.

Cap your stay with a trip to Casablanca Delicatessen and Fine Dining (http://www.dumagueteinfo.com/casablanca.php). Try the six-course menu using the freshest ingredients Dumaguete has to offer!

8 p.m. onwards

Take in the sights and sounds for one last look at Rizal Boulevard and breathe in the rich history of Dumaguete! 

Bacolod

Wanggo Gallaga, writer/HIV prevention advocate

This may not be the most fair of assessments of Bacolod’s attractive features but I feel that the City of Smiles’ main attraction really is its food. The capital of Negros Occidental is a foodie’s paradise as delicious heaps of food in very affordable prices has brought back tourists on a yearly basis.

But to stay only within the confines of Bacolod would not be doing the whole province of Negros Occidental any justice. Luckily, the flow of traffic is pretty quick and there is always enough time to get to another city and check out their own marvels and sample their specialty dishes. This is, after all, essentially a food trip.

SATURDAY

After arriving at the airport in Silay City at 9 a.m., it’s best to head out to Bacolod. While the oldest and most popular hotel in the city is L’Fisher and its boutique hotel counterpart Chalet, which is in the heart of Lacson Street, the main street of Bacolod, another exemplary choice for lodgings is Nature’s Village in Talisay, which is right between Bacolod and Silay. The Nature’s Village is a gorgeous resort hotel filled with lush gardens and is perfect for nature lovers who want to be close to the city.

Then it’s off to breakfast. Bob’s is an institution and has been around Bacolod since forever. It’s a good first place to make your first food stop. You will then have time to do one stop before lunch. Bar 21 is another Bacolod institution and is quite popular for its batchoy. Another great choice would be Aboy’s, which has some of the best grilled dishes in the city. Go for a bowl of squid fat to go with your liempo and you’ll know why people go to Bacolod to eat.

Then you can spend most of the day with some cultural excursions. The San Sebastian Cathedral is one of the older churches, having celebrated its centennial in 1976. The Negros Museum showcases some of the best work by Negrense artists and is known for collecting the stories of Negros, showcasing important historical events that have made Negros the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines.” You might be able to catch a poetry reading or a play production or a seminar. Try out their museum café because it has a fantastic menu with products made organically from the island. The ANP Showroom is a one-of-a-kind gift shop for pasalubong shopping that includes arts and crafts certified Negrense. The new Art District at Mandalagan has a couple of galleries showcasing the best in Negrense art and there are a couple of drinking places for an afternoon cocktail, if you are so inclined. For a taste of nature, visit the Negros Forest Ecological Foundation and Biodiversity Center, which is a breeding and rescue center for endemic and endangered animals.

Finish off your sightseeing tour in Talisay at Balay ni Tana Dicang. This gorgeous old house still remains in the style of Spanish colonial times and is also an art gallery for modern art. Peek inside old style architecture and discover the legendary matriarch of the Lizares family.

Head back to the hotel to freshen up and prepare for dinner. You can’t go to Bacolod without having tried the famous chicken inasal. You can go to the ever reliable Chicken House and douse your rice with chicken oil or, if you are okay with going cowboy, head to Manukan Country near SM where it is all rows and rows of carinderia-type food stalls that serve really good chicken inasal.

After dinner, it’s time to party. That’s something Bacolodnons are pretty good at as well. The Art District has become quite the hotspot with rows and rows of bars frequented by many of Bacolod’s artists. Other places that promises a good time is Mu Shu or KGB. Drink, dance and party and the Bacolodnons will join you shot for shot.

SUNDAY

The following day is best reserved for enjoying the natural beauty spots of Negros. Either take a trip to Mambukal Resort in Murcia, a gateway to Mount Kanlaon Volcano. It’s a natural reserve with hot springs, lush vegetation, a boating lagoon, and a chance to see some flying foxes, one of three types of bats.

If you are more the beach type, go North to Cadiz Viejo and take a ferry ride to Lakawon Island to enjoy a white sand beach. You can laze around in the sun or go snorkeling or engage in other water sports.

It’s best to reserve the rest of the day as traveling to and fro will eat up your time. Give yourself about three hours to get back to the hotel so you can freshen up again, check out, then head off to Pendy’s in Bacolod or El Ideal in Silay so you can buy all the goodies you need to bring home as pasalubong or for yourself. Piaya, dulce gatas, meringue, mango tarts, Napoleones and other stuff is available to bring home for your journey home.

Manila

Luis Katigbak, Esquire associate editor, Young Star columnist

SATURDAY

11 a.m.

Taking advantage of the relatively lighter weekend traffic flow (but let’s face it, it’s still horrible), one can trek to Ritual, a lovely little shop located in The Collective on Malugay street in Makati, to stock up on the “finest local products, sourced where they were made” — from citronella dish liquid to lemongrass deodorizer, from soaps to sauces, and of course, coffee (the organic/ fair trade kind). If owners Rob and Bea are there, you might have a nice conversation about music, travel, the supernatural, and good and evil in the universe.

Noon

Since you’re already at The Collective, your lunch options are pretty good: swing by Wabi-Sabi Noodle House and Vegetarian Grocery for pho or ramen, or if you’re feeling carnivorous, attack a big drippy burger and/or some wings (plus some tasty fries) at Wingman.

4 p.m.

Secret Fresh at the Ronac Art Center on Ortigas Avenue (near Greenhills Shopping Center) is likely to have — aside from cool limited-edition toys, comics-related art books and other pop-culture finds — an interesting exhibit in its second-floor gallery. Last time we were there, it was the amazing/amusing (amuzing?) “5 Channels” by Marcushiro and Fabo, which mined the Pinoy ‘80s and came up with giant cardboard robots, plastic ray guns, and a tribute to TVJ. Ronac also has streetwear shops, a basketball court, and, if you’re still hungry (particularly for craft beer and burgers), a Charlie’s Grind & Grill.

7 p.m.

Over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao (also known, for reasons obvious, as the Big Dome), Cyndi Lauper might be singing. Or Dolores O’Riordan. Or, God help you, motherfreakin’ LMFAO.

10 p.m.

Saturday nights are for live music, and for shouting drunkenly at your good friends in order to be heard over the live music. We often find ourselves at Route 196 on Katipunan Avenue in QC, for album/EP launches, production nights, and other gigs featuring some of the best acts on the local scene today. (If you’re in Makati, however, saGuijo is still the place to go for your original rock thrills.) If it’s past 2 or 3 a.m. and you and your friends still want to drink and talk (and who wouldn’t), you’re probably going to end up at Big Sky Mind in New Manila until almost daybreak.

SUNDAY

8 p.m.

If you’ve gotten over your hangover and are still looking for good music with a good crowd and good food, head on back to The Collective, to B-side, for Irie Sunday: “Strictly dub, roots, ska, rocksteady, rub-a-dub, lovers rock, reggae, dancehall” all night. Free entrance. Live performances and DJ sets by the music’s local practitioners/enthusiasts, plus the occasional amazing guest from overseas. Jah bless.

Davao

Pam Quinones, stylist (with a little help from friends)

SATURDAY

8:00 am

Breakfast at Café Marco (Marco Polo Hotel) or Café Uno (Waterfront Insular Hotel).

10:00 am

Shopping at Aldevinco Shopping Center for all ethnic handmade products or Davao souvenirs.

Noon

Lunch at Tsuru Japanese restaurant and Sushi Bar. This is the longest-running Japanese restaurant in Davao.

2:00 p.m.

Dessert and coffee at Yellow Hauz. Go for the cupcakes.

3:00 p.m.

Get to know the city by a quick tour at the Davao Museum for the historical heritage of Davao or you can also visit General Luna Art Gallery.

6:00 p.m.

Dinner at Claude’s Café de Ville, a fine dining restaurant that offers French and Mediterranean cuisines. The place has an old-house feel, like Cafe Ysabel.

8:00 p.m.

Drinks at the Cellar at Obosa compound.

SUNDAY

8:00 a.m.

Head to Pearl Farm Beach Resort for a half-day tour and breakfast by the sea.

9:00 a.m.

Snorkeling or diving to see the taclobos and corals of Davao Gulf.

Noon

Lunch at Maranao Restaurant (Pearl Farm Beach Resort).

1:00 p.m.

Head back to the city.

2:00 p.m.

Madrazo Fruit Strip for Davao’s famed fruits (durian, mangosteen, pomelo, mango, lanzones, etc)

3:00 p.m.

Head to Lola Abon’s durian factory for pasalubong.

4:00 p.m.

Another durian treat at Blugre Café for Durian Coffee.

6:00 p.m.

Early dinner at Belito’s Vineyard (a homey and quaint setting that offers simple cooking at its best). Their bestseller is the paella negra.

7:00 p.m.

To the airport.

BACOLOD BEACH BEST CITY DUMAGUETE HEAD ISLAND MDASH
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