Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bantayan Island (February 2012)

After almost three months of absence, I'm back to blogging. The past few months have been a mixture of surprises, adjustments and beautiful beginnings-- more on adjustments really-- my body adjusting to hormones, to physical changes. But allow me to go a few months back and share this wonderful trip I had with a few of my closest friends. 

I've lived in Cebu all my life, yet it's only just this year that I've set foot on the beautiful island of Bantayan. Such a shame, I know. Cebu has much to offer. I'm glad we had this trip. Thanks to my friend, Maimai and to her fun-loving husband, Jarred, for making this trip possible. I won't bore you with words. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

On our first night, we stayed at Kota Beach Resort in Sta. Fe. Bantayan is often likened to Boracay because of its fine white sand. If Boracay is far within your reach and you need to have that quick getaway from the stress of city-life, Bantayan is your next best option.

Mid-afternoon, we headed out to the sea for a short island-hopping, which was not entirely materialized for the island that we were supposed to visit had an exorbitant entrance fee as per the"owner's" policy. There's no point of making our presence felt as men and women of the law. We were there to enjoy, not to engage in a legal debate as to whether an island can be owned by a private individual.

Aside from its beaches, Bantayan is also known for the wide array of seafood, it being essentially a fishing island. I've never eaten that many seafood in my entire life. Haha. But I have no regrets.
Looking back, I realized that our time was spent more on eating than actual swimming or enjoying the beach. We went to as far as Madridejos (one of Bantayan's municipalities) just to eat halo-halo.

And the eating escapade continues...
This pizza place is just a few steps away from the inn/apartment where we stayed on our second night.

Before heading back to the city, we dropped by (twice actually, during the entire trip) Le Petit Bonheur to quench our thirst with milkshakes.

The place is quite attractive to me. They have this sort-of cabanas strategically placed around the area-- good spots from some photo session actually. Hehe.

But my favorite part of the trip was the bond among greatest of friends (char!)... Seriously, even if you are in the most beautiful part of the world, but you're not in the company of good people, the trip--no matter how luxurious, won't be as memorable.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Craving for authentic spanish cuisine? Then Ipar's Restaurante y Bar de Tapas is for you. Ipar is actually the name of the Chef and Owner of the restaurant--- Ipar O. Miranda.
Everything in the restaurant is Spanish-- from the food, to the whole concept and set-up, to the lighting fixtures (which, for some reason, reminds me of the movie, The Mask of Zorro) and decorations and to every minute detail there is.

To us, Ipar's became the venue for the get together of my high school friends, as our dear Abby, was in town at that time. And because we were so busy catching up with each other's lives, I forgot to take photos of the food. I'm not really a fan of Spanish cuisine, but I love their lengua estofada and gambas al ajillo. Their house specialties include bacalao, paella, chuletas al ajillo, U.S. ribeye, and roasted leg of lamb. I heard that their leche flan is also a must-try. The price range is from 180-400. It can go as high as 2,000+ for the lambs.
15 years of friendship. Our body figure may have changed (lol) but the bond remains the same.

157 F. Ramos Street,
Cebu City
+ 63 32 410 7727

Monday, February 27, 2012

Maitre Chocolatier

Since February is the month of love, why not spend Valentines in a sweet place, as in chocolate sweet--make that premium European chocolate sweet--place. I'm talking about Maitre Chocolatier.
Maitre Chocolatier offers a tasteful array of premium European chocolate brands-- Ferrero (Italy), Ritter Sport (Germany), Lindt (Switzerland), Revillion (France) and many more. They offer not just chocolates, but the usual dish that we have, it's just that the taste is enhanced by these chocolates.
A chocolate boutique won't be a chocolate boutique if there's no rack full of chocolates.
For Valentines, they have this cute Ferrero bouquet.
My husband is a self-confessed un-romantic guy (yes, he said that. I have proof.) But I beg to disagree. Yes, he does not make gigantic gestures. He can't sing me romantic songs nor move me into a slow and sweet dance. But he can write the most sincere love letter. The one that really goes deep into my bones (asus. hehe.) He doesn't do that on a regular basis, yet when he does, I know he put a lot of effort in writing his thoughts and emotions. This Valentines, instead of giving me a card, he wrote me a very long letter. And I gave him a book (yeah, I'm so novel like that. haha) He loved it, by the way. So that's all good.

Food Quality--3.5; Price--4; Ambiance--5; Service--4; Accessibility--5.

I wasn't entirely happy with my order. Carbonara my go to pasta. And yes, I'm a chocolate addict. But not of white chocolates. Ergo, I found my pasta a little too sweet for my taste buds. Oh but the dessert was to die for!

Maitre Chocolatier
101, Level 1, The Terraces
Ayala Center Cebu
+63 32 2387116

Kuya J (Cebu)

Jerome and I have agreed to continue celebrating our 'monthsaries' to keep the fire burning (char. haha) and at the same time, dine at new restaurants or discover hole-in-the-wall gastronomic places. Expect this blog to morph into a travel/food blog soon. 

I've been wanting  to try Kuya J restaurant, to which I've passed by numerous times because of the worthy competitor across it. 
A restaurant is appealing to me if the place is well-decorated and has an infusion of art. I am no expert in the arts but in some way or another, I know how to appreciate it. Case in point is this fascinating lighting fixture---
Then this wall decor---
Of course, no matter how good the ambiance is, the quality of the food should not be compromised. Here in Kuya J, we were not disappointed.
My all-time favorite dish-- drowned in butter, ah, heaven for me!
I've recently cultivated love for prawns and shrimps. This one exceeded my expectations.
Looks tough on the outside, but the meat is surprisingly tender. Easy to chew. No kidding.

 Our verdict?
Food Quality--4; Price--5; Ambiance--5; Accessibility--2.5.

Parking is not so good especially during peak hours of dining. You have to park on the side of the street. 

Kuya J Restaurant
0394 Orchid Street,
Capitol Site, Cebu City
+ 63 32 2531343

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baguio (December 2011)

We had our (1st) wedding anniversary celebration in Baguio. It was the perfect time of the year to have a romantic getaway there. The cold weather stood as a perfect backdrop.

We booked a flight from Cebu-Clark and since it was a promo fare (translation: flights at ungodly hours), we had to stay one night in Clark. We decided to stay at Hotel V, booked through Agoda

I love the play of colors and the geometric lines.
It was in Clark where I discovered I made a major boo-boo-- I left my contact lens holder and solution!  Yes, I slept with my contacts on-- truly not the best thing to do but I have no choice. The OC in me was off-duty. So our first stop in Baguio was SM BAGUIO, which by the way, is not air-conditioned. It's like one big al fresco mall. And it was Christmas-y all over!
Sights of Baguio from SM Baguio view deck
This is my second time in Baguio, my husband's first. It was not this crowded (or populated) before. But I guess a lot fell in love with Baguio (like I did). Houses and residences have mushroomed.
Mountain-ful homes
Then we headed off to BURNHAM PARK and did what any normal Baguio visitor/tourist would do.
It's official-- my husband has become a full-fledged camwhore. Haha.
After all the paddling and numbing of arms (and feet) due to the cold weather, we heard mass at the OUR LADY OF ATONEMENT CATHEDRAL aka the Pink Cathedral.
The best way to explore Baguio is by foot since the city is so small and you'll pass by a number of interesting   sights and shops along the way. From the cathedral, we walked to Cafe by the Ruins to have dinner. It was quite a long walk but cool breeze made it an easy one. The moment we reached SESSION ROAD, we were greeted by Christmas carols playing loudly throughout the whole stretch of Baguio's commercial area.
After dinner, we called it a night and went back to our inn at PNKY. Actually, it was getting really cold that we just wanted to snuggle-cuddle the night away. Lol.

We woke up early the following day to have a fresh morning start at LA TRINIDAD STRAWBERRY FARM in Benguet. We took a jeepney from Baguio's City Hall. It was a 30-minute ride to the farm.
We were quite disappointed though that there was no strawberry picking that day. There was a recent typhoon that destroyed what could have been harvested.
But our spirits were lifted by the yummy strawberry taho and the manong who gladly took our pictures.
Sitting across the farm are rows of pasalubong stalls selling all sorts of products from Baguio. But we opted to buy in the central market to get a better deal of the prices.
We headed back to the city and went to TAM-AWAN VILLAGE. This time we took a cab as there are very few--close to none, jeepneys that go there. It is situated about 5km from the city proper. The fog was starting to build up when we reached the place.

A visit to Tam-awan would give you a glimpse on the life and culture of the Ifugaos. There are authentic Ifugao huts, paintings of local artists in their art gallery and a coffee shop.
A visit to Baguio will not be complete without going to the famous MINES VIEW PARK. 
Boy, it has changed a lot through the years! The number of commercial stalls and all sorts of money-generating gimmicks have increased tremendously, like this souvenir shop for example. For a small donation, you can your pictures taken inside the shop, complete with costume and props.
We headed down to get a better view of the abandoned mines of the Ibaloi community and we saw this cute canine fellow near the entrance. 
Where have all the tourists gone? Haha.
We purposely visited Mines View Park first as the other tourists spots are situated closely with each other. We only need to travel by foot. So our next stop was THE MANSION. It was built in 1908 and now serves as the official (summer) residence of the President of the Philippines.
The main gate of the mansion is said to be a replica of the gate of the Buckingham Palace in London. Bongga. Most tourists will have their pictures taken here as they can't do the same in other areas of the mansion grounds. The mansion is, sad to say, not open to the public.

Right across the Mansion is WRIGHT PARK-- another popular landmark and tourist spot in Baguio.   
At the foot of the park, one can go horse-back riding. This attraction has become so commercialized that the rates have remarkably increased. We paid a total of Php 600 for a 30-minute ride-- Php 200/horse and Php 200 for the guide. 
I didn't exactly enjoy my ride since we traversed on the road rather than on the horse track inside the park. Every time a vehicle would pass by, my horse would attempt to gallop causing me to hold on to dear life. I was careful not to pull the ropes so tight as it might strangle my horse. When I alighted from the horse, my legs were literally shaking. That was the longest 30-mins of my life. Haha. Hence, no picture of me on the  horse. My husband on the other hand was lucky to have a very well-behaved horse. He enjoyed it so much.

Located a few blocks from Wright Park is the BAGUIO BOTANICAL GARDEN. At the main entrance of the garden, you will find a group of Igorots donned in their native attire who are more than willing and eager to have their picture taken with you. Of course, the eagerness comes for a fee.
To be candid, they caught me by surprise. I did not intend to have my picture taken with them. I only wanted to have a picture with the Botanical Garden engravings behind me. Next thing I knew, faster than the shutter speed of our camera, they were already beside me and doing the Korean pose at that! I had no choice but to oblige. I likewise had no choice but to shell out 100 bucks for their fee. Oh well... my husband and I decided to call it day and took a good rest in the garden. We stayed there until it was nearing dusk. 
We were already hungry by 6PM after all our adventure, so we decided to have dinner at 50s Diner. We spent the night just walking around the city and we saw these interesting life-size statues.
During the holidays, the whole stretch of HARRISON ROAD was closed and converted into a night market area where imported goods were sold at very very low prices. Happy happy me!!! Haha.
What to do on a very cold night? Drink a cup of hot coffee or have a few bottles of beer and share stories with friends that warm the heart--that is exactly what we did on our last night in Baguio. We went to Cafe Will, where they have cute sayings and quotes on their ceilings. I love the chill and relaxed vibe of the place.
Our trip to Baguio was made even more memorable because of our dear friend, Stephen. Manong, salamat kaayo. I particularly enjoyed our language and linguistics lessons. Haha.

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