For riders and road trippers clocking in the miles, meals on the road often just consist of quick stops at fast food joints or meet-ups at gas station convenience stores before heading out. Most riders would be satisfied with cup noodles or hot coffee to warm up along the way. A few years ago, this was pretty much all there was along the Marilaque route (AKA Marcos Highway), the scenic highway traversing Marikina, Rizal, Laguna and Quezon.
During recent weekend rides, I noticed a lot of new places to eat and a lot of other establishments being built along the route. If you’re going on a road trip East of Manila this Holy Week, here are some old favorites and new places where you can grab a bite to eat and enjoy the view. Continue reading →
While most people are probably heading out to their home provinces or hitting the beaches this Holy Week, riders are probably looking for their next destination. With the streets in Manila virtually devoid of traffic during the Lenten Season, this is just the perfect excuse to gear up and head to religious destinations. Riding to visit churches and sites of religious significance can be a meaningful way to celebrate the Holy Week.
Last year, I found myself motorcycling a total of 232 kilometers South of Manila for a Holy Week themed ride, passing through the churches of Pakil and Paete and the Tatlong Krus a pilgrimage site in Paete, where three crosses sit atop a hill.
Holy Week is coming up and if you’ve been cooped up in the office or school for the first few months of the year, you’re probably all set to join the exodus from the Metro soon. In case you still don’t have vacation plans all laid out, it’s not too late to still head out to nearby destinations. In terms of proximity from Manila, the top choice for a quickie trip would be Tagaytay and Cavite.
Towering trees perched from temples ruins; their roots spilling over like tentacles over the crumbling walls. A maze of secret paths led to doorways hidden in the rubble. Faded carvings in concrete seemed to hide secret codes just waiting to be deciphered.
While having dinner and drinks on Pub Street in Siem Reap during our recent trip to Cambodia, we noticed 3 couples carrying backpacks with camera crews in tow. They all headed in a hurry to a small side street. They looked like the cast of some reality TV show, so of course, we followed them. We didn’t catch them, but we spotted a red and yellow route marker flag by a yellow building with street signs of Penny Lane and Abbey Road on one corner. Amazing, right?
Siquijor is shrouded in stories of sorcery and witchcraft. Dubbed the “Mystic Island,” this province in the Central Visayas is known as the home of witches, shamanistic folk healers and mambabarang (people who can cause affliction or death by supernatural means). I heard that hexes, curses and love potions were hawked on the streets along with the usual souvenir keychains and magnets. You have to admit, there’s just something so fascinating about any place steeped in such superstitions. While some people are afraid to set foot here, this reputation for dark magic is actually what drew me to the island.
From the port of Ivana, we spotted a small wooden boat loaded with passengers approaching the shore. The boats called faluwa are the main means of transportation between islands in Batanes. They’re quite small and don’t have outriggers, so they can easily navigate the strong waves at sea. This was our ride to our destination for the day – Sabtang Island, the smallest of the three inhabited islands of Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines.
On the left side of the road was a towering rock wall. On the right was a cliff that plummeted down into the sea, complete with dramatic waves crashing into the rocky coast. The winding road carved into the hills narrowed into one lane as it made its way around a sharp bend. Yellow “Blow Ur Horn” signs painted on stone markers signaled blind spots in the road, leading to landscapes that wouldn’t look out of place in a fantasy film.
Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines, has been on my bucket list for years. Referred to as “the Home of the Winds” because of its cool and windy weather, Batanes offers a unique blend of breathtaking scenery, natural attractions and well-preserved culture. It’s the only province in the country that’s been declared in its entirety as a protected Landscape and Seascape. You could spend days here and not get tired of the views.
Originally posted March 2013; updated December 2013 (added San Felipe, Zambales)
Aside from just swimming and getting a good tan, the beach is great for all sorts of water sports, including surfing. If you want to learn how to ride the waves, here are eight surf spots around the Philippines that I’ve personally been to.
1) Baler, Aurora
Thanks to JourneyingJames “Camp, Surf, Bike & Trek” tour, I finally got to visit Baler, one of the more popular surfing spots in the Philippines. This quaint coastal town in the province of Aurora is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the East and draws in tourists especially during the ber months.
I feel really fortunate to be living on Maginhawa Street, one of the best go-to places for a food trip around the metro. There’s a great range of restaurants and types of cuisine to fit any mood and craving. A lot of the restos in the area also have this laid-back and artsy vibe, which I love. Since a lot of the Maginhawa establishments have come and gone since I first wrote about this, I decided that it’s high time that I updated this post (after my article in Sunday Inquirer Magazine came out.)
Here is an updated directory of where to to eat along Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City. I’ve also included a few notable restaurants in the Maginhawa orbit/Teacher’s Village/Sikatuna area that are not necessarily on Maginhawa street. Check back often because this post gets updated frequently. Lots of new restos have opened up on the street that I’m still planning to try
With its quirky details, classy decor and homey vibe, Islands Leisure Boutique Hotel is a great place to stay in Dumaguete City. This boutique hotel in the capital city of Negros Oriental offers a peaceful oasis right in the heart of the city. After motorcycling all over Siquijor the previous day, checking in here felt like a treat.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a work-sponsored assignment to write about schools affected by typhoon Yolanda around Kalibo and Capiz. It just so happened that one of the days in the scheduled trip fell on a local holiday with no schools open and the people I needed to interview not available. Aside from the direct flights to Caticlan, Kalibo is a known gateway to Boracay, the most popular island destination in the Philippines. Boracay is not a place I am really drawn to, but the free time was too good to pass up. So, without any concrete plans, I made my way there to see how much the place has changed since I had last been there.
The Circle Hostel is a chain of eco-hostels in the Philippines catering to surfers and backpackers looking for a community atmosphere and budget-friendly lodging. They aim to be a “sanctuary for the artsy and the adventurous” where people can express themselves freely. They currently have two locations in popular surfing spots near Manila: La Union and Zambales.
The Circle Hostel Zambales has the same artsy, laid-back vibe as The Circle Hostel in La Union. It is located on a small street in Liw-Liwa, San Felipe, about 5 minutes away from the beach. It’s great for solo travelers who just want to meet new people or groups looking for a budget-friendly place for the weekend.