I haven’t really been feeling the Christmas spirit lately. Maybe it’s the over-commercialization of the whole season, the crowded malls and the horrifying traffic all over the metro. The threat of typhoon Hagupit slowly crawling its way across the country is enough to put a damper on everyone’s collective mood.
But there’s nothing like a good motorcycle ride somewhere new to lift the spirits. Taking advantage of the good weather before the storm hits, I took a solo ride to Antipolo yesterday and found myself visiting a few inspiring spots, including a cozy cafe hidden in a family estate and Casa Santa, a Christmas-themed museum.
From the odd gate, the walkway leading to the garden was patched together with broken tiles and mirrors. Benches and tables scattered around the garden seemed set up for a mad tea party. Under the shroud of overgrown trees and plants, masks of deities carved in stone peeked from every corner.
From the tricycle I was riding in downtown Tacloban, the building’s bright teal color, red and white striped canopies and colorful murals painted on the walls instantly called out to me. When I entered, the first thing I saw was a sofa full of graphic throw pillows in cheerful colors and a vintage white bicycle covered with flowers. How can you not instantly fall in love with a place that looks just as pretty as that?
Encompassing and immense, Langun-Gobingob Caves in the town of Calbiga (more popularly known as Calbiga Cave) in Samar province is the largest cave system in the Philippines. It’s reputed to be the second largest in Asia and the world’s third largest karst formation, measuring 7 km. long with an area of 900 square km. But that doesn’t even begin to describe its vastness.
With chambers upon chambers as large as coliseums, the light from our headlamps barely made a dent in the dark. The surreal underground landscapes brought images of the Underworld to mind. If you want a glimpse of mysterious underground realms, head to Samar. Calbiga is just one of the many cave systems you can explore in this rugged province, dubbed the Caving Capital of the country. Continue reading →
A lot of images come to mind when you think of Baguio. Pine trees, strawberries, boating in Burnham Park. Dinosaurs… Dinosaurs?
Yes. We found ourselves face to face with these prehistoric monsters in Dinosaurs Island. The unique attraction is situated in a valley between forested mountains in the town of Badiwan, Tuba, Benguet, about 15 minutes from Baguio City.
Sunlight streams through the shady trees, casting a hazy glow on the garden. Amidst the refreshing greenery and peaceful surroundings, one is drawn to the distinct art pieces scattered about the grounds. A bizarre statue arches its back to stare at the sky, while lanterns resembling cat’s heads stick out from the branches of a large tree.
Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur, has the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Heritage City. The city has made headlines lately as it’s currently in the running as one of the 14 official finalists in the New 7 Wonders. The city is well-known for its Spanish-era mansions, cobblestone streets and kalesas (horse-drawn carriages), which are the most popular way for tourists to go sightseeing.
The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) is the most famous work of the French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Many people have been touched by this beloved classic, which while written as a children’s book, speaks volumes about life and relationships.
So stumbling into a Little Prince-themed cafe was an unexpected surprise during a trip to Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte. Continue reading →
For those in the regular workforce, vacations can be tricky. Not everyone has the luxury of time to do long-term backpacking or visit exotic locales every month. But everyone needs a beach and adventure fix once in a while. Located just 3-4 hours away from Manila, Real in Quezon offers such a quick weekend getaway.
From above, the broken tiles decorating the stairway resembled a rainbow. Old wine bottles jutted out from the cement wall in an odd pattern. Right behind a computer workspace, the sunlight streamed through a wall revealing quirky cutouts and glints of colored glass. Everywhere I looked there was something vibrant, colorful and interesting.
I mentally tried to digest everything as I went trigger-happy shooting every beautiful detail I could. There was a lot to take in. Continue reading →
Steam hissed out from the side of the hill as the scooter made its way up a small winding road. To the left of the road was a serene river. To the right was a cliff wall emitting sulfuric fumes. I was on my way to a waterfall with red rocks located in the town of Valencia, near Dumaguete City, and I was finding the scenery very surprising.
Dumaguete, the capital city of Negros Oriental is known mainly for being a quaint University Town with all the modern conveniences. But it’s also a good jump-off point to different beaches, dive spots and eco-adventures. Continue reading →
Most guy bikers I know don’t usually care where they eat during or after a ride. Any food – even if it’s questionable looking carinderia fare that’s been sitting out for several days – is fair game if you’re hungry. Any gas station or sari-sari store is a potential pitstop.
Well, if you want to get your girlfriends or wives to ride with you more often, you may want to put a bit more thought into the destinations. I can’t speak for all girl bikers out there, but while I don’t mind roughing it out every now and then on the trails, I also like being treated like a girl sometimes. Good food, unique ambiance and decent restrooms are probably the three things I look out for in dining places, whether or not I’m biking. Oh, and lots of Instagram-worthy details.
If you’re looking for a unique watering hole to try this October, a great place to check out is Bravo Sports Bar in Makati. The restaurant doubles as a microbrewery for Pivo Praha, a Czech-style beer brewed right here in Manila. Apparently, some craft beer experts in the country don’t really consider Pivo Praha a craft beer, because it’s more commercial compared to the smaller microbreweries like those producing Philippine craft beers, but the beers are definitely worth trying out. In fact, since the most popular mainstream beer in the country now tastes like water to me, this remains one of my favorite drinking spots because of the affordable and great tasting beer, good food and generally quiet and uncrowded atmosphere.
Originally posted April 2011, updated December 2014
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 places in the area are small family-owned restaurants or start-ups of young entrepreneurs with a laid-back and artsy vibe. In fact, Maginhawa Street has become a “tourist attraction” of sorts, with people from all over coming to the area just to go food tripping.
Here’s an updated directory of where to to eat along Maginhawa Street (including Malingap Street and nearby streets) Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City. 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 Continue reading →
Aside from the typical heartwarming soups and stews, one of the most popular comfort foods in Filipino cuisine is pansit or pancit (noodle-based dishes). Introduced into the country by the Chinese, pancit gets its name from the Hokkien pian i sit which means “something conveniently cooked fast.”
Every traveler knows the importance of having reliable wi-fi while they’re on the road. Whether you just have the urgent need to upload your latest unique foodie find on Instagram or you need to check Googlemaps to navigate around in a foreign city, staying connected is really important. The problem is that not all establishments offer free wi-fi, and those that do are sometimes spotty at best. Continue reading →
One of my frustrations when shopping is that most top-performing outdoor gear (ex. convertible dri-fit pants, trekking shoes, or backpacks) seem to have been designed for men. Tall men at that. Unless I shop in the kid’s section or luck out with (frequently out of stock) S or XS items, my height makes it difficult to find good gear that fits properly.
Another thing that annoys me about travel gear is that most items for women almost always come in extremely girly designs of bright pink and purple (just look at the running shoe section of most stores. No offense, but not all girls like pink and purple, although Hit-Girl looks really cool and badass in violet.
Anyway, it’s great to know that some brands like Deuter have gone the extra mile and have designed women-specific backpacks that are just as tough as those made for men, and don’t look like they came from a Mattel catalogue.
As a fan of scavenger hunts and video games, the invitation to the media launch of Berghaus Urban Adventure Games had me intrigued.
“Experience the 1st app based Urban Adventure Game,” said the invitation from Berghaus, a premier British brand for outdoor gear. “Please wear rubber shoes,” was the only follow-up when I confirmed my attendance.