Travel Guide: Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija

These days, a lot of city folk want a taste of the laid-back provincial life. When life gets too hectic in the metro, just heading somewhere you can float on a bamboo raft, enjoy simple home-cooked meals and see stunning natural sights can be just what you need to re-energize for the work week ahead. One of the fastest-rising destinations to offer this kind of experience near Manila is Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija.

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10 Must-Try Dishes in Japan


Japanese cuisine is very popular throughout the world. As an island nation surrounded by the ocean, it’s widely known for its seafood. Aside from the freshness and high quality of food, what I like the most about Japanese food is how beautiful everything is always presented. No matter how many elements there are in a dish, everything always looks so neat and organized. Japanese food really reflects the culture.

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Travel Guide: Western Samar

Home to a network of amazing caves hidden beneath the region’s lush jungles, including the biggest cave system in the country, Samar is a rugged island where adventure seekers can experience something out of the ordinary. Though most of Samar Island remains off-the-radar for local tourists, many international spelunkers have been drawn here since it’s been dubbed the “Caving Capital of the Philippines.”

14. calbiga caves samar cavern
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10 Must-Try Dishes in Thailand

Thailand’s food is a feast for the senses. First you eat with your eyes, as each dish is beautifully presented. A whiff of the spicy aroma teases you again before you finally dig in. Once you start eating, every bite tantalizes the tastebuds. Thai cuisine is diverse, with influences from a lot of different countries. Its flavors are complex. Each individual element and condiment is used deliberately. It’s a delicate blend of exotic spices, flavors and textures that result in dishes that transports you to places. 

food trip thailand cover
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Food Trip: Pampanga

Located just a couple of hours from Metro Manila, Pampanga is a great choice for those looking for a unique food trip destination relatively near the metro. This province in Central Luzon is known as the “Culinary Capital of the Philippines,” known for being the birthplace of chefs who learned cooking techniques from Spaniards during the colonial period and passed down family secrets through generations.

01. food trip pampanga aling lucing sisig tokwat baboy chicharon bulaklak

It’s always difficult to come up with a list of “where to eat” in a destination, and more so when you’re writing about a place that’s known for their great cuisine. Like all food trip guides, this list is by no means definitive. It’s based on places that I have personally tried during media tours & from recommendations of friends who live in the area. If you only have a limited time, these are just some suggestions where to eat. WARNING: Putok-Batok post ahead.
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Merkanto: International Street Food Park in UP Village

Updated September 2016

There’s a new food park in the neighborhood! Merkanto, located inside 38 Autocare Car wash in UP Village, serves international street fare. I love sampling street food and eating in hawker centers when I travel to other countries. Street food is really big in other countries and it looks like the trend is catching on in the Philippines. Though there are a lot of restaurants and food parks already in the Maginhawa area, I have to say the concepts here are pretty unique. The dishes are affordable, and so far from what we’ve tried, everything tastes delicious.

01 merkanto international street food
Opened in April 2016, Merkanto currently has 6 food cart-type stalls serving a few street eats from Korea, Vietnam, Morocco, Indonesia, Brazil and India plus one beverage stall specializing in craft beer from the Philippines. It’s fairly new, so it doesn’t get as crowded as some of the other food parks even during weekends. However, I’m sure once word gets around, people will start to flock here as well. Below are some sample dishes per stall and the price range so you can get an idea of the offerings. Continue reading

Travel Guide: Baler, Aurora

Baler, the capital town of Aurora Province, is a haven for surfers. This laid-back coastal town in the North is known primarily for its killer waves. Numerous surf shops are situated along Sabang beach catering to novice and the seasoned surfers. Baler also has a rich history, being the backdrop of the infamous Siege of Baler, a battle of the Philippine Revolution and concurrently the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War.

baler surfing

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Craft Beer in Bohol: Coco Loco at Anda Beach

The Cebruery is a Cebu-based craft brewery that launched in 2014. I read that their brewery in Mandaue, Cebu is open for site visits on a reservation basis only and didn’t have a chance to visit because of limited time during a recent trip. Luckily, I found out that Coco Loco, a new bar and restaurant in Anda Beach in Bohol carried their craft beers, so I made it a point to visit the restaurant to check it out.

cebruery craft beer coco loco anda bohol

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Food Trip: Neighborhood Destinations in Manila

Nowadays, I can’t stand eating in malls and fast food joints. Eating out in big name chains and regular restaurants in commercialized areas just seems so expensive. I always prefer eating in homegrown neighborhood establishments, which are usually family-owned, and offer good and affordable food.food trip neighborhood destinations

Looking for alternative dining destinations instead of malls? Here are some of the best neighborhoods and food streets around Metro Manila with top 5 recommendations per area. Take note that a lot of these places are mainly residential areas, so traffic and parking can be a bit of a problem. To counter this, we usually just walk or bike when we explore other neighborhoods for food-trips.
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JAPAN: Beer & Food Trip Diary

Some people collect ref magnets or mugs when they travel. I collect beer. Or at least I try to drink as many variants of unique beer as possible when I travel to a different country. Though Japan is really known more for sake (rice wine), I was glad to be able to add a few new ones to my beer collection during our trip around Nagoya, Takayama, Gamagori and Gujo Hachiman with Cebu Pacific.

japan nagoya travelup akamiso beer

There are 4 major beer producers in Japan: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory, who produce mostly easy to drink pale-colored light lagers with an alcohol strength of around 5.0%. While some of these beers are widely available internationally including here in the Philippines, it’s always nice to pair a great Japanese meal with the local brew. Here’s a look at of some of the beers we tried and the delicious meals we consumed them with. Continue reading