Bohol is one of the island provinces in the Philippines that I don’t mind visiting again and again. There are a lot of beautiful sights to see here for first-time visitors, including the famed Chocolate Hills, cute tarsiers and Loboc River. But if you’ve seen all that already, you’ll probably just want to take it slow and enjoy the laid-back beach life with loved ones.
The province of Bataan is best known for its historical and cultural attractions. The Battle of Bataan is famous for being one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces during World War II. The Bataan Death March, where the infamous march started, was also named after the province.
But aside from its historical sites, Bataan is a rising eco-tourism destination with beaches, mountains, turtle sanctuaries, bird-watching sites, springs and waterfalls. Bataan lies within two major peaks, Mount Natib and Mount Mariveles, which are ideal destinations for adventure-seekers. If you’re a mountain biker or hiker, you’ll want to check out the natural trails that Bataan has to offer. Continue reading
For riders, cyclists 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 (also known as Marikina-Infanta or Marcos Highway), the scenic twisting road traversing Marikina, Rizal, Laguna all the way to Infanta, Quezon.
During weekend rides, I’ve noticed a lot of new places to eat and a lot of other establishments being built along the route. Below is a growing list of old favorites and new places where you can grab a bite to eat and enjoy the view along Marilaque. Manila East Road (specially in towns overlooking Laguna de Bay) also has a lot of interesting dining places that makes it great for road trips.
Updated May 2017
A revolution is definitely brewing in the craft beer scene here in the Philippines. It seems that in the past few years, there’s been a boom in local microbreweries. According to the Philippine Craft Beer Community as of 2017, there are now 36 local breweries: 12 Craft Brewpubs and 24 Nano / Microbreweries with over 200+ Craft Beer Styles in the Philippines. (Whew. It’s getting hard to keep track of all these beers and keep this post updated!)
While guzzling down 99 bottles of beer for a self-imposed sidequest, I was glad to come across some great craft beers which are brewed right here in the country. If you’re a craft beer enthusiast or you want to try something new, here are some homegrown microbreweries and beers that you should look out for when you travel around the Philippines.
Zamboanga City is one of the best and most underrated places in the Philippines for food-tripping. The cuisine here is just as festive, colorful and diverse as the culture of the region. Because of their location near the Sulu Sea, you get a variety of fresh seafood. With Zamboanga’s rich history as a former Spanish settlement, Hispanic flavors and food preparation have been infused into dishes. The presence of ethnic tribes from the Sulu archipelago and the Malay peninsula, known for their use of exotic spices, have also added a unique flair to the cuisine that you don’t get anywhere else in the country.
From traditional Filipino and seafood dishes, regional specialties with “a touch of Spanish, American and Asian influences,” to ethnic delicacies, visitors to Zamboanga City are really in for a culinary treat. Here’s my pick of what and where to eat in Zamboanga City from various visits to “Asia’s Latin City” over the years.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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