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.
Mention Pagadian and one thing comes to mind: the iconic inclined tricycle. Tricycles, three-wheeled public form of transportation, can be found all around the Philippines, but the ones here are pretty unique. Designed to adapt to the city’s hilly terrain, Pagadian’s tricycle is inclined at about 25-40° angle. Sure, it’s a unique photo op, but apart from riding the tricycle, little else comes to mind when you mention Pagadian. What else can you do there?
For travelers, backpackers and province-based tourists, Manila is often just thought of as a stopover between flights on the way to another destination. The big city can be overwhelming with the heavy traffic and crowded streets. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to do except eat out, go shopping in the malls, visit museums or churches. There’s also the gritty and chaotic areas of Quiapo and Divisoria, which have become synonymous with Manila.
I often take the tourist sights in Manila for granted because this is where I live and work. But if I were a first-time tourist in the Philippines, or if I had to take around foreign tourists, balikbayans, expats or province-based friends, what would I do and where would I go? Here are some suggestions of unique and fun activities you can do while in Manila. Continue reading →
Growing up in the province, my childhood friends and I used to enjoy camping sleepovers. On hot summer nights, we’d haul out banigs, folding beds and foam mattresses on the grass and “camp out” in our garden under a makeshift tent sewn together from my old protest streamers. We’d spend the night playing card games and board games like Monopoly, Cluedo and Pictionary and roast marshmallows and hotdogs in a mini-bonfire. Back then, we really felt like we were roughing it out. But there was always the security of parents just inside the house (providing us with real food), a decent bathroom and the option to move indoors if it rained.
When it comes to weekend destinations, Laguna is one of the most accessible provinces near Metro Manila. Most people driving cars usually approach the province from SLEX on the way to urbanized cities like Santa Rosa, Los Banos and Calamba. But from the Manila East Road, you can avoid traffic and traverse easily through the more laid-back towns on the Eastern side of the province.
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.
Nowadays, I’m realizing that having an action camera is a must for a lot of the activities I like to do. For the past years, I’ve been hauling a heavy-ass SLR during mountain biking, motorcycling and island-hopping trips. Ninety percent of the time, I end up just using my Smartphone, because it’s just such a hassle to take out the big camera from a bag when both your hands are occupied driving or if you’re in a water-based environment. I was really hoping to experiment more with video features for the blog this year. As luck would have it, Supremo Philippines sent me their latest action camera to test out.
Laiya in San Juan, Batangas is probably one of the most popular weekend beach destinations near the metro. I’ve been here several times before usually for day trips with friends and family. It may not have the best beach and coastline, but it’s a pretty memorable place for me since this is where Art and I got married. We actually had a Survivor / Amazing Race-themed beach wedding in Palm Beach Resorts.
After days of rain and gloomy weather that hampered our activities in the mainland, the sky finally cleared on the last day of our trip. Just in time too, since our destination for the day was the beautiful island of Palaui, just off the coast of Sta. Ana in Cagayan.
The first time I set foot in Palaui was back in 2011. I remember the roller-coaster like waves that propelled our boats towards the island where the ruins of an abandoned lighthouse sat atop a hill. There were a few rumors from locals that the hit reality show Survivor was going to be filmed there. Fast forward six years later, when I found myself one again with the tempestuous waves heading towards the island. Continue reading →