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?
As soon as we reached the dirt road, I knew I was in trouble. I was on my way to Lake Holon in South Cotabato driving a rented motorcycle along with fellow travel blogger Louie of A Nomad’s Perspectives. While the view was nothing short of spectacular, the terrain seemed to be a few levels above my motorcycling skills. Apparently, my concept of rough roads in Manila is very different from rough roads in Mindanao.
There’s something I really like about lakes. Though they’re not as popular as beaches and waterfalls, lakes often have this quiet understated charm about them. The Philippines is home to many natural lakes which are closely related to volcanic and tectonic activity as well as artificial lakes or reservoirs that have resulted from the damming of rivers for hydroelectric activity. Aside from their recreational and aesthetic qualities, many lakes are important habitats for marine life and food sources. Other lakes play a part in water-supply, hydro-electric power or flood control. As the saying goes, “still waters run deep.”
Though some lakes are not really suitable for swimming, these serene bodies of water are ideal for for low-impact activities like fishing, boating, rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Here are just a few of the scenic lakes and reservoirs in the Philippines that I’ve personally visited (arranged by distance/accessibility from Manila). Continue reading →
After covering the Golden Anniversary and T’nalak Festival in Koronadal City, I extended my trip to explore more of the region and opted to stay in Microtel by Wyndham – General Santos City. Located on the shores of Sarangani Bay, this independent city is geographically part of South Cotabato in Mindanao and is the gateway to other provinces including Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and (North) Cotabato.
Cagayan de Oro is best known for Whitewater Rafting and kayaking adventures. This first class and capital city in the province of Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao has been dubbed the “River Rafting Capital of the Philippines.” However, this adventure activity is best experienced if you’re staying a few days in the city. I tried this years ago during pre-blogging days when waterproof digital cameras were not yet that popular. For first-time visitors, this would be the major highlight of your visit to Cagayan de Oro.
Camiguin is an island province in the Philippines commonly associated with two things. First, it’s known as having the sweetest lanzones in the country. Second, it’s home to a sunken cemetery, driven underwater when Mt. Vulcan Daan erupted in the 1870s. A large cross in the sea memorializes the departed buried there and serves as the province’s most iconic landmark. According to locals, tombstones encrusted by corals beneath the cross can still be seen by snorkelers and scuba divers, which sounds both eerie and fascinating at the same time.
There’s always this strange mix of uncertainty and purpose whenever I ride. I may be at the mercy of the elements and of the terrain, but I am still in control of my fate. I come to a fork in the road and it’s always my decision where to go. If a path scares me, I can either turn back or go forward. There are no boundaries except my own limitations.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.”
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.