This is the beginning of a 10 part blog series of our culinary adventure in Quezon. Carlos Celdran started to rave about Lady Laguna Ms. Tina Decal last July which I guess when he joined the inaugural culinary tour of Quezon supported by the Department of Tourism. The looks could be deceiving when you first meet ms. Tina Decal, and we have to take a leap of faith by gathering friends who share the same interest. At the start, it was very difficult to come up with a group of 8 for a tour price of P1,200/person (bring your own transpo). Specially, if nobody have been on the tour yet, not alot of people raved about it, and you need to find a group that has photography and eating as an interest.
I love travelling in the Philippines! We had the time of our life last Sunday from exploring secret pottery gardens in Tiaong to the Kamay ni Jesus healing church in Lucban. There’s alot to rave about and there are some things that you need to be cautious also. Just to tease my blog readers, can you guess where are these places:
Keep tuned into the Quezon Culinary series to get detailed information about this culinary tour.
Finally, together with some of our friends, we were able to complete a day trip to the Laguna area via going around the Laguna Lake! This is the first time I tried it last Black Saturday. We left Manila at around 8.30am, had a stop over @ petron in south super h-way to grab big chill and jamaican patties. Then we proceded to Calauan Laguna for to visit Field of Faith at around 11.30am. After an hour in FOF, we left Calauan at around 12.45pm enroute to Exotik restaurant for lunch @ around 2pm. After 2 and a half hours, we left the restaurant and dropped by the famous Paete Church. Most of the shops are closed because of Black Saturday in Paete but you can still see some wood carving shops in the middle of the town. After praying for 3 wishes, we head back to Manila via Rizal @ around 5pm. We arrived in Ortigas at around 7pm — woohoo! Still have plenty of time to have dinner @ Metro Walk.
Try it out! Exotik restaurant is located in Longos, Kalayaan Highway in Laguna. It is about 4 hours drive from Manila and you need to pass by Pagsanjan and Caliraya (yes, it is that far). From the field of faith, Exotik is about 1 hour away and some of our friends are hungry already when we left Exotik at around 12.45pm and we arrive about 2pm in Exotik. The food is Filipino and I like their Sinigang, Tuna sisig, grilled Tilapia, grilled squid. The food is great! (specially if you are hungry 🙂 One funny thing though, we did not order any of the exotic food this place is known for. Our billed turned out to be P3,500 for the a group of 9, so we had to pay P400 each — and I think that is expensive priced for tourists! Even the pasalubong place who sells espasol for P45 which could be bought easily at 3 for 100 with the same quality. The ambiance is really nice, it offers a few of the Laguna lake, and one of the attraction is Samantha (a pet anaconda shown below). Check it out if you happen to be in the Caliraya area. This is definitely a place for tourist to eat exotic food!
When our friends were looking a place to visit last black saturday, my friend Maong stumble upon this Inquirer Article (3/21/05): Field of Faith offers solitude, rosary garden. We were inspired by the story and we decided to visit the place. Upon arriving, you are greeted with a wonderful view of a fountain and the main chapel over a backdrop of coconut trees. The place feels fresh, peaceful, and it is like you are transported to a magical garden.
The best part of the garden is the rosary path where you could see inspiring quotes on the concrete road, find a comforting meditation spot, reflect on the joyful mysteries in resin and metal, meditate on the sorrowful mysteries depicted in wood carvings, or pray in the cement and glass cross on top of the hill. Also, you can pray the stations of the cross on the right side of the entrance with the stations wood carvings nailed to trees.
We were awed-inspired when we visited and I’m sure to come back to this place this time to meditate and pray (instead of taking pictures and acting like tourists). The place was designed to find God and find your inner strenght. To the Singson family, thank you for sharing this place with us.
For more information about the Field of Faith:
Field of Faith is 2-3hours(with traffic) drive from Manila. You should watch out for the pansol area and los banos junction traffic. There is no entrance fee but food and drinks are not allowed so that you can buy from them (one way to augment costs). The CR is clean according to the women and this is worth mentioning. There are alot of good restaurants within the area including Samaral and Kamayan sa Palaisdaan.
I’m in Cebu for a business trip and an account engagement in Metro G. What I love about my local business trips would be three things: Getting to know people, Great local food, and Badminton! I’m very happy that I was able to accomplish all there objectives aside from the business of course 🙂
1). Domeng aka Ricky Martin of CBD. I had a great time talking to the Domeng (the CBD Person assigned in Cebu) and I got to know him better. I’m always amazed at how colorful the lives of people. In fact, I just learned that Domeng married his long time girlfriend within a one month’s notice! (No she was not pregnant and that is the interesting part on why this happened). Second thing, I learned that he has three girls already spaced equally 4 years apart and his “bunso” (the youngest) was born on Jan. 18 — one day before Aidan was born, Imagine that? There has been alot of stories and I’m glad that I was able to get to know this person better. I was hoping to get to know another IT officemate, Tanya but unfortunately there was limited occasion to do so.
2). AA BBQ House the original— a must eat in Cebu for your sinugba cravings. At last, I finally was able to eat in the original AA BBQ house in Cebu. It erased my memory of the AA BBQ house in greenhills which serves cooked frozen fish and lousy sauces. I liked the sinugba fish and squid that we ordered together with their soy sauce in chili and sliced tomato. Don’t order the chicken. Our bill was 1,000 for the four of us and we ordered alot of fresh grilled food!
3). Metro Sports Badminton — home of Cebu’s badminton addicts. Playing badminton rejuvenates me but the downside is I’m awake for a couple of hours after playing (we ended 11pm). You have to pay 100 per person in the entrance which is consummable for either two (2) mineral water, or one (1) gatorade, or (2) potato chips. The courts are taraflex and 150 per hour. When we stopped playing at 11pm (when I took the shot above) there are still a few people playing. This is one of the badminton courts in cebu the opens as early as 5am in the morning and closes late until 12nn or even 2am according to Domeng.
Our friends are planning a trip to Donsol, Sorsogon in Bicol this summer via a road trip. I was fortunate to have a business trip in Naga and Legaspi this past 3 days that I was able to learn the way and took some pictures as a sneak preview of our upcoming vacation. Thanks to the CBD manager, JayR assigned in the Bicol area, for showing us the way around. Here is a preview of the trip to Bicol and some tips to make the road trip enjoyable:
1. Photogenic but shy Mt. Mayon.
If it is your first time to visit the bicol region, the view of Mt. Mayon will be breathtaking and awesome. If your intentions are pure according to the local folklore, you should be able to see mayon clearly (picture on the left taken at around 7am in the morning enroute to Legaspi). Otherwise, you’ll only be seeing Mayon wrapped around white clouds (picture on the right taken @ the Cagsawa Ruins at around 2pm). Learning, have your cameras ready and take the first opportunity to shoot Mt. Mayon when the clouds are clear.
BTW, its best to visit the Cagsawa ruins during the weekday when there is no tourist. You can also buy cheap handicrafts in the tiangge and don’t forget to buy mazapan pili.
2. The beautiful Naga.
Naga is an ideal place for stop over on road to Donsol, Sorsogon (3 hours from Naga). It took us 8 hours to arrive in Naga but on the way back to Manila it took us about 10 hours. In both instances, we left at around 6 am in the morning and you’ll arrive at around 4pm. Naga is the one of the big cities in Camarines Sur, and one of the places where the per capita income is similar to Manila. (Note: Bicol region is one of the poorest region in the country with the lowest per capita income similar to mindanao). There are a few places to explore here which includes:
a. Basilica Minore, Naga. Home to the miraculous image of the Patroness of Bicolandia, Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia. Thousands of pilgrims flock to this site during the September celebration of the Peñafrancia Fiesta just to visit and venerate the virgin.
b. Magsaysay Strip – This is where Malate meets Libis in Naga. One of my colleagues in college in DLSU, Junjee Abela, started the trendy restaurants that you can find in the now famous Magsaysay St. of Naga City. Five years ago, he started Chili Peppers with the vision of having a hip place for sales agents/ transients and the fallen eagles in Ateneo de Naga. After 3 years of successful operation, the other trendy restaurants opened including the asian food inspired, Coco Leaf, and the local coffee house, Bean Bag Coffee. BTW, when you eat in Chili Peppers, don’t forget to other their killer foods which includes: Baby Back Ribs, Bangus Tail, Squid, and the Sinigang Bicol styel with coconut.
Since Naga, is the center of religious observances, there are no hanky panky places in the city.
3. Enjoying the road trip to Bicol.
a. DVDs! Bring a car with TV/DVD installed and bring alot of DVDs of movies that you have not watched before. What I found effective was, watching the mushy Filipino movies of Judy Ann, Regine, Aga, Piolo, etc. and for sure, you won’t fall asleep. If you want your passengers to sleep, put in the music of Nora Jones and Josh Groban and guaranteed this would rock your passengers to sleep.
b. Fresh Food Galore. This is the time to enjoy the food of the southern provinces of Laguna, Quezon and Bicol region. Here are some potential places to eat:
–> Palay-Isdaan in Pagbilao, Quezon. Enjoy eating lunch in a hut amidst ostriches, birds, snakes, crocodiles. There are videoke terminals in some of the huts so that you can sing while eating. The Tilapia is very good and you can taste its sweet freshness.
–> Bulwagang Salakot, Ave-sol Shell, Gumaca, Quezon. My mom and dad recommended this place, and they vouch for the freshness of the food, clean restrooms and the best coffee in that region. When we ate there, we don’t like the inihaw na tilapia, and squid. JayR actually did not recommend this place because the place is old and the food is not anymore that great.
–> Lita’s Carinderia, Atimonan, Quezon. I have not eaten here but this one is located facing the ocean and boasts of fresh fish and squid. There are alot of people stopping over in this restaurant.
–> La Cucina Salud, San Pablo, Laguna. A garden restaurant near Villa Escudero. There are alot of signs pointing to this place but I did not have the opportunity to stop over. I’m sure the ambiance would be great.
–> Biggs Diner in Bicol. Eating breakfast here is a must. Not that the food is great, but at least you can say that you have eaten in one of the successful diners concept in the Philippines. Bicol is the only region where Jollibee is not the number one fast food chain because of the strong equity built by Biggs in this region and a wider assortment of food.
This is just a preview of our upcoming Bicol Caravan. I can’t wait to go back to the Bicol region with Rache, Aidan and our friends!
My friends had a fun time in zoobic and here are the exerpts of their adventure as narrated by Maong:
“As planned, Diwat and I manage to leave my place a little after 5am and was in Pampanga 45 minutes later. Though we missed the first part of the show, we managed to still catch the last few balloons lifting off. Entrance was P100 so a lot of people, including us, opted to watch from the parking lot. Though we did enter the grounds a few minutes after to join Joy and her family. A few hours later, after a BIG breakfast of salted eggs, tomatoes, spam, pampanga’s best, fried eggs, rice and tuna-i think (provided by Joy), we decided to leave the air field and explore north. After exhaustively searching Lonely Planet, we just decided to go zoobic.
Zoobic, is an experience by itself. For those of you who has visited the tiger safari in calatagan a few years before, you’ll be reacquainted with some of their resident tigers and then some. For P295 you will first ride an enclosed jeep inside an enclosed field where you will meet some of the adult tigers. To make them come near the vehicle, one of the guys will lure them with a live chicken. By this time, Diwat and I were screaming at the guy who was baiting the tiger–he was, in our opinion, very sadistic as he was torturing the chicken before the tiger ripped the poor bird in half. After that we went to the serpentatrium then the petting zoo. In the zoo, there was this very interesting bird called cassowary. What makes this bird interesting is that after the female bird lays the egg, she sets off to find another mate leaving the papa bird to take care of the egg.–hmm…..we might not be the most intelligent species after all!
The petting zoo was like avilon but better since some of the animals are free-roaming. After that, we were able to take a picture with an 8-month old tiger cub. And then, we set off to see the tigers that were caged. Apparently, there are 2 groups of tiger in the zoo, they are kept separate because they will kill each other. So after a month the caged tigers are set free at the enclosed field and those who were free are caged.
After the cages, we went to savannah where they keep the ostriches, pot bellied pigs, goats and sheeps. Basically, it is also an enclosed field where all the animals are free-roaming. After a day at the zoo, we were brain-dead. We got a bite to eat, recharged a little and started our way back home. hope you guys can join us the next time around.
>i posted some pictures from our trip at http://www.flickr.com/photos/anneong/.”
Our friends from magnifICA went on a Tagaytay excursion yesterday wanting to try out Sanctuario, Bag of Beans among others and here are their reviews: —————————————————————————————————————– Hi magnifICA,
Just want to share with you our experience in Tagaytay yesterday. Overall, the Sanctuario experience was ok. I ordered the Bulalo Pasta. The meat was tender but it was a litlle bland for my taste. The Bangus Carbonara and the Pasta Aligue were good! The raisin bread was also up to expectation. It was soft and the sweetness was just right. The ambiance was nice. We were seated at the Ground Floor beside the glass window where we had a great view of Taal. After lunch we passed by the Pink Sisters Shrine. Maong and I took some great shots there.
We then stopped by the newly rennovated Taal Vista Lodge. The Lounge was nice. It was a huge transformation from the old interior which was dark and rustic. Now it was bright and romy. It somehow resembled the lobby of Edsa Shangrila. We then went outside to the vista point and took some pictures.
Our last stop was Bag of Beans near the town proper. Personally that was the best part of the trip. From the road you can only see the small coffee shop. It's deceptively small but they have a garden below which has an assortment of flowers and plants. It resembles a little bit like Sonya's Garden but more cozy. They had little nooks in the garden for small groups, and a covered area for bigger groups. We had dessert and coffee. The apple pie ala mode was superb! Yumm! The coffee's good and CHEAP! It costs P55 and it's reffillable. It's a very conducive place to hang out and chatter up. We had a lot of laughs and near miss experiences.
It was a really great adventure! We're planning on repeating this every month. Kind of like a monthly out-of -town get together. There are plenty of unexplored dinning places out there. So I hope the others can come along next time.
'Til then… Di
———————————————————————————————————————- To add, parking at taal vista now cost P100 unless you have your ticket validated at the coffee shop. For those who have pets, you can bring them at Bag of Beans. We saw a number of patrons in the garden with their dogs. Maong.
AWESOME! I'm not sure until when we can keep Sanctuario a secret place in Tagaytay. They just moved in to an unassuming place beside the tagaytay ukay-ukay place near the tagaytay circle just a month ago. If you don't know the place you would not even venture to eat there. Since they just moved to a 50-person capacity place in the Tagaytay circle, some articles in the web would give directions in its original location beside the korean place along the tagaytay-Sta. Rosa road which is already closed now. Check this out –> Sanctuario, Tagaytay Photos
Here are 5 tips to truly enjoy a awesome dining in Sanctuario: 1. Call and reserve the best spots in the restaurants. Specially if you are a group of 10 or more, you definitely need to get the zen place! If you are a group of 5-10, you should reservce the ground floor spot with a view of tagaytay. If you are a group of 4 or less, the basement spot near the window should be cozy enough for
Good to try once . I first heard about this new restaurant in Tagaytay from the Nurture Spa staff and I immediately searched the web for information. I only came across one article in inquirer (Carlos Restaurant Article in Inquirer 03/17/04 ). We were excited to have a taste of good spanish food and excited to eat the suppose to be killer food Nudillo, cocido and the paella. We decided to eat a late lunch around 2pm and its no surprise that when we arrive there were no people in the restaurant. Also, the owner Carlos Callejo was went out so we missed our chance to interact with them. Carlos is a spanish theme restaurant in the middle of Las Brisas de Tagaytay villas-for-rent. You order a set meal about P500/person and it comes with bread and liver pate, mushroom soup, salad with strawberry vinegrette, the home made cheesecake by his wife, Malou. Here are some insights on what to expect from Carlos: