Batangas

[Golden Sunset 2] The Golden Sunset Experience


I was actually skeptical when I first visited golden sunset because of the cheesy marketing gimmicks and later on, I found out that the resort does not have an actual beach front. But still we decided to stay for 3 days/ 2 nights during the holy week to rest and re-charge since this is “allegedly” the best resort (so far) in Calatagan. After our stay, I should say that we really had fun specially because the place caters to families with lots of things to do for the kids. Despite the hot weather, there is a gush of winds passing through the resort which makes the summer heat bearable and it is not that humid. Golden Sunset officially opened to the public just this January 2006 and there was a soft opening during the Ms. Earth pageant last October 2004. Ricky Reyes (commonly called Mader in the resort) proudly designed the entire place and I’m glad to see him during the Holy Week in his resort. The resort is very busy and it would be difficult to get a reservations during the summer weekends in this resort. I’ll give you a virtual tour anyway of the resort which is similar to an Island Cove setup but in a much cooler ambiance at night plus a great view of Calatagan’s famous golden sunset.

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Family

Got Milk? 1st Life Insurance Photo Contest Winner :)


I was pleasantly surprised to see that my winning photo entry in First Life Photo Contest, Aidan’s Got Milk photo, was used as the front cover of the First Life Policy Holder Newsletter. I just thought that I share this with my blog readers who are also a First Life policy holder. Mommy was proud, of course, and this encourages me to join more photo contest in the future 🙂 and maybe, turn pro someday.
Anton

Batangas

[Golden Sunset 1] Allegedly the Best Resort in Batangas :)


Golden Sunset is one of the hottest resorts in Batangas now! Thanks to Mader Ricky Reyes (people in the resort calls him Mader) for opening their suppose-to-be family vacation resort to the public. The resort is located in the heart of Calatagan, Batangas — 3 hours away from Manila via Tagaytay which is the half way point. I say that it’s hot because it just fully opened this January (soft opening last Oct during Ms. Earth Pageant) and all the weekends were fully booked and overflowing with tents on its open grounds! If you call the reservation office, nobody would answer you because a lot of people are inquiring about this place and they cannot handle the volume anymore. I actually had to drop by as a walk-in and risk that I will be rejected but fortunately I was able to get a standard room for 3 days and 2 nights. I’ll be creating a trilogy series on Golden Sunset to give you the overall experience, what to do and what to expect of the Golden Sunset Resort.

I also got a lot of frequently asked questions in my blog about Golden Sunset because there was really lack of honest-to-goodness article about this place. This is a well-marketed place so expect only the good reviews in the internet and good photos at their official website. Although, for the first time, I hope to provide you with what a Golden Sunset Resort experience is all about. In this first post, I’ll tackle the frequently asked questions about Golden Sunset.

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Food

What is the Best Buko Pie in the Philippines?

Every time I visit the Laguna area, I’ve always wondered which buko pie is the best among the San Pablo-based Collette’s and El Mare vs. the Los Banos-based The Original Buko Pie and Lety’s Buko Pie. All of these four brands are raved about by people and each one has its story to tell. Once and for all, I will settle the question for myself on “What is the Best Buko Pie in the Philippines?” (Laguna has the best buko pie in the Philippines). One of the best way to answer the question is to do a relative taste test at the same time. So my friend Lui and I decided to buy all the best buko pie in their main branch in San Pablo and in Los Banos, and decide for ourselves based on four criteria:

Buko Taste — 4pts
Yumminess — 2pts
Delicious Crust — 2pts
Overall Presentation — 2pts
Total: 10 pts scale.

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Viaje del Sol

Sitio de Amor Conversations [Viaje del Sol]


I had one of the most interesting and stimulating conversations with strangers lately which makes me love Philippines a lot lot more. Meet George and Amor Bondad, owners of Sitio de Amor in San Pablo, Laguna which is part of the Viaje del Sol group. My friend Luisa and I after visiting Tahanan ni aling Meding decided to check out Sitio de Amor because we are hearing some good stuff about it and they say it was featured in a Dec issue of cosmo magazine. This 4.7 hectares farm place is a budding private resort (turning into a public one) which is a hobby of the Bondad couple for 12 years now. I always like to see these places when they are young and you can see them transform into that beautiful resort. What I like about this place is its simplicity and honesty. Of course this is far from The Farm @ San Benito’s landscaping and concept, but this is a better than your typical Pansol Laguna resorts. Best time to go is during the Rambutan Festival in August or in time for the cool weather in Dec/Jan/Feb.

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#Restaurants

Are you a Vieux Chalet virgin?


Are you a Vieux Chalet virgin? If yes, then you are missing on one of the finest swiss cuisine in the Philippines for 21+ years now. Yes, I was a Vieux Chalet virgin too along with my friends Lui and Maong. I was ashamed that I was only able to try this out last Saturday and I cannot call myself a certified food adventurer if I was not able to try this out. If you are looking for that quaint out-of-the-way restaurant that serves excellent food made from the freshest natural ingredients and mostly home-made from its pasta, bread, cheese, etc., Vieux Chalet is the place to be! As an added bonus, you get a magnificent view of city lights during dinner time and excellent excellent service from Rico!! Vieux Chalet is Antipolo’s pride and best kept secret established by Tony Hassig for 21+ years now (since 1984) and it sits on top of the hill in the middle of a subdivision. It has been a witness to countless valentines date, anniversary dinners, and surprise dates for love ones that is truly memorable. Servings are generous perfect for sharing and family-style dining. The trip to this place is not that easy but it’s definitely worth it 🙂

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Viaje del Sol

[Viaje del Sol] Welcome to Tahanan ni Aling Meding


This is the scene that would greet you as you arrive in this mansion in San Pablo Laguna directly in front of the Sampalok Lake. I was curious to check out this mansion cum hotel and restaurant which was described by the viaje del sol brochure as: ” Tahanan ni Aling Meding is a tribute to the Borja sibling’s parents, especially their mother, Meding, who kept hearth and warm, soothing and comfortable.” One of my readers was also raving about the good filipino dishes they serve and that was enough for me to check this place out.

Just a side note: San Pablo, Laguna is a great alternative to tagaytay because it is merely 2 hours away. Imagine I already left manila at 10am and I was leisurely driving to this place and we still arrive at 12nn considering the traffic already in south super highway and in Batangas. Also, I tried to highlight the beauty of this mansion versus the scarry photos found in their brochure.

The verdict: Tahanan ni Aling Meding is San Pablo’s version of Tagaytay’s Josephine’s or Leslie’s. If you have a guest where you want them to taste authentic Filipino food at a homey Filipino Mansion ambiance, then this is the place to be. I love eating in their main dining area where you are served with good food with a hospitable service Filipinos are known for, while the Sampaloc Lake winds kissed your face through out your dining experience. Thanks to the Borja family for letting us enjoy their vacation mansion!!

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#Travel, Food

[Los Angeles vs. Manila #3] Porto’s Cheese Roll


I still can remember a couple of years ago when eating a carbo-loaded krispy kreme donut is a cool thing when you visit the US. Now, that’s a thing of the past, and Porto’s bakery is a better alternative. Its famous cheese roll is a must try along with the other cakes and other pastry delicacies. The cheese roll taste like Otap baked to perfection with cheese inside it, similar in texture to a croissant. It’s super addicting and I easily ate 5 pieces in one sitting. Porto’s Bakery is a cuban family-owned and operated business that has served Glendale and its surrounding areas for over 35 years and they recently opened a beautiful new store in Burbank.

One could argue that Becky’s or Conti’s taste a lot better, but the I’ve never tasted a cheeseroll as delicious as porto’s. If you can manage to bring one home as a pasalubong, it is highly recommended.

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#Travel, Food

[Los Angeles vs. Manila #2] Hollywood’s famous Pink’s Hot Dog


This is one of the famous must-eat destination in LA, and I was extremely curious why a chili dog can be this famous for 66 years! Paul Pink started this hotdog stand in 1939 and it stood on the same spot, giving the same quality of hot dog for years. I’m glad that Atty. Joseph Joson who was kind enough to accompany me to eat in this so-called hot dog to the stars. The hot dog heritage is a great marketing sell and they have photos to prove it (amazing)! I’m not really fond of hotdogs and I’m eating a vegetable rich diet lately, but this one is a must try (not to mention my weakness is chili). In the Philippines, we don’t really have something equivalent to this and Ogie Doggie would be the closest but far from the heritage that Pink’s hotdog built over the years.

The verdict: The chili is phenomenal, polish dogs are the best! Read on…

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#Travel, Food

[Los Angeles vs. Manila #1] Inn of the Seventh Ray! Creekside Dining

This is the ONLY restaurant I love while I was on vacation and I visited Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, and Chicago. The Inn of the Seventh Ray is L.A.’s most romantic restaurant and in fact, when we were eating on a Saturday Lunch, there was an engagement proposal with the beautiful setting — 12 red roses bouquet, a carpet of petals and dining beside Mother’s flow ( in other words, creekside :). I felt that most of the US restaurants are either man-made, full of dead food (steaks, white bread, etc.), pretentious service and too commercialized. This creekside dining experience is a dining made in heaven indeed and this is a must-eat destination for all of you who will have a chance to visit L.A.

(Note to Jay of Kinabuhayan Cafe: Jay, Kubli Springs can be a lot nicer than the Inn of the Seventh Ray. You just need to have excellent food and an overall concept. Check out the photos… )

Let me pause for a bit here before we go to the rest of the review, it just occurred to me how lucky the Philippines is with the kind of world-class nature inspired restaurants that we have and I can already count seven easily…
1. Antonio’s Restaurant, Tagaytay
2. Sonya’s Secret Garden, Tagaytay
3. Nina’s Kusina Salud, San Pablo, Laguna
4. Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden, Tiaong, Quezon
5. 85/15 Restaurant, The Farm @ San Benito, Lipa, Batangas
6. La Cocina de Tita Monings, Manila
7. The Prana Restaurant, Mandala Spa, Boracay

I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES! I missed it during my vacation and I’m glad to be back. I’m creating this series of [Los Angeles vs. Manila] to challenge your own mental models that the Philippines is the best place to be in. I felt like Neo in the matrix scene where he suddenly realized that all of the reality he is seeing is computer generated, and I suddenly felt that visiting the US, everything is man-made. Enjoy this series…

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