The Negros Adventure

March 1, 2017 — 1 Comment

2 days of laag-laag felt like 5 days. Like thousand kilometers.

1st: getting to the south part of Negros Oriental from Cebu City. 176km.


Getting at about 12am from Cebu south bus terminal will get you to Lilo-an Port of Santander about 4am. (Bus fare, p200) The Ceres bus will stop at the port and you should be able to get tickets for the ferry right away (Ferry fare, p62). It takes only 15 mins and you will arrive at Sibulan port of Negros. From there just walk outside the port to the highway where the Birdees bakeshop is, no need to cross the road. As buses going to Bais city (the nearest starting point for Manjuyod sandbar) pass by the port side (bus fare, p48).  The bus stop at Bais city is across Jollibee. Your guide should be waiting for you there. Our contact for the boat is Hadji, +63 999 522 6152. He can fetch you at that bus stop. His trike takes 8-10 people. He can take you to breakfast, & market just beside the Jollibee to buy lunch. His contact boats to the sandbar are docked at Canibol port. Most blog post I’ve read about Manjuyod starts at Capiñahan wharf. This Canibol must be an alternative. I’m not sure, the guide says it is now at Canibol. Anyways, the best time to really see the sandbar must be earlier than 7am or 6am. As when we arrived at about 7am, it was already knee high water. Hadji also waited for us back at Canibol port and took us to a house where we washed off for p20. 

The next leg of our trip is Bais city to Bacolod city (Oriental to Occidental) 169km. (Bus fare P298)


After we washed off and changed, the guide (Hadji) took us back to the bus stop, and we waited for an ac-ceres bus going to Bacolod city via Kabankalan. We arrived shortly after 4pm at south bus terminal and we actually just told the driver to take us to the nearest inn/hostel/pension house near lacson street. He took us to Pleasant Travellers at 13th aguinaldo street. It was good enough for us who only stayed for a night and good rate as well. Clean room and sheets. It was just a walking distance to the main Lacson street. The next morning we packed up and checked out at 7am.

We did the usual Bacolod tour, but I suggest to do it it with a private transport is much better than DIY. The rate for an adventure is p1,500 for 25 hours + fuel p700. That’s good enough for 8 to 10 people to split. 1st stop was Silay City and the ancestral houses/museums. They have guides that makes the tour interesting as they tell stories about rich families and their cultures. 2nd stop was Campuestohan resort, it was at Talisay and we passed by the express airport road. Vast lands of sugarcane and growing subdivisions and housings are sprouting in that area. And the looming presence of mountains and their silhouette is what stays with me in that whole ride. 


When we arrived at Campuestohan at around 10am, it was scorching hot. It was humid as well. That is why the pools look so inviting for anyone visiting that park. There are a lot of activities one can do like zip-biking or zip lining, and others. There is also an obstacle course which looks so challenging and fun.

Our 3rd stop was at Mambukal resort. I will never forget the hot more-than-lukewarm spring. It was p50 for entrance at the main gate. Inside there are 2 pools for kids and 1 for adults. And 2 hot springs. Restaurants are next to each other. There are cottages as well. It is P50 fee for taking a dip on that hot spring. Beleieve me it was hot but it was also good. I certainly recommend more cold flowing water at the side to make the heat bearable. After about 5 minutes in that hot water, was all that we can take. But it was good experience. One of the most memorable indeed in that Negros trip. 

Our last stop is The Ruins. We wanted to see it by sunset. Before going there, we went to have coffee at this little place called Butchok’s. They serve iced coffee and this dish called nacho fries (which was gone in 60 seconds). The Ruins was full of tourists, and there was a wedding, so you can imagine the crowd. Nevertheless it was quite spectacular, it has an eerie sense of both abandonment and mystery. 


Before we head off to the bus terminal we had lunch at a pala-pala place, called the 18th street Palapala seafood restaurant which turned out to be just very near the place we stayed at 13th aguinaldo street. There are other palapala place like near the local market. We also visited Pendy’s and bought some Negros “Napoliones”, which turns out to be a best-seller as not of all us is able to buy.

And finally to end the trip, we made the 218km ceres bus trip via escalante city from bacolod north bus terminal to cebu north bus terminal.  It was already about 9pm when we arrived at that huge, modern and clean Ceres bus terminal. Nothing compared to what Cebu has. Cebu is a little behind when it comes to local transportation! Tsk! Cebu Local Government?!!!!!!!!

The trip was about 7 hours, which we just slept off. (P420 bus fare and roro/barge fare of p130)  And we arrived at cebu at 5am, when there was still no sun and it was quite good to arrive so early. Overall distance of all that ceres bus rides = 563km. That’s it. 500+ miles of 53 hours something of butt-numbing ride, all new places we’ve never been to. Sea water and volcanic water dip! Good times with good company. A group of people that never complains and outdone each other. We silently agreed to have fun and go with the flow and enjoy the ride! 

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El Nido 4D3N

January 26, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

  1. Cebu Pacific Air – thank you for promo fare, but then, we learned that you cancel and force re-bookings a lot. So instead of flying direct we have to go by connecting flights, therefore getting ready;  neck pillows, light baggages, scarves, power banks are all a must. Our travel took up the whole first day (left home at 4am and arrived in El Nido by 8pm), and the whole day of the 4th/last day (left El Nido at 5am and arrived in Cebu by 8pm). That’s 16-18 hours of home to destination. Good thing we were prepared.
  2. As getting to El Nido as soon as landing at Puerto Princesa airport is top priority, arranging the transport ahead is a must and we highly recommend Faith of Viaje Pilipinas. She can arrange as well the island tours and everything else that a visitor needs to enjoy El Nido. She is friendly, approachable and very kind.
  3.  Agoda – read the reviews. We learned that when they say a bit far from the centre, it gets really far on situations wherein you left something and must go back to get it and you can’t seem to really get a ride on local motorcycles. January seems to be a peak season so the ones we liked to book with were already full, so we booked at Antonio Village which is in Sitio Caalan. If you’re walking by the shore of Bacuit Bay, just keep walking past the SAVA and Coco Bar, and keep walking until you think the sand ends and you will see Bacuit Grill (which we highly recommend) and if you look ahead, it looks like a dead end, but no, there is actually a bend and the narrow road turns right and you can see another resort. There are more resorts further down the road. It’s quiet back there, away from the hustles of the town and the walk provides exercise. The thing is right by the corner after this french resort with tables and candle light set up restaurant by the beach, there is a cemetery. So for 3 days, we were walking by that lovely resting place of the dead. It is not really that creepy. I didn’t even notice it when we walked back from our first dinner in town.
  4. Food – an hour wait for that grilled fish to be served, or that sweet chili crab, is average. El Nido was bursting with tourists. We’ve tried the crowded restaurants by the aplaya/shore. We’ve roamed and tried breakfast at places we cannot remember the names but the best one we’ve tried is the one near where we stayed, the Bacuit Grill. We passed by it everyday and it would have been good to know that we need not go into town. But I guess what we’ve learned there is giving any place a try, because you’ll never really know.
  5. Kayaking – in Big Lagoon is awesom, But it would have been better to have done so in small lagoon and snorkle instead in the big one. The entrance to big lagoon has shallow spots at the sides which is perfect for snorkeling. But paddling in that big lagoon is really a work, we did not have the energy anymore to swim by the many boats blocking the entrance of small lagoon by the time we arrived there. So ask your boatman & tour guide, they’ll know how best to enjoy the islands and stops.
  6. Nacpan – going early is really heaven. Paradise. There is no other word. When the place is so quiet, that hour or two when you feel like you have the place on your own. 8 to 9am arrival there is the best time. I am afraid now to go at any beaches after seeing the beauty of that place because any beach I see will not be as beautiful, and any beach I’ll see now will surely just remind me of the very fine, smooth, and white sand of Nacpan. It’s perfect for swimming, the waves will not batter you at all, what they do is bring out the kid in you. You can play with those gentle waves. It’s the openness of the the whole scenery, the wide blue sky, the wide beach, like you can run and run on it, and the hills near. It is such an unforgettable sight. Nothing compares to Nacpan.
  7. This is now really long. Just one more thing to share. Take the Canopy Walk. Just ask around where it is. It’s right by the town. It’s 400 per person. You will be provided with a guide, harness and helmets and the hike up has stairs of steel and metal bars fashioned to make the climb safe and you will be rewarded with a view of Bacuit bay and all the surrounding limestones of El Nido.

#fortheloveofpasta

November 5, 2016 — Leave a comment

There’s nothing like…

Nothing beats…

It’s like heaven when…

Aah, should I just say, pasta is the ultimate comfort good food.

Easy to prepare. No hassle. Tasty.

The one-pot pasta.

 
1. Just put everything in – pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, some basil (I used green and dried), salt & pepper, or add some chili, and olive oil. And then water (some uses broth).

2. Let boil to cook. Stir every now and then.
Now sit down. Watch your favorite tv series and enjoy. Gracias. God Bless.

 

Tazza Cafe and Patisserie is right beside Tsai Hotel, Wilson Street Camp Lapu-lapu Cebu City ( across Fujinoya, beside Burrow; Manggahan and Pino are also nearby).

 

Maranaos are known as the graceful “people of the lake” (Ranao which is now known as Lanao), a predominantly-Muslim region of the Philippine island of Mindanao.  Now, Maranaos are spread over the country and has become part of the mainstream Filipino community. They have a very distinct culture. Their food may look like Indian or Malay, with coconut milk and turmeric as common ingredients.  One of the most common is the paparan or papiaran na manok. This is chicken coated in Palapa, cooked with coconut milk.

  1. The Palapa.

The smell of this native scallion for me is like an upturned earth in a garden. It’s so refreshing. Together with ginger and native chili (sili), these are crushed finely, mixed and blended all together using mortar and pestle. Palapa is mainly an appetizer. It’s perfect with fried fish or any meat.

  
2. The Desiccated Coconut Meat.

One coconut will do. The quarter of the desiccated meat is seat aside for the “papar” and the rest will be soaked in drinking water and later squeezed out for its milk (gata) in 2 parts. This coconut milk will be used later to cook the chicken.

  
 All the ingredients… 
3. The Chicken.

Prepare the chicken by coating it in palapa and turmeric (just a little for it to color). Mine turned iut orangely because I put a little too much of that powder stuff. Sautè onion and garlic in oil, add the chicken, let cook for a while, add the 2nd set of coconut milk squeezed out from the desiccated meat, let cook, and add the 1st set of coconut milk after, for a creamier soup. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat. Remove the cooked chicken and set-aside.

 

4. The Papar.

This is the quarter of the dessicated coconut meat. Mix Palapa, chopped onions and bell pepper with it.

  

Pour about 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, cook the mixture for a while and then add the chicken, add about 3 tablespoons of the soup, just for it to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

And here it is the Paparan Manok. A little chili, creamy and all that flavor.

 

 

Easy to prepare Filipino dish. Do it for the love. ❤️ 

  
1. Fry the fish.

2. Prepare the sauce. This includes garlic, onion, tomatoes, ginger, bell pepper, tomato paste, brown sugar and cornstarch.

  
3. Sautè garlic, onion, tomato, garlic, bell pepper, add water. Let boil. Add the paste, sugar and the diluted cornstarch to thicken the sauce. 

Let’s eat!   

Contrary to some blogposts and forum threads say regarding the “supposedly” efficient Land Transportation Office in Cebu City, the office in Talisay is not at all different from all the other wasteful and stupid ways of Filipino public service. 

The fact the one has to be on a queue at dawn like at 4AM, the fact that arriving at noon or early afternoon, a Filipino hopeful naive applicant will get home accomplishing nothing, the fact that this has been happening for centuries, it obviously needed massive change, starting from the very top. #DU30 

Now back to this post. How to get a student permit. It’s a card now, valid for a year and cost Php 318.00 Is one expected to learn to drive for a whole year? Maybe.  The requirements are a medical, NSO original copy and a photocopy. At Talisay LTO, there is a clinic on the second floor that gives a “medical” what-nonsense for Php 100.00. Simple, you just fill out a form, they call your name to pay, and wait for turn for an interview with a “doctor” who not even ask you to read an eye chart near his table, as how most of things like this goes. So even before you queue up on the LTO itself you have to go early and queue for this medical thing, where you throw out a hundred bucks for a piece of paper saying you are not a handicapped. I wonder how they rate those that are physically challenged but would need to drive? 

The wait. The wait is all for 5 hours. The most. So back from the medical, if you went really early and you’re like first on the queue you can finish up in 30 minutes, and by the time you go down for the real thing, you are already behind 20 or 50 people. You wait, they start checking each forms and NSO at 8AM. You get inside by 8:30 maybe. And those people behind the glass, they rreeeaaallly take their time. About 15-20 mins each number. You wait for your number to get called. You show them your forms, they approve, and you wait again for another 30mins to an hour for your photo and signature to be taken. And you wait for your name to be called to pay, by this time you been inside for about more than 3 hours. Aching, dying to get out of there. And finally after more than 4 hours, they call your name for the card. 

  

 

 

The thing to remember is just be alert and observe how things flow. Keep track of who gets called and how often to they get to be called again. So you’ll know what to expect. And spend the time contemplating about how it can be a better service for each and every Filipino. I thought of two:  sense of urgency and respect of time. Wishing when might be futile, or #DU30 era is coming. Because I’ve seen other public offices, and they don’t get things moving like this, and really makes you wonder how many names and papers get passed and FIXED under their desks.