Food

Edgardo’s Sinangag Plaza (Con. Pequena, Naga City)

Hello everyone! So, I’m back again with my discoveries of what’s new and what’s good value for money in the land of sili and gata, Bicol. You’ll notice that I haven’t really gotten farther than Naga City lately since, as always, I’ve been tied to work. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I will get to explore more of Bicol so I will have more exciting stuff to share with you guys.

So, like two weeks ago, Rovi and I checked out this newly opened tapsilogan near our office. By the way, a tapsilogan is a Filipino term for eatery or resto wherein the menu is basically composed of Tapa (cured meat), Sinangag (fried rice) and fried Itlog (egg). If one does not prefer tapa, they also offer fried chicken, pritong bangus (fried milk fish), tocino, hotdogs, lumpiang Shanghai  (Shanghai rolls) and porkchop. Every order is always paired with fried rice and one fried egg. Even better, each order only costs P80!19840190_10209538802969967_1570245568_o

As with the ambience, it was very clean and newly renovated. We actually only wanted to have lunch when we went there but upon seeing the improvements of the place, we just had to take pictures. From the outside, it didn’t seem like much but once we entered, I silently thanked the heavens that there was finally a decent place to eat at near our work place. By the way, I said improvements because the said establishment was previously occupied by this restaurant called Global Kitchen which didn’t do too well and eventually closed down. The previous resto looked gloomy and sounded expensive while this new Edgardo’s Sinangag Plaza seemed more warm, welcoming and humble or what we call masa (for the majority of people) in these parts. The interiors though are pretty sassy compared to a usual tapsilogan.20107857_10209538803969992_1599876243_o20108090_10209538820210398_926941283_o(1)

As with the food, Rovi ordered Porksilog (fried porkchop) and was surprised she was given two pieces instead of just one. She said they tasted good. I remember she mentioned there were tough parts of the pork chops, I believe it was the pork rind. 20132969_10209538809010118_1289813539_o

My order was bangus (fried milk fish) but thing is, I didn’t know I had to say I wanted the head part. Turns out you either get the tail part or head part of the fish. I wasn’t asked. So, they served me this (below) – the end tail of a very big milkfish! I mean, it must have been a very big fish that there was only a smidgen of bangus belly left in the part they served me (the most delicious part). I wanted to send it back and ask for the head part instead but I got shy and thought that they’ve already fried the tail, so I had the tail. Being the opposite of assertive definitely has its drawbacks as you cannot believe how many sneaky fish bones I had to deal with. So, the next time I’m eating there I’m telling them my specs before they fry my food!20107321_10209538807690085_187295409_o

That was basically my experience. After a few days, my co-workers have ordered take-out food and so far, we were all impressed with the portions. For instance with Lumpiang Shanghai, there were a heaping ten pieces of rolls and the serving of the fried chicken was not to be underestimated as well. However, this is not for everyday eating or for those who have an aversion for fried food because in this eatery, everything they have on offer is fried.

Food

JAPAN-JAPAN (NAGA CITY)

This afternoon, Irene and Jael asked me to go out with them to eat at this joint called Japan-Japan at Balatas, Naga City. I said yes, as I was really tired and head was throbbing from all the work I had to do for the day. And I have learned to eat whenever I’m stressed out, either that or drink wine. The former I had to learn consciously to avoid further losing weight as I tend to lose my appetite whenever I’m burned out, while the latter was easy. Enough said.

Anyway, the place was very simple and unassuming. It’s one of those hidden gems you only know about if somebody actually tells you about it or if you live near the area. In my case, they let me in on it. And I’m glad they did. By the looks of the place being very basic and simple, it can be described as more of a joint than a resto. The food though is another story because the things we tried tasted great! And by food presentation, it was almost hard to believe that that kind of food was being served in that place. Uhm, that was meant to be a compliment. I meant like, “do not judge a book by its cover” because there’s more to it than meets the eye.DSC07879

What we ordered were Takoyaki (P45), Ramen (P100), California Maki (P130) and Yakisoba (P90). It’s a relief I still remember all the names and prices of the food as general anaesthesia messed up my short term memory.

So, the Takoyaki came out first as they already had a few cooking when we got there. Each order is 5 pieces but they got excited and ate one of each from our two orders before I was able to take a picture (lol!). It tasted delicious and creamy, the usual veggies are inside like cabbage and carrots, and the octopus was very soft. What made it a cut above the usual Takoyaki being sold in the malls was the sauce. I can’t stop raving about how good the sauce was because I usually find Takoyaki bland and I usually just eat one before I’m tired of it (umay factor), but with Japan-Japan’s sauce I can maybe eat all five.

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Takoyaki (P45)

Then, there was the California Maki (my favorite) which was like party in my mouth! All the ingredients like the rice, crab meat, mango, apple, mayo and the dipping sauce with wasabi all together made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I popped one in and knew that was what I came for. There were eight pieces of heavenly bites on that plate.

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California Maki (P130)

The Yakisoba was also good and they didn’t scrimp on the bonito flakes (those thin shaves of savory translucent stuff that looked like plastic). The noodles were well cooked and savory as well.

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Yakisoba (P90)

Finally, the Ramen, which did not taste like how I expected it. I thought it would taste like Korean Ramyeon but it didn’t. I love Ramyeon and my taste buds have gotten used to eating the instant Jjampong noodles (which tasted like Ramyeon from MannA Korean Resto). But I guess the Ramen, like every authentic dish, has a different character faithful to its origin or the region where it came from. I must say, it was worth a try and a great addition to our meal.

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Ramen (P100)

By the way, the place is not hard to find although not many people know about it. If coming from Centro of Naga, just ride a jeepney going to Magsaysay Avenue and ask the driver to pull over infront of West Park building or simply say Philhealth (located in that building). There is a line of pedicabs or padyak that you can ask to take you to Japan-Japan.

Over-all verdict:  Great value for money!

Food

Lipote Red Wine with Sea Salt (Naga City)

This weekend, we chanced upon this business month exhibit going on at SM Naga City, today is the last day actually and we were just lucky to catch it. There were a couple of nice stuff we did see. Some booths showcased a lot of local products like furniture, delicacies, candied local fruits and wine. They were selling unique items from nipa vinegar to skin peeling products promising to make one’s skin fair and young looking.wine 1

Actually, as I am writing this, I feel a little tipsy as I have just again sampled the Lipote Red Wine that I am blogging about. That is why I think it took me a really long time than necessary to write my first paragraph. By the way, this Lipote Wine that I am featuring was made by Yulaik Wine Products located along Universal Road in Triangulo, Naga City.lipote wine 2

I have sampled three of their wines – the Lipote Red Wine, Lipote Red Wine with Sea Salt and Guyabano White Wine. Among the three, my least favourite was the Guyabano wine. I found it has a bit of an unpleasant after taste which resembled bitter medicine or unripe fruit. The Lipote Red Wine, however, was pleasantly tangy and sweet. It reminded me of the baligang fruit which I know so well, being a fruit of my childhood. Now, when I tasted Lipote Red Wine with Sea Salt, I thought it tasted the best among the three. The salt really did make a difference, as subtle as can be, but still a noteworthy difference.lipote wine 3

Now for those of you who are not Filipino, Lipote is a fruit that is found only in the Philippines and locally known in Bicol as baligang. It looks like blueberries but with a deeper color and a lot more tangy in taste. One bite of the fruit and the blood like juices just burst. The popular way to eat this is by first vigorously shaking the fruits inside a container along with salt and sugar. You allow the fruits to soak in its own natural juices, which resembles blood more than red wine really. Then you eat the delectable flesh which is sweet, salty and tangy all at the same time. And if you’re like me who likes these kinds of stuff, you will take a swig of the juice as well. Now this juice is so potent that it always did cause me to have red blotches all over my neck and face and I would always feel a little tipsy like I just drank liquor. And that was not even fermented yet, so you can imagine how potent the wine can be (or maybe I just get drunk easily lol).

Lipote fruits
photo credits: fruitipedia.com

I am no wine connoisseur, but drinking red wine is one of the few pleasures that I allow myself to have. There are just times when the thought of the red wine chilling in the fridge is the very thing that gets me through all those stressful Mondays. Just half a glass each time (I’m not yet an alcoholic, people).  My opinion on wine may be biased as well since I really prefer red, sweet red to be exact. My all-time favourite is Carlo Rossi Sweet Red wine, it’s just so subtle and the effect on me is a good night’s sleep each time. I buy Doña Elena sweet red wine as well. I find that it has a stronger alcohol content, less sweet, but it’s cheaper and comes in a bigger bottle.wine 2

Yulaik products also include dried fruits, jams and condiments all packaged very nicely. They will make good gifts during special occasions like weddings and anniversaries or will be great souvenirs for those who are looking to get an authentic taste of what Bicol has to offer.

Places

Daraga Church (Daraga, Albay)

Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, really more known simply as Daraga Church, is a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Daraga, Albay, Philippines. The church was built by the Franciscans in 1772 under the patronage of the Our Lady of the Gate.

For the locals, Daraga Church is the go-to place of worship every Sunday wherein the breathtaking overlooking view of Mayon Vulcano has become but a normal sight. In fact, it only ever draws the usual ohhhs and ahhhs of amazement from visitors, being that it has always been there and the locals have gotten used to it by now, like an ever present, father figure watching over his brood.

However, on a particularly good day when the sun, the light, the clouds and the bluest sky have all conspired with each other to give you just a glimpse of that magical view, it honestly does have the power to make you catch your breath.daraga church 2view from daraga church

I remember years ago, there was much discussion on the radio as well as between everyone who cared to have an opinion that they were totally against the move of applying white paint over the facade of the church. Everyone thought the church looked regal and classic enough on its natural state, just gray and no paint on the outside. Some even said that the unpainted church showed so much character, that it was all the better showing off its age than pretending to be contemporary. However, it still ended up being painted on with white and people were outraged for a while. It took a few days (maybe weeks) but people got over it eventually.582513_447627698587474_1157023064_n

To this day, Daraga Church remains to be one of the must-see places when visiting the Bicol Region, especially the province of Albay. It has also been featured in some local films, one of the most recent was She’s Dating the Gangster wherein Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo (Filipino actors) had a scene shot inside the church.

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Food

MannA Korean Restaurant (San Felipe, Naga City)

Hello everyone! Today, we had lunch at this restaurant that serves authentic Korean food. The name is MannA Korean Restaurant located at Parkview Executive Village in San Felipe, Naga City- about 10 minutes drive from Magsaysay Avenue. It was my second time to eat there so I know the food is delicious and authentic as the owner is a Korean couple who barely speak any Tagalog. And lo and behold! Who did I happen to sit next to? It’s Soong Jong Ki from Descendants of the Sun, so naturally, I was beyond thrilled to say the least. I am so  convinced that DOTS is the best. drama. ever. (Insert girly giggles here).19449251_10209330774929396_459787038_o

So after waiting for what seemed like 20 minutes and we were so hungry because we got there at 12:30 PM (that is already late lunch for us), we got served first with the Korean Seafood Pancakes. My favorite. It was as expected – a soft, moist, hot plate of deliciousness. The slightly spicy, sweet dipping sauce makes all the difference.

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Korean Seafood Pancake (P 150)

Then one by one they came out fresh from the kitchen. The half soy chicken, half seasoned chicken, 2 bibimbap, 1 beef bulgogi, 2 bowls of ramyeon, and 2 pitchers of iced tea. We ordered The Family Pack (good for 6-10 persons) for P1,200.00 only and everything was delicious! The kimbap was not part of the promo, but was an additional order of a co-worker.

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Half Seasoned Chicken (P 250)
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Bibimbap x 2 (P 200)
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Beef Bulgogi (P 200)
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Half Soy Chicken (P 250)
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Ramyeon x 2 (P 200)
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Kimbap (P 100)- not part of the promo

DSC0758619402345_10209330774969397_2129701268_oI noticed that the interiors haven’t changed much, just a few more tarps with pictures of their food and prices were installed. But I guess that is the charm of the place – it is simple to the eyes but explosive to the palate.19397906_10209331015455409_618644918_n

It was a very satisfying meal and I’ll gladly recommend this restaurant to the Naguenos who are tired of the usual fare and want to try something new and to the tourists who are visiting Naga City. Although it is a bit on the outskirts of the busy city streets, as it is located in the rural area in San Felipe, every bite makes the trip all worth it. So, I guess my love for Korean drama might only be possibly outdone by my love for Korean food.

By the way, thanks so much Rovi for the treat! =)

Places

Magayon Art Gallery (Albay Provincial Capitol)

When in Albay, make sure to visit the Magayon Art Gallery, located at the lobby of Albay Provincial Capitol Building, which serves as the avenue for local artists to show off their visual creations. It is especially fun to go there during Magayon Festival because of the many activities like the parade of huge folklore characters made of paper mache, parade featuring the different  festivals of the different towns, pageants, trade fairs and beer plaza. However, since the festival was just held last month (May 2017), I think it will be something to look forward to next year.

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Magayon Art GAllery

 

549421_447606805256230_1172652317_n575242_447606835256227_1981817209_n579723_447606928589551_2068803416_n So, I was being dorky and found some ways to make this painting more interesting I think using just the format tools (effects) of MS PowerPoint:normal

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Plastic Wrapplastic wrap

Cut Outcut out

I have been to the GSIS Museo ng Sining in Pasay City and have seen paintings of Fernando Amorsolo and Juan Luna’s “Parisian Life” up close, but I found myself just as impressed by the works of our local artists in Bicol. So, if ever you’re in the area, I recommend you give the Magayon Art Gallery a visit. Thanks for stopping by!

Food

GINATAANG LANGKA (Young Jackfruit Cooked in Coconut Milk)

Hello everyone! It is Saturday and I am so relieved to be at home instead of slaving away in front of the computer at the office. I was so looking forward to this long weekend (Monday is Independence Day here in the Phil!). Yesterday, as I ever so melodramatically declared to my friend and equally “slave driven” co-worker Rovi, I swore I would try to fatten up like it’s some kind of a life mission. So I will make an extra effort to pig out more and think less of work this weekend. (BTW, you can check out her blog at Rovi Diaries).

Anyway, I’m no cook so it’s Yoy who really cooked this one Bicolano dish that we usually have every other weekends. It is called Ginataang Langka which means young jackfruit strips cooked in coconut milk (gata). If there is one thing the Bicolanos love as much as sili (chili peppers), it would have to be dishes cooked in gata (coconut milk).

The ingredients are the following: 3 cloves garlic, half of a medium sized ginger, 1 small onion, 1 small tomato, 2 cups coconut milk, half kilo young jackfruit strips (available in the Philippine/Asian markets), half kilo freshwater shrimps (you can also use half kilo small sized crabs instead), 1/2 teaspoon sugar, salt and ground black pepper to taste. DSC07496DSC07497DSC07501DSC07498DSC07505

Basically, the first thing is to chop your onions, garlic, tomato and ginger. Then bring the coconut milk to a boil, stirring occasionally. Yoy likes to use our medium sized wok for this, although you may also use a pot. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, salt and the young jackfruit strips. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the jackfruit strips are cooked (should be soft). DSC07508

Then add the shrimps and cook for another 5 minutes or until shrimps have turned bright orange. Add more salt, a little sugar, ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with green and red peppers and simmer for 2 more minutes. And you’re done!DSC07511

Enjoy it with a steaming bowl of rice and fried fish with soy sauce and calamansi (local lime) as dipping sauce for those truly satisfying Bicolano flavors. For me, it tastes of home. Nothing says Welcome to Bicol better than an incredibly spicy chili-based dish like the Bicol Express or the creamy, coco-nutty flavors of the local dishes such as Laing and Ginataang Langka.

 

Places

KAWAKAWA NATURAL PARK (LIGAO, ALBAY)

The beginning of the rainy season can now be felt here in Bicol, even though the heat is still the same as if summer is not quite ready to leave just yet. The rain falls every now and then, at the most unexpected times, as if to mourn the death of our soldiers who fought hard in battle to keep the peace and to protect the innocent in Marawi. God bless them. And as the country is torn and heartbroken over the war waged by the terrorists against the government and its people, I myself don’t feel the enthusiasm to urge people to travel and have a fun time just now.

However, I would like to introduce a place that is great for introspection. A peaceful place that can be a solace for troubled minds. In this time of turmoil for my country, we need to find that peace within ourselves, to extend our hands to God for comfort. Below are the photos of my visit to Kawakawa Natural Park in Ligao, Albay some years ago. It is a place I can think of that made me feel so near to God before, even though God is really within us all in the first place.

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“Welcome to this famous hill without a hilltop” the marker says. The locals have told us that Kawakawa Hill is so named because the shape of its crater  is easily likened to a “kawa” or a wok being used for cooking.

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Every summer is the right time to visit to witness hundreds of sunflowers while in bloom. Unfortunately, when friends and I went there they have just harvested the flowers a few days ago, which then left us with only a few blooms to enjoy.543242_447582698591974_1930491131_n554638_447581715258739_103050721_n536653_447583481925229_1140660211_n

The view from the top was so relaxing that I can easily see myself retiring and living in such a place. There is something about being in a high place that is uplifting to the spirits as well. I remember instantly feeling better.576365_447581998592044_1393260001_n562627_447582368592007_1719302356_n542362_447584278591816_778806875_n525787_447582041925373_1550998116_n

KawaKawa Park is not hard to find. There are markers along Maharlika Highway in Ligao, Albay that points to the direction of the park which is located in Tuburan. So whether you come from Legazpi or from Manila, it is very accessible. The entrance fee happens to be P10.00 only. Also, the locals are quite helpful and friendly so there should be no reason to get lost.

Places

Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga, Albay

Cagsawa Ruins are what remains of  a 17th century church built by the Franciscans. It is considered as one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the province of Albay.

According to history, last February 1, 1814, Mount Mayon (famous for its perfect cone), began its most violent and deadly eruption in recorded history wherein the church was destroyed and thousands of inhabitants were killed. The bell tower miraculously survived and over time, it has developed into a top destination for tourists and locals alike for the beautiful view of the Mayon Vulcano in the background. And so history goes, although that is not why many people visit nowadays. For the most part, people go there to have their picture taken with the vulcano and the belfry of the old Cagsawa church as the backdrop. Lol. I mean, nothing wrong with that. And I was definitely no exception (Mt. Mayon and I have tons of photos together!). I guess that is pretty much all you can do when you visit anyway (if you’re not into shopping for pili nuts and handicrafts). 48082_452951188055125_1578136340_n

The place can be so charming, especially when the weather is right.

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Those are just some of the photos taken while touring some friends from Manila.

Resorts

AMESOLA SPRING VALLEY RESORT (DEL ROSARIO, NAGA CITY)

Hello again and Happy Mother’s Day to all supermoms out there!

Anyway, since yesterday was Mother’s Day and we really do celebrate every special occasion like Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, every birthday, Christmas, New Year’s Day and the list goes on, we decided to go swimming at Amesola Spring Valley Resort in Del Rosario, Naga City. I remember one of my readers here commented that I really seem to like water. He’s probably right.lol.

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Twin Pool

Now this resort is very near our place, in fact, we probably got there in less than 10 minutes via the tricycle that we rented for P100. However, if you are coming from Centro Naga, you will need to take a jeepney to Del Rosario (P10.00 each person) and tell the driver to pull over at the corner of Del Rosario-Cararayan Road. It’s hard to miss because it is located just right before you pass the arch that says “Welcome to Naga City.” Then, ride a tricycle to the resort (P5.00 each person). However, if you are coming from the direction of Legazpi or Pili, you may take a bus or UV Express van and pull over at the corner of Del Rosario-Cararayan Road.  Then wait for a tricycle to convey you to the resort.

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When you get there, the entrance fee for adults is P150 each while the kids go in for P100 each. The cottages are priced at P600 and above and you get to use their three (3) swimming pools where the water they say is always fresh and cool as the source is the nearby Mount Isarog. The newly renovated pool, which is located at the right side of the resort, is bigger and has lounge chairs for those who care to go sunbathing (although sunbathing is not really a thing for Filipinos). Anyway, I recommend if you go to the resort, get a cottage by this bigger pool especially if you are bringing kids along, because the cottage we got was situated by the Twin Pool (on the left) and the water at the kiddie pool thereat had these things floating around (not sure what). And I thought the water at the bigger pool looked more fresh.

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The resort is rather basic and simple, but I can tell they have been putting in best efforts and invested a lot of money to turn the whole place into what they hope would be a cutting edge facility someday. It paid off somehow judging from the marked improvement of their pools and amenities. For instance, there is a gym now featuring new modern equipment. There are fitness programs available too. Their rooms (for overnight stay) have been newly renovated and clean, although the prices have gone up as well. What with P1,500 for single occupancy! I don’t think it’s wise considering their location is really far from Centro Naga (where the malls, shops and restos are). I mean, if you are travelling to Naga City solo, you’d wanna get a standard room at Nagaland Hotel (for about P700), which is affordable and pretty much close to everything.

 

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They have a waterlily pond

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Anyway, Amesola Spring Valley Resort has been under renovation for over a year now, but there is still much to be done, especially in the area of landscaping. The place is spacious and has a forest feel to it that they should put into good use. I guess because people would love an exotic place where they can feel one with nature. They need to maybe spruce the place up with more flowers and fruit trees. And maintenance staff should be on the look out for people who litter by the pool for goodness sake! We have seen litter all over the Twin Pool area. And if guests (especially small kids) can’t be imposed upon to behave impeccably, then the staff must take it upon themselves to keep the place no less than immaculate.

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My over-all verdict is: I was pleasantly surprised that the resort is very near where I live but apart from their decent sized swimming pools and noisy videoke, there is not much to offer the day swimmers.  A koi pond or a large aquarium, some fruit picking, a vegetable farm, bikes to rent, a zip line, hanging bridge and a wall to climb would have made a world of difference. However, with all things considered, we still had a good time. I guess when you’re with a kid and she enjoys swimming so much, you kinda get the feeling that you’re having fun as well despite the unbelievable noise of three videoke machines playing simultaneously.

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I’m looking forward to when they have made the place truly packed with entertainment and more refined, with stricter rules against littering, especially when their videoke machines are finally placed farther apart. I hope to see some more noteworthy improvements on my next visit.