Bicol Products

Bula Masarig: Engineered Bamboo

Every town in the Philippines is famous (at least nationwide) for one thing or another. Bicol is tagged as the Sili (chilli) Capital of the Philippines. And every town in Bicol is also well-known for a specific crop, product, or tradition that is endemic in the region.

For instance, Naga City is known for its kinalas (a noodle soup not so different from the batchoy of Visayas), Sorsogon for its Pili fruits and baluko (a kind of edible shellfish), Daet for the sweet Formosa pineapples and kakanin (variety of cassava or sticky rice cakes), Ligao for its Christmas lights and the town of Camalig for its pinangat (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk). There are many more to mention but each town is special because of something and they hold festivals each year to celebrate the products that are uniquely their own.

Now, let’s talk about the town of Bula. Do you know that this place is known for its vast supply of bamboo? Bula is a quaint little town located in Camarines Sur. It is also one of the oldest municipalities in the province (one of the first four towns along with Naga, Quipayo and Nabua) founded by the Spanish conquistadores when they came to the Philippines in 1500s.

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Photo credit: bulamasarig.com

Bamboo is the town’s pride and joy. Not only does bamboo beautify Bula’s surroundings but it puts the town on the map thru the innovative way of turning this locally revered humble grass into a piece of beautiful art – the engineered bamboo.

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Photo credit: bulamasarig.com

In 2012, the Local Government Unit of Bula (together with the DOST, PCW, DTI and DOLE, built a Common Service Facility (CSF) located in Barangay Pawili with an area of 1.260 hectares.  The CSF aims to promote and support the One Town, One Product (OTOP) vision of the municipality with bamboo furniture as the flagship product. This facility was built in order for the people of Bula to master the technology of bamboo engineering, develop ways to further strengthen the bamboo and come up with beautiful and classic designs. The CSF intends to bring livelihood, art, and culture together. It naturally brought jobs to many people and pride to the otherwise sleepy town.

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Photo credit: bulamasarig.com

The engineered bamboo furniture, fixtures, home decorations and novelty items are now available to purchase and order at Bula Masarig, the organization that sells these products. They recently put up their website and although the “Cart” menu is not yet working, interested buyers may inquire about the products, prices, availability and shipping via the inquiry box and thru their mobile numbers.FURNITUE,FIXTURES1

Many people pass by Bula through the Maharlika Highway, usually on the way to Albay or Naga City, and they hardly see the true character and beauty of the town. Its charm lies in its simplicity and tranquillity, its magnificent sceneries, captivating agricultural landscapes and breath-taking views. Bula Masarig captures the essence of the place and lovingly incorporates it into every piece of furniture to give you the same kind of experience right in the comfort of your own home.

 

 

 

 

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Hotels

Second (and Definitely Last!) Stay at Selvina’s Hotel, Sorsogon City

I was debating with myself whether or not to still post this because I really regretted our second stay at Selvina’s Hotel in Sorsogon City. Just thinking about it now is still upsetting even though it’s been a month. It’s such a shame because I raved about this hotel during our first stay, that experience was a far cry from the second time we were there. So what happened, Selvina’s?

First, let’s start with the good points. Same as before – they have good firm beds, the room has a terrace (dirty by the way), complementary coffee and toiletries. List ends there.

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Now, the upsetting part.  First of all, there was no personnel manning the reception and we rang the bell many times. We took the liberty to fetch someone from their resto or we would have spent hours waiting in vain at their reception area. This employee who checked us in acted like she did not expect us. She stared at the confirmation booking for too long without actually having an idea which room to put us in, like looking at a complicated puzzle and no idea how to solve it. So, maybe she’s not the receptionist. After all, she was fetched from the resto. Still, any decent establishment that dares call itself a hotel needs a receptionist. And still, it’s more than a bit awkward for the guest because they made us feel like an inconvenience for them. Something I mind a bit when I’m paying more when I could have spent a lot less elsewhere if I’m just getting lousy service.

One more thing, their cleaning lady (who arrived, I assume, to assist Ms. Clueless) was rude. She made a rude remark after I asked if the room was on the second floor. Something about “Duh, of course all our rooms are on the second floor” but in Sorsoganon dialect. Ok, I was tired and the important thing was we finally checked in, so I let that pass.

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You can see the highway from the terrace

It got worse, the A/C in the room was very noisy and unable to cool the entire room. Summer here in the PH has a reputation for getting really nasty hot so I was already contemplating of complaining at the front desk. But thinking there was probably nobody manning the front desk again anyway, I decided against it. Instead, we went out to visit my parents, put the A/C on timer to run for two more hours and hoped that it will eventually cool down by night time when we got back.

The heat wasn’t as bad at night and we were able to sleep. The room they put us in had a queen bed and a single bed. I expected just one queen bed, just like the one we booked on our first stay, but since they really did not know what they were doing, gave us the wrong room. I should be grateful for the extra space, but I really would much rather have the room we first stayed in because it had a functioning air conditioning unit.

So maybe you’re thinking it wasn’t that bad. You’d be wrong. They cut the water supply of the hotel at 10:00 in the morning! Without so much as a warning. Can you believe a hotel cutting the water supply on their guests? Were they even aware that they still had guests to begin with? Fortunately, we woke up and showered early but what if we didn’t? We’d be stinking and all thanks to them. The pseudo receptionist mumbled some poor excuse of a water leak or something but not even an apology. What kind of operation are they running blah blah blah? (BLAH because I. Have. No. Words. and Blah because that’s how I feel about this hotel now. How was my stay? BLAH.)

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The outdated bathroom where we could have missed a shower if we happened to wake up late the next morning

So, against my better judgement, I am posting this to mark my second and DEFINITELY LAST STAY at this hotel.

Food

24 High St. (Triangulo, Naga City)

Hi guys! I’m happy to report that this is my third post for the month of April and I think I’ve outdone myself in the posting department. As another blogger friend, Anne, told me just weeks ago, even if I come up with only one post per month, the important thing is to not give up. Thanks a lot for cheering me on Anne! Means a lot! ❤

So, last Monday after office hours, I went out with two of my friends from work, Irene and Arleyn, who took me to this new food barn in Naga City called 24 High St. It was really nice and thoughtful of them to ask me to eat out just because they thought I could use it for my blog. Well, the place is blog worthy anyway, so why not?

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Ooops, the drinks are almost gone but where are the burgers???

24 High St., located in Brgy Triangulo,  is easy enough to find and not just because of the classic VW Beetle which was hoisted and placed about 12 feet from the ground as landmark but because it is just at the back of St. Joseph School and very near Bicol Access Health Centrum. However, it is not included in the jeepney route so you will need to take a tricycle to get there (fare is Php8.00 per person).

Inside the food barn are several food stalls selling assorted food and drinks from barbeque, chicken, noodles, coffee, fruit juices, soda, french fries, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, nachos and even lechon belly. There is even a bar that sells beer and other alcoholic beverages.24 high st naga city 10

I ordered from the stall of a coffee shop called Single Ancestry. I was in a less than adventurous mood that time and I already know this shop so I got the Matcha Over Ice which is a sweet green tea milk drink and the Shrimp Pesto Pasta. To be honest, the Matcha Over Ice was delicious but a bit too milky for my taste. I should remember to ask for more green tea and less milk next time.

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Matcha Over Ice (Php100.00)

The pasta was delicious as well. They did not scrimp on the pesto sauce and the black olives balanced the nutty flavour of the dish. The only let down maybe was the shrimps being on the small side, and oh, the portion was not a lot. I could eat two servings, and I eat like a bird.

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta (Php146.00)

My two companions were just there a few days before and Irene really liked the Hong Kong Style Noodles that she ordered again and the black gulaman drink. I liked this noodle too since I used to have this for lunch or snack when I was still working in Manila. It included two pieces of siomai and crunchy mung bean sprouts topped with sauces (teriyaki, soy sauce, chilli garlic, etc.) that is added according to your taste.

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Hong Kong Style Noodles
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Black Gulaman

Arleyn had the Watermelon Shake from Single Ancestry, which she said was really refreshing, and the Burger Platter with three small burgers (cute pink buns), nachos and fries. The taste of the food on this platter was satisfying but I think the portion was just enough to feed two people, not three. It’s a shame I do not remember the name of this stall that sold the burgers but I remember clearly that it took them almost an hour to prepare and serve the food. So, service was sluggish.

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Watermelon Shake (Php65.00)

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The ambience of the place though is really nice. Even though there were a lot of people that time and they were showing something on the big TV screen and playing relaxing music at the same time, we were still able to hear ourselves talking. When night time came, even more people began to arrive, mostly students and yuppies. The atmosphere of the place was warm and friendly. 24 high st naga city 924 high st naga city 11

Over all, we had a nice time eating, chatting and just spending quality time to talk about everything under the sun (Yes, you can actually hear yourself talk). I hope 24 High St. will continue to grow and improve to become a top foodie destination in Naga City.

 

Everything Else

Summer Feels from our Garden

How do we know it’s summer in the PH? For one, the sun feels really hot outside that I need to use my umbrella even in the morning, the usually cold A/C can barely be felt anymore because it is just way too hot. Summer is here, and it cannot be denied when it’s all over the TV – special features about where to go this summer like beaches, spring pools, resorts and just about every activity that families and adventure-seekers can do this season. Even in our office, people are already planning the (mandatory) summer get-away where it is conveniently called “team building.”

For me though, summer means the garden will come back to life again. Like right now, flowers are all in bloom which is a real nice view to wake up to every morning.DSC00520DSC00521

The impatiens and periwinkle always go together rather nicely in our plant boxes  located outside of the fence.   DSC09930DSC00233

But wait, the bougainvilleas will not be outdone. They have been boring and flowered sporadically for the past months but they are finally coming out!DSC00505DSC00570DSC00509

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My little model is always up for this =)

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This summer is also the first time our cacao tree yielded its first fruits and hopefully the summer sun makes the fruit really sweet. We plan to roast the beans and make them into tsokolate or tableya after. DSC00498

Yesterday, I came home after work and harvested these eggplants. Our eggplant “tree” is about 6 feet tall already. It grew so tall because it has to compete with other plants to catch the sun’s rays. It has been around for so long, around three years maybe, and every time we try to cut it, it just yields more fruits/veggies. So I guess it has amazing survival tactics lol.DSC00500

And the good old herbs – basil, mint, rosemary, chili peppers…DSC00506DSC00526

Not everyone is aware that due to the implementation of the TRAIN Law in the Philippines, additional taxes have been imposed on the consumers and everything has been getting more expensive than ever now, especially food items. Food should be affordable for everyone as a matter of principle, but our lawmakers obviously think otherwise. What real schmucks they turned out to be. So, why not grow our own food right at home? I have started by putting these green onions in soil so we don’t need to buy anymore. It’s a small start but it’s a start.DSC00511

So there goes the start of my summer feels. I finally know it’s summer when the garden feels and looks like this, as it should. It’s summer!

Thanks for reading! Have a happy weekend ahead =)

Hotels

F2M Tower (Legazpi City, Albay)

Hello there! I’m glad to be back after almost three months of no activity here in my blog. It made me a bit sad and guilty at the same time that I have neglected my blog for that long but I’ve been busy and had some things that required my attention. One thing is for sure, I have made it a point to visit other people’s blogs and read a bit before I go to bed every night so that I still feel in the loop although my own blog has been a bit forlorn lately due to my lack of post haha.

Anyway, I just would like to share with you guys that we have taken yet another trip to Albay and Sorsogon City last week, which happened to be a holiday here in the PH (Holy Week). We’ve been doing this since I’ve moved to Naga City about five years ago to see my parents in Sorsogon. I wish we had a car so we could have taken a lot of detour and see places off the beaten path. That would have made a lot of stories for some worthwhile blog posts. But since we had to take a commuter van (UV Express), we couldn’t do this.  What I can do however, is to share with you our hotel experience during our stay at F2M Tower in Legazpi, Albay.

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The lobby at F2M Tower

When we arrived at Legazpi City Terminal, we just walked for a few minutes and after asking around where F2M Tower was, we finally found it beside Pacific Mall (Gaisano). Check in was a breeze since their staff knew right away who we were and did not even ask for a copy of the confirmation booking. I like it when hotels are efficient and their staff are polite and competent.

When we opened the door to our room, the air felt so fresh and it smelled really nice, like you know right away the room is clean. Yoy and Julienne liked it a lot.  F2M has only 6 rooms that they rent out and I was told by Jho (the staff who checked us in) that their concept is that of a condotel. So there are no staff to cater to your needs after their office closes, but it doesn’t matter when it is located in the heart of Legazpi. Whatever you need, you can just buy from the mall that is just a few steps away.

The bed was really nice and white. The sheets smelled and felt fresh (Ok, I’ve been saying that a lot lol). F2M TOWER LEGAZPI CITYDSC00317

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The faces she makes these days!

Now, let’s  check out the bathroom. It’s real clean too (almost immaculate in my opinion). It was a pleasant surprise how everything was thought of and furnished. There were towels available, hot/cold shower worked, there was a soap dispenser and a hair dryer. F2M TOWER LEGAZPI CITY 3DSC00312DSC00313DSC00315

There was also a water heater, utensils and a mini refrigerator inside the room.DSC00320

I liked the mirror of the closet’s sliding door so I took a selfie (Gaaaaahh!). Not posting this on Facebook, just here.DSC00299DSC00301

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In the evening, Yoy and I had one  bottle of beer each over a plate of sisig that we bought near 101 Mall while the little girl enjoyed her Vitamilk (don’t worry she’s not drunk in this picture, just tired lol)

Over all, I liked it. It was the cleanest budget hotel we’ve stayed in in Legazpi City. And to better get your money’s worth, try online booking for promos and to get discounts.

Summer is here and a lot of people are going on out of town trips. I hope you will find this post useful! =)

 

 

Everything Else

Home Garden (Naga City)

I was just going through my picture files and saw these pictures of our home garden here in Naga City. Last year, there was a time when we were not particularly very busy, especially Mama Pat, who tended our home garden which used to look like this.DSC07699DSC07701

Our garden is mainly for food than for beautification purposes, although flowers were abundant especially during summer. Like these Rosas de Alas Dies as they call it here in Naga, but my Mama used to call it “Oro Alas Dose” in Sorsogon, so called because the flowers bloom in the morning but by noon, the flowers wither.DSC03951

This blue marnate vine literally covered the window of Mama Pat’s room. You can’t even tell this is a window. Anyway, this vine has been removed a few months ago because it was getting too big already. I miss the flowers, they are actually edible and can be found to adorn salad plates in some restaurants.DSC07703

In front of our house are bougainvilleas that also yield a lot of flowers in the summer and the blue flowering plant that I don’t know the name of.17190791_1619408251409407_5117129497669685115_n17265245_1619408431409389_1668838369552764419_n We also have a guava tree, cacao tree, moringga tree (malunggay) and rows of turmeric still rooted on the ground. Some plants we still have include culinary herbs like holy basil, mint and oregano. There are also aloe vera, okra, bitter gourd and eggplant.DSC07721DSC04946DSC07707

We are not as lucky growing the bitter gourd. They never seemed to grow just right, either they got eaten by insects or they ripened when still way too young so I don’t remember eating these. Although, that might be a good thing since they’re just way too bitter!   bitter gourd

And these string beans? They’re gone by now but we used to have them stir fried in soy sauce or with meat dishes like the Filipino favorite “Sinigang,” made with pork (or shrimp) with a savory and sour soup base.DSC07574

Our garden at home made me a believer that God’s blessings are truly abundant and within our reach. Because of this garden, we were able to save a lot of money since we didn’t need to buy our vegetables, we grew them (although most of the effort of course is due to Mama Pat). There was also something very special about harvesting food from the garden which always left me in awe. There was something really special about eating too knowing that there was no pesticide added and they were freshly picked. Last year, we were able to harvest this (below) almost every other day.DSC07814

Gardening truly brings joy to the heart and food to the stomach. I hope that this new year 2018, we will be able to bring our garden back to life, if our time and schedules will allow.

Thank you for reading!

 

Hotels

Asia Novo Boutique Hotel (Sorsogon City)

Happy New Year Blogsville! I hope you all are happy and well this 2018.

I’m posting one of my hotel reviews now lest I forget the things I want to say about my stay at Asia Novo Boutique Hotel in Sorsogon City where we stayed last December 22.

Actually, we liked this hotel. The hotel is new so the room we stayed in, which was the Queen Deluxe or Queen Suite, was fresh and smelled fresh too (so important!). I like new hotels for a reason after having experienced staying at pitiful old establishments with old rooms that smelled of mold and mildew (yikes). NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 4

I especially liked that the sheets were white so you can see if it’s really clean or not. NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 1

This room we stayed in at Novo was also spacious and bright since there was ample lighting inside the room.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 5

Also, the cable TV was working well and the A/C was split type so it tends to get very cold.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 3NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 7

However, the room was not without its issues like wall paint coming off, less than immaculate bathroom, and that housekeeping forgot to provide us with bathroom tissue, bathroom door mat and trash bin (there was only one and it was inside the bathroom). Also, I noticed that the bathroom wall was wet and had map-like patches from within which I suspected was the result of heavy rains in Sorsogon and something like a glitch in building construction.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 8

On the upside, I like that their staff on the front desk were gracious and welcoming. I’m happy they let us check in early (around 1:00 PM) even though when I booked, it was indicated that check in time was 2:00 PM, but I like that they accommodated us so we were able to leave our bags inside the room before we went to my Mama’s house. However, I noticed they were not very keen about online booking since they did not confirm to travelbook.ph that I stayed at the hotel on the date of my booking so I was almost penalized because I was declared as a no-show (Wait, what?! Does this look like a no-show?). So, after a few exchange of emails with the said booking site with me sending them pictures as Exhibit A, B & C (so hard when the burden of truth is on me), I finally got myself acquitted from the charges and was declared innocent beyond reasonable doubt (I hope).

So, what’s more to like? The hotel has an elevator for the convenience of the guests. That’s my baby Julienne between the elevator door and the Christmas tree.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 13

Below is the view from the third floor where One Burgos Resto is just across the street. Their meals tasted great and were reasonably priced. We had our lunch there after we checked in at the hotel.NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 11

The next morning, we just ordered coffee and Nissin Seafood instant cup noodles from the front desk and Yoy went out to buy delicious breads from Kambal Bakery nearby before we checked out.

Over all, I am happy with my stay at said hotel, especially that I got it for only Php681.00 (24 hours) through online booking at travelbook.ph using the Php300.00 discount promo they sent me as a member. Thank you for the discount!NOVO HOTEL SORSOGON 12