Resorts

Hibiscus Camp (Consocep, Tigaon, Cam Sur)

Our trip did not seem very promising. I slept late the night before and initially woke up at 4:30 AM and it was raining heavily. I know we decided to go through with it, rain or shine, but I had second thoughts about bringing Julienne along. Will it be okay to bring her in this kind of weather? Anyhow, the rain was not able to keep us from taking a short trip to Hibiscus Camp in Consocep, Tigaon, Camarines Sur.

Our first stop was along the meandering road on our way up to Consocep. We were on an elevated road and found ourselves enchanted by the picturesque landscape. It was very windy and the sky was gray, it did really feel like we were in “the middle of nowhere” but we loved every minute of it.

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Photo credit: Mam Cha’s FB

As the car continued to ascend on the zigzag road that climbs uphill, we reached our second stop. We enjoyed yet even more picturesque landscapes.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 3

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Photo credit: Mam Cha’s FB

There was a little house there and beside it were these fresh produce on display – bananas, sweet potatoes and even avocadoes. The problem was, nobody was around so we couldn’t buy anything. And we really really wanted to buy some. Don’t worry, the only things we ever took were these photos.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 5

We continued to drive uphill and passed by the entrance of Consocep Nature Park. We had to pass that one up because of the weather and the younger kids couldn’t handle the trek. I looked it up online and I know there are three waterfalls to see in that place. A few meters up ahead and we reached Hibiscus Camp. It got seriously foggy in these parts too.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 6

This wooden cabin was the first thing we saw (amidst all the fog). I could have taken nice photos of the cabin but then it started to rain heavily, so we had to rush for shelter. So, grabbin’ this photo (below) from Mam Cha’s FB instead 😉

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Photo credit: Mam Charinne’s Facebook

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Hey, did I mention it was foggy?hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 14hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 12

I like my views misty. Reminds me of the time I went to Sagada with some friends. It was really an amazing place and wonderful people too.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 15hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 16hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 18hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 41The camp has a three-tiered swimming pool but I decided not to go swimming because it was cold, so when the fog cleared up a bit, I explored the place by myself.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 20

I was hoping to not leave a stone unturned but I regret not being able to take pictures of the inside of the cabin. When I got there, someone was cooking in the kitchen and having conversation with another person, and I didn’t want to intrude.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 34

To tell the truth, this place is probably the prettiest I have seen in Bicol so far. It is being dubbed as Bicol’s “Little Baguio” right now and you can see why from the coolness of the place, high altitude, the flowers and the mist.

You will definitely like it if you’re into nature and stuff. It is perfect for celebrations and pre-nuptial photo shoots, but during weekdays maybe. It is fast becoming a popular destination that there is not enough cottage during weekends. Also, the area is not that huge and still under developed but the views are surreal.

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Passion fruit or “Mirinda” as we call it…

They have no rooms for overnight accommodations. It would have been nice though. And it would be best to visit in the summer because when you’re high up on a mountain, I found out that the rain can be a real pain in the rear.

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The young hibiscus plants of which the camp was named after

How to get there: From Naga City, take the Diversion Road in Pili, Cam Sur and upon reaching the junction at Anayan, take the left turn going to Ocampo. It takes approximately 30 minutes and you should reach the junction at Hanawan, Ocampo that will take you up to Consocep. Around 8 kilometers along the zigzag road and you will pass by the entrance of Consosep Nature Park and a few meters up ahead, just along the road, is the Hibiscus Camp.

Entrance Fee is P25.00 only per person for those who just want to have a look around and take pictures. For those who want to swim: Adults are charged P100.00 while kids are charged P50.00.hibiscus camp ocampo cam sur 36

It was easy enough to find and the road, although zigzagging, is solid concrete. It was our first time to go there and we didn’t get lost at all.

P.S. : All photos are mine except those I give credit to whom credit is due =)

 

 

 

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Resorts

Agua Vista (Naga City)

Just at the back of ALDP Mall, along Diversion Road of Barangay Triangulo, Naga City, we discovered Agua Vista. Not that we were the first ones to discover its existence, but more like delighted to discover how nice it was. We have been hearing about it for a while and the little one had been bugging us to take her there to go swimming.agua vista naga city 15

This is the entrance way going to Agua Vista, which is located within what they call as the The COMRES 100, a Commercial Residential Park.agua vista naga city 14

Upon entering, the first thing we noticed was the three-storey building that was described in their brochure as “A grand fusion of 3-storey commercial/building in a self-contained and walkable community situated in the highly urbanized city of Naga.” It is still under construction at this time though . agua vista naga city 10

They also have a koi pond where they keep quite a number of koi in different sizes and colors.

 

 

The entrance to the pool is through the door of the cafe (behind us in the photo below) where they have attendants who cordially greeted us. We paid the kiddo’s fee inside so she can swim. agua vista naga city 9

This is their going rate: WEEKDAYS: Adults are charged P200/day rate and P250/night rate while kids are charged P100/day rate and P150/night rate. During WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS: Adults are charged P250/day rate and P300/night rate while kids are charged P200/day rate and P250/night rate. Also, they are strict with the dress code, as in swimwear only, and no food or drinks from outside are allowed. You have to buy from the café or if you must bring food, I think they charge for corkage. The good news is the use of their amenities is free (no cottage fee).

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Inside the cafe

So, the pool size was decent and even though it was the weekend, the place was not so crowded.agua vista naga city 18agua vista naga city 1

The kiddie pool was on the small side but there was free flowing water to the kids’ delight.agua vista naga city 20agua vista naga city 22

I am thrilled about Agua Vista because it is a nice clean place where we can take our loved ones that they will surely enjoy. I am happy to learn about it because every time I have guests, I keep on asking Google where I can take them to have fun, and it always tells me the same thing – take them to the Hot Spring Resort in Panicuason or to Haciendas de Naga, which are kinda far and a hassle to go to when you don’t have a car. Agua Vista is in a prime location and very accessible indeed.

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Dressing Room/Shower Room/Toilet

We were the last ones to leave so we were able to take photos without ’em  photobombers lol.

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On the background was Robinson’s Place Naga, where we walked to for afternoon snacks before heading home…

With the sad lack of beaches nearby, I think we need more of these in Naga City.

 

 

Where to Eat

Green Earth Cafe (Naga City)

I have long wanted to feature Green Earth Café in my blog ever since a friend of mine introduced me to the healthy dining experience it offers. The right opportunity presented itself when my aunts and cousins visited from Manila and I thought I’d bring them there for lunch because both my aunts cannot eat just anything anymore. They have limited food choices now that they’re older. They always have to eat healthy.green earth cafe naga city 14green earth cafe naga city 21green earth cafe naga city 4

So, Green Earth Café was the first thing that popped into my head that I know serves healthy food in Naga City and with a really cozy ambience to boot.green earth cafe naga city 3

green earth cafe naga city 5green earth cafe naga city 6The food took a long time to prepare, something that I have not taken into consideration beforehand, knowing that my guests were tired from the long trip. And tired often leads to hungry eventually. On our table was a reminder warning that healthy food preparation may be slow but it is worth it, or something to that effect. The reminder advised that to avoid waiting for a long time, better call or text your order ahead of time. Why did I not know this before?

So, after what seemed like a looong wait, the Nacho with Salsa dip was served. The nacho tasted like it was made from scratch which I like. Everyone liked the salsa dip because it was fresh and laced with mint leaves. My kid liked this dip even though she does not eat veggies unless wrapped in lumpia wrapper and deep fried.green earth cafe naga city 2

Next that came out was the Tofu with Black Pepper Sauce. This was a good healthy dish and the tofu was homemade.green earth cafe naga city 9

Then there was the Shiitake Mushroom in Sesame Sauce which I thought was very similar to the dishes you can eat in a Chinese restaurant because of the sesame seeds and sauce. It also had tofu, carrots and young pechay leaves. This might be my new favorite among the dishes we ordered.green earth cafe naga city 8

We ordered brown rice and they even made an effort to plate the rice with a sprig of mint. This mint eventually went into Nay Henring’s glass of warm water.green earth cafe naga city 10

We also ordered the Vegan Mushroom Sandwich, also a favorite of mine, but not such a huge hit in our crowd of eight. green earth cafe naga city 7

The Vegan Pad Thai was the very first dish I tasted at Green Earth Café. Bianca and I went to this café twice. And on the two occasions that I have been there, we ordered this dish, which is good for 3-4 persons. I usually like the noodles but I think they overcooked it a bit because it did not seem as al dente as I remember. And the last time I had this dish from this same café, the peanuts were young, crunchy and fresh and just barely cooked so when you munch into them they give that delightful milky taste. However, this time I forgot to get some peanuts for my plate so I cannot say that they were the same but I liked the crunch of the sprouted mung beans.green earth cafe naga city 11

We also had the Thai Spring Rolls which was made of sprouted mung beans, grated carrots, nuts and herbs wrapped in lumpia wrapper and served with Thai style peanut sauce.

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Note: Not the exact number of spring rolls because lucky fingers got to them first lol

The last order that arrived was the Veggie Spring Rolls which was basically lumpia with sprouted mung beans as the main ingredient. It came with vinegar with chilli and mint, and a side dish of tomato enchilada.green earth cafe naga city 12

After our meal and while waiting for my aunts and cousins outside, Julienne and I had a good look around.green earth cafe naga city 20green earth cafe naga city 18

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The daughter took my photo… Good job!
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Siling Labuyo… hot!

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This cafe is located at 3rd St., Villa Sorabella Subdivision, Concepcion Grande, Naga City. How to find it when you’re driving: take the Maharlika Highway going to Concepcion Grande then look out for the building which houses Banco De Oro (BDO) or Olivan Home Depot, take the right turn (assuming you came from Naga City proper) going to Villa Sorabella Subdivision, just a few houses straight ahead and you’re sure to spot their signage. Its the left turn for vehicles coming from Legazpi City. For commuters: Take the jeepney going to Concepcion and ask the driver to take you to Royal Ann. The building that now houses Olivan Home Depot and BDO used to be the Royal Ann Hotel, and until now, commuters always say Royal Ann instead of BDO so as not to confuse the driver and miss their stop.

Most of the dishes at Green Earth Cafe are priced higher than Php150.00 but with all our orders, our bill only reached up to Php1,300.00+. Good healthy food and good value for money. No wonder the restaurant has a regular following. It’s a must-try for tourists and those of you who want to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Where to Eat

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.

 

My Bicol

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 =)