Tuesday, June 9, 2009

[Photography-Nature] - First Attempt

Here are my first official attempt on Nature and Landscape Photography :) I hope you like them!
I would deeply appreciate any comments or feedbacks. Thanks!

Photos were taken during our last Ilocos trip.

Drift Wood

Drift Wood

Flower Bush
Flower Bush

Lone Flower
Lone Flower

Pool-side Bed
Pool-side Bed

Tree Alone
Tree Alone

Thank you for visiting :)

diet dinner

I was editing some of my pictures when I realized I haven't had dinner yet...and it's almost 1am. Since I came home late from gym, I had to scour through the ref to look for something to eat.

My dinner turned out to be:
3 slices of raddish cake from Luk Yuen
1 medium banana
2 slices of bread with left over cream cheese

Good thing I found the cream cheese, it's due to expire by the end of the month :D I used most of it though, making Carbonara for Liska's mom's birthday (it's her favorite) :D The carbonara was a mixture of 3 recipes... So you could imagine how crossed my fingers were at that time. :P

The raddish cake of Luk Yuen was not good at all, but bearable. I miss the old Luk Yuen, during the times when it was still located at the old Greenbelt 2, when A&W was still there, and plus when there exist a street that you have a cross to get to the Chapel. 90% of the time my mom would take us to Greenbelt to hear mass, we would have lunch at Luk Yuen. Back then, the beef brisket noodles cost somewhere between 60-70 pesos, with real lean meat and tendons. Their raddish cake was crunchy not because it's fried, but because it's packed and 'malaman'. During tikoy season, for me it was "Forget all the Tikoys, but never forget the Raddish Cake". But times have changed, it's not as good as before, and its too hard to look for good food.

By the way, not so long ago, Steph introduced us to La Mien. :) Its a noodle restaurant in Chinatown. They serve EXCELLENT beef noodle soup! Their dumplings are worth every bite too :D The noodles are hand pulled and is made just before serving the soup. Everytime Lis and I were in downtown, I've always insisted the we go there. So far my hit ratio is roughly 9 out of 10. :D I will post pictures the next time we go there.

I have to get back to my pictures, I'm excited to share it to everybody and hope to get feedbacks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

the hacienda isabella

April 18, 2009

There comes a point when you would feel that you desperately just need to get away from all the hustle and bustle of living in a city, from all the rush and the deadlines. You will realize that you need a good vacation, somewhere you can sleep so well at night, you wouldn't dream of waking up just yet. Search Google and you'll definitely find a lot of choices.

But for our case, one stood out. Something was unique and homey about this place, and for us, these 2 criteria are what we keep looking out for.

Welcome to Hacienda Isabella.
This private resort is owned by the famous Kuh Ledesma and serves as her Tagaytay home. The place is open for bed and breakfast, weddings, celebrations, and events. You will see a lot of antiques in display everywhere :)
We arrived at half past 2 in the afternoon already, traffic along SLEX is hell due to the on going Skyway extension project, so I would suggest that you take the trip as early as possible. Their check in time is 2pm, but you can freely use the ammenities while waiting. We had the place all to ourselves. It feels like having the entire hacienda all to yourself. :D The staff were extremely courteous and service was excellent.

They toured us around the place, allowing us to choose which room we would like to stay in. But during crowded times, they would choose for you since the rooms are on a first come, first serve basis. There are about 5 couple rooms, the rest are family rooms. The place hosts a couple of function rooms, a big open space, and conference areas too.

Who wouldn't want to sleep in a bed like this?
The room has a blue accent, we like it a lot since it has a refreshing and relaxing feel. It dims the room but not too much.
Food is important too! Dinner was served candlelight style. Did I mention that we have the entire place to ourselves? :) We got to seat at the "master table" (not sure what its called). The dinning area was huge! It could probably accomodate around 50 guests.
Bread was served as appetizer, but shortly after, the first food was served: pumpkin soup! It was delicious! Too bad we weren't able to ask for second servings :(
Next was a very generous serving of fruits and vegetables as a salad. There were nuts, corn, mushrooms, spinach, lettuce, mangoes...They added an extra ingredient that made it quite unique: Langka. (I have always been a fan of langka, especially in Turon :D)
Two pastas followed, once is a Tinapa sauce, while the other a Tomato based sauce. I liked the tinapa sauce since the tinapa was made to compliment the entire dish, while Lis liked the Tomato based.
We thought dinner was over since we were so full already when another dish came out of the kitchen: Rosemay Grilled Chicken. The dish was rather stale and quite dry.. Our guess is because we had late dinner :(
They served camote-que. It was just right, not too sweet. We were so full already that we weren't able to savor the dish.
We headed back to the room after dinner since the place is already dark. Good thing I brought my laptop so we could watch some movies :)

Our appetite was not quite fully restored from dinner and its breakfast already!

We had fried garlic rice, perfect tocino, bangus, hotdogs, a big omelette and lots of papaya. Talk about breakfast being the most important meal of the day! The omelette tasted kinda off and could use a bit more salt and pepper, the rest were great.
The big pool is available, just tell them in advance so they can clean it first :)
We will definitely go back to this place..We can't wait to try the other rooms :)
Driving Directions:
Head towards Tagaytay via your preferred route. Drive along the highway towards Batangas. A few minutes after the Mendez intersection and Bag of Beans, you should see Soto Grande Subdivision on your right. Turn right on the next street. Go straight around 20 min, passing by Flower Farm. Keep left when you see a fork on the road. Keep following the road to your left and turn right at the Brgy Carasuchi sign. Follow the this road, passing by a couple of big gates and RGV Farms to your left, after 20min Hacienda Isabella is on the right side. Don't worry, there are a lot of signs along the road.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

the pinatubo climb

Mt. Pinatubo has been a hot destination this summer. People from different ages visit this natural beauty that was once a horrific memory in the country's history.

The mountain is about a 3 hour drive from Manila. Capas, Tarlac is the common drop off point to the crater. We left Quezon City at 330am and arrived roughly 6am. The sun was already up by then. There are two common routes taken by tourist, the Old Route or the "Skyway". The old route is an hour of 4x4 ride, followed by a good 3hour hike while the "skyway" is a 2hour 4x4 ride plus around 45min hike.

picture from mainepot.multiply.com

We took the old route, against the suggestion of our contact person, Noymi. :D Our reason? It's just not worth it not being able to experience the entire hike. :) Its a good thing too, plus we have extra calories that we wanted to burn so.. (exercise :D).

We set out on our 4x4 at 7am, marking the start of our climb to the crater.
picture from mainepot.multiply.com

Dennis was excited to ride in front of the jeep while Me, Liska and Jess take the back. Jon and Charm took the second 4x4.

The ride is going to be bumpy but wait till you experience the "skyway" :P We passed through a vast land lahar (ash) with sparse vegetation. I couldn't stop thinking that all this came from just one volcano eruption.
On top, Jon and Charm wearing their face mask. Below, you'd see how vast the ash is on the way.

picture from mainepot.multiply.com
picture from mainepot.multiply.com

An hour later, we were already preparing for the trek. Our local guide led the way, but it was frustrating that he kept leaving us behind, then complain that he was bored. We didn't bother giving him any tip at the end.

pictures from mainepot.multiply.com

The hike was not an easy one. We took a 15min break halfway the trek to catch our breath and rest for a while. I had to clean my toe wound also :(

Eventually you'll see the end of the "skyway" and the beginning of the last
stretch of the trek. There's a sign here that says is just a 12min hike for youngsters. Don't be fooled, we trekked for 30min and still nowhere near the crater! :P This stretch was no doubt the most difficult, aside from it being an acsent, you're in for a lot of small streams, rocky paths, and steep stairs... We didn't take any pictures at this point, both hands were occupied balancing ourselves hahaha! But forget all that coz taking that last step makes you closer to the top :)
The crater is indeed magnificent. The clouds gave the lake lighting effects that some parts were deeps blue, some aquamarine. With the slopes angled perfectly with the water, the long hike was well worth it. In fact, you would have forgotten about it already at first glance of the top!

Being early has its advantages, or so we thought, we got there a couple of minutes pass 11am, but the place already has a lot of people! darn..they must have taken the "skyway" route :P

TIPS on taking the old route:
  • Pack as light as possible - I carried a backpack (the smaller the better) with a towel, first aid kit, tissue, sun glasses, extra clothes plus a thermos of water (I regret bringing this item, just bring a litre of mineral water).
  • Wear comfortable clothes - Its ok to wear those branded dry fit clothes, they would really help
  • Wear trekking sandals/ hiking shoes - wearing ordinary rubber shoes on the old route would mean that you're willing to have a few tears on it and submerge it in knee high water.
  • Wear socks - Sockes will provide added protection from sharp rocks and but they will surely get wet :P
Lunch was part of the package and was served on styro containers. We had adobo, chicken, chopsuey, rice, salted egg and banana. It can absolutely be better, but I was really hungry then. Just be careful when you're eating, my salted egg was already sour, plus there are a lot of ants.

On the way down, you might take a chance upon this rock, cool isn't it? Too bad it's as heavy as my laptop otherwise I would have brought it home as a souvenir :D

We opted to take the "skyway" route already (though the old route trek was still an option). You just need to pay the driver additional Php1500 to avail. You have to notify them in advance so that they can pick you up at the pickup point. This route will undoubtedly be the 4x4 ride of your life!:P Jon said that his Ilocos 4x4 ride was nothing compared to this one. It will be a roller coaster ride, full of bumps (like Ayala Avenue :P), sudden deeps crevices and steep inclines. Hold on tightly to the jeep but be careful not to hit the jeep, you might get bruised. We met an Aeta community on one of the mountains and it was overlooking the mountains of Zambales.

Once you returned to the Pinatubo SPA town, you can take a shower at Php100 per head. It's an option but you might want to consider since you will feel like polvoron after the trip. There is a sari-sari store across the street in case you need toiletries. We bought 7-up the moment we got back due to thirst! :P

The entire trip costs Php1500 per head and includes a 4x4 ride (old route), your lunch, the entrance fee, and local guide fee. You may contact them at 0928-3410402.

Driving Directions:
Take NLEX all the way to Sta. Ines exit, from here drive through the town of Mabalacat, Pampanga. Turn right going to Pan-Philippine Highway (McArthur Highway), there might be some detours in Mabalacat so you might have to ask for directions if needed. Go straight until you reach Capas Town Market, you're now in Sto. Rosario. Look out for signs on the right side of the road leading to Capas National Shrine. Turn right on that street heading towards Capas Cemetery. Some 2km is a fork in the road, just keep right, this road will lead you to the Pinatubo SPA.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

heads up!

photo care of wikipedia
photo care of www.raftingcdo.com

CDO - Camiguin....here we come :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008


My uncle and cousin has been enthusiastically sharing about this place and their food since Christmas to me. "It's a great restaurant for a date!" Though unfortunately, Lis has second thoughts since it looked expensive.. ala TGIF..somehow, I got her to agree to spend Valentines here..since we like trying restaurants all the time. Oh and that we had several "free/discount" coupons that time :D

We had reservations ( as always just to make sure.. :) ) 8pm for Feb 16 (yep, we didn't join the fuss of feb14, the traffic and crowd) at The Block. We had to pick up Val's dress for her prom first tho.. Unfortunately at Trinoma.. hehehe.. We were a bit late but thanks to great service, we got settled at once anyway :)

Did I mention good service? Yes, it really was. Well, not as good as with 5-star hotels, but here in Manila, you would know the difference. The place had an ambiance perfect for barkadas and family gatherings. You'd feel the warmth of the place the moment you entered the doors :)

We ordered their best seller - Seafood Jambalaya. It's seafood paella with a twist.. :) perhaps because of the "Southern United States feel" (aka Texas, Alabama, Mississippi area). I like our home made paellas, Dulcinea's paella, but promise, you would make second thoughts ordering this dish.

The im-famous fish and chips. American restos will never be complete with out this dish :) but what makes Gumbo different from others? To be honest, i've only tasted two kinds of fish and chips :) one from TGIF, and this one. Gumbo's dip is exquisite. It kinda has the strong taste of garlic with the subtle aroma and flavor of lemon. What more could you ask for? The fish is cooked well too.. though it was a bit salty..
For some reason, I couldn't really remember why we had the All-Meat Extravaganza Pizza...All i could remember was the greatness of the dish... The spices were overwhelming. With all the food I've eaten already, I still manage to swallow 4 slices... I literally couldn't help get another slice after a slice... Still, nothing beats Brooklyn White Cheese Pizza :D or Amici's Al Quattro Formagi (four cheese) :D

Guess how much our total bill was (with two drinks)? 800. But of course, we had the fish and chips for free...hehe.. but, say that we had to pay for it also, it would be still worth it. :) This is our kind of restaurant :) A+ comfort food :)