Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Taal Trek Experience (Tagytay/ Batangas)

Hello! If you haven't seen my first post about our Tagaytay Roadtrip, click HERE

So it's now our 2nd day in Tagaytay and we dedicated this day to our Taal trek.

First off, all Taal trek tours start in Talisay, Batangas.You can go there either coming from Picnic Grove area or in the Tagaytay-Batangas area.

We pre-paid our trek with the Taal Yacht Club at P1,900 for 5 persons. If you don't pay beforehand, they'll charge you P2,200. Also, companions not part of the trek will have to pay an entrance fee of P100 per head, but we were able to successfully haggle. And another good news, the trip was supposedly for 5pax only, but the caretaker allowed us to add another person because of the good weather.

Tours usually cost P1,500 but we happily agreed to pay the additional amount for the use of their amenities (shower room, clean comfort rooms, and nipa hut). Crazily, our group expected yachts to welcome us but apparently, yachts come and go from the place but park in other clubs. 

Upon reaching the island, a lot of locals will try to sell you bottled water (P30) and face mask (P15), or maybe have you rent a sombrero. They will also try to convince you to use a horse for the whole trek (P500). Apparently, there are a lot of horses in the community which they use for their chores/ livelihood. So watch your steps carefully, there are a lot of horse poop!
Warning: The ground is dusty/ sandy so you might want to use closed shoes/ rubber shoes.

At first, you see a lot of grass and trees. but as you go to the top, it becomes hotter and more barren.
Check out the stations of the cross.
And steam coming out of the rocks!

On top of the crater, there are souvenir items for sale. But BEWARE-- a small bottled water now costs P50, as well as halo-halo, buko, or a small soda bottle. We had to buy because we ran out of supplies, so better go up with lots and lots of hydration even if it's gonna be heavy.

The view on top of the crater was beautiful! Too bad they're charging additional P50 to see the red rocks formation. And I was hoping that I could swim in the crater but nobody told me that the trail we got (Regular Trail) is too far from the crater itself. I guess the more expensive tours go to the crater so better ask your guide for the trail that would suit your wants.

After appreciating the view, we headed downhill and back to the Club. We were able to finish the whole trek from 7:00am to 11:00am. Just in time for lunch because we're hungry!

P.S. If you have extra money to spend, try the town's specialty fish Maliputo which lives only in the Taal Lake. If you buy it per kilo, it will cost you around P700. (Les Montilla, Cherry Tadeo, Editha Buendia, Jenina Pulumbarit, Chrissdale Gagan-Lipit)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

15 Things to do While on a Tagaytay Daytrip/ Roadtrip

My office mates decided to have our team building in Tagaytay.

But let's face it, there aren't that much to do in Tagaytay except for trekking, eating, and enjoying the cool weather. So the challenge is to come up with an itinerary that would maximize our time and budget.

We left Makati at around 7:00 am and (with minimal traffic) arrived at the city proper by 9:00 am.

Here are the places we went to:

1) KOREAN TEMPLE (Entrance Fee: FREE)

This is located along Silang Road (the road before you reach town proper). Just look for the "Korean Temple" sign to your right. Once you enter the street, it will take some 5 minutes more. The place is very relaxing. Quiet and windy. Lots of trees and places to sit down. Perfect for meditation.

After the temple (or around 15 minutes later), you'd reach the city market (to your right) and Econo Inn (to your front), and you will have to choose between the left road which leads to Picnic Grove and People's Park in the Sky OR the right road which leads to everything else. Of course we went right.

2) MUSHROOM BURGER (Price: P90-200)

Better get your mushroom burgers here because their other branch in Katipunan is now closed. Check out their mushroom fries!


After Mushroom Burger, we went straight to the end of Tagaytay nearing Batangas because the sun was too harsh for strolling in Sky Ranch.

So you'll pass Residence Inn (which is an old zoo) to your left, Casino Filipino to your right, and Splendido to your left-- then you'll know that you have to watch out for the Sonya's Garden sign to your right.

Don't forget to stop by their bakery! Their cookies are good! 


Back in the main road, you'd reach a "Welcome to Nasugbu" arc. It's time to watch out for a huge subdivision-like-entrance to your left (slightly uphill and without any signage) and turn left there. It will take about 10 minutes to reach the church.

You'll have to pay P30 to get in and they would give you a map of the area. When we reached the Church (which is mid-way), we didn't explore further but I suggest that you do because there is a hanging bridge, japanese garden, more chapels, a "grand staircase", koi ponds, etc.

5) FANTASY WORLD IN LEMERY, BATANGAS (Entrance Fee: P1,000.00 for a group of 10 even if you're going alone (for non-members) and P100.00 per head (if with a member), although members get to bring 4 more guests in for free)
Over a decade ago, Fantasy World aimed to be the first theme park in the Philippines which would be exclusive to members and their guests. However, for unknown reasons, operations stopped and the once lively castle has turned into a lonely one with its faded colors and empty halls. 

Anyway, with your entrance fee, you could roam around the premises, have picnic with your family and/or friends, or take a swim in their pool. If you want privacy, you got it here!

After this, we headed back to Tagaytay. But if you still have time, you can also check out Casa Corazon's Motorcycle Museum (if you love motorcycles!) and the Taal Heritage Park-- which I THINK are near the area because both are in Lemery. Better ask around because I only came to know of those places after the trip.

6) MAHOGANY MARKET (Price: P350 for their bulalo, good for 3 persons; P300 for their sisig, also good for 3)

Mahogany Market offers you fresh but really cheap meat, fruits, garden plants, and pasalubongs.We ate at Len's Kitchen and their bulalo and sisig were love at first taste! We loved their food (which comes with unlimited bananas and barako coffee) and we couldn't stop talking about it. We even ate there again for lunch the following day!

P.S. If you're used to the old location, they're not there anymore because they transferred to the second floor of a new building (which holds the meat section)

7) TAAL VISTA TAGAYTAY (Entrance Fee: P50 per head to view)

Brought to you by Henry Sy, et al., Taal Vista gives you a good view of Taal volcano. But if you've already gotten a good look at it, no need to go here. Unless you want your photo taken with the hotel itself.

After Taal Vista, you can go to Sky Ranch although they have an entrance fee of around P100. So if you're not going to try their rides (which are P50 to P100 per ride, per person), then I suggest that you don't go there anymore because aside from that you only get to see Manila-based restaurants.

AAAAND, that's that. We finished our whole road trip by 4:30pm.

From Taal Vista, you can go back home or you can consider other nearby places like:
8) Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm (check their schedule for walk-ins)
9) Puzzle Mansion (I heard their entrance fee is expensive!)
10) Picnic Grove (not much to see if you have little time because the good views are located at the back and will take some minutes of walking)
11) People's Park in the Sky a.k.a. Palace in the Sky (which is an unfinished mansion for the Marcoses)
13) Zoos like the new Paradizoo or the classic Residence Inn

14) Don't forget to also try Bag of Beans and the beautifully-situated Starbucks for some Tagaytay-coffee experience. LOL.

15) Before heading home, buy your pasalubongs at Good Shepherd (all the way from Baguio!) and your pies from Loumar's or Rowena's (I prefer the pies and tarts of Loumar, but Rowena, being more mainstream, offers more choices).

For us, we had to stay because of our Taal Trek the next day (different blog post). :)

[Credits to Les Montilla, Cherry Tadeo, and Jenina Pulumbarit for the photos]

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cookie Butter vs. Red Velvet Pancakes @ Pancake House

I saw Pancake House's Designer Pancakes on a billboard and I wanted to try it as soon as possible. I have never tried the Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter before-- ugh, always out of stock. And I just love Red Velvet. I've tried different, numerous Red Velvets and I know which ones are good and which aren't.

So I invited my office mates to try the two with me. This blog post shall then be about...

The Cookie Butter Pancake was faaaaaar from what I expected (peg: billboard photo). I know I shouldn't be surprised but I was just disappointed. Come on! I expected Cookie Butter to ooze from its layers. That's what the billboard photo says! Plus they used mini-pancakes. Didn't look like mini-pancakes in the billboard too.

So well anyway, I could only taste the pancakes. Those bland fluffy flour cakes that don't have much taste except when topped with butter and syrup. That generous amount of Cookie Butter on top? That was incredibly yummy! No wonder people are going gaga over an overpriced Cookie Butter jar. Surely, it could have tasted better if they used more Cookie Butter. 

For the Red Velvet, well--- I liked it better just because it had taste. The chocolate chips were bittersweet and present in every bite. It added flavor and strength to the (red) pancakes which I liked but my office mates didn't like.The white frosting on top was good too. It was light and partly sweet, partly sour (which I believe a good Red Velvet frosting should be! Not that sweet, vanilla-ish type). The walnuts added a twist (and better than the cinnamon and corn flakes used in the Cookie Butter pancakes).

So if I had to choose between them, it would be the Red Velvet because it had more taste, more value for the money, and was more fulfilling to the stomach. My office mates agree!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mr. Kurosawa (Euro-Japanese) @ Resorts World Manila

It's rare that my family and I go to Resorts World Manila. But since we met someone at the airport, we headed straight to RWM after. At first we had a difficult time choosing where to eat because the restaurants were kind of limited (grouped only at the 6th and 2nd floor I think) and pricey.

Anyway, we chose Mr. Kurosawa solely because we were convinced by the waiters outside that their dishes were for sharing.

But they were not. They were small even for one person. Their menu was nothing out of the ordinary although of course I have yet to taste them (baka naman bumawi sa tatse). Buuut as to what we ordered, they similarly tasted like food in other Japanese restaurants.

That was the Tuna Sashimi for P229.

Wagyu Fried Rice for P299. And yes those are real Wagyu bits-- soft, tender, tasty-- but limited.

Aaaand, the Sizzling Salmon for P338. This I love because the Salmon bits were rich and juicy, I could still taste it even after eating. Although while eating this dish, I remembered what I ate before from Sumo Sam (Sizzling Kani only for P188) and I'd have to say that they offered me the same taste (and even dining) experience.

P.S. They also served Tonkatsu but I think I would still have to go for Yabu in terms of price, taste, and quantity. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

B1G8 retreat coming up!

Every year, we have this singles reatreat in church called the B1G retreat or "Be One with God" and well, it's really BIG with 1,000 participants every year. Everyone's invited even those not from CCF sooo, it's really  exciting to get to know a lot of people and then of course to know God too :)

Last year was my FIRST B1G retreat and I was welcomed with people who I now consider my truest and closest friends. I've been attending CCF FOR ALL MY LIFE but it was only during B1G that I got to get up close with people from my church and actually hang out with them even after the retreat.

Aside from the wonderful, amazing people that I've met, I finally was able to let go of a (for lack of a less excruciating word) heartbreak that happened that same year. During the retreat, we were given every morning to just relax, walk around the area, and pray alone. It was a wonderful feeling after just having a one-on-one with God and to release all my qualms and concerns to Him. (Indeed, 1 Peter 5:7-- Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you)

The messages were helpful too. Last year our theme was "Find Rest" and we focused on Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The whole thing was just a relief-- a rest from the "hustle and bustle", and the juggling of family, friends, love, and career. Sometimes we get so busy and preoccupied that the best thing to do is to take a step back from it all before they swallow us.

After each message, we met in small groups (around 5-6 per group) where we discussed the messages and thought of ways to apply it. During the process, we shared ideas, personal stories, struggles, frustrations, dreams, wants, and so we had meaningful conversations to know ourselves and each other more. 

Then of course, the games! It was an Amazing Race type of game where groups competed for prizes. Everyone was so into winning that made it all better-- and funner!:)) But for those who didn't want to join the games, it was free time so others used the hotel facilities like the swimming pools, courts, etc.
Then our last night was about laughing, music, and dancing. The emcees were super funny and they asked for our participation from time to time. Everyone was just hyped! We slept around 3am! :))

So this year, I am very excited as B1G happens again on November 23-25, 2012 at Hotel Stotsenberg, Clark, Pampanga. The fee is P3,950 inclusive of  transportation, hotel lodging, retreat materials, buffet food, and FUN that's worth every cent. :) 

I encourage everyone to register to experience a weekend like no other! First timers are very welcome and much much appreciated!

Reg booths are found every Sunday at the CCF, 5/F and 4/F St. Francis Square (at the back of SM Megamall, Mega A) or you can register online at Registration closes on November 11 (Sunday) so I hope you can join us. :) 
Learn more!
Twitter: @BeOnewithGod
Facebook: B1G Ministry 

Check out also our video advertisements! :)
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vikings Buffet @ Mall Of Asia

I totally forgot to blog about our Vikings Buffet experience in Mall of Asia (MOA). Our whole Office Division ate their two weeks ago. The Vikings Buffet just offers so much variety that it was really a challenge for me to come up and organize all the details.

But I will try to recall everything.

It was a weekday and it was lunch time, so we got the P688. I don't know if food choices from our lunch buffet would differ from the dinner buffet. Anyway, the other Vikings Buffet prices in MOA are as follows:
We sat inside the "glass room" with a large TV that played a football game. First station that I saw from there was the sushi, soup, and dimsum bar.

I'm so glad they had my favorites: Chawanmushi (egg custard) and Hakaw (shrimp dumpling). I'm not a fan of sushi though during buffets because they fill up my stomach fast.

Then there are the "food on sticks" like kebab and our version of street food:

And they have lots of seafood choices like baked scallops, and fresh fish and shrimp that you could cook in a hot pot or ask the Vikings in-house cooks to have it grilled for you:

Then they also have the staples of the West like salad, bread, pasta, and pizza. The salad and bread have so many choices of what you could put in, like fruits, nuts, and all sorts of dressings or spread.
 The pasta and pizza have their own "stations" since the in-house cooks will prepare them for you on the spot. So you get to choose which ingredients to put or not to put.

*Catches breath* So. Many. Photos. Anyway, there were also other "ready-to-eat" (meaning, you don't have to mix and match anymore) entrées so you could just get rice and then your choice of their great tasting ulams.

So now let us move on to my favorite part-- desserts! But since there are just too many photos of the desserts, I'll just post one photo then just describe the rest in words. Haha. #fail
GRABE! Their dessert bar is the best! They have halo-halo, chocolate and strawberry fondue, cakes, cupcakes, CHEESE CAKES, flavored jellies, unlimited ice cream and FROZEN YOGURT, different kinds of cereals, gummy stuff like sour tapes, gummy worms, gummy rings, crepe! oh my gosh! I have to post my crepe picture:

HAHA. Then we have unlimited beer too, fresh fruits, fruit shakes, varied juices, coffees, teas, and the Pinoy loved sago't gulaman and malalagkit desserts like bibingka, kutsinta, etc.

It's heaven, really. What I loved is that Vikings banked on having many and efficient in-house cooks and food preparers that makes your experience very customized for you and you alone. Each one would truly have a different experience. Staff is very nice and they always ask you your preferences or for comments.

The place is big but becomes cramped during peak hours. To enjoy all the food, come early for lunch or dinner to get a head start before the whole crowd comes in. Apparently then, WE were the CROWD. :))
Love you all to bits! Until next time!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Barbara's @ Intramuros

Dining at Barbara's is a buffet experience unlike any other.

Well okay... their buffet had limited choices and I can't say that I liked all the dishes, but the place is lovely and the ambiance is romantic. Before spotting Barbara's you could already feel the "antique" vibe of Intramuros having brick roads and Spanish-themed buildings.
There's my blurry mom. We had a date. Fun. ♥

Going inside, we see dark, heavy, and elegant wood furniture all around. We were greeted with very, very, very (I had to say it 3 times to refer to the superlative) friendly, accommodating staff.

Inside Barbara's was festive and cheerful since they had a cultural dance show that showcases the talent of Barbara's staff in so many ways. Some were playing local instruments (like the rondallas and bandurrias) while others danced a lot of variations but of course I remember Tinikling and Pandanggo sa Ilaw.

The cultural show lasted for around 2 hours, then after that waiters would get people from the audience to dance the Tinikling with them. It was fun watching oblivious but "game-na-game" diners learning how to dance. Like I said, the waiters were very friendly. "Smiling waiters" would be an understatement. They were--- errr, bungingis. But in a good way. They're actually contagious. That's why we were all so happy. HAHA.

After audience interaction, the dancers sit on the floor where you can get your pictures taken with them. Still bungisngis after the tiring show.

And so that is why I loved this experience-- More on the service and presentation because if I'd only look at the food, a lot of buffet restaurants would surely defeat them. For P545/ person, they only had rice, pancit bihon, roasted chicken, lumpiang shanghai, fish fillet, beef pares, chicken adobo, vegetable salad, and some desserts. My favorites are the beef pares and fish fillet. Really tasty! Anyway, I also had hot cranberry  tea for P60. Refreshing!

So there. My mom and I stayed a bit longer than usual. Bonding. Yay! We were talking of coming back. And yes we will! Surely with foreigners next time! :))) Bet they will enjoy learning about the Filipino culture thru Barbara's music and dance. :)

FACT: Barbara's is owned by Ms. Barbara G. de los Santos the sister of Dick Gordon and the mother of JC de los Reyes (both presidential candidates last 2010 elections) :)