Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tingko Beach, How Do I Love (or Hate) Thee?

Tingko Beach is a public beach located 94 kilometers south of Cebu City. Tingko beach, how do I love (or hate) thee? Let me count the ways.

How do I love thee?
  1. Located by the highway, it's very easy to find.
  2. It's free. Or we may unknowingly have dodged the fee collector (a friend who has been to Tingko beach told me that a fee of Php10-20 pesos is collected).
  3. For a public beach, the water is clear.
  4. There are no seawalls dividing properties.
  5. Trash bins are provided.
  6. Camping is allowed.
  7. There are rooms to rent if you don't like camping.
  8. There is a food establishment.
  9. Tables and chairs are available.
  10. There are toilets and showers.

How do I hate thee?
  1. Located by the highway, the resorts and cottages are very near the water.
  2. If it's a public beach, and therefore free for use by the public, why do they say an entrance fee is collected? (A friend who has been to Tingko beach told me that a fee of Php10-20 pesos is collected)
  3. When the tide is high, the shoreline gets narrower (see point number one).
  4. When the tide is high, the shoreline gets narrower and shorter (see point number one).
  5. Trash bins are provided, but some people still litter.
  6. Camping is allowed for a fee.
  7. Rooms/cottages for overnight stay don't go below Php1000. For a public beach, I'd have thought there'd be rooms for as low as Php500 (wishful thinking by my thrifty self).
  8. There is a food establishment that's dollar-rate. Php68 for a can of tuna? Php30 for a pack of pancit canton? Better bring your own food.
  9. Tables and chairs are available for a fee. At Voda Krasna Beach Resort, a table can be rented for Php500 (haha, I thought for Php500 I could get a room at this beach)... and limited to four persons only. Extra person will be charged Php80.
  10. Toilets and showers at Antig 2 can be used for Php25 (understandable since they have to pay for water, too). Toilets and showers at Voda Krasna Beach Resort, if you're renting a table from them, can be used for free. But the water line sucks. You could still have some shampoo on your head and eyes and the shower dies.

Looks like nothing is free anymore. Tingko Beach, either you love it or hate it.

How to go to Tingko Beach in Alcoy:
At the South Bus Terminal, take a bus bound for Oslob or Bato. Let the bus conductor know you want to be dropped off at Tingko Beach in Alcoy; they know where it is. The trip takes two hours with a fare of Php115 for an air-conditioned Sunrays bus.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Roadside Halo-halo

How do you combat the sweltering summer heat?
1. Hide in a room with the air conditioner on full blast
2. Soak in a tub filled with ice cold water
3. Eat halo-halo

Tip number one shoots your electricity bill sky high. Tip number two does the same to your water bill. Tip number three... now that's pocket friendly.


Lita's Special Halo-halo and Snack Haus. This humble roadside snack house in Lilo-an indeed has some good halo-halo hiding behind its dusty facade. Where else can you get halo-halo packed with so many ingredients and topped with two scoops of ice cream for just Php40?!

When I went to get my dose of halo-halo, they were making two dozens, some for to go.
I had to wait my turn. Lita's halo-halo must be really good.

Pieces of sweetened banana, strips of nangka (jackfruit), melon, coconut, spoonfuls of sago (tapioca balls), gulaman (jelly), nata de coco, cornflakes, boiled kidney beans, a shot of milk, and two scoops of ice cream of my choice — it was a joyous party in my mouth!

Want a party in your mouth, too? Here's a map (from Google maps) to help you find your way.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Q&A: Babe for Food

I can count on one hand the number of food blogs I frequent. One of them is Babe for Food. Here's a quickie Q&A with Babe for Food.

Name? Justinne Lou Go
Why "Babe for Food"? I'm a baboy for food. Hihi! Thought of Babe in the City, the movie. Um... okay. Not much connection there. Basta, it was the first (silly) thing that popped in my head and I just wanted to start blogging already so I didn't bother about my name so much. 
Why do you blog? I want to share to tourists and fellow Cebuanos about great places to dine away from the malls in Cebu, and to share my food adventures, too. Cebu is a gastronomic treasure waiting to be discovered by the world! And the best way to know Cebu is to eat your way around it. 
What's a world without food? A world without food would be a world full of dead and rotten people, animals, plants, etc. Haha. Food is life! Whether you like it or not!  
Where would you take a first timer in Cebu to eat? Abaseria is the place to be for tourists in Cebu! It's a homey resto and deli that houses delicacies from all over the Philippines and some native handicrafts and accessories. 
If you have to eat the same food everyday for the rest of your life, what food would that be? Strawberry is my favorite fruit but if you don't consider that food, it'd take me a while to get sick of lechon manok. It's different from roast chicken! Trust me! I used to (coz I need to diet now) finish a whole lechon manok all by myself. With mounds and mounds of steaming white rice. :))

Do you also have five (or more... or less) simple (or not so simple) questions for Babe for Food? If you do, write 'em in the comments section below and I will bug Babe for Food to answer them all!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Birds with One Stone at Tops

Born in Cebu. Grew up in Cebu. Still living in Cebu. But coming up with ideas on where to bring a first time visitor is still a mind-boggling task. Back in the day, when my parents had visitors over, they'd bring them to Tops. Now, when I have visitors over, Tops doesn't cross my mind. One, because I am too chicken to drive to Tops. Two, I hesitate to plant visitors on a habalhabal (motorcycle) and have them delivered to Tops (oh, the dangers on two wheels—this coming from a mustache that's been on a habalhabal countless times).

So why was I at Tops just recently? When Ryo, a fellow traveler we adopted in Vietnam, informed me that he was visiting Cebu for a weekend, he requested to go to Tops. To grant Ryo his wish, I gathered some friends and threw away my qualms (about planting Ryo on a habalhabal). It turns out two of my friends have never been to Tops, too. So we were hitting three birds with one stone.

Photo by Ryo S.

From the mouths of two birds (the third bird I was not able to ask):
Why did you want to go to Tops? What were your expectations?
Ryo: Because the Tops is written in the Japanese guide book as a famous spot where I can see the beautiful night view. That's why I wanted to go there. I wanted to see the view.
Ron: I didn't expect that much since I heard from people that it's really not that grand except for the panoramic view of the city. I was just excited because I have never been there and I'm a Cebuano and all. 

How was your experience there?
Ryo: Because I like seeing the nice view, I thought it was really beautiful. If your friends like to see the view, you should take them to Tops. And the wind was so comfortable when I was taking a habalhabal. (laughs)
Ron: My experience? The city looked like a bunch of fire flies dancing. The moon was at its full strength to add to the view. I like the cold temperature. When I reached Tops, it felt like it's a prize and I deserved it since it has been humid in the city.

Tops, 610 meters above sea level, offers a panoramic view of the city with Mactan island in the background. It is best to go there at night to see all the city lights twinkling (though I think there are other spots in Busay where you can have the same view for free; the entrance fee at Tops is a whopping Php100). Fireworks in the city as seen from Tops will look like an ant colony's fireworks display. At Tops, there are shops on the left side selling snacks and drinks and on the right side are tables where you can have a little picnic. Just bring food and drinks if you shudder at the thought of overpriced food and drinks.

Tops is in Busay, about 12 kilometers from JY Square Mall in Salinas Drive, Lahug, where the habalhabals (motorcycles) congregate, waiting for passengers. The habalhabal fare is Php100 per motorcycle (only two passengers maximum; that's Php50 per head). When you get to Tops, if your driver's looking for extra cash, he might say he will charge extra for waiting. You don't have to have him wait for you; there are many motorcycles at Tops or the security guard at Tops can always call one for you. Insist on the fare and fare only, no waiting fees.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Revenge of the Hikers: Picobello Ristorante Italiano

I burned too many calories during the three-day hike up and down Mt. Apo that eating-all-I-can crabs wasn't enough. I was craving for pizza the next day. I speed-texted Davao-based friends and friends who have been to Davao asking for a recommendation. The majority's choice? Picobello Ristorante Italiano.

We speed-walked it to Gaisano Grand Citimall, just a block from where we were staying. I eagerly pressed the mall elevator's up button. At the fifth level, the entire floor looked abandoned with boarded up sections. But a few steps away, I spot Picobello Ristorante Italiano and was welcomed by this sign:

I checked my watch. It read 4:50PM. Ten minutes to go! We hurried in, picked a seat, and quickly flipped to the pizza section of the menu. In three minutes, we had placed an order for two pizzas and a drink: Quattro Stagioni pizza, Dell'Ortolano pizza, and a glass of their special iced tea.

One for me and one for you

Their ten-inch diameter pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired brick oven.  We didn't have to wait too long for our Quattro Stagioni pizza and Dell'Ortolano pizza. The Quattro Stagioni had mushrooms, artichoke, ham, anchovies, capers, and olives. The Dell'Ortolano had zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and mushroom. I liked the Quattro Stagioni because it had most of the toppings I love: artichoke, capers, olives. Dell'Ortolano was also a good choice. Vegetarians would go for this, I am sure. What made their iced tea special? Lychees!

A tall glass of special iced tea and a big bottle of Tabasco sauce

As evidenced by their six-page menu, Picobello not only makes pizza but other Italian dishes as well. I wish we had Picobello (and their buy one get one pizza) in Cebu.

Picobello Ristorante Italiano
5F Gaisano Grand Citimall, Duterte St., Davao City
(082) 235 3417 / 235 3418

UPDATE May 2015:
Picobello Ristorante Italiano
2F, The Shoppes at Woodlane, Davao City
Daily 11AM - 10PM

How we packed on Picobello pizzas and unpacked our pockets:
Quattro Stagioni Php 315
Dell'Ortolano free
Special iced tea Php 85

Mt. Apo in Two Parts:
The Ups and Downs of Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo Itinerary

Revenge of the Hikers:
Picobello Ristorante Italiano (you're here!)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Revenge of the Hikers: Let's Crab Eat

In the four hours spent descending Mt. Apo, these thoughts looped through my head: One foot in front of the other. Big meal in Davao City. One foot in front of the other. Big meal in Davao City.

Upon reaching the city, we freshened up as fast as we could, then hailed a taxi so we could Crab Eat! (I don't usually take a taxi but I couldn't risk wasting time looking for the place and I just had to get my revenge quick!)

I was expecting everything on Let's Crab Eat's buffet to be crabs. I was wrong. Let's Crab Eat not only offered crabs, but fish, shrimp, meat, pasta, vegetables, soup, salad, fruits, and sweets, too. I don't know if I should be disappointed or not (crabs! I wanted all crabs!). With this spread for Php395 per head (not including drinks), maybe it's not so bad... I think I will zero in on the crabs and shrimps.

I zeroed in on the shrimps and crabs. I did.

I had a bit of everything but I think I ate more than Php395 worth of crabs and shrimps. Yes, it was good. Tasty. Fresh. A happy, crab-and-shrimp-stuffed stomach walked out of Let's Crab Eat's door!

Let's Crab Eat!
F. Torres St., Davao City
(082) 282 2722

How this eat-all-I-can retaliation bore a hole in Mustachio's pocket:
Buffet Php 395
Iced tea Php 45
Taxi from D' Counter Dormitory to Let's Crab Eat Php 58

Mt. Apo in Two Parts:
The Ups and Downs of Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo Itinerary

Revenge of the Hikers:
Let's Crab Eat (you're here!)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mt Apo Itinerary

Mt. Apo

Vital Stats
  • 2954 meters above sea level
  • Highest mountain in the Philippines
  • Bordered by the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato
  • Kapatagan (Davao del Sur)
  • Sibulan (Davao del Sur)
  • Kidapawan (North Cotabato)
  • Magpet (North Cotabato)

Sibulan-Kapatagan trail map
Photo from Pinoy Mountaineer

November 1-3, 2012

Day 1
0730 ETA Cebu
0835 ETA Davao City
1000 ETD Davao City by bus
1130 ETA Digos City
1145 Depart Digos for Brgy Kapatagan by habalhabal (motorcycle)
1245 ETA Brgy Kapatagan. Lunch. Buy last minute supplies.
1320 Depart for Sitio Baruring by habalhabal (motorcycle)
1340 ETA Sitio Baruring
1400 Start trek
1700 ETA Emergency Camp
1815 ETA Tinikaran Camp 1
1945 Dinner

Day 2
0600 Wake up
0700 Breakfast
0800 Start ascent to summit via Boulders
0900 ETA Tinikaran Camp 2
0930 ETA Boulders
1245 Lunch before final assault
1330 ETA Crater
1400 Summit
1415 Start descent back to Tinikaran Camp 1
1815 ETA Tinikaran Camp 1
1945 Dinner

Day 3
0600 Wake up
0700 Breakfast
0800 Break camp
0830 Start descent to Sitio Baruring
1130 Lunch and shower at porter's house
1400 Resume trek to Sitio Baruring
1500 ETA Sitio Baruring
1515 Depart Sitio Baruring by habalhabal (motorcycle)
1615 ETA Digos City
1715 ETD Digos City by bus
1845 ETA Davao City

Digos City Terminal where we took a bus to Davao City

Package availed from:
Mt. Apo Adventures
Engr. Albert C. Gabriel
0919 314 2117

Included in the Package
sleeping bag
cook set

Things to Bring
completed Climb Application and Waiver (forms will be provided by the tour operator)
medical certificate
trail food
medicine/first aid kit
mess kit
lightweight utensils
water bottle
trash bag
headlamp and extra batteries
wet wipes
construction gloves
hiking shoes

Mt. Apo in Two Parts:
The Ups and Downs of Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo Itinerary (you're here!)

Revenge of the Hikers:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Mt. Apo

Last November 2012, two old-legged people went to Davao to climb the highest mountain in the Philippines. These old-legged people were Mustachio and Mustachia, from here on referred to as "we".

We availed of a package from Mt Apo Adventures. The package included a guide, a porter, permits, transportation, all camp meals, tent, sleeping bag, and one night accommodation in Davao City. All we needed to prepare for the trip were our trail food, ourselves, and our pockets. It was recommended to jog for thirty minutes daily for three weeks. We followed the recommendation...somewhat—we did 25-minute walks plus 5-minute jogs three times a week (MWF) for three weeks, and not religiously.


The day came to put the partially prepared legs to the test. Arnold, our guide, met us at the Davao airport. From the airport, we stopped by D' Counter Dormitory to leave our bikinis and boardshorts—things we didn't need for the climb.

Ecoland Terminal in Davao City

Still with heavy packs, we headed to Ecoland Terminal to ride a bus to Digos City. An hour and a half from Ecoland Terminal, we stopped short of the "Welcome to the Lion City of Digos" sign. A motorcycle had been arranged to meet us there.

Overly securing the bags

We would take an hour-long motorcycle ride to Brgy. Kapatagan. The driver overly secured our packs on the sides of the bike, making sure it won't fall, knowing it was no smooth ride ahead. With the spaces on the sides occupied, our legs had nowhere to go but up—or whatever leg position might deem less uncomfortable. My position looked exactly like this:

Yes, like this for an hour. With only a two-minute break in between.
(Photo from YouTube)

It was a guide-driver-and-two-hikers sandwich ride. We reached Brgy. Kapatagan with sore butts and dead legs. It was lunch time, so we entered the nearest eatery where we had our last real meal for the next two days.

We had our last real meal at Travelers Fastfood

Brgy. Kapatagan is your last chance to obtain supplies

After lunch, it's another (agonizing) bike ride to Sitio Baruring. Fortunately, this time it's just twenty minutes of agony. Sitio Baruring is the jump off point for the trek.

On our way to the jump off

Last stop on wheels: Sitio Baruring

At the jump-off point, you can rearrange your pack, take out items you're too lazy to bring and pass it on to the porter or whoever has a lighter load. Load sharing is important since each of us has a different carrying capacity. For the leisure-oriented climbers, just bring your water and camera, leave your shame and refrigerator bags with the frail porters (like what a group of climbers did).

Refrigerator bags

Arnold leading the way, as what guides should do

Ten minutes into the hike

Along the road, we saw fields of carrots, peppers, and other vegetables. Farmers were seen tending and harvesting their crops. There were also farm animals, like water buffaloes, cows, and horses, tethered in the fields.

Spot the Carabao

Fields of green

Farmers and peppers

The rain came and went that week, and it was drizzling on and off that day. The trails were muddy, and most were as deep as five feet. Tramping from locals with their cows and horses have created a trench out of the trail.

From trail to trench

There's a last stopover at a local porter's house — the house of Junjun, our porter. There you can buy some snacks, use the toilet, and rest a bit.

The last stopover

Junjun's pet dog

After a short break, we resumed our hike. It was already 3PM and we were still a three-hour walk away from Tinikaran Camp 1. The way to camp was mostly under the shade of trees.

Catching up with other warm bodies at the emergency camp

Our four-person team caught up with the refrigerator group at the emergency camp and were soon walking within sight of other warm bodies under the fading light. Junjun, the person with the heaviest load in our group, was the fastest walker and soon disappeared in the gloom. We reached Tinikaran Camp 1 with headlamps in full power and were happily surprised with tents all set up and ready for crawling in.

Tinikaran Camp 1 in the morning light of the second day

The Mountaineer's Creed... fill in the peeled parts.

The water source in Tinikaran Camp 1

Trash near the water source :-(

There was nothing left to do but have dinner. Though a menu was set, it was never followed.

 Dinner of dried fish and pork adobo

I had the flu days preceding the climb and was feeling better at the start of the trip. At the end of day one, the fever came back and we decided to ditch the plan of doing a traverse. After dinner, it was time to hit the sack and try to will the fever away. We would still try to summit on the morrow.


We had decided to do a backtrail and so left camp to ascend with small packs on our back, with just water, trail food, lunch, headlamps (in case darkness catches up to us later), and a camera.

We set off at 8AM. From Camp 1 it is an hour's steep hike to Camp 2. Camp 2 has a soft green mossy carpet that made me want to roll on it.

The green carpet of Camp 2

But there was no time for rolling. After catching our breath, we started again. In ten minutes, we were out of the forest cover and were greeted by the beginnings of the boulder trail. This marks the beginning of five hours of scaling boulders with many breaks in between.

Start of the boulder trail (left) and a sulfur vent (right)

We slowly climbed our way up boulder by boulder and stopped from time to time to take in the view, smell the sulfur, look at the plants, and pop some wild berries into our mouth.

Flowers and berries along the way

We cautiously picked our way up the boulders, careful not to fall in the cracks, not to slip on loose rocks, not to cause rocks to roll down and hit somebody who is trailing behind. We were also on the look out for monkeys. Monkeys are sometimes sighted hanging around the boulders and could chase you all the way down or up, whichever way you prefer to go. Fortunately, the monkeys we saw were a long way off, on another ridge, too far to give our pace a boost.

The refrigerator group's porter slowly making his way up the boulders

Sending a text message from the boulders

The boulder face is a trickster. The summit seems within reach, but as we get nearer, new walls of large rocks resurface. What we expected as the summit turned out to be another stair of boulders that we have to scale up again to reach another pseudo summit. I had several "are we there yet" moments. 

Are we there yet?

It was cold and windy as we approached the ascent just before the crater. It was almost 1PM and we were hungry. We looked for a big enough boulder that could shield us from the wind and leave us to eat our lunch without the wind blowing morsels of rice away.

Refueling with lunch before the final assault

Forty minutes later, we reach the crater. On dry days, the crater is devoid of water and you could see from above names spelled with rocks made by previous climbers.

The crater

From above

We summited at 2PM. Six hours since we left camp. Clouds obscured the view and we waited and willed for a clearing. And a clearing appeared for just a few seconds. I was happy being there. Not because we reached the summit, but because there was no other way up, and trekking down is the only option. That means being back to the flat lands where it's, undoubtedly, more comfortable.

To the summit in the fog

The foggy view from the peak

Kids aren't afraid of the cold; shorts and a sweater will do. Arnold is afraid of the cold.

Now you see it, now you don't

After fifteen minutes on the summit, we decided to go back. The descent on the boulders was harder than the ascent. Harder on the knees. It would take four hours down with Mustachia's wobbly knees and short legs.

The light was fading and we were still among boulders. Mustachia confessed that she was praying over and over that we reach the woods before it turned dark. Better to walk in the woods than step over crevices and scramble down boulders in the dark. With relief, we entered the woods just as the darkness crept in. From then on, our legs were in auto mode — we were anxious to get back to camp.

As soon as we reached camp, Mustachia consumed three liters of cold, cold water. And I, with my fever in full throttle, gave in to medicine.

Water. Dinner. Medicine. Lights out. And the sound of rain drumming on our tent.


We took it slow on the third day. Woke up at 7AM. Ate breakfast. Broke camp. Cleaned up as best we could by taking all the trash we could find. And unhurriedly made our way back to Sitio Baruring.

Where our tent used to be

It was a gray day. The rain came and made the soft earth muddy and slippery. Our unhurried pace slowed down to a crawl, fortunately giving us more time to take in the great scenery.


Good bye Mt. Apo!

Thank you Arnold (guide) and Junjun (porter)!

The Downs of Mt. Apo:
  • Trash was evident on the trails. Food wrappers and cigarette butts, though not heaps, should never be tossed about carelessly. When asked about the trash, our guide responded "The locals will just pick it up every cleanup." This irked me, knowing that this "clean-up-after" attitude is being used as an alibi to commit an offense that is very much avoidable in the first place. Also, it's a shame that we give unfair responsibilities to the locals. What happened to the Leave No Trace principle?
  • The lure of getting paid carrying bags is strong, especially on kids. Junjun, our porter, quit school to help his family. I only knew of this on our last day. While seated comfortably at Junjun's house, I asked if I could take a look at the photo albums lined up on a shelf. There I saw a younger Junjun with medals dangling on his neck. Yes, this kid is an academic achiever. There are many "Junjuns" in this guide-porter business. How about scholarship grants dedicated to children of guides/porters, instead of constructing a stairway to Mt. Apo?
  • Vegetable farms are inching closer to supposedly protected areas. The same situation happens in all our mountains—farmers expanding their land, hoping to generate more crops.

How this helluva climb bore a helluva hole in Mustachio's pocket:
Package Php 5500 (Php 6000 if traverse)

Mt. Apo in Two Parts:
The Ups and Downs of Mt. Apo (you're here!)
Mt. Apo Itinerary

Revenge of the Hikers: