Monday, March 30, 2015

What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y nueve

If Manila has Divisoria, we have this!
Spotted along the national highway in Liloan, Cebu

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Adding Another Favorite Japanese Restaurant: Sachi

ML Quezon Avenue, Cabancalan, Mandaue City, Cebu
0925 500 9752

Lunch 11AM to 2PM, Monday to Saturday only
Dinner 5PM to 10PM, Daily

Photo from Sachi's facebook page

Click to enlarge

I used to have two favorite Japanese restaurants in Cebu, now there are three. The third, Sachi, is a young one, having just opened last November 2014. And the reasons why Sachi made it to my favorites?
1. It's just in my neighborhood. (I admit, not a good reason for those living in Cebu City or Lapu–Lapu City.)
2. I love their okonomiyaki, a Japanese "pancake" or "pizza" made of cabbage and pork and/or squid, because it isn't drowned in sauce and mayo. I specifically like Sachi's pork and squid okonomiyaki.
3. For just Php 160, I can have a bowl of tender and tasty pork teriyaki with rice and a bowl of miso soup, too.
4. Sachi uses Japanese rice. (Which is kind of bad because Japanese rice is so yummy, I am bound to eat more.)
5. If the craving for ramen strikes, Sachi's shoyu ramen would nip it in the bud. The chashu (pork) is tender and the noodles is not overcooked.
6. Sachi makes their own ramen noodles.
7. Sachi offers oishii and affordable Japanese food.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Three-In-One Plus One in Busay

Let's start off with
Plus One
aka exercise

This little journey up the mountain in the city of Cebu was the result of cancelled out-of-town plans and the crazy idea to exercise. Crazy because I have very lazy bones which shows in my perfectly rotund physique.

But I found a way to be a little less crazy: we would take the jeepney (route 04H), which Google tells me stops just a little less than two kilometers before the turn off for Mountain View, then our exercise would just be a short 30–minute uphill hike.

Right. The jeepney we rode took us only up to Plaza Housing, which was three kilometers short of our expectations. And so we trudged uphill full of energy that slowly drained with the strengthening sun. One hour and 3.5 kilometers along, we must have looked so pitiful that a jeepney (of the same route number but was going straight to Bonbon, a little farther than Busay) stopped and asked where we were going. We happily hopped on, of course.


From the main road, where the jeepney had let us off, we walked uphill for some 250 meters. Our first stop was this trending, still under construction, gargantuan "temple" called Temple of Leah. Only to be greeted by this sign:

Thank you for coming indeed!!!


No amount of pleading could let us in. So, thank YOU, Temple of Leah, for making us exercise, with no reward, except a very big appetite. I am positive your neighbor, Lantaw Restaurant, would only be so happy to let us in.

Busay, Cebu City
(032) 511 0379 / 0933 950 5323 / 0927 315 1735 / 0999 850 2684
Daily 11AM to 11PM

(032) 514 2959 / 0923 652 2270 / 0999 850 2707
Daily 10AM to 10PM

(032) 512 7745 / 0943 363 1862 / 0908 624 8711 / 0927 576 8711
Daily 11AM to 11PM

Yup, Lantaw sure welcomed us even if we were 30 minutes too early. It must have been our hungry looks that made them think we would be good customers. And good customers we were. We spent Php 345 each (x5 persons) for a heavy, yummy, Filipino lunch! Everything was palatable. Or were we just too hungry??? (As Carlo Collodi wrote in his book, Pinocchio: "Hunger is the best cook.") No, I think it was enjoyable, especially the sisig and the pancit canton. And the view and the slight breeze were a bonus.

Top row: Utan Bisaya, Pancit Canton, Baked Scallops
Second row: Sisig, Crispy Pata (large)
Bottom: Lantaw Halo-halo, Cordova Cooler, Banana Turon

Click to enlarge

After we have more than made up for all the calories we lost on the hike up, we decided to stretch our legs and climb over the wall to go to Mountain View Nature's Park (0917 631 2520 / (032) 316 5992 / (032) 316 4336 / 0923 484 9960). But we couldn't lift ourselves over the wall, our stomachs were too heavy. We had to go back down the steep Lantaw Restaurant driveway, go up the not-as-steep road to Mountain View admission booth, be honest citizens and pay the Php 50 entrance fee.

From the main entrance to the highest point of the park, where the huge cross is, we climbed the 400+ steps, stopping a few times in between to wipe the sweat off our brows. It was shaded by trees and plants along the way, and there were tables and chairs that visitors could use at no extra charge, fan and air-conditioned rooms for overnight stays (Php 600 to Php 2500), a rope course (9AM to 6PM; Php 150 per person; must wear closed shoes), an obstacle course, snack and refreshment stands, and clean toilets.

Rope course

Obstacle course just below the rope course

On the way down, we hiked along the road to see other areas of the park: more tables and chairs, toilets, rooms, a videoke room, a restaurant (Monday to Friday 6PM to 10PM, Saturday to Sunday and holidays 11AM to 10PM), a swimming pool (Monday to Friday 9AM to 6PM, Saturday to Sunday and holidays 8AM to 9PM; Php 75 for those below 3.5 ft in height / Php 100 for those 3.5 ft and above in height), and function rooms for events (Php 500 to Php 5000). Plus a refreshing breeze, tons of fresh air, and a view of the city from just about any point in the park.

Hello Cebu City

I wanted to try the rope course but was too tired from all the uphill walking. (Excuses. Excuses.) The next time I'll go back, I'll skip the Plus One (aka 5 km uphill hike) and take a habalhabal (motorcycle) from JY Square (Php 50/pax if two passengers or Php 75 if only one passenger); or, if I can convince a bunch of my friends to go with me, book Mountain View's shuttle service (9AM to 8PM only; pickup point is McDonald's JY Square), which will cost Php 400 for up to 10 persons (add Php 40 for each additional person); or, if I'm lucky, catch a jeepney that goes straight to Bonbon (which doesn't come too often).

How my wallet was exorcised of money because of this attempt to exercise:
Jeepney from JY Square to Plaza Housing Php 10
Uphill hike from Plaza Housing to somewhere Php 50 worth of fat
Jeepney from where we were spotted to turn off for Mountain View Php 10
250 m uphill hike to Temple of Leah Php No Sweat
Uphill hike to Lantaw Php Gutom
Lunch at Lantaw Php 345 each (Haha! Gibawi ang gi-exercise!)
Mountain View Nature's Park entrance fee Php 50
500ml bottled water Php 30
Jeepney from turn off for Mountain View to JY Square Php 10 (lucky a jeepney approached just as we arrived on the main road)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Where and What We Ate in Batangas

Taal Bistro
Calle A. Delas Alas, Taal
(043) 408 0029

All we wanted to try in Taal was their tapa (tapa is usually beef, but in Taal, it's pork). We wanted to find one for lunch in the market but the tricycle driver brought us to Taal Bistro, telling us we won't find cooked tapang Taal in the market.

I liked Taal Bistro's tapang Taal—tender and garlicky, I could have eaten it all by myself with a cup or two of rice—but found it a bit expensive.

Crab & Corn Soup Php 180, Ensaladang Taal Php 150, Tapang Taal Php 250

Renfel Fastfood
Brgy. Sabang, Lipa City

Banay Banay Crossing, Lipa City
Old Bus Stop, Lipa City

When I asked my friend what was the specialty in his province, he said lomi (thick egg noodles). Lomi? Sounds so ordinary. But the lomi in Batangas really is different (no veggies here) and tastier than the lomi I know. Plus it's got hunks of meat toppings. Now, what is chami (see rightmost photo)? It's lomi with substantially less soup.

Chicken Lomi Php 80, Liver Lomi Php 75, Beef Chami Php 80

Star Tollway Exit, Brgy. Tambo, Lipa City

Another Batangas specialty my friend mentioned was the bulalo. We settled for the first bulalo place we found: Japong's. Curious if their bulalo was any different from the bulalo I've had at home and in other places... well, no, it still tasted like any other bulalo I've had. But, that's not to say I didn't like it. The meat fell off the bones and the soup was slurp-worthy (we finished the entire bowl). Oh, and the tapa here is beef, definitely not tapang Taal (because we are in Lipa, hehe).

Spicy Tapa Silog Php 65, Bulalo Php 300

D' Lover's Line Bibingka
Old City Hall Compound, B Morada Avenue, Lipa City

Bibingka Php 17
Bibingka with salted egg Php 20
Bibingka with kesong keso (cheese) Php 20
Special Bibingka (with salted egg and cheese) Php 23

Here's a place in Lipa City my friend excitedly took us to: D' Lover's Line Bibingka. He frequents this little roadside hut for their freshly cooked and very affordable bibingka. The bibingka is served with a steaming cup (or two or three—refill is free) of salabat (ginger tea).

Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
What and What We Ate in Batangas (you're here!)

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church

As if we haven't had enough of old houses, churches, and tons of history, we spent our remaining hours in Batangas roaming around the city of Lipa.

Photo from

(aka Luz–Katigbak Ancestral House)
Rizal St., Lipa City
Daily 9AM to 5PM
Admission fee Php 50

Casa de Segunda was built in the 1880s, damaged in 1942 during the war, remodeled in 1956, and restored in 1996. The house is named after Segunda Solis Katigbak, considered to be Jose Rizal's first love.

Segunda Solis Katigbak was born in 1863 to parents Don Norberto Kalaw Katigbak, the gobernadorcillo from 1862 to 1863, and Doña Justa Metra Solis. It was while Segunda was studying in Colegio de la Concordia (now called Concordia College) in Santa Ana, Manila, that a schoolmate, Olympia Rizal, invited her to a party where Segunda met Olympia's brother, Jose Rizal. The 16-year-old Rizal was so taken by the 14-year-old Segunda, that he sent her flowers, poems, and sketches. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be for Segunda was engaged to Manuel Luz, who the Katigbak family favored because the family wanted her to marry a local man (Manuel Luz was from Lipa, Batangas and Rizal was from Calamba, Laguna). Segunda married Manuel in 1879, at the tender age of 16!

San Sebastian Cathedral
(aka Lipa Cathedral)
CM Recto Avenue, Lipa City

The San Sebastian Cathedral in Lipa, Batangas was built in 1779 and completed in 1894—that's more than a hundred years in the making! Only to be damaged 50 years later, by the second world war. Restoration work began in the 1950s. And another 50 years later, more work was put into the church to prevent deterioration. This day it stands proud with a fresh coat of paint of two colors, and inside even more colors. The paintings on the ceiling, walls, and columns and the grand pipe organ (the only one in Batangas, and one of 59 in the Philippines) were what caught my eye when I entered San Sebastian Cathedral.

(aka Monastery of Carmel of Our Lady Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace)
P. Torres St., Lipa City

The visit to Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church came as an afterthought. It was when we were in Casa de Segunda that I saw a page in a book that had rose petals (either a photo or pressed petals, memory fails me) and something about a miracle written below it that my Batangueño friend remembered about the miracle in Mt Carmel Church.

Photo from

We didn't go inside the church, but went straight to the place overlooking the garden where the miracle was said to have happened. It was September 1948 that in this garden the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a Carmelite postulant named Teresita Castillo. In September, October, and November of the same year, there were showers of rose petals around the Carmelite Monastery. In 1951 the local Catholic Church declared it a hoax and kept the statue of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace away from the public. In 1991, a shower of rose petals was again experienced in Carmelite Monastery. The following year, Monsignor Mariano Gaviola, the archbishop of Lipa at that time, ordered the statue of Our Lady of Mediatrix of All Grace be brought out for public veneration.

The story of the miracle can be found here.

Photo by Ramon F Velasquez / Wikimedia Commons

Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church (you're here!)
Where and What We Ate in Batangas

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon

Photo from
Time was not our friend on day two. From Caleruega, we bypassed Laurel and went to Tagaytay for a short break. Laurel was put off for the next day. I am glad we did, for it gave us more time to spend at the two waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas Falls and Ambon–Ambon Falls.

On the third day, when the alarm went off, I slipped on my sandals, went to my friend's house next door for breakfast, and then we were off. I noticed my friend was wearing shoes...were we on for a long hike to the waterfalls? Just a short 20–minute hike, he assured me.

At the jump–off, where the tricycle had deposited us, we were told that it was easy to find Malagaslas Falls: we would cross a bridge and then cross the same river thrice.

Indeed, we crossed a bridge. And at the first river crossing, I stopped at the water's edge, turned to my friend, eyed his shoes, and asked him, "Are you sure?" With a smug look on his face, "These are waterproof." Two steps into the river and, poof!, waterproof no more. His shoes were absolutely waterproof...up to four inches of water! (Evil laugh!) He eventually took off his shoes, went barefoot and an ouch–ouch–ouch with every step, all the way to the waterfalls (the path was covered with tiny pebbles) .

We found Malagaslas Falls not quite deserted. It was a Monday and there was a group of men occupying one of the wooden tables, drinking and chatting. Much as we wanted to cool down in the shallow basins of Malagaslas Falls, the afternoon was turning gloomy, so we decided to find Ambon–Ambon Falls before it rained.

Malagaslas Falls

After another easy 15–minute hike (easy if you have footwear, not so easy for my friend who was barefoot), we heard nothing but water, and saw the upper half of Ambon–Ambon Falls; the lower half was obscured by huge boulders.

Nothing could stop my two friends from going farther to see Ambon–Ambon Falls' basin and its full height. One tried to scale a boulder...unsuccessfully. And one made like Legolas over the log. The one who had unsuccessfully scaled the boulder, tried to be an elf, but was more like a dwarf and so scooted over the length of the log on his behind. I was the bumbling, unadventurous hobbit who chose to stay behind.

Ambon–Ambon Falls
Scale the boulder or do a balancing act on the log (left) to see
the basin and the lower half (right) of Ambon–Ambon Falls

While waiting for my friends, I listened: there was only the sound of water and silence. I looked around, observed: the way we had come from was bounded by cliffs on both sides and was blanketed in shadows cast by the trees above. In the shadows, I imagined Gollum crawling over the boulders. Silence and shadows are not good for me.

Hello Gollum

My thoughts were interrupted by the voices of my friends who had come back from their quick exploration. The gray sky prompted us to head back to Malagaslas Falls and spend the rest of our time there.

Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon (you're here!)
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
Where and What We Ate in Batangas

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wisdom from the Road #25

On checking in for a flight
Web check–in.
Self check–in kiosks.
Use it.

When web check–in is offered, use it. If traffic is bad on your way to the airport, you don't have to worry about making it before the check–in counter closes... you only have to worry about making it for boarding.

When web check–in is offered but you have no access to the internet, worry about making it to the airport before the check–in counter closes. If you find yourself at the end of a mile long queue for the check–in counter, propel yourself toward the self check–in kiosks—which, in the Philippines, is usually devoid of any queues.

For more lessons from the road, please visit Go Learn.