Archive for February, 2015

Last summer, I was finally able to visit the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan. Along with six other friends from work, we boarded a bus bound for Alaminos and sat through a 5-hour long drive. After a simple silog breakfast at a restaurant near the Public Market, we jumped on a tricyle that would take us to our chosen accommodation – Maxine by The Sea.

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After changing into our swimming clothes, we walked to Lucap Wharf to rent out a boat for our whole day Island Hopping Tour. We chose a Medium Service Boat for Phph1,800 and paid Php20 per head at the Tourist Information Center. While waiting for our boatmen, we saw other boats and tourists getting ready to sail out.

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For this entry, I am not going to talk about our island stops just yet. Instead, I will just share with you some photos I took of the (unidentifiable) islands that we saw while in the middle of the sea.

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I noticed that some of the islets look like mini versions of Coron’s rock formations. Way smaller but beautiful, nonetheless.

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This island looks like a great place to just sunbathe and pass the time. Look at that mound of white, fine sand. It looks so soft and inviting!

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I was getting antsy seeing these islands from afar. I couldn’t wait to dock in one of them, and jump into the clear blue waters.

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I will share our first stop (Governor’s Island) in my next post. I could have condensed our Pangasinan trip into one long post but decided to chop it up into shorter separate posts so you could appreciate their individual beauty. A little anticipation never hurt anyone, right?

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Anyone who has ever been to Baguio most probably have already visited Wright Park. It is commonly known as that place in Baguio where one can ride a pink-haired horse.

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It is also well-known for its “pool of pines” which is not meant for swimming but rather a long walkway with a well manicured garden and towering pine trees along its far sides. Unfortunately, the flowers were not in bloom when I visited but the yellow flowers peppering the “pool” were still pretty.

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All over the park are peddlers selling all sorts of local fruits and novelty souvenirs. I passed up on the touristy key chains but the enticing Sagada oranges were too sweet to resist. I got a couple of pieces which I had for breakfast the next day.

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Climbing down more than a hundred stone steps, I came across some elderly Igorots decked in traditional clothing. But I was more interested with these cute kids posing for their parents as they rock them colorful woven garbs. So precious!

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Going further down the stairs, my nose began to twitch at the smell of horse manure. I’m not really into horses so after a few snaps, I moved on.

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The entrance near the horses’ stables is lined with vendors selling succulents and a whole lot of other plants. This is where I went trigger happy and snapped at the lovely flowers on display. I was seriously mulling over buying a few pots but decided against it when I realized that I will have to lug all of them all around. I just contented myself with the photos I took instead.

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To be quite honest, I didn’t find Wright Park too interesting. There really isn’t that much to do aside from riding the horses. However, I still think it is worth a visit if you’re in the area anyway.

Seri Fantasy World is a gallery of 3-dimensional art painted freehand by (apparently) famous Korean artists. Basically, it is full of interactive paintings that gives out a 3D optical illusions when photographed with. I visited the museum a while back with some of my girl friends and I am gonna share with you some of my favorite snaps below.

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Welcome to Seriland!

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Ren posing with the giant mushrooms before we enter the museum

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Giant bear (???) guarding the entrance

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Two modern Filipinas with a Dalagang Pilipina. LOL my captions are ridiculous!

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Lorraine and I tending to our carabaos

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Lorraine catching a falling watermelon while I take a selfie with the vain farmer

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Gotcha!

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Oopsie!!!

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Abby and Lorraine petting a tiny dog

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While I get flown away by a giant eagle

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Falling off the wagon

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Ren helping out a fisherman with his catch

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ROAR!

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Hmmmmm… Abby and I thinking where in the Philippines should we go next

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Peeling off Mona Lisa

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ET phone home

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Waiting for the bus with Forrest Gump

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SHARK!!!

Outside the Trick Eye Museum is a little Bear Museum and a Kid’s Play Area.

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We also checked out the very short Mirror Maze. It was very short, but fun nonetheless.

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We really had a great afternoon at the Seri Fantasy World Trick Eye Museum and I would love to go back again to check out if there are newly installed artworks.

One thing I noticed is there really isn’t that much Singaporean restaurants here in the Philippines. Not that I am a fan of Singaporean food or anything, aside from the infamous chicken rice which I don’t think is of pure Singaporean origin. But I’m really just rambling now because there’s no specific reason why my friends and I chose to eat here. We were honestly just looking for something new and we saw that Sentosa was not crowded, and if you know me and my friends, we kinda hate crowded places. Again, I’m rambling…

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For our appetizer, we went for the Roti Canai (Php130). It was good but the serving is really stingy. I mean just a measly piece of flatbread for more than a hundred bucks? I say it’s a ripoff. Such a shame too because it was really delicious.

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For our soup, we had the Tom Yum Goong (Php295). It was nicely flavored but there were only three small shrimps in it. What’s up with that? LOL. Good thing there was only three of us, but what if there was another person there? Would they have added another shrimp in there? Or would one of us miss out o a shrimp altogether? Haha the things I think about.

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We also ordered the Grilled Stuffed Squid (Phph350). It was overcooked and the stuffing was not really good. I’ve had better grilled squid from a carinderia. At a much cheaper price, too!

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And the biggest rip off of the meal. I couldn’t even find the name of this in their published menu but I think it was around Php200, maybe they pulled it out already (hopefully) LOL. It was some sort of green beans sauteed with ground pork and red bell pepper. Eh?!? Basta it was not good! The string beans were waaaay undercooked and the combination with the bell pepper made it all taste weird.

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My first time at Sentosa was a fail. But maybe I would go back if just for the Roti. And then maybe I’ll throw in an order of Singaporean Chicken. Worth a second chance, I guess.

Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa is located in Marinduque, Philippines. The island could be accessed directly via private helicopters. There are also chartered flights and luxury yachts from Manila to Marinduque. Our group however took the cheaper route and hopped on a commercial flight to mainland Marinduque.

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From the airport, we were transferred to the town of Lipata, where Bellarocca is located. Our flight was delayed by a few hours but the guest service staff were patiently waiting with water, cold towels, and our private vans when we arrived.

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After around 40 minutes, we arrived at the marina where we got to have our first view of Bellarocca which literally translates to “Beautiful Rock”. One could immediately see the resemblance of the design to Santorini.

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We then had to board a speed boat for a brief 5-minute ride to the island. On the dock were more hotel staff waiting for our arrival. We were welcomed with a beautiful local song and leis made out of indigenous materials.

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Then we were whisked off on a golf cart to the resort’s front desk where a refreshing drink (and more cold towels) await us. A personnel gave a short briefing of the island and its amenities, and which amenities come free with our accommodation.

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After the orientation, we were led to our rooms where a personal note and fruit platter welcomed us. We were in four separate rooms and I was bunking with Anna. I loved our bed, especially the soft pillows.

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After settling down, we went to the restaurant to have our lunch. While waiting for our food to be served, we wandered around and checked out the entertainment area. We played a couple rounds of intense Foosball until our hands felt bare from all the twisting and turning. We also saw DVDs that are free for guests to borrow – I got a copy of The Beach as I actually haven’t gotten around to finishing that movie.

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Soon after, we went back to the restaurant for our lunch. Every meal at Bellarocca starts off with their bread rolls which we loved so much, but sadly I do not have a photo of. I shared the grilled seafood platter with Neri and it filled us up nicely. The food in the resort is priced higher than usual restaurants but that is to be expected in a luxury resort.

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After our lunch, we jumped back on the golf carts (no, we didn’t get to drive 😦 ) for a tour of the island and other private villas. We stopped at a villa where John Lloyd Cruz apparently stayed before. It had its own private pool with a sweeping view of the surrounding water. I especially loved the bathroom which is equipped with a jacuzzi. Fancy!

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We moved on to the seaside swimming pool where lots of water activities could be availed. We mostly just checked out what it had to offer and planned to go back the next day.

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We circled back to the hotel and decided to swim in the lap pool while having a drink and some chips. We were hoping to catch the sunset but failed terribly because the view was obstructed by the hotel LOL. The sky was pretty though.

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When it got cold and dark, we retired to our own rooms to wash up for dinner. The restaurant is beautifully lit at night. I cannot find other food photos so I do not remember exactly what we had. But I’m sure we still enjoyed the rolls haha. After dinner, we convened in one room and played charades til wee hours of the morning.

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The next day, we asked to be dropped off at the seaside pool where we lounged and swam to our hearts’ content. We also asked our lunch to be served at the seaside pavilion so we do not have to drive to the hotel restaurant and back to the pool again. After siesta and some drinks, we kayaked and snorkeled until we got all wrinkly from staying in the water for so long.

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As if that was not enough physical activity, we decided to climb up the highest point of the island. At this point, two of our friends begged off and retired to their room to rest instead.

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Our dinner was an indulgence because it was our last main meal in the island. We had a repeat of the delicious Crispy Pata which we loved during lunch and a number of other dishes (incomplete photos again).

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After dinner, we retired to the cigar room for some drinks and karaoke! There were two other groups when we got there which was quite a surprise since we barely ran into other guests during our stay. Guess everybody loves karaoke, eh?

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The next morning, we had to bid our goodbyes to the beautiful island and the very attentive hotel staff. A group of staff event sent us off with their now familiar friendly waves.

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I loved our brief stay at Bellarocca and if given the chance (and budget), I would go back to the island in an instant.

Tampopo is a fairly new franchise that combines both ramen and tonkatsu in their menu. This is a rather interesting twist as we are used to having restaurants that specialize in just tonkatsu or just ramen only.

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They have quite an extensive menu because they actually offer two types of ramen – Hokkaido and Kyushu. Hokkaido has thick and chewy noodles while Kyushu has noodles that are thin and hard. They also have a selection of additional toppings if you are keen.

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They offer a choice of getting “normal” Premium US Pork or the Top Grade Black Pig for your katsu. The Black Pig has higher fat content, so I assume it is tastier and more tender than the leaner variety.

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Each table has condiments available – togarashi, chili oil, cabbage salad dressing and tonkatsu sauce. As with Yabu, they let you grind the sesame for your dipping sauce when you order a katsu. I noticed though that Yabu’s sesame sauce is more fragrant than Tampopo’s.

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Before I proceed to the food though, let me show you a photo of the usual Friday lunch-out gang. We all work under one team but Nerisse already left the company so it’s just the three of us now (Allan, Alen and me).

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Alen was meeting her boyfriend for lunch that day so she just got the Potato Salad (Php120) as an appetizer. I had a little taste and I must say that it was quite tasty. The potato was creamy and not at all grainy, and I love the apparent taste of onion.

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Both Allan and Nerisse got the Tampopo Deluxe Black Pig Shabu Ramen (Php420). They asked the chili to be served on-the-side as they don’t take spice that well. I read somewhere that the broth has been simmered for two days, wow! Allan finished up all the noodles but still had lots of broth left in his bowl. Hmmmmm…

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I had the Tampopo Premium Tonkatsu Ramen (Phph380) and I was quite impressed with the serving size. This is the perfect dish when you just can’t decide whether to indulge on ramen or katsu, best of both worlds! The milky broth had the perfect heat in it, spiced just right.

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The pork is very lean but it was not dry. The breading was fine and crisp, I heard they use a special Hokkaido bread crumb to coat their meats.

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I didn’t get to finish my bowl of ramen as the serving was really generous. I was quite impressed with Tampopo’s food that I requested a repeat visit a few weeks later. The food is delicious and it’s relatively cheap compared to other ramen and katsu places. Definitely a bang for your buck! 🙂