Saturday, March 31, 2012

Techie Travel, Useful Iphone Applications on the Road

Having started driving for two years, I cannot count the number of times my phone has helped navigate to places I've never been and breeze through the traffic in Metro Manila.

Before I go through the applications I am using, I would like to enumerate the essentials of a techie motorist in manila and going on a road trip.

1. You need to make sure your car is always in good condition. Regularly have your gas, air, oil and water checked.  Make sure you have a spare tire and tools in hand should you need it.  Also keep important numbers stored in your phone in case of emergency.

My Car Chager for Iphone
2. Internet Connection.  Almost all applications run using the Internet so its best that you have uninterrupted service especially during long travels.  Most of the country is 3G covered so you just need to be ale to connect to it.  Cell phone companies now offer flexible options for unlimited service depending on the number of days.

3. Charged Battery.  This is both for your car and your gadget.  I always keep an Iphone car charger with me when I'm driving.  Since I am connected 24/7, it uses up a lot of my battery life.  With the car charger, I can use the idle time driving to load up on battery life to take pictures, calls and browse on stopovers.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Shawarma Snack Center, A Taste of Middle East in Manila

When I was still in college, I remember passing by this snack shop whenever I would go to Robinsons Place from school.  I would always get off from the jeep at the corner of M.H. Del Pilar St. and R. Salas St. to get to the Adriatico entrance of the mall.

I still remember the smell of the savory beef vertically grilled for their shawarma.  Back then, I felt intimidated since it was always full of foreigners.

A few years back, me and a friend of mine were becoming more adventurous with the food we eat.  We got bored of the usual offerings of the restaurants in the malls and decided to try food from the different international communities in Metro Manila.  Finally , we had the chance to visit Shawarma Snack Center in Malate.

Roasted Chicken with Arabic Rice

It comes with pickled vegetables, and soup for two.
Right along the street is the Shawarma stand and the grill for their Kebabs.  There's also trays containing prepared middle eastern dishes, usually the days specialty not included in the menu, so be sure to check them on your visit.

The menu is mostly kebabs of chicken, beef and lamb with a variety of breads, and side dishes.  They also have youhgurt and the tea is a definite must try.

On our last visit, we had the Shawarma, and tried the roasted chicken with arabic rice.  Initially we thought it was expensive for the price of 250 php, but the serving was good for two.  It contained half chicken over a generous bed of arabic rice.  It's best eaten which the garlic dip and the chili sauce.  Just be careful on how much chili you add to your meals, too much heat can numb your taste buds.

Things To Do And See In The Philippines - Ilocos Sur

Before I move on to another region, I need to take time to make sure I have covered the majority of Region I.  This very important landmark is one of the significant entry I have missed out.  

I'm sure I will still add more as this project moves forward, especially with Metro Manila, but this is a work in progress, suggestions and comments are deeply appreciated.

68. The Asunta Parish Church (Sta Maria Church)
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The Sta. Maria Church in the Archdiocese of Nueva Segivia in the Province of Ilocos Sur is the most magnificiently located of all the churches in Ilocandia. Perched strategically on top of a hill, it provides a panoramic view from which one can enjoy and survey the most delightful sight for miles whether looking at the blue China sea or into the verdant paddy fields of the valley, the surrounding seven hills, the coastal plains of the town, and Cordillera mountain ranges. It is approached by three broad stairways – one from the eastern side where lies a now abandoned cemetery with a quaint chapel, another from the southwest side at the back of the church and the main stairway with 83 steps from  the northwest side.
The church fa├žade itself is not too impressive, being blocked from view by the convent. It has three openings and one blind niche. But its rose-tinted stonework is worth a second look. So are the Moorish floral an foliate designs around the recesses. The recessed arched entrance is flanked by a pair of rectangular pier framed by heavy circular buttresses that end up in urn-like finials. The svelte octagonal bell tower nearby seems a stark contrast to the church’s simple and massive structure. The church measures 75.15 m. long (90 varas) and 14.19 m. wide (17 varas). The bells arrived in 1811.
The parish was established in 25 April 1765 with the first baptismal record signed in 1767. it served as a station of the Augustinian missionaries in 1822 on their way to evangelize Abra. The first parish priest was Fray Jose Cuadrado, OSA. The original Ermita of the small village once known simply as Purok was in the sitio of Bulbulala in Barangay Maynganay Norte. It started as visita of Narvacan. As the community grew, a twin chapel was built at the center of the town in the present Poblacion. This if the rarity in Philippine colonial architecture. The southern chapel was dedicated  to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the northern chapel was dedicated to Senor Sto. Kristo. These chapels were located just at the foot of the hill where the present church was built  which replicated both in the bigger scale. The construction of the church begun in 1810 apparently in the obeisance to the wishes of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose image, dating back to 1769, would periodically be found there at the foot of a large guava tree growing right at the spot where the main altar now stands. This God fearing community deemed it wise to follow the heavenly hint and transferred the church on top of the hill where it now dominates the surrounding countryside like fortress with brick buttresses and thick ramparts. The fortification and cemetery was the work of Fray Lorenzo Rodriguez, OSA, in 1863. Fray Benigno Fernandez, OSA, built the convent in 1880. on this shrine, the Virgin Mary serves as a perennial beacon and guide to her children in the Ilocos where she is known not only as Apo Asunta or Asuncion but also as Apo Caridad, Apo Esperanza, Apo Carmen, Apo Rosario and La Immaculada Concepcion.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Things To Do And See In The Philippines, Pangasinan (62-67)

62. Kayak or Island Hopping at the Hundred Island National Park

63. Snorkel and check-out the giant clams of Silaki Island

64. Enjoy the sun and sand of Patar Beach in Bolinao

65. Sample the Boneless Bangus

66. Check out the Lighthouse of Bolinao

67. Go on a pilgrimage to the Our Lady of Manaoag
68. Swim at the Bolinao Falls


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oceana, A Gastronomic Gem in SM MOA

The first I saw this restaurant was during a fun run along the bay area of the SM Mall of Asia.  I saw the posters of their brunch buffet but I finished the run early and could not wait for another 3 hours until they open.

Today we had the opportunity to visit the establishment.  We were not able to try out their Brunch Buffet since it was late in the afternoon.  Instead we tried out their Ala Carte Selections.

The white interiors reflect the ocean concept with blue as the accent color.  The walls were made interesting through the lighting and the back-lighted damask cutout on walls.  It's a culinary art school, restaurant and event place in one.

The all glass walls provides an unobstructed view of Manila Bay, and the buildings along Roxas Boulevard are spectacular during the sunset and night time.

We tried one of their Lenten Specials, the Cereal Prawns and Chili Pesto Pasta.  For 550 pesos, it comes with unlimited drinks, soup, salad and appetizers.

The prawns were perfectly cooked and the heat from the chili pasta was subtle.  The soup was good, but the 3 appetizers were great.
Cereal Prawns with Chili Pesto Pasta
Chicken Pate with Crustini
Mushroom and Tofu Appetizer and
the Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Another reason to come back to Oceana would be their Unlimited Cakes and Coffee for only 200 pesos.  They have 7 cakes to choose from, perfect for a lazy afternoon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Aling Edios Panciteria, Balanga Bataan

A popular merienda place among the locals, Aling Edios Palabok is definitely a must try when visiting Balanga, Bataan.

The place is modest with a few tables, and on one side, the kitchen where you can actually see Aling Edios  preparing her popular specialty.

Except for the noodles, everything is made from scratch even the pork cracklings.  Try to come early in the afternoon to guarantee yourself a serving.

It is best complemented with another of their specialty, the PUTO.

How to get there? Just ask any tricycle from town to take you to the Panciteria.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things To Do And See In The Philippines, Ilocos Sur (52-61)

52. Have Vigan Empanada and Okoy at Plaza Burgos

53. Travel Back in Time at the Heritage Village (Meztiso District)

1000 Things To Do And See In The Philippines - Ilocos Norte (30-51)

The numbering on this Map, does not correspond to the numbers in my list.  The Map shows the convenient route to take in touring Ilocos Norte from Manila to Laoag Airport, then to an accomodation in Saud Beach, Pagudpud.  The tour starts North of Saud going South to the direction of Vigan.  I intend to connect this map to my Ilocos Sur entry.

30. Watch the Sunset in Saud Beach, Pagudpud.  I just stated, watch since the waves at Saud can be really rough that swimming can be a challenge.  I remember rolling a few times along the shore during my last visit.

31. Trek and Swim at Kabigan Waterfalls.  (Pagudpud)  The next five including this one, is included in the Pagudpud tour itinerary.  If you hire a tricycle, you will see these spots laminated in their passenger car.  If your a group of more than 4, its best that you hire a van.  The price is just a little more than hiring two tricycles but its more comfortable and you get to your destination faster.  Kabigan falls would require a short trek, about 30 - 45 minutes and they will charge an environmental fee.  A guide is also needed.  early summer is the best time to visit, since the water flow becomes less during dry season.

32. Roadkill Picture at Patapat Viaduct.  
Patapat Viaduct is a scenic coastal bridge that connects Ilocos Norte to the Cagayan Valley Region.  There's nothing much to do in this are than admire the scenery and take pictures.  Challenge yourself by doing creative shots.  Some of my friends did planking, but I did a roadkill shot.  Just be mindful of the passing vehicles.
33. Bantay Abot Caves
Bantay abot cave is not really a cave but a hill that was wrecked by an earthquake in the 80's leaving a hole in the middle. The top of the cave is covered with lush green vegetation thus adding the beauty of the cave. To get to the interior of the cave, one need to go down a few concrete staircase and a rocky part going up to the hole.

From the inside of the hole one can see the blue waters of Maira-ira beach or Blue Lagoon and on the other side of the hole is the Timangtang Rock - a bell-shaped rocked in the coast of Barangay Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Apart from the view, one could also enjoy the melodious sound of the swallow birds chirping and the echoing waves as it hits the shore.

34. Blue Lagoon Cove, Maira-ira Beach
The beach here is so much better than that in Saud with very few visitors.  I suggest spending an entire afternoon here, especially when the water is calm, unless you enjoy rolling with the waves.
The waves can be rough but definitely fun!

35. Bangui Windmills
The Bangui Windmills are located in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The windmills, officially referred to as the NorthWind Bangui Bay Project, were a project by the NorthWind Development Corporation as a practice renewable energy sources and to help reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The project is the first “Wind Farm” in the Philippines consisting of wind turbines on-shore facing the South China Sea and considered to be the biggest in Southeast Asia. The project sells electricity to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC) and provides 40% of the power requirements of Ilocos Norte via Transco Laoag. 

36. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Also known as, Faro Cabo Cape Bojeador, this lighthouse stands majestically on a hill in Burgos, 35 meters north of Laoag City, overlooking the South China Sea. It is known for being the highest lighthouse in the Philippines that is still functioning since its completion on March 30, 1892. Originally, the design and construction of this lighthouse was following that of Engineer Magin Pers y Pers', but was later reconfigured and finished by Engineer Guillermo Brockman. This octagonally-shaped tower has the same mechanism found in other lighthouses of its time. It has a winding machine with a counter weight which enables the lenses of the lantern to rotate. Normally, it takes about an hour before the lenses complete their full rotation. To date, the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse still gives signals to passing ships along the Cape. 
Taken in 2011
My first visit 2008

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

1000 Things To Do and See In The Philippines - La Union 26-29

26. Visit Ma Cho Temple

27. Stroll the Botanical Gardens of La Union

28. Dinner at Lola Nanny's and chat wit the owner Lola Nanny Landrigan

29. Surf the breaks of San Juan
For now, I grabbed these pictures from google, and I'm going to write about it when I visit this province.  See you soon in La Union.

When in Legazpi, Albay

When we talk of Bicol, particularly Legazpi, the first thing that comes to our mind would be the Majestic Mayon Volcano.

I remember the imposing mountain that follows us everywhere we go around the city.  Well, not during our last visit in March. Mayon shied away from us on our three-day stay. 

Actually, it was a cloudy weekend to start with.

So instead of going around the usual tourist destinations, we went on to explore the other attraction that Legazpi has, its food!

We stayed at Hotel St. Ellis near the downtown.  They have a good breakfast buffet, although the choices are not as many compared to the hotels here in Manila, but if you’re willing to shell out a few pesos, try their Angus beef tapa.

Also, they have a good selection of desserts and my favorite would be the Pili Nut Cheesecake.

Day 5: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Our last day in Bicol is dedicated to our long drive back home. We decided to leave early around 3AM in order to reach Manila late in the ...