a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hiking in Kyushu, Japan (Plus travel tips!)

On a recent overseas trip, I traveled south of Japan in  Kyushu, the country’s third biggest island. It was the end of March, the beginning of spring, just in time to see some blooming cherry blossoms! Weather at this time varies from 10-16 Celsius, a comforting contrast to the tropical weather in Manila. 
View of Fukuoka from  Mt. Tenpaizan
Taking the only Cebu Pacific flight that day, I arrived at Fukuoka International  airport past 7:00 PM(Japan time).  Since I had to go through immigration, take a bus (it's free if coming from international terminal!) to the Domestic terminal to take a train to the city and navigate my way to  my accommodation in the outskirts of Fukuoka (thank God for offline maps!), I got to Sharely Style Hakata around 11 PM. 
Vendo machines everywhere! Hello Japan. :) 
By the time I checked in to my room, I was  drained. Thankfully, the room is  neat and smelled good. The space is small but had everything I needed, a toilet & bath and ample number of sockets. There's also a  balcony, not a requirement for me but it sure is nice to have. My view is facing a small quiet street, across a vendo machine and if the neighboring house across has its shades open, I get a glimpse of what's inside. :P  

Mt. Homan
After preparing my stuff, I took two trains to Mt. Homan (Itinerary here) in Dazaifu, a small city in Japan's Fukuoka prefecture. The nearby Tenmangu shrine and all the stores and restaurants around it attracts huge numbers of visitors but with my preference for quiet time and solitude, I moved away from the crowd and up the mountain. 
A shrine at the foggy summit of Mt. Homan
It drizzled a bit, making it colder than it already was. My face felt numb from the cold which was a nice experience since I've spent my entire life in the tropics. :) 

Fog began settling in, creating an eerie vibe but I kept my focus on nature. The beautiful huge trees were a good distraction. :) Though the trails are established, most of the signage are in Japanese so I relied heavily on the directions I downloaded online from Fukuoka Now,   a website which contains helpful travel and hiking info in Fukuoka. 
This was lunch. During my trip,  I got a kick out of hunting for interesting food at their convenience stores
which are everywhere! Lawson stores are common here.
As it was a weekday, I was pretty much alone the entire hike. The only time I saw someone else was when I  was going down from the summit, a fellow solo hiker. 
A section of the trail to the summit of Mt. Homan
On my second day, I vent to Tenpaizan (Itinerary here), another hiking trail with a shrine at its peak.

Walking from a train station, I got so lost trying to locate the entrance of the trail. Ironically, it's a popular place for tourist and hiking enthusiasts but I'm not really good with road directions. :P A lady  I met in the street, who didn't speak English, was kind enough to lead me to the jump-off which is 10 minutes away from where I was! I couldn't thank her enough. 

Check out my other hikes here.

I ended up following another trail that turned out to be more challenging from where I intended to start. There's less people on this side which I love. I eventually found the main trail and rejoined the crowd. From there, it takes less than an hour to get to the summit. Compared to most mountains which are at least 600 MASL (Meters Above Sea Level), its highest point is only at 258 MASL.
a view of Fukuoka from Mt. Tenpaizan
After going to Tenpaizan, I took another train and got off at Hakata station.  It is said to be where most of the action is. Hotels, stores, restaurants and other touristy places are nearby. Hakata train station is a tourist attraction itself filled with souvenir shops and restaurants, but after spending two days in the outskirts, I found it to be overwhelming and crowded.  It's funny because friends told me that it's a very laid back city compared to Tokyo . I guess I just  spent so much time in the mountains. :P 
Hakata area
With the cool weather and pedestrian friendly sidewalks, I found myself doing a  lot of walking. From Hakata train station, I walked 1.2 KM to Canal City, a huge shopping and entertainment complex. Think MOA (Mall of Asia). I didn't want to because there were so many people but I couldn't resist checking out Muji and a branch of Montbell, a Japanese retailer and maker of outdoor gear. 
Montbell branch at Canal City,a huge shopping & entertainment complex in Hakata
My last stop for the day was Ohori Park, another one of Fukuoka's top attractions. It's just a few steps from Ohori Koen station. After coffee at Boathouse, a cafe with a view of a man-made lake, I walked around and found myself in an area in the park with tons of food stalls! Here, I enjoyed takoyaki, a balled up street food made from a batter of cabbage and octopus. Some wouldn't enjoy its "fishy" taste but I really like the flavor,  generally salty with a hint of sweetness.
Food stalls at Ohori Park
I walked into some sort of street party - music was blasting from a speaker and there were many groups just huddled together in tables and eating, having a great time. I could see smoke from barbecue pits and other food stalls. I did feel a bit lonely for a second, standing  on my own and people watching, but then again, I was on vacation, I can't be sad! 

Hours before flying back to Manila, I did my 3rd and final hike in Fukuoka. 

View at Mt. Shioji
Popular to locals, Mt. Shioji is a scenic peak in Dazaifu offering views of the city, surrounding mountains and the ruins of Ohnojo Castle. With its easy trails, it welcomes hikers and visitors of varying fitness levels. Those who are not up for a hike can actually take a car to its peak while those who want to walk on a natural trail can cut through the well-marked forest trails to get to the top like I did. The forest trail is reminiscent of the trails in the Philippines with ribbons tied on to trees to mark the correct way! With the exception of seeing cherry blossoms and signage in Japanese, it actually felt like I was hiking back home.
Torii, a traditional Japanese gate found in Shinto shrines 
The short hike  gave me enough time to go around Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine and enjoy a lunch. 

By 5:00 PM, I was in a bus back to Fukuoka airport with 3 hours to spare before my flight back to Manila. (Travel tip : At Dazaifu station, there are lockers where you can stash your luggage and go around. The rental fee varies on how big your luggage is. I think I paid 300 Yen for my 33 Liter Osprey Nova.  There are also buses at the exit of the train station that can take you to  the entrance of Fukuoka International Airport)

How to get to Fukuoka
From Manila, you can fly via Cebu Pacific,  a budget airline that has direct flights to Fukuoka. 

Where to stay 
I booked a  room at Sharely Style Hakata through Agoda. Click here to book. 
Rates : For a 3 night stay, I paid 4,706.89 Pesos
Description : Single bed, aircon room with a balcony, private t&v, mini ref, desk, tv, hair blower, (breakfast not included). This place is outside the tourist district, within walking distance from Ijiri station. It's located in a residential area. I suggest plotting it on a  map which you can access offline before your trip.

Solo Travel Tips 
- If you're taking Cebu Pacific, you will most likely arrive way past the normal check-in time. Just so I don't have to wander around in the wee hours of the morning, I paid for my accommodation on the same day I'm arriving then informed the hotel that I'll be checking in late. 
- The train station map I got from the airport was helpful. You can ask for one at the information desk. The staff were quite friendly! I also learned from watching a vlog that you can download an app for the train schedules. For more tips on traveling to Japan, watch the vlog here.
- there's decent cheap food (sushi, noodles, meals) at the convenience stores and the vendo machines
-  Watch out for sales on the Agoda website (or just download the app) so you can book your accommodation at a cheaper price.  If your flight is arriving late in the evening, inform your hotel.  I found it easy to get in touch with them through the contact page on their site.

- Pocket Money : 15,000 Pesos was enough for me to get me by on this 4 day trip. I mostly did hiking and a bit of eating.  This excluded the plane fare and Philippine Travel Tax (1,620 Pesos). Of course, budget varies depending on what you want to do or buy.
- Souvenir shopping can be done at the duty free at Fukuoka International airport. You can shop while waiting for your flight out of the city. There's also Starbucks here.
- Learn a few basic Japanese words. During my stay, the following words were enough for me to survive : 
sumimasen - excuse me (before asking a question) or sorry (when you accidental bump to someone)
kore - this (to point at things close to you, such as ordering an item from the menu you're holding)
kudasai - please
doko - where

wakarimasen - I don't understand (when someone talks to you in Japanese)

Here are some of the helpful resources I read while researching for my trip : 
How to apply for Japan visa for Filipinoshttp://www.thepoortraveler.net/2013/11/japan-visa-requirements-manila-philippines/
Japan Embassy in the Philippines - http://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/00_000035.html
Japan Tourism Sitehttp://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/spot/natuscen/index.html 
Getting Around Fukuoka - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2436.html 
Fukuoka airport official sitehttp://www.fuk-ab.co.jp/english/ 
Info on Fukuoka City Tourist Pass (train pass)https://yokanavi.com/en/tourist-city-pass/
Info on Bus pass -> http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4802.html 
I followed this YouTuber to get tips when traveling in Japan. :). (Thank you!)
Hiking in Fukuoka - http://www.fukuoka-now.com/en/2016/09/hiking-in-fukuoka/
Going to other prefectures in Japan? Check out their trails here at Japan Guide.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Solo Trip : Dagupan, Pangasinan

I often pass by the province of Pangasinan when traveling for a hike to the Cordilleras but I never got to go around. One day, I went for a visit to have a look!

While researching for my trip, I learned that there's so much to see (and eat!)  from the infamous Hundred Islands in Alaminos, the beautiful beaches of Bolinao and its mountain trails that spending a day is ridiculous, but with my limited time and budget,  I figured, this solo trip will serve as a kickoff for numerous return trips. :)
Lingayen beach
From Solid North Terminal in Cubao, I traveled by bus to Dagupan city, some 30 minutes  away from Lingayen, the provincial capital.   This being a lazy trip, I boarded the first bus I saw with a signage marked "Lingayen", the bus' last stop. Travel time took 6 hours which I felt could have been shorter if only I rode a bus with a different route (perhaps, one that passed SCTEX or TPLEX - highways in the northern part of the island which skips some towns, shortening the travel time). 

By noon, I had checked in to Hotel Monde, a 7-room budget boutique hotel, just along AB Fernandez, a major street in Dagupan. It's  a convenient place to stay,  close to public transportation, restaurants, banks, stores and other establishments. I installed the Traveloka app and utilizing one of their frequent promos, got this a for a discounted rate of 784.38 Pesos instead of 1,400 Pesos. (Will post about my stay soon and link it here.)
My lime green room at Hotel Monde
After napping, I headed out for my first meal. Dagupan is know for its bangus (milkfish) and Matutina's Seafood House came highly recommended but being a coffee addict,  my craving for a good brew couldn't wait. With that, I walked to Caffe Angelito Coffee & Juice Bar. 

While walking to the cafe, I noticed Dagupan's pedestrian-friendly roads.  The sidewalk has enough room for people and the traffic lights are respected.  It made walking convenient and how I wish this is how it is in all parts of the country. A Dagupan-based friend has informed me that the local government is strict about enforcing rules against jaywalking -  well, that's exactly how it should be.  
Pasta from Caffee Angelito

Caffe Angelito was a good choice for a late lunch.  I had iced coffee which was strong and full of flavor and in no time, I was back to my usual perky self. The pasta was served beautifully and equally satisfying. The interiors with reminded me of a library so I decided to take out the book I had with me and ended up staying for another hour. 

From the cafe, I walked along Dagupan-Binmaley road to catch a jeep to
Tondaligan, a public  beach. Spending just 12 Pesos, the jeep's route got me all the way to entrance of the beach.
Catching the sunset at Tondaligan beach in Dagupan

The beach is massive. As the sun's heat had died down, I saw groups of families and friends just hanging out. The vibe made me feel like I was actually part of a group so even as I stood there all alone, I felt very welcome. 

The breeze was a refreshing change from the afternoon heat.  The  sight of a huge area filled with coconut trees gave out a very tropical vibe. The trees were aptly spaced from each other that you can just hang a hammock and relax! 

If you're looking for a nice hammock, I recommend a local brand that provides livelihood to home-based sewers in Laguna, Hammock Republic. This is the brainchild of a friend of mine,  James Betia AKA Journeying James. Their hammocks also serve as a neck pillow when folded and some designs have a net to protect you from insects. The design's pretty cool!  

I looked at the water and the playful waves lured me in for an afternoon wrestle.  A bit bigger than usual, it's the kind of waves that's good enough for skim boarding. I couldn't find a place to leave my stuff and making a judgement based on female intuition,  I I left my bag by the shore and covered it with a beach blanket.  I swam close to shore and occasionally watched over my stuff, a challenging feat because the waves were just coming hard towards me, I spent a lot of time jumping and going under the water. Being a water baby, I couldn't be any happier! 

The beach and the boys. This was taken at Tondaligan beach in Dagupan
I stayed in the water until sun went down, filling the sky with various colors. First, it was yellow. Accompanied with a couple of dark clouds over the horizon, the combination of colors reminded me of a fried cheese flambe. Then, came the fierce orange glow and as it disappeared from the sky, purple! After my visual dinner, I dried myself and took a jeep back to the hotel,  salty and a little wet from the beach. It had been a good day.

The next morning, I took a side trip to Lingayen. Just a few blocks from the hotel were jeeps that transported passengers to the provincial capital. It took a little over 30 minutes to get there as the jeep picked up passengers along the route. 

From the town proper, I walked towards the historic Lingayen beach.  On January 1945, General Douglas Mac Arthur and members of the US forces returned to start their mission of freeing the island of Luzon from the Japanese invaders. Nowadays, this beach with its massive shoreline is flocked by people looking for a quick break. The beach is kept clean and its fine gray sand is just as charming as those with white sand. Being a public beach, entrance is free. There's also a huge picnic area (not sure if the picnic tables are for rent though) and restrooms. 
Lingayen Beach
Other nearby places to visit include the provincial capitol (Lingayen beach is just behind it) and the Veterans memorial park. For an itinerary on Lingayen, check out this article by Mai Flores here.

After returning to Dagupan, I made a spur of the moment decision to make a quick visit to Baguio.  The City of Pines is just two hours away by public van and fare is 165 Pesos. The reason - I was missing  Ili-Lika Artist Village, an art gallery with a cluster of food stalls serving healthy meals, one of my favorite places to eat in the country. After a hefty lunch - tofu rice meal, waffles and coffee, I boarded a bus back to Manila. 

I got exactly what I wanted on this trip - some time alone, see the beach and even had enough time for some side trips. Traveling solo, despite it downsides (no one to share food with and split the bill :P)  is mostly fun for me. I enjoy having the freedom to move whenever, wherever without having to wait for anyone and change my plans as often as I want to. 

For more travel info on Dagupan, check out this very helpful post by Senyorita,  A Quick Guide to Dagupan. It contains details on how to get here, suggested places to eat and see. Thank you for your post Mica! ;) 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bataan : Araw ng Kagitingan 2017

Four months into 2017 and I've already made three visits to Bataan. With a lot of nice trails, good food and its proximity to Manila, it has become an irresistible weekend destination for me.  

On my most recent trip however, I wasn't going for a hike like I usually do, but for an unconventional adventure - a journey back to the past, remembering those who courageously fought for our freedom during World War II. 

Every 9th of April, the Philippines' celebrates Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), formerly Bataan day, honoring those who sacrificed their lives to defend the country's freedom against the Japanese invaders. 

This day of remembrance commemorates three significant events in the country during the war - the Fall of Bataan (April 9, 1942) where thousands of American and Filipino soldiers surrendered and participated in the grueling Bataan Death March;  Fall of Corregidor  (May 6, 1942), the last stronghold  to surrender  against the Japanese invaders and the Battle of Besang Pass (June 14, 1945), a vicious battle won by Filipino warriors that contributed to the surrender of General Yamashita, the leader of the Imperial forces in the Philippines. 

*For more information, please click the link on each event.
The arrival of President Rodrigo Duterte drew excitement from members of Veterans
 Federation of the Philippines
A related celebration recognizing World War II veterans, April 5-11 of every year was declared as Philippine Veterans Week. During this period, activities are held  "to promote, preserve and memorialize the principles, ideals and deeds of the Filipino veterans as a means  to enhance patriotism and love of country, especially among the youth."

In the province of Bataan,  a variety of programs and activities are held celebrating people, honoring those who sacrificed their lives for the country and the people living in the present  - young and old, who are driving progress in the country. 

Read : Filipiknow | 10 Biggest Misconceptions about World War II in the Philippines

In this years commemoration, I witnessed several activities  starting with the Foot Parade,  an event where members of various civil society organizations march the streets, a way of recognizing  their contribution in nation building. It was a humid day but after a wonderful lunch at Angelito's, walking around was exactly what we needed! (more info on where to eat in Bataan here)
members of Knights of Columbus, a global fraternal organization dedicated to "providing charitable services, promoting Catholic education & Catholic public policy positions and actively defending Catholicism"
In the afternoon, we listened to lively and impressive performances by the bands from the Armed Forces of The Philippines Band and the Philippine Airforce. 

The program which was open to everyone was attended by Bataan's key politicians,  Governor Albert Garcia, Congresswoman Geraldine Roman, Mariveles Mayor Ace Concepcion to name a few.  

It was surreal seeing Gilbert Teodoro back on the stage to deliver an inspirational message.The former secretary of national defense, with his eloquence and wit was a popular presidential candidate during the 2010 National elections. Ever charming, he began his speech by apologizing for being a little out of practice as it was his first public appearance after the elections.  In his message, he stressed the importance of protecting our territory and remembering veterans from  World War II and the present day, the soldiers who are fighting the war against terrorism. 
Former National Defense secretary, Gilbert Teodoro
The parade of floats  was another highlight of the program.  A contest participated by the municipalities in Bataan, each float executed a theme related to important events during the war,  with a narrator delivering heartbreaking stories behind each float - the start of the war, how the hospitals were attacked, the violation of women, the horrific details of the death march and the war.   The parade ended on a positive note, an account of the province's achievements, a testament  of how Bataan has risen from the war.
A float by the municipality of Samal portraying the first line of defense in Layac. 
The next day, we headed to Mt. Samat to cover a program attended by veterans groups and their families, political leaders and other civic organizations. During the war,  soldiers retreated to this mountain along with civilians.  Bombed heavily by the Japanese,  the mountain looked like a  giant ball of fire. Today, the foliage around this mountain has grown back and is now a major tourist destination. On its summit stands  an iconic structure, Dambana ng Kagitingan, a 92 meter cross with a viewing gallery built in honor of WWII Filipino and American soldiers. Other attractions include a war museum, colonnade and  scenic views West Philippine sea. 
Colonnade at Mt. Samat
It was a hot morning and though we waited for a few hours before the program started,font-family: "trebuchet ms" , sans-serif;">the energy of the crowd buzzed with excitement s President Duterte announced that he has ordered the release of 6 billion Pesos for the veteran's pension.

His exact words : 
"I’d like to repeat it. I am directing the Department of Budget and Management, DBM, and the Department of National Defense to expedite the early release of the AFP’s retirees pension credentials for fiscal years 2008 to 2013 in the amount of 6,421,000,000."  Read full speech here.

It was indeed cheery news but taking into account that the war was in 1942, the compensation  is long overdue. Nevertheless, the announcement was well received by the audience.    

The Japanese, who have long made amends to what has transpired in the war, also participated in the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan.  This year during the program at Mt. Samat, Japanese ambassador Kazuhide Ishikaw stood on stage, in front of American and Filipino audiences and began his speech with a sincere apology, a gesture I found  noble. Having lived in the Philippines all my life, apologies  from public officials convicted  of crimes are rarely heard (or maybe - it's just not publicized?).

Related Read : Rappler : 9 important facts you should know about the 'Day of Valor'

Kenji Mori, a private citizen from Japan also does his share. This year, he sponsored
the Grandest Pyrotechnics, a  25-minute fireworks display, enjoyed by guests of honor, the people of Bataan and their visitors. He has also donated sound systems to schools and cash prizes to some of the local contests showcasing the talents of Bataan's youth. 

Here's a clip from the performance of Koro Bangkal, a youth choir composed of children from the Aeta community, an indigenous group.

Below's a photo from the performance of Orani, the winning municipality of the drum and lyre competition. 

Read : 7 Reasons Why Bataan Should be your next destination

Here's a video of the highlights. 

This year's Araw ng Kagitingan had been very memorable. For one, it's my first time  to witness the activities up close.  Even more valuable as being able to travel here, I developed a deeper appreciation of our country's past and remain optimistic about the future. Despite the pressing issues in our country, I cannot just throw in the towel. This is the same country where I met kind and sunny people, the land of great singers & talented people, eye-popping landscapes and good food. How can I believe we're hopeless?

Bataan is a good destination at any time. Aside from historical sites,  the province has beaches, biking and hiking trails and the best part, good food.  For travel information, check out my posts  below:
 Where to go | Where to eat | Where to stay

Bataan Tourism 
Office Address : Bataan Provincial Highway, Balanga city

To the Provincial tourism of Bataan, thank you for inviting us! 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Travel Advisory : Cebu Pacific Passengers with flights to Mindanao

Hi all, I'm passing along a travel advisory sent by Cebu Pacific's PR. If you've booked a flight to and from any Cebu Pacific or CebGo destination in Mindanao from May 25-31, 2017 and have concerns traveling on these dates, please read on. For additional questions, please get in touch with Cebu Pacific directly. Contact details are listed below.
Operations of Cebu Pacific in Mindanao remain normal, with no restrictions or limitations imposed on air travel by the authorities.

However, in light of recent situation in Marawi City and the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, Cebu Pacific and Cebgo strongly advise all its passengers to allot sufficient travel time to get to the airports due to the heightened security measures being implemented. Heavy traffic is also anticipated around the areas as numerous check points are expected to be put up.

Guests flying to and from any Cebu Pacific or Cebgo destination in Mindanao from May 25 to 31, 2017 who are concerned about travelling at this time may opt to rebook their tickets for free within 30 days; or place the cost of the ticket in a travel fund for future use.

For flight rebooking or other concerns, guests are advised to contact the Cebu Pacific hotline at +632 7020-888. They may also message the official Cebu Pacific Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cebupacificair) or Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) accounts.

CEB also reminds its passengers of the following:
·         Remember to bring a valid ID* to be presented during check-in and boarding.
·         Liquids, aerosols, and gels inside a hand-carry bag should be in a container (100 ml or less) and they should be placed in a clear, rese­alable plastic bag.
·         Be conscious in bringing objects with sharp edges (i.e. nail files, nippers, nail cutters, scissors, etc.) as these may not be allowed in your hand-carry baggage
·         If you are bringing gadgets like your laptop, be prepared to take it out for inspection

Mindanao covers region Region IX-XIII and ARMM. Visit Philippine Statistics'Authority site for more info on Philippine provinces. 

The same advisory is posted on Cebu Pacific's site.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Marawi city.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top 3 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Melbourne

Getting ready for your vacation to another city or country is exciting yet stressful. Since there are plenty of destinations you can choose to spend your time off, you will somewhat have a hard time deciding where to go. However, all you have to do is to pick one where you can truly enjoy and make the most out of your much-awaited break.

In fact, one of the perfect destinations you can loosen up with your family or friends is Melbourne. This lively city is the capital of Victoria. It offers tons of amazing things to all visitors from across the globe. You will be able to witness its breathtaking scenery, taste its outstanding food, visit its awe-inspiring tourist spots, and experience various exhilarating outdoor activities. Absolutely, your trip here will be one for the books.

If you want to explore the entire city, there are available low-priced car rentals in Melbourne airport. You can simply rent a car and roam around this diverse city with your loved ones. You will be more comfortable traveling by hiring a vehicle, so make sure to consider this when in the city.

Listed below are a few reasons why you need to travel to Melbourne:

One of the things that Melbourne takes pride in is arts. It is a place for striking galleries, festivals, museums, exhibitions, and live performances. Art lovers around the world will truly appreciate this city, for there are so many art pieces you can check out. A visit to a museum, gallery, or theatre will get you in awe. Additionally, world-class acts and marvellous displays will make you love the stunning city even more. 

Melbourne is definitely a food paradise. Those who love food so much can visit this vibrant city and witness its gastronomic scene. It boasts an extensive range of restaurants that serve heavenly food that you should not miss while here. With this, include food tripping around the city on your itinerary and create memorable food adventures with your loved ones. Definitely, you won't regret anything by trying out this one.

Shopping Centres
In case you love shopping, Melbourne is a shopping haven. There are a lot of top-of-the-line shopping centres and factory outlets around the city where all shopaholics can enjoy. Everyone visiting here will be tempted to shop and spend, for there are plenty of malls to choose from. You have to get ready your budget or bring extra money when you travel here.

Melbourne is a dazzling city that you should visit at least once in your life. See its natural beauty with your own two eyes and enjoy a wonderful trip with the people you love the most. Your vacation here will truly be worth it and you will have the time of your life as you unwind and witness new things. It will be an adventure of a lifetime and an unforgettable Melbourne experience, so plan your trip here ahead of time and create happy memories. 

NOTE : This is a collaboration post. Melbourne, with its art scene, food (friends say coffee is good too!) and wildlife sanctuaries remains on my bucket list.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Part 2 : Bataan Adventures | Where to Eat in Bataan (Updated 2017)

Being an avid hiker and foodie, I've grown very fond of visiting  Bataan.  This province offers several hiking trails (check my post here) passing verdant forests and nicely decorated cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a proper cup of coffee and affordable comfort food. It is also highly accessible from Manila via land travel, making it a good option for a short but rewarding out of town adventure. 

Here's a list of restaurants in Bataan where you can enjoy satisfying meals. 

The restaurant's name which means little angels (male) was inspired by the owner's 3 young boys, Miguel (after St. Michael), Rafael and Gabriel.This 2 year old family owned restaurant has a homey ambiance and serves any type of food that the family enjoys. 

Dishes are flavorful and priced affordably -100 Pesos above for the main dishes and 20 Pesos above for the desserts. Specialty includes, pork binagoongan and creamy tofu (my fave!). The restroom which has a mini garden is also nice! 
M plus C Building, Tenejero
Orani, Bataan
Contact Number : +63 (047) 237 0743
Facebook Page here
Location map
Related Post : Bataan Tourism | Angelitos 
Notes : Located along a national road, easily reached via tricycle at the town proper

SAVERDE (Abucay)
Located in a side road close to the highway, this home turned restaurant and badminton center offers a memorable plate of beef tapa rice,  marinated beef with rice, nicely enveloped in omelette.  If you like it sweet and savory, you'll enjoy their version of this Pinoy favorite. Another must try is the buttermilk bread. Similar to French toast, the aptly sweet chunky slice of bread is great to be paired with brewed coffee. Price range : 20-75 Pesos. 
Gabon St., Abucay, Bataan
Location Map here
Facebook Page here
Business Hours : MONDAY TO SATURDAY, 3:00pm - 12:00mn
Contact Numbers : +63 (047) 633 5270 | (0906) 458 0230

This restaurant located within the complex of a gas station serves Filipino dishes and its specialty, hot chocolate prepared with batirol, a wooden object used to whisk the hot pot of a melted cacao beans. It also has a souvenir shop where you can buy snacks to bring back to family and friends.  Dishes start at 200 pesos above and local delicacies such as bibingka, suman at 80 Pesos above. Hot chocolate starts at 100 Pesos.  

Choco-Late de Batirol 
Total Gas Station, Roman Super Highway, Alauli, Pilar, Bataan
Location map here
Business Hours : Monday-Sunday 06:00 AM - 11:30 PM
Contact Numbers : +639228882873 / +63 (47) 6331445
Facebook Page here

The restaurant's layout reminds me of a very hip food park with its black walls and wooden tables (perfect for flatlays :P), ideal for young people who want to dine with their friends. Equally pleasing is its food - a fusion of Western and Filipino favorites. Rice meals are at 79 Pesos above. I enjoyed their Sisig rice, nachos and the ribs, their bestseller. I normally don't eat ribs but my seatmate ordered one and it looked so nice, I had  to try it.  

The Food Project
Balagtas, Orion, Bataan
How to get here : (Directions taken from their FB page)

From Central Terminal in Balanga ride a jeepney bound to Orion, when you reach Orion, Shell Gas Station, walk at about 15 to 20 meters going to Orion National Highschool. 
Location map here
Facebook Page here
Business Hours : Tuesday-Sunday, 3:00 PM - 10:00 PM 
Contact Number +63 (04761) 21647
Notes : it's an open-air restaurant and a bit far from the main road. If you're driving, check the location map above for directions

Popular for serving Kapampangan and Filipino dishes. Their buffet is a must try for first timers. The spread features numerous dishes that are characteristically Kapampangan,  satisfyingly full of flavor. From the outside, it looks like your typical eatery by the road and I was surprised to discover that beyond its small doors is a wide dining area that can accommodate big groups with its long wooden tables. Its's also air conditioned and the ventilation is actually nice. Buffet is at 200 Pesos. Ala carte dishes are also available. As this place can get really packed during peak hours, contact them for reservation on the number below. 
Ima's Pamangan
Gov. J.J. Linao AlaUli
Pilar, Bataan
Location map here
Business Hours : Daily at 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Contact Number +63 998 564 0275/+0917-572-4703
Facebook Page here
Note : This is located on the same road going to  Mt. Samat, before the long and winding road up the mountain.

ESPADA GRILL- serves grilled tilapia, pork liempo, chicken bbq/inasal and other Filipino dishes. Try their  Monday buffet, a bang for the buck at 195 PHP/head inclusive of meat, vegetables and seafood, dessert and drinks. 
Price Range : 195 PHP for buffet, every Mondays from 11AM-2PMand 5PM-9PM  
Regular Meals start at 100 PHP. Bundles for those dining with a group are also available. 
Address : National Rd. cor Batungbakal Subdivision, Sta. Rosa, Pilar
Facebook Page : Espada Grill

AMANDA'S - offers Filipino cuisine. Every dish we tried here was delicious! I recommend the pinakbet and practically any meal they have that has tilapia. :P 
Address : Villa Carolina Subd., Puerto Rivas,  Balanga
Facebook Page : Amanda's

MT. TARAK GUESTHOUSE & RESTAURANT - offers a wide selection of fusion meals and solo meals named after different types of adventurers like Hunter's 109 Meals, Backpacker Pork Schnitzel, Excurtionist Pollo Al Jerez, Hiker's Chicken Al Ajillo and more.  Try their specialty, Pollo Iberico Antojo, slow-cooked roasted whole chicken that takes an hour to prepare. 
Price Range : Solo meals start at 109. They also serve dishes for sharing. 
Address : MAAP Road, Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan.
Contact Numbers : +63 917 534 28 87 (mobile) or +63 (047) 6121093 (landline)
Facebook Page : Mt. Tarak Guesthouse and Restaurant

This eatery offers Filipino and Vietnamese food. It is named after its owner, Aling Loleng and hutieu, a noodle soup dish. Aling Loleng  is a Filipina who used to work in the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC) in Morong. During her stint at the center, she gained Vietnamese friends who taught her their cuisine. *PRPC operated from 1980-1994 and  hosted refugees coming from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam war. The PRPC served as their homes while the refugees waited for the processing of their papers to resettlement  countries like the United States, Canada and Norway.(Source : Inquirer
Price Range : starts at 50 PHP
Address : Mayor St. Brgy. Binaritan, Morong, Bataan
Business Hours : 7:00 am to 9:00 pm (Monday to Sunday)

This pretty cafe  prides itself in serving gelato that has  "less fat, less sugar, but has more intense flavor than ordinary ice cream". Aside from gelato, they also serve rice meals, sandwiches and pastas. 

Price Range : 200 PHP below for the food and 150 PHP below for the blended drinks
Stregato Gelateria
Stregato Gelateria
Galeria Victoria Mall, Balanga
Facebook Page : Stregato Gelateria
Business Hours : Daily, 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM
Notes : It is just outside the entrance of Galeria Victoria Mall, near Dunkin Donuts

THE BEANERY (Balanga, Dinalupihan)
A local chain of  cafes that serves tea, coffee and beautifully plated meals. It's Bataan's version of Starbucks but with cozier interiors! This is one of my favorite cafes in the country and I make it a point to visit a branch when I'm in Bataan. 
Price Range : 120 PHP above for the pastas and around 120 PHP above for the coffee
The Beanery
The Beanery Main Branch, Capitol Drive, San Jose, Balanga City
Facebook Page : The Beanery
*There are two branches in Balanga. One is a few blocks across Crown Royale Hotel.

PLAZA BREW (Balanga)
Located right next to  one of the nicest hotels in Bataan, The Plaza, this cafe serves moist cakes and designer donuts. It is cozy yet formal enough to be a venue  for small business meetings. It is a few steps away from Stregato Gelateria and just in front of Plaza Mayor de Balanga. 

The Plaza Brew
J.P. Rizal Street, Balanga
Location map here
Facebook Page here

Note : Business hours and location may change. Please double check with the restaurant before visiting.

Check out this posts by fellow bloggers on other places to eat in Bataan. 
Love Mindanao Deliciously Yours, Bataan
Blissful Bataan by Turista Trails

Related Posts : 
Part 1 : Outdoor Adventures & Other Places to Visit in Bataan  | Part 3 : Where to Stay in Bataan

How to Get to Bataan?
From Manila, take a bus to Balanga, the provincial capital or to Mariveles, the last municipality. From Balanga, there is a central terminal with trips to other municipalities in the province.

The bus company, Bataan Transit has terminals in Avenida (Manila) and Cubao (Quezon City). For contact information and schedules, visit Bataan Transit’s website or their Facebook Page. Tickets can also be booked online through their partner website, Pinoy Travel.

Another reputable bus company plying routes to Balanga and Mariveles is Genesis Transport which has terminals in Cubao and Pasay (closer to both international and domestic airports). For schedules, contact +63 2 709 0803 or visit their Genesis Transport Inc.’s Facebook Page. Travel time to Balanga takes 3 hours depending on traffic while Mariveles is roughly 90 minutes away from Balanga. 

I've also written about Bataan on Looloo, check article here.

Should you need assistance in arranging your trip or getting additional information  to any of the destinations mentioned above, get in touch with the provincial tourism of Bataan.
Bataan Tourism Center (Balanga) - located along the Roman Highway, Bataan's major highway where public bus and vehicles pass by.  It more than just an office,  it's a destination itself, featuring a gallery, landscaped garden and a souvenir shop selling affordable products from Bataan such as bottled fish, shrimp paste, arrowroot cookies, mussel chips, cashew nuts and more!
Email : bataan_tourism@yahoo.com
Contact Number : +63 (047) 237 4785
Facebook Page : Bataan Tourism
Website : 1Bataan

NOTE : This post was made in collaboration with the provincial tourism of Bataan. I've also been visiting the province a lot lately for personal trips and it has become one of my favorite places because of its accessibility from Manila and good food. 

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