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Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cebu Pacific Air Adopts Philippine Eagle

Together with fellow bloggers and other members of local media, I witnessed the formal adoption of Philippine eagle named, "Mindanao" by Cebu Pacific Air. The turnover ceremony was held on October 15, 2015 at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City.  For five years, the popular budget airline will shoulder the food and veterinary care of the 13 year old Philippine Eagle. Mindanao is among the 17 other Philippine eagles under the captive breeding program of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF). Through this, eagles are breed and reintroduced to their natural habitat, an effort that aims to address its dwindling population. 

Mindanao is the only one of its kind that can tolerate humans at a distance of 2 meters, thus, appointed as an ambassador for education, serving as an inspiration to visitors to learn more about the plight of the Philippine eagle. 
The talented Mr. Gabe Mercado hosting the turnover ceremony
Endemic to the Philippines, "whose uniqueness, strength, power, and love for freedom, exemplifies the Filipino people"the Philippine Eagle is the country's national bird, replacing the maya  in 1995 under the administration of President Fidel Ramos. (Read about proclamation No. 615 here). Sadly, it's in the DENR's list of critically endangered species with only 400 pairs left, its diminishing numbers caused by deforestation, hunting and trapping.

Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) is tasked by law to ensure that the Philippine eagle survives and thrives. There are  also laws in place to punish violators. However, with Pamana's  heartbreaking death (news here), it's clear that more vigilance and education is needed. Another group, a Non-government Organization working to ensure its viability is the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).
Official turnover with PEF Executive Mr. Dennis Salvador and Cebu Pacific 
It manages the Philippine Eagle Center, its conservation and breeding facility for the Philippine eagle and other birds of prey. The facility, which has become one of Davao city's primary tourist destination, is 8.4 hectares big, abundant with tall trees with areas for viewing several Philippine eagles, other birds, mammals and reptiles put up for the purpose of educating its visitors. (Tip : Put on some insect repellent!)  It's open daily from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Guided tours are available for free and it is advised to contact the center in advance to ensure the guide's availability. They also have a snack and souvenir center selling items made by indigenous communities where Philippine eagles nest. (Travel information below).
Stuffed toy on sale for 565 Pesos at the Philippine Eagle Center or through their website (Nice word play, Ceb Pac! ;) )
How to Help : 
To adopt, donate or support, please visit, Philippine Eagle Foundation.

Travel Information :
The Philippine Eagle center is located at Malagos District, approximately 45 minutes-1 hour from Davao city.  For visiting hours and information on how to get to the Philippine Eagle Center, click here.
Entrance Fees : 
Adults - 150 PHP
Kids 18 years old & below - 100 PHP
Telephone number: +63 (082)324 1860
Mobile number:  +63 917 862 7146
Email address:  reservations@philippineeaglefoundation.org

How to Get to Davao? Cebu Pacific Air has direct flights from Manila and Cebu.

Where to stay in Davao? Click here to book at Marco Polo, a 5-star hotel located at the heart of Davao's business and shopping district. 

Related Reads : 
1. Why the Philippine Eagle is the country's national bird via ABS CBN news.
2. An interesting argument on why the Maya should be brought back as the Philippines' National Bird  is posted on Zamboanga.com.
3. Penalties for killing animals classified as critically endangered  : 
(a) imprisonment of a minimum of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years and/or a fine of One hundred thousand pesos (100,000.00) to One million pesos (1,000,000.00), if inflicted or undertaken against species listed as critical;

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Food Trip : Sisterfields, Tagaytay (soft opening)

With Tagaytay's cool weather, bustling food scene and that gorgeous view of Taal volcano that never gets old, a visit, even for just a day is always delightful.  :) 
A view of Taal Volcano from a suite in  the 9th Floor of Summit Ridge Hotel. Note that the main crater is behind
that hill in front of the photo. :) 
Joining its endless row of dining establishments is Sisterfields located inside its partner hotel, Summit Ridge. It's a newcomer, but one that cannot be ignored, being a member of the Cravings Group which owns several successful business ventures - a few of which include C2, The Coffee Beanery (ah the coffee and cake all you can promos!), Center for Culinary Arts, the Philippines’ premier culinary school and one of my favorite restaurants, Cravings. 

Adopting a Farm to Table concept, dishes are prepared with ingredients that are locally grown, either by the restaurant itself or bought directly from its source. It will feature Filipino dishes with Batangas beef, produce from the town of Taal and Tagaytay, organic juices and of course, artisan coffee blend, Pahimis from Cavite.  
Sisterfields will be opened at the ground floor of Summit Ridge Hotel near the reception area. 

Its menu, which promises comfort food with an elevated taste, was created by Chef Noel dela Rama, an acclaimed New York-based personal chef. He graduated with a Culinary Arts degree from Culinary Institute of America (Trivia : author and tv personality Anthony Bourdain also graduated here) and  has a Baking and Pastry Arts degree from The French Culinary Institute in New York. 

On its soft opening, the Sisterfields team graciously welcomed us for a taste of what they will be serving to their guests.

Its airy interiors has an unassuming, family restaurant appeal, a complement to their menu.  It's walls and ceiling have cheery illustrations of pineapples, a major product of Tagaytay. 
With my table buddy, Kara of Travel Up
Our dining experience made me feel like I'm hiking towards a mountain's summit but I'm hardly sweating. There's a sense of excitement that slowly builds up with each plate presented on the table. There are eye popping views  too - but it's not over the horizon, instead, it's on the plate and everything I laid my eyes on is edible. 

We sampled five appetizers and it was a shame that I could not consume everything. 
On the photo above are Tinapa Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce (PHP 145)  and Crispy Tawilis with Kaffir Lime Aioli (PHP 140). These two are straight-forward dishes but its sauces complimented its tastes very well. I personally enjoyed the Tinapa Spring Rolls. It was crispy and light on the stomach, an ideal appetizer.  As for Tawilis, a freshwater fish which can only be found in Taal Lake, I prefer it as a main dish with lots of rice on the side. :) 
Potato, Corn & Bacon Chowder (PHP 155)
Another dish on the menu that's easy to love is chowder. Their  Potato, Corn & Bacon Chowder  is creamy and flavorful, delivering that homey taste expected from this thick soup.  The lone bacon was  a nice touch. It's thin and crispy,  like munching on a potato chip. 

Next on our table were the greens -  Chopped Salad with Green Goddess Dressing (PHP 320) and another salad with Kamias, Jicama, mango, lettuce and bagoong Balayan Vinaigrette (PHP 240). Both salads featured fresh, juicy produce and innovative sauces. Of the two, I prefer the latter. Bagoong and vinegar was an unexpected mix. I did not think that two would go well together but the creative folks in the kitchen did a great job of balancing the flavors. The strips of mango were sweet and counters the sourness of kamias and saltiness of bagoong vinaigrette.  
Mango, Kamias and Jicama Salad with Bagoong Vinaigrette 
By the time the main dishes arrived, I was already half full but they were all so nicely plated, it was hard to resist and I welcomed each with enthusiasm. 
Cerveza Negra braised boneless beef short ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (PHP 550)
Cerveza Negra braised boneless beef was very reminiscent of caldereta except this one had creamy mashed potatoes at its base. It was so creamy, I initially thought it was cheese. The beef looked as though it'll melt right inside your mouth, I enthusiastically dig in. It was so tender, you won't need a knife to cut through it. 

The next two meat dishes were the delightfully crispy Southern Fried Chicken (PHP 575), (its skin had a buttermilk taste, a personal fave!) and the tender and tasty, Sticky Baby Back ribs (PHP 450). 
Sticky Baby Back ribs with Coleslaw (This is a sample plate, actual serving size is smaller than this)
The leche flan is creamy and sweet - fitting for its serving size of two tablespoons. Other desserts to try also include homemade ice cream in Ube, Macapuno, Pineapple Taragon and Kapeng Barako (coffee) flavors. There will also be Filipino snack favorites such as Turon Ala mode and Ginataang halo-halo. 
A sample of Leche Flan (PHP 95)
With all that eating, I was relieved when it was announced that we will be toured around the hotel by Nathan from Summit Ridge. It's a much needed break  so we won't feel too bloated. We were then told we'd have snacks after the tour. :P Gah, it's the kind of issue I'd gladly deal with. 

Summit Ridge Hotel by Robinsons Hotels & Resorts sits on the highest point in Tagaytay. With that, the suites at the 6th and 9th floor have excellent views of Taal volcano. It's located a little farther from the crowd but still along Aguinaldo highway which makes it ideal for staycations. It also has enormous function rooms and is also a favored reception for weddings and other big gatherings. (To book a room, visit the Summit Hotels website). 

We also visited Annie's Garden, located at the back of the hotel. Named after Cravings Group President and founder, Ms. Annie Guerrero, it is where some of the herbs are planted and harvested for use in the Sisterfields kitchen.  It's still on its initial stage and being a lover of plants, I look forward to seeing its completion. 
With my fellow bloggers at Annie's Garden. (Photo from Redge of MoistPR)

After our tour, we returned to the dining area for a cooking demo of another item on the menu, Penne with longganisa, mushrooms and arugula. We also sampled  this dish after. This pasta will appeal to those who prefer their longganisa sweet. 

And here's the lovely bunch from CCA who made us happy foodies. Chefs from CCA will take turns in the kitchen when its fully operational. 

Aside from the restaurant, there will also be an Epicurious cafe (a deli and cafe which has a branch in Shangri La Mall) where guests can dine in or buy freshly baked breads to go.

There's a lot to look forward to at Sisterfields which makes it a worthwhile stop for foodies. I hope to be back soon when its fully operational.  
Just a reminder that they're still on soft opening and is currently located at the 2nd Floor. If you find any points for improvement, contact them directly or send them a message on on their Facebook page

Other Places of Interest in and around Tagaytay : 
Aside from restaurant hopping, there's also a lot of places to visit. Among these are The Puzzle Mansion aptly named for its Guiness Record for largest collection of jigsaw puzzles,  Sky Ranch and for hiking enthusiasts,  the nearby mountains  of Batulao, Talamitam and  Apayang (newly opened trail) located in Nasugbu, Batangas, about 30 minutes away. A trail also exists to those who want to get closer  to the volcano but entry point is in Talisay which  is another 20 minutes from Tagaytay

Summit Ridge Hotel
KM 58 Gen Aguinaldo Highway, Maharlika West,
Tagaytay City, Philippines
Facebook :  Sisterfields 
Instagram : @SisterfieldsPH

To book a room at Summit Ridge Hotel, Summit Hotels.   

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