Thursday, March 31, 2011

Midyolaseng sa Mineovaheng

After a fun filled afternoon of sightseeing, eating Ivatan delicacies and perfecting their jump shots in Basco, Batanes, the lucky bunch of bloggers who were on winter tour of the province, decided to relax and hang out at Shanedel's Inn and Cafe.

Of course chillaxin would not be complete without some alcohol, so they decided to try the province's very own alcoholic beverage --- Mineovaheng. The wine is made from fermented sugar cane and has a slightly sweet taste.

It looks like Visayan wine, tuba (made from coconut and has a bittersweet aftertaste) but has a milder taste. The newly fermented Mineovaheng has a vinegary taste (if there is such a word) but the more vintage ones taste is more swabe, just like any other wine the older it gets, the better it tastes.

Journeying James obviously enjoyed the drink as well as the other bloggers in the group (The Wandering Lion did not want to comment). Good thing there was some left for Pinay Travel Junkie a.k.a. Gay Backpacker a.k.a. Nomad Wifey (who enjoyed it as well according to reports) who arrived the day after.

The lucky bloggers with Tita Dely Millan of Shanedel's Inn and Cafe
 It was a fitting end to a day's worth of fun in the country's northernmost province. Cheers. Till we meet again Batanes.

Shanedel's Inn and Cafe is at National Road, Kaychanarianan, Basco, Batanes, Philippines 

Seair flies to Batanes every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Buhay Kuripot: Lunchtime at Aling Taling's


adjective (thriftier, thriftiest)

1. using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully: 
he had been brought up to be thrifty and careful

Oxford Dictionary 

My friends, classmates and almost everyone who knows me, know that I am very thrifty dude and a certified cheapskate. So in everything that I buy I make sure to get the most out of my money, specially when it comes to my buying my lunch.

My office mates and I usually eat here at Aling Taling's Restaurant, or should I say carinderia. Carinderia, for those who are not from the Philippines, is a local eatery selling and serving and viands with wooden benches. It's also known as a "turo-turo" wherein customers literally point what they want to eat from an array of cauldrons (Thanks WikiPilipinas).

The reason why we eat here? Duh, of course, because it's cheap. Well, the food they serve is good enough for my pedestrian taste, but it's really the price that makes us a suki (loyal customer) of this tiny eatery here in Intramuros. Most of their regular customers are students and office workers from colleges and offices within the Walled City.

We like it here because we can order half a viand (e.g. Menudo, Bicol Express, Caldereta, Sisig, Tokwa't Baboy and other usual Pinoy fare) and rice, plus free sabaw (soup) for just Php28.00 (around $0.64). What else can a cheapskate like me could ask for?

This is the Wandering Lion signing off.

*Aling Taling's is located at Victoria St. Intramuros, Manila

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wandering in KL

March 6, 2011

After a whole day of listening to lectures and presentations of other countries who participated in the seminar (I was one of three sent by our office to represent the Philippines) we decided to go out and see downtown Kuala Lumpur and see something else apart from the view of the Petronas Towers from my room.

We first went to the nearby Pavillion Mall which is like our Greenbelt, only with more high end shops, brand name conscious shoppers would have a field day in this mall. The cheapskate that we are, or should I say, that I am, we were just contented looking at the things we cannot buy.

My colleagues and our friend Deepika from New Delhi
Issey Miyake Tree?

The Fountain with Hibiscus design (in front of Pavillion Mall)
Sticky: Traditional hand made candy

Street sign: Jalan is Malay for road (Interesting, in Waray, road is called Dalan)

It was a good thing that my grade school classmate Lalin works in KL so we decide to meet her so that she can show us around and so that I can also give my pasalubong (present), Fudgee Bar and Hany Milk Chocolate imported from the Philippines.

 She decided to take us to Jalan Alor, a street near the mall shopper's paradise of Bukit Bintang. According to my research it was formerly known as the red light district of Kuala Lumpur (bummer..hehehe) the area has since undergone a number of facelifts and is now filled with gastronomic delights (Hmm, wasn't there gastronomic delights before? Forget it).

Street food KL Style

Tau Foo: Stall selling Gelatin

There are no billboards in this area, just smaller signs in Chinese and a lot of outdoor restaurants, stalls selling barbecued meat, fish balls (Manong, how much per tusok?) fruit shake etc.

I went to KL to eat Ginisang (sauteed) Kangkong!

Sauteed Baby Kailan (Chinese Broccoli)

Squid with Bagoong (shrimp pate)

My favorite, Bak kut teh

We decided to eat in one of the restaurants and the food was good specially the soup, Bak Kut Teh which according to Wikipedia: The name literally translates as "meat bone tea", and, at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours. However, additional ingredients may include offal, varieties of mushroom, choy sum, and pieces of dried tofu or fried tofu puffs. Additional Chinese herbs may include yu zhu (rhizome of Solomon's Seal) and ju zhi (buckthorn fruit), which give the soup a sweeter, slightly stronger flavor. Light and dark soy sauce are also added to the soup during cooking, with varying amounts depending on the variant. Garnishings include chopped coriander or green onions and a sprinkling of fried shallots.

The soup had a distinct taste due to the herbs and spices but you will not get umay or sick of eating it. It was definitely perfect for my cough and cold. (Quarantine alert!)

Calamansi Juice
After dinner, we walked around Bukit Bintang, watched a reggae band performing on the street, took more pictures and went back to our hotel as it was already late in the evening (there were still a lot of people and malls close at 11:00pm)

That was our second day in Malaysia. This is the Wandering Lion, signing off. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I ♥ Paco in Coconut Milk

If there is one vegetable that I would not get sick of eating it would be Paco, an edible fern (Scientific name: Diplazium esculentum) that grows in most of Southeast Asia. It is not really a popular vegetable and I seldom see it being sold in the public market so when I do get a chance to see it, I make sure that I buy a bunch or two.

Most restaurants use this fern to make a salad but I (or should I say my Mama) still prefer to cook paco in coconut milk. I am from Eastern Samar and Warays like me love to cook veggies in coconut milk and paco definitely goes well with it.

My mother was lucky to buy paco from an ambulant vendor in Muntinlupa public market last weekend, good thing there was some left as one guy almost bought everything that the vendor was selling (hoarder alert!). At Php4.00 per bunch, it was definitely a good buy.

Just like other leafy vegetables, you just need to    take the tender sprouts and remove the mature leaves and stalk before cooking. Saute some garlic and onions, add the coconut cream, season with salt and voila, you've got a tasty dish.

You can add pork or shrimp if you want some protein but paco would still taste great even without it.

That's the finish product, a vegetarian dish that is great specially now that we are celebrating the Lenten season.

Paco in coconut milk plus fried fish, what more can I ask for?

This is the Wandering Lion, signing off. Peace! 

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When I grow old I want to be like Lolo Marcelo Hostallero

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. -- Mark Twain

(RIP Lolo Marcelo, He was 105 years old)

On our tour of Chavayan in Sabtang Island, Batanes we had a pit stop in the house of Lolo Marcelo Hostallero, who at 104 years old is still a strong, able bodied man. He is quite a local celebrity as everyone who goes on a tour has to stop by Lolo Marcelo's abode and do a meet and greet with the jolly centenarian.

I don't know if I will reach Lolo Marcelo's age or even half of it but I do hope that I will be like him when I am old and gray. I don't want to be like those old folks who suffer dementia and do not remember the people around them.

When we had a refreshing drink of buko (coconut) juice courtesy of Lolo Marcelo's daughter, Nanay Tiding, there was a joke that the buko juice was the secret to his long life. Gay Backpacker (that's her beside Lolo Marcelo) and I quipped that we were just aiming to reach at least 80 years so if it would take a lot of buko juice to reach a hundred then we would just think about it. You do know what buko juice does to the body right? I don't want to spend the remaining years of my life urinating every waking hour. The offer is good but I think I'll pass.

Kidding aside, it was our privilege to meet you Lolo Marcelo. Thank you very much and if I do become old I wanna be just like you, with or without buko juice.

This is The Wandering Lion signing off (just in cyberspace).
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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tara na sa Rizal Park

When we think of traveling, what immediately comes to mind are exotic locales, white sand beaches, the off the beaten path etc. Basically we think of places that are far from the place where we live. But just in case you are thinking of going out this weekend and you do not want to go to the mall, the best place to go to is the Rizal Park.

Why Rizal Park? I know it is such a cliche place to go to, citing the fact that it is on every tourist's list of must-see destination in Manila and that it has been there since time immemorial but the refurbished park is worth a visit or two dear readers. I work in Intramuros and pass by the park on my way to work everyday but I still stop by when I can.

Situated in the heart of the city of Manila, it is at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard, overlooking Manila Bay. According to Wikipedia, while the social and business activities during the Spanish rule were confined in nearby Intramuros, a small area south of the walls was cleared to prevent sneak attacks from the patriotic natives. The area was shaped like a small moon (lunette) thus the name Luneta. Also called Bagumbayan, the park is now named after the martyr of Philippine revolution, Jose Rizal.

If you are coming from Taft Avenue you will see the newly refurbished sign which provides an imposing facade for the park. The relief map of the Philippines which is located right at the back is yet to be renovated.

For those with kids in tow, the best place to go to is the newly renovated Children's Playground which is right beside the neo-classical building of the Department of Tourism. Entrance fee is just Php10.00 both for kids and adults. There are monoblock chairs and tables with umbrellas where you can sit down and eat or rest after the kids get tired of playing (if they do get tired). The mandatory slide and swing is there for the kids to play in along with the giant shoe, fish, turtle and dinosaurs that are bound to delight even those who are not so young.

The statue of Lapu-Lapu located in the Agrifina Circle, also known as "The Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom" is right in front of the DOT building and will not be missed by anyone. Before Mactan's hero there used to be a giant globe and a skating rink there. My mother even has a picture in front of the globe back in the '70s.

If you are looking for a more relaxing entertainment then you can head over to the newly upgraded Luneta Dancing Fountain. Constructed in 1968 and redesigned by the same man who developed the original fountain, German-Filipino William Schaare, it features as much as 88 feet high of pulsating fountain, while 38 smaller squirts of water surround it. On a given day you can hear Katy Perry, The Glee Cast, Craig David and many other pop stars songs blasting from the speakers providing the background music to the dancing fountain. It is a prettier sight at night as the fountain is given a boost of color by multi-colored lights.

Other attractions are The Japanese and Chinese Gardens (Entrance fee is Php5.00), the usual pasyalan of lovers)

Of course a trip to Rizal Park will not be complete if you do not take a picture or have your picture taken with the Rizal Monument.

At the end of the park is the Quirino Grandstand, where various historical events have taken place. You can fly a kite, play badminton, run or join the folks who work out or dance there every morning. If you have some cash then you can proceed to the Manila Ocean Park or you can just watch the world famous Manila Bay sunset to end the day.

In a city filled with smog and busy people working day in and day out, it is nice to take a break and relax in the Manila's answer to New York's Central Park. Pilipinas Tara na sa Rizal Park!

How to get to Rizal Park

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Batanes Oddventure

As I mentioned in the previous post, our flight which was supposed to be at six in the morning was rescheduled at 10 am. We arrived in the capital town of Basco, 30 minutes before noon and with the overcast skies and chilly weather we knew that we were really in the country's northernmost province. Batanes was no longer on my mind, let the fun begin!

First Stop: Hiro's Cafe

Since we arrived close to lunch time, stopping at Hiro's Cafe for our much needed nourishment was very much welcomed by our group of five. The Gay Back Packer and Silent Mike were still in Manila and would just join the group on the second day.

Hiros' Cafe is owned and managed by the very friendly and oozing with boundless energy, Ms. Lydia Roberto. A very busy lady, she took the time to welcome all the guests who were also staying at the Batanes Seaside Lodge.

Steamed Dibang (Flying fish) and Beef and Camote Fries
Hapa, the Ivatan style laing (taro stem and leaves cooked in coconut milk)
Fish Lumpia

Next Stop: The Fountain of Youth

With our stomachs filled to the brim (parang balde lang), we wasted no time and immediately went to our first destination, Racuh-a-Idi, where the Fountain of Youth is located. Bless, the entrepreneurial Travelista, quipped that we should have brought small bottles so we can take some of the water and sell it back in Manila.

Our van took us to Sitio Diura, a fishing village located in Mahatao, Batan Island. It was quite surprising to see people greeting us even though we were complete strangers. I guess they are already used to seeing tourists but it was a welcome change from the snobbery of urbanites. The van stopped at the edge of the cemented road so we knew that it was time to do some trekking. Fountain of Youth here we come.

Finally, after 15 minutes of trekking and with overcast skies, the chilly weather and our kindred spirits guiding our way, we arrived at the so-called fountain. 

My regret was that I failed to drink the water, I could have gone back to my seventeen year old self. On second thought maybe that was not a good idea.

We took some cliche shots (as Journeying James likes to say it) and had our first piktyur piktyur session in Batanes. It was a nice way to start the tour and we were obviously craving for more.

(to be continued)