Tag: nature

Tara, Isabela!

Isabela is the largest province of the Philippines and the largest on the island of Luzon in land area. Its capital is the city of Ilagan. We have our Mengal festival yearly. Where Miss Earth pageant’s Resorts Wear and Talent Portion Competition was recently held at my hometown. I am from Echague, Isabela. Yes, I am an Ilokana and I absolutely love pinakbet, inabraw, inatata and most especially native tinola!

Now, let me tour you first before we talk more about our delicacies. Tempting, I know right!

Magat Dam Magat Dam

First of all, Magat Dam. A major source of power and water supply in Northeastern Luzon, and Southeast Asia’s biggest hydroelectric dam. It is located at the boundaries of Alfonso Lista, Ifugao and Ramon, Isabela. There is no entrance fee so if you want to breathe fresh air while enjoying the nature, you can come here. In addition to that, you can bring your bike or just stroll when you are with friends. My daughter were so thrilled upon seeing fishermen on their boats that she wanted to ride it there and then. While my Daddy took pleasure in fresh and live fish. He bought kilos of fish back then.

Ilagan Sanctuary Image result for ilagan sanctuary

Next destination is the most accessible natural tourist spot in the whole province. Located in a portion of Fuyot Spring National Park that comprises the Northern Sierra Madre National Park. A hike of about 2.5 kilometers from the caves will lead to Pinzal Falls which is the main source of water for the swimming pools right by the picnic areas. The sanctuary also houses several parks and recreation areas including a botanical garden, boating area, a hanging bridge, zip line, fish pond, and a mini-zoo.

Crocodile SanctuaryRelated image

Also, we have the Philippine crocodile or bukarot is considered the most threatened crocodilian species in the world due to hunting, destructive fishing and habitat conversion. It was rediscovered in the town of San Mariano in 1999. The crocodile sanctuary protects this special animal by keeping hatchlings in a rearing station before releasing them in the wild 18 months later.

Image may contain: 6 people, including Bianka Alejandro, Deborah May A. Garcia and Bea A. Alejandro, people smiling, people sitting
With my Mom, nieces and kids. We always have our family picture taking here at the butaka.


In addition we have the butaka. Have you heard of it? It’s a reclining lounge with a lengthy back, extended arms found in many homes here. Isabela is the home to the world’s largest lounge chair (weighing 2,368 kilos) which was built to promote woodcraft/furniture industry. The gigantic chair measures 9.7 feet wide, 20.8 feet long and 11.4 feet high. Found in a shed at the Freedom Park in Ilagan as a town landmark. Both my parents own a butaka at our house. They had their supplier made a little verison, a customized one for their apo, my daughter Grey. And it’s still sturdy. I feel cozy every time I’m at the butaka. I can fall asleep quickly. Likewise, my parents are like my butaka. My security blanket.

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Honeymoon Island

Furthermore, as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines with its crystal clear waters teaming with live fishes and corals is a sure haven for sea folks. At around 3:00 in the afternoon, a major low tide affects the area which reveals crazy rock formations, small basins of corals and live fishes. A virgin island that will capture your mind & soul.

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Palanan Related image

Moreover, stargazing in the coastal town of Palanan is a definitely a must do. The night sky lits up with billions of lights that you could go on staring at them. Aside from the fact that it has wonderful beaches to offer, too.

Now, lets go to our delicacies!


The local tribe of Isabela – the Dumagats, still practice barter trading. You can trade a can of sardines for freshly caught lobsters. Yes, you got it right, lobsters. The Dumagat Tribe is one of the oldest tribes in the country. Dumagat tribe is perhaps the oldest living tribe in the Philippines. I think it would be my privilege and honor to get to mingle with them up close and personal. One day, I will bring my kids to play with them.

Pancit Cabagan Image result for famous longganisa in cauayan

The most popular local specialty to try. It is made of stir-fried, fresh miki noodles with mixed vegetables, quail’s eggs and topped with cripy lechon de carajay or fried pork bits. You can try this in many restaurants but locals recommend always Josie’s Panciteria & Restaurant in Cabagan, Isabela as serving the best variety. But I found a nearer place at Cauayan, Isabela called Triple J’s restaurant.

Aling Luring’s Gotohan

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“Sobrang sarap po nitong mga inihain sa amin aa Aling Luring’s! Serkele, Goto, Lumpia, at Okoy, lahat okay! Definitely a must-try kapag napadaan po kayo sa Cauayan, Isabela” ~Sen. Bam Aquino. Cauayan Mayor Bernard Dy (white polo shirt) and Isabela Governor Bojie Dy (black tshirt) with Sen. Aquino.

Originated at J.M. Basa st. Concepcion Baliwag, Bulacan. Established in the early 70s by Leonila “Nanay Luring” Castro Trinidad. The concept of a traditional filipino “meryenda” (snack) such as goto- a rice porridge with stewed ox tripe, serkele, palabok, tokwa baboy, lumpiang gulay, chicken arrozcaldo with puto & kutchinta was born and is continually in existence at this place. The family’s food business branched out to the far northern part of the Philippines at Cauayan, Isabela in 1985. The concept and the original menu has not been altered since then, with the addition of sweet dessert like biko, sapin sapin, pitchi pitchi, bibingka and the fast rising popularity of the side dish “okoy” with special vinegar for dipping.
Good heathy food that will nourish not just your appetite but also your soul.

Inabraw Image result for inabraw picture

Inabraw or dinengdeng is a tasty combination of different fresh vegetables such as jute leaves, bamboo shoots, young corn, patola, eggplant, tomato, okra, malunggay, bitter melon, string beans, squash flowers, and other products with bagoong. This is one of my comfort food. My mom would add malunggay and fried fish, too. Yummy!

Mushroom Image result for mushroom cauayan

Cauayan City  is the “mushroom city of the North.” You can find unique dishes made from farm-grown mushrooms here like the mushroom empanada. It’s filled with sliced oyster mushrooms and sauce instead of meat. The town’s Mushroom Center produces other unique mushroom-based dishes like mushroom pickles, mushroom tempura, mushroom patties, mushroom sisig, mushroom shake – and even mushroom ice cream. I would say, vegetarians will love this.

Inatata & Corn Coffee

Image result for inatata & binallayIsabela is the rice granary of the North. You can find rice delicacies like tupig and suman in different towns. Inatata is a glutinous rice creamed with coconut milk, sugar and a pinch of salt. The name comes from a combination of the words for mother and father “ina” and “tata” to reflect the labor of love from parents because of the care in which it takes to wrap the rice treats. It looks like ammunition belts of a machine gun but paired with hot choco or hot coffee will make your day.

As a corn capital of Philippines too, Isabela offers variety of corn delicacies. One of which is the corn coffee.  It lacks caffeine so you can consume it anytime of the day. Aside from corn coffee, they also have nachos, corn shake and pastillas that are all made of corn.


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Another homegrown rice cake is Binallay, made of glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves. “Balay” means “house”. This has religious significance and traditionally served during the Holy Week, to help Isabelinos endure hunger during the fasting period.


Native tinola Image result for native tinola

I grew up eating my vegetables like malunggay, saluyot, eggplant, sigarilyas, string beans, squash and even bitter gourd. I love my mother’s famous tenderly delicious beef steak and her adobo that meat will almost fall on its bone. My all-time favorite is native tinola. Why? Because my father will butcher one of his native chickens then my mother will cook it. See the tandem behind the preparation & cooking? I love the partnership my parents have. That’s called labor of love. They are my Yin Yang. So every time I am home, my dad & mom will cook for me. Native tinola tastes no other. Nothing compares to the aroma and invigorating soup. It warms my heart and my stomach is full, too.

Finally, I would like to add the most prominent celebration in Isabela is the Bambanti Festival celebrated every January. Named after the Scarecrow which guards the fields from birds and pests, the Bambanti Festival celebrates the agricultural industry, natural resources, culture and industries of the entire province. This year’s festival has got them in Guinness World of records.

I will make another blog about what adventures and where to stay when in Isabela. For now, let’s satisfy our hunger.

A day in Mt. Maarat

A day in Mt. Maarat with my siblings and their family

Mt. Maarat is located in San Mateo, Rizal within the west border of Quezon City and south borders of Antipolo and Marikina City while on the northern side is the province of Rizal and Pasig City, Manila and Bulacan Province are in the east border.


To conquer this mountain, you have to go for a steep uphill ride with approximately 5-kilometer distance from the foot of the mountain which makes an extreme challenge for bikers in neighboring cities such as Metro Manila, Marikina, and Rizal.

Trekking all the way to the summit of Mt. Maarat is a very challenging task, especially for heavy build person like me but it’s a great opportunity to test your endurance. However, it’s a rewarding experience as you glimpse the breathtaking panoramic view of Metro Manila while being surrounded by lush green trees and fresh mountain breeze.

While enjoying the overlooking panoramic view from the top of the mountain, nature embraces you with the sound of silence and a perfect opportunity recuperates your body and mind from stress.

Although we took a ride with private car from the foot of the mountain so that trekking the summit will be less effort to us as we consider the safety of our kids who come along with us. This one of a kind endurance challenge is one of the most memorable experience for us.


Nature with architecture

Nature with architecture

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Planning for a Summer Gate-away? Visit Dumaguete Philippines

Travel Dumaguete, the city of gentle people! Situated on the plains of the Southeastern coast of the large island of  Negros, Central Visayas Philippines. Dumaguete has a lot to offer for travelers and visitors. Many tourist spots can be found in Dumaguete, that you can enjoy during your stay.  It is among the top ten most visited tourist destinations in the country. And hey, it is listed as the Top 5 among the Seven Best Places to Retire Around the World according to Forbes in 2014. The place is way too cool and a lot of nice beaches nearby.  Restaurants are scattered around so there’s no way to feel hunger as you explore the place. Prices are affordable. There are Hotels too that has a lot to offer during your stay. So, what are you waiting for? Explore Dumaguete Now!


Delicacies in Town

One of the famous delicacies in Dumaguete is Budbud. It is basically sticky rice with chocolate wrapped with banana leaf. You can partner it with hot chocolate drink and is best to have for breakfast and snacks. You can buy Budbud and choco hot drink together at Dumaguete Supermarket “Painitan” for a very low price. Another delicacy that travelers want to bring home is the SansRival. It is aFilipino dessert cake made of layers of buttercream, meringue and chopped cashews. Sans Rival and silvanas are famous food souvenir or “Pasalubong” in Dumaguete which can be bought at  Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries, known for its deliciously baked cake.
Not just that, Dumaguete has a lot of tasty foods at a very affordable price.


Popular Destinations Nearby


Just within the city, have a walk at Rizal Boulevard and experience the sea breeze of a 740-meter boardwalk facing a wide beachfront lined with various restaurants and sidewalk vendors. A few walk away from the boulevard is the Dumaguete Belfry Tower, was built in 1811 to warn the locals of incoming attacks. Silliman portal is worth to visit too. At 10- 20 minutes ride going to the south, where you can find nice beaches and resorts like Sta. Monica Beach Resort, Atmosphere ResortAntulang Beach Resort and a lot more. We’re not yet over, you still have a lot of nice places to discover. There are hotels and restaurants available around the city, and also resorts nearby offer accommodations too.

If you want an ultimate diving and dive with the sea turtles, then visit Apo Island, a Marine Sanctuary considered to be one of the best dive spots in the world, home of more than two-thirds of the world’s known coral species. Only a 30-minute boat ride from Zamboangita, a town approximately 20kms south of Dumaguete.

Bais Dolphin WatchingManjuyod Sandbar located at 45kms north of Dumaguete city. Approximately 45 minutes ride will bring you to Capinyahan Wharf, the jump-off point for the motor-boat ride to Tanyon Strait, the home of dolphin species including the famous spinner dolphins and occasionally some whale species. After dolphin watching, you will end up to Manjuyod Sandbar, a crescent strip of white sand that appears when the tide is low. There are cottages available for accommodation. It is well-known for Maldives of the Philipines


The Beauty of Nature by the Mountain


Not just by the sea has a spectacular view, but also in the mountains. Mountain resorts, fall, and lakes are another interesting place to go in Dumaguete. If you like hiking, then we will visit Casaroro Falls located 10 kilometers west of Dumaguete, with an astounding height of 100 feet, the water plunges into a deep cold basin before it flows down to a stream.

Another crystal clear water twin lake brought to you by nature is the Balinsasayaw Twin Lake located at about 14kms away from Dumaguete going to the westside. Enjoy boating, snorkeling and even diving at the place. Breathe the fresh air from the green trees of nature and listen to the humming birds while enjoy boating/kayak. We are not done yet, visit Balanan Lake too, same as what you’ve experience in the twin lake. It is located at 55 kilometers south of Dumaguete then headed to the west for approximately 10 kilometers. Situated in is the beautiful lake surrounded by the tropical rainforest. A mountain resort has different accommodations and outdoor activities to offer such as Zip-line, kayaking, fishing, trekking and hiking on concrete pathways the wind around the lake.

Visit our province and enjoy its beautiful nature.