Great Harvest: A Baler Peanut Butter Story

travel buddies

travel buddies

One of the things that I look forward to when I go to Baler is their creamy, yummy and locally made peanut butter.  Aside from a private vehicle, dwellers of the city can reach Baler through a 6-hour bus ride.  And right beside the bus station is the souvenir and take-home-presents (pasalubong) store where Nanay Pacing’s peanut butter can be purchased.

Via bus ride, I was in Baler this weekend.  And upon arrival and while the bus was to park at its station, I took a peek from the window to check the store.  The store was closed and it seemed no longer there. My friends and I, who equally loved Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter, wonder how can a very busy store located at a very accessible and perfect spot, could cease operation?

When breakfast time came while spreading the same delicious peanut butter on my toasted bread (hotels in Baler serve this peanut butter in their buffet), I got to ask one of the restaurant staffs about what happened to Nanay Pacing’s store and where it may have transferred.

I was told that Nanay Pacing’s peanut butter is no longer owned by Nanay Pacing.  I was told that Nanay Pacing, the label, is no longer owned by Nanay Pacing.  And that indeed, the big store beside the bus station has closed.

The restaurant staff through a whisper told me that the label has been acquired by the most powerful family in Aurora and that the peanut butter is now being sold at one of the halls of the municipal building.  But with a flicker of hope on catching and tasting the original recipe, I was further told that Nanay Pacing’s new store is now smaller and has relocated and still sells a creamy peanut butter but already of a different brand.  I asked the staff where the store was, she answered she didn’t know.

To validate the story of the restaurant staff, I asked our tour guide cum driver to bring us to the Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter store.  And indeed, he drove us at the municipal hall!  We entered the building, climbed the second floor and indeed saw the bunch of jars of Nanay Pacing’s peanut butter on a shelf waiting to be purchased by mesmerized buyers.  I purchased a couple of bottles for pasalubong.

Upon exiting the municipal building, I then instructed our driver/tour guide to bring us to the new store of Nanay Pacing.  He humbly told us that the store at the bus station is already closed.  I then ordered him to inquire with people at the bus station on where the new store of Nanay Pacing is.  They for sure would know.

good bye nanay pacing, hello great harvest!

good bye nanay pacing, hello great harvest!

And indeed our driver through a whisper by one of the folks at the bus station was told on where the new Nanay Pacing’s store was.  He then drove us to the nearby Baler Public Market and pointed to us the new store of Nanay Pacing.  The store was smaller, offers fewer items but still clean and organized.

The bunch of peanut butter jars can easily be seen displayed on the shelves.  I asked the lady manning the store on what happened to the label.  With a smile, she ignored my question and simply answered “we have our own version of a peanut butter and free taste is available”.  I simply told her, “My God, you are so professional!”

I of course took a tasting spoon and whipped a spoonful from the jar.  And when I tasted it, I can suddenly hear my taste buds cheering and clapping for joy!  I knew then that it was the same lovely peanut butter which I was mesmerized when I first tasted it as offered to me by no less than Nanay Pacing herself during my first visit in Baler.

my new favorite peanut butter plus the usual nengkoy's favorite fried pastillas (for pasalubong)

my new favorite peanut butter plus the usual nengkoy’s favorite fried pastillas (for pasalubong)

the true deal in baler peanut butter

the true deal in baler peanut butter

I purchased a couple of jars and regretted buying at the municipal hall. I then decided that I will just give away all the peanut jars I purchased at the municipal building and I will keep the peanut butter I bought at the public market for my own personal consumption.

While writing this story, I am munching on a piece of bread with heaps of the delicious Great Harvest Peanut Butter!

Ayana, alam nyo na ang hindi dapat bilin at dapat bilin sa Baler…

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Ridiculously Stunning Views: The Road to Milford Sound

Referred to as the 8th wonder of the world by Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, I have zero idea on what and where is Milford Sound.  But with my recent visit to New Zealand, I can attest to what Rudyard Kipling has tried to imply.

The journey to Milford Sound from Queenstown (where me and my travel buddies were based) in New Zealand took about 5 hours.  But I can actually consider the 5 hour ride that we took (through a tour group bus) to Milford Sound as one stunning experience.

super cool bus...

super cool bus…

Reaching Milford Sound by land was half the fun of my Milford Sound encounter.  It is because the road to our destination is extremely scenic.  I can’t remember the number of times I uttered “Wow!” in the entire duration of the bus ride.

Part of the rewarding experience of the bus ride are the bus stops.  The modern and transparent ceiling bus would pull over so that passengers can go down, breathe the freshest air, take a short stroll and snap some awesome photos.

Three of the amazing stops that I particularly loved most were:

Egliton Valley

gorgeous! (parang ako)

gorgeous! (parang ako)

Monkey Creek

monkey!

monkey!

Mirror Lake

can't believe that I made this shot!

can’t believe that I made this shot!

picture muna

picture muna

I  definitely agree with most visitors of New Zealand declaring that the road to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic road trip on the planet.  This is particularly true on the super scenic State Road 94 which is the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

Can you just imagine? I am not even talking about my exhilarating experience yet in Milford Sound itself.  I was just talking about the road to this heaven of a place!  If given another opportunity, I would definitely do another bus ride to Milford Sound, may it take 5 or 6 or 10 hours and be amazed again by the beauty of these stunning places.

Mapapa-iyak ka sa wow!

Bustling Bus-less Busted Manila

bus

city buses around the metro

I am a daily witness to the decaying City of Manila through the swarming and infestation of mendicants and homeless people on its streets as well as the unforgiving traffic jam you would encounter daily.  Going to your destination via roads of City of Manila would agonizingly be delayed because of traffic. I am so sure that the speed of rumor is faster than the speed of your car’s speedometer when you are to drive on the streets of Manila.

But guess what? Last Friday it only took me 30 minutes to go to Manila Post Office building from my office in Malate to get a personal parcel then back.  Within that 30-minute period, I was even able to shoot a few photos of the iconic Manila Post Office building.  Going right at the center of City of Manila was a breeze.  This is because of the new local government’s tightfisted drive and stingy ordinance of no longer allowing bedlam-causing buses in the city.

manila post office

inside the majestic facade of manila post office

the soon-to-be-extinct profession

the soon-to-be-extinct profession

To further substantiate this surprising development, when I and my family went yesterday up north to Manaoag, Pangasinan, we decided to pass through the City of Manila.  We passed the often-vehicle-filled Roxas Boulevard, the panic-infusing Lawton area, the traffic-choke-point Quiapo, the chaotic jumble streets of Dimasalang, Dangwa and La Loma.  To our amazement, we were out of Manila and reached the north express way in less than 30 minutes.

Still further, when we came back to Metro Manila later in the day, we decided to pass through the often-dreadful and jaywalker-infested Taft Avenue.  And still, we passed through Taft Avenue with so much ease.  My sister could not contain herself and asked how much buses were eliminated for such a road to move vehicles at an unexpectedly speedy pace.

This truly is a very welcome development.  Congratulations to the new City Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada and his Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno for growing some balls in disallowing those monstrous buses in the city.

May pramis… Pramis…

Bus Movies

On a long journey via bus what do you usually do? Are you the type who would bring tons of salty chips to nibble? Are you the forty winks aficionado? Are you the bus’ bookworm? Are you the creature who would simply gaze outside the window?  Or are you the beast who would drain your battery’s digital gizmo?

Very long travels by bus could be very daunting.  That is why a lot of bus companies try to be innovative by introducing various facilities available inside these massive roadsters – free WiFi; cool drinks and sandwiches for sale; air conditioning; toilet facility; shock-proof LCD flat screen TV with DVD player; reclining chairs, etc.  These add-on features aims to further enhance passenger’s comfort over a lengthy journey.

I have been to two long journeys via transit buses in the past week (first was an 8-hour journey to Baguio and just the other day was the two-and-a-half-hour travel to Magalang, Pampanga).  Adding up all the hours I spent inside the bus on a round-trip-basis would be a total of 21 hours.

While inside those buses, I was all the types I inquired above.  But what I noticed every time a movie will have to be played on TV inside a Filipino bus, the film has to be a Hollywood movie.  I will not rant about the pirated DVD being used by these bus companies but instead the type of movie being shown.

I guess it would have been better and my focus would have been more stuck on TV if the movie being shown were the black and white 50’s and 60’s Filipino film that were shown in the pinalakang tabing (silver screen).  The time spent inside the bus could have been more pleasant and comforting seeing the young and stunning Gloria Romero, the then skinny Dolphy and plump Panchito and Dely Atay-atayan, the bubbly Rosemarie Sonora, debonair Mario Montenegro as well as suave Rogelio Dela Rosa or Diomedes Maturan.  The Pinoy film to be shown would be at its best if, of course, the contrabida (villain) would be the wicked Bella Flores.

Further to this suggestion, it would be best if contemporary Filipino short indie films would be featured in between these classic full length movies.  This I guess would be one great vehicle for the unrecognized and undistributed yet artistic short indie films gain wider viewership.

If this fantasy would turn out to become a reality in the future, this would improve and further bind Pinoy cultural cohesiveness.  It presents the Pinoy film heritage and at the same time makes the riding public aware of the richness of the prevailing film industry.

Spending bus hours on the road could have been more comfortable and enjoyable!

Ang Tagalog ng bas ay bus.