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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I have always appreciated and been amazed by the blooming of flowers.  This is especially true if I happen to be touring abroad on a spring time.  I never had the appreciation of blooming flowers in the Philippines.  Maybe because we don’t have a spring season (we only have dry and wet seasons) and because flowers seem to bloom here at any time of the year.

But with my recent trip to Bagac Bataan at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, I was so amazed by the texture and richness of Boungainvillea (bonggambilya in Filipino), I could not resist myself from not having a photo with it!

bonggambilya ba kamo?

happy… pati tummy!

Bongga…

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Summer 2017 is on here in the Philippines!  Here’s my first summer adventure this year!  Fun spending an early summer season with MJ, Willie and JB…

It’s my third time in Baler and this bucolic province never ceases to amaze me.  Love this place!

I lab Baler!

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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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It is shocking to learn from the news that a group of businessmen as well as the government of Palawan has plans of putting-up a Nickelodeon-designed underwater theme park.  This indeed is very disturbing.

These builders of artificial theme parks must be made to realize that Palawan itself is one big and breathing park.  A park built by no one but nature itself.  A natural park where people can thrillingly commune with nature.

Palawan in so many times has been voted as the best island in the world.  All human beings who has been to this heavenly place dubbed as “the last frontier” can attest that this island is one of a kind.  The environment is serene, the air is fresh, the waters are crystal clear and the wildlife is healthy.

An underwater theme park is the last thing that Palawan needs.  Owners of Nickelodeon obviously has not gone diving or snorkeling the beautiful waters of Palawan.  They have yet to know the richness of the marine wildlife found in that beautiful island.  Thus, there is no underwater feature of Palawan that is needed to be enhanced.  The clearness of the water and the vastness of marine wildlife in itself is one blissful natural theme park already.

booo!

booo!

I obviously disagree and would not want the construction of an underwater theme park in Palawan.  This opted me to sign-up to the “No Nickelodeon’s Underwater Theme Park in Palawan” petition/campaign.  And let me ask all those who stumbled upon this post to join me by signing up at:

https://www.bataris.org.ph/petitions/no-to-nickelodeon-s-underwater-theme-park-in-palawan

photo from my most recent trip in el nido, palawan

photo from my most recent trip in el nido, palawan

palawan: heaven on earth

palawan: heaven on earth

One more thing…  SpongeBob SquarePants may be adorable but I don’t need to see or be with him for me to enjoy the most beautiful island in the world.

Nakakaloka!

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One of the beautiful highlights of my recent Seoul trip was something unplanned and unexpected.  Me and my colleagues were lucky enough to be at the right place and at the right time when we happen to experience one traditional South Korean ceremony.

bonsingak: a totally different belfry

bonsingak: a totally different belfry

During the Joseon Dynasty, the Bosingak Belfry was used to keep time.  In the very old days when Seoul was still enclosed by 4 main gates, the bell of Bosingak would ring 33 times at 4:00 AM so as to signify that people can be allowed to enter Seoul.  And by 10:00 PM, the bell again would ring 28 times to alert the public that the gates to the city are closing.

On our way to Insadong (one shopping capital in Seoul), just outside Jonggak subway station, we happen to pass by one oriental-looking structure.  Being first timers and tourists of South Korea, we of course were lured to take photos of the massive building.  When we were called to step in at the rather old compound and was informed that entrance for free, we temporarily suspended our shopping itinerary at Insadong and instead marveled at the beautiful structure in front of us.

i love the colors...

i love the colors…

ring my bell... hahaha!

ring my bell… hahaha!

high fashion!

high fashion!

While taking photos of ourselves, the buildings and the guards in traditional and colorful Korean clothing, we were told that we can participate in the day’s ringing of the bell ceremony.  But before we were allowed to hit the bell with a massive wooden log suspended from the ceiling, we were told to first change into Korean traditional costumes.  The changing into colorful Korean clothes even made this awesome experience more unforgettable.

And at 12 high noon, we were hitting the massive bell of Bosingak to alarm the whole Seoul, South Korea!  And after this awesome experience, we were so inspired, ended up buying lots of traditional South Korean goodies at Insadong.

Kampanerang kuba ang peg!

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In my recent journey to New Zealand, I got to spend a very short period of time in Australia.  It is because my flight from Manila to Queenstown was via Sydney.  It was a 3 hour layover at the land down under.

While at the Sydney airport, I was ecstatic because despite the fact that chances of bumping into my favorite Aussie celebrity was like asking for the heavens to give me the greatest love life I don’t deserve, I was still positively expecting some mystic phenomenon to happen.  I was not expecting to bump into Kylie Minogue or Hugh Jackman nor Cate Blanchett or Chris Hemsworth.  I was not expecting Australians to bestow me a red carpet welcome.  I was not expecting the mayor to hand me the key to their city.  I was actually hoping to see Australia’s singing diva, Dami Im!

dami-im

dami was not popular yet during my visits in sydney...

dami was not popular yet during my visits in sydney…

I know it’s stupid but as soon as my feet landed on the grounds of Sydney, my bizarre and inexplicable hope for Dami Im to be at the airport!  And since I don’t have any photos to show, it means this longing did not transpire.  I guess the heavens was smart enough not grant such a wish, otherwise, I would not have left the airport in time for my journey to fresh Queenstown.

Let me just satiate and mollify this stupid wish by posting and listening to Dami Im’s latest single “Fighting for Love”.  I actually prefer Dami’s live performance during the X Factor TV show than the actual music video of the song…

Na-aning-aning lang sa Sidni…

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I thought my best choice of restaurant in Queenstown that me and my friends dined at would be the establishment that will fix my rice-deprived anatomy.  Yeah, unlike the Philippines, rice is not a staple in New Zealand and my few days of stay in that fresh country made me yearn for it.  I know that I get all grumpy and grouchy if I don’t have rice in my meal for a couple of days.

But surprisingly, the best and finest food establishment I encountered in my recent New Zealand adventure was that of Winnie’s Gourmet Pizza Bar.  Located at The Mall in Queenstown, Winnie’s is a relaxed and casual part-bar and part-restaurant kind of a joint. I loved the ambiance because it is not plush, ritzy and intimidating.

What particularly made me love this restaurant was the food.  Their gourmet pizza was really outstandingly delicious!  And with a quick look into their pizza selection, I can tell that their pizzas were not just the classic types but instead seem to embrace various flavors around the world.  I noticed some Thai inspirations, a Moroccan fabrication, a Hawaiian motivation and some Mexican creations.

zucha  & montanara (flavors of heaven)

With limited tummy space, my friend Denton was smart enough to order one large sized pizza in which each half is of a different flavor.  We settled for the Montanara, which I consider to be the sinful half of the pizza and the Zucha for the wholesome and healthier half.  Both are gluten-free by the way.

Zucha according to my happy taste buds got some roasted pumpkin, olives, some feta cheese, capsicum and toasted almonds.  The blending of these flavors above the crunchy pizza crust, pizza sauce, Parmesan cheese and parsley brings magic to ones palette!

Montanara according to our gracious waitress was the most popular among all their pizzas.  That is why we ordered for it.  And from the first bite of this delectable creation, I knew that the waitress knows what she was doing. This is actually the first time that I have eaten a pizza in which you would have to spread pistachio sour cream on it.  A mound of this yummy cream is actually placed at the middle of the pizza!

The Montanara toppings which consists of chicken fillets, brie cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions and sweet chili sauce, no doubt, was absolutely delicious.  It’s one pizza that gives me a reason to return and revisit Queenstown.  The taste was just marvelously unforgettable!

chicken!

chicken!

a kiwi classic

is this a kiwi classic? we loved it… especially when we dip the mussel meat into the cream sauce!

Aside from the pizza, we also ordered the succulent chicken wings which surprisingly was not oily and so tasty and crunchy.  And to add a Kiwi flavor in our meal, we of course ordered New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels.  Winnie’s freshly steamed NZ mussels in shallots, capsicum, white wine, cream and sweet chili sauce was one of the best in Queenstown.  I can say this because in almost all restaurants that we dined we always seem to order NZ mussels.  And Winnie’s version was always our basis of comparison.

happy tummy!

happy tummy!

With all these superlative thoughts, accounts and narratives about Winnie’s, I guess, I can really say that it is one of the must visits if you happen to be in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Winer ang tami ko sa Wini’s!

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Nengkoy is the nickname of my mom during her pre-school years. Her parents and relatives call her ‘Ang Neneng Ko’. With her pretty charm and appeal, she was usually called in a melodic way using this lovely phrase. Until it evolved for easier articulation of the phrase, Ang Neneng Ko was shorten to Nengkoy.

Nengkoy

Nengkoy is the nickname of my mom during her pre-school years. Her parents and relatives call her ‘Ang Neneng Ko’. With her pretty charm and appeal, she was usually called in a melodic way using this lovely phrase. Until it evolved for easier articulation of the phrase, Ang Neneng Ko was shorten to Nengkoy.