Category Archives: Food

When in Camiguin

White Island, Camiguin.
White Island, Camiguin.

I have traveled to other places before but my trip to Camiguin last weekend was special. It was my first real close-up encounter with Mindanao. Clueless about what to expect, I researched and planned to maximize the time and expense, both limited in my case.

Haha!

Harbouring from my own experience, I have made a checklist for budget travellers who wish to maximize their visit to the island.

Black sand beach of Agoho, Camiguin
The beach is their playground. (Agoho, Camiguin)

ENJOY THE BLACK-SAND BEACH just as much as its fairer counterpart. The beaches in mainland Camiguin are generally dark because of the island’s volcanic origin. While others may frown at it, I loved it because it felt so unpretentious and so rebellious to the white-sand beach supremacy. This white-sand beach-obsession has undervalued black-sand beaches in the country which, in my opinion, have an organic, non-conformist appeal.

Sunken Cemetery
The cemetery is ALIVE! with corals.

SNORKEL AT THE SUNKEN CEMETERY. It has more than just the giant cross and historical value to offer. Concealed by the sea are 26 hectares of marine sanctuary, teeming with corals, fishes and other marine life forms of different colors, shapes and sizes.

ASTONISHING! These kids at the Old Church Ruins of Camiguin sell candles and take amazing photos like pros. We learned that they were taught by the Department of Tourism. 1-2-3, smile!
ASTONISHING! These kids at the Old Church Ruins of Camiguin sell candles and take amazing photos like pros. We learned that they were taught by the Department of Tourism. 1-2-3, smile!

SAY YES TO CHILD PHOTOGRAPHERS who are part-time candle vendors at the Old Church Ruins. They are familiar with the best angles of the ruins and the choicest spots to pose at. This is useful for those who are in a hurry. However, make sure your camera settings are correctly adjusted. Also, remember to check the photos before leaving to avoid taking home pictures of poor quality. And, of course, give the children their tip for the service.

Katibawasan Falls
Katibawasan Falls is a must see in Camiguin. Test your tolerance by taking a dip in its ice cold pool.
Sto. Niño Cold Spring
Sto. Niño Cold Spring is among the many springs you can visit in Camiguin.
Ardent Hot Spring
Capping off the Camiguin Island Tour is the Ardent Hot Spring for a natural sauna experience.

BE READY TO GET HOT AND COLD during the island package tour. The itinerary usually includes icy cold springs and waterfalls, beaches and hot springs which will literally subject you to “extreme” temperatures. We chose to skip soda water pools and to only eat lunch at Sto. Niño Cold Spring to save more time but do not do the same in Katibawasan Falls. It is both strikingly beautiful and cold, it’s torturous!

Mantigue Island
The quite secluded Mantigue Island in Mahinog town, Camiguin is a sweet escape for meditation and relaxation. A few meters off the island is a marine sanctuary which is home to schools of fishes and some giant clams.

COMMUTE around Camiguin. ‘Relas, short for motorelas or tricycles, and jeepneys will allow you to save bucks. Take an eastward ‘rela [Note: This is if you’re on the western side of Mambajao like Brgy. Agoho. Don’t be confused by the “West Bound” signage of the ‘rela. These orange “West Bound” ‘relas ply east/west of the western side of the town.] to downtown Mambajao then a jeepney ride to Benoni Port on your way to Mantigue Island. It costs P10 and P20 each ride, respectively. Both rides take 30-45 minutes. The more accessible ¬habal-habal is pricier. One offered us P150 for two people for the way which is twice more expensive.

Kiping
Try a small serving of local delicacy Kiping (Kab-kab) at 5 pesos.

SKIP THE RESTOS to save money for pasalubong. You will not miss much, anyway. Price range per dish in the restaurants we came across is Php 150-300. Carenderia dish, meanwhile, only costs Php 25-30 per serving. Out of our food budget savings, we were able to buy four and a half dozens of Pastel (yema-filled buns) for a sum of Php 635.Other Camiguin treats you should consider sampling are chicharong nukos (squid crackling) and kiping (large fried taro flour chips with muscovado syrup) for Php 20 and Php 5 per serving, respectively.While my visit to Camiguin was truly enjoyable and generally smooth, there are a few things I wish I had considered and had actually done if only I had the money and time (which I hope you would also have, haha!).

Marine sanctuaries
Camiguin local government units have declared several spots off the island as marine sanctuaries.

INVEST IN GOOD SNORKELLING GEARS. While a set may be pricey, it can be used in almost all island adventures. Take note, we have 7,107 islands to choose from in the Philippines alone! Rentals, on the other hand, cost Php 50 to 150 per set. Buying your own set is not only budget-friendly but also sanitary. Imagine all the mouths those snorkelling sets went through!

CLIMB MT. HIBOK-HIBOK if you have the time. The climb and descent take around seven hours according to our guide. Permits from the DENR also need to be secured beforehand. Camping for a night is also allowed. This means that an additional day has to be spent for the experience. This active volcano is responsible for the warm temperature of Ardent hot spring. Also, its thick forest cover is just inviting.

I hope this checklist helps. Enjoy Camiguin!

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Dumaguete Eats: Food crawling in the University town

A quaint city which impresses guests with laid back environs and a buffet of food places, Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental is a treat for those wanting a quiet yet still sight-filled and gastronomic vacation.

Walking along Hibbard Avenue near Silliman University.
Walking along Hibbard Avenue near Silliman University.

The plan was to take a break from the usual seafood and grilled meat, so, we sampled the snack parlors of this university city. After a long bus ride from Cebu, the first stop was supposedly Sans Rival, however, several visitors were in queue so we decided against it and walked a few meters along the boulevard to find some food. Then, we tried Hoy Lugaw choosing it for its unique use of kitchen utensils as seats and lamps. But, the food wasn’t impressive.

ISDABES! Sorry but we're not into grill that time. Best in word play though.
ISDABES! Sorry but we’re not into grill that time. Best in word play though.

Reading through some blogs, we were led to Neva’s Pizza, Pasta, Atbp. located a little more than a kilometer from Silliman along Hibbard Avenue. The main magnet of Neva’s is its really cheap yet delicious menu. Bargain price! Most of its food are priced at less than a hundred pesos. The place is small and cramped but you wouldn’t mind it as its menu is friendly to your tongue and wallet.

NEVA. You Neva be poor here. Food bargain!
NEVA’S PIZZA. You’ll Neva be poor here. Food bargain!

The next day, after a quick tour of Lake Balanan, the next target was Mel’s Cafe (complete  name: From the Kitchen of Mel’s Cafe) near Rizal Boulevard. I have seen the cafe’s exterior a number of times when I visited Dumaguete City, however, the signage wasn’t that appealing to merit going in.

MEL'S CAFE. Time for a new signage (please).
MEL’S CAFE. Time for a new signage (please).

But, looks can be deceiving, its interiors, apparently, is quite the opposite of the facade. Artsy and lively, the cafe’s design more than compensates its outside. Their menu offers a lot of choices at reasonable prices. Tried their butter beer, pancakes, and sandwich.

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My favorites is the chocolate-draped pancake.

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Had a good serving of sandwich, too.IMG_2870

 

The butter beer magically disappeared from these cups.

A taste of Harry Potter world.
A taste of Harry Potter world.
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A Taste of Iloilo

By force of circumstance, Iloilo has become one of my frequented places outside Cebu. Joined student congresses there back in college, faculty meetings / trainings when I was an instructor in the state university, and project presentations / field work for my present job.

However, the several visits to Iloilo City were pretty brief so food tasting were just limited to talaba, biscocho, and butterscotchMy Iloilo heritage tours were just quick visits to get photo clicks of old mansions and churches. (Photos were taken December, 2013.)

wawa_1
Wawa Heritage Restaurant.

Continue reading A Taste of Iloilo

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Going a bit Swiss in Cebu

Cafe de Geneve
Quite a pricey try of Swiss food.

Scoured Trip Advisor for reviews of Cebu City’s best restaurants for a despedida (farewell) dinner for a friend who is about to leave for the US. The positive reviews pointed us to Cafe de Geneve which serves, according to their Facebook page, “healthy, homemade Swiss and international cuisine, wine, cocktails and more.”

For a group that is not well-acquainted with European dish, we had to rely to the recommendations of the cafe’s friendly staff. We ended up trying out their three (3) main dishes: Moroccan meatballs, Zurich chicken, and beef bourguignon. The food tasted well and quite different to taste buds accustomed with Filipino dish –as expected.

 

 

cafedegeneve-food

 

After the dish, time to dish out some bills. The cafe is not wallet-friendly for those scrimping on money. Belatedly, realized that the reviews which asked for larger servings where implicitly complaining of the price per serving. Price per meal usually starts at P300.00.

Prices aside, Cafe de Geneve is worth the visit especially for those who wish to enjoy an intimate ambiance and European food experience in Cebu.

 

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