An unusual Valentines date

Whenever I think of Valentine’s date, a picture of crowded malls and restaurants is the first that comes to mind. I can’t even remember the last time I was out for Valentine’s day.

Now, I’m back in Manila. Lala and I have been trying to make up for our two years of long distance relationship. We decided to go out and have an unusual Valentines date.

We went to Quiapo, Manila, not to tour around one of the most notorious market in the world for counterfeit and pirated goods but to shop for mountain bike accessories.

Quezon boulevard in Quiapo is one of the well-known places for buying bicycles and accessories. And if you’re up for buying cheap China-made accessories, there are a lot of sidewalk vendors offering a range of products.

Lala bought the following: Bottle cage mount – P80 Bike seat cover – P100 Bike front light – P120 Bicycle bell – P180

For serious cyclists, there are quality products in some of the shops. However I don’t suggest buying bicycles here as it is much cheaper in Cartimar in Libertad, Pasay.

When in Quiapo, don’t eat fastfood at the Filipino restaurants because the place is known for old Chinese eateries. One of the famous restaurants here is Ma Mon Luk.

Ma Mon Luk is named after a Chinese-Filipino chef/entrepreneur who is the innovator of siopao and mami here in Philippines. The eatery is an indoor open space ventilated with huge ceiling fans. The menu, plus framed write-ups and newspaper clips about the eatery hang on their wooden wall.

The place is an image of restaurant settings in Filipino movies during the 80s. They offer a limited selection of food, from mami, siopao, siomai, softdrinks, and bottled water.

We tried the special mami, special siopao, and siomai. The noodles was ok but the mami soup was too gamey for me to eat. Their siopao is good but it has a lot of salted egg inside, making it salty. Their siomai is big and meaty.

The noodles and siopao are handmade and the serving is quite big for me. That’s the reason why the price is not that cheap. It was a good experience eating out in a tradionally old eatery but overall the food there is not something I would crave for.

It was definitely a unique way to spend Valentines Day. It was like a tour in a some ways as I was also introduced to other known eateries in the area.

 

 

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Tagaytay – a momentary escape…

Typical summer temperature in Philippines is 34 degree Celsius but it sometimes rises to 37 degree Celsius. I, Lhia and Tina decided to go to Tagaytay and I tag my mom and lola along for a momentary escape from the summer heat in Manila.

Tagaytay City

Tagaytay is a high altitude city in Cavite that overlooks Taal Volcano and is relatively close to Manila. It is said to be 55 km away from the Capital City but it took us almost 4 hours to go there for not taking the route via Aguinaldo highway.

Leslie's Restaurant

food at leslie's

When we reached Tagaytay, we were disappointed that the temperature is as hot as Manila.

We spent the day with a lunch feast at Leslie’s Restaurant. They are known for their Bulalo Special, that is so tasty and the meat is so tender. I find their Ginisang Kangkong exceptional and their version of Bicol Express is not bad as well. Prices of the food varies from P200 – P600.

I can’t think of anything else to beat Tagaytay summer heat than by chilling with at Starbucks.

the group at Leslie's

view from Starbucks

After a few days, I went back to Tagaytay again; not because I’m still hoping for cool breeze like before but because I really want to climb the Taal Volcano.

I just don’t want to procastinate since I have other places to visit on my next vacation. My childhood friend Jayson who knows my eagerness to climb Taal accompanied me.

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We experienced a lot of hassles in transportation before reaching the volcano island. There are no other tourists in the boat terminal, the boat man was asking for P2,000 to go to the island but we bargain and agreed with P1,500.

Before starting the trek, Tourism fee of 50 pesos should be paid to the tourism office. Lazy tourists can rent horses if they don’t want to climb the volcano by feet. Actually most of them are lazy, lol. There are a few ones (mostly Caucasians) who are patient enough to climb it by feet like us.

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I can feel sweat all over my body, the road is a flatten dirt and soil and horses’ wastes are everywhere but thank god there are shower rooms available in the island.

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In the climb, I discovered something interesting. The Volcano Island is consists of different overlapping cones and craters of which forty-seven have been identified. The tourist spot – the one we climbed is not even the main crater.

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We didn’t climb all the way up after resting in a small Nipa Hut. We ran out of water and time as the boat driver only gave us 2 and a half hours to climb up and down. It was a good adventure but it’s something I’m not eager to do again unless if it’s by riding a horse or climbing it at twilight for a good color of the sky when I take photos.

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a day tour in an old Battle field..

Out of town trips have always been in my to-do list every time I went to Manila for vacation. With 7,107 islands and 17 regions, I have to travel every day for a couple of years to conquer Philippines.

With just a week and few days more to stay for vacation and do errands, I definitely can’t afford to go somewhere far. Hence I and some friends decided to go to Corregidor.

Corregidor Island also known as ‘Rocky Island’ is the key bastion of the Allies during the war. It is strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay, just south of Bataan province, Luzon, Philippines. It is a national shrine commemorating the battle fought there by U.S. and Filipino forces against overwhelming numbers of Japanese during World War II.

I’ve been to this place with some high school friends before; it was raining cats and dogs then. We were drenched exploring the island and were shivering in a military barge ride on our way back to Manila. A ferry sank somewhere near on the same day, making my family worried hearing it on news.

At present, I am doubtful that a military boat ride going to the island is still being offered to the public and for the sake of convenience, we booked a day tour with Sun Cruises. I took a cab to ensure that I would be early. Well I don’t want to miss a ferry this time; I learnt my lessons the hard way missing a flight. The cab dropped me off in front of CCP Complex, I was surprised to see a crowd jogging and doing aerobics. It was a long walk going to the meeting place.

Sunrise at Manila Bay

I walked by the long stretch of Manila Bay relishing the view. I realized that the sky is still giving a hint that sunrise just came by so I stopped and took a photo.

The ferry departed from Manila at 8 AM and arrived in Corregidor at 9:15 am.

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I loved the weather; this is the first photo I took in Corregidor.

wall sculpture

In a stopover, there is a small room with paintings and old photos (all in black and white) expressing the history of the island. Outside are sculpted walls. I should have done a panorama though.

Corregidor Ruins

We enjoyed a buffet lunch of Filipino and western dishes. They only offer a few varieties of dishes and taste wise, I give it 6 out of 10.

Couple in a ruin

We went to the Pacific War Memorial after lunch. The sun is so up already emanating scorching heat that is so uncomfortable and making my chances of having landscapes with plain white sky very high. I still tried to explore the place and saw this angle of the ruin. I was thinking that if these couple would see me in front of them with a camera in my hand they would get the signal that I want to take a photo of the ruin but they didn’t. So I just include them in my composition.

Statue in Corregidor

This is my favourite shot! I made these statues — tribute for Filipino and American defenders of the island statues — as the subject and the ruin as the background.

Barracks ruins

An expanse of Barracks ruins, harried to take this photo as the bus was leaving already.

Spanish Built Lighthouse

A quick shot before the tourists walk around this white house.

The Parola

If the heat from the sun is not so burning hot I could have go up to this Parola. This was the last stop. We head back to the port after.

Sunset at Manila Bay

It’s still early for sunset when we came back to Manila but just in time to take photo of the heaven preparing for sunset. I don’t want to compromise the colourful sky hence my foreground is underexposed. I simply like the sky and the ray of white lights coming from the sky is like heaven opening up for something.