My ABRAmazing Adventure

My Abramazing Adventure

“One way to make the most out of life is to look at it as an adventure.”~William Feather

My most recent blog about Kaparkan Falls in Tineg is just one of the many
interesting places you’ll find in Abra.

I might sound redundant but I’m really thankful to discover Kaparkan falls leading me to a lot more exciting places to see in this specific province that’s sometimes patented to be unsafe. Actually it is safe. We didn’t encounter anything shaky the whole time we were there. But of course, we always pray for safety each time we go out right?

So the news we’ve been hearing (mostly politics related), didn’t deter our eagerness to visit this province.

On top of Kaparkan Falls, here are some of the places our travel agency flaunted to us. These and the team spirit (good vibes) made this trip a memorable one.

Don Mariano Marcos bridge (Abra Kalinga National Road)

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Don Mariano Marcos bridge on our way to Tineg where Kaparkan falls is.

San Lorenzo Ruiz church (Bangued, Abra)

Bangued is the capital of Abra.

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San Lorenzo Ruiz church at the Camposanto, Bangued. The churchyard have been constructed as a cemetery as well. It is beautiful because of those red bricks and the twin bell towers. =)

St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral (Tayum, Abra)

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A 19th century Baroque church (Augustinian)

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St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral

Both churches are still closed, and since it’s my first time being there, I made my wishes and prayers. =)

Tangadan Welcome Tunnel (San Quintin, Abra)

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Built in 1934, this more than 50 meter tunnel took two years to be operational.

Gabriela Silang Monument (San Quintin, Abra)

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One of the tributes dedicated to the first Filipina, fearless enough to fight for freedom. 

Abra Pasalubong Center (San Quintin, Abra)

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Where we got the famous noodles, mascuvado sugar, local coffee, shirts and some souvenirs. =)

Open Theater at Victoria Park (Bangued, Abra)

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View deck at Victoria Park (Bangued, Abra)

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Good vibes only! #millennials

Balay ni Gian/ Carl Louie (for the longganiza and bagnet)

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Gabriela Silang Carino Gallery of Fine Arts (Tayum, Abra)

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Come lunch time, we had ours at “Hidden Garden” – Vigan City

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I dropped a coin and made a wish. =)
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We had Bagnet na sinigang and they’re version of Igado. And fruit shakes too.
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We also had empanada while waiting for our orders.

Crisologo Street – Vigan City

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Jen! No smoking! =p
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Grace on the right, is our Travel agency co-owner, the 2 other equally pretty girls: Sandy and Clarisse, were my seatmates during our “rough road ride” to Kaparkan falls. They’re kind enough to share with me their shawl to cover our legs since we’re exposed to the scorching heat of the sun. =) I didn’t bring anything then, just my phone and my wallet. Jen and I at the background eating ice cream too. =)
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It was great to see this famous street again. =)

On our way back to Manila, they were already discussing when and where to go next. Most of our photos are with hashtag: #wheretonext

Traveler point PH – please take charge! lol!

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Be amazed by ABRA

Be amazed by ABRA

If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.” ~ Tory Burch

I have always been inspired by bloggers all these years and as I do my daily readings, I came across this place: Kaparkan Falls in Tineg, Abra. Upon research, Abra is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Bangued, and is bordered by Ilocos Norte on the northwest, Apayao on the northeast, Kalinga on the mid-east, Mountain Province on the southeast, and Ilocos Sur on the southwest. Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abra_(province)

I have been to the Ilocos region several times, and I honestly wondered why I missed this spectacular province. Thanks to the bloggers I follow who’ve been there and densely illustrated its’ beauty and what to expect. In my heart, I knew then, Abra is one I shouldn’t miss. Specifically that falls in Tineg.

So one weekend of October, our travel agency announced that it’s time to go, it has been postponed for several times already due to the typhoons in the Philippines and my heart is pounding at the thought of waiting for another year to see Kaparkan falls. The best time to visit is during rainy season as it runs dry during the summer months. However, I’d still insist to call it my own Summer in October. =)

I have to thank the agency: Traveler Point PH for being so organized, caring and had us experience this “ABRAMAZING” weekend.

Day 1 – Friday night:

Our pick-up point is at Greenfields (Mandaluyong City) at 9:00 pm, our organizer is a couple who loves to travel too, we shared the trip along with 8 millennials who made the trip more exciting and full of fun despite of the perplexity of reaching our destination(s). We arrived at DPWH, Tineg around 6:00 am, it is estimated at 8 hours travel time from Manila, however due to several stop-overs, it took us 9 hours to reach Tineg, Abra. We were briefed before hitting the road. And at exactly 7:00 am, we are ready.

I am actually surprised knowing we’re riding on this Army truck.

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They refer to it as “Monster truck”…

It’s tires at 1100 x 20, I thought I was lucky that my assigned seat is at the front with 2 millennial girls who made me laugh the whole time. While Jen is at the back along with the other travelers. I was telling her she wouldn’t like it in front, and she’s also saying I wouldn’t like it too at the back. As they say: “Sa harap, kitang-kita, sa likod, damang-dama!” Here’s why:

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I can do this! =)
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It is necessary to lodge the tires with these chains to avoid being bogged down in the deep mud.

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Connecting Tayum and Dolores municipalities:

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is The Don Mariano Marcos bridge. The third longest bridge in the country with a total length of 886.812 linear meters.

Reference: http://wikimapia.org/2423591/Don-Mariano-Marcos-Bridge

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As oriented, this “one hell of a ride” is more or less than 4 hours, and less than an hour trek to reach our destination.

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It is my first time to experience one such ride, upon being there, and finally witnessing this magnificent falls, I hear everyone saying “Oh My God!” several times! Myself, speechless. I must say it (bruises, scratches, broken nails, etc.) was truly worth it, I totally forgot about that “ride” upon seeing Kaparkan falls. Let these pictures speak for themselves. =)

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Nature has it’s own special way of taking my breath away.

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If you noticed, they do not bother to remove the falling leaves for a purpose, it adds beauty in time, the marks they leave, creates art naturally.

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You will notice too that the place isn’t that populated by guests. The Dept. of Tourism gave strict directives that the maximum # of guests is only 90. This will allow guests to enjoy its’ tranquility too.

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Those rows of limestones are naturally formed in that wondrous presence through the years, though it made me wonder, they aren’t slippery. I was too careful as it glistens when one of them told me that it isn’t slippery. Because of this, I began my wanderings and conquered my fear. =)

Our coordinator must know how famished we’d be, upon reaching our Transient home dinner time, they had this “Boodle fight” dinner set-up to welcome our group. Yum! =) We have fresh fruits too!

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Our itinerary come Sunday is composed of some interesting places which I will blog separately.

Just this one at Kaparkan Falls substantiates that my more than a year waiting time to visit Abra is truly worth it. While there’s more this province can offer.

It is the highlight of this trip while I have my own personal highlight too, it is our visit to Gabriela Silang Carino Gallery of Fine Arts, which really satiated not just my eyes but my soul too.

Our itinerary for Day 2 includes: A visit to St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Tangadan Tunnel, Gabriela Silang monument and Abra Pasalubong Center, passed by Don Mariano Marcos bridge, the open theater and view deck at Victoria park, another visit to an old heritage church: San Lorenzo Ruiz church at the Camposanto, Bangued, side trip to Calle Crisologo, Vigan City, we also went to Balay ni Gian to buy Vigan longganiza and Bagnet (at Carl Louie) as pasalubong (goodies for loved ones at home). Our itinerary includes the Bantay Church Bell tower, the Gourd hat maker, the Loom weaving village, Acosta panciteria (that famous Abra pancit miki). But due to time constraint, we missed those ones. But it’s okay. For those who will visit Abra, these are also some spots you would want not to miss.

So this is how we spent this one amazing weekend at Abra. I must agree whenever they say it’s “Abramazing!”

Below is a map of Abra:

 

Courtesy of: http://www.abra.asia/_pages/GoSeeStay.htm

Should you be interested, feel free to call Grace or Chris of Traveler Point PH for more details at: 0945 813 0618.

PS

Kaparkan falls is prettier in person. =)

 

Las Casas Manila

Las Casas Manila

So much of our future lies in preserving our past. ~Peter Westbrook~

Aside from food, Jen and I shared our love in exploring new places and travel together as far and as much as we can. Anything new to us. She had been requesting from me for years to bring her to Bataan, at “Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar”. However, we’ve been busy lately and when I discovered that there’s an extension of said place somewhere in QC, I am thrilled to inform if she’s okay into venturing to this one that’s nearer, for now.

So up we went one Friday, and reveled in its’ own version of preserving and restoring one of the old manors in Quezon City – Casa De Juico.

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They converted the place after being sold to Jerry Acuzar: The owner of San Jose Builders, it is complete with a boutique hotel and a restaurant by one of Asia’s Best Female Chef: Margarita Fores.

After the attendants with pleasing demeanor took our food choices, we wandered around the place with its’ classic ambience and took pictures (a lot) while Jen is checking from time to time if our food is already served. We were starving as we arrived there at almost 2:00 pm.

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We were ushered by two smiling faces and directed us to the dining hall and let us choose where we want to be sitted.

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I definitely enjoyed chosen spots which they call Instagram worthy. Little did Jen know, I’ve spotted some favorites since I already saw them several times from Instagram. =)

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A version of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt .

So here’s what we’ve got: Spaghetinni con Mariscos (Seafood pasta), Callos (Ox tripe, Chorizos and garbanzos), Tres leches (a slice of chiffon cake topped with smoked coconut and dried mangoes and jackfruit) for dessert and red grapes shake for me (which I so loved) and yellow mango shake for Jen. She loved her pasta as it is thinner than usual, they used Spaghetinni, my Callos were made of slow-cooked to tenderness tripe.  

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We also had Huevos con gambas, for a starter. It’s hard-boiled egg topped with prawns relished in paprika.

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This wheel of cheese is part of their buffet offer, it’s called Parmeggiano Regiano, it’s known to be the “King of Cheese”, it’s so tasteful, gritty and lactose-free too. The cheaper version, is known as “Parmesan” cheese.

It’s just one manor, unlike the one in Bataan, there are more than 20 Casas there, but just this one brimmed our phones with pictures both inside the place and outside as well, I actually enjoyed more the “Al fresco” feel. You wouldn’t know how much I belong to it. The trees, the grass and all. =)

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For a different experience, visit Las Casas Manila and it’ll stir your senses until you realize that you’re heading to Bataan the soonest you can. =) Either places, I’m sure, you will enjoy. =)

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You can make reservations thru: 866-8500 and 0917-711-3714. They’re open from Tueday to Sunday from 11am to 10pm. Las Casas Manila is located at 134 Roosevelt avenue, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City. You can also check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/LasCasasQC/

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CELESTINE Bazaar

CELESTINE Bazaar

“Every artist was first an amateur.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have not attempted to write about losing a loved-one. I do not have the strength for it. I lost my mother months ago and then I learned that there’s a proof that even in lowest times, you can find something positive from it. With me, I developed new relationships, or specifically new friendships.

Jen, the owner of Celestine Bazaar is my schoolmate during high school. We have common friends, though we’re not literally friends then. And very recently, that common friend brought us together. In a special way, it made me happy, because they reminded me of the good old days, and who I was.

Jen never stopped sending me comforting messages when she learned I lost my mom and it surprises me that she gives it to me, free-flowing. I really appreciate it. It meant a lot to me. I have been thinking of ways how I could give it back.

And during one of our chats, she invited me to visit her shop: “Celestine Bazaar”, she named it after her second mom, sister of her mom, who also passed away and we shared the same sentiments. She was very thoughtful. She and our common friend (who lost her mom too), made me feel that they understand what I’m going through.

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She invited me to visit the shop once, and instantly, when I get there, I found nice items for myself, I also bought one for my mom even if she’s physically no longer with me, I bought her a mirror. =)

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Onwards, the friendship continues and we discovered having the same interests, and one time, we ended up to collaborate by doing ex-deals. She allowed me to display my beaded stuff in her shop and I offered too that she can also display some stuff in my mom’s shop at home soon.

You will surely find items that will interest you at Celestine Bazaar. I, personally, each visit, left the place not empty handed. As there are too many good finds. Beautiful things in all corners are plenty and pretty. You’ll find yourself planning to go back again as you intend to buy more stuff.

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Here’s a peek of her dazzling collection:

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I am so proud of her to showcase and endorse the incredible craftsmanship of Filipino wood carvers from Paete, Laguna: The Wood carving capital of the Philippines. =)

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She is also meticulous in offering new items. Soon, we are going together to Paete, where she gets all of her wooden items that are intricately created. I can’t wait for that too.

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The floor lamps are one of her best sellers:

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Just in time for the Holiday season, please drop by at Celestine Bazaar for your gift items need or if you’re wanting to add some items for your house, or doing some renovations, or looking for items to fill-in your new home, the shop can provide for you.

Celestine Bazaar is located at: Bro Business Center, Pacita Avenue, San Pedro, Laguna 4023. You can contact them at: (02) 919 3922.

For more items, please visit their Facebook page too:

https://www.facebook.com/celestinamendoz/

Lugang Cafe – A Taiwanese Treat

Lugang Cafe – A Taiwanese Treat…

“Count not the candles…see the lights they give. Count not the years, but the life you live. Wishing you a wonderful time ahead. Happy birthday ate Queng!”

In this iconic structure at BGC – SM Aura’s. On it’s fifth floor, You’ll find a long avenue of collective restaurants that give you options as to where to dine with loved ones and friends.

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Through the years, if chance permits, we were able to try Mexican food from Andale, Authentic dim-sum treats from Tuantuan Chinese Brasserie. Some scoops of ice cream from Bono Gelato, ube churros and frozen yogurt from Pink Berries.

Last week, on a long weekend and to celebrate my sister-in-laws birthday, We all agreed to visit Padre Calungsod chapel at SM Aura.

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And dined at this authentic Taiwanese restaurant: Lugang Cafe, named by Asia Tatler as one of the best restaurants in the Philippines for years.

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We had Xia long bao for a starter.

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Source: http://www.lugangcafe.com.ph/

A special dumpling intricately prepared and served warm. You can actually watch how it’s done. It is so delicious we had to order for it twice. =)

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For appetizer, we had Tofu with century eggs topped with pork floss and Garlic pork roll.

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For the main course, we shared Three cup chicken.

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Spare ribs with plum sauce. My son’s favorite. I realized spare ribs goes well with orange sauce, apple sauce and this time we were able to try it with plum sauce.

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The special Birthday noodles for the celebrant which is a tradition for a long life is a must-have.

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The Golden fried rice is one of their best sellers and I truly must agree. My personal favorite is the Soy sauce braised pork knuckles. as it is so tender and very tasteful.

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Over all experience is good, the attendants are bubbly and very attentive, the food were served ahead of declared waiting time. It’s just that their house tea isn’t complimentary. Or maybe I just got used to Chinese restaurants serving complimentary house tea while you’re still figuring out what to order, China bowl during the late 1990s even offers free shrimp chips.

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Anyway, before we get to decide if we want tea or not our food already arrived. It was a very good dining experience especially with your family. “Xièxie nĭ/nĭn!”