Balay Dako by Antonio’s…

Balay Dako by Antonio’s

“Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song.”

I’m so glad to have brought my family to dine at Balay Dako… It just occurred to me that when they planned going to Tagaytay, I instantly thought of bringing them nowhere else but at Balay Dako.

And because me, my son and her girlfriend were outnumbered by oldies, what we ordered were those that are a little “healthier”, even if I wanted a lot from the menu to try for myself, please take a look:

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Gela just enjoyed nibbling on these dessert from Ilo-ilo: Piyaya.
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While I enjoyed the ube turon
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I was quite disappointed with the halo-halo, I think they lack some of the ingredients.
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The oldies wanted fish, so we had sweet and sour fish for them.
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My son opted for the salt & pepper spare ribs.
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We ordered for the green mango salad too

I actually can’t figure out what matches it. We just had the beef shanks soup (“Bulalo” in Filipino), and normally green mango salad fits best with fried food.

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Their paella.
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Mama and nanay (her yaya) about to start on their fresh lumpia when I asked them to smile first. =)
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Their lumpiang sariwa.

I still want to try more from their menu, I’ll come back soon. =)

 

Menu Photos courtesy of: http://antoniosrestaurant.ph/balay-dako/#menu-section

I’ve tried most of their desserts, so we can always go out and find another, there’s a lot of places in Tagaytay where you can find a good one to get your sweet cravings. So it’s like hopping from one place to another, besides Tagaytay is a very beautiful place. You wouldn’t mind just looking around.

 

 

 

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My Pangasinan Adventure

My Pangasinan Adventure

“Jobs fill your pocket, adventures fill your soul.” ~Jaime Lyn Beatty~

I am sitting in my cubicle when I heard my office mates discussing about our Summer Outing this year. And I can’t help but get too excited as we’re going up north this time to Pangasinan. It’s going to be different this year as we have been exploring the South for the past years. Our first stop is to revel in the beauty of the Hundred Islands.

What made it more thrilling to me is to find out that the Lighthouse of Bolinao, is included in our itinerary. Whoopee! As you know, I have been collecting Lighthouses and this will surely slash one from my list to visit. The Enchanted cave is included in the list too. =) I am not that fond of spelunking but this one is going to be definitely exciting. Something that is new to me.

So here’s how our itinerary goes:

LUNCH AT DE GARCIA GARDEN & GRILL

On our way to the resort, somewhere in Sual, we spotted this eclectic restaurant and opted to have our lunch here. We also enjoyed the artistic ambiance, looks like the owners are travelers too, and the food that they served us is okay too. =)

CASA ALMARENZO BED & BREAKFAST 

And then it’s time to unpack and look forward to the activities that we’re about to do in the next few hours.

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HUNDRED ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

The waters of the Lingayen gulf were clean and of bluish and greenish hue. As the roar of the boat’s engine started, all of us had fun witnessing the naturally beautiful islets that surround us.

There are 3 major islands that they converted as Tourist spots where you can have picnic as there’s a grilling area, restrooms, and rent kayaks and banana boats. Said islands are as follows: Quezon island, Governor island and Children’s island.

How nature lined up these emerald green islets are truly a breath-taking sight to behold.

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BANANA BOAT

We wouldn’t wanna miss this breath-taking ride! =) I lost (or we) my voice after.

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ENCHANTED CAVE

Tucked in Patar, Bolinao is someplace enchanted. =) The Enchanted cave. We dipped in its’ super cold and clear water, and when they declared we’re leaving, I almost don’t wanna go. Not yet! =)

ST. JAMES THE GREAT PARISH CHURCH VISIT

Of course, we wouldn’t leave this town without saying some prayers. Moreso, thank Him for this wonderful trip with wonderful people and great food.

 

CAPE BOLINAO

One of the highlights of this trip (Well, for me perhaps), is a visit to the second tallest lighthouse in the Philippines.

PATAR BEACH

We also had the chance to squeeze in to see one of their beaches. The sands are so fine, not that white, but their so fine. =)

BOODLE FIGHT THE PANGASINENSE WAY

I just found this boodle fight prepared neatly, and I just tasted a very delicious version of “Pinakbet”.

Roughly, it took us 5 to 6 hours to get to Casa Almarenzo. This includes the stop-over we had for lunch.

We also had fun roaming around the town, had lunch in this cool restaurant where you will find a wide variety of viands to choose from. We also shop for the also famous Bolinao longganiza. =)

Pangasinan is truly one of the most interesting towns in the northern part of the Philippines. There’s actually more to see in Pangasinan, such as: Sunflower farm, Our Lady of Manaoag church, the beaches, beautiful falls, caves, their delicacies, to mention a few.

 

 

Purple Beetle…

PURPLE BEETLE

“Where focus goes, energy flows.”~Tony Robbins~

It all started with this photo.

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Courtesy of: http://www.imgrum.org/media/1276837540570395942_1725691340

This is probably one of the most beautiful dream catcher that I’ve seen. It isn’t a painting, it isn’t a drawing, but a photo of a real dream catcher (s). Not just one but several dream catchers put together creating a very beautiful masterpiece. I’ve always thought and assumed that it is somewhere not near, maybe in a different country.

Then one day, while browsing for hotels to stay out of town, I came across this cafe in Lipa, Batangas. It’s called Purple beetle.

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A graffiti of a native Indian struck me, with all kinds of dream catchers surrounding it. Colorful feathers here and there. As I went further, a very familiar window captured my attention. It was that window with the dream catchers I’ve seen months ago. I couldn’t believe that it is here in my country.

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If I can only “DIY” this! ❤

As if running out of time, I immediately asked Jen to visit Batangas because I really wanted to see this cafe. There have been many blogs about it, though I really wanted to see it myself.

We were able to squeeze it with our busy schedules. Just recently, we decided (finally – after contemplating if we can do it) to go to the gym regularly. Adding up another activity that we try to manage inspite of our conflicting schedules tons of work in the office and at home.

We took a bus from Alabang, and it took us less than 2 hours to reach Lipa, Batangas. I must not forget to mention that I admired the town for its’ cleanliness, the roads are very organized, bus stations are situated in just one location giving comfort to commuters and tourists alike.

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Lipa City never felt like a province to me. I saw McDonalds one block after another, I saw a total of 3 McDonalds in Lipa. It was funny, because in my own hometown, I am happy that our village is in front of McDonalds, however, the next is an hour ride from its’ location. Very province right?!

The main roads in Lipa are a bit wider too, and before we reached our destination. It was inspiring to discover that Purple beetle is sandwiched by known restaurants like Army Navy, two very popular coffee shops: CBTL and Starbucks, and you will be surprised
to witness that despite of the competitors surrounding the place, their tables were seldom empty. When we arrived, we even have to wait for some tables to be vacated and we never had the chance to choose spots we like. I don’t mind, I’m just after that window with the dream catchers.

They also sell boho stuff: of course dream catchers in all sizes, hairdresses, boho tops and dresses, tasseled bags, shawls, and mandala spreads.

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Let’s take a look at their menu:

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We opted to have nachos salad and quesadillas which they called “Pizzadilla” because it has toppings too. I had my purple slush and Jen had coffee.

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Much as I do not want to be too transparent in my blogs. The place is just hype, famous among Millennials (Coachella type), but they need to make another study when it comes to the food that they’re offering.

The pizadilla, since it has toppings and fillings at the same time, tasted nothing but salty. No feel of the other ingredients due to its’ saltiness. The tortilla wasn’t able to balance it, apparently, my palette normally requires salty taste from time to time, but this one I couldn’t tolerate.

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In all my travels, several times I’ve proven that a picture can literally speak a thousand words. One can look so beautiful in pictures, when in reality, it is not that pretty if not disappointing. Honestly, the photos enticed me. The likes of Sonya’s Garden, Prado farm weren’t that pretty in reality. They were pretty in their own terms, but they didn’t have that “wow” factor. That feeling of satisfaction that you’re happy you came.

Jen was too positive to tell me that out of the many travels we’ve made, the disappointments are very few. That most travels made us happy because it surpassed our expectations. One piece of advise is to seek opinion of those who saw a specific place already. And you’ll never go wrong. Besides, it is always been a part of the adventure. Usually, it is not the place, it is the adventure itself.

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PURPLE BEETLE  is at Ayala Highway, Lipa City, Batangas Philippines 4217. You can send them email at: hello@purplebeetle.com.ph with telephone number: 0998-855-7732.

 

Like a child at 14 Four Cafe

Fourteen Four Cafe

“Every Summer, like the roses, childhood returns.” ~Marty Rubin~

I’ll always love blogging. =)

For my “I am blogger” photo. Credits to: http://www.freepik.com/

14 Four cafe logo courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/14FourCafe/

As a child, I grew up in my parents’ house with a huge lawn where I play hide and seek with my cousins, with my dog and with my papa. I incurred scars in my knees because I wanted to run faster than our dog. I put mud in my mini cooking plate and let it dry for a day so we will have a cake the morning after.

I miss that huge lawn, we took care of dozens of love birds and I remember waking up with their chirping calling out my mom as if announcing that it’s already feeding time. My dog’s name is Tsandu. It is taken from a character’s name from my father’s story line in Filipino comics way back mid-70s. He was an illustrator. An artist.

In that lawn, different kinds of plants are grouped in corners. Some pots are even painted in varying colors. There is a huge star apple tree that gives shade to the whole area making it an ideal place to relax in our green 4-seater garden set. In some corners, you’ll see huge lava rocks which my papa brought home when we went hiking in Mt. Mayon. Along with over-sized sea shells which he also brought home from several beaches that we’ve been to. The other side of the house is with roof because it is where our garage is. You will often hear the likes of Frank Sinatra, Matt Monroe, Elvis Presley serenading you in a humid afternoon. He is fond of Tchaikovsky too. During weekends, my parents invite relatives to have barbecue with us.

I really look up to weekends. When my mom starts preparing pre-sliced pork and marinate them, I get so excited. At the main entrance, a realist painting, (a wedding gift to my parents by my uncle who happens to be an artist too, he’s a known painter during the 70s) will welcome you. If you’re a stranger , upon passing by that house, you would have guess that it is owned by some sort of an artist. And it is. My papa was popular then, I see him being mobbed by people asking their comics to be signed by him. I was just a spectator admiring him from afar.

I had to plot this specific day trip with Jen and travel for hours to reach a very similar place. Jen hadn’t sleep yet, she just came from work, and I’m thankful that she easily gave in to my whims. This place really brought me back to that time while I was still a child. When I first saw it, 14 Four Cafe being tucked in the vicinity of Tanay, Rizal, brought me to memory lane. Since we are from the South, it was really difficult for us finding it, as we are not similar to that place.

Some drivers doesn’t even know where 14 Four Cafe is. And finally, when we reached it. I felt like a child once again. I roamed around instantly without even informing the attendants who pleasantly welcomed us of the instruction given to us when we reserved a table for two as they do not accommodate walk-in guests. Visits are limited too, which is an advantage since they can better taking care of guests unlike when it is peak, attendants will be so busy. Their service, since guests are limited is more personal.

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Now I know that 14 4 is the # of their house.
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I captured some millennials enjoying their stay as well.

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Ironically, even if we found it hard to locate, guests keep coming. The house, more so, the whole place speaks for the artist who owns it. It is owned by Nikki Sambile, a designer. His father, who happens to be an artist too (like my father), showcases his furniture collection on this same place too.

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I want these chairs in my garden too. =)
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Photo credits: https://www.facebook.com/14FourCafe/

Can you imagine that I traveled all the way from Laguna just to have this vegetarian dish? It is Veggie Quesadilla with pesto soaked tomatoes, shitakes, melted mozzarella topped with garlic crema. It has grilled eggplants too and nachos on the side. While Jen, still full from our real lunch on our way to Rizal (2pc. chicken please! lol!), had something light and sweet. She had Amaretto French toast. She chose it because of the toasted almonds. She was overwhelmed with the whipped cream though.

Lighter meal for us.

It was funny that they have Milo to offer as drinks. It really reminded me of my childhood days. I was a Milo kid then.

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I ❤ Milo! =)

I would even eat it alone scooping portions continuously.

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Table for two?=)

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Nope, I actually visited because I needed an inspiration. Being an artist myself, I have to see others in that same niche too.

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An artist’s imagination is infinite.
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Rustic type of a faucet and its’ basin.
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This is the showroom of Stick designs. http://www.14fourcafe.com/location.html

Get the feel of it and be inspired instantly!

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I am not that happy with this photo. We were not able to capture all the colors behind me.

Which surely I did! We don’t even want to leave and hoping to stay longer, however, like I said, it took us almost half of that day traveling.

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So, we left after relaxing in one of the couches al fresco, wondering if we can make time to really come back. Maybe.

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Siesta – afternoon nap.

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They’re a favorite of those whose about to wed too, for pre-nup photos. =)

14 Four Cafe is located at:
144 Magnolia Lane, Gregoria Heights Subdivision, Bgy San Isidro
Taytay, Rizal

For reservation, you can call them at: 0999 888 0144

A whimsy and quirky place in Lubao, Pampanga

Prado Farm – A whimsy and quirky place in Lubao, Pampanga

“Seeing how beauty and functionality have been coaxed out of chaos, perhaps accounts for the sense of magic that one feels for Prado Farm”. ~Mariel Francisco~

It is a rare occurrence that I get to find things that are new to me. Things that inspire, fascinate and drive me to move forward. Even slowly but surely getting where I want and who to be.

Over the years, I have explored in my own little way and maybe more in the coming years if I can afford them already. A few friends inspire me too, pushes me to my limits because they know and desires seeing me making my big dreams come true.

They knew what’s it like how to place random items together and uncover a new-born artistry. They don’t just know how, they feel it.

Targeting a place somewhere in Bulacan, as I do my research, I went farther north and landed to a farm in Lubao, Pampanga. Thanks to fellow bloggers, they unveiled to my senses a place that arrested my attention.

I researched further if those who wrote about it are professional photographers as their photos are really amazing and soulful. It reminded me that it takes two to create beautiful pictures. Someone who’s got the eye for it, and the subject itself. I didn’t include a modish dslr, cool tripods/ monopods or even gargantuan lenses. All it takes are young convivial hearts that are unafraid, seeking and lovers of fun with their up-to-the-minute mobile phones. And voila!

So their photos brought us one weekend to Pampanga. A few hours travel by bus and we reach our seasoned and whimsical destination.

Prado farm is located at Siongco, Prado in Lubao, Pampanga. It is strategically situated in the main road and can easily be spotted if you have your own vehicle or just riding a bus.

The gate that’s made of old gas tanks was the only thing that I wanted to see in my own eyes, but Jen introduced me to several Instagram photos that there’s a lot more to it. Seriously, I don’t know what inspired the owners but the place is a mixture of anything which results into a very bewitching place.

I even got a vintage coaster which has a “1930” stamped to it. There’s a lot of grizzled items but they’re a bit pricey. Just to get there is sufficient to me already and to shop is something I candeal with another day soon.

I must say the 5-hectare farm is truly a “wander and wonder” thing to me.

The Facade

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The Souvenir Shop

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The Blue House

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The Old Train Station converted into a Museum

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On our way to the Yellow house

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The Yellow House

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On our way to the Hotel

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I opted not to visit the pool as like a mermaid I might plunge into the water instantly, rather, listed in our bucket an overnight stay with them soon.

Junk architecture, sustainable designs, vivid colors, a vast flora, unique innovativeness, organic food, a set of artworks here and there that are literally surprising, country and vintage feel, a place that brings you back in time, giving you feelings of incredulity yet reckon that they are real right there in front of your eyes. All quirky and whimsy. =)

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If you want to visit the farm, their address is: Km 94 -95 Jose Abad Santos highway, Prado Siongco Lubao, Pampanga. You may call contact them at: 0920 903 0964 and you can visit their website too: http://pradofarms.com/