The Ultimate Time Travel at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar

For my year-end post, it definitely has to be the grandest and the best place I'll saunter with you all this year: Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar. A massive monumental display of 27 (and counting) Spanish Colonial palacios salvaged from all over the Philippines then rebuilt in exactly the same fashion, with the exact original pieces of every mansion you'll witness within the next few minutes.
Truly, this is a day to remember. For this was the day I walked on homes, mansions, buildings, whatever you'd like to call them, that paved history of my country as well, some of these were once inhabited by Teodora Alonzo, our national hero's mother and even former president Manuel Quezon himself graced presence within the walls of one of these Casas.

La Bella Teodoro: Italian Restaurant (Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar)

Just another feel-good afternoon, fresh from a historical morning tour at Las Casas. It was a bit of an exhausting tour, just because it was hot and humid plus my eyes wandered nonstop enjoying and savoring the views. Even after the tour ended, I was still so excited to be in Las Casas. 

There were two main restaurants offered in Las Casas: Spanish and Italian. Our taste buds craved to go Italian this trip, and so we chose La Bella Teodoro.
This was the rest of the restaurant, us being seated at the middle of this thoughtfully designed restaurant from ceiling to floor. Vintage items are also seen everywhere. My mind blasts away, so quaint this restaurant fits perfectly suits me!

Yakimix with DnK

Ready for some mouthwatering experience yet again? I know I am! I know, a lot have tried this before, but you gotta taste this the way we did. Give us a chance! It was my first time at Yakimix, and so did most of my friends! 

Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Welcome to the Chocolate Hills! 

Location: Bohol, Philippines!

Probably counting as many as 1,700+ hills, they rank as one of the original Seven Wonders of the Earth!  As a first timer, you might wonder how they got the name. Generally, they are covered in green grass, but during the dry season, the grass naturally dry up and turn brown, hence the name "Chocolate Hills" would be an obvious yummy name.

Serene River Cruise at Loboc, Bohol

One of the things worth spending the time in Bohol is definitely a river cruise in Bohol. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. A lunch date coupled with a romantic cruise is all we needed to relax from the busy schedule we had for the day.

Baclayon Church, Bohol

It truly is an honor to step foot on one of the oldest Churches in the Philippines & in Asia Respectively. Baclayon is in fact, the second oldest stone Church in the country & the oldest Coral Stone Church in the region, being built in 1595 by Spanish Jesuits. In 19th century however, a group of Augustinian priests added additional stone structures that surrounded the building, and a modern facade. 

Sandugo a.k.a Blood Compact Shrine, Bohol Philippines

Nature has it's own way of teaching us lessons everyday. We may often take things for granted as we move about our present day, so I guess the recent tragedy that hit Bohol last month on October 15, 2013 was a major reminder that we should protect our National Treasures to keep them intact for generations to come. Just like how the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy have been stabilized and reinforced to prevent it from further fall down, to withstand time and possible unwanted natural calamities. 

I've not even started to publish any of the many places I've visited in my favorite Island during my blissful visit last February this same year, 2013. This is one of those times when I am ever so grateful that I have witnessed such beauty before mother nature took away some of my country's best kept heritage sites. :(

Hitch-hiking in Bamban (2009)

My Thesis Life back in 2009. Is truly one of the most exciting and equally exhausting last phase of finishing college. Those are the days when you'll need all the help and support you can get from mentors, friends and family to finally march on and graduate with the degree of Bachelor in Science in Architecture, a full five year course which sounds as many math subjects you don't want to think of.

Taking out one day from it, I with some of our friends helped out do a site visit in Bamban, Tarlac, along the boundary of Clark and Tarlac. Didn't know what I was getting myself into, it was very random and I'm always up for an adventure :)

Straight from a hidden paradise in a remote area in Gawad, Kalinga, Bamban, Tarlac

Experience Asian Buffet Dinner at ABC Hotel, Angeles City

Another get together night celebrating the Christmas season in 2012. This particular night, we chose to put on some casual clothes and dine in a lavish hotel at Angeles Beach Club Hotel, more commonly known as ABC Hotel for locals.

Note: Vari Asia isn't usually packed but you might want to make a reservation if you're planning to dine here on holidays, else you might end up frustrated. Be sure to have your second option if plan A doesn't work out. 

Caleruega Church, Nasugbu, Batangas

Finally! Romantics and soul searchers this one's for you! A candidate for the most favored wedding destination in the Philippines or simply one of the most sought-out pre-nuptial shoot location because of its refreshing beauty of commingled influences in Architecture. This multi-function complex also serves as a sanctuary for families and friends. Although it takes a bit of effort to reach its best kept secret at the top, it's all well worth the hike!

I know, this is not located anywhere in Tagaytay, but it pretty much is along the boundary between Tagaytay and Batangas and is in proximity to most of the places I've shown you in the previous series

Green Ats Bulalohan, Tagaytay

Tagaytay is well known for serving the best tasting Bulalo (Filipino Bone Marrow Stew) in the whole of Philippines. It might have even originated in Tagaytay, no one really can say where this dish started but definitely it's from the south, either Batangas or Tagaytay.

To end our merry day, Ian took me to a good Bulalo Restaurant, Green Ats. A comfortable indoor/outdoor dining experience where you can have a beautiful view of Tagaytay and overlooking the roadside (Aguinaldo Highway) on the other side. 

Tierra De Maria, Tagaytay

Welcome to the home of Mama Mary's 50-foot image standing tall welcoming everyone with her arms wide open at a quaint corner along Tagaytay-Calamba Road in Tagaytay. Such a serene and heavenly place, I felt blessed and spiritually cleansed by the time I left. It has garnered thousands of devotees all over the Philippines and describes itself as a HOME for everyone, meaning "Heaven Of Meditation and Enrichment".

Picnic Grove, Tagaytay

There are only a few spots in the Philippines offering you a good view combined with a favorable temperature. One of the best is no less than Picnic Grove, located at Barangay Sungay in Tagaytay. It has more to offer than just the two features I've mentioned above..

A pretty sight: Taal Lake right in front of us

Romantic Garden Lunch at Sonya's Garden: TBS 3 of 7

Before anything else, I would suggest you come here on an empty stomach if you're planning to dine in this heaven of a place. It is not for the half-hungry tummies ladies and gents, but for people having-nothing-for-breakfast-this-morning types. You wouldn't want to waste dressings and garnish as much as possible in this lunch affair. Might I also warn you, you may want to bring your pills if not used to softer diets.

I was really excited to try everything served on the table 'cause I rarely get a chance to eat organic meals in Manila. It was mostly instant food for breakfast, "lutong bahay" for lunch, canned goods and fast food at night time, topped with a cold bottle of beer. Buhay nakikipagsapalaran sa ibayong lugar, over it! hehe :)

relaxed ambiance at Sonya's Garden

Pink Sisters Monastery, Tagaytay City Blogseries 2 of 7

Indeed a blessed morning at Pink Sisters Monastery, a holy place visited by pilgrims and tourists each day worshiping our Lord God. Before heading off to a long day, we put God first in our itinerary, and this actually turned out to be one of my favorite mornings of the year. 

Bag of Beans: Tagaytay Blogseries 1 of 7

This is my first entry for Tagaytay Blogseries, a series taking you to exciting scenery, food and adventures in Tagaytay City in one jam packed day! It tops as one of the coolest cities in the Philippines located at the south of Luzon. It envelopes an entirely comfortable and relaxed environment, perfect for romantic getaways or simply a family or barkada trip. There's a bit of something for everyone.

Our first stop: Bag of Beans, an outdoor coffee shop designed and furnished in a way that emanates a private, homey feel, just like sipping coffee in your own backyard.

Summer and Friends

Everyone needs a friend. One, two or in groups. No man is an island. I share the same belief. And summer wouldn't be complete without swimming on the beach, enjoying creatively themed resorts or doing some traveling here and there. But what makes me appreciate places and food is great company altogether. And I thank God he gave me friends share the same values as I have in friendship.

Big Bad Burgers at the Shack!

Hi guys! I've got another story to tell! This goes out to my fellow Kapampangan foodies
and to travelers spending the night or just passing by me beloved Angeles City! We've discovered yet another badass burger in town. 

It opened March 23, 2013 at the backyard of a simple home in Sampaguita St., in Nepo Subdivision. It is owned by Villarosa cousins, who studied at the top competing schools in the city - Chevalier School, Holy Family Academy and Holy Angel University to name a few. And with that, they're hosting a contest based on the number of alumni participants per week as per school designation. Pretty awesome right! :)

All in a day: Capones Island and Anawangin Cove

Summer, summer summer! There's this light and happy vibe when February arrives in South East Asia: it signifies the start of summer and everybody wants to go to the beach during this season. :) This trip happened in Mid-April, at the time when the sun hits hottest. This trip, I get to explore Capones Island and Anawangin Cove all in just one day with Ian and his friends.

Pampanga's Red Light District

A chill night in my very own town. I accommodated two friends at home this weekend, brought my little sister, Diane with us along too. 

Fields Avenue is a very out-of-the-box place to show newbies in town, but I think it's definitely a must-see and to-experience in Pampanga. Located just a kilometer away from Clarkfield, Pampanga, beside McDonald's Balibago. Head straight to "Walking Street" and from there, the flashing and colorful lights of the street will welcome you in. 

This street is very well known by foreigners and expats living in Angeles City as the little "Sin City" of the Philippines. Even the tourists I met in Bohol know Clark and Fields Avenue's reputation. 

Abe's Farm: A Paradise in Magalang, Pampanga

It makes me happy and proud whenever I feature events and places from my very own state. And one my recent favorite restaurant in Pampanga is Abe's Farm.
Abe's Farm opened to the public in 2008 and has been a favorite of travelers and food enthusiasts since then. The thing I love most about this place is that it gives me a peaceful and tranquil feel - consistently anywhere I laid my eyes on this inland paradise. 

The Capampangan word "Abe" means companion or a friend in English. In Filipino culture, people would call you by how they know or recognize you. The farm is a tribute to Mr. Emilio Aguilar Cruz, father of Larry J. Cruz. In his time, Mr. Aguilar was called "Abe" by his friends, and so, this haven was named Abe's Farm or simply, Friend's Farm.

Abe's Farm Location Map

Address: 98 Livestock Village, Barangay Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga
Store Hours: 10:00AM to 8:00PM, except Tuesdays

How to get there:

Gandiva Cafe and Archery Range

One day at the office, I was invited by Ms. Baybee Monce and Mr. Glen Mayhew, Gandiva chef, to come by at the cafe at a certain hour because the Archery Range and Cafe will be featured in Jessica Soho show. I dragged an office mate along too, so there were three of us from our office. 

From right: yours truly, Kristina Bismark, Elijah Bismark, 
Vas Bismark, Ms. Baybee Monce, Roy Vincent Martin

Surprise at Galileo Enoteca Deli

As well all know, special celebrations call for special venues. I had a perfect night planned that night and the place should speak no less. There were a few other choices to celebrate such a date. Of course, as a good partner, I had to consult my partner, Ian as to where he'd like to dine, gave him my top picks and finally, he chose Galileo Enoteca Deli. I must admit, I did put an extra effort convincing him that this is the place to dine that night. I thank the heavens it all turned out to be one of the nights I would cherish so dearly.

About the place:

Galileo Enoteca Deli - translates as Wine Library of Wines. You wouldn't want to miss this place if you enjoy food and wine pairing. They serve superbly prepared authentic Italian dishes, of course, best served with a bottle/glass of wine. 

Ocean Adventure, Subic

Up for another adventure? Join me in this next trip! All we needed is another weekend, a car, comfortable clothes, some money and best of all, company. This time I'm gonna show you Ocean Adventure in Subic Freeport Zone, a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive from Manila, capital city of the Philippines. 

About Ocean Adventure:
It proudly boasts being the only open-water marine park in Southeast Asia. They try to give, as much as possible the most natural setting the animals can possibly have in the compound. It helps educate it's visitors on jungle survival, how to understand animals better, how to treat them and respecting the animals. It is perfect for educational trips, relaxing getaway and adventure trips.

A Little Binondo Food Trip

In my search for food trip destinations in Manila, I came across the words "Binondo Food Wok" in one of my readings. It was mentioned twice more on other blogs I read that time so I thought, why not give it a try? Seems worth the visit too! And so I did! 'even dragged along my foodie love, Ian with me to satisfy our Binondo craving (I actually endorsed it to him) :p

Before I go back home on one Saturday of July, we drove from Ortigas to Binondo. It was about 40 minutes of wandering around a quiet Saturday afternoon in Manila. It was very comforting and - because there was no traffic :)

As you enter Chinatown, you'll see this arch. It says "Arko ng Pagkakaibigang Pilipino-Tsino" translated as "Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch". We left the car nearby because we decided to do our tour on foot.

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