Youtube Channel Re-launch



Hi Guys, Inviting y'all to follow my Youtube channel.  I've been on idle and used the channel as my back-up for videos I made but I'm hoping to create more videos to share. Thank you and enjoy the show 😊

When People are the Tourist Attraction | Solitude



Photo Taken during one of my trips in El Nido Palawan's great Big Lagoon passageway, watching a lone tourist mesmerized by the rugged limestone formations and landscape colored by the magnificent clarity and shades of blue seascape. A solo traveler commune with nature harvesting more than just happiness, I am sure. 

Have you tried traveling solo?

My favorite solo travels are the ones in El Nido and Coron, Palawan. I can't count in my hands how many times I've been to these places. Every year, when budget permits, I book a solo trip to escape the infernal Manila, the drama, and the stress – a break from reality, usually during off-season because prices are low, and I avoid crowds. As much as possible, I tried to get active and really immerse in a destination. Kayaking, snorkeling, and rafting are the things to do around islands of Bacuit Bay, El Nido while hiking along Mount Tapyas' trail is just a small escape to picturesque solo getaway other than exploring Coron's world renown lakes.

Forget about lavish escapes and insta-worthy dining, trips like these are ideal for soaking up the local culture and involvement that are truly personal and unique. Seeking out authentic local experiences in lesser known destinations are my goals in solo travels where I discovered some "secret" spots and truly submerge to total relaxation and deep thinking. Every experience taught me to hug life very firm and be thankful for everything.  It is liberating, and It’s always surprising to find my inspiration alive again.

RECIPE | Sarciadong Bangus (Milkfish Sarciado)


I know, it's mid-week and everyone of us are hanging in there to keep-up with everyday life demands. We have a lot of things to do and we don't have plenty of time. 

In our home during lunch time, all too often I hear my Tatay's cry of: "Bangus na naman?" (Milkfish again?) everyday. Yes, everyday.  It's all because of Nanay. Since both of my parents started living  with me here in Manila last year when she was diagnosed of Breast CA, she always choose Milkfish Sinigang with lots of greens as her go-to lunch dish. She often put a lot of Malunggay (Moringa) and/or Kangkong (Water Spinach) which is good alternative in treating cancer naturally according to medical publications about natural medicine. She never change, her love affair with Bangus grow everyday 😏

With so many workload all day, although working from home 2 days in a week, my home cooking experience has been in decline for the past years with fast food taking its place (hello, Big Mac!😜). I've been trying to give my mother's favorite fish a makeover for few months but always occupied by the requirements of the illness or loads of office works should I had a chance to try.

 ...and finally this week, I'm able to do so.




Inspiring y'all with my Recipe of the Week if you are googling ideas for simple midweek lunches. There’s nothing better than a dish like this one; Sarciadong Bangus (Milkfish Sarciado) which is packed with flavor and great when you're short on time.  Make sure you use the freshest Milkfish you can find for this recipe, for a better tasteful lunch dish.

Sarciado or Sarsyado means "sauce" normally added to fish dish which features tomatoes and eggs. It's a classic Filipino, passed-down recipe and very easy to make. In frugal times, you may use your fried fish leftover from yesterday as an alternative and new way to cut down supermarket food bills.



Ingredients

1 kilogram Bangus (Milkfish), scaled and sliced.
Oil of choice to fry the fish (I used olive oil)
1 tbsp Salt
8 pieces medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, diced
2 teaspoons garlic minced
1 piece medium-sized onions diced
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 pieces raw eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons fish sauce to taste
1/2 cup green onions/scallions chopped to garnish (optional)



Instructions
1) Rub the salt to the fish and leave for five minutes while making the sauce.
2) Make the sauce using a clean pan, heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil then sauté onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
3) Add the fish sauce and ground black pepper and stir.
4) Add water then bring to a boil.
5) Pour the eggs on the pan. Ensure that it is distributed evenly. Once the eggs curdles or coagulates, you may start stirring the mixture.
6) Simmer for another 2-3 minutes and let it rest in the pan while frying the fish.
7) Heat olive oil in a frying pan then fry the fish. 
8) Remove the fish from the frying pan and place in wire rack to drain oil. Set aside.
9) Transfer the sauce in a serving plate, and place the fish on top. Pour more sauce on top and drizzle it with chopped green onions/scallions.


Photo of the Week | Sunset in the Pacific


Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a very memorable weekend and was able to relax and recharge. Sharing with you all is another picture picked from my archive. One of the best golden sunsets I captured during one of our family getaways somewhere in a tropical beach in Batangas, Philippines. Do you want this to be your desktop background? You may contact me should you want to purchase any pictures from my Photo of the day or Photo of the Week posts. I'll give you raw and larger images for a small fee.

So how would you describe this image? For some, probably for those who are less stressed in life or doesn't care about beauty and art of nature, it’s just a beautiful sunset. It could be a painting by Claude Monet or maybe a scattered gold and champagne in the universe for those who have an artistic viewpoint.

I remember spending the end of that day by the beach with a glass of cocktails in hand, watching small forces of waves broke the shore, perhaps the only chaos in the stillness of the golden sea, I thought. But instead of awful memory it served incredible beauty. The small foggy sands closer to shore get tossed and turned in the foam, leading to mixes of golden colors. It was bewitching and magical performance every time each wave touched the stones.  Simply astonishing while the show goes on, each wave that arose looked gorgeous than before and binds golden hues to allure.

Simply astonishing, God's handiwork at its finest.

Reflecting to my life's story, it's another sunset I beg not to discuss again. Writing this post surrounded by different "sunsets of life" behind this walls of PGH's Oncology building, I saw golden sunset painted all over my Nanay's face where each line has a beautiful meaning.

Sometimes, the most beautiful images or moments come from the most unexpected everyday events like this. It's so amazing how a change in perspective can add so much more meaning to something we often take for granted. This image is not just beautiful and stunning, it is another life’s lesson to take in. Just breath and...

"Don't be afraid to look again."

Timeless Taytay - Fort Santa Isabel, Taytay, Palawan


  • Destination: Fort Santa Isabel, Taytay, Palawan.
  • It took 71 years to build. Coral rocks, lime, and egg whites were used as the main materials to build it.
  • Fort Santa Isabel or Fuerza de Santa Isabel in Taytay, Palawan -  A naval fortress originally built in 1667 and the most important landmark of the municipality.
  • Spanish stronghold overlooking Taytay Bay - it is the first line of defense used by the Spanish troops where they fire cannons to fend-off Muslim raiders riding on war boats attacking the town.



Sometimes it pays to get lost in paradise deeper if you're a tourist - especially in a destination with as many layers of attraction as Palawan. 

The province of Palawan is rightly famous for its beach, reefs, lagoons, wildlife, and tropical forest teeming with huge biodiversity, but here we go a little bit far, just 4 hours away from Puerto Princesa City to the Municipality of Taytay, revealing Palawan's rich, fascinating culture and history... Welcome to my hometown, the beautiful "Star of the North" - Taytay, Palawan! Scroll down and enjoy the scenery :-)




History Snippet: The name Taytay was derived from the word “Talaytayan”, which means "bridge" shortened throughout time and became Taytay.  The first capital of the province of Calamianes (1859 to 1876), the entire territory of Paragua (now Palawan), formally founded in 1623. This town is the oldest and biggest municipality in the province in terms of land area, and a first-class Municipality with 31 barangays abundant in natural resources, made up of communities of fisher-folks and farmers.




Guardian of Taytay Bay, this 17th century Spanish fortress called "Fuerza de Santa Isabel" is strategically located fronting the town which stands as a silent witness of rich historical battleground during the Spanish regime. She was built in 1667 as a wooden palisade under the Augustinian Recollect priests to protect Taytay harbor from the Muslim raiders.




Fort Santa Isabel or Fuerza de Santa Isabel took 71 years to build using coral rocks, lime, and egg whites as the main materials and is now the most important landmark of our municipality.  This striking fort combines history, engineering, archaeology and stories of Taytayanos courage. And it all unfolded during that Spanish colonization period when it was obvious to the world-conquering warriors that he who controlled Fort Isabel would be the master of all he surveyed.




Hard-wooden doors grace the front - an uphill corridor will lead you to the top with interesting remains of small chapel dating back from the 17th century, a village, living spaces, large dungeon, and storerooms. Relics of four towers in each corner serves as a monument of centuries rich history were destroyed but still standing proud. These bastions are named after San Toribio, Santa Isabel, San Juan and San Manuel. The small museum was closed when we went here too early in the morning, but it displays important historic artifacts so don’t miss it when you visit here.




Some of the original cannon endures time to testify to the uses of three centuries ago. There was gold or maybe bronze or copper attached in the cannon we used to carve using stones whenever we had a chance visiting the bush-covered fort to play tagu-taguan when we were little kids.




She was the Mont Saint-Michel of my Nanay's generation where the fortress was not yet fully connected to the mainland. There was a tunnel connecting the fortress and the nearby church according to tales. A refuge to my Auntie Esther who used to study at the comfort of the silence of the old fort. Abundant marine life surrounds the fortress as she collects sea shells and catch fish for dinner, remembering all those happy times she had spent at the fort when I asked about kuta via messenger.




It was just a normal park during those summer vacations, a play area during our generation. Spending one or two hours watching sunset with my cousins Lorna and Jenneth to pasyal after a day of helping Auntie Narit attending her carenderia in the town's market, hoping to have a glimpse of our crushes, lol. Growing-up, it became the silent spectator of our generation as we kiss our first love. The fort has become our teen-age dating site :-)




Fort Santa Isabel is one of the most beautiful forts in the country now sits in beautiful man-made grounds. A lot of original structure were destroyed but the local government started its beautification program since 2016, some parts of the fort were beautifully restored. They installed spotlights in the grounds, allowing visitors going to and from El Nido to enjoy the facilities, including the museum, even at night.




We spent almost two hours of photo-shooting before proceeding to the nearby uphill restaurant overlooking the bay. While re-discovering the places I love, AWESOME is the only word that will do. 




Waiting at the hillside restaurant Casa Rosa, overlooking Taytay bay in Sulu Sea, the remains of Santa Isabel fortress, is one such moment. Shades of blue behind the fort of history give definition to what the day has to offer. The scenery while taking our lunch in Casa Rosa was astonishing and unspoilt, which is breathtaking. After all, where else in the world can you find one of the most beautiful forts with not a trinket shop, souvenir stall or ice-cream kiosk in sight?





It's a perfect scenic place for special events. If you are dreaming and looking for rustic, vintage, and idyllic destination wedding- you’ve found the stunning one. Taytay tourism management has opened the chapel on the top of the fort to private weddings for just a small fee. For just 30 pesos entrance fee, you get a fantastic view overlooking Taytay bay and the maritime fortress on your special day. 







Consider Taytay as another trip and take a tour around Fort Santa Isabel. From Puerto Princesa, it would take 4-5 hours of scenic land travel. Taytay is so close to El Nido, but so far away. It’s like a more orderly, low-profile, under-the-radar vacation spot – dare I say –  a quiet version of El Nido.









When People are the Tourist Attraction | Taytayanos



Feast your eyes on these digital back-to-back photo of performers, taken couple of years ago during the Municipality of Taytay's Foundation day celebration: Pasinggatan Festival - fiesta of dances, celebration of beauty and food extravaganza. 

I was lucky to witness the "Saraotan sa Dalan" or street dancing at that time. Such a strange feeling to be back in my hometown again after long years of drifting away. Proud to experience once again Taytay's culture and music celebrated every month of May.

PS - More post from my hometown, coming up!



EL NIDO ESCAPADE - 3-Day Travel Guide, Itinerary, and Dining Recommendations to El Nido, Palawan

Going to El Nido soon? I've gathered all the pieces of my own experiences I wrote from my previous blog posts in one to accommodate your precious time better. With numerous inquiries coming from friends and colleagues who knew I'm from Palawan, I find it best to summarize my experiences here, so I could've just send you this link, lol! I hope you'd be able to find this travel guide helpful when you visit my favorite town in Palawan. Of course, I am pleased to accommodate your questions or should you have further clarifications.



DAY 1 - Arrival and Half-day Trip

Arrival from Puerto Princesa Airport at 8 AM. Ride a van directly going to the Municipality of El Nido. Scheduled every hour, air-conditioned vans are stationed at the new terminal in Barangay Tiniguiban. Time of travel is approximately 4-6 hours from the city to El Nido town. 

Proceed to check-in to your chosen accommodation - we stayed at my cousin’s Apartelle, Cliff Tower but now renamed Cliff Angel. Long-term tenants are the tower’s main clientele, but they are open for daily accommodation if there’s vacant room. (Room Review and contacts here)


Lunch at the hotel.
Choice of (1) Nagkalit-Kalit falls hiking and visit to inland beach, Las Cabanas Beach Resort , (Php 350 pax) or (2) Nakpan Beach. We choose the first, left the apartel after lunch, bought snacks and water from the town proper and off we went to Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls via tricycle. The road to Nagkalit-kalit Falls was bumpy and muddy 20 minutes tryke ride. One gust of wind and we were drenched in the spray. Still, it was fun accompanied by screams and laughter. Plus, we were treated to wonderful scenery of tropical rain forest and farmlands as we passed through billowing clouds and mists almost covering the distant tropical forest. "El Nido has some jungle with untouched rainforests, vast mountain ranges and not just limestone-surrounded lagoons and long stretch of beaches", I said to myself. Warning: This little adventure is not for the faint-hearted:  the walks cover rocky and muddy (on rainy days) terrain, steep climb and crossing a total of 7 rivers and streams for thirty to forty-five minutes to reach the falls. You need to be physically and mentally prepared to climb carrying your belongings in a rucksack in trying circumstances. It can be tough, slippery and involve some scrambling, so prepare to get your hands dirty and your muscles stretched. (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here).


Las Cabanas Beach Resort - The beach resort doesn't have access directly from the main road. We were told that we need to hike for 5-10 minutes to the beach. Our group hesitated when we saw the muddy road leading to the beach but eventually decided to go through.  Magnificent silhouette of El Nido's signature limestone cliffs greeted them upon arrival. Trembling in cold, they stayed in the nearby beach bar to rest and ordered coffee. The view gave warm to my heart. Las Cabanas occupy a great spot in El Nido showcasing glorious stretch of coastline and uninterrupted view of Bacuit Bay. "When not raining, this spot is the best for beach wedding", I though at that moment. (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here).



Dinner at Art Café - located in the heart of the beautiful town is the best place to eat indeed... and party too! with local band playing lively music from reggae to rock, to alternative, to pop, anything actually, you just name it and the Sikap band will be happy to perform its best rendition for you while you dine in. (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here)




DAY 2 – EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING | TOUR A


Breakfast at the hotel 
TOUR A, the most famous and the most availed tour package in El Nido A.K.A. "The Lagoon Tour" as it comprised of expedition to 2 lagoons of Miniloc Island - Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon. Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, and 7 Commandos Beach are also part of the whole day tour. Costing Php 1200 each, it includes boat transportation, lunch, life jacket and snorkeling equipment, and services of a tour guide. Recommended to rent a kayak for much better experience of exploring the lagoons.


EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING  | TOUR A - Simizu Island - There's long queue of boats heading to the island. It's almost time for lunch and lunch is usually held on this island. Boat crew and tour guides prepared lunch under the shades of trees while their guests were swimming and snorkeling, and sun-bathing. (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here)  Check out what’s for lunch here.


EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING | TOUR A - BIG LAGOON - Just few minutes from Simizu Island where we had a bountiful lunch, our group arrived at the narrow entrance of the famous El Nido trademark, Big Lagoon. There’s a long queue of boats coming in and out the lagoon, so we have to wait in awe.  (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here)



EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING | TOUR A - FISH FEEDING AND SNORKELING - Oftentimes, tour operators exclude these cool activities particularly when you are running out of time to go back in mainland. Strong winds and currents normally occur during afternoon, I was told by one of the boatmen and they have to hurry to go back to the port strictly following Philippine Navy's protocol. (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here).


EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING | TOUR A - SECRET LAGOON - I was skeptical at first and planning to just wait by the boat and spend more time swimming because of bad experiences I've read online. I tried to convince the first-timer Trixie that it's just a waste of time, nothing to see, but she's very persistent to just see the lagoon. She recalled my promise to be her personal tour guide when we were planning this vacation, so I had no choice but go. (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here).


EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING | TOUR A - SEVEN COMMANDOS BEACH - It's been a day of island hopping and we headed to our last destination: Seven Commando Beach. This is where we spent the remaining time of the day to relax and cool-off extra adrenaline and enjoy a glass of cold refreshments and food sold at the beach. (Read my complete experience and view more pictures here).


Dinner at Altrove Trattoria - Should you have a plan to visit El Nido anytime soon, then I guess you already have a list of things to-do, itinerary, and travel guides. Look again and see to it that dining-in at Altrove is included in your list because dining here is an unforgettable gastronomic experience itself. (Restaurant review experience and view more pictures here).



DAY 3 - DEPARTURE 

Breakfast at the hotel, 7 AM
 8 AM to 10 AM Shopping for Pasalubong
11 AM Departure from El Nido to Puerto Princesa Airport (4-5 hours)
5 PM Arrival in Puerto Princesa City 
 6 PM Departure from PPS to MNL

Photo of the Day | Anawangin Hills


Anawangin's hills rolled into the sea is such a pleasing and stunning scenery. I took this amazing landscape photo showing the natural scene at Anawangin Beach one morning where the nearby hills slowly bathing in golden sunlight. 

For a moment, I waited to clear the thin layer of mist and fog that clings to the hillside. The hills appeared to be glowing when the sun shines slowly amidst the gray morning. It was such a beautiful panoramic view both for my eyes and soul. It makes me think that there still hope to life whatever you are going through 😊