Friday, July 29, 2011

Travel Playlist

Music soothes the soul, and makes everything relaxing especially when I'm traveling. Some travel purists say that listening to music while traveling sometimes takes away the experience of being displaced, but what the heck. I enjoy listening to music but I admit, I can survive a journey without it.
Below are some of my favorite songs, the ones I ended up listening to when I was on a ferry boat to Bantayan Island (mostly Deathcab for Cutie albums) and going up north alone.

photo from here
1. Clocks by Coldplay-
I've associated this song with the image of Peter Pan flying to Never Never land. (This was the soundtrack to that movie, I think). It conjures freedom. So whenever I go island hopping or on a bus somewhere, this song always makes the playlist!

2. Moviescript Ending by Deathcab for Cutie -
Virgin Suicides is one of my favorite movies and this is included in the OST. Loved Deathcab since 2004! Imagine your self on a boat and a camera craning towards you and the open seas, and this song playing in your ears...bliss.

3. Cinema Paradiso OST by Ennio Morricone
Cinema Paradiso is one of my favorite films. This is also my working playlist whenever I'm writing. It stimulates my all my senses!

4. Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeah's
This is one of my favorite songs. There are also quite a few memories conjured when I play this. Gotta include this in the playlist!

5. Love song by The Cure
Perfect for laidback and carefree road trips! If you want you can include all songs by The Cure, guaranteed upbeat, travel music.

6. There is a light that never goes out by The Smiths
"To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die". This is also my walking soundtrack--I remember walking around Iloilo with this song.

7. Nemo by Nightwish
IPerfect when you just want to drown in the music and the soprano voice of Tarja Turunen (the replacement vocalist is bleh)

8. Crash Into me by Dave Matthews Band
- Such a dreamy song. Loved this song for the longest time! Calming, and yes perfect for emo-trips.

9. The Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine
- recent favorite! Inspirational. I listen to this when I hop on the treadmill too!

10. Hummingbird Heartbeat by Katy Perry
This song is so much fun! I have Katy Perry album in my Itouch and this is my most favorite song of hers. So upbeat and cheery!

What is your travel playlist?
More Cebu entries up next!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Journey to Bantayan

1 hour taxi ride from Sct Borromeo to Terminal 3

1 hour waiting at Terminal 3 before boarding

1 and a half hour plane ride to Cebu from Manila

30 minutes taxi ride from Mactan Airport to North Terminal (near SM Cebu)

Two hours break: Late lunch in SM Cebu, bought tickets for the Ferry Ride.

4 hours Bus Ride from North Cebu Terminal to Hagnaya Port

2 hours ferry ride from Hagnaya Port to Bantayan Island.

10 minutes shuttle ride from Sta Fe wharf to Kota Beach

…All sums up to priceless memories in Paradise.

They say that the journey matters more than the destination. But in this case, both the journey and the destination are worth every single penny, time and effort! 
This journey marks my  first time in the island of Cebu. My stay in the city was short and sweet because I was headed to a paradise that lies up north…Bantayan Island. 

I stayed in Kota Beach, where there is a natural pool separated by a magical sand bar. 
It was a magnificent beachfront view. Natural and if I try to bend the truth, virgin. 

There were endless aquamarine waters. White sand.

While the beach is not remote, my general take on the place, is as if, I was all alone in the island.  Peaceful. Not too much noise, not too quiet either. 
Not too touristy, not too remote.

Maybe because of the lack of too much beach activities like kayaking, surfing, or sailing? That the allure of the place relies on the calm of the sea, the sand and the traveler. You're not forced to do something, because doing something takes you away from all the magic.
Maybe because I’ve seen a few kids who haul their boats and nets for a quick fishing expedition early in the day?
Bantayan is not yet a party island, and it doesn’t quite aspire to. It is a beach that can be enjoyed to socialize and to vegetate in solitude or with your friends.


How to get there:

1. Board a plane from Terminal 3 going to Cebu City if you are coming from Manila.
2. Upon reaching Mactan Airport, you can now take the white taxis (just climb a short flight of stairs and you'll see them). Yellow taxis with more expensive meters are what you will see first though.
3. Go to North Terminal - it's near SM Cebu. The fare from the airport to North Terminal will cost about 100 plus pesos. You will pass by Mandaue city, Lapu lapu city and others before you get to Cebu city.
4. Once you are in the North Terminal, you can board a Ceres bus going to Hagnaya Port. There are choices between air conditioned and non a/c buses. In my case, we took the air con bus. Fare costs about 150 plus. The journey is about three and a half to four hours. Along the way you will pass by various ports goint to Malapascua and Camotes Islands.
5. After hours of bus ride, you will are now in Hagnaya Port. The ferry boat is operated by Island Shipping corp. We took the special (air con) trip that costs around 170 pesos.
6. After about one and a half to two hours, you will now reach the port of Sta Fe in Bantayan Island. Your beach resort will probably have a shuttle that will take you to your resort. I stayed in Kota beach and the resort has a shuttle stationed near the port. If you do not have any accomodation yet, there are trisikad, habal -habal that can take you to various resorts. Travel time is only about 5-10 minutes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunshine in a bowl

Iloilo is one of those places I never thought I will ever explore on my own.  As I was uncovering little bits and pieces about Iloilo during my pre-travel research,  I envisioned myself doing two things –to pray at the beautiful churches including the UNESCO World Heritage Church Miag-Ao Church,  and to eat! 

Batchoy is a dish characterized by a  marvelous concoction of hot broth, noodles and slices of meat, liver and crushed pork cracklings originated in La Paz, Iloilo. Paired with pandesal or puto, batchoy is sunshine in a bowl during cold, rainy days. 

The noodle soup dish is said to have been originated in the late 1930’s by Federico Guillergan. And in his namesake, he established Deco’s Batchoy. Deco's is now a popular batchoy food chain all over the country and as of today, there is one branch in Metro Manila, found in Makati.

Apart from Deco's, there were also other accounts about a certain Teodorico Lapura who, popularized  batchoy via his namesake restaurant,  Ted’s Old Timer La Paz Batchoy which was established in 1940’s. Ted's has a lot of branches in the Metro - the one near my area is found in Cubao. 

When I was in Iloilo, I thought, what better way to end the competition between Ted's and Deco's than to try them both for myself?

So, first stop, Deco’s in Robinson’s Iloilo.

I was a bit letdown because I thought that Deco's might have scrimped my toppings BUT, I was wrong. The moment the broth touched my lips I knew I was in heaven. The broth has a full flavour, but the taste is clear, distinct, nuanced yet very simple. 

Second stop, Ted’s Old Timer in Diversion Road

Unlike my Deco's bowl, the one I had at Ted's Oldtimer in Diversion road is an all out production. A bowl complete with egg and many little bits of meat all over the place. One word ... Yum! 

I guess it is an endless battle to choose between the two popular batchoy restaurants and I won’t even attempt.  Although,  I am particularly haunted by Deco’s smooth, really flavourful broth, especially on a cold bed weather. Not even a trip to Ted’s Oldtimer in Alimall Cubao satisfied my craving for batchoy during one of those recent and frequent Quezon city rains.  

Today, the Ilonggo specialty is a dish not just native in Iloilo, but is now a popular soup well-loved by the entire country. It's one of those dishes that has crossed boundaries. Even local instant noodles have a variety after the bubbling broth. I am not an Ilongo native, but ever since I have tried Batchoy in Iloilo, I am now an instant fan.

Batchoy can surely pump anyone up on a lethargic rainy day. And despite its lethal combination of pork, cracklings, beef, chicken and liver, I know I will always crave for this happy soup. It’s both life and death in a bowl and I would savor every spoonful.

This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for July 2011 with the theme: "Awesome Food Experiences While Traveling in the Philippines" hosted by Anton Diaz .