Taal Vista Lodge, Tagaytay City, Philippines


Savor the best in center table offerings amidst shivery atmosphere,
crisp refreshing inhales of oxygen, atop views of world acclaimed Taal lake, greeneries
and hmmmmm re-invigorating breeze.
Join me as we delve into their “bragging rights”.
One sunday, was in my usual “alone again naturally” state,
my legs and driving acumen led me to, once more, dive into adventure and gear up to Tagaytay City,
the fave destination of many for food, sights and weather.
About 80-90 kms from Manila and 15-18 kms from my place.
Lunch time that was and found me seated by the buffet area.
Oh OK go for it…murmured to myself.



Create Your Own FIA Salad

Create Your Pinoy Salad


Sisig Area


First Batch

My second take post salad.

My 2nd batch



That’s about all. Am full. I am just the “tikim guy” anyway and shelled out Php1,300++ for such.
BTW, “tikim” means mainly savouring/taste test to find out whether outstanding
or should be delegated outside the mess hall for their ain’t appropriateness
…due to rancidity or blandness or toughness to wrong process utilization plus the other heck of criteria.
Seriously, for the food preps, I will rate Veranda 8 out of 10.
More so the overnight marination of grilled boneless chicken in honey, lots of honey,
soy sauce, brown sugar, ground black pepper, chili powder,
very subdued acidity of lemon (I think) or vinegar though gas grilled bit well done is a “must try”.
That prep caught my attention.
Did not show here the shot of roasted beef as some non-rare to mid-rare eater readers
might be horrified in sight of leaking off reddish-pink blood when sliced
…but they do welcome roasting further to medium-well to well-done.

Ham’s curved pork skin-brown seared to simulate “Hawaiian Style” was really tough.
Lean tasted sugar sweetened with hints of I don’t know. But “curing” is well attained.

The views worth staring at to re-charge:




Rooms to stay-perfect site, function and event halls-ideal
and wide play ground awaits kids’ run and about.

Did not take shots of rooms and other facilities as I was not on pre-approved blog writing visit.
Anyway, here’s their link:

Thumbs up.
Highly recommended to visit.

(Family) Travel

BORACAY (2nd of 2 posts)…modus of some hotels & the “irk-ies”.


Whether you’re on a morning’s much needed fresh air intake
to replace the carbon-mono laden oxygen in our lungs
(vehicles’ emitted and/or secondary cigarettes’ smoke)


…or on an afternoon serene rest by the beach front


“killing time”
(what a “Pinoy” way of expressing ” to pass the time”)


or honing your photography skills


(Oh my. Hands of this old man are still controllably un-shaky
with this 15 meter upward handheld [up]

and this 10 meter [below] shots
with D300 70-300mm zoom)


…or stroll peacefully eagerly awaiting the “coolest” sunset ever




A minute WON’T  pass without you NOT saying “NO THANK YOU” to vendors of ALL types of wares. From sunglasses to “balut” (un-hatched boiled duck egg) to boiled corn to ice cream to rice cakes to island hopping tours to pearl necklaces to free dinner offers pirating you from your current hotel to theirs’ to  ALMOST EVERYTHING.              
WHEW!…and again… WHEW!
I see no wrong in that instance. BUT it’s ANNOYING. Authorities had managed to assemble thousands of former ambulant “masseurs”, in strategic locations, to be in tent-sheds with open-view massage beds where they wait for clientele to engage their services. This is PERFECT!
Why can’t they do that to these pestering “ants’-like vendors” plying every nook of the island. My own counting, during my wife’s & my short visit, revealed: there were 80% Koreans, 12% Americans & Caucasians, 3% Japanese & 5% Filipinos.
And the ratio is, 1 vendor : 10 tourists.
You could imagine that with your every 2-steps by the beach-one is to offer you “something”-where you will keep on saying NO THANK YOU as well.
Suggestion: stack them out in strategic sites like the “masseurs”.
SMOKERS: they don’t follow signs. All of them smokers. FYI, there are notices pasted everywhere & reminders even before your plane starts initial descent THAT SMOKING & EATING ARE PROHIBITED IN BEACH AREA.
                      WHEW, WHEW & WHEW. This broke my ecstasy for a nice vacation the most.


Check that guy selling sunglasses.
He will pass by you 2-3 times in an hour.
How many of them kind will make you say “no thank you” in a minute.
Also, see if you can identify the vendors in this shot below.
More irritating are the convergence of “istambays”
(people who have nothing to do but assemble in a corner & do nothing, still)
then make FUN of anybody (tourists or locals)
for anything or something that they deem to make fun off.
Laughing loud, screaming jokes towards any “shortcoming” or “anything” of the passer(s) by
they feel happy doing so.


OOPPPssss…was at 2nd floor of this joint…”REAL COFFEE”
upon suggestions of my kids for us to try their vaunted coffee concoction,
“calamansi muffin” and “Marc’s Sandwich”- plain heated loaf bread
wedged with tuna topped with abundant melted cheese and LTO
(lettuce, tomatoes & onion which I asked to be on separate plate for me to really dissect what’s in the filling).
And I had this:


Hat’s off, I salute their “real coffee” recipe: a jigger of espresso added to freshly dripped one.
Plain. Simple. No added bottled flavor concentrates.
THE BEST COFFEE I’ve ever had
after testing over a hundred preps including those known worldwide & national brands.
Highly recommended.
But the sandwich is nothing new as canned tuna was just abundantly mixed with
CHEVITAL or KRAFT or MAGNOLIA quick melt cheese. Stuff unto loaf halves-toast and that’s it.
Had to sprinkle a lot of salt though.
“Calamansi muffin” is like a regular “kababayan” (a kind of local muffin)
which dough is poured with an “extract” or juice of “calamansi” (our local lemon).
Methinks it’s more of little juice extended by bottled flavor.
And I loved my fresh LTO.

Paging the Department of Trade & Industry: most bit high-end resorts and hotels in Boracay DO NOT EXTEND senior’s discount. Discovered this when still booking for our trip. One staff (over the phone) even irritably said: “if you will ask for senior’s discount, we will NOT extend to you the free breakfast. (FYI, under the law, citizens 60 & above are extended 20% discounts on medicines, single served meal, hotels, 20-30% or at times FREE at cinemas etc. & 5% for some basic needs’ groceries)

Which is why I ended up cancelling 3 bookings and took our billeted one which extended such discount, with free breakfast and dinner. What a bargain. But not fit to mention. Some services are bad, including the food. That’s the trade-off.

Catching my attention is this resort below. They present interesting line up of Korean dishes for buffet (well, 98% of their clients are of that nationality), live band music and middle of the ground dancing to your heart’s content in between your spoonful (or chopstick) take of food. WOW! So vibrant atmosphere.


Will try next time even for just the vibrancy of ambiance.
But I have to bring my own food, under corkage fee, as I am not a fan of Korean dishes (pardon me).
maybe just a quiet dinner, again, over my fave “beer” with Pangs at the hotel’s veranda.


My face is really red after the 3rd bottle.
Love it.

BORACAY, on tourism service analyzer’s & food critic’s perspectives. First of two.

After a long straight year of hussles, heartaches and grinding,
time for our (“Pang’s” & mine) long awaited re-charging vacation
in a bit serene no-horn blowing vehicles-by the sea haven.
Peace & quiet…even just during an early morning white sand stroll.
Never mind the night rumblings, I can go with it at times.
As early as first week January, I already booked for 4 days-3 nights stay at Boracay.
Oh well everyone knows Boracay.
But allow me to share some “hidden happenings” untold, un-newspaper-ized.
Airline requested that we flew an hour earlier as such first flight wasn’t full yet.
Agreed. Air travel was smooth.
No shots allowed at tarmac.
Oh really? Well, you can’t stop a photographer…by finding his way.


On final descent took this shot using my Samsung Tab 2.


Plane was not full. Transferred to opposite seat tagging my D300 with 70-300mm & snapped this out while touching down.
Arrival at Caticlan airport was met with warmth and courteousness of locals.
Quick land travel up to Caticlan Jettyport then about 25-30 boat ride to Boracay Island.
The hotel by the beach-front we’re billeted extended an early check-in (8:30am)
which was supposed to be 2:00pm.
And already these caught my attention:
Second floor view.
Isn’t it peaceful?
Boracay has been known worldwide to be one of the best resorts
with sugary-white-powdery sands that never burn your bare feet no matter how hot the sun gets.
This is the mystique of the place blending well with ultra clean sea water
making it possible for you to see your feet (even small fishes) on waist deep area.
Other white beaches in the world have sands made of SILICA.
Boracay’s powdery sand comes from crushed corals from bedrocks of Caticlan, Kalibo & Boracay itself
which are polished as they are driven to the shore line by the gentle waves.
This is how its magical white sand is replenished in a to-and-pro motion of the waves.
Let’s go to food.
Taste, in my opinion, does not call for a big issue in Boracay. Not that their food is bland
but I believe “plating” is far more important to them than palatability.
This is so for more than 2/3 of islands visitors are foreigners, mostly accustomed to
plain tasting meals, happier to douse condiments thereby while eating.
OR, cooks thereby know that majority of tourists, more so the men,
will just make make their food as “pulutan” (pica-pica. finger foods while drinking)
Had tried no less than 8 of them, nobody passed my liking.
Even our very own “known lechon manok” (char-grilled chicken) brand
served me & my wife with mega dry char-grilled chicken (we consumed half), half cooked rice (we ate 1/4)
and “SOAPY TASTE SINIGANG NA BABOY SA GABI” (soap tasting tamarind soup based pork in white taro).
Why “soapy”? Pork cubes had been pre-boiled and kept, most probably,
not in freezer enabling bacteria in “opposum” to propagate,
that when added to soup, rancidity of the oil used, when sauteing tomatoes & garlic,
reacted with each other eliciting unpleasant-ness.
WhadaF…We hurriedly left.
Anyway, on lighter note check these out.
Visiting this haven will not be complete without you guys going to the D’ Market.
The place has dry goods souvenir section:


The freshest oysters majority coming from Roxas City.


Clams galore.


Big clams.


Red grouper.


Can you beat that?
Crabs, lobsters, jumping shrimps, gigantic squids, meat, veggies & condiments
are also vigorously sold and go have them cooked by restos
to the side for whatever recipe-type you desire.
But beware. Again…BEWARE.
When we were marketing for our cravings, I particularly noticed
2 vendors SHOUTING at foreigners/tourists who were bargaining for bit lower prices.
Vendor #1 (refer to the map drawing of D’ Market) even accosted a Korean lady and shouted
“your price in that list is a LIAR”
“give me that I will break”
and “no good list-no good list”
(for the lady kept on referring to her notes on how to say how much or can I bargain or whatever in Filipino)
Then a caucasian passed by and asked how much was a kilo of big squid.
He agreed to the price and started to choose which ones to get.
Again, Vendor #1 shouted: “no choose-no choose. I give you”
Of course the man didn’t agree. He wanted his choice.
Vendor #1 screamed: “Go out! Don’t buy.”
Be very careful.
This Vendor #1 is “a one-eyed Jack” who acts like a hoodlum.
Nowhere must he be in Boracay.
Same is true with Vendor #2. He shouts at lady Koreans who he did not like the bargain.
After shouting, he will puff his cigarette. blow smoke up, put 2 hands in pockets
and walk like Fernando Poe, Jr. or Robin Padilla. (Philippines most loved action stars)

Below is the sketch of D’ Market for your info.
Marked thereby are the spots of those 2 vendors. Caveat emptor.
Also, posting the “paluto” resto where my wife & I found real professional service
and who sought apology for the reactions of those “hoodlums”.
May I page the attention of secretaries of Tourism & Trade & Industry?
(ok now I’m doing my job…listen & act)
Don’t bother yourselves with those tough guys.
Good, mild mannered & respectful vendors dominate the site.
And below is my recommended (highly professional) “paluto” (they cook for you) site.
Done with first of 2 series of posts re Boracay.
Let me collect & collate my thoughts then.
Next I will be exposing the trade modus of some establishments for you to be aware when you visit.
But in general, I highly recommend Boracay.
Rest, eat a lot-never mind the taste, drink till you drop, swim to an un-ending clean waters
witness the “coolest sunset” in the world, re-charge with the most serene (if there are no vendors nearby)
and healthiest air intake by the sea (if MPSA is doing its job of prohibiting smokers by the beach front)
…but be wary.
Check these out:

(Family Time) Hmmm…little action, sun’s warmth, cool-fresh air & revitalizing view.

I chanced upon this file of shots with family.
In particular, those taken March 15, 2009 from a public viewing deck at Tagaytay City.
(south of Manila, province of Cavite, Region IV, Luzon, Philippines)
One of the most popular & widely visited tourist destinations for its cool breeze (2,080 ft. above sea level),
colorful flowers, fine eateries, fresh agri-produce and exciting view of Taal Lake.
This old guy felt the urge to re-visit this place the family used to go to few years back.
With Pangs, night before, prepared simple food for the 4 kids (used to be 3)
to enjoy (we did hope) while we all breathe the cool air.
Sunday Feb. 16, listened first to my son’s, Pastor Janssen’s, preaching
then hurriedly tagged the JAG kids en-route to our picnic site.


(Click above picture to see MORE of Tagaytay City).
At least the 2nd trial I made with LIEMP-CHON proved gratifying.
Check HERE the details of what I did & used last December’s trial.
And here we go..eating, playing, bonding…
(click the pic to view it larger)


Ohh yah…we enjoyed every bit of our bonding.
Wanna see Tagaytay or any city & pleasing tourist spots in the Philippines
…or any part in the world, check the best & cheapest accommodation below: