Bacolod 2014 [B.I.G. Adventure 2]

After a very sumptuous breakfast at La Paz, we went back to our hotel to check-out and rode a cab to the port. We bought a Libre Balik ticket to Bacolod for P410 at Ocean Jet. Travel time is 1 hour.

Scorching heat welcomed us as we arrived at lunch time. We quickly hailed a tricycle going to the nearby SM City Bacolod for our luggage check-in. Spending only a few hours here so we didn’t want any unnecessary weight. And since we’re kind of tight with time, we decided to hop in a cab to go to the famous local site, The Ruins. We agreed on a P400 rate which I think is a bit of a rip-off but, yeah with the heat and all that, I’d rather pay for some comfort.

Entrance fee for The Ruins costs PhP80. We thought it’s a bit too small to be a mansion but it’s beautiful almost unreal, to be honest! The photos I’ve taken did not look real. Few groups were in there and it’s almost quiet. No tours going around. Not minding the heat, we went around the place while the dry grass tickled our feet.

DSC_0105DSC_0104DSC_0089We asked the cab driver to drop us off the capitol. From there, we just went around looking at different places. There’s a wide lagoon at the park before the capitol. Beside it is the Negros Museum and Cafe (entrance fee is PhP100-150).

DSC_0132DSC_0135The highlight of our Bacolod trip is Calea! We rode a pedicab from the capitol to Calea. There are lots of cake choices and I can’t choose one! We’re not that hungry but we decided on ordering a few bites since our trip back to Iloilo would be too long since we’ll go straight to Guimaras.


Calea made up for the rather expensive and quick trip we had in Bacolod. Literally, the White Chocolate Cheesecake which we deemed as the Redeemer did it! I can say, hands down, that it’s the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. And what’s more awesome about it is that it only costs PhP85/slice!

DSC_0147We might have enjoyed Calea a little too much. We ended up missing our ferry back to Iloilo. we had to pay another PhP100 to Ocean Jet for the rebooking.

All in all, Bacolod has still a lot to offer which I haven’t seen yet. Maybe it’s just because we didn’t have much time to roam around and commute, that’s why I felt this quick trip is a bit too expensive. Maybe next time I need to dedicate a day to explore and not ride cabs! 😉

If you’re planning to do the B.I.G. adventure, I’d suggest you start with Bacolod than Iloilo. Fly to Bacolod from Manila then depart from Iloilo back to the Manila. Would cost you less with the ferry fare.

Next and last stop — Guimaras!


Iloilo 2014 [B.I.G. Adventure 1]

B – Bacolod            I – Iloilo             G – Guimaras

Iloilo is very tourist-friendly. From the airport’s exit, there is a station for vans bound to SM City Iloilo for PhP50. From the famous mall, jeepneys going around the friendly town roam around. We rode one going to Mandurriao to get to Go Hotels. It is located at the Robinson’s Mall. Have booked a room early this year for almost PhP800. Regular room rate won’t cost you much (probably less than PhP1,500).

After leaving our luggage to them, off we went to our first stop – Molo. There are jeepneys directed to the nearby town. Molo Church would easily get your attention. Don’t hesitate to ask the drivers as most of them are happy to help and guide you. Regular fare is PhP7.50.

DSC_0017DSC_0007DSC_0001From Molo, we then rode another jeepney bound to San Joaquin (thanks to the kind policemen who waited for a ride with us!) I was originally planning on visiting Miag-Ao which is 45 minutes away from the city. San Joaquin is even farther but since it’s only 15 minutes awa from Miag-Ao, we gave it a shot. Fare is PhP60 each.

The surroundings of the towns we visited are identical. Near the church is the plaza and the town hall. There’s usually a gazeebo and a statue of Jose Rizal. San Joaquin Church’s facade was under construction. After a few moments of silence and roaming around the town, we traveled going to Miag-Ao. Fare is PhP15.

DSC_0019Miag-Ao is one of the UNESCO World Heritage site. To be honest, I expected it to be bigger but it’s still beautiful! The architectural details and the historical vibe of the place really made all the effort worth it. The sun is not shying behind the clouds but it was very cool even inside the church.

DSC_0046DSC_0030From Miag-Ao, we traveled back to the city. We arrived an hour past lunch (and an hour away from hotel check-in!). We didn’t go far and had lunch inside Robinson’s Mall. We tried Hungry Ninja. Cheapest food (a portion of a chicken and rice) costs PhP46. As our feet grew tired for half a day’s adventure, we retreated to our room for a quick nap.

I was surprised at how pleasant the room is (given the amount I paid for it). There’s one queen-sized bed, a flat TV, basic toiletries, shower and a foldable table (?). AC worked pretty well. Only complain I have would be the noise from the hallway and the other rooms which are audible inside our room. But other than that, I felt like I got more of what I paid for.

DSC_0057At half past four, we roamed around the city. Starting with Plaza Libertad. Found nothing special about this place but it’s close to a branch of Coffee Break and Biscocho Haus. It’s a stone’s throw away, too, from the downtown where we walked in search of Calle Real. We asked a lot of people where it was and we got different answers. Little did we know that we are walking along the place we are looking for! It was a five-block (rough estimate) stretch. We walked from Plaza Libertad to the Iloilo Capitol and back.

DSC_0059Just as the sun is setting, we visited one of my Iloilo favorites – Coffee Break! We just chilled there until we decided to go to Smallville – Iloilo’s district for night life.

DSC_0068We had dinner at Mojave. For less than PhP900, we had a rack of ribs and shrimps! With little sleep and tired body, what’s a greater way to end a long day than having a hefty dinner? 🙂


First half of our second day was spent in Bacolod. But before we rode a ferry going to the nearby city in the Negros province, we stopped by La Paz for breakfast. We searched for Netong’s which we found inside the public market. I’m not a big fan of noodles and innards, but Netong’s batchoy is a must-try for all those who wants to visit Iloilo.


Jumping to our fourth day… We had a few hours left before our flight back to Manila, so we decided to visit Museo Iloilo and Jaro. Entrance fee for the museum is PhP50. There are a few interesting things in there. But what captured me the most is the gallery where they showcase paintings of local artists. They are for sale. Unfortunately, it’s out of my budget. I wanted to buy one piece (maybe when I come back soon).

i00322 (1)i00343 (1)i00346 (1)Jaro is 10 minutes away from the museum which is just beside the capitol. We visited Jaro Cathedral and its belfry. Too bad the church was closed for maintenance but it was one of the most photogenic places I’ve seen. The belfry at the plaza across the church is so intimidating. It’s almost similar to the bell tower we visited in Ilocos earlier this year. But this one is bigger.

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In general, Iloilo is one of the friendliest places I’ve visited. Though we had an itinerary at hand, going from one place to another is a task. We rode jeepneys without any guarantees that they’ll take us to where we want to go. But thanks to the kind locals who are always very willing to help out a lost traveler.

I can’t wait to be back and explore more towns! 🙂

Hapag Vicentico’s

We left Baler around midday on Easter Sunday. And since most tourists are on their way back to the city for Monday’s work, the expressway is jammed with vehicles. We let it ease up and detoured to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to look for their famous Hapag Vicentico’s.

Hapag Vicentico’s is a restaurant serving Filipino food. It is located at the plaza, just in front of the city’s capitol. The interior of this well-visited place is like an old house – walls made of hard wood, delicate lights, windows with capiz and pieces of furniture like a rocking chair, wooden sofa and chairs.

DSC_0540DSC_0541DSC_0547DSC_0548Food served was superb. Authentic Filipino dishes for a reasonable price. The whole place gives you this old, Filipino under the Hispanic regime vibe. Would definitely come back and try more dishes.

DSC_0555DSC_0556DSC_0558DSC_0559DSC_0560DSC_0561Recommended food/drink/dessert: beef pochero, sinigang na hipon, buko shake with a dash of caramel and leche flan 😉
DSC_0568DSC_0573—Visit their website at them on Facebook, click here.

Banana Choco Walnut muffin (Tully’s Coffee)

Banana Choco Walnut muffin (Tully's Coffee)

One of the hidden coffee shops in the metro serves the tastiest muffin I have ever had. The soft banana bread becomes awesome with gooey chocolate chips and crispy walnuts in each bite. This is perfect for an afternoon treat for only P65!

Make your snack even more awesome and pair it with a hot Cafe Americano.

Tully’s Coffee
McKinley Park Residences
31st Street corner 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines

Baguio 2013 (Part 1)

It has been five years since the last time I went up north. As evidenced by my previous posts, I’d want my first “official” getaway to be with my family. Since Mama hasn’t been in Baguio, ever, I’ve decided to bring her to the city of pines.

January 25, 2013

We booked a bus ride at Victory Liner Pasay at 1:15 AM. We took the deluxe bus for P715. For a P300 difference from the regular bus to Baguio, you’re in for a comfortable ride. You can sleep soundly in their reclining chair. There’s a comfort room along the middle part of the bus as there are no stopovers.


Usual travel hours from Manila to the summer capital is six to eight hours but it only took us 4.5 hours! The sun hasn’t risen yet and we’re already chilling because of the early Baguio breeze. It was just a few steps away from the terminal to the hotel we’re staying at. Check-in time for Microtel Inn & Suites is at 2:00PM. But you can check in early without extra payment subject to room availability.

As soon as we stepped inside this modern hotel, we were escorted by the guard to the lobby. My sister went straight to the front desk to inquire about an early check-in. Luckily, there’s an available room. She’s doing this while I’m busy looking around the lobby. It’s a small place. There are only 4 sets of couches and chairs and one fireplace that’s not lit.


I’m quite disappointed when nobody assisted us to our room since we’re bringing a number of bags. But I didn’t complain just to keep the good vibe flowing.The interior of this hotel looks very chic. But we had to keep our curtains closed the whole time as the view outside is the residential part of the city. But their queen-sized beds won’t make this a problem. There are other parts of Baguio where you can enjoy the view. As posted in their website, Microtel beds meet the American Chiropractic Association specifics. Honestly, sleeping here was so good it’s become a problem. You almost don’t want to leave and explore. My sister even ditched our second day trip because she just wanted to sleep all day.

There’s a complimentary breakfast care of Te Quiero Tapas Bar and Restaurant located just beside the hotel. It’s a breakfast buffet with main dishes of Spanish origins (hence, the name of the establishment). The bar is quite small and tables are practically squeezed in to accommodate everyone.


I love the dominating color of deep red though I think it made the place even smaller than it really is. The food looked great but it’s bland for my taste buds. My sister even joked about wanting to sprinkle salt in their pork peccadillo. But, thanks to our saviors — minatamis na saging na saba with orange and pineapple slices and their home-made peanut butter — I didn’t feel like I’ve been robbed with the brekky.

Food at Te Quiero

After breakfast, we succumb to our body’s need of sleep. The itinerary I prepared was shaken up fully but I didn’t mind. We won’t enjoy it anyway with a tired physique.

It was past 1PM when we take turns to shower. The water heater was perfectly working. The staff has become attentive to our needs. It’s quite a turnaround from what happened earlier. We asked for extra towels and in less than five minutes, somebody’s knocking in the door. People in the front desk are all smiles when we’re heading out. They even provided us a map of the city (but only if you asked).

It’s a short walk from the hotel to SM Baguio. I wanted Mama to see the view from here. We stayed for approximately thirty minutes there.


We, then, rode a cab to Camp John Hay which costed us P60. It’s the quieter side of Baguio as the city is swarming with people and blaring vehicles. I only wanted to visit the Starbucks branch here ( I learned that there are two branches inside). But we’re famished and grabbed late lunch at Little John’s, Mile Hi, CJH.

Little John'sPrices to smile about… That’s their tag line which they live up to. Delicious fish and chips with perfectly fried potato wedges for only P165 and baby back ribs for P155! The ribs are tender but the taste is just average. What caught our attention are the frames hanging in one side of their wall which show different doodles and drawings from customers. In each table, there’s a blank brown paper and crayons. Serving would take quite a while and having these materials would surely kill the boredom.

Before heading farther to find Starbucks, we took a detour and visited outlet stores adjacent to Little John’s. Found and bought a shirt almost for $18 in Adidas! I’m a happy kid. We asked for directions on how to get to the nearest Starbucks branch and the quest is on! It’s painful to walk up the slope but we found it after fifteen minutes of walk.

StarbucksWhat sets apart this branch to any Manila shops? Cheesecake in strawberry sauce! It’s just your normal cheesecake drowned in Baguio’s freshest strawberry puree. It’s bloody yummy! We even bought two slices to-go to binge on in our hotel room. Also, I bought my own memorabilia of this trip – Baguio mug. From afar, this looks like a country house. We stayed outside as it just made us feel like we’re home. Pine trees everywhere and I can’t help but take a photo of ’em.


We headed back to the hotel just before the sun sets. Mama dozed off quickly while I watch an American Idol episode. Our itinerary is not fully packed so we can have plenty of time to relax or even hit the sack. It was already around 9PM, after watching Confessions of a Shopaholic in Studio 23 with my sister when we decided to go outside and buy dinner. We left Mama with her dreams as we rode a cab to Lower Session Road (which by the way blew me away!) We can actually walk from the hotel but it’s quite late and we don’t wanna take any chances.

Its long busy stretch reminds me of downtown Manila. It was a Friday night so everybody’s outside to have a fun night. We went inside Volante, a homegrown pizza chain, and ordered sardines and mushroom and pepperoni pizza. We paired it with a seafood pasta. It is a go-to place for Baguio people as evidenced by the packs who consistently comes in. They also serve 24/7.

photo(2)It was an early night for the three of us. After dinner, I spent a few minutes watching TV before turning into a pumpkin. I was excited for the next day’s trip to La Trinidad! Our bus ride back to Manila is at 4:00PM, Saturday. We took the regular ride as the available deluxe trip is too early for us.

Good night!


Pictures are mine and can be found in Instagram (@franzdomasian). Thanks! 🙂