Thursday, July 28, 2011

Your not-so-ordinary pizza....Pinakbet pizza

Our tour guide/driver in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte kept saying that we should try the famous Pinakbet pizza. Hmmm....I think everyone had their quiet moment at that time and was trying to visualize it on the top of our heads on how it looked like and how it tasted. Pinakbet, for those who is not familiar to this dish, it is a mixture of different vegetables such as Okra, bitter gourd, eggplant, tomatoes and shrimp paste. I think the Ilocanos claim this dish. Not a lot of people likes this dish especially when you are not a fan of veggies. Someone then decided to be creative and decided to put it on a pizza........

We went to Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant at Rizal St. in Laoag City where it's not really hard to find as it is a known place. We ordered just the medium size I think because we were still unsure if we would like it or not. I even told the security guard at our hotel, who has not tasted it yet, that in case we did not like it, I would bring him a slice. I like pinakbet but with rice and not on a pizza dough. So we ordered different pastas to go with it in case it did not work out. They have an interesting menu...a fusion of everything that you'd think would be weird for the palate.

While waiting, we observe the place. Of course, we had the never-ending I-was-here photo almost every tourist has. The place had a cozy look and atmosphere. Good place for friends and family to have a good meal.The place wasn't that big...a couple of tables which was good. I'm not into furnitures and all so I can't describe it that well. They also sell vinegars and other products. The staff who served the food was friendly. They have wi-fi too. The only negative thing I can say about the place was that we saw a mosquito or two who greeted us. 

The Pinakbet pizza turned out actually good. We thought it was just going to be a slice for everyone. I had two slices and so did the rest. It was loaded with cheese and I liked that because it gave some contrast to the bitter gourd. I'd say it's a MUST-try to every tourist who visits Laoag. Poor security guard. I was not able to bring him a slice.   

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Pagudpud Tour

Pagudpud is one place I have been wanting to go to for years already but the 12 hour trip just did not work out for people I invited to go with me. So when my travel buddy, Marlene said that was our next destination, I did not think twice about it.

Since noone wanted to drive that long, we took the bus going there. Though you can fly via Laoag Airport. We got on the Florida Bus (you wont miss their all PINK buses) where their terminal is located in Cubao, Quezon City and I think they have the cheapest fare bound to Ilocos. The aircon bus fare with toilet inside is P780 and we left on-time. I was not able to count the stop-overs as I was asleep most of the time. Also, I highly recommend that you take night trips as it is faster because of less traffic. The bus' route passes towns. We have decided to start at the far end of Ilocos so after 10 hours of our night trip, we finally reached Pagudpud.

It's not hard to get rides in Ilocos. We went for what they called "tourcycle" where we rented a tricycle which can fit 3 passengers that would bring us around the tourist spots for only P400 per person. Trikes are not the most comfortable mode of transportation especially the spots in Ilocos are a bit far from each other (I was able to take a nap on between rides). Though what makes it a bit easier is the spacious and well-maintaned roads they have. It makes you wish that Metro Manila roads would be like this.

It's cheap to go around the places as most of it does not require any fees. I've made blogs of the tourists spots separately. Just click on the links below.  I enjoyed my visit here and would definitely visit again.


Saud Beach

Timmangtang Rock & Bantay Abot Cave

Patapat Viaduct

Kabigan Falls

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Bangui Windmills

Blue Lagoon, Paraiso ni Anton and Agua Verde

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Swim the right way

Looking at the collage I made of me in the water makes one conclude that I love the water and I swim until I drop. Well . . . . . almost true. I love going to the beach, dipping in the pool, trying out activities on the water BUT . . . . . I must be in the water where I can reach the bottom, I must have a life vest when I can't reach the bottom and my heart beats ten times faster when I try out activities in the water. In other words . . . . . I don't know how to swim. I know how to float on my back and on my belly and I do swim the way I know how which unfortunately is the wrong way. I also know how to drown as I can still remember a memory of myself with a couple of people I can't recall who (selective memory), was saved by a lifeguard at White Rock Beach Resort.

Then one day I was invited to go surfing. It was something I won't do because you can't wear a life vest there. Still, I went because I've always wanted to take photos of the surf & the surfers. Though, I got jealous as my companions were all getting stoked while learning to be up on those waves. So when I got back to Manila, I googled for swimming classes.

My swim class is at PhilSport Complex (former Ultra) in Pasig City. Our regular classes would be on weekends 9am - 10am and at times, on weekdays. An hour is equivalent to one class per day but because I'm determined to learn the right way, I usually spend 2 - 3 hours a day in the pool just practising. I have a lot of adult classmates, some share the same goal, which makes learning fun and achievable.

My teacher/coach is Rosa Alcantara who is the daughter of swimmer Sotero Alcantara or more known as Coach Terong in the swimming community. She was a member of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) swimming team and NCR team of Palarong Pambansa from 1991 - 1996. She was also part of the sychronized swimming team when it was starting here in the country. Coach Terong had exposed her to teaching swim lessons at an early age of 13 as he had a lot of swimming programs during summer. Now, she does this as a profession all throughout the year teaching kids from ages 3 to adults of 70 years old. She also does private lessons outside Ultra like she can go to one's house or condo if they have a pool but must be teaching a minimum of 2 - 3 students. Her schedule in Ultra is every weekend and can do weekdays at a minimum of 3 students. Her husband, Ivan is also her partner in teaching the hopeful swimmers.       

Program includes:
Kid's beginner course ages 6-11orientation to water, basic safety rules, blowing bubbles and bobbing. Expands on basic skills, gliding, rhythmic breathing, flutter kick, and basic freestyle.
Teen's beginner course ages 12-18 : basic skills, basic safety rules and basic freestyle.
Adult's beginner course: basic safety rules, survival, threading and basic freestyle.
Advance course : for further coordination and refinement of strokes, freestyle, breastroke, backstroke and butterfly. develops maximum efficiency, power and endurance of strokes

You may reach Coach Rosa by texting/calling her at these numbers 09228750663 or 09065182219  e-mail and YM ID tisay075. Facebook page!/pages/Learn-To-Swim/176648165708847

with Coach Rosa

Teaching the young ones

Board drills

Adult students

The ladies with Coach Rosa

Teacher Ivan with his students...on their first day


Swimming with good teachers and good company
Fun under the water


Friday, July 8, 2011

Saud Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

One of the things on a tourist or traveller's list is the place to stay. Aside from the budget and the availability, accessibility and how much time one will be spending inside the place, should be considered. With our Pagudpud trip, Marlene, the best travel coordinator friend I have, decided that we would be staying in a homestay instead of a hotel or resort. Why is that? It's because we would be outdoors most of the time and we just needed a place where we could dump our things, sleep and bathe. Of course, we went for a clean, safe and cheap place. We stayed at Cathy's Homestay which is at Saud Beach. From the main road, we had a  7 - 10mins trike ride. For an overnight stay, it cost us 1500 pesos (which was not bad compared to a hotel rate) We had three spacious beds that can fit 6 people, air conditioned and a bathroom with a shower. Ate Cathy was there to greet  us and she took care of us until the time we left the following day. She cooked dinner and breakfast which was delicious especially our dinner. We bought a 1 1/2 kilo of Bangus or milk fish at the market and I joked that Ate Cathy should have it cooked as Relyeno or stuffed tomatoes and onions inside the fish. Of course that was hard work...and told Marlene to just have it fried. But guess what....she served us Relyenong Bangus. Poor cat...nothing left except the fish head. What a way to end the night at Pagudpud!    

Our room at Cathy's

Waiting for dinner

Marlene and Chando as we watch the sunset at Saud Beach

Cottages outside Cathy's fronting Saud beach

We went for a morning walk at the beach which is always the best,
to discover the resorts near Cathy's

There was no signeage on this place so it might be a private beach house which I tresspassed on...Sorry! It's such a nice house and we just need to have a photo with us on it. It was open so we did not climb a barbwire or a fence

What's a beach without this :)

Fishermen selling their catch...the man in red just finished his morning drink ;P

The Lobster man

I hope to have you as my lunch but you're pretty pricey

Saud Beach on your right

We were surprised when we turned to our left facing Saud Beach, are the Bangui windmills!!!
I can't believe we missed this. The view is right in front of our place. 

Love it!!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

...and the rest of Pagudpud.

I've combined three locations that we visited in Pagudpud that we did not spend too much time at for different reasons but let me share photos and information about it.

First photo you see is a group photo at the signeage that says Agua Grande. An evidence that we really did go to the place but just viewed it from the entrance. You've seen everything from the entrance and since we've dipped at the falls and planned that the next dip would be at the lagoon, we decided to not go in. There was an entrance fee of 20 pesos and the only way to enjoy the place is to go and feel the river.

view from the entrance

This is known for its eco-friendly and non carbon producing mini-hydro electric power plant. It has been providing a renewable and alternative power supply to the consumers of Pagudpud, Bangui, Dumalneg, Adams and Burgos.

The park you'll notice has huts, picnic tables and a stony creek moving its way to the sea. It's a good place for just sitting in between or on the big rocks or pebbles, freshening up with the water and relaxing. You can either choose to go for the fresh or salt water.  Bonding moments with family, friends or loved ones by enjoying nature and capturing moments.   

We were here!!!! :)

A couple of meters away from Agua Verde is Paraiso ni Anton or Anton's Paradise. At first I thought it was a resort basing it on the name...but it was one of those said to be believed miraculous healing waters that comes from the mountain.  

A lot of people would drink or bring home water from here.
I guess...this has stopped after DENR came out with the memo

We wanted to end the day at the Blue Lagoon a.k.a Maira-ira Beach. Because it's the blue lagoon!!! They say you'll feel like Brooke Shields when you're there. Hmmm....I know she stars in that movie which was shown decades ago so I did not entirely get what they meant. It is a half moon in shape and it really is indeed blue. What I love about it is that the sand is so fine. I remember saying to my companions that it is similar to Boracay sand, not as white... but as fine. I said that without knowing that Blue Lagoon is considered as Boracay of the North.