• New Menu of Cafe Plazuela at the Avenue Plaza Hotel

  • Relax and unwind at La Huerta de Rosario Farm, Baao, CamSur

    Baao, CamSur

  • Travel Guide to Mercedes, CamNorte


Saturday, February 11, 2017

#NcDRoadTrip: 3 Things You Can Do in An Hour in Tayabas, Quezon

For Bicolanos like me, we consider Quezon as one of the longest roads that we pass by going to and from Manila. With the completion of new by-pass roads along Quezon, we are now becoming distant to the gastronomic fares and idyllic towns and cities along the way. While we don't really have the intention of visiting these towns, I realized that we can never rightfully pin down on the map places that we just passed by, after all, passing by is totally different from setting foot on them for a few hours.  

The first time I was able to pass by Tayabas was when we went for a pilgrimage to Kamay ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban, Quezon. Noticed old buildings and iconic churches along the way and had me hanging for quite some time not knowing when my return would be. Interestingly Tayabas also has numerous cemeteries, seriously. I'm always drawn to old places and structures, the aesthetics of the place resonates stories that the ear cannot hear but has strong feels to the heart. 

Luckily, we had a work-related trip in Manila towards the end of January and when we were Bicol-bound, we had an unplanned "along the way lang naman, daan tayo sa ___" and so it was Tayabas. We spent a little extra liters of diesel and an added forty minutes to our trip because we also had our nth palasubong stop-over in Calle Budin (read more about it below). 

Tayabas is a land-locked town which is situated at the south-eastern of “Mt. Banahaw”. It features local delicacies, UNESCO-worthy churches,  historical bridges and heritage houses. Here are the 3 things that you enjoy for an HOUR in Tayabas, Quezon.

1. Visit Minor Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel

"Built in 1585, the Minor Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel is a Roman Catholic basilica located in Tayabas, Quezon. It is the largest Catholic church in the Province of Quezon.It is renowned for having the shape of a key. Locals often refer to the church as Susi ng Tayabas.On October 18, 1988 the title Minor Basilica was conferred by Pope John Paul II. It was proclaimed on January 21, 1989."

Minor Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel
This church is said to be have the longest aisle in the country, this will actually help the bride think about saying yes or no at the end of the alter haha. 

2. Casa Comunidad de Tayabas

Known as the biggest “Bahay na Bato” ever restored by the National Historical Institute and declared a National Historical Landmark in 1978, this house is Tayabas' most famous landmark. "This was where Apolonio de la Cruz, better known as Hermano Pule, was sentenced to death by firing squad." This house is actually a head turner, it's impossible if you will not notice this beautiful landmark.  

3. Buy and eat Budin and other local delicacies at Calle Budin "Home of Special Budin and Pasalubong".

Eat Budin and Yema Cake

Sample on local foods and delicacies or better yet bring home some as pasalubong. Buying pasalubong along national highways has its extra price and here in Calle Budin and you will save as much as 50 pesos. Budin in layman's term is a cassava cake and it's available all the time. They also have a yema cake where its sweet and salty, look for the Rodilla's brand.

Aside from the usual tikoy, sampaloc and other delicacies, you can also get a dozen of Lucban Longganisa. Then I noticed a pot, out of my curiosity I asked Ate (the vendor) if I may open it, then I saw something wrapped in banana leaves still warm and moist. This delicacy is called Tamales, grounded rice shaped into squares topped with meat (in this case, chicken) and slices of salted egg. Selling price is only P15!

I don't know if it's just me, to be honest, I didn't like much the taste of the grounded rice. But hey, perhaps you might like it, so tell me what you think when you found one of these in your trip.

For approximately an hour, these are the things I have done in Tayabas. I will make sure that the next time I visit the place, I'll go inside the church already. I only photographed the facade of the Basilica same with the "Bahay na Bato". lol

Adding to the list is an important tourist spot in Tayabas and they are the Historical  Stone Arch Bridges. Oh boy, I have to see them next! As listed in the Tayabas' government website there are about eight (8) of them. Wow!
Puente de Malagonlong Source: tayabas.gov.ph
The rest of the stone arch bridges are:
Puente de Bai
Puente de la Ese
Puente del Lakawan
Puente del Malagonlong
Puente de Francisco de Asis
Puente de Isabel II
Puente de Urbiztondo
Puente de la Prinsesa
Alitao Bridge

For just an hour I had fun in Tayabas, it was really fun and rich experience even though it was that short. I hope to visit again Tayabas next time, especially the historical bridges. Until my next #ncdroadtrip!

All photos are taken using a Canon EOS M3 

Monday, February 6, 2017

#NcdFoodTrip: Amici Pazzi Naga

Naga City - Countless restaurants has been opening month after month and it's becoming hard to keep up with them. Some restaurants are not even situated in prime locations that as far as subdivisions and residences turned restaurants is becoming a trend. Space is not even an issue, as many cafes and restaurants now are becoming smaller and more personal.

Good food plus crazy companions can make the best memories as we go through our daily challenges in life. An Italian inspired restaurant opened last year called "Amici Pazzi" at the ground floor of JP II, Bagumbayan primarily catering to students but has been noticeably for all walks of life too. When translated, "Amici Pazzi" means "Crazy Friends".  As a first timer, you might even misread it as Pizza, but it's not and they do not serve pizza, well not yet. I'm really delighted to share about this relatively new place that you can also consider for your food trips with your crazy friends. For those who are not familiar of its location, it's part of the old Bigg's Bagumbayan in between Parochial and USI. On the photo above, Amici Pazzi is literally beside the waiting shade and right infront of 7-Eleven Bagumbayan.

App and about. Amici Pazzi is the very first restaurant using the proudly local made Mobile Order Taker from Nueva Caceres Technology Solutions Inc. delivering new technology when ordering with the use of a mobile application. A fancy way of ordering indeed and it's about time for Naga to have this kind of advancement.

The place is somehow small, so I suggest you visit before the peak hours starts kicking in. An early lunch or dinner isn't a bad idea especially if you get to try Amici' Pazzi's offerings. It's air-conditioned with glass windows all around. We dined during noon time, but I bet the place will have this lovely mood at night. There are also high chairs near the door just in case you are on a solo flight. Just as their tag would say "cozy place for crazy friends" you might end up being friends as well with the staff as they are so nice and very accommodating.

CRAZY AFFORDABLE / REASONABLY PRICED. All of the pastas are priced at P99 which consists of Chicken Alfredo, Creamy Carbonara, Beef Bolognese,  Chicken Pesto, Seafood Pesto, Tuna Gambasetti, Spanish Sardines and Pasta Negra. Rice meals are also at P99 like Porkchop with Rosemary, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Shrimp and Veggies and a rice bowl, Beef Salpicao which is also at P99. Fresh fruit shakes like apple, banana and mango surprisingly costs P49 only! Just wow! 

Given the price, the serving and the taste? I dare not complain. Amici Pazzi has the most affordable pasta there is in Naga without sacrificing the quality of the food. In some other establishment, you'll get the same serving (or even less) with that of Amici but at around P160 or higher.

For take out orders, they charge an additional P5.00, probably it's for the container. They also cater to events and group gatherings too. You may just inquire from them about it.

Top of my list is the Tuna Gambasetti with a hint of chili to spice up things a bit but not too much, topped with tuna flakes, shrimp, bell pepper, spices and Parmesan cheese.

Next would be the Pasta Negra which is an oil-based pasta with chili flakes, chopped parsley and cheese on top. Main ingredient is the squid which gives color to the pasta. Don't get fooled by the chili flakes, it's not that hot anyway. But as for the taste, I would rank it next to the Tuna Gambasetti.  Approve!

 The Creamy Carbonara and Seafood Marinara may both have good serving size but I guess I wasn't that impressed. Though most of the time I would go for an oil-based pasta, the Seafood Marinara seemed like a little bland with a sauce that was quite ordinary. Well that's just me, but hey, don't get me wrong, seafood lovers will still be able to appreciate it for sure. 

For hungry folks, serving can be good for solo, but just look at the plates, it can also be good for sharing.

For rice meals, one of my friends ordered the Chicken Cordon Bleu and again, for P99, it's just way above the average.

Next is the Beef Salpicao, which I loved! Beef was tender and juicy, just look at the colorful bowl below! This rice bowl from Amici Pazzi is definitely worthy to come back for.

Amici's FRESH fruit shakes is definitely the most affordable I've seen around. Loved the apple shake! They also have a Strawberry Frappe (using real strawberry) for only P85 available this month of February.

They also have coffee-based frappes for only P85. Hopefully when we come back I'll be able to try to frappes and see if how they fare from other shops.

For a restaurant this small, I can rate Amici Pazzi with 4 out of 5 stars.

Quoting my friend, "Amici Pazzi serves habit forming delicious pastas and frappes that will make you crazy about coming back. Their offerings are best enjoyed with friends." I always believe that restaurants in Naga has its own uniqueness and Amici's affordability will be hard to beat by the others I must say. 

Thank you very much Dave and the rest of Amici Pazzi Team!
Nice to see a good old friend too, thanks O'neal!
Dave Bercasio, one of the owners of Amici Pazzi posing for Apple of solesearchingsoul.com
Store Hours: 10 AM to 9:00 PM
Location: Corner Bagumbayan Avenue and Ateneo Avenue
Email: amicipazzinaga@gmail.com
Instagram: @pazzieamici
Facebook: Amici Pazzi
Contact No. (054) 205 8620

Friday, February 3, 2017

Rosita Andal of Camarines Norte Welcomed New Year with #SMShoppingSpree worth 100K!

A total of 57 lucky winners of the #SMShoppingSpree promotion welcomed New Year with a big smile! Sometimes we think as if these MasterCard promos have winners? There might be small chances of winning in promos like these, but if the shopping spree is yours then it's yours.

A big surprise came to Josefina Sura from Pasig City (winner of The SM Store Megamall), Ma. Carmela Dela Cruz from Paranaque (winner of The SM Store MOA) and Melody Samudio from Lucena Quezon (winner of The SM Store Aura) as well as Felipa Banda Sanlao from Baguio, Maria Lourdes Fe L. Mallari from San Fernando Pampanga, Yvonne Allones from Bacolod, Orson Sargado from Davao, Rosalla Andal from SM Naga and to the other Shopping Spree winners as they were notified by The SM Store representatives to be one of the lucky winners of The SM Store's Shop Your Way to a Php 100,00000 Shopping Spree with MasterCard promotion.

A joint project between The SM Store and MasterCard, every P3,000 single-receipt purchase using a Philippine-issued MasterCard at The SM Store entitled a cardholder to one electronic raffle entry that gave them a chance to win P100,000 shopping spree at any SM Retail Store!

At our very own SM City Naga the lucky fellow Bicolana, Rosalla Andal enjoyed a great shopping spree in the mall. Indeed it was a great way to start the New  Year!

The #SMSHOPPINGSPREE promotion is one of the many exciting promotions of the SM Store. Watch out for The SM Store's more exciting promos for us shoppers this 2017.

The branch hosted an opening program last January 11 to personally award the winners' card to Rosalla Andal. Rosalla had almost four (4) hours of shopping spree together with her family and relatives.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Valentine Promos in Naga 2017

On this page you will see promos and events for the upcoming Valentine's Day in Naga City. Bookmark this page now for updates!

Directory of Flower Shops in Naga CLICK HERE

Are you ready to #CelebrateLove?
Reserve your table now for an intimate dinner date at Cafe Plazuela,
Avenue Plaza Hotel on February 14, 2017. 

Confirmed reservation made until February 4 gets a special treat! CALL 473 9999 or message Avenue Plaza Hotel on FB now!


Valentines Day is so Close we can taste the Chocolate hearts! Here's another option from Jack's Blue Plate Diner Magsaysay enjoy dressed tables and great food. Choose a package perfectly designed by their chef for two people. Reserve a time and table now! Walk-ins are also welcome. For reservation please call 873-0226.


Love is celebrating "Valentines Day at the Villa".
Indulge yourselves with delectable array of international cuisine and enjoy the music of "The King of Love Songs" MR. ANTHONY CASTELO. 

For ticket information you may reach us at:
09209679652 (Smart)
09175796119 (Globe)
473-3789 (Sales Office Landline)
473-6530 (Front Office Landline)

One-ticket-purchase entitles you to a one time 20% Off on Hotel Accommodation (Executive Suite).

DINE, BE SERENADED AND DANCE on Valentines Day at the Villa.
Source: Villa Caceres Hotel FB


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Leaning Tower of Milaor

Just right beside Naga City, would you believe that it's my first time to visit the Leaning Tower of Milaor? The tower we are talking about is the belfry of the Milaor Church. Even though this church is very near to Naga City, I could not help but realize that sometimes we forego visiting a certain place especially if it's located near the confines of our homes or community. 

Indeed there's more for everyone to see in just every corner of the province. If you want to see a brick-wall church in Camarines Sur, Caramoan will surely ring a bell or perhaps you can count Our Lady of Penafrancia Shrine in Naga City. Now you can add this iconic church with it's own version of Leaning Tower too.

This church is the Saint Joseph the Worker Parish of Milaor.  From the historical marker, it says: "The first Milaor Church in Milaor, Camarines Sur was started in 1725 and completed in 1735. The church was destroyed by fire in 1740. The present church was constructed in 1740 and its belfry in 1840." Below are some photos.

From the national highway, you will actually see the back part of the church.
(all images are reduced in size)

It was December 28, 2016 when I visited the church. Roughly three days after the devastation of Typhoon Nina in Camairnes Sur and the sky was a still gloomy and a little bit gray.

Aside from the leaning tower, is this arch (tunnel like) structure that connects the belfry to the church. I noticed that locals or even PUV's use this area to pass from the national highway to the town proper. This is actually my favorite part rather than the belfry. Hopefully the parish and locals will be able to protect this walkway in the next years to come.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Okuya Sushi Ramen Tempura in Naga City

Naga City - Bicolano and Japanese fusion? At first we might wonder as to how can this be, but the culinary world and passionate chefs can definitely create anything. As a kid, I was never a fan of Japanese food, mainly because my parents doesn't eat much of them too, thus, we were not used to going to Japanese Restaurants or any other similar places. When we hear about Japanes food, sometimes the first thing that comes to our mind is, it's raw. Well, in Okuya, it's not necessarily that way and not necessarily expensive or intimidating as to how this restaurant is marketing the place. 

Okuya is Located at The Piazza together with Bigg's Diner, Starbucks, Gerry's Grill and Soledad Restaurant. Cost of food per person may be around P150 to P200 up with drinks. If you're up for a bento box, they have it for only P99. The dishes that they offer can be summarized into FLAVORFUL and WORTH THE TRY for first timers. If you're allergic to seafoods, carry along with you an antihistamine to enjoy their food. haha

Okuya is has a fastfood-like counter wherein you have to choose your food on the board.

For recommendations, you can ask the staff for their specialties. Below are the ones that we ordered.

We started our dinner with a Kani Salad. A Japanese dish with artificial crab stick, with garnishes of cucumber, cabbage, mayonnaise and fish roe. It's actually the first time I appreciated this kind of salad.
Okuya's signature dish the "Volcano Maki"
(Probably inspired by Bicol's Mayon Volcano because of its shape)

Bicol's best Laing turned into Maki - "Laing Maki". This is one of the best Bicolano-Japanes fusion that you can get here in Bicol.

Tofu with Shitake Mushroom in Oyster Sauce, I definitely loved this dish. I'm a tofu fan!

Another specialty of this restaurant is the Ruben Maki, named after the resident Chef of Okuya. It's one flavorful maki with fried salmon, spicy tingling shrimp wrapped in sushi rice. Discover the secret through the sauce of this maki, it's one of a kind.
Next is the Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. To give you an idea, it tastes like a Takoyaki only that it's flattened.

"Okuya is a fast-service restaurant that serves Japanese Cuisine. It is the first of its kind that has a sushi bar, operates with an extensive sushi menu and a trained Itamae (Sushi Chefs) preparing the freshest ingredients right in front of the customers." From Okuya's FB Page

Well at least for now, I was able to try Okuya. Tempura and Ramen and others would be the next ones for my  next visit. I just realized that Okuya is not as intimidating as we think. Sometimes we can be wrong when we judge restaurants just because of mere photos of their dishes, all you have to do is try them. Visit them at the Piazza now and experience one of the finest restaurants in Naga.

Facebook Page: Okuya - Sushi Ramen Tempura
Location: Magsaysay Avenue corner Dayangdang Street
Naga City
Store Hours: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
Contact No.: (054) 884 9450