• 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

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Sunflowers bloom in Naga's flower farms in Pacol


Naga City - Flower farms in Pacol is not a new sight in our city. It has been providing livelihood for our farmers in the upland and mid-upland barangays of Naga for quite some time. When Pacol was noted to be Naga's Little Baguio about three years ago based on a national newspaper, sunflowers were already part of the farm. Early this year, the hype for sunflowers grew online that many wanted to visit and thought that it's something new. Many wanted to have their photos taken with a backdrop of bed of flowers or sunflowers to be specific. Here in Bicol, Ligao, Albay has been known to have a sunflower farm already. At least now, Naga has a share of this industry after Ligao, Baguio and Pangasinan having the new sunflower maze. 




Last Saturday, finally I was able to drop by at the flower farm in Pacol together with my friend. In my mind, my only purpose was to go to Casa Ofelia to check on my students who were having their excursion. So the flower farm plus Haciendas de Naga (which I will still blog about next) was just a spur of the moment idea while driving back to centro. 



Location: Pacol KM 7. Tell the jeepney driver to drop you off at the Pacol II Pumping Station. Fronting the station, on the left, there's a small pathway (eskenita) going to the backyard / farm just a few meters away from the main highway.





Just a heads up, the flower farm is actually a PRIVATE PROPERTY, so please have the courtesy to ask for permission when you go there. There are NO ENTRANCE FEES but it would be nice if you will buy flowers from the farmers, it will be rude to disturb them just for the sake of photo opps. Let's help our upland farmers in their livelihood, shall we?

The sunflowers in Pacol are generally not that tall like the one's we see in Baguio or any other places. Earlier in February, when the mini sunflower farm became viral, I had to stick to my rule that I will never share it online not unless I have personally visited the place. Notice that the first batch of sunflowers (photo below) has obviously given so many happy sunny flowers to many that even to lower part of the plant is dark already. There are two new blocks of sunflowers waiting for it to finally produce flowers in a few weeks time. 

  
I also learned that it takes around 3 months for sunflowers to produce flowers. It takes a while but it surely is a happy sight. The farm was also devastated last December by Typhoon Nina, thankfully they are now back on track. Have a little conversation with the farmers while personally cutting the flowers you have chosen. It's really a very nice experience personally cutting the flowers from the plant itself.




  The flower farm in Pacol produces year round flowers in time for many occasions such as Undas, Valentine's Day and even Holy Week. When we went there, Malaysian mums and the golden yellow flowers were already in bloom. Check out the photos below. 

The sunflowers may not be that big, but it will give you the sunny happy feeling once you have them on your vase inside your homes or offices. Each sunflowers costs P20.00

I bought 5 sunflowers from Manay Adora and brought them home, you can also contact her for orders at 0909-988-5307

Don't forget to share your experience and photos on the comments section or on our Facebook Page

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bingsu, now available at White Bean Cafe


Naga City - Summer is here! Is someone still "Bingsu-cold" to you? I think it's about time that I share to you this new "foreign" dessert now available at White Bean Cafe called the Bingsu which I tried last February. Bingsu is a Korean dessert usually of shaved ice, milk, syrups, fruits, and other ingredients which is appetizing to look at and will give you the chills. For White Bean they preferred to market the Bingsu having the shaved ice as "snowflaked ice / snow ice", because their ice has this very fine texture, so yes it can be likened to snow.



When I first heard that White Bean is now offering this dessert, the first question that came to my mind is that how will it be at par with the "Kakigori" of Iro Iro. Again it's a foreign dessert only that this time the Kakigori is a Japanese version of the Bingsu. Actually if you are a foodie you can add up to the list, the shaved ice dessert version of Hawaii too or even the sherbet of Daet.  

The Bingsu offered by White Bean has a finer ice than that of the Kakigori of Iro Iro. Which reminds me, Korean Kaz Cafe in Ayala Malls Legazpi also offers Bingsu, so add that to your foodtrip list when you travel to Albay. 

White Bean offers three flavors of Bingsu namely mango, oreo, strawberry (new) and injeolmi which is the Korean word for soy for a price of P160. I tried the Injeolmi for a change. 

First impressions. Serving Size with the Price . I had high expectations on this dessert when I first heard about it. Probably if White Bean was the first one to offer the shaved ice dessert in Naga, I can say that the P160 is worth it. Since there's already one shaved ice dessert in the market, my tendency is to compare the Bingsu to the Kakigori of Iro Iro. Back in September 2016 the Kakigori of Iro Iro is priced at P130 and the serving size is actually good for sharing (click HERE for reference). While the Bingsu (as shown below) of White Bean, the serving size seemed a little small and I was able to consume it on my own. While it might not be right to compare the shaved ice of the two desserts, still they will boil down to the same category in my opinion, shaved ice dessert. While cashew nuts are expensive, then I can say that P160 is justifiable, but for the mango and cookie flavor, I think it's not worth it.


Taste . I liked the Injeolmi, since I'm a fan of the "not the usual" flavors, I loved how the flavors complemented with each other including the cashew nuts. I have high tolerance for sweetness, I guess the condensed milk was not enough for me when it was mixed with the ice. I did not ask for an extra serving though, so I'm not sure if there will be an extra charge for that. I still have to try the Mango and Oreo flavor some other time. I almost forgot, don't expect too many cashew nuts, it's always different when you see it in menus, any restaurant for that matter.


We also ordered this delicious sandwich for our snack



Hope to try the other flavor soon! Share us your thoughts about these Bingsu's offered by White Bean Cafe. How about you guys? How did you find the Bingsu of White Bean Cafe?

White Bean Cafe
Ground Floor of Nagaland Hotel
Elias Angeles St. Naga City
Contact No. (054) 473 2111

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Be bold and beautiful! SM Woman Naga brings that latest styling tips to Bicolanas



SM WOMAN Naga brings to Bicolanas a free Summer Styling Event held last March 22, 2017 at the ground floor of The SM Store of SM City Naga. Levenson Rodriguez, a clothier partner and an educator  at the Institute of Creative Entrepreneurship Partner in House Manila, Creatur-in-chief of Fashion Designers Alliance Manila has brought the freshest summer styling tips that are also given to the stars. 


There were three batches of ladies who personally received tips and advises as to what are the available options that SM Woman has for every woman. Also shared, were confidence tips to further boost the self-esteem of the ladies who joined the event. True to the hashtag #FashionforEveryWoman, SM Woman has a variety of collection from the botanicals which houses the flowery and nature designs, the nauticals which come in stripes or lines, romantics which covers the beachwear or resort wear, the corporate attires, the go to wears and all the other accessories that we can mix and match for the outfits.   


The ladies were challenged to step out of their comfort zone to try something new. Summer is not only for the skinny and sexy bodies, SM aims to show the true form of women covering all figures when it comes to fashion. "Sexyness" is now beyond the figures, the styling event has definitely gave the audience the view women who should become bold and beautiful in their own little ways with the right outfit but without overdoing it. 


So for this summer, my dear fellow Nagueñas, try something new and I think in my own little way too I was able to challenge myself last February. It was my first time to buy a crop top summer wear from Coco Cabana and thankfully I was able to overcome that shyness little by little when I wore it at Stonehouse Gardens Resort. haha Remember that it's all in the mind guys! Comfort comes after the struggle during the first time you wore something new, we just have to overcome them, plus a little affirmation from our friends and family which can always do the trick in boosting our self-confidence. 




The new SM Woman delivers a new look for the modern woman and the everyday woman. 


Have you seen the collection already? Head on to the SM Store and have your outfits ready for your summer travels! 
  
For style updates, follow SM Woman at :
IG: @smwoman
Twitter: @_SMWoman
@gtwbysm

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Calaguas Islands Escapade 101


Photo by Junie Orante



6 Expectations When You Travel to Calaguas this Summer
by Jo DLT

Vinzons - Calaguas is sure to be a dream destination not only for Bicolanos but also for travel junkies out there. Tourists will try to get a piece of this paradise, at least for once in their life thus making it crowded every summer. Now here are the things that you should expect if you are traveling to Calaguas.

Just to get ahead of you, I am not discouraging you to visit Calaguas, I'm just giving you a heads up on what to expect on this island (seriously) for you are sharing this piece of paradise with hundreds of tourists.


The crowd during peak season, this was taken April 09, 2016 to be precise. Imagine that each boat can carry around at least 20 people. 

1. Expect a crowded beach front in Mahabang Bughanin.  I experienced Calaguas only just last year and I envy those who visited the island like a castaway style. Back then you'll hear stories that you have to pitch a tent, gaze under the stars in the dark, enjoy the powdery sand and turquoise waters all by yourself or even go skinny dipping. By this time it's totally different. Most of the resorts run in genset and utilizes it from 5:00 pm -05: 00 am (you'll still have enough time to charge your gadgets). I can foresee that some may even use it during daytime in the future. The crowd could literally mean (annoying) people and at the same time the boats docked on the shore. As if it is always Easter Sunday every weekend in Calaguas. You may find it difficult to swim freely with the boats all over. Videoke machines playing altogether, plus party beats at night with flashing lights throughout. Drunk men and women at night that you may accidentally bump into and find them sleeping on the shore (not that many, but for sure you'll see a few). Before there were less cabanas and human-made structures. So it's a fact that the noise which comes in light, sound and visual exists during the day time and night time. If you happen to wake up at around 4:00 am (which I did), believe me, you'll still hear music beats. These types of noise will try to steal the serenity you wished you had throughout your stay. Here's another option,  if your schedule permits, visit Calaguas on a weekday.

2. Expect a long queue in comfort rooms and shower rooms. Now this is where your extra budget can be useful if you do not want any hassle during your stay. If you are on a limited budget, then comfort rooms and shower rooms is a waiting game. Other resorts has no faucets but has deep-well pumps instead. So flex your muscles and pump for your shower. There may be a limited supply of water in worse cases.

3. Expect trash (anywhere). Reality check, not everyone is a responsible traveler. Others feel that they have the right to litter just because they paid a certain amount. Please do not be like them. Calaguas is a very beautiful island and leaving our trash is something that we should not even consider.

Click HERE for my #iTravelResponsibly tips that you can consider on your next trip. 

Tip: When you walk up the hill for sunrise / sunset viewing, you may want to pick up along the shorea nd / or trail some garbage on your way up. Me and my friends did it early in the morning for our sunrise watching. It actually felt good letting people notice you pick up their trash. Talk about sarcasm and only then can they feel guilty.


4. Photobombers come in two forms, people and boats. If you want a picture with fewer people on the shore or on the hills, go out  during high-noon. BUT, if there is still a large number of people, expect that your pictures will include the photobombers in it.

5. Calaguas do not need any filter on your photos. Calaguas is very mesmerizing. You can look at your surroundings all day and every moment will give you a different hue as time passes by. So as much as possible, do not use any filter when taking pictures. Let the natural beauty of Calaguas redeem itself in the eyes of many. Oh and make sure you have enough space on your smartphone or bring enough memory cards if you must, for you just can't get enough of the view day in and day out.

6. If there is one thing that did not change in Calaguas, it is the " no signal from any telecom networks." Although you can get a chance to exchange text messages just to let your family or friends to safely arrived in Calaguas, then it is quite possible when you walk up the hill for your sunrise / sunset watching. It is time to be disconnected from the online world once in a while, trust me, we all need them.

Despite all these factors, all you have to do is learn the art of eliminating annoying things that you see in your view and let them pass through. During my almost two-day stay in Calaguas, I just cannot stop saying how beautiful Calaguas is, literally, for countless times.




Tourists go to the beaches and islands during the summer simply because there is no or less weather disturbance. If you are trying to avoid the large number of tourists, then consider an off peak travel to Calaguas but then you are in for a roller coaster ride with the waves adding a little rain and wind in other cases. If you can brave those elements, then be my guest.

The lean months of Calaguas may actually give time for the island to breath. This is the advantage of Calaguas over Boracay. Boracay is a year-round tourist destination that does not have any downtime for the island just to refresh itself. 

How to Get to Calaguas Island? There's actually two jump off points via Paracale or Vinzons Port.

Public Transportation: From Manila to Bicol
  • From Cubao or Pasay ride any bus line going to Daet commonly DLTB, Superlines, Amihan Philtranco. Travel time is around 8 hours. There are buses such as Superlines which travels directly to PARACALE which can be your jump off to Calaguas.
  • If your bus is bound to Daet, take a van going PARACALE (travel time is 1 to 2 hours)
  • From paracale, hire a chartered boat going Calagaus. Travel time is around two hours
  • If you opt to take Vinzons, from Daet, rent a tricycle to Vinzons Port, travel time is approximately 30 minutes. 
  • From Vinzons Port to Calaguas, boat takes around 2-3 hours travel time.
  • Now if you took the plane from Manila to Naga, take the first trip by van (Fare approx P190) to Daet (terminal is located next to Mall LCC Naga), then move to another van going Paracale or tricycle  to Vinzons. 
Now jump off point which is better? It depends on you, would you prefer the long journey by road or by sea? Personally I choose the route PARACALE going to Calaguas. This means shorter time to travel by sea.

We booked our travel package to Calaguas from  I Love Calaguas Island Resort (Facebook page HERE ). Since we are around 15 in the group, we paid around P2200 per person for an overnight stay along with food, accommodadtion, environmental fee and boat transfers.

To give you a bigger picture, the long stretch of Mahabang Buhangin is composed of numerous resorts. Waling Waling Eco Village is the most luxurious accommodation there is in Calaguas, then I Love Calaguas Island (for me) is next to that. Waling Waling offers around P3500 per pax good for 4 people in a cabana for a 2 day 1 night stay, for 3 days 2 nights stay it costs around P5500 per pax good for 4 people. At the other end of the Mahabang Buhangin are the resorts offering lower rate packages. Of course, the premise is always to pay for the convenience that we want. 

 Our open cabana that can actually accommodate around 6 to 7 persons. There were two added two added tents provided for us too.

There is also a closed cabana if you value your privacy at an added cost. 
 




Mahabang Buhgangin from afar. This rocky part of the island is close to Waling Waling resort. 

There are two trails going up the hill, this one has trees all around along the trail and the other one is an open area on the other side which could be your exit point. There is an entrance fee of P20 on the hill. During our walk, we did not bring any cash with us, so we told the kids to visit us at the resort for the payment. Guess what, they did not mind following us back.

sunrise

sunset


Illusion that it looks like a pool! But it is not a pool!

Oh btw, there's buco salad flavored "ice candy" being sold at P20.00 per piece. Yup, this is your most expensive ice candy ever hehe.

Other activities that you can actually do if it is part of the package is go on snorkeling on the island just right across Mahabang Buhangin. It's actually a barren hill with little or few trees where you can also hike and have a clear view Calaguas.



snorkeling site
Photo by Junie Orante
Photo by Junie Orante


Towards the end of the luxurious Waling Waling Resort is a rocky part of the island where you can explore. On the other side is actually a privately owned.

This part is really a private property. I'm just not sure if this area is now developed this year.
I hope not.

If you are traveling to Calaguas this year, you may want to update us on the current status of the island, but one thing is for sure, it is still damn beautiful than ever.