Friday, May 15, 2015

CHASING GUIMARAS

But before that and all the mangoes in the world is a sweet corner in La Paz where great coffee is brewed and served with pansit, plus that batchoyan where Chef Iking Legazpi learned his craft, and a sampling of what is said to be perhaps some of the greatest brazos de mercedes ever made.



Madge Cafe has lived to its hype although I found its non-coffee menu wanting, especially the anemic pansit, while Deco's should be proud of mentoring Mang Iking who, after sampling a Deco bowl that tasted a lot like Ted's, is definitely assured of having the tastiest batchoy, although I found nothing spectacular with the La Paz Bakeshop's uber-sweet version of the brazos that was consumed with great effort in the shadows of the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje.



And finally Guimaras and its welcoming giant fake mango that preluded our most expensive tricycle hire ever at P1,500 for a day, plain thievery at first but eventually justified as we chased the rolling roads to the colonial Church of San Isidro Labrador in Navalas, Buenavista where we stumbled into a preparation for a wedding and a fiesta, and more rolling rugged roads that took us to the elegant but hauntingly forlorn and empty Roca Encantada colonial beach house of Iloilo's richest name.





Then the long trip back to Jordan and its spread of a million fair and traded mangoes --- real and sweet at P70 for all you can eat, sliced and shaken and strawed with The Pitstop Restaurant's take on the mango pizza whose toppings will pass but its flaky crust a massive failure, and spiked into the adobo and refreshing tinola of one of the stalls although it was a basin of steamed mango-less oysters that blew the wife's gastronomic heart away.




More roads afterwards, bumpier and steeper, to the Spanish-era Guisi Lighthouse in Nueva Valencia or what remained of it and the ruins that has the potential of Talisay's Lacson Mansion and a decadent restaurant, then back to that bumpier and steeper road to Sitio Alubijod's white sand beach to satisfy our curiosity where we decided to cool our heels with halo-halo [for the three of us] and another mango shake [for Balong] since it is the hottest hour of the afternoon after all. 




We decided we've had enough of chasing Guimaras' roads in a tricycle so we skipped the rest of the day tour, had a brief pit stop at the Trappist Monastery to gawk at its pricey goods, passed by what was once was the world's smallest plaza, and into the wharf where we paid the tricycle driver and took the boat back to iloilo City.

The sad part is we were too tired to explore for dinner so we ended at Robinson's and made do with left-over KBL [kadyos, baboy, langka], reheated sisig, and nuked grilled bangus...   

Thursday, May 14, 2015

EATING BACOLOD

We came, we ate, and ate.

That is well illustrated by Balong as he cleaned his piece of authentic chicken inasal [native chicken] at Bacolod City's iconic Manokan Country.



Bacolod City is an accidental trip, a sudden U-turn to help kill the two days before our scheduled flight back to Manila, and pillared on its culinary landmarks of inasal, pala-pala, and the rising star that is the Calea Pastry Shop.

It was also my chance, long anticipated, to finally update my beginner's portfolio of the San Sebastian Cathedral, the Negros Library, and the American-era provincial capitol which with that pala-pala experience of a long time ago are the only photographs I have of the City of Smiles.  




But really, what we need is to get hungry and get hungry fast for that pala-pala lunch and a brisk stroll in the capitol grounds is not enough for that.

Nearby Talisay City beckoned so we took off for its Spanish-era Church of St. Teresa de Avila, old and empty, and the now famous ruins of the Lacson Mansion where we were entertained by James who regaled us with funny anecdotes about the girl with the huge ribbon who inherited the house, the doctor that took four days to come, and many more worthy of a stand-up comedian more than a guide.




But we came for the pala-pala so we went to Ading's despite being still half full of the inasal from breakfast and closed my eyes to the exorbitant prices as the wife ordered a half kilo each of tinolang ulo ng maya-maya, grilled scallops and blue marlin, and chilli crab, so much [or are half full?] that we took the left-over back to Iloilo City for dinner, my wallet protesting such gastronomic thievery [the price not the food], but happy with the image of Bulan sucking every bit of meat from a piece of crab. 



Dessert is still to come and there must be space for that to happen, so we thought pretending to shop at Bongbong's would help, which we did, and ended with a box of piaya and napoleones and biscocho.


And finally Calea where the cheesecakes lined up in a striptease dance, seducing stiff stomachs to starvation, and we voluntarily succumbing to an alibi that a cup of coffee is best paired with a slice of mud pie, a blue berry cheesecake maybe, and another cheesecake for the road.


I farted all the way from Bacolod to Iloilo, maybe 5 kilos of discreet fart, and the ferry passengers must have been peeved trying to figure out who the farter was, except for the wife who is quite familiar with that unctuous smell, and Bulan and Balong who never cared because they slept the whole of the trip.


Bacolod is just another Visayan city with not much to see actually.

But like the rest of them, it was a great eat...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

TWO DAYS IN MIAG-AO

We came to have Bulan enrolled.

We came with his admission letter, medical folder, several 2x2 ID pictures in case these are needed, and a 5-day reservation at the Circle Inn Hotel and Suites in Iloilo City in case the 4-day medical-dental and enrollment procedure stretches to full schedule.

It was supposed to be easy until Bulan's urinalysis from Nueva Ecija turned doubtful so the doctor prescribed a retest, with the same result, which sent us in a frantic search for a specialist who can examine Bulan and issue a medical clearance.

We were referred to one in Miag-ao and while waiting for her, I toured Pugad Baboy around the magnificence of the Miag-ao Church so rightfully declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



I climbed the towers too with Balong and encountered the bats and smelled their shit and saw empty bottles of liquor stacked on the wall, the combined power of which assaulted my senses and reminded me that it is past lunch time, so I called Pugad Baboy and told them about this great batchoyan in Miag-ao I read from blogosphere, that we have to walk to find the place but then decided to take the red tricycle instead and ask for Mang Iking as instructed by a friendly bystander, which we found to be a most unassuming place more fit for a pansit-kanin carinderia that what it is famous, until the batchoy came and made me cry.  





It was indeed a superb bowl of batchoy and the best-est I've had so far, prepared by a chef in shorts and kamiseta who turned out to be Senor Boni Legazpi's brother who sent him to Letran and have him cremated when he died so he can finally come home to Miag-ao.

Back at the specialist's clinic, our circumstances got us No. 1 in the queue and the specialist warmed when she learned that Bulan will actually be a classmate of her daughter, that we know her friend from Cabanatuan, and many more pleasantries until we realized that there is still a long line waiting outside and we need to submit the medical clearance before the offices close at 5 pm.

At the end of the day, Bulan got issued his medical certificate with barely enough time for submission to the registrar who finally gave him his admission slip, which made me so happy I decided to treat Pugad Baboy to the famous Rawit's Native Lechon Manok at the Iloilo City Central Market which we however could not locate so we ended with halo-halo for dinner at Roberto's instead.



That was Day 1 in Miag-ao and it was not bad.

The next day, we took the yellow Ceres bus since it has fewer stops than yesterday's elongated PUJ, with the objective of course of getting ahead of the enrollment line to which we miserably failed since we arrived to what is already a long line with the enrollment starting an hour late, plus another hour of wait for the department's signatory to show up, and then a distraction from a 40 percent tuition discount which we got to know only at that time, but still somehow managed to beat the lunch break and finally have Bulan enrolled at 12 noon.

It was actually only 1.5 days in Miag-ao because after lunching at the Student Union Building, I thought it was too hot for a visita iglesia to San Joaquin, Guimbal, and Tigbauan so we went back to Iloilo City to kill the afternoon, to the Jaro Cathedral and its masculine saints, and to getting lost in our walking tour of Casa Marikit and the Lizares Mansion.







We did found Casa Mariquit after two wrong instructions that led to two wrong turns and there, the student interns tried to awe us with the hazy shadows in background of VP Fernando Lopez's old photograph, the usual secret tunnel to the cathedral, the holes in the walls and the floors where the Lopezes hid their money and jewelry, the pink mansion built by the gay son, and the servants who were not allowed to get inside the house.



Bulan got enrolled 2.5 days ahead of time, we were all happy, so I treated Pugad Baboy to a real Ilonggo dinner after the siopao of Day 1 and halo-halo of Day 2, at iconic Tatoy's where the world changed into Andy Warhol colors as we munched on grilled fish, ceviche, baked oysters, and two whole grilled manok bisaya washed down with a coconut each.



Our flight back to Manila is still two days away so how do we kill 48 hours in Iloilo?

That's when the aroma of cooking inasal wafted from the other side of the sea...