Pangulasian, El Nido

I have written plenty of times before, Palawan is really my most favourite place in the Philippines. There are no words for me to describe this place, and if you are ever looking for a small resort here and you don’t have a small budget, Pangulasian is the place you are looking for, this is of course based only on my experience and my stay here.

We’ve stayed at Miniloc island once and visited Lagen resort in El Nido, but this resort was the cherry on top of an ice cream cake. Pangulasian, listed as one of the best small luxury hotels in the world, is a place where the Prince of Monaco and Bill Gates was said to stay in last April 2016. It is the perfect escape to all of our busy lives. We did the usual big and small lagoons tour and swam with the sharks and turtles by the island. You don’t even need to leave the island to enjoy the beauty of Palawan. Pangulasian, shows the beauty of the Philippines in all of its good nature.

If you are ever in the Philippines, Palawan should definitely be top on your list of places to visit. Coron, El Nido, Balabac, Linapacan, some suggested places you could search about Palawan. The silence might be deafening at first, and this place is really nice if you have someone to share it with.

❤ TheBackpackingBallerina

Kitchenails, Trinoma

Its about time that Trinoma had their own nail spa! Kitchen Nails, a new kind of concept and nail spa just opened today. So if you have any plans of coming to  Trinoma anytime soon, this is a great place to relax from the traffic or after work with friends or just by yourself.

 The idea came from the owner of the shop. She is the owner of Laybare waxing salon, the Nail It salon and some well known restaurants which i will not mention. She loves the concept of food and nail salons so she came up with the idea of combining both concepts, hence Kitchen Nails!

While doing your nails and “baking” your hands. They offer pastries and drinks. Their utensils are mostly baking utensils! So its really an interesting mix of concepts baked into one. Today we were able to avail of their Chef Specials. You can choose between a Single serve, Entree and a Chef Special. Most of their scrubs are organic and their manicure is free except if you will avail of the special ones then thats an extra Php 60.


Their prices are fairly reasonable, i’ll include the picture of the price list under this. The service we availed today was a manicure and hand spa, I availed of the Very berry muffin and this came with free basic color polish.

In case of reservations, they still do not have a contact number however you may contact them through social media. Enjoy getting baked!

Club Paradise, Coron Palawan

The first time I went to Palawan was about 15 years ago with my parents when we stayed at the Dos Palmas resort in Puerto Princessa. Up to this day, i still love Palawan and it is one of my most favourite destinations here in the Philippines. Club paradise in Coron, Palawan was my second trip to Palawan and I still think of it as one of the most beautiful destinations in the Philippines. Not that I’ve gone to a lot of places around here but looking at Palawan just gives you that feeling that you were brought to another world. Away from the city and away from all kinds of technology and stress.

What i know about Coron is that it has two sides. This side where club paradise is and the other side where the town proper is. I only recently discovered the part where the town proper was when we stayed around the town and went island hopping for a whole week. But this is not the post for that side of town (you could view the town proper post here: Coron Palawan, Philippines) in this post i want to share to you my experience in the other side on a far away island in the middle of the ocean.


The front view of Club Paradise


The view from our villa

Club Paradise is a resort in the middle of the ocean, it takes about an hour drive going to the boat and another hour to get to the island by boat. From there you will be brought to one of the clearest waters and sand so fine that it  would melt under your toes.

Going to club paradise won’t be a budgeted trip, normally what backpackers would do is to stay in the island proper and go island hopping into the many different islands and snorkelling into the deep blue sea. What i liked however about this side of Coron was that it was quiet and no one was around. As compared to the other side where you will encounter plenty of different locals, going island hopping on this side you will not see one person on every island. Except on the Calauit Safari island where you will see people taking care of the Zebras and Giraffes.


First island, the elephant island


Beautiful rock formations and a cave that you could go into


Feeding Mozart the giraffe


it was my first time to see a giraffe

I loved this side of Coron mostly because it was more quiet and relaxing. You could sleep on the sands of Club Paradise and get a tan, no one would bother you. Also the view from each villa would be beautiful to wake up to. Not much activities as compared to the other side of Coron where you could experience Kayangan lake, Maquinit Hot springs and speak with many locals on the island but more secluded nonetheless as compared to the side with the town proper. I guess if you have the time you could visit both sides so you could experience the difference of the environments on each side.

I will never forget my times in Palawan and how Coron has brought me closer to a lot of my friends and family. Palawan will still always be my favourite destination here in the Philippines and I thank my dad for introducing me to this beautiful island. Looking now into a 6th trip back to the heavenly white sands and the giant pawikan turtles.

The Clean Plate, UP Town center

Thankfully UP town was open today even if it was holy week here in Manila. The Clean Plate had been on the list of my “want to try” restaurants for a few months already, but with my exams happening I couldn’t squeeze a lunch break for this blog entry. Finally today I got to try this!


Inside where you could buy organic goods and other cute plates and things

Clean Plates displayed on a wall

The exterior of the restaurant was very fresh, there was fake grass on the ground under the cute yellow chairs and brown tables. Inside was a cute shop filled with many plates and organic bottles of things you could buy and the continuation of their restaurant. Because it is always so unusually hot every holy week here in Manila, we opted to eat inside rather than outside.

Their menu had about 7 plates average per section, and it was easy to pick what to eat. We tried the Wonton Chorizo Taquitos Php 240, Rustic Grilled Cheese Php 220, Ratatouille Pizza Plate for Php 303 and the Panna Cotta Sweet Plate for Php 100. I just found it odd that they used different designs of plates per dish they served and we all had different cup sizes. I wonder what kind of theme they were going for with the place? But I guess the owner really wanted to feature all the pretty plates that they had, hence the wall with all their plates and the name “the clean plate”.


Wonton Chorizo Taquitos Php 240. I loved the Wonton and the Chorizo, this was pretty good considering that it was just Wonton, Chorizo, Tomatoes and cheese. (Free Range Naked Chorizo, Salsa Fresca and Bacolod Caciocavallo)


Ratatouille Pizza Plate for Php 303, I liked this because of the many mushrooms and eggplants it had. However the lady told me that this was for single serving and I couldn’t finish the whole thing.


Panna Cotta Php 100. I loved the taste of the panna cotta mixed with the honey and grapes. I never really tasted panna cotta with grapes, a plus for the flavor because it was made of goats milk

I wanted to try a lot of other things such as the main plates the Black Rice Valenciana, Bacon Lechon Kawali, Honey Belly Roast and the Twist Kebab. They had a lot of things on their menu which were not necessarily healthy but definitely sounded very good. On their menu it said that their beef, pork and chickens were mostly free-range or grass fed. Its definitely a place I would like to come back to despite the disappointing Rustic Grilled Cheese which looked like a pandesal which you inserted bega flat cheese into.

The Clean Plate

Facebook: The Clean Plate
UP Town Center, 2nd floor

Side trips from Manila: Mt. Manabu day hike

Cheapest adventure yet. A very cool side trip from Manila, for people who love to hike. We left Manila at around 5am on a Sunday and arrived Lipa at 7am. We could have gotten there earlier except we stopped over first to eat breakfast at a gas station. I never knew how clear and nice the roads were around the South. It was my first long drive out of town, and it was easier than driving around Manila. I wish that all our highways would someday look like this.


Clean highway with no potholes or holes.

We spent a total of about Php500  each. The skyway from Magallanes only cost around Php 200. Php 25 for the first tollgate and Php 39 for the next tollgate. Of course rates would depend from where you are coming from. The hike only cost Php 20 for the registration fee and then another 40 for the tricycle ride going there. Although I think i should have brought the car up to the jump off point because there are parking spaces around there. It cost us Php 48 for two guides going up the mountain. It was easier for us to split costs because we were a group of 23.


Houses you’d pass by while climbing up the mountain.


The jump off point with all the dirty broken shoes left behind by past hikers.

There is not much to see while you are hiking up the mountain as compared to the other mountains I have climbed before. Here you would see a lot of vegetation and you would pass and stop by a lot of houses where they would serve you free coffee or some buko juice. They were also selling suman at one house. It took us almost 2 hours to climb up to the summit. We ate lunch up there and shared some food.


A mix of rice, bacon, tuna afritata and some vienna sausage.


The foggy view of Manila behind us.


Our group of 23 or so and a few new friends at the Summit.

Our climb would have been quicker if not for the long stopovers and some delays along the way. This could even have been just a half day event if you just suddenly feel the urge to take a hike somewhere. Traveling with a big group comes with its ups and downs, but when it comes to splitting costs this is the perfect solution to a budget climb.

Banaue-Sagada, Cordillera Region

I cannot say much about Sagada except that it was really too much for me to intake in just 3 days. I think that I need more time for the experience to actually sink into me. We stayed here for 2 nights and 3 days. The first day was for traveling here, we left Manila at 10pm and arrived Banaue passing the back way and not from Baguio at around 7am where we had our breakfast. From Banaue we had to drive all the way to Sagada which took us around another 2-3 hours. We got there at around 10am where we first took a long rest and had our lunch. We stayed at Hidden hill, which costs about Php 300 per head a night. Very quaint and hidden, it was a really nice place to stay in.

The viewpoint of Banaue Rice terraces. There are so much of the terraces all over the place so you could practically call everything Banaue Rice terraces.

The viewpoint of Banaue Rice terraces. There are so much of the terraces all over the place so you could practically call everything Banaue Rice terraces.


Hiking up to Bomod-ok falls. It takes about 2 hours going there and another 2 hours coming back. Don’t forget to should when you’re at the echo valley.

Day 01: Banue Rice terraces and Sagada, Bomod-Ok falls

We were advised to go to the Bomod-ok falls first today instead of the cave connection because apparently it was a “holiday” the next day and they said that we would not be able to visit the Bomod-ok falls because they would be resting.


The Fedelisan people believe that the water here has healing powers. So if you want to try, you may swim in the falls. It is very cold though so be careful. Also the rocks are very slippery.

Going to the Bomod-ok falls takes about a 2 hour hike up and down the terraces. It was a lot of fun talking to our guide about the culture down here. They are mostly Christians but they also follow their own traditions down here. Each person has their own Christian name and Native name. We learned a lot about how each family has a part in the terraces as a source of livelihood and how they use some of the grass as fertilizers. The view was breathtaking and the trek was long but worth it. It was also another 2 hour hike to go back up another route which was a bit easier since it was less steeper.

Day 02: Cave connection from Sumaguing to Lumiang cave then we spent the afternoon in Ganduyan Museum, Pottery house and hike around Echo Valley to the Hanging Coffins.

Cave connection is optional. You may opt not to take the route from inside the cave of Sumaguing to Lumiang, but I would recommend this because it was so much funner!

Cave connection/ Spelunking is optional. You may opt not to take the route from inside the cave of Sumaguing to Lumiang, but I would recommend this because it was so much funner! Php 300 per head.

This was the most tiring day ever! I was falling asleep between the trips because I was so tired from spelunking in the cave connection. You can opt to do the cave connection or not, but I would encourage you to try it because it was such a memorable experience! You wouldn’t believe how beautiful it was inside that cave. Don’t worry if you’re not so experienced. There are a lot of guides to help you go around the cave. I would suggest that you go here in small groups so that you do not take much time. Also bring slippers to go around the cave because sandals could cause you to slip easily. It took us about 4 hours inside the cave and we were exhausted when we got out.


The lady guided me in making the pot. It was really difficult even if she made it look so easy.


This is my finished product! I encourage you all to try it out. Php 100 per person

After lunch we headed to Echo valley which was another hike to the hanging coffins. Really interesting tradition of the Fedelisan tribe here. After another long hike we headed to Ganduyan Museum, and I was already dozing off. Ganduyan was the original name of Sagada but due to a misunderstanding with the Americans the place was called Sagada. The museum is really one to visit and I would encourage that you ask them to guide you around. The owner of the museum takes care of this place very well and it gave me a good look into their traditions. Then we headed to the Pottery house where I made my first ever pot. It was pretty difficult and the lady in the pottery house kept on scolding me (haha). It was so much fun! I wish that I had more time here because it really was a lot of fun. Php 100 per person to try the pottery making.


Trying to catch the Sunrise from kiteplan tower at 5am.

Day 03: Sunrise at Kiteplan tower, leaving Sagada passing by the route to Baguio and the Highest point of the highway.

We woke up at 430am just to watch the sunrise on Kiteplan tower. Although today Mr. Sun didn’t show up we did get good pictures. How I wished that I was on top of Mt. Pulag at that time. It was a sea of clouds and It was really cold to be up there at 5am. After watching the sunrise we left Sagada for Baguio. On the way there we stopped over at the highest point of the highway for a bathroom stop and to stretch our legs. Then we passed by La Trinidad strawberry plantation before heading home.


This way going home is actually longer than the back way but it was part of the tour to be passing by this way so we did.

We spent a total of Php 6000 each including accommodations, food, transportation and the tours. We booked the hotel and the itinerary with Parana tours. It cost us about 3800 to book with them which included the individual rooms and the van transpo with the tour guide and most of the tours. The rest of the 2200 pesos was for the food, the cave connection Php 400 each but Php 300 if you do not book this with the agency and pasalubong shopping. It wasn’t so bad for a first try and I would love to come back to explore some more of Banaue and Sagada. There are just so much things to do here and I really didn’t expect to have that much fun. My next trip might be to Ilocos but since I don’t want to ride a van anymore I plan to just take a plane going here. It’s just too much of a hassle to be sitting around in a van for 12 whole hours.


Strawberry Yoghurt from the Strawberry Cafe. I will come back to eat more of their food!

For the places that I ate in Sagada check out my post on Exploring the food in Sagada, Cordillera Region. Pagyaman! Fedelisan tribe.

Exploring bits of the oldest Chinatown in the world, Binondo Manila

SONY DSCMy mom used to always bring me here when I was still very little and my dad worked at the big bank in front of the fountain in Carriedo. This Chinatown in Binondo is known the oldest Chinatown in the world, established in 1594 during the Spanish colonial period. Everytime I come here it feels like a fusion of the Chinese and the Philippine community. I used to come here every week during my breaks in La Salle. I’d take a train to Carriedo and walk around Binondo street or a jeepney to Divisoria where I would buy things that I could sell to my classmates. They have everything you need here in Binondo and everything is just so cheap that sometimes you’ll wonder if what they’re doing is illegal.

So I went here to look around to try some of their featured restaurants along Ongpin street and also for something I could possibly start a business from. If you’re considering on reselling things, I think Binondo is the place to go to. Anything from fake ID’s or fake Diplomas, branded glasses, alcohol, earrings, shoes, beads, cloth anything and everything you could find here.

1. Bakers Fair hopia


1 box Php 120, 4pcs Php 24

Mongo hopia from Bakers fair has always been my favorite kind of hopia. I love it because it comes in a diced shape and hot off the grill if you buy them here! Php 120 for one box

2. Shanghai Fried Siopao


It used to be Php 16 for one siopao but not it is priced at Php 18 for one siopao.

My mom used to take me here when I was small to get their siopao. I really love fried siopao because of the crispy bottom of the siopao. Get this fresh and hot off the grill with the hopia and eat it while walking along the streets of Binondo.

3. Cafe Mezzanine


Near binondo church just along Ongpin street, try their wintermelon drink.

Cafe mezzanine is a famous Cafe here in Binondo and was featured in CCN’s must go places. There are a lot of people here so come during off hours. A part of the restaurant’s income goes to Binondo’s fire department, whose iconic purple truck  is parked beside the Binondo Church. Try their Wintermelon drink for Php 39. The restaurant next to it, Eng bee tin is also a famous hopia store but I still prefer the Bakers Fair hopia.

4. Sincerity Restaurant


Php 350 for the whole chicken and Php 99 for the Sincerity fried rice.

Yuchengko st. Corner Ongpin, From Cafe Mezzanine turn right and go straight. You will see this restaurant to the right. We got the Sincerity whole fried chicken for only Php 350, and the Sincerity fried rice for Php 99. The chicken was good and even could have been good for 4 people. I loved it, flavored well inside and out for the price of 350 and a whole chicken it was like eating at Sunrise Buckets except for it wasn’t just wings.

1. Do not bring a car coming here not unless you have your own driver. It took me 3 hours to get here by car because of the heavy traffic from the jeepneys. I parked in Lucky Chinatown mall where the parking seemed safest. (Usually I would take the train going here or a jeepney. If not I would park at the nearest train satiation connected to a mall then take the train coming here)

2. Bring a bottle of water, or just buy a lot of drinks while walking around

3. Do not bring a big bag or at least always watch your belongings

4. Come here with someone who knows the area. It is not nice to waste time walking and getting lost around Binondo because you really could get lost and people will take advantage of that.

5. Research about the places you want to go to and map it out. I suggest that you do this on a notebook. You wouldn’t want to bring out your phone here in Binondo. One blink and your phone could possibly be gone.

6. Do not bring a wallet when you come here or wear any fancy jewelry. (Please remove your earrings, necklaces and any other valuables)

7. Cleanest bathrooms are at Lucky Chinatown mall. You just have to pay Php 10

8. There are so many ATM machines here that you will not need to worry about money except losing money. Be very careful with your money.

9. It is also not clean at all here! Nothing has changed, it is still one of most unclean districts manila but the food here is good.

10. Of course lastly, ENJOY and take some pictures if you can! ( but be careful with your camera )

When all else fails just look for the big church and the rotunda with the fountain and you’ll easily spot Ongpin Street at the side of Binondo Church. If you walk along that street you will see all the above mentioned food places. There is also a lot more you could visit and try. Do not limit yourself to the places i mentioned about, There are also good dumpling places along Yuchengko street and also the Presidents Restaurant If I recall correctly, the last time I ate there it was really good. Discover and go around and do your research of the place. It is like a piece of downtown China in Manila.

How to get here: There are trains that go to Divisoria from around Manila. You may also opt to take the LRT1 train to Carriedo maybe or a train to Recto station riding the LRT2. Either way you will not know where to go unless you ask around or have someone with you who knows the place. Maps are a bit useless until you get the hang of the area. You’ll have to memorize it by heart.

BUDGET PER PERSON: Eating here is really cheap, we probably just spent less than 500 per person. If you are a lot I’m pretty sure that you will be spending less than that. Unless you plan to go shopping for school supplies for something, but even for that you will not need much money.