Bohol Island, Philippines

Bohol was a hidden gem to me, home to one of my favourite Filipino actors Cesar Montano, The last time I came to Bohol i never did any of the snorkelling and dolphin watching that I was just so surprised to see the beauty of this island. We stayed at Panglao island which is what our driver said is the place where all the tourists are at. They are currently builing an international airport here to provide more jobs to the locals of the area.

Bohol was very very clean and their people are one of the nicest I have met. Their seas are very clean as well and the sights very beautiful. Here are some of the things I will suggest you do, skip the party places and learn to see the beauty of Bohol.

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1. Man made forest

This forest is called the man made forest because each graduate of Bohol is required to plant 5 trees after they graduate. Now that the forest is big they are required to plant those 5 trees anywhere around Bohol or even in their backyard.

2. Balicasag Island

I never went on the island itself but we passed by this island to snorkel on the way back to our resort after dolphin watching. The reef was great and the waters were crystal clear! Its something you’d want to do while you are in Bohol. I never expected Bohol to have some place as beautiful as this. It was almost as if we were in Palawan or Apo island and we even got to swim with 3 sea turtles. It was wonderful.

3. Chocolate Hills

Im not sure if it was as Beautiful as the last time I was here, and the tourists are AWFUL just horrible. Most especially the Korean tourists who would smoke and spit on the viewing deck. Still worth the 214 steps to climb up and see the view but nothing more than just a few moments to appreciate the hills. They turn brown during the summer when its hot and green when its the rainy season.

4. Dolphin watching

Something you should not miss! It was worth waking up at 5am to see the dolphins, even if we waited 2 hours before actually finding these dolphins it was magical and I almost wanted to jump in the sea myself to swim with the dolphins.

5. Tarsier Conservation

I didn’t like this place which was filled with Tourists, but I guess it should be your list if you would like to see a tarsier and of course each contribution helps the tarsiers and the efforts to keep them from endangerment. There is a Php 60 entrance fee for this attraction. 14281538_10210423606097386_279344192_n.jpg

I never expected Bohol to be this beautiful and it is now one of my favourite places in the Philippines next to Palawan. With a reef that beautiful in Balicasag, I was really impressed.  I was able to swim with 3 sea turtles and thats more than what I was in Dumaguete while we were at Apo Island. Also it is not as congested as Dumaguete, Bohol is really still like a province. Very quiet and a very easy going place.

Todd English Food Hall, SM Aura

Whenever I get invited to these blog events I always have second thoughts especially if it is about food. Because well, Im a ballerina and… Technically I don’t really eat so much and being in the Philippines where it is a predominantly carb eating community. It is especially difficult to find anything that I can eat to fit into my diet.

And Although I was not able to eat the rice and the bread. I was able to try a lot of their salads and sashimi dishes. I Also had a little slice of each of their special cakes and desserts which a lot of people I know would rave about. Originally from New York, Their menu was nothing like the Menu in New York but was suited to the Filipino taste. I was expecting really steep prices on their dishes but most ranged from a budget of about Php 600-800 pesos per person. (Not bad for the serving portion size)

Recommendations: Sous Vide Duck breast, Tuna Slider, Simple Salad and for Dessert the Betty white was my favourite of all of the three desserts.

Not sure if it is a thing yet in Manila to be eating healthy or having a weird diet such as mine but I would like to start blogging about what kind of food I would prefer or eat over other kinds of food. Just because I got used to eating a good amount of each kind of thing. If you’re ever in SM aura, I would really recommend coming here. I think most people wouldn’t enter Todd English thinking of the amount they’d have to spend because of how it looks like from the outside. But i would recommend looking at their menu and considering this place to eat out on for Family days and dates.

Agape, Chimes Square Congressional Ave.

Congressional avenue has been booming lately of new restaurants. Chimes is one of the places i like to go to there as it is more quiet and secluded. Plenty of families come here and it is less crowded as compared to Box park or Urban Eats, which is right next to the establishment. If theres a new place you want to try around Quezon City, Chimes and well Congressional Avenue in general is a good place to come to. A bit of a hassle with parking space but its worth it to come and eat here.

Agape, meaning selfless or maybe surprise. Depending on how you use it, was what the owner of the restaurant named it because it reminded her of her journey with her daughter when she got sick. She wanted to put up that restaurant after their journey together when they went to New York. When they were there, they would always eat in the Le Pain restaurant along 1st avenue. That is where she got most of her inspiration for her first restaurant, Agape.

An owner with plenty of heart, she handles her business with a lot of passion. Most of her chefs are from Benilde or Endurun which she tells us are very well off, but she likes to hire these types of people because many of them are inspired by the story of why she opened her restaurant. Her menu is composed of recipes mostly done by her husband or some of her family members.

Personal Recommendations: From the Salads I loved the Spicy Prawn with Honey Lemon Papaya sauce Php 150, The Four Cheese pizza Php320, Beer Battered Fish Tartine Php 250 and the Sardines in Oil Pasta, Php 200. Their dessert tart is also AMAZING. They are very proud of their tartine selection as not many restaurants serve tartines in Manila. The beer battered tartine was my favourite among all the tartines.

Really nice place to come for quiet dates with friends and family. Chimes is a nice family friendly place. There are three restaurants that I could recommend here and the other one is also owned by the owner of Agape which is Ciano. The other burger restaurant beside Agape, sells amazing burgers, and those are probably the only three restaurants that I come here for but its definitely worth a try. Chimes Square is not really that mainstream YET as it looks a bit more expensive and intimidating, but give it a little more time and I know that it will be swamped with people soon enough.

トン茶屋 Tonchaya, Fort Strip

トン茶屋 (Tonchaya) was called とん (ton)  because of the owners son Anton. Then looking at the last 2 Kanji characters 茶屋 (cha-ya) Derived from ちゃ【茶】 cha “tea” and 【屋】 ya “house; shop”, literally means Ton’s Tea shop or tea house. I do like the name of the shop even if Tonchaya is more known as a kitchen bar because it gave a homey and personal feel the place.

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The front of the restaurant.

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The interior is pretty cute and was designed by a Japanese interior designer.

I like the menu as a whole because I guess it had the simple Japanese home cooking and it catered to the night life around the place too. It kind of reminded me of the really small shops around the sides of the train stations in Tokyo where you would come to after a long day of working. Where men would come to go out with their co workers and eat. Pretty appropriate for the location of the restaurant. They also do have a stall in Mercato where they serve Maki’s and even the favorite Bento’s. We were given practically everything on the menu for this bloggers event, and I was so surprised with the amount of food that we had.

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Tonchayas famous Okonomiyaki, Php 320. I really loved this, it really tasted exactly like the one my mom would make at home. Not so thick and just the right amount of fillings. Also had tons of vegetables inside and I loved it.

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Spicy Seafood Ramen, Php 380. I liked the Ramen it was very simple and not so oily. I liked how this also had a lot of seafood and vegetables in it.

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Spicy Salmon Roll, Php 280. They also have a spicy tuna roll and a lot of different maki sushi. The rice on this was pretty interesting because it was crunchy unlike the usual sushi. It was okay, I prefer sushi to be in its original form but this wasn’t bad either since I do love Salmon.

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Seafood Gomoku Chaahan, php 295. Since it’s Chaahan, It kind of gave me a more “Chinese” taste. As Chaahan is Chinese style Fried rice. I loved the mushrooms on this dish which is probably what gave the Japanese flavors to it.

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Chicken Teriyakidon, Php 350. Again, pretty basic. I liked the miso soup and the cabbages on the side.

I believe that the Mrs. Kojima (the mother of the girlfriend of Anton, the owner Mrs. Abads son) who made the menu was really smart because she was able to get the Filipino taste and add her personal touch of home made Japanese flavors into her food. It’s not what you’d call Japanese fine dining because fine dining would cost a lot around Manila because of their good ingredients. Here they would use simple ingredients that you could find in any Japanese grocery and make at home yourself. These are the basic Japanese food that you could find in any home. Every Japanese woman as all Japanese women know must know how to cook. My mom used to tell me that “A way to a mans heart is really through his stomach, unless I’m lucky and my future husband knows how to cook”

They have everything from Agemono, Yakimono, Curry, Ramen, basic Bento and even Sushi. It was really smart of them to only include the basic for every category. I would probably come back here to try their Bento. It was also nice to eat here because of the big servings of vegetables that came with some of the meals. Japanese as we all know love vegetables and lots of seafood, nothing much of fried food. So it made me feel as though I was just eating my moms cooking at home. I think that the only thing they could improve on is their service. We all know that Filipinos are very particular about good service and Japanese are well known for their exceptional service. To make the experience truly special, I think that the staff should be trained in such a way that they are always alert and should also know the menu very well. That way I think people would come back for more of their Japanese food, because I was quite satisfied with the food.

Recommendations: Okonomiyaki ( It was really good )

トン茶屋 TONCHAYA

The Fort Strip, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City Facebook: Tonchaya Japanese Kitchen and Bar

Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken, Fairview branch

Another one of my friends restaurants, who is one of the “Homies” of Homies Pinoy Fried chicken. I ended up in Fairview today to visit my friend and since we were already there I wanted to take a look at their second branch. This new branch is difficult to find maybe if you’re not familiar with Fairview. Compared to their first branch in UP Village, this branch is a lot bigger and I really loved the concept of the chalkboard design on the wall where people could write. My friend and I walked here from her dorm in FEU. From Regalado you just need to turn left to Buick st. which is right across FEU and Starbucks. Then you just go straight ahead and you’ll see it just at the corner of Chevelle   St.  Parking here is not a problem.

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Check out their menu. I love that it has a little bit of every kind of pinoy foods that we love.

#thebestchickenintown ? Chicken wow! I loved the Homies fried chicken, their specialty which is served with unlimited Rice and drinks. Fairly good prices and very student friendly. When I tried their branch in Magiting st. I was  also able to try their Lumpia which I am hooked on. I love their Lumpia.

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Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken Meal, Php 130 with a side dish and the pinoys favorite UNLI RICE! haha. This chicken was really good.

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Cheeseburger Php 200, is Hagens classic recipe. Really good! I loved the buns of the burger because they were kinda crunchy. Not burned, but crunchy.

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Longganisa burger Php 170. There is also a Tocino burger that I would love to try.

The cheeseburger was really good. I was not expecting that from just a cheeseburger. Like I’ve said in the past I really am not much of a fan of burgers but their burgers aren’t oily but it wasn’t dry. It was really juicy without any oil traces going down the sides of your mouth. Which is what I hate about burgers. What I also loved about it was that the bun of the cheeseburger was crunchy. The Longganissa burger is what I was interested to try because the last time this wasn’t on their menu yet. I probably would have tried eating it with vinegar maybe?

No questions asked, I would definitely come back here. Probably another biased comment maybe because of my friend? (HAHA) Both branches get crowded during schooldays so come here during off hours or like a bit late. Good vibes, good food and another small discovery. Thanks Hagen!

Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken

51 – C Magiting St., U.P. Village, Quezon City ( First Branch )
Buick St., cor. Chevelle St., West Fairview ( Second Branch )
Store hours: 11:30 am to 10:00 pm
Visti their Facebook Page: Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken

Wing Stop, Katipunan Regis Center

I expected too much from Wing Stop, based on its reviews. 3.5-5? Really? I could rate this place a 2 if not for the good ambiance maybe a 2.5. I could get a lot of better wings at a better price from my friends restaurant Burger Company Ph or at my favorite Sunrise buckets. You’d think that a place that only specializes in wings would have great wings right? I mean thats the only thing they serve plus some sides. So its the thing that they are expected to perfect, not to mess up.
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When we went here they had 8 people in the kitchen area and 4 people at the counter.  So I was expecting really quick service, but it still took them 20 mins to cook our food and there were only 3 tables filled. The staff though were friendly so thats a plus and another plus for the nice use of space. Since they could accommodate a lot of people.

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Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

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Lemon Pepper and Louisiana Rub, Chicken Wings

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Texas style fries, Side

So back to the food. Of course I was expecting beautiful and delicious wings. They did look good, but the flavors were just too salty for me. We got the Louisiana Rub, Garlic Parmesan and the Lemon Pepper. Chicken wings are priced at 5pcs 235php, 7pcs 325php for 2 flavors, 11pcs at 495 for 2 flavors as well and 20pcs at 875 for 2 flavors. I’m sorry but after eating at sunrise buckets where it is a lot cheaper to eat. I just have to compare the size of their wings and the flavoring. The flavor here was too salty, the lemon pepper was so oily. I got the flavor on top of the chicken cooked beautifully but very bland inside.

We also got the fries for the side the Texas style flavor. I was also expecting good fries, instead I needed more flavor and just opted to use ketchup. I also found it funny that they have ice by the counter but they don’t have water by the counter? So If you get Ice you’d give a confused look like… “Where’s the water?” This place still has a lot of room to improve. It already does have good ratings, so I guess people seem to like it. There’s no competition for good wings around   Katipunan so all they have to do now is improve their wings and service.

WINGSTOP

2/F Regis Center, Katipunan,
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

TIPS:
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.