Out of Town presents… A Quick Stopover in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija


It is true, what they say, if your mind is on it, nothing can make you out of focus.

After months of planning with friends and colleagues, it came to an end. Not a happy ending as you might expected. I was recently invited to go to Aurora over the weekend, but due to unforeseen events, it was canceled. A few weeks after that, I decided to organized a trip to Nueva Ecija with some friends, but then, it was canceled…again. Then I told myself, that’s it. Am done. If I want to have this trip, I might as well do it myself, like I always do most of the time. And so, at 3 in the morning, Monday, I packed my bag and got on a 5 Star bus to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija.

I slept to a 3-hour ride and woke up with acres of rice fields from both sides of the road. Its vast amount reaches the horizon where the bright morning sky greets them. No wonder this province was dubbed “The Rice Granary of the Philippines.”


I looked for a place to eat upon reaching Cabanatuan City ‘cos of their famous dish on my mind, Batutay Longganisa. It is seldom cooked in restaurants so I went over to every tapsilogan and karinderya I saw, hoping they have it in their menus for that day, and one of them did! There are two kinds of longganisa being made in Cabanatuan. The first one is garlic-ky and the other is sweet. I tried both of them, but I would say, the latter caught my picky taste.

I was about to head over to Camp Pangatian, but the tricycle drivers killed my mood with their service fares. Instead of ruining my entire trip with it (I got no sleep for more than 24 hours during that time, so my patience are nowhere to be found), I went to the church to calm down. It’s a good thing I did it. Whenever you feel lost and nowhere else to go, the house of God is always open to seek refuge. I am not a religious person, but in that moment, it’s my instinct that told me what to do. Besides, Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish is marvelous and solemn. Plus, it was just right across to the statue of General Antonio Luna, a hero of Cabanatuan City and of the Philippines. A time-saver, I should say.

After some self-reflection, I decided to roam around the city and spotted the best place to get a dessert. A cheese cashew macapuno ice cream by Puno’s Ice Cream and Sherbet. It is sooo good, not to mention affordable. If only it does not melt, I would buy a gallon.

It was around 10 in the morning and my eyes were trying to give up on me. It’s a bad thing not to get some sleep before traveling, ย you might miss a moment, ‘cos I did. I was not able to visit some of the places I listed on my notes, but am not giving up. I got disappointed twice already, the triumph should be double as well.

I went back to the bus terminal and get on to Dingalan Trans going to Aurora. Let me tell you how great it is in there, in my next blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

Out of Town presents… Taking a Glimpse of Marinduque


Roughly 4PM, the boat docked in Balanacan Port. I gathered my things and get off the vehicle and looked for a jeepney that is bound to Boac. Oh, and by the way, I am now in Marinduque.

Let me tell you first an interesting story I encountered from the Dalahican Port in Lucena City all the way through my vogage to Balanacan.

After my amazing trip in Lucban, I rode a bus and a tricyle to catch up a boat going to Marinduque. At 11:30PM, am sailing through the seas of CALABARZON and MIMAROPA. Before that though, my swiss knife was confiscated by the Port Police. I was unaware it was prohibited in there. Last time I was on a ferry terminal was 5 years ago going home and they are not as tight as they are now. Interestingly though, I was allowed to check it in the airport, but that’s a long time ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

Going back to my story, the trip in the sea was cold! It was a 3-hour cold sail but the scenery few minutes after docking was incredible!




Shortly after that, I was on my way to Boac, the capital of Marinduque. After a 30-minute jeepney ride, I reached Boac. It was a quiet town, just like the rest of the towns in this province, but mind you, the architectural designs of the buildings and houses are stunning. Laid back, yet superb!

I headed to Lucky 7 Pension House where I had my reservation for the night. I was initially offered a bunk-bed for 300 pesos over the phone, but got a single standard room for 250. Thanks a lot! ๐Ÿ™‚

At 5PM, I decided to explore the town and looked for a place to eat. I was amazed by how easy it is go find the restos, grocery stores and hotels in the area. It seems to me they are all strategically placed within 4 to 5 blocks inside this town.

As per Google’s suggestion, I went to Kusina sa Plaza. The place is cozy and the food is all worth it. I had Marinduqueรฑos’ version of Kare-kare for dinner which seems to be a mixture of ground pork mixed with coconut milk and pig blood. In short, it tasted like Giniling na Dinuguan. Well, I ordered 2 cup of rice for that!


Since it’s already dark and I have not seen any signs of night life brewing in this place, or it could be that I am aware of it, I decided to call it a night.

At 7AM, I hailed a tricycle to Laylay for a morning stroll on one of their beaches. The tricycle driver led me to A&A Beach Resort. One thing immediately popped on my mind upon seeing the beachfront- Home. I spent almost an hour their, just contemplating about everything that is happening to my life then went back to my hotel.



Starving at 9AM, I freshened up then looked for another food spot. Mr. Policeman walked me to Good Chow Food Express, just at the side of Kusina ng Bayan (told you they are all in one place, evenly distributed). It’s like a one stop food shop. One thing these establishments got in common is pizza, unfortunately I am not a fan of it so was not able to try them.


On the other hand, I ordered the one on my to list, Sisig! It was okay. Upon having a nice meal, I planned to visit their National Musuem but it was under construction so maybe on my next visit.

It’s already 10AM and I need to retrieve the item that got confiscated so I decided to take an early trip back to the mainland. As the boat made its way off Marinduque, the weather started to get gloomy, as if it knows what I feel inside me. One thing is for sure, I am going back to this little paradise.



Out of Town presents… Lucban, Quezon – A Foodtrip for Belly and Soul


2016 was a great year for travel.I earned a lot of awareness and experiences, as well as gained a lot of acquaintances. This year, I plan to make it greater!

For the first month of 2017, what could be better than feeding my soul, more than anything else. And so, I am heading to Lucban in the Quezon Province.

At 2AM, armed with my backpack and Google Maps, I hopped on the JAC Liner bus and had a roughly 4 hour drive to Lucena City.

Around 5:30AM, I reached Lucena City Grand Terminal. I caught a ride in a jeepney bound to Sta. Cruz, Laguna and jumped in Lucban, after a 30-minute ride. The smell of poultry and coconuts was spreading in the air that whole time, and it reminded me og home. I got sentimental in there for a bit. Oh, mind you, it was cold!

I got to Lucban and the dawn was starting to break, plus there was rain showers. Quite a heavenly welcome if you might think. And there it was, Kamay ni Hesus, the almighty statue and its holy church.



Since their Sunday Mass starts at 7:30AM, I decided to hike around the area (it was huge!) and discover a lot of things than I expected.


A miniature of the entire vicinity from the main entrance up to the hill.


It’s pretty much gratifying to reach the top of the hill. ๐Ÿ™‚


Noah’s Ark. It’s also a hotel and restaurant.



Their mini-museum. Unfortunately, it’s currently close for public when I got there.

At 7AM, the hike up to the statue of Jesus Christ was opened to the public. It was situated on the top of the hill and you need to hike for they said 300 steps. It will be a great exercise for me, I said to myself. Man, for a person who has not climb for a while, it was quite piece of work, but all was worth it. The view above was magnificent! It was a serene climb I would say. And it was still cold and raining, a bit.


A wonderful view from above.


The Statue of Jesus Christ up on the hill.

Once I got back on the ground, I fixed myself and looked for a tricycle going to the town proper of Lucban to, what else, look for a place to eat.

I got quite a few choices of restos in mind, well, based on Google’s suggestions really when I got there. Alas! Most of them are still close. I am an optimistic person, O keep on reminding myself that so I went for a troll. And there I found, the Dealo Koffee Klatch. It was primarily a bakeshop, given all am seeing are bread, cookies and pastries, but they have breakfast too, Silogs to be exact.

Since I am in Lucban, what else to order than their famous Pancit Habhab and Longganisang Lucban. Ummm… got nothing bad to say. I need to bring them home, but not today. ๐Ÿ™‚


Pancit Habhab. It’s definitely worth it!



Longganisang Lucban. Another must-try!

After that bountiful meal, I hopped on a bus going back to Lucena City and immediately headed to Dalahican Ferry Terminal to catch an 11:30AM boat. That’s the reason why I cannot buy pasalubongs today, ‘cos the day has not ended yet.

Out of Town presents… Birthday Adventures – Part 3: All Hail- Davao City!


Last stop, but definitely not the least, Davao City!

I arrived at around 1PM from Cebu and the first thing that I thought of was, to eat! Yeah, I was so freaking hungry during that time. And so, I hailed a cab from the airport to Hotel Uno and immediately looked for a place to eat. Since I am in Davao, what else to try better than their infamous Tuna and Durian. There, I found myself heading to Marina Tuna Restaurant in SM Lanang.



Their grilled tuna was superb! I’ve eaten durian-flavored and commercialized foods before, but not freshly mafrom the durian fruit itself. Boy, the smell really stinks! But the taste, simply delicious. Although, unconsciously, it became my perfume until one of the security personnel approached me asking if I brought durian with me (a big no as per hotel policy). Then I decided to take a shower and wear a real perfume.

Since I am trying to catch the remaining time I have left in this city, I went to visit the museums and the parks that were just near my hotel. Good thing, Museo Dabawenyo was a few miles away, so I headed there.


One of the good things about Davao City, they have their own private police that maintains the peace and order, and protect the people in the city.

By the way, below is a portrait of now President Rodrigo Duterte, created by the Japanese painter, Ayumi Endo when he was still the Mayor of Davao City.


Click here to see the video on how it was made.

Oh, I forgot to mention, my younger brother, Ramy Leo, was assigned here for a few months by his company so we decided to meet and celebrate his birthday. (Yes, he is just a day away from my special day. A couple of years apart though.)

We headed to Jack Ridge’s Hilltop for dinner and went downtown to meet some of his friends and colleagues for a couple of beers. Another good thing here, the city goes silent comes 10PM, even the bars. And smoking is strictly forbidden in public places. A great city to live. ๐Ÿ™‚


The next day, I checked out and went to his hotel cos’ we decided to spend his birthday to someplace peaceful and laid-back. So, we rode on a ferry-boat to Isla Reta Beach Resort in Talikud Island, a small island that is part of the Island Garden City of Samal.



It took ย us an hour or two to reach the place and good heavens, the place was beautiful! Blue sky, white beach and sparkling water. What else will you look for?



The electricity in the island runs through a generator so they have a cut off time for everything electric. We ate our lunch and went to sleep, then plunged into the clear waters at 5 in the afternoon just before sunset. Unfortunately, its view was on the other side of the island so we haven’t got a nice photo of that. It doesn’t mean we did not enjoy though.


We slept through the night with a bountiful meal ( I got no pictures of it cos’ we were drained from all day’s work, err-play). The next morning, we headed back to the city, bought some pasalubong’s that nearly cost me an extra charge for excess baggage (thank you Air Asia for your consideration, although I need to be reminded in buying a handful of presents versus a hand full of presents, which are waaay different from each other).

Before we split, I insisted on taking a last taste of tuna in Davao, so we headed to Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant and had a hearty lunch, this time, no durian shake. Not that I don’t like it, I just want to make sure I’ll be allowed to enter the plane and make my way back to Manila. ๐Ÿ™‚


One last thing, our plane was the last one allowed to take off before they canceled all the flights to and fro Manila. I felt sorry for the passengers stuck on the airports for the whole night, but I absolutely thank heavens for a safe and continuous flight.

Thank you Cebu Pacific for this purse. It’s fun to have games in a flight. ๐Ÿ™‚


Overall, the trip was life-changing! I did not know I can do it all by myself, and I learned more than what I expected. Certainly going to do it in 2017.

Where to go? What to do? Just keep moving.

Cheers everyone! And Happy Birthday to me!!!

(This is a continuation of my last post 3 months ago. Due to unforeseen events and laziness, I just finish this one today. Finally!ย ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Out of Town presents… Birthday Adventures – Part 2: What To Do, What To Do in- Cebu?!


It’s nearly six in the evening and I touched down… Cebu!

The heavens welcomed me, pouring its blessings, but I still can’t keep the smile off my face. First thing, people who say Cebu City has the worst traffic never been to Metro Manila during 5AMs to 9AMs and then 5PMs to 10PMs, Mondays through Fridays. I love MyBus in there! It saved me from all the worries of hailing cabs and arm-wrestling with the commuters to and fro the airport. My judgment so far, great solution to vehicle congestion. I arrived at my hotel at around 8PM. Since am all drained and exhausted, I decided to sleep my way through the cold rainy night.

It’s day four now and my first morning in this city, so I decided to pack my things up and walk my way for another solo exploration. It was a great advantage booking a place at the Sampaguita Suites in Plaza Garcia cos’ it’s near the iconic and historical places in Cebu, starting with the Magellan’s Cross Shrine, which I first seen on my elementary history books.



It was followed by the Basilica Del Santo Nino, which is the Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines.



The Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia, Malacanang sa Sugbo and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. It was a history overload in a matter of hours!





Oh, by the way, this photo below is not really majestic, but rather historic. That’s Colon Street, the oldest servicing street in the Philippines.


Since I was able to cover those spots in a short (walking) distance, I went to the upper-part of Cebu City and hire a “habal-habal” to bring me to these picturesque places:

Sirao Flower Farm (Little Amsterdam) – I think these pictures below will explain why it was called that way.



Temple of Leah – the things we do for love!



Mountain View Nature’s Park – where you can see the rest of Cebu City from above.



And to end these wonderful day, a bountiful meal at Rico’s Lechon! #LechonIsLife


Well, my bad, my day has not ended yet, cos’ I just found out that another cousin of mine, Vivian, is working in Cebu. It’s a great thing to find your relatives all over the country. We met and had another dinner in Larsian sa Fuente, a place where street foods are fresh and affordable.




It was just few hours before my birthday so I decided to throw it a party; hence, we hopped through bars in Mango Square Avenue until they all closed and had a movie marathon at 3AM/killing time until the morning comes.


It’s now my fifth day traveling and it’s my birthday. Tired and was having a hangover, I slept until 3PM, then drag my sleepy ass to this amazing resto – KKD STK + BBQ, just a couple of minutes away from my hotel. I sincerely did not regret going there. Linarang na Tasik is a must-try.


I spent the rest of my special day roaming around. Man, that was a fun day!

The morning after, at 10AM, was my flight to another city. And so, the adventure continues…

(This is a continuation of my last post 2 months ago. Due to unforeseen events and laziness, I just finish this one today. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Out of Town presents… Birthday Adventures – Part 1: Puerto Prinsesa – Where Every Trip is Worth it!


Ever since I started setting my feet into different places, I fell in love to it. The pleasure (and pain) that it can give you is beyond anything that money can buy. If it is a vice, then it is a good one. Well, as the title suggests, my birthday is coming up. And what more way to celebrate it and give myself a present, than a gift of travels. I had a lot of places in mind, but one thing did stand out, what if I try (sort of) travel around the Philippines? And so here it goes…

For Luzon, I started with one of the cleanest cities in the country, Puerto Prinsesa City in Palawan. That was theย  first thing I’ve noticed as I stepped outside the airport. It was really clean!

I arrived in Puerto Prinsesa at around 4 in the afternoon. It’s not my first time traveling solo but the worries of what will I find in any new places I visit still crosses my mind. A good thing though, my cousin Lis, decided to fetch me from the airport and accompany me to Dallas Inn, a place I booked to stayย  for 3 nights. It was a homey kind of place where most of the guests are from outside of the country. I loved the place because it was quiet, especially at night and the staff (Kuya Resty and Ate Irene) were friendly and approachable.

After I settled in, Lis brought me to the Baywalk where lot of boats and yachts are sailing, and my goodness the seaside is also clean af! And the smell of the air, its heaven!

Since it’s getting dark, we decided to take our dinner in KaLui Seafood Restaurant. I personally do not eat most of the edible things from the sea so we ordered fish. By the way, they had this awesome technique of welcoming visitors, by having them remove our footwear before entering the restaurant. Their blue marlin dish is amazing, please check it out!

So, that was my first day. The next morning, I headed to my cousin’s house for a breakfast, before we headed for our City Tour (Yeah, she was my tour guide around the city and thanks a lot for not charging me). Our first stop was the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm. Yup, it is a real prison; but worry not ’cause the place is safe. It is actually considered as a sanctuary of the inmates while they are serving their sentences. As a matter of fact, this place has its own church and hospital,and a wide area of land where inmates can do farming, animal raising, handicrafts and other stuff that let them earn money in a good and decent way. Another good thing is that their families can live with them inside the farm.

Next, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, also known as the Crocodile Farm due to crocodile farming being done inside the center. For just 40 pesos, you will see the 2nd biggest crocodile in the Philippines (or what’s left of it). You will also witness how the baby crocs are doing, and how large and terrifying the adults are. They will also give you a chance to hold a baby croc and take pictures with them. Not only crocodiles are inside the center; you will also have a chance to see bearcats, talking mynahs, hornbills, a leopard cat, parrots, porcupines, varieties of snakes, and a lot more.

After our nice chit-chat with the animals, we headed to Baker’s Hill. It is actually a playground/park for families especially kids and kids at heart, like me. The got life-size statues of cartoon characters, but I enjoyed the most on their bakeshop; hence, I brought cheesecakes and cookies back home.

Right after that, just a few meters up ahead is Rancho Mitra (Mitra’s Ranch). It’s a pretty big place if you like horseback riding and the full view of Honda Bay from there is magnificent. I just went inside their museum and took some pictures of antique porcelains, for just 20 pesos entrance fee.

Since it’s already 2 o’clock in the afternoon, we decided to go to Kuyba Almoneca (Cove Almoneca), our last stop for the day. It’s a peaceful sanctuary for lost souls.No kidding. The entrance fee is a bit expensive (100 pesos per head) for a short cave tour where you’ll see a lot of statue of patron saints and a face of Jesus Christ molded by the stalagmites. There are churches inside the area where they house weddings and other religious feasts, and they got a fish spa! And so, we spent at least 30 minutes getting tickled by fishes (it’s my first time so don’t judge). ๐Ÿ™‚

My cousin and I parted ways at 4PM and I went back to my inn. (Thanks again Lis!) Oh, I forgot to mention that am hungry, so I looked for a good place to eat. And since I saw crocodiles earlier that day, I craved for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I find myself eating the infamous Crocodile Sisig in Ka Inato Restaurant. It’s a dish that’s good for 3 persons but who cares, I am starving! Thumbs up by the way to the management of Ka Inato for hiring deaf and mute people and giving them jobs to make a living.


Zoomed in to my second day, I prepared myself for an Underground River Tour. Of course, it’s not a complete trip in Palawan without visiting one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. I booked this through El Mundo Travels and Tours for 1,500 pesos. Since it’s a single booking, I was added to group tour which I find to be an amazing experience! There were 9 persons in a group and the great thing was they were all in vacation to celebrate the birthday of each of their companions; hence, a birthday tour was made! We had an amazing time, enjoying the amazing views of rock formations, and witnessed the serenity of our surroundings as we entered the cave in a boat for about 15 to 20 minutes. The whole trip was splendid, to say the least!

We had our lunch afterwards and I encouraged them all to try one of my most favorite Filipino dishes, adobo! (They’re all foreigners, by the way). It turned out, most of them were vegan, but they loved pancit guisado. It was a great experience for me as I’ve learned about they’re cultures first hand and we exchanged ideas about our ways of life. And oh, they all feared to visit Mindanao. It’s a bit disappointing but I was able to explain to them that not all places in the Philippines are dangerous. Every place in the world has its own ups and downs. Hopefully, they’ll reconsider.


From back to front: Me, Jacob and Morgan from Australia, Chris from the US (such a good companion), Alicia, Patricia and Martina from Spain and Colombia, and the lovely couple from Israel. #UnitedNationsDay

I returned to the city at 5 in the afternoon. Since it’s a Sunday, I headed to Immaculate Conception Cathedral, said a small prayer and thanks, then rode a tricycle to Bona’s and try their minty Chaolong, an authentic Vietnamese noodle soup. For just 65 pesos, I never regretted it.


The next morning, I made a quick stop to Puerto Prinsesa’s Tourism Office and took a peek of the world’s largest pearl discovered from the largest living bivalve mollusk called Taklobo. It’s huge, indeed!


Before packing my things, I dropped by to a restaurant near my inn called Balinsasayaw and tried one of their bestsellers, Balinsasayaw Express. It’sย  a dish made from a specie of bird that can be found in the caves of Palawan, the Balinsasayaw; hence, the place got its name. It’s cheesy, sweet and spicy so 2 thumbs up from me.


At 12:30 in the afternoon, I checked out from my inn and headed to the airport, but am not going home yet. One down, two to go.


Short Poetries 115 – War’s In Love


War is a horror, they say; war is suffering, they say. 

For it is war who brings pain and sorrow. 

But what if it doesn’t? For war is love, just misguided. 

I blossomed during the war, I heightened on it’s peak. 

Do you remember that day the cannons blew? We bumped into each other. 

How about the night that the bombings started? We shared my bed together. 

As the war goes strong, so does our love. 

Thus, how dare they blame it into the war!  

I lost a father, a child and a brother; yet, in the war I found you. 

The memories we made as lives fall, are rays of light to my lonely soul. 

Alas! They come to make peace, so I must lay you into your grave. 

I long for war to come once more, for you, my love, my hands again will hold. 

Photo grabbed from: http://the-lemon-watch.deviantart.com/art/My-War-Love-Grenade-307916383