Mar 20, 2013

Extreme Adventure at Kalinga with Sidetrip to Tuguegarao

Six ladies going up north to indulge in some extreme water activity. It was a spur of the moment plan that pushed through the next day.

We left for Tabuk, Kalinga from Manila via Autobus Lines in Espana on the night of May 31, 2006 and arrived Tabuk around morning the next day after an uneventful 10 hrs trip.

Would you believe that we were billeted at the 21st Infantry Battalion situated in Tabuk, Kalinga? Our friend happens to be the sibling of the commanding officer of that unit and offered us an interesting accomodation. He asked us if we wanted to look for an accomodation within the area but insisted we  stay in his air conditioned barracks or if we're willing to sleep in a makeshift tent. We picked the latter and it was so much fun and challenging.

Tabuk, Kalinga
Playing kickass girls ala Charle's Angels, lolz ....

Look how it was made on the inside .....

Sleeping was a challenge especially during the wee hours when it becomes really chilly. But we got used to it eventually for the next 3 more days of our stay here. Besides who wouldn't  love this experience.

Our scheduled white water rafting was on a Saturday and while we're waiting for that date, we were told so much to our delight that our kuyas would bring us to Tuguegarao to explore Callao Cave and the Pinacanauan River. It was more or less a 3 hour drive from Tabuk.
We crossed the river and enter the Callao Caves, explored several chambers and meditate in the church that was inside the Callao Caves. Afterwards, we rode our boat, then dock and  had our lunch in one of the shaded areas where we met some nice locals who offered us their picnic food. We gladly obliged and enjoyed the local dishes like the Cabagan Pansit. We spent more time swimming and chatting and while we wanted to see what our guides were saying like thousands of bats flying out of Callao Cave by 6PM, we decided to head out while there's still light so we can reach our barracks (as if we're some soldiers, hehe) before sunset and feel safer since we were staying inside a military camp. But before we do that, we dropped by at one of the malls in Tuguegarao and dine in some food court kiosk and order a bilao of Cabagan Pansit as pasalubong to our most valued host Kuya Jun sans the title Lt. Col. to make it more informal and to some of the Army officers.

We slept lightly while our friendly troops headed out for some night mission and we prayed that they will be guided back safely. On a side note, when we arrived here, their flag is on a half mast because 3 of their comrades were killed by some lawless elements while doing community works. We were a bit bothered by that piece of news, so we cancelled earlier plans of mountain hiking.

June 3, we woke up early, excited about our white water rafting activity but then became nervous when reminded of the dangers involved and I had to sign a waiver, hehe. Anyway our friendly troops arrived safely and some joined us to complete the needed number of participants.

They call our activity Ullalim Run, suited for beginners with Class 3 rapids passing thru Pasil to Tabuk. It probably took us  4 hours to finish the run with several stops to rest and catch our breaths and have some snacks. The group was divided into two rafts.

It was a very exhilarating experience navigating wild rapids and as if this was not enough, my courage was put to another test when the group insisted that everyone should jump from a 5 meter high rock formation. When my turn came to jump, I did not hesitate. My friends thought I would bail out like the many times I did when extreme water activity is involved. Well, honestly speaking I got my courage with this piece of life vest I'm wearing, if that wasn't there, I wouldn't even dare a bit ;-).

that's me ;-)
After the jump, we passed through what they call swimmer's rapid and we did what they call body rafting and that's to swim along with the rapids.
me doing body rafting

We finish the run by 3:30 pm with so much adrenaline still flowing in our veins. That was a priceless experience and we are thankful for our competent guides and our friendly army officers for making us all feel safe.

We stayed for another night, slept soundly and woke up late the next day, enjoyed our brunch and visited the market to buy some Kalinga coffee and other delicacies for our pasalubong back home. By 5pm we said our goodbyes and our heartfelt appreciation to Kuya Jun and Libay and Kuya Ronald for  taking care of us and making us feel most welcome.

Hopefully, we'll meet again and do the Tinglayan run next time around.

*** This is my initial Blast from the Past post while I gather my old 3 x 5s, and revisit my old adventures during the times when Digicams are still a luxury, DSLRs are only for the PRO and blogging is not yet a hobby ;-)

Mar 14, 2013

Foodtripping at Angeles, Pampanga (Part2)

And so after that very interesting lunch at  Everybody's Cafe  we checked the vicinity of Nepomart on foot and located this restaurant which I recognized in one of my readings as among those included when doing Culinary Tours in Pampanga. It's called Susie's Cuisine.

Pampanga Culinary Tours

I heard they specialized in kakanin products or rice cakes of different varieties and their halo halo is also good and so the moment I set inside, I ordered for halo halo right away.

Pampanga Culinary Tours

I checked the menus they offer and aside from kakanin products, they also got everything covered .....

... which unfortunately had no chance to fit in my already full tummy, hehe. Anyway, we dig in the halo halo as soon as it arrived.

Pampanga Culinary Tours

The creaminess reminds me of my childhood days when I'd usually open our powdered milk and scoop  in 1 to 3 tbsps and put it in my mouth and then let it melt inside, LOL and my mother would wonder why a can of our powdered milk would just last for only a few days.

The taste is very similar to Razon's halo halo, only their shaved ice is a bit coarser than Razon's very refined texture. The ingredients are just the same, saba, macapuno, ube and leche plan. But what sets this apart from the more popular Razon is the price. This tall glass of halo halo from Susie's Cuisine only costs 60 pesos against the almost 100 pesos price tag of Razon's.

Susie's Cuisine

And as the day progresses, while our group was laughing so hard and attracting attention from the other guests more people are coming inside either to have their lunch/merienda or buy their pasalubongs from here.

We took home a pinipig rice cake and both mom and pops enjoyed eating it. The taste is very rich and you can tell that the pinipig rice they used is of good quality.

Susie's Cuisine

I hope they'll open a branch in Metro Manila coz every now and then I crave for these kinds of delicacies and Pampanga is almost a 3 hrs drive to have your cravings fixed.

Susie's Cuisine (MAIN)

# 36 hilda st., nepo mart, angeles city -   (045) 322 - 4775 / 888 - 0034

Mar 7, 2013

Foodtripping at Angeles , Pampanga (Part 1)

We took advantage of the fact that we were already in Angeles, Pampanga for the Hot Air Balloon Festival  and so we headed downtown for a while to have a gastronomic fare of authentic Kapampangan cuisine. I call it sort of a mini culinary tour.


Going there from Clark Freeport Zone took us several stops to ask for directions and since its downtown Angeles City, we hurdled a lot of traffic and some wrong turns that took us probably 30 mins to finally reach the place. Our first stop was the famous eatery called EVERYBODY's CAFE located at Nepomart, in front of Nepo Mall. I heard its been around since 1946, not this branch though, the original branch located at San Fernando, Pampanga and had been featured by two famous food travel shows like Bobby Chin's World Cafe Asia and Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods.

It's actually a carinderia type of restaurant where a selection of authentic Kapampangan cuisine are ready for the picking. But dont expect carinderia prices.  It took us a while before getting seated. We were 3rd on the line and a group of 12 and the place isn't big enough to accommodate a large number of diners. So while waiting we checked the selection  and excitedly ordered some interesting looking items to lessen our waiting time.

Everybody's Cafe

When we're settled down, food came in soon one by one and there's a free bulalo soup for everyone.
First off in the menu is the bizarre looking crickets called camaro.

Everybody's Cafe

WikiPilipinas described camaro as  mole crickets that are found in rice fields. They were marinated in adobo flavors, stir fried and very crisp. It's actually very tasty and would go well with rice or a bottle of beer. One order costs 250 pesos. Just dont stare at it before eating ;-).

Everybody's Cafe
Chicharon Bulaklak

Chicharong Bulaklak is a common street food enjoyed by many, but I'm not used to eating this coz of the unpleasant smell and the thought that any moment I might get a heart attack due to high cholesterol consumption, hehe.  This one though doesn't smell, so crispy and really appetizing. I think what's missing now from our menu is a bottle of beer, lol. An order of this is worth 290 pesos.

Paku Salad

I didn't know that fern is actually edible, yeah this type of fern called Paku is edible and its not only edible, this paku salad tasted really good. It also got tomatoes, white onions and salted eggs in it with yummy vinegar dressing.


It didn't look like the usual Morcon that's being served during special holidays by our moms but it certainly looks delish. A popular fiesta food among Pinoys that is of Spanish influence but their version is made of ground pork instead of beef, with chorizo bits and tasted very rich and juicy.

We also had ampalaya with scrambled eggs but it tasted very bitter for my palate and so I didn't finish my share.

We missed the chance to finally try their famous stuffed frog since its not available that day.

For a group of 5 1/2, the 1/2 being my 5 yr old niece who finished her rice with just the bulalo soup (kuntento na sya ;-)) our total meal cost around 1,200 pesos or roughly 220 pesos per head. Well, Id say for the gastronomical adventure we did enjoy, 220 is not bad. The other group of 6 who joined us probably spent a bit more.

The whole experience was a lot of fun, a first for each one of us, laughing and giggling while trying each meal most especially the bizaare looking crickets and sporting a full tummy and a new found fondness for Kapampangan cuisine.

Unit 105-106 BPI Arcade, Nepo Mart Angeles, Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines
Phone:(045) 887 0361

Our next stop  SUSIE's CUISINE  (on my next post)  ..............

Mar 3, 2013

The Hot Air Balloon Festival, Clark, Pampanga

Waking up as early as 3am in order to leave by 4am to catch the 5:30am launch flight of the hot air balloons is really difficult for a night owl like me who usually sleeps at 2am. That's the reason why it took me the 18th year to finally check out  the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival at the Clark Field, Angeles, Pampanga.

We were already within the parking area when we saw the first balloon took off and walked quite far to reach the main venue.
Hot Air Balloon Festival
a long walk to reach the venue
It was already jampacked by 6am and all eyes were turned upward when hot air balloons started taking off  one by one.

18th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
the camping grounds
Most of them who came to watch were prepared. I was planning to bring things as well but failed to do so because the whole week is quite busy for me and the night following the event just managed to sleep for an hour, showered and grabbed my work bag (meaning I wasn't able to sort my things) and my camera then took off and just relied on my companions to at least bring some essentials.

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival
up up and away

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival
the elephant balloon
18th Hot Air Balloon Festival
the sun balloon
This sun balloon failed to take off and probably the culprit why at 8 in the morning, it was so damned hot already. ;)

Anyway, I realized its always best to come prepared for outdoor events like this especially if you intend to watch the whole program from sunset to sundown. My tent would have been most useful had I brought it. Can't help but envy those people who came ready with their picnic baskets, coolers, mats, covers and such. Although there were many vendors selling food and drinks and some essentials, it's always cost effective if you know how to make the most of what you already have. Well, next time! ;-)

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival
the group
We had to buy a mat from one of the stalls here, so we can lie down, relax and enjoy the show. I wouldn't want to miss the Breitling Jet Team strut off their flying prowess.

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival
Awesome Breitling Jet Team
light aircraft / gliders
I would love to one day ride this glider with Christian Grey on the pilot seat (ok in my dreams, lol)!

It's getting hotter by the minute and we decided to cool down and explore Clark. It's only 9am by the way, and we have enough time left before going back here again to catch the night glow and the concert.

Going out of the Omni Aviation Field is a tortured long walk back to our vehicle. I hope next time they can find a way to make the parking more accessible to the venue. Just see how awful we look after that sweaty 15 mins walk.

Our first stop, Fontana Resort Villas. A friend of my cousin is at that time billeted at one of the expensive Villas of Fontana and they invited us over. It's a perfect time to freshen up and chill for a moment.

Well, I think I finally look refreshed here, though I'm such a bummer and didn't  bring an extra shirt, while all the rest had time to change clothes and some dipped on the pool.

After 2 hours, we had to figure out where to eat and my googling lead me to this eatery offering authentic Kapampangan cuisine. It's located outside Clark freeport and right in the heart of traffic
 and crowded Angeles City. It was our first time driving around Angeles and so we had to stop 
and ask for directions most of the time. We were already getting uneasy with all the traffic 
and commotion on the road and wanted to retreat back but I insisted and thinking silently, 
these better be good or else I'll get the ire of those following us behind on another car.

Here's the place, Everybody's Cafe located at Nepomart.  My food review is here
I'm just glad I insisted we eat here.
18th Hot Air Balloon Festival
Everybody's Cafe
Afterwards, a short walk away lead us to Susie's Cuisine, where we enjoyed a glass of yummy halo halo and some yummy kakanin and also brought some pasalubongs from here. My detailed review to follow soon.

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival
Susie's Cuisine
By 2 pm, we've accomplished a lot and our tummys had a gastronomic adventure of their life ^_^. It was  still hot to get back to the Hot Air Balloon Festival venue, so we roamed around and check the Duty Free Shops that abound.

We got back at around 4pm and the weather is a lot better, windy and no more sun rays. We had the time to check the light aircrafts on display.

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival

And then waited for the sunset while watching the paragliding exhibition.

18th Hot Air Balloon Festival

We stayed till 8pm and was able to catch the first part of the concert and only saw 2 hot air balloons being set up for night glow. I heard more balloons glowed later that night.

18th Hot Air Balloon
night glow
I was dead tired when I got home by 11pm and surprised to wake up realizing I wasn't able to wash up and change clothes before going to sleep, hahaha, bummer!

Anyway, the experience was all worth it, accomplished a lot in one day.

And to top it all,  my niece, my little arf arf, despite the long walk and the exhaustion and the numerous activities we had, never once complained, acted grumpy and requested to be carried. She was a real trouper the whole time like most of us and as such deserves a ride on my own version of hot air balloon :-))


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