5/29/2017

HAKUPAN ISLAND - Another Beach Getaway Destination in STA CRUZ, MARINDUQUE

During my stay at Sta Cruz, Marinduque, we really wanted to make the most of our holidays. I was told that there is one island not far from the town of Sta Cruz that is becoming popular amongst tourists and that is the HAKUPAN ISLAND. 

So with the collaboration of the Tourism Office and the Municipality of Sta Cruz, Marinduque, we immediately left for BARANGAY BOTILAO. A very quiet barangay and also the jump off site going to Hakupan Island.

Driving down to Barangay Batulao was quite a picturesque experience because of the small beautiful islands that can be seen on the horizon. 


With the coordination of local Barangay officials, a few meters walk would take to you this small and quaint port area where our boat was waiting to take us to Hakupan Island. Around it as well were mangrove forests where crabs can be found. 





The trip to Hakupan only took us approximately 20 minutes. The water was calm that morning and the thankful about the good weather. We just couldn't wait to swim! 


As we are neared the island, the white sand dazzled on the horizon and our excitement built even more. 


As we drew closer to the island, the heat was unbearable already and it was nice to see shady huts available for rent. 


The water is very clear at Hakupan Beach. On the other side of the beach, you will also find coral reefs and a variety of fish making it an ideal spot for snorkeling.   A stretch of sandbar also sticks out of Hakupan Island and was one my favorite swimming spots on the beach. 


Because it's gaining popularity and demand, locals started building huts at a very affordable price. I forgot how much it cost us but it was not too much. Tuck shops are also available on the island just in case you need something else. 


While waiting for our lunch to be served. I walked around and swam for a bit. I really have a strong feeling that more and more people are going to visit this place and I hope that they could keep this island clean. 


During our visit, the water was so calm , the place was so quiet, the beach was so white and clean, and for me, that was total relaxation! 


Before you leave the island, do not forget to support the locals and buy some local key rings as a souvenir.



During this trip, I was also joined by my fellow explorers JJ Pimpinio and Bing Daza. It was a morning well spent and Hakupan Island didn't disappoint us. I will definitely come back to Hakupan Island! 

Thank you to Sta Cruz Tourism Office and also the Municipality of Sta Cruz, Marinduque for making this trip possible for us. 

For updates and other information, you may also check out the Facebook page of the Tourism office: REDiscoverSTACRUZ







Exploring LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR in Bagac, Bataan

Aside from the beautiful beaches and other historical places in Bataan, there is one place in Bagac, Bataan that has really interested me and I have been wanting to go for a visit. Luckily, I had some visitors who arrived from overseas and I told them with no hesitation that I would like to take them to LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR


Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar is a 100 acre heritage park where several Spanish-Filipino colonial structures from all over the country have been well restored and constructed to their original pristine beauty for the people to see and appreciate. 

At Las Casas, tourists can have the option to stay in one of these heritage houses or they can go for a HERITAGE DAY TOUR for  Php 1500.00 where you can stroll around the heritage houses and listen to the very interesting stories that lie behind the walls of these heritage houses. 

These pillars are just so beautiful to  look at I could just imagined how Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar would look like at night. 





Just by looking at the map, you can already tell that this is a big place and there is so much to see and activities you can do.



Upon entering Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, you will definitely have a feeling of what it was like in the old days in the Philippines. These restored houses are just so stunning!



Las Casas is also situated next to a beach so if you are going on a day tour, you can also go and swim at the beach after the tour. Tourists can also have the option to go on boat cruise for a fee if they want to take a canal tour of the heritage houses.





If you want to go around Las Casas there are so many options. You can either catch a scheduled jeepney and tram ride which would take you around interesting places. You can also hire a Kalesa or a golf cart if you want to go on a more private tour. 



For those who wish to stay at Las Casas, this is a preview of what your room would look like. The room was so spacious and  and cozy. We were even told that the walls are manually hand painted by their in-house artists. 



The restored houses all came from different places across the Philippines and have been restored back to their former glory. We were really stunned by the architecture of these houses. 



The area is intersected by a number of charming canals that made me remember the time we explored Venice, Italy last 2016. It was a very picturesque landscape and all we could say during our walk was  wow! 



During our tour, we were guided by a very well spoken Dexter Manansala who was so well informed about the history of each of the houses and guided us through the beautiful heritage houses in the park. 



The beautiful (Venice Like) canals at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar. 







Aside from providing accommodation to tourists,  if you are looking for a different vibe for your events or parties like weddings, debut, or any celebration,  you can also hire some parts of the Las Casas like this one.





Just before we headed for lunch, our guide took us to two rooms that  left us speechless. This room below again has manually hand painted design walls by their artists. The rooms here were all spacious and so elegant. And with this room, you also you have own classy infinity pool. I would love to get into this pool one day!







The 3rd room that we visited was very glamorous and interesting and I  considered it my personal favorite. In this room which is good for four, everything is shared. There are two queen size beds but there are no bedrooms. Everything else is open like toilet and baths. Now, that sounds like good fun to me! 






Continue with your glam lifestyle with these Hermes Toiletries which are only available in this room.



One of my most favorite structures in Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar is their convention center which is called HOTEL DE ORIENTE which was used during the APEC Summit held last 2015. What makes this convention hall so unique, aside from it's architecture, was the attention to detail. 


TO GET INSIDE: There is an additional fee of Php 200.00 


Once you enter this convention center, you will see pieces of wood handcrafted to perfection. 
 




Inside the hall, there's a definite European feel to it.. The pastel colors create such an elegant effect to the whole ambiance. Now, different concerts and other performances are being held in the Hotel De Oriente. 



 Las Casas also created a small museum remembering the bravery of our Filipino and American soldiers during the World War 2. 



At the end of our tour, we went to the cafeteria next to the swimming pool where we had  a local Filipino sweet delicacy. 


And a must try when you are in Bataan is an ice cream made out of TARO (Gabi) . The taste at first was a bit unusual but the blend of Vanilla and Taro does work well together. It was yummy! 


A visit to the Las Casas Filipinas was a dream come true for me. It was nice to see our heritage houses being restored back to their former glory and a living proof of the beautiful past of our country.  

I never thought I would be able to get to this place and I would like to thank Bataan Tourism Center for giving us the opportunity to get to explore this place for at least a day. 



If you want to see more information such as events and promos, you may visit their 
website: 


or their Facebook page: 


CONTACT INFORMATION: 

Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar
Brgy. Ibaba, Bagac, Bataan
2107, Philippines

Landline:
 (+632) 332-5286 
(+632) 877-4501 
(+632) 332-5338 
(+632) 355-3032

Mobile: 
0917-872-9361

Front Desk Mobile: 
0917-537-8418 (Sundays & Holidays only)


5/17/2017

3 Most Recommended and Affordable Places to Eat in Bataan

Aside from the historical places you will find in the Province of Bataan, this province is also rich in culinary delights that are only found here! During our recent trip in Bataan where we attended the 7th Araw ng Kagitingan, they took us to the most recommended places to eat around Bataan. Aside from all being delicious, they were also very affordable. 

1. IMA FLORA'S PAMANGAN RESTAURANT - Pilar, Bataan
Address: Gov. J.J. Linao AlaUli, Pilar, Bataan
Phone Number: 0998 564 0275
Open: 7:00 am - 10:00 pm

If you are looking for a  great place to eat lunch, head to Pilar! This restaurant is one of the most visited restaurants in the area. If you love home cooked meals then this is the place to go. Right after attending the Araw ng Kagitingan at Mt. Samat, this was the place where they took us for lunch. 


When we arrived, it was so evident that this place is always busy and popular not just frequented by the tourists but also patronized by the locals. The restaurant also has wi-fi connection and, thank goodness, this place is fully air-conditioned so the diners could eat and enjoy their food in comfort. 


Aside from serving native Filipino dishes, Ima Flora's Pamangan also serves your favorite Kapamnganan dishes which they are known for and  that you would surely love. 


Aside from the delicious food being served here, one factor that encourages people to come here is the affordability of their food. For the buffet price of Php 200.00, you can enjoy the different local and Kapampangan food  which will make you come back for more. 
  
Photo Courtesy: http://www.gusvilla.com/
Ima Flora's Pamangan is also the right place if you are looking for pasalubong or treats to take back home with you. 



At the end of our feast, we also had the privilege to meet the owner of the restaurant, Mam Ima (the one in black) herself during our time of visit. It was a fun start to the afternoon, especially after that satisfying buffet lunch we had at Ima Flora's Pamangan.  



2. CHOCO LATE DE BATIROL - Pilar, Bataan 
Address:Total Gas Station, Roman Super Highway, Alauli, Pilar, Bataan
Phone Number: +639228882873 / 0476331445
Open: 6:00 am - 11:30 pm

You think only Baguio has Choco Late De Batirol? Well, Bataan has one! Also located in Pilar and basically right across from Ima Flora's Pamangan restaurant. If you are craving for a real chocolate drink made from local home grown cacao beans then you have to visit this place. 



They also have local produce for sale in the restaurant. 



As mentioned earlier, this famous chocolate drink is made from 100% local home grown cacao beans. After drying the beans, they turn them into a chocolate powder. 


While waiting for our chocolate drink, I watched the guy who was preparing it. First they boiled the cocoa powder for a long time and put the chocolate into this metallic pitcher and then stir the chocolate using this wooden tool which is commonly called a BATIROL.  




It was thick, it was pure, it was flavorful, and it was one of the best chocolate drinks I've  had for such a long time. It is also best to match your drink with local sweet delicacies available at the Choco Late De Batirol.

Oh! The cafe also serves cold chocolate drinks only if you prefer something similar to frappe. I also heard that this cafe is going to change it's name but remain at the same location. 



So if you are in Bataan and craving for a real chocolate drink, Choco Late de Batirol in Pilar is No. 1 on my list! 


3. THE FOOD PROJECT - Orion, Bataan
Address: Balagtas, Orion, Bataan
Phone Number(04761) 21647
Open: 3:00 pm - 10:00 pm

On our last evening in Bataan, they took us to one of the coolest and hippest place  in Bataan and that is The Food Project. After witnessing the Grand Fireworks Show, we all felt a craving for good food again and so they took us to The Food Project. 




I like how open the place is and the ambiance was quite good. I also admired the little touches and decor hanging on the walls. It really is a cool place and it is trying to make a statement to the people why you should come and dine here.  Of course, their food is something that you must try! 

Photo Courtesy: http://www.gusvilla.com/

Again when I say affordable, literally it was very affordable! At The Food Project you can enjoy a fusion of different cuisines for the price of less than a Php 100.00. Because I was so overwhelmed, I had to their their best seller which is the BABY BACK RIBS! Yipeee! 





While waiting for my ribs, we ordered some Nachos for starters. They were delicious and the servings was very generous. In only a few seconds...Nachos gone! Yum!


Nacho Fries! 



Another must try is the Salisbury Steak! 



And finally, my baby back ribs arrived and I am telling you, it was one of the best ribs I've tasted. It is well seasoned, it was so tender and the meat just fell off the bones. The sauce was flavorful too. It was divine!




As for my drink, I ordered for my favorite Salted Caramel Frappe 


A better way to finish your dinner is by ordering this Chips Ahoy ice cream sandwich as your dessert. 




After an amazing night at The Food Project, the owners showed up to say hello and I couldn't stop myself from commending them for their delicious food and the great service we had experienced in their restaurant.

They may not be the only affordable places to eat in Bataan, but I can assure you, they have one of the best selection of meals in Bataan!




Aside from the beautiful scenery, beaches and rich historical background of the province of Bataan, food tripping is something you must also try and explore in this province. I would personally like to thank Bataan Tourism for showing us these amazing places. I also learned from this visit that you can enjoy good food and it doesn't need to be that expensive. You just have to come to Bataan and try the variety for yourself!