Discovery Shores Boracay

this feels weird. can't seem to get the first sentences out after being away from blogging for so long. i'm ningas cogon personified. after starting the year with eight blog entries, eclipsing my total for the entire 2008, i hibernated for 6 months and now this.

let me borrow a quote from Michael Jordan "I'm Back!". i remember when he said it, the whole world rejoiced. with my version of "I'm Back!", i doubt anybody would notice and some may even shout back "Who Cares?".

anyway, putting those first sentences to rest, i wanna share my latest travel to Boracay last June 14-17, 2009. my first post for this series would be as you now know by the title, The Discovery Shores of Boracay, truly a destination of its own in this island paradise.

Baguio City: Tam-awan Village

Tam-awan Village has already been in my radar for years now. i saw it on the boob tube many times over and in publications a couple more. It has always tickled my curiousity bones and so i wouldn't pass up this chance of visiting this artist haven in Baguio.

Not many people know that Baguio is an artist's haven. The more popular ones who called Baguio home are of course BenCab and Kidlat Tahimik. Another artist, with performance as medium, was Rolando Villanueva or more popularly known as the Showman Shaman. I remember watching him over Living Asia Channel performing some weird dance that my mind can't really grasp but i also remember tuning in till the program finished. maybe that's what made him an artist, even when one can't grasp on his performance he still got your attention.

Tagaytay Weekend: Breakfast at Antonio's

over the weekend i went to Tagaytay City with our Thailand Trip travelmates together with our respective kids.

i saw our the itinerary prior to the trip and it included dining at one of the branches of Antonio's.

i've been to Tagaytay numerous times, being so conveniently close to Manila, but never got to try this very well-recommended restaurant called Antonio's. i've passed this up way too often before so i'm going to make sure i do this time.

maybe the real reason i've always wanted to try out this restaurant is my affinity to the name. from my earliest recollection i've already been introduced to it, it being my father's name. then when i finally had my own child, i named him after his grandfather, so my son's full name is Jaden Antonio.

here i added a piece of jaden's name to antonio's signage.

this is the main dining area of Antonio's since it the biggest. even saw Nadine Samonte here with her date. man, she's skinny. hahaha

here's another dining area which is more private and is very appropriate for a big intimate family dining experience.

here's the window scene of the same room, perfect for that intimate date. if she's not your girl yet then bring her here and it's a guarantee she'll be your girl before the meal ends. if she's your girl already, bring her here and propose and she'll surely say yes.

here's another dining area by the koi pond. it is the only outdoorsy-feel of the four dining areas.

here's another shot of the main dining area. there's another dining area after the stairs, a little secluded and doesn't have those ambiance as the other three.

here's the main staircase to access all four dining areas.

the waiting area was very homey and comfy.

in front of the main door. it turns out two Antonio's were now incorporated into one. we were looking for the old Breakfast at Antonio's but were told that they are now housed under one roof.

Antonio's Restaurant is newly renovated to accomodate the previous Breakfast at Antonio's theme of white-colored interiors. i think on a business standpoint it really was a good move, lowering overhead cost significantly.

this scene reminded me of a Shakespeare novel, Romeo and Juliet, only with DSLRs.

looking at the old Antonio's restaurant pics, they managed to re-use this interesting artwork. it can be seen at the waiting area upon entering the main door.

good thing we really dined here. the koi pond made it worth it since my son can't get enough of it because of his fondness to any kind of fish.

the koi fish here were huge and very colorful.

you can always ask the waiters for fishfood so you could feed them.

make sure you don't leave your children alone to avoid falling in.

mom and son enjoying the experience.

jaden had the best seat (table) in the house.

we arrived around 3:30pm so we can avoid the crowd but guess what, the restaurant was full even that late. we were told breakfast menu was only available till 4:00pm so we hurriedly ordered since the breakfast menu was the most affordable.

our tab was Php900 for 3 persons without drinks. average meal is around Php 350 for a basic breakfast meal.

i'll try saving up php3,800 for that set meal at Antonio's restaurant and maybe get to be seated in the bigger dining areas.

Baguio City: Mines View Park

Mines View Park remains one of the most visited tourist spots in Baguio City. It offers a spectacular view of Benguet's gold and copper mines and the surrounding mountains.

It's one of the must-visits no matter how often you've been to the City of Pines. So we headed off to this secluded part of the city.

One way of avoiding the traffic jam and the lack of ample parking in the area is to drive through Gibraltar Road and vist the Good Shepherd Convent for some actual or disguised shopping and parking your car inside the convent compound then walk the street connecting the convent and the park. It's about a 200 meter walk from the convent, one way to burn some calories given the limited fats burned due to the cold weather.

if you're not much a fan of the sun, you can enjoy the view from this roofed observation deck. it is also much safer here.

but staying in the roofed area will deny you the chance to have your photos taken along the railings with the spectacular view as background.
i always love shooting kids enjoying nature. it's always nice knowing at such a young age they already appreciate God's artwork. i'm sure they are future bloggers in the making.

here's how much a photo with the Igorots would cost. It's really not much, more of a donation really if you think about it. i regret not taking my photos with them. it's not everyday that you get to meet a genuine Igorot in the metro. Balikbayans should make this a must-do coz aside from earning some bragging rights with their friends back at their adoptive countries, it's also a nice way to give back for their good fortunes abroad.

Authentic colorful ifugao headdress.

this guy had a field day having his photo taken in a costume and with an Igorot tribesman.

i'm not sure how much he paid for it but i'm sure it was less than the supposed fee coz he might have sneaked some free shots out there without the Igorot really minding. i noticed the Igorots are just happy that people are still interested in having their photo taken with them. unlike at the Botanical Garden where the Igorots almost beg to have their photos taken (of course for a fee) but tourists just brush them aside. the thing is the foreign tourists are more gracious in turning down these kababayans of ours than we do.

GETTING ACROBATIC. this lady right here showing her good balance. being acrobatic is a must if you really want to get some spectacular photos.

whenever i see a foreigner enjoying the beauty of our country it always makes me feel a little prouder. however seeing his camera was another story, it made me feel a little more envious.

FOURSOME AWESOME. This foursome enjoying the awesome view.

The mines in the areas surrounding Mines View Park were formerly operated by Benguet Corporation. The mines have long been closed and nowadays, the only view you’ll see are extensive residential areas blanketing the valleys. Again a result of the over-population the city has been experiencing for some time now.

Some years back, this was where tourists would toss coins along the cliffs where waiting children and adults try to catch the tossed coins. it used to be a pretty scary sight. i remember experiencing it just once, which was during my first ever visit here. i remember thinking how incredible what they do, looking back it's another one of those things pinoys do i guess just to earn money for their daily living.
they were practically like spiderman crawling along the cliff, without any harness or safety equipment attached to it. i heard some have fallen to their deaths during those safety unconscious times. i'm sure the foreign tourists had a hand in making the local realize how unsafe the practice was.

another mistake i made. this was at the entrance going to the park. i presumed that having our photo taken here would cost us some. i already got the impression that everything is expensive here. well, while viewing the pics from my computer i noticed at the lower left a sign that says "PICTURE & THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATION". if only i asked around. i'm sure it would have been a nice to have our pics taken here.

wifey and jaden here with a spectacular background. if only jaden was looking at the camera.

POSE, SHOOT, VIEW. These three represent the different stages of digital photography. the foreground is shooting, the middle is busy viewing their takes, and the background subject happily posing ala WOW Philippines style.

the view that gets the attention of local and foreign tourists alike. i think the thick fogs had a hand in giving it a hue of blue.

wifey and jaden here amidst the many tourists that flocked that day.

EL CABALLERO. this pose cost us P50 but i didn't mind as long as jaden was cool with it. there's no horse-back riding here but it's a good place to have a souvenir photo with the beast.

the photo on the left cost us again another P50. the photo on the right . . . . . PRICELESS!

and of course as other tourist destinations around Baguio, Mines View Park has its own share of pasalubong stores leading to the viewing deck. i remember buying plants from here some visits back, one was a money tree supposedly a plant for good luck. i can't believe i fell for it.

if you're souvenir shopping, try to walk the side pathways coz the stalls are located along it. but if you're in a hurry, just try walking the middle grounds for a faster exit.
Mines View Park without the cliffhangers who catch tossed coins is not as exciting, but i'm sure much safer, as before. But even without it, the park still is a must-see for it still offers the same spectacular view with or without the cliffhangers. sometimes, the energy of the place is enough reason to enjoy it.

Baguio City: La Trinidad Strawberry Fields

i've always been curious about this strawberry fields whenever any person talks about it coming from Baguio. maybe because i've always associated the fruit to be an american thing.

i remember when i was first told that strawberries are grown in Baguio, i thought it was pretty cool stuff.

many may have been discouraged to go to La Trinidad for its strawberry fields, maybe they are misinformed thinking that since it's outside Baguio then it will take a while to get to the place. well La Trinidad is adjacent to the city so it wouldn't take that long to reach the place. in good traffic, maybe 20 minutes can get you there.

A statue of an Ifugao woman stands guard at the Welcome Arch of La Trinidad, the provincial capital of Benguet Province.

here's the plantation of the Strawberry Fields. i'm not quite sure if this is the only place where they grow the fruit. if it is then it is amazing 'coz it's really not that big a field and yet it may be the place where all the strawberries encountered in this country originates from.

the field is not purely for strawberries. they also grow these colorful flowers which i failed to ask what specie. help anyone?

family photo-op.

how commercialized has this place got? well maybe the sign will give you a hint. but you need not pay, i think it's more of a voluntary thing.

how abundant is the strawberry here in La Trinidad? well, our beloved taho here is in pink. pretty awesome tasting this variety and the manong magtataho will throw in around three berries in your taho for safety measures.

guess what? their dirty ice cream is also in pink.

here we are getting our hands full of the pink stuff. strawberry taho can be enjoyed even in Baguio so you get to enjoy the pink stuff even if you fail to come here at the strawberry fields.

get to enjoy the other varieties of this pink fruit, be it in its natural state, in its processed state as a jam, and for the more adventurous in its alcohol state (wine).

funny how the berries are sold cheaper when it's bought at the stalls than when you pick them up by yourself inside the fields. even the experience has a price. the price difference is about Php100 between the two.

being a tourist spot, all other pasalubong products of the province are in full display here. the brittle, the lengua, crinkles, jackets, broom, phallic ashtrays, trinkets and veggies are also sold here for a one-stop pasalubong experience.

be sure to come here early, around 7am-8am to avoid build up of crowds. make sure to make a u-turn first before parking so that you're faced going back the main road. when the crowd comes in with their vehicles, it will be quite hard for you to maneuver your way back.
when we returned here on our last day at around 11am, traffic stretched all the way to the main road so try to check it out earlier in the morning.
finally i got to experience La Trinidad. we bought a week's supply of the pink fruit and i think i should have bought more. Strawberries has very rich antioxidant properties so if the taste won't win you over, maybe the health benefits will.
Again, La Trinidad is not that far to Baguio so the next time you go up the Summer Capital, be sure to include this place in your itinerary.

the province really has a problem with garbage. hope they'll figure it out soon how to manage it.