Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kasagingan: Davao City

I am a fan of Banofie Pies, or Banana Cream Pies. Thus, I was excited when I was brought to Kasagingan in Davao City. Located along Torres St, Kasagingan turns out to be a favorite cafe as well, since there is free Wifi.

I like their Banana Cream Pies. The sweetness is just right, and the cream was smooth. I didn't like the crust however, I felt it wasn't firm enough.

I also had a Roast Beef Sandwich, which was really good. I wasn't expecting anything, so I guess I was happy with what they served. The beef was tender and the ciabatta bread was soft and tasty.

So, when in Davao, try out Kasagingan, perhaps the only banana specialized cafe in the country.

Alona Tropical Beach Resort, Panglao, Bohol

My choice of resort in Alona Beach has got to be Alona Tropical.

We spent a night in a fan room that was facing the beach for only P1,100. Yes, that was a prime beach front location. Its patio had a great view of Alona Beach.

Panglao has a lot of luxury and exclusive resorts like Eskaya, so Alona Tropical is a relatively inexpensive option. The aircon rooms range from P2,500 to P4,000, depending on the size.

We were really surprised that the fan rooms faced the beach. I was told that these three fan rooms were the first rooms of Alona Tropical, and had sentimental value already. But I also heard that they were tearing them down soon to give way to a Presidential Villa, complete with a private pool. I wanted to convince them not to destroy their old fan rooms, but business was still business.

What I liked about our bargain room is that we could use all the facilities. Alona Tropical had a huge pool, and landscaped gardens that made the resort so relaxing. But what I really liked about the resort was their friendly and attentive staff. They were so pleasant and accommodating, that they really made you feel at home. That's top notch service that deserves a huge unsolicited tip.

We took the ferry back to Cebu at 2PM. Our short trip to Bohol was a teaser indeed. I wanted to see more of the island, that already has a great tourism infrastructure. I applaud the government of Bohol for the booming tourism industry in the island. I just hope the they don't discount the responsibility that goes along with development.

Alona Beach, Panglao Island, Bohol

Alona beach is the premier beach destination in the famous Panglao Island of Bohol. Fine white powdery sand is matched with a chill out ambience that Alona is known for.

The water wasn't as clear, since the weather was quite disturbed. Nevertheless, Alona Beach had its fair share of visitors and bums.

Alona Beach stretches for about a kilometer. A lot of resorts with restaurants and bars dot the shore, similar to Boracay. There are also more resorts and restaurants inland, like the famous Bohol Bee Farm, around 1 km away. Though it can't be helped that Alona is compared to Boracay, I conclude that Alona is more laid back and relaxed. Hence, there are really no loud parties left and right. There is a bar that plays dance music, but that's just it.

Alona is perfect for families, or couples who just want to spend a quiet time in a nice beach. Though there are more beaches in the Philippines that are better than Alona, its more structured tourism facilities draw the crowds.

Alona Beach looked like what I expected it to be. It was my type of developed beach destination. Not too crowded, but not at all empty. Alona struck a balance that is not found anywhere else in the country (except Coron perhaps). And that will make me come back for more.

The Loboc River and Tarsiers

We descended from the Chocolate Hills, and realized it was too late to tour the other attractions of Bohol. So, we tried our luck in seeing the tarsiers near the Loboc River.

When we arrived, the tarsier sanctuary was closed already, so we tried to talk to the caretakers to let us in for a while. We agreed to pay a higher than average price (P100) to have a glimpse of the world's smallest monkeys.

We were surprised that we were allowed to hold the tarsiers! I knew it wasn't allowed, but since we were a special case (meaning no other tourists), the caretakers let out the furry little creatures and let us take pictures of them while they were in our arms. We took so long taking pictures, and I guess some of the tarsiers got stressed. I was even bitten by one, but it was just a shallow bite.

The Loboc River was beautiful at dusk. It looked so mysterious and alluring. The sun has set, so we headed our way back to check-in in Alona Tropical Beach Resort in Panglao.

NOTE: On the way back, we passed by the Loboc River Park Entrance, hoping to just have a traditional Filipino dinner onboard a boat. We were amazed at how the Loboc River transformed into a wonderland with all the colorful lights that adorned its banks. However, it rained so hard all of a sudden, so we were forced to retreat to our van. So take note: the Loboc River is a whole new experience at night.

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol

When I wrote about the Chocolate Hills landing in the Forbes list of most astonishing landscapes, I was so eager to book a trip to Bohol. One day, while I was in Cebu, we spontaneously decided to spend a night in Bohol. We travelled via ferry at noontime, hoping to see the hills by 4PM. From the Tagbilaran port, we hired a van for P2,000 to take us around Bohol in the little time we had left.

The Chocolate Hills were our priority so we drove there instantly. It was also the furthest of the well known attractions in Bohol. We passed by the Baclayon Church, the Loboc River and the Tarsier sanctuary. We didn't stop though, and decided to just try our luck on our way back. We did stop to take a snapshot of the picturesque man-made forest (pic above).

I didn't expect anything great from the hills, because I knew the photo I saw in the Forbes list was enhanced already. I was in for a surprise. As soon as the first hills rolled out into the horizon, my eyes opened wide. The landscape reminded me of the karst hills of Guilin in China. Rice fields set against a backdrop of teardrop hills.

We arrived at the park entrance, where we paid a fee (I forgot how much, sorry). We raced up the steep steps to the viewpoint. The view was pleasant, as the plain fields were all bright green. The air got cooler, and slowly, the Chocolate Hills revealed its magnificence.

It had just rained, so there was a misty blanket enshrouding the tips of the hills. It was indeed an astonishing sight, thousands of uniform-sized brown hills, that stretches onto the horizon. I then realized the photo I saw in Forbes was not fake. One could really take a shot like that, probably during sunrise.

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol is indeed a wonder of nature, and for me, it should be listed as one of the best landscapes in the world. I was awed by the grandeur of the seemingly small hills. The Chocolate Hills of Bohol is a must-visit for all travellers from all around the world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Ferry To Bohol

I never thought getting into Bohol would be this easy. Sure, I've heard from most Cebuanos that it's just two hours away by boat. Some of my other friends say you can even do just a day trip to Bohol and be back in Cebu by night time.

Bohol has been an elusive destination for me. I've been meaning to go for so long. Unfortunately, all my planned trips to Bohol get messed up. So, one day, while in Cebu, we decided to be spontaneous and head for Bohol, just to spend one night. Our trip started by going to the Supercat terminal in Cebu (near SM City).

The ferry terminal was efficient, and had ample security. It actually felt like an old airport. There are 3 to 4 ferry companies going to Bohol, and Supercat is just one of them. I heard they have the best fleet. Weesam is the next best thing.

I was surprised to see a modern catamaran, much like the ones used in the Macau-HK link. And this one was quite new. We got business class tickets (P850 one way), because the economy seats (P500 one way) were sold out. So, as a tip, book your tickets in advance, especially on weekends. They also have a promo return fare for only P300. More detail and schedules can be found in their website,

And so this after an hour waiting (our ferry departed at 1:00 PM), we found our comfortable seats on the second level of the ferry. Safety videos were shown, and then the cabin crew offered us some snacks (for business class only). The ride was pretty smooth, and I instantly dozed off. I woke up with the catamaran slowing down, approaching the port of Tagbilaran in Bohol.

*The ferry to Bohol is a bit expensive, around P800 roundtrip for economy. You may want to check direct flights to Tagbiliran from Manila, though they usually cost more than flights from Cebu. Just do your math, and see where you can save more.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Club Serena: Bas Daku: Moalboal Series

Club Serena is probably the most upscale resort in Moalboal. It is located in Bas Daku, just 100 meters from Ravenala Resort (where I usually stay).

The place looks cozy, with the nice day beds scattered all across the resort. There are limited rooms, like 10 only, making it a quiet getaway.

Club Serena has a swimming pool, which accounts for the higher price. The pool looks so inviting in a hot day, or after swimming in the salty beach waters of Moalboal.

We happened to get into Club Serena because Ravenala had no more stocks for breakfast. So we had our morning brunch in Club Serena. The service took so long though, since there was only one wait staff to tend to all the guests. And the resort was full.

Club Serena has a clean beach front. We even spotted a boat named Karylle docking (hey, K, you have a boat here!)
Club Serena is a colorful resort, I guess with better room accommodations. We weren't able to check out the rooms, since they were all occupied. I heard that President GMA has stayed here.

I would still recommend Ravenala, but Club Serena is another option, only pricier. The rest of the resorts in Bas Daku are mostly run down concrete rooms and cottages. Only Ravenala and Club Serena has that resort ambience in the beach of Bas Daku in Moalboal.

That ends my Moalboal series. Up next are my entries for Bohol and Siargao (where I am currently writing this entry, on a hammock facing the beach...ahh...the life.)

The Kenneth Cobonpue Showroom

When a friend told me if I wanted to visit the Kenneth Cobonpue showroom, I became speechless for a moment. Afterwards, I burst out a grateful OF COURSE. Being an avid admirer of good furniture design, I always wanted to have a Cobonpue piece.

The showroom is located near SM City, on the road to Mango Avenue and near the burned down White Gold. It doesn't have a glaring sign, since the showroom is not open to the public. It is strictly by appointment only and they also pick who to get to go inside. Talk about being selective with clients. But it works for the Cobonpue brand, which has become world renowned already.

The showroom was a huge warehouse, and beside it, was where the magic happens - their production area. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, so I just hurried inside the showroom. I was like a little boy going in a huge toy store.

Kenneth Cobonpue has been featured in a lot of local and international magazines, and his works are published in design journals. His furniture are used in some Hollywood films Like Ocean's 13 and television series like CSI Miami. The worldwide acclaim has inspired a lot of other furniture designers in the country to follow his footsteps.

I was surprised that the pieces were actually not that expensive. Of course, still high priced, but I was expecting skyrocketing. The lamps were affordable, while the chairs are priced just like any other imported furniture from Europe. I fell in love with the lamp above so I didn't hesitate to purchase it for our Cebu office.

There are also some modern pieces, like this dining set-up. The cloud lamp can be seen in the SM Traveller's Lounge.

Cobonpue's works are mostly made of natural and indigenous materials. He likes to weave bamboo and abaca, to form brilliant and awe-inspiring pieces. I can say that his works are simple, but its that simplicity that makes his furniture refined.

You could easily guess a Cobonpue piece. A lot has tried to copy his designs, so all of his works are now patented for protection.

The showroom is huge, with indoor and outdoor set-ups. The red chair in the background is one of my favorites. It can be used in a dining table or as an accent chair both indoor and outdoor.

This living room set-up is my favorite amongst all. I love the dark rich brown colors mixed with aqua beach colors. I was shocked to know that the price of one of the sofas was more than P200,000. I was told that some pieces are expensive because of the material and manner of production.

I was given an overview on how the pieces were made, so I started to appreciate the steep prices. I realized what I was paying for, which tempted me to buy more pieces.

And since they are all locally made, I was supporting the Philippine furniture industry, which I think has so much potential. I hope to bid to organize the 2010 Cebu-X which is an annual showcase of fantastic furniture that are being exported.

Oh, this is Cobonpue for your dog.
And for your baby. Of course, this is the bed that Brad Pitt bought, and I think the crib for his son. I know nothing about showbiz.

So, I end my two hour long tour, courtesy of Ms. Daisy Flores, Marketing Manager in Kenneth Cobonpue and Hive. I wasn't able to meet the man himself, as he was in the States.

I am grateful for this experience, which made me more interested in furniture design. Who knows, I may be designing soon. I just need to learn how to draw.

CnT Lechon: Cebu

CnT Lechon needs no introduction. It is perhaps the most popular lechon pasalubong from Cebu. Their stall in SM City Cebu (below) is always packed.

CnT used to have a restaurant in front of SM that looked like a huge nipa hut. Now, they have transferred in a building just off the corner of their original location (still in front of SM Cebu, or back of Northwing side).

Their lechon goes out of stock in the late afternoon, so it's best to come early if you want to order. I have been eating here the past weeks at 5PM, and we always get the last pieces (which is not as tasty anymore).

The new CnT looks like a canteen and though is way bigger than its previous location, I like the original better.

CnT Lechon is one of the more popular lechon de cebu outlets. I have yet to taste more lechon here in Cebu.


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