I cannot attest whether the stomach is the best way to a man’s heart or not. I believe that food is not only a basic human need, it nourishes, eases the discomfort caused by hunger – and stress (that is unhealthy though) – and brings people together.
Food in the Philippines is a fusion of different flavors and influences. I have foreign friends and acquaintances who find Filipino cuisine unique in some ways and how ingenious we are in preparing meals and snacks. We use vinegar in cooking, which is not common in other countries. We eat cashew leaves, bamboo shoots, balut, among others. Nevertheless, similar to other cultures in the world, we have food meant only to be eaten in certain occasions, we prepare food based on tradition and belief, and we have techniques that are passed on from one generation to the next.
Food is good. I love eating, and food is best enjoyed free of charge. I rarely eat outside and when I do, it is more likely because it is free, cheap or it really is that good, or when I am really, really hungry – I am used to my mother’s cooking and somehow, the taste of home food is a standard measure. I dine out with friends and family. I eat street food, so I am not that fastidious in what I eat; unless, of course, if you will let me eat something icky or what they call exotic. I am not a fan.
I am sharing some pictures of the food I have eaten so far, from Zambales and beyond, where I ate (or eat them) and some recommendations. I am not a critic, and my taste buds are not [yet] at par with anyone who has professional, discriminating taste.
Feast your eyes. These photos were taken using my Asus Zenfone Max.
Ben there, ate that. Eating at Ben’s Kitchen (Harbor Point, SBMA) is almost close to the feel of eating at a Yellow Cab. The restaurant offers a variety of pizzas, pastas, coffee and rice meals (not that Yellow Cab at all). Their nacho is really good, paired with their coffee selection.
Say cheese. The meaty and cheesy nachos at Ben’s Kitchen are tempting starters to a hearty two-thumbs-up meal.
Pasta la vista, baby. Ben’s Kitchen offers a variety of pasta entrees.
Pizzarap. Need I say more?
Bulalo that sizzles. Yeah, you read it right. Bulalo World has sizzling bulalo, a fatty (you read that right again), spiced stew of beef with marrow, corn and bok choi . Yum.
Tukso, layuan mo ako (Temptation, go away). The sizzling bulalo up close.
Sweetness overload. This cooler is a very good recommendation this summer. Caleigh’s (Iba and Masinloc) is a place for Hello Kitty fans and a haven for those looking for sweet food and snacks. This one in this photo is the Chocolate Overload, which is worth every cent.
Chocolate is love. Cream, pretzels, choco sticks plus a chocolaty shake.
Hello, Food. This is a breakfast fit for a king. Start the day with this breakfast from Crimson Hotel Manila (Mandaluyong). The hotel offers sumptuous feast of Eastern and Western flavors. Here, you will see mami (noodles in beef broth, mixed with sliced carrots and cabbage, eggs and beef), slices of ham and salad, fruits and sandwiches. The variety of food that you can taste and the rich aroma plus the really warm ambience and hospitable staff makes the stay and dining experience worth the price.
Burp. One serving of an Inihaw Express (look for one at an SM food court) combo meal – combined food of two ulams (yeah, the ‘s’ is necessary) or more plus rice – means a full tummy. Here I have meat (pancit miki (I think)) + meat (nilagang baka) + grilled squid + rice + puto (a rice cake). The combination is a feast of Pinoy flavors in one serving.
Stop, in the name of chow. Riders can now have a short stop at Sto. Nino, Cabangan to dine. LC’s Stop and Chow is a restaurant for hungry travelers. Here, I have pancit (a typical Filipino food of sautéed noodles, vegetables and meat), lumpia (fried Chinese rolls), and halo-halo (a sweet and creamy summer cooler).
Baby, it’s NOT cold outside. It really isn’t. The summer heat is already here and what better way to ease the discomfort but to enjoy these cool summer favorites (Halo-halo and Crema de Leche) at Mang Inasal.
PM mo… PM ko… PM is the code used in the meals served at Mang Inasal. Chicken Inasal (grilled chicken) is a juicy fare and its goodness should be enjoyed in a dip of mixture of soy sauce, calamansi and chilies. Remember to wash your hands and dig in.
Kuya, pengeng sabaw (Kuya, soup please). Not your typical “sabaw” (broth), Mang Inasal’s sinigang is not your average free soup. The sour soup (sinigang) has that flavorful tamarind taste that goes well with the inasal (grilled chicken). If you plan to eat at Mang Inasal (Iba Town Center, Subic and many in Olongapo), do not just ask for extra rice, ask for sabaw.
Ready? Check. Placemat? Check. Utensils? Check… while waiting for the tasty chicken at Max’s Restaurant (Olongapo City). Their fried chicken is a killer (in my opinion) and their baked goodies are really delectable.
Yum, yum, yum, yum. Let’s eat.
Extra rice. You probably know what these are for.
Street food up a notch. These aren’t your typical street food; these are PotDog (Iba Town Center and other malls) treats that will surely make you define street food to a whole new level. They also have rice, so if you are that hungry (I mean that), you can opt for rice.
Saucy not sosy. PotDog is not sosy (sosyal in Filipino, which can mean expensive). You can share it with your friends to cut the cost and the food is really worth the money. By the way, their sauce is also good: just the right blend of sweet, sour and spicy.
Eat your veggies. Beef broccoli is one of the favorites at Regz Noodle House. However, if you are more into the typical Filipino fare, you will not be disappointed.
Sinful sisig. The crispy and sizzling (and fat-rich) at Regz Noodle House (Iba, Zambales) is typically a pulutan (dish served with alcoholic drinks) and not a side dish. That is not the only food you have to try there though. They have lomi that is not only cheap – that’s right – but is also awesomely delectable.
Daing to eat a hearty Pinoy almusal. This is a typical Pinoy breakfast less the kamatis (tomato) – daing na bangus (dried milkfish; garlic rice; sunny side up; and atsara (pickled papaya). This was the breakfast that I had at Robbinsdale Hotel (Manila) for two days. One may opt for sausage though. The food is served with vinegar with spices (but I really prefer kamatis and bagoong) and coffee.
Tea time. If you prefer, you may opt for tea instead of coffee.
Spice up your life. Pasta with a zest of chili and meaty and flavorful sauce may be all the comfort food you need. This spaghetti from Roberto’s (Iba) could be the one for you. Best served with steak and chicken, this really is an appetizing treat to light you up.
What do you call this? The mouthwatering spaghetti from Roberto’s up close.
Oishi. We feasted on the fish and fries while waiting for our steak.
Show me siomai. Best served hot, siomai (a steamed dumpling with meat or fish filling), is an instant snack to ease one’s hunger for something spicy, salty and with citrusy, sour taste. Siomai House (Iba Town Center) is one of the options. If you are not picky, you can go for the ones sold at rolling stores, which are not only cheap but are also delish.
Summer’s in; bring out the ice cream. TCT Emily’s (Cabangan, Zambales) sell ice creams and other summer coolers but that is not the only ones you should order. The eatery offers other Pinoy favorites, including pinapaitan, dinuguan, puto, pansit (which, I can say, is really savory) and maja blanca.
A little Japanese-y. The shrimp teriyaki with calamares (squid) I ate at a mall in Manila.
Sandwiched. A tuna sandwich and cinnamon roll from Via Mare (Manila) is a sure winner. The smooth, rich blend of the tuna spread goes well with the roll.
Which should I eat first? These sweets from Via Mare are irresistibly good.
Being busy at work does not mean not getting the time to have a refresher. Work and work without enjoying the fruits of one’s labor is dull. Taking some time off from work and busy daily routines to breath and smell the roses is not wasting time — it is finding time to rejuvenate from all the stress and worries. It is seeking adventure. It is finding peace and happiness.
I am not a pro when it comes to taking photos but here are some of the photos I have taken so far. I hope you will enjoy seeing the photos as much as I have taken them. Good day to all!
Part of my work is to assist in the conduct of seminars, meetings and trainings. This gives me an opportunity to go places, learn, share ideas and be inspired of what I am going to write next. More than a month ago, we visited Ramon Magsaysay Technological University’s Candelaria Campus, formerly known as Candelaria School of Fisheries.
After the meeting, I had an opportunity to walk around the campus (the part that RMTU owns). It is small. There are asphalt stone paths as well as covered walkways leading to the key buildings. It is far from the town proper and took us about five minutes from the highway to the campus by car.
The ambiance in the campus is backward. It has that provincial feel (the characteristic is colloquially referred to as “promdi” derived from the phrase “from the province”).
Biking at Cabangan? Why not try the “Pier”? Or if you are looking for a place to enjoy the sea and take photos, the place is surely worth visiting.
The post-Holiday season in Zambales means cold evenings and warm days although there are still chances for storms and rains. While the water is chilly and the winds can be strong, many people choose to spend time in the province not only because of its accessibility or affordability but also of its laid back charm and hospitable people.
Last year, I started this blog with many things in mind, one of which is to let other people know of the wonders of Zambales. So far, after writing a few articles (which by far is less than once a month in average and I am thanking you right now for reading), I am back to feature Cabangan.
Cabangan is a town almost at the center of the province. It is a small municipality, which is (by bus) about an hour and 45 minutes away from Olongapo City and almost 45 minutes away from Iba, the capital of Zambales.
Similar to the other towns in Zambales, Cabangan is a destinationfor beach lovers. Resorts are only a few minutes away from the highway and amenities are good as well as affordable. However if you are on a tight budget, there are beach fronts open to the public.
The road can be very scary. I have been commuting to work every single day and recently, I have passed by and saw what’s left of vehicular accidents. Trucks, vans – you name it.
Unfortunately, although I have not known the fate of the driver nor the passengers of those accidents, I know how scary it is to be in an accident. Years ago, we were riding a minibus when it we heard a loud explosion that came from the blown tire of the bus. The bus was fast, crossed the middle of the road, went to the slope side of the highway, hit a tree and fell on its side.
It was traumatic. People died and many were injured, including my father and I.
The reason for this crash: the driver over sped when a public utility jeep passed it by.
Most roads in Zambales do not have sufficient traffic signs and signals similar to that of other progressive provinces in the Philippines. Even if there are more, accidents can happen anytime and no amount of caution can guarantee that all motorists follow best practices while driving.
Hot, dry and dusty like a desert. This is what to expect when you plan on going to Bucao River during the summer season in Zambales. While the Mt. Pinatubo, Lady of Poonbato, ‘Domorokdok’ Festival and their beach resorts may be the most popular reasons to visit the town, you may want to consider checking out their waterfalls, try hiking, or visiting historic sites, such as their Catholic church.
Every day, I commute to work and one of the rivers I pass by is the Bucao River. Its bridge, one of the longest in Zambales, collapsed after a strong typhoon hit the province a few years ago, which, sadly, also destroyed roads, facilities and other infrastructures. Today, another bridge was built but a section of the old one is still standing, reminding the people of the devastation.
Now, back to the present, there are some things to remember when crossing the Bucao Bridge.
Hectic – that is the single word that explains the first quarter of my year. I am a workaholic but this first quarter had been the most busiest first quarter I have had at work. In the previous companies I have worked at, there had not been the same amount of headaches, deadlines and calculations (read: taxation and statistics) to be done.
This job topped those two others plus the on-the-job training I have had.
So when a friend asked me to go to the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy on a weekend, which was within the celebration of Zambales Dinamulag Mango Festival, I immediately grabbed the opportunity to enjoy the weekend (meaning no overtime falling in a weekend) for a bit.
The invitation was for an Observation Tour at the PMMA. The activity was part of the Mango Festival, which is an annual event (April 25) in Zambales that celebrates the harvest of its main fruit product, the Dinamulag Mango, also known as ‘Kinalabaw na Mangga’ (Carabao Mango). The said variety is known as the sweetest mango in the world.
It was a hot sunny day. Summer in Zambales has always been about hitting the beach, or any places where one can bask under the sun and swim. To be different and in support to local tourism, the PMMA opened its doors to local and foreign tourists. Part of the tour is the silent drill performed by batch 2015.
The students are the epitome of the core values of PMMA: “Kawastuhan,” Kababaang Loob,” and “Kagitingan” [Righteousness, Humility, and Valiance (Integrity)].There is no wonder that many people look upon PMMA graduates with high respect and regards.
The 2014 Central Luzon Regional Athletics Association Meet has already ended as of writing this article, however, it is pleasing to know that the province of Zambales, particularly in Iba, which was the venue of most of the contests, had once again hosted the sports event.
Although CLRAA Meet is all about friendly athletic competition and display of sportsmanship, the event also gave local businessmen and school districts an opportunity to participate in a bazaar. This year, many teachers contributed to the event not only as coaches but also as merchants and promoters of the local products found in each municipality in the province.
In Zambales, many people look forward to the Yuletide season. The province is home to creative and resourceful people and throughout the year, these attributes are showcased in many occasions, such as Christmas and festivities.
Of the towns, Cabangan, Zambales is one of the places worth visiting during the Holidays. Many people are excited every first of December because it beckons the lighting of the gigantic Christmas tree in front of the municipal hall.
The giant tree.
The view from the top of the municipal hall.
A man who is working on the Christmas Tree and Lights passes by . The Municipal Hall has a front yard that has been used for different activities.
In the morning, the Nativity Scene looks flat against the sky, but once night falls in, that changes.
Cabangan Municipal Hall
Cabangan Municipal Hall is a unique landmark in Zambales because of its architecture. Aside from its V-shaped main building, the infrastructure has an elevated driveway leading to the main entrance.
If there are any places where Christmas is a big deal, the Philippines is one of those. The Yuletide Season begins in the “-ber” months or September and ends in the celebration of the Three Kings, which is days after the New Year.
It is beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas everywhere. Festive lights, colorful lanterns are displayed in many houses, along the streets and other public places, and joyous carols are filling the air.
Fortunately, in Zambales, there are lots of wonderful places to see during the long Christmas Season.
The last time my friends and I passed by the Zambales Sports Complex, its main building, called Balin Zambali (not pronounced as Bali that of Indonesia), has been decorated with colorful and lively Christmas lights and being prepared for an upcoming regional sports event, which is either CLRAA or SCUAA.
The sports complex is located right beside Zambales National High School. It has a stadium, a gymnasium (which houses the basketball court), a pool, tennis courts, track, a football field, and volleyball courts. The complex had been used in different local, regional and national events, and had been hosting regional athletics meets consecutively.
Its prominent building is its dormitory, Balin Zambali, which in local dialect means Zambales House (coarsely translated). The infrastructure has a front grass lawn, with palm trees and some plants, and outdoor chairs. It has a stone path leading to the main entrance of the building (I never get to see inside, but I’ll try next time). It has three main colors, following the Philippine flag’s palette — red white and blue. Continue reading ‘Balin Zambali’ is a Christmas Sight to See→