Thursday, September 20, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Then off we proceeded to PAETE, the homeland of finest wood carvings and papier mache. Most wood products and other interesting handicrafts can be found within the Poblacion area. Almost all of them are sold in the local's own houses. We bought our kids a horse papier mache for only P60 (see photo below). We also noticed that they have started selling Christmas decors and other novelties. A small hanging Santa Claus costs around P170. Indeed, Christmas is just around the corner!
But aside from the predominance of religious artifacts and symbols, Paete is also home to sweet Lanzones (Lansium domesticum). The start of the ber months is the season for juicy, sweet fruits such as Lanzones and Rambutan. Apparently, the cost per kg of Lanzones is still quite high at P60 since the harvest season has just started. The best time to buy is around end September or early October. Not only the price will become lower but also the maturity of the fuit is just right and the sweetness is at its best.
Other equally fascinating towns close to Paete are PAKIL, PANGIL, SINILOAN and FAMY. However, we did not go to these places anymore. Instead, we decided to take the route back to Pagsanjan and head straight to MAGDALENA. This another countryside boasts of a magnificent church. There are very few things known about this town. In fact, I sensed a very simple life here. True enough, according to Wikipedia it was named as one of the cleanest, most beautiful and peaceful in the province.
From Magdalena, the road will lead you to either MAJAYJAY or LILIW. If you opted for the former, the natural wonder of Taytay Falls and the breathtaking sceneries from the bell tower of the town's church await you. But if you preferred Liliw, you're on your way to the shoe capital of the province. Lots and lots of shoes, sandals and bags are sold here at very affordable prices. You can get a good pair of shoes for less than 500 bucks (Php) and 3 for P100 slippers. Real good buy huh?! Good deals of Lanzones and Rambutan are likewise traded here in bulk (kaings). The same thing is being offered in the subsequent town, NAGCARLAN. This locality is also famed by its low prices of meats (pork, beef and carabeef). Residents of other towns normally flock to the Nagcarlan Market even at the crack of dawn for a great buy. It's also well noted for its growing candy industry. Oh, and another not to be missed spot here is the Underground Cemetery. Try to discover its own mystery. A small town of RIZAL comes next after Nagcarlan. However, there's not much to buzz about the town except that it was named after the Philippines National hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. So, off we went directly to my birthplace, SAN PABLO CITY, known to many as the City of 7 Lakes (Sampalok, Palakpakin, Yambo, Bunot, Pandin, Muhikap, and Calibato). I truly missed the heritage trail of these lakes. How I wish I could visit them all with my own family soon. I am proud of how San Pablo has become an attractive tourist destination nowadays. It’s no longer just home to coconut products and innovative jeepneys. There are new things to experience and savor such as CASA SAN PABLO, a country inn set amidst sprawling lawns with a very relaxing atmosphere. It's a nice place for a weekend getaway. What's more there's an increasingly popular eating place, KUSINA SALUD owned by world renowned fashion designer Patis Tesoro. The exquisite modern Filipino cuisine it offers rightly match the resto's enchanting ambiance. The sunday lunch buffet is becoming a best out-of-town dining experience. On the way back to South Expressway, the must stop overs are the fruit stands selling Lanzones, Rambutan, Coconut, Corn, Atis, Avocado, Papaya and many others (depending on what's in for the season) and of course Collette's and El Mare Buko Pie. The last stop to our trek is the town holding the boundary between Laguna and Batangas, ALAMINOS. This town is prominent for its wonderful tourist destination, Hidden Valley Springs. A private resort that's synonymous to paradise. To know how to get there and the facilities it can offer, check here.
We traveled a total of 182 km, spent almost a day to commune with this amazing province. With its many product offerings and majestic beauty, I'm simply lost for words. What more with the experience and the bonding that our family had? Priceless!
(View map of Laguna here from globalpinoy.com)
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Next town to Calamba is LOS BAÑOS. When we hear about Los Baños, perhaps the best thing that comes to our mind is BUKO PIE! But of course, it boasts of two of the country's best Buko Pie - Lety's and The Original. Apparently, the third popular brand, Collettes originated from San Pablo City. Personally, when it comes to texture I'll give my vote to The Original. Perhaps they use truly young coconut meat in their recipe. I also find that the sweetness is just right. However, Lety's overall taste cannot be discounted on. In fact, I heart it so much in my college years that it's become a favorite family pasalubong on weekends. But there's more to just plain buko pie in Los Baños. Other must try here are products from UPLB's DTRI (Dairy Training and Research Institute). They have rich, creamy Choco-Milk, Fresh Cow's Milk, Kesong Puti and Pastillas among others. Hmmm... real yummy! I also heard about the recent buzz on Mernel's Chocolate Cake. It has already gained popularity and slowly building its name in the south. You can check their bakeshop at Grove, College, Laguna (near UPLB Main Gate).
Other than food, it is in Los Baños where the infamous Mount Makiling is situated. If you're in the mood for a hike, you'll certainly pass by my beloved alma mater, UPLB (University of the Philippines in Los Baños). It's another good place to commune with nature! Botanical Garden, Museum of Natural History, Jamboree, Natural Arts Center (NAC) etc. await all adventurers. Our big freedom park also expects sports enthusiasts. It's such a nice ground for that morning jog or family picnic! If you want some adrenalin rush, why not challenge your feet and legs with the climb of the Carilion Tower? I haven't tried it yet. But I'm sure it will be a good exercise to burn some calories.
The next town after Los Baños is BAY. This small town is known for its sweet, creamy and filling bread locally named as "Monay". It's an oval shaped bread with a "slit" at the center. It can be consumed as is or with other spreads. Make sure you drop by at Tenorio's Bakery for a sample of this delicious bread.
Off to the next municipal, CALAUAN, home for the sweetest pineapple in the south! If you want to buy some you need to go to the town proper as you can rarely find people selling pineapple along Barangay Dayap (i.e. if you'll use this route to the other towns of Laguna). Along the road, you will see a lot of flowers and potted plants for sale. There are also ceramic pots and clays that will surely enhance the beauty of any landscape at home. Sometimes, there are fish and crabs being sold down the highway. If you started your Laguna trek too early or too late, you may have your breakfast or lunch respectively at Kamayan sa Palaisdaan. It's a nice Filipino restaurant. The resto is actually located between Calauan and Bay.
Then, off we continued our drive to VICTORIA. The town that is a wealthy pot of ducks and of course eggs! This town was featured in one of the amazing race series (if my memory serves me right, it's Season 3). The contestants were tasked to plough the rice fields with our National Animal - Carabao to find their next clue. It was such an exciting task to see.
After Victoria, you'll pass by PILA. There's really not much to say in this place except that its popular for some ancestral houses and historical landmarks. Check Wikipedia if you want to know more. What I really enjoy whenever I pass by this place is the sight of huge trees lining the road that somehow gives a relaxing ambiance. There are also few fruit stands down the road.
The next stop will be the capital of Laguna, STA. CRUZ. This is where you will find the governor's office. This place is known for its Kesong Puti. It's a white cheese, tofu like in appearance, soft in texture and salty in taste. It's normally sold in banana leaves. It's the best partner you can have for a hot pandesal. Real different and yummy in its own way. Your pandesal stuffed with kesong puti will go well with congee or sweet and sour tofu and pork (tokwa't baboy). Can you see them complementing each other? Try it!
Then off we went to the tourist capital of Laguna, PAGSANJAN. Visit this place and you'll be taken to an exciting adventure. There's no, more thrilling and more daring activity in the province than shooting the rapids of the Pagsanjan Falls. When trying it, just take note of the local government's advisory as there are some alleged bad businesses happening around here. Still, have a great ride!
The next town is the "embroidery capital of the Philippines", LUMBAN. Most households here depend on the Piña and Jusi Cloth Business for a living. My husband and I had our wedding gown and barong cloths woven and embroidered here. If you have a big event to attend to or host and you'll be needing such type of clothing, there's no better place than here. The price is definetely cheaper than in any store you will find in Manila. Likewise, the designs are very intricate and exquisite. Lumban is also a favorite location for filming or shooting. It owns the infamous river connected to the Pagsanjan Falls. Do you recognize the river on the picture below? You might have seen this in a number of TV shows or movies.
**Read also Part 2 of this post
Saturday, September 8, 2007
2. Cook Spaghetti noodles according to package instructions.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Being a part of the Cheesecake etc. company, without a doubt this is the place to be for cheesecake indulgence. But wait, this resto is up for more. Since it's a Cafe it has extended its repertoire to pasta, salad and coffee drinks among others. It has a typical ambiance of a cafe with an accomodating service. However, I've got mixed reviews of their food.
Sadly, the pastas are plain so-so. Just acceptable, okay to try but not something you will order again the next time you visit.
The salad is something you can easily prepare at home. There's nothing special in the dressing but at least good enough to start with.
Fresh green salad with choice of caesar or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
This Mango Passion Cheesecake is a little airy flavored with fresh mango puree. You would savor the presentation more than its taste.
Perfect combination of fresh strawberries and tangy raspberries so the menu states. But where are the real fruits? It's just another average cheesecake. Still, nothing beats Italiani's Strawberry Cheesecake.
House specialty! Velvety smooth cheesecake on graham crumb base topped with sweet and sour cream mixture. This one, I'll keep coming back for more! The sweet and sour notes blend so well and the creaminess is just right. More of this kind please.
Amareto cream, chopped chocolate and cashew nuts, encased in a tender nut cake, lavished with white chocolate ganache. This one is truly regrettable! Too waxy and there's this soapy / rancid character noted either from the nuts or the chopped chocolote. The product presentation will not in anyway save its not so good taste.