Friday, February 22, 2013

Where Humans are Strangers

From Tree Top Adventures, we headed out for an out-of-the-ordinary sight-seeing escapade. We determined to continue Day 2 Olongapo trip in Zoobic Safari. It was another 30-minute drive but right before we reached the place, we had a short stop along the roadside to say hi to the lone monkey sitting on the street boarder walled by dark green forest. My heart skipped a bit at the sight of this wild animal roaming free in a public place. Uncertain if it is tamed enough to be friendly to tourists, we moved forward. Just a couple of meters away, the driver stopped the vehicle without explanation. Then he said, "go out then look up. The bat colony is right above you." We certainly did and to our amazement there were indeed bats more than what we can count. Those were large bats hanging under tree branches which we would have suspected as fruits. Perhaps distracted by our presence, some bats flew giving us a good estimate of huge they really were. We stood even more astonished after more bats followed flying under the blue sky background and over silhouettes of tree branches.




Conserving what little time we had left before we start heading to Bataan, we motioned the driver to get us moving towards the zoo.

At the entrance it wasn't hard to find the cashier window where we paid a total of 545 pesos (495 Entrance fee + 50 for the tram) per person. Just a few meters across the cashier were lined up souvenir shops and some food stalls. The first stall looked like it was something suited for our budget so we ordered our lunch which was by the way already around 2:30 pm. A serving of rice, a slice of luncheon meat, and a barbecue on a stick was just P55.


After the quick lunch, we approached the registration area. Immediately a pleasant crew greeted us and one motioned us to stand at the corner with an Aeta for the welcome picture. Fifteen minutes later, we and a few other tourists were briefed about what to expect during the tour. Afterwhich, the tour guide took us through a souvenir shop which became our entrance to the Zoobic Park before we covered the following sites:

   - Rodent World   - Serpentarium   - Tiger Safari Ride   - Close Encounter   - Savannah   - Muzooeum
   - Aeta's Trail   - Forbidden Cave   - Croco Loco   - Zoobic Cave and   - Bird Walk


The guides were very well trained and it appeared that they have mastered their spiels and talks. Amazingly we were introduced first to a few birds which were not caged at all. The guide said that these birds no longer have to be caged since they have already been trained to stay at their intended spots during tours. And they happen to stay where their names and descriptions are. Further into the park we took site of hornbills, parrots, bearcats, lions, deers, wild pigs, camels, donkeys, sheep, goats that were actually free to roam around the park, and beavers. We even had the chance to feed the love birds which were happy to pick the seedlings from our hands while we of course pose for a shot. At the end of the park, a man with a box of Magnum and ice pops stood to make a sale.



Next stop brought us to Serpentarium where we saw snakes of all size and colors in glass shelters. Outside the serpentarium is where they kept iguanas and the like.


Just before we go crazy over snakes, we were asked to ride the tram so they can take us to Tiger Safari. There we had to get in the long stretch of cave-like structure that held several cages full of tigers. Some cages had two tigers and some only had one. We were told that they are usually paired according to their preferred companions (one they easily get along with), otherwise, they will fight 'til death. From time to time, they are also released into the open cage where they can roam and climb on trees and bask under the sun. That place was where we rode on a closed tram of metal grills where the guide sounds a whistle to beseech the presence of the tigers feed them with raw chicken meat from the inside of the tram while everyone watches in close proximity. At one point during the show, the guide will throw meat at the top of the tram where the tiger jumps on top of the vehicle and munches the food while the tram driver maneuvers around.


After that thrilling adventure, we were asked to transfer onto an open tram so they can take us to Savannah where we can see wild boars, guinea fowl, potbelly pigs and ostriches roaming. Two ostriches walked proudly in their towering height opposite our direction and they were so close that you can already reach them or count the hair in their eyelids. Yet, I couldn't stare too long. We were given the notion that there are instances the ostriches get rude and they start pecking tourists. So it was a relief they gallantly passed by me. In this part of the zoo, humans have become strangers and the animals, the proud dwellers.

The next best thing we had was a chance to see the native aetas perform. They danced before the crowd while the guides describe the meaning behind each dance. It was far from cha-cha, tango, foxtrot, and swing, but it was definitely cool to see them in person.

Our last stop had to be Croco Loco. While I approached the place, I could hear screams of fear and excitement from the crowd. When I got near, I noticed that they were feeding the crocodiles in the pond with raw chicken. They tie it to a string as a bait and they lower it using a stick. As soon as it came about a feet away from the nostrils of "croco", the animal jumps to lock a bite into the bait. That's when everyone screams. They ware so many that they look congested in the pond. Some of these crocodiles actually show signs of scars and injury from possible fights among them. When it was time to go, we had to exit through a souvenir shop like in most areas of the safari. As if to me a bonus, I see a lot of military sheds or bunkers spread around the area which the staff said have been used as storage for food supplies, or some have become sleeping dormitories while others were converted into what seemed like a barn for the animals. It's fun how the American structures like this used in the past during the world war has become into something that's income generating. Still, the health of the safari animals need donations and help from foundations and supporters so they can meet the daily food and medicine needs of the animals as well as for the maintenance of the zoo.

For more information about Zoobic Safari, visit their website.

For the costs and expenses involved, see table below.



Zoobic Safari
Group I Ilanin Forest
Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Philippines
Telefax: (+6347) 252-2272; (+63) 929-7072222

View Larger Map

Makati Office
3/F Yupangco Building
339 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City,
Philippines
Tel: (+632) 895-7142; 898-3695; 899-9824;
899-9595
Mobile: (+63) 917-8351111
Fax: (+632) 899-9829

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Treetop Hopping and Dropping


We had the most restful evening after the tiring trek to Mt. Pinatubo the day before. At 8 in the morning, everyone was getting ready for yet another adventure. First, we needed to check-out from Gani Hotel, then take our breakfast in KFC near Dau Terminal. From the terminal, we hopped onto a van for a gruesome 1.5-hour drive to Olongapo.* Each row accommodates 4 passengers. I happen to have taken the side seat at the back and when the van drove under the midday sun, I can't help but pull out my sarong to shield me from the scorching sunlight. We were dropped at Harbor Point, a clean and classy mall, which I recently learned was developed by Ayala Land, Inc. From that point, we were hoping we could find a better option to move around Olongapo, however, after minutes of observing the highway, I was convinced that taxi was the only option. There were no tricycles for hire around, not even jeepneys. The residents in Olongapo must be really rich to afford that much expense on transportation alone. Certainly, others had to buy their private cars and motorcycles while the rest will wait for the occasional buses traveling around the city.

  Getting us to the Tree Top Adventure already cost us P400 which the driver reasons as a two-way drive (Harbour Point to Treetop and back to Harbour Point). In as much as you would want to scream out, you couldn't, because there were no sighting of any jeepneys around. We had to accept early on that this is how they do it in Olongapo. In as much as I appreciate the orderliness and cleanliness of the city, I hate the fact that the local government lacks the provision of a cheaper mode of transportation. We were told that although Olongapo City still belongs to Zambales province geographically, they have already practiced autonomy in terms of administration.

Running against time, we immediately sat for the briefing on the activities we could take advantage of in the site. Three of us chose Package E (Canopy Ride, Tree Drop Adventure, and Superman Ride) while Claire, the only girl in the pack of four, chose Package B (Canopy and Superman Ride). All activities were exciting but quite short-lived.


Canopy ride is where one is tied to a harness and on a sitting position moved around the vicinity of the forest for a tree-top view. To get to where it starts, you may need to walk through hanging bridges, however, you may need to be careful, lest, you could get stung by a bee which happened to one of our travel mates.

(left): the traveler's feet above the ground. (right) the Canopy ride.
Hanging bridges at Tree Top Adventures


Superman Ride is where one or two persons are asked to be in prone position where the harness supports the back and the two arms are extended on beam supports and another beam for the extended legs at the back. First the motor glides you speedily backwards and then forward. Pretty much like zipping back and forth in the same position.

(Top) Silver Surfer (Bottom) Superman Ride

Tree Drop Adventure I would say was the most exciting of their fun activities. Then again, it is short lived. The crew fastens the straps and secures you with a harness tied at the back. From the tree-top platform, they ask you to come close to the edge then float so the harness becomes your only support at the back bringing you once again on a flat position with your face downwards. After a quick distraction, you fall free from the top down to the ground until the brakes pull you to a halt face down with just about 2 feet distance from the soil. The free fall can be compared with Danao plunge in Bohol but way far in terms of adrenaline rush.

The cast.

Overall, I think the trip to Treetop Adventure plus their packages were too pricey for short-lived thrills.

See my breakdown of expenses below:


----------------------
* More help on directions here.

Next Adventure: Zoobic Safari


Tree Top Adventure
Jest Area Upper Mau Cubi Point
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Email: treetopadventure@yahoo.com
Contact Nos: 047-252-9427/047-252-9425


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Beautiful Aftermath

The arduous journey to Mt. Pinatubo begins at dawn. I and my friends decided to rest early the prior night so we could wake up as early as 3am for our Pinatubo trek. Months before this day, the preparation has already started. Some of the tasks we covered early on were:

1.) Purchase a coupon for the 4x4 ride to and from Mt. Pinatubo.
2.  Deposit the payment of P400 in the Travel&Save Tours' BPI account for the Department of Tourism (DOT) fee.
 3. Claim voucher through their website and register to schedule the desired date of visit.

      For this trip, we thought we were lucky to have purchased through Beeconomics a tour sponsored by Travel&Save Tours which bore the following inclusions:
  • Roundtrip Transfers via 4x4 off road vehicle (Tarlac to Zambales to Tarlac)
  • Trip Arrangements
  • Service of Tour Facilitator
  • Complimentary Breakfast
The voucher price was P1,998 for 2 persons and was marketed as discounted from the original price of P7000.*

Waking up at 3am was mandatory for us. The military conducts exercises everyday and they do it right at the area where we pass towards the crater. We were told that all 4x4 rides should have already secured the pass at 6:30 am. Otherwise, the visit will be postponed the day after since they can no longer allow passage while the military activities are on-going. Whether this is true or not, we obliged.

From McDonalds we took a jeepney for Dau Bus Terminal, then a bus to McDonalds at Capas, Tarlac.

While at McDonalds and waiting for the 4x4 off-road vehicle driver, we ordered our breakfast since it turned out that the said inclusion was only available during weekends. I have learned about this only after taking the initiative to contact the agency's staff by phone that morning. Upon the arrival of the expected driver and his wife, we were also informed that the coupon didn't cover the drive from McDonalds to the jump-off location at Sta. Juliana. She said if we opt to ride through the 4x4 we just have to add P500 for the fuel charge which is to take us from Capas to Sta. Juliana and back. We have had enough of the surprises and thought that an additional P100 for each of us (5 pax) shouldn't be too much, so we agreed. We also learned that they actually accommodate direct negotiation from tourists so we didn't have to channel payments through a travel agency, hence, paying a rather lower price at P800 per person for a group of five. That was quite interesting especially that it equals a savings of P199 per person on use of 4x4 alone. Before leaving McDonalds, we thought it was important to take out food for our lunch. There are no canteens at the crater or anywhere near that vicinity. A packed lunch was necessary.


On we went for the jump-off. It was a very enjoyable 35-minute drive seeing the sky alight at sunrise giving golden glow to the hills and mountains before us. At Sta. Juliana, a line of colorful 4x4 vehicles parked near the DOT office. The drivers were busy getting for themselves a copy of the form we all had to fill-out to waive the DOT office any liability for possible injuries should there be any incurred during the travel. After signing the form, we beamed with excitement as we entered the wide terrain of light grey lahar desert formed as an aftermath of the Mt. Pinatubo explosion in the year 1991. While traversing the valley we noticed sheds several meters away. The vehicle was halted right were these sheds are and I was overwhelmed with surprise and genuine gladness to see our native Aetas face to face. It was like putting actual figures to illustrations I only saw through my textbook pages way back in high school. While the rest of the tourists watched from a distance and took pictures of the aetas, I was ready for immersion into what felt like bloodline affinity if there was any. Putting my arms over the shoulder of the little children, I felt proud being taken a picture of them with me (did they feel the same? I don't know.). I knew they were one of Philippines' treasured tribes since they hold the closest identity of the pioneer dwellers in some islets of the Philippines before the Spanish colonization.


It was fun seeing them selling their banana, sweet potatoes, and ginger produce to the tourists. Sensing that I wasn't buying, they asked if I could send them copies of the pictures I took with them instead, to which I immediately agreed. They were enjoying the camera time so much that they blurted "padalhan nyo na lang po kami ng kopya.. at kung gusto nyo, lakipan nyo ng Payless". We responded with sympathy and amusement, "Ate, Lucky Me na po uso ngayon.".** We bid farewell while our hearts lingered with love for our native Filipinos.

We continued our 4x4 ride for almost 2 hours passing through small rivers, rocky slopes, humongous lahar walls which were there for quite sometime already showing growth of small trees and bushes. It was a beautiful ride feeling so much of the natural resources, scorching sun neutralized by cold breeze of mountain wind, the greens, the yellows from sulfur deposits in rocks where water pass through, huge boulders piled one over the other. In some places at random intervals, I noticed stones stacked one over the other artistically casting nice shadows on a sunny morning. When I asked the driver, I was told that they were created by Aeta children as their means of play in this very remote and lonely place. While these towering stone arrangements impressed me, I also could not help but gaze at the clear blue sky filling the horizon and ending where the light brown lahar mountains rise. It was so amazing that each time I chanced on good opportunities, I snapped pictures, smiling, and not minding the times my Nikon bumped and bounced on the 4x4 window frame.


Finally, we reached the start of what was said to be a 30 minute trek to the crater. There were a few times we inevitably had to wet our footwears. Thanks to internet, I managed to ready myself through a blogger's recommendation to wear open and strapped slippers for the trek.


As soon as we arrived at the opening where the crater is already in sight, we climbed uphill to get a good picture of the entirety of the crater view. To reach the actual mouth of the volcano, we had to walk down the several man-made steps. It was surprising how one can forget it once erupted. It seemed at the sandy area like a seashore but the stillness of the water identifies it as lake formed after rain has filled the hole several years after that historic event. It is said to remain active -- only asleep.


After taking our lunch we took time enjoying the place watching also other people and tourists have fun in the vicinity. The water was very tempting but I restrained myself from swimming due to clear instructions from the guide and the recent news about a tourist collapsing after soaking his feet on the water for some time. It must have been fatigue, they say, because he only waded and died that instant. I waded too and washed my hands very quickly just to feel the water and stood up fulfilled of the experience.

I am happy I survived Mt. Pinatubo. The water at that hour was already emerald green. I think sunlight was definitely responsible of the the water's changing color.


Sadly the moment came for us to leave. The guides have been receiving communications from the military that they should already start evacuating the tourists from the crater and start heading back to the jump-off before nighttime catches on us. On our way back, we were all exhausted that it was so easy to doze off in the vehicle while the driver carefully stirred the wheels. Not wanting to end the journey without taking a picture of the wide lahar landscape, I asked the driver to stop, which he did. He then took us back to Sta. Juliana, dropped off the local guide we tipped P200 for carrying some of our luggage and for keeping us safe during the entire trek, and then drove us back to Tarlac. We took a jeepney back to Dau and then another jeepney back to Fields Avenue near Gani Hotel in Angeles City.

The entire trip was definitely energy draining but indeed a worthwhile experience. The crater view lingers to this very day.

-----------------------------------
*Note: I and another friend have personally experienced difficulty communicating with the aforementioned agency. It was always us who had to initiate the contact and when we do, our text messages sometimes get no replies. However, patience and persistence do get results, so bear the stress and enjoy the process.
** One of my regrets is not anticipating meetup with the Aetas. Had I known, I would have definitely brought with me Payless noodles. Make your trip to Pinatubo meaningful by bringing some goods you can give to the Aetas who oftentimes only had to live from their daily produce (sweet potatoes, etc.) to get by day after day.

Budget Journal:


Contacts Journal:

Travel&Save Tours (4x4 via travel agency)
Mrs. Vistan - (09435476773) direct contact for the use of a 4x4 vehicle

 Mt. Pinatubo

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pampanga's Ikabud

Both internet and word of mouth got me interested about Ikabud. They say it is one of Angeles City's popular restaurants. I and my travel companions got ourselves looking for its location taking with us only a couple of instructions from the receptionist in Gani Hotel where we stayed for 2 nights. In my travels, I realized that it was oftentimes, if not all the time, convenient to stay in pension houses located near where most establishments are.

When we finally arrived at the place, we noticed that everyone was busy. True to the reviews, we found ourselves self-navigating, looking for that great spot in the restaurant since there were no available waiting crew. It was also a little noisy with all sounds coming from diners boisterously laughing, excitedly chatting, clinking of glasses and plates from kitchen crew, and loud music somewhere. For me, it was just the right setup. I needed no special attention anyway, at least for choosing the table location. Finally, a staff got off-loaded and brought to us a huge cardboard menu. We spent time browsing through it and eventually picked Salpicao, Pinakbet, and Sisig (Pampanga's best).


Salpicao was a mix of ingredients, pretty much of seafood (tahong, squid, shrimps), some pork cuts, mushrooms, and vegetables (peas, squash, bell pepper). If salpicao sounds much of a beef recipe for you, then you will be surprised. However, they are not in lack of that option. They serve Beef Salpicao, too. You just have to specify. (Price: P210)


Pinakbet is a mixture of vegetables (squash, string beans, eggplant, ampalaya, lady fingers, tomato, bell pepper, etc). Although pinakbet recipe usually contains the dominant shrimp paste or bagoong ingredient, I, however found it difficult to identify that in the taste. On the other hand, I recall tasting ground peanuts somewhere (either in salpicao or in this dish). (Price: P98)


Sisig, known to be one of Pampanga's best was served to us on a sizzling plate. This menu is mainly the face skin of pork head chopped into tiny cubes with broiled pork liver. The spices (siling labuyo, ground black pepper, onions, bay leaves) and the rest of the ingredients (salt, vinegar, kalamansi) make up for its taste. This, in the Philippines is always a good beer match. (Price: P185)

Overall, I will merit Ikabud for serving fresh ingredients, great menu variety and serving size. Taste, price, ambiance and service were just okay.

Ikabud already has a branch in SM Clark. However, if you like dining outside too commercial areas, find its Hensonville branch. Here's how.:

1. Walk to the Main Gate Friendship Terminal. (Ask the security guards for instructions.)
2. Before reaching the terminal, stop at the Mini Stop (convenience store) corner.
3. Take a jeepney bound to Hensonville. Jeepney fare is P8.00 .

Other places to eat in Angeles:
  Mr. KimBob (BibimBob)
  Korean Bakery

The Ikabud branches:

Map:

View Larger Map

Address
1. Richtofen Road, Malabanias, Angeles City
2. 29-19 S.L. Orosa St., Diamond Subd., Balibago
3. Ground Floor, SM City Clark
4. G/F Marquee Mall, North Luzon Expressway, Angeles City

Telephone:
           625-8232 (Balibago)
           322-7067 (Hensonville)
           499-0136(SM Clark)
           437-9273 (Marquee Mall)

Cuisine: Filipino
Hours of business: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Korean Bakery

We were walking according to instructions from the owner of Gani hotel to find the street where we could get a ride to IKABUD, a popular Filipino restaurant in Angeles, Pampanga. Just a few stores along the Main Gate Friendship Terminal and in front of Mr. JJ supermarket, we noticed a well-lit store bearing "Korean Bakery" for a signage. It was quite interesting since it stood lined along small conventional Filipino stores which were just walls apart. Since, we were hungry for a sumptuous dinner at that time, I put my curiosity behind. As soon as we finished dinner, we really had not much choice but to go back to where we came from to avoid getting lost in the city. When the jeepney halted at the crossing near Mr. JJ, my thoughts wandered and my curiosity began to rise again. When I learned that my companions wanted to go back to the bakery which to me brought both emotions of relief and surprise, I strut silently behind them grinning.

Main Gate Friendship Terminal in Angeles, Pampanga. Photo from here.
 


I have been to Korean restaurants before but I had yet to see what their bakery looks like. When we entered, it was just a glass-walled store lit under fluorescent lighting, a long cake stand in front, and some bread and cookies display on the sides. It was simple but not the cakes. You could set apart a Filipino, American, or European cakes from the Korean creations. Theirs were particularly adorned with fresh slices of colorful fruits. While our bakers put solidified fondant strawberries theirs had the actual version. While our cakes are flavored mainly with delectable chocolates (be it white, black, or brown) theirs had green tea, berries, and other healthier options. My companions got so drawn to it that they decided to buy one out for an evening dessert. They picked the Green Tea cake with fresh Kiwi, orange, and cherry toppings.



Although uncertain if all Korean cakes are prepared with the same level of sweetness, the green tea cake did taste appropriately sweet. That appropriate sweetness is by the way quite a contrast to our usual cakes that bear heavy sugar ingredient suited for the sweet-toothed customers. We seldom fail luring customers with excessive sugars because chocolates and candies were after all supposedly sweet but the deviant and healthier Korean cakes won me over the former. It may take time for Filipino taste buds to acquire this sugar-less taste on Korean cakes but baking cakes this way definitely makes it the healthier option. Now, we can eat more slices than the usual, guiltlessly.

More pictures of Korean Cakes here:
My Korean Kitchen
Minjeongie

Other food places in Angeles:
Mr. KimBob
Ikabud

Location:

View Larger Map

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where to Eat in Angeles

Mr. KimBob (BIBIMBOB)

When you are but a sojourner to a place, starved and you don't know where you can find safe and good food, the nearest malls and nationwide fast food shops are the best way to go to. In Angeles, Pampanga, after checking in Gani Hotel from the airport, we headed out to SM Angeles City. It took us only about 5 to 15 minutes to finally reach the mall by foot. Despite hunger, we decided to scan the foodcourt for anything appealing and new. We were eyeing for Pampanga dishes, however, none came up worth looking back. We didn't stop looking until we reached the last stall. It looked set apart from the regular restaurants we passed by and interestingly had a long line of customers waiting to make an order and pay to the cashier. Obviously, it was fast food but not the common ones you see in almost all places in the Philippines.

Mr. Kimbob stall in SM Clark (Angeles)


Their Menu Board


Mr. KimBob is a Korean restaurant that offers a variety of Korean Meal Combos from Bulgogi to Japche and Donkatsu. They also have their famous Bibimbob plate that contains almost a small portion of each type of vegetable they had available, rice at the center, topped with fried sunny side up egg and marinated beef cuts . They serve their dishes sizzling hot. We noticed that the customers pour a lavish amount of the chili paste on the plate so we followed.

(Right) Bibimbob

Like most Korean food, the dish especially with the chili is like level 3 spicy and HOT. For one who likes chili flavored food, I'd say it was just perfect to diffuse my jetlag and fatigue. I finished meal 16 (Chicken Bites) in a flash. My two other companions ordered each a Bibimbob (a personalized name for the original Bibimbap Korean recipe) and had to pick out some of the vegetables they didn't like to eat. Among the blanched vegetables in Bibimbob were kangkong, chayote, carrots and cabbage (blanched and kimchi version). I would still have eaten all that but my spicy chicken bites were just enough which by the way was priced neatly at 99 sizzling pesos.

(Left) Sizzling Chicken Bites. (Right) that starved sojourner.

It was a great food start in Angeles and fun knowing that Mr. KimBob has yet to reach the Visayas and Mindanao regions in the Philippine archipelago.

Find Mr. Kimbob locations here.

Other food stops in Angeles City, Pampanga:
Korean Bakery
Ikabud

In Angeles City, find Mr. KimBob in SM Clark foodcourt.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Where to Stay in Angeles

Budget is always a factor when creating a travel itinerary. Oftentimes, accommodation takes the bigger slice. However, if you are clever and patient enough in browsing through the numerous options in the internet, you will certainly find a good one that fits your budget and hopefully tidy, secure, and accessible.

In Angeles, Pampanga the one that fits this description for me is Gani Hotel. Although, more of a hostel, it still managed to leave us a good impression. I merit their establishment even from the first day I contacted them through their published mobile number. They replied earlier than the other 3 pension houses I reached on the same day. Some do not even have the courtesy to answer. When asked about reservation down payments, they didn't even require it. I was told that I can pay in full upon my arrival.


Ate Teresa (3rd from left) was our contact person for Gani Hotel

On the day we were expected to arrive, we did as told, settled the full amount for 2 nights stay and was escorted immediately to the room reserved for us.

Gani Hotel has a total of 6 air-conditioned rooms with 2 queen-sized beds which can be converted to 2 single beds, if preferred. It was pretty much complete with amenities like: own bathroom, large wall-mounted television, dim lights, and cable connection. Lodgers are provided fresh blankets, towels, a soap bar, and tissue paper. The WIFI connection is also available for occupants use. The wall is concrete and the door looked secure with installed locks.

The building looks like a house that was converted to a hostel so it can become income generating. It had a sala where you can relax and sit with friends and a cold and hot water dispenser which you can take advantage for free when making coffee or cold juice. The disposable cups for both purposes are also provided. Adjacent to the sala is their Captain Davo's bar where you can purchase and drink shots of whisky and cold beer. For the non-alcoholics, the same area keeps a huge fridge where you can buy sodas and other bottled juice.

Captain Davo'sBar

On accessibility, Gani is located about 5-10 mins away from SM and Fields Avenue (a park) in Angeles by foot. It is not situated along the hi-way but not necessarily far from it which was a plus to keep dwellers isolated from disturbing noise of passing jeepneys and other vehicles.

Consider it also a plus to be serviced by a few of their staff who speak Bisaya esp. if you come from the Visayas region. On service, I would say that they are a team of approachable and friendly crew.

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Room Rates
Queen Deluxe Room (Single Bed for 2 persons) - P1,200.00/day
Twin Deluxe Room (Double Bed for 2 persons) - P1,200.00/day
Extra bed - P350/night

Tip: Try to get your negotiation skills at work. It does not work all the time but I did manage to get the room booked for 4 persons at P1550.00. You might get lucky yourself.

How we reached Gani Hotel:
  1. From Diosdado International Airport, ride an air-conditioned jeepney going to SM Angeles. (P50 per pax)
  2. Ride a tricycle from SM to Gani Hotel. The tricycle drivers know where it is and can take you there at P50 per ride regardless of whether you ride solo or with friends. They impose that fixed price when riding in a trike around Angeles City.

Gani Hotel
3757 Third St., Balibago, Angeles City, Philippines 2009
Phone: (63) 892-5177 or (63) 889-5344
Cell: +63 0928-651-5548
E-mail: ganihotelphilippines@yahoo.com


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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mother's Knows Best

When it comes to fried chicken, nothing beats Mother's Fried Chicken for me. Introduced by a colleague of Chinese descent, I was dubious of his testimony as it was not likely that  he would be the suitable endorser of fried chicken normally associated with western cooking. Nonetheless, I and a couple of other office mates headed out for what was more of a "to taste is to believe" undertaking.


Mother's Fried Chicken is currently located at the third floor of Ayala Mall, Cebu. It is a shop of 10 to 15 tables setup at close distance from each other. Space is definitely a minus but it didn't really matter as we were all set for one thing during that visit: the food. It wasn't my spot so I decided to go with what the referrer suggested - Saver's Meal 1. There were only about a total of 3 crews who were visible for waiting so we mustered patience. Surprisingly, however, the meal came in just a little over 5 minutes.

Saver 1 Meal

Not wasting any time, I started the scrutiny. It wasn't grand at presentation but I'd merit it for for clean service. The meal consisted of sauteed canton noodles, rice serving, fried chicken and a glass of iced tea. The chicken part is a choice of breast, wing, or leg while the drink can either be a lemonade or iced tea. Customers can go for bam-i or palabok or sphagetti for the noodles. There was so much simplicity to it all that I thought I would likely confirm my doubts about my colleague's words for it. I just had to dig it for affirmation.

When I stuck the fork in the chicken, it slid the meat part from the bones. When I picked it into my mouth, the flavor was surprisingly delightful. The meat was apparently marinated with soy sauce, garlic, and probably pepper. The taste was so simple yet delicious. The crunch was so natural since it had no breading nor batter. It tasted like Maxx's, and in my opinion, even a little better. Their bam-i was just as good. It was complete with vegetable, fish balls, meat, and spice. It was not oily nor too dry. The pepper powder punctuates the taste.

Mother's Fried Chicken remains a personal favorite for a quick, affordable, and tasty food escapade.



Locations:

1.
3/F, Ayala Center Cebu (Cebu Business Park),  
Cebu City, Cebu 6000, Philippines
Phone Number
(032) 232-1099


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2.
St. Patricks Square (R. Aboitiz St), 
Cebu City, Cebu 6000, Philippines

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