Monday, October 19, 2009

Passion for food review


(published in itravel Philippines July-August 2009 issue,

Sometimes, I have this desire to satisfy my craving for the word “scrumptious.”
It was more than five years ago when I first set foot on a high-end bistro called The Promenade of Days Hotel Iloilo in The Atrium on Bonifacio Drive just across the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. Honestly speaking, those early years of my exploits as a newbie features writer for a local tabloid led me to discover a lot of fascinating destinations in Iloilo. Writing about the sprawling restaurants and bars in the city was indeed a fascinating delectation. The Promenade is no exception.

My first Promenade dining experience enticed my keenness on food writing. Irrevocably obvious, the culinary creations, serene ambience, and congenial staff are sheer elements of its success in capturing countless diners that made the bistro their regular habitué. Its international culinary connoisseur, food and beverage manager Rey Ponsaran has the knack for conceptualising unique, if not tastefully themed, gastronomic fare. A reason why it has established a word-of-mouth praises from food lovers who have a taste of Iloilo’s best.

This bistro is a hub of delectation for diners and their dining affinity. For one, diners can pick anything from the menu book and can expect something scrumptious. The Promenade buffets are tongue-pleasing, eye-catching theatrics of culinary parade that climaxes to a satisfying and fulfilling healthy feast. Salad bowls are freshly prepared, appetisers are succulent, main courses are mouth-watering, and desserts are simply a treat to one’s sweet tooth.

In lieu of its tradition for capturing the taste of food aficionados, The Promenade redefines its reputation as metropolitan Iloilo’s finest through its palate-pleaser buffets: daily Power Breakfast from 6 AM to 10 AM, “Indulge” Saturday dinner buffet from 6 AM to 10 PM, “Meshi” Japanese dinner buffet from 6 AM to 10 PM, and Las Paellas Spanish dinner buffet from 6 AM to 10 PM.

Every dining experience at The Promenade leaves a pinch to the heart, a distinct pull to the taste buds, and a desire to come back again.

So, I realise my first dining experience at The Promenade wasn’t the last. It feels and tastes like it’s always the first every time I follow my desire for the word “scrumptious.”

The Promenade is located in Days Hotel Iloilo in The Atrium on Bonifacio Drive— with telephone number (033) 3373297.

Chinese savour


(Published in itravel Philippines July-August 2009 issue,

No flight ticket is required. Not even packing up your bags. Just follow your palate for some scrumptious cuisine without ruining your budget. Head to the premier shopping malls of Iloilo and Bacolod cities, then, viola, you have Hong Kong Kitchen to fulfil your gastronomic cravings.

More than a food trip, Hong Kong Kitchen started to fascinate local Chinese food lovers a few years ago on the ground level of Robinson’s Place Iloilo. Since its opening, the bistro’s authentic Chinese cuisine has magnetised people from all walks of life. A real trip to Hong Kong can be self-indulging by savouring its dishes which are reasonably-priced to woo the discriminating taste of the Ilonggos.

Hong Kong Kitchen’s restaurant manager and food connoisseur who has worked in the food industry for 14 years, Arceli Parreňas Abria takes pride of the restaurant’s authentic Chinese cuisine. Peking duck is what Hong Kong Kitchen is known for amongst its regular diners. And amidst its high-end price, some of them find the right reason to spoil themselves on such palatable gastronomic fare. All-time favorite Chinese dimsum, noodles, soup, fish, veggies, and poultry specialties are worth flaunting the way they tease the tongue with authentic and healthy cookery. Preserving their reputation in the food business, Hong Kong Kitchen chefs use only imported natural herds, secret spices, and cooking techniques to create the best culinary creations. Even in the midst of recession and price increase nowadays, the resto’s food quality is maintained in a high-standard height to satisfy its diners. Cost cutting of ingredients is not its option.

Diningwise, Hong Kong Kitchen’s ambience appeals to all and even to the discriminating diners of Iloilo and Bacolod. Its Chinese elemental atmosphere exudes an inviting feeling for everyone to dine in and enjoy a good meal.

At regular weekdays, most especially during lunchtime or dinner, their usual customers are students, yuppies, and professionals. The bestseller is its budget friendly merienda meals from 2 PM to 5.30 PM for only Php 78. The luscious Chinese combo meal is worth dying to the palate for as much as Php 98. Of course, ala carte and short orders are still available for choosy diners who want a more personal choice of premium Chinese dishes. At weekends, families and sweethearts often find the place perfect to spend their special moments over luscious gastronomy. To cater groups of diners, Hong Kong Kitchen offer a set of menus just enough to tickle the tummy of five or more people for Php 980. Whatever choices and variations of Chinese dishes you have in mind, their affable and customer-oriented wait staff is always there to assist and definitely never forget to wear a smile.

Although there’s a lot of thriving bistros and specialty restaurants in Iloilo City nowadays, Hong Kong Kitchen may be one-step ahead not because it serves authentic Chinese cuisine or having an inviting ambience. With no pretense, it strives to exceed what excellent dining truly means—value for money, delectable food, and an ounce of positive energy.

Fly straight to Hong Kong and savour its luscious kitchen creations without actually going there. Hong Kong Kitchen is strategically located both on the ground floor of Robinsons Place Iloilo and Bacolod with telephone numbers (033) 338-2677 and (032) 441-0718.

Of oyster and gastronomy


(Published in itravel Philippines July-August 2009 issue,

Alan Legislador may have been a simple guy from Villa, Iloilo—unassuming, patient, and realistic. But fate has its own way of finding our place under the sun. Fortunately, that destined place is intertwined with our passion and rooted from what we really want to do in life.

His story started with the same success story that we always read from books or see in movies. Fifteen years ago, in a small kiosk sheltered by ordinary trapal (tent), Alan started to sell talaba (oysters) in Oton, the first municipality south of Iloilo City. Everyday he purchases a sack of talaba delivered from Roxas City and sells it patiently under the scorching heat of the sun. Though Oton is a shoreline town in Iloilo, it’s not suitable for cultivating talaba. But the locals are inclined to eat talaba since it is a well-known and favourite Ilonggo delicacy either grilled or steam. And since he is the only talaba vendor in Oton at that time, his kiosk attracted many customers. Some are locals while others came from Iloilo City and far away provinces.

Five years later, Alan’s Talabahan expanded and catered large number of customers demanding more space and upgrade of services. The business minded Alan convinced himself to embrace the demand of change for his business. With the support of his wife— Jocell, an HRM graduate—together they ventured in mounting their menu, adding more dishes mainly seafood, grilled native chicken, and pork chop in the tradition of Ilonggo cooking. The lack of proper studies in culinary arts did not hinder Alan’s desire to expand his minibistro business slowly gaining a name.

He experimented with flavours, spices, ingredients, and techniques in cooking but making sure the scrumptious quality of every dish he added to his menu remains acceptable to the palate of his growing loyal customers. His artistry is also evident in his effort to creatively redesign the interior of the restaurant reflecting native ambience and using exotic recycled materials like seashells and plastic containers.

But the attractive, if not magnetising aspect of his business is the excellent flavour of his food which loyal patrons are gushing about. With the absence of commercial advertisements, word-of-mouth praises from diners and customers did the walking talk about Alan’s Talabahan. In fact, famous people and personalities from different parts of the country visit his restaurant just to dine in and enjoy the same homegrown service. Steadily, Alan’s Talabahan has carved a gradual niche in Iloilo’s local gastronomy scene if we base it in affordability of food and word-of-mouth referrals. Such fact is indeed true and visible. At Alan’s, one can order per serving of talaba ranging from Php 30 to Php 60 which depends on the way it is cooked—either grilled, steam or the bestseller baked talaba with mouth-watering quick-melt cheese. Native dishes such as boneless bangus (milkfish), pusit (squid), steamed kasag (crab), pork chop, native chicken, and a lot more are reasonably priced for people with tight budget. The name Alan’s even reaches the shores of Manila since he got several offers of catering services from notable corporate events and parties which he gladly accepted. But in the meantime, the proposal for franchise is not his interest. He is grateful that even if he only has one branch, he still believes that honest and homegrown service will keep the loyalty of his regular customers who do the personal promotion of the place.

Fifteen years later, Alan already has what he wants in life—a happy family, hardworking employees who help him expand his thriving business, and a countless number of customers who keep coming back. Typically, they are coming back with friends or buddies who can’t get enough of Alan’s Talabahan.

Alan’s secret of success is no secret at all. His passion is a word-of-mouth story that reminds the Ilonggos of delicious yet affordable gastronomy in a close-to-home setting.

Masquerade and revelry


(published in itravel Philippines July-August 2009 issue,

Being known as the Philippines’ “city of smiles,” Bacolod City remains steadfast to invigorate its flourishing tourism industry by preserving its past and embracing the visions for tomorrow.

As part of Negros Occidental province once known as the cradle of sugar industry in the early 19th century, Bacoloders conceptualised and created MassKara Festival in 1980 when the sugar industry weakened. Wearing multicoloured masks, beaded and colourfully designed costumes dancing to the lively Latin music—graceful Bacoloders dancers paraded the streets to celebrate life and abundance, and spread revelry throughout the city every third week of October. Such a grandiose festival came to fruition when the people and the government officials decided to create an annual event to uplift the hope of many due to the depression caused by the decline of sugar industry in the province. Since then, MassKara Festival has become a cultural tradition, a reminder of hope and inspiration amidst the social challenges that Bacolod City or the province of Negros Occidental has been struggling to overcome for the past almost three decades.

“MassKara” is a portmanteau of “mass” (people) and “kara” (mask)—which has close resemblance to the Mardi Gras of Brazil and other South American festivals. The famous festival has gone through notable progression and reinvention to intensify its concept of capturing the cultural passion of the Bacoloders and preserve its love for music, carousing, and celebrations. Participated every year by contesting groups coming from different barangays and private companies that deliver a kaleidoscopic display of grace, colours, and breathtaking performances, the festival has already made significant legacies and memoirs reflecting the flamboyant character of the people of Bacolod.
Preserving and harnessing the inclination of the Bacoloders in culinary arts, the government of Bacolod City spearheaded by its visionary leader, mayor Evelio Leonardia and past Bacolod mayor Jose Montalvo conceptualised the staging of the first Chicken Inasal Festival from 15 to 20 May this year. The weeklong festival highlighted the effort of the city government to make the Manokan Country as an emerging tourism destination where more than twenty chicken inasal stalls are located. During the opening ceremonies, Negros Occidental governor Isidro Zayco was the guest the speaker and honoured the laudable effort of dynamic personalities who catapulted Bacolod chicken inasal’s popularity.
Another captivating objective of the festival is to be included in the Guinness Book of World Record by staging the “largest barbeque grill in the world” held at SM City Bacolod North Wing vacant lot. The newly established festival targeted one whole chicken per foot or an estimated 18,000 chicken with 800 to 1,000 sacks of charcoal and 72,000 barbecue sticks facilitated by 20, 000 volunteers. The larger-than-life chicken grill event happened on 19 May which was attended by thousands of spectators both local and foreign tourists wanting to taste the world famous flavour of Bacolod chicken inasal that has captured the palate of the Filipinos throughout the country.
Time already proved how far the people of Bacolod have put their city in the map as one of the best tourism destinations in the Philippines. I guess their charm and luck lie in character to wear eternal smiles.


A glimpse of Iligan

(published in itravel Philippines July-august 2009 issue,

They say travelling is a treat to the heart when one wants to rediscover places and leave life’s baggage for a while. If you’re searching for the perfect getaway that would make you breathless and wanting to come back again, Iligan City is a must-visit tourism destination.
Located at the northern part of Mindanao and approximately 800 kilometers south of Manila, Iligan City is famous a tourism gem for thrill-seeking travellers. This city, known for its majestic waterfalls, is bustling with flourishing economic life and natural wonders. Major shopping establishments are sprouting in the city despite economic downfall of some of its major industries (cement and steel). It has become a major shopping destination in Lanao del Norte and Sur. Locals and visitors find the best items or native products for souviners. Its location outside the typhoon belt has made it a suitable place to stay, unwind, spend time appreciating the scenic view of nature and local culture.

Top tourism spots

Topping the list of the best tourism spots for a worthwhile visit is the majestic Maria Cristina Falls. Aside from being a major tourist attraction in the city, the falls also serves as a major vehicle for Iligan’s industrialization. The falls, with its height of over 320 feet, spews 130 cubic meters per second of water thereby making it a hydroelectric potential of about 944 megawatts. For nature-trippers, Maria Cristina Falls is a beautful site to appreciate Mother Nature.

Another interesting place to visit is the Timoga Cold Springs. Its pristine, cool and clear water freely flowing into several swimming pools has made it perfect for swimming and relaxation.

Well, if your heart can take it, another interesting place to see in Iligan City is the Tinago Falls. Literally hidden, in order to go and take a dip in its crystal-clear waters, you have to take more than 100-step of stairs down to the falls. That’s probably easy to descend, but going up is another story. Definitely it adds more excitement and adventure for travellers.

Ideal places to stay

Aside from natural wonders, Iligan is known for great accomadation with its posh hotels scattered around the city. One of them is Elena Tower Inn known among tourists for its close-to-home comfort. It is a 7-storey building boasting with 42 guestrooms located along Tibanga Highway. Maria Cristina Hotel named after the famous waterfalls is considered as the oldest and classy hotel in Iligan City. It is located at the heart of the city fronting the public plaza.

Cheradel Suites is a perfect place to stay and relax with its beautifully landscaped grounds, well-maintained facilities complimented with a very friendly and accommodating staff. This should be on top of your list once you visit Iligan City.

Best bistros

Iligan City takes pride of its attractive bistros and dining destinations that continuous to capture the discriminating taste of locals and tourists. Some of these famous restaurants that serve various kinds of culinary specialties are Sunburst Fried Chicken House along T. Badelles Street in Mahayahay, Dear Manok and Paengs’ Grill both located on Quezon Avenue extension; Tita Fannies along Zamora Street; Chrisven Restaurant situated on Juan Luna Street; and Kuzina Iliganon along Tibanga Hi-way. In fact, some of these bistros offer budget-friendly meals but luscious to the taste buds of diners.

Must-buy pasalubong

Iligan City is popular to some of the yummiest and exotic food pasalubong that visitors never failed to grab before they get home such as Chedings Peanuts, the Sukang Pinakurat, and Timonga’s Lechon (roasted pig).

Reaching Iligan City

The nearest airport to Iligan City is the Cagayan de Oro Airport. Flight time from Manila to Cagayan de Oro Airport is approximately one hour and 20 minutes.
From Cagayan de Oro Airport, get a taxi (to take you direct to Iligan), or get a taxi to drop you off at Bulua Bus Terminal (Cagayan). At Bulua Bus Terminal you can find buses going to Iligan. Travel time from Cagayan de Oro to Iligan is approximately one-and-a-half hour.
From Manila, you can take a boat going to Cagayan de Oro seaport, and then take a taxi or bus to Iligan City. From Cebu, there is a daily boat schedule going to Cagayan de Oro seaport.



(itravel Philippines July-August 2009 issue)

I am inspired with life. The traveller within me is driven to explore the horizon, the possibilities, and realisation of my dreams that springs from the deepest depths of my soul. I have this inner desire to share, to unravel the concealed wealth and wonders of a world around me through my genuine writings. Sometimes we desire for those that are not meant for us and end up losing our true identity along the way.

But in my altruistic and patient journey on a rugged road to nowhere, I found myself embracing something relevant: what makes us happy and inspired to live a contented life is treasuring what we truly have right from the start. Happiness is just a simple riddle of the heart if we learn to simplify the meaning of reality.

Travelling is a passion for me. I have always desired to convey my travels through my gift to write. For me, creativity as a writer is an instinct and the weight of my writings is an inner intuition. But still, at the back of my head, I have this belief that a “writer’s life” is a fate, an inevitable destiny to traverse.

Founding the first and unique magazine—i travel Philippines— is an incorporation of fresh, vibrant, and forceful ideas of passionate writers. We have the mutual desire to uphold our own cultural heritage, empower the tourism industry, bring back the pride as Filipinos in every piece that we write, and inked by the blood of our heart.

Embracing such selfless destiny of advocating the essence and significance of tourism industry, the sage writers behind this trailblazing magazine breathes with optimism and beautiful intentions. Tourism encompasses not only those places and destinations that grace the pages of books and magazines, landmarks and historical sites that mesmerise tourists and travel enthusiasts. If we could somehow learn to open our heart and soul to the real, realistic milieu of what tourism stands for-then we will unearth and bring to light its truest quintessence.

Tourism is not just a social theory. Everything around us is intertwined to create the focal concept of tourism. From the warm greetings you show to a stranger along the way or the candid conversation you always have with your favourite talaba vendor, the way of life within our community, locality, or society are indeed fragments of the entire substance of tourism. Tourism should be classless and universal. Each of us, our cultural identity, and our sense of pride as optimistic people is a living force of tourism that determines a congruent impression: this country truly deserves to become a perfect destination.

Associate Editor Bombette Marin has proven his prolific vision and noble aspiration as a travel writer for many years. In fact, being a resourceful and brilliant writer, he remained tireless, truly dedicated to promote the west Visayan culture through his widely published articles in national broadsheets and magazines. In this issue, he unravels the ancient-old, hand-woven fabrics of Iloilo and the festive energy of Badiangan’s Panadayan festival. Renewing his vow for mother nature, he takes us on a nature-tripping mood to the unspoiled treasures of Ajuy and the elemental mood of Igbaras’s Tangyan Festival.

Roger Rueda always knew he has the knack for writing. As this magazine’s managing and articles editor, his far-out ideas and enthusiasm for British English invigorate the desire of the editorial team to be distinctive from other magazines. In fact, he has just published his second English grammar book entitled “Apple Grammar.” Meanwhile, his fondness for scenic sites and pristine wonders inspires him to provide helpful travel tips for travellers.

Features Editor Lourdes Jiz de Ortega, a prolific PR consultant from Manila, has remained as one of my best friends in writing throughout the years. Because of her desire to appreciate the significance of her home city as the centre of commerce and cultural wealth, she weaves an insightful article about Manila.

Unexpected addition in the editorial team is my shy and witty cousin, Jordainne
Patrick Longno. He lends his pop culture instinct to review selected CDs featuring various genre of music artists. Travel and photography enthusiast Noel de Leon is another addition to the magazine’s creative team. His artistry and passion shows in every picture he captures for the magazines’ articles. Mayor Jerry
Treňas, the true inspiration of every Ilonggo and the visionary leader that has put
Iloilo City in the limelight of yearning for the crown as another Queen-City-in-the making is finally expressing his heart and reveries in a special interview.

So much has been said and written about Boracay Island. But none can be far more fascinating with Canadian-born and international blogging sensation Brian Gorrell in his article as he unveils his early fondness and memories of the paradise island. Brian’s sincerity is delectable as his phraseology.

Our navigational compass brought us to the shores of majestic Cebu, this month’s cover story. We explore her hidden treasures and old-world charm. Orlando Janson Cajegas chronicled the Queen City of the South glittering light by night.

Travelling with a purpose can be inspirational. I bet it is substantial.

Enjoy reading i travel Philippines.

Postscript: Substancewise, no matter who we are and what we have in life, we are nothing without our ideas that spark from our passion. It is from this very end that defines what we are truly capable of giving back to God who has bestowed us with gifts to redefine life to its fullest purpose.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

nostalgia of u and me...

Nostalgia from the heart:

a letter from someone far far away... and a memory away...

You could have kissed me
Like this wasn't gonna last
Kept me from saying
Something Ill never take back
You could have held me
Like there was no chance
Of me waking up where I am
You could have stopped short of
Every dream I've ever had

You had to be there when that old sun came up
Making last night feel like a vision of things yet to come
You just had to hold me like nobody else
Now look what you've gone and done
You had to love me
Till I just cant get enough, please, please

So help me friend you've gone too far
Its way too late to save my heart
The way it feels each time we touch
I know I've never been so loved

And I can't help myself
So help me...

(words filled my head as I turn back the hands of time
and find myself alone again in the ocean of words
weaved by a friend that I met out of nowhere)

Hey Rein,

Your account was very you have another friend I
ques, I sended you a friendrequest of hi5. And I hope you will
accept...........Rein, that is a dutch name is it....fill me in some



Hey Rein,

What nice of you to accept me as a friend. Were you surprised to hear
from someone?
I think that a lot in life is made possible by God. That means all the
people we meet....I can not tell from you message if you believe in a
God or in something esle, but he, we can learn from eachother, can we?
When I read your text, I get the impression that in a way you are in
need for a good friend, am I wrong?
I already can read inbetween the lines that you're a very nice and
good guy.
I'm looking forward to get to know you a lot better! And maybe we can
meet sometime in the future.

Hope to hear from you soon!!

your friend,


Hey Rein,

This is my work:

Hope you enjoy

Talk to you soon

friend William

Hey Rein,

Let me tell you a bit more about were i am from.
I was born in Sneek, Frieland, a northpart of the Netherlands. We
speak our own language there: Frysk.
It is a flat country with a lot of history. I grow up in Langweer a
smal village with about 1000 people.
This part of the country has the most old historic organs of all the
world. (
The oldest one is build in 1657. When I was 18, i moved to the city of
Rotterdam, one of our biggest city's.
I studied woodworking there intil i finished at age 22. Since then i
work in organbuilding.
It is a very short summary, bur everything you want to know , you may

And agian, I would like it a lot to have you as a new friend.

take care buddy!

Wim (William) Dijkstra

hey pal,

I'm turning 28, and you will be 24? Hope you don't mind 4 years of age
I always think that age is not that important.
The level of communicate is more important.
And I think we connct in that..
Did you see the work I do? and www,

well hope to hear ya soon,

do you have msn?



dear Rein,

If you want, we can also talk by phone sometime, There is a time
difference, but that isn't a big problem I guess.

Here is my number: 001 423 236 5466

Within two weeks that number is disconncted, but I'll have a

I'll let you know waht that number wil be.

Hope you'll try sometime.

We have still seven hours to go to newyear.

hope you have fun!

your friend,


Hey friend,

When I read this message, you make me quite....I think you found a
soulmate amd so do I.
It are words which, in maybe a little different way, I could write
down the same for you.
Don't worry, we'll be longlasting friends.
whenever there is a problem, or other things to talk about, please do,
I'm a good listener.
I am very happy that I responded to you hi5-account......Hope we'll
meet sometime soon...

have a great new year!
God bless.

your friend,

William Dijkstra.

hey friend,

will you try that phonecall soon?
I'd really like to talk to you in person! You can even call in the
middle of the night....
How much timedifference do we have between here and the philipins?
Hope to talk to you soon!


Dear Rein,

Thanks for your message. I'm happy to hear that I already can mean
something or you.
You really can make a difference, to people, to the world, in any way.
You've got skills to use, love to give and words to say. You can do
I think when people see your picture, they can know a lot already
about you, if they want to see it.
That is important: do we want to see the mirracles still happening in
the world. How would you your life be, if I didn't responded on your
hi5 photo? How would my life be? For me to go to this other end of the
world is a lifetime chance to meet a lot if people. And you are one of
them. Again, you CAN make a difference if you want.
But you know, it starts within yourself, you have to believe in
yourself, love yourself, then, only then you can give love to others.
And for the few words I have read from you, I already know you're going
the right way...keep it up!
About a girlfriend or married: I am still single....he you would be a
nice person to spend a life with....just joking....
I hope to hear you soon, by phone or by email.

have a good start of the new year!

love and hugs,


to be continued... I hope so....