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Bacolod City: Luzon to Visayas in two weeks (December 2017, Part 4)

After more than a couple of days in Iloilo, I could not really say anything negative except for how I wish I could stay there a little longer? Haha. Indeed, I liked the place. Urbanized yet still maintains that cozy atmosphere.

Still, if I would extend my stay, I’d just end up getting behind my schedules so it was simply time for me to pack up and head for Bacolod City, yes, another of those key cities in the country.

Iloilo Fastcraft & Roro Terminal

Iloilo City to Bacolod City. Fastcraft. 2h 20m. P200 + P30 terminal fee. With maximizing time in mind, I took the 10:30AM trip to the City of Bacolod and after a little over two hours, our ferry safely arrived at the port of Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Hmm. Looking at the map, it’s actually like just a stone’s throw away from Iloilo City, however, since we were coming from the river of Iloilo plus we need to navigate around Guimaras Island province, such explains why these fast ferries take over two hours of travel. Right.

Iloilo City to Bacolod City route

Anyway, unlike my earlier trips, I’m fresher here having had a few days of rest and leisure in Iloilo — that in fact, right after I arrived in Bacolod, I just dropped off my luggages in my hotel room and left for “The Ruins” right away. Yeah, The Ruins! And that landmark is even like outside of Bacolod City already!

Of course, I needed to eat lunch first. And so after having Bacolod’s specialty in Chicken Inasal, I was ready and off to The Ruins!

Leaving The Ruins though is more of a challenge since it’s isolated and there are not many tricycles that ply the road out there, so do not be surprised if you are asked for a P50 fare going back to Bata terminal — yeah, even with somebody else on board. I was.

Anyway, we’ll be having a special blog about The Ruins — in pictures!

TRIVIA. Did you know that it was in this tourist spot that I had the most “selfies”? And would you believe that I literally had a thousand photographs in all of this 2-week travel escapade?? Unbelievable, that if I do not be selective and just post each one of these pictures daily, that’s good for like a 3-year spread in social media! Wow!

Coming up, the last leg of our holiday travel spree!

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Iloilo City: Luzon to Visayas in two weeks (December 2017, Part 3)

After finally deciding on not pushing through with a Boracay adventure, unlike my other stops, I then immediately took the bus to Iloilo City — yeah, before I change my mind and head to Boracay instead. Ow. After all, it’s really tempting..

Especially when you think of spending the night first in Caticlan! Remember, Boracay is just 15 minutes away. And since I only slept for an hour in the ship to Caticlan, I thought I might get dizzy (you know how the bus could smell when its freshener and aircon are mixed with different odors) if I would just go straight to Iloilo.

225 kilometer route from Caticlan to Iloilo City (estimated time by car travel)

Caticlan to Iloilo City. Bus. 6h. P387. One might say just sleep in the bus since it’s a looong trip to Iloilo, then again, I couldn’t get to really close my eyes that long — since everything around me was new! Oh yeah, I did sleep in my trip from Manila to Batangas but I already know Manila and Batangas was nowhere in sight yet. So.

Halfway to Iloilo City, a nice breakfast stopover

Nonetheless, the trip had a stopover for breakfast which was good considering not just the long trip but for those passengers who wish to refurbish their energy levels. And yes, the bus had free WiFi on board but what’s the use when my phone was almost empty at 10 percent — so better preserve its power for some shots along the way. Still, what’s nice about this bus (which was actually a Ceres Liner) was that it had a toilet on board, certainly convenient so as not to interrupt long trips. It’s located at the middle part of the bus and aligned with the luggage compartment. So just imagine the elevation of the passenger seats and the height of the bus itself!

After six hours of land travel from Caticlan to Iloilo, I immediately sought to check-in to my hotel to unload my luggages then leave for lunch — yes, before returning and taking a brief rest as my phone’s also dead; and so, I could not really take photos of anything yet.

While there were many places I checked out in Iloilo City, guess one of the highlights of my stay was the Iloilo Riverside Boardwalk in Mandurriao. Unfortunately, I visited this wonderful tourist spot right after my lunch at SM City Iloilo the following day. So, why “unfortunately”? Because I was not on the mark for the Iloilo Esplanade River Ride. Notice the schedules in the video?

Anyway, we would be having pictures of my Iloilo trip and the rest of my adventures in the coming blogs once the whole trip back to Cebu has been completed, so stay tuned.

Next up, Part Four of our continuing travels!

Consumer Info: All About Honey

Yes, we have all heard of how healthy honey is; after all, it is the elixir of life. Not surprisingly, not many knows the exact benefits of honey, much more how to distinguish pure honey from adulterated honey. So, here goes..

First. We understand that you already know that honey could even come in many varieties, right? Like floral, fruity, smokey, woody, spicy or earthy — all depending on the source of its nectar. Also, that honey could be clear to as dark as molasses in its appearance — yet with all these, don’t be surprised if some of them smells fresh while others are even pungent! Bottom line is, you could only get the full benefits of honey if it’s pure. Thus, if the supermarket is your only access to honey, at least make sure to examine its physical qualities before buying them. How?

  1. Real honey has some small particles suspended within it while the fake ones do not.
  2. Real honey is thick and dense while fake honey is thin and runny.
  3. Check the label. Real honey contains only one ingredient — honey.
Especially if no ingredient is listed on the label then think twice before buying the honey

NUTRIENTS. Raw honey contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals and 5,000 enzymes. Minerals include iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium while the vitamins in honey include vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin.

BENEFITS. Boosts energy. Reduces muscle fatigue. Regulates blood sugar. Treats cough and sore throat. Heals (surgical) wounds, cuts, minor burns and ulcers. Protects from infection, odor and pus. Reduces acid production in the mouth for better oral health. Helps with insomnia. Good moisturizer and treats skin fungus. Reduces and controls weight. Improves appetite and digestion. Relieves constipation, diarrhea and dysentery. Helps kidneys function better. Aids in blood cleansing as well as in its regulation and circulation.

DOSAGE: 1 tbsp a day if only  for maintenance purposes

STORAGE. Not in cans but glass jars or plastic containers. Do not expose to sunlight, near heat or inside the fridge but in a cool, dry place where temperature is stable.

EXPIRY. Because of its unique composition and chemical properties, honey could be preserved long term — like, decades or even centuries. The key to preservation is limiting its access to humidity; if honey is exposed to moist air, fermentation could begin and eventually ‘damage’ the honey.

Store and carefully seal honey in glass jars or plastic containers

AUTHENTICITY. It is but common sense that if we really want pure honey, it would be best if we just get it straight from a bee farm — then again, how many actually has the time and proximity to do that? And so, this would leave us with almost no choice but to buy from the sidewalk or just blindly trust supermarket displays wherein most are not really concerned about our health but only our money.

TESTING. Now while we could physically examine honey in supermarkets, such scrutiny only gives us a clue to its purity — nothing else. Especially in cases like this, facts could only be verified through actual testing. Unfortunately, many times that testing would not be possible in supermarkets since honey here is sealed or totally wrapped — and determining prices does not mean anything to its purity! Therefore, you would only know about its authenticity once you have bought the honey and tested it at home.

Prices does not really have anything to do with the purity of honey
  • Water Test. Fill a glass with water. Add a tablespoon of honey. Pure honey settles at the bottom of your glass while adulterated honey will dissolve in water because of its sugar content.
  • Flame Test. Dab some honey on a piece of cotton. Light it up with a matchstick. Pure honey would burn while adulterated honey would not light up because of its water content.
  • Finger Test. Put a small drop of honey on your fingernail. Pure honey stays put longer while adulterated honey would easily drip down your finger.
  • Bread Test. Apply some honey on a slice of bread. Pure honey hardens the bread in minutes while adulterated honey would make the bread ‘soggy’ because of its moisture content.
  • Stickiness Test. Rub some honey between your fingers. Pure honey is not sticky while adulterated honey would be sticky because of its added sweeteners.
  • Absorption Test. Pour a few drops of honey on blotting paper. Pure honey does not get absorbed in blotting paper which has the opposite effect on adulterated honey. Also, if you pour pure honey on a white cloth, it would not leave stains — unlike adulterated honey.
  • Egg Yolk Test. When poured into a container with yolk alone and then mixed, the yolk would appear cooked if the honey is pure — while it does not have any effect if the honey is adulterated.
BEWARE: Honey can give botulism to children under 1-year-old  (Photo: Getty)

REMINDER: Honey should never be given to pregnant women or children under 1 year old. Heating honey at high temperatures would not only reduce its potency but could even produce carcinogenic effects.

Food & How To: Durian Mousse Cake (Bánh mousse sầu riêng)

Since the Philippines is actually no stranger to durian as it’s abundantly grown particularly in Davao, the challenge now is creating something delicious aside from the usual by-products we know such as candy, pie, ice cream and float.

And we found this. A durian mousse cake.

Well, though you could substitute durian with mango or strawberry as in Helen’s recipe, we better stick with durian since this is what the feature is all about. Anyway, while the ingredients are actually easy to find, the different sets of ingredients makes it look complicated — as the durian mousse itself is even like a recipe within a recipe. Still, take heart, surely this cake is worth it.

Durian mousse being mixed and prepared

BATTER. 4 fresh eggs. 2 tbsp vegetable oil. 1 tbsp water. 1 tsp vanilla extract. 1 tsp salt. 1/2 tsp cream of tartar. 100 grams of sugar. 100 grams of flour.

DURIAN MOUSSE. 400 grams durian flesh. 200 ml milk. 1-2 tbsp of sugar. Gelatin liquid (15 grams gelatin powder and 3 tbsp water). 50 ml of whipping cream.

TOPPINGS. Your choice, however, Helen suggests it be caramelized dry coconut or coconut flakes. Key is to top your cake with a flavor that would enhance or blend well with durian.

Did you know that there are several varieties of durian?

The end product or the finished cake itself looks good so, if you have not tried one, just imagine its taste — what with the egg yolks, vanilla extract and durian all mixed together??

Enjoy!

Cocktail: How to Make a Whiskey Sour

Here’s another cocktail that has an egg white — the Whiskey Sour! Not only is it one of the more bracing drinks especially in a hot summer, it is also one of the easiest to make as well! Like, the ingredients are just about anywhere. So, forget the ‘sour’ thing, we got you covered.

Consider the ingredients: 2 oz. of Bourbon or Rye Whiskey, 3/4 oz. simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water), 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice, and an egg white. And for your garnish — orange slice and cherry.

There you go! The secret. Fresh lemon juice! Now, while substitution would be fine, obviously, trying to create your own ‘sour mix’ for this particular cocktail would only mess up its taste a bit.

Try to use freshly squeezed lemon instead of making a sour mix

Speaking of taste, with lemon, t’is sour; but when you add simple syrup, it becomes like a lemonade. Yet since there is whiskey, the drink becomes kinda potent — especially if you cut back on the lemon juice and add more whiskey. The thing then is, don’t try to really balance the whiskey and the lemon but try to preserve the whiskey’s identity — besides, you would be adding an egg white.

Whiskey Sour: Measurement variation

Okay, while an egg white is a classic part of this cocktail, it is actually optional. Like, if you use Gomme syrup (sugar, water and gum arabic) instead of the simple syrup, you could in fact do away with the egg white — of course, though it would not be quite the same then. Thus, especially for first-timers, you should give the egg white a try. It’s silky and frothy that you could very well enjoy it all the more.

In Pictures: Hidden Valley Wave Pool (Pinamungahan, Cebu)

Have you been to Pinamungahan? How about to their Wave Pool? Well, it is said to be Cebu’s first wave pool, you know the kind of ‘wavy’ stuff you normally see at the beach — so it must be some place that would interest many — yes, in spite of the distance.

To Get Here. With your starting point at the South Bus Terminal, take a bus going to Lutopan, Toledo City. Then ride a ‘habal-habal’ which is P60 per head — and that’s just one way, so imagine how far it is from the highway. Yes, 7.8 kilometers. Do not worry though, there are already motorbikes waiting over there as well that is for those who are done with their experience.

The signage where you should stop: Brgy. Bunga
Opposite the signage is the start of the 7.8 kilometer road to Hidden Valley

Still, the distance is about 58 kilometers from Cebu City with buses taking the Naga-Uling road, however, if you got your own vehicle — you could take the Toledo wharf road. This is to the right of Tabunok proper, or the road going to Jaclupan. Either way, it would still take at least around 2 hours of travel — but for your gasoline’s sake, of course, the shorter distance would be preferable.

The main entrance and to the left is the reception area
Just inside the resort and the parking area as well

Well, parking would not be a problem here as you can see.

The actual resort entrance

Meanwhile, the wave pool fee is P150 for adults and P125 for kids.

To the right upon entering
To the left upon entering

As of this writing, they are planning to put up a zip line and sky bike.

Directions

The area is about 2,000 square meters and has 2 resorts actually, so you might get confused. Just ask. The one we are featuring is the Wave Pool Resort while the other one is the Mountain Resort.

Full-length view
Near the wave machine
Opposite end of the pool
Another angle of the opposite end
The opposite sidelines
The waves
Waves from the sidelines

Cottages are nicely located and pretty affordable though.

Tables and Chairs: P350
Umbrella Cottage: P500
Inside the native cottage: P600
Mushroom cottage: P800

However, what’s not really nice here is the corkage. Imagine paying P50 per menu or kilo for food?? How about P100 per case on drinks, or P250 per one whole lechon? It’s like you’re being forced to buy.

Like, short orders ranging from P105 to P180 on single round buffet.

Accommodation

Meantime, accommodation is from P2,500 to P8,750 per room and though you would have free use of pools, that depends on the type.

The resort’s top view

In the end, coming over for the day tho would be a nice experience.

Movie Review: Transformers – The Last Knight (2017)

So we’re already on the fifth of the Transformers series in The Last Knight — and have you seen it last night? Ho, kidding aside, this franchise is one of the most followed series for past the decade — and rightfully so, it’s got a good foundation way back from its first release in 2007.

The Synopsis. Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Now, it’s up to the unlikely alliance of inventor Cade Yeager, Bumblebee, an English lord and an Oxford professor to save the world.

Looking deeper and beyond movies, humans against machines could be in an inevitable war — what with the continued development of robots, yes, especially in terms of AI. See for one, there are already those who lost their jobs to automation — and later on, this number would only grow.

Yet what’s more scary is when the time comes that these robots could not be controlled anymore — and that’s gonna be the start of a real war between man and machine! Actually, these thoughts came to screen in The Terminator from long time ago — and the Transformers only made it a little ‘playful’.

Anyway, ever since Shia LaBeouf (a.k.a. Sam Witwicky) had been replaced as the franchise’s lead star, the movie has actually gone sour. Like, the interest just got affected somehow, let alone, when Megan Fox left after the movie’s second installment. Not that Mark Wahlberg did a bad job, it’s just that the ‘life cycle’ jumped way too far. Hey, can’t they just grow with the film? Like Harry Potter and many others, you know.

The box office just shows the effects. Let’s see why.

One. The Last Night have become a little messy, yeah, the story line. Like, robots having a past here on earth?? These are just robots, mind you. And trying to incorporate robots into human history is already like an overdose of brainwashing. It’s unnecessary. This is not some kind of super hero or fantasy film like Peter Pan or something — so, there’s no need to go overboard.

Two. If the foundation is shadowy then what follows is sort of questionable — like robots at sea or something like that?

Three. The movie is what, more than 2 hours long?? Wow, just way too long! Two hours could have been enough to make a diehard real satisfied, so definitely scenes should have been cut in the narrative.

In all, if all you want to see are robots that are fighting then perhaps you would be entertained here; then again, the battle scenes have just become a little monotonous — while the effects are, well, guess they just tried too hard to give viewers a good time.