Baler, Philippines: Experiencing the Epic Waves and a Whole Lot More

The idea of playing with a huge water-board was ecstatic.

However, more than this water sport, I realize that there are many other things in Baler that i should be thrilled about; and these I experienced together with my friends in a full-packed three-day trip.

I don’t want to discuss anymore the how-tos/ travel guide and tips because I know that there are many blogs entries out there talking about this same usual topic, let the captured images below do the talking and present the exquisite beauty of Baler. Nature, history and custom in one exciting trip that I will never forget.

Museo De Baler

Museo De Baler

Facade of the famous Museo de Baler.

manuel l quezon statue

In the middle of a plaza-liked space in front of the museum is a life-sized statue of the country’s ‘Ama ng Wikang Pambansa’ , Manuel L. Quezon.

Manuel Quezon

Image of Manuel L. Quezon placed inside the museum, honoring the country’s champion of the national language.

art piece-museo de baler

One of my favorite art pieces in the museum. A miniature of an old sea transportation. Amazing!

Painting-Museo De Baler

A painting commissioned by former senator Angara. It shows the rich culture and history of the province.

Great Water Sceneries

overlooking from PAGASA

Overlooking. From where we stand (PAGASA headquarter’s rooftop) you can see this overwhelming beauty, I’m speechless.

overlooking from PAGASA2

Peace and serenity. Its how I characterized this shot. Peaceful yet breath-taking. I hope I can always have a view like this whenever I need to escape from all the stress of the world.

The Estuary. Have you ever encountered a real one? The feeling is out of this world. Rock!

The Estuary. Have you ever encountered a real one? The feeling is out of this world. Rock!

Lukso-Lukso Islets

The Islets. Famously tagged as the Lukso-lukso islets. One of the attractions in Baler that a traveler/ foreigner should not miss. One word, Fantastic!

big falls-baler

Mother of all falls. The Ditumabo Falls, the highest in Baler that will make you scream for so much excitement. Expectedly, the water is as cold as ice but nevertheless, the experience was incomparable.

little falls- baler

Beside the huge, tall falls are these cute little ones. Nature at its best.

little falls- closeup- baler

The little one’s closeup shot.

Other Interesting Finds

Lobster- Baler

Huge Lobster for Sale. In one of the cariderias that we visited, we saw these huge creatures ready to be eaten. We didn’t try it due to its luxurious price, we thought of spending our money to other more  important things.

century tree

The Epic Century Tree. Its enormous and creepy. This balete tree is said to be as old as the elders of Baler.

After all these side trips, we went to the Sabang spot where we did the much-anticipated water activity- the surfing. The overcast weather was perfect that we didn’t worry us getting sunburns. The waves were not that great but all enough for first-timers like us.

And yes, after all the abrupt slides and painful bumps, most of us managed to balance and do the surfing moves. Happy and proud!


Mr. Alex Santillan, one of my friends, in action. Thanks Extreme Outdoor for this shot!


Mang Tony and his Fish ball story

Street foods were undeniably one of the oldest and fastest growing industries in our country. It penetrated our culture that it became part of our everyday lives especially those people in a hurry, in the middle of heavy workloads and never-ending deadlines. For them street foods are not bad at all, in fact, it  help them save time and money as well.

One of the most famous Pinoy street foods

Fish ball is one of those that we enjoyed a lot. It is flat in shape and most often made from the meat of cuttlefish or pollock, usually served with sweet and spicy sauce or thick, black sweet and sour sauce.

The popularity of this food has been intense. It became mushroom-liked business that sprouted in almost all busy corners of the streets, along side of the offices, churches, schools, public parks, malls and movie houses.   Pinaka, one of  QTV 11 (now GMA News TV) shows cited fish ball as the third most popular street food in the land despite the uncertain sanitation of the vendors. According to some customers, it tastes good, easy to find and very affordable.

Yummy fish balls plunged in sweet and sour sauce

However, as we enjoy the crispiness and affordability of this street food, most of the vendors who try to sell it to public are struggling in almost all aspects of their lives.

Mang Tony a 45-year old fish ball vendor is one of those people who make use of this small business for a living. He started the business almost ten years ago after he got dismissed as a factory worker for some unknown reason that he didn’t wanted to mention anymore.

Mang Tony, the fish ball vendor!

From mid-morning till noon, he stands by near Sta. Clara Parish High School and St. Marys Academy in Pasay, where he has a crowd of customers, from schoolchildren to mothers waiting for their children to tricycle drivers and passersby. After class dismissal he goes around the area of Libertad with his push-cart for some chance buyers. With that routine, he earns some P300 a day or if it’s a lucky day P400.

“It’s tiring, most of the time, after a long distance walk in this whole area of Pasay, my legs and my feet are aching. I usually put some ointment or drink a capsule of pain reliever to somehow ease the pain because I can’t afford to get sick, I have my family who depends on me,” Mang Tony said in Tagalog.

— Mang Tony is only one of those who continue to struggle

on one of the oldest problem of this country—poverty.–

Having four children is a tough challenge to Mang Tony. He admitted that they usually fall short when it comes to their daily budget. But Mnag Tony tries to make use of his earnings for his family to have a filling meal everyday and for his children to go to school. His wife raised a small sari-sari store in their small house to somehow lessen their financial problem.

Poverty in the Philippines lingers

Definitely, Mang Tony’s family is struggling. On the national level, a family of six – the average Filipino family – now needs a total of P598.60 to survive daily, based on July data from the government’s National Wages and Productivity Commission. But an independent estimate by IBON Foundation reveals that the daily cost of living in Metro Manila has risen to P637.24 as of August (of 2011), a nine percent increase from the same period last year (2010).

Two of Mang Tony’s children are in Grade School while the other two are in High School. He mentioned that it’s hard to raise a family with the kind of work that he has right now. However, he still has a dream of letting all of them finish their studies for them to have a better future and not to be like him who didn’t even finished high school.

Selling fish balls became Mang Tony's livelihood

“My oldest is graduating this year; I really want her to go to college because she wants to be a flight stewardess. That’s the only treasure that I could give them. Maybe I’ll be staying in streets for longer hours or have an extra business just to answer that college education need,” Mang Tony said while he plunged some fish balls to the pan of hot cooking oil.

He also narrated that after his job in the factory, he never had a chance to be accepted again in other companies. He cited his lack of education as one of the aspects that hindered him to get a job. He came from a poor family in Pampanga. He wasn’t able to attain good education because his family, same as what he has right now, struggled to have food in their table every day.  After finishing his second year high school he started looking for a job to help his family but eventually, after two years here in Manila, he met Adela, his wife.

“It’s difficult to live in poverty. You will be tired of thinking about the food for lunch, for dinner and if there something left for tomorrow and for the children’s baon to school. If I will not do fish balls selling in just one day my family will get hungry.”

The Philippines’ poor, including Mang Tony’s family, are expanding by around 1.3 million every year. Rising food prices and sluggish wage growth means that more families cannot afford to feed themselves, government data showed.

There should always hope to each one of us just like Mang Tony

Mang Tony is only one of those who continue to struggle on one of the oldest problem of this country—poverty. However his perception of life was all positive hopes compared to some, who continue to whine without doing anything to have a productive life. He continues to be persistent and do his best to have a better life through selling fish balls. He has a dream that his small business today will be a big boom in the future, he just need to be patient and strive harder.

“There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, that’s the only thing I can do for free nowadays, my fish balls will help me reach that dream.”

Photo Credits:

Have a bite of Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner when you finally feel the cold freezing morning, see people hanging their colorful decors, installing a symbolic tree and finally, smell simbang-gabi’s favorite treats like puto bumbong and of course, the best-selling bibingka.

Bibingka, the taste of Christmas

Bibingka, the taste of Christmas

Made out of galapong (milled glutinous rice), coconut milk, margarine and sugar, bibingka has been one of the most anticipated street foods during dawn masses of Christmas season.

Seeing vendors with their traditional clay pot with coals inside boosts people’s interest in buying this early morning treat. Though the preparation could be really time consuming (see below sample procedure), exciting taste buds still patiently wait, long list of orders can never be a hindrance.

How about getting a bite of this mouth-watering treat even if it’s not the season of giving?

Fresh and creamy, delicioso!

Fresh and creamy, delicioso!

Bibingka is not anymore a seasonal delight. Thanks to those innovative minds that came up with the idea of making it one of the favorite afternoon snacks or even desert.  Now, it can be easy for everybody to find this deli and taste it like there’s no more tomorrow.

No need to wait long, all you need to do is to drop by to the nearest mall and look for a stall or food station that sells this favorite Christmas treat. With our modern lifestyle today, almost everything can be sold in an instant, right before your very eyes.

Bibingka in a box

It is highly recommended to look for Bibingkinitan. Yes you heard it right and yes they are selling mini-bibingkas which are (I’m sure) enough to satisfy every longing taste bud.

'Take home a box'

'Take home a box'

“Bibingkinitan is great tasting because of the special ingredients that we are putting in every piece. The quality of our product is always our priority,” said Bibingkitan’s Festival Supermall Alabang Branch employee.

–Now, it can be easy for everybody to find this deli and taste it like there’s no more tomorrow.–

Its creaminess mixed with a salty-sweet taste (because of butter and sugar, I guess) makes it more exceptional and really special. Like the usual Bibingka, it is placed in a small banana-leaf and topped with either cheese or salty egg.

The difference with the traditional bibingka is the use of the electric oven instead of a clay pot. Nevertheless, the taste is still rich and worth a couple of penny.

Bibingka + kapeng barako= great eating experience!

For only Php20, you can have the tastiest small-sized bibingka in the land and for only Php120, you can bring home a box of six bibingkas. Sounds great, right?

Bibingka delight!

“The taste of their bibingka compliments with coffee’s taste and aroma and it’s more affordable,” said Sheree Hilario, one of Bibingkinitan’s regular customers.

Have you tried grabbing a box of deliciously baked bibingka?

...because they love to have a bite of Christmas 🙂

The ‘I’ note:

My friends and I usually go out to grab a box and taste this deliciously baked bibingka. Since most of Bibingkinitan’ branches do not have a place for dining-in (specifically in Festival Alabang), we always go straight to our favorite coffee shop (if it’s for merienda) to savor every bite of our mini-bibingkas,  of course with brewed coffee on the side.

This became a venue for us to relieve ourselves from all the stress and worries of the whole day work and to do chit-chats (that actually last for long hours).

This, i think, is the best way to enjoy the creamy and luscious bibingka of Bibingkinitan- with good friends, hot brewed coffee and a lot of tsismisan!

How about you?

Here’s the procedure: How to make traditional Filipino bibingka

1. Add sugar to the galapong.

2. Add baking powder, melted butter, and the well-beaten eggs and coconut milk. Mix well.

3. Pour a thin layer of this batter into a hot (native clay) baking pan or molds lined with banana leaves (which has previously been passed over an open flame, to soften the fibers).

4. Cover each baking dish with a galvanized iron sheet with live embers on it. (or Bake in a pre-heated hot oven (375 F) until golden brown)

5. When almost cooked, sprinkle grated cheese and sugar on top of each — and cover again. Continue baking until brown; brush top of bibingka with melted butter and serve hot with grated coconut.

Note: If you want a more waxy, chewy “feel” to the bibingka, try mixing malagkit rice to make the galapong. For example, try the ratio of 1/4 cup malagkit rice to 3/4 cup regular

Recipe from:

Not your ordinary vegan restaurant

Bodhi Vegetarian Restaurant, stands out

Different dishes, meat, vegetables, sauces, rice, condiments and a drink station.

Everything seems so ordinary with this buffet-styled restaurant that we usually see in most food courts of the famous mall chain in the country.

Bodhi restaurant might be something new to the ears of many of us but this seems-ordinary food house has been satisfying the cravings of many vegan eaters in the country for more than eight years now.

It started with an idea to revolutionize the vegetarian eating experience. Dan Sy, Bodhi Philippines CEO began thinking of something new to the taste of the Filipino people. He saw and tasted a lot of restaurants in the Philippines but there is a recurring fact in every eating experience he had – unhealthiness.

A study led by the Harvard School of Public Health provides the strongest evidence yet that meat is bad for the health. A study of more than 100-thousand health professionals found that regular consumption of red meat, particularly processed red meat, was associated with increased mortality risk.

Variety of options

One daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 13-percent increased risk of mortality, and one daily serving of processed red meat was associated with a 20-percent increased risk.

This became his inspiration to fully operationalize a restaurant that will support healthy diet for longer life. This serves not only those vegans but also those ordinary customers who would still like to taste the tender meat without sacrificing the health aspect of the diet.

Tender Meat for a vegetarian dish

Many are not convince that meat could still be part of every vegetarian meal. If other vegetarian restaurant can’t, surprisingly, Bodhi restaurant can.

Texturized meat with curry sauce

A lot of people enjoy Bodhi’s great tasting dishes. The meat that they use as part of every meal is not the traditional meat from the poultry houses of Manila.

They called this texturized- meat which basically made out of soy protein. Texturized vegetable protein (TVP), textured soy protein (TSP), soy meat, soya meat, it has a lot of names but it means generally the same.

–This serves not only those vegans but also those ordinary customers who would still like to taste the tender meat without sacrificing the health aspect of the diet.–

It is a defatted soy flour product which is a by-product of extracting soybean oil. It is often used as a meat analogue or meat extender. It is quick to cook, with a protein content equal to that of meat.

“This texturized-meat became Bodhi’s trademark. This main ingredient of Bodhi food products became the reason why people always visit our food station,” said Mary Ann Pinente, one of Bodhi’s branch managers.

The food choices

Food choices from Bodhi restaurant

 Contrary to what others think that food selections from Bodhi might be unsatisfying and not that enticing, Bodhi takes pride to the taste and appearance of their foods and their food station as a whole.

“Not because we’re not using real meat means we’re producing less-tasting food selections. In fact we have mouth- watering and wide variety food selections that we offer fresh every day,” said Pinente.

They offer many Filipino and Asian favorites like sweet barbecue kebabs, curried gluten, pancit canton and bihon (stir fried noodles), fresh lumpia (spring roll), chop suey (stir fried mixed vegetables), sweet and sour gluten, and various vegetarian desserts.

Sweetened meat balls for lunch?

For a very affordable price, you can get a bite of these food choices. Not only you will experience a deliciously cooked meal but also you will feel good health in every bite.

“I like eating Bodhi foods. I always eat here. It’s healthy and delicious at the same time and it’s also affordable,” said Alex Santillan, Bodhi restaurant customer.

Bodhi’s budget meals start at P79 with two viands or dishes (choices of entree), one scoop of white rice, and one bowl of soup when available.

Meat with broccoli and mushroom for dinner

For a healthier option, order one vegetable plate consisting of mostly vegetables like chop seuy and pinakbet. Avoid having white rice, noodles and other sweet dishes.

Bodhi is a good choice and a much-embraced healthy alternative to all those other stalls at the food court.  As its name suggests, the food selections are enlightening. It awakened the sleeping vegan side of every Bodhi customers.

Photo credits: