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Family, Food, Politics

Cultural Heritage Tour Immersion: NCCA’s way of promoting culture and heritage to the people

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) partnered with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) to enlist media practitioners in various regions to go on a cultural and heritage seminar with onsite immersion to educate the media about our our local culture and heritage.

It was a great idea in the first place. Better that they included bloggers and social media influencers in the tour.

Our fist stop was the farthest, Region 2- the Cagayan Valley. Form our point of origin, Pangasinan, we travelled for almost 14 hours by land to reach our destination because we went to convoy with the Cordillera group.

The mural outside the Metropolitan Cathedral in Tuguegarao

 

St Peter Metropolitan Cathedral

The Saint Peter Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the largest Cathedrals in Region 2. It is an 18th century baroque church which is the seat of Catholicism in Cagayan Valley. In 1982, the National Historical commission installed a marker about the brief history of he church.

As a non- Catholic, I focused on the design of the structure. Its walls and ceilings not to mention the bell tower beside it. I was wondering about how it was made, for how long and who are the Filipinos that helped in the construction. The ceiling was remarkable, they designed it so well.

Panic Batil Potun is the cultural gastronomic experience in Tuguegarao

Pancit  Batil Patong (Potun, to some) is an experience in itself. It is made up of fresh noodles cooked in soy sauce and spices topped with almost all imaginable meat dishes. They have  crunchy chicken skin, chicharron, crispy-fried minced pork, ground beef etc. On top of it is a poached egg. Served with the panic of Chinese origin is a small bowl of chopped white onions, calamansi and soy sauce with a thick egg soup.

After a brief tour at St. Paul University in Tuguegarao to check out their monuments and their chapel, we boarded the bus towards the Municipality of Lal-lo. Its  far-away town but it uses to be a capital because of the Nuestra Seniora de Segovia. Now it would be the sub-capitol in the province. It also has a church, ruins and the municipal officials really wanted to invite in investors, universities and business in this town which will soon have an airport of its own.

The fountain statues at the Municipality of Lal-lo

Do you know where Camalaniugan is in Cagayan? It is the house of the oldest bell in PH. It is also where the most interesting ruins are found. And these ruins are so Instagrammable, I mean photo-worthy. If you are lucky enough, you will find Manong fisherman  there at the riverbank just behind the ruins.

The church marker for Camalaniugan 

 

inside the church
The oldest bell in PH is here. Tour guides say that it also came from Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan

 

The ruins of the old Camalaniugan church destroyed by strong typhoons, earthquakes and war

At the end of the day, we were housed at Claveria, Cagayan because our next stop is the Province of Ilocos Norte, Region 1.

What were our key takeaways during the trip to Region 2? That they have a lot of old churches and  those who have the faith can always turn to the church not only as a structure, but also a a good example Filipino resilience.

My next blogposts will be about Region 1, CAR, Region 3 and NCR. Stay tuned folks:)

Do you know where is this place?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, tourism, Travel

Best Places to Eat in Pangasinan: Matutinas – Gerry’s Seafoods

The bangus at the facade of the restaurant represent Dagupan’s pride, the tastiest milkfish

Matutina’s is an icon in Pangasinan dining experience. As it grows, it also evolves. We were able to taste Matutina’s – Gerry’s Seafoods thru the owner Mam Meng Pasion Austria. You will love her the first time you see her. She is like your best Tita ever or the best Ninang. Kindhearted, down-to-earth, very accommodating  and a good conversationalist.

Mam Meng Pasion Austria and husband Gerry own the restaurant

She accommodated us very well. Telling stories about how they started. It was her husband who thought of deviating from the original Matutina’s brand which belongs to their mom. Then his sisters eventually continued the Matutina’s branches in Bonuan where it began.

Sampler crab-a dab-dab in buttered garlic

Gerry, Meng’s husband and the heir to the Matutina brand put up his own, Gerry’s Seafood but still attached to the original name from the mom for goodwill.

The Austria couple strengthened their brand with seafood. Filipino dishes and seafood, Pangasinan seafood.

“Actually, Pangasinan seafood is the best, we have the best-tasting bangus, oyster, crab and other sea bounties” shares Mam Meng to the Norte Bloggers. True enough, we were served one of the best tasting seafood dishes in Pangasinan.

How can you say no to this big fat crabbie crustacean?

Can you ever say no to a King Crab? He will punish you with thick, hard crabby fat but drool. This is soo good. No, good is an understatement. This is fit for a queen. And kings and little royalties. A good amount of crab once in a while is also good for your sanity. Haha.

So go and indulge. Reward your palate.

Buttered oysters

Buttered Oysters are our second favorite. There are people from Manila that come over to Pangasinan just to eat buttered oysters from Matutina’s Gerry’s Seafood- and its not even a joke. If they are willing to do that, then their oysters must be that scrumptious.

We are Pangasinan, we live in Pangasinan where oysters are abundant, but for us to like the oysters at Gerry’s Seafood, it means ‘talagang masarap sya ha‘!

Pinakbet

Pinakbet is perhaps one of the most ordered veggie dish. It combines the abundant local vegetables cooked in fish sauce or bagoong, slices of pork and chicharon.

Hipon Crispy

You can talk all day and munch on this crispy-fried shrimp. Just dip it in the vinegar-garlic and spice sauce and you’re all good.

Pork Barbecue

No doubt, we are all barbecue lovers. I try to avoid red meat but when you see this pork barbecue in front of you with a piping hot bowl of rice, say goodbye to your diet plans. Its mouth-watering, I am honestly craving for barbecue while writing this post.  🙁

Singing na malaga

If you crave for that savory fish soup, order the Sinigang na Malaga. Malaga or samaral or siganid is a freshwater fish that has white meat and commands a premium price. It is usually served on special occasions. Their sinigang na malaga emphasizes the flavor and taste of the malaga, the savory, sour soup complements it.

Inihaw na Dagupan Bangus

You can find Inihaw na Dagupan Bangus anywhere in Dagupan but their bangus is definitely from a reliable Dagupan fishpond. So you actually taste its difference. Try also their Bangus sisig as well as the Kilawing Bangus. 

I will not forget to tell you to try their desserts which have stories of their own. Order the buko pandan, fruit salad, or the creamy leche flan.

Matutina’s – Gerry’s Seafoods can be found in De Venecia Extension, Dagupan City. Call them to reserve your table at 0977.826.0228 or 0932.853.9901. Look for Ms. Cherry, the ever-friendly manager.   Check out their Facebook page, too. They also have a branch in Urdaneta City along Mc Arthur Hi-way Nancayasan, San Fernando City, Pampanga and Tarlac. 

After the pleasant food experience, its time to take a photo of busog-faces.

Norte Bloggers pose with Mam Meng after the Food Crawl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, tourism

Best Places to Eat in Pangasinan: Caffe La Tea

Caffe La Tea is strategically located at the Star Building, Arellano St. Dagupan City. Just below the DTI office near Nepo Mall Dagupan. It mainly serves coffee, milk tea and Filipino food. Its a hip combination of a cafe+ a full service restaurant. It has a good concept offering both coffee, food and dessert.

What caught our attention is the creativity put into their dishes. This Crispy Binagoongan with Rice is surprisingly good. It has the right balance of salt, pepper and chunky crispy meat on top of a binagoongan rice.

Its unique, isn’t it? You and me might not guess at first glance that indeed it is crispy binagoongan. This best for breakfast, lunch and dinner dish is so versatile you can order it anytime of the day.

Crispy Binagoongan with Rice

I love the cozy interior of the cafe. Its relaxing and just the chill vibe that we all want while dining alone, with friends or family.

Cozy interior
Affogato is a dessert made of  ice cream or gelato, milk and cream in one glass

Affogato is a coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped or “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso. But in this case, its milk. And you will surely appreciate its combined flavors.

Caffe La Tea’s drink spread

You must order Perfect Matcha, CLT Houseblend Ice Tea, Green Apple Ice Tea and Lemongrass tea. These drinks will not only quench your thirst but make your taste buds ecstatic. All their drinks are the best, but my personal favorite is the Lemongrass tea coz I like it hot.

The food spread

We were intrigued with the CHIZ BUCO, a fried roll composed of cheese, young coconut or buko and other delectable filling. Chiz Buco is one of Caffe La tea’s signature bestsellers. The dip is so good, it really enhances the already flavorful ‘chiz buco’.

Look at the ambiance, it feels like your family living room area.

Our overall verdict for the experience is ” YOU MUST TRY THIS” and “ITS REALLY, REALLY GOOD.” 

Look at how the crew carefully and meticulously prepare every drink

The pasta is to die for. We have finished eating the pasta in less than a minute 🙂

Chicken pesto ( gone in almost 60 seconds)

 

Clubhouse sandwich, a comfort food

I wonder how devil this Devil Tofu is but it actually tastes so good. It became my instant favorite. Tofu is healthy and the gravy or sauce that CLT mixed in this dish is simply appetizing!

Devil tofu

What we love about Caffe La tea is its wide selection of menu as it offers a fusion of ‘east meets west’ cuisine and the Filipino comfort foods have taken an innovative transformation and presentation.

How about you? What is your favorite Caffe La Tea experience?

Call them for inquiries and reservations (075) 540.2237 and like them on Facebook

 

Food, tourism, Travel

Best Places to Eat in Pangasinan: Lucky Ba ngoAi’s Kitchen #9

Its very hard to pronounce its name so we call it the only Vietnamese restaurant in Dagupan. Its Lucky Ba ngoAi’s Kitchen #9. You can finish their bestseller Pho faster than trying to say the restaurant’s name. Well, three visits later and two food crawls after, I still find it challenging. Haha

very Vietnamese? Bloggers love the greens 🙂

We were served unlimited greens. And we loved it. Fresh rolls, light and yummy, its the kind of creatures you’ll gladly stuff in your tummy and it won’t complain.

 

The bestseller is Pho-bo-ga-tom

Pho-bo-ga-tom is a Vietnamese Beef or Chicken or Shrimp Noodle Soup and they serve it with fresh bean sprouts, lime and basil leaves. The aroma of the fresh herbs blends perfectly well in the hot soup. For only P178 pesos, you can have this Pho all to yourself. If you are like me whose tummy is as big as my fist, you can share it with a friend.

Come to Lucky Ba ngoAi’s Kitchen hungry and you will leave happy ever after.

Norte Bloggers in action

Norte Bloggers can’t get enough of these goodies. Everyone likes the spread. And the rolls are super healthy. Fresh veggies are wrapped to goodness!

caught in the act

Goi Cuon sold at P50 per piece is a Vietnamese spring roll with pork, prawn, vegetables, bun (rice vermicelli) and other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper. And take note, bloggers were actually caught doing their thing with the rolls. Haha.

Vietnamese Young coconut as dessert

My favorite food was of course the dessert! The young coconut dessert sold for only P120 is a great buy. I can finish two if really hungry. Its different, a jelly with the goodness of coconut in a not too sweet dish.

And the Ca-phe-nong (Vietnamese coffee), hmm, it sounds like the owner’s name, isn’t it? But don’t come to Lucky Ba ngoAi’s without ordering this coffee. Its heavenly good, trust me.

Ca-phe-nong Vietnames coffee

 

Cha gio (minced pork rolls)

These Cha gio Php128 minced pork rolls are one of the appetizers that is offered and its a must-try because the dip is uniquely different from our Filipino dips and sauces.

We went in hungry but we went out happily full. Its because we ate happy food and it could also happen to you. After the eating, its time to take a photo.

The staff/s  at Lucky Ba ngoAi’s are warm and friendly. When we came over, they gamely joined us in a photo.

Pangasinan Food Crawl featuring Norte Bloggers happy faces, happy tummies

The Vietnamese Restaurant is located at Malta St. Tapuac District Dagupan City. You may call them at 09260373312 and like them on Facebook .

 

Food, Travel

Best places to eat in Pangasinan: New Leaf Japanese Restaurant Dagupan

After having a successful food appreciation tour in Pangasinan, Pangasinan Bloggers together with Norte Bloggers and some bloggers and influencers all over Luzon and Visayas we were able to recommend some of the best restaurants in town.

New Leaf participated in the 2nd #PangasinanFoodCrawl.

Cute and unique chandeliers

New Leaf Japanese restaurant is cozily located along Perez Blvd. Dagupan City. Its interiors has that cherry blossomy- Japan feels. Owned and managed by spouses Julio and Leslie Dela Cruz, the brave couple who bring foreign restaurant concepts in Dagupan, New Leaf is a must-go to destination.

The spread that New Leaf prepared for us is an eye feast in itself.

Japanese spread from New Leaf

My personal favorites are the Cali Maki rolls and the Kani Salad. Its authentically Japanese and from the look itself its a pair of deliciously clean, nourishing food. Fans of Japanese food will love New Leaf and its menu. They serve the freshest ingredients and present them in visual artistry. Your eyes and body will thank you for it.

Food should not be made complicated. I like my food simple and nourishing. And I found that in New Leaf. And its worth sharing with you, too. People who would prefer their food ba-chic ( a combination of basic and chic) need not look far because New Leaf satisfies it, beautifully.

Kani Mango salad

The Kani salad is refreshingly tasty, its  carefully plated veggies are a feast to look at. Its crisp and crunchy with a perfect balance of dressing and the right amount of sweet and sour the mango has to offer.

I recommend you order both as well as the BAKED SALMON. Its really, good.

Baked Salmon

Yakitori Chicken with Onion Leeks which is soft and tender perfectly cooked, two sticks is not enough.

Yakitori Chicken with Onion Leeks

 

Ebi Tempura

At New Leaf, ask for  tea. Just like the Japanese do. Don’t just take my photos for it. Check them out. you can thank me later.

Mandatory pose with the chef

I personally asked the chef for a photo and a moment to thank him for an excellent job on the food and the presentation. Its undeniably impressive and I want to personally express my appreciation for what he is doing. And the management too. Good job Team New Leaf.

For orders and reservations, New Leaf has a Facebook page, and they can be reached at (075) 5225323

Have you tried to dine at New Leaf? Did you like it? Share your stories to me on the comment or tweet me @vanjpadilla.

Or if you enjoyed New Leaf, leave a review on their Facebook page and on Google Maps.

 

Food

Dragon Fruit farm in the foot of Mount Balungao


balungao dragon fruit farm

Known as the goat capital of Pangasinan province, and recently crowned for having the longest zipline in Southeast Asia, Balungao’s tourism industry continues to blossom.

And to further raise the Municipality’s treasure, the 2.5-hectare dragon fruit farm in Mt. Balungao is seen to attract visitors.

Dragon fruit or Pitaya prefers free draining soil with sandy to clay loam types or sandy soils like the land that can be found in Balungao.

Dragon fruit farming is widely popular in Central and South America. But thru research, it has reached different countries in Asia including the Philippines.

The Mt. Balungao Dragon Fruit farm is located in Napudot Road. The farm was developed in 2010 but the hefty harvest started just 2 years ago. According to Johnny Espe, owner of the farm, an expansion is planned due to the higher demand.

Espe is a nurse in profession but when he learned about the different benefits of dragon fruit, he started growing a few in their ancestral land in Balungao. Her sister who’s in California has helped him research on ways how to grow dragon fruit. And now, the whole family helps in the business.

“From June to November po ang fruiting season. Hindi mahirap itanim basta’t gamay mo siya. Kapag mainit ang klima, mas maganda ang tubo. Kaya swak na itanim dito sa Pilipinas kasi tropical country tayo”, he explains.

The potential of dragon fruit is very much brighter because it commands a very high price in the local market. It costs around P120 – 150 per kilo. Espe said three-year old dragon fruit can produce 5 – 6 tons per hectare amounting to P720,000 in the local market alone. It is no wonder that dragon fruit is now dubbed as the new money crop–truly, a high revenue earner.

“Marami kaming mga standing orders sa Manila. May mga kumukuha dito para ibenta sa market. Sa ngayon, P120 ang bentahan namin at nagbibigay kami ng discount kapag bulk order ang kukunin”, says Espe.

The Espe family plants different varieties of dragon fruit including red, white, and yellow variety. The red varieties are used to combat anemia. While the yellow is sweeter in taste and contains the heart tonic called ‘captine’.

The Mt. Balungao DF Farm is open for public where sightseers are free to pick their own fruits, and then pay afterwards.

“Enjoy ‘yung farm tour pati ‘yung fruit picking. Feeling ko, sa amin ‘yung farm. Pati mga bata, nag-enjoy. Syempre, aside dun sa experience, ‘yung benefit na makukuha mo sa dragon fruit, maganda kaya kumakain kami nito”, says Nathaniel Gancenia when he visited the farm.

The deep pink almost bright red scaly skin of the dragon fruit may be weird for some and looks like just a cactus, but the benefits are numerous. Some say that dragon fruits are called “priceless treasure”. It can be taken as fruit, flower, vegetable, health product or medicine.

Named the cleansing fruit for the whole body system, the dragon fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals and the fruit, including its flowers and peelings, are edible as well. It is also effective for weight loss, and it helps reduce risks of cancer.

Business, Food, tourism, Travel

Food, Investment ,Tourism and Technology (FITT) Blogger

Today I start my FITT Blog under my namesake. You can call me Vanj, from the bountiful province of Pangasinan. I am a digital influencer in my community. My day job is being a communications strategist specializing in social and digital media.

When not beating deadlines and not servicing clients, I blog. Among other things, hosting an agriculture and investment walkthrough show are two of my ventures that you will see here on later posts.

Recent Food Tour adventure, Bangsal’s Pinoy  Boodle Meal

I chose to blog about FOOD, INVESTMENT, TOURISM and TECHNOLOGY because its my passion.  My friends call me “laging gutom” (always hungry) because wherever I go, food is always an attraction for me. I am constantly looking for unique food offerings in a place. 
When travelling, I always assess the economic activity or non-activity of a place. Then see what they have or what they don’t. What they need and what would be profitable here. What is abundant and what is lacking. Then I ask myself, “what do they need, and how can I help them?”

The view from Sual viewdeck

Who doesn’t want to travel? I have been to a few places outside my country but I want to explore the beauty of the Philippines even more. It seems that every island has its own wonders and its really worth exploring.

    Amanjiwo Resort, Yogyakarta Indonesia

The advent of technology has modernized and made everything easy and shareable. Smartphones and tablets, netbooks and laptops has made every person his own media. It made everyone an instant publisher. Social media made it possible to distribute content easier and faster. Digital innovations are presented to the world at lightning speed. And then comes technology review and testing.  And since we move around the communications technology industry, it is imperative to be on top of it, at least be in the know, so you can teach and share.

What can you expect from  eVANJelist, the  FITT blogger? 

1. Lots of food adventures, interesting food stories from communities who make it.

2. Investment profiles of towns and cities and other remarkable business stories worth your while

3. Travel adventures and stories, destination stories, culture and the people, experiential tourism in the Philippines and Asia

4. Technology events, stories, ventures and start-ups

Join me, your local FITT Blogger and eVANJelist as we explore Asia and the rest of the world 🙂