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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Escape to Cebu

As the year draws to an end, it made me wonder how wisely I spent my time and energies this holiday season.  After all, as Epicurus once said, "Not what we have, but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance."

While it was felt that this was a more challenging year than most that we've gone through, I am happy to say that my family and I were able to escape all the heavy traffic, the jostling among crowds and crowds in the different malls trying to complete our gift lists, and the general lamentations carried with emptying wallets as the expenses keep coming this holiday season.

For one, it was agreed among friends that we will forgo the gift-giving and just have a wonderful time together with stories and interesting conversation over a meal in some restaurant.  It was certainly more enjoyable that way, and Facebook updates were reserved for people who happen to be far, far away.

For another, the opportunity to get out of Metro Manila just as the holiday was coming to a head around Christmas time, was taken in a heart beat. 


Indeed, a trip to Cebu was all we needed to simplify things.  While Cebu City itself did not escape the holiday rush - traffic was also a problem - we limited ourselves to Mactan and Lapu-Lapu Islands, which also make up the province of Cebu.


As returning guests to Mactan Shangri-La Hotel, it was a welcome opportunity to relive the good memories we have of staying here.  The resort hotel has its own claim to the white sands of Cebu's beaches, amenities that included the Chi spa, a playground for toddlers and younger kids, a gameroom or mini arcade for older ones, and private rooms for karaoke/videoke singing (if you are into that kind of thing.)



As a hotel guest, you won't feel like you want to leave the premises, as it is self-sustaining.  Nevertheless, a trip to Cebu will not be complete unless you venture outside the hotel and try out the Sutokil restaurants that are just a few minutes' ride away.  You won't miss it since it is right beside the Lapu Lapu and Magellan landmarks.  Sutukil is short for SUgba, Tula, and KILawin (grill, boil and raw), or the ways in which you can have your food eaten.  A Sutukil restaurant means, you pick your seafood or meat fresh from the counter, and instruct the attendants how you want this fish or that prawns cooked.


For our part, we requested our prawns to be cooked with butter garlic sauce, a popular choice.  Ours came cooked properly since the shell fell off easily from the meat as we peeled it.


Then we also got one whole Talakitok, a big and flat silver-scaled fish usually good for grilling.  Thus, we requested  the body to be grilled, and for the head to be cooked into Tula (or tinola in Tagalog).  However, Tula in Cebu means it is cooked sinigang style, or with a sour broth, and this means using lemon grass, and little else, as souring agent.  This is different from a Tagalog sinigang which uses either tamarind, calamansi (Philippine lime), kamias or even guavas.  




Other must-eats would be the baked scallops with a rich, buttery coating, and the fresh seaweed salad, which beads pop the flavors of the sea right in your mouth.  All these, while eating among the mangroves and the sea breeze whipping on your face.


We did not go back to the hotel just yet.  We walked off that gargantuan meal in the Lapu Lapu shrine next door. We just passed by the many stalls selling souvenir items, as we did on our way to choosing our restaurant at the beginning of the trip.  If you are a first-time visitor, go ahead and get yourself a woven bag, shell trinkets, ukeleles or even guitars if you feel like it.  After all, Cebu is known for its craftsmanship in guitar-making.  


The Lapu Lapu shrine was a welcome respite.  It was built in honor of Datu Lapu Lapu, a chieftain of Mactan Island and is known for being the first Filipino to have resisted Spanish occupation and colonization.  He fought Ferdinand Magellan and killed him during the Battle of Mactan in 27 April 1521.  


A memorial was also built on the spot where Magellan died, although his remains were never returned or surrendered to the Spanish explorers, and thus, remains unknown until now.


This particular trip, however, was not all about eating and lounging around.  On another day, we were able to check out 2 department stores in Lapu Lapu Island where we were able to purchase the newest craze in Philippine delicacies, the dried mangoes dipped in chocolate (Php50).  The more expensive ones are dipped in Belgian chocolate and contained in attractive boxes (Php230 small/Php680 big).


Another good trip we made was the gift shopping we did for our immediate family members.  We went to one of the malls in the area and enjoyed the bargain we got in purchasing brand-name clothes at half the price we would have paid for if we bought it in Metro Manila.  The secret, I suppose, is having a friend in the area who just knows where to look.

Thus, to sum this all up:  good, helpful friends + desire for simplicity + eye for bargain = a pleasurable holiday.

A joyous New Year to all of you.



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Holiday Pause


The Christmas season is a big thing in the Philippines.  As early as September, shops dress up their windows for this holiday already, and some radio stations would start playing Christmas melodies.  Houses though would probably start decorating from the outside in after the weekend of All Saints' and All Souls' Days.

Then starting the 16th of December, the dawn masses would commence, leading up to the Christmas eve mass on the 24th.  This is a novena mass in anticipation of the birth of Jesus.  The Philippines is the only country I know that observe this particular devotion to the Child Jesus.  Although, I have yet to complete the whole nine masses in one season, but according to friends, they feel a sense of accomplishment when they do complete it.  For some, a cup of hot ginger tea and a bite of either or both bibingka (steamed cakes) and puto bungbong (rice cakes cooked from a tube over charcoals) after the mass, is a good enough push for them to wake really early in the morning.


For a typical Christmas eve dinner, usually taken after the mass, there is always the ham and the queso de bola (or a ball of edam cheese) and probably, a pasta or potato salad somewhere.  Other viands would be up to the menu set by family.  In our case, I think we went overboard this year.  Maybe it was the pleasant surprise to have my sister over for an unscheduled visit from abroad.  There were two Tamarind-Roast Chickens, Baked Salmon (both specialties of Heaven's Country Kitchen), Lasagna, a serving of Lechon (courtesy of my Mother) and Salad Greens with Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette.  Certainly, we also had the ham and queso de bola.  For dessert, we had a taste of a very British Figgy Christmas Pudding (brought by my sister), and a very Filipino Buco Pandan Salad.


Funnily enough, this Christmas spread was quite easy to prepare.  Everything was cooked in the oven and all we had to do was keep time while enjoying each others' company.  Nothing like an exchange of stories and companionship to strengthen the bonds of family and friendship.  

After all,  this is a good time as any to think of others for a change, and not get caught up in the self-centered world of political correctness.

Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat (Merry Christmas to all)!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Food Tripping - Antipolo

Weekend markets have been a great venue to get to know little-known bakers, farmers and home cooks or chefs to showcase their products and specialties.  I am such a fan of these events because they usually hold treasures waiting to be discovered.  In fact, as early as the '80s, I think, my parents would travel all the way to Quezon City from Las Pinas to go to the SIDCOR market.  Then later on, my sister and I would tag along since we would be going to SIDCOR after the early morning Sunday mass at St. Clare's Church along Katipunan.

Since then, there have been other weekend markets that would sprout up - the market at the grounds of Lung Center of the Philippines, the one in Magallanes which later transferred to the FTI Complex in Bicutan, then the more notable Salcedo Village weekend market followed by the one in Legaspi Village, both in Makati.

But at present, I'm more excited with the one closer to home.  Finally, the first ever food bazaar in Antipolo has been organized.  Actually, it already started during the weekend of 6-8 December, and will continue on for the remaining weekends of the month.  Entitled "Food Trip, Tayo Na Sa Antip", Lala Bagsit, Darleen Javillonar, and RJ Tolentino from Ad Peak Events Management thought that it makes a whole lot of sense for Antipolo to have its own weekend market considering that most farms, and artisanal cooks and bakers usually come from Antipolo or the nearby towns like Tanay or Angono, some of whom are also participants at the weekend markets in Metro Manila.


"Food Trip, Tayo Na Sa Antip" occupies a portion of the parking area at the Lores Country Plaza in front of SM Hypermart in Antipolo.  It was indeed very festive when we got to visit and the event was further enhanced by the cool mountain air.  It certainly felt more like Christmas than other parts of the Philippines.


There was truly a variety of goods being sold.  Of course, one has to have the season's staples that is the bibingka and puto bungbung.


Then there were assorted pates from Gordita's (our favorite is the Pate de Pesto con Queso at Php120/jar) being sold alongside their imported brands of colognes like Denenes, Fa, and Bien-etre (remember them?).


We also got to meet Benny O'Bannon of Mulberry Hill Farms who is an active advocate for the benefits of the mulberry tree.  She concocts her own tea made from the leaves and bark of the mulberry and sells them at Php60/half liter.  She also produces organic lettuce (of the lolo rosa kind), basil and edible flowers that are perfect for salads.  She also sells mulberry seedlings (Php60/plant) so that there will be more people who will take care of these trees and enjoy the health benefits it gives.


Other products on sale are food from Trick's Resto Bar, cupcakes and gourmet donuts, chicken dishes, and even Vigan furniture along with table-top zen fountains. It's very affordable, home-grown, and absolutely delicious.  We even forgot to document the cupcakes and donuts since we were too busy eating them :-)

    

Hopefully, with the success of this first weekend market, there will be more markets that can be organized by the charming trio of ladies behind this.  The more reason with which to showcase Rizal products, and get to know the thriving sense of community which make up the small entrepreneurs of this province.

Food Trip Tayo Na Sa Antip Food Bazaar
Lores Country Plaza
M.L. Quezon Avenue, Antipolo City
open 4pm-12mn all weekends of December 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Drinking Coffee the Healthy Way - Roots & Herbs Coffee Antipolo

Antipolo is slowly growing a cafe culture in recent years.  I'm glad to note that this community is not composed of your usual multinational brands (although there's a Starbucks right beside the Antipolo Cathedral).  The coffee joints that have been sprouting up are home-grown companies, thankfully, and one of this is Roots and Herbs Coffee set up by Fe Mabanta with her husband Sammy.  It is located in an ideal spot in Antipolo, on the ground floor of the Ahead Tutorial Center in Mission Hills Subdivision along M.L. Quezon Avenue, far from the traffic fix that one is bound to get into at the intersection of Sumulong Memorial Circle.




What makes this an inviting spot is that you get to enjoy the cool mountain breezes here and the location is on the quiet side, having one or two residential subdivisions, and the Transfiguration Cathedral as neighbors.  It certainly made sense for Fe to put up a cafe that serves healthy beverage choices, as it matches with the fresh Antipolo air and the simpler lifestyle led by its people.


Roots and Herbs is a brand name that has been popular for its healthy drink mixes - from Malunggay (or horseradish tree) coffee, to its slimming coffee brand "Cafe Nero".  They also serve the most delectable Green Tea (served iced or hot), Iced Red Berry Tea, all of which contain nutrient-rich herbs and are sugar-free.  


There's also the Venus Prime vanilla-flavored anti-aging milk which contains collagen, co-enzyme Q10, chamomile, hops and linden that can cap your day nicely.  Boxes of their drink mixes plus nutritional supplements are also being sold at the store.  Fe displays packaging suggestions for gifts, which is timely, as we are already in the middle of the Christmas season. (You might still have a few more people in your gift list that you haven't shopped for yet, these products might be a good idea).


Thus, when Roots and Herbs opened in Antipolo last 8 December 2013, friends of the Mabantas came to congratulate and sample the hot and creamy milk tea (you can also have it cold), the green and red berry iced tea, and various dishes that are on the regular menu.  





I especially liked their Fish Fillet with garlic cream (usually served as a rice topping), and their Pasta with Seafood Aglio Olio.  


Carrot cakes, blueberry and oreo cheesecakes are also available to satisfy your sweet cravings.






The opening day was conducted with easy conversation and all-around smiles that mingled with the cafe's casual interiors.  It felt like you were in an extension of your own living room.  



As of this writing, I am told that the menu will likely expand to answer to the demands of its growing clientele.  Will it open for the Simbang Gabi (or the early morning novena mass in anticipation of Christmas Day, an old Filipino tradition)?  Here's keeping my fingers crossed.


Well, its been four days since it opened and I have returned to sample their other food choices at least three times already.  That certainly says something.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Moon, Your Eye and the Pizza Pie



Pizza has always been a comfort food for many Italians.  I'm told that it's the go-to comfort food for many Italians when coming home after being abroad after a period of time.  This would be the equivalent of Sinigang na Baboy (Pork in Sour Broth) for the Filipinos.  Somehow, it just tastes different when you have it at home. 
 
For my daughter, pizza has become a food of solace.  But I suppose this is true with many kids these days.  Besides, it's quite easy to just pick up the phone and call your favorite brand for delivery.  But in case you want to have something on the cheap, here is my recipe for a Tre Formaggi  (3-cheese) Pizza.  Its strong cheesy flavor is a certified hit with the kids and even with your lonesome.  Make it look and taste gourmet by serving it with fresh basil leaves and alfalfa sprouts.  Definitely worth mooning over.

The Recipe

1 store-bought 10-inch pizza dough, preferably thin crust
1/2 cup cream cheese spread (i.e. Magnolia, or Laughing Cow)
1 cup grated Mozzarella, or any brand quickmelt cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese, preferably fresh
2-3 Tbsp. garlic powder
olive oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 deg. Celsius.  Take out pizza dough from cooler and set on pizza stone, if you have one, or on a non-stick baking pan that has been sprayed a little with olive oil.
 
Generously spread cream cheese first, followed by the mozzarella or quickmelt then parmesan.  Sprinkle garlic powder on top and drizzle olive oil if using.  Place pizza disk in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese browns and bubbles over.  Take out and slice into 8 triangles with a pizza cutter or knife that has been dipped in water to ensure neat portions.  Serve with fresh basil and alfalfa sprouts.
 
In case you have more time in your hands, you can make your own pizza dough by following this recipe.  (While '00' flour is ideal, all-purpose flour is a good substitute):

2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups lukewarm water, divided
3 1/2 cups '00' flour or pizza flour, plus additional for handling
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Stir with fork until well mixed.  Cover the bowl with a dry towel for 30 minutes.  After this time, check if the mixture becomes foamy.  If so, continue to the next phase.  If not, throw away the mixture and start again.
 
When yeast is foamy, add the salt, olive oil and remaining water.  Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time. 
 
Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough for 5-7 minutes or until dough is no longer sticky.  Form the dough into a ball and coat with olive oil.  Place dough in a bowl, cover with a towel and set it in a warm place.  Let dough rise for 1 hour or longer.
 
After dough rises, dust your hands with flour and re-knead the dough for about 2 minutes.  Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and using your hands, shape each into a flat disk.  Cover and let rise another 30 minutes. 
 
Using flour covered hands, flatten disk further by pressing outward until you reach your desired thickness and size.

Normally, this recipe makes 4 10-inch disks.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Yolanda

There are no entries for lakbaymesa at the moment as we condole with fellow Filipinos in the Visayas region that were greatly affected by typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda).  Rosehill School in Antipolo is receiving donations in cash and kind, which will then be sent to Samar and Leyte.  Thank you.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Swiss Eats - Vieux Chalet

It was a fine day, almost nearing lunch time while driving within our (mountain) city limits, that we allowed our appetites to lead us to an iconic Antipolo restaurant.  Vieux Chalet has been a repeat destination for us whenever we want a bit of quiet, efficient and friendly service, and your own panoramic view of Metro Manila.  It has perfectly situated itself atop a higher peak in Antipolo since 1984 and is actually just a portion of the residence of Mr. Tony and Mrs. Susan Hassig and their children. It is the only restaurant in this city that serves continental cuisine, so you're in for quite a treat.
 
 
Vieux Chalet translates to "old cottage" in French, thus, the restaurant's interiors reflect accordingly.  The Hassig family is much into arts and crafts as evidenced by various tableaux seen in a nook here or a cranny there.  The paintings that line the walls are also for sale, in case you're into collecting them, some of which are made by Chef Florence Hassig herself.
 
 
But for our part, returning to a favorite place and fortunately, our favorite table, is joy in itself.  Much more so with the consistently cheerful Rico to serve us with diligent attention.
 
 
My daughter likes coming here for only one thing - their Raclette, served with gherkins, boiled potato and olives.  Good as a starter, or as a light main meal.
 
 
On the other hand, we had our fill of the Beef Liver Pate served with crackers and bread, a great starter for more things to come.
 
 
Vieux Chalet serves hefty pasta dishes, but since we just want a tasting for the sake of variety on our table, we opted for their Shrimp Ravioli with home-made tomato sauce and ricotta cheese. 
 
 
It was light and savory, and the sauce was good to the last mopping of their delicious freshly-baked bread.
 
 
But the Filet Mignon with Creamy Onion Gravy and served with rosti and vegetables was the star of that meal.  The dish was deconstructed, thus, sharing the it becomes convenient - the bacon was served in strips on the side, the beef tenderloin sliced into medallions, well-cooked while maintaining its juiciness, and the sides balanced everything.  Our plates were wiped clean, and very well finished with cups of perfectly brewed coffee.  Our entire meal costs PhP2,860.00 (around US$68), but well worth it.
 
 
I invite you to make a day of Antipolo, if only to get away from the humid weather of Metro Manila, and partake of what this side of Rizal province has to offer.  When planning to go to Vieux Chalet, it would be helpful to call for reservations since seating capacity is limited.  Note too, that they are closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays as Chef Flo devotes this time for arts and crafts, and ensures the general cleaning of the restaurant.
 
 
After that, make a pilgrimage to the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.  This is the same Marian image brought to the city in 1626 by Governor-General Juan Nino de Tabora from Acapulco, Mexico that still stands in the Antipolo Cathedral.  If you're into art, there is the Pinto Art Gallery which houses the personal collection of Dr. Joven Cuanang, an eminent neurologist in the country.  It also hosts independent exhibits so you get to have a taste of what's trending in the local art scene.
 
Vieux Chalet
Taktak Road, Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines
Tel. No. +63 2 6970396; +63 928 2888584
Hours: 9am - 10pm (closed Wednesdays and Thursdays)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Bolognese Outside Bologna

It was during one of those weekends that my husband suggested that we have a spaghetti dinner that this plan of having it with a Bolognese sauce was cooked up.  Indeed, this menu suggestion was well received since it will only require a few ingredients.  And really, a pasta dish is easier and therefor faster to prepare for dinner.
 
A Bolognese sauce refers to a meat based dish (usually beef and pork) dressed up with a little tomato sauce and red wine with origins from the city of Bologna in Italy.  It is usually called ragu alla Bolognese or simply ragu.  For anyone who has had a taste of the Filipino spaghetti, the Bolognese sauce is the basis for it.  Of course, we have made it our own by removing the wine and adding ham and hotdog slices, and as perfected by Makati Supermart, added red and green bell peppers and may I guess, a lot of pickles to reach that sweet-sour-salty taste we always look for in a meat sauce. 
 
But I digress. 
 
Here is my recipe for the Bolognese sauce that evening.  I can safely say that I stayed true to the Italian recipe, although the wine I used was something that I had on hand.  There isn't any particular wine that one should use actually, but do follow the rule that the wine you should use for cooking should be something you also drink.  In my case, it was a rioja (Proximo by Marques de Riscal 2010). 
 
For the pasta, I used spaghettini and made sure that I cooked it al dente.  This means that you should take out the pasta from the simmering water when it is almost cooked through, not when it is entirely cooked.  No need to worry about it since even when you are able to get the pasta out, it continues to cook through because of the residual heat from the pot, and by the time you mix it with the sauce, it'll just be ripe enough to soak in the flavors of the Bolognese.  Perfetto.
 
 
The Recipe
 
1 kilo ground lean beef
5-6 strips bacon
1 medium white onion, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, chopped finely
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 bottles passata, or pureed tomato
1/3 cup red wine
salt & pepper to taste
 
1 500-gram long pasta of your choice, cooked al dente
 
1.  Make a sofrito by heating your sauce pan with a little water, then cook your bacon strips in it until water evaporates and oil from the bacon comes out.  Continue cooking until crisp, then take out the bacon and set aside.  With the bacon fat, sauté the onion, carrot and celery until fragrant.  This is equivalent to gisa in Filipino cooking.
 
2.  Add the ground beef and cook until brown.  Meanwhile, chop the cooked bacon into large bits.  When the beef has browned, add back the bacon followed by the pureed tomato then season with salt and pepper, and cover, braising the meat for 15 minutes.
 
3.  Uncover, stir in the wine, and continue cooking until it starts boiling.  Check seasoning.
 
4.  Pour sauce over pasta, grate fresh parmesan over it and serve with heated baguette.

Monday, October 28, 2013

When in Kalibo

It used to be that when you want to reach Boracay, you have to go through Kalibo first because there was just one commercial airline flying domestic in the Philippines.  But with more airline companies available, and offering budget fares at that, Caticlan, which is nearer, became a host for smaller aircrafts and thus, making travel time shorter.  In the process, only a fewer number of local and foreign tourists stop over Kalibo.  And even then, upon landing at the Kalibo International Airport, passengers prefer to go straight to the beach.
 
But why not stay a day in this quiet genteel town?  Kalibo, after all, is located in Aklan, said to be the oldest province in the Philippines.  This place is best known for its Ati-Atihan Festival held every January in honor of the Santo Nino (Infant Jesus), and which served as a model for the Sinulog Festival of Cebu and the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo.  However, when you're in Kalibo on other times of the year, what do you do?
 
1.  Go to Dela Cruz House of Pina 

81 New Buswang
Kalibo, Aklan
Tel. No. +63 36 2623267 (closed on Sundays)
 
The pina cloth are fibers made from pineapple, and one of the traditional textiles of the Philippines.  Aklan, and more particularly Kalibo, remains to be the main and oldest manufacturer of pina cloth dating as far back as pre-Hispanic times. Historical records suggests that the pina cloth has even been exported as far as Greece and Egypt during its heyday. 
 
 
While there are many shops around town that manufacture and sell this, we opted to go to sisters Ding and Leevi Dela Cruz whose family has been in this industry for generations.  Thankfully, they have continued this tradition and even opened a big portion of their residence to showcase their work.   
 
 
On some days, Leevi, who is in charge of weaving and dying the cloths using natural dyes, can give a demonstration on how pina fibers are weaved into the most lightweight and beautiful cloths that will later be used to make shawls, pillow cases, ladies' purses, wallets or fans that they sell in the showroom.  There are also cloths available by the yard for you to be sewed into barongs (men's traditional long or short sleeved shirts) or women's gowns, blouse and/or skirts.
 
 
They also weave baskets of all shapes and sizes using buri leaves, which they supply to better known department stores in Manila and are also exported to the US, among others. 
 
 
2.  Visit Sampaguita Gardens
506 Rizal Street Poblacion,
New Washington, Aklan, Philippines
Tel. No. +63 36 2643422
            +63 36 2645555
 
From Kalibo town proper, you can take a tricycle and reach the resort in 30 minutes.  If coming from Kalibo Airport, the ride will take you there in 15 minutes.
 
Sampaguita Gardens is a resort and hotel put up by Samuel John Butcher, the creator and artist of Precious Moments characters that spread Christian messages.  The resort was set up in 2003 and is considered one of the major tourist destinations in Aklan.  Entrance fees are Php50/adult (US$1.19) and Php30/child 3-12 years old (US$0.70), but are consumable.  This means, you can use your tickets to pay for the food or merchandise you might buy inside. And believe me, you'll be able to spend it all without effort.
 
 
The resort is an all-year round Christmas park. Thus upon entering, you are greeted by Precious Moments angels along the pathway, a nativity scene in the garden and the centerpiece of the resort, Jojo's Christmas Cottage.  The gift shop is found inside along with the Cottage's Coffee Town where we discovered serve good coffee.  You can enjoy your cup in one of the tables located at the outdoor porch of the Cottage.
 
At the time of our visit, however, there were a lot of disappointments. First, the Christmas museum located on the Cottage's second floor is closed for repairs. Second, much of the rides in the garden, like the carousel, are in disrepair.  Third, the Coffee Town didn't have a lot on offer so you're limited to just having hot drinks.  (We were hoping to have something cold on a hot day).  Fourth, the resort had a general feeling of not being maintained properly.
 
 
On the bright side, the poolside restaurant was open so we enjoyed their hefty Pancit Canton very much, and they totally have bragging rights to their biscocho (toasted bread).  Make sure to buy a couple or so of boxes for your own consumption, and as gifts for friends back home.  They sell it at Php78 (around US$1.85) for the small box and Php150 (around US$3.50) for the big one.  Of course, you can't go home without taking a little bit of Precious Moments merchandise with you.
 
 
All in all, it is still a happy place to go to.  You may even opt to stay there as a hotel guest and hopefully get a view of the sea outside your window.
 
3.  Eat oysters at RML Manokan Haus
Mabini Street, Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines
 
 
Ask any tricycle driver, and he'll take you to this place.  RML is primarily a chicken inasal (barbecue, Visayan style) place, so please try out their chicken and pork.  There may also be other RML branches in other parts of the Visayas Region, but since you're in Aklan, a seafood paradise, they also serve fresh-steamed oysters.  The best part about this place is that you only get to pay Php60 (around US$1.40) a bucket.  Dig in!
 
4.  Have a photo op at a historical place
 
 
Glowmoon is now a commercial building, but it was once the residence and birth place of one of the country's heroes, Victorino Mapa.  He served as legal adviser of the Philippine Revolutionary Government of Emilio Aguinaldo, in the Commonwealth Government as Secretary of Finance and Justice, as Associate Justice then later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  (The place is near the Aklan Catholic College and Kalibo Cathedral, the latter, a worthy place to visit too.)
 
Kalibo is also the birthplace of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin.  His family residence is now a museum that you may want to check out too.
 
5.  Get a pizza fix at Zabroso
Mabini Street, Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines
 
 
Zabroso serves 16-inch pan pizzas Chicago style so expect thick slices with loads of toppings.  One whole pizza is only Php250 (US$5.95), but you can choose from among those that they've already made for the day at Php35 (US$0.83)a slice.  Pastas are available too.