The Observatory: A Bus Ride So Colorful, the Storm outside Pales in Comparison

While a million of us were cramped in an ordinary bus in Masbate City bound for the nearby municipalities, I was playing the role of Jean Baptiste Grenouille. And my now highly sensitive olfactory sense is telling me that there is nothing more confusing than the combined stench of sweaty armpits and cured tobacco leaves. Yes, in the right corner is a bag of tobacco   and to my left is a middle-aged man (or aromatic, or spice, more like cumin, more like curried armpits). There are sacks and sacks of rice at the back of the bus, some extending functionality as seats. An ex-military octogenarian is bragging about his fierce and bloody combats of the past. The next minute though, he’s weeping bucketloads because his son is finally returning home from the States and apparently he’s gay.

A myriad of sights, sounds, and scents (some more like stench) fill the atmosphere and I cannot simply grasp every element. I feel disappointed as I want to document every detail of this thrilling bus ride. While I was busy adjusting the phone settings so I could capture my seatmate’s balisong, I failed to notice the storm brewing outside. Raining cats and dogs that day, the streets were pools and the rice fields were reduced to murky chocolate rivers.

And so after I safely returned to the comforts of my own sheets and pillows, only then have I realized (and heard from the news, of course) that storm signal #1 was raised in Masbate City. I did not regret being out on the road. Two and a half hours of throwing caution to the wind was totally worth it.

Gourmet Eating In Dumaguete: Sans Rival’s Eggplant BLT and Heavenly Silvanas


It was a sunny morning and we had to take a heavy filling breakfast for our last day in Dumaguete. Strolling along Rizal Boulevard, we originally planned to drop by Shakey’s for some fat-filled lovehandle-inducing morsels all too familiar to the tastebuds. Having seen the “closed” sign and realizing how early we got up, we walked and loitered some more till we found the homegrown beauty that goes by the name of Sans Rival.

We ordered the Sans Rival’s modern take on the classic BLT sandwich. Their version included eggplant with a light vinaigrette dressing perfectly complementing the bacon, lettuce, and tomato. With tasty chips on the side for that extra crunch to go with the perfect blend of sweet acidity of the dressing and the salty goodness of the bacon, it was a party going on in my mouth. Their homeblend brew was the perfect companion. And for only P28, it sure was tempting to get a refill. I don’t know with you guys but caffeine is my kryptonite and I treat palpitations like my sweetest downfall.

I love the employees’ uniforms! Blue apron on crisp white knee-length dress makes you feel the warmth of grandma’s slow-cooked meals. It’s as if the recipes where handed down from generations to generations from when dinos roamed the earth.

After breakfast, we ordered two boxes of the quintessential Dumaguete pasalubong, SILVANAS! Seriously addicting at 105pesos per box of 10, I ended up eating half of what I intended to give to friends. Oh well, I certainly have to blame the melts-in-your-mouth meringue sandwich filled with smooth sweet light cream. Squeeze each piece and you’ll see heaven gloriously oozing out from the edges. Ooooh, drool.

A Dumaguete favorite, Sans Rival has been churning out tasty pastries and brewing good coffee since 1977. The best thing about the homey resto is that its menu won’t hurt even the most frugal person’s pocket. Really inexpensive yet exceptionally good food, folks. Not only do they serve cakes and pastry treats, their vast selection of gastronomic delights has extended to pasta dishes, sandwiches, even meat entrees. They also serve set meals per day for less than 200pesos, inclusive of main entrée, side, dessert and beverage.