2011: The Year That Was

And here goes my year summarized in photos taken from all over the Philippines. I have thus proven that once bitten by the travel bug, one can never go back. Thanks to all the friends I met online at first, on the road eventually. I hope 2012 has a lot more in store for me and my itchy feet. 🙂 Cheers!

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.

Dumaguete City: On Cheap Frills and Being a Total G.I.

Food is plentiful and cheap in Dumaguete. I cannot believe the number of local restaurants dominating the city proper. And with the market of hungry university students looking for a great fill on a student budget, Dumaguete’s homegrown restos face stiff competition. We dined at Kawaway’s, a native restaurant serving mostly grilled fish and meat and filling stews, and the bill was just around 600pesos. Note that we had 4 viands, 4 cups of rice, plus drinks. For breakfast, we grab coffee at Mcdonald’s, just 2 blocks from our accommodation. Refills are free until 10:30am – a fact that I was unaware of till my last breakfast in Dumaguete where I didn’t even avail of the free refill as we were pressed for time. Or  haven’t I had enough Mcdo pancakes and sausages in Metro Manila to know that this is indeed the case with all Mcdo braches?

The night is alive with bars and grill restaurants providing local entertainment to enhance the gastronomic experience. Hayahay, for example, conveniently located along Rizal Boulevard was staging an acoustic one-man show when we stopped by to grab some drinks during our first night in Negros Oriental. We squeezed in some shuteye at our humble room in OK Pension House where the rates are perfect for the budget traveler who’d rather spend the money on his daytime adventures. An airconditioned room with a queen-sized bed costs just 440pesos a night. We were lucky enough to get soap and towels with that rockbottom of a price. Cheapskates as we were, we didn’t even buy toiletries from the nearby grocer.  My 3 shampoo sachets and 1 toothpaste twin sachet (emphasis on the twin!) proved sufficient for our hygiene needs. (I sense that sneer of disgust in you, reader!ha!) Don’t worry; I brought a deo all along. (Now a sigh of relief I hear!)

The second night’s socials was much affordable with 4 500-mL beers for just 168pesos at Garahe, a raw and rustic no-nonsense drinking arena which reminds me of Papus near ADMU and brings to mind another bar bearing same name in UP Diliman (yes bandang amorsolo. haha). We decided not to wait for the band playing as they were busy watching ‘Naked and Funny’ non-verbal comedic gags on the bar’s mounted TV screen. We then hopped to a bar our tricycle driver recommended where the showband’s female lead was earning raving reviews and howls of approvals from the old men in the front row of tables. Right there and then I knew why our driver liked this place. haha

When in the province, I cannot miss watching a movie on the big screen. Movie tickets are cheaper in the provinces compared to their Metro Manila counterparts. And as Green Lantern was right on schedule, we scored seats for just 110pesos each at Robinson’s Dumaguete on our second night. Back in my hometown, I watched Thor for a measly 60bucks. Now that’s cheap! You wouldn’t kick yourself and feel bad for falling asleep halfway through the film because it cost you just half of what you pay for that tall cafe mocha.

Going home late after the cinema’s last full show (which is not that late in Dumaguete, actually) is never a problem as tricycles are easily accessible for just 8pesos per ride (minimum). I was sorry and embarrassed to have haggled for my tricycle fare to the airport during my last day, only to settle at a higher price in the end. The Sibulan Airport was already too far from the city center, I have come to know. In this Negros Oriental trip, I have realized that not only do I have a tendency to become disoriented every 30 minutes; I also lack spatial relation and distance approximation skills. I’m a complete geographic idiot.