A tour with someone from Down Under

I finished a 4-day tour with an Australian travel writer. This trip was arranged and coordinated by the Department of Tourism and Intas Destinations. Mr. McIntosh visited the country probably a decade ago. We stayed in Hotel Stotsenberg on our first two nights.

As part of our schedule, we went to Puning Hot Springs in Angeles City. We rode a 4×4 vehicle that was strong enough to take on the terrain going there.

Our 4×4 ride to Puning Hot Springs.

The devastation that took place was remarkable but what’s even more impressive was the way the place was converted into a resort.

The trail that we took on the 4×4.

Puning Hot Springs. It has 8 hot springs and a cold one for kids.

My guest taking a photo and giving art direction.

The Aeta community have jobs thanks to this resort.

That night, we had dinner at Everybody’s Café in San Fernando.

Everybody’s Café. It’s a very good Kapampangan restaurant that serves delicious morkón.

My guest wasn’t really into Kapampangan food especially the sinigang na ulang, which I had to finish by myself (no complaints here).

Sinigáng na Sugpô. It’s also called ulang. Looking at this just made me drool.

I was also convincing him to try the kamarú but he got discouraged when I told him how it was prepared. Good thing he loved our San Miguel Beer.

Kamarú. Mole crickets cooked in butter, which really taste good.

The next day, we went to Mimosa. We first visited Holiday Inn then took a look at the wide golf course. My guest told me that he should have made reservations in this place than in his hotel. He simply liked the villas here, which he thought would be suited for his readers.

Huge trees like these can be seen in Mimosa. How I wished to see more of them in Metro Manila.

My Dear Lord Photo.

The day was focused on Kapampangan cuisine and heritage. We had an 11:00 appointment with artist/food columnist Claude Tayag in Bale Dutung but we were a bit early so we passed by the Holy Rosary Church in Angeles City.

Holy Rosary Church. Our guide said that the roof was imported from London.

We also visited the Angeles Museum that highlights the history of the city from being a former part of San Fernando into a prestigious town where Presidente Emilio Aguinaldo and the first Philippine republic celebrated its first anniversary.

Old photos were on display. I took great interest on this picture.

Quezon and the bigote. A rare photo of the Commonwealth president when he was an aide of Aguinaldo.

We headed off to Claude Tayag’s home. He was a very gracious host and an interesting storyteller. He was able to share how food and Kapampangan culture are intertwined. I learned an important Filipino word from him, which is “linamnam”. A word that transcends delicious and other words to describe a very delightful dish. We were asked to try out the lechon tortilla.

Claude Tayag & the lechon tortilla. The tortillas were malinamnam.

We also had a brief tour of gallery. This is my favorite out of his works. A vibrant painting of the Cañao.

Took this photo with the painter’s blessing. Doesn’t do justice but I just love it.

We also had the opportunity to see the second floor of his home. He confessed that his house was built from scrap of very good materials such as those from churches and beautiful houses that were demolished.

Lunch was served at Abe’s Farm in Magalang. My guest loved the lamb adobo. The meal was good. I had the pla-pla, a huge tilapia/St. Peter’s fish. We found time to tour the museum. Picture-taking wasn’t allowed inside. I want to have a house like this. I think it looks great. I love old houses.

Abe’s house. The staff said that it took them 10 years to transfer it to its current place.

We went back to the hotel to rest before having dinner at Yats International Wine Club in Mimosa. The following day, we returned to Manila and gave the guest a walk through in our malls such as Greenhills, Tiendesitas, Market! Market!, Serendra, Bonifacio High Street and The Fort Strip. Our evening ended watching KAOS, a show that has a mixture of magic, theater, circus and Cirque du Soleil, in Resorts World Manila.

On the final day, we went first to the Mall of Asia, toured the Ayala Museum, walked around the Greenbelt malls, checked out the hotels near the malls and passed by Heckle & Jeckle and Handle Bar in Makati before calling it a long, long day. I learned a lot from my guest and he told me that he’ll send an email for more information on the sites. Hopefully, he can tell his readers that Pampanga and Metro Manila have a lot to offer.

Delicious kamarú served in San Fernando, Pampanga

Anyone in the mood for kamarú (mole crickets) for dinner? Trust us, food served in Everybody’s Café is topnotch, from the rich drippings of its morkón to its delicious exotica such as its kamarú and bétúte (frog stuffed with minced meat).

The kamarú is cooked well to perfection, with the cricket’s body, sans appendages, prepared thoroughly for you. This is the best way to face your fear and eat really good food! Take our tour to find out!