Beginning this sunny month of April, Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen will take us all the way to the bountiful northern province of Ilocos for a taste—and sip—of its wonderful exotic flavors.
If you live and/or work in Makati yet have never been to Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen, then you need to get to this place pronto. They’ve been a hit with Poblacion’s regulars thanks to the way they present flavors from Chefs Kalel Demetrio’s and Niño Laus’s foraging trips across the country.
Agimat carried the flavors of Batangas from the day they opened late in 2018, but we’ve got news for you: some of those are out starting this April. Where are they taking us? Ilocos. That’s where.
For the uninitiated, Agimat’s menu is nowhere near traditional. What Chef Kalel and Chef Niño do is present ingredients they foraged from a certain province (or, in this case, provinces) in a way that you will certainly remember.
Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store for your tummy for the next four or five months at Agimat:
For your appetizer (and yes, it qualifies as an appetizer), a plate of savory alimasag(blue swimmer crab) with Alavar sauce from Zamboanga (yes, it’s not Ilocos, but it goes so well with crab), Patani hummus (see what we said about the menu not being traditional), Caramay foam, and rice wrapped in a Gamet (seaweed grown in Ilocos Norte) crust.
A serving of itik(duck) a la pianggang (a Tausug classic, but not an exact recreation) on a bed of adlai (healthier rice substitute) with inuday (the Ibaloi version of smoked meat) sausages as your main dish.
Alternatively, you can get their tender kitayamashort ribs buried deep-ish beneath a pile of beef floss and alokon or Birch flower (though it’s not even related to the birch tree).
The drinks (the part menu that Agimat is well-known for) still follow their theme of “five elements:” fire, water, earth, air, and life, with a couple of mainstays making it over from the Batangas menu.
Take this northern-inspired drink aptly called Diegong Bagsik. Imagine drinking something from inside a candle (no, you’re not using the candle as a glass) that has gin AND a cold brew liqueur.
The Laban ni Gabrielalooks like something straight out of a fairy tale, making full use of everything local: blue pea gin from Liquido Maestro’s own distillery in Aklan, basi (a drink from Ilocos made with fermented sugarcane), and some good old mountain tea.
Yes, Agimat is tucked away in one of Poblacion’s hard-to-park streets, but a trip to this unique bar and kitchen (since we’re not willing to call it a restaurant) is a risk worth taking.
The Basics About Php1,000 (USD 20) per person Alfonso corner Fermina Streets, Poblacion, Makati Fb.com/agimatbar
Words: Andronico Del Rosario Photos: Daniel Soriano
If you think you’ve seen the whitest of sands a Philippine beach has to ofer, wait until you set foot on Medan Island, more popularly known as White Island in Camiguin.
White Island, a 10-minute motorbike ride from the northern coast of the island province, is postcard perfect— with blindingly white sand that strikes a stark contrast against crystal clear waters that reflect the blueness of the skies. It will be hard not to be taken aback by Mt. Hibok-Hibok’s commanding presence in its backdrop.
But the main charm of White Island is its changing shape, which depends on the tide. So sometimes you see a serpentine shape, other times, the crescent of a usual beach, and who knows what else at another time.
Magical, isn’t it?
SkyJet Airlines launches its direct Manila to Camiguin flights on May 6, 2019. Tickets are now on sale. Flights are on daily except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Make your Holy Week vacation more interesting by actually engaging in Holy Week activities. *wink wink*
Going on a social media purge as your penitensya (penance) or beach bumming in places like Boracay or Palawan for the Semana Santa is well and good, but don’t you ever get tired of the same trend every single year? Why not go on a simple summer holiday where you can enjoy your vacation AND still experience something relevant to Holy Week festivities? We have rounded up ideas for your Semana Santa escape.
Barotac Viejo, Iloilo
Iloilo isn’t the first place that pops into people’s heads when it comes to answering the question “Where should I be this Holy Week?” It’s not as popular a destination especially that crowd favorite Boracay is merely on the northwest part of the island. But the sleep town of Barotac Viejo may just give you something new.
The little town is known for having a community that is takes their Holy Week seriously by mimicking the Passion of Christ. The townspeople themselves have been performing the Passion play, with “passion” Hiligaynon every Good Friday for almost half a century in their annual Taltal sa Barotac Viejoand it’s a delight to watch.
Places to see: Bucas Grande, Old Iloilo City, Miagao Church, River Esplanande, “Little Baguio” (Bucari) Things to do: Party at Smallville, Walk along Iloilo River Esplanande, Island hopping at Concepcion
Bantayan Island, Cebu
It’s an island north of the Cebu mainland that’s become popular for its stretches of fine-sand beaches that is expected to see an influx of tourists this Holy Week. What people shouldn’t miss while in the island paradise is the annual Pasko sa Kasakit, a simple celebration of the stations of the cross, but with a twist where the images in the Station of the Cross are supersized and paraded around.
Places to see: Alice Beach, Camp Sawi, Kota Beach (all in Santa Fe), Malapascua Island, Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, Kota Park Things to do: Biking, snorkel, freedive/scuba, beach bumming, tour the town of Bantayan for heritage houses
This island is starting to blow up more for the views you’ll get than what happens here during Semana Santa.
Siquijor, known across the country as a home to witchcraft and mysticism, but locals have since shed that image and now proudly celebrate their folk healing expertise with the annual Folk Healing Festival, taking place during the last few days of Holy Week. Get yourself treated by local healers or witness how they make various concoctions with the promise of curing almost anything you can think of—yes, including heartaches.
Places to see: Century-old balete tree, Salagdoong Beach, Paliton Beach, Kagusuan Beach (extremely hidden, possible that not even the locals know about it) Things to do: Go around the island on a scooter, visit a ranch, hit the island’s peaks on a mountain bike, snorkeling, beach hopping
If there’s a Holy Week destination that’s never left off any list, it’s Marinduque. Known as the geographical heart of the Philippines, it’s basically an island that’s made itself known for a festival that celebrates a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ: the Moriones Festival.
Most of you will know what this festival centers on commemorating Roman soldier Longinus, who stabs Jesus on the side, witnesses His resurrection, tells the Romans about it, and (gruesomely) gets his head chopped off. This part is often depicted in their version of The Passion play, which talks about Christ’s last moments before He eventually passes on.
Places to see: Tres Reyes islands, Mt. Mataas, Boac, Palad Sandbar, Ungab Rock Formations, Bathala Python Cave Things to do: Visita Iglesia, Beach hopping
It’s the piece de resistance of a list of Holy Week destinations, and something that’s also been a source of controversy as to whether or not it should be considered a tourist attraction. We’re talking, of course, about the MaleldoFestival in San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga.
The Maleldo Festival is the full (and very real) re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion. Yes, it’s the whole 10 miles: the garb, the Crown of Thorns, crying depiction of Mary Magdalene, people marching on the streets whacking their backs with things that make them bleed, and someone actually getting nailed to a cross that they’ve been carrying for several miles.
Places to see: Mt. Pinatubo, Subic Bay, Sandbox at Porac, El Kabayo, Skyranch Pampanga, Nayong Pilipino Things to do: go on a food trip, adventure activities, Visita Iglesia
Yes, you read that right. It’s an option for those who don’t want to go out of the city yet still want to witness something that only happens once a year. The citizens of Makati, particularly those who live in the restaurant-and-bar hub that is Poblacion, stage a parade commemorating Lent.
They hold a grand procession every Holy Wednesday (closed roads, of course) and put up booths with life-size depictions of The Passion of Christ. Another plus: some establishments stay open even during Holy Week!
Places to see: Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (one of the oldest churches in the country), Circuit Makati (but hold off on that after Holy Wednesday), art galleries in Poblacion Things to do: staycation at one of the many hotels in the area, food trip, pub crawl
It’s 2019, and we’ve got a bit of juicy travel bits for year straight from people who have been in the travel industry for several decades—the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA)—that might just surprise you.
Travel, now a way of life
Or for most people, it will be. PTAA president Marlene Dado Jante sees more people embracing travel as a way of life rather than a luxury, thanks in large part to how affordable trips are becoming and how accessible information have become.
“Travel expos are the best place not only to get the most affordable deals out there, but also to know more about a destination.” Her tip: talk to travel agencies who frequent travel expos. Chances are they’ll [the exhibitors] know more about a destination and can explain it to you in 20 minutes better than you can do with online research
DIY is still a thing
DIY trips are also becoming more and more popular, with blogs, vlogs, and books (e and tangible) that let you do your trip your way. Couple that with hostels and Airbnbs and you have a recipe that supports traveling as a way of life.
Vlogs, in particular, are perfect sources of itineraries, travel budgets, and travel hacks that equip anyone to travel. A simple search on YouTube and you’ll find budget itineraries complete with the actual experience you’ll get from people like Christian LeBlanc(Lost LeBlanc), Patrice Averilla (Avelovinit), and a lot more.
Sustainability is the way to go
Rehab is apparently a new buzzword for the local tourism industry. It’s only been months since the island of Boracay was opened. El Nido is already being worked on, and everyone from your mother to that nosy neighbor you sometimes talk to is talking about how clean the shoreline of Manila Bay has become.
From speaking with Marlene, you can tell there’s good that’s going to come out of all the rehabilitation going on, but she wants to go further than simply sprucing up our best destinations. “Rehab is good and all, but what we really need is for both the locals and the tourists to be more responsible in looking out [after the tourist destinations]. This will lead to destinations being more sustainable.”
Camping and Glamping
Camping is, well, camping. You get a sleeping bag or a tent, bring your own food, and find a place to sleep. It’s very sustainable albeit tough because you need to find a place where it’s okay to do that.
Glamping, on the other hand, is camping leveled up. It’s like staying in a hotel, but you’re in a tent. You’re outside and “exposed to the elements” but with all the creature comforts: a comfy bed, cooked food, “indoor” plumbing, and the like.
Crystal Beach in Zambales offers camping and glamping; Pass Island in Coron offers camping; Tagaytay has a number of hotels offering glamping.
Farm Tourism is a thing
There’s one type of tourism that’s been popping up since 2016, yet no one seems to be taking a hint: farm tourism.
It’s young, but it’s not that difficult to understand. What you do is you visit a farm, you learn what it’s about, what the farmers do, and what-not. It’s a great way of promoting what has sustained our country prior to the many wars—a way for us to go back to our roots. The souvenirs at the end aren’t half bad, and they let you buy their goods at affordable prices.
Check out FarmPlate if you’re planning for a farm tour. For info, click here.
The Philippines is predominantly Catholic ergo its handful of centuries-old churches, basilicas, and cathedrals that have stood the test of time both in the big city and distant islands. This fact brings about tons of people poking interest in the Philippines as a pilgrimage site. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that travel agencies often include trips to churches.
This man doesn’t let even his busy schedule take away from what matters: family time.
How often do you go on holidays?
Because both our [his and wife Marian Rivera’s] work schedules are unpredictable, we have to wait for our respective shows to go on a break before we plan anything. That’s why we almost always book at the last minute— a habit that is not highly recommended; haha! The key holidays are also the basic ones like Christmas, Holy Week and, of course, our birthdays in August and November.
What’s your secret to fnding time for vacations despite your crazy busy work schedules?
The moment we find a window, we immediately grab it, may it be a couple of days to a whole week. With our work, it is impossible for us to be away for more than two weeks. How do you plan your family getaways? We have friends who help us, like Access Travel of Angely Dub.
Most of the time, I find it more convenient for someone to help me in the planning since both of us are always preoccupied with other things. Of course, we already know what we want—it’s really just a matter of organizing the logistics. Given that we stay at least two days in a new place, my basic policy is 20 percent planned itinerary, and 80 percent kung ano ang matripan (on what we feel like doing).
What is your favorite Philippine destination?
I like any place that is peaceful, green, sustainable and clean. A place where my kids can safely run around while we enjoy a cup of cofee, or a mug of beer. It does not matter if it is on a mountain, by the beach, in my friend’s backyard, or even a protected area in any place within the chaotic Metro Manila for as long as we are with the right people. Pero siyempre, dapatpanalo rin angpagkain. (But of course, the food has to be a winner too.)
What are the most memorable holidays you’ve had in the Philippines as a family?
We really love the beautiful islands here in our country. Palawan will always have a special place in our hearts. Amanpulo is on the top of our list. Our recent trip to Siargao via SkyJet Airlines is also one for the books. Book a SkyJet flight, direct from Manila to Coron, Palawan; Batanes; and Camiguin.
Your favorite beach and why this beach?
Hard to say. We love so many and each has its own charm.
Things you love to do when on a holiday?
Eat. Sleep. Play. Plan. Repeat.
Your travel essentials aside from IDs and cash?
Cameras to document memories.
Where do you wanna holiday next?
We want to visit Cebu next.
Who is Dingdong Dantes? Dingdong Dantes is a well-loved Filipino actor, commercial model, film producer, and film studio AgostoDos Pictures owner. He’s married to Filipino actor Marian Rivera with whom he has a daughter with.