Where do you wanna go in 2019?

Where do you wanna go in 2019?

#fitnessgoals, #careergoals, #lifegoals. How about #travelgoals for a change? We’ve asked professional travelers on places they’d like to visit in the Year of the Earth Pig.

If you’ve been looking for paths less traveled, hidden gems, unexplored trails, and untouched destinations, take inspiration from this list we got from some of the country’s top travel bloggers. Their choices could very well be on your wishlist for the year too.

Traveler Elal Lasola
Less is more

If you ask award-winning photographer Elal Lasola, less is definitely more for underrated destinations. Places like the Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao, El Nido’s twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, and Bontoc, Mountain Province are some of her go-tos.

These places have less in terms of crowds in contrast to others [destinations], which means there are more opportunities for you to enjoy more.

Traveler Mervin Marasigan
For intrepid travelers only: Biri, Nothern Samar from

Man pointing upwards with Biri rock formations in the background
“To the skies!” A beautiful shot of the rock formations in Biri, Northern Samar. Photo by Larry Quinao

Mervin Marasigan, the man behind Pinoy Adventurista, calls it one of the most underrated destinations in the country. “An off-the-beaten destination that only the most intrepid travelers dare to visit. Don’t miss its stunning rock formations battered by strong waves. They are truly amazing! Every spot is definitely Instagram-worthy!”

Get there
Brace for a 17-hour journey by bus from Manila to Catarman, Northern Samar, a 1.5-hour bus ride from Catarman to Lavezares port, and a one-hour ferry ride to Biri Island.

Traveler Melo Villareal
The elusive Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro

The Sandbar at Aslom
Hard to find a better sandbar than this. Photo by Leo Castillo of Shoestring Travelers

Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog liken for Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro to its namesake (bulalakaw is the Filipino term for shooting star) because of how beautiful yet fleeting it is. “Although it is overshadowed by nearby destinations like Puerto Galera and Mount Malasimbo, Bulalacao is without a doubt a place we can truly call paradise.”

Bulalacao has beaches and sights you’ll never see in Metro Manila and has temperatures that make it a year-round destination; quite rare for a beach if you ask us.

Get there
Fly from Manila to Caticlan then take a three-hour boat ride from Caticlan jetty to Bulalacao.

Traveler Estan Cabigas
The largely uncharted: Sitangkai, Tawi Tawi

Sitangkai woman with 'borak' on her face

A Sitangkai woman with ‘borak’ on her face. Photo by Estan Cabigas

Known as the southernmost place in the country, it’s a place that Estan Cabigas of Langyaw.com and Ten Zero Four describes as a “surreal place that is quite different from what we are used to in the country.”

“To go around the island, walk on elevated wooden pathways, swim, ride a tempel (motorized wooden boat), and swim at the still shallow water.” He’s also heard mosques calling the locals to prayer in near-unison, an experience he describes as unforgettable.

Get there
Fly to Zamboanga City and transfer to a flight headed for Tawi Tawi. Once there, you’ll have to take a ferry from Bongao Port to Sitangkai.

Our Dash Sources:

Eat the city with love

Eat the city with love

If you are looking for a unique date night, why not try resto-hopping and taste these 10 recommended bites from foodies JJ Yulo and Mark Del Rosario? The adventure may just stir something up!

Oyster Sisig from Locavore

The restaurant is known for putting a twist on classic Filipino dishes, and while they are known for their famous Sizzling Sinigang, their Oyster Sisig is an underrated must-try. At Locavore, it comes in two versions: the fried Oyster Sisig (Php370), which is exactly what the name suggests, and the Lechon Oyster Sisig (Php380), which is the same thing, except with crunchy lechon bits.

Locavore.ph

Bibingka & Puto Bumbong from Via Mare

Something sticky and good for sharing like the bibingka of Via Mare, for sure, is a winner to dating couples. Photo by Jocas See

Filipinos love rice so much, they put it in every dish, including desserts. The bibingka and puto bumbong (Php80) are rice cakes that are particularly favored no matter what time of the year. At Via Mare, they are available all year round, and are best eaten as a snack. The bibingka comes in three versions: one with Laguna cheese and salted duck egg (Php130), one with Laguna cheese and edam cheese (Php160), and the last one made out of cassava (Php100).

Viamare.com.ph

Ube dirty ice cream from your friendly neighborhood ice cream man

It’s delicious, it’s cheap, and you can find them everywhere in Manila. Photo by Jocas See

It is not uncommon to see an ice cream vendor wheeling around a colorful ice cream cart on the streets of the metro. If you happen to encounter one, there is your golden opportunity to try the delicious cool purple treat flavored by purple yam and coconut milk. Most days, a scoop or two of ube ice cream is all you’ll need to cool down on a humid day. Don’t worry; it’s not really dirty.

Powerplant Mall in Rockwell, Makati

Halo-halo at Milky Way Cafe

It may still be cold, but you’ll be wishing for one of these soon enough. By Jocas See

Described by food writer JJ Yulo as “Manila in a bowl,” this dish is a hodgepodge of shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans, tapioca pearls, coconut slices, flan—and yes, ube ice cream again. Many restaurants serve this dish, but the one at Milky Way Cafe is considered by many to be the best.

Cafe.milkywayrestaurant.com

Buko pie by Little Flour

The Filipino version of apple pie, Little Flour’s buko or coconut pie (Php220/slice), with its perfectly flaky crust, is a cult favorite.

Wildflour.com.ph/littleflour

Boneless Crispy Pata by Pamana

Sharing stories over ice-cold beer paired with the right food is distinctly Filipino. In most cases, it’s crispy pata–deep-fried pork knuckles served with soy sauce and vinegar. The one served at Pamana (Php650) is a favorite because it’s boneless and oh-so-tender.

Pamanarestaurant.com

Watermelon & beef short rib sinigang by Manam

Manam has managed to find a new way of giving this staple Filipino dish its signature sour flavor. This warm bowl is perfect to be shared by a loved up couple.

If you really want to get a handle on Filipino cuisine, sinigang is a dish you just have to try. To make the experience more memorable, try Manam’s unconventional take on the beloved Pinoy sour soup (Php245/small serving).

Facebook.com/ManamPh

Isaw by Sarsa Kitchen

Yes, those are chicken intestines; and they taste bloody brilliant.

Filipino street food is always intriguing, but very few visitors and even locals are willing to take the plunge and actually try them straight from the streets. That’s where Sarsa’s isaw (grilled intestines) comes in. This version is cleaned out and flavored to perfection. You can try the chicken or spicy chicken isaw (Php185), pork isaw (Php195), or beef isaw (Php210).

Sarsa.ph

Mutton adobo by Abe

Another unbeatable Filipino favorite, adobo, comes in as many versions as there are cooks. This dish from Abe (Php545) is particularly delectable, and unique in its use of mutton as the main meat.

Ljcrestaurants.com.ph/abe

Toyo Eatery’s tasting menu

There’s always something new at Toyo Eatery, but it’s not so new that it’s not familiar.

Toyo Eatery’s food has gotten much praise for its creativity in using local produce. Their food is not no-nonsense fare for people who just want to fill their bellies. Every dish comes with a complex story that is inspired by a facet of Filipino culture. Their tasting menu (Php2,900) includes dishes such as burnt squash soup, Aklan oysters, and garden vegetables served in unique way, and is the best way to sample what this exciting restaurant has to offer.

Facebook.com/toyoeatery

Who are JJ Yolo and Mark Del Rosario?

  • JJ Yulo, a popular food writer, published in the likes of Esquire and Spot.ph, and the founder of the blog Pinoy Eats World.
  • Mark Del Rosario, founder of Let’s Eat Pare, a top online food community.

Words by Amelie Llaga

5 can’t-miss Christmas events for 2018

5 can’t-miss Christmas events for 2018

For most Filipinos, December is synonymous with one big thing that started three months ago: Christmas. It’s a time when families and friends would go out and bond either at a restaurant, their family retreat, or even a theme park. 

If you are one who’d want to surprise your loved one with new of ideas, then this list is for you. Here are five Christmas events you should not miss:

Lights and Shadow Play at CCP

The light and shadow play at the CCP Facade is on daily from 6 pm. Photo by Kiko Cabuenas

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has always been know for Christmas plays and concerts, along with an over-the-top Christmas installation at the CCP lawn. This year, they’re changing the game a bit with a Light and Shadow Play featuring three storyboards: The Christmas Story (Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem), Paskong Pinoy Traditions (Misa de Gallo, Aguinaldo, and pagmamano, among others), and The Promise of A New Year (different New Year traditions such as paputok, bumbong or bamboo cannon, and Media Noche).
Show is every night with three intervals: 6pm, 7:30pm, and 9pm, at the CCP facade. The time schedule might change, or the show may be canceled in case of inclement weather.

Concert IV: PPO’s 36th Concert Season (2018 – 2019)

After watching the night’s Lights and Shadow Play, complete your CCP experience with a Christmas-themed concert by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

Concert IV gives audiences a Christmas treat with the following pieces: Hans Pfitzner’s The Christmas Elf Overture, Mozart’s Violin Concerto, Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel Prelude to Act One, Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular The Nutcracker Suite, and a collection of Christmas hymns, carols and songs familiar to most Filipinos.
PPO’s Concert IV is on December 14, 8pm at the CCP Main Theater. Tickets are available at the CCP Box Office or online on TicketWorld.

Jose Mari Chan: Going Home To Christmas at Solaire

No Philippine Christmas is complete without hearing a Jose Mari Chan song. But instead of hearing the legend’s songs blaring on mall speakers, why not listen to the man dubbed The Father of Philippine Christmas Music sing live for a change?

Chan will perform his greatest Christmas hits—the ones you’re going to hear at the mall—along with other holiday favorites live at The Theater at Solaire on December 22.
Jose Mari Chan: Going Home To Christmas is at 8pm on December 22. Tickets are available on TicketWorld.

Nuvali’s Magical Field of Lights

It’s THE perfect way to end your day, especially if you’re in the south: a relaxing set of Disney tunes. Photo by Andronico Del Rosario

There is a “new kid on the block” that’s looking to knock off the Ayala Triangle Gardens from being the go-to Christmas spectacle: Nuvali’s Magical Field of Lights.

It’s all the way in Santa Rosa, Laguna, but it’s worth the journey. Nuvali has something Makati will never have: a ton of space. Nuvali gets turned into a literal field of lights as spheres of varying colors cover the open space usually inhabited by nothing but grass. This year, they’ve upped the ante through their “sister’s” (read: Ayala Triangle Gardens) Disney celebration.
The Magical Field of Lights at Nuvali lights up every day until January 13. It’s at 30-minute intervals from 6pm to 10pm. 

Sweet Illusions at Estancia Mall

Most malls have Christmas displays that consist of a big Christmas tree and a couple of large gift boxes. Estancia Mall, however, takes their Christmas decorations seriously.

Case in point: their annual Christmas display. What they’ve got this year is a completely different take from past years: four “secret” rooms that’ll make your inner child scream and give your IG feed a boost. They’re called Sweet Illusion Chamber rooms and they’re scattered across the mall. You’ll be greeted by the candy-themed Rainbow Prism Room at the entrance of Estancia Mall, the trippy laser light at the Laser Room, shadow displays at the Shadow Light Room, and probably the biggest IG hit: the candy-colored neon paintings of the Dark Light Room.

All four rooms are open to the public and will run until January 6.

10 nightspots to be spotted in in the Metro

10 nightspots to be spotted in in the Metro

From grungy dive bars to secret speakeasies, to a flamboyant nightspot especially made for the LGBT community—not that it’s not open to all—here’s the it list for Manila’s party-loving species

Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen

It’s a bar that will definitely take you to places you didn’t think you’d go.

With Agimat’s dim, forest-inspired interiors, delicious food, and creative cocktails, you’ll be transported to a mythical place every time you go. Their menu is seasonal and highlights
a certain part of the Philippines each time. Every item on their menu is carefully plated and presented, and comes with a unique story. To make your visit extra memorable, order the Ritwal ng Agimat cocktail, which is served with a special method of pouring the liquor.
Average cost per person: Php500 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/Agimatbar

Today x Future

Located in Cubao, this bar would be hard to miss if not for the crowds of people that pool by its nondescript entrance at peak hours. The bar’s not big, and its interiors have an unpolished quality about them, but that’s only part of its charm. With music that ranges from 90s to dance pop, this is one bar where the dance floor will be hard to resist.
Average cost per person: Php300 for drinks; Facebook.com/todayxfuture

Nectar

This nightclub in BGC has become a safe haven for Metro Manila’s LGBT community—though anyone can come. With high ceilings, delicious cocktails, and great music, anyone
can have a fun time here. If you can, head there on the last Wednesday of the month, which is when Nectar hosts a drag competition called the Drag Cartel, with drag performers
battling it out with lip-synch performances of popular songs.
Average cost per person: Php500 for drinks; Facebook.com/nectarofmanila

Lan Kwai Speakeasy

Inspired by Hong Kong nightlife, Lan Kwai Speakeasy is hidden behind a Chinese restaurant. The bar itself is like a Wong Kar Wai film come to life, with red neon lights and murals. The
Hong Kong inspiration goes all the way to the cocktails, many of which are colorful creations by mixologist Carlos Munarriz. Try the Designated Survivor, a refreshing, citrusy cocktail
that’s served in a fishbowl and comes with an extra shot, perfect for sharing.
Average cost per person: Php500 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/lankwaispeakeasy

Nokal

Craft beer, cocktails, classic bar chow, and an overall energetic vibe are what make NoKal a must in the Poblacion nightlife tour. With three levels offering something different, NoKal caters to any kind of night-out mood. If you’re up for some comfort food, you can stay on the first floor; and if you’re ready to dance, mingle, and party, you can head up to the second level. If it’s a chill drinking session you’re looking for, go to the breezy rooftop beer garden
where you can knock back some craft beers over good conversation.
Average cost per person: Php400 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/nokal.mnl

Coconut Club

It would have been a seaside bar if BGC had a beach.

The Piña col piña.

With the Coconut Club’s tropical interiors and a bit of imagination, you can easily pretend that the ocean is right outside the bar’s door. The bar serves up fruity cocktails to go with the
tropical theme like the Mai Tais and Piña Coladas with the Coconut Club twist. Even better are the liquor-laced slushies at only Php120. Head there from 2pm to 7pm to catch their Happy Hour, where the slushies are available for only Php95.
Average cost per person: Php300 for drinks; Facebook.com/raintreecoconutclubph

78-53-86

This secret vinyl bar in White Plains, Katipunan is meant for sitting down and listening to only the owner’s massive vinyl collection. The owner curates playlists with his vinyls everyday, so you can count on discovering a lot of new (old) music. It’s the perfect place to go to if you simply want to enjoy your alone time. The bar doesn’t serve food, though they do serve truffle popcorn.
Php300 for drinks; Facebook. com/785386whiteplainswest

Route 196

Route 196 is the ultimate go-to if you want to sample the sounds of some of the best local artists in the industry today, from the underground independent musicians, to the more
established ones. With live music and affordable drinks, this is one place where you can kick back, drink in your surroundings—and perhaps befriend fellow music-lovers.
Average cost per person: Php400 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/Route196Rocks

YOI

This bar is a new addition to the famous Poblacion nightlife district. By day, it’s a restaurant where you can sample an interesting fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian food, but by night it turns into a slick bar that serves Suntory and all kinds of sake. If you really love your sake, they serve unli-sake for Php700/head every Tuesday and Wednesday nights—but another great time to go there would be on a Friday, when local indie artists have live performances.
Average cost per person: Php500 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/yoipblcn

20:20

With flickering lights, a high ceiling, and wall to wall windows, this bar on Chino Roces in Makati is inviting from the start. Once you settle in, you’ll be drawn to their food, interesting drinks, the relaxed and intimate atmosphere, and of course, the music (sometimes it’s an indie band, other times, it’s an underground DJ). Their menu is mostly comfort food with a gourmet twist, filling bar chow that will help you keep drinking all those cocktails throughout the night. Their Pork Belly Tacos in particular, are a must try, and go well with pretty much any of the bar’s signature drinks. A bonus: right next to the bar is a spot where you can head to when you’re done chilling and find yourself in the mood to bust a move to some serious techno.
Average cost per person: Php1,000 for food and drinks; Facebook.com/2020bar

Dash insiders
Who is Tabitha Rice?

Tabitha is a bartender, occasional club promoter, and model.

Who is Joshua Gonzales?
Joshua is an art director at a top ad agency by day, and occasionally DJs in several party hotspots.

Who is Andrew Florentino?
Andrew Florentino, also known by his stage name The Bgnr, is a music producer and songwriter who has performed in various venues all over Metro Manila

Words by Amelie Llaga

Insane and intense city explorations

Insane and intense city explorations

We spoke with the man who built a reputation scaling towering structures no seemingly sane man ever would: urban explorer Benjo Cabarro.

 

 

Urban Exploration, for me, is to find and share the beauty in things that are uncommon to the common man. I was in a dark place before and a crazy friend of mine invited me to my first mission. I saw the light and the rest is history.

A mission is our own version of a road trip. We prepare for it just like you would on any other road trip: charge our cameras, pack food, water, extra clothes, and extra batteries. We also make sure we have movies to watch and music to listen to while we shoot.

I like watching the city from above and at night. It’s peaceful and the perspective change is really life-enhancing; you get to see that your problems are not so big after all.

Three things to expect from doing urban exploration: Dirt, Dust and Death. There is nothing else in play at that moment except your life. It’s beautiful really; in these moments, you again have a life-enhancing realization, that living is truly wonderful. The sooner you accept this, the better the experience will become.

Urban explorers for inspiration: James Kingston (@thejameskingston); Lam Yock (@yock7). These guys are legends!

My most memorable mission was when I finally climbed the tallest building in the Philippines! Photo by Benjo Cabarro

My go-to gadget for my missions: GoPro. I tried bringing a DSLR once, but it was too bulky.

I love the Makati Skyline so much! The street and city colors at night are perfect especially when you’re shooting the Poblacion area. The purples and magentas that illuminate the buildings around it are sooo pretty.

On of my most memorable missions was… when a massive mist engulfed my on a rooftop in Ortigas. I was taking photos and videos of the storm clouds and lightning play in the Antipolo Side, when from down south, a massive body of mist came rolling in. Everything turned white. It was eerie and magical at the same time. I was very blessed to have captured it on video because you don’t see that everyday in Manila.

Would you dare walk this plank?

My most daring mission was in another Ortigas mission where I “walked the plank.” It took me two years to prepare for it. It was utterly mental and required a lot of willpower.

My 5 best missions in the Philippines: Climbing a TV station transmitter tower; climbing the tallest building in at Century City; climbing the tallest building in Makati City; climbing the tallest building in the Philippines, and walking the scariest “plank.” 

I’m looking forward to experiencing the Hong Kong roofs! It’s a massive urban jungle and cannot wait to explore its highs and lows.

I prefer heights, but urban exploration can be done anywhere. We’ve even explored a war tunnel. It’s just easier for me to meditate when I’m up high because of the tranquil and serene atmosphere.

The TV Tower

If you want to try urban exploration, make sure you know what you’re doing and prepare for all the risks. I’ve never really gotten into trouble during missions because of that. 

A sound mind and a strong body are definitely required. I cannot count the number of times I was able to get out of a pretty life-threatening situation because my body and mind were strong enough. I work out my whole body at the gym every week. I practice parkour on weekends, though not as religiously as I once did, and I meditate when I can.

Who is Benjo Cabarro?
Notably the best urban explorer in the Philippines. He’s a professional photographer who’s known for his urbanscape photos among many things.  Benjocabarro.com.

Interview: Andrew Del Rosario   Photos: Benjo Cabarro

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