12 coolest eco-tours in Coron

12 coolest eco-tours in Coron

A true blue Coronon Al Linsangan, poster boy of sustainable tourism in Coron, personally tours Dash around his beloved hometown and together we come up with an eco-adventure hotlist that better be on your bucketlist. It includes a dip in a natural hot springs, snorkeling in a limited-access coral garden, immersing with a tribe when no one else could, and more.

Hike Mt Tapyas for that perfect sunset

 

On top of the world…errr…Mt. Tapyas

A grueling 734-step climb and you’re on top of Mt Tapyas.

“Mt Tapyas is ideal for sunset spotting. The sea is also calmest at this time, adding a bit of drama to the view. And once the natural light fades, the harbor lights start to bathe the town’s baywalk and this is best viewed from the peak,” says Al.

But the sunset is not the only crowd-drawer of Mt Tapyas. Stand at its peak and admire the 360-degree sight of the whole Coron town and Mt Dalara, the highest mountain in the Calamian. Also seen from the horizon is Coron Island shaped like a sleeping giant. The Tagbanwa believe that the sleeping giant is Dumarakul, an ancient hero said to have protected them from the onslaught of Moro invaders. The giant cross erected at the peak is a pilgrimage site during Holy Week.

Local curates Cebu…and food!

Local curates Cebu…and food!

Market raider Joel Binamira teaches us things like the unique way Cebuanos have their lechon and the best destination eats in the Philippines

 

Backyard-raised pigs, which Joel uses in making his lechons (roast pig)

I always enjoy good food but I only learned how to cook in my college days in the US. My love for markets came later when I was already traveling to various cities for work and pleasure.

Home-cooked sinigang na baboy

At home, we like to prepare Filipino food like the classic sinigang na baboy (pork in sour soup) which we do from scratch, adobo cooked in wood-fired palayok, grilled meat and fish. I also cook Western dishes like pastas, paellas, roasts, and salads.

Of the local ingredients, my favorites to use include the dayap (key limes), coconut, muscovado, siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili), coconut vinegar, bagoong (fish paste) and tinapa (smoked fish).  I’m also looking at getting my hands on the kurakding, a wood mushroom from the Bicol region, since it has always eluded me.

Pork roasting to crackling perfection, then eaten with vinegar as dipping sauce. This is how Cebuanos eat their lechon

Cebuanos or Visayans typically don’t use a liver sauce in eating their lechon, rather they use a simple vinegar and/or soy dip. A tip: the next time you eat lechon, try to have it with a dip of patis (fish sauce) and dayap (lime) or kalamansi.

I love lechon paksiw or the day-after lechon stew made with good coconut vinegar, lots of garlic and a touch of muscovado. 

Lechon pairing tips:
I am a Diet Coke addict so that’s what I normally have with my lechon. I have also tried pairing it with wine, and the best I’ve had was a Verdicchio. Lechon skin and meat also go well with Italian varietal that has citrusy notes.

Kinilaw na tanigue dish: a must-try Cebuano dish

Cebu first-timers must-try food:
Lechon
Grilled fish
Seaweed salad dressed with local vinegar
Kinilaw (local ceviche)
Budbud kabog or millet cake for dessert

My go-to restaurants in Cebu:
Oriental Spice Gourmet in Lapu-Lapu
Phat Pho
La Nostra Pizzeria Napoletana

Get to know a local destination’s food culture. Three tips:
Visit a market in each town you visit.
Ask the vendors which restaurant buys the freshest seafood and dine there.
When in doubt, buy something fresh and spectacular in the market and ask the chef/cook in your hotel to cook it for you. Pay the corkage. It’ll usually be worth it.

Shopping for dried dorado in Batanes with Chef JP Anglo

The 8 most notable eats that I’ve had in the Philippines:
A couple of steamed lobsters cooked and enjoyed at the verandah of a private home over water in Coron. Book a SkyJet flight to Coron
The arayu or dried dorado (dolphin fish) in Batanes. Book a SkyJet flight to Batanes
A gorgeous
kinilaw na Malasugui at the carinderia by the pier in Tagbilaran, Bohol
Lechon from the sidewalks of Carcar, Cebu
Seafood on the beach in Bantayan Island, Cebu
Laing (dried taro leaves cooked in coconut milk) in Legazpi, Albay
Lumpiang ubod (fresh palm spring rolls) in Bacolod City
Batchoy (local noodle soup), also in Bacolod

My go-to restaurants in Manila:
Mamou
Sarsa
Milky Way Cafe
Mendokoro Ramenba
Tsukiji

Ten or 15 year’s ago, Manila’s dining scene wasn’t as active, creative and interesting than it is now.  Filipinos love to try new places, but it’s the restaurants that get repeat customers that have a better chance of survival in a very competitive marketplace. [Sadly] so many places open only to close by the time their first lease is up, or sooner.  

Island hopping in Coron, Palawan

My favorite holiday escape is Palawan but my recent trip to Batanes was eye-opening to say the least.  Batanes was so stunningly beautiful.

View from Fundacion Pacita in Batanes

Next on my culinary bucket list are Siargao and Iloilo.  I also have yet to explore much of Mindanao in terms of food.

My guilty pleasure are donuts, preferably old-fashioned or cinnamon sugar. Home-cooked sinigang na sugpo (prawn in sour soup) and bistek Tagalog (local beef steak) are my comfort food.

Chefs I admire are Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert who are way up there on the chart.  I have always loved Margarita Fores and have recently been working with Chef JP Anglo who cooks with such spunk.  A recent meal at Bad Saint in Washington makes me a serious fan of Chef Tom Cunanan.

More on Joel
Currently reading: A stack of 10+ cookbooks and food-related books on my bedside table
Currently watching: The Crown,  Howard’s End
Food I’d eat before I die: Too many to pick just one but I would like a hit of Beluga caviar, a generous portion of the finest quality tuna sashimi, a few slices of a good steak, a perfectly ripe Cebu mango, several sections of pink pomelo with bagoong, a nice salad and a Diet Coke.
My go-to casual footwear brand: Cole Haan, Tod’s
My go-to casual clothing brand: Rag & Bone
Accessory I splurge on: Crocodile leather wallets

Who is Joel Binamira?

Joel Binamira, who owns the famous lechon restaurant from Cebu, Zubuchon,is the man behind food blog Market Manila and Instagram account @therealmarketman. His pursuit for good food has taken him across the globe, hopping from one restaurant to the next. His staple? A stop at the local market.

Photos courtesy of Joel Binamira

Sophia’s Garden Resort

Sophia’s Garden Resort

Get allured by this Spanish beauty

Sophia’s lush garden setting.

Sophia’ s Garden Resort, a seven-minute ride from the main town of Coron, Palawan, is straight from a fairytale book. It’s an elegant Hispanic outdoor space full of greens and fruit-bearing trees and has a landscaped courtyard with outdoor gazebos, wrought iron chairs and tables and swing sets. At the heart of the property are a fire pit and a pool with Jacuzzi surrounded by wicker seating and loungers. It even gets more romantic at night when lights draped on trees are lit.

It can get cold and night in Coron and this ingenious fire place can bring some warmth

All 22 rooms are set in a standalone structure with roof tiles, rustic wood, lattice windows, colonial deck balustrade, and a stucco finish—a nod to old Spanish-style homes.

Sleep

The Honeymoon Suite

There are 22 rooms but the Honeymoon Suite is a standout. It has all the right recipe for ultimate comfort— spacious, balcony with views of the lush garden, a king-size bed, sleeper sofa, a mini bookshelf filled with good reads, and a spacious bathroom with walk-in shower and complete set of toiletries.

Eat

Pinakbet with tagunton (vegetable and baby shrimp stir fry)

Enjoy international comfort food, Asian fusion, and classic Filipino favorites prepared using ingredients indigenous to Coron at in-house restaurant El Comidor. Must try are the chef’s original recipe bagnet kare-kare with sauce made from cashew, grilled to-perfection stuffed squid, pinakbet with tagunton (vegetable and baby shrimps stir fry) and shrimp in sour soup served with fresh vegetables.

Drink

Coffee, fruit shakes, canned juice, soda, beer, wine (whites and reds) and cocktails.

Do

The resort offers islandhopping activities and tour packages through its in-house tour operator Amika Travel and Tours.

Honeymoon Suite starts at Php8500 (USD162) per night
Callalilyhotelsandresorts.com/sophiasgardenresort
Mobile: 63917 543 5775, +639939 915 0274

Get there
SkyJet flies up to 4x daily to Coron, Palawan. Book a SkyJet flight now.

Photos by Daniel Soriano

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