The Vakul

Ivatan woman wearing vakul.

Something to add to the Mad Hatter’s collection: the vakul, a quirky headgear worn by the local women
 of Batanes in northernmost Philippines to protect themselves from harsh weather conditions—the scorching heat of the sun, rains, and even strong winds.

Voyavoy leaves (Philippine date palm) are sun-dried and woven to make a vakul.

Nowadays, you’d see vakul-donning locals in Batanes gamely posing for a snap. Help out by buying a vakul from them, which could very well be a good travel token.

Get there
SkyJet Airlines flies daily from Manila to Batanes.

Photo by Ferdz Decena

Dashing spot: Calayan

Dashing spot: Calayan

A grueling 20-hour travel that ends nice—to real virgin natural attractions

Picture-perfect Sibang Cove.

Your castaway dreams can be made of this: 20 hours of butt-numbing bus ride and (literally) a rocking boat ride to get to far flung Calayan, part of the Babuyan Group of Islands at the northernmost tip of Luzon, 528 kilometers north of Manila.

Calayan’s main lure are its wildness and complete detachment from the world allowing you to enjoy its virgin natural attractions all by yourself—or except for maybe a local or two. It’s fabled for its white-sand beaches, stunningly blue lagoons,and beautiful hills particularly Nagudungan Hills, which offers a breathtaking view of the island’s three coves Caniwara, Sibang and Cababaan. Trek to Bangaan Hills for an IG-worthy ocean view of Calayan.

Get there

  • Take a Florida or RJC bus in Sampaloc Manila bound for Claveria, Cagayan, a 13-hour ride.
  • Get off at Claveria bus station, then take a tricycle going to the Claveria port.
  • Hop on a lampitaw, a native outrigger boat, to Calayan, a five- to seven-hour boat ride depending on the sea conditions.
  • Boats leave at 5am and 9am only. Pre-book your boat transfers.

Stay
TPS Homestay owned by Tessie Pimentel Singun offers an accommodation priced at Php300 (USD6) per night and Php120 per meal for each person. She can also help with boat hire. Call days in advance to book.
Mobile number: +63929 837 5737

Photo by Norma Rei Villamater

Fyre away

Fyre away

Music for everyone and the best baked mussels in town

The open air resto-bar-turned roofdeck has a casual vibe to it

In the character-laden village of Poblacion in Makati, where the swanky, gritty and the artsy collide, springs yet another resto-bar alluring to the middle-class Filipino crowd.

Fyre, which opened in December 2017, sits on an open-air roofdeck of a building on the corner of P. Burgos and Guerrero Streets. It’s no frill—wooden tables, benches and stools fenced in by planters, strings of lights hovering above, views of the immediate Poblacion vicinity and lit buildings of Rockwell Center in the distance. But don’t be fooled because it transforms into a legit party place as the night sets in.

If you come at 7pm you’ll spot guests having early dinner and drinks; the lights are brighter; the music, quieter. All these change by the hour.

On music, nobody’s left out. From 90s R&B to the most up to date tunes—the dj has got it covered.

There’s no scrimping on crew at Fyre and we appreciate its after effects—fast and efficient service.

Food

The basked mussels are a must try. They’re grilled to perfection, seasoned just right

Mostly bar chows. The star attraction is the Fyre Roasted Pork belly, which was not what we had on our first visit. Instead we ordered bar chows we thought would go well with our drink of choice: ice cold beer. We had Chili Cheese Kropek, your typical crackling except that it’s coated in cheese powder and served along with pickled onion, black vinegar and chili on the side. We also ordered the TBT—tofu skin, bangus (milkfish) belly and tofu. Upon our request, the chef prepared it with no bangus but more tofu. It came out nice and light—fried-to-perfection on a bed of special sauce and sprinkled with chopped onions, tomatoes and herbs. I fell in love with the baked mussels—seasoned and baked just right—and the tasty chicken wings, which I thought could go well with steamed rice.

Drinks

Local and imported beer, cocktails, hard drinks.

The basics
About Php400 (USD8) per person. Facebook.com/fyrerooftoploungeph

Tip: 
If you plan to go on a Friday or a Saturday night, reserve a table at least a week in advance

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