The not-so-new spot in Poblacion that still counts as a must visit for one thing: serious craft beer with selections no lower than 12
Craft beers are rising in popularity, especially among the younger crowd, but bars in Poblacion hardly carry more than one or two. Pedro Tap House, which officially opened in February 2019, solves that with their 12 taps offering nearly every single variant of craft beer you can find.
Pedro Tap House is, for lack of a better term, the tap house of local craft beer brewer Pedro Brewcrafters, known for brews such as the Procrastination Pale Ale and the Beach Blonde Ale. It’s in quite a discreet location being on the edge of Poblacion and Rockwell, but don’t let that fool you. It’s as much a Poblacion bar as any.
You’ll be met with music from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s once you go through their door. The couch right at the entrance reminds you of your friend’s basement sans the smell of dirty laundry. The interiors, overall, is clearly industrial. A quick pivot to your left leads you to more traditional seating, though still retaining the motif.
A trip upstairs leads to more seats, though you won’t feel separated from the rest of the tap house. Apart from the mural telling you where you are, they’ve intentionally left the space above the couch open so you can still enjoy the vibe of the tap house.
Food at Pedro Tap House looks at the same eras and design cues for inspiration. Their Bar Junk, in particular, is quite popular as it has almost every conceivable bar chow imaginable in one bowl: pop corn, candied bacon, almonds, cashews, chili (you’ll feel it but it won’t burn), and orange zest.
They also serve a mean version of the classic Filipino bar chow: sisig. Aptly named the Sacrilegious Sisig, it’s a serving of the Kapampangan classic that anyone would eat but Kapampangans will disown: chopped pork face and cheeks, chilies, bacon, chicharon, mayo, egg yolk—all served on a sizzling plate.
As with any self-respecting bar, Pedro Tap House has options for spirits, whether it’s a cocktail or a shot. Let’s be real, though: you don’t go to a tap house and not drink beer.
Since it’s Pedro, you’ll see their previously mentioned brews alongside the more experimental stuff like the Space Out Coffee Stout (a dark ale with coffee from collab with Yardstick) and the Lemon Pie Ale (collab with Nipa Brew). These change every so often, but one thing is for sure: they’ll always have at least 12 craft beer available on tap.
Parking will always be a problem in Poblacion, and no bar will ever solve that. That said, if you’re in the hunt for a tap house with some of the best brews around, Pedro Tap House is a solid option.
The basics Starts at Php165 for a 10-oz glass of craft beer, bar chow starts at Php120 5910 Matilde Street, Poblacion, Makati City @pedrotaphouse on Facebook and Instagram
90’s kids will get a kick out of a few features, while those looking for beauty will admire its simple yet deliberate approach.
Surf towns have become all the rage ever since Siargao took off. Luzon already has a few of its own: Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, Liwa Beach in Zambales, Baler in Aurora… and basically the entire coast of La Union. Naturally, places to stay have also popped in surf destinations, though this one in the town of Bacnotan in Elyu (La Union) made me do a double take: the Hillside Hostel.
At first glance, the place’s black, white, and wood-themed hostel won’t draw much attention. Bacnotan, after all, is like that seemingly unnoticeable dude sitting next to the current hotness, San Juan.
Don’t get me wrong; I like San Juan’s vibe. But there’s something about how quiet Bacnotan can be that just draws me to it like a moth to an unwitting candle—while the rest of the swarm hits up that bright light in the ceiling across the hall.
Hillside has a nostalgic charm on its own. The hostel sits at the bottom of a hill—hence the name. The lobby presents itself more like a living room of a good friend rather than a hotel/hostel lobby: a big sofa, two arm chairs, and a cool wooden coffee table with card and board games right underneath.
After getting your room key and a short briefing on the house rules, you’ll be led to your bunk in one of their three rooms. These bunks are quite spacious by themselves, with comfy mattresses, soft pillows, a fleece blanket, and a towel —the last two items you might not find in other hostels.
You’ve got a light, two wall outlets to charge whatever electronics you’ve brought, and lockers located at the far end of the room to store your stuff—if the in-bunk-bed mini-storage compartment isn’t enough.
Food at Hillside Hostel isn’t grand, but it does the trick if you want to fill up on something before or after a day of surfing or exploring La Union. They currently have Filipino breakfast staples presented as a rice bowl: tapsilog, bangsilog, and bacsilog—silogs, to those who are not familiar, are dishes paired with sinangag or fried rice, and log, short for itlog, Filipino for egg. In this case, the silogs are tapa or cured beef, bangus or milkfish, and bacon paired with silogs.
They serve free breakfast for all guests, which can be one of two things: malunggaypandesal from a bakery in Bacnotan with peanut butter, or a bowl of cereal from the fridge. Freshly-brewed coffee from El Union is served all day long.
You can take a tricycle to San Juan for lunch or dinner if you wish, or eat at the Riverfarm Restaurant, which is virtually next door.
A trip to San Juan on tricyle (Php20 per person from Hillside) is always in order if you’re ever in La Union. If, however, you’ve grown weary of surfing in Urbiztondo Beach, you can always ask for a tricycle tour of Bacnotan. For only Php1,900, you can hit spots like Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel, Immuki Island in Bacnotan, or even as far north as the Luna Watchtower in Luna. Check with the front desk for the whole itin.
If touring isn’t your thing, visit Quirino Beach (Bacnotan Surfing Spot on Google Maps, 10-15 minutes from Hillside). It has good swells even during summer months and is good for both beginner and experienced surfers alike. Staying in means you can drink cold beer at Hillside’s roofdeck, play board or card games, or read a book.
From the jalousie windows to the black, white, and wood motif, Hillside has been deliberately designed to be simple, which is in itself already beautiful. I wish there were more food options. Company was great as well, seeing as hostels are often places where you meet people from all walks of life.
The basics Php800 per person per night, includes breakfast (malunggay pandesal or breakfast cereal, El Union coffee) KM 281.7, National Highway, Brgy. Baroro, Bacnotan, La Union @HillsideHostel on Facebook and Instagram for inquiries and reservations
Get there. Ride a Partas bus bound for Vigan, Laoag, or Abra and asked to be dropped off at Hillside Hostel, Baroro, Bacnotan. If the conductor is not familiar, just tell them it’s before Riverfarm. Fare is at Php552 per person from Pasay City, and buses leave every hour. You can also ride a Sebay Express bus and be dropped off at San Juan, where you can then take a jeep to Hillside for Php12 per person.
Photos by Andrew Del Rosario Modelling by Alyssa Sevilla
Half-Filipina, half-Aussie travel influencer Zowie Palliaer shows us how to navigate the Island Born of Fire, her style
Camiguin, nicknamed the Island Born of Fire, is one of the few places in the country where you can experience all that the Philippines offers without having to leave the municipality. It has challenging mountain trails, powdery white-sand beaches, colorful underwater scenes, delicious food, and amazing people—all within an island that’s smaller than Malta.
Camiguin-based model and travel influencer, Zowie Palliaer, tells us the best route to take to fully experience the adventure-packed island. Here’s her take on spending four days and three nights in this gem North of Mindanao.
Day 1: Explore nearby sights
Flying into Camiguin, you’ll get in around lunch time. First thing’s first, food! Straight across from the airport is La Dolce Vita, so grab a delicious wood fire pizza before the adventure starts. From there, check into Bintana sa Paraiso Naasag and then continue a few kilometres down the road to the Old Volcano. Transformed into the stations of the cross, it’s about 30 minutes of easy walk to the summit where you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the island.
Next up, the Sunken Cemetery. Here, you can either take photos from the view deck, ride a boat to the Cross platform for a closer look, or the adventurous type can even snorkel among the marine life and coral that have now taken over the cemetery. Past the Sunken Cemetery lies the Old Spanish Church Ruins. Aside from the cross, this historical site is one of the last standing reminders of the destructive volcanic eruption in 1871, making it an integral part of Camiguin’s history.
Finish the day off at Ardent Hot Springs. These cascading springs are flowing with warm water from the active Mt. Hibok Hibok volcano, so it’s a perfect spot to settle in and relax during the early evening.
Day 2: Swimsuit day!
The early bird catches the worm, or in this case, less brutal sun rays on White Island. Arguably the most visited destination in Camiguin, Zowie recommends heading out there early as the only shade on offer are beach umbrellas for hire. Swim, relax and enjoy the view looking back at Camiguin from this ever-changing sandbar.
Since you started early, there’s plenty of time left for adventure, so make your way to Katibawasan Falls. Found in the middle of dense jungle, the 250-foot waterfall is a sight to behold, and the pool surrounding it provides a refreshing place to swim and take photos.
Last stop on the day’s agenda is Sto. Niño Cold Springs. Take a winding road up the mountain in Catarman and you’ll find yourself at the biggest natural spring on the island. The water here verges on freezing, so Zowie suggests jumping in without hesitation. There are picnic sheds around the edge of the pool for you to hang out in when you’re not swimming. Complete the chill time and have fish spa.
Day 3: Adventure time
Switch it up and head to Sagay and Guinsiliban on the other side of the island on day three. Put on your hiking shoes for a trek to the lesser known Binangawan Falls in Sagay. An intermediate climb, the jungle covered path leading to the falls is steep but rewarding once you reach the oasis at the bottom. You’re almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself, so it’s a perfect place to swim and explore this untouched area.
Head back on the road and keep making your way around the island to the Moro Watchtower in Guinsiliban. Located behind the elementary school, this centuries-old tower was used in the Spanish era to guard against Moro attacks from mainland Mindanao.
Travel a further 10 minutes to the Kibila Giant Clam Sanctuary in Cantaan, Guinsiliban. This small stretch of white sand is home to hundreds of giant clams just off shore, part of a breeding program. Snorkel among incredible coral formations, plentiful marine life and get up close and personal with the clams.
Day 4: Bittersweet last day in Camiguin
Cap your Camiguin trip with some of my personal favorite destinations, starting with the gem of Mahinog—Mantigue Island. Accessible by a 10 minute pump boat ride, Mantigue is a marine sanctuary absolutely teeming with underwater life, and you might even spot a turtle or two. The island is shaded by a thick canopy of trees and is home to a small fishing community so be sure to walk around the island and meet the locals. There’splenty of picnic sheds and tables, and there’s a small restaurant where you can order grilled meat and seafood.
J&R Fishpen at the lagoon is Zowie’s favorite place to enjoy freshly caught and cooked seafood as well as classic Filipino dishes. With a full belly, you’re ready to make the drive to Tuasan Falls about 45 minutes away in Catarman. Aside from the road leading in, this area has remained practically untouched making it the perfect place to swim and take photos of the beautiful surroundings.
Last but not least is the popular Bura Soda Swimming Pool, a natural spring with carbonated water located down the road from Tuasan Falls. If you’re game to give it a taste, there are taps where you can try this entirely natural, slightly fizzy water.
Get there. SkyJet Airlines flies to Camiguin four times weekly. Island transportation includes motorbikes, multicabs, and motorelas.
Here’s a list of islands in the country you can rent to yourself, or share with other holiday makers but don’t feel like it.
Private islands have an aura of luxury and exclusivity that most destinations find hard to match. As an archipelago, we have a lot of them already unlocked by some of the country’s rich and famous.
In fact, some of our islands have become known throughout the world as some of the best, like one of the entries in this list. If you’re looking at satisfying that “luxury travel” item on your list, check out these private islands you can book for a truly luxurious experience.
Amanpulo, Cuyo, Palawan
Perhaps the most well-known of the islands on this list is the most luxurious of luxurious, Amanpulo. Located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, Amanpulo is actually situated on Pamalican Island, one of the islands in the Cuyo archipelago. You can do pretty much everything you’d like to do on a private island here: swim in the sea with waters so clear they glisten in the sunlight at high noon, snorkel, have a bit of water sports like kite surfing, and embark on sunset cruise.
You may encounter other guests on the island but the resort management has a way of making you feel you and your party are the only ones there.
One of the newer private islands the country has seen, Banwa is a place where you can find a luxurious and very private escape. You charter the whole island, meaning you can have it all to yourself. It’s about 500km from Manila, with San Vicente as its main entry point.
This is one of those places that you definitely do not expect. Bamboo Private Islands is actually split into two: the Big Bamboo Island and the Small Bamboo Island. Both can be rented out, though the Small Bamboo Island is more popular, thanks to its location: you’re smack dab in the middle of Culion Bay, close to popular gems like Ditaytayan, Malcapuya, and Two Seasons Coron Island.
They’ve been called the Robinson Crusoe Island of the Philippines. Brother Island, located in the northern shores of El Nido, is one of the most popular islands that you can rent on Airbnb. It’s the only exclusive private island retreat in El Nido that offers snorkeling (a coral reef surrounds the island), a jungle and bamboo forest, and you’ll be staying in an ancestral house that was put up in 1991.
Starts at Php23,000/night, includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, airport pick-up and drop-off (El Nido), snorkeling gear, kayaks Brotherisland.ph
Ariara, Linapacan, Palawan
Talk about luxury and privacy. Ariara Island, located about 256km southwest of Manila, is probably the must-visit on this list. You can rent out the whole island for two nights and have the utmost in privacy. Imagine having a 125-acre island to yourself, with your own white sand beach, your own coral reef to snorkel in, all of your meals prepared by a personal chef, a bevy of watersports equipment, and roundtrip transfers between El Nido or Coron, whichever airport you’re flying into.
These spots from bag designer Lally Dizon and her businessman husband Chris are sure to heighten the romance in your night out.
Great food, good wine, a romantic ambience, and impeccable service. These are the things that luxury bag designer Lally Dizon (@lallydizon_mla) and her husband, Chris, look for whenever they go out on a date.
What Lally does is this: “I actually research first to check the new restaurants we can try for our next date night.” She often checks spots in BGC and Poblacion in Makati City for unique concepts that she and her husband can explore.
Taste art at degustacion restos
Degustacion restaurants or menus are basically tasting menus, except that the chef takes over the whole process of creating it: from the theme down to deciding on which dishes get served. Servings will be tiny, but think of it this way: it’s the chef showing you how good he is in the kitchen.
For places like this, Lally recommends:
Gallery by Chele
From esteemed chef Chele Gonzales, Gallery by Chelewas once the hit degustacion-only Gallery VASK. It’s been revamped to include a casual dining set-up, but get a spot in their DINING ROOM and you can enjoy their tasting menus.
Gallery by Chele is located at 5F Clipp Center, 11th Ave corner 39th St, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, visit gallerybychele.com or call +63 917 5461673.
Omakaseis a practice usually seen in Japanese restaurants: you let the chef decide what he wants to serve you. That’s basically a degustacion menu, if you ask us, and Chef Bruce Rickett’s Mecha Uma falls into the category of “one of the best places” to get it.
Mecha Uma is at GF, RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th and 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, call 02 8801 2770.
One of the best ways to enjoy how good the food is at 12/10 in Saguijo is to get their omakase or prix fixe menu. It gives you a full experience of what their chefs AND mixologists are capable of, as 12/10 is, after all, a non-traditional izakaya. <insert what prix fixe menu. readers need to understand.>
12/10 is at 7635 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City. For reservations, call +63 915 6632823 or email [email protected]
Telenovela feels in Spanish restos
This would be more of a preference that anything, but Spanish restaurants are practically made for good date nights. Wine? Check. Food? Check. Ambiance? Check. Service? Check.
In that vein, here are some of Lally and Chris’s picks:
They serve food that plays around with traditional flavors of Spanish cuisine, throwing in a bit of Asian flair and panache. Dining here feels like you’re in one of those family restaurants in Barcelona. Try the xx.
Head for the 2F of One Bonifacio High Street Mall to experience a very playful Spanish meal at La Picara.
Nothing says Spanish quite like a pan of paella and a glass of Sangria, and you get all of that (plus more) at Rambla.
Rambla has spots in Rockwell and Salcedo Village. For reservations, visit bit.ly/ramblaph
It’s been called “an institution” by its patrons, and it’s not hard to see why: Las Flores serves a mean paella negra next to their seafood paella. There’s also the idea of drinking sangria in a mason jar, which some people find odd.
Las Flores is at One McKinley Place in BGC and The Podium in Ortigas, Pasig City.
It’s no secret why Donosti made it to Philippine Tatler’s 20 Best Restaurants of 2019. They tick off all the checkboxes of what a Spanish restaurant ought to be with their mix of on-point flavors from San Sebastian (probably the best place to eat in Spain for Basque cooking) and creative interpretations of classic Spanish dishes. Must try: xx
Donosti is located at NAC Tower, 32nd Ave, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, call 02 8856 0206.
Go full fancy at a steakhouse
Nothing says a fancy date like having wine with a delicious piece of steak. There’s a lot of steakhouses to choose from in Metro Manila, but here are the ones Lally and Chris like:
Raging Bull Chophouse & Bar
Shangri-La at The Fort’s in-house steakhouse serves a hefty-yet-delicious Tomahawk Wagyu from Jack’s Creek in New South Wales that deserves to be shared between two people, though you might want to dial it back to The Chopping Block if a tomahawk is a bit too big.
Raging Bull is at L3, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.
Wolfgang’s is a New York staple for steaks. They only have 21 branches worldwide, and we’re lucky to have three of them: one in Resorts World Manila, one at The Podium, and another at One Bonifacio High Street. Doesn’t get any fancier than that, really.
For reservations, call 02 8511 7009 (Resorts World Manila), 02 7586 4892 (BGC), and 02 7505 6272 (Ortigas).
Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse and Bar
When people talk about steaks and City of Dreams Manila, they’re usually talking about Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse and Bar. The steaks taste great; they have a good selection of wines and spirits; but it’s the ambiance really takes the cake.
Ruby Jack’s is at UGF, City of Dreams, Aseana Ave corner Roxas Blvd, Parañaque City.
I Am AngusSteakhouse
This spot is a bit under the radar as far as steak lovers are concerned, but it is genuinely a good place to get steak. Tucked away at Dining at Yakal, a row of specialty restaurants next to Santi’s Delicatessen, they give you about as bare of a steakhouse experience as can be: good meat, good wine, and a quiet place to enjoy it all.
I Am Angus Steakhouse is at 7431 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati. For reservations, call 02 8892 5852 or +63956 135 4213.
Who are Lally and Chris Dizon
Lally Cruz-Dizon is the creative mind behind luxury brand LD, and creative director of Vintage Restore, the country’s pioneer in repair and restoration of luxury leather goods. She is happily married to businessman Chris Dizon, a partner of The Brewery and Draft.