Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Chased Batanes Dream

My mind was already wandering in paradise even before our flight took off from Manila. Less than 2 hours later, I felt a nudge to signal that we are already landed and I am now some 200kms away from origin where I am as close to Taiwan as I am with Luzon. As soon as I got off the plane, I knew that this is going to be a totally different experience from my previous domestic travels.

Let the adventure begin!

Ms. Delia of Shanedel's Inn greeted us at the arrival area of Basco Airport and ushered us to the van that's been our ride around town for the duration of our stay. Our room had basic amenities but offered an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. Just make sure that you leave the curtains down especially if you're changing clothes to avoid surprise audiences outside the windows.

Marlboro Country

First stop was the Racuh a Payaman or more commonly known as Marlboro Country, one of the more recognizable tourist spot and a popular photo op site in Batan. The view of the grass-covered hills and the waves crashing to the shore felt like a postcard scene coming into life. 

Honesty Coffee Shop

The shop that is famous for showcasing Ivatan's honesty and virtue, Honesty Coffee Shop is a noted destination in town for its uniqueness. Just don't expect to see a cafe since the shop is more of a convenience store with instant coffee, Batanes tea, soft drinks, biscuits, kamote chips, souvenir shirts and keychains, cup noodles, fresh coconut and even beer on display.

The prices are indicated in the board as the store is self-service -- you get what you need, write it in the logbook and drop your payment in the box provided. Always remember to bring small bills and coins so you'll pay the exact amount and you won't have to knock next door to ask for a change.

San Carlos Borromeo Church

Also known as Mahatao Church, this Roman Catholic Church was made a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in July 2001 to preserve its beauty and architecture.

Basco Lighthouse

One of the three lighthouses in Batanes, the Basco Lighthouse stands 6-story tall with a viewing deck on the 5th floor. The viewing deck offers an unobstructed sight of entire Batan, Batanes' main island where Basco is located. From the top, you can also see Sabtang Island to your South and Itbayat Island up North to complete all three islands that comprise the Batanes province.

Best time to go is during the late afternoon when you can catch the sun set by the sea. Believe me, it was such a romantic and wonderful sight!

Tukon Chapel

A beautiful chapel that charmingly sits atop of a hill, Tukon Chapel's design was inspired by Ivatan stone houses. The construction of the chapel was completed in May 2008 and was initiated by the Abad family to give the nearby community a nearer place to pray and hear mass.

I always thought that a trip to Batanes is a far-fetched travel goal (way down my bucket list) as airfares can go skyrocket high, more expensive than a trip to Hongkong at times. But as cliche as it sounds, dreams do come true if you believe it will happen!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oasis in Paradise: Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge

It has always been my dream to see Fundacion Pacita up close the very first time I saw it on a local travel show way back before Batanes became the mainstream destination it is now. There had been several opportunities to travel to Basco in the past but it was only recently that the dream finally became a reality. The cheapest room in Fundacion Pacita costs around Php10,000 per night with a minimum 2-night stay which was way above our budget. From what I've heard, the hotel is no longer open for day tours to the public so unless you're staying in Fundacion, there's no way you can see its exquisite interiors and the amazing view from each room's private deck. Good thing a friend knew someone who allowed us to take a peek of the most beautiful hotel in Basco, Batanes.

The family-owned and operated hotel was named in memory of Pacita Abad, a world-acclaimed Ivatan artist who succumbed to cancer in 2004. Butch Abad, Pacita's brother and the current Budget and Management Secretary of the country, decided to convert the property to a lodge to house Pacita's and other Filipino artists' works of art like BenCab and Araceli Limcaco Dans.

People usually get turned off with Fundacion Pacita's expensive rates but after seeing the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and panoramic hills, I bet its worth every centavo.

How would you like to wake up to this? Pure bliss.

No television and no in-room wifi access but all the Ivatan-inspired rooms and suites are tastefully designed with comfortable beds, air-conditioning unit, toilet and bath and a private sun deck.

But more than its mesmerizing beauty and commanding views, staying in this stunning boutique hotel helps promote and support the local community with its various projects like educational assistance as initiated by The Jorge, Aurora, and Pacita Abad Memorial Foundation, Inc. 

Fundacion Pacita is indeed a nature lover's paradise with a big heart.


Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge
Brgy. Chanarian, Tukon
Basco, Batanes, Philippines
Tel.: (63917) 855-9364 / (63939) 901-6353

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Korean Village: Malate's Popular Choice

Korean Village Restaurant keeps popping on the screen whenever I search for the best restaurants in Malate, Manila. After several attempts, CS and I finally went out one dinner time to check if the reviews were indeed true. One thing I hate about going to Malate is finding a parking spot since most of the restaurants don't really have designated spaces and just let their customers park along the streets. We were lucky to arrive early and got the last spot in front of Korean Village.

CS and I got inside and were ushered to a table in the non-smoking area. First thing I noticed is the run down interior and the smell of old grease -- not a good first impression. We actually thought of leaving and just go to our favorite Asunaro Restaurant in Pan Pacific Hotel but I was really hoping to try it even once so we went ahead with ordering anyway. Based on the reviews I've read prior to our visit, Korean Village offers one of the best meats for grilling in the area. Since we were just ordering for 2 that night, we decided to order a beef, a pork and a fish dish for variety.

On the table


The restaurant offers 4 types of Banchan that are not refillable, another first in our book since all Korean places we've been to in the past offered complimentary refill of the side dishes. Except for the Spicy Dilis, all others were bland and forgettable so we didn't bother requesting anymore.

Stir-Fried Beansprouts

Spicy Dilis



Korean Village Restaurant lives up to the hype with its delicious, tender and semi-sweet beef and pork meats. No wonder a lot of  people, mostly patrons I guess, still go here even if a lot of newer restaurants have opened nearby. Contrary to other reviews though, the servings were not as huge as I was expecting. I've been served bigger slices of meat at the same price from restaurants like Makchang and A-Won, two of our favorite Korean places in Manila.

Imported Striploin - Php300.00

Pork Spareribs - Php300.00

Grilled Mackerel (Medium) - Php280.00

Hunger and curiosity were satisfied but I guess I won't be coming back anytime soon. Aside from the old and smelly interiors, I find the staff unfriendly and the service really slow even if only a few tables were occupied that night. Another affirmation that to each his own indeed.


Korean Village Restaurant
566 J. Nakpil Street
Malate, Manila
Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 522-1902
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