About Me

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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

La Trinidad Good Eats: Half Cup

our latest happy place

In a busy little side street beside Savemore La Trinidad is a quaint little café that offers both sweet and savory treats. A must-visit place that opened just a year ago, I was still amazed at how I have not heard about this foodie gem until recently.

it tastes as good as it looks

Getting resto recommendations in La Trinidad, Benguet from my foodie high school friend, Doc Anna was a godsend.

I did not expect seeing as quaint and cozy as this place, in a side street in La Trinidad

Heading out to the Valley every Friday for MAX’s occupational therapy sessions has been a series of rushed lunches in Baguio or laid back lunches in Seafood Island or Jack’s Restaurant in the area. It was getting quite old. 
not knowing what to expect, MAX was worried that this was going to turn out to be one unsatisfying meal...glad the place proved him wrong
 Yesterday, Phil urged MAX and I to open up our adventurous sides and go on that 2 minute (or less) walk to Half Cup. 

Half Cup is on the left of that bldg with lots of clothes hanging

To get there, you have to go inside the side street on the left side of Savemore , La Trinidad (if you’re facing said building). You’ll pass a fruit stand on the left. Keep on walking until you get a glimpse of a laundry shop / used clothes shop. Look to your left. You should see a driveway that leads to a small 2 storey structure. 

The signage is the color of café au lait, so it’s kinda easy to miss this on a sunny day. However, the Half Cup’s lack of contrast on their signage has been more than made up for by their delicious and affordable food, superb service and wonderful ambiance. 

Here’s a look at their menu:

My boys ad I ended up with this:

Phil's baked ribs with fries and Spanish rice (as the 2 side options that go with all meals). Ribs were tasty and tender!

All meat sandwich on whole wheat bread. Don't let the cup size fool ya in this pic. This sandwich was LOADED with beef balls, bacon, pepperoni and cheese!

MAX got the bacon carbonara (Pasta Alfredo, really), served with freshly baked wheat bread slices.
 Thirsty? Aside from the drinks on the menu (no soda. The closest thing is Canada Dry), they have free brewed coffee, flavored and regular water – you’ll just have to get it yourself though.

 Mango infused water and mineral water - all free
The staff we encountered were all courteous, alert, thoughtful and knowledgeable of Half Cup's products…down to what spices were used!

Your server's name is on the order booklet on your table. Wasn't able to take a pic of our server's booklet though...

to make sure they get your orders correctly, you get to write what you want. Server will collect it soon after

When Phil sat on a seat with a low back, a member of the staff rushed to get him a chair with a higher back. It’s those small things that make this café extra special. Food wait time was also minimal.

The décor is casual, using lightly varnished pinewood for the furnishings and flooring, the lighting perfect and the background music, just right for our son MAX’s sensitive ears.

Overall, we were stuffed with the generous portions of food served. It was perfectly seasoned that we did not have enough space left for dessert after we dug heartily into our huge cups (The Half Cup, remember?). 

Given how delish our lunch was, we knew dessert was going to be good too. We got some fudge cookies and cupcakes to go. The dessert did not disappoint.

we got a classic chocolate cupcake (not too sweet, fudgy and divine), a savory cupcake  - pesto with cream cheese icing (yum yum) and these uber delish fudge cookies that did not skimp on the chocolate pieces

We will definitely go back to Half Cup (as if this blog post wasn’t proof enough!).

These 5 pesos cookies are must eats!! Hoarding when we come back next week :)
You can get in touch with them through these numbers:

 From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fire and Rain: Combining Both In Puerto Galera

If you can see the nose-looking rock and its two nostrils, you have made it to Ilong Island at Puerto Galera
After a week's worth of hospitalization and another week of recuperating from the dreaded dengue fever, I am back to write about our travels, along with our adventures and misadventures alike.

In the last blog, I wrote about our most recent Puerto Galera trip. What I didn't include in that post was the island hopping and snorkeling at the Coral Garden that went on. To rectify the situation, I bring to you the ins and outs of enjoying a bit of Puerto Galera.

Gatorade colored water - so pretty!!
As we mentioned earlier (in the post entitled When In Puerto Galera,: The TRIBAL HILLS MOUNTAIN RESORT REVIEW), we were lucky that the resort we stayed in had the right contacts as far as land and sea arrangements go.

another water adventure in the making with our ultimate water baby
Day 2 in Galera, we decided to set out and take a look at the pristine waters of the area.

it's a wonderful day to go exploring!
Right after a late breakfast, our driver, Kuya Charlon, drove us to White Beach to buy water, bread and supplies for the day's activities. As you go island hopping, there is only one island that will have food and drinks. Unfortunately, the island is the last pit stop before you head on back to the main island. Given that we were going boating for half a day, keeping ourselves hydrated was a must. The bread on the other hand, was not for sustenance, but rather for the fishes we were off to feed at the marine sanctuary.

boarding time
Payment collections at the pier are centralized. For our 5-man group, our island hopping and snorkeling tour cost us about P2500. That's inclusive of the boat rental (along with it's 2-man crew), snorkeling gear,  visiting 3 islands and being dropped off at the marine sanctuary known as Coral Garden.

talk about biodiversity!

Our first stop was the stunning Coral Garden. As we got to the marine sanctuary, our boatman explained to us that given that the area was a protected zone, standard sized motorized boats were not permitted to go over the area. Instead, a smaller boat would take us to the actual snorkeling site. We were charged an extra P200/person for the second boat rental.

hold on tight!
The smaller boats had rubber tubes attached to the outriggers on both the portside and the starboard of the boat. The tubes are there for you to hold on the boat (with it's motor running) as you are pulled through the water, like Superman flying through the sky, just in, erm water (d'oh).

MAX hugging mama for dear life as I held on to the rubber tubing
My experience was slightly different, as I had our MAX clinging to me while this was going on. Of course, we both had life vests on, as the boat pulled as smoothly through the water, all the way to the actual Coral Garden.

Once you get to the Coral Garden, the water, thanks to the reef, becomes a little bit shallower. However, you're better off floating and swimming rather than trying to step on corals as there are sea urchins on the bottom.

one of our boatmen pulled out 2 of the spines. The 3rd however broke off and stayed under my skin (see black dot)
Despite wearing swim shoes, I unfortunately ended up with 3 7-inch sea urchin spines on the top side of the shoe (not the rubber part, but the neoprene area). This happened as we were about to leave, and I was trying to stand upright as Phil and I were putting MAX on the boat.

urchin spines or not, seeing this boy enjoy the trip ws sooo worth it!

Our boat started to drift to the area where there were seriously like 50 sea urchins (baseball sized creatures). Luckily, the spines may hurt but are not poisonous. My toe experienced pins and needles for the rest of the afternoon, but that was the worst part of it, after the initial pain. But then again,  I digress. Let's get back to the good parts:

snorkeling in clear waters, using the perfect mask the  easy breathe
The Coral Garden's waters are wonderfully clear and the fishes came in all shapes, sizes and color! The waves, as those in protected by a reef, were gentle and there were no crowds to boot! It was a slice of perfection.

after getting him to learn how to swim on his own, we're trying to get him to swim once more with a life vest on (just when we're in open water)
Because we were with MAX and weren't sure if he was game for spelunking and more swimming, we decided not to go to the giant clams area as well as visiting the underwater cave.

huge nostrils behind us
When the sun rose higher in the sky, we decided to go to the two other islands included in the tour: Ilong Island and Bayanan Beach (according to our boatmen). Both islands had the same crystal clear waters and pristine white beaches.

Phil singing his ode to the sun
In fact, there are quite a lot more pocket beaches and islands to visit in Puerto Galera. So much so that it has earned the nickname of having the Most Beautiful Bays in World. We swam some more, enjoying the mini beaches (one across each other), until we started to get hungry.

on hindsight, I should've just gone to the market and asked our boatmen to help cook our lunch. If we weren't hungry, we would've stayed longer
The third and final island on our itinerary was the restaurant island known as Maniknik Island.

In here, makeshift huts/eateries were built as a stop for the hungry traveler.

The prices were surprisingly reasonable, with P120/meal (includes a huge portion of a viand of your choice, a cup of rice and an 8 oz bottle of soda).

a huge bowl of sinigang na liempo - could feed 3 people, costs about 150. Comes wit rice and soda
Food is cooked from scratch and is seriously fresh and delish.

good stuff in a cup!
While we waited for our lunch to be cooked, we ordered Halo halo from another stall, to beat the heat. At P35 a cup, we would've paid more and felt ok with it. We enjoyed that dessert.

fried tilapia, grilled pork belly (and one grilled tilapia, coming up). Try the red eggs ensalada there. The salted eggs are seriously good!
We especially enjoyed the simple meal that came after!

additonal grilled tilapia for 3rd child, Kicco
While at Coral Garden, I had asked the boatmen if it were possible to obtain fresh sea urchin for lunch. Since the area was a marine sanctuary, we had to wait til we got to the resto island, before one of our boatman could find sea urchins for Phil.

Boatmens Makmak and Erick - couldn't have asked for better guides!!
The only uni variety near the island's waters were the ones without sharp pointed spines. Since they really weren't in season, we had to settle for smaller ones. It was still a great experience as it could not get any fresher than that.

Uni galore!

As for our boatmen's lunch, the island restos have a referral program of sorts, that since they brought us there for lunch, our boatmen get to eat for free.

MAX plays with the local kids. Here we see him being taught how to dive off an outrigger by one of the kids who go diving for coins thrown by boat passengers
By the way, we didn't get to bring enough cash for the excursion. Luckily, as the payments are centralized, you could go have lunch and enjoy other activities now and pay them back later, through your contact at the resort.

luckily, they didn't leave us stranded on the island when we didn't bring enough cash for the other stuff :)
After having huge portions of lunch, we decided to head back to the main island, as the rains often come in the afternoon.

awesome day with the boys
Satiated with the food, a bit tired and ready for a nap after all the swimming, and thinking that everything we paid for was so worth it - we headed back to the resort.

someone's too pooped to party wile I send out my love to the PAPArazzi who made this day possible
Back on land, the fun doesn't have to end. If you're up to it, eating out at night at White beach is also a great idea.

Food is decent, varied (seriously lots of options) and most importantly, inexpensive.

all meat platter at a resto at the White Beach
There are also shows in various establishments, but the most attended to shows are the ones with the fire dancers. Loud catchy tunes fill the night as the fire dancers swing their flames and dance to the beat of the music. Really hot!

I'd rather run away to fire dance than join the circus lol

Don't forget to tip. You could also get one of them to teach you some of the basic moves.

find peace and traquility in the many micro beaches and islands of Puerto Galera #thatNamasteMoment
I've said it once, and I'll say it again: heading out to Puerto Galera is a good idea. For inquiries, contact Marlo:

To get to Puerto Galera, please check out our blog : EN ROUTE TO PUERTO GALERA: HOW TO GET THERE.

the big boys insisted on riding the back of the pick up, right after we went island hopping. Getting rained isn't so bad, until you realize that your back and shoulders are sun burnt :) xoxo
 From TMW, may all our wanderings be better than ours!!