Bacolod for Beginners (and the semi-advanced)

I wrote this entry exactly one year ago when I was getting married. So, anyway, this information is still current but I have some additions because we have returned one year later.

Bacolod for Beginners

First of all, L’Fisher has opened an Econotel right beside the original L’Fisher.

Secondly, I was remiss in mentioning the Art District in Lopues Mandalagan. It has a high concentration of bars and even a club called Oil.


And finally my new favorite dessert place is called Anna Co. They have Snickers cheesecake which is so my taste. They have a branch in the Shakey’s across Avenue Suites but the original one is all the way in Silay. Both coffee shops are decorated with the work of Negrense artist Charlie Co, Anna’s husband.

Uno Morato and Komikon

     Pop on over to Uno Morato to get a glimpse of the burgeoning Pinoy komiks! scene in the Philippines.  Founded by three komiks! creators themselves, they fill the need for those of us who need a fix of komiks! in between Komikons, which by the way will be happening this Saturday at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig on November 15, 2014.

     The komiks! scene continues to flourish.  Tabi Po vol. 2 will be out.  Gabrielle Chee Kee of Parokya ni Edgar fame brings their Mang Jose character to life, a superhero who forks over a bill once he has rendered his superhero services.  Trese 6 is coming, but will miss the Komikon, to come out on 12/13/14, an auspicious date.  (Btw, did you know the six Trese covers combine to make a giant Trese portrait!  Awesome.)

      And finally, Fully Booked is now selling Meganon comics beside/s Visprint.

      Onward and upward, the golden age of Pinoy Komiks! :)


* Uno Morato is located at the building at the corner of E. Rodriguez and Tomas Morato (beneath World Class Persian Kabab).  There’s lots of parking if you drive behind it, where you will actually find Uno Morato.

* Komikon is at the Bayanihan Center in the Unilab Compound at Pioneer corner United St. in Pasig.  There is also a lot of parking.

Oslob Cebu

Let me get this out of the way first, the cheapest way to probably get to Oslob is to take a Ceres bus from Cebu City and pay P500 to snorkel with the whale sharks when you get there (P1000 if you’re a foreigner).

Now let me tell you how we got there. First we got in touch with Island Trek Tours. Their website is the first that pops up when you Google Oslob diving. They will contact you and then you have to deposit a down payment (50% of cost ) to their bank account.

We then booked our own accommodations separately. We chose to stay at The Henry Hotel which was excellent for two nights.

One of Island Trek’s drivers Rolly picked us up at 6AM the next day. It took us only two and a half hours to get to Oslob so we really could’ve left at 7AM. When we got there a girl named Elise took care of us. She asked for the rest of the payment (P900 cheaper per person if you’re a local!) and then we sat through an orientation. Don’t touch the whale sharks or wear sunblock because it will disturb the whale sharks!

We then went to the scuba dive guide (P500 less if you have your own gear whether you are a local or a foreigner). His briefing maximum depth 7m because, well, that’s the bottom of the floor. And the big news, you can spend 40-45 mins. with the whale sharks. This is what makes scuba diving worth it. First of all you avoid the hordes of people and secondly you get more than the allotted 30 mins. And there were only two other dive duos and one individual with us plus their dive guides.

After 50 minutes and still half our air left, we went back to shore. We were then shuttled off by Rolly and Elise to Tumalog Falls which is surprisingly worth it (and part of the package tour). Just be ready for a harrowing (helmet-less!) motorcycle ride. (Better than walking!)

Then back to lunch. By the way we also had a free breakfast of mango, sticky rice and hot chocolate before the dive. Lunch was very substantial. Kinilaw (raw vinegared fish), tinapa (smoked fish) chicken (with tomato sauce), soup, vegetables, and rice plus a soda or bottled water of your choice.

We got back to our hotel by 4PM. All in all satisfied with our trip.

Now the moral dilemma. Do the whale sharks look fine? They seem to be… But for the more eco-friendly traveller I would definitely suggest Donsol.

The Henry Hotel — The best boutique hotel in the country so far?

Maya at Crossroads strip mall — The king of Cebuano restaurants (They serve Mexican food.) The jam packed Fat Pho is also in this strip mall.

Canvas at Ayala Center — They have an Australian beef pie floating in gravy topped with green pea mash! Something I was looking for in Australia that I never found.

Taxi tip — Cebu taxi drivers surprisingly switch on their meters as soon as you board the cabs (175 pesos to the airport).

Tabi Po by Mervin Malonzo

will be a watershed comic for the Filipino Komiks scene. The first Filipino full color comic I have ever heard of, Tabi Po combines aswangs, comedy, depth, artistry and what’s even more amazing is it’s free (online). Come to the Summer Komikon this Saturday at the Bayanihan Center in the Unilab Compound in Pasig. Welcome to the Golden Age (of Filipino Komiks!)

Tabi Po is now available at Fully Booked and Powerbooks.

Book Excursion

So we made an excursion back to Maginhawa Street. It seems Bookay-Ukay has moved to new digs. The new one is unfortunately too small. The sheer joy of a used bookstore is that it is big enough to accumulate a lot of eclectic books. But this is just part of Bookay-Ukay’s growing pains, maybe they are just in a process.

The main reason we were going back to Maginhawa Street was to see the book cafe Cool Beans Cafe. Many concept coffee shops fail because that’s all they are, a concept. This one did not disappoint. It had a deep enough selection of books to make it interesting and it’s coffee was great. If you are looking for good Sagada coffee, this coffee house is the real deal. And in ample sizes, too. The most interesting books they had were Marcosian book and classic 80s San Miguel beer books. Sitting down and reading a book for hours is totally encouraged. And sharing a book with other customers is de rigueur. Even their brownies tasted home baked at cheap prices. The place reminded me of Fully Booked and A Different Bookstore in their early days.

The biggest thumbs up I can give it is we want to go back :)

Cool Beans Cafe is located right in front of Holy Family School.

Pictures to follow.

Mt. Pinatubo trek

A staple of the backpacker trail, I finally got to climb Mount Pinatubo twenty-two years after it erupted.

Send a text to Weng Santos 0999 365 5069 for a trustworthy reservation.

Anyway, I got there by driving down the NLEX, connecting to the SCTEX, and got off at the Concepcion exit.  I turned left, drove into the town of Capas, Tarlac and took a hard right after the McDonalds (a great place to catch an early morning snack).

I turned left eventually after that.  There must have been a sign, and drove straight till I reached a satellite station of the Capas tourist office housed in a container van.  Here you can get a ride and a guide to the foot of Pinatubo if you don’t already have a reservation.

A jeeps costs P3000, P500 for a guide, P450 per person for taxes and P50 to park my car.

It took around an hour and a half drive to get to the foot of the volcano and another hour and a half hike to get to the top.  BIG TIP: If your shoes are kind of old, bring an extra pair of footwear, even if it’s just slippers.  A few old pairs of shoes in the group I hiked with didn’t make it back in one piece.

There’s really nothing to do there once you get to top.  Just hang out for awhile, snap a few pics, and head back down.

But the feeling of achievement is pretty awesome.

By the way, last trip leaves at 10am and starts at 5am because it could rain in the afternoon, causing flash floods.

One last question, should you ride the open-air jeep or the closed Land Rovers.  It’s up to you, the view was great in the morning from the open-air jeep but would probably be too hot on the way back.  We had to ride the closed Rover because we didn’t get a choice.  Happy tramping!