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Giving ‘mobile diner’ a Pinoy twist

Zest Magazine checks out Red Bus Mobile Diner in Tagaytay.

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Food trucks aren’t – as of now – THAT common in the Philippines. Yes, we get the occasional trucks/vans turned into food outlets (the inside of the van turned into a kitchen or something), e.g. there were some right across De La Salle University in Taft Ave. in the City of Manila a few years back, until they were “kicked out”, thanks to the urging of local businesses that were threatened by them. Not surprisingly, these food trucks aren’t exactly second nature to us as, say, those in Roosevelt Street in New York, or the streets around Central Park or Hyde Park; or in the streets of LA.






Having said this, ONE food truck that managed to somehow survive can be found in Tagaytay; though this one isn’t a food truck per se, but more of a diner that makes use of the food truck concept to make a mark (i.e. the truck was converted into a mini-kitchen; but the same truck is no longer functional). And so welcome to… Red Bus Mobile Diner.

WHAT’S THERE

To start, and as was already noted, this one isn’t “mobile” – that it, the “food truck” doesn’t move from one place to another to sell the goods. Instead, whatever vehicle that’s there is only for show (even if it is also where the grilling happens).

The “truck” is also NOT a truck (per se) – it’s more like a van.

Behind the vehicle is a “shed” that houses the wooden tables/benches for the diners. And these are “swamped” by knick-knacks on the walls – from old road signs to an antiquated jukebox to an old telephone to… a poster of Audrey Hepburn. Stuffs – I suppose – for the diners to check (a la museum) while waiting for the meal/s to arrive.

Menu-wise, there’s not much here; just burgers and some Mexican fares. And yes, some lemonades plus local beers as pantulak (chase down the food).

WHY GO THERE

The easy answer to “Why should I visit the place?” is “NOVELTY”. As was also earlier said, there isn’t that many “food trucks” in the Philippines. And at least in my experience (while living in New York), some of the best foods that can be had are from these food trucks. So any – I say ANY – attempt to be one of those good food sources is worth checking out.

But novelty can also go so far. And here, it is good that Red Bus actually has some good offerings.

Tried during the visit were:

  • V8 Burrito (P280 for beef; P275 for chicken). It has Mexican rice, grilled meat, veggies, and the company’s “18 ingredient salsa”. This one’s not bad; but it isn’t great either. Because instead of tasting the meat, the taste bud is – instead – overwhelmed by the Mexican rice. I assumed that this was because the intention is to make this a meal by itself (knowing how there are Pinoys who can be stingy and who may complain that the servings here are too small and aren’t very filling); but having savored real Mexican burritos that can be finished after just two or three bites, the stuffing of this one didn’t live reach that level of “YUM!”…
  • Red Hood Bacon Burger (P200). With Angus beef patty topped with grilled bacon, and then stuffed with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. When the waiter and the waitress to serve us recommended this, they names a so-and-so TV personality who claimed to have liked this after taking a small bite after it was given her for free. Obviously, I was apprehensive – it’s like believing Kris Aquino “promoting” Huma Island in Palawan, after the management also said that she stayed there with her entourage for free (!). Fortunately for Red Bus, this burger is yummy, with a nicely grilled patty, soft-with-crunchy-parts bacon, and fresh veggies.
  • Wasabi Burger (P190). Almost same as the above, but sans the bacon and with the wasabi. In idea, this should have worked (heck, “wasabi ice cream” even works!). The problem for me (and my companions who also tried it) is that instead of the wasabi adding to the flavor, it overpowered the entire burger. Now… if they can find a way to turn this into something that will titillate the palate, instead of overpower it, this could be really good. NOTE: Better eaten with ketchup that somehow neutralized the wasabi)…

Other offerings include quesadillas (P150), fajitas (P260), nachos (P140), Triple Cheez Pwiz (P210), El Mejicombi Salsa Burger (P200) and Simple Jack Burger (P180).

As is the case when wanting to best enjoy grilled stuffs, these offerings are great with beer (P60 per can here)…




WHY AVOID THE PLACE

That the burgers are somewhat… expensive is apparent; so for those with limited budget, this place isn’t a must-visit.

And then there are the “limits” – e.g. there’s no service water, so if you find that wasabi in the burger too spicy to your liking, better order the P50 lemonade or P140 milkshake beforehand. The ketchup used is also of low quality (you can always tell that the ketchup’s cheap because of that fake, plastic-like taste). Considering that the burgers are already somewhat expensive, you’d think the owner wouldn’t mind coughing up extra (and minimal) cash to give clients water to drink for free, and serve better ketchup…

Tagaytay is also NOT always accessible to everyone, particularly those without private vehicle/s. As such, visiting just for a burger may not be everyone’s idea of “fun”…

IN THE END…

All in all, though, the Red Bus experience wasn’t all that bad at all – I’d say it was even fun being there (after braving the rollercoaster-like streets of Tagaytay). So I’d say…

If in the area, try to check it out.
If with budget (particularly if you’re the one paying the tab for all your friends), check it out.
If keen to taste some QUITE good burgers (and stay away from fastfood joints), check it out.

But if you have doubts, there are others you can also check (e.g. Mac Daddy’s in Lucban) until you’re all ready to take a ride in the not-that-mobile diner called… Red Bus.

Red Bus Mobile Diner is located in Tagaytay.




Believing that knowing on its own is not good enough, "you have to share what you know, too", Mikee dela Cruz gladly shares through his writing. A (BA) Communication Studies graduate, he had stints with UNAIDS, UNICEF and Ford Foundation, among others, writing "just about everything". Read on as he does some sharing through Zest Magazine.

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Destinations

Greenfield District in Mandaluyong kicks off its holiday celebration

To mark the beginning of the district-wide yuletide merry-making, the event kicked off recently with the traditional lighting of the 60-foot Christmas tree at the Greenfield District Central Park,. followed by a magical display of fireworks and Christmas caroling by a 20-piece chorale , setting the mood for guests to get into the holiday spirit.

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Greenfield District, the smart and connected urban center of Greenfield Development Corporation (GDC) in Mandaluyong City, transformed into a holiday wonderland with the launch of GDC’s annual Christmas festivities called “A Christmas for Generations”. 

To mark the beginning of the district-wide yuletide merry-making, the event kicked off recently with the traditional lighting of the 60-foot Christmas tree at the Greenfield District Central Park,.  followed by a magical display of fireworks and Christmas caroling by a 20-piece chorale , setting the mood for guests to get into the holiday spirit.

“After two years of not having face-to-face yuletide celebrations, Filipinos are surely excited to once again gather with their loved ones to celebrate the country’s festive Christmas season,” said GDC President and Chairman Jeffrey D.Y. Campos.  “Greenfield District is a venue where different generations, from senior citizen grandparents to Gen Z kids, can bond with each other by taking part in the fun holiday activities of the District,” he added.

Ongoing  until December 25, Filipinos of all ages are in for a lot of holiday fun at the District. On December 17, families, especially kids are invited to come and meet  Santa Claus at Greenfield District’s “A Night with Santa” , which will feature merry activities and gift giving.

Meanwhile, adults can start their holiday shopping early as the Greenfield District Central Park will showcase weekend bazaars starting this month until December. Shoppers can look forward to discovering value for money gift ideas, trendy fashion pieces, delicious treats and more. While shopping, visitors can also enjoy a quick food trip and engage in Arts and Crafts activities while immersing at the bazaars dressed in colorful Christmas decorations. 

With a mission to build future-ready and sustainable communities for generations of Filipinos, GDC upholds its tradition of organizing events that promote the value of togetherness and spending quality time with the family.

“At GDC, we are committed to not only building properties for generations but also creating verdant, spacious neighborhoods where Filipino families can create beautiful memories together throughout the years. Christmas is a special occasion for many Filipinos, and we want Greenfield District to be part of their memorable Christmas experience every year,” said GDC Executive Vice President and General Manager Atty. Duane A.X. Santos. 

Located at the corner of EDSA and Shaw Boulevard, Greenfield District is accessible to the public through various routes and roadways from the main business districts of Metro Manila, making it an ideal destination for recreational activities, get-togethers, and shopping this yuletide season.

Visit the Greenfield District with friends and family this holiday season.  To know more about the activities at Greenfield District, visit https://www.facebook.com/greenfielddistrict.

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Destinations

All Nippon Airways launches ‘Beyond #MissingJapan’ campaign

On 11 October of this year, border restrictions were eased, allowing foreign new arrivals including business travelers, students, and technical trainees to finally enter Japan.

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Prior to the pandemic, the Japan Tourism Agency reported the number of foreign visitors traveling to Japan in 2019 hit an all-time high of 31.9 million, 600k of whom were travelers from the Philippines. In 2020, the number dropped drastically to around 4.12 million due to the stringent travel restrictions throughout the pandemic, making Japan one of the world’s most difficult countries to enter.

On 11 October of this year, border restrictions were eased, allowing foreign new arrivals including business travelers, students, and technical trainees to finally enter Japan. With news of Japan’s plans to reopen the country to international travelers, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest 5-star airline are launching “Beyond #MissingJapan” together.

The campaign was inspired by both social media posts of people yearning to travel to Japan and a strong sense of eagerness amongst ANA’s flight crew to welcome visitors back. And Filipinos are eager to visit the Land of the Rising Sun. According to a 2022 Statista survey, Filipinos chose Japan as their top holiday destination. Countries in the EU and US got the 2nd and 3rd choice, respectively.

‘Beyond #MissingJapan’ aims to excite  travelers for their next trip, give them head start on planning, and an insider’s perspective on the island country. The campaign features Paolo from Tokyo, a famous Filipino YouTuber based in Japan, who shares the best that Japan has to offer to both first-time visitors and seasoned travelers alike.

Paolo’s travels take us to Greater Tokyo and the hidden gems in the areas around the country’s capital. He rediscovers popular landmarks like Asakusa, shopping mecca Don Quijote, and the iconic Tokyo Station to name a few. Paolo also ventures into “New Tokyo” where lesser-known attractions such as Tokorozawa Sakura Town, Sanagi Shinjuku, and GOTEMBA PREMIUM OUTLETS® are located, must-visit spots that opened after 2020 and are within a few hours from Tokyo.

Get a real-life glimpse of Paolo’s experience in this 360 video that takes you inside the awe-inspiring pop culture haven Tokorozawa Sakura Town and walks you through the temples of Asakusa and Miyashita Park, a rooftop oasis in the heart of bustling Shibuya. The 360 video also gives you a feel of the festive vibe at Sanagi Shinjuku and the shopping that awaits at the endless aisles in Japan’s biggest discount store, Don Quijote, and the more upscale complex, Coredo Muromachi. Always growing and evolving, Tokyo still has so much more to offer

Mr. Isao Ono, Vice President of Marketing & Sales, Asia & Oceania from ANA said: “I believe our ‘Beyond #MissingJapan’ campaign will give those who have missed Japan an opportunity to rediscover the country through a series of videos featuring Asia’s most well-loved personalities as well as a 360° first-person perspective of landing in Japan. At ANA, we are committed to providing passengers with the best service in a safe and clean environment. We look forward to welcoming more travelers to Japan soon.”

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Destinations

Travel with your furry friends with Airbnb this festive season

Around the world, Airbnb Hosts have welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests and their beloved pets. As the pandemic pet boom continues and travel resumes, guests are increasingly looking for domestic stays that allow them to bring their furry friends along, with ample outdoor space for all to roam around.

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This week marks World Animal Day, an international day celebrating all animals and promoting a better future for animals all over the world. As the festive season rapidly approaches, there’s no better time to start planning a getaway for your loved ones – with fur kids in tow.

Around the world, Airbnb Hosts have welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests and their beloved pets. As the pandemic pet boom continues and travel resumes, guests are increasingly looking for domestic stays that allow them to bring their furry friends along, with ample outdoor space for all to roam around.

More than 3 million pets have checked into Airbnb since last November. As of June 2022, pet-friendly stays make up almost one-fifth of all Philippines listings on Airbnb, a 44% increase compared to June 20192. The top ten destinations for pet-friendly travel in the Philippines in Q2 2022 are:

  • Manila, Metro Manila
  • Baguio, Cordillera
  • Patuto, Calabarzon
  • Quezon City, Metro Manila
  • Taguig, Calabarzon
  • Cebu City, Central Visayas
  • Olongapo, Central Luzon
  • Nasugbu, Calabarzon
  • San Fernando, Ilocos
  • Calamba, Calabarzon

Amanpreet Singh Bajaj, Airbnb’s General Manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan said that when it comes to pet-friendly Airbnb stays, owners are seeking stays with additional space for their furry friends, often in locations outside capital cities.

“If you’re an avid pet lover, you’ll know that no holiday is quite complete without taking your family pet along. We have something for even the fussiest four-legged family members, and certainly, homes with spacious yards and deck areas are always among the most popular for guests with pets,” Bajaj added.

In the Philippines, over 15,000 guests have traveled with their pets on Airbnb3. To inspire more fur moms and dads planning to bring their pet friends on their next getaways, here are some amazing pet-friendly listings in the Philippines —  from spacious homes with huge backyards for your pets to roam to stays co-hosted by equally hospitable pooches!

Spacious farms for the zoomies

If you’re itching for a quick weekend away from the 9-to-5 routine, these farm stays that are drivable from Manila can certainly give you and your fur baby that relaxing getaway you both deserved.

  • The Alperi Farm is a newly built private farmhouse in Amadeo sitting on an expansive 2,000 sqm — perfect for non-stop fetch and the occasional zoomies. Offering guests plenty of opportunities to unplug and bond with loved ones (pets included!), the farmhouse comes with entertainment and activity options including a playhouse, bird sanctuary, a gym, and even a theater and arcade room.
  • Another farmstay south of the metro is Campo Canueza, which provides the best of both mountain views and beach access. It has a two-storey air-conditioned bahay kubo, a private pool, and an expansive space where you can freely walk your pets. At night, you can pitch a tent outside and enjoy uninterrupted views of the night sky.

Beachfront homes for the water-loving breeds

While some will just dip a toe, other dogs are born for the water — and will be truly delighted to hit the beach. Head on to these beachfront stays if you and your canine companion are dreaming of sands in your toes and paws.

  • Saya Nest is one of the seven nests hosted by proud fur-mom and Airbnb Host, Tamara. Located in the rainforest of Subic Bay, it lies just a few minutes from the beaches and falls. There is a fenced-in patio so your pets can run off-leash, a bathtub overlooking the forest, an outdoor table and grill, and a hammock by the porch. If you’re lucky, you might even be welcomed by Tamara’s own fur babies!
  • If you and your pet are up for a little island adventure — check out this Beachfront Loft in Palawan. It is located in a 2-hectare beachfront community in Aborlan just south of Puerto Princesa, and sits right by the sandy beach. Go boating with your pet by day and warm up around the bonfire at night while listening to the calming waves.

Breathtaking views for your best bud

Looking for vacation rentals with picturesque views where you can bring your fur babies? Search no further! These homes are not only pet-friendly — they make you want to bask in the scenery and stay for longer.

  • Anto House is a secluded farm nestled in the highlands of Antipolo, offering a 360-degree view overlooking the distant Metro Manila skyline, Angono hills and ridges, and the Laguna de Bay. Featuring two beautiful bamboo casitas that can accommodate up to 14 guests, it’s perfect for family gatherings and even reunions. There are also animals on the property like goats and sheep that both kids and fur kids can interact with.
  • How about calling an entire island your home for the weekend? This rustic, tiny island is right in the middle of Lumot Lake, with astounding views of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges. If your fur bud’s love language is quality time, you can set up a mini obstacle course, go swimming at the lake, or simply just watch the world go by.

1 Based on Airbnb internal data from June 30, 2019 to June 30, 2022

2 Based on Airbnb internal data from June 30, 2019 to June 30, 2022

3 Based on Airbnb internal data from November 11, 2019 to June 30, 2022

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