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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

Airbnb’s Siargao Superhosts will ply you with tips and tricks on how to live like a local

Once an undiscovered hideaway for surfing enthusiasts, Siargao is now a growing tourist destination that has retained its quintessential island charm. The unique community fostered between locals, business owners, and tourists is what makes the Siargao experience so appealing — its one-of-a-kind energy draws guests back time and time again.

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The Philippines is home to more than 7,000 islands and it’s no surprise that some of the world’s most beautiful beach destinations can be found in the archipelago. While Boracay, Palawan and Cebu are well known amongst beach lovers and island hoppers, Siargao has been quietly making a name for itself. This year, Time Magazine hailed the surfing paradise as one of the World’s Greatest Places in 2021, alongside 99 other extraordinary destinations to explore.

Once an undiscovered hideaway for surfing enthusiasts, Siargao is now a growing tourist destination that has retained its quintessential island charm. The unique community fostered between locals, business owners, and tourists is what makes the Siargao experience so appealing — its one-of-a-kind energy draws guests back time and time again.

First-time visitors may be overwhelmed by the wide variety of activities to explore, restaurants to try and breathtaking scenery to capture. But fret not! Siargao is home to amazing Airbnb Hosts who go the extra mile to provide you with tips and tricks on how to live like a local, whether you’re planning to stay for the weekend or for a couple of months.

Tarzan’s Treehouse hosted by Julio and Cyd

Tarzan’s Treehouse is a passion-driven eco-friendly project by Hosts Julio and Clyd. Built mainly with natural materials including wood, bamboo and nipa, the treehouse offers floor-to-ceiling windows providing breathtaking views of the sea and lush palm trees all around. From the cosy hammock to attic bedroom and outdoor patio, guests will truly enjoy exploring every nook and cranny. What’s more, Julio and Clyd have jotted down a list of  their favourite local suggestions including top restaurants, motor bike rentals and airport transfers in a small notebook awaiting you in the treehouse.

Modern Tropical Home hosted by Cecile and Mark

Nestled halfway between General Luna and Cloud 9, this beautiful two-storey  residence hosted by Hosts Cecile and Mark is both comfortable and stylish, and comes furnished with a lounge, fully-equipped kitchen and dining room, and a gallery style loft bedroom with a spacious work desk on the second floor.  Cecile and Mark live just next door, and are quick to attend to any guest requests and provide you with freshly picked coconuts daily. On top of it all, the stay comes with two of the friendliest dogs  — Mowgli and Baloo — who can accompany you on long walks along the beach!

Native Beachfront Cabana hosted by Grace

Surrounded by palm trees and beautiful scenery, this rustic cabana is the perfect spot for family get-togethers. Enjoy private access to a secluded beach away from the hustle and bustle of Siargao, and gorgeous sea views at dawn and dusk. Host Grace and her family cook delicious local meals for their guests too, leaving you with a unique experience you’ll never forget.

Triangle Palms Native Villa hosted by Edward

Designed to resemble a traditional Filipino home, Triangle Palms’ villas will provide guests with a memorable experience filled with lush greens and birds chirping, and leave the place feeling rejuvenated. Host Edward will also provide you with a list of the best restaurants and attractions around the island, and arrange personalized island tours for a truly unforgettable island experience!

Mao Mao Surf hosted by Marco & Chara

Mao Mao Surf’s eco-friendly jungle huts come equipped with modern tropical interiors and surfboards for beach-loving guests. Situated just five minutes away from popular surf spots and restaurants but still far enough from the noise, guests can enjoy a cozy bonfire under the stars. Hosts Marco and Chara will serve up delicious breakfast every morning, and hook you up with awesome surf trainers for some serious wave lessons!

Airbnb hosts like Julio and Cyd, Cecil and Mark, Grace, Edward and Marco and Chara are sharing their places, stories and love for Siargao with the world through hosting. These Siargao Hosts, together with Airbnb’s community of passionate Hosts, are dedicated to creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.

These Hosts have also all committed to Airbnb’s 5-step Enhanced Clean process, a set of standards developed in partnership with experts to ensure safety and peace of mind for guests.

For anyone interested in hosting with Airbnb and opening their homes to the world, Airbnb’s new platform upgrades have made it easier for anyone who wants to host. To explore more about hosting with Airbnb, get started at http://www.airbnb.com/host.

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Travel

The perfect road trip seating plan based on zodiac signs

These personality types can be most apparent when many individuals with different star signs are placed in a small space together for a length of time, like a road trip.

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Photo by Matthew Henry from Unsplash.com

If you are heading on a road trip this summer, have a Virgo behind the wheel, a Libra in charge of music and make sure there isn’t an Aries in sight.

Experts at LeaseElectricCar are offering advice on how to use astrology to navigate a road trip car seating plan to ensure the smoothest journey for all.

There are 12 zodiac signs in astrology which are divided into the 12 months of the year. Each star sign belongs to one of four elements: fire, earth, water, and air. According to astrologers, each element reflects a quality of human nature and contributes to our personality make up.

These personality types can be most apparent when many individuals with different star signs are placed in a small space together for a length of time, like a road trip. 

Driving and star signs are linked through the origins of astrology. The planet Mercury, which rules Virgo and Gemini, is named after the Greek God of communication and swiftness. 

This Greek connection has been linked by astrologers to a heightened ability to navigate by those with a Virgo or Gemini placement.

Experts at LeaseElectricCar said “Everyone enjoys a road trip, whether that is exploring new places, travelling with friends or a family get together but there is nothing worse than an incompatible group all sitting in the same car together for hours. 

“To prevent personality clashes, backseat driving and unhappy passengers, we have figured out the best seating plan for a smooth journey based on the zodiac signs.”

This is LeaseElectricCar’s seating plan for the smoothest road trip based on Zodiac signs alone. 

Driver’s seat: Virgo

Ruled by mercury and attributed to being one of the most grounded signs with a practical and systematic approach to life, it can only be right that Virgo’s are given the front spot. This earth sign will thrive in the responsibility of getting the group to the destination by following the safest and most logical route.

Virgo’s are perfectionists and are led strongly by their compulsive need to follow all rules. Their low tolerance for rule breaking makes them the perfect candidate for back seat driver which could ultimately end in conflict when pointing out the mistakes of other signs.

Avoid having an Aries in the driving seat.The ruling planet of Aries is Mars, the god of war, which is very telling when it comes to many of the signs’ attributes. Although gifted with undeniable confidence and the ability to attack a long road trip with the utmost energy, Aries can be hot-headed and impulsive which may end in never-ending road rage.

Passenger’s seat: Libra

There is one important job for the zodiac in the passenger seat…music! When it comes to deciding who gets DJ duty on the road trip, pick a Libra.

Libras are arguably one of the most generous signs and they avoid conflict at all costs, meaning they will often go out of their way to appease the needs of the group surrounding them. Knowing Libra’s, they will have pre-planned the road trip playlist ahead of time and made sure to include favourites from everyone in the car just to please them all! They will feel a great sense of pride in keeping everyone happy. 

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Middle row: Cancer, Taurus and Pisces.

Best friend placements water sign Cancer and earth sign Taurus are being assigned middle row spots in this car plan. Astrologers often encourage friendships between these two signs due to their perfect balance of similarities and differences. Both Cancer and Taurus like to take part in projects rather than lead them, making them the perfect non-conflict driven passengers for sitting behind the driver.

Whilst most compatible with each other, both signs have a friendly nature that allows them to get on with a wide range of signs which will allow them to talk to everyone and make everyone feel included in the car chats. 

Sat next to Taurus and behind the driver should be a Pisces. Compatible with both Cancer and Taurus, this is the perfect sign to complete the middle row. Regarded for being among the most sympathetic of the zodiac’s, Pisces are sure to be understanding and conscious of the driver’s needs whilst also having the perfect time to bond on the car journey with their compatible counterparts Cancer and Taurus. 

Back row: Leo and Sagittarius

On the back row, a fiery, exciting yet compatible duo is required. This is where Leo and Sagittarius come in! Leo and Sagittarius are fire signs and when placed together their energy radiates off the other. Their fiery nature means they might not be most compatible for the middle seat however they will truly thrive away from the driver’s seat and in the back where they can be free of the responsibilities that come with sitting at the front.

Leo’s entertaining nature is sure to impress, with plenty of jokes, anecdotes and stories coming from the back seat to keep the whole car entertained! 

Sagittarians are the most sociable out of the pairing and should therefore be sat behind Cancer. The Sun sign will bring out the often reserved water sign Cancer and will encourage conversation within the middle row to ensure a bonding road trip experience. 

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Destinations

Tips to steer clear of animal-borne diseases this summer

After you’re done with the fun, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, even if you didn’t touch an animal directly. Keep an eye on children to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly.

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It’s state fair season across the country. In addition to the food and games local fairs have to offer, livestock shows and petting zoos are always popular attractions. According to veterinarians, it’s important for people to know that some animal-borne diseases can be transmitted from farm animals to people and pets. Those attending state fairs and petting zoos should be aware of the health risks, and preventive measures you can take to be safe when petting and feeding animals at these and other fun venues.

Dr. Douglas Kratt, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says, “It’s always good to take precautions when you’re in close proximity with animals because they and their environments can transfer germs that can make you or someone in your family ill.”

Examples of zoonotic diseases—those that spread from animals to people–include Salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter, Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, and rabies. Just like with colds and flu, if germs get on your hands and you inadvertently put your hands in your mouth or nose, you could get sick. The most common symptoms one could experience are vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and cramps. And, while most people recover without a visit to the doctor, some may need a doctor’s visit or hospitalization.

Dr. Kratt offers these tips to help you, your family and your four-legged friends stay safe when you’ve been around zoo or farm animals:

  1. Don’t eat or drink near areas that house animals.
  2. Park strollers outside animal barns and pens, so as not to transfer germs to the wheels and take them home with you.
  3. Use hand sanitizer when you can, which should be readily available these days, especially if there’s no soap and hot water accessible.
  4. After you’re done with the fun, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, even if you didn’t touch an animal directly. Keep an eye on children to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly.
  5. While there is little evidence that animals can spread COVID-19 to people, in some situations it can spread from people to animals. People suspected or confirmed positive should avoid contact with pets, livestock, and wildlife.

For more valuable information about pets and pet care visit www.avma.org.

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