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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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Travel

5 Tips to make watersport adventures fun and yet safe

Despite world events over the past year, the watersports lifestyle is thriving – potentially due to the nature of personal watercraft riding and ability to practice social distancing.

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For those who enjoy outdoor and active summer lifestyles, water entertainment may be the way to go. Racing the waves with the wind flowing through your hair can be a fun and exhilarating way to enjoy fresh air; a dip in a cool lake can also help keep the heat at bay on hot summer days.

Despite world events over the past year, the watersports lifestyle is thriving – potentially due to the nature of personal watercraft riding and ability to practice social distancing. In fact, powerboat sales reached record highs, and while that momentum has slowed some in 2021, personal watercraft sales are still surging – up 77% over 2020, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. This growth means there are lots of new riders on the water, and that can affect the safety of riders both experienced and new.

Respecting riding etiquette, wearing protective gear and being conscious of the environment can help ensure riders have fun and continue to enjoy access to watersports. The team at Sea-Doo, a global leader in personal watercrafts, shares this advice to help keep everyone safe while having fun on the water:

Know the rules. 

Rules can vary from one state or location to the next, so be sure you know what the expectations are before you head out on the water. You can find more about licensing requirements and other regulations in your area through the Boat U.S. Foundation.

Dress for success. 

Ensure you have a life jacket or personal flotation device that fits snugly but comfortably. Remember to connect the tether cord from the ignition of your watercraft to your life jacket to cut power to the engine should you end up in the water. Additionally, neoprene shorts can help prevent injuries and give you a comfortable layer between your body and the saddle. Gloves and boots provide protection and improve your grip, and sunglasses can help protect your eyes from the wind and water. It’s also a good idea to keep a windbreaker in a storage compartment in case weather blows in unexpectedly.

Gear up. 

Once you’re dressed for the occasion, you won’t need much other gear, but there are a few items that can help protect you. Always keep an anchor on board, along with a radio to call for help if you have trouble. A water bottle can help ensure you stay well hydrated on the water, where you typically sweat a lot due to the wind and sun.

Play nice. 

On gorgeous, sunny days, you can expect your local lake to be busy. Being respectful of others on the water helps ensure everyone can enjoy their water adventures safely. If you haven’t already, take a watercraft or boat safety course and brush up on the basics. Beyond that, pay attention to signs, especially ones that note restricted areas and no-wake zones, and keep a safe 200-foot distance between yourself and other watercrafts.

Be earth aware. 

Part of being responsible on the water is respecting the environment. You can do your part by committing to green habits like refueling on land and doing maintenance work well away from the shoreline. When you’re riding, getting too close to the shore can tear up your watercraft, but it can also be harmful to the fish and birds that feed on the sediment in the shallows, as well as the vegetation. Be aware noise and movement of boats may disturb bird populations. Stay clear of posted bird nesting areas. Nesting birds may fly from their nests, exposing unprotected eggs and hatchlings to the sun’s heat or predators. Keeping to channels and deeper water also helps protect the wildlife and prevent shoreline erosion.

Find more tips to maximize your fun in the sun and stay safe on your personal watercraft Sea-Doo.com.

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Travel

Innisfree lists green tea farms in Korea’s Jeju island on Airbnb

Picturesque green tea fields on Korea’s tropical, volcanic island of Jeju play center stage in a new partnership between Airbnb and K-beauty mega brand Innisfree, announced today. For one night only, two lucky guests will have the opportunity to experience a restorative, back-to-nature overnight stay on some of the island’s major green tea farms, available on Airbnb for the first time.

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Without a doubt, many Filipinos have a soft spot for anything Korean – pop music, fashion, dramas and movies, food and cosmetics. For many of us, saying “Annyeong” rolls off the tongue as naturally as “Hi” or “Kumusta?” and singing our hearts out to a K-pop song is the norm. The influential K-wave of Korean culture has certainly won over the hearts and minds of many, and this latest attraction brought to you by Airbnb and Innisfree is one you’ll can’t help but pull a finger heart for.

Picturesque green tea fields on Korea’s tropical, volcanic island of Jeju play center stage in a new partnership between Airbnb and K-beauty mega brand Innisfree, announced today. For one night only, two lucky guests will have the opportunity to experience a restorative, back-to-nature overnight stay on some of the island’s major green tea farms, available on Airbnb for the first time.

Green tea native to Jeju plays a major role in Innisfree’s most iconic product range – Green Tea Line – renowned for its healing qualities. As part of this overnight stay, Innisfree is opening the doors to Dolsongyi and Seogwang tea farms, which are the source for its green tea products, and its retail space and cafe, Jejuhouse.

On June 28 at 10:00 AM Korea Standard Time (KST), residents of Korea will be able to book a magical overnight stay on the green tea farm, available here on a first come, first served basis. The stay will take place from August 6 to 7, and can accommodate a maximum of two guests. The booking fee for the stay is approximately US$10  to ensure a smooth booking process on the platform, and the entire amount will be refunded to guests in cash during the stay.

During their stay, guests will enjoy a curated menu of farm-forward experiences including learning about the fine art of tea in a tea ceremony and getting back to nature by picking fresh tea leaves with the skincare company’s leading research and development expert. Local Airbnb Experiences Hosts will guide guests in a rejuvenating outdoor yoga class, a private photoshoot in the middle of the tea fields with a professional photographer and a creative botanical art class

Guests will be served an intimate series of meals especially curated by Jejuhouse’s chef, which incorporate some of the island’s local produce. Guests will stay overnight in an atmospheric camping van overlooking green tea fields; an indoor-outdoor feel will be reinforced by a lounge area set up right outside the camping car, a perfect nook in which to enjoy a peaceful moment gazing at the stars or listening to the sounds of nature after an eventful day.

“We have drawn so much inspiration for our products from Jeju’s extraordinary natural beauty and abundant resources, and are thrilled to partner with Airbnb to bring this very special destination to life for a wide domestic audience,” states Ms. Hyejin Lee, Senior VP of Innisfree Marketing.

“We are delighted to extend Airbnb’s footprint in Jeju – where we have a dedicated and passionate host community – with our partnership with Innisfree,” states Brandon Son, Country Manager of Airbnb Korea. “In these challenging times, people are eager for an opportunity to get back to nature and spend quality time with loved ones. Our partnership with Innisfree is a terrific way to do that.”

Airbnb’s campaign with Innisfree is the latest in a series of initiatives that brings the world’s most iconic, unexpected and unique spaces onto the platform for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for guests. Previous campaigns have taken place at The Louvre museum in Paris and at a glamorous beach house in Malibu styled in the spirit of Barbie.

Interested guests should note that house rules are in strict adherence with Covid-19 guidelines, and those who request a reservation should currently live in Korea to minimize risk. Guests can rest easy knowing that the home will be cleaned in accordance with the Airbnb enhanced cleaning protocol.

For more exciting and one-of-a-kind Online Experiences, search http://www.airbnb.com/experiences. To explore amazing stays in Airbnb, visit https://www.airbnb.com/s/homes.

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Destinations

6 Rising destinations of Palawan

When you ask a tourist or a local why they think the island deserves the title, you are likely to lose count. Palawan is primarily known for the world-class beauty of its beaches and other natural wonders like the Underground River, Bacuit Bay Islands, Baracuda Lake, and Ugong Rock, among others.

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The Philippines prides itself as a tropical country that is blessed with islands many of which are still unspoiled. Indeed, these islands are a source of pride for Filipinos to showcase what the country can offer to the world as a tourist destination.  And perhaps chief among these islands is Palawan, named “The Best Island in the World” countless times.

When you ask a tourist or a local why they think the island deserves the title, you are likely to lose count. Palawan is primarily known for the world-class beauty of its beaches and other natural wonders like the Underground River, Bacuit Bay Islands, Baracuda Lake, and Ugong Rock, among others.

However, Palawan still has numerous unappreciated destinations that are waiting to be discovered. If you have been planning to visit the best island in the world, why not include these emerging gems in your itinerary?

Cagayancillo

Known as the “Mecca of Scuba Divers,” Cagayancillo island is only southwest of Puerto Prinsesa. You will find the famous Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, dubbed as the center of the Coral Triangle. If scuba diving is part of your bucket list, this is the perfect place to check it off, as you will get a chance to scuba dive to see its beautiful reefs.

Port Barton

Port Barton is a quiet fishing village just north of Palawan’s capital and only started to gain tourist attraction because of its similar beauty to El Nido –only without the busy nightlife. If you are looking for the perfect escape from the noise of life, this laidback little town is the ideal island getaway for you.

Brooke’s Point

Do you want to know what Palawan’s countryside looks like? Then Brooke’s Point is the best place to visit! In this town, you will see and experience the beauty of living in the province without all the city lights and stressful technology. You can also check out the beauty of nature since you will find the Ecological Park and AgriWorld Farm here.

Balabac Island

Dubbed as the “Maldives of the Philippines,” not many tourists reach the island since it is one of the most challenging islands to travel to. However, its beauty speaks for itself since people sought their piece of paradise here, and you will get a chance to hike and live in nature like a “castaway” at some of its islets. These sets of islands on the Southern part of Palawan are certainly paradise on Earth. 

Balayong Park

An upcoming and significant infrastructure development in Puerto Prinsesa, The Balayong Park, is expected to host sports-related activities. The park is a part of the city government’s reboot of the tourism-related infrastructure programs as it prepares to “recover in the next two to three years.”

Balayong Park is one of the island’s developments that will help sustain its disrupted tourism industry. Recently, three new ports in El Nido, Bataraza, and Coron also started operations last March, which are expected to significantly enhance the mobility and connectivity of people and goods in the province and facilitate movements to significant trading and tourism centers.

Besides improving the lives of the locals on the island, Palawan’s infrastructure developments will allow tourists to experience all of the island’s beauty. Once the local tourism industry has fully healed, businesses and other sectors like real estate will soon follow its lead.

Diamond Beach Resorts

The sixth emerging gem on the island that you might want to check out is the Diamond Beach Resorts (DBR) of CitiGlobal Realty and Development Inc., which offers affordable and income-generating properties. It is being developed to help Filipinos, especially Overseas Filipino Workers, live the good life on the island.

Located in unspoiled, emerging vacation hotspots in Palawan, DBR is a world-class beachfront development dedicated to breaking the norm that leisure properties are offered only to a privileged few. And that ordinary hardworking Filipinos also deserve a piece of their own paradise.

DBR is only one of CitiGlobal’s real estate developments to revolutionizing the Filipino mindset on leisure properties while giving new investment opportunities for ordinary working-class Filipinos.

Diamond Beach Resorts (DBR) in Palawan of CitiGlobal Realty and Development Inc., (Artist perspective)

To learn more about CitiGlobal, visit its website at https://citiglobal.com.ph/ or send them an email at info@citiglobal.com.ph for inquiries. If you have properties to offer, you may reach them via Viber (0949-889-3252).

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