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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

Launch your boat into a new season

Whether you’re racing against the waves or quietly floating with a pole in hand, a day on the water is hard to beat. However, before you can enjoy the excitement of a new season, there are several steps you need to take to make sure your boat is ready for the ride.

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Photo by Gunnar Ridderström from Unsplash.com

Whether you’re racing against the waves or quietly floating with a pole in hand, a day on the water is hard to beat. However, before you can enjoy the excitement of a new season, there are several steps you need to take to make sure your boat is ready for the ride.

System Check
Your boat’s fuel and electric systems need an experienced eye to determine potential problems. Cracked or damaged hoses and connections need to be replaced, and all fittings and clamps should be checked to ensure they’re tight and secure. Test exhaust and ventilation systems, and replace worn or lose belts and cables, giving special attention to the steering and throttle cables. If you didn’t change the oil and filter before putting your boat in storage, do so before the season begins. Also be sure to check oil, power steering fluid and coolant levels as well as running lights and emergency features such as horns.

Battery Function
A reliable power source is essential for powering your trolling motor and operating accessories like fish finders when your engine isn’t running. You’ll need to test your battery before heading out on the water. If it’s time for a replacement, look for a powerful and cost-efficient option like Interstate Batteries’ Enhanced Flooded Deep-Cycle Marine Battery. The battery features a durable design with extended battery life and includes a two-year, free replacement warranty.

Visual Inspection
After several months in storage, it’s a good idea to give your boat a thorough inspection so you can identify any holes, cracks or dings that may impact its performance or safety. Scan the hull closely to for any abnormalities and check the propeller, as even minor dings and scratches can affect its operation.

Careful Cleaning
Depending on the security of your storage space and how you covered your boat, you may not have much heavy cleaning to do. However, it’s a good idea to start the season fresh by giving everything a thorough wipe down. This can help illuminate any problems you may have overlooked during your visual inspection. In addition, using UV protectant on exposed surfaces can help prevent damage such as cracks and fading caused by harsh sunlight.

Safety Supplies
Before you hitch the trailer, take inventory of your on-board safety supplies. Be sure your life jackets are in good condition and that you have options to appropriately fit all passengers. Check fire extinguishers to ensure they’re in good working order and test the carbon monoxide detector (or add one if there’s not already a detector installed). Also scan your safety kit; update any expired items and replenish your supply of bandages or other items that may be running low.

Find more information to get your summer on the water underway at interstatebatteries.com.

Finding the Best Battery for Your Boat

No matter how you spend your time on the water, a durable and reliable battery is a must. Learn what kind of battery is best for your boating needs from the experts at Interstate Batteries:

Starting: Whether you’re sailing the ocean or ripping it up in a motorboat, starting batteries are built to withstand most marine conditions.

Deep-Cycle: These batteries are the most popular line of marine batteries and offer strong, reliable power. This type of battery is used to start your trolling motor and power other accessories like fish finders whether your engine is running or not.

Dual-Purpose: Originally developed for military tanks and submarines, this type of battery has the staying power of a deep-cycle battery coupled with high-cranking performance.

Powersport: When you’re trying to catch every wave, the last thing you want is a weak battery. These top-quality batteries are built to withstand the most rugged conditions on the water.

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Destinations

Frequent travel could make you 7% happier

A new study in the journal of Tourism Analysis shows frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.

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Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels.com

People dreaming of travel post-COVID-19 now have some scientific data to support their wanderlust. A new study in the journal of Tourism Analysis shows frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.

Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, an assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, conducted a survey to find out why some individuals travel more frequently than others and whether or not travel and tourism experiences have a prolonged effect on happiness and wellness.

The results of his analysis show individuals who pay more attention to tourism-related information and frequently discuss their travel plans with friends are more likely to go on regular vacations than those who aren’t constantly thinking about their next trip.

Additionally, participants in the survey who reported regularly traveling at least 75 miles away from home also reported being about 7% happier when asked about their overall well-being than those who reported traveling very rarely or not at all.

“While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction,” Chen said. “It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things.”

Previous studies have examined the stress relief, health and wellness benefits of tourism experiences, but they have tended to examine the effect of a single trip or vacation. Chen’s research takes these previous studies one step further by looking at the sustained benefits of travel over the course of a year.

Participants in the study were asked about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent looking into and planning future vacations, and how many trips they went on over a year. They were also asked about their perceived life satisfaction. Out of the 500 survey participants, a little over half reported going on more than four pleasure trips a year. Only 7% of respondents did not take any vacations.

As travel restrictions due to COVID-19 begin to relax in the future, the research could have important implication for both tourists and the tourism industry. Based on the results of the study, Chen said travel companies, resorts and even airlines could launch social media campaigns, such as creating hashtags about the scientific benefits of vacation, to spark people’s interest in discussing their opinions about travel.

“This research shows the more people talk about and plan vacations the more likely they are to take them,” he said. “If you are like me and chomping at the bit to get out of dodge and see someplace new, this research will hopefully be some additional good motivation to start planning your next vacation.”

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Travel

No evidence people alter daily travel after having symptoms that could be COVID-19

“We could not detect any significant change of movement when people should self-quarantine. On the other hand some people almost did not leave home since the beginning of the pandemic, while others move freely around.”

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.com

How can we better understand how people move during the pandemic and how they spread COVID-19? New George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services research is one of the first individual-level studies to explore this question.

Dr. Janusz Wojtusiak led the study published in the Journal of Healthcare Informatics Research. Wojtusiak and colleagues tracked symptoms and movements of 175 volunteer individuals on George Mason University’s campus. They found that there is no evidence that participants altered their movements based on the symptoms they reported.

“We could not detect any significant change of movement when people should self-quarantine. On the other hand some people almost did not leave home since the beginning of the pandemic, while others move freely around,” said Wojtusiak.

Participants used the Mason COVID HealthCheckTM to record symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection and GPS and WiFi data to provide information on how they move during the pandemic. This allows the researchers to model and predict movements during the pandemic and in conjunction with any reported possible COVID-19 symptoms.

“By tracking individual movements and symptoms in our study, our findings could help inform effective public health interventions to reduce COVID-19 infections,” explains Wojtusiak.

In addition, Wojtusiak and colleagues analyzed de-identified Mason COVID HealthCheckTM responses and found that a headache was the most frequently reported symptom, and a headache was always listed as a symptom when any other symptoms were reported. Other commonly reported symptoms were coughs and sore throats.

Movement patterns varied among participants, with some only going out for essential trips while others moved about more. As a group, movement was consistent over the study period, which included a period when Virginia was under a stay-at-home order and when it was not. Participants traveled a total average of 139 miles per week, visiting an average of less than six locations per week. This low average mileage and number of sites visited does suggest that COVID-19-related restrictions affected their movement. However, they also found that even when participants reported symptoms of COVID-19 or contact with others with COVID-19, they did not change their movements as recommended by public health guidance.

George Mason University has a very low COVID-19 infection rate, and during the period none of the study participants reported COVID-19 infection, so researchers weren’t able to link COVID-19 positive tests and movement. Future analysis will include data from the winter of 2020 so may provide more information on movement after COVID-19 infection. The researchers are also conducting surveys and interviews to provide richer data including reasons for complying or not complying with social distancing.

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