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Northern (gustatory) pride…

How “original” can an offering be the moment you take them from the very contexts that made them thrive to begin with?

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Every region (if not every town) in the Philippines has their own gustatory offerings that sort of define them – e.g. Bicol Express in, obviously, Bicol; bagnet in Ilocos; guapple pie of Negros; and so on…

This is why – when one is just in Metro Manila – when seeing all those “original such-and-such” offerings of various restos, supposedly with their preparations learned from the regions these offerings originated from, one can only really… frown. Because how “original” can an offering be the moment you take them from the very contexts that made them thrive to begin with?

This is the thought that stays in the mind when thinking of Ilocos’ empanada and okoy, particularly after one has tried those offered in Vigan City’s Nanang Sion.





WHAT’S THERE

There are actually two branches of Nanang Sion (as per the apo or grandchild of Nanang Sion herself) – one is by the plaza/near the church in downtown Vigan City (this is the “main” branch), and another one in one of the streets parallel to Crisologo (that tourist trap portion of the city, where just about every tourist has his/her pic taken). The former is a more “formal” resto; but the latter – if I may say so – has more character, with the apo’s collections of everything old (vintage, if you must).

There are wooden tables, and chairs and benches scattered on two floors, and adding to that “being in an old place” vibe/feel.

But – more apparent – are the owner’s collections of… just about everything, from rebulto (statues of holy people or saints) to scooters to bikes to kalesa (horse carriage) wheels, and so on. And while many are placed on pedestals, there are some that are made to be – literally – parts of the place, e.g. the bicycles that were cemented on the walls.

If it’s “character” you want, then this one’s worth a check, indeed.

WHY GO THERE

But – recognizing that ambiance is but part of the attraction – if there’s one thing that will make you come here, this can be summed in one word: FOOD.

Must try are:

  1. Empanada (super special, P65) – I’ve traveled to various parts of northern Philippines a lot of times, and while there, many always tell me to try the local empanada. But – considering the number of people who recommends empanada – I can’t fathom the fuss about it. In my mind (and from what I tasted) it’s nothing really special, just a combo of longganisa/chorizo with either scraped green papaya or thinly chopped cabbage, plus egg thrown in, and then wrapped in dough before being fried.
    And then I tried Nanang Sion’s empanada, and I now sorta get the hype. I’d say this: if done really well, empanada is really tasty. And this one (so far) has been the tastiest empanada from somewhere north of the Philippines for me.
  2. Okoy (with egg and longganisa, P55) – This one is also a surprise because okoy, as we know it, is nothing but fried: shrimps with veggies (some use carrots or kamote), and then coated in flour. Now be honest, how many times have you eaten okoy and actually complain with that hair-like strands from the shrimp heads? With Nanang Sion, though, the okoy is actually… succulent, with the shrimp juicy and (thanks to the longganisa) tasty.

The servings are big, BTW. So if you end up unable to finish what was given you because you’re too full already, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you…

If hungrier and in search of “real” meals (not merienda or snacks), there are “silogs” – e.g. bagnet (P150) and longganisa (P120), and the “common” corned beef (P90), siomai (P90), hotdog (P90), et cetera.

If it’s just me, though, I’d say stick to the food that has been helping define Ilocos. That way, you avoid getting disappointed…

And so, yes, empanada and okoy are good starts…

WHY AVOID IT

To start, heading to Vigan isn’t in everybody’s list of to-do. And truth be told, even when driving (instead of commuting), going there takes a while. So for those who have… aversion to long trips, then this isn’t for you.

If- I suppose – you’re a local and already have had enough empanada and okoy to last you a lifetime, then…

IN THE END…

But – let me say this – the next time someone mentions “original such-and-such” to you, and you’re having that offering outside its original context, it’s always better to have them where they (first and originally really) made them. That way, you’d be able to tell how “real” or “fake” the offering has become.

And as far as some of the best northern gustatory delights are concerned, I’d say head to Vigan City. And give Nanang Sion a try while there; for less than P100, you’d understand why “eating local” continues to be the best way to appreciate delicacies…

Nanang Sion is at Plaridel St, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Vigan City isn’t THAT big of a place. Ask around NOT just for the location of Nanang Sion, but also where else you can grab what’s good there. I’ve encountered shy Ilocanos who demur when speaking with us outsiders; but almost always, they try as much as they can to help out and lead you where you wanna go or – for that matter – where they think you ought to head to best enjoy being there…



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.

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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