Showing posts with label San Juan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Juan. Show all posts

Friday, February 03, 2012

Lakbay Norte 3: Trekking in La Union & airsoft in Baguio City

Beachfront at the Kahuna Beach Resort
For Day 5, Lakbay Norte 3 visited La Union and Baguio. I almost forgot that San Juan, La Union had a high-end hotel for surfers and those who simply want to relax. We spent the night at the Kahuna Beach Resort. And I really enjoyed the facilities. Plus their surfing trainers come from Luke Landrigan's San Juan Surf Camp. So you get the best of both worlds.

Smoked Salmon Pizza at Thunderbird Poro Point
We actually arrived in La Union the night before, straight from Batac, Ilocos Norte. We first had dinner at the Thunderbird Resort Poro Point in San Fernando hosted by Department of Tourism Regional Director Martin Valera.

Surfers in San Juan, La Union
The group then proceeded to Kahuna Beach Resort to check-in and spend the night. Too bad we had to leave early the next day since the place was really cozy. After breakfast in Kahuna, the group drove to Bacnotan to visit the Holcim Plant to explore its ecotrail and plant trees in the property. Lunch was at the La Union Provincial Capitol before proceeding to Baguio City.

Victory Liner Terminal and Microtel Baguio
Calamares and Chips at Microtel Baguio's Te Quiero Tapas Bar
In Baguio City, we made a brief stop at the Victory Liner Bus Terminal where Microtel Baguio is located to try out Microtel's newest restaurant, the Te Quiero Tapas Bar.

Airsoft at the grounds of the Baguio Country Club
From there, the group went to the Baguio Country Club for an afternoon of airsoft.

The Manor at Camp John Hay
We spent the night at The Manor at Camp John Hay, another of our favorite hotels during Lakbay Norte 3. Dinner and breakfast the next day was superb!

Check out the video of Day 5 edited by Carlo Cruise. Also check out the photos of Lakbay Norte 3 in the Ivan About Town Facebook page.

Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa
National Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo
San Juan, La Union
Tel. No. +63 (72) 6071040 / Fax +63 (72) 6071017

The Manor at Camp John Hay
Loakan Road, Baguio City
Tel. Nos. +63 (74) 4240931 to 43 / +63 (74) 4240945 to 47 / Hotline +63 (2) 5844911 / 5844892 / Fax +63 (74) 4240960

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Metro Manila: Mexican and TexMex favorites at Burritos & Tacos (B&T) Mexican Kitchen, Ortigas

Those posts about Mexico got me craving for Mexican food. Unfortunately, most Mexican restaurants in the Philippines are not actually Mexican. They serve TexMex (which comes from Texan and Mexican) cuisine which basically evolved from the use of ingredients available in the United States to create dishes with a strong Mexican influence.

TexMex is characterized by melted cheese (most Mexican tacos do not have cheese) and beans. Texas-style chili con carne, fajitas, chimichangas (deep-fried burritos), hard-shell tacos with ground beef, or serving tortilla chips with salsa as an appetizer are actually TexMex creations. A burrito in the US would have pinto (black beans), Mexican style rice, guacamole, salsas, cheese, and sour cream. But in Mexico, the burrito or tacos de harina would usually just have meat and one or two other ingredients.

Anyway, I remembered Burritos & Tacos (B&T) along Ortigas in North Greenhills (a high school classmate brought me here right after I arrived from Mexico). And since I was in the area this afternoon, I dropped by for some Mexican tacos. They serve a mix of Mexican and TexMex dishes.

Basically, you get to choose your dish: Burrito, Frito Burrito, Burrito Bowl, Mexican Salad, Mexican Taco, Taco, Quesadilla, Guaca de Frito, Chimichanga, Tostada, Taquitos or Flautas. The price of your meal will depend on the meat you choose: Beef (Php350) Carne Asada, Barbacoa or Chili con Carne; Pork (Php340) Chorizo, Alpastor or Carnitas; Chicken (Php330) Jalapeno or Chipotle; Ox (Php360) Lengua Salsa Verde, Tripas or Cabeza; Fish (Php330); Shrimp (Php350); or Vegetarian (Php310).

The Mexican Tacos don't come with cheese while the TexMex Tacos do. You have a choice of corn or flour tortillas, corn usually for Mexican while flour for the TexMex Tacos.

B&T Mexican Kitchen
Sekai Building, Ortigas Avenue cor. Madison Street
(0917) 8126218 / (02) 9751850

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

La Union: Surfing lessons with the Billabong Surf School in San Juan

San Juan, La Union has become very popular because of surfing. And one of the better places to learn is the Billabong Surf School of the San Juan Surf Resort, popularly called the Surf Camp.

Right after a great morning in Ilocos Norte, we went straight to La Union for surfing lessons. And training the group was Luke Landrigan himself, Asian Beach Games silver medalist and owner of the Billabong Surf School, together with his pool of local surfers.

It's obvious the group had a lot of fun! Lessons at Surf Camp are Php400 per hour, inclusive of board rental. You can call them up also for accommodation. Aircon rooms start at Php1,260. Fan rooms are start at Php650.

La Union Surf Resort (Surf Camp)
Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
+63 72 7200340

Monday, November 09, 2009

La Union: Surf, yoga and samba in La Union!

Mark your calendars for a a weekend retreat of the senses! The San Juan Surf Resort in La Union will host the FLOW Surf.Yoga.Samba Weekend Retreat from November 28 to 30, 2009.

It's your chance to learn Vinyasa yoga, commune with nature, ride quality waves, dance to the beat of the drums and nourish yourself with healthy wholesome food. It's about time you take a breather from your everyday lives and create a space where you can feel the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

For Php6,500 per person, you will get two Vinyasa yoga sessions by Monica Eleazar-Manzano, two surfing lessons with Luke Landrigan of The Billabong Surf School, and two samba lessons and jamming with Escola de Samba Manila. That also includes round-trip transportation from Manila to La Union, aircon accommodation at San Juan Surf Resort (3D 2N), vegetarian meals (with chicken and fish options) and many more freebies.

To register, visit their website at or email them at

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Batangas: Visita iglesia to Batangas churches

Batangas is a great place for visita iglesia and a heritage tour. I had the chance to visit many of the churches of Batangas when I drove from Calatagan, Batangas to Quezon Province.

My starting point was the Cabo de Punta Santiago lighthouse in Calatagan which unfortunately, according to heritage advocates in Calatagan, lost a lot of its antique wood and bronze details while under the care of a local political family. I wonder if the items are now in their house. The facade has also been plastered with cement.

The Philippine Coast Guard suspended its Adopt a Lighthouse Program because of the Calatagan incident since it realized that it made a mistake in the program policy by disregarding the heritage conservation aspect. Anyway, I'll update everyone on the developments. The Philippine Coast Guard is evaluating the situation.

The first heritage church after Calatagan is the Balayan Church, a National Cultural Treasure. Although many other Batangas churches have better interiors, I think the NCCA has reasons for selecting this church. According to the NCCA, "It must be noted that by the 19th century, the seculars were already largely indio priests, hence, Balayan is one of a few examples of churches built under direction of the indio clergy. The interior has not changed much since the 1870s when a print showing the church interior was made, despite several superficial additions."

This church also figured in the national spotlight when a McDonald's was built on its grounds some time in 2002, thus covering the view of part of the convent. It sparked a lot of protests from the heritage community and concerned townsfolk. But there's no stopping Roman Catholic Church, Inc.

Balayan town itself has a lot of wonderful ancestral houses. I wonder why the National Historical Institute has not declared the town or at least its houses. It would have been nice if I had more time to appreciate the town, but I had to rush.

Calaca Church, in the next town, is also worth a visit. Plus it also has a number of noteworthy bahay na bato or old stone houses.

Nothing much left in Lemery. But its neighbor, the heritage town of Taal, a National Historical Landmark, is a treasure trove of heritage. Check out the Taal Basilica, also a National Historical Landmark, and the Caysasay Church. Don't forget to visit the ruins of Sta. Lucia, an older church where a well, said to have miraculous waters, could be found.

Taal actually has a good number of declared structures including the Leon Apacible Historical Landmark and Marcela Agoncillo Historical Landmark. If you do have time, make sure you explore the town to see its many ancestral houses. The town is also known for its barong cloth embroidery, especially the pina cloth. When I visit Taal, I always buy barong cloth.

Along the National Highway, you'll pass by the many balisong knife shops which Batangas is very famous for. And keep your eye open for the Taal longganisa stalls as well. I remember seeing them at the junction to Sta. Teresita town.

After Taal, there's San Jose Church, Ibaan Church and the Batangas Basilica. I got to pass by the San Jose Church which was on the way, as well as the Ibaan Church. But I skipped the Batangas Basilica to avoid traffic since I was rushing to Quezon.

At the end of the road, before you reach the towns of Quezon, is the San Juan Church. Just like in Balayan and Taal, the old houses in San Juan are also superb, many built during the early American colonial period when Art Deco was in fashion.

But San Juan is out of the way if you plan to go back to Manila. So unless you have a lot of time to spare, you might have to skip San Juan and visit the Lipa Cathedral and Carmel Church in Lipa instead. But if you are on the way to Quezon, it's definitely a must stop. The churches of Quezon is another story.

Related entries
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia and more Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Batangas: Weekend at La Luz in San Juan, Batangas

For some reason, I get around even though I have no plans to do so. This weekend was no exception since I was still asleep when I got a call from my cousins asking me to join them in San Juan, Batangas that same day. Still groggy, I said I'll try. But after another call and some persuading, I found myself driving down south to the beach.

We were going to stay at La Luz Resort for the night. I've heard about this place from friends and I guess this was an opportunity to check it out.

To get to San Juan, Batangas, people usually take the STAR Tollway via Lipa City, and thus have to deal with the traffic build-up there. But since the tollway now goes all the way to Batangas City, to avoid the traffic, you can take Exit 93 (Malainin) which is 9 kilometers after the Tambo (Lipa) exit and pass the towns of Ibaan and Rosario to get to San Juan. I tried it on the way there and true enough, it was faster. Rosario and San Juan are really large towns so it's still a long drive.

A lesser known fact about San Juan, Batangas is that it is a heritage town with a lot of grand ancestral homes. Most of them are not along the highway so if you want to check them out, you'll have to drive around town.

From the town proper of San Juan, you make a right at the municipal hall to get to the beaches. But the resorts are still about 20 kilometers down the road. And La Luz is the last resort! I liked the relaxed feel of the place, simple decor but really cozy. As soon as I got there, we rented out some kayaks which got us really worked out. We spent PHP200 per hour per kayak.

Buffet meals are also included in the cost (each overnight guest is required to pay PHP950 for the food) which includes lunch when you arrive, merienda, dinner and breakfast the next day. Meals are nothing fancy but are great for those with big appetites. We got two rooms, one of them a two-floor premier loft which could fit in up to ten people for PHP4,300. Before sleeping, I also got myself a massage, perfect after a stressful week.

The next day, we rented kayaks again and went snorkeling. I got to see a good number of fish in the coral reefs near the shore. We didn't stay too long since we had to be out by 11 a.m. Lunch was along the SLEX and were back in Manila late in the afternoon.

La Luz Beach Resort
San Juan, Batangas
Manila: (02) 7264977, (02) 7266687 or (02) 7267445 fax
San Juan, Batangas: (043) 5753581
Mobile: (0927) 9938417, (0927) 2399180

Monday, October 22, 2007

La Union: Surf's up in San Juan, La Union

I just came back from a great weekend in La Union. I trooped to the San Juan Surf Resort with my brods and other surfer wannabes on Travel Factor's Surfvivor Surfing Tour. We left McDonald's El Pueblo at 12:30 a.m. on three vans loaded with surfing beginners. It was a coincidence that my China-ASEAN batchmate Carly and her friends were also going.

I was so tired and sleepy, I slept all the way. The only thing I remember was the 4 a.m. breakfast stopover in Jollibee Urdaneta. We arrived in San Juan a little before 7 a.m. As soon as we got the keys to our room, we slept.

Tikoy, the organizer, woke us up at about 9:30 a.m. to ask who wanted to join the first group. It may seem short, but the one hour lessons are exhausting. Some of us joined the first group while I took photos. I went for the second group later in the afternoon at 3 p.m.

Training us was Luke Landrigan and his pool of locals who gave us one-on-one lessons. I was elated since I managed to stand up on the board this time around! We decided we wanted more so we scheduled another hour the next morning.

Dinner was at Midway Grill in San Fernando, LU. It was value for money! Burgers and fries were priced at PHP39, while bottomless iced tea at PHP29. For dessert, I got the oreo brownie split for P120. Yummy! If you're on your way to Ilocos, this is a great stopover for lunch of snacks.

Later in the evening, we had drinks in the bar area of the resort with our friends. We got to sleep at 3 a.m. which is a wonder how we managed to wake up in time for the optional morning surfing lessons. After check out, we had lunch in Midway Grill again. Check out the Travel Factor and San Juan Surf Resort websites for more information.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Batangas, Laguna & Quezon: Yet another serving of BLT

I'm not talking about bacon, lettuce and tomato. If you've heard about that bus company with the acronym BLTB Co. and know what it stands for, then you know where I was this time around. Hehe! Yup, it was another round of Batangas, Laguna and Quezon Province (Tayabas). The main destination was another heritage town which I've been wanting to visit since my trip to Sariaya, Quezon last year.

It was just a few kilometers away, separated only by the town of Candelaria. Had I known during last year's Pahiyas trip what was waiting to be seen there, we would have stopped by. That town is San Juan, Batangas, another community that prospered early in the 20th Century as a result of the coconut boom. It is more known for its popular beach resorts such as La Luz. But few people realize that just like Sariaya, the town is littered with elegant pre-WWII mansions.

We left Manila after rush hour for what was to be a quick leisurely drive to Batangas. We were quite surprised we were in Sto. Tomas, Batangas in no time, which is the entry point of the STAR Tollway to Lipa City. I hope they make more of these roads in the provinces since passing by town poblacions is just too frustrating no thanks to the tricycles.

Before proceeding to San Juan, we decided to make a stopover at the San Sebastian Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Lipa. The Romanesque church was completed in 1865 but just like much, if not most of our architectural heritage, it was devastated during the war with the current cathedral a result of massive reconstruction and restoration. What attracted me to the cathedral were photos of its wall and ceiling murals. But upon entering, I was quite disappointed.

At the back were paintings of the twelve apostles. But the images and poses were so Hollywood, most probably taken from Franco Zeffirelli's 1977 movie Jesus of Nazareth! Talk about taste in a heritage church! The rest of the murals were ok and thankfully not as bad as those at the back. I guess Betis, Pampanga still tops the list for the best church murals, living up to its moniker of Sistine Chapel of the Philippines.

With that done, it was off to San Juan. We arrived just in time for lunch. So after a short familiarization drive around, we looked for a place to eat. And since the summer heat was getting to be unbearable, we looked for the first air-conditioned restaurant we could find. I think the place we ate at was the only one in the poblacion... hehehe!

After lunch, it was time for photos. My Canon camera is still under repair (they recalled certain models due to manufacturing defects), so I'm relying on Karlo de Leon's photos for this entry. If documenting heritage were a crime, then I guess partners in crime would be an apt description since we're both heritage addicts. Hehe!

The houses are scattered around the town. But it was obvious that the San Juan mark was fast disappearing due to modernization, possibly evolving into another nondescript Filipino town. Unlike Sariaya which has its town character quite intact, modern structures sprout like mushrooms in between heritage houses, obviously out of place. If San Juan is indeed serious in maximizing its heritage potential, it should enact a local ordinance that would regulate the scale and facades of new structures, similar to what we've done in the City of San Fernando. If we only had that much heritage in San Fernando intact! But we lost a lot in the Philippine-American War, WWII and the floods that hit Pampanga after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. In fact, the chalets in our American quarter are half-buried after the roads were raised by at least a meter.

We didn't want to go back via Lipa since traffic management there was bad. So we decided to go home via Tiaong and San Pablo City, Laguna. And since we were in the City of Seven Lakes, we decided to check out some of them.

Of course, the most prominent of the lakes is Sampalok. At 104 hectares, it is the biggest of the seven lakes and located in the city proper. It was the first lake we visited. The view of Mount Banahaw as a backdrop to the lake was just awesome. But we were in the mood for adventure so we asked around how to get to the others. Since we didn't have time to visit all, we asked for the best one, regardless of distance. And according to those we asked, it was Calibato Lake in Barangay Sto. Angel, which was at the boundary with the town of Rizal, Laguna.

On the way they, we passed by Palakpakin Lake in Barangay San Buenaventura. It has an area of 43 hectares, and looks similar to Sampalok. This time, there were lesser signs of progress and thus, a better view of Banahaw. We took shots from a bridge and moved on to our final destination, Calibato.

It was difficult looking for Calibato since it was not along the road and you had to hike a bit to get there. After asking around, we finally found the point from where to start the hike down to the 42-hectare crater lake. We didn't know what to expect or how far the lake was from where we parked. Just looking at the downward steps made us imagine the effort it would entail to get back up. Pant! Pant! Hehe! But as we neared the lake, the narrow canyon carved by the small stream increased the level of excitement. I hope we are able to preserve what is left of nature here in the county.

The effort was most worth it as we were rewarded with a spectacular view surrounded by the charm of a traditional fishing community. What a way to cap another day of pleasant surprises.

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