Batanes Beyond Postcard-Perfect Sceneries

Batanes Beyond Postcard-Perfect Sceneries

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | August 20, 2017

Rediscover Batanes Caravan

Seasoned travelers have compared the topography of Batanes to that of New Zealand and Scotland. The northernmost group of islands in the Philippines remains a top-of-mind destination of avid Filipino travelers.

For this reason, the Rediscover Batanes Caravan by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) was a rousing success. Consumers, tour operators and Philtoa officers all took time off from their busy schedules to explore and imbibe the beauty of Batanes; whether it will be for the first time or the nth time. The four day-and-three-night itinerary consisted of a North Batan Island Tour, Sabtang “Island Discovery” and a Batan South Tour.

The marriage of breathtaking landscapes and seascapes remains to be the main reason to visit Batanes. Indeed, time stops when you explore its grandeur. Your inner voice seems to speak louder as nature drowns down the noise of negativity. Just try standing atop Vayang Rolling Hills or Marlboro Hills (a view that seems to be lifted from the pages of National Geographic) and be mesmerized by nature.

Basco Light House on Naidi Hills

Diversity of flora and fauna

One need not be a photographer nor a researcher to appreciate the charms of Batanes—wanting to be as close to nature as possible is good enough reason.

“You have varieties [of flora and fauna]endemic to the place and also a lot of migratory fauna coming into the island of Batanes. Even, for example, the common tree you see in the lowland area—what you see here is actually the dwarfed version of these trees. You don’t really see them growing that high because of the weather condition. In Batanes the wind and the adversity of some weather conditions make the fauna interesting and quite unique,” Philtoa President Cesar Cruz beams with pride.

Getting into the action, our group embarked on an hour-long nature trail walk toward and from the Nakayama burial grounds, a site of archaeological significance. The location is marked by stones forming the shape of a boat with the tip pointing toward the sea.

Cultural immersion

To know a place is to interact (and live) with its people. Caravan participants got a chance to experience living like native inhabitants of Sabtang island when we had a homestay accommodation. This writer, along with several of his group mates, got to stay overnight at the limestone house of Nanay Masing. She is a kind, old lady who will not trade living in her stone house with living abroad. As with this writer’s interaction with other locals, he noticed a healthy sense of Ivatan pride in them, at the same time maintaining a down-to-earth and well-mannered demeanor.

We also witnessed how a bandillo, or “town crier”, spreads the news of an upcoming brownout among the town people. A woman in her 30s would pedal her trusty old bicycle- making frequent stops to read the news out loud on a portable PA system wherever people are gathered.

The practice of pagmamano is alive and well in Batanes. We were told by our tour guide not to be surprised if kids would approach us, ask for our hand and bring it to their forehead while bowing toward us.

Ivatan Cuisine

Eating good food is one of life’s great pleasures. Pension Ivatan, a hotel and restaurant, became one of our food stops to recharge our batteries from the flurry of island activities we have. We ordered the Ivatan Platter, which is a medley of viands consisting of grilled Dibang (flying fish), grilled tuna, Luñis (Ivatan pork adobo), Uved (banana pith with mixed ground meat), Steamed Tatus (coconut crab), crispy beef ribs, vunes (taro stalks), fern salad and turmeric rice. The feast of flavors was served on kabaya (breadfruit leaves).

For desserts, we had kamote flan and kamote roll—both of which we can’t stop eating and thought of ways we could make these desserts back home.

For refreshments, bottomless pours of lemongrass juice cooled us off from the heat.

Rediscovering Batanes

“All these things you have seen before is always being enhanced still by nature. It caters to low-impact tourism. Everything is still intact, the way you have seen it five, 10, or 15 years ago. There are some developments happening—there is now a 24-hour electrical service in most parts of the island. There is now the communication system, but still, you have to thank the people of Batanes in putting some hold in rapid development, in terms of infrastructure, in any tourism destination,” Philtoa Cruz concluded.

Rediscover Batanes was one of the seven caravans that have been presented at the annual Philippine Travel Mart on September 1 to 3 at the SMX Convention Center under the theme “50 Shades of Fun at Visit Asean @ 50”. Philtoa co-presented the 28th Philippine Travel with the Tourism Promotions Board.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Bellevue Manila Pays Homage to Japanese Cuisine

Bellevue Manila Pays Homage to Japanese Cuisine

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | August 15, 2019

Reinventing Homare

For the Filipino diner, Japanese cuisine ranks among the top-specialty foods that are close to their hearts. The ever-growing number of Japanese restaurants sprouting all over the metro clearly goes to show that we cannot get enough of sushi, tempura and donburis to name a few.

In response to the constant demand for high-quality Japanese food, the Bellevue Manila reinvents its in-house Japanese dining outlet formerly known as Hatsune, to Homare Japanese Restaurant and Grill.

The refurbished dining outlet Homare, which means “glory, honor, reputation” continues to be firm in its commitment to offer authentic specialties coupled with personalized customer service.

Aside from its Zen-inspired interiors, the new name offers excitement to sharp palates with a new and improved menu showcasing a wide selection, including classic Japanese set meals, Teishoku and Gozen; mouthwatering hot pots filled to the brim with noodles, fresh vegetables, meat and rich stock; Japanese noodles, such as Soba and Udon, an assortment of Sushi, Nigiri, and Ippin Ryori; filling rice bowls; Donburimono; fresh salads; classic crispy golden tempura; tender teppanyaki; and Japanese desserts, such as Matcha Tiramisu, Matcha Roll Cake and Wasabi Mochi.

The newly renovated restaurant boasts of a total seating capacity of 130 diners (the main dining hall accommodating 100 diners, and two private rooms with eight to 12 seats each where guests can enjoy a different barbeque experience with its featured highlight—the newly installed Yakiniku grills.)

Grand Opening

The recently-held grand opening of Homare was a display of what the establishment serves best as it caters to a full house of guests. Diners made a beeline for the fresh sashimi and sushi, including yellowtail fish, crabstick, squid, sea urchin, mackerel, eel, shrimp and egg. The crowning jewel of the event was the 35-kilo whole tuna fish served sashimi-style. Gindara Teriyaki, Chicken Barbeque and Tsukine was the featured hot food items.

The tempting aroma of high-grade beef cooked in butter at the Yakiniku grill never fails to draw attention to the crowd of foodies.

After having their fill of the good stuff, guests washed it all down with one or several items from the well-curated drink list—Homare Iced Tea, Sapporo Beer, Roku Japanese Gin Tonic, Sake Fashioned Bitters, Shochu Cucumber Margarita, Anatawa Kirei and a selection of chilled juices.

The attention to detail Homare puts in concocting well-loved Japanese dishes shows the level of respect its seasoned chefs put in their work. The restaurant is open daily from 11 am to 2 pm for lunch, and 6 pm to 10 pm for dinner.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Nuts About “Buko”

Nuts About “Buko”

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

Published in Daily Tribune |November 26, 2018

A Miracle Drink

FRESH buko juice is now one phone call away with Coco Delivery.

Perhaps the fountain that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters is not a fountain at all, but a tree — the coconut tree.

The coconut’s water, locally known as buko juice, is a miracle drink that contains antioxidants that help bring back that youthful glow, plus it also has numerous health benefits.

We believe everyone deserves to have access to this healthy and refreshing drink anywhere, especially in the country’s capital

Coconut water is extremely good for the health since it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and minerals that most people don’t get enough of. It is also proven to keep the body hydrated to prevent common health problems like urinary tract infections and low blood pressure.

Since coconut water forms naturally in the fruit and contains 94 percent water and very little fat, it also helps in weight loss.

There are many benefits to drinking coconut water. One, coconut water is packed with electrolytes that makes it better and comparable to sports drinks since it restores hydration, replenishes electrolytes lost during exercise and maintains proper fluid balance. Second, it is rich in potassium, shown to lower blood pressure in people with high or normal blood pressure and may potentially decrease the risk of blood clots forming in the arteries. Third, it is rich in magnesium, which may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.


Coco Delivery makes it incredibly convenient to quench one’s thirst, the healthy way.

Of course, even if coconut water is healthy, anything that is too much can cause overdose, bloating and stomach upset. It is all about discipline and balance.

Fortunately for Metro Manila residents, fresh buko juice is now just a phone call away with Coco Delivery. It offers fresh coconut water with no delivery charge and no minimum order required. They deliver anywhere within Metro Manila, even right at one’s doorstep.

Convenience in the Concrete Jungle

At the launch of Coco Delivery at its headquarters on E. Rodriguez, Quezon City, a consumer admitted to testing the new venture’s promise of delivering even just a single bottle to one’s doorstep. Coco Delivery came through.

For fresh buko juice lovers, Coco Delivery is a godsend, making it incredibly convenient to quench one’s thirst, the healthy way. With no added sugar, sweeteners or even flavoring agents compared to other brands, Coco Delivery offers only the purest coconut water in a bottle, making it a hassle-free experience.

At the launch, Coco Delivery’s business unit head Dexter Tan said, “The Philippines is known to be very abundant and rich in producing the freshest coconut water. With this, we believe everyone deserves to have access to this healthy and refreshing drink anywhere, especially in the country’s capital. Coco Delivery addresses the gap between consumers and access to fresh coconut water, which is usually only available in restaurants, malls, or from buko sidewalk vendors and buko cart peddlers in the morning.”

Not only has this company worked its way to serving convenience, it has also made healthier living possible.

Gabrielle Borromeo

Author Profile

Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at:

Seda Misto Buffet at BGC

Seda Misto Buffet at BGC

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | July 25, 2019

Getting the Right Mix for Buffet Success

Discerning palates will be thrilled with the extensive lineup of authentic international and local dishes set in a spacious and elegant dining establishment in the midst of bustling BGC.

The restaurant, Misto, which means “mixed“ in Italian, had made a name for itself with its tasty offering at reasonable prices since 2012. Its lunch buffet had quite a following with the corporate crowd. Fast forward seven years later, it can now accommodate 220 guests or over six times more than its original capacity.

Misto is part of Seda BGC’s newly built second tower that is set to cater to the demand of more guest rooms and function venues, as well. The buffet offers amazing value at an introductory of only P888 net, seven days a week. The buffet station comprises of premium meat cuts and grilled on the spot seafood for the show kitchen, a carving station, tempura station, a noodle bar, salad greens and fruits on ice and a mouthwatering collection of desserts.

The classic offering of Misto BGC, which never fails to win the hearts of buffet goers are the following: prime beef cuts, seafood grilled to perfection, Napoletana pizza made from Caputo flour, heartwarming soups and Indian dishes piping hot from the tandoori oven. These culinary delights are made fresh in its kitchen theater and various food stations in a new location at the hotel’s expansion tower.

“Just like Seda BGC, this Misto outlet was designed to meet the surging demand for premier facilities in this rapidly growing business district,” Seda senior group General Manager Andrea Mastellone voiced. The Italian hotelier assures the authenticity of the Misto Pizza Neopolitana and other pizza varieties, which with are all made from scratch from start to finish.

Also, a big factor that contributes to the appeal of this buffet is the keen understanding of local cuisine by its chef. In charge of churning out Filipino dishes is Seda’s corporate Executive Chef Romualdo “Pepe” Castillo whose three decades worth of experience is very much attuned to the taste buds of its diner.

Pepe stands behind the well-loved dishes, such as Osso Buco Lamb Shanks, Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon, Lasagna, Crispy Tadyang and Bagnet—all of which will remain part of the Seda Menu and buffet cycle. He also assures that its popular breakfast buffet, which is also offered at P888 net, will retain its fresh selections.

Adding to the luxurious vibe of the place is the stylish and modern interiors marked with a splash of vivid colors and greenery. The prime focus of Misto is its show kitchen, a private dining room for 10 and a semi-private area for large groups of up to 30 persons.

Aside from Misto, there are other facilities worth checking out. The Straight Up roof-deck bar, Club Lounge, gym and pool are all getting an upgrade in the new tower. In the works and soon to be available in the next few months are new room categories, like the Executive Suite and the top-of-the-line Seda Suite, as well as studios and one-bedroom serviced residences.

“BGC’s first premier hotel has truly evolved in keeping with the robust growth of the dynamic business and leisure communities it serves,” Mastellone said with pride.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.