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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seafood Feast at Aling Tonya's Paluto in SM Mall of Asia

It’s always a treat when our group goes for a weekend meander that usually leads to a food tripping. Aside from having a good bonding, we like to pamper our cravings once in a while and for the simple reason that “we love to eat,” period! (Grin) 

This past weekend we decided to do some wandering at SM Mall of Asia and tried the notable restaurant of Aling Tonya’s Seafood Paluto which I’ve always heard with lot of good reviews. And since it’s Sunday, we chose to pay a visit first to Baclaran church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) before going to the mall. We weren’t able to attend the whole mass due to heavy traffic in Las Piñas, so we just knelt down, lit some candles, and prayed. 

It’s almost lunch time when we arrived at SM Mall of Asia, so we went straight to Aling Tonya’s restaurant located just right beside the MOA “Eye” (Ferris wheel). The concept of this restaurant is akin with “Dampa Restaurant” proliferating all over the Philippines. It is a group of eateries placed near a seaside where you can choose your favorite sea foods from a row of market stalls then let the restaurant of your choice cook everything the way you like them to be. In Aling Tonya’s you can just go there and order from their menu, but if you’re on a budget you can bought the sea foods from the nearest market and bring it to the restaurant to cook the recipe you want for a minimal cooking charges. For your convenience, call Aling Tonya’s in advance to reserve your seats inside the air-conditioned room or if not, you will be placed outside by the seaside but with a great view and a chance to see beautiful sunset. The restaurant was busy with a baptismal celebration when we arrived, without any reservation still we’ve got a table and placed our order right away. We ordered Sweet and Sour Lapu – Lapu, Nilasing na hipon and Sweet Chili Crab. It took us just 10 – 15 minutes waiting time upon completing our order, which I believe is a quick service out of a function. 

Nilasing na Hipon

Sweet Chili Crab

Sweet n Sour Lapu-Lapu

Silence dominated while we’re eating for hours. Why Silence? Simply because we are so busy cracking and enjoying the sweet chili crab hahahaha. One may say, “How’s the food?”, and one will mouth “Sorry, I’m busy!!!” and everyone laughs! Admittedly, the food was so good; the shrimp is so crunchy and tasty while the sweet and sour fish is so zesty and delicious. And the Crab? Oh God, It was so succulent, coated in rich sweet chili sauce.  The taste is so delectable that can make you savor every strip of it. Inelegant as it may seem, we all found ourselves lapping the sauce off our fingers and the crab’s shell. Oh my! We didn’t want it to end. 

Mouthwatering Crabs

The Aftermath:

It’s one heck of a wonderful experience and we’re all satisfied and full. We definitely recommend Aling Tonya’s Seafood Paluto to anyone looking for a sumptuous sea food trip  along Mall of Asia. They also have branches in Macapagal Avenue, Dampa in Sucat Parañaque, Seaside Ortigas Avenue and Seaside Daang Hari in Alabang. 

For other details and reservations you may contact them at:
Aling Tonya’s Seafood Paluto (SM By the Bay Mall of Asia)
+632 710-0260

Aling Tonya’s Facebook page:

Budget for 4 – 5 persons P2,000 – 2,500

Happy Food Hunting, Happy Eaters!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Our Wonderful Cebu City tour 2011

Cebu City is blessed with abundant cultural heritage, rich history, resilient people, deep spiritual values and best food. As a vast province, Cebu offers interesting places as there is Bantayan & Malapascua Island on the North, Kawasan falls on the South and just within the City itself you will never run out of sightseeing places. The way I see it, 4 days may not be enough to explore the beauty of the province and hence people keep coming back to optimize every tourist attractions in Cebu. Just like thousands of tourists who fall in love with the province, we are one of those who keep coming back to this wonderful place that’s why as a birthday present to myself  last September 2011, I’ve included Cebu City as one of our itineraries when Honey and I visited its neighboring province, Bohol.

We started our journey with an hour and half flight from Manila to Mactan International Airport through Cebu Pacific Air carrier. We arrived at Cebu City around 3 in the afternoon and checked-in at Pacific Pensionne. We chose Pacific Pensionne as our crib for an overnight stay because it is located in the heart of the city and accessible to different Cebu City’s attractions. Their available rooms are Premiere Double Matrimonial Room for Php850/night and Standard Double Matrimonial Room for Php800/night. The room we stayed has an aircon, bathroom, shower, and cable tv that is so basic but very clean. My only concern is their wifi connection which is only available if you avail it for 50pesos a day which I think is so pricey. Nevertheless, Honey and I enjoyed our stay here and will definitely recommend this place to travelers on a budget with assurance of safety and clean place to stay despite of its simple amenities. 

Pacific Pensionne sala

(For more hotel recommendation in Cebu, please refer to our previous blog link.)

during the mass
After having a good night’s sleep, we started exploring the city of Cebu the following day. Since it’s Sunday we decided to pay a visit and attend an early Holy Mass in Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño.  We never got a chance to enter this church the last time (2010) we’re in Cebu because of time restrictions. The Holy Mass we attended was in Cebuano dialect but anyone can easily grasp. The church was a brilliant cathedral with antique chandeliers, painted ceilings and old statues. In the middle of church’s altar is the image of child Jesus (Sto. Niño) and amidst of it are statues of saints that placed in a golden box of glass. This popular icon of the little child Jesus is a gift from Ferdinand Magellan to the queen of Cebu - Queen Juana after her conversion to Catholicism. This event marks the acceptance of Christianity in the Philippines. After the Holy Mass, Honey and I stayed for a while and kneel down to say a silent prayer for guidance and blessings from the Holy Child Señor Sto. Niño. After praying, we roamed around a bit to explore the church and joined the queue just to have a glimpse of the Sto. Niño image in a separate room near the basilica. 


The image of Señor Sto. Niño on a separate room

Next to our destination is the Magellan’s Cross. Just beside the Basilica after exiting from the altar of candles, you will arrive in the hall of Magellan's Cross. From here you will see candle vendors wearing colorful clothes in yellow and red executing prayer dance before offering colorful candles from devotees. Magellan’s Cross is the most famous relic in Cebu City that Magellan erected to propagate Christianity.

Candle vendor offering a prayer

Magellan's Cross from the outside

Afterwards, we continued our exploration to Fort San Pedro which is just minutes walking distance from the Cross. It is located near the seaside and you need to pay 20php for the entrance fee. Fort San Pedro is the smallest and oldest Spanish fort in the country which was built in 1565 by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and served as the core of Spanish settlement in the Philippines. There are information walls inside, mostly old photos describing the development and history of Cebu and the Fort. It has a relaxed and cool atmosphere, a perfect way to end our City tour. Yes, there’s nothing much to see but garden, museum, old canons and historical facts. But for me it’s worth it especially if you love history. Exploring this place is like taking a quick trip to the past which is a wonderful learning experience for us. 

We finished touring the City around 10 in the morning and decided to take our early lunch at our all-time favorite barbecue haven Larsian, since we needed to catch the 1pm schedule of SuperCat Ferry from Cebu port to Tagbilaran Bohol. We also dropped by the famous pasalubong store in Cebu - Shamrock, to buy their best seller otap and many other Cebu  delicacies.  

Puso (Rice)

Isaw and longganisa

grilled fish and squid

Shamrock pasalubong
Despite having limited time exploring Cebu City for the 2nd time we really had a great time. It was so much fun especially if you’re with your special someone. Truly “It’s more fun in Cebu,” so many things to do and for sure we will never get tired going back. The next time we come back to Cebu, we will make sure to visit Malapascua Island, Kawasan falls, Sky Adventure at Crown Regency Hotel and to witness the sun to set in Marcelo B. Fernan Bridge. For sure it will be a romantic and majestic moment. So what are you waiting for? See for yourself! Come with us and let us enjoy the beauty of the “Queen City of the South!” 

For more info about Cebu's tourism please check their site at:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Wonderful City of Cebu

Cebu Province is located in Central Visayas which is in the middle of Philippine Archipelago. The City of Cebu is the capital city of the province and known for its monicker “Queen City of the South” because of its huge potential in terms of economy that serves as the focal point of growth and development in Southern Philippines. Considered as the oldest city in the country, Cebu City is an excellent tourist destination that features heap of tourist’s attraction. It has become a favorite tourist destination because of its rich culture, its finest food, historical sites, white sand beaches and clear waters that made it popular as one of the country’s fantastic dive site. We already visited the city twice; year 2010 and 2011, a proof that we really fell in love with Cebu and there are still many reasons to go back. 

Mactan Bridge

Our first visit to Cebu City was year 2010 after our three well-spent days in Bantayan Island. From Mactan International Airport you can hire a cab to your preferred hotel that will costs you around 150 to 200 pesos. Accommodation in Cebu is not a case as there are many hotel choices ideally located in the heart of the city.  Furthermore, it is advisable to book your hotel at least 2 months before your travel date particularly if you are arriving during major holiday. Amid other accommodations in Cebu City, we preferred staying at Vacation Hotel (Juana Osmeña Street) for its budget-friendly rate, accessible to attractions that Cebu has to offer and it’s the only hotel with room that can fit up to 8pax. We paid 2,840 pesos for 6 pax and additional 224 pesos for every extra pax that boils down to 3,288 pesos for 8 pax per night. The clerk even gave us an off-season discount that really pacified our weeping pocket hahaha. Kidding aside, VH also rendered us a good deal for free usage of their swimming pool & billiard table and free continental breakfast (slice of bread, 2 eggs, butter, strawberry jam and coffee) for 6.

Vacation Hotel Cebu

For other hotels in Cebu that you may want to check, here is the list:

Cebu Grand hotel -     +6332 2546331      
                                 +6332 2546339      
                                 +6332 2546361      
                                 +6332 2546362     

Diplomat hotel +632 2530099

Hotel Pier Cuatro - +632 2361111

West Gorordo Hotel - +632 231-4347 to 49

Summit Circle Hotel -  +632 2393000

Mango Park Hotel +632 2331511 to 14

Apple Tree Suites - +632 2534236
(sun) 0922-821-6697
(globe) 0917-307-8112
(smart) 0939-939-8060

Pacific Pensionne - +632 2535271

So what are the tourist and historical attractions in Cebu that we’ve visited? Here are some snippets. (classified according to accessibility/farthest)

Lapu – Lapu Monument / Magellan’s Monument / Mactan Shrine / Sutukil/Taoist Temple

From the city proper up to Lapu-Lapu City will cost you 300-400 pesos per taxi. Just try to haggle, ask for meter rate and avoid taxi contract. But if you’re on a budget you can go there via public transportation. From SM Cebu you can ride a V-hire to Gaisano Mactan and from there ride a multicab with signboard “Punta Engaño,” and just inform the driver to drop you off at Mactan Shrine.

Lapu-Lapu Monument
Lapu-Lapu monument is a life-size bronze statue representing Lapu-Lapu’s honor and to commemorate his heroic acts during the battle of Mactan (April 27, 1521).

Mactan Shrine
The Mactan Shrine in Cebu is dedicated in honor of Lapu-Lapu, Ferdinand Magellan, and the Battle of Mactan.

Guitar Souvenir 
 Magellan’s Monument
This historical statue was erected in 1866 to mark the spot where the great explorer Ferdinand Magellan died from the battle of Mactan.

Sutukil Restaurants
When in Mactan, make sure you try Sutukil restaurants just outside the Mactan Shrine. Sutukil is a portmanteau word of different ways to cook a fish. Su - Sugba (grill), Tu - Tula (prepared into soup), and Kil - Kilaw (raw fish salad). This place is an eating haven in Mactan where restaurants let you choose whatever you want cooked from selection of fresh fish, prawns, crabs, seaweeds, shells, clams and lobsters. Don’t forget to try the best-seller sweet and sour Lapu-Lapu of "No Problem" Restaurant which is so delectable and the best recipe’ I’ve ever tasted! (Drooling, haha) 


sinigang na maya maya

Sweet n Sour Crispy Lapu-lapu
Taoist temple Cebu
It is advisable to hire a cab going here and let the cab wait for you because it is located inside Beverly Hills Subdivision. This is a beautiful attraction in Cebu where you will enjoy Chinese architecture. It is a great place for photo op where one can capture extravagant décor, dragons, carvings and miniature of towers. Just be reminded that this is a sacred temple where people pray, meditate and exercise their religious belief so visitors must maintain the solemnity and tranquility of the place. 

Basilica Sto Niño / Magellan’s Cross / Larsian
You can ride a cab from city proper up to Magellan's Cross for about 60-80 pesos and Basilica Minore is just adjacent to the cross. 

Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño
Is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Cebu, the home of the iconic young Jesus worshiped as Santo Niño.

Magellan’s Cross 
This vicinity is the exact location where the Christian cross was planted by Portuguese and Spanish explorers as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan to propagate Christianity throughout the island. 

Larsian is located in Fuente Osmeña near Robinson’s Cybergate. It is a well-known eating haven in the heart of Cebu for so many years. It is a place lined with a number of barbecue stands offering different barbecue selections; Chicken, liver, Squid, pork, fish, and my ever favorite longganisa (Dang! It’s so good) partnered with “puso” (rice). You can also try their siomai that’s so delicious.  When you visit Cebu don’t forget dropping by Larsian and I assure you that you’ll enjoy the incredible atmosphere and of course the fantastic food. 

BBQ selection

Puso (rice)


Cebu is a wonderful province you shouldn’t miss visiting because of its rich culture, interesting history, great food, and its people that make the city so mesmerizing and tourists keep coming back. And because Cebu province has a lot to offer you would not run out of reasons to fall in love with the place and go back. Just visit the province and  experience yourself the things and places that can make you fall in love. Happy Cebu tripping!

Overlooking Cebu City

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