11.06.2017

A First Timer and Non-Surfer's Guide to SIARGAO : EATS and ACTIVITIES




I have heard a lot of buzz about Siargao, known as the "Surfing Capital of the Philippines" for quite sometime now and I was so curious as to what this island has to offer even to a NON-SURFER like myself.  My husband planned a business trip here last week and I had to grab the opportunity to see the place myself and discover the so-called MAGIC of this island.

TIPS

1.  GET A DIRECT FLIGHT. A few years ago, there were only 1-2 flights a day to Siargao via Cebu Pac. From Manila, you would have to fly to Cebu first and then from there fly to Siargao. You would techically already waste a full day just travelling to get there. Thankfully now, SKYJET already offers a direct fight there! And I believe Cebu Pac will be offering direct flights already starting December. Woohoo! The ticket will cost you about Php 10,000.00 per pax. We got ours with a 20% discount because we used a specific credit card so do watch out for those credit card promos.

Flying Time : 1 hour and 20 minutes



2. RENT A MOTORBIKE. This is the best way to get around the island.
    Rental Fee : Php 500.00 per day


Our ride the whole trip

3. BRING CASH. ATMs are hard to find around the island so it's best you already come prepared. There is an ATM outside the Airport though so you can also get from there as well before heading to your resort/hotel.

EATS

1. KERMIT SIARGAO

Kermit's Restaurant serves hands down THE BEST Italian Cuisine in the island.  The place gives a true and authentic island feel and vibes. It's located off the main road making you trail the inner roads to find this gem. They have two dining places; one is a more chill-out casual setting with low tables and even hammocks (mostly for just in-house guests) and the other is the main dining area with an Al Fresco side. We are so fortunate to have met Gianni who was a gracious host to us with lots of stories to tell about the island and how Kermit came to be. He has truly found home and love in Siargao.



Cold Cuts and Cheese Platter
Php 280.00
Always great with Vino ofcourse (can you spot my glass?)

Signature Pizza : Four Cheese  (Parmesan, Provolone, Gorgonzola, Brie) with Mushrooms

Here at Kermit's, you customize your PIZZA and choose your own toppings. This was their recommended flavor, their bestseller : 4 Cheese Pizza. Most guests order it with Parma Ham but I opted for mushroom instead since we already had some charcuterie. It did not disappoint! I love the texture and lightness of their dough and the unique combination of the cheeses (the gorgonzola was the took the flavor up a notch!).

Papardelle all' Antonio Php 400.00
Freshly made pasta with fresh shrimps in garlic, tomato sauce and chili
My husband was totally blown away by this pasta dish. He said he will keep coming back just for this dish alone!

I love that they make everything from scratch from their bread, pizza dough, pasta and their drinks. They use only the freshest local ingredients from the local market and combine it with imported ingredients from Italy.

*** NOTE :  The place best packed almost every night for dinner so be sure to make a reservation to secure a table! 

... Oh and do yourself a favor and get yourself a GWAPITOS shirt for pasalubong! They have their main store (a nipa hut filled with their GWAPITOS merch) just beside the Main Dining area. 



Kermit Restaurant Siargao
Purok 5, 8419 General Luna
Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte
Contact # +63 977 856 33 21
Website : www.kermitsiargao.com
FB : www.facebook.com/kermitsiargao
IG : @kermitsiargao

2. AVENTINO'S PIZZA

Quick Trivia : Aventino's Pizza started in Cebu and not in Siargao. Mr. Ben Orozco bought it to the island in 2012. It started with just one branch and because of it's success they now have 3 branches in Surigao.


Their Branch near Cloud 9 


Our tummies only had room for 1 pizza and the sure choice was their signature TRICIA Pizza which is their bestseller.


It is a thick pizza made out of 3 layers of thin crust pizzas : (1) Meat (2) Veggies (3) Cheese.

 TRICIA PIZZA Php 360.00
3 thin crust pizzas = 1 thick pizza
According to Ben, "thin na naging thick", get it?



A quick snap with Ben, owner of Aventino's, who took time to tell us this pizzeria started and gave us more recommendations on activities to do in Siargao. Say hello to him when you see him around. They have a couple of villas at the back for rent which are so reasonable. We stayed their during our last 2 nights!

AVENTINO'S PIZZA
Poblacion, Purok  Dos Siargao Island
General Luna, Surigao Del Norte
Facebook : www.facebook.com/AventinosPizzaPasta
IG : @AventinosPizzaPasta
Mobile : 0918 338 8961


3. SHAKA
When in Siargao, definitely SHAKA! This healthy nook had me at smoothie bowls. They serve breakfast all-day food in a casual and hip setting along the main road where you can enjoy the view of the sea.

BOM DIA 
Their signature POWER SMOOTHIE that's packed with anti-aging properties plus energy and immunity boosters that will definitely put you in the best mood~ 
Acai + Mango + Banana + Pineapple + Berries + 
Coconut Milk + Homemade Vegan Granola + Fresh Fruits + Grated Coconut


SUPER BOWL
Natural Yogurt + Island Fruits + Quinoa + Vegan Granola + Honey + Grated Coconut

GREEN OUT
Kale + Saluyot + Spirulina + Cucumber + Pineapple + Ginger + 
Mango + Honey + Granola + Grated Coconut

SHAKA BOWL
Tourism Road, Cloud 9
General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/shakasiargao/

4. BRAVO
One Word : POMADAS for Php 50! Yes you heard it! Fifty Peso Pomadas, need I say more?  And I don't know if I'm a lightweight but after having just one, I got a nice hit already (if ya know what I mean!). YAAAAS!


Oh and if you happen to be there on a Wednesday, you get FREE TAPAS with their drink/s! Wooot!
Bravo is also known for their Spanish Tapas and Paella (that you must order ahead!). 

We went there again for lunch and tried their food ; 


Tuna Tataki 

Pork Curry 

Bravo Restaurant
Tourism Road, Barangay 5
General Luna, Surigao Del Norte
Contact # +63 905 395 54 93

5. MAMA'S GRILL
If you want a cheap no non-sense dinner of simple grilled meats and rice, you must make a stop here when while in the island.

What to order?  Veggie Kabob, Grilled Fish (we had a medium sized lapu-lapu for only Php 250.00 the next night. I just forgot to take a photo!), Grilled Chicken, Grilled Longganisa/Chorizo



We had all of these for less than Php 500.00. Truly a "sulit" (value for money) meal!
One of the best discoveries I had was Siargao's freshly baked Pan de Coco (Bread with Coconut Meat). OMG! You shouldn't miss out on this merienda. I found two stalls that set-up their little make-shift oven by the roadside every afternoon (around 3:30 pm onwards) located right beside the Town Church.

6. PAN DE COCO

Php 5.00 = Happiness. I'm serious!


One of the best discoveries I had was THIS : Siargao's freshly baked Pan de Coco (Bread with Coconut Meat). OMG! You HAVE to get a hold of these heavenly buns while you're there.  I found two stalls that set-up their little make-shift oven by the roadside every afternoon (around 3:30 pm onwards) located right beside the Town Church.







It's best when it comes just right out of the oven and you excitedly sink your teeth into the really hot bun which will let out steam on your first bite (warning: it may burn your tongue so be careful and give it a few blows first). Lami!


ACTIVITIES  

I had a notion that Siargao was all about SURFING but it's totally more than that! There are tons of activities you can do from lounging around and chilling with your choice of poison, sharing with you what we tried there;

1. SURFING - Well, it IS the top activity here so I figured I might as well give it a shot. It also been on my bucket list for a long time.  I channeled my inner Moana.  "....See the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me... " admit you sang that!

I popped my surf cherry. It was my first time to surf EVER EVER and I'm glad I experienced it here in the island. The going rate is Php 500.00 per hour to rent the surfboard and have an instructor with you.  Thank you to my instructor Mau! I had an awesome time. I am now a convert, are you even surprised? It was AMAZING!

* Millenials hear this : You can even hire someone for Php 300.00 per hour to get your IG worthy shots while surfing! hahaha!






2.ISLAND HOPPING -

The wonderful and awesome host Gianni (you won't miss him. He is the friendly Italian dude that warmly welcomes everybody) arranged this for us. Siargao's islands are truly worth seeing. You may course your bookings through Kermit's Resort.

We joined a special group that day for the Island Tour. We were 13 in all (12 girls one guy - the hubby was the only thorn amongst the roses). Half of them came to island alone. Most were mending and healing from a past relationship and others just wanted to seek adventure on their own. Well, they came to the perfect paradise.

Price : Php 1,000.00 which includes the tour of three (3) islands aboard their famous MARAJAW boat and an amazing local lunch of seafood, meat, rice, noodles and veg at Daku Island. Oh and it includes booze (beer and softdrinks) as well!

Time : 10:00 am - 4:30 pm

First Snap aboard the MARAJAW



1st Stop : NAKED ISLAND (It's called Naked because it literally does not have trees and just bare!)


2nd stop : DAKU (which means Big/Large in Bisaya) ISLAND where we had our sumptuous Filipino lunch


Veggie Kabob which was a big hit!

Sinuglaw (Kinilaw + Inihaw) - Kinilaw is my absolute FAVE! 

Assorted Grilled Meat/Chicken and Fish

Fresh Tropical Fruits for Dessert


Last Stop : GUYAM ISLAND where we had our Complete Group Picture (missing in the pic was Mai (our guide) who took this picture. 

3. YOGA
There a lot of places offering yoga classes but for those with their personal practice like myself, the world is my practice space. Always a joy to practice by the sea.

Places offering Yoga Classes : Greenhouse, Buddha, Kermit's, Lotus Shores 
Usual Group Class Rate : Php 350.00 per class


Taken at Bayud Resort





4. MAPUPUNGKO TIDAL POOLS and BLUE LAGOON
Unfortunately, we had no more time to do these tours because of the limited amount of time we had but this just gives us more reason to come back! These were two other recommended tours that are a must in the island.



Siargao what have you done? You've cast a spell on (the non-surfer turned surfing fan) ME. The island boasts of not just excellent waves but relaxed island vibes, great food, pristine undiscovered beaches and a practically unlimited supply of pan de coco and fresh coconuts.

I will be back. for sure.

"Til my next wave.

Siargao at 6 am. See you soon.

- Pattie







7.20.2017

The Healthcare Game Changer of the Philippines : AIDE APP


I've been experiencing a weird kind of chronic left knee pain for months now which would come and go (mostly after running/cycling and in some static stretches like the pigeon on the floor) plus my sporadic low back problem that always haunts me but because of my super busy momma schedule, I brushed these aside many times. I couldn't find "time" to have it checked because well... let's admit LIFE (work, teaching, travel, household, etc) always gets in the way. Mommies, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. 



Last night, I was FINALLY able to get my issues checked by a PT in the convenience of my HOME! Yes, I had a specialist come to our house to check my knee and my back. The hubby also had his long list of complaints (ankle, wrist and upper back) which were also assessed last night. No long queues/waiting time, no hospital, nothing... It was done in our house and while I was reviewing my son for his Mastery Test. How did I do it? Through this app called AIDE. It allows you to connect to get medical care from qualified medical practitioners straight from your phone! 


Ivan, the PT, was able to isolate that my knee pain was actually being caused by my super tight IT bands. I have to really allot time to stretch it out and was given specific exercises for these target areas. As for my low back, we did a short hot compress session and some core strengthening exercises. It felt good to know how I can manage my body issues to prevent further injury and it felt even better that I did without leaving the house! Awesome AIDE!

7.13.2017

Turning Japanese: Tuna Anatomy and The Uh-mazing TORO

Oh Toro, why do I love thee?

Toro is my weakness. It was love at first sight when my Dad first introduced me to it. And at that time I cared less and had no idea whatsoever that it was more than just "Tuna Belly Sashimi" until I became a chef and a serious foodie. 
Toro literally means "to melt" and as the name suggest it literally feels like butter in your mouth. You could vividly see layers of fat and marbling which gives it an extra unexplainable umami flavor and texture. Sharing with you some interesting trivia about it.

bluefin tuna sushi anatomy

TORO is not taken light but a damn SERIOUS business in Japan. Throughout the country, all of the blue fin tuna happen to be graded from the quality of the slices of oily meat which are extracted from them, especially the highly valued toro, typically the oily belly from the tuna. Tuna for the purpose of sushi happens to be meticulously taken care of, to make certain that the entire flesh will not be bruised or harmed. Once the raw tuna gets to the actual seafood marketplace, center examples of the tissue are generally obtained using a unique instrument in order for the pigment, consistency, and flavor from the meat to be evaluated prior to the tuna being valued. Although sushi includes many various tuna types such as yellow tail as well as big eye, excellent quality otoro is simply obtained from only the blue fin tuna.

 Sushi at 6 am? HELL Yeah! This was the OTORO I had for breakfast at the famous Tsukiji Market during our last trip to Tokyo.


 OTORO that you can get from the grocery....*sigh* Only in Japan


Drool, drool, drool....
Otoro is taken from the actual under-belly inside the tuna, and it is by itself separated into grades which happen to be recognized according to the marbling through out the steak, very similar to inside grading beef. By far the most precious o-toro or otoro, comes from the lower belly of the fish towards the head. Chutoro, a lower top quality, derives from the tuna belly at the center and rear through the tuna, which is not as much marbled when compared with otoro sushi.
There is a unique taste to it. The amazing sirloin feel of raw tuna fuses together with the fatty tissue from the belly to generate a rich and creamy experiencing inside the mouth, along with the flesh from the tuna evaporating while you indulge in it.
An exceptional part of otoro is going to be soft pink together with vibrant white colored lines. Otoro comes with a lot of delicious oily lines, which typically give it that distinctive and magnificent tastiness. Chutoro is normally much less veined by means of fat, even though it remains a lot more oily compared with pieces from the higher area from the fish, including akami. Otoro is definitely most tasty throughout the winter months, once tuna acquire additional body fat, and might not be as incredibly tasty when out of season. It needs to always be consumed fresh, mainly because it doesn't last lengthy amounts of frozen periods.
Amazingly, o-toro sushi is not commonly consumed outside of Japan, even though it is oftentimes accessible in specialized Japanese dining establishments along the shorelines of America as well as in certain parts associated with Countries in Europe. Otoro represents a most enjoyable part of dining found in Japan, and a large number of blue fin tuna farmed all over the world land in typically the fish marketplaces linked to Japan, exactly where the o-toro will undoubtedly receive a more expensive price tag amongst sushi enthusiasts.

I can't wait until I get to taste this precious tuna part again. A few more weeks to go.... woohoo!



until then,
Pattie