Saccharine Irony

This site is a compilation of fluid thoughts, a collection of poetry, random glimpses of humor and tragedy, spontaneous notions of an extremely sensitive mind.

Bukidnon Weekend March 2, 2010

Filed under: Faves,Food,Love,Saccharine thoughts,Travel — Aimee @ 2:37 pm
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tribal necklace

I spent the weekend in one of my favorite places in the world, Malaybalay, a small city of pine trees and streams, seated deep into the heart of Bukidnon province.

A year after I graduated from college, I took up a work assignment in this small city for three straight years, until I decided to come home and take up another career.  Yet, the city has always held very distinct memories for me.  Every cafe, park, and street corner tells a story;  and even the stars, brighter than those in the smog-filled city, have their own tales to tell.

I traveled over the weekend primarily to get some downtime – and take some really good pictures – so that’s exactly what I did. And it surely did not hurt that I was traveling with one of my bubbliest friends in the whole wide world, Nashy.  So it was laughter most of the time, and lots of shopping trips on the side.

Kaamulan grounds

quiet streets in the morning

We stayed at the 1st Avenue Apartelle, a cozy inn tucked away in some lonely street off the main roads. Since the Kaamulan Festival had kicked off more than a week before our trip, booths have already sprouted all over the Capitol Grounds, where sellers and a lot of restos have set shop.  Streetdancing weekend was still one week away though, so there were no big crowds anywhere.  The pace was relatively relaxed, with just a few tourists and locals milling all over.

We checked in at the inn by lunchtime. After depositing our bags, Nashy and I chose to have lunch at Amadeo Steak and Asian Cuisine. Kicking our shoes off and putting on our sunglasses, we ordered pasta and seafood and ate in a Bali-inspired cabana in the garden, over candlelight (there were a few annoying bugs, being in the garden and all, so I asked for candlelight). I ordered the saffron pasta, which was divine, and relaxed a bit before heading off to the Kaamulan Park/Grounds for some photographs.

with Nash at Amadeo

Saffron Pasta

There are a good many things  I love best about the Kaamulan Park, especially during the Kaamulan Festival: towering trees, horses and horseback riding, log cabins, and wooden guest homes that look like gingerbread houses. A small stream runs through the park, and on quiet afternoons one can hear the sound of bubbling water tumbling over the rocks. We planned to go horseback riding, zip lining, and even wall climbing that day, but the 2 o’clock sun proved too much for us. So we simply surveyed the park for a few minutes, sat on verdant grass to gaze at the skies, and snapped our cameras.

some provincial office that looked like a house from fairytales

the sun, playing games

lovely trees

We whiled away the rest of the afternoon visiting booths, haggling prices, and shopping for a bit. I bought some anthurium plants and a rose cactus for Mom, while Nashy splurged (with emphasis on splurged, haha) on her purchases. Dinner was uneventful, as power interruptions spoiled our plans of visiting cafes and having coffee, so we simply stayed at the inn, watched some movie with Jim Sturgess in it on cable, and slept early for our eight o’clock Mass at the Monastery of Transfiguration the Sunday after.

The Monastery of Transfiguration

impressive architecture by the late Leandro Locsin

yep, still hope to get married here, someday 🙂

After the Mass, I could not leave the place – of course – without taking home the famous Monk’s Blend coffee, so I bought a small pack, to sample with my new coffeemaker back home. I was looking forward to breakfast at Bukidnon Brew Cafe after leaving the church at the Monastery, but I forgot that they were closed on Sundays. So, after a routine brunch (without coffee! :<) we headed to the shops again to haggle some more. I stopped along a few interesting items, took some snaps, all without giving in to my usual shopping impulses. I almost congratulated myself for not really splurging. Well, mainly because I’ve already bought some shoes on bargain the night before. Ooops.

Abaca bags and beads

some interesting necklace from Dire Husi

pretty rosette necklace from Hinombo

sinamay summer bags!

bright colored wooden beads

So by 12:00 noon on Sunday, we checked out from the inn and stayed at some pastries shop downtown, while Nashy and I waited for her sister, who was driving through Bukidnon from Davao, to pick us up. We finally set for the bigger city before 1:00 PM; the fierce heat and the lovely sight of the trees by the roadside and the washed-maong skies beyond lulling us peacefully throughout the almost 2-hour drive.

check out time

at the Angel’s Log pastries shop. The ensaymada I had was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Next time I’m in Malaybalay, I hope to go horseback riding at Quadra Eco Resort, spend an entire afternoon reading the books at Bukidnon Brew Coffee over fragrant coffee, and have my favorite Beef Teriyaki again at Le Cafe.

Having visited the place again after two long years, Malaybalay is still the same, yet different in so many ways. Or perhaps, it is I who have become different, albeit in little, unobtrusive ways. I left this city for good two years ago, convinced that I spent too long a time trying to love a a place that will never love me back. Still, there is nothing quite like the sight of mountains and trees and the small-town feel of a charming tree-bordered town over a short weekend – gone too soon! These are just a few of the wonderful things you don’t get in a crowded, humid city. Different or the same, I know I will always be going back.

Many people have fallen in love with Malaybalay, Bukidnon, myself included, and it’s easy to see why.

until next time! 🙂


My Delicious Summer: Camiguin Island May 7, 2009

Filed under: Events,Travel — Aimee @ 4:05 am
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This year, I was finally able to visit Camiguin Island. I have long been putting off traveling to this sleepy island, for the sole reason that riding a barge or a fast craft has never been my idea of fun. I always get sea sick every time I travel by boat; even more so on days when the weather is none too placid. But anything that concerns travel always excites me, and exploring this beautiful island is just the perfect thing to do on the first day of the last month of the summer season. After shopping for a new tankini and charging the cam, I packed my things and woke up the following morning ready to explore Camiguin.


After boarding the air conditioned bus from Cagayan de Oro to Balingoan port, we finally boarded the barge at around 9:45 am. The ride was uneventful the entire time; I was sea sick and dizzy of course, trying hard not to puke all over the place. Luckily, I was able to hold off the contents of my breakfast, and we finally arrived on the island at past 12 noon, famished for lunch.

We stayed at the family ancestral home of Ate Candy, one of my brother’s bank mates. The place was beautiful – a wide balcony overlooks a well tended garden and a hammock sways under a vine of tropical flowers. Ate Candy’s ancestors established Turrones de Mani, a local peanut-based delicacy, famous not only in Camiguin but all over Mindanao too. The property also housed the Turrones headquarters, a huge kitchen that always smelled of peanuts and caramel.


The lunch waiting for us at the house was yummy, and I especially enjoyed the pako salad greens (topped with sliced hard boiled eggs), the calamansi-ridden beef steak, and the Dalagang Bukid fish fried to crisp perfection. For dessert we had the crispy and sweet Turrones. After resting a bit after lunch, the first stop for us that afternoon was the divine Katibawasan Falls. The place was beautiful:  a 250 m water fall cascaded into a cold pool of clear waters. I couldn’t resist stripping down to my suit and wading through the clear waters less than five minutes after having trekked down the stone steps ! Everyone did the same, and we enjoyed taking photos of the place and feasting on Pringles, chicharon, fish crackers, and sandwiches.


After enjoying Katibawasan, the gang proceeded to dinner at Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin, a beach-front resort lined with beautiful cabanas. The resort also had an expansive swimming pool, its waters warmed by the late afternoon Camiguin sun. So before our dinner of chicken tinola, eggplant salad, lechon kawali, and stewed vegetables, we indulged ourselves in the sun-warmed swimming pool and forgot about all the cares in the world. 🙂


The next day, we headed to Paras Beach Resort for breakfast, and to board the ferry boat that would whisk us away to White Island, an uninhabited sandbar that offers a fabulous view of Mt. Hibok-Hibok and its surrounding foliage. I took pictures all over the place, in between swimming and walking on the fine pebbled sands to take in the beautiful views.


We resumed our tour of the island after swimming and lounging on the white sandbar. After shopping for souvenirs at the Walkway, a popular place for tourists, we stopped by the huge cross over at the Sunken Cemetery. Then we headed to the Guiob Church ruins, the remnants of a 16th-century church constructed from coral stones. The area was breathtaking, affording us a view of the cerulean Camiguin sea. For lunch we had country style steaks, grilled fish, and fragrant rice at the Sto. Nino Cold Springs. The weather was hot and humid and the cold springs gave us just what we needed for that day, after hours of sand bar explorations, shopping, and sight seeing.

Our last stop was the Hibok-Hibok Ardent Hot Springs. These springs are an unspoiled, natural hot tub, which offered the perfect conclusion to a day of swimming, feasting, and happy carousing. I rested my back on a mini water fall, the cascading water a delicious treat to my tired shoulders and back. I almost did not want to leave! Dinner was at Luna restaurant, where they served us fresh salad greens with olives and tuna and authentic Italian pizzas, brick oven grilled to gooey mozzarella perfection.

At early dawn the following day we left the island, groggy and sleepy, yet wanting to stay for one day more. Just one day more.

Perhaps next summer. 😉