Aka.: more Ilocos food trippin’.

Useless trivia about me: I am not a fan of empanada. I find it too oily for my taste.

I was not too keen on trying Vigan empanada because I thought it would be just like the ones I’ve tried, ie., the Malolos, Bulacan version with the flaky crust that’s too oily, or the commercialized ones being sold in malls. Fortunately, my cousin bought one for us to sample. And just in time, too. She bought in on our last stop before leaving Ilocos Sur.

Whadya know, Vigan empanada is different from the ones I already knew. It has more veggies than the usual empanada, and the meat is actually Vigan longganisa which I totally love. The crust is not oily. Dipping it in sukang Iloko (Ilocano cane vinegar) will lessen the umay factor. I love it! One of things that is worth returning to Ilocos for. :thumbup:

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And speaking of Vigan longganisa, this was our first breakfast in Ilocos:

My only complaint about Vigan longganisa is that I wish it’s bigger. Nakakabitin eh.

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I absolutely must return to Ilocos region just to try one of these specialty pizzas, particularly the longganisa poquipoqui one.

Or if anyone can point me to any restaurant within my region or in NCR where they serve it, please do.

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Weeks ago, I discovered something in one of our visits to Concha’s Restaurant.

It’s called balikutsa or balicutia, a local candy which is a sugarcane bi-product that is also being used by Ilocanos – and Concha’s – to sweeten their coffee or tea (according to Mr. Google). We loved how it gives brewed coffee a caramel flavor.

You can bet that when I saw it being sold in pasalubong shops in Ilocos, I just had to get some.

No, the correct word is HOARD lots of it.

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Of course, a trip to Ilocos won’t be complete without… BAGNET!!!

I actually brought home two kilos of this. And I’m regretting it a lil’ bit. That’s just too much cholesterol, right there.

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Ilocos region is a haven for foodies. Although some of our more ‘alta’ companions were complaining about the food – probably because they’re not used to eating pinakbet instead of bagnet in one of our food stops, which is just too sad – my tummy was fully satisfied. There’s just too many things to sample, and I really wish I could spend more time in the region just to take photos and eat.

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PS: the link to my blog entry for Top 10 Places I Want To Visit Before I Die appeared on this entry’s related posts, so I clicked on it. Apparently, Vigan, Ilocos Sur is on my bucketlist. I totally forgot about that. :hihihi: Well, that’s one item checked off on that list…

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Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the province of Ilocos Sur for the first time. It was a actually a religious pilgrimage, but I also took it as an opportunity to travel and experience the local color, and of course, the food.

In one of our stopovers, one of the pilgrims whose roots originate in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, served us the morning snacks. It wasn’t exactly a morning snack; it was served at around 1:00pm due to delays in our itinerary. Me and my family were actually hesitant to eat because we know that buffet lunch is coming. Must save space on our tummies, ya know. :naughty: However, we saw the others enthusiastically sipping on hot soup and since we have nothing to do but wait, we decided to queue up.

First, we were handed this variation of the sumang antala (a local rice cake), which I was hesitant to try as I’m not too fond of this kind of suman if it doesn’t come with ripe mangoes or sweetened beans.

But the others were raving about how different it was from the suman we know, so I took a bite. Unlike the usual sumang antala which has a bland flavor, this one is quite tasty. It’s a nice mixture of salty-sweet like inangit (sticky rice), but a bit sweeter and a lot stickier. It was nice. :thumbup:

And then, when we reached the top of the queue, we were served this noodle soup:

It’s kinda like a cross between mami and sotanghon soup, but with Ilocano miki (egg noodles) instead of sotanghon (glass noodles). The soup was light and tasty, which is just right especially if you’re so hungry and your stomach craves for something to warm it up. Then the locals said, “mas masarap po yan kung may sili, try n’yo po!” (it will be much tastier if you add ‘sili’ on it, try it!). The ‘sili’ refers to this:

It’s Ilocano cane vinegar mixed with the local variety of chili peppers. I sprinkled some on my soup, took a sip, and…

…WHOA. :whoa: What sorcery is this? Is this what soup heaven feels like? The soup by itself is quite tasty, but adding the vinegar-chili concoction gives it a whole new level in tastiness. It gave the dish a whole new character. It was soooo good that despite the anticipated buffet lunch – which also did not disappoint – I asked for another bowl of just the soup with chili vinegar.

Later on, I learned that this dish is considered as street food and can be sampled at food stalls in Vigan along with empanada and okoy. It’s simple food that warms the soul.

This trip was supposed to be a religious experience, spiritually. I never expected it to be a religious gastronomical experience, as well.

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When I wrote that blog entry two months ago where I declared that I will just be an Alden Richards fan from a distance, I didn’t mean to take it too literally. Like what I did today.

I’m currently in the boondocks for some work-related stuff when I’m alerted that tickets for Alden Richards’ upcoming concert will be available online. It’s quite a long and complicated story, but to put it simply: they launched it yesterday, they announced that the first 300 ticket buyers will get some extra stuff like sound check access, and they said “buy your tickets now” but online ticket selling was not available. :aargh:

I literally was constantly reloading Ticketnet since yesterday because I wanted to be part of that lucky 300. And because I was trained for it by Kpop, I know that one second may very well be one second too late. I also know that other groups have been working on their tickets for days now; being on hiatus from this fandom and being literally up in the mountains, I have to (1) double the effort, and (2) work on this on my own.

To add more to my anxiety: the task of buying tickets for the rest of Alden International lies on my shoulders. Why? Because I’m a masochist like that.

Around 11am today. We were in transit when the selling page for Alden’s concert went up on Ticketnet. I quickly fished out my card and selected our seats. Which was not an easy task because I was in transit at the boondocks, and signal was intermittent. :nailbite: My anxiety came from mixed sources: the fear that good seats might run out; that we might miss the first 300 slots; that signal might go kaput while payment is being processed. :aargh: Add to that the constant beeps from Messenger because my friends were also panicking regarding the tickets. I hope none of my travel companions were filming me because, omigad, I’m damn sure it wasn’t a pretty sight. I was definitely not a picture of calmness at that time.

Long story short, we got the tickets without any hassle, just a few short moments before the site went down. :cheer:

I should’ve been relaxing. I should be living a peaceful life. Didn’t I say I’m already retired from active fangirling? But nooooo…! I simply can’t let Alden International be left out in the cold! We may be down, but we’re not out. Yet.

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One year ago, Alden International was officially launched.

One year ago, what I considered to be the single greatest moment of my fangirl life happened.

It was certainly a tough year. We faced a lot of challenges, from simple criticism to outright bashing. We’re still facing them until now even if the group have decided to keep things low. Personally, if I analyze those 12 months, majority of it would be filled with heartbreaks, frustration, disappointment.

But the good parts? They were really, REALLY good.

A lot of ‘greatest things’ has happened since then. On a personal note, I have experienced so many things in the past year that I never thought I would get to experience as a fan. Those precious moments, while less in number, are more than enough for me to say that being with Alden International is so worth it.

More than anything, I gained new friends through AI. I gained enemies, too, but that comes with the territory. One will never be able to weed out the real ones without sorting through all that plastic.

Cheers to us, Alden International. We may be small and silent, but we’re not out just yet.

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aka. Wandering in Singapore, Part 2.

The December trip having been a make-up trip of the things I missed in July, I purposely added an extra day to allow me to explore more of Singapore. The fact that I suddenly had to do this on my own made it all the more challenging. (Interestingly enough, the succeeding Hong Kong trip was the one that was supposed to be a solo flight but the universe switched it up at the last minute.) I did not have a planned itinerary, so it’s simply wandering off to where my feet will take me. In most cases, too literally.

Armed with a loaded EZ Link card and a few suggestions from friends who have previously visited Singapore, I decided to spend the day with this itinerary in mind:

– Sentosa (mainly because I had intended to visit the Vivo City branch of Irvin’s Salted Egg Snacks :hihihi: );
– Arab St. and Hajji Lane again to catch the late afternoon scene which was said to be more interesting;
– Back to Esplanade/Jubilee Bridge/Merlion to take photos of the Marina Bay Sands skyline at sunset and at night;
– Last minute shopping at Bugis before turning in early to prepare for my morning flight the following day.

What really happened was this: I’ve just boarded the MRT at Esplanade station towards Sentosa when I got word that per real-time socmed updates, Alden and Co. were at Esplanade. At the Merlion, to be exact. My friends were egging me to go back and check them out but I was like, nah. I had intended this last day in Singapore to have some much-needed “me” time; I’ve had enough fangirling for two days and I’m still being bashed on socmed for being at the ATA (what the hell was that, really), so thank you very much.

It kinda affected my concentration, though. As I result, I ended up losing my focus quite a few times and got lost a number of times in the process. :wall: To be exact: the Singapore MRT app has been useful to me in terms of getting familiarized with the subway system. It’s quite simple to use. However, because of the unnecessary distraction, I ended up failing to take note of little details such which COLOR of the train route should I take. Therefore, what was supposed to be a 15-minute travel time from Esplanade to Harbour City became 50 minutes, with side-trips to residential areas on the side. :slaphead: Fortunately, I was not pressed for time so a little side-trip didn’t hurt that much.

Singapore 2016 - Album 2

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Sentosa: Like I mentioned earlier, I went here basically because of Irvin’s Salted Egg Snacks. :hihihi: Also, to take some rudimentary “I have been to Sentosa” photos since I wasn’t able to explore this place in July. Verdict: I’m not sure if it’s because I’m from the Philippines where beautiful beaches abound, or because I’m not a beach person in general, but I got bored. :sleep: I only stayed here for less than an hour and quickly returned to Vivo City, where I got majorly disappointed to find this sign:

Sob. :cry:

As for Arab St. and Hajji Lane, it definitely did not disappoint. :thumbup: The place really had so much more character in the late afternoon when the crowds are in.

This is also the place where I walked the most, no thanks to my inability to read maps. :slaphead:

I didn’t spend a lot of time there as I had wanted to catch the sunset at Esplanade. The thing is, I totally miscalculated everything. I went there at around 5pm, only to learn the hard way that sunsets do not occur in Singapore until around 7:30pm. :lmao: Well, it gave my feet some much needed rest after all that walking, so it’s all good.

Singapore 2016 - Album 4

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Looking back, I consider this trip as one of the best, if not the very best travel experiences I’ve had. It allowed me to see and experience things not as a tourist but as a legit traveler. I’ve learned to depend solely on myself and I came out of it in one piece. I really wish I could travel some more while I still can. Maybe I’ll make that as my bucket list from hereon.

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