Monday, June 27

2600: Beguiling Baguio | Explore

Baguio is synonymous to so many things: pine trees, the Summer Capital of the Philippines, strawberry taho and yes the place where broken hearted people escape thanks to that Angelica-JM movie. I may or may not have liked that movie, and it wasn't the movie that lead me this far off North. It is safe to say that I had a mental crisis and I needed to fix it - fast! Woke up pretty early, took a bath, dressed up and packed an overnight bag and hopped on a bus.

There's something with Baguio that makes the long travel truly worth it. How every mile we drove away, the more things became clear to me. I found peace from looking out into the passing buildings. Did I felt a sense of freedom that I was not bound to anything - no responsibilities, ergo no problems? I threw adulting out the window when I boarded the bus. It was reckless sure, it was out of character and I told myself that I needed this. In between tears and laughter, I made it unscathed - barely. 
FTW! Blog, zhequia.blogspot.com, #FTWtravels, #FTWblog, #beguilingBaguio #FTWgoesto2600Baguio is utterly enchanting. Mountains of verdant lands stretch as far as the eyes can see. The cold breeze crisp and clean, a relief from the overly polluted Manila air. I felt rather small in this huge place, towering pine trees with dew drops and happy smiling people willing to help someone who looked rather lost. With only 48 hours to spend, I had set a plan to visit as many places as my energy, my shoes and my money will take me. There were 3 things I was sure to do: explore, eat and ukay! That is in no chronological order.

Explore

First, Mines View Park with the help of Google Maps and amazingly hospitable locals, I reached Mine's View pretty early in the day. Just a brief jeepney trip away from Session Road, you know you are there where you see a throng of pasalubong centers and a huge gate.
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Entrance is free. At the observation deck, unfolding your eyes is the panoramic view of Benguet's gold and copper mines. This is where you can find that German Shepherd your friend posted in social media which does not come cheap at Php100 with unlimited photos though. On my way out, I bought a Juniper plant at only Php50.
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The Mansion
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Constructed at the instance of William Cameron Forbes following the design of William E. Parsons, as part of the Burnham Plan for Baguio, 1908. Inspired by the City Beautiful Movement, venue of the special session of the second Philippine Legislature, 1910. Destroyed during the war, 1945. Rehabilitated, 1947. Venue of the UN Economic Commission of Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), 1947; The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 1948 and the First Meeting of the Southeast Asian Union (SEAU) known as the Baguio Conference of 1950. Summer residence of American Governors-General 1908-1935 and later of Philippine Presidents from Manuel L Quezon to the present.
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Entrance is unfortunately prohibited but you can check out the gate whilst eating strawberry taho. The Mansion's elaborate main gate is said to be a replica of that of London's Buckingham Palace.

Wright Park

Wright Park is fronting the main gate of the Mansion and features a shallow elongated rectangular body of water known as "Pool of Pines". Best to walk with friends and also a great area for jogging. If you walk far enough to the gazebo you can see a wide stairway made of stones that descend to an area where ponies are rented out.
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Camp John Hay

Hailing a taxi to Camp John Hay was the best decision I have made on this trip. Not only was it a steep trek up but it was inaccessible to any form of transportation other than cab or private vehicles. Camp John Hay is a 690-hectare property which was turned over to the Philippine government in July 1st, 1991. The space has a 5,330 yard, 18 hole, par 68 golf course which is the best in the country. Around the complex are beautiful gardens, picnic areas, parks, an amphitheater and hiking winding through the hills with pine trees all over.
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Oh Baguio, you make me want to come back.

2600 Series

Monday, June 20

Datu Puti Adobo Movement 2016

How much do you love your Adobo?
In celebration of the cultural gastronomic heritage that is the Adobo, NutriAsias Datu Puti put Pinoys to task in finding and feting the best adobo recipes at the recent Datu Puti Adobo Challenge held last Saturday, June 11, at the Mercato Centrale food market in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

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Co-presented with Mercato Central and Our Awesome Planet, The Datu Puti Adobo Challenge was part of the thrust to take the Datu Puti Adobo Movement a step further this 2016. Launched in 2015, the Datu Puti Adobo Movement was created to push for Adobo to be our pambansang ulam. It is a movement that hits close to home because Adobo is a dish that is as personal, as it is national. Each household has its own signature Adobo, and the shared flavor defines families, identifies us as Filipinos, and boosts us as a nation.  This event is also supported by partners Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
The push for Adobo has reached much acclaim and has even been echoed by efforts in Congress. In fact, Bohol First District Representative Rene Relampagos filed House Bill 3926 in 2014, which sought to formally declare it as the national dish. The Datu Puti Adobo Movement has drawn support for the bill through a petition since the launching of the advocacy in June 2015.
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The Adobo Challenge
To get people more involved in the Datu Puti Adobo Movement this 2016, the advocacy group mounted the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge and gathered Mercato Centrale’s veteran home-based cooks to create their own special Adobo dish. Participating food vendors of Mercato Centrale prepared adobo dishes using any type of meat and vegetable, and were marinated in or cooked with at least two of the three main Datu Puti products: vinegar, soy sauce, and patis (fish sauce). The top 14 entries were selected based on various criteria, including: creativity of concept, which looks at the story behind the dish as well as originality, branding and cooking technique; innovation, noting the use of unique special ingredients and Datu Puti products; and Philippine culinary heritage, including how it adopts and represents regional cooking styles.
Mercato Centrale was truly the right venue to celebrate this culinary heritage and mount the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge. The Mercato Centrale food fair is the go-to destination of urban foodies. Finding its home on 7th avenue and 25th street (across The Forum and in front of the “Between the Lines” art mural) in the heart of the BGC business district, this fab food fair happening every Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. has earned the disctinction of being a hub of culinary experiences. It is a venue for both comfort food cravings and fresh gastronomic finds all prepped by budding food entrepreneurs. During the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge, some select Mercato vendors added Adobo to their usual fare, and the foodies were all in for awesome renditions of the national comfort fave.
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Up Dharma Down playing the crowd's favorite OPM Hits.
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 Ebe Dancel rocking with the crowd.
The Winning Adobo, Atbp. 
Hosted by a familiar foodie himself, Tonipet Gaba, the feast was made even more festive with musical performances by homegrown talents UpDharma Down and Ebe Dancel. It was truly a treat to see both culinary and entertainment talents back up the Adobo initiative. As guests were treated to aromatic flavors and local OPM, Pinoy pride was truly in the air.
Among the participants, the Top 3 among the entries wowed the crowd with their inspired versions of the dish. Based on criteria that took into account taste, presentation, story, and heart, three Mercato vendors were named as the winners of the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge. And based on on-the-spot voting by the Mercato foodies, one was hailed as the People’s Choice.
The big winners of the night were:
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First Place: The Oinkery’s Pugon Smoked Pork Adobo. Pork shoulder pugon-smoked for 8 hours, glazed with a rich Cebu-style adobo sauce and garnished with fresh manggang hilaw.
First place: The Oinkery
Inspired by Cebu’s method of cooking lechon, The Oinkery roasts their pork meat inside a traditional pugon giving it that distinct smoky taste.  Matthew combines the finished product with his sister’s Cebu-style adobo sauce and garnishes it with fresh green mangoes on the side. Having been slow-cooked for a total of eight hours, the meat is guaranteed to be soft and juicy with every bite.
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Second Place: Dayrit's Pork Adobong Laing Pinangat won the 2nd place in Datu Puti Adobo Challenge.
Second place: Dayrit's
DISH NAME: Pork Adobong Laing Pinangat
DESCRIPTION: Two Filipino favorites, Adobo and Laing, in one unique and flavorful dish.
Pork Adobong Laing Pinangat – that’s two of the famous Filipino favorites, adobo and laing, combined in one extraordinary dish. Dayrit’s 40 years of experience in creating sumptuous heritage home-cooked meals is very evident with their entry for The Adobo Challenge 2016.   According to Chef Miguel Dayrit, their version of the classic adobo recipe is different from the rest because it combines the strong flavors of two Pinoy viands to create an outstanding dish. This Bicolandia inspired concoction is a fusion of the creamy, hot and spicy and the sour and salty trademarks of laing and adobo respectively. 
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Third Place: Bakmi Nyonya’s classic Filipino adobo infused with Indonesian spices and served with Sambal wowed the judges and won 3rd place at the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge.
Third place: Bakmi Nyonya
DISH NAME: Babi Kekap Adobo Nyonya
DESCRIPTION: Classic Filipino adobo infused with Indonesian spices. Served with Sambal.
Lucy of Bakmi Nyonya, one of the well-known food vendors in Mercato Centrale, reinvents the Pinoy classic adobo and incorporates her Indonesian-style of cooking to come up with a unique entry to the Adobo Challenge 2016.  This delicate pork adobo treat is mixed with secret Indonesian spices, cooked in soy sauce and vinegar and served with the classic sambal.
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People's Choice Award: Lariza’s Seafood Adobo is a mixture of mussels, prawns and crabs stirred in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce, garlic, onion, pepper and finished off with cheese on top to add a creamy, tangy taste. It also won the People’s Choice award in the Datu Puti Adobo Challenge.
People’s Choice Award: Lariza's
DISH NAME: Seafood Adobo
DESCRIPTION: A mix of crab, shrimp and mussels cooked adobo style and topped with cheese.
Lariza’s, another well-known food vendor in Mercato Centrale shares their expertise in creating a unique dish for the Adobo Challenge 2016.  Their very own “Seafood Adobo” is a mixture of mussels, prawns and crabs stirred in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce, garlic, onion, pepper and finished off with cheese on top to add a creamy, tangy taste. Tess Gonzales, the proud owner of Lariza’s knew that her opponents would stick to the usual pork or chicken adobo, so she decided to come up with something edgy. With her “Seafood Adobo”, she hopes to motivate Filipinos to be more daring and “adobofy” fresh catch from the sea as an alternative to the usual adobo recipes.

All Adobo winners were awarded start-up funds in cash, so they could include their winning dishes in the regular Mercato menu. The People’s Choice awardee also received P3,000 worth of Datu Puti goods. With these latest initiatives and the warm response of urban foodies, the Datu Puti Adobo Movement has definitely made strides in rallying more people behind the nation’s ulam of choice.
Interested parties may still support the Datu Puti Adobo Movement by signing the petition at www.adobomovement.com or at this link from Change.Org