Friday, April 06, 2012

Viaje del Sol - Cultural / Food Trip

Last March 31 my aunt and her friends have already planned their daytrip to Laguna and Quezon and when they needed more warm bodies to bring aside from their kids; my mom, me, and my cousin are the instant tag-alongs. My cousin initially wanted to just watch "Mirror Mirror" but it's not everyday you can have a different kind of trip (or an adventure). It's much easier to just go to the mall or cinema and purchase a ticket. If you have free 2 hours or so, fwam. Done deal. So we're going for the cultural and food trip instead of the movie date, oh boy, can't wait to be cultured like a pearl!

All photos are taken from Zumi in Monochrome (soft) filter. I was itching to switch back to my original favorite - the Vivid filter but hey, I must optimize the other options made available!

We left home around 5:30am (no sleep for me) first to meet the rest of the wanderers.

Simple (art) itinerary:
Casa San Pablo (where we also had our breakfast)
Museo ni Cipra
Ugu Bigyan (where we had lunch)
Patis Tesoro's Garden Cafe
Collette's (for last stop of pasalubongs)

Casa San Pablo is a bed-and-breakfast hidden gem in San Pablo, Laguna. My mom and my aunt mentioned they remember Hidden Valley in the setting. Casa San Pablo has a wooden bridge, a pool near the entrance, and manicured lawns with pine trees scattered around the place. The setting is humble and very peaceful.

We had our breakfast here and the owner/manager, Boots Alcantara, is very sociable. First time to try hot chocolate with pinipig and then you eat it like cereals. Well the place is their family's land and the memorable line he mentioned while he was sharing the history of their place was, "So I asked my lola if I could borrow 1 hectare -" and of course we really had to interrupt, "You just BORROW 1 hectare?" They are landed. They have great interiors and there's an evident homey feeling. It's a great place when you want a quiet place to stay at. There are 18 rooms you can rent with different themes/designs and this place is good for teambuildings, retreats, and other group-oriented activities. One thing though, I didn't check the rates. Boohoo.

Museo ni Cipra has a PHP50 entrance fee. Dr. Cipra (a licensed dentist) at 86 years old can still drive around in her yellow Honda Jazz and she still makes art in an almost-daily basis. Modern art of patterns and colors (oh sorry, Zumi only got it in B/W). Don't ask me if they allow taking of photos inside. There are around 3 houses full of her works, different patterns, and welded metal.

Cipra's work of art.
Next stop would be Ugu Bigyan's place. Augusto "Ugu" Bigyan is a famous clay potter. His works can be usually found in the homes of art enthusiasts. To have lunch in his place, you have to place your order and reservation the day before. The thing is, you don't have to pay anything beforehand. Your order will influence their food for the next day. Minimum of 10 people to make a reservation, though, but the food is superb! I don't know, we were not that hungry yet from our breakfast at Casa San Pablo but I ate a lot. Their puso ng saging is amazing! It has that grilled-after-taste which was so good I asked the server (who also waves around a leaf to prevent the flies from attacking your food) if there's meat (pork/chicken/beef) included. He shook his head no and I was tempted to stuff the food inside my bag. It was that good.

Jars, mugs, cups, saucers, etc. for sale.
We also tried the hibiscus tea at Ugu Bigyan's, which as manong mentioned, is gumamela tea (which tastes like Twining's Fruit Tea - Strawberry and Mango). Mom and I were kidding that maybe our mouth would froth from the gumamela, referencing that the flower is used to make home-made bubbles solution. You crush the flower, add Tide or some detergent powder, mix with water, dip your blower, and tadah! Bubbles!!

Carlitos' open work area. He has a lot of (art) books
and a really neat swing/chair.
Next stop was Carlitos Ortega's place. He's a brass sculptor who gave us a short lecture on art and philosophy. I also pinched my nose to prevent blood from gushing. He doesn't take photos of his works because he said he doesn't want to be stuck to the past works as he'll keep on referencing it on his current work. And he has a big place, too. Artists in Laguna and Quezon are really landed...and rich.

Carlito explaining the process how he makes brass sculptures.
And the art and philosophy behind it.
We also had rice coffee with brown sugar (I have forgotten how brown sugar tastes like as I've been consuming just sugar-free sweeteners for a long time). So that's why it tastes different! Rice coffee. Hmm.

Last stop would be Patis Tesoro's Garden Cafe (as we didn't have enough time for Collette's factory anymore). Since we're still full and pressed for time, we just went directly to the shop inside the cafe. I saw a malong similar to what DJ gave me and it was PHP400 there. Dang. There were a lot of items for sale as well but all my mom bought were pasalubongs like vinegar, jam, etc. And oh, we also stopped by Collette's just because you can't go to Laguna or Quezon without bringing home a buko pie. No pie, no proof.

Malongs and sarongs for sale in the shop.
I really need to one-up my art knowledge. I was able to ride the philosophical references of Carlitos but when he asked, "who's your favorite Filipino artist?" I didn't want to be a sell-out and mention common names but I'm still too ignorant to be "hipster" though. A day trip full of beautiful places, it gave me the simple joy of discovering new things (and new food) without going too far from the comforts of Manila (nor going to the beach because it's the usual out-of-town trip).

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