Category Archives: Food

Salomon X Trail Run in Bataan, some reminders


Salomon Philippines will hold its 2015 Trail Run in Morong, Bataan on April 25. Weeks ago, I registered and got myself a pair of Speedcross 3 to break in before the race. As far as I know, this will be the first trail race in my hometown, so I got excited to join.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to run this Saturday due to an injury. I wallowed in this sad realization. For about an hour. Then I thought of coming up with this little list of reminders for my fellow trail runners who will join the race.

Leave nothing but shoeprints.

Most trail runners I know care for the environment. Why would you go through the hassle of training, traveling to trail destinations, and enduring a difficult route (with horse shit, slippery rocks, insects you don’t recognize, etc.), if you don’t love the ground you‘re allowed to tread?

If you say you don’t care much about the lovely view and you’re doing this for your ego, then leave it at the starting line. It is sad that in the past races I joined, mostly way up north of the country, there were a few runners who littered the route with energy bar wrappers. I’m not sure if they were afraid that the weight of the trash could affect their PRs.

The Salomon X Trail Run Rules state that littering or defacing of the premises shall be a ground for dismissal. As a preventive measure, we have to demand that the organizers implement this rule strictly and that this be emphasized especially before the race starts. The e-mail address is Let’s drop them a line about this.

I remember that during the Khao Yai Trail Marathon in Thailand last year, the briefer in the race kit emphasized that aside from the high fine, which was in thousands of baht, spitting at the route can kill about ten thousand elephants. The statement was effective as I kept hearing about it from fellow runners along the half-mary route. It was a commercially sponsored event and the first trail run in the area. See? Just because we all get it that they’re doing it mainly for marketing purposes, that doesn’t mean race organizers have to be so careless.

Trust me, for I have seen Morong’s beauty by car, by boat, by bicycle, by carabao-drawn cart, by old farm-bound kuliglig and by foot. (If anyone offers to lend a chopper, I’d probably resist and say we’re cutting down on fuel.) The best way to fall in love with my hometown is a pie. Since this weekend’s trail runners have been given that privilege, I hope this affair won’t leave the town with scars.


Here are some spots you might want to visit:

1. Vietnamese food joints at Barangay Binaritan. The town used to be a temporary home to refugees from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. During their stay here, the refugees were able to pass on their culinary knowledge to the people of Morong. That is why most of us have concepts of hutieu and banh mi, adjusted to local taste and available ingredients.

If you ask me where I usually go, well, I’m partial to the taste of hutieu from Aling Solly’s. Back in high school, I’d put aside a portion of my allowance so that at the end of the day, I can join my friends for a bowl of our favorite soup, best enjoyed with chili and rauram. There was free broth refill to the delight of our teenage hearts. I can attest that the taste has been consistent through the years. You have to give it a try.  

Loleng’s Hutieu-an is also in the area. The place serves Vietnamese and Filipino food. Last month, I tried their bun thit nuong, spabok (which is a known Bataan dish) and halo-halo, all in one sitting. This will be a good place to go for your recovery meal.

2. Montey’s Buko Pie. According to friends who received this default pasalubong from me, the buko pie is good as it isn’t too sweet and the coconut used tastes fresh. I like it mainly because, with clear notes on what time I’m picking up the pie, I’m sure to get it packed right out of the oven. The numbers are 0919-702-4833 and 0928-254-4936. The store is located at Barangay Sabang, a few minutes from the Anvaya Cove where the starting/finish line of the race is set.

3. Pawikan Conservation Center. This is located at Barangay Nagbalayong. I was surprised, in a rather unpleasant way, upon reading from the race website that the Center is the official camping ground of the Salomon X Trail Run. I hope effective rules will be set as to where the tents may be pitched and how the campers should behave in the area. If you’re dropping by, please make it a visit for the purposes of information and conservation. Don’t stress out the pawikans by poking them as I witnessed some tourists do in my previous visits.

4. Resorts. The organizers have partner resorts listed on the race website. In case you’re still cramming for your accommodation, there are a lot of resorts in the town. ERC Resort is at Sitio Panibatuhan. Leave me a message here if you’d like me to connect you with the owners. Bucco Bali, on the other hand, is located at Barangay Sabang. You may check their Facebook account.

Enjoy your stay. Be a responsible runner. And maybe next time, when my injured foot heals, see you at the trail!


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Filed under Food, Love, Running, Trail, Travel

2014 Finds

Here are a few of the ideas, places and products that got us in 2014. These will probably get our support and interest in the coming years.

Pikul handmade watch

My field of barley

Pikul watches

While walking inside the shops at the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre, I came across some handmade watches by Pikul Hoonkan. I got myself one that is made of maple wood and genuine leather. The barley design makes me think of two things whenever I look at the dial: that line from Sting’s Fields of Gold and one of my favorite alcoholic drinks.

My skin develops rash from wearing metal and I usually just put this on at the office, where the cold room temperature ensures my sweat and the metal will not cause irritation. Aside from the design – well, how do I say this? – you can only tell you got a good watch by testing it over time. Right now, I am happy with my affordable handmade watch. I will get other colors and designs when I go back to Bangkok or Singapore. The Instagram account to check out for this item is pikul_hoonkan.


Note from my Scout’s makers

Bags by Rubbertree

In 2014, I began to try leather products made by local designers. These days, you’ll often find me carrying a hand-cut and hand-stitched XL Scout by Bags by Rubbertree. (I’m guessing this was derived from the names of Ruben and Trina Flores, the couple behind the leather goods.) It took us a few e-mails and weeks before my order was delivered, but it was worth the wait. They got the customized pocket that I specified works perfectly. Visit

Holiday baskets by Local Love Philippines

Holiday baskets by Local Love PH

Local Love Philippines

My local travels this year included days spent in Ifugao, Baguio, Bacolod, Silay, Laguna, and Batangas. These are mostly trail running, business and class trips, which also gave me chances to explore locally made products. I would love to go around the country more in 2015, but there are budget and time constraints to deal with.

When my wallet and calendar prevent me from satisfying my craving for our local food and beverage, I’ll be relying on Local Love Philippines. The company helps us enjoy wine, snacks, jams, coffee, chocolate and other products from all over the country. These are sourced mostly by my Organic Agriculture classmate, Jacqueline Ong, and I’m sure she will be willing to tell you the stories behind the products if you’ll ask. Follow their Facebook page.

Instant pho

Instant pho from Vietnam


I was born in the rainy month of August. This year, I turned 31 in a stormy Vietnam. (The fence of the Reunification Palace was damaged by a tree felled by the heavy rains that day.) While stuck inside the Ho Chi Minh Post Office, I bought instant pho, mainly because I liked its packaging. The container is reusable and woven from a local material. Inside are the noodles, vegetables (rau), soup powder (sup bot), oil (dau) and soup powder (sup set). The label indicates that this was designed by Products Simplified. The website is I would like to have an instant La Paz batchoy packaged this way.

Lamy Vista

Lamy Vista

Lamy Vista

After months of deciding on what will be my day-to-day fountain pen, I got myself the see-through Lamy Vista. Lamy is a German brand and this pen was designed by Wolfgang Fabian. I’m still testing the writing quality of the pen. The blue Lamy ink that I use with the pen appears a bit pale. (The words on the photo above are from Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.”) So far, I am satisfied with the performance of the pen itself as it glides smoothly on my writing pads and the release of the ink is consistent.

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Filed under Accessories, Food, Travel


I was born and raised in Morong, Bataan.

My hometown was declared a special economic zone in 1997, which means investors in the area enjoy tax and other incentives. Tourism is one of the primary sources of income there, that even the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was turned into a tourist spot.

I’ve been based in Manila since 1999. But whenever people ask me if I’ve seen progress in the town, I say yes, of course.

I say yes, partly in jest, that we’ve moved forward because the kids there no longer know the taste of sea turtle egg. Then I go on to explain, more seriously, that the progress I am most glad to see is how we’ve learned to take care of the environment better.

Our town is home to the Pawikan Festival, which happens every November. Our generation may not be as lucky as our parents who experienced the joy of seeing the trees that used to line our town’s river. I still consider myself fortunate though, growing up at a time when information is easier to share across generations. Hopefully, this will help in teaching us lessons from the past.


If you haven’t been to Bataan, I suggest you take the two-hour drive from Manila and go there one weekend. Spend a night or two at one of the beach resorts there. The photo above was taken at Bucco Bali at Barangay Sabang, Morong, Bataan.


If you happen to spend time in Morong, don’t forget to try my hometown’s version of the hu tieu (Hu Tieu Nam Vang/Phnom Penh Noodle Soup). My favorite is sold at Tita Soly’s at Barangay Binaritan. There are also stores in the area where banh mi is sold. You can have your Vietnamese merienda there for less than a hundred pesos. Our town was once a settlement site for Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laosian refugees. There are still remaining marks of the site at the Bataan Technology Park.

I’m excited to see (and be part of) the reshaping of our town. There are projects already in mind, but right now, let me spend this Monday night with my bowl of hu tieu.

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Filed under Food, Life, Travel