Balesin Island

The next island escape on this trip is to Balesin Island, situated off the eastern coast of Luzon in the Philippines – only a short 25-minute flight from Manila. Also featuring white sands and clear blue water, Balesin is a 500-hectare island traditionally inhabited by fishermen and has been developed into a private member’s club. There is a wide variety of food outlets in the island serving Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Thai, Greek and Spanish food. We stayed at a Regency Villa which had a wide array of amenities including a pool table, ping pong table, infinity pool, and direct…

Amanpulo

A brief 70-minute flight (or 360 kilometres south) from a hangar at Manila airport takes me to the Cuyo Archipelago of northern Palawan in the Philippines. My island escape is Pamlican Island, where Amanpulo is located. A private “peaceful island” with white powdery sands, crystal clear waters, and pristine reefs – this island is extremely tranquil and serene. There are three food outlets in the island. The Beach Club offers Mediterranean cuisine. The Lagoon Club offers Japanese food for dinner and outdoor oven-baked pizzas during lunch. The Clubhouse serves Filipino and Asian dishes. I found the Lagoon Club and Clubhouse…

Mabuhay

“It’s always more Fun in the Philippines” as the travel ads say – and indeed it is! It has been five years since I last step foot in the bustling city of Manila. Far too many travelers arrive in this city only to jump on a plane to Boracay or Palawan – it’s their loss as the capital has plenty to offer.           There came a point in my visit that I simply had to stop myself from eating – as it seems that the only activity I did during the five days I was here was to…

Manila Food Scene

There is a sudden abundance of international food outlets opening in the Philippines. Ranging from patisseries from France, to gyoza and ramen shops from Japan, BBQ and KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) from Korea, and to Hainanese Chicken specialists from Singapore. The array of international food choices adds another dimension to the  ever-growing food scene in the Philippines.

Manila

“Manila can be a very discombobulated place”, according to the Lonely Planet, “for it is a collection of towns, with no definable centre.” Still, you will find lots of raw energy and fun, with genuine smiles, happy-go-lucky attitude and graciousness, in every corner. Often maligned and misunderstood — many tourists skip Manila altogether and head straight to the powdery white sand beaches of Boracay or to the underground river in Puerto Princesa, one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. Manila does have its own charm to offer — and how it has grown up in the past…