Saturday, June 4, 2016

How Far Up North can P1,500 Bring us?

I've learned from a fellow mom and blogger that we needed to be in the sun longer hours to feel the full effects of vitamin D (20 minutes of exposure to sunlight is enough), there’s no doubt that in the same way that the cold and dark of winter or rain makes us unhappy.  It's feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder, known to a few as SAD, thanks to sunshine, it's warmth generally put us in a much better mood. 

A beach break is a great way to relax and enjoy the health benefits of the sun. Admittedly, this is more of a short-term boost, but a healthy glow makes everyone feels better and lasts for a few weeks after your trip is over.

Though I'm a typical beach bum, I know that a province boasts more than the sun and sandy beaches.  Also, I would agree to many that going far to get that vitamin D from the beach entails a big budget.  

So I'm going to break that myth.

What can be more of a challenge to Bhogs and I than to bring our kids to La Union. With our budget - less than P 5000 including a P 1500 filled gasoline tank.

The next thing I knew we were packing late in the evening, left early at 4 am and drove off to La Union.  Thanks to NLEX and TPLEX we arrived at Bauang, La Union at 8:30 am, a good time to pick grapes at the farm.

GAPUZ GRAPE FARM, Bauang, San Fernando, La Union

Not too many knew of the vineyards we have in the Philippines, I actually knew about it about two years ago.  In fact, grape farming have began decades ago, but only until last year that "Pick and Pay" your grapes have reached my radar.

Agri-tourism certainly thrives in the country, and that's how I want to help our farmers by giving them the chance to get visited and thus getting more market.  But it's the relation of the farmers to the marketers that needed to be polished and giving people more interest not only in buying their crops but eventually growing theri own someday.

Hmmm...okay, let me be honest, this may be sounding that I'm  the one truly interested, and well, I am!

Gapuz Grape Farm is owned by Danny Gapuz with the help of his brother.  A relative of the Lomboy family, known to be the King of Grapes in the country, he acquired his first batch of cuttings from the Lomboy farms and from there he started working on bigger lands to develop the growth of the Gapuz vineyards.

The life around the farm is typical of any farm land, simple.  Something I want my kids to learn about, more than having a grape farm or even picking and taking selfies at the farm.

Like any other crops, fruit trees, and plants, these vines need extra loving care, sunlight and little water but the knowledge and skill of growing this certain plant.  Their secret - vermicompost.

Aside from grapes there are other unexpecting helpers.

We only bought 2 kilos of the grapes and some cuttings for us to plant at home, we also bought some dragon fruits and guapple.

Aside from grapes, the farm also hosts a lot of dragon fruit trees.

Right at the entrance you can already see what you can bring home from the farm aside from grapes.

Here are some seedlings and grape cuttings and one of the farmers taught us how to plant the grape cuttings and how it will thrive.

Here are some points to remember before going to Gapuz Grapes Farm.

The grapes farms harvest is seasonal, so better to call first if they fruits ready to be harvested.

The most of the grapes are already reserved to their regular buyers so don't expect that you can buy by tons or by huge baskets.  When I first called to inquiry if we can do the Pick and Pay, we weren't allowed anymore due to the exceeded reservation of people wanting to do it.

So you won't get disappointed better call or viber them first, coz they only have scheduled picking seasons.  Once they have announced the Pick and Pay season, do reserve at least a month.


Address:  78 Urayong Bauang, La Union

Contact Numbers:

0977 2923 281 (Viber/SMS)
0915 778 4594
0922 770 7520
0999 714 7616
0917 896 3161

Manila Landline 662-0229


Chasing the waves at SAN JUAN, LA UNION

Villas Buenavista

Our first stop-over when we reached San Juan is the white villa hotel. 

We were enamored with the huge and lovely infrastructure even from a far.  The white washed buildings actually were marbled from top to bottom with a huge outdoor pool over-looking the South China sea.

After finding out their accommodation packages we decided not to spend time here, for now...
We would need to save up for this as a vacation destination in the future.

El Union Coffee, Urbiztondo, San Juan

Many would say that La Union is slowly becoming the Boracay of the North.  Thus, many hipster places became famous here for backpackers and surfer-wannabees.  One of the hipster destination here at Urbiztondo is this famed El Union Coffee.  They promote the third wave coffee approach.

Though this may not fill your hungry tummies, they are know for serving great coffees, they do serve paninis and waffles, great partners for their coffees.  This is another place I can't wait to try on our next visit to La Union.

Sebay Surf Central

With a fastfood breakfast on the car, we were beginning to feel the hunger pangs, so it was great finding out about the restaurant inside Sebay Surf Cenral.  The large parking space actually brought us to stop and check out the place.

Towards the beach is their grill resto and a watering hole at night.  So our lunch was right before the beach with the clean not so white sand but clean.

It was noon so the waves wasn't what we were expecting from a surf beach.

Sebay Restaurant

At Sebay, my husband was immediately offered the group menu, which was a boodle pack, said to be good for a group of 3 to 4.  However, when our food came, our eyes widened and we were like holding our breath as we watched two staff put the boodle tray on our table.

The boodle packs are customizable, you can choose from the kind of grill, veggies and pancit.  The rice serving wer actually for 5 people (5 hungry men actually).

All the same, the dishes were appetizing and very sumptuous.

Cris Par Surf School

At 12 pm, mos of the surf instructors have gone home and I was lucky to find Cris Par just below the restaurant we ate at.  He was kind enough to accept a half an hour lesson with my youngest daughter, Danica. 

The waves were perfect for begginners, specially for kids.  

An hour lesson is P 300 including the rental of surf board.  In our case we paid P 200 for an hour and a half.

In half an hour, Danica was able to get the basic info about surfing, and with 5 times (or more) of getting up the board she was able to get the hang of it.  She told me it was hard and her back pained a bit but it was fun.

Cris Par, the head teacher and owner of the joint is very accommodating and my daughter felt secured with him.  According to my daughter, he's fun to talk to and she was able to understand him easily.

Do contact him if you need one, his SMART number is 09194805217  and GLOBE is 09277029494.


It only took us 30 minutes to 45 minutes to reach Baguio, only coz we would get occasional hangups with trucks and tricycles riding along us at Naguillan Rd.

From San Juan, La Union, it's an approximate 25 to 35 kms only to reach Baguio.  So Bhogs thought of spending a night there instead of driving up to 12 midnight which might even be dangerous since he could get lousy and sleepy driving (he's the only one driving for us).

We didn't have any idea where to go, it was unplanned and I was really hoping to go back to Manila on the same day to work on my articles.

What came first to mind was Ketchup Club, a place to eat.  However, upon reaching the top of Naguilian, I found a post which directs the road to BenCab Museum so I asked Bhogs to follow it and we then engaged it in Google Map.  Then the heavy rain poured.  It became really cold and I worried that our clothes aren't enough for it.

Parking was difficult and even the ride down Asin Rd, made more difficult with the hard rain.  Only five cars can park in front.  There are parking spaces with a fee near it though.

Entrance is P 120 each, for students with ID's it's P 100.

This trendy goat will welcome you as you go down the different galleries.

The museum carries permanently the collections of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, which depicts the culture of Cordillera Mountains.

Cafe Sabel at Bencab

Bencab Museum

Address: Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet, Philippines

Operating Hours: Open daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily (except Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day) Contact number: (+63 74) 442-7165 | (+63 920) 530-1954)



Breakfast at Chocolate de Batirol

Nestled at the heart of Camp John Hay, Chocolate de Batirol continues to welcome tourists and locals with a better menu after a few years.  

So after checking out of our the house we stayed at, and buying stuff at the market, we headed here for our last look at Baguio.

It still have that country garden charm which used to entice us.

Want to see my old blog on Chocolate de Batirol? Check it here.

The bunch breakfast...

Vigan Longanisa


The cup that have me dreaming for chocolate made the traditional way, in a "batirol." Had to warn you, their chocolate is mixed with ground roasted peanuts.  Every sip is reminiscent of a bite from my favorite Italian brand chocolate-Baci.

So there, our short but sweet traveils before vacation ends and school activities begin to pile up.  It could have been even sweeter if we have our Ate Danielle and Kuya Darren with us, our two kids who were left to tend the dogs and the house.

We are planning to do this again but hoping for other venues, could you suggest other interesting places in La Union and Baguio?  Other interests or new affordable restos we can try? Do comment below so I could add them to my list.


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