Fly to the Coffee Republic

Where good food is the capital

Picture yourself at a diner with a cool, soothing ambiance—that kind of setting where you can relax as you munch on a delectable dish and a cold delicious drink that send an electrifying satisfaction to your senses. Then, you suddenly wake up from your daydream upon the intrusion of one horrifying, dismaying thought: you’re imagining a lavish meal which you can’t afford in the first place.
But, does it always have to be that way? Not really.
In Mangaldan, Pangasinan, a small yet classy drink and dine has been satiating its customers’ craving for good food. Contrary to the notion that good food always comes at an exceedingly high price, this place has been offering drinks and dishes at a reasonably affordable amount.

Situated beside the municipal hall of Mangaldan, Coffee Republic has attracted a regular stream of customers and has been the go-to place for those who are looking for a great selection of food and drinks that don’t require them to squander a big portion of their budget.

Photo courtesy of Reginald Agsalon

Established in February, 2007, it started with offerings of different varieties of coffee and formulated various concoctions, both hot and cold, that kept alluring coffee lovers. Later on, they served pasta dishes that attracted more customers to dine out at the place.
Owned by siblings Leonard, Sheryl and Lu Liezl Olesco who all grew up with a fiery love for food, the diner has been designed with finely arranged bamboo sticks all over and relaxing dim lights complemented by a soothing, soft, sweet jazz music playing in the background. Now, whose attention would not be captured by those things?
Trying out their dishes myself with a buddy, I understood why Coffee Republic must make it to everyone’s wish list.

They first served us with their palatable Chicken Fingers. The dip-fried chicken breast fillet comes with freshly sliced potato fries and mayonnaise dip. Many people dislike chicken breast as it lacks that juicy and flavorful chicken taste everyone’s drooling over. But, you will surely love it because it oozes with just that.

Chicken Fingers
Perfect for 2-3 persons
Their Clubhouse Sandwich, on the other hand, is perfect for those who want some healthy snacks. The sandwich is composed of ham, chicken, and some lettuce complemented by potato fries cooked with the skin intact. They said that they don’t peel off the skin, for it contains nutrients.

Clubhouse Sandwich with Fries
Perfect for 2-3 persons
Their bestseller is truly the best dish they’re selling: Pork Sisig. The savory, pungent dish is not one that disappoints. Unlike other sisig dishes offered by other restaurants, Coffee Republic’s isn’t dry. Pair it with a bottle or two of an ice cold beer and boom! It instantly becomes your comfort food.

Pork Sisig
Perfect for 2-3 persons
I don’t know about you, but it’s been my first time to taste Tofu Sisig. The creamy texture of the dish and the prominent sisig flavor tickling every taste bud made me want more without the guilt feeling.

Tofu Sisig
Perfect for 2-3 persons
And to push everything down, we concluded our meal on cloud nine with a tall glass of an ice cold, sweet and heavenly Choco Chips Frappe.

Choco Chips Frappe
Perfect for a single person and a sweet, cheesy couple 😀
Good food, cool ambiance and a happy tummy—all of these for just a few bucks. Not to mention the joy of dining out and bonding with family and friends without spending a fortune.

Think Tanks. Growing up with a deep love for food as their father was a cook, siblings (from left) Leonard, Lu Liezl and Sheryl (rightmost) conceptualized on a drink and dine project, and established Coffee Republic in February, 2007 together with their mother, Diomedisa Olesco (second from right).

That, perhaps, is the result of a business founded on love and care for and among family members that are being passed on to Coffee Republic’s customers who keep coming back and inviting more people to try it out.

Coffee Republic
Poblacion, Mangaldan, Pangasinan (beside the municipal hall)

For reservations and inquiries, and to avail of their catering services, contact Coffee Republic through the following numbers: 0915-443-5320, 0932-652-2927, 0908-381-2222

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More than just a paradise

Why you should visit Bolinao and visit it NOW

People have talked and written about Bolinao countless times. In the Internet alone, numerous bloggers have shared their experiences and unforgettable moments in this dazzling town in the province of Pangasinan.

Getting bombarded with stories about the place, perhaps it is time that you finally pack your bags and visit the town.

Taking public transport, you will reach Bolinao in approximately five hours and a half from Manila. Bus trips from terminals in Pasay City and Cubao, Quezon City are available daily. Just remember to check the schedules while planning your trip.
Surely, though, your trip will be shorter if you are to use a private vehicle. Just make it sure to thoroughly check your car or SUV before hitting the road as a precaution against inconveniences.
What to expect
You will not be staying forever in Bolinao, so, just like what we always say when travelling, “make the most out of it!” Explore every corner and discover more adventures than what others have unearthed.

Upon arrival on the town proper, do not forget to visit St. James the Great Parish, a church built by the Augustinians in 1609. Some parts of the building had been restored like the belfry, but the walls have been left untouched.
The facade of St. James the Great Parish

A peak inside the centuries-old church
According to a staff of the tourism office, live rocks from the sea were used in building the church. That explains the sprouting plants from the façade.
A few yards from the parish, to its left side, is an underground tunnel built during the Spanish Era. Called the Spanish Well, it stretches all the way to the church—some sort of a secret passage. Locals believe that it ends on the sea as it is filled with water.
If these sights pique your interest in Bolinao’s history, and if you are loquacious enough, talk to some locals and ask them to tell you more about the town. Knowing about past stories of a place and understanding its culture are keys to being able to move around comfortably and enjoying your stay.
These may be considered side trips, but they are of equal importance as your main getaway–definitely worth your time.
The highlight of your Bolinao adventure is of course on its beach particularly in Brgy. Patar, a 15- to 20-minute drive from the town proper where tricycle cabs can be hired.
Reaching paradise
Lining up the road to Patar are resorts, inns and cottages with rooms that can be rented for an overnight stay.
Prices on budget resorts range from P1,000 to P3,000 which depends on the size and capacity of the rooms. During the peak season, however, prices are twice higher than the original.
But, mid- to high-end resorts offer fixed rates which you can check out on their websites.
Patar White Sand Beach, the most talked about and most visited, can be found on the far end of Patar. Souvenir items like tees and key chains are sold on the area.

A public beach though it is, be warned that you practically pay for almost everything and every move that you make around. Expect fixed rates for parking, use of toilet and shower room, and cottages.

This part can be found at Bing’s Beach Resort where accommodation is very affordable. For as low as P1,500, you can get an air-conditioned room for four. Prices, however, double during the peak season. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
Photo by Khrix Orpilla
But, you will never mind these fees once you see the sparkling clear water of the beach and the inviting waves hitting the shore.
Watching over
At the peak of Punta Piedra Point, watching over the vast West Philippine Sea, stands the majestic Cape Bolinao Lighthouse built in 1905 by Filipino, British, and American engineers.
Even though it looks abandoned, the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse stands majestically on Punta Piedra Point, catching each tourist in utter awe. Photo by Khrix Orpilla

The 30.78-meter lighthouse, the second tallest in the Philippines next to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Ilocos Norte, has been an iconic trademark of Bolinao and it is another must visit in every tourist’s itinerary.
On the view deck at Cape Bolinao, your jaw will drop at the sight of the vast West Philippine Sea and the hazy horizon meeting the clear blue sky. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
Bathing in caves
Just when you are thinking that you have enjoyed everything in Bolinao, the caves will go screaming, “No!” Your Bolinao getaway will never be complete without visiting its three caves namely Enchanted Cave, Cindy’s Cave and Wonderful Cave.

The enticing crystal clear water of the Enchanted Cave will make each living cell in your body shiver as you plunge into it. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
An added amenity at the Enchanted Cave is this man-made pool where you may also take a plunge. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
You may also bring some snacks and share them with the whole family and with your travel buddies in the cottages. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
Wonderful Cave. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
Cindy’s Cave which, for me, was a bit creepy. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
These, however, are not the types that you can explore. They are just domes with crystal clear water which you can plunge into.
Since the caves are nestled on private properties, appropriate fess should be paid accordingly.
The inviting serenity inside the caves will build up calmness in your being. Just brace yourself for the cold water because upon touching your skin, it will surely make every nerve in your body shiver.
Happy tummy
Part of every vacation is food and Bolinao will absolutely not disappoint you.
Seafood restaurants and other diners offering Western and Filipino cuisines are all over Bolinao.
Whether you want to enjoy the serene and picturesque Balingasay River while eating on a floating restaurant, or indulge in your seafood on a backyard-garden set up, the town will clearly make your tummy happy.
Have your seafood overload in Bolinao and make that tummy the happiest in the world. Photo by Khrix Orpilla
One delicacy you must never forget to taste is binongey, a bamboo rice cake. It is made of glutinous rice (malagkit) cooked in a mixture of coconut milk and sugar in a bamboo shaft.
You can find vendors selling this treat outside St. James the Great Parish.
The hustle-and-bustle of city life and stress emanating from work are good reasons to take a break and enjoy nature. A getaway in a faraway place is one effective breather which will help your mind relax and your body regain its strength.
In a place like Bolinao where there is an abundance of natural wonders to enjoy, your spirit and passion will definitely get replenished.
Published on FOCUS.

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Pangasinan Food Tour 2014: Binmaley

Fish from the neighborhood

Fish is a good source of proteins. It is even a good substitute to red meat as it does not contain cholesterol that aggravates hypertension.
Talking about fish, an establishment in Binmaley, Pangasinan focuses on processing a fish variety which is abundant in the province—bangus (milkfish).
When we visited the Binmaley Fish Processing Plant, we were delighted to see the workers (most of them female) busily packing products and preparing their next batch of merchandise. Upon entering, we were much happier to be accorded with warm welcome as shown by their genuine smiles and…the dishes that was waiting for us on the table.
Bangus siomai was an instant hit among the foodies. It’s a party in the mouth as its meaty texture and heavenly taste tickle the taste buds.

Rellenong Bangus
The number of products being prepared and the number of workers proved just how successful the business has been. But, the Binmaley Fish Processing Plant isn’t just an enterprise; it is a venture with an advocacy—the advocacy to provide jobs, to empower women and to contribute to the overall development of the community.
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Don’t let your vacation get screwed up

Tips for a great getaway

You’re excited about your trip to some faraway place with tourist attractions that will surely get your eyes feasting and your heart jumping with glee. But, are you sure you’re well prepared? Check out this infographic which will provide you with some tips before finally picking your bag up and getting your ass out to the road.
I dearly hope that helps you. Plan your trip well, so you’ll have a great time rolling around. Bon voyage!

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Blissful night and day on Cabalitian

Experience paradise on this island

I didn’t experience rest right after graduation. In fact, a few days before the last of my college life, I began working and practicing my craft.

And since my schedule at my job was hectic as that was the campaign period for the 2013 midterm elections when we had to do a series of coverage, I needed a stress buster.
I was really hopeful I could get that perfect relief from the hustle and bustle the election season ensued. So, when it came, I didn’t have second thoughts even though it meant spending a part of my first salary. (Well, I’ve been known to be a stingy person.)
Cabalitian getaway
Over a year ago, my friends went to a beautiful island in Sual. The trip was a few days after the end of my third year in college. I failed to join them because my budget was scarce that time. When we met with one another again in a get together, they euphorically shared the experience on the marvellous island and how much they enjoyed their getaway. I felt envious and wished that one day, I would get the chance to be captured in wonder and be amazed with the place.

LEAVING THE ISLAND Boats line up the shore, waiting for guests leaving the island. You will, however, find yourself hesitant to leave because of Cabalitian’s natural beauty.

It is called Cabalitian Island. The trip may last for one hour and 45 minutes to two hours via public transport and a maximum of one and a half hours if you use a private car. From Dagupan City, take a Victory Liner bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales. The route that passes through Domalandan in Lingayen makes the trip shorter.
Alight from the bus when you reach the coast along the national highway in Sual, about a kilometer before the town proper. There you may rent a boat which will take you to Cabalitian. The price may vary according to your agreement with the boatman, but regular rates may still apply.
It is advisable that you take the boat before late afternoon, so you won’t have to endure a scary, rocky and wavy 30-minute ride to the island. Believe me, it will freak the hell out of you. I experienced it myself on our ride back.
Don’t even sail at dusk unless the sea is calm. Otherwise, when night falls and darkness engulf you amidst huge waves, you’ll freak out all the more.
Well, in other words, don’t do what we did. We sailed at dusk (because of our friends who arrived almost eight hours late) and arrived on the island when it was night time. Good thing, the sea was calm, so we were relaxed the whole trip.
Upon arrival, we felt our stomachs complaining of hunger, so we prepared our supper and got all set for a sumptuous dinner together.
Here’s another tip: make sure that you’ve got everything that you need for food preparation. Unless you’re confident enough to borrow almost all cooking and eating utensils from the cottage’s caretaker, you could only get by if all you’ve got are canned and ready to eat goods that no longer require you to use those cooking skills that you have.
Falling in love with the place
The very first thing you’ll love about Cabalitian is its pristine water. It was already dark when we arrived, but the light coming from the cottages enabled us to see how clear the water was. It will surely give you that clean feeling when you plunged into the cool water.
After a hearty meal and happy chit chat, we changed into our swimming outfit and off we went to enjoy the water where we crazily played and enthusiastically swam around (or few of us did while the rest just pretended to).
A dip in the cold water under the starry night sky and cool evening may make every living cell in your body shiver, but you’ll definitely enjoy it because you won’t worry about getting sun burned.
The second thing that you’ll love about it is even if you’re ten meters away from the shore, you’ll still find yourself only three fourths deep into the water. If you aren’t a good swimmer, but still want to go farther from the shore, it won’t be scary at all.
After getting our heart’s fill, we prepared for a warming and comforting sleep and tucked ourselves in.
Best sunrise
I strongly suggest that you spend the night on Cabalitian Island because a precious and sparkling fresh scenery will be greeting you in the morning.
Spend a few days on Cabalitian and if you’re not a morning person, then you’ll surely turn into one. You will always love to wake up in the morning and witness the gem-like morning sun peeking atop the hill, gradually extending its glorious warm rays to the sky like gentle hands touching your delicate skin.
GOLDEN SUNRISE Waking up early in the morning will surely be a habit when you live in this place. How can you ever resist this lovely and picturesque view of the morning sun coming out?
Looking at the sun slowly rising to the sky that fades from tangerine to clear whitish blue will undeniably make your eyes sparkle with joy and your heart fall in love with another wonder of nature.
It was the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen so far. Just staring at it while sitting on the shore hit by calm and sweet sounding waves made me grateful of God’s creation.
The beautiful sunrise is one of the highlights of Cabalitian, something you never want to miss. A good picture of it will surely make you fall in love with Cabalitian Island and seeing it for yourself will unsurprisingly make you stay.
That morning, I found myself admiring the place even more. I trained my eyes around and happily examined the island from point to point.
There’s a hill covered in lush green previously blocking the rising sun. The shore is lined with cottages that are up for rent for guests. The grainy sand is brownish in color, that kind which you can put into an aquarium (that’s not a suggestion though).
There are boats docked along the shore, waiting for a trip to the coast on the other end of the sea. The bluish water on the horizon was meets the nearly clear blue morning sky.
I was there, sitting outside the big cottage, ogling at and savouring nature like I’d never done it before.
The cave
After our delicious and mouth-watering breakfast, we headed to another highlight on the island—the cave. The area is dotted with picturesque rock formations—those kinds that you see on television and films—and made up more exciting by giant waves hitting the rocks.
ON THE ROCKS Rock formations dot the area near the cave and the clear water around them entices guests to take a dip into the cool water.

With the sun getting higher, a splash of cool water is a welcome relief to the hot temperature. The cave’s mouth is blocked by a stone bed where you can find stones of various sizes and shapes. Lying on it, the waves rocked me back and forth.
There were deep parts and some deeper portions where we were very careful because of the slippery rocks we were stepping on.
After playful moments on the cave, we walked our way back to the cottage for lunch. Once again, we admired the scenery we had passed by and repeatedly exclaimed how beautiful it was.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on swimming in the sea which turned us into human pumpkins because of the sunburn it caused. Well, I couldn’t blame myself for my overpowering desire to take a dip in the water after many years since my first time on the beach.
Leaving the island…for now
It was nearly dusk when we left the island and headed back towards the coast, sailing in the midst of strong waves hitting our boat. That was one hell of a ride, but it still felt like I enjoyed the experience. That’s something you don’t live with every day.
My skin was sore and red, but the cool memories were a neutralizer. It made me wonder when I would be back on Cabalitian Island, another potential tourist destination. I just hope that when it develops into one, it stays in its natural beauty and doesn’t get destroyed by undisciplined tourists. Taking care of the virgin island is much more important than the boost it will give to Sual’s booming economy.
I left the island happy about the fulfilling experience. And I’ll definitely be back.

Published on FOCUS (, a corporate news magazine established in Pangasinan.

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