Archive | Dipolog


Big Bites Burger

Posted on 15 December 2008 by Flisha

This is a guest post from my boyfriend Gim. Here to talk about his favorite pastime: good eats. – Flisha

I looove burgers. I especially like the meaty, juicy ones. Not the paper-thin slices that they serve at the school canteen or at the 3M burger stand beside the plaza in Dapitan; although these paltry snacks would sometimes do if I were really desperate for something to eat. The former ’cause it’s dirt cheap and the latter ’cause it’s the only fastfood joint open 24/7 in Dapitan.

No, these are not the burgers I prefer. According to a friend of mine, they’re made of cheapie-patties. A nearly transparent circle of meat that’s put in between bread just so you could call it a burger.

No, the ones I like are the ones that make you go “mmmmm!” with every bite. Like the burgers in Big Joe’s in Dipolog. Or more recently, the ones in Big Bite Burger House located beside the Catribo Complex here in Zamboanga City.

We (Flisha and I) visited the place yesterday on a tip from a classmate. And true enough, the burgers were scrumptious! I got the cheeseroom burger while she got the rodeo burger. (Sorry for the blurred pics! I was too excited to focus.)

Although the patties themselves were not as thick as I wanted them to be (but considerably thicker than the average burger patty), it was as juicy as can be with just a hint of smoke and charcoal, a result no doubt of the charcoal grill used in cooking the patties.

This isn’t how they normally cook their patty. They usually do it on an electric griller. But for an additional five pesos ($0.10), they prepare your patty in an honest to goodness charcoal grill. The mushroom and cheese in my burger as well as the fried onion ring in hers made for a delicious filling. So the next time you get that burger craving, be sure to pop in at Big Bite’s Burger.

Come to think of it, I wonder if using the charcoal grill is actually energy efficient?

Big Bites Burger can be found beside Catribo Complex along Governor Alvarez St, Zamboanga City.



Best Restaurant in Dipolog

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Flisha

It’s Grandma’s Best, hands down.

In fact, I think it’s the best restaurant in Zamboanga del Norte, and after tasting their Squid Aligue Spaghetti, I’m tempted to say it’s the best restaurant in all of Philippines. Except that I haven’t visited all of Philippines yet.

Grandma’s Best is hidden in a residential part of Dipolog, which makes it a bit hard to find, as coming from Dapitan, Gim and I had to navigate through many roads just to find the elusive little canteen of a restaurant.

There is nothing to boast about the facade of Grandma’s Best, as it looks like an ordinary carenderia. The tables are simple rectangular plastic tables covered with cheaplooking cloth, the chairs are uncomfortable monoblock plastic white chairs, the walls are unadorned except for a few paintings here and there.

Service is nothing special. The waitresses look like that spinster aunt of yours who’s looking after your house while you’re gone (in her pink shirt and jeans). Water is available, but you have to get it yourself in the water dispenser at the back of the room.

But I’m not dissing this wonderful little restaurant. I’m simply amazed that a restaurant that looks so ordinary that it can easily be mistaken for a canteen (unless you happen to glance at the fridge that contains all of their rich-looking desserts) can serve such wonderfully fantastically delicious and divine dishes.

Grandma’s Best dishes I’ve tried and I swear are to die for:

Squid Aligue Spaghetti (Php80)

This scrumptious dish is soooo rich you’ll want to come back everyday to Grandma’s Best for a retaste. It’s filled with squid rings and pasta mixed in a rich and creamy sauce of sinful aligue (crab fat), topped with loads of cheese and freshly cut spring onion. It’s a disservice to call this dish “spaghetti” because it resembles nothing like spaghetti, but more like pasta for the gods, it is that rich.

Lengua (Php120)

I have always loved lengua (literally means tongue, but as a dish it means tongue of cow), and when I saw this dish in the menu, I ordered it right away. The dish I was served did not disappoint me in any way (except that it was served in a rectangular plastic container, but ah who cares if the food tastes great, huh?). The lengua was very soft, and swimming in a bowl of richly creamy mushroom sauce, and bursting with the dark, deep taste of beef. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

Beef Stroganoff (Php100)

You can take this with rice, or with pasta. Gim ordered this dish, and he chose pasta. I had only a few bites of this but I can say with all my heart I wish we had ordered two of these so I could have eaten a whole dish on my own! It may look like squid aligue spaghetti, but tastes nothing like it. It’s soft, tender beef mixed with creamy pasta topped with spring onions.

Apple Pie

This dessert is definitely one of the best I have ever experienced. My mom bakes the best apple pies I’ve ever tasted, and I was shocked to find out this pie we had just bought was even better! The best part about this pie is the delightfully crumbly upper crust, which tastes faintly of cinammon and confectionary sugar, and the underside covered with lovely apple sauce. Inside of the cake are apple slices which taste heavenly. The normally strong taste of apple is subdued and the apple slices are soft and tender, just the way I like it. The whole minipie is topped with cheese, and the serving is good for two. This dessert is a must-try if you’re ever going to eat at Grandma’s Best.

Lastly, I also recommend their Roast Beef (Php110), however I don’t have pictures of that since I ate it the first time around, when I wasn’t bringing a camera. (It tastes a lot like lengua.)

More pictures of the above dishes:

Grandma’s Best dishes I’m looking forward to sampling in the very very near future:

Cheese Lumpia (Php55)
Chili con Carne (Php75)
Garlic Mushroom (Php65)
Seafood BBQ (Php120)
Seafood Supreme (Php125)
Thai Fried Rice (Php100)
Pistachio Cake Slice (Php55)
Trouffle Supreme Whole (Php380)



Travel Zamboanga to Dapitan

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Flisha

To travel Dapitan, Zamboanga (Philippines) and vice versa, you can go three ways: by air, land and sea.

Via Air

The safest option is, of course, via air. But as there’s no available direct flight from Zamboanga to Dipolog (but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), you would have to fly from Zamboanga to Cebu, then Cebu to Dipolog via Cebu Pacific. From Dipolog airport (do a little bit of shopping in Dipolog if you need to, you won’t be able to do it in Dapitan), you can take a tricycle straight to your destination in Dapitan for an exorbitant fee of Php150. Alternatively, you can walk to the street right outside of the airport, flag down a passing (not waiting) tricycle and get a ride to the bus terminal for only Php7. Then get on an Evergood bus and it will take you to Dapitan for Php20.

Via Sea

If you choose to go via sea, make sure it’s not the rainy season (August – December) because boats tend to capsize around this time of the year. If you have to, bring a vest and a snorkel. (I’m not kidding.) A little ferry from GP Lines travels from Zamboanga to Dapitan and vice versa, and costs less than Php1000 per passenger. The length of the trip is usually around 24 hours. From the port of Dapitan, you can take a tricycle to your destination for some exorbitant fee like Php200 (make sure to haggle heavily to lower the price!).

Via Land

The most common option for people traveling from Zamboanga to Dapitan is to take the bus. A one-way trip from Zamboanga to Dipolog on an airconditioned bus costs about Php400, while a non-AC bus costs Php300. From the Dipolog bus terminal, switch to the Evergood bus which will take you to Dapitan.

Via Stupid

The crazy and lifethreatening way to travel from Zamboanga to Dapitan is by motorcycle. It’s a four hour trip to the “nearby” city of Ipil, then another five hours to Dapitan. And that’s if you don’t stop periodically along the way because your butt is hurting so bad you want to kill your boyfriend for ever suggesting the trip as a “joyride”.

However, there are some nice spots along the way that you just have to stop and take a picture of, because. Like, for example, a rainbow over the ocean. Sometimes, a rainbow is just a rainbow. But when you have travelled for over two hours in the pouring rain on a motorcycle wearing a bright pink plastic trashbag that you bought for twenty pesos from a fisherman, got mud splattered all over your favorite green cottonskinned backpack and staining your pretty blue rubber shoes, and are carrying a large duffel bag about 10 kilos worth of rainsoaked garments on one side, your laptop and your backpack hanging from your aching back that hasn’t rested for seven hours running, plus your camera on the other side…. Sometimes a rainbow is not just a rainbow. Sometimes a rainbow is a sign from God telling you that murder is not the answer, and that this too shall pass.

Not that I ever endured those things because my mother specifically told me that I should be taking the bus to Dipolog, and she even mandated earlier I should take an airplane even if she had to pay my fare but I lipbitingly declined because I really shouldn’t be taking her money and instead should be responsible for my own expenses. So… I was. Via… erm… bus. Not via my newly bought refurbished Honda XL named Bastian (because I sold Pao a long time ago, and he wouldn’t have survived the trip anyways) that my boyfriend drove to Dapitan in both hours under the pouring rain and hours under the burning sun that scalded my skin and soaked all my clothes. Nope, ohno she didn’t.

P.S. The waves were wonderful.


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Lunches at Big Joe’s

Posted on 04 September 2008 by Flisha

The first time Gim and I ate at Big Joe’s in Dipolog City, we only snuck in for a quick snack of siomai before embarking on the bus that would take us to Dapitan pier where we were to take the ferry bound for Cebu. We ordered milkshakes for take out, and enjoyed them thoroughly on the bus.

That was 2007. The ambiance of Big Joe’s stuck with me though, so I was determined to eat a meal there this time round. And eat we did, many many times. :-)

Big Joe’s menu lists a lot of shakes. They have a bar (not the one pictured) solely for the shakes, but they’re a bit pricey. Around P80 or $2 on the average per shake I would say. I love shakes but not with meals because shakes make me thirsty, and so do meals.

I love iced tea with my meals. I didn’t use to, I used to think iced tea tasted like flavored water, which I abhor. But Gim was able to change my mind later on after diluting me with iced tea after iced tea, hahaha. I grew to like the concoction, but only certain brands like Nestea and Lipton. (Other versions like red tea at Tokyo Tokyo, I hate!)

We ordered two jumbo iced teas in Big Joe’s and it became our staple drink whenever we went there. It didn’t cost much, only P36 or less than a dollar, equal to or even cheaper than the cost of an iced tea glass in a Manila restaurant, yet Big Joe’s Jumbo Iced Tea is around 3 times bigger.

My first meal in Big Joe’s was Pork Steak. It cost me only P150 or $3. The serving was so big I was overwhelmed. The waitress told us it weighed around 250-300 grams. Wow.

It tasted soooo good. Succulent pork. Very soft and juicy inside and nicely seared on the outside. (I’m salivating right now, remembering, hahaha!)

Gim ordered the menu special, sizzling steak served in tomato sauce and mushrooms. It looked very nice, tasted okay, but I did not really like it all that much.

Gim was very hungry that day and his meat arrived first. We took a few bites of his meat but had to wait quite a bit before mine arrived.

Here we are doing nothing but taking pictures while we wait! I am not on the photos… I was the photographer! Hehehehe. Gimmi loves his photo opps.

He’s happy at first… and then my food arrives… and look at his face!!! Priceless!!! Hehehehehe!

He blanched when he saw my meal. Hehehehehe. Not out of disgust — but out of pure envy!! He was actually very moody the whole time we ate! Hehehe. Wolfed down his food while glaring at mine (I think he was wishing he was chewing my pork steak hehehehe!).

Here’s how he really feels about his food:

Meh.” Hehehehe! Why??? Because my food looks like this:

And it tastes exactly the way it looks! Delicious! Heaven! Hehehehe! (I am so carnivorous.)

I had to later appease Gim by grudgingly giving him around 1/4 of my steak. I know, I know, it was so big and there was lots to share but I was soooo real-food-starved that I forgot until later on when I had eated half of my steak already and Gimmi was already smoldering at me while I ate hehehehe. (In Manila, I eat only fast food, cold cuts and canned goods. I only get to eat in good restaurants when my mom comes over to foot the bill, so I hope you understand the state of starvation I was in.)

After lunch, we ordered siomai, our favorite after-lunch snack. Very yum but still nothing beats the siomai in Zamboanga City (grrr, I forget the name of the restaurant, I am sooo forgetful!).

And after that he’s happy again. Look! Oh and there I am. :-)

Before leaving we tried to get the waitress to take a nice shot of us both. TRIED is the operative term. But, er, it seems she had never held a camera before in her life. She kind of stood, in a tilted, crooked way, and then said, “Ma’am, is it okay if I cannot fit your whole body in the shot?

I was puzzled but nodded away, thinking she would just get me from the shoulders up. I didn’t realize she meant this:

Ah, eh… Pinugot mo naman ulo ko, miss!!! One more take, heh. *weak smile* I try to motion to her that maybe she should step back from the table a bit, just a wee bit, so she could take us both. Here’s the result:

Much better. Heh. Except Gim says he cannot paint the expression on my face. Whatevs. He doesn’t know to paint, anyways!

We went back to Big Joe’s three more times after. (That’s one visit for every week that I stayed in Dapitan hehehe!) The second time I ordered lengua estofado, which was very very tasty, loved it. Gim belligerently ordered the pork steak, and this time I was the envious one hehehe.

The last two times we both ordered pork steak, hahaha. Trust me, it was that good. On our last visit, Gim wanted a rarer taste from his steak so he asked for medium rare and got it. I tasted it and it was good, a lot juicier. But I still liked my steak well done better. :-) Didn’t take a pic of his steak, mine looked healthier. Hahaha.

Here are pictures from our third visit. We ordered steamed chicken rice this time, instead of siomai. It was very, very good. Tasted garlicky and gingery, much like arroz caldo. We liked it so much we ordered it again on our last visit.

The steak (his and hers):

The steamed rice:

Our sumptious meal.

My Gim looking fattened and happy. Hehehehehe.

I can’t recommend Big Joe’s enough. The food is great, service is fast (for a restaurant). If you pass by Dipolog City, you have got to try it. It’s a wifi zone, too, so you can bring your laptop over and surf (and plug in!) for free. :-)



Steak At Big Joe’s

Posted on 16 August 2008 by Flisha

I have finally found a way to upload my peechoors! Turns out boyfriend Gim brought a Canon cable to Dapitan (where we are right now). Yeah!

Gim and I, we’re very different. I’m a programmer and I love everything computer. He’s a doctor and loves everything blood and flesh and gory. I read in Reader’s Digest a joke that goes:

Motorcycle Technician: I take apart parts and put them back together. It’s basically the same thing you do! How come I’m paid pittance and you get millions?
Doctor: Try doing it while the engine’s running.

No, it’s not that funny. Eeeneeways. Even though Gim and I have different passions in life, the one thing we both have in common is our great love for food (and you can see it in our faces, in more than one way!).

One place we really like in Dipolog (Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines) is a restaurant called Big Joe’s. The rates are very reasonable but the food is divine. Our first day there Gim ordered Joe’s Special Sizzling Steak ($2), which is beef steak and mushroom covered in sweet sauce. A tasty meal, and very photogenic too, hahaha.

See for yourself.


Gim was very happy when he got his meal. However, he was very dismayed when he saw what I ordered. I got Pork Steak ($3) and my tastebuds watered when I saw the meat (all 150 grams of it). See.


Good, huh?!? Gim was so jealous that I was forced to give him 25% of my food. Hahahaha. And then the next we visited Big Joe’s, he made sure he ordered Pork Steak. I went with Lengua Mechado (tongue of beef, mmm). But I’ll share the pics next time! ;-)


Travelling Mindanao

Posted on 14 August 2008 by Flisha

Arrived in Dipolog, Mindanao safe and thrilled. Met by boyfriend Gim and rode a tricycle (a quirky three-wheeled transportation common in the Philippines) towards Dapitan. Took over boyfriend’s temporary quarters and made it messy, as I am wont to do.

Dapitan (Visayan for “a place often visited”) is beautiful as always. It is the rainy season, so tourists are few, but foreigners in retirement many. The sky is clouded many a sunset, and the ocean roils angrily all day. But oceanside barbecues still taste divine and walks on the beach still romantic.

So far Gim and I have been enjoying the food mightily. I’ve gained a lot of pounds doing nothing but eat all day — lunchtime chopsuey (freshly cooked vegetables in a creamy salty sauce), pork and beef steaks, iced teas and orange juices and Cokes and Pepsis, afternoon raspberry and blueberry cheesecakes and hazelnut capuccino, and dinnertime garlic sausage pizza, crispy pata (crispy fried pork) and a many many more.

Tomorrow I turn 26 and I am spending it on a white sand beach resort called Dakak. Next week Gim and I will be visiting another white sand beach called Piñahon. We’ll try to reach the beautiful beaches of Aliguay and Silinog if funds and time allow.

We will also be trekking to Cagayan de Oro and engaging in some whitewater rafting and ziplining. Also visiting Camiguin to enjoy White Island, Katibawasan Falls, Hot Springs and tours.

Later in the month will be visiting Dumaguete and hopefully seeing some dolphins. 

I have so many pictures I wish to upload but darndarndarn I don’t have a cardreader! Gim’s laptop doesn’t have a built-in one either. So I will have to wait until I get to Cagayan de Oro and buy a card reader there. Am excited to show you all the food I’ve eaten hahaha. And of course the sights.

Until then… ;-)


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The Do-It-Yourself Tour of 2007

Posted on 27 October 2007 by Flisha

Sembreak started in the middle of October. Finished all my exams and projects, think I did okay. Ran straight back into my boyfriend’s arms.

‘Course time crawled sooo much longer than that statement.

I’m home (in Zamboanga), safe and sound now, back from a totally exciting one-week city-hop adventure. From Manila, I flew to Dipolog to meet Gim and spent 6 carefree, food-full days exploring Dapitan/Dipolog. Then on impulse (we dare live on the edge. er… of bankruptcy!) we decided to visit Cebu and Bohol – and we did! So crazy of us! We had only 4k to spend between us but somehow we made it through! Hehehe. No pricey tour packages for us.

These are but a few pictures of our super enjoyable island hop! A.k.a. the Gim-and-Fli Do-It-Yourself Tour. :)

A shot of the shore at Sunset Boulevard, Dapitan. The foamy stuff is waste excreted by microscopic sea creatures – the same that cause Red Tide, my boyfriend the doctor says, but in this picture they’re fairly harmless ‘coz there’s not too many of them.

Ah, here’s the handsome doctor. :-) Academically, he already is. He starts clerkship next week. Good luck, doc!

Waterfalls! This is my first time seeing a waterfall up close! They’re bee-yoo-tee-fuuul ! But I had the boyfriend go in first. ‘Coz they’re really scary too… All that water rushing, rushing, rushing! If you look down at the gushing river for more than 5 seconds you get the feeling you’re gonna get flushed down too! So I crawled, and got really wet. It was sooo much fun! :-)

Mmmm!!! Chopsuey and Beef! Yummyyy!!! All I ate in Manila were fried cold cuts! And junk food! I was miserable! (‘Coz I can only be truly happy when I am well fed… hehe) I hate Manila food, by the way, ‘coz everything tastes refrigerated for far too long. Even food in restaurants. And all food is expensive, double or more the price of that at home. Especially veggies. So the first lunch I had in Dapitan consisted of vegetables!! Yumyum!! Gim and I feasted every lunch and dinner (beachfront, no less), having veggies, beef steaks, pork fillets, fried bangus, grilled squid, barbecue, calamares, everything, complete with our fave dessert, halo-halo with ice cream! And each time our meal cost at the most only a little bit over P200, and at the cheapest only P60! Mmm, my mouth is watering!!

And I don’t even care that Gim teases me about the extra rolls on my waist. ‘Coz he got some too! Hehehehe.

Now this picture is of a guy sending up some prayers for me. This was taken in Cebu, at the Sto. Nino Church, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Well, that’s what Gim said. If not oldest. We bought candles and paid an old man to take them, dance around shaking the candles and muttering incantations.

This is my only picture of the Church because it was Sunday, so many people were praying, it was very crowded and very hot. Two things I hate. And Gim made me fall in line to see the original Sto Nino image that Magellan himself brought from Spain. And it took a looong time. By the time I got to the Sto Nino I was mad, hot and ready to burst in tears. No more pictures! No more Church! No more people!!!! I couldn’t take it anymore!!!! And so I stomped off not even bothering to look at the Sto Nino I had waited in line so long to see, and Gim hurried to placate me.

Yeah, yeah I’m a spoiled brat.

This is how Gim stopped my flood of tears in the taxi ride from Sto Nino. He took me to the Taoist Temple. It was pretty and not filled with people, there were many tourists but still lots of breathing space. And it was colorful and interesting. I didn’t even care that it was also hot.

Pretty simple to make me happy. Just give me wide open spaces, a beautiful view, delicious food, and my boyfriend – that’s it. Hehehehe.

From Cebu we travelled to Bohol by OceanJet, a fastcraft whose interior looks a lot like a plane – but it has a better view. I don’t know how to swim (someday I’ll learn to, promise) but I do love the ocean. Gim and I spent a lot of the time outside taking pictures and we got sunburned. Huhuhu. But it was still fun, the wind slapping your hair and face and some of the surf spraying your body with salt from time to time. Yeah, that kinda sounded painful and gross. But trust me, it was fun.

Loboc River Cruise! It was my first time to cruise a river, much less eat in a floating restaurant! I was so excited I didn’t know what to focus on, taking pics or eating. I kinda did both simultaneously most of the time, and I don’t recommend that. It was messy. But messy = fun! Loved the lush green views and loved all the novelty of it.

Yummy food! Our floating restaurant was an eat-all-you-can buffet! The food was not the tastiest (some dishes weren’t, some quite good), but I don’t think I tasted it much ‘coz I wolfed down all my food as fast as I could so I could also take some pics. The cruise was so so short – only an hour. I wish it had lasted longer.

After the cruise, my boyfriend and I walked around Loboc trying to find things to amuse ourselves. This was, after all, the Do-It-Yourself tour. (We didn’t have a ride.) We found this leaning tower of Loboc, right in front of the Loboc Church. But the clock doesn’t work anymore.

We explored the Loboc Museum, which was connected to Loboc Church. I don’t think there was a guide available because the cashier toured us around and let us take pictures of everything. (Isn’t that prohibited in most museums?) Obviously, I was giddy with the chance! The museum harbored lots of religious artifacts like statues of Jesus, scribes of the old monks, and original robes of the Virgin Mary. It was an enjoyable experience.

After the museum, we went up to Carmen by bus and visited the chocolate hills. I was tempted to throw a temper tantrum because they were *green* and not dark brown. But the guides explained that they only turn brown in the summer. I really couldn’t fault my Gimmi that, so I decided to enjoy myself instead.

After Bohol, Gim and I went back to Dapitan for a rest and the following day, tracked home to Zamboanga. Though our trip lasted only a few days, we had a total blast and so far, that was the best adventure we’d ever had. :-)

I have soooo many more pictures but I’ll post the links next time around. :-)



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