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Caffe San Marco's Lunch Buffet: A Review

     It was a lazy day when my brother and I visited this restaurant in Legazpi City for our next buffet adventure. We were both feeling sleepy that time and we thought that perhaps some good food will perk up our moods. And we were right!

     Hey guys, welcome back to The Pinoy Wanderer! Here’s another restaurant in Legazpi City that absolutely deserves a spot in my list of awesome “Buffet Destinations in Albay.” 

     I’ve visited this restaurant in the past and have tried their breakfast buffet which, at that time, was an incentive for staying in their hotel. This time, with my brother, I’ll be trying out their lunch buffet to give you guys a peek on what to expect in case you go visit them. Without further ado, I introduce you folks to -- Caffe San Marco.



     Caffe San Marco is a restaurant inside Hotel Venezia in F. Aquende Drive, Legaazpi City. They have breakfast and lunch buffets all days of the week, from Mondays to Sundays. Schedule of their daily lunch buffet is from 11:30AM to 2:00PM for only P250.00 pesos per head. Below is Hotel Venezia’s location on Google Map for your reference.



     We arrived at the hotel around 11:30AM and because we’re already starving, went directly to the restaurant. Here’s what was served on the buffet table that Friday lunch:

Cosina de’ Marina's Lunch Buffet: A Review

     Hey guys, welcome back to The Pinoy Wanderer. I’m here to review another restaurant in Legazpi City that offers a fulfilling buffet experience. This next destination is a cool addition to a list I’m creating which will feature top “Buffet Destinations in Albay.” Let me introduce you folks to -- (drum roll please) -- “Cosina de’ Marina.”


     Cosina de’ Marina is located in Brgy. Cruzada, Legazpi City and owned by the incumbent Punong Barangay of Cruzada, Mr. Edsil N. Llaguno. The restaurant took the name “Marina” from the owner’s mother-in-law and is also a playful derivative of the bicol phrase “mari na” which means to invite others to join and partake. Of course “Cosina” means kitchen, so yeah, come and join the feast in Marina’s kitchen. Anyway, the restaurant started its operation just last March 2014 and offers lunch and dinner buffets all days of the week for only P180.00 per head. Lunch buffet is from 10am to 2pm while dinner buffet starts at 5pm to 10pm, Mondays to Sundays. Below is its location on Google Map so you won’t get lost.


     Unlike what happened on my previous review, this time, my brother and I arrived at the restaurant on time. How unbelievable for me, haha! And so we had a feast on all of their home-made cuisines. Check out the photos below to have an idea what to expect in case you try Cosina de’ Marina’s buffet:

Mr. Crab's Lunch/Dinner Buffet: A Review

     My friends from out of town would often ask me which restaurants to try whenever they’re in Albay or somewhere in Bicol -- and I would always end up not having a concrete suggestion. So now that I’ve become less busy, I finally will have the time to get a fresh perspective of the culinary destinations around Albay and perhaps, its neighboring places. Yep, I think it’s time for me to make a list. For my first stop in this series of reviews (that I shall tag as “Buffet Destinations in Albay”), let me introduce you folks to Mr. Crab & Seafood Diner.


     Mr. Crab & Seafood Diner is located along Airport Road corner Washington Drive, Legazpi City and have been serving the Albayanos since July 2011. The restaurant, not more than three months ago, is now under the management of Ms. Aida Del Castillo. For those who aren’t big fans of seafood, don’t despair because I’ve checked their menu and found out that they have traditional cuisines that Filipinos usually go for. That, plus local recipes that are innate of the province such as pinangat and laing which are usually a hit among visitors and locals alike.

Where Mr. Crab is on the map, courtesy of Google Maps. Click HERE for directions.

     Anyway, this series of reviews will target restaurants in Albay that offer “eat-all-you can” dining experience since if we want to indulge in food, buffets are the best way to do it. Mr. Crab offer their lunch/dinner buffet only once every week during Wednesdays. Buffet starts at 11:00 am to 2:00 pm (lunch buffet) and 6:00 to 9:00pm (dinner buffet) at P200.00 per head. The food served during the lunch buffet is the same as what's served on the dinner buffet.

     So what can we expect from Mr. Crab’s once-a-week buffet? My brother and I came in late (around half past 12 noon), so there’s not much left on the table. No matter, here’s what we managed to put on our plates…

Tune Hotel Ortigas: A Review

     It’s been more than a year since my brother and I gave up our apartment in Pasig that’s why now, we rely on friends for a place to stay whenever we’re visiting Manila or – we stay at a hotel which suits our budget. It was in July 2014 when I first stayed at Tune Hotel Ortigas when my brother came home from the US. I’m not really well-versed with hotels. With my previous travels, it’s either I stay with relatives or friends, or the person I’m visiting takes care of my hotel, or it’s my brother who takes care of my accommodation (more likely because he’s with me). Like I mentioned on a previous post, I was browsing Agoda.com last July when my laptop died on me. It was barely 2 weeks after typhoon Glenda and electricity lines have been severely affected in our area. I went to Tune Hotel Ortigas and found out that there’s a huge difference when booking directly at the hotel and booking through online sites like Agoda.com. Anyway, the first time I booked through Agoda, I paid approximately P3,500.00 (inclusive of taxes and fees) for 2 days and 2 nights stay at the hotel. I booked on that same day. The second time, I booked a week ahead and paid approximately P3,100 for the same room we had last time (Double Room) and for the same duration (2 days and 2 nights stay), still inclusive of taxes and other hotel fees. Interesting to note, however, that we could have paid a bit less if not for the higher exchange rate that Agoda.com implemented that time. Including all the other fees, we were charged around 69.70 US dollars -- and with Agoda’s exchange rate of P44.45 pesos to a dollar, it converted to P3,100. At that time, the exchange rate at my bank was barely above 43 against the dollar. I've found out just recently, while writing this post, that the same room can be availed at a lesser amount through Hotels.com. Will sure to check Hotels.com next time I book a hotel. We all need to be budget conscious. ☺
 

     Anyway, I’m not sure what areas I’m supposed to evaluate when reviewing hotels, but as far as a common guy like me knows, here goes:

Quick Post About Hotel and Taxi Drivers

I'll be brief.

(1) It's sort of advisable to book hotels using sites like agoda.com. I was not able to book online because my laptop died on me while I was checking out my options yesterday. Typhoon Glenda brought down many trees in our area, specially in our backyard, and of course, damaged a few electricity lines -- so no power for almost two weeks now. I've decided I'll just go to the hotel and inquire about the affordable room I saw from agoda.com before my laptop's screen went black. Lo and behold for when I got there, the only available room for the day is worth P2300. Not convinced and refusing to be out of options, I went to the nearest Starbucks and charged my laptop. Look, I was able to find a cheaper room and it's a wayyy BETTER room than the ones they've offered me. I booked for 2 nights while I do my business in the city. I'll probably review my stay in the hotel through a future post.


Current Western Union Rates for Domestic Money Transfer In The Philippines

     Because of their current location in the US, my brother occasionally accepts money remittance from his co-workers. Just like what happened last week when they were in an isolated area and his colleague's family in the Philippines really needed the cash. He does not do this all the time, only when I have spare money in my wallet. I pay for it initially then he just pays me later in bulk (wayyy later if I may say) so we can save on the remittance charges. We split what's left of what his friends paid him, less of course the amount we spent on sending. We normally accept when his friends will send money to a BPI account or a BDO account (I can visit these banks readily and they're convenient) but since it was an emergency, we obliged to send via Western Union. 


     Of course I needed to know how much I will be paying for sending the money via Western Union so I Googled how much they charge for $300 (approximately P13,200 at that time). I don't know why it isn't readily posted on the Western Union website so I looked elsewhere. I found some info, yeah, but too bad, it was erroneous information. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to pay P540.00 to send P13,200.00 to somewhere in Quezon. Well anyway, for your reference, I took a photo of the poster displaying the current rates for sending money domestically (to and from anywhere in the Philippines) via Western Union.

Some Truth About ePinoyload.com

     Even before my dad's stroke last year, I spend approximately 60% of a year in my hometown. I love the quiet and the simplicity of life in the province, and except for the occasional "technology glitches", I have no complains being at home. When I say "technology glitches," I meant to say slow Internet connection or sometimes no signal at all, and yep -- not being able to find an e-loading station in the middle of the night when I desperately needed to reload my prepaid phone or Internet. That's why when Sam, my dad's therapist, mentioned an e-loading business opportunity from UPN (http://powerup.unlimitedpesonetwork.com), I said, why not? I get to earn a bit and then I can load myself anytime, anywhere. Such fun, right?




     I have no full knowledge how things work with UPN but I get that they've built their business platform around ePinoyload, because when I started encountering problems and he can no longer address my queries, Angelo (the guy who introduced Sam to the business) referred me to the ePinoyload website (http://epinoyload.com) and sir Jessie (the dealer from whom I am listed under) gave me a number of an ePinoyload staff who can accommodate my complains.

Mutya ng Daragang Magayon 2014 Winners

     The search for Mutya ng Daragang Magayon is one of the highlights of the Daragang Magayon Festival 2014 celebration in the province of Albay. The pageant is an annual search for the woman who best represents the beauty and character of Daragang Magayon. In his address to the people during the pageant night, Governor Joey Salceda said that "Imbedded in the guise of a pageant are the ideals for which we — as a people bound by one culture, and for which I — as a leader of a booming community — will continue to lead our journey."  He said further that behind Daragang Magayon pageantry is a celebration of the SPIRIT of MAGAYON -- which, according to the governor, pertains to the spirit of heroism, love of nature, constant kindness, preparedness, as well as the spirit of resiliency -- all of which embodies the Albayanos' continuing struggle for excellence and true beauty.


Mutya ng Daragang Magayon 2014 winners
Photo courtesy of Shanti Serrano

     Screening for the pageant was held last March 16, 2014 at the LCC Concourse and the Mutya ng Daragang Magayon 2014 Pageant Night took place last night, April 26, 2014, at the Albay Astrodome.

     From the 20 gorgeous ladies, here are the winners of the minor awards:


Ms. Talent Sarah Jane Balingasa
Photo courtesy of Wang Regalado

Parade of Higantes in Daragang Magayon Festival 2014

     The Parade of Giants, a colorful display of over 50 "higantes" representing Albay's mythological creatures, took center stage last March 25, 2014 as part of the Daragang Magayon Festival celebration. The characters on the "Parade of Higantes" were adopted from the book "The Brief Account of Beliefs, Legends, Superstitions and Religion of the Ancient Indios of Bicol" written by Fray Jose Castaño and published in 1885 in Madrid, Spain.[1] Characters such as Daragang Magayon, Datu Makusog, Panganoron, Pagtuga, Linog, Sagugurang, Oryol, Ibingan, Angogolood, and Tambaloslos came in giant papier-mâché sculptures which are over 10 feet tall and paraded from Bicol University (assembly area) to Peñaranda Park.


Giant Anitos (Photo by  Peoalbay Albay Province)

     Here are some of the "higantes" during the parade, photos all taken from Governor Joey Salceda's facebook page:

Ibingan (Photo by Shanti Serrano)

Ginoo ni Daragang Magayon 2014 Winners

     Ginoo ni Daragang Magayon is an annual male search in the province of Albay as part of the Daragang Magayon Festival celebration. Screening was held last March 16, 2014 at the LCC Concourse and the Ginoo ni Daragang Magayon Pageant Night happened last April 5, 2014 at the Albay Astrodome.

Ginoo ni Daragang Magayon 2014 winners.
Photo courtesy of Magayon Festival Facebook page.

Here are the winners for the minor awards:

14th Daragang Magayon Festival Grand Opening

     Despite the gloomy weather, the 14th Daragang Magayon Festival officially kicked off in high spirits on Monday, March 24, 2014.  The festival opened with a thanksgiving mass "Misa Sa Daragang Magayon" and the "Daragang Magayon Cheers" at the Albay Astrodome, followed by the ribbon cutting  at Peñaranda Park. In the afternoon, the Gayon Bicol Festival of Festivals parade commenced in Ilawod, Daraga, Albay and culminated in a showdown at the Bicol University Grandstand. In the evening, a fashion exhibit called "Night of Fashion, Culture, and Tradition" was held at The Oriental Hotel lobby, followed by the Daragang Magayon Concert at the Albay Astrome. The evening also marked the opening of "Rocklakan sa Daragang Magayon," a month long beer-fest with rock bands regularly performing, also in Peñaranda Park.

Photo by Othelo Padre, grabbed from Governor Joey Salceda's Facebook page.

     Daragang Magayon Festival is an annual month-long celebration in Albay, which, for this year, will be from March 24 to April 30. The festival is celebrated to relive the legend of the tragic love between Daragang Magayon (beautiful maiden) and Panganoron (clouds)[1] as well as to showcase the cultural and tourism wonders of the province.


     Here are some of the sights and fanfare which delighted visitors and Albayanos alike during the Daragang Magayon Festival 2014 Grand Opening Day:

Mig Ayesa and Sophie Sumner Shoots "Phil It Up" in Albay

     I've been following Albay Governor Joey Salceda on Facebook for quite some time now. Aside from his jokes and fairly agreeable point of views, I look forward to his updates on current events. To be honest, if I can't watch TV or listen to the radio, I turn to his Facebook page for entertainment and news -- specially news on weather, LOL! What recently caught my attention were the string of photos showing Sophie Sumner in several of Albay's top destinations.


     -- Upon closer look, I learned that Albay will be one of the places to be featured on a TV show called "Phil It Up."

Fil-Australian rockstar Mig Ayesa and British supermodel Sophie Sumner, hosts of "Phil It Up"
Photo from http://www.mig-music.com/phil-it-up

PHIL IT UP!

     I googled "Phil It Up" and it pulled Mig Ayesa's website, and quite the only site with reliable info about the show too. Turned out, Mig will co-host "Phil It Up" along with Sophie Sumner. Here's what I found further from the site[1]:

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