5 New Specialty Cafes in Albay

Take your pick: From Daraga’s neighborhood specialty cafe to Korean-style and Italian to uber sweet and love-themed.


Photo: Ivy Gamit/IG @herescape_


528 Ilawod

Daraga has this little secret: A specialty coffee shop found in the historical street of Lotivio. Its name is also its address.

Yes, you’ve got it dear!

528 Ilawod serves espresso-based drinks and single origin Arabica beans, which you can pair with yummy pastries (matcha especially),  pasta (tried spicy chicken fajita and I’m craving now) and meals (must try: rum chicken). Chili mocha is also on its menu.


Add the quiet neighborhood and the value-for-money menu to the reasons that make the short commute to Ilawod worth it.

Grabbed this from my sister's FB post hehe

Anthosia Cafe

Photo from the web.

Its love-themed food is a catch, and so is the bestseller heart-shaped Pan De Oriang. This, you can pair with hot and cold drinks: tsa’a ng pag-ibig, pagkamoot, kape anthosia, supremo, bolero and more.

The cafe encourages not just the ‘kilig’ part of love, but also the expression of heartaches. If you can share the pizza with your love, you can also slice it in two. (Imagine it’s your ex’s heart. Just kidding). It has three flavors: Dayaday (white sauce), Padaba (red sauce) and Salawahan (combination of two).

At times, it holds art exhibits, open mic sessions for spoken word poetry and acoustic sessions with local indie musicians for free.

Erin’s Cafe

Wonton Cups with Mango-Cucumber-Crabstick Salad
Wonton Cups with Mango-Cucumber-Crabstick Salad

Italian menu cooked by the chef-owner, anyone? She shares her schooled cooking skills through their delicious menu, and her love for art by holding exhibits. Their bestsellers are baby back ribs, grilled cheese sandwich, vanilla bread pudding and pasta selections. Try the garden salad too.

 Vanilla bread pudding served with ice cream and choco-caramel sauce

Vanilla bread pudding served with ice cream and choco-caramel sauce

It’s cozy interiors, with books and peaceful ambiance, add to the quality experience that diners consider as important as the food they go after.

Kaz Korean Dessert Cafe


A coffee shop where Bing Su, Korean-style halo-halo, is the bestseller. The mango cheese and berry cheese flavors are a crowd favorite too.


While the famous DJC halo-halo holds a distinct Bicol taste, these new flavors are refreshing. Would you believe its owner use ingredients from Seoul?

You better try it out.

The Patio by Greenleaf

Cupcake desserts and ice cream and cold coffee and beverages make its menu uber sweet. There are pasta and bread selections too. The interiors are whimsical and girly.

The cafe’s instgrammable food presentation and bigger-than-you expect servings complement its good, yet generic taste.


Because at Bigg’s Diner, there is a “Happy Ending”


There’s a dining spot at Bigg’s Diner in Albay that I consider a favorite. That four-seater table sits next to a wall where two posters hang overhead. The one on the right always brightens my mood.

It says, “I just want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares.”

The Visit

The table was occupied when we went there. So we grabbed the table nearest to us, which was facing the food counter. Once settled, something caught my attention. Oh, cakes!

From top: premium cakes, carrot cakes and psychochoco

One, two, three…I tried counting what seemed to be chocolate-flavored desserts from where I was seated. We learned later that those were the newest offerings of Bigg’s.

But first, lunch with these bestsellers.

And some catching up with Ms. Iris, the marketing head in Legazpi, and whom I first met at one of Bigg’s events for bloggers in Naga.

“Will appetizers be coming soon too,” I asked?

“That’s likely…” she answered and excitedly went on by telling us that it will soon have a branch in Manila. Not only one but two!

Happy Ending”

Next came Bigg’s “Happy Ending” coffee-dessert combos, which were selections of nespresso coffee and premium cakes.

Take your pick: berries cheesecake, apple crumble and cappuccino cheesecake and pair with brewed coffee, cappuccino, decaf, cafe latte or americano.

Our catching up felt like a get together over coffee and decadent cakes as we talk about work, marketing, travel and the now open Bigg’s Diner at Ayala Malls Legazpi.

[Above photo: Bloggers Lunch at Ayala Malls Legazpi. Photo via Flored Medina.]

And some pics with the staff before we parted.



Happy ending, indeed!

Photo credits to Laurie Gucilatar.

Sili Ice Cream is Bicol’s Sweet yet Fiery Iconic Dessert

Bicol bagged this year’s best dessert and best mountain awards in the first Choose Philippines Awards held early this month. The region’s ubiquitous volcano, Mt. Mayon,  and the “hot” sili ice cream of 1st Colonial Grill represent how unique a tourist destination Bicol is.

Originally made to suit Bicolanos fondness for spicy food, this sweet yet fiery bubble gum pink ice cream also has become a hit with foreigners.

During the Madrid Fusion Manila 2016, the ice cream was a blockbuster.  “Ang sili ice cream talaga ang binabalik-balikan,” said Chef Andhie of The Oriental Hotel which was also a participant together with HML Food Corporations-Daraga.


The US Navy personnel that visited Albay last June for a humanitarian work responded the same. Nag-order ulit sila kahit pulang-pula na ang mukha nila at pinagpapawisan na, Mrs. Aspe told us during our visit to its branch at The Ayala Malls in Legazpi. They had takeouts, too, for their fellow personnel on board the USNS Mercy.

Laurie, a first-timer in Bicol, with Mr. Renato “Bicolano Man” Jao.

There is more to its unique flavor, though, that makes it worthy of the recognition.

Tinutungan na manok


The sili ice cream has three levels, so you can eat what is comfortable for you. It is less fatty, too.


The ice cream is first of its kind in Bicol and in the country.


It anchors the menu on the region’s culinary heritage and turns them into signature dishes. The attention to local flavor and homegrown meals is notable, and so is the continuous effort to make each meal globally appealing. This approach is worth considering especially for local brands with goals of expanding beyond, or simply attracting non-locals.

Flavors: tinutong, sili, sweet potato topped with fried garlic
Flavors: tinutong na bigas, sili, sweet potato topped with fried garlic

It keeps on reinventing, too, for its growing brand, that it has now varieties for ice cream flavors. Such as tinutong (burned rice), camote (sweet potato), pili, malunggay, kalamansi and more.


The newest branch in Tagaytay City is the first franchise out of Bicol, affirming the demand for the now iconic dessert and equally delicious Bicol meals like tinapa rice, laing, kandingga, and tinutungan na manok. Try also their kare-kare and tahong.


Another worth watching out for is the restaurant’s tinigsik meals by Aida Cirujales, dubbed as Bicol’s tigsik queen. Tigsik can be likened to Haiku but does not follow the 5, 7, 5 pattern.

This is to help make today’s generation aware of this form of Bikol literature and support local creatives.

Congratulations 1st Colonial Grill!

Around Albay through Visita Iglesia

Catholic rituals like Visita Iglesia are observed during Holy Week to reflect on the Passion of Christ. This part of Jesus’s life is filled with examples and teachings for its church members to emulate and practice.

In Albay, there are several old churches that can be your host for this activity. Here are some suggestions from the province’s first and second districts.

Joroan Church/Our Lady of Salvation

Joroan Church


Tiwi Church/St. Lawrence the Martyr

tiwi church

Malinao Church/St. Joachim and St. Anne



Tabaco Church/St. John the Baptist

tabaco church


Malilipot Church/Our Lady of Mt. Carmel


Bacacay Church/St. Rose of Lima

Malilipot Church

Albay Cathedral/St. Gregory the Great

Albay Cathedral

Daraga Church/Our Lady of the Gate

daraga church






Adventure and Luxury at Misibis Bay


Finding a top-notch resort like Misibis Bay in Albay is only fitting for the province’s rapidly developing economy. With an international airport currently underway, infrastructure and businesses surely have to keep up with the pace.

This luxury resort in Cagraray Island in Bacacay is themed with modern buildings and choice villas with expansive glass windows and pools set across the wide property. Going around is easy with golf carts ferrying around the resort.


A 3-day and 2-night-stay at the resort comes with complimentary activities, such as  non-motorized water sports and city tour. For the more adventurous guests, activities like ATV ride to the hilltop, jet skiing, Hobie cat sailing, and basic diving can be arranged. The resort made these possible with enough water equipment and a breakwater in place.

The resort has several romantic settings which according to Ira, the resort’s assistant guest relations manager, have been used as venues for proposals and weddings. There is Sula Channel for sunset cruising or 5 Views for a mini cocktails setup with Mayon Volcano as an alluring background. There is also the amphitheater with a view of the overlooking islands and the resort’s church nearby.

Options like private lunch on a secluded island or at the beach entail a VIP treatment. Fresh grilled seafood, wine, vegetable salad and baked desserts are prepared by a designated cook. These can be spiced up with spicy Bicol dishes made delectable with coconut milk.

At the end of the day, guests have luxurious rooms to recharge, complete with entertainment and dining sets, a mini-bar and adjacent pool, if not a private pool.

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For a good one-hour drive from Legazpi, guests can find Misibis Bay an ideal retreat  choice – close to nature, away from the crowds yet a world-class service and facilities are within reach.

These and the contagious comforting familiarity that exists from one staff to another extend to guests the welcoming warmth that Bicolanos won’t hesitate to show to a tourist.

Accentuate your home with punchy vintage inspired pieces. Bringing an old world flair to a modern building can take a bland flat from boring to WOW.

7 Awesome Things to do in Misibis Bay


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ATV ride to the hilltop


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Mini cocktails setup for group. It’s a romantic date for couples.


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Private lunch at Luyang beach



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Go snorkeling and diving like it’s your first time


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Whether it’s a cruise at mid-day or sunset, with a group or a loved one, it’s your call


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Make use of the complimentary tour



Accentuate your home with punchy vintage inspired pieces. Bringing an old world flair to a modern building can take a bland flat from boring to WOW..png
They’re awesome!









New Attractions: Chocolate Hills of Albay

A new tourist destination in Camalig, Albay is getting attention for its span of hills that look like the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Although the hills are not as rounded and symmetrical as those in Bohol, both share a strikingly similar appearance.

To get there:

From Legazpi City, ride a jeepney bound for Camalig town proper. Once in the town proper, look for a tricycle to take you to Quitinday Green Hills and Nature Park. You’ll have to rent it for 500 pesos as it will wait for you and take you back to the city proper. This rate should cover visits to Sumlang Lake and back to town proper. Habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) can be an option for solo travelers.

In less than 20 minutes, you’ll reach the foot of the park where registration and brief orientation are held.

Main Features

  • 4 peaks – There are four peaks open to tourists. Its gentle slopes allow for an easy and short hike to the top.
  • Hilltop view deck – In this park, you have the peak of the hills as your view deck.
  • Uniquely Bicol – It becomes easy to distinguish from Chocolate Hills with Mayon Volcano receding in the background.



For sample itinerary, please visit this link.

For other sites to see in Camalig and its neighbor cities like Sorsogon, you can check my article in Rappler.

If you are looking for an offline guide to Albay, complete with maps, daily itinerary and budget, look for my guidebook in the app store via Favoroute. It is called Postcards of Mt. Mayon in Bicol.

Photos courtesy of my travel buddies.