Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tirta Empul, part 2

continued from Tirta Empul, part 1

There are protocols inside the temple of Tirta Empul. Not just anyone, most particularly tourists, can bathe in the pools. These are not spas for recreation. Even the Balinese cannot swim here to cool themselves in the heat. The pools are not for hanging out. Bathing serves a sacred purpose and follows a ritual of offerings, prayers and blessings.

The water source is not volcanic. There is no smell of sulfur and there is no heat of steam. As the water is fresh and cold, it probably comes from an underground stream gushing deep from the ground. The name is derived from the Tirta or “sacred waters” and Empul or “bob up” or “bubbling up”. How the water is collected and channeled into more than 30 spouts is a feat in engineering. Each of the spouts has a separate and distinct divine and physical purpose. There are waterspouts that are to cure illnesses and some for mental peace. There are designated spouts for prosperity and even for pregnancy. Peculiarly, there are two specific waterspouts intended for the dead.

Most bathers apparently are not well-versed in the “science” of the spouts. I noticed that they were guided by priests and locals on which spouts to bathe and in what order. They also could not go back and repeat bathing in the waterspouts. It seems too that there are rules governing which spouts they could drink.

To the Balinese, water, like the sun, is grace and they embrace it wholly.

communal blessing
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/320s, f/4.0, 25mm, ISO 100
After bathing, worshippers change back to their dry clothes and receive holy water and rice in a central courtyard in Pura Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Praying is not for public show but the Balinese allow tourists inside the courtyard. Be unobstrosive and stay at the sidelines.

Couple by the gate
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/30s, f/4.0, 30mm, ISO 100, +1/3EV
Pura Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Mid-afternoon light (3PM, or 3 hours before sundown) is flat, if not harsh. To bring more animation, I chose an angle where the twin Balinese gates could cast shadows that appears to dance with the flowing stream.

tourist testing the waters
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1.3s, f/20, 27mm, ISO 100, +2/3EV
Pura Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

waiting for her turn
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 5s, f/20, 40mm, ISO 100, +2/3EV
my friend Komang waits for her turn at Pura Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

Tirta Empul [2]
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 20s, f/32, 40mm, ISO 100
Pura Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Observe how long a bather pauses to determine the optimum exposure time. Here, the lady subject was almost still for 20 seconds.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 10s, f/11, 22mm, ISO 100
Pura Tirta Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: A little bit of overexposure makes the water cottony and dreamy.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

the new dome of Carmen

I got a jolt last Friday while driving in the coastal towns of North Cebu. All of the sudden, from what were just countryside scenes typical of the Cebu coast, a gleaming brightly painted classical dome jutted out of the canopy of trees. We just passed by Danao City, so I knew that we must be in the town of Carmen already. Slowly, as we approached Poblacion, the town center, I definitely could make out that the dome was that of its church.

What surprised me was that two years ago, we had a North Cebu flickr meetup and we skimmed the churches from Liloan up to Borbon. The Church in Carmen was not a standout. It appeared to be built fairly recently and not the usual 19th century stone churches that Cebu is famed for. In fact, I only posted one picture in flickr, that of its chandelier against their multicolored ceiling. Most of all, I could not remember any dome at all.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/2s, f/22, 55 mm, ISO 100
St. Augustine Parish Church, Carmen, North Cebu, the Philippines
phototip: Play with quadrants.

So I dug into my archives. Indeed, the church is new. It was opened in 1971, as evidenced by the plaque below.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/4.5, 30 mm, ISO 100
a playque in St. Augustine Parish Church, Carmen, North Cebu, the Philippines

The interiors were simple- generic wooden pews, pale ceramic tiles, colored glass windows and concrete walls.

baptismal font
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/125s, f/4.5, 18 mm, ISO 100
a holy water font in St. Augustine Parish Church, Carmen, North Cebu, the Philippines

So on our way back two days later, I purposely stopped in front of the church. I took a picture from the side. Renovation is clearly ongoing. The convent has been spruced up. Redevelopment seems to have been started from the back and is working its way to the front. Fresh paint has certainly not touched the façade yet. But again, the standout is the central dome. It is majestic!

St Augustine Parish Church of Carmen
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/125s, f/4.5, 18 mm, ISO 100
St. Augustine Parish Church, Carmen, North Cebu, the Philippines

Although it was Sunday, it was already high noon so the front doors were closed. Religious services would not resume until mid- afternoon at the earliest. I was sure that the side doors were open but our baby was asleep and we need to hurry back home. The interiors would have given me more clue about the dome.

Was there really a dome two years ago? Was it merely plain and nondescript that we barely took notice? I scanned the internet and I could not find any full photo. The church was right beside the highway so shooting it directly in front will not allow any glimpse of the roofline. Even the photos of my flickr friends during our meetup did not show any full view of the church. But had there been a dome, would we have missed photographing it?

Anyway, I had a fun time photographing the dome, photogenic as it is. The more I look at the photos, the more I admire its regal design and fine execution for it resembles the copulas that cap the old and grand buildings of Europe and the US.

the new dome of Carmen
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/640s, f/8.0, 75 mm, ISO 100, +1/3
the newly painted dome of St. Augustine Parish Church, Carmen, North Cebu, the Philippines

So back in the office, I asked around. Indeed, the dome was a recent addition. Construction was said to have started late last year, at the behest of patrons, foremost of which was the Lhuillier clan which owns tracts of lands in the town. If philanthropy speaks with a voice, this one is shouting volumes. There is something inexplicably uplifting with grand architectural designs. Beauty is a contagion and I sense that the community is using the church as rally point for the betterment of their environment. Inspiration can be both spiritual and physical, so why not both? Ultimately, it would take more money and time – years perhaps? – for the the refurbishments to be completed.

For me, it will be one exciting wait.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Road to Bromo, part 1

April 12, 2008, 5:30AM, sunrise overlooking Bromo

There I was, squinting through the fog swirling everywhere around where I stand in Mount Penanjakan, some 2,770 meters above sea level. Slowly, the sea of white started to dissipate to reveal a caldera as wide as 16 kilometers from end to end. The caldera, a product of a massive and violent eruption about a hundred fifty thousand years ago, lies flat below, strangely not looking anywhere as high as the 2,000 meters elevation it really is. As the white blanket of cold fog – or are they clouds? – sank deeper, a family of not one, not two, but probably around five peaks are revealed, all stately, reaching anywhere between 2,400 to 3,700 m. No, these are no ordinary mountains. They are volcanoes, mostly active and rambunctious. The most famous of them, easily recognizable by its seemingly endless spew of dense sulfurous white smoke is Bromo. My pictures, inasmuch as I tried, cannot do justice to the experience.

the Tengger Caldera featuring the volcanoes of Bromo, Semeru and Batok in Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia
phototip: There is a short time around sunrise when the colors are still soft. This was taken 30 minutes after daybreak, when the fog lifted.

the mountain range at Malang bordering the Tengger caldera of East Java, Indonesia
phototip: The horizontality of layered mountain ranges can sometimes be served by panoramic crops.


April 9, 2008, Bali

So it came that after 15 years of visiting Indonesia, after always scurrying between the two cities of Bali and Surabaya in East Java, I came to decide that I would try a road trip. The journey appears simple. It is a popular trans-island 10-12 hour trip. The nearest point is between Gilimanuk in Negara, West Bali and Banyuwangi, East Java and a 24 hour ferry system services the short 20 minute crossing, at 15 to 60 minute intervals, depending on the time of day or night. With a map, I studied the numbers. From Denpasar, Bali to Bayuwangi, the nearest point in East Java, the distance is 145km. Some 285km more is Surabaya. Not bad. What really caught my interest, was that somewhere in between, in the city of Probolinggo is East Java’s premier attraction, Mount Bromo.

April 9, 2008, Bali

I checked out of my hotel in Nusa Dua at 5AM. We took it easy. I wanted to take in the sights. I particularly asked that we stopped at one of the countless ricefields peppering the regency of Tabanan. Not surprisingly, there seems to be always a temple nearby.

Pura Desa Lan Puseh
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 20s, f/16, 18mm, ISO 100
Pura Desa Lan Puseh, Desa Pakraman Berembeng, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Consider simple lines and forms when doing landscapes.

Desa Pakraman Berembeng
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/6.3, 55mm, ISO 100
ricefields in Desa Pakraman Berembeng, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia

to be continued next week in The Road to Bromo, part 2

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our First Year Wedding Anniversary

How kind can time be? Exactly one year ago, last April 23, 2007 in Bali, I and my wife shared a wish to share a lifetime together. A year later, we become three. Cacing, our precious daughter, joyful and spirited, infects us daily with a fresh thirst for life and a new sense of purpose.

Love of the selfless kind has just begun.

Happy Anniversary
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, +1.0EV
Cebu City, the Philippines
phototip: A red background always works.

Happy Anniversary [2]
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, +1.0EV
Cebu City, the Philippines
phototip: Be ready and capture spontaneous moments.

Happy Anniversary [3]
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, +2/3EV
Cebu City, the Philippines
phototip: To prevent blur of those special moments, set at the highest ISO possible.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Loving Masakan Padang

Whenever I visit Indonesia, and it could be anywhere in the country, I inveterately find myself in a Masakan Padang restaurant. Masakan Padang or Padang Cuisine is the unique and popular cooking of the Minangkabau people of Padang, West Sumatra.

I could not find a more UNIQUE way of serving food in Indonesia than here. Custom is to deliver all the dishes in an elegant yet efficient stack of platters on one hand and spread them all in your table.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/125s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800
at Sari Bondo at Jln May. Jend. Sungkono, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
phototip: Waiters are quick and don’t wait for your shot. Prepare your camera at it a wide aperture and high ISO to prevent blur.

Typically, everything that is already cooked will be offered right in front of you. In fastfood Padang-style, the table will quickly be set with dozens of small platters filled with highly-flavored and often spicy food.

This is no ordinary buffet. Everyone is expected to follow an honor system. You eat what you like and you get charged only with what you consumed. If you didn’t touch the dish, you don’t pay for it. And quickly, the unspoilt food are passed on to the next table for the next hungry customer.

makanan Padang food spread, Surabaya

People from the West probably would find this buffet unhygienic. Health risks are definitely present but for Asians, it is all about proper etiquette and care. Masakan Padang is certainly not for the faint or sensitive stomach. More so when the cuisine is known for being spicy hot. Just the way I like it.

The best known Padang dish is rendang, a dark spicy stew of beef. There would also be curries or fried spicy dishes of beef (sapi), squid (cumi-cumi), fish (ikan), chicken (ayam), vegetables (sayur) like water lettuce (kangkong), string beans (kacang panjang), jackfruit (nangka) and eggplant (terung). Padang is Muslim so there would be no pork. On the other hand, you could find other delicacies like shrimps (udang), dried fish (ikan asin), egg (telur balado) and selected beef parts like brain (otak), lungs (paru), liver (ati). Of course there would be a ubiquitous selection of sambals or chili sauces in various colors and degree of spiciness

Canon PowerShot S40, 1/30s, f/2.8, 7.1mm

Masakan Padang recommendations

1. Sari Bundo. This is a popular chain found in Jakarta, Surabaya and probably other major cities in Java and Sumatra. My favorite one is just a few hundred meters from Shangri-La Surabaya at Jln May. Jend. Sungkuno but I heard from a friend that they have already moved to another location early 2008. Too bad.

2. Minang Saiyo. This chain from Sumatra is in Bali so this is my haunt when I am there. Their branch is in Jln Bypass Ngurah Rai near the airport.

The restaurant also has a wedding banquet hall. For the photographer, the embellishments there are fantastic! After all, the Minangkabaus are difficult to beat when it comes to traditional use of colorful sutra (silk) and songket (brocade) fabrics and to the incorporation of glitter, sequins and metallic threads in just about anything. Here are a few pictures.

Canon EOS 350D, 1/60s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 1600, -1/3EV

In the collage below, you can see a triangular ceiling overhang (upper left) made of fabulous Minangkabau songket brocade and bright buntings. By the banquet hall’s walls are large drapes of (polyester) silk hangings featuring unique embroidery using gold and silver threads and sequins. Also prominent is the 2-layer payung or umbrella (lower right) which is reserved for the bride. The Minangkabau ethnic group of West Sumatra, while Islamic, remains strongly matriarchal.


3. Khas Minang Surya . This is probably another chain. Last April 11, we were on a road trip from Bali to Surabaya and we found ourselves hungry. We decided to have lunch in a popular East Java stop at Pasir Putih (literally White Sands), Situbondo and chanced upon this Padang restaurant. For me, their food isn’t up to par to the other two but their spicy chicken is good.

Khas Minang Surya
Canon EOS 350D, 1/80s, f/5.0, 40mm, ISO 100, +1/3EV

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tirta Empul, part 1

Sacred waters

I’ve always been enamored by the animistic Hindu culture of the Balinese and I try to observe, if not imbibe, the strong mystical connection that they have with nature. Water, in particular, is particularly central to the Balinese culture, not just for nourishment, but for spiritual cleansing.

Pura Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring Village, Gianyar is one such temple which features sacred pools. Established in the 10th century, it is one of the major tourism draws in Bali. Overseas visitors come to the place by busloads to gaze at its architectural beauty. The temple is never bereft either of Balinese to heal both body, mind and soul.

Fifteen years have gone by since I last visited the temple and this was before I had photography as a hobby. So last Thursday afternoon, after some craft shopping in the Sukawati Art Market, I and my Balinese friends decided that Tirta Empul would be a good stop. I was ready with my camera.

mata air
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/5s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV
the Mata air or “eye of the water”, the pool where water from underground stream is collected, Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Water reflections are best captured in the absence of glare. I waited for the sun to disappear behind the clouds to eliminate possible solar flares on the pool. Alternatively, a circular polarizer may also be used.

Tirta Empul statue
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/160s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100
Statuary guarding the gateway to Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Attractive compression “DOF” spots are a function of the distance between the subject in focus and the background, with the lens set at its widest aperture. There is a mathematical formula for this but as an alternative, just experiment and chimp the results.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/6.3, 28mm, ISO 400, -1/3EV
a worshipper laying offerings at an altar between two sacred pools of Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: The temple’s two bathing pools are confined in a narrow space and a panoramic view is not possible (climbing temple walls would be rude). I used the walls to show the tightness of the bathing space and visually compartmentalize the scenes.

Tirta Empul
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 13s, f/32, 41mm, ISO 100, with two ND 0.9 filters
a bather praying in Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Use ND filters to achieve long exposures even during the day. Use a tripod.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1.30s, f/5.0, 28mm, ISO 100, with two ND 0.9 filters
Adults pray while children frolic in Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Location, location, location. I claimed a stake at the narrow ledge of the pool just beside the first spout (the one at the right of the picture). I literally sat on my haunches as I mounted the tripod quite low. The worshippers who bathe a few feet in front of me then became fair game.

more in part 2

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

the Cacing Diaries #6

Today is a special day. Cacing is two months old!

Time is stealthy. Next thing we knew our daughter is already big. She squirms in bed nowadays and soon she should be able to turn on her side. When she lies on her stomach, she can already lift her head on her own and turn it side to side (we still support it just in case). She now vocalizes frequently and engages us in a conversation with her oi, indi, oo and aw. Her eyes can already focus on us although she still prefers to look way up, infatuated by the fleur de lis-like cornice running around our living room ceiling.

She just got her vaccine shot yesterday and she was brave. She only yelped once when her pediatrician injected her in the thigh for DPT, IPV and HiB. She did not cry! Ironically, it was when she was administering her oral rotavirus vaccine that she did for she already was sleepy and cranky.

Overnight we monitored her as her temperature shot up a bit, from her basal 36.8C to 37.8C. No fever though as it was short of 38C. The pediatric paracetamol was not necessary.

As reward, today, her birthday, we went to the SM mall right after hearing the 9AM mass. Babies outgrow their clothes every two months so we bought a yellow green spaghetti shirt (P79) and a salmon pink halter and bubble skirt ensemble (P249). What excited us the most were her cheap hair clips (about P1 each) as her hair already is long and unruly.

Lunch was at the Cebuano restaurant Chikaan. We had clam soup, spicy eggplant with ground pork, crab relleno and tomato salad with pork belly strips. Cacing, of course, only had milk. She cannot have it all!

After a quick shopping for supplies at the supermarket, we went home as Cacing gets tired and cranky quickly. We passed by the Maria Clara Café near our home in Talamban where we bought her (er, rather ourselves) three pastries: a chocolate ensaymada, a petit strawberry shortcake and a hogel holf (?) cinnamon-raisin bundt cake.

Then it was pictorial, pictorial, pictorial.

Happy Birthday Cacing!

birthday cake
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/800s, f/2.5, 50mm, ISO 200, +2/3EV
Cacing and her hogel hoft cinnamon and raisin bundt cake
phototip: Plan the shot. As a two month old baby still cannot support her head, Cacing had to be propped on the arms of her nanny. I used my left in pushing the cake in front of her while my free hand was holding the camera. I had to be patient in waiting for the moment when Cacing got interested and pursed her lips, as if to blow the candles.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/40s, f/2.5, 50mm, ISO 800
phototip: It’s all about the angle. Cacing looks like she’s sitting here in a pose. Actually, she is lying on her back on her crib. This was a product of stalking.

Cacing and her 1 peso clips
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, +1/3 EV
Her look of surprise is priceless. Up close, I could even see my shadow in her eyes.

Cacing a-talking
week 8
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, +1/3 EV
Cacing vocalizes a lot in monosyllables. Not bad for a 2-month old.

Cacing a-gazing
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, +1/3 EV
Cacing can be such a poser sometimes…

a thrilled Cacing
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/40s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800
For her birthday, my wife and I brought Cacing to SM for lunch. Cacing is seen here enamored by the overhead lights at the Northwing.

glamorous Cacing
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, -1/3EV
Cacing’s glamourous look is provided for by our good friend Malou in New York: a Ralph Lauren top and denim skirt ensemble. Her hair clips were from SM and they were just about a P1 per piece!

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sugar rush in Cebu, part 2

My Sugar craving is not limited on Western food like pastries and cakes. I, too, am nuts of local Filipino delicacies, and let me start with homegrown candy fare.

Carcar’s bucarillo

There are bukayo (caramelized coconut strips) and there are bukayo. The special bukayo of the old town of Carcar, aptly called bucarillo, takes the prize as the best in the lot. Imagine wonderfully colored coconut strips caramelized in white sugar. Carcar has lots of bucarillo makers but unfortunately, most of the packs being sold in the local market are on the tough side. The best bucarillo can only be had by special order from the original bucarillo maker in the photocopy shop behind the Carcar City Hall. One piece is about P5 each, quite a sum versus the regular pack of six at P10 something sold publicly. But what a heady difference! Boasting of only the most tender slivers of young coconut (butong in Cebuano) tinted in the slightest shade of pink or green, this special bucarillo rolls and melts in your mouth. I only got to try this last November during Carcar’s fiesta and I still am trying to obtain the contact details of the maker. I will definitely publish the trail someday.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/200s, f/5.6, 230mm, ISO 800, -1/3EV
bucarillo, Carcar City, Cebu
phototip: A local town fiesta spread is not the best of settings but the pastel colors are begging to be captured. Use natural light and high ISO to get the right pastel softness (unless of course you are a strobe specialist which I am not).

Talisay’s consilva

Consilva are caramelized banana fritters that are razor-sliced and sinfully swathed in sticky caramel. Sold as candy fare in the beaches of Talisay (P5-6/pack) and ‘imported” to as far as Mactan, consilva is known for its simple plastic packaging which makes eating it a messy but memorable affair. The consilva is probably found only Cebu and sadly, a vanishing delicacy. I heard that it is prepared only by 4 remaining family enterprises in barangay Dumlog, Talisay.

Canon PowerShot S40, 1.61s, f/5.0, 7.1mm
consilva from Talisay City, Cebu
phototip: Consilva sticks on the thin plastic package like crazy. Since, plastic is both reflective and dull, simplify the shot by just filling the frame.

Masterline Bakeshop’s pinasugbo

The supple and elastic toffee of consilva is its main attraction but it lends to preservation issues hence only its drier cousin, the pinasugbo (literally, “made Cebu-style”), is available commercially in the grocery stores. In pinasugbo , the banana slices are thicker and they are wrapped at one end with white bond paper for handling convenience. Sesame seeds are often sprinkled on the banana as well. But being more desiccated, the pinasugbo often comes out hard and brittle and the banana slices cannot really be separated completely from the bond paper. Eating pulp with caramel is a given with pinasugbo.

I always thought that the best pinasugbo came from neighboring provinces like Negros Occidental (Bacolod) or Iloilo. Wrong! Last December, I discovered Masterline. It is an old bakeshop in Cebu primarily known for local biscuits like the otap and galletas but its pinasugbo is almost just like consilva in its soft caramel goodness, which also makes separating the banana from the paper wrap easy. Although priced at P80/plate of 12, each of the Masterline serving is 4 times the bulk of the ordinary commercial pinasugbo in the supermarket. I get my regular supply from the Masterline display center at St. Patric Square, Ramon Aboitiz St across the back lot of St. Theresa’s College. Masterline’s old store is in Don Gil Garcia St., Capitol Site.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/40s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800
Masterline Bakeshop pinasugbo, Cebu City
phototip: If you can, play with patterned fabrics. I used a black and orange batik wrap to highlight the brown-white contrast of the sesame-freckled banana candy.

My fervent love affair with sugar continues.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sugar rush in Cebu, part 1

To continue my sugar craving blog, I am presenting part 1 of my own dessert faves in Cebu. From old time comfort foods to recently discovered treasures, they are an indulgence to any sugar lover.

the dessert buffet at the Café Marco

Wanna reward your sweet tooth but can’t decide which dessert is your calling? Hit the buffet in the Cebu’s first 5-star hotel, the Marco Polo, formerly the Cebu Plaza. For less than P600 (lunch) or P800 (dinner), the buffet at Café Marco is a treat of sumptuous proportions. My tip: keep enough tummy space for dessert. From mixing your own halo-halo to ordering your combination of French crepes to stacking up your fancy pastry plates, you are limited only by your own appetite.

Cafe Marco
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/25s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV
chocolate mousse tart, Café Marco, Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, Cebu City
phototip: If the table top is jazzy, clear the clutter around and shoot a simple symmetrical image. This was not easy as the table was full of plates!

pastries of Gloria Jeans Coffee

My wife and I were visiting the Cebu Doctor’s University Hospital one day when we chanced upon Gloria Jeans. I don’t drink coffee so pastries are the only reason I would visit any coffee shop. When I saw the choco ensaymada, I knew I gotta have it. I forgot how much it was, it should not be more than P35. The reward is the same comfort goodness of the ensaymada I know: puffy bread with almost melt-to-the-mouth lightness and sinful cheese (the original local bakeshop variety I am used to only has table sugar and margarine). The twist of rich chocolate flakes did not hurt either.

choco ensaymada
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/5.0, 39mm, ISO 400, +2/3EV
choco ensaymada, Gloria Jeans Coffee, Osmeña blvd, Cebu City
phototip: I was in a hurry to eat this, so I did not bother cleaning up the specks of cheese and chocolate from the saucer. Hey, a little mess on the saucer can be construed as art.

La Marea

Perhaps the premier dessert place in Cebu is La Marea at swanky Crossroads, Banilad. The “it” place of the self-proclaimed high society of Cebu, La Marea is as impressive as its reputation. Its array of imaginative cakes and pastries is not exactly cheap fare (the range is probably P50 to 120), but to be confounded is bliss. You really can’t do any wrong.

raspberry trifle
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/5s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100, +1/3EV
raspberry trifle, La Marea at the Crossroads, Banilad, Cebu City
phototip: Lighting is low inside the café so I used a gorillapod. To show off the beautiful presentation, I propped up the cup with the teaspoon. A second look will show the off center balance of the cup on the saucer but you did not notice that at first glance didn’t you?

up next: Sugar rush in Cebu, part 2

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