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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lasa ng Republika : The CAVITEX Food and Culture Tour with Mr. Ige Ramos

What’s a better way to discover a place than eating your way on a food tour?  An exciting day of gaining an in-depth understanding of local cuisines through history, culture and most importantly, flavors.

I was very excited upon receiving the food tour invite weeks ago since this will be my very first food tour experience and its about Cavite. The tour will showcase not only food but historical and cultural spots as well.

Lasa ng Republika : The CAVITEX Food and Culture Tour is the very first organized Cavite food tour by no other than Mr. Ige Ramos - a well known Cavite food writer and historian in collaboration with CaviteX.

Early morning kulimlim day of June participants met in front of Mall of Asia Church just beside SMX Convention Center. It was nostalgia for me feeling like a student again excited for a field trip. The moment I hop inside the bus, it was just Sir Ige, Chef Tatung and a fellow blogger was inside. Minutes later the other participants started arriving and soon after our gastronomic tour finally started.

1ST STOP : CaviteX Mangrove Reserve, Material Recovery Facility and Organic Garden

Upon arrival at CaviteX and before heading straight to the facility, we were shown first how the Easy Drive RFID invisible sticker is being placed in a vehicle.

After which it was announced each of us will be given one for free with pre-loaded amount. What a way to start the tour.

Hooray !

I know CaviteX is a road shortcut if you want to escape the traffic in Bacoor all the along but I have no idea there is more to that so I was surprised - really surprised to see the Mangrove Reserve, Material Recovery Facility and Organic Garden facility that they had been doing all the while since 2013.

According to the kuya I interviewed when I was in the mangrove bridge, the previous management had just a lukewarm response when Metro Pacific Investment took over few years ago the project finally pushed thru and look at how beautiful and promising it was now.

Mangroves are highly beneficial to the environment and they serve as a great shield during typhoons.

All the while I thought when you say mangrove there is only one kind only to find out there are 80+ kinds and the Philippines has 40+. WOW !

See those blue painted hanging pots? They are old basketballs na inaanod

There are a lot of recycling and planting stuff the admirable volunteers are doing here. You will be amazed with the different residual waste products they create to useful stuff and even construction stuff like tiles. 

CaviteX is not just a highway it's a lifestyle. 
A lifestyle of hope. 

If only its blueprint will be copied by coastal areas around Cavite as well as the entire Philippines we will definitely have a much better natural environment in our country than what we have now.

2ND STOP : Malen's Restaurant

Now to start the gastronomic tour time to head to one of my favorite high end dining destination which is not too far from Cavite City - MALEN's RESTAURANT in Noveleta, Cavite.

Malen's Pizza Pasta Bakeshop and Restaurant is located in the heart of Noveleta, Cavite. Cavite's rich history are displayed in the walls inside the resto thru photos and some newspaper pages. Antiques, memorabilias and old -fashioned items are also on display. The specialty of this restaurant is its roast beef but they also serve Filipino dishes and don't forget to read their menu to see how patriotic they named their dishes.

We started the day with the so-called Magdiwang Traditional Cavite Breakfast :


Made of galapong/riceflour chicken, pork, salted egg, garbanzos wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Tamales is one of my all time fave Cavite City dish since I was a child up to present whether this expensive version or the poor man's version sold daily at Pan Antigua.


The yummy/very yummy and flavorful Imus Longganisa.


I have no idea what the real Pan De Troso is but if it is like this then its french bread. French bread with quesillo spread, sliced longganisa and lettuce. 


Sweet and salty tapa that is perfect in flavor. Fried scrambled egg with onions, tomatoes and mustasa.


Made from tunsoy or herring which I forgot to taste since I got too happy with my fave tamales and flavorful longganisa.



This is my first time to encounter this and I love the flavors. The saltiness of the egg, the sweetness of the mango plus the cucumber that balances its taste and the dash of tiny bell peppers for added color. 



There is also different variety of Bio-Reis like red rice, black rice and heirloom rice.

The Cavite breakfast served was actually not in the regular menu of Malen's. The owners are just kind enough to host our breakfast and be part of the Cavite Tour event to promote the Cavite food and culture. Hats off !!!

Can't believe sharing the same breakfast table with Chef Tatung and the controversial Carlos Celdran.

Malen's also has a bakeshop. They sell desserts and cakes aside from other pasalubong food items.

Spotted one of my all time fave Malen bakeshop product - Ube Ensaymada.

Currently price at P170 it is packaged in a pie plate with lots of cheese and ube filling. A perfect gift or pasalubong.

On the counter spotted: Baba's Spoon Smoked Mussels

This is one of the most recent Cavite food I tried and reviewed. It is very yummy. Can be eaten straight from the bottle in cracker or bread.

Malen's Pizza Pasta Bakeshop and Restaurant
9025 Magdiwang Hi-way, 4105 Noveleta, Cavite
(046)438-5027 or (046)438-1634

3rd STOP : Naic Church, Casa Hacienda and Naic River 

The Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Church, also known as NAIC CHURCH, is a Roman Catholic church located in the municipality of Naic, Cavite. It was constructed during the 1800s. As the friars found out that Naic has a fertile land, they became more interested in settling at Naic. It eventually led them to build the administration building of Casa Hacienda.

Displayed in the entrance wall of the church.

Modesto de Castro, a Catholic priest and moralist, a writer and an orator who is hardly known today although in his generation was one of the highly respected and honored native members of the clergy actually became a kura paroko in this church from 1857-1864. One of his most popular work is Cartas de Urbana Y Felisa or or Urbana at Felisa which served as guide in observance of good manners and right conduct among the young during that time.

In the garden area of the church inside we sampled these native Naic kakanins made by Aling Julia ...


Pancake like snack made of fermented rice batter that is spread and cooked in heated banana leaves.

Then it is sliced thinly, placed in cups and poured with a mix of sweetened iced buco juice and coconut milk. 

 Super sarap!
This snack is more of a drink than a kakanin. I think this has a promising market in other areas of the country once introduced since there is nothing like it that is so simple and yet so yummy. 


Made with purple rice and topped with latik


Ecstatic and so happy when I saw muche. Deep fried ground rice flour with sweetened mashed monggo beans filling. It's the buchi that I missed so much !!! Although not totally but 90% similar since the ones being sold previously in the old Cavite City public market is much thicker and softer in crust nevertheless happiness.

On the way to Naic, I learned from Mr.Ige for the first time the 3 crops of oppression from our Spanish colonizers: rice, coconut and sugar. And out of these crops where majority of our local kakanins got born.

Aling Julia’s Kakanin - Julia Manalo
Barangay Makina
Naic, Cavite
+6346 856 1011

Yes it's Ms.Nina Daza. One of my early childhood pretty chef idol - Cooking with the Dazas :)

She was part of the tour and made habol. It was my second time seeing her in person first was during the recent Madrid Fusion when she was visiting the booths. Got shy to ask for a selfie LOL

Next we went to CASA HACIENDA DE NAIC...

Casa Hacienda, presently occupied by the Naic Central School. Casa Hacienda de Naic is the only existing casa hacienda administered by friars in the Philippines that remains to be used at present.

This building is a living proof of the wealth generated by the friars from the 17th to the 19th centuries that fuelled the feudal economy, which led to the subsequent revolution. During the height of the revolution, the Casa Hacienda is also the site of the Acta de Naic, the military agreement between Aguinaldo and Bonifacio. This is also the site where Aguinaldo formed his Cabinet of reconciliation, the cabinet that he failed to form due to the events in the Tejeros Convention.

Around 200 meters away of walking we saw the beautiful view of NAIC RIVER.

This is the route where goods in the hacienda are being transported to Manila and other neighboring areas.

Yes it's Chef Tatung enjoying the river view

4th STOP : Kaybiang Tunnel

It was a long drive around a luscious forest before reaching this famous tunnel.

KAYBIANG TUNNEL is the Philippines' longest subterranean road tunnel, which links Ternate, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas.  The 300-meter tunnel specifically located in Marigondon took 4 years to complete. Very few vehicles are still using this alternate road to Batangas. 

Closer shot of the Grotto of Virgin Mary on top.

And during the photo-op a puppy suddenly went in the center and posed for minutes getting the attention of our group while taking photos of the tunnel.

5th STOP : Maragondon Church 

The Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church (Spanish: Iglesia Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), commonly known as MARAGONDON CHURCH, is the only heritage structure in the municipality of Maragondon, Cavite declared by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure.

The antique door of the parish has a bas-relief of galleons, acanthus and garita (sentry house) showing the town’s relationship in the galleon trade.

 I wonder how may people sculpted its very intricate details.

The altar of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church

6TH STOP : Bonifacio Trial House

The Teodorico Reyes Ancestral House, more commonly known as the BONIFACIO TRIAL HOUSE House, is a historic house and museum in Maragondon, Cavite, Philippines. It was built in 1889 and served as a military court, wherein it has been a witness to the trial of Andres Bonifacio in 1897.

The house was restored in 1996 two years before the Centennial celebrations. The property was bequest to the national government and the NHCP is managing its affairs as a full-pledge museum.

The outside of the house especially the 2nd floor looks very similar to the old ancestral house I grew up with.

And on the inside particularly the 2nd floor is nostalgia for me. Bigla ko na-miss ang aming lumang bahay at gusto kong maglagay ng kama at matulog kahit one night lang. 

The wooden capiz windows, the wooden floorings, the huge wooden doors, the balustre ng hagdan - it feels like home to me.

My favorite quote of Bonifacio:

7th STOP : Calle Real and The Pink Table

For lunch time we headed to the famous CALLE REAL RESTAURANT in Tanza, Cavite.

Calle Real is located in the ancestral house built in 1922 of a mercantile-class during the American occupation in the heart of Tanza. It belongs to the Tahimic family who converted the house into a restaurant. The first floor which was formerly a kamalig is the resto that serves delicious Filipino specialties like: paella, beef caldereta, crunchy pork binagoongan.

Always heard about Calle Real for the longest time and even it was featured on tv many times but never had a chance to dine in. It was happiness to finally visit this resto plus The Pink Table which is its newest baby.

For our gastronomical lunch the menu we had are:


This is an interesting salad composed of lettuce, tomatoes, indian mango, sliced dried squid and crushed peanut brittle in tamarind/patis tanza dressing. Its my first time to see peanut brittle in a salad and surprisingly its very good. The patis tanza is made of shrimp and not fish.


Runaway winner !!! Tasted so may kinds of sisig tofu but I would say this is the yummiest. There is something in the sauce it was tossed in that is so addicting that you want to finish the entire serving. I asked the owner if it was cream or mayonnaise she said it was lemon mayo but I haven't tasted any hind of lemon ! I'm really curious about the dressing and will really try to experiment it one of these days.


Super yummy sauce and soft beef chunks. I prefer a different choice cut of beef since I don't like the malitid even its soft. I also like the camote chips placed as garnish. It made the dish more unique, appealing and appetizing.


I don't eat squid ink but surprisingly after a small bite to taste I was able to eat about half a cup of this dish. Even it is very black it doesn't taste any hind of squid ink. For its price it's definitely worth a try.


I love all the dishes served except this one. Maybe because the version of calandracas I grew up with is a soup with potatoes, carrots, squash, pechay and cabbage in chicken/pork/beef broth. This calandracas version is pancit-like composed of sotanghon, sitaw, camote, shrimps and liver.

Added fact c/o Mr.Ige : Calandracas came from the word Calandra which is the bed where dead people are being placed during olden times. Since not all families before can afford an ataol so they just rent a bed. Crops are usually being given and layed beside as alay which in turn is being cooked to a dish to feed the mourners. This was added knowledge for me since I know Calandracas as soup being served before during patay but I have no idea of its history.


Calle Real's most highly recommended dish and true its word its the star dish. It's like lechon kawali topped with tomato sauce but the flavors are bursting in your taste buds on every bite. I hate bagoong but the bagoong mixed to flavor with tomatoes as sauce for this dish does not taste like bagoong at all. It's combination is just soooo perfect in flavor when added to the crunch of the pork is simply Amazing! Add the thinly sliced fried eggplant garnish. Love love love !!!


This atsara is sweet since they first salted the indian mango before boiling it in sugar water. Yumminess !


It was a very yummy and refreshing drink. Super loved the combination of calamansi and basil.

Note: Not all dishes served during our tour are served in the resto but definitely I will come back. This is indeed a yummy food destination and deserves the spot it had in the Ang Pinaka episode of The Yummiest Resto in Cavite. Love the aura of the husband and wife Mr. Noel and Millie Lozada. The owners are very kind, nice and loving people.

They now has a branch now at Puregold Tanza and another one in the newly opened Robinson's Gen.Trias. Here is Calle Real's menu and see how reasonable the prices are of their delicious dishes.

After lunch in the restaurant which is located in the ground floor we headed upstairs to Pink Table - their newest baby.

This second floor is the house former living area which was transformed too into a resto that is more like a tambayan for barkada serving coffee and waffles as specialties. Just like what its name suggest the resto is full of pink stuff from furnitures up to smallest anik-anik.

Each room are design with a touch of pink in it.

We were served with churros, sopas de tanza and coffee.


This is my first time to encounter finger-sized short and thick churros. The churros are yummy but wished they will improved the chocolate dip. A ganache maybe than bottled ordinary chocolate syrup and probably in the future offer other dip flavors too.


A native biscuit made by an old bakeshop named Kaibigan Bakery since 1920's up to present.


Here is the reasonable priced menu of Pink Table just in case you get to visit them.

Calle Real Restaurant and Pink Table 
8 Sta. Cruz Street, Poblacion 2
Tanza, Cavite
+6346 418 1574 and +63 922 883 9532

8th The FINAL STOP : Aguinaldo Shrine

The AGUINALDO SHRINE is the national shrine located in Kawit, Cavite in the Republic of the Philippines, where the independence of the Philippines from Spain was declared on June 12, 1898. To commemorate the event, now known as Araw ng Kalayaan or Independence Day, a national holiday, the Philippine flag is raised here by top government officials on June 12 each year. The house is now a museum.

Even I lived my whole life in Cavite City and passed this area every time commuting either via van, bus o baby bus BUT I have never seen the inside of the shrine all my life. It remains in one of my to do list until last Wednesday finally to my excitement I finally got to tour the entire museum.

The shrine is the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo, first president of the First Republic of the Philippines. The house was first built in 1845 made from wood and thatch, and reconstructed in 1849. 

Huge kawa turned into water lily pot at the entrance.

The ground floor houses the Aguinaldo Shrine museum is maintained by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines. The house and museum are open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Some of the war weaponry.

The covered balcony (azotea) at the end of the wing was christened by Aguinaldo as Galeria de los Pecadores (Hall of the Sinners) as military plots against the Spanish authorities were planned there

One of the three east wing bedrooms of the general's three daughter's.

Located on the second floor is the grand hall, a large meeting room where from its historic front window, the Declaration of Independence was read. The front Independence balcony was added by Aguinaldo during the 1919 renovations.

One of the many huge antique furnitures.

The creepiest part is the master's bathroom I can't get over it and the master's bedroom with those huge old aparadors. And so are the old GE refrigerators in the cooking area.

This cement structure few meters on the shrine is actually a laundry area. According to Mr.Ige only males are allowed to do the laundry during that time. I wish it's still the same now LOL

The grounds of the house is lush with greenery bordered by a river on the east and backed by a fish pond to the south. In the middle of the garden behind the house is a marble tomb where the first president is interred.

The tour in Aguinaldo Shrine is worth it. It was fascinating to visit and see a glimpse of the Philippine history in a well preserved structure like it. The architecture, furniture and fixtures, weapons, cloths and all other stuff that gives you this feel how it is like living during that era.

Now for the final gastronomic taste of our Cavite tour before saying goodbye and parting ways...


My favorite cassava cake for the longest time since aside that it is thick it is the only one I have encountered with nata, kaong and langka and in a huge bilao like puto.


Yes the ever famous pancit pusit which is pancit with squid and squid ink.


Who can ever resist halo-halo with lots of leche flan and ube. Too bad I was able to finish only half since I am already too full. 

Then the best part at end the tour - we got loads of freebies.

Thank you so much for all the wonderful and generous sponsors : CaviteX, Pat and Sam, Baloy's, Rustan's magazine, Food Holidays, Asiong's, Malens and Calle Real.

Overall, Lasa ng Republika : The CaviteX Food and Culture Tour is one happy and memorable adventure. It was fascinating to be in the company of people who shares the same passion and advocacy which is keeping the flame of Filipino food and culture alive.

The master behind the food tour - food writer and historian Mr.Ige Ramos in partnership with CaviteX.

I remember starting this blog from scratch years ago barely without any sources online or a single written book about Cavite food and cooking to research at for years. Now like a puzzle things are slowly finally falling into place. Thank you so much Mr. Ige Ramos for bringing light and direction to my little advocacy online for quite sometime now which is preserving and sharing traditional Caviteñean food and cooking. My own little way of giving something back to the city I dearly love via my long time love affair with food. Muchisimas Gracias Sir !!! 

My final shot before going home sweet home.

And incidentally it's Independence day today...

Happy Independence Day !!!!


  1. Salamat for this wonderful photo-essay!

    1. Thank you very much for the privilege and opportunity to be part of the tour Sir :)


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