Published: December 8th 2006August 15th 2006
At the Kubo
Shortly after we arrived at Kinabuhayan.
Rob was leaving the country in a few weeks to join his Dad and this was our last trip together... Only for this year, I hope. Our schedules wouldn't allow us to go on a long vacation so we opted for a place that is not too far from the city.
We've been meaning to go to Kinabuhayan Cafe
since July (for my birthday) but events in our daily lives kept thwarting our plans off. I have read about this Bed and Breakfast joint for sometime and it certainly piqued the wanderer in me. After all, the offer of living in a 2-story kubo
behind a Mt. Banahaw backdrop with Pinoy
gourmet food was simply irresistible for us, two lovesick puppies, who just wanted to spend the most of our "left" time together.
Having been able to obtain one of the owner's cell phone number, I sent him a text message a day before we were to go. Winston Baltasar was I guess the "manager" of the cafe. He handles most of the inquiries and reservations of the Cafe's would be visitors. Although I didn’t meet him personally, I thought he was such a sweet and accommodating person. He
Roasted Chicken and Risotto
Jay Herrera, our chef and host, whipped up one hell of a sumptuous meal over a candlelit dinner.
answered all my queries with such enthusiasm and patience. I am a nag sometimes, with so many questions that just keep popping in and out. Winston even went all the way to explaining to me the weather in Quezon. It was raining a lot in Manila and I was worried of spending our day at Kinabuhayan in a dreary, wet environment.
As usual, our form of travel was by commute. I don’t really like going to a place with a car at hand since it's too inconvenient and they are just added worries. The travel time to Dolores takes about 3-4 hours. We hopped on a Jac Liner bus bound to Lucena, Quezon around 2pm. Winston advised us that we better be in Tiaong proper before 6pm because the jeepneys
going to Dolores would be gone by that time. He said that, after 6pm you'll have to take a tricycle
who charges triple the usual fare. By 5pm, we were already walking around Tiaong Market and unknowingly stole the front passenger seats from a local, who graciously gave way to our ignorance.
The driver dropped us off right in front of Dejarme St. He told us to walk
The Living Room
A view from our bedroom. The one on the left side opening is the "door". The other opening is the "window"
straight on until we reach the house that has a lot of bougainvilleas and a tree house right in front. That was Jay's restaurant or the radio station. The cafe is apparently a restaurant/radio station to the locals of Dolores. It was late afternoon and the whole street was quiet and serene. We walked up to the house and found the front door open. Rob and I peeked inside the door and checked for, well, anyone. The whole place looked deserted and we weren't sure if anybody even knew we were coming.
There was absolutely no one in sight... Except for the black Boxer kind of Mongrel dog looking straight at us. I love dogs. Rob loves dogs. But a scary looking dog that is just staring at you while you are breaking and entering isn't lovable at all. We looked at each other (the dog and I) until Rob said it's not going to bite and pushed me forward! We went around the dog and crossed the room towards the door leading to the backyard. It was then that we heard human voices and we met Jay Herrera, the chef and heart of Kinabuhayan Cafe.
The entrance to our "Bedroom". Doors aren't really of an essence here.
sitting on one of the three kubos
/huts spread around the entire backyard of his house. As I said "Hello"
, he got up, warmly welcomed us and introduced himself. He led us to our kubo
and gave us a very short tour of it. It was, for lack of better words, out of the box... literally if I may add. Usually, kubos
would be just like a small house with a small window, an enclosed bathroom and bedroom. That's not the case for Kinabuhayan. The whole living room or sala
is open to the world, with semi-windows. It has bamboo seats, a small TV and it also houses several of Jay's artworks. The stairs lead to the bedroom, which is basically composed of a huge mattress covered by a huge mosquito net. Once again, no doors are available. Beside the stairs is a wall, which covers the bathroom. If you think that the bathroom is enclosed, stop yourself right there. It's not. The wall is merely a barrier to an open bathroom. Don't worry about exposing yourself though, the walls are high and so are the bushes and trees that encloses the area. The only ones who can see you naked
It's kinda weird to take your normal trip to the loo in an open-aired environment.
inside the bathroom are probably the little chickens running around Jay's backyard.
Jay then left us so that we can savor the surroundings and get ourselves settled down. Rob was hungry so he went ahead and cooked our dinner and as the sun begin to set, you could already hear the kuligligs
(for the life of me, I don't know what this is in English) singing their tune and the smell of the provincial air was very much apparent. In the province, by around 6pm, it becomes erringly quiet. In Manila it’s rush hour and the whole city is still in an uproar.
By the time that Ralph (Jay's assistant) called us for dinner, the pathway leading to the dining area was lined with candles and we were seated on a candlelit table. It was so romantic even Rob, who is not close to being one, gushed about it. Well, not really gush, since he is the macho type, but he definitely loved the ambience. Dinner was something else. Jay served his famous (and gigantic) Roasted Chicken in Risotto, then served Cinturon (turon
with cinnamon) and Vanilla Ice Cream for desert. Each meals costs Php500 per head, which
Stairway to the Bedroom
Rob sitting by our bedroom psuedo-door while I took his picture from the first floor.
is definitely worth it. You actually pay for the food here and the room/kubos
are free. While we were having our deserts, Jay came out and entertained us with his stories and really made us feel welcomed. We were his only guests for the night and even so, the service was superb. I can't even begin how to express our delight about the whole experience and to think this is only our first meal.
After our dinner was over, we walked back to our own kubO
and watched TV while Rob and I got into those long talks. Jay who lives right across us, shouted out if would care for some lambanog
or strong tonic made of coconut. Jay, being the good host that he was, brought the lambanog and even urged us to not stand up to get the tray. He left us alone for the most part of the night as we got ourselves a little woozy and talkative. It was already late in the evening when Rob dragged us to bed. However, I woke up 'coz nature was calling. After all, we downed the whole bottle with lots of water as our chaser. Unfortunately, I had
Grumpy in the Morning
While having our Cafe Barako served by Jay.
to wake Rob up since I was pretty scared to go down by myself to the bathroom. The whole place was pitch dark and the only light available was our night lamp. I am not going down by myself and be grabbed by kapres
or the halimaw sa banga
. So I made Rob stand watch, right in front of the big jar just in case something comes out of it, while I did my thing.
That my dears, was the end of our lambanog
induced sleep. We spent the whole night mostly talking about certain things that we were about to undergo when Rob gets geographically displaced. As the sun rose and the rest of the Dolores stirred awake, Rob gave up on me and fell asleep. As for me, I was still wide awaked and was taking pictures of my surroundings. When I felt my stomach rumble, I began the slow and scary process of waking Rob up. He's usually grumpy in the mornings and it gets worse if he is hungry. Jay was already up and about his little abode and when he saw us, he served Kapeng Barako, a native coffee that's really strong, then left
which led me and Rob to a fart festival!
us again on our own to fix us some breakfast.
One thing you must know about Jay's Pinoy
gourmet is that for a little girl like me, it's a big meal. He serves a delicious and over-flowing meal. I barely made it out of breakfast. The serving was big and the desert is another thing. Rob dragged me back to our kubo
, where I lay and began rubbing my full stomach. Rob decided to forgo the trek to Mt. Banahaw since I was acting all lazy. Jay then asked us if we were up for a massage... A massage after a large meal... ah... sounds like heaven.
The massage was great. Aside from Aling
Eden telling us about our (or the lack of it in my case) health issues with every pressure point, she enthralled us with her albularyo
/faith healer stories. I learned that Rob would have a potential heart ailment if he wouldn't stop feeding himself with oily and fatty substances and that my cholesterol (can you believe I even have cholesterol) level is high causing my upper back pains... Hmm, learned something new there so Rob and I are cutting back on the inihaws
after getting my Reflexology Massage. Rob is laying on the bed, while he gets his own dose of the massage.
and all those junk... for a good 6 hours! When we got back to Manila, we went back eating all those calories and cholesterol.
Our last weekend get-away was memorable. With the great personalized service provided by Jay and Winston (who sent me a text message asking if we enjoyed our stay), the food, the ambience, the candlelit dinner, I guess, this would be one "get-away" that would be hard to beat.
PS: Tips Tips and Lotsa Tips: