A Travellerspoint blog

Manila - Clark

View South East Asia Grand Tour 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.


We head out of the capital this morning, through Greater Manila, which is more of a residential area than the city centre we saw yesterday.


Typical Jeepney

Roadside police station

In a bid to avoid traffic congestion in the city, the government has introduced driving restrictions: only certain vehicle registrations can drive inside a dedicated zone on certain days. Richie’s vehicle cannot enter the city today, so Edwardo picks us up, and we meet up with Richie at a petrol station outside the city boundary.

Richie has brought another, even bigger car today, one in which we really do feel like VIPs, with throne-like seats featuring huge armrests. We name it 'The Royal Carriage'.


Knowing how we both had a cough yesterday, Rey has brought throat lozenges for us this morning, as well as a box of yummy cookies, homemade by his girlfriend.

Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm

Meaning “To Give Care” in Tagalog, this is a prototype of a sustainable community dedicated to ending poverty by empowering people to develop useful skills.


This particular Gawad Kalinga enterprise (there are several throughout the Philippines and beyond) has 78 families living and working within the farm, and its aim is not just to end poverty, stop homelessness, and offer opportunities to the communities; but also to help encourage younger people to become farmers.


Before we’d even arrived in the Philippines, we were added to a WhatsApp group with several office-based members of the local tour agency, so that if we have any problems or questions, there will be someone available to answer our queries at all times. We are both very impressed with this idea. Last night we had a message from them about our visit to the farm today, outlining some of the projects they are involved with and giving us a choice of which one we’d like to see demonstrated today.


Kesong Puti

Kesong puti is a white cheese made from carabao (a type of water buffalo) milk, similar to buffalo mozzarella. The cheese is made to order, as it is a fresh cheese with a shelf life of just two weeks.

The girl, who speaks very little English, starts by boiling water and adding rock salt.


Milk is pasturised at 70 °C to kill any bacteria, with vinegar added to encourage coagulation before being added to the brine (salty water) for five minutes.


Using her hands, she massages the cheese until it starts getting its shape.


Once it all holds together, it is placed in a mould for a few minutes, then gently removed.


I am then offered the opportunity to have a go at making my own cheese, which I jump at, of course. The water is still somewhere between 50 °C and 70 °C, and I find dipping my fingers in it unbearably hot.


After lots of exclamations of “ouch” and other similar words of pain, I am very proud to show and eat my finished product.


The freshly made kesong puti cheese

Lunch is provided by the farm, and we tuck into Chicken Pochero (a typical Filipino stew with chicken, sausages, vegetables, plantains and tomatoes), fish and vegetables.

David and Rey at lunch

Chicken Pochero


String beans

There is plenty of rice, of course, as well as calamansi, the local miniature lime, for squeezing over the fish.


Making friends with the local wildlife


Bacolor Church

The church was originally constructed by the Augustinian Friars in 1576. It was later destroyed by an earthquake, and in the aftermath of the catastrophic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, Typhoon Yunya triggered the flow of volcanic ash, boulders, and water down rivers surrounding the volcano, burying the church, and the rest of the town under six metres (20 feet) of lahar.



Drone image of the church

I have created the illustration below to show how much of the church remains buried under the ground.



The basilica was later excavated and restored, and today it is possible to visit the interior, entering through what was once the upper windows.

The pews are on the level with the top of the windows

We stop at a convenience store, where Rey buys chicharrones and brownies for us to try. He wants us to try all the things he would normally eat, not just the main dishes, for the full Filipino culinary experience. I love that idea.


Clark Quest Hotel

This modern hotel is situated in an area that was previously an American Military Base, now Clark Freeport Zone, complete with a 36-hole championship golf course, casino, duty free shopping hub and nature walks. This is clearly reflected in the type of clientele it attracts, with a large group of young golfers from the US checking in at the same time as us.

All the golfers are ushered through a security metal detector, with their luggage being passed through an X-ray. We are simply taken around the archway, with the porters carrying our luggage the same way.

With so many other people arriving at the same time as us, checking in seems to take forever. It is worth it, however, when we get to the room, which is modern, bright, and airy, with a huge bed.


View from the room

When we were picked up on arrival at the airport in the Philippines a couple of days ago, we were given a small gift bag containing a bottle of rum and a bag of dried mango, which is apparently a well-known local combination. For the sake of embracing the local culture, we partake in a tipple and a nibble.



The restaurant is welcoming, with food being served as either as a buffet or a la carte. We choose the latter.


My spaghetti with aioli and prawns is incredibly dry and it appears that the aioli has been substituted with fried garlic, and the dish sprinkled with parmesan cheese and six prawns strategically placed on top. Very disappointing.


David enjoys his four-cheese pizza, however.


Thank you very much to Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this fascinating Grand Tour of South East Asia.


Posted by Grete Howard 08:50 Archived in Philippines Tagged basilica philippines manila clark jeepney drone undiscovered_destinations gawad_kalinga kesong_puti carabao_milk home_made_cheese calamansi bacolor bacolor_church mount_pinatubo lahar buried_church clark_quest_hotel quest_hotel aioli

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the picture of the cat looking at the fish ... priceless! As my friend told me more than once, the Philippines are amazing and reading your day, it seems that way indeed!

by Ils1976

Thanks, Ils, we agree with your friends, the Philippines ARE awesome!

by Grete Howard

What a fantastic day! The farm sounds so interesting, the cat is very cute, and the food there looks excellent. The church too is fascinating and apart from your poor dinner the hotel looks good too. I'm really enjoying what I see of the Philippines so far!

by ToonSarah

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