Slow and Steady

By Kariopes

I never go on a road trip, without a definite destination; but today was an exception. Today, we were going to Laguna.

I was picked-up at the house quite late in the morning. I was excited. It was a shock, but I never realized how careful and slow Yelle drove, until today. It was my first tummy fluttering and heart-pounding SLEX ride ever. I was warned, but experiencing it first hand was different, as I sat quietly at the back with my mouth wide open. We tailed container truck after container truck while some overtook us. It seemed like all of them were speeding, but in truth we were driving at the slowest speed limit, 60kph. I was smiling as Yelle seemed unfazed and just continued on at her ease.

Bekka shared her take on our roadtrip. Click on the link below for her story, Are we there yet?

Anyway, continuing. Our first order of the day was brunch, so we stopped at SLEX McDonalds. I had eaten already, so I just ordered Wintermelon milktea, which I never tried until then, and french fries. I found the milktea too sweet and felt guilty that I ordered a large one.

When everyone was ready, we continued on towards Calamba exit. Our next stop, according to Yelle, was Mer Nel’s Place, wherein they sold the best chocolate cake in the area.

We bought a half-roll of the cake and chocolate chip bun to-go, since we were still full. The bakery products were quite affordable. However, just an FYI, they also have an eatery and tables wherein you could eat their famous dessert or buy short order rice meals.

When all things were done, we continued on to Calauan at the back of San Isidro Labrador Church to buy fruits.

As we went out of the car, we could smell the strong scent of sweet pineapples. I could just imagine the sweet juicy wedge of pineapple as I bit into it; dripping, mouth watering sweet and wonderfully good. The price was as Yelle mentioned, affordable and value for money at 3 medium size for ₱100, or 4 small ones for ₱100. We also saw some rambutan (a family of lychee fruit) and had to ask the fruit vendor for a taste. It was so sweet. I thought, my mom would love this. All of us had to buy some. And for ₱80 per kilo, it was a good deal.

After feasting on these wonderful fruits to take home and for pasalubong, we went back to National Hwy to find IsKarGu Restaurant for our lunch. Yelle said, IsKarGu meant isda (fish), karne (meat) and gulay (vegetables). It was all our first time there, and the parking lot was packed full.

As we entered the place, it was really spacious and quite welcoming. A big kubo style place with a cafeteria-like food serving, wherein you would take a tray and ask, or point, for whatever was available on their display counter.

We each took a tray and ordered different viands to try. According to the lady in the counter, each order was good for 2 to 3 persons, which was not a problem since we were all hungry. We found the prices really affordable. We took our trays to a table. But before chowing down, I had to take some pictures. Hahaha, at least they know me already.

One of our order was Kare-kare, which was made of pork and veggies in peanut sauce. It tasted pretty good, however I felt the bagoong (shrimp paste) was too salty. But you could forgo this since the peanut sauce was okay already and the meat was tender. Next was Pork Sisig with egg, served on a sizzling plate. I found the pork a bit tough. Maybe it was only me… shrug. For seafood, we had Sweet and Sour Tilapia. It was finished pretty fast, probably the best order since I didn’t have the chance to try it. Sad face… Hahaha joke only. Last was the Talong sa Gata, or eggplant in coconut sauce. It was our first time to encounter this dish, so we had to try it. It tasted alright, but we never finished it. We were afraid that the coconut sauce might give us a tummy ache.

For dessert, we brought our Mer Nel Chocolate Cake. We each had a slice. It was moist, chocolaty rich with a caramel cream filling and sweet. Unfortunately, I and Bekka found it too sweet. I tried to fork one bite at a time but to no avail. We both couldn’t finish it. It was nakakaumay, or tiresome. Sorry, Lagunieros, Mer Nel.

Also I just had to mention something that I didn’t like about IsKarGu. Because the place was open to the elements, we shared our food with a colony of flies that we had to shoo everytime they would try to partake on our food. As you might have read in my previous foodtrip, flies were a no-no. My apologies IsKarGu, but maybe putting some screens would make it a better eating experience.

Our next destination was Liliw for some tsinelas (slippers) and shoes shopping, which Liliw was known for. Yes! We parked and made a quick stop inside St John the Baptist Church before heading to the street lined stores. The prices were really cheap since it was direct from the factories of Liliw.

With eyes wide open for shoes and slipper designs, we perused and walked the street almost to the far end. We went in and out until the heat of the day, drained our energies. We made a U-turn and decided to go back. But before heading to the church parking lot, we stopped to buy some pasalubong snacks.

The stall sellers sold most of their locally produced products at 3 items for ₱100. I bought banana and cassava chips. Both were good, but I would suggest buying more of the cassava. My companions opted for the old fashioned Filipino snack, like cookies, uraro, tarts etc.

Still heading back, we stopped at Liliw Bakery, known for its Pianono, or vanilla cake with cream filling. Yelle bought two big logs for ₱110. We also bought a liter of the local vinegar for ₱50 at the adjacent store.

When all was well and done. We left Liliw with bagfuls of whatnots and with a big smile for ourselves and for people back home.

But wait, the day was not over for us. Yelle wanted to passby Pagsanjan. See her story, To Unwind is Divine.

It was a long full day as we headed back home. And as I stared out the car window, I noticed cars and even tricyles were overtaking us again. Smiling at the 40kph speed on the main roads of Laguna, Yelle drove as slow and steady as when we started out.

We entered SLEX towards Manila and made a pit stop at Bonjour to power-up with some coffee. We estimated with Yelle’s grandma like driving, we would reach Las Pinas at around 10:30PM. We were on the dot, as I grabbed my pasalubong and said our farewells.

It was a last minute outing that would be marked in my diaries. It was an adventure that left a smile on my face. A slow and steady daytrip ride, stamped in my memory for life. As Yelle said, a Driving Miss Daisy kinda day. I now say, “Aye aye, it was indeed ate.”

Note: Pasalubong are small locally made gifts Filipinos normally give to people back home, or to people they are going to visit. Majority of the time, we give native food delicasies since it is a no brainer, which can be given to anybody, man, woman or kid; also, it is easy to transport.

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