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March 12, 2022
Batangas, Philippines

One of my best friends, Mark, finally arrived in the Philippines and I’d wanted to be part of his homecoming surprise for his parents. He lives in Tanauan.

Tanauan is one of the provinces in Batangas and north of Lipa. It took me 30 minutes to get there via jeepney or commute for only Php30.00. There are no more Covid-19 restrictions going to Tanauan, you just have to wear your mask and travel at your own risk.

We first fetched Mark at the airport then planned the surprise in Jollibee (the local fastfood chain in the Philippines) and of course, I had one job – to be the videographer haha. I couldn’t miss this opportunity.

His parents have no idea he’d be arriving yesterday, March 11. I did not have the video but his parents were so surprised to see him. It’s a priceless moment! And finally, I met his whole family who were so accommodating and generous! I was really happy!

Best food I tried in Tanauan

*it’s still too hard to eat until today. My dentist really assured I won’t eat anything but luckily, all the food yesterday were soft but I still ate less.

Sinaing na Tulingan

Batangas is one of the international seaport in the Philippines. Tulingan or bullet tuna is one of the most abundant fishes in the coast.

It is also one of the most popular food in Batangas. It requires a lot of good technique to be able to have a tender yet flavorful bullet tuna. Sinaing means boiling or steaming of food. The process for cooking requires 4-6 hours, the bullet tuna is simmered in a clay pot slow and low until fish flesh and bones are soft to bite.

I really love trying out dishes when it’s home cooked whenever I visit a new place. I was lucky enough that Mark’s mom (Tita Jocelyn) cooked sinaing na tulingan for dinner. It tasted really better than I had in restaurants! It was infused with tangy flavors and the fish was just soft it melted in my mouth.

Puto Pao

Another popular food in Batangas, the rice cakes especially those that you buy in the market. But my most favorite will always be the ones which are homemade because you do it with passion and intimacy. Tita Jocelyn was indeed really good as she also steamed rice cakes for us – puto pao. The puto pao is birthed from the two much loved Filipino snacks – siopao and puto. It is filled with savory pork meat and topped with salted egg and cheese. One of the best traits of puto is it’s soft and fluffy, the puto is made the dough instead of siopao buns. It’s really a snack made in heaven and tita made sure that I took some for pasalubong! 🙂

Kapeng Barako

Batangas is best known for it’s coffee – the kapeng barako. It has distinctive and strong flavor. It is a variation of Liberica species. Barako is a Tagalog word for a male stud bull or wild boar, which meant strong.

I had 8 cups of Barako coffee with Mark’s family (for 2 days), they also cooked their beans. The aroma is fruity and smoky. It has nutty flavor too. It’s nothing but the best!

During the 1800s, the Philippines was the fourth-largest producer of coffee in the world. It is not that popular anymore to the younger generations as they prefer Arabica and Robusta varieties of coffee and farmers also do not want to invest in planting because barako trees take up more land space due to the size and breadth of its branches.

Some see it the bean of the past as this coffee is more popular to the older generations but I am just glad that Batangas especially Lipa is really trying to revive the production of Barako coffee. It is a piece of heritage and I am proud of this coffee – it’s bold and strong. I’d always talk about this coffee in my blog and bring it’s story back to life. I will always appreciate bold and exciting new flavors and that’s testament to kapeng barako.


It is a Chinese-inspired noodle soup that is thick and slimy (in a good way) in consistency because they have cassava as one of the most surprising ingredients. It is made with variety of thick fresh egg noodles, filled with different meat ingredients like pork or chicken, kikiam, liver, meatballs, to name a few. It also has crushed chicharon or pork skin on top. You can also add some vinegar, soy sauce, and some spices to add flavor to the dish. I like my lomi to have less ingredients so you can really enjoy the authentic flavor of Batangas.

I prefer Lipa’s version of lomi to be honest as I tried one of the lomi places in Tanauan and was a bit disappointed – it’s bland to the taste and looked like egg soup. Although, the lomi from Mark’s family was better than the restaurant. I suggest you try market’s version than restaurant’s version in Tanauan.

Overall, I really enjoyed dining and meeting Mark’s whole family and be part of his homecoming surprise – I felt so special too. It also made me really want to see my parents and my younger brother sooner.

I really miss Mark around, we used to be together for almost 6 years in Singapore. I am happy to see him back for a month in the Philippines. I can’t wait to travel with him and other friends soon! 🙂

If you want the authentic taste of the Philippines, I’d suggest you visit Batangas – great food, strong coffee, rich culture, awesome mountains and beaches, cold weather and best friends.

Maria, sometimes Niskie