Though summer is over, the heat is still on and we’re still planning our big getaway here at the Bitesized HQ. That’s the fantastic and enviable thing about living in the tropics – the sun is warm all year round, beach fronts don’t get icy, and the coasts – being a critical point of trade historically – have become melting pots for different cultures and cuisines. Every city and province boasts of their own specialty dish, and for every generation the recipes pass on to, new variations are born as creative tastebuds mix them up with fad ingredients and the latest pop culture craze (ehem, K-Pop). With the increasing frequency of international foodie personalities from KF Seetoh to Anthony Bourdain, the Philippines’ colorful cuisine and culture is finally taking the spotlight it deserves – all the more reason for us Pinoys to go out there, explore, and be proud of what we’ve got.
Thanks to the interwebs and millennials’ insatiable demand for travel (no matter the budget), our generation has paved the way for more innovative ways to see and experience new places. In today’s Food For Thought feature, the BiteSized team is excited to share our latest discovery: Tripkada, a local trip-pooling app and website. The brains behind the venture is the young explorer April Cuenca, CEO and founder of FlipTrip.ph incubated by IdeaSpace Foundation in 2014.
At only 26 years old, April has traveled to nearly all the provinces in the country; that’s about 80 places to see! And as we all know, an out-of-town escapade is never (ever) complete without a proper food trip itinerary. What has April got to say about that? Here’s April’s low down on her foodie adventures and how you can plan your own with the help of Tripkada, for that last hooray before the rainy season kicks in.
Photo by Jm dela Rama
BITESIZED: What are some of the most memorable places in the Philippines you’ve been to?
APRIL: A life-changing trip was my first ever backpacking trip, when I spent two weeks going around Romblon. I visited islands that I’d never heard of and found them to be some of the most amazing destinations I could ever dream of: an adventurer’s dream, where you could hike through the most pristine rainforest in the country, jump into rivers and waterfalls of your choice, lounge at the beach and watch dolphins from the shore, walk through the mangrove forest, or simply hangout with the locals.
April’s Food Trip Files: Lokot-lokot and panyalam in Lamitan, Basilan
April’s Food Trip Files: Toasted siopao in Naga, Bicol
BS: Can you share your favorite dishes from your trips?
A: I really love eating wherever I go, but my favorite is actually simple. I was walking through Occidental Mindoro when I found out about a Mangyan village in Abra de Ilog. I got a guide to take me, and after three hours we reached them. My host then invited me to eat with them right then and there and began picking jackfruit. Then, someone went to the river and got freshwater shrimps. A little later, I had shrimps and jackfruit cooked in coconut milk on top of black rice they’d farmed right there. It was such a simple meal, but I still remember every bit of it.
April’s Food Trip Files: Ilocos empanada in Pagudpud
April’s Food Trip Files: Suman and hot chocolate in Taal Heritage Town
BS: What are your go-to healthy dishes when traveling?
A: What I love about traveling is that I actually don’t have to eat too much meat and rice. I do prefer going to more coastal destinations, because then I can eat more seafood and fruits, and lessen eating rice and sweets.
April’s Food Trip Files: Fresh coconuts in Manila
April’s Food Trip Files: Vinegar products in North Cotabato
BS: We want to food trip with you and Tripkada! Tell us more?
A: The memories I have and places I’ve been to stretch throughout the Philippines, and getting to have the same experience is made easier through Tripkada’s platform. Our vetted and verified trip organizers are explorers like me, sometimes even more hardcore, who take care of all the arrangements in a manner that’s easy on the time and budget.
Honestly, one of my biggest regrets is that I traveled so much on my own for a time that I didn’t really have anyone to share the moments with. I like that, through Tripkada, you get to meet like-minded people to share the memories with too.
Pico de Loro
What are you waiting for? Don’t let the wet season dampen your travel mood and go on a food trip around the country!
(Images from April’s Instagram)