Saturday, June 23, 2007

Butuan City -- Balanghai Hotel -- 23 June

We are in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Mindanao Island, Philippines, at the Balanghai Hotel. The main attraction for us was proximity to the Butuan branch of the Philippine National Museum. The namesake of the Balanghai Hotel are the Balanghai Boats. We hope to visit the boats in the next few days. Briefly, eleven 15m boats have been unearthed beginning in the 1970s, in Libertad Barangay, Butuan. One of them was carbon dated at 320 AD. Others have dated from 10th, 12th, and 13th Centuries, I believe. Associated were pottery from China and Hindu gold statuette, and gold crucibles.

Each city we have visited has a distinctive style of Tricycle/Tricycab. The Butuan City is a favorite of ours, because they are roomy. Nice in the rain, fitting four adults and two or three kids comfortably. Some of the older ones use lawnmower engines, while newer ones are actually a sidecar built on a small displacement motorcycle.

To compare, Fe and William are catching a Las Pinas (Manila) style tricycle.

Aling Cora Restaurant

We are here to visit Fe's family, from Cabcabon Barangay, Butuan City. We ate lnch yesterday at Aling Cora restaurant. Since this is simply the best restaurant we have eaten at in the Philippines (notwithstanding the flies), it's worth some discussion. [NOTE: I've been told there is another branch downtown, with an airconditioned room.]

We were introduced to Aling Cora restaurant in 2004 by Linricon Absuelo, curator of the Butuan branch, Philippine National Museum. We offered to take him out to dinner, and he suggested it because the leaves of one of the trees in the museum's small botanical garden is used in the traditional kinilaw recipe used by Aling Cora. Kinilaw is a raw fish dish. Fe tells me the limes used in kinilaw may not be available in Manila---suha?. We were impressed in 2004 both by the kinilaw and by the mango shakes, and we have both mentioned it several times as we planned this trip. Our memories must have failed us---the kinilaw is much, much better than I, at least, remember! Fantastic. Not only that, but the BBQ chicken was great. Perfectly cooked, and a delicious marinade and sauce. Normally, I do not like the restaurant BBQ chicken in the Philippines, so this was a surprise. The sinigang I have almost always liked at restaurants back home and in Manila; here, however, I found it wanting. Perhaps it was too subtle.

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