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The Best Food-Stopovers When Biking Uphill at the Transcentral Highway in Cebu

Wellness and Wheels with a View

by Allain Dumon Fonte


If there is one important lesson that this pandemic has taught us, it is that “health is wealth”.  Many of us have realized that keeping a healthful diet, active lifestyle, and a sound mind free from stress will help boost our immune system.  Thus, making us less vulnerable to sickness.  Because of this, Cebuanos turned to biking as a fun-filled hobby to discover new places in Cebu, release tension, and improve physical and mental wellness.  Moreover, biking has become more popular this year because local government units support and promote biking as a sustainable means of transportation by lessening carbon emissions and limiting the contact with people when travelling to and from work.

As Cebu slowly re-opens, new businesses are springing up like mushrooms.  Who would have thought that the once quiet Transcentral Highway is now a bustling route for bikers, riders, and local tourists?  As much as I would love to bike uphill, my legs are better on the runway than on the highway; so, I asked Alain Ralph, a foodie and a seasoned biker who has traversed the ins and outs of Cebu’s hills for the best food-stopover.  Alain Ralph mentions that there are many interesting places to stop by and rest when you are biking uphill.  He suggests these places are a-must-visit when you are biking up Cebu’s highlands.  So, I put on my gear and got on to my ute to drive up to these places that Alain Ralph recommended. 


Mak’s View

Humba Heaven at Mak’s View


Mak’s view is the home of Humba Heaven and Maharlicup.  The two-storey open-air dining area provides guests with a panoramic view of the lush hills of Busay and offers remarkable Cebuano cuisine.  The ‘humba’ in Humba Heaven figuratively brings you to heaven once you tasted it.  The pork is marinated with flavors to tickle your taste buds and it is so soft that it melts in your mouth.  Maharlicup serves different kinds of ‘sikwate’ (a hot chocolate drink made from home-grown cacao).  Paired with sticky rice, your ‘sikwate’ will be perfect with the hill’s cool breeze and an endless sight of greens.  The fog late in the afternoon, the sunset painting the clouds and sky in hues of orange, plus the rustic ambiance of Mak’s view, makes this place a romantic site to dine with someone special.

  • Ambiance ★★★
  • View ★★★
  • Food ★★★★


Matana Cafe

Matana Cafe


Still enroute to Balamban on Transcentral Highway is Matana Café that offers guests a refreshing view on the hills of Busay.  However, what makes Matana Café’s view unique from the rest of the stopovers is the sunset.  The sunset view of Matana Café is like looking at a sunset painting of Thomas Moran in the Louvre.  If you will dine here, the chorizo Cebuano should be on top of your list to order.

  • Ambiance ★★
  • View -★★★★
  • Food ★★


21 Kilometers Cafe

21 Kilometers Cafe


21 Kilometers Café is small coffee shop that offers a romantically homey ambiance with its white walls and art murals.  It also gives guests a wide view of greens facing the hills of Cantipla.  The view deck where you can enjoy a slice of cake or a beverage that is specially concocted by the cute barista gives you a sense of tranquility.  There is not much to talk about food in this venue, but the beverages are a must try, and my favorite is the avocado-banana shake.  In fact, I am writing this article while sipping my creamy avocado-banana shake and getting inspired by the view.

  • Ambiance ★★★★
  • View ★★★
  • Food/Drinks ★★★★


Charlie’s Cup

Charlie’s Cup


Charlie’s cup is probably the most visited coffee shop and stop over on the Transcentral Highway.  It is a pet-friendly café since it is named after the owner’s favorite pet, a corgi.  The sight here is breathtaking and the ambiance is perfect for an afternoon tea and chit-chat with your friends or family.  The architecture is remarkably interesting and accentuates the view of the lake, which was an old mining site in Toledo City.    Just like any other coffee shop, it offers a wide range of hot and cold beverages; but you must try their hearty breakfast meal.  Charlie’s Cup should not be missed when you are driving up to Balamban.

  • Ambiance ★★★★★
  • View ★★★★
  • Food ★★★


These are the stopovers and coffee shops highly recommended by Alain Ralph, and I could not disagree.  Every stopover is something new to the eyes, and makes you want to stay longer.  I shall be back to enjoy another bite of ‘humba’, or a sip of ‘sikwate’, or to relax with the view of the sunset.  I may still be driving my ute on my way back, but who knows?  I might surprise myself and grab a bike.  For more tips on biking trails and bikers’ stopovers, you may check the youtube videos of Alain Ralph at alainralphTV.


ZEE’s Pick for the Week

What Can You Sai?

The ensaimada is probably one of the oldest pastries being served and is still enjoyed by many of us today.  For this week, Zee’s pick for the week is the famous Filipino afternoon delight, the ensaimada.  The ensaimada can be traced back to the 17th century.  Its origin is in Mallorca, Ballearic Islands in Spain.  The name ensaimada is rooted from the Catalan word saim which literally means pork lard.  This is because the basic ingredients in making an ensaimada are flour, water, sugar, eggs, mother dough, and a reduced pork lard.  Hence, ensaimada is one of the legacies left by the Spanish influences.

When we talk about ensaimada in Cebu, there is only one patisserie in town that is known worldwide for the softest, cheesiest, and tastiest ensaimada, and that is Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.  The hotel’s ensaimada was initially offered as a dessert or an afternoon pair to your cup of coffee; however, guests are mesmerized by the perfection of the ensaimada that they want to share the experience with their family and friends.  Now, anyone can order the world-renowned Marco Polo ensaimada in a box of 3 or in a box of 6 to bring home or to give as gifts.

Please check Marco Polo Plaza Cebu for the flavours, prices, and promotions of their ensaimada.


Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s world famous ensaimada. (Photo grabbed from Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s page)

The ensaimada paired with egg and cheese. (Photo grabbed from Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s page)

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ZEE’s Pick for the Week

Delight in Every Bite

Photos by Ephraim Basbas


Zee’s creative writer, Allain Fonte, was treated to a unique and sweet but healthful dessert.  Celebrity chef Tristan Encarnacion of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino crafted a masterpiece like no other, and it is the Avocado Cheesecake.  The avocado cheesecake is Chef Tristan’s signature confectionary treat to his patrons and followers; and is now Waterfront Hotel’s most sought-after last course.

The Avocado Cheesecake is perfect for anyone who is craving for a creamy, soft, and out-of-this-world kind of sweet dish.  Truly, the avocado cheesecake gives delight to every bite.

The avocado cheesecake can only be pre-ordered at Café Uno at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino or at the Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino for only PhP790.00.

Please also check other cooking videos of Chef Tristan Encarnacion at Weekly Eats with Waterfront Chefs youtube channel.


Chef Tristan Encarnacion’s Avocado Cheesecake


A slice of the avocado cheesecake, showing its perfect texture.


Truly, the avocado cheesecake gives delight to every bite.

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What’s Your Pandemic Menu?

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

Healthy Tricks During the Pandemic

By: Allain Dumon Fonte

On and off lockdowns, faces covered, economic insecurity, and inability to travel to see family and friends can be very depressing. Many of us are experiencing severe depression and series of anxiety attacks. But life must go on and we must learn to be strong to survive. So, wake up! Get out of your beds, walk to the kitchen, check your fridge, or go to the nearest grocer, and start enjoying these happy foods that will surelypower you up from your worries.

Many nutritionists and food researchers have backed up these food and beverages with data that support brain function and could boost up our oxytocin. So, whenever you are feeling down, these following meals can power you up.



Chamomile tea is popularly known as the relaxing tea. In the shared research of Adelphi University and Rutgers University, chamomile tea is found to contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; and is believed to help regulate neurotransmitters that affect the mood of a person. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine also found out that chamomile tea helps in regulating how our bodies respond to stress, or also known as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical
(HPA) axis.



Photo by Vie Studio

Researchers in the University of L’Aquila in Italy found that dark chocolate contains flavanols that helps improve brain function by efficiently improving blood flow to the brain and have neuroprotective effects. This helps in uplifting the mood and has significantly lowered the depressive symptoms.



Salmon is one of the favorite seafoods all over the world, and as they say, “no one can go wrong when cooking salmon”. Apart from being a delicious treat no matter how you prepare it, salmon is also one of the most healthful foods there is. UK’s Bournemouth University researches the effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) that is found in salmon. In the research, it was found out that PUFA exhibits treatment to a variety of neurodegenerative and neurological disorders. Researchers in Aix Marseilles Universite in France also found out that salmon prevents various heart diseases and degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.



Photo by Karl Solano

Turmeric spice contains curcumin, a compound that increases conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to DHA. In a joint-research of Reim University Hospital of France, Autonomous University of Tlaxcala of Mexico, and the University of Hong Kong, they found out that turmeric spices increase effectively the Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels in the brain, and that DHA is an effective treatment for anxiety and depressive disorders. UCLA’s Brain Injury Research Center found out that curcumin in turmeric spices is an effective treatment for major depressive disorders, schizophrenia, and impaired attention.



Yogurt has probiotics, otherwise known as the healthy bacteria, which is well-known to cure gastrointestinal problems. However, the Neuroscience Department of the University of Verona in Italy presents a research that probiotics help on improving cognitive reactivity, mood, and sleep quality. In the research of Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Occidente at Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social and of Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes in Mexico, it stipulates that probiotic in yogurt improve the gut-brain-axis by increasing the production
serotonin. Serotonin helps in mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior.

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