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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.


Five Breakfast Ideas to Power You Up Through the Week

Breakfast Club

It’s definitely the most important meal of the day, but the way we break our fasts is completely up to preference. Zee Lifestyle joins some ladies for the early meal to see the different dishes women have for breakfast.


Deborah Hayes. photography Oliver Echevarria. hair and makeup Arnauld

Deborah Hayes, 46
Entrepreneur, Real Estate Broker,
Real Estate Franchise Owner

A typical morning for you?
I like to wake up before everyone else in my household so I can have some me time to enjoy my first cup of coffee, reflecting on my day’s activities and journal. I cherish my peace in the morning before the chaos begins.

And the rest of the day?
My days are never the same, which is what I love. Sometimes I get up and go volunteer. Other days, I have conference calls with my business partners in the US. My favorite is having the freedom to do nothing, but I’ve been so busy since we moved to Cebu six years ago.

Do you eat breakfast everyday?
I must be honest and say no. I do not wake up hungry as most people do. I have to push myself to eat something because I know it is the most important meal of the day.

Why do you like this particular dish for breakfast? I chose this meal because it reminds me of home. Being from Texas, anything and everything can be wrapped in a tortilla with spices and be called a meal. Plus it’s so easy to make, and it’s light and healthy.

BREAKFAST BURRITO WITH ENERGY ANTIOXIDANT SMOOTHIE AND LIVER KIDNEY DETOX JUICE. Liver Kidney Detox Juice: Clean half a sugar beet, half a cucumber, half an apple, knuckle-sized fresh ginger, a carrot and a celery stick with leaves. Put them in a juicer, then serve immediately. Energy Antioxidant Smoothie: Put four to five ice cubes, a half cup of coconut juice, a tablespoon of flaxseed oil, three large frozen strawberries, a third of a cup of frozen blueberries, a mango, half a banana and two scoops of It Works! Greens in a blender. Blend for two minutes and serve. Breakfast Burrito: In a bowl, whisk a whole egg with black pepper, cayenne pepper, and your preference of water or milk. • In a pan, heat up green onions, green peppers and red peppers, and sauté for three to four minutes. • Add a garlic clove to the pan and sauté for one more minute, then add egg mixture and slowly stir into veggies. Once cooked to your liking, add to tortillas and eat immediately.

What would you never have for breakfast? I would never eat something high in sugar and fat, as it will bring your energy levels down in just a few hours. A healthy high protein breakfast will keep you fuller longer.

Your favorite food? Mexican food is my ultimate favorite. It can be really hard to find here, so we cook a lot at home for ourselves or with friends.

Your favorite restaurants in the city?
That’s a hard one. We have many—Gorliz for their pork chops, Wok’d for pad Thai and Tymad for the quiche Lorraine.


Gretchen Choa-Uy. photography Ezekiel Sullano. hair and makeup Arnauld

Gretchen Choa-Uy, 35

A typical morning for you?
I like my mornings early and full. I seem to accomplish more in the mornings that I do in the afternoons.

And the rest of the day? I bring my kids to school, then go to work afterwards. I allot one afternoon in a week to do my personal errands like getting groceries. On late afternoons, I attend spin class three to four times a week. I try to cook twice a week as the kids have special requests.

Do you eat breakfast everyday?
Almost everyday, but quite light

SAVORY OATMEAL: • Prepare oatmeal as instructed in the package. I prefer old-fashioned oats. • While that is cooking, prepare your eggs the way you like it—boiled, fried or poached would work. The important thing is the yolk is runny. • Chop green onions and set aside. • Once the oatmeal is cooked, place in a bowl and top with your boiled, fried or poached egg. Sprinkle green onions on top. You may add ground pepper (I prefer white pepper), and Sriracha or hot sauce for that added kick.

Why do you like this particular dish for breakfast? I like savory dishes more than sweet, and this oatmeal dish has the same flavor and texture that I would want in my congee in Hong Kong, without the required number of hours cooking. With simple ingredients, it has a lot of flavor, plus it makes me happy. It’s my comfort food.

What would you never have for breakfast? Sushi, liver and durian. Sushi, because I find it odd. Liver, because it doesn’t belong to my list of happy food. Durian, because I just don’t like durian.

Your favorite food? My all-time favorite food is eel—you can have it fried, steamed or teppan style. Second to that would be pig’s ears, but it has to be the way my dad cooks it.

Your favorite restaurants in the city?
I enjoy eating at Tavolata, Gorliz, and Bollywood Tandoor


Krystle Dianne Syiaco Tiu. photography Jed Galang. hair and makeup Janice Barillo

Krystle Dianne Syiaco Tiu, 33

A typical morning for you?
I wake up when my daughter wakes up. I play with her for a bit then I let her wake up her dad so he can play with her too. That gives me a chance to bum around in bed for maybe 30 minutes, checking stuff online, before I go out for breakfast.

And the rest of the day?
I spend time with my daughter until she naps at around 11 or 12, then I leave for my store Cabana in BTC to work on all my businesses. I honestly can’t work at home because I end up playing with my daughter and not finishing any work! Twice a week, I also do prenatal yoga at around 10:30AM. When I wasn’t pregnant though, I used to join spin classes at 5:00PM, twice a week. If there are no spin classes, I usually make sure I’m home by 5:00 PM, when my daughter is awake from her afternoon nap.

Do you eat breakfast everyday? Yes!

TRUFFLE MUSHROOMS ON TOAST: • Saute garlic. Add mushrooms (I use whatever’s available), and cook until soft. Season with salt and pepper, and add a dash of truffle oil. Set aside. • Fry a sunny side up egg—the runnier, the better. • Toast a slice of bread, top with your favorite cheese and add the mushrooms. • Serve with the egg on top. CRUSTLESS SPINACH AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO QUICHE: • Preheat oven to 175 C. Lightly grease an eight-inch pan. • Heat oil in a large skillet. Add one chopped onion, and cook until soft. Stir in about 10 ounces of spinach and 1/8 cup sun-dried tomatoes. • In a large bowl, combine 5 eggs, 3 cups of cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir. Scoop into prepared pan. • Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set.

Why do you like this particular dish for breakfast?
I like that these dishes are easy to make, and you can even make it ahead, store it inside the fridge and have it for days. Everyone in the family likes it too, even my daughter. I love how there’s protein and veggies in it already. It’s my go-to breakfast dish also when I have guests staying with us.

What would you never have for breakfast? Maybe pasta? I can’t explain it—I think pastas are great for lunch or dinner, but not for breakfast.

Your favorite restaurants in the city?
My no-brainer, go-to place is Abaca Baking Company. I sometimes stay there for hours to work, and enjoy a latte and a sandwich. I also love their brunch menu! I love the tapas at Gorliz, too. I’m still looking for a good restaurant in Cebu that serves creative cuisine, and not just the typical dishes you can get in other restaurants. I don’t want another pizza or pasta or steak place—we need something new and different, a place where unexpected ingredients are married together to make a sumptuous dish. For now, I get that craving fix from The Pig & Palm, Anzani and The Abaca Group.


Mikaela Yoloque Pacubas. photography Chester Baldicantos. makeup Janice Barillo hair Gino Fonghe

Mikaela Yoloque Pacubas, 21
Chemistry Student

A typical morning for you?
While getting ready, I listen to calm music as I plan my day. Drinking coffee and reading is also a big part of my morning as it keeps me alert and focused.

And the rest of the day?
The mornings are spent in the office, and I’m in the lab late afternoons experimenting on my thesis. It varies from day to day though.

Do you eat breakfast everyday?
I try my best not to skip, so on most days I eat breakfast.

BUWAD AND GARLIC RICE: • Saute a generous amount of chopped garlic in hot oil. Add cooked rice—preferably rice that’s a few hours old—and mix until the rice is completely covered in the garlic oil mixture. • Heat oil in another pan. Make sure that it’s really hot before adding the buwad. Let it sit in the oil for a minute before flipping it over. Cook the other side for about half a minute. Transfer to paper towels if you prefer to drain out the oil, then serve on a plate.

Why do you like this particular dish for breakfast? Because dried fish and squid (buwad) with coconut vinegar (tuba) highlights Filipino cuisine. It represents our culture, and I learned to appreciate it more because of that. I like the taste combination of salty and sour—it’s my ideal first dish of the day.

What would you never have for breakfast? Juices, fruits and anything sweet.

Your favorite food? I’m always drawn to the unhealthy somehow—lechon and puso (hanging rice)!

Your favorite restaurants in the city?
For ambiance and taste, Anzani and Morals in Tinderbox.


Juanita Romualdez. photography Chester Baldicantos. hair and makeup Arnauld

Juanita Romualdez, 20
Singer, Songwriter, Project Coordinator of a Cebu-based literary organization

A typical morning for you?
Mornings for me now either go by in a rush or don’t exist at all. By that I mean I’m always busy—either I have to work or have errands to run during mornings. I live quite far from the city so I need to pace myself and give myself some allowance time for travel, so typically mornings go by with me running around the house to get ready. On slow days, mornings don’t exist because I would normally stay in bed for as long as I can and would head down at noon to grab brunch.

Do you eat breakfast everyday?
Eating breakfast is a constant argument between my parents and I. Since I’m mostly in a rush, I hardly ever eat breakfast. My mom would always insist that I eat a full meal, but I just think it takes too much of my time.

CEREAL AND FRUITS: • It’s the easiest recipe ever. Pour some cereal in a bowl, add some milk and sprinkle whatever dried fruit there is in the fridge on top. • Slice up fresh fruits to eat on the side. • My friend Gab Arcenas also got me onto his homemade granola. He buys granola from S&R, and mixes it with honey, nuts and other dried fruit. It’s really good and healthy.

Why do you like this particular dish for breakfast? I hate having to eat full meals because not only does it take up time, it also makes me feel heavy and sleepy. I chose quick meals like cereal and sliced fruit because they’re enough to fill my stomach without making me too full. They’re also easy to prepare, the no-cook kind of breakfast.

What would you never have for breakfast? I can’t really think of anything specific but I guess I would never eat spicy food in the morning, that would probably just mess my stomach up.

Your favorite food? My comfort food is and always will be sinigang. I absolutely love fast food, pizza and burgers. I could last months just eating pizza or burgers, but I won’t because I know it would probably kill me. I also really love Asian food—Japanese, Korean and Thai. My palette and heart will always have room for some Italian food.

Your favorite restaurants in the city?
I hardly ever eat out, and when I do it’s mostly at common fast food places. However, I used to frequent and enjoy Hola Espana when I still lived in Mactan—they have a great ox tongue dish and panna cotta. Nowadays, I would say that I love going to Topokki Man for some really good Korean food with reasonable prices. I’m sad that Choi City closed—I used to enjoy their hakao so much. I would also go to Kublai Khan for their check-a-bowls, good Japanese food at Nonki, S&R Pizza, Delice for good food and a good view. I’m just gonna have to put it out there that Edd’s Ngohiongan across USC-TC is definitely one of the places I love going to for ngohiong and stuffed egg paired with a special sauce you mix up using their mango sauce, chili sauce and soy sauce.


(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s November 2016 Entertaining Issue, “Breakfast Club” on pages 61-71.)

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ECQ EATS: The Ultimate Biko

Biko, a sweet rice cake from the Philippines made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and glutinous rice and is usually topped with latik.

The enthusiastic host Christine Pelaez gives the traditional Filipino dish an indulgent twist—a thicker, richer latik.

photography Philip Lapinid IV

With her collection of cookbooks, plates and cutlery, it’s clear that Christine Pelaez is someone who loves to entertain. From intimate sit-down dinners on their long dining table to larger occasions with buffet tables and catering, she enjoys welcoming people into her home and sharing the tastes she enjoys.

Christine Pelaez

“It depends on the guests really, but if it’s foreign guests, I always serve Filipino food,” she says when asked on what’s usually on her menu. “I usually make chicken binakol (chicken in coconut broth). Foreigners love it, especially when I serve it in a coconut shell!” And like any Cebuano, Christine agrees that no celebration is quite the same without lechon—Cang’s Lechon in Lahug being her roasted pig of choice.

Her biko, though, was the star of the afternoon. “The secret is the latik,” Christine reveals with a smile. The thick and rich topping makes her version a more indulgent take on the Filipino favorite, and it’s something we can’t wait to recreate in our own kitchens.



2 cups glutinous rice
2 cups water
2 cups brown sugar
4 cups coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt


Combine the sticky rice and water in a pot, and cook. If the water dries out and the rice isn’t cooked, add small amounts of water until rice is completely cooked.

To make the latik, combine the coconut milk with brown sugar and salt in a separate pot, and cook in low heat. Stir constantly, until the texture becomes thick. Set aside part of the latik.

Combine the rice and the latik, making sure to mix them well. Scoop the biko onto a baking tray, and top with the remaining latik.



Once the latik starts to thicken, set aside half of the mixture.

Mix one half with the cooked rice, and keep the other in the pot and continue to let it thicken. You can add more coconut milk, if you want to give it a richer taste. Keep cooking until the latik reaches an extra thick consistency.

Scoop the biko onto a baling tray, and top with the extra thick latik.


(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s October 2017 Entertaining Issue, “Christine Pelaez: The Ultimate Biko” on pages 26-27.)

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ECQ EATS: Home-Made Sandwiches

compiled by Chrissy Grey Resaba

Staying at home could be sometimes boring especially if one got used to going outside for lunches and dinners and entertainment. For people like this, it is quite discomforting but, they have no choice at all or yet, they may suffer a consequence should they break the rules of the government with regards to this crisis. To ease the situation, we have a tickle spot that can also shoo away boredom: food. 

Food is always our guilty pleasure. We can never say no to it. Be it a chocolate bar, chips, or a favorite breakfast cereals, there is always a happy feeling we get with food. To fight the boredom while staying at home, here is a comfort food that is palatable and easy to prepare–sandwiches!.

Who ever thought that two slices of bread could contain so much delicious goodness? It doesn’t get more basic than inserting food in between bread. You may opt to a basic ham and cheese sandwich or a breakfast sandwich or experiment your own foreign specialty like the bahn mi, it is a treat that everyone will surely love!

Try making these three easy-to-make delicious sandwiches:

  1. Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A buttery and toasty grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with cool and creamy guacamole, crispy bacon and melted jack and cheddar cheese.


2 slices bacon

2 slices sour dough bread or bread of your choice

1 tablespoon butter in room temperature

½ cup jack and cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons guacamole in room temperature

How to:

  1. Cook the bacon until crispy and set aside on paper towels to drain.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread, sprinkle half of the cheese onto the unbuttered side of one slice of bread followed by the guacamole, bacon, the remaining cheese and finally top with the remaining slice of bread with the buttered side up.
  3. Grill over medium heat until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes per side.

  1. Crispy Baked Chicken Sandwich

This will rival anything you can get in a fast food chain. A deliciously baked crispy chicken sandwich recipe with garlic mayo sauce.


1 tbsp virgin olive oil

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

Sea salt

Fresly ground black pepper

1 large egg

1 tbsp water

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cucumber

2 tomatoes

Unsalted butter

4 toasts

Lettuce leaves

How to:

  1. Gather all the ingredients
  2. Butterfly the chicken breast. With the edge of a knife parallel to the cutting board, cut the length of the side of the breast. Carefully slice the breast in half width-wise almost to the other edge. Keep the edge intact and open the breast along the fold. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Crack the egg into a medium bowl and add 1 tbsp water. Whisk well to combine.
  4. Put ¼ cup flour in a bowl (or large tray). Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess flour, then dip in the egg mixture.
  5. Slice the cucumber with a peeler and cut the tomato into thin slices.
  6. Toast the sandwich bread (optional) and spread butter. Put the lettuce and the chicken on top.
  7. Put the cucumber, tomato slices, and another toast on top. Cut the sandwich in half and serve immediately.

  1. Classic Tuna Salad Sandwich

This easy tuna salad recipe is one of the go-to easy lunches during the summer months and this enhanced community quarantine. It’s perfect in tuna salad sandwiches, too!


12 oz white flaked tuna in water (drained)

1 stalk celery finely diced

2 dill pickles finely chopped

1 green onion sliced

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Bread toasts

How to:

  1. Drain the tuna well.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Use to top a salad, in sandwiches or to add to pasta salads.

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