Lanie’s Batac empanada: Deviating from tradition

Deconstructed Empanada

My most frequented empanadista in Batac, Lanie Simbulan (of Lanie’s Empanada), opens a Lanie’s Fastfood focusing on new forms of the uber popular orange turnover thingy while still maintaining her traditional empanadahan by the Batac Riverside.

We got curious. The old empanada is still offered, but as the diner from San Nicolas says, Lanie has made innovations. “Sa tinagal-tagal ko na sa Ilocos, ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganito. Masarap.” He was referring to the tacos empanada laid in front his big group.


The tacos empanada is a semi-deconstructed empanada with a cheesy accent replacing the egg. Lanie also created the empanada burger with a green patty. I asked permission to photograph someone’s, so I really can’t make a precise description at this time. There’s also the bagnet burger.

Empanada BurgerEmpanada burgerLapitog:)shabu shabu

 In addition to the new ways of enjoying Batac empanada, shabu-shabu bowl, miki, lomi, bihon/canton guisado, silogs that include bagnetsilog, are on the menu. The turo-turo counter is filled with legit Ilocano dishes.

Ilocanos apparently are embracing the novelty. Manning the counter, Ceazar Torres  says, the tacos empanada is the bestseller. Prices are good.

Lanie's MenuLanie's Fast Food

Lanie’s Fastfood Valdez St, Brgy. 1 – Concepcion, Batac City, Ilocos Norte Open from 8:30 to 1 AM. (Located near the Batac Shell station and the Immaculate Conception Church.)

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

The Loveliness book from Two Lovely People

Loveliness The Book

A package arrives. I open it. Loveliness. It’s Ace and Kit’s self-published book of beautiful photos that capture their very heart and art.

I browse through the pages. I see the first line from a post in this blog.

“A match made in heaven. I’m referring to husband and wife team Ace and Kit Mandac’s mutual artistry and propensity for fine taste.” (Full story here).

Happiness is when you see something and a tear rolls down. I’m happy for Ace and Kit. And Ava. The words in the line are the most accurate words for the couple. I’m not exactly close to them, but respect and admiration for what they are, what they do, and how they treat people in an utmost professional manner, whether clients or not, has brought them close to my heart. Their good taste is more than skin-deep… the loveliness in them both.

Loveliness is about Inspiration and Dedication. It’s also about the couple’s journey as artists.

PackageThe BookAce and KitInside LovelinessLoveBouquets

Visit Ava’s on Gen. Segundo Ave (Bacarra Road), if you need to order a copy.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Alvin Cariaso, the man behind Lente Iloco

Alvin Cariaso 1

Something wonderful came up. I met this guy on the phone ‘coz I had to inquire about a hexacam, and then a beautiful inspiring story started to unfold. I was up on the computer the whole afternoon, talking to him about life and his newfound passion for photography.

Not enough to ruin his spirit, his unfortunate first break more than a year ago led him to strive hard to be one of Ilocos Norte’s sought-after photographers and videographers, though he still calls himself a newbie.

Alvin Cariaso was born in Apayao. His dad passed away when he was still a small boy. He and his mother moved to Laoag in the 90s. As if trying to tell him something, he also eventually lost his mother and a sister, making him a complete orphan. In his own words, he says, “I used to be happy-go-lucky.”

Alvin Cariaso 2

He has a masters in information technology from the St. Paul University in Tuguegarao. Trying to make both ends meet, before his current teaching position at Northwestern University, he worked as merchandiser, and then supervisor at a gas station He now finds inspiration from his two children, a boy and a girl.

Q&A with Alvin Cariaso

What sparked your passion for photography?

I started photography in Sept 2012. I had difficulties in setting the camera because I don’t have formal education in photography. I bought a camera for personal use. I’m a hobbyist. I used to play with remote-controlled helicopters and planes. My cousin, who was doing photography, brought me along to his wedding shoots until the time that I was given my own chance to shoot, but without pay. I always got laughed at by my cousin, so every time I would go home from school, because I also teach at Northwestern University, I stay on the net to learn from YouTube tutorials. I mustered courage to ask one of my students if we could shoot. That was the pilot testing of the photography skills I gained from YouTube. I didn’t even know how to edit  back then. One of my relatives was getting married and offered to hire me as photographer. Minimum charge lang and a collaboration with my photographer cousin. I consider it a failure. I didn’t finish the layouts ‘coz my cousin lost the files. After that, I decided to move on and told myself — it is time to stand on my own two feet. I hired talents with gadgets, ‘pag may offer, til I was able to invest in new equipment.

Alvin Cariaso 3photo by Lente Iloco 21

What is Lente Iloco all about?

Lente Iloco is a photography and videography group that caters to any occasion for Ilocanos.

Do you enjoy your work?


Do you always have a camera with you even on ordinary days?

Yes, especially when I travel.

Cape Bojeador

Portraiture or landscape photography?


What can you tell photographers who are just starting?

Be creative, be yourself, be a natural. Never stop innovating. Be a warrior. In everything we do, dapat may tiyaga.

Alvin’s Work

 photo by Lente Iloco 4photo by Lente Iloco 19photo by Lente Iloco 24photo by Lente Iloco 23photo by Lente Iloco 22

photo by Lente Iloco 5photo by Lente Iloco 3photo by Lente Iloco 2photo by Lente Iloco 16Santa Monica Churchphoto by Lente Iloco 20photo by Lente Iloco 7photo by Lente Iloco 8photo by Lente Iloco 12photo by Lente Iloco 13photo by Lente Iloco 14photo by Lente Iloco 15photo by Lente Iloco 10photo by Lente Iloco 9

Lente IlocoLente Iloco booth

Contact Alvin Cariaso via the Lente Iloco page on FB (here), or call him —  +63 917 731 9668 / 0949 844 5605

All photos courtesy of Alvin Cariaso
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

My best cheese ever and Vault

Vault 2014 No 4

I suddenly ran out of words to say. Let me start, my Davao food adventure with FoodPrints  brought me to write a story about the Malagos Farmhouse artisanal cheese. It was a very hectic morning in Davao and inside the van, at 5:30 AM, I had cold feet. Not to mention the late night taping at a chicken and rib joint prior to this assignment. I’ve never met anyone at Vault, but I was told that editor-in-chief Mr. David Celdran was asking me to write a cheese story for Vault, adjudged Best New Magazine by the Asian Publishing Awards in 2012. Published by ABS-CBN Publishing Inc, Vault is a luxury magazine for the sophisticated man. I wanted to say no, but how can I say no to a great opportunity to be working with super creative people? I personally love the sharp stylin’ look of Vault. My husband is a classic vintage fanatic and I learned to love his taste, so Vault, definitely, is something to collect. On top of that, I’m the incurable cheese lover.

Superthanks to so many people — Mr. David Celdran, Karl Castro, Barry Viloria, Julio Silvestre, the entire Vault editorial team, the Puentespina family, Olive and Bo, my FoodPrints family, Jennie Celdran, Melanie de Leon, Iggy Bilbao, our wonderful tour guide Ruben Neri, the van driver, Davao DOT, Ms. Vanessa, the Apo View Hotel, my husband, and Ericke, who acts as my personal editor sometimes.

PackageVault 2014 No 4

My Vault 2014 No. 4 finally arrives.


Check out major bookstores for the latest issue dedicated to craftsmanship. It should also be ready for download at Zinio right now.


It can fit into my purse. The size is so convenient — one of the things I love about Vault

VaultMalagos FarmhouseVault 2014 No 4Olive 3

My photo of Olive Puentespina the cheesemaker. I had the wonderful privilege of writing a Q&A with her. I’m so amazed at her drive and intense passion to make cheesemaking real in a country like ours.

Dr. Bo Puentespina

Dr. Bo Puentespina takes care of the herd and makes sure Olive’s milk is delivered to her in impeccable condition.

Charita Puentespina

One of the best breakfasts we had in Davao was at the Puentespina vacation house hosted by a lady who inspires with her many advocacies, no other than Mrs. Charita Puentespina, who I’m soon featuring here in the blog. The flowers are grown in the farm.

Malagos Farm BreakfastKesong Puti and Bignay Jam on Pan de Sal

A slice of kesong puti with bignay jam, made from bignay berries from the Malagos Farm.

TabletopThe VetGoatMalagos Farmhouse Cheeses

At Leon’s Lounge, the tasting room of the Malagos Farmhouse Cheeses.

Vault MagazineUntitled
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014