TRAVEL INSPO | 20 Questions with The Tummy Train

I can't remember how exactly I first discovered Clarisse Panuelo's blog, The Tummy Train. It must have been because I was searching for cupcakes (or cookies, I really can't tell now), but one thing I know: one look at her stunning photos and I knew I was going to spend a lot of time browsing her site. I was hooked. I was amazed. I was envious. And man, she travels a lot too! Her photos (and videos) are so good, and if I hadn't read her About Me, I wouldn't have known that this was a Filipino blog.

photo credit:

Not that I'm saying Filipino blogs are bad, but you know sometimes, I think that Filipinos don't know how to use their our (yes, including me) creativity. We as a people are incredibly talented and resourceful, but in some aspects—blogging, for one—it seems that a lot of people have given up. Most just do "whatever works", and worse, some just copy. As one of my friends said, most people don't have "the desire to change the world".

photo credit:

I'm not sure if you understand what I mean, but let me just tell you this: Cla is different. Every blog post has substance. Every recipe is well thought of—hey, it's not easy to experiment then cook then fail then cook again, and above all these, shoot photos and videos of each step. She doesn't care much about what's in, she just pours everything into each piece of her work. She's committed to her blog, and to the people who read it, and that's why she's one of my favorite bloggers in the Philippines. Allow me to put the spotlight on her in this edition of 20 Questions.

1 | In today's world where people read less and less, what still inspires you to create awesome (and lengthy) write-ups in your blog?

I think like any blogger, I also have days when I ask myself if anyone is actually reading what I post. But I always remind myself why I started my blog in the first place, and that is for me to have a place to bring out my creativity. It has also become a way for me to challenge myself to become better at photography, writing, and cookery.

I definitely agree that people are reading less these days, but I don’t mind even if sometimes they only come to my blog for the pictures since that is also a part of how I express my creativity. Whenever someone surprises me with a comment after actually reading my post though, that really gives me a motivational boost. 

2 | You have been to a lot of places. Which are the top 3 destinations you’ve visited that first come to mind?

I may sound biased for saying this but I love Asia. Right now, I’m interested in the food and culture of Japan and also South Korea. I know it sounds a bit cliché since people are flocking there at the moment, but I really like learning about these two countries on a deeper level. I am fascinated!

The other most memorable place I visited recently is definitely New York. It has such a different energy compared to all the other places I’ve ever visited. 

photo credit:

3 | Has a destination ever made you cry because of so much beauty? Which one?

It hasn’t happened yet, but I would like for it to happen soon. 😉

4 | Are you an over-planner or a spontaneous traveler? An over-packer or a light packer?

I don’t think I fit in just one category. When I’m traveling, I like to make an itinerary of the places I want to hit up per day, but I make sure I have time to stop and appreciate each location. If I have this sudden urge to stay longer in a certain place, then I let my feet (and tummy) take me where they want to go!

As for packing, I guess I’m more on the overpacker side? Actually I pack just enough clothes for the number of days I’m in a country, but I also like to pack skincare products and other girl stuff. They can get heavy haha! 

5 | It’s very rare to find a really good travel-and-food blog like yours. In terms of percentage, what kind of a traveler are you (i.e. more of a foodie or an adventure seeker, etc.)?

Thank you for your kind words! I think I am 40% foodie, 30% culture/nature appreciator, and 30% seeker of unique experiences or thrills.

photo credit:

6 | Top 3 international bucket list for 2018?

I’m being a bit ambitious this year in terms of traveling, even though my budget (and VL) is limited! I am aiming for Autumn in Seoul, plus a getaway with friends in Taiwan. I also want to finally go to that long-awaited trip with my cousins to Hokkaido. 

I also have some local destinations in mind. I would love to finally visit El Nido! Either that or try out surfing in La Union.

7 | Your recipes always make our mouths water! Among everything you’ve created, which 3 are you most proud of?

Wow this is tough! 

I think the Purple Ombré Cake I made a few years back will always have a special place in my heart. It started out as a birthday gift for my purple-loving best friend, but it became one of my personal favorite cakes because it is as yummy as it is pretty!

photo credit:

I also feel proud of the ice cream sandwiches I’ve made so far for some reason. This Classic Ice Cream Sandwich in particular throws me back to my childhood in the best way. It has a special place in my heart too!

Lastly, I have to mention the collection of chocolate chip cookie recipes I’ve tried. I don’t like sweets much but I find cookies hard to resist, especially when it’s a chewy choco chip cookie haha! This recipe was very popular on the blog for a time.

8 | What are your top 3 destinations for food?

Japan is definitely a great destination for food. I haven’t had anything bad there. (I like even the infamous natto!) Even the convenience store food is impressive. Taiwan also offers some great food that won’t break the bank, but I honestly think our own country has some amazing cuisine to offer. One of my 2018 goals is to write more about Filipino food. 

9 | Most unforgettable meal in your travels?

I would have to say having kaiseki meals— those beautifully prepared small-serving set meals— in Japan has changed the way I appreciate food. Grabe. I can’t imagine the skill and the mastery you need to possess to be able to make those edible pieces of art! Every part of the kaiseki meal will make you want to slowly savor each bite, and you’ll want each bite to last forever.

photo credit:

10 | Biggest food misadventure during your travels?

Believe it or not, I haven’t encountered any so far! (Hoping it stays that way haha!)

11 | What camera(s) do you use?

I use a Canon EOS 7D for recipe photos and most of my travels. For restaurants though, I prefer to bring along a smaller camera in the Fujifilm XE2.

12 | What do you think is the future of food blogging in the Philippines?

I think more people will veer towards food videos ala Tasty. It’s definitely time to explore how to make engaging food videos from now on. Photos will still be relevant but they must be really eye catching and should have short and clever captions. (Bonus points for moving photos or Boomerangs.) It’s really sad that people are less interested in reading though, and this trend will probably continue in the future.

photo credit:

13 | If you had PhP1M right now, where would you go first?

All the places I can see the Northern Lights! I’m certain this will be one of sights that will make me cry because of its beauty. 

14 | If you had PhP1M right now, where would you EAT first?

I would eat in Gordon Ramsay’s London restaurants. Being a big fan of Gordon, this is one of the items in my foodie bucketlist! I heard he makes regular inspections in his London restos so the food will for sure be spectacular. Another thing I would love to experience is Sukiyabashi Jiro in Japan. A meal here costs a fortune but it’s always booked a year in advance anyway. That says a lot!

15 | Your biggest idol/inspiration?

In terms of blogging, I really admire Joy The Baker. She has achieved so much success because she is talented; but more importantly, she is very genuine, and you can feel it in her posts. (Also, her recipes are amazing!) There are many other blogs that have more jaw dropping photographs, but they lack the warmth and humor of Joy The Baker’s blog. She’s just #goals.

photo credit:

16 | Top 3 favorite bloggers?

Aside from Joy The Baker, I admire a lot of bloggers, both local and foreign. I love to read about other people’s adventures and I’ve grown to appreciate the different styles of different bloggers for different reasons. These bloggers are a great source of inspiration for me. (You’re one of them, Pepe!) It’s hard to pick just three favorites. 

Any time I’m stuck in a rut, I visit different pages just to remind myself that I belong to this great community of people, and that I want to make content as awesome as the ones they make. Actually I’ve been lucky enough to be personally acquainted with some amazing bloggers, and I think if you meet the right people, the blogging community you are exposed to becomes a warm and nice place to be in.

photo credit:

17 | You seem very shy, graceful, and modest in the blog and in social media. Tell us one quirky/shocking thing your followers/readers don't know about.

This is the first time I’ve ever been referred to as graceful hahaha! I guess something I don’t get to really share on the blog is my love for being active. I love doing different kinds of physical activities— workouts and sports. On the flipside, I also really love drawing and painting. Before I discovered a love for anything else, I was already into art as a kid. My classmates thought I’d be an artist or something along that line of work. When I have free time, I paint and post the results on my personal Instagram @clapanuelos

18 | What do you think of Filipino travelers as opposed to foreign travelers?

I think Filipinos are often a lot more disciplined when they’re in another country haha! In all seriousness though, it’s hard to generalize. People travel for different reasons, and I can only hope it’s not just “for the gram” or to have something to post on Facebook. Pinoys are super into Facebook, although I know a lot of Pinoys who travel for the thrill of discovering new places too. I think it’s the same for foreigners. There will be those who travel for no other reason than to brag, but there are others who travel because it makes them feel fulfilled.

It’s really interesting to note though that whenever I spot backpackers, 8 out of 10 times they will be foreigners. But to me that doesn’t mean that you are labeled a “real traveler” just because you do that. As long as you find meaning in the places you visit, regardless of race or how you travel, that makes you a proper traveler in essence.

photo credit:

19 | What surprising thing have you learned about yourself in all your travels?

That I give myself too little credit in terms of how well I can get along with others. 

I was lucky enough to join two press trips in the recent past: first was in South Korea with a group of people from different countries, and the other was in Sapporo with a Filipino bloggers group. To tell you honestly, my excitement was marred with fear and doubt. Since I have never traveled abroad with complete strangers before, there was this constant worry over whether I was going to fit in or get along with them. 

Growing up, I thought of myself as a shy introverted type who always needed time to become friends with others. Surprisingly, I was able to hit it off with my companions during both these travels. Maybe I was lucky also since they were so gracious that they made me feel comfortable about showing my real self. But it was during these trips that I realized I had unknowingly placed myself into this semi-anti-social box. I was very pleasantly surprised that I can make friends with others that quickly naman pala. So it became a personal achievement moment for me since it changed the way I perceived myself. Now I’m hoping to build more friendships in 2018! (And of course make my old friendships stronger.)

20 | Favorite travel moment last year?

Sapporo February 2017. It was my first time experiencing snow, plus I met and became fast friends with Yosh Dimen of The Poor Traveler and Abi Javellana of Our Awesome Planet. We stayed in Sapporo for 4 days only, but this friendship was such a pleasant surprise! It made snowy Sapporo even more memorable. 😊

photo credit:

Follow Cla on her websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

If you like my posts and would love regular updates on travel photos, food finds, restaurant reviews, dance articles, and drunken tales, follow Pepe Samson on Facebook!

pepe samson

About Pepe Samson

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.
    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment

Let me know what you think!