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13 posts from June 2005

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June 26, 2005

Yet Another Ultimate Chocolate Buffet (YAUCB) in Shangrila!

Shangrila Buffetmixing my choco drinkmy choco plateShangrila lobby choco buffet

Alot better than Manila Pen, but still not worth it :)

When I arrive last Saturday from a whole week meeting in Singapore, I was soo excited to eat in yet another Ultimate Choco Buffet in Shangrila Makati. Yes, it is a copy cat of the Manila Pen's ultimate choco buffet and we fall for it again. Who wouldn't fall for it with these descriptions:

" Ultimate Chocolate Buffet -- Indulge in a seemingly endless spread of mini valrhona cakes, royal chocolate gateaus and tempting truffles in the most remarkable chocolate showcase. Every Friday and Saturday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. "

Here are my two cents worth for those who are in the same target market of these choco buffets:

1). Choco Buffets are not worth it! For the price of P550 +10% service charge, you would die eating alot of the chocolates. The best that I can do is eat a small plate of the chocolate selections and the mixture of the best chocolate drink I've ever tasted. You should have a Shangrila Gold Card for a 20% discount or AMEX platinum for a 15% discount. We had an amex discount and we still netted out with P520 per person.

2). Shangrila is alot better than the Manila Pen. I should say that what I love most is the chocolate drink ala fondue. You could select the chocolate that they would put in your choco drink with skim milk and a touch of almond syrup/ kahlua or baileys. You should definitely try the 65% cacao chocolate. Also, come in early so that you could still get the strawberry covered with Chocolate. Other than these two, all the rest are nothing special from the creme brulee, to the mint chocolate, to the chocolate puddings and cakes. Don't expect any fondue that comes with different fruits for dipping because you would only get marshmallows.

>> More Pictures of our Shangrila Ultimate Choco Buffet Experience

June 20, 2005

Coldstone Creamery -- the cult ice cream is here!

Coldstone

Something different

I'm excited that coldstone is starting to test market their ice cream in the Philippines! This is in the league of cult food like what krispy cream did for donuts. However, the rockwell branch is just a test market place, and the final outlet would either be in podium or greenbelt. Also, they are just offering packaged "I like it" cup servings and the choices are limited. They only have three flavors: Strawberry Banana Rendezvous, Coffee Lovers only, Chocolate devotions, Apple Pie ala Cold Stone, and Birthday Cake Remix.

We tasted the Strawberry Banana and I did not find it specially different or maybe I'm just not an ice cream connoisseur. They said that the full line would be available in the final outlet and I can't wait for it to arrive!

>> More info on Coldstone Creamery
The initial coldstone creamery is located in rockwell near Fully Booked.

June 19, 2005

Father's Day @ Chinese Monk in Rockwell


Chinese Monk, Rockwell
Originally uploaded by antondiaz.

Chinese food without MSG!

We decided to celebrate in Father's day in Rockwell because we wanted to eat in a place that we have not been to, and at the same time easy to park and not alot of people. Rockwell fits nicely into this criteria and originally we were hoping to try out the N restaurant -- but it was closed. Since popsy's favorite (and mine) are chinese food, we decided to eat at Chinese Monk.

Chinese Monk is located in the Dencio's, Crustacia side of Rockwell. Surprisingly, there are alot of people who decided to eat here too and like us, wanted to avoid the many families celebrating father's day. I actually have mixed reviews about Chinese monk. One great thing about the food is that they don't use MSG similar to Zhongnanhai. I particularly like the Mixed Seafood Medley, the ribs, and Hot & Sour soup. However, some of the food tasted like Filipino Chinese like the Szchezuan Crab (which outrageously costs P580) which tasted like the sauce is with Ketchup. The Sesame Prawn Salad is too sweet with alot of Mayonnaise and alot of shrimp bread coating (really fattening).

This is not a good place to talk since in a typical chinese restaurant where there are no acoustic and you can barely hear each other. Also, if you arrive past 7.30pm there are already alot of people eating dinner, so I suggest to arrive before 7pm if you want to get a seat specially during special days.

June 17, 2005

Aidan's Flickr Photo Album -- Cool App!



flickralbum
Originally uploaded by antondiaz.

Cool!

I'm continuously amazed at how many cool applications are being created for Flickr. Recently, Henry Jones created the flickr Album application that creates a page-turning animated album that loads photos based on a flickr username or a certain photo tags. Now, this is a very promising beta application that if you would have the ability to personalize and download the album --- it would definitely be a killer app.

Check this out ---> Aidan's Flickr Album

>> Discussion Thread on Flickr Album in Flickr Central

June 15, 2005

A beach resort called Honey!


honey beach postcard 3
Originally uploaded by antondiaz.

Proceed with caution :)

I love beaches and when I got hold a copy of Philmap's beaches of the Philippines, I immediately looked for a beach area that is a driving distance from Manila but still exotic (or unexplored). I fell in love with the pictures of Honey Beach which is located in Sawang,Lobo, Batangas. Finally last Independence Day weekend, we had a chance with my wife's balikbayan friend, Espie. Yes, Lobo batangas beaches are not popular -- I can't find any google info about these beaches and nobody talks about them and I now understand why. Aside from the Philmap's article, which focuses too much on the positive and don't give you the negatives, I intend to give you local travelers, adventurers and beach lover like me what to expect and how to have a fun time in Lobo beaches.

Here are some of the key highlights:

Honey Beach Accomodation is OK for family/friends specially if you have kids! The place is a private resort (recently opened to the public) owned by the Macalintals who shuttles back and forth between the US and their retirement place in Honey Beach. There is a whole article on the background of the place in Philmap's article and I don't intend to replicate it here. There are only 2 airconditioned rooms (suppose to be good for 5 each but from experience one can have 4 and the other 3 persons that could sleep comfortably) and 2 cottages (suppose to be good for 12 there are only two beds and the rest should sleep in a banig or mattress). Resorts should be more truthful on the maximum capacity of the rooms considering that people are not skinny girls and people needs to sleep comfortably. Having said that, since the place is a little private it is ideal for kids because it is not crowded, there is a putting green where the kids can play with the golf balls, and the service is warm + personalized.

You would spend P3,500 for the airconditioned room and P600/person for 3 meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast). Service Charge is not included and they have a song and dance number when you arrive that encourages you to provide the staff tips if you feel happy about their service.

This is definitely a great place to relax and breath fresh air with your family and friends!

Honey Beach BargeSawang, Lobo BeachLobo, Batangas Sunsetrelaxing chairs

There are alot of negatives (consider yourself warned!)

1. The road going to Lobo is terrible (although it has improved alot from a few years ago) -- 20km of rough roads sporadically spread throughout your journey to Lobo. Bring a big car or SUV -- highly recommended.

2. The Lobo beaches sunrise is behind the mountains and sunsets in front of the resorts but still behind the mountains (not the horizon). You have a feeling that there is something wrong with your location and wanted to move the mountains. So this is not an ideal place for sunrise/sunset shots.

3. Although they would say that the beach area in front of the resort is already protected recently (proclaimed as a marine sanctuary)-- the catch is the corals are alread DEAD! It is so sad that the fisherman killed the vast corals and snorkeling is a sad experience. It's like looking through grey dead corals.

4. The beach area in front of honey beach is disappointing. It is definitely not white, lots of rocks, and it is only clear in the morning but looks murky in the afternoon. Don't expect a stretch of white beach along a cove. Although, there are nearby resorts which have the kind of beach (submarine, and lily) -- This would be next on our lists of places to explore.

Some tips on how to make your trip exciting and fun.

1. Since it is a private resort, there are only a few things you can order. We can't even order san mig light, peanuts, and the like. Since there are no corkage anyway, bring the drinks and junk foodies you need to make your stay alot more exciting. Drinking by the beach is definitely a must!

Ponte Fino Scenes

2. There are two ways to go to Lobo, one is via Batangas City and the other one via Rosario which is 30 minutes shorter. Both have a long stretch of rough roads. I would suggest to go via Batangas city (just follow the road going to Ponte Fino which leads all the way to Lobo) and on the way back go via the Rosario Batangas route. I suggest that you make Ponte Fino as a stop over and savor the nice view of the pool in this hotel. If you don't know your way to Ponte Fino, just go via Startoll-- exit batangas city-- turn right after the exit toll-- just go straight past the batangas pier and makro batangas-- turn left going to ponte fino and follow the signs. Email me if you need directions.

3. This is an ideal getaway from all the hussle and bussle of manila. So bring your close friends and family and enjoy the night away.

More Information:

>> Photoset on Honey Beach, Lobo Batangas
>> Honey beach tag on Flickr photo

Click below for the contact info:
Honey Beach info

June 10, 2005

Garduch enroute to conquering Mt. Everest! Next Stop: MT Cho Oyu!

(Romi Garduch is the first Filipino to climb the highest mountain in the western/southern hemisphere - Mt. Aconcagua 22,842ft/6962m (Argentina) and currently holds the highest recorded Filipino ascent)

Garduch (or Romy as we call him) is a good friend and co-worker in IT in P&G. I'm really excited for him and supporting him in all his climb-for-a-cause activities. I think he is trying to be the 1st ever Filipino to climb Mt. Everest! I would place a bet that he would beat the Philippine Everest Team because his strategy is to train himself and join other capable mountaineer to reach the Mt. Everest. In Contrast, the Philippine Everest team is as strong as the weakest person in that team.

He already was able to climb Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua. Now, he is set to climb Mt. Cho Oyu in Sept/October. I'm very happy that he started to blog and was inspired by Gavin Bates' Blog about climbing Everest.

Here is a description of Garduch from his blog:

Romi Garduch is a seasoned adventurer and an old-time mountaineer who has hiked and climbed mountains in more than 10 countries. He was the first Filipino to climb the highest mountain in the western/southern hemisphere - Mt. Aconcagua 22,842ft/6962m (Argentina) and currently holds the highest recorded Filipino ascent. He currently has eleven (11) high altitude peaks and high-passes under his sleeves (all above 15,000ft), including the famed Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro in East Africa (19,430ft), and Mt Pokhalde in Khumbu Nepal (19,000+ ft). He is a member of UPMountaineers (since 1991), and has started mountaineering trips abroad since 1998. Garduch started his international Climb for a Cause program in August 2004 (Elbrus, Russia), and continued with his 2nd in Dec/2004 (Aconcagua). This will be his 3rd climb for a cause.

>> 1st Climb-for-a-cause: Sept 2002: Mt. Kilimanjaro
>> 2nd Climb-for-a-cause: Dec/Jan 2004: Mt. Aconcagua
>> 3rd Climb-for-a-cause: Sept/Oct 2005: Mt. Cho Oyu

Don't forget you can support his climb-for-a-cause by pledging P1 for every 100FT and the proceeds will go to the cartwheel foundation. Read more in the Mt. Cho Oyu Climb for a Cause Blog!

I'll keep you guys posted on my blog on Romi's progress. BTW, there are funny shots in his training escapades blog, check it out--> Training Escapades -2005.

June 09, 2005

We love Flickr -- Pinoy Style! (The 1st Flickr Philippines meet!)


We love Flickr! -- FlickrPH
Originally uploaded by antondiaz.

This is the first eyeball or meet that I've attended of any online group here in the Philippines. I must say that for some reason I feel at ease with meeting total strangers for the first time. Even though I'm recuperating from my sickness I had to go, anyway, I have to get the PMBok from the office for the PMP certification. The meeting was organized by Jolengs/ Stitch and I was glad to host them in Makati @ CPK :) Although, they later on found out my interior motive that CPK, Glorietta is walking distance from our office :) (but still I came in late at 7pm) The Flickr meeting went beyond my expectation. The flickr folks are very down to earth, friendly, and we share a common interest --- love for photos and love for flickr!

There were 12 of us, which is a good number, so that you make sure that you are able to interact with all of them. Seeing there photo streams in flickr and chatting with them is something else. The eyes of pinoy flickrs are like windows to their world and you can peep into them via the flickr portal. Meeting and interacting with these windows in person is an enriching experience. Here are some of the revelations that I had during the EB meet:

-- All of us are photo enthusiasts! No professional photographer in the group. ( We think that Estan would be an exemption to this)
-- Ayeona is her last name and the pictures of the rice terraces are not from Banaue but from Berlig or eastern part of mountain province.
-- Subic is building a mansion in Subic! (Venue for the next Philippines Flickr meet!)
-- Jolengs/Ayeona are currently unemployed and having fun with their camera/ flickr.
-- Jolengs has the cellphone contact of most pinoy flickrs. Hows that for a P.R.O.?
-- There is no Lilo! (period) Although, we are still teasing Stitch to find one :)
-- General Associations: Gani and 'Enzo are officemates in Holy Cow. 'Enzo and Stitch are lomo enthusiast while BingBing has a Lomo gathering dust at home.
-- Koolitz and Gani bought there weapon of choice (canon rebel xt and canon eos 66, respectively) -- Canon Enthuliast like me :)
-- Luisgaskob is a nude art photographer! You should see his works :) You need to attend one of these meets first so that he can tag you as a friend...
-- Lolay has charmed the flickr team and gave her 3 months pro account trial.

Glad to meet all of you! Know my flickr viewing gets more exciting :)

>> Flickr Photoset on the 1st Philippine Flickr meet!
>> Tag: Pinoy Flick Meet

June 06, 2005

Jessica's prediction came true! I'm seriously sick...


unwinding
Originally uploaded by antondiaz.

Last May 14, I had a tarot card reading session with Psychic Jessica (girl 2nd from right) during my 1st intramuros tour with Carlos Celdran (I'll discuss this on a separate blog post). I don't actually believe in these predictions or "hula" in Filipino but I find them amusing and entertaining. However, this particular session was very explicit, she only mentioned one thing that I will get sick -- soo sick because of stress and work. I did not pay attention too much to the reading and continued with my way of life as if I'm healthy and can handle all work, and life throws at me. Fast forward to today (June 6), after three days of cough and colds, the doctor diagnosed me with Pneumonitis which is already close to a relapse of pneumonia which I already had when I was in High School. Due to this diagnosis, I needed to stay at home for a week and drink about 5 medicines which included cough syrup, antibiotic,vitamins, phelgm expectorant. For three days now, I cannot play with my son, Aidan because of he might get infected with cough and colds as well...

So what's my learning in all of these? It's a cliche really, that there are more important things in life than just work. My own health is very important and you should not abuse your body. Think of your family and their need to have a healthy dad all the time. As for the psychic Jessica, I'm waiting for her prediction to Mike Best to come true that Mike and his wife will have a baby boy before I truly believe :). (Mike insists that they don't plan to have another child aside from their two daughters)