Monthly Archives

August 2006


Pampanga Food Trip- A Culinary Tour of Pampanga 1.0

Spanky Tours Group Photo in Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant. (Left to Right) Anton, my wife Rachelle, my son Aidan, Jay from Globe, Yuga of fame, Abe from Convergys, Spanx our passionate tour guide blogging at, and Ajay of or Blog-o-rama fame.

I don’t know where to begin.

This was one of my dream culinary tour because I know that the Pampanga area is home of the best dishes in our country. Thanks to Spanx for sharing with us the word-of-mouth culinary secrets of the Pampanga area. We are now going to name this the Spanky Tours of Pampanga because of his passion and enthusiasm to show us around his hometown. This is a one-of-a-kind culinary tour and it beats the tours of any travel agencies because of Spanky’s personal approach and you can feel the passion in him when he starts to share stories, food and history of the place. This meet was a barkada-food-gimik-cum-eye-ball of online friends and blog readers who like to eat, travel and take photos.

Someone should start to organize a Viaje del Sol equivalent in Pampanga, to promote do-it-yourself culinary tours in Angeles and San Fernando. In the absence of such, I’m glad that we have Spanx to show us the way and we are happy to share this experience with you. These culinary tours are not limited only to Filipino food because the intent of these food explorations is to savor the best of the best in the Pampanga area. We just scratched the surface and these Pampanga tours will be an ongoing series until we have explored the best of the best.

Join us in this food experience and we can assure you that this is one-of-a-kind adventure.

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Bonifacio Global City

Piazza Serendra slowly coming to life…

The Best of Serendra by Our Awesome Planet
Piazza Serendra slowly coming to life…
Bonifacio High Street and Serendra Piazza (a Photo Essay)

Top 10 Restaurants In Serendra by OAP
1. Chelsea, Chelsea by the Market Market!
2. Abe means good filipino food!
3. Duo of Serendra: Chef Mao and Larry Cortez
4. Breakfast at Portico’s
5. Mezzaluna-First Night High!
6. Cupcakes+Sonja: Opening Nights and Creating the Cupcake Craze in the Philippines?
7. Balducci Birthday Bash
8. Aloha Polu Kai!
9. Thai at Silk @ Piazza Serendra
10. Oh My Guava!

I visited Serendra last Friday night and still only a few people know that Guava (Aug. 11) and Gaudi (Aug. 15) are opened already. The white balls are in place and my son, Aidan had fun playing hide and seek between them. There are still a lot of construction happening in the place and my estimate that it would be fully operational in September. The ground floor of Piazza is all restaurants so Imagine my delight in seeing all the new names exclusive only in Serendra. The second floor are mostly services for the Serendra community. Parking is still free and the place is not too crowded yet.

Let me give you an early preview of Piazza at Serendra.

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[Dear Awesome Planet #5] a few photography and blogging questions

Hi Anton,

I’m reading your blog for almost a week now and I must say that I’m impressed with it. The contents are very informative and the pictures are well composed (especially the food pictures). I also like taking pictures of where I’m going and what I’m doing and I’m currently using a Canon 350D to record these. But I have a few problems, First is that I’m not getting any good food photographs with my on-board flash, everything looks washed out or overexposed. The second one is I often get asked sometimes stopped by managers, store owners, waiters, guards, etc in taking photos which I find very irritating/disappointing. They often ask for some kind of permit or something.(kelangan ba talaga non?)

I would just like to ask, are you using any kind of setup/equipment for this food shots like some backlight, reflector cards, etc or are you just using available light inside the resto? And also, how do you gain access to these restos. I mean, do they really allow you to take pics of their menu, food and interior. Do you have any pre-arrangements with the owners/managers or you just walk-in like any regular customer and take pictures.

For now I’m resorting to landscape and travel photography because of that no-taking-of-picures-unless-you-have-a-permit thing in malls and most establishments in Metro Manila (tourist destinations are easier to photographers)


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#Restaurants, Bonifacio Global City

Oh my Guava!

Guava is the first restaurant to open in Piazza @ Serendra area. This one-week-old restaurant offers Filipino fusion with unique food items in the menu. Bernard Dee is the Chef consultant who created the fusion menu with items like Kare kare with Bagoong & Tsokolate, Monggonisa, and Pininoy na Foie Gras. He warmly welcomed us together with Gary who gave us very good food recommendations and allowed us to take photos. Chef Bernard even cooked us Salmon in Guava broth and it was not even in the menu. He also took time explaining to us the different guava dishes they serve and how it is prepared and cooked.

So while having fun with our usual photo food session as the dishes arrives on our table, one of the owners started questioning us. I thought to myself, oh no, not one of those old school No Photography policies again. One of them even told me to set an appointment if I want to take photos — how ridiculous is that? They can’t believe that I do photography as a hobby and I don’t get compensated for it — they probably think I’m nuts (But you all know how I love what I’m doing). They kept on giving me a skeptical eye that I might steal their menu since I’m not from print media or tv. When I told them that I blog places I go to and I want to feature their restaurant, one of the owners again gave me a frown (I told myself, why do I even bother give this resto free advertising). She said they plan to franchise the restaurant and they don’t want it to be copied by anyone — which is fair I guess. All of the five owners were there, and only Gary really gave us a warm smile and greeting– we truly appreciate it!I dislike restaurants owners do not care about customer service. But I guess, lets give this 60sq pioneering resto in Serendra the benefit of the doubt that this would only happen to me and it is an exception.

The Verdict: We love the Monggonisa (definitely a must try!) and Sinigang in Guava broth. My wife avoids eating Sinigang as much as she can but to my surprise, she loved the soup. She even asked to have my share! It was an interesting concept that the Pritchon is prepared in front of you with various selections of sauces but it just occupies a space where you could still add a table. We were hoping to try the Pininoy na Foie Gras but it was not available so if there would be a next time, we would surely try this best selling appetizer. The bagoong tsokolate is a winner because of its unique taste where the saltiness of the bagoong is subdued by the chocolate. Stay away from the desserts. Overall, I think it is expensive at P400/ head with rice at P45 and 3 pieces of pritchon with small cuts of lechon already at P185. As for customer service, let me know what’s your experience once you’ve tried this place.

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My P&G Days...

Olay Beauty Imaging System – Finally in the Philippines!!

At last, I can finally share with you an interesting piece of patented beauty imaging system that our company is introducing along with the launch of Olay. This week we launched Olay Total Effects to the trade and to the who’s who of Philippines society. Baghag has the scoop on the Olay Launch in Shangrila last Thursday:

Socialclimbing hag Log: OLAY Total Effects + TRESOR (
” After a few times of usage of Total Effects, we met up with the other women who were part of this group, and had a nice lunch at Shangrila Hotel, to discuss the after effects of the product. Our skin underwent this “age test” through this cool machine which basically mapped out pores, age spots, wrinkles, and fine lines. Let me say this first– my skin, is actually pretty bad. I have a lot of age spots and fine lines. To top that, I have huge pores. So when I took that skin test, and the result was that my skin fell on the 21- year old age group, I laughed it all off. But hey, it felt great! 😀 So I religiously used this product to this day 🙂 Olay is the same product that our mothers used back when we were just tiny tots, and now I guess it is really our turn to start using the product. Our moms have sworn by it, and now I am one of the moms who swear by it 🙂 (Olay Total Effects is not yet available in the local market, but soon will be :D)”

This cool machine that baghag was talking about is what we call the Olay Total Effects Beauty Imaging System. You will love this! The system identifies your facial skin defects such as age spots, and wrinkles. It objectively quantifies the severity of those skin defects vs that of your peers (in terms of age and race). The system provides accurate analysis for the women because its database is mostly women. Furthermore, all the people who have been tested to date in the Philippines is included in the database. How cool is that? So for men, you can also try it but your skin will be compared to a higher standard of women’s skin. The first versions were developed in Japan and made commercially available as early as June of 1999 in Kyoto, Japan. These imaging systems are used in our SK-II prestige counters.

Of course, I have to try it and I was alarmed that my wrinkles are similar to a 40 years old woman! My skin spots and textures are in line with my age group (at least). I need to live a stress-free life! I’m also starting to be convinced that I need to use a skin care product. I was going to use my free Olay total effects sample, but my wife gave me THE look. BTW, you can have your skin tested over time so that you can track skin improvements specially, if you use a skin care product. The consultation is for FREE but of course, you just have to listen to an Olay sales pitch (which is not bad at all).

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a Fleur de Lys Discounted Experience

Who can resist a 10% discount coupon for a foodie person like me who have never been to Fleur de Lys? So, we headed to Tomas Morato to get our taste of Fleur de Lys. Thanks to Lori for offering this discount to all DCF readers this month of August. Hmmn…. I was wondering when could I ever give a discount like that through OAP (naks). (Mental note: I should try using that acronym some more…) I also have a lot of readers who continuously recommend Fleur de Lys.

Unfortunately, the famous strawberry pie was not available and we were not able to try out the meringue dessert, Pavlova Picasso. So we were left with the Jackie Ang-po’s best sellers: Macademia pie, the Next Best Thing, and the latest, Dulce & Gabanna tart. The names were indeed interesting and the first time I realized that the names plus presentation could influence your taste buds. At the end of the meal, we did not find the desserts particularly special. Maybe it is just me. But I wouldn’t drive to this place all the way from Makati. Certainly, it is the best dessert place so far in the Tomas Morato area since i don’t frequent this area so often.

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Mt. Pinatubo

Tacsiyapo Wall @ Isdaan, Gerona Tarlac

Intrigera! Tsismosa! Taksil! Magnanakaw!

Tacsiyapo!! Shame on You!!

Aahh, what a way to release your anger… It depends on how angry you are, you can smash a P15 cup or P1,300 working TV (yeah, a big TV). I don’t know who would be crazy enough to drive for 3 hours from Manila just to throw a TV into a wall… But I must admit, this is a great gimik and a good marketing publicity for Isdaan.

A lot of people are intimidated to stop by this place because of its cheesy childish design with stone giants. But here is a tip for you, this is the best place to stop over before driving back to Manila after that Baguio or Pagudpud trip. In the past, Hacienda Luisita was my favorite place for that last dinner stop before NLEX but now it is merely a Starbucks stop.

We love it here.

It is a good place for families with kids who can play around in this floating restaurant and be entertained by the giant structures. The food is as good as Barrio Fiesta food, so it is a good stop for Filipino food if you have Balikbayans with you. The tacsiyapo wall, frankly, is just a wall which you will realize after wasting your P15 for a mug. But if you are really raging mad at that time, this is a sure way to release your anger while shouting “Tacsiyapo” and throwing away the mug or whatever you have chosen to smash onto the wall! Lastly, they have a San Kilo Bridge, where they would give you a free 1 kilo of tilapia, if you are able to successfully cross the bridge back and forth. We tried this successfully and we got 4 pieces of free grilled tilapia 🙂 Best time to go here is in the evening so that it is a little cooler and you’ll be prepared for any eventualities with the San Kilo Bridge.

Let me show you around Isdaan, so that next time you don’t miss the fun happening in this place.

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Awesome Filipinos

The Bloomfields: Making 60’s music look Cool!

blooms in baguio, originally uploaded by ulan25. (Thanks to Ian Rica Roxas for the Photo)
From Left to Right: Lakan Hila, Pepe Lozano, Louie Poco, Rocky Collado, Jay Jay Lozano (see
band profiles)

I’ve never seen a band play the 60’s music and wow the crowd like crazy! I’ve never enjoyed Rock and Roll until last night at Conways Shangrila. (Ok, I know Conways now caters to what we call the paying crowd or the oldies audience) I guess this is how it feels like back then to enjoy the music of the Beattles, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Lewis and others. They play their hearts out like there is no tomorrow and you can see all of them are having fun. They are very talented from the drummer, to the basist, to the guitarist, and the pianist — to top it off, all of them sings! You can see that some ladies find them charming.

They approached their performance in a purist kind of way. They came in orchestrated 60’s tight coat and tie, complete with the hairdo, top to bottom. Their choreography was amazing from the kneeling on the stage while playing the guitar to jumping all at the same time in a 60’s splitting fashion. Such energy! They played with their expensive vintage guitars that produces sound that may be the envy of all the other bands. The drummer Rocky performed for more than 5 minutes and everybody loved it enough to almost give him a standing ovation. The pianist, Lakan Hila, played and sang Great balls of fire to a dancing crowd almost like Jerry Lewis. These guys are unbelievably talented and their re-mixed retro 60’s music is the best in the country today. The crowd were unstoppable that evening.

I just learned that these guys are lasalistas who started playing together back in grade school music classes in La Salle Greenhills (see: Rocking with their groovy tunes . . . and their moptops). I don’t usually rave about bands — never until now. I know that they will be one of the greatest musicians in the country. Check out their official website for band gig schedules:

As for me, I’m now a Fan. Rock on Bloomfields!


Shopping Secrets

The Big Garment Sale: By Invitation Only

This is becoming the most awaited factory sale in the country today. I’ve received a lot of inquiries about this sale via my blog. Indeed, this is an Awesome Factory Sale! The sale is held every middle of the year and during the Christmas season. It is usually by invitation only. The invites are sent out by Divine Flores and if you’ve been here once, you should be included in their mailing list. If you don’t have an invite but you know somebody who have been here before and who got an invite, you can tag along. It is usually held from Thursday to Saturday. You’ll be surprised that there are a lot of people who go on a Thursday to be ahead of the crowd. (Actually, I don’t understand why)

If you have been to this sale, let me know what you think about this Awesome Factory Sale.

If you haven’t been here, let me know if you need an invite and directions.


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