Manila Life

Mall of Asia

[Mall of Asia 02] A Virtual Tour of the Grand Opening of the Mall of Asia

This globe is now the official symbol of the Mall of Asia (MOA). If you notice, the Philippines is at the center of the globe and it sits proudly at the center of MOA. It opened yesterday, May 21, 2006 and a lot of people from different walks of life were there to witness its opening — from the tsinelas crowd, to the middle class citizens and to the elite of Society. For those of you who decided to sit back and wait until the maddening crowd have settled down over the opening of MOA, I would say good decision on your part. You have to bring with you a lot of patience just to wait in line in the parking and elevators, or just walking around the mall because of the huge crowd traffic, not to mention the summer heat we are still experiencing. I’ll give you a sneak preview of MOA…

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Mall of Asia

[Mall of Asia 01]The Rising of the Mall of Asia!

What do you have if you combined the SM Mega Mall concept with Greenbelt’s upscale ambiance plus the crowd at Divisoria during Christmas plus Manila Boardwalk’s stunning view of Manila Sunset ? Simple, it is the grand opening of the Henry Sy’s Mall of Asia! This is the much awaited opening for Filipinos since there is no doubt that all of us are a bit mall crazy. One good thing about this is that our mall experience just got better with a stunning view of Manila bay and one of the church that I love — the Church of the Way, the Truth and the Life, nearby.

Here are the facts about mall of Asia:
– a total cost of P7 billion to build a 38.6 hectares mall sitting on a 60 hectare property.
– it has 500 outlets, including 180 restaurants which is the biggest in our country and this is the true One stop shop for all walks of life. Think of a restaurant or store and it will be in the Mall of Asia.
– There is an olympic-size skating rink where you can place hockey (nice — I do hope this sport takes off) – a Music Hall, good for 900 seats
– a 13,000sq. m Super SM hypermarket
– The first Imax in the Philippines with a 560 seater and an eight-story-high theather with a 22m x 33m screen size! (which I will cover in a separate post)
– It has a view of 2-kilometer shoreline of Manila bay and stunning view of Manila’s Sunset

This Mall of Asia series aims to provide an experiential account on the grand opening of MOA and what’s in store for you in this mall. I have both raves and rants about this place and I plan to share this with you.

UPDATE 5/22/06 I wouldn’t say that this is the biggest mall in Asia because the Siam Paragan in Thailand right in the heart of the city! It is a lot bigger because it houses a car showroom and you can buy your cars from here. Also, it was so hi-tech that I saw the first 3d TV in Siam Paragon! I don’t think MOA beats that. But MOA has a great view of Manila Bay and no mall can boast about this in Asia πŸ™‚

Awesome Filipinos

Congratulations Romi Garduce! 3rd Filipino to reach Mt. Everest! First P&G-er to reach Mt. Everest!

Congratulations Romi for reaching the highest peak in the World!! We are all celebrating your success!! So now, the Filipino trio is complete– Leo Oracion, Erwin Pastour Emata, and Romi Garduce — the first three Filipinos who reached Everest! Also, It was funny to see the big boss in our Manila Service Center, Greg Clark on TV congratulating Romi. I’m actually validating with P&G management whether Romi might be the First ever P&G manager worldwide to have reach the summit of Mt. Everest. It would take a while to validate it but knowing the people and the work in P&G, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is indeed the first manager in Procter and Gamble worldwide to summit Everest!! Congrats, pre!! 3 summits down, 4 to go :)!!

7 Highest Summits of the 7 Continents
Mt. Kilimajaro (Africa) 5,895m (1st climb-for-a-cause Sept. 2002)
Mt. Denali (North America) 6,194m
Mt. Everest (Asia) 8,848m (4th climb-for-a-cause May 2006)
Mt. Elbrus (Europe) 5,642m ( Romi attempted to climb this– thanks Francis for the correction)
Mt. Carstensz Pyramid (Australasia) 4,884m
Mt. Aconcagua (South America) 6,960m (2nd climb-for-a-cause Dec/Jan 2004)
Mt. Vinson (Antartica) 4,897m

Mall of Asia

The Mall of Asia (Opening May 21)

The much awaited and controversial Mall of Asia will have its Grand opening on Sunday May 21. There is a mall blessing by invitation only for all suppliers on Saturday May 20 but it is not open to the public. I can’t wait to experience the new IMAX Theater — woohoo! at last may IMAX na tayo… I’m sure not a lot of people know yet that MOA is opening so I’ll be there on the first day. See you and hopefully I can take some pictures…


Awesome Filipinos

[First Filipino in Everest] Congratulations Leo Oracion!

“The Philippine Eagle has landed.”

“Congratulations to the first Filipino in Mt. Everest, Leo Oracion!! Well done, the entire Philippines is celebrating your success and at last a Filipino is on top of Mt. Everest! This is a very symbolic quest for us, Filipinos and you are the official winner for the amazing race for the First Filipino to reach Mt. Everest. Let’s not pretend that this is not a race, it is a race (why do you think there were 4-5 Filipinos suddenly climbing Mt. Everest all at the same time). A race in itself is not bad. It is very healthy because we, Filipinos, thrive in competition and this is where we give our best. We Filipinos love rivalries Globe vs. Smart, GMA7 vs. ABS-CBN2, La Salle vs. Ateneo, Pacquiao vs. Morales, and so on. This should not undermine the achievement of the other Filipino climbers who would also reach the top of Mt. Everest. After all, Mt. Everest is a personal journey and it is every mountain climbers dream to reach this highest point on earth. Lets continue to pray for Leo Oracion, Pastour Emata and Romi Garduce, (and the other 4-5 or so people) that they may be able to go back safely in the Philippines after reaching the highest peak in the world.

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Awesome Filipinos

Lets pray for Romi’s Safety.

It is funny to read all the controversies in the background supporting Romi’s climb. Just read the blog comments and you’ll realize that crab mentality is still part of our Filipino culture (sadly). Just read Romi’s personal thoughts on his Everest Attempt. By the way, the official Romi Garduce’s Mt. Everest climb blog have been sequestered already by GMA 7 ( to moderate the blog and hopefully the comments which gotten out of control in the original blogspot. Although this is not updated as we hope it would be, the GMA news live updates will together be our source of news of his Mt. Everest quest.

By the way, I’ve been to El Nido in Palawan and even the ordinary people are now praying and hoping for the best for Romi. The feeling is similar to Pacquiao’s boxing match but what is astonishing here is that the ordinary people just got interested with Mt. Everest recently and still they are supporting Romi. Imagine the power of GMA 7 to influence the minds and hearts of the Filipino people. Also, not in my wildest dreams, that I imagine an IMAX theater would be a reality here in the Philippines and yet, it is set to open on May 21 with Mt. Everest as its inaugural show. Thanks to SM and GMA 7 for bringing IMAX to the Philippines!

Lastly, lets all include Romi in our prayers because this is a life and death situation specially when climbing down. Lets pray for our country that we may be united and remove the crab mentality mindset flowing through our veins. If you are reading this, please say a prayer for Romi’s safe return.


Awesome Filipinos

Romi Garduce’s Mt. Everest Quest — a symbolic conquest for the Filipino people.

GMA7 have started to air the feature on Romi’s Mt. Everest Climb last night on the reporter’s notebook– this is now mainstream media. What is funny is that GMA7 was able to get all the world class athlete to say congratulatory messages to Romi including Pacquiao, Efren Bata, and our PBA players. He continues to blog at his Official Chomolungma (Tibetan Name of Everest) Site: and he is now at basecamp — woohoo! Now you are able to get all the mainstream news, while I give you the side stories and emotions behind this climb.

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Awesome Filipinos

a Prayer for Romi Garduce’s First Pinoy Mt Everest Quest…

I break my vacation silence to express my good luck wishes and prayers to Romi who just reached Mt. Everest Basecamp. This is a very dangerous climb that could mean life or death situation and I’m really worried at the same time proud that the dream is within reach in a month’s time. I know that you want to die on a mountain but this is not the one, you still have a few summits to go and conquer the rest of the 7 summits and make us Filipinos proud. We pray that you go home safely whether you are successful or not and we don’t want to lose the very unique Romi character that we have grown to love and appreciate. May He guide you to the right path and strategies and may He give you the strength to conquer Mt. Everest! Amen.

Please send your good luck wishes and support @ the Official Chomolungma (Tibetan Name of Everest) Site:

Awesome Filipinos

The quest is ON for the First Filipino in Mt. Everest!

Armed with the passion to become the first Filipino to set the Philippine flag proudly on top of Mt. Everest in May 2006, Romi Garduce kicked off his quest in conquering the highest mountain in the world last March 3, Friday. The plan was to make this as low key as possible because of the political implications (won’t elaborate anymore :). Romi is an officemate and a good friend for some years now, and I’m glad that our company supported him in this quest. We ensured that back-up plans are in place and agreed on a 3 months leave of absence. He would be attempting to climb the summit and be back in Manila by May 15 (at the earliest) or May 29 (at the latest). May is the best time and the only window for safely climbing Mt. Everest @ 29,028 feet (8,848 meters).

On a related topic, the 1st all Filipino Mt. Everest expedition team has now been trimmed down to 17 core members. The core group of the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines Inc. (MFPI), including Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Art Valdez, Butch Sebastian, Fred Jamili, Jong Narciso and federation president Regie Pablo, will spearhead the Philippine expedition. They just finished a 10-day alphine Mountain Course training in Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand. Here they tackled the 3,754m Mt. Aylmer and the 27 km long and 3 km wide Tasman Glacier, the biggest among the range of glaciers present in the park. The team is set to climb Mt. Everest in May 2007 and for sure will set other records including becoming the first all Filipino expedition team and the first Asian woman on top of Mt. Everest. Female adventure racers Janet Belarmino, Noelle Wenceslao and Bukidnon-bred Karina Dayumdon are part of the selection. Also John Tronco, is their official photographer ( talk about a well funded star-studded team ).

Stay tuned for this and good luck to all our Filipino Climbers!


Awesome Festivals

[Dear Awesome Planet #1] Best of the Philippines in 30 days

March 1, 2006

Dear Awesome Planet,
Hello, I found your blogs on awesome planet. Wonderful pictures and info for tourists and Pilipinos who want to see what PI is all about. I’ve taken down the info you posted on Tagaytay restaurants. My husband and I will be traveling to PI in April, what activities/restaurants/places to see would you recommend in the following places?

El Nido, Palawan

Thank you! I enjoyed your site!
=) Bea

Dear Bea,
Thanks for the compliment and I’m glad you enjoyed the site. I don’t intend to be an authority on Philippine travel and I would invite my other readers to contribute to this response. I was overwhelmed and excited with your question, that I was inspired to create a Dear Awesome Planet series, so that I can also share the information to a broader audience, and I hope you don’t mind πŸ™‚ This list is based on my personal experience and some are still on my things to blog about. If you would only have 30 days in PI in April, make sure to check out these awesome activities/ restaurants/ places:

A Special Dinner @ La Cocina de Tita Moning
Dampa Dining experience @ Seaside Macapagal Blvd.
Carlos Celdran’s Intramuros Tours or Escolta/ Quiapo Tour
Quaint basement store –> I Love You Store along Makati Avenue
Filipino-Inspired Spa — Sanctuario Spa in Malate
Best Therapeutic Reflexology Massage — 4 hours for $10/ P500
Allegedly the best sisig in the Philippines — Aling Lucing Sisig, Makati
Balut @ Elvie’s turo turo
Lazy Boy Theater @ Gateway Mall, Araneta Center
Shopping Mall Tour: Greenhills- Best Bargain Place, Glorietta/Greenbelt – Branded Stuff, and
Tiendesitas — One stop shop of Philippines’ best

A Hike/ Horse Ride to the one of the World’s Smallest Volcano in Taal
Still the reigning Best Restaurant in Tagaytay — Antonio’s, Restaurant, Tagaytay
Most exotic and expensive coffee — Coffee Alamid, proudly Philippine made πŸ™‚
Tagaytay pioneer — Sonya’s Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast
View of Taal Volcano @ Cliffhouse, Tagaytay or Taal Vista Lodge

CNT Lechon — Best Lechon in Cebu if not the Philippines!
Malapascua Beach, (What to do in Malapascua) – Thinking Man’s Boracay according to the Lonely Planet
Semana Santa @
Bantayan Beach, (What to do in Bantayan) — only place where you can eat meat
Sutukil (STK) — Fresh Seafood Grilled Restaurant
Visit Sto. Nino de Cebu Cathedral and Magellan’s Cross

Jonas Milk Shakes
The famous Banana Boat Ride
Mandala Spa — World Class Spa in Boracay
Daylife/ Nightlife:
What to do in Boracay?
Outdoor Jacuzzi @ the Nami Villas

Laguna/Quezon (Instead of Cavite)
Tina Decal’s Culinary Tour of Quezon
Viaje del Sol: San Pablo, Laguna and Tiaong, Quezon
Laguna Lake Tour

El nido, Palawan — about to go here in April (Maybe we’ll see each other :), Savor this place for 4 days/ 3 nights πŸ™‚

I do hope this helps, and I invite my readers to contribute to this list or create your own lists and I’ll link it up πŸ™‚ Also, maybe some of you would also have some questions that I can answer in the Dear Awesome Planet series πŸ™‚

Enjoy Awesome Pilipinas!


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