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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Awesome Filipinos

Romi’s Everest and My One Big Dream. What’s your Everest?

I was truly inspired by the talk of my friend, Romi Garduce when he shared with us an experiential account and inspirational talk on his successful climb to Everest. I witness how it unfolded and in fact, blogged about it throughout the journey ( see First Filipino in Everest) . Every time I read through the slides I’m truly inspired and I want to conquer my own Everest literally and figuratively. This is an exclusive (naks naman!) talk with Romi but I want to share it with you to inspire you in conquering your own Everest. All the photos and text are developed and presented by Romi Garduce during his talk to us last July 6, 2006.

Everest has always been there for many years. Filipinos were already contented reaching the highest summit in the Philippines, Mt. Apo. Nobody really cared about climbing Everest not until Romi started his big dream of conquering it. We, Filipinos have this tendency of accepting mediocre work or even just reaching mediocre achievements (of course, I don’t intend this to be a generalization). There are those big dreams that we don’t pursue because it is too difficult and there are a lot of excuses/ barriers that prevent our mind from reaching that dream.

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Lemuria’s Mystique – a Romantic Restaurant in the Metro

Lemuria is the hottest romantic place these days (saying this with conviction) and I’m glad to share this word-of-mouth secret with you. Of course, we don’t want this place to be too crowded (would we?) because it would lose its mysticism and the fact that it can only accommodate 20+ people. Anyhow, we still have time to enjoy the secret a little longer since this place has been operational for only two months. I’ve searched this in google and I’ve never seen a decent review of this urban hideaway in the Metro. Thanks to Ponch for sharing this.

It is owned by Marina Bru Schroeder also known as Kitt who decided to convert her convenient office space for Brumms Quality Wines, Inc. into a cozy and romantic restaurant. She makes it a point to talk to each and every one of the customers dining during that night. It is located in the winery compound owned by the Aboitiz family in Horseshoe Village. It sits on top of one of the biggest wine cellars I’ve seen in the metro containing an extensive variety of wines filled up to 1/3 of its holding capacity of 27,000+ wines. Her German husband, Klaus Schroeder was kind enough to give us a tour of the cellar which houses german, romanian and austrian wines among others. It serves mediterranean cuisine cooked by Chef Golda-May Ranada who is ex Beluga and Le Souffle Chef ( that is all I know and I was hoping some of you would know more). I was hoping to talk to Chef Golda to give my compliments and to know more about her but unfortunately I was not able to do so.

It was almost a year ago when we celebrated Popsy’s birthday in Chef Humphrey Navarro’s P45 (see French Fine Dining @ Parallel 45) which just opened during that time. I have a theory that every year there will be a secret cozy place that would open up and we won’t run out of these secret hideaways. So, it is now becoming a tradition in the family to make it a point to eat in a nice place during Popsy’s birthday, with this year’s celebration held in Lemuria last Aug. 5.

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Mall of Asia

Sebastian’s Ice Cream @ Shepherd’s Staff, Mall of Asia

Ian Carandang’s Sebastian Ice Cream was heralded by Lori as the successor of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in the Philippines. This has been on my blogging list for a few months now and I’ve got a few online friends (Spanx and Anna Ria) who rave about this ice cream. I’ve always wanted to visit Sebastian’s Ice Cream Studio in Alabang Town Center but time was not on my side. I’m glad that they opened a distribution point in Shepherd’s Staff in Mall of Asia. Actually, only people in the know would stop by this Christian and inspirational bookstore to eat Sebastian ice cream which was characterized by Lori in her post “Ian the Ice Cream Man” as enthralling complexity, gutsy tastes, and unusual combinations.

The Verdict: One can easily get addicted to this ice cream and I won’t look at any other ice cream when I’m in Mall of Asia. We tasted their Cookie Dough best seller and Mango Sansrival which have very generous serving of tasty chunks of its finest ingredient. It taste more like a cookie dough with ice cream rather than an ice cream with cookie dough ingredients. Same is true for the Mango Sansrival which my wife absolutely love. She even bought a slice of sansrival after a day because she was once again craving for that cake! How she adore eating that sooo sinful cake. Only thing is each scope costs P68 which is expensive for a scoop of ice cream even more higher than Better than Ice cream. Although one scoop was really enough for us to satisfy our craving for this because of the fullness of flavor of the ice cream.

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#Travel, Food

Shanghai Si Chuan Surprise :)

Hi! I just got back from the young and vibrant Shanghai City. I was smitten by the beauty of Shanghai and if ever I would leave Manila for an overseas assignment, Shanghai is on top of my list. The Shanghai city skyline is one of the best in the world. I was fortunate to have seen this magnificent beauty and capture it with my camera. It was a short business trip so I did not really have the time to explore. I have a few photos to share with you and I do hope I get to have a chance to go back to explore this city. I love Manila but Shanghai is number 2 in my list of favorite cities in the world.
Just one unsolicited advice, the new generation of Filipinos need to learn Mandarin. There is no doubt in my mind that China will be the next economic super power and Shanghai is a glimpse of China’s dominance in the future. The next generation of global Filipinos will be speaking three languages English, Tagalog and Mandarin to become successful in this information age. I would make sure that my son, Aidan would learn to speak Mandarin. ( Let me know your reaction to this… )

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Latasia Fusion – Vegetarian Food that is making a difference!

I must admit, the first time I asked my wife to eat in Latasia Fusion on a Saturday night, I thought twice about visiting this place. I was expecting an al fresco setup with a garden but instead the place was small and literally a hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant. If George Ramos did not rave about how good the vegetarian food is, I wouldn’t even consider to eat here. I was flabbergasted by how good the vegetarian food even better than its meat counterparts at a low price of less than P100 for a complete meal! This beats the cost of a Jollibee meal these days and it gives you healthy benefits that not even a chicken joy or jolly burger can provide.

I won’t give a lecture on how vegetarian food is the best diet for a guilt-free eating to a healthy living (as Latasia Fusion’s slogan suggest). I was a struggling, trying-hard vegetarian at one point (if you been reading my blog for some time now) and the last thing I want to hear is somebody preaching about the bad effects of a carnivorous diet. I was only able to sustain it for a month and then I was back to my steak-eating ways. I had a lot of excuses which includes the availability of delicious vegetarian cuisine at a low costs as possible. Latasia Fusion was able to break this excuse by providing vegetarian versions of our favorite Kare Kare, Shawarma, Barbeque, Lengua, Morcon, vegetarian egg and eggless mayonnaise, etc… You have to taste it to believe it and if this was near our place, I wouldn’t mind eating here the entire week 🙂 Also, one of the complaints of people going to a vegetarian diet is that your Uric Acid will drastically increase because of eating a lot of soya, nuts, and beats. Alex is a living testimony that this is not so even if you eat it on a daily basis. Although your body needs to undergo an adjustment period as the body cleanses the toxins in your body at the start.

Latasia Fusion’s menu is a mix of latin and asia cuisines (hence the name Latasia) owned by Alex and wife, Fortune. They make sure that they serve a complete meal consisting of meat, vegetables and dessert. Snacks such as muesli and granola are also available for those on the go. Alex Orlino, who is an animal rights activist and a member of PETA ( People for the ethical treatment of animals) was determined to become a vegetarian to live his convictions. Thanks to his wife Fortune with her Kapampangan culinary powers, she was able to cook creative vegetarian dishes that is palatable to the Filipino taste and at the same time healthy for the body. Alex has been a vegetarian for 5 years now and in fact, he shares this conviction to people who visits Latasia by giving out free packet containing brochures, stickers, and video materials to inspire people to become a vegetarian. Their lunch menu changes every day and you have to go there when the vegetarian Kare Kare is available. Fortunately, their vegetarian shawarma best seller is available everyday. To those who may be interested to know their weekly menu, you may contact them so your trip there will not be wasted but then, if you are already there why not try out their other dishes as well.

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Je Suis Gourmand: Revisited

My favorite restaurant in the Makati area just got better 🙂 Last January, we celebrated my son’s birthday in Je Suis Gourmand ( see Aidan’s Je Suis Gourmand Birthday Dinner ) and I’ve complained about how small the place is. Last June, the place just got bigger and I would dare to say more romantic. I’m glad that they can accommodate more people already because before you would usually need to reserve to eat here at night. They now have two private rooms for celebrating special occasions — how I wished they renovated earlier 🙂 This is my favorite restaurant because you can’t go wrong with any of the dishes you order here. Secondly, I love places where the Chef is always in the restaurant and interacts with his guests. Lastly, it is has a cozy environment conducive for chatting with friends and co-workers. To top it off, the waiters are very friendly and parking is never a problem.

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Cookbook Kitchen – a secret homey place in Mandaluyong

I always love to find secret restaurants. The ones that are out-of-the-way quaint places and you have to find it like having a treasure map with X marking the spot. I also want to surprise my wife every time with these few secret places that’s becoming rare these days. I always love it when you really have to drive and maneuover your way through the city maze not knowing exactly where the place is. My wife would start to sermon on how expensive gasoline is but I just had to satisfy my thrill of looking for these places specially if the only clue I have was “it is just along shaw boulevard.” Even though we traversed the entire shaw boulevard, we cannot find Cook book kitchen and it is just a stroke of luck when we just happen to pass by the place when we are becoming desperate.

Once you arrive in the place, you would instinctive realize why it is called cookbook kitchen. The place is right in the middle of a residential community in Mandaluyong with a house turned into a cozy restaurant. It was a dream of Chef Gen Capati to open his own restaurant that serves home-cooked dishes and it came true almost one and a half years ago. Beside the restaurant, there is a home-based gym that one of the son is operating and it probably make sense to co-locate them 🙂 The lovely couple is always there with the husband cooking the best sellers of the house and with wife, Liza, manning the cash register and entertaining the guests. We had fun chatting with Liza and I caution you not to start a conversation with her because she has so much stories to tell 🙂

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