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BINONDO: REVISITING 3 FAVORITE QUICK TREATS

We arrived around 8 in the morning yesterday in Binondo, a destination my husband and I have not gone to for more than 2 decades so this short trip was surely a sentimental one. Click a related post – BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT.

For the benefit of foreigners, Binondo* is considered the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila, Philippines, and a hub of Chinese commerce.

We finally found a parking space and made our way to Ling Nam Noodle House at 616 T. Alonzo Street. Even this early, the restaurant was almost full.

Z-2-wall menuwall menu – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Ling Nam still has a limited, yet time-tested, menu consisting of: noodles (asado, beef, chicken, wanton, or combinations of 2 or 3 thereof), lugao (congee or hot rice porridge, with the following variants: bola-bola, chicken, fish, fish-bola, halo-halo, liver, kidney, or plain), siopao (steamed bun, in the following variants: asado, bola-bola, lotus, mongo and taipao – the 4-inch or largest meatball-chorizo siopao) and siomai (steamed Chinese dumpling, with or without soup).

Unfortunately, only siopao, siomai and different kinds of lugao (congee) were available that early (noodles are only available starting 9:30 am). So, we settled for CHICKEN LUGAO (175 pesos), HALO-HALO LUGAO (165 pesos), SIOMAI (2 pieces for 80 pesos) and ASADO SIOPAO (75 pesos).

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Complimentary Hot Tea – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Complimentary hot tea was served first, followed by our orders.

BeFunky CollageChicken Lugao and Halo Halo Lugao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Both lugaos were served hot, accompanied by fresh calamansi (small, round citrus fruit also known as Calamondin). We squeezed the juice from the calamansi directly to the bowl and seasoned the lugao with patis (fish sauce) and a bit of pepper. This dish hit the spot and is definitely a comfort food for us.

 

Z-3-siomai-siopao2 pieces of siomai and asado siopao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Siomai and siopao were then served. Toyo (soy sauce) and freshly squeezed calamansi juice were mixed as dipping sauce for the two pieces of siomai (per order) to be enjoyed in between spoonfuls of lugao. The siopao did not need any sauce because the tasty filling, along with the soft dough, was just right.

We asked for the bill and gave our senior citizen cards. An employee simply looked at our empty plates on the table and orally enumerated the quantity of the exact items we ate to the cashier who prepared the bill. Now I call that going paperless! So amusing!

Z-4-shanghai fried siopaoShanghai Fried Siopao – Binondo, Manila

We shopped for a while and found ourselves in the corner of Ongpin Street and Bahama Street, the location of (80 year old) Shanghai Fried Siopao. We ordered PORK ASADO fried siopaos, each costing 20 pesos. This hole-in-the-wall stall only has a simple store sign “Shanghai Fried Siopao” and offers takeout dumplings, kikiam (or quekiam, a steamed-deep-fried pork/seafood Chinese delicacy wrapped in bean curd skin), machang (the Filipino version of the pyramid-shaped Chinese steamed sticky rice-meat dish called “zongzi”), siomai and other cooked-food items, displayed on a small counter along the street.

Z-5-fried siopaoFried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

The fried siopao displayed on the counter were not kept warm but you can observe that they were easily gone through the purchases of loyal and curious customers and the stock needed to be replenished regularly. The buns were still hot when it was handed to me. Amazing!

Z-6-fryer (2)Fryers used to make Fried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

Just to be clear, we ordered FRIED SIOPAO which is steamed then pan-fried so that it has a toasted crispy bottom but still looks like a steamed siopao on top. It is definitely different from Toasted Siopao which is a baked “monay-looking” Bicolano specialty variation of siopao.

Z-7-manosaWe walked a bit more and could not resist to go to (30 year old) Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant.

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We ordered yummy maki (a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, and chunks of tender pork) which was served in a large bowl and can be shared by two seniors. We were still full so we did not order side dishes like kikiam and siomai.

Z-9-manosa-3Maki – Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant, Binondo, Manila

The maki was served hot and its thick, starchy and tasty broth was so satisfying, along with the tender chunks of pork.

Z-10-siopao-bitepoor fried siopao after I have eaten it halfway

We needed to leave Binondo, anticipating traffic going to our next destination. Sure enough, we were caught in traffic and decided to eat the Pork Asado siopaos we got from Shanghai Fried Siopao. They were no longer hot but we still ate them. When I bit into the siopao, I got a bit of a crunchy texture from the bottom, along with the usual soft siopao dough and tasty filling (of pork and leeks, among other ingredients; no need for sauce). We enjoyed the siopaos and I am sure that these would have been more satisfying when eaten hot. Anyway, we didn’t get stressed with the traffic! LOL

Next time, we need to stay longer and eat lunch or dinner in the famous restaurants in Binondo. Dear Seniors, do you have any recommendations?

Did you find this post informative? Do you also go to these places for a quick treat? Do you have your other favorite places to dine in Chinatown for a quick bite?  I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Don’t forgollow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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*“Binondo,” accessed December 12, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo.

 

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JASMINE: IRRESISTIBLE CHINESE FOOD

Location: Level 2, New World Makati Hotel, Esperanza Street corner Makati Avenue, Ayala Center, Makati City, Philippines

My group of five were in the Greenbelt area and I was craving for Chinese food and salted egg so off we went to New World Makati Hotel’s Jasmine, its dining outlet at Level 2. Jasmine is open for lunch (11:30 am – 2:30 pm) and dinner (6 pm – 10:30 pm).

Z-1-Jasmine-facadeThe entrance to the main dining room was so inviting. We arrived at a little past noon and most of the tables were occupied.

Z-1-Jasmine-interiorThe Chinese Art Deco interior was cozy and simply elegant. It is my second visit to this Chinese restaurant and this will definitely be a “cheat meal”! LOL

Jasmine offers authentic Chinese dishes created by renowned Hong Kong chef Wong Kam On: a wide variety of Cantonese baked, fried, steamed and vegetarian dim sum; chicken, fish and pork century egg congees; rice rolls (served only for lunch); Peking Duck; seafood specialties; barbecued appetizers; soups; live fish and seafood (with your choice of cooking method); poultry and meat dishes; bean curd, noodle, rice, vegetable and vegetarian dishes; desserts; and different kinds of tea (along with Jasmine Tea and Jasmine Chrysanthemum). Set menus, priced per table of ten persons, are also offered.

Z-1-Jasmine-menuOn our round table was a menu for unlimited  yum cha (traditional Cantonese brunch consisting of dim sum and Chinese tea), for 988 pesos per person. It was so tempting but we settled for a la carte orders for the group so we could savor the salted egg dishes which I have been craving for.

Z-2-JasmineWe ordered 4 kinds of dimsum. The BARBECUED PORK PASTRY was a welcome treat because the pastry was so flaky and the pork filling was delicious. The generously-sized PORK XIAO LONG BAO looked so enticing: steaming hot with its delicate folds and thin, white casing. Its yummy mild broth was just right for the well-seasoned pork filling.

Z-2-Jasmine-hargaoThe HAR GAO was served hot, the dough shell was soft and delicate, and the seasoned shrimp filling was tasty and juicy.

Z-3-JasmineThe PORK PASTRY SPRING ROLL was a delightful appetizer as well.

We enjoyed sipping the hot JASMINE TEA while we savored the various dim sum as well as succeeding courses.

SPINACH SOUP was requested by our 5-year old picky-eater-grandson and he finished it all so that says a lot about this soup! This healthy soup was served at the right temperature and was pleasantly seasoned so the kid enjoyed it till the last drop.

Z-4-JasmineWe ordered five main courses. Finally, I will satisfy my salted egg craving! The SOLE OF FISH SALTED EGG YOLK hit the spot! I definitely rave about this dish and, dear Seniors, this is definitely a MUST TRY! The tender fish was fried with just the right amount of yummy salted egg.

Z-5-JasmineThe crispy DEEP FRIED PRAWNS SALTED EGG YOLK was likewise delicious, accentuated by the salted egg coating.

The CHINESE STYLE PAN-FRIED BEEF TENDERLOIN was topped with Chef Wong’s special sauce. The beef was so tender. The flavor and texture of the sauce enhanced the enjoyment of this dish.

Z-6-JasmineOur picky-eater requested BROCCOLI WITH OYSTER SAUCE. The broccoli was cooked just right and the sauce was tasty, but not salty.

Z-7-JasmineThe EGG WHITE SEAFOOD FRIED RICE with conpoy (a type of pungent Cantonese dried scallop) and pine nuts, with its subtle, yet flavorful blend of ingredients and seasonings, aptly complemented our a la carte orders.

Z-8-JasmineMango Pudding, Jasmine, New World Makati Hotel

Finally, we ordered two kinds of desserts: Mango Pudding and Mango Cream-Sago.

Z-9-JasmineMango Cream-Sago, Jasmine, New World Makati Hotel

Both desserts were a refreshing treat after all the dimsum and main courses we enjoyed.

The staff were so accommodating and gave personalized service. They changed the plates as needed, replenished our tea and water, and asked if we enjoyed the meal and what else we needed.

We will definitely come back for more, what with their December promo called “Feast on Festive Treats”: (1) a Yum Cha Buffet Lunch consisting of baked, fried and steamed dumplings, buns, rolls and noodles, at 1,388 pesos per person; and, (2) a choice among three 10-course set menus for December 24, 25, 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018, featuring Chef Wong’s signature dishes like Suckling Pig, Braised Abalone with Black Mushrooms, Pan-fried Lamb with Black Pepper Sauce, Pan-fried Scallop with Egg White and Black Truffle Sauce, at 9,888 pesos for a group of 6 persons.

Private dining rooms are also available for your intimate get-togethers, dear Senior Citizens. You can inquire/book at (02) 811-6888. Visit their website: www.manila.newworldhotels.com. You can view their complete menu at www.zomato.com, just type Jasmine – New World Makati Hotel Menu.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in Jasmine? If so, what were your favorite dim sum and ala carte dishes? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

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BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT

Location: Binondo, District of Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines

My husband and I were already in Metro Manila and decided to go to Binondo early for a quick and early visit since we haven’t been there for more than two decades.

For the benefit of foreigners, Binondo* is the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila and a hub of Chinese commerce.

Z-13-BinondoI saw the familiar Welcome Arch and prayed we could get a parking slot.

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Binondo still looks so busy especially during this time of the year.

Z-12-BinondoMemories of our past visits with loved ones and friends crossed my mind while we passed through the last arch.

Parking was full but we were able to find one accessible to the places we wanted to go to. We first ate breakfast in Ling Nam Noodle House. We then went to shop a bit then ordered a couple of  fried siopaos (steamed then fried meatball-chorizo buns) at Shanghai Fried Siopao for takeout. Before we left for lunch elsewhere, we didn’t miss the chance to eat maki (a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, and chunks of tender pork) at Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant. Click a related post – BINONDO: REVISITING 3 FAVORITE QUICK TREATS.

Z-14-BinondoFinally, we wouldn’t leave this place without buying yummy, freshly roasted castañas    (chestnuts). Then off we went for an important errand.

Did you find this post informative? Do you often go to Binondo? Do you also crave for castañas come the holiday season?  I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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*“Binondo,” accessed December 12, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo.

 

 

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GREEN PASTURES: FROM FARM TO TABLE

Location: G/F, Net Park, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

I had a scheduled meeting with someone in the Net Park area and arrived an hour before the designated time so I invited my companion to have a quick but not-so-sinful snack and we chose a casual dining and organic restaurant called Green Pastures, owned by Chef Robby Goco of Cyma, Charlie’s Grind and Grill, and Tequila Joe’s fame. It is located at the ground floor of Net Park and is open from 8 am till 10 pm.

Z-3-GP

For this restaurant, Chef Robbie offers healthy American and European homemade dishes which are made from fresh, organic, gluten-free and probiotic ingredients. Green Pastures also has 2 other branches: Eastwood Mall (in Bagumbayan, Quezon City) and (Level 4, East Wing) Shangri-la Plaza Mall (in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City).

We opted for outdoor dining despite the modern farm house interiors, ordered their Homemade Burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream), served with toasted bread, and requested it to be served fast so we need not hurry eating it and I won’t be late for my meeting. It came as promised by the waitress and it had a simple yet appealing presentation.

Z-1-GP

The texture of the bread complemented the softness and freshness of the cheese, served with Mt. Atok (in the province of Benguet) organic strawberries, cherry tomatoes and basil oil. It was priced at 430 pesos and was worth it! The cold refreshing drinks, Organic Dalandan Juice (juice of the tangy, Filipino variety of a citrus fruit) and Iced Tea with Organic Honey (small, 120 pesos each), were a welcome treat too!

I paid for this snack and all the comments are based on my dining experience. I will definitely go back to try the other items in the menu!

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining at Green Pastures in any of its branches? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

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A SENTIMENTAL PINOY MERIENDA AT VIA MARE

Location: G/F, Greenbelt 1, Greenbelt Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

My husband and I were accompanied by three relatives when we were in the Greenbelt area for early Christmas shopping. It was the middle of the afternoon when we all became hungry and they agreed to join me in a sentimental Pinoy merienda (snack) at Via Mare in Greenbelt 1 which was one of my favorite casual dining Filipino restaurants when I was single.

Z-1-VMfacade – Via Mare, Greenbelt 1, Makati City

Now, dearest Senior Citizens (SCs), you might ask, why there, Tita S? There is one at Greenbelt 3 and it is newer. I know that, SCs, but this Greenbelt 1 branch is so memorable for me before I got married. Anyway, indulge me, please, ok?

This outlet is open from 8 am till 9:30 pm (M-F), 9 am till 9:30 pm (Sat.-Sun.), and 10 am till 10 pm (during holidays). It is located at the ground floor of Greenbelt 1, opposite National Book Store, my favorite bookstore. Via Mare’s facade and interiors still looked the same and the diners were mostly families or seniors, alone or with a companion.

I can’t help but think that the other seniors also eat there not only for the yummy dishes but recall delightful memories of dining there for years/decades as well. For me, it was way back 1990s.

This outlet offers breakfast, a wide selection of Filipino merienda treats and kakanin (native Filipino rice cakes served mostly for snacks), as well as different soups, main dishes, oyster specialties, vegetables and rice for lunch/dinner.

I was feeling nostalgic when I got hold of the menu and I wanted to order lots of native merienda (snack) treats but stopped myself because of eating out too much when I go to Metro Manila.

Z-Via Mare-2We ordered only four kinds of merienda items First was BIBINGKA VSP (175 pesos), meaning this traditional Filipino rice cake was very special because it had all the toppings possible. It was served warm and soft and its flavor was enhanced by the yummy toppings (butter, cheese and salted egg), accompanied by freshly grated coconut and sugar.

Z-Via-Mare-3PUTO BUMBONG, with two pieces per order, served with muscavado sugar (partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor), quezo de bola (Edam cheese) and freshly grated coconut (106 pesos), was also ordered. It looked so delicious and we even ordered additional queso de bola for a more delightful combination.

Z-Via-Mare-4The PALITAW (a traditional, sweet, sticky Filipino rice cake), with three pieces per (55 peso) order and a generous topping of freshly grated coconut, sugar and linga (sesame seeds), was served next. It is definitely a MUST TRY, dearest Seniors! This boiled, flattened, small, rectangular, Filipino rice cake was so delicately soft, contrasted by the texture of the freshly grated coconut mixed with sugar and linga. We had to ask for an additional order because we couldn’t have enough of this native delicacy.

Z-Via-Mare-5DINUGUAN AT PUTO (205 pesos), another Filipino favorite, was a satisfying, thick, savory pork-blood stew with pork offals and meat, complemented by the small white putos (traditional, round, soft, Filipino steamed rice cakes).

Bottomline, we enjoyed all our orders but rave about the palitaw! My younger companions learned to appreciate these Filipino treats while I reminisced good times in this restaurant with every bite I took. Happy tummies! Happy memories! Happy meee! Happy weee! We will surely go back for more, perhaps for lunch or dinner!

Prices stated were based on charges when we dined in this outlet; they may change. Visit its official website: www.viamare.com.ph for outlets, catering services, updates, etc. You can also call (02) 815-1918. For a quick look at the menu of this outlet: (1) simply type “via mare greenbelt 1 menu” and click on the www.munchpunch.com option, or (2) type www.zomato.com and type café via mare greenbelt 1. View the menu at the bottom of the page.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in this restaurant or in any of its other branches? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

 

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EL NIDO: Islands and Caves – Part 3

Location: Province of Palawan1, MIMAROPA2 Region, Philippines

In our fourth day in the picturesque town of El Nido3 in the province of Palawan, my husband and I felt that we gained weight after three days here especially with Sea Cocoon’s yummy buffet breakfast, Hello El Nido’s finger-licking grilled buffet lunch during our island hopping, and the seafood dinners we had along the beach! This is paradise, but is not-so-good for our waistlines! But what can I say! When on vacation, NO DIET! Or, we have a SEE-FOOD DIET, i.e., when we see food, we eat! Right?!

Did you see my posts of our first two tours of El Nido? If not, click here for EL NIDO: HEAVEN ON EARTH – Part 1 and click here for EL NIDO: HEAVEN ON EARTH – Part 2.

Anyway, our third tour called TOUR B – WHITE SAND GALORE: ISLANDS AND CAVES, costs 1,300 per person. Just like the first 2 trips, I packed my hard-plastic beach bag with my needs for the day: sun block, bottles of mineral water, comb, towels, sunglasses, cell phone and power bank, snacks, cash, etc. After breakfast, we all met at the lobby, trooped again to the beach and boarded our big “banca” (boat) for the day.

3-El Nido-Snake Island-Gani
Snake Island, El Nido, Palawan – Photo by: Gani

The first stop was SNAKE ISLAND. I enjoyed this unique island because it had a natural S-shaped sandbar visible during low tide. And guess what, it was low tide today, lucky us! My husband and I walked the whole sandbar and we wished we had a drone to video our walk. We finally reached the end of the sandbar which was a mangrove. We stopped a bit and headed back to the starting point where we were ushered to head up and hike to a small gazebo with a spectacular view of the sandbar and the clear water! The bottled water came in handy to hydrate us going up and down this trail. Take your time, dearest Seniors, it is worth the effort!

Next was ENTALULA BEACH, reputed to be the best beach in Bacuit Bay. It can also be reserved for an intimate lunch/dinner.

The CUDUGNON CAVE was the next stop and cash was handy to enjoy fresh buko juice/cold soft drinks. This site was believed to be the burial site during the Neolithic period4 (10,200 – 2000 BC).

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A brief stop at the CATHEDRAL CAVE followed but we did not stay long because the water was a bit rough. However, each passenger was given a chance to have pictures taken with the cave as backdrop.

4-El-Nido-Pinagbuyutan Island-Gani
Pinagbuyutan Island Photo by Gani

The PINAGBUYUTAN ISLAND was the last stop. It is a powdered white sand island ideal for snorkeling, laying at the beach, or swimming with loved ones.

This last packaged tour is good but not as good as the first two … anyway, the sandbar was more than enough to make this a memorable trip! Thanks again, Gani Ricarte of Hello El Nido! Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

My final words re El Nido: This town is indeed a paradise and a precious treasure for all Filipinos and foreign visitors to visit and experience for generations to come! I pray it will not suffer the same fate as Boracay if they just continue to consistently and strictly implement the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA)5.  I hope the local government will be able to continue to plan and successfully implement programs against the threats of high human activities and the booming tourism industry in the these towns such as: pollution from waste and sewage disposal; beach erosion; damage to coral reefs due to snorkeling, diving and illegal collection; and, disturbance of bird nesting and marine sites.

I would love to hear from you, dear Seniors! Did you find this post informative? Have you gone to El Nido? Did you also experience this package tour? What are your observations of the tourism impact to the environment? Just scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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1Palawan, according to the Wikipedia page, “Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, s a province in the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA Region of the Philippines, founded in 1818, and is now called the Philippines’ Last Frontier. SOURCE: “Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

2MIMAROPA, according to the Wikipedia page, “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, is an administrative region of the Philippines which is an acronym for its constituent provinces: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. SOURCE: “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

3El Nido, according to the Wikipedia page, “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, is a first class, highly urbanized city located in the western province of Palawan, the westernmost city in the Philippines, with 66 barangays, and the capital of Palawan. The airport is located in this city and it is also known for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, named one of the New7Wonders of the Nature. SOURCE: “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

4“Neolithic,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic.

5El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) is the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines, according to the Wikipedia page, “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, It covers 18 barangays in El Nido and 3 barangays of its neighboring town, Taytay, involving more than 900 sq. km, using various forest and marine conservation and protection programs, to protect and develop the livelihoods of the seaside local population, amidst the development of tourist in the area. A very small (50 US cents) daily conservation fee is required per visitor. SOURCE: “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

 

 

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LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR: A HERITAGE TREAT

Location: Barangay Pag-asa, town of Bagac, province of Bataan, Central Luzon Region, island of Luzon, Philippines

6-Las Casas

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is an 18th-century heritage park and open-air museum located along Umagol River, in the town of Bagac, Bataan, Philippines. It was created in 2003 by Jose “Gerry” Acuzar, owner of New San Jose Builders, and opened it to the public in 2010. It is managed by Genesis Hotels and Resorts Corporation.

1-Las Casas

It presents a 400-hectare sprawling settlement of 27 Spanish colonial-heritage houses from various cities and provinces of the Philippines (e.g., Biñan, Bulacan, Cagayan, Ilocos, La Union, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Quezon City). Each house or “casa” was dismantled in situ (in its original place), brick by brick, numbered, transported to this site, where they were reassembled and restored. The houses are often made with a stone foundation on the ground level and made of wood on the upper floor. If parts are missing, bricks and woodwork were replaced to resemble the original structure.

19-Las Casas-layout

If you have arthritis, no worries, dear Seniors, the property offers the following transportation facilities to take you around:

  • Bicycle – reserve, for a fee, per hour;

9-Las Casas-jeepney-MarissaDG

  • Jeepney – pick-up starts in front of Casa Mexico and drops off at Casa New Manila;

 

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  • Kalesa – a horse-drawn carriage; reserve at the Concierge and meet Makisig, the horse, used for this traditional mode of transportation good for 2 to 4 persons;

 

10-Las Casas-A-golf cart-MarissaDG

  • Golf Cart – reserve at Casa Mexico for a fee per hour, whether self-driven (maximum 4 persons) or tour guide-driven (maximum 3 persons); and,

 

7-Las Casas-tram-MarissaDG

  • Tram – a vehicle which goes around the property along a metal railway or track.

 

For Seniors who can afford and who have an architectural, cultural and/or historical interest, this place is for you! You will also have lots of “muni-muni” (reflection) time while strolling from one house to another along the brick pavements or cobblestone streets, or while riding any of the above vehicles and feeling the gentle to strong (depending on the weather/season) wind from the Beach Area, direct from the West Philippine Sea. If you love taking selfies or unique Spanish architecture, more reason to go, just apply lots of sunscreen! If you enjoy spending time walking/strolling with family or “balikbayan friends”, enjoying freshly-baked pandesal from La Panaderia or native delicacies for “merienda” (snacks) at La Parilla/Pica Pica, indulging in local fruity-flavored “sorbetes” (ice cream) peddled by a roving “sorbetero” (ice cream vendor) wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, swimming, sunbathing and appreciating the beautiful sunset while sipping beer/cocktails by the beach, and without the “noisy” nightlife of the city even for just one night, then check this destination out!

4-Las Casas

Stay at least overnight to enjoy this unique resort and savor its beauty on a leisurely pace, preferably on a weekend, to witness traditional native activities (listed below). I visited this nostalgic property on February 2017, along with my high school buddies as part of our 45th jubilee. There are 217 rooms to choose from; check-in is 2 pm and check-out is 12 noon.

12-Las Casas-Casa-New-Manila-QCWe checked-in at the first “casa” or house upon entering the compound, the Casa de New Manila Quezon City.

3-Las Casas

I stayed with my husband in a Deluxe Room with a “retro ambiance” yet still enjoyed the comforts of air-conditioning, a queen-sized bed, television with cable, an in-room safety deposit box, a bathroom with hot and cold water and a separate bathtub and shower, and breakfast was also included.

Other types of rooms are the:

  1. Executive Suite – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza and gazebo; for 6 adults; with 3 queen beds with 2 extra beds;
  2. Family Suite – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view) or beach front, for 6 adults, with 3 queen beds and 2 extra beds;
  3. Large Superior Deluxe – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view, beach front, or plaza); for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds; and, the
  4. Studio with Loft – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza; for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds.

Visit its website for prices/availability/more information: www.lascasasfilipinas.com

16-Las Casas

The following tours are offered (but note that schedules/prices may be changed, so inquire beforehand):

  • A WALKING HERITAGE TOUR held about 7 times daily (9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm), subject to weather conditions, for 1,500 pesos. A trained and eloquent tour guide gives the history of each house. Experience this special one-hour tour with your “amigos/amigas” or family.

Here are some tips for you to maximize this tour: choose comfortable footwear that is easy to remove and wear (since you will be required to leave it at the door of each house before entry; wear socks for hygiene, if desired; wear comfortable and light clothes; during summer or hot days, apply sunblock, wear a cap or hat and even bring an umbrella; and, bring water for hydration. If it is windy, bring a shawl or something to keep you warm and, for ladies, apply a lip balm to protect your lips.

Since my husband and I stayed overnight, we availed of this tour and learned to appreciate more of our country’s rich history, architecture and culture. The tour guides were fluent in both English and Tagalog.

  • An ALL-DAY TOUR for a minimum of 5 persons, with 2,000 pesos nett per person, paid in advance, and cannot be combined with other promotions. There are several schedules daily, subject to weather conditions.
  • A RIVER/BALSA TOUR for a minimum of 4 persons per ride, on an “intimate and romantic” cruise around the property using a “balsa” (raft) for 500 pesos each. You can leisurely float along the Umangol River and the glide along surrounding balconies, brick walls, verandas and arched bridges.
  • A HOTEL DE ORIENTE TOUR is a tour of the faithful replica of the first luxury hotel in Binondo during the Spanish colonial era of our country, for 200 pesos. It is the property’s “premier 3-floor convention center” which can accommodate functions for at least 10 persons to banquets of up to 600 persons. Its lobby boasts of wooden sculptures crafted by Betis and Paete carvers, both well-known for wood-carving.
  • A WORKSHOP TOUR is an in-house workshop where woodcarvings and bricks are traditionally made. The tour starts at Casa Mexico and is held Tuesday to Thursday (9 am/3 pm) and Friday to Sunday (9 am/11 am/3 pm).
  • BATAAN TOUR PACKAGE – Please inquire at 09178329361 (Monday-Saturday, 8:30 am – 5:P30 pm) or visit their website mentioned above.
  • An ART TOUR is coming soon.

Dining outlets include: (1) The Beach Bar; (2) Café del Rio – a tapas1 bar at Casa Sta. Rita; (3) Café Marivent at Casa New Manila – a Filipino-Spanish restaurant at the 2nd floor of the said casa; (4) Cusina ni Nanay Maria – a Filipino restaurant located at Casa Unisan;  (5) La Bella Teodora at Basa Biñan – an Italian restaurant located at Casa Biñan; and, (6) La Parilla and Pica Pica – an open Filipino “street food and beverage” outlet located at Plaza de Castro. I enjoyed their turon (fried, sweet banana spring roll), bibingka (Filipino rice cake), puto bumbong (steamed, rectangular, purple rice cake) and salabat (hot ginger tea).

Other activities are (but schedules/prices/venue may be changed, so inquire beforehand):

  1. Carabao Parade and Race – A colorful parade which starts at 4 pm at Gate 2 and extends to the Beach Area every Saturday and Sunday. A carabao (Filipino swamp-type water buffalo) race and a “palosebo2” are also held at the Beach Area.
  2. Center of Filipino Arts and Culture – An exhibit at Casa Candaba, open daily from 9 am till 5 pm.
  3. Cockfighting – A famous Filipino pastime held every Sunday at 10am at the back of Casa Tondo.
  4. Cultural Show/Mini Fiesta – A show of traditional Filipino dances (maglalatik3, singkil4 and tinikling5) held every Saturday at Casa Hagonoy/Paseo de Escolta at 6 pm (sundown).
  5. Entertainment and Game Room – A room located at Casa Lubao, just a few steps away from Tulay ni Lola Basyang which offers billiards, darts and other board games free of charge, open daily, from 7 am till 7 pm. Contact a Game Coordinator for Filipino games like: patintero6, piko7, sipa8 or sungka9. Casa Lubao also offers fish feeding for 50 pesos.
  6. Fotografia de la Escolta – A professional in-house photography studio where you can schedule a photoshoot wearing the traditional baro’t saya10 or barong11.
  7. Music Shop – A guitar and ukulele shop located at Paseo de Escolta (beside Fotografia de la Escolta).
  8. Napiya Spa – The in-house spa and wellness center located at Paseo de Escolta (Room 212) which offers the traditional Filipino massages like “bentosa12”, “dagdagay13” and “hilot14”. It is open from 10 am till 9 pm.
  9. Pocket Performance – A performance held at the Tanghalang Tasulok every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 am/11:30 am/2:30 pm/4:30 pm.
  10. Sunday Mass – A Catholic mass held at the church called Santuario de San Jose every Sunday at 10:30 am.
  11. Swimming Pool and Beach Area – A “batis15”-inspired swimming pool open daily from 7 am till 9 pm; the Beach Area is open from 6 am till 6 pm daily.
  12. Water Activities – Activities such as banana boat, boat ride, island hopping, jet ski, kayaking and wakeboarding16, subject to weather and current conditions. Make it to Yasa Point for a zip line ride, ATV17 ride, mountain biking and wall climbing for the younger members of your family.

 

18-Las Casas-MarissaDG

This property is part of Historic Hotels Worldwide and part of the Conde Nast Jahansens Luxury Global Collection and Peninsula Hotel’s Pencities Luxe Guide. It is also the 2017 Asia Awards of Excellence winner.

17-Las Casas - Copy

Here are three “casas” and their stories:

11-A- Las Casas-Casa-ByzantinaCasa Byzantina, a 3-storey, intricately designed “floral” stone house from Binonda, Manila, built in 1890 by Don Lorenzo del Rosario, using Neo-Byzantine19 and Neo-Mudéjar20 influences with elaborate and delicate embellishments. It was demolished in 2009 and transferred to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

5-Las Casas-Casa Luna

Casa Luna, built in 1850 and owned by Primitivo Novicio, the uncle of the famous Luna brothers: General Antonio Luna (the first Filipino general who fought in the Philippine-American War) and Juan Luna (the renowned Filipino painter, sculptor and political activist). It was originally located in the municipality of Namacpacan (now Luna, in the province of La Union, named after the brothers). The house is symmetrically constructed and reflects the typical Ilocano18 stone house, with a “cochera” (a garage for carriages and “carrozas” as well as a storeroom for farm produce) at the ground floor, an “entresuelo” (a mezzanine for the servants), the main second floor for bedrooms, toilet and bath, the grand living room, kitchen, and an “azotea” (a flat roof/platform on the top of the house) at the back.

 

13-Las Casas-Casa Mexico-Pampanga

Casa Mexico-Pampanga, a stone house from the municipality of Mexico, in the province of Pampanga, salvaged from a junk shop and reconstructed based on an old photograph.

Overall and personally, this cultural escapade was memorable for me and my high school buddies. We had enough quality time to bond with each other amidst our leisurely strolls as well as “kalesa”/tram/jeepney rides. We had so many beautiful pictures to look back to in the years to come!

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced going to this destination site, either just for the day or overnight? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Thank you!

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1Tapas are small, savory Spanish dishes.

2Palosebo is a traditional Filipino game for boys during a town fiesta or on special occasions in the provinces using a long, straight, polished and greasy bamboo pole with a small bag or flag tied to the top as a reward to whoever could successfully climb, reach it, and retrieve the bag/flag.

3Maglalatik is a male folk dance from the Philippines where coconut shell halves are secured onto the dancers’ hands and on vests upon which are hung 4 or six more coconut shell halves. The dancers perform the dance by hitting one coconut shell with the other, alternately on the hands, on the shoulders and body, to the beat of a fast drumbeat. NOTE: The dance means “latik-maker”, from “latik”, a syrupy, caramelized coconut cream used as a dessert sauce or garnish, used in Filipino cookery.

4Singkil is a popular folk dance of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao (in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao),  performed during celebrations and other festive occasions, based on the epic legend, Darangen, the pre-Islamic Maranao interpretation of the ancient Hindu Indian epic, the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic poem which narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife, Sita, from the demon king Rayana. This dance was popularized by the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, the oldest dance company in the Philippines, founded in 1957 by Helena Z. Benitez and debuted at Expo ’58 on May 27, 1958, upon the request of President Ramon Magsaysay. Originally, only royal women danced the singkil, as a conscious or unconscious way of attracting potential suitors. A kulintang (an ancient musical instrument composed of a row of small, horizontally laid metal gong kettles, upon a rack, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums, played by striking the bosses of the gongs with 2 wooden beaters) and agung (an ensemble composed of large hanging, suspended or held, knobbed gongs which act as drones) ensemble always accompanies this dance. The female lead dancer gracefully steps in and out of closing bamboo poles arranged in either parallel, rectangular, or criss-cross fashion, while skillfully manipulating either a fan, scarf or by just artistically waving ones bare hands. NOTE: The name of the dance means “to entangle the feet with disturbing objects such as vines or anything in ones path.”

5Tinikling is a Filipino folk dance which involves 2 people beating, tapping, and sliding 2 or 4 parallel pairs of bamboo poles on the ground (or on 2 raised pieces of wood) held by 2 or more sitting or kneeling “clappers” or “clickers” as a percussion instrument, and against each other in coordination with two or more female dancers, wearing embroidered baro’t saya19, and male dancers wearing barong20, who step over and in between the poles, weave through the rapidly moving bamboo poles with bare feet and ankles, traditionally danced to rondalla music, an ensemble of stringed instruments (e.g., bandurrias, guitars, laúdes, octavinas or ukuleles). Traditionally, the poles are tapped twice on the ground on the first 2 beats then brought together on the 3rd beat, with the tempo progressing faster and faster. The dancers need to be skillful and agile not only to follow the rhythm but also not to get their ankles/feet caught between the poles as they are snapped closed. The barefoot dancers start with their hands at their hips or clasped behind their backs, but when the tempo becomes faster, they hold hands, then end by letting go of each other’s hands and stepping out of the moving bamboo poles. NOTE: Tinikling means “to perform like a ‘tikling’, a local bird” which walk gracefully and speedily between grass stems and run over tree branches.

6Patintero is a popular, traditional Filipino street game, using 2 teams, an attack and a defense team, with 5 players each. The attack team must try to run along the perpendicular lines from the home base to the back end, and return without being tagged by the defense players, called “it”. The latter must stand on water/fire lines with both feet each time they try to tag attacking players. The player at the center line is called “patotot”. The perpendicular line at the center allows the “it” designated on that line to intersect the lines occupied by the “it” that the parallel line intersects, thus increasing the chances of the runners to be trapped, even only one member of a group is tagged, the whole group will be the “it”.

7Piko is the Filipino version of hopscotch where players stand behind the edge of a rectangular box, and each should throw their “pamato” (cue ball or flat stone). The first to play is determined on the players’ agreement on the placement of the “pamatos” on a designated line/location and whoever throws the “pamato” nearest the agreed place, will play first. The next nearest is second, etc.

8Sipa is a traditional Filipino game where players kick or toss a washer covered with colorful threads using a foot. A player is thrown upwards and the player starts to toss the washer and counts the number of times s/he does it successfully without the washer touching the ground. The player who has the most kicks wins the game. Sipa literally means “kick”.

9Sungka is the Filipino mancala game played in a wooden board and cowrie shells or stones called “sigays”. A boatlike sungka board has 2 rows of 7 small pits called “bahay” (houses), initially with 7 “sigays”, with an additional bigger hole at both end of the board for each player, called an “ulo” (head) or “inay” (mother) or storehouse, for the captured seashells or stones, owned by a player to his/her left. A player empties one of his/her small pits and distributes its contents in a clockwise direction, one by one, into the following pits including his/her own storehouse but passing the opponent’s storehouse. If the last stone falls into a non-empty small pit, its contents are lifted and distributed in another lap. If the last stone falls into the player’s onw store, the player gets a bonus move. However, if the last stone falls into an empty pit, the move ends and the player is “patay” (dead). If the move ends by dropping the last stone into one of your own small pits, you capture the stones in the opponent’s pit directly across the board and your own stone. The captured shells are “subi” (deposited) in your storehouse. However, if the opponent’s pit is empty, nothing is captured. The first move is plated simultaneously, after which the players take turns alternately. The game ends when no stones are left in the small pits. The player who captures the most shells wins the game.

10Baro’t saya is the national dress of the Philippines traditionally made of piña (pineapple fiber); the feminine equivalent of the barong20. This conservative attire is composed of a blouse is called “baro”, with butterfly sleeves, and the skirt is called “saya”, generally fashioned out of opaque plaid or striped cotton and sinamay varieties. An “alampay” is a square kerchief usually made of the same fabric as the saya, worn over the “baro” to cover the breasts which also doubles as a veil, later called the “panuelo”. An overskirt made of a darker and thicker material called a “tapis” is wrapped around the lower half of the woman’s body and tied at the waist or below the breasts. It is the pre-colonial clothing of the Tagalogs and Visayans made of silk in matching colors, exclusively worn by women from the upper class; those belonging to the lower caste wore a “baro” made from pounded white bark fiber.

 

11Barong is the short term for barong Tagalog, the traditional, lightweight, long-sleeved, embroidered, formal shirt for Filipino males. It is worn untucked over an undershirt. It is considered the national dress of the Philippines.

12Bentosa is an ancient Chinese method used to remove aches and pains and improve the circulation by cupping. It is also spelled “ventosa”. It has 2 types: fire cupping and dry cupping. Fire cupping uses a cup or glass to suction the cold parts at the back of the body which lack blood circulation and have blockages so that they will have normal energy flow. It is executed with a glass cup, candle and oil. Massage oil is applied on the back to create a better seal on the cups, then a candle is lighted with a cotton candle ball on the top. Once the candle is lighted, the cup is placed over the candle so the oxygen is removed and the suction will appear when the skin bloats or puffs. The red marks that will appear after the cupping will disappear after 1-2 days. Dry cupping uses a glass/plastic cup on the skin using a pump so the air is removed by suction.

13Dagdagay is a traditional Filipino acupressure treatment for the legs and feet, originally from the Mountain Province of the Philippines, a way of accessing the body’s entire immune system through the soles of the feet. It begins with a soothing foot soak on healing herbs in a huge clay vessel and capped with a relaxing herbal foot wrap and massage. The therapist uses 2 bamboo or rattan sticks, in pack of finger pressure, to stimulate the soles and cleanse/purify the feet.

14Hilot is the ancient Filipino art of healing in rural areas where, originally, a “manghihilot” uses chiropractic manipulation and massage techniques to treat musculoskeletal ailments, to reset dislocated and sprained joints (ankle, fingers, knee and metacarpal bones). Modern spas use this technique to relieve stress and promote rejuvenation and balance the harmony of the body, emotion and mind, using warm strips of (naturally ionized) banana leaves laved with virgin coconut oil applied on the body before and after a session. The therapist identifies areas of energy imbalance in the body through touch diagnosis. A full body massage involves a combination of slow moving fingers and hand pressure over various pressure points throughout the back and legs, and relaxing the tension in the head and neck.

15A batis is the Tagalog term for a small stream, river or brook.

16Wakeboarding is a surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard21 over the surface of a body of water. It is a combination of snowboarding, surfing and water skiing. The wakeboard is usually towed behind a motorboat or personal water craft at a speed of 30-40 km/hr, depending on the board size, weight, and type of tricks.

17ATV, or All-Terrain Vehicle, is a vehicle that is designed to handle a wide variety of terrain and travels on 3-4 low-pressure tires with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control. The rider sits and operates it like a motorcycle and is stable at slower speeds. It is used in some destinations for a thrilling ride.

18Ilocano is a term which refers to the ethnolinguistic people who live, or come from, the Ilocos Region in the northwestern part of the island of Luzon7, in the Philippines.

19Neo-Byzantine is an architectural revival movement in the 1840s in Western Europe, prevalent among public and religious buildings, especially in Germany and Russia. It combines the Byzantine style with Eastern and Orthodox Christian architecture from the 5th till 11th centuries.

20Neo-Mudéjar is a type of Moorish Revival architecture which started in Madrid, Spain, in the late 19th century, and spread to the rest of that country. It is characterized by abstract-shaped brick ornaments for facades, arabesque tiles and horseshoe arches.

21A wakeboard is a small, mostly rectangular, buoyant and thin board with the core usually made of foam, honeycomb or wood, mixed with resin and coated with fiberglass. It has very little displacement and shoe-like bindings are mounted to it. Metal screws are inserted to attach bindings and fins.

 

 

 

Featured

EL NIDO: Heaven on Earth – Part 1

Location: Province of Palawan, MIMAROPA1 Region, Philippines

My husband and I visited Puerto Princesa2, Palawan3 years ago. The former is a first class, highly urbanized city located in the western province of Palawan, the westernmost city in the Philippines, with 66 barangays, and the capital of Palawan. The airport is located in this city and it is also known for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, named one of the New7Wonders of the Nature. Palawan is a province in the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA Region of the Philippines, founded in 1818, and is now called the Philippines’ Last Frontier.

We were invited by my high school buddies and their families to El Nido (a first-class municipality in the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan), from February 19 to 22, 2017. It was our first time to visit this wonderful destination known for its awesome coral reefs, white-sand beaches, unique lagoons and limestone cliffs.

We were likewise curious how tourism can thrive amidst the so-called El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA)4, the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines, covering 18 barangays in El Nido and 3 barangays of its neighboring town, Taytay, involving more than 900 sq. km, using various forest and marine conservation and protection programs, to protect and develop the livelihoods of the seaside local population, amidst the development of tourist in the area. A very small (50 US cents) daily conservation fee is required per visitor.

We heard so much about El Nido’s beauty so we did not hesitate to join the group to discover this new destination which was part of our bucket list.

21-El-Nido

Everything was pre-arranged by my very dependable and travel-savvy friend from the US so my husband and I just paid for our share. Here is the first part of our unforgettable adventure!

Our group arrived at the Puerto Princesa Airport and two vans were waiting for us provided by Daytripper Palawan. The mini-packs of banana chips, bottled water and, of course, the professional driving skills of our drivers were very much appreciated. It was about a 6-hour trip from the airport to El Nido, and we stopped a couple of times for the “call of nature”, to stretch a bit, as well as have our lunch. Some of us appreciated the view while some slept along the way.

We finally arrived at Sea Cocoon, our hotel, and we all checked-in. We used the remaining time to explore the town, its market and retail stalls, the beach, and savored its local and fresh seafood for dinner along a seaside restaurant. We slept early the previous night because this will be the first of our 3 day-tour that will take us around this awesome destination.

We had a good night’s rest after a hot shower and slept soundly on a comfortable bed in our air-conditioned room. We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and the hotel’s sumptuous buffet breakfast was so good!

I am also lucky to have a well-organized friend who even provided durable hard-plastic beach bags where I could place all my (and my husband’s) needs for the day: sun block, bottles of mineral water for hydration, comb, towels, sunglasses, well-protected cell phone and power bank, snacks, cash, etc. Photos were taken after breakfast, all met at the lobby, trooped to the beach (which was just about 3 minute-walk from our hotel) and before we knew it, we were all aboard our big banca (boat) for the day.

My friend contracted Hello El Nido for the 3 packaged tours and may I say that my husband and I were very satisfied with the services of the management and all the boatmen/crew. Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

It also seemed that the local government has standardized the packaged tours of El Nido which is beneficial for us, first-time tourists. Our tour that day is marketed as TOUR C – SECRET ISLANDS AND BEACHES, costing 1,400 pesos each person.

We wore our safety vests and enjoyed the natural beauty – 360 degrees! Worried that you cannot swim? Don’t be! You can stay in the banca but I do not recommend that and I am so sure you will not because of the beauty of all the stops. All destinations are safe for all ages and all stops are worth the trip! So, listen up, it’s our first packaged tour of El Nido and I know you will be excited with me as I recall our tour.

The first stop was SECRET BEACH which can only be accessed by swimming and going through a small crevice in a rock wall. No worries, dearest seniors, I gained weight and still fitted LOL! Besides, the kind boatmen will always be ready to assist you: seniors, kids, and whoever else needs assistance. Once inside, you will be awed by this pristine beach and its beauty and thus, a secret no more!

Next was HIDDEN BEACH, surrounded by fantastic limestone rock formations. You can just float with your life vest or swim, just be careful not to be near sharp corals.

The STAR OF TALISAY BEACH was the next stop. It is a snorkeling site and was also our lunch stop. Now, I am sure you are curious to know about the buffet lunch. Let me tell you that all such meals for our 3 package tours were soooo good, thanks to Hello El Nido! The freshly cooked “inihaw” (grilled) pork and seafood (shrimps/fish/squids), along with fresh vegetables/seaweed salad, hot steamed rice, and fresh fruits were always a welcome feast for our group! Burp! Drinking water was also provided. Happy tummies always! My best advice is for you to bring cash for fresh buko (young coconut) or cold softdrinks sold in island stops.

1-El-Nido- lunch buffet

The MATINLOC SHRINE or the SHRINE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, is located in an island maintained by the descendants of the original owner. Be prepared for a 100 peso-entrance fee. The shrine is serene and satisfies the religious among us seniors. The big old house seemed abandoned but you can imagine its splendor when it was new and operational. Our group went up a cemented area with steps leading to the peak where we had an unforgettable view for miles and miles!

Last was HELICOPTER ISLAND, a helicopter-shaped island when viewed from afar, ideal for snorkeling and diving.

This first packaged tour was indeed wonderful! Thanks, Gani Ricarte of http://www.helloelnido.com! Your kind boatmen returned us to our shores early so we can enjoy the majestic sunset in this picturesque island! We felt so lucky to have another dinner along the shore for us to breathe in all the good vibes while we savored the fresh seafood treats we ordered!

Did you find this post informative? Have you experienced this package tour? I would like to hear from you. Just scroll to the bottom of this post and type your comment in the designated box. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you.

Watch out for my next post and discover the other beautiful islands of El Nido!

Do visit my El Nido posts:

EL NIDO: Blue Lagoons – Part 2

and

EL NIDO: Islands and Caves – Part 3

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1MIMAROPA, according to the Wikipedia page, “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, is an administrative region of the Philippines which is an acronym for its constituent provinces: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. SOURCE: “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

2“Puerto Princesa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto Princesa.

3“Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

 4“El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El Nido,_Palawan.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

TAO YUAN RESTAURANT: YUMMY CHINESE-SINGAPOREAN TREATS

Location: 2/F Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City, Philippines

A niece of ours brought us to Resorts World Manila (an integrated resort*) in Pasay City and since it was almost lunch time and we were already hungry, she suggested we try this Chinese-Singaporean seafood restaurant at the second floor of Newport Mall. We said we were willing to try it and here is our dining experience for four.

The dining area was spacious, the air conditioning gave a comfortable ambiance and the head receptionist was very accommodating who led us to a table and graciously took our orders. I appreciated coming early for lunch because I heard that this place is popular and crowded during lunch and dinner.

1-Tao Yuan
Singaporean Fried Fish Skin

Our appetizer was Singaporean Fried Fish Skin and this is to die for!  The salted egg taste along with the crispy fish skin was so yummy so I told myself, this is definitely a Cheat Day for me due its generous portion and this was just for starters! It was worth 328 peso. We were not able to finish it so we asked this to be wrapped and we continued to enjoy it at home after being heated in the microwave, and was still so yummy!

2-Tao Yuan
Scallops with Minced Vegetable Soup

We just had a small order of Scallops with Minced Vegetable Soup and it was served at the right temperature, subtle yet delicious. The texture and delicate taste made this dish a delectable treat at 498 pesos.

3-Tao Yuan
Hainanese Chicken

We had half an order of their Singaporean Boneless Hainanese Chicken, a favorite among its customers. Now I know why! It is so tender and its delicate taste, along with the accompanying dips, makes you want to dig in for more. The 750 price was worth it.

4-Tao Yuan
Salted Fish and Diced Chicken

The Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Diced Chicken was tasty yet complemented the dishes we ordered so I enjoyed them all together or even just the fried rice alone! A small order costs 398 pesos.

5-Tao Yuan
Roasted Crispy Pork Belly

The Roasted Crispy Pork Belly was a winner! The crispy skin yet tender meat with its dip was just right for meat lovers. It costs 428 pesos.

6-Tao Yuan
Scallops with Broccoli Flowers

Scallops with Broccoli Flowers was ordered for someone craving for vegetables. Even the kid with us enjoyed this dish. The contrasting texture of the broccoli along with the smooth and the pleasantly-flavored scallops was a great combination. A small order costs 980 pesos.

We were given a complimentary dessert of almond lychee and it was refreshing with just the right sweetness, after all the dishes we enjoyed!

I just want to say that I paid for our meal and these are my personal comments based on the orders we made. It is a bit pricey but we had value for money and we were very satisfied! Happy tummies!

We will definitely come back to this restaurant and try their other dishes. I was told that dimsum is served in their other branch and would like to try it too.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in this restaurant or in any of its other branches? Do you know other Chinese restaurants you want me to feature? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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*An integrated resort is a type of resort which features lodging, gaming, convention failities, entertainment shows, fine dining outlets, high-end retail outlets, and theme parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GERRY’S RESTAURANT & BAR: Gratifying Grilled Gustation

Location: Ground Floor, Butterfly Garden, Resort Drive, Newport City, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines

When we crave for “inihaw1”, one place that definitely comes to mind is Gerry’s Grill!

Its first restaurant opened on February 14, 1997 at Tomas Morato in Quezon City. After 21 years, it currently has 95 branches nationwide: 2 in Cagayan Valley, 12 in CALABARZON2, 15 in Central Luzon, 5 in Central Visayas, 3 in Eastern Visayas, 11 in Mindanao, 37 in NCR, 5 in North Luzon, 2 in South Luzon, and 3 in Western Visayas. It also has 6 branches overseas (3 in the USA, 2 in Singapore and 1 in Qatar).3

2-Gerry

This family-casual dining restaurant offers a wide array of Filipino dishes: appetizers, soups, char-grilled items, sizzling selections, seafood, chicken, pork, beef, rice, vegetables, kinilaw4, merienda5 treats, desserts, shakes, juices, soft drinks, hot drinks, cold drinks, and alcoholic drinks.

It has been decades since we last ate at the original Tomas Morato branch but we were recently in the Newport area and opted to have lunch there.

This Newport City branch is open daily, from 10AM till 12 midnight. It offers airconditioned dining as well as outdoor seating. The latter would be ideal for unwinding after work with cocktails or other alcoholic drinks, accompanied by appetizers or char-grilled orders.

We arrived half past noon. It was very hot outdoors, so the place was packed; but we found a table at one corner indoors. Parking was a problem, though.

I liked the large menu card which really entices customers to order since the colored pictures are so good to look at! Here are the pictures:

3-GerrySoups and Kilaw, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

4-GerryAppetizers, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

5-GerryOther Appetizers, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

6-Gerry.jpgVegetables, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

7-GerryPork and Beef Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

8-Gerry.jpgChicken Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

9-Gerry.jpgOther Chicken Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

10-Gerry.jpgChar-Grilled Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

11-Gerry.jpgSizzling Treats, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

12-Gerry.jpgSizzling Selections, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

13-Gerry.jpgOther Sizzling Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

14-Gerry.jpgSeafood and Rice, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

15-Gerry.jpgSeafood and Rice Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

16-Gerry.jpgMerienda Selection, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

17-Gerry.jpgDesserts, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

18-Gerry.jpgNon-Alcoholic Drinks, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

19-Gerry.jpgAlcoholic Drinks, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

20-Gerry.jpgFresh Fruit Drinks, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

21-Gerry.jpgSummer Treats 2018, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

 

After a weekend stay in a resort with buffet meals, we decided to stay away from pork dishes. We finally agreed and ordered the following:

24-Gerry.jpgThe Sinigang na Boneless Bangus6 was served hot but was not sour enough. However, this was good for the kid with us.

The Sizzling Kangkong7 a la Pobre was served on a sizzling plate but was not sizzling at all. We were disappointed because it was watery, lacked the expected garlic taste, and was mostly stalks, instead of leaves.

26-Gerry.jpgThe Inihaw na Pusit8 was the winner for this visit! It was grilled just right and one order could be shared.

27-Gerry.jpgThe Inihaw na Manok is a half-chicken order that is char-grilled and could be shared as well. However, it was too dry and lacked the anticipated marinated taste.

25-Gerry.jpgThe Special Binagoongang Rice9 was good and perfect with the grilled items we ordered.

 

22-Gerry.jpgThe watermelon shake was refreshing and not too sweet.

23-Gerry.jpgThe fresh buko10 juice was served chilled, with a straw, and still in the buko shell. (Note to balikbayans who miss this drink: one could not get it any fresher!) We requested the bukos to be opened after sipping the juice. The buko meat was thin and easily scooped with a spoon.

Waiting time for orders was about 20-25 minutes. Service was slow, the waitstaff was not attentive, and getting the bill and change took some time too. My observation: It was almost 2PM but the restaurant was still full. Business is good! Unfortunately, service suffers.

Contact details: (02) 332-1111. Visit its official website –www.gerrysgrill.com, Facebook account – gerrysgrill.com.ph, and Instagram – @gerrysrestaurant

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I hope these footnotes will be appreciated by foreign viewers of this blog who are not familiar with local terms:

1Inihaw is the Filipino term for grilled, roasted, barbecued, or broiled.

2CALABARZON, or Region IV-A, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon, with Calamba as its regional center. CALABARZON is an acronym for this region’s five provinces: CAvite, LAguna, BAtangas, Rizal, QueZON.

3www.gerrysgrill.com

4Kinilaw is the Filipino term for a raw native Filipino dish, similar to ceviche. It literally means “eaten raw”. The fresh cubed fish/seafood, or lightly grilled and chopped meat, is mixed primarily with vinegar, plus a souring agent (usually calamansi or dayap), and flavored with salt and black pepper, ginger, onions, and chilis.

5Merienda is the Filipino term for morning or afternoon snack.

6Bangus, or milkfish, is the national fish of the Philippines. Filipinos usually prefer it prepared “boneless” because its numerous pin bones would otherwise make eating it a bit difficult.

7Kangkong is a semiaquatic, tropical vegetable-plant, grown for its leaves and tender shoots, according to the Wikipedia page, “Ipomoea aquatica”.10 It is also known as swamp cabbage, Chinese convolvulus/spinach/watercress, water morning glory, and river/water spinach. It is a popular vegetable in Filipino cuisine, used in a variety of dishes like sinigang and adobo.

8Pusit is the Filipino term for squid, usually cooked as adobo or grilled.

9Binagoongang Rice is a Filipino version of fried rice made with sautéed shrimp paste (called bagoong) and thin slices of raw-ripe mangoes.

10Buko is the Filipino term for young coconut harvested for its sweet and refreshing juice/water and thin, easy to scoop, meat.

10Ipomoeaaquatica,” accessed April 20, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipomoea_aquatica

 

THAI BBQ ORIGINAL RESTAURANT: Tasty Thai Treats

Location: Ground Floor (beside Glorietta 4 mall entrance), Glorietta 4, Ayala Malls, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

2-ThaiSawatdeeKah! Hello from THAI BBQ ORIGINAL RESTAURANT, Glorietta 4!

This casual dining, family-style, Thai restaurant, originally from Los Angeles, USA, was established by Pat and Tammy Ngamari in 1978. In the website www.thaibbqla.com, they claim that their family has been perfecting recipes and styles of Thai cooking for three generations, spanning over 50 years. This restaurant was awarded Thai Select* for authentic Thai Cuisine by the Ministry of Commerce, Thailand.

3-ThaiGround Floor Entrance and stairs to 2nd Floor, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

However, I was not in LA last April, dearest Seniors, I was in Makati City! Thanks to No Limits Food Inc. – a food and beverage company based in 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City – which obtained the franchise, we can all enjoy another Thai restaurant in the metro! Yes, it is the same local company behind KPub BBQ, Modern China, Modern Sichuan, Ogawa Traditional Japanese Restaurant, Oppa Chicken, and Tony Roma’s. Visit its Facebook account – No Limits Food Inc.

4-ThaiSecond Floor Dining Area, right next to the stairs

This is the fourth branch (see the three others below) in Metro Manila. It had a soft opening on December 17, 2017 and is operated by Roasted Meat Concepts Corporation. It is open daily, from 11AM – 10PM.

13-Thai

14-ThaiMenu Card, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

The menu is extensive: appetizers (PHP280-420); soup entrees (PHP320-380); salads (PHP280-380); beef entrees (PHP380-640); chicken entrees (PHP340-640); pork entrees (PHP380-640); seafood entrees (PHP420-900); noodles (PHP320-420); rice (PHP70-420); vegetables (PHP280-380); desserts (PHP180-420); and, beverages – iced teas, beers, shakes, mineral water (PHP90-140).

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S2JT01525352956Beverage Menu, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

It also offers the following House Specials served with Shrimp Fried Rice, and – except for those items marked with an * — with Cucumber Salad and Peanut Sauce: BBQ Spare Ribs Dinner* (PHP680), Beef/Chicken/Pork Sate Dinner (PHP580-740), Sate Combination (PHP580-720), Gaiyang (BBQ ½ Chicken) Dinner* (PHP620). Just in case you want to order Cucumber Salad along with the marked specials*, add PHP120.

5-ThaiSecond Floor Dining Room, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

My group of five arrived early for lunch. We opted to dine at the second floor and were warmly greeted by a waitstaff in Thai attire. The tables are good for four or more, and the chairs are comfortable to sit on. Menu/Drink cards were immediately given to us.

Orders were served promptly and efficiently by the attentive waitstaff. The house specials have generous portions that seem to be intended for sharing. So, dear Seniors, it would be best to bring your family or friends along.

10-ThaiSpring Rolls, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

The SPRING ROLLS (PHP280) were served hot. They were crisp, flavorful, and best enjoyed with the accompanying vinegar dip.

8-ThaiThe COMBINATION SOUP (PHP320) was served hot and was tasty.

9-ThaiPomelo Salad and Lemon Grass Iced Tea, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

The POMELO SALAD (PHP380), with its dressing, offered a combination of texture, and sweet-sour taste, as well as a bit of aromatic kick from the cilantro. I had to ask for additional cilantro! Personally, this was the ideal dish to eat before the House Specials were served.

11-ThaiGaiyang, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

The GAIYANG (PHP620) is a Thai mild-spiced, tender, barbecued chicken, that was well complemented by the honey sauce. It was served with a generous portion of Shrimp Fried Rice.

12-ThaiSate Combination, Thai BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4

The SATE COMBINATION (PHP720) is an excellent choice for sate lovers since this savory order offers three kinds of tender and flavorful sates – beef, chicken and pork. The accompanying Shrimp Fried Rice, peanut sauce and cucumber salad were good counterpoints for this dish. The marinated and grilled meats were cooked just right and were flavorful and mildly spicy – perfect for seniors and kids.

I enjoyed sipping the refreshing LEMON GRASS ICED TEA (PHP120) in between courses. It had a good balance of sweetness and lemon grass taste.

Overall, I would recommend this restaurant to satisfy your Thai food cravings. The food is good, and the prices are reasonable since servings are generous enough for sharing.

Prices quoted were as of April 2018, VAT inclusive and subject to 10% service charge. I paid personally for our meal and all comments are personal.

Cash and credit cards are accepted. Table booking is recommended. Contact details: (02) 751-9008/2903/2371; 09171112121; Facebook – THAI BBQ Original Restaurant Glorietta 4; IG – #thaibbq.manila

There are three other branches in Metro Manila: (1) Ground Floor, The Fort Entertainment Complex, 5th Avenue corner 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City – M-Su: 11 am-3pm; 5:30-11pm – (02) 846-0000, 09178950000; (2) 2/F, Ayala Malls Vertis North, Triangle Exchange, North Avenue, Quezon City – M-Su: 11am-10pm – (02) 364-0068; (3) Level 5, Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Main Wing, Shaw Boulevard corner EDSA, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City – M-Th: 11am-9pm; F: 11am-10pm; Sa: 10am-10pm; Su: 10am-9pm – (02) 246-9069 ext. 886.

I will return to taste their Fried Calamari, Yum PlaDook Foo (Catfish Salad), Pad Thai (Fried Noodles), Tom Yum Goong (Thai sour shrimp/prawn soup), Crispy/Honey Duck Dinner, BBQ Spare Ribs Dinner, Panang Beef Curry, Pineapple and Bagoong Fried Rice, and Thai Milk Iced Tea. So many reasons to return, definitely another cheat meal for sure!

Did you find this post informative? I have not been to the original LA outlet of Thai BBQ Original Restaurant. Why don’t you tell me if the quality and taste are the same as in Metro Manila? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the top right part of this post and click “Leave a comment.” Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

You might also like to read about a Greenbelt Thai restaurant which I posted – SIMPLY THAI: Simply Delightful!

KhobKhunKah (Thank you)!

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*Thai Select is a program of the Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, the Royal Thai Government, that certifies and promotes authentic Thai cuisine worldwide, as well as the appropriate hospitality and ambiance. Good for three years and renewable, it is a seal of approval granted to Thai restaurants outside of Thailand that serve authentic Thai food, and to companies that produce Thai food products. It aims to increase the recognition of quality Thai restaurants and processed Thai food products, as well as to encourage Thai restaurateurs and food producers to raise their quality and authenticity. www.thaiselect.com

THROWBACK – A THRILL OF A LIFETIME: SWIMMING WITH THE GENTLE GIANT – THE BUTANDING

Location: Barangay Dancalan, Town of Donsol, Province of Sorsogon, Region V – Bicol Region, Philippines

 At this stage in our lives, my husband and I look forward to ticking off our bucket list. I’m sure you do too, dear Seniors! A unique local excitement in our list is to see the butanding in Donsol, and we finally got our chance when a family member invited us to Sorsogon for Holy Week 2017.

Now, you might ask, how do I get to Donsol? Good question!

You can ride a Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines’ plane, just an hour’s flight from Manila to Legazpi City, in the province of Albay. Private vans can be hired from the airport to Donsol, costing PHP2,500-3,000.

You can also use a public tricycle, at PHP50, from the airport to the Legazpi Central Terminal, a centralized public transport terminal for all buses, jeepneys and vans to/from Legazpi and other Bicol areas located in the parking area at the back of Savemore Supermarket in the city proper. Tell the driver to bring you to the Donsol section.

You can then opt to take a PUV (van, 12-16 pax) from the Legazpi Central Terminal to Donsol for PHP98 (per person), but the van has to be filled up before departure.

You can also take a 12-hour airconditioned bus ride from Manila to Legaspi (costing PHP850) or a 13-hour bus ride from Manila to Donsol (PHP650 – non-airconditioned bus; PHP900 – airconditioned bus). For the former, refer to the previous paragraph how to get to Donsol from the Legazpi Central Terminal. Just surf the bus companies that can bring you to these destinations.

Of course, you can use a private vehicle and enjoy the road trip with your companions. You can use the Waze app to guide you all the way to Sorsogon. That is what we did: a relative of ours was kind enough to use his vehicle to drive/join us from Manila to Sorsogon. It was a great time to bond, and, boy, did we have endless conversations and lots of laughs for 11 hours! We also made several stops along the way to refresh ourselves, and to eat.

If you do not have relatives or friends in Sorsogon where you can stay, do not fear. There are resorts, inns, pension houses, and homestays, just surf or inquire from the Donsol Municipal Tourism office (cell phone number 0927-4023814). I suggest that if you will go with a big group, reserve accommodations ahead of time especially during the peak season (April and May). It is also advisable to arrive the day before your butanding adventure, to ensure an early morning boat ride – the best time for this activity.

Now, for foreigners, what is a butanding? It is the local term for whale shark.

Philippines, Luzon, Sorsogon Province, Donsol, whale shark (Rhincodon typus)BUTANDING: The Gentle Giant (Photo by WWF)

For more than a century, these gentle giants have been visiting Donsol’s waters between November and June, peaking between February and May. The residents initially feared these enormous creatures. It took a group of scuba divers in December 1997 to prove that the fish was docile, and their videos were spread till Donsol became an exciting destination. Thus, on March 1998, whale shark watching became an official attraction of Donsol, regulated both by the local DOT office and the observance of WWFguidelines.(see Wikipedia page, “Donsol”.2)

For the readers who have a biology background, bear with me but I need to describe it somehow. As explained in the Wikipedia page, “Whale shark”.The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is 4 to 12 meters long, grey fish (with unique pale yellow spots and stripes), a white belly, 3 prominent ridges along its sides and 5 large pairs of gills. It can weigh up to 21 tons, has a wide and flat head with two small eyes at the front, has a very large (1.5 m or almost 5 feet wide) mouth (with 300-350 rows of tiny teeth and 10 filter pads which it uses to filter feed). Amazingly, this gentle giant only filter-feeds on the nutrient-rich plankton that flow into the sea from the Donsol River, among others, during the months I mentioned above.

The butanding has a lifespan of 70-100 years and only reaches sexual maturity at 30 years2 (oh, my dearest butanding, so sorry you have to wait that long!?). It is the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate, the largest known extant fish species, the largest non-cetacean animal in the world, the sole member of the genus Rhincodon, and the only extant member of the family Rhincodontodae. It has a pair of dorsal fins and pectoral fins and its spiracles are just behind its eyes. Juveniles’ tails have a larger upper fin than lower fin while the adult tail becomes semilunate.2 A juvenile butanding can eat more than 20 kg of plankton a day and they migrate to feed. Donsol is so blessed for it is strategically located in waters teeming with natural planktons that seem like a smorgasbord for these creatures. And we, Filipinos, are so lucky to have this phenomenon in Donsol!

Wait, my dear Seniors, at this point I know what is going on in your senior-minds … Are you scared of the water and these huge butandings? Don’t be! They are huge, yes! But they are so gentle and would not even bite nor hurt you! Remember, we are the ones visiting them in their feeding grounds in Donsol, or wherever you go to see them. Just imagine being about 3-4 meters away from a giant creature which is peacefully swimming along and happily eating unlimited plankton!

In addition, you can request your guide to be right beside you when you jump in the water in time to marvel at the sight of this wonderful creature, just like slightly scared but so excited “me”. Your snorkel or diving mask will enable you can stay as long as possible under water, or at least put your head in the water, just to witness the butanding peacefully feeding and swimming quietly before your eyes. Your safety vest will automatically make you float. You will not regret doing this adventure of a lifetime! Promise!

Anyway, if your group is less than six, either pay the whole amount for a “banca” (boat) or be prepared to share the banca with other tourists. If you want to just walk in, come early, around 7:30 am, at the Butanding Visitors Center.

We arrived in Sorsogon on April 11. Let me say that the roads in Sorsogon are so well paved, clean and well-maintained. I enjoyed my early jogging and bonding with my husband and appreciated the well-paved sidewalk, constructed for safety and convenience for all who need to walk around the province.

1-Butanding Visitors Center                                                            The Butanding Visitors Center                                                          (Photo courtesy of Desiree Abitria, Donsol Municipal Tourism Office)

The day for our great Butanding Adventure started with a full breakfast. We, Seniors, did all our morning “rituals”, joined the rest of the group, rode a van, and got to the Butanding Visitors Center early, around 8am, so eager to participate in this magical experience!

Now, Seniors, you might ask, what do we bring, Tita S? For the ladies, bring a sturdy and waterproof beach bag where you can keep the following: towel, cellphone, power bank, waterproof GoPro to video your butanding encounter (or you can rent an underwater camera on site), snacks, bottled water, medicine/s, sunblock, aloe vera gel (just in case you get sunburned), etc. If you have your own diving mask/snorkel set and fins, bring them too! If not, no worries, these can be rented on site as well. For the gentlemen, a waterproof bag (my husband uses a 20-kg Ocean Pack) with more or less the same contents and whatever personal things you need for almost half a day.

We paid the required fees and filled up the appropriate forms. Please check if the following rates still apply: (1) the boat rental package for about 3 hours, including the services of a Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO)/spotter/boatmen is 3,500 pesos per boat, strictly for a maximum of 6 persons (adult/child); (2) an environmental/registration fee of 100 pesos per Filipino visitor and 300 pesos per foreign visitor (This is indeed a good indication that the local government is overseeing and regulating this tourist activity so as not to exploit the gentle butanding!); and, (3) the rental for a diving mask/snorkel set and fins, if you did not bring any, is 300 pesos per set. As an option, you can rent an underwater camera to take pictures of this wonderful experience.

We were then ushered to a viewing room for the must-see instructional video presentation-orientation for whale watching. The safety regulations were (as far as my senior memory can recall): a maximum of 6 swimmers per whale shark; to stay 3 meters away from the head/body and 4 meters away from the tail; not to get in direct contact with the shark (touch or ride it) or restrict its movement; a maximum of 10 minute-swim per whale shark; and, flash photography is not allowed.

We were then given our snorkel with diving mask set, flippers, and life vest, after paying the rental fee. We did not forget to apply sunblock at least 15 minutes before we boarded the banca.

CjEkR1525191893Bancas waiting for your Butanding Adventure

Tips, dearest Seniors: 1. Be sure the rented swimming gears fit you so you will be comfortable in the water which is a bit dark and not so clear because of the rich plankton, the yummy food sought by the butanding; and, 2. If you have not used a snorkel for some time, try practicing how to place the diving mask tightly so the water will not enter when you plunge in the water. Place the snorkel in your mouth while in the boat and practice breathing with your mouth so you can stay longer to marvel at the butanding.

Philippines, Luzon, Sorsogon Province, Donsol, Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) giving a briefing before whale shark interactionThe Butanding Interaction Officer’s briefing (Photo by WWF)

We were assigned to, and briefed by, a Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) who was responsible for the safety of the persons in the boat. He also signaled us, with great accuracy/timing, to jump into the water to swim/snorkel alongside the butanding. We were also assigned a banca with a competent whale spotter (the man who stands on the boat beam to locate the majestic butanding) and two boatmen. Once in the banca, we all secured our life vests and were all excited.

9d1lo1525192073Our spotter and two boatmen

Note that the number of sightings depends on the season and since it was April– what can I say – it’s Butanding’s Peak Season. So I said: “Dearest Gentle Giants, don’t be shy, here we come!”

When a butanding is spotted, the boat would sail in its direction. We were excited, as we sat at the side of the banca with our snorkels and fins on. The BIO then signaled us to jump into the water and oh, what an awesome sight to see it peacefully feeding/swimming alongside while you marvel at its size and beauty!

NCegalerba-JSzwemberg_Donsol__91I7264Photo by WWF

For seniors, if you are “sigurista” (prudent) like me, I suggest you jump with the BOI, or with your trusted partner (husband, friend) so you will experience it together! You get to see the butanding for a short while as it swims alongside your spot, but I tell you, it’s like time stood still every time I snorkeled to see it. Then off you go, back to the banca, eagerly awaiting the next jump.

I must confess that I easily get scared and excited but since this is one major activity in my bucket list, I went for it! I tell you, the first time you see the butanding, you would be overwhelmed, thrilled, and amazed at just how big it is, and be awed by its majestic beauty. It’s like being in another planet! I was able to see its monstrous mouth open, with its huge gills moving, and just gently gliding and passing by in front of me! Such a fantastic feeling of exhilaration every time I saw it! I saw two butandings and I will always talk about this experience for years to come.

Philippines, Luzon, Sorsogon Province, Donsol, boats waiting for whale sharkSnorkeling to see the Gentle Giant @ Donsol (Photo by WWF)

I even mentally apologized for disturbing their eating time: “Walang personalan. Ang layo ng pinanggalingan ko. Silip lang ako while you eat, ok?” (“Nothing personal. I came from far away. Allow me to only watch you eat, ok?”) “I will just watch you as near as I am allowed.”

I assure you, dear Seniors, after the first encounter with this creature, you will be more comfortable using the diving mask and snorkel and can stay longer in the water, so you can appreciate it even better. You will keep on asking the BOI/spotter to be more vigilant in locating this fish so you can again and again plunge into the water and enjoy the whole morning!

We sailed for about 3 hours, sighted about 5 butandings, and finally returned to the Center in time for lunch. A kind boatman used a hose to remove the sand from our feet before we entered the cemented area of the Center.

Seniors, better be sure that all swimming gears rented are returned, and acknowledged as complete. I recommend that you give a tip to the boat crew: the BIO, spotters, and boatmen; they all work so hard for a living and this is just a sign of your gratitude for such an incredible and fantastic experience!

Then, we took a bath and off we went to a sumptuous seafood buffet lunch! Life is good, thank you, Lord! One big check off my bucket list!

Dear Seniors, if I can do it, you can do it too! Add this unforgettable, awesome and ultimate underwater experience in your bucket list and go to Donsol this May! To make it more memorable, make it a family experience; we did and so can you! Achieve!

Next time, and God willing, I will try Donsol’s two night tours: the firefly tour and the shrimp-catching tour, as well as other tourist attractions in Donsol, Sorsogon City, and other parts of Sorsogon. These would all be exciting too! Just call beforehand to confirm if such tours are offered when you plan to visit Donsol.

Please note that there is no guarantee of seeing a butanding and no refund is given if this happens. So be sure to go in the morning and during peak season (April and May).

We were told that Oslob, Cebu, also offers butanding watching. Its waters are shallower and clearer so one can get clearer pictures of this beautiful creature. However, the boatmen feed the butanding. The choice is up to you! A lot of tourists go to both Donsol and Oslob.

Special thanks to the Escudero family for their warm hospitality. Thanks to MS. DESIREE AVITRIA of the Donsol Municipal Tourism Office for the WWF pictures and directions how to get to Donsol. Dearest Seniors, if you have any inquiries, you can call the said office: 09274023814.

Did you find this post informative? Have you experienced whale shark watching in Donsol, Oslob, other parts of the country, or abroad? I would love to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Thank you. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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 1WWF stands for World Wide Fund for Nature, the world’s largest conservation organization. It is an international non-governmental organization for wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment, according to the Wikipedia page, “World Wildlife Fund for Nature”. It was formerly called the World Wildlife Fund but the term is still used in North America.

2”Donsol,” accessed November 14, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donsol.

3”Whale shark,” accessed November 14, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark.

4“World Wide Fund for Nature,” accessed November 14, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Fund_for_Nature.

KOREAN VILLAGE YAKINIKU RESTAURANT: Still a Knockout!

Location: 566 J. Nakpil Street, Malate, City of Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

Hey, Baby Boomers who frequented the Malate area in the ‘70s-90s, do you remember this restaurant? This Korean-Asian restaurant started in 1977 and was originally located in Adriatico Street. It moved to its current address in 2007. One can tell that this is a favorite dining place because it fills up fast, and, based on the rapport among the waitstaff and guests, that it has a sizeable number of “repeat” customers.

2-Koreanfacade, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

I had a delightful workout with blissful stretching and my companions had an enjoyable tennis match in a nearby country club one Sunday afternoon in April 2018. We were so hungry and thought of going to this restaurant for an early dinner, even though it was only 5:30PM. It was a wise decision since the limited parking space for 4 vehicles was soon full.

3-Koreanground floor dining area, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

This restaurant is closed on Mondays but is open the rest of the week from 11:30AM-2:30PM and again from 5:30PM-10:30PM. It has two floors, for about 60 persons per floor, ideal for families and groups.

5-KoreanEach table has its own grill since this is a yakiniku1 restaurant.

This 41-year old restaurant offers: appetizers, Korean barbecue, fried and grilled dishes, hot pots, noodles, rice, soup, stews, and desserts. Beverages include: hot and cold drinks, beer and wine.

10-Korean

11-Korean

12-Korean

13-Korean

14-Koreanmenu, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

Immediately after being seated, menu cards were handed over to us. Favorites were ordered and complimentary banchansoon followed – kimchi3, kongnamul4 (bean sprouts in sesame oil), myulchibokkeum5 (stir-fried anchovies), seasoned tofu, marble potatoes, and seasoned spring onions-leeks. Now that’s fast service, perhaps because we came early LOL!

4-Koreancomplimentary banchan, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

The miso soup was disappointing but was served hot so that much was appreciated.

The steamed rice was served hot in individual metal bowls with covers. The quality of the rice was good.

6-KoreanBeef Bulgogi, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

8-Korean

15-KoreanWrap pa more at Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant!

The meat orders were cooked in a smokeless tabletop grill. The Beef Bulgogiwas very flavorful. We enjoyed the lettuce wrap using whatever we had on the table – the different pastes, banchan, rice, etc. Definitely, we had to request for extra lettuce.

16-KoreanTeresa cooking Chicken Fillet, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

17-KoreanTeresa preparing Beef Short Ribs, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

The Chicken Fillet and Beef Short Ribs were cooked one after the other. Our favorite is the delicious Chicken Fillet, with the accompanying dips. My taste buds were very happy! I also enjoyed the tasty and tender Beef Short Ribs.

9-KoreanThe Shrimp Tempura was good but I personally prefer a crispier batter.

18-Koreanpineapple slices and Melona ice bar, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

Free, fresh, sweet, and pre-sliced pineapple was served along with our order of Melona, the melon-flavored ice bar as dessert! Happy tummies indeed! Burp!

This restaurant is old but has a simple, homey, and cozy ambiance. I commend the fast, courteous and cheerful service of the waitstaff. For the ultimate dining experience, look for Teresa, the very efficient and friendly server. Yes, dear Seniors, she has been there for 36 years! All the waitstaff were very attentive to our needs. Orders arrived quickly, and empty dishes were bussed promptly. Food and drinks were served at the right temperature. A pitcher of cold water was also given for our table. I consider the price reasonable too.

So, the next time you are in the Malate area, have a craving for Korean food, and are not particular about fancy ambiance, why not drive early to this restaurant (since parking is a problem), order your old Korean-Japanese favorite dishes and I am sure memories will rush to your minds while waiting for your orders. However, you have to be quick in reminiscing because the service is really fast! LOL

The night was still young and we could have gone to nearby bars but we were so tired after a good workout/game so we decided to just go home early. That visit to Malate bars will be a future post.

I will definitely come back and will try other items like Beef Spareribs, Beef Stew, Bibimbap Stoneware, Fried Rice Special, Spicy Cold Noodles, Shrimp Korean Barbecue, and different popsicle flavors. Another cheat meal to plan LOL!

Table booking is recommended if you cannot come early. Plan where to park or find a driver to drop you off and pick you up. Cash and cards are accepted. Contact details: Telephone (02) 524-4958

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For those who are not that familiar with Korean cuisine, I hope these footnotes will be helpful:

1Yakiniku is the Japanese term for “grilled meat”. It is simply Japanese barbecue.

2Banchan refers to a group of Korean side dishes. It is served as a selection of appetizers or accompaniments to grilled dishes in this restaurant.

3Kimchi is Korean fermented vegetable, usually made of Napa cabbage.

4Kongnamul is a banchan2 which is made of lightly seasoned bean sprouts with sesame oil.

5Myeolchi-bokkeum is a banchan2 made of stir-fried dried anchovies.

6Beef Bulgogi is a Korean beef dish where thin slices of beef are marinated and traditionally grilled.

NOKIA: THE LEGEND GOES ON!

A cell phone nowadays is indispensible, even for us, Seniors! Admit it, for some of us, it is the first device opened when we wake up and the last one closed before bedtime.

As a blogger, my cell phone is very important. I need it to go online, compute conversion rates, take clear pictures and videos, communicate using Facetime/Viber, check the weather, use Waze and other apps, be notified of important reminders, dates, schedules, list my to do/buy things, etc.

Now, Seniors, for sure when I say NOKIA, you will smile and recall your cell phones in the 1990s with that oh-so-familiar ringtone!

Well, what if I told you that NOKIA is back in the Philippines, with a new generation of Android1 smartphones?

HMD Global Oy is the home of Nokia phones, the exclusive licensee of the Nokia brand of phones and tablets, with headquarters in Espoo, Finland. Visit www.hmdglobal.com

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Yes, Seniors, Nokia was media-launched last Friday, April 13, 2018, at the Axon Event Center, Green Sun Hotel, Makati City.

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I attended this special event and was happy to know that there are four models to choose from: the flagship Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 1 (both available on April 2018), Nokia 6 and Original NOKIA 8110 4G (available on May 2018).

91CTu1524233576Each new generation Nokia smartphone has regular software updates to keep one’s phone up-to-date, safe and secure, without UI (user interface) changes or hidden processes eating up battery life or slowing the device down. These phones also have fewer pre-installed and much lighter apps on Android Oreo2 so one can get twice (or more) available storage and battery-maximization for up to two days.

Here are the four new generation Nokia Android smartphones and their features which I like for my travels, food trips and personal use:

NOKIA 7 PLUS (black/copper and white/copper, single or dual SIM):

  1. Its Dual-Sight technology allows the user to take a BOTHIE, the ability for the front and back cameras to simultaneously take pictures. It has a 16 MP front-facing and 12 MP rear camera, with ZEISS3 optics and high-quality lowlight capability. It adapts to low light conditions by increasing light sensitivity which I like because it guarantees picture-perfect moments for my travels and food trips.
  2. It offers a New Pro Camera mode which gives manual control over camera settings and shows the impact of adjustments in real time.
  3. It has a high fidelity sound with Nokia spatial audio capture and playback technology – a great feature for my videos!
  4. It has the latest Android features like:
  5. Picture-in-Picture (PiP, where one program takes full screen with one or more programs displayed in inset windows) for multitasking;
  6. Android Instant apps, so one can discover and run apps with minimal friction; and,
  7. 60 new emojis, just right for Viber messages and PMs.
  8. It allows unlimited photo and video uploads to Google Photos. Now this is definitely appealing to me since I take a lot of videos and pictures, both for my blog and personal use.
  9. It has a large 3800 mAh non-removable battery and has the latest generation and powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon4 660 Mobile Platform and 4 GB RAM. This simply means that this phone has optimized power consumption and a 2-day battery life, definitely a delightful feature for my trips.
  10. It features a vivid 6-inch 18:9 full-HD+ display, a wonderful way to fully enjoy my browsing, games and entertainment moments.
  11. It has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
  12. It is reasonably-priced at PHP21,990. Pre-selling opened April 13, 2018 through Abenson.com, argomall, Lazada and MemoXpress. It is also available at 0% interest over 9-months installment terms through Home Credit, when applied online through argomall.com.

NOKIA 1 (dark blue or warm red, single or dual SIM):

  1. It is a 4G smartphone with the latest Android Oreo2 (Go edition), a version of Android optimized for devices with 1GB RAM or less, which enables the phone to run faster while consuming less data;
  2. It allows access to a new range of apps from Google like full access to the Google Play Store, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Go, Whatsapp, Google Go web search app, Google Maps Go, and Google Assistant for Android (Go edition) to quickly send messages, make calls, set alarms, etc., by simply using one’s voice;
  3. It has a familiar but refreshing design and features exchangeable Nokia Xpress-on covers (sold separately) with vibrant colors to suit one’s mood and color preference for the day.
  4. It is so reasonably priced at PHP4,290, definitely for every Juan!

The NOKIA 6 will be available in the country come May 2018, in silver or matte black/copper, blue/gold, white/iron, single or dual SIM, 32 or 64 GB.

Do you remember the movie “The Matrix” with Keanu Reeves as Neo in 1999? He used a Nokia banana phone. Well, what if I told you that this phone is back? Yes, dearest seniors, come May 2018, the Original NOKIA 8110 4G, in black or banana yellow, dual SIM, will be available in the country. It has a 2.4-inch curved screen with a curved protective cover to slide open to pick up calls and slide back to end them.

More details about any of these phones can be obtained from www.nokia.com for very techie and interested seniors/viewers.

Which Nokia phone did you have? I had several and gave them away but my husband kept one particular phone, the Nokia 8850. Look at it beside the new generation Nokia 7 Plus …

aoKWC1524235849

How about you? What Nokia phone did you have in the 1990s. dear seniors?

I am now considering the purchase a Nokia 7 Plus to bring along with me in my future travels and food trips. And how about a banana yellow Nokia 8110 4G as a second phone?

It is so convenient to order online from Lazada, the Official Store for Nokia mobile, or avail of the 0% interest-9-month installment term through Home Credit, through argomall.com.

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I would like to hear from you too. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”.

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1Android, Android One, Goggle and Google Photos are trademarks of Google LLC. Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Visit www.android.com

2Android Oreo is a version of Android1 operating system developed by Google. Visit www.android.com

3ZEISS and the Zeiss logo are registered trademarks of Carl Zeiss AG, used under license of Carl Zeiss Vision GmbH. It provides optics for HMD Global. Visit www.zeiss.de

4Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. Snapdragon is a suite of system on a chip (SoC) semiconductor products for mobile devices designed and marketed by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Visit www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon/devices/all

Mary Grace: Homemade Goodness

Location: Upper Ground Level Corte de Las Palmas, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila, Philippines

My husband and I had some errands in Metro Manila and a nephew had an early morning appointment at Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City, so we decided to accompany our niece for breakfast at Café Mary Grace, a homey café, while waiting for our nephew.

This branch in Alabang Town Center is open 8am-10 pm (Monday-Thursday) and 8am-11pm (Friday-Sunday). You can contact (02) 828-8476 or cell no. (0917)515-7524.

Historically, this café started with its first kiosk in 2002 which offered Mary Grace’s freshly baked ensaymadas1 and cheese rolls daily. I have tasted its cheese roll, and will taste its ensaymada, and other baked products, and make a post about it too.

Z-MG-3Ensaymada-Cheese Roll-Hot Chocolate selection, Café Mary Grace

You might be asking, dearest Seniors, who is MARY GRACE? Well, here is a brief biography. Mary Grace Dimacali, the founder and president of MARY GRACE FOODS, Inc., is a wife and mother of five children. She took AB Psychology, and graduated Cum Laude, from St. Scholastica’s College Manila in 1978. She loved baking and pursued a 12-month baking and bakeshop management course in the USA in 1991. She also finished Masters in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management in 2001.

Z-MG-5

Ensaymadas and cheese rolls were her signature products and offered them in her first bazaar in 1994. She opened her first Mary Grace kiosk in Glorietta 4 in 2002. The first Café Mary Grace was established in Serendra in 2006. Her immediate family is involved in the business. Go to the bottom of this post for the list of outlets, other than this branch.

Visit Café Mary Grace’s website: www.marygracecafe.com. For its menu, simply click “menu” or “download menu”. All food items are made in a commissary. For a complete list of outlets, locations, operating hours and contact numbers, click “shops”.

The café exudes a homey and cozy atmosphere. It is a comfortable place to have meals with family/friends, and to talk endlessly while savoring food and beverage orders. Books were displayed, and I noticed that these were covered with plastic (the way I used to cover my school books)and were not new. I am sure they were read and treasured. There were also thank you notes from previous customers. I think this restaurant is a relaxing place to dine alone, with a companion, or with one’s family.

Z-MG-2breakfast menu, Café Mary Grace 

The restroom is clean and has all the necessary supplies, a feature that I appreciate a lot when dining out.

We chose three kinds of homemade breakfast orders(which they claim to be marinated fresh daily and without preservatives): Fried Boneless Bangus2, Sirloin Beef Tapa3 and Vigan Longganisa4.

Z-MG-8Fried Boneless Bangus, Café Mary Grace

The customers are given a choice for the eggs included in the order: either scrambled eggs or sunny side-up (for a total price of 320 pesos, 398 pesos and 380 pesos, respectively), or omelette: smoked ham and cheese, or mushroom and cheese (for a total price of 387 pesos, 460 pesos and 458 pesos, respectively). Prices are inclusive of VAT5 and exclusive of service charge.

 

Z-MG-7                                              Sirloin Beef Tapa, Café Mary Grace                                                  (notice the guest’s note inserted under the glass)

The orders are served with either the Signature Rosemary Fried Rice or Garlic Fried Rice, along with coffee and 3 accompaniments(a dip of seasoned vinegar, and 2 kinds of relishes:tomato-wansuy6 salsa7 and homemade pickled mangoes).

Z-MG-9                                                Vigan Longganisa, Café Mary Grace                                                   (notice the guest’s note and stampitas inserted under the glass)

We all ordered sunny side-up eggs, Signature Rosemary Fried Rice and coffee. Next time, we will try the three other kinds of breakfast items: Brioche8 French Toast with grilled peaches, cashews and cream (305 pesos); Chicken Inasal9 (305/398 pesos), and Pork Tocino10 (305/398 pesos).

I studied the menu while waiting for our orders. It is quite an extensive menu. This café also offers:

  • Perfect Plates (a combination of pasta, salad and the dessert for the day; i.e., Chorizo Plate, Dory & Saffron Cream Plate, and Fresh Tomato and Herb Plate, with prices ranging from 420-440 pesos); they can be paired with an additional soup(Summer Squash or Wild Mushroom) (80 pesos);
  • Savory Starters (168-262 pesos) and Hearty Soups (170-190 pesos);
  • Fresh Salads with homemade dressings (205-390 pesos);
  • Sandwiches served with homemade potato chips and dip (248-305 pesos); they can be paired with an additional side salad or soup (70-80 pesos);
  • Flavorful (Cream-based, Oil-based, or Tomato-based) Pastas made with 100% extra virgin oil, real stock, and served with garlic bread and Edam cheese garnish (310-420 pesos);
  • Pizzas with fresh dough made daily, premium mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce (498-540 pesos); and,
  • Beverages: Homemade Iced Teas (using Mary Grace’s original recipe made from scratch using premium tea leaves and fresh fruit juices, sold by the glass for 95 pesos or by the pitcher for 285 pesos; Premium Coffee and Teas (95-185 pesos).

All orders were served at the right temperature. Service was reasonably fast, and the servers were courteous and even inquired if we enjoyed our orders or wanted additional items.

The enjoyment of our breakfast orders was enhanced by the dip and relishes. I personally savored my order because of the two relishes: the tomato-wansuysalsa7 and the homemade pickled mangoes. The eggs were cooked just right. Portions were generous for Seniors, but I think they would be just right for an average customer.

Z-MG-4Order Confirmation Slip given before payment to check accuracy of orders

 

Z-MG-6Official Receipt presentation after payment, Café Mary Grace

I paid for our orders and all the comments are based on my dining experience. I will definitely go back to try the baked products!

While some might consider this place a bit pricey, I personally feel that I got my money’s worth in terms of quality of food and service.

Café Mary Grace has many branches (cafés* or kiosks**), other than the branch I went to: SM Southmall* in Las Piñas, Makati (Cash and Carry**, Century City Mall*, Enterprise**, Enterprise Center*, Glorietta 4**, Greenbelt 2*, Makati Medical Center**, Power Plant Mall**, RCBC Plaza** and Steps Dance Studio*), Mandaluyong (Robinsons Galleria**, Shangri-La Plaza* and SM Megamall**), Manila (Robinsons Place Manila*, Lucky Chinatown Mall*, SM Manila* and SM San Lazaro*), Muntinlupa (Festival Supermall*), NAIA Terminal 3 (Level 4*), Parañaque (Okada** and SM BF Parañaque*), Pasay (MAAX Bldg Mall of Asia* and SM Mall of Asia North Wing**), Pasig (Estancia Mall*, Rockwell Business Center* and SM Hypermart**), Quezon City (Ayala Fairview Terraces*, Eastwood Mall*, Gateway Mall – Ground Level** and Upper Ground Level*), SM North EDSA*, SM Fairview* and Trinoma*), San Juan (Unimart*), and Taguig (Serendra*, SM Aura*, St. Luke’s Medical Center*, Uptown Mall* and Venetian Mall*). Wow! Definitely a lot to choose from wherever you are in the Metro!

Please note that the information in this article was around January 2018 and may differ from the latest information. Visit its website: www.marygracecafe.com.

Did you find this post informative? Did you dine in any of the outlets of Mary Grace? Would you like to share your dining experience? I would like to hear from you. Simple scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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For foreign readers, I hope these footnotes will help you understand the terms used:

1Ensaymada is a soft, fluffy pastry made with butter, topped with granulated sugar and upgraded with a generous topping of finely grated cheese (using even queso de bola11 during Christmas season), butter cream, and sugar. It is a popular Filipino snack, introduced by the Spaniards (associated with the Spanish town of Majorca).

2Bangus is the Filipino term for milkfish, the national fish of the Philippines. Dagupan City is known for producing quality bangus. It can be fried, smoked, fermented and further processed (bottled, canned or frozen). The boneless version is popular to save the trouble of removing (especially the small, finer) bones while eating.

3Tapa refers to the thinly sliced, tangy, sweet-salty, Filipino dried beef, which is cured using salt and spices. Chicken, fish, horse meat, mutton, pork, or venison may also be used. It is usually fried but can also be grilled, then served with garlic fried rice and fried eggs for breakfast.

4Vigan longganisa is a (2-inch) small, plump, spicy, tangy, Ilocano pork sausage delicacy made with lots of garlic and spices. It is not sweet and is typically made using sukang Iloko (a native Ilocano vinegar). It is then fried before serving and is best enjoyed with fried rice and fried egg for breakfast or with sliced salted eggs and tomatoes.

5VAT stands for value added tax, a type of sales tax which is levied on the sale of goods, services or properties. In the Philippines, twelve percent (12%) is added to the selling price of a local/imported product/service or sale/lease of properties.

6Wansuy is the Tagalog term for the herb called coriander, Chinese parsley or cilantro.

7Salsa is a spicy/piquant sauce made of chopped, usually uncooked, vegetables/fruits (e.g., chili peppers, onions, tomatoes), commonly served with Mexican food as a condiment.

8Brioche is light-textured, soft, slightly sweet, French yeast bread, typically formed into a small, round bun/roll, and made of butter, cream, eggs, flour, milk, water and yeast.

9Chicken Inasal is a Filipino variant of roast chicken marinated in a mixture of annatto, lime, pepper and vinegar, then grilled over hot coals while being basted with the marinade. It is enjoyed when served with rice, (sinamak12 or white) vinegar and soy sauce. It is a specialty of Bacolod, a highly urbanized city and the capital of the province of Negros Occidental in the Western Visayas Region (Region VI) of the Philippines. “Chicken Inasal,” accessed March 12, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_Inasal.

10Tocino is a Filipino-style cured meat, often sweet, and is usually made of pork, but chicken and beef can also be used. It is fried and served for breakfast along with fried rice, and even with fried egg. It is traditionally colored red using saltpeter.

11Quezo de bola is a popular, pale yellow cheese with a red rind/coating made of red paraffin wax, served during the Christmas season in the Philippines (perhaps due to its red rind) and is a traditional treat for Noche Buena (the traditional midnight feast with one’s family at home during Christmas Eve), similar to the Netherlands’ Edam cheese. It is usually served with cured ham and hot pan de sal (a traditional yeast-raised bread, rolled in fine bread crumbs, served during breakfast in the country).

12Sinamak is a kind of vinegar infused with lots of garlic, chili peppers and langkawas (a kind of ginger), according to the Wikipedia page “Chicken Inasal”.

Foreign Seniors Ask: DO I NEED A VISA TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES? HOW LONG CAN I EXTEND MY STAY AS A TOURIST?

I hope this blog catches the attention of foreign seniors/travelers who might be interested to visit my beloved country – the Philippines – and are wondering if they need a visa. Or, dearest Filipino Seniors, you might have new friends who are planning to visit you here in our country. Do they need a visa?

Well, ask no more! A foreign tourist1 (from the 154 countries, enumerated below) with a regular passport can visit the Philippines WITHOUT A VISA IF S/HE WILL STAY FOR 30 DAYS OR LESS, provided s/he has a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the period of stay in the Philippines, and a return ticket or a ticket to another destination outside the Philippines. These countries are:

  1. Andorra
  2. Angola
  3. Antigua and Barbuda
  4. Argentina
  5. Australia
  6. Austria
  7. Bahamas
  8. Bahrain
  9. Barbados
  10. Belgium
  11. Belize
  12. Benin
  13. Bhutan
  14. Bolivia
  15. Botswana
  16. Brunei
  17. Bulgaria
  18. Burkina Faso
  19. Burundi
  20. Cambodia
  21. Cameroon
  22. Canada
  23. Cape Verde
  24. Central African Republic
  25. Chad
  26. Chile
  27. Colombia
  28. Comoros
  29. Congo, Democratic Republic of
  30. Congo, Republic of the
  31. Costa Rica
  32. Cote d’Ivoire
  33. Croatia
  34. Cyprus
  35. Czech Republic
  36. Denmark
  37. Djibouti
  38. Dominica
  39. Dominican Republic
  40. Ecuador
  41. El Salvador
  42. Equatorial Guinea
  43. Eritrea
  44. Estonia
  45. Ethiopia
  46. Fiji
  47. Finland
  48. France
  49. Gabon
  50. Gambia
  51. Germany
  52. Ghana
  53. Greece
  54. Grenada
  55. Guatemala
  56. Guinea
  57. Guinea-Bissau
  58. Guyana
  59. Haiti
  60. Honduras
  61. Hungary
  62. Iceland
  63. Indonesia
  64. Ireland
  65. Italy
  66. Jamaica
  67. Japan
  68. Kazakhstan
  69. Kenya
  70. Kiribati
  71. Kuwait
  72. Kyrgyzstan
  73. Laos
  74. Latvia
  75. Lesotho
  76. Liberia
  77. Liechtenstein
  78. Lithuania
  79. Luxembourg
  80. Madagascar
  81. Malawi
  82. Malaysia
  83. Maldives
  84. Mali
  85. Malta
  86. Marshall Islands
  87. Mauritania
  88. Mauritius
  89. Mexico
  90. Micronesia
  91. Monaco
  92. Mongolia
  93. Morocco
  94. Mozambique
  95. Myanmar
  96. Namibia
  97. Nepal
  98. Netherlands
  99. New Zealand
  100. Nicaragua
  101. Niger
  102. Norway
  103. Oman
  104. Palau
  105. Panama
  106. Papua New Guinea
  107. Paraguay
  108. Peru
  109. Poland
  110. Qatar
  111. Romania
  112. Russia
  113. Rwanda
  114. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  115. Saint Lucia
  116. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  117. Samoa
  118. San Marino
  119. Sao Tome and Principe
  120. Saudi Arabia
  121. Senegal
  122. Seychelles
  123. Singapore
  124. Slovak Republic
  125. Slovenia
  126. Solomon Islands
  127. South Africa
  128. South Korea (Republic of Korea)
  129. Spain
  130. Suriname
  131. Swaziland
  132. Sweden
  133. Switzerland
  134. Tajikistan
  135. Tanzania
  136. Thailand
  137. Togo
  138. Trinidad and Tobago
  139. Tunisia
  140. Turkey
  141. Turkmenistan
  142. Tuvalu
  143. Uganda
  144. United Arab Emirates
  145. United Kingdom
  146. United States
  147. Uruguay
  148. Uzbekistan
  149. Vanuatu
  150. Vatican City
  151. Venezuela
  152. Vietnam
  153. Zambia
  154. Zimbabwe

Citizens of Taiwan may apply for an entry permit through the Electronic System for Travel Authorizationat the website of the Philippine Representative Office in Taiwan, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office: www.meco.org.tw.

Foreigners from Brazil and Israel are given 59 days to stay visa-free in the Philippines, and those from Hong Kong, Macau and Portugal (with passports issued to permanent residents of Macau only) are given 14 days.

Nationals of China traveling as tourists and holding a valid visa issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, United States or a Schengen Area3 state may enter and stay without a visa for up to 7 days.

Nationals of India holding a valid business, resident, or tourist visa issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, United States, or a Schengen Area3 state may enter and stay without a visa for up to 14 days.

Upon arrival, you will receive a free Visa Waiver, given at the immigration desk in airports and ports.

Visit www.immigration.gov.ph for more details.

THE EXTENSION OF THE PHILIPPINE VISA

Assuming that foreign tourists from the countries enumerated above enjoyed their stay in the Philippines and decided to extend their stay beyond 30 days, can they? The answer is YES!

If you want to stay longer than 30 days in the Philippines, you can obtain a Visa Extension from the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country, even before your trip. If you are already in the Philippines, you can obtain it from the Bureau of Immigration; just be sure to have it extended more than a week before the expiry date.

The extension of the Visa Waiver for another 29 days costs 3,130 pesos. This can then be extended every two months thereafter for up to 16 months in total. Consult the said website’s “Visa Extension” section.

The Philippine Bureau of Immigration is very strict, so visa violations and overstays often result in penalties, imprisonment, and deportation.

Please note that the information in this post is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information. Visit www.immigration.gov.ph and go to “Procedures for foreigners”.

For holders of diplomatic, official, or service passports, as well as an APEC Business Travel Card, you can stay longer (ranging from 59 days to 3 months). Visit the official website of the Bureau of Immigration: www.immigration.gov.ph

Did you find this post informative? Do you have other travel trivia/information that you would like me to feature? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” box on the lower right corner of your device. Thank you!

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1A tourist holds an ordinary/regular passport; s/he is not a holder of a diplomatic, official or service passport or even an APEC Business Travel Card. NOTE: Holders of diplomatic, official or service passports as well as an APEC Business Travel Card can stay longer (ranging from 59 days to 3 months); please visit the official website of the Bureau of Immigration: www.immigration.gov.ph

2The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel.

3The Schengen Area refers to an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and all other type of border control at their mutual borders: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This area acts as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. Do you want to know where the term Schengen came from? The Schengen Agreement was signed on June 14, 1985 near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, by 5 countries (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands and West Germany), effective March 26, 1995. The agreement proposed the gradual abolition of border checks at the signatories’ common borders and common visa policies. A Schengen Convention followed in 1990. All these are according to the Wikipedia page “Schengen Area”.4

4Schengen Area,” accessed December 15, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area.

Short and Simple: WHAT IS BLUE SPACE?

Dearest Wandering Seniors, have you heard of “blue space”?

Blue space is the term for visible water needed by people to improve their quality of life.1 Examples of blue spaces are beaches, canals, fountains, harbors, islands, islets, lakes, marinas, ponds, ports, rivers, streams, and waterfront parks.

Seeing a beach, appreciating the clarity of its water, witnessing a beautiful sunrise or sunset along the beach, gazing at the waves and the soothing motion and rhythm of water, hearing the waves hit the shore, feeling the cooling effect even by just wading on the beach, the feeling of walking near the shoreline and smelling the ocean, riding a boat along a body of water and feeling the water with your hand, among others, definitely have a positive, relaxing and soothing effect on people. The refreshing clean, cool air, as you breathe in and out, somehow gives you a re-energized feeling from the polluted air in the city.

Environmental health research as well as environmental psychological studies have revealed that living near, or spending time close to lakes, rivers and the sea, has a positive impact on mental health and promotes physical activity. It reduces stress and improves mental health and one’s well-being.

So, what are you waiting for, urban-based Senior Citizens? This Holy Week, or even just a weekend this summer, go find a “blue space” for your mental well-being! Who knows, I will see you around!

Did you find this post informative? Do you have other travel issues/concerns which you would like me to feature? What is your “blue space” escapde this summer? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” box on the lower right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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1www.simplicable.com

SIMPLY THAI: Simply Delightful!

Location: Level 1, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Mall Center, Legaspi Street, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

B-1-facadeI was back in Makati to do some errands, accompanied by a niece last Friday. It was lunchtime and she suggested we eat at Simply Thai in Greenbelt 5. It was chosen as one of Philippine Tatler’s Best Restaurants in 2016 and 2017. So off we went!

B-2-ceilingWhen seated, I looked up and appreciated their orange hanging lamps.

B3-dining rmThe simple, yet cozy, dining ambiance, along with the cheerful wait staff was a welcome treat for me.

This casual Thai restaurant basically offers classic Thai dishes. Menu cards and beverage lists were given to us. Simply Thai has an extensive menu (offering soups, appetizers, salads, main dishes – house specialties, curries, stir fries, vegetables, vegetarian dishes, rice and noodles, desserts) and drink list (branded water, canned sodas, juices, shakes and cocktails).

v9Nmq1521103434Soup and Appetizer Selection, Simply Thai

2-appetizer-saladAppetizer (continuation) and Salad Selection, Simply Thai

3-salads-house-specialtiesSalad (continuation) and House Specialty Selection, Simply Thai

4-house specialties-curries-stir-friesHouse Specialty, Thai Curry and Stir-Fry Selection, Simply Thai

5-stir-friesStir-Fry Selection (continuation), Simply Thai

6-stir-fried-vegs-rice-noodlesStir-Fried Vegetable and Rice-Noodle Selection, Simply Thai

7- rice-noodle-vegetarianRice-Noodle and Vegetarian Selection, Simply Thai

This restaurant is also VEGETARIAN-friendly since it offers a selection of vegetarian dishes: Tom Yum Tofu Soup and Tom Khaa Tofu Soup (P180 each), Pomelo Salad (P295), Green Mango Apple Salad (P270), Grilled Aubergine with Tofu Salad (P275), Green Papaya Salad (P280), Golden Tofu with Tamarind Sauce (P230), Mixed Vegetables in Yellow, Green or Red Curry Sauce (P275), Stir-Fried Bokchoi and Mushrooms (P275), Vegetable Medley in Garlic and Lemongrass Sauce (P275), Vegetarian Phad Thai (P310), Pineapple Fried Rice (P310), and Vegetable Fried Rice (P310).

8-dessertsDessert Selection, Simply Thai

B-4-barYes, Seniors and non-Seniors, Simply Thai has a bar for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages! However, we did not order any beverage since we wanted to concentrate on food orders. Anyway, for Seniors who want to indulge in an occasional Happy Hour once in a while, Simply Thai offers Bottomless Cocktails daily from 4:00-7:00 pm for only P299! Just drink in moderation, ok dearest reader?

Here are our orders, opting mostly bestsellers:

7LBfw1521103134TOM YUM KUNG, the hot and sour prawn soup (P185, good for 2 Seniors) – This soup was served hot. We, Seniors, requested it to be slightly spicy but we still found it too spicy for our taste so the waiter gave us coconut milk to temper the spiciness and we were satisfied.

A-3-chickenPANDANUS CHICKEN, coconut-marinated chicken fillets wrapped in pandan leaves (P385 for 5 pieces, good for 2-3 Seniors) – This chicken dish was tender and tasty.

A-2-porkCINNAMON PORK RIBS, barbecued honey-coated cinnamon ribs (P300, good for 2-3 Seniors) – This house specialty was very tasty and so tender that that meat falls off the bone. This is a flavorful dish and the consistency and amount of sweet-smokey sauce was just right for the very tender ribs.

A-6-vegetablePAT BUNG WITH CRISPY PORK, morning glory (swamp cabbage) with garlic and shrimp paste and crispy pork (P310, good for 2-3 Seniors). This dish was simply stir-fried kangkong with bagoong (what we Filipinos call morning glory and shrimp paste) and the thinly-sliced pork was delightfully a bit crispy.

9wMqu1521102801KHAO KLUK KAPI (Thai Bagoong Rice), fried rice in Thai shrimp paste, with sweet pork, shreds of scrambled egg, thin slices of fresh green mango, chillies and cucumbers (P365, good for 2-3 Seniors) – The fried rice was served separate from the other major ingredients and the waitress cheerfully mixed it for us but we requested her not to include the chillies (and just place them on one corner of the serving plate).

A-4-riceTHAI SALTED FISH FRIED RICE (P280, good for 3-4 Seniors) – This fried rice order was pleasantly appealing and seasoned just right.

A-7-dessertHOMEMADE DURIAN ICE CREAM (P185, good for 2 Seniors) – My husband loves Durian Ice Cream from Davao so I ordered this dessert and asked to share it with him. We personally feel that this dessert can be improved. The durian was pureed and so pure and does not have to be so dominant or strong but, instead, can be developed into a creamier ice cream with just the right amount of durian flavor to delight both durian lovers as well as newbies to the durian taste.

The manager and servers were cheerful, very efficient and rendered commendable service, with a keen eye on the needs of diners, like refilling glasses of water and bussing out empty dishes.

Simply Thai offers both indoor airconditioned dining as well as an outdoor dining area. The comfort room is communal yet decent and clean.

Food servings are ample and for Seniors, orders can easily be shared among 2-3 persons. For Seniors who are not fond of too spicy dishes, simply request the order taker to tell the chef to adjust the amount of spiciness.

Prices quoted were as of March 2018, VAT inclusive and subject to 10% service charge. I paid personally for my meal and all comments are personal. I find the prices reasonable since serving portions can be shared, especially among Seniors.

This restaurant opens 11 am (except Monday at 3pm) and closes (9:30 pm Monday, 11 pm – Tuesday till Thursday, 12 am – Friday till Saturday, and 10 pm Sunday).

Here are the contact details for Simply Thai Greenbelt 5: landline: (02) 7296860; telefax: (02) 7290860; mobile number: 09178380487. For now, their Facebook account is down but you can email: simplythairesto@yahoo.com or call the manager, Mr. Armani Zamonte II at 09560747696.

Of course, nothing beats authentic Thai cuisine in Thailand but overall, if you crave for Thai food in the Greenbelt area, you can try Simply Thai.

Did you find this post informative? Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. I would like to hear from you too. Simply scroll to the top right part of this post and click “Leave a Comment”. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your gadget.

Why not go to my others related posts?   JASMINE: IRRESISTIBLE CHINESE FOOD

and       TAO YUAN RESTAURANT: YUMMY CHINESE-SINGAPOREAN TREATS

ANILAG FESTIVAL 2018: Hali na! Tara na! Masaya sa Laguna! (Come on! Let’s go! It is happy in Laguna!)

Location: Laguna Provincial Capitol Compound, J. P. Rizal Street, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, Philippines

The Anilag Festival is a week-long celebration held yearly during the second week of March, in the Laguna Capitol grounds located in the town of Sta. Cruz. It started in 2004, changed to La Laguna in 2012, and renamed Anilag in 2016.1

For 2018, this festival is scheduled from March 10-17 and the theme is: “Sama-sama ang Pamilya sa Masayang Laguna” (Together as a Family for a Happy Laguna).2

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This festival is like a smorgasbord of daily activities which caters to all ages, gender and interests.

 

Z-4Carnival Rides, Anilag 2018 (February 24-March 17)

Carnival rides opened early, starting February 24 and will end on March 17 (Saturday, last day of ANILAG) for the kids and kids-at-heart.

Here is the calendar of events for ANILAG 20182:

Days 1-3Anilag 2018 – Schedule of Events: March 10-12

MARCH 10 (Saturday) is the first day of Anilag 2018. It started with a Heritage Fluvial Parade (4-7 am), followed by: a Thanksgiving Mass (7-8 am), Ecumenical Prayer & Formal Opening of ANILAG Festival 2018 (8-9 am), Opening of Trade Fair Exhibit & Competition (9-10 am), Lakbay Lawa Forum (10 am-12 noon), Street Dance Competition & Land Float Parade (3-10 pm), and Fireworks Display (12 am).

MARCH 11 (Sunday) is the second day of Anilag 2018. It started with the First ANILAG Color Run: “A Run for Mayon Evacuees” (5-7 am), “Mardi Gay” & LGBT Parade Queen (2-5 pm), and ANILAG Miss Laguna Gay Queen 2018 (8 pm-12 am).

MARCH 12 (Monday) is the third day of Anilag 2018. The morning show “Unang Hirit” covered the event (5-8 am), followed by: a Flag Raising Ceremony (8-9 am), Landscape Competition (10-11 am), Little Mister and Miss Laguna 2018 (3-5 pm), Enchanted Kingdom Magical Show (5-6 pm), and ended with BandANILAG: OPM Battle of the Bands (8-11 pm).

Days 4-6Anilag 2018 – Schedule of Events: March 13-15

MARCH 13 (Tuesday) is the fourth day of Anilag 2018. This day was full of activities: Drum and Lyre Competition (8-11 am), Ani-Laki and Fishery Contest (1-3 pm), Culinary Arts & Flairtending Competition (1-5 pm), Artisans Demo: Fruits, Vegetables & Ice Carving (2-5 pm), Pinakamagandang Lola ng Laguna 2018 (6-9 pm), and Dance Revolution: Inter-Collegiate Dance Battle (9-11 pm).

TODAY! MARCH 14 (Wednesday) is the fifth day of Anilag 2018. Three events are scheduled: a Job Fair (8 am-12 noon), Bird Show (8 am-5 pm), and Burdang Lumban, the Laguna Fashion Designers Competition and Wedding Cake Competition (8-10 pm).

TOMORROW! MARCH 15 (Thursday) is the fifth day of Anilag 2018. The following activities are scheduled: Palarong Pinoy Traditional Games (9 am-12 noon), 3D Street Art Compeititon and Water Color Competition for PWD (12 noon-2pm), ANILAG Singing Idol (4-6 pm), and Pre-Pageant: Ginoo at Binibining Laguna 2018 – Casual Wear (8-11 pm).

Days 7-8Anilag 2018 – Schedule of Events: March 16-17

DAY AFTER TOMORROW! MARCH 16 (Friday) is the sixth day of Anilag 2018. The following activities are scheduled: Corn Congress (8 am-5 pm), Tricycle/Motorcycle Show (8-11 am), Car Show Competition (8-11 am), and Coronation Night: Ginoo at Binibining Laguna 2018 (7-11 pm).

LAST DAY, GO WITH YOUR FAMILY THIS WEEKEND! MARCH 17 (Saturday) is the seventh and last day of Anilag 2018. The following activities are scheduled: Short Film: AdNILAG and Laguna Photo Contest (9 am-12 noon), Dog Show Compeititon (2-5 pm), Pyromusical Competition (7-8:30 pm), and People’s Night Extreme (8:30 pm).

Each town in Laguna was assigned a trade fair booth to decorate in order to showcase its local pride, products and tourists attractions.

Z-AlaminosALAMINOS BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of ALAMINOS highlights its religious patron saint, Nuestra Señora Del Pilar (or Our Lady of the Pillar, the name given to the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with Her apparition to Apostle James the Greater as he prayed by the banks of the Ebro at Caesaraugusta – Zaragoza, Spain, in AD 40).3

 

Z-BayBAY BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of BAY (pronounced “ba-eh”) replicates the facade of its church, St. Augustine Parish Church.

 

Z-BinanBIÑAN BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

 

Z-CalambaCALAMBA BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of CALAMBA CITY showcases its famous CALAMBANGA, a giant water clay pot which symbolizes part of the city’s name – “banga” with the names of all the 54 barangays inscripted on it.

 

Z-CaluaunCALAUAN BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of CALAUAN features a gigantic PINEAPPLE, its main product which is so sweet and juicy!

 

Z-CavintiCAVINTI BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of CAVINTI proudly shows its Guinness World Record for the LARGEST SAMBALILO HAT (13.05 meters, or 42 feet 9.7 inches, in diameter; 2 meters in height; 3 meters width of the central dome) as of August 1, 2016.

 

Z-FamyFAMY BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

 

Z-KalayaanKALAYAAN BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of KALAYAAN features its BUTTERFLY FARM for nature lovers.

 

Z-Los-BanosLOS BAÑOS BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The facade of the 2018 booth of Los Baños is a giant cake, honoring the town’s famous bake shop, Mernel’s Bakeshop.

Z-Los-Banos-2Various products, displayed and/or sold, inside the Los Baños booth

 

Z-LuisianaLUISIANA BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of LUISIANA features Pandanan, its San Isidro Festival, in honor of the patron saint of farmers, held every April 3.

 

Z-LumbanLUMBAN BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

Z-Lumban-2The 2018 booth of the town of LUMBAN, the “Embroidery Capital of the Philippines”, showcases various products.

 

Z-MabitacMABITAC BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

 

Z-NagcarlanNAGCARLAN BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

Z-Nagcarlan-2The 2018 booth of the town of NAGCARLAN offers various sweets and snacks for sale. The representatives of Nagcarlan are all very friendly and courteous. Next time, I will try their Bignay Wine and other delicacies.

 

Z-PaetePAETE BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

Z-Paete-2The 2018 booth of the town of PAETE showcases different wood carvings. Paper maché products are displays outside the booth.

 

Z-PakilPAKIL BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of PAKIL sends a message that one can still have fun with faith through their TURUMBA FESTIVAL, in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows held seven times from April till May of each year (the first held on the Friday before Palm Sunday and the last held on Pentecost Sunday), commemorating the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary, celebrated with the people of the town singing and dancing to praise Her.

 

Z-PangilPANGIL BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

 

Z-RizalRIZAL BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

 

Z-San PabloSAN PABLO BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

Z-San Pablo-2The facade of the 2018 booth of SAN PABLO CITY features the COCONUT and inside, I was so happy to know that it exports COCOPLUS, powdered, organic, centrifuge extracted skimmed coconut milk to Japan.

Z-San Pablo-3Inside, the SEVEN LAKES OF SAN PABLO, the famous seven crater lakes around the city, is promoted. I appreciated the hospitality of the city’s representatives, especially Maria Donnalyn E. Briñas (Assistant City Tourism Officer).

 

19-San PedroSAN PEDRO BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The facade of the 2018 booth of SAN PEDRO CITY is abloom with giant sampaguita flowers, reminding visitors of its SAMPAGUITA FESTIVAL, a week-long festival celebrated during the second week of February.

 

Z-SiniloanSINILOAN BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of SINILOAN features its GUILINGAN FESTIVAL, held annually in August, named after the old rice grindstone used to make their local delicacies (e.g., kalamay, puto).

 

Z-Sta CruzSTA. CRUZ BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The facade of the 2018 booth of the town of STA. CRUZ offers a replica of the PROVINCIAL CAPITOL building since it is the capital of the province of Laguna, as well as a giant KESONG PUTI between two carabaos as it celebrates the Kesong Puti Festival every April 4-11.

 

Z-Sta MariaSTA. MARIA BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The facade of the 2018 booth of STA. MARIA exudes the town’s bountiful agriculture which made me recall the town’s MARILAG FESTIVAL, celebrated as a thanksgiving for their harvest.

 

Z-Sta RosaSTA. ROSA BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of STA. ROSA CITY proudly features its industrial estates (like the car manufacturing plants) and its famous theme park, Enchanted Kingdom.

 

Z-VictoriaVICTORIA BOOTH, ANILAG 2018

The 2018 booth of the town of VICTORIA, the “DUCK RAISING CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES”, has eggs (their salted eggs are so good) and ducks (prepared like Kinulob na Itik) as accent pieces in the exhibit’s facade.

Z-Victoria-2I admire the ceiling treatment in the inner part of Victoria’s booth.

 

Z-VzBambooThe LAGUNA BAMBOO PRODUCERS AND MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (LBPMA) also has a booth to showcase their products.

 

Z-VzFood-Stall-1I briefly went around and walked through the different food stalls selling enticing snacks and meals but I didn’t give in to their temptation LOL

                            Z-VzFood-Stall-2The newly cooked giant stuffed squids caught my eyes                                 but I finally decided to skip them as well.

 

Z-Vz-PasalubongI only stayed for less than three hours and was able to purchase these as “Pasalubong” (souvenir treats for my family): Pianono, 2 kinds of Macapuno Balls, Dalandan Concentrate, Santol-Mango Bites, 3-Layered Brazo de Mercedes-Leche Flan-Ube, and Gatas Tisoy and 3Cows Choco-Milk Drinks

 

So, what are you waiting for? You still have until this Saturday, March 17, 2018, to go to this special Laguna festival, the ANILAG FESTIVAL! Hali na! Tara na! Masaya sa Laguna! (Come on! Let’s go! It is happy in Laguna!)

Did you find this post informative? Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. I would like to hear from you. too Simply scroll to the bottom of this post and click “Leave a reply”. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your gadget.

Visit a related post: THE ANILAG FESTIVAL

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1www.anilagfestival.ph

2Anilag Festival 2018 Facebook account

3“Alaminos,” accessed March 13, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaminos.