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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.

Z-11-Binondo

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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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;

8--Las Casas-kalesa-MarissaDG

  • 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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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to El Nido and your Tour C experience. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post. Thank you.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seniors, Now You Know: S.E.A. MOVEMENT – FIGHTING TO PRESERVE SIARGAO!

S.E.A. stands for Siargao Environmental Awareness Movement, a non-profit organization that is “a collaborative effort to help preserve the natural resources and beauty of the island which the local and the travelling community rely on for a simple, yet beautiful, life. It acts as a hub to connect networks of people with unique skills – surfers, artists, writers, journalists, IT experts, policy-makers – to contribute in solving the island’s environmental problems.”

The Movement wants to instill in everyone a sense of responsibility and ownership of the growing environmental problems, starting with young surfers.

BeFunky-collage-2               All photos were obtained from the Facebook account SEA Movement

A Brief History of S.E.A. Movement

The surfers behind the Siargao-born surf brand, Kudo Surf, started this movement as their “answer to the pressing issue in climate change, increasing tourism, and the need to educate local communities about the importance of ecological diversity. Protecting the environment is protecting their livelihood and their future.” Starting the brand allowed them to merge their passions – surf traveling, environmentalism and commerce – together.

“We are grateful to Mother Earth for giving us great waves and the raw materials to make our products. We just gotta do our business and live our lifestyle responsibly. We believe that businesses should be more eco-conscious and we do our part by contributing to the improvement of environmental issues in Siargao, where our headquarters is.”

Projects of S.E.A. Movement

1. Monthly Beach Clean-Up and Placard Posting – This project started on October 2015. Volunteers are asked to clean up the beach.This shows the locals how much garbage is thrown carelessly all over the island. The local municipal office helps in the monthly beach clean up by providing a garbage collection truck.

The Movement also makes placards set up in public areas where people can be reminded: “Ayaw Paglabog Ug Basura” (Don’t Litter), “Barura Dili Marajaw” (Garbage is Not Good), and “Plastic is Not Fantastic”.

2. Plastic Bottle Campaign – S.E.A. encourages Siargao business owners to provide water stations and re-usable water bottles to reduce, and eventually, eliminate the use of single-plastic bottles in the island.

3. Her Planet Earth for the Women of Siargao – This is an environmentally-conscious program which “aims to train and equip underprivileged women with the tools and skills to sell bags and other fashionable items made with recyclable materials gathered from the sea”.

“This project simultaneously provides the community with a livelihood opportunity and reduces plastic waste and pollution in the oceans, thus, empowering the community of warm and friendly people by creating awareness around gender equality and visibility of men and women’s contributions to society and teaching responsibility towards environmental preservation.”

This program is the collaborative effort of S.E.A. Movement, Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), the local government of General Luna, Siargao Masaya, and other partner agencies and NGOs.

4. Solid Waste Management Localized Videos – S.E.A. has created, and will create, videos aiming to help educate and teach people, especially children about Solid Waste Management (SWM) and how important it is to segregate wastes.

So, for the techie readers of this post, why not volunteer to create fun/animated and educational videos!

5. S.E.A. Movement Awareness Campaign – It would be awesome to help spread the word about this Movement and the campaigns they are working on. Calling on experienced marketing professionals or social media experts, your help or advice would be very welcome.

6. Other Projects
a. Read-Aloud – In 2016, a US-based NGO, Bagong Kulturang Pinoy, donated eco-awareness-specific children’s books so volunteers read aloud to groups of children in their classrooms, or at the beach, for the latter to learn about the environment, how to love reading, and how to have more meaningful relationships with buddy volunteers.

b. Segregation and Recycling Stations – A big project of the Movement so there will be a proper waste disposal system in the island, leading to zero-waste management.

c. SEA and Public Schools – General Luna public schools have opened their libraries to house the SEA Movement’s eco-books. They also initiated tree-planting and a clean-up drive with the students.

d. Short Film on Eco-Awareness – The Movement plans to make an entertaining and educational short film that will inform the local community of Siargao and its business and government sectors about the importance of eco-consciousness.

e. Fund Raising – The Movement is a non-profit organization so it needs to generate funds for their projects. Some activities are: SEA Movement Shirts and Canvass Shopping Bags to help spread the Movement’s agenda and reduce the usage of plastic bags; Let’s Get it OM! (Benefit Yoga), a by-donation yoga session led by volunteer yoga teachers; and Crowd Funding, i.e., the acceptance of donations of any kind from kindred souls.

I hope I did my small share by writing this post in my blog.

Let us all help to preserve the natural resources and beauty of Siargao Island!

The information was obtained from http://www.seamovement.ph and http://www.mylifeonboard.net.

Contact information: Facebook account: SEA Movement; Tel. No. 0945-837-9202; Instagram: @s.e.a.movement

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BUFFALO WILD WINGS: A SATISFYING WESTERN TREAT

Location: 4th floor, Uptown Mall, 36th Street corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Fort Bonifacio Global, Taguig City, Philippines

Admit it, dearest Seniors, there are times when you crave for guilt-free dining. And, one way is to succumb to a Western treat when you are in BGC! So, off we trooped to BUFFALO WILD WINGS (BWW) at Uptown Mall1.1-bw

It is open from 11 am till 11 pm and offers wi-fi as well as outdoor seating.

We came early for lunch so we were one of the first diners for that day.

But first, here is a very brief background of the restaurant. Buffalo Wild Wings is an American casual dining restaurant and sports bar franchise in the USA, Canada, India, Mexico, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Founded in Ohio in 1982 by Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery, it specializes in buffalo wings2 and sauces, and is also well known for chicken tenders3and legs. It was called “Buffalo Wild Wings &Weck” (BW3) till 1998, since it also served “Beef on Weck”4.

Entering through the main glass doorway, you will immediately step into a spacious and modern sports dining area that is well lit with adequate indoor lighting, plus natural light through the outer glass walls. Brown, yellow and off-white colors exude a relaxing ambiance. The outer glass walls and the inner brick walls are dotted with wide/flat-television screens showing various sporting events. Sports memorabilia/murals and framed pictures are also showcased on the walls. The mood is definitely casual yet cozy.2-bw

The pub-style bar is a just few steps away from the entrance and you will be greeted and escorted to a table, depending on the number of people in your group.3-bw

The staff’s uniform is a jersey-like t-shirt and pants. The number 82 is printed on the sleeves, signifying the year when the chain was established.5-bw

There is a place for kids to play video games. Now, this feature, dearest seniors, would be helpful if we, adults, have not had enough of our conversations, and the kids are restless and bored. It will definitely allow us more mileage to continue our stories and exchanges.

Once seated, we were given menu cards and so, we focused on the available options, eager to satisfy our hungry tummies. Going over the menu, I could picture family and friends enjoying and sharing buffalo wings, along with different US beef and pork dishes, or the younger generation getting together with friends after a hard day at work, to relax and unwind watching their favorite sports on television screens, and all of that while enjoying a glass of cold draught beer!

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The restaurant offers a variety of tempting platters, all served with a platter of dirty rice (PHP1,495): Most Valuable Platter (traditional wings with your choice of sauce or dry rub5, honey barbecue ribs, and grilled pork belly); All Star Platter (traditional wings with your choice of sauce or dry rub, honey barbecue ribs, and teriyaki pork belly); and, Three Point Platter (traditional wings with your choice of sauce or dry rub, honey barbecue ribs, and fried pork chop).

You can also order: Crispy Pork Hock (slow-cooked and deep-fried crispy pig’s trotter, paired with balsamic vinegar dip, PHP795); The Big Ribs (oven roasted fall-off-the-bone honey barbecue half or full ribs, served with fries, PHP695, PHP1295); Double-Thick Herbed Chop (grilled herb chop served with brown pepper sauce and dirty rice, PHP495 for 400 grams); 3/5/9- piece Crispy Fried Chicken (PHP345, 560, 995); or, 3/5/9-piece Classic Roasted Chicken (PHP 465, 695, 1195).

Three burgers are available to choose from: Mozzarella Burger (topped with pepperoni slices, mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, drizzled with parmesan garlic sauce and parmesan cheese flakes, PHP595); Smokehouse Burger (grilled juicy burger topped with a slice each of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, drizzled with honey barbecue and smoked aiolisauce, PHP545); and, Buffalo Bleu Burger (with dill pickle chips, bleu cheese dressing, and blue cheese crumbles, drizzled with the signature medium sauce, PHP545).

A wide selection of beverages is offered: soft drinks (PHP105), Red Bull Energy Drink (PHP130), lemonades (PHP145), limeades (PHP155), fresh fruit juices (PHP130), domestic, imported and draft beers (PHP105-395), coffee and tea (PHP95), and drinks of the season (PHP155-275).

We ordered only two food items: Baby Back Ribs, and a large order of Buffalo Wings with an extra order of Blue Cheese Dip, plus beer, and soft drinks. It is a bit pricey, I must say, so dearest Seniors, do not forget your Senior Citizen cards! Portions of orders are good for sharing though.

The Baby Back Ribs were delicious. The meat was very tender and flavorful. The accompanying fries and slaw were prepared and seasoned just rightand complemented the ribs well.

The large order of Buffalo Wings was crisp, tasty and juicy. An extra order of the Blue Cheese Dip was needed to complete our enjoyment of the Buffalo Wings.

The beverages were served cold.

Overall, the taste of the food was good.

Service was fast. The staff was good at offering menu suggestions and was also great when dealing with kids.

The rest room is clean and well-maintained.

Reservations are recommended. Contact information: (02) 801-5993; 09157946102

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant. If I come back, I will try their nachos, burgers, chicken salad, spinach artichoke dip, and mango shake.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Uptown Mall, formerly Uptown Place Mall, is a shopping mall at the 36th Street of Uptown Bonifacio complex in the northern part of Bonifacio Global City, in Taguig City, Metro Manila. It is owned and managed by Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, a subsidiary of Megaworld Corporation, according to the Wikipedia page “Uptown Mall”.7

2A Buffalo wing is an unbreaded chicken wing drumette8 or flat9, generally deep-fried, then coated and/or dipped in a mild, medium hot, or hot sauce made of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper, hot sauce and melted butter/margarine prior to serving. It is a popular American dish generally served hot, along with celery stalks and/or carrot sticks, with blue cheese dressing for dipping. All information were from the Wikipedia page “Buffalo wing”.10

3Chicken tenders is a common American chicken snack made of deep-fried breaded chicken meat prepared from the pectoralis minor muscles11 of the said fowl. It is also called chicken fillets, chicken fingers, chicken goujons, chicken strips, or tendies. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Chicken fingers”.12

4Beef on Weck is a sandwich made with roast beef on a soft kummelweck roll13. It is found primarily in Western New York State in the USA, particularly in the city of Buffalo. The meat on the sandwich is traditionally served rare, thin cut, with the top bun getting a dip au jus and spread with horseradish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Beef on weck”.14

5A dry rub is a mixture of dried spices and herbs, usually with salt and sugar, rubbed directly into raw meat prior to cooking. It does not have any wet ingredient. It creates a crust on the meat and enhances its flavor without adding moisture.15

6Aioli is a Mediterranean sauce basically made of garlic and olive oil.

7“Uptown Mall,”accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uptown_Mall.

8A drumette is the top section of a chicken wing which is meatier than the two lower parts, called the wingette or flat9, and wing tip or flapper, respectively, according to the Wikipedia page “Poultry”.16

9A flat or wingette is the second or middle section of a chicken wing, according to the Wikipedia page “Poultry”.16

10“Buffalo wing,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_wing.

11The pectoralis minor muscles of the chicken is a thin, triangular muscle, located on either side of the breastbone, under the breast meat. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Chicken fingers”.12

12“Chicken fingers,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_fingers.

13A kummelweck roll is a large, crusty, glazed roll made in Buffalo, New York, USA, made from white wheat flour. “Kummel” means “caraway” in German, and “weck” means “bread roll”.17

14“Beef on Weck,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_on_Weck.

15www.primermagazine.com

16“Poultry,” accessed September 7, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poultry.

17www.cooksinfo.com

PLEASING THE PALATE AT PEOPLE’S PALACE

Location: G/F, Garden Side, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Centre, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

People’s Palace is a delightful modern Thai-Asian restaurant located in Greenbelt 3. It showcases a casual, spacious yet cozy dining experience, even for groups. Dishes are MSG free, and some vegetarian-friendly dishes are also offered. It is owned and operated by Riselaw Restaurant, Inc., the same company behind Sala Bistro and Sala Restaurant.

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As a brief background, Scottish restaurateur Colin Mackay arrived in the Philippines from Hong Kong in 1996, and joined business partners Chico Angeles and Kerwin Go to open People’s Palace in Greenbelt 3 in 2005.*

Now, I know what is in the minds of my readers who are not familiar with Greenbelt and its parking. Well, worry no more because Greenbelt Mall offers extensive basement pay parking with entrances on Makati Avenue and Esperanza Drive. You can also avail of valet parking operated by the mall along Esperanza Drive fronting Greenbelt 2. There are 2 drop off points for clients with chauffeurs: one along Makati Avenue (between Greenbelt 3 and 4) and one along Esperanza Drive (fronting New World Makati Hotel).*

People’s Palace is open daily with hours of operation as follows: Monday to Friday (11AM – 2:30PM) for lunch; Monday to Thursday (6PM-11PM) and Friday (6PM -12 midnight) for dinner; and, all day on Saturday (11AM – 12 midnight) and Sunday (11AM– 11PM).

The simple, yet elegant and modern dining area has a high ceiling with just the right amount of lighting for a comfortable ambiance at night. It offers seating for 88 guests, with additional casual dining at the long white glass bar.*

The glass walls along the walkway of the Garden Side make this restaurant seem even more spacious than it is.

The al fresco garden dining area, fronting the restaurant, can accommodate 50 guests. The lounge area offers huge leatherette “day beds” where up to 50 guests can order cocktails or dine casually at low bench tables.*

Food orders may seem pricey, but the portions are good for sharing. (So dearest Seniors, keep this in mind when ordering.) Table booking is recommended because this restaurant gets packed during lunch and dinner.

And now for our dining experience.

(insert pic – PP-2)

We called ahead of time to reserve a table. We were warmly greeted when we entered the restaurant.10-reception-okHospitable People’s Palace staff – Cashier Kaye Valerio and Assistant Restaurant Manager Gerald Tan

After confirmation of our reservation, we were immediately shown to our table, with the server forewarning us of the higher level of our table location, so we would have safe footing. I appreciated that because I have the tendency to walk fast and presume that the level of the flooring is always even!

The server briefly left when we were all seated, but quickly returned with a tall stool for our bags. Again, a gesture I appreciated, instead of us asking for it.

Rectangular menu/beverage cards were handed to us. I noticed that the format was friendly to first-time guests since the former indicated “must try” dishes and spicy dishes (although you can request to lighten the spice level, if desired), while some special/unfamiliar beverages indicated tastes/major ingredients. Take note that quoted prices do not include the 10% service charge.

I also liked the idea of separate cards since I did not have to flip through different pages. There are separate cards for:

Hot Soups and Appetizers, Cool Salads (front of card) –4-soups-salads-ok

Curries, Stir Fries, Rice and Noodles (back of card) –5-curries-ok

Sweets and Hot Beverages –6-sweets-ok

Refreshing Juices, Smoothies and Shakes –7-juices-ok

Softies (soft drinks and mineral waters); Local and World Beers; and Spirits/After Dinner Liqueurs and Mixers –8-softies-ok

The members of my group, as usual, were very hungry after shopping/working-out so we went over the menu card and selected five items: Thom Yum Thalay; Prawn, Pomelo, Chicken and Coconut Salad; Prawn Spring Roll with Sweet Chili Sauce; Chicken Pandan; and, Crispy Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream. We did not order any beverage that day.

The Thom Yum Thalay (PHP460) is Hot and Sour Seafood Soup. It was served hot, with just the right amount of sourness. The assorted seafood was fresh, and cooked just right.

The savory and creamy Prawn, Pomelo, Chicken and Coconut Salad (PHP480) was so refreshing and delicious. The presentation was colorful and so appealing with the generous large chunks of sweet and juicy pomelo, succulent prawns, onions, cilantro, and crunchy nuts. The coconut cream and the chili-fish sauce accompaniments, when added to the salad with its vinaigrette dressing, complemented the combined textures and flavors of the ingredients. Guess what? We asked for another order!11-salad0ok

The Prawn Spring Roll with Sweet Chili Sauce (PHP390) was very tasty so we had to ask for another order too.3-lumpia-ok

The Chicken Pandan (PHP420) was a safe order for kids and kids at heart. The chicken was juicy and tasty. By the way, we requested the wrapping to be removed.12-chicken-ok

The Crispy Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream (PHP290) was a refreshing dessert, with just the right amount of sweetness.2-dessert-ok

The best feature I experienced in this restaurant was the fast and efficient service of the staff, something I seldom get from other restaurants. My group had dinner, and, even though the dining area was packed, the orders were speedily paced and served. Requests like extra dips/condiments were promptly brought, and reheating of the soup for a late diner was quickly done. Water glasses were replenished even without our asking, and several courtesy checks were made to ensure our dining experience would be satisfying. Yes, dearest Seniors, you will be very satisfied with the service in this restaurant!

Requesting the bill and waiting for the change as well as the return of our senior citizen cards were likewise swiftly executed.

So, kudos to the management for instilling the value of quality in food/beverages and service for a very satisfying dining experience. Hats off also to Scottish chef, Colin Mackay, for the very brief waiting time and well-paced serving of orders even with an almost full house.

A minor comment though: personally, I found the round table good for six persons a bit small for comfortable elbow room and for our five orders.

But, overall, we left this restaurant very satisfied and will definitely come back.

On my next visit, I will try their other popular offerings like: Crispy Catfish with Green Mango Salad, Crispy Lapu-Lapu,Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Mango Relish, Mussaman Curry of Lamb, Pad Thai, Stir-Fried Prawns, Thom Kha Gai, Thom Yum Goong, Tod Man Pla, Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Seed Ice Cream, Mango and Passionfruit Pavlova, Panna Cotta with Cardamom and Spice Apricots, and Thai Iced Tea. Definitely, so many reasons to return!

For reservations, call (02) 729-2888, to be sure you will have a table waiting for you during peak hours.

People’s Palace is also available for hire as an exclusive venue for private events (50 or more guests) any day of the week, along with a tailored package based on your specific requirements*:

  1. Private lunch events in the dining room can accommodate 90 guests for a sit-down lunch from 11AM to 3PM, and 200 guests for a cocktail party with passed canapés, for a minimum of PHP150K (Monday to Friday), PHP200K (Saturday), or PHP225K (Sunday);
  2. Private dinner events in the dining room can accommodate 90 guests for a sit-down dinner from 6PM to 12 midnight, and 200 guests for a cocktail party with passed canapés, for a minimum of PHP300K;
  3. Private garden events at the partially-covered garden area can accommodate 50 guests for a sit-down dinner or 100 guests for a cocktail party with passed canapés, from 6PM to 12 midnight, for a minimum of PHP120K; and,
  4. Private lounge events can be held in the lounge dining area, which can accommodate up to 50 guests for private cocktail events, with optional occasional seating on the ottomans and sofas, from 6:30PM to 12 midnight, for a minimum of PHP60K.

By the way, credit cards are also accepted so even if you are short of cash, you can still dine and unwind in this restaurant.

You may also contact the restaurant by Email at reservations@peoplespalacethai.com, or  by visiting its website at www.peoplespalacethai.com

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? Have you dined in this restaurant? Tell me about it! 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.

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*www.peoplespalacethai.com

GINZADON: JAPANESE AND KOREAN CUISINE TOGETHER

Location: 2/F, Maxims Hotel, Newport Boulevard, Newport City, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines

The name of this fine dining Japanese-Korean restaurant, GINZADON, is a combination of two words: “Ginza”, the upscale Tokyo district, and “don”, the Korean term for money. Together, these terms assure the customers that they get the best of authentic Japanese and Korean dishes, served together for a “thrilling interplay of textures and tastes.”1

0-intro

This authentic Japanese-Korean restaurant is open from 11 am till 12 midnight, daily. It has a casual, yet comfortable, dining facilities.

It offers a wide range of dishes2:

  • SASHIMI3 (PHP200-1,100): Ama Ebi (Sweet Shrimp), Hamachi (Yellow Tail), Hokkigai (Surf Clam), Hotate (Scallops), Ikura (Salmon Roe), Ise Ebi (Live Lobster – PHP1,250/100g), Kanibo (Crab), Madai (Snapper), Madai Ozukuri (Thinly Sliced Snapper), Madako (Octopus), Maguro Tataki (Seared Tuna), Shake (Salmon), Shake Tataki (Seared Salmon), Shime Saba (Marinated Mackerel), and Tamago (Baked Egg).
  • Sushi4 (PHP100-440): Ama Ebi (Sweet Shrimp), Ebi (Shrimp), Hamachi (Yellow Tail), Hokkigai (Surf Clam), Hotate (Scallops), Ikura (Salmon Roe), Kanibo (Crab), Madako (Boiled Octopus), Madai (Snapper), Maguro (Tuna), Shake (Salmon), Shime Saba (Marinated Mackerel), Tamago (Thin Egg Omelet), Unagi (Eel), and Uni (Sea Urchin).
  • PLATTER (PHP900-2,160) – Sashimi and Sushi Moriawase (Sashimi3 and Sushi4 Platter), Sashimi Moriawase Matsu (Special Assorted Sashimi), and Sashimi Moriawase Take (Regular Assorted Sashimi)
  • URA MAKI5 (PHP370-1,500) – California Ura Maki (Inside-out Roll with Mango, Cucumber, and Crab Meat), Canadian Maki (Inside-out Roll with Mango, Crab Meat, Salmon, and Crispy Salmon Skin), Crazy Maki (Crunchy Maki Topped with Crabstick Salad), Dragon Roll Maki (Mango, Cucumber, and Crab Meat, Wrapped in Grilled Salmon Skin), Ebi Avocado Maki (Prawn and Avocado Roll), Futo Maki (Big Sushi Roll), Kani Maki (Soft Shell Crab Roll), Maguro Aburi Maki (Seared Tuna Roll), Maguro Ura Maki (California Roll with Tuna), Rainbow Maki (Avocado, Mango, Salmon, Tuna and Snapper Rolls), Shake Aburi Maki (Seared Salmon Roll), and Yulonagi Maki (California Roll with Eel Teriyaki)
  • SOUPS (PHP95-2,540) – Chawan Mushi (Steam Egg Custard), Hamachi Misoshiru (Yellow Tail Head Miso), Kani Misoshiru (Crab Miso, PHP398/100 g), Misoshiru (Plain Miso), Sakana Osuimono (Fish Clear Soup), Shake Misoshiru (Salmon Head Miso), and Yose Nabe (Seafood and Vegetable in Broth)
  • SALADS (PHP620-1,000) – Kanibo Salad (Crab Sticks, Cucumber, Tobiko6 and Japanese Mayonnaise), Poke Salad (Sliced Tuna and Green Ice Salad), Seared Tuna Salad (Lollo Rosso Leaves Topped with Seared Tuna), Shake Poke Salad (Sliced Salmon & Green Ice Salad), and Spicy Tuan Salad (Lollo Rosso Leaves Topped with Spicy Tuna in Special Sauce)
  • TEMPURA7 (PHP310-860) – Chicken Katsu (Deep-fried Breaded Chicken), Ebi Tempura (Shrimp), Ika Ring Karage (Fried Squid Rings), Kisu (Japanese Whiting Fish), Mixed Furai (Deep-fried Breaded Meat and Seafoods), Tempura Moriawase (Assorted Tempura), Tori No Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken), and Yasai Kakiage (Deep Fried Vegetable Strips)
  • YAKIMONO8 (PHP280-2,490) – Aspara Bacon (Bacon Wrapped Asparagus), Butayaki (Pork Barbecue), Ebi No Shioyaki (Prawn with Salt), Gindara Teriyaki (Black Cod in Special Sauce), Hamachi Okashira Shioyaki (Grilled Yellow Tail Head), Kani Bacon Maki (Crab Sticks and Bacon Maki), Shake Harasu Yaki (Salmon Belly), Shake Okashira Shioyaki (Grilled Salmon Head), Unagi No Kabayaki (Thin Snapper), Uzura Bacon (Bacon Wrapped Quail Egg), and Yakitori (Chicken Barbecue)
  • TEPPANYAKI9 (PHP240-4,750) – Asparagus in Butter, Bean Sprouts, Chicken Teppanyaki in Teriyaki Sauce, Fillet of Salmon (Salmon Steak), Fillet of Yellow Fin Tuna (Tuna Steak with Pepper, Onion and Mange Tout), Green Capsicum, Local Lobster Teppanyaki (PHP1,288/100 g), Seafood Teppanyaki (Mixed Seafood Cooked with Sake in Special Japanese Sauce), U.S. Wagyu Beef Ribeye, U.S. Wagyu Striploin (Snake River Farms, Meat Marbling Standards A4, and Yasal Itame (Stir-fried Vegetables), and Yakimeshi (Japanese Fried Rice)
  • VEGETABLE DISHES (PHP205-620) – Agedashi Tofu (Deep-fried Tofu with Special Sauce), Gyoza (Japanese Dumplings), Gyutama Okonomiyaki (Pancakes with Beef and Eggs), Mabu Tofu (Braised Beancurd in Sweet Chili Sauce), Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cake with Vegetable and Seafood), Tofu Steak (Beancurd Steak)
  • RAMEN10 (PHP440-570) – Chasu Rane (Ramen Noodles with Pork Barbecue in Special Japanese Soup), Miso Ramen (Ramen Noodles with Japanese Miso Soup), and Shouyu Ramen (Ramen Noodles with Japanese Soya Sauce)
  • SOBA11/UDON12 (PHP360-830) – Hiyashi Chuka (Summer-Style Cold Noodles), Hiyashi Somen (Cold Thin Noodles), Tempura Soba (Japanese Thin Noodles Topped with Tempura in Special Soup), Tempura Udon (Japanese Thick Noodles Topped with Tempura in Special Soup), Tenzaru Soba (Cold Buckwheat Noodles with Tempura), Yaki Soba (Stir-fried Japanese Thin Noodles with Pork, Seafood, and Vegetables), and Yaki Udon (Stir-fried Thick Japanese Noodles with Pork, Seafood, and Vegetables)
  • RICE (PHP95-240) – Gohan (Steamed Japanese Rice), Kimchi Bokkeumbap (Kimchi Fried Rice), and Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Hand Molded Rice)
  • RICE TOPPINGS served with Miso13 Soup (PHP550-1,570) – Ebi Katsu Don (Deep-fried Braised Prawn on Steamed Japanese Rice), Gyudon (Black Angus Beef Topped on Steamed Japanese Rice), Katsudon (Japanese Pork Cutlet Topped on Steamed Japanese Rice), Tendon (Ebi Tempura Topped on Steamed Japanese Rice), Tori Don (Grilled Chicken Topped on Steamed Japanese Rice), Unagi Don (Grilled Eel Teriyaki Topped on Steamed Japanese Rice), and Yakiniku Don (Stir-fried U.S. Beef Striploin Topped in Japanese Steamed Rice)
  • KOREAN BARBECUE (PHP800-1,320) – Kalbi Sal (Black Angus Beef Short Rib), Kkeot Ssam Gysop Sal (Grilled Pork Belly), L.A. Kalbi Gui (Barbecue Beef Spare Ribs), and Yang Nyeum Tweji Kalbi (Grilled Pork Belly)
  • PORRIDGE (PHP160-570) – Hobakjuk (Pumpkin Porridge), Jun Bok Juk (Rice Porridge with Abalone), and Patjuk (Seared Salmon Sashimi)
  • CLASSICS, served with rice (PHP330-1250): Bibimbap (Steamed Rice Topped with Beef and Vegetables), Bul Go Gi (Stir-fried US Beef with Vegetables), Dak-Dori-Tang (Spicy Chicken Casserole), Ddeok Mandu Guk (Rice Cake and Korean Dumplings in Ox Bone Soup), Doen Jang JjiGae (Soy Bean Paste Stew), Gal Bi Jim (Braised Prime Beef Short Ribs), Haemul Kalguksu Bukkeum (Stir-fried Kalguksu14 Noodles with Seafood and Vegetables), Haemul Pajeon (Seafood and Spring Onion Pancakes), Hobak Jeon (Pan-fried Stuffed Zucchini), Hweh Dup-bop (Raw Fish Topped on Japanese Steamed Rice), Japchae (Sauteed Sweet Potato Noodles with Vegetables and Beef Strips), Kimbap (Korean Style Roll), Kim Chi JjiGae (Kimchi Stew), Mandu (Korean Dumplings), Nak Ji Bok Keum (Stir-fried Baby Octopus with Fine Noodles), O-Jing-uh Bukkeum (Spicy Stir-fried Squid), Sengseon Jurim (Spicy Braised Fish), Seol Leong Tang (Ox Bone Soup with Fine Noodles and Sliced Beef), Shin Ramen (Korean Instant Noodles), Sundubu (Spicy Korean Stew), Ugeoji Galbitang (Beef and Cabbage Stew), and Yuk Gae Jang (Spicy Beef Soup)
  • DESSERTS (PHP140-235) – Anmitsu (Assorted Fruits with Jelly in Sweet Red Bean Paste, Mochi and Ice Cream, Back Sesame Ice Cream, Deep-fried Matcha15 Ice Cream (Green Tea Ice Cream Coated in Crunchy Deep Fried Bread), Kanten Yose (Mixed Fruits Gelatin), Kohe Kanten (Coffee Jelly), Kwail (Assorted Fruits), Nuk Cha (Green Tea Ice Cream), and Shiratama Zenzai (Sweet Red Beans with Rice Balls)
  • BEVERAGES, alcoholic and non-alcoholic (PHP150-270) –Fresh Juices and Smoothies, Lemon Iced Tea, Sodas, Bourbon, Brandy, Local and Imported Beers, Rum, Sake16, Scotch Whiskey, Soju17, Gin, Tequila, Vodka
  • COFFEE AND HOT CHOCOLATE (PHP120-160)

It also offers special monthly and seasonal treats.

0-menu

When we dined in Ginzadon, they offered an Eat All You Can Menu for only PHP888 net per person, consisting of the following, inclusive of 3 pieces of Salmon Sushi and 3 pieces Ebi Tempura:

  • SUSHI4 AND URU MAKI5 – California Maki (California Roll), Futo Maki (Big Sushi Roll), Kanibo Salad (Crabstick, Cucumber, Tobiko6 and Japanese Mayonnaise), Madai (Snapper), Maguro (Tuna), Shake Maki (Salmon Sushi Roll), Tamago (Japanese Omelette), and Tekka Maki (Tuna Sushi Roll)

0-sushi

  • SOBA/UDON/RAMEN – Chashu Ramen (ramen noodles with pork barbeque in special Japanese soup) and Yaki Soba/Udon (Stir-fried Japanese noodles with pork, seafood and vegetables)
  • YAKIMONO – Butayaki (Pork Barbecue), Kani Bacon (Crabstick Rolled in Bacon Strips), Shake Okashira (Salmon Head, subject to availability), Tori Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken), and Yakitori (Chicken Barbeque)

0-yakitori

  • KOREAN SPECIALS –Doen Jang Jigae (Soy Bean Stew), Gohan (Steamed Japanese Rice), Japchae (Sauteed Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef), Kimchi Jigae (Kimchi Stew), Misoshiru (Miso Soup), and Yakimeshi (Japanese Fried Rice)

0-soup-rice

  • DESSERTS – KoheKanten (Coffee Jelly) and Nukcha (Green Tea Ice Cream)

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A customer can pay cash, through credit card, or points18. Prices are VAT inclusive and are subject to 10% service charge.

If you want to dine in this restaurant but find it a bit pricey, why not book online to avail of promotions. I surfed (but have not tried) and found www.eatigo.com which offers 10-50% discount, depending on the time slot. You just need to present your Eatigo booking confirmation to the reception staff before being seated.

Now let me describe our dining experience. We availed of the Eat All You Can Menu I mentioned above.

0-appetizers-x                                                         We were given appetizers.

Overall, the taste of the food was good but not much to rave about.

My group included a 6-year old kid and we chose dishes he liked and he was satisfied with what we asked him to try and eat.

The dining staff were accommodating. Service was paced, but a bit slow.

The comfort room was clean and well maintained.

For reservations, call (02) 9088888.

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1www.rwmanila.com

2https://www.rwmanila.com/web/ginzadon/; prices and menu items are subject to change without prior notice; prices are VAT inclusive and are subject to 10% service charge

3Sashimi is a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced, fresh, raw fish or meat, often served as the first course in a formal Japanese meal but may also be served as the main course. It is garnished with long thin strands of daikon (white radish) or single leaves of the shiso herb (perilla). It is served with soy sauce as a dipping sauce, along with condiments – wasabi paste (the hot Japanese green paste made from the wasabi rhizome), grated fresh ginger, and ponzu (Japanese dipping sauce made of fish flakes, lime juice, soy sauce and vinegar). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sashimi”.19

4Sushi is a Japanese dish made of specially prepared vinegared (medium grain white rice or brown) rice, usually with some sugar and rice, combined with a variety of ingredients (e.g., raw/cooked seafood, vegetables, tropical fruits), served as an appetizer or as a main dish. Fillings, toppings, condiments (shoyu or soy sauce, wasabi, Japanese-style mayonnaise) and preparation vary widely. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sushi”.20

5Ura maki, literally “inside-out roll”, is a medium-sized cylindrical piece with two or more fillings, developed as a result of the American creation of the California roll21, as a method originally meant to hide the nori22. The (avocado, carrots, crab meat, cucumber, mayonnaise, tuna) filling is in the center surrounded by nori, then a layer of rice, and optionally an outer coating of some other ingredients, such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sushi”.20

6Tobiko is the Japanese word for flying fish roe. The eggs are small (0.5 to 0.8 mm), naturally red-orange in color, with a mild smoky or salty taste, and a crunchy texture. It is used to make sushi more attractive so sometimes it is colored to change its appearance: squid ink to make it black, yuzu23 to make it pale orange, and wasabi24 to make it green and spicy. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tobiko”.25

7Tempura is a Japanese dish, usually consisting of seafood (e.g., shrimp, squid rings) or vegetables (e.g., strips of carrot, eggplant, onion) that have been battered and deep fried. It is eaten hot immediately after frying, and may be sprinkled with powdered green tea and sea salt, or yuzu and salt, before eating. It is commonly served with tentsuyu sauce (about 3 parts dashi26, 1 part each of mirin27 and shoyu28) and grated daikon29. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tempura”.30

8Yakimono is a Japanese grilled or pan-fried dish, often served as an appetizer, made of pieces of marinated, skewered and grilled meat. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Japanese cuisine”.31

9Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food.

10Ramen is the Japanese term for a noodle soup consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles, a meat/fish-based broth, often flavoured with soy sauce or miso, with various toppings (e.g., chashu or sliced pork, menma or lactate-fermented bamboo shoots, negi or green onions, and nori or dried seaweed). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ramen”.32

11Soba is the Japanese term for buckwheat. It usually refers to thin noodles made from buckwheat flour, or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours. They contrast to thick wheat noodles, called udon12. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Soba”.33

12Udon is a type of Japanese thick wheat flour noodles, often served hot as a noodle soup, according to Wikipedia page “Udon”.34

13Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae) and sometimes rice, barley, seaweed, or other ingredients. It is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup. It is typically salty, but its flavour and aroma depend pn various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Miso”.35

14Kalguksu is a traditionally considered seasonal Korean noodle dish consisting of homemade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles, served in a large bowl with broth (e.g., dried anchovies, shellfish) and other ingredients (like vegetables, often aehobak36, potatoes and scallions), usually seasoned with salt, consumed most often in summer. The term literally means “knife noodles” since the noodles are not extruded or spun, they are cut. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kalguksu.37

15Matcha is a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is used to flavour and dye foods such as mochi38 and soba11 noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi39 confectionery, as well as hot tea in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Matcha”.40

16Sake is a rice wine which is the national beverage of Japan.

17Soju is a clear, colorless, distilled Korean beverage which is traditionally made from rice, wheat or barley, with an alcoholic content of 16.8-53% alcohol by volume. It is usually consumed neat. Modern producers often replace rice with other starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes or tapioca. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Soju”.41

18You can earn points when you shop, dine, or gamble in Resorts World Manila. You can then redeem points the next time you visit said hotel and dine in Ginzadon, among others.

19“Sashimi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashimi.

20“Sushi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi.

21A California roll, or California maki, is a makizushi42 sushi roll that is usually rolled inside-out and contains avocado, crab meat or imitation crab, and cucumber. Sometimes, crtab salad is substituted for the crab stick, and often the outer layer of rice is an inside-out roll (ura maki) is sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, tobiko6 or masago (capelin roe). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “California roll”.43

22Nori is the Japanese name for edible seaweed species of the red algae genus Pyropia. It has a strong and distinctive flavor. It is shredded, rack-dried, formed into sheets, and sold in packs in grocery stores for culinary purposes. It is uses chiefly in Japanese cuisine as an ingredient to wrap rolls of sushi4 or onigiri44. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Nori”.45

23Yuzu is the Japanese term for a round, yellowish citrus fruit with fragrant, acidic juice, used chiefly as a flavoring. It is called yuja in Korean. This fruit looks like a small grapefruit with an uneven skin. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Citrus junos”.46

24Wasabi is the green, highly pungent, paste served as a Japanese condiment for sushi4 and sashimi3, made from the wasabi plant.

25“Tobiko,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobiko.

26Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used in Japanese cuisine. The most common form of dashi is a simple broth or fish stock made by heating water containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented skipjack tuna. It forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth, and many kinds of simmering liquid. It can also be mixed into flour base of some grilled foods. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dashi”.47

27Mirin is an essential condiment used in Japanese cuisine. It is a type of rice wine, similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mirin”.48

28Shoyu is the Japanese term for soy sauce, according to the Wikipedia page “Soy sauce”.

29Daikon, literally “big root,” is a mild-flavored winter radish. It is originally native to Southeast or continental Asia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Daikon”.49

30“Tempura,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempura.

31“Japanese cuisine,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_cuisine.

32“Ramen,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen.

33“Soba,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soba.

34“Udon,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udon.

35“Miso,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miso.

36Aehobak, Korean zucchini or Korean courgette, is an edible green to yellow-green summer squash which belongs to the species Cucurbita moschata, commonly used in Korean cuisine. It is shaped like a zucchini but with thinner, smoother skin, and more delicate flesh. It is usually sold in shrink-wrapped plastic. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Aehobak”.50

37“Kalguksu,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalguksu.

38Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grained japonica glutinous rice, pounded inot a paste, and molded into the desired shape, traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki, and commonly sold and eaten during Japanese New Year. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mochi”.51

39Wagashi refers to traditional Japanese confections/sweets that are often served with tea, especially those made of anko (azuki bean paste), fruits, and moch138. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Wagashi”.52

40“Matcha,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matcha.

41“Soju,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soju.

42Makizushi is a cylindrical piece of sushi4, formed with the help of a bamboo mat called a makisu. It is generally wrapped in nori (seaweed), but is occasionally wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or shiso (perilla) leaves. It is usually cut into 6 or 8 pieces, which constitutes a single roll order. It is also called norimaki or makimono. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Sushi”.20

43“California roll,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_roll.

44Onigiri is a popular staple food in Japanese restaurants worldwide, made from (sometimes lightly salted) boiled white rice, fried rice, o-kowa or kowa-meshi (sekihan, glutinous rice cooked/steamed with vegetables like red beans), maze-gohan (“mixed rice”; cooked rice mixed with preferred ingredients), formed into triangular or cylindrical shapes, and often wrapped in nori (seaweed). It can be filled with umeboshi (pickled ume fruit), katsuobushi (dried fish prepared in hard blocks from skipjack tuna), kombu (dried, dark brown seaweed), miso13, okaka (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna), salted salmon, tarako (plain, salted sacks of Pollock or cod roe), tsukudani (small seafood, meat or seaweed simmered in soy sauce and mirin), pickled fruit and vegetables, fried foods, or any other salty or sour ingredient as a natural preservative. It is also called omusubi, nigirimeshi, or rice ball. It is not a sushi4. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Onigiri”.53

 45“Nori,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nori.

46“Citrus junos,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citrus_junos.

47“Dashi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi.

48“Mirin,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirin.

49“Daikon,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daikon.

50“Aehobak,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aehobak.

51“Mochi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochi.

52“Wagashi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagashi.

53“Onigiri,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onigiri.

GENKI SUSHI: AN INTERESTING JAPANESE DINING EXPERIENCE

Location: 2nd Level, Bonifacio Stopover Pavilion, 31st corner Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City, Philippines

My husband and I were craving ramen1 while walking in BGC when we chanced upon an interesting Japanese restaurant – Genki Sushi!

1-entrance

We were enticed by the promotional announcements on the glass wall: a must-try Shoyu Ramen2 with a very big picture; premium bentosets; and, take-away party sets (see below).

18-shoyu ramen-ok

 

We said: “What the heck, let’s try their ramen1 as a snack!” When I repeated the name of the restaurant in my mind, I recalled that I read about it as a Japanese casual fast-food dining concept featuring the conveyor-belt method of serving sushi4, using a miniature high-speed train system. So, we entered this restaurant and were immediately greeted by the wait staff.

3-entrance-ok

But first, let me give a brief background. Established in 1990 in Japan, Genki Sushi is a chain of conveyor belt sushi4 restaurants.

This restaurant started with 24-year-old Japanese sushi6 chef, Fumio Saito, who dreamed of creating a modern sushi6 restaurant with an unusual feature known as “kaiten” (literally translated as “revolving”). In December 1968, he created the concept of “kaiten sushi” and pioneered the use of a revolving conveyor belt to serve sushi, combining serving traditional sushi with modern technology.7

This new concept caught on fast in Japan and appealed widely to the masses since it offered quality sushi at affordable prices, served using an innovative manner, delighting even children.7

In 1991, a year after it was established, Genki Sushi Co. Ltd listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. With its dedication to freshness, the company quickly gained public support and successfully expanded further throughout Japan.7

Genki Sushi went international in 1992. Expansion was rapid with Genki Sushi outlets opening in Hawaii, Singapore, and subsequently in Malaysia and Taiwan. In March 1995, the first Genki Sushi opened in Hong Kong. Today, Genki Sushi operates a total of 40 outlets in Hong Kong.7

The chain has expanded to currently include locations in Japan, Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and the USA (California, Hawaii and Washington), according to Wikipedia page “Genki Sushi”.5

In the Philippines, Genki Sushi is a brand under Mother Spice Food Corp., with other brands that include Mango Tree, Mango Tree Bistro, and Cocina Peruvia.8

Genki Sushi in BGC is open from: 11:00AM – 10:00PM, Sunday – Thursday, and from 11:00 AM – 11:00PM Friday and Saturday.

The dining area is well-lit from the glass walls and adequate indoor lighting. The other walls are painted off-white with the lower half in light brown. Its ambiance is almost fast-food style featuring off-white tables good for four people, and red-cushioned booths, for more comfortable, yet casual dining.

Genki Sushi offers the following:

APPETIZERS (PHP90-230) –

4-appetizers-ok

GUNKAN(PHP70-180) –

6-gunkan0ok

MAKI MONO10 (PHP70-160) –

7-maki mono

NIGIRI11 (PHP70-150) –

9-nigiri-ok

RICE & NOODLES (PHP230-400) –

10-rice-noodles-ok

SASHIMI12 (PHP250/350) –

11-sashimi-ok

TEMAKI13 or HAND ROLLS (PHP90-120) –

13-temaki-ok

SEARED DISHES (PHP100-220) –

12-seared-ok

TRIOS (PHP199) –

15-trio0ok

SIDE ORDERS (PHP90-290) –

14-side order-ok

DESSERTS (PHP80-220) –

5-desserts-ok

PREMIUM BENTO3 SETS – Chicken Black Pepper Bento (PHP480), Chicken Katsudon Bento (PHP480), and Shrimp Tempura Supreme Bento Set (PHP650)

23-bento sets-ok

TAKE-AWAY PARTY SETS – Small Salmon Set (PHP500); Roll Set (PHP800); Big Salmon Set (PHP1,000); Genki Cooked Set (PHP1,400); and, Genki Supreme Sushi Set (PHP2,300)

24-food-take-home

BEVERAGES – Coke in Can (PHP80), Coke Light in Can (PHP80), Sprite in Can (PHP80), House Blend Iced Tea (PHP100), Asahi in Can (PHP120), and Honey Citron (PHP130)

21-tab-ok

I remember hearing about this unique Japanese restaurant and its high-tech way of ordering and serving non-soup orders. Allow me to tell you about our dining experience.

Once seated, my husband and I curiously studied the wall-panel menu which was pretty extensive (see above).

22-wall menu

The wall partition on one side of each table-booth has colored pictures of the various items you can order (see below), with English and Japanese names and corresponding prices, excluding service charge. At the bottom, there is a legend for the icons used for the items: Genki recommended, spicy, and vegetarian. It also has a note: “pictures are only for reference; some dishes may contain fish bones”.

16-table

We finally decided to get two orders of Shoyu Ramen2 and one order of Salmon Sashimi12. We did not order any beverage since choices were limited and we are staying away from softdrinks. Anyway, they serve complimentary green tea.

The use of a touch screen (fixed on the side of the conveyor belt) to place one’s order is very interesting. The top of the screen offers seven categories (from left to right): Sushi4, Sashimi12, Washoku14, Dessert, Beverage, Promotion, and Take-Away. You just have to press the category of your desired orders, click the dishes you want, then press “Go!” on the train-like figure at the bottom left corner.

There are three notes at the bottom: “photographs are for identification purposes only”; “service charge will be added upon bill settlement”; and, “order confirmed cannot be cancelled”.

We pressed the appropriate orders on the screen, initially with the help of a server, and waited for our orders. Remember, all orders are final so always ask the help of a wait staff before you place your order. I was personally excited to witness how the orders will be served by the express tray.

We further observed the set-up in our booth. There was a sign which read: “Please keep arms and elbows clear” so we obediently did not extend any of our upper limbs.

A small ledge with a special track was positioned along the wall partition with the menu on one side of our booth to “deliver” our orders. A sign states: “Children below 7 years old are not allowed to sit on the inner area of the booth.” A caution sign reads: “Take your dishes only after the express tray stops. Never put your hands into the express tray area, except when taking off dishes.”

Each booth has a faucet for dispensing hot water, with appropriate notice of safety: “Caution: hot water”. There was a green tea container, a table napkin dispenser, and a chopstick container.

In the meantime, a server gave us black tea cups. We then helped ourselves to the complimentary green tea powder container on our table and carefully turned the lever of the faucet to pour hot water in our cups. The green tea was good and hot, and we enjoyed it while waiting for our orders.

Then, lo and behold, after about 15 minutes, my husband’s order of Salmon Sashimi12 “arrived” from the kitchen. The high-speed express train-tray which can accommodate 4 dishes per trip, swiftly sped along the track, and “parked” at the center of our table’s wall.

8-train-ok

My husband got his sashimi12 order from the train-tray. A waiter then brought the soy sauce and wasabi15. I asked for two glasses of water.

The Salmon Sashimi12 (PHP250) consisted of 4 fresh slices, and, according to my husband, it was fresh and tasted good.

19-salmon-sashimi-ok

A server then brought our Shoyu Ramen2 (PHP250) and water. The ramen1 was served hot. However, I personally prefer the broth to be richer and more flavorful, instead of being light and almost clear, like Filipino mami16. The pork could stand more curing to be tastier.

17-ramen-ok

It then came time for us to settle our bill so we pressed “view your bill”. The screen showed the items we ordered with the corresponding prices, the service charge and the total amount to be paid. I was looking for a Senior Citizen discount button but there was none, so we just waited for our server.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  21-tab-ok

Personally, I find this restaurant a bit pricey based on the serving portion and quality of the dishes that we ordered. However, its unique high-tech/automated feature could account for its novelty and relatively high price.

A server then approached us, and we gave our Senior Citizen cards for our total bill to be discounted. Credit cards are also accepted by Genki Sushi.

Overall, service was fast and the staff was courteous.

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to use the rest room so I cannot comment on it.

Contact information: (02) 624-2867; Facebook: Genki Sushi Philippines; email: info@genkisushi.com.ph

So, dearest Seniors, if you plan to eat out with your grandchildren, why not try this restaurant, even just for its high-tech service which they could definitely relate to and enjoy? If BGC is not accessible to you, you can also visit the other outlets of Genki Sushi in: Ayala Mall the 30th (Meralco Avenue, Pasig City), UP Town Center (Diliman, Quezon City), SM Aura (BGC, Taguig), SM Megamall Mega Atrium (Mandaluyong City), and SM North EDSA (Quezon City).

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

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The following terms are defined for the benefit of interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, or those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Ramen is a Japanese dish consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat/fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso17, served hot, with toppings such as chashu (simmered/braised pork), menma (marinated bamboo shoots), negi (green onions), and nori (dry seaweed), according to the Wikipedia page, Ramen.18

2Shoyu Ramen is the oldest kind of ramen1 which has a clear broth, based on a chicken and vegetable (or sometimes, fish or beef) stock with plenty of soy sauce added resulting in a soup that is tangy, salty, and savory, yet still fairly light on the palate. It is often adorned with menma (marinated bamboo shoots), negi (green onions), ninjin (carrot), kamaboko (fish cakes), nori (dry seaweed), boiled eggs, bean sprouts or black pepper. It occasionally contains chili oil or Chinese spices. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ramen”.18

3Bento is a single portion Japanese meal, usually served in a square compartmentalized lacquerware, called a bento box, in Japanese restaurants. It generally consists of rice, fish or meat, picked or cooked vegetables.

4Conveyor belt sushi, literally “rotation sushi”, is a form of sushi6 restaurant common in Japan. In Australasia, it is also known as a sushi train. Kaiten-zushi is a sushi restaurant where the plates with the sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt, or moat, that winds through the restaurant and moves past every table, counter and seat. Customers may place special orders. The final bill is based on the number and type of plates of the consumed sushi. Some restaurants use a fancier presentation such as miniature wooden “sushi boats” traveling small canals or miniature locomotive cars. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Conveyor belt sushi”.19

5“Genki Sushi,” accessed February 3, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genki_Sushi.

6Sushi is a Japanese dish made of specially prepared vinegared medium grain white rice or brown rice combined with a variety of ingredients (e.g., raw/cooked seafood, vegetables, tropical fruits). Sushi can be served as an appetizer or as a main dish. Fillings, toppings, condiments (shoyu or soy sauce, wasabi20, Japanese-style mayonnaise) and preparation vary widely. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Sushi”.20

7https://www.genkisushi.com.hk/en/about_us.php

8http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?Leisure&-introduces-5-new-dishes&id=147429

9Gunkan is a typical Japanese way of serving ingredients which would be difficult to serve on top of a nigiri11. It is usually made by wrapping a piece of nori (dry seaweed) around a ball of rice with plenty of space left on top to be filled with a variety of ingredients (e.g., potato salad, salmon roe, sea urchin, squid). Nori can be replaced with very thin strips of daikon, cucumber, and zucchini.21, 22,23

10Maki, short for makizushi, is rolled, or wrapped, sushi6 formed into a cylindrical piece, using a bamboo mat called a makisu. It is also called maki mono or norimaki. It is generally wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) then cut into 6 or 8 pieces, for a single roll order. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Sushi”.20

11Nigiri is a hand-pressed sushi6 which consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that a chef presses between the palms of the hands to form an oval-shaped ball, and a topping (the neta, typically fish, such as salmon or tuna), draped over the ball. It is usually served with a bit of wasabi20. Certain toppings are typically bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori (dried seaweed), most commonly octopus (tako), freshwater eel (unagi), sea eel (anago), squid (ika), and sweet egg (tamago). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Sushi”.20

12Sashimi is a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced, fresh, raw fish or meat, often served as the first course in a formal Japanese meal but may also be served as the main course. It is garnished with long thin strands of daikon (white radish) or single leaves of the shiso herb (perilla). It is served with soy sauce as a dipping sauce, along with condiments (wasabi15, grated fresh ginger, ponzu24). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Sashimi”.25

13Temaki, literally hand roll”, is a large cone-shaped piece of nori (dried seaweed) on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about 10 centimetres (4 in) long, and is eaten with one’s fingers because it is too awkward to pick it up with chopsticks. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Sushi”.20

14Washoku, literally “food of Japan”, is the Japanese collective term for traditional, well-presented, Japanese food. It is registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, known worldwide as being delicious and healthy, with ingredients which blend together in a harmonious fashion and satisfies all the senses.26 It is made of 4 elements: a bowl of plain steamed rice; a small plate of konomono (pickled seasonal vegetables) or tsukemono (Japanese pickles); a bowl of ju (soup) which contains vegetables or tofu and uses the broth of kombu kelp or shavings of dried bonito, with salt and miso added for flavor; and, three sai (one main/two side dishes) which are cooked fish, tofu, vegetables with dressing, etc.27

15Wasabi is the green, highly pungent, paste served as a Japanese condiment for sushi6 and sashimi12, made from the wasabi plant.

16Mami is a Chinese egg noodle soup, served as a popular snack item in the Philippines. It has several variants: asado28, beef, chicken, wanton29, or combinations thereof. It is said to have been invented by Ma Wen-Lu, the founder of the Chinese restaurant, Ma Mon Luk.

17Miso is a Japanese seasoning which is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans with salt and koji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae) and even barley, rice malt, seaweed or other ingredients. It is typically salty, but can also be earthy, sweet, fruity or savory. It is used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixed with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ramen”.18

18“Ramen,” accessed February 3, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen.

19“Conveyor belt sushi,” accessed February 3, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conveyor_belt_sushi.

20“Sushi,” accessed February 3, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi.

21https://shizuokagourmet.com/japanese-sushi-gunkanmothership/

22https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2038.html

23https://gurunavi.com/en/japanfoodie/2017/05/types-of-sushi.html?__ngt__=TT0f24985be002ac1e4ae5e7LKTJ0n-xYT8PuCv7YspawR

 24Ponzu is a Japanese dipping sauce made from fish flake broth — simmered from a mixture of katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna) flakes, mirin (rice wine), rice vinegar, and kombu (seaweed), then cooled and strained — plus citrus juice (e.g., daidai, kabosu, lemon, lime, sudachi, zuyu) and soy sauce. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ponzu”.30

25“Sashimi,” accessed February 3, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashimi.

 26http://tsukiji-cooking.com/whatswashoku/

27http://tsukiji-cooking.com/whatswashoku/

28Asado is a variation of siopao31 or mami16 which is made of savory/sweetened stewed pork bits/chunks.

29Wanton, in Chinese cuisine, is a small dumpling with a savory filling of minced pork, usually eaten boiled in soup, or with mami16 noodles.

30“Ponzu,” accessed February 3, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzu.

31Siopao is the Filipino version of the Cantonese steamed bun called cha siu bao, served hot as a popular snack item in the Philippines. The filling/variant is either asado28 or bola-bola (ground pork, chicken, beef, shrimp or salted duck egg). NOTE: Siopao literally means “hot bun”. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siopao”.32

32“Siopao,” accessed February 3, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siopao.

Now You Know: THE MANILA ZOO IS CLOSED IMMEDIATELY AND INDEFINITELY

Dearest Filipino readers, when was the last time you went to the Manila Zoo? Personally, I have not visited that place for decades. Why? I got feedback from those who went there about the miserable state of the animals, how dirty and smelly the surroundings are, the condition of the facilities, even the toilets – all these and more, which break my heart because I only have fond memories of this zoo when I was in elementary. My father even taught me how to fish and distinctly remember catching a lot of tilapia in the lagoon which we brought home, cleaned, cooked and enjoyed as a family.

Well, it seems that the Manila Zoo will be indefinitely closed starting today, January 23, 2019. 1, 2, 3,4,5  This was ordered by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, weeks after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tagged it as one of Manila Bay’s major pollutants1, 2, 3 as it has supposedly been draining untreated sewage into one of the estuaries leading to that body of water.2, 3

In a one-page memorandum issued on January 21, Mayor Estrada ordered that “full support and cooperation be extended to the national government for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.”1,4

Mayor Estrada said the temporary closure would allow the city government to conduct a proper assessment and study of the zoo in preparation for its rehabilitation, upon the recommendation of the Office of the City Administrator and Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW).1,3,4

The management of Manila Zoo explained that way back during its opening, in 1959, the zoo was not required to have a sewage treatment plant.2,3

Two weeks earlier, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), one of the agencies tasked to rehabilitate Manila Bay, said that the zoo and 16 other establishments around the bay had not complied with the 1997 concession agreement signed by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and two concessionaires, Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc., requiring all enterprises in Western and Eastern Metro Manila to put a wastewater treatment facility. Jas Garcia, the officer-in-charge of the public operations bureau of Manila Zoo, said the zoo only had septic tanks which remove contaminants in wastewater.5

Manila Zoo is connected to the Estero de San Antonio Abad which DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said had coliform level of 1.3 billion per 1,000 ml per most probable number (mpn), higher than the bay’s 330 million. These fecal coliform levels are way above the standard of 100 ml per mpn.5

The city government of Manila vowed to fully support the government’s move to rehabilitate the nearly 2,000-square-kilometer Manila Bay. Mayor Estrada directed the city and zoo officials to address the problem.3

The mayor also ordered the DEPW and the Department of Public Service to submit a program of work for the construction or installation of water treatment facilities or sewage plants in the zoo and other city facilities,1, 2, 3,4,5 which according to the DENR, will take a couple of months.2

City Administrator Jojo Alcovendaz earlier said that two water treatment plants might be installed in Manila Zoo within three to four months, after Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu accused zoo officials of dumping untreated water into Manila Bay. The DENR gave the city government four months to construct a wastewater treatment facility.5

The zoo’s employees will not lose their jobs because the zoo will only be closed to the public but will remain in operation for them to take care of the animals.3  

Personally, I agree with the closure of Manila Zoo, not only to comply with the required water treatment plants to save Manila Bay, but the next three or four months would be an opportune time to improve the state of the zoo in terms of animal care, facilities, cleanliness and sanitation of the premises, among others. I am still hopeful that the zoo will reopen, with the proper water treatment plants and cleaner, well-maintained, and improved facilities.

Did you find this post informative? Have you been to the Manila Zoo before it was closed? Can you share what me your experience there? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1076213/manila-zoo-closed-indefinitely

2https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/metro/682356/manila-zoo-to-be-temporarily-closed-starting-january-23/story/

3https://www.philstar.com/nation/2019/01/23/1887315/manila-zoo-shut-down-indefinitely-due-untreated-sewage

4https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/01/22/manila-zoo-closed-in-view-of-manila-bay-rehab/

5https://www.manilatimes.net/manila-zoo-shuts-down/500599/

Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT IS THE BLACK NAZARENE OF QUIAPO?

Every January 9, we witness the biggest religious procession in the Philippines, the one held in honor of the Black Nazarene. Some foreign senior friends of mine asked me about this religious image, so here are facts which I researched.

THE BLACK NAZARENE: AN INTRODUCTION

The Black Nazarene is a popular life-sized image of a dark-skinned, kneeling Jesus Christ carrying the cross. It is enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene(simply called Quiapo Church), in the Quiapodistrict of the City of Manila3, Philippines.

This iconic image is called Poong Itim na Nazareno or Hesus Nazareno in Filipino, and El Nazareno Negro or Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno in Spanish.

The image derived its name from “Nazarene”, a title of Christ identifying Him as a native of Nazareth in Galilee.

450px-black_nazarene

Source of Picture:  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ae/Black_Nazarene.jpg, by Constantine Agustin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/biagkensiak/857870853/

The miraculous Black Nazarene is venerated every Friday. Many devotees relate their poverty and daily struggles to the Passion of Christ4, as represented by this image. Devotees also believe that merely touching this renowned image could cure diseases, so it continues to attract more and more devotees from across the nation and even from overseas. A composite replica, however, was made in recent years for its processions.

Cagayan de Oro City, in Northern Mindanao, has an official replica of the Black Nazarene given by the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene1 in 2009. A replica of the Black Nazarene was also canonically enshrined at Saint Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Parish in Reseda, California, USA. Another replica can be found at the Old Chapel of St. Rock the Healer Mission Center, Bishop’s Compound, Barangay Cawayan, Catarman, Northern Samar, where devotees venerate the image, especially on Fridays.

DESCRIPTION OF THE IMAGE

The Black Nazarene’s head wears a braided wig made of dyed abaca, along with a golden crown of thorns. Attached to the crown are the traditional “Tres Potencias” (“three powers”), or three rayos (“rays” symbolizing the three powers of the Holy Trinity), exclusively used for images of Jesus Christ in traditional Filipino and Hispanic iconography to signify His divinity.

The original image has lost several fingers over the centuries.

The barefoot image is shown in a genuflecting posture, symbolizing the agony and the weight of the Cross, along with the overall pain Christ endured during His Passion4.

The Cross itself is of black wood tipped with flat, pyramidal gilt brass caps.

The image is dressed in a heavy velvet tunic of maroon, embroidered with floral and plant emblems on gold thread, and trimmed with matching lace collar and cuffs. Around the waist is a gold-plated metal belt embossed with the word “NAZARENO”, while a golden chain ending in spheres is looped around the neck and held in the left hand, representing His Scourging5.

The many devotees of the Black Nazarene relate their poverty and daily struggles to the Passion of Christ4 as represented by the image of the Black Nazarene. His eyes and His mouth manifest the writhing pain He suffered and portrays a calling for someone to help Him carry the heavy cross. Anyone who focuses his eyes for some time on this image will be irresistibly moved with pity.6

HISTORY

The image was originally owned by the Recollects and was carved by an unknown Mexican sculptor using mesquite, a dark wood that was a popular medium in the 16th century in Mexico. The image was then transported to the Philippines in 1606 aboard a galleon from Acapulco. It arrived in Manila on May 31, 1606. It depicts Jesus en route to His crucifixion. A similar image called Cristo Negro7 is venerated in Portobelo, Panama.

It is said, however, that it was either charred by a fire on the galleon or its dark complexion was due to votive candles8 burning before the image. These still have to be proven.

Pope Innocent X approved veneration of the image in 1650 as a sacramental, and authorized the establishment of the lay Confraternity9 of the Most Holy Jesus Nazarene (Confradia de Nuestro Santo Jesus Nazareno in Spanish).

Pope Pius VII gave the image his Apostolic Blessing10 in 1880, which granted plenary indulgence to those who piously pray before it.

The Black Nazarene was originally enshrined in the high altar of the Church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino11 (popularly known as the Recoletos Church), located some distance away from modern-day Rizal Park12, inside Intramuros13. Both the church and the image perished during the bombardment and the flames of the Liberation of Manila14 in 1945.

On January 9, 1787, the Recollects donated a copy of the image to the Church of the Camisa (one of Quiapo Church’s original names) and it has been housed there ever since. This “solemn transfer” of the image’s copy from Intramuros to Quiapo was later on celebrated by the faithful every January 9 by means of a procession (henceforth called the Traslacion). This image has withstood four centuries of fires, earthquakes, and even World War II.

The image presently enshrined above the main altar of Quiapo Church is a composite of the surviving copy’s head and a body-replica sculpted by renowned Filipino santero (saint-maker) Gener Maglaqui, who was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Manila15.

The other composite comprises the surviving copy’s body and the head of the Maglaqui replica. Enshrined in a direct part of the Minor Basilica16, it is the second composite which is used in the three major processions (see below). This arrangement began in the 1990s because of security concerns, and to better protect the icon. Until then, the image donated in the 18th century was used in whole during processions.

DEVOTIONS IN HONOR OF THE BLACK NAZARENE

Here are the devotions in honor of the Black Nazarene:

  1. Every Friday, except Good Friday, is called “Quiapo Day” in Metro Manila, where masses are held in the image’s honor. At the end of each Mass in this Minor Basilica16, devotees pay homage to the image by clapping their hands. Heads up on every Friday in that vicinity because of the heavy traffic due to the high influx of devotees.
  2. Paglalakad nang Paluhod – The reverential custom of “walking” on one’s bended knees (kneeling down posture) along the main aisle, from the entrance of the church, towards the image at the altar.6
  3. A nine-day annual novena17 in honor of the Black Nazarene starts midnight, December 31, with a procession in Quiapo2, Manila3, and continues until January 8.18 For the complete novena, days 1 to 9, visit: http://www.god-answers-prayers.com/jesus_christ_prayers/novena_prayer_black_nazarene/day1/index.html

A novena is also held every Friday, attended by thousands of devotees. A note is sounded before the novena begins as the devotees to the Black Nazarene troop in, reciting their strings of petitions.

  1. Traslacion19 – I will make a post soon.
  2. Pahalik – This “kissing” ritual of the statue is held during the eve of the Traslacion19, following the folk belief that a cloth can absorb the powers of a holy object, usually and specifically its curative abilities and blessings, originating from the ancient custom of ex brandea (cloth wiped on the bodies or tombs of the Twelve Apostles), itself part of the wider category of Third-class relics20.
  3. Pabihis–This “dressing” ritual refers to the changing of the vestments of the Black Nazarene which is done by a priest vested in a cope21 and stole22, and devotees either inside the Minor Basilica16, or outside, in Plaza Miranda23. It is performed five times a year during preparations for major religious occasions, and is open to the public.
  4. Pahawak– This refers to touching the statue or the garments of the Black Nazarene.6
  5. Pasindi (“lighting”) or lighting of multi-colored votive candles8 outside the Minor Basilica16.

Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio, rector and parish priest of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said that over the years the devotion has increased. He identified three elements for such popularity: miracles and healing; the identification of the Filipinos with the sufferings of Jesus Christ; and, the Panata24 commitment.6

Karl Marx, a German philosopher, socialist revolutionary, sociologist, political theorist, historian, journalist and economist, said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people,” according to the Wikipedia pages “Karl Marx”25 and “Opium of the people”.26 Other people also say that all these devotions, especially the wiping of the image, represent idolatry or fanaticism.

They may call it as such but how can you explain the conversion of devotees who previously led not-so-good lives? Genuine faith to the Black Nazarene has led to the miraculous healing of devotees. I, myself, witnessed the complete healing of my husband’s aunt who had a terminal sickness. Personally, I believe that we must respect one’s freedom of religion and his/her relationship with God for a meaningful, happy and contented life.

Pope Benedict explained popular piety in the devotion of the Black Nazarene. “I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community. Popular piety is thus one of the Church’s great treasures.” Pope Francis is also asking us to support and strengthen, understand and find meaning in popular piety.6

THE THREE PROCESSIONS OF THE BLACK NAZARENE

The image is brought out of the church three times a year:

  1. January 9, for the largest procession in the country, drawing millions of devotees for the anniversary of its translation19 or “solemn transfer” in 1787 from its original shrine inside Intramuros13 to the Minor Basilica16 where it is currently housed.
  2. Good Friday27, the Nazarene’s liturgical feast, commemorating the culmination of the Passion4; and,
  3. December 31, New Year’s Eve, the first day of its annual novena17. See Devotions above.

The information was obtained from the following Wikipedia pages: “Black Nazarene”28, “Quiapo Church”29 and “Translation (relic)”30.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Have you seen the Black Nazarene? Have you ever experienced the Traslacion? Do share your comments. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

Viva, Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno!

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These footnotes are specially made for foreign viewers and those who would like to know more about the terms below:

1The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, commonly called Quiapo Church, is a prominent Mexican Baroque31 minor basilica16 in the district of Quiapo2, in the City of Manila3, Philippines. This minor basilica, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist32, is the home of the revered Black Nazarene. It was founded in 1586 by Fray Antonio de Nombela, OFM, and is under the Archdiocese of Manila15. You can visit its website: www.quiapochurch.com. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Quiapo Church”.33

2Quiapo is a district in the city of Manila3, in the Philippines, with 16 barangays34. It is the home of the Quiapo Church and known as a place for marketplace bargain hunting. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Quiapo, Manila”.35

3The City of Manila is the capital of the Philippines and the most densely populated city proper in the world. It was founded on June 24, 1571 and became the first Philippine chartered city, on July 31, 1901. It is the city where the Rizal Monument, Fort Santiago, Malacañang Palace, and University of Santo Tomas are located, among others. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Manila”.36

4The Passion of Christ, in Christianity, refers to the short final period in the life of Jesus, covering: the portent grievance of the Blessed Virgin Mary; His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper; His bleeding and Agony in the Garden; and, His crucifixion on Mount Calvary, defining the climatic event central to Christian doctrine of salvation history. In the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, the Passion is commemorated during the Holy Week, beginning on Friday of Sorrows, followed by Palm Sunday, and culminating on His death on Good Friday. NOTE: Passion comes from the Latin word passionem, meaning “suffering, enduring”. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Passion of Jesus”.37

5Scourging is the act of inflicting severe corporal punishment or self-mortification using a whip or lash, usually made of leather, according to the Wikipedia page “Scourge”.38

6https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/51722

7Cristo Negro is a wooden statue of Jesus Christ carrying a cross, located in Iglesia de San Felipe, a Roman Catholic parish church in Portobelo, Panama. The life-size statue is carved of heavy cocobolo wood which is dark brown in color. It was found on the shores of the town’s harbor. It is adorned with a robe that is changed twice a year, wine or red in color during the Festival of the Black Christ on October 21, and purple during Holy Week. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cristo Negro (Portobelo)”.39

8A votive candle, or prayer candle, is a small candle, typically white or beeswax yellow, intended to be burnt as a votive offering40 in an act of Christian prayer, especially within the Anglican and Roman Catholic Christian denominations, among others. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Votive candle”.41

9A confraternity is generally a Christian voluntary association of lay people created for the purpose of promoting special works of Christian charity or piety, and approved by the Church hierarchy. It is most common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and the Western Orthodox. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Confraternity”.42

10The Apostolic Blessing or Papal Blessing, is a blessing imparted by the Pope, either directly, or by delegation through others. Bishops are empowered to grant it three times a year, and any priest can do so for the dying. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Apostolic Blessing”.43

 11Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (c. 1246 – 1305) was an Italian saint and mystic, known as the Patron of Holy Souls, and was canonized on June 5, 1446 in Vatican by Pope Eugene IV, the first Augustinian to be canonized. At his canonization, Nicholas was credited with 300 miracles, including 3 resurrections. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Nicholas of Tolentino”.44

12Rizal Park, or simply Luneta, is a historical urban park in Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, Manila3, in the Philippines. It is a major tourist attraction in Manila and a favorite leisure spot, especially on Sundays and national holidays. The execution of the national hero, Jose Rizal, on December 30, 1896, happened in this park, thus, the park was named after him. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Rizal Park”.45

13Intramuros, or Walled City, is the historic walled area within the modern city of Manila3, administered by the Intramuros Administration. It was the seat of government and political power when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire.The Spaniards constructed the defensive walls in the late 16th century to protect the city from foreign invasions. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Intramuros”.46

14The Liberation of Manila was the result of the Battle of Manila from February 3 – March 3, 1945, during World War II. It was fought by American and Filipino forces against Japanese troops in Manila and resulted in the death of 100,000 to 240,000 civilians, 1,010 Americans, and 16,665 Japanese, as well as in the complete devastation of the city, destroying architectural and cultural heritage sites. The city’s capture was marked as General Douglas MacArthur’s key to victory in the campaign of reconquest. It is the last of the many battles fought within Manila’s history. With Intramuros13 secured on March 4, Manila was officially liberated, albeit completely destroyed with large areas leveled by American bombing. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Battle of Manila (1945)”.47

15The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila is the archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in Metro Manila, Philippines, covering Manila3, Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and Pasay City (except for Villamor Air Base and Newport City which is under the jurisdiction of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines), with headquarters in 121 Arzobispo Street, Intramuros13, Manila. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila”.48

16A minor basilica is a title given to some Roman Catholic Church buildings by apostolic grant or immemorial custom. Presently, the authorizing decree is granted by the Pope though the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments49. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Minor basilica”.50

17A novena is an ancient tradition of devotional praying in Christianity, consisting of private and public prayers repeated for nine successive days or weeks. During a novena, the devotees make petitions, implore favors, or obtain graces by worshipping Jesus Christ, and ask for intercessions of the Virgin Mary, or the saints of the faith. Persons may express love and honor by kneeling, burning candles, or placing flowers before a revered statue. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Novena”.51

18https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/01/01/novena-masses-honoring-black-nazarene-begin-2/

19Traslacion is the Spanish term referring to “passage” or “movement”. In Christianity, the transfer (or translation) of relics is the removal of holy objects from one locality for placement in another. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia pages “Black Nazarene”52 and “Translation (relic)”53. For the devotees of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo2, this term means the procession held every January 9 to honor the said statue.

20Third-Class Relic refers to any object that is touched to a First- or Second-Class relic54. Most are small pieces of cloth that touched the bones of saints or touched the body or tombs of the apostles. NOTE: A First-Class relic is an item directly associated with the events of Christ’s life (manger, cross, etc.), or the physical remains of a saint (a bone, hair, skull, limb, etc.). A Second-Class Relic is an item that a saint owned (e.g., a shirt, glove, etc.) or frequently used (e.g., a rosary, crucifix, book, etc.). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Relic”.55

21cope is a liturgical vestment, i.e., a long mantle or cloak, open in front and fastened at the breast with a band or clasp, in any liturgical color. It may be worn by any rank of the clergy, and also by lay ministers in certain circumstances. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Cope”.56

22A stole is a liturgical vestment of various Christian denominations, consisting of a band of colored cloth, formerly usually of silk, about seven and a half to nine feet long and three to four inches wide, whose ends may be straight or may broaden out. The center of the stole is worn around the back of the neck and the two ends hang down parallel to each other in front, either attached to each other or hanging loose. It is almost always decorated in some way, usually with a cross or some other significant religious design. It is also often decorated with contrasting galloons (ornamental trim), and fringe is usually applied to the ends of the stole following Numbers 15: 38-39.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Stole (vestment)”.57

 23Plaza Miranda is a public square bounded by Quezon Boulevard, Hidalgo Street and Evangelista Street, in Quiapo2, Manila3. It is the plaza which fronts the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene1 (Quiapo Church), and is considered as the center of Quiapo as a whole. It was inaugurated by Mayor Arsenio Lacson in 1961, named after Jose Sandino y Miranda, who served as the Philippines’ Secretary of the Treasury from 1833 and 1854. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Plaza Miranda”.58

24Panata is a Filipino term for a solemn promise or vow.

25“Karl Marx,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx.

26“Opium of the people,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_of_the_people.

27Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and His death at Calvary, observed during Holy Week.

 28″Black Nazarene,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Nazarene.

29“Quiapo Church,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiapo_Church.

30“Translation (relic),” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_(relic).

31Mexican Baroque is a variation of Baroque architecture, a European style which is highly ornate and extravagant in style. It was introduced through Spain, then adapted to reflect the taste of Mexican indigenous works and criollo, i.e., Mexican-born Spaniards. It has the following characteristics: ornamentation (of most architectural facades and interior walls); hybridity (the combination of European and Spanish-Mexican/Armerindian aesthetic traditions/tastes); the use of azulejos, or ceramic tiles, in decorative patterns in the facade; the use of a wider array of materials (a technique called yeseria where plaster is carved into complex geometric patterns); the use of polished and gilded wood; the use of retablos, paintings of saints set in wood frames; and, the use of life-sized wooden statues of saints.59

32John the Baptist (late 1st century BC – 28-36 AD) was a prophet, even considered a saint, who baptized Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, according to the Wikipedia page “John the Baptist”.60

33 “Quiapo Church,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiapo_Church.

34A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner city neighborhood, a suburb, or a suburban neighborhood. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”61

35 “Quiapo, Manila,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiapo,_Manila.

36“Manila,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manila.

37“Passion of Jesus,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_of-Jesus.

38“Scourge,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scourge.

39“Cristo Negro (Portobelo),” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristo_Negro_(Portobelo).

40A votive offering, or votive deposit, is one or more objects displayed or deposited, without the intention of recovery or use, in a sacred place for broadly religious purposes. Some offerings are made in anticipation of the achievement of a particular wish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Votive offering”.62

41“Votive candle,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Votive_candle.

42“Confraternity,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confraternity.

43“Apostolic blessing,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_blessing.

44“Nicholas of Tolentino,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_of_Tolentino.

45“Rizal Park,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizal_Park.

46“Intramuros,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intramuros.

47“Battle of Manila (1945),” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Manila_(1945).

48“Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Archdiocese_of_Manila.

49The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is the congregation of the Roman Curia63 that handles most affairs relating to liturgical practices of the Latin Church64 as distinct from the Eastern Catholic Churches and also some technical matters relating to the Sacraments. Its functions were originally exercised by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, set up in January 1588 by Pope Sixtus V. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments”.65

50“Minor basilica,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_basilica.

51“Novena,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novena.

52“Black Nazarene,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Nazarene.

53“Translation (relic),” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_(relic).

54A relic, in religion, usually consists of the physical remains of a saint or the personal effects of the saint, or venerated person, preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangible memorial. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Relic”.55

55“Relic,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic.

56“Cope,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cope.

57“Stole (vestment),” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stole_(vestment).

58″Plaza Miranda,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_Miranda.

59https://study.com/academy/lesson/mexican-baroque-architecture-characteristics-examples.html

60“John the Baptist,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Baptist.

61“Barangay,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay.

62“Votive offering,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Votive_offering.

63Roman Curia is the group of administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the Roman Pontiff conducts the affairs of the universal Catholic Church. It acts in his name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular Churches and provides the necessary central organization for the correct functioning of the Church and the achievement of its goals. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Roman Curia”.66

64The Latin Church is a particular church of the Catholic Church. It is headed by the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, with headquarters in the Vatican City, enclaved within Rome, according to the Wikipedia page “Latin Church”.67

65“Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregation_for_Divine_Worship_and_the_Discipline_of_the_Sacraments

66“Roman Curia,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Curia.

67“Latin Church,” accessed December 30, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_Church.

Say, Say, Say! – The 2019 RENEWAL OF PHILIPPINE PASSPORT ISSUE

UPDATE: Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. signed Department Order No. 03-2019 (Documentary Requirements for the Renewal of Regular Passports) on January 15, 2019, removing the requirement of presenting a birth certificate when renewing a Filipino passport.1 The order states that “the Department recognizes the need to enhance the convenience of, and unburden the public and passport applicants from unnecessary requirements for the renewal of their passports. Therefore, the presentation of birth certificate in the application for the renewal of passport shall not be required.”2

“I know there are many obstacles to getting fast passports. I know all over the world, passports are swiftly given, renewals are automatic. No other requirements are imposed. But give us time to get things done,” Secretary Locsin said while signing said order in the presence of the media.3 He also stated that the “old passport is more than sufficient.”3, 4

The order covers only regular renewals of passports, and shall not cover the following cases where birth certificates are still required1, 2, 3, 5:

  1. First-time passport applications;
  2. Renewal applications for lost and mutilated passports;
  3. Renewal applications requiring changes in the passport entries;
  4. Renewal applications of old brown and green passports bearing no complete middle name; and,
  5. Applicants included in the Department’s watchlist.

Let me stop at this point, dear readers. For some of you who might not have heard the news starting the weekend of January 12-13, 2019, for whatever reason, you might be thinking: What happened in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)? Why, all of a sudden, was it announced, thereafter, that birth certificates were required for passport renewal, but on the 15th, about 3 days after the announcement, a DFA order was made no longer requiring birth certificates for passport renewal? What really happened? Well, Tita S immediately posted: Say, Say, Say! – 2019 ADDITIONAL RENEWAL REQUIREMENT FOR PHILIPPINE PASSPORTS ISSUED BEFORE 2010

So, for those who missed that post, here is a recap of what happened.

This issue started when an overseas Filipino worker complained about not being able to renew his passport because the name on his birth certificate does not match the one on his old passport, sometime end of the week, around January 12, 2019.5

To this, Secretary Locsin said, “Isn’t the expired passport sufficient ID? How many times do you have to prove you are what the State declared you are in the expired passports? Why even need to show birth certificate when he is holding a government-issued passport that’s expired and he wants it renewed.”5

But when asked why the DFA could not just get the data from when the OFW initially applied for a passport, Secretary Locsin announced that the DFA needed to rebuild their “files from scratch because [their] previous outsourced passport maker “made off with the data” when its contract was terminated.5, 6 He added: “Because [the] previous contractor got pissed [and] when terminated it made off with data. We did nothing about it or couldn’t because we were in the wrong. It won’t happen again.7 Passports pose national security issues and cannot be kept by private entities. Data belongs to the state.”6

Netizens then raised complaints.2 Secretary Locsin responded to a netizen’s query on data protection. He said he did not know whether information taken by the supposed passport contractor was safe. “How can we be sure? I don’t know. Why you guys who understand data acquisition and protection should keep up the attacks,” he said.8

Meanwhile, DFA Assistant Secretary Cato said that “applicants renewing brown or green passports or maroon machine-readable passports are required to submit birth certificates because we need to capture and store the document in our database as we no longer have the physical copy of the document submitted when they first applied”.9 Recall that before the country transitioned to the e-passport, the DFA required the submission of physical copies of birth certificates and marriage contracts, he said.6

According to Cato, the DFA stopped issuing the machine readable-ready and machine readable passports (MRP) around 2010 to 2011. He said electronic passports or “e-passports” are passports which contain a microchip. Furthermore, Cato said that there are still Filipinos who are in possession of expired MRP or older passports which have not been renewed yet.7

On January 12, Saturday, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) launched an investigation into the alleged data security breach.4 NPC announced: “Any form of non-availability of personal date, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law.”8, 10 The NPC said that it would summon DFA officials and the alleged passport contractor.8

Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, demanded an explanation how a privately contracted firm can take an entire physical database of all Filipino passport holders and why the firm is not being sued. She said it “indicates a serious national security risk” and that the data should “be retrieved completely and with the highest sense of urgency and priority. Apart from that, the people responsible for such a gross display of incompetence should be held fully responsible.”9

On January 14, Monday, DFA Secretary Locsin said that there is “no leak so far” of the passport data that a former private contractor allegedly ran off.4

That same day, Malacañang rejected the move of the DFA to require birth certificates for passport holders seeking to renew their travel document. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the public should not be burdened by being required to submit original copies of their birth certificate, since obtaining such requires another application process before the Philippine Statistics Authority. He added that “the submission of the old or current passport which the applicant seeks to renew should suffice for the purpose. The ongoing practice is not only cumbersome to everyone affected but is a form of red tape which this administration frowns upon and will not tolerate.” He even said that the current arrangement for the printing of passports should be examined “to determine if there are violations of pertinent laws which may be detrimental to the public.”10

In this regard, Senator Nancy Binay called for a review by the Office of the Solicitor General of all government contracts with third party providers, in response to the issue of passport data disclosed by Secretary Locsin over the weekend. She said that there is a need to step up standards when it comes to data protection and security especially if data management is handled by third-party contractors. There is also a need to know which agencies are prone to data “hostaging” so that this issue will not happen again, and like what happened in the Land Transportation Office and the National Bureau of Investigation, where there was a stoppage of operations and vital public services were affected.11

In a related statement, the Commission on Human Rights urged the government to identify accountabilities in the supposed data breach, saying it is important to uphold “the right to privacy in preserving human dignity as stated in various human rights documents, including the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Data Privacy Act of 2012”. It added that the passport data mess “poses grave national security issues, especially since the said data contain sensitive, personal information of Filipino passport holders.”11

The following day, January 15, Secretary Locsin took back his word and said that the former passport contractor did not run away with the data, but only made them inaccessible.2, 5 He said that “the DFA is taking the word of passport contractor APO Production Unit, a company under the Presidential Communications Operations Office11, that there is no breach in Filipino’s data” and there is “sufficient justification in removing the birth certificate requirement in the renewal of passports.”4

Secretary Locsin said that former contractor, French firm Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare would not compromise another country’s security despite making the data inaccessible and that “they do not want to occupy us”.11

He also clarified that it was not possible for a contractor to have run away with personal data of those affected by the data breach at the DFA.11

Even former DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., said Oberthur could not have run away with personal data of passport holders. He said that Secretary Locsin may have been misinformed about the supposed data breach. He added that the French firm withdrew from the agency when its contract expired. According to him, saying that Oberthur ran away with data would be “completely false and malicious”. He also told ANC’s “Headstart” on January 15, Monday, that “the only reason, compelling reason, I can see is because they wanted to deflect the real issue of the passport mess, which is awarding the production of the passport from an end-to-end basis”.11

Secretary Locsin posted on Twitter that the “data is not run-away-able but made inaccessible. Access denied. But APO assured me that they were able to access but not much use and parts corrupted”. 11

He revealed that APO agreed with him that old passports would be the best evidence of identity.11

He added, however, that “only a Senate investigation will assure the public that there was no breach or loss of data. Until then, the Department can give no assurances on the safety and security of some data.”4

In an interview, Secretary Locsin appealed for the public’s understanding as the agency tries to swiftly resolve issues in the processing of Philippine passports. 3

Here are my comments:

  1. Finally, a sigh of relief for the latest development of no longer requiring a birth certificate to renew a regular Philippine passport!
  2. I also commend Malacañang for its wisdom as well as its concern for all Filipinos by rejecting DFA’s original decision to require such a document for regular passport renewal. I totally agree, no red tape please, in any government agency!
  3. I likewise concur with DFA’s 4 premises, cited as bases for the said order1:

a. Every Filipino has the constitutional right to travel which cannot be impaired, except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.

Definitely, an internal problem, or change of passport maker contractors, should never create an additional requirement for renewing one’s regular passport!

b. Republic Act No. 8239, or the “Philippine Passport Act of 1996”, imposes only minimum documentary requirements for the application and issuance of regular passports and other travel documents.

So, why did DFA Assistant Secretary (ASec) Cato immediately announce the birth certificate requirement for regular passport renewal, only for Secretary Locsin to take it back days after, thereby causing unnecessary stress among concerned Filipinos?

c. Section 7 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Passport Act does not require the presentation or submission of birth certificates in the renewal of passports, and instead requires only the submission of a duly accomplished application form and the old passport, unless there is a change in the status of the applicant or change in the passport entries.

Again, with this provision in the IRR for passport issuance, why did an ASec immediately announce an additional passport requirement, when it will only be overturned by the DFA Secretary himself, days after?

d. The DFA recognizes the need to enhance the convenience of, and unburden the public and passport applicants from unnecessary requirements for the renewal of passports.

So, dear DFA officials, always bear this in mind when a decision has to be made re this matter.

We, Filipino Senior Citizens, hope that we will not be stressed again re the renewal of our passports since we just want to enjoy our remaining/limited traveling years. Thank you very much!

4. The National Privacy Commission (NPC) must immediately release the results of its investigation re this issue and make a formal announcement for all concerned Filipinos to understand what really happened.

5. Yes, as a Filipino, I am looking forward to a Senate inquiry to get the whole picture of what happened, determine who is/are at fault, ascertain if there is any breach in Filipino privacy, and come up with measures so that this will not happen again, not only in the DFA, but other government agencies as well.

6. The DFA should explain why they had to change the passport maker and why the former system was not made accessible/compatible with the system of the new contractor? Is there really a need for a new contractor to begin with? Can’t the former contractor upgrade its technology/system to meet the new requirements of DFA? I am not techie but should there have been a turnover of data for the smooth operation of passport making?

DFA should be transparent with the terms and conditions of the contract with the new passport maker, with appropriate safety nets as to the privacy of Filipino passport holders, and technical protocol so that this issue will not happen again.

7. In this fast-paced world of technology, other Philippine government agencies must learn from this issue, and ensure that they will not experience this kind of technological problem when it comes to third-party contractors.

The Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) ID, for instance, will soon be implemented. The lead agencies must be careful in choosing a reputable contractor and come up with a contract which will ensure that the system is safe so all Filipinos will be assured that their personal information is safe and there will be no red tape ever!

Did you find this post informative? What are your comments re this issue? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box.

Please also scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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1https://dfa.gov.ph/dfa-news/dfa-releasesupdate/19085-dfa-department-order-on-the-documentary-requirements-for-the-renewal-of-regular-passports

2https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/681538/birth-certificate-no-longer-needed-in-renewing-passport-locsin/story/

3http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/10590177

4https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/01/15/1885356/locsin-signs-order-ending-birth-certificate-requirement-passport-renewal#0txzR2KWprkWuhf2.99

5 https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/01/15/19/no-need-for-birth-certificate-to-renew-passport-locsin

6https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/01/12/1884444/dfa-passport-maker-runs-all-data

7https://globalnation.inquirer.net/172423/bring-birth-certificates-when-renewing-passports-dfa

8https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/01/12/19/national-privacy-commission-to-probe-dfa-passport-data-mess

9https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/01/12/19/locsin-says-pissed-contractor-took-all-passport-data

10https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/01/14/19/cumbersome-palace-rejects-birth-certificate-requirement-for-passport-renewal

11https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/01/15/1885309/passport-data-not-run-away-able-says-locsin#4jPMO6mszgErkHGD.99

Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT IS SIMBANG GABI?

The celebration of Christmas in the Philippines is known to be one of the biggest holidays in the country and the longest Christmas season in the world. Christmas carols are played as early as September 1,and the season ends either onEpiphany1, on the Feast of the Black Nazarene(January 9), or on the Feast of the Santo Niño(the third Sunday of January).

A Christmas tradition among Filipinos is Simbang Gabi. Well, Tita S is here to tell foreigners what it is all about.

Simbang Gabi (Filipino for “Night Mass”) is a devotional nine-day series of masses practiced by Roman Catholics and Aglipayans4 in the Philippines in anticipation of Christmas. A well-known folk belief among Filipinos is that if a devotee completes all nine days, a request made may be granted. It is the Filipinos’ spiritual preparation for Christmas.

It is similar to the nine-day series of dawn masses leading to Christmas Eve, practiced in Puerto Rico called Misa de Aguinaldo.

Seniors, if you are physically fit, sleep early so you can attend Simbang Gabi, and not doze off during the sermon portion of the mass. Joke only!

Filipinos attend Simbang Gabi at dawn and sacrifice to wake up early as a gesture of their gift to God, and as a form of gratitude to Him for giving His only Son, Jesus Christ, the ultimate gift that all can receive.5

0-pagsajan-church-textOur Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church, Pagsanjan, Laguna, Philippines, alit for Simbang Gabi 2018

These masses in the Philippines are held daily from December 15-24, and occur at different times, ranging from as early as 3:00 am to 5:00 am. Some churches celebrate this mass between 8:00 and 10:00 pm, from December 15 to 23, to accommodate the needs of the parishioners who have different schedules.

befunky-collageChristmas decoration inside St. John the Baptist Church, Longos, Kalayaan, Laguna, Philippines (photo by Maybelle Rabisanto)

On the last day of the Simbang Gabi, which is Christmas Eve, the service is instead called Misa de Gallo (Spanish for “Rooster’s Mass”).

Just how did Simbang Gabi start?

Simbang Gabi originated in the early days of Spanish rule over the Philippines as a practical compromise for farmers, who began work before sunrise to avoid the noonday heat out in the fields. It began in 1669, when priests started to say mass in the early mornings instead of the evening novenas6 so the farmers could attend.

Pope Sixtus V7 ordered that the masses be held before sunrise since it was harvesting season and the farmers needed to be in the fields right after the celebration.

The mass, nowadays, may begin at 4:00 am. Churches are decorated with colorful lights and parollanterns.befunky-collageA Christmas tree and a Nativity Scene outside the Santa Maria Magdalena Parish Church, Magdalena, Laguna, Philippines (day and night photos by Venus Buenaceda-Calo)

The Belen, or Nativity Scene, is displayed in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ.49661535_308423833116652_9175900746879598592_nNativity Scene inside the San Sebastian Parish Church, Lumban, Laguna, Philippines (photo by Rodalyn de Guzman)

Traditionally, after mass, Filipinos bought native delicacies and drinks sold in the church courtyard for breakfast like bibingka9, hot pandesal10, puto bumbong11, tsokolate12 and salabat13.

Rice-based foods were traditionally served to fill the stomachs of the farmers, since rice is a cheap and primary staple. The kakanins14 were full of carbohydrates needed by colonial Filipinos for the work they undertook in the rice paddies and sugar mills.

Nowadays, other food and beverage items are offered, e.g., puto15, suman,16 arroz caldo17, and kapeng barako18.

So, dearest foreign Seniors, now you know more about Filipino culture. Why not plan a Christmas vacation in our country next year, especially those of you residing in temperate countries, so you can not only witness our Christmas traditions but also enjoy sunny beaches in any of our wonderful islands. See you around!

The information mostly came from Wikipedia page “Simbang Gabi”.19

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your comments on Simbang Gabi. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy to Google such terms:

1Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. In the Philippines, it commemorates the visit of the Magi (named Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior) to the Christ Child, and is celebrated in different ways, e.g.,  children leave their shoes out so that the “Kings” will leave behind gifts like candy or money inside; or three men/boys who are dressed as kings, ride around on horseback, distributing trinkets and candy to the children of the area. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Epiphany (holiday)”.20

2TheBlack Nazarene is a life-sized, dark-skinned, image of Jesus Christ kneeling while carrying the Cross, enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in the Quiapo district of the City of Manila, Philippines, according to the Wikipedia page “Black Nazarene”.21

3Santo Niño is the Spanish title for the Child Jesus.

 4Aglipayans are the members of the Philippine Independent Church, an independent Christian denomination, with Gregorio Aglipay as its first Supreme Bishop, according to the Wikipedia page “Philippine Independent Church”.22

5www.businessmirror.com.ph

6A novena is an ancient tradition of devotional praying in Christianity, consisting of private or public prayers repeated for nine successive days or weeks, where a devotee makes a petition, implores a favor, or obtains graces by worshipping Jesus Christ, and asking for the intercessions of the Virgin Mary or the saints of the faith, according to the Wikipedia page “Novena”.23

7Pope Sixtus V, or Xystus V, (1521-1590) was the Pope of the Catholic Church from April 24, 1585 to his death on August 27, 1590, according to Wikipedia page “Pope Sixtus V”.24

8parol is an ornamental, star-shaped Christmas lantern in the Philippines, traditionally made out of bamboo sticks and covered by colored pieces of either Japanese paper or crepe paper. Its design evokes the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings to the manger. It also symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and the Filipinos’ hope and goodwill during the Christmas season. It is the iconic symbol of the Filipino Christmas, and is as important to Filipinos as the Christmas tree is to Western cultures. It comes in various sizes and shapes, but generally the basic star pattern remains dominant, from the small, tinsel and foil lanterns to the gigantic ones that are electrically lit at night, and may have one, three, or more tails aside from the ubiquitous two. More complex shapes are bromeliad, rose, sea urchin, and snowflake, among others. Pampanga lanterns now have electronic lights that can be programmed to produce a dancing effect, as is the use of LED rope lights, known as “flexilight” lanterns. The parol is displayed as a Christmas decoration until Epiphany.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Parol”.25

9Bibingka is a traditional rice cake in the Philippines made of rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, milk and water, traditionally cooked in clay pots lined with banana leaves with preheated coals top and bottom, usually enjoyed during the Christmas season, served hot or warm for breakfast or as a dessert. Toppings include butter/margarine, sugar, cheese, grated coconut and salted duck eggs26.

10Pandesal is a common yeast-raised bread roll in the Philippines made of flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, and salt. It is commonly served hot during breakfast, and originally consumed by dipping in coffee or hot chocolate drink. It can also be enjoyed with butter/margarine, cheese, jam or peanut butter. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pandesal”.27

11Puto bumbong is a traditional cylindrical, purple/violet, Filipino, steamed, sticky rice cake made from pirurutong (glutinous rice flour, soaked in salted water and dried overnight) with violet coloring, placed into bumbong (bamboo tubes) attached to a lansungan (steamer) then steamed until done (i.e., when steam rises out of the bamboo tubes). The cooked sticky mixture is tapped out of the bamboo tubes, traditionally onto a banana leaf, with a dollop of margarine/butter, then topped with a mixture of freshly grated coconut and (muscovado28 or white) sugar. It is then wrapped and kept warm in a (thermal) container.

12Tsokolate is a native Filipino thick hot chocolate drink made from tabliya, tablets of pure ground roasted cacao beans, dissolved in water and milk. It is traditionally made using a tsokolatera29 and briskly mixed with a wooden baton called the molinillo30 (also called batidor or batirol), causing the drink to be frothy. It is typically sweetened with a bit of muscovado28, and has a distinctive grainy texture. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tsokolate”.31

13Salabat is the Filipino term for hot ginger tea, enjoyed as is, or with a sweetener.

14Kakanin is the Filipino term for a common native snack in the Philippines, consisting of various kinds of rice cakes. NOTE: Kakanin comes from the word “kanin”, meaning “prepared rice”.

15Puto is a traditional, round (like a cupcake), soft, moist, Filipino, steamed rice cake, served for breakfast or merienda32, usually as an accompaniment for dinuguan33 or pancit34 (Filipino stir-fried egg noodles with sliced meat, shrimps and chopped vegetables). A small amount of wood ash lye can be added, especially in the Tagalog region of the Philippines. There are many kinds of puto and modern variations are available in various colors and sizes. Puto can be eaten as is, or with butter and/or freshly grated coconut.

16Suman is a Filipino rice cake made from glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk, often wrapped in banana leaves or buli/buri (Corypha) leaves for steaming, usually eaten sprinkled with sugar, or laden with latik35. There are many varieties of suman. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Suman (food)”.36

17Arroz caldo is a Filipino rice and chicken porridge or gruel, heavily infused with ginger, and garnished with toasted garlic, scallions, and black pepper, usually served with calamansi37, soy sauce, or patis (fish sauce) as condiments, as well as hard-boiled egg. Most versions also add kasubha (safflower) which turns this dish to turn almost yellowish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Arroz caldo”.38

18Kapeng barako is a very strong coffee with a fragrance reminiscent of aniseed, grown in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. It is also called Batangas coffee or Barako coffee. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kapeng barako”.39

19“Simbang Gabi,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simbang_Gabi.

20“Epiphany,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany.

21“Black Nazareme,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Nazarene.

22“Philippine Independent Church,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Independent_Church.

23“Novena,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novena.

24“Pope Sixtus V,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Sixtus_V.

25“Parol,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parol.

26A salted duck egg is a preserved food product made by soaking duck eggs in brine or packing the eggs in damp, salted charcoal. In the Philippines, the eggs are traditionally dyed red to differentiate it with fresh duck eggs. It is used as a topping for bibingka9, or mixed with chopped, fresh tomatoes and scallions, onions and fish sauce, as a side salad for fried fish.

27“Pandesal,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandesal.

28Muscovado is a partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor. It is considered a healthy alternative to refined sugar due to higher levels of minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium). It is used in various food and confectionery, like puto bumbong11 in the Philippines.

29A tsokolatera is the Filipino term for chocolatera, a Spanish/Latin-American type of high-necked metal pot shaped like a pitcher used for the traditional preparation of tsokolate12, used in combination with a molinillo30 baton to froth the chocolate. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Chocolatera”.40

30A molinillo is a traditional turned wood whisk used in Latin America, as well as the Philippines, where it is called batidol or batirol. It is used primarily for the preparation of hot beverages like tsokolate12, held between the palms and rotated by rubbing the palms together, creating a frothy drink. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Molinillo (whisk)”.41

31“Tsokolate,”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsokolate.

32Merienda is a light and simple meal in the Philippines, southern Europe and Hispanic America. In the Philippines, it is taken for brunch or mid-afternoon (called merienda cena), often consisting of a beverage (coffee, hot chocolate, juices, spirits) and a sweet/savory bread/pastry, desserts/sweets or kakanin, street food, noodle dishes, or other Filipino snacks. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Merienda”.42

33Dinuguan is a Filipino savory stew usually made of pork offal (typically ears, heart, intestines, kidneys, lungs and snout) and/or meat simmered in a rich, spicy dark gravy of pig blood, garlic, chili and vinegar, according to the Wikipedia page “Dinuguan”.43

34Pancit is the Filipino term for noodles, introduced by the Chinese, and adopted into the local cuisine, with many regional variations. The noodles are stir-fried, often with sliced meat, shrimps and assorted/chopped vegetables.

35Latik, in the Visayan region, is a syrupy caramelized coconut cream used as a dessert sauce, derived by reducing coconut milk and sugar, used to sweeten kakanins14 like suman16, according to the Wikipedia page “Latik”.44

36“Suman (food),”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suman.

37Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient.

38“Arroz caldo,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arroz_caldo.

39“Kapeng barako,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapeng_barako.

40“Chocolatera,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolatera.

41“Molinillo (whisk),” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molinillo.

42“Merienda,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merienda.

43“Dinuguan,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinuguan.

44“Latik,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latik.

Say, Say, Say! – 2019 ADDITIONAL RENEWAL REQUIREMENT FOR PHILIPPINE PASSPORTS ISSUED BEFORE 2010

NOTE: See the update re this issue in a related post: Say, Say, Say! – The 2019 RENEWAL OF PHILIPPINE PASSPORT ISSUE

Have you heard the latest news re the DFA and renewal of Philippine passports for 2019? If not, read on!

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., announced that the Department of Foreign Affairs needs to rebuild their “files from scratch because [their] previous outsourced passport maker took all the data” when its contract was terminated. 1

He added: “Because [the] previous contractor got pissed when terminated it made off with data. We did nothing about it or couldn’t because we were in the wrong. It won’t happen again.2 Passports pose national security issues and cannot be kept by private entities. Data belongs to the state.”1

So, what are you waiting for, dearest Filipino readers? Recall the year when you got your passport or go to your drawer and check the year when your passport was issued.

If your passport was issued 2010 or later, breathe deeply, and consider yourself lucky because you are not affected at all! Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato said that “passports issued after 2009 need not submit their birth certificates as the digital copy of said document has already been captured and stored in our database”.3 And more importantly, your personal information is still intact in the DFA’s database, thank God!

However, if your passport was issued on 2009 or earlier, you are definitely affected! You have to present your birth certificate when you renew your passport. So, better locate your NSO birth certificate. What? You do not have one? Well, you need to apply for one and you can get it within three working days. However, I think your more urgent concerns are: that the birth certificate you submitted to the DFA office when you applied for your passport was taken away by a private firm whose services were terminated by the former, and that your privacy could have been breached!

DFA Assistant Secretary Cato said that “applicants renewing brown or green passports or maroon machine-readable passports are required to submit birth certificates because we need to capture and store the document in our database as we no longer have the physical copy of the document submitted when they first applied”.3 Recall that before the country transitioned to the e-passport, the DFA required the submission of physical copies of birth certificates and marriage contracts, he said.1

According to Cato, the DFA stopped issuing the machine readable-ready and machine readable passports (MRP) around 2010 to 2011. He said electronic passports or “e-passports” are passports which contain a microchip.2

Furthermore, Cato said that there are still Filipinos who are in possession of expired MRP or older passports which have not been renewed yet.2

Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, demanded an explanation how a privately contracted firm can take an entire physical database of all Filipino passport holders and why the firm is not being sued. She said it “indicates a serious national security risk” and that the data should “be retrieved completely and with the highest sense of urgency and priority. Apart from that, the people responsible for such a gross display of incompetence should be held fully responsible.”3

Personally, I think that the victims of this unexpected data acquisition and additional passport renewal requirement are the Filipino people!

  1. Each responsible entity, especially a government agency like DFA, must have a disaster recovery system stipulated in any electronic-related contract, for a very confidential and important document, like a passport. If ever DFA would change contractors, the compatibility of the old system with the new one should be stipulated in the contract as well. So, pray tell us, DFA authorities, why can you mot recover the needed information so we need not submit a birth certificate to renew our passports?
  2. Our private information was obtained without our knowledge and consent! Is it really true that the passport maker could “run away” with such confidential data? Was this event not forseen by DFA authorities and stipulated in the contract? How assured are Filipino passport holders that their privacy is protected? How can we, Filipinos, be sure that such information will be kept private,  not only by DFA, but other government agencies as well, and will not be used for whatever purpose?
  3. This is compounded by an additional requirement for renewing our passports! Why do we have to suffer as a result of this DFA issue? Can our old passports suffice to prove our identity for passport renewal?

In fact, why can’t passports of adult Filipinos be renewed online at this day and age of technology, i.e., without personal appearance?

Recall that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Philippine Identification System Act (R.A. 11055) on August 6, 2018. Senator Panfilo Lacson, the author of the Senate bill on the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) ID, pointed out that the information gathered for this ID is already present in other government issued IDs such as voters’ IDs, passports and driver’s licenses. The PhilSys ID will store 13 sets of information, like full name, sex, birth date, birthplace, and photograph of the bearer, among others. I got this information from Wikipedia page “Philippine identity card”.4

Therefore, I am requesting the full implementation and funding of this ID system this year, 2019, so that ALL government agencies can get their act together and require less documents to be submitted for renewal thereafter, like DFA for the renewal of our passports! I also strongly plead for this ID system to be awarded to a reputable company who will handle the database with the best possible security features so that all Filipinos will be confident that their privacy will not be breached.

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1https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/01/12/1884444/dfa-passport-maker-runs-all-data

2https://globalnation.inquirer.net/172423/bring-birth-certificates-when-renewing-passports-dfa

3https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/01/12/19/locsin-says-pissed-contractor-took-all-passport-data

4“Philippine identity card,” accessed January 12, 2019, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_identity_card.