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 below for a related post – Binondo: A Quick Visit.

We 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.

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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 (bola-bola, chicken, fish, fish-bola, halo-halo, liver, kidney, or plain), siopao (asado, bola-bola, lotus, mongo and taipao) and siomai (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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Hot Tea

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

Lingnam-3-Chicken-Lugao       Lingnam-4-Halo-Halo-Lugao

 Chicken Lugao                                                 Halo Halo Lugao

Both lugaos were served hot, accompanied by fresh calamansi. 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.

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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!

Shanghai-Fried-Siopao-1

We shopped for awhile 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 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, machang, siomai and other cooked-food items, displayed on a small counter along the street.

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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!

Shanghai-Fried-Siopao-2

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.

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We 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 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 quekiam and siomai.

Manosa-3

 

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

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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 Chinatown. 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”. Thank you!

 

BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT

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

My husband and I were already in Metro Manila1 and decided to go to Binondo early for a quick and early visit since we haven’t been there for more than two decades.

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.

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I saw the familiar Welcome Arch and prayed we could get a parking slot.

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

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Memories 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  siopaos² at Shanghai Fried Siopao for takeout. Before we left for lunch elsewhere, we didn’t miss the chance to eat maki³ at Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant. Click below for the related post – Revisiting Binondo’s 3 Favorite Quick Treats.

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Finally, 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”. Thank you!


¹Metro Manila is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975; it is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. It is officially called the National Capital Region (NCR), composed of 16 cities (Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Novotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela) and the municipality of Pateros.

²Siopao is the Filipino version of the Cantonese steamed bun called cha siu bao, served hot as a popular snack item in the Philippines.

³Maki is a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, usually with chunks of tender pork. It is also called gawgaw in the Philippines because of cornstarch, the thickener used, and it is colored brown because of the soy sauce added, along with other seasonings.

 

 

LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR: A HERITAGE TREAT

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is an 18th-century heritage park and open-air museum located along Umagol River, in Barangay Pag-asa, in the town of Bagac, province of 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:

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

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

8--Las Casas-kalesa-MarissaDG

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

10-Las Casas-A-golf cart-MarissaDG

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

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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.

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

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 “amigas” or family. The tour starts at Casa Mexico.

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  • 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. Same tips as the previous tour.
  • 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.
  • 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 tapas 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, bibingka, puto bumbong and salabat.

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 race and a “palosebo” 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 (maglalatik, singkil and tinikling) 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: patintero, piko, sipa or sungka. 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 saya or barong.
  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 “bentosa”, “dagdagay” and “hilot”. 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 “batis”-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 wakeboarding, subject to weather and current conditions. Make it to Yasa Point for a zip line ride, ATV ride, mountain biking and wall climbing for the younger members of your family.

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.

Here are a few more information that might be helpful!

5-Las Casas-Casa Luna
Casa Luna

Casa Luna was built in 1850 and owned by Primitivo Novicio, the uncle of the famous Luna brothers: Gen. Antonio Luna and Juan Luna. It was originally located in Namacpacan (now Luna, La Union, named after the brothers). The house is symmetrically constructed and reflects the typical Ilocano 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.

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Casa Byzantina

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

13-Las Casas-Casa Mexico-Pampanga
Casa  Mexico Pampanga

Casa Mexico-Pampanga is a stone house from Mexico, Pampanga, was salvaged from a junk shop and reconstructed based on an old photograph.

Overall, this cultural escapade was memorable among 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. Do post your comment/s below. Thank you!

 

EL NIDO Part 2: Blue Lagoons

On our 3rd day in El Nido we had our 2nd tour, called TOUR A – BLUE LAGOONS, costing 1,200 per person. Join me as I recall this wonderful day!

We started the day with another hearty buffet breakfast at our El Nido hotel, Sea Cocoon! 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 for renting kayaks and for purchasing fresh buko/cold drinks, etc. After breakfast, we all met at the lobby, trooped again to the beach, and boarded our big “banca” (boat) for the day.

The first stop was SECRET LAGOON which can only be accessed by swimming through a small window-sized cave. Again, no worries, dearest seniors, the kind boatmen will always be ready to assist us seniors, your “apos” (grandchildren), and whoever else needs assistance. Once inside, you will not regret entering this beautiful pool of clear water surrounded by limestone formation and thus, another secret no more!

Next was SMALL LAGOON, located at the cove of Miniloc Island, enclosed by rock cliffs. It is best to rent a kayak since bancas are only allowed to dock about 50 yards from its entrance. Talk about El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area! The local government is really serious about protecting the areas in the various packaged tours.

Secure your safety vest, pay the kayak rental, ask someone you trust, or even one of your boatman, to join you in the kayak because the view is unforgettable! It is so easy to maneuver the kayak, just coordinate with your companion, get your rhythm, and voila, you are on your way to a beautiful site!

Of course, if there was a Small Lagoon, a BIG LAGOON would be next. This is the iconic symbol of El Nido, with 2 cliffs guarding the entrance. Again, rent a kayak to explore this lagoon. You can also snorkel, just be conscious of sea urchins.

2-El-Nido-Big Lagoon - 2- Ed Pingol

  Photos by Ed Pingol

The SHIMIZU ISLAND came next, ideal for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking. Our delectable grilled buffet was served in this island. Again our tummies were so happy while we devoured the yummy feast before us! The boatmen were systematic in clearing the make-shift dining area and disposed of all garbage! Now, this is how it should be; leave nothing on the islands except your footprints!

The last stop was 7 COMMANDOS ISLAND, a white sand party beach named after its original 7 inhabitants. Tourists tend to stay here to sunbathe, swim, snorkel, play volleyball, swing at the long-roped rubber tires, and for the men, girl watching! Now you can spend your cash for halo-lalo, mais con yelo, beer, cocktails, shakes, other cold drinks and other treats.

Personally, I appreciate the efforts of the local government to implement the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area in terms of tourism. Other than mechanized bancas which give livelihood to the local fisherfolks, there are no visible “gas-operated” water-sports like jet-ski, para-sailing, etc. Kayaks are used to explore the various lagoons and the motorboats are not allowed to go near them, thus, the water is not polluted in these awesome lagoons!

This was another amazing tour and a beautiful sunset awaited us along the shore, fronting our chosen restaurant for the night! Thanks, Gani Ricarte of Hello El Nido, for another unforgettable day! Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

Did you find this post informative? Have you experienced this package tour? I would like to hear from you. Please leave your comment/s below. Thank you.

ALTERNATIVE AND ACCEPTABLE IDS FOR FILIPINO SENIOR CITIZENS

Have you ever experienced changing your bag to fit your attire only to find out that you forgot your Senior Citizen Identification Card? Well, fear no more as long as you brought other acceptable documentation. And do not be intimidated by that counter personnel or cashier who will insist that their establishment only accepts the official Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) ID! Know your rights!

Article 5.5 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9994 clearly defines the senior identification document as ANY document or proof of being a senior citizen and shall be any of the following:

  1. The Senior Citizens’ ID Card issued by the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs in the city/town where the senior citizen resides;
  2. The Philippine passport of the senior citizen concerned; and,
  3. Other valid documents that establish the senior citizen as a citizen of the Republic and at least 60 years old, which shall include, but not limited to the following government-issued identification documents indicating a senior’s birth date or age: driver’s license, postal ID, Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Card, SSS/GSIS ID, and voter’s ID.

If you were ever in a senior-ID predicament, do share your experience by clicking “Leave a Reply” below this post, so we seniors can be made aware what to do if this ever happens to us. I’d love to hear from you, thanks!