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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I shouldn't drive in EDSA...

because I'd be looking staring at this...

Baket naman kelangan idisplay ang hotness na itow?! Kakaloka!

They are the Philippine Volcanoes, our national rugby team... Volcanoes? they've ran out of names so they settled for that?

(and do they really need to be THIS goodlooking?!!!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mega Pan de Sal at Pan de Amerikana

Pan de Amerikana is not a bakery owned by an American nor a franchise of a bakeshop in the US. It started as a bakery in 1950s, producing extender-free pan de sal baked from wood-fired oven. It is very Filipino - from the garden setup of their restaurant (in Marikina) adorned with antique wood tables, tree house and various assortments, down to their menu of local pinoy fares. 

It's the country's first chess-themed restaurant so it's no wonder there's chess everywhere. The owners were not content with putting up chessboard tables, but they also created a giant chess board with pieces imported from US.

The three and a half feet chess pieces, although made of plastic, are pretty heavy; my little girl had quite a struggle moving them from one square to another. It's as if they want visitors to exercise both brain and muscles too.

The surrounding is perfect for those who want to beef up their creativity, thus, the restaurant also serves as venue to various activities like Tai Chi classes, photography club gatherings and free art lessons.

Free wifi is also available which makes Pan de Amerikana a perfect hang out for bloggers and informal business meetings.

Aside from the garden restaurant, the reason why people from all walks of life troop to Pan Amerikana is their pan de sal.

Made of wheat and absolutely without any extenders, the bread is soft and tasty. Pan de Sal (bread with salt) is the most popular bread in the Philippines, although the name was of Spanish origin (probably because when pan de sal was invented, we're a Spanish colony).

The regular-sized pan de sal is at Php6 a piece and is way bigger than the version of Pan de Manila. For those with an appetite for anything huge, the giant pan de sal would definitely tickle one's fancy. Priced at Php55, it's both rewarding to the eye and to the tummy. Best served with coco jam or peanut butter (yummy!).

Breakfast, lunch and snacks are also served at the restaurant at very affordable prices but don't expect anything spectacular (I wasn't very impressed so I'd rather not elaborate).

Pan de Amerikana is located at 92 Ordonez St., Marikina City and is open daily from 6am to 7pm except Sundays, open until 3pm only.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Glimpse At The Juice Maker

Aunt Bell, my mom's sister, put into beautiful words memories of my dad, famous among relatives and friends for his fresh fruit juices, hand-squeezed and blended with love.

I've often told him how it's much practical to buy from the supermarket instead of spending hours squeezing kilos after kilos of oranges - no sweat and much cheaper. I guess, I never understood why Dad makes fruit juices for gatherings until I read this poem.

Anyone not close to our family may be surprised why my aunt wrote this poem. See, my dad is closer to my mom's siblings than to any of his own. He married my mom when my aunts were still in their teens and practically was like a real brother to them.

A Glimpse At The Juice Maker
(by Alma Bella Tabamo)

Rummaging through the files of the wondrous yesteryears
Finding some scribbled notes waiting to be raveled
A libretto for a man whose existence has determined
A prodigious respect on the clan, such commitment he extended.

Browsing down memory lane, the first time you visited
In denims and blue shirt, as my mom fondly commented
Is he a driver or a guard, the one she had dated?
As you seek my sister’s hand for love and eventual marriage

Pioneered the in-laws joining the family
Authored celebrations, the picnics and far-flung scenery
Fortified our minds on the value of camaraderie
Such wits and funny thoughts charmed us completely.

One cannot ignore, the way you quenched our thirsts
For the enormous endeavor on the juices you prepared
Not just on the heart’s desire for solidarity to create
And foment a speck of unity amidst the sudden illness.

In those moments of pain you fervently solicited
The value of oneness, an inscription of forgiveness
Break the barrier which may ravage the cloak of happiness
That the family has built come then rain or high waters.

Grateful as I am for the shelter you have shared
And allowed us to be recipients of your good-natured ways
In your home, where my mom was received like a queen
As well as all my kids who dwelled on its frame

In God’s call you heeded, now you’re gone for two years
No longer is the pain your body has to take
Your ears can no more hear the aura of silence
In the tong its table the absence can’t be witnessed.

How heavy was your heart when you did say goodbye
For failure to connect the circle to reconcile
A harmonious paragon of a trellis in tranquil minds
Like a torch that shall light our hearts with love’s fire

Au revoir mi hermano, thank you and I salute
For the concern and indisputable aim beyond repose
To leave a recuerdo, a relic of unforgotten virtues
Like the juices you have blended, not the taste but the purpose.

(In memory of my late brother-in-law, Mr. Rodolfo Obillo, in lieu of his 2nd death anniversary last June 3, 2011 likewise in celebration of Father’s Day.)

Happy Father's Day to all fathers both on earth and in heaven.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Free Coffee from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf :)

After Starbuck's 50% off on frap promo, here comes another specialty coffee shop offering for us to enjoy their coffee.. but this time it's FREE!!

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf will be treating everyone to free coffee starting 20 June 2011 through their Spread the Froth campaign.

Click HERE to get a cup of your favorite brew.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Roosters, Zebras and Birth Certificate Delivery

I love it how a lot of government agencies are optimizing the electronic age by putting up their own websites. But the best move they've made is making their services accessible through web as well. Technology lessens manual work and the less manual process is done, the less interaction people will have with government staff. We all agree - less interaction means less red tape.

For example, SSS now has their My.SSS portal where employers and members members can access their contributions and membership records, make online transactions, set appointments with their SSS servicing branch, and request copies of their records, as needed.

The same with DTI where your desired business name can be filed and approved online - no need to go through effing long lines for a business name application.

And there's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) where passport application became a long process of 4 months after they automate. Haller?!. I recently availed of DFA's passport application appointment system for my renewal and for Enoe's passport. I sought schedule in March and got an appointment for June. Walastik! (My experience merits a separate blog).

One of the requirements is an NSO copy of Enoe's birth certificate in secpa (security paper). I know I still have some copies stashed somewhere so I was very confident 'til a few days before our scheduled appearance at DFA when I decided to organize the requirements. Then I found out every single copy of Enoe's birth certificate have been submitted to various agencies when The Hubby filed for tax, social security, philhealth, etc. Ahhh procrastination at its finest!

I scrambled off my feet to get an NSO copy of Enoe's birth cert! I have little time and it was impossible to to go on the weekday since I've scheduled meetings already throughout the week. I was also very unsure of the queue so despite having second thoughts about NSO Delivery Service, I was left with no choice. I mean, our government agencies can be pretty inefficient with face to face transactions, what the hell more with virtual (online)?.

Anyhoo, I took my chances and requested  through the NSO hotline (powered by Teleserv). I realized this can be very tedious and time consuming (over the phone) especially with my son who has a kilometric name. I had to dictate his name and to make sure the agent got the correct spelling, she asked me to use phonetics where I am pretty bad at.

Agent: Name on birth certificate po?
Me: Rojan Zachary
Agent: Kindly spell and phoneticize.
Me: Okay, Rojan as in R-rooster, O-orange, J - jam, A - apple, N - nest. Then Zachary as in Z - zebra, A -apple again, C - charlie (a correct one at last!), H - hamster (I swear I wanted to kick myself already by this time), A - apple, R - rooster, Y - yoyo.

I must be thinking of Eone's alphabet books, dammit! Also imagine my struggle when I had to spell out my mega long full name. Jusko!

After the call, I immediately paid at Bayad Center (it was a Sunday) as I was told the posting will be at midnight and the 2-3 days processing starts after they receive payment.

Come Tuesday, 2Go delivered the document to me. Pretty fast! I was impressed and happy.

Then I opened the pack and found my son's birth certificate stapled with a newsprint or newsletter from NSO. To say the least, I was a dismayed. Should be no big deal as the document arrived whole and on time, but is this the way to handle an official document? They sent it to me bare and folded!

Also, the fee for this special service is Php330, and the NSO charge is only Php140. It means by availing of this service I am paying an extra Php190, but from that amount they couldn't even put my document in a proper envelope which may be worth just 50 cents?

It's great that people doesn't need to travel, fall in line and wait in order to obtain or avail of the services from select agencies. It's a welcome change. I'd say I am pretty okay with how my NSO request went, apart from the way they delivered the document which I would reiterate is a mediocre way of handling official document. They need to improve on that, really.

Their next step should be to enable filling up the request online so we don't have to call and dictate names. With all the long names we give to our kids, it's horrible. What if hindi marunong mag phoneticize? Tumbling na!

We still have a long way to go, but I am always optimistic despite having very little faith in our government. (Haha. Nakakalito ba?)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Exotic Dining at Balaw Balaw Restaurant

From my urban roots in Quezon City, I replanted myself in semi-rural Rizal after The Hubby and I tied the knot in 2002. Its proximity to Metro Manila (15 minutes from Pasig City) makes dwelling here convenient and relaxed without sacrificing access to the city life that I am used to.

Several years of being a Rizaleña and I have not explored the beauty of the province save for Antipolo City, a one-time visit to Binangonan (for my good friend Armie's graduation party back in 1996) and Montalban to visit Avilon Zoo. It is why when The Hubby had a whim to have lunch in Angono that I did not waste the chance. 

Angono is dubbed the 'Art Capital of the Philippines' and it is evident with all its landmarks  and tourist attractions of art galleries and studios. But aside from its artsy popularity, Angono is also known for the exotic dishes of Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant.

The dining area is small,  a bit cramped and can get very hot and humid during lunchtime. There is no airconditioning unit and electric fans are the only source of relief.

From their exotic menu, there's Uok (larvae of beetles found in coconut trees), Nilasing na Palaka (loosely translated to drunken frog - we ordered this), Kamaro (crickets), the dreaded Soup No. 5 (butt and balls of a cow), various dishes of Balut (unhatched duckling) and many more. It's like Fear Factor challenge but you'll have to pay for it :)

I read in some blogs that they also serve the extreme variety such as Pritong Bayawak (fried monitor lizard), Adobong Sawa (python), Tapang Usa (deer steak) among other items only the chef knows what else but for some reasons, these are not on the menu (or maybe we just didn't ask).

We didn't really know what to order and my companions (our whole household) are not the adventurous types so we ended up getting the Minaluto set. We chose the yellow rice minaluto dish in family size (Php1300) which the waiter recommended as it is apparently good for 4 (we're 5 adults and 2 kids). 

Our Minaluto was served in a huge kawa (wok) - yellow fried rice mixed with shrimp and chorizo, steamed crabs, mussels, prawn (medium size), crunchy squid (which really taste good), fried chicken, fried pork, salted eggs, okra, eggplant and kangkong. The serving is huge, we should have ordered only the medium size.

I was the one who insisted ordering from the exotic menu as I feel the whole exercise of going there was to sample exotic food. However, I was hesitant on getting a lot at it seems it's just me and The Hubby who will end up eating all of them - and I was in no mood for munching crawling objects that day.

To be safe, we got the Nilasing Na Palaka (frogs cooked in wine). I was expecting the dish with a sauce so imagine my reaction when I saw it's just deep-fried. It didn't even had any taste of wine. It felt like highway robbery for paying Php220 for this dish that has really nothing special about, well, except that they're frogs.

froggies na bubuka-bukaka, haha

A note for those planning to dine, they don't serve free water. Ask for water and bottled mineral ones will be served. To me that's quite a turn off, especially that they are not a cheap resto to begin with. A water purifier is a must for all restaurants or else, they should buy purified water from a refilling station (Php30 per 5 gallons). 

Suffice it to say the food did not 'wow' me but the pay off is the restaurant also serves as an art gallery of the owner, the late artist Perdiigon Vocalan.

I like how the entire establishment is decorated with paintings, wood sculptures, old capiz windows, stone sculptures and other works of art.

Huge heads made of paper mache are on display too. They are usually for the Higantes Festival, an annual event to honor Angono's patron saint, San Clemente.

I love the details of this wood sculpture

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant is at16  Don Justo, Doña Justa Village, Angono, Rizal.  Bring your camera to capture the rare gastronomic adventure.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Weekend Getaway: Canyon Woods, Tagaytay

If you're planning a weekend in Tagaytay and want a homey accommodation instead of the usual hotel experience, then Canyon Woods is the place to go.

Canyon Woods is the pioneer of the residential hotel-resort concept in Tagaytay. Its amenities are exclusive for property owners and club members, but if you to know someone who can extend his privileges to you, then you're one lucky dude!

Having said that the facilities are exclusive, I also meant to imply that they are impressive and in great condition. They better be since a club share is worth almost half a million pesos.

We were booked in 2 Casitas; each room is good for 2 to 4 people and is quite spacious (the accommodation privilege is actually a gift of my pretty aunt). Although obviously had not had any refurbishment in the recent years, rooms are in good condition and the furniture and fixtures are well appointed.

Breakfast is not included in the room but no need to worry as they serve breakfast buffet style at The Clubhouse for Php350 per head (that's the guest rate, for members it's only Php250 each). The food is so-so, the usual Pinoy fare of tocino, longganisa, tapa, eggs plus a few more. Not bad but could be improved.

When you're in Canyon Woods, there is hardly any reason to go out anymore. The resort offers plenty of outdoor activities for families or group of friends to enjoy. For the Kris Aquino type of people who hates the sun, a spa and gym await you at The Clubhouse. Just be patient when booking for a massage on the weekend as waiting time can be from 2 to 3 hours.

Both Little Sister and Eone want to try boating so despite my hesitation, I allowed Eone to go with them (after getting the assurance that Eugene, a Marine, definitely knows how to swim). We paid Php150 for an hour's use of the pedal boat and insisted for Eone to wear a life jacket.

While waiting for them, I learned from the staff that the 'lake' is only about 4 ft deep. Actually, what worries me is not the depth of the water, it's the algae and moss that have accumulated that surely could harm anyone, even an adult, if ingested. Anyway, they were tired after pedalling for an hour and I was relieved they didn't want a time extension.

The whole residential resort instantly gave me an ambiance of Baguio, and in the morning I actually felt like I was in Australia. Pines trees, paved roads, log-type cabins, country style houses and the cool Tagaytay weather all contributed to the luxurious ambiance of the resort. I love the feeling of being there.

For club shares and property inquiries, visit their website.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Duchess of Cambridge

Just when I thought we already have enough dogs to manage, along came a 3-month old female chihuahua straight to my lap.

I've been wanting to get a toy dog in the house, a pet small enough for the kids to manage and play with. Although with us for a couple of years already, we don't trust the huge breeds mingling with my kids. A playful nibble can turn bloody with a 80lb rottweiler. (My thought bubble a.k.a konsensya is telling me: same with how a naughty kick of my 5-year old can break the ribs of a chihuahua.)

Now comes the most awaited question. What do I call her? Hmmm.

No disrespect for Kate Middleton, but the whole brouhaha over the royal wedding must yield something memorable to me. I didn't watch those royalties wearing their house decors on their heads (oh, they're called hats?) for nothing.

And since I wasn't able to snag any royal wedding souvenir, then let me name my newest baby, Duchess of Cambridge.

What? Someone objects? You actually want me to name my chihuahua Princess Beatrice a.k.a Tangled Fallopian Tube Hat Girl?

No way. No freakin' way.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Remembering Daddy on His 2nd Angel Birthday

Dear Daddy,

It's been 730 days since you left. How are you? Or shall I instead ask, 'How are we?'.

I could say we are okay. We laugh, work, pray, celebrate occasions, fight (sometimes), kiss and make up - but we're never the same.

Life goes on, albeit hard, but go on it must. I think of you all the time, especially when I see my children and my nephews. I often wonder how spoiled they must be with you around, and how happy you will be with having little boys in the house, finally!

Anyway. here's a list of what happened the past year (from June 2010) while you are wandering in heaven...

1. My Enoe was christened in July, and the merry occasion was shared by Eone's 4th birthday celebration.

2. Little Sister got married in August. Jing took your place and walked her down the aisle. She looked pretty, ahem, that day (only. compliment expired the following day).

3. Mommy went to a week-long holiday in Palawan with her amigas then to Hong Kong with Mommy Alice. Explore galore!

4. Jeje turned two years old in December. They celebrated by sharing their blessings to select less fortunate kids.

5. We welcomed Baby Euan, Gie and Eugene's firstborn, to the world on February 17.

6. February 22nd marked Enoe's 1st birthday. We thanked God for his wonderful year by a party at Palladium. We ordered your favorite lechon.

7. Darling Sister and Jam moved to their own home in Cavite in April.

No matter what occasion we celebrate or commemorate, do know that you are not forgotten. We miss you a lot.

More than the photos we keep in our albums, your memories dwell in our hearts.

I love you, Daddy.
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