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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zoocobia, Children's Fun Zoo

Tucked in the corner of Clarkfield, Pampanga is a small zoo that is perfect for both children and adults, especially those who prefer to interact with the animals rather than watch them from a cage.

Aptly named Zoocobia Fun Zoo, it is located within Paradise Ranch Nature and Conservation Park near Clark Expo. I wouldn't have known this zoo existed if not for my colleague who lives in Mabalacat. Zoocobia is part of the Zoomanity Group that operates Zoobic Safari, Residence Inn and Paradizoo Park.

The zoo itself is relatively small and the number of animals are quite limited. Nevertheless, the visit was worthwhile as there are other attractions other than the zoo.

Guests can start with fishing in this small pond. Bamboo or stick fishing rods are sold at the souvenir shop (sorry I didn't get the cost) and baits sell for Php20.

They can also have their photos taken with the huge tiger stuffed toys. My 2 yr old son thought they are real at first and was hesitant to pose near them.

Inside the zoo...

Visitors are allowed to enter the huge bird enclosure where they can feed the birds and pet them. Bird feeds are sold at Php20 per pack.

Everyone can take photos with the animals or even touch them. Our tour guide was kind enough to assist us in taking photos with the birds.

from Harry Potter?
For an extra fee of Php50, you can have your photos taken with an albino Burmese python. It was a bit scary at first but once the cold, slithering animal settled around your neck, it becomes comfortable (eeewww!)
This bearcat freely moves around his 'territory' overhead of all visitors. For a closer encounter, guests can buy Php20 worth of banana to feed the bearcat.

Another animal encounter that kids will definitely enjoy is the bottle feeding of baby goats (kids). For Php20 a bottle, my kids had a grand fun time giving milk to 5 hungry babies. Made me wonder with all the tourists coming in, aren't they getting overfed?

If you didn't enjoy the animals, the Zooc ride will definitely take your fancy. It's like the luge ride at Sentosa, Singapore. The zoocs operate only on gravity so expect the track to be sloped and narrow. The fee per head for the short ride is Php75.

Still not satisfied with animal encounters, Zooc ride and fishing? There's a playground (near the ostrich enclosure) in the middle of the zoo where chickens, goose and other fowls roam around too, as if happy to join the kids.

And who can miss this giant slide which can take the guests from the Restaurant down to the zoo proper by the entrance to The Barn (where the goats, horses, camel etc are housed).

Other areas I did not take photos of are the Garden Maze (it's small and lonely and doesn't make sense at all), The Barn where animal shows are held daily on schedule and the small Bone Museum.
For souvenirs, the gift shop by the entrance sells stuff toys and other thingamajig.

Entrance fee to the zoo costs Php250. Please note that is only for Zoocobia as there may be different fees if you want to go futher and explore Paradise Ranch. In fact, visitors can purchase a day tour package for Paradise Ranch which includes entrance to Zoocobia, use of swimming pool, lunch and guided tour. Visit Paradise Ranch website for more details.
Tip for the wise and budget conscious: If you are keen and decided to go, you may purchase your ticket in advance through Zoomanity website. The tickets normally are with a discount :)
Have fun!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Martial Law Baby

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by then president Ferdinand Marcos. Many (victims) refer to that period as the longest and darkest 9 years of their lives.

photo from

The horrible stories of unwarranted arrests, harassment and torture of political enemies send shivers down my spine. I was actually born during this period? Unbelievable! How did my parents date, marry and want an offspring during this time when the future seem so dim? They said there was a curfew then and I wondered how my parents managed to drop me off my grandma's house during those nights I threw tantrums and wanted my Lola. And media was regulated? I was told nobody could utter anything against the administration, but how come my Lolo often cursed Marcos from head to foot?

I am a Martial Law baby but I have no recollection of what it was like then (I should thank God for that). In fact, the first time Marcos made a dent in my memory was when I heard from my cousin (who was then in HS) that Ninoy has been assassinated and that Marcos was to blame. Well I was only 8 then and how to perfect putting a pair of barrettes on my hair mattered more.

So today, as many Filipinos look back in 1972, my prayer goes to mothers whose sons and daughters were never found, to children whose parents are still out there buried somewhere, and to those who survived but are haunted by the painful memories.

God bless you all.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bonoyaki: Avoid by all means!

It was supposed to be a despedida dinner for my mommy-in-law but it turned out to be a goodbye dinner for the restaurant we dined in as I vow to NEVER eat there again, even if it's for free.
Yakiniku-type  Japanese buffet are popular now in the Metro so we're trying them out one by one. We've been to Sambokojin with my in-laws when they went home last year and the meal turned out good despite the horrible waiting time. The next we tried (3x) was Yakimix which is the most popular in this type of buffet offering. On all times we dined at Yakimix (and at different branches), we went home with filled stomach and happy faces.
I've seen Bonoyaki almost a hundred times since we regularly pass by Libis area. To make the long story short, I suggested that we try it out that evening.
I was already disappointed upon entering the restaurant. It was pale and unattractive compared to the upbeat and festive decor of Yakimix. I thought I could forgive that because, well, Bonoyaki is a little cheaper. However, their rate maybe low but the meat for grilling are limited and for seafood, customers need to order from ala carte (so if we do the math, they are actually MORE expensive!).

At the cooked food station, there were hardly anything good to choose from. I could have found consolation that there's a Kalbijim (korean beef stew) but the chafing dish was almost empty. By the way, it's only 7:30 in the evening when we arrived.
I asked the server/s if they would still refill and they said 'in a while' but we're almost done with our grilling and still, the chafing dishes were left empty. So, I asked again in the best manner I could muster (and that's really a big effort). I was told to just inform the waiters what I want from the buffet so they could serve on our table.

At the salad station - there's no salad! Again, I asked why and was told there were many diners who came earlier and they've ran out of ingredients. WTF! They should have just closed their restaurant for the day!

It's hard to decide what's for dessert when there's NOTHING to choose from!

This is their PATHETIC dessert which they tried to hype up by putting in individual saucers. Puto at kutsinta, WTF!

Their logo and ad materials say "Premium Seafood Family Restaurant" but ironically they only sell prawns for grilling (additional price from the buffet) or diners can order tempura. My daughter ordered tempura and even at a tender age of 6, she knows how a tempura should look and taste like. Bono Yaki's tempura is one of the most disappointing tempura I've come across.

As with the prawn for grilling which I tried to order, well, I was told they don't have any good ones anymore. Well, at least they didn't want to dig their grave any deeper by selling rotten prawns to their customers.

They should rename their restaurant as Bono-Yucky!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Let's Get Real, Pass the RH Bill!

The issue has been dragging for months now. The RH Bill that is. And many other 'hot topics' have sprung out from this proposed bill that's long been delayed both in the Lower and Upper House. These damn politicians are all playing safe in view of the upcoming mid-term elections.
Frankly, I am getting tired of hearing and watching the news about the RH bill. I support the passing of this bill if only for the inclusions of reproductive health benefits for women and I constantly go into battle for my opinion on this with my mother and some friends.
Those who oppose the bill often point out the section where funds are to be allotted to make contraceptives available for free in health care centers. I don't like this provision too, but do we throw away the entire pig because we don't like its tail?
I heard the Catholic Church is not willing to negotiate and revise the Bill. Same with some hypocrites from the government who keep saying the Bill is against their conscience. Funny, funny, funny! I hate it when thieves (and plagiarists) talk about conscience as if they have one.
Mind you, I, too, have read all the provisions, examined my conscience and then took my side. So why can't others do the same. Just vote Yes or No and then get it over and done with. Stop using this issue for grandstanding purposes.

After all that's been said for and against the RH bill, my take on it is plain and simple: It's not fair to let a poor child suffer for your 5 minutes of glory (only that short? wahaha, what a loser!). If you're not ready to care for another human being who will require time, energy, affection, patience, unconditional love, then keep those legs together. If you can't even afford a rubber, you can't also afford a weekly supply of infant formula, food, shelter, and tuition fee. Therefore, use the head above your shoulders not the one below your belt.
Sadly, very few will heed these simple 'rules' and leave it up to fate to decide if their egg and sperm meet. And more sadly, it is those already living below poverty line who will keep producing offspring as if just taking out cupcakes from the oven.
So bahala nalang si Batman? Batman is mega rich and can afford a condom. He is also just fiction. Poverty and overpopulation are glaring realities.
We need the RH Bill. Now.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten

Dear Daddy,

Happy 67th.

Contrary to your normal wish that we dont hold any celebration during your birthdays, we did get together on your natal day. We know naman you really want to be treated special, chuma-charing ka lang. Anyway, it's just a simple all-day eating spree, as you know that's what our family (and mom's clan) is famous for.

Mommy cooked, err, hmmm I forgot what mommy cooked (!) while I bought roasted chickens, cake, vegetable spring rolls and made macaroni salad. As usual Ate Tet brought one huge bilao of Pancit Malabon. It was supposed to be a simple lunch/dinner until Jam ordered one whole lechon! All these food to celebrate your beautiful life!

The house was filled with laughter once again and all your grandchildren had a blast running around playing. Only Eana was behaved today.

I need to ask you something, and it's okay if you will not answer. Are you the one Gelai saw standing beside the piano? The kid said she saw someone watching the celebration.

In my heart I wish you are still with us today, but I know you are in a better place now where pain and suffering does not exist. I may be consoled by that thought but it doesn't stop me from missing you.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I love you.

Your Kikay.

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