Saturday, January 22, 2011

First weekend after New Year’s Day

Link: First weekend after New Year’s Day

I've been feeling listless since 2011 started so I decided to perk up my look with a haircut. Off to dinner.

The requisite appetizer sampler in Lu.

Great choice - turmeric chicken. The accompanying pomelo salad was addicting.

New on the menu: hangar…

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ilocos Diary: Vigan

                               Quaint shopping district

I went on a road trip to Ilocos this weekend, leaving Manila by car on Friday and returning via PAL Sunday evening. I had run out of daydreams. I had woken up from a two-hour nap, twice. And still we were an hour away from Vigan. My tummy was screaming for lunch. Finally, at a little past 3 p.m., I was fed and had enough energy to do some shopping at Calle Crisologo.

                                    The brand to look for

                                Bibingka to die for

                               Tinobong, another must-try

                              Capiz windows

                 Notice the fine details

        Brought back memories of youthful adventures

Posted May 17, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

You complete me.

Heavenly Gestures

I’m going on a road trip to Laoag and Pagudpud tomorrow for the book that I’m writing. I’ve been to those places before but I’m sure I will still discover something new. The thrill of that prospect, of discovery, of expansion, is not lost on me. Yet the aching to go is not as urgent as it used to be. For the first time, I feel quite settled where I am. Maybe it is the company I keep. I feel loved. And, although my life is far from perfect, nothing is broken. I still bear scars, but I feel whole.

Posted May 13, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com



There are days when things just fall into place. This was such a day. Things didn’t go according to plan but all my needs and expectations were met. Thank you, thank you.

Posted May 8, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

A truffle (or two) a day...

…Keeps the doctor away. I brought home a box of Paulene Chocolats truffles last night after I got to try them over dinner at Cuillere with ex-Businessworld friends. They were so fantastic that I decided to bring home the indulgence. I used to rely on Trufettes de France in Shangri-La Plaza, and relatives and friends from abroad to send Trader’s Joe’s French Truffles for my supply. Now I’m glad I have another source. Paulene Chocolats’ truffles are handmade and each box comes with a variety of flavors, which makes it even better.

I was supposed to fly to Puerto Princesa yesterday with Fay and Ivan, but Fay had a medical emergency so we decided to postpone. It was a welcome postponement. I was iffy about traveling right before the elections and, in hindsight, I got to enjoy such an indulgent meal at Cuillere (the seabass and squid ink risotto were THE BOMB). I had turned down the invitation from Larina weeks ago, but when Mike called to remind me about it and I happened to be in town, I decided to go. It was nice to see old friends and get reminded about our beginnings. I’m quite proud of our BW batch. I think most of us are doing pretty well. In my case, I have a lot to thank Mike for because of all the generous opportunities he had given me even after I resigned. It was great to see Carla, strong and fully recovered after her battle with the big C. Marif seemed completely settled with the BF and their life in Mozambique. Rina, Rose and Manny were their crazy, irreverent selves as usual.

Cuillere Serendra
(beside Fez, same row as Larry’s Bar)
Tel. No. (+632) 856-3325

Posted May 8, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Finally, a decent cafeteria.

I very rarely went to the old ground floor cafeteria in my office compound because everything tasted the same and the garish lights were depressing, not to mention the dubious sanitation. So when another concessionaire came to the picture, I knew things can only get better. I’m quite happy with the way Creative Recipes perked up the place with pin lights, new tables and chairs in yellow and black, and sleek aluminum tray slides. Better yet, the food had more variety, from the main concessionaire as well as kiosks by Country Style (deli-type offerings that include sandwiches and pastas, bagels and donuts), Frutas (fruit shakes), Organo Gold (coffee), Mister Siomai, Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs and Bicho Boy. I hope a new menu will be introduced regularly because, if you’re like me who has been working in this company for 10 years, you’ll inevitably tire of the same selection. I heard the 17th floor Executive Lounge was spruced up as well. Maybe tomorrow.

Posted May 5, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011

O happy day.

April 27, 2010. It needs to be marked. When I heard the news, I felt giddy with happiness. I didn’t realize that this could be extremely liberating.

Posted April 27, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Fresh catch

Nature’s fickle mood once again prevailed on me when my much-anticipated trip to Palaui island was canceled due to inclement weather. Yes, it can happen even in the height of summer and in the midst of a crippling El Nino. Just the day before, the fields were pitifully parched as the sun flared with blistering heat. But when morning came, it brought along the rain accompanied by vicious winds that prevented all boats from venturing out of Port Vicente.

I consoled myself by revisiting Anguib Beach, which was accessible by land via a partially constructed cement road. Under the overcast sky, the white arc of beach I saw the day before had turned into a dull ecru. The shore was littered with natural debris from the sea mixed with plastic leavings from group outings. What was heretofore a placid beach was overrun by thick curls of white foam that beat the shore with might. But even bad weather could not stop weekenders from having a good time. Many of them were busy setting up their lunch at the thatch-roofed picnic huts. Seafood was a common fare. Being so near the source, dorado, blue marlin, flying fish, and even barracudas were in abundance at the market and at such low prices that anyone can afford to indulge. Barracudas were sold at 80 pesos per kilo while large crabs can be had for only 250 pesos per kilo. Lobsters were a prime catch, of course, particularly the derosas kind, which is harder to catch and a favorite among Chinese tourists. Derosas were sold at 1600 pesos per kilo.

I couldn’t wait for the next day to bring home my live crab purchase for cooking so I ended up treating myself to a grand seafood meal of chili crabs and prawns at Jotay’s restaurant. And as if that weren’t enough, we also ordered adobong squid, dinakdakan and pork sinigang. Such a kingly meal good for four people cost only 1500 pesos including drinks.

Posted April 28, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Homeward bound

I’ve never looked at Cagayan as a tourist destination. To me, it has always been home. So the idea of going sightseeing there was quite new to me. But I welcomed it because I had been hearing great things about the developments in Sta. Ana, a remote northeastern town. The three-and-a-half hour drive from Solana, my hometown, was bearable because the roads were good. But it was a relief to finally arrive at our destination and stretch my legs. We passed by Port Irene and Eastern Casino on our way to Sun City where we were booked.

Sun City is the only luxury resort development in the area and it caters mainly to the Chinese crowd who come to Sta. Ana straight from Xiamen and Guangdong and other parts of China and Taiwan. I was impressed when I saw solar panels powering every villa, and was even more awed when I saw the interior of our three-bedroom villa. It had all the requisite features of a five-star villa such as flat-screen TV in every room, rainshower heads, king beds and free wi-fi. The design was a tastefully curated mix of Asian, not the dragons and jade sensibilities of a tacky Chinese restaurant, but beige and white drapes, dark wood furniture, muted green walls with spare touches of gold and taupe and brocade from the bedside lamps and cylindrical chandelier.

The villas alone were impressive enough but the real shock came by way of the infinity pool, fully equipped gym and posh spa. They were certainly not what you’d expect to see in such a remote place.

Posted April 26, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

A Choc-Nutty day

Truffles hits all the right spots for me but there are days when nothing can quite do the job but Choc-nut. Today was such, and I was happy that this simple pleasure was at hand.

I remember having a particularly bad day one time, so I drove to Podium Mall and bought a gold-wrapped bar of Gianduja chocolate at Leonidas. I went straight back to my car and, in private, savored the smooth milk chocolate with hints of hazelnut. I felt better immediately. And now, I have completely forgotten the awful thing that must have triggered my distress, but I still remember how soothing that Gianduja was.

Chocolates do this to me. And with Choc-nuts, the mix of peanuts, milk, sugar and cocoa powder is redolent of my childhood and brings on an extra warmth.

Posted April 19, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Sunday Feast

It’s hard not to notice the brisk business that Choi Garden has been doing since it replaced Country Waffles on Annapolis St. in Greenhills (Country Waffles was briefly replaced by another same-concept restaurant but it was forgettable). Its parking lot and the nearby street parking areas are often packed, which always prompts me to drive past it. I was about to do the same last Sunday when I noticed one vacant slot just in time. Fate.

And as Fate would have it, I sated myself Sunday night with crisp Peking duck skin mellowed out by slivers of leeks and cucumber and a dab of hoisin sauce, and wrapped for the perfect bite in a thin floury pancake. Heaven. After five rolls of duck skin, another word came to mind. Coma. The duck skin would have been enough but we also had the meat served minced (lettuce-wrap-style) and ordered yang chow fried rice and sweet and sour pork. It was a meal for four enjoyed by two. But such is a meal you never regret.

Choi Garden

12 Annapolis St. corner Purdue St.
San Juan, Metro Manila
Call: (+632) 727-6042

Posted April 19, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Comfort food

We had our regular training run at The Fort last night, and I’m glad to report that my time has vastly improved. It’s good to keep pushing. After our run, we decided to treat ourselves to California Berry frozen yogurt (original flavor topped with M and M’s). For dinner, we decided to try a new place at the Deutsche Bank building that K described as a “sosyal na cafeteria.” I didn’t realize how aptly described it was until I saw the place, with its stainless steel tray slides and finishing, helmet-shaped drop lamps and chalk-scribbled menu. I thought it was cool. That it was open 24 hours from Monday to Saturday made it even better.

Food offered is mainly lutong bahay (home cooking). I ordered monggo guisado and chicken adobo, a perfect pairing. If I hadn’t had my yogurt dessert earlier, I would have ordered some kakanin, which they had plenty of.

Dell’s Foodhall, The Fort
G/F Net Quad Bldg., 30th St. corner 3rd Ave.
Taguig, Metro Manila
Call: (+632) 856-9592

Posted April 14, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Fro-Yo for ice cream lovers

I was craving for ice cream earlier but I knew I had reached my quota for the week. Since I was in Shangri-La mall, I decided to try a frozen yogurt place called Golden Spoon, which I first read about in Chuvaness’s blog. I chose the non-fat strawberry flavor with raisins and M and M’s on top. The smallest serving is about 100 calories so I thought I could afford the indulgence. It tasted creamy and rich just like regular ice cream although it wasn’t as redolent of strawberries as Selecta’s Berry Strawberry. I missed the tartness I found in most frozen yogurts. But for an ice cream lover who can’t afford the extra calories, this is a miracle.

Posted April 11, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

I Heart: Garmin Forerunner 110

I’ve been looking for a GPS receiver and heart rate monitor for some time now to help me track my runs and I considered buying the Garmin Forerunner 305 because of the good feedback I’ve been getting from friends who use it and its sweet price ($151 on Amazon.com). I just couldn’t imagine it on my wrist because it looks too bulky. Just a while ago, I started searching for alternatives. I found Timex’s GPS-enabled triathlon watch, which is due to launch in September. Then I found this — the Garmin Forerunner 110, which will be available this quarter. I couldn’t take my eyes off the pink and gray version. Isn’t it a looker? Feminine but not girly. Loveet.

Posted April 9, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

My downfall

I love strawberries in ice cream form, especially when it’s as rich and creamy as Chef Jay Gamboa’s Berry Strawberry for Selecta. This is my potato chips. Once I start, I can’t stop.

Posted April 9, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

In good company

Everything grinds to a halt on Good Friday so I keep myself occupied with reading. My chosen company last Friday was Joanne Harris’s Runemarks, which is an inspired spin on Norse mythology, with characters like Odin, Loki and Thor. It was a thick book and a strain to the eyes but I couldn’t put it down. I’ve always been a Joanne Harris fan since Chocolat. I have almost all of her books except Lollipop Shoes. This is the first time she has delved deeply into mythology and she has done an exemplary job. Can’t wait for the sequel.

Posted April 9, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Tsokolate eh

I am a big fan of tsokolate eh. When I was a child, this was what my lola traditionally prepared for me and my brother as merienda, served with any type of malagkit (glutinous rice) delicacy. It looked particularly quaint served in a pretty demitasse. So whenever I get the chance, I order tsokolate eh in place of dessert. Larry’s Bar’s version (shown here) is quite good and quite thick, so the serving size is appropriate. It had a nuttiness that made me linger on my drink, and I would have stayed longer if my legs weren’t attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes.

Larry’s Cafe & Bar
Serendra, The Fort
Call: (+632) 856-0526

Posted March 27, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

It's called Lu.

In my notebook, I keep a list of restaurants I’d like to try, along with other lists such as places to visit, movies to watch, things to learn, etc. One of them is Lu, a Mediterranean restaurant in Rockwell. I was glad that, for a stylish place like this, the ambience was relaxed and the attire casual (I was in slippers because I just had my nails done at Nail Spa in Shang).

I loved the trio sampler of dips (P300), particularly the silken hummus beirouty and pico de gallo. The grilled tomato and red bell pepper soup (P195) was well seasoned and flavorful. Too bad, my main course, the feisty Moroccan fish and shrimp brochette (P385), was disappointing. The fish was dry and the shrimp was gummy. But I intend to go back to try the turmeric chicken. I was glad to end the meal with baklava whose sweetness was just so.

Lu Restaurant, Rockwell
G/F Joya Bldg., Joya Drive, Rockwell
Makati City, Metro Manila
Call: (+632) 403-3991

Posted March 25, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Call him Bubba.

My heart skipped at the sight of Donsol Bay at low tide. There must have been 500 meters of shoreline, skimmed by the gold of the setting sun. I was there to witness the locals catch shrimp in a process called sudsud, one of the main sources of livelihood aside from fishing. During sudsud, the catcher scoops his net, braced by two side bars, into the water. Then he folds the ends together using the bars to trap the catch.

The shrimp catchers were a sight to behold at dusk. Against the sunset, with the two bars of their nets forming a V, they looked like birds about to take flight, their headlamps adding to the drama.

Posted March 24, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Market, market

Swimming with whalesharks can really make one ravenous. This I discovered when Erwin (my photographer) and I almost wiped out our order of 10 sticks of pork barbecue, 10 sticks of pork intestines, two vegetable spring rolls, four pork spring rolls and string beans in coconut milk with a plateful of rice. I asked several locals if they could recommend to us a place to eat at Donsol’s market. They couldn’t name one because there were no restaurants, just stalls with a couple of vinyl-covered tables and monobloc chairs. We found our stall by following our nose. With a strategy like that, who can beat barbecue, even if the smoke came wafting from a signboard-less carinderia wedged between Postrado sari-sari store and a stall that sold rubber slippers?

Posted March 24, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Butanding Love

It was all too sudden. J, the Butanding Interaction Officer in my boat, told me to jump and, like a true trooper, I did. He asked me to hold on to an orange life-saving buoy while he dragged me to the site. And before I could say “afraid”, I beheld the biggest fish in the world for the first time.

We had six sightings that day and they were all memorable. But I couldn’t get over the third one. I was late into the jump because I fumbled with my camera so the boatmen advised me to just stay in the boat. But God bless their souls, they didn’t want me to miss any of the fun, so they maneuvered the boat to where the pack was swimming. I jumped in and swam, swam, swam. No whaleshark. Down below, I recognized the figure of Jim swimming face up, pointing an underwater camera at me. Just as I was doing the same and pointed my underwater camera at him,  a giant butanding passed directly underneath me, its rough skin accidentally brushing against the back of my hand. I sucked my belly in, raised my torso, pointed my fins slightly upward to avoid further contact. Then I snorkeled like a mad woman to keep pace with it. I marveled at the serrations on its body and the lovely spots that seemed to glow when it caught light. When its eight-meter length finally disappeared from my sight, I raised my head and screamed, Woooow! I was mad with delight.

Posted March 23, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Kodak moment

My heart sank as I looked at the sky graying with thick clouds. From Donsol, we were taking a boat to Ticao island for some island-hopping, but what are islands unless they are set off by a perfect blue sky. No one knew this more than Erwin, my photographer. He was disheartened.

Just then, one hour and a half into the boat ride and Ticao was within reach, a perfect strip of cerulean swept the sky above San Miguel, a limestone outcrop with caves and teeming reefs ideal for snorkeling. As we traversed the Ticao waters, the sky opened up more and more, until we reached the majestic waterfalls… Kodak moment.

Posted March 22, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Hello, Mt. Mayon.

I knew there was something childish about getting excited over the sight of Mayon Volcano but I couldn’t stop myself from reveling at this towering beauty as my plane taxied over the strip at Legazpi airport. It was the stuff of childhood and I felt nostalgic even if I had never seen the real thing before. In my mind, I was back at that low bench seat I had in elementary school, taking to heart the Philippines’s national symbols. Nice to meet you, Mt. Mayon.

Posted March 22, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Hello, butter.

I had two hours to kill before the check-in counter opened and since I had already tried (unsuccessfully) to catch some shuteye, I decided to preoccupy myself with food. I went up to NAIA-3’s departure area mezzanine to check out what they had. Only Kopi Roti caught my eye. I had been wanting to try their kaya toast but, every time I went to any of their stores, I’d get swayed by the roti bun. This time, I steeled myself and ordered a set of 4 kaya toasts and kopi.

Bite, chew, bigger bite, mmm. I shouldn’t have waited that long. I loved the spread of kaya (coconut jam) on thin toast and the sudden surprise of that chunk of butter. Heaven. I finished 4 toasts in one sitting (each toast being about half the size of a regular toast). With the kopi (with condensed milk, no sugar), it was the perfect breakfast for making one’s self feel better after missing a flight.

Posted March 22, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Touched by an angel

I should have been in Donsol by now. But early morning laggard that I am, I arrived in NAIA 3 just a few minutes after the check-in counter for the 6 a.m. Legazpi flight closed. I was advised to rebook to the 10:15 a.m. departure. The ticketing agent at Cebu Pacific’s NAIA 3 office, however, informed me that, because I arrived after the one-hour grace period, I had to make a completely new booking, which would cost me a little over P3,000. Expensive, if you consider the fact that my RT ticket cost almost the same and that my publisher is not going to pay for it (he would but it wouldn’t be right to charge him). I told the Miss that I will return shortly and rushed to the PAL Express ticketing counter to find out if I could get a cheaper fare. Unfortunately, PAL had only one flight to Legazpi, which had already departed. Resigned to my fate, I went back to the CP office to book my departure. By then, there was a queue but I insisted on consulting with the same ticketing agent who was already entertaining another customer. I waited. And the wait paid off. I don’t know how she managed to do it but she was able to offer me a ticket for only P827!!! Just what I needed, a lucky break. Thank you, CP ticketing angel.

Posted March 19, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

When something works

I must applaud the National Statistics Office (NSO) for making it so painless to request for civil registry documents such as birth certificates (BC) and marriage certificates. I requested for a copy of my BC online through e-census.com.ph. I filled up the form and was presented with payment options, including online payment. I opted to pay through BDO so I printed the reference form and asked the messenger to present it to the teller, together with a payment of P140. Two days later, my BC was delivered to me via courier.

In the Philippines, mention document request and government office in one sentence and people will roll their eyes in exasperation, if not regale you with horror stories of every sort. That’s why I’m so thankful when something works.

Posted March 18, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Looking forward

From Chuvaness.com

I am psyched about John Mayer’s visit to Manila in May. Please sell tickets already, and please keep the prices reasonable. May 16. My calendar is marked.

Note: I could be psychic. Just after uploading this entry, I went to Chuvaness‘s blog where, coincidentally, there was an update about John Mayer’s concert. But P12,000 for a VIP ticket? In MOA? Go Bronze!

Latest note: John Mayer’s concert has been moved to Oct. 1. Boo.

Posted March 17, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com


via Absolutely Beautiful Things via My Little Paris Blog via Pink Lemonade

The past two weeks, I’ve had so much to be grateful about. A promotion at work. An unexpected gift from a friend. An invitation to write. And other things besides. Yes, there have been blips in the matrix, but I feel instantly better just remembering the good stuff, especially those that have come my way so unexpectedly.

If you need your spirit lifted, go to This Blog. Beauty heals.

Posted March 17, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Miles Away

There are very few things that can get me out of bed at 7 a.m. A race (in which case, I’d be up by 4 a.m.). Driving my nieces to school when the driver is absent or indisposed, for sure. And, most definitely, a trip, or even just the prospect of one. So I got up at 7 because I like a relaxed start. I took my time with my coffee while answering the crossword puzzle but I made sure that I was out of the door by 8:30. By 9, I was already in Ali Mall but I had to park my car in SM just across the road because Ali Mall’s parking opens at 10 a.m. (SM opens theirs earlier for supermarket shoppers).

Upon entering the PAL ticketing office, I was given a number, which was already being called in one of the counters. I thought, good Lord, is this really happening? It was and I would have gotten my ticket right away had I bothered to read the Mabuhay Miles award redemption form stating that I should bring a photocopy of my passport/official ID. I had to walk to 12th street (following instructions from security guards and pedestrians) to find a photocopying store (it was right beside the Prince Gregory condominium) because most of the shops were still closed. Despite the extra step, I managed to get out of the PAL office by 10 a.m.–with my free ticket (I had to pay $150 for taxes. Still cheap, considering my destination).

Posted March 16, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

No games; just sports.

Last night, I ran my first 10K in six months. And I made good time too, considering. I was tired after the run but not depleted. I felt connected with my body again. The Ultra Oval is my new favorite running place. Unlike Amoranto, it is breezy. Unlike UP, there’s no petrol fumes from passing jeepneys. And unlike The Fort, the track isn’t hard on the knees. After the run, I had dinner at Bangus. I felt like I earned every calorie I partook of the chicken relleno, which was comfort food that hit the right spot.

Posted March 15, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

An epic meal in Adarna

The past month or so, I’ve been remiss in my duties as tita to my three nieces and one nephew. Sunday lunch has been a tradition in the family, until recently when I became preoccupied with my own activities. To make up for the past weeks, I decided to take everyone out to dinner at Adarna Food and Culture. I have heard great things about the place but there were always other interesting restaurants to try (some of them very disappointing). Since Adarna is located near my brother’s house, I thought maybe this is the time to go.

The elegant flourish in their logo was a sign that the owners had taste. I quietly savored the arched entrances and covered walkways that partially cloistered the open patio. I noted the colored glass panels on the doors, the same ones used by my sister-in-law in their renovated home. The capiz windows used as wall panels, old newspapers encased in glass, paintings by Filipino artists, the intricately carved chairs and tables–everything was tastefully done.

The food they serve is Filipino heirloom cuisine. The chef and owners painstakingly dug up old specialties through research and interviews and kept their cooking methods as close to the original as possible. We ordered the sigarillas salad (P154, a good start), adobong Batangas a la Adarna (P176, shared by the architect-granddaughter of a prominent family from Batangas City), dinakdakan (P134, an Ilocano take on sisig. This version was hot), pancit 1913 (P280), chicken relleno (P448, from a 1940s recipe book), kaldereta antigo and Batanes yellow rice (its color derived from locally grown turmeric). I particularly enjoyed the dinakdakan and adobo, but I must admit none of the dishes stood out and “sang.” Still, I was quite taken by the place that I embraced even the good though lackluster fare. In fact, I’m willing to go back a second time.

I think it also helped that I was in the company of my beloved family. Driving back to the Scout area for dessert at the newly opened California Berry in Tomas Morato, my pamangkins made a request to one of their cousins who was with us that night. The cousin played on his mobile phone the We are the World version for Haiti. My pamangkins bellowed out with passion–to a song that first became popular when I was 12 years old! I admit this modern version did the first one proud. Michael Jackson’s presence was a nice touch.

By the time we got to Timog, the playlist had gone contemporary. This time, the kids were dancing and singing along to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. I must say, I have high hopes for this generation. Kids that can switch between the fire of We are the World and the whimsy of Bad Romance with equal ease and gravitas give much to be proud about.

Adarna Food and Culture, 119 Kalayaan Avenue, QC. A few establishments away from Trellis. Phone no. (632) 9268712; mobile (63) 917-9618113

Posted March 14, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

This is what you call REWARD

Last night, as part of our group training for the fitness and weight loss competition in the office, we tested the Crossfit program with Russell, a trainor. To warm up, we did limbering exercises and an easy 200m run at the Ultra Oval. Then he made us do three sets of 200m runs followed by 10 squats in perfect form. It was a good workout. I felt lighter and more limber this time compared with the past trainings where my legs felt heavy and my runs strained. After doing practice pull-ups at the monkey bars, Karla, Bugs and I did a 400m run in the Oval. I felt strong.

After our session, we went to a carinderia-type establishment nearby called AySee, which, I was told, is famous for its sisig. Russell told us his regular diet consists of high-protein and high-fat food to sustain the high intensity of his workouts. I think we thought we deserved the same (and more) so we ordered four hotplates of sisig, two steamed pla-pla and two large bowls of papaitan. Unlike Russell’s diet, however, which bans sugar and carbs (with occasional indulgences, of course), we didn’t skip the rice. The sisig was topped with a raw egg, which you mix in. It was good but it failed to unseat Trellis’s in my book as the best sisig ever. I also liked the papaitan, which wasn’t as bitter as the traditional version. But what really made the meal was the steamed pla-pla smothered with mayo and topped with crunchy garlic. The fish was moist, tender and flavorful.

Since it was Mike’s birthday the following day and AySee closes relatively early at 11:30pm, we continued the celebration to Bargos at SM Home Depot. The guys had their dose of San Mig Light while social drinker me opted for brewed coffee, which went quite well with the fantastic Cara Mia cake that Judd offered as a birthday cake for Mike. With all food groups covered in our meals, I can’t wait for our next workout session where I intend to burn all the calories I consumed, and have a great time doing it.

Posted March 12, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Facebook Warriors

From Bobby Guev's Facebook page

Log in. I see a familiar name in a comment made to a friend’s status message. Click. I am taken to a limited view of his profile, which lists among his favorite pages that of Bobby Guevarra. Click. Seeing that familiar face transports me back to my trek with Bobby Guev and other classmates to the village of the Dumagats in Gabaldon, Nueva Vizcaya where my young heart opened to a life separate from the one I knew, yet as valid and authentic as my own.  Become a fan. Click.

I go back to my homepage. Another friend became a fan of Benji Reyes. Another bout of nostalgia. This is the man in Antipolo who breathes new life to old wood. We visited his old house once while he was still building the one where he lives now. Every corner of the place was strewn with his handcrafted furniture. On Benji’s page, Lanelle Abueva-Fernando left a message: “Super. The cross is beautiful.” Another bell-ringing name, which takes me, this time, to breakfast with Badette, Leda and Doyts at Lanelle’s restaurant in Antipolo, Crescent Moon Cafe. It was early morning, around 7 or 8, when we arrived armed with coffee in a thermos and a brown bag full of pandesal. We sat beside the pond and swapped stories over breakfast while waiting for Lanelle to arrive for our interview. Such an uncomplicated life we had. Just simple food, a pair of sturdy shoes, and good company.

Crescent Moon Cafe Ascension Rd. Brgy. Dalig, Antipolo

Tel: (+632) 658-3866

Posted March 11, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

Do you call them gods or Olympians?

That was one point of contention at the Wednesday Quiz Night in Capricciosa Greenhills. Categories: Hello Kitty, Freeze, Sweet Home Alabama, Clash of the Titans, Behind the Scenes, P (peso sign)–the rest I forget. This was only our second visit; the first was last week with our team, Tayson, finishing fourth out of five teams. This time, we climbed (with effort) to third place, thanks largely to our joker (two points instead of one per correct answer), which we used for the Behind the Scenes category (we topped it and got a free round of drinks). As a final category, the quizmaster asked us to guess the price of several items bought from National Bookstore. The estimate closest to the actual price gets the point. We really sucked at this, getting only one out of 10 questions. Maybe next week we’ll climb to second place? Or is this as good as it gets?

The above (see title) became a subject of dispute when the quizmaster asked which group of people began to rule Mt. Olympus after the Titans were defeated. Some teams answered Olympians. Others said Gods. Team Gods argued both are acceptable.They have a point but I think Olympians is more specific. After all, madaming klaseng gods, di ba?

Ground Level, Fox Square Bldg.
53 Connecticut St., Greenhills
Tel: (+632) 744-0689, (+632) 744-0490

Posted March 11, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com

What will your verse be?

Poetry. Beauty. Romance. Love. These are what we stay alive for. I was all dressed for the office when I caught a glimpse of Dead Poets Society airing on Star Movies. I was entranced for a good 10 minutes. I remember seeing the movie as a college freshman, with our maid who seemed as spellbound as I was. She may just have been awed by the size of the theater or she may have sensed that she was part of something important. The movie house was so packed we had to sit on the aisle. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary. It’s never too late.

Posted March 8, 2010 in travelswithgusto.wordpress.com


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