May 29, 2014

Trattoria Gourmet in Shangri-la Plaza Mall

Work stuff seems to strike me down pretty hard lately. I was struggling and having these mixed feeling in my heart and mind, not going to elaborate much about it here, sorry. Like a marathon, life can sometimes be difficult and challenging, however if you believe in yourself and never give up, things will turn out for the best. Since I feel a little gloomy today, thought I’d re-post this sweet date I had with my good friend to make myself feel better.

Blurry shot! Our noses looks too big for our faces in this photo. bahaha! 

We met to watch a movie together. But we had to wait more than an hour before the movie starts. We decided to stroll around and saw this restaurant. I heard from few friends that this restaurant has good variety of food, and since we we’re hungry we decided to try it out.

I have already mentioned this before - I love restaurants who serve complimentary breads! And here, they are serving theirs with garlic pesto spread. Pesto is a wonderful complement to pasta; but I never thought it’s also a great dip or spread, and it’s delicious on bread too.

And for our main dish, we ordered a Pasta set - Penned with three cheeses, Spaghetti mare monti with pesto, and Spaghetti alla Pescatora. Yes, not only those sounded fancy, but those are really delicious as well. I would definitely want to try their other pasta the next time I have a chance.

And for our drinks, we ordered ripe mango shake. Didn't really care too much about this, I am not too particular on how should a real mango shake would taste like. hehe!

The place is cozy and decent; upon entering you can smell the good food. The ambiance of the restaurant is nice; it feels comfortable to eat here. And the staffs were nice, pleasant at all times and very attentive. I really would like to try everything on their menu!

Location and Contact Information: 
5/F Shangri-La Plaza Mall, EDSA 
Wack Wack, Mandaluyong 
Phone: (02) 637-2784

May 27, 2014

Intramuros: The Walled City of Manila, Philippines

I wish I am sipping on a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino (Grande, please!) as I’m writing this post. Ugh, wishes! Anyway, on one of Mom’s vacation here in Manila, we visited Intramuros. The place is just few minutes from Makati, you'll pay about P150 – P200 if you’ll take a cab. Intramuros is a must visit to those who want to understand the history of the country.

Mom and I, with our Tour Guide at the main gate of Fort Santiago

Intramuros (Latin: within the walls), located along the southern bank of the Pasig River, was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. It's a Spanish-style fortified city where churches, government buildings, museums, plazas, schools, stately houses, and more, are all enclosed in its massive walls. This place served as the seat of the Spanish presence in the Philippines. It is now considered as one of UNESCO’s 10 World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia. The Walled-City was flattened by American bombers during World War II, with only San Agustin Cathedral left standing by war's end. Thanks to major restoration and reconstruction efforts that have remade the former Spanish settlement into a prominent tourist spot in Manila.

You can do a walking tour around the area, but we opted to tour using a “Kalesa” (a cart being pulled by a horse). Some of my readers, especially my friends, know I am a lazy traveler. Tee-hee! I paid more than a thousand pesos for a kalesa, but that comes with a Tour guide as a package. Not too sure if that was too expensive, but it was worth it. Let me share with you our interesting Intramuros experience delivered by an excellent tour guide.

Fort Santiago or Fuerza de Santiago 
This is the oldest Spanish fortress in the Philippines and one of the major attractions inside Intramuros. It is also considered a major landmark partly because Jose Rizal, Philippines' National Hero, was imprisoned here prior to his execution on 30 Dec 1896. 

Jose Rizal Shrine
The Rizal Shrine is located on Santa Clara Street inside Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila. This shrine is dedicated to the life and works of Jose Rizal. Inside the museum is where you will find a replica of Jose Rizal’s prison cell set up supposedly before he was executed. 

The above photos shows Postigo del Palacio (was built in 1783 to serve as alley-ways to the palace of the Governor General and residence of the Archbishop), Puerta Del Parian (built in 1593 and was one of the first entrances to the Walled City), Baluarte De San Gabriel (built in 1593, this was the Walled City’s most important defense in the north that protected the riverside), Puerta De Isabel II (last gate to be built in Intramuros, it was opened in 1861 and was part of the route of tranvin (streetcar) in the 19th century), Baluarte de San Diego (built by Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeño from 1586 to 1587, and one of the oldest stone fortifications in Intramuros), and Revellin de Rea de Bagumbayan (sed as prison cells and barracks during Japanese occupation).

Palacio del Gobernador
This building was built in the late of 1970’s on the site of the Spanish Governor-General's official residence, which was destroyed in a powerful 1863 earthquake that also damaged many other structures in Intramuros. 

San Agustín Church (left) and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (right)
I was told that there were 7 or 8 churches of Intramuros, but only the San Agustin (left) church remained standing after the unforgivable bombing of the 350 year old walled city of Intramuros by the American forces. The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral) (right) was rebuilt several times over. 

Octagon-shaped Nipa Hut Houses inside Intramuros 

I felt bad that I have lost some of my pictures. I have posted this in my old blog which was deleted by Google for some unknown reasons. Anyway, visiting Intramuros offers a quick way to reconnect with the country’s past. Remember, you can always tour around the area by foot.

May 25, 2014

Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro: A temporary escape from reality.

Short jeans, bikinis, flip flops! Ah I miss those days. It’s been years since I last visited Puerto Galera…yet these fun filled memories of our vacation with my dear friends/workmates still live in my heart.

How can you not love this place? Sunny blue skies, golden yellow sand, emerald sea with calm waters, puffy white clouds, the setting couldn't be any more perfect for a sight-seeing trip or a beautiful walking tour. I just love it there and would love to go back whenever I get a chance. You'll get what I mean once you lay your feet on the white sandy beach. Here are some photos of our little adventure. I will put a little guide note at the bottom part to give you an idea on how to get to Puerto Galera.

We had seafood, heaps of them, and we had lots of fun screaming our lungs out while doing the Banana Boat ride. Puerto Galera is definitely a vacation getaway that will help you regain all your inner energy once again. It’s always nice to have a breather from our hectic life.

We also went Island hopping and snorkeling. It’s fascinating to be able to swim with the fishes. I really wish to do this again, in the next summer perhaps? But will definitely bring a better camera. :p

How much budget you need when going to Puerto Galera: 
I couldn't exactly remember how much we spent when we were there. But I know the transportation is budget-friendly (the bus fare can cost anywhere from P130 to P200, while the boat ride costs P250 one way, and P450 for a two-way trip - environmental fee of P50 and terminal fee of P30). It would be best if you come in a group. Puerto Galera is a place best shared, especially because activities and food comes cheaper by the dozen. Accommodations can go for as low as P1, 200 for four people. And along White Beach, there are many places that serve cheap or affordable meals, there are also a 24/7 eatery that serves unlimited rice so you can really make the most of your money. 

How to get to Puerto Galera from Manila:

Puerto Galera is one of the most breathtaking getaway destinations in the Philippines: miles-long white sand beaches, lush nature. The place is three hours away from Metro Manila (1 and a half hour from Manila to Batangas, and another 1 and a half hour ferry boat ride to reach the Island. If you're already in Manila, getting there is pretty easy. If you have your own car, all you need to do is drive through South Luzon Expressway turn right to Star Toll gate and then head to Batangas Pier. From there, you can either park your car and ride a ferry going to Puerto Galera or have your car ride a RoRo ship so you could take your car with you to Puerto Galera. If you go there by Bus, you may want to click here for more detailed travel information.

May 23, 2014

Corregidor Island: Reliving WW II History in a Day

First and foremost, Happy Memorial Day to all my American friends who are celebrating! *salute to the heroes* Hope you guys will be having a great time catching up with family and friends over the long weekend. However, please do at least one thing on this Memorial Day weekend and that is to remember, and give thanks to the soldiers who have made the travel, grilling out and family outings possible.

An entertainment building during the World War 2 

My post today is somehow related to Memorial Day. This is a re-post from my old blog; I'm trying my best to write as much while the memory is still fresh in my mind, and before the photos start piling up on my hard drive. Back in 2010, I had a fun and quick trip with an old friend. We tried that 1-Day Tour in Corregidor Island through Sun Cruises. We paid Php1, 999.00 and that includes round-trip ferry transfers / shrine, entrance, and terminal fees / guided island tour, and buffet lunch. I’ll post the complete information of Sun Cruises and their rates at the bottom part of this post.

Let me first say that I am a huge history buff. Being able to visit one of the important historic and tourist sites in the Philippines makes me feel accomplished. Corregidor is a tadpole shaped island about 48 kilometers west of Manila with its head facing the South China Sea and the tail curling back into Manila Bay. This island fortress stands as a mute witness and a memorial for the courage, valor, and heroism of its Filipino and American defenders who bravely held their ground against the overwhelming number of invading Japanese forces during World War II. After the War, many people, most of them veterans, visited the island because of its history.

The journey towards the island only took about 1.5 hours. The Cruise was smooth and fast. We arrived at Corregidor Island at 10 am, the guests were split into groups; each assigned a tram accompanied by a tour guide. I'm glad our tour guide kept us up by filling in jokes. I forgot his name but he really is extraordinary, witty, and of course, has a lot of sense of humor, which in our opinion, is a must for every tour guide. These are just some of the outstanding highlights that we encountered during our visit.

Mile-Long Barracks and Middleside Barracks

Mile-Long Barracks was constructed to be hurricane-proof, this three-story building served as shelter for American officers and enlisted personnel at the garrison. While Middleside Barracks served as houses for the personnels of the 60th Coast Artillery Regiment and the 91st Philippine Scout Coast Artillery Regiment.

Corregidor Island Gun Batteries

When the American forces took over the Philippines, their engineers built 23gun batteries around Corregidor and surrounding islands. 

Pacific War Memorial

Completed in 1968 through the appropriation of the US Congress, the memorial honors the Filipino and American soldiers who participated in the Pacific War. The main feature of the memorial is the circular altar in a rotunda which symbolizes a wreath of victory.
Pacific War Memorial Museum

This museum honors the Filipino and American soldiers who served during the Pacific War in World War II.

Eternal Flame of Freedom 

A large steel sculpture which symbolizes the Flame of Freedom burning eternally.

The Old Spanish Lighthouse of Corregidor Island

Built in 1836, this lighthouse served as an alarm to Manila Bay harbour of the approaching galleon or attacking enemies. In 1897, the old lighthouse was replaced by a much bigger lighthouse but was later destroyed during the outbreak of World War II.

Malinta Tunnel

A bomb-proof headquarters constructed for Filipino and American troops during World War II, which took about 10 years to be finished. Gen. MacArthur set up the headquarters of USAFFE inside the tunnel where men and women (command communications and medical units) would live and work during the siege of Corregidor Island.

I decided not to describe word by word what to expect in those stops because I’d love for you to come visit and see the sights and hear the rich history behind them, personally. I still got lots of photos but it's going to be too much if I will post everything here. I highly recommend this place!
Location and Contact Information:
Sun Cruises
CCP Bay Terminal A, CCP Complex, 

Roxas Blvd. Pasay City (Near Harbour Square)
Sales Telephone: 527-5555 loc 4511/ 12
Reservations: +63 922 337 0068 / + 632 834 6857 to 58

May 14, 2014

My Homemade Strawberry Caesar Salad

I love salads, and I am just starting to make my own dressings. I'm trying to make it a little bit healthier than those in the super market. I just have to perfect the whole thing before I can share it here. Anyway, this one is just a simple Caesar salad but I added sliced Strawberries and carrots. The sweetness of the strawberries that blends with the tangy dressing makes this whole meal irresistible. Salad doesn't have to be boring, right?!

What you need:
1.) Romaine lettuce - rinsed, dried, and chopped
2.) Fresh Strawberries - sliced
3.) Carrot - sliced
3.) Salad dressing (I used my own version in this one)
4.) Croutons
5.) Parmesan cheese, grated
6.) Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

How to do this:
Oh well, this is pretty easy! Also, you probably notice I have no measurements listed. It's because I don't usually pay too much attention to it when I'm making my own salad. Simply rinse and cut your lettuce, slice your strawberries and carrots (optional). Some would make their own croutons (I wish I can right now), and their own salad dressing (just what I did). Throw in the rest of the ingredients however you like. Yup, I mean toss everything together and serve immediately! Enjoy!

May 12, 2014

Eat-like-a-Queen Breakfast at Country Style, Makati City

I have been living in this area for around 6 years now. And in those 6 years, this is the first time I had breakfast at Country Style Deli - the coffee shop / restaurant right across where I live. That actually sounds crazy considering that I am a food lover! Oh well, I never thought they offer an all-day breakfast meal. All I know is they are a doughnut store. HAHA! Thanks to my friend, Rex, who persuaded me to dine here.

And since I am not familiar with their meal, I just copied my friend’s order. He chose Frankfurter sausage with rice and fried egg. We were laughing when we saw the order. I just thought the sausage was too BIG. It’s a little spicy, tastes good and satisfying. This costs Php115.00. Adding a little chili sauce makes the meal a lot more enticing.

It's a doughnut place, so we ordered doughnuts for our dessert, Php25.00 each. This is what Rex ordered. I couldn't remember the name, something like nutty, but I know they call those "Krazy Squares"! lol Anyway, this taste good. I end up eating this by the way. lol

And here's my doughnut, Php25.00 also. A chocolate version of the doughnut above- but filled with a vanilla custard filling. They call it custard, but I call it Bavarian. lol

Though that was the first time I had breakfast in Country Style, I am already familiar with the chain. I have been a fan of their long and bar-shaped raised doughnut, the one filled with Bavarian.

Anyway, it's good to know that they have western-inspired breakfast menu. All along, I thought they are only selling doughnuts, different types of sandwiches and coffee to match the breads and sandwiches. The next time Hubby is in PI, I will surely take him here.

Location and Contact Information: 
7479 Bagtikan Street, San Antonio, Makati City 
Phone: 02 8951859 

May 4, 2014

Mandawa Elementary School Alumni Foundation's Fence Project

Looking back, I couldn't believe it’s already been 15 years since I graduated from Mandawa Elementary School. And though life has completely taken me to the city, I still couldn't forget where I originally started. Since I was a kid, I am a strong believer in the concept of paying it forward. And being part of this Alumni Foundation makes me proud that I could give back to my Alma Mater even in the simplest and modest way.


At first, we have only tried to raise funds to purchase school supplies for the Elementary Pupils of Mandawa which was eventually distributed to over 500 kids back home. Thanks to the generosity of our donors/sponsors, alumni and non-alumni members, we have raised more than what we expected. And since we still have un-use funds from our first project,
Mr. Doydora suggested in using the remaining funds to support the "Fence Project".

May 2, 2014

Brunch with the Hubby at T.G.I. Friday's - SM Mall of Asia

Since Daniel and I love to eat, we went to Mall of Asia, and tried T.G.I Friday’s. Have you been to a restaurant where you felt like you've been ripped off after you ate? It was a little expensive compared to other restaurants, but it’s definitely worth its price. The food was great. It was served hot, although we waited for quite a long time for it. We ordered the following;

Friday's Three For All for our appetizer - this is loaded with Potato Skins, Fried Mozzarella and Spicy Buffalo Wings complete with Sour-Cream and Green Onions, Marinara Sauce and Celery Sticks with Bleu Cheese Dressing. Price is Php695.00, I know I know. It's not something we can eat every day since it's pricey. Lol

Daniel ordered Bacon Cheeseburger (Php395.00). Its all-beef patty covered with melted Colby cheese, crispy bacon with the classic fixings and served with crispy fries. This dude loves burger and fries so much.

I ordered Garlic Chicken Primavera (Php475.00). Its juicy garlic sautéed chicken breast served over fettuccine and tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, Roma tomato-basil and seasonal vegetables. Super yummy!

Like many restaurants in the Philippines, this TGI Fridays offers both outdoor seating and air-conditioned indoor seating. The waiters and waitresses are very helpful. They look presentable and clean. They also speak nicely to the people eating there. Everything is good in T.G.I.Friday’s.

Location and Contact Information: 
SM Mall of Asia, North Wing Entertainment Mall, Seaside Drive 
Manila Bay Reclamation Area, 
Pasay City, Philippines
Phone: (02) 556-4456

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