October 30, 2012

A touch of romance

Café Ysabel Chef Gene Gonzalez's Café Ysabel in San Juan City is a cozy restaurant located in a restored 1927 house with romantic, old fountains and ponds in the garden.

October 29, 2012


Tatung's onion soup An old photo of the onion soup at Tatung's Garden Café—my way of saying goodbye to a lovely place with fabulous food that was just a five-minute drive from our house. Last week, the restaurant moved to Taguig City, which is easily an hour's drive from Quezon City where we live and work. Lucky Taguig residents.

October 28, 2012


Paoay Church The Church of San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte is one of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The parish was founded by Augustinian missionaries in 1593. Construction on the current church began in 1694 and it was completed in 1710. In the UNESCO citation, the Paoay Church is described as being the most outstanding example of "Earthquake Baroque" in the country. It also has the biggest bell tower I have seen in a church so far.

October 27, 2012

Food for my soul

dessert crepe from La Crêperie One of the delectable dessert crêpes from La Crêperie. Chocolate crêpe with Nutella® filling, drizzled with caramel syrup, and topped with almond slices and whipped cream—guaranteed to make one feel better from the first bite.

October 26, 2012

October 25, 2012

Where are you going?

public transportation terminal in the parking building of a mall As a service to their shoppers and to the general public, most malls in Manila now reserve space in their parking lots as a terminal for public transportation vehicles. And yes, vans and utility vehicles are used for public transportation here too. They are usually "express" services, picking up passengers at one terminal and letting them off at just one other terminal. In theory, at least. Of course, if you're willing to get off a slightly moving vehicle among faster moving vehicles, you can get off anywhere you want as long as you pay the entire fare.

October 24, 2012


UP-Ayala TechnoHub This is the section of the retail building at the University of the Philippines–AyalaLand TechnoHub which I find most interesting. Even though it reminds me so much of a crown of ribs.

October 23, 2012


interior of BasilThe designer of Basil used the naturally-occurring outcrop of adobe in its small lot—filling its crannies with plants and building a waterfall which flows into a pool at its base—to create a lovely, tropical rainforest ambiance for the Thai restaurant's interior.

October 21, 2012

Religion and war

the Archbishop's Palace of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia in Vigan, Ilocos Sur The Archbishop's Palace of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, located in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, was constructed in 1783–1790. It also has a colorful history, having been occupied by revolutionists against Spain in 1896 and used as a garrison by American forces in 1899.

October 20, 2012


Amanda Burrell reading poems at the Ateneo de Manila's 'Literature and Music' Amanda Burrell, current Director of the British Council Philippines, reading poems by George Gordon (Lord Byron) at the Ateneo de Manila University's "Literature and Music" event in celebration of Philippine–British Friendship Week. The event was organized by the British Alumni Association with the collaboration of the British Council and the School of Humanities. The music was provided by the Blue Symphony, the university's student symphony orchestra.

October 19, 2012

October 18, 2012


balloon and dart game at Landmark Department Store The management of Landmark Department Store seems to be having a fun time coming up with promotions for their shoppers. Back in March, I posted a photo showing their indoor putting green which a shopper could try for prizes after spending a certain amount. A few months later, the theme was Pistang Pilipino (Filipino Fiesta) and the games were those you would usually find in town fairs and carnivals. My little-boy-at-heart husband was again more than willing to play and here he is trying to pop some balloons with darts.

October 17, 2012


The Human Nature flagship store (see yesterday's post) has a cafe on the second floor called the Enchanted Farm Cafe, named after the Gawad Kalinga community farm in Angat, Bulacan.

fresh spring rolls at Enchanted Farm Cafe Angat is only about 40km from Quezon City, where the cafe is located. The ingredients which are used in the dishes, many of which are vegetarian, are very fresh and crispy.

salad with salted duck eggs at Enchanted Farm Cafe Part of the cafe's mission is "to create a sustainable lifestyle for the poor by creating a market for their products," and the other ingredients that they use—like the salted duck eggs in the salad—are produced by social enterprises.

pandesal sandwiches with kesong puti and salted duck eggs at Enchanted Farm Cafe As is the kesong puti (literally, white cheese) in the pandesal (bread of salt) sandwich. I should go lacto-ovo vegetarian more often. We came out of Enchanted Farm Cafe feeling full but not heavy.

October 16, 2012

Tree of life

interior of Human Nature's main shop Human Nature is a local line of beauty products and cosmetics that use 95–100% natural (vs. manufactured chemical) ingredients. It is also a social enterprise benefiting residents of Gawad Kalinga (GK) villages—a poverty alleviation program which goes beyond building homes—who make up most of its sales and warehouse staff. The plants that Human Nature uses in its products come from local farms, one of which is also a GK farm. Its products are half the price of similarly natural but imported brands, and the Human Nature items that I buy and use regularly can definitely compete with them in terms of quality. And I just love the wonderful tree design on the flagship store's wall and ceiling!

P.S. Human Nature is also available in the U.S., in case you'd like to try it out.

October 15, 2012


La Creperie at The Veranda of Robinsons Galleria Because of its glass walls, the view inside the charming La Crêperie in The Veranda of Robinsons Galleria is that of the mall. Thank goodness its food is yummy.

October 14, 2012

Stepping into history

Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur Calle Crisologo is the best-preserved Spanish colonial era cobblestone street in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Most of the houses have been turned into shops, cafés and inns, but a few family residences—which still contain their original furniture and artwork—have been opened to the public as museums. Calle Crisologo is closed to cars but pedestrians still have to share the street with horse-drawn carriages.

October 13, 2012

Building blocks

northeastern side of Trinoma mall The varied textures, angles and shapes at the northeastern corner of Trinoma mall.

October 12, 2012

Of lemons and champions

Chewy Lemon Tart from Cafe 1771 Yesterday, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles beat the University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers 65–62 to win their 5th consecutive University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) basketball championship! Celebrate with us by having a slice of Café 1771's Chewy Lemon Tart.

(Sorry, a little inside joke among Ateneans here.)

October 11, 2012

Travel Smart

jet bridge with ad leading to a Korean Air plane at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Even jet bridges at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have ads. Smart is one of the biggest mobile phone and internet service companies in the Philippines.

October 10, 2012

Still necessary

metal fence separating a public transportation loading bay from the road A metal fence separating the loading bay for public transportation and the highway has a sign which says "Walk and wait on the sidewalk. Not on the road." Both commuters and drivers of public transport here need to be constantly reminded of this. And if no government personnel is around to enforce the rules, they usually don't get followed anyway, with public transport vehicles taking on passengers in the middle of the road.

October 9, 2012


Almon Marina Almon Marina was the first deli and gourmet sandwich store I experienced when it opened in 1990. It's good to know that they're still around and have even more branches.

October 8, 2012

Student and teacher

Exie Abola in front of a portrait of Doreen Fernandez September 28, 2012 marked the launch of my husband Exie's first book, a collection of creative nonfiction titled "Trafficking in Nostalgia." His essays and stories have been published in various anthologies many times in the past, but this is his first solo publication. His freshman English teacher Doreen Fernandez (1934–2002), also a writer, cultural historian and food critic, would have been proud.

October 7, 2012


Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul in Vigan, Ilocos Sur The Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul is located in the City of Vigan in the province of Ilocos Sur (more than 400 km north of Manila), and is the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. The church as it stands now was finished in the early 1800s, but its history goes back to 1574 when a chapel of wood and thatch was ordered built on the site by the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo. Succeeding churches were damaged and destroyed by earthquakes in 1619 and 1627, and by fire in 1739. The church became a cathedral in 1758, when the seat of the Archdiocese was transferred to Vigan. It was occupied by revolutionists during the Philippine Revolution and by American forces during the Philippine-American War.

October 6, 2012

Tapping strings

Abby Clutario and her Chapman Stick Abby Clutario, of the bands fuseboxx and HUMANFOLK, with her 10-string Chapman Stick. It was my first time to see one and I found it so fascinating, I ended up interviewing her about it. Apparently, it's been around since the 1970s and can have 8 to 12 strings. You can read more about it in its Wikipedia entry.

October 5, 2012


abandoned charbroiled steaks counter An abandoned eatery with a sidewalk counter specializing in charbroiled steaks. Looong abandoned. Manila's phone numbers were changed to seven digits in the early 1980s.

October 4, 2012


fountain at Bonifacio High Street Central fountain at Bonifacio High Street Central fountain at Bonifacio High Street Central The fountain at the water plaza and amphitheater of Bonifacio High Street (BHS) Central.

October 3, 2012

Not eternal

runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport A dreary morning at the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 3, exclusive to Philippine Airlines and its low-budget Airphil Express. Only the yellow tail of rival Cebu Pacific Air's plane and its matching yellow hangar evoked the sunshine of the summer just past.

October 2, 2012

Australia via Florida

Outback Steakhouse Outback Steakhouse is an Australian-themed restaurant that started in Tampa, Florida. It has three branches in Metro Manila. Except for the sign and the posters, the restaurant in Quezon City just looks like a large farmhouse.

October 1, 2012

School spirit

Ateneo de Manila - De La Salle 2012 playoff at Outback Steakhouse Watching the Sunday afternoon replay of Saturday's cardiac arrest-inducing playoff game between collegiate basketball archrivals Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University at the bar of Outback Steakhouse. The Ateneo Blue Eagles beat the De La Salle Green Archers 66–63, making it to the finals and a chance to win its 5th consecutive University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) championship. One Big Fight!