Monthly Archives: September 2012

Yoh Froze and Pepper Lunch


So it’s been more than two weeks since my last post. My super duper hectic schedule is keeping me from blogging. I still have to run after this post so I better make this quick or I’ll be lumped with more backlogs later on. Heck, I already got a lot of backlogs in the first place.

So let’s rewind the clock when we were still in Manila.

Before we actually hit the railway tracks to Intramuros, we passed by at Rustan’s Shangri-La Mall to buy some bottled water. If you’re planning to go hiking in the concrete jungle of Manila, arm yourself first with water because the sweltering humidity can render you senseless.

Before Intramuros: Yoh Froz!

Okay, so as we passed by their grocery section, our eyes laid on to something or more like froze with Yoh Froze. Perhaps it’s nothing special for the locals, but for us promdi’s (people from the province), it sure did piqued our curiosity.

It’s really good, healthy, not too sweet and tasted just right in my palette, but nothing monumental. Still, this can give you a moment of serenity and by the way, this is not an ice cream – it’s “frozen” yoghurt for those who don’t know. This is more fun than plain o’l Yakult.

After Intramuros: Pepper Lunch!

After Iligan to CDO to Manila to Intramuros in less than 12 hours, we were starving like zombies so we went to MOA or Mall of Asia to have our dinner at Pepper Lunch.

Beef Pepper Rice

Beef Teriyaki Pepper Rice with Egg

Yep, they served really nice hefty meal that was enough to make my eyelids heavy. I was so full and satisfied I wanted to sleep right there. Lol!

The food is basically jammed packed with everything that you need to raise your cholesterol up, in a good and satisfying way though.

Tip: If I remember it correctly, we took a ride to this compact MPV (they call it FX perhaps from Toyota Tamaraw FX, but what we had was Innova) turned into a bus/taxi hybrid for only P50 for the both of us from Intramuros to MOA. Way cheaper than taking a taxi and more convenient than taking a jeep or bus.  You can get this ride at Plaza Roma where the Manila Cathedral is situated.

Advice: The weather in Manila is like a show run by Loki (the Asgardian god of mischief) that bakes you in the day with so much sunlight, then when your all red with sunburn, he throws you a torrential monsoon downpour later in the afternoon as his way of being kind. So better bring an umbrella to protect you from the killer sun rays and heavy rain if your planning on metro trekking.

Cheers!

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Filed under food, Intramuros, Luzon, Manila, Travel, Uncategorized

The Walled City of Intramuros


Seeing the thick walls of Intramuros seems to throw you back at the time when Spanish was the king of fliptop in the block. Yes, Intramuros is a piece of history slowly engulfed by the modern world within its walls. Jollibee, Macdonald’s and Starbucks are invading the walled city like K-Pop is to our airwaves like chocolate flavored oxygen or PSY’s Gangnam style is taking over YouTube by storm.. okay, stop!

So here we were finally at the oldest district and historical gem of Manila, with little sleep (woke up 3-4am just to catch up the bus going for CDO and the flight for Manila at 9am) and a bit tired from the long travel.

Kartilya ng Katipunan Shrine which is just across the entrance of Intramuros

I think this is a Spanish era horse carriage.

General Luna Street outside Jasper Classic and across San Agustin Church

Leia with an Intramuros Guardia Civil

The Papier Tole Shop along General Luna St.

Near Plaza de Santa Isabel and Foscon Shipmanagement (background building)

Iron bench in front of Intramuros Clamshell.

Intramuros Kalesa or Horse Carriage at Plaza Roma

WORD OF CAUTION

Beware of some Kalesa or horse driven carriage in Intramuros because some (I hope not all) of them just wants to rip you off. Okay, this is how they go:

  • They offer you a tour around Intramuros in a Kalesa ride for P350.
  • In our case, the kalesa driver didn’t told us that the P350 is only good for 30 minutes. You pay for the exceeding minutes if you want to continue, that is if you know about it and we didn’t.
  • Yes, he kept asking me about the time, but never even bothered explaining why or telling us clearly there’s a 30 minute limit for the P350 price tag. His kalesa by the way doesn’t have a sign that says P350 for 30 minutes.
  • What’s even bad, you won’t be spending all of that 30 minutes in the kalesa ride. The driver will encourage you to hop out and the check places, take photos or explore if you want to.. and that is included in the 30 minute duration. If you happen to ride in the kalesa for only 5 minutes and then spend the rest of the 25 minutes exploring  San Agustin Church, that’s P350 sir! What a sneaky dishonest wisecracks!
  •  Of course, he won’t tell you it’s already time until its almost an hour where the driver will tell you, you’re almost an hour so why not finish the hour for a premium price of P700.
  • What made me upset was not the price tag, but the way we were being ripped off. As far as I can remember, our kalesa ride in total duration didn’t even reach 30 minutes because most of the time, we were hosted to hop out, explore and take photos as long as we want to.
  • So, before hopping in to any kalesa ride, clear things out first so you won’t get caught off guard.

Inside San Agustin Church

Top front of San Agustin Church

Along Sta Lucia Street and right across is part of the Intramuros Golf Course. You can see the Manila Hotel in the background (left bldg)

Sta. Lucia St.

One of the old Spanish era stone staircase near Reducto de San Pedro. There were actually two more people at the end step of the stairs but with the power of Photoshop’s content aware, they vanish into thin air.

Just beside the stone staircase is the entrance to the Reducto de San Pedro

Reducto de San Pedro – Reducto or Redoubt usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, though others are constructed of stone or brick. -Wiki-

A perfect place to relax and contemplate about anything.

Plaza Romano and that’s the statue of King Carlos IV at the center with the famous Manila Cathedral in the background.

I’ve been here to Intramuros many times and even performed music way back 2003 when I was part of the music ensemble of IPAG or Integrated Performing Arts Guild. During those times, Intramuros was like the party center of Manila especially in the heyday of WOW Philippines done  by the former secretary of tourism and now chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross – Richard Gordon.

10 years forward, Intramuros looked lonely and depressed as if forgotten by the ghosts of yesterday and ignored by the smartphone generation of today. Intramuros is just like an everyday alley passed by locals like it’s just an extension of their backyard not worth gawking about.

I guess that’s what happens if you grew up within or outside the ancient walls. The historical luster continues to fade with familiarity just like the old walls itself with time and pollution. For promdi’s (people from the province) like us whose lives are moved by photos and t.v. clips of  Philippine history, we always see the sparkle in-spite an influx of modernity that is threatening our historical landmarks to oblivion.

None the less, Intramuros is a place you shouldn’t miss if your in Manila. Take a glimpse of it’s historical wonders as you walk along Spanish era streets and 400 year old buildings and ruins that still remain standing. Most of Intramuros original buildings were destroyed during World War 2 with only the Church of San Agustin surviving. So most of the buildings you see in the streets are just restorations and replicas of the past.

We were not able to explore most of Intramuros and we’re not able to get more photos, but it’s alright because that means we have a good reason to visit this place again.

Click here to know more about Intramuros

Veale otra vez!

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Filed under Historical Places, Intramuros, Luzon, Manila, Philippine Heritage, photoshoot

BBQ Chicken at Pearl Drive Ortigas


BBQ Chicken

When we got to the condo, it was already 11 am and we had a lunch date with our Iligan friends Epi and Acki. They wanted us to check out BBQ Chicken in Ortigas which is just 2-3 blocks away from Shaw Tower so we went.

The resto’s name is pretty straightforward and generic. I thought we were eating in some nice small regular chicken house with an array of barbecue chicken getting grilled at the front of the resto.

It turns out to be a bit more “sosyal” (or elegant, just a bit more than the regular chicken houses I’ve been to) chicken joint located at the 2nd floor of Unit A Pearl Plaza. I was surprised it was a Korean Chicken Restaurant because the name “BBQ chicken”  doesn’t spell like Korean at all. To my delight, I was looking forward for some really hot Korean chicken.

Too bad, they didn’t have Epi and Acki’s favorite spicy chicken set, but we still enjoyed our hefty lunch particularly my hot chicken and most of all, me and Leia were happy to see Epi and Acki again.

The food Leia and I ordered:

Grilled Chicken Salad Set (?)

Spicy Chicken Barbecue Set

BBQ Chicken in Pearl Drive Ortigas is actually Korea‘s number 1 chicken restaurant, according to their website and when I Googled it, nobody seems to be contesting their claim so I guess they’re number 1.

Don’t forget to order their Spicy Chicken Set because we were told it’s awesome. I love hot chili foods so I’m confident I’m gonna love it. If you love chili Korean chicken together with a little Korean side dish kimchi (I didn’t really ask if they had one, but you can try), then your gonna love this place.

Check em out!

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Filed under food, Korean, Luzon, Manila, Travel, Uncategorized

From Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Felicity Den


NAIA

Ninoy Aquino International Airport or NAIA is the largest airport in the Philippines. It is one of the busiest airports in Asia with over 29.5 million passenger traffic in 2011 alone. Okay let’s cut the wiki sounding section and get on with our experience in NAIA.

Luggage Handling:

It was not my first time in Manila so obviously not my first time as well in NAIA, but it was my first time to experience NAIA’s incompetent luggage handling. Leia’s cute mickey mouse trolley case was badly scratched and a small area got its laminated portion ripped off despite the FRAGILE sticker.

FRAGILE? Just drag it!

Yep, its fragile alright.

Poor Mickey. >_<

So okay, word of advice – if you have a cute precious suitcase that’s worth like a smart phone, don’t bring it to NAIA or it’ll get trashed. I don’t know if it’s the NAIA personnel or Cebu Pacific Airlines Personnel (which I think it is Cebu Pacs people), but yeah, they’ll just throw and drag your precious luggage like it’s a garbage bin.

Here’s NAIA Terminal 3 on our arrival:

Looks squeaky clean.

We’re still smiling until we discovered the damaged trolley case.

Felicity Den at CityLand Shaw Tower in Shaw Boulevard

From NAIA to Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City didn’t took 1 hour despite the horror traffic stories you’ll hear about Manila. Just take the C-5 route going to Mandaluyong area and you can have your blood pressure maintain in optimum levels.

We took the regular taxi instead of the airport yellow taxis which is more expensive. A close friend of mine once took the yellow one – NAIA to Pasay Ermita = P800 and Pasay is way super near than Shaw boulevard. The regular taxi we took – P220 from NAIA to Shaw Tower.

Thanks to Rodney Cue for telling us to get the regular taxi instead. Still, you need to be more vigilant with regular taxi’s because they might tour you around in circles to bill you more.

If you’re in a hurry and you have the extra dough, then go for the yellow taxis, but if you’re fine, just get the regular white ones. Make sure you don’t look like a lost gazelle (5. know your map – previous post).

Felicity Den:

The room or rather the condo pad is really nice, cozy and neat! It is a small pad with one room, kitchen, bar, a bathroom and a spacious living room. However, Lulu converted the living room into a guest room which makes it a one big room with everything in it.

Yes, we have everything we need except for the internet but I have a smart bro stick (which I wasn’t able to use). The room doesn’t have an outside view of the city, but it has windows just in case your wondering.

Location

Shaw Tower (Felicity Den) is located along where St. Francis (street) and Shaw Boulevard meet. Shaw Tower is just beside Shangri-la Plaza Mall and the MRT-3 Shaw Boulevard Station is just a walking distance from the Shaw Tower. What’s even cooler, Star Mall which is just across Shangri-La is where
MMDA EDSA Starmall- Shaw Bus Terminal Southbound‎ is situated.

Just click on the highlighted names above to see it on Google map.

If you need some groceries for the duration of your vacation then you got Shangri-La to cater your needs. If you want to go nearby cities and want to avoid the traffic then you got the MRT Station besides Shangri-La. If you’re planning to go Tagaytay and see Taal Volcano, right across Shangri-La is the Star Mall Shaw Bus Terminal Southbound. Perfect!

Impression:

NAIA

NAIA’s  only glitch so far is their luggage handling. I don’t know if they’re treating your luggage with dignity and respect. Maybe because of the rush hour they don’t have time for gentleness, but I believe they can improve and not treat your stuff like a sack of rice.

Lulu’s Felicity Den

Lulu was a lifesaver and a pocket saver! Her place is way cheaper, but way better than most above average hotels in terms of room accommodation and location. Lulu also gave us helpful tips plus an MRT/LRT map to guide us with the railway transit.

Fine, hotels may offer you a bathtub, a swimming pool and a restaurant, but can you have a whole kitchen with great stuff plus a stationary bike for more than half the price of average hotel room rates in Manila? Whew, that’s a long sentence. It doesn’t mean that hotels are bad, but if you’re on a budget like we do or you just want to save more, Lulu’s place is more than a bang for the buck!

Thanks to Lulu Saldivar and also to JMson Calalang for hooking us up with Lulu.

Here’s Lulu’s Place: https://www.facebook.com/FelicityDen

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Filed under Airports, Luzon, Manila, Travel

Invading Metro Manila


Metro Manila, one of the most densely populated cities in the world with over 25 million people alone as of 2007. Being a gamut of all sorts, Metro Manila is the center of the Philippines from politics to economics to star biz gossips to NEWS reports.

However, it is probably the only place in the country that has a smorgasbord of restaurants and food joints that’s too many to count. It is a heaven for food bloggers, travel enthusiasts and vacation addicts.

This was my nth time in Manila and Leia‘s first. Remember, just like any other over-sized city in the world, you gotta have some smarts in you or you’ll end up scratching your head with the street wolves.

7 Basic Tips before Invading Manila

  • 1. Prepare an itinerary beforehand. You don’t want to be wasting your time figuring out where to go in a place like Manila. The traffic alone will eat a huge chunk of time.
  • 2. Set a budget. Wherever you go, your budget will go with you and it won’t exceed as long as you got a lid on your budget.
  • 3. Ask for tips. That means you should contact people you know who are living in Manila. It really helps a lot and I mean a lot. If ever your a foreigner, at least ask some folks you know who have been to Manila or just read blogs like this one.
  • 4. Be vigilant. That means, you have to be conscious of your valuable belongings especially your wallet and other important stuff with you like passports and gadgets.
  • 5. Know your map. Come on, I know you don’t want to look like a tourist with a map sprawling in front of the locals so you better do your assignment by being familiar with the map beforehand. You don’t have to memorize the map like Jason Bourne, but it pays a lot to have an idea where you are and where your destinations are located.
  • 6. Use the MRT/LRT.  Those letters stands for: Manila Light Rail Transit System, or the LRT, and the Manila Metro Rail Transit System, or the MRT (Wiki). Both of these will save you a lot of time crossing between cities. Even if you have the money to burn for taxi rides, the traffic will still spoil your vacation. Rush hour is from 7-10 am and 5-9pm for both roads and railways. Better getting sandwiched in an MRT/LRT in a rush hour than in a traffic, at least you save time albeit smelling each others armpits.
  • 7. Last, but not the least, check your stuff before leaving the hotel, your friend’s condo unit or your relative’s house. If your staying in a friend’s place, don’t ever forget leaving the keys to your host especially in Manila because you won’t have time to get back to return the keys once your on the road. The traffic will lock you up in one direction to your destination and there’s no turning back. Take it from me, because it happened to me on this trip. Crap!

Your important allies in Manila:

Your presence of mind, itinerary, friends, maps, and of course your budget on hand.

Your worst enemies in Manila:

Traffic, pollution, traffic, hustlers (anybody interested of ripping you off), traffic, street cons, traffic, rain, traffic, dark alleys, traffic, NAIA luggage handlers, traffic, grumpy airline personnel.. wait, did I mention traffic?

So without further ado, here are some of the photos we took in Manila:

From the plane:

This could be Cavite area.

Javier Bridge in Pasig City connecting to Cainta

That could be Makati and Mandaluyong where the tall buildings are situated.

Inside Intramuros:

Arzobispo Street (?)

The Papier Tole Shop since 1668, Wow!

Cathedral of Manila

Reducto de San Pedro (Right), Part of Intramuros Golf Club (left) and Manila Hotel (background building)

Luneta, Rizal Park, Roxas Boulevard and Quirino Grandstand:

Intersection of Kalaw Ave and Maria Orosa Ave. This is just a walking distance from LRT1 United Nations Avenue Station.

Central Lagoon, Rizal Monument and the Philippine Flag Pole at Luneta Park

Luneta Park

Eton BayPark Manila (left bldg) and Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel (right bldg) at Roxas Boulevard

Quirino Grandstand, Manila Ocean Park entrance (left) and Manila Hotel at the background (lone bldg)

MRT Station, Mall of Asia’s Ice Skating Rink and Inside PepperLunch at MOA or Mall of Asia:

MRT3 Shaw Boulevard Station

Mall of Asia Ice Skating Rink

Pepper Lunch at MOA

Here’s our itinerary –

1st day:

CityLand Shaw Tower (where we stayed.. Super thanks to Jmson and Lulu!)

Ortigas Center (Lunch)

Intramuros

Mall of Asia – dinner

2nd Day

Luneta Park

Ocean Park

MOA – lunch

Global City – dinner

3rd Day

Tagaytay Batangas Border – left at 10 am from Shaw Boulevard

4th day:

Divisoria

Ninoy Aquino International Airport or NAIA – headed for Cagayan de Oro

Next, I’ll be blogging more about the places we visited in our 4 day trip in Manila.

Mabuhay!

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Filed under Intramuros, Luneta Park, Luzon, Manila, Travel