Monday, June 29, 2015

DOT-ADB-Canada Awards 2015's Tourism Industry Skilled Grants Scheme Trainees

On the heels of a successful run in 2014, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced a new batch of  hotels, resorts, and various industry associations to receive skills development grants to make their services more competitive and attractive to foreign and domestic tourists.

Twenty three local tourism enterprises and industry associations are poised to benefit from the Tourism Industry Skills Grant Scheme (ISGS), which forms part of the Philippine Improving Competitiveness in Tourism (PICTourism) project being administered by the Asian Development Bank and funded by the Government of Canada. Launched in 2013, the US$7.1-million technical assistance was designed to support the Philippine government’s effort to achieve inclusive growth and create employment opportunities in tourism.

SkyJet Airlines: Philippines' First Boutique Airline

My trip to Coron was a collection of many firsts, and one of it is being flown by SkyJet Airlines. SkyJet Airlines is the country’s first boutique leisure airline.  Just like their counterpart boutique hotels, such airlines may not compete as being the biggest in the world, or even biggest in their markets, however  remaining highly competitive by focusing on service and investing in an exceptional on-board product, which frequent flyer like myself would like to consider.  Skyjet  may not  even fly everywhere that the majors do though many of the existing boutique airlines  are known as national carriers operating out of select markets but it offers jet service to island dream destinations in the Philippines.

Our group has landed to Busuanga Airport by Skyjet
Photo credit to Donald Tapan

Being a curious cat, I wondered what a boutique airline could offer for regular tourist like me.  The catch is they are dedicated to provide quality boutique VIP service with affordable rates.   First off it uses a fleet of British Aerospace Jet, the same kind of aircraft used by Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and the rest of the British Royal Family.   Another  good feature though being small in size is the S.T.O.L.  (Short Take-off/Landing) said to be perfect and ideal for the Philippines’ small island airports and short runways.

This jet has an 80-seater capacity so you could expect a good interaction with the flight staff.  The legroom were quite spacious however it’s not advisable for passengers to leave their bags on the floor, and caring attendants would get it for you and tuck them safely at an accessible cabin.  Once the flight has stabilized, snacks are then being given.  I love that they give out Red Ribbon Mamon instead of the typical soda crackers being given on other airlines, it was a treat.

During my flight to Coron, I just flipped through the pages of  the magazine – Explore Philippines and found more travel inspirations.  Back to Manila, I slept like a baby for a good 20 minutes or so.  I guess I’ve learned to trust them on my second journey with them, after all, it is known as the “whispering jet” because it’s equipped with four engines making it one of the safest aircraft in the world.

Here are more fantastic deals you get from them, your 5 kg hand carry baggage is free plus another 10kg check in luggage.  A ticket also comes with free travel insurance.

For now SkyJet flies from Manila (NAIA Terminal 4) to Basco (Batanes) and  Busuanga (Coron) and soon Caticlan (Boracay) and Sandoval (El Nido).

Here's more, visit Travel Madness Expo 2015 at SMX MOA on July 3 to 5, 2015, booth number 71. Get good travel deals on your next dream destination.

You can book online thru their website or call their Hotline numbers (02) 8361333/ 0917 8631333/0908 8631333.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Lucky's Burger and Bar

Tuscany's at McKinley Hill seemed to thrive with upscale restos.  Not known to many,  this long strip of restaurants and bars are just screaming unnoticed, awaiting to be discovered by foodies.  I just love passing by McKinley Hill, for it always bring me back to our trip in Milan.  Tuscany, Piazza and our parents soon to be abode, The Venice resemble living "la bella vita" (a beautiful life) lived in Milan.  I love the architecture of the buildings around the area, the whole rustic yet modern vibe and the serenity.

Adding more Italian flare to the neighborhood is Lucky's Burger and Bar. The manly presence of the place was inspired from a joint where Mafia dons such as Don Lucky Luciano, would hang out and eat to their hearts\ content.

Where can you find a giant's stainless fork
Here are my recommendations, for appetizer, have some chicken wings, each order has 6 pieces and comes with either buffalo sauce or bbq sauce.

I like the second one best, the chicken wings glazed in honey bbq sauce.  It has that sweet, sticky sauce with a subtle spice to it.

Lucky's Bacon Chips.  These are "belly" good to the bite, every bite has that crunch without the oily dripping or coating your mouth. It's served by the way with their own chili garlic sauce.


Also, here at Lucky's is where you can find one of Manila's best Mojito.  According to Chef JP Montenegro, the secret to their tasty and refreshing mojito is the fresh ingredients.  They use fresh lime juice as opposed to the liquor substitute.

Continuing with my gastronomic affair, are some of the entrees you may want to consider when visiting here.

Above is the Lucky Chops (P 230).  As you can see most of the food here is served on a customized Lucky's chopping board.  These probably means that they are serious to satiate your cravings heavy and filling meals.  Case in point, these large slices of pork chops with a bowl of veggie rice and sauteed French beans.  Here your chops doesn't need catsup, instead a savory gravy can enhance more the flavor of your grilled chops.

I also had this tender to the bite Beef Salpicao (P 260).  I wonder why it was categorized under appetizer in the menu.  If I'll be coming back, I'll definitely order this and an extra bowl of rice.  Just look at all those beautiful toasted garlic slices strewn around at the top.

Let me now introduce their winning entry for one of the best burger in town, plus some seriously tempting burger list on the menu.  This is Lucky Burger (P 180) and they made sure you'll be lucky when you have this.  Panalo!

Lucky Burger is composed of 1/3 pound beef patty that is perfectly grilled dabbed on sliced brioche bun.  The mild American cheddar cheese, onions and BLT (that's bacon, lettuce and tomatoes) makes this fit for a Mafia don, well even for the not-so dons and donas, like myself.

However, though they do have winning menu choices, there are quite some that didn't really win me over, like the Buttermilk Fried Chicken.  To say the least, it taste a bit bland and I'm not really a big fan of chunky coating on my chicken.  

But then we got all crazy with their pasta.

Chicken Rigatoni.  These huge tube pasta are great with tomato based sauces.  This is served with grilled chicken and smoked bacon. 

Fettuccine with Truffle Sauce is to die for.  Now wait, this isn't in the menu yet (as per Zomato menu listing), though you may ask the staff if they have this already.  I love the creamy truffle taste that glosses each fettucine.  Topped with grilled chicken breast and parmesan crusts.

There's also Spaghetti Puttanesca.  (Not in the menu yet, but you can ask the staff about this.

And kids all-time fave Bacon Mac and Cheese.

When it comes to pasta I'm all in the simplicity of it, if you're like me tired of the usual pasta laden with thick red sauce and pampered with a whole lot of meat, well, this is for you.  Lucky's Aglio e Olio.  Imagine the light garlicky  flavor of the olive oil binding the spaghetti together, while your next fork-bite is the tangy and soppy cherry tomato or the "kesung puti" (white buffalo cheese) from Laguna.  

As you can see they do know how to serve up refreshments, though some of them comes with a mild mix of alcohol.

Even though I stuffed myself oh so heavily with these simple gustatory pleasures, I made sure I left a part of my tummy for dessert.

I'm sure you wouldn't mind to leave room for these, Brownie mugs topped with ice cream and choco syrup.  Nothing fancy though but it still is a comforting sweet taste to rid off the savory and meaty flavors left in my palate.  

You can actually make one yourself at home, let me share this recipe to you, it's the same one I had here, only made using a microwave oven:

Lucky's Apple Pie is probably the best way to cap a heavy meal with.  Slices of  crispy apples smidgened with cinnamon and baked on a pastry crust.  A plate gets you a slice of the apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

A budget of P600 for two persons can be good start up, but then again, everything can be shared and most of the plates offer huge serving so it can easily be shared.  

Lucky's Burger and Bar
Address: Tuscany, Upper McKinley Road,
                McKinley Hill, Taguig City

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gary V. and DiabetaMil Shows DiabetaMillion Ways of Enjoying Life

Diabetes, our Daughter and Gary V.

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 Diabetes, it is best to think of your problem as a condition, not a disease.  Thinking in terms of disease tend to lead to arbitrary parameters by which we classify anyone with a fasting blood sugar over 115 to 120 as “sick,” leading those whose blood sugar is 114 or less to think of themselves as “well.”   Not many people do understand diabetes, in fact, many who has it may seem not to know that they have it only until they realize that their organs failed or they begin to loss their sights, worst is that they would have to be amputated only to save their life.

Being sick regardless of what you are feeling triggers finding for cure.  To think of diabetes as a “disease” is psychologically crippling.  This may way you down, make less capable of greater things in life, increase your fears and can most of the time deter you to be happy and successful in life. Furthermore, when your pancreas fail and it could not give your body enough insulin, cure can be beyond the bounds of possibility, as what our daughter’s gastroenterologist tell us.  For us, cure means the patient does not have to deal with insulin injections (four times a day) and regular blood glucose monitoring.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's Indeed More Fun in Coron with Asia Grand View Hotel

I do believe that hotel guests are now looking for something extra whenever they book for a hotel or a resort accommodation.  Those extras can be in the form of  experiences for themselves and their families, experiences that are attractive and focus on things of interest or something new.

Nowadays, consumers, like my family, are craving authentic local experiences and an emotional connection, whether that be through food, art, fashion, events or people.  I also tried asking other tourists the top things they consider when looking for a home-away-from-home sort of place.  Most of them consider amenities, like pool, bar, diving center, while others say it's how the staff caters to them.

If I were to ask you, what would be that something extra or that something really important to consider whenever you are booking for a hotel accommodation?

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Night of Middle-Eastern Delights at Pan Pacific Manila

Pan Pacific Manila delighted its guests to a taste of the Middle East as it introduced its new array of middle eastern treats as well as an announcement of the newest addition to the culinary and sales and marketing team.

Pan Pacific Manila’s general manager Mr. Richard Masselin, formally opened the night with a warm welcome and the introduction of Pan Pacific Manila’s new sous chef, Tarek Alsarraj, who will be responsible in conceptualizing and creating new dishes for middle-eastern guests. He also introduced Pan Pacific Manila’s new Sales and Marketing Director, Ms. Jane Perez who will be responsible in leading the Sales and Marketing team. The guests were treated to a special buffet composed of delectable middle-eastern dishes such as  Hummus, Mutabal, Baba Ghanoush, Beef and Vegetable Sambusa, Moussaka, Chicken Kabsa, Samak Harra, Umm Ali and Baklava.

GLAD and Healthy Eating

GLAD, the Filipino mom’s partner in food protection and kitchen management, reminds everyone that the healthy-living movement is here to stay with this saying:
“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” 
-- Hippocrates, philosopher 
There’s nothing like a visit to The Farm of Galilee in Silang, Cavite and organic farming advocate Gejo Jimenez’ Malipayon Farm, to see firsthand how the earth brings nourishment to the food we eat. “Here in our farm, we do things in harmony with nature,” says Jimenez.

Guests experienced the joys of reconnecting with the wonders of vegetation while harvesting their own produce. The tour was made even more special with a feast prepared by chef and food stylist, Eugene Raymundo.

Using the available produce in the farms, such as the red and green curly lettuce, arugula, wansuy, and edible flowers for the dishes, Chef Eugene stresses on the value of fresh ingredients in healthy cooking and the importance of proper food protection.

The Best Ever GLAD ClingWrap can seal in the moisture of the produce by up to 99%, the freshness is kept longer, and the nutritional value of the food is preserved.

Chef Eugene proceeds with his preparations, using the new Glad Mini ClingWrap. “After slicing what you need, just wrap the vegetable or fruit to keep the freshness, and store in the refrigerator for the next use,” he says.

 “It’s just the right size, so it’s easy to manage,” he says, of his new favorite kitchen companion. This latest addition to the ClingWrap family is a smart way to wrap small portions..

The farm-to-table experience brought valuable insights on farming, freshness, and great food, and made guests savor the combination of Chef Eugene’s line-up of mouth-watering and refreshing recipes.

Good food heals and nourishes the mind and body, and should be enjoyed in its fresh state as much as possible. Make it a habit to keep Glad Mini ClingWrap ready in the kitchen, and know that enjoying a happy healthy lifestyle extends to proper everyday kitchen management. See the easy-to-prepare mouth-watering recipes from Glad and Chef Eugene below.

For more recipes and tips on food protection, visit Glad’s website, and Facebook page,

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lived to Discover Coron, Palawan

Are you one of those who sit around stewing in their own juices when the Lord says, “Get up, my child, and do the work I have called you to do.” I stumbled upon this verse in Haggai chapter 2 of the Bible. If you'll notice BE STRONG is repeated three times for emphasis' sake. Haggai seems to suggest comfort in the thought that such admonition was needed at such a time as well as now when the people he was speaking to were so depressed. 
Three times in verse 4 God says, “Be strong.” Rise up and do the work of God. Be strong in the face of difficult and do the work of God. Don’t let anything stop you. Be strong and work!  

You see, I was back there again, on that phase in my life where I would dwell in the past seeing how I failed on my own terms, not being able to have a grasp of what I had dreamt of when I was young. With that, I almost lost track of blogging from the heart and I still have a bunch of articles yet to be finished. To add to that are disappointments and more unfinished tasks.

Nevertheless, because there was Someone far greater than any disappointments and failures and problems combined, who always (without falter) lights my path and guides me back the right track, I was able to pull myself through and found strength, in spite of having a heavy heart.

Case in point, I was invited by a friend to a tour in Coron.  You could have imagined how my face have lighted up when I received the invitation.  I could finally get away from stress for a while and get back on track, a much needed R and R can surely boost up my morale and find more time to live my life.  But then, on the day of flight to Busuanga, our trip got cancelled.  Then, a project where I had put my best foot forward somehow did not really materialize, not in the way I was hoping for, blah, blah, blah, blah.

At the peak/view deck of Kayangan Lake (raw photo taken with my Samsung K Zoom)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Traveling in Style with the New Nissan NV350 URVAN

My husband and I had been dreaming of a vanlife. Odyssey had the whole family spoiled for almost a decade, however, our family is growing, and I mean getting physically bigger.  Two kids are now in college and in a couple of years will be having another set of teens.  And our needs for travel and adventure had extremely went out of proportion.  Sadly, our family car could not cope up anymore
with our needs.

Another thing we are considering right now is getting a new automobile, one that could not only support the whole family's travel needs but could also deal with additional business mileage.  We have been planning of getting a van for a future business - something our relatives have been asking us to do.  Having relatives and friends abroad - Milan and US-based, coming for a vacation had been a frequent concern of ours, both accommodating them and being able to tour them around the city and Luzon-wide, and earning from it, while we're at it.

Good thing I got invited to Nissan's launch of NV350 Urvan at the Marriott Grand Ballroom.  To be honest, Nissan was not in our list of vehicles being considered, though we were still open to other options specially if budget can be compromised.  But I was glad to have seen the new generation of Nissan Urvan, which actually is the 5th generation.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Aguinaldo Shrine in Living Colors

Today the nation celebrates the 117th Independence day, and many Filipinos have their own ways of commemorating it, even Google is in unison.

I was however more blessed than most of the Filipinos as I was one of the few to have witnessed the first monumental lighting and video mapping show of the iconic Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, This happened last night and together with the residents of Binakayan and some media, we were all captivated by the spectacular lights and sounds show incomparable to any that I have already witnessed.

It wasn't my first time to visit the Shrine.  In fact, it was one of the most memorable educational tour Bhogs and I had with the kids, coming second from our tour at the Aquino Center and Museum in Tarlac.  Eerie, mystical and now interactive.  This is how I could describe my recent visit to the museum at the ground floor where the house that pushed forward the idealism -what we now know to be independence.

Do check my post on our visit at Aguinaldo Shrine here:  Kalayaan as Seen Through our Family's Eyes.

The Department of Tourism (DOT), TIEZA and the Local Government of Kawit, Cavite joined hands to bring a one-of-kind audio-visual staging, making use of video mapping technology.  Video projection mapping uses everyday video projectors, but instead of projecting on a flat screen (e.g. to display a PowerPoint), light is mapped onto any surface, turning common objects of any 3D shape into interactive displays.   More formally, projection mapping is “the display of an image on an arbitrarily complex surface”.

The colorful digitally-processed images takes on the architectural form of the mansion built during the Spanish era.  The video is a collection of different paintings, photos and images spotlighting on the country's historic route to independence.  

The 14,000-square foot property of the Aguinaldo's is the birthplace of the country's first president, General Emilio Aguinaldo.  It was constructed in 1845 by his parents, from wood and thatched materials with valuable reconstructions in 1849 and during the early 1920's.  Shortly after the death of Gen. Aguinaldo in 1964, the residence was declared a National Heritage Shrine, however, even before his death, he already gave the property to the government.  The "Independence Balcony" however was not part of the house yet when the Philippine independence from Spain was first proclaimed.  The Act of the Declaration of Philippine Independence was read to the people of the country at the window of the grand hall of the mansion, where the balcony sits now.

The growing interest in our country's heritage structures and destinations has become apparent as more tourists including historical churches, ancestral houses, shrines and monuments in their travel itineraries.  Through this worth-while event, DOT aims to further enhance the touristic experience and make the Philippines's heritage destinations more fun for both foreign and domestic tourists.

Public viewing of the lighting and video mapping show began yesterday, June 11 and will be on a special limited run until June 15.  The shows are scheduled to take place every 7:30 PM, 8:30 PM, and 9:30 PM in between the video mapping show, guests can also view the permanent lighting and sounds of the historical structure.

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