Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Charm of a Rustic Villa: Hacienda Isabella

Last Good Friday, we took a detour from our regular Tagaytay get-away.   The drive to Sampalok Lake in Laguna down to Tiaong, Quezon, for a Holy week day tour, a few years back was still fresh in my husband's memory.  We didn't plan a summer outing for the Holy week since we have booked our first week of June for a visit to Dumaguete and Negros.
So to cap off the month of March, we headed down Indang, Cavite to explore some hidden falls or lakes.   My uncle used to bring us to Indang when we were kids.  From time to time his then wife would bring us to the river to cool off and watch the neighboring ladies wash their clothes.  Also, far as I know, it is where he was able to amass a couple of real properties and some lands rich in trees for use as lumbers.   I remember him visiting us from Indang bringing with him sacks of santol and coconut.
It was all in proper timing, since a client of mine (from my wedding management job) asked if we knew of an event place that is not in Tagaytay but near it.  The first thing that came to my mind was Indang.
Then I came upon a wedding resource website with an entry from Hacienda Isabella.
So we took the kids and drove all the way to Indang, first on our list, of course is Hacienda Isabella.
I never imagined being in a place as beautiful as this.  As if Shakespeare himself was brought to life and got his inspiration in writing sonnets.   Well after all, Renaissance arts are all over the villa.  The Renaissance Woman of the Philippines happens to own the property and according to the staff have had her hands, mind and hearts in every single detail of Indang's haven.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What's in My Chuck's Deli Lunch Bag + Slay the Buffy Challenge

It 's one of those days when things aren't flying out right.   When you can not even sit down and mull over issues that had arise. What do you do?  
Breath, think about sandwiches, then get ready to raid the fridge.
That's how I lived and thrived on, gobbling up sandwiches at any given time.   My movie time partner, a Sub  sandwich; my coffee and tea companion, grilled wheaties filled with PB and J; meals can also be a stack of cheeses, cold cuts, fresh, crisp greens and more breads.   As far as I can remember in the past, the first thing that filled my lunch bag was a sandwich heartily prepared by my mom, I was in pre-school then.   
When news surfaced about Chuck's Deli's slabwich, I have been itching to try it.  However, it took me years to have that experience.    Thanks to a blogger friend who invited me to check out their offerings.  Chuck's Deli has two branches, Eastwood and Serendra.  I got to visit their Serendra branch.  The place was a wee small but enough sittings available.  I said small because customers easily fill it up.   I guess everyone had the experience already and have been coming back except me.  
The place is simply designed with just blackboards on the walls, on one side is the bragging wall for the hall of famers of slabwich eaters.  The lack in the dining place's appeal was made up with love for sandwiches and great comfort food.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Allured by Homeys Cafe's Ilocano Cuisine

Like any other children,  I used to hate vegetables, except French fries of course (yeah when I was four I considered it as a vegetable).   My parents were so determined to make us eat all the dishes, where more vegetables are visible than meat.   I even used to think that whoever invented Pinakbet must have really hated children because it had all the bitter and slimy vegetables I detested.  There would be times though that we'd have scrambled eggs for lunch, but lo ampalaya (bitter melon) is mixed in it.
However, I grew up making healthy choices specialty when I had a cholecystectomy (surgical removal of gall-bladder) in high school.   And that's when I learned how to appreciate vegetables and most of the dishes my Papa would cook for us.
More years have passed, until I became close to our Ilocano neighbors.  They would give me sample veggie dishes cooked the Ilocano style like Dinengdeng, Dinakdakan and few others.  Ilocano cuisine evokes a range of taste even in one dish.  But over all, it truly defines what a homey food for a Filipino is.
Speaking of homey, I just happened to chance upon a cafe in the not so busy part of Legazpi Village.  A fellow Marian (Jem Pamintuan) have been helping out her friend spread the word of their cafe.   When I saw her post on FB, heralding Homeys Cafe, what instantly came to my mind was that they might be serving comfort foods and I said to myself I should give it a try.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Eton Now Applies International Primary Curriculum (IPC)

Last April 13, I was introduced to an international curriculum, which is said to be a holistic approach to international education were every teacher, parent and student is in the network globally.   As a mom, it is important to me that my kids are not only motivated to learn but the love for it is evident in their day to day activities, at school and at home.
The rising interest for having kids in international school means that kids are ready for a global shift in learning styles as well.    Eton International School is an academic institution engaged in K-12 education and is a part of global network of more than 100 schools using the “Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles”. Branded as the “school of the future,” Eton provides a school where learning is more continuous, more relevant, and more adaptive. Its mission is to make International education accessible to all.
Now they have joined with other international schools all over the globe to let Filipino students get access to
this new teaching method, as Eton International School signed a partnership with International Primary Curriculum.  Eton's initiative makes education in the Philippines more valuable and more fun.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fishing, Shipyard and the Road to Fisher Mall

   I have blogged about a new mall said to rise soon before the year ends- the Fisher Mall. It's a 1.5-hectare prime property formerly occupied by the Pantranco bus terminal in Quezon City.  Said to be a billion-peso development which, when completed, is expected to become a prime shopping destination in the metropolis.

Read about it at his post:  Find All, Be All at Fisher Mall

Thursday, April 18, 2013

DEPED Created Election Task Force


It was publicly announced last Wednesday that the Department of Education has created an Election Task Force (ETF) Operation Center at its Central Office in Pasig.  This is  to ensure full support to teachers who will serve as members of the Board of Election Inspectors for the 2013 national and local elections.

Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC has designated Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Alberto Muyot as Chair of the Steering Committee.

Ensuring that teachers will be provided with adequate information as well as technical and legal assistance in their role as members of the BEIs, is ETF's main goal. The same protection is extended to principals, supervisors, schools division/city superintendents and other DepEd employees who will serve in the May 13, 2013 automated national and local elections.

“Our DedEd personnel deserve all the support they need to enable them to better perform this noble duty of overseeing the conduct of an honest and free elections,” said Luistro.
 The 2013 ETF Operation Center will be established at the DepEd Bulwagan ng Karunungan starting at 1:00 pm of May 12 until 12:00 noon of May 14.

Zarzuela: A Play of Filipino Flavors

The first time I knew about zarzuela was in high school studying about Philippine arts and culture since then I never heard of it till last week, when an FB friend had posted pictures of what seemed to be a new restaurant in vibrant orange splats.
Before we get to the resto topic, lets talk a little something about Zarzuela first.
In Spain, the term zarzuela (pronounced thahr-thway-lah or sometimes zahr-zway-lah) refers to a type of light opera consisting of song, dance, and theater. This culinary namesake, which is a seafood soup, has a full measure of drama, typically featuring halibut, mussels, shrimp, and squid—an all-star cast in an intriguing and finely tuned broth.
Have you ever had an experience with the word, either having to watch a zarzuela or having to eat a sample of the?
If not, well how about trying this one?
The  Zarzuela I'm telling you about is one of the dining spot on the East wing of Shangri La Plaza mall.   The East wing has just been opened to the mall-goers last March.   So it's really fresh for more to discover.
What I like about Zarzuela is the splash of orange colors on the chairs which blended well on the crisp white colors of the walls and against it is the sun striking a glimmer on the glass panels.
You see orange is a power color, being one of the healing colors, it is said to increase the craving for food. One good choice might I say for the owners.  Don't you know that people who like orange are usually thoughtful and sincere.  And that curiosity is a driving characteristic of orange, and with it comes exploration of new things.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kaffir Restaurant and Deli

As usual, I'm back on my feet and searching for those restaurants  still out of view from many.  This has been becoming a habit, though I've been seeing many foodies do this as well.   I've noticed also that more and more restaurants had turned to serving healthier dibs or using vegetarian or organic as a theme, while others just stay off the foodie course and mind-cranked with watching their diets.
Do live a space in your notes for this quote:
  There's lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven't the time to enjoy it. - Josh Billings
Still for me, eating is a matter of being conscious of what you put in your body.   Whether be it for pure consumption or mere pleasure, eating is a part of ones normal life.  I'm not guilty of eating as a way of gratifying myself for a well lived life and hard work, either am I guilty for staying fit though being everywhere to try out different restaurants and cuisines.  But you know what the best part of it- I enjoy every bit of it! (Literally).
In terms of healthy eating outside home, allow me to give you one good sample.

We found this restaurant at the Collective along  Malugay St., Makati, when we were checking out something in the said place.  I've actually read something about Kaffir Restaurant from a blog, just that I can't remember anymore.   With the sound of the name of the restaurant, Kaffir, it did entice me to search for it.   Knowing that kaffir is an herb used to Asian cooking, an image evoking Asian, healthy, freshly prepared dishes came to mind.  Kaffir is a restaurant and deli hidden in plain sight.  They actually are located at the corner most place inside the collective, which is beside Wabi Sabi.
Seing Kaffir, what came to my  mind first was kaffir lime leaves, however, when I searched the net about kaffir, I found out that it is a derogatory word for black Africans.
But hope that doesn't deter you from trying the resto out.
Let me also tell you that it does somehow have the concept of a whole in wall.  Being a small place with a few sitting and some stacks with  Indonesian noodles and  delicacies, and some other East Asian products.  When you enter, the kitchen is just at your left so once you open up the door, even with a few customers inside, the scent of all the herbs, ingredients and other cooking elements will welcome you and for sure will tickle your fancy for Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese dishes.  You can actually watch the cooks prepare your food while the aroma wafts across the room.
 After much scrutinizing I ended up getting Pad Kra Pao.  An extremely popular one-plate dish served at many roadside stalls and restaurants throughout Thailand.   The pork  stir-fried in oyster and soy sauce with a combination of chillies, green beans, garlic, sugar and holy basil.
The Thai word for stir-fried is ‘pad’ which may also be written as ‘pat’, ‘phad’ or ‘phat’ e.g. Phat Thai (stir-fried rice noodles).  So basically you know what this dish is all about.
Another thing to note is that krapao is served with rice and comes with the option of an additional fried egg (khai dao). The fried egg might seem an odd choice of topping at first glance, but this is the way Thais tend to order this dish and the egg really does add to the combination of flavors and is something I would definitely recommend trying at least once.   It's just like eating sisig or tapsilog.
And about the basil, all along I thought that basil is used only by Italians, only on their pasta sauces, and I really thought this is a brilliant idea to incorporate in cooking at home.  This dish was so comforting, I'm actually not a fan of pork, except in rare cases like this that I have to rely on my adventurous foodie instinct. So thanks to my instinct it was indeed a good choice.
Bhogs had this slightly milky (coconut milk only) look of Green Thai Curry.   Funny at lunch we had the Filipino style Chicken Curry which I cooked, you know the ones with potato and carrots.  This dish however is Thailand's take on curry dishes.  Pork is used on these, with vegetables like, eggplant, string beans and chilies.   The green curry used is a combination of  ten or more different herbs and spices.  Making it a distinct character of Thai cooking.   Another peculiar taste and aroma is evident in this dish.   Digging for more of the soup I found two kaffir lime leaves at the bottom.  The leaves gave a very heavy aroma which is pungent and lemony at the same time.  Let me tell you that it's not for eating so be careful not to munch on it.

Both dishes were equally delicious and with one or two cups of rice with the serving of each made our tummy happy full enough not to order more...Till next time...
Will definetely be coming back for these and some veggie delight from Cha Gio a.k.a. Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Char Kuey Teow,  stir-fried noodles in soy sauce with prawns, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts and fish cake.
Now, being a coffee addict that I am, I ddin't let this opportunity pass by without trying their said "crowd-pleasing" Vietnamese Iced Coffee.    Too bad I wasn't able to see how this was prepared making sure it was done the Vietnamese way, where brewed robust coffee is dripped on condensed milk.   Let me tell you this cold glass of coffee is enough to be your dessert, since it's really sweet due to the condensed milk.

Kaffir Restaurant and Deli
The Collective, 7274 Malugay Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City

Phone: 208-4343, 0922-896-0034, 0922-878-2296

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Food Exploits Along Byaheng Bonifacio: Byaheng Bayani ng Bayan

 Not only that our country is rich in history, we are a nation also built by food lovers.   Some of our historians have even kept  a  memoir of the Philippine heroes best-loved dishes.   Accounts from Jose Rizal' food shared below:
Highlighting Jose Rizal's Passion for Food With Kulinarya Kalayaan 2012

Eat Like Rizal at Bacolod Chicken Inasal

Where ever you might want to explore, food and native delicacies are abundant, in the streets, markets and malls.   When the Department of Tourism invited me to join in the Cavite tour of the Byaheng Banifacio: Byaheng Bayani ng Bayan, we never went hungry, in fact I went home a wee sluggish due to the different native dishes we had tried along the tour to 5 municipalities and 1 city of Cavite, only in one day!

Read about the Cavite leg tour of Byaheng Bonifacio: Byaheng Bayani ng Bayan HERE!

Privy to Old-world Cavite Delicacy

The photo on the top is a table spread with bilaos (winnowing basket)  of  okoy, empanada, puto and pichi-pichi.   All widely available in markets of Cavite towns.
On our stop-over in Indang, Cavite to visit the site of Pinagbarilan (where Bonifacio had supposedly been shot by a guardia civil with his troop and had been captured), we were warmly welcomed by the staff of DOT-Indang office, with bottled waters and packs of Kalamay.   A sticky sweet delicacy made by extracting coconut milk from grated coconuts, then mixed with ground glutinous rice, while maintaining an integrity in sweetness with cupfuls of brown sugar.  I remembered my relatives bringing these from our province in Bohol whenever they visit us here in Manila, it was one of the native delicacy I would not dare forget in a lifetime.
This really blew my mind away!  To be honest I never really liked eating "kaning lamig" (also known as bahaw, meaning cold and left over rice), unless it would be cooked into Sinangag (fried rice).  Do you?  But here at the Hacienda de Naic, or at Naic even, they never put left over rice to waste.   As shared by the teachers who assisted us for this tour/stop over, the rice, uneaten and left to cold is turned into a delish snack or dessert, which they call "Sinudsod" (hoped I got it correct).  Sinudsod, a verb meaning scraped off, literally meant for this dish, as the rice is scuffed off from the pot, pounded, mixed with ground "malagkit rice"  and made into a pancake-like batter (with water and vegetable oil added).   Traditionally was cooked over the top cover of a palayok, is cooked like a crepe, or a thin pancake.   It then was put in a bowl, ladled with cold coconut milk and topped with cubed gelatin.  Walaahh!
A refreshing snack out of the humbled  left over rice

Another snack inherent to Naic is the Muchi (or Buchi)

Lunch Pit-stop before heading to Maragondon Execution site
Now, if you want real food, sitted down and cooled down in an ACd restaurant, then better stop over here at Lolo Claro's Restaurant in Maragondon.   This restaurant is so famous with their classic pseudo-Max Fried Chicken.

Frothy Iced tea is a must here specially on a humid day for a tour.
The chicken was indeed "sarap to the bones!"  Served without gravy, so just look or ask for thier Jufran banaa ketchup.
Of course no Filipino restaurant or carinderia doesn't have a version of the cult fave Pancit.
Shanghai Spring rolls...
Might I say you would want to try their Kare-Kare as well, though I heard a few critics around our table that their Bagoong (salted shrimp paste) needed improvement.   Though the mildly sweetened sauce of the Kare-Kare was inviting enough...
They also have Menudo, but I'm not into pork.  However, this dish is well seasoned as well, but still have the Filipino dish character of being sweet and salty at the same time.

I would like to thank the Dept. of Tourism, headed by Mr. Ryan Sebastian, for the one of kind and enriching experience...

More food guide for your Cavite trip:  

Bacoor, Cavite: The Original Digman's Halo Halo
Imus, Cavite:  Bialetti Caffe  (get a tour of the museum of Ramon Revilla)
Indang: Balai Indang (Make a reservatiion first
Silang, Cavite:  The Dining Room by Gourmet

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Be a Hero with Byaheng Bonifacio: Byaheng Bayani ng Bayan

     Make this summer very interesting and educational for the whole family by bringing back to life what had transpired during the times of Katipunan and our hero Andres Bonifacio.  
     On November 30, 2013, the country will be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio.   With this, The Department of Tourism and  (DOT), in partnership with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), had launched “Biyaheng Bonifacio: Biyaheng Bayani ng Bayan,” a tourism heritage promotional campaign that seeks to heighten the interest of the public about the revolutionary hero.  They are encouraging everyone of every gender, age and social standing to visit the sites where Bonifacio had stepped in and shared a part of his life to be written in Philippine history.
     Moreover, the project seeks to encourage the public, particularly the youth, to rediscover and revisit 16 sites in Luzon associated with the life of the working-class hero and promote domestic tourism at the same time. 
     NHCP chair Maria Serena Diokno said the launching of the travel campaign is just one of the many activities lined up for the Bonifacio Sesquicentennial this year.

Bataan's Dambana ng Kagitingan

Yesterday the country commemorated Araw ng Kagitingan.
Araw ng Kagitingan, memorialize  the fall of the Bataan peninsula during World War II after months of fighting between the Philippine and American armies against the invading Japanese. The united Philippine-US army, depleted of food, medicine and ammunition, was forced to surrender to the Japanese on 9th of April, 1942. The now prisoners of war consisted of 68,000 Filipinos and 11,796 Americans.
 The Japanese, unprepared for the large number of prisoners, decided to move them by foot from Bataan to another base located 140 kilometers (90 miles) away in San Fernando. On this forced trek, known as the Death March of Bataan, many prisoners died due to starvation, disease, dehydration and exhaustion on their way to San Fernando. Many prisoners were also murdered along the way. However, the prolonged defense of the Bataan peninsula hindered the Japanese army's progress, enabling the Filipino and US forces to prepare for subsequent battles and ultimately win the war against the Japanese. This gruesome period during the war is used as a reminder of the courage tenacity and willingness to sacrifice to the point of death by the Philippine and American forces. It also is a day to remember Filipinos who continue to fight for freedom on behalf of the Philippines.
During our last visit to Bagac, Bataan, we made sure to visit the site where it all happened.


The Future is Bright for Filipino Students

Young Filipinos on the threshold of graduating from secondary education or considering taking their studies to a higher notch should consider taking their talents to universities abroad to further cement the superiority of Filipinos in the international community.  Have no idea how to go about this? Read on.

It is undeniable that Filipinos excel in almost anything they take on when they go abroad. There have been many testimonies where foreigners praise the enterprise and enthusiasm of the Filipino wherever they go. This is why students who have the skills and desire to shine in schools abroad should go to IDP Education Pty Ltd (IDP Philippines) for assistance.

IDP Philippines is the Filipino student’s entry point to a global network of  universities and colleges in the Canada, New Zealand, USA, UK and Australia. Established in 1996, IDP Philippines not only offers student placement but is also owner & testing center of the world famous English proficiency exam called IELTS  (International English Language Testing System). It is the most popular and most widely accepted English language assessment in the world. IELTS is accepted in 130 countries by 7,000+ institutions.

Because of its close ties and alliances with key institutions in the top countries for foreign study, IDP Philippines brings to the fore unique opportunities for Filipino students to excel. They can establish themselves in their chosen career path by getting international credentials that can only enhance their natural abilities and talents. Over 40 years in the business, the IDP Education network has successfully placed in excess of 300,000 students, contributing to the ultimate goal of breaking down cultural barriers and promoting international cohesion.

Filipinos are on the brink of becoming a significant player in the international market. The deployment of the young abroad to achieve not only a better understanding of other people but also advanced systems can only enhance the advantages they now have. There is no block or hindrance to achieving international recognition except for the reluctance to try. Filipinos, forge ahead!

GLOBAL VISAS Makes Relocating or Visiting Abroad Easier

The Filipinos dream of going overseas for both work and pleasure. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas reported in 2011 that there were 10.4 million Filipinos in permanent, temporary or irregular status abroad, about 11% of the projected 93.9 million total Philippine population in the same year.

Given a chance one in every five Filipinos would want to emigrate or visit a foreign country.

A critical hurdle for most Filipinos looking to go abroad, however, is the tedious and sometimes nerve-wracking visa application process.

Indeed, the challenge of putting together the right documents and properly lodging an application for visa to one’s destination country could easily lead to discouragement and despair.

Global Visas, world leader in immigration and visa consultancy recognized a global need for expertise in this area. It opened its head office in London in 1996 and now has 250 immigration experts worldwide, including 51 in its Cebu operation which started in October 2010.

The Cebu office has facilitated the issuance of about 200 visas of various categories to various countries since its launch.

Global Visas Cebu has won for its clients the most difficult battles as far as visa facilitation is concerned, including that of Maritess Sejas, who successfully reapplied with Global Visas advice after being denied visa issuance several times.

The expertise of the Global Visas team allows it to deliver the best quality service in the lodgment of spousal, fiancée, tourist and working visas. Aida Abarquez was awarded a multiple-entry visa to the USA as a result of a Global Visas – guided application. She is now able to make more visits to her husband who is working there.

The company holds the distinct advantage of having personnel in destination countries as well as constant updating of visa regulations in these areas: the USA, Canada, UK and other parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asian territories.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Power Lunch-ing at Pan Pacific Manila Hotel

Early last March, I had one of the best lunch, which was a business lunch.  As a business-minded junkee that I am, I value the importance of a meeting over a lunch or dinner.  It just so happened that I was to meet one of the partners of PurpleLines Events-a company where I work as a freelance Event Manager.   Pan Pacific Manila Hotel had been partners with us hosting a number of events from debut to weddings.  Business lunches are important for corporate networking, hammering out business details in a social setting and meeting prospective clients wherein your image, your company's name and whatever deals are on the agenda are at stake. 
But what could be a better lunch than having the setting faced on the beautiful Manila bay, surrounded by an elegant but not stiff ambiance and sumptuous food.
And on the other side is a stretch of dishes of procured pristine meat, veggies, fruits and pastries, and serve it with the simple elegance it requires.
Begin with an array of appetizers like sushis, or quesadillas,or the fresh catch of the day given flavors.

Opt to have a healthy meal with fresh produce, being a hotel that champions in farm to plate  service.  Make your own salad with your choice of leaves, meats, cheese and dressing.
Or get something prepared already apt to your salad whim for the day.

Make sure to have a good portion of carbs to provide you with enough energy to power up the rest of the day, with a selction of fine freshly-baked breads and rice.
Feeling like having a heavy Italian lunch?  Head-on to the pasta station and have one of the chef prepare a hearty one for you, of course with your selection of pasta and sauce.
Next to the pasta grind is the meat-carving station.  US. certified Angus Beef can surely brighten your clients' day.   Have it with a soup of the day, and chef's choice of  Mediterranean cuisine dishes to have as viands or as it is.
Of course, sweeten up the business agenda with some desserts of the side.  The lounge carries quite a number of it, either with fruits, pastries or scoops of  ice creams.   

All these and a good news form our friends from Pan Pacific Manila.  
Starting this month, Pan Pacific Manila’s Pacific Lounge offers the best deal in town – the Business Lunch Buffet!
Savor the daily selections specially prepared by Chef Renato featuring an exquisite spread of international cuisine with tempting appetizers, assorted healthy salad options, soup du jour, enticing entrées, daily carving station, and a heavenly selection of sweet treats, all inclusive of brewed coffee or tea.
The Business Lunch Buffet is available from Mondays to Fridays, 12:00pm to 1:30pm at PHP 600 net per person.
For enquiries and reservations, email enquiry.ppmnl@panpacific.com or call 318-0788 and ask for the Butler, of course!
Pan Pacific Manila is at M. Adriatico corner Gen. Malvar Streets, Malate, Manila.  For events and other offers, visit www.panpacific.com/manila.
The P 600 price tag may seem steep for lunch, but for a meal at one of the city's very best upscale hotel restaurants, it's a shocking value.

Need to mention also that aside from the gorgeous lunch, we also had a fantastic conversation with the hotel's Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Ms. Marga.  My husband and I loved the talk specially with how she told us of her approach to business and life with wit, wisdom, and a sense of humor.