Friday, September 29, 2006

KKK, Sidra and Razon's

September 16, 2006 was the 3rd time we went to MOA. They have a 3-day sale from Sept. 15-17. They’re open up to midnight as consideration to mall goers that have stronger spending guts, este lakas ng loob gumastos, during times like these due to the perfect alignment of the remaining eight planets of the solar system, a week after the demotion of Pluto as a planet, the normal working Pinoy’s salary day falling on a Friday and SM’s 3-day sale.

By the way, the solar system just lost Pluto as its 9th planet due to its small size (2/3 of our moon) and the shape of its orbit. It was demoted to a dwarf planet last September 9, 2006 and was given the name 134340. I wonder how this will affect Madam Auring and the rest of the fortune tellers. I guess they have to re-write their text books and reconsider their 2006 predictions – they also now have a good excuse why their predictions did not come true – “nawala kasi ang Pluto eh,” hehe. In the more realistic side, one of my officemate shared how her mother have to bring to school daily a copy of the newspaper with Pluto’s demotion just to let the student’s believe what she is saying which is against what is currently written in all student’s Science text books. She was also contemplating to erase Pluto on the big mural of the Solar System in their school and waiting for some official guidelines from the Department of Education. Huhu.

Let’s now go back to Mall of Asia. We parked in the North Wing parking building to familiarize ourselves to the location of the parking entrance, the parking exit and its appropriateness as parking area when hypermarting.

Lunch was in KKK. It means Kainan sa Kalye Kanluran. It got its name from the location of its original store in 74 West Avenue, Quezon City. They opened a branch in MOA. There are old news clips about KKK framed on the wall before you enter the restaurant. My wife like the native wall covering they have made from some plant similar to thin bamboos in appearance and how the upper end arches down near the spot lights.

They serve chichacorn in K ceramic plates while you wait for your order.

Lilia scolds me every time I scoop the chichacorn using a spoon. She said that I’m not being a good example to Hannah – she might imitate me and choke. KKK’s tag line is true! It is a food revolution. Sarap!

We ordered their best seller Inihaw na Liempo Bacon Cut (PhP 180). The grilled liempo are thin similar to bacon but not hard or crispy like real bacons. It is sprinkled with sesame seeds and the barbeque taste is delicious. It’s a wonderful dish. Even the atchara on the side is delicious. You should try this.


The Sinigang na Lechon (PhP 220) is also delicious. The lechon meat is tender and the balat ng lechon is tasty even though it is not crunchy due to being soaked in the sinigang’s tamarind soup. I never thought that lechon taste can blend well with the sour sinigang taste. This is also a recommended dish.


Their bottomless iced tea (PhP 55) is ok; the ripe mango shake (PhP 60) is ok. I love their bottomless sago at gulaman (PhP 55). The taste brings me back to my elementary school days where I buy a plastic cup of it (I believe it is less than PhP 1 then) after playing sikyo, jolen, patintero, tumbang preso or climbing trees. Haaaay!, those were the days. Just thinking what game to play and how to hide my injuries to my parents due to fear of cotton balls dipped in red merthiolate which we called gamot na pula (array!). Di pa uso ang Terramycin at Betadyne sa bahay noon eh. Sarap talagang maging bata.


After lunch, my wife introduced me to science of bed sheet quality and smoothness and its relation to thread count. The higher the thread count the smoother and more comfy the sheets become. We found Homeport bed linen products from Australia which the SM sales boys said were used as beddings in the house for the reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother. My wife and the sales boys were so convincing that we ended up buying 2 sets of beddings with 315 thread counts and colors to match with the curtains we bought 2 weeks ago. My wife told me that Oprah’s sheets have 400 thread counts and how you could just imagine how soft and smooth it is. I also learned about duvet covers and fitted sheets.

Hannah played in the big inflatable castle. For two minutes she was just jumping up and down in one place and not trying out the slide, the house and the puppets. We were shouting to coach her but she can’t hear us with all the noise. There goes our PhP 30 for 5 minutes - spent jumping up and down like what she does in our bed. Good thing one of the attendants guided her to the slide where she finally got hooked to sliding - she doesn’t want to stop and wanted more.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the windy bay walk watching the sun set while I got a free back massage from my wife and my daughter on my lap taking her afternoon milk. The area is also good for kite flying. You won’t run out of strong winds. There were a couple of kids flying their colorful kites with their parents. We should have brought Hannah’s kite.

The fireworks by the bay started at 7:00 PM. People inside the mall ran like crazy towards the bay side when they heard the fireworks begin – we included.

We went to Sidra and saw their Persian carpets and wooden chests. I love wooden chests (baul) and have long wanted to buy one to use as a center table with lots of space in it to hold stuffs. They have intricately carved baul from Persia made of Rosewood that have drawers and brass accents. I like the fragrance of Camphor wood better than Rosewood but the Persian owner said that the Rosewood fragrance will guarantee that whatever you put inside the chest will not be attacked by insects. Good selling point. However, the size we wanted, which should almost be as big as a normal center table is not in their shop. But they were willing to bring it to our home the next day just for us to see what it looks like – even if we decide not to buy it. We declined, afraid of spending PhP 28,000 for a wooden box for old magazines and other old stuffs. Their bauls are really the best I’ve seen so far.

Dinner was in Razon’s of Guagua for their famous halo-halo dessert. It was already 8:30PM but the place was still full and all tables had halo-halo. We have to wait for some table to finish.

We ordered sisig and tapsilog. They were good. The sisig is better than Stall #3 in Taste Asia. Another sisig variety that I like is the all-crunchy sisig of Poquito Mas.

Razon’s have been making halo-halo since 1908. Their store in Guagua, Pampangga is still open and for almost a century, the ingredients remained the same: sun ripened saging na saba, macapuno, and leche flan with a dash of dayap rind. I don’t know how they do it but the shaved ice never form hard ice clusters that is usually present in halo-halo of other restaurants. The spoon sinks easily all the way to the bottom of the cup so you can stir easily and enjoy your Razon’s halo-halo in a jiffy. Yumyum.

While waiting for the shuttle tour around MOA, we saw men on tall stilts walking around MOA playing with fire. Hannah called them giant boys. We never got the chance to ride the shuttle tour because every time it passes our stop, nobody wanted to go down. Hannah cried when we left the stop while saying “gusto ko sakay ng jeep.” She fell asleep afterwards.

We saw the stall of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the reservations-only ancestral home and fine dining experience near Malacanang palace that, like Antonio’s of Tagaytay, serves delicious, expensive dishes. A full course meal ranges from PhP 1,500 to PhP 2,000 per person and you should choose a menu 24 hours in advance. Absolutely no walk ins. You get to tour the Legarda Mansion before dining. Visit their website at They have a gallery of who their guests were from 2003 and the current menus available. We also saw Highlands Steakhouse restaurant. This is the one and only branch of Highlanders Steakhouse which is located outside of Tagaytay Highlands. Now we can enjoy what those highlanders are having. Visit their website at Entrees cost around PhP 600 to PhP 3,500.

Going home.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Lamp

Last September 9, 2006, we went to Hannah’s school for the parent-teacher consultation regarding the result of our daughter’s 1st periodical review as a pre-casa student. She got high grades on all her subjects and her teacher added that she participates actively in class. She is also the star dancer during their Buwan ng Wika presentation of “Bongga ka day!” While dancing, being a little girl who is so very familiar to us taking photos of her, she immediately smiled gracefully to whoever points a camera at her even if the actual target is the kid beside her – camera shy, hehe.

I’ll share with you one story that teacher Gemma told us. One time she asked all her pupils to get their notebook from their bags. Hannah did not know which notebook to get so teacher Gemma asked Hannah’s seat mate, Althea, to help her. The following day, she again asked her pupils to get their green book number 2. This time, Hannah did not do anything and just sat on her chair. When she asked Hannah why she isn’t doing anything, our 3.5 year old daughter replied “Althea will get my book for me.”

We left school and went straight to SM Mall of Asia. This is the second time we will go there after its opening last May 21, 2006. It was already 11:00AM so we stopped by Cinnabon in South Super Highway for a coffee break. This is becoming our routine stop whenever we go to Manila. We love their classic cinnamon rolls (Php 90) and cinnamon sticks (Php 85- for 6 pcs). Great for coffee. Goldilock’s have their version of cinnamon sticks. It’s cheaper (PhP 27) but the sticks are thinner and harder to bite. Unlike Cinnabon’s version that is very easy to bite and crunchy without being hard from the outer layer up all the way to the middle.

You’ll definitely not going to miss SM Mall of Asia (MOA). A huge bronze globe similar to Universal Studios welcomes you as you reach the south most tip of EDSA. Thank heavens we still got parking slots at the 4th level South Parking overlooking the Church of the Way, the Truth and the Life. MOA is the largest mall in the Philippines and the 3rd largest mall in the world (next to West Edmonton Mall in Canada and the Golden Resources Mall in Beijing, China). It is built on 19.5 hectares of reclaimed land and has a gross floor area of 386,224 square meters. When we went there, the mall already have 700 plus establishments in its compound.

We looked for furniture, curtains and clothes. We found a nice lamp in Regalong Pambahay which we bought instantly. Meanwhile, Hannah was busy unbuttoning and buttoning all clothes she can see. This is the new skill taught to them in school. I became a victim of her new skill one time I went home from work. She wouldn’t let me change to my home clothes because she wants to repeatedly button and unbutton my polo shirt.

We ate a late lunch in Taste Asia at 4PM. The Kapampangan pork sisig set meal (upper pics, Php 75) was sinfully good. We ordered one more sizzling plate of it good for two without the rice (Php 120). The grilled oysters with cheese and garlic (lower pics, PhP 199 for 14 pcs) look great but did not taste fresh. We did not finish even half of it. I hope others did not have the same experience.

We finally had dinner by 10PM at Tandoori King after my wife finally gave up shopping. If you are into fragrant spices, exotic flavors, savory dishes, and that curry taste, go to Tandoor King. Tandoor (lower right pic) is a primitive clay oven rubbed with masala spice and used in the East for centuries to cook meats on a bed of hot charcoal. It originated in ancient India several centuries ago. Whenever the emperors and maharajas traveled, their elephants carried the clay ovens so the royal chefs can prepare delicious juicy roasted meats and fowl and hot breads for the princely travellers. The Tropicanaan pizzanaan (lower left pic, PhP 175) is their version of pizza that uses tandoori bread called naan as its crust then topped with ham, pineapple and mozzarella cheese. Different crust - yummy.

Other MTV inspired pizzanaan varieties are Black Eyed Peas and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Tandy’s combo (upper right pic, PhP 225) is the sampler meal where you get tandoori chicken, tandoori liempo, fish tikka tandoori and tandoory spicy longanisa served with saffron rice, heavenly salsa, and Tandy sauce. Yummy.
We left MOA at 11:00PM

This is the lamp we bought (left pic) from Regalong Pambahay. We got the vase (right pic) for free by using the gift certificates that we earned when we bought the lamp.

Lilia contemplating how to redesign our living room (at 1:30 in the morning!)

This is the finished product.

And these are the product we finished - Go Nuts Donuts and coffee for breakfast.

Tagaytay Tayo!

While driving to the office one morning, a thought popped in my mind.

"Why don't me and my girls (my wife Lilia and our daughter Hannah Louisse) escape our daily routine and go on a weekend escape somewhere."

The thought of spending the weekend in Caylabne, Baguio, Tagaytay, Batangas or even Makati suddenly came to view and images of spending the weekend on a different place without thinking of work made me drool while driving. I immediately texted my wife and in a few minutes we decided to stay in Tagaytay the coming weekend. Its not that far but we have not really explored it before. This will be part 1 of our Tagaytay exploration.

We packed our stuffs in a medium sized luggage and headed to Tagaytay on September 3, 2006. We reached Silang at 10:30AM and stopped by Gourmet’s Café for a break. The restaurant looked like an old house and the compound has a farm in its backyard where the greens in the salad bar comes from. In other words, they grow what they serve. Educational tour on the farm is accepted. There is also a shop along Aguinaldo Highway that sells their fresh produce, coffee beans and salad dressings.

The Gourmet BLT (157 PhP) is yummy. The bacon is crunchy and the salad fresh and crisp. My wife like my ice coffee with banana float better than the ice coffee she ordered (66 PhP each). We ordered mango shake for Hannah (51 PhP).
We had lunch in Yellow Cab Tagaytay - less than an hour after leaving Gourmet’s Café.
A box of Charlie Chan and a 10 inch meat lover’s pizza.
At 1:30PM we headed for Tagaytay Vista Hotel to check in. We want to see the change of Taal Vista for ourselves. Back when my wife and I were single, this place was called Taal Vista Lodge. The view deck to Taal Volcano was open to the public. But now it is strictly for hotel/restaurant guests or gate crashers willing to pay 100 pesos parking. In 2004 Fuego Hotels & Properties Management Corporation completed the face lift and transformed Taal Vista Lodge to Taal Vista Hotel. It’s a big change from the Taal Vista we knew before me and my wife married in 2001. Visit the web site of Tall Vista Hotel to see how it looks like now.

A ridge room costs more than 6,500 pesos per night so we opted for a Deluxe room worth 5,200 pesos with complementary buffet breakfast for 2. Kids below 5 years ald can come along without extra charge. We have two twin-sized beds and a sofa bed in our room. We rearranged the room and converted the three beds into one super duper king size bed hehe :) Hotel policy doesn’t allow this so we faithfully returned the original room’s arrangement before we checked out the next day.

We had dinner in Sanctuario, Tagaytay Rotonda. It is a three storey narrow restaurant. You should get a table at the basement where you will be transported to another place especially for night dining. If you have little kids, try not to go to the 2nd floor because the narrow and steep spiral staircase is scary and unsafe for kids.
This is how one end of the basement looks like.
We selected the other end of the basement with a window overlooking Taal volcano and near a piano where Hannah played her concerto. Thank goodness we were the only one in the basement that time. The room is dim, lit only by mood lights, we sat on cozy cushions, the floor covered with banig and walls decorated with lots of old looking wooden decors.
We had their famous raisin bread (30 pesos) that is crunchy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. The bangus carbonara (180 pesos) is ok although I can’t taste the bangus on it. I should have ordered the pasta with tuyo (160 pesos). Notice that the table mat is not made of cloth to complement the theme.

I forgot what this is called but the longganisa and other fillings inside are good.

After dinner, we watched the lady dance performances wearing short shorts, gowns and tuxedo with cane in the lobby cafe of Taal Vista Hotel then called it a day.
I woke up early the next day to take early morning shots of Taal lake and take 360 degree panorama photos for later conversion to virtual reality QuickTime files similar to the virtual tours in Microsoft Encarta. This feature (stitch assist and 360 degrees panorama) is a must if you are to buy a digital camera.
We had a long and relaxing buffet breakfast. I like their fried tawilis (one of the world's rarest fish found only in Taal Lake) and hot chocolate where you can see bits of shredded chocolates floating in the pot. I’d come back for their buffet breakfast on our next escape to Tagaytay (or maybe try Breakfast @ Antonio’s).
We checked out at 12:00 noon then went to Picnic Groove to have lunch and spend the afternoon there. We were supposed to fly the kite we brought but the wind is not strong enough to carry our kite up. I remembered that Hannah had a great time when we first flew the kite last year.

On our way home, still inspired by our escape and Hannah’s repeated complaints that she doesn’t want to go home, we ended up in Our Home to buy two lamp shades and a full set of curtains and rods. The total cost is like staying in Tall Vista for another night. Anyway, we get to keep the ambiance at home every night - for free.