Sunday, November 28, 2010

New York, New York!

i got here a week ago, i'm still adjusting to everything, the weather, the timezone, the culture, everything. and it doesn't help much that it's getting really cold each day but hey it's going to be winter soon so what can i expect. ahh, there are so many things i want to do and so many places i want to check out and i hope to be able to tick each one out before it gets unbearably cold, weee!

anyway, i found this online:

Top 10 Things to Do in New York
10.) Take in the Customary Historical Landmarks.
While every proud American should visit the historical significance of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, The World Trade Center Memorial and the other national landmarks in New York, there are simply too many to detail on a list of ten. For that reason, the historical landmarks are combined into one section.

9.) Join the Argument for Best Pizza.
One of the longest running debates is not only New York vs. Chicago pizza, but who actually has the best pizza in New York. Tons of New York restaurants serving homemade pizza offer up a voice in the debate. You simply can't take a trip to NYC without adding your input on the matter, and fortunately, there's no tastier debate! Try the classic pies at Lombardi's Pizzeria on Spring Street for a taste of old NY and don't let the line at Grimaldi's Pizzeria in Brooklyn scare you, it moves pretty quickly!

8.) Take it to the Top of the Rock
The newly opened Top of the Rock Observation Deck on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza offers one of the most impressive views of one of the most impressive cities in the world. It's open until midnight for a romantic visage of the twinkling stars above mirroring the glittering lights from the city below.

7.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art
From the early 20th century portraits and sculptures to the steel mastery of Frank Stella, the Met is one of the foremost collections of fine art in the world. The museum is so expansive and visual; you should plan on spending an entire day here. If you've never been, get on a flight to New York City and go see some fine art. Tip: Wear comfortable shoes!

6.) Radio City Music Hall
Is there a more American theater than Radio City Music Hall? This timeless testament to entertainment has captivated visitors since the 1930s and no other dance troupe will ever hold the esteem in the hearts of Americans like the Rockettes.

5.) Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Where else in the world can you have a picture taken with Britney Spears, President Bush and Jack Sparrow? This world-famous wax museum is one of the most visited spots in New York and you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit these stunningly accurate figures.

4.) Broadway
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. And without a doubt, you should try to make it to a Broadway show! This is the most famous theater district in the world, and you can choose from timeless classic productions like “Chicago” at the Ambassador or a newer stage rendition of “Mary Poppins” at the New Amsterdam Theater. Either way, no trip to New York is complete without some singing and dancing.

3.) Times Square
It doesn't have to be New Year’s Eve to enjoy Times Square in New York City. As the heartbeat of NYC, Times Square signifies everything that the city represents. The excitement, the glamour, the independent free-spiritedness and artistic qualities of New York are all on display in this timeless spot. One of the best places to begin sampling true New York night life.

2.) Carnegie Hall
An entire trip can be dedicated to Carnegie Hall and its collection of delicious restaurants, its enticing gift shop and educational museum. As one of the premiere concert halls in the nation, Carnegie Hall is a national institution.

1.) Stroll through Central Park
Leave your New York hotel and enjoy a stroll or ride a bike through one of America's most famous parks. There are plenty of recreational activities and there's always something special going on in the park, like the Central Park Film Festival. Besides the natural splendor of the surroundings, the best part about Central Park is that it’s free!

so help me, God.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Island-hopping at El Nido

it rained the past days so i deem it such a blessing when we were greeted by warm sunshine that morning, just perfect for our scheduled island tour. it was Mang Sonny who introduced us to Mang Jun, a fellow Cebuano who became more enthusiastic upon learning we speak the same dialect.

we set off at around 9am and proceeded to our packaged tour A which supposedly include Payong-Payong Beach, Shimizu, Miniloc, Secret Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon and 7 Commando Beach.

our first stop was in Payong-Payong Beach, whoa! sand was so fine, waters azure blue and it was deserted we had it all to ourselves that we had a grand time clicking away and frolic in the sun.

after reminding everyone that it was only our first stop, we headed to our next destination. we anchored near Shimizu Beach for snorkeling and fish feeding. indeed, fishes abound in the area and they are as cam whores as we are too!

for our lunch, Mang Jun took us instead to Snake Is. which is supposedly part of Tour B. He said the sand bar would be more interesting and we could trek towards the view deck for a better view of the surroundings as well. we took more photos, took a dip while Mang Jun prepared our lunch.

lunch was composed of grilled fish and pork, crabs and some vegetable salad. yum! Mang Jun does know how to prepare an island feast!

and that is the breath-taking view from the view deck. the hues of greens and blues are totally relaxing even if the sun was shining down brightly on us.

from Snake island, our next destination was the Secret Lagoon.

and here's the entry to the secret

our final two stops were the Small Lagoon and the Big lagoon.

we finished with the tour at around 5PM totally exhausted but sated. El Nido is indeed gorgeous and everything there makes us feel we are truly in paradise.

(Tour cost is 500PhP including the snorkeling gear and meals.)

The Road To El Nido

i can't sugarcoat it, the drive towards El Nido is indeed rough, though the first 4 hours or so ride is smooth it could get dizzying at times because the roads are winding.

it didn't help much that it was raining during our trip.

i took bonamine and though i fell asleep on the first few hours i was jolted off from sleep because of the sudden twist and turns.

on the last 2 hours of the trip that's when the roads became really bad. parang nangangabayo ka lang. especially for me who was seated on the rear most part of the van.

but i had great company, we slept, ate a lot, we had chips and hopia and asado, and pianonos bought from Baker's Hill. we'd sing, dance to 80's music playing in Mang Sonny's stereo.

and when we finally got to El Nido this is what we saw:

the beach looks so calm, serene, inviting. the trip is just worth it!

we left Puerto Princesa at around 11am, had lunch at Roxas and arrived El Nido at past 5pm. so yeah, the trip takes around 6 hours.

Please contact Mang Sonny: 0926-5732031 if in case you'd want to go there and need a van.

our roundtrip van rental was P12,000.00, when we got to PP airport, some ladies there are offering van rentals for 12k one way.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

panic mode!

i'm in a sort of panic mode as i write this. it is after all the final hour for NU 107, the radio station that rocked not just our country but my young life as well. yes, i was one of those who'd leave their radio on and tuned in to NU even as i sleep. it was a comforting companion as i battle homesickness being far away from home during my adolescent years.

and more than 10 years hence, and even if i have missed listening to the radio as i faced my more mature life i sort of rediscover listening to it again via their online live stream. and it felt like coming back home as i get to listen again to the songs i've grown up with. the songs from the cassette tapes i have accumulated through the years which remained kept and mildewed somewhere became fresher and more recent as we get to listen to them again on air.

argh, the final hour! it's like slowly saying goodbye to our youth! it's like saying goodbye to all the memories most especially during our grung-y years (now more currently known as emo c'mon, let's face it, guys! ):p

i guess we'll just have to face the fact that our golden generation has passed and it's now the younger ones turn to enjoy their slot of the airwaves perhaps?

ah, well...let me just relish this till all i hear is white noise by the time this day is over. farewell, NU.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

free bag tags!

got this from KLM, thanks! thanks!!!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

travel tips

read about this and i just want to share it all to you:

You’re not always going to stay at a five-star hotel or have first class accommodation at a highly rated resort. Sometimes, the best trips around the country are the ones off the beaten path. This is where your survival instincts should kick in. The best places are not necessarily the most expensive ones. Nor are they always the safest and most comfortable ones. There are things to consider when exploring the destinations that aren’t on the guidebooks.

1. Security, security, security.

The thing to remember the most is, you’re not in your comfort zone. So safety and security should be your utmost concern. Don’t bring important and valuable things just because. Pack only necessary stuff. Make sure people at home know where you’re going so just in case, they’ll know where to start looking for you. Before you leave, get the contact information of local authorities. Also, take your valuables with you when exploring and touring—don’t leave them in your hotel room.

2. Cash, please!

Your credit is good, but there are many establishments in the country, especially the most rural of areas, that don’t accept cards. You should have sufficient cash with you wherever you go. And have a little extra for emergencies, like being stranded and having to spend an extra night. You might also need to ask a local for favors, like running an errand for you or to help you with a flat tire or whatever. Tipping is recommended.

3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Don’t expect the rest of the country to be as cosmopolitan as the capital city. There are some really backward communities with traditions and customs we have to respect. When going to these places and mingling with locals, be courteous, respectful and always be self-aware. You never know if you’re already offending someone with words, actions or appearances. If you’re speaking in Tagalog, the usual “po” and “opo” should be used to address the elderly.

4. Very superstitious.

Some communities have superstitions that are outrageous. However, you’re going to their turf and that’s another thing you need to respect. Just because something doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense at all. In the provinces (and even some households in Metro Manila) believe in bad omens and whatnot. Don’t argue with their beliefs using scientific data or by proving them wrong. The same goes for religious beliefs.

5. One with Gaia.

In the countryside, it’s all about nature. Try your very best not to spoil it. When you’re at a secluded beach or trekking or simply out in the wild, don’t contribute to the pollution with your plastic bottles and cigarette butts. “Secret” places don’t usually have maintenance people to clean after you. Clean as you go.

6. Walk, fashion, baby!

Dress appropriately. It’s a tropical country so being in light fabrics is the best way to go. Wear sensible shoes. You’re not in a fashion show, so leave your couture for your Friday night outs in the city. Also, it’s very tempting to wear revealing clothes since it’s mostly hot and humid. But you have to cover up a little when entering conservative places like churches. And you really don’t want male bystanders whistling as you walk by, so don’t show too much skin.

7. “So dami naman the insekto!”

Another thing to leave at home is your colegiala accent. Not only is it irritating, it also gives the impression that you’re a high-maintenance person. In the countryside, that’s interpreted as a spoiled rich brat that can be taken advantage of. Speaking in your “you think it’s cute” affectation will make people charge you higher for services, like boat rentals. And if bad people are around, let’s just say your parents will have to come up with that multimillion peso ransom.

8. Driving ‘round the mountain.

When going on road trips, it’s important to be all gassed up. You don’t really know where the next gas station’s going to be and you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a bottle of water. Always be prepared.

9. I’m a survivor!

If you’re visiting exotic places and you really want to experience what the destination has to offer, rough it out and really experience it—even if it means you have to eat local delicacies that you normally wouldn't’t. It’s also a good way to conquer your fears by braving it all—worms for dinner, the rapids, heights, the list goes on. Also, if you’re going trekking, quit complaining about every steep climb or bump. It’s all part of it.. You’ll only really start having fun when you stop being such a big whiner. Just go with the flow and enjoy every minute of the trip.

10. Strike a pose.

The best thing about the countryside experience is the memory of it when you get back home. It’s best if you have remembrances of the trip like souvenirs that you can buy at the destination. And it’s even better if you have the pictures to prove that you were there. Every backdrop is a chance for a photo-op. The Philippines has a lot of magnificent scenery that you simply have to capture. Take lots and lots of pictures and show them all off on Facebook!

by Ed Biado

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken Barbecue

Prepared this dish for my sister's birthday:

2 kilos chicken (1 kilo drumstick, 1 kilo breast, cut into serving pieces)
brown sugar
1 small bottle of beer
soy sauce
chopped garlic
ground pepper

1. Marinate chicken overnight in mixture of sugar, beer, soy sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, and calamansi.

2. When ready to cook, boil chicken in marinade mixture until about half-cooked. Remove chicken from marinade.

3. Coat chicken with catsup and Del Monte barbecue sauce. Bake chicken for about 30 minutes.

It's a bit sweet for my taste, perfect for kids. i'm preparing a second batch this time with lots of chili flakes though. :D

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Japanese Food-ography

this is why i have become fatter

fried meal from 7-11

Mos' wasabi burger

unagi with rice, cold noodles and all those sauces and condiments

some roasted pork dish with potatoes from Wolfgang Puck

yakitori with fresh and crisp shredded cabbage

gyudon which i bought from this vendo machine:

juicy katsudon

meal fit for a queen *burp!*

Friday, September 03, 2010

in fashion

they say that one has to be properly dressed when going out in the streets of Japan. i have learned to observe and fancy their get up and most of their shoes never mind if it's summer and heat is almost unbearable, yay!

here's some doll i found on the train station. beat that?

shoes must always be in fashion...

even if you are just walking around the park at noontime...

weird looking ones are always welcome...

sometimes the weirder the better too

and hey, even dogs got their own outfits

Japan Tales 2

Japan 2010

I don't think I'll ever get tired of this country. I love the vibrance, the electricity of modernization, the mystery of its ancient culture that is still evident till now...

July 17-20, 2010

It was a scorching 32C when i arrived in Osaka, it was past 7pm yet warm air blew in the surroundings. this was the first time that i ever traveled abroad by myself and i felt really excited.


the highlight of this Osaka trip was a visit to their kaiyukan or aquarium. this kaiyukan is located near the Osaka Bay and is composed of 27 tanks and about 16 walk thru exhibits where one gets to see different species of marine and non-aquatic animals.

it was my first time to see live penguins frolicking in some simulated winter environment. they all looked adorably wobbly as they walk, cuddle, and swim around.

It was a national holiday when i went there that there were just so many people around. i found the kids as entertaining though.

Just outside the aquarium is the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, i noticed that they are pretty fond of ferris wheels that you could find one in major areas in the country.

rate to the kaiyukan is 2000 yen or roughly 1000 PhP for adults.

this is a few minutes walk from the Osakako Station and as this is just beside the ferris wheel you won't really miss finding this place.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

summer fun 2010

(Bacolod-Guimaras- Iloilo)
June 11-14, 2010 with a bunch of great personalities

i've been to these places several times but i never thought i could still get to discover more places and enjoy it even more. this is one trip we plan out each year and everything seemed to have worked out as planned.

for one, we managed to secure promo flights from air philippines express at just around 2333 roundtrip.

Day 1:

we touched down Bacolod-Silay airport at around 7am where our previously arranged chartered van waited and proceeded immediately to our Silay tour after breakfast at El Ideal, one of Silay's oldest restaurant where we also got to try their famous guapple pie.

from El Ideal we visited Balay Negrense, San Diego Cathedral and the Hofilena Ancestral Home where we stayed almost 2 hours having been entertained by the owner/curator Ramon Hofilena.

A descendant to one prominent family in Negros, Mon came home from New York and tried hard to restore their ancestral home. their home eventually became the first ever ancestral home in Silay which was opened to the public, and yes, he still lives in the same house thus visiting the place is taking a peek on his private life. we got to see his rare collection of paintings even his portraits and old quite revealing photos.

he beguiled us with his knowledge of Negrense and Philippine culture in general peppered with anecdotes and trivia which entertained us to no end. never mind if he called us dumb at one time for not recognizing his favorite artists from the days of yore hehehe...

he could have invited us to stay the night but we were not really in the mood for an orgy wehehe...

from Silay we proceeded to Bacolod City and checked in at Saltimboca (not Salbakuta, stupid!)

from the hotel, we walked quite a short distance to have lunch at the nearby Chicken Deli for our first taste of authentic chicken inasal.

at around 5pm we went out to the capitol for fish feeding, playing and more photo ops. Bacolod's capitol has to be the most relaxing landmark i've ever went to. i remember taking Xan there and enjoying running around, feeding the fishes, and squealing at the sight of the swings, slide and seesaws at their park.

and it kinda reminds me of the monument in Washington DC, not that i've ever been there hehehe...

from the capitol we went Pala-pala for dinner consisting of fresh seafoods (dampa style).

after dinner, we took a dip at the pool in Saltimboca to hopefully burn some calories before we went out for some Bacolod nightlife! we had a few round of drinks at the billiards bar with May and hubby, then went up the rooftop of L Fisher Hotel for a glimpse of Bacolod skyline.

from there we walked towards Cafe Bob but it was closed already (around 2am) so we had no choice but to go to Starbucks instead for our caffeine fix before finally calling it a night.

Day 2:

we woke up quite early the following morning to check out and to visit more places in Bacolod and its nearby towns. we first checked out the Chapel of Cartwheels and the Gaston House in Manapla which is a good 45 minutes from town.

the Chapel of Cartwheels as the name implies boasts mostly of cartwheels used as walls and decorated with broken glass for its windows. shaped more like a salakot, it's high ceiling gives it a more airy and bigger feel.

on the same compound is the Gaston mansion which i remember more as the house where they shot the classic movie Oro, Plata, Mata.

from Manapla we dropped by at Victorias for the Church of the Angry Christ also known us The Church of St. Joseph the Worker. Sir Mon Hofilena would definitely disagree that the mural portrays that of an Angry Christ but rather Christ showing intense passion.

as per Sir Mon's suggestion, we also went around the chapel and checked the mural at the back which reportedly uses imported paint that could withstand rain and heat and the harsh outdoor weather.

from Victorias, we dropped by Talisay to see the Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson Ancestral Home which is now more known as the Ruins. Built in the 1900s the house is made by the sugar baron, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson for his first wife, Maria Braga. It boasts of Italian architecture with belvederes and renaissance-type balustrades. The high grade cement is said to be mixed with egg whites thus giving it a more lustrous finish? I don't know, i didn't bother actually tasting it.

the house was burned down by the Americans just so the Japanese cannot use it as their headquarters. it burned down continuously for three days destroying its wood work but its strong enough pillars and walls stayed standing tall.

after lunch and quick pasalubong shopping of Victoria sardines in Robinsons we rushed towards the port to head off to Iloilo and later to Guimaras Island.

it was almost 6pm when we got to Guimaras so we caught a glimpse of the sunset just before we got to the resort.

checked in at Villa Igang at almost 7pm and had pale pilsen after dinner kasi yun lang ang available. haay, there isn't much to say about Villa Igang, we felt we were way too secluded in the island that last orders for food was at 7pm and there isn't much to buy in their store. our room was further up some hill and we didn't get to wake up early enough to check out the caves and the rock formations around the resort.

Day 3:

we went island hopping early the following day and was so amazed with the marine sanctuary at SEAFDEC.

the most awesome creature for me will have to be their giant lapu lapu at about 10 kilos each and they are all carnivorous, EEEEK!

from there we moved to another sanctuary where we got to interact with live turtles. ;)

our last stop was this pristine white beach at an islet in Ave Maria where we finally got to dip and frolic in the sun.

just before 12 noon, we headed back to the resort, checked out and transferred to Raymen's for lunch and more beaching and stayed there till late afternoon.

went back to Iloilo late that afternoon stopping at the Trappist Monastery, the smallest plaza and the municipal hall in Guimaras before heading to the port. we checked in at Ong Bun in Iloilo, rested and checked out the night scene. after dinner at Ted's we went to Smallville and spent a couple of hours at some ktv bar, had cocktails at O2 and coffee at Coffee Break.

Day 4:

we started out with an early breakfast trip at the public market consisting of fresh mangoes, native delicacies and rice meals at some carenderia.

we later went to Breakthrough for lunch and stayed there a while pigging out on seafood and lechon.

we checked out at Ong Bun and went for a quickie visita iglesia starting with the prominent and breathtaking Miag ao Church, around 45 minutes from Iloilo proper.

after visiting several more churches namely Tigbauan, Guimbal, Molo, Jaro and dropping by Biscocho house for pasalubongs, we headed to the airport for our 9pm flight.

sunkissed, sated and full we could not help but say how much fun we had from this trip.