Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eat a 10-Course Meal This Holiday Season

I never considered that there are restaurants who will open their restaurants and make your Noche Buena for you. I guess I always thought of Noche Buena as a homemade treat. This years' Noche Buena for me was more about the gathering of people and eating together as a family no matter where you are, even if you come from different families ( Thank you for welcoming my sisters and I with open arms (you know who you are). Since more than half of our family was away this Christmas, the rest of us decided to eat a 7 to 10-Course Meal for Christmas as a way of spoiling ourselves until we drop with our holiday bellies. 

I did not expect that Aubergine will be full of holiday diners when Manila seems like a ghost-town every Christmas day when you go out of the house (well, it's one of those days when cars are scarce in the streets). Since it's almost New Year, I am looking forward to another round of holiday treats (there's post-Christmas, last-minute reunions, Media Noche, New Year, post-New Year).

Yikes! Toll Rates Increase, NLEX SLEX and SCTEX

NLEX Sample Toll Rate Increase in 2011

Balintawak to Pampanga 
Class 1 (cars, jeepneys, vans) - P174 to P195
Class 2 (buses) - P435 to P486
Class 3 (cargo trucks, trailers) - P522 to P583

There's more and it will make you go "Wow". Transportation to provinces in Luzon and Visayas will probably spike (I love airplanes...). Delivery expenses will balloon. Prices for goods coming from provinces like vegetables will probably go up, too. By the way, what is the advantage of increasing toll rates? Better take advantage of the 2010 Toll Holidays. Here's the list (

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Limited Edition BPI Globe Tattoo Stick

BPI is one of my favorite banks in Manila. Globe is my preferred telecommunications provider in Manila. Both teamed up and just made the impossible possible. Let me tell you my story and my issue with the current Globe Tattoo stick I have. I am a travel blogger, always on the move and attached to the online world. I don't want to enable the internet on my mobile phone lest I accidentally or it automatically selects the wrong billable connection. I usually bring my laptop with me so I need that Globe Tattoo stick and it works well once it has been loaded. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things I Just Learned About MMFF!

I came across the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Gabi ng Parangal on TV and learned a few things I never knew (or paid attention to) about the Festival before. I didn't finish the whole episode and incidentally watched the best of the rest - Ang Tanging Ina - a day after Christmas. 

Image Taken from the MMDA website

Here's what happened. Somehow, it left a number of questions unanswered.

Caught on Camera!

My Real Me-Time Moments with Dove Chocolates! 

Manila's Bellagio Lugang Cafe

It was a few days before Christmas and I was to attend my last Christmas party of sorts with friends. We decided to try out the newest restaurant in Greenhills that everybody was raving about. Turns out I tried this in Beijing a long time ago already (2006), only I know it as the infamous Bellagio and not by its Chinese name Lugang. These were some of the pictures of 鹿港小镇(原满星楼)a.k.a. Beijing Bellagio.

Bellagio is a go-to place in Beijing, known for its towering bean desserts.

Check out my latest Beijing Experience in this link -

Connecticut Greenhills Lugang Cafe - The menu was extensive and we ended up ordering a lot of good stuff for 10 people.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Me-Time Moments With My New Lumix and Dove Chocolates

You probably won't see me or my Lumix here but you will see my subjects, a lot of moments and what my new Lumix can do. Behind those moments is actually my moment with my camera and my desire to capture my friends' and family's first moments with Dove Chocolates and to improve my photography skills. Of course, some of them ate the Dove Chocolates so quickly so I have an excuse as to why the pictures turned out that way. I got my Dove Chocolates and Lumix at the same time so these were some of my first shots.

I used to see Dove Chocolates in supermarkets abroad. Now, this world-renowned silky smooth chocolate is available in Manila.

Noche Buena in XinTianDi

I spent the first installment of the Christmas holidays differently this year starting with the Noche Buena. I don't think I have eaten this much for 2 consecutive days in my entire life. My Christmas Eve was spent with a very late dinner at a hotel restaurant. By 10 p.m., I was so hungry and was ready to eat anything. I sampled everything that was in front of me with gusto... We ate the night away until Christmas. 2 hours passed by so fast.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pho Love

Did you go to Rockwell and watched Rent live? It was such a fun musical. Here's my story that night:

Prior to the movie, I sampled a bowl of Pho Beef Noodles at Pho24 located a few floors below the cinema.

Looking for Cooked Japanese Food

I am still on the road to finding that Japanese Restaurant. I must say finding one is hard since I don't eat raw food. I am sure there's more to Japanese food than this. 

Any Japanese food suggestions?

A BIG BIG Toy Store

Do you know who this pink cutie is??? I found this in the newest store of SM Megamall.

12 A.M. Craving Satisfied!

Having that craving at 12 a.m. but can't decide where to go? We went to a place I swore I'd never try and I was more than 100% satisfied. This place is open until the wee hours of the morning. It can actually be a date place for those who just love to eat.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lots of NomNomNom, None For Me

I can recommend something I've tried in NomNomNom, it was the best one for the night. Here's the thing: I think it's chicken or fish but I'm sure it was not my order.

Overheard About the Toll Holiday

Ready for the Christmas Holidays? Go to this link if you haven't heard of it yet:

Are you also up for a toll holiday this 2010 Christmas season? Those people living in the South or those going to Tagaytay or Laguna would be thrilled, that is, if they are in the area on these dates and times.

Quesadillas at Burritos & Tacos

I have been craving for quesadillas here in Manila ever since I got back from my Beijing trip last July. I could never forget the giant quesadilla in The Saddle Cantina that was well-kept in the Nali Patio ( I was still too shy to take pictures then. I would probably go back there anyway. Back to Manila: We just got back from our Subic trip with friends that day and decided that we want to see each other one more time before the holidays, immediately that is. We met at the quiet Burritos & Tacos restaurant where I got to sample another type of quesadillas in Manila (aside from Chili's). I insisted that we order the steak quesadilla although I am not so sure if Jeff ordered that one. I just wanted to taste Tex-Mex cuisine again. Bottom line: it looked like one. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Most Memorable Way to Spend Christmas in Manila

The most memorable way to spend Christmas is to eat like never before. We start by buying bibingkas and puto bumbongs sold during the Simbang Gabi, then we have the traditional Filipino Feast called Noche Buena on Christmas eve, followed by a reserved 10-course meal in a fine restaurant on Christmas day (in my case), then some left-overs for a day or 2. Finally, we end the year right with another feast on New Year's eve called Media Noche. All the pounds will have come off before next Christmas. It's fun to do with all the Christmas carols and decorations in the background. It's just one of the things that make the Philippines a nice place to visit during the Christmas season. It's one of the secrets as to why we love Christmas - eating. We complain after because we get heavier but we do it again and again.

Finally, it just gets exciting when all of the dates where there are feasts are declared as holidays in this country. You work and you get extra or you don't work and eat with your friends and family! 

Here's a list of the 2010 Christmas holidays: 

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Christmas Holidays in the Philippines!

Heads up, people! There are 2 ways to look at this. One is vacation time and you will have more time for family and friends. Tis' almost the time for opening of Christmas gifts and the time for jumping up and down for the New Year. That's double pay for regular holidays (200%) and 130% (for special non-working holidays) for those who are very hard-working!  The other one is forced spending for gifts for inaanaks and no income time coupled with pig-out sessions, shelling out for the extra 13th month pay and no earnings since your shop is closed for the holidays. In the Philippines, we call it Holiday Economics and spending becomes good. Now, what if we spend it elsewhere like abroad? There's a 50-50 chance for that.

Here's the list for holidays from December 24, 2010 to January 1, 2011.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Looking for Car Insurance Experts Online?

I don't have a car but others I know might. If you're reading this, you surely have some form of access to the Internet. This news just in: You can buy your car insurance online now in Manila (without talking to anyone if you're tired of hearing from insurance companies). This website can give you an instant quote based on your car model and their recommended insurance even on a holiday. You pay the market rates with your credit card instantly. Your car is insured! Just wait for the policy in your doorstep. 

Chocolatey Dairy Queen Christmas Treats

I would sometimes downplay my love for chocolate in the last couple of years because it was a known allergen. I just gave myself a break this December and enjoyed a cup of the Candy Cane Chill Blizzard among many other seasonal Dairy Queen treats (the Mint Mocha Moolatte and the Christmas Dilly Bar) that were in front of me last December 2. The Candy Cane Chill Blizzard is only available during this Christmas season and you might just never hear or taste it again. Imagine soft serve creamy vanilla Dairy Queen ice cream blended with candy cane pieces and thin slices of chocolate chunks.

My thoughts on the Candy Cane Chill Blizzard:

  • It feels Christmas-y with every scoop. 
  • It tastes better and better with each scoop and is quite addicting. 
  • Even if it becomes melted ice cream at around 30 minutes, I still felt like a kid fishing out and finding the endless chocolate chunks in my Blizzard.
  • I found myself going back again and again to this cup even if I was full with all the other Dairy Queen treats.
  • I say giving in to chocolate with a Dairy Queen Candy Cane Chill Blizzard was worth it.

A Smoke-Free Philippines?

While I was in college, I wondered if the pocket gardens they put up for smokers was just a fad. Thankfully, the pocket gardens helped me avoid cigarette smoke (which my body rejects as an allergen) while I was at school. It was then possible to just inhale some of the fresh air from the trees that covered the whole campus. At that time, smoking was also strictly prohibited inside enclosed spaces like malls and airports. I was thankful for that too from a non-smoker perspective. This way, it was easier to just drag a smoker friend in a non-smoking place and just enjoy the conversation without feeling sick of the smoke.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Food Writer's Top 22 Memories

I hope to have a wealth of meaningful experiences throughout my life. I am willing to try on other people's shoes and I might just have an experience of my own worth writing about even if it is the same experience. From an expert's point of view, everything seems so easy, memorable and magical. I long to be an expert in my own right and write about my foodie experiences from my own tastes, likes and dislikes.

MMDA's Christmas Gift to Private Vehicles

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) just opened special motorized lanes for private vehicles in the spirit of Christmas. The so-called "Christmas Lanes", soon to be "Mabuhay Lanes" after the holidays, will serve as alternate routes for the long stretch of traffic often encountered in EDSA. Future traffic update: Expect routes cleared of obstructions (even "potholes and road nuisances will be immediately repaired) and traffic enforcers who are ready to assist you along the Christmas Lanes. The purpose of these lanes is to divert the private vehicles to special comfortable lanes so that they don't use EDSA anymore, thereby reducing the number of vehicles and hopefully improving the traffic situation in this major boulevard. Sounds promising? I think so. At least private car owners get less headache from competing with public transportation. I am really optimistic that they can find ways in the future to get the jeeps and buses to listen and follow the rules. In the meantime, I hope people would not take this as a bad thing. It's probably normal to feel confused at first sight. I have long heard of people complaining about traffic in EDSA. Now, there are some people who are trying to resolve the issue and it's probably their first time to take on this challenge so it might help if we share our suggestions on how to improve the new system peacefully.

I tried to decipher the routes but I don't drive in EDSA very much. I hope these images can be useful to other people by reposting it here. I copied it word for word (because I might make a mistake if I paraphrase) from

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Manila MRT Strictly Orders You to Unwrap Your Christmas Gifts!

For those who do not think ahead before deciding to take the MRT and for those who have to take the MRT this Christmas season, consider yourself warned. Do not be surprised that your Christmas plans may suddenly disappear and you will lose that Christmas cheer. I tried to enter the MRT station on my way home and I brought with me a wrapped Christmas gift from a friend. I was stopped and I was given a blade to open my gift right then and there, watched by 2 guards. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

1st Christmas Party of Many - NomNom Foodie Club

I love the celebration of the Yuletide season in Manila. I have already heard my first Christmas song last September, my first Parol lights spectacle last October and my first Christmas decoration sighting last November. The month of December is all about the Christmas parties, the cool nights, the reunions, the food and the family vacations. Everything else becomes bearable because there is something good ahead.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What is This Bibincrepe?

This is the largest bibincrepe (pronounced bibingcrepe) ever made. It measures two meters and is really folded in half stuffed with different fillings.