Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shawarma Snack Center Manila

Would you believe that it was only just recently that I've tasted a shawarma, the famous middle-eastern fare. My husband and with the usual food-trip buddies had planned going to Shawarma Snack Center in Malate, Manila (R. Salas Street between Adriatico and M.H. Del). When we arrived at the place, it was just a typical resto and nothing amused me that much. We looked at the menu choosing what to order but we all came up ordering one and the same thing -- shawarma. I ordered large shawarma as my lunch. When I tasted it, i was happy that it really tasted so good! It's even more tastier when garlic and chili sauce are poured over it. It's really something to crave for. No wonder why many people keep on coming back to Shawarma Snack Center just to satisfy cravings for ooh-so-yummy piece of such delectable treat.

These photos were taken during my second visit at the resto out of my insistent demand from my husband to take me back to the place. Why? Obviously, to have another bite of the tasty shawarma. I look forward for another visit and more... :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Determining a Crab's Gender

From the onset, what I know of is that a crab only has two genders, a female and a male. It was only recently that I knew that there's a bading (gay) crab. At first I thought my husband was just kidding me so I didn't mind him that much. When the vendor confirmed that he has bading crabs on stock, I was finally convinced. Bading crabs are usually the first ones that get sold out because these are more tasty than the rest.

To identify the crab's gender, look at the underside and spot the difference.

bading crab

female crab

male crab

True as they say, the bading crab is really something to look forward to.

Just a simple lesson I learned at the wet market and it was really enlightening. :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Punta De Uian, Bgy. Pundaquit, Zambales

I simply love his photo as it speaks of a thousand words about summer as well as how I enjoyed our stay in the resort. Punta de Uian has been one of the location shoots of the local version of Marimar. Thirty minute boat ride from the resort, you will reach Capones Island where you will see a lighthouse.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hawaiian Barbecue in Boracay

On our first night in Bora, i purposely suggested that we have our dinner at Hawaiian Barbecue. The ribs there was introduced to me by my former boss when we went in Bora two years ago. There's really something in their delectable ribs that made me look forward to have a bite of it again.

That night was really fulfilling and satisfying not only because of the good food I had but also for our renewed bonding with a treasured friend.

spicy wings priced at around P240

original ribs priced at around P350

Thumbs up to these two signature dishes on an al fresco dining experience.

Hawaiian Barbecue is situated at Station 2, White Beach beside Big Mama's.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Havaianas' Boracay Odyssey

One of my precious belongings, my Havaianas was fortunate enough to have stepped on the white powdery sand of the beaches in Boracay Island. I have been blessed to see the splendid island for the third time but it was only then that I learned about other beautiful beaches there. And so wherever I go, my heavenly Havaianas is privileged to see the beauty and charm of God's magnificent creation.

The first stop was the ever famous White Beach that boasts a very long shoreline; thus, it was partitioned into three parts (Stations 1 to 3). We walked towards Station 1 where there are few people and finer sand. When we saw the Grotto at Willy's Rock, my feet halted to enjoy the scenic view -- azure skies, blue green waters, irregularly-shaped big rocks, ahhh! a beautiful sight indeed!

If only heavenly Havaianas could speak, I'm sure it would not let a second pass without uttering how amazed it was with the perfect view of the sunset over the horizon.

The second day was definitely not a time to miss the opportunity to do beach hopping; not via boat as it is quite expensive; rather, via tricycle. We rented a tricycle for P200 per hour. The whole beach hopping and a side trip to Mt. Luho (on the way to Puka beach) lasted for three hours. Due to time constraints, we opted skipping the visit to the bat cave.

The first beach stop was Bolabog beach. It was really a hot afternoon but yet the windy atmosphere alleviated us from the melting heat of the sun.

Heavenly Havaianas got off my feet and took a peep of the foamy water produced by the gentle push of the waves.

From that sight, it set its eyes onto the courageous kite surfers trying to win the battle against the mighty waves.

Next stop was sort of a mountain climbing atop Mt. Luho. It took me roughly 20 minutes to complete the steps. It depends on one's stamina and endurance in reaching the top faster. At the peak, heavenly Havaianas saw the entire Boracay Island on a macro perspective.

We maximized our last day by getting up as early as 6:00 am so we can still enjoy the beach under the early morning sun.

From Station 2, heavenly Havaianas walked around two kilometers going to Diniwid Beach (the most beautiful beach of the paradise island).

As I enjoy my last two hours stay on the paradise island, just sitting on the sand with my camera, my pointing finger instantaneously released my cam's shutter button to capture this typical scenario on Boracay's vast waters. This picture was a perfect reminder of my first visit. I could vividly remember how afraid I was to ride the banana boat knowing that I don't know how to swim. Even if I was equipped with a life jacket, I never trusted it. Courage and faith were my weapons in conquering my fear of the ride. Thankfully, I survived! And I admit, I enjoyed the experience. That's why I love to travel because it paves the way to many discoveries in life not to mention the lessons that these teach me. Most of all, these give me additional strength in conquering my fear; and, prepare my character in facing future challenges that I will have to face as I live my life.

I will still travel places to gather more treasured learnings and discoveries that life has to offer. Just like my Havaianas, while its rubber soles can still cover a thousand miles, traveling goes on.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Havaianas to Boracay

A long overdue Christmas gift that my bestfriend gave me just two weeks ago. She's been very busy at work that it was only then that we were able to see each other and had the chance to have lunch together and watch movie. I'm thankful for this present because this is one of the items in my wish list but I find it impractical to purchase such costly flip-flops. I would rather buy other things I really need than buying one. Thanks to my best pal for granting one of my simple material wishes.

On another note, the gift was very timely since my husband and I are set to fly to Boracay, and I'm gonna use my new pair of slippers. It will be my third time to set foot on the famous island of Boracay but this time, my excitement is on a higher level simply because there will be no more tiring island hopping, scary banana boat ride, and nightlong conversation with friends over cocktails and beers. This time around, it will be more of a relaxed break with my husband and a close friend. There will be more time to enjoy the beach, capture scenic views, and commune with nature.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Angeles City, Pampanga Food Trip: Susie's Cuisine

Subsequent to our trip to the 12th Hot Air Balloon Festival was an exciting venture for a food trip in Angeles City, Pampanga since it is the town adjacent to Clark. Just like a typical tourist who would want an information on recommended places or restaurants to visit in a specific province, I'm sure you would also want to have idea on which food store to visit for pasalubong
if you are in Angeles City, Pampanga. Here's one for your reference.

We checked out Susie's Cuisine, (known to be the best in pampango kakanin) to get our own picks of favorites cooked the Susie's Cuisine way.

Ube halaya topped with latik. P20 per slice. Highly recommended.

Putong Ube and White Puto with itlog na maalat (salted egg) as toppings. Sorry, I wasn't able to recall the price. Moderately recommended.
(On the background is the Ube halaya as seen in the first photo.)

Tibok-tibok topped with latik. (Pampanga's very own kakanin). P20 per slice. Highly recommended.

Leche Flan. P70 per pice. Highly recommended.

Spicy dilis (anchovies) teriyaki style. Sorry, I wasn't able to recall the price. Higly recommended.

Embotido measuring 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. P120 per piece. Highly recommended. The best embotido I've tasted so far. Would you know of other food stores that sell yummy embotido?

Have an appetizing gastronomic adventure!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, Clark Field, Pampanga

I thought the planned trip to Clark, Pampanga will no longer materialize until I got a confirmation that it will push through on a Sunday, the last day of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. At exactly 4:00 am, we were headed to our destination wishing to be there a little early than the scheduled start of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Luckily enough, we arrived just in time. Thanks to J for the DOT VIP pass that she was able to get from her friend. :)

With a DOT pass, we were able to free ourselves from shelling out P350 bucks for the photographer's entrance fee, and we had a chance to get a very close view of the humongous balloons as well as the preparation needed -- from laying the giant material on the vast field, to inflating it with hot air; to the preparation of taking off from the ground; to flying slowly to the high grey skies.

Notice how the huge cloth on the field metamorphose into a full-blown balloon. Several people are required to assist in the preparation.

Just merely looking at those colorful creations transform into an enthralling pieces work of art breathe lightness of feeling in me. Such a simple yet wonderful experience!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

LTO Student Permit

I finally got my Student Permit for driving at the Land Transportation's Office (LTO) in BIAK na BATO, Bgy. Siena, Quezon City. If I would rate my experience there in a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate it 2. Why? Let me give my reasons, as follows:

1. BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE - I arrived there at 2:30 pm, and I was happy that the man I approached where I should go helpfully directed me to windows 6 and 7. I was glad that there's no queue. I opted to inquire from the girl at window 6. I was wondering why she seem to be so engrossed looking at her computer (in fairness, I saw she was doing something) knowing that there's a "customer" (me) already present at the window and would definitely need her assistance. I waited for around 2 minutes. I respected that she was still finishing something so I patiently waited for several minutes more before finally asking her about securing a student permit. Because of that first encounter, I can say that the clerk assigned in window 6 does not care about GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE. No greeting or whatever or even asking what I need until I ask her and break her from what she was doing.

After asking how to secure a student permit, she gave me a form to fill out, so I went on filling it out and gave it back to her. She asked me to submit 2x2 picture and any document that bears my birth date. I was ready so I immediately submitted requirements to her. I was told that my name will just be called. I want to ask for how many minutes will I wait but since I knew that the queue is not long, I suspected that it will just take a few minutes.

I don't want to think that government agencies do not care about GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE but with what I've experienced, I felt sorry and my hope declined that government service is not getting any better. I wonder if LTO management gives any effort toward working on it. (Tell me, do I just have high expectations?).

2. SLOW PROCESSING - As I've said, the girl told me that my name will just be called. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour had passed but my name has not yet been called. This time, I pondered on the reason for taking them so long to call my name for the next process. I approached the girl at window 6 and asked again. I was informed that it really takes time since my application is new so the verification, encoding or whatever process they may have next in the computer would take really long. Five (5) minutes past 1 hour, finally my name was called for the picture taking. It was a sort of consolation since it just took the process 1 minute to be completed. Then again, this does not compensate for the completion of the entire process.

I was hopeful that I will be able to get that small piece of document within 5 or 10 minutes. In that sense, I managed to be calm and patient. After 10 minutes of waiting, again, I mused, what's taking it so long? I know I've already lost patience so I approached window 6 and asked if I can just go back the next day. The girl asked if I had paid, I said not yet. So, she asked me to wait until my name is called again because my papers are still the with approving officer. Once my name gets called, I will proceed to the cashier for the payment. Then, I have to surrender the papers back to her. Bottomline is, I cannot go back the next day. I have to wait for it. I was told that the reason for the slow processing was because it was the last day of registration for vehicles whose plate numbers end in 1 and 2. I find it strange because there are windows dedicated in processing registrations.

Anyhow, I walked toward the bench and remained seated. After another 10 minutes of waiting, my name was already called and so I paid P142.63, which was rounded off to P143. I understand there's no change so the rounding off done was acceptable enough.

After issuing payment, I was asked again to wait until my name gets called. Oh my, for a simple encoding of payment, why don't they just finish transacting one customer at once before accepting the next customers in line?

Roughly after 10 minutes, the cashier called my name. Thank God!, I exclaimed. I got my papers from the cashier at window 8 and went back to window 6. I never left window 6 after giving my papers to the girl. I remained standing there hoping to give pressure to the clerks processing my student permit. I guess it worked, within 5 minutes, a guy handed me my computerized ID and official receipt. Well, all I can say is .... Thank God!

Imagine, for such a small document, 1 hour and 30 minutes will have to be spared when it can be finished in a shorter time. I was still lucky because there is no queue in that branch. If I went there with many applicants present, how many more hours do I have to wait? (or should I say days? years?). I just hope that leaders of government agencies would really revisit the processes in order to give better if not the best service to the people / customer they serve. Am I hoping for a miracle here? I hope not.

My unsolicited suggestions for an improved service:

1. Display process flow charts to give first time applicants a silent orientation on what to do for a certain transaction (application of student permit or license, registration, etc.)

2. Instead of calling names over the microphone, give number assignments to each customer just like in banks. This way, the customer would be able to estimate the time he or she would be spending for his / her transaction. ( I would no longer suggest installation of Queuing Machine due to budget issues.)

3. Revisit and streamline their process.

4. Assign a standard turnaround time for completing each transaction.

5. Have a regular review of the agency's service level and customers' satisfaction.

Other useful info in getting a student permit:

1. Bring your birth certificate or marriage contract and 2 x 2 picture.
2. Bring your own pen since windows are not provided with counter pens.
3. Bring P 142.63 as payment. Here's the breakdown of what you will pay for:

Appication Fee : P 25.00
Student Permit Fee: 50.00
Computer Fee : 67.63

You will be issued with a computer-printed ID printed on a paper with LTO logo watermarks and an official receipt printed on paper with small blue logo of LTO printed on it.

Student permit's validity is one year.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pho Hoa Favorites: Noodle Soup, Mango Crepe, Pomelo Salad, and Stuffed Chicken Wings

Vietnamese cuisine relies heavily on fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, and subtle seasonings, reason for me to love Vietnamese dishes.

So far, my only favorite Vietnamese Restaurant is Pho Hoa Noodle House. I've tried other Vietnamese Restaurants but among them, Pho Hoa is still the best!

The hot seafood soup with fish fillet, fish ball, shrimp, and crab meat served with fresh basil, a dash of lemon, been sprouts, and chili to complete the genuine taste of a real Vietnamese soup. Specifically, I like Pho (rice noodles) because of its firmness and unique taste, deviating from the usual wheat-based noodles.

Mouth-watering Stuffed Chicken Wings with tasty vinaigrette.

Indulge in a guilt-free Mango Crepe. Oh, so yummy!

I will survive if what's served for me is only this Pomelo Salad. At least I was able to strictly follow my vegetarian diet.:) It comes with a dressing that is just water, pounded nuts and sugar to taste.

Now it's time to wash down the palatable and nutritious meal with a freshly squeezed lemon juice. It's not bottomless but because of the concentrated mixture, you can add as many water as you wish.

Branches I know: SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, Jupiter Street Makati, Tomas Morato Quezon City, Eastwood City Libis, Greenhills Shopping Center

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Second Visit to Sonya's Garden

My friends and I usually plan for a city tour every year, which is planned during the months when we receive bonuses. It has been three years since our first Tagaytay Escapade, which includes lunch at Sonya's Garden. Before ending the year 2007, we planned another visit to one of the sought after gardens in Tagaytay City.

This flower arrangement on the center of our table perks up the mood to a sumptuous and healthy salad starter.

Sonya's very own table setting provides a homey feeling.

Each of us created fresh salad concoction from a selection of salad ingredients to be mixed with fresh green lettuce. The Sonya's secret dressing genuinely gives a delectable taste, enabling us to finish everything that is served.

If you're planning for a quick stop toward satisfying your taste buds with a heavenly lunch or dinner, here's the set menu:

RATE: PhP 560+ per person/Set (EAT ALL YOU CAN)
Menu served in sit down style.

INCLUSIONS: Green Salad. Freshly harvested lettuce and arugula topped with mango, broad beans, eggs, cucumber, jackfruit, pineapple, edible flowers in season, etc., drizzled with Sonya’s Secret Dressing or Balsamic Vinegar

Freshly baked sesame bread from Sonya's Panaderia with homemade dips: pesto, white cheese, anchovies, tapenade.

Pasta with three kinds of sauces: Sun dried tomato; chicken cream with mango; and ratatouille; topped with salmon belly, mushrooms, black olives, capers, anchovies.

Dessert: Glazed sweet potato and banana rolls and chocolate cake

Drinks: Bottomless freshly squeezed dalandan juice (local orange) and tarragon tea

The following maybe added:

1. Roast Chicken PhP 450 (per piece)
2. Salmon Steak with Capers PhP 250 (per piece)

Recent attractions to complement a country-living experience are the Bed and Breakfast, Spa and Panaderia.

A quick shot of the Bed and Breakfast Cottages. Look at the flowers and lush greens that will welcome you from the window of a cottage. Such a refreshing and relaxing thought. I wish to stay overnight there someday soon.

Happy moments as we enjoy and explore the beautiful garden.