Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anong Prutas ang "Split"?

While waiting for my fruit shake, Person A read out each word on this board.

I'm familiar with mango, watermelon, banana, apple, carrot, melon, papaya, then....




Monday, March 28, 2011

Today I Had A Korean Haircut

Because I feel crappy - the kind that only a good haircut can alleviate.

What I like about Park Jun's:

1. The stylist, a Korean girl, knows how to give my hair shape and volume. Yes, I now agree that Koreans are great hairstylis. I've been putting off going to a Korean salon because I'm scared I'll get a rough-layered cut. Notice the soft layers the stylist gave me.

2. The stylist did not nag me about getting a treatment. In fact, she just said, you have beautiful natural hair, you just blow dry it. I get annoyed with the other 3 salons I go to because they always offer me the latest treatment available when the stylist knows that relatively, I got healthy hair. I just had it permed once, other than that, never chemically-treated.

3. The salon has that industrial feel similar to a French-run salon that I frequent the past year. Nothing fancy, just the way I like it. Shampoo and conditioner, I believe, is with Tigi products. Most salons prefer Tigi products because of its long-lasting, sweet smell. Water, tea, coffee and magazines are available and offered.

4. Price range is similar to foreigner-run salons. I checked the rest of the menu and hair treatment is on the cheaper side. I find that surprising. Student and children below 12 get discount.

5. All 5 stylists I saw at the place are Koreans.

The haircut made me feel better.

It always does, as long as the stylist does it right.

Park Jun's Beauty Lab
G/F Glorietta 3, Makati

P.S. I'll tell you about the French-run salon I go to when I next visit the place. I also like the way they handle my hair.

National Geographic Traveler's 20 Best Trips of 2011

While we're at it, let me share with you National Geographic Traveler's 20 Best Trips of 2011.

Our very own Palawan is featured alongside Crimea, Shikoku, and Ulaanbatar.
Photo: National Geographic

The picture shows El Nido, Palawan but description points to Puerto Princesa's Underground River. The Underground River is really a place one should visit in this lifetime. Seriously, it's jaw-dropping.

Some of the places in the top 20 list.

Sardinia Italy

Photo: National Geographic

"Sardinia is home to more than 7,000 stone nuraghi towers, Bronze Age castles built between 1600 and 1100 B.C. Best known is Nuraghe Santu Antine near Torralba, a well-preserved nuraghic royal palace surrounded by the eerie remnants of a once thriving nuraghic village."

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Photo: National Geographic

"Nature's color wheel is in constant motion at 114-square-mile (296-square-kilometer) Plitvice Lakes National Park (above) where 16 terraced lakes, formed by natural travertine dams, change hues throughout the day from bright turquoise to gray depending on the angle of the sun's rays and mineral makeup of the water."

Kurdistan, Iraq

Photo: National Geographic

"Considered an oasis of peace and stability in a historically volatile region, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northeastern Iraq is drawing a growing stream of curious Western visitors to its ancient cities, snowcapped mountains, and bustling bazaars. Places to visit are Erbil’s historic citadel and Grand Mosque, the ruins of Salahaddin’s Fortress in Shaqlawa, and the Jarmo Neolithic village archaeological site (7,000 B.C.) located in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Live Curious

Spotted from (not along) Mayapis cor Malugay Sts. Makati, I took this picture while waiting for the stoplight to turn green.

Does this remind you of something?

To me, it spells National Geographic. 

Is this in anyway related to Nat Geo?

I am living curious.

Because as my favorite shirt goes "Everything Deserves A Why".

Frutti Froyo: More Than Your Average Froyo Cup?

Yogurt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. To make this Turkish treat palatable, milk, syrup and flavoring are added, homogenized then cooled and voila, you got frozen yogurt. It’s more tart and has lower fat than ice cream.

It has taken Manila by storm. Before all the gurts, froz and berry sounding shops sprung up, I already loved BTIC’s non-imposing presence. Among the new yogurt places, personal favorite is Golden Spoon because it has successfully masked the yogurt’s sour taste.

Then there’s  Frutti Froyo. What got my attention is its carefully-styled, colorful shop. It’s hard to pull-off something as colorful as this one. It has a warm inviting feel, great place to stimulate kids and the kids at heart senses.

Notice the chairs. They’re lovely. 

It’s a self-service froyo shop. You get a tub, choose a flavor and pour in the desired amount of yogurt. Available flavors that I can remember are Tart (original), Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry (Fragola), Kiwi, Taro. Similar to Golden Spoon, I also like its distinct yogurt base.

Then add your desired topping. These tubes contain nuts, candied fruits, chocolates, candies and biscuits. Fresh fruits and preserves are also available in one of the counters.

This is the only yogurt shop that I’ve been to which veers away from Hershey’s chocolate syrup. They have a selection of Ghirardelli syrups and La Sauce de Monin premium syrups! At your own disposal, no less.

Don’t be too trigger happy with all the toppings, price is pegged at PhP 18/oz hence order usually ranges between PhP 150-200 per tub, a bit on the expensive side if you compare it with other Froyo shops.

I like my froyo with Kiwi/strawberry, almond, bits of chocolates and dark chocolate syrup. May I say Ghirardelli? Hehehe

After coming up with my concoction, here’s my tub:

Fragola with Kiwi and almond, because I already abstained from chocolates when I ordered this cup.

Person A’s ultimate chocolate tub:

Chocolate-flavored froyo, jelly, cereals, brownies and syrup.

In Summary

1. Frutti froyo has great-tasting, distinct froyo and a wide selection of toppings. The do-it yourself approach hands over control to the customer. And the syrup selection is truly the icing on the cake.

2. Price point slides to the more expensive side relative to other shops. 

3. The shop is a great hang-out place. It has a warm, inviting feel.

Frutti Froyo
Commerce Center,
Commerce Ave, Filinvest

Other locations I heard and seen with Frutti Froyo:
Petron, Edsa cor Pasay Road
Petron Square, Katipunan Ave, La Vista, QC
Trinoma, 3rd Level
Tomas Morato cor Scout Madrinan
University Mall, Taft Ave, Manila

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Puerto Princesa: Palawan’s One-Stop Shop

Ever since I was a kid, my ultimate place to visit has been Palawan. In my mind, I painted a picture of pristine white beaches, schools of jack (fish) and lime stone cliffs dot the whole island.

And then there’s the dugong, bearcat, and Palawan hornbill.

Palwan Bearcat living the life.

Do you know that Dos Palmas Resort in Puerto Princesa has a regular dugong visitor? It loves to feed on one of its seaweed beds. I haven’t seen one but I am on my quest to swim with a real dugong.

So imagine my joy when Person A mentioned that he wants to go to Puerto Princesa and visit the Underground River.

I said “Tara!” with the biggest smile and roundest eyes and 48 hours after leaving El Nido for Manila, Person A found himself again, this time in mid-section Palawan. This was sometime April last year.

Puerto Princesa is the best choice for a Palawan getaway. It’s got everything Palawan stands for:
 1. Heavenly beaches (Honda Bay)
2. Underground River!
3. Exotic Animals
4. Amenities

Let’s not forget that it’s probably the cheapest Palawan destination, except for Coron.

What are my Puerto Princesa Highlights?

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (~PhP 1500/person)

In common language, it’s Underground River, a UNESCO heritage site and was a strong contender in the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Magnificent is my word for it. Reputed as the world’s longest underground river and navigable no less, it has numerous chambers which houses astounding stalactite and stalagmite formations. There’s a chamber dedicated for religious images, another chamber with humongous vegetables and there’ a male mushroom. 

It’s mushroom with a male sex organ on top.

While waiting for your turn to get into the cave, make sure to observe the fishes, the monkeys and monitor lizards which cross the river.

Kayak is used to navigate the river so as not to spoil the river with petroleum by-products from motorized boats. The guide who is also your Manong Bangkero is very knowledgeable about the river.

Fifi just had to take a picture with the Manong Bangkero because he had a great time listening to him during the 30-min paddle ride.

To get to the Underground River, arrange a trip with any reputable tour operator. It cost us PhP 1500/person that time, inclusive of Puerto Princesa – Sabang van transfers, banca ride to the Underground River take-off point, the tour itself and lunch.

I just have to share, our Sabang Trip guide looks like Carlos Celdran.

Bakawan Paddling Cruise (PhP 150/person)

While in Sabang, might as well request your driver and trip guide to take you to Sabang Mangrove. It’s past Daluyon Beach Resort – the only resort in Sabang which has comfortable amenities.

Pay the fee at the local tribe association, don a life vest and ride a kayak. I love the fact that the locals prioritize safety and take care of the environment.

All types mangroves dot both sides of the wide river. It’s the perfect place to commune with yourself and drown in your own thoughts. The place is so silent that I find it rude to speak.

Your guide will then educate you on the different types of mangrove and how to spot male and female mangroves. Then he’ll slowly point out the fishes spawning in the brackish water. Yes, despite it’s “murky” color, it’s actually teeming with life. The main role of mangrove forest in the ecosystem is to serve as a spawning area for salt water fish. 

Can you spot the king fisher?

Then there are monkeys, poisonous snakes and king fishers! Despite of the afternoon heat, the temperature is cool.

Person A considers this as his highlight of the Puerto Princesa trip.

Honda Bay Island Hopping(~PhP 1200/person)

This is all about white sand beaches and snorkeling. This is a whole day trip where you get to visit 3-4 islands, your guide packs sumptuous lunch while you swim and snorkel at each stop.

Pandan Island

Lots of wild pandan and great for snorkeling too.

Snake Island

A wide stretch of white sand with minimal cover, prepare to get baked. Snorkeling is the best in this island. One meter fish, schools of butterfly fish, nemo and a “forest” of one-meter wide sea urchins!

Starfish Island

I was already pooped from the swimming and snorkeling we did in the previous 2 islands that I just listened to my iPod in one of the run-down huts.

Don’t forget to rent snorkeling gears and if you can bring an underwater camera, that would be better.

In Summary:

1. Puerto Princesa is a one-stop shop for a Palawan get-away. It has great beaches, the Underground river and has all the urban amenities. It doesn’t cost as much as an El Nido vacation.

2. Hats off to Mayor Hagedorn, the city and travel destinations are very well maintained. It’s both sustainable to the environment and the tourism industry. Tourism cities should learn a thing or two from Puerto Princesa. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dear Summer Getaway

I thought you'd never materialize.
Photo: Our Awesome Planet

I can't hardly wait!

Even if you're still 10 000 fortnights away.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Carpaccio, The “It’s Hard to Go Wrong” Italian Restaurant

In Italian, carpaccio means thinly-sliced or pounded raw meat or fish served as appetizer.

To me it simply means pure Italian goodness tucked along Yakal St., Makati.

Person A discovered this place. One night 3 years back, he brought me some tube pasta with spinach drenched in cheese. He got curious with an Italian place he passed by. And that started our love affair with the place.

My aunt and a colleague independently discovered this place and they consider it as well on top of their list.

The Place

I consider it a fine-dining restaurant. Great for a quiet night with a date, a personal celebration, catching up with friends and family gatherings minus little kids.  On weeknights, businessmen and couples comprise majority of the diners. Although seeing a group of women enjoying good food is not unusual.

We usually take the table by the window so that we have a good view of Yakal St.


While waiting for you to place your order, freshly-baked dinner rolls are served with butter and pesto, fresh tomato and butter and garlic. 
Bread is warm, soft and fresh and pairs well with the butter.

This is one of their carpaccios which I forgot to take down the name of. It’s definitely beef, tender and not too salty. I get full with a serving of bread so I can usually do away with starters.

Minestrone Classico (PhP 210)
Fresh tomato soup with hint of basil and pesto. It’s not too sour and a great starter to any meal. This can be shared between 2 people though preferably for one.

Cannelloni della Casa (PhP 410)

Pasta tubes filled with spinach, mushroom, and ground meat, served with b├ęchamel sauce, parmesan cheese and roman tomatoes.
This is the pasta that had us at first hello.

It’s good for 2 and can be good for 1 if you want to drown in its awesome goodness.

Risotti Stile Liguria (PhP 520)

Seafood risotto with squid, salmon, prawns, scallops, mussel flavored with Roman tomatoes.

The rice grains are big, cooked just right: not too hard nor too soggy. Seafood is not overpowering and compliments the tomato well. Worth the order next time around although, I might try their Risotti Al Funghi, topped with Porcini mushrooms.

If you prefer seabass, salmon, lamb, Angus beef and chicken they do have that as well.

Tiramisu (PhP200)

Made from mascarpone (I just learned that now while reviewing the menu) with Savioandi coffee, amaretto and coffee liqueur.
This rendition has a creamy consistency and a hint of tangerine. It’s one of the better ones. I am still on the look out for my best tiramisu.


The place has a good selection of wines. I haven’t personally tried it but their fruit shakes are good. I always have water with my dinner. Mas mura. There’s also a lot of choices of bold coffee more often with liqeur. It’s definitely strong.

Person A knows that an invitation to dinner at Carpaccio is one of my weaknesses. I am stingy but I love good food. When I am not dining out, I am good with a can of Century Tuna, fried chicken sa kanto and nilaga sa carinderia. I can only afford to eat out once in a while. Anyway, below are a couple of instances when he invited me to dine out at Carpaccio:

1.     When he dropped by to visit and found me with the lowest self-esteem after sorting out my laundry. Or was I laundering my hand-wash only clothes? Laundering and I have a love-hate relationship.

2.     Just last Monday, I was getting my car washed after work and he dropped by the shop. He asked what I’ll have for dinner, and my usual reply was “salad and bread”. Then he dished out: “How about Carpaccio, we haven’t eaten out in a while?” So I forgot everything and almost asked Kuya Carwash to skip the wax.

I am sharing these instances because Carpaccio is one of my comfort food places, only finer. Maybe Person A is just training me to be domesticated through reward system. Hmmm… that got me thinking. 

Matanong nga.

Just kidding. –(“,)-*wink*

In Summary:

1.     Carpaccio is definitely one of the better Italian places in the metro. It has great food, good ambiance, and excellent service. The price is a bit on the expensive side but it is comparable to restaurant of the same service.

2.     The place is good for dates, dinner with friends, and business meeting. I don’t think you can enjoy the place when you have toddlers with you.

3.     The comfort room is also lovely and clean. And they offer a bag stool for the ladies.

4.     It is located in a building with a Swiss restaurant, Santi’s Deli and a great steak place.

      Carpaccio Ristorante Italiano
7431-C Yakal St.
San Antonio Village

P.S. I apologize for the low quality photos. It doesn't do justice to how yummy the food is. I promise to find the right setting of my camera under low light.

Farewell (Polar Bear) Knut

I fell in love with this bear in 2006.

Photo: Markus Schreiber (Time.com)

It died March 19, 2011. News link here.

Hand-reared by Thomas Dorflein when it was abandoned by its mother, it brought millions of euros of revenue to Berlin Zoo.

Here's a link to the Vanity Fair May 2007 shoot.

Germany also has another star polar bear. Meet Flocke when she was still a baby early 2008.

Photo: Joerg Koch (Time.com)

"Hi I am Flocke (translates to Flake for Snow Flake) , I am a She and a lot of people thinks I am lovely. I now reside in a Zoo in Antibes, France with Rasputin, a male polar bear."

Here's Knut and Thomas:

Some facts:

1. Knut translates to "cute" in German.
2. He was the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine, May 2007 Edition. Of course, Annie Leibovitz took the photos.
3. His handler had a heart attack in 2008 and died.

You are definitely loved Knut.

P.S. All photos are from varying online sources.


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