Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quezon City: Bagoong Club's Noche Buena Menu

You a have a few days left to catch the Noche Buena Menu of Bagoong Club! We got to try this menu last week and definitely enjoyed it. There are seven dishes in the special Christmas menu. Here they are:

I particularly liked the Mula sa Puso which is puso ng saging (banana blossom) sisig. It's a healthy twist to the popular Kapampangan dish.

Puso de Coco is banana blossom wrapped in gabi leaves and cooked in coconut milk.

Tinapambutido is crispy-fried smoked fish patties topped with laing.

Then there's Bagoong Club's Christmas twist to the staple lechon: Liemponillo. It's Filipino style cuchinillo pork liempo with asado sauce and whole scallions.

Krismanok is grilled glazed chicken rolled with ham and cheese, cooked in pineapple sauce.

Balut Adobo is deep-fried balut cooked the adobo way with a generous serving of garlic.

Finally, there's Sisig Paella. That's flavorful paella infused with delectable Pampanga pork sisig.

You have until the end of the month to catch this special menu at Bagoong Club!

Bagoong Club
122 Scout Dr. Lazcano
Sacred Heart, Quezon City
(02) 929-0544

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Batangas: Sailing for beginners at Taal Lake Yacht Club

Ivan Man Dy talks about our Lake Sailing 101 adventure at the Taal Lake Yacht Club and lunch at Club Balai Isabel in Talisay, Batangas.

I had thought that layag was just the verb and I didn't realize that layag is also Tagalog for boat sail. Just like English, layag (the sail) is root word of the verb layag (to sail). Thus maglalayag sa dagat literally translates to sailing in the sea. This was just one of the many aha moments I learned with our first sailing experience in Taal Lake in Batangas. We recently checked out the sailing activities at the Taal Lake Yacht Club (TLYC) upon invitation by their president Peter Capotosto to try out the sports activities of the club. And what a revelation it was!
Located in the town of Talisay just below the ridge from Tagaytay, we now add this to our list of fun things to do when visiting this highland city. Upon arrival, we signed a waiver and did a crash course on sailing. TLYC offers several options to enjoy the the waters of Taal Lake such as the Hobie 16 (feet) sail boat that is good for 3 people, kayaks, sail boards and even bangka rentals for Taal Volcano hikes. Our pick was the two-hulled Hobie 21 Sport Cruiser sailboat which was the biggest in the lot. With Peter as our captain and guide, we immediately headed off for the water.
Our day was perfect for sailing, with the onset of the amihan (north-east monsoon), Taal Lake was filled with endless gusts of wind that took our Hobie sail boat from a relaxing cruise to sudden bursts of speed which was very exhilarating! In between controlling the sail, determining the wind direction and guiding us as we controlled the rudder, our captain Peter explained to us the intricacies of this sport as well as discussed the environment issues currently confronting Taal Lake. In terms of sanitation standards, Taal Lake is rated class 2 which means that it is not recommend for drinking but just right for swimming and water sports like sailing.
For our lunch break, we made a spur of the moment decision to dock at the nearby resort of Club Balai Isabel. Good thing the resort's amiable president Nelson Terrible was there and he treated us to a sumptuous lunch buffet at the restaurant. What was once an old coconut plantation is now a nine-hectare fully-furnished resort with 228 rooms and a swimming pool, in case the lake is too big for you!
All in all, it was a very productive morning with fresh insights and new experiences to a tried-and-tested day-trip destination. Sailing is an individual sport as it can be a fun-group or family-oriented activity. They even allow for food and beer to carried on-board! Note that you will get very wet, so do not forget to bring extra clothes, towels and toiletries. Hobie sail boat rentals start at Php1,500 and goes up depending on the boat size and duration. Even better is that the rental fees can be charged on an hour's interval, perfect for first-timers who are initially testing the waters to this adrenaline pumping sport!

Thanks to Peter Capotosto of the Taal Lake Yacht club for hosting this trip. For sailing details, click here.

By the way, they're selling BlackBerry phones at for as much as 35% off at BlackBerry hubs in SM. If you still haven't gotten one, time to get your brand new BlackBerryBarkada smartphones at really low prices this Christmas! I'm getting one myself and I can't choose which BlackBerry I want more with everything up to 35% off! Click here for details.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Canada: Kingston Fortifications & Royal Military College of Canada

The first thing I researched when I learned I was joining the inaugural flight of Philippine Airlines to Toronto was the nearest UNESCO World Heritage Site to Toronto. And that was the Rideau Canal, which has several component sites from Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario.

Kingston was the nearest city, a three-hour drive from Toronto. And since we had one free day during the trip, we decided to rent a car and drive over to Kingston. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate that day. But we still decided to go for the adventure! 

Once the capital of the newly-united Canada from 1841 to 1843, Kingston was being prepared for this important role that was however cut short when Queen Victoria decided to move the center of government to Ottawa. In fact, a grand neoclassical Kingston City Hall was completed in 1843, one of the major landmarks of the old city center. On the way to the Kingston Fortifications, we saw a view of this historic skyline from across the Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence River. I was hoping we'd get to explore its weathered stone houses and historic streets, but the rains prevented us from doing that.

Our first order of business was getting to any of the Kingston Fortifications which is part of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site. Fort Henry was closed for the winter. So our next choice was Fort Frederick on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada. The RMC is itself a very venerable ensemble of architecture and worth a visit if you like old architecture.

We had to brave the rains and cold to get to the Point Frederick, the southern end of the RMC grounds, where Fort Frederick is located. The two forts, together with Cathcart Tower, Shoal Tower and Murney Tower formed the Kingston Fortifications which protected the entrance of the Rideau Canal.

According to UNESCO, "The Rideau Canal is a large strategic canal constructed for military purposes which played a crucial contributory role in allowing British forces to defend the colony of Canada against the United States of America, leading to the development of two distinct political and cultural entities in the north of the American continent, which can be seen as a significant stage in human history."

We were wet and cold from the rain, and hungry since we missed lunch. So we called it a day and drove to the nearest fast food. On the way back, we stopped by the outlet mall off the Ontario Highway 401 exit, before driving back home.

How to get to Kingston, Ontario from Toronto
There are regular bus trips from Toronto to Kingston, Ontario. If you choose to drive, it's a 262-kilometer drive via ON-401 East.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mangan Tamu! Giant Lantern Festival and Pampanga food tour on December 15!

The spectacular Giant Lantern Festival is coming up! And Ultimate Philippines Tours invites you again to journey to the central heartland as we immerse ourselves in things Kapampangan!

From Buro to Baroque, it's a fun-filled day as we poke around and get intimate with the very best of Pampanga's cultural offerings. Gaze at the jewel-box of a church in Betis while wading through the lahar-buried town of Bacolor.

We'll stuff ourselves silly with a pre-Christmas Kapampangan noche buena fare by Claude Tayag, one of the country's best known Kapampangan chefs! And to it cap it off, get a front row view of the most dazzling display of Kapmpangan artistry the Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) of San Fernando! It's a tour with nothing but Kapampangan cool!

Tour will be on December 15, 2012 (Saturday) from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Rate is P4,500.00 per person inclusive of transfers from Ayala 6750 or Trinoma, tour and some serious food binging! E-mail to book a slot.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Canada: Toronto, Kingston & Niagara Falls in Ontario

Finally, Manila now has a direct flight to Toronto thanks to Philippine Airlines! We boarded PAL's inaugural flight and got to explore Toronto and its environs for five days. Among the places of interest we visited in Toronto were the old and new Toronto City Hall, St. Lawrence Market, CN Tower (but it was unfortunately cloudy when we were up there), the Ontario Legislative Building, University of Toronto, Casa Loma and the Toronto Islands for the best view of the Toronto skyline.

We also rented a car and drove three hours east to Kingston to visit the Kingston Fortifications which are part of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate and we only got to visit the Royal Military College of Canada and Fort Frederick. Kingston's historic skyline looked quite interesting thought but we'll save that for another visit.

The group also visited the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, namely Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin to try out their famed ice wine before proceeding to the iconic Niagara Falls in the US-Canada border.

Here are photos from that visit to Toronto:
November 30-December 1 - Toronto, Canada
December 3 - Toronto, Canada

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Philippine Airlines (PAL) now flies direct to Toronto, Canada!

Philippine Airlines (PAL) inaugurated its maiden flight to Toronto, Canada last November 30, 2012. It was a rare opportunity to be part of that inaugural flight. And here I am in Toronto, exploring this nice Canadian city, which is home to close to 200,000 Filipinos. In fact, Filipinos are the third largest ethnic group here in Toronto.

Ceremonies began at NAIA Terminal 2 lead by PAL President Ramon Ang and Canadian Ambassador H.E. Christopher Thornley. Passengers of the flight posed for a commemorative group photo with Ang who saw all of us off as we boarded the maiden flight.

The plane was a brand new Boeing 777-300ER which provided some of the latest amenities including an in-flight entertainment system that will keep you busy for the duration of the 15-hour direct flight from Manila to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Since it was the inaugural flight, we were treated to business class service and meals even in Fiesta Class. Yes, they brought out the metal dining utensils and ceramic plates for all of us, with four choices of dishes to choose from! Plus before we landed, passengers were feted with champagne and a toast to celebrate this milestone.

At Toronto Pearson, more ceremonies went underway led by local airport authorities and business leaders. The local Filipino-Canadian community performed dances from the Philippines.

We ended the night with check-in and dinner at the Hilton Toronto which would be our home for the next five days. Congratulations to Philippine Airlines for yet another milestone! This definitely is something to celebrate as we push harder to get our cities connected directly to other destinations around the world, opening our doors even more for tourism.

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