Showing posts with label National Capital Region. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Capital Region. Show all posts

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Metro Manila: Birdwatching at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat

Last December, I joined a guided birdwatching trip hosted by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area along Coastal Road. It's the only remaining patch of mangrove in southern Metro Manila.

During this time, migratory water birds converge in the area to spend the winter here such as Little Egrets, Whiskered Terns and Common Sandpipers. Resident species include the Black-crowned Night-Heron, Chestnut Munias and Collared Kingfishers.

According to the WBCP, "The site was declared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during Earth Day ceremonies two years ago as a 'critical habitat and ecotourism area.' Little has done been to improve the site and the Philippine Reclamation Authority continues to threaten the habitat with plans for more 'income-generating' developments."

I hope we are able to preserve this critical habitat. Corporate and government greed should be regulated to ensure that both our natural and cultural heritage are preserved as part of our drive towards progress. This area should be protected from greedy developers. Anyway, if you're interested to try out birdwatching as a hobby, you can e-mail Mike Lu at and request to be included in their mailing list for future guided tours.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quezon City: Pipino Vegetarian in Teachers Village

After discovering many vegetarian restaurants in Metro Manila, I can truly say that vegetarian food need not be bland. And the newly-opened Pipino Vegetarian pushes that statement forward. I was most definitely wowed by the vegetarian and vegan food they serve there.

They don't have a fixed menu so the dishes are different everyday. You'd see them listed on the blackboard in the counter area. The regular entrees are Php80 for single serving. But you'll get a really good deal with their Combo Meal at Php150 which includes two entrees and brown rice.

The day I was there, they had Gatang Sitaw and Kalabasa (string beans and squash with coconut milk), Tofu and Eggplant Miso, Lumpiang Shanghai (vegetarian spring rolls) and Taro Chips. I'm also giving a two thumbs up to their Vegan Lasagna which is really rich and flavorful. Who said pasta needs meat and eggs?

For dessert, they have a lot of vegan offerings too. It's definitely worth a visit!

Pipino Vegetarian by Pino
39 Malingap Street, Teachers Village
Quezon City
Tel. No. (02) 4411773

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Manila: Galeon Andalucia arrives at Pier 13

The Galeon Andalucia, a replica of the 17th century Spanish galleon, arrived in Manila this morning as part of Dia del Galeon celebrations. I was at Pier 13 as the galleon entered the port and docked. It looked quite majestic as it entered the breakwater. We were among the first to board the galleon together with the entourage of the Spanish Ambassador Luis Arias Romero, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and HCS President Gemma Cruz Araneta.

From October 7 to 8, 2010, the public may visit Galeon Andalucia at Pier 13, which is behind Manila Hotel, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 4 p.m. On October 9, 2010, the galleon will accept visitors only from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Its next port of call is Cebu City.

There is no need for reservations for individuals and groups with less than 30 people. Big groups will have to reserve with the organizers and are only allowed to board in the morning. Take note however that children under eight years old are not allowed due to safety reasons. While children under twelve need to be chaperoned.

Since the capacity of the boat is 100 persons at a time, entrance is on a first-come first-served basis. And guests have to queue in line. So expect some waiting time. Some walking will be required from the registration to the boat.

There will be a waiting area where guests can view an exhibit, mural paintings and information on the Galleon Trade. Also, there will be a creative trade fair selling indigenous arts and crafts, and items from around the world. There is no ample parking at the pier, so you might have to park at the Quirino Grandstand and walk. Better to take a cab or bring a driver.

For inquiries and reservations, e-mail Abi Portillo at

Update (10/11/2010): Galleon Andalucia will be arriving in Cebu on October 13, 2010. Details to follow.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Index of Declared Structures and Sites updated 08/05/2010

As you all know, I've compiled a list of structures and sites declared by law or by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Institute (NHI), or National Museum (NM). And as new sites and structures are declared, I update the list. This week, we got the latest list from the Cultural Properties Division of the National Museum.

The additions to the list include new National Cultural Treasures: Manila Metropolitan Theater (Manila) which is also a National Historical Landmark, Bonifacio Monument (Caloocan City) which is also a National Monument, Main Building, Central Seminary, Arch of the Centuries and Open Spaces of the University of Sto. Tomas (Manila) and the Santa Cruz Church (Maribojoc, Bohol) which was previously an Important Cultural Property.

For Important Cultural Property, there is one new declaration, the Parish Church Complex of Santa Monica (Sarrat, Ilocos Norte).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Quezon City: Where to eat in U.P. Diliman

The University of the Philippines, Diliman has been a big part of my life. I spent nine years in U.P. as a student, finishing three degrees. And now, I'm a member of the faculty, teaching tourism courses at the Asian Institute of Tourism.

And U.P Diliman food has definitely been a big part of all those years. I was a dormer for close to four years and had my share of isaw, fishballs and dirty ice cream, as well as food from the U.P. Shopping Center, U.P. Coop or aristocart when I missed my meals at the dorm. Some of the restaurants we used to eat at have moved to other places like Mommy Thai.

Contrary to popular notion, U.P. Diliman is not just about fishballs, isaw and dirty ice cream. I spent one afternoon and evening after class roaming around U.P. with friends and even celebrities to rediscover the food I've always enjoyed. So here's a list of things and places to eat in U.P. Diliman:

1. Beach House Canteen
This small hut beside the U.P Main Library and Sunken Garden is already an institution. They are most known for the Pork Barbecue (Php25 a stick), Pork Chop (Php50 a serving) and other grilled dishes. Beach House Canteen is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are looking for affordable and delicious barbecue, Beach House is the place to get it.

2. R.O.C. (Restaurant of Choice)
This is the newest restaurant in U.P. Diliman located at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni. It's my favorite hang-out because of its great food and free WiFi Internet. R.O.C. is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Among my favorite dishes at R.O.C. is the R.O.C. Burger, 100% quarter pound beef patty, aioli, lettuce, tomatoes and onions served in a sesame bun (Php158), Garlic Chicken, boneless chicken thighs, ROCs herb-garlic sauce, garlic rice and chefs veggies (Php185), Quattro Funghi, four-mushroom melange, garlic ream sauce and linguine (Php166), and the Bourbon Burger, 100% quarter pound beef patty, aioli, Bourbon glazed onions, lettuce and tomatoes served in a sesame bun (Php175). Also try out the Buco Sherbert (Php78) which is among their best-sellers.

I had lunch there with former U.P. Diliman USC chairperson Kris Ablan (few people know he was a FAMAS-nominated child actor who went by the screen name Kris Banal) and dinner with blogger Anton Diaz, and former actress Paula Peralejo of Tabing Ilog fame and a U.P. Diliman magna cum laude graduate herself. Being a vegetarian, Paula tried out the Margherita Panniza (Php228) and Quattro Funghi.

3. The Chocolate Kiss Cafe
This restaurant opened at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni when I was a freshman and was a regular lunch or afternoon break hangout of my block. They started with the second floor and opened another branch on the first floor of Bahay ng Alumni. The 1st floor branch opens at 7 a.m. and is closed by 6 p.m. The 2nd floor branch opens later but closes later as well at 10 p.m.

My all-time favorite snack is the Chicken Asparagus Sandwich which is grilled chicken with mayo and asparagus strips served in French bread (Php158). But The Chocolate Kiss is most known for its cakes. I personally like their Carrot Cake (Php70 per slice) and Blueberry Cheesecake (Php105 per slice).

4. Khas Food House
I like Middle Eastern food. Which is a good thing there's Khas Food House at the U.P. Arcade where the U.P. Swimming Pool is located. While Persian and Indian food are their specialties, Khas serves an array of international dishes such as Vietnamese and Korean, owing to the fact that it's located right across the International Center, U.P.'s foreign students' dorm. My personal favorite would be the Keema, minced beef with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, ginger, herbs and spices (Php45) which I partner with Pita Bread. Another best seller would be the Biryani Beef, vegetable rice cooked in imported spices served with beef (Php135).

5. Rodic's Diner
Another institution in U.P., Rodic's has been serving its very popular Tapsilog at the U.P. Shopping Center for decades. Today is the 61st anniversary of Rodic's if you didn't know! I was accompanied by Nico Ibaviosa, a member of the UP Diliman University Student Council and a Star Magic talent who is currently part of the cast of BFGF which shows every Sunday, 4:30 p.m. on TV5. We ordered their famous Tapsilog (Php70) of course!

6. Mang Larry's Isawan
Few people know that Mang Larry's Isawan has been grilling isaw in front of the Kalayaan Residence Hall ever since the 1986 People Power Revolution. So that makes Mang Larry's Isawan more than two decades old! The stall, which is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily, has definitely grown by leaps and bounds. Having lived in the Kalayaan Residence Hall during my freshman year, I was initiated to isaw at Mang Larry's. (Update: Both isawans have now moved to the empty lot beside the UP Chapel and College of Law)

They serve Isaw Manok (Php3), Isaw Baboy (Php3), Goto (Php6), Tenga (Php6), Atay (Php6), Botsi (P6), Balun-balunan (Php6) and Pork Barbecue (Php8).

And guess who I saw buying isaw while I was there! It turns out Alessandra de Rossi is a regular of Mang Larry's together with other celebrities and friends who journey all the way to U.P. Diliman to savor Mang Larry's famous isaw. While I prefer Mang Larry's, others prefer the isawan beside the U.P. College of Law (which used to be beside Ilang-Ilang Residence Hall when I was still studying).

7. Lutong Bahay
If you're looking for cheap and affordable home-cooked meals, Lutong Bahay beside the U.P. Post Office is the place to be. I was joined by U.P. student Martin del Rosario, a Star Magic talent who played Johnny on ABS-CBN's Rosalka. Martin shares that he always hangs-out with his block in Lutong Bahay for lunch. Aside from the home-cooked meals, Lutong Bahay is also popular for it's really large fruit shakes which are very cheap. The Mango Shake just costs Php30.

8. Long Island
I was not familiar with Long Island since it's on the College of Engineering side of the U.P. Main Library which I rarely visit. But Nico Ibaviosa suggested that we try out the food there too. Their best-sellers used to be the chicken meals. But that is no longer in the menu due to some changes in rules for U.P. food stalls. Canteens complained that stalls competed with them. So stalls were disallowed from selling full meals. But Long Island serves really affordable pizza and pasta. If you're craving for some, Long Island is for you.

9. U.P. Manininda
I've already mentioned the isaw. But there are a lot of really yummy snacks which are available from the different U.P. Manininda. You'd see some of them walking around with Lumpiang Gulay, Turon, Banana Cue and Carioca (Php12 each), Taho, Monay with Cheese and Dirty Ice Cream. Siomai at the College of Fine Arts is cheap and delicious. And don't forget the Fishball, Kikiam, Squid Balls, etc. at your friendly fishball stand located all over campus.

There are more restaurants such as Likha Diwa sa Gulod and the Museum Cafe at the U.P. Vargas Museum. So this list will continue to grow. I wonder if I'll include the U.P. TechnoHub since it's technically inside the U.P. Campus.

I didn't mention college canteens and CASAA anymore since concessionaires come and go. While the famous Mang Jimmy's is outside U.P. Unfortunately, some favorites like Chateau Verde and Oz Cafe (I never got to try their legendary Lava Cake), are already closed.

Did I miss anything? What is your favorite U.P. Diliman food experience?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Makati: Legazpi Sunday Market turns five on Sunday!

Legazpi Sunday Market will be celebrating it's fifth anniversary this Sunday, July 25, 2010 with a Grand Buffet featuring dishes from all of Legazpi Market's food vendors. The one-go buffet starts at 11 a.m. and costs only Php180 per head. Raffle prizes will also be given away to lucky shoppers.

To learn more about Legazpi Sunday Market, check out Legaspi Sunday Market is Makati's undiscovered food haven. And when you're at Legazpi Market, don't forget to take home Imang Salud Ensaimada. It's best to reserve since supply runs out really quick.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Metro Manila: Nasi Lemak serves authentic Singapore food in Robinsons Galleria!

Because of my frequent visits to Singapore and Malaysia, I've been regularly introduced to the local dishes there. As a result, I crave for the food every now and then. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all my favorite Singapore, Malaysian and Chinese dishes were being served at Nasi Lemak in Robinsons Galleria!

There's Char Kway Teow which is stir-fried flat rice noodles with light and dark soy sauce, chili, belachan, tamarind juice, whole prawns, cockles, bean sprouts and Chinese chives. Another favorite is Bah Kut Teh or pork bone tea which is a popular dish in both Singapore and Malaysia, where the Teochew and Hokkien versions are served respectively.

Other favorites in the menu include Singapore Laksa, Malaysian Chicken Curry, Sizzling Tofu Pork Mince Sauce and Kang Kong Sambal Blachan. I'm coming back for more.

Nasi Lemak is located at Level 2 of Robinsons Galleria beside Krispy Kreme.

Makati: Hotel Celeste, Makati's newest boutique hotel

Hotel Celeste is the newest haute couture hotel in Makati. I was lucky enough to stay a night in this really classy and avante-garde botique hotel. While the rooms may seem pricey, when you get to see them, you'll know why it's a hit among many foreign business travelers. In fact, I had a hard time getting a booking since almost all the rooms were fully-booked.

There are five elegant suite rooms named after French queens namely Marie Antoinette, Eleanor, Catherine, Blanche and Isabella. Each room has its own character, all generous in size with wonderfully hand-painted interiors. The 25 deluxe rooms also have surprises of their own.

Each room has a 32-inch LCD TV with cable and an iPod dock among others, while bathrooms are sticked with L'Occitane bath amenities. And the hotel is conveniently tucked beside Greenbelt and Makati's financial district, at the entrance of San Lorenzo Village.

Hotel Celeste
02 San Lorenzo Drive cor. A. Arnaiz Ave. (Pasay Road)
San Lorenzo Village, Makati City
(02) 8878080 / 8878088 (fax)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Manila: Big Binondo Food Wok Map now available!

Finally! All the wonderful places to eat in Binondo, all those legendary Manila Chinatown restaurants are now in one map! I have to give it to my tokayo Ivan ManDy of Old Manila Walks for producing the Big Binondo Food Wok Map, a must-have map for any serious foodie.

In National Geographic's Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe, Manila's Chinatown is among the Top 10 Chinatowns of the World (6th to be exact). In fact, established in 1594, it is the oldest Chinatown in the world!

Now, you can explore and eat your way through Chinatown on your own two feet! It has restaurant (over 80 food establishments) and shop listings, various cultural attractions and a heritage trail among others. Not only that, the map contains coupons and various freebies you can claim at selected restaurants. And it's just Php100!

Purchase your map now from the Bahay Tsinoy Museum, Libros Filipinos Bookshop (Filipinas Heritage Library) or the La Monja Loca Store. Mail orders are also accepted (plus shipping charge). Just e-mail for inquiries.

Oh, did I mention they're given free if you join the Old Manila Walks tours?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Manila: Malabon's Immaculate Concepcion fluvial procession

Like our Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippines is known for its water festivals. Some are wet and wild, others are solemn religious fluvial processions, others are both. I was invited to witness the fluvial procession in Concepcion, Malabon last December 9.

Why December 9? The Concepcion, Malabon fiesta actually lasts three days from December 8 to 10. December 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception nationwide. Aside from the fact that they did not want to compete with the significance of the nationwide commemoration, December 9 is the Pista ng mga Mangingisda (Fishermen's Festival). That's why the fluvial procession is held on that day. December 10 is the Pista ng Parokya ng Concepcion (Feast of the Concepcion Parish) when a grand procession of the image of the Immaculate Concepcion is held.

I'm used to the day time fluvial processions. The one in Concepcion in contrast, left at sunset. The pagoda that bears the image of the Immaculate Concepcion is constructed on top of two cascoes (traditional trading boats dating back to the Spanish colonial period that are fast disappearing) and elegantly lit with blue and white lights.

From the Rufina Patis factory in Concepcion, it goes as far as the mouth of the river close to Manila Bay, then back all the way to the San Bartolome Church, before finally making its way back to Concepcion. Despite the water pollution, the slow and solemn movement of the procession and the elegant lights make the trip an enchanting one.

Through the years, some traditions disappeared. They used to stopover in Navotas (said to be the original home of the image) to sing praises which made the procession last until the wee hours of the morning. But when Martial Law was imposed, together with curfews, this practice was stopped.

The pagoda also used to go as far as Manila Bay as well where boats participating in the procession would honor and salute the image by circling the pagoda. But after the Bocaue tragedy, the Philippine Coast Guard became very strict. And that practice was stopped as well.

After the procession, we feasted on a sumptuous dinner prepared by the Lucas Family that owns Rufina. Pardon the quality of the photos. It was a spur of the moment trip and I only had my camera phone with me.

Related entry
Malabon, Metro Manila's hidden gem

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Manila: Ateneo Alumni Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Rizal Park

Filipinos rarely visit Rizal Park. I guess it's because we feel it's just there. Every time I get the opportunity to pass by the park, I relish it since it's one of the few real open spaces left in this crowded metropolis. I got that chance again last Saturday.

One week before the Ateneo Alumni Homecoming, Ateneans remember the university's most distinguished alumnus, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Ateneo University President Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., officers of the Ateneo Alumni Association and representatives of the jubilarian classes graced the Annual Ateneo Alumni Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park last Saturday, December 5. This formal ceremony was held to commence the 2009 Grand Ateneo Alumni Homecoming activities.

This year is extra important since it's the 150th anniversary of the Ateneo. And this coming Saturday, there will be a big celebration to celebrate the sesquicentennial. Dubbed One Big Night, it's the sesquicentennial celebration and annual homecoming rolled into one.

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! See you all on Saturday! And thanks to Gab Malvar for the photos!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Manila: You Jie Xiao Chao Chinese restaurant near Rockwell

There's a rumor going around about this really good restaurant with no signage near Rockwell, a hole in the wall if you may, that serves authentic Chinese food from Hunan Province. Well, it's true!

It was hard finding the restaurant since it really did not have any signage. But this unpretentious nook called You Jie Xiao Chao Chinese Food (I had to ask someone to write this down for me in Pinyin since their card is in Chinese) serves really great Hunan cuisine! This restaurant is located at 6404 Camia Street near the Barangay Hall of Guadalupe Viejo. And the only distinguishing mark is the house number 6404.

Originally, they only had a menu in Chinese. But now, they have two photo albums where you can point your order to the staff.

We tried out the Hot Pot Duck which is a bit on the spicy side but really good (Php350), Steamed Dumplings which you can also have fried (Php120), Chinese Pizza which is actually an egg pancake (Php60), Fried Pork Ribs (Php240) and Steamed Pork (Php200). And the best part is that for Php20, the steamed rice is unlimited!

You Jie Xiao Chao Chinese Food
6404 Camia Street, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City
+63 915 4252972
+63 927 7876999

Correction: It's food from Hunan Province not Yunnan Province. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Manila: White Hat Yogurt serves great frozen yogurt!

I've secretly been craving for a lot of yogurt lately. And The White Hat Italian Frozen Yogurt has satisfied my appetite the past few weeks. I've been finding time to write about the great yogurt they serve. And since they have a Celebrity for Charity event this Saturday, it's about time I did.

The first time I tried their yogurt was when I was doing research about healthy food for a TV guesting on QTV. And I've been a fan ever since because of the deliciously sour taste of their yogurt. Aside from the plain yogurt, they also serve strawberry and green tea flavored yogurt in some of their branches which is really good. They also have take home pints in various flavors. Ask if the store has black berry because that one is really good too.

And there are plenty toppings to choose from from the usual suspects to some unique selections. Have you ever tried yogurt with mochi, kiwi and granola?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to that Celebrity for Charity event on Saturday, October 31, 2009 since the beneficiary is UP Sagip Isko. Sagip Isko started out as a response to victims of Typhoon Ondoy, but which is shaping up to become a permanent disaster response program of the University Student Council. The celebrity this weekend is my brod Nico Ibaviosa (thanks for volunteering). So I'm inviting you to buy yogurt at White Hat SM North EDSA this Saturday, October 31, 2009 since a percentage of the sales for the day in that branch will go to UP Sagip Isko. If you come in a Halloween costume between 1 to 5 p.m., you can get a chance to win a two-month supply of White Hat yogurt!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Binondo: Carvajal Street is a food haven!

Carvajal Street in Binondo is another food haven for those looking for a different kind of culinary adventure. To any certified foodie, Carvajal can be a very intimate and charming street market. It's a really narrow street that has been closed to traffic. In fact, it looks more like an alley than it does a street!

Among the Binondo locals, Carvajal is still called Ho Sua Hang, which is Hokkien for umbrella alley. That's because the main product of the street used to be umbrellas rather than food. Well today, one can find seafood, fruits and vegetables, as well as ingredients for Chinese dishes. If you need a hard to find ingredients for a Chinese dish you've been wanting to cook at home, it must be in Carvajal!

But if you're too lazy to cook, stalls there also sell food that's ready to eat. Don't you just love Chinatown?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Binondo: Dong Bei Dumplings are the best dumplings in Chinatown!

I can't stop raving about Dong Bei Dumplings! It's along Nueva Street (well they call it Yuchengco Street now). There are times that I'd drive all the way to Binondo just to buy my stock of frozen dumplings and pancakes which I could easily cook at home when I crave for them. The dumplings are actually from Northern China (most Chinese dishes we see here in the Philippines are from Fujian Province).

You can choose what you want inside your dumplings, from plain vegetables such as kutchai and cabbage, to dumplings with mixed pork and vegetables, plain pork, or shrimp and vegetables. You can also order them steamed or fried. Both are actually good!

Same goes for the pancakes. You can pick what you like in them. But they're usually served fried. These posts are really making me hungry! I want to go to Binondo now!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Binondo: Wai Ying Fastfood serves great dimsum!

Binondo is a food paradise. And Benavidez Street is a treasure trove of restaurants and hole-in-the-wall stores which serve some of the best Chinatown goodies. If you want some cheap but delicious dimsum, troop over to Wai Ying Fastfood!

Everything is great! But since our stomachs could handle only as much, we couldn't pick them all. We had (1) kutchai dumplings, (2) hakaw, (3) thaipao, (4) beancurd roll, (5) beef mami and (6) wanton mami. Even with the black gulaman and almond jelly, our bill was less than PHP500!

Wai Ying actually has another branch in Binondo and one in Tondo (also along Benavidez Street), which is near Metropolitan Hospital. That's were we got to savor these delectable dumplings. Writing this post got me craving for even more dimsum!
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