Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quezon City: Steak at Snackaroo Kamuning & Matalino

Snackaroo Porterhouse Steak Kamuning
Snackaroo has been around for ages! I can't believe I only discovered this recently after all those years studying in U.P. For just Php140, you can have a T-bone Steak or Porterhouse Steak served with their signature gravy. The meat is tender (best cooked medium or medium rare) and the fat melts in your mouth! It was so good, I ate there for five consecutive days!

Snackaroo T-bone Steak Kamuning
They have other dishes too but it's the steaks that really standout. I frequent the branch along Judge Jimenez cor. K-2nd Streets in Kamuning, QC. There's another branch at Maginoo cor. Matalino Streets in UP Village. Service can be improved though but what the heck, it's a hole in the wall. The steaks are definitely heaven!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Parañaque: Crispy Chili Garlic Bacon at The Burgery, BF Homes

Crispy Chili Garlic Bacon at The Burgery, BF Parañaque
BF Homes Parañaque is definitely a foodie haven. I was looking for something to eat late last night and went for a drive along Aguirre Avenue. That's one long stretch of restaurants, many of which you'll only find in BF.

We saw this new restaurant called The Burgery. Of course, the main attraction of their menu are the burgers and burger rice meals. But they have other dishes. A large poster actually caught my attention: Crispy Chili Garlic Bacon that was topped on herbed rice. I'll let the photo do the talking. I should explore more of BF during weekends!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thailand: Beach hopping in Phuket (Rawai, Kata, Karon & Patong)

Phuket beaches Thailand Patong
People don't realize that Phuket is actually a large island, a province of Thailand in fact. It took me an about an hour to get from the Phuket International Airport on the northern end of the island to my resort on Cape Panwa, the southwestern tip of Phuket. I stayed at what many consider to be among the best resorts on the island, Sri Panwa Phuket, an experience I will share in another post.

Karon Beach Phuket Thailand
Phuket actually has quite a number of popular beaches. Unfortunately, I had a hire a car to take me to see all the beaches. It was a rainy September when I was in Phuket so the sun was not out. But I got to see Rawai, Kata, Karon and Patong Beaches, albeit under overcast skies.

Rawai Beach Phuket Thailand
My first beach stop was Rawai Beach which was closest to the resort, being on the south side of Phuket as well. It's not really popular for swimming but you'll find traditional fishing boats and long tail boats moored at the beach, which tourists hire for snorkeling and sightseeing trips to nearby islands.

Kata Beach Phuket Thailand
Kata Beach (Kata Yai and Kata Noi) and neighboring Karon Beach are popular surfing beaches. Kata, with its village atmosphere, is more family-oriented, and a quieter version of party Patong. Kata Noi has the resorts, restaurants and tourist shops while Kata Yai is the less-developed beach.

Karon Beach Phuket Thailand
Karon Beach Phuket Thailand
Karon Beach is the second largest tourist beach of Phuket, with three kilometers of white sand. Most of the beach is public since a busy road separates the resorts form the beach itself. The beach is said to be the most upscale of the beaches of Phuket. 

Patong Beach Phuket Thailand
Patong Beach Phuket Thailand
Patong Beach is Phuket's party beach. It gets rowdy especially in the evening with numerous hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and bars to choose from. While accommodation here can get expensive, backpacker accommodation is also abundant in the area. It actually caters to everyone from budget to five-star.

At the time of my visit, winds were strong and waves were high. While it was surfer's paradise, swimming was not allowed in certain areas. So watch out for the red warning flags before you head for the beach. If these flags are up, please do heed them. Hopefully, I get to visit Phuket again now that there are direct flights from Manila.

We arrange tours to Phuket, Thailand. Contact us at for more details.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Adaptive reuse in the Philippines, an appeal to real estate developers

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation Philippines
One of the goals of the Heritage Conservation Society is to convince real estate developers and heritage property owners that they need not demolish old buildings in order to create new developments that are economically-viable. In fact, incorporating built heritage enhances the character of new developments and has been proven, in many countries, to increase property values and returns on investment.

Adaptive reuse is a creative mode of conservation that gives heritage structures new and alternative functions other than the original ones that may no longer be required. Most often than not, built heritage resources are found on premium real estate property so developers are in a hurry to demolish rather than restore and recycle. Today, there is a growing awareness that adaptive reuse can enhance property value.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation Philippines
A stylized DNA double helix is the focus of the glass-covered central courtyard, the symbolic center of the new Museum of Natural History (Photo from National Museum)
Adaptive reuse heritage conservation Philippines
(Above) The exteriors of the heritage DOT building are maintained, except for the addition of a glass dome covering the central courtyard; (Below) Shown by blue arrows, air circulation through the central coutryard passively cools the interior environment. Low-emissivity glass reflects solar heat as shown by yellow arrows (Photo from the National Museum)
Examples of adaptive reuse in the country include the Old Legislative Building and Department of Finance, now the National Art Gallery and the Museum of the Filipino People, component museums of the National Museum. The Department of Tourism (former Department of Agriculture) will soon be transformed into the Museum of Natural Sciences with Architect Dominic Galicia leading the team that will retrofit this old building to house the new museum.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation Philippines
Nielson Tower was the former Manila International Air Terminal. The first flight of Philippine Airlines took off from here (Photo from Wikipedia uploaded by user Christopher Rath)
Another classic example is the Nielson Tower (former Manila International Air Terminal) which used to house the Filipinas Heritage Library. Ayala definitely did a good job with this adaptive reuse since Nielson Tower was recognized by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation in  2001.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation Philippines
Juan Luna E-Service Building (Photo from Augusto Villalon)
Adaptive reuse heritage conservation Philippines
A close-up of the additional floor of the Juan Luna E-Service Building (Photo from Augusto Villalon)
The Juan Luna E-Services Building (former First National City Bank) in Binondo, Manila is being retrofitted to host a future call center. The architect of this project is Augusto Villalon. Notice the additional floor discreetly and intelligently added to the structure. Much of Escolta is also being prepared for adaptive reuse. Who said heritage buildings can't be useful today?

In many countries, like Australia, demolition of heritage structures is considered wasteful. The Department of the Environment and Heritage of Australia says, “Sustainable development has become a goal for all Australian  governments seeking to balance the health of the environment with the health  of the economy. The predominant vision of a sustainable built future is of state of the art buildings utilising energy efficient design and materials. In reality, this vision should consider the 200 years of European built heritage that stands in tandem with the green structures we rightly seek to create.

“The built environment provides a footnote to our histories, helping to identify our places as Australian, rather than generically ‘modern’ or ‘contemporary’. Historic buildings give us a glimpse of our past and lend character to our communities as well as serving practical purposes now.

“In the pursuit of sustainable development, communities have much to gain from adaptively reusing historic buildings.

“Bypassing the wasteful process of demolition and reconstruction alone sells the environmental benefits of adaptive reuse. Environmental benefits, combined with energy savings and the social advantage of recycling a valued heritage place make adaptive reuse of historic buildings an essential component of sustainable development.”

Download a copy of the publication Adaptive Reuse: Preserving our past, building our future for more information and inspiration.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation Australia
Another Australian publication featuring adaptive reuse comes from the State Heritage Office of the Government of Western Australia. You can download a copy of Heritage in Action: Adaptive Reuse for even more intelligent examples.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
Pratt Street Power Planet (Photo from Wikipedia uploaded by user Andrew Horne)
Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
Western Metal Supply Company (Photo from Wikipedia uploaded by user UCinternational)
The Pratt Street Power Plant in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, was converted into retail, restaurants, and offices. I've personally seen this and I've seen how it's been an important public space of the city. The Western Metal Building was not demolished to build Petco Park, the home field of the San Diego Padres. See how it was tastefully incorporated with the new complex.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
Young Street Lane Offices by Malcolm Fraser Architects is located in a mews street in Edinburgh’s original New Town (Photo by David Cemry)
Then there are the entries to the inaugural WAN Adaptive Re-use Award 2012. The winner was the Music School Louviers in Normandy, France. also has an index of articles featuring examples of adaptive reuse. Alyn Griffiths shares even more examples in an article Help the Aged: innovative adaptive reuse in architecture.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
Fort Point Loft Condominiums, a 140,000 square foot project, encompasses the adaptive reuse of two historic structures, the construction of a new building on an adjacent lot, and a three-story rooftop addition above all three structures (Photo from AIA)
I personally like the Fort Point Loft Condominiums in Boston, Massachusetts which was among the winners of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2009 Housing Awards. The three floors that were added was set back so you don't see them at street level. Plus the new building they constructed followed the scale and proportions of the two older buildings. Another AIA honoree is the Ford Assembly Plant which was among the recipients of the 2011 Institute Honor Awards.

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
McDonald's New Hyde Park (Photo from
Now who said you have to demolish a heritage building for McDonald's. Check out the McDonald's in New Hyde Park, which is arguably, the most beautiful McDonald's store in the United States. In fact, in many places that I visited, especially in Europe and South America, McDonald's stores can be found in heritage buildings. Now why the hell can't we do it in the Philippines?

In Ontario, Canada, Does Adaptive Reuse Pay? A Study of the Business of Building Renovation in Ontario, Canada was written by Robert Shipley, Steve Utz and Michael Parsons. They note, “Older buildings are important aesthetic, cultural and economic resources but in many jurisdictions hundreds of historic buildings have been demolished because developers and bankers argued that the cost of adapting them for new uses is too high. Still, a growing number of reputable developers are completing exciting projects featuring innovative building renovation.” The writers add, “In Ontario, Canada, there exists a group of dynamic and creative investors with a passion for older buildings. Some reuse projects are more costly than new building but not all and the return on investment for heritage development is almost always higher. This has important implications in Ontario where recent legislative changes have finally given local councils the authority to prevent the demolition of listed buildings, but the lessons for other jurisdictions are also important.”

Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
Tutuban Centermall (Photo from Wikipedia uploaded by user Spatrol)
Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
RCBC Silay City
Adaptive reuse heritage conservation
Museo Ilocos Norte
There are so many other good examples from the Philippines, such as the Tutuban Centermall (former Tutuban Railway Station), RCBC Silay City which is housed in the former Golez Mansion, and the Museo Ilocos Norte in what originally was a Tabacalera warehouse (by Architect Jojo Mata). The list continues to grow. And it is important that owners, architects and developers in the Philippines to embrace this concept of adaptive reuse if we are to make our country and its cities outstanding places with character and identity. This much we owe to our nation.

Heritage Conservation Summit 2013: Heritage and Real Estate Development
Heritage advocates, property owners, real estate and mall developers, cultural workers and government agencies will gather on November 9, 2013 for the Heritage Conservation Summit 2013. This year's theme is Heritage and Real Estate Development where discussions will revolve on how built heritage can enhance real estate and mall developments. Mark your calendars! Venue to be announced next month.
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