Saturday, January 31, 2015

Prince Albert Prime Rib

Thanks to Deal Grocer, I was able to try the famed US Angus Prime Rib of Prince Albert at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati. I have to say, it's really good!


The meat itself is delicious on its own and very tender and well-cooked. I don't know how it is seasoned or what the marinade is but it is packed with incredible flavor. It comes with a side of grilled vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, and baked potato that perfectly complement the prime rib and make for a very satisfying and filling meal. They also serve a variety of really good breads while you wait. Just writing about it now is makes me want to eat it again right now hahaha. With the Deal Grocer discount, this US Angus Prime Rib is still expensive (P995) but considering that it is 200 grams of really good beef and it comes with very tasty side dishes, it's a pretty good price.


Prince Albert is located at the ground floor of Hotel Intercontinental in Makati. When I called for reservations, I was asked to come in semi-formal attire (I came in a long-sleeved shirt and black pants, pretty much what I wear to work). It is open for lunch and dinner from Mondays to Friday and for dinner only on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.

Prince Albert Rotisserie
G/F InterContinental Manila hotel
No. 1 Ayala Avenue
Makati City
(02) 793 7000 loc 776/777

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2048

I've been playing the 2048 game online for a while now. Once I got to 2048 and 4096 as many other people have done, I thought it would be nice to go for the next level: 8192. It took some time but I finally achieved it. :)


Next goal: get to 16384. That's gonna be tough. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A good meal

I finally had my first really good meal in the last two weeks. I met up with my friends Anne and Georg who were in Manila again after spending some time in the province during their Philippine visit. I was supposed to meet them a week ago as well but I was having really bad stomach problems so I couldn't join them for dinner then.

These stomach problems I've been having are the reason why I haven't had a good meal in the last several days. Doctor's orders were for me to stay away from dairy products, oily, fatty and spicy food, raw food (including salads), caffeine, softdrinks, chocolate, citrus fruits and drinks, and tomato-based products. Not many options left for me to eat so most days I was just feeding on Skyflakes and bananas and drinking water and gatorade. Of course, I didn't have much of an appetite either. As my stomach started getting better, I started eating more and more food items. I can sort of eat pretty much anything now except for dairy and raw food, which my doctor said I should really stay away from for a couple of weeks

When I joined Anne and Georg and a few other friends earlier tonight, my normal appetite seemed to be back. Interestingly and appropriately enough, we had dinner at Eat Well. :) For the first time in two weeks, I overate and I now feel absolutely stuffed. (Hopefully I don't suffer a relapse...) Of course, to go with the good meal was a whole lot of fun and animated conversation. It was a really good night spent with really good friends.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Filipino domestic worker gets a scholarship in New York!

This is such a wonderful story. Xyza Cruz Bacani, a Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong, was awarded a scholarship to New York University!

During her free time, Xyza dabbles in amateur photography. Her well-composed black and white photos that capture everyday life in Hong Kong caught the attention of international photographer Rick Rocamora and led to her photos to be featured in the New York Times and other publications. This in turn led to her being noticed by the Magnum Foundation and the rest is history.

Since 2010, the Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellowship has been giving a handful of students from all over the world a scholarship to attend their Photography program in New York. This program is co-organized by the Magnum Foundation and by NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. When Xyza received the news, she wrote this on her facebook page: "All dreams are valid! I'm one of the 2015 magnum fellows! I'm going to see new york and finally get a formal education! I'm literally crying when i received the news." Thanks also have to be given to her Chinese-Australian boss in Hong Kong, who actually loaned her the money to buy her first camera and treats her and her mother very well. (Read more about this in the New York Times story.)

Check out Xyza's online portfolio on her website: http://www.xyzacruzbacani.com/.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Beauty and the Beast the Musical

Earlier today, I watched Beauty and the Beast the Musical at the CCP Main Theatre and it was amazing! My family and I watched the matinee at 2pm and we got to see the lead cast with Hilary Mailberger as Belle and Darick Pead as the Beast. The supporting cast includes Adam Dietlein as Gaston, Jordan Aragon as Lefou, Paul Crane as Maurice, Emily Matthenson as Mrs. Potts, Hassa Nazari-Robati as Lumiere, James May as Cogsworth, and Charlie Jones as Chip.


The musical was first staged on Broadway in 1994 and it is based on the 1991 animated Disney classic. It features the same songs you hear from the film including "Be our Guest", "Belle", and of course, the Oscar-winning theme "Beauty and the Beast". A few songs were added to the musical. Personally, the new songs aren't as musically enjoyable as the original ones. However, a couple of these new songs brilliantly showcase the amazing vocal ability of the two lead characters. Here is Darick Pead as the Beast performing "If I can't love her" to end the first act (that last high note is held for about 13 seconds and he sings it so cleanly and his projection is effortless).


video uploaded in youtube by ibleedgreenandblue

Hilary Maiberger as Belle sings "A Change in Me" towards the end of the show. Her voice is extraordinarily crystal clear and she hits the high notes with the greatest of ease.


video uploaded in youtube by La Bella y la Bestia de Disney

Of course, it wasn't just about great music and amazing voices. The stunning sets and the dazzling costumes and props were a visual feast and the production numbers were spectacular. "Gaston" featured a thoroughly enjoyable sequence that involved beer mug choreography. It also showcased the amazing athleticism and physical comedic timing of Jordan Aragon as Lefou. The transformation of the Beast into the prince was like the grand finale of a magic show. Of course, there was the "Be Our Guest" number which was possibly the scene I was most excited to see.The song itself is enough to make you happy and seeing the whole elaborate production just took that enjoyment to another level. There was a slight bit of "audience participation" as tinsel was shot out into the audience (you can see all the kids and people in the first few rows trying to grab them as souvenirs :)). There were also some fantastic acrobatics by a "rug" that included an amazing series of pirouettes which could not have been easy while being in a rug costume. (I wonder if the rug was also Jordan Aragon?) The only unfortunate thing about this was that the rug's acrobatic moves came in the middle of the song so he didn't get rewarded with massive applause that he definitely deserved. I could sense a lot of us wanted to clap for him but we weren't sure if we should given that number was still going on. I just hope he knows that his performance was very much appreciated by the audience.


A couple of firsts. My nephew watched his first musical with us and my family and I sat in the upper box for the first time. Oh and we barely made the start. My family got stuck in traffic on the way to CCP and my brother was still about to park with ten minutes left before the show. The rest of my family got seated while I frantically waited for my brother. When I saw him enter CCP, there was less than a minute left. By the time my brother and I made it to our seats, the lights dimmed and the show started. Talk about a photo finish!

The fountain in front of the CCP Main Theater is turned on whenever a show is staged here.

It's great that more and more musicals are making their way to the Philippines and I hope this trend continues. I really enjoyed Beauty and the Beast and I definitely recommend it. It will be staged at the CCP Main Theater until February 1 and there are shows everyday so if you haven't seen it, you still have time to get tickets at Ticketworld.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Remembering: Pope St. John Paul II in Vatican City

With Pope Francis' recent visit to the Philippines, I started thinking about the two times I saw Pope St. John Paul II. The first time I saw him was in 1995 when he visited Manila for World Youth Day. He was in his Pope mobile and I was probably about 50 feet away as he passed by. The second time I saw him was in St. Peter's Square in Vatican on Christmas Day where we heard him say his Christmas message to the world. This time around, I was much closer.


This encounter happened by chance. I was assigned in Europe for a short-term project over winter back in 2002 and instead of heading home for Christmas, I decided to bring my mom to Europe instead. My mom had never been to Rome so I made that part of our itinerary and we decided to spend Christmas in Vatican City.

When we got to the Vatican, we entered St. Peter's Basilica hoping to hear Christmas mass there. There didn't seem to be one, at least not at the time that we were there. We spent some time inside the church praying, marveling at the amazing architecture and art inside, and taking photos before stepping out. As we did, we saw a massive crowd gathered outside.


We figured there must be something going on in St. Peter's Square that afternoon so we decided to stick around. There was some kind of stage right outside the door of St. Peter's Basilica and we positioned ourselves at the side of this area. Shortly after, a parade started.


I took a video of it but this was 2002 and my digital camera at the time was only 3.3 megapixels with a capability to take only up to 15-second videos so you have to forgive this for being grainy and very short. :)



Pope St. John Paul II then came out, much to the surprise and amazement of me and my mom. Neither of us were expecting to see the Pope during this trip. It turned out that this was the Pope's Christmas message, where he says "Merry Christmas" in about 60 or so languages. I remember seeing this on TV before so to be there was almost surreal. I honestly can't remember how the Pope said Merry Christmas in Filipino - I'm guessing "Maligayang Pasko" - but as he did, both my mom and I cheered loudly. :)


After his Christmas message, Pope St. John Paul II boarded his Pope mobile which actually passed right in front of us!



It was a truly amazing experience to celebrate Christmas day in Vatican City and to see Pope St. John Paul II while we were there.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thank you, Pope Francis!

After his five day trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis finally bid farewell to the Filipino faithful earlier today.



Follow Pope Francis on twitter.

Things didn't go perfectly throughout the Papal visit, though. Typhoon Amang (international name Mekkhala) threatened to cancel the Tacloban leg of the Pope's trip. To minimize the impact of the storm, the Pope's visit to Tacloban was shortened by a few hours to make sure he would be back in Manila when the winds are at their strongest. It was amazing to see the crowds in yellow raincoats brave the inclement weather just to see the Pope and hear him celebrate mass at the Tacloban airport. As expected, the Pope delivered an emotional homily, with many people in crowd in tears as they remembered what they lost during Typhoon Yolanda.

Sunday was the Pope's last full day in Manila. He spent the morning in UST where he met with leaders of various religions and with the youth. Later that day, he made his way to Quirino Grandstand for his concluding mass. To pay homage to the Philippines, the Popemobile he used was an upgraded jeepney. Cool!

photo courtesy of Erik De Castro/ Reuters from https://ph.news.yahoo.com

As estimated 6 million people were at the Rizal Park complex for the concluding mass. This set a new record for a papal gathering, surpassing the 5 million attendees during the mass held by Pope John Paul II also in Rizal Park back in 1995.
 
As everyone is still in a state of euphoria, I am hopeful that people will take to heart the messages that Pope Francis shared with us these last few days. The theme of this visit was "Mercy and Compassion" and throughout his visit, he continued to ask Filipinos to do what they can to help the poor and not simply by just giving alms. He has asked us to fight against corruption at all levels. And he has reminded us to learn how to weep as this will help us understand our less-fortunate brothers and sisters more and be motivated to do something for them. Hopefully, this record-setting Papal visit will have longer term effects and the words of Pope Francis can spur more people into positive action or trigger a spiritual revival.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Post-Christmas reunions

January is a time for catching up, mainly because a lot of friends who live abroad are still in town and also because December is incredibly busy and finding a common time to meet up during the Christmas season is tough. My first post-Christmas reunion was with my ex-teammates at work. Our friend Reg was in town so we made sure we could catch up with her while she was still here. We ended up having dinner near the office since a lot of us still had to return to work after dinner.

The next day, I had dinner with my college batchmates since our friends Weng and Bong were in town. I was incredibly busy that night with a few issues popping up at the last minute but I hadn't seen Bong and Weng in ages so I made sure I would still catch up, albeit very late. Our dinner was in Va Bene in Bonifacio High Street (this is their second branch; the original is in the Petron station at the corner of EDSA and Pasay Road). I had never been to Va Bene before and I thought food here was pretty good. The restaurant closed at 10pm so we walked over to the nearby Starbucks to have some coffee before calling it a night.

Finally, I got to meet up with Jesse and our other friends during the first day of the long weekend. The plan was for us to meet up in Wicked by Cravings in Shangri-La mall. I got there a bit earlier than everyone else and since I hadn't had lunch yet, I decided to eat in Kettle which is right next to Wicked. That way, I could easily see if anyone else arrives. This was my first time in both Kettle and Wicked and both were quite good. I especially loved the Mallows and Pecan bark at Wicked. By 7pm Jesse had to leave to meet up with her family but the rest of us had dinner in Cyma.

I was supposed to catch up with a couple more sets of friends this long weekend but unfortunately, I woke up on Saturday with terrible stomach problems and had to reschedule them. Darn. I'm just hoping that this isn't similar to the really bad problems I had almost 2 years ago (I don't think it is since I have been getting a bit hungry today already).

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nomination #19

The Oscar nominations were just released and guess what? The Marvelous Meryl Streep adds to a record she has had for many years already by notching her 19th acting nomination. This time, it's for best supporting actress for her portrayal of the Witch in the film adaptation of Steven Sondheim's Into the Woods.

Into the Woods was released in the US over Christmas but it won't be released in cinemas here in Manila until the end of January. I checked out a couple of Meryl's recordings on youtube and they are amazing! We all know she can sing but there are things she does with her voice here that I didn't know she could do. Awesome!

Check out "Stay with me", one of the songs in the soundtrack. You can feel her emotion as she sings this even if you don't see her face so I can only imagine what it will be like when I see her on the big screen.


video uploaded in youtube by DisneyMusicVEVO

Just a few months ago, she also added to her Golden Globe nomination record. Incredible! I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this movie when it comes out.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Welcome to the Philippines, Pope Francis!

Viva il Papa!

Pope Francis I arrived in Manila yesterday at around 5:30 PM. The main purpose of this visit is for the Pope to visit the communities devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. While most of his time will be spent in Metro Manila, he will also be going to Visayas to inaugurate the Pope Francis Center for the Poor. This facility in Leyte which is funded by the Vatican will have a chapel, a clinic, an orphanage, and a home for the elderly. As the official website of the Philippine Papal Visit states, the Pope brings with him the message of the mercy and compassion of God.

photo courtesy of Paul Barker/REUTERS, link from ph.news.yahoo.com

It's amazing to see the throngs of people lined up at the sides of the roads or outside SM MOA Arena just to catch a glimpse of the Pope as he waves at them through the Popemobile. The excitement of the crowds can be felt even through the TV screen and it's incredible to hear their unbridled cheers as they see the Pope. People have been interviewed saying that the exhaustion and the waiting time is all worth it and I can just imagine what the energy must feel like when you are amidst the crowds.

Earlier today, the Pope celebrated a mass at the Manila Cathedral. I'm watching the live coverage of the Papal Visit and the Pope is now at the SM MOA Arena to meet with poor families, families of OFWs, and families of people with disabilities. You can check out the full itinerary in Rappler as well as at the official website of the Papal Visit (although there must be millions of people checking this site out as it has failed to load a few times today because it has exceeded bandwidth limitations!)

Some other noteworthy moments so far in the Papal Visit so far:
  • About 300 urban poor were given VIP seats at the MOA Arena so they could face the Pope directly.
  • In his speech at the Malacanang earlier today, the Pope urged the Philippine government to fight against corruption. He asked Philippine political leaders to be "outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good" to addres the "glaring and indeed scandalous social inequalities".
  • He also took time outside his official itinerary to visit a home for street children run by the Anak-TNK Foundation.



As goosebump-inducing as this visit has been so far, I am sure things will be even more emotional and spiritual as the Pope arrives in Leyte tomorrow where he will celebrate a mass, meet with some survivors of Yolanda, and inaugurate the Pope Francis Center for the Poor.

Read more about the Papal Visit here.
Check out the latest news on the Papal Visit in this link (ph.news.yahoo.com).
Follow Pope Francis on twitter.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Errand Day

I decided to use the early part of the day today to work on some errands. Mainly, real estate property tax payment and pick-up of my driver's license. No, my license didn't get confiscated. When I went to LTO to have my license renewed late last year, they already ran out of license cards supply so I was told I had to go back in January to get it.

I decided to pick my license up first since I knew that would be relatively quick (it was). However, once I arrived at City Hall, I realized I should have gone there first because the line was unbelievably long but they were using a number queuing system which meant you didn't need to be there all the time. When I got my number, I realized there were still 245 people ahead of me. Yikes! I was told that they were processing on average about 100 people per hour which meant I would have to wait 2 1/2 hours for my turn. This was the first time I had to wait that long to pay real estate property tax. Thankfully, because of the numbering system, I was able to leave City Hall, have a relaxed lunch and coffee, pay our cable TV bill at the nearby BDO, then return to City Hall without losing my spot in the queue.

Unfortunately, as I was heading home, I got caught in horrible traffic. Thankfully, I was just commuting and not driving. My jeepney barely moved in ten minutes so I decided to get out and start walking home. My initial plan was to head to the bottleneck of the traffic then get on another jeepney that had already made it past the bottleneck. However, as I kept on walking, I realized the traffic had practically ground to a halt. Wow. What was causing this traffic? Anyway, I was thankful that (1) I had gotten out of my jeepney and (2) I was only about 1 1/2 kilometers away from my house. Unfortunately, as I was walking home, I didn't notice a slightly elevated section of the sidewalk and as I stepped on it, I rolled my ankle. Damn! Once I got home, I iced my ankle and so far it seems okay but it is already feeling sore. I am just hoping my ankle doesn't swell tonight and that it doesn't end up becoming a full sprain tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Afternoon coffee at Paul

I'm a big fan of European breads and pastries so when I had an opportunity to try Paul Boulangerie Patisserie during the Christmas break, I took it. It's on the expensive side but I thought I deserved a bit of a break. :)

When I got there, I was faced with the dilemma of what to order as there were so many interesting and very tempting items on display. I finally opted for the Millefeuille Fraises (P170), which is made of alternating layers of puff pastry and crème pâtissière (pastry cream) and served with fresh strawberries.


Gotta say, I'm glad I tried this because I absolutely love it! The pastry cream was delectable and there was a generous amount of fresh strawberry slices mixed in with it that just made the pastry much better. The coffee was also very good. This was a very satisfying afternoon snack at Paul. I'm pretty sure I'll be visiting this place again so I can also try their other pastries.

Monday, January 12, 2015

"Cat Mario" (Shobon Action)

I saw this video of someone playing what he called "Cat Mario" because it resembles Super Mario but it has a cat as the main character. The title of the video is "World's Hardest Mario Game" and after watching it, I can understand why. :)  My favorite moments are 0:52, 1:04, 1:48, 1:54, 2:37, and the last ten seconds. :)

Parental Advisory: some explicit language is used in this video.


video uploaded by B Brian

Apparently, this game is called Shobon Action and while it may seem absolutely ridiculous and frustrating to play, it has gotten generally positive reviews. To quote its wikipedia page, "it was recognized as a game that "systematically disrupts every convention of 2D platform gameplay" and that success in the game often relies on both trial-and-error-like strategies and the player's ability to use counterintuitive strategies to avoid obstacles."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

UAAP Women's Volleyball season 77

The Women's Volleyball tournament of the UAAP season 77 started last November and the first round was completed earlier today in incredible fashion: last year's finalists Ateneo and La Salle squared off in the last game of the first round and played a nailbiting five-set match. True to form, defending champion Ateneo edged La Salle to sweep the first round.

The story of the season, however, has been the amazing improvement of UP. For the first time since I started watching the televised games, UP managed to win three games during the season. In the last two years, they ended with only two wins for the entire season and they have now exceeded that in just the first round. More than that, they are in a three-way tie for 4th, with FEU and Adamson sharing a 3-4 win-loss standing. In fact, UP, FEU, Adamson, NU (at 4-3) and even UST (at 2-5) all have the ability of beating each other this season as can be seen in the results: UP beat UST, UST beat Adamson, Adamson beat FEU, FEU beat NU, and NU beat UP. Those five teams have all to play for in the second round and it will be immensely interesting to see which teams will eventually move into the final four.

The only trouble for UP now is that one of their star players, Kathy Bersola, who was last season's best blocker, suffered an ACL injury in UP's last match, an extremely difficult win over Adamson in four sets. (The scores in the last two sets were an unbelievable 29-27 and 34-32!) Kathy is now out for the season but hopefully someone else in the team can step up. It would be absolutely awesome if UP can make it to the final four. And given how challenging it is for athletes to get back from ACL injuries, I just hope Kathy Bersola recovers quickly and gets back to full, or close to full, health.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tagaytay Trip year 3: Morielli's

The second new restaurant I got to try in Tagaytay during my last trip was Morielli's. I saw on tripadvisor that it was rated quite highly (as of this writing, it is ranked #2 among Tagaytay restaurants) so I decided to try it out for myself.


The restaurant serves primarily Filipino cuisine, including local classics such as sinigang, kare-kare, and even dinuguan and puto. Before looking at the menu online though, I actually thought it was an Italian restaurant because of its name. As it turns out, the name "Morielli's" comes from combining the names of the parents of the owners: Moriet and Gely.


As is my Tagaytay food trip tradition, I ordered a few items on the menu. The Sisig Quesadilla (P180) was a pretty cool fusion of Pinoy and Mexican food. The sisig was well-cooked and tasty and it worked really well with the grilled tortilla.



For my main course, I got the Lechon ala Morielli's (P240). It comes in three sizes, I think I got the small or medium portion (can't recall anymore LOL). This was a real winner. The meat was tender and delicious and the skin was perfectly crispy and crunchy. It actually looks (and tastes) more like bagnet or lechon kawali than traditional lechon.


I also ordered a bowl of Chicken Sopas (P98). It is listed under the "Comfort Food" section of their menu. This dish was relatively straightforward, nothing spectacular or flashy about it but it does taste like the chicken sopas I used to enjoy as a kid. I would probably have enjoyed it a tad more if it wasn't so extraordinarily hot the day I was there. :)


After my dining experience here, I can say that Morielli's did live up to the hype. While the interior is relatively simple, like an upscale canteen, the food is really good and the prices are quite affordable. It is also easy to find; it is right along the Tagaytay-Calamba road just a short distance from the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road. Reservations are recommended as this place does get full. (There's an online reservation app on their website but you can also call to book a table.) I would definitely recommend a visit to Morielli's.


Morielli's
Tagaytay- Calamba Rd. cor St. Francis Drive
Tagaytay City, Philippines

Globe/Viber: 0917 596 4400
Globe: 0915 322 3590
Smart: 0999 348 8048
Email: moriellisbnb@gmail.com

Restaurant hours: 7:30 AM to 10 PM

How to get there
Coming from Sta. Rosa, on the fork of the road, please turn left. After you pass a waiting shed, you will see St. Francis Drive's street marker. Morielli's is just behind it. Click here for directions.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Tagaytay Trip year 3: Amoroma Ristorante Italiano

I tried two new restaurants during my last trip to Tagaytay. The first was Amoroma Ristorante Italiano. This restaurant is just along the Tagaytay-Calamba road and it is very close to the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road. It has a very traditional Italian interior, with its warm and cozy colors and its checkered tablecloths.


Instead of getting an appetizer and a main dish, I decided to instead order one of their pasta dishes and one of their pizzas. For my pasta, I got the Gnocchi Sorpresa (P295).


Gnocchi are light and fluffy pasta dumplings made from potatoes. You choose one of four sauces for this dish. I selected the Gorgonzola sauce (the other options are Alfredo, Pomodoro, and Basilo). I'm a big fan of gnocchi and I really enjoyed this dish. It's also pretty decently priced considering that gnocchi dishes in other Italian restaurants in Manila are in the P350-450 range.

For my pizza, I ordered the Salsiccia e Cipolle Rosse (P340). This is a 13" thin crust Pizza served with Italian sausage and Red Onion.


The pizzas in Amoroma are baked in a brick oven which I think makes them taste better. The pizza was, for the most part, really good. The only downside for me was the red onion. While it did clearly state in menu that the pizza is served with red onions, I didn't realize how overpowering they would be. I ended up picking off most of them (and as you can see in the photo above, there were quite a lot). I wanted to save room for dessert so I ate only half of the pizza at the restaurant and I took the rest back to the hotel for a midnight snack later that night. :)

To cap off my evening, I ordered their Tiramisu (P185) and paired it with Cafè Americano (P75). Both the dessert and the coffee were pretty good. I was pretty happy with my overall dining experience here.


Amoroma Ristorante Italiano is pretty easy to find and while there are only a few parking slots out front, there are a whole lot more parking slots at the back. There's a pretty interesting nod to The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel that is similarly painted on a ceiling, in this case, that of the staircase at the back of the restaurant. :)


Amoroma Ristorante Italiano
Tagaytay-Calamba Road, Barangay Tolentino East,
National Highway, Tagaytay City of Cavite
For Reservations/Booking: 0929.2690370, 0916.3829883
(Note: they don't accept email reservations)

Click here for link to Google map location

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Tagaytay Trip year 3: Hotel Dominique

This post is several months late but it is Throwback Thursday today so it should be okay. :) I took another solo-flight Tagaytay trip in the middle of last year to relax and go on a food trip. While it is a bit early to claim that these Tagaytay visits are now an annual ritual given that I've just done this two years in a row (and three times in the last four years), I'm pretty sure it's something I will keep doing quite regularly in the future.

I decided to stay in Hotel Dominique for two reason. First, I wanted to try a place where I hadn't stayed before. Second, and probably more importantly, I saw discount vouchers for this hotel online. :)

Hotel Dominique

I stayed here two nights but I actually tried two different rooms in this hotel - the Superior Room and the Junior Suite. I will say that the junior suite is significantly better and more comfortable than the superior room. The Superior Room is decent but it does feel pretty cramped. It has a very comfortable queen bed but there isn't a lot of wiggle room around it.

Superior Room

However, the bathroom does feel a bit old and dingy. I'm guessing it's not really that dirty but the gray tiles and the beige sink and toiler make it feel that way. The shower curtain also looks cheap and is too long.

Bathroom inside the Superior Room

The Junior Suite, on the other hand, is pretty spacious. It can accommodate four people since the main area has a double bed and two single beds in the bedroom.

Double bed in the main area of the Junior Suite

Bedroom inside the Junior Suite

I forgot to take a photo of the bathroom but it was a lot more sleek and sophisticated than the one in the superior room. It also had much better furnishings including a glass shower door. Oh, and there was a beautiful stained glass window by the staircase leading up to the Junior Suite.

Beautiful Filipino-themed stained glass at the staircase leading up to the Junior Suite

My rooms came with free breakfast and free wifi. The hotel also has a pretty good location, just a short driving distance from the rotonda. There is ample parking space both inside the hotel compound and just outside the entrance. There is a guard on duty so parking outside should still be pretty safe. I wouldn't recommend booking the superior room but if you are in a group of three or four people, this could be a good hotel for you.

Hotel Dominique
Km. 55 Aguinaldo Hi-way
Brgy. Maitim II East, Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay, 4120 Cavite
Front desk mobile: 0917-866-4140, 0998-974-9404
Tel no: (02)584-4641, (02)552-5141, (046)4130531
Email: reservations@hotel-dominique.net

How to get there:
From the Tagaytay-Calamba road coming from Manila/Sta. Rosa, turn right at the Tagaytay Rotonda into Emilio Aguinaldo Highway. Drive past Chowking and Jollibee on your right and McDonald's and Metrobank on your left. Hotel Dominique is around 800 meters away from the rotonda on the right side of the road. Click here for map.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Bad start

This is not a good start to the tennis year. Rafa Nadal lost in three sets to Michael Berrer in the first round of the Qatar Open. This is sort of understandable given that Rafa is coming back from an appendectomy and he barely played in the second half of 2014 due to a wrist injury. However, this loss is still quite unfortunate because his conqueror, Michael Berrer, is currently ranked 127. Also, Rafa also took the first set very easily (6-1) so you would have expected him to win the match. Alas, it didn't happen.

Rafa has now suffered back-to-back competitive losses. His last official match in 2014 was a loss to Borna Ćorić at the Swiss Indoors in October. (I'm not counting the Mubadala Tennis Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, although Rafa also had a bad loss there against Andy Murray.) With the Australian Open starting in a couple of weeks, I'm hoping that Rafa can find his form really soon so he can do well in the year's first Grand Slam tournament.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

No more IHOP Biscuits and Gravy

I visited IHOP recently, fully intending to order my favorite dish: Biscuits and Gravy Combo. The biscuits are really soft and flaky and there is no other place in the Philippines (that I have found, at least) that serves biscuits like those. The dish also comes with sausages, eggs, and hash browns, as well as a generous serving of creamy gravy that goes perfectly well with everything in the dish.


However, when I checked the menu during my recent visit, I couldn't find the Biscuits and Gravy Combo anymore. I asked the waitress about it and she said they updated their menu around 6-7 months ago and they haven't been carrying this dish since. Argh! Such a shame. I'm guessing I was one of only a few people who ordered this dish so they had to discontinue serving it.

Since I was already there, I had to order something else. The good news for me was that I found my new favorite dish: Ham & Swiss Hash Brown Stack (golden hash browns topped with ham, melted Swiss cheese, sliced tomato, an over medium egg and rich hollandaise). You could say that it is like Eggs Benedict but with a hash brown base instead of bread. It also comes with a side of pancakes. This dish is part of their new Hash Brown Stack section in the menu so at least they replaced a dish I loved with one that I also really enjoy.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Infinito Singers of Indonesia sing Bituing Walang Ningning

To try and send some positive vibes to the people affected by the recent crash of Air Asia flight from Indonesia to Singapore and by Typhoon Seniang, here's a beautiful video of the Indonesian choir Infinito Singers performing a Filipino classic "Bituing Walang Ningning" (originally performed by Sharon Cuneta and composed by Willy Cruz).


video uploaded by Avin Kesuma

This is a beautiful performance and their enunciation of Filipino words is really good. In fact, their Siempre La Musica! performance in 2010 included choral works from the Philippines, Spain and Latin America. Cool!  Their choral rendition of Zsa Zsa Padilla's Ikaw Lamang is also online.

You can visit their website http://infinitosingers.com/ to learn more about them. They are also on facebook and twitter.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Typhoon Seniang hits the Philippines

More tragedy in Southeast Asia after Christmas. What started out as a tropical depression turned into tropical storm Seniang that hit the South of the Philippines on December 29. As a result, parts of Mindanao and Visayas experienced torrential rains and heavy flooding over the next few days, leading up to New Year's Eve.

While Seniang didn't have winds close to supertyphoon levels, it seems to have had just as much negative impact. The death toll is reported to be at 55 now. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) stated on December 31 that a total of 24 bridges and 23 roads have been heavily affected by landslides and/or flooding and a few bridges have even collapsed. According to an article in Manila Bulletin, the damage Seniang caused is estimated to be P644 million.

You can help typhoon victims by donating to the Philippine Red Cross through this link: http://ushare.redcross.org.ph/. Here, you can select to which campaign you want to make your donation. My thoughts and prayers also go out to the victims of Typhoon Seniang.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Tragic news about AirAsia QZ8501

Incredibly sad news as 2014 was about to close: AirAsia flight QZ8501 traveling from Indonesia to Singapore last December 28 crashed into the Java Sea. The plane was missing for a couple of days before debris was spotted. Shortly after that, search and rescue efforts were deployed and they have slowly started to retrieve bodies of crash victims from the water.

2014 was not a good year for air travel. I hope that AirAsia QZ8501 is the last plane tragedy that the world will experience in a really long time. My thoughts and prayers go out to the 162 passengers and crew on board the flight as well as to their families and loved ones.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Looking back at 2014

Just as I have done in the past, I will start off the new year by looking back at some the highlights of the previous year.

2014 was a year of many first for me, including the following:


While I may not have travelled abroad in 2014, I visited a lot of places in the Philippines. I already mentioned my first trip to Kalinga but I also revisited Batanes, Corregidor, and Tagaytay (twice). This included my third annual Tagaytay food trip, which I have yet to write about.

I also got to enjoy lots of great experiences with my family, including my nephew'sgraduation, my cousin's debut, our fun day at Enchanted Kingdom, my cousin'swedding, Nanay's birthday in Tagaytay, and our family trip to Corregidor.

There were also reunions with great friends who now live abroad, including Amy, Eugene, Anne, Cesar, and Suzanne and Nenen.

While there were a lot of very joyous moments during the year, there were also sad moments. I experienced three losses: my friend Liza, my cousin Doyle, and Tito Roy.

A few milestones I achieved in this blog:

  • I published my 1,000th blog post.
  • I recorded the most number of posts in year with 161 (my previous record was 156 which I achieved twice, in both 2013 and 2010).
  • I achieved my second "perfect blogging month" last January.
  • As a result of that, I have a new record for most number of hits in a month, with 2,720.
  • I also finally changed the look of my blog.

Other memorable moments and experiences: I watched Wicked and Chicago, Rafa Nadal won his record-shattering 9th French Open, the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team left a mark and earned legions international fans in the FIBA Basketball World Championships, I performed in another dance competition at work, I purchased my 400th online discount voucher, I used my 400thonline discount voucher, and I took on a new role at work.

That was a pretty good and full year. Hopefully, 2015 will be just as amazing as 2014, if not even better.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy new year, everyone!

I had a really random yet amazingly wonderful experience today. My family visited my grandmother for dinner and we decided to hear New Year's mass in the church where she lives. Midway through the mass, one of the church staff approached me and asked if I could join the offertory. Naturally, I agreed. I was then given a star that that had a lit candle on top. I was asked to put this star on top of the Christmas tree next to the altar. I wasn't given any other instructions apart from putting this star at the top of the tree. I put the star at the top of the tree but it didn't feel like it was properly in place so I pushed it down a bit more. As I did this, I must have either turned a switch on or closed the circuit because all of a sudden, the whole tree including the star lit up! Wow! I wasn't expecting that and I'm just happy I pushed the star down a bit more. :) As soon as the tree lit up, the people in church applauded. This is what it looked like (of course, I took this photo after the mass :))


Behind me was a procession of people who started putting lit candles all around the tree. We then moved in front of the altar as we were blessed by the priest. What a great way to start the year!