Category Archives: Family

Musings of a COO : Like Family

Just wanted to share with you all a picture of our oldest employee.  She’s 78, and she’s been with our company for over 50 years.  50 years!!!  Can you imagine? And she’s still working to this day!

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Mrs. Moya, you are a treasure and an inspiration!  I cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve done, and continue to do for our company.  You truly are family!!!

The Holiday Round-Up

With this post I recall all the great moments of this year’s Christmas, and finally lay the holidays to rest :).

It was a wonderful time spent with my bigger family and with friends, peppered with a lot of quality moments with the H and A.

Hectic as usual, but I love that every day was a day that was celebrated well, with new memories created, and many blessings to be thankful for  :).

Ayala Triangle Light Show

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To kick start the holiday season, the H and I always try to catch the light show at the Ayala Triangle gardens.  There’s something about all those lights draped from the trees, flickering to Christmas music, that makes me feel so giddy and excited. It never fails to put me in the holiday mood :).

I guess this is the modern day version of those COD Christmas display shows I used to watch when I was a kid (they actually have a revival of it at the Greenhills Shopping Mall, but I’ve never been).  It was always a family tradition to trek down to Cubao to witness this Christmas production.  My dad would prop me up on his shoulders, so I could have an unobstructed view of the show.  I remember always being entranced by the set and the moving figures, and it always strongly reinforced how much I loved Christmas, and all its traditions and festivities :). Still do :).

Hi-5 House Party in Manila

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This holiday season, we were also able to catch two shows :).

The little one loves Hi-5, and it just so happens they had a show at SM Aura–right in our neighborhood!  The H and I knew she would be so ecstatic to watch them live, so we immediately snapped up some tickets, and took A to see her favorite group perform.

And boy did she love it!

Even though I am personally not too into Hi-5, seeing the excitement on A’s face, made it more than worthwhile for me :).

Barkada Christmas Get-Togethers

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I’m glad that despite our busy schedules, we were able to plan our barkada Christmas get-togethers early enough for them to push through without a hitch.

The H and I both have groups of friends that we’ve known for like forever.  My best gal pals have been my friends since Grade School (some since Nursery!), and the H has known his since High School.  They are truly our closest friends, and because we don’t get to see each other as often, celebrating these occasions with them and their families is always such a special time for us :).

Christmas Eve

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Christmas is the only time of year that my family is complete.  And that’s why I love it :).  The house also always looks so festive, sissy is home from New York, we do our thing and decorate the Christmas dinner table together, and the food we feast on has been a family tradition for many, many years :).  What’s not to love, right?

And for the past couple of years, we’ve started to have color themed parties as well :).  This year’s theme was red, green and gold :).  Our parents were all in red, my cousins, siblings and I were in green, while the kiddos were in white and gold.

In my family, Christmas Eve is also the night when presents are exchanged and opened.  Because of Yolanda, gifts were a lot simpler this year, and some of our relatives decided not to give gifts at all, but that did not dim our celebration one bit :).  In fact, I think it was even more fun, and definitely more meaningful :).

Christmas Day

Christmas Day this year was spent at Cousin A’s house.  It’s pretty much a repeat of the night before, minus my siblings, who celebrate the holidays with their in-laws.

For the past couple of years, my generation (my cousins, siblings and I)  has already been hosting the family holiday celebrations.  Our parents have been “passing on the baton”, so to speak, and getting us ready for what will eventually be our role in the future :).  I love it when traditions are passed on successfully, and hope my cousins, siblings and I will be able to keep it up, and keep our families close in the years to come :).

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In the evening, we trooped over to my in-laws for Christmas dinner.  Since last year, they decided to celebrate on the 25th itself, just so that we wouldn’t have to rush Noche Buena with the Pascual side (my family’s side) on the 24th.  Best. Decision. Ever!!!  Plus, we could totally enjoy the feast that my MIL ends up preparing.  Before, when we would celebrate both Noche Buena’s on the 24th, I would be too full to eat by the time we reached my in-laws’ place.  The kids would also be a bit tired, as it would be waaaaaay past their bedtime.

This time around, dinner was enjoyed quite leisurely, with no one rushing to leave; and gift opening was ofcourse the highlight of the evening, with all the kids excitedly opening presents, and creating a huge mess in the process!  Hahaha!  Oh to be a kid again! :)

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Santa’s Visit

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This year was the first year we introduced Santa to the little one.  During past Christmases we felt she was still too young to understand who he was, so we did not even bother with it.

But this year–thanks to Rockwell mall–she got so into the idea of Santa!  I guess it helped to see an actual live, breathing version of him (haha!).  Unfortunately however, as Christmas Eve drew nearer, and our schedules just got waaaaaay too hectic, we were unable to compose our letter to Santa.  Instead, I asked A to wish very hard, for what she wanted Santa to get her, and that if she was a good girl, Santa would give her a gift on Christmas.

On December 26, A opened her very first gifts from Santa Claus.  He left them inside her stocking :).  As you can see from the look on her face, she was very pleased with her presents :).

Next year, I promised her, we’ll try to work on her letter, and we’ll even leave milk and cookies for Santa.  We’ll go for the whole shebang :).

Cousin’s Night Out

When we were younger, the days in between Christmas would be spent partying at bars and clubs.  Obviously, those days are far behind us now.  Hahaha!  Staying in and having wine and cheese nights are more our thing :).

Thanks to big sissy for being our host this time around.  We had a great time bonding with the sibs and our cousins, in the comfort of her beautiful home :).

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NYC Roomies Reunion at The Pen

As December is a time of reunions, we couldn’t let it go by without seeing our good friends from New York.  We met at the Peninsula Hotel, which is always so wonderfully decorated during Christmastime :).  The H and I hope to make this another tradition with A, to have bibingka and puto bumbong at the Pen every year.

While unfortunately there wasn’t any more by the time we got there, we still enjoyed the company and the ambience very much :).

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I especially loved this life-size gingerbread house!  It smelled so heavenly! :)

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Disney On Ice

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For our second show of the holiday season, we took the little girl to Disney on Ice. She is currently fascinated by the Disney Princesses, and by the Prince’s too! Personally, I also enjoyed the show very much :).  I remembered when I was a little girl and my parent’s used to take me and my siblings to Holiday on Ice.  I remembered being in awe of the costumes, and the gracefulness of the skaters. This show is much, much more commercialized, but I still loved being able to sing the songs, appreciate the set and dance numbers, and to give A this experience. After all, who doesn’t love Disney? :)  Their productions are as magical as ever :).

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Anvaya

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To escape a little bit of the traffic and holiday madness, we took a quick out of town trip to Anvaya :).

The weather was sooooo glorious, and it was definitely a welcome break to relax by the beach and enjoy the company of family :).

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New Year’s Eve

This year’s party theme was fascinators and bowties.  I thought it was a fun and festive theme, don’t you think? :)  And everyone certainly got into it, which made it even more fun!

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My brother has a huge balcony that overlooks the Marikina Valley.  We were so lucky to get a 360-degree view of different fireworks displays!  We did not even have to have our own fireworks!  Hahaha!  I must say that the fireworks this year was very impressive, and there were a lot!  I hope that means that 2014 will be good to all of us, and we’ll see that kind of abundance in terms of blessings as well :).

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New Year’s Day

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New year, new family picture :).

As you can see, our family is growing!  We had a new addition last year in the form of my nephew, K.  Isn’t he a cutie? :)

And because our family is much bigger than it was before, we thought it was high time to start documenting it by way of a studio family photo :).  The last time we had one done, my siblings and I were all single! :)

Here are my parent’s with all of their grandchildren :).  There’s a complete family picture, but will share it with you in a future post.

The photo shoot was such a riot!  But I’m glad we had it done anyway :).

Afterwards, we attended mass to commemorate the first day of the year, and had dinner out as despedida for my sister, who left for NY the next day :(.

As you can see, our holidays were choc-full of activities!  Writing this blog post and looking back at all that happened these past few weeks allowed me to remember all the wonderful memories we created and shared as a family.

Here’s to more memories, adventures and exciting experiences in 2014!  God bless us all :).

The Weekend That Was : Balik Bukid 4

Just wanted to share images from our wonderful Balik Bukid experience!  We spent almost the entire day at the fair, and had a blast!

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Ofcourse no trip to Balik Bukid would be complete without feeding the guinea pigs…

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…or saying “hello” to the baby pot-bellied pig!

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We ate the most delicious food…

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This brick oven truffle mushroom and cheese pizza was TDF!  And doesn’t it look too pretty to eat too? :)

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This ginger ale from Stanford & Shaw Brewing Co. was soooooo cold and refreshing–perfect for a day in the bukid!

There was also some shopping for the ladies, with several of my favorite sellers representing! :)

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Here is Anna, manning the La Pomme booth.  Don’t you just love her Pepita Doll? It’s 100% handmade with love by her!  Ofcourse I could not resist buying one for myself!  Yes, you read that right–it’s for me!  Hahahaha!

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Soft Haven makes the most wonderful baby blankets and matching plush toys. They’re also regulars at the American Women’s Bazaar :).

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Mary Velmonte and her takas from Takatak Project were also at the fair!  She brought along her new products too!  Notice that bear made out of craft board? That’s meant to be a wall hanging!  Cool, right?

Balik Bukid was truly a wonderful way to spend the weekend!  And I was happy to see how many families thought so too!  Even my family who were first-timers at the fair agreed that it was such a fun way to bond :)!  And for once, the kids did not even look for nor ask for their gadgets!  Instead, they were running around, playing with animals, taking carabao rides, and trying out the zipline!

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This was the last Balik Bukid for this year, but you should definitely try and catch the next one!  I promise, you’ll have a blast!

Food-Tripping in Baguio

Gosh, it’s been ages since I last visited Baguio.  15 years to be exact :).  So when my good friend M invited us to join her for a weekend getaway to the City of Pines, the H and I (along with my cousin A, and her husband, D) didn’t really have to think twice :).

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about the gastronomic adventures one can look forward to in Baguio.  While the sights have not really changed much in the last 15 years (except to look a bit older), the dining scene apparently, is alive and kicking.

This got me really, really excited!  I mean, who doesn’t love eating, right? Hahaha!  Well, I obviously do :).  So before our journey, I did a little research, and listed down all the places I wanted to try :).  Thankfully, we had enough number of days, and enough number of meals to do so.  Hahaha!

Here is a run-down of our favorite Baguio eats :

1. Cafe by the Ruins

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Photo courtesy of pasahera.com

The first stop on our culinary escapade was Cafe by the Ruins.  I guess a trip to Baguio is not complete without stopping by here.  This oldie but goodie is located on Shuntung Road.  While it is one of the city’s must-try’s, can you believe I’ve never even set foot in it?  As in ever?  Where have I been, right?  Hahaha!

So the minute we arrived in the city, we pretty much made a beeline for the restaurant (we were also quite hungry na!).  We chose to have their various specialties such as the Baguio bagnet, duck, crispy tapa, and some chicken sotanghon soup for the little girl.  We also tried their Rizal’s Tsokolate-e, which was surprisingly a bit different from what I was expecting.  I was hoping for a thick, creamy, and steaming cup of hot chocolate to warm my belly.  This version, although good, was a bit runny and not as milky as I would have wanted.

Our food, however, was both yummy and satisfying.  I love that it was served with healthy mountain rice, a side of tomato relish, and a generous serving of ulam. 

For our first meal in Baguio, I’d say Cafe by the Ruins set the tone just right. Even in terms of ambience, I thought it was very charming–with the “old”, antique-ish looking wooden furniture, the work of local artists that were on display, the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, and the walls or ruins, ofcourse, that inspired the restaurant’s name.  I also loved how open and maaliwalas the place felt :).

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Photo courtesy of ourawesomeplanet.com

Needless to say, we enjoyed our experience there very much :).

2. Hill Station

Dinner that evening was spent at another Baguio must, Hill Station.  Located right underneath SM Baguio on Upper Session Road, Hill Station is recognized as a Miele Best Restaurant in Asia.  Impressive, right?  It’s offerings are influenced by the chef’s travels throughout Europe, America, and Asia, so it has quite an interesting and varied menu selection.

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Both the H and I decided to try their recommended pasta dishes–the seafood carbonara, and the spinach and mushroom ravioli.  Both were equally good, but I have to say the carbonara was my favorite of the two :).  There was a spice in the ravioli that I couldn’t quite identify, but that made the flavor very unique and unlike other ravioli’s I’ve tried.  You could totally tell how fresh the pasta was, too, made from scratch in Hill Station’s own kitchen.

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I would definitely love to come back to try some of the other dishes, such as the Cambodian coriander and garlic chicken, as well as the Moroccan-spiced ribs that my cousin-in-law, D, had (he said it was yummers, by the way :)).  We decided to go a bit “light” with dinner that night and didn’t order too much so as to save our tummies for our last course–dessert!

But before I move on to the next restaurant, I have to give special mention to the ambience at Hill Station.  I loved it for its elegant simplicity, for its homey, easy vibe.  I loved the huge windows that surrounded the entire dining area, and the two staircases leading to the second floor.  I actually felt like I was eating in someone’s living room!  Hahaha!  The dimmed lights also made it feel quite romantic, but at the same time, it is conducive for family dining as well :).  Too bad it didn’t have a fireplace.  That would have sealed the deal for me :).

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Hill Station is also right next to Mt. Cloud Bookstore, by the way, another must-visit in Baguio :).

3. Choco-late de Batirol

For dessert, we decided to try another one of Baguio’s classic restaurants–Choco-late de Batirol in Camp John Hay.

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I was surprised to see that it literally looked like a shack in the middle of a forest! Hahaha!  Granted, however, it was hard to miss since it was pretty much the only establishment on the road :).

What I loved about this place was how rustic it looked.  It had so much personality!  Tables were either made out of wood in a local design, or made out of bamboo slats.  Each table had a woven runner, obviously made by the native artisans.  I love how they made use of and are proud of their indigenous accessories and tableware.  It definitely added so much charm and uniqueness to the interiors of the restaurant :).

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Their choco-late was also very good, although similarly runny like the one we had earlier at Cafe by the Ruins.  It made me conclude that Baguio tsokolate probably really has that consistency :).

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4. Ketchup Community

On Day 2 of our Baguio getaway, we did a lot of sightseeing.  We decided to take the little one to see all the places we used to frequent when we were younger.  At around lunch time, we found ourselves at Wright Park, so we decided to try an interesting place just across the street called Ketchup Community.

Ketchup Community is precisely a community of restaurants enclosed within one location.  Each establishment there serves a different type of cuisine such as American, Thai, Filipino, Italian, etc.  If you find yourself without a particular craving, that’s not a problem at Ketchup Community because you are welcome to cross-order from the other restaurants, just as long as 50% of your meal comes from the restaurant where you are sitting.  Cool, right? :)

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That afternoon, we decided to try Canto.  I was sold when I saw how mouth-wateringly yummy their burgers looked…and their ribs, too!  I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had a burger!  Hahaha!  Because the H isn’t particularly fond of eating them, I find myself craving for a bite, every so often.  This was one of them times!  Hahaha!  And thankfully, Canto’s burger was very flavorful and soooo gooood!  It hit the spot!  I have to admit I enjoyed the bun a little too much too :(.  Ayayayay!  With the side of fries that I devoured almost entirely, this meal unfortunately turned into a carb-fest as well.  Tsk, tsk!!!!

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Aside from the burger, I was also attracted to the open seating of Canto, which allowed us to take advantage of the pleasant weather.  Coming from a stormy and foggy first day, the sunny but cool climate we enjoyed that day was precisely the Baguio weather we were looking forward to :).

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5. Mama’s Table by Chef Vicky Tinio-Clemente

I’d been hearing a lot about this private dining experience in Baguio, and I’m glad we were actually able to take part in it during this trip.  My friend M’s mom, Tita L, happens to be a good friend of Chef Vicky, so she arranged for a special 5-course meal for a group of us (we were 26 in all!) at her residence.

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The fog was already quite thick as we made our way up the mountains, and it seemed like we were driving to a very secluded destination.  When we finally arrived at the home of Chef Vicky, it was so dark, save for the light that illuminated her front porch.

It definitely didn’t prepare me for the what greeted us, as we entered the front door…

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What a sight to behold right?  From the grand fireplace, to the high ceilings, from the huge floor to ceiling windows, to the very large, cozy sofas at the center of the room, Chef Vicky’s weekend family residence is one of those places that instantly make you feel at home.  Aside from the beautiful interiors, I love how homey and intimate it felt, despite the size of the room.  I immediately felt so comfortable, and at ease, like I’d been there a million times already.  Chef Vicky’s home provided such a wonderful venue to enjoy amazing food, and equally amazing company! :)

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Unfortunately, my iPhone crashed that same night so pictures of the first part of the meal–the appetizer spread–are gone forever :(.  Huhuhu :(.  I am so bummed because the appetizers were not just good, but were also so prettily presented on the table.  We had a variety of spreads to choose from such as an artichoke dip, kani spread, chili, and a selection of cured meats, crisp breads, and even chicharon!  Everything tasted soooo good!  I actually had to discipline myself just to try a little of each, so I wouldn’t ruin my appetite.  I couldn’t wait for the rest of the evening’s meal :)!

Luckily, though, I was able to take pictures of the four other courses using my camera.  This is what we feasted on that evening :)…

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Everything from the soup to the dessert was cooked to perfection! I kid you not!  The mushroom soup was creamy, and I loved that it was laced with truffle oil.  YUM!!!  The salmon was cooked just right, and was nicely complemented by the roasted squash.  The roast beef was very tender and soft, simple yet satisfying.  I loved the salad with its fresh greens, crunchy nuts, and refreshingly sweet orange slivers.  And to think I’m not really such a salad person.  Hahaha!  Despite the fact that I devoured each and every dish, the meal was so nicely paced that I didn’t feel at all full, and definitely had room for dessert :)! Or does that mean that my stomach has expanded already?  Que Horror! :(

5. Chaya

For our last meal in Baguio, we had lunch at Chaya on Legarda Road.

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Chaya is a charming old house turned Japanese restaurant.  I love the dark wooden walls that are reminiscent of many old homes in Baguio, as well as the quilts that adorn the walls.

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But the star of this restaurant is most definitely the food!

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We were so excited to try it out that we ended up ordering so much–Chirashi, Chicken Teriyaki Salad, Chicken Teriyaki, Salmon Sashimi, Mixed Tempura and Sukiyaki!  To wash it all down, I couldn’t resist ordering their Green Tea shake too!  It was sooooo yummy!

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To say we enjoyed our food is an understatement.  We LOVED it!  The tempura batter was light and crisp, the soup of the sukiyaki was not too sweet and very comforting, the salad had a wonderful, tangy dressing that was quite refreshing, the chicken teriyaki was soft and had a nice glaze to it, and the sushi was fresh and served in huge slices.  What more could we ask for, right?  And the cherry on top was that everything was sooo reasonably priced!

We definitely ended our trip on a high note with Chaya!

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So there you have it, six of Baguio’s best culinary gems :).  Should you find yourself in the City of Pines anytime soon, do take the time to check them out!  I am sure, like us, you will be truly delighted!

Starting Traditions

As I’m writing this post, I smile to myself thinking that my family spent this year’s August holiday pretty much the same way we did last year–a trip to Hong Kong, and a trip to Fun Farm with our close friends.

True to form, it even rained in Fun Farm just like it did a year ago!

Hahaha!

Is this the start of some new traditions for Familia C?

Anyway, sharing with you some pictures from our fun but slightly wet day.

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A and the Carabao

This time around, I got to ride on ChocNut the Carabao, and we went on a tour of the farm.

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As usual, A got to feed the rabbits and the guinea pigs…

A and the Guinea Pig

…with a little help from her friends :).

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She went fishing too (no luck, as usual :)).

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Horseback riding with Dada is always a treat :).

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And when it rains, the covered sandbox is always a welcome refuge :).

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If you haven’t made your way to the Fun Farm, you should definitely go!  It is a wonderful place for families to spend a lazy weekend :).

And who knows, you may even start your own tradition! :)

Hong Kong Highlights Part 3

Ok, guys.  This is the last post in my Hong Kong series :).

We scheduled an 830pm flight out of Hong Kong so we practically had the whole day to explore and shop for last minute pasalubong.  I love that our hotel room came with an option for late check out, so that really enabled us to make the most of our remaining time there :).

First up on our agenda was a semi-late breakfast (Marco Polo has a wonderful buffet selection!), and then a trip to the Peak Tram.  In all the times I’ve visited Hong Kong, I’ve never quite made it to this top tourist destination.

Getting there was pretty easy.  We took the MTR and got off at Central Station, then walked uphill towards the Tram’s Lower Station.  We actually got there just in time as lines were already starting to form (actually, I advise an early start if you plan on riding the tram.  I think we were just lucky that day that the lines were not that long :))

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The trams arrive every 10-12 mins.  After about a 40 minute wait, we were able to get on board!

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It was pretty cool riding this very traditional means of transportation.  I didn’t feel all woozy even though we were climbing up to such an incredible sight, and the views of the harbor were truly breathtaking!  A enjoyed it very much too!

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When we finally got to the peak, we took a couple of minutes to look around and take pictures.  We decided against going up to the observation deck as we felt we would practically be seeing the same thing, just with an unobstructed view.

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If we had more time, I would have loved to go around the mall (apparently there was a Coach outlet there!).  This time, however, we opted to head back down to Kowloon side so we could go back for some last minute purchases, and we could have lunch somewhere closer to our hotel.  We got back just in time to do both. And that pretty much was how we ended our Hong Kong holiday– or so I thought!

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Unfortunately, because of the bad weather in Manila, our 830pm flight was moved to 3am.  When you are traveling with a child, 3am flights are practically impossible!  I almost started to hyperventilate just thinking of waking up early and dragging my sleeping child to the airport.  Such a hassle!

Instead, the hubby and I decided to spend the night in Hong Kong, and to re-book ourselves for a 9am flight going home.  Sounds more reasonable, right?  But expensive too!  Hahaha!  While we were lucky that there was an available room for us at the Marco Polo Gateway, we could no longer get a discounted rate because of the short notice.  At that point, however, I didn’t really care anymore. I just wanted to get settled in, have some dinner, and get some rest!

Having an extra evening in Hong Kong, proved to be a blessing.  First of all, we heard that some flights that departed were diverted to Clark, Pampanga because of the heavy rains in Manila.  If that happened to us, I would probably be freaking out!!!  We also heard that many passengers had difficulty getting cabs that evening because of the floods.  Thank goodness we didn’t have to deal with that!

Instead, we were able to stay another night in a very comfortable room, and had dinner in a nice restaurant–BLT Burger–to celebrate the eve of the little one’s birthday :).  In all the years I lived in New York, I unfortunately never had the chance to try this restaurant out.  Funny that I finally did– in Hong Kong! Hahaha!

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Although the burger was nothing extremely special (we got The Stripper aka a burger without the bun), it was seasoned well, and you could tell the beef was of really good quality :).  And by that time, I was a bit tired of all the cantonese food we had eaten, so this was a welcome break and hit the spot–especially the french fries! :) Hahaha!

This trip to Hong Kong was a bit quick, and I have to admit, it was the first time that I actually felt bitin about our stay.  Hopefully next time, we’ll be able to plan something longer–there is still so much to see and do!

It was a much needed vacay, though, and I’m glad we had the chance to leave Manila even for just a couple of days.  While I honestly cannot say I feel rested and recharged, I think what’s more important is that I feel truly blessed :).

Hong Kong Highlights Part 2

While I was glad (and lucky!) that my family was out of the country during the time typhoon Maring battered Metro Manila, we were actually not spared from rainy weather in Hong Kong either.

On our one and only full day to go around the city, it showered for most of the morning, and into the early afternoon!  Boo :(.  But eventually, the sun started to peek through the clouds, and we were off to explore the Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery at Diamond Hill.

I love that Hong Kong is such an easy place to teach children about travel :). Because it is convenient to commute and go around via MTR, I took the opportunity to make our journey a ‘teachable moment’ for A.

A at the MRT

She learned about maps, and enjoyed pressing the screen to choose our destination…

A inserting the MRT card

…and she also loved inserting the MRT card to enter and exit the station :).

Finally, we arrived at Nan Lian!

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A at Nan Lian

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A in front of the Pagoda

For those of you who have not been here, it is a must-see that I highly recommend :).  It’s kind of like a hidden patch of green, amidst the tall buildings and concrete jungle that is Hong Kong.  It’s a wonderful place to stroll through and enjoy at a leisurely, relaxed pace.

The highlight of the park is this golden pagoda, built in the Tang Dynasty style. The striking orange bridge that leads to it makes it even more of a sight to behold!  Very picture worthy!

I also read that each element in the 3.5 hectare garden (as in every rock, plant, hill, body of water, tree, etc.) was meticulously placed according to very specific rules and methods.  Talk about discipline!  But the results are a beautifully manicured space for the public to enjoy :).  And we certainly did!

Right next to Nan Lian is the Chi Lin Nunnery.

A at Chi Lin

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The nunnery is basically a huge complex filled with temple halls, Buddhist relics and lotus ponds.  The vibe here is very serene.  Some people were there to pay tribute to Buddha, while others simply soaked up the beautiful, elegant wooden architecture.  It was lovely, and I can say my family truly appreciated every aspect of this place.  It was unfortunate, though, that because Chi Lin is a place of worship, photos were not allowed inside the temples :(.

As dusk started to settle, we left Chi Lin and headed back for Tsim Sha Tsui. After a quick, early dinner at Ippudo (this is a MUST for the H), we headed for the Victoria Harbor waterfront, to catch the Lights and Sounds show by the promenade.

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Since we were also already in the area, we decided to cap off our day with a walk along the Avenue of Stars.  It’s basically similar to a Hollywood Walk of Fame with statues of various movie paraphernalia and sculptures of famous Chinese actors on display.  Along the path one can also find hand prints and autographs of stars set in cement.

A in front of the Movie Reel

A in front of the Movie Clicker

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A on Bear

A with Bruce Lee

While we didn’t really know or recognize many of the stars that were honored along the Avenue, we did enjoy the stroll and the view of the Hong Kong side skyline :).  So many beautifully designed buildings!!! :)

So that’s basically what we did during our second day in Hong Kong.  I love that everything we did was new, and not part of our usual Hong Kong itinerary :).  In my next and last post, I’ll talk about what we did on our last day.

Wait for it! :)

Hong Kong Highlights Part 1

August is always a good month to escape Manila.  There are a lot of long weekends to choose from, and it also happens to be my daughter’s birth month :).

Last year, we took the little one to Hong Kong.  We took her to Disneyland, went food-tripping, and did some shopping.  This time around, we decided to make the trip a bit more educational, opting to sightsee, rather than to spend our time at a theme park.  Ofcourse shopping and eating are always part of the itinerary :).

A goes to Hong Kong

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We decided to take an 8am flight out of the Philippines, and arrived in Hong Kong at 930 in the morning.  Everything went smoothly from the moment we left our condo, to the minute we arrived at our hotel for the next 3 days, the Marco Polo Gateway.

It’s been years since I last stayed at this hotel, and I was glad to see that everything was nice, modern, and newly refurbished!

I also super love the location!  Because it is on Canton Street, not only is it just across Silvercord Mall (home to Din Tai Fung, Ippudo, and near H & M), but it is also conveniently connected to the Harbor City Mall!  All the shops are practically a stone’s throw away!

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When we got to our room, I was happy to discover that it was a nice size, perfect for our little family.  I was thrilled that the bathroom looked so clean and brand new!  It totally passed my standards with flying colors!  Hahaha!

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After we unpacked and had gotten settled in, lunch was in order.  We decided to give our friends at Din Tai Fung a visit, especially since I was craving for some soup dumplings.  They never fail to hit the hungry spot!  Hahaha!  I also needed to fuel up for the whole afternoon shopping session that was to come after our sumptuous lunch :).

A at Din Tai Fung

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A feeds herself

The Fam Bam

Since I’d rather not bore you with shopping details (I was on my best behavior! *Read : I didn’t really buy much :)), let me end this post by sharing about the restaurant where we decided to have dinner.

By this time we were exhausted and chose to eat close to home.  Prior to our trip, I had been researching the blogosphere for some recommendations, and this one came from Jin of Jin Loves to Eat.  We decided to eat at Canton Deli, located at the 3rd floor of the Harbor City Mall.

They serve very traditional cantonese dishes, and since we were in Hong Kong, we thought, “What the heck, might as well eat authentic Chinese food!”.  Hahaha!

While the ambience was nothing to rave about (although they did have these cute bird cages suspended from the ceiling), the food was quite good!  Since it was a bit late, the hubby and I decided to just share some soup and beef tenderloin cooked chinese style.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty everything was :).  The soup had a good amount of crab chunks and corn.  The beef had slices that were thicker than I was used to, but it was very soft and flavorful that I did not mind at all!  Definitely, we enjoyed our meal very much :).  I would have wanted to try other stuff on the menu, but because it was already very late, we decided against it :).  Hahahaha!

If you ever find yourself in the Marco Polo/Harbor City Mall vicinity, do give Canton Deli a try :).  While it’s not the type of restaurant that’ll blow you away, the food tastes pretty good, and it is very conveniently located as well :).  We walked away that evening with pretty happy tummies! :)

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Anyway, since this is already pretty lengthy, in my next post, I’ll talk naman about the places we visited, and the sights we saw in Hong Kong.

Hope you guys will stay tuned! :)

Foodie Friday : VASK

If there’s anything I look forward to, it’s a mid-week night out to make the rest of the work week feel like it’s going by faster.  Hahaha!  All the more if the night out is spent in the company of close family and friends, amidst good food and a cocktail or two :).

A couple of weeks ago (yes, this post is that late.  Hahaha!), that is precisely what my cousins,  the H and I, and my good friend M did.  We finally tried VASK, one of the newest restaurants to hit the BGC food scene.

To describe VASK in a word, I would say it was unexpected.

I arrived, for example, thinking that we would be eating in a very chichi restaurant, but was surprised at how casual the dining area actually looked.  Though the lights were dim, and the furniture modern and sleek, I could not help but feel like I was in a slightly upscale cafeteria.  I think the Mickey Mouse-esque design of the ceiling had a lot to do with it.  Hahaha!

I have to give props to VASK for the Darth Vader statue at the foyer, though.  Again, unexpected, but a nice kind of unexpected :).

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That night’s crowd was also a mixture of various types of people–expats, locals, a much older older crowd and some thirty-somethings.  It was nice to know, however, we were neither the oldest nor the youngest guests of the evening :).

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On to the food…

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VASK had two different menus–a traditional tapas menu, and a selection of new basque cuisine dishes.  We decided to get a selection from both.

For appetizers, we started with the Huevos, Hongos y Cebollas (62degrees sous vide egg, porcini mushrooms, garlic, breadcrumbs, port wine sauce, onion foam), the Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus, potato, olive oil, paprika), and the Salpicon de Marisco (prawns, octopus, mussels, olive oil, red wine vinegar, onions, marinated red bell peppers).

All were really good but the Huevos was the one that surprised and impressed us the most.  When it arrived at our table, it pretty much just looked like foam. Hahaha! :)  But when each one of us had a chance to try it, we all agreed that it was the best starter of the night :).  The mix of the ingredients wonderfully worked together, producing the most flavorful and delicious dish.  Proof that looks can definitely be deceiving!  Hahahaha :).

For the main course, we had the house specialty Txuleton (US Angus Prime Ribeye, 28-day Dry Aged), the Scallops and Black Ink Risotto, and the Manitas y Callos a la Bizkaina con Chorizo (pork knuckles, tripe, chorizo, onion, dried pepper).

While the Callos was okay, both the Txuleton and Scallops were quite yummy!  The Txuleton was cooked to medium doneness, and had a nice, crispy seared exterior.  The meat was also very soft and tender.  The serving was quite big though–it was enough for everyone in our party of seven to have a couple of bites each :)!

Scallops and risotto are a favorite combination of mine, and I’m glad that VASK’s version did not disappoint.  In fact, our table was pleased with the size and “fatness” of the scallops.  Obviously, this restaurant makes use of the choicest and freshest ingredients :).

For dessert, we decided to try everything on the menu, and split it 7 ways.  Hahaha!  We had the Arroz con Leche (rice, cinnamon, milk, caramel ice cream), Leche Frita (milk, cinnamon, chocolate rum ice cream), Torrija (brioche, milk, anise ice cream), and the Hot Chocolate Cake.  According to our server, though, the Torrija and Chocolate Cake are the bestsellers.

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My picks?  Hands down, the Chocolate Cake and Leche Frita!  Sadly, the Arroz con Leche was underwhelming, while the anise in the Torrija was too strong :(.

Speaking of strong, the cousins and I enjoyed VASK’s version of sangria a little too much that night.  Hahaha!  While it tasted a lot like juice, it sure packed a punch!  On my second glass, I was already feeling a slight, but very nice buzz :).

And now for the verdict…

Despite the mixed feelings I have over its ambience (and you know how much this matters to me :)), I enjoyed our dining experience at VASK.  I highly recommend all the appetizers we ordered, especially the Huevos, Hongos y Cebollas.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed :).

For the mains, if you are in a group, try the Txuleton and pair it with a couple of orders of the Scallops.  You are sure to enjoy a meal that is not only well-cooked, but also of high quality :).

Lastly, if you’re looking for a traditional spanish cocktail to enjoy your meal with, VASK’s sangria is yummy and buzz-worthy (pun intended).  Hahaha!

Cronuts

So while the bulilits were having fun at KidzVille, the grown ups decided to crash at Wildflour and have some cronuts!

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Finally, I got to taste what all the hype is about!

To be honest, I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would :).  I’m not really a fan of croissants, so I was never really interested to try out or line up for this particular hybrid. But since the SIL ordered a couple, I eagerly dug in, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was yummier than I expected :).

Knowing that it is supposed to be a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, I was a bit thrown off that the cronut was chewy, rather than light and flaky.  But that’s a good thing :). Although I prefer my pastries to be more dense, soft and moist, I was actually relieved with the cronut’s consistency because I actually dislike the flakiness of croissants.  It doesn’t give me much to sink my teeth into. Hahaha!  It can also get a bit messy, which is usually a turn off for me.  So I’m glad that despite its flaky layers, the cronut was dense enough to give me the feeling that I was actually biting into something more than air :).  Plus points! :)

Another thing I liked about the cronut was that is was also not that sweet, considering the amount of sugar and glaze it came with! Hahaha!  The cream inside helped to balance the sweetness, and provided a different texture as well. Again, while I’m not a fan of bavarian cream doughnuts, the cream in the cronuts, I thought, was well incorporated, and enhanced its taste, and the overall experience :).

But even after all the pluses I mentioned above, and after trying out different flavors (chocolate, dulce de leche, berry, and I forgot the other one), I still think I prefer a good old fashioned donut to a cronut any day.  I’m loving the innovation, though, and I wonder what the next one will be :).  A declair (donut + eclair)? A crupcake (croissant + cupcake)?  The possibilities are endless!  Hahaha!

Actually, while I enjoyed having the cronut for merienda, I think I enjoyed the ambience and decor of Wildflour Podium even more!  Hahaha!  Despite the tight space, I loved the design elements and its overall look :).  Special mention goes to the machucca tiles by the register area.  Soooo pretty, that I just had to take a requisite foot photo :).

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Have a happy hump day, everyone! :)

WILDFLOUR CAFE + BAKERY is located at the Ground Floor of The Podium Mall, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.  Telephone Number :  +632 571 8588