Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Oliva Bistro Cafe - Visayas Avenue

The first time I saw Oliva was while driving along Marcos Highway. They have a branch at the compound shared by Barrio Fiesta and Slimmer's World between Ligaya and Dela Paz in Pasig City. While curious about the "bistro cafe" and already theorizing about what they had to offer (I thought they were about anything cooked with olive oil.), I have yet to find the opportunity to check it out.

On our regular lunch out, a friend suggested a place along Visayas Avenue that he wanted to try out. This turned out to be what looked like a recently opened branch of Oliva. They had a good menu with a lot of items to choose from. No, they didn't use olive oil for all the food they cooked but we didn't ask what Oliva stood for. Maybe the owner's name?

Sauces and spices for the hainanese chicken ordered by my friend
Grilled pork chops
Toyo (soy sauce), kalamansi (citrus), siling labuyo (local hot chili peppers) and atsara (pickled papaya)
Tandoori chicken on sticks
The food is more than okay and the service was good. They looked like they had only recently opened but it seemed to us that they already had a few regulars judging by the greetings some customers exchanged with the staff. This is definitely a place we will come back to in the near future if only to try out other items on their menu. It's just a bit out of the way for our regular lunches so we can only go here when we have more than the 1 hour break we have on weekdays.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Simple breakfasts at hotels

My colleagues and I stayed at one of the best hotels in Tagaytay for a couple of nights during a workshop we participated in. At the hotel, we were delighted to have a not so usual breakfast of what was typically found on Filipino tables. I consider pandesal (literally salt bread) and tsamporado (chocolate porridge) as part of my list of comfort food and partnered with hot chocolate from tableya (cacao tablets) is just perfect on a cool morning in this resort city.

Pandesal and toast to go with hot chocolate
Champorado (chocolate porridge) and orange juice
I really enjoyed these items for breakfast as they are the typical agahan in the Philippines. Buffet breakfasts are good but most are practically western and some items in other hotels can be more appropriate for lunch (adobo? lumpia? pancit?). I would prefer to have kakanin like suman instead. Of course, if I opt for western food, then I would like to have my bircher muesli in the selection.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Picking in Tagaytay

The Clairvoyant spotted a house along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road that sold antiques and other curiosities. We felt like we were in an episode of 'The Pickers' when we pulled along the road in front of the house. A woman emerged from the house to meet us and welcome us, inviting us to take a look at what they have. And they have a lot of stuff as can be seen upon entry to the house.

What could have been the sala or receiving area for guests is full of various items. The place was literally overflowing with stuff collected by the owners of the house from all over.
There were lots of Japanese dolls that seem to have been collected from many sources. I found that strange considering not so many people from the Philippines and particularly the surrounding areas of the house have gone to Japan. I suspect many dolls were brought from the second hand or 'surplus' shops that sold items from Japan.
What was supposed to be a kitchen was also full of stuff like candle holders, drinking glasses, framed old postcards, figurines, etc.
More items such as antique furniture like the chairs and tables in the photo are found in the rooms of the house. We notices a lot of old windows, probably recovered from old homes that were being demolished, and framed prints and paintings.
There were furniture sets and various framed items including what looked like souvenirs from trips in other ASEAN countries like Indonesia and Thailand. The wooden furniture were interesting because these were likely made from old hardwood and made by artisans now gone. You can probably have these restored to their old glory.
In addition to frames, there were also some interesting pieces like the dividers in this photo. The prints on the screens show images of what appears as royalty from China, Thailand or one of its neighbor countries, judging from what they are wearing.
Another looks at the walls show prints or reproductions of familiar paintings or photos. We suspect that while these prints or reproductions might have a little value due to their age, the frames would probably be the ones that are of significance partly because most appear to be of old wood.
There is what appears to be a bodega at the back of the house that is also full of various items including antique furniture, and furnishings and accessories.
Converted into a small table is this wooden slab that seems to be part of a desk dating back to when the Philippines was under the United States (Commonwealth period). The carving is obviously the seal of the US government. 
This is not your typical chair but actually an antique toilet. The pot is visible  through the hole in the seat.
I thought the prices indicated in most of the stuff were low especially with the antique furniture. Some likely had historical value so it would be worthwhile for someone on the hunt for authentic and valuable antiques to come with someone who knows these stuff. 

We picked up a couple of stuff, which I will feature in another post. We had ideas about some of the furniture we saw, which we thought could probably be restored. We know some people who could do that for us (we have a furniture suki in Taguig).

Friday, April 17, 2015

Puerto Princesa Beachscapes - Part 1

There is something about landscapes and seascapes that I have always enjoyed looking at. Whether these are photos, prints or paintings, I have always preferred them over other subjects. Perhaps it is because there are just so much variety with landscapes and seascapes? My recent trip to Palawan allowed me to marvel at more impressive sights from our beachfront hotel room. Here are a few photos among the many I took using either my BlackBerry phone or Ixus camera. All the photos below are from the BlackBerry.

Three mangrove trees make their stand across from the hotel
More mangroves in the surrounding areas
The view of the beach from our room

More photos of the beach in future posts!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Palawan sunrise

I was in Palawan for a few days and our room had one of the best views of sunrises. Our hotel faced the east and had an unimpeded view of the Sulu Sea. It was perfect for catching the sunrise every morning. I am a morning person and an early riser so I made sure I got a few good shots of the sunrise after our first night in Puerto Princesa. I chose three to share in this post. All these were taken using a BlackBerry Bold camera.

5:35 AM
5:38 AM
5:58 AM
Next up: Beachscapes

Monday, April 13, 2015

Break before burnout

It is always nice to have a change in environment. It helps keep burnout in check. It's already mid-April and usually this time of year I am already on vacation as the second semester at university concludes late March or late April. Fortunately, there are opportunities for some change in pace. I will just share a few photos from where I am "working" for a few days and let the photos speak for themselves. All bets are off whether I am going to be able to work or just type away on my blogs or social media.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Alay basura

The recent Alay Lakad during Good Friday's eve left a lot of garbage as people continued to just throw their waste along the roadsides if not directly on the road itself. I took some photos of the garbage that was the aftermath of the Alay Lakad. One wonders if their alay (offering) to God was their garbage. I am sure that Nature will get back at this people one way or another. For one, the annual floods in Cainta, Taytay, Antipolo, Pasig and other Rizal and Metro Manila towns are due in large part to a lot of waste going to the waterways. The garbage generated by this year's Alay Lakad to Antipolo would probably constrict drainage.

Garbage, mainly plastics, that are remnants from participants of the annual Alay Lakad on the night of Maundy Thursday.
Garbage fills the roadside along Ortigas Extension


A day at the market

My brother-in-law and his wife are visiting after so many years in Canada and they missed a lot of the food they ate as they grew up here. Among the things we made sure of is to have healthy options for our meals so our refrigerator and pantry is stocked with fruits, vegetables, sea food, poultry and meat that will allow us to cook up good food for the balikbayans.

We decided to go to the market last Saturday with my bayaw for us to get food for our Easter Sunday lunch. The new Antipolo Public Market is a good place to get fresh food and we already have our suki for various stuff we get at the market. There's ample parking (basement and covered from the harsh summer sun) and the market is as clean as it can get given the "wet" nature of the market.

The Clairvoyant selecting lettuce and other greens for our salad - we also get our asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables from our suki at the market.
Bounty of the land -fresh vegetables, fruits and root crops.
You can't really get thirsty at the market and the coconut stands serve up coconut water (buko juice) straight from the shell. They are also fair as they will open another coconut if there is not enough water inside.
The water is transferred to a plastic bag and then the white meat of the coconut is "shaved" and mixed into the water. So in addition to the water, you get to eat the soft or sometime crunchy (if its already niyog and no longer buko) meat.
It was Black Saturday but the market was already full of people and vendors of meat products were happy that people were again buying beef and pork. People tend to reduce meat consumption in favor of seafood and poultry for their viands during Lent. I wanted to get a photo of our sukis' stands from where we get our tuna, tanguige, prawns and shrimps (suaje) but my fish monger wasn't there and our prawn/shrimp suki was already out of prawns and shrimps! But there will be a next time so the photos can wait.

I forgot to take a photo of our suki for dried fish. We now have a good source for our danggit, dulong, squid, daing and other dried seafood that we usually enjoy for breakfasts. Our dried fish are not at all salty so they are enjoyable to eat (of course in moderation!).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Selfie Iglesia

I couldn't help but notice a lot of selfie and group photos posted on social media with churches in the background. The proliferation of photos of people going on Visita Iglesia (visits to seven churches) during this Lenten Season is intensified by many having smartphones with capabilities to post photo immediately. I should say that many are tasteful photos and are keepers for future flashbacks. These are the stuff of the photo albums of "yesteryears." 

However, there are those that are obviously more "pasyal" or "lakwatsa" than pilgrimage or "panata." These are people who go around simply because Visita Iglesia is the "in" thing this time of year and they want to be part of the action. Unfortunately, that action only includes the photo ops and not the prayers or reflections or contemplations that should be the core or most essential aspect of Visita Iglesia. Indeed, times have changed and have changed a lot. Hopefully, such erosion of values will not affect all, and we can still preserve the good things about this and other traditions. There should be efforts to keep such important parts of our heritage.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

All roads lead to Antipolo - Alay Lakad routes and traffic schemes

I'm reposting here an article I wrote in another blog that I maintain. I thought it appropriate for the season and the Holy Week.

The Rizal Provincial Government and the Antipolo City Government recently posted traffic rerouting schemes on their Facebook pages. Lalawigan ng Rizal was the first to post schemes that affect traffic in at least 3 major local government jurisdictions – Antipolo, Cainta and Taytay. The schemes affect the two major corridors that basically lead to Antipolo’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (or Antipolo Cathedral to many) – the Ortigas Avenue corridor and the Marcos Highway-Sumulong Highway corridor. There are many major and minor routes connecting to these corridors and are clearly seen in the maps.

Within Antipolo, there are also re-routing schemes, which the Antipolo City Government posted along with a “clearer” re-posting of the maps from the Rizal FB page. The Antipolo FB page includes information/maps on the rerouting within the city center. These schemes will affect traffic circulation including public transport routes. Critical would be the permanent and temporary terminals and parking areas set-up around the city that should be able to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that are also expected to be used by people who won’t be walking or cycling.

What the maps basically say is that from 4:00 PM today, Maundy Thursday, to 6:00 AM tomorrow, Good Friday, the stretch from Cainta Junction to the Shrine will be closed to traffic. This is to allow the hundreds of thousands expected to make the trek to Antipolo to have the road for themselves. What the maps don’t say is that motorcycles and tricycles would likely be allowed, too. I can understand that motorcycles could easily squeeze into the throngs of people but then allowing tricycles to operate among the walkers and bikers would be risky given their drivers’ behavior. Add to this that they would be making a killing out of charging opportunistic fares.

Technically, the rerouting schemes don’t appear to be as well thought of as can be expected from the LGUs. Baka ito lang nakayanan ng staff o ng consultants nila, and surrender na agad ang Rizal and Antipolo with regards to the coming up with more options for people to travel to the Antipolo Shrine? Not all people can walk or cycle but are willing to and could take public transport for their pilgrimage. The maps themselves are a bit crude and the Province of Rizal and City of Antipolo could have done much better maps given the resources of these LGUs. There are open source tools now available as well as your basic software like PowerPoint or Photoshop (even Word!) that can be used to render good quality images to guide people making the Alay Lakad. This is a regular event and though it happens once a year then perhaps the LGUs could have better plans especially to transport people who cannot make the walk to Antipolo. The objective after all is to convey the masses to and from the shrine safely and efficiently – something a mass transport system can do whether via Marcos/Sumulong or Ortigas corridors.

One reminder to all doing the Alay Lakad: keep your garbage to yourselves if you cannot find a proper waste bin. Do not dispose of your waste along the route and make a dumpsite out of Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway or whatever roads you are taking! Kasalanan din po ang irresponsableng pagtatapon ng basura. While you might be forgiven for these “sins” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which many will likely take at the Cathedral), nature will have a way of getting back at you for your environmental travesty.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hanamaruken Ramen

I start April with another feature on Japanese food. Our lunch group at the office recently went to the Trinoma mall to get some supplies at a bookstore. Of course, since we were going there, we decided to time our trip so we could have lunch there. We wanted to eat some Japanese food and so checked the directory of the mall. We found Hanamaruken located at an upper floor of the mall. The restaurant specializes in ramen, particularly what they claim as authentic Osaka-style ramen.

Place mat with the familiar classic theme
Salary Man Ramen
Chasyu Ramen
Happiness Rice Bowl
Eating at Hanamaruken is certainly a pleasant experience. We enjoyed our ramen and think the serving's just right for a reasonably hungry person. The Happiness Rice Bowl is flavorful according to the one who ordered it. I'm not sure if it tastes like authentic Osaka ramen as I have not been to Osaka recently (I was there and tried their ramen in 1997, which is 18 years ago.). However, I would recommend Hanamaruken among the many ramen places you'd find around Metro Manila for lunch or dinner.