Monday, August 29, 2016


I haven't written about our other dog, the youngest of the three we currently have. Boots was given to us by a friend and was actually named by her daughter. The dog's fur around his four feet gave the impression that he was wearing boots and that somehow made it easier for him to be named thus. Boots is half Maltese and half Poodle - a maltipoo and is quite an energetic dog for a small breed. We thought he was well matched with our Mocha, a very active Golden Retriever.

Another happy dog

Boots has only recently recovered from what was diagnosed as some kind of fungal infection he got from birds. There are a lot of birds coming to our garden and the vet told us that perhaps something in the bird poop was what infected boots so that he had what appeared as a severe case of dandruff. His kind turned out to be relatively high maintenance and it was the first time we had a dog that required a lot of grooming. Even our Mocha didn't require much in terms of shampooing and combing. Nevertheless, he's a loved member of our home and our daughter loves playing with him especially running around our garden.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Breakfast Plate, Maginhawa Street

We tried one of the restaurants in a new building along Maginhawa Street in UP Village. The Breakfast Plate is located at the 2nd Floor of a new building along Maginhawa near the junction with Magiting Street. The serve all-day breakfast including Filipino favorites like longganisa, tocino, tapa and sardines with 2 eggs and pickles.

Entrance to the restaurant at the 2nd Floor
The kitchen is at the back
Decors on a floating shelf and wall clock
Sardines in tomato sauce and scrambled eggs
Pork tocino and sunny side up eggs
Homemade garlic longganisa and sunny side up eggs
Vigan longganisa and scrambled eggs
We thought the food we ordered was okay. It was not extraordinary but definitely better than ordinary in terms of the popular silog combinations Filipinos have for breakfast. Service was okay and the prices were on the budget. No wonder we found many students eating at the restaurant. I'm just not sure though if they would be popular for dinners (silogs for breakfast and lunch are okay). The place is well-lighted and clean. I thought it was conducive for breakfast or lunch meetings or perhaps for students to hang out at (tambay).

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Chocolate review: Ghana Extra Cacao Mild

I remember featuring Ghana chocolates in one or more of my past articles. Ghana chocolates are made by Lotte, which is a Korean company. It is no wonder that I got these chocolates at a Korean store in Alabang at a commercial center across from my hotel. I bought a few bars of these in Japan before so I was curious if this version tasted the same.

This is the Korean version of Lotte's Ghana Extra Cacao Mild
I couldn't quite determine from the text at the back of the package how many % cacao was in this chocolate.
I believe the chocolate tasted the same as the previous ones we've enjoyed that we purchased in Japan and Singapore. From this, I would also dare to say that the chocolate basically compares with Meiji Black, which contains something like 35% cacao. The 70g bar was priced at 30 PHP so it was an inexpensive treat. I would likely get these chocolates again if the opportunity presents itself. Meiji Black is now very much available in most supermarkets when it wasn't a few years ago. So why can't these Ghana chocolates be more available, too?

Friday, August 19, 2016


Have you ever wondered what the term "siyam-siyam" (roughly translating to 9 and 9 or one of its permutations) stood for? Elders often say "aabutan ka or aabutin ka ng siyam-siyam" when referring to something taking a long time to happen. "Siyam-siyam" actually refers to what is figuratively (and now often in reality) nine days straight of rainy weather. This is not your drizzle type of rains but the monsoon or Habagat type of downpours that usually translate to flooding.

We had strong rains everyday for about 2 weeks and this definitely qualified as "siyam-siyam".

My father was saying that the rains the past days fell into the category of "siyam-siyam." This is coming from a man who has had a lot of experience of heavy rains and his more than fair share of sacrifices and hardships related to weather. Tatay, after all, is a veteran of typhoons and floods and my parents' home is in a flood prone area despite a lot of improvements in the drainage in the past decades. We used to live in a house in an area that's become flood prone since Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. Nowadays, those floods and many sleepless nights during heavy rains are now memories, some of which we recall with humor. We are thankful for the blessings of our home and that it keeps us safe during rainy days, especially during times of "siyam-siyam."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On wine and chocolates

I mentioned in previous articles that I liked to browse the wines and chocolates at shops like Santis. I discovered another shop on an overnight in Alabang where I attended a conference. I have heard and read about Bacchus but haven't been to their shop until last July. And so seeing their shop nearby our hotel led me to some wine tasting that concluded in my purchasing 3 bottles of wine and several bars of chocolates.

A bag full of wines and chocolates from my Bacchus 'expedition'
This was the featured wine that day at the shop and I consumed more than enough to decide to get a bottle for consumption at home.
I will write about the wines and the chocolates soon as each deserve a separate post. We recently opened the bottle of Mantellasi in the preceding photo and it was as good as I remember when I sampled a couple of glasses at the wine shop. The write-up for this wine will probably go first among the others.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rainy days are here again

It's been raining everyday for about two weeks now. The past few days were really bad with heavy rains, torrential at some times, everywhere. The downpours have caused floods in many places and while flash floods along major roads have usually caused traffic congestion, the floods in large areas especially residential lands are the most undesirable kind. Obviously, the continuous rains made it cooler (masarap matulog) but that comfort can only be enjoyed if you have a roof on top of you and if the water isn't rising from under you.

This is what very low to zero visibility looks like. Heavy rains over the mountains of Antipolo obscuring homes from view.
Driving under very low visibility conditions is quite dangerous. Roads are slippery or flooded. Mountain roads can be foggy. And
I still take a look at the Marikina River's water level everytime I pass the bridge along Marcos Highway. I have learned to correlate what I observed with my experiences of floods in Cainta and Antipolo, and this is from almost 3 decades that I am writing about. And so I can tell whether it is already flooded in areas I am familiar with and how deep they are relative to each place.

This is the first wet season that we don't have to worry about our old home since we sold that house last summer. Based on the rains the last few days and especially from yesterday to today I'm quite sure the streets in the previous subdivision we resided in are flooded. I just hope the floods won't enter homes. Of course, we disclosed to potential buyers including the eventual one that extreme rains can lead to flooding there and we told them about the Ondoy experience as well as the "Habagat" one in 2012. Last year was a good year as they only experienced floods on the streets. We hope it will be the same this year and perhaps there will be improvements in the future.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Paalam Kuya Andy!

I first met Kuya Andy at his wedding with my first cousin Ate Judy. That was at the St. Vincent De Paul Church in Manila, which was the church of Adamson University where my cousins from my father's side graduated. The Kuya Andy I knew was a cheerful, easygoing fellow who easily made friends and apparently could charm his way through problems or obstacles that came his way. 

He was quick to warm up to his new relatives from his marriage to my cousin and we all enjoyed his company and his humor. I remember them always visiting my parents' home during Christmas Day as we had our annual family gathering in Cainta, usually with my close relatives from my mothers' side and my cousins families from my father's side. We enjoyed good food and drink, exchanged many amusing stories and experiences often with laughter, and played chess. He was a good player and we often joked about us pulling back and often ending up drawing our matches much to the disappointment of our cousins and uncles who couldn't figure who was the better player between us. 

He was also a strong drinker though not as strong as one cousin and another cousin-in-law and my uncle who were seamen. He always knew his limit and Tatay would just give him a bottle of good whiskey as pabaon. Always respectful, he always feigned shyness while accepting the bottle. Though I recall these as happy memories, I cannot but think now that perhaps he had more than enough alcohol to drink and that contributed to his illness.

Kuya Andy was only 46 when he passed away early morning of last Saturday, August 6. It was a relatively long 4-year fight with kidney disease that required him to go on dialysis until finally his body could no longer take the complications from his treatments. He was laid to rest today in his hometown of Arayat, Pampanga beside his relatives who passed before him. 

Paalam Kuya Andy! Salamat sa maliligayang mga pagsasama noon na ngayon ay mga alaalang aming sasariwain. Kung pwede lang sana tayong tumagay ng isa pa bago ang iyong paglisan...Huwag mong alalahanin ang iyong naiwang pamilya. Kami na ang bahala sa kanila. Sumalangit nawa ang iyong kaluluwa at manahan kasama ang Maykapal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chocolate review: Canonica Swiss Milk Chocolate

The Clairvoyant brought home an interesting chocolate given to her by a guest at their office. It was a milk chocolate so she didn't have much except a good piece to enjoy after dinner.

Canonica Swiss milk chocolate came in a simple packaging. You can see the chocolate and the peanuts sprinkled on one face of the chocolate.
The back contains information on the chocolate but in French. There is, of course, the very obvious Swiss themed ribbon around the chocolate.
A close-up of the details including the maker's website
The wife and I agreed it was good milk chocolate and the nuts made it interesting and more enjoyable. I would say that it was definitely on the sweet side and we already expected that. It is Swiss chocolate and they have an impressive selection from the website so I assume this was perhaps one of their basic variants or something like a sampler. I look forward to tasting their more premium products should I encounter the chocolate in future travels.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Vaccinate your children!

I see that there are still many who believe in a report that was published and circulated in social media about the alleged links between vaccination and autism. This claim has been debunked many times and yet it persists. Here is one of the articles that clearly explain the circumstances behind the falsehood that was spread and has had a big impact on health particularly for children who have not had their vaccines and who now place other children at risk of disease and are at risk themselves. 

16 years ago, a doctor published a study. It was completely made up, and it made us all sicker.

Here is a graphic from the article that should also be very clear in terms of facts rather than unsubstantiated claims:


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gelatissimo ice cream

I thought I had already posted about our indulgence one time after a hearty lunch of Japanese food. We passed by Gelatissimo ice cream on our way to our parking space and decided we had time for dessert. Gelatissimo has a wide variety of flavors to choose from and so far I had never been disappointed with my selections. While other customers were in ice cream tasting mode (i.e., tasting different flavors before choosing one or two to purchase), we quickly made our choices.

Macadamia and coffee ice cream for me, and hazelnut and pistachio for the wife.

Two scoops of really good ice cream took us some time to finish. It seemed a travesty to eat the ice cream quickly when we were not in a hurry and enjoyed our dessert over conversation. I was like we were out on a date before we got married!