Monday, December 11, 2006

Mau Marcelo

Congratulations to our first Philippine Idol: Mau Marcelo from Lucena City!!! This is a cartoon of her that first came out in the Inquirer.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gilarmi Hotel

View of the other rooms at Gilarmi

My Tita Luday and her daughters stayed at Gilarmi because it was the only one I could find that would meet their requirements:
1) Affordable --P2200 per night for 3 people (includes buffet breakfast)
2) Near the malls (no need to take a jeep or taxi)
3) a kitchenette (in case they feel like cooking)
4) Swimming pool (Jasmine's request)

The pool

Other places like La Perla, BSA Mansion and City Garden were considered but price and location considerations prevailed. Also there were good reviews on

Living room

The bedroom

Well, here's the lowdown on Gilarmi. If you want a place that's affordable and spacious, this is for you.The 3 person room has a receiving area/living room, a bed area, a narrow kitchenette complete with ref and cooking utensils. There's a narrow space for storing your luggage, a small but clean toilet and a verandah facing the Glorietta mall. However,the place is rather old. It is evident in the furniture and especially the tv. Most everything needs a new paint job. There's a musty smell to the sofa and the aircon can get noisy. But the staff are pleasant and accommodating. My aunt later moved to a 1-bedroom when my cousins flew back to Canada. This room looked better maintained but the bed looked rather short.

The kitchenette

The toilet and shower area

Monday, October 30, 2006


One of the best moments I spent with Tita Luday this year was when I tagged along her reunion with her Canada World Youth friends whom she hadn't seen in 30 years! Not only did I hear about Tita Luday and Oncle Michel's movie-worthy love story, I also got to eat at the Dampa.

Roughly translated as a "small place", the Dampa is a seafood market and a group of restaurants in one place. You go to the seafood market and choose the food you want, pay for them, then choose a restaurant that would cook the food according to your instructions. This is similar to what anton of anton blogs shared recently.

However, the Dampa in Ortigas had better food. The sinigang was delicious and so were the other dishes. They also had a stage where I suppose a live band could play but on that weeknight, they simply projected a video of a Beyonce concert on a screen. I enjoyed the experience so much that our family just had to experience it first-hand.

We went to the Original Dampa in Paranaque because it was nearer to our place. We first went to the market and got live crabs, and other shellfish. Total bill came to P700+. We then went to Aling Tonya's resto because this was the resto Tita Luday and I ate at in Ortigas. The Sucat Dampa is smaller and simpler in terms of design but I surmise that this is because the place was originally a no-frills market and carinderia where poor folks could come to have fresh seafood. The concept took off and evolved into airconditioned restaurants which was eventually copied in other places.

Let me start off by saying the food was delicious. There really is nothing better than fresh seafood!

We had a huge bowl of halaan soup with ginger and chili leaves...

Emote na emote! Here's Twinx capturing what no words can say about hot soup on a rainy evening...

We also had shrimps and scallops cooked with butter and garlic...And of course, huge steamed crabs like what we had in Silangang Nayon. The crabmeat had a sweet, succulent flavor that still makes my mouth water.The total bill for having the food cooked + rice and soda cost us P500. Very affordable! This is an experience we are definitely including in our "Next time you're in the Philippines" plan for our balikbayan relatives!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

more pix from oct 2006

can i just say i HATE typhoon Milenyo?!?! almost a year of planning went down the storm drain as all our frantic emails and change of itineraries for Baguio, Vigan, Subic, Hundred islands,etc. were swept away by the supertyphoon and the fear of facing all sorts of discomfort on the road to the north. So we had to change our plans and I was not ready with a plan B. All September long, we had really hot , summery weather that I just assumed would last till October and we would be awed by the sheer beauty of nature. So we went to San Juan, Batangas, and Lipa and Taal and Tagaytay instead. I must admit that i was a little disappointed with La Luz beach resort.

Boracay has spoiled all the other beaches for me. The sand wasn't fine, very coarse and pebbly. The place is better seen during the summer, I guess because when we went there the sky was overcast and the strong waves sent me back to shore quick. Also, there are no TVs in the rooms which would have driven Tita Chuchie mad (it was Bituing walang ningning's last week) had we not generated our own entertainment(a.k.a. Imbestigador!)

Luckily, my Canadian cousins liked the place. They really had a positive vibe about the place and were sad to leave.

In lieu of Vigan, we settled for Taal which also had some old houses though not all on one street but scattered throughout the town. We also got some juicy gossip about Ogie Alcasid because he's from this place!

How I wish we had taken the Old Manila tour I had with Tita Luday. It was an enlightening experience! Well, maybe next time!
Oh and by the way, Twinkle is now a 4-eyes! All that reading and checking has finally taken its toll on her eyes and she's now one of us! Bwahahahaha!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

pix from our reunion

hi guys, here are some of our pics from the 2006 big event.

obligatory shot with jollibee

at silangang nayon

la luz shots

tita luday at the mallsaying goodbye to team canada

here's tito dante home at last!

Friday, September 29, 2006

celebrity look-alike?

here's a site that tells you who you supposedly look like...

it's funny, i look like that that creepy kid from 'birth' and 'xmen3'! what the heck catherine zeta jones and halle berry? a word of caution though, i uploaded a pic of demi moore and she was siad to look like courtney cox and lisa kudrow ---they look nothing alike--- and no demi moore!

typhoon milenyo whips manila!

I woke up with my body aching. Yesterday, September28, 2006, Thursday, super typhoon Milenyo (international name Xangse) showed the power of nature over our 21st century technology and uprooted trees, toppled billboards and plunged the entire island of Luzon into darkness. It is said that this is the strongest typhoon to hit Manila in 11 years! Classes in all levels were suspended and I wasn't able to go to work out of fear for my life. Our talisay tree lost most of its branches and fell all over our cable wires, though we hardly noticed as we didn't have electricity all day and maybe till Sunday! My father, brother and I spent the afternoon picking up dead branches and dumping them out of the way as many other trees had blocked our village's roads. We also went around the subdivision to check out the damage that Milenyo wrought on the rest of us. Our cousin and his ma played tug-of-war with their mango tree at the height of the storm and lost. It brought down part of their gate. Over my walkman's AM radio I heard that as many as 15 billboards had fallen between the Bicutan and Sucat service roads. It's a good thing we had a gas-powered stove or we might have ended up like some people in Quezon City who lined up outside restaurants just to eat as even some malls were closed yesterday. Hotels were said to be full capacity as some of them had to turn customers away as their generator would not be able to handle the load. Tita Chuchie, my ninang from Maryland who went home for our Lolo's death anniversary was at out Tita Cora's place and told my Pa that this visit was really a surreal experience. Her credit card was almost rejected because she went on a shopping spree at SM for her family and now a typhoon and power outage. Wow Philippines, indeed!
Meanwhile ,it was back to dark ages for us as we ate dinner by candlelight and all our cellphones started going out and all our plans of a DVD marathon went down the drain and by 10 pm it was bed time for all of us while we pondered how powerless we really are against the power of nature. I left our home this afternoon and I am happy to report that the malls are back in business.There was a big traffic jam going to Magallanes as a 4-sided billboard had been turned into a twisted mass of metal and had fallen on top of a bus! MMDA personnel were at the scene trying to untagle the mess.I am now at work charging all our cellphones and thankful that Tita Luday and her grils from Canada are just planing in tonight after the storm. It will be funny to see their reaction when they see the city looking like a warzone. I do hope that other low pressure area that threatens to turn into another storm doesn't ruin our vacation plans next week! We plan to go to Baguio and the beach and then a walking tour of Manila.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mother's day 2006(as originally posted on yahoo group)

after months of unbearable heat (up to 38degrees) a typhoon came swooping down on us and had us all scurrying for cover under our flannel sheets. A neighbor's tree fell down and so did the sign in front of our subdivision. On Sunday, we went to Antipolo for our annual pilgrimage to the church of our lady of peace and good voyage.The place was packed! We then bought some cashews and suman. We were supposed to go to a resort there and i had already researched some nice places but the typhoon wrecked all my plans. Instead, we went to Grilla, a restaurant that had a fantastic view of the city.
The food was outstanding. We picked the mother's day package and got grilled fish, pork, chicken,etc. and we also had a rib eye steak which made me feel pity for vegetarians.Then we went home and snoozed for a bit. For dinner, we went toPosadas, near Sucat which had all sorts of food outlets and a magnificent view of Laguna Lake. There was a duo on the flute and cello playing some soothing pop music.The place was lovely.On anyother day it would have been cool. That day, the winds were strong and chilly. We had japanese food but since it was mother's day, there were lots of people and service was slow. But they did give my mom a bunch of roses. Then, Twinx who seemingly couldn't spend her money fast enough(galit sa pera), decided we should have coffee afterwards on the deck. Again, great ambience if you don't mind the storm in your face. Ma did get another rose and said we made her so happy that day, though she did hint that a complete line of make up would have been nice, too.hehehe!I do regret not bringing my camera, as the place is a great alternative to SM.

old spaghetti house--meager servings

Last Sunday, my sister Twinkle decided to treat the family because she had a big bonus or something. I didn't inquire much anymore after I heard the magic words:My treat. So, off we went to Festival mall as ma said there was a sale there. I spotted Old Spaghetti House and was reminded of a trip to Grilla next to Old Spaghetti in Antipolo that was a pleasantly surprising food trip. The place was a mix of an upscale Shakey's with their colorful glass lamps that hung overhead, and a touch of Italianni's.
The photos are small as I was caught without my camera so we had to make do with Twink's(ehem, Yasmin's) phone camera, which turned out rather apropriate.

The servings were quite small. All similarities to Italianni's stopped here. The food was ok but Ma commented that the dressing was quite meager. A customer at another table asked for some more dressing and was told she'd be charged extra for roughly 2 tablespoons of dressing. Twinx had the sun-dried tomato because she loves Italian food.
Papa got the Smoked Ribs. Please do not adjust your screens. That is indeed the serving size.
This was Jon's cordon bleu.Very good but also very miniscule. I think he downed this in one gulp.I've been longing for more rib-eye steak and ordered this. Grilla's was still better as this was small and not as tender.(maybe overcooked)

We decided to order lasagna as we were still a bit hungry. Twinx said this was more of a date place, that's why the servings were so small.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Estancia hotel, Tagaytay

The following was a review i contributed to yahoo travel last year

Estancia:worth the trip
Last Visit:June 2005 Twinx and Jon by the pool

Me and my family have been to Tagaytay lots of times but this is the first time we spent the night in the city. I had read a review about Estancia Hotel and about how it's a great place for a weekend stay because it had a great view of Taal Volcano a jacuzzi, and 2 swimming pools to swim in if you wanted an escape from the summer heat. Here's a tip: if you're a couple and you don't mind a fan room( it gets real cool in the evenings anyway), get the nipa hut. It looks so cute with all the bamboo walls and floors that really give you a local feel.
Our room was quite spacious

If you're going with your family of 5, and you're looking to save, don't let them make you book 2 executive rooms( made of boring cement walls). Ask to be in just one room. The queen sized beds are good enough for 2 adults each and they have a pull-out sofa bed for the 5th person. The executive rooms do come with a TV, phone, ref and bathtub. Also thought they say check in is at 2PM, they will allow you to come in as early as 8AM to use the facilities and even check-in if there's a room available.

What I liked:

1)Swimming pool and jacuzzi while enjoying the view of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake;

Twinx in jacuzzi with her 'Camay' smile

2) all the cute nipa huts set apart from each other --perfect for honeymooners;

The entrance to our cottage. Note the faux wood railing

3)location--it's so near all the great restaurants and other places of interest. There's a Catholic chapel,a Japanese peace garden, a butterfly park, a popular restaurant called Leslie's which has sumptious bulalo and lots of ambiance.

What I didn't like:

1) It's rather pricey(for me) and no breakfast was included. Their bar/restaurant offers Php220(roughly $4) breakfasts which they should try lowering because more reasonably priced places are nearby. Food and drinks are not allowed. A small bottle of water from the ref is $1. We went out of the hotel because it's only 25c at the local store.

2) The pools aren't heated so there is no night swimming--which would've been perfect.

Inside we're shivering! The water was cold!

3)The place is showing signs of age. It's more than 10 years old and some of the facilities are rather run down.

4) Something beyond their control: the cicadas were just so noisy in the afternoon! Fortunately the executive room is airconditioned so we could shutthe windows. And at night the cicadas quieted down.

The place is huge and practically deserted.

But all in all, a truly relaxing stay well worth the trip!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Why we love Italianni's

Ma and Pa celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary by treating us to lunch at Italianni's, our default celebration resto in Makati. Our love affair with this New York style Italian restaurant started when ma got a gift certificate for a free appetizer at this place. We had never been there and we were afraid it would be too expensive. The price was rather stiff but the magic words that turned us into fans were 'our meals are meant for sharing'. That was a concept we Filipinos shared with Italians. No formalities about eating only what you ordered. Here, we make sure we don't order the same stuff so we can all taste something new and share everything with everybody just like we would when eating at home. We also like the fact that they offer us complimentary foccacia bread and olive oil while we wait for our meal(which led Jon at 12 years old to exclaim: libre to?!*munch,munch,munch*). Sometimes, when the crowds are huge and we have to wait to be seated, customers are offered iced tea or water.
Here's the appetizer that started it all: Spinach and artichoke formaggio, which we order everytime because it's Jon's favorite.
For a change we decided to skip our other usual orders like caesar's salad and try something new:
I forgot the name of this salad but it was a mix of greens,fruits and cheeses.
Then came the meaty lasagna made in the real italian style---meaning sour, not sweet tomato sauce. This meal is so filling, your stomach will groan long after you've left the place.

My favorite meal was the seafood risotto. I first had risotto at a small homey resto in Boracay and I can''t have enough of it. The thick slab of grilled salmon on top was so succulent and fresh but I felt the serving of risotto was not enough. We loved it so much I have downloaded recipes to make the meal myself.


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