This Place

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Like a good movie, I never get tired of seeing this view.

I always like coming here. Perhaps, because I always have good memories of this place. From when we used to have picnics here when I was a kid, to the high school retreats, to the day or overnight trips with my family and friends. You could even say that this is where I fell in love.

Or, okay, of course, I’m being melodramatic. But shouldn’t you be, when talking about love?

This was the backdrop when he and I first looked into each other’s eyes and knew. And perhaps we’ll never know if it was the reason why we felt the things we did–I mean, who looks at this view and feels the cool breeze and hears the quiet in this place without thinking of romantic things? But does it really matter?

am a bit saddened by the fact that it seems they’re overdeveloping this place (if they haven’t already, and really, I might say the same for the rest of the world). And the next time I come here, or the next time anyone comes here, the atmosphere of wanting to fall in love would be gone. Already, instead of respite from the city, I can hear the screams of people on the roller coaster at the amusement park next-door. Not that that can’t be a good backdrop for two people falling in love either.

So, yeah. I always like coming here.

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I Love the South!

So Cosmo.ph put up an article, “11 Signs You’re A South Girl” and because most (if not all) of the signs mentioned are pretty accurate, I shared it on Facebook. And I found that a lot of other people shared it, too. I really shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve met enough people from the South to know how very much in love we are with where we’re from. I really can’t tell why that is, but I know that it’s mostly unique to the South. I mean, people from the North, I guess, love some things about their neighborhoods, too, but I’ve never heard any of them fawning over their lifestyle, the way we Southerners do. In fact, as of this writing, the article about the South has been shared on Facebook 45,874 times, while the article about the North has 24,609 shares. And considering that the article about the North was written 4 days before the one about the South, I think it means something.

I also noticed that most of the points mentioned in “11 Signs You’re A North Girl” are mostly complaints about having to travel long distances in the horrible Metro Manila traffic, while the article about the South is mostly about fun things. Even the pictures they used are telling–the picture in the North article is a picture of someone’s car stuck in traffic, while the South article has a picture of families hanging out at the open area of a mall on a Saturday afternoon. (All right, there’s no way to tell if the photo was taken on a Saturday but I’m willing to bet it was, considering the number of people in it.)

Anyway, because I’m a South advocate and will argue to my grave that the South is infinitely better, I am very entertained when things like these exist. Which is why I’m relating it to a blog post that was supposedly just about me and my friends hanging out.

One of the items in the North list was:

7. You know where all the good food places are.
North people are blessed with restos in Maginhawa, Marikina, and Kapitolyo. Can’t get any better than those!

Now, I’m not going to argue that the restaurants in those places are bad (because the ones I’ve been to are really really good!), but isn’t this a little bit presumptuous? I mean, you can’t qualify that the restaurants in the areas mentioned are the “best”, because that’s totally relative. There are hundreds of other restaurants in Makati/Tagaytay/Cebu/Bacolod/Wellington/The World that are really really good, too. And obviously, the writer has never heard of Aguirre Ave. in BF Paranaque, which brings me to the first event with my friends that I wanted to talk about.

J’s birthday! It’s usually the first thing my pre-school friends and I get together for every year because J’s birthday is on January 15. This year, because we met up on a Saturday, we had more time than our usual dinner meetup, and so we went Aguirre Ave. establishment-hopping! Well, sort of. I guess you really need an entire day for that, but we were able to go to 4 places, which I don’t think is bad, considering we started at 5 p.m.

So J and I first met up at Larcy’s Cupcakery Cafe, which I realize most people have labeled as a place that sells “overpriced” cupcakes, but their prices really aren’t that different from Vanilla Cupcake Bakery. And they’re delicious, anyway. (Of course, I’m not taking into consideration the homemade cupcakes made by your friends and family; I’m sure they’re a lot more delicious than the cupcakes here, but really, you have to remember that a lot of things are better when they’re made with love by people you care for.) Also, this cafe has pretty chairs and a nice, quiet atmosphere in the afternoon. What more can you ask from a cupcake store? 🙂

We went to Mandarin Palace Seafood and Shabu-Shabu Restaurant afterwards for dinner and I think I may have just found my favorite Chinese restaurant. You can order a la carte or get food yum cha-style, as there is someone who goes around the restaurant with a trolley full of dimsum. They, so far, have the best hakao I’ve ever tried.

Next, we made a quick stop at Beauty Avenue Cafe. J2 wanted to try their cupcakes and though they ended up being disappointing, their red velvet crinkles brightened our mood. Also, it was hard not to get entertained by the pink-ness of their store. I mean, a pink chandelier?! So amusing, right?

Our last stop was Magnum Opus Fine Coffees, one of my favorite cafes ever. So it was crowded and noisy and the WiFi wasn’t working at the time, but still, they have the best coffee in the South, that yummy Azure of the Gold thingie, and the friendliest baristas, too! 😀 We stayed past their closing time (11 p.m.), and they didn’t ask us to leave or anything. (Actually, there were still a lot of people even after we left.)

Anyway, it was a super fun day and J said she had a great time, which of course we were happy about because it was her birthday. 🙂 And I hope J3 agrees to having a celebration similar to this, too. I mean, there are so many more restaurants and cafes to explore in the South!

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Clockwise: Beauty Avenue Cafe, Mandarin Palace and Magnum Opus Fine Coffees

Meanwhile, though I pretty much agree with all the items on the list about the South, there was one item in particular that hit close to my heart:

8. Your idea of a Friday night is drinking at someone’s house.
A chill inuman session with friends is always better than a tugs-tugs party with 100 other strangers.

As someone who absolutely hates tugs-tugs parties (Ewww loud music! Ewww strangers!), I am very much delighted that this fact was acknowledged. Especially because I’m super proud that most of these chill inuman sessions that my friends and I have happen at my house!

I don’t know what it is. Are parents in the South also more chill than parents in the North, so it’s not a big problem when someone gets drunk and passes out in someone else’s sala? Although, another item in the list shows that other Southerners can’t explain some things either:

9. House parties always end up in the streets.
Until this day you can’t explain why you and your friends like hanging out in the streets of the village.

We do sometimes end up outside the house and on the street, or, bonus! As my house is near the village park, there are times when my friends and I hang out there, too.

But I’d like to elaborate on our latest inuman session, in case you’re not convinced that “drinking at someone’s house” is a great way to spend a Friday night.

Last Friday, my friends and I got together for a despedida as M had just resigned from the office where we all met, and K was home for a vacation (He is normally in Singapore). And because K2 is an amazing chef (not professional, though, at least not yet), he said he would cook for us! 😀

He made Arroz a la Valenciana, Inihaw na Liempo, and prepared a yummy dessert–butter cake with calamansi compote, strawberries, kiwi and orange slices. And, as if those weren’t enough, he also bought sausages and made a nice garlic dip for the chips (and if one was so inclined to use garlic dip on it, roast chicken) that M and I bought as our “waiting food”, i.e. the food we’d eat while we waited for K2 to finish cooking. He was only able to start from around midnight as he (along with V, R and R2) still had work until 11 p.m.

The wait was worth it. All the food was really really good. And though we didn’t go so far as to brew our own beer, there were some drinks that we mixed and everything was delicious enough to merit the hashtag #InumangGourmet, which C used when she posted a photo of the Valenciana on her Instagram.

It was really a fun night. Good food. Good company. And good games! My friends and I played a trivia game about M, on account of this was her despedida, and she’s really easy to make fun of base a trivia game on. 😉

BTW, pictures of the food are here. I didn’t want to post the same image here that I’d already uploaded to another blog.

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NO SELFIE STICKS HERE. Selfies should be made with effort and the perfect selfie isn’t worth it without a few funny/not funny trial selfies! (Also: Camera timers are still useful!)

Looking for Pie in Tagaytay

I read somewhere on the Internet that the Puzzle Mansion’s coconut cream pie was “the best buko pie”. Because I want to dispute everything (don’t we all?) and firmly believe that Lety’s Buko Pie is the best buko pie ever, I asked my friend R to come with me to Tagaytay City. She agreed, and then we figured that since we were already going to Tagaytay, we may as well eat Bulalo and do other Tagaytay things like, buy pineapples.

We met up at Festival Mall to take the shuttle that takes you straight to Tagaytay City. It’s outside the mall entrance/exit that’s near Goldilocks and it costs only P75 per person. I must say, it’s the most convenient way to commute to Tagaytay City if you’re from the south (I don’t mean Cavite/Laguna, of course). The only problem is that you have to wait for the shuttle to be filled before it leaves. We waited for about an hour so I’d say that it’s not the best option if you’re on a schedule. Still quite convenient, though. 🙂

We arrived at Tagaytay an hour after the van we were on left Festival Mall. We got off at the rotunda and crossed the street to ride the jeep. Our first stop was Green ATS Bulalohan. It’s along the Aguinaldo Highway, but make sure to take the jeep that’s going to Nasugbu because the other ones turn right somewhere before you reach the area (R and I learned this the hard way, unfortunately.) Anyway, here’s a link to Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/yMtNM

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We ordered their special bulalo (for 2), 2 cups of rice and 2 bottles of soft drinks. It cost us around P250 each, which I think is reasonable. Especially because we had this to look at as we ate:

Taal volcano and lake
#nofilter

Tagaytay wasn’t as cool as we expected, but the breeze was still nice and sunny days make the best pictures. 🙂 I’ve seen this view about a hundred times what with Tagaytay being relatively close to where I live, but I still love it. Because it’s beautiful! Diba? 😀

Anyway, after eating bulalo, we were in the condition to have some dessert so that’s when we went to the Puzzle Mansion. We had to walk just a little bit from Green ATS Bulalohan to get to the corner where you take the tricycle to Puzzle Mansion from. A tricycle and (very) short jeepney ride later, we were at the Puzzle Mansion. It costs P100 each to see the gallery/museum, so we just went straight to the restaurant. It’s not that I’m not interested in puzzles, I just really really wanted to try the coconut cream pie at this point. 😛

R and I tried a slice each first. It’s P50 per slice and P350 a box (8 slices). And we had iced coffee, too. Iced coffee isn’t in the menu, but you can request to have the brewed coffee served iced. The people in the restaurant were really nice. 🙂 And the coffee was really good, too. 🙂 And the main event? Really, really, really good. 😀

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My craving, nay curiosity, was satisfied. The coconut cream pie isn’t just delicious, it’s also quite different from anything I’ve tasted. I do have to say this, though: It’s not the best buko pie ever, because it’s not buko pie! Simple as that!

I’m not even sure if it can be called a pie in the first place because by definition, a pie is “a food that consists of meat, vegetables, or fruit cooked inside a case of pastry or below a layer of it.” Inside or below, it clearly states, and the fruit in this case is above a layer of pastry (crust) and below a layer of cream. As well, pies are traditionally hot, and this must be served cold. If you were going to compare it to something, I’d say it should be compared to cheesecake. Or, fine, key lime pie. Except that those are tart, and this is sweet and creamy.

Well, semantics has always been a tricky thing. But I still think “best buko pie” is such a misrepresentation of this. Either way, it tastes great, and I’d say worth the trip!

After we finished eating the slices we ordered, we got a box each to take home. Outside the Puzzle Mansion, before reaching the highway, there were some ladies selling pineapples and because it almost wouldn’t have been a Tagaytay trip if we didn’t get any, R and I bought 2 large pineapples each. (Also, our mothers asked us to buy pineapples. Oh, mothers. :P)

Before heading back to Manila, we wanted to pass by Bag of Beans, supposedly just to buy some coffee beans or raisin bread, but we ended up indulging ourselves and having breakfast for (early) dinner. 😀

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eggs benedict, signature coffee, country breakfast

Yum yum yum. We would go home with our stomachs thicker and wallets thinner, but I have no regrets. I mean, look at that bacon. #nuffsaid 😉

We managed to catch the last trip of the van back to Alabang and arrived at Festival Mall just a few minutes before 9 p.m. A few minutes after 9 p.m., I found myself getting a hair spa at David’s Salon. But that’s another story. I hope you all enjoyed your weekend!

Summer with Friends

Labor day holiday! It was one of those rare moments when my friends and I all had holidays from work, and it happened to coincide with the homecoming of one of our friends who’s been based in Singapore for a while. And it’s the middle of summer! It was only natural for us to go to the beach. This year, we decided to go to two islands in Quezon: Puting Buhangin and Borawan Island.

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Traditionally, people would also go to Dampalitan Island, but we decided that we liked staying in one place better and we used the time we gained by going on a side trip to Lucban where we bought yema cake and other pasalubong.

We left the city via a hired van early in the morning of April 30 (before 4 a.m.) and arrived at Padre Burgos, which is where you take the boat to the islands, around 8 a.m. After a quick stop at the market to buy our food, we got on the boat and it took us to Borawan island where we set up our tents and left some of our stuff. We got on the boat again right away to go to Puting Buhangin island. We got there around 9:30 a.m. It’s one of the most beautiful islands I’ve been to, seriously. Blue and green clear waters, not-so-rough white sand, and wonderful wonderful sea breeze. 🙂 I really liked the time we spent there and wish we could’ve stayed there for a longer time. But alas, we left all our food at our campsite in Borawan so we had to go back once it was lunchtime. But I’m glad we were able to spend a good two hours there. 🙂

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My friends, swimming at Puting Buhangin Island

Back at Borawan, my friends started setting up the things we needed for lunch (charcoal, grill, etc.) and I told our boatman to pick us up at 9 a.m. the next day to go to Dampalitan island. He said okay and left, and that meant that we would now have to spend the night there. Though that’s actually what we were meaning to do.

We had pork chop and alimasag for lunch c/o my friend K, and they were delicious. K is a really really good cook. He likes to joke about how we only include him in summer outings so we’d have someone to cook for us. I’m neither going to confirm nor deny that. 😛

We set up camp near the end of the island and as soon as the people who went there on a day trip left in the afternoon, there was hardly anyone around. By the time we were eating lunch, we had the beach all to ourselves. It was amazing.

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Borawan Island, all to ourselves

I read somewhere on the Internet that there are many activities to do in this island. There’s a volleyball court and there are some kayaks that you can rent. You can even climb the rocks and get to the top where you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. But my friends and I not being the most active people in the world, were content to just swim in the beach and sit around telling each other stories.

For dinner we had leftover pork chop and adobo. And beer. And a drinking game. A drinking game that halfway through we already knew would render us all useless in the morning, so I texted our boatman around 8 p.m. to pick us up at 10:30 in the morning instead of 9:00. Because we figured we would no longer have the energy to go to Dampalitan island.

We were right. The last of us to sleep slept around 2:30 a.m. (It was me, in case you’re wondering.) and when everyone was awake the next day, none of us felt like moving too much. 😛 Well. I have no regrets. Anyway, even though I was the last to go to sleep, I woke up earlier than everyone else so I walked around the island for a bit and was able to catch the sunrise. It was prettttyyy.

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The night sky was pretty, too. After “lights out” (around midnight), it was a small feat to see some shooting stars. And the water, I think it had a version of those bioluminescent planktons at Maldives because there were shiny shimmery twinkly dots whenever we touched it or waded in it that night. It actually felt kind of magical.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any pictures of this because not only do I not have a really good camera, my mobile phone’s battery was almost completely gone by 9 p.m. The island has limited power, so there was no way to charge our phones, which is kind of bad but I guess kind of good, too. We all know the advantages and disadvantages of technology.

The next day, we had breakfast (eggs and leftover adobo c/o B, why yes, we have a different cook for breakfast food 😉 ) and started packing up. The boatman arrived at 9 a.m. anyway, but said it was alright for him to wait for us. We left the island around 10:30 a.m. with the following happy memories:

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See you all on the next adventure! 🙂