Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A beautuful hideaway called T HOUSE... in Tagaytay

location: 3195 Calamba Road, Tagaytay
(046) 483 0011

Owned and operated by Mrs Fem Paguio. Its a cozy Bed & breakfast cum hideaway. T stands for Tranquility... and seeing the place you will like it too... she served us little canapes and pandan juice to wash it down. So refreshing! In case you want to stay for a weekend ... you have to book in advance. It opened 18 months ago.

HOW TO GET THERE: at the sta rosa- tagayaty junction.... turn left going towards tagaytay highlands.... since T HOUSE is not on the ridge.... you have to look for the sign on your left.... the landmark will be a church Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church ( Ina ng laging saklolo church )...... right beside it.....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Giant Parols of Pampanga

Location: San Fernando, Pampanga. In the parking lot of the Robinsons Mall.

This event happens once a year.... at christmas time. Many of the barangays in Pampanga compete for " the Best Lantern ". This year... the competition was last December 20. The winners are farmed out to different locations such as.... Clark and Intramuros.

There were 5 giant lanterns ( measuring 20 - 25ft. tall ).... located in the parking lot when we arrived. They were from San Jose, San Nicolas, Del Pilar, San Juan Nepomuceno and Dolores....

The lantern show starts as soon as the sun sets..... the shows lasts for 90 minutes... first.... they start one at a time.... then... after the intermission... they start showing 2 or 3 at a time.... and lastly.... they do a simultaneous display of 5 lanterns... It starts at 6:30pm and ends at 8:00pm.

The giant lanterns are part of a tradition that started way back in the early 1900's when they were still using oil lamps to provide the illumination for the lanterns....

What is fascinating about this display ... is that it doesnt use modern high technology...the makers of the lanterns utilize old fashion techniques using rotors which switches the thousand bulbs on and off.....the colorful lights are synchronized to music, not by electronic devices but manually operated. These lanterns are mounted on the front of trucks which also contain the control rotors and switches....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Full Moon at Day Break!

Location: My balcony......
Woke up early today to pick up Joe at the airport....... looked up and saw the full moon.. Finally!!!! a full moon!!!! after so many days of clouds and rains..... today was just perfect!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An afternoon at the Baywalk..

location: Roxas Boulevard

Since today was the day i had to accompany Iggy to his appointment at the US Embassy... i decided to wander around the area and ended up in Baywalk...

I haven't seen this place since 2006... it has completely changed since then... gone were the little bars and restaurants that lined up the breakwater... now..... Roxas Blvd. looks like what i used to remember the place when i was still young. I was very fortunate to have Oskie who patiently waited with me while Iggy went for his visa application.

Had merienda at Aristocrat while waiting for Iggy ...I ordered Arroz caldo with goto . Unfortunately i was soooo hungry that i finished it as soon as it was served... but luckily... Oskie ordered inihaw na liempo with java rice... and I was able to take a picture of that... looked so yummy... especially with the secret sauce of the Reyes family...

I was in time for the sunset..... and took hundreds of shots... and ended with these 4 shots....

The next time i go to the Roxas Blvd... i will remember to try riding the calesa....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cu Chi Tunnel, Ho Chi Minh

There are also many interesting excursions to do while visiting the South of Vietnam. And the most interesting one i joined was the Cu Chi Tunnel experience. It requires at least a whole day to do this tour.

"Cu Chi, the land of many gardens, peaceful all year round under shady trees ... Then mercilessly American bombers have ruthlessly decided to kill this gentle piece of countryside ... Like a crazy bunch of devils they fired into women and children ... The Americans wanted to turn Chu Chi into a dead land, but Cu Chi will never die."

Knitting past and present jarringly together, the gunfire in the film mingles with that of the nearby firing range, where visitors can pay $1 a bullet to shoot an AK-47 rifle.The rattle and pop of automatic weapons greet a visitor. Young women in the black pajamas of the Vietcong flit through the woods. A man in green fatigues picks his way down a narrow trail, leading a small platoon of foreign tourists.

This is the site of the Cu Chi tunnels, one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Vietnam War. Today it is one of the country's prime tourist attractions, part of a new industry of war tourism. Sometimes, these spots seem to be memorials to wartime propaganda as much to the war itself.

Following the man in green fatigues, the tourists arrive at an open-sided hut, where the women in black show them to their seats. There, on a big-screen television set, the Vietnam War plays on: B-52's drop strings of bombs, villagers run for cover, communist guerrillas fight back.

The Cu Chi tunnels, a 75-mile-long underground maze where thousands of fighters and villagers could hide, are at the top of the list of tourist spots for Ho Chi Minh City, 45 miles to the southeast. Another is the city's Museum of War Remnants, with its displays of captured weapons and its catalog of horrors, which only recently amended its name, with changing times, from the Museum of American War Crimes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Cambodian Amok Fish Recipe

Cambodian food is a charming combination of strong and vibrant flavors. Cambodians like to make sure that there is a little of the salty, the sour, the sweet and the bitter in every meal.

Khmer cuisine is gaining interest in many countries, with some people forecasting that it will become the New Thai, i.e. the next cuisine from the Southeast Asia region to enchant the world. It is, in fact, quite similar to Thai food but without the spiciness.


400 g firm white fish (ling, monkfish, even salmon works but is less traditional) Cut into bite size chunks

1/2 cup coconut cream
2 cups coconut milk
1 egg (beaten)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoon kaffir lime leaves (sliced thinly)
2-3 long red chilli peppers (seeded & thinly sliced)
300 g kale or collard greens or cabbage leaves (combined with 1 tablespoon lemongrass)

The Amok Paste:
2 dried red chilies (soaked and drained)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoon fresh galangal (chopped) (use fresh ginger as an alternative)
1 tbsp lemon grass stalk
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shrimp paste

To make the paste, blend all the paste ingredients smoothly in a food processor or with a hand blender. Combine the paste with 1 cup of coconut milk. When dissolved, stir in the remaining coconut milk, egg, fish sauce and fish.
Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC. Take off any stems from the kale and cut into large pieces and make a thin layer in the bottom of 4 ramekins. Spoon in the fish mixture and cover with another leaf. Cover each ramekin tightly in foil and place on a roasting tin. Pour in 1 inch of boiling water to the tin and carefully place in the oven. Steam for 20-25 minutes until the fish is cooked and quite solid.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I finally got to visit Siem Reap with my friends, Ernie and Lulu Kamatoy , Roland and Maribel Sunga from Los Angeles, CA. We were lucky to arrive on the eve of the King's Birthday. They were on a 2 day holiday. I found out that cambodian food is coconut milk based, not spicy although most of their stuff were similar to the Thai food. You must try their Khmer Amok Fish which is very famous and their KARI.

They recommended another cambodian dish called TREY BOM POONG but it was already finished when we ordered it. We had our first taste of cambodian cooking in a restaurant cum bar called DEAD FISH.

Our first stop was to see ANGKOR WAT, the world's largest religious monument. It took us the almost 5 hours just to walk thru the whole place.

For lunch we dined in a restaurant near Angkor Wat called SOMOS SRAS SRANG. They served local khmer food.

In the afternoon we went back to the hotel to change clothes and walked to the river to watch the river boat race. While waiting for the boat race to start we went around the area and sampled all the food they were selling.

That evening we were able to go and see a cultural show. I noticed that some of their dances were very similar to our folk dance here. Like the " maglalatik dance " and they had their own version of the " tinikling " . But their movements were much slower and they put more emphasis on their hands and head movement.

The Asparas of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Standing still and upholding all the temple portals she is there smiling and awaiting the procession of the royal family to pay homage to Siva. Frozen forever with her eternal smile the Apsaras and Devatas emit grace, warmth and serenity. Her smile is so inviting it is as if she knows the secret of eternal happiness.

Surrounding the entire temple the Apsara guardians are beckoning the viewer to enter this beautiful temple and enjoy the secrets of divine bliss.Haunting and beautiful she stands everywhere spreading her charm and beauty.

The Apsaras of the Bayon and Angkor Wat are the eternal representations of divine grace, still here, if only you can get close enough to see her and greet her with your own smile of acceptance.

Banteay Srei Temple, Angkor Wat

Banteay Srei ....is a beautiful 10th century Khmer temple complex dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in the area of Angkor, it lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, North of Angkor Wat. Banteay Srei is built mainly of deep red sandstone, a material that lends itself to the elaborate wall carvings which are still well-preserved today. Banteay Srei means " Citadel of Women " and it is believed that the reliefs on this temple are so delicate that they could only have been carved by the hand of a woman. The relief carvings on the central buildings depict scenes from ancient Hindu myth.

In fact, the buildings are miniature in scale compare to the standards of Angkorian construction. The remarkable craving skills and the red sandstone medium have made the temple very popular with tourists, and is widely praised as the "jewel of Khmer art.”

Tonle Sap Lake and Fishing Village, Ang Kor Wat

For those which like a deep discovery of a country, one should not fail to take a tour of Ton Le Sap Fishing Village in Ang Kor Wat, Cambodia.The Tonle Sap is one of the most fish abundant lakes in the world and the silt deposits left behind by the annual floods have created fertile ground for agriculture. It’s no surprise that one of Asia’s greatest ancient civilizations developed near this lake and today much of Cambodia’s livelihood still depends on its output.

The village is friendly, smiles from everybody and waves and shouts of ‘bye bye’ from the children follow our boat as we make our way down the town’s "main street". There is heavy traffic here as long canoes serving as public buses, small family pirogues, and even the occasional large metal bowl serving as transportation for some the younger villagers all make their way around the village.

Ta Prom Temple, Cambodia

Ta Prom is definitively what you are looking for if you are into discovering old ruins in the jungle. When the French started clearing away the vegetation on the Angkor ruins some romantics protested that the archeologist were destroying what they called "the natural state" of the temples. The Conservation Society decided that Ta Prohm would remain in its overgrown state. Some work was carried out to prevent further collapses and to make the site safe for visitors. Some parts have signs that forbid entry which doesn't seem to hinder the majoity of the tourists.

The temple is one of the largest, with an outer wall measuring 600 by 1000 metres, largely collapsed. The sanctuary is a square with sides of 120m. Some parts are inaccessible because the roofs caved in. It is a good idea to bring a flashlight if you want to scout the inner hallways. Be careful where you step, especially in the morning when all the stones are wet with the dew.

Nevertheless, Ta Prom is a sight not to be missed.

Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat

We stand before it stunned. It is like nothing else in the land. The Bayon is located in the center of the city of Angkor Thom 1500 meters (4921 feet) from the south gate. Enter tower of the Bayon is from the east.

Prasat Bayon was built in late 12th century to early 13th century, by the King Jayavarman VII, dedicated to BuddhistThe Bayon was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat. The basic structure and earliest part of the temple is not known. Since it was located at the centre of a royal city it seems possible that the Bayon would have originally been a temple-mountain conforming to the symbolism of a microcosm of Mount Meru. The middle part of the temple was extended during the second phase of building. The Bayon of today belong to the third and last phase of the art style.


Over 2000 large faces carved on the 54 tower give this temple its majestic character.


The faces with slightly curving lips, eyes placed in shadow by the lowered lids utter not a word and yet force you to guess much, wrote P Jennerat de Beerski in the 1920s. It is generally accepted that four faces on each of the tower are images of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and that they signify the omnipresence of the king. The characteristics of this faces - a broad forehead, downcast eyes, wild nostrils, thick lips that curl upwards slightly at the ends-combine to reflect the famous 'smile of Angkor'.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yoki's Hydrophonic Farm

location: Tagaytay

- owned by a very low keyed person who loves collecting all sorts of antiquities, orchids, herbs, salad greens etc. It got its name " HYDROPHONIC " thru his process of growing his herbs and plants... WATER is the main source with nutrients added to the system. In short you can try the greens as you purchase them. You dont need to wash off the dirt since its not planted on the soil. His farm supplies most of the restaurants here in makati. When you want to buy that is the only time they will go and pick it from their nursery. I took a bite of the lettuce they were selling and it tastes different!!

Ultimate Tour and Culinary Cuisine goes to Tagaytay

I travelled with food bloggers and first timers on this trip. We were 20 in a little coaster on our way to TAGAYTAY. Most of us were fully equiped with our cameras, tripods and video equipment ready to document our experience..... before i took this trip all i thought the best food places were SONYA's garden and Antonio's ..... but after tasting and discovering these new places.... it makes you want to make that trip to Tagaytay once more!!! When you travel with food bloggers... you cant eat as soon as the food is set on the table.... YOU GOT TO TAKE THE PICTURE first....... once satisfied with the outcome of your shots... then.. you sit down and eat... UNLESS... you are famished... and gobble down your food before you can document your food...you end up with NO FOOD pictures!!! Joining a food tour is all what it is all about... DOCUMENTING your food and by word of mouth.... these new places will be another " MUST TRY " places to eat when you are in Tagaytay. What I learned from this experience was to be adventurous in your taste, have an empty stomach since you will be eating and sampling so many things along the way, its very important to pace your food intake, one must have an open mind when you go on these trips and last but not the least.... tons of energy to last you the whole trip........ otherwise.......... JUST STAY HOME!!!

Loumars - known for its BUKO CRUMBLE PIE... what i learned we have to eat the pie baked right from the source ( we went to the wholesaler of this buko pie)...its better to buy your buko pies early morning so its still warm and fresh. When you get it any other time of the day... they dont taste as good.

Ilog Maria HoneyBee Farm - owned by Joel Magsaysay and his family. They sell all sorts of products like handmade soap, massage oil, bee pollen, etc. The road to his little farm ( 9 hectares ) is a very narrow bumpy, dirty ( during summer ), muddy ( during rainy season ) road.. you need a 4 X 4 vehicle to get there. He had prepared a impromtu video presentation about his farm and showed us around. I learned something new about the BEES and their HONEY... Ants whether black or red are not attracted to natural honey.. Once the honey is harvested and processed... sugar is added... etc... thats when the ants come.

BAWAI's - its a newly opened Vietnamese Resaturant owned and operated by Mr and Mrs Tatlonghari.. It opened only 15 months ago... and was discovered by Anton Diaz ( food blogger of OUR AWESOME PLANET ), Mrs Tatlonghari a native of Vietnam personally supervises and cooks all the dishes from her kitchen.. Since the restaurant also serves as their housing quarters it is opened only on weekends.. and one has to have make reservations in advance. Unlike Sonya's garden which has the set menu... BAWAI has a menu you can order what you like. The seating capacity is 28 persons.

CHATEAU HESTIA - owned and operated by Johannes Zehethoffer ( from Vienna ). It opened last year... and its a few meters down the road from BAWAI... this was where we went for our dessert. He has 2 house liquers which i tried.. LIMONCELLO ( but this time with a twist ).. since we dont have LEMONS in the philippines he made use of our dalandan with a dash of vanilla. the other one was ORANGE liquer which was also very good. He offered us panna cotta topped with passion fruit bits and jam which i liked. His ferrero rocher ice cream was also good. He had another treat for us called mango napoleon which i wasnt able to try since i was soooooo full already!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

National Palace Museum, Taipei

Taipei's National Palace Museum, located in the Waishuanghsi neighborhood of the Shihlin District, is the pride of Taiwan. It ranks as one of the four best museums in the world, in a class with the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The museum holds the world's largest collection of Chinese artifacts, around 700,000 items in all. Since the museum only has space to display around 15,000 pieces at any given time, the majority of the treasures are kept  protected in air-conditioned vaults buried deep in the mountainside. The displays are rotated once every three months, which means 60,000 pieces can be viewed in a year and it would take nearly 12 years to see them all. 

Some of the oldest artifacts in the collection of the museum are pieces of prehistoric pottery over 5,000 years old. The vast majority of these art objects are from the private collection of China's emperors.
Included in the collection are artifacts made from jade, bronze, porcelain, lacquerware and enamel. There are also tapestry and embroidery, and many priceless documents and books containing excellent examples of ancient Chinese calligraphy.

There are tours in different languages and for the handicapped. A multimedia slide show is presented daily in both Chinese and English languages. October is the best time to visit.

The museum provides a handheld audio tour system called INFORM. This system enables visitors to create a personalized guided tour of the museum. You can simply walk through the galleries, choose the highlighted exhibits which interest you and learn about them in your own pace.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Butterfly Farm in Camp John Hay, Baguio

In Camp John Hay, Baguio they have a net-enclosed sanctuary that offers interaction with butterflies bred in this place. they call it the Butterfly farm. Its also a must see because you can see butterflies fluttering everywhere and if your nice enough they will rest on your hand. Butterflies usually are lively during February. The butterflies wont mind being softly touched or letting them cling to your finger or rest on your head or shoulder for that great photo shot opportunity. The entrance to the farm is 40 pesos.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Baguio Revisited after 10 years....

I still miss my childhood memories of the place!!! The last time i was in baguio was 1998 just before the earthquake.. it has changed a lot...although some of the scenery is still the same but without the scent of pine trees, Baguio isn't baguio once you enter the toll gate. U_NEED ( the ONLY grocery at the foot of session road in front of the baguio market ) and Star Coffee shop have disappeared from session road.... i can still remember the smell of freshly baked pan de sal at 5pm on the mid section of session road coming from STAR BAKERY...... the moviehouses in session road...igorots dancing in their G strings for some loose change... pines hotel was replaced by Shoemart.... burnham park looked bare.....sigh!!

I took this shot from the balcony of my room at the Manor Hotel in Baguio.. it was chilly this morning but it was a big difference from the heat of Manila......