Friday, February 25, 2011

Who's Addicted to Cityville?

I've completely ditched Pet Society.
Baking Life? I visit everytime I feel like it.
Chocolatier? I just went a few times then lost interest.
Cafe Life? Maybe I'm there 2x a week.

But Cityville? EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I'm really loving this game!

Happy 25th Anniversary, EDSA Revolution!

I've been trying to recall where I was or what I was doing the day people "woke up" and decided they had had enough of the Marcos dictatorship. It's been 25 years since that fateful day. If any of you have noticed, I was also recently a HS Silver Jubilarian.

1986 was the year I almost didn't get to march on that stage to receive my high school diploma. Only about a month before graduation, the EDSA Revolution took place. The country was in turmoil and nobody knew how things would turn out. I remember thinking, "Oh no! Do we have to move to another country?!" I remember seeing my Mom going over our passports to make sure they were within reach. She went through each of our US visas to check if everything was in order. I had a creepy feeling in my gut. Here I was, about to reach an important milestone in my academic life and we were on the verge of packing our bags???

Because I was a normal teenager then, my thoughts were mostly selfish. I had been living a very sheltered life, not caring much about the country's future. I was more concerned about not being able to experience attending my Senior Graduation Ball. Seriously.

25 years later, the country remembers everything that took place on the streets of EDSA, as we witnessed the end of a dictatorship and the birth of democracy, thanks to our first lady President, Cory Aquino. Sadly, I have no stories to tell my kids. All I can remember is that no matter how many times I asked if I could go to EDSA, my parents denied me the opportunity. I saw all those historical events unfold on TV, in the comforts of my home.

Oh...but I wore yellow. That much I know.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hizon's Mocha Cake --- an old reliable favorite!

Okay, so I decided to take a different route last night when we had to bring dessert to another reunion. While Chocolat's Tiramisu is to die for, this is what we brought to the last gathering with this very same group. I wanted to satisfy my own craving for something more "old school". Besides, we had a couple of balikbayans in this group and it would be good for them to reunite with an old favorite.

The Mocha cake actually comes in 3 sizes : round, square and rectangle
Can you guess why I chose the round one?
You know how everyone tries to beat each other to the corners, where all that yummy icing is?
The round-shaped one totally gets rid of all that competition hahaha!
I'm an icing monster and I especially love buttercream icing so this one was just perfect!

Two things I love about this cake:

The icing is not "over the top" sweet
The cake itself is really thick and moist

Quite expensive compared to other cakes at Php 1,020 but definitely worth the minor dent in your wallet.

I made sure my slice was right smack on the flower icing hehehe!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chocolat's Tiramisu Cake

There have been way too many gatherings and reunions since the Christmas season last year. To date, we still have two balikbayan relatives (one on each side) in town. Tonight, we're off to another gathering with Neal's California-based aunt and uncle, who are on the final stretch of their Manila visit.

This has been a hit in most of the potluck gatherings we've gone to these past weeks. Chocolat started out as a small shop somewhere in Loyola Heights. We discovered it because it sits on the ground floor of Mom's condo. Since that time, they've branched out and now have stores in Mall of Asia, Sgt. Esguerra QC and on A. Mabini St. in San Juan, which is just a short drive from where we stay.

This is their first shop in Xavierville
(photo credit:

The popular Tiramisu!!!
It only comes in this size and costs Php 645
What I like about it is that they add the cocoa powder while you watch

This cake is best served with a hot cup of Batangas Brew
Love it!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Old Manila Walks : The Binondo WOK Tour

One of the many activities organized for our homecoming balikbayan batchmates was this. Old Manila Walks has been doing tours around Metro Manila (and out of town) since 2004. Our tour guide Ivan, took us around Binondo one fine Thursday morning at 930 and gave us a 3.5 hour tour that was both fun and satisfying to the tummy. I joined this specifically because of the food we were going to enjoy!

First stop was the historical Binondo Church, where the group met up and listened to Ivan give us a brief but very detailed and interesting history of Chinatown. Then it was off to do some walking.

Here's a detailed account of all of our stops:

1 - the last remaining tsinelas factory in Chinatown which still makes Kung Fu shoes, the kind we used to wear to school, yes! Also spotted some beaded slippers which my Lola loved to wear when she was s
till around.

2 - Cafe Mezzanine, Volunteer Fireman's Coffee Shop - owned by the same person who runs the famous hopia store, Eng Bee Tin. Our first "meal" was taken here. They served us Kiampong (a brown rice dish with peanuts) and suuuuuuuper delicious Fishball Soup.

That's our guide, Ivan in the background
See all those happy faces? Our tummies were full but this was only our first food stop!

3 - Dong Bei Dumpling - a hole in the wall on Yuchengco St. The place can probably fit in a maximum of 20 people (snugly). From the outside, you can already see a couple of girls working on those dumplings. It's an art, really.

I wonder how many of these they can do in one day

We were asked to try twokinds : Kuchay and Pork
The special sauce on the right side is similar to Gyoza sauce, minus the chili oil. We were told you can add chili oil of you love spicy sauces. They also sell these dumplings frozen. A couple of us took some home. For a pack of 31 pieces, you only have to shell out P200.00 That's the beauty of Chinatown for you. Super cheap food!
Dumpling cooking tip : they're best eaten BOILED, not steamed or fried. Drop them in a pot of boiling water and wait for them to float. That's when they're ready to eat.

4 - Special Siopao Stall along Benavidez St. - the siopao we were asked to try here had a nice twist to it. They're made to sit on a huge griddle so that the bottom part is slightly crispy. I honestly forgot what's inside it (not Asado or Bola Bola) but it was really really good. This stall sits right next to the famous Wai Ying Restaurant, which serves the best congee in Chinatown.

5 - Eng Bee Tin, the renowned makers of our favorite Chinese merienda, the Hopia. Here, we were allowed to try several other variants like Ube, Pandan and what not. I still prefer the traditional Baboy and Monggo though. My balikbayan batchmates had a field day filling their baskets with Eng Bee Tin to take home with them as pasalubong.

6 - Last stop! The Po Heng Lumpia House, which apparently is so popular. I had never been there before though. By this time, I was already bursting at the seams so I had to say no to the fresh lumpia they served us. But my friends made sure they still dug in.

This is what it looked like
Familiar? That's because you don't really have to go all the way to Binondo to get this. Whenever Neal craves for it, we drive to the DEC Chinese Store on Wilson Street, Greenhills.

The place looked like a huge cafeteria. It got so noisy the minute we walked in haha!

A couple more photos we took before the group adjourned at around 1pm

I promised my LA-based cousins that we would do this the next time they're in town. It's a totally different experience and a good diversion from the usual balikbayan itinerary of restaurant and mall-hopping.

Old Manila Walks also does the following tours:

San Miguel/Malacanang Palace
Chinese Cemetery
Far Eastern University (FEU) Campus

You can visit their Facebook page to see what else they have. I recently checked and saw an entry about a Pampanga Food and Culture tour. Now that's exciting too!

For those who are interested to know, the Binondo WOK Tour costs only P1,000 per head (inclusive of all the goodies you're going to eat). Just find a way to get to Binondo on your own and you're all set!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eastwood Mall's Basement Parking : a nightmare!!!

Our family has been going to Eastwood Mall almost every Sunday since it opened. My Dad lives in the area and so we have gotten so familiar with the place. I've noticed how lousy their basement parking is planned. It's really one big maze! I know that on special occasions (i.e., Mother's/Father's Day, Graduation season, Valentine's Day), it can get really crazy in that place but last night was a totally different story.

After having dinner and watching the John Ford Coley concert, we walked back to the car. It was rather late, around 1030pm, and the kids were tired and sleepy. When we got down to basement level 4 where our car was parked, we noticed that there was a queue of cars en route to the exit. There was nothing strange about that as we had seen it happen before. Things got really bad when we noticed we had been waiting inside the car for almost half an hour and we had hardly moved. There were more cars behind us by this time and we began to worry about the fumes. Luckily, the level we were on wasn't full so we were able to slowly maneuver the van into an empty parking slot. We decided it was best to park again and go back up to the mall to wait it out, rather than stay in the car where we knew we were in danger of suffocating. At this point, other cars around us started to do the same thing. Angrily, Neal approached a roving security guard and asked him what the hold up was all about. The guard told him that their system was down and there was no way for them to collect payment from exiting customers. WHAAAAAT???? So they would rather keep everyone hostage in the basement?!?! We were so irked by the guard's answer, to say the least!

After waiting for about 20 minutes, Neal and I decided to walk back down to check on the situation. The kids desperately wanted to go home. In the lift going down, there were two others with us who were attempting to do the same thing. When the elevator doors opened at basement 3, we were shocked to see that things had gotten worse. There were cars still stuck and the fumes were three times as bad. Up we went again and waited another 15-20 minutes. We then decided to go back a 2nd time to check. Still a no go. Finally on our 3rd attempt, everything was clear but by this time, we were all so tired and angry. I ended up letting out a mouthful at the guard and parking attendant by the exit. I received the lamest excuse on the planet : Ma'am, pasensya na kayo nagkataon lang po. To which I replied : Huwag mo kaming lokohin, nandito kami every weekend at alam namin na noon pa ito nangyayari. Sabihin niyo sa amo niyo huwag puro pera ang isipin. Papatayin niyo ang mga customer ninyo!!!

We were finally able to leave the place very close to midnight, our night semi-ruined by this terrible hassle which could have been handled properly by Eastwood Mall administration. difficult is it???

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kulasa Power --- Happy 25 Years, HS Batch 1986!

The past few days have been hectic, to say the least...

Sunday, February 6 --- Homecoming Day. I was in the salon as early as 10am to get my hair and make up done. Had a quick lunch at home then it was off to St. Scho' because call time was at 130pm. I would have to admit...I knew I would enjoy this day so much, but I totally underestimated myself. I HAD A BLAST. Mass started at 3pm and I did the First Reading and Responsorial Psalm. Good turnout from our batch, which was hosting this year. It was really, really nice seeing "old" faces, most of which I hadn't seen since we graduated from high school!

After the mass, we were each given our Benedictine medals

Afterwhich, it was off to St. Cecilia's Hall to get the program started!

I didn't get to watch some of the numbers presented by other celebrating batches but I was really impressed by the ones I was able to see. Our fellow Scholasticans obviously put a lot of work (and love) into their dances, same way my batchmates and I did. Being back in this auditorium brought back so many memories, especially of dance recitals I participated in. Being a member of the Dance Club my whole high school life, I was so used to performing on this very stage. But that night was different. I was SO excited and nervous at the same time! Despite the jitters though, it all turned out so well. We all had fun on stage and I was rather sad when the numbers ended.

Here we are doing the opening
number for the program.
The Madonna Medley

And then our 2nd number and the program's finale
The super fun 80's medley
(Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Just Got Lucky and Karma Chameleon)

It was really one HUGE party!!!

Thanks to all those who made this happen. My batchmates worked so hard to make sure this homecoming was a success. I'm so happy for the people who put in so much time, effort and love into this production. I'm already having withdrawals and starting to miss the Saturday dance practices. But I'm sure it doesn't end here. All the REAL fun of getting to know one another again is just about to start.

Cheers to High School Batch 1986!!!