Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just Conquered Anawangin!

I was planning on going to Anawangin since 2008. And it was only on Valentines' weekend of this year that I was finally able to see the beauty and mystery of the famous beach in San Antonio Zambales.

It was amazingly mysterious how the pine trees got to live in a not-so-cold climate such as the beach shores of Anawangin. You normally see these trees in Baguio while strolling around Camp John Hay, but to see such trees living in the hot beach sides of Anawangin is really a marvelous site. This is one of the major highlights of this cove, making it a talk-of-the-town among photgraphers and travelers.

When I saw it on February 13, it was no longer as mysterious as before. This is probably because a lot of campers have already discovered the beauty of Anawangin. People have already flocked the Pine-tree-rich cove. Campers and photographers hovered the vicinity, while avid sun bathers and swimmers gathered in the shores.

Well we can't blame them for coming because this is one of the very few quality beach destinations near Manila. If you want a good beach you need to travel by plane or by boat. But this one is just a 3-hour drive away, especially now that the SCTEX has been opened. Also, going to Anawangin is relatively cheap, with jsut a little over P2,000 as your budget, all in.

Of course I wouldn't want to waste the opportunity to take pictures of Anawangin's beauty. I took a few pictures using my handy NSLR (Not SLR):

Pine Trees!

Anawangin Stream

Bach Front

7-Eleven Anawangin Branch

The Anawangers: Emman, Paola, Maan, Grape, Joan, Me

The Anawangin Swamplands

A boatman rests under a very young pine tree

Happy campers under the pine trees

Boat ride to the Cove

Fine white sand, pine trees, urban legends. These are just few of the reasons why Anawangin Cove in San Antonio, Zambales is one destination hotspot in the country today. Thanks to Emman and his F21 Photography Club buddies for tagging us along and using us as subjects. Good choice pare! :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apostol's Newest Angel

Congratulations to Dondon and Ichi for a healthy, 8.6-pound bouncing baby boy! He sure is lucky he will be pampered, spoiled and loved by his happy lolos, lolas, titos and titas, and of course his ever-excited mommy and daddy!!! :)

We shall be named Joaquin Carmelo. And now, he is officially blogged. :)
Welcome to Earth, dear Deng, Jhun-jhun, Quito! Be good. :)

2010 Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Finally, I was able to witness the dazzling display of hot air balloons of different shapes and sizes taking flight in the 2010 Hot Air Balloon Fiesta held at Clark Air Field, Pampanga.

We left Manila at past 3am just to make sure that we witness the preparations and take off of the participating hot air balloons coming from all over the world. We were lucky to have arrived Clark a little past 5am amidst the traffic, and we got to see from outside the gate the sky diver carry the Philippine flag as the Philippine National Anthem played.

Maan gave us free two tickets since their company was one of the major sponsors of the event. Since we were four, we needed to get in the long line to buy two more tickets. We were lucky to have been sold two tickets while in line, and we entered the venue just in time. Teams were already preparing for flight!
Getting Ready for the Flight
As were approached the hanger, the balloons were already inflated, just awaiting final touches before take-off. Our photographer friends fired away, while I, along with my NSLR (Not an SLR) camera, took a few pictures myself. :)

The sight of these balloons taking flight was truly amazing. Balloons that looked like beer, a turtle, the sun, and many others hovered the air shortly after we arrived. Thank God for the lady who sold those tickets. If not for her, we would have witnessed only the paragliders and the stick dancers.

We took a short stroll of the airfield and took a few pictures of the planes and jeeps that were also on exhibit.

Pong Pagong: Weeeeeee!

The Beer Took Off Quite Earlier Than the Rest

I took a picture with a military man who could be a relative for he carries the Candelaria surname.
Taking the time off from work: Me, Grape, Maan, Paola

The early wake-up call was all worth it. And in this Valentine's weekend, our days was just beginning. At around 9am, we left Clark and headed to our next adventure, Anawangin Cove, Zambales. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MCLC 94: 16 Years Hence

Finally, after 16 years, achieved critical mass for a dinner cum reunion on February 6, 2010. 40% attendance is not bad for an attendance. Of the 34 graduates of Montessori Child Learning Center (now renamed to Maria Montessori School of Quezon City) batch 1994, the lucky 13 were present in this dinner. Below is the attendance (in no particular order):

1. Joseph Navarro
2. Pamela Martinez
3. Cristina Navarro
4. Jonessa Nidua-Go
5. Leima Kabigting-Pascual
6. Medea Belmonte-Herrera
7. Jervin Reyes
8. Diane Kuizon
9. Richard Santillan
10. Lee Aisser Juat
11. Maybelline Dy
12. Joey de los Santos
13. Azyleah Ignacio

It was good to see that we now have different careers and it seems that we were all excelling in each one's chosen fields. Even those that chose the most daunting career of motherhood seemed to be doing great!

Our jobs, professions, careers were diversely spread out. One is now into the legal field, another is into the academe, one is into interior design, into business, the medical field, information technology, personal finance. It's great to see how the foundation of the Montessori education (even if we sometimes deny it) greatly influenced these people's ways of life: at how we do things, and at how we take on life. From this small corner along Visayas Avenue, these former 13-year-olds are now beginning to take on the greater challenges in life, towards total world domination. And of course, they took the time off to sit together, eat good, healthy food, and share a few laughs.

Nomnomnom Happy Food in Tomas Morato was a warm and cozy place fit for the long updating of the 13 not-so-young men and women, who, after 14 years, were once again contained in the same room. This time, there's no Teacher or Principal to scold them despite being extremely noisy and, at times, standing. :) 7 Oleander and 6 Periwinkle pupils attended the event.

Food in Nomnomnom was branded as healthy, except of course for the cheap booze! This is one of the few places that serve hemp seeds in their food! I was fortunate to try their specialty, the Hamp Hemp Pesto Pasta, and also their "Shrooms," mushrooms with hemp. :) We also tried their pizza, fried ravioli and other pastas. Their food was okay; the type that will not make you feel bloated. It gives you just the right fullness.

Malinomnomnom Pizza (chorizo, tinapa, kesong puti, tomatoes)
Chicken Fingers
Nomnomnom's Happy Hemp Pesto Pasta

And now, the pictorials:

The Gorgeous Hunks: (Sitting)Richard, Aisser, (Standing) Joseph, Me, Joey

Pariwinkles in Black: Joseph, Aisser, Diane
Table 3: Pam, Tina, May
Table 2: Richard, Me, Joey, Azy
The Lovely Ladies: May, Medea, Diane, Tina, Pam, Leigh, Jo

Happy Food, Happy Group

Thanks for the 4++ hours of reminiscing, laughter, and life sharing guys! Sa uulitin!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Figaro Foundation's Harvest Tour 2010

KaAkbay Volunteers Batch 1 - 3

Philam KaAkbay Volunteers took the time off from their ultra-busy work schedules and their usual volunteer weekend and spent one Sunday just to pick coffee beans. Or what's left of them. In coordination with Figaro Foundation, We KaAkbay volunteers were able to experience harvesting coffee beans from a farm in Tagaytay City.

We started early on Sunday, January 31, 2010. At 7:45, after waiting for a few more participants to arrive at the rendezvous point, we departed Manila and headed towards Tagaytay. We arrived around 10:30, and we were welcomed by Figaro with a cup of coffee and some delicious revel bar.

After a short briefing, our group of around 53 volunteers were grouped into six teams and participated in the harvest game. The objective is to pick as many coffee beans as possible in just 40 minutes! We are not to pick just any bean we find, but instead we have to look for bright red beans ripe enough for the picking. Our guide, Joed Alcid of the Figaro Foundation, told us that we are not supposed to pick green beans because if they blend with the red ones and get roasted, the beans would taste acrid. Word for the day: Acrid (mapakla). :)

Bean Sightings

After 40 minutes of fun bean-picking, the caretaker chose the best harvest of all 6 teams. The second group won after a very close contest. Group two won the special grand prize, a Figaro high-grade coffee mug! :)

We had lunch at Gourmet's Cafe,still in Tagaytay. After lunch, we took a short tour of the Gourmet's farm, where we saw a vast farmland full of herbs, spices, and lettuce!

Special thanks to Figaro Foundation for the fun and educational harvest tour.

Picture, picture!

Coffee Beans Waiting to be Picked

Beans Carefully and Scientifically Hand-picked

Searching for the Right Ripe

Team to Beat: Team 3 with Batch 1 Valedictorian, Mr. Adam Amosco (4th from Right)

Red= Ripe. Green=Acrid. Black=Ants. Ouch.

Awaiting the Announcement of the Winning Team

Team 3's Harvest

While Waiting for Lunch: Actuarial/LPC Hang Time

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tao Yuan: Manila's Best Kept Secret

One good food recommendation I got from my officemate Paola was Tao Yuan, a Singaporean-Chinese Restaurant in Malvar St., Malate. I've eaten here three times now: The first time in December, when I asked Bubbles to try this out after a loooong day of overtime from her work. The second was when we KaAkbay Philam volunteers went out for PIACCSI volunteers' despidida of Manila. The third was last Sunday with my parents. :)

The place looked a bit pricey because of its facade, with all the fresh fish in front of the restaurant. Thay have lapu-lapu, shrimps, crabs, stonefish, and even lobsters! My boss once mentioned that if you want to know a Chinese Restaurant's price, look at the facade. If it's full of fresh live fish, it's quite expensive. :)

But to my surprise, Tao Yuan's price is not too expensive. Well, it's not cheap, but priced just right. This is really where we experience true value for money, because of all the times I went there, I was always satisfied. From the food taste, to the customer service, to the comfy toilet, to the ambience.

A lot of freebies await! For starter, they will give you peanuts boiled in soy, I think. Then they serve you Jasmine Tea while you await your main dish. After your sumptuous meal, they will give you complimentary desserts of Almond Jelly or Melon Tapioca. Wow! Service at its best.

I got to meet one of the managers (probably part owner) of the place, Mr. Benny Tan. He was very accommodating and friendly. He even suggests some dishes to try out and all his suggestions were fantastic!

One of my favorites there was their Singaporean Spareribs and their version of the Char Kuey Tiao, the famous Singaporean noodles. They also serve dimsum. Just ask for the dimsum menu.

Free Appetizer: Peanuts!
Char Kuey Tiao - My personal favorite

Mango Fish Fillet
Tao Yuan Seafood Fried Rice
Singaporead Spareribs

Hainanese Chicken - Best Seller

Others in the menu are Singaporean favorites like Curry dishes, Sambal Prawns, Bahkuteh, and Sambal Crabs. I was also able to try their Steamed Fish Fillet with Garlic, Sichuan Style Beef, and their dimsum Siomai, Squid and Shrimp Dumpling, and Ham Soy Kok.

Of course we needed to complete the package with an authentically Chinese alcoholic beverage, Tsing Tao Beer!

Tsing Tao!
The very satisfied Philam KaAkbay Volunteers: (L-R) Benay, Jason, Jaja, Elaine, Me, Joanne, Paola

I'm sure I'll come back to try the other dishes!

Tao Yuan Restaurant
Malvar St., Malate, Manila