Monday, April 30, 2012

Missing the Countrysides

My life was a constant interplay between the city and countrysides.

The first thirteen years of my life was spent in the city. We lived at the heart of Cubao in Quezon City, a mere 10 minutes walk to the Araneta Center and literally across the main thoroughfare leading to Manila C.O.D where my mother worked and close by where there was Ali Mall, Fiesta Carnival, the Marikina Shoe Expo the old Savory and Tom Sawyer's restaurant and the rest of 70s-80s Cubao still imprinted in my memory.

I literally grew up roaming around the department where everyone knew me. I think this was the reason why - apart from women's general tendency to be drawn to malls and shopping (or window shopping), I feel so at home at any mall and department store until this very date. But that is another story.

I took this picture when we went home last December 2011.
This was taken the Rizal-Laguna border while driving past the Manila East Road Highway that overlooks Laguna de Bay.

We moved to the country sides when I was about to enter Sophomore high school and lived there throughout my college and post grad years when I started working in Makati.

I loved the country sides then and I still love it now. There is a sense of peace stepping outside your home, be able to breathe fresh air and just stare underneath the sky and hope to see a shooting star or look at the constellations.  I miss walking outside our home these time with our children in tow and simply enjoy hours of togetherness while communing with nature.

I wish the rice paddies of Laguna will stay that way forever
and not pave the way for urban monstrosities someday.

Our Hometown in Rizal
Taken on early New Year's Day morning of 2012

Been missing it in the middle of a life surrounded by highrise buildings and glaring city lights.

And I guess, I am missing -- looking -- for something far more than just the countryside itself.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Not Your Ordinary Ice Cream

Udders is not your not your ordinary ice cream parlor -- here, the ice cream comes with boost of booze! Yes, you read it right!

Menu Board at Udders Novena Branch
Located along the perimeter of Goldhill Plaza in Novena is an obscure-looking shop called Udders. In daylight, it looked like any other hole in the wall parlor but come night fall, this little corner comes alive!

On a first glance at their menu board, you would actually think you are in a bar than an ice cream shop. But there is actually more than meets the eye... Udders boast of making their own ice cream from milk as fresh like it come out straight from the... well, the udders! Their flavors are then laced with Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Cognac or liquer and other poison of your choice. You get the drift.

For first timers, you will never go wrong by trying their best seller range. I tried Bailey's and Bourbon. It's a vanilla flavor based ice cream with Irish Cream and bourbon. This flavor has the right balance of ice cream sweetness and the subtle dose of zing that you can expect from Bailey's.

Photo From Udders Website

Photo From Udders Website
Hubby tried Rum Rum Raisin. I sampled a spoonful and it does pack twice as much punch! Their other best seller include Tira-mis-u that comes with brandy and cognac and Orange Choc Bitters that are generously spiced with orange liquers.

Not to worry for the young one's... if you are bringing children, they have classic and premium ice cream flavors without the euphoric inducements. We brought along Kevin and Kyla with us and they get to have their usual strawberry and chocolate ice cream. If you want to enjoy your ice cream in their shop, you can order to have in a crispy waffle cone, sundae style or on top of belgian style waffles.

At night time, Udders come fully alive!
These was taken at 8PM but a few hours from now, the side walk will be
lined with plastic stools and tables for their customers.

note by the blogger: this is not a paid advertisement

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Craving for Napoleones

I wrote this blog sometime in August 2010 but never got to post it because I was not to take a picture of my boxful of Napoleones. We devoured it before I realized I need a picture. So here it is... my favorite Pinoy pastry.

The Napoleones pastry was featured on the cover of a food magazine in Philippines. The pastry looked so inviting and heavenly I really had to sink my teeth into one! I realized it wasn't easy finding one in Laguna, being a Bacolod specialty.

Credits: Picture from Foodie Manila

Napoleones is a made from puff pastry with custard filling and topped with white frosting. It comes in small square sizes usually sold in boxes. Napoleones has this crunchy sensation from the layered puff then a soft, creamy and sweet taste from the custard cream filling and sugar glaze. Those who had a taste of napoleones could attest to its mouth watering taste, with just the right creaminess and sweetness.

I read from food blogger Kai  that napoleones possibly was adapted from the napoleon, which is how the French pastry mille-fuille (a thousand leaves) is called outside of France, which in turn is claimed to have originated from Naples in Italy, thus the name. Thus we can surmise that napoleones is indeed a Italian delicacy adopted in Negros. Theory has it that it’s probably introduced by one of the Gaston patriach  who originated from France, married a Filipina and settled in Negros Occidental. This is why authentic napoleones can only be bought and shipped from Negros to Manila.

Back to my napoleones craving...

I had to really hound Mommy J and Geh to death for the next two months or so to help me find napoleones! Finally redemption came when beautiful Geh found napoleones in Roli's which has a booth somewhere in SM Megamall. A box of 12 cost about 200 bucks. Forgive me for my selfishness but since I only get to buy a dozen, I had to save it for the hubby and the kids so we can enjoy them at home. And so despite my 2 cups a day coffee limit, hubby and I decided to indulge with an early evening coffee and relish the sweet, flaky and creamy goodness of napoleones!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sawasdee... Phuket! (Holiday Inn Phuket)

We finally made it back on track for our travel masterplan.
This summer of 2012: Phuket!

There are many interesting places in Thailand to explore for a vacation. Truth to tell, Koh Samui was my first choice, based from a friend's recommendation. But in between capacity plans, inventory and history-telling of why we are where we are, I ran out of time to plan for Samui and Phuket was an easier deal to pull together. So Phuket it is. There is always time for Samui.

The city on the horizon is the heart of Phuket

It is the kids' first time to travel to Thailand so Kyla was so looking forward to it, especially when she saw pictures of its breathtaking beaches. We arrived at Phuket on a clear, sunny day.

I decided we will travel in nautical theme and this is why everyone is wearing stripes!

It was my first time to visit Phuket and I didn't expect that the resort-hotels were actually in the heart of a busy city. I did wonder where on earth was the beach in the middle of busy streets dotted with hotels, resorts and commercial establishments?

We stayed in Holiday Inn Resort. I was expecting this to be on a beachfront. Apparently, Patong Beach was literally just across the road. We hit the beach in late afternoon after enjoying a poolside lunch and exploring around the resort.

Knowing me, I like the beach but not the UV rays. And someone had to take pictures.

Kyla and Me

Kyla's first order of business was to collect sea shells.

In our second day, we took the Phi Phi island hopping tour. To enjoy Phuket and its beaches, it is recommended to try the island hop tours. You can inquire this directly at the hotel since most tour companies partner with the hotels to get a bigger client base.

There were various island package tours to choose from (Panga Bay tour which include the famous James Bond island, Sumilon Islands tour). It's nearly an hour travel from resort to the Boat Lagoon Station where the speed boats and yachts are docked, and it is another hour going to the island.

What a relief that no one got seasick on the way!

Boat Lagoon

Welcome Aboard!

The boat docked at Pileh Cove and we had a good 30 minutes to swim and take pictures around the paradise-looking island. Reminds me of our very own breathtaking beaches in Palawan and Boracay.

At Loh Samah Bay, you can simply jump off the boat and snorkel while fishes feed on your hair!

This is the Viking Cove

This is not Alvin, but this was the closest shot I can get to show the fishes just beneath the surface of the water!

We headed back to the Phi Phi Don mainland for a buffet lunch which was served in this spacious open air pavillion run by the locals. I learned that this island was hit hard in the tsunami that hit Thailand in mid-2000s and through the persevering spirit of the locals, they were able to rebuild back and restore livelihood for the islanders in due time.

Heading for Lunch

Phi Phi Mainland's Picturesque View

Last stop was Bamboo island where we spent the rest of the afternoon. In constrast to Pileh Cove where the waters are jade green, Bamboo island have crystal blue waters.

Getting ready to hit the waters at Bamboo Island

 Kyla did her own version of what I call as shore-keling ...

Kyla excitedly told me she saw a Bumble-Bee colored fish.
Kids can snorkel at the shoreline where they can find little fishes

... while Kevin and Dad bonds in the sea.

I consider Thai food as one of the best Asian cuisine so I definitely looked forward to dinner.
Holiday Inn has an impressive themed buffet spread and kids get to eat free! Their theme varies from day to day so that you won't get tired of seeing the same set every dinner. In our second night, they had a Thai buffet dinner.

Well, it was short but sweet.
Vacations and getaways are never long enough but thankfully, we had some time to bond together and enjoy these precious moments in life....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


April 2 is the World Autism Awareness Day. This is the 3rd year in a row that I wrote a blog in honor of this special week.

I saw this picture in the Austism Society of the Philippines Facebook page and I couldn't help but be moved. It is one of the most beautiful picture I've ever seen.

Kevin knows Jesus. He knows he must pray to Him everynight before he falls asleep. If I am still working and he wants to go to sleep, he will call our attention so that we can pray with him. In his room, a framed cross-stitched portrait of Jesus and Mama Mary overlooks his bed.

I sometimes imagine Kevin, pensively sitting by his favorite nook overlooking the window, smiling and content... and I know in those moments, he is not alone.

The world believes that these children are wrapped up in their so-called "own little world," disconnected to the rest of their environment with their minds enveloped by nothingness.

I know in my heart, he is not alone in his thoughts. He is never alone. Just like the picture, I know that Jesus is always there  beside Kevin, looking over him with His loving eyes. His arms protecting our child and assuring him that they will be together in eternity. 

And this picture was exactly how my mind saw it. It was perfect.