Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Historic Symbols of UP Diliman: UP Carillon

Going to UP Diliman is like taking a walk into its historic past. No other structure can symbolize UP more (other than the Oblation) than the towering 130 feet carillon.

The UP carillon consists of 36 newly installed stationary bells that are sounded off using a computerized mechanism. The sound, marks off each hour of the day and plays music every 5pm.

The initial bell carillon was inaugurated in 1952 by then President Elpidio Quirino. It was built under the supervision of renowned architect and National Artist (1973), Juan Napkil.

Forty six bells were initially installed, with the largest bell weighing five tons. This was recently replaced by thirty six new bells that can be played automatically at pre-set hours.

Recently, I had the chance to visit this historic symbol and noted the changes that were made over the years. It looks better now and the ringing of the bells at 3pm (the time I was there) was uplifting and glorious.

One of the donors, former Mayor Jejomar Binay

There is just one addition  that made us (daughter and I) aware of present realities. At the bottom part of the structure were the spiked adverts of its donors --- one of them was there in bold print, and cast in stone: Jejomar Binay, Mayor of Makati!

Political realities can sometimes be amusing!

Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
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Ang Bahay ng Alumni at UP, Diliman

Many articles have been written about the quaint little restaurants at the Bahay ng Alumni in UP. My daughter and I though, have not been there, since we always go to the Dilimall to have our choices of cuisine ---either Japanese, Chinese, and Pinoy.

We have no problem with that until recently, when we became more adventurous to try new things. After having our fill from the restos in Masagana Street, we decided to try another eating venue at UP's---Ang Bahay ng Alumni.

There are three restaurants on the site that were all opened at that time (around lunch time). We looked at the place, menu, and the price --- if we can afford it. The prices were affordable: not that high, but not that low either.

The three restos have iconic names: Art Circle Cafe, Chocolate Kiss Cafe, and ROC. We choose the latter, since there were not so many diners as the others, and it looked quaint enough for the daughter and me.

The ROC at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni, UP Diliman

We choose to have their menu for the day: green salad and squash soup. Nothing heavy since we have already dined in two other places in Masagana Street. When our orders arrived, we got surprised with the size of the salad plate. It was good for two to three persons.

Green Salad at ROC

Additionally, the soup too was served in a large bowl that was good enough for both of us.The salad was really fantastic! We like the combination of spices and greens, and with a dash of Olive oil. Notwithstanding, the squash soup, did not taste anything like squash, but of a superb soup concoction that must have been painstakingly put together.

Squash Soup with Spicy Biscuit at ROC
What can I say? It was a marvelous meal! We are tempted to go back some time in the future to partake of that wondrous cuisine again.

A bust of the Inang Bayan keeps watch of the place

Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer Journal
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Food Trek to Maginhawa Street of UP Diliman

Maginhawa Street, UP Diliman

Food trek to UP Diliman's, Maginhawa Street

Some of the best dishes can be found in the nooks and cranny of the city like the Maginhawa Street of UP Diliman. UP or the University of the Philippines, is the country's premier university, where you can find the best brains in the country. Most public administrators and politicians come from the august halls of this academe.

It has been bruited about that the university has been transformed into an institution for the middle class; that, it is no longer for  indigent and impoverished students, but for those belonging to the middle and upper strata of society. Hence, it is not unusual to see students having their own cars in going to their respective colleges; or living in nearby condominiums and plush residences on Kalayaan Street.

Maginhawa Street, UP Diliman

Among the iconic places that you can find within the campus is in Maginhawa Street, where food choices abound. It is peopled mostly by students and employees from the nearby offices who are always in the lookout for a good treat. The prices are not as cheap as those found in the Dilimall Cafeteria, but not as expensive as those in the high end places, either.

My daughter and I decided to have a food trip in some restaurants found in the area before the onslaught of Typhoon Mario. I am glad that we did, since we were able to partake of a number of delectable dishes that can only be found in those places. Among those are as follows:

Toasted Ravioli at Fruilli Tratoria


At around noontime, the site was packed with customers. The place can only accommodate from 50 to 70 customers at any given time on the ground floor level. As the name implies, they are more into Italian cuisine. The choices were many, but we decided on trying---Toasted Ravioli and their best seller, Pizza Margheritta.

Best seller, Pizza Margheritta at Fruilli Tratoria

What can I say? The toasted ravioli is really toasted brown and goes well with the lightly seasoned salsa. It has a piquant taste and, I believe, it can go well with a nice cool drink of root beer. The Pizza Margheritta, is thin crusted with a few heapings of cheese and tomatoes. It tastes different than the usual Shakeys and Greenwich Pizza, since it is served simply ---for a purer and distinct Italian taste.

Churros with Chocolate at Sancho Churreria


We wanted to try something sweet after having a fill from the Fruilli Tratoria. We decided to have churros dipped in chocos and a slice of their chocolate cake. The churros were nicely fried and not at all oily. The chocolate dipping was rich and full-flavored. I can say that it can be a meal on its own. The slice of chocolate cake is comparable to the ones in Joni's and Goldilocks. Like the Tratoria, the place was likewise filled with people --- mostly from the younger set.

Books galore at BooksUkay at Masagana Street


Nope, this is not another eating place. It is a hole in the wall store that is filled with books --- from arts to history and architecture. It is near the Tratoria and we scanned the shelves for some good books. It is always a great adventure to go to a small bookstore, where you can find gems at a fraction of a cost. However, since this stall is within the compounds of UP, Diliman --- all noteworthy books cost the kind of money that only the uber-rich can afford. We might have to try other venues that are cheaper than this store.

The University of the Philippines Carrilon


There are many places of interests that we can all go to. It takes a roving eye and a zest for adventure, for us to find them. It helps greatly if we can go to these places with friends and family. We multiply the fun if we share it with people that we care about.

Savoring something new, every now is then, is what life is all about. As they say, it is not a life's destination which counts, but the various stopovers that we make along the way.

Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
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Thursday, September 11, 2014


Flyer of the store in Pilar Village, Las Pinas City


Pan de Sal is an iconic Filipino (Pinoy) bread that you eat for breakfast and can be dipped in either hot coco or barako coffee. It is best eaten hot with a whipping of strawberry jam, peanut butter, or coco jam.

No amount of western influence could make any Pinoy change his ways regarding Pandesal. It is his way of life, and no life change is going to make him do away with it. It used to be fist-sized during my time, but has shrunk miserably to a about three by two inches today.

Due to changes in consumer preferences, several businessmen introduced additives that they hope would bring in more sales. A new outlet in the subdivision near my place is a hole-in-the-wall Panaderia (bakery) named, Shane Malunggay Hot Pan de Sal.

Steaming hot pandesal fresh from the oven

Malunggay is otherwise known as Moringa, a leafy vegetable that is rich in protein, vitamins A, B, C and other minerals. It is a staple in the Pinoy diet, from the poorest of households to the upper middle class.

Since both malunggay and pandesal are known to local consumers, what could be a better mix than to have these two together? Hence, Shane Malungay Hot Pandesal was born in a subdivision near my place.

You can buy it straight from the oven, from 4am to 10 am; and again, from 2 pm onwards. It is soft as it is baked fresh every day and comes cheap at P2 pesos per piece. It is best eaten hot, with a dash of butter and with a steaming cup of hot cocoa, coffee, or tea.

Pandesal with Moringa (malunggay)

The only drawback that I have with the place, is the thin paper bag that they used for packing. It is too thin and fragile, that my pandesal popped out of the bottom, when I least expected it.

The girl manning the store said that sales have not been good lately. I can only surmise that even with a strong product, if customer needs are not met (like seeing her newly bought pandesal popping out of their packaging), there will be little repeat sales to dream about.

Little things like that could make a big difference to buyers on whether they still want to do business with you or not.

My one cent...


Only in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Massage for Less, Metropolis, Muntinlupa City

 Massage for Less at Metropolis, Muntinlupa City

A friend once asked me if I wanted to go with her to a massage parlor. I said no since I am not used to other people invading my precious territory --- which is my body. Heheh!

I have a secret to share...I get tickled easily. I am certain that once the massage attendant starts to pounce and roll on my body parts, I will laugh and roll till thy kingdom come.

Hence, I am not a target client of any massage parlor. Not by a long shot. It would be like asking the devil himself to go roll it out with the angels. It just wouldn't work.

However, there was a flyer given to me some months back about a massage chair. It was a bulky-looking contraption that wiggles and moves your body from head to toe. It looked ok and I would be honest to admit, that I liked it.

But the price stunned me! It costs P65,000! Never in my life would I sink my few precious peso on anything whimsical, such as a massage chair. I would rather buy three cows with that money and ride on it till perdition. Lol!

The other week, I saw these same chairs in the Metropolis. It was rented out at P10 and P25 for 5 to 10 minutes by Massage for Less. I am not sure about the number of minutes, but I tried it out --- being tired of walking around the mall.

I have to pay extra P5 for the socks, and there I was comfortably seated on that bulky contraption. It was a nice experience, all over again. It made me relax without being tickled pink. The pains in my legs and back were gone after my time was up.

I hope these massage chairs can be found in other malls, like in the nearby Southmall. It is relaxing and would not punch your pockets dry, for a few minutes of wondrous time.


Onli in da Pilipins: A writer's Journal
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Mr. KIMBOB Food Stall-Southmall, Las Pinas

Mr. Kimbob Stall at Southmall, Las Pinas
Mr. KIMBOB is a fast food stall in Southmall, Las Pinas that fast food diners can try out. It boasts of Korean-inspired dishes, and you can have a pick of either meats, veggies, or a combination of both.

As a resident of the area, I am always at the mall either to buy some stuff in the supermarket or to have my devices (computer, cell phone, and camera) repaired. It also has a C-D-R King outlet where I  buy my USB, monitor, and other techie knick knacks.

I came upon Mr. KIMBOB today, to try out their Korean dishes. I have been a loyal customer of KIMCHI, a Korean fast food joint, that have folded up several years ago. I always liked Kimchi's chicken/squid barbeque and beef broth whenever I am at the mall. This order always comes with  a heaping of kimchi to add spice to the dish, and it's yummy!.

Mr. Kimbob's Chicken meal that looks like a Chinese sweet and sour dish

So, eager-beaver, I ordered a Chicken dish with veggies on this new Korean food stall. KIMCHI used to served this meal with spicy mongo sprout, and it was never oily. Nonetheless, what I ordered had carrots and slivers of cabbage instead of mongo sprout. I would have thought, that the manner of cooking would be the same and taste the same too.

But I was wrong. When I got what I ordered, I was surprised that it looked like the sweet and sour variation of a Chinese lauriat. The meat and veggies were oily. Had it not been in the name of the store, I would have no reservation that this was a sweet-sour thingie that is served in many Filipino/Chinese joints.

You cannot judge a store by a single product, so they say. But you cannot also fool a customer by saying that you are what you are, when you are not. 

Will I go back?

Nope, you have lost me there Mr. KIMBOB. I suggest for you to come up with fewer choices of meals and only concentrate on authentic Korean dishes. That would make you stand out. You can fool some people once. But twice?

Ah, nada! I better go try Teppanyaki next time. :D


Only in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tim Ho Wan Restaurant, SM Megamall, Metro Manila

Tim Ho Wan Restaurant, SM Megamall waiting area
The other day, my daughter called up for us to try the newly opened Michelin (1 star) rated restaurant, the Tim Ho Wan, in SM Megamall. It was bruited about as the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in

So, as writers who have the nose for anything new, more so if it is cheap, my daughter and I headed to the site for brunch. We agreed that it is better to be there by past lunch time so the queue would be shorter and more manageable.

Restaurant Staff manning the queue

We were wrong. At past 1pm the queue was still long. However, the placement of customers was fast, so we got seated right away. The place is small as compared to other restaurants  and can only accommodate around 50 diners.

Customers wait patiently to be served

When we looked at the menu, we found not that many choices---as compared to other local restaurants. However, for a Michelin* restaurant, the prices were indeed cheap, ranging from P120 to less than P200 pesos. If there were cuisines higher than P200, I may have failed to notice it. It is not dirt cheap, but it does not cost an arm or a leg either.

We were surprised with the prices. They come cheap and affordable!

We ordered shrimp and shrimp/pork dim sum, fried lumpia wrapped pork, carrot cake, and baked buns with barbecued pork. We had oolong tea to wash away the myriad taste as we savor each and every cuisine. What can I say?  Oh, heavenly! The food has a distinct piquant taste that makes it as one gustatory delight!

Dining area where people from all walks of life congregate

The baked buns with barbecued pork was crispy on the outside, but yummy on the inside. The buns were thin and the barbecued filling was filled to the brim. It has a distinctive flavor that I have not tasted yet in any of the Chinese restaurants in Metro Manila.

Buns with barbecued pork! Oh, heavenly!

The dim sums that we tried--- shrimp and shrimp/pork combination were tops. The queue that we have to endure  was well worth it; and the three hour travel just to reach the place, is something that I will do again just to partake of those sumptuous delights.

What are you waiting for? Go and try it yourself!  :D

yummy filling of the buns

Oolong Tea, Shrimp dimsum and fried wanton with pork/shrimp fillings

Fried shrimp rolls with pork filling

Pork/shrimp dimsum

Carrot pudding


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