Wednesday, March 28, 2012

December 2011: Soe, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia: The travel

It was close to Christmas last year when I was asked to visit Indonesia to facilitate a workshop for our Indonesian colleagues.  It was almost Christmas break and I had qualms travelling- I have yet to do my Christmas shopping and I will be missing a number of mini-reunions and Christmas gatherings. But then again, how can I say no to travels?

The workshop was be held in Bali but before the workshop, I had to go to our office in Soe to meet with some staff and visit some communities, to get more input for the workshop. Then, I had to come back to Bali. From Manila, I flew SQ to Singapore, then took the SQ connecting flight to Bali, Indonesia.  Travel time was almost 7 hours, excluding layover. I stayed overnight in Bali.The next day , it was another 2 hours flight to Kupang via Garuda Indonesia.  From Kupang, we had to travel another 110 kilometers of winding road by car to Soe. I got tired just thinking about it.

In Kupang airport, my Indonesian colleague, who was supposed to be in the same flight, was nowhere to be found. I tried to recall her picture (we have not met yet) as I searched through foreign faces.  Nada. I grew frantic and called our Indonesian office, who in turn gave me numbers of some colleagues in Soe.  When almost everybody else was out of the airport, I saw somebody running from outside, holding a paper with my name.  As it is, she ran to the exit of the airport as soon as we got out of the plane, held the paper there and waited for me to go out. I, on the other hand, was looking for her inside the airport.  Some luck.:)

The driver from our Soe office was waiting outside for us and I settled comfortably at the front seat.  It was a tortuous ride up the mountains - with never ending bends and turns- but I thank God for bonamine :).  The road, though, was surprisingly well constructed.  

After some 3 hours, we reached Soe. Finally.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thai Massage in the Philippines

The past years has seen the growth of the spa industry in the major cities in the Philippines. These spas offer different varieties of massage, which has overshadowed "hilot" or the traditional Filipino massage.

One of the more famous massage is the Thai Massage, or Nuad Phaen Boran. Thai Massage is sometimes called yoga massage. Usually done on a padded mat on the floor, the masseur uses his/her hands, elbows, knees, legs, and feet to apply rhythmic pressure. There is also a lot of stretching involved which deeply relaxes and revitalizes the body.

Over the weekend, I have visited one called Nuat Thai located in Valleyfair Building in Taytay. Nuat Thai has many branches in Metro Manila, either company owned or franchised from the Nuat Thai mother company in Cebu. But I noticed that their rates are not standardized , with the Taytay branch being more pricey than the Nuat Thai in Quezon City.

My favorite Thai Massage Center , though, remains to be Tha-Tong, in Davao. Their masseurs are really good- and well-trained by a Thai massage professional. I hope they bring their services to Metro Manila soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

And Pacquiao Wins...

If you ask any Filipino who among all the personalities is best able to unite this politically-torn country, they would have a synonymous answer: it's Manny Pacquiao. Amidst the never ending political turmoil, every Filipino, regardless of political affiliation, unite behind him whenever he has a fight.

Pacquiao is acknowledged as one of the best boxers the Philippines has ever produced. Today, he has proven it again as he won over the legendary Oscar de la Hoya.

Before the fight, there were many who doubted if Pacquiao would indeed make it. Nevertheless, Filipinos supported him. Win or lose. And they were not wrong, Pacquiao made de la Hoya surrender after the 8th round.

The Pacquio-de la Hoya bout, I would say, was not as exciting as I expected it to be. It was one sided, with Pacquiao doing all the offensive moves, and de la Hoya hardly throwing his punch. De la Hoya seemed to be out of his element, for some reason. Whatever the reason is, it was Pacquiao's speed and strength that prevailed. But of course his coach and trainor, Roach, was to be given credit for the win.

I am not a boxing afficionado, nor am I a Pacquiao fan personally but I do watch his fights whenever I can because he is one man who makes this country proud in the profession he has chosen.

My congratulations to Manny Pacquiao.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Paskong Pinoy 2008

Paskong Pinoy means the Filipino way of celebrating Christmas. I think we're one of the most excited bunch over Christmas (not sure if it has something to do with us being mostly Catholics in this country).

Usually, radio stations would already start playing Christmas songs as early as the first "ber" month. By October, malls would go on sale and many people will already be rushing to the mall to start "hoarding" Christmas give aways. By November, malls would start getting crowded. In December, going to the mall becomes a very inconvenient thing to do, as they are already very, very crowded, there would be very, very long queue at the counters and traffic at the malls is usually very,very bad.


It already is December and malls had been going on sale since October. Yet, there are still very few people going shopping (compared to the past years). I went to do some Christmas shopping today, and was really surprised to see no lines at the counters. It felt weird, today being a Saturday, and the shops being on sale at that .

All the media, be it TV, radio, newspaper or internet, have been talking about global recession that it has practically became a buzzword. Yet, hearing or reading about it, is different than actually seeing it happen. Economists talk about the decline in purchasing power, yet this simple experience at the mall has helped me realized that indeed, recession will happen, if it hasnt happened yet.

And we see it even in the neighborhood. Where before, all the families put up Christmas lights, now, 50% of the families in our street did not , to save on electricity cost.

While it is good to note that people are finding ways to cope, and are actually learning the value of saving and conserving, the thought of recession is becoming "the Grinch", threatening to steal our Christmas.

But then again, there are other ways we celebrate Paskong Pinoy. Being together even for a very simple Noche Buena already spells Christmas for us. Sans the material things, what matters most for Filipinos is to be with the family during this season.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hap Chan: Latest Addition to the Restaurants in Antipolo

After a gruelling 8-hour-team-meeting-day at our new office in Antipolo, me and my business partners decided to wind down before heading for home. We looked for a place to had dinner together, and we found a new place: Hap Chan Tea House.

It is located along Circumferential Road, at Gems Resort and Conference Center. It is right across Max's. The place has just recently opened, and it looks very new. Service is also very good, and with unlimited serving of house tea.

Hap Chan is a Hongkong tea house, serving Hongkong/Chinese food. I love their Yang Chao rice (Php145 per serving, good for 2-3 people). And since I love being healthy sometimes, another favorite is the fish with tofu.:-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Resto Review: Marina (Trinoma)

Love seafoods? Love authentic Filipino food? Try Marina. Marina serves homegrown Ilonggo food, and I'd say they will give you a run for your money.

It was my brother's birthday yesterday, and as part of the celebration, the family (along with my other brother's family and in-laws - talk about Filipino concept of family :-) ) met at Trinoma Mall for lunch.

We tried Marina, located at the ground floor of Trinoma mall, and we just loved the food.

For appetizer, we tried their Crispy Crablet. They served us very fresh, and fleshy crablets. A little bit spicy, but very yummy.

I highly recommend their Seafood Kare-kare. It is a different version of the regular kare-kare, but personally, this is much better. It has crabs, shrimp, fish, and squid in it. An order would cost Php280.

Pork Sisig is another favorite. Very crispy, a bit spicy, and very tasty. For only Php199.00.

For noodles, we have tried Bam-I, cooked with shrimp, squid and vegetables. Yum.The family also loved their grilled squid, which was cooked just right.

Marina offers various set meals for group diners. We placed 2 orders of Set C, a set meal for groups of 6. For a little over a thousand pesos per order, you get Set C, composed of the following: crispy crablets, sinigang na isda (fish with sour soup), lechon kawali, inihaw na pusit (grilled squid), bam-I (noodles), 6 glasses of iced tea and rice. We just added pork sisig and seafood kare-kare.

Marina prices their goodies very reasonably. There were 10 of us, and we paid only Php2,900. For that generous serving and great taste, I'd say, you really get value for your money.

Oh, by the way, they also offer buffet merienda con lunch. It's an eat-all-you-can treat for only P99.00 from 2pm to 5 pm. Will surely try it one of these days :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cebu and a Piece of History

One of the biggest metropolis in the Philippines, Cebu is very accessible to local and foreign tourists. It has an international airport, and Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific fly to and from Cebu several times in a day.

Despite being a metropolis, it has maintained “balance”. It is a mixture of the laid back country lifestyle, and a buzzing city life. It has all the amenities of a city – big malls, big hotels, night life, and a whole array of eating places, yet the pace remains "country"-like, which is part of its charm.

I was there on a business trip, and managed to find sometime to explore the place. We stayed at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu hotel and I would say that the level of service that they provide, remains consistently high. The place is very cozy, although a bit far from the center of the city. They have a nice pool, jacuzzi, a cozy lounge and a spacious guest rooms. We likewise hosted a cocktail in the same hotel- and their service was perfect, as always!

On different nights, we tried the different dining places and our favorite, and I would recommend you to try, are Alavars and Golden Cowrie both located along Salinas Road. If you love grills, try AA Barbeque, where the price is very reasonable and the food is really good.

I also recommend you to try the spas in Cebu, not only are they good, but price is a lot less than what it costs in Manila. We tried Royal Spa along Salinas Road, and for PhP350, we got 1 1/2 hours of full body massage and 1 hour of foot spa. What a treat!

We found a bit of time to explore the city after all our meetings and workshops. We visited the Taoist Temple .It is located inside Beverly Hills. Here is where the Taosists (mostly Chinese) go to worship their God. It is a beautiful and serene place to visit. And I'd say, it felt like China in there. :-)

Next place we visited is an old church originally built in the 1500s (but the present structure was built in the 1700s), the Basilica de Sto. Nino. It has this very beautiful , antique, “golden” altar, which houses the different images of saints. It was difficult to take pictures though because it was a Sunday and the church was very crowded. After praying, we went to light some candles outside.

We then went to the kiosk outside the Basilica, which houses the cross that Magellan planted in the 1500s (the place is simply called "Magellan's Cross"). Magellan, who was the first European to come to the Philippines in 1521, made friends with Rajah Humabon, who was then the ruler of Cebu. They became friends and Rajah Humabon and his tribe converted to Catholicism. The cross was planted to symbolize the significance of this event. The original cross is now encased in a tindalo wood to protect it from people who chip it away for souvenirs.While in the kiosk, you would observe a number of old ladies performing rituals, which ranges from lighting joss sticks or candles, to dancing with an image of the Sto. Nino. Vendors tend to crowd the place as they sell all sorts of things to tourist.

Sad to say, the weather did not allow us (as this was the time of typhoon Frank) to explore the different beaches and islands. But I will definitely be back to explore Moalboal, Camotes and the other islands and beaches of Cebu.