Sunday, June 18, 2017

Albay and Its Historic Sites, Events, and To Do's

Albay is one province with many hidden and known beauties, it bears beauty that is pure, basic and grand. Albay has a certain charm that will sweep you off your feet and bring you to the time that was or give you a majestic feeling that is simply indescribable. With fifteen 15 municipalities and three 3 cities, Albay bears so many things to see and experience.

Governor Al Francis Bichara was a gracious host as he welcomed us to his place. Hospitality reflected on the people, from the people and this was reflected by the people of the various local government units (Dept of Tourism and Dept of Agriculture) and that of Human Explore Travel and Tours.

The tour given to us was both informative and time worthy. Tiring as it may be BUT truly worth every moment. Our gratitude to Ms. Dorothy Colle and her people from the Department of Tourism Provincial Division Region V – Albay, Ms. Che Rebeta of the Provincial Agriculture Department and Ms. Farah Sobremisana – owner partner of Pepperland Hotel. They truly made our visit such a wonder thru their efforts and time generosity.

Albay is filled with old churches, old craft making, worthy places to go to, old houses, natural beauties and beautiful festivities. With magnificent places around the majestic Mayon Volcano, if you do a whole 360 tour like the one we did ours, one would get to see this natural wonder in all its beauty. Try to learn also the story behind this famous volcano and and unconver the Daragang Magayon mystery.

From the ruins of Cagsawa (with a average guest of 150pax per day) to the churches in Camalig, Ligao, Sto. Domingo and Daraga, to the calm Sumlang Lake and the historic Japanese caves in Quituinan Hills, to the traditional way of metal smiting in Tabaco, farms and various beautiful parks and landmarks all over Albay, you will never have a dull moment when you decide to do a full exploration of the province. It is also filled of noteworthy food places that you could and should try out (story and review in another write-up). Albay also has spring resorts with water source coming from near the volcano or underneath the ground making it cool or even cold depending on the time of the year – such resort is D’ Hacienda Spring and Nature Resort in Guinobatan, Albay.

 For active people, I would highly recommend for you to try out the Japanese tunnels/caves in Quituinan Hills. The trek is not that stressful but the crawling (should you be adventurous enough) is like having an archaeological dig. For historical buffs, try seeing the various churches of the different municipalities and compare notes in terms of its style and story behind it.

Should you wish to see various craftsmanship of the place, go to Sumlang Lake to see the woven beauties of Albay, the metal smiting of Tabaco, pottery shops in Tiwi and pili delicacy making in Legazpi. Don’t forget to visit the various farms in the province that show the resiliency of the people as reflected in their farms – some of them are IG worthy too. Experience Albay and, you get to see this natural beauty in all its grandeur. With clouds or without, Mayon will surely captivate you may it be morning, noon, mid afternoon or sunset. With its romantic yet tragic story behind this beauty, you will definitely want to be welcomed by it every time you are in the said province. Albay is truly beautiful! The people reflect their place and the place live through its people.

PRESS RELEASE by: Arnold “Arnie” Alesna 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

After All Bar and Restaurant: a quaint and comfortable place for good food and drinks in Makati

After All got its name from Peter Ceterra's hit single. It was started by a group of friends who graduated from the Asian Institute of Management. All of them have come from distinguished careers. They decided to open a bar just last month with a menu including their personal specialties.

After being open for a month, the bar already has its own set of patrons and regular customers.

The bar is located in the first floor of SM Jazz Makati. It was pretty strategic since it was the only bar in the immediate vicinity. Plus, the condo residents can have a nightcap there every once in a while.

Their Banana Colada was composed of rum, bananas, and coconut milk. It tasted like the good old pina colada, albeit with bananas. One can only grasp of faint taste of the alcohol. Which, for one, made me drink the entire glass with ease. This was a truly fine pre-game drink. 

Their special Spanish Caldereta was cut into menudo sized chunks. The beef was prime grade, and the potatoes were those bite sized types. I must say that the tomato sauce was very savory. 

The Buffalo wings wasn't the crispy type. But, the sauce was excellent. It was a sweet honey garnish. The skin was easily taken off the bones. Servings were a bit disappointing; but the taste was well worth it.

The Crispy Pata was their crowning glory. It was a deep fried goodness of pork thigh with crispy skin and a fatty under layer. I enjoyed every bite because of the crispy skin while dipped in vinegar. 

Their Seafood Teppanyaki was a healthy mix of salmon, squid, shrimp, and clams marinated in special sauce. The servings were quite generous.

The Saikoro Steak Skewers was their version of the Japanese steak craze. It was composed of two sticks of tender, cubed Wagyu beef and served with toge and carrots. I would have wanted more servings, though.

Prawn Tempura Melange was the seafood dish I liked the most. The breading was very, very crisp. The prawns were also huge. 

Crunchy Pork Sisig was also one of their meat specialties. It was a piping hot serving of pork innards and meat fried to a crisp and topped with chicharon. The egg added extra texture and flavor.

Just look at that fatty goodness.

They also have a vast selection of wine and hard drinks for those who like their alcohol unadulterated.

Buko Melon Freeze was a mix of melon and buko juice and vodka mixed into a sherbet like drink. Just look at the texture. Every sip had quite a kick which was tempered by the sweet melon and buko juice.

The taste of alcohol was barely there. I got an overload of fruity taste with every sip.

Their Signature Chocolate Cake had a small syringe for an alcohol infusion. The idea there was to combine the sweetness of the cake with the full bodied flavor of whiskey. I liked the concept and the unique touch of the dessert.

They even have a live band performing every night. The performers for the night were very vivacious!

This is the look of their interior with the lights on.

Our post-game event was met with the Honeydew Mojito. Their version of the Mojito was spiced up with the seasonal Honeydew Melon. The Melon was quite tangy and sweet too. And like their other cocktails, the alcohol taste was also very faint.

The place without the lights on.

Calibre was their in-house version of the traditional Cuba Libre. This version had a specially blended cola and rum mix that takes hours to prepare. The glass was lined with salt for that extra tanginess.

After All is located in SM Jazz Mall, Makati.

VC Cafe: Makati's go-to place for food, 90's anime, and entrepreneurship

VC Cafe is one of Makati's newest hubs for coffee, relaxation, and great food. The place has very ambient interiors and is a great place to unwind in. The interiors are well lit and pleasing to the eye. 
Furthermore, the staff are friendly and courteous. My visit to the place was part of their opening ceremonies last month. Under the auspices of PR Director Ms. Bambi Flores, I was able to get an experience of the place.

VC stands for venture capital. The founders chose the name because it expressed their sentiment to make the place accessible for venture capitalists and budding entrepreneurs. 

The place has a huge dining hall which is convertible to conference rooms.

Some of the loot bags for the lucky guests.

I had their customary iced tea. It was the right blend of sweet.

The launch was well-attended by guests. 

Some of their delicacies included roast beef and tofu with pork. I enjoyed the roast beef due to its meaty, savory flavor.

They even had a slab of Cebu lechon.

The carbonara was delightful. It had a mildly sweet taste.

They even had braised chicken for the crowd.

Some of the guests delighting in the meal.

VC Cafe's executives posing for a photo op.

VC Cafe is also home to a lot of anime memorabila. Here we have the main characters of One Piece.

They also have a poster of Slam Dunk.

And Voltes V as well.

Their Mocha Brownies were truly delightfully sweet.

We even had a live band to boot.

I tried the blueberry shake from their drinks selection. It had a fruity blueberry flavor.

They even had a stand with action figures.

Here we have a Gundam.

Plus they have a fine selection of wines.

And pastries.

VC Cafe is located at Don Chua Lamko Building, 100 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Go there to enjoy their premium ambience and food.

VC Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen: Vietnamese Specialties in the Heart of BGC.

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen is one of BGC's best kept secrets when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine. Its ambience, charm, and food never failed to excite me due to my long-standing love for the culture.

Upon arriving, I was treated to these specialties:

The Guoi Cuon was their starter serving of fresh spring rolls. It had big pieces of shrimp slices, pork, lettuce, and vermicelli. I didn't prefer it that well; but I appreciated the effort in making it.

Bawai' House Salad at Php 345 was their delectable mix of cocount sprouts, pork, shrimp and special vinaigrette. It was an excellent starter for a meal.

A fine selection of their dishes.

The Tom Rang Me at Php 590 is composed of large tiger prawns fried with Tamarind sauce, herbs and sesame seeds. I must say that it was easy to eat due to the way it was cut.

Pho Bo. At Php 360, this dish is the quintessential Vietnamese pho. It has the all too familiar rice noodles, tender and thin beef strips, leeks, and the steaming hot broth that serves as the seasoning. The taste perfectly mimics the traditional preparation.

The Ban Da Lon at Php 80 was composed of pandan cake, mung bean, coconut paste, and sesame seeds. It tasted like our local kakanin.

Their Mint Cucumber shake was a tangy mix of mint and cucumber. It wasn't too sweet and it had a herby flavor.

The Bawai Garden Salad was notable for its arugula. It also had the typical mangoes and lettuce in the mix. This was a more conservative version of their salad. 

Com Suon Cha at Php 435 was deep fried pork belly. It was truly delectable for its soft, fall-off-the-bones texture. I enjoyed every bite!

Lastly, the Goi Ga was their version of chicken salad. It had cabbage, carrots, herbs, and steamed chicken. I liked it for its restrained yet full flavor.

One of their wall murals.

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen is located at Ground Floor, Uptown Parade, 9th Avenue Corner 36th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Do visit it if you're into Vietnamese specialties.

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato