When Wicked Is Both Good And Sinful

Jazz, Neoli and I agreed to meet Sunday after lunch at McDonald’s Philcoa. The destination: late lunch at Wicked Kitchen in Maginhawa then drop off the children’s books for the Yolanda Book Drive at Haduraw Pizza. The sweltering heat of the afternoon sun could not sway us from the lure of gastronomic delights. We know our priorities.

Image source: pinayads.com

Image source: pinayads.com

From Philcoa, we took a tricycle to Maginhawa and would have easily missed Wicked since the resto was situated on the third floor of a mostly restaurant-occupied building. At the ground floor is Breakfast Table, a breakfast all day shop with a gorgeous blue door. We kind of promised, before we headed to Wicked, to sample their food some other time.

Neoli and I in front of Breakfast Table Photo by Jazz Braganza

Neoli and I in front of Breakfast Table
Photo by Jazz Braganza

Wicked lies unassumingly at the third floor beside a spa. No fancy store signs. The interior borders on minimalist with black and red as the motif, black and red walls with a few unpainted concrete ones. Wicked loves mason jars. They hang them as lamps and use them for cocktails. Mason jars are pretty.

lamps

If you’re snarky, this wall will remind you to tone it down a bit with its positivity.

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Same thing with the bathroom wall.

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Anyway, going back to the food, we ordered rice bowls because we were famished but we shared only one dessert. Sorry to disappoint those who were expecting this to be a thorough review, we didn’t order a variety of dishes. We didn’t go there planning to write a review but rather, to satisfy our tummies. As I said, priorities set. Besides, we were kind of hoping we could still have pizza and beer at Handuraw after.

Crunchy Bagoong Rice

Crunchy Bagoong Rice

I ordered Crunchy Bagoong Rice (P152.00), their bestseller. I was surprised that the food was not stir fried. Instead, it was boiled rice topped with bagoong (shrimp paste), which was just the right amount of salty, green mango sticks and crunchy liempo bits. The green mangoes and bagoong is a classic combo. I’m not fond of pork but the liempo wasn’t bad either. It would have been better if the bagoong was spicy to enhance the flavors. But no worries, they have hot sauce you can douse your food with.

Spicy Mongolian Rice

Spicy Mongolian Rice

Jazz ordered Mongolian Rice (P175), which is rice topped with chicken, squid and fresh vegetables tossed in Mongolian sauce. It tasted good, just like the usual Mongolian food in other restos. Hah! Again, this tastes better with hot sauce.

CropperCapture[22]

I thought Neoli had Kimchi Rice because that’s what I remember from his bowl, the kimchi. But when I checked the menu while I was writing this, there was no Kimchi rice. They have Bulgogi rice, which was the only Korean food on the menu so maybe it was what he ordered. I didn’t get to taste his food because he said he has colds and I could get infected. Or he could just be not in the mood to share.

Wrath: Mango crepe with vanilla and spicy Nutella

Wrath: Mango crepe with vanilla and spicy Nutella

We capped the meal with one of the deadly sins: Wrath. Yes, they named their desserts after the seven deadly sins because, yeah, they’re supposedly sinfully good. Well, we only had wrath and it was good. Wrath is a mango crepe with vanilla ice cream and spicy nutella. The tragedy is that Nutella loses its spiciness in the midst of the ice cream and the crepe. But here’s what we discovered, a very important learning we will carry on in life: you can put hot sauce on vanilla ice cream and then voila, vanilla transforms into an explosion in your mouth. You may try it, too, with other ice cream flavors.

The ghosts of Neoli and a server roam the resto.

The ghosts of Neoli and a server roam the resto.

Overall, food was filling and worth the price. The staff are attentive and ever so helpful. Or it could also be that at 3 in the afternoon on a sleepy Sunday, we were the only patrons so they didn’t have much choice but to be there at our beck and call.

Judgement is nothing too special but place is really nice. Definitely coming back to try other dishes and sample the other sins. By the way, don’t forget to check out their bathroom even if you don’t need to go. They have wickedly sweet messages there for you.

Guaranteed to make you instantly feel better!

Guaranteed to make you instantly feel better!

Yolanda Book Drive

I didn’t have Barbies when I was a kid, nor did I have stuffed toys, except for that one owl holding a diploma, which was my parents’ gift back in fourth grade. I didn’t play with the owl because it didn’t look friendly and the diploma doesn’t exactly look like a playdate invite. So it stayed wrapped in a clear plastic sittting, collecting dust in one corner of our wooden divider. Instead of toys, my parents bought a lot of books for me and my brother along with sporadic toy purchases from Tupperware, of which my favorite was the red and blue shape sorter. That’s how my love affair with the printed word started (no, not with the shape sorter, the books).

Until this day, I can still see the white paper with colorful images of blond children kneeling beside their beds, reciting their nighttime prayers while an angel hover above them; or the brownish paper with Jonas inside the stomach of the big whale or of baby Moses in a basket floating in the river. Yes, my first books were Biblical stories and prayers. Then as I started school, I got introduced into the local classics like Ibong Adarna, the fables like Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing, then Pambata comics and other educational comics. Then when I was 7 or 8, my mother would take me with her to our local bank (a credit cooperative) on weekends and there I started to read The Philippine Free Press. I read about the Allan Gomez-Aileen Sarmenta case on The Philippine Free Press, as well as the Angel Alquiza rape case. My parents didn’t enforce censorship as long as my reading materials were seemingly legit. So yeah, you can see where and how my trust issues started. (Hah!)

I read practically everything then, Readers’ Digest, Health & Home (The Seventh Day Adventist’s magazine), Philippine Journal of Education, The Modern Teacher, Women’s, The Woman Today, Mod Magazine, Sweet Valley (SVH and SVU), Sweet Dreams, Mills & Boon’s, Harlequin, Sillhouette, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, Liwayway Magazine, Tagalog pocketbooks, the Nido classic fairy tales (loooove those), Arthur Maxwell Bible Stories Vol. 1 to 5, my father’s Teacher’s Board reviewer, film synopses on VHS tapes and so on. My parents blamed my poor eyesight on too much reading.

Back in 2009, the apartment I was staying in, in Marikina got flooded. The place was submerged in water and so were my clothes, photographs, my books (my printed and hard bound college thesis, my classics esp, Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby and my friend’s Murakami), a few furniture and DVDs. After the flood, there was an outpouring of support from my friends and family. A lot of people donated clothes, money, food, furniture and most of all, books. I remember how happy I was when my friends gave me the books. I mean, after a disaster, the usual donations are for basic needs to help you survive and get back on track and then they gave me books. After Ondoy, those books became a promise to me, a well of hope that things will be back to normal, if not better.

When I learned about Air Juan’s book drive for Yolanda kids survivors in Eastern and Western Samar, as well as Iloilo, I just knew I had to get involved. I could only imagine what the world of literature can offer a young mind who just went through a tragedy. Maybe it can offer relief, healing, hope, a chance to dream, knowledge or if they’re not into reading, maybe a page they can tore and make paper planes with. Well, hopefully, not.

If you would like to donate books, (textbooks, children’s stories, dictionaries, young adult fiction, etc.), you may drop them off at these locations:

NFR, Rm. 205, PHILDHRRA
59 Salvador St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City

ESI Bldg., Miriam College (Mar 24-28)
Quezon City

Handuraw Pizza, 1A Masunurin St. cor. Anonas Extn
Sikatuna Vill., Quezon City

You may also email me at 7pmtrain@gmail.com or text at 0906-487-3234. I can pick them up wherever it’s convenient for you, granted, of course, you’re based in Metro Manila 🙂

 

 

Great Friends Take You To Chateau Royale For The Weekend

Nice: rich friend

Nice: rich friend

By great, I mean, rich. And by rich friends, I mean, Nice is one of them. She is not named Nice for nothing. So anyway, Nice has paid for a 2D/1N reservation for four at Chateau Royale in Tagaytay. Her family is supposed to use it but due to change of plans, we ended up going instead. And by we, I mean, Nice, Ann, Karen and me.

The four of us started the journey at the Batangas bus terminal in Pasay but was dismayed at the queue. This was at 12:30 noon. Apparently, most people were trying to escape the heat in the metro. An unsolicited advice from a woman behind us in the queue prodded us to wait for a bus instead at EDSA. And so we did. After what seemed like eternity (approximately 15 minutes) and our skin slowly being burnt to a crisp, a bus heading to Tagaytay picked us up. I can’t tell you if traffic was bad because right after we ate our takeout from McDonald’s, we dozed off. Then we got off at Olivarez in Tagaytay and boarded a jeep that would take us right at the front gate of the Chateau.

I’m no expert when it comes to aesthetics so I really can’t explain to you the overall design of the resort. It looks contemporary with some Japanese influence. The resort has lots of Japanese sculptures (mostly of Buddha) and some Indian ones, too. I think.

Photo source: mhelgarrido.blogspot.com

Photo source: mhelgarrido.blogspot.com

For the accomodations, there are three types: the hotel, the single-detached cabins and the log cabins. The hotel looks out of place in the resort, like a sore thumb in a Japanese-ish ranch.

Single-detached Cabins Photo source: www.sulit.com.ph

Single-detached Cabins
Photo source: http://www.sulit.com.ph

We stayed in a log cabin, which is a 7- to 10-minute walk from the front desk. There’s a shuttle and golf carts but they weren’t always around whenever we had to leave our room. By the way, the only Japanese indication in our room is the minimalist design. No tacky paintings and just white sheets on the beds, which actually felt surprisingly restful for me. If there’s a way they can increase the water pressure in the bathroom, I’ll give them a better rating.

Photo source: onandofftheroad.com

Photo source: onandofftheroad.com

The Chateau boasts of superb amenities and various recreational activities (rock climbing, zip line, etc.) but we were only interested in one thing, swimming. They have a great pool with actual sand surrounding it.

Photo source: tipofmytonguemoments.wordpress.com

Photo source: tipofmytonguemoments.wordpress.com

Our reservation included dinner at the Chateau’s Floating Restaurant, which at that time was more like a dry-docked resto because there was no water beneath the tiny bamboo huts. They serve the food buffet style. That night the menu consisted of Bird’s Nest soup, rice, pancit, fish fillet, okoy, grilled pork and pineapple and watermelon for dessert. Iced tea and water were served in a nicely set table. The soup was salty. The okoy was good. And the rest are just barely passable. Sorry, I don’t really know how to review food.

Surprisingly, they more than made up for the food the next day at breakfast. Same setup as dinner except for a chef who cooks eggs on the spot, sunny side up or omelette. The menu was lugaw, fried rice, corned beef, tinapa and watermelon for dessert. They had unlimited kapeng barako (Batangas brewed coffee), which I personally love. They also served pineapple juice. The corned beef was a bit salty but overall, it was a delicious breakfast.

Definitely A Breakfast Feast

Definitely A Breakfast Feast

By the way, they have a Veranda Cafe, adjacent to the lounge and front desk, where they serve the welcome drinks, namely, pineapple juice. They don’t serve cocktails there, just locally made alcoholic beverages. Also, food is pricey but tasty. We tried their Royale Club sandwich with fries for Php 270 and Batangas Burger for Php 280. Service is slow so don’t go there hungry.

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The resort also sells fresh produce at really low prices, half of the price of veggies here in Manila. Also, they sell pasalubong like espasol and other native delicacies. Their buko and langka espasol is a must-try.

Overall, despite the disappointing dinner and welcome drinks, it was a great weekend getaway, mostly because the place is lovely and the people I was with are lovelier.

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Thank you, again, Nice. You definitely made it to the Jobet 500.

Nice is the American-ish girl at the right.

Nice is the American-ish girl on the right.

XXXI

I’ve always been grateful for my friends. I can never stress that enough. You are one of the kindest persons I know, one of the smartest, too. Two licenses in the field of medicine is no joke. We laugh and we fight and we talk about babies and food and men and sex. And I trust you with a lot of things I don’t tell other people. And you can see right through me. And I can also see the truth behind your tears and what makes you smile. And you are a beautiful person and I care about you so much and I don’t say that enough.

And all I wish for you on your birthday is for you to get that car. If not, then, probably a guy. A man is just as fun to ride on.

Happy 31st, Jing.

S

’09 to ’13: Ordinary People Part 3 of 3

And so the weekend saga of the now rowdy group on a natural high continues. This time they’re headed to Trinoma or for those who veers from acronyms, The Triangle North of Manila.

Photo courtesy of ayalaland.com.ph

Photo courtesy of ayalaland.com.ph

Why Trinoma? Red Box. What could be more Pinoy than a get-together belting out pop songs with cheesy video montage of C- and D-list celebrities at best.

Photo courtesy of synzmemoir.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of synzmemoir.blogspot.com

So here we are at Red Box with a playlist ranging from sappy Tagalog love songs to teen pop, 90s RnB and classic Pinoy rock, aka, Eheads and Parokya. Can you match the genre with the faces?

group

The classic duo can replace Jaya and Janno anytime. They can also do Boyz2men and Ariel Rivera among others. For parties and events, please contact me at 0906-xxx-xxxx.

Met and Ryan Takes Araneta By Storm

Met and Ryan Takes Araneta By Storm

The caption says it all for Lester, in more ways than one. Seriously, if you don’t care much for his looks, you’ll fall for his songs. And I mean really fall. Like off your seat? Rolling on the floor? Lol. Seriously, I’m selling him as the complete package. Looks, brains and voice. And a new car!

"The Man Who Can't Be Moved"

“The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”

Move over, Alicia Keys and while you’re at it, put ashes on your hair (in keeping up with lent) and weep for there’s a new girl on fire. And I mean on fiiiire. Pen not only rocks keyboards (the ones attached to monitors) but also microphones.

This Girl is on Fiiiiire

This Girl is on Fiiiiire

Now here’s the duo who conquered Madison Garden. True? True. And with none other but Taylor Swift songs. Love Story. Our Song. Never Ever Getting Back Together. You Belong With Me. If you want Taylor Swift with less syrup, more grit, then here’s the perfect pair. Plus these two don’t write songs about their exes.

Taylor Swift Can Rock!

Taylor Swift Can Rock!

Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears songs are a must at karaoke. If it’s not part of the repertoire, then that is considered a serious disrespect of your growing up years. So hit me baby one more time as long as you love me.

making faces

And the perfect finale was the group singing Pare Ko by Eraserheads. Of course, it must be sang Various Artists-style like paying tribute to the iconic band of our youth.

group -karen

And to cap the journey, here’s a photo relatively disconnected to this part of the adventures. The saying that a picture speaks a thousand words is true in this case. We just don’t have a clue as to what the words are. So, lovely readers, if you would be so kind as to put an appropriate caption for this, that would be greatly appreciated. Captions will not be edited. Seriously no censorship. More captions, more fun. I wish there was a price for the best caption. Or maybe there is. Hmm.

Caption This!

Caption This!

’09 to ’13: Ordinary People Part 2 of 3

So let’s step back a bit and catch up with the group. They had brunch at Chocolate Kiss at Bahay ng Alumni, one of the lovely buildings in Diliman famous for its stained glass windows.

UP Bahay ng Alumni

UP Bahay ng Alumni

Stained

Stained

Let’s do some unnecessary plugging for Chocolate Kiss. Their house blend iced tea is a must-try. Honey is served separately so you can choose how sweet you’d want it to be. Calamansi is also available. It’s refillable for just Php 70.

Chocolate Kiss Iced Tea (House Blend)

Chocolate Kiss Iced Tea (House Blend)

Devil’s Food Cake is one of Chocolate Kiss’s famous desserts. Chocolate lovers would greatly appreciate this. The marshmallow icing is sinful.

Devil's Food Cake

Devil’s Food Cake

If you’re tired of chocolates, try their cake sampler. It has four small slices of cakes: carrot, orange, dayap and kahlua. Kahlua won’t disappoint you. The carrot cake is moist and bestest there is in town. Orange is orange is orange is awesome. And dayap is refreshingly good. Life’s sweet with this sampler for only Php 95.

Cake Sampler

Cake Sampler

After the indulgence at Choco Kiss, the group crossed to Art Circle. It used to be Old Manila then Odd Manila or was it the other way around? Anyway, they sell paintings, knicknacks and they have a coffee shop. Their quesadillas are highly recommended. Too bad the group could no longer indulge lest they risk implosion.

Art Circle Entrance

Art Circle Entrance

AC k and me

The group then headed upstairs to check out the stained glass wall. There was an unfinished painting lying on the third floor.

painting

Also, on the way up, some people just could not resist the urge for the contemporary art known as bathroom photobooth.

bathroom pics

Heading out, crossed the street to Film Center where a sorbetero stood guard near the driveway entrance under the merciless sun. Quesadillas the group could resist but will crumbled at the sight of dirty ice cream. Do not judge this people unless you’ve been in their shoes. And if you have, then bets are on that you had done the same.

Dirty Ice Cream

Dirty Ice Cream

Walked to the Carillon Plaza, which is shamelessly plastered with names of the donors. The bells looked lonely up there in the tower while down at the ground, Betty Go Belmonte et al probably gossip about UP selling out. No judgement. Swear.

Right across Carillon Plaza is the lagoon. Here, the group took a group photo, which could easily pass as the season premiere poster of How I Met Your Mother or Awkward or Mula Sa Puso.

Soap Opera

Soap Opera

The following is a study of trees. Seriously. No? Okay.

Compare and Contrast

Compare and Contrast

Did you spot the difference?

Did you spot the difference?

The group then split, Karen, Pen and I went to FC (Faculty Center of College of Arts and Letters) to drop by (unannounced) at my friend who apparently occupies Room#

yayo

Unfortunately, he wasn’t there at the time. The other half of the group, Met, Lester and Ryan, spent the time with the latest cultural phenomena known as camwhoring. Check out the priceless faces.

This is them making faces.

This is them making faces.

With their normal/default faces.

With their normal/default faces.

Please stand by for the finale of the (mis)adventures. Ciao!

Key Takeaways of Coffee-flavored Early Morning Conversations

1. We tend to romanticize turning 30 (or 40 or 50 and so on). It is not bad. It is, in fact, inspiring and gives you the chance to know more about yourself and what you want in life.

Photo courtesy of someecards.com

Photo courtesy of someecards.com

2. We get overwhelmed with so-called friends. It is okay to cut ties with people we don’t really care about. Instead, value our true friends and spend time with them.

3. One of life’s biggest tragedies is losing the sense of irony.

4. It is the truth that there are no awkward silences between friends, only comfortable ones.

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com/tagged/comfortablesilence

Photo courtesy of tumblr.com/tagged/comfortablesilence

5. If you choose to see it as being stuck in a routine, then you get stuck, but you can also see it as a new story every day and savor the now.

6. That friend who’s truly special because you haven’t seen him in years but when you meet again, you talk and laugh like you’ve been doing so every day in the last four years.

7. Coffee shops late at night and into the wee hours of the morning transform into a library that caters mostly to med and law students who can afford gallons of lattes.

Photo courtesy of readbreatherelax.com

Photo courtesy of readbreatherelax.com

8. Some people are more creative and full of beautiful ideas when they are in pain.

9. At times, it sucks being single but it rocks having fab friends. Also, a wise man (Yayo) once said, sleep is the new sex.

10. Lists don’t have to be ten items. Otherwise, grocery lists would look pitiful.

Photo courtesy of marriedtothesea.com

Photo courtesy of marriedtothesea.com

’09 to ’13: Ordinary People Part 1 of 3

On the 3rd of the 11th came the 7th. This was back in ’09. It was a diverse group who would become writers and editors.

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Just like any other group, this one consists of the populars, the introverts, the geeks, the common enemy, the outcast, the leader and the clown. There were subgroups, too. Two things bound them, food and the common enemy.

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Then as days went by, people left and the group became smaller and smaller. Work schedules limited their time together but did not break the bond that had been forged.

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And on the 9th of the 3rd, they agreed to have brunch. And then maybe, karaoke. From Rockwell in Pasig to UP in Quezon City, the group was about to roll.

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It was a sumptuous meal filled with hearty laughter and retelling of history, capped by Chocolate Kiss’s famous cakes.

Chicken Barbecue

Chicken Barbecue

Chicken Alfredo

Chicken Alfredo

Fish Kiev

Fish Kiev

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

Devil's Food Cake

Devil’s Food Cake

L- R: Carrot, Orange, Dayap, Kahlua

L- R: Carrot, Orange, Dayap, Kahlua

With bellies full and hearts warmed, the group then headed to the lagoon.

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And the next part of their adventure unfolds in the next post. Laters!

Rainy Mornings

Photo source: wallpapers-xs.blogspot.com

Photo source: wallpapers-xs.blogspot.com

I used to find comfort in your silence just like when darkness shields me from the glare of reality. It can’t be blue skies every day. Sometimes the day is gray and the heavens cry but we both love the rain — the sound of it, the smell and how it brings childhood memories of pink dresses and ribbons and ice cream, and how you said that the sound of rain drops make for a good soundtrack.

I used to pray that the universe bring us together. Now I realize how selfish I was. I don’t see you often now but sometimes you show up in my dreams, some hazy visions of the past. You used to tell me that I don’t have to hide the pain behind my smile and that my eyes never lie. Well, then I’m just glad you can’t see me now. I am happy that you found happiness. I tell myself that every day until I feel like I can start believing my own lie.

And on rainy mornings, I stay in bed and look out the window and wonder if you still look up at the sky and ask why she’s crying.

Of Feasts and Goodbyes

I’ve known Joboy since we were in diapers.

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I grew up with him in Hagonoy. His Mom is my mother’s best friend. Job and I have been roommates for almost four years now. I’m used to having him around: late night TV, junk food bingeing in the middle of the night and bonding over GPS green tea. Needless to say, he’s like a brother from another mother.

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Last night, we threw a dinner party for him because he’s leaving for abroad on Tuesday. Just like most of our childhood friends, he has decided to pursue better career opportunities abroad. Will surely gonna miss him.

There was also another reason why we had dinner last night, to celebrate the feast day of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. He’s the patron saint of Hagonoy.

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I haven’t been home for 9 years now, and I miss it so bad. Hopefully I could go home this summer.

Back home, they still celebrate fiesta the grand way with lots of food, people, mass, music and dancing. And since it was a tradition we have observed since we were kids, we still do it now even if we’re far from home. So we had pasta, sisig, grilled pork chop, chocolate mousse and wine. The gesture made us feel closer to home.

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Sorry, last photo taken using tablet and so blurry.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz photo from livesofsaints.tripod.com.