Summer Somewhere in Batangas

And so the summer of 2017 is finally here! It did not come as early as usual (mid-March) but we are now feeling its fire. Are you ready for the heat? Planning to sneak an escape from the humid temperature? Dreaming of playing with a snowman?  For some yes, with their tickets ready and set to  travel out of the country or to a top island destination (oh, Palawan). What about diving into the cold swimming pool and strolling in the beach without flying? That too, is possible without leaving the Philippines. No need to even travel long hours if your are coming from Metro Manila; just go down south and drive for about 2.5 to 3 hours all the way to Nasugbu, Batangas. It is going to be an amazing trip.

Punta Fuego

Punta Fuego Pool 1

Random thoughts at the Double Infinity Pool

Punta Fuego swimming pool 2

Pool at the Lower Beach Club

Coming here is like morphing to a different place and transporting yourself somewhere with the spectacular sunset view right outside your casita at the beach front or get caught-up at any of their lovely pool. Other than swimming,  make sure to include a time to bike or drive around and see the architecture of the houses build in the island—Spanish-Mediterranean style residential resort that masterfully combines natural beauty and modern luxury.

Pico de Loro

Swimming at pico de loro

His Me-Time at the pool

Boat ride at Pico de Loro

Boat Ride at the Cove

You will equally get a fair-share of beautiful sights while at Pico. The place is like engulfed by the lush mountains  as it seems to cover the area;  the swimming pool gives a feel of the serene nature.  We love the walk around the man-made lagoon surrounded by the privately owned-condominiums. But just be careful when you submerge into the beach as there are occasional jellyfish that can really sting. You may still enjoy other activities like the cove tour, pony ride, and eco trail.

These two are clubs and exclusive for members but the hotels/casitas are open to public. You can book your stay directly to their websites (check availability at Punta Fuego or Pico Sands) or via Agoda and other online booking sites.

Finding the New Coffee Spot in and around BF Homes (Part 3)

Excited to share the third batch of a good coffee spot around BF Homes. Coming from my first two lists, some café shops are still around, some moved to a new location while some are now close. It just shows how tough it is to maintain the operation in the midst of so many coffee stores (from foreign to local to niche artisan competition).

To my disappointment, some of my previous lists fail

to brew consistency. During the time of writing them, they were good but we have a couple of visits since then with a frustrating cup. One day, coffee is great; the next, bland. But this new line-up seems to remain consistent so far with the three stores opening last 2016 and the other back in 2014 . Taste is espresso-strong with a fair hint of milky-richness. Venue is also ideal for an intimate meet-up with friends, polish a work deck, or just study and get a corner for reading.

Here’s the new pick with flat white (an espresso based coffee beverage prepared by pouring microfoam, a steamed milk consisting of small fine bubbles with a glossy or velvety consistency, over a shot of espresso. It is somewhat similar to the traditional 140 ml cappuccino or latte although smaller in volume, therefore having a higher proportion of coffee to milk—allowing the espresso to dominate the flavour*) as the common order for the first three and hot latte for the last two.

Address: #29 Presidents Ave, BF Homes, Sucat, Parañaque

Bowen 24 Cafe at Presisent Avenue - BF Homes

Address: #196 J. Elizalde Ave. BF Homes, Sucat, Paranaque (beside Scooter Depot)

Lusine Cafe at Elizalde St BF Homes

Address: Molito Commercial Complex, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Exchange Alley Coffee House Molito Alabang

Address: 273 Aguirre Ave, Parañaque, 1720 Metro Manila

It took a while before I get to drink my latte, coffee art is just way too adorable.

I should have included this on my earlier list but we haven’t really decided to try and go up to their second-floor store until just recently when we’ve learned that they supply the same dessert at Toby’s Estate. Apparently the brownie which is “not a brownie” has their own coffee shop and it’s good!

Address: Mezzanine Level, JJACC Building, 169 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque

Not a brownie dessert at Toby's Estate

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_white

Photo Source: Images via the FB page of each Coffee Store except Farmer's Orchard.

A Walk in the South Park

If work load is just too much and people around are just becoming dementors, what calms you? Shopping? A Sneak at the movie house? Dining out with a good friend? Doing a teleserye marathon? Finding a corner to meditate? Drafting stories to write? Taking a visit at the nearby chapel? Or a walk in the park?

Park stroll at Molito AlabangIt is a Yes to most of these  possible escapes for me but drinking coffee while walking in the park is my favorite kind of de-stresser. It clears the mind, taking out unnecessary worries and rush; helps to see the bright side of dark scenarios.

Take a quick look at the four parks worth the walk around Alabang. They are near each other so you can drive from one place to the next and if you get hungry, various food choices are available too.

 

1. Molito – Quoting from my old blog post: “What draws us to come here regularly is the casual, calming ambiance. There is enough space for children to run around as they play with the colorful floor fountains and vacant seats for people to just lounge amidst the night breeze.”

..or just take that afternoon solo moment to relieve stress.

Molito Alabang

Location: Madrigal corner Commerce Avenues, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

2. West Gate – The now park was formerly a road/car parking at the center of  West Gate. It was a good idea to restructure the place so more people enjoys it with an open-air retail concept that challenges the confines of the mall setting, creating a main-street ambiance conducive to relaxation and recreation.

West Gate Alabang

Location: Entrance via Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Avenue, or Alabang-Zapote Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

3. Spectrum Center

This spot takes just a few stride from Filinvest Tent and Acacia Hotel with floor fountains and scattered round benches. It can be windy here in some afternoons, making the walk more relaxing.

Spectrum Center

Location: Commerce Ave corner Spectrum Midway, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

4. River Park, Festival Mall

Festival Mall continues to expand and this part of the development is very refreshing with the sound of gushing water, charming bridge, nice theater, and green scenery in a neat al fresco setting.

River Park, Festival Mall

Location:  Civic Drive, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Images c/o the Parks’ Facebook pages.

Happy 2017!

Here comes the new year and most of us are feasting with food, fireworks, and fascinating resolutions. What do you aim to achieve this 2017? What do you wish to change or improve? How are you going to make it work? How will it be tagged at the end of another year, success or failure?

So many things we wanted to do yet so many uncertainties too. The first day of new year seems to invite that moment of contemplation about life. That “what to do next” thought balloon as I stared the view of BGC from our 18th floor hotel room (staying here so my son can  avoid inhaling the smog of the evening’s traditional firecrackers’ funfare around the Metro).

New Year Contemplation while at Ascot BGC

Have I done the right thing or should it be another way? If the latter, then what’s the other way? To pursue what has been started and just enhance the process or completely begin anew? How do I see my life to happen? I really don’t know exactly but one thing I really hope to push is to maintain such optimism despite the looming negativity around. I aspire to learn more and be inspired by good people. If I am at the right track may perhaps be an eternal question but maybe that exactly makes life interesting.

2016 was not a year-round perfection but it was full of blessings that our family is always thankful about. Battles and challenges are surely part of the route and so are triumphs and wins with many in-between mundane days. We can always try to add spark even in our simplest way than troll nonsense negativity. Find our path while living the moment of the new year. Let’s make it the best!

May we all have a happy and productive 2017!

Dining at Katsuya, Hollywood

Our family was able to relive the blog about seven tips for parents traveling with younger kids as we visited the US about a month ago. It was a spectacular time for us. A lot of theme park adventures (Legoland, Disney Land, Universal Studios) and long drive escapades (from Orange County to Laughlin to Grand Canyon reaching Las Vegas back to Los Angeles) but the highlight of every stopover is food!

Serving size there is so overwhelmingly huge drooling on Popeye’s fried chicken, Panda Express’ lemon chicken, Shake Shack’s hamburger, Joe Shack’s crabs, Ihops’ pancakes, Kona’s grilled steak and a lot more I can only fancy now.

On top of all the meals we’ve had, one completely stood out. If you are a Japanese cuisine lover and is going to the United States any time soon, you must include Katsuya by Starck on your itinerary.

Katsuya Hollywood

Katsuya Hollywood

They have many branches around the City (Hollywood ▪ Brentwood ▪ Glendale ▪ L.A. Live ▪ Las Vegas ▪ South Beach) plus Middle East (Kuwait and Dubai). And perhaps we’ve been into the hottest spot, Hollywood!

Sushi Tray at Katsuya Hollywood

Devouring the sushi (at once! So good that we failed to capture in photo the beautiful whole, untouch shot!)

Our tray of sushi was masterfully crafted by the only lady Sushi Chef at the Resto, KitKat Austria. I so love watching her prepare in precise rhythm and with so much passion.

Sushi Chef Kitktat Austria of Katsuya Hollywood

Sushi Chef KitKat Austria in Action!

Everything is outstandingly delicious but my #1 pick is the Baked Crab Hand Rolls! Imagine a baked snow crab lightly kissed with Chef’s signature sauce, wrapped with rice in soy paper. I can eat it all day and crave for more. As part of your starters, don’t forget to add the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with balsamic soy and toasted almonds!

Katsuya Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Katsuya’s Japanese kanji symbol “Katsu” means “victory” or “to win” and it’s fitting considering the loyal following of Hollywood A-listers and Zagat critics the restaurant has won over with its inventive combination of Japanese and Californian cuisine. Exuberant servers welcome you “irashaimase” as you walk in and bid you “arigato gozaimas” as you leave and in between, original creations like the Crispy Rice, Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Miso-Marinated Black Cod and award-winning cocktails like the Burning Mandarin delight your palate.

Featuring the dynamic pairing of Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi and design impresario Philippe Starck, Katsuya by Starck is truly a feast for the senses. With superb talent and exacting precision, it is truly changing the face of Japanese cuisine.

Freelance, Are You? Join the Freelancer Fair 2016!

Working as a professional freelancer is very fulfilling. Managing your own time and having freedom with how your day will go is truly an advantage especially for people who do not like routine (Count me in!). Alongside such liberty is the challenge in terms of cash flow stability. So we don’t stop looking for customers to buy our products or clients to avail our services despite weekends, holidays, and vacations(!).

Part of the work scope is building connections and taking care of our brand. But to some, the job description of a “freelancer” remains a question. What are we, really?  Google search defines it as:

What is a Freelance?

On top of the many activities given our respective industries, it helps if we continue to harness our skills; stay focus on our job; excel on what we do and remain open to new learning.

There is a gathering this weekend for us, it is said to be the first in the country and the largest freelancing event so far. Take time to visit as this is a good venue to train and network.

Join the experts from different industries gather and share their knowledge to the Filipino Freelancers to help them become experts in their own right.

Freelancer Fair 2016

WHO should attend The Freelancer Fair by Manila Workshops?

  • Aspiring Freelancers and Experienced Freelancers
  • Brands who offer services to Freelance Professionals
  • Companies that are looking to hire freelancers for certain job functions

WHEN: November 19, 2016 (Saturday) at 9AM (Registration will start at 8AM)

WHERE: The Tent, Acacia Estates, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

You get to roam around the Expo area for an entrance fee of Php500. You will also be free to attend these talks, as follows:

PROGRAM (EXPO AREA) – The Tent

08:00 AM:   REGISTRATION

09:00 AM:   Building Alliances: Freelancing in the Philippines with Evan Tan, Freelancing Advocate

09:30 AM:    Keynote Speaker: Government’s Role in Building Alliances with Freelancers with Monchito Ibrahim of DICT

10:00 AM:    7 Steps to a Successful Freelance Business with Marvin De Leon of Freelance Blend

11:00 AM:     How to Stand Out: Branding 101 with Fitz Villafuerte of 199jobs.com

12:00 NN:    LUNCH

01:00 PM:    Art of Pricing with Francis Guintu

01:30 PM:     How to Get International Clients with CJ Maturino of Online Filipino Freelancers

02:00 PM:   Business Registration with Dandy Victa of Manila Service Review

03:00 PM:   BREAK / SPONSORS TALK

04:30 PM:    7 Tools that Multiply your Freelance Earnings with Genesis Reonico of OnlineJobsUniversity.com

05:30 PM:    Business Correspondences and Maintaining Key Relationships with panelists: Charlie Aquino of Sophie Creatives and Pau Lagura of RIS Philippines

06:00 PM:   SOCIALS/NETWORKING WITH GAMES & SURPRISES!

To register and to join other related Freelancer training, visit the Freelancer Fair website today.

Grab every possible opportunity to learn more about your craft and reach your target market! Hope to catch up with you there.

Bandwagon of Reasons

I was about to draft an article about Southie café stores but could not finish it up as I would prefer. There are other ideas on my mind and I have been contemplating about this for a while.

Bandwagon of Reasons - WriteNowNa

Not that I am going to be preachy but I’m sure you’ll agree that this is what’s usually happening now, there are specific practices that we have to cut somehow. (Auliq Ice has an interesting profile as a Writer, Singer, Songwriter, Arranger, Author, Internet Entrepreneur and Investor.)

Simply put, perhaps consider this: let’s try not to join the recurring bandwagon of reasons?

  • When there is no time to keep in touch with friends or we simply don’t want to be in touch with anyone, “I am busy”.
  • When a deadline is not met or a promised agreement is not done, “I overlooked from the pile of messages”.
  • When coming to a meeting becomes a perpetual tardiness, “trap in a heavy traffic”.
  • When discord arises, emotions can’t be controlled, and extreme foul words get in the way, “…but the highest person in position can defy decent language, why can’t I?”.
  • When we have a problem with someone, instead of talking to them directly, we rant on our Facebook post with the thought balloon, “hope he reads this *#$&#*$@!”.

What’s trending or what appears to be the most accepted social behavior nowadays may not reflect our own values—it may affirm or sway our beliefs depending on how strong we hold it. Are we going to just simply follow because it is done by most people? Or has it become the most convenient reason that is automatically accepted without blink, so use it? Maybe we can try to say no and get the habit of not using unnecessary excuses at all. Get real and take a tight grip of that goodness in us.

Parañaque City to Implement Number Coding Scheme

Traffic in Paranaque, like most areas in Metro Manila, has become a plague even when inside the villages. There are just so many problems along the way—rooting from poor government policies to bulk of cars to drivers’ bad behavior.

July 2015 I wrote about “BF Homes heavy traffic” and sadly, nothing has improved a year after that. It is still a frustration to go around even inside the subdivision (like any where in  the Metro); let’s hope that right solution can still be implemented and followed to ease the intense congestion.

bf-homes-newsville-traffic-paranaque

With the hope to improve the chaotic road traffic, Unified Vehicle Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or Number Coding shall be implemented in Paranaque starting October 1, 2016 which means all private and public vehicles will be banned from the streets depending on the ending number of their plate licenses and depending on the day of the week except Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays.

  • Monday – 1 and 2
  • Tuesday – 3 and 4
  • Wednesday – 5 and 6
  • Thursday – 7 and 8
  • Friday – 9 and 0

Reasons (following the document screencap of Mayor Edwin Olivarez via his Facebook page):

  • There is an increase in the volume of traffic and it has become unacceptable.
  • Maynilad is heavily repairing certain pavements along Dr. A. Santos Avenue (Sucat Avenue).
  • Utility companies are also expected to perform repair and maintenance of roads in the entire city of Paranaque.

To be honest, the real details about this news has been very confusing and I hope the local government can properly disseminate a solid information. But this is what we have for now*:

  • The City Council, however, to create an ordinance exempting Senior Citizens from the ruling but not valid anymore. Our seniors are not exempted.
  • Some said BF Homes is not included but the ruling governs all roads.
  • No window hours at first for private vehicles (7am to 7pm) but there is now—open to pass from 9am to 4pm. Trucks with the same open  window.
  • Effectivity starts on October 1 but this is a dry-run with apprehension and full implementation on October 10.

(*I will update the post as soon as soon as I get the “final” word.)

Don’t want to assume that this is the way to sort the issue neither do I refuse that this will work. It may or may not but we can always try. Do you think this will help solve the problem? Perhaps the answer is deeply rooted to each of us, our courteous and proper behavior on the road is a leap to traffic improvement.

Other online source: Alabang Bulletin

Tagaytay Restaurants to Try (Part 2)

The trip going to Tagaytay is becoming more exciting with the promise of seeing breath-taking views and the anticipation of experiencing so many gastro-adventures up ahead. There are just a lot of fascinating restos to try! Last year, I have listed our family’s top choices and this time adding more on the line-up. We simply love the food and the ambience as we repeatedly come over to taste the moment.

Balay Dako

WriteNowNa at Balay Dako

Filipino Restaurant

Location: Along Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay (beside Max’s)

Balay Dako which also means “Big House” will make your tummy huge with all the delicious Pinoy food on their menu list. The feel is like going to a well-maintained old house from the province (beginning from the arc at the entrance to the large banquet area with a nice glimpse of Taal). Ideal meal to offer to balikbayan relatives and friends. It is managed by Antonio’s BUT totally different from the kind of service that you may have experienced say from Breakfast at Antonio’s.

Beware of the very poor service! Either you get a frown or you will be ignored by servers when you request anything. There are chances too that the food will come so late you have already paid the bill before it arrives. It is a consistent disappointment so lower your expectations, drop the idea of getting a  warm and friendly accommodation especially when the hall is crowded, you will definitely not get it but… just enjoy the food. We had no choice but to go back the last time  (even if we prefer otherwise) because our son is a fun of their lechon kawali and it was requested during his birthday, how can we say no!

Favorites: Kare-Kare, Lechon Kawali, Fresh Lumpia

Marcia Adams

WriteNowNa at Marcia Adams Tagaytay

Mediterranean Restaurant

Location: Border of Tagaytay and Alfonso; close to Residence Inn Zoo and only 150m from Aguinaldo Highway.

The serving size is humongous; that slab of porkchop was perhaps one of  the largest portion we’ve  seen   for its kind and the taste is superb, delicately cook to the inside. The place is neatly design as if you are transported to Tuscany, Italy. Such an ideal venue for a quick escape from the Metro.

Favorites: Porkchop, Chicken Kebab, Aegean Salad, Fried Bananas with Chocolate Dip

Buon Giorno! Caffe & Bistro

WriteNowNa at Buon Giorno!

Italian Restaurant/Filipino Breakfast

Location: Twin Lakes, Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway

Another resto to visit is Buon Giorno! at Twin Lakes (now one of the landmarks of Tagaytay). Yes, they also have a lovely branch at Cliffhouse (also along the same highway) but this new site is more spacious and more immersed with nature given their town and country theme. Quality of food remains outstanding and any pick from their array of pasta and pizza is surely mouth-watering.

Favorites: Veggie Pizza, Puttanesca

Whether you are dining out to escape the busy Manila traffic or wishing to relax over a lovely view, going up to Tagaytay and exploring different restos would always guarantee a terrific adventure. Enjoy every moment!

Free Digital Marketing Events on September 2016

As bloggers and digital marketers, staying in the know about anything and everything about the updates and new tools related with online marketing is very vital but sometimes the cost of  various training and seminar is just so high. Attending all events becomes so expensive!  This September, three organizations are conducting free conferences around the Metro. Check each one on the list below, take your pick or attend it all without spending for the entrance!  Register today.

Ecommerce Show Philippines 2016

  • September 6 to 7 – Pasay

Ecommerce Show Philippines 2016

The two-day conference to be held on September 6-7, 2016 at the SMX Convention Centre, Pasay has been designed to enable delegates to learn from the best case studies across the country. The main conference themes will be focused around Ecommerce technologies and strategies, payment and security, delivery and fulfillment, digital marketing, customer experience and service.

Some portions of the event is paid but the organizers also opened the door for non-paying attendees (just like last year) as they kept quality access for those coming.

Free exhibition pass covers 23 on-floor seminars, 16 E-Commerce & Retail Workshops at the E-Commerce University & Retail University, Online Marketplace Consultation Village, The Accelerator Zone – Fintech & E-commerce Start-up Hub, open gate to 50 exhibitors featuring the latest innovations in payments, banking, e-commerce & retail with pre-arrange 1-to-1 meetings.

iBlog12 – The Philippine Blogging Summit

  • September 16 – Quezon City

iblog Philippine Blogging Summit

The 12th Philippine Blogging Summit (#iblog12) will be on September 16, 2016 at the Malcolm Theater, UP College of Law, UP Diliman, Quezon City. It is an annual activity organized for the Philippine Blogging Community.

The theme this year is on “Data Privacy, Cybercrime, Libel, and Legal Concerns: Its Impact on Bloggers, New Media Publishers, and Social Media Users”.

Note that the first 200 registered participants to come early (on or before 9 am) will be given food stub and participant kit. Afterwards, remaining food stubs and participant kits shall be given to early walk-ins.

#iblog12 is a FREE event. It is a popular gathering of newbie, novice, and veteran bloggers, social media users, new media publishers. We tackle topics and themes that are relevant to the online community.

BlogEx Manila 2016

  • September 24 – Taguig

BlogEx Manila 2016The first BlogEX Manila 2016 will be on September 24, 2016 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura, Taguig. This is the country’s first blogging conference, expo, and awards event to be attended by 600 of the top digital influencers from the Philippines.

The event aims to bring together the country’s premiere bloggers, social media enthusiasts, digital broadcasters, entrepreneurs, influencers, brands and corporations, marketing, PR and advertising agencies, and influential new media experts in one location. The organizers curated a wealth of information to help grow brands, businesses and audience with the latest knowledge, upcoming trends, and important educational sessions.