Well, why not?
Since coming back from the Philippines, I took quite a few pictures that I’d like to share with all of you. Most of these pictures were taken to share with my foreign friends distinct things that make the Philippines more special. And what’s more different than a band of Filipino musicians sporting the traditional barong, and welcoming new visitors at the airport?!
A foreigner’s first impression when visiting a country really matters, and seeing such happy musicians give the impression that the Filipinos are super-duper warm and friendly (which we are!). So great job!
The only thing I’ll probably improve is at the immigration/customs desk where I’ll ask all the immigration officers to greet every tourist with a happy “Welcome to the Philippines!” before stamping every passport.
The lady who stamped mine was frowning.
Must’ve been a bad day.
After eating at Aristocrat, my family brought me to their favorite mall hangout — Rockwell! I grew very excited when my brother said that there’s a wallclimbing in the vicinity and of course, I was soooo eager to check it out. We had to walk through a hot and dark parking lot (boy, that place isn’t easy to find!), but finally found the walls!
Most climbers were kids and foreigners and unlike here in Taipei, they have employees belaying (here, we belay ourselves). The walls were about the same though it seems less challenging due to the lack of crevices and protruding big pieces of rock to climb over.
However, I was put over by the “our staff must be the one to belay you” policy since I can belay myself. And guess how much one staff cost? NT$200 an hour! Hence, going wallclimbing at PowerUp Rockwell Gym will easily cost you NT$320 an hour! 🙁
You can imagine my surprise in finding that there are some things in Manila that are more expensive than Taipei’s. I seriously didn’t think there was such a thing! Wallclimbing in Taipei only cost NT$150 for the whole session! So compared to Manila’s NT$320 an HOUR, that’s cheap! 🙂
Of course, no trip to Manila is complete without a short trip to Gerry’s — my favorite Filipino restaurant. When I got back a year ago, I remembered I started tearing up when presented with its famous sisig. Though this time wasn’t as eventful, it was still a delicious meal! 🙂
For my foreign friends, sisig is a traditional Pinoy dish made of chopped pig’s head and seasoned with a bit of hot sauce and kalamansi (aka kumquat, similar to lemon) on a sizzling plate. It’s crunchy because of finely-diced chicharon (fried pig’s skin) and doesn’t taste at all like pig’s head because the ingredients chopped so finely.
Another great dish we absolutely had to get was the inihao na pusit (charbroiled squid) served best with the special sweet sauce Gerry makes. It’s great with garlic rice and I can eat this every day if I want to! Of course, who can forget inihao na manok (charbroiled chicken). Though I think Baliwag’s and Andok’s have better chicken, Gerry’s chicken ain’t that bad at all! Though I prefer to use the squid’s sauce for the chicken. 🙂
I took this picture to show to my friends here how cheap alcoholic drinks back home were! In the Gerry’s menu, a banana daiquiri only cost P80 (NT$55) while a Long Island Iced Tea is only P100 (NT$72). Here in Taiwan, we’re already lucky if our drinks were NT$250, and it’s not unusual to spend NT$1,000 on a night just buying drinks!
Unfortunately, I can only looksee-looksee since I’d have to go home early (back in Manila, my curfew was 11PM). And I didn’t want to make my dad feel I was a drunkard, which he will when he sees my face all red (and I get red after just one glass!).
It’s actually turon (fried caramelized bananas) served with a bit of condensed milk. We had it at the hotel when I accompanied my parents to this meeting about Taiwan and China getting back together (as if it will happen, though I just keep my mouth shut). Delicious stuff!
Haha, it seems that all I take were pictures of food, but here’s the dessert bar of Shangri-La Edsa’s Heat, where my friend and fiancee took me. In generous Filipino fashion, they took care of my bill, citing that I’m now the guest in my own country! 😀 I found the buffet to be great in terms of variety, but I’m never really a buffet fan anyway. I think too many choices ain’t that good, and I’d rather go ala carte instead. But that’s just me and I appreciate the good food Shangri-La offered.
Afterwards, we headed towards Robinson’s Galleria (wow, it’s bigger now!) where my friend proudly showed me her baby — Penchants — a novelty store that sells all sorts of accessories and other cute stuff!
I couldn’t help but admire her guts for starting up her own business. She started off with one store two years ago, and now has seven! Haha, I joked to her that ten years later, she’ll be richer than all of us who are working in multinational companies.
And I meant everything I said… if you want to make tons of money, entrepreneurship is the way to go. Though the risks are higher, the rewards and growth opportunity are way bigger as well! So if you want to be rich, get into business!
As my mom wisely advised, “Don’t ever forget. People don’t get rich by getting a paycheck. They get rich by using their money to produce more money! If you’re just placing your savings safe in the bank, it won’t really grow. But if you use it to invest, then you can get an income from there!”
Listen to my mom, she’s a terrific businesswoman/manager.
She and my dad singlehandedly built up their “empire” so to speak from scratch. And though my dad would never really outwardly admit it, I know that without my mom’s help, he wouldn’t be living as comfortably as he is now.
Of course, no trip is ever complete without meeting up with friends! In the span of ten days, I got to meet my former classmates at the Ateneo (my Management-Honors barkada) and my old high school classmates. The former, we ate at this supposedly popular chain of Japanese restaurants called Tempura, while the latter, we went to Bubba Gump at Greenbelt.
I found it interesting that they added a twist to the movie, “Forrest Gump” and made a restaurant out of it.
The chicken caesar salad lacked luster, though their drinks are pretty good! Check out that big dallop of sweet whipped cream on top! I was practically counting calories as I was sippin’ it, but hey, you only live once!
My high school best friend loved the fried shrimps which I found to be so-so. Nothing really special there, but served atop newspapers is a nice touch. Check out the dips! More calories! The food wasn’t bad. I especially loved this dish. Forgot what it’s called but it was delish! That’s muji-muji fish and shrimps served with tangy mango salsa atop of crunchy white rice. I loved it! The prices at Forrest Gump are pricey though, Philippine-standards wise at lowest prices at P390! Maybe they’re trying to duplicate the success of Chili’s…
I found this concept interesting.
To call the waiters, display this sign:
It means, “Stop and serve us!”
And when you want them to go away and not bother you, just display what else but the “Run Forrest Run” sign!
I also checked out the new Greenhills Promenade.
Damn, I’ve only been gone for a year and Manila has been developing gimmick spots like crazy! Heck, where was Metrowalk, Promedade and all these places when I was still back home?!
But I was nevertheless impressed. The Filipinos are really creative peeps, as seen by the beautiful architecture in these structures. 🙂
We ate at this new Persian restaurant called Arya. Not bad, and owner was especially friendly but since I’ve tasted Persian food here in Taipei already, the fare wasn’t really as special as my brother and his long-time girlfriend thought it to be.
Here’s a picture of… guess!
It’s a confirmation ceremony where mom was a ninang (godmother). Philippines is a Catholic country so it’s a big deal when your child who was baptised as a baby (they don’t really give you a choice, do they?) is again accepted in the house of God when they get a little older.
I used to think a confirmation ceremony was a private affair, but look at the number of kids who are awaiting confirmation at the same time! It looked like a mass-production factory…
After the loooong confirmation, we had lunch together at their house in Tandang Sora. Here’s the typical Pinoy meal:
Pinakbet (vegetables in peanut sauce, served with bagoong), bopis, sisig, white rice and Filipino tenderloin! It tastes better than it looks btw!
Meet George, our handsome cockatoo. We’ve had him for years and he’s become smarter. Now, he can scream, “Precy!” (our secretary), “Lito!” (our houseboy/driver) and a sweet “hello.“
Smart bird! When we first got him, he was very temperamental, biting every single thing that comes his way and throwing his food around. Now, he’s way better. He always lets me pet him when I come home and tries to get my attention every time. I love this bird!
Flying back home to Taipei, I rode business class baby! 😀
Okay, I rode biz class because it was the only flight available back to Taipei on the 5th and I had work the next day. But hey, it’s not everyday you ride beside tycoons and high-positioned managers. 😉
What’s the difference? Well duh, the seats and legroom are bigger, and walaaaa….! They give you a menu before the meal (though they didn’t follow it. They didn’t have beef stroganoff pasta as stated in the menu) and serve your food over a white table-cloth and silver utencils.
Plus, each passenger had their own TV, though I had to suffer through limited channels since it was just a two-hour flight.
So I just had to content myself in talking to my seatmate, an accountant who’s visiting her husband in Manila. Overall, a good experience though I wouldn’t fly business class unless it’s a long-haul. It really ain’t worth it for short-time flights.
That’s just about it. Hope you enjoyed the pics. Apologize for the lack of pics of my friends and family. Manila’s just so darn small that I’d bet you’d recognize most of them, and I’d like to keep my identity secret for now.
Hope you all have a great weekend ahead! I’m sure I’ll enjoy mine. First up, a tacos party later where I’d be saying my goodbyes to my dear friends Buddy and Yulia who’ll be going back to LA next week, then brunch tomorrow with my girlfriends and dancing at night (plus visiting CKS Hall for the lantern festival). On Sunday, there’s a brunch and then going to Pingxi to watch the lighting of the sky lanterns.