Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy 30th, Mei!

Dear Mei, 

Happy 30th! 

I want you to know that you are blessed and you are a blessing to the people around you. 

Thank you for being such a great friend. You have the loudest laughter in fun times and you have the most reliable listening ear in times of trouble. You are quick to praise, slow to criticize. 

Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for trusting me enough to share your innermost thoughts, your joys and worries. And thank you for allowing me to share mine. You're that rare kind of a friend that I trust to bare my soul with. 


I look forward to many trips and experiences shared together. And I look forward to the day when we can go on trips with each others' partners. I pray that God's best for you will be revealed soon. (So, please look around you. He might just be in your circle. Ha ha ha). 

Las Casas.

Thunderbird Poro Point
Chinese Temple in Vietnam. Remember this?
Vietnam. Safe to say that Armin and I were still a little payat here. Ha ha.
Oh, yeah I photo bombed you. And Ho Chi Mihn. Lol

I hope that in our gray years, we would still travel together, discover new places and explore foodie hunts. 

Today, I raise my champagne flute to a woman of grace, strength and incredible sense of humor. To many happy returns, cheers! Here's to you, Proverbs 31 woman!
Before the sunset. Poro Point.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Slice High Street at BGC

Back when High Street Central was still taking on its shape, landscaping-wise, Slice High Street was already giving those with sweet tooth a run for their money along with fellow new comer Jamba Juice. 

I remember the cart that sold yummy cupcakes. We kept on bugging the crew when the resto would finally open. A few months later, it opened to the delight of many. It offers not just desserts but healthy menu, as well. 
Mongo with tofu and highland Red Rice. My all-time fave!
Quickly, the cafe became our favorite hangout place. It's here where I met up some of my wedding suppliers. TweetUps, too with social media friends. I've written a few blogs here while munching on my dessert. 
Yema Caramel and Banana Carrot cupcakes. (P65 each)

On rainy nights when you want to wax nostalgia even when you're not home, you can sip the time away with a really good hot chocolate. 
Belgian Hot Chocolate.
Here we are in February 2012.
And this is how a night cap, al fresco in Slice does it. 

You may try the all-day breakfast menu and the salad bar. You can also bring home with you packed trail mix. 

This is a place that you also want to hangout with friends to catch up and truly enjoy al fresco casual dining. The great news here: it's NO SMOKING! Kudos to Sen Pia for sticking it out.

If you want comfort food, Slice is the best place to be. You may even be rubbing elbows with local artistas (celebrities) who dine here on any non-event night.

Slice High Street
G/F High Street Central
Bonifacio Global City
(02) 5537783



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy birthday, Ma!

We had a short holiday in my hometown in Davao over the weekend. We haven't been home since our wedding; missed the barrio Christmas celebration. One celebration we didn't want to miss was our mom's 60th birthday. 
She had to share her moment with the grand kids.This little boy thinks it's his birthday.
She's now officially a senior citizen. I used to remember my mom being pretty and skinny. She never seem to wear any make-up. She puckers up her lips only on special occasions like attending my siblings and mine's graduation. Or my wedding.

I think life didn't treat her kindly. We were more than a handful growing up. And all her life she had been smoking. I feel sorry whenever I think about how youthful she'd look if only she took care of her skin, didn't smoke and had it easy in life.  

When I think long and hard though, I realized that her weathered appearance is a testament to her selflessness in raising six children, five of them boys. She was our first teacher. She taught us to read, to dream. She instilled discipline in our rowdy brood. She never spared the rod. 

She never held back for us. She worked tirelessly so all of us can get our education. Over the years, we made her proud with our small achievements but we also broke her heart many times over. 

Yet, she was ever constant in our lives. Never asking much. She fuels us with her determination, persistence and love. We're a family that does not openly express our gratitude to each other. So, in small ways we send our messages through food, acts of kindness and coming home. 

Ma, happy birthday! Know that my wings have spread and I have pursued my place in the sun because you inspired me to. Thank you for the the ever constant provision of your time, energy and grace. We love you, Ma. 

It is my prayer that you will live long. And that somehow I'd be able to repay your sacrifices. One day, I'll make the things I secretly promised for you happen. 

Tyrone and I will.



Ramen Night at Ukokkei Ramen Ron

Lately, am having this fixation with ramen. Whenever I have the chance to dine out, my first option is to go to a ramen house. I think I'd be filling this page with all things ramen in the next few weeks. 

The next stop on my ramen quest is Ukokkei Ramen Ron. I must say that this house is just one of the many Japanese restaurants that line the length of Arnaiz Avenue in San Lorenzo Village in Makati. It's easy to miss. It's very nondescript. 

But there's nothing forgettable about the food, I must say. My girlfriends and I went there armed with the knowledge that its bowls are not for sharing. And it closes early in the night (9pm). 

Looking at the menu, you'd have to (almost) order by faith. There's no English translation except for the name of the dish. 

Seated at the bar, we took turns giving our orders. Josette went for Tantanmen. 
Tantanmen is moderately spicy (P390)

I had Ukokkei Miso Chasu. I love the richness of its soup. It has the right mix of saltiness and creaminess. The ramen is not soggy which is what I like. Plus, it comes in a large bowl. The pork that comes with it is thinly sliced that adds flavor to the already rich ramen. So far, this is my best. 
Ukkokei Miso Chasu (P380)

Lunch Set: Ramen, Rice, Salad (P380)

If you're looking for your next ramen stop, you may check out Ukokkei Ramen Ron. It's located at Paseo Tesoro. Please, please don't make the same we made. We went to the Tesoro's building towards EDSA. Both building are on the same side but Ukkokei Ramen Ron is towards Don Bosco. 

Ramen should be perfect for the rainy season, don't you think? 



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Happy 25th, Kitty Kat!

Dear Kat, 

Congratulations on reaching a new milestone in your adult life. Turning a quarter of a century brings many exciting things, some profound realizations and an incredible opportunity to make your mark into this world.  

Am sure that your parents are very proud of the fact that you turned up to be a well-rounded wonderful daughter. And the angels in heaven must be playing a merry song as they celebrate with you. An orchestra, maybe.

Thank you for being such a lovely friend. Thank you for the gift of your presence in our wedding. You made it more memorable. And the generous gift, you, Mara and Me-an pooled. We were so floored!

I don't know if the few years that we've shared as friends qualify me to share 25 fun facts/attributes about you but let me try, anyway. 

1. You are fiercely independent despite being an only child. 
2. You soak up culture. Traveling and studying abroad taught you to explore places, understand their history, and see the world from a local's perspective.

3. When traveling, you'll choose museum and food over shopping, anytime.
4. You are WICKED. You love plays; you'd rather pay more to watch stage plays than shop. 

5. You are mature yet very child-like in your disposition. 
6. You are outspoken yet tamed in your speech.
7. You appreciate small little gestures like remembering your prom night. 
8. You go on a diet because you think you're too fat. Or rather not skinny enough for the beach. 
9. You like to EAT but you don't add pounds, even if you foolishly think that you are gaining weight.
10. You want your friends to do a pinky swear when you share a particularly juicy information about you.
11. You love math. In fact, ALGEBRA is your middle name. 
12. You are wise in money matters. You know how to invest your hard earned income. You do this while your contemporaries are busy spending theirs. 
13. You swoon over Pinoy romance movies. You even memorized some of the lines and dialogues. Popoy and Basha are your go-to characters and their dialogue.
14. You are passionate about your beliefs but manage not to alienate those who don't share them. 
15. You have the propensity to take pictures of your crazy poses. As you call it stupid face.

16.You're very domesticated in spite of your charmed life -- you can cook, bake, wash dishes, do your laundry among other things. It's like being Cinderella sans the wicked stepmom.
17. You make time for all of your friends. I think it's sweet.
18. You appoint Sunday as family day and it's non-negotiable.
19. You genuinely cheer for your friends' successes and lift them up when downtrodden.
20. You go gaga over Harry Potter.
21. You've memorized the lyrics of all Disney films.
22. Your ultimate goal is to have a family and be a house wife. *clap clap*
23. You get giddy when you talk about your sando boy, Andre.
24. You make life beautiful.
25. You are beautiful.

Keep the faith. Enjoy your journey. And I pray that just like Jabez, your territory will be enlarged. 

Happy 25th, Katrina! Many happy returns. Cheers!



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wrong Ramen

I've heard about the fuss and hype about Wrong Ramen about a month ago. We tried going there once but we were turned away; long queue. We can't wait as our tummies are grumbling already. 

Sunday night, Tyrone and I braved the long walk from High Street to Burgos Circle. Lo and behold, the place is on a steady pace. We got our table in less than 10 minutes. 

Wrong Ramen serves homemade Hakata-style (thin and firm) noodles in a huge bowl of hot soup.

Tyrone ordered The Communist. He loved it. According to him, it has the right amount of kick, spicy as it is.
Inspired by Chinese hotpots: Seven Asian spices in a fiery red pork broth topped with sliced chashu and burnt garlic oil (P395)
I, on the other hand, had this. I have to admit, I didn't like it much. So-so for me. I think what undid it for me is the milky taste. I have a slight derision for cream-based dishes. I compensated by adding a lot of pepper. But then again, even in my own cooking, pepper is a fixture.
If you're sensitive to pork fat: a lighter version of their classic tonkotsu. Served with shredded chashu. (P290)

We shared this yummy rice wrappers! Dipping them in the sauce is a delight. It tastes really good. I'd recommend this anytime to go with any of the Ramen.
Shredded chashu rolled in rice wrappers. Served with ponzu sauce. (P140)

We also had tofu. But there's nothing special about it. And I forgot to take a picture. Ha ha.

What I love about this restaurant is it's cosmopolitan feel. Anyone who walks in would feel comfortable right away. In fact, there were a lot of solo diners that evening. So, it gets my vote. No squirmy feeling there. 

It also is very cheeky. There's a framed origami-like text that says YOLO (you only live once) in one corner. On the landing of the second floor stairs are a set of clocks. Underneath it has this text: International Branches (We wish) Tokyo, New York, etc 

Good humor, eh? And optimistic. 

Service is really fast. And the wait staff are polite and not annoying, at all. 

Wrong Ramen is located at: 
Forbes Town Center
Burgos Circle
Bonifacio Global City

Go ahead, check it out for yourself. It's a pleasant experience. By the way, they don't accept reservations. I think it's part of the experience they'd want to foster. That feeling where you can just duck in anytime, at your favorite neighborhood Ramen house.



Psalm 23

I forget how beautiful this song until Nick Vujicic shared this last Sunday. Thank you, God for reminding me of your awesome presence in my life. Here's the song of David in Psalm 23.

Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Go ahead, get "drunk" with God's word.



Monday, May 20, 2013

Nick Vujicic

How would you feel if you woke up one day without arms and legs? Am sure it would be a horrible situation to be in. Imagine, being born into this world without them. And imagine, the helplessness of anyone who has the means to help but can't because the power of physician's to heal (in this case, grow limbs) is limited. 

There's one person who preaches the joy one can have in spite of disability or being differently-abled. His message is shared through his Ministry Without Limbs. His name is Nick Vujicic

Last Sunday, my good friend Erika invited me to attend the 11am service of Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF). Nick will speak about his ministry. He's in the Philippines for a show at the Araneta Coliseum. Of course, I accepted. I wanted to hear this man who did not just overcome his limitation but is joyfully sharing the message of God's love and grace.  

Speaking of which, I feel like I got a second chance that day. You see on my way to church, I had an easy cab ride (hubby was out-of-town; my license is expired) but when I got near the church... it was total chaos. I was a stone's throw away but it took me an hour to get to the other side of the road where Tiendesitas is. 

Never mind my cab rate, I was more worried about being late. I wanted to be there. But the devil sabotaged my disposition. He placed me in a situation where my impatience, brattiness and utter single-mindedness that I succumbed. The taxi ride that took forever ended up depositing me at the wrong end of the street (Silver City). 

I got lost in the Tiendesitas area. I actually forgot to ask Erika what exactly is the name of the building so I can find it. Too late, that day calls won't go through. The sun was at it's hottest and everyone I asked for direction, pointed me vaguely towards the end of the road. 

After going in circles, I pouted and whined in my head (there's no one to bitch about with), for an hour, I decided to just look for an ATM so I can go home and just be done with it. Am parched. And I have no money in my wallet. But alas, the only ATM I found inside  Tiendesitas was offline. 

Since I can't take a cab back, I decided to walk back to Silver City. I figured that there should be at least one bank there since it's a mall. I've gone full circle. And by this time, madder as mad can get. Starving, too. 

I cooled my head off inside Starbucks and I read. Meantime, Erika has been texting, coaxing me to have lunch instead then, we can go back to church for the 3pm service. It took me a while to respond. I was still simmering. In my mind, I dubbed it as my disaster Sunday. What a mess!

Reluctantly though, I let her fetch me. And am glad I did. My mess became a message. The 3pm service didn't have Nick speaking in person. He needed to rest because he's throat is bothering him and as I mentioned he had a large crowd waiting at the coliseum the day after. 

But the power of his video message was just as powerful. He talked about challenges, deformities and heart ache. He preached that all these are real to him and yet by the grace of God, he is able and joyfully sharing God's message of salvation. 

My prayer at this moment is for you to take the time to listen and watch this video.

 My takeaway to his message are: 

1. Your circumstance does not define you.  It's the decision about your circumstance that does. 
2. Life without suffering is not God's plan for all of us. Eternal happiness awaits those who are heaven-bound in the many mansions God has built for his children where roads are paved in gold.
3. No one is strong enough to take on the world. Only God can soothe our pain. Philippians 4:13 promises that "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength". 
5. You are on this earth for a purpose. And that is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 
6. God does not break his promises. 
7. Our mission is to know Christ and make him known... to all the ends of the earth. 
8. Amidst our brokenness, God sees someone beautiful and worthy of His love and grace. 
9. When we stumble, He picks us up, time and time again. 
10. We should step out in faith. 

My morning was a mess. God has a seriously funny way of showing me the minuteness of my plight in the great scheme of things. What a blessing!

 Have a blessed week, friends!



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Crossfit, Ribs and Delicious Pain

Our friend Sandra is a fitness addict. She goes bored if she's not physically active. Her typical day consists of a 10km run in the morning around her village or an hour session of crossfit then end her day with one more crossfit session. On top of that she's on a paleo diet. 

Our lunch conversations are peppered with her crossfit experiences and the inevitable  invitations. We flaked on her so many times she just stopped inviting. After a business trip to Hong Kong she was bursting with enthusiasm for all of us to do crossfit together. 

In a spirit of solidarity, we said yes. Last night, I died. Off we went to the new box of Crossfit Manila along Legaspi Village. 

CrossFit begins with a belief in fitness. The aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness. We have sought to build a program that will best prepare trainees for any physical contingency — not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable. After looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing.

CrossFit is many things. Primarily, it’s a fitness regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades. He was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains). CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). CrossFit is also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together. In fact, the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective. 

The trial session started with a community warm up. In itself, it was already challenging for me. Five pushups in one go? I can't even begin to imagine myself dropping to the floor and do the push up. Awkwardly, I did the exercises with grunts here and there. Old and unfit hag!

And then the real thing began. Our coach Kirby clocked us to finish the WOD (Work Out of the Day) of five rounds of 200 meter running, 15 reps box jumps, and 15 reps wall balls.

I live a fairly sedentary life. So, when the clock was set my heart beat did an overdrive. The first round was relatively easy. But the running, jumping and squatting while throwing a 3kg ball made me pant. On my second round, my legs already felt like jelly. But I mustered enough courage to pull me through. It helps too that the people around were very encouraging, helpful even. 

One guy even run with me so I won't give up. Another crossfit guy is Rovilson Fernandez who never failed to shout out motivating words and would even high-five me as our path crosses during the run. And he doesn't even know me!

On my third round, I frantically looked for my friends. I tried to gauge their number of rounds completed. Naturally, Sandra made it seem like a walk in the park. When they say the spirit is willing but the body is weak -- is never truer in my case. I wanted to finish the rounds because I didn't feel like embarrassing myself. Although, the first thing the coach says before the session starts is to leave your ego at the door. 

At this stage, I was already feeling woozy. I can feel the bile rising from my belly to my throat. And then Rovilson saw me. Seeing that "am done" look on my face, he egged me to give it a little more push. He boxed jumped with me. He says things like stay with me, look at me, inhale, exhale. One more jump. Inhale. Exhale. Before I knew it we finished my 15 reps of box jumps. 

Then, we moved on to the wall balls. He did it as slowly as I did. Pushing me some more, one ball at a time. He kept on checking the clock trying to get me to do as many squats and throws as I can before the buzzer rings. 

No wonder people call him Mr Nice Guy. He truly is. No qualms about being nice to strangers. It helped too that he had the time to help some of us newbies. He finished in half the time!

To you, Mr Rovilson Fernandez thank you for pushing me to do more. And you really are not just fit but an awesome fellow. Keep on inspiring!

As the clock stopped, I found myself slumped on top of the box feeling dizzy. And I threw up. I puked not just once but thrice! Ew, I know. But.

I had time to recuperate as Sandra did her remaining crossfit activities. And we goofed around, too. 
Mara, Me-an, Me and Sandra

Row, row, row...

Live weights

We tried to walk our way to a big cup of chilled juice in Greenbelt. But alas, Big Chill was already closed. Ack. Very disappointing considering that I was already limping, my ankle hurt, my legs hurt. A lot of body parts hurt!

Sandra dropped off Me-an and I in the office. As we exited the parking,  I had this sudden inspiration to eat salad at Alexa's Deli. On our way though, we saw Rue Bourbon. We devoured its ribs and mashed potato. Hihihi. 

You would have thought that I'd sleep right away the moment I'd hit my pillow. But I didn't. I learned that Me-an didn't also. I think the adrenaline is still coursing through our body. I read to while away the time. 

When morning rolled in, I woke up to pain that increases with every tiny movement. Ah, the sleeping fats in my body were disturbed. But then a thought hit me -- this is delicious pain! It means we really did work out. And whatever muscles I have beneath the layers of fat are woken up. 

At lunch, we talked about going back when the pain has subsided. We even plan of doing our version of workout shopping to find our perfect fit. Right now though, am concentrating on finding a happy place as my thighs and arms are killing me. 
DNF (Did Not Finish). Whoa.

But as I've said, it's a good kind of pain. Have you tried crossfit? Tell me about it. 

If you want to know more, here's a link.  



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Today, we celebrate Mother's Day. To all the moms, here's a toast to your unconditional love, patience, sacrifice, selflessness, wisdom and awesome presence in the lives of your children, husband and community. You rock!
There is no singular gift in the world that can express our gratitude for shaping us into who we are today. But know that you are appreciated and loved. 

Photo Source: Pinterest

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!