Category: Manila

Max Restaurant Vs Aristocrat Restaurant

Max Restaurant Vs Aristocrat Restaurant

Before we left the Philippines we held von voyage parties and treated our family to a couple of dinners.

Prior to Marilou’s departure for Los Angeles, on 7th July, we went to Max Restaurant in Malate.  We thoroughly enjoyed the meal, the service was good and the venue was family-friendly.

The food was so good.  We had sinigang na hipon (there were lots of shrimps on the two pots provided, Max’ signature dish of fried chicken was delicious.  It was soft and moist in the inside and crispy at the outside.

The kare-kare was to die for.  It was so delicious in itself, the bagoong that went with it was almost redundant.

The fried pork bellies were so  crunchy and good portion.

The fried bangus came with the most sour vinegar I have ever tasted that it send me coughing for a little bit.  It was delicious though.

The glasses of pineapple juices were very much appreciated.

For afters we had a very cooling, very colourful buko pandan.

The amount of the food was too much for the nine of us that we had to have doggie bags for some of the leftovers.

Anyway fun and full stomachs were had by all.

On the eve of our own departure for London on the 12, we decided to bring the family we were living behind in the Philippines to Aristocrats Restaurant, also in Malate an adjacent to Max Restaurant.

I was feeling unwell then so I was unable to go.  Instead Peter went with the Family.

After the meal they came to the hotel full of negative comments about Aristocrats.

They said it was so different from Max.

The service was atrocious.  They had to remind the restaurant staff about their orders a few times.  The food was okay to be fair but nothing special.

I think Aristocrat has become a victim of its own success.  Once upon a time, it used to be the haunt of the moneyed class.

But due to Filipinos having more disposable income, there are more customers and potential customer wanting a bit of the Aristocrat’s reputation of long ago.  Unfortunately the staff can’t cope with the increase demand, thus the service is  now rudimentary.  The waiting staff appear rather indifferent.

Peter was so annoyed that he wished now that he did not leave any trip, as the waiters did not deserve any. 🙂 🙂 🙂

So if I have to choose which restaurant to go to?  I would definitely go for Max!

Tawas by Candle (Supernatural Healing)

Tawas by Candle, photo by JMorton

Tawas by Candle (Supernatural Healing)

This time round, our visit to the Philippines is more tumultuous than past vacations, for obvious reason that we came home because our mother had passed away.

All of us have suffered from some form of ailments, mostly stomach ache, diarrhoea, stomach bug related.

It became ridiculous the amount of time we spent in the toilet and despite medication like imodium, diatabs and the likes, we continue to suffer.

There is only one thing left, consult the great lady of Necodemus in Tondo.  Apparently she has a very long experience of curing people without the expense of money and time consulting medical doctors and hospitals.

This lady of Necodemus can diagnose using candles and a bowl of water.

Sometimes, she does not even have to see the patient or know the full name.

Anyway the first one to consult the Lady of Necodemus, was Marilou.  She had not been sleeping because of acute stomach ache and the constant need to go to toilet.

The Lady of Nicodemus, did her supernatural bit by letting the tears from a lit candle fall into a bowl of water.  The tears from the candle then started to form a shape.  Marilou’s one has so much indentations and protuberance that it could only be a man.  🙂 🙂  The Lady of Necodemus said that a man (living) had hexed (usog) Marilou.  The lady prescribed Marilou a drink of a pancit pancit tea.  It seemed to have worked as Marilou finally had her good night sleep denied to her during the last few days.

When I heard about this shenanigans, I was so intrigued that I sent Dayday to the Lady of Necodemus to diagnose Peter.  Dayday said that she would go after 6pm, to ensure the power of the Lady of Necodemus was more potent.  Who am I to argue?!!! 🙂

At exactly 6pm, Dayday went and spoke to the Lady.  After the candle ritual, it was found out that Peter had not been hexed by anyone because the candles formed a very smooth shape, pretty normal.  His stomach upset was due to dinuguan, eating lots of bloodied pork!  How did the lady know about this.  Again Peter was prescribed the pancit pancit tea and to eat grilled pork and tofu.  He has not followed the advice, ergo still he still suffers from mild to acute stomach ache!

Just then my brother, who said he does not believe in supernatural hokus pokus, said that his left eye had turned red.  He said it just happened and the only strange thing that happened to him that day was meeting a cat at a hotel room that is largely not reached or occupied by paying guest.  My brother was there to fix the air-conditioning system.

Anyway Alma went to the Lady of Necodemus, who by now was absolutely perplexed by the goings on in our house in Fullon. 🙂 🙂 🙂

The lady said that we or my family in Fullon is living with a dwende (supernatural little person) in the house and that it is better to keep him undisturbed as he is harmless. Woah!!!

Also my brother seemed to have offended the spirit in the hotel and therefore he had to make amends by offering a sacrifice of 3 cigarettes, a glass of beer, a plate of food place in the darkest corner of the house.  My brother also has to say heartfelt apology.

Believe it or not!

Nostalgic Trip to Sergio Osmena High School

Nostalgic Trip to Sergio Osmena High School

After buying a new bed at Maypajo early this afternoon, Marilou and I decided to go back for some memory lane trip at the nearby Gagalangin.

Alma, our sister-in-law, asked us several times if we knew where we were going.  Marilou and I confidently replied, “Of course, we know after all for 4 years we went to Osmena!” Smirk, smirk!!! 🙂

Now, we got out and lo and behold!, everything is different, there is now a McDonald where some lovely stationery shops were once located.  Still we walked confidently following a straight path to Osmena.

It was so hot today. Thank goodness for the umbrella Alma insisted we take, at least we had some sort of cover from the punishing sun.

We had been walking more than five minutes when our confidence started to ebb.  We can’t find Osmena High School.

Good thinking Marilou, decided to ask a kind-hearted lady, who said that Osmena HS is located near the market in Bulacan.  We asked her where the old one was?

She pointed to something near a bridge.  My mind must be going as I don’t remember a bridge near our old school.  Anyway we went to a building near the bridge but it did not look or feel like the old Osmena.  We asked someone again and was told that the old building was over there, pointing to some ambulance trucks.

Luckily we met a young man near the ambulance trucks and he pointed to an ongoing huge construction behind him.  He said that was the old Osmena, pointing directly to the signage next to it.  It sure said that the project is for Osmena High School.  He did say that was not true.  This building work is for Torres High School.

If this is the case, then it is coming in full circle.

I was told that Osmena High School was originally created to take in the overflow of students from Torres High School.

Marilou and I were a couple of intrepid alumni, no doubt about that.  We decided to investigate further and look into the new Osmena High School.

We were decidedly surprised to see a well maintained gated building.  Lovely potted plants were hanging in corridors.  There was even an outside auditorium.  A bust of Sergio Osmena prominently displayed in front of the Osmena building.

Though we also noted that the girls’ toilet needed renovation, it was still a far cry from the days when we were young students of Osmena.  We made do with a building with broken windows.  We do not have a gated building with a yard so we did our flag ceremony outside where anyone can see, overlooked by anyone who lived nearby.  We marched round and round the street for our Citizen Army Training (CAT).

We were the poor relation of Torres High then, that can’t be said now.  And yet looking at the rankings of high schools in the Philippines, Torres High School ranks at #88 while Osmena is not in the list of the 220 tops.  🙂  What has happened?!!!

Taxi Vs Jeepney Vs Sidecar (Philippines)

Taxi Vs Jeepney Vs Sidecar (Philippines)

We have been going everywhere using taxi services, Uber mainly and once, Grab. A couple of times, we rode a jeepney but got a bit of a fright!

For economic sense, riding jeepney is the best choice but sometimes it can be daunting.  Especially when riding with rather suspect looking individuals/passengers.

Marilou, Dayday, Peter and I rode a jeepney travelling from Munoz to Tayuman.  There were a couple of men, one was coughing incessantly in a very threathening way, the other went to seat behind the driver as soon as some passengers got out.

The atmosphere turned rather dark and I was frightened for Peter, being a foreigner with obviously expensive camera nonchalantly taking photos after photos on the moving jeepney.  He was ignoring my eye contact/signal as he was busy with his activity, which made me more nervous.  I was thinking which would I use as a weapon, my shoes or handbag or both as I have two hands?!!! 🙂

As soon as we got to Tayuman, the man seating behind the driver suddenly barked “walang bababa” (no one’s going down). Thankfully Peter do not understand Tagalog and quite quick to  get out of the hot jeepney.  We thank our lucky star that we were lucky!  However, Peter got a bit frightened  and now refuses to ride a jeepney, which he once loved.

I don’t want to be negative about jeepneys; they are very cheap but we did really get a real scare.

Taxis are in umbrage with regards to Uber and Grab.  They think that Uber and Grab are taking away their business by offering cheaper fares.  Often taxis would negotiate a price rather than use the metre.  And the friendlier the driver, the more he expect extra tips.  I noticed also that they do not have SatNav and expected the passenger to know where they are going and ask for direction.  This unbalances me sometimes as I am rather weak in giving direction. 🙂

Uber are really reliable.  They are permanently connected to their control and navigation.  Of course they have situations as well.  We order an Uber once, who still has passengers.  We saw the plate number of our allotted  car and I thought it was going away, I don’t want to be charged for someone else using our uber account.  We ran after the car shouting for it to stop.  It did and the driver profusely apologised.  He said that he was just dropping off the passenger and was coming back to us.  Well we did not know that as my Uber account said our driver had arrived, but went without us.

Grab is a Southeast Asian Uber-like taxi service.  Reliable also just like Uber.

Sidecars are growing closed to my heart.  They are the most convenient as you can hail them anywhere, which means they can be a source of traffic to the road.  The drivers are energetic and friendly and lovely to Peter.  They can’t do enough for him, trying their rather fluent English with Peter, the Englishman.

Duterte @ Manila Hotel

The President’s chopper, photo by PH Morton

Manila Hotel, photo by PH Morton

Duterte @ Manila Hotel

I was so annoyed when we finally got to our hotel.  We were staying at the Manila Hotel.

Almost halfway the long drive of Manila Hotel, our uber was stopped.  Apparently it can no longer go past that point as the President, Rodrigo Duterte, was currently at the hotel attending the 2017 ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nation) conference.

It was a muggy night and rather dark everywhere.  So I complained that it was unfair to hold a meeting in an expensive hotel and putting customers out who paid good money.  I suggested, why not hold major conference in CCP or PICC or even Folk Arts Theatre?!!!

I have to say the hotel security guards as well as the presidential guards were all politeness and apologies.

We walked all the way to H20 hotel and then to Manila Hotel by foot in the dark!!!

Along the way, we noticed a helicopter, which was heavily guarded.

So again, I went mental about too much expense when Malacanan Palace, the official residence of the First Family of the Philippines, was just around the corner.

Peter very sagely reminded me of the horrendous traffic in Roxas Boulevard.  The President would have been seating in traffic for too much time that he probably doesn’t have from his busy schedule.

Ooopps, Peter was so right.

A chopper is the best presidential tool to overcome ‘tanginang’ traffic!!!  🙂

H20 Hotel, Manila, Review

Bay view at H20, iphone photo by JMorton

H20 Hotel, Manila, Review

I have to admit H20 Hotel is our favourite hotel in Manila.

It is not perfect, in fact I could think of a few flaws right now but having said that there are more positive features against the negative ones.

For a starter the rooms are a delight.  We have now stayed in both the Aqua and the Bay view rooms.  Both have charms of their own as what the Tagalogs would say “Walang itulak Kabigin”, which means it is just impossible to choose.

The only strange thing is how transparent the toilet door was.  You can be heard as well as seen doing your business in there.  Also there should have been a sort of barrier on the floor of the wet room from the rest of the bedroom.

I love a good full on shower and the room provides a good strong gust of water from the beautifully huge fixed shower head by the ceiling of the bathroom.  Unfortunately the water splashes everywhere including where the paper toilet roll was attached, ergo it get soaked and when finally dry, it was not that fit for purpose anymore.  Not only that, some water would come out of the bathroom into the room, creating a small flood just outside the shower door.  Thank goodness, it did drain pretty quickly.

The housekeeping was very thorough with their job, the room was always clean and tidy.

The restaurant Makan Makan, is a revelation; it provides breakfast and it has plenty to offer in terms of variety of food, but not too much, which can leave your head in a whirl.  And it is important as well to talk about the price.  For just P400 pesos (which is so reasonable compared to other hotel of less varied food) you can eat as much as you like to your heart’s content.

It is a very popular hotel, especially for families.  Well it is next door to Manila Ocean Park, a place which would surely amuse the kids and adults alike to no end.  But do not be alarmed, you do not hear the sound of noisy children or other people/activities once you are in your own hotel room.

We would definitely stay in this hotel again.

Font of Holy Water

Font, photo by PH Morton

Font of Holy Water

Near every entrance of a Catholic Church, you will often see a sculpture of a font containing Holy Water.

Catholics are encouraged to dip their fingers onto the font and do the sign of the cross upon entering the church.  The water symbolises baptism, being reborn to God’s will and glory.

The above fonts are particularly appealing, I think.  The water containers are sculpted as part or held by angels.

Peter took the photo when we visited the Santa Cruz Church in Manila, when we stayed at the Ramada Hotel in Binondo.

Ramon Ongpin

Ramon Ongpin, Photo by JMorton

Ramon Ongpin, Photo by JMorton

Ramon Ongpin

Ramon Ongpin, Photo by JMorton

Ramon Ongpin, Photo by JMorton

A street named Ongpin in Manila has always fascinated me. The area is where there is a concentration of Chinese immigrants in the Philippines.

With them they brought their culture and traditions as well as their food and superstitions.

Ongpin Street is where to buy real high carat gold jewelries. It is the Hatton Garden of the Philippines.

Many Chinese have immigrated to the Philippines long before the Spaniards had colonised the Philippines for 333 years.

The Spanish rule ceased when pockets of uprising by the Filipinos from all over the country finally took place.  One of the biggest and most famous militant organisation was the KKK (Kagalanggalan Kataastasan Katipunan ng mga anak ng Bayan, in English, Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation), in short, Katipunan.

Apparently Ramon Ongpin, a prosperous Filipino Chinese businessman, bankrolled the Katipunan, making him a Filipino hero himself.

The plaque on the right side confirms this.  He loved his country, the Philippines, that he was such as philanthropist; very altruistic.  He was born in Binondo, Manila on 28 February 1847.

In 1883, he established a business which he called El ’82. It was the first shop to use fixed price in Colon Street way back in 1883. El ’82 (the ’82) shop was named after the year when cholera wiped out a great number of the Philippine population. As Feng Shui would have it, it was not about death but more of a rebirth of the country from the pernicious epidemic.

He was elected as the Lieutenant in charge of the white half-cast (mestizo/white children born of Spanish parents and Filipinos and Filipinos and Chinese).

When the Spaniards found out that he was helping the katipuneros (revolutionaries) by allowing the group to post their propaganda materials as well us funding their ammunitions, he was jailed in 1896.

He was truly a revolutionary at heart because he was jailed again by the Americans (the new colonisers who bought the Philippines from the Spanish overloads), when Ramon Ongpin continued helping the revolutionary groups.

Sacrista Street was renamed Ongpin Street as a way of honouring Ramon Ongpin for his patriotism and benevolence.

Another interesting fact about Ramon Ongpin is that he was the first one to wear the Barong Tagalog, national dress shirt of Filipino men (see above statue).  I have to admire his taste.  Barong Tagalog, the traditional creamy coloured ones, can make any man look presentable and yet I find that most Filipinos would rather wear a 2-piece suit with the ubiquitous ties, to social gatherings even during the hottest of weathers! Strange!

The Filipino Chinese Ongpin was more patriotic than the rest as far as wearing the ‘sariling atin’ constume. 🙁

Money Changer in Manila

@The Money Changer, Photo by PH Morton

@the Money Changer, photo by PH Morton

@the Money Changer, photo by PH Morton

When we went to the Philippines, Peter and I had P10,000 (10,000 pesos) each.  We read on the internet that one is only allowed to bring in P10,000 each but you can bring in $10,000 (or any other denomination) if you wanted.

Anyway with all the recent laglag bala (planted bullets) anomalies at the Ninoy Aquino International airport, we dare not bring in more than we should in terms of the pesos even though P20,000 will not get us much.  We did not want NAIA to have any reason to give us a hard time, do we?!!!

We used John Lewis in Brent Cross as opposed to the Post office, which was our regular currency converter.  John Lewis did a better rate.

So with our P20,000 and more pounds sterling in our pocket we went to the Philippines and had a real good time.

But it was really expensive.  Marilou, the dollar girl from LA, and I were always changing money.

We tried changing monies at SM (ShoeMart) and BDO (Banco de Oro) but we had to bring in proof of identity, which is a bummer (I refuse to bring my passport everywhere; I had a bad experience in Rome with snatchers) and the queue can be horrendous, plus the fact that their exchange rate was not competitive enough.

Luckily, there were a lot of money changers in Tutuban Centre, which is only a tricycle ride away from our mother’s house.

The one we used all the time is located near the Robinson’s Supermarket.  They don’t ask any question, and the rate is much better than SM and the banks.  And the place looks fairly safe; of course, you have to be aware of your money and belongings at all times, just like anywhere else in the world.

I was so happy the first time we changed money because the rate was so high, even higher than John Lewis’s but with the news that Cameron had finally named the date for EU referendum, the pound sterling plummeted quite a bit.  It was so good that our holiday was coming to an end by then and I had changed most of our monies.

Mall of Asia Arena Concert: Regine, Martin, Eric & Angeline

Mall of Asia Arena Concert: Regine, Martin, Eric & Angeline

My sister thought that it would be a laugh to attend a pre-St Valentine’s concert at the MOA featuring Regine Velasquez (who has been given the moniker of Queen of concert halls/stage and also being Asia’s Songbird), Martin Nievera (King of Philippine concert halls), Eric Santos (thought to be the one likely to take over from Martin Nievera) and Angeline Quinto (the crown princess from Regine). Thus the concert was called The Royals; a real soap opera!

The concert was meant to start at 8:00pm but no, nothing happened at 8, except being  bombarded again and again by advertisements of those sponsoring the concert.  This was literally over and over, again and again as if trying to subliminally indoctrinate you to go eat yourself lechon to high blood pressure and washed yourself afterwards with some baby products and then go shop for new designer gowns, after, of course, you have whiten your skin with Belo.

As the advertisements went on without cease, some officers from the Philippine Red Cross and Fire department started wheeling some rather overweight VIP moneyed patrons.  I must admit I felt really uncomfortable seeing moneyed people given so much deference from the donation/tax deductible funded organisations.  Surely the Philippine Red Cross has more worthy and pressing projects to attend to than escorting some individuals, who can obviously afford to hire a few minders to see them good anywhere, anytime.

To pass away the time as the concert did not feel to be starting any time soon, we started ‘celebrity’ watching.  We saw Vice Ganda arrived, followed closely by Aiko Melendez (according to my sister), who looked so lovely but so cold given the mottled skin from her black backless jumpsuit (i think). Poor woman, next time bring a cardigan, love!  We also saw the handsome ex-boyfriend of Sharon Cuneta, Rowell Santiago.

When the show did finally start, it was rather buoyant; it was of dancing girls and men from a Paris ball of the Marie Antoniette kind but given an extremely modern twist when the women started gyrating like vixen on heat, legs apart, showing their frilly knickers, simulating sex.

The four divas then started belting some of Queen’s hits like Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock you, Somebody to Love, etc.

It was good but the public did not forgive easily after waiting so much time for the show to start.  Not many showed enthusiasm.

As the show progress, and as a node to St Valentine’s day, one of the men from the audience was given a chance to propose to his girlfriend. OMG, it was embarrassing, not for the girlfriend but for the boy – he started crying.  I was forced to shout, do not marry him 🙁  🙂

Guess what Regine, Martin, Eric and Angeline took time to enumerate and thanks their sponsors, the very same ones bombarded to the audience again and again before the start of the show.  Yeah, I am sure JLo, Madonna, Mariah Carey, etc would thank (NOT) Nandos, Versace, La Perla, etc while doing their concert.  Only in the Philippines.

The sound system at MOA was not very good. The acoustic was poor.  Basag (broken glass effect), sometimes the glorious singers sounded ngongo or when they hit the high notes, they stopped really singing as they sounded screeching and shouting.

It was so loud as well but having said that, I decided to close my eyes to really feel a Tagalog song being sung by Martin Nievera, I fell asleep instead but woken up by the gentle snoring by my husband next to me.  That was so funny.

During the show, the four singers bragged how they got to where they are, as only Filipinos can; so I did not notice their lacking of  humility.  It was my English husband who commented that the singers were rather ‘full of themselves’!  LOL

Peter like the 80s sound; that was really enjoyable – Sweet dreams are made for this.

Towards the end, they again started thanking the same sponsors, that without the sponsors the show would have not been possible, I think they got their priorities wrong, they should thank the audience for paying through the nose for the tickets and without the monies, there is definitely no concert.   We just had enough and started leaving in droves and not stayed for the encore, if there was even one.

Enjoyable but not of an international category!

%d bloggers like this: