I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

17 November, 2011

Mirabilis 4 o'clock flower

     This flower smells so fragrant beginning in the early evening.  I have seen it growing wild along the road on the Tagaytay ridge. Last year, it suddenly appeared in our garden.  A lovely surprise.

    See my photo of the 4 o'clock flower here.

12 November, 2011

Stamps, the friendly Barangay Post Office, and going postal

     I still enjoy sending and receiving "snail" mail.  Luckily, I still have one (come to think of it just ONE) friend who regularly sends me something on my birthday every year, and on Christmas, even if she is Thai and doesn't really celebrate Christmas the way we do.  She is a stamp collector. Along with a pack of Nestle Thai iced milk tea powder sachets, a present such as bags shirts, or whatever she can send that doesn't cost more than 500 baht to send by mail, are sets of postage stamps. BEAUTIFUL Thai stamps.  Sadly, I am not into philately, though I admire and have cherished all the stamps she has sent me through the years.  I keep the envelopes too. I really have to set up some webpage and scan everything to show them!

     The very last time I had to pick up my parcel from Thailand at the MCPO (Makati City Post Office) on Buendia, I gave away a set of those stamps. Actually, I think it was the envelope I gave to the post man.  He was nice anyway, and remembered that I had been coming to pick up the same kind of parcel with gorgeous stamps inside.  Besides, he was a true collector and was shy to say so. Of course I could share.

     What saddens me is I have not been able to truly share, to return the favor, to my Thai friend.  I have sent her some of our stamps, I have even given her this book about Philippine stamps by the late Reynaldo G. Alejandro (may his soul rest in peace). But I cannot match the stamps she sends me.  Ours just pale, pale pale in comparison. I'm not too proud to send them.  Often, I read press releases about commemorative stamps I would like to own and send to her.  I have not been successful in purchasing any of these, as I could not travel to the main post office in Manila.

     At the MCPO, there is a department upstairs from which to purchase the stamps.  I did get to buy a few, but they did not have the stamps advertised.
It was always disappointing.  Even if the designs had potential or were significant to me, the printing was not as nice as my Thai ones.

     These photos are of the ones I received last month.  I have even better, more brilliant ones tucked away in a closet and bins...from 20 years of friendship.  As an aside, I made friends with her when she hosted me in her home as part of this Japanese-government sponsored program, The Ship for Southeast Asian Youth.  I was a participant during a time when we had no option but to send letters written on paper. There weren't even cellphones in 1991.  I am just so happy she continues to send me these. Oh, and she sent them right before the flooding got around her home in Bangkok, so I received them during.

    Anyway, I have listed my mailing address as one in Paranaque now, and not this one in Sta. Rosa.   I consider it 'safer' in a sense, because then I would not have to go to the bayan to pick up registered mail.  Also, I notice that I only saw the Philpost van twice in here, and that was on our first year. I even spoke to the mail men (because call me postal but I love the idea of mail, post, and stamps, really.), who said they actually deliver registered mail instead of waiting for us to pick them up.  I then learned where the nearest post office in Barangay Don Jose is.  It is just at gate 2 of the Laguna Technopark, at the pedestrian entrance.

   Once, I intentionally mailed something, for my toddler to experience the whole post office thing.  It turns out this little post office room is manned by one interesting lady, but then you can never tell if it's going to be open or shut for the day.  Or some days, half the day.  The friendly security guard will tell you the various reasons, too.  When we finally got lucky, we met the postal lady, who is interesting because of her accessories. She matches her outfits with bangles, necklaces and earrings of similar print/color.  On our first day, it was animal prints, and the other, wooden beads in summer limes and yellow to match her green outfit. I complimented her.

   So now my toddler has this impression that the lady who takes your letter to lola is fashion-conscious.  Really, the accessories did a lot to perk us up (and I'm sure her), in the little roomful of mail to sort.

   I still cannot obtain commemorative stamps from her though. I wanted the John Paul II one, but she said I would have to go to the main office in the bayan, or really, in Manila. My compliment got me a friendly response, but didn't get me the stamps.


09 November, 2011

Robinson's Supermarket Nuvali

     This is the view from the French Baker in Robinson's Supermarket Nuvali.  Honestly, I would have preferred having ACE closer to us than True Value, but then their aesthetics are still appreciated over Ace's. 

     True Value: I just wish the staff didn't just give me a blank look and do the blame thing when I simply suggested to correct the label on the huge Christmas tree for sale. It read "Dog Glass Fir" and I thought I was going to be helpful by spelling it out for them...as, you know, the man's name Douglas perhaps?  I'm not from North America so I really don't know what a real Douglas fir is, but there weren't any customers and I was in jobless-pakialamera mode. I was also pretty sure it wasnt "Dog Glass". I guess, also, the educator in me wanted children who might read it to learn the right name.

     Instead the customer service people were quick to 'blame' the guy quietly sorting the rest of the trimmings as the one who printed the label.  It was kind of embarrassing for him, I think, so I quickly slipped away after muttering to just fix the typo.  Honestly, I thought maybe the labels are based on supplier's labels; that maybe they're printed out for all branches out of some central inventory system.  So the guys had no clue what I was talking about.

     Why do we often have this kind of reaction---to say "ay, si ___ gumawa niyan eh".  Perhaps they were embarrassed too to have a customer point a simple thing (and insignificant, really, in my view) out. I hope it doesn't start from schooling...when rather than aid each other, and support each other, students mock each other for their mistakes or teachers ridicule rather than teach.  A simple thank you, ma'm, and taking down of the sign would have sufficed.  They could confer with the staff responsible for it in private. 


     Something really struck me about the shopping style in Paseo de Sta. Rosa, and moreso in SM Sta. Rosa in our first year.  Customers called the sales girls "ate! ate!" and not "miss" as I did all my life.  What was interesting was, I would study the customer calling "ate" and see that she, the customer was actually a middle-aged woman, and the sales girl inevitably not over 30.  If it happened to be a salesman, of course then the customer would say "kuya". Ate Tagalog for "older sister" and kuya for older brother. 

     I remember thinking, I must have missed a "Pinoy Big Brother" paradigm shift beginning from bedrest till birth and throughout my child's infancy.  Is this the norm in Metro Manila now too?  Then again, I do use the Ilonggo "manong" and "manang" frequently when addressing strangers like, the maintenance people, if I don't know them yet, or vendors on the street.  I use it only when they look older than me, though. I also never use "sister" or "sis".

    The most amusing thing about this "ate, kuya" phenomenon is that it was used to address my toddler...who was visibly the only child with me.  We walked into ACE Hardware, which usually has the sales associates lined up along the aisles, like in SM, greeting repeatedly.  So we walked in, and "hi, ate!"..."ate, anong gusto mo..." "ate ate ate!" . My kid was bewildered. I wondered if she thought she had a little sibling hidden somewhere.

    Seriously, it was quite an unusual thing for me, hearing strangers call the toddler customer "ate".  And I really feel like it is a new thing, or confined to the province.  I would appreciate you telling me when this started, and if it has been happening all over the country.  It's not a life-changing thing, it's just interesting.

    Then again, with the opening of more foreign brands shops in Paseo 4, 5 and Solenad 2, I noticed that calling the sales people "ate", and sales people calling US "ate" isn't the norm.  I do note, that the customer service training of these popular retail chains is even better than before. They do serve well.  And here in Sta. Rosa, the sales people are so friendly, many of them have struck up conversations with me.  It's probably due to my lugging the toddler around, but I find that the neighborhood really is friendly.  And for some reason, many of the service crews, waiters, and sales people are residents of Cabuyao, Laguna next door. That ought to be the subject of another post.

06 November, 2011

Shrike on sampayan

     One of the first friends to welcome us were of the feathery kind.  I have photos to dig up of the Sunbirds who regularly fed on the flowers two years ago, I have videos of yellow and black Orioles.  There are kingfishers on trees surrounding the pool.
     They must have moved to Nuvali.
     Even during their "season", this past year, they were not around as much. I do hope it has nothing to do with the new roads, the loss of tall grass habitat, more of our species.  Sadly, I think it does.

* sampayan is clothesline in Tagalog

Palochina in Binan

     I'm showing the bookshelf, not the books.  It is very simple, straightforward, made of palochina.  I don't know exactly what the name translates to, or if it is even supposed to be one or two words. Palo could mean like a strip of wood (please, somebody, help?), while china would mean that it is wood from China?

     Anyway, palochina used for furniture, usually beds, is sourced from shipping crates.  Carpenters source the crates from the port area in Manila, but I also heard they buy the crates in Santa Rosa. I just don't know where.  I am also not sure how sustainably-produced the wood is, but at least it is recycled from cargo.  These days, the price of palochina is up, owing to low supply of good quality crates.   I suppose it is also due to a decrease in imports?

    I remember palochina being something of a fad in the late '70s to early '80s, or at least I thought it might be when as a child I kept hearing about it from a neighbor in our middle class neighborhood.  She had a 'bar' made (a well-stocked liquor bar set with stools is, I reckon, another fad from the era. I don't think it's as standard an area as it was then. Correct me again here, please?) I digress.

    By the time I wanted furniture made myself, I turned to palochina, as it was affordable, had the Swedish pinewood appearance, and there was a community carpenter whose specialty was the palochina bed.  I had him make little stools for children.  Later I ordered a bed from one of the palochina guys along the Service Road toward Bicutan and across the United Paranaque Subdivision (United Hills).  I have since ordered store shelves and cabinets from a guy named Jose, who has since disappeared from Sucat Rd., and wardrobes from the group on Santolan Ave. across Camp Aguinaldo.  
This bookshelf above, is from my latest palochina carpenters in Binan, Laguna. 

   Trivia:  all these guys are from Isabela in the north. Just ask them. They are all cousins, they say, including the ones along Commonwealth Ave (are they still there?). They must have learned from one great master carpenter, then.  I tend to believe them, too, except maybe the latest, most professional one so far.  Why? Well, no matter how "industrial" your preferred design, meaning all straight lines, they will insist on adding their "curved" border.
    Honestly, I can't even remember whether I drew the curve for them to follow. Then again, I think my sample photo was from an IKEA catalogue and it didn't have the curve. At any rate, it has grown on me, and I concede that straight lines would make the piece too boring and box-like.  These guys, are after all, craftsmen. It's just that, if you aren't really going for the "country cottage" look, make sure you have your design clear. 

   Through the years, the varnish the carpenters use has evolved.  My first orders yellowed due to the finish, my sister's one order turned dirty because she refused varnish, hoping to keep a natural finish. Now, they have achieved the natural finish with a new kind of varnish.  The wood doesn't turn yellow.

   Since our previous bedroom furniture already consisted of palochina, I chose it again for the book and toy shelves. JOVIMAR Palochina along the national highway in Binan, toward SM Sta. Rosa and just before the fork to Sta. Rosa, is a good shop. They did not charge for delivery, either, and have their own van for it. 
   I have observed that many Korean families here (and there are many), opt for palochina tables and beds. Double deck beds made of palochina are popular in the country.  It is quite practical, inexpensive and clean-looking. I recommend Jovimar for their on-time and even early delivery, and for how they try their best to get the design right by thorough discussion.  Jovimar's number is 09263449312.  They don't need advertising, and I get nothing from them for this. They don't even know.  Wait, this again assumes someone's out there reading this. Let me know?

03 November, 2011

current weather in Santa Rosa, Laguna 4:40pm

     Gloomy, rainy, sleepy weather.

Monterey in the Market no more

     Before there was South Supermarket, residents from as 'far' as Laguna Bel-air went to get their meat here and from the Mahogany market in Tagaytay.  This is the meatshop at the Paseo Country Market. It opened the same year we moved here. We got our chicken here weekly, having friendly conversation with the owner's parents.  I heard they even won an award from SMC.  We were actually sad to stop going there in favor of the nearby supermarket (and because we stopped cooking beef and pork at home).  So when we saw this last month, we felt sadder still.  

    Where are you, St.Lucky Ventures?  The mananahi at the market said you are now in Laguna Bel-air. 

28 October, 2011

SMB Oktoberfest

   The San Miguel Oktoberfest is kicking.  Started with fireworks. I can hear the bands, the yelling and all. Oh, this isn't a tweet. I'm not even there. I'm home. Oops.  They're in Greenfield, right along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway.

"Surplus" shops in the area

     There seem to be more "surplus" shops around here.  One, SAM'S is in Binan, on the national road toward SM Sta. Rosa.  We couldn't resist the peek, especially after seeing a mini-bouncy castle set on driveway, plus a children's tractor toy to ride on, and other motorized cars (which I disagree with for toddlers, but that's for the mother blog).  Then, towards Tagaytay, we passed a small space with a crude "Australian surplus" sign outside.  Further on, a "European" surplus sign at Treffpunkt deli. 

    There were some amazing things in the Binan shop, but closer inspection revealed damage labels, clearly indicating the reason the thing was "dumped" (really, isn't that what it is, dumping) here.  There was a nice  trampoline with handlebars, similar to the one in Gymboree.  I was all excited until I read the label saying the mat was torn.  Well, trust the handy Filipino to be able to stitch it back, right? That's also why those things are "dumped" here. We have this ability to repair and recycle, out of necessity.  Most of the appliances, though, are damaged in ways that would cost more to repair than replace. Like, a waffle maker that "does not heat up" according to the label.

   Then there's HMR Philippines.  Some months back, I learned that not many of my equally-thrifty neighbors know that a big HMR warehouse store is right across Toyota Motors Phils along the national highway.  Now I'm not so sure I ought to share the secret, but who's reading this anyway...
Even without my sharing, the place can sell!  

   Today we stopped by, having come from Brentville without a Greenfield sticker.  Turns out, for this long weekend, a motherload of TOYS had been displayed.  In the past years I've purchased kids outdoor furniture, tents, toys from Australia, all at great prices. As of a few weeks ago, there was nothing worthwhile (for me at least). Today, I went crazy and couldn't focus. I hardly got to inspect everything, because I was picking up too many toys to check.  By worthwhile, I'm talking toys not sold in the regular stores, or expensive toys. At HMR, the items generally are not damaged. Only the packaging is, sometimes.  Sometimes the toys appear dirty, but there are also enough stocks to inspect. Sometimes, a small piece of the toy is missing, and sometimes, it's something you can live without (like a headlight decal on a toy car or something). Most times, they are NOT old toys, but current or recent season toys. And I have so far not found anything I was interested in to have had a product recall warning.

   Of course I do my homework.  Safety is priority!

   If you know these toys, you know they're a bargain at HMR:
Playmobil and Sylvanian Families.  Loads of them.  Maybe I shouldn't spread the word about the Sylvanians because I want to return for some.

   The toys that drove me crazy, though, were actually the wooden toys. Again,
this should be in the mother blog...if you know your toys, you know how expensive wood toys are, too.  There were lots and lots.  Still expensive, but of course cheaper still than regular price. AND they were toys not really available in Metro Manila.  There's a sole wooden toy piano near the entrance. The keys were good. I skipped it, you might want it...I still think of it! Versus the wood toy pianos on display in a popular Manila store.

    Lots of amazing finds today there. But I didn't have my Christmas list, nor Christmas money.  And I would have to find those in good boxes for my godchildren. So I just got gifts for my kid. I am SURE by tomorrow, the store will be wiped out.  It always does during holidays like this weekend.

    If you're on your way here this weekend, stop by HMR and then tell me about what you found!  Share a pic, maybe! 

P.S. not just toys for the kids, but toys for you, too. I just didn't get the chance to even look beyond toys today.

26 October, 2011

Natural Life

    I found a January 2010 issue of Natural Life Magazine in Booksale last year.  I had earlier found a Mothering magazine.  I didn't know the two were published by the same company Life Media of Canada.  Anyway, I reread the mag yesterday and just got a digital subscription to access the back issues.  I really prefer holding print copies,but it's cheaper this way and more environmentally friendly I guess.


   I'm not extremely into unschooling, nor have I been very successful at ''green living" despite believing in it and trying for more than ten years.  But actually subscribing tells me I'm determined to really be on my way towards the goal. I just enjoyed reading and rereading it. Something tells me many readers who find their way to this blog (haha, MANY? there might not even be one) will be just as attracted to this magazine. 

  Another Booksale find is Brain, Child magazine.  Very cerebral, very entertaining.

23 October, 2011

The windows have been shut

     Now I can make up for all my ranting about the Asian neighbor man and his midnight breaks. (I think he works in one of the 24 hour companies).  Ever since I made my disgust felt (read the past posts in April), he has kept that particular window shut.  The curtains are still sheer, but I also, after my posts, started focusing on getting a life and stopped looking/listening/minding the neighbor! So what if anywhere from 9pm to 2pm some girl picked up from somewhere is in there. It doesn't mean I already condone this activity. It's just that I have come to realize things could be worse, like...

    Having next door neighbors with full houses and many cars; people who like to party in their garages frequently; noisy people; houses with stinky noisy dogs!  I am grateful that, nobody lives across us; next to us, there is just a couple with one child and they are very very quiet we don't even know when they're there (the ones who give me fruits from their yard); and the other side, also a practically empty house. Nobody next to us has a pet.  As for this man, the subject of my anger just when I started this blog; well, he is now more discreet.  Also, the house is empty during the day; the maid is quiet.  Perhaps it was she who advised him to shut the windows.

   I grew up in an apartment strip, in a military base, where I got used to the noise levels of next-door neighbors. Now, even if we are still in a small house, I'm not so sure I can tolerate a noisy neighborhood. I appreciate the classical piano music coming from across the street, I appreciate that we are on a relatively quiet street.  I don't even mind when the wind carries the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Jams from Paseo to here.  It's a pleasant place.

   Now I understand why, before leaving our Metro Manila apartment, our neighbor across the street worried about "who will move into your place".  It can become worrisome, after all, over there, next to us, a family stocking and selling LPG tanks out of their back laundry area moved in.

  How easily I had forgotten.  How easy to feel spoiled by a wholesome, pleasant Sesame Street-ness down here.

Tropical Hut is GONE

     It was gone from its spot in Paseo last weekend.  On the other side of Yellow Cab, Gusto Italiano was gone too (moved to Laguna Bel-air, I heard).  On the glass windows, we read permits saying Mang Inasal is moving in!

Shopping in Makati first time in 2 years

   So, here's the only reason I had to go to Rustan's Makati.

   Rustan's ATC had no booster car seat for the 3 year old (15kg) and above, and the sales lady wasn't interested in helping further after finding zero stock in the stockroom. After all, everything they had was for infants. Phone calls to SM Megamall and the Landmark, Mothercare Shangri-la and Greenbelt, and desperately, to the distributor Europlay, Inc/Richwell brought me back to my 7th pregnancy month of "Graco Pack and Play" adventures. Apparently, the car seat choices I Googled are not available anymore and even the distributors are never sure what they're gonna get/when the next shipment will be.  

  An hour later, after dining at the Via Mare Landmark (where I was surprised/comforted? to find the same tall waiter Larry still serving), I saw the same model upstairs.  But since nobody was interested in selling it to me there, in contrast to Jerome and Vincent of Rustan's, I went back to Rustan's for it.  Well, okay also because that's where we parked.  Anyway, I was led to Rustan's Makati after calling and having Jerome confirm that Chicco Ultrafit was gone a long time ago; that I might be interested in the Graco Logico LX Comfort.   

  Ay, wait.  This doesn't belong in THIS blog. I have yet to start posting on my other one, Manila Older Mother.  I am sooo delayed.  Well, will move to that one and say more there...about my initial preference for Britax or Chicco; and this one being a good quality low to mid-priced option. Yada yada yada.

  I do have a lot to talk about there; and I am certain there are pregnant women or first-time mothers just Googling away for info.  I know many blogging mothers have helped me with their posts.  I'm giving back! Soon! I've started the mom blog...

22 October, 2011

Makiling versus Makati

   I hate to be redundant...but today was one of those achingly bright, blue, sunny, beautiful days.  And as with many photo-perfect days, I did not have a better camera with me than the phone's. This view from Kingbee is still, thankfully there. But for how long? If you can ignore the power post and lines, and try to imagine what the camera could not capture, there is Makiling, ridges visible, and the mountain verdant. verde. green.
   It was around 3pm but the usual line up of vehicles coming down from Tagaytay was to arrive around an hour later.
   I spent the past week, day and night, in Paranaque City.  I went to the Glorietta mall in Makati on Thursday, and I have to say, I was overwhelmed.  By the stuffy, crowded air, the crowds, period, and the "noise and haste".  You see, I had not been there in two years.  Prior to that, the place was like a second home, being ten-fifteen minutes from home.  I could navigate its confusing zones, knew by heart which streets in Salcedo and Legaspi Villages were "One Way" only. 

   I knew Glorietta when it was still the center open 'stage' area of the QUAD arcade.  As a child in the '70s, I shopped in the first, small, shoes-only Shoemart (SM).  Our suki ice cream parlor and its coiffed owners were comfort places, and we watched movies in the Rizal Theater (now where the Shangri-la hotel stands).  There's more, I can go on...

   But I'll just say--not being OA ha, it's for real--I felt like a true probinsiyana or country bumpkin emerging from Rustan's Supermarket to face a solid mall building I confused with..6750? What on earth was here before? Where's the Starbucks?  My mother helped shake my brain...that was the parking lot, between here and The Intercontinental! The rush of cars and people; wind from moving cars and not from grassy fields just screamed CITY. As in New York City (for some reason); the gray new building, Singapore, maybe. OA, I know.  Just try it though...live in Santa Rosa for two years without ever going to the Makati Commercial Area.  Then go one day. Things can happen to you like,

   Having sensory overload from all the shopping choices.  We have SM, we have Alabang, but really, the pickings are slim in these parts, of many non-essentials. Nice to haves, like toys, clothes, shoes!

   Catching a cold, getting dirty toenails and skin from the pollution there. 

   Possibly wanting things you can live without again.

   Realizing how much you have not really missed, how few are the things you actually need to live.

03 October, 2011

Solenad 2 NOT an outlet mall

Solenad 2 shops facing Solenad 1. Beaming along Nuvali road and the highway.

Just a quick note, my husband gasped wondering at the prices in one of the shops there.  He asked, "these are outlet prices?".  The sales associate clarified that these shops are BRANCH stores and not outlets.

Remember, outlet stores are in Paseo de Santa Rosa, run by Greenfield Development. Solenad 2 of Ayala Land, which also has Bench stores, Payless, Nine West, and some others that are in Paseo, is not meant to be an "outlet" shopping mall.

Just gets a bit confusing because the outlets in Paseo generally display their merchandise in 'regular store' fashion. Except I guess in places like the Bench Depot where Charles &Keith shoes are in bins and piled on the floor; Brand Smart, where clothes tags are trimmed but are obviously Zara brands (and possibly knock-offs, really); and where discounted prices are boldly displayed on shelves.

All this info isn't really essential to life; just fun I guess.  And forgive my husband for his retail ignorance.  He's a simple man who isn't aware of retail merchandising.  Can't quite make the link between a display that looks expensive marketing-wise, fashion seasons, and price. The bottom line is what speaks to him of course. 

LZM Restaurant Solenad 2

Ack! What an irresponsible/impulsive/slow blogger am I.  I posted on "Solenad 2" that the restaurants there are "the usual".   I said something to the effect of not having any unique fare in the area like "Kanin Club's". I KNEW I saw a packed "LZM Restaurant" the two times I was at Army Navy burger...I KNEW I saw photos of Filipino food somehow. 

It took FOOD magazine's October issue to correct my Solenad 2 dining impression.

In it is a photo of what they deem to be their favorite daing na bangus.
I recalled LZM were the initials on that Filipino restaurant's sign.  He would not believe my saying he didn't have to go to the Tagaytay nor Silang branches, as it was right there in Solenad 2.

My husband quickly called the number listed and voila LZM is indeed in Solenad 2.

We didn't have to, but Googling LZM just makes me wonder where we have been in the Tagaytay dining scene. Turns out LZM in Silang and Tagaytay are "hidden" holes-in-the-wall type of places famous people like Marketman of Marketmanila love.  I read a 2007 post that said theirs was his favorite daing na bangus.

When we arrived early last night, the only customers happened to be---a cousin of mine and his colleague.  HE had known this "secret" in Tagaytay all along, and has been having his bulalo dinner regularly in this Solenad branch ever since it opened.  They work in Batangas and travel this route thrice weekly.  He says they prefer this bulalo over Rose & Grace's (located across Paseo), which doesn't have as much gulay.

Anyway...again, I'm no food blogger.  I'll just say, the bangus is extra large, plump, light and very very very delicious. It was rainy last night, and the sinampalukang manok was both comforting and tasty.  I try not to eat bulalo, I'll take my cousin's word for it.

This daing na bangus is also sold marinated frozen, for frying at home.  Basta, I can't describe it...it's just good. And LZM is dangerously going to become our next special lutong bahay place to eat or order from, just a few minutes from home.  The owners were there, and I wonder if they know how this early, their investment will surely pay off.  There still are other imported franchises out there playing it safe--Chicken places, pizza joints...   I wonder if they'll ever come.

29 September, 2011

along the Laguna Lake

Laguna Lake on road coming from Paete, Pila and Caliraya
     Laguna province is large, and there is so much to see and visit.  We visited Pila for the first time, and Paete for a third in over a decade.  Paete was sad. More on that on another post.

My Provincial Life

   ...really ísn't very "provincial" anymore.  It's just that "parang probinsiya" is what we, family and friends used to sigh when we first started out here a mere two years ago.  Recalling how we spent the first six years of our married lives with the black soot of Makati near EDSA daily blanketing our things, furniture, skin, and "immunizing" our lungs makes me envy my friends who have been living here for 10-12 years average.  Their secret is out though, and things are becoming less ''probinsiya" like lately.  Come to think of it, I haven't heard any roosters at dawn, the various birds we used to see in the garden have been absent, and I haven't seen any fireflies since mid-2009. (This is getting depressing).   When the Nuvali road was built where a cogon field once was, huge snakes slithered out to the villages and birds lost their habitat.  There really is more cost than we can imagine.
   My husband now works in Quezon City, and comes home weekends to what he feels is a 'resort'. Note we are not even in a resort-like home, just a simple small one. The air alone is enough to recharge him. We are wondering if the air isn't the variable keeping him sniffle-free despite lack of sleep and fatigue amongst sick colleagues and family members (in the QC house) rather than just his daily intake of orange juice.

Mt. Makiling view outside two Santa Rosa Estates villages. I dread it being blocked a few years from now.
    I also quote "My provincial life" from my toddler, who had an earlier obssession with Belle of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, who sang "I want much more than this provincial life", referring to her provencal life in a leetel veelage om France.  She has aptly sung this while running across Nuvali fields, or even on the grass in the village park.  She has also happily declared "This is not my provincial life!" on her rare visits to Alabang where she stares in awe at buildings that are not even too high-rise.  This and her "probinsiyana" make up are to be blogged about in my other "mothering" site as soon as I get over raving about living in Sta. Rosa, technopark side.

Bench Depot on the left. Inside, Charles&Keith, Lyn and Pedro shoes on discount

   For now, forgive me for not getting over it. I will not get over the air over here, for as long as the views remain the same.  I can tell you it will not be long. Paseo the shopping center is shaping up to be an Alabang Town Center in design.  The grassy strips we used to run through over there, are no more. To be sure, it is a pleasant area where families frolic. While pleasantly strolling though, I feel dread, with 24 hour construction of new shops still ongoing.  So there's a Charles & Keith and Lyn's shoes discount store in the Bench Depot, but I will have to give up the view of Mt. Makiling.

Avida Estates banners, side road by Kingbee
   For now, I will remain simple and silly, laughing at my "Avida" life.  Years before we even considered moving here, possibly around 2006,  my husband and I giggled watching the "Avida" tv commercial in the cinema. It was our first time to see it, a long, computer animated ad, capturing exactly what Avida was meant to be.  A man was driving home from the office, entered his Avida village, waved at neighbors who were outside their home standing by a grill! This image just seemed funny to us at the time--so contrived, so unreal it seemed, so Stepford (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stepford_Wives). Here we are now, sharing food with neighbors, waving at friends on the street...living in an Avida tv ad!
   That's part of what the "probinsiya" life is like. I am sure I've mentioned this in a past post...but it's not completely a Pilipino probinsiya life, but semi-probinsiya. And it's just as good.

Solenad 2

     The landscape is changing fast.  I'm ambivalent about seeing the same retailers along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway, as those in Metro Manila. On the one hand, they are known brands whose displays are more appealing than the small boutique type shops in Paseo.  Now we really don't have to go all the way to Metro Manila for them (as if we even still do).  Even Paseo 4 is obviously occupied by Stores Specialist Inc. shops.

    On the other, well, what's so unique about this area anymore. The only difference now I guess is that Solenad 2's layout resembles shopping arcades in suburban America with its open design similar to Bonifacio High Street's.  It would have been interesting to have more "Kanin Club" type places---destinations unique to the "South".  Don't get me wrong, I welcome the Pancake House/Max's/Brothers Burger/Army Navy Burger/Contís et al presence.  I suppose it is just that I get disappointed when one town is simply a clone of the rest of the Metro. It's like having the golden arches (or the bee for that matter) towering over a town's central area like a beacon to all.  Welcome, welcome to your shopping and dining comfort zone. Boring. Safe. Economically sound, to be sure. Just frighteningly unimaginative. Welcome, to anywhere shopping Metro Manila.

13 August, 2011

Philippine Sights Reed Diffusers

Here is a collection of reed diffuser oils inspired by sights in the mostly Southern Tagalog region, including of course, Laguna, and a Southern island in the Philippines.  Reed diffusers are an alternative way of making a room smell good. Rattan reeds placed upright in the bottle of oil wick up and diffuse the oil--in this case a combination of essential and fragrance oils. They do so continuously as reeds stand in the oil, eliminating the need for flames and wax as in candles and burners, or electricity as in electric burners.

"Tanawin" Reed Diffuser Oils subtly scent your space with:

samyo ng matamis na mangga sa natatanging isla
fragrance of sweet mangoes on the unique island
a blend of green mango and coconut

halimuyak ng hardin sa bayang luntian
fragrance of the garden in this verdant land
a blend of lemongrass, basil, and other herbs
simoy ng sampaguita sa lupang tinubuan
breeze of sampaguita in the land of one's birth
a blend of sampaguita and bamboo

aroma ng kape sa maaliwalas na gulod ng Tagaytay
aroma of coffee in the pleasant Tagaytay ridge
a blend of coffee and vanilla

Tanawin Reed Diffuser Oils bring pleasant memories of cool Tagaytay trips, or languid Philippine beach holidays into your home.
They're available for sale in Santa Rosa, on your way back from Tagaytay, or via meet-up in Alabang.  Unfortunately they cannot be shipped as yet. They would make great resort, restaurant or shop merchandise in the Tagaytay-Silang-Sta. Rosa area.    email poeticscents@gmail.com

19 July, 2011

Forgot about Sugarhouse!

     I totally forgot about Sugarhouse when I blogged about cakes the last time.  Just goes to show how Paseo 4 can easily be overlooked when people are in Paseo 1 and vise versa. Paseo 4 also houses The Old Spaghetti House, Grilla, and seems to be practically "owned" by the Stores Specialists group what with Debenhams, M&S, Payless, and their other shops. Oh except for Ryuma, the "different" Japanese store and restaurant on the second floor. 

EK--Enchanted Kingdom!

     So after two years in Santa Rosa, I finally revisit the Enchanted Kingdom. The last time I went was ten years ago, and before that, when it was newly-opened.  EK is now 15 years old, and I honestly didn't think it would still, well, enchant.  The decision to go was impromptu--the folks were thinking of heading out to Nuvali.  But Saturday afternoon was the perfect day to avoid Solenad--a payday weekend, a very hot sunny day, and in July, balikbayan visitors season.  Also, I needed some stimulation.  Luckily, the family members agreed to go, just like that.

   I think what helped seal the deal was my having quickly checked the EK website, and finding that there is such a thing as a "Carousel Special" admission ticket. With this Php 150.00 rate, guests are free to go on unlimited rides on the Grand Carousel, the Bumbling Boulders, and the Boulderville Express.  The last two rides are mainly for young children. Since we had one young child who doesn't really qualify for many of the rides and the rest of us not too excited to ride anything really, this was the best choice. Also, it being a sudden decision made at 3:30 pm, this was the most prudent.

   The Boulderville Express

   EK has a lot of promos going on at the same time. From now until August, there is a Rainy Day Guarantee, so that when you visit and rains don't allow you to enjoy the rides, you can come back another time. Members of the AFP and their dependents are targets of another promo too. For more info, check out the website. It is also a neat, nice website. Surfing it is as pleasant as a stroll through EK. 

   This is my 4th time to visit the park, and the past three times were just as unplanned, and just as enjoyable.  On my second trip, a friend and I boarded the EK bus from the junction at the Glorietta in Makati. It was a nice and easy trip and I'm certain taking their bus still would be nice.
    We ran into neighbors there with their friends, and that's when I realized, EK is where our children will hang out with their friends as teens!

     The people running EK are consistently pleasant. I mean, they're just right, not overly courteous or anything...just light and happy. Well, of course the ride operators were more serious, but really, everyone, down to the custodians sweeping the grounds was nice.  Hats off to them and their trainors.

     At the EK, you can go Up, Up and Away

16 July, 2011

Red Ribbon in Paseo

    So I craved some cake. Like Shakey's was the "top-of-mind" choice for pizza, Red Ribbon was, for cake.  Well, really the Mango Cream pie.  The other choices in the Paseo de Santa Rosa area are the small Goldilocks (actually, out of Paseo, across the street, next to South Supermarket), which usually runs out of cake in the evenings; Poquito Mas, which houses the former Babycakes' cakes. Babycakes are not like the commercially produced Red Ribbon and Goldilocks ones.  They're closer to homemade. Wait, I believe they are homemade. They have good cakes and not so good ones...but their cheesecakes are really good.  It's a pity they closed the quaint little coffee shop in Paseo 3 (can't blame them, that area down there is so hidden).  But I say it's still a pity, knowing they did have regulars. Two years ago we enjoyed its cuteness, the availability of coffee, smoothies and snacks, and of course cakes. 

     Back to Red Ribbon.  I so craved something from there.  But the craving was gone when I remember the terrible customer service.  I'm not alone. A "tita" complained about the loooooong wait, just to learn that there was no delivery of mango cream pie. This despite having called up previously for availability.  I have had two experiences within the shop, of serious delays.  The first experience was when I picked up two or three mamons, and took them to the counter to pay.  There were 3 women there. All with nothing to do.  And it took FOREVER for me the transaction to be completed.  I still cannot understand why.  All I remember is they were all staring at the POS machine, and just to bag the stuff took an hour.
The last time was really ridiculous. First, there are very few tables in the shop and we were practically the only customers there.  Then, there were around 4-5 staff all standing next to each other, constantly fussing over the POS machine (the cash register).  So there was absolutely no excuse for the slow, dead-looking service.  All I asked for was a glass of water...it never came, even if the request was clear.  Finally, I asked again, at the counter---actually, I reached for the pitcher, which was not on a self-service counter at all...while asking.  Someone nodded, but still, no water. They were all still fussing at the machine.

     We haven't bothered asking Red Ribbon about this. What's up?
Considering it is a Jollibee company, and is next to Jollibee...it is surprising. 
Or is this the POS Machine training room for the crew for next door? Just asking.

food delivery in the area...or not

    It's a Friday, pizza day, in my book.  I haven't ordered a pizza for delivery ever since I moved here.  Well, I have, around twice, and both times from the Yellow Cab in Paseo de Santa Rosa.  Both times, the pizza came fast, earlier than the time I was informed it would take.

     So why do I keep forgetting this and keep calling Shakey's first, only to get turned off by the 24 hour waiting time.  I do exaggerate, the truth is they always ask me if I can wait for 5 hours. Seriously. Delivery is not a priority in Shakey's Paseo. I would be as confident as they were in maintaining this status quo, as this branch is one of the more nostalgic-Shakey's-of-my-childhood branches. It even has a "video game arcade".
   Shakey's has this thin crust, is greasier, and cheaper than a Yellow Cab pizza.  It's really just the top-of-mind.  Then I remember there is Yellow Cab.   Now Yellow Cab's main service is delivery, I guess.  I remember often ordering for delivery from the Makati Avenue branch, and occasionally dining in there.  I haven't actually entered the Yellow Cab in Paseo nor in Nuvali. The one in Paseo has interesting interiors that look like they're actually an exterior setting---with plants, stones, and pathways.

    There is Big 30, which, correct me if I'm wrong, doesn't exist in Metro Manila.  But it is expensive and honestly, I tried a take-out pizza once, and it isn't that great.  I also got turned off when I saw a pet "sugar glider" in a cage, sitting on one of the tables.  Staff washed the cage in the outside sink, and then set it back onto the table. Ew. First, I have issues with the animal's cage being rinsed and then placed on the table. Second, what is an exotic animal doing in a cage in a restaurant?  It is cute, but a bad idea...

    Greenwich is another "Filipino-style" pizza favorite, but they don't take credit cards.  Yellow Cab does, even for delivery.


11 July, 2011


    Kingbee is the Chinese restaurant along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway, just after Paseo de Santa Rosa. Toward Tagaytay, it is just after Rose and Grace Bulalo.  This place is most packed on Sundays. Last year they added a big function room also in a separate building. It's comfortable Chinese food, delicious.  As is my custom I forgot to take photos of food...but then, I do not even want to venture into food blogging. I'll leave that to the pros.  A pity, as I was in the late Prof. Doreen Fernandez's freshman English classes (believe it or don't).  For those who don't now, she was the most prolific food writer.

On a clear day, you see Mt. Makiling across these fields. My fervent wish is that nothing is ever built on this land, to forever preserve the view.

 I include this shot with a bittersweet thought that this area along the highway will quickly be lined by more architecturally uninteresting buildings.  The lights are of the Phoenix gasoline station. Right before it is a newly-constructed commercial building. Right after it is the KGB call center.  Right after that, begins heavy traffic to Nuvali...

     Twilight turned me to mush, I suppose, as I stared outside, worrying about the disappearance of cogon fields and the increasingly heavy traffic on Saturdays.  On the foreground of this last photo are palm trees marking the entrance to two villages over a decade old--the Santarosa Estates 1 and 2. 

29 June, 2011

blog design dilemmas

    The two moms of TCBOB (The cutest blog on the block) are great...check out their site, I get my backgrounds from there, and am in the process of adding "LinkWithin", for photos and previews of other posts to appear below each current post.

    I just wish I had their skills!

    Obviously, something is up with this blog---the background is covered by a white foreground, I have removed the header photo of the Santa Rosa signage, and in general...this page is just not pretty!

    And it is taking me a looong time to fix it.  I enjoy learning this and designing this blog...I guess the laptop I'm using just isn't quick to help me. Plus, I have very little time to actually do this.

    Blah blah blah...hope to get back to this soon!

24 June, 2011

Rain in Santa Rosa

...feels moderate all the time.  There is a strong tropical storm, "Falcon" passing the northeast area of the country, and Manila has been flooding again.  Traffic was terrible today what with non-stop rains.  Here, it was on/off rain, wind and now at midnight, calm.  When Metro Manila began flooding during Ondoy, we were largely unaffected. Well, the technopark side of Santa Rosa, that is.  There were areas down at the bayan, starting from bgy Balibago and down to the Laguna Bay area, that were waist deep in water.

Many times, were enjoyed sunny skies while Metro Manila was dark and rainy.  Of course, this is due in part to our location away from the ocean, with the Tagaytay ridge bordering the flat lands.

While it is a blessing to live in mostly pleasant weather with moderate, refreshing rains here, we are no less sympathetic to everyone stuck in traffic or wading through floods. I know I often sound too enthused about this place to friends and relatives...but the truth is, watching traffic reports on the nightly news really makes me glad I'm away from that stressful city. Now even typhoon reports make me doubly relieved I'm not there. We do worry about everyone else.


20 June, 2011

Happy 150th Birthday Jose Rizal!

     I searched in vain for some ceremony or activity to attend in the Santa Rosa area on Jose Rizal's birthday.  There were many parties, concerts, a run, film showings, all in Metro Manila.  Other provinces had their ceremonies, and I never even got around to finding out if there was anything going on at the bayan ng Santa Rosa. 

     My plan was to actually avoid Calamba on Sunday, June 19, knowing the President would lead rites there, and that there probably would be activities all day.

     By 3 pm, I was itching to really go SOMEWHERE close, feeling strangely celebratory.  I think the excitement had something to do with just BEING in Laguna, being near Calamba.  We went to Calamba, exiting Bgy Don Jose, Paseo area via Eton. This drive to the town center takes around 20 minutes. I was hoping that museum hours would somehow be extended on this special day.  I had assumed it would be open today, Monday, too.  After all, it is a National Holiday.  Why wouldn't the Rizal Shrine hold special hours?

    Well, festive, it was, by the church, which is next to Jose Rizal's ancestral home. There was the familiar smell of a marketplace, even if the Calamba tiangge and public markets were away, near SM Calamba.  There was also the smell of oil frying fishballs, but it wasn't good as usual. It was like some kind of cheap, greasy, oil, not appetizing at all.  People were milling everywhere as mass went on...as well as people positioned among vendors. I saw a small hunchback walking in front of me, and a crippled man sitting by the church gate, one palm up asking for alms, one palm grasping  cane.  I bought some sampaguita from one of five vendors outside; I said no thank you to friendly teenagers selling mini replicas of the famous giant palayok--a major landmark in Calamba (which we failed to see on the trip).  The beggars outside the church, the street food, the wares--all the requisite provincial town plaza elements were there. But I was unrealistically expecting more "Rizal's 150th birthday" souvenirs, I guess.  Like the cupcakes I saw a child holding at the Luneta shrine, shown on the news later in the evening.  Then again, I would prefer puto or kakanin.

    There were crowds within the house's grounds too, but the guard told me the museum was closed. I had wanted to just take a photo with the boy Rizal in the garden...but gave it up. The rain continued and it was muddy. Strange again, I still enjoyed the brief stop and walk in the rain. 

    I guess we had missed the parade of floats, as they drove by us, paper and flowers soaked, wilted...but it's alright.  Living here, we have our pick of days to return to Rizal's Shrine now.  Another good thing about living in Santa Rosa :-)

    Anyway, this is what happened in the morning of Sunday:

<iframe src="http://www.gmanews.tv/evideo/82306/ub-pnoy-pinangunahan-ang-pagdiriwang-ng-ika-150-kaarawan-ni-rizal" frameborder="0" style="width:480px; height:400px; display:block; background: black;" scrolling="no">This page requires a higher version browser</iframe><br /><a href="http://www.gmanews.tv/">For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV</a>

10 June, 2011

Crafts fest in Sta. Rosa

     Crafts Fest is the name of a small corner inside the MI department store in Waltermart Santa Rosa.  When we arrived two years ago, there was no South Supermarket (see old post), and Rustan's was (still is) a mini-grocery.  SM Sta. Rosa was too far and really, the cashier lanes took too long.  We tried grocery shopping at Waltermart and it wasn't a pleasant experience.  The store is old, tired, small. The vegetables weren't fresh, and generally shopping there was such a chore.  We appreciated the small Booksale branch, and Robinson's Handyman. Next to the Japan Home Store was the Value Shop, which was a department store filled with cheap, poor quality goods. 

  We then stopped shopping at Waltermart and opted for SM, Rustan's, and whenever we could, South Supermarket in Alabang.

  I returned to Waltermart only for specific things, like the plastic sheets outside the Value Shop. There were rolls of sheets meant for use as table cloths, and sold by the yard.  There were floral designs, clear ones printed with designs, various colors, lace designs.  They were cheap. I got some for outdoor tables, I got some to catch the baby's mess on the floor as she dined.  I had just started to play with these sheets, when they disappeared. The Value Shop became MI Department Store, with slightly better-quality goods, but very very loud booming noisy music blaring. 

  I still like to go there once in awhile---because of the small corner with the sign CRAFTS FEST at the top, at the Expressions store within the store.  They have scrapbooking doodads--ribbons, trim, shapes, stickers, many cute things. They have Korean stationery, assorted beads sold by the cup, cute novelty pens.  These are things many women of all ages still love collecting, using, or just looking at.  Eye candy.

  Running a search just a few minutes ago, I found that another blogger from the area posted about this place.  She took photos too, better ones.  Why do we love these little things so?

  The ribbon and trim cases say Momotaro. I had no clue these existed. So cute.
    Then I remembered a set of trimmings I got there last year. They were branded Momotaro too. Check out the site and drool! http://www.momotaro.com
Then I realized I have a wallet in the same seafoam green color, a Venzi notebook with the same seafoam green.  Really, little things like matchy-matchy small statio things do make many women like me...happy even in our forties. We are that simple.  More complex is my desire to own/run a Momotaro store! haha.

    About that Venzi notebook...we got that in National Bookstore last year, along with other colors.  Check out http://victoria.com.hk/html_files/products.html

     These are two Korean notebooks my sister and I picked up at Php49.50 each.  I had dragged her to Waltermart to show her this cute little corner, and separately we both were attracted to the notebook on the left. While cursing me for making her spend on little things like the bookmark set and sticky notes shown below, she was undecided on the notebook (which she didn't really need).  I check the pile of 4 pieces, and found the one on the right at the bottom and flashed it to her.  Then it was a no-brainer. 

    My frustration with many 'cute little things' in this country is that they are of limited inventory. I asked the salesgirls when delivery of new trim will arrive, and they didn't even know.  There is never any guarantee of having the same item available.   Even that Venzi notebook from National Bookstore seemed a one-time deal.

    So now I don't even know when a trip to this Expressions for new stock will be worthwhile.  Sigh...I do miss Carolina's at Market!Market!, and it's been ages since I last went to Divisoria. 

Black-naped Oriole (oriolus chinensis yamamurae)

     Finally shot the Orioles we hear at dawn.

    ONLY with CAMERAS please! 

01 June, 2011

New roads, car stickers and rice paddies

     Residents of Ayala Land villages this side of Binan and Sta. Rosa, get the Greenfield Parkway stickers for a shortcut to home.  We exit the SLEX via Mamplasan, and go through the parkway.  It is a big deal to be skipping the traffic when exiting via the Sta. Rosa toll exit. Going past and reaching the Paseo de Sta. Rosa area via the Eton exit is alright, scenic, but more expensive and longer. 

   Recently I learned there is yet another stretch of 'scenic' road from Mamplasan to the Laguna blvd, and that cuts through the entrance of Verdana Mamplasan, and the Tamayo estate, among others.  I hadn't heard about this place before, so I really don't know if there are lots for sale, or if it is some sort of club.

   I actually hope the rotunda from the Greenfield Parkway to Verdana never changes.  There are rice fields, their accompanying egrets, and banana plants by that small roundabout.  It's nice and green, and I consider it very important for our children to view it. When I was growing up, we passed roads to Pasig with rice fields as well. I remember my mother practicing driving with us as passengers...and my fear of her driving us to the edge of the road into a muddy paddy.

   Driving through the new roads to Nuvali, I still saw some cows, and various birds.  I believe the bird population from the Laguna blvd. to Nuvali has dwindled though...

   So I guess I can't decide...rural or urban. I want to live in both.

Not Sonoma

   Yike, I just saw banners along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road in front of Laguna Bel-air, of Sonoma...and their background looks something like this blog's current design. That was the blue spring one with bubbles and white flowers. You're looking at "Glisten 3" with bird, by TCBOB's Ashley.  Thank you TCBOB it's pretty!

   I'm not affiliated with any real estate developer. Not at all.  I'm partial to Ayala Land, but I do not sell property, I do not have anything to do with them or any group.  This Sonoma is an Empire East development. It is just a coincidence that my choice of this "spring" design from "The Cutest Blog on the Block" looks like their ad's background.  

   It is hard to choose a design from TCBOB...there are too many cute ones! Anyway, summer is officially over, it is June, and PAGASA has declared the start of the rainy season. So I will change the design. 

    For free blog designs, custom designs and more:

   They're great. They make blogging sooo much fun. Thank you tcbob!

19 May, 2011

I heart Earth?

    A friend in another village found 6 copies of this brochure in her mailbox. I received mine electronically a week earlier. 6 pieces of glossy color paper. She says she received around 4-5 brochures for the Xavier school before.
    So much for loving the earth.

     Would love to attend something, but my schedule does not permit. Anyway, weekend traffic on the highway to Nuvali is a deterrent, and the crowd on the Solenad is getting too uncomfortable for me. Traffic jam is probably still not as bad as Metro Manila's, but it's enough for us residents to stay away.  Road improvements and corresponding advisories have begun, to Ayala land's credit.

Great Camp Out

12 May, 2011

McDonald's Laguna Bel-air

   This branch, at the corner of Laguna Bel-air's entrance and the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway, used to be such a landmark and stopover for those heading to Tagaytay.  Well, it was for me at least, a pitstop (pee-stop) if we didn't stop by any of the gasoline stations along the SLEX (South Luzon Expressway).

   It is a cute and friendly little branch with a "Playplace" inside.  It is therefore also a party place. One drawback is the street boys selling sampaguita in the parking area, beggars, and pirated dvd vendors.  It has still retained most of its charm as a little neighborhood branch. Somehow, it feels more homey and cozy than those in Metro Manila in there.

   I'm trying not to consume too much of this fastfood too frequently, and try not to have the kid enjoy it too much too.  Thankfully the kid does not really look for it but just enjoys it when it's there.  I would rather avoid character themes for kids' birthdays, much less in fastfood joints whose philosophy is the louder the PA system, the better. I concede however, that having a themed birthday party in McDonald's is not too harmful and young celebrants really enjoy mascot costumes.  I would compromise and review the hosts' plans for music and games though.  McDonald's I guess finally realized that the original Ronald clown scared many kids and that young children are attracted to the baby-faced character with a big costume head and big eyes.

   Searching their corporate website for birthday party packages is not too helpful to the many moms searching. So I'm doing this out of compassion for mothers (because it's the mothers who usually prepare for this) who have to go out to the branch just to get ballpark figures and details.
  The party themes listed are not updated, there are no rates, and no contact numbers for branches.  So, here is some price information about the current packages in this branch :

   Themes aside from Ronald and the Gang:   Php 3,000
            Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
            Disney Princesses
            Toy Story
    Themes include gifts, invitation cards, party hats, traymats, balloons, giveaways, game prizes, a character appearance (choose between Baby Ronald and Birdie)

    Food packages (minimum 30 pax):
            1. Php 135   (with toy)
            2. Php 150  (with toy)
            3. Php  160 (with toy)
            4. Php 155

    There's also a "birthday partipid" promo until June 15, 2011, with freebies for food bills beginning at Php 5,000.
            Director's Chair, Pinata and Inflatable Bouncer

     Unlike Jollibee however, this McDonald's branch does not have a lunch hour party schedule.  The party times are 9-10:30 am, 1-2:30pm, 3-4:30pm and 5-6:30pm.