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

26 November, 2012

Beacon Academy

    Ahh! So conducive to learning!  Set against a mountain, this high school is.  And as with many of the new, good schools adding a ''branch" or relocating South (of Metro Manila), this one is never really far from where people live. In this area of Santa Rosa, that is.  When I say "not far" I actually mean the drives are pleasant.  No traffic jams, no smog, greens along the road...various bird species on the trees (and well, okay, the wires). 
    I hope these children know how fortunate they are.  When I hear of others trapped in EDSA or C5 or wherever, going from school in Makati to home in Quezon City or vice versa,  I feel sorry. Even sitting as passengers in private cars, their daily travel to and from school can be a stressor.  And then the kids and teens focus on tablets sitting in traffic in the car...
   That is another story, maybe for the Mother blog where I talk about how now the kid dislikes flavored milk "because it's too sweet for my tongue". Among other things natural, unrefined, pure and maybe organic... 

A Lonely Road

     Let's mosey on over (MOSEY? who talks like that anymore? here?) to another border.  We've already posted about the Silang-Sta. Rosa border.  The same road on my title photo above, bears the sign "Welcome to Binan, Laguna" on the opposite side of the road. That's where we are headed on this post.  Well, not quite to the main area of Binan, but to Barangay Binan, where a phase of San Jose Village is located (if I'm not mistaken there are 6 phases. The last one is a very quite location full of trees).



    This way leads to another gate of Ayala Westgrove and the Laguna Technopark Inc. annex.  At the corner is the Metrobank, and a phase of San Jose Village.  Under construction are Avida Shophouses.  With plans for a 7-11 in one of those, I'm assuming this area is going to be a busy place, and this road not very lonely for long.


    At the moment it gives my father the heebie-jeebies (okay, first mosey now this...)  After all, it is bordered by nothing but cogon for a stretch. It's the kind of road which in the Southern Philippines screams "ambush! ambush!" to a soldier.  Yes he was a soldier (an officer), that is why such an empty road frightens him.   (And with this pardon my detour as I pay my respects to those who were massacred in Maguindanao this month three years ago. Clearly, the roads were paved, the hills verdant, more beautiful than this...but the incident horrific). It sure looks and feels like the boondocks, but I assure him, it's still a part of Ayala Land and the technopark.

   I'm sure at night it can be scary.

   But following my mantra, I mean to enjoy this loneliness, these bare fields, while I can.  A brief stop at the grocery in the shopping area with its Sunday crowd and artificial lights afterwards jarred my head again. I need the fields, plains and green mountains to relax me.  Oh, the sound of birds, and the sight of them here! 

    The weather was mild too.  Very sunny, yet cool. And this is Binan, Laguna, not even Tagaytay.
    Visible from this spot (facing the other way, down to the city), is the De La Salle Science and Technology complex. I still am wondering why it used to be called De La Salle Canlubang, when the borders I see around belong to Sta. Rosa, Silang, and Binan...I enjoy looking at maps and would like to know why.  Can somebody enlighten me please?

17 November, 2012

I like this location. A lot.

Oops I removed that cover photo.  The location I'm talking about is the Sta. Elena Golf and Country Estates.  Surprisingly, many of my neighbors (who are here from overseas, both Filipinos and foreigners) still haven't seen the place even after two years of living here.  I'm sure most of them would love it too.  It's a pleasurable drive ten minutes from where we are.

The country fair is an opportunity to visit.


After the rant, a bird

 Black and white to go with the cables...but still...it ought to be perched on a tree...

Pied Triller outside our home

The King (Bee's) view

of the mount Makiling, is gone. Gone. Gone.
Remember my post last year? (ha! Right. Assuming I have followers, am I. My imaginary ones, at least)


You don't see the mountain anymore.  Instead, construction has begun on this site, which was where loud events as the San Miguel Oktoberfest were held.  The images on the fences show more "Paseo" shops. It was inevitable.  The darkening of this Santa Rosa-Tagaytay highway.  I won't even take a picture.

UPDATE 04/2013
Okay so I've finally taken a picture.
Now I need a Feng Shui master.  Is there anything auspicious about King Bee facing the mountain?  Now that view is obstructed. Well, c'est la view.

20 October, 2012

Säntis Delicatessen in Paseo de Santa Rosa

...is now open. It is where the restaurant Poquito Mas used to be.  European expats are probably pleased. They do not have to go to the Alabang or the Silang branches.  This branch seems to have most of what the other branches have.  But the Rockwell branch is still the most inviting, in our humble opinion. Perhaps because it stands in a charming cluster of cafes. Or does it still? I have not been there in three years.

   Anyway...I saw bunches of giant leeks in the new branch. 

18 October, 2012

Transfer your voter registration!


     I've never really looked closely at the logo of the COMELEC before, hmm. 

     Anyway, a quick post to remind kababayans that the deadline for voter registration looms. It is on October 31, 2012.  And like many people, I completely ignored or forgot to do what I had to do until the last minute.  It took the village's reminder, and a realization that I've been in Santa Rosa more than long enough to qualify for a transfer of my records.

     I found an article on the Manila Bulletin published in 2009, when the writer also transferred her records to this city.  She said the process is easy, it just takes a lot of patience.  I know the patience thing from my family, who really suffered the queue in their city. My sister, after standing in line for half the day (and not having gotten to the first step), went home to eat and line up again. I think it even took her two days fo finish. 

    Here are my bullets for you who are also new to Sta. Rosa.

    1.  Go on any day from Monday to Friday. Saturdays they are in barangays.  Saturday October 20 they will be in Bgy. Don Jose.  I don't know what the other schedules are.
    2.  The Comelec office is in the Gusaling Batasan...it is the small building across the town/church plaza, across the huge Christmas tree (which has been there ever since my first trip).  This is the building in a past post, which has a statue next to it. The statue is lost among vendor umbrellas.

          If you have your own vehicle, you can park in the church parking lot.

    3.   Go by 8am.  They hand out small slips of paper on which you write your info. These also have your number, which will be called out by a man at the door. He calls in around ten at a time.  They process around 300 per day. They try to do 150 in the morning and 150 in the afternoon. By 11 am, they stop handing out numbers in order to break for lunch at 12. But when I was there, they had people who were already inside, waiting for the last step (photo/fingerpring capture), leave and come back for lunch.  I was number 161 and one of the last to be processed before lunch. Luck.

         Then again a woman past number 170 raised hell, and so the staff simply switched to finish that batch. She was right to do so---it was only 11:15 and they were already inside, right?!  Funny but the men who took the womens' turns at the computers rushed through everything so that it all went much FASTER.  Eh kaya naman pala eh!  I just hope the info typed in was accurate.

   4.   Bring your own ballpen. or ballpens, to be sure.

   5.   Have your TIN with you if you do not. The form requires it.

   6.   The clerks are actually friendly and cheerful. The MB writer was right thou gh---when the woman says you will need a transfer form--the green one---take it. They know better.  (I told her my name was deactivated per the COMELEC online precinct finder, but she looked at her computer and said it was actually on active status. Odd. So all I needed was the green transfer form).  Thank you Ms. Jane Aubrey Nepomuceno for your article.  I kept that tip in mind. I otherwise might have needlessly questioned the clerk! I am sharing your article. http://www.mb.com.ph/node/226547/tip

   7.   Just fill the form within the room. There are desks around you can use. Do not leave the room anymore.  A couple before me did, and when they returned they did not make it to the lunch cut-off.  I don't know if they filled in the form in the library downstairs.

   8.  Capture is the last step--Voter's IDs are not available for claiming for YEARS after the election.

   9. PWD (persons with disability) and Senior citizens are priority.

 10.  The whole process takes approximately an hour.

   Lastly, THINK, BE SMART when going through the process...also be as courteous as the officers.  This is your right, and the vote is yours.  I say this because I did witness odd things...like men from certain offices, going in and out, escorting or coaching new registrants.  Coaching the illiterate is understandable. The forms, in triplicate, can be daunting. But what was he doing pointing certain guys out to the officers.   Registration of voters is in everyone's best interest---of course they all want people to register.  But do not be naive also...there are of course those who need people who register who will vote for THEM.

   Which leads me to...what's with regularly announcing with frustration, for people to put their cellphone numbers at the top of the form?  Is it to contact us to inform us the IDs are ready? To confirm information? I seriously doubt that.

   With all the crap SMS we already get, are they or certain factions going to send us annoying campaign SMS?  Or is someone getting numbers to send "cash loan" sms?  I could have asked there...but it was lunch time and the clerk doing the reminding was declaring her hunger. 

   All I'm saying is, question, too, things like these. 

   There. Hopefully I get to vote in Sta. Rosa city next month.  And before then, I hope to post on the city mayor's website...

   to ask her please naman

   1. the CR (comfort room, restroom) in the Gusaling Batasan is horrible. There is no door handle, just a smashed in hole, with a string, and the door won't even shut.  The floor muddy, wet, toilet rust/brown tinted.  The only good thing was that there was water and a pail to flush with.
Oh, one more tip:  bring a companion--my husband had to guard the CR door for me! 

  2.  We can ask people to donate books for the students in the library who hungrily grabbed at the few children's books in there.  The library is on the ground floor of this building.  The CR is right across it.  It takes just that kind of CR to uninspire and even discourage those students.  How can we expect them to keep clean, with an environment like that. What are we teaching, really?

       I see them, and then the beggar children within the church's parking lot...

       Where is their hope?

15 October, 2012

Dance lessons

Logo taken from the Institutes Facebook page.  Hope they don't  mind that and the free publicity.
   Speaking of recreation, there are excellent quality dance and exercise programs offered in the area. Well, this is actually in Silang again...but it's in the neighborhood and is really a good place, so there.

   I believe we are very very lucky to have this as THE dance school here.  Students must take advantage of this opportunity not just for recreation, but for health, professional training, and serious studies.  

    There is another such school, which includes ballroom dance, in Sta.Rosa itself, at Laguna Bel-air.  I don't know about it. If you do, feel free to let us know.


Republic Wake Park

    So I'm not a fan of the politician founder...but this may be a good recreational park. It's a wake boarding park, and it's found deep in Nuvali.

    I've got video clips but will have to edit and upload them onto here some other time.

Cecil's Cafe in Silang

      ...is next to a Korean Restaurant.  But this is in Silang, a short drive past Nuvali, Barangay Sto. Domingo Sta. Rosa.  It is right before the Adventist University's grassy lot along the Santa Rosa-Tagaytay highway.

     Just as we have met owners and or chefs in the area in the past, we met Cecil, the amiable owner who was busy cooking and serving along with two other friendly women.  Her place is a good, shabby chic styled cozy place to stop by on your way to or from Tagaytay.  Good fresh food and tempting cakes and pastries too.



14 October, 2012

Vietnamese Restaurant

     My husband keeps hoping the Thai neighbor will open a Thai restaurant in the area.  She cooks her Thai food at home so well, but is not inclined to selling it. She is in fact, returning to Thailand, back to a career put on hold by her husband's posting here.  A big loss, we will miss her cooking...oh, more than that, the pleasure of her company, of course.

     Attention, restaurateurs....there is NO Thai restaurant here. None that we know of anyway.  We are happy with places like Songkran Thai street food in BF Paranaque. That's the sort of place we seek.  We are certain we are not the only ones.

     There is also, strangely, just one Korean restaurant in Paseo de Santa Rosa. And none in the surrounding areas. We like Umni, a nook hidden in Paseo.  On our most recent time there (last night), the two ladies who wait tables, cook and roll kimbap ,greeted us happily.  Oh, they know us already!  A comfort, in this time of "growth" in the city.  

    Just the other day, the Rustan's express cashier also greeted me cheerfully, asking about my family.  Where has your husband been?! She asked. He was there so frequently before.  Well...of course, I replied, it's that other place at the corner...(the big South Supermarket).  Rustan's is far being the "little bookshop" of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks' "You've got Mail". But it still is the little neighborhood sari-sari store that's lost customers to the big guys.  Not for long, though...Shopwise is happening soon.


     Back to the subject. In Alabang Town Center and in BF Paranaque, there is Xoi Vietnamese Kitchen.  Again, I am no food blogger. I will just say, we enjoyed the food. It was delicious. You know, in the way that my first bite's transported me to "Asia".  It's when the flavor's essences (lemongrass, hoisin, peanut, fish sauce...) sort of travel through my nose and I remember random times and places in Southeast Asia.  Plus I have been drinking black G7 Vietnamese coffee for breakfast everyday for a couple of months now..so I was happy with Iced coffee (with condensed milk). 

     We also tried it for the first time. It was dinner, and for lunch I had wanted pho in Pho hoa Ayala Triangle. The last time I was there was last Christmas. It was packed, there was a wait list. Today I saw it had closed down, covered with a tarpaulin sign saying Bread Talk will open there soon.

Dinosaurs Roam South of Manila

   A sighting in Filinvest, Muntinlupa.

      I gladly zoomed in to oblige this worker who waved frantically for a shot.  I'm still trying to get a print to you, kuya...are you fencing the dinos in?

30 September, 2012

Sunday Sunset

Not an outstanding photo, but please do not use and claim as your own. I can hunt you down and I will.

     This is a bittern, in Nuvali's man-made lake.  I have a few more photos but for some reason Blogger says there is an invalid response from the server, and my photos aren't uploading.  I am surprised this one came through.

     The sun shone golden last Sunday, and families were on the grass in most parts of the place until sundown.   Luneta, Luneta, Luneta.  As the kid ran around, I reminisced...our early '70s walking to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) from Taft Ave. on Sunday mornings. "Pasyal", lola said.  She packed a "Thermos" (remember those tall ones with the red-checkered design) and sandwiches. 

      I'll try to upload the pink and blue twilight sky pic.

31 August, 2012

Steiniger's bread & kaffee


     It's on the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road, on the right side, just after Ponderosa Leisure Farms/Residences.  Easy to miss, but there is a sign.  They have, aside from a variety of breads, strudel, brownies, and made-to-order cakes.  You can view the bakers at work.  They supply hotels and restaurants.  You can eat there too.

     There's also this little dog.

Golden Coconuts--AGAIN!

     Let's not take them for granted!  Just one tree in the yard, continuously bursting with the golden orbs since February (see that post Nyuh Kuning).

      Today I "harvested" a bunch, twisting them off one by one as the kid cheered "go mama!go mama!".  A Korean father with his toddler on his back walked closer to the corner, staring.  There's this look I see on foreigners who walk by the tree.  They look up at the fruits with a mixture of curiosity and certainty. They are certain there is deliciousness inside.  Curious because they most likely do not have coconut trees in their gardens in their countries...the Frenchman, the Korean elderly lady, the group of men walking home from sport.  Each time I harvested since February, I have given some away. To the Thai neighbor who cooked with it, to the Indonesian neighbor who misses it.  And of course to the giddy helper next door, who has decided to plant one.
Nobody has really asked. All it takes is the way they look at it.  

    Maybe the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was actually a golden coconut. But then how did primitive man open this before the advent of the bolohttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolo_knife or itak?

    Anyway, I have seen said Korean's toddler with his mother, but recently, dad strolls with him.  Father looks quite serious, but this morning as he stood closer, I glanced at him, and he smiled.  Coconut, of course.  You want? He dashed over, and bowed his thanks repeatedly.  I watched him hold the gold up in his palm, examining it.

   Now if only the manang (older woman) helper who planted this tree was still here to enjoy it too. I hope she is well.

   As for me, I love the way it feels, twisting the heavy coconut till it snaps off its ''cord".  It serves the wannabe farm girl in me. And I do get really really pleased handing them out to grateful neighbors.  This is cheezy, but...well, this gold makes me feel rich.

   (and if I finally get my very own farm, I will plant my favorites--golden coconuts and malunggay. and hopefully actually get rich. haha. Just had to counter the cheese.)

07 August, 2012

"The flooded"

     That is what my four year old says when I turn on the news on TV.  Born in 2008, the child has come to view "flooded" as a common occurrence but outside of her dear "Sanna Rowza" (I blame cartoons for the accent. I have taken to saying Santa Rosa like a Mexican would just to correct this). 

   But I am not trying to be funny today. If I try, it's to make up for lack of sunshine, and because of the sad and anxiety-inducing videos on all the local news channels this morning. It's been raining for too long, and the Marikina river is nearing 20mm as I type.  I feel so much for the people on roofs, for people watching the water rise from the windows. I remember the dread.  It's what got us to finally move out of where we were, and to this place.

    In 2008, when my child was just 3 months old, the creek that runs behind our apartment overflowed for the first time since we moved in in 2002.  In 2002, right before we moved in in September, there was a warning.  The first floor guest toilet had silt around its drain.  Our neighbor's driver welcomed us to the village by telling us how snakes and creatures had flowed through from the rear to the front in the past.   So for the next three years, there were efficient dredging operations right before the no-fail 1st week of September flooding on that street.  The flood never entered the houses and were not due to the creek. It always receded quickly so people were complacent.  Until 2007.

   Actually our warning came in September 2007, right when I conceived.  We came home from a trip away to find our garage with silt.  The cat's dishes were everywhere, my "outside slippers" were separated. One was gone, the other was somewhere far.  Clearly, the garage had flooded.  It happened the day before our arrival.

  It was then I learned from helpers that the first week of September ALWAYS saw a flood on our street.

  Fast forward to September 2008. I nervously watched from the window as the water level on the street rose.  My then 3 month old baby was nursing quietly. It was 6pm.  Baby at breast*, I inspected the emergency exit grills, figuring out how to get out on to the garage roof. And from the roof, would there be a boat? I called my dad in a panic, asking about how to ask for a 6x6 truck from the military. I was that afraid.

  It was too dark by then to see the creek from the other bedroom.  But I heard the water raging and when I shone a flashlight on it, it was horribly high. My husband then hollered that water was entering our back door!  I tossed him the big synthetic-fabric "Ilocos" blanket as he duct-taped the door bottom.  The water that entered was then filtered! It was unbelievably clear.   We shut the power off, quickly grabbed the bread and water bottles for my baby to take upstairs.  By then my baby was asleep in her crib.  I looked out the window to the next door neighbor's house and saw their helpers frantically mopping up water in their dining room too.  But why was their power still on?!

  Meanwhile the helpers out on the street were cheerful, laughing. I felt so helpless, as I felt they did not know water was coming in from the creek. 

   To this day I am so grateful the water reached only my tsinelas.  My feet did not even get wet. 

    And the next year, by January, we made the decision to move.  Not due mainly to the flood, but as we learned by Ondoy 2009, a truly good move we were blessed to have been able to make.

*An aside:  This situation made me 100 times more grateful than I already was about breastfeeding.  Contamination-free, and available anytime unless mom is under extreme stress from the conditions.  I was surprised my baby quietly nursed that evening all while I moved about stressing over the flood. She slept just as well, more soundly than usual in fact.  My husband and I went about cleaning up the portion of the first floor in the dark, and having pizza delivered while she slept.

26 June, 2012

One road to Taal town...passes a fantasy world

     I'm sorry but the castle just looks better to me with its faded paint versus the way I remember it over ten years ago, being constructed and with new, bright colors.

    I do remember how my generation, with new salaries in our early twenties, was pursued to purchase membership in what was touted as a "Disneyland" in Batangas.  There were incredibly attractive rates, and controversies surrounding it conception then.  I heard a few who actually thought it a good investment, and lost. I wonder what has happened to it.  Is it used for television and film locations? Perhaps a fantasy wedding venue?  It seems to be a photo-opp stop now.
Dad would freak seeing this flag with a small rip at the corner. They had a dozen lining their fence.

   I thank it for exciting my child, she who is in the age of fantasy and magic.  Love the stone dragon close to the highway.  Continuing the trip down to the heritage town of Taal, she talked nonstop about going back to see the castle. She kept saying the dragon was human and turned to stone. (real and turned to stone). She was satisfied assuming we couldn't enter the castle because it is full of stone anyway.  Ah, I can't wait till she gets to Disneyland, or Europe!  In the meantime, it's Laurel, Batangas.

   Surprisingly, on the trip up from Taal, she viewed the castle again but was less excited.  Apparently the heritage houses, the Taal basilica, and of course, the incredibly glittery children's gowns in the barong capital overtook her imagination more.
Taal town across the embroidery and barong market

     More on Taal town next.

Puzzle Mansion

     You will easily spot the signs saying "Puzzle Mansion bed and breakfast".  It is home to a large collection of jigsaw puzzles assembled by its proprietress over 25 years. The signs are just beside Antonio's signs, in barangay Asisan (hope I got that right).  You will be curious. If you have children you will be even more curious. If you like puzzles, you will be curious-er.  You will stop by--it is not too far from the Tagaytay national highway.  You will turn into the access road, drive down its steep, pretty flower-lined driveway:

       You will wonder, what with blue and white signages and buildings, if they serve Greek food.  You admire the two horses grazing.

       You will be met by the very amiable manager, who shows you the puzzle exhibit, and talks cheerfully about the puzzles, the place and what they offer, hopes and dreams for it.  I suspect he is actually closely related to the owner, as he speaks of the place with such passion, like he built it himself.

       You will ooh and ahh at the puzzles you will see. 

       However, not everyone can be pleased all the time, and so...I admired the structure of the building, its airy open hall facing a green yard full of various flowers, but the interior decoration was not for me.  I was calmed by the deep blue of the simple swimming pool, I loved it.  Most of all, I like how this lady has moved her passion for puzzles into a venue for relaxation.  I admire the patience and passion and sincerely hope she meets her goal of making it to the Guinness book even though I'm not a fan of making certain world records in it.  I like how she has displayed a variety of puzzles, including those of cartoon characters for children. 

     Personally I feel the place is conducive to putting puzzles pieces together, going for a swim, eating.  So I would suggest tables and puzzles for guest activity. However unless I have loads of time and money to spare, I am not sure I would really like to spend a weekend in it, except maybe to be able to wake up at dawn or stay at sunset to birdwatch.  As we listened to amiable manager, we caught a flash of black in the background beyond the pool.  The big black bird zoomed so fast we couldn't tell what it was. It was not a crow. There is a creek, and when there is a creek and lush growth, there are birds. He confirmed their presence.  We thus hope nobody builds anything on the pineapple hill above the creek.  

     Apparently, Metro Manila offices have enjoyed team-building or planning sessions here.  The air is cool, and the banks and companies that came vowed to make it a regular venue.  There is a spacious function hall by the pool, which I'm sure, engaged couples who do jigsaw puzzles together may be interested in for their weddings.

    So anyway, you will see the signs, just turn and go. It won't take thirty minutes. There is an entrance fee of Php 75 to view the puzzles in the room. That's fine. If you're curious.

24 June, 2012

Mer-Nel's of Los Banos Laguna

     Outside the Rizal home, in the structure meant for more exhibits, stand huge posters of the SM series "My City My Home" featuring a descendant of Dr. Rizal, Ms. Barbara Gonzales, and another of a Calamba artist.  The man raved about the scrumptious chocolate cakes of Mer-Nel.  There was a photo of the heart-shaped chocolate cake with what looks like boiled icing? marshmallow?  Perhaps it was because we ended our tour of the shrine at exactly noon, but for other reasons I was curious about this cake.  For one, it seemed to be a town favorite.  I love chocolate and chocolate cake (an understatement, really) so when I hear about ''the best'' then I have to try it.  The attraction too, is that it's homegrown (from Los Banos, but this is their first branch out in SM Calamba).  Bacolod has Caleya's, and for macarons Felicia's. I've already posted about missing Metro Manila's Polly's, Gourmet's Palate, Becky's Kitchen, et al. (newsflash, Purple Oven is coming very soon to Nuvali!).  Since we were already in Calamba, Mer-Nel's was a must-try.

    A quick inquiry with the shrine officer and we were on our way to SM Calamba.  I was hoping it would be a bakeshop just around the city center, to add to its charm. But I suppose having it in SM is actually more convenient. A bit of a turn-off were directions to the cake shop though..."sa 2nd floor katabi ng CR". For the non-Pinoy, CR is "Comfort Room" or the restroom.  And accurate directions are, this cake shop is "next to the restroom". Having been to SM Calamba once before, I knew exactly where the CR's were. They were on the side facing Mt. Makiling.  Right by the window with the nice view of the mountain.  I wasn't fazed though, as the nice lady raved about their cakes---masarap ang cakes nila punta kayo! So we went, thinking maybe the man who mentioned the cake in the advert wasn't paid to rave about it after all (or didn't own the shop). My apologies to you sir, this was just a thought.

    I love their shop! It's small, it IS next to the CR, and it's just a small nook, with one chiller. In the chiller, a small variety of cakes. It includes pandan, ube and other variations on the classic chocolate.  Pressed for time I was quick, choosing their signature heart-shaped chocolate cake.

   And when there is a queue, isn't it a bit more enticing (the first time at least)?  Doesn't it mean, pag pinipilahan, there's a reason?  Love their operation. A simple walk through, order, write your 'message'', maybe sit on one of two stools, and listen for your name. Watch your box being ribboned and you're out.

  Now for the cake itself.  Well, at first, I thought, nothing special...they are actually huge caterers after all, and this tastes like your usual cake found on the regular caterer's buffet.  A chiffon with boiled icing.  BUT, after a few bites...the cake grew on me. I enjoyed it...and realized it reminded me of ...childhood in Manila! It was tasty after all.  I'm not a fan of the cake itself, but in combination with the chocolate frosting, it was yummy and addictive.  I would buy this again and maybe try their other cakes.  Prices are good, too. This medium heart was Php 195, a smaller one Php 125.    

Jose Rizal would have been 151

...on June 19.  Here are snapshots of his shrine in his hometown of Calamba, just about three toll exits away from the Eton exit, through a mess of tricycles and jeepneys, past the SM Calamba and sticking to the right side of the road, over a railroad track you can easily miss (because of the shanties, carts, people, vendors right ON the tracks); a dangerous crossing. 

I should have but didn't have the heart to capture the mess in photos.  It's a sorry range of emotions, feeling inspired by, proud of, and interested in Jose Rizal's life while wondering what exactly he would write about the town now.  On the way, there are interesting old structures still well-maintained, like the Farmacia Lina, but generally, a drive through this Burgos st. is...I have no words.

Inside the house, one of the first exhibits describes the place as all ricefields.
There is also a photo of the railroad track as it appeared in his day or a little past his time...with the backdrop of Mt. Makiling, the tracks are on bare land.

One of the highlights of showing children replicas of bahay-na-bato like this one, is when they see the wooden-benches of the toilet.  Just before that, usually the stone stove or adobe ovens elicit oohs, but the toilets always win the most ahhs.  And then of course, the kid loved the bucket and well.

I came here when I was young but only now have I learned that the  original house was destroyed and this is a replica. It doesn't matter.   Rizal's spirit is here and inspires me to read the Noli and Fili again, out-of-school.