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

30 November, 2014

Socrates' Secret

I do want this place to remain...secret.

Just because it is an ideal place for me to enjoy, in peace.  It is spacious enough for busy dining hours, but I like it spare, like this.

The interiors are very pretty, blue and teal walls...not exactly the usual Greece blue, but just as attractive; various owls in many shapes and forms; comfortable seating,  lovely lamps, interesting curios. Most of all, an inviting children's corner with wood furniture.

moussaka...there is also a vegetarian variant. They serve whole wheat pita 
The food! So delicious, so rich in flavor and scent. Ingredients are obviously not scrimped on. Portions are just-right to generous servings and picture-pretty presentation.  
I was told the chef was trained by a Greek chef.
lamb gyro

The design draws one in, and it's a really good thing the food equals the care put into the decor details. They even have board games for guests to play with...but really, the food is enough for me to come back.  I see this place as perfect for ladies getting together; and apparently, some faculty members of a nearby school have been coming over for the same reasons I would...the calm ambience, and the dishes, of course.

Okay, it is in the Laguna Central Mall...below Shopwise. At the corner of Laguna blvd. and the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa Highway.It is next to...what happened to...Kenji's Steamboat? Where I enjoyed the Bak kut teh? Sayang...

These next two photos were taken at Ble, in BF Homes, Paranaque...

This was actually the only dining space (plus a table outside) they had.  As of a few weeks ago, they have a new branch on another street also in BF.

Oh, Socrates' menu has a good selection of popular Mediterranean favorites, except maybe for seafood like calamari...which Ble, pictured above, serves.  Ble is in Aguirre St., BF Homes, Paranaque, and from a tiny, 12 or so-seater nook, now has a branch on another street. It is owned by a Greek couple.  There are equally pretty pendant lamps but again, my photo fails to capture them.  Again, love the blues, but they are a bonus for the actual attraction---the food.  

27 November, 2014

Manila, Manila

     From a window in the National Museum of the Philippines...

  Teodoro F. Valencia circle in Rizal Park.  A 40-foot statue of Lapu-lapu stands in the center.  I have just learned something today: 

14 November, 2014

Real Rainbow Beats Faux Ice Castle

     Really...you know what my kid and the kids around screamed about more? This...on the opposite side of the sky...
"I wonder what caused it?", said Anna

Crown Asia's Ice Castle

     ...I am not in any way affiliated with Vista Land. Clever Marketing Dept...sulit inexpensive (much lower than store-bought), yet almost accurately detailed custom-made Halloween costumes...wigs sent by relatives...and voila!

ELSA? Do you wanna build a snowman?








13 November, 2014

This weekend...

the road to Tagaytay from Santa Rosa will be awfully busy.  

Born and raised in Metro Manila (forty plus years remember), and having seen five Christmases here, I just know there is a pattern in the jumble   (jungles) of our cities.  Pay days are not universally on the 15th &30th anymore, and yet you combine the 15th with a weekend, throw in a full moon some months, and you will have a monster jam leading to the malls.

In these parts...here is where cars will slow down...
as seen from Nuvali's side.  View from the valley.

Last week, I was so sure that was the "north mountain" there.  Last Monday, with the addition of the ice castle's balcony...and squint, squint, do you see him standing in front...dear Olaf...it is confirmed.
Valenza a.k.a. Disneyland.
My kid's own C.O.D. Christmas or Greenhills Shopping Center. If you remember the C.O.D. displays then welcome, my fellow forty-something!  

See you at the castle one of these evenings, when the lights go on.   I wonder how the residents feel, when their village gate gets blocked...

I personally prefer "nativity" displays with nipa huts for Christmas, but some villages and churches do have them too. 

30 October, 2014

Nuvali Transport Terminal

Yes you can take a bus non-stop from the Nuvali Transport Terminal (next to Robinson's supermarket in Solenad 2), to Makati-Manila and Bonifacio Global City.

According to a security guard:

No, the bus is not the Nuvali-branded nice big tourist bus parked there.

There are 2 buses, either from Jam or Star?

One goes to the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) , stops at bus stops within the BGC, and ultimately at the Market!Market!. The other goes to the LRT Taft Buendia Station.

The LRT Bus sometimes reaches SRO. (Standing room only), and although supposed to leave at 6:30, often leaves before that time.

The BGC Bus is less full, with empty seats sometimes, is supposed to leave at 7:00 a.m. but leaves before then sometimes, sometimes as early as 6:30.

Here is what we saw and experienced:

1. The Jam bus going to LRT Taft Buendia was already filled.  I drove my husband to the terminal...at 6:15 all he could take was an aisle seat.

2.  It left at exactly 6:22 a.m. 

3.  It stopped at the Paseo de Santa Rosa bus stop, very briefly. Presumably to pick up a passenger.

4.  It was at Osmena highway by around 7:30 a.m.

5.  The screen on-board showed that the LRT Buendia station was crowded.

6.  Meanwhile the BGC bus was from Worthy Transport.

7.  The BGC bus was less than half filled by 6:20 a.m.

8.  There were other vehicles (wives, presumably, and personal drivers) dropping passengers off for both buses.

So there you have it.  I THINK the fare is Php 90. 

A friend from Taguig right at the BGC wanted to come to Nuvali via this bus...but the trip from BGC is at 6:30 pm.  

The alternative is the "complex" in Balibago, Sta. Rosa.  The car wash owner at the Caltex station on Laguna blvd. told me he takes buses from there, but boards it outside the Waltermart Sta. Rosa.  SRO by the time the bus gets to that point though.  At the "complex" there are also UV Express vans. 
Outside South Supermarket there are vans as well. But all these are destined only for the Alabang terminal.

Let me know how your trip goes? Anybody out there? Yoohoo?


24 October, 2014

Happily Rural

     It is nice that my child was able to witness a calf's birth while on our way to her piano lesson in a hilly village here with awesome views of the Laguna bay (whooog..breathe..breathe! sorry..I am in such a hurry again)...

   The view is the reason most of few homes there, and the ones currently being constructed, are adding roofdecks.  My friend was the first to include a deck, and they've got this 360 view, lovely at sunset.  Plus really cool breezes. Back to the cows...

     Well..we were a few minutes late, the calf was already on the ground..

     I took care to black out the mother's behind for you....as I said, the calf had just come out.  Again, another of those times I wish I had my real camera.  The kid took the first photo for me.

     The second photo was forty minutes after, taken from the other side of the road.  I wish I included a shot of the beaming owner man. His grin was really wide, his eyes so bright, proud and happy!  Like a new father!

      Another thing you don't see is that to the immediate right is a new commercial building, and across it on this side of the road, is another commercial building. Both took ages to complete, and have been vacant for more than a year already.  On the day we passed though, a furniture store was setting up shop on the building closest to these cows.

      All these right across the Adventist University of the Philippines, Puting Kahoy, Silang.

      I will be sad to see the trees and livestock disappear and in its place, more such buildings as those new retail ones.

14 October, 2014

Sky Ranch.

A shot from the train I couldn't even see on the screen. Turns out to be an interesting metal landscape.

  I'd never wanted to enter the Sky Ranch.  Having seen the crowds within, and having gotten stuck in traffic outside it, I swore I would not have to set foot in it.

  I did want my daughter to experience riding the horses there...horseback rides existed next to the Taal Vista Lodge from as far back as the seventies.  At least some things remain.

     Well, as it was an ordinary weekday--not so ordinary--it was a holiday in Calamba, which might have accounted for at least a quarter of the visitors that day...I agreed to let the kid at experience the place at least once, with conditions. After I pointed out that the ferris wheel's cars were enclosed, everyone agreed we were not to ride it.  I will stick to Enchanted Kingdom's, thank you.  The horseys were the highlight and the best for her.  

    These are just snapshots taken while riding on the train.  If they look familiar, it's because they're the same trains as in SM malls.  Sky Ranch is SM-owned after all.  

     I have to say, the staff is very warm, welcoming and attentive.

     Some young adults going on the zip line provided entertainment.

     As for food...it was still down to the usual fast-food joints.

I Have Chalk Paint

I love chalk paint. Why? Because I do not like having to sand pieces of furniture first, and the chalky look can be distressed for a vintage, shabby appearance.

I've mixed up some of the lime and powdery blue colors I used on a child's table and chair (table leg pictured at bottom)...and I am selling them in these boxes that are actually decorative box frames (with loops at the corners for hanging).  

"Sun Sea Cottage"
Chalk Paint sampler size decor box kit
Php 365.00

Here are parts of what I've painted with chalk paint...
note I did not bother to distress, and I waxed only the first piece. I've largely been unable to take proper photos and log on to my blog the past month, so took detailed photos from a phone camera instead:

Concha's Garden Cafe

     Maybe last year...I cannot recall exactly when, I posted photos of Mother Earth's Garden.  I may have fantasized aloud about the location being perfect for a cafe...

     This has been the story of my life for the past decade...witnessing others fulfill some "crazy" idea of mine which I could not have implemented myself.

       However, I would have capitalized on this view of Mt. Makiling and built a second level with big picture windows, or just an open balcony.  (Unless that is in their expansion plans).  Sniff, sob, I guess I am still reeling from the loss of King Bee's Makiling view...

  Here is where Concha's is located.  Next to the Petron in Puting Kahoy, Silang. For Manilenos and other non-Silang/Sta. Rosa residents, this is on your way to Tagaytay.  Right across the Adventist University's (AUP) fence and grassy field.

   Now I don't know the owners, though the owner/chef was there the times I dined.  She is not one to introduce herself to customers, or even smile at us I think.  The man, while also being discreet in a corner, is the more welcoming one.  

   Finally and the most important detail: her food is good. It's a full-blown restaurant, to my mind, not just a cafe.  Everything we've ever order was...yummy...lovely presentation, flavorful, and matches the cozy Spanish-influenced Filipino home ambience, and of course, the garden.  The last dish my taste buds still recall is...the Sinampalukang Manok.  Go and try it.

21 September, 2014

Moving to Cavite...

  The subject line had been drafted some months ago, but I never had the time to actually post about this subject. Heck I have not had the time to post anything period.

   Still none now, except to maybe post this photo of Buffy's buffalo milk and ice cream store's porch wall*.  No direct connection to the subject other than Buffy's being located in bgy. Lumil, Silang, Cavite (on the road to Tagaytay), and my childhood fascination with bamboo and interior design, added to the interest in cottage/flea market/vintage coming together in this place.

    Buffy's sells fresh carabao milk and really delicious carabao's milk ice cream. They also have pastillas de leche ...one of the best I have tasted. I have made my own pastillas using carabao's milk and I love my own, but I bought theirs rather than mix up a batch. Again, I have little time (or poor management of it), and if you know how to make pastillas, you know how long and how much arm muscle it takes.

     Back to the porch wall, and Buffy's interiors in general.  I especially noted today, that Buffy's Lutong Bahay Filipino restaurant on the second floor actually is able to combine style elements I have had percolating for some time. That is...  

       ...it has their basic white, white wooden tables and benches, picket fence, farmhouse, cottage, dairy look...but upstairs, bamboo-lined walls, Filipino windows, and bamboo vases on the same white wood tables and chairs.  

      The only thing I'm not sure about is the plastic greenery, flowers, and random little plastic birds lining the walls...but really, they're consistent all over, that I can overlook the fact that I prefer real leaves and flowers.
It gives the place a lot of originality anyway, and hey, less upkeep all around!
Their flourescent light bulbs are bordered by bamboo, too.

      I've always felt it seemed a quaint place to take little children for ice cream...   

      Now I see how I might be able to achieve those two design elements after all---whitewashed cottage and natural color bamboo/native materials.  It is doable.

      Their milk and ice cream are enough for a stopover or ultimate destination.  But it is nice that the owners still took care to make the place pretty too.
*  Those birdhouses? They are sold along the road to Tagaytay too by one seller...

21 April, 2014

Views from Seda Hotel Nuvali

The Monochrome Events hall far right; Mt. Makiling in the background

Nuvali blvd.; Tagaytay ridge on the horizon; Nuvali's playing Fields;
construction of more commercial spaces on the right

Southern Luzon Hospital in the background; two hours later, visible flames, fire trucks, and thick smoke in the Greenfield Development area AGAIN.  As in every holiday and weekend in the summer.

Yes their windows need washing; will forgive them this at this time

Easter Sunday sunset over Solenad 2

Crown Asia's Valenza village; Cathay Land's South Forbes Chateaux de Paris village in Silang in the background

Lounging by their poolside in the morning is refreshing...cool, breezy
If only I could post photos of the hotel staff...they were all friendly, accommodating, professional... and I have to make special mention of the Night Supervisor who actually spent the next day going around checking on guests in his very perky, sincere manner.  Its people are most important...and this hotel's went about their duties in nothing less than we expected of an Ayala hotel.  Hopefully it's not just because they just opened last month. The lifeguard on duty was vigilant, looking out for the safety of guests as some dangerously traversed the higher edge of the pool, and strictly requiring the proper attire. I observed how staff treated the other guests too.  This is probably why I am forgiving this place the imperfect finishing on the interior walls...the dirty windows...