New Year Rush

Ipe, Joey and I braved the crowds and went to the grocery to buy some much needed supplies and here’s what greeted us:
A good thing we were able to complete twelve fruits: apples, pears, oranges, guyabano, pineapple, sugarapple, chesa (what’s is english equivalent, i can’t place right now), grapes, papaya, melon, mangoes, and calamansi (this one a last minute addition, hahaha):
Happy New Year everyone!

Christmas Eve: Gifts Galore

Never too late to post how we spent our Christmas Eve.
Our Noche Buena feast consisted of ribbon pasta, ham, chocolate cookies, sisig. Mostly easy-cook thingies I managed to pull out of our overflowing cupboard (Christmas is very good for our cupboards and refrigerator, what with our combined Christmas baskets and giveaways).
And of course, come midnight, gifts!
sneaking in Joey’s gift a few hours before midnight
the Christmas tree, notice good old Cow guarding the gifts
And finally, midnight strikes! Here are some pictures of Joey with his gifts:
Hope you had a fun fun fun Christmas!

Review: I Love You Goodbye

When I first heard that Star Cinema was making a movie with this title, I decided that I would watch it before even seeing the preview. I loved that song – heartbreaking, soulful, and honest. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes (the same goes for “Paalam Na” by Rachel Alejandro and “Sana Maulit Muli” by Gary V) so I thought, a movie with this song would probably be as good, if not better.
I managed to drag some Varsi friends to see it with me earlier this evening and I was immediately worried that I forgot my hanky – to give you an idea of how much a crybaby I am: I cried watching Shrek.
The movie is about a young cafe waitress, played by Angelica Panganiban, who gets dumped by her boyfriend of four years (Derek Ramsay) and finally moves on with the help of the doctor who attended to her during a near-nervous breakdown (Gabby Concepcion). The conflict in the movie is supposed to be on how she adjusts to being the girlfriend of an older man who is in the process of getting a divorce from a near perfect ex-wife in the form of Angel Aquino,with whom he shares a twenty year old daughter played by Kim Chiu, and eventually choosing between the doctor and the ex-bf who suddenly reappears to win her back. Some minor conflict is presented by her future mother-in-law, Liza Lorena, who is all praises for the ex-wife and only sees a gold digger after her son.
The story is tired and you can second guess just about every scene. As I remarked to a friend, just about every cliche you can think of is here, which I am enumerating below for your benefit:
a) boy dumps girl
b) girl suffers a breakdown,goes crying in the streets with the rain pouring down on her
c) knight in shining armor sees her and rescues her
d) poor girl suffers from the matapobreng mom of the bf
e) girl suffers from the bitchy step daughter
f) beach outing with frolicking on the sand
g) shower scene
It’s so cliche, I played a game with myself if I can guess what the next scene will be – and I was always right. I was right when I said Kim would find Angelica’s pictures with Derek, that something happened to Derek, and when Gabby came home on the night ANgelica was to run off with Derek, I knew that he had something to do with what happened to Derek. And I knew Angelica would be the sole beneficiary of Derek’s will (duh, the lowly freelance photographer managed to make a will!!!).
Then again, what are Filipino movies without cliches? What annoys me are the numerous love scenes, with first one happening fifteen minutes into the movie and lasting over two minutes, and the next two also lasting more than a minute each. I get the point they were in love – no need to be so visual with it, no need to saturate our minds with ANgelica making out with Gabby and Derek, in turns. And what the heck was the shower scene for? To show Angelica taking a bath naked? Duh.
As for the conflicts – they were all solved in the easiest ways possible: the other guy died accidentally, the mother and the step daughter suddenly came to their senses and get cozy with the poor girl. It reminded me of Aga and Anne’s movie, where Aga and Christopher’s issues suddenly became non-issues. But at least, that movie had beautiful cinematography; this one didn’t even take full advantage of the Zambales and Batangas beaches.
Acting was likewise terrible – what’s up with Derek’s face twitching as if he was about to laugh in several (if not all) of his scenes? ANd Angelica’s hysterical crying/laughing/smiling fit is not cute at all but unnerving. Angel Aquino sounded as if she was reading from a text book.  Acting was so bad, I think only Kim Chiu gave a nice enough performance – but then again, it’s always easy to be the bitch.
One friend warned me – the song is better than the movie. And she was right. I didn’t even feel the need to look for a tissue.
This movie is a lousy attempt at filmmaking – obviously hastily made to meet the filmfest deadline, with only one goal in mind – to rake in the money. Too bad, I was hoping to watch Gabby in a quality film and was also expecting much from Angelica after seeing her performance in A Love Story.
All in all, movie is barely okay. But I will not recommend it to anyone.

Manila Churches

Posting photos of some of the more famous churches in the city to help those planning their weddings. 😀
San Sebastian
the all steel interior of the San Sebastian, construction of which was spearheaded by the same guy who built the Eiffel Tower
Sta. Cruz and Malate Churches

Will post some more, just need to find where I saved five years’ worth of Visita Iglesias (and we visit 14 churches a year, so I should be able to give you 40-50 churches).
You can also try visiting my multiply album –

Varsi Amihan Christmas Party

It has been an annual tradition to have a Christmas party for Varsi amihans and ever since Ipe and I got married, we’ve been hosting it at our house or we take charge of the venue. This year, we had it at our unit.
It was kinda last minute what with everyone just plain busy nowadays, and some are abroad (hint: Leah) and some are out of town, so only a handful made it.
standing from left: Ipe, Dex, Jere, Lynda, Feli, Yekyek, Ian; seated: me, Lyn, Gerald and Joey (not in photo – Carli)
Lynda and ninong Jere with Joey out in the hallway
TL and Ria with Joey trying on shades (Ria’s?)
goofing around with Joey in our bedroom

For food, I cooked my Varsi-famous pesto, steamed tilapya, ham slices, and ice cream. It was just mainly an eat and run event. Hahaha. Though we did watch Villa Estrella and Mirrors after stuffing ourselves full.
Next year, I promise we’ll bring back the Charades and Wish List. Hopefully, we can have the party in HK or Macau since it’s our 10th year anniversary. 😛

Sonya’s Garden – Heaven on Earth

For the last installment of my Sonya’s Garden entries, I’ll tour you around the garden itself.
 Entrance to one of their dining halls

And of course, what would Sonya’s Garden be without the flowers? Believe it or not, what I like most about Sonya’s isn’t the food. It’s the garden itself and the greenery and the scent of fresh flowers that greets you upon your entrance. It’s a fragrance no perfume has captured yet and if heaven has a scent, I would imagine it to smell like Sonya’s.

pots of freshly picked flowers are strewn all over the walkways

Me, on a lacy duyan (left) and posing before the entrance to their dining hall (right). Forgive the tummy bulge – I just helped myself to the buffet lunch . For those wondering, tank top is from Kamiseta, striped purple shorts from Mango, Bangle from Salsatrends, shoes from Pill, bag from Charles and Keith, shades from Fly wear, and vintage watch/necklace bought at a steal in 168 Mall for Php 150!!! Similar necklaces can be bought from Cru at the Archaelogy section of the Power Plant Mall for Php 1500.
Next time, I’ll probably stay in one of their rooms and have a pamper me weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Sonya’s Garden: Sinful Indulgence

For me, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A not so surprising thing given that its name alone says it all – Break-fast – it breaks many hours of no food intake (since you’re sleeping) and gives you the strength to go about your daily tasks. I even have this personal thing that no breakfast means no me – I can miss lunch or dinner or both, but I simply will not function without a proper breakfast. Even people at the office know me as the breakfast girl since I like food that reminds me of it (think tapsilog, bacon).
So I was really excited to try Sonya’s breakfast menu.  I’ve tried their lunch/dinner menu many times but I was only able to haul my sleepy body there last  August (fine, I was only able to go there since we stayed overnight in Tagaytay). 
I made reservations for ten people since I was treating my side of the family for breakfast and had the Filipino breakfast. 
First thing they served was the mango salsa – my favorite in the world. I’m partial when it comes to mangoes since I love this fruit but whoever thought of mixing it with tomatos, parsley, onions and sprinkling it with salt and pepper was a genius. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw the mango salsa.
After that, we were served a big, boneless bangus (daing in short) which must have been soaked in the vinegar mixture for a long time, or whatever it is that makes them bangus, because it tasted heavenly. This coming from someone who grew up having daing every other day (it’s my mom’s favorite so we didn’t really have much choice) and have tasted many variations to the lowly bangus. And it was nicely fried too – crispy on the outside, but melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside.
Then they served us mushroom omelette and chicken and pork adobo – again, I am speechless. The adobo was served just the way I liked it – a bit oily sauce and very tasty. It was so good I forgot to take photos but you can look at my plate to the left.
Dessert consisted of fresh ripe mangoes with edible flowers on top:
For drinks we had bottomless homemade hot chocolate and coffee. I don’t know what type of chocolate they used – my papa said it tasted like cashew nuts (yes, you can grind fresh cashew seeds and make chocolates out of them) but it was perfect.
I still have to taste their continental breakfast, though; they also have set menu but only for guests of twenty or more so I guess it’ll be awhile before I get to taste that.
Breakfast buffet is at Php 427 per person. Not bad – it’s buffet after all and nothing beats Pinoy breakfast served sit-down style in a garden setting.

Sonya’s Garden – A Fresh Take on Fresh

I must confess I am not a fan of big leafy greens. I eat squash, okra and stringbeans but that’s just about it. However, weight issues have prompted me to start eating salads for lunch- salads that I eat only half of, and only the chicken chunks get finished off. I hated the taste of veggies tasting like, well, veggies – lasang halaman.
Then I heard of Sonya’s Garden last year from one of my friends and decided to try it out. There’s no menu; or rather, they do but it’s just one set – salad, bread and dips, pasta with two sauces, dessert and tea. So I reserved a buffet lunch for two.
We started off with a big bowl of fresh lettuce and arugula and for toppings, we had bowls of mangoes, nuts, turnips, cucumber, egg, carrots, and pineapple. And a big bottle of Sonya’s Secret Dressing (their version of Caesar). You’ll probably think you only need one serving but their salad is so good, I can finish off the big bowl by myself. Thing is, the veggies taste so fresh and so crisp, there’s no bitter aftertaste at all. You don’t get the feeling that you’ve been munching on grass. 
Voila!
 
Then we were served a big bowl of pasta. Pasta is served with two kinds of sauce – sun dried tomato and cream chicken with mango. For toppings, we had black olives, capers, ratatouille,shiitake mushrooms, and fried salmon belly. And of course, the ever-present grated parmesan cheese.
We also had freshly baked wheat bread with sesame seeds with homemade dips consisting of pesto, white cheese, pate, and anchovies. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of this part of the meal (even on subsequent visits).
Dessert consisted of chocolate cake, banana rolls (or turon), and glazed sweet potato. However, I must say the dessert is a big disappointment, especially after having the best salad and one of the best pastas as your entrees. The cake is so-so, the turon and sweet potato are nothing spectacular. Sort of the things you can buy anywhere, from the neighborhood bakeshop to the turo-turo at the nearest street corner.
I must not forget to mention the drinks though – we had a bottomless supply of freshly squeezed dalandan juice throughout the meal and tarragon tea after dessert.
What makes the food at Sonya’s special is that all the vegetables and fruits are homegrown – afterall, Sonya’s started off as the owner’s own garden. Bread and dessert are cooked there as well, not just bought from someone else or from a concessionaire. So you get everything fresh.
Buffet lunch/dinner is at Php 610 per head. It’s best to call for reservations particularly on weekends and holidays coz the place gets packed- +639175329097/+639175335140.
Breakfast review up next!

Cruz Family Reunion

It has been a Christmas day tradition to have the Cruz family reunion for more than fifteen years now. It’s on a rotation basis and with nine  uncles and aunts to divide the hosting tasks, we’ve only had two rounds each. Now, it’s one of my tita’s turn so the party was moved to their village’s pool/clubhouse in San Mateo. 
banner greeting guests
our family (mama and louis stayed at home)
Joey’s pilyo side so obvious in this photo, hehehe

I haven’t been to a family reunion in years mainly because we’ve drifted apart (issues, issues) so I was surprised at the number of nephews and nieces. And all the little cousins have grown up and married!
Anyway, I’m glad we went there if only to taste home-made achara and Bulacan-style menudo. Trust me, you’re missing half your life if you haven’t tasted these.

Presents Galore- Italian Goodies

I so love presents and Ipe got lots of gifts – mostly giveaway bags, grocery baskets, and cards. But a few days ago, he brought home this lovely gift. Still grocery items but yummy stuff:
assorted cookies
cheese popcorn
flavored candies
chocolate paste
orange flavored chocolate chips
tea
I guess this can be bought in a specialty store somewhere in Rockwell. I’ll try looking for it the next time I’m there. 😛