The Venice Piazza

We have a new hangout (by we I refer to Ipe, Joey and myself) which we finally got round to exploring while we were scouring the area for a preschool for Joey.
And that was when we discovered the Piazza, part of McKinley development along well, McKinley in the Fort. It’s quite nice, but I am personally not in favor of all the pretentious sculpture perched along the facade. It reeks of something I can’t quite name. Oh well.
It’s not exactly a mall but more of a hang-out place, with restos, yoghurt places, salons and spas. I actually enjoyed waiting for Joey while having my nails done at nearby Posh Nails. Haha. 
Joey and Ipe love the Sol Gelato (at the ground floor, facing the concert grounds area)
This is where we would spend two hours a day waiting for Joey while stuffing ourselves with fat-free ice cream. I especially love their pistachio and ferrero flavors. Hehehe. And it is also cheaper than other ice cream parlors I know – the mini cup (shown above) costs only Php 90. 
There are still many vacant stalls but there are already Thai, Filipino and Japanese restos, as well as several fast food outlets (Mcdo and KFC come to mind). And coffee shops such as Coffee Bean and Figaro. 
On a side note – I was shocked to find out that SM Bicutan does not have any coffee shop. No Starbucks! And horror of horrors, it seems it doesn’t even have BPI ATM machine there (I asked several guards). Can you believe that? Shocking, but true.

Greenwich Undergoes a Makeover

Greenwich has always been my favorite pizza place (followed by Lotsa Pizza – see, I’m really very cheap). It’s quite amazing how the brand has reinvented and positioned itself as the “IT” place for yuppies, or Yindies, or young independent professionals, as their marketing calls them.
No reinvention will be complete without a makeover and that’s just what it had done – new interiors – couches and padded chairs replacing the old plastic set-up, and photos of John Lloyd and his clique (at least on-cam) now adorn the walls.
 Even the way they serve food has changed – their plates are new, they have metal prop-ups for the pizza and the service has basically upgraded. Their food even taste better and would you believe they now serve steak and cakes and coffee?
Gotta hand it to their Marketing team. I heard they were from Unilever before and even when I was with Unilever’s main competitor, I had to admit their marketing strategies were far superior than ours. And now they’re bringing the goods to Greenwich.

Bookworm’s Paradise

Being a shopaholic and bookworm that I am, I consider myself lucky that my office and my house is a short ride away from the Ayala Center in Makati and the High Street in Taguig. With its myriad of high-end boutiques and department stores, “shopping mecca” seems a more fit description, but with more than five bookstores in its premises, it is also a savior and a book paradise for me.
King of It All
Whenever I am at the Ayala Center, I go straight to National Bookstore at the Glorietta (there is also another branch at Greenbelt 1).
It is almost like an instinct and for good reasons, since there is no other store where I feel at home than at a NBS branch, where everything is always familiar and I don’t have to waste time figuring out the layout or where to find what I need. If I need a bestseller, I just go directly to the display racks greeting customers at the entrance of the 2nd level or browse the storefront windows. I bought all my Twilight books this way – after seeing them stacked neatly in the center, I immediately bought them and went home.

I remember even thinking that I were to be locked up in a place of my choosing, I would choose a NBS branch.

Books aside, it also has the most extensive inventory of school and office supplies. I have gone there several times during office breaks to buy specialty paper, colored envelops and even to have bookbinding and acetate printing done. Would you believe I bought my Christmas tree and all its ornaments at a NBS? This bookstore has saved me countless times that I came up with this rule: if you have an office supply need and you can’t find it at NBS, chances are, what you are looking for does not exist.

I get put off sometimes, though, because most books are wrapped in plastic and they don’t usually allow private reading so I only go here if I have done prior research on the book I am about to buy. Plus, NBS focuses more on the “masa” items, which translates to fewer specialty books and generic supplies in their store.

Package Deal

What NBS does not allow though, is most certainly welcome at my favorite hangouts, Powerbooks and Fully Booked in Greenbelt. I usually go to these stores when I am not pressed for time and have no particular book in mind, or on the opposite end, a particular book dealing with specialized fields, such as fashion and New Age.
Before these two entered the market, reading inside a bookstore was almost unheard of, but I have read halfway through a book on the history of Wicca and simple spells while waiting for friends inside Powerbooks. Finishing a book without buying is actually possible, but then, if you like a book enough to want to finish it, you would have bought it already. I think it’s some sort of reverse psychology marketing strategy that works.
I have spent hours just browsing specialty books on the second level; it’s so homey, and with the couches, carpets and shiny wooden floors, it reminds me of my high school library, sans the stern librarian. It is almost too much that Powerbooks should also have an in-store café, Java Man; the smell of brewing coffee and newly printed books is just too strong to ignore for bookworms like me (I know of a friend who often stays at the cafe until she finishes a book).
On the other hand, I appreciate Fully Booked’s alphabetical arrangement of books by authors. I am not sure if the other stores use the same shelving principle (perhaps they do, although not in a very distinct way) but I suppose it has something to do with their comprehensive collection: after all, this was where I found Agatha Christie’s novels.
Fully Booked’s main branch at the High Street is hands down, paradise on earth for me. It has a first level devoted to magazines, novels, poetry books; a second level for Children’s and Teenagers’ books, travel,history; third level for biographies and other non-fiction; fourth level for special interests and the record bar; and a fifth level for special gatherings.
Oh, and I forgot to mention it has its own Starbucks on the third floor and a supplies section at the basement. AND — a children’s mini-playground on the second floor.
In fact, this particular branch is a favorite hang out for our family. Ipe can browse for Economics and Finance books while sipping Starbucks and Joey can play on the second level while I look at travel and history books. I appreciate that the entire place is carpeted and there are couches strewn all around and you can just flop down wherever to read.

Treasure Hunt

Now this last stop is where I go when I don’t mind cramped spaces and when I am working on a tight budget – Booksale, at the Gold Crest section of the Glorietta. The location of the store alone is a guarantee of a good bargain. Gold Crest, as mallrats and bargain hunters know, is where you can find Divisoria-worthy clothes and trinkets, minus the crowd and the heat.
I have bought numerous cook books here for less than half their original cost, and back issues of foreign editions of my favorite magazines. I must warn you though, not to come to this store expecting to find what you are looking for. As a bargain haunt, it doesn’t usually have the latest books and is hardly organized (but you can blame that on the many customers who throw the books around). But that is exactly what endears this place to me – I never know what I will find.
All else being equal

What bookstore I will go to at any given day largely depends on how much time I have, what I am looking for and what mood I am in. Can I afford to scour the shelves and bear the crowd? Or do I prefer a more subdued climate? It’s all up to you.


Independence Day Weekend

Saw these nice Filipiniana-inspired evening gowns on display at the SM North Edsa’s The Block. I think they were worn by the contestants at the last Ms. Earth pageant. Some of them are actually nice, modernized but still reminiscent of what Maria Clara wore.

I’m not sure which one I like the most, though I like the white one with pink rosettes as well as the hot pink beside it.

Also on display was a big Philippine flag kakanin: