Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Landscapes by Lola Cons

Lola Cons loves painting flowers. Remember her paintings which I dubbed "Flores de Mayo." Recently, Lola Cons has ventured into painting landscapes. When I saw this painting of a church, the strokes and colors reminds me of Van Gogh's landscape paintings. Posted below are some of her landscape paintings - a mountain and a waterfall.




Monday, August 29, 2011

Surprising Mambukal (Bacolod)!

I was in Bacolod for the Negros Occidental-Oriental leg of a research project. On the last day of our stay, our host toured us in Mambukal resort. I've been to Bacolod so many times, and heard of Mambukal since 1987 (my first trip to Bacolod), but this is the first time I've really appreciated Mambukal.

The resort boast of a natural spring water pool, sulphuric hot bath, butterfly farm, water falls, rapids, and hot mud (off-limits, of course). Let the pictures speak for themselves. Next time you're in Bacolod, try and visit Mambukal. The best part? Entrance fee is only P30. :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pork! Glorious Pork at TRES Resto (The Block - SM City)

This will blow your mind -- Binagoongang Lechon Kawali for only three pesos!!? Ain't that something! Actually, that's what captured our attention. We entered the restaurant "Tres," hoping for a pleasant surprise. And boy, did they ever gave us one!
The ambiance of the restaurant, located at the ground floor of SM North EDSA-The Block, attempts to recreate an old-Philippine house. The walls are decorated with checkered colored-glass window panes. The chairs and tables are solid wood. On the second-floor/ mezzanine, small picture frames that peppered the walls contain sceneries in the country-side. And I really like the attempt to re-create a feeling of being in the 2nd level of the house by having a real 'window' that allows people to see what's happening on the 1st level. And the waiters were all wearing (wow!) white, crisply pressed long-sleeved tops (unlike other restos that have gone too modern with their multi-colored uniforms, or have fallen in love with everything black). So far, so good. I like the atmosphere.
Now, on to the most exciting part: Eating!
We ordered Ginataang Crispy Hito, Sinigang Pork Spareribs, and Binagoongang Lechon Kawali for the main course, and Banana-Ube Turon with Langka Sauce for dessert. Julia had her favorite ripe mango shake, and Geof his usual ice tea.

The Crispy Hito was filleted to bite-sized bits, crisp-fried, topped with fried garlic, and served with the gata sauce and kamote chips on the side. The bite-size boneless fish fillet was really friendly to kids (and adults who always get trapped with fish-bones). The gata-sauce was also good - you can enjoy the richness of the gata without getting the feel that it's too milky-rich (hindi nakaka-umay).

Then the Pinoy favorite, the glorious Sinigang Pork Spare-ribs! The sinigang soup was thick as the gabi (taro) was pureed and mixed with the pork soup - it thus creates that nice feel in your tongue as the taro adds texture to the soup's salty-sour taste. The pork ribs were also generously served. I just wish they put more veggies in the Sinigang. But nevertheless, we were very pleased with this dish.

Then the Binagoongang Lechon Kawali. There were only four crispy strips of it (hey, i'm not complaining, it only cost me P3.00!) and Geof got most of it so I only got to taste a tiny bite. The crunchiness was great, but the sauce feels and taste like the sauce in the Ginataang Hito. Maybe the chef got confused??? or maybe they need to innovate more as regards the sauce of this dish.

In all, we were happy with the main course. So happy that I got adventurous to order the banana-ube turon with langka sauce. Well, it didn't disappoint. The mix of ube and banana wrapped together and fried was a delight. It was a bit too sweet, though. And I wish the langka sauce has more langka taste to it.

What delighted me also was Julia's mango shake served in a very tall glass, it feels like having two servings of mango shake!

Indeed, pork lovers will enjoy the special and unique dishes of Tres (which we noticed centers on the lechon). Maybe on our next visit at Tres, we will try Sinigang na Lechon, Lechon Rice, Crispy Kare-Kare, Pinakbet with Bagnet or Dinuguang Lechon Kawali.

Warning: Eating too much pork is not good for your health. When at TRES, ignore this warning and enjoy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Museo Pambata: Where Kids Learn & Adults Become Kids

We met the family of a co-student at Nagoya University (Japan), Lanie and her son, Yosh and her niece at the Children's Museum (Museo Pambata) located at Roxas Blvd. cor. T.M. Kalaw. The day was fun and educational for the kids. Julia and Yosh enjoyed playing at the theme rooms and worked with various interactive exhibits. The kids entered a giant mouth maze and discovered how food is digested. Julia and Geof learned that the intestines are so long. At the exhibits about "Old Manila", Geof listened to narrations about our national heroes like Andres Bonifacio. They rode on a tranvia - an old mode of transportation in Manila. There were exhibits about how to protect our environment and posters about young Pinoy heroes.

This was our 2nd time to visit the museum. The first time was four years ago when Julia was about two years old. The museum then has more attractions then. Now, it seems tat some rooms need renovation. The museum is a good alternative to parks and malls. I hope the City of Manila will maintain the facilities and improve the exhibits so that they can be at par with the Science Museums at Hong Kong and Singapore. It would be nice if they have  a Jollibee or McDo nearby or even inside the compound - I am sure their entrance sales will increase.
Geof and Apple
"Ang haba naman ng bituka natin ...."
Yosh and Julia had fun at MP!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Day at La Mesa Ecopark

La Mesa Ecopark is a 33 hectare public park which was developed by ABS-CBN and MWSS to create public awareness on the protection and preservation of the La Mesa watershed. At La Mesa Ecopark, each member of the family can enjoy varied outdoor activities. La Mesa Ecopark boasts of the following facilities:  (a) Five hectares of picnic spots with grilling facilities underneath a forest of varied trees, (b) Salt Water Swimming Pool –  Salt granules are used instead of chlorine making the water safer and less toxic, (c) Superferry Boating Lagoon, (d) Fishing Lagoon where you can relax while waiting to catch a fish, (e) Mountain Bike Trail  where you can test your biking skills under the shade of trees.  (f)Shell Flower Terraces – Two hectares of flower terraces, (g) Ecomuseum – A museum dedicated to environmental education and biodiversity conservation, (h) Butterfly Trail and Hatchery – An educational walk through the wonderful, colorful world of butterflies, (i) Various pavilions for rent for private functions and overnight camping facilities.

We visited the ecopark with the family of my balikbayan sister, Cosette last July 23, 2011. We were fortunate that time - it was a sunny day, the rain came just before we left. It was a relaxing day for us. We held a mini-picnic of fishballs, chicharon and chips. The kids - Geof, Julia and Anne Marie - enjoyed biking. Joey, who love nature, exhausted his energy taking pictures of flowers, trees and plants. We climbed the stairs to view the La Mesa Dam reservoir - Joey lost a lot of calories - that's why he has to refuel during our lunch at Kanin Club, UP Technohub. The park was too big and we were not able to see the other attractions. But the short encounter with nature made our day.