Category: Living

A Taste of Hello Kitty

Historically, this is not the first Hello Kitty Cafe in the Philippines. So, to those who blogged that the Hello Kitty Cafe in BGC was the first HK Cafe in the Philippines, I’m sorry to dispute your claim, but this is wrong info. When hubby and I were still dating (early 2000’s), I distinctly remember going to a Hello Kitty restaurant situated in a mall. I tried searching it online, but so far, I have not been able to pinpoint exactly which mall (it was either SM North Edsa, or Megamall). I even remember ordering a sort of gelatin-like concoction shaped like Hello Kitty’s head. I recall that everything on the menu was quite pricey. Mostly, I remember that the food was not good. At all. I dutifully packed my souvenir (a Hello Kitty table napkin) and left, swearing I would never eat their atrocious food again.

So, in all honesty, I was thinking that when this new one opened up, I would again do my duty as a loyal HK fan, go in, take pictures, “experience” the Hello Kitty-ness of everything, raise an eyebrow on the prices of items, and then never again return because I didn’t like the food. I was correct on all accounts, except for one. First, the Hello Kitty dining experience was pretty good and consistent with the theme. Except for the restroom (C’mon, cafe guys! You can purchase HK toilet rolls. You just need to do a bit of research!), which was really just a restroom with a bit of decal, the overall store was pretty classy, with the HK bows stamped, carved and stuck on almost everything. HK cutlery would be a nice addition, but methinks they purposely didn’t do that so as not to “lose” their forks and spoons to clients wanting a souvenir.

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Perfect place for a bro date…pretty bows for pretty guys!

The items were a bit on the high side, with the main meals hitting 350 php and up. But I guess my biggest surprise (and the thing I was wrong about) was that the food was actually good. Really. I’m not saying this because I was momentarily distracted by the pastel bows on my herbed pork. I’m also not saying this just because I happen to like French food (most of the food on the menu were French). Even my benefactor, (let’s call him Professor J) said that the food was decent. We ordered the roasted pumpkin soup, mMoroccan chicken, herbed pork, spaghetti bolognese and another dish that I forgot.

My daughter dearest polished her plate off in no time at all!

Suffice it to say, I was wrong…the HK Cafe in Uptown BGC is a place I would go back to…mainly because I failed to sample their desserts. Ahaha!

Happy eating!

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5 Tips for Beach Travels with Kids

The sun is my enemy, obviously.

Frankly, I’m not what you would call a beach person. I love a lot of things about the seaside–obviously, one is that in most cases, the air is clean and pollution-free. I love strolling on the sand, looking at seashells and fishies when I go snorkeling and waddling. Swimming, on the other hand, that’s another story altogether. I have a little bit of a fear of the breadth and depth of the seas. And because I am a mom, I am doubly worried that I might lose sight of my child whilst I frolic in the waters. 
But, having said that, I still find relaxation whenever I do go the beach. And as I also want you to have as stress-free time when you go with your family, here are five tips that I want to share with you.

1. Have your child wear his/her bathing suit before traveling. I am the type of person who hits the beach the minute I get there. If you’re that type as well, simply wear your bathing suit inside your regular clothes. Tours nowadays begin with island hopping anyway, so it’s most convenient that all you need to do is peel off your outer clothing and you’re good to go! Putting the bathing suits on your kids beforehand also saves on a lot of time. Your super excited kid won’t have to wait for mommy to put on his trunks.

There’s her swimsuit peeking from underneath her floral dress

2. Bring an inflatable life vest for your child. I used to pack an actual life vest for my daughter, but it does consume a lot of space. An inflatable life vest solved my packing problems, and it made it easier for us to lug the life vest in our carryon. (FYI: When my child didn’t know how to swim yet, I had her wear a life vest on the beach, just in case a strong wave hit the shore. I know, I am a worrywart. ) 

3. Bring 2 sets of slippers. You could bring a pair of aqua shoes, or just plain rubber slippers will also do, plus an extra one for when you enter your hotel room. This way you don’t bring in the beach to your room and the bed.

4. Bring mesh bags. Mesh bags are not only great to store your wet clothes in, they’re also awesome for storing your child’s sand toys! Again, this helps lessen the sand you bring home.

5. Check beforehand the government’s policy on shell-picking. There are are some places in the Philippines where bringing home shells from the beach is prohibited. Palawan and Romblon are two of those provinces. Knowing what is allowed will save on heartache when the child refuses to part with his/her beloved collection. 

My HK Marathon Journey (Part I)


On October 21, 2017 (age: 40 years, 2 months and 6 days exactly), I will join a 5k marathon with my daughter. 5k marathon? Big whooping deal for some regular runners, but not for me. The last 5k marathon I ran was when I was in high school, so yeah, I need to train if my goal is to come out of the run alive.

As with most marathons, there is a cause for this run…an important cause that is near and dear to my heart. I am running for (and hopefully with) Hello Kitty! Yes, it’s a Hello Kitty Run here in the Philippines and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I work better with concrete goals, so I have outlined my plan for the success of this run, the definition of successful being that 1.) most importantly, I don’t collapse and die; 2. I don’t injure myself or my daughter; and 3.) we finish and be deserving of the finisher’s medal.

So here is where I’m at right now.

June 25- My good friends tag me in the official announcement of the HK run via FB. By tagging me, they have proven that they are GREAT friends, and have my best interests in mind. I respond with a resounding YES!!! I speak with my daughter and we agree to run together just so that in case we come in first place, headline reads “Adorbs Mother-Daughter Win the Marathon,” and not “Crazy 40-year old HK Fan Runs Marathon Solo.”

June 26 onwards – In the days that follow, I watch Youtubers and get advice for diet and running tips. I buy a bag of Muesli and replace one of my meals with muesli and yoghurt (something to do with energy). I also shift drinking my morning fruit shake before I do my morning walks. Daughter and I also schedule our walks to establish a routine. 


July 1 – At around 4 am, I pay for the registration fee. Can’t be too early for this. I don’t want to waste my efforts only to find out that I’ve no slot anymore.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Envisioning abs by October. Planning to craft cat ears as well…Stay tuned!

The Barn by Tipsy Pig

UP Town Center is fast becoming a food lover’s  favorite destination. A lot of really good restaurants have long been serving customers here, like Mama Lou’s, Cafe Shibuya, Mad Mark’s, Backyard Kitchen, Casa Verde, Dulcelin, Silantro, Genki Sushi, and a lot more.
One such establishment that recently opened is The Barn by Tipsy Pig. Originally located in Capital Commons in Pasig, they opened their door in Katipunan November last year. They mostly serve Filipino food, with some pizza and pasta in the mix. The Barn drafts their own beer, and it goes without saying that they serve good “pulutan” to go with that beer.

 

Signature Burger – very juicy and the meat is cooked just right

 

 

Not your typical kare-kare, this one is made with crispy fried liempo underneath the steamed vegetables

 

 

 

My favorite – their version of pares made from premium beef, with garlic rice, of course!
Sebastian dip – spinach + crab meat + cheese = FTW
Nachos – pack a flavor and good enough for 4-5 persons
Sebastian’s salad – greens with candied walnuts and balsamic dressing, my kind of salad
Their signature dish, sisig tacos. So good one order is not enough
One of their house-brewed beer, Salted Caramel

 

 

 

Since it opened, The Barn by Tipsy Pig has been a regular hangout for us Katipunan moms, not only for the good food, but great ambiance and service.

 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

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Once upon a time (around 1991), I watched the original Disney version of Beauty and the Beast and fell in-love with the blonde prince who only shows himself in maybe the last 5 minutes of the movie. I loved it so much that I watched the Broadway version in New York in 2006. Suffice it to say, I am a fan. The story is a classic made richer by the beautiful songs.

So of course, I was one of the people who was excited to find out they were going to do a live action version of the movie. Finally, my family was able to watch it last Sunday at a block screening in support of the mentorship program of Differently Special Achievers Movement (https://www.facebook.com/SpecialAchievers). Before the movie, we headed to the art exhibit of these kids, entitled Enchanted,  An Art Exhibit of 18 Child-Artists with Disability. That in itself was already a magical experience, having seen the wonderful works of these kids, who thankfully, have the opportunity to have their voices heard through their art.

Moving to the movie itself, I have to say that the little princess in me was still every bit as excited as she was all those years ago. While a lot of things were taken from the original cartoon version, I thought the additional details made the re-telling much more interesting and gave a depth that was lacking in the first movie. (Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched the movie yet, you should stop reading at this point.)

First, I liked that they explained that the prince wasn’t born cruel. He was made cruel by his haughty father. I also appreciated that they took the time to explain where Belle’s mom was. I had always just assumed that she died, but now I know why. It made their struggles more believable, seeing that they had to go through these experiences.

Second I thought that the idea that the whole village forgot about the castle and the prince was an inspired addition. After all, wouldn’t it be odd not to notice why your prince, nay, an entire castle, suddenly went missing? For me, it also symbolized that maybe, the villagers became cruel too, thus forgetting that they had this hidden gem.

Third, I really liked the beginning, with the prince all made up (makeup and heels–very French) so you couldn’t really see how he looked like. I was wide-eyed as I awaited his transformation. Squee! He is the cartoon-made flesh. Yup, so handsome!

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The true testament to how good the movie was? My little stoic daughter said she cried a little! She has never cried in any movie she has ever seen. EVER.

Yes, it is a story made for kids and for kids-at-heart. So if you fall into one of these categories, you will enjoy this movie a lot!

 

Dad Dear and the Big Bad Tech Monster

My dad is a septuagenarian. He turned seventy last year, and while at times I feel that my age is catching up with my parents, when he hit his 70’s, I realized that the age gap is greater than ever, our differences punctuated by technology. He says things like, “Maan (my pet name), kunin mo ang Facebook ko” (translation: “Please get my Facebook”). To which I reply, “San ko dadalhin?” (trans.: “Where do I bring it to?”). It’s my fault, really. I bought him the iPad that is causing him so much distress. He feels that every time someone messages him, he is required to message back (meaning, I would need to type and edit what he wants to say). He’s quite popular in his circles, being an educator for decades, and when he celebrates another birthday, a ton of people will most likely greet him. This guy might actually need a media manager! Another thing that changed for my dad is that he loves to have lots of pictures taken using his phone. He would then ask, “Paano ko makikita ito sa Facebook?” (How will I see this on Facebook?) To which I reply, “Upload mo” (upload it). Which results to him giving me a perplexed look. (Translation: I, or one of my siblings, should do something so that his friends could see his pics).

My daughter is most patient with him, connecting him to Youtube, messenger and Facebook whenever she can, but even her patience runs thin when he continues to badger her on things he had already been taught. And while I am mildly amused at his attempts to understand technology, it does get me thinking when I will hit my “technological learning barrier” (copyright Anj CP). You know, that ‘virtual wall’ where no new learning will want to penetrate my brain. I already see glimpses of it as I watch my daughter do her programming. Will I be my dad someday and simply not understand how the new world works? While I hope that I will not lose my willingness to learn, historically, it’s not looking good for me. My hope is that I will get a patient grandchild to help me grapple with technology. Karma, please be kind 🙏

Good Deeds and Life Lessons

Once upon a time, when we were college students, my group of friends organized a Christmas outreach in CRIBS, an orphanage for newborns and babies. It was a great experience for us, caring for the babies, singing to them, and even carrying some in our arms. Now, ehrm, about 17 years after, with most of us having had babies of our own, we repeated the experience, this time in Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres in Bustos, Bulacan. And we brought our babies along as well to share in the experience. 
While some orphanages fare better than others, with this one in particular looking very well-kept and managed, the format is that normally, the kids in the orphanage would have a short program, which begins with a prayer and then maybe a short introduction of the orphanage, plus a song or dance number. The kids of St. Martin did not disappoint, with a complete program of songs and dances. We, in turn, brought food to share and some games to play. In the end, everyone came home with a lighter heart, having been blessed with the experience of sharing.

But more than the good feeling that we brought home that day, I do hope that the experience taught my daughter a few things about life.

1. The most obvious takeaway is that she is a very lucky girl indeed because she is growing up with both parents who love her completely and unconditionally.

2. While these kids may lead very different lives, interacting with them on a firsthand basis shows that they also have a lot of similarities, i.e. they’re not so different after all.

3. Serving others, especially those who need help the most, is our responsibility because we have the means to help.

4. Trying new things, even though they are out of your comfort zone, makes you a more well-rounded individual.

5. Every little bit of help counts. Even the simple task of serving food, giving out straws, etc. is an act of love.    

And yes, every time we do an outreach, I do feel that it is a little bit unfair because I take away more than what I give. May the new year give us more opportunities to share!

‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the Season

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  As soon as December kicks in, I feel the urge to crank up my old school Ray Conniff Christmas album – which immediately takes me back to the early 80’s.  That was the time when my sisters and I would labor on our letters for Santa so our dad could “drop them off” at the post office.

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That was also the time when my dad hid our Christmas stocking up on the roof to make us believe Santa actually left it there in the rush to leave before we arrived home from midnight mass.  That was also the time we would run around the house with our mom chasing us while singing “Oh Tannenbaum”!

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Those were glorious years and I don’t tire of remembering them.  In those simple moments, we were truly blessed.

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On this season when we think of family the most, it’s hard to imagine how those without family make it through.  I often get too caught up with my own life and my own family that I forget to share the spirit of Christmas to those who need it the most – those who go through life without the love of family.

I felt deeply honored to have had an opportunity to share early Christmas with the lovely people of “Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres”, a residential compound in Bustos, Bulacan, committed to help street children, abandoned children, or victims of domestic abuse and child labor.  In their simple but beautiful home, built through generous donations, these children are able to feel the semblance of family with their caretakers and other children who endure the same plight.

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Seeing the children’s happy faces – as they sing and dance to popular tunes, play the parlor games we prepared, and enjoy the simple meal of fried chicken and pansit – takes me back to my childhood when all you need to be happy are some good tunes, silly games, and the people you love.

They say those who have so little often give the most.  Their joy was a great gift – and I have been blessed to experience it.

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Names and Faces

I have a confession to make…I’m not good at remembering names! When I’m introduced to someone, I try all the tricks…saying the name repeatedly or associating it with something. Sometimes, I just want to grab a pen and put a name tag on them but that would be rude, no? Add to that, that the current names I try to remember are in a different language 😜. 

Then , there are times when I can’t distinguish sibling names ‘coz they look so much alike! There’s this set of six brothers in our highschool with all their names starting with the letter K. I cannot remember which one is which! But, I guess other people say the same with us five sisters 😬😂–we all look alike! (We do not!)

There’s this time I thought the Enchanted actress also starred in the Shopaholic movie. You know what I’m talking about?


This! They look the same, right? Apparently, they’re not one and the same person! Amy Adams and Isla Fisher. I can’t even remember which played what role….I had to Google–Isla was in Shopaholic and Now You See Me while Amy Adams bursts into songs in Enchanted.

There are these three actors I have to think hard before I could tell which movies they were in:


I’m sure *you* recognize then instantly (coz you’re not as +%>|+* as I am 😒)


The Baldwin brothers. I won’t even attempt to caption the photo I got from the interwebs (coz I can’t without cheating!)


How about these two? Bill Murray and Jim Belushi. 


When I asked DrG about my “condition”, he said he gets confused with these two (Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley). But, it’s acceptable, right? Because they were cast for this very reason in Star Wars. Knightley was Queen Amidala’s double.


Then there’s this! Do you recognize her? That’s just one person. I really could not tell 😬

Tell me I’m not alone! 

Maybe we should all just go around with name tags, no? Hahaha!

I WANNA BE A SUPERMOM

I have a household issue that has been bugging me for several months now.

You see, our four househelps are going on a vacation, all at the same time, come December 17.  Why are they leaving all at the same time, you may ask.  Well, because they’re all related to each other.  A big no-no, I know. But that time I hired them, I was heavily pregnant with my third, and that was my only option. I assumed that they would all have to leave for vacations at the same time (I was right), but that they would have a bit of malasakit to leave kahit two lang behind to help me out (wrong, wrong, wrong).  They did it last summer, and they’ll do it again this Christmas.  They go on vacay, while I go insane.

BUT, I have a back up plan.  Plan B is to ask my mom to send over someone from her household to, you know, save her daughter from insanity. Like how we did it last summer, when she sent two.  But one had to go home immediately because, uh.. she needed to make sure my mom’s dogs are doing well.  So she upped and left, and left me with a newbie. Let’s save that story for a different post.

What is plan A?

Plan A is for me to savor this (house)helpless time with the kids – to enjoy every second of the chaos and the mess, to bond with them over nonstop Sofia the First marathons or Full House episodes, and to answer their never ending questions about life and religion and who is the more loveable child. And I plan to do this – alone.

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Look at her.  Doesn’t she look dazed and confused? Probably how I will look like in about three weeks. Yes, I will be cleaning our house in a Sofia the First costume.  

Can you see it happening? I can!

And I’m terrified.

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And I don’t know what is going on and why my logical reasoning isn’t working.  But this is the plan I’m leaning towards.  A big part of me wants to maybe prove to myself that I can do this – I’m a SUPERMOM.  The other part is in denial.  When I try to bring it down to reality, it feeds me with visions of myself cooking dinner while my eldest plays with the baby,and the middle one quietly engrossed with some artwork or book. With a catchy Christmas song going on at the background. For two weeks. This is the same part that thought the ates will have malasakit for me and leave two behind.  Medyo slow ang learning curve ko eh. 

So, wish me luck! And keep me sane by sharing your horror stories of your househelp issues. Just so I’d feel better that I went with plan A instead of the convenient plan B.