Friday, January 22, 2016

Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT)

I recently went to Shangrila Mall in Shaw Boulevard and to escape the notorious and horrendous traffic, I opted to take the Metro Rail Transit ("MRT) at its North Avenue Station. It was a Saturday and I know that traffic in EDSA (Metro Manila's main thoroughfare) is heavy. Well, given the present traffic situation in Metro Manila everyday is like going through a stop and go situation where there is more of the former than the latter.  Despite every and other known, opinion based or supposed scientific solution to the traffic situation the problem still exists and persists.  I even heard that if the traffic situation in Metro Manila if not given the appropriate solution, the city may become uninhabitable.

Happy and thankful to survive and finally reaching their destination
I purchased a ticket for a one way destination to Shaw Station. What I noticed in the ticket is that (thankfully) it no longer bear the face of politicians or government officials. The ticket is of simple design without much fun fare as what these types of tickets should be. Luckily, I have not experienced that dreaded long queue of passengers. Again, it was a Saturday. And maybe  because it's a Saturday, the very long line of passengers was not there. I was able to purchase my ticket in less than a minute.  Usually, even during weekends, the very long line of passengers is the first great hurdle that you have to overcome in riding the MRT.

I simply tapped the ticket at the entrance where the machine is provided to validate the ticket. I headed to the yellow lines  and waited for the train to arrive. After surviving the long lines, the next obstacle in riding the MRT, as I have experienced it before, is getting squeezed inside due to a great number of people.  With a throng of people, the battle for for oxygen supply inside the train  becomes a mean to survive until the next station.  You also got to be careful of pickpockets and people who maliciously takes advantage of the situation. I was relieved that somehow during my MRT ride, it was less crowded and though I have not been able to get a seat, at least, the crowd inside the train is domesticated enough for a comfortable ride. 

What my experience shows is that while generally riding the MRT nowadays is very inconvenient and comparable to a "survivor series". However, there can come a time when your train ride can be smooth and hassle free. For this somewhat miraculous event to happen, I suggest riding the MRT during non rush hours which is from 10 am until 2 in the afternoon. But of course, you can only do this if you got the luxury time or the flexibility of schedule. 

The MRT is a cheaper and faster mode of transportation for commuters living the daily grind of EDSA . It is a viewed as a wonderful alternative or solution to the worsening traffic in Metro Manila. With the increasing number of commuters coupled with the prevalence of train mishaps, riding the jam packed MRT makes a lot of us think twice. But if we are on a rush, the MRT is undeniably a  better alternative to our car or taking the bus or taxi. 

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Capitol Commons (Ortigas, Pasig City)

Capitol Commons 
Meralco Avenue
Corner Shaw Boulevard
Ortigas, Pasig City

While staying at nearby Privato Hotel, we walked to Capitol Commons in Pasig City. It took us a few minutes from the hotel to reach the area. After crossing the street and passing by the Ynares Center, we were greeted by the sign that says we have reached a several restaurants  that offer a delicious dining experience.  If you would like to enjoy fine dining or simply try something different, Capitol Commons is a good alternative. If  you would simply like to stop for coffee, there is Starbucks. All these great restaurants are located at Capitol Commons' Gastro Strip.

We continued to walk along the area. It is like walking in a park similar to Bonifacio High Street. There were beautiful and cute dogs being walked by their owners. We saw a Chihuahua  and other toy breeds. It was such a lovely sight to see these dogs being walked by their owners  and we missed walking our dogs in  High Street.  Walking with your dog creates that kind of bond with your pet that somehow makes you both closer with one another. It is also a very relaxing experience. But wherever you are, never forget to pick up after your pet.

We seated ourselves at the bench, took some time and observed the surroundings. The area is  clean and there were guards roaming around to ensure security of the area. It was afternoon and we saw some joggers. This park at Capitol Commons is indeed ideal for  a quick afternoon stroll, jogging and walking your pet dogs. It is clean and secure.

Across the bench from where we were seated is Estancia Mall. A mall that fits the high end mixed development at Capitol Commons. After a treat at the restaurants at the Gastro Strip,   you can immediately head to this mall and check out various imported brands of clothes and shoes. If after shopping you get hungry, Estancia Mall  has several restaurants too for you to choose from.

Capitol Commons is still undergoing development. We saw that a condominium is still being built and there are other on going development in the area.  Given its location of being strategically situated in Pasig City, getting a unit at this condominium can bring tons of convenience. Everything is all here and anything you may need is just a few blocks away.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Privato Hotel (Shaw, Pasig City)

Privato Hotel
706 Shaw Boulevard
Pasig, Metro Manila
(632) 7175888/ 0998866952

It's roof deck gives a very spectacular and unimpeded view of Makati, Ortigas and the Fort Bonifacio Skyline. At night, the amazing symphony of lights from establishments and houses provides such a very relaxing ambience. I intend to go back to enjoy again this view. I really cannot explain it, but having a view from the top gives that kind of feeling as if you own everything as far as your eyes can see.  A feeling where there are no boundaries means freedom from anything coupled with the absolute imagination and relaxation while enjoying drinks and the food at the Verona Rooftop Lounge on the 23rd floor. This bar serves mostly international cuisines from 11 in the morning until 12 Midnight.

Have I mentioned that the swimming pool is also located at the roof deck?  As I looked at the pool, I recall our previous stay at the Azumi Boutique Hotel in Alabang. Both hotels have their swimming pool at the roof deck. However, Azumi's swimming pool has an unobstructed view.

Privato Hotel struck us to be simple and unassuming yet of very relaxing ambience.  It's lobby of mostly white with black paint immediately convey the idea that this a good place for a temporary escape from the stressful corporate and personal life.  The floor tiles of similar accent blend perfectly to a very welcoming tone. It is not spacious compared to other hotels but this hotel is indeed relatively "new".  Of course, the accommodating reception is something you can expect and makes each guest feels welcome.

We were billeted on the 19th floor. The room described as "executive" is smaller as what I have expected. It is however clean and comfortable enough for a good night sleep. The comfort room is equipped with a bidet but without a bath tub with the usual soap, shampoo, a dental kit, hot and cold shower and towels. The color theme for the whole room is black or gray and white. I think this idea of having such colors is something to consider if you want your room to look clean and simple. There is a split type air conditioning, a ref and a flat screen, all designed for a convenient stay. The wifi is likewise very reliable.

One advantage of staying at Privato Hotel is the fact that is just walking distance from Capitol Commons - a place where you can find the best restaurants in Pasig City. It is where the high end Estancia Mall is also located. If you stay in this hotel, it means an opportunity to shop or simply just stop and sit by at Capitol Commons and see dog owners with their dogs just like in Bonifacio High Street. 

If you really like shopping, it may be good to know that this hotel is just one ride away to huge malls such as Shangrila and SM Megamall. Location is one good reason of staying at this hotel. It is conveniently located somewhere beyond traffic laden EDSA and yet near enough for a quick visit to these gigantic malls.

The buffet breakfast at its price is reasonable but do not expect something extraordinary on the menu. Breakfast is from the customary 6 to 10 in the morning at its Piazza Privato located at the 6th Floor. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Balinsasayaw Restaurant (Silang, Cavite)

After surviving the traffic in Tagaytay, we took the route home passing through Silang, Cavite rather than the expressway to escape the traffic and probably save on toll fees.  It was the first day of the year and I guess everyone has the same idea of spending this special day in Tagaytay. Honestly, traffic was very heavy during this time. Coupled with the rain (that seemed to blend with the stop and go traffic causing zero visibility for a time), we knew that it might not be right time to visit Tagaytay.

After the sign that says “entrance to Ilog Maria”, we continued driving for a few minutes and we saw the sign of Balinsasayaw Restaurant. I have already read something good about this restaurant and I think it is worth a try. We were already hungry. We have already passed by several fast food chains. But, when you are in Tagaytay, eating in the same fast food restaurant is not what on our mind at the moment.

Entrance to this restaurant is besides a Robinsons Mall. There is a comfortable parking space with someone offering assistance as you park your vehicle. It was raining at that time and we appreciated that the restaurant has its umbrellas for customer use. The yellow colored umbrellas of enough size proved handy during the unpredictable weather.

The restaurant has a very relaxing ambience as guests get to eat in separate huts amidst a luscious garden of sorts (except that one hut that overlooks the mall's parking lot). There are greens, flowers, and other species of plants surrounding the whole restaurant. All neatly arranged and taken cared of. If you want to have a more private dining experience, this restaurant is a good choice. The nipa huts, though well maintained, show that the place is definitely not new. I think Balinsasayaw Restaurant has been serving satisfied customers for years.  We noticed several cars at the parking lot and almost all the huts were full of guests.

Food in this restaurant is reasonably priced, mostly Filipino and other Asian cuisines prepared and served within minutes.  The service is commendable given the number of customers at that time. If you need something, just ring the bell provided at each hut.

There is a store near the restaurant that sells some souvenirs and food items from Good Shepherd. If you missed the delicious ube jam and other delicacies sold at Good Shepherd Sisters you can buy it here at their store.

Friday, December 11, 2015

What is Tempered Glass?

Whether or not to get  a piece of furniture made of wood or that made of "tempered glass" depends on a lot of factors...  

There are different kinds of furniture in the market today, of different designs and of different materials. The price, quality, and durability of these pieces of furniture are, of course, highly dependent on the materials to be used. If the materials used are of high  quality, chances are the furniture would command a higher price. 

After going around malls, I have noticed that aside from wood, tempered glass is now a common material for  different kind of tables. Instead of the ordinary glass for a center table, the glass is now labeled as made of "tempered glass". What exactly is this kind of glass?  After a simple search on the  Internet, I was able to gather a few information about "tempered glass".  It is said that this type of glass is more durable than ordinary glass. It is further described as a "toughened" or a form of "safety"  glass. It breaks differently from ordinary glass since instead of pointed edges, rounded edges result from its breakage. During its manufacturing, tempered glass undergoes a "controlled thermal or "chemical treatment" intended to increase its durability compared to an ordinary glass. 

In other words, durability and safety are the main advantages of a piece of furniture made of tempered glass. If we compare a table made of this glass and that made of wood, the former looks "classier" and durable with its steel frames. It can also be said that using tempered glass as opposed to wood is more environment friendly. There is also no significant difference in the price between a table made mostly of wood and that made of tempered glass and steel. 

Many would not hesitate to shell out more cash for a more durable piece of furniture such as  a sofa, cabinet or a dining table. Buying a furniture for your home is an investment. There must be enough planning on the type or size of the furniture to  bought. Lots of thinking and planning has to be done to ensure that the piece of furniture you buy is worth the money and effort. It is also not easy to dispose a piece of furniture. Thus, impulse buying should be avoided when buying your sofa or cabinet.

With a great number of considerations in buying a furniture, the choice of material is crucial. Aside from wood, tempered glass is a very good alternative. Instead of using wood as table top, why not try tempered glass? It is much easier to clean than wood.

Anyway, tempered glass is now being used as screen protector for cellphones and other gadgets in lieu of plastic.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Banoffee Pie (Banapple Restaurant)

When was the last time you tried a "Banoffee Pie"? I have tried this dessert several times and I think you should try it too. It is not so sweet and the banana somehow cures the aftertaste of its heavenly sweetness. It is perfectly blended with cream, caramel, biscuit base and sprinkled with chocolate bits on top.

Banoffee Pie 
For weight watchers, this pie is indeed a spoiler. I mean who can resist such a creation? There can be a difficult tug of war in your mind on whether or not indulging in something as tasteful and heavenly can actually ruin your weeks or months worth of dieting. Efforts in keeping in shape cannot be affected by one pie, right?  Well, then indulge! It is not often that you taste a pie like this. As a friendly warning however, everything including this pie should be taken in moderation. 

If for whatever reason, logical or otherwise, pies and cheesecakes are not your craving at the moment, you can try various salads and other great foods at Banapple. As you see, Banoffee Pie is just one of the signature confections of Banapple Restaurant. 

Asian Sunshine Salad (greens, cucumber sticks, crabstick shreds,
mandarin orange, crispy wonton skins and honey-sesame dressings
At first sight, Banapple catches attention with its combination of pink and white painted walls, high ceiling and simple decors. The restaurant is clean with its own distinct feel compared to other restaurants and has an ambience that seems to cater  more to a youthful crowd that is friendly and service oriented. It can be likened to a small cafe where almost everyone are your friends or neighbors. 

Banapple is slowly getting a large following. I have already visited their branches at the Fairview Terraces, Katipunan 1, Market Market, SM North Sky Garden, and Tuscany, McKinley Hill. Lately, I have noticed that it is becoming more often that I have to wait a number before getting seated. Perhaps, it's very cozy, homey and friendly atmosphere has already caught the attention of many. It's pies, cheesecakes, desserts, salads and other great tasting menus can really satisfy everyone's craving. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Tarragon Plant and its Benefits

Have you tried "tarragon tea"?  I recently bought this herb (also known as "dragon wort" in some countries) at the the Quezon City Memorial Circle where you can also buy plants and other garden supplies. According to the seller, this herb can provide several health benefits and can be used for medicinal purposes.

What the seller has said is not actually a new. I have been hearing a lot about the various benefits of this herb and how it can add flavor to several culinary dishes. I did not hesitate to get a few of this and immediately planted it. This plant, at first impression, appears to be a common looking herb with small, long and light green leaves with pointed ends. It blended perfectly in the pot and I placed it in a partially sun exposed part of the garden.

As I looked at the tarragon plant and thinking about the various health benefits it can give, I was reminded of the importance of taking care of our health. Sometimes with our very busy schedule, we often take our health for granted. We forget to monitor what we eat and we do not exercise. After a few years, the stress takes a toll on our bodies. We get sick and then we spend a lot to nurse ourselves back to health.

Health is wealth! It is something that we need to treasure. We got to take care of our body and avoid various diseases in order for us to continue traveling, playing chess or doing anything we really want to do in our life.

Of course, the tarragon plant is not a panacea to our sickness or an instant road to good health. But somehow, this shrub including the bee pollen can give us the inspiration to take care of ourselves.

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