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Showing posts from May, 2018

at Casa Manila

I have always wanted to explore Manila's colonial past beyond the usual visits to Fort Santiago and Luneta. So each time I get a chance to visit the oldest parts of the city, I try to make sure that I saw something new. 
This time around, Val and I toured Natasha, Dwaine, Veronica, and Melissa around Intramuros. Our first museum stop after lunch at Barbara's was Casa Manila. It's supposed to depict what life was like for the 19th century alta de sociedad. Rich families must have lived there because it's just across the cobblestoned streets from the San Agustin Church. Val's been to Intramuros before but he was so surprised that he hadn't encountered Barbara's til our visit.
What I noticed with this house was its eclectic aesthetic, particularly in the sala, living room. It blended Chinese artwork with Spanish architecture... an embodiment of fusion interior design, if I ever saw one. Somehow, it reminded me of the Chinese stylised clouds of Paoay Church (a…

visiting IRRI as a tourist

Val's friends, Natasha and Dwaine, flew to the Philippines for a vacation with Veronica and Melissa, their relatives. Val made a highly organised schedule for them, which I thought was very hectic. But the visitors assured us that they have enough energy to battle through jetlag and the energy-zapping humidity of the Philippines... after Day 1, however, Val and I started crossing off activities on the schedule because these proved to be too hectic for them. 
The one thing that we kept intact in the agenda was the visit to IRRI. Since Val had a meeting scheduled, I brought the visitors to the gene bank after Tita Maripi and Kuya Dehner brought them to the RiceWorld Museum. This was the first time that I had a guided tour of the gene bank facility, in all the 13+ years that I have been at IRRI. We learned about why a gene bank is important, what diversity can be found in rice grains, and how these rice varieties are prepared for long-term storage in the gene bank. We went to both t…

Val's surprise birthday party

Val always says that he doesn't celebrate birthdays. This year, we decided to change this... Actually, Nikos and I plotted to make sure that our weekly dinner was more special because Val's celebrating his birthday this week. Plus, he's been under a lot of pressure lately (with work requirements and with friends coming in from the US).
We went to Italianni's in Sta Rosa. Before excusing himself, Val told us we could order whatever we wanted. So while he disappeared to the loo, Nikos and I talked with the waiter to prepare our surprise birthday party. Hence, as we finished our mains, we told Val that we ordered dessert...
... and then, out came his birthday ice cream and the boisterous singing that Italianni's is known for giving celebrants. It looks like we succeeded in surprising Val. 
Happy birthday, Val!

dining at Gallery by Chele

A few months ago, I wanted to eat at Gallery Vask, only to find out that it was closed for renovation. Little did I know that Chele was actually revamping the Gallery dining experience. And as my days in Manila were winding down, I really wanted to eat there before I left. It was kind of him to arrange a table for me and my friends on opening night; in this particular dining experience, my group included Matty, Man, and Neil (all foodies with different perspectives on food appreciation).

Chele now calls the restaurant Gallery by Chele. And with the change in name came a change in concept. He now wants his clients to experience modern cuisine made with local ingredients. It sounds like a passion project done right. 

This new restaurant is more cozy and casual, perfect for relaxing dinners with friends. There's more wood and stone installations and the lighting allowed us to see the best angles of our food. Aside from this, we were told that some of the furniture were made by desig…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One. This has got to be the most dramatic of the Star Wars movie I've seen so far... in fact, the portrayals here were so good that I am under the opinion that it's downright better than the movies in the official trilogies! 
I only realised that Rogue One was not part of the canon when I started watching it. The characters, for instance, were all new to me.

The story basically revolved around the exploits of Jyn Erso, the daughter of a research scientist who was being pressured to finish the construction of a Death Star. The scientist and his wife were killed by the Imperial forces but Jyn escaped through the help of Saw Gerrera, a mentee of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. So far, only Ob-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker were familiar to me. However, these affiliations put the story in context: Emperor Palpatine was still ruling and the Rebellion must be out there somewhere.

Jyn ended up in a labour camp for some reason. She was eventually freed and then tasked by t…

The search for Shambala

On this year's edition of my annual road trip with my museum-hopping friends, we decided to do a reprise of last year's Silang adventure.

Ate Bing suggested that we try an Italian restaurant called Trattoria Mario Mio for lunch. It's a farm-to-table concept headed by Chef Paolo Nesi... the vegetable garden was literally around the restaurant! And the food... it was so delicious! I could come back here again and again without getting tired of the cuisine.

Syanang Syalen despedida for our Pilot :) unang stop, lunch here :) A post shared by Mary Ann Burac (@marianggala) on May 12, 2018 at 6:03pm PDT
After that scrumptious lunch, we headed off to a place we didn't get to visit last year (it was closed): Ilog ni Maria Honey Bee Farm. I was fully expecting to see honey bee hives scattered all over and flowers blooming everywhere but reality kicked in really fast.

I didn't see honeybees or a farm (as I imagined it), for that matter. Perhaps the bees and the farm were hid…

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

This is a movie that I have been waiting for for a long time! In preparation for watching Avengers: Infinity War, I took time over the weekend to watch all Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies that were available on Netflix. That meant "reviewing" the story arcs of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Before this, I also watched Doctor Strange and Black Panther in the cinema. I didn't even bother watching Guardians of the Galaxy because I thought it was disconnected... just like how Deadpool is independent of the Avengers narrative. So I went into SM San Pablo feeling prepared to watch Infinity War.
But I was wrong...
Though I was refreshed with the facts, I wasn't prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that was Infinity War. 
I realised that the movie takes off soon after Thor: Ragnarok and Captain America: Civil War. Thanos, the villain first seen in The Avengers (2012), was determined to collect all infinity stones for himself. He attacked what remained of As…

Yummy stopover at Matutina's

I went to Baguio with Mommy and Daddy a few weeks ago, during one of the hottest months in the Philippines. Mommy wanted to try Matutina's, a popular restaurant in Dagupan, Pangasinan. But we opted to drop by on our way back because I'm not confident driving up Marcos Highway at night. 
On our way back to Calamba, we had a lot of time to enjoy the food at Matutina's because Daddy insisted that I could easily drive downhill on Kennon Road during the daytime. We ate at the branch near the TPLEX exit in Urdaneta because it's just a short detour from our route back home.
Mommy was craving for Filipino food and Matutina's didn't disappoint. We ordered sinampalukang manok, pinakbet, kilawing talaba (oyster ceviche), and inihaw na bangus. 

The food was delicious! However, we ordered too much for three people. So we polished off the kilawin (it wouldn't keep on the way home) and the sinampalukan (I had to take a few bathroom breaks along the way). We brought with …