Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Family Celebration

My grandmother "Nanay" recently turned 88 and to celebrate, I took her along with my family to Prince Albert. I had eaten there before and I thought my family would also really enjoy the food in this restaurant. When I saw Deal Grocer vouchers for a pretty hefty meal for two at Prince Albert, I thought it would be as good a time as any for me to bring my family there.

Each voucher was for a four-course meal for two that included soup, salad, a prime rib main course, and dessert. It also included a drink (soda, fresh fruit juice, or iced tea) and coffee or tea. At 52% off, it was a pretty awesome deal!  We had two choices of salad; a few of us opted for the Arugula, Green Pear, Walnuts and Roquefort cheese salad. I initially ordered that but there was a mistake in the order-taking and I didn't want to waste the food so I ended up having the more-standard-but-still-good Caesar salad. For soup, there were also two choices but one of the options was unavailable that night so we all had the Forest Mushroom Soup.

Forest Mushroom Soup

I've blogged about the Prince Albert Prime Rib before and it didn't disappoint. Even the side dishes - Yorkshire pudding, baked potato with bacon bits and sour cream, and grilled vegetables - were a massive hit with everyone. For dessert, we had a couple of options: Crepe Samurai and Pistachio Lime Cream Financier. The crepe was available that night but the financier wasn't. Our waiter told us we could instead have the Raspberry Meringue Tart (I think that's what it was called). Half of us got the crepe and the other half got the pie. Both were really good, but I think I liked the Raspberry Meringue Pie a bit more. It also looked really beautiful!

Raspberry Meringue Tart

As we were finishing our dessert and coffee, the waiters turned the lights off in our area and started singing "Happy birthday". As they did, they brought in a beautiful cake! As it turned out, they gave this to us for free because it didn't appear in the bill afterwards. I thought it was really wonderful that they did this. Since we were all so full, the waiters said they would just pack it up for us so Nanay could bring it home with her.

Thank you, Prince Albert, for the free cake!

I'm really happy I was able to bring my family to Prince Albert. The food was amazing and we were all stuffed, the service was superb, and we got a free cake. My aunt and her family were also able to join us, making Nanay's 88th birthday celebration even more memorable.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

More ways to help the Nepal earthquake victims

As of this writing, the Nepal earthquake has taken more than 2300 lives.As if the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake yesterday wasn't enough, a massive 6.7 aftershock hit the country again earlier today. Rescue efforts continue and international aid continues to come in, although the damage to infrastructure has made it difficult for help to get to where it is needed.

For those who want to help, CNN shares a list of  ways that you can donate.

Here's the list of the different organizations that are working on relief efforts now but you can read this link to read more about each of these organizations.

Nepal Red Cross Society (donation link)
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (donation link)
AmeriCares (disaster relief fund)
CARE (donation page)
Catholic Relief Services
Concern Worldwide (online donation)
Direct Relief (online donation)
Global Giving (online donation)
Handicap International
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (online donation)
International Medical Corps (online donation)
Operation USA
Oxfam International (links to: US donation, Great Britain donation)
Save the Children
Samaritan's Purse
UNICEF (online donation)
The World Food Programme (online donation)
World Vision Nepal earthquake relief fund

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Earthquake hits Nepal

I just saw the very sad news on CNN. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake just hit Nepal earlier today. As of now, it has been confirmed that more than 1400 people were killed and several thousands have been injured by this disaster. There is massive destruction throughout the country and many historic monuments such as important temples and palaces have been greatly damaged if not reduced to rubble. The earthquake also caused a huge avalanche on Mt. Everest and many casualties have already been reported.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Nepal and everyone who has been affected by this catastrophe.

How to help:
International Federation of Red Cross: Donate to Nepal Earthquake Relief
Global Giving Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kimberly Nichole sings House of the Rising Sun on The Voice

I'm happy that I stumbled upon this performance while switching channels earlier today. Kimberly Nichole from Team Christina brings everyone to their feet with this smashing, soul-stirring performance of House of the Rising Sun.

video uploaded in youtube by The Voice

During the build-up to the performance, guest coach Reba McEntire commented that if Kimberly performs on stage the way she did during rehearsal, she would get everyone on their feet. I thought it was an exaggeration. As it turned out, it was not. She got a standing ovation and I had goosebumps. I'm interested to see how well she will do in The Voice. Would be awesome to see her go far and even win.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting there

Rafa Nadal lost in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo masters to nemesis Novak Djokovic.While it's disappointing - Rafa still hasn't had a good result this year in any of the big tournaments - there are a few positive things he can take away from this tournament. It's his first semifinal in a bit tournament that featured many of the top 10 players. He avenged his quarterfinal loss in last year's tournament to David Ferrer. And after dropping to 5th place in the ATP rankings, he climbs back up to 4th. I'm still hoping he gets close to top form in a month's time.

In the meantime, Novak Djokovic continues to rack up records. He recently passed Rafa in terms of number of weeks at #1 (he has now been at the top of the rankings for 143 weeks; Nadal stopped at 141 when Novak took over from him). And with his win in the final, he becomes the first person to win the first three masters tournaments of the year. He is now on a 17-match winning streak and has lost only two matches this year, winning 30. Novak looks to be head and shoulders above everyone else at this point in the tennis calendar so it will be interesting to see what he achieves the rest of this year.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

College reunion dinner

Talk about a blast from the past. One of my college friends, Dino, is in Manila and we decided to meet up over dinner. A few dozen of our college org mates were invited but while only about 8 of us made it, it was an incredible night of catching up. Probably half of the people in our dinner group I hadn't seen since college! After graduation, the only folks I got to see on a regular basis were people from my batch; I never really got to see my friends from other batches anymore.

Our dinner was Village Tavern in Bonifacio High Street and once we were all there, it was loud and fun and full of energy. We talked about what was going on in our lives  and we shared stories about the people we regularly get to see to those who haven't seen them in a while. Of course, a college reunion wouldn't be anywhere near complete without a trip down memory lane. We remembered the outings, the parties, the school events, and the crazy adventures back when we were still young. :)

We realized at some point that we were the only people left in Village Tavern so we had stayed there until closing. And why not? There was a lot to talk about it. As we said our goodbyes to each other, we thought it would be good for us to meet again at some point soon. Hopefully that does happen, and hopefully more of our college friends can also join us next time.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Celebration at Lemuria

This is a bit of a late post but a few weeks ago, my uncle and aunt, Tito Erwin and Tita Maritie. celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary at Lemuria.

I hadn't heard of this place before so I had to go online to figure out how to get there. It's a fine-dining restaurant and events venue that is perfect for relatively smaller gatherings; there were about 40 to 50 of us in our group. I'm not sure if this is one of those places that used to be someone's house that was later converted into a restaurant or a party venue but it does have a very warm and cozy ambience.

There are also a few rooms here so there can be a few dinners or celebrations going on at the same time. It also has a large open area that can probably serve as an open-air ballroom.

My mom and I got there a bit late and once we arrived, Tito Erwin was giving a welcome speech. Dinner was then served buffet-style and the food was pretty good. Afterwards, random people started giving speeches. In our table, we were discussing who would give a speech and I ended up volunteering. I kept my speech short and sweet but I talked about how Tita Maritie and Tito Erwin have been very important in helping our family get through tough times over the last few years and how they are blessed because they continue to bless others.

It was around 9:30 when the wedding anniversary celebration ended. Tito Erwin and Tita Maritie thanked everyone for coming and the wine glass we used during dinner also served as the party souvenir.

Of course, there was a lot of photo taking before we finally left. This was the last time I saw my grandmother Mama so I'm just thankful I got to spend quality time with her before she passed away. I'm also really happy that I got to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of Tita Maritie and Tito Erwin with them and with other members of our extended family. Congratulations to them and I look forward to their golden wedding anniversary in ten years.

5 Julieta Circle, Horseshoe Village, Quezon City
mobile: +63.927.428.4202
landline: +63.2.724.5211, +63.2.722.2185
Operating Hours:
Lunch by exclusive booking only; Dinner Tuesday-Sunday 6:00 pm-11:00 pm

Friday, April 10, 2015

Gerphil Flores gets the Golden Buzzer on Asia's Got Talent

What a wonderful way to make it through to the semifinals of the first-ever season of Asia's Got Talent. Gerphil Flores from the Philippines sings a flawless classical rendition of Speak Softly, Love (the theme from The Godfather). Not only does she get a stand ovation and a yes from all four judges, she also gets a Golden Buzzer from her idol, David Foster. Cool!

video uploaded in youtube by Asia's Got Talent

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Birthday dinner celebration

My friend Anna turned a year older a while back but as she's based abroad, we didn't get to celebrate until earlier this week when she was in Manila. We had dinner at Chef Jessie in Rockwell. I had never eaten here before and the set menu was very enticing - almost everyone else at our table ordered this - but when I saw that there were many cheese soufflé options in the menu, I decided to have one of them instead. I opted for the Bacon and Cheese Soufflé and oh wow it was so incredibly good! Anna told me that Chef Jessie used to be the chef of Le Soufflé and said I made a good choice. Brilliant! I also ordered the Aglio Olio pasta with Prawns and that was a quality dish as well. Lala couldn't finish all of her set menu so I ate all her leftover main course and dessert. While this restaurants is on the expensive side, the food is tremendously good!

It was the first time I saw the gang in a few months so there was of course a lot of catching up to do. I finally got to give my photobook gifts to my friends Michele and Joyce (Iona normally makes her own books - she finds it almost therapeutic and enjoyable - so I just give her vouchers as a gift). I also lent Joyce my DVD of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel since she recently watched the second one and enjoyed it she but didn't see this first one. I also gave Anna my spare commemorative P10 coin.

It was close to close to 11PM when we finally called it a night. I still owe Anna a proper birthday gift. I was supposed to make a photobook of her recent travels but she still hasn't been able to give me her photos. I think after seeing the other books I passed around that night, she feels a bit more compelled to put together her photos and send them to me. Happy birthday Anna and thanks for the wonderful dinner!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Rest in Peace, Mama

Last week, my grandmother on my dad's side, whom we affectionately call Mama, passed away at the great age of 91. She thankfully survived a few health scares over the last few years but she suffered a heart attack last weekend and when my cousin called me to tell me about it, the prognosis was grim. Apparently, the doctors were saying Mama could go at any time soon so I decided to pass by the next evening. (Thankfully, visitors were allowed in the ICU even late at night.) There were several of us there when I arrived and several more came after; I guess we were all expecting the worst and wanted to spend some time with Mama while she was still alive. Most of us started out talking to her and telling her that we love her. I also prayed with her. After a while, I wasn't sure what to talk about anymore so I started humming (I'm not good with lyrics so I figured I would just hum the tunes instead). I went on that way for a couple of hours and while I was there, I was noticing the figures on the monitor slowly dropping. I left at close to 2am and I was told when I woke up that Mama had already passed away early in the morning.

We laid her to rest on Good Friday and everyone in our Manila-based extended family and our family friends were there to say goodbye. As luck would have it, it was my cousin's birthday that day. So it was decided during the funeral that we would all head to my uncle's house afterwards to celebrate. After all, while we were all very sad, Mama did have a great life and we wanted to celebrate that as well.

The last time I got to spend time with Mama while she was conscious was a few weeks ago during my uncle and aunt's 40th wedding anniversary. I'm just glad that I got to see her in very joyful circumstances shortly before she passed away.

I'm also happy that in Mama's twilight years, I got to spend some quality time with her. There was her amazing 90th birthday and I will never forget the time I took her and Tito Raul to Aristocrat as a post-Christmas celebration. She had difficulty moving in her final years so it was not easy taking her to different places but whenever she was at a party, she always still had the energy to dance. :) Mama will definitely be missed.

Eternal rest, grant unto Prudencia Pobre, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen.