Monday, November 28, 2011

Manila Heritage Tour Thru Postage Stamps

I've been wanting to join the free Postal Heritage Tour offered by the Filipinas Stamp Collectors' Club (FSCC), represented by their passionate Vice-President Lawrence Chan. So when an opportunity arose to join their free tours every third Sunday of the month, I sent an email to Lawrence ( to sign up for his tour on 20 Nov. 2011.

I arrived at the fountain area of Liwasang Bonifacio by 12:15 pm, quite early from the scheduled 12:30-1:00 pm assembly time. Still tired from participating in the 10k run for Pasig River at MOA earlier that day, I wondered if I made the right decision to continue with the tour.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Emperor Spa in Binondo, Manila

With a full stomach yet tired and aching legs from previous day’s mountain climb, I continued on my walking tour of Binondo. This time, I was in the hunt for an inexpensive yet good massage. A helpful pedicab driver referred me to Emperor Spa along Soler Street, not far from 168 mall where Wife is doing some Christmas shopping.

Arriving at past 11:00 am in the spa, I was able to avail their early bird 20% discount from their regular Php 500 massage fee. If getting the services of their foreign expert (Chinese masseuse), I think the massage fee is Php 650. The lady at the counter gave me a key for my assigned locker, and instructed a staff to show me their locker and communal shower room at the second floor.
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Climbing Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas

The following Saturday after we went to Mt. Maculot, we climbed Mt. Batulao to satisfy our thirst for mountain adventure. Sometimes I can't help but think that mountaineers are crazy masochists, spending time and money to push their bodies to their limit, just to see those great views from the top.

We started our adventure by driving to Evercrest Golf Club in Nasugbu, Batangas, picking up some of our companions along the way. After a quick breakfast in Jollibee, and a load of beverages from 7-11 store both in Tagaytay, we were all ready for another gruelling trek. 
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Ang Tunay Beef House in Binondo

Part of my walking tour of Binondo is trying the old yet popular restaurants in the area. So when I felt like I could use some snack food later that Sunday morning, I went into a hunt for good old Binondo restaurants. I passed the Eng Bee Tim restaurant, but I’ve already tried dining on this fastfood-type Chinese restaurant. I saw some new and old-looking restaurants, but I avoided them after I saw their empty tables.

The old-looking restaurant I saw with many Chinese patrons at past 10:00 am is Ang Tunay Beef House along Gandara Street. Judging by the number of customers they have at this lean hour, they must be very good, so I entered the restaurant. On the right wall, I saw a framed old newspaper clipping of the restaurant’s review, which reinforced my big expectation from the restaurant.
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Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo

One of the iconic churches in Manila is the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila. I usually pass it whenever I find myself in Ongpin St., but failed to enter it. Last Sunday after dropping my wife at 168 Mall for some Christmas shopping, I decided to a mini walking tour of Binondo district, starting with its church.

The original Binondo Church was constructed last 1596, but was destroyed during the Chinese revolt in 1603. Rebuilt in 1614 and named Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, it is where the first Filipino saint Lorenzo Ruiz served as sacristan, whom the church is now officially named.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Climbing Mt. Maculot's Rockies in Batangas

I like to keep myself fit, but I don't like to go to the gym, nor do I want to do running despite its popularity now. At the same time, I want to explore new places and experience nature, so trekking in a mountain is the best option for me. Its quite an expensive hobby (transportation, gears, and trek guides), but life is short so we just have to enjoy it, right?

So when I saw a mountain climbing tour schedule at Travel Adventours' website, I booked a tour with them for a Saturday climb, while I'm free from teaching this semestral break. I chose Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas (See photo above, where the left peak is its rockies). 

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sensations Spa in Pulilan, Bulacan

I dropped my wife at SM Baliwag last Monday to meet her high school batchmates. While waiting for her and the rest of our group on their shopping, I decided to get a relaxing massage. I've thought about the spa in the NE supermarket compound nearby, but I remember their rates to be quite expensive. So I decided to try the Sensations Spa in Pulilan, beside the Max's Restaurant near the highway's major intersection. Taking a 12-minute jeepney ride to the site, I left the car at SM's parking lot, where parking space is a prime commodity on a weekend.

The spa is located on the second floor of a 2-storey building, where the first floor is obviously having renovations. The entrance is at the back, and I have to go around the balcony to see their entrance door facing the road. Upon opening the door, the comfortable lounge area above is a bit of a surprise, something I don't expect to a spa located in the area.
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Razon's Halo-Halo in Baliwag, Bulacan

Our latest experience on their halo-halo:

Last Sunday afternoon, 01 April 2012, we ordered 6 halo-halo in to-go cups on our way to Manila. I was disappointed to see and taste the observations below:
  1. The portion size is smaller now, less ice, banana, and milk on their mix.
  2. The shaved ice are bigger and coarser, not the powdery-ice they serve before.
When we asked the girl on the counter about our observations, she blamed the ice shaver, no apologies nor promise to fix the issues on our next visit.

My verdict? They just lost me and my family as a customer. We used to keep coming back to the place because of the quality of their halo-halo. Now their signature item have deteriorated in quality, not much difference with an ordinary halo-halo on roadside stalls. They should have just increased the selling price from Php 65, and I'll be happy to pay more due to inflation, but please don't cut back on quality.

I would only return to the place if I get first hand info that they revert back to the previous portion size and quality of ice.

My original (Nov. 2011) post below:

About half of the time whenever we visit my in-laws in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, we usually drop by the famous Halo-Halo of Razon's at their Baliwag branch. Its a small place with very basic furnitures and minimal decor or ambience, but perfect for a brief rest especially when driving in a hot weather.

Halo-halo is a Filipino food mixture of crushed ice, milk, leche flan (custard), ube jam, pinipig, and sweetened fruits (saba banana, jackfruit, beans, kaong, nata de coco, garbanzos, macapuno coconut strings, sweet potato, jelly, tapioca, etc.). Thais also have a similar version with additional herbs, judging from the taste of their halo-halo.
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A Live Soft Shell Turtle

Over the weekend at my in-laws' place in Bulacan, a nephew showed to me a turtle they caught in the nearby river. When I saw the amphibian animal, it seems similar to the turtles that are sold to Asian restaurants that has turtle on their menus.

The teenage boys that caught the turtle found the animal turned upside down along the bank of the river. It was very tired trying to get to its natural bearing but to no avail. I'm estimating its weight to be at least half a kilogram, with about a foot in length. Its carapace is more leathery than hard shell, and it has web feet, similar to ducks' feet.
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