REDEFINING BUFFET: Manila Pavilion’s Palate

rsz_1mbp_pinkSEASONS, Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino’s lifestyle restaurant re-launches a vast wide array of buffet spread welcoming the holiday season. Celebrating its first holiday dinner for Php 999 every Friday and Satruday, Italian Executive Chef Giovanni Sias reintroduces a new take on savoring eat-all-you-can.

“In Italy, everything is prepared and served fresh from the kitchen. Buffets are usually found intimidating and costly with the food laid out waiting to be indulged. With ours, you get a vast array of choices which is plreasant to your eye, made fresh by batches and refilled only when the demand asks for it.” Sias explains.

buffetTruth to Sias roots, Seasons’ is taking buffet into a different level where cooking is elevated to performance art using only the freshest and finest ingredients including micro-greens.

For the month of November, Season’s is taking us to a gastronomic tour of International buffet celebrating every nationality. A great value for money.

“We’ve got staples and a mix of what holidays the other nationalities have. We’re having Vegetable Samosa, Vegetable burgers, Chana Masala, Chicken Tikka; Kasmiri, Pullao and Curry to celebrate India’s Diwali (festival of lights), and some artisan gourmet cheeses, bacon, poutine and maple syrum for Canada’s remebrance day. We’re also having Turkey for the Thanksgiving weekend, and fresh hand-pulled noodles into perfection. We don’t forget the fun in devouring great food.” Sias added.

Enjoy the food festival buffet only at Season’s Lifestyle Restaurant located at the lobby floor of Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino, United Nations ave. Ermita, Manila from 6PM to 10:30PM on Friday’s and Saturday’s. Children under the age of 5 years old are free of charge.

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Excited to Watch Disney on Ice 2015 : Magical Ice Festival at the Big Dome

rsz_1mbp_pinkI have written in the past about our family Christmas traditions and by now you would have known that we do yearly family activities that include watching Disney on Ice Christmas with the kids and their cousins. Pretty soon, it is going to be Christmas season, and we are all excited to continue to build lasting memories as we all anticipate the return of an all time Filipino favorite – the annual staging of Disney On Ice at the Big Dome.

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There is much to look forward to in this year’s show. Aside from world-class skaters who make up its talented ensemble, this year’s Disney On Ice will be extra special because with Disney on Ice presents Magical Ice Festival featuring Disney’s Academy Award® winning and number one animated feature film of all time Frozen, along with three Disney royal adventures! Last year, the Big Dome was filled with small kids’ voices as they watch Disney characters on ice while singing along with all familiar Disney music from Cinderella, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and of course, their top favorite Tangled!

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It has also been a joy to sit with kids and engage with them while watching, highlighting the values one can get from Disney movies. Just like any other animated movies (including non-animated kids’ movies), this working mom believes and puts a premium on having the right conversations right after each movie experience. This allows me to drive and emphasize the valuable parts of the movie while having an opportunity to correct wrong behaviours observed on movies. It was a joy to encourage my daughter, Sofia to be as exuberant, joyful and optimistic like Cinderella on her saddest day. It was also an encouragement to see Princess Tiana who believed she can be the best she can be by achieving her dreams of owning her own restaurant. It was a display of faith and a display of excellent labor, values that we want our kids to take home.

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“This year’s Disney On Ice is truly magical with Disney properties that are packed with heart and personality. We have princesses that are exuberant and strong-willed, but we’ve also expanded the roles of spirited supporting characters, so that they’re more prominent in the show,” says Producer Nicole Feld.

D33_Minnie soloMy kids got more excited to know that for the first time on ice, they will see their favorite Disney stars Anna and Elsa, together with hilarious snowman Olaf, rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven in a magical winter adventure. My kids learned the importance of family with the tear-jerking scenes from “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” We all know that the true and unconditional love that saved Anna came from Elsa and not from Hans. And of course, who could have missed Olaf dreaming of enjoying summer? Just like Olaf, my kids can continue to believe God for bigger things and dream big, as big as impossible Olaf in summer!

D33_20120907_25934-EditAudiences will also enjoy comical segments with captivating stories of princesses Ariel, Rapunzel and Belle in a new twist of fairytale fun featuring Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Tangled, and Beauty and the Beast.

“By pulling together moments from classic Disney stories to the newest feature film sensation Frozen and combining them with elements of comedy and music, we developed a truly unique way to re-tell each fairytale,” says Producer Juliette Feld.

D33_20120907_01542-EditExcited to see the dazzling costume designs, spectacular set elements, and jaw-dropping stunts are also what make this year’s show even more exhilarating. Previous shows were a big hit with my kids with a singing Sebastian, Wendy and Peter Pan flying, and the countless Tangled floating lanterns! It gave me chills to hear all the kids singing “I see the Light” when the lanterns came out.

In Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest,” the theatrical elements of the glitzy napkins and silverware costumes will astound audiences. “The costumes are designed to emphasize the overwhelming amount of table décor that appears in the movie. The napkins unfold to increase their size and the forks tower over the heads of the performers. This is a big moment for Belle; the costumes need to reflect that,” says Costume Designer Cynthia Nordstrom.

D33_20120907_00180-Edit-PRMoreover, lighting plays a crucial role in giving the overall production a truly magical feel. “The colors really pull you into the different worlds of the princesses, but it’s how the lights are arranged that command your attention when the characters are performing their acts. For example, when the Daughters of Triton are introduced, the lighting individually highlights each of them. Your eyes follow the spotlights,” says Lighting Designer Sam Doty.

Experience Magical Ice Festival at the Big Dome from December 25 to January 3 and don’t miss the chance to see your favorite Disney stars LIVE! Buy your tickets via TicketNet online or call 911-5555 for more details.

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Wee Nam Kee : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkMy Hainanese Chicken destination restaurant has been different, but for this food experience, we opted to try Wee Nam Kee whose bestsellers include Hainanese Chicken. This restaurant has all the traditional Chinese resto feel and surroundings. It may be missing the lazy suzan on round tables and the speakers may be playing mainstream pop music, but the food will remind you what an authentic Chinese restaurant is all about. Don’t get confused if you have associated Hainanese with other Asian countries, that’s because Hainanese which has been derived from Hainan China can almost always be ordered from other Asian countries. As if this is not confusing enough, Singapore has Hainanese chicken as its national dish, it is like our very own Adobo in the Philippines.

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20151117_12030820151117_11595820151117_115944So what is Hainanese Chicken?  At Wee Nam Kee, you have an option to go with steamed or fried chicken served with rice, chicken bone stock and specially flavoured Hainan chicken sauce. Not known to many, you can actually ask for an extra bowl of Hainan chicken sauce everytime you order Hainanese chicken.

Another must-try is Crispy Mantou Bread with Condensed Milk. Ever look back to using condensed milk as bread spread? This is the real deal, yummy bread dipped in condensed milk. On your next visit, you can go and add in Curry Noodles. It is curry with all the right flavours.

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Serenitea : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkFood spots have always had stories and relevance with my relationships and friendships. Serenitea has been a constant food spot with my work friends. If you are a milk-tea lover like me, I am sure you have gotten creative with adding milk tea concoctions over the most sumptuous and delish food. Long before I have discovered wintermelon milk tea with Yakult, mine has always been classic wintermelon milk tea. These milk tea always come with pearls, but I usually order it with full sugar, and with nata de coco add-ons. Also, I never take my milk tea with a lid, I like it machine-sealed. That way, part of the milk tea experience is putting my hand on the Jumbo glass and shaking it well before I sip. I know that milk tea has received bad rap because of bad news but milk tea has never ceased to satisfy my cravings.

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Over catch up conversations, it is common to see us gulping down peppered tofu or pepper corn. Just go easy on chilli and if you are sharing with friends, make sure you set aside your portion because their chilli can give quite a punch. If you are ready for heavier dish, you can go for chicken chops. Just be conscious of what you are taking in, it is served with sticks you can use to eat, helping yourself to it becomes so easy, you can lose track of the amount of food you take in.

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Snitz : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkChristmas traffic has definitely hit Manila (and Quezon City). I had to experience it over the last weekend. Batangas to Manila which usually just takes 3 hours at the most became a 10-hour ride. In fact, while in transit, we were able to watch a total of three movies (No Escape, AntMan and MazeRunner2)! Yep, traffic was that bad and the wait was that long. It didn’t help that the big malls in Fairview were on sale and two out of three big malls were scheduled for their first fireworks display. It was snail-pace traffic again from Commonwealth all the way to Fairview. And so as soon as I landed in Fairview, I had to head to a spot with food, Snitz, Ayala Fairview Terraces.

I didn’t realize that Snitz is originally found in London, there was nothing about the food that suggested it was from London. We went for what seemed like filling because our feet were so tired from walking around the mall looking for the perfect PE shoes for my boys. We opted to have chicken schnitzel with different sauces, honey lemon, tartar sauce and chinese sweet and sour sauce. Unfortunately, none of it was a hit to our taste bud, we opted to go for the chicken minus the sauce.

20151114_183140 20151114_184944 20151114_183212 20151114_183148Overall, it was not an over-the-top food experience and if the other restos are full to the brim like last Saturday, will probably still go to Snitz again to eat.

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An Elementary School in Bulacan only has Five Classrooms

 

rsz_1mbp_pinkAs part of our Christmas traditions, we visited last year an elementary school for a Christmas gift-giving day. Banahaw Elementary School is a public school that has students in grades first through sixth in Norzagaray, Bulacan of Central Luzon (Region III). The school has 5 instructional rooms and 1 non-instructional rooms. Sadfully, none of the rooms has a dependable supply of electricity. With 138 students last year, class size is around 28 students. Lorie Floresca is principal of the school.

banahaw4It was more of a prayerful preparation we did, other than sourcing sponsors and connecting with people who would like to help. Our goal when we visited was to share about who God is and His blessings.

banahaw1It was so encouraging to see kids of all ages, parents and teachers have smiles on their faces when we staged a midget dance. It seemed such a simple dance number but to the eyes of the kids, it felt like they were watching the most beautiful kiddie show there is. We thank God for their positive outlook and great faith in a God who can answer their prayers. Kids from this school, when asked, dream of finishing their studies and helping their respective families.

Getting there was not actually easy. This makes it difficult for any other group to up the Norzagaray mountains and visit this school for any outreach activity. The way up means taking rough roads, be ready to catch all the dust your pores can handle. We armed ourselves with towelettes on our heads and faces as we went up. The climb up was steep, the jeepney had to slow down on some rough road patches or to wait for its turn on single lane rough roads. It is usual to see students in school without slippers, walking or taking horses to and from school.

We bought a Jesus cake and led everyone into prayer and singing the happy birthday song to Jesus. It was not a surprise to hear some of the kids say that it was their first time ever to have tasted a cake. They were all too happy to receive new pair of slippers, fruits, drinks, hygiene kits and toys.

If you have the heart to help Banawe Elementary school students this year, Team Deborah is prayerfully seeking help to prepare slippers, fruits, drinks, hygiene kits, toys, cakes/cupcakes, teachers’ gifts (pictured above) or any other items you would like to donate in time for December 17 visit. May God continue to be Your Rewarder as you seek ways to share your blessings this season.

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Dekada : OpenRice.Com Review

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If you are driving towards Ayala Fairview Terraces, the first thing you see are the bright lit wall of Dekada restaurant. If you are on the lookout for a quiet nook, it has its own walkway and not too much foot traffic around it. It is also connected to Wellworth ground floor and offers additional quiet space if you want to dine al fresco. Dekada offers a meryenda buffet served daily from 2pm to 6pm for only Php200.00, yep, it is eat-all-you-can for all your favourite Pinoy meryenda specialties.

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It is when you are starting to feel the Christmassy cold afternoons and I just went straight to the buffet table and had a big serving of arroz caldo with hard boiled egg. It was so tasty, I didn’t need to put any condiment on it. It may be a weird combination but I followed it with traditional pansit. Would have loved it warmer, nevertheless, I super enjoyed it I finished off the entire plate over tastier conversation with friends.

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Remembering Manila days when one can step out of the house and have your pick from a long list of meryenda options. This list always includes turon. Interestingly, I paired it with palitaw with a generous amount of sugar. Not a big fan of niyog, so I helped myself to sugar instead. They also serve brown or muscovado sugar.

20151110_162228 20151110_152923(0) 20151110_152931Then you can move on to their dinuguan and puto. Just take the time to scoop not too many pork bits. Other varieties on the table? There is their ginataang mais and halo halo.

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Marriott Garden Cafe : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkThe first thing that greets you at Marriott’s Hotel’s breakfast resto Garden Cafe is their varied options for food. I am always thankful for free breakfast from hotel bookings. For sure, Marriott hotel will not be known as the preferred hotel from visitors around the world for nothing. Nearest to the entrance is their salad station, with various greens and toppings to choose from. They also have mixed toppings ready with flavoured sauce.

20151125_154637As soon as you walk in, servers ask for your preferred spot, sit you, and asks you a series of questions anytime they feel you need anything (not in an annoying, bothersome way). So we chose a spot that is quiet and asked for coffee. Tables are automatically served with a good amount of milk. Since the Garden cafe is on the same floor as the lobby/reception, whatever music you have from it is shared with the cafe’s. There was Thanksgiving night with a twist, because the Pinoy choir from the lobby sang right next to the gigantic Christmas tree. It is thanksgiving added with a Pinoy flavour.

20151126_06174720151126_06125920151126_06224420151125_151502marriott2marriott1For our breakfast, I went for the safe fare of crispy bacon, rice, and ham. All my meat favourite dishes are also served on heat, keeping it fresh and refilled until breakfast ends at 10am.

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My Belkin Wishlist

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Have you ever imagined your mommy-life without your usual mommy-wonder-tools? I remember listing my fool-proof tipid tips for the ‘ber’ months using items/resources that are around us. There are just so many things that I regard as life hacks  and I have decided to list all of them that (I definitely think) will make my mommy-life easier. Feel free to share with me one thing you cannot do without as you play your role at home, at work or even in school!

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Bringing my work laptop to the office can be bone-breaking without the right bag. I find myself bringing a big bag for the laptop and other work gadgets plus a small bag to keep my personal stuff. Imagine if I have Belkin New Slim 15.6” Red Backpack, with its padded and adjustable straps, I can go to site assignments with a breeze while carrying this bag on relaxed dress-down days. It also has compartments that can fit the other wires and stuff I have to bring daily. This was how a couple of my chargers stopped working. With all of the wires meshed with each other in my big bag, it is a matter of time before I realize that I need to have a new charger to use.

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Speaking of chargers, you will appreciate Belkin’s Dual Swivel charger, you can use it to charge two devices at the same time. So now we won’t have to take turns with our charger at home. The best news is the fact that this charger works and compatible with any Apple device.

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Another house tool we always take for granted are the power surge protectors which most Pinoys would call power extensions. Belkin’s 4-socket surge protectors can give you additional sockets you can use, what with all the Christmas lights and lamps you will need to set up this December, this comes handy.

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Headsets I use when I need to get on an audio material at my own time. These are on times when I can just sit and listen to podcasts, songs and even Youtube mommy-friendly movies. This can work best with Belkin’s Pure headphones. It even comes with a bonus, built in microphone and multi-function remote. Mobile audio video content experience can be better with this one.

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Our family is never big on gadgets. Most of the gadgets we now have were all gifts or hand-me-downs from angels around us. We certainly believe in investing on not-so-expensive but quality items you frequently use and part of it is making sure you keep items in tip-top shape. Frugal mommies like me will agree with Belkin’s Anti-Smudge Screen Protector for iPad Mini, this resists fingertips, especially true if you use your tab for recipes in the kitchen or for kids’ smudgy fingers when they are on educational digital games.

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This completes my Christmas life hacks wishlist. So, what is on your list?

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Telstra in the Philippines. The Real Deal.

rsz_1mbp_pinkChanced upon an FB page named Telstra Philippines and being a Telstra employee, this post definitely confirms that Telstra Philippines FB page is a scam and a fraudulent page (ridiculously offering free pre-paid kits). Be warned and think before you click. Telstra is an Australian Telco which partnered with three biggest BPOs here in the Philippines for offshore support needs. Thanking God for allowing me to be a Telstra hire and supporting contact centers on a daily basis. Working day-shift allows employees to work normal hours and strike a balance with family, hobbies, friendships, blogging and more! Other than this, I am happy for being a part of a socially-responsible company. It did not only offer job opportunities for the Philippines but it also provides support and assistance to the communities around them. And so, Telstra Foundation Philippines with the strong leadership of Teleperformance held Telstra Foundation Brigada Eskwela at Maligaya High School, right beside Ayala Fairview Terraces Teleperformance site. This public high school has a 3000 strong student population and as soon as I met my partner for the day, senior student Margarita, I know I will come out of this outreach activity encouraged more than I did to them.

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Most of the students come from families within or below poverty threshold and mostly come from a family of 6. It sounded like a simple activity for the day, to paint chairs and cover books but imagine the amount of chairs and books that will support all 3000 students day on day. It was encouraging to be welcomed by their student leader onset of the day and the rest of the interactions with the students tugged at everyone’s heart. In between painting the chairs, most meaningful for me was getting to know my partner student and finding ways to support her in any way. I am not new to the Maligaya community as our spiritual family, Victory Novaliches has always been covering Maligaya community through prayers and previous outreaches (gift giving, medical missions and community-based Victory groups). To see this school flourishing and growing as more and more people help them with their needs is surely an encouraging sight to see.

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It is our prayer that there will be more and more groups who will continue to support and empower Maligaya kids to share the vision and the responsibility of excellence and success.

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