Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kalye Juan

I've been in this resto for a number of times and there are good reasons why Kalye Juan sits in my family's list of dining preferences in MOA. The leading one perhaps is because it offers delightful Filipino Cuisine in very affordable prices. It does not boast of a long list of choices but as its menu states, it got Pagkaing Pinoy... Mga Paborito ni Juan dela Cruz (Filipino Foods... Typical Favorites of a distinctive Filipino). This is your kind of restaurant for all meal occasions. They have food offerings anytime of day. Tastewise, Kalye Juan delivers to what it calls for. Generally, the food taste like your conventional pinoy meals at home. There's nothing special to rave about but acceptable.

For a usual Pinoy meal, what could be more appetizing than green mango with bagoong (sauted shrimp paste) to start with? The Dulong (small fish) cooked in olive oil intrigued me because its in the saleable list so, I digged in. Apparently its another conventional yet gourmet dip that will perfectly match your cracker. The Kare-kare and Tokwa't Baboy are both tasty and served generously. Your money really goes a long way here.
And of course, we will not leave this place without indulging into its Sisig sa Kalye. The Sisig here is actually not something to shout out for but still is an appealing choice. Besides, what is a genuine, delectable Pinoy treat without it? More often than not we liked that Filipino dining table to sizzle hot.

Kalye Juan
North Parking 139 - 140 SM Mall of Asia
Tel. #: 5560612

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Manila Ocean Park

It's almost 3 months now since Manila Ocean Park opened for public viewing. A lot of good and not so good tales about the park made a buzz around the country. According to its leaflet it's "the first world-class marine themed park to adopt a fusion concept - bringing together in one complex an Oceanarium, a mall, a restaurant row, boutique hotel, open water marine habitats and multi-purpose function facilities". Unfortunately, up to this writing, it's only the Oceanarium that's completed, others are still being constructed and hardly even nearing completion. Nonetheless, it still stirred up some curiosity so, off we went and experienced it ourselves.

The Oceanarium was described as "the first and largest aquarium facility in the Philippines. It promises an experience of a wide variety of species indigenous to the Philippines and South East Asia. Getting inside the park, a dome shaped entrance hall is what will welcome the visitors. It's ceiling is a large showcase of photos of marine animals alongside its sponsors. A very friendly queue is what you will experience in a weekday visit (see photo below). If you want to avoid all those tiring hurdles and difficulties in buying the ticket, I highly recommend a morning weekday visit. We went there at 11:00 am, just an hour after it was opened and we managed to enter the park in a breeze.
The Oceanarium boasts of 7 sections to tour. It will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete the water world journey. There are available tour guides in each zone for any help or queries. There's supposed to be an audio narration but we didn't hear any during our visit. (Is it just a promise in the guide map or we really missed something? The tour could have been more engaging if an audio narration was provided).

The tour starts with the 1st zone, AGOS (FLOW). This is where you're supposed to learn about the natural flow of water from land to sea. This explains the sounds of flowing water as you roam around the area. The highlight of Agos is the "touch pool". Guests will have a chance for a hands-on experience with some of the Park's inhabitants such as starfish and sea cucumber.

The 2nd zone is BAHURA (REEF). This is the most vibrant area for me and perhaps where the most familiar species are. Think of Nemo and Dori, you'll find them here. Thanks to the movie "Finding Nemo", it famed that vivacious, sparkling clownfish kids are now fond of.

Third zone is LAOT (FISHING GROUND). It features marine species living in the deep waters of the sea. Big aquariums are located here but ironically houses only quite a few. The most interesting subject of this zone is the giant grouper (Lapu-Lapu) which can weigh as much as 660 pounds. That bony fish is real big! This is pretty much the darkest area as well and the "no flash photography" is strictly being implemented. The designs of the aquariums are by the way notable.

The 4th zone is perhaps the main attraction of the Oceanarium, BUHAY NA KARAGATAN ( THE LIVING OCEAN). This is what they said is the real deal of the Park, the 25 meter-long tunnel encasing various marine animals. Manila Ocean Park claims big about this glass tunnel beating that of Singapore and Hongkong. But did it? Apart from the sharks, sting rays and other lots of marine inhabitants graciously swimming above my head, I can hardly see the vastness they said they're showcasing. Yes, it is quite big but content wise, I'm still craving for more.

The 5th zone is ANG KALALIMAN (THE DEEP). This zone features the different kinds of schooling fish such as the Barracuda. Again, very few schools can be found.

The 6th and 7th zones are PAGI (STINGRAY) and PATING (SHARK) respectively. I would say these particular sorts dominated the whole Oceanarium. There's an over hang tank where top and bottom views of sting rays can be enjoyed. Likewise, an open tank for closer shark viewing is made available at the second floor of the acitivity area. Other activities to experience in the second floor are Fish Spa (Php100/30 mins) and Glass Bottom Boat Ride (Php150). I tried the fish spa merely for the experience (and I would say that's really just it, no more no less). This is how the Fish Spa experience is going to be: you pay for your entrance ticket, remove your shoes, dip your feet into the water and be tickled by the small fishes as they ripped off your dead skin cells, wait for 30 mins to last, ask for some white towels to dry your feet and your done. It's fun but I have some reservations in trying it out again here. First, there's no "pre-washing" of feet. You head straight to the fish pond/pool and dip. I wonder how many different kinds of feet landed in there?! Much more how they maintain the cleanliness of the water? Second, there's no mention of what good or what makes fish spa a different experience even just in posts or prints. How will others be encouraged? Unless they got intrigued, it's likely, people will just pass by this one. Third, they can hardly monitor when the session is finished. It's really just up to you when you want it done. But honestly, who would want to stay longer? I just won't dare.

On the whole, the Oceanarium promised an imaginable adventure to its guests. Partly this promise came to life. But I want it to sparkle more with other new sea creatures. I know our thousands of islands have more than just that. The Oceanarium is the perfect place to show the bounty and beauty of our natural resources. On the contrary, if the Park mirrors the real condition of our marine habitat, that would be a real disturbing thought for now. Thus, it's just apt and timely to flash this environmental concern. But it should not just sit on the floor of the Oceanarium, it should be realized.

Manila Ocean Park
Behind Quirino Grandstand
Luneta Park, Manila, Philippines
Tel. #: 5677777
Fax #: 5672309
Open Mondays - Sundays 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Entrance Fee: Php 400 - adults, Php 350 - kids

Sunday, May 25, 2008

David Cook, My Kind of Taste of an Artist

*photo shot of home page

It's been days now since David Cook grabbed the much coveted seventh American Idol title. However, it does look like the Cookie fever is not to die down any soon. I wonder how many people went gaga over this guy, still are and will forever be. Well, truth is, he's taking some space in my blog. So, yes, I'm one of them. I've been an avid viewer (close to being a fan) of what Simon Cowell referred to as "the best" show in the planet, since Fantasia Barrino's crowning moment. But it is only now that American Idol's season finale brought me sheer delight. I was in utter awe that I was prompted to actually made a post about it. There's something in David Cook that makes him the "real deal" idol among other hopefuls. Much have been said about him in and out of the world wide web. He comes in a complete package as they say it. For me, this guy has that talent of magnetizing people through his music. He blew me away with his rendition of "Hello". It cuts through me that I felt like I want to fall in love again. From then on, his music keeps echoing in my ipod and PC speakers. He exudes a special charm that is magnetic, a family loving aura and a man of humility. Yes, Cook is just my kind of taste of an artist. I know he will sizzle because he's steaming with wonderful singing elements spiced with an intriguing yet inspiring character. Congratulations David Cook! Enchant us more with your music hits soon!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy 1st Anniversary Our taste of Life!

It's amazing how time flies so fast really. I can't believe it's already been a year of blogging for me. A year filled with wonderful tastes of life. A writing experience rich in unforgettable memories. Having Our Taste of Life online, felt like giving birth to a baby needing to be nourished to be able to grow poperly (like how I first mentioned it here).

All 95 posts were written from our own share of life experiences, and everything there was in living a happy life. The 112 comments state how the blog is still slowly building its readership. Still very young in terms of readers' involvement. Nonetheless, the blog's visits and page views along with its other statistics are more than enough reasons to keep me going and yes, celebrating.

For first timers here, thank you for dropping by. For those who have been here a number of times, my warmest gratitude for patronizing my humble abode in the world wide web. I'd like to share with you how Our Taste of Life had become in a year. Join me in reminiscing the highlights of this blog. Cheers! :-)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fun Ranch (and a Mother's thoughts on Mother's Day)

Fun Ranch recently opened its third play center in Westgate, Alabang. As it says, it is a place where kids definitely rule. For us, this new branch means the fun is now much closer to home. (Hooray for my kids!). Unlike the Pasig Play Center, this one is a little smaller though. It’s not a compound but a building that houses the active fun center, play area, reading area and the Big Red Barn restaurant. This place was our host in celebrating Mother’s day last sunday. My kids surely had a blast in their second Fun Ranch experience. It’s an hour of jump, play, laugh and fun. I got exhausted running around with them, but seeing them having the time of their lives paid me more than enough.
As I watched them play, I can’t help but think down memory lane on how kids amuse themselves during my youngster years. Back then; we do not have giant slides to climb but we have the trees all to ourselves to mount up. We do not have trampolines to jump up and down but we have hammocks (usually made of plastic sacks) tied under the tree to swing at. We do not have air-conditioned playground but we have no less than the open field or grassy land with a breath of fresh air to roam around. We do not have mini laptops neither techi gadgets to get busy with, but we had so much joy with pick up sticks, jackstones, hula hoops, chinese garter, tumbang preso, piko, patintero to name a few. I found myself nodding, indeed time has changed for the kids. Fun and play have evolved differently through the decades. I know generations of today are so much luckier in many ways but there are times that I would wish they can still live our good old days; even just for its simplicity.

Fun Ranch
Westgate, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
1/2 hr - P120
1 hr - P150
1/2 hr extension - P60
Unlimited play - P300
Adult / Yaya - free!
1/2 hr - P140
1 hr - P175
1/2 hr extension - P75
Unlimited play - P350
Adult / Yaya - P125 (non - play)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Canyon Cove Residential Beach Resort, Nasugbu Batangas

Before the summer ends and the effects of global warming turn the already unpredictable weather even worse, we took the chance of splashing into the most raved resort in Nasugbu, Batangas today, Canyon Cove Residential Beach Resort. This resort was previously owned by the UCPB group and used to be known as White Cove. The resort went a complete renovation after it was taken by the Canyon Woods group, thus the change in the name as well. Except for the dilapidated buildings situated near the entrance gate of the resort, everything looked different from the time we first visited it in late 2003. The hotel is now fully constructed and there's a huge swimming pool to take pleasure in other than the beach. There's a restaurant where you can have a decent meal without going through the hassle of preparing and bringing your own food. The downside however, is that the food is overly priced! A buffet lunch costs around P450 with very limited food choices. A set meal of grilled foodstuffs (squid, tilapia, chicken) with a glass of iced tea costs P350. These are the only options you have since bringing in of food is prohibited. Unless you're too hungry, the grilled meal is already a good pick. It's just enough to fill your tummy but quite insufficient to satisfy your taste buds.

On the resort's facilities, it's generally clean. The overall landscape is a beauty but not something that will blow you away. The beach view is also nice and serene. When swimming, you have to be watchful of some jellyfish as they might be enjoying the water the same time you do. There's really not much to do inside the resort other than swimming and enjoying the company of family and friends. The only available activities are water sports such as jet ski and kayak. For the kids, there's a small playground to enjoy. The service of some staff was pretty slow specially in the reception area. Nonetheless, the warm and friendly accomodation of BatangueƱos was there to welcome us.
Canyon Cove Beach Resort is a good place for an out of town summer getaway. The absence of other interesting activities and things to explore will however prevent me in staying overnight. For those who will come from far places like Manila, your preference might be different. Honestly though, among other Nasugbu beach resorts which are open to public, there's no better choice than here.

Canyon Cove Residential Beach Resort

Brgy. Wawa, Nasugbu, Batangas

Tel. #: 5206400

Day Tour: P350 adults, P200 kids (with P150 consumables for food & bev)

Updated post on Canyon Cove - read here

Villa Gregoria Terrace Resort, Nagcarlan, Laguna

When you have small kids to bring with in any out of town activities during summer, you were always limited with nearer locations to choose and shorter distance to travel. We're one of those who were faced with this kind of dilemma. Those who have killer twos and tots will probably agree with me on this. Fortunately, there are spots that are still equally enjoyable nearby. Many have recommended VILLA GREGORIA TERRACE RESORT for an out of town summer day trip. It sits in a breezy, richly filled nature in Brgy. Buboy, Nagcarlan, Laguna. To prove that indeed it's one of the hottest spots in the area, the resort was awarded by Governor Ningning Lazaro as the cleanest and best landscaped resort in Laguna in 2006. You will be greeted at the entrance gate of the resort by no less than its congratulatory banner.
Approximately 2 hrs away from Manila, Villa Gregoria offers a cool nature ambiance to its visitors. The water is really cold. No need to worry though, for it will just counter the hot, sweaty, sunny weather we have these days. Just perfect for a mid-day swimming affair. Living up to its award, the resort is generally clean. Swimming pools and cottages are maintained well. But due to its popularity and affordability (P60 entrance fee - adult, P40 - kids >3 yrs old), expect for a big lot of patrons. There are 5 swimming pools inside the resort. The largest and perhaps the cleanest is the 13 x 33 meters mini olympic pool. There are also fully furnished appartelles and air-conditioned rooms for those who will opt to stay overnight. Likewise, if privacy is what you want for your family there's a pool that can be rented exclusively.

Villa Gregoria is a typical mid range resort. It's not strict in the sense that bringing in of food is allowed and wearing of proper swimming attire is not firmly implemented. If I have but one thing to comment about the resort, it's the latter. In order to maintain the cleanliness of the pool (which is the main reason why people come here for) and for general hygiene, proper swimming attire should be required. I can imagine people plunging into the water straight from the car, huh?! (It might be an exaggeration but hey! still not impossible). Other than that, the terrace resort's clean facilities, well manicured lawns, cool water, nature ambiance and welcoming service are more than enough reasons to pay it a visit.

Villa Gregoria Terrace Resort
Brgy. Buboy, Nagcarlan, Laguna
Tel. #: (o49) 5633656, (049) 8070405
Handyphone #: 09179278943