Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas that's Uniquely Philippines'

Christmas is the most celebrated occasion in the Philippines. It's usually characterized by long preparation and weeks of celebration. If there's one festivity that can be observed lavishly in this country, undoubtedly it is Christmas. The ambiance during this time of the year is simply the happiest. This will be our first Christmas outside the Philippines. Hence, I'm beginning to miss a number of time-honoured means of celebrating it. Here are the 10 things that I definitely missed the most...

1. Christmas Bazaars (especially St. James the Great bazaar) - Touted as the king of all bazaars, this Ayala Alabang's annual bazaar is the must see for us. We never fail in visiting it every year. In fact, we even tried to be a concessionaire of Crafts & Novelties for two consecutive years. I will definitely miss the usual knick-knacks that can be found there which are likewise good gift items.

2. Starbucks Christmas Drinks + Annual Planner Promo - My customary drink at Starbucks during the yuletide season is the "Toffee Nut Latte". Fortunately, I can still enjoy a cup here in Singapore sans the planner. Getting the much coveted planner for the coffee aficionados became an annual tradition for my husband and I. Luckily, we can manage to get each every year. (We were really that loyal a customer).

3. 9 Morning Masses - With the arrival of the children, I was actually restricted from attending an early morning mass. I used to do this when I was still single and somehow, I'm missing this tradition.

4. Christmas Carols - In the Philippines, as early as September, we can hear Christmas Songs all over the country. I missed hearing them frequently. It's nearly December and I hardly hear any in our current location.

5. Well lighted and beautifully adorned houses - Back home, we love roaming around villages and exclusive estates just to view houses with adorable Christmas decorations. The sights bring us absolute delight. It made us feel the Christmas spirit more.

6. Distinctive Filipino Christmas Foods i.e. Native Delicacies such as Puto Bumbong and Bibingka - One of my favourite places for Christmas shopping is The Landmark in Makati. I love their Christmas decor items. Whenever I make a shopping trip there with my husband, we usually stop by Via Mare for Bibingka and Puto Bumbong. These delicacies have become Christmas food icons in the Philippines. I dearly missed them!

7. Early Christmas Bonus a.k.a. early Christmas Shopping (need I say more??!)

8. Christmas Party - Christmas in the Philippines is synonymous to parties, parties and more parties with of course food galore!!

9. Cool Weather Ambiance - Tagaytay used to be a 20 minute drive from home. I'm terribly missing its cool weather and calming scenery especially during the Christmas season since it's the coldest period. I missed wearing jackets and warmers.

10. Exchange Gifts - Apparently, it's only now that I realized how generous and thoughtful we, Filipinos are. No matter how small or big, we love to give gifts. The excitement and happiness we received from doing so is just second to none.

It's 35 days to go before Christmas. And as the day nears, more and more I'm won over by the thought that there's really no Christmas like in the Philippines...

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I have a confession to make. I have been a deliquent blogger for the last couple of months. But I need not enumerate and rant all the causes for being so. I'd rather rejoice for finding the time to get back to the usual :-). I can already smell the scent of the festive season. The lights, ornaments and holiday trees have started to adorn the streets, different establishments and houses. Although I've yet to put up mine at home, I'm beginning to feel strongly the wind of merriment. Oh Christmas, I'm so glad you're finally here!
During this period, aside from decoratives, we also often times get busy with delicacies and treats hunting. This early, I've started my hunt for sweet goodies to add up to my holiday food list. Cookie Man (found in the basement level of Takashimaya Shopping Centre) fits perfectly for a cookie burger recipe. I'm so glad to find another alternative (aside from Famous Amos) for a not so sweet, finger licking good cookies. The Cookie Man makes a very good ingredient for a cookie burger for it's slightly crunchy yet gooey texture. It can hold a spread filling well upon refrigeration. I'll share the recipe on my next post. I'm still trying on different spread and cookie combinations. Meanwhile, you can also binge on the cookies as is. In fact, my children feasted on a whole pack and there was nothing left for my dessert item.

Friday, November 5, 2010

MARINA BAY for an unforgettable Food, Nightscape and Fun

Marina Bay is currently the hottest spot in Singapore to unwind, dine, relax and have fun. So much are going on in this area. I was more than delighted to have made the right choice to celebrate my birthday in this sparkling place. On the whole, I indeed had a grand time.

My day started with a lunch buffet experience at Ritz Carlton Millenia. Inspired by some good reviews of the hotel's Green House Restaurant for its Asian Seafood Buffet, I decided to try it with my husband. Ritz Carlton for many years, has been well recognized for its high quality service. Rightfully so, the hotel delivers what it's been known of. Two thumbs up for the kind of service we received from its staff. The ambiance was likewise very private which was notable. Unfortunately, the same level of quality was hardly translated to the food. As I hopped from one food station to the next, more and more I was convinced that the element of freshness was not there. In terms of variety, the selection was enough. But quality wise, it's way below my expectations. Unfortunately, I don't think there will be a second time for us.

For our next stop, we headed to Sands Sky Park, the highest observation deck in Singapore at the moment. If you want to view the entire Lion City at your own pace, this is a good venue for that. Breathtaking, relaxing and astounding sceneries await visitors. It would be best to come in late afternoon to have both day and night views. I can't wait to spend the New year's Eve here. We're already booking soon!

To complete our Marina Bay experience, we tried the iLight Cruise - Asia's first Light Art Festival. It's a very calming outdoor acitivity to appreciate the beauty of Marina Bay's nightscape. It's a 30 minute boat ride filled with stunning 25 light art creations of international artists from all over the globe. This art technology was a sheer beauty at night!

We capped our night with a dinner experience at the RISE restaurant in Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

Overall ambiance, service, food selection and quality, all these got a pleasing nod from me. I specifically liked the cold seafood station and the dessert section. It was by far, another best buffet experience in the island. A classic ambrosial culinary treat is what RISE meant for me now and boy was I glad we stumbled upon it on my special day.