Pilipino Lunch along Maginhawa Street

Another meeting with a lawyer friend brought me and my brother to another restaurant located along Maginhawa Street in Diliman, Quezon City. Our last visit to this street brought us to Black Soup Cafe where I tasted the black pasta. This time, our group decided to have a Filipino style lunch at Pino Resto Bar.
Maginhawa Street - Pino Resto Bar

This post is long overdue because Pino Resto Bar already relocated from its old place along Maginhawa Street to Malingap Street.

Pino Resto Bar was aptly named because it offers FiliPINO foods that are common to the Flipino tongue but innovated to make them more delicious.  The resto bar is currently managed by Chef Bugia, Star Jose and PJ Lanot.

The distinctive feature that the old Pino Resto Bar along Maginhawa Street had is its doodle on the wall.
Doodled wall of Pino Resto Bar, Maginhawa Street

I am not sure if the new Pino Resto Bar along Malingap Street has a new doodle on its walls.

We asked for Pino Resto Bar's specialty and the waiter told us to order the Kare-kareng Bagnet, which we did except for my brother.

I noticed that Pino Resto Bar is quite popular in the area because of the crowd. Our group luckily found a large table beside the doodled wall before other patrons could reach it. We waited for the main course while we nibbled little tacos filled with mangos, cheese and other veggies.
Tacos of Pino Resto Bar, Maginhawa Street

The tacos are perfect distraction while we wait for our kare-kareng bagnet. Soon enough, our orders came to our table one by one. I was awed when I saw my kare-kareng bagnet. The pork meat is BIG.
Kare-kareng bagnet of Pino Resto Bar, Maginhawa Street

The size is awesome but the taste of the kare-kareng bagnet didn't fail. I understood; on my first bite, why Pino Resto Bar's kare-kareng bagnet is praised by many. The kare-kareng bagnet combined two Filipino dishes into one and the fusion is perfect. Kare-kare is a stew made of peanut sauce and various vegetables partnered with bagoong alamang. Bagnet, on the other hand, is deep fried pork meat.

Pino Resto Bar's kare-kareng bagnet is deep fried pork meat that still has the taste of peanut sauce of kare-kare, which is new but familiar to my tounge. My kare-kareng bagnet had three pieces of big pork meat, which I almost failed to finish.

My brother ordered Pino Chicken Inasal that has one piece of inasal meat and fried kangkong leaves.
Chicken inasal of Pino Restaurant, Maginhawa Street

He said that the chicken inasal was fine but he didn't like the taste of fried kangkong leaves because it tasted like saliva.

We finished our lunch with desserts. I ordered the Mango Banana Peanut Butter Roll.
Dessert of Pino Resto Bar, Maginhawa Street

The roll is not too sweet and peanut butter taste mixed well with the taste of banana and mango.

We enjoyed our lunch/meeting with Pino Resto Bar's delicious food and tasty kwento. We left the resto bar with big bellies because of the gigantic pork of kare-kareng bagnet.

I wonder what restaurant along Maginhawa Street we're going to drop by next meeting.


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My First Visit to Manila Zoo

I happened to see Manila Zoo while I was passing along M. Adriatico Street on my way to the Department of Foreign Affairs. “I must see this zoo”, I said during that moment. So, I went to Manila Zoo on the afternoon the next day to quench my curiosity.
Manila Zoo

What welcomed me was the stench of the place. The stinking smell is so great inside the zoo that I almost puke out my lunch a lot of times. I'm not certain but I think that the cages of the animals were not cleaned well that's why the whole place stinks.

How to Go To Manila Zoo

Manila Zoo is very accessible since it is located in the City of Manila. Commuters from Manila City Hall should ride a jeepney bound to Harrison Plaza. Another way to reach Manila Zoo is to ride the LRT-1 and go down the Quirino Station then ride a jeepney that are bound to Harrison Plaza. Please note that the LRT-Quirino Station is the LRT station that is nearest to Manila Zoo.
Location Map of Manila Zoo
Location map of Manila Zoo (source: Google Maps).

Manila Zoo Entrance Fee

Entrance gate of Manila Zoo

Entrance to Manila Zoo is not expensive. The entrance fee for adult visitor is 40 pesos while the entrance fee for children (4 ft and below) is just 20 pesos. Residents of Manila can enter Manila Zoo for only 20 pesos but they must show proof of their residency.

What You Can Do Inside Manila Zoo

Visitors to the zoo can do other things aside from looking at the caged animals. Manila Zoo has a canal, officially called as a lagoon, where visitors can ride a boat.
Boating in Manila Zoo
Boating on greenish waters of Manila Zoo.

Boat rental is 60 pesos. One boat can ride 5 persons at most. Boating on Manila Zoo is OK but the dirty water is a major turn-off. I suggest that you go to La Mesa Ecopark for a better boating experience.

Visitors can also take pictures with tamed birds at the Bird Photobooth. If the kids are tired of just looking at the animals then parents should bring them to the Kinder Zoo, which is also located inside Manila Zoo. Just for 200 pesos entrance fee, kids can pet snakes, birds and other animals.
Kinder Zoo in Manila Zoo

If you found the Kinder Zoo too expensive but still you want to touch some wild animals, your only option is the booth that allows you to touch snakes and mini-crocodiles for a lesser fee.
Pet the snakes and lizards in Manila Zoo

Horses are also available inside Manila Zoo. Visitors can ride a horse for 60 pesos.
Horses for rent in Manila Zoo
Horses for rent in Manila Zoo.

Feeding the animals is prohibited but many visitors doesn't care about this rule. I saw a visitor who was able to pet an ostrich because he lured it with food.
Americano playing with the turkey of Manila Zoo.
Americano playing with the ostrich of Manila Zoo.

Animals Inside the Manila Zoo

According to the Manila Zoo website, the zoo currently holds a total of 500 animals. The same website also said that the zoo has elephants, tigers, hippos and lions. The website is outdated, however, because there is no lion inside Manila Zoo during my visit. What I saw are some hippos, tigers and this lone elephant:
Lone elephant of Manila Zoo

Which reminds me of a scene in Madagascar 3 where the protagonist lion realized that the zoo is not his home. I think that elephant is sad because there is no other elephant inside the park. His cage is also small for an elephant and with floor of hard concrete. It's no wonder that a celebrity criticized the Manila Zoo management because of the elephant.

Tigers are plenty but they are too far away for me to get a decent photo.
Tiger of Manila Zoo

There is a weird horse striped like a zebra.
Quasi-zebra in Manila Zoo

A visitor beside me told his son that the animal is an old zebra that's why its stripe is fading. He is wrong. That animal is half-horse and half-zebra, which explains why the animal has weird stripe.

Manila Zoo has a separate area for reptiles. There are snakes, turtles and some lizards like these iguanas:
Iguana of Manila Zoo

There are crocodiles too, which might be the children of Lolong.
Children of Lolong at Manila Zoo

Manila Zoo also has plenty of birds noticeable of which is this peacock:
Poor peacock of Manila Zoo

I said that that bird is noticeable because of the poor condition of its tails. Peacocks are famous for their beautiful tail that looks like a big fan when spread. The peacocks in Manila Zoo has tails that are torn and ugly. The bird that caught my attention is this weird bird:
Cassowary of Manila Zoo

Wikipedia says that this bird is called a cassowary, which is common in Papua New Guinea. This bird has feathers that looks like hair. The elongation of its head is used as protection against falling fruits. It was also said that this bird is known for attacking humans when defending its territory.

I just stayed only for an hour inside Manila Zoo because I can't take the stench anymore. I walked away the zoo as fast as possible so I can breathe stench-free air. Manila Zoo is a good place for field trips and family outings. Just be prepared with the stench though. Don't go to this zoo if your child has asthma or other respiratory illness.

My Suggested Improvements for Manila Zoo

1. The first and very important improvement that Manila Zoo administrators should do is to clean up the cages and remove the stench. This will remove the health hazards for both zoo visitors and employees.

2. Another suggestion is the improvement of Manila Zoo's entrance gate. The gate that's currently in use is not enough to control the crowd. Centaman Entrance Control will surely have the perfect product for the zoo's entrance gate.

3. My last suggestion would be an improvement to animal care. It is saddening to see the peacock with torn tail. Mali the elephant, on the other hand, is ailing. It will be best if the zoo will hire veterinarians and professionals who are experts in animal care.

There were reports that Manila City government has plans in improving the zoo. I hope that the improvement that they're planning includes the suggestion that I listed here.

Quick Chow at Penong's, Davao City

Beloved's Bestfriend (BB) insisted that she treat us a dinner on the night of our flight to Manila. Since she is persistent, I asked her to bring us to the best restaurant in Davao City. BB obliged so she brought us to Penong's Barbecue Seafoods and Grill.

It is not the first time that I heard about Penong's. I already saw this restaurant featured in a TV show. The restaurant is so popular that it kept Mang Inasal from invading Davao.
Diners in Penong's, Davao City
Penong's is packed with diners.
The sad fact is that we only had few minutes before the boarding time for our flight. The time is too short for us to enjoy eating our dinner. We requested the Penong's staff to cook our orders quickly. The result is that the food that we got is not fully cooked. It is not the fault of Penong's, however, because they rushed everything like we requested. Penong's staff should be praised because they gave their best within the time limit that we demanded.

First to reach our table is the calamansi and the green siling labuyo, which is perfect for the soy sauce dip.
Calamansi and siling labuyo from Penong's, Davao City
Calamansi and siling labuyo for three.
Our orders came next. I ordered Penong's pork barbecue.
Pork barbecue of Penong's, Davao City

See the fat? That is my favorite part of this barbecue. The atsara (pickled papaya and carrots) complements the taste of the barbecue. Penong's barbecue is delicious and better than what I had in Chic-Boy.

My Beloved and her bestfriend ordered Penong's chicken barbecue.
Chicken barbecue of Penong's, Davao City

Penong's chicken barbecue is not fully cooked but it still tasted good. It might taste better if we just had enough time to wait for it to be cooked fully. I can say that Penong's chicken barbecue is juicier than the chicken barbecue of Mang Inasal.

I hope that we can eat again at Penong's without the need to rush.


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Tuba and Balimbing

The long vacation for this year's Semana Santa (Holy Week) gave me the opportunity to visit Davao once again. It felt so good when we landed at Davao International Airport and smelled the scent of durian in the air.

The place that I went to is a remote town somewhere in Davao del Norte. It is remote because it is in the middle of banana plantations. The nearest sub-urban area is a bus ride away. People had to leave the town if they want to go to a mall, college school and banks.

People who grew up in the city will see the town as boring and slow. It is not their fault because they are accustomed to hustle and bustle of the Metro. I, on the other hand, welcomed the laid-back atmosphere of the town as my respite from the stressful life that I had in Manila.

Coconut trees can be found everywhere. The odd thing that I saw is this coconut:
Fresh tuba

Future Father-in-Law told me that the small container hanging from the coconut trunk contains unfermented tuba (palm wine). He gave the small container so I can drink the palm sap that he was collecting. The fresh tuba tastes sweet and I like it. It already had a faint tang of alcohol even though it is yet to be fermented.

Tuba is a local wine made from the sap of the cut flower of coconut. The fresh tuba is to be fermented and mixed with tungog (bark of mangrove tree) before it becomes the tuba that is being sold by the sari-sari stores in Davao.
Fermented tuba
(Source: Proudly Philippine Made)
I first tasted the reddish tuba during my first visit to Davao. A friend, who is an owner of a sari-sari store, always allow me to drink a glass of tuba every day.

Another thing that delighted me is when I saw this fruit:
Balimbing fruits

This many-sided fruit is called “balimbing” (starfruit). This fruit is used to perfectly describe Filipino politicians who are known to change their political affiliations at whim. I was delighted to see this fruit because it is rare in Metro Manila. It is sad to know that young people in the Metro knows more about apples, oranges, and pears than the local fruits like balimbing.

The taste of this fruit is not delightful, however. It tasted mapakla (bitter?) and sour. My father told me that balimbing is in the family of the very sour kamias.

I enjoyed my Semana Santa stay in Davao. I met a lot of people and enjoyed a very long rest.


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114th Independence Day at Luneta Park

The whole country celebrated the 114th anniversary of the proclamation of the Philippine Independence last Tuesday (June 12). There were celebrations in the various historical sites around the country. The government hosted celebrations at the Aguinaldo Shrine and Barasoain Church. I went to the Independence Day celebration at Luneta Park.
Crowd at Luneta Park

It is a day of gusty wind with a threat of heavy rain but many people showed up for the Independence Day celebration. Majority of the people who showed up are job seekers who took their chances in the job fair located near Luneta Park's dancing fountain. Other people were attracted by the booths erected by different government agencies. The booth that became the crowd's favorite is the booth from the military because they featured their big guns.
Tanks and guns at Luneta Park
Tanks and big guns of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

My favorite is this anti-aircraft gun:
Anti-aircraft gun at Luneta Park

I also like this howitzer:
Howitzer at Luneta Park

I want to own the anti-aircraft gun and howitzer and display them in front of my house. Then I will buy a tank, which I can drive when I go to work. I bet that even the overspeeding bus drivers will have second thoughts before challenging me in my army tank. He he he.

The Philippine flag took the “center stage” since it is Independence Day. Luneta Park had numerous Philippine flags waving proudly in the wind.
Philippine flags at Luneta Park
How many Philippine flags are in this photo?

Of course, I didn't forget to take a photo of the most important monument in Luneta Park, which is the monument of Jose Rizal.
Rizal Monument at Luneta Park


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The Historic Aguinaldo Shrine

Me and an officemate, which I name as Mr. Q, conducted a seminar in Cavite City last year. We traveled from Manila to Cavite City through the Coastal Road. Our travel is quick but boring until I saw a large white house, which I usually saw in television every Independence Day. Our driver told me that that large house is the Aguinaldo Shrine.
Side view of Aguinaldo Shrine

Cavite is a province rich in history. Cavite City, for instance, served as a naval base since Spanish Era. Cavite was the home port of galleons during the height of Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. The presence of Aguinaldo Shrine in Cavite is a testament to its involvement in the Philippine War of Indepedence. Cavite is one of the first eight provinces that declared war against the Spanish Colonial Government during the 1896 Revolution.

I rarely go to Cavite that's why I asked Mr. Q to let me visit Aguinaldo Shrine before we go home after the seminar. I didn't want to miss the chance of visiting this historical place because I might not get another chance in the future. Thankfully, Mr. Q relented.
Aguinaldo Shrine from afar
Aguinaldo Shrine viewed from afar.
The Aguinaldo Shrine is the place where the first Philippine president, Emilio Aguinaldo, declared Philippine Independence from Spanish rule on June 12,1898. The war is still raging and Americans are threatening to colonize the country but Emilio Aguinaldo proudly waved the nation's flag during that historic day. The declaration of Philippine Independence is vividly portrayed in the old 5-peso bill.

Caviteños preserved the Aguinaldo Shrine and made its ground a public park. A monument was erected to honor Emilio Aguinaldo.
Aguinaldo Shrine - Emilio Aguinaldo on horseback
Emilio Aguinaldo on horseback.
Aguinaldo Shrine was closed to the public when I visited so what I only did is to take photos of the front part of the shrine.
Close up view of Aguinaldo Shrine

What I like with the Aguinaldo Shrine is that it is well maintained. The condition of this shrine is uncommon in the Philippines because majority of our historical shrines were neglected and vandalized.
Tower of Aguinaldo Shrine
Tower of Aguinaldo Shrine.
The front of Aguinaldo Shrine has intricate designs. Take a closer look of the shrine's historic balcony:
Historic balcony of Aguinaldo Shrine

Do you notice the designs found on the eaves?  The Philippine flag and the three K's was also depicted on the wall located above the balcony.

Today, we celebrate the 114th year celebration of the proclamation of Philippine independence. I am glad that I got the chance to visit the historic Aguinaldo Shrine. Happy Independence Day my kababayans!


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My Little Sister's Burger Project

One talent that Little Sister inherited from my parents is the the talent for cooking. Me and my other brothers are not good at cooking. In spite of this, one of my brothers are trying to learn how to cook. I, on the other hand, prefers to improve my talent of eating.

My mom told me that Little Sister is honing her skills in cooking and eating during the summer break. She shells out money from her savings just to buy the food that she wanted to eat. One weekend, Little Sister wanted to eat burgers, so she made this:
Delicious home-made burgers

She ransacked our refrigerator where she got beef meat, tomatoes, mayonnaise, cheese, ketchup and hot sauce. Mom bought the lettuce and the buns so as to complete my sister's “burger project”.
Inside the home-made burger
Cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.

We are fortunate enough to have a generous sister. She let her brothers use their eating talents on her burgers. So, I graciously munched some of the home-made burgers. Yum yum.

I think my sister's home-made burger tasted better than the Jollibee's Yum Burger. Her burger has real beef meat, fresh tomatoes and lettuce. We can add mayonnaise and ketchup to our burgers as much as we want, unlike in fastfood joints like Jollibee.

Now I wonder what's Little Sister cooking for merienda this afternoon.


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Splash Island before the Summer Ends

My beloved wanted to go to a resort before the summer gives way to rainy season. Her first plan is for us to go to a beach resort at Laiya Aplaya in Batangas. The only problem is that Laiya Aplaya is very far. We will spend half of the day traveling and she only has one day as her day-off.

In the middle of May, my beloved thought that it is better that we go to a nearby resort. She decided that we go to Splash Island Waterpark located along South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in Biñan, Laguna.
Twisted slide of Splash Island Waterpark
The high and twisting slide beckons.

We were accompanied by our bunso (youngest brother) and my only sister in our Splash Island Waterpark adventure. Fortunately, we got a “buy 1 take 1” coupon so we only paid for two entrance tickets and got two free tickets for my siblings.


How to Go to Splash Island Waterpark


Location map of Splash Island Waterpark
(Source: Splash Island Waterpark website)

The four of us went to Pacita Complex in San Pedro, Laguna by riding a jeepney from Santa Rosa City. We then hired a tricycle, which brought us to the gates of Splash Island Waterpark. The travel time by tricycle from Pacita Complex is just 15 minutes.

Be wary of unscrupulous tricycle drivers in Pacita Complex. I believe that paying 100 pesos for hiring the whole tricycle is fair because Pacita Complex is quite far from the waterpark. You are being ripped off if the tricycle driver asked you to pay more than 100 pesos.


Where to Eat Inside Splash Island Waterpark


Bringing your own food to Splash Island Waterpark is prohibited. The waterpark owners made this rule to ensure that visitors will buy food from stalls inside the waterpark.

We reached the waterpark an hour before noon so we searched for a good place to eat. We went to Fiesta sa Pulo, which is just a big food court.
Fiesta sa Pulo in Splash Island Waterpark

We ordered sizzling dishes from Sizzler and this is what I got:
Sizzling fish fillet at Splash Island Waterpark
Fish fillet from Sizzler.

It cost 100 pesos, which is disappointing because it just tasted OK. I can buy better tasting food for the same price.


Fun Under the Sun


We are fortunate because it didn't rain that day. We enjoyed the whole afternoon by going to the attractions that Splash Island Waterpark has to offer. The first attraction that went to is the Balsa River.
Balsa River in Splash Island Waterpark
Visitors enjoying Balsa River.

Balsa River is the place to laze off. Just get a rubber balsa and let the gentle flow of this “river” push you around the waterpark. We raced the whole length of Balsa River and played while we float. This attraction of Splash Island Waterpark is perfect for kids.

The popular attraction of Splash Island Waterpark are its slides. We didn't want to miss the slides so we left Balsa River and then went to the slides. We tried the Rio Montañosa first.
Rio Montañosa in Splash Island Waterpark
The twisting slide of Rio Montañosa.

We rode a big rubber boat and then slide the twisting route of Rio Montañosa. It is a little bit scary especially when you are at the bend because you will feel that you will fall off the slide.

The last slide that we tried is the Magellan's Drop. This attraction made me lie on my belly and then slide down from a height of four-storey building. The four us used this slide as a sort of race track and I always won.
Magellan's Drop in Splash Island Waterpark
Magellan's Drop. Note: I am nowhere in this photo. :-P

The queue are very long and the climb to the start of slide is high. This is why we left the slide and went to Agos Grandes, which is just a big pool with machine-generated waves. We spent the remaining afternoon fighting the “treacherous” waves of Splash Island Waterpark.
Agos Grande in Splash Island Waterpark
Here comes the wave!

The big waves of Agos Grandes stopped suddenly at 4 o'clock. Agos Grandes is boring if there's no wave so we left the big pool so we can have merienda. Since we are a little bit exhausted, we tried to have some “water massage” at Water Wahoo.
Water Wahoo in Splash Island Waterpark

The pressure of the water massaged our backs. We even pretended that we are rallyists being bombarded with water from a fireman's hose. We tried the slides again before we went home. We discovered, to our delight, that there is no queue. We slide at Magellan's Drop a lot of times until we are tired of climbing up the stairs.

If you are planning to visit Splash Island Waterpark, I suggest that you to their slides in the late afternoon. Many people left the waterpark already so the long lines are gone.

So, that is our last adventure before the rainy season begins. Splash Island Waterpark is a great resort. I thought that my visit to this waterpark would be boring. I experienced that an afternoon visit is not enough.

My only suggestion to Splash Island Waterpark's owner is that they fix the other attractions that are not operating. They should also improve the food being served in Fiesta sa Pulo.


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