Kuya J’s 100th Store Opens in Palawan

I WASN’T HERE WHEN Kuya J opened its 100th store at the SM City Puerto Princesa on October 7, and that’s truly sad because I was one of those really looking ahead to being there.

Ang mas nakaka-sad pa, I just placed myself today on a strict Herbalife diet so, that means no spending money freely on best-loved restos and cafes… on Kuya J, hahaha… even if its Crispy Pata’s soooooo lovely and sexy like that in the photo below.

Crispy Pata

Kuya J’s sexy Crispy Pata boasts of crispy pork skin with tender juicy pata meat. Regular order costs Php509.00 while an order for the whole fambam is Php695.00

Wow, Kuya J naman… I could cry. O, sige na nga, I’ll have Sunday as my cheat day because I’m really easy to bring around naman. Gaaaahhh.

Jericho serenades fans

Actor Jericho Rosales, endorse or Kuya J, sings to the crowd during the opening on October 7 at SM City Puerto Princesa.

Thank you, SM Shopping Center Management Corporation for the invitation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend that day as I needed to be in Tagaytay for a convention with the Junior Chamber International.

Wait a minute, do you have a store in Tagaytay?

Drinks

Chorizo Dinamitas

Chorizo Dinamitas, yay! For this goodness, you only need to shell out Php170.00

What’s in the Menu?

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I am not sure if the prices in the menu slide remain the same. It was borrowed by this blog from www.zomato.com To make sure, visit the store and order 🙂

Kuya J Restaurant

Kuya J used to be a modest and an inconspicuous restaurant in Cebu called “Ang Kan-anan ni Kuya J” before it got to be one of the fastest growing casual dining places in the Philippines. In fact, no restaurant that originated as a hole-in-the-wall has achieved the feat of opening 100 stores in just two years.

The restaurant celebrated its huge milestone #CheersTo100 at the Event Center of SM City Puerto Princesa with none other than its blockbuster bida, Jericho Rosales.

Some of my media colleagues were there to welcome him, and one of the food that they’re raving about is the Chorizo Dinamitas, which is deep fried pastry-wrapped jalapeños with Cebu’s famed chorizo and cheddar cheese.

“We wanted the 100th store to be significant. We chose Puerto Princesa City to house our 100th store because it plays a vital role in tourism and community development,” said Winglip Chang, president and chief executive officer of iKitchen, said in a statement that was sent to this blog.

iKitchen is the company behind the now famous food store.

Grilled Scallops

Kuya J’s all-time favorite Grilled Scallops oozing with garlic, butter, and other toppings at Php245.00 per order.

Kuya J lovers

Actor Jericho Rosales with the crowd that attended Kuya J’s opening.

“Our 100th store is not only a result of the hardwork and passion of the entire Kuya J family. It’s actually more of the overwhelming love and support of Filipino families all over the country,” shared Danny Pumarega, chief operating officer of Kuya J.

Is Kuya J the Blockbuster Bida Jericho Rosales?

I had asked myself this over and over when I started seeing its commercials on television because, hey, Jericho Rosales equals Kuya J, why not? But Kuya J isn’t him and him in a way.

Chang said “the name refers to no particular person.” It’s a brand that symbolizes the Filipino family, where there are a lot of names starting with the letter “J” like Jose, John, Joseph, and Jericho.

I must say that’s a witty history to a restaurant name. Ke-cute!

Halo-halo

Kuya J’s Halo-Halo Espesyal topped with milky-smooth ice, homemade leche flan, crunchy cornflakes sprinkles, and ube ice cream at Php109.00

Kare-kare

Kare-kare with original peanut sauce at Php419.00

Roast Chicken

Kuya J’s surefire roast chicken with smoky barbecue flavor at Php215.00 half and Php430.00 whole.

The award-winning drama actor, who was asked if he owns it, said “in a way, yes.” This is because he is proud that the brand Kuya J “truly embodies the Filipino culture that is family-oriented.”

“Echo is actually the perfect endorser for Kuya J. He is one of the award-winning drama actors in the country and the best Kuya to his family. Kuya J finds him very inspiring with his trait of always putting his heart into everything that he does, especially when touching people’s lives,” said the statement.

Kuya J Favorites

After trying the food at Kuya J Restaurant, one could not be surprised how much people love their interpretations of Filipino favorites, which are very reasonably priced. Some of the local favorites so far are the following:

  • Grilled Scallops Php230.00 — a fresh reminder of Cebu because every restaurant there has some version of this dish. Each scallop shell is covered in a generous amount of cheese and garlic that enhances the umami flavor of the seafood.
  • Chorizo Dinamitas (P170) might be thought to be super spicy, but an initial bite could lead anyone to eating more. Chopped Cebu chorizo and cheddar cheese make it a salty-sweet appetizer with a nice crunch and mild spiciness.

My Favorites

If you decide to visit Kuya J at the SM City here, don’t disregard the appetizers in the menu because some of them are perfect ulam too, like the Sinuglaw, Lumpia Frito, and the Calamari with garlic mayo dip.

When it comes to dining, I am one of those who has a favorite dish everywhere and orders the same thing every time. Same Thai Chicken, or Roasted Chicken at Neva’s Place and Dang Maria’s, same Sisig at Kinabuch, same Chicken in a Basket at McCoys… I always go for the same kind and I don’t know why’s that, but… it’s all good!

My favorites there are Lumpia Presko for the sauteed crab meat and bamboo shoots with sweet garlic sauce; slow-cooked Bulalo; the Stuffed Grilled Squid with BBQ sauce; and the Bicol Express which is really good with rice.

BTW, all photos in this blog post are not mine. Thank you, SM Shopping Center Management Corporation, for allowing me their use.

Cheers! 🙂

 

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That “Into the Movieverse” Experience

TWO UPSCALE DIRECTOR’S CLUB exclusive screening theaters were opened recently by the SM Cinema at SM City Puerto Princesa, and luckily, I was one of those handed the chance to watch the biographical comedy crime film American Made in one on September 14.

All thanks to mall PR man Russell Fernandez, who’s a very kind host that day; and pretty Steph dela Peña of SM Cinema.

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Hans Sy (3rd from left) of SM Prime led the soft opening on September 14 of the SM Cinema with Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron (4th from left), Palawan Vice Governor Dennis Sorcrates (5th from left), City Tourism Officer Aileen Cynthia Amurao, and other officials. The SM Cinema here is the 60th branch nationwide.


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Comfortable couch sets are safe spaces that you’ll find upon entrance to the Director’s Club. They’re where you can wait until the first batch finishes, and your turn comes next.

SM Cinema also opened three digital cinemas (check photos below) for the general public. Each can house up to 165 viewers at a time, creating an undisturbed and relaxed space for movie adventures with friends, relatives, and family.

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Can you count the chairs?

The Director’s Club cinema experience is not like the average you get when you watch in some big-box theaters, where the floors feel viscid and gluey under your shoes because someone sloshed soda (or smoothie), or where the individual sitting next to you is giving that popcorn the best shot by chowing down hard like it’s chicharon.

No, these upmarket cinemas are offering movie enthusiasts (even those who aren’t) that kind of experience that’s beyond that and people stepping on your toes or foot just to get to their seats.

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SM Cinema’s Director’s Club recommends a movie date like no other in a setting that will give you the feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation you deserve. I mean, seriously, this kind of high-end cinema gives you the personal space you need in watching your favorite film genre.

Each screening theater is well-spaced (with wide aisles) and boasts superior recliner chairs (like La-Z-boys) to add style and ease, agreeable screen size, top-notch sound system, and meals served to you at the push of a button by  your own personal butler.

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Ticket prize, I think, is about Php400.00 for unlimited popcorn (cheese-flavored) and drinks (supposedly). We were given Minute Maid when we watched; I’m not sure if it’s going to be the same offer when you watch.

In the two Director’s Club where I sometimes watch in Manila, if you order extra cola or drink, hindi na kasama sa unlimited offer. You have to pay differently.

It was so comfy, I almost slept in the middle of watching American Made. Mabuti na lang, Tom Cruise remains a serious movie actor for me to watch, and his latest film’s funny. Otherwise, that restful feeling… eh, nakatulog na sana ako.

So, if you don’t want to fight in line like I do, sometimes, to see a movie, or if you don’t want to spend money on online services that deliver access to movies the minute they’re publicly made available, then this high-end trend of a cinema is truly for you to give you that INTO THE MOVIEVERSE experience.

It’s also happy to note that a new generation theater like this has popped up in Palawan to completely recoup the cinematic experience we’ve lost since Melba, Republic, Maresca, Cove, and Star Vision cinemas closed operations years ago, di ba?

I said “completely” because, let’s admit it, naibalik naman when Robinsons Palawan opened with its own chain theater ahead of SM City Puerto Princesa. Kinumpleto lang by the swanky Director’s Club movie theaters.

Sorry this blog’s late. Cheers!

 

 

The Paella That Wasn’t Easy to Love

SOME OF THE BEST AND TASTY paella variants I’ve ever tried were at Las Paellas Cafe at the Festival Mall in Alabang, Casa Armas Tapas Bar Y Restaurante in Malate, Barcino in the The Fort, and here in Puerto Princesa, at Tom Tom’s Club along Manalo Street.

Even to this day, I can’t forget the subtle flavor and aroma of the cafe’s Paella Marinera, and the gastronomically bewitching Paella Negra, a scene-stealer and high drama rice dish that is dyed black with squid ink, and mottled with calamari, a rich blob of garlic aoili mayonnaise, red bell pepper strips, and some other toppings.

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“Matiz Paella” by Matiz Restaurant & Tapaz Bar at Hue Hotel.

Any chef who can rustle up a good paella will say right away that this famous Spanish dish is really “all about the rice” and the socarrat, without abandoning the adequate quantity (and quality) of other ingredients that needs to be there over the base.

Socarrat is the rice that gets pleasantly crisp and forms a tough outer part at the base of the paellera, a special skillet from which the paella is cooked. It is to the dish what the smoke ring is to a brisket.

In Filipino, it is “tutong,” or the burnt rice that we find at the bottom of our pot when we don’t pay enough attention and cooks it for too long. The difference is that we shed out the burnt rice, whereas the Spaniards and paella lovers save the socarrat (sometimes for last) as it is essential to the total goodness of the paella.

Tom Tom’s Club is the only dining place I know here that serves really good paella. So, when I learned that Matiz Restaurant & Tapas Bar at Hue Hotel is offering Spanish-inspired cuisines, I really campaigned to have our regular Women of Wednesday (WOW) there to try the dish.

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Sinugba, the two-cooking method dish of grilled pork belly and fish ceviche (kinilaw).

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WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY (WOW) sisters on September 13 at Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar, Hue Hotels, National Highway, Puerto Princesa City.  

WOW is a group of lady past presidents of the JCI Puerto Princesa Peacock, Inc., and Wednesday is usually the day in the week when we all meet to just let our hair loose — allow ourselves to behave much more freely from our daily routines and just laugh at everything and enjoy.

On September 13, all 11 of us were at this restaurante to finally try some of cuisines it’s offering. The specialty of the house the waitress offered was Matiz Paella, which I ordered for four since those who arrived ahead of me had already ordered.

Paella always gets me excited because it is a Spanish food that’s easy to love, easy to adore. Anything that’s easy to love and adore keeps you calm, right?

After waiting for nearly half an hour, the so-called Matiz Paella that got to our table (with a portable stove) was nothing short of regret.

Sorry about that.

Flavors certainly did not blend and burst together, the rice mixture was (sadly) soaked through, and toppings to add to the distinctive taste were measly — it’s head-shaking.

I agree, the chef should not overwhelm the rice with toppings as it will affect the whole taste of the paella, but really that meager? Four pieces of boiled quail eggs (I get it, because I ordered for four), seven pieces of sliced squid rings, two pieces of shrimps, and four slices of chorizo that were charred and tasted bitter, and green peas.

There was really nothing else for me to be excited about in the dish that was regarded as the specialty of the house. Where’s the sudden rush of beautiful flavors in every spoonful and layer of toppings spread over the base? What happened to the socarrat?

The price of Php995 for four for the paella that to me, failed to happen, was really sore to pay though we all split the tab at Php500 for everything we ate. Di naman sa… pero, why pay good money for something that’s not belly satisfying?

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Bagnet, crunchy and truly good!

Though disappointed with its paella, I’m not saying you don’t go and try the Spanish-themed restaurante because your fondness might be different from mine. Unless the chef improves the paella, I honestly think it’s safe to go for the Sinugba and the Bagnet on its menu list.

These two Pinoy dishes are really good at Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar. They might be a little pricey where your dining-out-to-treat-yourself fund is concerned, but, hey… no regrets if the food is good.

Sinugba, which employs two methods of cooking — grilling pork belly and soaking fish in lime juice or coconut vinegar to become ceviche — needs really little introduction to Filipinos as it is a beloved dish, especially in the Visayas.

Many Sinugba lovers just salt the pork belly and grill it. The others choose to do it with their own created barbecue sauces, and after grilling, mix it with the fish ceviche.

At Matiz Restaurant & Tapaz Bar, the Sinugba, thankfully, didn’t taste sea-level salinity (over-salted food isn’t good for the kidney). It was light and bright, used the freshest fish possible, and wasn’t overly marinated.

The deep-fried pork belly Bagnet that originated in Ilocos was everyone’s rave in the restaurant that night. There was no bagoong monamon (fermented anchovies) that was served with it, but the chef’s success in making it crispy on the outside and tender and savory on the inside got me.

I would certainly go back for the Bagnet because the resto got it right, and it brings me back sweet memories of my father. If he’s alive today, he’d surely be happy to be taken there for a special dinner of the Ilocano favorite simple recipe… with, of course, bagoong monamon.

I just know he would look for that; not the vinegar as dipping sauce.

Nice Ambiance

The inside of the restaurant used wooden wine rack modules clawed on the wall on one side for efficient and elegant bottle storage that are typical to tapas bars. Individual plank tables hang on the ceiling on another side to complete its stylish whole tapas bar look.

Imagine having your tapas on swing tables. The playful design makes dining fun and interesting. I’m actually imagining what if it has hanging chairs to sway me too.

Its interior design concept is nothing I’ve ever seen in this city. It has high upper interior surface that adds space, and speaks relaxation and comfort to people who shun having their meals in a place that retards them from trouble-free gestures and physical movement.

Sometimes, when we go to restaurants, it is more than just the food. The ambiance and the all-embracing experience can often mean a lot more. This is the reason why many really take time and effort to create and develop their own themes, or assimilate elements of a culture — all with the objective of entertaining your senses, not just your taste buds.

The Staff

Except for one waiter who doesn’t know how to describe to us the food we wanted to have, I was glad everyone was attentive enough to check what else we needed that night.  The waitress who served our food was always smiling, and checking on us.

Poor customer service can cause restaurant businesses to die. In fact, I think it is one of the chief reasons why many lose the interest to become returning customers. Attentive waiters/waitresses is part of the whole deal of superlative customer service.

I’m not the only one who’s going to say this: If a restaurant is able to deliver remarkable atmosphere, delicious food, reasonable prices, ample serving, and quality customer service, then there’s no reason why I would not return.

Cheers!

 

 

1st SM Mall in MIMAROPA to open in Palawan on September 15

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A LOT OF EXCITING things are taking place in Puerto Princesa City, and my only worry right now is the traffic. It’s a battlefield (bigat ‘no?) out there everyday, and all street corners midriff of the town seem to be spots of congestion.

I understand that traffic congestion is an unavoidable problem in developing cities, and the integral result of the way modern societies operate. However, just because I understand does not mean I am not upset.

Like many, I am frustrated by our local policymakers’ inability to come up with a possible immediate solution to the problem, which, by the way, presents a grave public policy challenge.

I can think of one, and that is removing tricycles in national and principal roads. Apologies to neighbors, relatives, and friends who operate tricycles to convey passengers, but right now, that’s the most immediate there is to accomplish.

Otherwise, nobody certainly wants to be caught in the nub of a larger traffic problem, which I can see happening the moment the SM City Puerto Princesa opens on September 15.

Just my two cents.

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Aerial view of the new SM City Puerto Princesa.

Discovering Palawan, Discovering SM City Puerto Princesa

SM Supermalls, which is owned by SM Prime Holdings (SMPH), is ready to open its 64th mall in Puerto Princesa this week.

Russell Fernandez, the SM City Puerto Princesa’s public relations officer, was kind enough to grant an interview with me a couple of days ago at Itoy’s Coffee Haus to let me know how it’s going to be different from the other malls that SM Prime Holdings owns.

Some major parts of the interview I will hold in reserve for my news story that will be submitted to the Philippine News Agency. The rest, will be part of this blog.

The three-level, 54,000 square meter resort-style complex mall is located on a 47,000-square meter site along Malvar corner Lacao streets that used to be a squatter settlement and a location where indigenous materials were traded.

And SM is short for “Shoemart,” run by the retail giant SM Group of Companies, where SMPH belongs. Its owner is Chinese-Filipino Henry Sy Sr., known in the Philippines as the “Retail King.”

As a premier mall, Russell said SM City Puerto Princesa envisions to reflect Palawan’s tropical feel while assimilating SM’s innovative design approach. I thought this is true because among all SM City malls I had been to, this one’s got the feel and look of a modish seaside resort hotel from outside.

Did you notice that the entrances to the mall are painted in green? I’ve been asked that a bunch of times. Why not navy blue like what its branding is known for?

I forgot to ask Russell about this particular information, and I know I shouldn’t have. But my guess is that aside from the fact that SM is now innovating on the look of its future retail malls, the shade really symbolizes Palawan’s devotion to protecting its verdant surroundings.

The green color represents, too, love of life, of balance and harmony, of reincarnation, of peace and relaxation. And because it is these things, then I’d assume that SM City Puerto Princesa wants to be at least one of the refuges that you and I are looking for away from the stresses of life’s daily routine.

And lest you forget, green is also the color of money.

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“It’s incomparable because it doesn’t look like just a block of commercial complex. At first glance, you will think it’s a resort hotel,” he said.

The mall’s interiors are distinctly crisp and modern with textures and relaxing colors that give one the sense of being on a tropical holiday. At each opening to the level above, walls clad in a unique plaster give a quality of continuous and soft waves.

The mall’s ceiling will display hundreds of delicate handcrafted wooden lanterns not only for ample natural lighting, but also to add to the Palawan feel.

Russell was excited to talk about SM City Puerto Princesa’s commitment to sustainability, telling me that it was projected to achieve a sustainable future.

“If you will notice, the design is with glass walls that speak of modern architecture, and doesn’t isolate us from the natural surroundings. It allows us to see outward, and it lets in sunlight to make a bright environment for shoppers,” he stressed.

It will have a sewage treatment plant (STP) to take care of restaurant and toilet wastes with a treated water recycling tank system for toilet flushing, plant irrigation, cleaning and maintenance, and other non-potable purposes that will help in the conservation of fresh water.

Great Shopping + Leisure + Entertainment

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For great shopping, leisure, and entertainment, the SM City Puerto Princesa will have the following:

  • SM Store
  • SM Supermarket
  • SM Appliance Center
  • ACE Hardward
  • Watsons
  • Surplus Shop
  • Miniso
  • Sports Central

Miniso is “a Chinese-low cost retailer and variety store chain that specializes in household and consumer goods including cosmetics, stationery, toys, and kitchenware.” Its marketing strategy is the same as Muji, Daiso, and Uniqlo.

What I’m most excited about, on the other hand, is its three state-of-the-art cinemas and two Director’s Club theaters.

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The Director’s Club theater can sit around 30-50 people for a luxe cinema experience. (Photo borrowed from SMCinema.com)

In Manila, when I want to watch a movie with extraordinary comfort (and when I have money to spare), I go to the Director’s Club at the SM Mall of Asia that has leather seats, butler service, and a menu that’s entirely for its clients.

First in Palawan Brands

Lifestyle in this bustling city will definitely get a boost with these first-in-Palawan-brands that are soon to open their doors in SM City Puerto Princesa to clients.

  • Mesa Restaurant – a dining place that is popular for combining the best of Filipino cuisines with healthy class and blend.
  • Kuya J – this restaurant has model/actor Jericho Rosales as its endorser. You have to try its Sinuglaw because I can attest to its goodness na best sa kanin even if its really appetizer; and also its grilled rack of ribs.
  • Cabalen (Eat All You Can, Eat All You Want!) – a favorite Pinoy restaurant not only for traditional dishes but also the exotic as well. They said dining here “makes you feel the authentic traditional home-cooked food the Kapampangan way that you have not experienced for a long time in a very reasonable priced buffet.”
  • Rib ShackYes, baby back ribs!
  • Turk’s Shawarma – this one I would surely love for shawarma is a favorite. It specializes in Turkish cuisines that are suitable to the taste of Pinoys.
  • Breadtalk – by the Breadtalk Group of Companies, a Singapore-based multinational food and beverage corporation that sells wonderful breads and pastries. If you’ve gone to Vivocity in Singapore, and has had your meal in Food Republic, well, they operate that.
  • The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – I’m really this one than Starbucks 😉 because its blends are light and subtle. Not too sweet! I also heard Seattle’s Best is setting up a store in the premiere mall so, let’s see.
  • Powermac – if you’re one of Apple’s 588 million users, then you’ll love this store for your Apple devices.
  • Rulls Cellphone and Accessories – another popular cellphone accessory store.
  • Dermcare – the new luxury in wellness and beauty is going to be here in Puerto Princesa with a full store.
  • Belle La Peau and Dent XP in the health and wellness area
  • Hush Puppies, Macbeth, Memo, Regatta, and Tobys

Home-grown Brands

Shoppers and diners will also enjoy the best of Palawan’s home-ground brands like McCoy’s brick-oven pizza, Isla Casuy de Palawan, Vogere by Bong Villanueva, Divine Sweets, Puerto Electronico, Banh Pho Chao Long, Heavenly Dessert, Miss Tea, and the ANCIENT DYNASTY KITCHEN.

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I just have to post my friend Siobe Yu’s invitation for me to see the opening of Ancient Dynasty Kitchen, which will soon serve traditional home-cooked Chinese dishes in an authentic Chinese family environment.

Who doesn’t love Chinese food?

Since Palawan is a tourist haven, Russell added that SM City Puerto Princesa made sure that there will be a traveler’s lounge available for foreign and domestic tourists, where they could rest, bathe, book flights, and seek assistance on other businesses.

Parking won’t be a problem as it has a two-level parking area that has 398 car slots. Thank goodness for this, because I always worry leaving my ride under the heat of the sun.

The parking areas are with block paving that can be later lifted up and replaced, and to allow rainwater penetration in the grounds to replenish underground water table. Kind of neat since the use of pavers do not leave lasting marks on the space where they are placed over.

Think how far this city has gone from the two department stores that I first knew: Triple O Mart along J. Rizal Avenue, just a stone’s throw away from the Immaculate Conception Parish; and that Indian-family owned store near the Puerto Princesa Pilot Elementary School — sobrang layo na.

Yesterday, a lot of us were just dreaming about having a SM City that’s got it all for us. Well guess what, now it’s a reality.

Truly, they’ve got it all for you!

Antipolo’s Art Oasis

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PINTO ART MUSEUM

THERE IS A place in the craggy urban foothills of Antipolo, Rizal that I suggest you visit when you’re in Manila because it is a fertile spot for everything art.

The place is called Pinto Art Museum being managed by the El Refugio Arts & Sciences Foundation, Inc. at 1 Sierra Madre Street, Grand Heights Road, Antipolo.

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Antique cylinder phonograph.

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Isn’t this little man just the cutest as a preternatural art piece?

HOW TO GET THERE

I was staying in Makati when I went there with a friend. So, from where I was, here’s what can help your direction problem. Apparently, this is the fastest route to the place even under usual traffic.

  • Get on Carlos P. Garcia Avenue/C-5 from Kalayaan Flyover and 32nd Street
    • Head northeast on Makati Avenue towards Pedestrian Lane
    • Turn right onto Paseo de Roxas
    • Turn right onto Buendia Avenue/Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue
    • Keep left to continue on Kalayaan Flyover
    • Continue onto 32nd Street
    • Keep left at the fork to continue toward Carlos P. Garcia Avenue/C-5
    • Keep left, follow signs for Pasig and merge onto Carlos P. Garcia Avenue/C-5
  • Follow C-5 and R-5 to Ortigas Avenue/Ortigas Avenue Extension in Taytay
    • Merge onto Carlos P. Garcia Avenue/C-5
    • Take the ramp to R-5
    • Continue onto R-5
    • Turn right onto Ortigas Ave/R-5
  • Proceed/continue on Ortigas Avenue Extension Drive to Sierra Madre in Antipolo
    • At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Ortigas Avenue/Ortigas Avenue Extension
    • Turn right onto Grand Heights Road
    • Slight right onto Sierra Madre Street

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WHAT’S THERE

Paintings are the most commonly displayed art objects inside the museum, but exploring its other galleries would also bring visitors to very interesting and uncanny two- or three-dimensional representatives, and other art works.

There are functional decorative arts (antique and modern collectable items); framed photos from years past; installation arts that can really transform a visitor’s perception of maybe any space where they can be presented; and a lot of prints that you can tell are original and not photographic duplication.

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It’s not tiring to move from one gallery to the next since it is surrounded by pocket gardens. Shade trees that keep the sun off and make the environment cooler are also everywhere.

And if you’re really, really tired and you want to rest your feet, they have beds placed in inconspicuous spots in these small gardens. You can sit on them with your favorite afternoon cooler.

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In conversation.

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One of the galleries I like the best has rooms that are particularly engrossing. The first room we entered holds about 6 or 8 miniature sculptures of women in conversation with soft music playing and female voices that actually talk in the background. Anyone entering should be making little or no noise so they don’t disturb them.

Be aware. There’s even a reminder for silence in this room.

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The other room is “For Adults Only.” This room holds the nude visual arts that are not for those who would cringe at the sight of a woman’s bare body on top of a man on a canvass.

My friend and I didn’t speak with each other while inside this room. If there’s anything, I was having a conversation with myself as it reminded me about that one particular conversation I had with an artist a long time ago.

This guy, whose name I forgot, talked to me about Pierre-Auguste Renoir being his favorite artist, especially in the portrayal of feminine sensuality.

I look at a nude. There are myriads of tiny tints. I must find the ones that will make the flesh on my canvas live and quiver. – Pierre-Auguste Renoir

He said Renoir’s paintings, which explode with vibrant lights and intense colors, make really, really beautiful art out of intimate and straightforward compositions that normal human beings would not appreciate as many are dogmatic about nudity.

I didn’t grasp what he was telling me then because then, I wasn’t into art so much. I was young and naive about paintings and all that, I was only interested in reading novels.

But… why not nude art? It’s beautiful, anyway.

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The Pinto Art Museum simply behaves like a maniac where the expression of human creative skill and imagination is concerned.

OH, BY THE WAY… IT HAS A RESTAURANT

Yes, the museum has a restaurant that serves food to anyone hungry after going through the galleries. It is, for me, something all museums should have.

I’m not a big pizza eater, but the one we ordered with Vigan longaniza was an unforgettable taste. I can’t get over it. The garlicky and salty flavor of this prided longaniza, and the oil it packs after frying… all goodness in the mouth!

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Pizza with Vigan Longaniza

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A title like “Truffle Fries.”

So, whenever in Manila, think: the malls are not the only places to visit. Give them the cold shoulders for a while; Antipolo is nearby, head there, and visit Pinto Art Museum.

L Element Asian Fusion Cuisine

Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.- B. Frankel

THERE’S A NEW dining place in Puerto Princesa that serves authentic Asian fusion cuisines, and it’s called L Element Bar & Seafood Restaurant owned by Manila businessman  Laurence Lau.

Laurence is a Filipino entrepreneur, whose mother is Malaysian. He was born in the Philippines, but grew up in Hong Kong. Yes, three countries that love to cook, and are food capitals in the world’s largest and most populous continent.

So, why not a restaurant that serves traditional dishes from these three countries, and maybe more like Vietnam and Taiwan.

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SEAFOOD TOFU SOUP

In this city, and I could probably say anywhere else in Palawan, there is simply nowhere to go when it comes to your favorite bona fide Asian fares. Most times, your Chinese stir-fried noodles is frustrating for the reason that the restaurant where you had it couldn’t cook it the way you wanted it cooked.

At L Element, you have to try the Taiwanese Beef Noodle with Barbecue Sauce because it is simply the best. The noodles are not mushy and oily, and the chef was generous enough not to scrimp on the beef meat as one of the main ingredients.

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BEEF IN BLACK PEPPER SAUCE

Another dish I enjoyed so much at L Element in the three times I had been there so far, is the Beef in Black Pepper Sauce. Three times there, three times ordered the same dish because the meat was tender, and the bite of the black pepper sauce on your palate is really habit-forming.

It’s beyond explanation why I love it.

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VIETNAMESE FRIED SPRING ROLL

Another best-loved Asian cuisine there is from Vietnam, the Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls that is pleasingly crispy outside and firm on the inside. One of the restaurants in Puerto Princesa that serves this really good is located in Sta. Lourdes.

So, it’s nice that when you don’t have a lot of time to travel far, there’s a place nearby that offers it on its menu.

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CRISPY & JUICE FRIED CHICKEN

The photos of the food I posted here are those I have already tried at L Element. If you get the chance to see its menu, you’ll find that there are more to choose from. I, myself, have to try the recipe the chef has for crabs as I am also very fond of crustaceans.

Next time!

However, the Beef in Black Pepper Sauce… I wouldn’t be raving about it if it’s not a dish that more than satisfied me.

If you’re planning to visit Puerto Princesa soon, and you’re looking for a place with Asian fusion cuisines that are flavorful and easy on the pocket, then don’t miss L Element Bar & Seafood Restaurant.