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.

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Pho 88 Vietnamese Restaurant

DID YOU KNOW that in Vietnam, you can’t eat your food and then leave your chopsticks lying vertically over your bowl (or plate) of rice or noodles when you’re done?

Did you know too, that doing the same in China would contract-in-displeasure the eyebrows of the residents as it is how they position their incense sticks whenever present in ceremonies honoring the dead, or burying them?

Or something like that. I’m not too sure.

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A small bowl of PHO BO at Pho 88. It’s a Vietnamese rice noodle soup with fragrant herb leaves served separately with calamansi, and beef meat. 

Did you know further that if you don’t want to get in trouble with any of your Vietnamese friends (perhaps I should try one day just to make sure), then you must call to mind not to tap your chopsticks on your bowl for it will bring misfortune, and it means you’re convoking the dead?

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I HAVE TO GET ME ONE OF THESE. Tuong Ot Sriracha, or rooster sauce in Vietnam, actually originated from Thailand.  It’s made of “chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar,potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum.

It is really our own eating beliefs and traditions that matter. But of course, it wouldn’t hurt to observe and do as they do, right? When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Vietnam, do as the Vietnamese people do.

The reason I had to remember what I learned about the eating culture of the people of Vietnam was because I was with some friends in this new restaurant called Pho 88 along J. Rizal Avenue the other day.

Sometimes I have that habit of tapping my chopsticks lightly on the bowl when I’m talking about something passionately. But not always.

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Ha Chi Lhan, the pretty owner of Pho 88. The place does not seek attention where it is located so, one has to be really on the alert.

Pho 88 is Pho 88, according to owner Ha Chi Lhan, because 1988 was the year she started to work in a bank in the coastal city of Nha Trang in Khánh Hòa, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam.

It was her Filipino husband, who brought her to open Pho 88 after residing for a while in Silang, Cavite. The husband was not there to meet with us, but whoever he is, it’s good decision to bring Ha Chi Lhan to move to this city.

Another restaurant that serves real Vietnamese food is good news to me although in Puerto Princesa, there are about two I really love to visit once in a while. One is located in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, the other is in Barangay San Jose — quite far from where I live.

I wanted to order Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup) since its photo on the resto’s simple menu looked steamy and pretty with the chicken meat all lined up on one side, herbs on top of them, and a slice of chili.

But it wasn’t available; the kitchen staff apparently forgot to buy chicken from the market that day.

I don’t know. Tsk!

An old Vietnamese friend, who came to Palawan a few years ago as one of the boat people, told me that you can gauge the goodness of a Pho by the intensity of the flavor that’s rustled up in the stock while maintaining its clarity.

I wanted to prove. Unfortunately…

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This popular Vietnamese dish is not heavy in the belly so, go for it when you’re in Puerto Princesa.

Every time I go to a new Vietnamese place, I like comparing how each cook their Pho. This is the reason why I wanted the Pho Ga. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the Bun Thit Nuong cold noodles upon learning from Ha Chi Lhan that the noodles they used were imported.

Except for the meat and some spices that can easily be bought from the public market, all their ingredients are imported from Vietnam.

The food junkie in me couldn’t help but also order Banh Mi Thit Heo, bread with pork and veggies inside. Bahn Mi is all kinds of bread to the Vietnamese; bahn is bread and mi is wheat. Popular to them is the baguette or French bread.

So, if you’re in an authentic Vietnamese dining place, and you ask to be given Bahn Mi, and the food attendant asks you next what kind you would like to have, then you’ll know they can give it to you with different fillings. Pulled pork, fried or grilled chicken, barbecued pork, beef, and yes, even crazy tuna spread.

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VIETNAMESE ICE COFFEE: On Pho 88’s menu, they come in two blends — Cafe Sua and Cafe Sai Gon.

After our good and light meal, we couldn’t leave as there were still good stories to tell and laugh about. So, one of us decided to try Pho 88’s two ice coffee blends — Cafe Sua that uses the traditional French coffee drip, and Cafe Sai Gon.

Both blends use coarsely ground dark roast coffee, and they’re so good!

So, what sets apart Vietnamese cuisine from the rest of the others in Asia? For me, I think its really the amalgamation of spices, colors, love and passion of cooking, fresh ingredients, and the minimal employment of oil.

Isn’t it that Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest in the planet?

We went to Pho 88 at past 12 noon, and left around 3 p.m. because Wednesday is WOW date for all of us. WOW meaning Women of Wednesday.

I’m going back there for my Sriracha sauce.

Pho 88 is okay with reservation. Call them at 09271521706 and 09279378729.

 

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.

Food for Thought, Thought for Food

I’m thinking food at 9:46 p.m. — I forgot all about dinner because of the rain. I’m thinking Skybox, where there’s that wonderful Thai Lumpia (Spring Roll) in the photo below.

Fried Spring Roll @ Skybox Good Food, Good Times!

I’m also thinking about that Chop Suey I had at Sunburst in Dumaguete City, when I visited my brother and his family a couple of years ago. The veggies weren’t overcooked, and very crunchy, if you can describe it that way 🙂

Stir fried veggies with chicken and prawns @ Sunburst, Robinson’s, Dumaguete City

Cool and Tall

And finally, I’m also thinking about this tall, cool strawberry concoction and a cake (I forgot its name) from Isla de Kasoy Cafe adjacent Skybox. It’s so good! Thank goodness, I enrolled in a diet program 🙂

The Right to Food is a Human Right

I’ve been cleaning my external drive since this morning; I wanted to delete photo files that I do not think I need anymore so I can save space.

Then I found these 🙂

The Adobo sa Gata is basically adobo with coconut milk added to enrich its taste, and long green chili pepper for some medium hot goodness. It’s one of my favorites at The Gypsy’s Lair here in my place. Adobo is cooking pork meat (or chicken and beef) in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic with ground pepper. It got its name from the Spanish conquistadors, but the cooking process is entirely indigenous to the Philippines.

Adobo is a favorite Filipino dish in all parties — birthdays, weddings, baptisms, etcetera. It’s also a favorite easy-to-cook item of food that’s very good with rice. Some like to cook it dry, some like it with a bit of sauce to put on their rice.

Iced biko, on the other hand, is putting ice cream on top of the sticky rice dessert that is popular among Filipinos. When it melts, and its taste blends with the biko, it’s so good!

Biko is easy to make. One only needs malagkit (sticky or glutinous rice), gata ng buko (coconut milk or cream), and brown sugar.

The other one’s Chao Long (stewed rice noodles), a Vietnamese recipe that’s also popular in Palawan. It’s served with mint leaves, bean sprouts, chili-garlic oil, and very good with garlic French bread.

I have to practice my right to food. I’m thinking Chao Long… 🙂