Category Archives: 9/10

5 Reasons of My Pleasant Stay at Novotel During Blogapalooza

  1. Location, Location, Location.

    Located in the heart of Araneta Center, the hotel is in the center of sprawling stores and business establishments in Quezon City. A leisure walk could lead you to Gateway Mall for shopping, dining and movie experience. It is right beside Araneta Coliseum where most of the big concerts and sports events are held. Transportation is accessible: it is 5 minutes away from the nearest train station and taxis, uber and grabcar rides are just a few click away.

  1. New, Contemporary, Clean and Stylish.

    My first impression of my room at the 7th floor was not only that it induces intimacy with its glass-walled shower room but also it is designed with comfort in mind. The clean contemporary design provides a practical turn of modern interiors to save space for maximum mobility. The bright room creates an atmosphere conducive to creativity and innovation.

Novotel Lobby

  1. Wide ranging selection Breakfast Buffet.

    Breakfast is a must at Novotel. You should not skip it. Our breakfast is served at the Food Exchange located at the ground floor of the hotel. It was a wide ranging selection of different cuisines namely, Filipino, Italian, American, Korean and Chinese dishes are served. Their pressed coffee did not fail to perk me up to be ready for the day ahead of me.

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My Breakfast Plate at Novotel’s Food Exchange

  1. Pool and Activity Center.

    Just a floor below where I was staying, at the 6th floor, the gym, swimming pool and tent activity center is located. This was the venue of Blogapalooza. There is also a poolside bar at the swimming pool area. The garden offer a green distraction of the bustling metropolis.

Blogapalooza Venue

  1. Miss Universe sightings. Oh, one more thing. On our way down to the ground floor, guess who we met? No other than, Ms. Stella Márquez Zawadski-Araneta herself. Novotel is the home of the Miss Universe – Philippines. This is where most of the Binibining Pilipinas winners will stay when they are in the City. You’ll never know who you will ride next with inside the elevator. It wouldn’t be impossible to see Pia Wurtzbach here.

Pia Wurtzbach playing with Novotel’s security dog. Photo by Novotel

 

 

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Autumn in South Korea

The fiery red, yellow, orange and brown leaves dazzle in autumn as if it is nature’s last beauty spectacle­ —a grand finale before it shall fall off to slumber, a seduction that even the most perfervid beach and sun lovers from the tropical Philippines could not resist.

We booked our tickets to South Korea a year earlier  to avail the promo fares offered by local airlines flying direct from Cebu to Incheon, South Korea. Our curiosity to witness the picturesque natural phenomenon of autumn foliage is never averted by the long wait. The little consolation, perhaps, was that we got our round trip tickets for P6, 000.00 only per person. A year of waiting would only mean an extra time to prepare and shop f0r perfect clothes for the crisp autumn season in Seoul.

Coincidentally, on March 17, 2015, the Republic of Korea announced the opening of its consular office in Cebu at the 12th floor of the Chinabank Building at the Cebu Business Park. The office can process tourist visa applications for Filipinos visiting to South Korea. This is a welcomed news to our scheduled trip. We don’t have to fly to Manila or hire a travel agency to process our tourist visa but the best news was that the Korean Visa is for free.

After an almost six hour flight via AirAsia we arrived in the chilly Incheon Airport at around 9:30PM. Immigration was swift and the baggage claim was fast.

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Arrival at Incheon Airport. Traveling on colder seasons requires bigger luggage 

From Incheon Airport there are several different ways to travel to downtown Seoul. The most popular ways include taking the Airport Railroad Express, Seoul Metropolitan Subway, airport limousine buses, and taxis. We took the cheapest and fastest way to get to Seoul by the Express Train on the AREX Line. We hurried to catch the last 43-minute train ride.

We arrived in Seoul Station at 11:00 PM. The station was already winding down for the day, calm and 10˚C. Perfect for selfies!

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Seoul Station. A few minutes before it will close for the day. 

Travelling today has not only been democratized because of the promo fares but also been customizable according to budget: from hotels to Airbnb condo units and homes, buffet breakfast to on-the-go food from convenient stores, rent-a-car to train rides.

This trip is a well-researched-budget-friendly-sojourn, a product of weeks of research for the best deals and price, the shortest route and the best time to go. Our main objective is to ensure that we will be able to cover at least almost everything.

We availed not only the colors of autumn but also the Korea Grand Sale which gave us 50% discount on major tourist spot destinations like the famous Everland Resort theme park.

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Seoul City at Night

Our Airbnb home is just a few steps from Seoul Station. It was in the center of the City. Our host gave us specific instructions on how to pass the two-tier digital security system to be able to access our room and beds. (Too bad, we were not able to meet them in person.)

It was a long day and we can’t wait to sleep with  5˚C outside temperature. I think we intentionally did not turn on our room heater just to enjoy the temperature at least tonight. Temperature forecast for the succeeding days is 0˚C and -4˚C on midnights.

Day 1: Seoul City Tour

Seoul City is quiet and very progressive. It has maintained to keep its traditions and heritage perfectly well that it is seamlessly integrated to the whole concept of the city. To see Seoul, one may take a City Tour Package, ride a bus or taxi and do sightseeing. But then again, this is a budget trip, so we DIY by taking the subway and doing some research on the best spots and their location to ensure we have the maximum number of places to visit and sights to see.

Stopovers:

  1. Sungnyemun Gate
  2. Gyeongbukgong Palace
  3. National Folk Museum
  4. Bukchon Village
  5. Tosokchun Sansam Baeanggeun Black Chicken Korean Ginseng Soup
  6. Myeong dong
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A few steps from our Airbnb Condo Unit is the main road of Seoul. We enjoyed the 15-minute leisure walk on the highway to Sungnyemun Gate.

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Our first encounter with the autumn foliage.

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How about some me-time to post some photos at FB?

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Day 2: Nami Island and Hongdae

Nami Island (Namiseom in Korean ) is imperative in any South Korea autumn experience. This moon shaped  island  is the location of the romantic Winter Sonata Korean TV series. It is here where we got the best shots of our trip.


And here are some of the best photos i have taken in Nami Island:


Day 3:  Inwangsan Mountain and Namsan Tower

In every trip, although we plan it to be a budget one, we made sure that we have at least a day to indulge to the fancies. On this day, we planned to get a fancy dinner on some flashy autumn clothes. While waiting for our dinner reservation, we took a train to Ingwasan Mountain to have a little exercise while seeing the city from afar.

A perfect city view from atop the Ingwasan Mountain where most of the Shamanist rituals are performed to please the gods and spirits. 

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A quick stopover to try a traditional Korean lunch. It was so good!

It is revolving and we are dinning there.

Day 4: Everland

Everland is the largest and most recommended amusement park in Seoul. It is the most animal friendly theme park I have been into. The animals are healthy and well taken cared.

Day 5:

  1. Sisters of Mary Seoul Korea
  2. City Hall
  3. Gangnam

I am a graduate of the Sisters of Mary School in Cebu. It was a privilege to visit the first Sisters of Mary School established in Asia.  The Sisters of Mary School is founded by Fr. Aloysius Schwartz who is now a candidate for sainthood. 

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At the fair, outside the City Hall.

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Day 6: Goodbye, South Korea
After a year, this trip remains to be a memorable one.

The mystifying  colors of the leaves glistening brightly under the sun while blown by the cold crisp winds induce inner peace like a tight hug of a friend that mends all your broken pieces. A reminder that sometimes even if you gave your best you might need to shed some of your colorful leaves to make way for new beginnings.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Heneral Luna

Heneral Luna Movie Poster

Heneral Luna Movie Poster

Heneral Luna wittily braved the prejudice of boring history films. With its hilarity and candidness, the same as that of “That Thing Called Tadhana” (2015), and the sincerity and gravitas found in “Jose Rizal” (1998), definitely you have to watch this epic masterpiece.

Directed by one of the best independent film directors of our time, Jerrold Tarog and produced by Artikulo Uno Production, the film is an artistic depiction of the story of a brilliant military man and Philippine hero, General Antonio Luna, as he leads the Revolutionary Army of President Emilio Aguinaldo at the time when Filipinos were at the crossroad of finding their identity during the Philippine-American War.

Amidst the levity of the screenplay are the sad realities of war at that time, but not so much about the enemies; rather the undesireable and undisciplined filipinos with shortsigthed vision of victory, the propensity of politicians to betray the country just to hold on to power, and the imperfection of a hero who we know as immaculate. And, as they say and quite obviously, history repeats itself.

Heneral Luna goes beyond history and eludes from rendering a hero stereotype. It charmingly challenges its audience to redefine modern day heroism; that it may not change the world but definitely the change the world needs.

NindotKaayo.com was invited to the advance special screening of Heneral Luna by Dakila, a group creatively building a movement of heroism towards social transformation in partnership with the National Youth Commission , Cebu City Youth Movement, and the Young Heroes of Cebu.

9/10 #EthysMovieReview #NindotKaayo #HeneralLuna #DakilangLahi

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Ayala Malls Style Origin 2015

A very impressive fashion show highlighting creativity and sophistication with the support of a superb model casting and really enjoyable and effective catwalk formations. This is the best Ayala Malls Style Origin: Mensweek to date. The collections of Carry Santiago and Philip Rodriguez are to die for. I want them all! 
   
    
    
    
 
  
Here is a little background about the back-to-back fashion shows.

On Saturday, July 11 at 6 p.m. men will find themselves welcomed into the fashion circle at Mensweek, which offers collections specifically created for the male style savant’s unique tastes and needs. Incorporating a sophisticated, masculine touch to the celebration of fashion and beauty are designers’ Rhett Eala, Sassa Jimenez, Bang Pineda, Gian Romano, Joey Samson, and Cebu’s very own Edwin Ao, Protacio, Yvonne Quisimbing, Philip Rodriguez and Cary Santiago. The students of Slims and College of Saint Benilde will also be presenting their own original showcases. 

On Sunday, July 12 at 6 p.m. revel in this year’s newest high street styles as imagined by trendsetting brands during the Highstreet fashion show. The community lifestyle showcase will feature Cebu personalities sharing the runway with top models wearing the collections of today’s hottest brands. Actors, Daniel Padilla, Kathryn Bernardo and Dominic Roque will join with the models on the runway. 

Don’t forget to use the official hashtag: #ayalamallsstyleorigin

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Beqaa is a must!

I have completed my list of Top 5 Best Cuisines in the world. The latest to add in that list that includes, Japanese, Italian, French and Thai is Lebanese.

In Cebu, there is one lebanese restaurant that stood above the rest, a kitchen you can recommend even to your finest and most discriminating guests. Beqaa Lebanese Kitchen is another gourmet restaurant from The Abaca Group which brought to Cebu some first-rate restaurants like Abaca in Punta Engano, Lapu-Lapu City and A-Cafe in Crossroads, Banilad. Beqaa is in Design Center, A.S. Fortuna St. (Pine Tree), Banilad, Mandaue City. It serves the freshest and best lebanese and indian cuisine in Cebu.

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My Nth Beqaa experience (but on a budget)

We kick-off the night with a sip of pomegranate shot and mojito. The marriage of the fruity sour pomegranate and Bacardi White is a sensation. The best foreplay for our porkless dinner.

Our appetizer is a mixture of meat and vegetables with hints of yoghurt and cheese. These alone set apart Beqaa from any other middle eastern theme restaurant.

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Cucumber Raita (Labmeh, mint and cumin) P245.00

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Arayes Lahme (meatband cheese filled flatbread) P185.00

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Arnabeet Mekleh (crispy cauliflower, tahini and chili) P265.00

Everyone is ready for the main dish. Armed with our forks, we dig in further with passion.

Kafta (spice minced lamb and beef with onions and parsley) P435.00

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Chicken Tikka Masala (mildly spicy tomato based curry with yoghurt)
Lebanese Garlic Riz (P95.00)

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For dessert we have Mohalabiha (coconut cream, vanilla powder and orange chutney)

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For a group of 3 the whole dinner was just P500.00 per pax. You can never be nearer to Lebanon than this with that budget.

Feel free to follow my orders. It wont disappoint.

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MOVIE REVIEW: That Thing Called Tadhana

“That Thing Called Tadhana” is an unexpected wandering by two sad —but not lonely—hearts with the intent to bolt from the past despite all wounds and heavy baggage. Every line in the movie is like an arrow piercing your heart tempered with the ever funny antics of Angelica Panganiban and the brooding and boyish charm of JM de Guzman.

It is a movie that needs to be seen by the world. It is the best Filipino version of Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy with a little inspiration from E. E. Cummings’ poem, “I Carry Your Heart With Me”. It was effortlessly romantic despite the absence of any kissing scene; funny without trying to be. Let alone the movie poster, which is taken from an airport scene in the film, tells you how polished this film is made.

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The movie provided a stirring start and with an even more provoking ending. It tells a story that even how dark, cold and tedious your night was, the sun always rises again — beautiful as the glorious Sagada Sunrise—to usher in a new day for your renewed heart ready to make and fight for your destiny.

8.5/10
#EthysMovieReview #ThatThingCalledTadhana

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RESTAURANT REVIEW: Kushiyaki Chikuzenya Japanese Restaurant

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After several visits to Kushiyaki Chikuzenya Japanese Restaurant, I can definitely say it is Cebu’s best Japanese restaurant.

The first time I had their Tonkotsu Ramen I knew I’ll be coming back for more. The firm noodles in pork bone soup seasoned with fresh milk, miso and other japanese spices are waves of flavors potent to cure your weary soul. (TIP: You can ask for free extra soup. Just be polite.)

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The special assorted seven kinds of sashimi (Jo Sashimi) platter completes the Japanese restaurant experience along with other staple food like sushi and tempura.

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In every Japanese Restaurant cleanliness is a must. The proper handling of the raw ingredients is of utmost importance. Chikuzenya champions that by maintaining an open kitchen, you’ll see your food as it is prepared.

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Located at the food avenue of Mandaue, it is close to home but trips should be planned wisely to avoid coming during heavy down pours, we all know the perennial flooding problem at AS Fortuna, right?

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They seem to be always full every time I visit, most with Japanese patrons probably because of the authentic Japanese experience. Reservation is therefore advised. Their telephone number is 239-8976.

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Progressive Dinner Idea: Cebuano Food Tour

Here is a tried and tested Cebuano Food Tour for the adventurous guests who want to explore  the Cebuano culture in the most immersive way possible. This was my itinerary when I toured a couch surfing chef from the United States on his overnight layover to Cebu.

Six (6) stopovers in one night for a budget of less than P1,000.00 per person, the guest can indulge with the Cebu’s finest food and sights in six (6) hours.

The concept is called progressive dinner. Wikipedia defines it as a dinner party with successive courses prepared and eaten at the residences of different hosts. Usually this involves the consumption of one course at each location. It is a variant of a potluck dinner which involves traveling. I modified it further, instead of residences the locations are carefully selected restaurants that compliments with the Cebuano Food Degustation theme.

THE STOPOVERS

  1. The Meet-up Place.

The meeting place could be in Ayala or SM or anywhere; what is important is you surprise your guest with the Cebuano brand of hospitality. May we suggest that you bring Dried Green Mangoes. It will open the palate of your guests preparing it for a gastronomical adventure ahead.

TIP: Dried Green Mango is an acquired taste but can be very addicting.

 

  1. Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly at The City Times Square

This is the only air-conditioned and decently furnished branch of COLB. It is also the only branch that serves Beef Stew or otherwise locally known as Pochero. For 70 pesos, this give other specialty stores which offer pochero a good run for their money.

For two persons, you may order half a kilo of Spicy Lechon Belly and one serving of Beef Stew. Your guest will have a taste of Cebu’s pride, a pork like no other – the Cebu’s Lechon Belly in the most Cebuano way of eating – by hands armed only with plastic gloves.

This meal will usually cost at around 200 pesos per person.

From Cebu's Original Lechon Belly Facebook Page

From Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly Facebook Page

TIP: Ask the salesperson to re-heat your lechon. It is best enjoyed when hot.

 

  1. The Chocolate Chamber

TCC is located at Pres. Quirino Street corner Magsaysay Street in  Barangay Kasambagan.

In keeping with our theme, the best choice would be puto and sikwate (hot chocolate) made from locally sourced cacao beans served in vintage ornate cups and saucers. Who would have thought sophistication and class could go well with sikwate?

Other artisan quality chocolates and desserts are also available. Local Chocolate has never been respected this much.

with Greg, the couchsurfing Chef from the USA

with Greg, the couchsurfing Chef from the USA

The puto and sikwate may cost around 150 pesos per person.

Now that you introduced sophistication to your guest, let’s turn it up a bit further in our next stopover.

TIP: The tablea chips are good pasalubong items in case you are bored with the usual danggit and chicharon.

 

  1. Blue Bar

Blu Bar is located at 1,000 feet high above sea level at the Penthouse of the Marco Polo Hotel. With a little help of their cocktails, go ahead and pretend like you are the king of the world and do it like a boss with your cameras. The viewing deck at the Continental Boardroom area provides the best vantage point for picture taking of the city lights.

photo from Marco Polo Cebu website

photo from Marco Polo Cebu website

My personal favorite is their Mojito valued at around P250.00.

TIP: Blu Bar is closed on Mondays.

  1. La Vie Parissiene

Of course you know La Vie Parissiene. Cebu tourists are always fascinated with the most affordable wines (cheaper than a venti Starbucks), cheeses and pastries under the most superficial cherry blossom trees. To their envy, the would even think of bringing the whole shop home. Thank to La Vie, for making Cebu night caps classy.

But we are not done yet. After the booze, I am sure you need more filling before parking to bed. Next stop is midnight snacks.

La Vie

TIP: La Vie Parissiene will soon open at the Ayala Expansion Wing.

 

  1. Larsians

It wouldn’t be a Cebuano food tour if there is no Larsian in the itinerary.

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TIP: Most of my guests love Chorizo de Cebu.

 

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The New Rustan’s Supermarket at Ayala Center Cebu

Have you been to the newest Rustan’s Supermarket at Ayala? The 2,800 sqm store designed by international retail artist Shozu Nitta was officially opened on August 9, 2014. It is located at the Basement 1 of the expansion wing of Ayala Center Mall. It is connected to the basement 2 parking with the nearest entrance and exit at the main gate of the expansion wing.

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Rustan’s Fresh Section

Rustan’s Supermarket once again raises the bar of what food shopping should be in line with its strong tradition of innovation, excellent customer service, and offering quality products,. It makes the grocery experience all the more fun and exciting for its customers.

The store is noticeably huge with a wider selection of specialty and gourmet items. My instant favorite was the Gourmet-to-Go, a station of guilt-free, low-calorie dishes for the health-conscious, and the fresh pasta bar, and its dining area. I found a new place to kill time at Ayala. The softdrinks are cheap at P23.00 and the sandwiches and salads are very affordable. One of the most awaited stall to open at Rustan’s is the famous Jafar’s Shawarma. You can buy your angus shawarma and eat it at the gourmet dining area too. It feels like I’m in a supermarket in Hong Kong or Singapore.

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Rustan’s Gourmet Section Dining Area

More international brands are on display. For example, I saw a number (maybe more than 10) of salt variety while cheking out some items like the exclusive specialty brands including Stonewall Kitchen, Waitrose, Casino, Casale and D’alla Costa, and local artisan cheese from the Malagos Farmhouse in Davao. I see more wines and cheeses too.

We all go to Rustan’s because of its Fresh Section for fresh meat and produce. And guess what, some of the meat and produce are even 100% organic.

Except for it’s minor air conditioning problem, Rustan’s Supermarket is perfection for food shoppers. I heard it through a grapevine that Rustan’s is coming near to my place. It is set to soon open its Oakridge Center branch on November 2014.

9.0/10

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