Archive for September, 2011

29
Sep
11

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

Tina and I were astonished this Thursday afternoon upon seeing one of my friends’ posts in my own facebook wall. She shared a video she found uploaded in youtube with our wedding photos (not one, not two but many!) together with some other foreign couples’ pictures over David Pomeranz’s love song! The thing is, we don’t know the person who used our photos and uploaded it on the video-sharing website. We would have appreciated it more if she/he asked permission to use our photos and we would have granted him/her our sweet nod. But I must state, Gabby was happiest to watch that video with his parents’ wedding photos.

View it HERE!

PS : Because some of the photos were not uploaded anywhere, neither in our online wedding album nor on my social networking sites (this blog, fb & twitter), the person who created and uploaded the video must have been so resourceful with a good taste and great sense in choosing our photos among so many other married couples around. hahaha! Thank you but next time, please ask permission. It’s called courtesy and ethics, in case it slipped your mind. *wink*

25
Sep
11

IN A KEDAI KOPI

As parents of an almost 7-year-old wonder boy, Tina and I always consider Gabby’s preferences whenever we eat out (read: he’s like our big boss). We frequently ask him of what he likes before deciding where to dine. Are you the same when you go out with your own kids or nephews and nieces? Good thing with Gabby, he knows what he wants despite he’s a littly picky when it comes to food but has been keen on his favorites. He’s very particular with what he eats, like he wants his pizza with only cheese and no other toppings (the four-cheese pizza tops his list).

At home, he eats some veggies; he likes kangkong whenever we have sinigang (sour broth) on our table. Gabby eats practically most greens and fruits that we offer him. But whenever we go out, expectedly like kids of his age, he usually craves for fast food meals.

You can just imagine whenever Gabby gives his nod for us to try other food places over Mcdonald’s and Pizza Hut…

Some few months back, while we’re walking at Lebuh Chulia in Georgetown, we found a seemingly ordinary looking Kedai Kopi (coffee shop).

We’re a family who likes Starbucks Coffee and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf but beyond their frappuccinos in venti, we also enjoy some bites from these coffee shops, even from coffee nooks less famous and commercial than those two.

There’s always something special about simplicity; about places where pretentions do not exist, venues that allow you to be as casual as you are.

Inside Trois Canon Cafe, I found a charming painting of Shanghainese woman (kamukha ni Ate Vi, hehe!)…

Good thing I captured the menu on our table, without it I won’t recall the name of this hole-in-the-wall Kedai Kopi.

The menu contained a combo meal that passed Gabby’s taste : a thick buttered toast, oatmeal infused with maple syrup and milk and Milo ais (meelo iced!).

It’s great that this kedai kopi also serves a variety of all-day-breakfast meals; it gave me the chance to load my gastric pit. I picked from their menu something called East meets West combo : Oriental fried rice topped with fried egg, served with pork luncheon meat strips and frankfurter (yes, they’re non-halal).

While my lovely wife was content with her ham sandwich that tasted better than it looks on photo; the buns were slightly toasted with butter that made it different from the usual burger or sandwiches in common fast food joints.

I felt we also must try something that’s soothing; so I also ordered a warm bowl of beef noodle soup.

It was so good and too bad to resist.

The dining experience in a Kedai Kopi like Trois Canon Cafe would not be complete without trying their signature white coffee (actually, it came with my combo meal…)

We indulge once in a while but indubitably, we also like the simplicity in dining space and the delight in eating uncomplicated and affordable foods. And if Gabby says yes to it? It’s always icing on the cake!

24
Sep
11

NANDO’S

How often do you receive judgment before you eat?

Do you also feel some people easily label you by what you eat or drink? Neither I can blame them nor give importance to what they think. I know my palate so well that their words do not affect my appetite. But I had my widest smile upon receiving my ordered plate in one of our dinners at Nando’s. I almost burst into laughter after reading the label of the Lemon and Herb Chicken with “NOT SO BRAVE” tag. I cannot agree more! I and Tina (and Gabby of course) had developed the aversion to severely spicy food that others prefer. To each his own, I guess.

We had our very first taste of Nando’s from one of their branches near Botany Mall in Auckland, New Zealand when we stayed in that beautiful city with our family and relatives for 7 week-break in 2005. And since then, that flavorful flame-grilled chicken goodness remained a memory for a while until we enjoyed it again here in Penang.

Nando’s became one of our favorites and usually serves as one of our default restaurants whenever we feel like induluging a bit over affordable casual dining particularly when Gabby allows us to skip his fast food preferences.

“Nando’s is a restaurant group originated from South Africa with a Portuguese/Mozambican theme. Founded in 1987, Nando’s operates in thirty countries on five continents. Nando’s specializes in chicken dishes with either lemon and herb, medium, hot, extra hot or extra extra hot Peri-Peri marinades (properly known as Galinha à Africana). In some countries, Nando’s has other flavour options like mango and lime or Mediterranean.” (sourced via Wiki)

“Nando’s specializes in flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken. Peri-Peri is the Swahili word for the African Bird’s Eye chilli, a chilli indigenous to Africa.”(sourced via Wiki)

Without a word, you know who ordered this plate, and he enjoyed it, i think.

Gabby likes chicken dishes too but he favored those peri-peri flavored processed delights than those grilled ones. He paired it with a plateful of creamy chicken soup…

Now, children, altogether say, E S P E T A D A!  :D

“Espetada has been a favorite in Portugal for years. In fact, it has been rumored that it was one of Christopher Columbus’ favorite meals! Espetada means, “pierced”, referring to how the meat was pierced onto skewer. Undoubtedly, Espetada is the most famous dish to emerge from the Madeira region.”

It was quite an experience eating Espetada. The presentation was apparently appealing to the senses. I just felt short of its serving.

At Nando’s, there’s always a reason to engage in protein & carbo-loading
(as if we’re diet-conscious, hahaha! *evil laugh*)…

Tina and Gabby love french fries while I will dunk my fork onto potato salad at any given time!

We can’t handle too much spicy foods but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t try a little…

After all, we can always wash it down with cold beverages. Gabby’s iced Milo (or as they say it here, Milo Ais; pronounced as meelo ice) and iced tea never fail to be refreshing.

And end it with irresistible melt-in-your-mouth-textured-chocolate cake…

Regardless where we eat – be it on our humble dining table, at Nando’s or somewhere else, we make sure our dining experience is always simple yet memorable and less ordinary.

19
Sep
11

ABOUT LAST WEEKEND

This was how God greeted us last Saturday noon when we viewed Him from our porch…

It was a sunshiny day too perfect to go to the Island.  It was a long weekend, by the way, because last Friday, 16th September, 2011 was Malaysia’s 54th Merdeka or Independence Day! However, Tina and I were actually lazy to go out last Saturday and had psyched ourselves to spend it at home, rest, eat and do Grey’s Anatomy marathon (We loved Season 7 Episode 18 – the Musical episode of that Medical drama).

The plan to be a bum at home didn’t push through. I was too weak to resist Gabby’s wish to accompany him to the Island. OK, fine, I also shared the same thoughts with my kid. :D  So while Tina had her much deserved-rest at home, Gabby and I hopped on the bus, went to the jetty in Penang Sentral and headed to the Island…

Enroute to Georgetown aboard the ferry…

Round trip Ferry rides from Butterworth to Georgetown jetty cost RM 1.20 per adult (PhP 16.8) and RM 0.60 sen (cents or PhP 8.40) per kid. And you only pay once at Butterworth (so if you’re coming from the Penang airport or anywhere in Georgetown, crossing to Butterworth is always free).

Another very short bus ride took us here at Sweetenham Pier..

Gabby and I had the chance to board a 12,000 ton vessel and the boy was as excited as his dad.

No we didn’t go on a cruise! How we wish, but you certainly know we won’t board a cruise ship without our muse (Tina of course!).

We went to Logos Hope, the world famous floating library that took its maiden voyage to Malaysia this year; docked in Penang since last week of August and will leave for other parts of Malaysia prior to Singapore on 25th September.


“A community of 400 UNPAID VOLUNTEERS from over 45 nationalities lives and works together on board Logos Hope. With over 5,000 book titles bringing knowledge, help and hope to the world…” Absolutely it’s a unique and inspiring experience! :)

Has Logos Hope visited your country already?  Check it out…

Apparently, it already docked in the Philippine shores too but it took us to become expats in Penang before we get to experience it.

The little kid was so happy on board the floating library…

There’s a book for everyone, even if you’re looking for the most delicious ones…

Since this largest floating book fair travels through so many countries, book titles are priced in units and there are a charts provided that convert the unit prices into local currency…

Titles are so varied and mostly affordable.

Logos Hope has different sections, prior to the main book fair, there’s a “Welcome LifeBoat Theater”. There’s that “Journey of Life” that will surely melt your heart by merely looking at the illustrations on the wall; they tell story even without trying…

Those walls will make you reflect in a blink…It cuts through me.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite part of Logos Hope, the International Cafe where you can have ice cream or coffee or both, depends on how you were inspired by those books, haha!

Volunteers of different colors and hair-dos try to make kids’ visit to Logos Hope more fun and memorable; they even hand away colorful sculpted balloons…

Imagine the passion and dedication these unpaid volunteers have as they serve Logos Hope; truly inspiring…

I know I still have a lot of grains to swallow, but as a young father and a medical educator, I say it’s so easy for any fool to teach anyone to earn a livinlifeg but it takes a ton of passion and skills and dedication to teach anyone how to live a life.

I’m glad I accompanied my son to Logos Hope last Saturday. We both learned beyond books.

18
Sep
11

ON THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON

Today’s my 35th birthday. Thank You, Lord for everything, most specially for giving me Cristina and Gabby. Amen.

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updated @ 4:19PM  18 September 2011…

Who needs a fancy birthday party when I’m enjoying a great time bonding with Tina and Gabby?  I had the luxury to doze off after I left home at 6AM and went to public market to buy stuffs to last until the next weekend. Life is good.

And look what my lovely wife prepared and cooked for lunch…

Tina’s version of crispy birthday noodle is enough to complete the wish for longer & blissful life. Medyo maalat nga lang ang noodles, she needed to add water so it became a noodle soup dish after. What the heck, it’s still delicious! cheers! :)

PS : my blog’s hit couter just reached more than 300,000. thank you so much for the follow. it really means so much. Maraming salamat po! :)

17
Sep
11

SINGAPORE : MY LAST THOUGHTS ON OUR FIRST VISIT

Is there any other terminal in the globe cleaner than Changi airport? Educate me.

Call me shallow and easy to please but Singapore’s Changi Airport is just simply impressive!

Notoriously known for being almost sterile and so strict on implementing rules, Singapore’s orderliness works for them and for their tourists too (My wife and I are so envious and felt the Philippines and the Filipino people deserve such system too), and we’re just fortunate to experience it for the first time ever. Needless to say, our 4-day visit to Singapore was indeed a memorable and pleasant one.

From the spotless airport to its very efficient immigration service (read: our passports were stamped smoothly in and out), i cannot complain a thing.There’s just spontaneity in everything.

Where else can we find cleanliness meets creativity?

My family and I were happy to see lush green amidst the city’s most famous shopping district. Apparently, even the air and the atmosphere are being kept fresh and clean by all means…

In this very expensive city where almost all luxuries are within reach and really come alive right before your eyes, you have the options to splurge or guard your expenses tightly. And for a less seasoned traveler like us with a limited budget on our pockets, we’re left with frugality and being wise to maximize the experience.

Case in point : I booked our roundtrip flights via a budget airline (Air Asia), even waited for their promo rates months prior to our break. We decided to visit only one theme park with entrance fee and just opted to go sight-seeing at those tourist spots free for public. We deviated our ideas of shopping spree to trying their MRT and riding the bus, at times, taking the cab and of course exhaust all energies at strolling and eating! Hahaha! :D

But then again, I thought it’s  also practical nice to stretch the range of our vacation by experiencing best of both worlds. I chose to bring my family to both upscale and budget hotels for our accomodation.  And so our little dreamer, Gabby who aspires to be hotelier-restaurateur-chef someday had a unique dose of exposure.

We all loved Quincy Hotel Singapore‘s all-inclusive-concept, its hip and edgy amenities and impeccable service. At S$405++ (USD 327++ or PhP 14, 122++) package includes Airport pick up by a chauffeur and a Mercedes Benz E-class limo, buffet breakfast for 2, set meals for lunch and dinner + appetizer and salad spread, free flowing coffee, tea, canned soda, exclusively bottled distilled water, complimentary mini bar, cocktails at 6-8pm, Molton Brown, London toiletries and more cool benefits any guest would enjoy…

Happy to relied on tripadvisor.com Trendiest Hotel Travelers’ Choice Award 2011. Now, we are one with those tourists who have tried Quincy and have appreciated everything about it.

But our warm and safe stay in the budget-friendly, Strand Hotel on our second to fourth day in Singapore was also noteworthy.

Glad that I took the recommendation of fellow blogger, Cza to try Strand Hotel. It’s a good choice if you only need a decent place to sleep and keep your things during your travel.

Located at Bencoolen Street, Strand Hotel’s strongest point is its accessibility to bus stops, MRT stations, restaurants, convenient store and must-visit spots in Singapore. At S$160 nett (USD 129 or PhP 5,580) inclusive of Deluxe accomodation for 2, set breakfast + buffet spread of fresh fruits, bread loaves, noodle dish, sausages, cereals, tropical fruit drinks, coffee and tea.

On our first morning at Strand Hotel (day 3 in Sg), we ordered a plateful of french toasts with maple syrup for Gabby (S$6) because our hotel package only included 2 food stubs per day; we were then unaware that the breakfast spread (other than set meals provided for guests) is already sufficient for a kid’s first meal to jumstart his day. So the following morning, Gabby just shared plates with us.

The S$160 nett hotel package at Strand was really a value for money although I bet tourists would be more appreciative if they would do some improvements like updating their interiors a bit, changing their “welcome to the jungle-sort-of-theme” curtains and headboard to a more plain and simpler hues.

The choice of hotel accomodation truly depends on your preferences, travel needs, and of course, your allotted vacation expenses.

We may not have visited the beaches at Sentosa Island and were not able to watch the city’s attractions–Songs of the Sea and The Lion King musicale, didn’t ride the cable car, failed to go to Singapore Museums, Botanical Park, Night Safari and Zoo, passed on the chance to try the Singapore Flyer and the Luge, thus, these remain to be the reasons to find time and save money to go back to this beautiful city again soon.

All in all, it boils down to the fact that vacation need not to be too expensive neither it should be lousy and restrict you on having fun memories with yourself and your love ones. The possibilities of enjoying a break whether in Singapore or anywhere else is just limitless!

Beyond Toxicity’s Singapore Blog series includes:

16
Sep
11

SINGAPORE BY THE BAY

Can you guess where I took my shadow?

Those are the waves at the foot…..err the tail of the merlion…

Merlion has been iconic that a trip to Singapore would not be complete without a visit to its park. I don’t know with Tina and Gabby but I was in awe; it was actually bigger than I thought.

Across the statue of half-lion half-fish are a couple of structures equally worthy of admiration…

The Esplanade : Singapore’s theater for performing arts creatively built with shopping and dining complex, with fantastic architectural shape similar to durian; only more sophisticated looking than the tropical pungent fruit because it’s made of glass. Its waterfront location is just perfect to wait for the sunset in this side of Southeast Asia.

One of the luxurious hotels in the Lion City is The Marina Bay Sands, famous not only for its service, and noted spectacular amenities but it’s strategic location.

At our first sight of its magnificence, Gabby asked me, “Is that a boat above those buildings?”.  I replied to our kid with a smile, “It’s the Marina Bay Sands’ SkyPark, anak.” :)

Believe me, if Tina and I have the fortune, we could have brought Gabby to Marina Bay Sands to watch and marvel at the musical, The Lion King.

From the Merlion Park, we strolled to Esplanade via their sidewalk on the bridge. Had a dose of S$1-ice cream bar, watched the glorious sunset and went inside the Esplanade mall.

When dinner time came, we had to ask directions to Makansutra Gluttons Bay. A few steps more within the Esplanade Mall, we found what we’re looking for.

Our meal that night could have been cereal prawns or chili crabs but our Filipino palates became so biased with 1/2 kg of Liempo (grilled pork belly) from a Filipino hawker food stall in Makansutra. We coupled it with Seafood Fried Rice and downed everything delightfully! :D

These capped our day 3 in Singapore after we enjoyed Universal Studios.

Other than having the lack of budget for The Lion King, failing to taste cereal prawns and chili crabs, another little regret  I also passed the chance of trying to capture Singapore’s beauty at dusk in my lens but then again, it’s all because I prioritized bringing Tina and Gabby back to our hotel to rest.  At least there are a lot of reasons to go back to Singapore. It’s that fascinating!

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Beyond Toxicity’s Singapore Blog series includes:

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