Monday, July 24, 2017

Hello Australia!

I'm traveling again and this time it is to a place I or the Clairvoyant have never been to before - Australia. I am now at Melbourne to participate at a symposium at one of the major universities here. Afterwards, I will have a couple of nights in Sydney en route to Manila. I have many friends and former students in both cities but will likely only have time to meet up with a few. I have a niece and grandnephew in Melbourne whom I haven't seen in 17 years so that's a meeting I look forward to.

We landed at Sydney Airport at 6:30 AM - just about daybreak

This is the first time I am staying at a serviced apartment instead of at a hotel. I found that it's less expensive, the location is great and the apartment allows me to cook (okay heat) and launder my clothes as it comes fully furnished with a kitchen and washer & dryer. I will definitely take note of these conveniences for our future trips, especially those with our daughter.

The view from my apartment

Obviously, I will be writing a lot about my trip to Australia in my future posts and these would likely include places, food and other interesting stuff about the land down under. Abangan!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mi Terraza resort in Antipolo City

To celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my in-laws and the 75th birthday of my father-in-law last week, we decided to have a different kind of celebration where family can enjoy catching-up over good food and some swimming. This time, too, it helped that we had additional conversation pieces in the views from the resort. 

Mi Terraza is located in the mountains of Antipolo City, Rizal, our chosen hometown, The infinity pool, terraces and porch affords a splendid view of Metro Manila. I'll let the photos

Infinity pool with a nice view of Metro Manila
The porch of the house is spacious and features really good seating areas
The living area has these two daybeds. Behind is the staircase leading to the 2nd and 3rd floors
View from the third floor
The grounds are expansive and you can do some grilling or eating outdoors. There's also a gazebo away from the house where you can also have a separate session (drinking?).
Here's a photo I took from the infinity pool of the cityscape of Metro Manila. The clouds helped make this a more dramatic image. No filters here for a photo taken with my iPhone 6.

Our daughter had a great time swimming together with her cousins. Our relatives also had a great time. Many of them inquired about reserving the place for future events/celebrations. We were lucky to have good weather so we were able to maximize our day at the resort. I guess it would be difficult to get reservations for the resort during the summer. Nevertheless, with the weather these days, perhaps the place would still make for a good venue for family or even office affairs like team-building seminars.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Strap replacement for a Swatch

I have several Swatch watches in my small collection. One is supposed to be a commemorative watch from UP's centennial in 2008. Such commemorative watches were the "in" thing a decade ago when different schools basically chose an old Swatch model that featured elements related to the school (usually the color so blue for Ateneo, green for La Salle, maroon for UP and so on) and had straps manufactured to match with the watch. Some strap designs are more wearable than others and in the case of the UP watch, it wasn't something you'd want to wear as an everyday watch. And so I decided to have the strap changed.

This Swatch is a simple one in terms of face design but features luminous hands and points corresponding to the hours
Water resistance is at 5 bar or 50m. It is a quartz watch and batteries are easily replaced using a small coin to unlock the battery compartment at the back.
I decided to go for a leather strap. This made the watch something I could wear for different occasions whether it be for casuals, work or even formals.

I think this Swatch cost me 5,000 pesos almost a decade ago. The price is actually a little but more than half that amount but this was an item for a fundraiser so it was worth it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A curious painting by Monnar Baldemor

A very interesting painting we had acquired together with the work by Manuel Baldemor is one by his son Monnar. We chose this one among several presented to us by a suki art dealer. The first thing that caught my attention was the central figures of a couple of ladies who appeared to be dancing or prancing about. It helped, too, that the colors were vibrant, happy. The photo below of the painting does not give justice to this work.

The piece reminded me of the works by Salvador Dali and even that of Pablo Picasso. I am not aware of whether the younger Baldemor was influenced by these greats but it is likely given their body of work.Recently, I saw a huge painting by Monnar at the Art Circle Gallery at UP Diliman featuring another lady but this time with lots of shoes and watermelons in the background. These elements interested me as these were favorites of our daughter.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chocolate review: Villars Smooth Dark

The wife and I saw a couple of Villars chocolate bars in our cache. One is this dark chocolate that claims to be a smooth one.

Villars Smooth Dark Swiss chocolate
Detailed information on the chocolate at the back of the box
The bar claimed to contain at least 56% cacao
Nutrition and expiration information on the bar
This chocolate is indeed smooth dark chocolate. The bitterness you'd like in a dark chocolate is there but the aftertaste is milder than most dark chocolates above 50% cacao that we've enjoyed before. I will remember this one for future purchases. I forget how much I got this bar for but it should be in the 200 to 250 PHP range. I think I got this in Santis, likely at their Corinthian Hills branch.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Watercolors by a Cebuano artist

There are two framed watercolor paintings at home. I also acquired them while on a trip in Cebu almost a decade ago. I forget the name of the artist but he was young and was introduced to me by Boy Kiamko who took the former under his wing. At the time, it seemed that the young artist, who was a college student then, was unsure about pursuing painting and needed some encouragement. The paintings depict close-ups of rocks and other items as seen through the clear waters of a river (stream?) in rural Cebu. These were of the more realism-style paintings that impressed. I thought then that the artist should pursue art as he obviously had the talent, and bought the two paintings to encourage him. I was traveling light at the time so there it wasn't a problem to lug the two framed paintings on the plane back to Manila.

The artist signed his name on each painting but I could no longer trace him or his subsequent works (if he did pursue painting) as I am limited by what he wrote on each painting: llauron. I've never asked his mentor about him so maybe one of these days I will. This wasn't in my agenda the last time I was in Cebu because I was vacationing with family in Mactan.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mother and child by Boy Kiamko

A painting in our daughter's bedroom is an abstract image of the classic mother and child. It is a work by well-known Cebuano artist Boy Kiamko. I got it the first time I met him, introduced by a common friend who also got some of his works.

Our daughter likes this painting as she understood what it represented and our explanation of its meaning to us. We have several mother and child pieces at our home including figures we got from trips abroad. I have another painting by Kiamko at my office. The subject of that painting is the jeepney.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Vietnamese painting

The Clairvoyant's second trip to Vietnam more than a decade ago yielded a few artworks including small ones that are now spread around our home. The small ones are mostly prints that we framed and hung in pairs. One oil painting stands out among that haul and which I feature in this post.

The photo above does not do any justice on the painting. It is really much more impressive and I always like to look at it from a certain angle and lighting when it seems to come alive. The brush strokes are also impressive for me who is not an expert on art. It currently hangs in our bedroom where it fits perfectly against our accent wall. I forget who the artist is but there's a certificate of authenticity with us somewhere in our archives at home. Also, we recently found that there is another work of the same artist that we have not yet framed. I will feature that as soon as its framed for better appreciation.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Lady with a flute Jay-R Delleva

Another favorite of our daughter is this painting by Jay-R Delleva. The painting depicts a woman playing a flower flute while hummingbirds fly around her. Our daughter sees her as some kind of fairy and so we keep it at that. The painting's quite large and for a time sat on the console table in our guest room until we cleared it for my in-laws who were staying over a holiday weekend. The painting is now prominently displayed at the landing of our staircase.

Check out the artist's other works at DeviantArt. Many appear to be whimsical, some playful, and others on the weird side. But all, I think, are quite the fantasy.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Girl with bubbles and gumamela by Jomike Tejido

I start July with another post on a painting we have at home. There's a large painting at home that's quite unique. We got this painting through a fundraiser a friend of the Clairvoyant was running. It got her attention as the painting reminded her of our daughter's fascination with bubbles.

Unlike other painting we have of oil on canvass or water color on paper, this one is acrylic on treated banig (a native woven mat usually made of coconut tree leaves). A few months ago, I noticed some damage on the banig as insects were able to bore through it. The holes were not noticeable but upon closer inspection and some magnification (in my case using a smartphone) you can see multiple holes in a classic case of bukbok. We contacted the artist, Jomike Tejido, who is an architect by profession, to ask him about how we can address this issue. He examined the painting and generously took it to repair the mat and retouch his work. He mentioned that he had not previously encountered this issue so he was also curious about what happened and how it can be addressed. One thing that changed in the painting when it was returned to us was that there is now a smile on the girl in the painting. The artist asked the Clairvoyant about this so it could be a happy image and we agreed on his suggestion.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chocolate review: The Freefood Co. Coco Dolce 65% Dark Chocolate

We picked up a few chocolates at the Philippine products and souvenirs section of Rustans at the Shangri-la Mall in Mandaluyong. Among those were a couple of bars from The Freefod Co. We have tasted one of their Coco Dolce line but it was their milk chocolate with rice crisps.

Coco Dolce 65% Dark Chocolate
Details on the chocolate are at the back of the box.
Here's a description of how the chocolate is produced using traditional methods.
Nutrition information and information on the maker

This chocolate retailed for 245 PHP (about 4.93USD) at the Rustan's Department Store. We came upon it as we had a quick stop to get something for a friend we were meeting for lunch. We thought that he would like some Philippine chocolates as he was vacationing here from the US. The chocolates come from Davao but we thought it was less refined in taste and texture compared to the Malagos chocolates we enjoy. Freefood is a young company as it was established in 2013 (according to the info on the box). It's a promising venture and there's certainly room for improvement. Perhaps they can benchmark against the really good chocolates abroad in terms of taste and texture? If they are are already doing it, I would suggest that they get more taste testers. Again, my point here is for them to at least be par with Malagos, which I believe is already there in terms of taste and texture.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Seifuku, Gil Fernando Ave., Marikina City

We have eaten at Seifuku several times but that was when we were still residing at a subdivision nearby along Marcos Highway. We have not dined or lunched there in more than 3 years. And so when my father expressed his wanting to eat Japanese food, I took him to Seifuku where I knew they had a good selection in their menu. Earlier, Tatay had lunch with my brother at a ramen restaurant. He enjoyed it but wanted to order others like sushi and sashimi, which the ramen restaurant did not offer in their menu. Unfortunately, my brother could not make our date that Friday evening so we'll probably be coming back at Seifuku so he'd know where he and his fiance can enjoy good Japanese food in Marikina.

Quick menu for their ramen promotion
The main menu is quite thick as the restaurant offers a lot of choices for those wanting to enjoy Japanese food
Sashimi and sushi are usually popular and we usually order salmon sashimi, which is our favorite
The menu contains a definition of the name of the restaurant as well as its short history in Marikina City.
Shake or salmon sashimi
Interior showing their display of spirits
Their kurobuta katsu was good though not as good as Yabu's or Ginza Bairin's
Their bento box was also good and should satisfy one's cravings for Japanese food.

We will definitely be back for lunch or dinner at Seifuku. They offer good food at reasonable prices for a full service Japanese restaurant. I think they are currently the best bet for Japanese food in the area outside of the Teriyaki Boys in Sta. Lucia and SM as well as the mainly ramen choices at Tamagoya.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Vietnamese dinner - Part 3

I interrupt my series of art postings with a retro topic. I was checking how many drafts I had waiting to be completed when I noticed there seemed to be one missing from the more recent ones I started writing. It turned out I left out one draft from way back in 2013 so this is like something I started 4 years ago that I now will try to finish. This draft was written when we were still residing at our old home in lower Antipolo.

The photos show the step-by-step process for making Vietnamese spring rolls. The Clairvoyant learned this together with a couple of friends while on vacation there.

Herbs and cabbage are carefully placed on the wrapper, which is made of rice
Rice noodles
Ingredients for the Vietnamese dishes
Beans sprout are washed in running water
Bean sprouts or toge
Ingredients for the spring rolls
Rolling the fresh spring rolls
Plating for the spring rolls. Those flowers are made of tomatoes.
The dip for the spring rolls with floating flowers made of carrots.
I asked the Clairvoyant if she could remember how to make the spring rolls and she said she probably has her notes from their Vietnamese food lessons stashed somewhere. We hope to find it soon and be able to enjoy some homemade spring rolls again soon.

A living room centerpiece by Manuel Baldemor

A major piece in our collection at home is one by popular artist Manuel Baldemor. We had wanted to own one of his classic pieces before but couldn't afford to buy even one of the smaller paintings we had seen at galleries featuring his work. He is perhaps one of the most in-demand artists despite the price tags on his painting. The loud whispers state that he seems to be an artist who's highly likely to become national artist one day. He certainly is prolific but the value of his painting continues to rise.

The photo doesn't give justice to how beautiful this painting is. It is our largest painting at home measuring about 3 x 2 feet without the frame. We believe it is a very good investment and it currently is a main feature of our living room. It is not as dominating though as our bookshelves across from it, which also has our collections of books and souvenirs from our trips here and abroad.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A family of three by Norma Belleza

Another work of art is one that graces our living room and definitely one of our favorites in our small collection. This oil painting by Norma Belleza depicts a family of three among fruits and fishes. It is a typical scene in many of the artist's paintings. We got this one within about a year after we had moved to our new home away from the flood-prone area we used to reside at. We like to think that the painting also expressed one of our most fervent wishes. That is, we had wanted to have our own child for a long time. Little did we know that at the time we got the painting that our daughter was soon on her way. :)

Our daughter loves looking at this painting. And she always points to the child being her with her Mommy and Daddy. She also likes to identify the different fruits in the painting. I like the painting for its bright (happy colors) and the Filipino features on the persons in the painting. It currently is grouped with the Antonio Ko and Amador Barquilla paintings I wrote about in previous posts here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, C5/McKinley

Once a week, our daughter attends Kinder Musik. We usually leave our home early so that we will not be hampered by traffic along our usual route. We always pass by the roadside Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) just after the Shell service station across from the Korean Embassy. This is along the northbound side of C-5. We finally got to go there last Saturday as we were quite early for school and wanted to have a snack prior to her lunch time class.

Counter and staff
You can choose a nice comfy chair or opt for a table at the side where you can catch up on work.
A view of the second level, which looks perfect for people looking for a more private place to meet or perhaps work.
Another photo of the interior

This CBTL is the coziest we've gone to. The staff are accommodating and even brought our food and drink to our table instead of the usual self service in their other branches. I wonder if they don't usually have a lot of customers considering their location or perhaps it was just that we were there on a Saturday morning rather than a workday.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jeepney by Amador Barquilla

It seemed appropriate for me to acquire a painting with the jeepney as subject. The jeepney is an iconic vehicle in the Philippines and a transport mode that has often been called the "King of the Road." I fancied one by Amador Barquilla in another auction for charity more than 2 years ago (we got the Antonio Ko earlier this year). The scene is distinctive of the jeepney, which is depicted here as filled with passengers. People are on the roof or hanging at the back (sabit), which are common sights especially in the rural areas. I like this painting, too, because the colors are so vivid and I am amused by the way people are illustrated, each apparently doing one thing.

This is the second painting with the jeepney as subject that we have acquired. The first one is an oil painting by a popular Cebuano artist. I will write about that in a future post.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Art work by Antonio Ko, Jr.

I remember the Clairvoyant first showed me a painting by the late artist Antonio Ko, Jr. when we were newlyweds. He had this series of bouquets of different colors that we liked so much we said we'd like to have one in the future. That future was not an immediate one as we couldn't afford to buy one despite what seemed to be reasonable prices for a piece. It took us about 14 years to finally own one.  We acquired it through a fundraising auction where my bid finally prevailed after a suspenseful process. The online stage ended with bids too close to call so that the painting went to the live auction stage. We couldn't attend the live auction but fortunately a good friend was there to place our bids. And here is our prize:

The oil painting is framed on antique wood that complements it perfectly. The photo doesn't do the artist's work justice as it is a complicated piece with so much texture that is a testament to the excellent brush strokes applied by the artist. It now hangs prominently in our living area at our home. It is beside another oil painting by Norma Belleza that we acquired earlier. I will write about other works we have acquired over the last few years including one from an artist who's paintings we admired and we had only dreamed of owning before.