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Dog Wash Weekend – Grooming for a Good Cause

The House of Queens had an excursion this weekend to Bonifacio High Street to support : Grooming for a Good Cause.  It is a fund raising campaign for  the Animal Kingdom Foundation.  Midori just got washed that morning, so Char Siew was the “sacrificial” lamb.  Char Siew just turned three and a half and has completed his prerequisite vaccines – which means that he now can get washed and groomed like a grown up dog.

The dogs had fun since there were a lot of other dogs in the event.  The humans enjoyed making fun of the other dogs who were dressed up for the event.  I guess you can say that we are not fans of dressing up a dog.

Here are some photos from the fun day.







New Bombay Then Prince of Persia

Today we were at Podium to watch the Prince of Persia.  The movie was awesome and brought back memories of playing the game.  Of course there’s an added bonus of seeing Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role.

Prior to the movie, we were hungry and found an outlet of one of our regular Indian restaurant in Podium.  We usually go to the branch at Columns.  It’s been a long while since our last Indian Meal so we decided to have lunch at New Bombay.

This time we tried the Goan Curry.  It was our first time to try the Goan Curry (which had cashew in it).  If you have not tried it before, please do and if you want to have a real Indian food experience – don’t go for mild.  Try at least the Medium to Hot flavoring.


The other dishes we had for our meal included our regular Cheese Naan, Paneer Makhanwalla, and Raita.

The meal and the movie was a GREAT combination during a non-eventful weekend.

Diary Entry 2009 – I Love the Nightlife

It is 11:00 AM and typically I should be asleep at this time, recovering from the previous work day and energizing myself for the next work day. Technically speaking, I should actually be referring to it as a work night. I as well as the other citizens of the queendom work nights, this is why the house of queens is actually quiet during the day with all the blinds and curtains drawn to allow us to sleep while the sun is out.

I have been following this schedule for the past couple of years. In my previous job, I worked between days and nights depending on which client I have to work with.  Our parents, family and friends have gotten used to this schedule. However - when we all started with the night schedule - it was a big concern for everyone.  My parents were concerned about our safety, our health and our sanity. However - after years of working nights - all of us recognized that as much as it was an inconvenience when we started, one can actually still live a quality life with this otherwise odd schedule.

There are definitely some pointers for someone who works nights to ensure that it does not become the bane of one's existence. These are some of things that come to mind:

1. Vocabulary and terminology is important. When I wake up and have my first meal - I refer to it as breakfast. The meal that I have at midnight is lunch. Before I sleep when the sun is just coming out - I have dinner. This is important especially for meals because it does provide one a semblance of normalcy even if it is an abnormal lifestyle.

2. Get as much sleep as you can. I have noticed that I require a lot more sleep during the day compared to sleeping at night. Let's all accept the fact that our bodies are meant to be awake during the day --- thus getting a little more hours of sleep helps our body to recover. This means less time for TV. I remember that I used to go to bed at 12 midnight when I worked days. Most of the time I just waste it by watching TV. Now that I work nights --- I spend less time with TV and just go to bed as early as I can.

3. Take your vitamins and eat well. It is also important to hydrate. All around - it just means living a healthy lifestyle.

4. On weekends, spend time with your family and friends when they are awake. What we usually do is we stay awake on Saturday. Sleep in the afternoon through the evening and wake up early Sunday. This way we don't fully disrupt our schedule but still take advantage of the DAY off.

Take note that this schedule also works well for Midori. During the day - she is secure that we are actually in the house with her. I do spend some time playing with her after I walk her in the morning. She then spends the rest of her day with her Nanny. At night when I wake up - I have a little bit of playtime with her and put her to bed as I prepare for work. My sister is also in the BPO business and has the same routine and schedule with my niece.

Wowowee is starting --- you know what that means - it's almost noon. It means I have to go back to bed. Catch you all later at sunset.

It’s Time Everyone Flies

Cebu Pacific is becoming one of the Filipinos’ favorite airlines.  They regularly offer fare sales which allows a lot of our countrymen to visit not just the local destinations but also international destinations.  Our trip to Coron was booked in November 2009, when Cebu Pacific had one of its crazy fare sales.  We actually spent 2,000 PHP for fare including taxes.   I have another trip to Japan for which we spent almost the same amount.


For those of you reading my blog entries on travel – you may actually think that I’m very comfortable flying.  That’s far from the truth.  I don’t have any phobia – but I do get anxious every time I fly.   The odd thing is – I actually prefer the smaller airplanes which doesn’t have to go too high – thus the flight time is significantly reduced.   Of course – when I go for long haul flights – I’d rather have the big jumbo jets.

To overcome my fear – in our last trip to Coron, we took some great pictures from the airplane window.  Here are some of my favorites:

1) The fish pens of Laguna de Bay


2) Taal Volcano – trying to capture a picture of the volcano within the lake within the volcano within the lake


3) Apo Reef


4) Another Airplane on the tarmac


5) The Coron Hills


Climbing Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas is the highest point in the town of Coron.  When you get to Coron, there are three activities that the locals will suggest: Island Hopping, Maquinit Hot Springs, and a hike up Mt. Tapyas.  During the House of Queens’ vacation, we did all three.

Climbing Mt. Tapyas really means climbing up 740 steps to the observation deck. It’s a challenging climb if you are out of shape but I’ve seen even old people and children complete the climb. You can complete the 740 steps in a leisurely pace – just don’t push yourself hard if you feel shortness of breath.  The last thing you would want is to end up in a hospital while on vacation.

Once you get to the peak of Mt. Tapyas, you are faced with a breathtaking view of Coron Bay.  You will see the town of Coron – as well as the actual Island of Coron and the other auxiliary islands at the bay.  Doing this at sunset or sunrise can provide a large number of opportunities for good pictures.  Of course, I took dozens of them during the climb up,  at the peak, as well as the way down.  That’s actually one of the things that you must remember when doing this activity – do not just wait to reach the peak – there are plenty of opportunities to get a glimpse of heaven while on your way up and down.

These are my favorite photos from Mt. Tapyas.  For me, these photos seem to say that at the peak, heaven does seem a lot closer.

The Main Course and Dessert at C

Blogger’s Note: This is the third and final installment of the House of Queens’ review of it’s visit to C Italian Restaurant in Angeles Pampanga.

For the main dish, we ordered the Spaghetti Frutti de Mare and the Prawn and Chorizo stew served with Fusili.  The sea-food pasta was good – but the Prawn and Chorizo stew was to die for.  The dish was very generous with the Prawns and each one is again fresh and sweet.  The Chorizo was cooked to a crisp – and we actually thought that it was bacon – really good bacon.



Dessert, I must say was a bit of disapointment.  We ordered three of them – and only one out of the three was good.   The home made Gelato was good.  However, the Creme Brulee and Panna Cotta didn’t seem to be prepared well.  They were a bit “mushy” for our taste.



Dessert aside though,  I would reiterate what I said earlier: C Italian Restaurant is the best Italian Restaurant in the Philippines.  I think I found a regular restaurant destination north of Manila.  ( Blogger’s note: My restaurant destination in the south is Antonio’s in Tagaytay ).

The Starters at C Italian Restaurant

Blogger’s Note: This is the second of three parts on our recent visit to the C Italian Restaurant in Angeles Pampanga.

Our meal started with three appetizers.  I know that this may actually sound a lot – but since it’s an hour to two hours drive from where we live to this restaurant,  we were willing to try whatever dish we can. 

We ordered the Panizza topped with Scallop flakes and shrimp.  The waiter was kind enough to allow us to have half of the Panizza served without shrimp because one of us is allergic to small shrimps.  The Panizza is served with Arugula and alfalfa sprouts.  Note – if you have tried the Dear Darla pizza at Yellow cab – this one is similar to that but ten times better.


The other dishes we ordered were the Garden Salad and the Prosciutto Melon.  The key to a good salad and prosciutto is FRESH ingredients.  I can definitely say that we were served the freshest ingredients.  The prosciutto ham was not salty – which is what we typically find in the Italian restaurants in Manila.  The Garden Salad is not extraordinary – but still worth trying.  However, we did have an afterthought that we should have tried the Ceasar salad instead.



Italian in the City of Angels


We have heard of great reviews for the C Italian Restaurant in Angeles Pampanga.  However, we have also heard someone say that it is a great Italian restaurant if you are from Pampanga – but if you’re from Manila – you will find it ordinary.  I took that comment with a grain of salt.  I’m not Kapampangan but I know that this province is the home of great cooks --- so if only the Kapampangans think it’s GREAT --- then I would tend to believe that the restaurant has a lot to offer.


I tried the restaurant last weekend – and I must say that I will agree with those who RAVE about the food.  If you are from Manila?  It is definitely worth the drive and I will even say that it’s the best Italian restaurant I’ve tried in the country.

C Italian Restaurant is located along Friendship Road of Angeles City.  The House of Queens is actually quite familiar with area because one Queendom citizen lived in the city for a short period of time.  It is owned by an Italian who made the Philippines his home.  For those who have read my review of other restaurants, you will know by now that I judge a restaurant by its food,  the service staff, and the ambience.  I will definitely rate all of these highly.


In this picture, you will see plates which are signed by famous people who have raved about the food in the restaurant.  Part of the fun is reading through these plates while waiting for the staff to prepare your table.

Blogger’s Note: The rest of The House of Queens’ review of C Italian Restaurant will be divided into two parts.  Drop by again to read about the dishes we ordered.

Finally! Dinner at Aubergine

Dinner at Aubergine has been in our plans at the House of Queens for over a year now.  Until last night – we had been unsuccessful in including it in our schedule.  Last Wednesday, after coming back from vacation, I learned that the CEO of our company is in town and I, along with the other local executives in the company will be joining him for  dinner.  The choice was Aubergine.  I was excited because I can now cross it off our list.

Dinner with the big boss was great.  I was sitting at the right side of big boss which meant that I was the token host.  We learned a lot about the interests of our boss – which apparently included cooking great meals and decorating.   That was a refreshing topic of conversation and I was happy that we were not confined in our conversation with the usual business topics.


Anyways, I digress – this blog is about Aubergine.  My general impression: it’s a good casual dining restaurant with fine dining selections.  Call me snooty – but for me – fine dining requires patrons to dress up and it also requires the service staff to speak in hushed tones.  Of course – in the Philippine setting – both would not make a restaurant successful and the usual formality that comes with fine dining is lost.


The service staff was very helpful.  They even asked me if I wanted to go inside the kitchen and take pictures.  Of course I said yes.  I was not that comfortable though because I know that it’s a busy kitchen and I don’t want to be a burn victim if by a result of my klutziness, I end up being in the way of the kitchen staff.  They also noticed that I was taking pictures of the menu and they offered to just give me a copy of the menu.  All very helpful.

Most of the people in our dining party opted for the Degustation menu.  My overall verdict on the meal: separately, the dishes may be good, but as a meal, I didn’t feel that each course complimented the previous course.  For me, the flavors were just not cohesive.  The biggest disappointment I had though was that they didn’t offer wine pairing.  We did order a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine.  The selection was from the big boss – so I wasn’t able to capture what we ordered.  They were good wines, but again – they didn’t seem to blend well with the flavors of the dishes.

Aubergine Pictured above are the dishes in the Degustation Menu.  From Left to Right. First row: duck foie gras and ox terrine with port wine jelly along with the salad; Madeira flavored duck essence with duck confit crepes; pan seared scallops.  Second row: Campari-orange sherbet, Grilled Chilean Sea bass; White Chocolate Fondue Cake with berries.

I guess you are now waiting for my verdict.  This I will say,  I will come back to Aubergine to try their Chef Specials.  Those seem to be good.  I also looked at their menu and it seems like there are other items that are worth trying.  As I said earlier, the dishes were good separately – but I do not think that the whole Degustation Menu had cohesive flavors.  The meal costs 1,950 PHP ( around 40 USD ).

Coron Gateway Hotel – A Review

Planning for the trip for Coron, we were looking for a decent place to stay.  The problem we had is that most of the places that are written about in blogs are lodges.  Excuse me for sounding snooty – but for vacations – I want to stay in a hotel so I can have all the comfort that a hotel brings.  Lucky for us, in one travel magazine, we stumbled upon an advertisement of Coron Gateway Hotel.  It’s new and reviews that we found in a couple of travel blogs were fairly positive.   Moreover, we did find the price attractive: 11,000 Pesos (around 200 USD) for a 5 day four night stay inclusive of all meals, airport transfers and a tour of Coron Island and other local Coron town sites.

The hotel was our home for five days – and my verdict: it seems to be the best that the Coron town can offer.  The resorts and hotel which are better are located in Islands or away from the town.  However, service and the location has a lot to be desired.

Here is a picture of the room that we stayed in:

It actually has the same design as a hotel we used in our last Bangkok trip.  There are auxiliary windows from the bath which one can open to have a more spacious view of the room.

The view from the deck is also wonderful.  It actually stands on reclaimed land and they made sure that you get an awesome view of the Islands at Coron Bay.

The hotel staff, including the resident manager are all polite and helpful.  However, it seems like if you leave a reminder ( example wake-up call ) at the front desk, they don’t seem to act on it.  Good Customer Service is unfortunately one of those that are missing in the hotel as well as the other establishments in Coron.  Coron Gateway Hotel is already one of the establishments we’ve been in with better service.  The House of Queens actually have to remind itself that we are on vacation and we should clear our minds of negative thoughts.  We were generally successful in that – but we do hope that it improves for our next visit.

The hotel also comes with a restaurant.  Food is fair – but we actually thought that we can’t eat squid for every meal.  On our second night at the hotel, we were going to be served our fourth squid dish and we opted out.  We ordered a different dish and the restaurant actually did not charge us for it recognizing that we weren’t too happy with the regular squid dish.


Pictured above are a couple of squid dishes we were served.

One last word of warning.  When we read the review of the hotel, we were fully aware that the hotel is close to the town market.  What we did not realize is that the market is actually located behind the hotel.  This means that if your room is located at that side of the hotel,  you can expect the usual WET MARKET smell when the veranda doors are open.  Another peculiarity is being awakened by squeals of pigs in the morning while they were being brought to to the slaughter house.

At the beginning of this post, I did mention that when we were searching for a place to stay for our Coron trip, Coron Gateway Hotel was the best choice.  We have seen the lodges and the other hotels – and for the size of its room and the amenities it came with,  I still think that it is the hotel of choice within town.  I just hope that what we were told about the public market being relocated does come true.  Otherwise – it will definitely be a hard sell for tourists to book a hotel next to the public market.

The Animals we Met in Coron

The trip to Coron brought the House of Queens closer to nature.   We saw exotic creatures and plants in this trip.  However,  we also encountered household creatures like dogs, pigs, chickens, cows, etc.   Throughout town, we see chickens crossing the street.  That always triggers a chuckle – and prompts me to ask, “Why did THAT chicken cross the road?”.   It is customary in farms or rural areas to be awakened by roosters – but from where we were staying, we were awakened by pigs being brought to the local public market.
In Calauit,  I have shown the pictures of the GIraffe and the Zebras.  However – there are other local animals in the reservation.

Here are some pictures of animals we encountered in our trip to Coron.

This cat was roaming the grounds close to the Maquinit hot springs.  Those small stumps that you see surrounding the cat are parts of the root of the mangroves which can be found around the area. 

These brother and sister puppies joined their humans in their Island Hopping adventure.  It must have been a blast to go swimming with them in the twin lagoon.  When I saw them I also missed my babies: Midori and Char Siew.

A Family of deer.  It was hard to get a face picture of the deer because they go away when you approach them.   These are all youngsters and females.   The male deer have horns.

A family of Porcupines.  It was great to have the opportunity to be this close to porcupines.  It was my first time.  They were shy – and apart from one who openly greeted us,  all others tried to hide behind the bamboo found in their habitat.

This is the Palawan Bearcat.  It’s a nocturnal animal which is why it was only found way up the trees.  I had to max-out the zoom capability of the camera to take this picture.

There are two alligators in this picture.  One in the foreground – and you can see the tail and part of the head of an alligator underneath it.   There are half a dozen alligators in the Calauit Conservation park.

We were trying to gently coax the turtle to come out of its shell.

This is a relative of the local Civet (or Alamid).  Like the Bearcat it’s a nocturnal animal so we are actually disturbing it during our visit.  This is something that I’m truly sorry for because I know how it feels to be woken up during the day while I am asleep.

Lovely animals.  Looking at these photos makes me want to go back to Coron to visit them.

Back Home From Coron Adventure


Coron is a town in the Island of Busuanga.  It is also the name of an Island close to Busuanga known for its awesome sights.  Like many tourist destinations, the introduction of budget airlines has increased interest in traveling to places like Coron.  I am actually amazed that within an hour flight,  one can escape the hectic life of Manila and reach paradise.

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I just got back from a five day vacation spent in Coron.  We have booked the flight back in November when Cebu Pacific had a fare sale.  Including taxes, I paid 2,000 Pesos for my tickets ( That’s 40 USD ).  For our accommodations, we found and ad for a new hotel called Coron Gateway Hotel.  This also turned out to be a bargain – a five day four night stay which included tours – cost me 11,000 pesos ( 245 USD ).

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The five days of vacation was different from what we usually do.  This trip demanded a great deal of physical activities.  Island hopping around the island of Coron brought us to great snorkeling, swimming and hiking sights.  One moment we will be swimming with the fishes and the next we are on top of the limestone cliffs.

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For me though, the most unforgettable experience is our visit to the Calauit conservation park.  The close encounter with the Giraffe, Zebras, Elans, and the other animals left a great impression.  The warm fuzzy feelings brought about by interacting with these animals nudged my intention to live a Green life to be a bit stronger.


Now I’m back in Manila.  This is a place that has a stark difference from where I came from.  Back to the daily grind but the break from the island paradise of Coron definitely brought some spiritual high.