3 Hidden Gems To Discover In Makati’s Poblacion Neighborhood

Yes, there are still places to explore in Makati’s own ‘Williamsburgos’. Poblacion is more than just the red light district. The neighborhood, just outside of the posh Rockwell Center, boasts a hodge-podge of culture, tastes, and experiences. My girlfriend and I frequent this part of the snobby financial district, because it is anything but. I love Makati, and I love even more that this part of town has glorious traffic on the weekends. It’s usually Car-maggedon the rest of the week.

This weekend, we stayed at the Element Boutique Hotel, Restaurant and Bar. 

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This place is just a tad bit pricier than our usual staycation places, and with the photos they have of it online, our expectations were fever pitch for this place. And at first glance, they did not disappoint.

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But the thing is with appearances (and I say this a lot), with the onset of Instagram and making everything look so ‘artisanal’ or ‘hipster’ even, a lot of restaurants and hotels are just that. Appearances. They forget that the word of mouth is still the best form of marketing, and sad to say, Element was one of those places. I couldn’t say much about the restaurant as it is on the very pricey side, but the hotel had nothing special about it (I mean, they didn’t even have coffee in the room for fuck’s sake!). This was sad, because I really wanted to like this place.

Rating: 💣💣

As Element’s restaurant prices were obviously for the men and women with a more discriminating taste (meaning it was expensive as hell), we went out for a stroll to look for something to eat. We wanted something different, this was evident with my GF’s want for Chinese food. That rarely happens.

Lucky for us, we didn’t have to look long. Right down the street from Element was LSQ Chinese Home Cuisine. 

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It was so cool because it had all the makings of a legitimate Chinese restaurant. I loved it, and for an hour that we were there, we were instantly brought back to Hong Kong (the only China we’ve been to — so far.)

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In stark comparison to the feels the restaurant gave us, they served Northern Chinese & Sichuan cuisine. Not Hong Kong. The food was served timely, and they didn’t have soy sauce or calamansi for the dumplings we ordered. They only had black vinegar. It was so legit, but also feels kind of dirty, but that’s why it was fun. Seriously the best Chinese food out of Binondo. We ordered Beef and Kutchay Dumplings (💣💣💣💣 by itself,💣💣💣💣💣 when dipped in black vinegar!), Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Yang Chow.

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Rating:💣💣💣💣

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We met up with our friend, Christine, on the second night and went to Bucky’s. You might have seen them at your nearest Toby’s Estate, but they’re more than just brownies (that aren’t brownies, apparently). We had Beet Salad, Fried Chicken, and Baked Ziti with Ragu.

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I’m not a mashed potato kind of person, but the ones that came with the fried chicken, I could rave about (💣💣💣 bombs)! The Baked Ziti was the star of the show though. I’m lactose intolerant, but I couldn’t keep my chill with the Baked Ziti with Ragu (💣💣💣💣 bombs! Super must-try). The Beet Salad was also great, but I’m not a fan of beets, but I loved that this salad came with pistachios and goat cheese!

Rating: 💣💣💣.5 bombs!

Overall, the weekend was one for the books, we’d recommend to pull off a staycation in Poblacion. More than the hidden gems here, there’s so much more the neighborhood has to offer, and then some.

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5 Ways To Enjoy Baler If You Aren’t A Surfer

Don’t get me wrong. Surfing is still (one of) the best thing(s) to do in Baler. But aside from the usual, if you aren’t into the sport, you just want to explore the island of Luzon, or you’re craving for a roadtrip, Baler is the place to be.

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1. Its a good opportunity to bond with your crew. I mean, any kind of travel is, but with places as far off  (but not far enough to fly to) as Baler, it is awesome to pull off a roadtrip. The average travel time (give or take traffic hours) is 6 hours. Word of advice though: Have two designated drivers at the ready, and those who can maneuver the sharp turns when nearing the province of Aurora. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

2. Visit the 600-Year Old Balete Tree. During the day, because legend has it that this tree is the favorite chill place of unearthly beings. But the cynic that I am, I thought, with this much tourist traffic visiting the tree, why would anyone (or any spirit/duwende/tikbalang/etc) want to live anywhere near it?

With 600 years under its belt, why wouldn’t you like to see it? (Spoiler: it’s huge.)

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3. I didn’t get to visit the falls, because 5,000 people were there. (Imagine all the bodily fluids mixing around, good lord.)

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But they say that the Dimatubo Falls is a wonder to behold. I guess on lean season, like this photo I grabbed from Google.

4. Eat! Baler is famous for Paco Salad and various kinds of seafood — and they all have that at the Beach House at Costa Pacifica.

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They also serve nice pugon pizzas, their tacos and cocktails aren’t half bad. The food is great, and it’s the best place for some #views.

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Costa Pacifica Address:
80 Buton St., Sitio Labasin, Sabang Beach,
Baler, Aurora, Philippines, 3200
Contact Numbers:
Telephone Number: +632 519 4249
Mobile Number: +63 917 844 8371
Email Address:
inquiry@costapacificabaler.com

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5. Stare into the ever-moving seas. Channel you’re inner favorite Moana character and stare at the edge of the water — Baler’s Sabang beach isn’t exactly the whitest, most ‘pristine’ in all of our country’s breath-taking beaches, but it isn’t because it’s fod lounging around and shit. It’s a surfing spot.

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Overall, it’s kind of a really nice beach to chill in, and to learn/try new things (i.e., surfing). The crowd you’ll find are mostly locals teaching surfing, surfers, and the hipster-nation. If you’re on the blog, you’ll most definitely want to go there now (I hope). Peace!

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3 Things Not to Forget this 2017

If I may be allowed a moment of personal reflection – 2016 has almost completely sucked for me, mostly in the financial department – the company I worked for decided to close January, failing to start my own business at the first quarter, not finding a job on the second quarter, partnering up with the wrong people to start up a business on the third quarter, and finally setting up shop on the beginning of the fourth quarter. Here I am now. Spending a really nice two-week holiday at Hong Kong with my girlfriend, Chi. This is a big deal, finally being able to spend freely like this. I am nothing but thankful.

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Looking up from our apartment balcony in Sai Ying Pun

Ok, back to the article – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region – a vibrant urban center, former British colony, major Southeast Asian port, and global financial hub. But for the local millenials of the Philippines, Hong Kong is the nearest Disneyland Resort,  and (sometimes) the cheaper venue to splurge-shop (see Fa Yuen Street and Temple Street Night Market).

We went on the road less travelled – alleyways with kiosks selling Cantonese fishballs, and noodle soups, and small knick-knacks we can bring home. Monasteries, temples – where people don’t flock, we visit.

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Chi, standing outside a noodle shop at Queen’s Road West at the Sheung Wan District

In the 15 days that we were here, I found that these things should never forgotten this year, and forever:

Continue reading “3 Things Not to Forget this 2017”