Have always been curious about Makati’s Street Meet, a weekend night market at Paseo De Roxas. I kept seeing the teasers posted around Ayala Triangle whenever I walked from and to the hotel during an long staycation a month ago. For some reason the plan on dropping by kept being put on the back burner.
Finally last Sunday D and I were able to check it out. Street Meet Makati was set up right beside the Ayala Triangle park, in front of Paseo Center. A part of the street was closed off to traffic to allow for the different stalls. The mood was quite festive: Christmas songs were being played and the Christmas lights show was happening at the same time at the Ayala Triangle which added to the fun. Luckily most of the crowd was at the lights show. It was just us foodies hopping from one stall to another at the Street Meet.
There were various stalls to choose from, most of them offering free taste or samples. The first food that we bought was the Korean fish cake with soup – reminded me of the street food in Seoul. D got isaw, a local barbecue delicacy made of fish intestines. We also had takoyaki and coconut juice. For takeaway we bought frozen vegetarian gyoza and dimsums, and chili sauce. I wanted to buy bibingka, a local baked rice and coconut milk cake that is abundantly sold during the month of December. I ended up dropping the idea when the seller gave me a tired look and asked me to fall in line (when there was no one else). Oh well, that means I have to be on the hunt for a good platter of bibingka from elsewhere. Will let you know when I find em!
I dream of a world where every living being is respected, valued, protected, and live in peace. My wish for Mother Earth is for its beauty and cleanliness to be restored, so generations yet to come can live to see and appreciate it.
Because of this dream and wish, I support efforts and endeavors that promote sustainability.
Last Saturday I came upon a friend’s post in Facebook about The Green Fair. It was a collaboration of eco-friendly merchants with the aim of increasing awareness on actions we, buyers, could take to make a positive impact to the environment. It was happening the same day I read about it, and so right after my Minhwa class at BGC, I headed to the O2 Space at the RCI Building at Rada Street in Makati to check out the stores that participated in The Green Fair.
You Dirty Dog
Of course, this is the first stall that I checked out (I have been out for five days having gone to Sagada a few days before, and I was terribly missing my fur babes at home). First order of business is to get something for the boys. I refilled a bottle for the chemical-free, biodegradable dog shampoo in Oats scent. Other than dog shampoo they sell hemp chew toys which were 100% natural.
Tracy, the owner of You Dirty Dog came up with the business because of the needs of her 2 dogs, Ringo and Mo. Ringo has sensitive skin and is allergic to the dog shampoos out in the market, so they researched and formulated a natural shampoo that was suitable for his skin. Mo, on the other hand, would ingest plastic from the sturdiest of chew toys. So they used hemp to create chew toys as a safer alternative.
Refill and Beyond
Next stall that I checked out was Millie and Kris’ Refill and Beyond. They sell (by refills) liquid bath soap, fabric conditioner, laundry soap, and hand soap.
What I learned from Millie is that globally, millions of bars of soap are discarded every day. These are partially used soaps – some even used just once. What a huge waste! This, along with the fact that they themselves needed better ingredients on their personal soaps for their families, inspired them to create their brand.
They worked with a relative who is a chemist in coming up with a sulfate-free soap that yielded a good scent. Their fabric conditioner (which I bought through refilling my bottle) uses lavender scent, and the body wash uses olive scent (it reminds me of the Body Shop liquid soap that I have at home).
Greenpeace was there to provide informational talks. What I learned from my discussion with them is sadly, the Philippines’ Pasig River is now the second most polluted river in the world, and the Philippines is now also the third biggest ocean polluter following China and Indonesia. Heartbreaking information, and nothing to be proud of.
I’ve joined coastal cleanups last year and early this year. Every single time, I’m overwhelmed and frustrated by the plastic pollution on the coasts, and no matter how long I spend in picking them up, they just cannot be cleared. I know too, that even though we were able to clear up the beach, by the next day it’ll be overflowing with trash again. Greenpeace would do a brand audit on the top polluters from the coastal cleanup, and they would send their data to the big companies. Some of the big companies have responded that they would be researching for a better way to address the use of single plastic packaging, which is hopefully a good sign. I asked Greenpeace what they do to the trash that were audited, and I was told they return it to the companies and follow through on how these are being disposed or recycled.
Bini Natural Living
Bini sells organic products like essential oil soaps, jelly soaps, foot scrub, natural deodorant (paraben and aluminum free). They also have roll-on oils using essential oil. I was so curious about the jelly soap, it looked so colorful and soft I wanted to squish it. I bought a bag of pink himalayan salt for my DIY gifts.
Eco-products from other stores
I wish I had a bigger budget to use for the fair. I bought wooden spoon and fork from my friend who was manning a booth. They also sell wooden knives, pickles, reusable beeswax wraps, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and organic soaps.
Next to her stall is Kooky Koleksyon’s handmade accessories, some even using recycled materials.
There were also booths that sold bamboo toothbrushes, reusable straws and eco-bags.
I hope we have more of these sustainable products and brands coming together so they are more readily available in the malls and weekend markets (for those who opt to do the traditional style of shopping). Otherwise, there’s always online shopping to be able to reach stores like these.
Yesterday was my first time to go to the Veg Fest held at the BGC Arts Center in Taguig City. A couple of years ago I skipped this. I remember seeing the booths when I used to work in Eastwood in Quezon City, and I was just so busy I couldn’t spend time checking it out. This year, after volunteering at PETA I had the chance of not only being able to go to the 3rd annual Veg Fest, but also taking part and manning the PETA kiosk for a few hours. I started at 8AM and helped distribute the Vegan starter magazine, some stickers and flyers; talked to people dropping by inquiring about the animal adoptables, and the different animal campaigns; and putting on temporary tattooes.
I’ve cut off all kinds of red meat from my diet since 2011, after watching the movie Contagion (there was a short scene there that pulled my heartstrings – big time). Lately, I’ve transitioned to a more plant-based diet and it’s getting kind of boring because I keep making the same food over and over again. One of the challenges I have is the distance I had to go to be able to get some of my ingredients. They are not readily available at our neighborhood supermarket or at the nearby convenience stores. If I opt to skip cooking and just buy my meals, I’d also have to go far because not all restaurants nearby offer plant-based food. Sometimes I would daydream about the vegan burgers I’ve eaten in my travels abroad. We don’t have that many options here in the Philippines. Yet. So I was so happy when some people at the Veg Fest approached me asking me to sign a petition to include plant based options in Philippine fastfood chains and restaurants. I signed the petition of course, no questions asked.
Man, I was overwhelmed by the food options at the Veg Fest. They were so many, how was I to choose, knowing I get so full easily? I had to walk around two times to be able to decide – every time I go to a new stall I see something that beats the one/s I initially thought I’d get for my lunch. After much deliberation I ended up getting laing (dried taro leaves stewed in coconut milk) and veggie barbeques. I also got a bottle of Diwa Kombucha (strawberry flavor this time), some veggie chips and a scoop of dairy-free and sugar-free ice cream. For my takeaway, I bought frozen pizza so I can pop them in the oven before binging on Netflix.
In the Veg Fest there were also some stalls by animal welfare groups just like PETA. I was able to go to the CARA booth; and the ARF (Animal Rescue Family) Manila. There were also activities like talks and yoga.
I’m so glad to being part of the Veg Fest and look forward to more of these. This motivated me to check out the Mandala Park which is done Sundays at Mandaluyong – I was told there’s a lot of food options there too. What I saw from the Veg Fest also inspired me to learn more recipes so I can add more variety to my homecooked meals.
When I was in Melbourne, Saturday mornings are usually spent on grocery shopping at the South Melbourne Market. This place is quite accessible both by car and by tram. I like the market’s vibe, and there are many shops to choose from. On my last visit, I was quite pleased to find that most of us shoppers have our own eco-bags in tow.
Here are my top five favorite shops at the South Melbourne Market:
I mentioned in a previous blog that Melbourne is famous for its fantastic coffee. If you ask me what the best cafe is, I’d probably have to think twice – there are too many good ones! Padre Coffee is one of the most popular ones. For the longest time, my brother-in-law likes Padre Coffee and he was the one that introduced this to me. The place is usually very busy on weekend mornings and getting seats can be quite a challenge. Their latte is quite good.
One thing I like about most Melbourne cafes is that they support and encourage people bringing in their own cups. I used a KeepCup on my last visit to Padre Coffee.
Padre Coffee at South Melbourne Market
Padre Coffee latte in a KeepCup
Now what’s a good coffee without a matching yummy pastry? I was told the bread here was really good so I lined up one weekend morning to get a croissant and a chocolate muffin. Boy, was it so good I lined up yet again to buy more croissants to go. I didn’t mind the long (but fast moving) queue because I was distracted by the sight of the tempting pastries and the smell of freshly-baked bread.
Koenji Vintage is a thrift shop that sells cool, quirky contemporary Japanese apparel and accessories. My sister is a regular here, and she bought several dresses at affordable prices. Koenji Vintage’s friendly owners, Wil and Jane, opened their shop mid 2016. To date, this continues to be a go-to by sustainable shoppers and fashionistas alike.
For more details about Koenji Vintage, check out their website here.
Happy Place By Lola Berry
This is my sister’s personal favorite. If they feel like getting a healthy breakfast, Happy Place by Lola Berry is the place to go. They have a wide array of options to choose from. My sister likes trying out the different slushies with her usual smashed avocado.
Peppermint Mango and Grateful Granita slushies
Lola Berry’s Smashed Avocado
Food and Drink options at Happy Place by Lola Berry
A Saturday trip to the market won’t be complete without getting a bunch of fresh flowers for the house. Azalea provides beautiful local blooms that we just couldn’t get enough of. A visit to this shop always brightens the day and lifts up the mood.
So there you have it, my five favorite shops in South Melbourne Market. There are other shops for me to discover and explore, but I’d definitely go back all the time to these favorite shops whenever I visit the market.
For more information, check out South Melbourne Market’s website here.
Back in the day, Baguio was considered a summer destination. Because it is located at a higher elevation, it is cooler there than in Metro Manila. But then, a trip to Baguio took a longer time of planning and preparation – because the drive was about 8 hours. Now, thanks to the new highways connecting Manila to the northern part of Luzon, driving to Baguio takes normally just about a little over 4 hours.
D was always hesitant to go because he had been hearing horror stories about the bad traffic and the pollution. After months of convincing he finally agreed to drive with me to Baguio provided we go on a Sunday (with the hopes that tourists coming up for a weekend getaway would be going home to Manila by then) and I have to book a hotel away from the city center. I reserved our rooms right away before he could even change his mind.
So very early Sunday morning we drove northbound, enjoyed the views of rice paddies, took a couple of stops for breakfast and took photos of Mt. Arayat and some bridges.
We checked in at Forest House Bed and Breakfast, which was a close drive to Camp John Hay. Our room was cozy with an overlooking view of their backyard garden.
This was our first stop, because I cannot get enough of museums. And pretty much because it was also the farthest from the city so we drove there first. Bencab Musuem exhibits the works and collections of Ben Cabrera, a National Artist, renowned for his Philippine contemporary art. If not for D, I would have spent a whole day admiring the different paintings and artwork. We also spent time appreciating the view of their garden and koi, and the adjacent hills.
The Bell House
Walking inside Camp John Hay was reminiscent of what I saw Baguio as when I was a child. Though there are new establishments, it was not crowded and I am glad the place is still filled with hundreds of pine trees.
Inside Camp John Hay is The Bell House. My understanding is that it used to be a residence when the Philippines was still a colony of the USA. Nowadays it stands as a museum. It has an amphitheater next to it, which was beautifully lined with flowering plants. I had fun taking photos of the amphitheater.
The Bell House is big and the atmosphere inside was light and airy. D and I began exploring the house going separate ways. I was amazed at how the furniture was maintained and preserved. As I walked out the patio I pretended I was living in the 50s and wondered how I could have made each day productive without my gadgets back then.
There was also a secret garden next to The Bell House. I can’t recall if it was called ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’. We were just told by the museum staff to check it out so we did. It felt almost magical as I walked through the garden, with trees and mist enveloping us.
A visit to Baguio will not be complete without going to the market at the city center. Sure, it was crowded, but it wasn’t as crowded as, say, Mall of Asia or Megamall on a payday weekend sale. We could still walk comfortably around, though we had to be careful of our belongings because we had to, as signs around the market would say, Beware of Pickpockets.
We bought vegetables and fruit, which sell much cheaper in Baguio compared to Manila. I was able to get all my salad ingredients here. For fruit we got strawberries and native berries. We also bought jam and ube (purple yam). We took a Grabcar on our way from and back to the b&b because this is one part of the trip that D would not have the patience driving to. Traffic wasn’t bad but parking would have been.
Now going here entailed use of our car. Atop Dominican Hill is the old and abandoned Diplomat Hotel. The spooky facade and the mist surrounding the place makes it a popular go to by tourists seeking some ‘scary’ thrills. Its history is narrated next to the entrance. It was built by the Dominicans as a vacation house on 1913. It was then converted to a school and named Colegio Del Santissimo Rosario from 1915-1918. During WWII it served as a refuge for families and Dominican priests from 1942-1945. In 1945, the Japanese used it as their last stand until it was bombed by the Americans. After reconstruction, it became the Diplomat Hotel which operated from 1973-1987.
Laperal White House
Since we were in the mood for scares we also went to the Laperal Guest House. We passed this anyway as we headed to the Pink Sisters’ Convent and Chapel. One wouldn’t miss this mysterious-looking old white house. I heard ghost stories about this place, even saw some documentaries about it many Halloweens ago. Unfortunately they were closed at that time so we weren’t able to get in.
So those are my five favorite spots in Baguio. I’d say it was worth driving to, and though it wasn’t as secluded and pristine it was decades ago, I was still able to enjoy the sights, the food and the cool temperature with my D.
I quite enjoyed my recent vacation in Australia. All my prior trips were business-related, and with this one I got to spend more quality time with my sister. Also, for the first time, I got to go to South Australia to visit my brother-in-law’s family.
We drove Friday night all the way from Melbourne and arrived on the wee hours of Saturday morning. The drive was comfortable as we had several stops along the way. Because we were only staying for two days, we rested for just a couple of hours before heading out to explore the beautiful city of Adelaide.
First Stop: Glenelg Beach
Glenelg has a nice beach. It is only a few minutes’ drive from the city centre and is accessible via tram. My brother-in-law said that when he was a teenager, he and his friends would always hang out at the Glenelg Beach.
There are several cafes and restaurants, and we had brunch at the PURE Boutique Coffee Bar which was near the Glenelg Town Hall.
Overall I liked the chill, relaxed vibe of this place, and I liked watching people run with their dogs on the beach.
Shopping at Adelaide Central Market
With our eco-bags in tow, we headed off to do a bit of grocery shopping at the Adelaide Central Market. Though it was quite busy on that Saturday morning, I enjoyed exploring the place.
We first went to one of my sister’s go-to shops: Little Tokyo, which sells Japanese groceries and homeware. This is where she regularly gets her Japanese spices, snacks, hibachi and nattou from. She was so pleased when she found the rice crackers she loved in Tokyo here.
entrance to Little Tokyo
different items on display
Next, she brought me to a popup bookshop which sells vintage books. It was a delight browsing through their shelves – lots of interesting books of different genres. I could spend hours there.
books of different genres
lots of good reads
Lastly we went to the Goodies and Grains shop. I liked how they stacked their different products in jars and bottles and customers could refill their own-brought containers (lesser plastic use, yay!). They have a wide variety of items from honey, oil, coffee, nuts and so much more. This is where I found my new favorite flavored kombucha drink.
various spices to choose from
bring your own jars and bags for these merchandise
Free Exhibits at The Art Gallery of South Australia
After lunch we had time to check out the free exhibitions at The Art Gallery of South Australia. The museum has a beautiful building, and I was amazed by The Life of Stars – a stainless steel sculpture which is a permanent display at the main entrance. I like how it reflected the city.
At the time the Diane Arbus – American Portraits, and Tracey Moffatt: Body Remembers, were both on exhibit (from 14 July – 1 October 2018).
A Relaxing Stroll at Himeji Gardens
My sister has researched about the Himeji Gardens and insisted from the start that it should be included in our weekend agenda. We had to use Google Maps to locate the place. It turned out to be worth looking for because it was a picturesque garden – felt like being in a Zen oasis in the middle of the city. The Himeji Gardens celebrates the Sister City relationship between the Japanese ancient city of Himeji and Adelaide.
As per the sign at the entrance of the garden, two classic Japanese styles are combined here – the ‘senzui ‘ (a lake and mountain garden), and the ‘kare senzui’ (a dry garden).
zen oasis in the middle of Adelaide city
zen oasis in the middle of the Adelaide city
Entrance was free, and we spent about thirty minutes walking through the garden, listening to the sound of the birds and the water. I imagine if could spend a longer time there, it would be a good place to meditate, or sit and read a book.
Skyline View at Mt Lofty Summit
On Sunday, before heading out to Hahndorf, we stopped by the Mt Lofty Summit. Initially we planned on doing the trail, but it was closed at the time due to restoration work.
At the summit, we were able to see the panoramic view of the Adelaide skyline. There was a Visitor Information Centre and a gift shop, and I was able to purchase some souvenirs there. There was also a restaurant with a view at the summit.
So that was the highlight of my short visit to Adelaide. I’m so happy my sister and brother-in-law brought me there. I would like to get to know the city more, and perhaps spend a longer time there when I go back to Australia. Overall, I think the city was very charming, and I liked being able to go to different places like the beach, museum, market, parks which are all just within a few kilometers’ driving distance from each other.