List of 2015 Philippine holidays announced

2015, via the Official Gazette

(image source: The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, Facebook)

Kids and adults await with much excitement the official announcement of annual holidays, especially in the Philippines.The reason is understandable because we look forward to taking a rest or planning for those out-of-town or out-of-country trips. Having this list of regular and special holidays is useful because plane tickets are usually cheaper when bought a few months ahead (tee hee). Thanks to the Office of the President for coming out with your announcement five months early :)

2015 regular holidays

New Year’s Day - January 1 (Thursday)
Maundy Thursday - April 2
Good Friday - April 3
Araw ng Kagitingan - April 9 (Thursday)
Labor Day - May 1 (Friday)
Independence Day June 12 (Friday)
National Heroes Day August 31 (Last Monday of August)
Bonifacio Day - November 30 (Monday)
Christmas Day - December 25 (Friday)
Rizal Day - December 30 (Wednesday)

2015 Special (Non-Working) Days

Chinese New Year February 19 (Thursday)
Black Saturday - April 4
Ninoy Aquino Day August 21 (Friday)

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Seasons by Olivier Elzer

Seasons by Olivier Elzer was one fine restaurant we recently got to try in Hong Kong. It has just opened for a little more than a month but it is already busy with a lot of diners. Blame it on the fact that the head chef of the Michelin-rated L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Central has jumped ship to establish a resto carrying his name, at Lee Gardens in Causeway Bay. Seeing that we don’t always see handsome, youthful chefs around, Olivier E is as refreshing as the name Seasons, don’t you think? :)

Olivier E

Upon entering, you immediately get a glimpse of the staff working in the open kitchen. The bar set-up is rather informal compared to the other sections of the resto, but at least you get to see all the action.

Seasons

My friend Barbie Chan, marketing communications director of Sáv Hospitality treated me to lunch (because am always a lucky girl!) I trust her when it comes to knowing the hottest eating places in town and sometimes I hate her for not gaining a pound, lol. Here’s our photo while waiting for the food service to begin..

with Barbie

First to arrive was the complimentary bread basket with two kinds of butter. You just know a resto is good when they know their dough, but I had to resist from carbo-loading in anticipation of the three courses ahead.

Bread & butter

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#MH17 site : “the biggest crime scene in the world”

Update: Malaysian Airlines releases passenger manifest of those onboard MH17.
It also announced it will retire flight number MH17 for its Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur route. This will be replaced by MH 19 – AMS/KUL

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Like many others, am following with great interest the updates on MH17. Luckily, an old friend from the 1990s, former journalist Michael Bociurkiw (or BBQ, as we called him in Manila) is right there at the scene now as the spokesperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). I just have to follow his Facebook updates to know the situation in the crash site itself.

Here are some snippets of Bociurkiw’s interview with CNN last Saturday:

“We were able to see the tailfin and we counted dozens of bodies. We are starting to see decomposition.”

“Armed guards limited the amount of area we could observe. It’s a very difficult, complicated and dangerous environment.”

The news further quoted him as saying: “It basically looks like one of the biggest, or the biggest, crime scenes in the world right now, guarded by a bunch of guys in uniform with heavy fire power, who are quite inhospitable.”

Bociurkiw (@mikeybbq on Twitter) said the crash site of MH17 is in same area in Donetsk “where four of our international civilian colleagues were kidnapped more than a month ago.” He posted this photo an armed man guarding the place-

donetsk

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Airline employee and Pinoy family perished in #MH17 flight

I went to work this morning shocked that another Malaysian Airlines flight perished in midair near Ukraine. This can’t be true. How could another B777 from the same airline company be targetted? Are the days of flying as a safe means of transport over?

A few days before, a friend intimated to me that she was still flying Malaysian airlines because the probability of another MH plane going down or meeting an accident was nil. Like 1 in 11 million. Then the MH17 shootdown happened. It makes me think that travellers are entirely helpless from being protected against the double threats of war and terrorism. We can only pray.

Like most people following the news, I was interested about the identities of the three Filipinos onboard flight MH 17. Maybe they were seafarers or contract workers? I tried finding the flight manifest online but it seems the names haven’t been released yet.A little investigation on Facebook revealed that the fatalities of the plane crash included Budy Janto Gunawan, his Filipino partner Irene Nene Pabellon and their two grown-up kids Sherryl Shania Gunawan, 15, and Darryl Dwight Gunawan, 20. Budy is a long-time Malaysian Airlines employee stationed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Irene is from Quezon Province.

MH17

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Typhoon Glenda photos, 56 hours of no electricity & counting…

Friends and kin have been asking if my little family is fine in the aftermath of typhoon Glenda.

We have been surviving with no power for three days now :) The brownout started early morning of Wednesday (along with a cut-off in water supply) and I can only believe Meralco when they say it will restored by 10 tonight. I hope so… please give us a reason to rejoice this weekend! The water has come back but 60 hours (and counting) of no electricity is just so cruel.

Am still trying to figure out which was worse: Typhoon Milenyo or Glenda. I dug through my archives and found out that we were holed up in a hotel to escape Milenyo in 2006. It hasn’t been entirely hard with Glenda since we managed to settle in our second home for this weather episode but still – I and especially the kids – would like to return to normal life… grrr!

A neighbor wasn’t particularly lucky. This is just one of the very few photos I took of the Glenda aftermath because the situation is depressing.. Either your car is safe from the floods or it shields itself from the threat of fallen trees. None of the two options is appealing.

Untitled

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@samsungPH recipe challenge: win a Smart Oven + RT6000 ref!

Recipe challenge

We’ve partnered with our friends from Samsung Philippines to launch a recipe challenge which will give one reader of this blog a chance to win a Samsung Smart Oven worth at least P14,000. I’ve written about it in this post.

But there’s more. The winning recipe will be pitted with the recipes of two other participants in a cook-off end of July 2014 where a Samsung RT6000 digital inverter ref (worth at least P40,000) is at stake for the grand prize winner. The RT6000 ref is the perfect fit for the modern home maker because of its reliability, excellent cooling performance, efficiency, durability and excellent design. It’s an appliance you’d want to have in your kitchen!

Sounds easier than winning the lotto, right? All you have to do is submit your best, award-winning personal recipe to this page from July 15 to July 28, 2014.

The participating blogs for this contest are the following: annalyn.net, animetric.blogspot.com, kellymisa.com. Reader must submit only to one blog site to join.

Here’s the rest of the contest rules:

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Oishi Make Your Own Snack 2014

Oishi’s Make Your Own Snack event at the Glorietta 2 Activity Center was the highlight of our July 6 weekend. A few days before, I received the official invite which was in the form of a personalized giant sack filled with Oishi goodies. Who can resist? It was taller than my 4-year old daughter :)

Oishi

On that Sunday itself, my kids were more excited than me. It was because they knew that their crushes, Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo were going to be there.I can’t tell you enough how popular this celebrity tandem is, and it’s good that they’re Oishi endorsers. Glorietta 2 was filled to the max with poster-toting, screaming fans!

This was the crowd when people were just starting to arrive in the venue…

Glorietta 2

Okay, here it is: Kathniel! They did a song number.

Kathniel

The five members of Team O on stage (from left): Slater Young, Daniel, Kathryn, Elmo Magalona and Ramon Bautista.

Team O

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UP Town Center resto: Pinác Capampangan Cuisine

Kapampangan cuisine (or the cooking of the province of Pampanga) is one of the first I loved. There was this old resto in Malate called Mequeni which served great food but it has closed ages ago. So when an invite came from Ms. Angel Pelayo of Grandmomma’s Kitchen to try eating at her pet resto Pinác with other food bloggers, I said yes. Somehow, she got me at the phrase “Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine.” Coming from a political family in Candaba, Pampanga (a popular place to watch the migration of birds), Angel is showcasing in Pinác precious family recipes handed down through generations.Comfort Filipino food, no less!

First, Pinác is located in UP Town Center which is awash with a lot of interesting restaurants. Unfortunately, it’s far away from me. Imagine the traffic I encountered on week night rush hour just to go to Katipunan. This was the scene at C5-Kalayaan flyover..am sure some of you can relate :)

Kalayaan traffic

So I arrived close to 9pm for a 7pm appointment, and my colleagues were already eating dessert, LOL

Gladly, the waiter plopped down a plate of the lengua con setas, one of the house specialties offered during lunch (P255). Delish sauce plus mouthwatering ox tongue plus toasted garlic and vegetables..these were enough to make me forget that I was in purgatory earlier with the traffic.

Lengua at Pinac

And to wash away the tiredness, a refreshing glass of Cucumber Mint Dalandan Shake (P85).

Cucumber shake

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Raffaele Woodfired Pizza at The Bayleaf Hotel Intramuros

Like any resident of this Big Bad City, I have a love-hate relationship with Manila. My hatred for its chaos and viciousness at times outweighing my love for it. But beautiful places within the city make me keep the faith and believe that yes… perhaps, there’s hope for this seemingly hopeless place :)

My love affair with Manila was rekindled as we discovered this new restaurant called Raffaele Woodfired Pizza on the 3rd floor of the The Bayleaf hotel. First thing to love about this place: the ambiance. Plush chairs in bright colors complementing the view of the lush gardens and the Spanish-era fortresses that make Intramuros such a historic area.

Bayleaf

View of the walls

Props to the management for choosing an all-glass concept for the wall and ceiling of the resto. This used to be the hotel veranda. The view is simply precious, and I caught a glimpse of the Manila City Hall from the rain-speckled window.

Manila City Hall

After relishing our surroundings, it was now time to enjoy the food. We were first served the complimentary focaccia bread, and thanks to the chef for including their homemade ricotta cheese to go with it.

Foccacia with cheese

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OWL coffee giveaway is on – 5 winners! #OWLCoffeePh

Am the type of person who has to have a cup of coffee to perk me up in the mornings. But am finding out that good old 3-in-1 will do as am usually hurrying off to work and have to settle with instant gratification of my caffeeine cravings. The stronger cup of brew can come later in the day.

Coffee!

Anyway, I’ve been using local brands but was lucky enough to be gifted with packs of Owl Coffee for our consumption. I suddenly went into coffee heaven!

OWL coffee packs

OWL is a Singapore brand and there are several varieties to enjoy. My favorites are the 3in1 Strong and Kopi-C which has evaporated milk as its creamer, but of course in powdered version. There are also choices for the diet-conscious like 3in1 Regular Low Fat and Kopi Siew Dai with Less Sugar. I thought the most luxurious of the line is the Nanyang White Coffee, it’s rich and creamy but sweetened with coconut sugar so it’s healthier.

Not to forget, OWL also has a tea line! They have Teh Tarik in packets…it is like Singapore’s version of the milk tea, and the Soothing Brew Ginger Tea – a bit stronger in taste but reminds me more of salabat. Some of my officemates who don’t drink coffee loved the Owl Teh Tari every step of the way!

Now, here’s the good news: you can be one of the five winners of this blog’s Owl Coffee giveaway which starts today. Each winner will receive 2 gift boxes containing 1 full pack of coffee and 1 full pack of tea – flavors may vary, plus there’s a bonus sampler box too. The only requirement is that you must live in Metro Manila in order to win.

image001

Just follow our simple mechanics via Rafflecopter to join, and tell your friends how wonderful OWL coffee and tea is!

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