Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nokinoc: Dining Spot in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan

So, this is one of my Palawan Treasures segment. Situated in Palawan's center (beside Corazon Tourist Inn) is Noki Noc.

Noki Noc Savoury House
A Palawan staple whenever I'm at Puerto Princesa because the food is affordable, relatively cheap and good. 

When I say cheap, I mean fastfood cheap. The prices are fair in relation to its bountiful serving.

Chicken and Palabok combo for 99 pesos.
You get a quarter of a chicken (e.g. an entire leg), some atsara, and a cup of rice for 99php. Fried chicken combo with Palabok also cost 99php. Not bad, right? 

And--not that it matters--water is free.

Water's free...
Oh, just a word of caution while eating their liempo meal: get a knife. I had a hard time slicing through the piggy portion when I ordered it (along with baked mac).

If I remember correctly, this probably cost between 99 php to 129 php
Mmmm... Baked Mac.
If there's one thing I didn't like while eating at Noki Noc, it's the Chocolate Mousse (95 php). It was just too rich and too sweet for me. I could barely finish half the cup.

It's a little too sweet for my taste, but I'm sure couples and groups of three would be fine finishing this large cup of Chocolate Mousse.
This said, I wouldn't mind gorging up a dozen Silvanas (35 php) because they got it made just right.

My favorite Noki Noc dessert cost 35 pesos and is worth every penny!
Bottom Line

Noki Noc is definitely a nice and convenient place to eat at. Sure, it's no Kah Lui or Kinabuch's, but the wide viand selection should put the pickiest eater at ease. It's cheap. It's bountiful, and the food's not bad.
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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Starbucks Coffee Southpoint, SM City Iloilo Review

I know, I'm the worst person for judging Starbucks Southpoint in SM City Iloilo. But this is still the worst Philippines Starbucks branch ever.

This is what "Dagdagan ng extra whip cream sa taas." means. Starbucks Southpoint will charge you an extra 20 php for something that's normally given for free.
If you've gone to other branches, particularly the ones in Ateneo, Marquinton, Eastwood, or even Gateway, you'd definitely understand what I mean.

Perhaps the top picture wasn't as clear on the amount of whip that their frappes could normally have. This is how Starbucks Frappe is served in Starbucks Marquinton in Blue Wave Marikina.
Even the fucking Starbucks Drive Through understands what "Dagdagan mo ng whip sa taas, ha!" means.

Just in case, someone decides to ask for proof that Starbucks Marquinton did not charge me additional for "Extra Whip on Top".
Sometimes, I can't help but question the Southpoint's staff's exposure in this kind of environment and quality service.

White Mocha, Dark Mocha, Choco Cream Chip, and Java Chip
If anybody's wondering why I'm not comparing Starbucks to local cafes, it's because Starbucks is known worldwide for consistent quality and excellent customer service. If people won't start demanding what is rightfully expected from a branch, that branch will end up with substandard performance and a crew that will continue to believe that their worst is good enough.

Starbucks Philippines
bad Starbucks experience
Starbucks coffee
Starbucks whipped cream
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Advent of the Bicycles in the Philippines

It’s everywhere, folks. Bicycle lanes here, bicycle rides there.

There’s no denying that Filipinos have the healthy gene in there system. Since more cities are promoting healthy lifestyles, providing walkways, park recreations and more bicycles lanes, it just makes perfect sense to get a bicycle of your own. Even in our own village, the number of bicyclists and bicycle enthusiasts has increased by a tenfold. Yes, those little stainless steel frames with square baskets hanging upfront are now a trending health item.

Bicycles... I’ve seen pink ones, blue ones, and even orange ones. Aside from the now-popular Japanese bikes, there’s also the ones known as folding bikes.

My sister’s officemate has a Pacific folding bike. His health regimen includes biking long distances along the busy roads of Metro Manila (Pasay in particular) and eating four eggs a day. Unlike most enthusiasts however, this person takes his folding bike to the office with him. He uses it to travel with in his free time. You would think Metro Manila was his playground.

His usual bike routine includes going through long distances with his beloved bicycle. Once he gets tired, he stops, folds his bike, and hails the next jeepney he could fit himself and his bike in to go back to his starting poing. He’s been doing this for more than a year, and the fruits of his exercise has paid off—just like John Lloyd’s new hobby has done wonders to his body.

The Many Benefits of Using a Bicycle to Travel

1. Biking builds and tones your muscles. It’s also a great way to increase your endurance.
2. It does not cause pollution, which further helps in promoting the Philippines’ Clean Air Act.
3. It’s a great way to socialize and meet other bike enthusiasts.
4. It’s cheap and convenient.

Taiwan, India, and China are the world’s leading bicycle producers. However, unlike the latter countries, Taiwan-made bicycles are intended for exporting. This is why Taiwan’s bike industry continuously strives for excellence and versatility. Brands like Pacific, Merida, and Giant are becoming names to reckon with in the biking industry.

Yes, expect cold-rolled steel tubing, magnesium alloy and carbon-fiber frames!

Just like Japan’s 5S, Taiwan’s bike industry has 3N (New Materials, New Technologies, and New Designs) to prepare it for the different environments the bikes will be used in.

The Taiwan Excellence campaign, with the implementation of TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council), aims for us, Filipinos, to discover a range of high-quality Taiwan-made products that carries the country’s seal of excellence. Their campaign is also endorsed by our local celebrity, Iya Villania-Arellano.

You can learn more about Taiwan Excellence by browsing through their pages: the Taiwan Excellence website or their Facebook page.

Disclaimer: Although this post is sponsored, the content and opinions are my own.
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Lotus Garden Suites in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

Well, this is the second time I've stayed in the place. This time, I'd probably rate it Above Average. It's not perfect, but it's still the best place I've ever stayed at. Also, it's a few meters away from the airport. 

The Lotus Garden's top view from the tree house.
Personal Experience Staying in Lotus Garden Suites

1. Staff. The staff are extremely nice and friendly. All of them were courteous and cheery. To compensate for the mishap in the rooms, they upped my free breakfast meal to be served with garlic rice rather than bread.

The Lotus Garden Suites' huge pond at the entrance.
2. Food. I'm a so-and-so on this one. Breakfast was okay. I love that they always have fruits on the plate. Their coffee is pretty good, too. Instead of the instant creamer, it's served with evaporated milk. I have yet to try to their Japanese cuisines, but I intend to do so another time.

Brewed coffee, brown sugar, and milk in the morning
3. Room. I just love the Okisaki room. It has always been my favorite place to crash. The bathroom in it is roofed (unlike the other bathrooms), and it's situated above the pond with floating lilies and swimming kois. It's also probably the only room with decent cellular reception if your network is SUN cellular.

Lotus Garden Suites' Mikado Room
Sensei Bedroom
The Sensei room would be my next pick because the bathroom (bathed in sunlight or moonlight) has the best water pressure. They also have a bidet beside the toilet, which is an added plus. But compared to Mikado, the floor is tiled rather than wooden. Expect it to get pretty cold when you wake up in the morning for a quick bahtroom break.

Lotus Garden Suites Sensei Room Open-roof Garden Bathroom
Mikado Bathroom at Night
Nature-inspired Open-roof Shower
Yes, it can get pretty cool at night, so expect to end up with a cold after taking a nice bath.
4. Lounge Area. Now, this is where Lotus Garden will always one of the best inns to book a room in. Their lounge area is Japanese-themed and nature-rich. Their restaurant/ reception areaOn one side, books are rowed in wooden shelves.  Not only is it surrounded with plants, the ponds filled with floating flora and fauna. They have a swimming turtle in the pond beside the Sensei room. 

Lounge Area and Restobar
Another Lounge Area
5. Price. The price is just about right. In comparison, the room in Corazon Tourist Inn was 180 php more expensive than a room in Lotus Garden Suites.

The tree house looks nice too.
I think that wraps up my experience for the Lotus Garden Suites.

Personal Ratings

1. Staff: 5/5
2. Food: 3/5 (I have yet to taste their sushi)
3. Room: 4/5 (My first pick is Okisaki. Sensei would be next among the standard/regular rooms).
4. Lounge: 5/5 (Travelers get to enjoy well-thought landscaping and beautiful greenery simply by hanging-out on their restaurant.
5. Price: 5/5

The Lotus Garden Suites Information

Address: 371 Rizal Ave. Puerto Princesa City, Palawan PH 5300
Phone: (048) 434 11 32
Website: http://www.lotusgardenph.com/

Next stop, Ardent Suites in Puerto Princesa, Palawan... 
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

'Tis the Season to be Jolly with Taiwan Excellence's Christmas Contest

We, Filipinos, love the Christmas season. 

We put-up our Christmas tree, reward carolers for singing Christmas songs, religiously attend simbang gabi, and prepare Noche Buena feasts. It’s a long-standing tradition that’s been followed even before I was born. 

Gift-giving has also played a crucial part of this country’s Yuletide season. Most of you may remember bringing canned goods and packed noodles to school in celebration of White Gifts Sunday. Although a Methodist started this tradition, some schools in the Philippines continue to honor it. And just like us, Taiwan Excellence recognizes how special Christmas is for us. This is why they have offered to fulfill 10 Filipino’s “Grown-up Wish list” through the Taiwan Excellence- Made to Enjoy Christmas Contest.

Taiwan Excellence-Made to Enjoy Christmas Contest Flyer

And let’s face it! The act of giving is far more rewarding than the act of receiving. 

Made to Enjoy Christmas Contest Details

By simply visiting and registering in the Made To Enjoy The Life website, you will have the opportunity to win your loved one a special present this Christmas. All it takes is choosing a Taiwan Excellence product and sharing your reason for choosing that person.

Taiwan Excellence Products

Have you joined the contest yet? If you haven't, do so now. You might be one of the ten lucky winners to give your special loved one the gift they solely deserve. As an added bonus, Iya Villania-Arellano, Taiwan Excellence Celebrity Endorser, might be the secret Santa to deliver it at their doorstep.

The Taiwan Excellence seal is found in Taiwanese brands that excel in quality, innovation, and good value for money. Products you may have already used include Acer, Asus, MSI, and even Pacific. These four are just some of the ones well-known worldwide.

With the assistance TAITRA, the Taiwan Excellence campaign was launched in the Philippines with the purpose of providing Filipinos better Taiwan-made products, or as Taiwan has put it: Bringing Excellent Lifestyle in the Philippines.
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Digitally Transforming the Filipino Haggling Tradition

Yesterday, my sister and I went to Divisoria. We were searching for a certain curtain design for their bedroom. As you all know, Divisoria is the place to go when buying anything and everything at an extremely cheap price. The streets were lined with stalls that were filled with hanging Christmas decors, drapes, and--I repeat--anything under the sun.

The Divisoria Experience

After having to deal with the traffic from Recto to Divi, we maneuvered the busy stalls of Puregold to reach Tabora. In Tabora, we checked every single stall, kiosk, and selling space that sold curtains. To our dismay, we didn't find the particular design. Although a little disappointed, we got some great deals on a few yards of U.S. cotton textile. Yes, like any other Filipino, we ended up haggling for the 7 yards of Winnie the Pooh and some other cartoony-designed bed sheet-to-be.

U.S. Cotton sheets cost 85-130 php/yard

Haggling has always been part of our culture. We always here phrases like "Last price?" or "No Discount?" or "I'll buy it by bulk if you give it to me at _____". Honestly, even online sellers from OLX/ Sulit, Ayos Dito, and eBay receive text messages like the ones I mentioned above. It's a typical behavior that's neither good nor bad, depending on the haggler's technique and style.

Selling on eBay used to be as easy as bidding and winning.
Filipino Online Shopping

Nowadays, a lot of us have enjoyed the benefits of buying online. For one, you wouldn't have to deal with the heat, the crowded streets, and the pollution of going to Divi. You also save on precious time and fare because the items get delivered at your doorstep (especially in the Manila area). Some online items are even being sold at a cheaper price than in malls. So, it's really no surprise that a lot of us are now going to websites like Lazada and Zalora.

My first Lazada purchase...
Can't Haggle When it's Sold Online

However, like buying an item from a mall or a superstore, all prices are fixed. There's no haggling allowed, because all prices are final. We don't get the opportunity to talk to the online shop's owner, and it can be a bit frustrating at times. Fortunately for us, we are a resourceful race. Some of us wait for sales or marked-downs; others end up using coupons (usually encoded prior to online checkout).

All it Takes is a Keyphrase

iPrice is a site for the thrifty, budget-conscious Filipino. When all the coupons are at your fingertips, readily available at a click of a button, online shopping definitely gets better. So why bother scouring every single blog/website via Google Search when you can go to a single website for the keywords that can slash a price down to a better bargain?

Is Using a Coupon the Same as Haggling?

It's not. However, these two techniques result to a single outcome. We get what we want at a bargain deal.

Some helpful links:

My Lazada Buying Experience
How to Commute to Divisoria
The EBAY Experience: Pros, Cons and some Tips in Buying and Selling
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