Monday, October 26, 2009

A Food Lover's 9th Wonder- Banapple

Finally, the long awaited banapple review. I was dying to feature this because even with the cozy (tiny) place they were situated in, the ambiance and food had a "must try, must taste, must spend" rating. I originally heard of it from Total Girl and it did have promising potential as a one stop pasta/smoothie/pie/cake shop.

First of all, the cons (Just to somewhat make this article a little discouraging to read. I'm sure the pictures are sufficient enought to interest the typical sweet tooth). Aside from being non-commutable, the Katipunan branch can hardly accomodate more than 20 people. During weekends and fridays, waiting list can reach up to 10 reservations. Imagine waiting outside, because it's too crowded inside. The airconditioning is weak (probably because the kitchen is just behind the counter and the space it occupies is larger than the dining area). Since they don't have back-up generators during black outs, they'd have to open the doors because it'd be warm inside.

Even during such inconvenience, surprisingly they never ran out of customers. Banapple is like a diamond in the rough. Nowadays, it's already a challenge to find good tasting food and a cozy atmosphere in one package. The ambiance is perfect. The space would've been too had they just increased their seating capacity to accomodate more. The food... HEAVENLY. One should try tasting each mouth watering pie and savor the sauces and aroma of a serve of every pasta and rice meal.

By the way, this receipt was for our previous visit. The bill did not stop there. We also took home their best selling chicken pies.

To cut to the chase, allow me to show you some first hand photos of me and my family's visit. This was the third time we had gone their, and this was our second successful attempt on getting a table.

Once again, my sincerest apologies for the weak resolution of my non-DSLR camera. At 2.8 megapixels, I think it's doing a good enough job. Some of the pictures look a little too sunny because I wasn't able to adjust the settings.

This is my niece. She's currently endorsing the fudgymudgy pie (80 php) in my blog. She's the type who becomes extremely happy when she gets a taste of "good food". The pie was scrumptious. Orea flavored pie crust with more chocolate in between and a whip cream layer topped with tiny chocolate chips.

Warm, (super hot coming from the microwave) pecan pie. Had to fight back my tears- not because of joy but due to getting tongue burns all over. It has this cinammony taste with walnuts and a not so sweet pie crust. Definitely a good option to consider when drinking bitter tea. Forgot the cost...

Ah yes, the unbelievably tasty hickory barbeque baby back ribs (155 php). That's my older niece's hand. I actually had a hard time taking decent pictures because nobody could keep their hands off the food just for a second for me to capture its freshly cooked image. The fried rice wasn't bad either. Beside this plate is a dark chocolate smoothie (90 php). It may not be of Starbucks standard but close enough.

Last, hopefully not the least, Banapple's homemade iced tea (50+ php) and ripe mango smoothie (85 php). The delicious looking pasta below is also one of their best sellers, trio of sausages fetuccine (140 php). It's a definite must-eat-again-and-again on my list. The bread on the side has cheese in it too. My little niece was able to eat one serve of this ALONE even when infact it's good for two people. The carbonara wasn't too heavy to overcome the taste or scent of the spices and the sausage toppings. Pasta lovers, this is a highly recommended dish.

One of the best tips I could share from my first hand experience is: never pass out the chance to visit their comfort room. Eyes and noses will have a feast passing through the kitchen before reaching it. Warning: Mouths may possibly water, at worst, drool.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Manga Mania: Suki and Confidential Confessions

The first time I started reading manga seriously was a couple of months ago (it's in my blog). I love purchasing them and enjoying every single page of one of the most graphically fulfilling paperwork in this entire world. It takes a lot to make one. You'd need talent and a whole lot of imagination to be able to successfully complete an entire volume.

Some of the mangas (I'm not sure of its plural) I'd definitely recommend are the following. I will spare the details to minimize spoiling the curiosity of searching for one in a bookstore.

1. Tramps Like Us a.k.a Kimi Wa Pet- (14 Volumes) Romance; Contrary to its suggestive title, it's actually a cute not-so ordinary love story between an older woman , a mature guy and a talented boy who's her pet (above 18).
2. Suki- (3 Volumes) Another romantic weird relationship between a naive girl and her teacher. If you're familiar with the works of Clamp, this a definite must read.
3. Crescent Moon- (5 Volumes) A girl who encounters a tribe of demons. My nieces love the drawings and the graphics are detailed.
4. Dream Saga - (5 Volumes) Like Card Captor Sakura, work of art by Megumi Tachikawa too. It's about a little girl she catches a red magic stone that mysteriously falls from the sky. My nieces love this one too.
5. Confidential Confessions - (Unsure) The manga deals with many of the hard-hitting issues that teens face today. It's very brutal but it actually has good lessons to teach. This has mature content all over.

Anyway, some of these titles are difficult to find since they are quite expensive (prices range from 160 php to 500 php, National Bookstore used to sell it at 79 php then at 50% off a little later but that was just something that happened once). If you want to read them online, I suggest you go to They have a wide selection for the manga lovers to feast their eyes on.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unpatterned Cross Stitch

I had been working on a certain image for some time now (Because I wasn't the type who finishes projects immediately. It usually takes me a year or more to complete a cross stitch pattern, no matter how small it is.)

Anyway, a couple of years ago (when anime patterns were very limited and difficult to find), I decided to make my own. Of course, without the sophistication of any cross stitch assisting software or help from an expert.

Last night, I finally finished my first chibi anime pattern which I had painstakingly placed my effort upon since I had to decide the colors I had to use as well as refining each single detail of the shapes. Using paint to place a grid on the image made me realize that it was very hard to sculpt the curves in the picture.

This was supposed to be my birthday gift to Abi, my boyfriend, but he already left for the province.

Note: Abi, if you're checking my blog, hope you like your very very late present. Love need no pattern to be beautiful. Creativity at its fullest appears when boundaries are established without strict limitations.

Moral of the Blog: I know many of us love starting projects without finishing them. It's okay to take a rest from it once in awhile. It doesn't matter whether you finish it as soon as you've started it or not, just as long as you find time to complete them.
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A Very Memorable Date: Empty Movie House

I and Abi wanted to spend more time together so last week, we went to see Surrogates at Sta. Lucia East Mall and Pandorum in Blue Wave, Marikina two days later.

Note: Took these pictures from the flash animation of Sta. Lucia's website.

Both movie houses allow multiple seating. But if you really prefer having the perfect ambiance and sound system, you should try one of Sta. Lucia's cinemas. It's worth the 100- 140 php you'd pay for a movie.

Since Marquinton is recovering from the Ondoy flood, most of the ground floor stalls were closed. However, the third floor cinema was still open which is why we went there. It was way closer to home compared to Sta. Lucia.

Upon entering the cinema, I noticed that the lights were on. I assumed it was probably because the next show was in 10 minutes. Abi and I walked in to see an empty movie house (Well, not anymore, since we were around.). We even had to wait for the air conditioning to set in because since this morning, no one had watched a movie in the said house....

First time ever that we could freely decide where we were going to sit, stretch and feel comfy on where we chose to sit on, extend our extremities towards the other chairs , run up and down the stairs and make noisy comments while the movie was playing. And we did, except for the running part.

In the end, I really had fun screaming and making loud comments while the Pandorum was playing such as "Kuya, pakilakasan naman ang volume.", "NakaMUTE sya!", "Kuya, pakiPAUSE muna, magCCR lang ako."

I would've loved taking a picture of the empty house but cinema rule is law: No cameras or picture/video taking paraphernalia upon entering.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ondoy's Onslaught (A Detailed Account of my Marikina Experience)

It was 12 A.M of that day that my sister and brother-in-law had just arrived from their trip in Iloilo (attending a wedding). They had come home late because their Pajero would not start leaving them no choice but to ride a taxi home. In such case, they had also left the more heavy belongings they had brought from the trip in the airport as well.

By 10 A.M., I woke up last Saturday morning to go out of the room and see my two nieces running around outside of the house with the pouring rain and the flooded surroundings. We even freed our pet janitor so he can roam around the wider aquarium (more of a pond, if you ask me).

By 1 P.M., the water started to enter the house and was rising at an unexpected rate. Instead of seeing clear rain water, it grew murky and muddy. So we went in the house to secure all the non-flood proof things we owned. The first thing we did was remove all the plugs from the sockets to avoid further damage. Things at floor level were placed on the dining table, the very long yet empty aquarium and the beds.

We initially had setup the all the important appliances such as the refrigerator, two or three feet above the floor approximately a meter above the ground. Some appliances were still at a higher level but the water still kept on rising. It came to a point that the water was already reaching the bed. Afraid that the things placed on the mattress would get wet; my brother-in-law started looking for cans or things we could use to elevate the bed posts. He sorted two DVD casings and ice cream cans.

He also turned the main switches of certain partitions of the houses so we can avoid getting electrocuted. Outside the house, the helpers had freed the dogs from their cage. By the time the water was entering through the window, I checked out why one of our dogs was whimpering and found her trying to hang on with her front legs stuck on the top of the gate. As much as I wanted to help her, I had so much to do inside.

My two nieces were already scared. The littler of the two started to cry because she got so scared. Before which she was praying so fervently because I asked her to. The other one had told me that the car that was parked outside our gate had moved closer to us when a vehicle had passed our street. Indeed it did.

At this time the refrigerator we had placed on the top of the table was starting to wobble. I was inside the other room when my brother-in-law called out for help because the refrigerator was starting to "float" and he was supporting it so it won't topple down hard. We finally decided to have it float horizontally at the risk that all its circuits would get fried-more accurately "souped".

Upon realizing the graveness of the situation, my brother-in-law started carrying the TV, the computer, the toaster, and majority of the appliances towards the room, placing it on the top most cabinets of the house inside each room. He even asked me to help him in putting them on those spots which was more than six feet above our floor. I remember the chair I was stepping on beginning to float the moment my weight shifted away from it. I could also never forget my arms and knees weakening when we were placing the TV on the top-most shelf. It felt extremely heavy.

On the other room, we were able to communicate with the helpers through a window. Manang Femy was trying to place some of the important stuff in the kitchen in one of the metal shelves when it started to float. The floating caused an imbalance breaking the glass window. Luckily my quick hand brother-in-law caught one of its braces before it could topple down Nang Femy. I was so concerned on how he was holding it through the broken window. He may have been wounded because of the pointed glass shards that had stuck to the metal structured window.

By 4 P.M., the water was already almost chest level and we decided to leave the place already before we get stuck. There was difficulty in just opening the door because of the strong current. Our big male neighbors had come to help us out so we could transfer to the house just a block away with a 2nd floor.

Before we left, I saw my brother-in-law tossing one of the dogs on the roof (Yes, TOSS!) saying something like "I'm sure that'll do”. He also secured the other two dogs on the mango tree. We went out of our gate and held on to a rope they had tied so we can cross safely.

When we arrived there, we found a lot of our neighbors as well cramped like sardines in the wet terrace. We were extremely lucky that they had welcomed us in their house. Until now, I still feel that we couldn't thank them enough.

Once all of us were safe, brother-in-law helped the others in helping our other neighbors- a family with a white puppy spitz, a crying kid's mom, and two kids with their yaya on the corner of the street not answering their gate. I was actually able to video the rescue operation of Team Del Carmen (as I brand them). He also went back to the house to double check on the animals. The water had reached near the top of the love bird's cage, so he raised it up to keep them safe (Unfortunately, one out of the two pairs had died). He was able to spot the inside of the house to see that the aquarium was already partially leaning towards the dining table. We were expecting that by the time we came back, it would've have shattered into a million pieces (Thank God, it was still on top of its frame by some miracle. Though this time, it was lying horizontally already.).

The funniest moments I had encountered was when they were trying to raise the morale of an older woman who was no longer able to place her foot on the ground to walk towards the house because the water was more than 6 feet above the ground. One of the guys was shouting, "THINK POSITIVE. WALANG AAYAW!" There was also an instance that I heard a big splash just to overhear later that one of them dived the murky water to which he attempted to swim too. It painted a mental picture those kids that loved to swim the public rivers for fun.

Aside from their shelter, this family was even willing to share their food with us. Of course, women and children had first dibs and I was so concerned about the big guys because some of them were unable to eat. Good thing our neighbor’s rice cooker wasn't wet.

By night time, all were extremely tired. The kids were lucky because the 2nd floor had a room and a bed where they were allowed to stay in. But the older people stayed outside, waiting for the flood to subside. I remember the specific markers they were waiting for: the number 7 on the metal sign of the house, the hollow block lines painted on the gate across the street and the roof of the blue car which was not visible for a long time.

The water started to subside by 7 P.M. slowly. By 9:30 P.M., my brother-in-law and my sister decided to go down even when the water was still above waist level. After some minutes, I was also called so we could start cleaning the house. Within the next four hours, we tidied the room as best as we can. Mopping, scrubbing, and clearing the place as much as possible was our main goal so that we could sleep even for a short while. The thick heavy mattress was brought outside. A partially wet two-inch foam was placed on partially cleaned queen-sized bed covered with a mantle taken from the top storage and some plastic cases to prevent the wetness from permeating the bed sheet we placed last.

By 4:30 A.M., I and Lanie went back to the neighbors to pick up the kids and thank them for their hospitality. It was 5 A.M. of the Sunday following Ondoy's onslaught that we were able to lie down on the bed and get some super quick shut eye knowing that that morning, we would have to do a lot of cleaning.

Slept for two hours when I had to wake up because my boyfriend, worried as he was arrived to check our status- bringing canned sardines and Century Tuna (bless his little heart for worrying about me). Anyway, this is it for now. Will probably be adding more soon.

Videos- to follow because I don't have an Internet Connection at home. Had to go to a cafe to post this.

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