Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lazy Sunday in Bonifacio High Street

Have you been to the latest Chill-out Destination in the metro? It's called Bonifacio High Street, a long-strip of chic stories and restos. Its been here for a year or two. I didn't get a chance to visit it, until recently. I don't drive, so I'm usually slave to where my husband's mood take us on weekends.

I had the perfect chance last saturday. Nickelodeon had a weekend carnival behind NBC Tent. I cajoled my husband to go, promising that Diego and Dora will be there. Unfortunately, as soon as we entered the small venue, we were assailed by the heat and the number of people. There were very few attractions. There were lots of freebies though, but I am not the type to endure long-lines and heat, just for a Ceelin or Chocolait sample.

After a few photo-ops in the booths, we left the carnival. As luck would have it, we were just a few meters away from Bonifacio High Street!

It's a beautiful oasis in the middle of The Fort. The Fort is a former military community which was sold to big real estate companies. The Fort is also called Global City. There's a frenzy of building-constructions at the Fort, mostly office high-rises, and residential condominiums. The latest of these new concepts in residential enclaves is called Serendra. It's a community of medium-rise condominium units. An agent may approach you while you're in the vicinity, it costs about 4M for a studio unit! How about that! Serendra saddles the Bonifacio High Street, it's the playground of the residents of the high-end communities at The Fort.

There are tall palm trees, wide expanse of green grass, beautifully-designed installations, fountains, among others. The stores are really high-end. I don't dare go into any of them. I swear there's nothing in there that I can afford! There are new and unique restaurants, most of them unfamiliar to me, except the usual itallianis, Friday's, Seattle's Best.

My kids love the installations in the middle of the expanse of grass. There was a huge fountain (is it called fountain?) It looks like some of the Robot monsters that invaded Earth on the movie End of Days. There were ice cravings of the word REMEMBER. Hans and Ivan loved it! Would like to lick the whole thing, if I didn't intervene!

My niece Jeremie from the province had a blast having her photos taken in the nice spots that are all begging for a shoot. Hans, I noticed is so like me! He knows where the best angles are, to pose for a photograph!

At the other end of Bonifacio High Street, just across is the mall called Market! Market! We often used visit market, market. The kids love the colorful playground, although its usually crowded. We had to trick Hans that Market! Market! has closed. Everytime you asked him, "where do you want to go this saturday?" "Market! Market! Mom!" We didn't know that right across is a beautiful haven called High Street, away from it all the crowd.

But I'm glad that mere mortals like us can enjoy this beautiful spot in the metro. This is especially great when you need to show visiting friends or relatives something about Manila. We've had our fill of Eastwood, Tiendesitas, Trinoma, Mall of Asia. I'm not so familiar with Makati, so we haven't ventured in the new Greenbelt Area. BFS is a wonderful addition to the must-see places here in the Metro.

As Hans would say, "balik tayo dito, Mommy!"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ilocos Road Trip Part 4

We arrived Laoag Ilocos Norte at around 4pm already. I immediately scouted for the famous Iloko Empanada. We found it, near the terminal stations, behind Phil. National Bank. It's a street food. Unlike our usual empanada, my description of the Ilocano Empanada is, "gawang-tamad pero masarap (done haphazardly but yummy)." Instead of the usual giniling, raisins, green peas wrapped thick sweet dough, with little curves on the sides. They made their empadanas, using thin flour (parang turon skin), they just slice one or two longganisas, and a whole egg. That's it. No nonsense. Eat it with suka. It's a cross between pritong lumpia and empanada.

We were debating whether to stay overnight in Laoag or to proceed to Pagudpud. After a few queries with the policemen, saying with hesitancy but yes, it's doable to go to Pagudpud at this hour. Give it 2-3 hours. Ted decided to go for it, which we would soon later look back with regret.

It was a looooooooong journey from Laoag to Pagudpud. It was so long that we felt that we were going to the ends of the earth. It was 4hours! Gone are the little sidetrips on quaint little towns. We only had a singular purpose, reach Pagudpud before sundown.

We didn't have google map yet at that time, so relied on good old map from the Shell station, which was helpful, except that maps don't really tell you how many kilometers it takes from one end to the other, or where you can have your tire fixed, just in case you get a flat, or where to eat the best local delicacy, or advise your driver/hubby, to slow down, and enjoy the sights.

It is you, the lovely lady beside the passenger seat, who had to worry about these little seemingly trivial things, but those are the stuff which memories are made of.

We made a quick stop at Burgos, where the lovely Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is located. It's romantic, because it's quite old, probably in the 50s, and you can see the beautiful sunset slowly disappearing in the horizon. We made perfect timing. It was a bit cold, we hugged. Feeling romantic. Hans and I wanted to go up the lighthouse, pwede naman. But it was already 6pm and we still have 2-3 towns to go before we would reach pagudpud!

It was about 8pm when we finally reached pagudpud. It's actually a town, a laid-back provincial barrio. It's not the beach itself. The famous beach in pagudpud is in Barangay Saud. We asked around, if anyone can point us for a place to stay near the beach. A tricycle driver guided us to the resort of Carol and Albert. It was peak season, so we didn't balk at the 3,500 for overnight charge. we had a 2bedroom, one toilet, and a small veranda. Besides, we were a group of four adults (me, ted, 2 yayas) and two kids (hans and ivan). We didn't see the beach at all because it was too dark.

We woke up the next day, and these view greeted us:

After breakfast, we immediately rush to the beach and play!

The beach is so beautiful, we had the whole stretch for ourselves! It's a great idea to go before the crowd comes rushing in. We went there the four days before the Holy Week. We usually time our vacations that way, so we're not competing for space or caught in traffic jams. a great, great idea!

There are times, that the waves in the beach can get a bit rough. care must be taken especially for non-swimmers, like me. Big waves can sneak up on you. The kids are a bit scared, but they love the sand!

We had the loveliest time in Ilocos. It's something that I want to do again, when the kids are older, or when we would have visitors from abroad. It's a lovely way to see a lot of places in just one trip. Highly recommended!