Saturday, October 24, 2015

Maginahawa Chronicles: Cat Cafe Manila

Research shows that cats can help us deal with our stress. Just by watching your cats do antic tricks already help relieve stress, said David Frei who is the spokesperson for the Delta Society. which is a nonprofit organization interested in relationships between people and animals. 

I was trying to find a way to calm myself and temporarily escape the pressure of school with loads of papers and other requirements, and so I called my childhood friend Brine and invited him to go to Cat Cafe Manila in Maginhawa, Quezon City. I have seen a documentary on Pop Talk that Cat Cafe Manila is a must-try since you can not just have your usual coffee and cupcake, but you can also throw away that stress by mingling with different cats at the cafe.

We had once a cat named Muning and other two stray cats which we named Orange (because of her fur color) and Blue (because of his bright blue eyes). We lost them when we moved away from La Mesa Dam to Bulacan four years ago, and most of the time I missed them because there's nothing like hugging and stroking a cat which calms me down and takes away whatever stressed feelings I have. I remembered how smart Muning was, who would often sneak into our bedroom windows and climb onto our beds to wake us up in early in the morning.

As we entered the Cat Cafe, I was suddenly filled with nostalgia when I saw the beautiful cats, which had name tags and were sleeping during that time. There were house rules before entering the cafe: you should first wash your hands and take off your shoes or sandals. The place was a little small but very comfortable and bright-lit. The ambiance was also nice: once you enter, you would first see the counter and the variety of cupcakes and brownies that you could order, and also a wide array of cat-inspired merchandise. 

Rainbow Cat Cupcake
Moica Cupcake

You would automatically have a one-hour session with the cats, which is P100 and another P100 worth of food and drinks. 

Because there were still quite a lot of people who were playing with the cats during that time, my friend and I decided that we ordered first and chat for a little while. We ordered coffee and Moica and Rainbow Cat Cupcakes (P60 each). The cupcakes were moist on the inside with the right amount of sweetness. The coffee was not too strong. You could also add creamer, milk and sugar in your coffee.

A guy who always has interesting stories to tell, Brine told me about his life so far studying in UP Los Banos. He also talked about our favorite series "Big Bang Theory" and shared scientific ideas. I on the other hand, simply listened and we also exchanged stories.

After a while, we decided to play with the cats but unfortunately, most of them were still sleeping. Part of the house rules was to not stress the cats by carrying them especially when they sleep, and so we just sat with them and took pictures of them. Some of the cats were roaming around and even one of them climbed on top of one of the high stools.

Cat Cafe Manila is located at the 2nd Floor of 189 Maginhawa Street in Sikatuna Village. You can visit their Facebook page at

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Maginhawa Chronicles: Caution Hot! Spicy Noodle House

A taste of the world in one place. 

You may have missed half of your college life in UP if you haven't been to Maginhawa, Quezon City, where it offers a variety of Filipino, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and even Persian cuisine. And so, my good friend Kat and I have decided that we would explore every corner of Maginhawa before we graduate from UP. 

Kat recommended that we start with Caution Hot! Spicy Noodle House in Teachers' Village, because they offer authentic spicy Chinese noodles which comes in different flavors and degree of hotness.

The menu is very simplified and easy to understand: you will first choose your toppings--all-veggie, pork, beef or seafood. Then you get to choose your broth: Szechuan, which is a southwestern Chinese spicy broth made with Szechuan peppercorn and chili pepper; Asam Laksa, which is a Penang-style sour and spicy fish-paste broth; and Classic, which is a non-spicy savory pork bone broth.

For the next step, you get to choose what type of noodles you would like to match with your toppings and broth: either Wheat Noodles, which are firm regular-sized noodles or Egg Noo
dles, which are thin wheat-and-egg noodles with the vibrant flavor of egg.

Finally, you can choose the degree of hotness for your spicy noodles: it was amusing that they likened it with the "degree burn". For starters, you can choose first-degree burn and for those who are in for a challenge of their palette, there is the Ultimate Burn.

Kat and I ordered Pork-Asam Laksa-Wheat Noodles with a first degree burn spicy noodles. I am not a very big fan of spicy food, but I enjoyed eating the noodles, which was garnished with onions cucumber strips, pineapple bits, greens and boiled egg. You could see the level of hotness of the noodles by just looking at its bright red-colored soup. The pork was tender and juicy at the same time and the pineapple bits neutralized the spiciness of the noodles. 

For my "fire extinguisher", I ordered Soya (P45/ P70-unlimited). It was refreshing and it really calmed down my burning mouth that I almost sip my Soya every after I ate the noodles. I just couldn't imagine if we ordered the Ultimate Burn level of spiciness of the Chinese noodles.

We also ordered Kuchay-Pork Dumplings (5 pcs-P60/ 10pcs- P110), which are made of minced Chinese chives and pork. It is quite different from the regular dumplings because there were more Chineses chives mixed with the pork in the dumpling. 

Finally, to cool down our burning faces from the Spicy noodles, we ordered their signature dessert Bao Bing (P95), which is a classic Chinese shaved ice dessert, topped with fig and grass jelly, fruits like lychee, drizzled with condensed milk, and topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was truly a refreshing way to end the meal. I particularly enjoyed the fig and grass jelly along with the lychee fruit bits which gave the right sweetness of the dessert. And the shaved ice was truly authentic.

Caution Hot! Spicy Noodle House is a must-try especially to those who loves spicy food and noodles. I will definitely come back for more and try their other noodle combos. 

You may like their Facebook page at

Friday, March 20, 2015

Figaro Lenten Specials and Summer Fusion 2015

Breaded Dory Sandwich
In time for the Lenten Season, Figaro offers a new set of meatless meals that we can still enjoy while fasting for the season. Try Figaro's new Breaded Dory Sandwich (P135), breaded dory fish fillet in ciabatta bread seasoned with freshly made tartar sauce with a matching tartar green salad on the side. I usually order and enjoy cream dory fish fillet in our school cafeterias in UP Diliman for lunch but when I tasted Figaro's breaded dory with tartar sauce I was able to appreciate eating the fish fillet better with that tangy-sweet sauce. I also enjoyed the tartar green salad and it tasted so much better when freshly squeezed with lemon. 
Basil Gamberetti Pizza

Still craving for pizza even during Lenten? Figaro's new Basil Gamberetti Pizza (P189) is your saving grace. This meatless pizza is a combination of fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, shrimp, mozzarella and pizza cheese. You will never go wrong with indulging in those tangy fruity tomatoes and healthy and fragrant basil leaves combined with shrimps dipped in two types of cheeses.

Summer is also just around the corner, and Figaro offers just the right refreshments for the coming hot and humid summer season. Refreshing, healthy, fruity and coffee-based--these are the new signatures of Figaro's Summer Fusion, which consists of Four Seasons (P125), Peach Cappuccino Fusion (P125), Lychee Cucumber (P125) and Passion Fruit Cucumber (P125). I never thought I could enjoy vegetable shakes until I tried the Lychee Cucumber and Passion Fruit Cucumber, which came from freshly squeezed fruits with tidbits. Both are sweet and tangy in flavor and are very refreshing for a hot summer day. I have always enjoyed the Four Seasons because it is sweet and bursts with different fruity flavors. I most especially enjoyed the syrup-based Peach Cappuccino because I am a coffee-person. It has just the right amount of peach zest that surprisingly matches with the light flavor of cappuccino.

 Now you will not only enjoy these new summer drinks but also promote a healthy lifestyle, with fruits like lychee, peach and passion fruit and vegetables like cucumber having health benefits. Passion fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber, as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Lychee, being a citrus fruit, is also a good source of Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin and folates. Often referred to as a superfood, cucumber on the other hand is rich is Vitamin B, and rehydrates the body and replenishes daily vitamins. What's more, it helps fight cancer, cures diabetes, reduces cholesterol and controls blood pressure. Peaches are also antioxidants and are good sources of beta carotine and Vitamin A.

You may visit and like their official page for more info.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Big Hero 6: Balalala

From Wreck-it-Ralph to Frozen, Disney has finally redeemed its reputation of being one of the most loved movie productions when it comes to children's films. 

Pan to the city called San Fransokyo. San Fransisco Bridge with torii designs: a mix of Japan setting. Hiro Hamada with his fighting bots: Real Steel. Hiro side by side with the huggable, marshmallow-like Baymax: Hayao Miyazaki's Totoro and Satsuki. Baymax in an armor suit: Marvel's Ironman. There are a lot of familiar scenes you could see materialize in Disney's newest movie release Big Hero 6, and yet it has pulled off a very unique and heartwarming film that you'd want to watch over and over again. Directed by the makers of Bolt Chris Williams and director of Winnie the Pooh Don Hall, and produced by Pixar's legend John Lasseter, the movie would definitely make you laugh off your seat and give you tears for the heartwarming story of friendship and of not giving up that you would never forget. 

"I will never give up on you. " In a semi-futuristic setting that closely resembles that of Lewis's world in the movie Meet the Robinsons and even Ironman, the story revolves around a genius 15-year-old Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), who is addicted to bot fighting using his small but terrible micrbot. His older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), on the other hand, is an equally genius guy who goes to college and makes unique inventions, and is always saving Hiro from trouble with his bot bouts. He invites him to his school and meets his classmates, Go Go (Jamie Chung), who works on electromagnetic fields and suspensions, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), who is a chemist-freak, Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), a neat-freak genius and Fred (T.J. Miller), who is addicted to becoming a real fire-breathing dragon inspired by his comic books. Tadashi introduces Hiro to his latest invention, Baymax (Scott Adsit), who is a personal health care assistant robot. With much delight, Tadashi was able to convince Hiro to enroll in his "nerd school" and present an invention of his own in an annual science fair. Using his microbots, he was able to wow the audience with his invention, but things took a change for the worse when the school was caught in a big fire and Tadashi, who wanted to help rescue his mentor, died. 

All the hope and the purpose of going to the school went with the fire as Hiro lost his interest and grieved over his brother's death. On that moment in his room, he met again Baymax who was still active. He also noticed his microbot which seemed to be attracted to another microbot, and with Baymax's help they were able to pinpoint the origin of the attraction. There they met a man with a "kabookie" mask, who made more microbots and attacked them. The action to search for that man started, with the help of his brother's friend to find out the truth about the incident and give justice to his brother's death. 

When they found out that the man in the kabookie mask was Tadashi's mentor, Hiro raged and tried to kill him, but Baymax and his friends tried to stop him. In a heartwarming scene where Baymax insisted that Tadashi was still with them, he showed Hiro the times when Tadashi was still experimenting on the success of Baymax, and Hiro finally had his inner peace and went off with his friends to end the evil plan of the notorious man who was the mentor of Tadashi. They found out that he was seeking for revenge for the loss of his daughter in an experimental procedure of a teleportation portal. They were able to stop him and even save his daughter, but Hiro lost Baymax in the process. 

What I loved about the movie is the lesson that Tadashi portrayed; that is, he never gave up on inventing Baymax, and on his brother Hiro, just as Baymax did not give up on Hiro on their friendship. Big Hero 6 is the first animated Marvel film that was theatrically released by Walt Disney Animation Studios. 

Big Hero 6 is truly an epic film with a lot of mix-ups and twists and turns, from the unique incorporation of San Fransisco and Tokyo, which was Executive Producer John Lasseter's idea to the must-awaited end-credit scene where we find out that Fred is the son of the Marvel creator Stan Lee. The design of Baymax was also inspired by the "soft robotics" research at Carnegie Mellon University. 
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