Don’t mess with our volcano

Just yesterday, Sayoko and I were enjoying an unobstructed view of Taal Volcano.



Now this:

Hollywood-like sign in Batangas mulled


Photo from the Office of the Vice Governor of Batangas

MANILA, Philippines – The province of Batangas may soon erect a landmark similar to the iconic Los Angeles’ “Hollywood” sign, a Batangas official told a newspaper.
According to an Inquirer report, Vice Governor Mark Leviste II said the Batangas provincial council has approved a resolution to erect a “hard-to-miss landmark and potential tourism draw,” which allegedly is an idea of Governor Vilma Santos-Recto.
The report said the resolution was approved on October 5.
Leviste said the proposed landmark will be erected on Taal Volcano and will be positioned following the contours of the volcano.
The letters of the proposed “Batangas” signage, which would measure 14-meters tall and cover around 110 meters of land, would use the same font as that of the Hollywood sign, said Leviste.
According to the report, Batangas tourism office official Emelie Katigbak also proposed the construction of floating restaurants or fish pens on Taal Lake.
Katigbak said the restaurants or fish pens would form the words “Ala eh,” an expression commonly used by Batangueños.
Governor Recto, meanwhile, said the proposals are still under review. She added that the local government has yet to allocate a budget for the project.
(end quote)

Dear Ate Vi,
With all due respect, may we suggest a much better sign?

Nora Pa rin

Please don’t mess with our volcano.
Thank you very much,
Cecile van Straten
Member, GANAP
Grand Alliance for Nora Aunor Philippines

Wow Philippines!

So many sad things have been happening all around:
1) The security guard in our neighborhood convenience store was shot dead by a robber.
2) The motorcycle of my hairstylist’s husband was stolen by a 16-year-old neighbor.
3) The brother of my assistant was killed for the payroll.
4) So I read KLM is pulling out flights to Manila because of high taxes slapped on the airline by the Philippine government. Not good for my Dutch family. Is it true that Philippine Airlines is not allowed to land on Schiphol because it owes the Dutch airport $2 million in fees?
5) The other night I had an argument with a traffic enforcer who wanted to confiscate my driver’s license. I am still confused whether confiscating of drivers licenses is legal or not?

More than ever, I feel like this country is going to the dogs.
I’m confused because I love this country, there’s no place like home. And yet—where do we take some Dutch and Japanese to see and experience the beauty of the Philippines?
A group of us planned a day trip to Tagaytay via Black Fleet and specifically to dine at Antonio’s Garden.
We decided to meet up at The New World Hotel where our Japanese friends were staying.

Back: The Dutch contingent (my father-in-law, Joris and Jeroen)
Front: Kristine, Sayoko, Keri, Junko, Jay, Jude

To make it more fun, I hired the highly imposing Black Fleet to take us to Tagaytay.


I first saw the Black Fleet outside the hotel Justin Bieber was staying at and wondered what the hell it was. Besides Justin Bieber, The Black Fleet recently had Westlife as passengers.
The Dutch boys hung out in the back.


While the rest of us behaved like school kids in the front seats. We enjoyed the fully stocked minibar and DVD movie with Paul Rudd and Michelle Pfeiffer.
The driver and “conductor” were very courteous and professional. Though the ride was a bit too bumpy for comfort, these two plus the company of friends and family made the journey very exciting.


But first, Keri needed to find buko pie for her son along the way. We were frantically searching for Colette (not the legendary French boutique as the Japanese thought) but the legendary buko pie baker.
After passing by four Colette stores (they are everywhere but on the wrong side of the road), Keri mentioned that Rowena’s had better buko pie. Within five minutes, we were parked at Rowena’s store.
What a relief to get down for a bit. I think we all bought something. The store is nicely stocked with all  kinds of interesting products, definitely worth a stopover.

Kristine and I planned the trip with Sayoko

Jay found the most exotic dried fish we have ever seen


Joris and Jeroen tried the apple pie


Love this bus


We stopped by the Cliffhouse to view the Taal Lake



Jude and I dress like twins, almost


We also toured one of the four rooms in the Inn at the Cliffhouse


Had a quick snack at Café Breton


Must-have: butter and sugar crepe!


And back to the bus


We arrived a bit early at Antonio’s Garden. This is Junko


Joris and Jan


They prepared this beautiful table setting for our party of nine



A view of Antonio’s Breakfast, open from 7 AM to 4 PM only


Romantic brick lane


Huge garden, good enough for a small wedding


Jude suggested we spend some time exploring the compound before dinner




Indoor dining area



We also had a choice to sit indoors, just in case it rained


But Chef definitely loves the outdoors


Dinner was served


I had the best fresh mango juice served in a glass of mango ice (made me think about making Coke ice cubes at home)


We shared a small lechon ordered in advance


Jeroen’s steak


A trio of panna cotta


plus a host of other dishes I didn’t photograph.

Chefs Jude and Jeroen

All done


And we’re back at the New World Hotel at 10:45 PM.


Thanks very much to Sab Jose of The Black Fleet for the special arrangement.
To know more about them, go to

To know more about Antonio’s, go to

Apple to shut stores Wednesday for Jobs memorial

By Poornima Gupta
SAN FRANCISCO | Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:50pm EDT


(Reuters) – Apple Inc plans to shutter U.S. retail stores for several hours on Wednesday so employees can take part in a company-wide celebration of co-founder Steve Jobs’ life, a person familiar with the celebration said.
Store employees in United States will use that time to view a live broadcast of the event, which is being held at an outdoor amphitheater at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.
The celebration — which will be held from 10 a.m. PT to 11:30 a.m. PT — follows a private memorial service for the late tech visionary at Stanford University attended by Silicon Valley luminaries, politicians and celebrities.
Many stores across California were not accepting online bookings for Wednesday morning, either for tech-support or tutorial appointments.
Employees across Asia and Australia will be able to view a re-broadcast of the celebration, the person said.
An Apple spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.
Jobs died on Oct 5 at the age of 56 after a long battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Chief Executive Tim Cook had said in a memo to employees on October 10 that a celebration of his life would be held Wednesday.

Stop me!

I used to think stuffed toys were for kids, but some time in the ’80s, I was toured around designer Paolo Basa’s home and saw a cute little teddy bear on his beautiful bed. It looked like an old bear that had been loved for years.
I happen to love bears. So when I saw this cute little bear at the Jean-Paul Hevin chocolate store in Hong Kong, I just had to take it home.

Jean Paul Hevin bear

The bear sleeps on my bed. Add this to the Peninsula Bear I got in Hong Kong in 2005, which the boys claimed as their own.

Yay for Peninsula bear

Last week I found the agnés b. bear at the IFC mall in Hong Kong. I had to have that too. So cute!!


Then I took a picture of them together and I got scared.


I’m scared because when I saw the bears together, I thought, I don’t wanna be one of those people who collect things like clowns. Yikes!! No offence, but the idea is so Kuya Germs.


No offence, but I’m scared of people who collect clowns or figurines or thimbles or refrigerator magnets.

Clown Collection

Clowns on Stage

Afraidy Aguilar!!

Yikes! I just saw the Cathay Pacific bear. Stop me! #afraid!!

Cathay Pacific bear

The CBTL Great Exchange

What does it take to enjoy a good cup of tea or coffee?
Do you have to wait ten minutes as your coffee maker brews a pot of cuppa?
Do you have to pass by a coffee shop on your way to work to and wait in line for a latte?
Does it have to be so complicated?
Not if you head to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s CBTL Great Exchange.

CBTL poster

“To put it simply, the CBTL makes it possible for coffee and tea aficionados to take the distinctive Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf experience inside their own homes,” says Walden Chu, President of the The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Philippines.
“To get everyone started, all they have to do is bring their used coffee machines to designated exchange sites to get Php 2,000 off their purchase of the CBTL single-serve system.”


The CBTL allows you to create over 50 of your favorite Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf hot drinks with ease.
Think four types of brewed coffee (House, Decaf House, Viennese, and French), four espresso variants (Italian, Premium, Premium Decaf, and Continental), and four of the brand’s top-selling tea blends (Moroccan Mint, Chai, and Tropical Passion).
Blends are packed in vacuum-sealed capsules to preserve the freshness and full flavor of the drinks.

CBTL capsules

Take advantage of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s Roving Great Exchange:
October 17-23, 2011 at the Power Plant Mall
November 4-13 at Ayala Terraces, Cebu
November 30 at the Greenbelt 5 Galley
December 2-6 at the Greenbelt 5 Galley

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