Pope Francis: So much cuteness
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St. Francis of Assisi is often depicted with birds. Lots of them.

St. Francis of Assisi St. Francis of Assisi

No wonder a seagull came to visit the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, just when the new Pope was about to be elected.


Last Sunday, as Pope Francis greeted the faithful from the central lodge of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, a gust of wind blew onto his mantel resulting in these holier-than-thou images.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis with Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini
Pope Francis with Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini

Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini helps with a smile

Pope Francis with Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini

How can you not love him??

Pope Francis with Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini

P.S. Isn’t this cutest?

St. Francis Pope Francis

Gyu-kaku is not ready for consumption
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In 2010, during a trip to Japan, Jeroen and I thought about bringing a grilling concept to Manila.
Our friend Joey Lorenzo told us to check out Gyu-Kaku, a popular grilling chain in the country.
We found one in Shibuya. It was a very casual kind of hole in the wall.

Gyu-Kaku Japan

We liked the vibe and found it charming. The food, not bad.
After a few emails, we found out we had to go through Singapore to get a franchise. We flew to Singapore to meet the owner and found out that casual vibe we enjoyed in Tokyo was nowhere to be found.
It looked kind of posh, which was not what we wanted.

Dividers at Gyu-Kaku

So the idea was scrapped. Then last week at while dining at the Fort, I saw that Gyu-Kaku had opened right next to IHOP.
I thought it would be expensive, so I asked my dad to take us to Sunday lunch.
Luckily I found someone on Twitter who knew the manager. I was able to reserve a table for 8 people at 12 noon.

On Sunday, while getting my hair blown out at home, I started getting calls from a 0915 number that I didn’t recognize.
Signal was bad, so I had a few dropped calls. I wondered what the emergency was.
Then we got connected. Gerda from Gyu-Kaku was confirming if we were coming for lunch. I checked the time, it was 11:30 PM.
“Yes we are coming,” I said.
“What time?” she wanted to know.
“Diba 12 o’clock our reservation?”
“Ah OK.”
So I kept calm and carried on.
By 11:45 we were already in the car. I got another call from Gerda confirming if we were going to be there.
I told her we were in the car and on the way.
“But it’s already 12 o-clock!” she said.
I became nervous and checked the time. “No it’s not! It’s 11:45!”
I felt like I was being pressured to fly over there or lose the table.
I felt my blood pressure shoot up. “What’s your name?”
“Would you please stop calling me or I will tell the owners what you’re doing.”
She hung up. Hence, the blog entry.

We got there at exactly 12 o’clock. I thought there would be a long queue, but the only queue was for IHOP.
I found Gerda on the phone talking to someone on the phone, which she would not put down when I tried to talk to her. Was she harassing other guests?
I found the Singaporean trainer next to her and told her that Gerda had called me five times since 11:30 and it was annoying.
Gerda never said a word or apologized. She just stood there smiling. #manhid

My parents arrived shortly. We tried to order but found out that so many things were not available, like scallops, bacon and certain kinds of beef.
At 12:30 noon, no sign of salad, drinks or even edamame.
Not even beef, which my brother pointed out, is served raw.
To think Gerda was bugging us to be there at 11:30, there we were starving at 12:30. Never mind the adults, I was worried about my kids.
12:45 came. We finally had some food to share—us five adults. We felt so hungry. Where was the rest of our order?


We couldn’t even cook the beef because the coals took so long to arrive. There were no dipping sauces, no rice, no drinks.
The food came in trickles. Here’s my dad’s onigiri that we grilled


The shrimp was good and came in a foil, steamed in garlic butter


The wagyu beef was OK, but expensive (Php 1500++). I liked it, but my dad found it fatty. I found it tiny. Definitely not for sharing.


The other beef order was so tough, it took 48 hours to chew. My dad gave up.
Here’s what we all liked—the grilled Japanese sausage.


I wish I could come back for it, but the service was so bad, my dad called it “the worst meal of my life.” LOL.
Our total bill for 8 people was Php 7,000++. Not bad.
But it was pure chaos. Everybody lacked training. The Singapore trainer shouldn’t leave. Where are the owners?
Twice, the manager and staff would came to our table to say, “Is everything OK?”
And I can’t lie. I said, “We’re coping.”
Not saying you shouldn’t go there. Just don’t go now.

P.S. The kids liked it because they had no idea the adults were trying to manage the bad service. They loved the grilled sausage, which I can probably find in the Japanese grocery anyway.

(Update: this branch is now closed, but a much better Gyu Kaku is open at Shangri-La Plaza East Wing.)

Summer giveaway winners are here!
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Thanks for joining the recent giveaway!
Out of 2,743 valid entries, eight lucky winners were chosen via
Four train cases are packed with goodies from, Freeway, National Bookstore, Ferry Corsten, Urbanears, BagsGo and more.


The winners of the train cases are:
Riza Oiga of Pasig City
Kristine Grace Cutin of Davao City
Myra Landicho of Pasig City
Leon Pangilinan Jr. of Intamuros, Manila

Four Team Manila tote bags are filled with prizes from Goody, The Ramp Crossings, Ferry Corsten, BagsGo, Solo, and


The winners are:
Mariam Genevieve Masahud of Cavite
Jeslito Jr Seen of Quezon City
Aprille Bundalian of Muntinlupa
Alice Cotaoco of Binondo, Manila

After contacting the winners by email, I’ll be sending out the prizes within the week.
Watch out for more giveaways in store this summer! Follow me @chuvaness.

Behind the Building: Privato Tower
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With all the construction going on in the city, one can’t help but wonder just how safe or how well-planned these buildings are.
Among the structures up for completion this 2013 is the condotel Privato Tower right along Pasig City’s Shaw Boulevard.
Here, developer Green Asia Real Estate gives us a sneak a peek on how a high-rise is constructed and what really goes on behind the building.
First off, an official groundbreaking to mark the start of construction. In Privato’s case, it was exactly 14 months and 21 days ago.


The excavation is a tricky part—you get to see how “tough” your foundation is. A happy problem that Privato encountered was a solid, hard bedrock that further enhances the structure’s integrity. It was pure adobe that took months just to dig through.


Getting into the interiors, design planning is always one of the most exciting parts. Here, they made sure every corner was equal in form and function.


In planning a bedroom, take into consideration every movement the resident makes. This includes not having to crouch down just to charge a cellphone, bedside reading at night, and a whole lot more. These are concerns that room planning should revolve around.


An actual model unit should honestly reflect the way a room will look upon turnover. This way, no unpleasant surprises for investors


Privato is proud to work with the best furniture makers in the Philippines. No wonder Filipino craftsmanship is celebrated around the globe.


Onsite, engineers swim through tons of blueprints and endless coordination with architects and designers. Casas+Architects leads the Privato team with Jose Aliling as construction manager and Architect Juan Carlo Calma as interior designer. Enderun Hospitality is the hotel’s professional management team.


One of Privato’s many green features is the use of Silicon Resin or SIREX paint—a low Volatile Organic Compound material that self-washes during the rain. This way, no need to repaint the structure for the next 15 years instead of the usual three to five years.


Last December 12, 2012 or just 11 months from its groundbreaking ceremony, Privato officially topped off. Now they are busy closing the walls and focusing on the interior works.


Located across from Ynares Sports Center and Kapitolyo rotunda, Privato is slated for turnover this 3rd quarter of 2013.


To know more about investing in Privato, visit or

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