30 March 2007

Walking on Sunshine

Raymond Lauchengco's concert was a night of surprises.

When we entered Teatrino, we didn't expect it to be laid-out like a cozy restaurant. We got seated very near the stage, and a waiter promptly handed over the menu. Having had dinner only moments before, we simply ordered for drinks.

While chatting the time away, a pretty lady hovered around and talked with the guests. "That must be Mia, Raymond's wife", Tina casually said. Yes, we are now on a first-(name) basis with the celebrities.

A little while later she arrived at our table and her face lighted up with recognition. "Tina! Nick!", she exclaimed. Have I mentioned that we're first-name basis with celebrities? :-)

She knew us from the photos in my blog actually. My wife then handed over a basket of strawberries to Mia, who was truly gracious in receiving the pasalubong. Thanks Mia for the autographed poster too!

Soon enough the concert started with a brief announcement and the stage curtain was lifted. A 7-piece orchestra played broadway style and Raymond Lauchengco dashed into the stage!

Whoa. I was still half-expecting the voice I've heard from 20 years ago. Now, his voice is fuller, more mature, and with a broadway feel to it.

After a couple of songs, he did a medley of tunes he was identified with through the years which include Shadow of Time (which I haven't heard for so many years and then I recalled it just then), So It's You, Farewell (very popular with graduation rites).

Raymond then mentioned that we has cutting a new album which was hopefully going to be released real soon, and that he will be singing some songs from that album. Well, I'm not really a fan of sneak peeks and would rather hear familiar tunes for the rest of the concert. But the songs he did were fun! I won't say what they were right now for you might want to watch his concert too. It'll be a nice surprise.

He also belted out a number of Broadway songs. Surprisingly, I was able to correlate too, though I'm not big on plays. He did the more popular ones anyway.

Overall it was definitely an enjoyable evening. Raymond even greeted us from the stage! That was an awkward moment for me; I don't like being the center of attention. But still, that was a nice surprise.

This part was real nice. A single spotlight was focused on the biggest mirror ball, spreading soft rays of light into the dimly-lit hall. I can't catch the effect with the camera, unfortunately. Still got lots to learn.

Two more shows on the running for this series. Visit www.raymondlauchengco.com for details.

28 March 2007

Cafe by the Ruins

Cafe by the Ruins is one of the more popular spots in Baguio City for winding down after the day's tour of the city. Here you can relax and sip salabat (ginger tea) or coffee. The place has a soothing ambience, which is a surprise considering that it's still close to the business district. It's actually located very near the City Hall.

When we have guests from the "lowlands", we bring them to this place for good food and for catching up.
I had champorado with tinapa (chocolatey rice porridge with shredded smoked fish). The pot has salabat (ginger tea) in it. My companions, unfortunately, do not like it inspite of its reputation in improving your singing voice. And what about my voice? Ummm....

Follen had shredded beef ...while my wife ordered chicken with fries (which Jo-Lo loves).
There was one time when we went here one afternoon and it rained real hard. No worries. We ordered hot beverages and hot soup and spent the afternoon chatting. It was really nice and relaxing.

26 March 2007

The Philippine Military Academy

The Philippine Military Academy (or PMA) has been in existence for over a hundred years now. It is the prime education center for those who aspire to serve the country as military personnel.

Its location in Baguio City make it also a popular tourist spot. A leisurely walk around the campus reveals breathtaking scenery and beautiful flowers.

This wide expanse is the place where the commencement exercises are held. It is televised over the local broadcast stations, and is expectedly attended by high-ranking military personnel.

A glorious day at the grounds. We were actually here for my wife's Family Day at school. I had to fall in line for our lunch food and stayed under the sun for 15-20 minutes, imagining how it's like for the cadets to stand for hours in similar weather. Guess what. I got sunburned! Surprise surprise. There are grounded planes, cannons, and tanks on display. They are popular photo-op areas.

There's a regular jeepney transportation to and from PMA (the terminal is at Burnham Park near Hotel Veniz). It takes under half an hour to get there, and the travel takes you through roads bordered with pine trees on both sides (this is the American Embrassy / Voice of America area). Beautiful.

22 March 2007

The raisin bread mystery

A couple of Christmases ago, I received a gift from a colleague the day before I was going home to Baguio for the holidays. It was bread rolled in colored plastic and tied with a festive ribbon. Being a perishable item, I unwrapped it upon reaching the apartment to try it out.

Ooooh! It was the most delicious raisin bread I ever tasted! The sweetness is just right, the bread soft and tender, and the raisins were so abundant, they were falling off the bread!

It was sooo good that I decided to save some to bring to my wife in Baguio. And when I saw her the following morning, I immediately gave her share and prodded her to give it a bite. She agreed with me. It was great bread indeed.

I thought to ask my colleague where he bought the bread but the holiday activities took up most of our time, and the inquiry was postponed, til it was time for me to get back to work.

Guess where the bread can be bought from. The Baguio Country Club. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The raisin bread made a round trip to Manila and back to Baguio!

I have been buying their raisin bread whenever we get a chance to visit the Baguio Country Club ever since, as pasalubong and for personal consumption. They have maintained the same yummy raisin bread I first tasted a couple of years ago. Half a loaf costs P59 plus tax and a whole loaf (shown here) costs P105 plus tax. Believe me, it's worth every cent.

20 March 2007

Raymond Lauchengco's Classic Romance: Walking On Sunshine The Series

I got an SMS one afternoon from my wife last week. "Dear, I hope we can watch Raymond Lauchengco perform in a concert. I'm a big fan of his."

Raymond Lauchengco in a concert? Sure, I saw his music CD some time back with revivals of his 80s hits. But I did not know he was doing concerts recently. I'm sure my wife saw a schedule lineup with him in it.

"Check the schedules at http://raymondlauchengco.com," came another SMS.

Oooh... this is going to be a real nice change from the usual walks in the parks and restaurant dine-ins.

Raymond Lauchengco, I'm sure, is a familiar name to you. His rise to stardom started with the 80s movie Bagets. His singing career prospered simultaneously with his acting. Then he went off to pursue other interests.

Watching the Bagets DVD last year (released in celebration of the movie's 20th anniversary) and their interviews really brought a lot of happy memories of my high school. Yep, this concert will indeed be something I shall enjoy as well.

In case you're interested, here's the rest of the Series sched and contact information:
For ticket inquiries, contact TicketWorld at 891-9999 or Teatrino at 721-0635/721-6726. Or you can contact the show buyers for the night:
March 29 - 0917-5334206
April 12 - Creative Futures 374-4822
April 19 - EJ Pagalilauan (0919) 236-3355

Venue: Teatrino at the Promenade, Greenhills at 8:30 in the evening. Ticket prices begin at a very reasonable Php 500.

You may also contact the number indicated on the March 29 date for free ticket delivery for a minimum of 2k worth of tickets (selected areas only).

I'm buying tickets for the March 29 show for me and my wife. I hope I'll see some of you there!

[photo borrowed from raymondlauchengco.com]

In other news... I was looking around for a Bagets photo to display here when I came upon this news... the cast of Bagets 1 and 2 are planning a reunion movie and a soundtrack featuring today's bands! Both will definitely be worth watching out for! Read the news at the Manila Times Internet Edition. Photo at left borrowed from the same article.

19 March 2007

Today's post is brought to you by the color yellow and the number three!

The Orchidarium is a little-known piece of jewel right next to Burnham Park in Baguio City. Here, you can buy an assortment of ornamental plants and garden necessities direct from the growers. I occasionally visit this place to get flowering plants for the house and for my mother, who adores roses and orchids (while my father likes planting vegetables).

We visited the Orchidarium a couple of weekends ago to accompany Follen who was tasked to buy plants to bring to Manila.

The stall below is the one we used to visit regularly back in college. The owner (seen at the far right) still knows us, and gives us a good price for our purchases. On that visit, we bought a hydrangaea for our home. (It's also called mayflowers, and is surrounding us in the photo below. Huge, beautiful clumps of blossoms).

Here are some strikingly-yellow flowers that caught my eye.

All three of us enjoy these visits to the Orchidarium. It's simply beautiful. Plus, it's good to acquaint Jo-Lo with these surroundings so he'll appreciate what beauty there is in Baguio and possibly avert some allergies to flowers someday.

15 March 2007

Baguio's Night Market

I was in Baguio Thursday til Sunday last week for business. I was with colleagues, one of whom (or should it be "one of which?") has a good friend living there. As we neared conclusion of our work last Friday, she gushed about the night market which her friend mentioned and that we ought to go after dinner. When she said it's located at Harrison Road, I knew what she was referring to. The Night Market is something that has been in existence even before the Flower Festival ( or Panagbenga). It was previously being held at Session Road, and then it moved to the road near Burnham Park.

So after dinner, off we went to the Night Market with my wife and Jo-Lo accompanying us.

(I don't know where Jo-Lo acquired this habit: whenever he sees a camera and hears the 1-2-3 countdown, he'd do his "pa-cute" smile. Hilarious. See his other smiling photos here.)

There's an assortment of items to be had at the Night Market. Popular items are woodcraft, beaded necklaces and bracelets, toys, woven clothing, bags, shoes, food!

Here's Mommy Tina and Baby Jo-Lo sharing their snack for the night.

The Night Market is usually there even when there are no holidays so I'm pretty sure you'll still be able to catch it during Holy Week. Really nice just taking a stroll by the park at nighttime with friends and enjoying the cool night air and checking out the items for sale.

13 March 2007

Baby Veggies

This is really quite a coincidence with Ann's "Balimbing" post where she shared photos of veggies and fruits available in their market. The weekend before reading her post, my wife and I were at the market in Baguio for Pinakbet ingredients. I took photos of the small versions of vegetables which are getting quite popular there and here in Manila as well. Ann had a photo of baby potatoes included in her post, and I thought it would be a great blog topic here too.

I'm not sure how these baby veggies came about; for sure, they weren't around back when I was still a permanent resident of Baguio. But these veggies indeed give variety to everyday recipes.

These are baby bitter gourds (ampalaya). My wife simply slices these into two and removes the seeds for Pinakbet. They're not as bitter as their "full-grown" counterparts. At the right side, you can see the greenish baby eggplants.

These are baby tomatoes, also known as cherry tomatoes. This is great when cooked with coconut milk, though I haven't tried that yet. Strange thing is, this plant grows rather wild. We have a couple growing outside our house; I took this photo from there. We had actually "harvested" a handful some weekends ago and added it to one of our veggie meals.
Here's a really nice shot of baby bitter gourds and eggplants.
And here's a photo of baby corn, perfect for chopsuey!

And here are the popular baby potatoes! Preparation of this is quite simple. After washing off the potatoes, boil it until tender. No need to remove the skin! Drain off the water, and add either cream and melted cheese (yummy!), or melt butter on it and add crispy bacon bits. Care to share baby potato recipes?

Me hungry!

PS Thanks to Cathy for suggesting that I watermark my photos! I used Photoshop for the above three photos, though I'm looking for a more lightweight software to do this. Any tip for the Mac? Much appreciated!

07 March 2007

Gathering for Gardner

I will be on field work starting tomorrow afternoon til Sunday, so I'm making my weekend post today.

So what's the title about? Mr. Martin Gardner is an American mathematician and science writer with specialization in recreational mathematics (I'm quoting this from wikipedia). Recreational Mathematics? Mathematics for fun? Sounds impossible, but he is quite a popular guy in the field of puzzles and illusions. Simply magical. Well... don't worry if you haven't heard his name before. It's my first time too.

Which brings me back to more than a decade ago when I visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California. We trooped early to the side of the lake to get good seats for the fireworks show that Disney is so popular for. But it was hours still before the show and while my companions sat comfortably, I decided to venture on my own. I chanced upon the Haunted Mansion and since it was the nearest attraction to the lake, decided to take the ride. I was with a small group when we entered the lobby of the mansion. As we waited for the main door to open, the lights suddenly went off! Overhead, the windows flashed from the lightning outside and it would momentarily illuminate the dome, on the center of which hung a man, very much dead with ropes on his neck! Strangers though we were, we huddled together and each time the lightning struck, it seemed the dome was coming down on us! After what seemed like a long time, the lights got restored, the dead guy's gone, and the dome is waaay up there.

We were then ushered to a door which leads to a narrow, circular staircase. By the wall are a row of frames with portraits of turn-of-the-century dudes. At first glance, there's nothing really peculiar about them, until you look at them while you walk. Their heads are moving and looking right at you as you descend the staircase! I looked at my companions and they, too, were seeing the same illusion! How can that be? The same photo staring at each and every one of us?

Now how they did that has been a mystery to me. The hanging man and lightning trick is somewhat easier to explain, but the photos with their bulging eyes gazing at you? Finally, after over a decade, I know the answer!

The dragon (pictured above) was made in celebration of a gathering for Gardner, hence the title on the pedestal (duh). The dragon is a visual illusion. When you look at the dinosaur and move about, the dinosaur's head would seem to move and gaze back at you! There's a video (in wmv format) in the site showing how the dragon ought to work.

And as an additional treat, a template of the dragon (pdf format, with instructions) is freely downloadable from the website!

I had printed one for myself last week but I had a huge error in the construction. The head is supposed to be concave. I'll make another one over the weekend and make it work this time.

Visit this site today!

There are a lot of other puzzles there as well for your amusement and amazement.

So until next week, have fun with the dragon, and have a magical weekend ahead!

Photo credit: Grand Illusions

06 March 2007

Panagbenga's final weekend: Street fair

After the street dancing and float parade comes a week-long street fair, where Session Road is closed from vehicular traffic and booths are set-up offering a wide spectrum of goodies! Trinkets, food trip, bric-a-bracs, plants, and more food!

My wife, baby Jo-Lo and I dropped by last Saturday afternoon to savour the sights and sounds of the final days of Panagbenga 2007.

There were pockets of landscaped areas that look real nice, and makes you think that with a bit of imagination, you can really do a nice garden theme on such a small space.
This reminded me of Boracay, where you can get a henna tattoo by the beach.

There were also protrait-scketching booths. This one asked for a small donation, whatever amount is ok with you... another booth beside this charged for a fixed amount. P150.00, I think.
Here's one of the nicer food places in the fair.
Lots of nice things can be bought from the fair. Aside from Baguio / Benguet items, there were also booths from other places such as Vigan and Marinduque offering native delicacies and craft.
The Flower Club was demonstrating flower arrangement that afternoon. There were arrangements with vegetables and fruits in them too. Interesting.

Old friend and Jo-Lo's godfather Leo had a booth as well, with nice trinkets and accessories.As the night crawled in, we settled into a small food stall for a quick bite before calling it a night. There were still lots of people around. There was a concert too, but we couldn't stay. Perhaps when Jo-Lo's older.
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