Monday, 25 August 2014

Restaurant Review: Buddy's Pancit Lucban (Lucban, Quezon)

After checking in at Batis Aramin Resort, Jandy, Maricar, Violet, Lanny and I motored to Buddy’s Pancit Lucban at the town proper to sample some of Lucban’s famous culinary treats for dinner. The restaurant is strategically located and not hard to find as it could be found just across the town's municipal hall and beautiful plaza (Rizal Park). As the streets of the town are narrow, I had to park my Toyota Revo a block away.
The first Buddy’s Pancit Lucban branch was established here in 1991,by Mr. Salvador “Buddy” Veluz. Today, it has 11 branches in the country – 5  in the Quezon province and 6 in Metro Manila. This branch, like any other Buddy’s branch, was decorated with colorful chandeliers made of rice kiping, sunflowers, and indigenous products from Quezon, all inspired from the town's Pahiyas Festival.
Dining areaDining area
It being dinnertime, the restaurant was literally packed to the rafters and we were lucky to get a table for the 5 of us.  We ordered Buddy's signature dishes - hardinera (P220) pancit Lucban (P165) and longganisa Lucban (P125/dozen).  Pancit Lucban, a Quezon noodle dish popularly known as pancit habhab, is normally served in banana leaves and eaten straight off of the leaf.  It is made a lot tastier with vinegar poured  on it.
Ceiling with kipingCeiling with kiping
Hardinera, the province’s variation of embutido (Philippine version of meat loaf), is made of diced pork cooked in tomato sauce with green and red bell pepper strips, pineapple slices and spices added, topped with cheese and hard boiled egg, and steamed in an oval metal pan called a llanera.
Longganisang Lucban is a garlicky pork sausage that looks like a shorter version of chorizo de bilbaoBuddy’s serves it slightly toasted to customers.  We liked this so much, we placed another order.
Lucban longganisaLucban longganisa
Other Buddy's favorites include sisig, porkchop steak, spaghetti, asado sandwich, super buddy burger, sago't gulaman, lumpia mixed vegetables (P65), super buddy pizza, cassava cake (budin), fresh lumpiang ubod and crispy pata. Overall, the food tasted really good and was budget-friendly.
Pancit LucbanPancit Lucban
Buddy's Pancit Lucban: 99 Avenida Rizal, Lucban, Quezon. Tel.: (042) 540 - 3394, (042) 540-9575 and (042) 911-1178.
How To Get There: Lucban is located 160.36 km. from Manila and 23.7 kms. north of Lucena City. From Manila, it can be accessed via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX, exit at Turbna) and the Manila East Road.

Resort Review: Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel (Lucban, Quezon)

Date of Stay: April 4-5, 2014
RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: ******
Rooms: ********
Condition and Cleanliness: ********
Staff Performance: ******
Room Comfort: *******
Food and Beverage: *******
Other Amenities: *******
Value for Money: *******

Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel
Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel
Multi-Purpose Hall
Multi-purpose hall
Situated at the foot of lush Mt. Banahaw, this 2.5-hectare Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel, across the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine and Healing Center, was formally opened by Mr. Filomeno D. Valde in 1997 with a swimming pool and several cottages.  

The 14-room Aramin Hotel was built in 2005 and the multi-purpose sports court was added in 2006. An airconditioned multi-purpose halls were added. Several villas were also built in 2007.
Pretty Paw
Pretty Paw
The resort is accessed via a quiet private road with a guardhouse.  The resort offers a choice of accommodations, all of them fully air-conditioned. 

The  Aramin Hotel has 14 2-4 pax rooms with queen-size beds,  private ensuite bath with hot and cold water, cable TV, telephone and coffee making facility. 
The 4-8-pax Amihan has rooms with 2-4 queen-size beds, some with kitchens.  The 10-pax Fidez Resthouse has 4 double beds, kitchen and a private pool.  The 6-13-pax Harana has  family rooms with single and double bed options plus a kitchen. The 4-14-pax Marikit has single, double and queen-size bed options.  The 2-pax Pretty Paw has double and queen-size bed options plus a balcony and receiving area. 
Reception area and front desk
Reception area and front desk
Swimming pool
Swimming pool
Aramin Hotel
The 14-room Aramin Hotel
Room 105The resort also has a restaurant, 1000-pax grand hall, function halls, bar (Kindagally), a hanging bridge (Lambingan Bridge) and swimming pools (with freezing-cold spring water).  
Its Batis Aramin Adventure Camp, ideal for team building activities, has an obstacle course, rope course, an open field area, a 50 ft. high wall climbing tower and a 150 m. long zipline.

Author and Jandy at Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel
Author and Jandy at Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel

Breakfast at the balcony

Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel: Lucban-Tayabas Rd, Brgy. Malupak, Lucban, 4328 Quezon. Tel: (042) 540 4401. Fax: (042) 540-7320. E-Mail:  Website:
How To Get There: Lucban is located 160.36 km. from Manila and 23.7 kms. north of Lucena City. From Manila, it can be accessed via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX, exit at Turbna) and the Manila East Road.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

HKTA presents "My Time For ......" Campaign

HKTB Exec. Director Mr. Anthony Lau
Last August 14, in a press briefing held at the Davao Room of the Philippine Plaza Sofitel Manila, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) presented its "My Time For ...." Campaign which highlights nine authentic core experiences (Dining; Shopping; City Icons; Heritage and Tradition; Hong Kong After Dark; Great Outdoors; Festivals; Sports; and Art) that await visitors as they explore the sights and sounds of Hong Kong.  Like a local, they can apply the consumer insights and new trends  on what travelers look forward to during their travel.

According to HKTB Exec. Director (since 2007) Mr. Anthony Lau, "We want our visitors to know, see and feel that a trip to Hong Kong never disappoints and always gives you a wonderful experience by going deeper to uncover unique insights to show fun and authentic experiences through the eyes of local experts."  In a partnership with key local opinion leaders, a series of short entertaining videos showcasing a different kind of experience was produced and some were shown to members of media during the press briefing.

Hong Kong's 4 Brand DNAs

HKTB PR Manager Ms. Vivien Cheong (left)
The first, My Time For Indulgence, featured British-born, Canadian-raised Michelin star chef Alvin King Lon Leung who is well-known for breaking down traditional Chinese food to its bare essence, using it to create new interpretations in modern form.  In the video, he showed the audience how to consume (almost) a whole cow, through culinary experiences in Sheung WanTemple Street and Wan Chai.

The second, My Time For Renewal, stars Hong Kong-based Filipino architect, interior designer and style blogger J.J. Acuna, who is the founder and editor of "The Wanderlister+," a personal art, design, lifestyle and trends report for Asia.  In the video, he takes the viewers  on a journey to put together a gentleman look that is sure to impress your friends,  taking viewers on a unique journey through Hong Kong, sourcing for different clothes to style himself as a gentleman.

The third, My Time for Urban Escapes, featured Jason Godfrey, a Canadian-Filipino model, writer, actor and host of "The Savvy Guide."  A lover of the great outdoors, this certified diver and proficient climber has traipsed to the top of volcanoes, flipped a fully loaded canoe in Level 3 rapids, dived around shipwrecks and climbed piles of rocks.  In the video, he shows viewers how and where to get the best suntan while in Hong Kong. The last video, My Time For Summer Fun, features 1,600 pandas on an adventurous tour through Hong Kong's family-friendly hot spots.

The HKTB has also developed the My Hong Kong Guide, an interactive mobile application  that caters to the free and independent traveler who, when they travel, plan their own itinerary, book and stay connected online to get inspiration on what travelers are doing in Hong Kong.  Here, you can also share your Hong Kong adventures with friends on social media.

The online Hong Kong Insider's Guide, a series of guides that compiles stories, recommendations and tips on Hong Kong from people in the know, also has something new for the traveler. Now, you can discover real, up-to-the-minute  local advise to guide you through many exciting experiences and adventures as you pick a topic that can interest you, whether it be incredible Chinese superstitions, funky art galleries in "Industrial Revolution," traditions and spirituality, etc.

The quirky Ask the Boss Facebook contest will also start its winter run come end of September. Here, participants can channel enthusiasm and creativity, in the most persuasive note, to convince their boss, via email, why they deserve a exhilarating holiday in Asia's World City.  To join, participants simply need to choose their favorite Hong Kong moment and tell the boss, via a most inventive leave request, why they need this trip to renew and rekindle their passion for the job.  The most creative applicant can win a 4 day/3 night trip and usher in the New Year in Hong Kong.  Deadline for submission is on August 11 and contest winners will be announced on September 2, 2014.

Hong Kong Tourism Board: 9-11/F, Citicorp Center, 18 Whitfield Road, North Point, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2807 6543 and +852 2806 0303. Email:

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Musical Review: Pinocchio

Pinocchio the musical

(Excerpt from my article featured in
Noel Comia as Pinocchio
After a 10-year hiatus, Repertory Philippines’ again re-stages the Theater for Young Audiences' musical play "Pinocchio," the familiar story of a young wooden puppet who wanted to become a real boy and whose nose grew when he told a lie.  Now on its third staging (the first was in 1996), this classic, beloved and well-known tale, set in old Italy, was originally written as the serial Le Avventure di Pinocchio (“The Adventures of Pinocchio”) by Italian writer Carlo Collodi in 1881 and has charmed generation after generation of fairy tale enthusiasts. 

This story has been filmed many times and its popularity was given a boost when Walt Disney made it into a popular 1940 animated film. Its latest live-action version, in 2002, starred the 50-year-old Oscar-winner Roberto Benigni. Last August 12, the inner child in us was brought to life, at least for an hour and a half, when we watched the premiere of the award-winning, feel-good musical Pinocchio at Greenbelt’s Onstage Theater.  
The Blue Fairy and Pinocchio

Liesl Batucan as the Blue Fairy
The boy-sized puppet Pinocchio was the greatest masterpiece created by Maestro Gepetto, the caring and generous puppet and toy maker who always longed for a son. As a reward for Gepetto's remarkably generous spirit, the Blue Fairy brings the puppet to life (well, almost), telling Pinocchio that if he always obeys his father, she will turn him into a “real” boy. 

However, all magic comes with a price, and Pinocchio must be able to pay that price in order for the magic to stay.  Alas, the best laid plans can sometimes go awry as the curious, impressionable, and a sincere Pinocchio's boyish longing and na├»ve innocence leads him away from his father and into trouble time and time again.  

Along the way, he also gets into an adventure unlike any other - from the Land of the Toys (“the best place in the world” where “smart” kids like them can create make a “donkey” out of a teacher) to the belly of a giant, Italian-speaking sperm whale (where he is finally reunited with Gepetto). In the end, Pinocchio learns that there is no love is greater than that of a father’s love for a son. 
Angelina, Pinocchio, Gepetto and Antonio

Arnel Carrion as Antonio
This new and fresh production of Repertory Philippines’ Pinocchio, adapted for the stage by Jim Eiler (music by Jim Eiler and Jeanne Bargy) and directed by Joy Virata  (artistic director of Repertory Philippines Theater for Young Audiences), is a modern and beautiful remix of the original story told with vim, verve and vibrancy. 

A real treat for the entire family, this fresh and really brilliant onstage rendition was alive, charming and bursting with energy as the adults and children in the audience it were held spellbound by the visually stunning and colorful set design (by London-based Oliver Roxas-Green), costumes (Liz Batoctoy) and flurry of masks; the witty, clever and catchy songs and dialogue of Colodi’s comic characters; and the merriment.  

It is truly a completely unique theater experience with a good message (the importance of good behavior) that everybody from all walks of life will enjoy. Noel Comia Jr. (Aladdin and the Magic Lamp and Jack and the Beanstalk), who played Pinocchio during the show, was chosen from a pool of 18 auditionees of which 6 thespians were chosen to alternately play the title role.  

The five others were Albert Silos (the youngest of the six,  one of the royal children in “The King and I” at Resorts World Manila and the young prince in Ang Prinsipe at ang Pulubi at Gantimpala Theater), the 11-year-old Sofia Wong (has been part of the musicals by Chancel for the past four years, the 10-year-old Andee Achacoso, (her first professional theater debut), 10-year-old Daniel Drilon (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Guido Gatmaytan (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and Trumpets’ Bluebird of Happiness).  These delightfully brilliant and professional children brought an endearingly unique touch of their own personality to the title character. 
Gino and Candlewick tempting Pinocchio

Signore Gatto and Signore Volpone
Supporting these young ones were a bevy of veteran and up-and-coming actors and actresses with varied theater experiences.  Liesl Batucan, who played Pinocchio in 1996, played the role of the kind and gentle Blue Fairy, an omniscient presence and motherly figure who is generous to those pure of heart and looks out for and guides Pinocchio.  

Her alternates are Christine Flores and Cara BarredoOliver Unison played the elderly, noticeably warm-hearted and caring, spirited and fun loving Maestro Gepetto.  His alternates are Miguel Faustmann and Nic Campos.  Arnel Carrion played Antonio, the carpenter friend of Gepetto and the story's good-natured narrator who interacts with the audience throughout the show with his inviting, engaging, energetic charm and “Buon Giorno” song.  His alternates are James Stacey and Nic Campos

Natalie Everett played Angelina, Geppetto’s thoughtful and clever housekeeper who cares deeply for Geppetto’s well being and possesses a loving rapport with him.  Her alternates are Ring Antonio, Bituin Escalante and Goldie SoonChris George Schulze played Candlewick, the young and rambunctious rule-breaker and smart-aleck street urchin with a bratty and mischievous attitude who leads Pinocchio into trouble with several other boys.  His alternates are Antonio Lane, Jay Pangilinan and Daniel Delgado
Signore Gatto and Volpone duping the gullible Pinocchio

The supporting cast
Jef Flores played the curious Signore Volpone, the ringleader of a sinister plot to exploit naive children. Portrayed as a fox, this dishonest but wise thief, with great cunning and craftiness, operates as the "brains" of the operation and keeps his sidekick Signore Gatto in his place.  

His alternates are Chris George Schulze and Only Torres. Chino Veguillas played Signore Gatto, the dishonest thief and less intelligent sidekick of Signore Volpone. Portrayed as a cat, he blindly follows his boss Signore Volpone. His alternates are Steven Hotchkiss and Kendrick Ibasco

Steven Conde played Gino, the equally naughty sidekick of Candlewick who also helps Pinocchio disobey his father. His alternates are Thea Gloria, Cara Barredo and Vien Alen KingBituin Escalante played the evil Coachman who lured children into the sinister “Land of Toys.”  Alternates are Raul Montesa and Only Torres

The ensemble is composed of the following: Astarte Abraham, Khevin Almario, Jorel Bico, Tristan Cheng, Nicolle Cojuangco, Daryl Del Rosario, David Shawn Delgado, Mano Domingo, Raffy Echem, Isabel Fernando, Bianca Mauricio, Vinni Misa, Gabri Panlilio, Justine Pena, Cristy Peredo, James Perez, Mark Salazar, Ina Salonga, Peregrine Santiago and Dwight Vito Cruz.  

The ballet dancers were Erica Jacinto, Jacqui Jacinto, Joni Galeste, Jeff Comeros and Mark Joseph Pineda while the acrobats were Clark Francis dela Riva, Tristan Cheng and Chill Ocampo.
Gepetto and Pinocchio inside the stomach of the whale

Pinocchio, presented through special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI), is set to open on August 16, 2014 at Onstage, 2/F, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas cor. Legazpi St., Makati City. The show will run until December 12, 2014. For show details, contact tel: 843-3570 and 451-1474, email or log on to  Tickets are also available through Ticketworld at 891-9999 or visit