Coming Up Roses (


(This feature was published in last December 2014)

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Chez Deo: A stopover for Italian cuisine in Balayan (GMA News Online)

Cozze e Gamberoni - A big serving of seafood pasta

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 16, 2014)

Balayan in Batangas was an unfamiliar destination to me until I met my future husband, whose family hails from there. He would bring me there on road trips at least once a year. The town is popularly known for its Feast Day of San Juan, which coincides with the Parada ng Lechon Festival every June 24.

On any other day, though, there’s not much to do except maybe treat your taste buds to something special from Chez Deo Ristorante Italiano @Gliceria.

It comes as no surprise to see ancestral homes and similar structures in this quiet little town, but it’s amazing to see contemporary establishments like Chez Deo, which is situated in a renovated house and is probably the most “upscale” restaurant in the area.

My first impression was that it felt out of place in this rural location, but when I dined there I felt right at home in the comfortable setting. As we entered the gate, I saw a sprawling lawn that was beautifully landscaped—not too manicured, but not shabby either. The open-air but tented dining area on the ground floor featured simple furnishings—stylish red plastic chairs and tables covered in checkered cloths. From my seat, I had a clear view of the brick oven where they bake their bread and pizzas.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Traipsing through Taipei (GMA News Online)

Maokong Gondola

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 1, 2014)

Taiwan’s unique food culture is what made my hubby and I book a trip to this bustling Asian city. We planned to eat our way through Taipei but we discovered that there’s more to it than food alone.
During our three-day stay, we explored the top main attractions by foot, bus, train and even a cable car! It was so easy to get around there that we intentionally got lost so we could see more of the city. All we had to do was to get a TaipeiPass that allowed us unlimited use of the MRT and city bus.
We created our own itinerary so we could tour at our own pace, and our first agenda was to ride the Maokong Gondola. From the city center, we took the MRT to the Taipei Zoo Station, which had a walkable distance to the cable car entrance. We went there on a Saturday and the crowd was organized and manageable. As first-timers, we made sure to line up for the crystal cabin so we can see through the bottom as we go up to the Maokong Station.
<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Dinner and drinks at new gastropub Wolf & Fox (GMA News Online)

Double Deck Burger

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 1, 2014)

My hubby and I have different tastes in food. I veer toward healthy vegetarian fare and he’s a typical carnivore. While I’m attracted to a plate of greens, he can’t live without meat in his meal—which is why I liked the idea of Wolf & Fox, one of the newest gastropubs in town that opened in May 2014.
We went there early on a Saturday night and it was a good thing, because the place became packed a few minutes later. Instead of opting for one of the tables outside for an al fresco dinner, we decided to enjoy the vibe inside. The wooden interiors and the muted lights made the atmosphere a bit dark, but the high ceiling compensated for it. The walls were adorned with framed portraits of human bodies with animal heads—a bit too bizarre for my liking, but then again, I came for the food and not the artwork.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Sampling souvlaki and other Mediterranean-inspired dishes at OPA (GMA News Online)

Crab Brandade

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last October 26, 2014)

I live to eat. That has always been my mantra and it gives me gustatory pleasure whenever I visit new restaurants or eat my favorite foods. One of the cuisines that my palate has come to like is Mediterranean, a mixture of flavors from the culinary regions of Eastern Mediterranean, South Europe and North Africa.

I recently came across a local restaurant that just launched its new menu inspired by this cuisine. OPA is a hotel restaurant owned and operated by diversiPRO, composed of Chef Dennis T. Edillon, Len L. Santos, and Joubert U. Yao. The establishment serves its guests breakfast buffet everyday, but also opens its doors to the public all day long.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

4 Steps on How to Pursue a Freelance Writing Career (

(This feature was published in last September 6, 2014)

As a child, I never dreamt of becoming a doctor, lawyer or even a beauty queen. In fact, I thought I would be an architect like my dad or an accountant like my mom. Then as I grew up, I realized that I like words more than numbers and discovered my interest in writing.

My passion for it deepened when I first saw my name in print at our high school newspaper. I was bitten bad by the writing bug so I pursued it as a course in college and eventually went into that career path after I graduated from the university and worked in a publishing company.

I got addicted to seeing my byline and never attempted to cure myself of that malady—I doubt if I ever will.

More than a decade after I stepped out of the university, I’m still writing and I’m doing it as a full-time freelance writer. I get to write about my travels, food trips, and other lifestyle-related activities for various print and online publications. I often get the comment, “I love your job!” I do, too. It took a while though to establish myself in this field, as success didn’t come overnight.

Here are some tips on how to be an effective freelance writer.

Step 1: Ask yourself, “Do I really want to become a writer?”

I’ve heard the saying that “Writers are born and not made”, but I believe that most writers are born with the talent although training also plays a big role in a writer’s life. Even if you are unsure of having innate writing capabilities, you can still become a master of the pen through education and practice. The important thing is committing to it.

Step 2: Establish your network

Whether you earn a communications/literary degree or something totally unrelated, you can still become a freelance writer if you have good connections with people from the industry. How? Attend writing workshops, go to book signing events, sign up for seminars, and the like. Be present at events where you can meet likeminded individuals and other people from the industry. All it takes is having one editor-friend who would give you a chance. Once you get your foot in the door, it becomes easy to build your byline one article at a time.

Step 3: Always wear your writer’s hat

The secret to being a good writer is practice, practice, and more practice. You can only get better by doing so. In order to find topics to write about, you need to be a voracious reader and have an open mind. By reading literature written by your favorite authors, you’ll get inspiration for your own writing style and voice. By being open-minded and thinking out-of-the-box, you’ll find new and unique story angles that you can pitch to publications. Along the way, you’ll get to create your own portfolio where you can showcase your sample works or published pieces. Don’t forget to keep on pitching your ideas to the websites or magazines you want to write for so you’ll get better chances of being published.

Step 4: Build a good reputation

Remember, you are only as good as your last byline. Every time you have a writing gig, you should keep in mind that editors want a disciplined writer who has a good grasp of grammar and can stick to deadlines. Make sure that your work fits the style and tone of the publication and that you submit on time. That way, your editor will keep you top of mind for future assignments.

3 Reasons Why You Should Hike Mt. Pinatubo (Looloo)


(This feature was published in Looloo last October 20, 2014)

Mention Mount Pinatubo to tourists and trekking tours come to mind. But before it became one of the major tourist attractions in the central region of Luzon, it was just another dormant volcano. In fact, it lay sleeping for almost 500 years until it decided to wake up with fury in June 1991 and caused one of the most cataclysmic volcanic eruptions in the 20th century.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Inasal, desserts, seafood: What to eat on your Bacolod food trip (Rappler)

Inasal meal at Manokan Country

(This feature was published in Rappler last October 4, 2014)

A foodie’s haven – that’s how I would describe Bacolod City. I know the place is most famous for its inasal na manok (barbecue chicken), but I only realized how rich its food culture is when I visited the destination.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Oysters unlimited (sometimes) at El Cangrejo (GMA News Online)

Baked scallops

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last September 22, 2014)

Healthy eating has become my mantra ever since I entered my mid-30s. I have become more conscious about my intake, making sure that I consume food that is good for me. I haven’t gone vegetarian, but I practice my palate to eat healthy, which means consuming more lean meat than cholesterol-laden foods. Now I go for seafood more than other types of meat.

My most recent restaurant discovery—El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro—may be a long drive from my place of residence, but it’s definitely worth the trip.

From sea to table

Although he has no formal culinary training, Mikael Andre Degilla’s love of food—particularly seafood—motivated him to open his first restaurant venture in November 2013. He co-owns the restaurant with his wife Maita, brother Leandro, Zeus Yee, and chef Niño Runas, who helped him design the menu.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

California Pizza Kitchen unveils new flavors, new ‘island’ layout (GMA News Online)

Fettuccine with Mushroom Truffle Cream Sauce

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last September 14, 2014)

I remember having my first taste of the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza of California Pizza Kitchen back in college, over a decade ago. Its unusual flavor appealed to my palate then, and I’m not surprised that the item is still available today.

There are now 10 branches of CPK all over the metro, and the latest one in Century City Mall presents a new dining layout and new additions to the menu as well.

The secret to success

The Century City Mall branch also features a first for CPK worldwide: a layout that Archie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts Inc. (which brought the brand to  the Philippines), calls its “island concept.”

“We call it an ‘island’ because it’s located in the center of the mall, without walls, and yet has our trademark open pizza kitchen,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to do this concept for a while now.”

The new branch can accommodate 80 guests and the open space allows mall-goers to see the restaurant from any angle, which lets the establishment showcase its food and service at the same time.


<Read the rest of the article HERE>