Amici - Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! of Mckinley Hill, Taguig


Great pasta and gelato in one place. That's the best way to describe Amici. Me and my officemates visited the Taguig branch (Venice Piazza, Mckinley Hill) of this restaurant after the long and tiring day at the office. Amici is popular for its Italian cuisines which is from pasta to pizza and even their sweet and refreshing gelatos. Just a perfect getaway after work. Please bare with the photos below. I only used my camera phone for this entry (forgot again to bring my camera with me).  =]

It is not only the food that is great about this place, aside from the excellent service to match, Amici also provides a warm ambiance where people will really enjoy their dining experience. If you are looking for superb Italian food, I gladly recommend to visit Amici.

Sophisticated interior

This is not the first time we eat at Amici. On our first visit (I'm not yet a blogger back then) we only tried their pizzas and haven't tried to taste their pasta. So this time around, all we ordered was their different shades and flavors of pasta. But I promise to make another blog entry for their pizzas and gelatos the next time I dine here again.

love the taste of it with the dip on top :]
Spinach Artichoke (235 pesos)
Creamy spinach artichoke dip served with parmesan coated pizza crust wedges. I know I mentioned this entry will feature pasta but one of my officemate can't resist to order this one. Hi Madam!  :]

Linguine Al Prosciutto Tartufo (288 pesos)
Prosciutto, porcini and shitake mushrooms, truffle oil. All-olio d'Oliva or Olive oil based pastas. Served with focaccia bread

Linguine Al Salmone Cremoso (305 pesos)
Linguine pasta in a creamy, zesty mix of salmon, white sauce and a hint of lemon

Spaghetti Al Tesori Del Mare (332 pesos)
Fresh tomatoes, scallops, clams, mussels, chili oil Con Salsa Rosa or Tomato-based pastas (mildly spicy). Served with focaccia bread  -- My favorite among the four pastas we ordered. Love the lil spicy flavor.

Rosemary Sausage Spaghetti (295 pesos)
Rosemary herbed Italian sausage with roasted bell peppers in fresh pomodoro sauce and topped with basil

Pollo Arrostito (280 pesos)
Rosemary half chicken baked to perfection and served with veggies

Thank you for the treat Madam Tina :] (photo from Kris Pandoro)
Also I'm with the author of Metro Street Bites (Jean) and Pocket Wise Pinoy (Ate Kath) - the 2 in the left side

Expense: 2,426.73 pesos (with 2 mango shakes) + 199.73 pesos (service charge)
Location: The Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill Rd, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig

Ratings based on my experience [0-5, 5 is the highest] :
Taste: 4 - two thumbs up for their pastas especially their Spaghetti Al Tesori Del Mare
Environment: 5 - clean and comfy :]
Service: 5 - staff are attentive and approachable
Price: 4 - good value for money

Mt Marami of Maragondon, Cavite


Plenty, lots and many. These are just some of the synonyms for the Tagalog word MARAMI. It was so called Mt Marami because of the many rocks that formed this mountain. If Pico de Loro has "Parrot's Beak", Mt Marami has its own "Silyang Bato". An enormous composite of rock pillars.

Though this mountain situated at Maragondon, Cavite only stands at 405 MASL (according to Pinoymountaineer), the average trek time to reach its peak is 5-6 hours. It is because Mt Marami's trail is a circulating elavation. The trek to Mt Marami can also be accompanied to the word "ligaw" or lost. Not only it has a lot of rock towers, it also have a lot of misleading trails. It's like a labyrinth of bewildering trails. So having a guide is strongly recommended if you want to visit Mt Marami but we don't, so we went to a lot (a mean "maraming marami") traversing this mountain.

How to get there?
From Manila, take a bus at Baclaran going to Naic, Cavite (65 pesos). Travelling time is about 2 1/2-3 hours. As you reach Naic, take a jeepney going to Magallanes (30 pesos). Just tell to your jeepney driver to drop you at Brgy. Ramirez which is just 10 minutes away from the town proper. Then when you reach Brgy Ramirez look for Brgy. Councilor Punongbayan's house. This will be your registration point before you can start your trek. Prepare 20 pesos/pax for registration fee. You can also ask for a local guide here which costs 300-500 pesos/day.

We conquered the heat and the talahib (photo from Cheers Masa's FB)
(photo from Cheers Masa's FB)
There are 2 rivers that you'll pass through in this trek. The first one is "Ilog na Kayrayag" and the next one is Bangkaan river. This two river can go knee high during rainy season so the best season to visit Mt Marami is after the wet season and summer. Aside from that, trails here can easilly get muddy so it will be more difficult (of course). However, traversing Mt Marami during summer has its own downside. Prepare your skin protector gears and make sure to have a maximum SPF lotion because it can get sweltering hot at noon time. Frequent re-hydration is a must to prevent heat stroke.

Rest mode (photo from Cheers Masa's FB)
Photo inception... (photo from Cheers Masa's FB)
(photo from Cheers Masa's FB)
(photo from Cheers Masa's FB)

Well, I have noticed that my blog entry for this mountain can make my reader retreat from trekking Mt Marami. Please don't. Because above all, a dramatic view on its peak awaits which is very rewarding after the long, confusing trail and sweaty adventure (I'm being negative here again, am I?). Because aside from the colossal and breathtaking rock formations set in an enticing background, a panorama of the Maragondon mountains which include Mt Pico de Loro, Mt Mariveles, and Mt Banahaw are can be seen at the summit. This is a great spot for photo op :]

Photo Op at the tip of this rock (photo from Cheers Masa's FB)
KASAMA (KAbataang SAbik MAmundok) at Mt Marami (photo from Cheers Masa's FB)
Breakdown of budget
Bus (Manila - Naic, roundtrip) - 130 pesos
Jeepney (Naic - Magallanes, roundtrip) - 30 pesos
Local guide (optional but I recommend to have one) - 200-300 pesos
Registration fee - 20 pesos
Food - *.**

This flower looks like... ... ... nevermind (photo from Cheers Masa's FB)

8065 Bagnet of Estrella, Makati


Are you a big fan of Bagnet? Well, you don't need to visit Ilocos anymore just to taste this evil invented cuisine. There's this restaurant along Makati that serve not just the the famous deep fried Bagnet instead they give it a twist and flavored it with some of our other local cuisines. Have you heard of Bagnet curry? Bagnet dinuguan? Bagnet binagoongan? and Bagnet kare-kare? Not yet? Then visit 8065 Bagnet.

Just go straight ahead and you'll see 8065 Bagnet in 3,2,1 :]
8065 Bagnet got its name from the street where it is located: 8065 Estrella St., Makati. The co-owner of this resto-house is the brother of a well-known singer [and the lovely], Ms Kitchie Nadal -- Alain Nadal. Kitchie owns a clothing shop at the 2nd floor of this resto so if you're lucky enough, you'll gonna see her in person by visiting the place. 

You can eat inside (fully air conditioned) or outside (I only  recommend this during the night)
The place have this artsy and cozy ambiance which adds factor why this place is so popular to Makati "eater". The atmosphere here is more of the old school type plus books are everywhere! Vandalism here is legal. They have a space or freedom wall where customers can write to address their comments and suggestions. Cool right?

Read as you wait for your order or waiting for your date
Full length mirror wall - Just being created with this shot -- me, Julius, Edward, Paula
I suggest to tag your friends [as many as you can] when visiting 8065 Bagnet. Each order a different dish then just share the food since they have big food servings here. In that  way, you can taste more of what's on  the menu.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...
By the way, for those who doesn't know what is Bagnet. Bagnet is a chopped pork belly, deep fried to perfection. For short, a heart artery clogger hehehe. I don't care. I'm still young and its really crazy delicious! Upon our visit, I ordered their Original Bagnet. And as it was served by the waitress to our table, my eyes went wide because it was nicely presented and it really looks tasty -- plus it was served with bagoong and green mango as its side dish. Yum! I can still remember that moment as I write this blog entry. It makes me starve! You can order it as a budget meal with rice and soup at 105 pesos, or on ala carte meal which is good for 2 at 175 pesos.

My Original Bagnet comes with green mango and bagoong on the side!
8065 Bagnet also offers different flavors of Bagnet, among these are Bagnet Binagoongan, Bagnet Curry (which my friend ordered and which I didn't had the chance to take a photo), Bagnet Pakbet, Bagnet Sinigang, Bagnet Sisig, Bagnet Spicy Gata, Bagnet Dinuguan and Bagnet Kare-Kare. Price ranges from 105-115 pesos for budget meals and 175-195 pesos for ala carte meals. They also serve a varieties of steamed fish, crispy chicken, vegetables (my other friend ordered ensaladang talong) and desserts. 

Julius' Ensaladang Talong with tomato, green mango and bagoong. Perfect!
They also offers delivery sevice. Reach them at 519-65-11 and their Manila branch at 516 -78-90. For comments and suggestions dial at 703-30-45. 8065 Bagnet operates from 11:00am to 12:00am every Monday - Saturday and 5:00pm to 12:00am during Sundays. Its complete address is 8065 Estrella St., San Antonio Village, Makati, Metro Manila.

Ratings based on my experience [0-5, 5 is the highest] :
Taste: 4 - delicious plus very inventive on their dish
Environment: 5 - feels like eating in an exhibit house
Service: 3 - just fine
Price: 5 - reasonable

Note to self:
Stop relying on camera phone. Always bring your camera
Take a picture of all the food in the table before eating :P

Mt Gulugod Baboy of Mabini, Batangas


Gulugod Baboy means "pig's spine", so named because this mountain has lots of outlines/silhouettes of the hills as well as it has a wide surface for a normal mountain trail. Mt Gulugod Baboy is a popular hiking destination for first timers. It is the perfect mountain for those who are starting and wondering what does this activity really is.

The mountain is situated at Mabini, Batangas and it would take 1 1/2 - 2 hours to reach its peak. Aside from that, the trail is [I might say] fairly easy so this adventure is considered to be a minor climb. Pinoy Mountaineer rate the difficulty of this adventure to 2 out of 9. Still, a majestic view awaits to those who will traverse Mt Gulugod Baboy.

Cows are visible in your trek to Mt Gulugod Baboy
How to get there?
Take Batangas bound bus at Buendia Terminal going to Bauan diversion. Bus fare is around 140 pesos. Alight from Bauan diversion ride a jeepney going to Mabini which cost 30 pesos. Just inform the driver to drop you at the point going to Philpan Diving Resort. From there, you can take a tricycle going to Philpan Diving Resort which is the jump off site of Mt Gulugod Baboy. Fare is around 100 pesos which is good for 4-5 pax. Tip: If you're going in large group and want a less hassle trip going to the jump off point, I suggest you rent a jeepney from Bauan diversion going to Philpan. Price is 1000 - 1200 pesos, depending on how good are you on negotiation.

We survived the cemented path (photo from Paul Egonia)
Across Philpan is an upright cemented trail which is the starting point of this hike. Honestly, this part is quite tiring and I guess the most challenging part of this adventure. After you passed this long cemented path, everything will be just fine and easy for you. So never give up. :]

Photo op at one of the resting site of this trek  (photo from Paul Egonia)
Other mountaineers trekking Mt Gulugod Baboy (photo from Paul Egonia)
First timers in our group  (photo from Paul Egonia)
The sun also at its peak (photo from Gladys Dizon)
Gulugod Baboy is an open area and more of a grassland environment. The advantage having that kind of environment is as you trek along and get high, you can see the view clearly without trees walling the scene. However since trees are less in the mountain, shades are also few and expect a scorching hot trek in the afternoon.

Gladys and Paula enjoying the view of Mt Gulugod Baboy  (photo from Gladys Dizon)
At the peak - never go here at noon  (photo from Paul Egonia)
All the hard work will paid off as you reach the peak of this mountain. It has an amazing view. And when I meant amazing this is what you will see on top: the Sombrero and Maricaban islands, the Mt Maculot and the Mt Batulao, the Tagaytay highlands, as well as the the Batangas Bay and Verde Island.

The making of the sample photo below  (photo from Gladys Dizon)

That's me being creative with the so called "against the light" setup  (photo from Paul Egonia)

Sidetrip after the hike
Your Mabini, Batangas adventure doesn't end after you reach back the the jump off point of Mt Gulugod Baboy. What's great about this mountain is that the bayan of Anilao is just a short distance from the Philpan Diving Resort. You can also swim at Aquaventure Reef Club or at any resort nearby. Island hopping to Sombrero Island and Marican Island is another adventure you can do here. As for our group, we just decided to stay at Philpan and swim a bit after the long and fun trek. :]

Back to jump off point! Look how sweaty we are  (photo from Gladys Dizon)
Not bad isn't it?  (photo from Paul Egonia)
Breakdown of Budget:
Food - *.**
Bus Fare (Buendia Terminal - Bauan Diversion) - 140 pesos / one-way
Jeepney Fare (Bauan - Mabini) - 30 pesos / one-way
Tricycle Fare (Mabini - Philpan Dive Resort) - 100 pesos / 4-5 pax / one-way
or Jeepney Rent (Bauan - Philpan Dive Resort) - 1000 pesos / 20 pax
optional trips:  Entrance Fee (Philpan Diving Resort) - 60 pesos
Cottage Fee (mandatory at Philpan Diving Resort) - 600 pesos

My favorite self portrait from this adventure:

NPA on the loose?

4th Philippine International PyroMusical Competition


The best light show in the sky has just started as the 4th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition launched yesterday at the bay of SM Mall of Asia (MOA). Six nights of Saturday will lighten up as 11 countries compete with each other and showcase their never-before-seen spectacle of fireworks display.

I witnessed the incredible display of fireworks and music from team Japan and Finland yesterday. Honestly, I have high hopes to see Finland's performance because they made it on 2nd place last PIPC - tied up with Australia. So I expect that they will be more aggressive this time to be on top of this competition.

Team Japan is not new in this kind of competition. They might not got into the rank last time however their performance in past is pretty good.

The Philippine International Pyromusical Competition will run until March 23, 2013. So come and experience it yourself this once in a year festival of fireworks. Below are the schedules of the 4th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition 2013 :

Feb 16 Japan - Tamaya Kitahara (Done)
Feb 16 Finland - Oy Pyroman Finland ltd (Done)

Feb 23 Taiwan - Yung Feng Fireworks
Feb 23 Spain - Pyro Experience

Mar 02 UK - Jubilee Fireworks Ltd
Mar 02 South Korea - Hwarang fireworks Inc

Mar 09 Italy - Ipon Fireworks
Mar 09 Nederland - Royal Fireworks

Mar 16 Australia - Fireworkx Inc.
Mar 16 China - Liuyang New Year Fireworks

Mar 23 Canada - Fireworks Spectacular
Mar 23 Philippines - Platinum Fireworks Inc. (Closing Exhibition)

For Ticket inquiries,purchasing or reservations, you can contact TicketWorld at 891-9999, TicketNet at 911-5555 or SM Tickets at 470-2222 to reserve or purchase tickets.

Ticket Prices are at P1500, P500, P300 and P100.

For further updates and announcements of this year's competition, you can follow their official Facebook page [click here] or visit their official website [click here].

Cagbalete Island of Mauban, Quezon


Cagbalete Island is a "must-see" island if you're an adventurer and nature lover. The island is a complete paradise with rich marine life and full of unique plants species. Aside from swimming into the pristine and beautiful water of the island, Cagbalete is also a good spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, bird watching and fishing.

Shot at Pantalan Port
Cagbalete Island is one of the many paradise that can be found in the province of Quezon (Mauban, Quezon). It is a privately owned island with a diverse ecosystem. What makes this island special is during low tide, the water move far back that leaves the shore exposed. You will see amazing sand ripples and all the rock formation and corals that were underneath during high tide.

Visible sand ripples during low tide
See how pristine the water is?
How to get there?
You can take JAC Liner at Buendia going to Lucena Grand Terminal. The bus ride is around 3-4 hours and costs 210 pesos. Once you reach Lucena Grand Terminal, take the ordinary bus going to Mauban, Quezon. The fare is 50 pesos and about 1 1/2 hour trip. The 1 1/2 hour bus ride will take you through a long stretch of Quezon's scenic views of  lush-green environment so just enjoy the whole ride. Upon reaching the Mauban Terminal you may take a tricycle and head first to the wet market where you can buy your island supplies and foods before heading to the "Pantalan". The fare is 14 pesos. At the Pantalan Port, look for the ferry boats going to Cagbalete Island. Note: There are only 2 schedules per day going to the island so be there on time. The first trip is at 10:00am and the last trip is at 4:00pm. The fare is 180 pesos and it will take almost 1 hour to reach Cagbalete.

Local boatmen
Once you reach Sabang Port (Cagbalete Island), you can either trek for 15-20mins or rent a boat to reach the resorts. As for our trip, we decided to trek and get a child as our guide. There are 3 known resorts in the area - Villa Cleofas, Pansacola Beach Resort and MVT Sto. NiƱo Beach Resort.

Villa Cleofas -   0919 220-5000 (Ed Jacob)
Pansacola Beach Resort -   0928 505-8633
MVT Sto. Nino -   0921 727-5398 (Fely)

We chose Villa Cleofas and decided to pitch a tent there. We paid 300 pesos for an overnight stay.

Cooking time! There's a grilling area however you need to bring your own charcoal

Tour highlights
Bonsai Island - is an islet that only shows up during low tide and disappears when high tide.
Baliscar Island - is a small rocky islet with a lighthouse standing on it. There is no port to the island however tourists can still land and explore Baliscar.

Baliscar Island
Lots of birds are nesting in Baliscar Island

Snorkeling/Diving - ask your boatman to bring you to the best diving/snorkeling site. Trust them because they're familiar to the place. You can rent snorkeling equiptment at Villa Cleofas.

Eteng, Baron and I together with our boatmen Tatay and Kuya Roldan
Snorkeling with my buddy Baron

others: Fishing, picnic/camping, frisbee, beach volleyball, horseback riding...

Meet our bankero - Kuya Roldan
Over exposed shot in a good way
There's something wrong in this jumpshot...
I suggest have a little chitchat with your boatman to know the must see places in Cagbalete. Waste no time. There are lots of beautiful spots in the area.

Acting 101 - My models 

Tip: Explore the whole island. There is a hidden river in this island. The river is connecting to the ocean which I found amazing. It is like a fusion of 2 bodies of water. It is also a good spot to take photographs.

with the children of Cagbalete Island
My type of gym exercise hehe
Lil Miss Philippines creative shot :P
Say WILD!!!
What are we trying to do here?
Pole dancing at Cagbalete
Aside from the river, you should also not miss star gazing during night time while in the island and as well as the beautiful sunrise.

The sun is up!
Going back to Pantalan Port
There are only 2 trips going back to Pantalan Port per day. The first trip is at 8:00 in the morning and the other one is at 1:00 in the afternoon. These public boats can fill out quickly so be sure to be at Sabang Port 30 minutes earlier to secure seat back to Pantalan Port.

Favorite shot of mine in this trip:
emo??? weh?
Favorite group shot: