Up close and personal with celebrated Manila bartender David Ong

Up close and personal with celebrated Manila bartender David Ong

David bartends at his very own Oto music bar. Photo by Locale Magazine

We spent some time chatting with the man behind the only Philippine bar to make it in Asia’s 50 Best Bars by William Reed Business Media, and Edsa Beverage Design Studio, this year, on things like stories on his hip Makati music-bar, Manila restaurants and chefs he adores, and his go-to comfort food places.

We wanted a space where we could hang out and listen to good music thus the concept of Oto came up.It’s designed for a great listening experience, complete with turntables, speakers, vinyl records, amplifiers and a curated playlist.

Poblacion in Makati is a young neighborhood, thriving with small businesses, and we wanted to add to its diversity by serving proper coffee, good cocktails and music.

The food and beverage at Oto are intended to be experience-driven and conversation-driven. We try to adjust to what our guests want so they’ll get the best drink possible.

Oto’s menu is made of things that reminded me of my childhood or family. We have this drink called #ReligionBlack named after my sister Tina’s Isntagram handle @religionblack. Our Hey Brian, a Wild Turkey bourbon infused with grapefruit juice and tamarind syrup, is named after a regular customer.

My rule of thumb for cocktails is to make it complex yet simple and relatable enough once you taste it.

I am a very easy drinker although I have my preferences and am open to trying new things. When I drink, I’m open to what the bartenders would want to serve me. I still go for classic cocktails whether it’s an old fashioned, mojito, or a whisky sour. I don’t like eating while drinking.

Resto-bars in Manila that I like:
Toyo Eatery
12/10
Rambla

Wildflour Cafe + Bakery’s Mac and Cheese


My go to restaurants in Manila:
Toyo Eatery
Mecha Uma
Wild our Cafe + Bakery
Cafe Juanita
Sarsa

On regular days, I eat at:
Tokyo Tokyo
Bacolod Chicken Inasal
KFC for their chicken with a full cup of gravy, my comfort food
Hen Lin for siomai
Food Channel for shawarma

Chefs I admire are Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery and Bruce Ricketts of Mecha Uma. Chef Jordy whips Filipino-inspired cuisine at Toyo Eatery, where his staff of chefs and cooks are Filipino. Chef Bruce is ingredient-focused—I always leave his restaurant mindblown as he always does things out of the box.

I never really liked clubbing but if I’m in that kind of situation, I always end up being the guy with a bottle making people drink, observing everyone, and caring for those who can’t manage.

If I weren’t a barista or entrepreneur, I would probably be a banker or a hotelier.

Who is David Ong?
David Ong is the co-owner of music lounge-cum-bar Oto, e Curator Co ee and Cocktails, the only Philippine bar to make it in the Asia’s 50 Best Bars by William Reed Business Media, and Edsa Beverage Design Studio.

Interview by Jonalyn Fortuno

48 hours in awesome Antipolo

48 hours in awesome Antipolo

Looking for an escape near Manila that’s only minutes’ drive away? We bring you Antipolo, the land that’s put together into one the best of many worlds—breathtaking sceneries, trendy hangouts, creative spaces, and your perfect R&R. Experience the awesome city in only two days with this itinerary.

Day1, 8am


One of Antipolo’s not-so-hidden-gems is Hinulugang Taktak, which literally translates to “where the bell dropped,” and it’s sheer beauty. This beauty is about 21.5m tall and about 25.8m wide, and at its foreground is a landscaped picnic area with a pavilion—great spot for taking snaps.

Day1, 12pm

The crowd favorite: Beef Salpicao

 

A few blocks away from Hinulugang Taktak is Bistro at Le Blanc Hotel where you can enjoy unique Filipino-Asian fusion of dishes, and the restaurant’s star dish, the rib eye salpicao.
Facebook.com/The-Bistro-at-LeBlanc-1458714327516116/

Day 1, 1pm

Pinto Art Museum, a tricycle ride away from the Antipolo Municpal Office Building, has become one of today’s most sought after galleries in the country. Its main lure is the design of the gallery itself, which takes inspiration from the Cycladic Architecture. A lot of contemporary artists have hold exhibits at Pinto, and some of the notable ones like respected painter Bendicto Cabrera. To complete the Pinto experience is its unparalleled location—at the edge of a mountain.
1 Sierra Madre St, Subdivision, Antipolo, 1870 Rizal

Day 1, 7pm

The pool at the edge of Cafe Lupe makes for a wonderful dip

 

Imagine feasting on sumptuous kare-kare (peanut stew) and nachos while taking in views of the breathtaking cityscape at night with all the city light lit up. Well, you can actually make it happen by booking a stay at Café Lupe, a bed and breakfast with an infinity pool, KTV rooms, table tennis facility, a 70s inspired lobby, and countryside style restaurant.
Facebook.com/cafelupeantipolo

Day 2, 8am

Luljetta has one too many gardens and this is one of the nicer ones

Pops of color are a mainstay at Luljetta’s rooms

 

An overnight stay at Luljuetta’s Place will get you waking up to views of the metropolitan skyline for the resort sits literally on the edge of a mountain. Luljuetta’s main attractions are its pools surrounded by lush greens and flowering plants, and its outdoor spa. If you want to have a most pleasant breakfast, order their daing na bangus (milkfish) and signature garlic rice and have it at their garden.
Sitio Loreland, Barangay San Roque 1930 Antipolo, Rizal

Day2, 12pm

A dance number at 11Circle food park. Why not?

 

If you can’t decide where to have lunch for the last few hours of your stay in Antipolo, might as well head to 11Circle, a food park with a smorgasbord of booths selling dishes from around the world. Here you’ll find a samgyupsal (Korean specialty) stall, a ramen stall, and stalls that offer American and Filipino favorites.
Facebook.com/11circleantipolo/

Day 2pm

Beautiful place of worship, hands down

 

Cap your Antipolo adventure the most peaceful of ways by stopping by the Parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary, a solemn place of worship in Antipolo’s more quieter side along the main highway.  Inside it feels like you’re covered by a giant web of white panels and glass that let the trees from the outside meld with the inside and the natural light to seep in. Very unlike your typical heritage churches the Philippines is famous for, but equally impressive.
Daang Bakal Rd, Antipolo, 1870 Rizal

The basics
Book Bienvenido Travel and Tours operates. Contact operator Ramon Marinas at +630977 821 3075, tel +63695 1965, email ramon.marinas@bienvenidotours.com, Bienvenidotours.com.

Get there:
SkyJet flies daily from Batanes, Coron in Palawan, and Siargao to Manila. Book a SkyJet flight now.

From NAIA Terminal 4, take a cab or book a Grab ride to Ayala Avenue in Makati (RCBC building) where there are Antipolo-bound UV commuter vans.

Story and photos by Kat Magsino

3 must-see places in Tangalan, Aklan in one day

3 must-see places in Tangalan, Aklan in one day

A tiered waterfall and an empty beach are what you get from this sleepy Visayan town

Tangalan, Aklan is something that will qualify for of-the-radar. It’s en route to Aklan province’s capital Kalibo and the perfect place for a bit of adventure minus the crowd.

Jawili Falls

Placid pool of Jawili Falls

Jawili Falls is a wonderful waterfall—seven natural pools formed from a series of cascades. It’s got stone steps fringing the pools, and as you climb you get to take in the view of one dark basin after the next.

These natural swimming pools are like actual pools you’d see in hotels except that they’re natural.Their sizes vary with the deepest fetching up to 10 feet deep. Locals would jump of a cliff and plunge into the water.

The apex is a small shallow stream with trees and shrubberies on both sides, feeding the cascade. It looks magical in late afternoons when light filters through still leaves.

Jawili Beach

Coconut tree -fringed Jawili Beach

A calm and empty shore—that’s Jawili Beach. No grand hotels, no restaurants, and absolutely no tourists. Huts and a few small resorts with rooms are available for rent.

The beach’s cream-colored sand isn’t powder-fine but definitely good enough. At late afternoon, walk on its expansive shore and you’ll be rewarded with fiery yellows and oranges tinting the sky at sunset.

St. John Nepomucene Church

Facade of St. John Nepomuceno Church

The St. John Nepumucene Church was built in 1889, its age evident in the tarnishing on its limestone walls built using limestone that came from the nearby Afga Beach. Its façade—arched wooden double doors, circular stone windows on both sides, a central niche with an image of Christ—is perfectly symmetrical if not for the fairly recent addition of a bell tower on its left lank. It’s smaller than most colonial churches in the Philippines but still looked regal and stately even with its diminutive form.

Get there
Fly from from Manila to Caticlan via SkyJet, which starts flights in December. From Caticlan, ride a Ceres Bus from the terminal and alight at the Tangalan Public Market. From there, ride a tricycle to Jawili Falls.

Sleep
Jawili Blue Starfish Resort on Jawili Beach has modern rooms and a swimming pool. Tel +639192791577, jdjawili@yahoo.com

Green Meadows Beach Resort has rustic beachfront bungalows. Tel+ 09087844765

Eat
Tatoy’s Place, a beachfront resto-bar. Tel +639189627713

Adee’s Seafood Grill & Restaurant, a seafood restaurant along the National Highway. Tel +639395154660, Adees011613@yahoo.com

Story and photos by Christian Sangoyo

That pretty little bed and breakfast

That pretty little bed and breakfast

This is a place very far away from Manila that can make you blurt the perfect awww: Bernie’s Bed and Breakfast in Ivana, a sleepy town in Batanes some 15km from Basco Airport.


Bernie’s is a two-storey seven-bedroom hotel inspired by the traditional Ivatan architecture with touches of modern. Its “quaintly” features? The stone-dotted façade with trellis and vertical windows; the stone path leading to the entrance; the homey but bright and airy interiors, and the careful mix of wooden furnishings, kerosene lamp-inspired fixtures, ornamental plants and art pieces. One nice touch at Bernie’s are its books, shelves of them, that are the first to greet guests.

The B&B is logically designed—the social spaces are on the ground floor while the rooms on are on the second floor.

Slip at the small garden at the back for a quiet moment by yourself and take in the sun and Ivana’s peaceful surroundings.

Sleep

 

Author Jonalyn Fortuno enjoying some peace and quiet at the Queen Room

There are queen bedrooms and double bedrooms,
all spacious. I stayed
in a queen room with whitewashed walls and stone tiles, well-furnished along with mod cons. It has a spacious bathroom with fine toiletries. At full house, Bernie’s can be filled with up to 21 people.

Eat

 


Bernie’s only serves breakfast and it’s typically what’s available like fried flying fish, rice and coffee. The innkeeper may cook a meal for guests.

Do

See Batanes’ famous landmarks close by: the House of Dakay, the oldest stone house in Batanes; Honesty Coffee Shop, an unmanned store that operates solely on trust; the Old Spanish Bridge.

The basics
Starts at Php3,500 (USD67) per night
Facebook.com/Bernies-Bed-And-Breakfast

Get there
SkyJet flies daily from Manila to Batanes Book a SkyJet flight now.

Story by Jonalyn Fortuno; photos by Ferdz Decena

Revolt from trend and grab your beer

Revolt from trend and grab your beer


Fred’s Revolucion is the only dive bar in historic Escolta, Manila, and it’s what you’d imagine a neighborhood pub to be—nondescript on the outside; unfinished, gritty, with tin roof and plywood-clad on the inside. A couple of craft beer brands are on the rafter, while plywood shelves display imported and local liquors.

The decor is eclectic—a mix of items accumulated by owner Jose Enrique Soriano from his travels and gifts from family and regulars throughout the years. In between Japanese posters, stickers, and beer cartons on the walls are a photo of Che Guevarra by the bar, Philippine and rainbow flags by tap beer dispensers, and other intriguing pieces. Music is diverse.

The pub isn’t intimidating at all so if you’re a newbie on, say, craft beer, you’ll not feel alienated nor judged in case you end up being
a bit inquisitive. If half of Fred’s charm goes to good food and drinks, the pub’s honest, casual, cool vibe could rightfully take the other half.

Eat                                     

Try any of
Fred’s specials: fleishchkaese, German meatloaf, Mexican fried rice, salsa, and fried egg; Fish, Fish and Chips, batter on a bed of fries and fried dilis; sesame seed tuna in poke salad dressing; grilled tuna belly in peanut sauce with crispy bagoong alamang (fried shrimp paste); and the savory salted egg wings, chicken wings coated in salted egg, chili, and olive oil.

Drink

Ranges from serious beers: Beer No. 1, which has a citrusy Pinatubo’s Magma Bock for a more intense note, or the smoky and hoppy Brainstorm IPA.

The basics
About Php250 (USD5) per person
Craft beers are from Php115
Fredsrevolucion.com

Words: Jonalyn Fortuno
Photos: Pauline Dycoco

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