Date night ideas for V-Day and any other day in 2020

Date night ideas for V-Day and any other day in 2020

These spots from bag designer Lally Dizon and her businessman husband Chris are sure to heighten the romance in your night out.

Great food, good wine, a romantic ambience, and impeccable service. These are the things that luxury bag designer Lally Dizon (@lallydizon_mla) and her husband, Chris, look for whenever they go out on a date.

What Lally does is this: “I actually research first to check the new restaurants we can try for our next date night.” She often checks spots in BGC and Poblacion in Makati City for unique concepts that she and her husband can explore.

Taste art at degustacion restos

Degustacion restaurants or menus are basically tasting menus, except that the chef takes over the whole process of creating it: from the theme down to deciding on which dishes get served. Servings will be tiny, but think of it this way: it’s the chef showing you how good he is in the kitchen.

For places like this, Lally recommends:

Gallery by Chele

From esteemed chef Chele Gonzales, Gallery by Chele was once the hit degustacion-only Gallery VASK. It’s been revamped to include a casual dining set-up, but get a spot in their DINING ROOM and you can enjoy their tasting menus.

Gallery by Chele is located at 5F Clipp Center, 11th Ave corner 39th St, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, visit gallerybychele.com or call +63 917 5461673.

Mecha Uma

Omakase is a practice usually seen in Japanese restaurants: you let the chef decide what he wants to serve you. That’s basically a degustacion menu, if you ask us, and Chef Bruce Rickett’s Mecha Uma falls into the category of “one of the best places” to get it.

Mecha Uma is at GF, RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th and 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, call 02 8801 2770.

12/10

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One of the best ways to enjoy how good the food is at 12/10 in Saguijo is to get their omakase or prix fixe menu. It gives you a full experience of what their chefs AND mixologists are capable of, as 12/10 is, after all, a non-traditional izakaya. <insert what prix fixe menu. readers need to understand.>

12/10 is at 7635 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City. For reservations, call +63 915 6632823 or email [email protected]

Telenovela feels in Spanish restos

This would be more of a preference that anything, but Spanish restaurants are practically made for good date nights. Wine? Check. Food? Check. Ambiance? Check. Service? Check.

In that vein, here are some of Lally and Chris’s picks:

La Picara

They serve food that plays around with traditional flavors of Spanish cuisine, throwing in a bit of Asian flair and panache. Dining here feels like you’re in one of those family restaurants in Barcelona. Try the xx.

Head for the 2F of One Bonifacio High Street Mall to experience a very playful Spanish meal at La Picara.

Rambla

Nothing says Spanish quite like a pan of paella and a glass of Sangria, and you get all of that (plus more) at Rambla.

Rambla has spots in Rockwell and Salcedo Village. For reservations, visit bit.ly/ramblaph

Las Flores

It’s been called “an institution” by its patrons, and it’s not hard to see why: Las Flores serves a mean paella negra next to their seafood paella. There’s also the idea of drinking sangria in a mason jar, which some people find odd.

Las Flores is at One McKinley Place in BGC and The Podium in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Donosti

It’s no secret why Donosti made it to Philippine Tatler’s 20 Best Restaurants of 2019. They tick off all the checkboxes of what a Spanish restaurant ought to be with their mix of on-point flavors from San Sebastian (probably the best place to eat in Spain for Basque cooking) and creative interpretations of classic Spanish dishes. Must try: xx

Donosti is located at NAC Tower, 32nd Ave, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, call 02 8856 0206.

Go full fancy at a steakhouse

Nothing says a fancy date like having wine with a delicious piece of steak. There’s a lot of steakhouses to choose from in Metro Manila, but here are the ones Lally and Chris like:

Raging Bull Chophouse & Bar

Shangri-La at The Fort’s in-house steakhouse serves a hefty-yet-delicious Tomahawk Wagyu from Jack’s Creek in New South Wales that deserves to be shared between two people, though you might want to dial it back to The Chopping Block if a tomahawk is a bit too big.

Raging Bull is at L3, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse

Wolfgang’s is a New York staple for steaks. They only have 21 branches worldwide, and we’re lucky to have three of them: one in Resorts World Manila, one at The Podium, and another at One Bonifacio High Street. Doesn’t get any fancier than that, really.

For reservations, call 02 8511 7009 (Resorts World Manila), 02 7586 4892 (BGC), and 02 7505 6272 (Ortigas).

Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse and Bar

When people talk about steaks and City of Dreams Manila, they’re usually talking about Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse and Bar. The steaks taste great; they have a good selection of wines and spirits; but it’s the ambiance really takes the cake.

Ruby Jack’s is at UGF, City of Dreams, Aseana Ave corner Roxas Blvd, Parañaque City.

I Am Angus Steakhouse

This spot is a bit under the radar as far as steak lovers are concerned, but it is genuinely a good place to get steak. Tucked away at Dining at Yakal, a row of specialty restaurants next to Santi’s Delicatessen, they give you about as bare of a steakhouse experience as can be: good meat, good wine, and a quiet place to enjoy it all.

I Am Angus Steakhouse is at 7431 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati. For reservations, call 02 8892 5852 or +63956 135 4213.

Who are Lally and Chris Dizon

Photo from Lally Dizon

Lally Cruz-Dizon is the creative mind behind luxury brand LD, and creative director of Vintage Restore, the country’s pioneer in repair and restoration of luxury leather goods. She is happily married to businessman Chris Dizon, a partner of The Brewery and Draft.

Featured photo created by prostooleh – www.freepik.com

5 must-see sea creatures

5 must-see sea creatures

Marine biologist Miguel Azcuna curates of underwater species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.

The Philippines is an archipelago. This means it’s made up of groups of islands surrounded by a vast expanse of water, ergo, a rich diversity of marine life. Diving is the best way to see the beauty that our water holds.

We spoke to a marine biologist, Dr. Miguel Azcuna from Batangas State University, to know which marine species in the Philippines you should see at least once in your life.

Nudibranchs

Photo by Lisbeth Jensen

Where to find them: Anilao, Batangas

The name rolls off the tongue, right? These are the cute, colorful, shell-less mollusks (scallops, clams, snails, cuttlefish) you see in those island hopping package pamphlets that offer snorkeling. They love seawater and some have been referred to as sea slugs.

Thresher sharks

Thresher
A thresher shark at Monad Shoal near Malapascua Island. Photo by Klaus Stiefel

Where to find them: Malapascua Island, Cebu

“Thresher sharks are unique in that they use their unusually long tails to catch their prey,” says Dr. Azcuna. This particular species have found a home in the waters off of Malapascua Island in Cebu, known for its magnificent and quiet beaches. They are often found in Monad Shoal and pose no threat to humans. Be at the site early, like around 4am to 5am, for better chances of sighting.

Orcas

Where to find them: Tañon Strait, between the islands of Cebu and Negros

Dr. Azcuna says they rarely pass by the Philippines but they do swim from time to time. “These apex predators prefer cooler tropical waters and can (in very rare cases) be seen in Tañon Strait between June and October.” The last time orcas were seen in Philippines waters, it was 2018.

Sea Turtles

Photo from Inaladelan Island

Where to find them: Apo Island, Negros Oriental

Yes, there’s more than one place to find the humble pawikan. They can usually be found nesting in the waters of Palawan (for instance, just offshore of Club Paradise), but for a better chance of spotting one, Dr. Azcuna recommends Apo Island. You’ll usually see them grazing on seagrass.

Freshwater Jellyfish

Where to find them: Sohoton Cove, Siargao

You may be asking yourself this: “Why would you recommend seeing jellyfish as a once-in-a-lifetime activity?” Well, these jellyfish are ones you can actually swim with and not be extremely worried. Dr. Azcuna says the jellyfish that swim in Sohoton’s jellyfish pond are stingless “because they have no need for stings in freshwater.” Go early in the day to avoid the crowd.

Who is Dr. Miguel Azcuna?

Miguel Azcuna is a marine biologist who specializes in Bioprospecting for New Medicine, particularly from marine sponges. He holds a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, where he majored in Marine Biotechnology.

He was a part of the team from UP MSI’s Bolinao Marine Laboratory that donated giant clams to Camiguin’s Giant Clam Sanctuary.

He is currently an associate professor at the Batangas State University – ARASOF Nasugbu Campus and a member of the research staff at the Verde Island Passage Center for Oceanographic Research and Aquatic Life Sciences (VIP CORALS).

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

Riding a motorbike is one of life’s greatest joys (or, at least, it should be), and here’s where you should do it.

Since it’s not as wet in the South as it is here in the North, and since motorbiking is life, giving you an adulterated freedom to see and experience sights at your own pace, cheating city and inner town traffic, here are five destinations you can fly to and enjoy the sights of, after renting a motorbike. Bloggers Kara Santos and Louie Pacardo curate.

Siquijor

Islands like Siquijor are often best explored on two wheels. Photo by Kara Santos

The island province of Siquijor is a scenic island worth exploring on a day motorbike tour. Often associated with stories of witchcraft and mysticism, Siquijor offers enchanting beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and other architectural gems. The most interesting spots are scattered around the island—a bit difficult to access by public transportation but best if via a motorbike.

Glan, Sarangani Province

Sarangani is about as far south as some people would like. These open roads give you a view of Sarangani Bay, as shown here by Louie Pacardo. Photo by Louie Pacardo

The road going to the beach town of Glan is already a destination.  The coastal road along the edges of Sarangani Bay offers scenic views of the mangrove-rich and white sand beach strips. Glan is best known for its white sand beaches and heritage sites. Biker-friendly resorts include Kamari Resort and Hotel which offers a spacious and guarded parking area.

Glan is about one hour’s ride away from General Santos City in Mindanao

Alamada, North Cotabato

Head for Alamada in North Cotabato if you’re looking for something that’s definitively off the beaten path. Photo by Louie Pacardo

Alamada is among the lesser known riding destinations in Mindanao with unique landscapes and roadside views.  The 120-meter wide Asik-asik Falls is the top destination going to this silent town in North Cotabato. Another emerging must-stopover is Daday Falls, a tall drop settled in a Jurassic period-like landscape sandwiched by steep gorges in Barangay Dado.

Alamada is about three and a half hours’ ride away from Davao City

Lebak, Sultan Kudarat

This is the view that awaits any avid rider after taking on the hundred motorcycle bankings. Photo by Louie Pacardo

This coastal town facing the Celebes Sea in southwest Mindanao is best known among riders because of its twisting roads. You’ll do about a hundred motorcycle bankings going in and out of this sleepy town in Maguindanao Province. Lebak is best known for its tasty crabs and seafoods and its many waterfalls like Tres Andanas Falls.

Precaution: Mindanao is generally peaceful. However, just like when traveling in any part of the country or even the world, it is still best to check the present security situation in particular areas with previous peace and order issues.

Siargao

What better way to explore the country’s top surfing destination than on two wheels? Photo by Daniel Soriano

For beach-lovers and surfers, the island of Siargao is one of the best places where to ride. Aside from the main surfing area of Gen. Luna, the island conceals beautiful uncrowded spots like Malinao, Magpupungko Tidal Pools, and Pacifico, that you can easily ride to. There’s a variety of motorbikes for rent, including ones outfitted with surf racks—well, for packing your surfboard—and gorgeous bespoke bikes handcrafted by 3B Customs, a bike builder from Surigao City.

Words: Ferdz Decena

5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

We tell you: You can go overseas without having to leave the country. Read how.

The Philippines may be a tiny archipelago but it’s so beautiful and blessed—thanks to its 7,000++ islands making it almost have a bit of or something similar to what another country has to offer.

Here are five places in the Philippines that transport you to places outside the Philippines.

The rolling hills of “New Zealand” (Batanes)

By Ferdz Decena

This one’s no secret. Every time we see someone post about one of the ultimate #travelgoals, it almost always involves a sense of awe.

The northernmost province of the country, Batanes, is home to rolling green hills dotted with livestock that resembles the home of the Kiwis. You may not see fluffy flocks of sheep, but you will see herds of cattle and/or cows grazing among all that beauty, a rare combination in the country. There’s also the clear skies that add to the whole “this shouldn’t be in the Philippines” vibe.

There’s a particularly good spot that will make you say “Am I REALLY in the Philippines?”: Rakuh-a-Payaman in Mahatao.

“African safari” (Calauit Safari Park in Palawan)

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It’s safe to say you’re not really going to find wild zebras and giraffes running around in open fields ANYWHERE in the country; they’re usually seen in enclosures inside zoos. Not that we’re complaining, but we’d like to see them in their element, similar to their brothers and sisters in Africa.

Luckily, there is a place just like the African safari that’s within 35 minutes of Metro Manila: the Calauit Safari Park. It’s home to reticulated giraffes and Grévy’s zebra that get to run around and play alongside local species, some of which are endemic to the Calamianes Islands where the park resides.

Experience the rolling hills of Batanes by booking #DashHolidays!
Tel: +63917 840 6853, +639917 627 6179
Solar Century Tower, 100 Tordesillas cor. HV Dela Costa Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati City

Time travel to “old Spain” (Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

Vigan itself looks like an old Spanish colonial town, but this street is what transports you to Spain. Photo by Ray in Manila

UNESCO calls it the “best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia,” and it’s not hard to see why.

Vigan, Ilocos Sur is a remarkably well-preserved Spanish colonial town thanks in large part to the people taking pride in their heritage. One street, in particular, gives this city that true “old Spanish town” feel: Calle Crisologo. This cobblestone street is at the heart of Vigan’s very best when it comes to preserving old Spanish architecture. That, coupled with local laws that prevent extensive modifications to heritage houses, make this sight unique to Vigan.

“Japanese Bamboo” Forest (Man-made forest in Bilar, Bohol)

It’s not bamboo, but it is just as quiet and as peaceful. Photo by R294

This is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but the way the Bilar Man-Made Forest looks really gives you that feeling of being inside the Sagano Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan.

You won’t see a single bamboo tree standing here (nor will mahogany make the same soothing sound when they get hit by a breeze), but you have to admit that the tree tunnel it creates is eerily similar. It’s like going through a wormhole that will transport you to somewhere completely different.

Going “Dutch” with flowers (Sirao Flower Farm, Cebu)

You can’t grow tulips in the Philippines without a truckload of struggle. Does this mean Amsterdam’s flower gardens are a far-fetched dream reserved for those lucky enough to get a Schengen visa? No.

A trip to Cebu is all you need to see sights similar to those in Amsterdam. The Sirao Flower Farm started making rounds in social media before the 10,000 Roses Cafe was even a thing. It looks spectacularly like the flower gardens in Amsterdam even without the tulips thanks to a more Philippine-friendly flower that’s just as colorful: the celiosa flower or cock’s comb.

Do you know of other destinations that you feel are similar to those overseas? Let us know and we’ll do a second set!

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