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:
My go to restaurants in Manila:
Wild our Cafe + Bakery
On regular days, I eat at:
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Green Meadows Beach Resort has rustic beachfront bungalows. Tel+ 09087844765
Tatoy’s Place, a beachfront resto-bar. Tel +639189627713
Story and photos by Christian Sangoyo