Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mario's roast turkey makes the holidays special

MARIO’s Quezon City, one of the most respected restaurants in Quezon City, is now serving holiday offerings for your special occasions, including Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and other important events. As this Manila restaurant celebrates its 27th anniversary this November, you, too, can enjoy landmark festivities with these holiday specials.

The star of Mario's Quezon City’s holiday specials is a delicious Roast Turkey. With its crispy skin, juicy meat, cranberries, and gravy, Mario’s roast turkey is ideal for Thanksgiving, Noche Buena, or any other special occasion.

Another Mario’s specialty is Cochinillo, a roast suckling piglet flavored with herbs and spices. Served alongside the cochinillo is Mario’s signature Spanish Paella. One may also enjoy Mario's Quezon City's tender Blade Steaks, which are US-certified Black Angus steaks served with a special merlot-mushroom sauce.

To really usher in the spirit of the holiday season, enjoy sweet Christmas from this Quezon City restaurant, including Choco Choco Chip or Oatmeal Raisin cookies in colorful keepsake tin cans; and Amaretto or Curacao butter cakes in classic Christmas gift boxes. Two absolute must-try’s are Mario's exclusives Toffee Sans Rival, which puts a spin on traditional sans rival with its top coating of toffee and butter cream, and the Deadly Walnut Bars, which one simply has to try to believe.

To order any of these holiday specials, simply visit Mario's Quezon City, located at Tomas Morato corner Scout Gandia in Quezon City, call 415-3887 or 372-0360, or e-mail mariosquezoncity@yahoo.com. Mario's Baguio, located along Session Road, also accepts inquiries and reservations through (074) 442-4241 or e-mail marios_baguio@yahoo.com. Mario's Baguio boasts facilities ideal for special events in the highlands, with perfect but affordable packages for weddings, debuts, reunions, baptisms or birthday celebrations.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My Elliott Yamin Experience

Yesterday, September 21, 2007, is a day I will never forget. I got to watch American Idol finalist Elliott Yamin in his Trinoma mall concert and take snapshots for fudge magazine during his press conference.

The day started when Ganns and I went to Trinoma mall at around 930AM to wait for the doors to open. When the doors opened at 10AM, we both ran to the concierge to get our seating pass. We were one of the first few so we also got stubs for a signed photo. We brought our CDs with us hoping to get it signed but as it turned out, only those who got the CD signing stubs on that same day got to have their cds signed (but no picture). Even those who got the Meet and Greet passes were not allowed to get their cds signed. They only got to have a photo taken with Elliott. Those who were early, like yours truly, had to wait until the meet and greet group and cd signing group finished before getting our autographed photo. We didn't get to meet Elliott Yamin. It's just really frustrating that I had to wait till the end to get my photo when they could have just given it out early since we were not given the chance to meet Elliott. But enough griping, I had a great day. Elliott was worth it all! Besides, I got to take photos of him during his press conference. I was literally inches away from him (and yet couldn't get him to sign my cd because the organizers were just too strict).

Elliott's voice is just the best voice I've heard in years. He is such a joy to watch and I am not ashamed to wear my sentiments about him (through a great shirt my husband designed for me). His talent is simply something one cannot pass up. In his Trinoma show, he sang an acoustic set including the songs Movin' On, One Word, Trainwreck, Wait for You, You Are The One, In Love With You Forever, A Song For You and Moody's Mood for Love. We are so blessed to have him visit us in Manila.

The Philippines loves Elliott and we are willing to pay to watch him in concert. Elliott, please come back in the near future for a full concert. All frustrations in relation to the organizers aside, thanks to Ayala Malls for bringing Elliott Yamin to the Philippines. This is a huge plus for me and I will definitely visit your malls more often. :) Ganns and I even ate at La Maison, this upscale ribs restaurant, because they were one of Elliott's corporate sponsors! Go Bench! Mabuhay, Panasonic! Thanks, Globe! Mwah, Myx! Amazing ABC-5 (Idol!)! Mwah mwah Monster Radio RX 93.1! We're considering checking into the Hotel Intercontinental this New Year! More power, Philam Life! (We drew the line at Dimensione for a picture frame, because PHP1200 minimum is just waaaaaay too much for us, but thanks anyway, Dimensione, my husband loves your chairs!)

To see some of the photos I took during the press conference, click here, and please visit my husband's recap at http://www.gannsdeen.com.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Repertory Philippines' Cinderella: why reward those who break the rules?

Repertory Philippines' Cinderella, a Disney Kids' adaptation, was the venue of a lot of stress for me last Sunday. When Nathan and I entered Greenbelt Onstage to watch Cinderella by Repertory Philippines, the Greenbelt security guard checked my bag and asked if I had a camera.
"Yes," I replied.

The guard at Greenbelt Onstage then told me to leave behind my camera, as that was one of the rules.

I then gave Ganns my camera and proceeded to watch the show, with Cris Villonco in the Repertory Philippines Cinderella starring role. Although Nathan and I enjoyed the Cinderella musical at Greenbelt, something happened that completely destroyed the experience for me.

Guess what happened after the curtain closed: the main Cinderella actors went out - in full costume - and gave photo opportunities to audience members with cameras!

Can you imagine my frustration and anger when I, a parent who followed the rules, realized that I would not be able to take a nice picture of my son with the Repertory Philippines actors because I followed the rules and did not bring in my camera? Why reward those who obviously snuck in their cameras? Now, parents who did not follow the rules got reinforcement that this kind of behavior is acceptable because they have souvenir pictures of Cinderella and we don't. What message are we sending our children with this kind of inconsistency?

(Photo credit: Repertory Philippines website)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Secret Recipe in the Philippines!

I visited Kuala Lumpur last month and one of the highlights of my trip was my visit to Secret Recipe. My host took me there to sample their award-winning Marble Cheesecake. After sampling 3 cheesecakes including Marble Cheesecake, Baked Cheesecake and Lemon Cheesecake, we all agreed that the Marble Cheesecake was the best.

Last Saturday, I saw the Philippine branch of Secret Recipe at the Fort. Right after seeing their sign, I shrieked and prodded my husband to sample their food. I wanted to see if the taste is the same as Secret Recipe Malaysia. I ordered the Marble Cheesecake (PhP100) and a cup of cappuccino. My husband ordered Blueberry Cheesecake. I am glad to report that the quality is the same. The picture you see here is from Malaysia.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Something on Preschools

I recently went on a very important shopping trip--one for a preschool for my son. I wanted to check out the different preschools around our area. Although some people don't think preschools are necessary for their children, I am quite convinced that exposing my son to preschool will help him in his social, physical, intellectual and spiritual growth. My husband encouraged me to post what I had to say about shopping around for preschools since it may help other mothers in their search. I wish to share some things I learned about preschools and a set of questions parents can ask the principals to better help in their decision-making process.

Traditional vs. Non-traditional Setup

To make things simple, it would be a good gauge to assess current preschool setups as either traditional or non-traditional. Of course, there are so many other terms used such as progressive, integrated, learner-centered, multiple intelligences, etc. Basically, the difference lies on the curriculum.

For traditional setups, it is normally handled the way we were handled during our nursery school days. There were various subjects and lessons are taught on a per subject basis (i.e., science, math, language, chinese, etc.). Usually, young kids are expected not to be too boisterous in class ( i.e., to sit down when told, etc.). Those who are a bit more of a challenge may be given special attention but will probably be taken out of the group. The classes are very much structured and numerical grades are given based on the number of correct or incorrect answers achieved by the student on a prepared test. Tests may be a common scenario and assignments are to be expected.

In a non-traditional setup, most of the curriculum is integrated. This means that the school usually follows a thematic approach to teaching based on a given theme (i.e., usually monthly). Their subjects will contain topics or content related to a given theme. For example, if the theme for June is "Family", teachers will plan their lessons in science, math, language, chinese and other subjects with the theme family in mind. This means that in science, the kids may be taught the topic members of your family. In math, they may be taught to count using number of siblings, etc. Integrated curriculum simply means that all the subjects are taught through an approach where they all make sense together since it is not topical. Experiential learning is also given priority. As such, do not be surprised if your kid is exposed to cooking, field trips, and other activities that may not be found in traditional setups. Given that this type of setup takes more effort on the part of the teacher, a lower student-teacher ratio is expected. This also translates to higher fees. I found that the non-traditional schools usually have about 2:15 teacher student ratio. They usually have a teacher and a teacher's aide. Chinese teachers are also available in some schools.

While doing the rounds, I visited the following schools and they are more or less the same in terms of curriculum and teacher-student ratio.

Apples and Oranges (I was impressed with the facilities but not the directress. She didn't know how to answer my questions)
Mind Specialists (I was impressed with the directress but not the facilities. I was also concerned that I was able to go inside the school with ease. Security did not get my ID or anything...)
Kinder Minds (I was impressed with the directress but not the facilities. I also noticed that their school is small and they had very few students)
Early Achievers (I was impressed with the directress and the facilities were apt).

In non-traditional setups, the teachers do not give numerical grades but progress reports in qualitative form. This means that they prepare reports to show what your child has learned and how you can help your child. This is more of a partnership between the parents and the teachers.

Some Questions to Ask Principals When Shopping for Preschools

1. What is the educational philosophy of your school?
2. How old is your school?
3. Normally, after graduation, where do your graduates go for big school (i.e., elementary)?
4. Do you offer enrichment classes (i.e., E. Nopi, Chinese Classes, Taekwondo, etc.)?
5. What is your tuition fee and what are the inclusions (i.e., uniform, meal, etc)?
6. What is your teacher-student ratio?

7. What is your fetcher's policy?
8. Can you describe your curriculum?
9. What is the profile of your faculty?
10. How do you involve parents in the child's education?

I decided to send my child to Early Achievers (formerly called Granny Goose) for the following reasons (not in order): (1) They had been around for 20 years, (2) The school is close to my house, (3) The directress was impressive when I asked her my questions, (4) The facility looked good, and (5) They were caring and competent when they assessed my son.