July 27, 2015

Satinka Naturals Bistro and Café

When life gives you lemons, add honey and cucumber and make a refreshing citrus cooler. And when supplies run out, well you could just get one from Satinka.

An indie-sort of but homey chill-out place at the corner of Chino Roces and Kamagong in Makati, Satinka is an eponymous restaurant and shop that offers delectable organic meals and natural home care products. It is owned by Igorot entrepreneur Satinka Felipe, who hailed from Kalinga, and whose name was a condensed “Sa atin ka”. I guess she was named so by her parents so she’ll never forget that she belongs to a certain tribe and culture up North.

And true enough to its name, the moment I entered Satinka, I feel I belong.

Chicken garden salad

Vegetarian mountain Aubergine pasta

Parmesan béchamel sauce

Greek platter

Vegan tiramisu

Lemon cucumber cooler

Being in Satinka is vicariously experiencing the simple but rich Kalinga mountain life and culture – from its wooden interiors, fresh and local produce from the mountains of Cordillera, apothecary corner, GMO and MSG-free dishes which unbelievably tastes so good, to the wonderful dining experience of sitting down on the floor or relaxing on a native mat. It almost feels like keeping close to an artist’s and nature’s heart.

Keep tasting other cultures because the beauty of the world lies in the diversity of the people, their traditions and food.

Satinka Naturals Bistro and Café
#1137 Kamagong St. cor. Chino Roces Ave.
San Antonio Village, Makati
Tel. No.: 0927-7619799 

July 18, 2015

Caffe Piansa: First Jail-Themed Restaurant in the Philippines

Reality is also a prison.

We are free to do anything we want. But that doesn’t give us the right to harm others. Prisons were built since ancient times not only to punish law offenders but also to reform them. I have been to Bilibid a long time ago, and the experience was an eye opener for me. It taught me never to kill my enemies, and to use my freedom as a chance to be better and not the other way around.

Of course Caffe Piansa is nothing like the real prison. But it is the first of its kind, infusing the jail concept - from its name piansa or bail, food attendants dressed as magistrate, warden or inmates, to the make-believe prison interiors. As morbid as it may seem, the restaurant was able to recreate the different sections inside a prison, court and police station (institutions where law offenders are brought), such as mugshot corner, minimum to maximum security areas, and the death row. Even some of the dishes in their menu were inspired from the “last meals” requested by infamous criminals before they were sentenced to die.

Fried cordon bleu

Gas chamber

Buko lychee and cucumber and lemon shakes

But even though reality could also be a prison, remember that having an open mind and a forgiving heart can set us free. Always.

Caffe Piansa
#57, Dragon St., Midtown Subd.
San Roque, Marikina City
Tel. No.: 631-4751, 681-1929

July 9, 2015

Catanduanes: The Land of the Howling Winds

Sometimes, happiness is the sound of crashing waves and howling wind at night. This is something you are most likely to experience when you are on the Eastern coastal side of Catanduanes.  The lone island province of Bicol Peninsula is the first area to be hit by the strong killer waves of the Pacific Ocean.

It feels good to be back, re-exploring the island that once captured my heart.

I made Twin Rock in Igang, Virac my home base.  Situated in a cove, the idyllic resort is so-named because of the two iconic karst rock formations just off shore.

Batag, a neighboring beach of Igang is known for its natural rock archway which leads to another quiet cove.

Less than an hour away from Virac is Puraran in Baras, home of the well-known “majestic waves” with its awesome long-barrel-type surf. It was actually the Europeans who put the island in the tourist map when they discovered these majestic waves, ideal for surfing. Since I don’t know how to surf, I just relished the magnificent sight of the beach and its gorgeous rugged rock formations over a platter of fresh seafood – shrimps and lobsters. Ganun ako katakawI


A few minutes away from the beach is a hiker’s destination - the Balacay Point, a prominent peak overlooking mountains, islets and the raging sea of Puraran.

Before heading back to Virac, I decided to drop by Bato and visit its historical and natural attractions – the century-old St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, the clean and green Bato River, and the enchanting Sakahon Beach of Barangay Bote.

Several surfers and true-blue adventurers consider the island a “diamond in the rough”. And I wish to stay it that way. I mean who needs a zipline when you can just ride with the waves. And exhilaratingly crash with them.

Tip: Kinontrata ko lang ang unang tricycle driver na pinarahan ko (na nanghiram ng motorcycle) to visit all these sites for one whole day for just P800 + tip. For the time constrained, this is better and faster than commuting.