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AJ

When I decided to go to the ASEAN Pop Concert in Bonifacio High Street, I admit that I only intended to watch Franco, one of my favorite OPM bands. But I was in for a treat because at the end of the night, I was filled with a deeper purpose. 

Held last night was a music event that marked the culmination of Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN's) 50th Year Celebration. The concert had already started when my officemates and I arrived at the Amphitheater in Bonifacio High Street Central.



The Juans.


The Juans, “not your typical boy band,” they say, were already in the middle of their set. I’m aware that these newcomers to the music industry are talented in their own right as each of them plays their own instrument and everyone sings as well, a supposed step ahead of their contemporaries. But my respect for them increased ten times over when I saw and heard them perform live because they sounded as good as they are on record. These guys are not to be underestimated. Given how young they are, they’re sure to make bigger waves in the music industry. 

Next in line were pop stars representing each ASEAN country, such as Afiq Wafi from Brunei Darussalam, Kong Sothearith from Cambodia and Aizyah Aziz from Singapore. I wasn’t all that interested at first because I didn’t know any of the performers, except for our own Christian Bautista.



ASEAN Pop Artists.


But I listened to all of them and although I didn’t understand the words in their songs (they all sang in their native languages), I found a deeper appreciation for the performers, the countries they represent and music in general. I realized how rhythm, tone and emotions of songs could bridge people of different nations even though words are incomprehensible. It even made more sense that all the ASEAN pop stars sang the official ASEAN Song of Unity together. 

Then finally, Franco came on. Just like every live performance that I watched of them, it was electric. Of course, I’m speaking from a fangirl’s point of view. But more than the joy of watching Franco live onstage, I was happier with the fact that a lot of people in the crowd were singing and jamming along.



Franco.


Just when I thought that Filipinos are too pre-occupied with foreign acts, here I see a crowd of people bobbing their heads to the beat and applauding after every song. OPM is still alive after all, I whispered to myself. 

Other sought-after and rising local bands also performed that night, including Up Dharma Down, Itchyworms, 6 Cyclemind, The Nightingales, Thyro and Yumi, Baihana and the cast of Rak of Aegis.

The organizers of the ASEAN 50 Celebration did good. My appreciation for music has taken deeper root. I slept happy last night. 


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JPDL

I know that many people love dogs, but how about hot dogs? If you ain't fond of this beautifully-encased clumps of meat, maybe you just haven't found 'the one' yet. Worry no more, because I am the top dog to help you find the best hot dog in town!

Yesterday I visited two of the most well-known hotdog places in Fort Bonifacio: Pink's Hot Dogs at Shangri-La the Fort and Harry's at Uptown Mall.

PINK'S HOT DOGS: A BURST OF FLAVORS IN YOUR MOUTH

This restaurant has been around for more than seven decades already. They started out as a diner in the United States and last year opened their first branch here in Manila. Once you enter their branch at the G/F of Shangri-La, the ambiance will give you a feel of Hollywood. Their dining area is quite spacious and you'll love the neon signs! It almost reminded me of Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe in Archie's fictitious world of #Riverdale!

Their staff gave me a warm welcome.  I ordered one of their best-sellers called The Hollywood Legend a la carte at P280.00. It's a mixture of hot dog in a bun topped with chili con carne, minced white onions, and a generous amount of CHEESE!

I like how this sandwich gives you that tangy-salty-sweet flavor in every bite. I'm not really a fan of chili so thank God that the cheese on top somehow neutralizes the spiciness of the chili. The onion also does its magic by adding more flavor to the sandwich. Notably, the bun they used was fresh because the crust still gives that crackling sound when you press it. The let down is the tough casing of the sausage.

HARRY'S: SPICIER THAN THE SPICE GIRLS

Hailed from the land down under, this Aussie restaurant started out as a diner on wheels. Known as Harry's Cafe de Wheels in Australia, they have been serving piping hot pies and mouth-watering sausages for almost seven decades already. If you want to try out their world-famous menu, you don't have to book a flight to Australia because there's already a branch here in Uptown Mall at the Fort.


I ordered their best-seller, Chili Dog a la carte priced at P270.00. The service took quite a while since it was 12 o'clock already and there were many people having their lunch breaks. When the sandwich arrived, I immediately grabbed a bite because I was really excited to taste and compare it with Pink's.


At Harry's, a 2-piece chicken and waffle costs P160, while a hotdog is P280 and more

Overall, the sausage was well-seasoned and flavorful and the bun also tasted good because it was soft and it complemented the sausage. The chili con carne was meaty and I loved it. The only thing I hated was there was too much HOT SAUCE! I barely even tasted the flavor of the chili because I was literally holding my tears back because of the spiciness. The game "the floor is lava" has nothing on me, as MY MOUTH WAS LAVA! Though the staff gave me a glass of water, it wasn't enough so I asked for a refill. I believe they were understaffed because nobody refilled my glass for the next five minutes.

This should serve as a warning for those who are not that tolerant of spicy food: STAY AWAY FROM HARRY'S CHILI DOG! 

THE VERDICT

In my honest opinion, the hot dog sandwich that tasted better was The Hollywood Legend of Pink's - FOR NOW. But this dog ain't stopping the search for the best hot dog in town. That is my purpose of existence. And the hot dogs? Well, their purpose is to satisfy my empty stomach.

What is your hot dog experience? Share them below in the comments!

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eclara

As I write this, I’m listening to Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. An inappropriate song considering it’s fame when I just watched Stages Session’s Independent show with musicians who are still under the mainstream music radar. But if you’ve seen Almost Famous, you most likely know where this is coming from.

My knowledge about music is actually limited to all of the 213 songs by the Beatles, movie soundtracks, and also a couple from Les Misérables. Sure, I listen to indie music especially during ten-hour road trips when my playlist has been exhausted but other than that, I have zero knowledge about independent musicians. I almost never stray from the kind of music I listen to nor plan on writing about music reviews anytime soon, that is except when I re-watch Almost Famous. I wanted to know what it would feel like to get behind the scenes during performances (or is it technically behind the stage?).

I arrived in Maybank’s Theater Globe Auditorium during the bands’ rehearsals and sound checks. Being there, sitting on an empty row of seats with an almost completely empty stadium save for the crew and performers, I was able to witness the process of last-minute fine-tuning of the program. For the first few minutes, I stayed in my seat and figured out the lineup and tried to identify the people I listened on YouTube prior to arriving at the venue. Gio Levy and the rest of his crew were practicing when I arrived. His cool and charismatic voice was reverberating through the auditorium with pauses in between to set up the acoustics. Around me, the rest of the Stages team were also hustling to prepare for the show.

The next person on the rehearsal was Curtismith. The music coming from his mouth is fast and lyrical, but you can still hear and understand every word in the rap. The crew had to cut Curtismith’s rehearsal short due to some technical problem and then Tom’s Story was up on stage, lost in his own guitar rifts and taking the small audience with him.

I was going around the auditorium by now. Taking photos and observing the dynamics of the band and crew, how they seamlessly work in small auditorium in the dark with minimal noise, in fact, aside from orders in the microphone to adjust the light and sound, you won’t even notice that the performance was only a rehearsal. These people know what they are doing and are in sync with each other that no words need to be exchanged, music was the only constant “noise” in the room.


I sat once again when I heard Bullet Dumas in the microphone. He was serenading the audience-empty hall with his folk song-like music. I noticed his music was something that's new to the ears, something unusual to hear these days but surprisingly familiar and nostalgic. In my years of listening to auto-tuned pop songs, the country-born and bred lass in me was brought out. His music had me longing to go home in the province while I was seated in a dark auditorium in the middle of the city.

I now know Coeli’s voice. It’s not something you would forget easily. Her voice, accompanied by her cello playing is something that haunts you. In a good way of course. Her voice has this hauntingly beautiful quality. Her lyrics are true and raw, and it gives you this unexplainable sadness and sentimental feeling when listened to. Different from Keiko Necesario’s cold and thick voice. Keiko’s voice is something that would perfectly accompany you when it’s raining. Oddly enough, reminding me of Norah Jones.

By the time the rehearsals wrapped up and the musicians getting ready to take the stage, people were filling in for the event. The Manila String Machine and the Ateneo Blue Symphony were opening the show with their instrumental rendition of Rivermaya’s Elesi. I was silently mouthing the lyrics thinking what should I write home about.

 

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clarisays

Every first Saturday of May is Free Comic Book Day. If you're a comic geek, you know that you need to wake up early and line up because stores like Fully Booked give out a free comic book per person. But if you want to experience the best Free Comic Book Day, don't hesitate to visit their store at B6, Bonifacio High Street where they give away three free comics!

Besides that, Fully Booked – Bonifacio Global City (BGC) offer discounts on selected graphic novels, manga and pre-owned vinyl records. Visitors also get to receive some special treats and meet local artists.

For a “North girl” (and homebody), traveling from Quezon City to BGC is a challenge. But with research, patience and motivation (also Google Maps) that won't be a problem.

I triple checked TheFortCity.com's Parking Lot Map and Google Maps before leaving and saw that there's a parking area (BHS – B6 Car Park) nearby. Parking fees during weekends (and holidays) is P40 for the first 4 hours plus P10 for every succeeding hour. After finding a spot and parking, it only took us a minute to walk towards Fully Booked.

Free Comic Book Day 2017 at Fully Booked BGC


Yes, this is a normal scene during Free Comic Book Day. But what I love besides the freebies is the blue sky and fresh air making the long line the least of my worries. After an hour, we were able to enter the store. Since I brought someone, we were able to choose six different comic books and received a special treat from ESSENSO Philippines.


Indeed, it was a fun and productive Free Comic Book Day at Fully Booked BGC. We got some free comics and treats, bought some graphic novels and met local artists like Mervin Malonzo, the author and artist behind the National Book Award-winning comic TABI PO. I must say that this is definitely the best Fully Booked branch. 

For more stories like this visit clarisays.com.

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chiu

Security guards who worked night shift there must be wondering why any one would choose to sleep on the street as a reward, especially if these people can afford to shop at Bonifacio High Street (BHS). But there we were, nearly 200 people happily sleeping in the middle of this high-end retail street under the stars, our shelters being made of thin fabrics that were strung together by metal rods.


My daughter and I were among this group of funny people who eagerly lined up to register to get into our tents on a hot Saturday afternoon. The tents were part of an event called "Glamping in the City" organized by the body that manages Bonifacio Global City, namely, Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. One had to meet certain spending requirements in shops in BHS before being qualified to participate in the event, which started on a Saturday afternoon (April 29, 2017) and finished the next day.

"Glamping" is glamorous camping, which means one gets to enjoy all the benefits of camping like staying in a place that allows us to be close to nature (or our surrounding) and take part in outdoor recreational activities, without having to deal with chores such as pitching a tent and cooking, or forego the convenience of modern living such as the use of a toilet.

Security at the well-cordoned tent area was tight. Only those with the event wristband were allowed inside. This was important, as this was a busy shopping area and campers would not want to have strangers wandering into their tent.  We got our tent at around 4pm. It was pitched near the large book store at 11th Avenue. There was an air bed inside, and a table and chair outside. We were to be joined by another mother and daughter family, so the tent was intended to fit up to four persons. It looked like we would be set for the night, as soon as we brought back some pillows, blankets, and lights, and took a shower at home.

(Photo above: As part of the program, participants have to perform a chant for the group that they were assigned to)

To give us their version of the full flavor of camping, the organizers decided that we needed to be given a busy program of activities. At 6pm we were gathered under a covered area to play team games.  We were organized into teams, and played games such as passing quail eggs, charade, and so on. My daughter and I were joined by my husband and a friend. Our team did dismally in the games, but we were still rewarded with goodies, so everyone was happy.

At 8pm after a torrent but brief shower, the camp ground began to be occupied by campers returning from the boodle dinner. 


Food was aplenty and fresh. Nobody complained also because it was provided free by the restaurant Kabisera.

Apart from games organized by the event organizers, campers got entertained by the activities going on around the tent area. Where else could you stay in a tent, and when you walk outside of it, you are within a few yards from nice shops and restaurants? There was melodic singing from a regular busker on Bonifacio High Street who sang and strummed on his guitar, in place of the guitar player that usually sits next to a camp fire in a real camping night. 

(Photo above: a movie was shown at around 10pm.)

Kids really enjoyed this new experience of being allowed to play in the public area late at night. They visited other kids' tents, and played whatever game they could come up with, as long as they were in each other's company.

Simple breakfast was provided the next morning courtesy of another restaurant located on BHS, Italianni's. After breakfast, a gym instructor took participants through some morning exercises. More freebies were given away.

So why did we join? It is about our desire to experience things unfamiliar. For folks like us who do not enjoy roughing it any more, our kid rarely gets the chance to feel what is it like to sleep inside a tent in a place outside our home.

The "glam" part: we didn't have to pitch our tent. It was done for us. We had an airbed. The camp is in the middle of the city. We had easy access to flushed toilets. No need to cook or fish or hunt our own food.

The less glam: The tents were not air conditioned. Lacked privacy. We didn't open all covers of the tent because we didn't want anyone to see inside. It got a bit too hot inside at night, but my kid had no trouble sleeping, because she was exhausted.

Nature? There were birds chirping in the morning. And a street cat came into our tent at night. So that is glamping in the city.


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newbie

Where else can you eat lobster from a street stall but in Fort Bonifacio? A new food stall opened in Fort Strip two weeks ago (mid April) and its name is "Lobster Station". Is it just a name, like 'rocket room', or it really sells lobster? That was the question that I wanted answered when I approached the stall this evening.


Lobster Station is located in the Fort Strip, facing a parking lot. It has three tables outside the box-shaped kitchen.

When I was there at around 6pm. I was the only customer. I checked out the simple menu, and found out that indeed, it had lobster on its menu! The top billed item was lobster roll, at P590 per order. Other lobster named dishes are: lobster fried/pried rice P150 per order, and lobster grilled panini P550.


I ordered the lobster roll, because it showed  a big lobster claw. I wanted to find out if indeed I would get a lobster claw, in case I could not tell how a lobster tastes like.


The kitchen is very simple. It was run by its owner and an assistant. He heated up a bread roll, put some butter on it, and then stuffed the bun with lobster meat. The order was served with coleslaw and potato chips.


The million peso question: how does it taste? It tasted lobstery, Very yummy. You may not want to spend nearly P600 on a sandwich, but it tastes so good that once you have tried it, you are hooked. According to the owner, the lobster was from Boston. I did not expect to get imported lobster, but then again, I did not think there would be really a street stall that sells lobster. 

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Last weekend, we were invited to BGC's kick off for Summer on the Street. It was a fun afternoon filled with great food and even greater company. We were treated with a refreshing tropical drink at the start of the event. 


New summer drinks from Jamba Juice


I met some bloggers and like-minded writers. We talked about the food trucks and all the other food available that weekend. We were given coupons to try out some of the food, and if we wanted to specifically try something that they didn't initially provide, we were told to just ask and they would get it for us! Now that's convenient! A new found friend, Elle, tagged along to gather all the food we could carry. We decided to try Schmidt's hotdog first since it was one of the first coupons we got and it looked pretty interesting. When we got there, a line was already building up, so we waited for our turn and got to try their creation. I got 'The Julius' because you can never go wrong with bacon, can you? It was divine! I loved it. It was really filling though so after Elle and I devoured our hotdogs, we decided to just collect all the remaining food and try it once we're not so full anymore. 


Schmidt's Gourmet Hotdog's The Julius


While waiting for most of the food we ordered, we decided to get some refreshing cocktails since it was happy hour. We went to Rocket Room's booth and I got a Sakura Smile which tasted so much like a lychee cocktail while Elle got the Rocket Fuel that had jalapeno in it. She made me try it and boy was it spicy! It was a good break from all the food though, a good breather and cleanser for our palette. 


Sakura Smile and Rocket Fuel from Rocket Room


After the savory food and happy hour drinks, we decided we'd like to try some desserts! And we happen to have a coupon for The Wholesome Table and thought it was just right to get some there. For the bloggers, they gave a dark chocolate cookie and a slice of banana walnut bread. I personally prefer the banana walnut bread as it was not too sweet and had just the right amount of flavor to satisfy my craving.


Wholesome Table's Stall at Summer on the Street


The event last weekend made me look forward to summer even more. I like the laid back, casual feel of everyone and everything there which also contributed to the chill ambiance in the middle of the city. "Summer on the Street" isn't just a food festival though, every weekend this summer, they have a different event for people to choose from. I'm sure it will be quite busy in the next coming weeks. I can't wait to visit the next one!


Summer on the Street Calendar of Activities  




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Jensen and the Flips, getting ready for their set


Felipe and Sons, Net Quad, 4th ave. cor 30th St., BGC, The Fort, Taguig City


Last night, I went to Jensen and the Flips' music video launch. It was fun, hip, and chill. Everything that I'd want in a night out. I used to always go to a lot of gigs but because of my new schedule, I couldn't really go as much as I'd want to. Anyway, let's talk about the more important things. The launch. I went to Felipe and Sons at around 8 in the evening to make sure I'd get a good spot when the performers start their gig. I walked in with a friend and saw how everything was set up. The stage was right across the door, which was perfect if you asked me. I'd say the venue did a good job at setting up the whole place for the launch. For every person that comes in, you get a stub for your local beer after paying the php 200 entrance fee. Fair enough, I thought. Good music, a comfortable place, and a beer. That's a steal! 

The stage


While waiting for the first performer to start, we looked around to check out the venue even more. There's just something about it that made me want to ask, how is this branch different from the other Felipe and Sons I've seen? And why is a band doing their music video launch at a barber shop? So when I had the chance to have a little chat with the band's vocalist, Jensen Gomez, I just had to ask. Jensen mentioned how the management of Felipe and Sons offered to let the band use their newest branch at Net Quad along 4th Avenue for their launch (the band is an endorser of the barbershop). Along with having a bar inside the shop and their products on display for anyone who would like to purchase, he also noted that this particular branch is the first one that would be offering food as well. So far, it's the only Felipe and Sons that has a kitchen. 

Jensen Gomez of Jensen and the Flips


When asked about their new album, Jensen said they're about 30 to 40 percent done with it and that they are planning to release it sometime in June or July of this year. Now that's something to look forward to after the first album, Honeymoon. I went on to ask about the direction the band wants to go with this album in the works. He mentioned how their sound would be more aggressive compared to the first one. "Tapos na yung honeymoon stage eh." he teased. I can't remember the time when I did not like a song they did. Needless to say, I am pretty excited about these new songs. BDYTLK is just the start. It's the first single of the second album and if anything, I'm sure it will just keep getting better. 

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