Write Post

Featured Image
Fun and Learning
newbie

While walking down Bonifacio High Street (BHS) today, a rainy Sunday, I was surprised to see that there were empty docking bays at the Tutubi bicycle rack placed at 9th Avenue of BHS. Really? Tutubi bikes were ready to use already? I used them a few times when they were located at the Stopover Pavilion at 31st Street, but had not tried them after they were relocated to BHS.

Luckily for me, I had the Tutubi card with me. I was prepared to be disappointed when I tapped a bicycle bay with the card, because the Tutubi bicycle rack had moved there for a while without being plugged in, but to my delight, I heard the talking voice of Tutubi's computer system.  At first, it muttered something I could not hear and the bicycle was not released. Then I tried again, and I heard the bike lock clicked, so I removed the bicycle from the bay successfully, yehey!

My original destination was a shop on BHS, so I rode the bicycle for a short distance, parked it at a green bike rack, and did my planned shopping. I could have done that on foot, but riding a bike was fun, and saved a few seconds for this short trip. I wanted more. My other destinations before heading home were both within walking distance. One was Central Square at BHS, the other was the supermarket at Forbestown Road.

So, instead of returning the bike to the rack, my plan became that of going to Central Square, and then, if necessary, proceeding to Forbestown. After that, I would drop the shopping at home, and then return the bike to BHS. I knew that there were bicycle racks near my destinations, so that was one thing I did not have to worry about. 

Riding the Tutubi was easy. Yes, it is a heavy bike, and I would not go anywhere that would require me to lift it up. It was also not designed to have a second seat for an additional passenger. But it was light to pedal, even without changing gears, which it has three. It also has a ringer on the left handle. And of course, the built-in lock with cable was very handy. In fact, with its bulk, one could lock the bike on its own wheels and not have to worry much about it being stolen, unless someone comes prepared with a cable cutter. Since the Tutubi bicycles borrowed from BGC are only allowed to move within BGC, the chances of them getting stolen is quite low to begin with.

What about the little adventure? There are no secret hideaways in BGC, so the adventure was not in discovering new places. Actually, I found my little adventure within Central Square mall. This place is usually just like a regular mall, but last weekend, something less regular happened there. 

I tasted a concoction that looked like blood, sipped moonshine that had 40% alcohol, and scooped up some ice cream that was made with 40% tilapia (yes, tilapas fish). And all that in a span of less than 30 minutes. 

Normally, I would not go so wild on a Sunday. I would have hesitated in trying unusual stuff offered to me on the street for free. But I had my Tutubi bicycle. Somehow it elevated my adrenalin. And combined with the fact that they were part of the Harvest Festival sponsored by the Department of Agriculture. I felt bold.

When I left the mall, I found myself carrying a bag of mushroom growing material, a tin of expensive leaves, a packet of beef jerk, some tomatos and other items in my backpack. I would normally not do so much shopping. I guess that is the downside of having a bicycle, which allows me to save time, and when the bicycle also has a basket, how can I not shop?

I returned the bicycle to its rack in BHS at around 8pm, a little later than I had originally planned, because I decided to use it to go to dinner in Forbes Town Road after I dropped off my shopping at home. Locking the Tutubi bicycle is sometimes tricky, and this time, it took me more than ten minutes because the system could not be triggered easily. With the help of the security guard, we parked the bicycle in another slot, and managed to trigger the system by pushing the bicycle in hard. I was relieved to hear the now familiar voice of the system asking me to swipe the card to complete the bike return process.


Riding the Tutubi bicycle is certainly fun for the rider on a Sunday when traffic is light. It provides me an alternative way to keep fit, and gives me more time to get things done, or shop more. It is a quality of life thing.

From the view of Tutubi providers, what is in it for them? In a bigger picture, does a bicycle sharing scheme contribute anything to the society as a whole, so that it can justify the public resources put into it? Well, my trip did not replace a trip in a car, since the distance was short, and I would have walked anyway. So I cannot say that it reduced my carbon footprint. If there are bike racks at two ends of BGC, for example, that allows people living in the residential area in Crescent Park West district to have lunch in SM Aura, or for residents in Serendra to meet a friend in Burgos Circle for lunch, instead of riding in a private car, then the environmental benefit would be obvious. 

Indeed, when we look at cars on the road, many are occupied by only the driver. If we can replace each of those cars with a shared bicycle, then the Tutubi scheme would be a worthwhile one. If someone lives in Bonifacio Ridge, for example, and usually takes a taxi or drives a car to go to work in SM Aura, can be enticed to switch to a Tutubi bicycle instead, then the scheme can be sustained. Or, if the scheme can be extended to reach the edge of EDSA where the commuting demand is strong, then there will be higher utilization of the shared bicycles.

Right now, I am just happy that I have a bicycle to ride on weekends within Bonifacio Global City.



The bloody colored Hibiscus tea was tasty. A little sour, and a little sweet.


Moonshine by Barik Supremo is a hard liquor.


Tilapia ice cream tastes like regular ice cream.




Featured Image
Food
eclara

I'm a night owl. I find it hard to sleep at night and I usually end up ordering food at 2am or even 5am. And then I thought, what would a a nighttime snack run in Bonifacio Global City go about like. 

One midweek night, I decided to traverse a portion of The Fort. I started at 9pm from SM Aura. I had to do a quick errand at Power Mac and then I tried to look for the perfect appetizer.

Frankie’s
SM Aura

I love buffalo wings. I think it’s the perfect companion to an alcoholic drink and at the same time, it can be eaten with or without rice. It’s the first time I tried the wings from Frankie’s and upon looking at the simple menu, I knew that I had to try garlic parmesan coated buffalo wings.

It took some time before the order arrived, but it was definitely worth it. I ordered half a dozen of wings, but I wasn’t sure if I will be able to finish it. The wings were coated with thick garlic sauce and heavily sprinkled with parmesan. The initial taste was overpowering but the moment you bite your teeth into the white meat, the overall taste balances it out.

At that time, I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to eat two more dishes, but since I made it a point to walk to my next destination, I thought the short distance would build up my appetite.

½ dozen of Buffalo wings P188


Luna Breakfast and Coffee
BHS

This was actually an unexpected stopover. I was saving coffee and desserts after a rice meal. But when I went inside the small café along Bonifacio Hugh Street, I knew that I could make time for a quick dessert and just eat the supposed rice meal after.

I wanted to try and grab their coffee, but knowing my body, I knew that if I drank even a milliliter, I would not be able to sleep a wink later. I decided on the Pastillas cupcake and the Leche yema.

Initially I thought the serving was too small and does not justify the bill that I racked up for two modestly looking desserts. But upon taking my first bite, I knew that it would take some time for someone to finish off the small sweets. The sweet pastillas and yema base of the desserts are surprisingly small in such small dessert place. It took a while for me to clean my plate of all the crumbs because both the desserts are too ssweet.

You see, Luna Café is this rustic looking place. Half the price you pay is probably the ambience. I could really see myself enjoying a cup of coffee and a small plate of dessert with a book soon (I plan on treating myself in the future). I might have raised an eyebrow at first for the price, but I think the desserts that I ordered are meant to be consumed for a little longer than it took me to devour them.
Leche Yema P65 ; Pastillas Cupcake P100

Shawarma Bro’s

The last time I had their shawarma, it was served to me from a food truck. I was really curious about what it would feel like to eat a meal from their own place. By the time that I put the metal plate on the table, I smelled that it was the familiar taste that I was craving for. I ordered a Beef Shawarma Rice meal with garlic and cheese (yes, my two favorite) sauce with vegetables on the side.

What I loved about this meal was the rice. It was cooked fresh, so it tasted warm and delicious. The meat was a little tough, but bearable. I found the dressing a bit too bland, not like the taste I remember, but still familiar, which was definitely a plus. I found this stop as the most comfortable. The restaurant exuded this chill vibe where I felt people coming from drinking could recover. And why wouldn’t they? Warm food and some meat will probably help hungover people get their feet back on the ground in no time.
Beef Shawarma Rice P179

 

Frankie's Wings at SM Aura


Frankie's Wings is located on 4th floor of SM Aura. It is opening a shop in Crossroads, 32nd Street.


Luna's pastillas cupcake and the leche yema


Luna Cafe in Bonifacio High Street 


If you have craving for shawarma while in the Fort, go to Shawarma Bros in Stopover Pavilion



Shawarma on a plate

Featured Image
Memorable Events
newbie

As a resident of Fort Bonifacio, I am surrounded by establishments that offer good food.  Many of them have a wine list. I sometimes wonder, would wine drinking make a meal more interesting? or would I just become addicted to the alcohol in the wine? what are the reasons that people go into drinking wine?

I decided I need to actually go out and do some research. While there are many places that sell wine in Fort Bonifacio, in the last few weeks I came across two opportunities to get some good education on the subject. 

Wine and Cheese pairing

One August Saturday afternoon, I took part in a wine and cheese pairing event at Wine Story Serendra.

If you are not a wine person, you would probably have never noticed their shop, because on the outside, the shop looks like it is closed. Its wall on the outside is tinted black. The La Petite Foire du Fromage (A Mini Cheese Fiar) event held on August 27 was a good opportunity for me to go inside the shop without having to worry about being alone there.


On the day of the event, I entered the shop and was pleasantly surprised to see a brightly lit place, with walls of wine. In the center of the shop were tables ladled with different kinds of cheese, surrounded by wine bottles. Several wines and a champagne were recommended to go with the cheeses. Wine Story Serendra positions itself as a place that allows wine connoisseurs to find rare wines.

The most unique feature of this wine shop, apart from their wine, is their high tech wine tasting machines. There were three cubicles with glass window on a wall, and each one housed four different wines. To try a glass of wine, you insert a prepaid card into a slot, and push a button. The price of a glass of wine is indicated on the button. Cool.


Then came the education part. There was a small room which could accommodate around 15 people around a big table. During my one hour stay there, I had a snippet of two workshops, one was a demonstration of burrata cheese making, and the other was a basic wine pairing seminar.  What I took away from the workshops was that the lecturers were friendly people and spoke in plain language that was easily understood by non-wine drinkers. It was not intimidating at all. I think I would not mind attending their workshops in the future.

Wine Story Serendra is located at the ground floor of Serendra Piazza, facing Market!Market! Mall, next to Cold Stone Creamery.

Wine and Food Pairing

On a weekday evening, I attended a wine pairing event at CAV, a wine bar and restaurant located conveniently at Bonifacio High Street. Since CAV is a fine-dining restaurant, the wines being promoted were paired with fine food prepared by CAV's chef. There were five wines being offered for tasting that evening. Each was accompanied by two exquisite cocktail dishes. I was fortunate enough to be seated with the wine ambassador from the wine company being featured that night, Clarendelle, so I got to learn how rose wine was made and other interesting wine related stories.


I only had time to try the first three pairs of food and wine, and left before two more pairs were served. The event started with a 2013 white wine paired with crabmeat crustillade and oyster tempura, followed by a 2015 rose wine that went with a salad made from hazelnut and roasted beets, and duck liver on bread with fig marmalade. The third wine was Clarendelle Rouge 2010, a red wine that is a blend of three traditional Bordeaux grape varieties, and it was paired with wagyu oxtail ragu and porchetta.

For a non-wine drinker, the wines were very good. But the food was what I remembered well. The duck liver, OMG! I have dined in CAV before, but did not try these cocktail dishes, maybe because they were not on the menu. Serving food in bite size like this to go with various wines is indeed an excellent way to let us understand the essence of pairing. It was much easier to appreciate the general rule that red wine would go well with red meat dishes once you tasted the combination. (As to the why, I did some online research, and found that tannins, which are rich in red wine, would soften the fat in steak and make the steak more flavorful, while the acid in white wine makes fish tastes more salty and less fishy) 


Overall, I found both events to be quite fun and educational, even for non wine drinkers. Who knows, may be I could be converted after a few more events like these!

(I asked to be observer to the events, and the hosts graciously let me participate for free. One even let me free-ride on the food-and-drink tasting part. My thanks go to Wine Story Serendra and CAV Wine Shop & Cafe.)


CAV Wine Shop and Cafe is at Ground Floor, The Spa Building, 9th Avenue Corner Lane P, Bonifacio High Street. See here for contact details.


Featured Image
Community Events
newbie

It was a good day to run inside an enclosed stairwell. There was a little overcast, so it was not too hot, but also not too humid.

I have never done a vertical run in my life before. In fact, I have not joined any fun run before. I joined this one because I have started stair-walking as an exercise for a few months, and the venue of this vertical walk is just a 5-minute walk away from my home. 

I got my run kit two days before the run, which basically was just a bib with two plastic stripes glued to it. These were presumably the disposable timer tags. I read the instructions online, and found that there were quite a lot of participants. Unlike a fun run, runners were to be divided into small groups, and each start was to be separated by a 3-minute interval.

I was glad to read that I would be in the 10:31am batch. No need to wake up before the sun comes up!

When my batch started, we had about ten ladies. I let them pass first, since I would be walking rather than running up the stairs.

The first few flights were the most difficult, as I had to adjust to the temperature and humidity, which was a little hotter than that in the hotel lobby where we started. After that, it was not too bad. The staircase was narrow, so passing another runner took a little effort - about ten minutes into the run/walk, I was passed by someone from the next start.

There were water stations every ten flights of stairs, so I was glad that I did not carry water. I carried my cell phone and camera in a pouch bag instead. Ventilation could have been better, as only a few doors to the floors were open during the event, or at least it felt that way.

As I climbed the stairs, I was alone on several floors. This means that the time interval between starts was about right for me. Unlike a fun run event, the staircase is not really a place suitable for socializing.  We need our breath for climbing the stairs, and the narrow staircase would be blocked if we walk together with other people.

Pretty soon I reached the top. There were people cheering for every finisher when we got there. I have never taken part in a run, so I was a little unsure what to do when they had this piece of fabric going across the finish line. It was much thicker than a ribbon, so it was probably a reader for the timer embedded in my runner's bib. 

Someone put a finisher's medal over my neck. It was made of a rectangular shaped metal with date and event engraved on it. My daughter really liked it when she saw it. Too bad that she could not join even the fun run because the minimum age is 12 for the fun run and 18 for the regular run. She is only 8 years old.

I enjoyed the view from the 61st floor of Shangri-la at the Fort, as the building is the tallest in central Fort Bonifacio. I could see a unique angle of buildings below, especially how their rooftop looked like! Only with this vertical run can I access that floor of the building.

I think I will come back and do it again as long as my body allows me to. When I checked the results from the website of the organizer, I was pleasantly surprised that I did better than I had expected. It took me under 19 minutes to finish the walk. I was on page 4 of six pages of runners. 





Featured Image
Community Events
newbie

It was not just one fine day. It was one great day for residents of Fort Bonifacio, for we will have a new place to do some real walking that is a little sheltered from the smog from traffic. We are talking about the BGC Greenway project, which was opened partially on July 14, 2016 at a ceremony held at Icons Residences.

If you are a resident of Fort Bonifacio who lives near the west side of the city near Manila Golf Club, it would have been impossible for you not to notice the construction work that has been going on there for several months.

That construction work was part of the BGC Greenway project, which is a 1.6 km path that allows residents to walk or bike from Bonifacio Ridge to McKinley Road without having to cross any vehicular traffic. Its minimum width is 2.5 meters, and in many parts, it is wide enough for people walking, jogging and biking together.

If you look at the greenway today, it may not seem such a great deal. It looks like an ordinary landscaped backyard.

The significance of the greenway is that it got built at all. The greenway has been included in the Master Plan of BGC since the announcement of the Master Plan of Fort Bonifacio (now branded as BGC by the main developers) in 1999. Lots were sold and investors were drawn in because of what was shown in the Master Plan. BGC was designed to be a first world city. The greenway was called BGC Linear Park in the Master Plan.

Nothing happened for more than ten years. Then, a few years ago, around 2013, a group of residents, including Mr. Michael Keppler of Pacific Plaza Towers, urged the management of Fort Bonifacio, which is a company called Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) and is made up of representatives of BCDA, Ayala Land, Inc. and Evergreen Holdings, Inc., to bring the greenway to life. They found a strong ally in Mr. Charles Rufino, President of the Net Group, a major developer in Fort Bonifacio. Since then, Mr. Rufino has been working tiredlessly to see that the greenway is built. As a chairman of Urban Land Institute Philippines, Mr. Charlie Rufino was also instrumental in getting a grant from Urban Land Institute to kick start the project.

A pathway that allows people to walk in a green environment is often not on the minds of officials in a developing country, let alone that of private developers in this setting, where the usual goal is to compete against each other to be the top earner from every square meter of land that they come across. It is to FBDC's credit that they honor the promise made to investors.

The work that has gone into it since May 2015 includes putting in ducts that house power cables that can provide Fort Bonifacio additional electricity supply to meet its future growth, and the construction of proper drainage that ensures the greenway stays dry. In a developing country like the Philippines, these basic infrastructures are often not included in public works.

Mr. Charlie Rufino is currently mobilizing local businesses to put amenities such as benches and lightings on the greenway.

Major locators of BGC were invited to speak at the launching ceremony. 

Speakers at the BGC Greenway launch ceremony (left to right): Mr. David Toze, Superintendent, International School Manila; Mr. Don Lee, Lafarge country chief executive officer; Mr. Patrick L. Phillips, Global Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Land Institute; Mr. Rally Martinez, president and CEO of Nuvoland Philippines; Mr. Charlie Rufino, outgoing chairman of Urban Planning Institute Philippines; Mr. Robert F. Kuan, Chairman, St Luke’s Medical Center; Mr. Manuel Blas II, Head of Operations, Makati and Bonifacio Global City, Ayala Land Inc.; Mr. Raymond Rufino, incoming Chairman of Urban Land Institute Philippines.

Anybody who is interested in the developmental history of Fort Bonifacio would have found the speeches by the speakers, particularly those given by early locators of the Fort, very interesting.

Mr. Toze of International School Manila, recounted how his school decided to move to its current location in Fort Bonifacio.

The decision to move the school to Fort Bonifacio was not an easy one, Mr. Toze recalled. At that time, Fort Bonifacio was an empty lot. The school took a leap of faith in deciding on Fort Bonifacio as the new school location. He was happy with the way that it had turned out today. However, he also named the challenges ahead, such as in dealing with a growing traffic congestion problem, as well as worsening air pollution.

Mr. Blas II of Ayala Corporation talked about the planning for green space in Fort Bonifacio.


He explained how green space was designated in Fort Bonifacio.

Mr. Robert Kuan of St Luke's Medical Center also relayed how he persuaded the board of St. Luke's Medical Center to agree to build a new hospital in Fort Bonifacio despite the uncertainties in financing this mammoth project. He expressed his eagerness to try out the whole length of the greenway when it was completed later this year, as he would much prefer to exercise outdoor in an unpolluted environment than in an air-conditioned gym.

According to FBDC, the greenway should be completed before the end of year. When it is completed, I am sure it will be well used by residents. Even now, when it is not fully finished, and not raining, some residents are already taking walks on the greenway.

For more details on the design of the BGC Greenway, read this article.