Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Immigrating To Bacolod's Manokan Country

Every time I fly home, I make sure I get to enjoy chicken inasal (or chicken barbecue), be it in Makati City or in Bacolod City.

The last time I enjoyed it was in Chicken House, that popular chicken inasal restaurant along the very busy Lacson Street in Bacolod City. That place is always full especially during lunch time!
                          (Aida's. But I didn't know if she was there.)
(Manokan Country)
But on this trip, my family tried another chicken inasal venue, the place where you can find all the restaurants serving the very popular barbecue. The area is dedicated mainly for the deliciously marinated, rightly flavored, grilled bird, and appropriately called Manokan Country!

                          (Masquerade. It's more fun in Bacolod.)

(These masks must have been worn during the 
Masskara Festival competition. 
They are so elaborate and creatively designed.)

'Manok' means chicken, and the restaurants are gathered in a block and wittingly labelled a 'country'. Of course, it has no head of state. Only a national barbecued bird.

But even if it's on the other side of a national boundary, it's still as yummy and enjoyable. Be it the chicken legs, or its innards like the barbecued liver or tailbone, I always enjoy it especially if eaten with garlic rice and a soy sauce-calamansi dip.

And the restaurant we visited was Aida's, whose interior was decorated with these elaborately designed, colorful masks, a tribute to Bacolod City's Masskara Festival which is held every October. 
                         (This has to be my favorite chicken dish.)
Well, in case you're in Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental, you can always 'immigrate' to Manokan Country, where you won't need a passport. Only a huge appetite and an empty tummy.

 (Photos of Miss Masskara candidates displayed inside the restaurant. I don't know which one won the title.)
('Sarap ng Manok sa Bacolod' means 'Chicken is 
delicious in Bacolod.')

And on my trip home next time, I will definitely visit this 'country' again, and enjoy its national barbecue. Burp!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Flying Over the Pacific On Cebu Pacific!

Well, not exactly over the Pacific Ocean. Only the Philippine Sea. :-)

Last year, when it was time to shop for plane tickets for Manila, I was shocked when Judy, my Korean travel agent, quoted me a freakin' W800,000 for a Philippine Airlines ticket! That was W300,000 more expensive than her previous year's price!  I have always flown Philippines Airlines (and a few flights on Korean Air and Asiana flight to and from Manila, and both are the priciest!), but that W800,000 (or about US$700) wouldn't work for me.

So, I tried the next option: Cebu Pacific Air! (Sorry, Mr. Bautista, with all the labor strikes and cancelled flights of your Philippine Airlines, I just couldn't take the risk). 
I went online and got me Cebu Pacific seats to and from Manila, and it only cost W320,000! And that already included choice seats (I chose the exit row for the leg room!) and a 30-kilo baggage allowance (for all my pasalubongs!). No in-flight meals were included though; that's why it was cheap.
                             (My actual luggage weight for Incheon-Manila. 
                             Sagad to almost 30 kilos!)
           (My luggage weight for Manila-Incheon. I could have 
           squeezed in 400 grams of chicharon bulaklak!)

Though the plane wasn't that big (it didn't have a business class section), I was comfortable with my exit row seat and satisfied with my own meals: Jamaican beef patties on my flight to Seoul, and Conti's chicken empanada on my flight to Bacolod! Better than any airline meal! (Burp!) I just bought drinks which they sold on the plane. That way, I could have it cold...with ice!
                                               (Chicken empanada!)
       (Jamaican beef patties with home-made tarts from 
       Cora and  iced drinks! Not to mention a very informative    and entertaining book by Ambeth Ocampo. 
The other passengers could only look and salivate while I laid out the yummiest in-flight meal ever!)

And the verdict on flying Cebu Pacific? I'd definitely fly them again! There wasn't really any big difference between flying PAL and CebuPac. I still arrived in Manila safely (but a little sleepier though). Cebu Pacific's night flight out of Seoul was an hour later, and of course, PAL's stewardesses wore heavier make-up.

I have a big problem with NAIA's Terminal 3 though. 

To the NAIA General Manager: 

Can somebody repair those broken moving walkways (others call it a travelator or a horizontal escalator)? And can you, for the love of OFWs, provide more trolleys?

Our flight arrived at almost 1AM. And we (mostly Filipinos, Koreans and other international passengers), were already so weary and sleepy, and what welcomed us was a Mabuhay! and a broken moving walkway! A freakin' moving walkway that didn't move! And a Pinay mother with a sleeping baby and a few old people had to walk a long way out!

And why is there not enough trolleys? And even if you find one, it's rickety. Those rusty trolleys could kill you with tetanus, you know.

* * * * *

Perhaps, Cebu Pacific can relay my message to the sensitive people who actually run NAIA. After all, being the tenant, #CebuPacificAir can always complain to its landlord.

Now, as I plan my trip back home in the summer, I'll keep on watching out for those promo fares with a 30-kilo baggage allowance. And exit row seats, of course.
And I look forward to my own in-flight meal, too. I miss those Jamaican beef patties already!
                                    (Passengers boarding for Incheon)
                      (Where does the NAIA terminal fee of P750 go?)
      (It's always a good idea to 'web check-in' a day before. 
         No hassle-no waiting at the check-in counter.)

And do you have any other interesting prizes on your in-flight games other than those plastic tumblers?
              (Arrived safely at Incheon International Airport 
                 and waiting for my Airport Bus No. 6060.)

Monday, 23 January 2012

My Frozen Brazo De Mercedes In The Freezing Winter

I am lucky to have tita's (aunties) who know how to make first-rate brazo de mercedes, that very popular dessert in the Philippines which is of Spanish origin, and made of first-rate yumminess, and a few egg whites and bars of Anchor Butter. They don't use condensed milk on their filling, by the way. Condensed milk produces very commercial-tasting, cheap brazos, like the ones found at local cake shops.
And I'm even luckier to have brought to Seoul two brazos from my two tita's! I was able to squeeze them in plastic containers and voila! They're now sitting frozen in, well, the freezer!
And even in the middle of the freezing winter here in Seoul, I continue to enjoy the frozen brazos made from home while spending a lazy day (or night) at home during the Seollal holidays watching the Australian Open and writing a few blogs.

Now, let me finish my slice of brazo de mercedes first. The year of the dragon can wait.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Exodus On Seollal!

Everyone was going somewhere this long weekend. It's Seollal, the lunar new year!  

And most Seoulites have already left the city for the provinces to visit their families. While others are leaving the country for a short break overseas.
(Steve Jobs and a hamburger joint)

It would have been nice to also hit the road again, but flying out of the country was out of the question. I just got back from   my Christmas vacation in the Philippines, and plane tickets are very pricey. It's a peak season!

 And hitting the road would also been good if only you don't know that 30 million other people are moving around the country during this long weekend. I certain don't want to be caught in a day-long traffic jam!

 (I always like the lines of the Seoul Station, from the beams, to the roof and down to the train tracks. It's a beautiful train station.)

And as I wandered around the less crowded city, I made a quick stop at the Seoul Station, the major hub of Korail's KTX trains which carry thousands and thousands of homeward passengers days before Seollal.

 And while I happened to watch a few of those thousands who were eagerly awaiting their trains or on their way to the platform to board them, I shared, in a way, their excitement of being homeward bound.

Happy Seollal, everyone!
       (A family happily posing before boarding their train)