Sunday, May 24, 2015

Antonio's Tagaytay : Dining with a Vista

One of the most famous restaurants in Tagaytay and hailed as Asia's top 5 is Antonio's.

It is a fine dining restaurant serving well-crafted cuisines is a distinctively Filipino taste and culinary style.

The restaurant was founded by Chef Tony Boy Escalante, a globetrotting Filipino Chef. 

The foods are delicately prepared using organic ingredients grown in their well-managed organic farm.

The menu offers variety of Filipino cuisines mostly originating from our Spanish heritage.

Though their offerings are pricey, it is all worth for the taste of food and vista of Taal Lake in splendid tropical greenery. 

Here are our pictures when we dined there.  

The best tasting longanisa at Antonio's.
The mouth-watering corned beef.

Antonio's has a good place and nice ambiance.

My mother enjoying this adorable creature.

My mother and aunts bought some goodies from Antonio's shop.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pico de Loro: A Desirable Eden

The Philippines is a fantastic place for its scenery and panoramic beaches. Wherever you are in the archipelago, it is almost certain that you can find a beach resort. 

Some of these resorts are world class and known globally. Yet, there are still undeveloped beaches in the Philippines which when developed promise tourism potential for its panorama.

One of the best developed beaches in the Philippines, I would say, is Pico de Loro. It might come next to Boracay but at par with the beach resorts of Samal Island and Misibis Bay.

What is good about Pico de Loro is that it is accessible from Metro Manila by car. It will just take less than 2 hours to get there.   

By local standards, the resort is pricey but I would say it is worth it especially that the amenities are excellent.

Pico de Loro have lots to offer from its well design suites to the amazing pool and the picturesque beach.

The area have several enclaves for hotel accommodations and amenities. In the enclave where we stayed, there is a pool, a man-made lake and a tennis court nearby.

Five-minute ride on a tram from our enclave is also another accommodation and a club house near the beach. Next to the club house is an infinity pool.

The beach does not only offer a relaxing swimming experience but also sports activities such as volleyball or Frisbee.    

Indeed, Pico de Loro in the bosom of sprawling paradisal forest is truly a desirable Eden.  

A tarp of Pico de Loro in the lobby.

On my background is the picturesque sea surrounded by mountain.

My parents and aunts enjoying the beach.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: Winning

Author: Jack Welch & Suzy Welch
Title of the Book: "Winning" 
Year of Publication: 2009   
Place of Publication: New York   
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers    
Number of Pages: 384   
Price: USD 29.99
ISBN: 9780060753948

Everybody wants to win! That's the gist of this book. But how to do that? Jack Welch, a celebrated CEO offers his insights.

This is nothing but a book on strategy, as strategies are geared towards "winning." Various insights were tackled such as setting the company's mission, using candor in business, differentiating a company, becoming a leader, managing people as well as crisis. 

Two aspects captured my attention which are; 

  • The 20-70-10 rule in which employees are classified as top 20%, middle 70% and bottom 10% performers. This is Mr. Welch's way of encouraging employees do their best and thereby create value for the company.   
  • General Electric's mission for becoming the number 1 or number 2 in every market.

Mr. Welch provided his 8 rules for what leaders should do. He mentioned about the acid test for getting the right people on the field. With the right people on the field, the leader must be able to manage them well as people with voice and dignity.

He also emphasized that change initiative should only be carried out with a clear purpose in mind.

He enjoined leaders that in order to prevent crisis, a culture of honesty,  transparency, fairness and strict adherence to rules and regulations be put in place.

Particular importance was directed to strategy as Mr. Welch allude to it as "It's all in the sauce." He provided 5 points to make strategy real.

He delved on six sigma for use in improving operational efficiency as well as the imperative of work-life balance in the context of performance efficiency.

On the whole, the book is a good read for victors to be a la Jack Welch! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sunset at Kuta Beach

Sunsets are lovely a display of celestial hues. It brings one to the nostalgia of a home.

In Bali, there is this much talked about sunset at Kuta Beach which can be conveniently witnesses while lounging in the cafes of Discovery Shopping Mall.

Many tourists indeed are waiting for the sunset. At least for me, this is something new as the sun set in Indian Ocean, not Manila Bay or South China Sea.

Indeed, the sunset is lovely with the sun turning to an egg yolk yellow before finally disappearing. What a lovely way to end the day in Bali!

The much talked about Sunset at Kuta Beach 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Uluwatu : Ode to the Gods

Places of worship exudes sacred and solemn atmosphere as Pura Luhur Uluwatu.

This place of worship is a Balinese Hindu temple situated atop a cliff in a densely forested area. 

The area is apt for its purpose as it is closely tied with nature and the surroundings are serene.

It is a perfect place for meditation or reflection while being lulled into the deepest recesses of the soul by the sound of the sea.

It is a poetic place where psalms, mantras or odes can be so solemnly offered to gods. 

Perfect panorama for worship.

On my background is a temple by the cliff. 

My mother and aunt posing before the ornately carved altar. 

We posed with Balinese women after their worship.

My mother and aunt posing before the marker of Pura Luhur Uluwatu.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Barong & Keris Dance : A Distinctive Balinese Tradition

Touring in Bali will not be complete without watching the Barong and Keris dance in Ubud.

This performance is a depiction of a Balinese myth about the battle between good and evil. 

Barong, a lion-like creature and the king of spirits represented good. On the other hand, his opponent was Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders.    

It was believed that this dance originated even before Hinduism came to Bali when animism was still being practiced by ancient folks.

It was also said that this performance had gone through changes over time. 

On to the story, Airlangga, the king of ancient Java fought with Rangda. Because Rangda's force was mightier than Airlangga's, Airlangga sought the help of Barong.  

During the battle, Rangda cast a spell on Airlangga's soldiers which made them wanted to kill themselves using their sharp weapon keris.

In response, Barong also cast a spell to the soldiers which made their bodies resistant to the sharp keris.

Barong in the end won the ensuing fight and Rangda escaped, thereby the celestial order was restored.     

The Barong dance performers on stage

The performance with Barong in the foreground.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Balinese Sculpture : The Finer Side of Art

Among the stunning sights in Bali are the intricately carved sculptures you can see almost anywhere.

The sculptures are unique as it portrays something which you can only see in Bali. 

The sculptures depict animals, warriors, deities and humanoids presented in such royal elegance.

The moment you stepped at Ngurah Rai International Airport, you will be welcomed by sculptures of legendary/religious characters such as the Garuda. The arrival area of the airport displays the sculptures of these various legendary/religious characters.

As you go out of the airport, you will see sculptures of gods/goddesses in graceful Balinese pose lining the streets. There is this rotunda of ornate sculpture depicting the valiant struggles of Ghatotkacha, a hero in Mahabharata.  

If these sculptures are only real, Bali is truly the "Island of the Gods."         

The intricate sculpture of Garuda

Sculpture of a goddess

Sculpture of Garuda in colors

Sculpture of a Balinese musician

A Balinese drummer

A sculpture of divinely creature.

A Balinese sculpture of a divine creature. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Batik a la Balinese

Indonesia is known for its quality batik and Bali has mastered this craft.

Batik comes in many different types, designs and colors. In Bali, you will really notice that the batik they are selling is of high quality.

In Bali, the batik craft comes in designs exuding distinctive Asian exoticism. The painters have truly mastered painting their design. They can paint fast despite of the details.

The batik products being sold are polo shirts, shawls, table runners, table cloths, coin purses, bed linens, fans, women beach dress and shorts. Also on offer is a Balinese style white shirt on which you can have it painted batik style. One of the reasons to buy the shirt is that you can customize the design based on a pre-painted catalogue.

What one can glean is that batik may be of ancient craft, but its exoticism has lasting appeal. 
One of the batik painters doing her craft. 

The batik painter painting my shirt.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Eat, Paint, Love : A Balinese Flair for Art

Bali is a get away not just for beaches but also for its artistic crafts. One of the destinations for tourists who are art connoisseurs is the "Art Village."

In here, one can see Balinese paintings of various motifs depicting life and culture in Bali.

There are paintings of Buddha, Hindu gods and goddesses as well as the rich Balinese landscape.

As Balinese believe in sanctity of nature, paintings of flowers and plants are also available in hues of tropical colors. 

The paintings generally are characterized by exquisite and still depiction of the subject.

The Balinese kind of "ornateness" is not extravagant in appeal but very natural in its beauty.     

Me with my mother and aunt at the entrance of "Art Village"

The roofing with distinctive Balinese art

Monday, May 11, 2015

Nusa Dua : Dwelling of Godly Magnificence

If ever there is a place which offers a picturesque view of south seas, that is Nusa Dua, a southern island of Bali.

This place had been developed as a premier tourist destination in Bali with its high end hotels and endless beaches.

Within this island, you can also find other attractions reflective of the Balinese artistic psyche. 

The island is dotted with gigantic sculpture of their gods in elaborate style. Some of the sculptures are also adorned with cloth and the sacred Balinese umbrella.  

Just anywhere you can find ornate offerings to the gods in Balinese style with the scent of incense fading into eternity. 

Nusa Dua is nothing but a temporal substantiation of divine dwelling conceived within the recesses of Balinese artistry.    
Facade of "The Courtyard" by Marriott. The frontage depicts the rice terraces in Bali.
A statue honoring a certain Hindu group.
The gigantic statue of Rama and Lakshmana at Nusa Dua. 
Balinese daily offering to the gods.
A typical Balinese gate with two guard sculptures.
Sculpture of frogs in Bali.
A Balinese legendary hero
A Balinese warrior
A Balinese deity 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Nusa Dua : Beauty of the Sea

Bali is a world renowned tourist destination for her beaches. As such going to the beach is a must when one is in Bali.

The beachfront offers panoramic view of the ocean. The seemingly endless coast is a good place to walk in early mornings to catch the healthy morning sunlight.

The entire stretch of the coast is dotted with world class resorts and each one has many things to offer.  

One can just lie and relax on a beach lounge chair while sunbathing under the tropical sun. Westerners in Bali love this way to get tan. 

Here are some glimpses of Nusa Dua beach.   

Beachfront in an early morning.

The waters of Bali.

A Balinese sculpture guarding the temple by the sea.

One of Bali's resort.

An island off the coast.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sound of Gamelan

One of Balinese cultural aspects which captured by attention is the musical instrument called gamelan.   

It's subtle tone brings one to the memory of home, a relaxed atmosphere where the ultimate comfort is.

This musical instrument is unique as it creates distinctive tones by striking bamboos of various lengths.

Playing the gamelan requires a unique skill to produce the sound reverberating the homely Balinese culture.

The gamelan players

Me with the Gamelan players.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spirituality of Traditions

It is customary during Holy Week in the Philippines to have processions of the images of various characters and scenes in the Bible. This custom has been observed in almost all parishes in the Philippines though the grander ones can be seen in the provinces. 

Having grown up as a Catholic in Bacacay, Albay, Philippines, I am used to witness this annual event. The procession is studded with "pasos" which are statues of Biblical characters or scenes depicting the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. These statues are well adorned as can be seen in the pictures below. 

The "paso" of San Judas Tadeo which our clan owns.

"Jesus Nazareno"

"Senor de Pacencia"

"Agony in the Garden"

"Entrance to Jerusalem"

"Ecce Homo"

"Jesus Meets His Mother"

"Santa Veronica"

"San Pedro"

There are many stories behind these "pasos." Many of these date back to the 19th century and handed down from generation to generation of families assigned to take care of the "pasos." Some of these "pasos" are taken cared of by families whose members are no longer living in Bacacay. But these family members wherever they are in the world go back home to Bacacay during Holy Week to prepare the "paso" for the procession. As such, its has become a family devotion which should never be missed. With that devotion, the family taking care of the "paso" feels that blessings from the Almighty abounds for them.

Ever since, the procession in Bacacay for Bacacayanos is a testament of faith which gives meaning to our Catholic life.