A Holiday Guide for Balikbayans - Helpful Tips Articles - My

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					A Holiday Guide for Balikbayans - Helpful Tips Articles - My Philippine Retirement
Friday, 20 November 2009 00:56




By Aimee Carandang-Gloria




CHRISTMAS season is the best time to visit the Philippines. Despite the horrendous traffic and
unbearable heat, it’s just wonderful to be with family and friends. The season evokes nostalgia,
the spirit of giving and a sense of well-being. It is also the time when the best
food
is prepared, festive decorations are set and
shopping destinations
unique to the season abound.




What’s new and interesting in Manila this time of year?




For “shopoholics” who favor a one-stop shop destination, then the mall is your best bet. Every
city in Metro Manila has a mall around the street corner. The newest mall in the metropolis is
the Trinoma Mall located at the junction of EDSA and North Avenue in Quezon City. Built and
run by Ayala Land, the mall is a blessing to residents of Quezon City and surrounding areas
who enjoy going to Glorietta in Makati but don’t enjoy going through the horrendous traffic along
EDSA.




Trinoma is a huge complex with beautiful landscaping punctuated by stunning water features. It
is home to loyal Ayala Mall tenants and a host of new and exciting stores run by budding
entrepreneurs. The Landmark Department and Grocery store, known for its low-priced
merchandise, has set up its one and only branch here. Their grocery boasts of a wide selection
of goods, including hard-to-find items, both local and imported. The mall has a huge parking
area and is accessible by MRT.




Shop till you drop




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When they say “we’ve got it all for you, shop at SM”, they weren’t kidding. The SM chain of
stores that has mushroomed throughout the city has practically everything one needs under one
roof. For                                                                                     bali
kbayans
, Kultura, is a must stop. The days of the Igorot man in a wooden barrel are gone. This store
offers quality Philippine-made products at reasonable prices. It carries modern furniture and
home accessories made from indigenous materials of export quality. RTW barongs and dresses
made of
jusi
and the finest
piña
material are available. Kultura also has the famous Philippine cigars, native delicacies from
various provinces, fun logo-shirts,
balikbayan
box bags/travel accessories and the
balikbayans
’ favorite pasalubong, the Magic Sing karaoke machine.




It’s best to shop at Megamall, SM Makati and Mall of Asia (MOA). MOA has an added
attraction, the view of the famous Manila Bay and its bayside restaurants which offer the
freshest sea                                                              food dampa style. At
night, this place comes alive with a live band playing at the al fresco dining area. Truly a great
place to hang out and enjoy the cool Christmas breeze.




Market!Market! in Taguig is a balikbayan haven. It caters to those who have a penchant for
bringing home goodies from various regions in the                                               Phi
lippines
. This mall has allotted a whole area beside the outdoor fast
food
dining area for this purpose. You can enjoy your favorite delicacies right in the heart of Manila.
Here, you can find kiosks selling
sukang Iloko, chichacorn, bangus, bagoong Balayan, Sevilla’s pastillas
, flavored
polvoron, puto, bibingka, sapin-sapin, broas, danggit,
dried mangoes,
rosquillos
, tuna
chicharon
, bottled sardines,
pili
tarts, organic coffee, durian products,
suman



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from different regions and many mother native delicacies.




Unique bargains




For the discriminate shopper who wants unique finds, bazaars are your shopping destination.
The best bazaars offer export overrun items ranging from clothes, jewelry, Christmas décor and
home accessories. Designer coats at $20- $50, Gap and Old Navy kids clothes at $5 up, Ann
Taylor, Ralph Lauren and Banana Republic shirts and pants at $7 up, designer dresses $15 up.
They also have products from Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Morocco and India.




The best bazaars are: American Women’s Club Philippines – World Trade Center, Dec. 2; Karl
Edwards International Bazaar – NBC Tent, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, Nov. 22-23, Dec. 6-7,
Dec.18-23, Dec. 27-28; Grand Bazaar @ the Big Tent- Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive, Don
Antonio, Commonwealth, Quezon City, Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6-7, Dec. 13-14, Dec. 18-23; Rockwell
Urban Bazaar – Rockwell Tent, Makati, Nov. 28-30, Dec. 12-14; 7th World Bazaar - World
Trade Center, Manila, Dec. 5-16.




If you are brave enough to battle the biggest crowds to get the best bargain, then, Divisoria is
the place to go. The 168 Mall offers clothes, bags, shoes, hair accessories, belts, wallets and
toys from China, Thailand and Korea and many stuff that you can find in the Greenhills tiangge
at even lower prices (although if you are looking for pearls, Greenhills is still your best bet.). Just
remember to dress comfortably, secure your belongings and come early, parking is difficult at
this time of the year.




Food, food food!




Across Market!Market! in Taguig is Serendra, the upscale condominium complex that boats a
quaint two-storey shopping and dining area. Unlike most malls, Serendra, with its open spaces,
offers a relaxed atmosphere where one can stroll and enjoy fine dining. The dining area at the
ground floor of the commercial complex offers an eclectic mix of food fare.




Abe is Filipino cuisine in the Pampanga tradition with a twist. Don’t miss their Binukadkad na



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Pla-Pla and banana fritters. Chelsea offers continental cuisine, salads and pizza. Silk, with its
wonderful and simple interiors, creates an atmosphere for that fine Thai dining experience.
L’Opera, Balducci offers delectable Italian cuisine. Mamou is famous for its steaks.




For reasonably priced meals and dessert, Conti’s is a favorite. Worth trying are their baked
salmon, chicken pie, pancit palabok, Mango Bravo and Mango torte. Your sweet tooth will have
a blast at Sonja’s for it flavored cupcakes, Mary Grace’s for its to-die-for
ensaymadas
, and
Chocolatier
for its chocoholics fantasy.




Right across Serendra is Bonifacio High Street, a promenade which is a kilometer long and 40
meters wide with rows of dining establishments and retail stores. One can enjoy the open
space, greenery, sculptures and water features while shopping and dining. Puma, Nike,
Speedo, Crocs, Havaianas, R.O.X., Italianni’s, Brother’s Burger, Krispy Kreme, Seattle’s Best,
Pancakes, Figaro, Kabisera by Dencio’s, Fully Booked, Hobbes are among the more stores and
restaurants that have set up shop here.




Newest mall on the block




The newest mall on the block is Greenbelt 5 at Ayala Center in Makati. Known for luxury
brands, it is also home to new restaurants. John and Yoko is Japanese fusion at its best.
Everything here is worth trying and reasonably priced too. Fely J’s, a sister restaurant of the
Adriatico chain of restaurants, offers Filipino food with a twist. Other restaurants worth exploring
are Damaso (Filipino/Spanish cuisine), Myron’s (famous for its prime rib, good wine and coffee),
Cibo and Chateau 1776.




For buffet aficionados, Saisaki/Kamayan/Dad’s is the best value restaurant. A balikbayan
favorite, the 3-in-1 restaurant offers Japanese, Filipino and continental dishes. For those willing
to splurge a bit, restaurants in hotels offer good
food
and wonderful ambiance. Worth mentioning are Spirals in Hotel Sofitel, Circles in Makati
Shangri-la Hotel and Paseo Uno in Mandarin Oriental Hotel.




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Of course, balikbayans should never miss a visit to old-time favorite dining places such as
Max’s Restaurant , Aristocrat, Barrio Fiesta, Via Mare, Dencio’s and Gerry’s Grill.




Sightseeing




A must-see holiday event is the Great Lantern Festival in San Fernando, Pampanga on Dec.20,
where colorful Christmas lanterns of all sizes, shapes and designs crafted by local artisans are
on display. .




F. Policarpio Street, Barangay Zanaga in Mandaluyong is literally aglow during the Christmas
season. The houses in the entire street decorate their homes with a multitude of lights. At night,
the street is closed to vehicular traffic to give way to both local and foreign visitors who come
and enjoy the festive atmosphere.




Kids and oldies alike will surely enjoy a visit to the world-class Manila Ocean Park near the
Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park, which opened early this year. Its collection of marine
species rivals those in other Asian countries. Come early and hire a tour guide for better
appreciation of the facilities. Open Mondays-Fridays from 10 am to 9 pm, Sat-Sun from 9 am to
9 pm. Entrance is P400 for adults and P350 for children.




From here, take a side trip to the nearby Museo Pambata on Roxas Blvd. corner South Drive. It
is a hands-on discovery museum for inquisitive minds. Open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 am to 5
pm, Sundays, 1 pm to 5 pm. Entrance is P100 per person.




Walking tours




Walking tours in Metro Manila are becoming a popular activity for balikbayans and foreign
tourists. Carlos Celdran presides a very informative, unconventional and highly entertaining
walking tour of Intramuros, Binondo, Quiapo, Escolta and Malacañang Palace. Check out his
website at                                                                                 www.
 celdrantours.blogspot.com
. Another proponent is Ivan ManDy, who popularized the Binondo Wok Tour, an appetizing



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excursion to eateries in Chinatown and Binondo, and
sightseeing
tours of Manila’s Chinese Cemetery and the historic districts of Intramuros, San Miguel and
Binondo. Visit his website at
 www.oldmanilawalks.com
.




Entertainment




Christmas in Manila will not be complete without the musical/dance/theater productions the
Filipinos are world famous for. Worth watching this holiday season is Divas for Divas concert at
the Araneta Coliseum on Dec. 6, featuring the country’s four divas -- Kuh Lede
sm
a, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Pops Fernandez and Regine Velazquez.




Ballet Philippines stages Coppelia, a laugh-out loud funny, comic ballet at the Cultural Center of
the                                    Philippines on Dec. 11-14. Lisa Macuja’s Ballet Manila
will have the World Premiere of an original Filipino ballet,
Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang
on Dec. 5, 6, 7, 13, 14 at the Aliw Theater in Star City, Pasay City. Repertory
Philippines
reprises the classic Christmas play
A Christmas Carol
at the Onstage Theater in Greenbelt 1, Makati City.




For mainstream entertainment, there is the Metro Manila Film Festival which showcases Filipino
films from Dec. 26 to 31. This year’s entries include
Dayo
, the first Filipino full-length digital animation film; the horror flick
Shake, Rattle and Roll 10
; the comedy film
Escaleras and Ungasis
starring the zany trio of Tito, Vic and Joey;
Tanging Ina N’yong Lahat
, a heavy drama starring comedienne AiAi delas Alas.




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Reprinted from website:  http://www.planetphilippines.com/




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