The Month of the Heart of Winter

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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pet Blessing at Mercato


Hmmmnnn, if we happen to miss Saturday Pet Blessing in Greenhills we can still bring Bea here. Wait, I would think it over considering the incident that followed at this juncture the first time Bea attended an event… 



Blessing of the Pets


I hope there will be no rains on Saturday as we are planning to bring Bea on Greenhills for this year’s Pet Blessing though things may change if Boni High will respond to my inquiry soon 🙂 .

Where do you plan to bring your babies folks?



date nights at McKinley Hill

Despite life’s challenges I always look forward on weekends and every time it comes to pass I feel the need the have a good time. It is a necessity for husband and me to have a date night at least once a week.

It doesn’t compel to be splendid and lavish all the time, we can settle over coffee and get idle for hours.

And going to McKinley Hills on weekend night is becoming a habit for us. It is because we mutually find the place relaxing with less people going around.

It is easy to get a seat when we feel like dining even during mealtimes.

And live performances fascinate us most of the time. Where else can you watch live bands and opera for free? Plus the free parking promo on Sundays is one brilliant idea to draw customers.

The place is kid friendly too; there is a recreational area for your little ones. Yep, I’ve written once that the Piazza is also perfect for kids to play around. And I plan to bring P and SAM here eventually, possibly Christmas time 🙂 .

During our recent visit we had time to check the newly opened (not so sure how recent it was 🙂 ) Pan de Manila at the other side of the Piazza.

Well, it was an addition to our list because you can lounge at the place and have coffee paired with freshly baked pandesal with tuna on it! It was the perfect way to end the night.

Well, I see us visiting McKinley Hill more often these days in spite of its limitation, it’s being unfriendly to commuters, it’s being tagged as ghost town…

-I find silence in this place, something that I constantly need following a five day work week 🙂 .



Edsa Shangri-la spree: Breakfast in bed is service deluxe!

Breakfast in bed is one of the ultimate ways to pamper. And for me it would always allude to luxury regardless if it’s in a five-star hotel or in a standard-superior level.

The last add-on of our short break at Edsa Shangri-la was the Breakfast in Bed. I am such a big fan of it and the glimpse of the breakfast handout gets me rave for it even more. When asked what time I want it, I elatedly said 7am please! I didn’t consider that it would mean getting up earlier even though we are supposed to stay late in bed and slow down.

Mrs. F and I beforehand decided for a Filipino Breakfast for me and American Breakfast for her. I wanted to have an American set too but it would be exciting to sample both and go halves 🙂 .

Our room attendant was on the dot when he knocked at our hotel room to serve our breakfast. I was half awaked when I let him in while Mrs. F was still tucked on the bedspread. I immediately smell food, good food –I was completely awakened by the smell of breakfast. But it’s not all that, the cheerful greetings I got from the room attendant, who introduced himself as Nickel was notable. He maintained a responsive conversation while he set up the breakfast table, like giving me details about the food, asking me about our preferences and checking if we had a good night sleep. Despite his chatty approach, I didn’t feel getting annoyed. In fact his gesture fix up the failed experience we had at Paparazzi. Before he left, he ensure everything was in place and reminded me to dial Room Service should we need further assistance 🙂 .

Now, it’s my turn to scrutinize everything on the table top. I can’t help but drool over the widespread of breakfast fare in front of me. And I don’t mind at all if we didn’t get to try out a breakfast buffet this time – I am happy with all these deliciousness!

The American Breakfast

Sausages with choice of two eggs, we decide to have it omelette with cheese. All egg dishes come with hash browns, grilled tomato, asparagus and mushroom. Mrs. F wasn’t a big fan of hash browns and she continued to exclaim that if it’s good as this one she can eat it every day.

The Filipino Breakfast

I remember ordering Tocino but I was served with Longanisa Sausage (native ground pork sausages) and had the eggs fried sunny-side up nevertheless, it was so delicious. This set was served with garlic fried rice and pickled papaya. The rice serving is big so it’s just right for Mrs. F and me to share.

We both enjoyed these inclusions,

Chilled juices

Fresh tropical fruit platter

Cereals served with fresh milk


Basket of Assorted breakfast pastries and croissants

Waffle (This is part of the American Breakfast)

Coffee (no photo)

We didn’t get to finish everything in one sitting; we have to make breaks in between and decide to take home the assorted breads. The breakfast was so filling and a special start for us. I suddenly ran out of adjectives to depict the superb Breakfast in bed. And again, I don’t mind getting served with breakfast meal throughout dinnertime.

And lastly, I have to account for the second time that this mealtime turn out to be even pleasurable with our room attendant’s impeccable service deluxe. 🙂



P.S.  We checked out following that afternoon and this short staycation help out in getting ready for quarter end close. Such a nice way to recharge! 🙂

In passing, I let go of a chance of a lifetime to have a photo op with Manny Pacquio, yes! The man of the hour was also there but my team and I was literally star-struck as he and his entourage gets ahead. The next time I bumped with him, I would never let the chance pass by. 🙂


Edsa Shangri-la spree: Paparazzi (the sweet life?)

Italian cuisine isn’t new to my palate and to my colleague of course however, Paparazzi’s philosophy is quite different from the usual. Yeah, it’s inventive and fresh and honest because what is printed on the menu card is essentially what you get –plated and served.

As my team and I walked-in at this quaint restaurant, you instantly feel the fine dining ambiance. Décor are detailed with an eye towards the “atmosphere” desired by the restaurateur. And I expect a highly trained wait staff complementing their formal attire. Likewise, I foresee that food portions are smaller but more visually appealing I suppose.

Anyway, we have a dedicated meal course –a four (4) course gourmet dinner.

Antipasti. Tuna and avocado tartar on chilled fennel mousse with toasted ciabatta chips. Because the dining place was softly lighted I didn’t recognize right away that the tuna is raw, more like a sashimi except that the slices were way smaller. I almost asked for a wasabi and soy sauce to cart off the sensation of rawness. Mrs. F and Maja just forked once and never again. In all fairness, the tuna was fresh and creamy because of the avocado and mousse.

Zuppe. Cream of Porcini mushroom soup with pancetta crisp and foam. I remember our stay at OTP last year; they served us this kind too. Probably because the idea of mushroom soup is commonly Campbell or Knorr Cream of Mushroom this tasted bland and diluted. But lo and behold, this Porcini mushroom are highly priced by gourmet chef worldwide because it is said to be found wild in the woods of Italy. But then again, if there would be other choices I wouldn’t get this one 😦 .

I remember this complimentary bread was served in between the antipasti and zuppe, which we finished right away.

For the main dish, we get to choose between Secondo Di Carne and Secondo Di Pesce.

Mrs. F and Maja went on the safe side and had chicken –Pan seared chicken breast on Sicilian caponata with pesto and toasted pine nuts. This is the Secondo Di Carne. A small piece of chicken breast which got the two’s approval but held that there’s nothing to rave about. I didn’t attempt to sample it because I was pleased with my plate 🙂 .

Bel and I got the Secondo Di Pesce –Roasted sea bass with caper berries, roasted cherry tomatoes, black olives and white wine broth. It was a very good choice, the wine broth blends nicely with the mild and light flavor of this fish. What I love most about it is its flaky meat. I only wished that the portion was bigger please…

Down to our last course, Dolce! Mixed forest berries with a warm marsala sabayon. It was something very new for me. I love berries but the combination of sweet wine with it was too much for me. I could only dream ladyfinger biscuits softened with espresso and layered with rich mascarpone cream or sponge filled with chocolate and curacao chilled cream with roasted nuts. La Dolce Vita!

Now, if you would ask me if I was delighted with the Paparazzi dinner, sorry but I have to give a thumbs down 😦 . Foremost, I am not so comfy with fine dining. Secondly, I am not an expert to judge the richness and diversity of Italian cuisine across regions and generations. I was initially looking forward on a pasta or risotto dish but it wasn’t part of our set, sigh!

And lastly, I am not impressed with the service. Let me go a little detailed so everyone would know how we felt treated like a second class citizen. Yes, we were attended right away, there was no question about it but the following is for you to judge. While browsing the menu card, the Captain Waiter approach us and said “Un set ninyo walang kasamang drinks, water lang po”. I don’t have formal training on F&B but it could have been nicer if he sounded like, “Mam, would you like to order drinks because your Intimately Chi dinner does not include any” or he could just stay put and remind us about the inclusion of our package should we ask for it.  The tone is very irritating 😐 . Then again, I find his feat OA. The place is not full in the first place, there were plenty of wait staff too but what I don’t understand is he keeps on moving double time, bagay sya sa fast-food minus his suit. It seems he doesn’t trust any of his wait staff that’s why he was the one moving around serving the food, why not supervise so you don’t get too much agitated. One thing I learned from being a superior, learn how to delegate and coach. And if you happen to play Diner Dash, he could pass as the male version of Flo on the Go –well, I just thought of it Career Mode!

Wait there’s more, even before I requested for our bill, he made his way already to interrupt our small talk. And would it hurt to say “Thank You” to your guests, Mister?

Our dinner could have been pleasant without him in sight. I just wished we had the option to upgrade it to Heat even that would mean adding up. Ho-hum…


Mezzanine Level, Tower Wing
(63 2) 633 8888 ext. 2738/2739
Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm
(Monday – Friday)
6.30pm – 10.30pm daily
Dress Code: Smart casual
Smoking Policy: Paparazzi is a non smoking restaurant
At 10:56AM today (September 29, 2011), I received an email from Shangri-la in response to my (and my colleagues) concern.


Dear Ms. Escalante,

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback on your recent stay with us.

At the outset, allow me to apologize for the service and quality let down in Paparazzi.  I have shared your experience with my Department Heads concerned.  I sincerely hope you would indulge us on this occasion.

Ms. Escalante, we truly appreciate your feedback and it is our hope that you will return and allow us another opportunity to demonstrate the hospitality we both have come to expect of a Shangri-La Hotel.

We hope this will not mar you image of Edsa Shangri-La and we look forward to welcoming you back.

Yours sincerely,

Henry Lee, General Manager

Edsa Shangri-La, Manila
1 Gardenway, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, 1650, Philippines

((632) 633-8888  7  “

Discover what’s in our nature at

I sent a reply to thank them for the gesture. This settles everything now 🙂 .



Edsa Shangri-la spree: the CHI spa indulgence

Okay, I don’t want to skip this happening before the spa treatment.

Since our CHI schedule will be 6pm then, we thought of spending the next three hours lounging at the outdoor swimming pool. We were slightly prepared to swim except for Dane who stayed dry and became our part time photographer. Thanks Dane  🙂 !

The swimming pool is exclusive for registered guest and mind you they are very strict to swimming attire.

You should wear the appropriate, no cottons or else you will end up with undergarments only. Hehehe…

It was the perfect timing to relish because there were few guests and the place is calming, all set in lush tropical gardens 🙂 .


At last, our most-awaited appointment at CHI, The Spa.

We were shortly led to the reception area where we were asked to fill out forms. It was a brief consultation perse because it will determine your five element sign and ensure the treatments best suited to your needs. The receptionist will be assisting you if you also have health issues, medical treatment or pregnant in planning your spa program.

Discover your personal Element Sign online HERE.

CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La draws inspiration from the origins of the Shangri-La legend, a place of personal peace, enchantment and well-being.

Shangri-La Hotel, Edsa brings to Manila CHI, The Spa, a private sanctuary of calm, personal space and timelessness in a “spa within a spa” concept.  Nestled in the hotel’s Garden Wing, this luxury spa features a variety of single, double and specialty treatment suites, outdoor bathing, relaxation lounges, a library and a yoga studio with classes.  CHI offers treatments based on Chinese and native Philippines healing concepts, including the traditional Hilot massage.

In traditional Chinese philosophy, “chi” or “Qi” is the universal life force that governs well-being and personal vitality.  For people to maintain good health, it is believed that “chi” must flow freely within the body and, when blocked, “dis-ease” and illness follow.  Movement is therefore a key element in releasing blockages.  Body massage, exercise, stretching, hydrotherapy, and movement of the mind through relaxation and meditation combine to assist the body’s natural renewal and form the basis of the CHI spa philosophy.


Afterwards, we were ushered by our spa therapist (Charlotte) at the change room+shower room. Well, it pretty impresses me that Mrs. F and I have the room for us only. I tell you it’s bigger in actual. There is a toilet room, steam room and shower room inside. Our therapist left us for the next 20 minutes so we can prepare ourselves but before that, she guided us on the How to Spa.


Meeting your needs

Upon your arrival at CHI, a brief consultation will be conducted to determine your five element sign and ensure that you have the treatments best suited to your needs. Please advise the Spa Receptionist if you are pregnant or have any health issues or concerns or if you have recently received any medical treatment. 

Our Receptionists are familiar with all treatments and would be delighted to assist you in planning your spa program if you are staying in the hotel for more than one day.

Ring it anytime should you need a therapist to assist you while at the changing room.

Preparing for your treatment

For ladies, no preparation is necessary. For men, we recommend shaving prior to having a facial for maximum comfort and benefit to the skin. Other treatments require no preparation.

What to wear

You may wish to bring a swimsuit while enjoying the Couple’s Suite Room facilities.  For the rest of the treatment rooms, there is no need to bring or wear any special clothing, as Spa Wear is provided in your treatment rooms. Facial gowns are provided for facials, Thai top and Thai pajamas for Yoga, spa sarong for body scrubs and wraps and disposable underwear for the rest of the treatments.

It’s because Mrs. F and I didn’t bring any swimsuit we had no choice but to take the steam bath half naked and alternately had our shower before the treatment started. And we put on the Thai pajamas during the spa.


Your privacy will be protected at all times. Your Spa Therapist will leave you to change in private and throughout the treatment you will be draped with towels, covering all parts of the body not being treated. Ladies will be given the option of including the bust area in all body treatments. We have all private rooms that are secluded for either female or male guests who wish to use their changing rooms and steam shower rooms.

Making Reservations

Advance booking prior to intended treatment time is recommended. Please call or visit the spa should you wish to discuss your treatment and to complete the Element Questionnaire which is an integral part of your treatment. 

Arriving time

To make the most of your spa experience, please arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment for you to enjoy any of our facilities that are part of your CHI Treatment Experience. Should you wish to extend the use of these facilities that are part of your treatment, please refer to the pricelist on our Menu of Services or the Spa Receptionists will gladly discuss with you.

I suggest you arrive early so you can maximize your time and fully enjoy the steam bath, I so love this! I felt it cleanses my skin and made me a pound lighter because of the extreme sweating I had the whole time.

Late arrivals

In the event that you are running late for your appointment, we will endeavor to conduct your full treatment. However, please note that the treatment may need to be adjusted to your original completion time.

 Spa ettiquette

To preserve the harmony within the spa, kindly turn off your mobile phones and leave it in the locker or closet provided if possible. Please do not smoke within the premises. A variety of hot teas are available, and therefore, alcohol and outside food and drinks are not allowed inside.

I like it that the water is lukewarm and lemony; it gives one a fresher feel especially after the steam bath.

Minimum age

To maintain a peaceful environment, children under 16 years of age are not permitted in the spa. 


In consideration of other spa guests, your treatment requires that facilities be reserved. We require a minimum of 12 hours notice if you are unable to keep your appointments. CHI staff will call to reconfirm your booking. Should there be no confirmation done by the guest, the scheduled slot will be forfeited. Please call our staff, who will be happy to reschedule your appointment. 

Your comfort

Although we do our best to anticipate your needs, we appreciate that a spa is a very individual experience. Please let your Spa Therapists know if there is any way that she can improve your treatment or comfort- for example, heavier or lighter massage pressure, an extra towel, sound or lighting levels, etc. We appreciate your feedback and encourage you to kindly fill in a Guest Questionnaire following your treatment.



At the treatment room, this is what Mrs. F and I enjoyed for the next hour.

CHI Balance

A gentle yet penetrating palm pressure massage focusing on the earth element (building chi), wood element (moving chi) and fire element (clarity and peace of mind).  Techniques include acupressure, energizing massage for yang stimulation and relaxing massage for yin calm.  Pure oriental element oils are used to harmonize chi flow.

It was so soothing, I cannot say more except that the spa treatment was overwhelming. I had a lighter feel, more so a stress-free sensation after. If only the cost of this wellness massage wouldn’t break a leg and an arm, I would indulge on it more often 🙂 .

Make sure to treat yourself to a cup of piping hot ginger tea after. I just love its spiciness and invigorating taste. It has a hint of sugarcane juice, well, that was my best guess or maybe it was just really my tastefulness.

Mrs. F and I had an excellent massage and I even got a little recommendation on how to take care of my swelling shoulders, which my therapist suspects nervous tension (?). Oh my! The price of being a corporate slave 😦 .

We wanted to laze further however, we don’t want to be behind our dinner arrangement. After a quick fix, we left CHI and went our way to savor the sweet life.


Up next,

Our faithfully Italian dinner at Paparazzi 🙂 .



CHI, The Spa at Shangri-la
4&5 Floor, Garden Wing
(63 2) 633 8888 or (63 2) 634 7303
Hours: 10am – 10pm