Head out for a food trip on the food hub at the heart of my hometown.

The area of U.P. Village and Teacher’s Village (both West and East), count in Sikatuna Village as well played a part in my life growing up. As for a good nine years, five out of the six in elementary and my entire four year high school life, these places I always go into during my school days in the area. Every time I come back, whether to visit my two Alma Mater schools (Headway School for Giftedness and Claret School of Quezon City), it is always a very special feeling for me. Three years have passed since I graduated from my humble high school Alma Mater in Claret School of Quezon. Yesterday, I returned to the area, and on the street of Maginhawa, and I can’t help but be happy with all the changes that has happened here since I roamed these areas on a regular basis back then.

Maginhawa has become the food hub in my hometown of Quezon City as in a relative short amount of time, food and beverage establishments spawned up like hotcakes serving not only residents of the area, but also people from around the city and to an extent the metropolis to come here and dine over establishments offering a diverse line of food and drinks. I always remember when I was still in both grade school and high school, Maginhawa was just a simple street, with nothing more than residential housing and only a few food establishments were present in the area. Now, when I came back yesterday to roam around the area, I can’t help but notice the great changes that have happened here including the fact that Maginhawa is now a national road.

Anyways, Maginhawa is indeed a gastronomic melting pot as for the entire stretch of the street, food and beverage establishments line up offering a variety of cuisines and specialties perfect for the next food trip

From burger joints like The Snack Shack which is known for their delicious “worth the wait” burgers at a very affordable price for everyone as you can get one for only P70.00. “Worth the wait” in a sense they make their patties on the spot and take around 15 minutes to cook to perfection. I recommend everyone to come and try out their delicious burgers.

Another nice burger joint is Good Burgers which is well known for offering an alternative to the usual beef burger as they offer both vegetarian and chicken burgers with different toppings which customers can add to their burgers. Another one is The Burger Project where customers can customize their own burger by choosing ingredients to build the perfect burger for you.

Other notable restaurants include Friuli Trattoria offering Italian favorites like pizza and pasta, Katsu Cafe offering Japanese dishes, Gayuma ni Maria which offers a unique experience for customers with their very mysterious interior accompanied with great food. Grill Queen which offers simple barbeque dishes, and Tomato Kick which is a resto-pub.

Maginhawa is also home to many milk tea joints, the well-known Moonleaf Tea Shop made their humble start here as a small joint, now their flagship branch is now housed in a nice building not too far from their original location. Other milk tea joints include Cha Dao Tea Place, ZenTea, InfiniTea and Simple Line.

Unfortunately though, since I haven’t tried out each and every establishment around Maginhawa since my visits to the area are rare and the fact I only had limited time to roam around the area yesterday, I can’t talk a lot more about the other joints around it. For a complete list of food joints and establishments around Maginhawa, you can check out this nice blog post right here: 

This area has given me a lot of memories to treasure. Now, this area can bring me more memories with all the gastronomic experience this area brings to every one coming to it. The best part about it is that these are entrepreneurial success stories of the people behind food joints to which everyone who dine here are treated into, and along the stretch, you will not see your usual big name establishments like those serving fast food. I am very excited and looking forward for my return to the area and the next food trip around these familiar grounds.

For a unique and great gastronomic experience, you must visit Maginhawa.
K-Smoove

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The hardest lessons learned. Practicum, here I come.

It’s official. The semester is in the books. I will say with a open mind and heart that this was the toughest and the most difficult semester I ever had in the 3 1/2 years of my Thomasian journey. It pushed me to my very limits. From the very tough start to the year to the huge effort I gave to recover and bounce back at the same time the balancing act I did between my academic life and pursuits when it comes to competitions outside of the university. It was also took a grueling toll on myself both physically and mentally as I went through a lot of things in every day of the semester.

Even though this was the toughest semester I had and I fell a bit short on my goal for the semester, There are still things to cheer up about, I’m glad that made it through without any failures in all of my subjects both related to tourism as well as the few general education subjects we had to take this semester. At the same time, my winning ways continued into the semester with the two competitions I competed in.

With this semester over with, my academic life in college comes to an end. Also, I will not be able to see my classmates on a regular basis as we will now carve our own paths in the next semester, as we will enter the workplace and the industry itself for Practicum. I still have one last shot to prove my worth and most importantly get the necessary experience I will need to work well in the industry I decided to work on. It’s going to always be a challenge, but I’m sure it will be all worth it. I will work hard and do good in wherever workplace I will end up with when the right time comes. At the same time, I will get ready for my last tour of duty in tourism competitions, as I will soon pass the torch to my current teammates.

Seven semesters have come and passed, we’re all down to the last semester, our days as students are already numbered and on March 27, 2014. The Thomasian journey will come to an end and a new journey begins thereafter.

Almost there to the finish line. Got to finish strong.
K-Smoove

Tragedy in paradise.

I woke up late this morning, when I turned my computer on and start the day. Unfortunately, once I logged in on my social media accounts. Photos came out from the Visayas which left me very sad. It all happened 3 hours before I woke up, just past 8 o’clock in the morning here. When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island province of Bohol which was felt all over the Visayas region as well as some parts of Mindanao. The photos that came out were very tragic, as damaged and collapsed buildings and roads were all through my timeline. As of this moment, 67 people were killed with hundreds injured. But it is expected that the death toll will rise as most areas are unreachable at this point of time.

It’s a personal tragedy for me, in a sense that two years ago, I came to these magnificent places as part of the Domestic tour organized by the university. When I came over to visit both Bohol and Cebu, it was all a sight to savor as I was able to see these wonders that are a part of the history and culture of the the Philippines as well as destinations which make the country stand out with the rest of the world.

Jumping over the Chocolate Hills from the view deck circa. 2011
 Baclayon Church in all it’s majestic glory circa. 2011
Inside Dauis Church in Panglao Island circa. 2011
 Inside the Basilica Minore of Santo Niño in Cebu City circa. 2011
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
As with every earthquake which we can never predict when it happens, never did I think it would come too soon after my visit to these wonderful tourist destinations. Yet it did, and the photos were very tragic.
 
 One of the hills inside the Chocolate Hills National Park collapse.
Photo ©Robert Michael Poole via Twitter @tokyodrastic
The view deck of the Chocolate Hills collapsed.
Photo ©Robert Michael Poole via Twitter @tokyodrastic
 
The collapsed bell tower at the Basilica Minore of Santo Niño 
Photo ©Reuters
 
As a future tourism professional, it is heartbreaking to see these sights as these destinations are a part to the growth of the tourism industry of our country. The destinations that we market not only for domestic tourism but also to attract visitors from abroad. In addition to the fact that these destinations played a part within our nation’s history at the same time it has it’s own significance to the residents and locals who live along these destinations. We could all say that this is a national tragedy, especially after the war in Zamboanga a couple of weeks ago, and recently Luzon was devastated with a typhoon that came along a few days ago.
 
Despite this tragedy that shook our nation, I believe all in well in the ability of the Filipino people to rise up from the tragedy and rebuild from these unfortunate times that the people there are experiencing at this moment. Especially with aftershocks expected within a week’s span from the earthquake. Now, we must come out and help those who are in need in these tragic times in our nation. In addition to funding the rehabilitation of not just the localities but also the heritage sites that were damaged and destroyed in this earthquake.
 
I’ve seen paradise in this land, and I believe that one day after all this tragedy, I will see it all again in all it’s crowning glory.
 
Pray for Bohol and Cebu, Pray for our nation.
K-Smoove

A championship series to remember. Well played Tigers and Archers.

I’m writing this blog entry with an heavy heart. After all that happened today and all the heartbreak and bittersweet thoughts that I have over the past couple of hours, as the basketball season of UAAP Season 76 all came down to one game. As the UST Growling Tigers battled with the De La Salle Green Archers for the right to be crowned the new UAAP men’s basketball champion in 6 years.

But before we got to that moment, let’s look back at the events that led to this moment. 

UST came in as the 4th seed in the Final Four after finishing 9-5 in the elimination round where they were hampered with injuries and tough losses. But they peaked at the right moment after they picked up a huge win over the FEU Tamaraws in double overtime, then surviving three knockout games which included a win that dethroned the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles to end the elimination round, and defeating the top-seeded NU Bulldogs twice to become the 1st #4 seed to knock out a #1 seed in the UAAP Final Four thus returning to the Finals for the second consecutive season.

As for La Salle, they struggled in the first round of eliminations finishing only at 3-4, but they found their groove in the second round as they finished with a 7-0 sweep to give them a 10-4 record, since they were tied for 1st place with NU and the FEU Tamaraws, NU got the top seed due to the quotient system. So the Archers and Tamaraws battled for 2nd place and a twice-to-beat advantage in their Final Four matchup. La Salle won that game handily, then when the Final Four began, the Tamaraws fought hard, however the Archers pulled off the breaks to book their ticket to the Finals for the first time since 2008.

Once the dust settled, UST and La Salle were left standing for all the marbles. One thing that made this matchup special is the battle of the Teng brothers as older brother Jeric of UST battles his brother Jeron of La Salle in what would be their first and last battle in the UAAP Finals. Aside from that, it’s the battle of the coaches with very contrasting personalities as the emotionally charged Pido Jarencio of UST went to war against the calm and calculated Juno Sauler of La Salle.

In Game 1, UST won by a solitary point 73-72 after Karim Abdul blocked the possible game winner of LA Revilla in the winding moments of the game. While in Game 2, La Salle won by 7 points 77-70 led by their twin towers of Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres which set up this moment. Game 3 between the Tigers and Archers, one game for all the marbles.

As the game went along, both teams played with everything they have. The Tigers started hot in the first half while the Archers struggled to score baskets. King Tiger Jeric Teng and Karim Abdul led the charge for the Tigers in the first half and the Tigers went in with 8 point lead at halftime. Then in the second half, the Tigers kept on scoring big against the Archers, but everything changed as the Archers mad a furious rally to take the lead before John Sheriff bailed the Tigers out with a shot at the buzzer to keep the lead heading into the fourth. In the 4th quarter, both teams traded baskets. With the game tied at 65, the Tigers had a chance to win with 6 seconds left. But Aljon Mariano, missed the shot. Thus we went into overtime. Fatigue came into play as both teams struggled to score baskets. Then Jeric Teng gave the Tigers a two point lead with over a minute to go. Jeron Teng got into the lane and drew the foul where he split his free throws but Mariano who got the rebound turns the ball over setting up a clutch jumper by Almond Vosotros to give the Archers a one point lead. Then LA Revilla split his free throws to extend the lead to 2 for La Salle. The Tigers had their chances to tie or win the game. But Abdul missed on a tough trey as the Archers survived and won the game 71-69. The Archers win the title for the first time since 2007 and La Salle coach Juno Sauler did what UST coach Pido Jarencio pulled off in 2006 by winning the title as a rookie coach in the UAAP.

It was an emotional moment, as both the Teng brothers went through a lot of emotions, especially Jeric Teng who played out his final game in a Tigers uniform in the UAAP and the fact that he will not walk away with the championship. Jeron would win the Finals MVP trophy and had some nice words for his older brother. One special moment after the game was when the runner-up trophy was given to UST, the Lasallian faithful in attendance went on to cheer “Go USTe!” and when La Salle got their championship trophy, the Thomasian faithful went on to cheer “Animo La Salle!”. Well this shows, that the DLSUST friendship is alive and indeed true.

 Photo ©InterAKTV

It’s an heartbreaking yet bittersweet moment for myself, heartbreaking with the fact that I will not get to experience the celebration of a championship for UST as a student, added to the fact that I wasn’t watching the game live at the Mall of Asia Arena which meant that I wasn’t able to watch a single game this UAAP season. While, it’s bittersweet since I said to myself that even if La Salle wins the title. I would still be happy for them. 

At the end of the day though, it was indeed a championship series to remember, and I will always be proud to go all in for the BLACK GOLD, BLACK WHITE!

Congratulations to the De La Salle Green Archers, you deserve the championship.

A big kudos to the UST Growling Tigers, you’ve been through a lot of challenges this season and you made it a series to remember. To the graduating players Jeric Teng and Clark Bautista we will miss you putting up a UST jersey in the UAAP.

All hope is not lost though, we still have the chance to defend our PCCL title this year.
But for now, UAAP basketball for 2013 draws to a close.

Go USTe! Animo La Salle! Thank you for a great series.
K-Smoove

A dream is finally realized. The NBA Global Games/Red Nation experience.

I’ve been a member of Red Nation for 11 years now and I have embraced everything about the Houston Rockets ever since. Then one day in February of this year, the dream got closer as the NBA announced that the team alongside the Indiana Pacers will play the very first NBA preseason game in the Philippines. I made my move, saving up and working to get money for the ticket. Then a couple of months later, I went in and purchased my ticket on the very first day it came out to the public. I also got freebies that came along with the ticket and loaded myself with Rockets gear for the big game since it was a perfect time to buy since their gear are plentiful in anticipation of the game.

Finally, on one rainy Thursday afternoon, the dream was realized as the NBA Global Games Philippines 2013 finally came along at the Mall of Asia Arena to grace one of the most passionate countries in the world when it comes to basketball.

I arrived at the arena as soon as gates opened just after 4pm. Then, once inside, I finally got to roam around the arena for the first time in the three times I’ve been at a venue to witness a basketball game. I was with my then schoolmate, once my brother’s classmate and Red Nation buddy Ronny who I haven’t seen in 8 years when were just young kids at school. Then we loaded up with gear to buy, before going to our seats and wait for the game to start.

90 minutes until tipoff
Photo ©Karl Carandang


Some of the players were already practicing once we got in and the arena was loaded with white shirts containing “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” since the Department of Tourism stepped in in and supported the event. Along the way I saw some players from the UAAP near the spot where I was sitting. Then moments before tip-off, the Rockets Launch Crew alongside Clutch the Rockets Bear and Boomer came in for their performances. So yeah, I got to see some great mascots around especially Clutch who is one of the best mascots around the world. Then with less than 20 minutes until tip-off, both teams came out of the tunnel for their pregame warmups.

Rockets Launch Crew

 

Clutch and Boomer
 
 Rockets and Pacers go with their pregame warmups
Photos ©Karl Carandang


As the buzzer sounded, the teams lined up and the starting lineups were introduced as both the Rockets and Pacers played pregame videos alongside the introduction of the starting lineups. After the introductions, the Commissioner himself David Stern was also in Manila to grace the event and gave his gratitude to the crowd in attendance. Then after a few moments, we have tipoff!

Rockets pregame video

 

Pacers pregame video
(I loved the fact they added a local flare in their message for the crowd at hand.)

 

NBA Commissioner David Stern addresses the crowd at the arena
 
We have tipoff from Manila!
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
As for the game itself, well it was pretty much a one-sided affair as the Rockets never trailed in the game despite comeback bids by the Pacers all game long, as they come up with the win by 20 points 116-96.
 
James Harden led the Rockets with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals on 6-12 FG shooting. Isareli swingman Omri Casspi added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas chipped in 16 points. Chandler Parsons had 15 points, while Jeremy Lin added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Patrick Beverley added 12 points and Dwight Howard only scored 9 points. 
 
Paul George led the Pacers with 17 points, while David West added 14. Orlando Johnson scored 11. While George Hill and Luis Scola added 10 each. Danny Granger only scored 9 points alongside CJ Watson while big man Roy Hibbert was only limited to 6 points.
 
The final score. Rockets 116-96 Pacers
Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
Box scores:
Houston Rockets (116) – Harden 21, Casspi 17, Motiejunas 16, Parsons 15, Lin 14, Beverley 12, Howard 9, Brooks 5, Jones 5, Brewer 2, Canaan 0, Covington 0
 
Indiana Pacers (96) – George 17, West 14, Johnson 11, G. Hill 10, Scola 10, Granger 9, Watson 9, Hibbert 6, Stephenson 4, Armstrong 4, Copeland 2, S. Hill 0, Sloan 0, Butler 0, Mahinmi 0
 
Every timeout, there were performances by Clutch, Boomer, the Rockets Launch Crew and the Pacemates. As well as the fact they were handing out free t-shirts even Clutch gave his Clutch dolls amongst the crowd. There were also fan contests throughout. In addition, they honored NBA legends Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Ron Harper and Jalen Rose who graced the country for the series of events that transpired over the past couple of days. As the final buzzer sounded, the players came out to hand in some freebies to the crowd in attendance.
 
The Indiana Pacemates doing a dance for the crowd.
 
NBA legends Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Ron Harper and Jalen Rose.
 
Clutch and Boomer up with their crazy antics during the timeout.
 
Rockets Launch Crew wowing the crowd.
 
Air Clutch and Air Boomer with the Rockets Launch Crew and the Pacemates.
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
The game also gave me an opportunity to see the players and legends I only see on television live in person. At the same time see both teams play their brand of basketball right before my eyes. From the Rockets players like James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons to the Pacers players like Paul George, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Luis Scola. At the same time, seeing coaches Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel. Even Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Pacers President Larry Bird.
 
James Harden at the line
 
Dwight Howard taking free throws
 
Jeremy Lin at the line
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
As for the crowd atmosphere, well it’s a different sight. As for most of the game. Filipino basketball fans were not as rabid and wild as if it were a college basketball or PBA game. The crowd was very attentive to every play, every basket, every block, every three pointer that came along during the course of the game. You can even hear the coaches give instructions on their players. I even saw fans of the Pacers who came all the way from Indiana to see their team play here. There was one guy who came to the game with the sign “I Love the Pacers” and at the back “Mahal ko ang Pacers”. An irony about the fan reaction during the the game, there were cheers when Jeremy Lin gets a basket or touches the ball and he was given a nice ovation when his night on the floor was done. While Dwight Howard got jeers whenever he has the ball or takes free throws, when he got his fifth foul, the crowd just went crazy. The Mall of Asia Arena also wasn’t filled to capacity as only around 15,000 were in attendance to watch the game. One factor could be the ticket prices as well as the bad weather around the area. The fans were wearing either Rockets or Pacers gear as well as NBA gear from other teams.
 
Well, the Global Games/Red Nation experience was all worth it. Not only because the Rockets won the game which I would say was a bonus, but the experience of seeing my favorite players and legends from both teams at the same time the once in a blue moon experience of an authentic NBA game on Philippine soil. Well, I would say it would have been better if a Filipino was on an NBA roster and the fans will come out with their all-out support. Similar to what Yao Ming experienced when the NBA came over to China in 2005 and what will Jeremy Lin experience up in Taiwan as both the Rockets and Pacers made their second stop in their NBA Global Games trip. At the same time, they can improve on ticket prices to make the experience affordable to every Filipino, the next time the league decides to come back and play on Philippine soil once again which I believe will happen sooner than many people expect.

To wrap up this entry I would like to thank the NBA and NBA Philippines for bringing the Global Games here in the Philippines. I hope it’s not the last time they will do this on our shores and I always believe that one day, a Filipino player will shine bright in the league. Someday, I will get to watch the NBA in the United States.

 
From a member of Red Nation in the Philippines,
K-Smoove
 
P.S. Is the NBA Cafe at SM Aura in Fort Bonifacio open already?