Saturday, February 27, 2016

Theater Review: Yugto Theater Ensemble’s “Open The Door” at Mabuhay Restop, Manila

Yugto Theater Ensemble
Open The Door Poster

Yugto Theater Ensemble’s (YTE) “Open The Door” written by Harrold Saliba and directed by Marco Viana, is a one-act stage play that seeks to assess how we think as voters. Dubbed as a “talk-variety-game-magic show”, the production is very relevant as the May 2016 Election is fast approaching.

In the “game show”, Mac, the funny host, opens the "mini-doors"(D-O-O-R) for Umma Madlasin, a re-electionist for Punong San Sinibayan. Each door has different proofs of her assumed evil deeds, which she needs to deny or justify. It is an interactive show where the members of the audience have the chance to speak and defend their judgment of Umma, whether she is guilty of the charges against her, or not. According to the game, "lahat ay inosente hangga't hindi nababahiran ng panghuhusga".

“Open The Door” is a dark comedy. During the discussion at the end of the play, I asked the playwright his reason behind the selection and sequence of the charges against Umma Madlasin, as well as the inspiration for the set (dominantly pink, as if you’re attending a debutante’s party), costume (think of Hunger Games's Capitol), and characters (again, Hunger Games). While it seems funny and entertaining, the real story is quite disturbing as it makes you question how you judge people, or how you select (and elect) people leaders – will it be based on competence or morality?

Yugto Theater Ensemble
Mac (the host), the bear, and Umma Madlasin

Yugto Theater Ensemble
The interactive part of the show (prizes were given away, too!)

“Open The Door” was staged at Mabuhay Restop, Ermita, Manila last February 26-27, 2016, at 3pm and 7pm, respectively. It will be touring schools soon. 

Yugto Theater Ensemble
Mabuhay Restop, Manila

Congratulations to the actors, playwright, director, and all the people behind this production that aims to effect positive change in the society. We need more of this in this day and age.

Yugto Theather Ensemble
The awesome cast of "Open The Door"

To know more about YTE, visit their Facebook page.

(I've stalked the members of Yugto Theater Ensemble via Facebook. And, I fell in love with them even more. Each one is an inspiration, indeed. After all, they are alumni of Mapua! They are engineers, architects, graphic artists, etc. AWESOME.) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Twist To Your Pasta: Tuyo Pesto at Café Laya

I always thought that whatever you can eat with rice as "ulam" (dish) can be mixed with your favorite pasta! We’ve seen corned beef or tuna used for spaghetti and carbonora. Even my favorite Laing has been experimented by Goldilocks in its pasta!

My latest discovery was Café Laya’s signature Tuyo Pesto (Php 200). What I love about this is that the tuyo tastes just right – neither too salty nor too bland. Each serving comes with 2 slices of toasted bread, and is enough to satisfy your curious stomach.

Cafe Laya
Tuyo Pesto

Visit Café Laya at the Ground Floor of EGI Tower, Taft Ave., Manila, just a short walk from De La Salle Taft. Visit their Facebook fanpage for updates!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Twist To Your Hotdog Sandwich: Angelo Barbecue+Drinks’ Beer Battered Cheesy Franks Sandwich

If you think that there’s nothing you can do with a hotdog sandwich, think again. At Angelo Barbecue+Drinks, they can make a boring hotdog sandwich succulently interesting!

Angelo Barbecue+Drinks
Beer Battered Cheesy Franks Sandwich served with Fries

I tried their Beer Battered Cheesy Franks Sandwich served with Fries (Php 120) because I got curious with the name. I was surprised when it was served: a breaded German Cheese Franks sandwich topped with caramelized onions! What I loved about it was the crunchy texture given that the frank was breaded. When I asked Jerome, the owner/manager, why it was called “beer battered”, he said that they used beer instead of water for the batter! Cool, huh?

There are other interesting food choices at Angelo Barbecue+Drinks that I would try and write about soon. Visit Angelo Barbecue+Drinks along Kawit, Cavite and check out their Facebook page for updates and promos!

A Twist To Your Sinangag/Sinigang: Kanin Club’s Sinangag Na Sinigang

Wondering how to creatively spice up your usual fried rice? Kanin Club has the answer, its bestseller, Sinangag Na Sinigang! Priced at only Php 250 per serving, which is good for two persons, Sinangag Na Sinigang is a complete meal already, as the dish (Sinigang) is already mixed with your fried rice (Sinangag).
Kanin Club
Kanin Club's Sinangag Na Sinigang

According to my friend, Ms. Jho, who tasted if for the first time at Kanin Club Greenfield District, “lasang lasa mo ang sinigang hanggang sa huling kanin!” – that’s how delicious this dish is. As she couldn’t get over with the taste, she would ask her mom to experiment and prepare the same dish!

Kanin Club has other bestsellers which are equally succulent as Sinangag Na Sinigang, which I would feature in the future posts. Visit their Facebook Page for their menu and other updates.

Theater Review: PETA 3 Stars And A Sun And The Importance of History

The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) brings another quality original Filipino musical, 3 Stars And A Sun, featuring the songs of the legendary Filipino rap Icon, Francis Magalona, after its successful musical Rak of Aegis, that ran for more than 200 shows from 2014 to 2015 (which I saw four times)!

Francis Magalona Musical
3 Stars And A Sun ticket

3 Stars And A Sun is set in the future where two clashing groups, Lumino (white, oppressor) and Diliman (black, oppressed) live inside a Stormdome made by Pancho, a hero who built the dome and sacrificed himself by closing the door of the dome from the outside, so that others may live.

PETA 3 Stars And A Sun
Me and Gold Villar who plays Sol, the leader of Diliman

In that era, nobody knows the history of the Philippines, except the crazy, old man, Mang Okik. Nobody knows Jose Rizal, nobody recognizes the Philippine flag, and the memories of a person is being erased to enslave them and serve Lumino.

PETA 3 Stars And A Sun
Harold and Gio Gahol who plays Chino, from Lumino

3 Stars And A Sun is very far from Rak of Aegis. While the latter is fun, vibrant, and entertaining, the former is more dramatic, emotional, and intense. Yet both productions never misses to leave a lesson that the audience will take with them as they leave the theater – Rak of Aegis highlights sustainable development, whereas 3 Stars And A Sun centers on nationalism.

Francis Magalona Musical
3 Stars And A Sun stage

What exactly does 3 Stars And A Sun say about nationalism? It says that we should defend our history, that we need to be the vanguards of our freedom. It is our responsibility to uphold our identity. Indeed, this is very timely, especially that Philippine History is being “dropped” from the curriculum in high schools. It appears that the story of our own struggles are being “ignored” in the name of global competitiveness. It’s not surprising then that, again, we hear questions like “Why is Apolinario Mabini sitting the whole time in film Heneral Luna?” from kids ignorant of the men and women who fought for the freedom they are enjoying right now.

PETA 3 Stars And A Sun
Me and Karen, with the Master Rapper, Francis Magalona

Indeed, 3 Stars And A Sun is a must-see production not only because of its musicality but more importantly because it reminds every Filipino the importance of defending the history of his/her own land.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Twist To Your Sisig: Mesa Filipino Moderne's Sisig In A Pouch

Want something with a twist? Why not put a twist to your usual Sisig? I discovered Sisig in a Pouch, an appetizer, at Mesa Filipino Moderne at Sky Ranch, Tagaytay. It’s basically sisig wrapped in layers of molo wrappers (what we use for siomai), and was deepfried afterwards. With this idea, you can wrap and deepfry any “ulam” (dish) you can think of! But of course, what you will wrap should already be yummy in the first place.

Mesa Filipino Moderne, Sky Ranch Tagaytay
Sisig in A Pouch at Mesa Filipino Moderne

You should try this 8-piece Sisig In A Pouch priced at Php 180. Also, Mesa Filipino Moderne Restaurant has other interesting Filipino dishes with a twist. Visit for more information. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Café Laya Inspires Creativity

If you are looking for a place that can help unleash the inner artist in you, Café Laya is the place to be. Located at the ground floor of EGI Tower along Taft Avenue, a short walk from De La Salle University- Taft, Café Laya inspires creativity for artists and non-artists alike, and starts to make itself known in the themed café industry.

Creativity is Freedom

Launched in December 2015, Café Laya is a dream project of friends/business partners Joan, Kat, and Tricia. And dream that was finally realized when Joan and Kat quit their corporate jobs.

“Think of it as a blank canvas where you are free to write or draw anything you like”, said Joan when I asked her about the concept of the café and why it was dominantly white. Café Laya showcases different exhibits every two to three months, thus, expect that the look of the café would differ every so often. In January 2016, a group of Instagrammers launched its exhibit titled #SINOPINAS, a photo exhibit that featured various beauty shots from all the provinces in the Philippines. According to Joan, when she told the group who set up the #SINOPINAS exhibit that they could do whatever they want  with the space, the walls, and the ceiling, they were shocked (“Gawin ninyo kahit ano”, she said.) Perhaps, Cafe Laya gives that much freedom!
Cafe Laya
#SINOPINAS Photo Exhibit

Aside from the #SINOPINAS exhibit, mounted on the walls were the artworks created by their guests and clients when they visited the place. There are papers, paints, pens, pencils, watercolors, and brushes available to use for free. The first time I visited the café was in December 2015 with my friends, Mars, Adrian, and Mariol. I was glad to see that the Little Prince-inspired watercolor artwork I did was already posted on Café Laya wall!

Cafe Laya
See my Little Prince-inspired watercolor artwork?

To further inspire creativity, Café Laya conducts Passion Workshops, such as Basic Painting. Just recently, in partnership with our group ALAB, Café Laya has successfully held SIDHA: Sulat Baybayin, a workshop on the ancient Tagalog handwriting system (baybayin is popularly known as alibata, which is a misnomer.) Soon, Café Laya will be opening its doors for open mics, as well.

Cafe Laya
The mezzanine where the Passion Workshops are held

Support Local

Café Laya supports local artists and promotes local products. The café is open to artists who would want to exhibit their artworks for sale or just for display. Available in the café as well are locally made products, such as products from Gawad Kalinga’s Enchanted Farm, and Theo + Philo chocolates (whose flavors are quite interesting!), among others.

Even the coffee that they offer are local! According to Joan, they use Arabica beans from the mountains of Benguet.

Cafe Laya
Artisan products for sale at Cafe Laya

Signature Bestsellers

Aside from the ambiance, it’s their menu that includes “a selection of indulge-without-guilt meals, carefully crafted drinks, and desserts” that guests look forward to whenever they visit the café. The price of the meals start at Php 155, the drinks at Php 100, and desserts at Php 70. Café Laya’s signature pasta, which is definitely a must-try is Tuyo Pesto served with buttered bread, priced at Php 200. Being a pasta person, I love what they did with Tuyo Pesto because it is not salty.

Cafe Laya
Keso de Bola Carbonara (Php 200), Tuyo Pesto (Php 200),
and Kesong Puti Cheesecake (Php 155)

Cafe Laya
Salted Caramel Mocha (Php 150)

Visit and like Café Laya’s page on to know more about what they offer, and for updates about their Passion Workshops. Explore your creative side over a cup of coffee at Café Laya.

ALAB holds baybayin workshop at Café Laya

ALAB partnered with Café Laya to bring to the public one of its passion workshops titled “SIDHA: Sulat Baybayin” last January 23, 2016, from 2pm-5pm. The workshop about the ancient Tagalog writing system was facilitated by Kuya Leo Castro, an anthropologist and founder of Sanghabi. Sanghabi is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to promote indigenous Filipino culture through dance, music, and movement. Sanghabi was also the beneficiary of the said workshop.
Cafe Laya
Kuya Leo of Sanghabi, teaching baybayin

Kuya Leo started the workshop with a historical background of baybayin, and why alibata, has become a misnomer. He then proceeded with the introduction of the 17-letter baybayin and how each character varies (that is, when does it become a consonant, a vowel, or a single letter). Lastly, Kuya Leo shared with the workshoppers the etymology of some Tagalog words.

Cafe Laya
Participants attempting to write in baybayin

According to Kuya Leo, the threat of the demise of baybayin is imminent, especially in the advent of the ASEAN Integration, when Filipino and Philippine History are not given much importance in the students’ curriculum. These subjects are even being “dropped” in the name of global competitiveness – at the expense of our national identity.

Cafe Laya
Kuya Leo being interviewed by Aksyon TV after the workshop

This initiative of Sanghabi, ALAB, and Café Laya, no matter how small, is essential in keeping our Filipino culture alive.

Cafe Laya
Kuya Leo with the participants of baybayin workshop