Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Seafood Island

     Five years ago, we decided to become halal-conscious consumers. And i don't just refer to our food consumption. We poured hours on research, through the web or window-shopping, carefully choosing the products which suited our requirements and our needs. 

    We don't claim to consume only halal-certified products for there are categories where none have the required certification. In such cases, we became meticulous label-readers, carefully examining the ingredients/components to check if any of the raw materials is not permissible by our faith. 

     Becoming halal-conscious consumers was not easy but twas doable. Becoming halal-conscious diners is more of the trouble. 

    We love eating out but we are yet to find a restaurant in this city that has been certified halal by the Office of Muslim Affairs. Thus, when we eat out we examine the menu very carefully. We drill waiters on ingredients, preparation and kitchen practices. More than once, we asked if we could take a peek at their cooking area. Most restaurants have been very accommodating and honest. But this routine could be quite a chore. As a result, we are regulars on our usual restaurant choices ... those we have "investigated" and have trusted. And we hardly order anything grilled. Better safe than sorry. 

    We were invited by my in-laws for Eid'l Fitri dinner at Blackbeard's Seafood Island Northshore Grill. And I can say, that this restaurant is one of my best discoveries this year. 

     The restaurant is not halal-certified but it had the balls to declare to their diners that they are halal-sensitive. The said fact is printed on the cover of their Menu. 

    They have a wide range of selection of non-pork and pork dishes. Look at that six-page menu.   When we interrogated asked the waiter about our usual questions, we were told that the preparation and cooking area for non-pork and pork dishes are distinctly separate. When we appeared skeptical, the waiter intimated that their executive chef is a Moslem. Na-periodan kami.

    Their food is good too. For Eid'l Fitri dinner, our generous hosts ordered a feast for us. My favorite is their Shrimp Laing and their Garlic Jumbangus (or something like that). The food is so good that my husband and I brought my family and his other sister to dinner to the same place the night after. My husband even ordered something off the menu and they accommodated him. We ordered grilled fish ... with peace of mind.  Great!

     View their facebook page here. I did and clicked "Like". 

Thursday, August 18, 2011


     The hotel is now called Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao. But for me and those who grew up in this city, we refer to it by its old name, Insular Hotel. 

View from the Front. From their Website.

     In the Waterfront Hotels website, Insular Hotel is described as every guest’s gateway to the diverse, colorful and rich cultural heritage of Davao City.

Local artwork prominently displayed in the lobby (Photo from their website)
     I spent some time in the hotel today and I am reminded why this is my favorite hotel in Davao City. It's perfect for relaxing and the stay within the hotel grounds can be a complete vacation in itself. The hotel is like one big garden.

The Hotel from the Back.
View from the Back where their huge grounds/garden is located.
I love their mini-gardens.
No shortage of foliage here.
There are plants even in this obscure ramp. 
Beautiful pink flowers in the middle of the pathway. Love. 
Green everywhere.

      They have plant sculptures too. Making a mental note to take my sons here soon. They would love these sculptures and they will go crazy running around the place.

      They have the iconic circular pool. As it is Kadayawan season and the hotel has plenty of guests, the pool area is quite full. I only took one picture because I got dyahe. 

      While the pool was inviting because twas quite hot. Why swim in the pool when the hotel has a beach in its "backyard" and Island Garden City of Samal is only five minutes away by motorboat? Love it !

     Some might argue that the hotel is quite old. Perhaps. But that just adds character to the place. Rest assured that the hotel is well maintained. I find it interesting because it has incorporated a lot of Mindanaoan culture into its design.

I'd like to think that this used to be part of some ship centuries ago. 
Clever use of the local weave ... Tinalak.
Indigenous Patterns etched in Brass
A Closer Look
Indigenous Patterns Carved in Wood

Their special decoration for Kadayawan placed in the hotel lobby. 

The Philippine Eagle
Perched Atop Durian and Adorned By the Waling-Waling
      The only thing that is in the negative about this hotel is that I am not crazy about their food. While their black forest cake this time left my companions raving about its taste, generally their food is not to my liking. But my friends were kind enough to pack some for me for Iftar. 

Thanks from the bottom of my empty stomach.
 I leave you with this picture from their garden. Davao is and will always be LOVE.


Happy Kadayawan To All !

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Z is for Zebra

Photo from African Safari Pictures
      Ever since I have named my second son Zayeed, I have become fascinated with zebras and everything that starts with the letter "Z".  I have also been drawn to zebra prints whose black and white stripes I found out goes pretty well with my favorite color ... hot pink.

      When I saw this mini-van (aka multicab van) in the mall parking lot, I just had to illegally park to take a few pictures. 

Good thing my camera was out of my bag and within reach. 
Isn't it cute ? Even Aliq was amazed at what he called "The Zebra Car".
I wish I took better pictures but the guard was signaling me to move my car along.

Now, here is my own little ZEEbra.

Good night folks. Time for me to get some Zzzzzzzz. 

Friday, August 12, 2011


     I have been hiding this toy Zee got for his birthday because I am tamad to learn how to assemble the thing. But Aliq climbed (all by himself, without any of the adults noticing) to our second floor and found my hiding place. So, I was forced to learn how to assemble it. But I couldn't figure out how to use this :

     Aliq : Mommy, how do you use this long thing ?
     Me : I don't know. 
     Aliq : Why don't you know Mommy ? You must know how to play with this. 
     Me : Look at the box. Boys are playing with this toy. Is Mommy a boy ?
     Aliq : No. You're a girl. 
     ---- End of Conversation ---- 

So until their father wakes up, the boys are just playing with the spinway
 as a sort-of ramp for their little toy cars. 

Enjoy naman sila. 

Another Saturday in our household. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Junior Masterchef

I am not a big fan of Pinoy reality television but the teasers for this show has gotten me a lot curious and excited. Children and food are two of my favorites in the world. 

I loved watching these kids from Junior Masterchef Australia on Starworld. 

Pierre was my favorite. 

Twelve-year old Isabella won. 

     Junior Masterchef Philippines held auditions for children ages 8 to 12. It will be aired as Junior Masterchef Pinoy-Edition on ABS-CBN this month of August and will be hosted quite aptly by THE Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo. 

  I am excited to see if the Pinoy children will be just as good as the Aussie kiddos. I hope they cook  Pinoy food, gourmet style. We'll see. 

   At home, I have my own Junior Masterchef. (drum rolls please!) Taaarrraaannnn ....

What is the Junior Masterchef cooking ?

"Gourmet Chicken Nuggets in letter A"

Chinky Eyes. Chubby Cheeks. 

 That's the Junior Masterchef - Our Kitchen Edition !

Friday, August 5, 2011


     "Accessories are important and becoming more and more important everyday. 
They can completely change the look of an outfit, 
and women like the idea of having a wardrobe that's versatile.
For instance, a strong piece of jewelry can make a simple outfit look elegant. "    
                                                                                                        - Giorgio Armani

   I use to wear a lot of accessories and jewelry. But the boys pull and tug at them that most of my necklaces and bracelets, including the real jewelry, are now broken. To save myself the trouble and to reduce the risk of wounding my children, I now wear a simple necklace and have shied away from accessory shopping.

   I first heard of  Accessorize from the tweets of my cousin Lalaine who lives in NYC. She tweeted how she loved her online purchases from Accessorize and twitpic-ed her favorite pieces. I was intrigued. And the same day, I saw my friend's daughter, Moira, holding a bejeweled pink pen that I adored. She said she got it from Accessorize at SM. My friend suggested that I check out the store because she knows how kikay I am and how I love pink. I pretty much forgot about the store as I rarely pass by its location in SM. 

   Two weeks ago, I "escaped" from a CSC seminar during lunchbreak by taking a jeep to SM. The jeepney drop-off point was just at the entrance near Accessorize. What attracted me was the big S-A-L-E poster on their window. I gravitated towards the store and got myself the following :

I love Pink and Black!
Sunglasses at 70% Off
Bracelets at 50% Off
I got those that look like vintage-jewelry
Earrings at 50% Off
  I took another "lunch break" shopping trip to SM to get someone a pair of Havaianas. Magkatabi halos ang Havaianas at Accessorize. I got myself some shawl. I needed new ones anyway. Now, half of the display in the store are at 70% Off. 

I got a white sheer shawl.

Delicate Fabric. Patay to sa mga bata. 

Made of Viscose, Linen, Metallic Fiber and Silk

I got a big black shawl that feels like pashmina.

Made of Viscose from India
     Thanks to Accessorize, I have reignited my passion for accessories. I am slowly building up a new collection ... kid-friendly pieces. Happiness!!