Text & photos By Liana Garcia Joyce Updated April 19, 2009 12:00 AM
My mom, Pynky Gomez-Magsino, was always a big advocate for travel. I was fresh from university and the first thing she did was send me packing for Europe, where I ended up living for almost seven years — soaking up the culture, touring the continent every chance I got and eventually marrying an Englishman.
I recently returned home and my sister Aischa and I, along with mom, decided that PNKY Café, however charming and quaint it already was, needed a facelift. We conceptualized something a bit more modern but still cozy that would also showcase our family’s strong passion for globe-trotting — a travel-themed café!
The new PNKY Travel Café is littered with mementos from our holidays — photos, postcards, tickets and suitcases! Everything you see printed on the menu, hung on the walls and on display are souvenirs from trips we’ve taken. The suitcases belonged to my grandparents and the antique glass bottles were collected by mom from flea markets all over the world. We also feature a strong lomography vibe as my husband and I are analogue photographers.
The café now features a lovely new menu (trust me, even that alone is worth the visit) serving dishes from breakfast to dinner and all meals in between. The menu depicts famous cities, places, sites and museums. Must-haves for main course is our famous chicken spinach Riviera, beef a la Seine, Le Louvre and Lake Como catch. If you’re not in the mood for something heavy, we also serve hearty, homemade soups (La Tomatina), organic salads (El Secreto), tasty sandwiches (Croque Monsieur), pastas (Ciao Bella Carbonara), and nibbles (Dam Square) just to name a few. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a yummy array of desserts (In Bruges), and for coffee connoisseurs, there is always a cup waiting for you! There are also an assortment of fresh fruit shakes, frappes and smoothies, slush and teas. There is a selection of bottled wines and a lovely red house wine sold by the glass or carafe.
The café prides itself on having almost everything you need, including a place to stay when visiting the City of Pines PNKY Home Bed & Breakfast, a live-in showroom of PNKY Collection, so everything you sleep on, eat, and sit on is for sale!
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PNKY Travel Café is located at 13 Leonard Wood Rd., Baguio City. Call 074-442-5965, 074-445-5418, log on to www.pnkyhome.com (we now accept direct online booking), www.flickr.com/groups/PNKY, on Facebook it’s PNKYtravelcafe.
I went to Batanes for the first time after getting an invitation from a friend who was going there with her son. I decided that it was a good opportunity for me to go, and take my son along. Whatever I had heard previously about Batanes did not do justice to its beauty, as well as the goodness of its people, which I experienced during my trip. People there are content and do not live their lives preoccupied with thoughts of natural calamities — the events that, sadly, make Batanes familiar to us. Their homes are made of limestone which is naturally porous and resistant to earthquakes and typhoons. More importantly, every house is an architectural sight that makes one feel how much love and patience was put into the construction. I was amazed to hear about the community’s housing cooperatives. The neighbors help one another build homes for their families.
Batanes may be isolated, but it is no doubt a successful community where interdependence is the norm. The pervading culture dictates that it is a privilege to help and be helped, and almost an insult to receive payment.
While biking in one town called Ivana on the main island of Batan, I got fascinated with a relatively popular yet inconspicuous fixture — The Honesty Café. This little store was started by Aling Elena, a retired teacher who decided to provide refreshments to townfolk and travelers in the area. Anybody who enters the cafe can get food and drinks and drop whatever payment they feel like in a basket. While the items are tagged, the store is not manned. Some people drop their payment, others don’t. But it’s all okay with Aling Elena; her ultimate profit is the chance to awaken her customers’ consciousness to honesty and responsibility and to teach them to live these lessons in the other areas of their lives.
Together with her husband Jose, she toils the fields and takes pride in being a farmer. In her daily labor of love she prays, “God, please help me with my crops so I may share them with others.” As Elena and Jose talk about their 50th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day next year, it’s as though their celebration is already happening, every day. Their life together reinforces simple values: what you plant, you eat; what you sow, you reap; everything is abundant; everybody sees beauty.
I was overwhelmed by the simple and profound lessons of life that are the day-today experiences of the people of Batanes. Life is about thanksgiving, with Sundays being strictly for church service. To many of them, sharing their lives with one another and sincerely helping is the only way to prosper.
As I looked out at the fields, beaches and mountains of Batanes, talked to Aling Elena, Mang Jose and their community, I became more convinced that in simplicity lies majesty. Nature, when respected and nurtured, can provide us with everything that we need to live abundantly.
This is my experience of Batanes and its people. Life that is lived fully will lead us to knowing who we are and becoming what we are made to be. Giving starts with one person. It starts with one home. One woman prepares food with love. One man takes pride in his labor. One traveler pays the right amount. One child learns to share. A neighbor gives unconditional assistance. Everybody does the same. And we get blessed with a community called Batan in an island simply known as Batanes.
By Rose Anne Belmonte
Updated January 25, 2009 12:00 AM
Valentine’s is for indulging your sweet tooth, your coffee cravings and special foods. Special date places these days don’t have to be expensive and formal restaurants. They can be casual places where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and sweets, or something as fun as ice cream, or as healthy as a chiabatta sandwich. The choices are numerous at SM Megamall.
Häagen-Dazs: Having your cake, and ice cream, too!
Hägen-Dazs combines two things we love most: cakes and ice cream. The ice cream cakes come in Berry Chocolate Crunch (P1,940), loaded with strawberries, nuts and chocolate, Fruity Surprise with apricot ice cream and layers of fruits and lady fingers. They also come in minis, which you get in a box of fours (P1,130). Häagen-Dazs has a range of 24 flavors (I love the cappuccino) and serves Illy coffee.
For Valentine’s weekend, they offer Valentine Fondue (P900), great for sharing for two to four people. The fondue has heart-shaped pastries (by Pillsbury, sister company of the ice cream company), strawberry, apple, mango, and scoops of strawberry, macadamia nut, cookies and cream, and Chochoc Chip ice cream. It’s a fun way to celebrate Valentine, plus you get two free cinema tickets with every order. You need to call in your order for the Valentine Fondue 30 minutes before you go to the store.
Häagen-Dazs is located at the second floor of SM Megamall Atrium, call 638-2971.
Crepes & Cream: More than just desserts
From the most basic crepe (butter and sugar, P65) to one you create, you can enjoy this French favorite. Its range of sweet crepes includes Fiesta (halo-halo in a crepe with ube ice cream), Chocolate Temptation, Crazy for Strawberry, and Mango Mania. Its savory crepes include ingredients such as ham, hotdog, tuna, pork floss, shredded chicken and ground beef. Some of the crepes are served rolled (as in burrito style) instead of folded, making it easy for you to eat in a movie house or while walking. The restaurant serves milkshakes and sundaes, and UCC coffee, too.
Located at the 4th level of Mega Atrium, call 687-3118.
Jugo Juice: Light, right and natural
A franchise out of Vancouver, Canada, Jugo Juice is a place where you never have a hard time deciding between good food and healthy food. Its signature smoothies are all made from whole fruits (not just the juice from fruit) without added sugar and are labeled so you know exactly what you’re getting. The 24-ounce Powerzone smoothie, made from strawberries, pineapple, tropical nectar, orange, and a shot of Powerzone, has 286 calories, 70 g. of carbs, 3.2 g of fiber, 979 percent of vitamin C and 1 g. protein.
“One large smoothie contains five servings of fruits. Everything here is good for you,” says Jolene Kui, operations manager. And that includes the whole-wheat chiabatta sandwiches (grilled chicken, smoked turkey, vegetarian, and pork), and desserts like fruit Jell-os.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see Vitamin Water there, which is not available in local supermarkets, a favorite of runners.
Jugo Juice is located at the 4th level of Mega Atrium, call 635-4458.
Bo’s Coffee: Proudly local
The first time I had Bo’s coffee was in Davao. It hadn’t franchised in Metro Manila yet, and we thought, this would be very successful in the capital. True enough, a few years later, it began sprouting in malls. Today, Bo’s Coffee is a great local choice to get your caffeine, tea or blended coffee fix. It also offers pastries, cakes, and breakfast fare all day such as omelets, pancakes and waffles. Its bestseller meal is pasta carbonara and from its sweet menu is the chocolate mousse. The Megamall branch also has computer terminals for surfing while enjoying your drink.
Bo’s Coffee is located at the 5th level, Mega Atrium, call 637-2898.
The French Baker: C’est bon
All kinds of bread — sugar-free, wheat, white, with butter and garlic and everything else — you can get here. Then there are the tuna, beef and pork turnovers — meals by themselves that you can enjoy on the go or in a movie house — and if you have time to sit down and eat, try the spareribs and my favorite, chicken a la king, served in a pastry. The French Baker was the first to broaden bread choices even before we could spell focacia.
The French Baker is located at the 3rd level and upper ground level, call 632-0735.
Dairy Queen: Right side up served upside down
At Dairy Queen, they serve your Blizzard upside down. Maybe to show you how thick it is, or maybe it’s just their way of saying “enjoy our ice cream.” If they don’t, you get it for free. Dairy Queen’s vanilla-based, soft-serve ice cream comes in several flavors — Oreo to strawberry to rocky road.
For Valentine’s Day, they have the famous Dilly Bar, heart-shaped with drops of strawberry syrup, for only P35. It’s a great way to enjoy ice cream and express your feelings.
Dairy Queen is located at the third level, Bridgeway, Mega Atrium, call 637-6998.
Secret Recipe: A sweet secret from Malaysia
At Secret Recipe, a franchise out of Malaysia and brought into the country in April 2007, the words “high-fiber” and “cheesecake” find their way in one menu item: the High-Fiber Cheesecake, containing eight kinds of nuts, seeds such as sunflower, oats, wheat and bran flakes.
Secret Recipe has 10 kinds of cheescake — cheesy chocolate, Oreo, caramel cream, New York, chocolate cheese, marble, espresso, baked cheese, cappuccino and high fiber. All the cheesecakes are flown in from Malaysia; they are frozen solid and can last months in this state, but once they come out of the freezer, they are on display for only two to three days in the store.
The company also makes its own cream cakes out of its local commissary. The resto serves sandwiches, fish, lamb, chicken, pork, pasta, soup, salad and gourmet pies as well.
Secret Recipe is located at the 2nd floor of Mega Atrium, call 706-5246.
Mrs. Fields Cookies: Cooky over cookies
My husband R. never watches a movie without Mrs. Fields cookies. We usually split at the concessionaire stands, and while I load up on popcorn, he gets a bag or two of cookies and nibblers. His favorite? Anything and everything chocolate; mine is anything with white chocolate and nuts.
Mrs. Fields Cookies was founded by Debbi Fields in Utah in the late 1970s and has since spread its baked goodness all over the world. Just follow the smell of these freshly baked cookies and you know where to find the store.
Located on the upper ground floor of SM Megamall call 910-5695.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Coffee, tea and blended
Established in 1963, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a favorite of Hollywood celebrities — you always see them carrying its ice-blended drinks in paparazzi shots. The true is the same for the local stores. Coffee Bean has that ambience of a homey kitchen and a countryside store with its warm interiors and merchandise displays. If you want to take home their coffee and tea goodness, choose from 12 tea flavors, among them Moroccan mint (my favorite), ginseng peppermint, and topical passion, from P495. Or the powdered drinks — vanilla and chocolate, P499 — which is the secret ingredient in its blended drinks.
Coffee Bean & Tea Lead is located at the third level, Mega Atrium call 970-9005.
Blenz Coffee: Blending goodness
Blenz Coffee regards making lattes an art and it begins with the beans. It uses some of the finest in the world and trains its baristas to develop their craft at the Blenz Coffee Academy. It offers brewed coffee, espresso, cappuccino, espresso macchiato, latte, mochas, Americano and pastry products.
Located at the 2nd level of Mega Atrium, call 706-5767.
By Tanya T. Lara
Updated February 09, 2009 12:00 AM