Wake Up, Philippines!

First World Day of Social Justice

Posted in Celebrations, Social Justice by Erineus on February 20, 2009

TODAY we celebrate the First World Day of Social Justice.

With the aim of consolidating further the efforts of the global community in eradicating poverty, promoting full employment, decent work, gender equality, and access to social well-being and justice for all, the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) has designated the 20th of February as World Day of Social Justice to be observed for the first time this year.

The day-long celebration seeks to encourage all UN member states to organize activities on the national level that will support the objectives of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development that recognizes how “social development aims at social justice, solidarity, harmony, and equality within and among countries.”

The declaration also acknowledges that economic growth is “a vehicle for promoting equity and social justice, and stresses that a society for all is only attainable with the presence of social justice and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

There are endless numbers of definitions of social justice, an encompassing term that covers the entire spectrum of elements that render quality to the life of a people or a group of people. Put simply, it is the presence of equal justice in all aspects of society, with everyone – from the most marginalized to the most affluent – accorded equal rights, opportunities, and privileges, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, religious or political affiliation, and economic status, among others.

Poverty and crimes against person and property will continue to be the most visible manifestations of the absence of a just and equitable social system. The day-long celebration hopes to achieve a society where everyone enjoys equal rights and privileges and even chances and opportunities in all aspects of life and where mutual respect for individual rights and freedoms is ensured.

The celebration of the first World Day of Social Justice should serve as a reminder to all of us that a just society is the foundation on which peace and unity can be built, and only through which they can be continually nurtured.


Kasalang Filipino joins San Pablo Coco Festival

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Tourism, Wedding by Erineus on February 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — Laguna’s best wedding suppliers showcased their products and services during the Kasalang San Pablo wedding fair and exhibit, the first leg of Kasalang Filipino 2009, a 12-city wedding fair road show held last Jan. 12 – 14, 2009 at the Pamana Hall in San Pablo City, Laguna.

City Administrator and Coco Festival 2009 over-all chairman Loreto Ambem Amante, Laguna Provincial Planning Coordinator Valentin Guidote, Mutya ng San Pablo 2009 Glennifer Perido, Lakan ng San Pablo 2009 Joseph Brul, celebrity stylist James Cooper, and Kasal.com head Mathel Ong were present during the ribbon cutting ceremony to formally declare the opening of the three-day wedding fair and exhibit.

During the afternoon of the first day, 11 local make-up artists showcased their skills in Ever Bilena’s Gandang Pinay Bridal Make-up competition. Each contestant was given an hour to make up their model brides. Their works were judged by Ever Bilena (EB) marketing manager Onin Mas, EB Brand Manager Mozhgan Amaranto, EB make-up artist Ana Abainza, and James Cooper.

The work of Ferdie Santos on model-bride Diane Joyce Ramirez won the grand prize. Make-up done by M.C. Rasaoa, on model-bride Mica Villamondo, and Eys Vergara, on Alyanna Marie Amad, were awarded as first and second runner-up, respectively. Santos received a trophy, one-year Gold Listing in Kasal.com’s Wedding Resource, P20,000 worth of cosmetics from Ever Bilena, and will be featured in the company’s various ad campaigns.

On the third day, during the Coconut Cookfest, 100 Barangay Nutrition Schools of San Pablo City demonstrated their culinary expertise in using coconut as ingredient in three categories: main course, appetizer, and dessert. Del Remedio District won Best Appetizer and Best in Costume. Ambray District cooked the Best Main Course and Sto. Angle District made the Best Dessert.

The wedding fair was concluded with a fashion show in front of the old City Hall building, showcasing the works of San Pablo’s leading bridal couturiers.

“Through this, (the Coco Festival and Kasalang San Pablo) and with the support of the media, we hope to inform everyone what San Pablo has to offer,” Amante said.

Kasalang San Pablo wedding fair and exhibit is one of the official activities of San Pablo Coco Festival 2009. It started in 1995 as a way of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and to showcase the locally made coconut-based handicrafts, decors, and food products like copra, coco lumber, coco coir, doormats, linens, accessories, virgin coconut oil, bottled macapuno, bottled nata de coco (processed ‘cream of coconut’), and buko (coconut) pie.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Alamat ng maindayog na musika at natatanging kultura ng San Pablo, bayan ng tangi at unang ermitanyo” (The Legend of the Rhythmic Music and Unique Culture of San Pablo: town of the first and only Hermit).

The Coco Festival coincides with the Feast day of the patron saint of the province, Saint Paul, the First Hermit.

Updated February 01, 2009 07:22 AM

Iriga City celebrates Tinagba Festival

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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The festival is an ancient Bicol first harvest offering that features a caravan of gaily-decorated bull carts/motorized floats

MANILA, Philippines –  Iriga City in Bicol will come alive as the city celebrates its annual Tinagba Festival which started Feb. 5 and ends tomorrow, Feb. 11. Tinagba Festival is an ancient Bicol first harvest offering that features a caravan of gaily-decorated bull carts/motorized floats. It also features revelers in mardi gras and native costumes who dance and parade around the city.

Iriga Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen and the Irigueños are preparing for this big celebration. Highlight of this week-long festival is a spectacular street parade competition tomorrow which coincides with the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The festival will transform Iriga City Park into a Science and Technology Park. Various activities are also lined up such as acrobatics, animalandia, quiz show, film showing, technodance expo, wall climbing and science exhibit.

Iriga City is a fast growing urban center in the Bicol Peninsula which offers breathtaking natural wonders, a safe community and the warm company of kind, creative people. It is known as the City of Crystal Clear Springs with more than 30 natural springs spread everywhere in this booming city. It is also famous for its most prominent natural landmark, the majestic Mt. Iriga that offers a captivating view of the Bicol River basin area.

The city’s other major activities this year include the annual Miss Iriga, Miss Rinconada and Miss Tourism Pageant and the Charter Foundation Anniversary.

Mayor Alfelor-Gazmen and the Irigueños invite everyone to visit Iriga City to celebrate the festivities and experience the hospitality, honesty, and warmth that Irigueños are known for.

Updated February 10, 2009 12:00 AM

Getting high on Dinagyang

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Feast/Solemnities, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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Iloilo City With its slogan On Higher Ground, this year’s Dinagyang Festival ended on a happy note. Local and foreign tourists who flocked to this western part of the Visayas are still “feeling high” from the various activities held in celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño. Ilonggos, too, enjoyed the fanfare including GMA’s free show dubbed as Dinagyang Kapuso Night that drew an enormous crowd at the Freedom Grandstand.

Local artists like Pinoy Idol finalist and true-blue Ilongga Sue Ellen, Istayl Naton! hosts Angelia Ong, John Arceo, Mamo Monyika and Dino Vasquez entertained the crowd with song numbers and antics that added glee to the night.

Back stage, Sue Ellen relates that she has now fully recovered from the heavy blow that struck her and her family. She considers the flood waters and fire incidents — that left them homeless months ago — as part of “those trying times.”

“Since the lot is not originally ours, we decided to rent an apartment instead,” says Sue, who returned to Iloilo and continues her studies at Central Philippine University taking up Education after her Pinoy Idol stint.

“Life is much easier here but I still perform in Manila once in a while. I did a show with Ogie Alcasid (and Ramiele Malubay) last month,” she continues. “And of course, I sing on occasion like this as a Kapuso. But more often, I sing here with the church ministry. I really enjoy singing.” So does the crowd who applauded her energetic number Please Don’t Stop the Music.

Various games made every Kapuso’s spirit soar high. And as the night grew livelier, rain started to fall heavily, yet it was not enough to spoil the evening fun and excitement.

All — young and old — stood still, seemingly unmindful of any health problem the rain may bring. They shrieked in excitement, stomped their feet with joy and clapped their hands the hardest when Luna Mystika stars Heart Evangelista and Mark Anthony Fernandez appeared and performed one after the other on the makeshift wooden stage.

“This happens rarely (to see celebrities in person) so we might as well enjoy the moment even if it’s raining,” an Ilonggo fan says.

Mark, while singing Nandito Ako under a wide umbrella, gave away shirts to the jampacked crowd.

Ayos ba kayo diyan?,” he asked with concern. The audience, in turn, responded with delight.

It was Mark’s third time to join Dinagyang. This time, Mark thanked everyone for the warm welcome and invited the audience to continue supporting Kapuso shows especially Luna Mystika where he plays Dexter, the love interest of Heart’s Celestina.

Heart, on the other hand, was touched to see Ilonggos soaking wet all throughout the show. She greeted them pleasantly and belted out a song accompanied by a band. The heavy downpour also didn’t stop her from going up on stage even if she has just recovered from sickness. Heart, too, at one point, tried to keep the umbrella away to interact well with the crowd but failed because she might be electrocuted from the microphone she was holding.

“I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for all the support and please don’t fail to watch Luna Mystika,” Heart says.

As the Kapuso Night ended, happiness vividly reflected on everybody’s faces. The Ilonggos’ warm welcome, in turn, conveyed a feeling as intense as the pounding of the drums we often hear come Dinagyang time.

View previous articles from this author.

By Bot Glorioso
Updated January 30, 2009 12:00 AM

Dinagyang: A dance offering

Posted in Celebrations, Feast/Solemnities, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

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Tribo Molave exhibits their heartfelt devotion to Señor Sto. Niño as they perform before a crowd of thousands.

For Ilonggos participating in the annual Dinagyang Festival, it’s not just another day of street dancing. The long-held tradition is an opportunity to show their devotion.

The economic pinch nearly prevented many tribes from taking part in the festivities this year. But they could not just abandon what their fathers and grandfathers had been doing for decades.

This year, Smart Communications Inc. helped three tribes to continue the tradition. The leading wireless services company sponsored the Atub-Atub, Molave, and Pana-ad, the leading groups in last year’s festival.

Smart also sponsored the Kasadyahan Festival and the staging of concerts like the Kapamilya Caravan at the Freedom Grandstand and Rock ‘Til u Drop at the Boardwalk Leisure Area.

“It’s hard to finance a group of street dancers for Dinagyang, especially in these tough times,” says Jaimer Canlas, operation manager of Tribo Molave. 

Finding the time to rehearse alone can be quite challenging, as each member has to eke out a living. Most members are out-of-school youth, tricycle drivers, pier porters, and blue-collar workers.

They persevere, however, because being in the tribe is not only an outlet for creative expression but also an opportunity to spend time in prayer and devotion.

This year, their dance is also a form of thanksgiving, as the province of Iloilo has recovered from the devastation caused by typhoon “Frank” in July last year. The Ilonggos are smiling once again, the streets full of gaiety and hope.

This year’s performances reflect the Filipino’s indomitable spirit, says Joaquin Santiago Jr., operation manager of Tribo Atub-Atub. Their theme is “helping each other after the disaster of the storm.” The idea is to show how Ilonggos move on from kalisod (sadness) to kalipay (happiness).

Tribo Molave worked around the theme of harvest. “After the storm, the land yields the harvest for the people; in our performance’s case, the ati,” Canlas says.

Consistent winners, the three tribes nonetheless remain true to the real meaning of their dance offering.

“This year, we focused on our devotion, not on the competition, so win or lose, we are happy just expressing our gratitude to Señor Sto. Niño,” Santiago says. Tribo Atub-Atub took home a special award, Best in Discipline.

And it’s no competition, really. The tribe members are friends, with the same purpose — to keep their heritage and culture alive. It is this that makes their street dancing truly meaningful.

Updated February 08, 2009 12:00 AM

Express your love for that someone special with tokens of affection

Posted in Celebrations, Flowers/Plants, Love by Erineus on February 15, 2009

When a long-stemmed rose suddenly costs a fortune, heart-shaped stuff and goodies are all over the place, and restaurants, moviehouses, parks, and assorted dating places are packed to the brim, it must be Valentine’s Day.

Surely, love, sweet love is in the air. You can feel it as soon as you step into SM Megamall, what with its many hearty Valentine offerings and promos.

Aside from whispering sweet nothings to your special someone, you can always get her/him something sweet at SM Megamall where a lot of the stores are holding a sale throughout the month.

Now, isn’t that lovely?

Say it with flowers

We daresay that nothing says “I love you” — make that “I love you very much” — with more feeling than flowers. Be it the priciest flower arrangement that can bust the purse strings or a humble single rose that touches the heartstrings. As the time-worn but well-loved cliche goes, “It’s the thought that counts.”

Well, you can make that thought count by picking out the most loverly flowers guaranteed to bring out the glow in your loved one’s eyes. There’s a virtual garden of assorted blooms at SM Megamall you can give your loved ones — be it your significant other, a very special friend, Mom or Dad, or even Lola or Lolo.

A hot tip: Go get your flowers before the prices go sky-high on V-Day.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Designer Blooms: Designed Not Just For Valentine

Keep love fresh this Valentine’s Day with fresh flowers from Designer Blooms. That romantic invitation comes from Designer Blooms owner Rica Garcia, who’s passionate about flowers. Now 18 years in the business, all of Designer Blooms flowers are locally grown while the seeds are imported.

Fresh is best, but enduring artificial flowers are the next best thing. Now blooming at Designer Blooms is its Valentine collection of silk flowers adorned with mesh, ribbon, and a stuffed toy. A single rose in a box costs P295 while a dozen roses with a large doll fetches P2,695.

“We also do fresh flower arrangements for Valentine,” says designer Dan Tarog.

But of course, Designer Blooms is not just for Valentine. It’s got all-occasion flowers. And you can be sure each one is designed with a lot of tender loving care.

* * *

Designer Blooms is located at the second level, SM Mega A with telephone number 633-2490.

Holland Tulips: Dutch incredible!

When it comes to tulips, there’s just one name on everyone’s lips: Holland Tulips. Here, the tulips come in many different toothsome varieties: purple, yellow, orange, rococo, and alligator petals.

Of course, Holland Tulips does not only sell tulips. It’s got Malaysian mums, gerberas, roses, etc. and ornamental plants as well.

Especially for Valentine’s Day, floral designer Trixie Nuñez has put together different arrangements to delight the heart. For instance, she’s got a basketful of imported roses (a dozen) and white Malaysian mums, which she adorned with twigs, and costs P3,090. Another is a glass vase with two-toned (yellow and pink) tulips, two white long-stemmed roses, Million Star fillers, Song of Korea leaves, and some bear grass for a not-so-pricey P2,035. A cheaper arrangement, at P1,460, is a basket with a bear stuffed toy, Asiatic lilies, gerberas, bromeliads, Song of Korea leaves, beautifully wrapped with a sinamay ribbon.

“But it’s not just on Valentine’s Day that we get a lot of customers,” says Trixie. “The employees of the nearby offices of ADB and San Miguel come to buy their flowers during lunch break.”

Who says you need an occasion to buy flowers?

* * *

Holland Tulips is located at the upper ground floor of SM Mega A with telephone number 635-6160. E-mail hollandtulips@philonline.com or log on to http://www.hollandtulips.com.ph.

King Louis Flowers: Flowers Fit For A Queen

When it comes to those regal Ecuadorean roses, King Louis reigns supreme. A dozen of these long-stemmed beauties costs P3,200, according to store attendant Fanny Gerongay. Anybody who gives you something like this that costs an arm and a leg must really have his heart set on you.

A less-expensive arrangement is a ceramic vase full of everything pink and pretty: pink carnations, pink gerberas, pink stargazers, and pink roses.

“We also do arrangements in all shades of yellow or orange, or assorted shades,” says Fanny.

King Louis has a big freezer where some of the fresh flowers are kept fresh.

Then our eyes are drawn to the white matiolas that speak of pure love. “Matiolas also come in in lavender, yellow, and pink,” Fanny tells us.

King Louis also has a lot of Oriental flowers like the alluring Asiatic lilies. And South American stunners, too, like the alstromerias.

For the queen of your heart, you can give an arm bouquet she can carry like a beauty queen.

Whatever the shade of flower you give from King Louis, your lady love is sure to be tickled pink.

* * *

King Louis Flowers is located at the upper ground floor of SM Mega A with telephone number 635-6980.

Tecson Flowers: A Shower Of Flowers

Shower her with flowers, along with flowery compliments, by getting her some of those immaculate white Ecuadorean roses or blushing pink gerberas, and watch her blush.

You should have gotten your flowers two days ago, when you could have an Ecuadorean rose for only P250 or a Holland rose for P80. Now, they’re probably 20-percent more expensive. But did you say nothing is too expensive for the most precious love of your life?

Then go for the pretty arrangements of stargazer buds and blooms, statice, white corn, Million Star fillers, or red Ecuadorean roses with fuchsia gerberas.

Live, love, laugh, and smell the roses.

* * *

Tecson Flowers is located at the upper ground floor, SM Mega A with telephone number 635-2771.

Funny Valentines

Funny, we love repeating this story of a guy who walked into a bookstore and bought five Valentine cards with this message: “To my one and only.”

Or how about these mushy lines that can turn your heart into putty: “There are only two times that I want to be with you. Now and forever.”

I remember a gal pal who was sobbing her heart out after she broke up with her boyfriend of many years. “I knew his love for me was not for real,” she said, her voice cracking, “because he always gave me plastic flowers on Valentine’s Day.”

Share a good laugh with the love of your life and enjoy choosing the perfect Valentine gift at SM Megamall, which has all sorts of fun and funny ideas for Valentine.

Purificacion: Please Don’t Eat The Daisies

At Purificacion, the daisies in many delightful colors look so delicious they leave you in a daze. Ahhh, there’s a lot more where they come from, that is, the flower farms of garden enthusiast Corazon Purificacion in Novaliches and Alfonso, Cavite.

Store attendants Dina Bandong and Aileen Baronet tell us that the Novaliches farm is all of two hectares. There, the most-prized orchids grow in abundance.

Orchids — phalaenopsis — in white, lavender, and yellow are among the hottest sellers for Valentine. They’re sold as plants complete with soil in pots. Give one of these to your special someone on Valentine’s Day and watch it — and your love for each other — grow every day.

At Purificacion, you can also pick your own flowers and have your own flower arrangement made by Purificacion’s creative florists.

The store also sells seeds, ornamental plants, pots, soil, and garden tools.

Just looking at these floral beauties is enough to make you fall in love with love.

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Purificacion is located at the upper ground floor of SM Mega A with telephone number 409-8589.

Humor Post: Humor-mongering and more

This Valentine, plush bears — small, medium, large — greet one and all “Happy Valentine’s Day” at Humor Post. How beary nice!

And then you’re touched by the story of Tatty Teddy, the unique grey bear with a blue nose and patches. The story goes that one cold winter, snowflakes fell on Tatty Teddy and his brown fur turned to grey. Feeling cold, unloved, and all alone, he was rescued by a little girl who spotted the grey bear in a pile of unwanted things and instantly fell in love with him. It didn’t matter that the unique bear had a blue nose and a lot of his stuffing had fallen out. The little girl scooped him up, dusted him down, and immediately ran home to her grandma to have the bear patched up (thus the patches where his fur had worn away). It’s a poignant love story that Humor Post loves to repeat Valentine after Valentine.

Other things to warm the heart on Valentine’s Day at Humor Post are mug and plush gift boxes, picture frames, trinket boxes, and funny cards. Especially for Valentine, Angelo Alcaide has designed some very lovely and funny pillows that are bound to inspire a lot of intimate pillow talk.

Yes, a dose of humor is good for the heart.

* * *

Humor Post is located at the lower ground floor, SM Mega A with telephone number 634-2142.

Blue Magic: It’s Magic!

This is certainly one place where you won’t be blue. Blue Magic is an enchanted place for kids and kids-at-heart. For Valentine, there’s a Valentine corner filled with a lot of cuddly, pretty fun stuff. And a lot more lovely items designed not just for Valentine’s Day and not just for lovers.

“Love should be 365 days a year,” says Junjun Limgenco of Blue Magic. “And Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be just for lovers. It’s also a time to show gratitude to our parents, lolos and lolas.”

You’ll love Blue Magic’s Enchanted Garden collection that consists of handcarved religious icons made of scented wax.

And the magic of love lives on.

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Blue Magic is located at the third level, SM Mega B with telephone number 633-5551.

The beauty of love

The prophet Kahlil Gibran said, “Beauty is not in the face. Beauty is a light in the heart.”

This Valentine’s Day, let the light in your loved ones’ hearts shine through via gifts for the body and soul at SM Megamall.

The Body Shop: Good For Your Body And Soul

Catch a whiff of the Moroccan rose at The Body Shop with its ongoing Rose du Maroc promo. Discover marvelous Morocco with Rose du Maroc’s line of products that includes eau de toilette, milk lotion, body butter, shower gel, and room fragrance.

Get a 40-percent discount on your next purchase if you buy a Rose du Maroc EDT. A purchase worth P5,000 comes with a free canvas clutch and canvas tote.

Get the look of love with the Roseflower makeup collection with its romantic night look and fresh day look.

Where to spray your Moroccan Rose? But of course, everywhere you want to be kissed.

* * *

The Body Shop is located at the upper ground floor, SM Mega B with telephone number 914-0431.

The Face Shop: About Face And More

Want to get the face that could launch a thousand ships? Go to The Face Shop which has come out with its Valentine beauty trends: alluring pastel shades in gleaming textures to create a romantic and refined look.

The key trend for the season focuses on delicate eyes in shades of pink and purple, luscious lips, and sheer pink to blush rose cheeks.

And the smacking good news is that for a P500 purchase of items in the makeup trends, you get a 20-percent discount on selected face makeup. And you get a pretty cosmetic pouch for free with every purchase of regular items worth P2,000. Promo runs until Feb. 28.

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The Face Shop is located at the second level, SM Mega B with telephone number 637-9650.

The Soap Factory: A Suds Story

We were almost tempted to bite into a cupcake until we saw the label: Do not eat. We almost forgot we were inside The Soap Factory, that’s got soaps shaped into the most delicious cupcakes, popsicles, cakes, donuts, munchkins, macaroons, and other goodies.

“Our soaps are all-natural,” says The Soap Factory manager Tina Espejo. “They’re made of vegetable oil and fruit extracts like orange, grapeseed, apple, moringa, and tomato.”

The Soap Factory makes all-occasion soaps. It also carries different body products made of tomato, pumpkin, cucumber, guava, and moringa, among others.

Kids can have fun inside The Soap Factory and make their own cupcakes and donuts to bring home.

You can’t but feel bubbly all over after visiting The Soap Factory.

* * *

The Soap Factory is located at the fourth level, SM Mega Atrium with telephone number 706-5122.
View previous articles from this author.

By Ching M. Alano
Updated February 09, 2009 12:00 AM

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at SM Megamall

Posted in Celebrations, Hotels/Restaurants/Bars, Malls by Erineus on February 15, 2009
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Pistaccioccolato (chocolate pistachio cake), P595 for a whole cake and P65 for a slice

Discover new ways to celebrate love at the Mega Atrium

A pretty bouquet. A sampling of fine chocolates. Dinner for two. Celebrating Valentine’s has never been more delicious. SM Megamall’s mix of restaurants, shops and flower houses has everything to make your loved one feel special on the 14th.

Making merry with your single friends? Not to worry. You can drown your woes with a pitcher of margarita at Tia Maria’s with a couple of your equally single friends or celebrate the glories of singlehood with a few orders of kebab at the Kebab Factory with a healthy helping of garlic sauce. Because nothing says single and proud like some serious garlic breath! So share the day with your spouse or your single yet-just-as-significant others (I mean girlfriends). Valentine’s means sharing the love — even if it means handing over that choco chip cookie to your unbearably talkative co-worker.

Amici: It’s amore

You know it’s love when you follow the object of your gastronomic affection wherever it goes. Thank god Amici has opened a branch right smack in the center of the metro, as you can now enjoy their authentic Italian cuisine any day you want, from their thin crust pizzas to scrumptious pastas, to their to-die-for cakes and gelato. And for BPI credit cardholders, Amici has an additional treat for you: For every P1,000 single-receipt payment you make when you dine, you can enjoy two free scoops of gelato on your second visit, a free pasta dish on your third, and a free pizza on your fourth. Now, ain’t that kind of love grand?

Amici is at the 3/F SM Megamall Atrium. Call 818-4444.

Chef’s Quarter: Love in the fine dining lane

Larry Cortez, Chef’s Quarter’s general manager who’s worked at Le Souffle and other upscale establishments, believes that in five years the working class will demand better food, not your regular fast food fare. With his partner, chef Mau Aruona, they created this “fine dining restaurant with fast food prices.” “Our motto,” says Aruona, “is the only thing expensive here is your taste.” They’ve held true to that mission statement serving steak at P260 and fish and chips at P195, served in a style true to their upscale restaurant background but in an accessible setting.

For Valentine’s they’ve put together a set menu for couples that include steak and prawns and a mouthwatering chocolate almond marquesse. This is what true love tastes like — on a budget.

Call Chef’s Quarter, located at 3/F of SM Megamall Atrium, at 706-5336.

Painted Red: Color it red this day of hearts

Brought to you by the same folks who created the successful Red Kimono franchise (Painted Red is, in fact, linked to Red Kimono, sharing the same space with a divider separating the two establishments), Painted Red serves modern American cuisine with Chinese, South American and Italian influences. Bestsellers include the Philly cheese steak pizza and a build-your-own burger that allows you to choose from a large selection of ingredients.

Call Painted Red, located at the 2/F of SM Megamall Atrium, at 0922-8992753.

Sizzling Pepper Steak: A sizzling affair

From the company that brought you Teriyaki Boy comes this Japanese take on the traditional steak house. An industrial exhaust hood whirs above your head as you are served numerous incarnations of sizzling beef/chicken/seafood. Dubbed DIY food, this sizzling concept combines Pinoy’s love of all things salty (savory dishes) with all things sweet (drizzle your dish with a honeyed teriyaki sauce). If your love life’s on the flat side, maybe a date over a sizzling plate might add some spice.

Call Sizzling Pepper Steak, located at the 4/F of SM Megamall Atrium, at 633-1569.

Bigby’s Cafe: Big on portions and flavors

Owner Henrik Yu classifies this warm, cozy restaurant’s cuisine as international comfort food. “We’ve got steaks, baby back ribs, and a large selection of pastas and salads,” he says. “We even have a deep sea pasta,” he says, which is a “Filipinized” dish of pasta with garlic shrimp and crabfat sauce served on a sizzling plate. “Bigby’s puts their own spin on a lot of favorite comfort foods,” he explains. For Valentine’s, they’re offering hearty midnight dream cake (P289) and kiss me cupcakes (P249). Sweet tooth, thy name is Bigby.

Call Bigby’s, located at the 3/F of SM Megamall Atrium, at 499-9035.

Gotti’s: They’ve got connections

Named after the notorious mob boss, Gotti’s knows how to work the Italian angle. A caricature of John Gotti grasping a wooden spoon, like a charcoal etching of Marlon Brando circa Godfather, decorates the cover of their menu. Eileen Gonzalez, who worked at a hole-in-the-wall Italian eatery in NY “that got great Zagat reviews” for a few years, knows that every diner needs a little kick, a touch of humor.

This brick-lined, dimly-lit, family-friendly joint offers consumers with a hankering for authentic Italian fare at an affordable price a satisfying experience. “Our food is rustic and hearty,” says Gonzalez. “We really take it seriously. Educating customers on the right selections and flavorful offerings is what we do.” Expect to fork out about P250 per person, unless you make it to their merienda promo, available between 2 to 6 p.m., which offers combo meals at P95 to P130.

Call Gotti’s, located at the 4/F of SM Megamall Atrium, at 634-0348.

Kebab Factory: From India, with love

A good way to introduce yourself to Indian food, says Kebab Factory owner Natasha Karamchandani, is to start with their spinach dip (P200), a creamy spinach and feta dip served with pita bread that’s like the most luscious dip you’ve ever had. Kebab Factory, which offers Mediterranean and Persian with a touch of Indian cuisine, had vegetarian-friendly dishes and numerous authentic and non-traditional takes on Indian cuisine like their cheese samosas (P200), a tasty spin on cheese sticks. A tandoor oven, a round enclosed oven with coals, lends the food a certain authenticity. “Some of the recipes we’ve used here we inherited from our grandmother,” Karamchandani says. Dine on tender stuffed chicken kebab (P300) and lamb chop tandoori (their own version of chicken tandoori sans the chicken). “People are more willing to try new food,” says Karamchandani. “This is a good way to start.”

Call Kebab Factory, located at the 2/F of SM Megamall Atrium, at 631-9648.

Eat and Go: There’s always time for a quickie

In a hurry? Sneaking off in the middle of the day for a quick nibble? Then Eat and Go is the perfect dining nook for a tasty quickie (quick meal, we mean!). Enjoy their London pies, with their puffed philo pastry and tasty filling: healthy primavera, juicy steak, salmon and spinach, and a lot more. Don’t be deceived by the medium-sized portion, as it’s a meal on its own already. Eat and Go is not just for the eat-and-run types, though. Have a leisurely meal with their bestselling menu picks like roasted chicken, sesame back ribs, and baked buccatini in prawn cream sauce, with the option of adding pasta, baked beans, or diced corn and carrots as side dishes.

Eat and Go is at 3/F SM Megamall Atrium. Call 635-9559.

Curry Curry House: Spice it up

Big. Hot. Yummy. This is not an advertisement for an adult services hotline, but rather the kind of Japanese cuisine you can find at Curry Curry House. Highlighting the subtly invigorating kick of the savory Japanese curry, Curry Curry House dishes are plentiful and filling, paired with bottomless iced tea and bottomless rice to enjoy the curry sauce all the more. Their ramen dishes are also must-tries, with their spicy Japanese noodles. Whatever your pick, dining at the Curry Curry House is sure to set your palates on fire. Choose between the regular and the spicy curry — and watch sparks fly.

Curry Curry House is at the 3/F SM Megamall Atrium. Call 631-8470.

By Bea Ledesma
Updated February 09, 2009 12:00 AM