07 August 2013

Why you should get a Starbucks Card

I finally got my Starbucks Card! And as an avid fan of TV shows like Extreme Couponing, I am thrilled that Starbucks is allowing their patrons to earn points, freebies, and rewards from purchases.

Here's what you need to know: The Starbucks Rewards card is free. The minimum load is Php 300 and is consumable. The card does not cost anything at all. In fact, when you register your card online (and you should), you automatically get a FREE Grande handcrafted beverage plus a free slice of cake every year during your birthday!

So save-a-holics and freebie-holics, step one is to get the card and register it at

Starbucks Rewards Card launched in the Philippines

The card was just launched today and as an additional promo, when you load Php 1,500 you get Php 300 instantly. This promo is only valid  until Friday, so load up when you can and earn Php 300.

How to earn points:

1 beverage star for every purchase of any handcrafted beverage
1 whole bean star for every purchase of 250g of whole bean coffee
1 VIA star for every purchase of 12 pack Starbucks VIA Ready Brew

How to redeem rewards:

12 beverage stars = any Grande handcrafted beverage
10 whole bean stars = any 250g whole bean coffee
10 VIA stars = any 12 pack Starbucks VIA  Ready Brew

Don't forget that holiday season is coming up fast and having a Starbucks Card is the best way to get the most out of your visits, plus while collecting stamps for your Starbuck organizer! Makes perfect sense?

When you get your Starbucks Card, I suggest putting it in your wallet right away and bring it everywhere you go. You can't tell when you are visiting 1 of over 210 Starbucks Stores.

Starbucks Rewards Card launched in the Philippines

If you're a mom like me, you're probably guilty of escaping home and going to the nearby Starbucks to read your favorite magazines. Now you can turn your guilt into pleasurable rewards, ha! :D

Remember, your Starbucks Card is as good as cash. But with the online account, you are secured for when you leave your card somewhere or if somebody else takes it. All you have to do is to deactivate the card. You can load up to Php 10,000 and have as many cards as you want - they will all be synced into 1 account.

For more information and to rave about your Starbucks Card, visit

30 July 2013

Ultimate Food show: WOFEX Marketplace at SMX July 31 - August 3

The World Food Expo (WOFEX) is finally happening this week! It's a humongous expo that happens every year, and it only gets bigger this 2013.

Here is what you need to know: The event is happening in two venues. The World Trade Center and SMX Convention Center.Where to go? If you are looking for ingredients to buy, then head to the WOFEX Marketplace at SMX. This is what I intend to do.

However, if you are a serious trader i.e. kitchen equipment then head to the WOFEX trade at WTC.

World Food Expo 2013

Unlike its trade counterpart, the WOFEX Marketplace is open to the public from July 31- August 3. Ticket price is Php 150. This is a serious venue to explore food trends, source ingredients for personal or small business use, and learn from the free on-stage cooking demos.

Important reminder: You cannot bring children to the venue. The crowd is thick and is not condusive for children's comfort. As much as possible, attendees are requested to leave as soon as they are finished with shopping to make room for other visitors. Yes, this is how packed WOFEX can be!

However, it's still a must-visit especially for people like me who are the designated "marketer" and "chef" at home. Apart from food shopping, I am keeping my eyes peeled for new recipes and business ideas. The organizers and partners are very generous in teaching. In fact, here's the line up of free stage shows for the WOFEX Marketplace attendees:

DAY 1 July 31, 2013 (Wednesday)

12nn-1pm No Compromise Cooking with Borges

1pm – 2pm Savor The Long Life Happiness

2pm – 3pm Yummy Dishes Made Easy!

3pm – 4pm Food Creativity by World Class Concepts

4pm – 5pm Gourmet-to-Go, A ScanAsia Cooking Demo

5pm – 6pm Difficult is Easy: Hassle-free Food Preppin’ with Breville

DAY 2 August 1, 2013 (Thursday)

12nn – 1pm Taste the Difference with Divella

1pm - 2pm Menu: The Magic of Cooking featuring Chef Ric Loteria

2pm – 3pm Everyday Food Made Better With Eden

3pm – 4pm Classic Touch by Chef Heny Sison

4pm – 6pm HRCAP-CATFABS Chefs Culinary Showdown

Day 3, August 2, 2013 (Friday)

10am-11am Sarap Super Q

11am – 12nn Cooking with Marca Chef

12nn – 1pm Yummy Dishes Made Easy!

1pm – 2pm Idol sa Kusina

2pm – 3pm Barista Choi Coffee Demo

3pm – 4pm Good Food Deserves Lurpak

5pm – 6pm Chute & Squeeze: Healthy Juicing Made Easier with Breville

Day 4, August 3, 2013 (Saturday)

11am – 12nn Everyday Creations by Chef Nino Logarta

12nn – 1pm Crumbled Goodness that Crisp to the Taste

1pm – 2pm Paella Arroz Caldo Toppings

2pm – 3pm Menu: The Magic of Cooking featuring Chef Ric Loteria

3pm – 4pm McCormick Foodservice Brings Passion to Flavor

4pm – 6pm Quick and Easy Cooking with Oster and KitchenAid

This is a lot of free knowledge not just for small business owners but for homemakers as well. Make sure you come prepared, and make sure you attend this year's ultimate food show! :)

Visit their Facebook page at

14 July 2013

There's Taho in my Starbucks!

My latest Starbucks journey was at Wan Chai in Hong Kong, but nothing really beats home. I feel like our local Starbucks knows me (and you) like the back of their hands. The beverages, food, service, and overall coffee experience is a clear reflection of what we locals want. And what do you know, they've even added taho in their frapuccino!

Starting tomorrow, 16 July - you'll experience this new and innovative twist on your favorite Starbucks drinks. Ask your barista for a tall Dark Mocha White Chocolate Pudding Frappuccino or, if you are a green tea lover like I am - ask for a Green Tea White Chocolate Pudding Frappuccino.

I had the pleasure of trying out these beverages before launch. They had the combined texture of chocolate chips, silky white pudding, and offered a very good mouth feel. Statistics are split, 50-50 between the two flavors.

I lean towards the Green Tea pudding frappe for it's Asian and healthy flavors. Most of all, it's cheaper by Php 10 compared to the Dark Mocha variant ;)

I wonder what Manong Taho would say! But I am guessing he'll give it a thumbs up. Our local vendor already invented chocolate taho that he sells in the afternoon. It's a fact, people can't get enough of it and how lucky are we that ther's a Starbucks version of our local favorite!

P.S. Starbucks doesn't call the secret ingredient taho, but  pudding which is more understandable for most people. 

By the way, don't be fooled at how the pudding appears as only 1/3 of your beverage. Once you slurp, everything mixes up in a perfect harmony, including the foamy whipped cream. For the benefit of serious pudding lovers, I hope our friendly braistas can soon allow us to customize the amount of pudding in our drinks : D

27 May 2013

Remington Hotel – Affordable Enjoyment at Resorts World Manila

Resorts World is one of those places that leave you wishing you could’ve stayed longer. The place is always a good place to play, dine, and relax – with new stores, attractions and events, it’s almost impossible to fit them all in one day (and still look chic and fresh).

One of the things I’ve learned over all of my hotel stays is that to make the most of somewhere, you have to sleep there! You bet, otherwise the travel time and fun is capped by the urging idea of traffic, getting home, etc.


If you think this will cost an arm and leg, there are hotels like Remington who is targeted to the smart, budget-savvy traveler (and party-goer). Here is a genuine review and experience of my stay and how Remington allowed me to enjoy Resorts World to the fullest. I hope this also serves as your itinerary for your next visit.

Remington Hotel is just across Resorts World Manila, it has a McDonald’s chain on the ground floor as well as a convenient 7eleven. Both are plus points for budget conscious travelers like me, and then the eternally hungry folks looking for a quick grub 24/7.

Dining at Resorts World Manila

Before checking-in, we dined at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants – Mr. Kurosawa. I went with my husband and this was the most relaxed dining experience ever. It was a good start to our Resorts World adventure and that is already one item out of our to-do/to-eat list. Don't forget to use your Resorts World Membership card to get a 10% discount on your bill.

After our early lunch, we walked to Remington Hotel. There were plenty of couches in the check-in area which is good if there is a queue. During our stay, all check-in desks were attended by staff and check-in was fast and simple.

We were given a twin bedroom in the 10th floor with a winning view of the NAIA3 airport. I’ve never stayed put so near airplanes before and I hoped this would cure my fear of flying. With this view, you’d think a room like this is super expensive.

Standard Room costs Php 4,200+

Back to the room, the furniture and amenities are pretty straightforward. I appreciate the minimalist approach and how it is compensated by unique floor amenities like a vending machine. What you’ll find inside the room: your twin beds, an expansive counter beside the window where you can work, a wall mounted LCD TV, a small bathroom complete with towels, toiletries, and complimentary bottled water. There’s also a spacious place for your luggage if you’re not traveling light.



There is no electric kettle and refrigerator, but with what we are up to at Resorts World – this is barely our concern and are happy to give these amenities a pass.

I pegged the room as a place to rest in between activities, to freshen up and dress up. Perfect if you have an all-nighter date or gimmick with friends. In our case, we were reliving our single days before our son Ashton :)

So after a brief siesta and watching a movie called The Maiden Heist, we decided to move on our next agenda – TWG Tea Parlor.

Afternoon Tea at TWG, Resorts World


TWG in Resorts World is not as packed as it’s brother in Greenbelt 5. Again, stress-free. How many times can we just walk to TWG from our bed right? Nothing really compares! For the first time, I was able to enjoy a Chic Tea Set in peace and my husband, a to die for Wagyu Burger Meal.

In true Resorts World fashion, we met up with some friends to attend an event that was also happening in Remington Hotel. Nothing really compares when you can drink all the Cabernet Sauvignon you want, I was in wine heaven. Too bad I was too full from TWG to enjoy the food.


Remington Hotel has its own bar called R Bar which is my type of place as it is well stocked with drinks, there’s some sports playing on TV screens, and very comfortable sofas that you can enjoy alone or with your friends. The lighting is always generous but soft. I don’t really like dark drinking places! I actually spent some alone time here after all the walking and talking. Heaven.


All of the time, I enjoyed the feeling of timelessness and Resorts World is a place that just never sleeps! On normal days, I would watch my favorite soap then sleep. But this was no ordinary day, this is a day that nothing compares with! But… I didn’t miss my soap. After the cocktails, I went up to my room to freshen up, help my stomach digest by drinking my wheat grass (really, after all the tea and wine I consumed), put my feet up and watched my soap opera.

Bar 360 at Resorts World Manila

Next thing I knew I was getting ready to go to Bar 360 at the Resorts World casino! If you do this normally and in succession, and if you are in the quarter of your life like me – you would be exhausted. But not with Remington Hotel.

Bar 360 is something I just discovered during my stay with friends. I always pass it by but never knew how fun it is to hang out here and watch the live performances. We enjoyed lots of good food like the Adobo pizza, tuna kinilaw, cheese sticks, and lots of other grub in the menu.


I am surprised at how affordable yet enjoyable the food at Bar 360 is. The mojito is also very good and you can easily order more than 2 glasses.

You’d think the night is over but the cinema was beckoning us to watch Iron Man 3. Diners like Stackers, Pepper Lunch, etc. were all still open. It’s just so fun here in a place that never sleeps! If you have difficulty winding down, head to the Spa at Resorts World like we did:

Our room looked even more attractive when we came back, with the city lights visible and the bed looking so clean and comfortable to sleep in. I slept like a princess who has fulfilled all her duties :)

Breakfast Buffet at Remington Hotel


The morning after, we treated ourselves to a buffet breakfast at the ground floor. R Bar looks so different during the day but the food remains delicious. The choices were reasonable with meat, fish, and pork. I especially enjoyed a Filipino breakfast of Tapa, Fried Rice, and Eggs.

Unlike major hotels, Remington wasn’t as crowded and I even enjoyed making new friends over breakfast. The place is very conducive to have conversations while digesting hearty food.


The service of Remington Hotel is worth more than you pay for. Everything was fast, it was very easy to make requests, and staff are all personable. One thing I would suggest is to revise their uniform hehe, but this is a very minor detail.


If you want some more amenities in your room, you can go for their newly launched premium rooms which has a min bar, a refrigerator, a small dining area, and a microwave upon request.

Overall, I really really enjoyed the Remington Hotel. It’s hard not to equate the hotel with all the activities and fun that can be had at Resorts World. They are all part of the luxury here and Remington Hotel makes it possible for more people to enjoy it.

04 May 2013

Ocean's Harvest Seafood Buffet at The Marriott Cafe

You don't have to be a scuba diver to appreciate underwater creatures, at M Cafe all you need to have is a hearty appetite!


Reminiscent of dampa style dining where you can pick seafood and see it cooked, M Cafe offers the same experience but with fresher and wider selection of seafood that will put your favorite dampa diner to shame. Really.

Sweet chili crabs

The best thing is, it's a seafood buffet! Pick and enjoy all the seafood your heart desires. Be warned that it is challenging to select from a wide array of fish, shrimps, mussels, clams, scallops, and lobster. Lobster? Yes!

Baked scallops are the first order of the day

This is from my experience dining at M Cafe on a weekday. Weekday buffets tend to be drab and not as exciting as weekend offerings, but that's not the case here. Aside from seafood, the seafood buffet is inclusive of M Cafe favorites like the Teppanyaki station, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and International selections.

Photo 6 Sushi chefs ready to transform diner’s choice into fancy sushi or sashimi rolls

5 ways to make the most out of The Marriott Seafood Buffet

1. Make a reservation - it always pays to phone M Cafe and let their hospitable staff know your arrival time and number of companions. It's a must-practice if you want to feel "expected" and avoid the hassle of waiting for a table.

Nilasing na hipon, you can eat the shell too!

2. Grab friendly company - bring your friends, family, workmates, etc. This dampa style buffet is best enjoyed with a group. You might run out of ideas on the best way to cook your fish or lobster, your friends can suggest recipes like "nilasing na hipon" or "sinigang". All of which the chefs at M Cafe can concoct for your enjoyment.

I am not good at cooking seafood so I let my companions do the ordering. All you have to do is select the seafood, go to the designated stations and asked for it to be cooked your way. You will be given a number you can hang on your table. The food will automatically come to you - no hassle, no problems. Just eat! :)


3. Ask the chefs - M Cafe chefs are all helpful and can suggest their best recipes to treat your seafood with. I love how the cooked the lobsters in special sauce. They even shell it out for you.

Photo 5 Marriott Manila’s kitchen brigade manning the wok-fry station of the buffet

4. Save space for more - you can cross to other stations and treat yourself to Japanese or Chinese food in between fishes and lobsters. It's good to keep your palette interested during this time. I recommend having rice cooked in the Teppanyaki station for a different and more flavorful twist to go with your meal.


5. Dessert, save the best for last - I love M Cafe because they simply do not scrimp when it comes to dessert. M Cafe favorites are gelato, cheesecakes, and fresh fruits that cleans your palette after a heavy meal. I love it!


All that's left for me to wish is a glass of wine to go with the seafood. I settled for sparkling water, San Pellegrino which costs just Php 300+ for one bottle that you can share.

Or you can also order the Drink of the Month and get Mr. Lobster for free! He is so cute :)

The Seafood Buffet at M Cafe is a one of a kind experience for me. It has every bit I love in dampa restaurants minus all the stuff I hate about it - the crowd, bugs, smell, and noise. M Cafe is my go-to place for a relaxed satisfying meal that comes with exemplary service.

The Ocean's Harvest buffet costs Php 2,300 and happens every Friday and Saturday nights only. Visit Marriott Hotel on Facebook for more updates.

Catch you there :)

21 April 2013

Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay - Luxury Weekend Getaway

The journey towards every weekend is 5 days long, and 2 days always leave us wanting more! At Crosswinds Resort Suites in Tagaytay, you enter a time warp where you can take it slow and make the most out of a short hiatus from your busy life.


Finding your way to the hotel suites is already an experience. We happily got lost in streets and gentle slopes that were generously lined by pine trees. I don't mean mediocre amount but really, hundreds of hundreds of pine trees - that instantly lighten your mood and transport you to an exclusive weekend getaway.

Peaceful and quiet. I've never seen Tagaytay like this, not after so many years before buildings and diners lined the highway. 


Crosswinds Hotel Suites is rested high up on the hills. The hotel manages 25 rooms in Quadrilles 2 where an exclusively owned unit would normally cost Php 4-6 million. It is important to note that this is not a regular hotel. Do not expect a grand buzzing lobby full of staff and other guests. The suites are actually owned by home owners and they are being managed and serviced by the International Hotels Group.

Thanks to IHG, you can experience executive class living in the highlands for a very small fraction of the cost!

Check-in experience at the Crosswinds Hotel Suites

I have a habit of trying to check-in early to get the most of our stay. We arrived early at 12nn, queried by the village guards and was let in easily. They expressed our check-in was at 2pm but we can already explore Crosswinds.

We tried to find the suites first and settle our luggages. You need to follow the white lines on the road that will lead you to the Quadrilles. The desk officer whom I read plenty about in Tripadvisor was okay. She initially asked us to return again at 2PM but I insisted if she can try to do anything about having our room ready for check-in. I had some perishables which needed refrigeration badly. After a few minutes, our room was ready. If you don't ask, you don't get ;)

2 Twin Bed Studio Unit at the Crosswinds Hotel Suites

A spacious hallway, reasonable bathroom, convenient kitchenette, expansive beds, working area, and a balcony! It was so much more than I expected and it instantly felt like home with all the space and room amenities.

The first order of the day was to enjoy a private view of Crosswinds from our balcony. The houses here are Swiss inspired, there are still a few which adds to the country-style vibe.


This was the winning feat for me and one of the biggest factor I want to return. The big refrigerator housed prepared and takeaway food, kept our water cold, and the freezer - we filled with Magnum from Finds during our stay. There's also a microwave which lets us enjoy hot food away from home and without the need to go out, or call for takeaway.


There is also a stove where you can cook your own food. No need to bring pots and pans. An electric kettle is also provided for tea and coffee (or instant noodles too).

The kitchenette made our stay convenient and pocket friendly. It pays to research the amenities before checking in. I was prepared with a reasonable amount of cooked food, grocery items like canned sausages, bread, sandwich spreads, and a big jug of drinking water.

Do not forget your dishwashing liquid and sponge to keep everything neat and tidy. The room already has at least 4 plates, 2 sets of spoon & fork, drinking glasses, mugs, and 2 teaspoons. All of this made me feel like I was at home away from home!

Things to do in Crosswinds

Unlike the reviews I read, there are plenty of things to do at Crosswinds.

1. Enjoy nature and burn calories as you walk around the village. My family and I enjoyed walking to Finds, the nearby convenience store to find more stuff to munch on. Did I also mention Magnum?

2. Drive to Santa's Store. This is near the Crosswinds village entrance and where you can breathe in the scent of pines and enjoy al fresco tea time.

A must try are their freshly baked, moist, and big fluffly muffins. We recommend the chocolate chip one!

A very nice touch they added was piped in music to set the relaxing and gentle mood to Crosswinds. In the morning, I could hear this sound from my balcony which was lovely.

3. Check out the helipad. You don't need a chopper to enjoy this! I played some outdoor games with my son here. We do not leave without a ball which entertains us easily and let us enjoy the surroundings. It is a flat field so you will enjoy rolling, jumping, and sight-seeing from down below. You need to be careful not to slide down from the edges though.

It is the best place to have a picnic too and where you can take photos against nature. You just don't get this amount of greenery anywhere else.

4. Enjoy the clubhouse. Yes there is a clubhouse which is like a mini resort for homeowners and guests. We met some families from Crosswinds enjoying some R&R as well. There is a playground for kids, but most of all two swimming pools for adults and toddlers.

I read about the pool not being heated, I haven't seen any heated pool in the Philippines anyway. Plus, who needs heating on a fine summer day? My son Ashton was very brave in the toddler pool and played ball with other kids in the water.

The clubhouse was surrounded by trees which is no surprise at Crosswinds. The gentle breeze made lounging in the clubhouse fantastic and the trees provided a comfortable shade for everyone.

Important: Don't forget to pack your proper swimming attire, sun block, goggles, and wet toys.

5. Stargazing in your own room. The sky is not polluted in this part of Tagaytay. Our balcony turned into a mini observatory during the night. We setup our cameras to try and get a good shot of the night sky. I've never seen this plenty of stars for a long time. I proudly showed this to my toddler who was very curious the entire time. Constellations can easily be seen by the naked eye and in the horizon, you can see a few city lights.

The Crosswinds experience is absolutely unique, one worth of your precious time and budget. I will miss how it led me closer to nature without having to ride a plane or go beyond my comfort zone. I only wish to expose ourselves more to this place and less of the busy city we are used to.

Important tip if you don't have a car

Makes sure to take advantage of the FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE. The desk officer may forget to mention it but Crosswinds Hotel Suites always offer this convenience to all their guests.

You can ask to be driven to and from parts of Crosswinds - the clubhouse, Santa's store, model homes, etc. Just be prepared with a schedule you can stick to. Note the driver's mobile number too.

I super recommend Crosswinds Hotel Suites for families like us, and I hope this review helps you get the most out of it. If I should suggest a minor thing for improvement, it is for the desk officer or welcome committee to be more friendly and informative of what the hotel and place offers.

See you at Crosswinds!