Pinakbet ni Aiya (Pinakbet/Pakbet Ilocano Style)

1/4 kilo pork (menudo cut)
1/4 kilo eggplant
1/4 kilo ladyfingers / okra
1/4 kilo bitter melon / ampalaya
5 small tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium-sized onion
50 grams anchovies sauce / bagoong na isda
water (around 200 grams)

1 big sweet potato (although for me it’s a must since its sweetness balanxesthe saltineaa of the dish)
Seasoning like Vetsin or Magic Sarap
Alocon (they had it in the grocery store today so might as well add it)

Other optional vegetables you can add:
Malunggay fruit
Sigarilyas (Pallang in Ilocano)

Prepare the vegetables:
1. Mince garlic and slice onions
2. Peel sweet potato and dice it. Make sure that it’s twice as big as the pork cuts.
3. Cut the ends of the bitter melon / ampalaya and cut it in half or fours depending on the size. Remove the white part if you don’t want it to be too bitter. You may also rub it with table salt and then wash it again to get rid of some of its bitter taste. Personally, I just remove the white part if the seeds are too big.
4. Cut the ends of the ladyfingers / okra and cut it in half diagonally.
5. Cut the eggplants in half and make quarter slices in it.

Cooking Instructions:
1. On a medium heat, put the pork in a pan and put a little water on it. Put a little oil when the water has evaporated.Cook the pork until it becomes brown. Set it aside (either literally put it at one side of your pan or take it out of the pan. I prefer the former).
2. On the same pan, put in the minced garlic. Cook it a little until its slightly brown then put in the onions. Cook it until it’s translucent.
3. Add in the tomatoes. Sauté the mixture. (Add in the pork if you took it out.)
4. Add the anchovies sauce and water. Add in the sweet potato. Cover it and wait for it to boil.
5. When it’s boiling put in the bitter melon, lady fingers, and eggplant. When arranging the vegetables make sure that the harder to cook are at the bottom. Cover and let it boil.
6. Add the seasoning and other easily
cooked vegetables like alocon or patani. Add water if needed but make sure not to put too much in. The Ilocano Pinakbet has very little sauce. Cover and let it boil for a few more minutes. Make sure to not overcook your veggies!


Do NOT bank with BDO! They find ways… to CHARGE you MORE!

BDO is growing rapidly. They started growing when they purchase of Equitable PCI. They seem to be quite promising as they are open during weekends and even at night for those branches inside the SM Malls. But I’ve never had a good experience with them every time I transact with them.

Before my trip to Singapore in 2011, I visited a BDO branch in SM San Lazaro to get my peso changed to US dollars because I didn’t want to just go to a money changer for fear of the modus operandi of the small money changers. I was so surprised to find out that they will only allow change your money if you have an account with BDO.

Years after, I only opened an account in June 2012, I open an passbook ATM account within them where a friend  can remit money to because he was going to assist me with my condo closing fees. At the same time, I also opened another ATM account to house the cash fund from contributions of batchmates which we will use to pay for paperwork for our case against FEU. I withrew from the ATM 2 or 3 weeks after I opened it. I believe it fell before the month end. Probably it was on June 27-28. I went to BDO to put back the money I withdrew. I was so surprised to find out that BDO already closed that ATM account because I fell below the maintaining balance. It was just 2-3 weeks old!

I just found out recently that if you encash a personal check in BDO and the account of the issuer is a a different branch, you’d have to pay PhP 100. This is ridiculous!

I recently received a BDO Manager’s Check from our lawyer as part of our winnings in the case against FEU. Our lawyer commented that it’s supposed to be good as cash and he said that he already paid the fees for it. That’s probably why I wasn’t asked to pay for PhP 100. Nevertheless, BDO still gave me a hard time encashing the check. It took them more than an hour to verify if the account has funds. Their excuse was because Nueva Ecija branch just opened and they’re not yet ready. What kind of service is that?

I applied for a loan for my  condo. The other banks gave me the rate 7.5% fixed for 5 years and BDO gave me 6.88% fixed for 5 years. Naturally, I went with BDO. However, their bank charge is exorbitant! They charge 85k for a 2.1M loan while EastWest Bank only charges 54K,

I signed the loan contract last August 2013 and paid the bank charge of 85k. And on October 11, 2013 , Friday, at 2PM, BDO called me and said the promo rate that was given to me was only valid until September 30, 2013 and that right now the rate fixed for 5 years is 8%! THEY TELL ME THIS 4 DAYS before or ONE BUSINESS DAY before my loan is due (since October 15, 2013 falls on a holiday). If I go to another bank, they will not be able to process my request right away and my developer will have to bill me 64K worth of penalties!

It was such a horrible experience and a nightmare banking with BDO. I closed my peso savings account because of this. BDO eventually retained the agreed upon rate. But if I wasn’t pinned to the wall, I wouldn’t have gone with them. I was even contemplating to pay the penalty of 64K just to spite them. If only I could afford to pay the penalty fees, I would have gone to EastWest who was offering at that time 6.75% fixed for 5 years.

I’ve only had horrific experience with BDO. DO NOT BANK WITH THEM. They’re TOO GREEDY!

Three’s Not a Crowd

My 2013 was about trying out something new. And it was really fun to find two people who were willing to go on an adventure with me. It’s five cafés and restaurant in seven and a half hours. And each just shelled out PhP 600-750 each.


1st Stop: Cafe Quezon. We arrived early so it was the only open one at 9:15 am, that we could find with our eyes while checking out places as our cab driver drove along Maginhawa St. to V. Luna and back. They usually open at 9:30 am but they let us in early. It was a quaint café. I like the fact that they have different types of cheesecake which I have yet to learn to create.


I wasn’t wowed by the cakes. The mango cheesecake was too sweet. I didn’t think the chocolate went well with it. Jhanine said it wasn’t made from fresh mangoes because it was lacking that sour taste. She said that it might have been made of marmalade or puree. It tasted like dried mangoes which was a bit disappointing.


The Decadent was more promising. It’s not too sweet which I like because most chocolate cakes are too sweet for my taste. But the cake itself was a little course for me. I like fluffy but smooth cakes. And Jhanine said there’s too much shortening in it that’s why you have a lard aftertaste.


2nd Stop. Gayuma ni Maria. We saw it while in our cab tour along Maginhawa. Jhanine said she has always wanted to go this restaurant because the menu was different.This place definitely put a smile on my face. It’s as weird and eccentric as I am.The walls were adorned with potions. I took pictures of some and might try to make it at home to hone my witch skills.

Sig joined us at this point. He said he read the place is “enchanted.” He liked the place too. and he couldn’t take his eyes of the naughty nook.

I needed to go to bathroom and so I discovered the 2nd floor with its mannequins and a rack of raincoats. It’s topsy-turvy but in a good way.  The walls has hand painted hearts on a black background. Even the bathroom has character with it’s plants and stones.


Jhanine said she’s not a salad person but she enjoyed “Tuliro.” It’s a nacho salad concotion with lettuce, grapes, peach, chicken and bacon. The menu was as crazy and experimental as its name. I wouldn’t dare mix nachos with fruit and green salad. But it worked in “Tuliro.” Sig joined us at this point. He liked the place too. and he couldn’t take his eyes of the naughty nook.

I’ll definitely bring my quirky friends to this place one time.


3rd Stop. Katsu Cafe. They have branches in other areas within Quezon City. There’s even one in Banawe. Jhanine said it’s a cheaper version of Yabu. The place just opened. It does share the quirks of UP Village restaurant with its bulb enclosed in steel chandeliers.


As for the food, I loved the Prawn Tempura. It’s my favorite Japanese dish. And I also liked the Chicken Katsudon. But for the most part, everything was delish! We only paid PhP 925 for everything we ordered which were: three pieces prawn tempura set with unlimited rice, an ala carte three pieces prawn tempura, chicken katsudon, pork katsu with unlimited rice.

I wanted to go here because I wanted someone to be envious for not coming #HH Hahahahaha). I’ll bring him here or to the Banawe branch soon.


4th Stop. The Burger Project. I have seen the place on TV a few times and have heard of friends raving about it so when I saw that it’s along Maginhawa (during that cab drive by), I wanted to check it out. And now I know why!


It’s a bit pricey for those on a budget but I’ll tell you it’s  worth it. Our bill was PhP 380 and that’s already burger and fries. It’s still cheaper than other gourmet burger places I tried. We had one patty of the Angus beef in a sesame seed bun with bacon, mushroom, lettuce, gooey mozzarella, garlic sauce. I dub it “Three’s a Crowd” burger. We also ordered the chilli cheese fries and it went well with our burger. Visit it whenever you’re in the area.


5th Stop. Cool Beans. I was ready to call it a day when the place that Sig recommended was booked for an event. However, Jhanine was in the mood for coffee. And oh boy, I would’ve missed this last stop if I insisted to go home. It didn’t regret it that I let myself be bribed with a coffee and books since I love these two things.


I skimmed through the collection and they are not just for display. They have a great selection of books available for people to read.


Right now, for every PhP 80 drink,  you’ll get a banana cake slice for free. Here is my hot coffee latte which was only PhP 90 pesos. What can I say, I found another happy place. I’ll visit it again within the next few weeks.