Tiong Bahru, Singapore


Tiong Bahru – a housing estate in Bukit Merah, developed in the 1920s. Still standing here are a couple of blocks of Art Deco, Streamline Moderne-style complexes that remind me of retro airport buildings. There is also a long row of hip cafes and bakeries here where you can enjoy everything from Thai to Western to French. But if you like something more local, simply cross the street and have your pick from numerous stalls at the sprawling Tiong Bahru Market (which supposedly has a couple of Michelin Bib Gourmand stalls under its roof). Continue reading “Tiong Bahru, Singapore”


Back in Singapore, October 2018

Casa Garcia ❤
I’ve been to the Lion City several times for work or transits, and while I’ve always enjoyed my visits and soaked up as much as I can, I’ve never really done the tourist circuit properly.  Continue reading “Back in Singapore, October 2018”

EAT AT: Singlish Cafe, Lilac St

CEREAL PRAWNS. That’s all I really wanna talk about right now lah.

It’s the reason why I coaxed two friends to go with me and try out the newly-opened Singlish Cafe in Lilac St, Marikina City (but hey, we all live around 3-7 minutes away so it didn’t take much effort).

Cereal Prawns
CEREAL PRAWNS. First tried at Lau Pa Sat.

I had my first taste of the proverbial manna at Lau Pa Sat. The juicy morsels offered to us were not just drizzled, but smothered with spoonfuls of that sweet, flaky, addicting cereal. With my can of beer, stick of skewered beef, and Singaporeans dining around us in red plastic chairs, it was a perfect moment of experiencing something so ordinary yet utterly new to me.

Here in Manila, you don’t find cereal prawns on the street. You find them inside mall restaurants serving overpriced hawker food. I’ve had different versions, and they’re actually all good. But in my nostalgic heart, Manila’s cereal prawns don’t live up to the first bowls I had in SG. And sometimes they’re shrimp!

Maybe it’s the good old tragedy of remembering the past through rose-tinted taste buds. Had it not been that precise moment and time, an exciting afternoon of walking and Harry Potter exhibits and possibilities, everything might have tasted less glorious.

Singlish Cafe
SEEMS LEGIT. Hawker style seating arrangements and a neutral, pleasing wood design.

But no matter: now I can nom on cereal prawns closer to home. It’s a small, charming, wood-covered square, with red chairs too! Decidedly quieter, less stuffy.

Singlish Cafe
CEREAL PRAWNS. Now I can have them everyday if I wanna.

And yes, the prawns, with my beloved cereal, were delicious. I wish they’d served bigger portions, but they got the buttery, juicy taste right. I piled every last grain into my fork.

Turns out that its owner, Ritchie, actually runs Ang Mo Kio, that popular SG hawker food place at the Podium (which I kind of group-dissed in my introductory paragraphs sorry!) It’s a sign of how well the Lilac food scene is doing that well-established food proprietors are setting up shop here. Singlish only opened last Dec 21 but in the two nights I’ve passed by, as well as tonight, it’s never been empty.

After being warmed up by strong Oolong tea (on the house, as much as you want), we dove into the other things in the menu.

Singlish Cafe
INDIAN CHICKEN CURRY. Flavorful but could use more spice.

This is the Indian chicken curry. It lacked a little something, but it’s decent. Wish it were spicier and more tender.

Singlish Cafe
HOKKIEN MEE. Oriental, warmed up by copious amounts of sambal.

This was the Hokkien Mee. A little like Pinoy-style pancit canton. We asked for more sambal to mix into it, and it became pretty interesting. Ranie will flip with all the sambal he can have here.

Singlish Cafe
BURGER. Fit for a hungry queen.

This is Ica’s burger. This is from the Western part of the Cafe’s menu (or the “lish” in Singlish, heh).

It was HUGE. It’s probably meant for sharing. Fun to eat, but not as satisfying as you’d expect, considering the high quality of burger masterpieces “foodies” in the city are now spoilt with. You should probably try this only after having all the other Singaporean dishes.

Anyhow, it was a pleasing experience overall. The menu is pretty extensive for a Marikina food spot, and it’s a novel experience when you wanna eat out, but still want laid-back convenience. For now, Ritchie is still there to take your orders, give you his recommendations, and probably share a  minute or two gushing about SG hawker fare. I’m looking forward to coming back.

60C Lilac Street, Hacienda Heights Marikina City 1800
Open 10Am-10PM
Visit Singlish Cafe on Facebook.

S’more S’pore

And it really is too hard. But it can be fun too.

In spite of my general poverty and impending busy-ness, I somehow got to go to Singapore again, last weekend. It’s actually for work, but not quite – it’s an open invite and a free ticket from a publisher whom I write for from time to time. I never get paid for my work – it’s a volunteer sort of magazine – so this was her way of somehow compensating for all the write-ups. And she did suggest that I work in SG  (maybe to make things easier for both of us) – but there is no clear compelling voice from up above telling me to do it. I have school, I love my work/s here. So I’m staying put – and writing for free when I can, and only when I should. #cryptic

It’s a free trip, and weekend with only a margin of possibility of seeing Ranie (after all he is only a train ride away) so why should I say no? My mind wasn’t made up about declining anything right before I left. Let me just say this was post-habagat so the house and the city was all in disarray… I did feel a bit guilty.

Oh, it was also my first time to fly in daylight. The post-storm clouds were so beautiful.

Photographic evidence of the work aspect of my trip. Interviewed some individuals for the magazine.

This trip will go down in my personal timeline as one of most spontaneous things I’ve ever done. I always like having some sort of outline and back-up (producer instincts hardwired no doubt), but for this trip, I only received my itinerary 24 hours before my flight and 2 hours before boarding I still didn’t know where I was actually staying. And only found out about the full purpose of my trip after a day. If I were a more YOLO person I’d probably have enjoyed it more! I’m grateful and humbled for the chance to meet some great and inspiring people, such as two moms who believe that taking care of themselves is as important as being a family woman (I can’t agree more), and a businesswoman who has a vision and who saw it through. Pretty heavy stuff.

But of course, I’m at that point in my life wherein the “awe” moments won’t cut it. I am, after all, trying to earn my living. So although I enjoyed this trip, I still can’t help comparing what I invested vs. what I was able to take home. I sound like a whiner, I know. Don’t get my wrong – I had a wonderful time! But  it made me more certain of some convictions and decisions. I believe all of what I’m doing right now is equally worthy and will take me somewhere. So I’m focusing on that.

But all that said – it was a pretty memorable and momentous weekend!

Photographic evidence of the “jalan-jalan” parts. We went to the National Museum, The Harry Potter Exhibition, the Andy Warhol exhibition, and all the Marina Bay must-go’s. Ranie and I also did food trips in Geylang. Cha also took us to the food street called Lau Pa Sat. I love how I got to sample both the local (food) and the high end (architecture) in my stay. I should mention here (for my future self) that I had an issue re: the HP exhibit. And somehow I got to see it for myself, with Ranie! God has an amazing sense of humor. I could almost hear Him say, “I told you so.”

Photographic evidence of my recent sartorial inclination to wear red… and dresses. Don’t you just love that painted wall? Obviously, I am just rehashing photos from my instagram. Willy prolly edit better versions for my “outfit blog.”

I believe I fell in love with Singapore. It is Utopic in its cleanliness and functionality. It is a place of history too. But somehow, it’s like being in love with a Hollywood celebrity… I can’t live with a beautiful facade. I prefer a multi-layered sort of wretchedness than an impassive stony flawlessness. I need something to pick at and to keep me occupied and feeling good about myself.

(I don’t really mean that, it just sounds good to write it out.)

There are certain things that gain their beauty only after they’ve been through a bit of tear… a bit of rust, a hint of imperfection. I can’t help but keep comparing my Manila with Singapore… in a lot of ways, the latter is definitely better. I hate myself for coming up with traitorous thoughts especially since harboring them necessitates a call to action, to do something about what I see around me – – and somehow, in the midst of deadlines and shoe sales and wondering how to make a cold night warmer, that kind of patriotic impulse dies down pretty easily. I guess it’s not just me who goes through that kind of problem. But I think… the more I see, the more I wanna stay here. And do something. Or help Ranie or someone else do something. Does that sound weird?

Of my weekend in the land of mountains

Read my blog posts about Malaysia (from my old site)

My first morning of do-nothingness since coming back from a Malaysia / Singapore weekend, and I spent it (as usual), updating my social projections (i.e. the blog and Facebook), and generally fluffing up and primping what curious / excited friends must (or must not) see online. It took up a good three hours I now realize. But oddly enough it leaves me with no feeling of accomplishment. I think I should be writing more instead of editing pictures. I tell that to myself every other day…

Inside one of the 24 museums in Melaka’s heritage complex. For all the xx’s of pang-blog shots we took, we had a dearth of couple photos and had to resort to jeje renditions like this one.

I’ll go all frank here: having been to three countries at 23 is a matter of personal pride and deep happiness for me. When I was 12, writing down diary entries not unlike this one (and even when I was 18, in college), I never really imagined that I’d have the gumption, the resources, or the opportunities to travel. But now I know that we are rich if we put our faith in God, and just believe for the things we want. And so, despite my being third-world and the unorthodox learning / working conditions I am in now, I get to travel, and be with Ranie for a bit. I am so thankful. Travelling makes you see your existence and your place in the world in new eyes… the experience makes you believe in more possibilities and makes you more open-minded. Or passionate. It makes you grow and learn. It makes you witness to a bigger scope of the wonder of God’s creations. It liberates you. I hope to be able to keep doing this with a regularity until we’re too old to hop on planes! I am hopeful and excited and determined to follow God’s plans for me. And to keep being brave in dreaming.

I don’t know how to summarize the weekend. We did visit a lot of famous Malaysian and Singaporean landmarks. I was able to do a lot of shopping for pasalubong and shoes (an upgrade from our Indo trip last year). I wish I were able to sample more street food, but my gastronomic experience was pretty OK too. I’m impressed with how Malaysia is truly a microcosm of Asia – Indians, Chinese, Malay, Pinoys, and many more riding trains, driving taxis, serving you teh puti (white milk tea), and being friendly. No race “stands out” and it makes me realize how little I know of other cultures and how much more I should explore and interact. I saw how progressive a city can be yet retain its traditional flavor and customs and still keep away from being “Western” – and I wish that things could be the same back here. I know it’s possible.

The experience was a whirlwind for me – we did away from doing “tours” and instead walked the streets, took the predominant and cheapest public transportation modes available, looked up maps and venues ourselves, talked to everyone in English or limited Malay, and shot our own pictures. So it’s been fun. On more than one occasion, we’d take a supposed wrong turn and stumble upon a beautiful street or shop which we didn’t intend on going to but which enriches our experience so much more. I know that without our the limitations of our logistic abilities, we could enjoy more convenience and have more posterity-worthy moments, but I’m not complaining. I think that how we do our trips has been perfect. Travelling together and spending time 24/7 heightens our feeling of togetherness… and of course, the memory-making that these new experiences lead to really strengthens our bond. Along with discovering new streets, tastes, and sights, we also discover new things to love about and to promise to each other, even after four years. Being in a relationship with this man is another thing that keeps my days happy and surprising. Who would’ve known, right?

So yes, four thumbs up for that wonderful, memorable weekend. I took home quite a few souvenirs, my wallet is pretty empty right now, but I’m happy. And excited. I pray that this year, things will continue to work out well – that I can survive several more months of not having a 9-5 job so I can focus on school and still not be broke. Wonderful, wonderful start for 2012. Thank you, God, for all of this!

Bagong Bayani Magazine (Singapore) – November Issue


Filipino Talents: Beyond Borders, Vol. 1, No. 9 of BAGONG BAYANI MAGAZINE, is now available!!!

Mga Kababayan:

We are pleased to announce that you can now browse the latest issue of BAGONG BAYANI magazine (Vol.1, No.9) with Felipe, the Embalmer, Marisol the Lawyer, Manuel the Cartoonist, Mona the Real Estate Agent, Jeffrey the Cinema Marketer, Susan the Manicurist, Dan the Doctor, Chato the Busker and Emel the Mechanic-Filipino Talents: Beyond Borders on the cover, online. (www.iambagongbayani.com)

This issue of BBM aims to recognize and showcase the ingenuity and versatility of Filipino talents. Through the years we have risen above every challenge and successfully created an image that there is much more to us than the usual perceived stereotype. We have shown the world that we can be what we wanted to be.

We are happy and proud to share with you that BAGONG BAYANI is the FIRST and the ONLY publication for the Filipino community in Singapore with an E-magazine, so as to make it convenient for you to view the magazine, current and past issues, at the comfort of your homes, offices and even thru your smart phones. And the magazine is FREE, as usual.

BAGONG BAYANI (MODERN-DAY HERO) MAGAZINE is published monthly in English by Salomon Publishing Singapore Pte. Ltd., and is distributed at the Philippine Embassy, Filipino Stores (Hortaliza, Dagupan, Mart One Trading, Grand Jewellery, YGT Internet Services) Beauty Salons (Nelia’s, Salon De Rose, Maganda Sexy, Capri Leo De Aquarius, Manila Stylist House, Iloilo Salon, S-Cut, Sunshine Salon) Filipino Restaurants (Jologs, Barrio Fiesta) Remittance Centres (I-Remit, PNB, Metrobank, LBC), Travel Agencies  (Innoservix, Pentravel, Philoxenos, JMG Travel) PAGIBIG, Cargo companies (ASIAPAC, ASPAC, Makati Cargo, Royal Customs Cargo, Filipino organizations, Church groups, among others.

Substantial. Inspiring. Accessible. This is BAGONG BAYANI magazine.

Maraming salamat po sa inyong suporta, panalangin at pananalig sa aming kakayanan na maitaguyod ang magasin na sadyang ginawa po namin para sa inyo.

God bless us all, God bless the Philippines and Mabuhay po tayong lahat!

Mary Jane Salomon
Publisher, Bagong Bayani(Modern-Day Hero)Magazine
Salomon Publishing Singapore Pte. Ltd.

Please indulge me in my shameless plugging, because this was a labor of love. I did a total of 8 out of the 11 character profiles, doting on anecdotes and insights on everyone from a lawyer, to a translator, to an embalmer. I also wrote the introductory paragraphs for the main feature. It was a wonderful experience because it allowed me learn more about our countrymen in SG – people who sacrifice family and home for the so-called “good life.” It’s a practical peek into the diaspora – it’s really better out there, according to these people. I have close friends working there now, or planning to go there, so this topic is close to my heart.

I was called on board by Ma’am MJ on a short notice – I think I only had roughly 4 days to write everything in the midst of all my work-related deadlines – but now I’m thankful to her because I thoroughly enjoyed writing the profiles. It’s something I’d like to focus on seriously some day – profiling and doing character sketches. An entire biography of someone relevant? At the rate things are going in my life these days, why not?

You can read all the articles I wrote, and the rest of the magazine, free via Issuu. Here’s the clickety link: