3-0 Date Night

Only seeing each other on weekends, Nice and I decided not to share my birthday with anyone else but us. And of course, because our upstairs bathroom decided to ensure we couldn’t do anything else the whole day (to be written in a short while… or maybe not).

Nice made reservations at Cafe Ysabel, a quaint restaurant inside San Juan. He said that he had always wanted to try this place but has never had the chance to. When asked how he found out about the place, he explains that it was near where he worked for his first job. I then teased him if I was the girl he had first wanted to bring here.

As soon as Nice told me where we were going, I immediately googled the place. I was both impressed and happily surprised that 1) it’s the restaurant for Center of Asian Culinary Studies, 2) it was visited by No Reservations’ Anthony Bourdain, and 3) it’s housed in a 1927 ancestral home.  Definitely everything interesting!

The house was definitely beautiful. The outside of the house had a park feel to it — I especially loved the porch, the stairs and the Koi Pond. The interior was intricately designed with a lot of period pieces and murals lined all the walls and ceilings. The dim lighting helped create a very romantic ambiance inside the restaurant (which kinda made me sleepy).

They served complimentary focaccia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Since I’m more of a bread than a rice person, this was an extremely welcomed treat. There were 2 pieces of bread, supposedly 1 for Nice and 1 for me — but I consumed mine and half of Nice’s portion.

Nice and I were trying to pretend to be healthy so we ordered Asparagus and Tagaytay Green Salad to start. We didn’t care too much for the salad as we found the asparagus a bit to heavy for salads and after the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, another oil based course was a bit too much.

For mains, we ordered the Norwegian Salmon Steak and the Paella Sulipeña to share. My love of Paella has rubbed off to him (like most of everything I like!). The mains were both absolutely amazing! Perfectly cooked salmon and extremely tasty paella. Unfortunately, Nice and I ruined our appetites by eating nachos and burrito from a Greenhills stall. We ended up taking home 3/4 of the Paella (which didn’t go to waste, we had a lovely breakfast the next day!).

All my friends know that I’m a big desert fan. Now, I’m not sure if I just was too full from eating fast food mexican but I didn’t find any dessert that appetizing. But on a different day, I would have probably gorged on their Peter Pan Pie — chocolate ice cream, butterscotch and Belgian chocolate in a cookie crust.

Cafe Ysabel is no doubt one of Manila’s best restaurants and definitely fit for a date night. For some reason it didn’t fit my mood that night, the dim light ambiance made me a bit sleepy and the ancestral feel to the house made me feel stiff like I was transported to strict grandmom’s house where you were told not to be playful lest you break anything. LOL.

That wouldn’t stop me from going back though and next time, I wouldn’t eat cheap fast food before going.

Restaurant: Cafe Ysabel
Where: 455 P. Guevarra Street, San Juan Metro Manil
Food Tried: Asparagus and Tagaytay Green Salad, Norwegian Salmon Steak, Paella Sulipeña
Cost: About P1400
Recommended: Definitely!


3 days before the last year of being in my 20s…

“How are you?” is probably one of the hardest questions I’ve had to answer. Just how can one describe the myriad of feelings and thoughts that go through one’s head?

Today is probably different. Today I can clearly describe how I feel.

Despite taking my time and a few wrong turns, I am exactly where I belong— somewhere far away from restless, halfway through comfortable and on the way to contentment.

I have realized that I was raised well by very outstanding parents. After 29 years, I now reap the benefits of the values that they have preached. So thanks mom & dad for all the scolding!

I grew up with amazing siblings — my first friends and probably my best. Despite the distance and the lack of everyday interaction, they will fight for me if I can’t and consider themselves as the only people who should make me shed a tear.

I have a long list of great friends. Some I haven’t seen for years but have remained fond of old memories.  It is not often that I hear my mobile phone beep but those out of the blue comments of how much difference I made in other people’s lives can keep me smiling even through the toughest times. Cheers to friendship!

And then there’s Nice! There are days when I can’t quite believe how much more wonderful my life is since the day in the pantry. I giddy with happiness that I am getting married to someone who convinced me that love is worth a lifetime commitment.

the surprise to beat…

there are surprises that always makes your bday extra memorable and i have always been blessed by friends and family who make sure that i get an extra wide smile on my bday. Those that made lasting impressions are my fifth bday, i woke up to gifts on the couch (without anyone telling me the gifts were mine, i was already opening them). There was also my bday during senior year of HS…my classmates (pi.say98) gave me a cake and sang happy birthday on the school lobby!! (most of my classmates were CAT officers and they asked the whole COCC to sing for me…hahaha! whattasight it was.) On that same bday, my HS barkada surprised me by going to my house with prepared food to throw our own little party…

This year somebody outdid themselves. i celebrated my bday a few days earlier for people i knew from work. i threw a party at a friend’s condo, something mediocre with just a little bit of food and tons of alcohol!!! we were excited for the night but i had to spend the whole day in LTO for my license, we were all sleepy that day because we had to work extra shifts the whole week and the neighbors were all testy because we were soooooooo noisy. we had to leave the place, i asked them to go ahead since i’m helping maan to clean the place. they went ahead. they kept on texting and calling for us to hurry up (i could not believe this people! i was trying to clean and they were rushing me!!)…they were somewhere in the sunken garden and as the taxi was approaching the exact spot where they were, i was moving from disbelief to shock to absolute awe. they picked a spot, laid down the comforter and lit the whole spot with candles. staring at what they did, i thought of stars on the grass…i had wished i had a camera in my hand right at the moment i stepped of the cab. instead, i willed my memory to remember every little bit of detail. By the time i got to them, they were all singing and holding a partly eaten cake (hahaha! poor people…we left the food at the condo). The first thing i said was…”I’m overwhelmed. I spent six years in UP and nobody did anything as breathtaking as this…” I would definitely not look at the sunken garden the same way again. They had confetti too and designed the soccer goal (hehehe! look at the background picture). They gave me wonderful gifts: flowers and pillows!

Earlier that day, rose apologized for having no flowers since they had no money and no time to prepare for anything (the whole night she was being mean to me!). i texted them and they said they all just woke up but in truth they just got home from the mall and were cutting crepe paper and all. (damn! i am so in love with you guys!) Rose thought of the wonderful candles (my stars in the ground…). I kept all the candles and some of the confetti and put them in a wonderful box, after the flowers wilt they will go to the same box and so will the balloons that polo gave….i will keep everything for the memories of love and friendship you have proven on my special day.

I had vowed to myslef to do everything to make my bday this year extra special but it was not I who succeeded in doing that…it was ed, master eric, ry, erika, rona, au, mikee, polo, icio, karen, mommy deng, joma, dennis, bullet and his lovely wife kris, maan and rose.This year has more than made up for the year before and all i can say is thank you…

…and all i can hope for is that you feel the happiness that you have given me.