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January 29, 2016

Diversity in choices is a great thing for consumers because it gives them a choice to find the service that caters to their specific needs. With the rise of different concepts for salons and barbershops, it is only right to give each one a try to see where your needs are met.

Felipe and Sons prides itself as a 'Barberdashery' which I figured meant a one stop shop for Men's grooming! A barbershop component paired with a tailoring and merchandise component. This particular combination of concepts intrigued me and urged me to pay them a visit.

El Pueblo's vintage Spanish aesthetics compliments the goal of Felipe and Sons to Bring back Manila Swagger!

The Ambiance

From the outside, you will notice that El Pueblo screams vintage grand spanish aesthetics which compliments the goal of Felipe and Sons to bring back the old Manila Swagger which are rooted in the mixture of Filipino and Spanish traditions.

Huge mirrors and huge chandeliers make it feel like you're in a hacienda from early days of Manila.

Inside, the same Filipino-Spanish aesthetics rings true with some modern rustic aesthetics to increase the utility of the space for the barbershop services. An example would be the rustic construction of the counters and of the shelves for the haircutting tools like the scissors, shavers, mirrors and the like. You can feel the old blend with the new in this space.

Modern Rustic mixed with Grand Vintage!

The Cut and Shave

The Haircut and the shaving services is a step above the rest because this is one of the FEW barbershops I've been to in the metro that meticulously follows the four-run process when doing the skin fade. The usual tapered haircut goes for around thirty minutes while the skin fades can set you back to forty-five minutes because of the four step process. This takes a little more than half of the hair cutting time.

You will appreciate the patience and effort your barber offers when he is cutting your hair into a skin fade. The rest of the hair cutting process is mostly standard but with refinements like cleaning your fade with cotton balls and performing a blow dry at the end of the hair cut.

The shave on the other hand is a step by step process involving hot and cold towel compresses, with cream application and the actually shaving. The cream is somewhat different to what I am used to. It isn't bad, it's good but not the best I've ever had.

I enjoyed the hot and cold towel compresses and the feeling you get when the barber shaves your facial hair inch by square inch. You can feel each hair strand tingle when the razer touches and cuts each strand. It's amazing.

This wasn't even their luxury shave, and I was already pretty relaxed after it!

Their bar offers a select number of beverages while you are enjoying their services!

The Price

Haircut starts at Php 360.00 but is priced at Php 700.00 together with the shave. The shave itself is Php 450.00 while their Luxury shave costs Php 800.00. They also offer grooming packages like the cut, shave and drink for Php 690.00! Don't forget to the tip to your barber!

The Conclusion

The strengths of Felipe is the attention to the process and the details as seen from the time and the effort put in perfecting the skin fade I experienced, and to the dipping of instruments in bactericidal blue liquid at an affordable price that starts at Php 360.00! Although I have yet to try all of their products, butI found that I've experienced better shampoo and shaving cream elsewhere. This is however remedied by the wonderful service I got from the cut and shave!

So if you are okay with decent shampoo and shaving cream paired with excellent haircut, shave and massage then Felipe and Sons maybe for you!

Do you want to Contact 'Felipe and Sons?'
Makati Address: Mezzanine A, LPL Mansion, 122 San Agustin St., 1227 Makati, Philippines
Makati Contact number: (+63) 02-625-57-35
Ortigas Address: El Pueblo Real de Manila, J. Vargas Ave., cor. ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Philippines
Makati Contact number: (+63)915-454-4551
Instagram: @Felipeandsons
Makati Operating Hours: 10AM to 9PM
Ortigas Operating Hours: 12NN to 9PM

January 28, 2016

Look at the magnificence of its texture!

With the rise of pastries and desert establishments, I think its safe to say that there is a sizeable market of Filipinos with sweet teeth. Cookie Boss Manila is one of the latest business to offer their homemade recipes into the market.

We were lucky enough to be part of their taste testing event, and at the end of it, I was both happy and dizzy from the sugar rush. Let's just say if you need a sugar kick to wake you up, Cookie boss should already be part of your list.

So soft!

I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't have fond memories of their childhood that was absent of cookies. Almost everyone loves cookies whatever shape or form. Cookie boss offers the classic chocolate chip cookies and with several variations like cashew, walnut, almonds, reeses', pecan, white chocolate chips and more. 

The Cookies have the same base and therefore mostly the same taste, texture and sophistication with the difference being apparent on the added ingredient. For example, The cookie boss standard is soft batches of sweet flavored cookies with hints of chocolates melting in your mouth. The variations have added ingredients that balances out the flavors with ingredients like the cashews, the walnuts and the etc. The reeses' on the other hand adds a twist of peanut butter to balance the sweetness of the chocolate.

The chocolate is teasing you!

I prefer my cookies hot from the oven while some prefer them a day or two old because the cookie changes after it cools down.

They also have a fruitier version with their food for the gods which I think is a nice twist because not everybody prefers the sweet flavour exclusively. Their cookies are not the best I've ever had but they are way better than most and I would recommend getting them in bite sized pieces!

Philippine Mangoes are the best!

Cookie Boss also offers a variety of cakes like the double chocolate, the mango chiffon and the rhum cake. I personally love the rhum cake because you can taste the love and the effort in making it. In fact if you slice it half, you will see several layers of rhum seeping into the chiffon.

The Mango chiffon's icing is sweet and creamy while the inner chiffon is fluffy and moist. It all dances in your tongue as you swallow each bite. The sweetness of the mango compliments the both the slight blandness and slight sweetness of the icing giving you that ecstatic feeling after having some sweets.

You can contact them via Mobile Phone and Instagram!
Mobile Number: 09173895099
Instagram: @cookiebossmanila

Information Technology has been a  world changing phenomenon. Humans can now do more than they could ever have. This includes being able to support struggling innovators that want to create something that could benefit the human race.

IdeaSpace Foundation seeks to do the same for the Philippines. We were invited to their 2016 competition launch and we were happy to oblige in disseminating this wonderful opportunity for the filipino People!

Details of the Start-up Competition can be found below!

IdeaSpace Foundation (IdeaSpace), the leading early-stage technology incubator and accelerator in the Philippines, announced the opening of its annual startup competition for 2016, which will begin accepting early-stage startup ideas beginning January 21.
Now on its fourth year, the IdeaSpace startup competition will also have a new structure which will focus on providing equity-free funding and support to competition winners so founders can pursue their innovative ideas.
“Ever since IdeaSpace was founded, we have declared our belief that Filipino entrepreneurs can turn their innovative startup ideas into reality and make it big on the world stage as long as there is an ecosystem to support them,” said Diane Eustaquio, Executive Director at IdeaSpace.
“With this new equity-free funding structure, IdeaSpace strengthens its commitment to the local startup ecosystem to bring out the most socially relevant innovations that can help solve pressing problems of the world, particularly in emerging economies such as the Philippines,” she added. 
Ideas from across the country, region 
Interested groups and individuals can now log on to apply.ideaspacefoundation.org to fill up the form and submit their startup ideas for evaluation until March 18, 2016. Submissions from around the Philippines, as well as in the Southeast Asian region, are welcome.
The top twenty ideas from this pool will be screened by an esteemed panel of judges, and the top 20 early-stage startups that will enter incubation will be announced by July 5, 2016. At least ten of these startups, meanwhile, will enter the acceleration phase beginning August 1, 2016.
Those who enter the acceleration phase will have access to up to P1 million funding which will include up to P500,000 in cash, while non-cash benefits such as housing, transportation, incorporation, office space, communication, software support, trainings and classes, as well as mentoring from executives of companies under First Pacific. 
New structure 
Unlike previous years, IdeaSpace will no longer have an equity in each of the startups that will undergo its incubation and acceleration process.
Eustaquio said this will allow startup founders and IdeaSpace to collaborate and focus fully on bringing these early-stage ideas to reality, and to ensure that each idea has a clear and achievable runway toward commercial viability.
As one of the formidable technology incubators and accelerators in the country, IdeaSpace has helped give birth to about 38 startups over the last four years as part of its half a billion-peso funding that was instituted in 2012.
Some of the program’s most notable alumni include: SALt, a startup that has developed an innovative saltwater lamp and was featured during the recent APEC Summit 2015 in Manila; PinoyTravel, a startup which helps solve provincial bus reservation woes of commuters; Mobkard, which helps consumers save on purchases through discounts and promos; and Tactiles, which developed an educational toy that helps children learn electronics while playing, among many others. 

IdeaSpace is supported by the following companies: First Pacific, First Pacific Leadership Academy, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, MPIC hospital group, PLDT, Meralco, Smart Communications, Inc., Digitel Mobile Philippines and its mobile brand Sun Cellular, SPI Global, ePLDT, Indofood, Philex Mining, Maynilad, MediaQuest, and TV5. To know more about IdeaSpace, visit www.ideaspacefoundation.org.

January 21, 2016

The long wait is over as FUJIFILM, one of the world’s best regarded camera brands unveils two new powerful and superior camera lines only days after their Japan launch – FUJIFILM X-Pro2 premium interchangeable lens camera and the more compact FUJIFILM X70. The worldwide launch was led by FUJIFILM Corporation President Shigehiro Nakajima and FUJIFILM executives in Tokyo, Japan. The Philippine launch was held January 21 at Discovery Suites in Ortigas.

FUJIFILM started the mirrorless revolution in 2012 with the retro styled X-Pro1. Like its predecessor, FUJIFILM X-Pro2 is a flagship model that takes advantage of the best in FUJIFILM technology. It is set to change the way Filipinos look at the more lightweight, powerful and aesthetically superior volition to DSLR cameras.

A tightly-held secret that was three years in the making, FUJIFILM X-Pro2 is an ideal tool for professional photographers. It boasts the world's only Hybrid Multi Viewfinder making use of the exceptional Electronic viewfinders (EVF) used by mirrorless cameras and optical viewfinders which most documentary, reportage and street photographers prefer for a more natural view. It incorporates them both, harnessing a technically remarkable Multi-Magnification ability that automatically switches viewfinder magnification according to the lens the photographer is using plus the Electronic Rangefinder so it simultaneously displays the electronic viewfinder on top of the optical one. You get the best of both worlds.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 also has a newly developed 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor and high-performance X Processor Pro image processing engine that can deliver stunning images with a perceived resolution far greater than the actual number of pixels used.This camera is also built with magnesium alloy and is tightly sealed in its 61 points. It's dust-proof, splash-proof and capable of operating in temperatures as low as 10°C. The X-Pro2 also has dual SD card slots which mean more preferable room for your images.It’s also got 4x the processing speed of conventional image processing engines so aside from the increased resolution, you’ll get optimum write speeds, faster start-up time to capture those magical moments and high speed continuous shooting speedsin sports and action shots.

Aside from the powerhouse X-Pro2, Fujifilm is also proud to announce the release of FUJIFILM X70. The best option in a compact design, the X70 is without precedent, the first of its kind in a new line. FUJIFILM X70 is the first X-Series model to offer a touchscreen display that rotates 180 degrees. This would enable users to shoot from various angles and perfect those warranted selfies. The camera also comes with a Fujinon18.5mm F2.8 lens which would be splendid for group shots or spectacular landscapes, seascapes and sunsets adept for the Philippine setting.

The X70 weighs approximately 340 grams and is the lightest X-Series camera with an APS-C sized sensor. It comes with a well-designed milled aluminum exposure compensation and shutter speed dials which makes it so easy to quickly access key features and the aperture and focusing rings are made from the same material to keep the weight down. Apertures can be changed in 1/3 or 1 stop increments, plus the focusing ring doubles up as a control ring for quick access to a range of functions. 

FUJIFILM X70 is a pocket-sized wonder that delivers high quality images that is unique to X-Series models. The unparalleled color reproduction technology and the unique Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO) image processing technology are a result of FUJIFILM’s 80 years of experience and expertise in photographic technology research. Its impressive hardware automatically corrects optical defects such as diffraction to achieve striking sharpness and realistic three-dimensional effect.The on sensor phase detection AF works ultra-fastat 0.1 second and the high-speed proprietary EXR Processor II image processor makes the camera start up in just 0.5sec. The shutter time lag is almost negligible at 0.01sec and gets a shooting interval of 0.5 seconds. FUJIFILM X70 is unbelievably fast, powerful and exceptionally compact. 

FUJIFILM also adds two new premium products to its impressive lineup. FUJIFILM X-E2S is the latest rangefinder-style model in the world-renowned X-Series that comes with a durable, compact, and lightweight body with a Real-Time Viewfinder that offers a large display magnification of 0.62x*1 and an electronic viewfinder with the world's shortest display time lag*2 of 0.005 seconds. Furthermore, X-E2S is also equipped with an AF system that excels at capturing subjects in motion. An evolved version of the X-E2, FUJIFILM X-E2S retains the functionality and rangefinder-style design and adds new features including an improved grip, an electronic shutter and a more intuitive GUI to enhance the user experience.

The new FUJINON XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR expands the range to a super telephoto option. The FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a super telephoto zoom lens that covers a 35mm focal length equivalent of 152-609mm. The high performance optical construction of 21 elements in 14 groups includes five ED lenses and one Super ED lens to help reduce chromatic aberration that often occurs in telephoto lenses. As a result, it delivers the highest image quality in its class. The lens has been designed for handheld shooting with a 5.0-stop* image stabilization system and weighs less than 1.4kg. Linear motor for fast autofocusing makes it perfect for shooting fast-moving subjects including aircraft and motorsports. The lens is also both water and dust resistant and can operate in temperatures as low as -10°C, so it is suitable for use in a wide range of outdoor shooting conditions. A fluorine coating has also been applied to the front lens element to repel water and dirt, further improving the toughness of lens.

With the launch of FUJIFILM X-Pro2 and X70 and two others, FUJIFILM continues to be a true trailblazer in the camera and photographic film industry, true to its rich storied 80 year history, innovating and creating ways to make taking photographs and making memories easier, fun, and enjoyable.

January 20, 2016

Comfort Food is something I know all to well. There was a time in my life wherein I couldn't have enough of it. This resulted in me weighing more than I would like. There is just something about it that you can't get enough of especially if you are away from home. 

HotBox Kitchen is a Canadian Comfort food restaurant from two chefs who hailed from Calgary several years before. When they moved here they decided to start a kitchen where they can cook food that they cooked when they were in Canada. As a result a lot of foreigners from Canada, and the USA come here to eat because it reminds them of home. 

Repurposed can and jar!

The Ambiance 

The Canadian couple wanted to start small and to see where it goes. The result is small place with smart use of space that reminds you of home with an added rustic touch to it. From the outside you can see that the furnishing of the walls, the door and the windows have that American style to them.

Even the kitchen looks like it was designed to make use of as much space as possible!

When you enter you will see the high chair and high tables on the right while the cosy couch chair, and lower tables on the left. The kitchen is at the back, and from where you sit you will notice that it too was designed to make use of as much space as possible.

I don't usually like house burgers but this is one of the exceptions!

The Food

They advertised themselves as a Canadian comfort food establishment so I decided to order a classic : their house burger.  When It came to me, I was a little surprised by its size. That was the only disappointment I had of the day because when I took that first bite, the beef exploded with juices and flavor that was complimented by the bacon, the tomatoes, the lettuces and the rest of condiments. Admittedly, It wasn't the best burger I've ever had but this is way above average. You won't be disappointed.

Their take on the Classic Canadian dish: Poutine!
There's a saying that bacon can make almost any dish better especially if you make your own (Bacon). Poutine, a Canadian dish made from french fries, gravy and cheese curds is one of their specialties, and when the dish came to our table, the plate was steaming and the whole room smelled nothing but bacon. They used the leftovers from their homemade bacon to make their gravy. They couldn't find a supplier for cheese curds so they topped their take with fried bacon bits. Though not truly authentic, the dish is still a must have whenever you visit.

10 ounces of USDA Angus Steak!
The Steak frites is a combination of a 10 ounce USDA Angus steak, and a bowl of hand chopped french fries topped with grated cheese. This can be upgraded into a poutine for an extra Php 100.00. The steak was seasoned with only salt and pepper to keep it simple, and let the flavors shine by themselves. (this also shows that the chef was confident with their skills) This leaves the verdict whether it be good or bad is in the technique and it was impressive. The flavors of the meat just danced in my mouth with the juices while the salt and pepper serve to add a complimenting contrast to the all ready delicious flavors from the meat strands and the fats.

It's so beautiful! (candied bacon)
Crispy, Sweet, Salty, and Fatty. Need I say more? Perfect if you just want to sit down, relax and have a partner for your beer. 

The smell of these things is intoxicating
Their 1/2 pound hot wings weren't supposed to be part of our meal because hot wings were in my weekly diet but the people sitting beside our table ordered these and the smell was just so inviting and so intense that we couldn't resist. We weren't disappointed. Again, like the burger, this isn't the best wings we've ever had but the sauce was perfection. It was spicy but not numbing. In fact, they could have increased the spiciness a couple of notches more and people will still get it. 

Deep Fried Oreos!

The Service

They have good amount of staff members plus the owners so the service was good. They immediately lead us to our tables and gave us their menu. They waited patiently and described the dishes in question promptly. There were some dishes that took longer than we liked but the wait was usually worth it. This is another place where dishes with simple recipes come out impressive because of  proper technique. In fact, some dishes can be done at home but because they cooked it so well, you wouldn't feel guilty in ordering them.

The Price

Dishes start like the candied bacon start at  Php 150.00 and can go up to Php 925.00 for the Steak frites. The average price per dish is in the Php 200.00 to Php 250.00 so this place is affordable for it's quality. 

The Verdict

What We LIKED:

  • Affordable and Quality Canadian Comfort Food
  • Recipes that can be done at home but are amazing because of their technique in preparation and cooking
  • Homey Ambiance
  • Steak and Poutine!

What We Almost LIKED:

  • The place can be tight at times
  • Some dishes take a little longer than we'd like
  • Can be hard to miss if you weren't paying attention
  • Operating Hours can be a problem for some people (start at 4:30PM because they want to spend more time with their kid, which is not a bad thing)

Do you want to Contact 'HotBox Kitchen?'
Address: 450C P. Guevarra corner Wilson st. San Juan,  Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone number: (02) 275-4577

Operating Hours: 
Tues-Thurs, Sun: 4.30PM to 11.00PM
Fri-Sat 4.30PM to 12MN

January 19, 2016

With the booming economy and culture in Metro Manila, it was only a matter of time till places with unique concepts that emphasised on small group hang out spots that served beverages aside from alcohol came to fruition. Commune PH in Poblacion Makati serves a place for people to 'commune.'

The place is vibrant with little details that say 'a woman's touch' was the inspiration for the interior design. This is why it feels like home. Think of it like how your mom would add finishing touches to your home.  

Well lit and relaxing!

The Ambiance

Commune is the building on the corner of polaris street in poblacion. You can not miss it because of the huge glass windows and the long balcony on the second floor. The thing about Commune is that it screams 'a woman's touch' in its interiors. Most of the furnishing is custom made which gives this unique feel whenever you stay.

Huge windows with custom made furnishings!
There is the long bar in the middle with the high table on the left and the low tables on the right. The huge windows give this feeling of openness that makes the place perfect for either working calmly or relaxing with a group drinking coffee. 

Commune's Mocha comes with adorable Latte Art! (in this case a pug)

The Coffee, The Beverages and The Service

They offer the coffee classics like the Espresso, Capuccino, Mocha, Latte and the like. To pair with your coffee they offer decadent deserts like Cookie Bar's cookie shot glass and Fog City creamery's Ice cream. You can even have the cookie shot glass and the ice cream in one.

Cookie Bar's Cookie Shot Glass with Fog City Creamery's Vanilla Ice Cream!

The beans they use are all locally sourced. They proudly market their Philippine coffee advocacy. I personally prefer the local beans while their house blend is has a nice balance between flavors where it has the coffee kick that is strong enough to keep you up but the flavor never over powers which is good if you will be having this blend as your regular beverage. I highly recommend trying their Commune blend prepared via the Aeropress.

The Commune Latte!

They also offer foam art for your cappuccino. In this case we got a puppy trying to hug you. Isn't that just heart melting?  A bit of warning though, the foam tends to add a lot of air into your drink and may affect the flavor. 

A puppy trying to hug you!
The service is wonderful. The waiters and baristas have made a habit of being near your table should you have any additional request. There were times where the wait time was extended because they were still in soft opening but I think this will be ironed out after a while.

One of the better Red Velvet cupcakes I've had.

 The Price

The basic espresso starts at Php 90.00, while the rest of their coffee line can vary from Php 110.00 to Php 158.00. Their sandwiches, their pastries and their deserts start at Php 75.00 and can reach Php 400.00 while their classic rice meal will set you back Php 220.00. At the end of your stay, you'll also be charged an extra ten percent for their service. As you can see their prices are reasonable and within the expected prices from a coffee shop.

Do you want to Contact 'Commune PH?'
Address: 36 Polaris cor Durban Street, Poblacion , Makati City, Philippines
Telephone number: (02) 275-6324
Instagram: @communeph
 Operating Hours: Mon-Thurs: 12NN to 10PM; Fri-Sat: 12NN to 12MN; Sun 10AM - 6PM

January 09, 2016

The Inception

When I began writing on this platform, a friend and I spoke about its beginnings which lead to a long conversation that ended with the main topics that would be tackled on the website. Since I had a background in the medical field, I decided to include health and fitness. This lead to her opening about her daily fitness regimen called 'Crossfit.'

She went on and spoke about the details like how intense, how and why the workout was effective, and how wonderful the camaraderie among the participants were. Now, being in the medical field, this wasn't new to me. I have had seen so many of these exercise routines from my time in and out of the field. What caught my interest though was when she was speaking about CrossFit, her voice changed slightly and the look in her eyes were intense. She was passionate about it. I became curious. She even offered to help me try it and I agreed.

A couple of days later, I met with one of my best friends from college and his girlfriend to catch up. He then mentioned that he was on his way to loose those unwanted love handles. The conversation went on like this:

"Great! How are you going to do that?" I said. 
"There's this new thing my co-workers invited me to try, its called Crossfit. Its been going around." He said.
"He lost quite a bit already." His girlfriend added.
"Yeah he has." I replied and continued with:
"I actually just heard about it the other day. I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I really live under a rock, don't I?"

Now this friend of mine from college was one of the few people I would trust my life with. Most of the time I would believe him. This furthered my resolve to try this 'Crossfit' thing. (Not that I was hesitant from the beginning anyway.) 

The Lead-up

I met her again and she mentioned that there were free trials every month and that it would be best to check their Facebook Page. So I did, and I followed the instructions. This lead me to their website and into their free trial page. It was RSVP only, and I had to register either through email (cfgreenhills@gmail.com) or via SMS. 

I sent an SMS message and got the slot. It was set on a Saturday afternoon at 2PM. 

Saturday came and I checked my stuff, and went on my way. The gym is on the fourth floor of the Intrawest Centre bldg. along Annapolis st. which is a block or two away from the Promenade Greenhills. It wasn't that hard to find. It had this distinct tint of green that you couldn't miss. If you are on the ground level, you will find a mediterranean restaurant called Feta which is next to the AUB bank and the deli, Deli Master.

As I was walking up to the building I noticed a large stair case where a security guard kindly asked where I was going. I replied with 'Crossfit,' and he then lead me to the stair case to the third floor. 

I was a little early so I decided to chat with the security guards. They were happy enough to tell me entertaining stories about the people who did 'Crossfit.' Apparently, they were happy for one patron who was bigger before and was out of breath when he first came up that stair case, but now we goes up the said stairs like it was nothing. (It may have warmed my heart a little. Congratulations to whoever you are.) They also told stories of people who couldn't stand up properly after the work out.

The Ambiance

At quarter to 2PM, I decided to go up into the gym. When I got to the third floor, I could already smell the classic fragrances of a gym. The strong scent of synthetic rubbers and of synthetic plastic with hints of wood, rust and steel. It smells like home or your grand parents' basement.

When I took my first step inside, I was surprised at how different it was from an average gym because most of the huge exercise machines were absent and there were equipment that I had never seen before.

From where you came in, the reception was to the left and equipment like kettlebells, wearable supports, weights, and bird cages(to confirm) are to the right. I went to the reception desk to ask where the changing room was. I was met by a  guy who could have pass as one of the Expendables from that Sylvester Stallone movie. He firmly and politely guided me to the right far corner of the of the room where the changing rooms were. The Men's were at the left side while the Ladies' were on the right.

The rest of it was big open space with green painted walls and black floor panels that were chipping from daily use.  In a way it had a lot of character. Lastly, the changing areas were concealed by wooden wall at the other side of the room. It is complete with a separate shower room and a toilet room.

They also have a balcony area with a variety of pot plants that serve to add a bit of life to the concrete jungle view from the panoramic window that showcases the Manila Skyline.

The Lecture

The guy that received me at the reception asked us to gather up at the far end of the 'box.' He introduced himself as coach 'Josh' along with his profession and his hobbies. He asked us to do the same and to remember our classmate's names. (You know like the first day of class, the awkwardness of it never really goes away.)

He then opened his introduction to what 'Crossfit' is with the story about how he explained it to his friends. He said that he would describe it with the following three: 1. Functional Movement 2. Constantly Varied, and 3. High Intensity.

Functional Movement because 'Crossfit' aims to strengthen the muscle groups that engage when doing your everyday tasks. Simple things like picking up an object is comparable to dead lifts because of the use of the same muscle groups. This effectively makes you better even though those tasks are mundane.

Constantly Varied means that no workout of the day will be the same, ever. It will always be different to keep your body on its toes which avoids workout plateau and to increase results.

Lastly, High Intensity is a combination of interval periods of intense anaerobic exercise (which means that your demand for oxygen exceeds the supply thus you burn other sources like fat for energy to keep up) and less intense recovery periods. He emphasised this as this is the type of workout that will give you results. 

The Trial Itself

Immediately after the lecture, Coach Josh asked us to form into groups, and get ready for the work out. At first he introduced several simple work outs that were combined with sprinting like ten high jumps then sprinting to opposite wall, and touching it. You were then to sprint back to tag your partner. The next variation was the Jumping jacks-sprint rally. Doesn't sound that hard right? I mean yeah I was breathing quickly and sweating profusely but it was fun. This apparently was the warm-up. 

Coach instructed us to form four columns, and do the arm raise to distance us from each other. He introduced and guided us into the plank position with the next instruction of maintaining it for as as long as we could. 

Now that we knew the plank position, he proceeded with the demo of the push-up. This is where we start at the plank position and lower our upper body down with the elbows bend facing your feet while keeping the rest of the body straight. He pushed us to do as many as we could.

After that he introduced us to the squat. This is a workout wherein you stand up straight while keeping your legs wide and drop your butt low enough to strengthen your thighs, your butt and back muscles. He made us do as much as we can. I began to feel a little fatigue at my hamstring area (back of your thighs). So I caught my breathe and listened for what was next.

Coach Josh demoed the 'Crossfit' sit-up wherein we did an indian sit on the floor where our hands at the start is touching our feet and then throw our hands as far as we could along with our upper body to the opposite direction. None of us could do this properly. He congratulated us on how bad we were at it. Funny. He asked us to get those ab mats that were shaped like a tear drop that served to support us when doing the said sit-up. 

We tried it, and it helped quite a bit. He continued to encourage us to repeat for as many as we could. This was where I was having difficulty because my abdominals were aching, and I was having a hard time breathing. It was fucking intense, and I never thought I would like it. 

For the last workout he asked veteran crossfitters to demo a 4-Man circuit that combined the sprint, push-up, squats, and sit ups. He said to follow the circuit that was demoed, and repeat it until we finished the eight minute time limit. I laughed a little, and took a deep breath.

After the eight minutes we looked like we just got away from a psychopath from those horror flicks because we were all trying hard to catch our breaths. Thank God that was the end of it.

He asked us to gather one last time and form a circle to do the cool down. God, that was something. Never have I had so much fun punishing myself. I felt so weak, miserable and I think I may be a masochist that or I was enjoying the endorphine high from the exercise. I could never say that about all the other sports I tried and gave up on. I hated basketball, soccer, tennis, badminton and the like. 

After the cool down he interjected the three week program for crossfit that serves to help your body adapt better for the workouts you will be doing in the future should you decide to do crossfit after the trial. We were then dismissed so I got my stuff and carried it to the changing room.

The Aftermath

I came out of that gym without the thoughts of boredom or the thoughts of the workout being a chore. The variation, and logical movements kept me on my toes even though I was either tired or in pain. Pain that I never thought I could feel in certain areas of my body. I now know more about myself because of 'Crossfit.' I had to go through hell though; however, it is just way too much fun. 

The next day was the worst. My body was recovering and any form of weight bearing on any muscle group took a little more effort to keep my balance and to actually move. Going down the stairs while carrying something was thrilling because my muscles couldn't balance my stance properly. Every step I made, my body would always over extend which resulted in my body lean forward, and made every step feel like I was going to fall and hit my head face first. It was really exciting. I cannot stress how much I like it.

I encourage you to try it. 
You never really know how strong you are until being strong is the only thing you can be. 

Do you want to Contact 'Crossfit Greenhills?'
Address: 4th Floor Intrawest Centre, 33 Annapolis, San Juan, 1504 Metro Manila
Website: http://crossfitgreenhills.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/CrossFitGreenhills
Instagram: @CfGreenhills 
 Operating Hours: 6AM to 8AM, 4PM to 10PM


Special thank you to Sean Hovie Lee for the Pictures uploaded in this article. He takes wonderful pictures that capture the story of the moment! In fact, I barely edited anything except for resizing and saving it as a .PNG file. I applaud him because I normally avoid noise in my pictures but with his photos, the noise actually adds character. Kudos to him!

Special thank you to my lovely friend for trusting me with trying out Crossfit and writing about it where at the time I was almost a complete stranger. I hope I didn't bug her too much over the duration of experience and of writing process.

January 05, 2016

What is it with Japanese food that captivates the soul of our tastebuds? Not too long ago I had this misconception that japanese food was expensive that made it out of reach for people focusing on their budget. This was till I found Izakaya Kikufuji in Little Tokyo, Makati. 

At the date of this writing, I recently visited Osaka, Japan and I found that the Japanese dishes were cheaper in Japan than in the Philippines. The prices at Izakaya Kikufuji is comparable to the prices in Japan with little to no premium. In fact, there is barely any difference if you convert it. (This is comparing the prices of dishes in a city of Japan compared to the prices of Izakaya Kikufuji)

Unagi Sashimi Platter!

The Ambiance 

If you are coming from Chino Roces Ave., you will find a row of Japanese restaurants each with their own Japanese inspired facades. In the middle of those restaurants is a big white sign saying 'Izakaya Kikufuji' in Japanese and in Romaji.

As you step inside you will see a receptionist at your immediate left, tables at your immediate right, and in front of you is the bar where several Japanese chefs prepare your dishes. At your far left are Japanese style tables with cushions for seats that are all on top of tatami mats. Under the said tables is a hole where your legs can dangle. It is also encouraged that you take off your shoes before you sit on the tatami mats.

The Sushi Platter! Eel, Mackerel, Tuna, Squid, and Salmon

The Food

Izakaya in Japanese means a place that serves food that accompany after work drinking. So you would be right if you guessed that Kikufuji serves Japanese comfort food along with alcohol. This would entail several classic dishes like Ramen, Soba, Udon, Karaage, Ricebowls, Katsus, Sushi, Sashimi, and the like. 

The sushi and sashimi platters came in first and they look divine. The sushi is as you see it above while the Sashimi platter came with a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso soup. As they were placed in front of me the smell of the ocean came with it. There is something intoxicating about that smell of fresh fish meat.

Each sushi had that wonderful fluffy rice that fills you up quickly topped with soft seafood meat. My personal favorite were the eel, the tuna and the salmon. It's a personal preference that I didn't like mackerel too much as I am very picky with fish meat.  

Rice bowl, Miso Soup, Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel and Grilled Eel

The same can be said with the Sashimi as it is basically cut from the same source that is shipped daily into our shores. I think a trademark of any good dish is that it can stand on its own with or without sauce. In fact I tried each one without the soy sauce first and then with it. I was still blown away each time. 

Kikufuji so far is the closest to the Japanese dishes that I've tasted when I was in Tokyo and Osaka. I cannot stress how little difference I could notice with the Izakayas I've been to. 

Soba Noodles Topped with Nori!

Aside from the Fresh fish, I also ordered cold soba. It came with a plate of soba noodles topped with nori and a bowl of sauce where I dip the soba into. The noodles by itself is soft to the bite with a fine texture carried by wonderful flavors of the wheat flour it was made from. The sauce is a mixture of soy sauce and broth that brought contrasting flavors when mixed the noodles were dipped in them. In fact with each slurp of noodles, the flavors constantly battled for my tastebuds' attention. Sour notes constrasting with the wheat flavors with the saltiness of the seaweed. It was quite the delight. It is also a wonderful pair to Sake.

Crispy! Crunchy! Karaage!

The Service

Like any Japanese establishment, the service is unparalleled. All the waiters and waitresses were in Japanese traditional costumes and serve you with Japanese hospitalities. They are patient and are easy to approach. Some dishes are prepared quickly while some can take up to ten minutes but are worth the wait. I still remember my first bite of the dipped soba noodles. I can't get over it every time I remember. 

The Price

As I mentioned, the prices here are affordable for Japanese food. The main dishes start at Php 110.00 and can get up to Php 730.00 depending on the ingredients. The Unagi (eel) rice bowl for example goes for Php 650.00. (WORTH IT THOUGH!) The average price range is at Php 200.00 to Php 350.00 per dish. This is quite affordable as compared to the more premium establishment with little difference in quality and flavor. 

The Verdict

What We LIKED:

  • Affordable High Quality Japanese Food
  • Fresh Ingredients
  • Authentic Ambiance

What We Almost LIKED:

  • Almost always full
  • You have to have a reservation to have sure seats
  • Parking can be a hassle at Peak hours

Do you want to Contact 'Izakaya Kikufuji?'
Address: 2277 Chino Roces, Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone number: (02) 893-7319

Operating Hours: 
Mon-Fri: 11AM to 1:30PM, 6PM to 10:30PM
Sat-Sun 11AM to 1:30PM, 6PM to 10PM

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