Sunday, 11 November 2012

Pictures on a bus ride

This what it looks like from my university to the embassy, aboard either bus 38 or 19. It's one bus ride all the way and it takes about 30 minutes or so, depending on traffic. I guess I was bored and this is what happens.

Mount Pleasant.


Park Square

Park Square.

The Strand. Nearing Chinatown.

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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Borehamwood & Elstree Station

This is the view I kept seeing everytime I would leave work late and make my way to the station. As I've said, it takes me about 30-40 minutes to reach Kings Cross- St Pancras station and usually I get picked up by my dad's driver. If i'm heading straight home, I get off at West Hampstead Thameslink and have to walk about 5-10minutes to West Hampstead Overground platform before taking the train towards Clapham Junction. 

In the last year, the B&E station certainly leveled it up by having three different bus stops at the station alone, and certainly made the station look very clean and organised. 

The thing I like about London transportation is that they are mostly on time. Delays and diversions can't be avoided sometimes but if you're not in much of a hurry, it's okay to wait.

CostCo shopping

CostCo is mostly for buying items in bulk. You need to be a member in order to enter (either Individual or Trader). As a member you can bring in two people along with you to 'help' with the shopping. We have been to CostCo branch in Watford and in Croydon. You can buy almost anything here, from clothes to office/school materials to food to toiletries to sweets to garden stuff to technology to jewelry. Whatever you want, you name it!

After shopping, I always enjoy eating their hotdog and giant pizza! Oh and refillable softdrinks too. don't forget their ice cream too. Cheap and you're full!

National Gallery

The National Gallery is an art museum in London (one among the many many museums). It holds many many paintings, famous and non-quite. The gallery is divided by different time periods, and to go through every single painting, you might need more than one day. I know because I have been here a few times. A different room each time. Different paintings like the Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Van Gogh's Sunflower, were nice to look at. It's interesting to see how the subjects in the paintings change in each century. It's been said, 'take a step back to be able to see the whole picture'. Don't hurry, take your time. Each painting is unique, each painting holds a different meaning. 

The National Gallery also holds special exhibits and presentations that people should watch for. I know  that my dad did go to one of their presentations and he did like it. My dad also tends to go there for coffee and to read his book, as he likes the ambiance of the place. You can always check their website for more details.

National Gallery
Daily 10am – 6pm, Friday 10am – 9pm
Trafalgar Square,
London, WC2N 5DN

Once done with tour, there's a gift shop and cafe that people go to (just like my dad!). Looking for souvenirs, there's something to remember the National Gallery by for sure. I remember actually going to the National Cafe once, with my college friends back in 2007 or 2008 I think. I ordered some dessert called National Catastrophe. It was simply ice cream in a tall glass and quite sweet. Good enough for me. But I don't remember much from that. You can discover and try them for yourself. See them here:

My only regret about the National Gallery is not being able to enter the National PORTRAIT Gallery, which is right beside (behind) it, on the right if you're facing the National Gallery. Different portraits of famous British men and women (or other people) are always nice to look it. It's interesting to wonder if a simple single portrait can define or explain the person as a whole. 

Like the song goes, "If a picture paints a thousand words...."

National Portrait Gallery
10:00-18:00 (Thursday-Friday until 21:00)
St Martin’s Place,
London WC2H 0HE

Friday, 9 November 2012

Kusinang Munti: review

Kusinang Munti (translates directly to Small Kitchen) is one of the few Filipino restaurants in the whole of UK. Typically it serves buffet food. I, personally, am not a fan of buffet type restaurants, because I lose out (Lugi ako!). I don't eat really eat a lot (depends on food if it's sushi or shrimp) and it's more of Takaw-tingin, meaning when you're deciding what to eat and you see there's a lot of good food you like so you put on your plate, but suddenly you can't finish all of them because you're full already! 

But I figured out what I would get, it would be their chicken wings and rice and fries and prawn crackers. If I wanted something with sauce, it would be their Kare Kare and Bagoong. Lately I've grown to love love LOVE Kare Kare. I'd just make my meal up with their dessert of Maja Blanca or Leche Flan. Their Guinataang is also worth a try.

One of their dishes off the menu tray would be the Chicharon Bulaklak, which I will talk about later.

We've been here for a lot of different occasions, or simply just for dinner, since it is quite near to us. We've been here with Filipino artists from Manila, like Tirso Cruz III and Ara Mina. The most significant would be Dad's despedida, in a way our despedida, which was prepared for us by Filipino community leaders.

They also have plasma TV's on their walls, if you feel like watching tv channels from the Philippines. Or if you are in the mood, it's time for some karaoke! Typically what Filipinos do best - eat and sing. Enjoy!

Kusinang Munti,
913 Garratt Ln, 
London SW17 0LT

The Courtyard

This is my courtyard. I call it my courtyard because I like spending time here while waiting for my dad. But it gets weird sometimes when too many people pass by this courtyard. This pathway serves as a shortcut for people coming from the Philippine Embassy heading to Chinatown area.  Yes, this is just behind the Philippine Embassy and the pathway is locked in the evening as this is also a residencial area. 

I remember two instances where I spent it with two of my best friends - S and Marky. I remember sitting on a bench with S and we catched up. S is my best friend from college. And though we rarely really see each other, it still seems like old times. And I know I will always have her back, and likewise.

Marky, well, we mentioned him in the One Filipino bottles. He is one of the few friends where we clicked from the first conversation, without much effort, we just become good friends. If you met the two of us, you would actually think we have been friends for years. But to date, it's only been almost  4years. We were having hot drinks from Starbucks I think and just another conversation, before the start of 'a meeting'. More about Marky in other blog posts I'm sure.

The courtyards are used for some special embassy occasions like Independence Day 2011, where we opened the embassy to Filipinos who wanted to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. We had Senator Loren Legarda who graciously joined the celebrations. My dad said the message of the president while Tita Tess said the message of the DFA secretary. Then it started drizzling and raining. After a photo exhibit was also opened and breakfast of Tapsilog was served! Yummmm.

I enjoy Philippine Independence Day because we dress up in our Filipinianas, and the guys in their barongs and we just all look so elegant. What else better to do than photoshoot!! There was another Independence Day (probably 2010) where we took a giant group shoot in the courtyard. We actually all fit with the trees getting in the picture.

I wished we could have used it more for embassy events, but ofcourse permission had to be granted first. And it could take a while. So i'll just stick to spending some time during the day with my drink in hand and then "muni-muni".

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Farrindon Station

The link between my university and my work. This train takes to the station where I work, it takes about 40 minutes to get there (6 stops I think). It would take me 10-15 mins to walk to this station from my uni though, and if I'm lucky, I would be able to catch the train just on time. And not have to wait 30 minutes for the next one.

Farringdon Station recently opened their new terminal that links several lines, both underground and overground. It looks really fancy. This is also near to one of my favorite sushi places, because it's cheap and really delicious. One time, I craved for their sushi, that I went here and went back to the office during my lunch break. Obviously, I was late coming back. But hey,  it was too good that I didn't mind. I'm actually craving for it now. Mmm.

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Lunch near Angel Station.

Earl's Court at Night.

My Spanish Best Friend

I miss her. The reason I enjoyed my time at uni. Meeting her and being friends with her has been fun. I haven't seen her since she left for Madrid back in September 2011. We try to Skype but time zone issues come in the way. But thanks to Whatsapp and BBM and twitter, we're still in touch. 

I like this picture of her. She looks better happy, and I'm glad she finally is. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Uni Life

Towards the end of my 3 year course in City University London, suddenly there were pink & green couches appearing at one part of our university building. And then what to us was funnier was this fake sheep on fake grass just down the steps from the pink & green couches. We weren't sure what they (university management) were trying to show here. Maybe they were trying to be funny. Maybe they were trying to make it a more comfortable place to 'chill'. To us, it was just another thing to laugh about.

University was an interesting 3 years of my life. I met a lot of people from different walks of life. Classmates born in one country but the parents' origin from another. I was already different in that aspect. Born in the Philippines to Filipino parents, and proud of it. But I would have to say parts of university life was awkward too. To be honest, I was more like myself outside of uni, then I was at uni. I wouldn't stay around for long. I went to class and went home or to the embassy after, unlike in high school. It just didn't feel quite right.

The best thing of it all was meeting one of my best friends in uni. If I keep any memory from those 3 years, it would be my friendship with her. Even though we're in different countries now, and continents and timezones too, I'm thankful that there's facebook, twitter, whatsapp and bbm for us to keep in touch. Oh and skype too, but timezone issues go into play here.

So since today is Wednesday, it's time for sushi and cheesecake. Just like the we would use to do.

St Pancras at Night

This is my view on my way home from work. From Borehamwood & Elstree station, I travel via First Capital Connect, to St Pancras - Kings Cross Station. And then I get picked up by my dad's driver. The trip is about 30 to 40 minutes and they are mostly on time.

I miss this view. Rain or shine or snow or hail, this is the view I see. I miss the Starbucks I go to have coffee, where I believe it is covered with glass now, because the cold wind is too much sometimes. There's also Pret A Manger, beside Monsoon, where I go to avoid the gush of cold wind. There Boots and Marks & Spencer at the very end, where I buy 75p sandwiches and my favorite snacks, respectively.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Instragam 102: My World in Pictures

At night.

Cold day.


Westfield at Night

I came from a country with too many malls at each corner and; then when I arrived to London, they call it shopping centres and had more high streets for shopping than malls. So when plans of Westfield in White City came about, it was more curiosity than excitement. Claims that there was to come the biggest mall in Europe, well that had me curious for sure. 

And viola, here we were. 

Yes, it did became 'my mall'. In the sense, that it was 10 minutes train ride and 5 minutes walk from house to train station or 3 stops away. Like I did back in Manila, I could spend my whole day at the mall. Lunch, movie, coffee and dessert after, and a whole lot of window shopping. 

Champions of the Heart concert

It was quite rare for concerts with artists/singers from the Philippines to be held at London venues, like O2 Empire in Shepeherd's Bush, where concerts are actually being performed, because of the prices. It's usually more expensive to rent those kind of places than it is to rent local venues, and they would have to charge higher ticket prices too, and that's not really wise.

So here we are, waiting for the start of the Champion of the Hearts concert, featuring Christian Bautista and Erik Santos, guest starring Pooh. 

Front row and center! Love it. To be able to see Erik Santos and Christian Bautista and Pooh up close  and personal. I've always been a big fan of Christian Bautista and seen him perform a few times already. And everytime, I'm still such a big fan. He's just such a good performer and I secretly have my *fangirl* moments (screaming on the inside).

Monday, 5 November 2012

Lunch at ULU

After our friday class at uni, my bestfriend decided that we have lunch at ULU (University of London Union) for a change, since we didn't like staying at our campus long plus the food wasn't really that good. And oh I think we were gonna meet up with her classmate from Spain. And so here we were.

It seemed like a very chilled place to be for lunch and I kinda wished our uni had something like this. Hmm, there was a lot of restaurants and bars nearby to our uni, but I guess there was something different about this place. Maybe it was the ambiance of this place or the chairs and couches they had or of the students studying here. Maybe it was the food they served, just like they did at pubs. Or maybe, just maybe, we weren't too fond of our uni. Lol.

Millie's Cookies

Definitely one of my favorite cookies in London. After the whole day One Filipino event, I met up for brunch with a good friend of mine from High school who was in town for the event. We went at Westfield and ended up at Millie's cookies.

I like them because they're soft and sweet, just how I like them. I'm used to eating Millie's cookies because someone always brings them to meetings at the embassy. Since I was trying not to eat too much chocolate, I tried the Oatmeal & Raisin and Raspberry & White cookies. If I had to choose chocolate, I would pick White Chocolate and Milk Chocolate cookies.

To top off my sweet tooth craving, I ordered a Vanilla Milkshake. Yum!

Millie's cookies at Westfield London, White City, also has a nice sit down area, to enjoy all of Millie's cookies goodness!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

One Filipino

Let's just focus first on the stickers here. One Filipno was a project spearheaded by my good friends, where people with alike minds gather to discuss different aspects of us being Filipinos. Check for more details.

The next thing we focus is on the bottle. I was in charge of materials and getting volunteers together. I had trouble finding this bottles (minus the stickers).

Marky (one of the project heads and my good friend) suggested this water bottles that he used at home. It's reusable and looks fancier than just plastic bottles. But I just couldn't find it. I checked most grocery store, well mostly Waitrose, for this water bottle that he was talking about. Plus I didn't understand what was so special about it. He ended up buying all the bottles in the picture. I put the stickers to make look neat. Oh how I wish I actually kept one of these. I wonder where this are now.....

Airport departures make me sad

Yes indeed, airport departures make me sad. I realise how my friends felt about me leaving, as I was the one seeing good friends off. It's a bit different, since I stand and wave goodbye and see you later at the departure gate. So bittersweet and it scared me because I felt at that time, sooner or later, I would be leaving London. And it was hard, but there was no choice. Well that is for later.

Embassy life

This is how I typically spend my evenings, after work or uni, I wait for my dad to finish work and we go home together. I could go home ahead of him, well sometimes if he has late meetings or dinner meetings. But since I'm lazy and quite tired to commute after work or uni, I just wait for him (sometimes asleep in the car). I don't mind waiting, although sometimes it does get boring, but I get to catch on sleep. 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Genie's Restaurant (restaurant)

Mostly the food served here is Thai. But we get served something off the menu. Chicken barbeque is one of my favorites they serve for us. They also served pansit (noodles) and fried rice. Always good and filling. Sarap! I remember celebrating my mom's birthday here in 2010 I think. It was a tuesday so it was just us and a few good close friends. Good times....

The spiral staircase is really a nice touch to this restaurant. There is a big enough space in between steps so as to be careful when going up and down. The upstairs can be reserved for special occasions, like we once did for a Kapihan. One sunday, there was a dialogue among Filipino community leaders in regards to migration and Filipino diaspora. We were served coffee and porridge, or Arroz Caldo as we Filipinos like it.

It's a really cozy place where a lot of locals go to. Neighbours come here to catch up for dinner and a glass of wine. There's also a piano here, not sure if you can recognise it from the picture. But if I remember correctly, there's a jazz pianist on the evenings of Friday's and Saturday's, which locals sing along to and dance along to as well. 

As you can see, the bar is full of different kinds of drinks. So you can find definitely something to suit your taste. 

For a Filipino-owned restaurant in London, this is definitely one that I enjoy going back to. Though they don't serve Filipino food, the  ambiance and food are still worth a visit.

Genie's Restaurant,
6 Portland Road,
Holland Park,
London,W11 4LA

One rose. Three roses.

Buy a long-stem single rose. Simple and sweet. (...and cheap too!)

Three roses often represent three words:
I like you. I love you. I miss you. I want you. 
You are beautiful. You are loved. You are special.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Imperial Wharf at Night

Walking home from the Thai restaurant, and this is the view I see. It's so nice to look at, plus makes it so sentimental to walk home to. During one weekend in September, they hold a music Jazz festival, which is packed with people, local residents and their friends. I've been to it once, and I loved it! A laid-back feeling to spend it with good company and they sell food too, outside of their restaurants, for everyone to enjoy!

And this is what I walk home to.... along River Thames, the lights make it so nice to walk home to and to spend with good friends. I've got some memorable moments with people close to me, and I still remember each moment it quite clearly. The lights across the river reflect to the water, and it's another sight to look at. Although I wouldn't recommend to spend too much time here during weather and at night. Awfully freezing cold! 

Restaurant blues

Aside from wanting to eat where food is great, another thing to consider is the ambiance of the restaurant. Just like this Thai restaurant in Imperial Wharf, where the place seems so fancy and the waiting staff were just so accommodating. I enjoy that about restaurants, plus we spend more time talking than actually eating sometimes. Lol.

Here in the Philippines, you'll find a lot of good restaurants here with a nice ambiance. I'm just gonna take it one restaurant at a time.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Chinatown, London

Chinese New Year in Chinatown, 2012. I definitely spent a lot of dinners here. Not because I'm chinese, but because it was close enough to the Philippine Embassy and most of my Filipino friends craved for rice and cheap dinner, thus here we were!

I remember Crispy Duck, Wong Kei, Hung's, Kung's, Yung's, Cafe C & R, Golden Pagoda, Golden Jade, Mr Wu, Loong Fung Restaurant, Leong's Legends I & II, Harbor City.

There were also Japanese restaurants (Misato), Korean, Vietnamese (the Vietnamese restaurant) and obviously the Oriental 'fusion' restaurants.

The stand outs were the pubs, Costa, Pizza Express and the other Italian restaurant, which I never went in to eat.

Definitely a lot of good moments here, and I'd definitely be back for dinner one day.


Life in London consisted of meetings at the Philippine Embassy. This was for One Filipino, in preparation for a town hall meeting back in early 2011. As you can see, I would be the only girl in the group. But then my presence is much more needed to make sure things don't go out of order on the actually day. I was more the observer to make sense of all that has been said.

There was more of a back story to why I was here too. If I didn't (so-called) attend this meetings, I wouldn't actually be able to talk or see my two good guy friends, who were spearheading this project. Oh well, feels so long ago now. So many things have happened since then - good and bad, but that is for another day.

Btw, the pink jacket is mine.