The Hungry Diner at South Diner

Ever since my nine-year-old self sat down with my family to feast on burgers and fries at the 50’s Diner on Session Road in Baguio City, I’ve had a soft spot for diner food. A plate’s got all my favorite food groups (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), making it the ultimate comfort food. I’ve never met a diner I didn’t like, simply because I stick to the foods that diners excel at: burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

One of my friends from high school, Tin Isidro, opened a place called South Diner last December 5 with her husband Ginno and some business partners. Due to hectic schedules I wasn’t able to attend their soft opening, but tonight was the perfect time to bring together some of my friends for a girls’ dinner out.

South Diner, Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Paranaque

South Diner

I arrived earlier than Julia and Chok, the other two girls I was having dinner with, which was funny since I came from Pasig and had traveled all the way down south (anything south of BGC Taguig seems really far to me), while they were just within the area.

Right from the get-go, the huge retro-style sign grabbed my attention. The interiors also did not disappoint, with the cheery red-and-white upholstery, checkerboard flooring, and waiters and waitresses in uniform. The only thing missing was a jukebox, but Tin explained that a genuine vintage jukebox cost around P150,000 (yikes!).

Anyway, what I was really after was some food. An hour’s drive (without traffic) makes me a hungry diner.

South Diner, Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Paranaque

What this table needs is some food!

The menu has several sections,and depending on your food mood you could be ordering breakfast (available all day), sandwiches, steaks & ribs, kiddie meals, and the usual suspects burgers & fries. For sweets, there are dessert selections, and different flavors of milkshake with a choice between regular or extra-thick texture.

Paying no heed to the growing spare tire around my midsection, I ordered my favorite diner combo.

South Diner, Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Paranaque

Strawberry Milkshake with Burger and Fries

South Diner, Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Paranaque

Was I hungry, or was I hungry?

It may not look like much, but diner food has always tasted better than it looks. This burger is their Philly Bacon Jack (P145), with bacon and Monterey Jack cheese over a real beef patty. I gotta tell you, that burger was incredibly filling. The beef patty was heavy, without extenders. Fries weren’t very greasy since they’d just come out of the fryer. In combination with a strawberry milkshake (P95), I was in heaven!

The food arrived within 10 minutes of when my order was taken. Because I hate allowing food to get cold, I finished it in about the same amount of time. Well, I had to leave a morsel of the burger on the plate because I was just too full!

But I wasn’t done with eating yet. When Julia finally arrived two hours later, she ordered one of South Diner’s best-sellers: the Porky Pig (P140). It’s two pork chops encased in batter, fried, and topped with applesauce, served with two fried eggs, mango salsa, and your choice of garlic rice, plain rice, or mashed potatoes. Despite the diner being nearly full, Julia’s dish arrived quickly.

South Diner, Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Paranaque

Porky Pig

Often I encounter pork chops that have been overcooked so that the meat inside is tough; the only thing that makes it palatable is the sauce. This pork chop dish, though, was unexpectedly moist and tender all the way through. The highlight for me though was the mashed potatoes, which were made with real potato and butter, slightly chunky. I’m drooling again now just thinking about it.

If you ever find yourself down in the BF Paranaque area, do check out South Diner for some great eats. Ü

South Diner is at 303 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque beside PureGold.

Trippin’ in KL

I’ve been traveling to the same place repeatedly for two years, so I was truly happy that Nuffnang Philippines tagged me along with other guest bloggers and the Philippine finalists to the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. It was an amazing and exciting four days traveling with some of the country’s most interesting bloggers (in my honest opinion)!

Malaysia: NAPBAS

2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards

I’ll be writing more about the NAPBAS in my other blog, but I wanted to write separately about the traveling, sightseeing, and food tripping I did.  Read more

Sendong Out My Love

So, the weekend I’m out of the country enjoying myself in Malaysia, a typhoon devastates Cagayan de Oro and other provinces. I was on BlackBerry Unlimited services with DiGi, a Malaysian provider, so I was able to read Twitter and keep up with the news. It didn’t quite hit home, though, until my friend Joel sent us some pictures over BBM.

I met Joel many years ago in Boracay. We go to the same church and are part of the same triathlon team, and I consider him one of the most level-headed sane guy friends a girl can ever find. He got married last year, and he and his wife Audrey relocated to CDO with her daughter, Nicole. According to Joel, there were so many business opportunites to be had in CDO and he was really excited to build a life there. They had just welcomed a baby daughter, Sandy, to their family a few weeks ago.

And then, Typhoon Sendong came.

Water reached midway up their second floor.

Water reached midway up their second floor.

Baby Sandy's crib

Baby Sandy's crib

Joel, Audrey, Nicole, and Sandy are fine, but the home they had so carefully made for themselves was brutally devastated in just a few hours of rain. And they’re not alone; many other CDO, Iligan, and Zamboanga residents escaped with just their lives — and some didn’t.

My friends and tri team are extending help to Joel and his family, but there is so much more to be done for others as well. If you’re still wondering how you can help, the Philippine Red Cross is accepting donations. You can also use your cellphone’s prepaid load or postpaid credit to send a donation. Text RED <AMOUNT> to 2899 (Globe) or 4143 (Smart). Denominations are 5/25/50/100/300/500/1000. You can also drop off donations in kind at any LBC branch nationwide. What people reallyneed now is clean drinking water.

Sendong Relief

Sendong Relief

Check out for more ways you can help. Natural disasters come at any time of the year, but this season is supposed to be a time of celebrating with loved ones and remembering that Christ was born to lay down his life for us. Let’s lay down our materialistic desires and donate now to save others’ lives.

I’m Going to Malaysia!

The last time I used my passport was in 2008, and it’ll expire next year! So I’m really excited that it’ll make its last hurrah this weekend when I go to Malaysia for the Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

Aside from hobnobbing with the who’s who of the Asia Pacific blogosphere and meeting fellow bloggers from other countries, I’m really excited to travel outside the country again. I’ve never been to Malaysia.

The NAPBAS will be held at the Putrajaya Marriott Hotel (in a district 25 kilometers away from Kuala Lumpur), but we’ll be shuttling in and out of KL for the afterparty on Friday, and a guided tour on Saturday. I’ve got one free day on Sunday and since the Petronas Towers aren’t on the tour’s itinerary, hopefully a few of the Filipino bloggers will want to visit it then.

I’m also really looking forward to running Putrajaya’s streets and seeing buildings such as the Putra Mosque.

Putra Mosque
It’s pink!

Shoe Love

Every few months I am seized by a desire to buy shoes. Several times, male friends have asked me, “What is it with women and shoes?”

Well, shoes can make or break an outfit, affect how you move, and are the only clothing item that won’t make you feel fat. My small closet space only allows me to buy new shoes only when old ones wear out, so this keeps my Imeldific tendencies at bay.

I never buy really expensive shoes though. I know shoes wear out, some faster than others, so I try to find great deals for shoes. That way, I don’t feel too bad when I have to get rid of a pair of shoes because they’re old, or dirty, or discolored. I can always buy new ones!

These three pairs of shoes are from Virtual Mae and I was able to buy them for P1,000. Yes, for all three! Multiply had a shoe fair early this year, and VM had a promo: buy two, get one more free. Aren’t they lovely?

Shoe Love: Heels from Virtual Mae

I also scour tiangge places for footwear. I found this pair at St. Francis Square. The quirky color combo ensures these sandals match almost anything I wear. The best part about tiangge shopping, though, is being able to bargain the prices down.

Shoe Love: Flats from St. Francis Square

For heels I like to shop at boutiques. I like being comfortable even in towering heels, and the boutiques usually carry a great selection. I’ve bought from People Are People numerous times, and what I like about the store is the sale prices — they slash about 50% off from tag prices after a certain time. These shoes only cost me P800!

Shoe Love: Heels from People Are People

Just this week I bought myself a pair of low boots, and I waited almost an hour to get them because the stockroom had lost the partner of the boot on display. The salespersons didn’t even bother telling me why my shoes were taking so long to be delivered, and I had to call the manager’s attention to my long wait time. Well, after growing white hairs on my chin, I finally got my boots for less than P800. They are LOVE!

Shoe Love: Boots from Landmark

I’m having my room remodeled in two weeks, but you can be sure I’ll always make room for shoes! What are your latest acquisitions?

Noelle’s Rules of Elevator Frustration

A few months ago my parents and I moved to a condo unit in Pasig. It’s cozy, easy to clean, and is very central because most of my work happens in the surrounding areas. However, moving from a house to a condo means we had to learn to deal with elevators — and how people use (and abuse) them.

Elevator symbol

I’ve been taking the elevators every day for a while now, and for a building with only five floors there is plenty to get frustrated about, such as people pressing the DOWN button to call the elevator down to their floor, but they intend to go UP. Or maybe the kids who seem to think the elevator is like an amusement park ride. But I’ve been able to condense all my ire and helplessness about the whole situation into the following five rules of thumb concerning what you’re going to be pissed at when using an elevator.

RULE #1: When you’re in a hurry, the elevator will make a stop at every floor.

RULE #2: It’s always headed the other way.

RULE #3: When you make a run for it you will miss it, no matter how fleet of foot you are.

RULE #4: Someone will get on who only needs to go down or up one floor.

RULE #5: Someone will fart or leave a smell that will be attributed to you.

Care to share any other elevator pet peeves or pains?

Dreaming of Traveling

Because of this photo of the Moai (otherwise known as the Easter Island statues), I’ve just spent the entire afternoon on Wikipedia reading about Easter Island’s history and how a whole people’s culture was basically lost. I like these kinds of days spent researching ancient cultures set in exotic locales because it almost feels like traveling there without having to spend a dime. Hehehe!

Lately I’ve also read Ursula K. LeGuin’s book Changing Planes. It’s a collection of her short stories about traveling between planes of existence, and the different cultures, societies, and beings that could exist on such planes. It’s fantasy yes, but once again I am transported to different places.

I’ve just finished rereading and reposting entries from my old travel blog. You can now read them by clicking on the “Travel” tab on my Categories menu. It’s been such a long time since I actually documented a trip for the sake of writing about it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere new, actually.

Hope you enjoy reading back on where I’ve been, and I hope I can add a new tale before the year ends. 🙂

Makeup or No Makeup

I love getting makeup done for shoots. Most of what I know about how to apply makeup I learned from how other people put makeup on me, but I still haven’t figured out how to do makeup that translates as simply flawless skin on camera. It usually looks like, yes, I’m wearing makeup.


This is how I look with makeup done by myself.

There have been some makeup disasters in the past — like when one makeup artist experimented on using green eyeshadow for my lids — but mostly I’ve been really pleased with how I get made up.

Makeup: for Women's Health
Makeup: for Christmas plug

Makeup: for Runners' World
They all look the same but were done by different people!

I usually reserve putting on makeup for special occasions, though, just to show a contrast between my regular self and my put-together self. I love getting dolled up but I never want to get used to wearing a “face” all the time. I did it before and disliked how sallow my skin looked without makeup. Going barefaced allows my skin to breathe, recover, and it’s so much less high-maintenance. And if babies can do it and still look great, why can’t adults? 😀

Makeup: No Makeup

photo by Hilary Isaac

I usually go out wearing nothing on my face but some moisturizer (with SPF included). So what’s your everyday face routine?

Drinking Up!

So many different drinks, so little time… I normally try to stay away from drinking my calories (hence I often just drink hot black tea with a little Splenda in the mix), but lately it’s been hard not to try out various milk tea, coffee, and even juice places. Here’s where I’ve gone in the past few months.


The last time I drank a milk tea with pearls, it was at an Ersao branch on E. Rodriguez two years ago. I’d been craving that for some time and Happy Lemon didn’t do it for me (the pearls are so small!) so when I heard about this place called Chatime from my sister and her husband, I was so there. My drink is a pearl milk tea with 25% sugar and less ice. Being the milk tea place with plenty of branches, I can always count on a Chatime to satisfy my cravings.


This place is a favorite of some online friends, mentioned plenty on their Twitter accounts. The branch in Burgos Circle was the most accessible when I had a milk tea craving in the BGC area, so I went and got myself a milk tea with pearls (I figure it’s easier to compare between milk tea places when you order the same thing at each of them).
The milk tea mix itself tastes a little grassy, like it’s been infused with that smell the ground has when it’s been dampened by rain. The pearls were a little less firm than Chatime’s. I was already at 50% sugar but it still didn’t pack that zing I was looking for. Hmm. Wrong drink, maybe?

Gong Cha

My sister and I were at Megamall during their last 3-day sale when I spotted a red kiosk at the Atrium. They were on soft opening, but I could see plenty of people already lining up. This Gong Cha must be good, I thought.
Gong Cha
That was the first day my love affair with Gong Cha began. I even came up with a song about it. “Gong Cha wish your milk tea was strong like me, Gong Cha wish your milk tea was fun like me, Gong Chaaaaaaaa!” My drink here was their house special wintermelon tea with additional pearls. I really love the Gong Cha cream (which is like the Happy Lemon cream cheese, less the saltiness) which blends with my tea as I sip it, creating an ever-creamier drink until the last drop.

Drink Tea

I spotted this place at Podium a few weeks ago while binge-eating Indian food at New Bombay. We couldn’t try it out back then because we were so full, but I came back the other day and ordered my usual: a milk tea with the least amount of sugar possible.
Drink Tea

The pearls were red, a departure from the black pearls I’d been used to. They also had a different flavor, as if the sago mix contained a little cherry essence. Mmm! I’ll definitely be back.

Jamba Juice

I missed my invitation to the private launch event for Jamba Juice because it landed in my Spam folder, but it piqued my curiosity enough to warrant a visit.
Jamba Juice
Aside from its imported name and imagery, nothing really makes Jamba Juice stand out from its local counterparts which have been here for some time (owners possibly inspired by a visit to a Jamba Juice in the US). Mondo Juice in Galleria has the same blended frozen fruit and juice concept, and at a cheaper price. I ordered here the Five Fruit Frenzy, managed to finish it all, but didn’t experience my tastebuds dancing in my mouth. I think I’ll just make fruit shakes at home.

Blenz Coffee

Like I said, I’m a hot tea drinker, but when Nuffnang invited a few bloggers and myself to a coffee break at Blenz Coffee in BGC where we would learn to do latte art, I jumped at it. I mean, where else do you have license to play with your food?

Apparently, when you pull your espresso shot correctly, and when the milk temperature is just right, you can create pretty pictures when pouring the milk into your latte, and the color swirls should hold. It’s supposed to be one of the hallmarks of a good latte. Here I am with my monkey-face latte.
Blenz Coffee

We also got to try out their Belgian chocolate drinks, which are made with Belgian chocolate bars melted in hot milk. So good! But what really stuck with me was their matcha latte. It’s real Japanese matcha (green tea leaves ground to a fine powder) blended with water using a bamboo whisk, which means it doesn’t clump up and look like pond scum. I’ve been on the hunt for a Blenz matcha latte fix since then.

Any other places I should try out? 🙂

A Little Bit of Catching Up

I figured since you missed me (yes, you stalker, you), I should give a little update on what I’ve done this year. Two things stand out for being quite out of the ordinary for normal human beings.

First thing is, I’ve been to Boracay not just once, or twice, but thrice this year! I kind of regret it now because I didn’t really do anything new except for island hopping with my balikbayan cousin and her husband last October. I promise next year I’ll be spending less on travel to that particular island, and more on travel to other places. I’d like to use my passport more.

Beauty & the Beach: Sunset

The second thing is, I dislocated my elbow! It was a freak bike accident, happening at a very slow speed when I’d finished my ride. I was riding up a ramp at a gas station when my rear wheel hit an edge and I keeled over sideways. I broke my fall with my hand, and my elbow gave way. It took me about six weeks to get my elbow back up to a full range of motion, but it’s taken far longer to get my fitness back, and I still don’t think I’m up to snuff. It’s definitely made me a bit more careful and less of a daredevil when it comes to trying new things.

Freak Accident:X-Ray

I guess that’s all for now.