Friday, March 8, 2013

Manila Part 2: Intramuros and Pan de Amerikana Restaurant

After a night at Manila, I realised Filipinos tend to wake up very early by default. My Nanay and her daughter were up by 0730hrs while I found myself still making a muah chee out of myself on the bed. We ourselves on the way to Intramuros with Levis being the lead guide cum driver... but not before stopping by to have a good hearty traditional filipino breakfast! It cost around 200 pesos which was less than 10 SGD.

I didn't get the address of this roadside eating place place so it was a real pity. Filipino chicken adobo is a a popular must try dish in Phillipines. It is a style of cooking involving vinegar, ginger and very rich sauce. It is probably the equilavent of the Singapore Chicken Curry or Braised Pork Trotters or Babi Pongteh (if you come from a baba/nyonya family like me). I tried many an adobo dish during my trip and there seems to be no distinct fixed taste. EVERY adobe dish be it chicken or pork has a unique taste that is special only to that stall or cooking method.

A lousy picture of the spread!
Another dish that I tried was pork intestines with pork blood. My Nanay proudly proclaimed this her late husband's favourite dish so I had to try this! Surprisingly, it was quite good and there was no
strong or awful taste.

The dish that I personally enjoyed most was a pumpkin potato dish that came with long beans and ikan bilis. This dish was awesome because the potato was soft and sweet while the long beans added some bounce into the dish. To top it up, the flavour was further enhanced by Ikan Bilis! Pity I didn't get the name though!

Last to arrive was fried milkfish with coconut. It was clear to see why this fish was a staple of the normal filipino diet. The flesh was rich and the slight hint of coconut gave the fried fish a delicate but sweet taste. You could say that the coconut taste caressed the slightly fried taste of the fish!

I never had a friendly face and the public probably viewed me with reserve but there was a contained surprise on the stall chef and owner's eyes as he saw how I feasted on his offerings! After seeing how I loved having Chilli Padis with my meal, he also personally brought over a jar of Chilli Padis marinated in brine and offered me some Chilli. He even exclaimed that the next time I come, he would prepare for me an entire jar! We would later take a picture together and go on to exchange a hug. This was something that I called - "bonding with the locals." I fully appreciated the good spread of traditional filipino dishes and I enjoyed what I would describe as "zing" in the taste of the food. There was a certain taste to filipino dishes that I couldn't find back home. They were somewhat rich with taste - perhaps from the natural goodness of land since alot of their food is home grown.

Pity I closed my eyes! A picture with the stall owner!

After a dessert of fresh mangoes (the crew convinced me that this was also a must try - and it was!), we were soon on the way to Intramuros. It would be a 40 minutes Journey and these are some interesting sights I saw while travelling...

This is actually a post office!

Power to the lord

The way of life

Yep, save the world!
As we drove into Intramuros, I could see the Spanish origins of this famous walled city of Manila. In fact, there was a great battle between the Japanese Army in 1951 at Fort Santiago which I would later visit! More information on Intramuros can be found in Wikipedia!

This was exciting actually

First stop was actually Fort Santiago and an unpleasant entrance fee to enter Fort Santiago! It was probably acceptable for a foreigner to pay but I felt that locals should be given free admission. Afterall, its part of their heritage albeit now a tourist attraction. Needless to say, I paid a premium for the crew to get in (adults 75 pesos, children 50 pesos)

Welcome to Fort S!

It was kind of humbling to read that the place was built in 1571... It felt magical in a way to be stepping in this very place which was full of rich history though Fort Santiago probably seemed very underated! Yes yes I know I'm a sucker for history and cultral ingestion but the ancient ruins, construction and history kept me going.

Old old walls?
Having some fun parading!
Posing and enjoying ourselves
walking with a limp but still going strong

View from the side
History of Fort Santiago

The dungeons!

Well, you have to have some solo pictures right!

Particularly liked the view from here

There was a memorial within Fort Santiago which remembered Jose Rizal. Levis called him the Phillipines "War Hero" and "Patriot". It was curious and amusing to see Levis so engrossed with reading the historical texts and exploring the area though. In a way, it became an educational tour for both Levis and me. It vindicated the fees I paid in a way! In fact, Levis would even later go on to say that he felt like a tourist himself during our time together on our road trips!

And as I walked around doing my tourist rounds, I saw Manila Cathedral far far away snugged in a corner! It was an amazing sight as it peaked out of the corner from atop Fort Santiago. I made Manila Cathedral my next objective and it was only a short 10 minutes walk away!

Manila Cathedral in all its glory!

Onward to glory?
After the cathedral though, it was already afternoon and we tried to avoid the famous Manila jams by going back to Marikina early... well... we escaped half the jam I guess.... hahaha... We holed up in a restaurant recommended by Levis. The Pan De Amerikana Restaurant... It was a great place with creative artworks and displays. I fully appreciated the unique feel of the place!

I had my usual fare of traditional Filipino fare again with trys of Pork Sisig (Hotplate pork with egg) and Pork Sinigang (Some hearty pork soup). I was curious about Filipino dessert this time having read the filipinos were crazy about their desserts and sweet treats. I ordered the Halo Halo and Bilo Bilo! Bilo Bilo was rice balls, yam, coconut milk mixed into a semi hot mixture while the Halo Halo was almost the same except that it was shaved ice with evaporated milk and beans, peanut butter (yes!!!), sweet potato, jackfruit, nata de coco, coconut and even palm sugar! It was like our local Singaporean Chendol but with more zing...especially the peanut butter!

As the name implies...

Great decor!

Simple menu
Halo Halo!

Halo Halo from far

BBQ chicken

Fried Tilapia

Halo Halo

Pork sinigang

Pork Sisig!
Here are more pictures of the restaurant decor...

This was particularly nice... imagine chilling out playing chess

Theres a water and condiments station!

This was also interesting. Wash your hands! These vases had taps!
 Well, after dinner we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our long trip the next day... To the famous Taal Volcano! The smallest active volcano in the world! In Part 3...

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