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Monday, May 20, 2019

 One of the most dreaded things that a person has to undergo would be to transact with the government. Unfortunately, we all have to experience this as good citizens. Most if not all would always have some business with the LAND TRANSPORTATION OFFICE or LTO.
This post is about my experience in renewing my non-professional driver's license at the SM NORTH EDSA LTO office in the government's one stop shop in the Annex.  I had an expired license that was roughly 5 months overdue. Good news: everything went perfectly fine.
When you arrive, you will be greeted by 3rd party stalls such as this clinic where you should get your medical exam. You need to fill up a form, pay for the exam, and wait for your number to be called.
Once you're up, you have an eye exam where they will check your eyes through a machine and ask you to read a line on the wall.
After checking your weight, you are interviewed by the doctor. From here, they take a photo of you and print a document which you will need for the LTO.
 Going through this process would take 5 minutes tops if there is no line. After getting your documents, go further in the space to see the LTO desk at the back end. There, you need to submit the paperwork together with your old driver's license. Thankfully, you won't need to answer any forms. They will check your license for hits and liabilities and will then ask you to take a photo.
 Afterwards, you would need to visit the SM CASHIER which is a few desks away. Granted that there is a small convenient fee (I think about 5 Php), this was pretty fast and painless. I had to pay extra since I had an expired license. After paying, you show your papers back to the LTO desk and then they will ask you to go to a back room.
 In the back room, there are two terminals where staff will input your information. You will submit your papers here together with your old license. According to the new rules, you must surrender your old license. You will be able to see the information on screen to double check everything. 
They will then take your photo and ask for biometrics together with a signature for your license.
 Everything ends with you signing out on a piece of paper and receiving your brand new license.
Thankfully, I underwent the entire process in less than an hour. The medical exam took roughly 30 minutes as I was 15th in line. The LTO process though was extremely fast. I believe it only took me less than 20 minutes.
This is how government should work. Painless and easy with the end user in mind. Thank you very much LTO OFFICE SM NORTH EDSA.

Government One Stop Shop

Disclaimer: Wrote this based on my experience. I paid for my license.
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Monday, May 13, 2019

Interesting how the market for Chinese food hasn't really changed in the past year that I was gone from Manila. People are still going gaga over it. I still remember all the craze with the buns and properly cooked dimsum. At Marco Polo's Lung Hin, they would capitalize on the fact that they enjoy having one of the best Chinese Restaurants in the Ortigas Area. LUNG HIN has been known as a the place to enjoy unparalleled views together with scrumptious Chinese Dishes.
Just a few weeks ago, LUNG HIN introduced their PREMIUM DIM SUM LUNCH SET. BY choosing this, guests are able to enjoy unlimited servings of dimsum together with select choices of appetizers,  soup, main course, and dessert.
If you're not familiar with dismum, this would be an excellent place to start. Given that you are handed with tons of choices to pick from, you can't go wrong with any of them. Plus, you get top quality dishes.
If you ask me, I'll go for the tried and tested picks that I learned to love and hold dear.  The Pork Siu Mai with truffle sauce is a twist in it's own. Usually, you see this as a tiny meat flavored dish at supermarkets. Here, it's elevated in a sense that premium ingredients are used. The fact that they added truffles makes everything full circle. 
If meat is not up your alley, the Shrimp Dumpling or Hakaw might be your best bet. Their version is packed with real shrimps and topped with gold leaf. They just make everything here luxurious.
More than just shrimp, they even have scallops as a form of dumplings. The addition of corn bits gave it a bit of a crunch.
Aside from the baked barbecue pork buns, the fried glutinous rice dumpling is a treat. The rice shell is incredibly hot so be very careful when getting it on.
Furthermore, your rice and noodles are also unlimited. You could go for something stir fried or maybe just rice. This had shredded pork and was extremely delicious. It wasn't too oily nor was it overpowering.
On the other hand of the spectrum, you're given tons of choices for your "real meal". Unlike the dimsum, these dishes are not unlimited but would definitely fit the bill.
The Stir Fried Squid with mashed salted egg is perfect for salted egg lovers. This one is actually great with plain rice.
For soup, you could choose between the spinach and the hot and sour. I chose the latter as I tend to stay away from "too healthy" dishes. Each person in the group gets to pick their soup, appetizer, Hong Kong Barbecue, and dessert. For the Main Course, you get to pick based on the number of people dining in. If there are 1 to 2 persons, they get to pick 1 dish. If there are 3 to 4, two main dishes may be chosen and so on.
Since we were a large group, we were able to pick a number of main courses. The HOT PRAWN SALAD can be anyone's favorite. Huge prawns are deep fried and covered with a special sauce.
Visiting a Chinese restaurant would not be complete without sweet and sour pork. These deep fried goodies are coated with a tangy sauce that makes it great for kids and kids at heart. Having berries gives them a contrast to the sweet flavor.
Another excellent main dish would be the Spare ribs with black vinegar sauce. The jolt from the vinegar would wake up your taste buds. Again, plain rice would work with this one.
Dessert is a choice between mango pudding, mango sago with coconut milk, and chilled coffee jelly.
The Premium DIM SUM LUNCH SET is available from Monday to Saturdays lunch time. It's at 1,888Php with a 25% discount as well.
Marco Polo's Lung Hin is located on the 44th floor of the hotel. With unparalleled views of the Ortigas Skyline, this Chinese restaurant has an impressive track record that makes you wonder how they have unbelievably affordable price points. Impeccable dining service and delicious dishes, LUNG HIN is a must visit when in Ortigas.

Meralco Avenue and Sapphire Street
Ortigas Center
San Antonio, Pasig, Metro Manila

Disclaimer: Wrote this based on my experience.
Was invited to check out this new offer from Marco Polo.
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Monday, May 6, 2019

Options. These are the things that makes us wonder "what's next?". With buffet places left and right, diners would ask themselves this question every single time they eat. At Diamond Hotel Manila, they try to give guests all the food possibilities that they could handle.
Corniche has been DIAMOND HOTEL'S go to buffet restaurant. It's here that they serve everything but the kitchen sink. On Friday Dinner time, they started doing the SEAFOOD COOKED A LA MINUTE. The spread has some added seafood that you get to pick and cooked based on your preference.
You could have your fill of squid, shrimp, huge shrimp, and even lobsters.
You don't even have to worry about everything because they cook everything for you then they deliver the dish to your table. You could have these babies baked, grilled, cooked with butter and garlic and more. Personally, I enjoy the rock lobster baked with tons of cheese.
These in addition to a plethora of appetizers, Chinese dishes, Filipino cuisine, and even a whole Japanese station that could be a restaurant in itself with all their spot on offerings.
Furthermore, this is in addition to their already loaded meat section. You could ask for steaks and other marinated meat to be cooked right there and then as well.
To be honest it was a lot to take in but that's what a buffet of this caliber is. Giving you everything that you may need and want right there and then.
Oh and don't forget about the carving station as well.
Dessert was also a blast. They have a bunch of sweet delicacies to choose from. There are cakes, in house gelatos, and a chocolate fountain to indulge in.
Thank you very much Corniche for having us. They have Seafood Fridays every Friday Dinner time.


Roxas Boulevard, Corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila, 
1000 Metro Manila
(02) 528 3000

And yes there are tons of MEAT as well.

Disclaimer:Wrote this based on my experience and opinion. I was invited to experience this meal.
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Sunday, May 5, 2019

SURPRISINGLY, I got home to a package of grapes. As I was coming close to it, I found out that they're from our friends from Down Under. To be specific, these grapes were from Australia. Since they are now in season, I can't help but be glad to receive this package. 
Granted that it may not be my name on the package, (our helper did check the manifest and it did say my correct name) I overlooked this because these are awesome grapes from Australia. I am not joking when I say that they are super fresh and sweet. 
I'm also happy that these grapes are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, calcium, and vitamin C. They're also a great source of water to help rehydrate our body. Just pop them in the ref for a few hours to get them ice cold.
Furthermore, TASTE AUSTRALIA is giving away Gift Certificates worth 2,500 Php weekly to chosen readers. It's pretty simple. 
"We encourage everyone to post their most creative photo featuring table grapes accompanied by the wittiest of captions.
  • To join, one must simply LIKE and FOLLOW Taste Australia Philippines’ Facebook and Instagram. "
  • Simply post your creative entries and TAG US by using the following hashtags: #ItsAGrapeDay #TasteAustralia #AustralianTableGrapes #FunWithGrapes.
  • Posts must be set to public in order for us to track your entries.
  • All concepts are welcome.
These grapes are now available in Rustan's, Shopwise, Wellcome, S&R, Robinson's and all major supermarket.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored.
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Monday, April 8, 2019

 Some friends has been asking me where I stayed in Las Vegas. I told them, I went for an affordable yet clean and comfortable hotel. When I told them that I stayed at THE HOOTERS HOTEL, their faces were full of questions. Believe it or not, this restaurant chain has a Las Vegas Hotel right at the end of the famous strip. It's located just in front of the MGM grand making it quite ideal for a tourist to check out and stay at.
As you enter, you might notice that there is a distinct smell of cigarette smoke. If this bothers you, remember to reserve a room on the non-smoking floor. Also, it's because the first floor has a number of slot machines and table games were you could play.  
Check-in time isn't as strict as other places. As long as you get there an hour or two or if your room is prepared, they can definitely give you the card. 
 ROOM wise, it was pretty basic. It is a 3 star hotel after all. The a/c is pretty old but still works fine. The television has all the basic cable needs. The toilet is pretty basic but clean. Unfortunately, they don't have a bidet here. I guess most hotels in the US doesn't have those.
 Since I went during the Winter, the pool was closed. Unfortunately, it could get a little too cold for a swim. In terms of dining, they have a number of establishments on the ground floor. Of course, there is the HOOTERS restaurant that is always packed during dinner. There's a diner type restaurant as well. If you forgot to bring toiletries or other essential needs, they have gift shop that doubles as a convenient store.
 Always go for their wings and if you're a fan, don't forget about the pickles.
The place isn't really as glam and wonderful as other hotels on the strip. BUT, if you're looking for a clean room and isn't as expensive as the other hotels, this would be your bet. It's one of the few hotels in the area that has free parking spaces (no need to validate your stubs).  Also, it's walking distance to the strip. For me, this is the perfect place to sleep in especially if you don't want to pay extra for something you could easily get.

115 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Disclaimer: Wrote this based on my experience. Paid for my stay and meals.
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