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Northern (gustatory) pride…

How “original” can an offering be the moment you take them from the very contexts that made them thrive to begin with?

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Every region (if not every town) in the Philippines has their own gustatory offerings that sort of define them – e.g. Bicol Express in, obviously, Bicol; bagnet in Ilocos; guapple pie of Negros; and so on…

This is why – when one is just in Metro Manila – when seeing all those “original such-and-such” offerings of various restos, supposedly with their preparations learned from the regions these offerings originated from, one can only really… frown. Because how “original” can an offering be the moment you take them from the very contexts that made them thrive to begin with?

This is the thought that stays in the mind when thinking of Ilocos’ empanada and okoy, particularly after one has tried those offered in Vigan City’s Nanang Sion.





WHAT’S THERE

There are actually two branches of Nanang Sion (as per the apo or grandchild of Nanang Sion herself) – one is by the plaza/near the church in downtown Vigan City (this is the “main” branch), and another one in one of the streets parallel to Crisologo (that tourist trap portion of the city, where just about every tourist has his/her pic taken). The former is a more “formal” resto; but the latter – if I may say so – has more character, with the apo’s collections of everything old (vintage, if you must).

There are wooden tables, and chairs and benches scattered on two floors, and adding to that “being in an old place” vibe/feel.

But – more apparent – are the owner’s collections of… just about everything, from rebulto (statues of holy people or saints) to scooters to bikes to kalesa (horse carriage) wheels, and so on. And while many are placed on pedestals, there are some that are made to be – literally – parts of the place, e.g. the bicycles that were cemented on the walls.

If it’s “character” you want, then this one’s worth a check, indeed.

WHY GO THERE

But – recognizing that ambiance is but part of the attraction – if there’s one thing that will make you come here, this can be summed in one word: FOOD.

Must try are:

  1. Empanada (super special, P65) – I’ve traveled to various parts of northern Philippines a lot of times, and while there, many always tell me to try the local empanada. But – considering the number of people who recommends empanada – I can’t fathom the fuss about it. In my mind (and from what I tasted) it’s nothing really special, just a combo of longganisa/chorizo with either scraped green papaya or thinly chopped cabbage, plus egg thrown in, and then wrapped in dough before being fried.
    And then I tried Nanang Sion’s empanada, and I now sorta get the hype. I’d say this: if done really well, empanada is really tasty. And this one (so far) has been the tastiest empanada from somewhere north of the Philippines for me.
  2. Okoy (with egg and longganisa, P55) – This one is also a surprise because okoy, as we know it, is nothing but fried: shrimps with veggies (some use carrots or kamote), and then coated in flour. Now be honest, how many times have you eaten okoy and actually complain with that hair-like strands from the shrimp heads? With Nanang Sion, though, the okoy is actually… succulent, with the shrimp juicy and (thanks to the longganisa) tasty.

The servings are big, BTW. So if you end up unable to finish what was given you because you’re too full already, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you…

If hungrier and in search of “real” meals (not merienda or snacks), there are “silogs” – e.g. bagnet (P150) and longganisa (P120), and the “common” corned beef (P90), siomai (P90), hotdog (P90), et cetera.

If it’s just me, though, I’d say stick to the food that has been helping define Ilocos. That way, you avoid getting disappointed…

And so, yes, empanada and okoy are good starts…

WHY AVOID IT

To start, heading to Vigan isn’t in everybody’s list of to-do. And truth be told, even when driving (instead of commuting), going there takes a while. So for those who have… aversion to long trips, then this isn’t for you.

If- I suppose – you’re a local and already have had enough empanada and okoy to last you a lifetime, then…

IN THE END…

But – let me say this – the next time someone mentions “original such-and-such” to you, and you’re having that offering outside its original context, it’s always better to have them where they (first and originally really) made them. That way, you’d be able to tell how “real” or “fake” the offering has become.

And as far as some of the best northern gustatory delights are concerned, I’d say head to Vigan City. And give Nanang Sion a try while there; for less than P100, you’d understand why “eating local” continues to be the best way to appreciate delicacies…

Nanang Sion is at Plaridel St, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Vigan City isn’t THAT big of a place. Ask around NOT just for the location of Nanang Sion, but also where else you can grab what’s good there. I’ve encountered shy Ilocanos who demur when speaking with us outsiders; but almost always, they try as much as they can to help out and lead you where you wanna go or – for that matter – where they think you ought to head to best enjoy being there…



Believing that knowing on its own is not good enough, "you have to share what you know, too", Mikee dela Cruz gladly shares through his writing. A (BA) Communication Studies graduate, he had stints with UNAIDS, UNICEF and Ford Foundation, among others, writing "just about everything". Read on as he does some sharing through Zest Magazine.

Destinations

Fisher Mall launches first roller skating rink in Malabon

Malabon’s first and premier roller skating destination. Located on the 4th floor of Fisher Mall Malabon, RollerDisco combines the energy of roller skating and the nostalgia of disco, offering an opportunity for everyone to create lasting memories with family and friends.

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Promising an exhilarating experience for all ages, Fisher Mall is opening the newest location of RollerDisco, Malabon’s first and premier roller skating destination. Located on the 4th floor of Fisher Mall Malabon, RollerDisco combines the energy of roller skating and the nostalgia of disco, offering an opportunity for everyone to create lasting memories with family and friends. 

“Roller skating brings back memories of my father teaching me how to skate at rinks in Frontier and Baguio,” shares Raymond Del Rosario, President of Fisher Mall Group of Companies. “Our team wanted to bring similar experiences to everyone here at Fisher Mall. Since the opening of RollerDisco back in 2021, we’ve seen a demand given the passionate responses we’ve received from skating communities, enthusiasts, and beginners. We wanted to improve their experience further through our new venue, which we hope will provide more joy and fulfillment.” 

The new RollerDisco venue features the renowned engineered wood flooring and beloved 80’s retro vibes that patrons have come to love. Visitors can also expect colorful neon lights that pulse to the beat of lively disco music, with mirror balls and retro-themed artwork adorning the walls to enhance the vibrant and energetic vibe of the space. 

The rise of e-commerce in the evolving retail landscape has challenged the relevance of traditional retail spaces. Colliers, a leading company specializing in property management, urged mall operators to leverage on the unique advantage of physical retail: enhanced customer experience. There is a need for retail spaces to establish itself as a third space for consumers to enjoy quality entertainment. 

RollerDisco is just one example of Fisher Mall’s response to this. Identifying the need to reinvent retail, the company transformed traditional retail spaces into dynamic community hubs by offering a unique blend of entertainment and social interaction. Fisher Mall regularly hosts events and programs that invite the community to interact with each other and participate in activities that enrich their lives, from creative exhibits to outreach events. These initiatives aim to foster a sense of unity and collaboration among residents while providing a diverse range of experiences that extend beyond typical shopping experiences.

Visitors of all ages skate to the lively music. 

At the heart of Fisher Mall RollerDisco is its mission to serve as a platform for self-expression and creativity, aiming to enhance community well-being and happiness through the promotion of an active lifestyle and positive social interactions. 

“As we transform retail spaces, Fisher Mall strives to create an engaging environment that resonates with today’s consumers,” concludes Del Rosario. “Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a beginner, we invite you to join us at Fisher Mall Malabon RollerDisco for an unforgettable roller skating experience.”

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Destinations

lyf Malate Manila curates perfect weekend getaway

From lyf’s chic accommodation to nearby historical landmarks, delectable true-Filipino cuisine, and vibrant social events, lyf has curated an exciting journey to help you make the most of your stay. Whether you’re a local seeking a quick getaway, or a traveler exploring the city, break out of the norm and change up your lyf-style!

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lyf Malate Manila has curated the perfect weekend getaway for your urban stay. From lyf’s chic accommodation to nearby historical landmarks, delectable true-Filipino cuisine, and vibrant social events, lyf has curated an exciting journey to help you make the most of your stay. Whether you’re a local seeking a quick getaway, or a traveler exploring the city, break out of the norm and change up your lyf-style!

Step outside lyf Malate Manila and dive into the vibrant streets of Malate. Begin your journey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the city’s rich culture unfolds before your eyes. Explore the historic Rizal Park, where lush landscapes and national heritage converge. Indulge in local experiences like kalesa rides and delicacies such as dirty ice cream for an authentic taste of Manila’s charm. Afterwards, venture to Adriatico Street to discover the bohemian side of the city, where quaint cafés like Café Adriatico serve up original flavors perfected over 35 years. From Jim’s Pares Mami to Wok-Inn, and a variety of street food stalls offering isaw and taho, the culinary journey continues to unfold with an array of street food delights that capture the essence of Manila’s distinct street culture.

As the sun sets, delve into the local art scene with lyf Malate Manila’s curated cultural events, where artists and enthusiasts gather to celebrate creativity. These immersive experiences offer opportunities to connect, engage, and immerse yourself in Manila’s ever-evolving creative community. With lyf’s artistic space and social events, the property transforms into a cultural crossroads where individuals from diverse backgrounds unite to share, learn, and celebrate art and heritage.

Start your second day with a hearty breakfast at nearby eateries in Remedios Circle, or create your very own delight in lyf Malate Manila’s “Bond” kitchen and serve it at “Hangout” which are both located at the roof deck. Here, you can socialize with other travelers and locals while overlooking the sunrise and crafting your own specialties. For those exploring a unique side of flavor, you can explore an array of Spanish restaurants in the area such as Casa Armas, an authentic Spanish restaurant. Let your taste buds dance to the harmonious flavors of Spain, right in the heart of Manila.

Discover the rich cultural offerings of Manila, from the renowned performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to the priceless art and artifacts showcased at any of the four National Museums nearby. Take advantage of lyf Malate Manila’s strategic location to explore nearby attractions like Escolta, home to the historic First United building, a masterpiece of art deco architecture hosting vibrant art events in Ermita.

Moreover, lyf Malate Manila caters to the needs of bleisure and business travelers alike with its array of facilities. Whether you’re blending work and leisure or focusing solely on business, the property’s innovative spaces like Connect, a coworking and communal lounge area, and Nook, private working spaces, provide the ideal environment for productivity and collaboration. 

“We always try to make our amenities lively and accessible, and we do our best to bring all sorts of social events into the scene here at lyf. From mixers, live music, and art events, we make it a must that our guests have a unique lyf-style breakthrough in every stay, accompanied by a truly unforgettable Manila experience” said Joyce Pascual Agsaway, lyf Malate Manila’s lyf Champion (Residence Manager). 

Your weekend getaway is thoughtfully designed to accommodate your needs, merging rich, cultural nuances with value for comfort. You can fully indulge in one of the property’s standout features: a myriad of spacious and generously appointed room options. The “One of a Kind” 1-bedroom units are tailor-made for solo travelers and couples, while the expansive allure of the All Together 2-bedroom and 4-bedroom units are primed for families and groups of friends ready to explore the vibrant city. Their fresh and fun architecture and interior is a unique take on modern luxury stays, and perfectly reflects the richness of Manila’s lifestyle.

From the art-adorned common areas to the communal spaces that beckon conversations, every inch of lyf reflects the city’s heartbeat, telling stories that go beyond words. These spaces aren’t – just designed; they are conceived to be platforms for exploration, leisure, and rest as you stay at lyf Malate Manila. 

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Destinations

Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers venue for weddings

The newly opened Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers a charming blend of modern sophistication and timeless elegance, perfect for bringing dream weddings to life, from the grand entrance to the intimate moments, we ensure that every wedding is a distinct and unforgettable experience.

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Every couple has envisioned their perfect wedding, meticulously planning every detail from the outfits to the rings. The venue is such a vital element, and we’re thrilled to offer an option that might be just what you’re looking for.

The newly opened Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers a charming blend of modern sophistication and timeless elegance, perfect for bringing dream weddings to life, from the grand entrance to the intimate moments, we ensure that every wedding is a distinct and unforgettable experience. 

A Bespoke Wedding Experience

Lanson Place Mall of Asia’s attraction is the Saffron Grand Ballroom, a beautiful space perfect for a dreamy wedding celebration. It has a classic elegance and offers a versatile setting that fits any style, making it a great venue for all sorts of events.

The Saffron Grand Ballroom is a spacious, pillarless, high-ceiling ballroom that spans 676 sqm. It features a dedicated lobby, with a grand staircase that leads seamlessly into the ballroom where the magic unfolds. Couples and their wedding entourage can use private dressing rooms, equipped with vanity mirrors and a sizable lounge area, as they prepare for the special day. Couples can also customise the Saffron Grand Ballroom, tailoring the venue to their heart’s desires. 

In addition to the ballroom, the Courtyard, a tranquil oasis on the third floor, provides a harmonious backdrop for intimate wedding ceremonies, seamlessly blending the sophistication of contemporary architectural design with the warmth of nature’s embrace.    

“Every wedding should reflect the couple’s unique story,” said Rheinna Laberinto, Assistant Director of Events. “We want to make sure that each wedding is as distinctive and memorable as the couples themselves.”

Exceptional Management and Service

At Lanson Place Mall of Asia, personalised service begins the moment couples start planning their wedding. Lanson Place’s team of event specialists collaborates closely with each couple to curate a tailored wedding experience that caters to their particular needs and desires.

From hand-picking the perfect menu and overseeing table layouts to managing guests on the big day, the Lanson Place dedicated event specialists meticulously consider every element of the wedding. They make sure the big day is flawlessly executed, allowing couples to focus on celebrating their love. Whether couples envision a lavish ceremony or an intimate gathering, the team of devoted hosts is committed to making every wedding day stress-free and memorable.

“We understand that weddings are one of the most important days in a couple’s life, and we are honoured to be part of that journey,” said Laurent Boisdron, Vice President & General Manager. “Our commitment on your special day is all about you and we pay much attention to detail to ensure that every wedding at Lanson Place Mall of Asia is not only beautiful but truly unforgettable.”

Design a wedding as unique as your love story with Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila. Discover how Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila can craft the wedding of your dreams by visiting Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila’s booth at the Themes and Motifs Bridal Fair this 22-23 June 2024. Avail of the best bespoke wedding packages and make your special day truly unforgettable.

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