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Wabi-Sabi: At a Corner Full of Goodness

Discover Wabi-Sabi Noodle House and Vegetarian Grocery – this corner shop in Makati City’s The Collective, offering delectable alterna-food (err, vegetarian cuisines).

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The first time I heard about “this vegetarian place at this corner of The Collective” was from my housemate and his boyfriend. “Blink and you’d miss it,” my housemate said, and then handing me the sandwich he got from the venue for me to try.

The Collective is that, err, “alternative” venue for hanging out located at the very corner of Mayapis and Malugay Street in San Antonio Village, Makati City. To those not in the know (or are just bad with directions, like me), Malugay is parallel to Gil Puyat Ave. (nee Buendia); and The Collective is not that far from the very corner of Gil Puyat and Osmena Highway (a.k.a. South Superhighway), which runs parallel to the riles ng tren (train tracks). Reflective of the decentralization of partying in Metro Manila, this place has become the favorite of the more alternative crowds, from fashionistas to up-and-coming artists to broke/less-moneyed students to hippy expats.

The sandwich I was handed was Bahn My (half: P75; whole: P150), what – initially – looked like some French bread stuffed with a hefty serving of “meat”, slices of tomatoes and some green leaves/veggies. To be had with a specially concocted (secret) sauce, it was actually… tasty, somewhat akin to how I remembered Burger King’s burgers used to taste like, with the tender “meat” emitting juices with every bite.

“That place”, as I ended up referring to it (when my housemate was unable to recall its name) would have been forgotten had it not been for another friend who took me there one evening (they stay open until 11.00PM from Monday to Saturday), ordering for me the sandwich that made me realize this as that somewhat famed venue.

And so started my “real” discovery of Wabi-Sabi Noodle House and Vegetarian Grocery (just call it Wabi-Sabi).

The place can be described in one word: unpretentious. With only seven tables for two (and two additional bar-like seating for four people), it looks more like a more upscale turo-turo (as if there’s such a thing; but you get the point, I hope). Nothing fancy here: no uniformed waitresses waiting on you, no silver chopsticks to speak of, no Chinas in sight, et cetera. This plays with the general notion of vegetarian/vegan dining, i.e. that it remains non-mainstream/non-sosyal – which is fine by me.

The simplicity belies the goodness that can be had in the place, though.

Trying everything in the menu is easy (no printed copy of the menu is available, by the way; everything’s written on the wall, as delis do) since there aren’t a lot of foodies in the list. This is because, as one of the servers said, “everything’s a specialty.”

Start the meal with Veggie Chicharon (cracklings, P45) – these are small pieces of bread-looking stuff that, surprisingly, TRULY tasted like chicharon. Dipped in a mini-bowl of accompanying not-too-sour vinegar, I’d say this is a must-try (not too much, though – not because of worries about high fat content, but after a while of popping these into the mouth, you get that sawa or overwhelmed/”having had too much” taste). The chicharon, too, is much better than the Steamed Mushroom Shumai (P55), which was somewhat… papery for me (sorry). Else, just try the Kuapao (P65), looking and tasting like siopao cum hopia.

The house specialties are the noodle soups: Shoyu Ramen (P105), Miso Ramen (P110), and Viet Pho (P95). How popular these are? Well, quite. On one of the restaurant’s walls, there are pictures of people segregated according to their preference among the noodles (i.e. Noodle War: Ramen versus Pho). I’ve tried all three. The first thing to remember is that while these may be named after Japanese (ramen) and Vietnamese (pho) cuisines, they only have a touch of what may be expected from original/traditional preparations. I’d say they have been localized, which isn’t that bad a thing.

Between the two ramens, I prefer Shoyu Ramen, which was – for me – tastier, complete with deceivingly real-tasting faux meat. Not that the Miso Ramen is bad, actually, particularly when added with chili powder. But the Viet Pho is my favorite, largely because it is refreshing (all those fresh greenies stuffed into it), even as it is filling (a bowl’s still a bowl, you know).

These noodles are better appreciated when chowed with either the Thai Milk Tea (P50) or the Lemongrass Tea (P45) – the former almost (just almost) tasting like the milk teas always enjoyable when bought off some vendors in the streets of Bangkok; while the latter more natural tasting than versions offered by other venues in, say, Greenbelt (in Makati City).

Finish the meal with the specialty cakes (flour-less, anyone?), priced from less than P100 (though, if you ask me, other venues offering vegetarian/vegan desserts may be more worth checking out). But for a meal for two costing less that P400 (at least for the two times I visited with different friends with me), I sure am not complaining.

When the chow is done, step out of the place to be engulfed by noise from neighboring bars (and, yes, they can be REALLY noisy, particularly on weekends). But it’s nonetheless good knowing that at a corner, a hushed and hush-hush place like Wabi-Sabi exist.

And my housemate was right: Just don’t blink – and actually look hard – when at The Collective, else you may miss it.

Wabi-Sabi Noodle House and Vegetarian Grocery is at 7474 Malugay Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City. For more information, call (+63) 9189622935, or email wabidashsabi@gmail.com.

M.D. dela Cruz Tan is the founder of Zest Magazine. And no, the initials (i.e. M.D.) do not make him a "medical doctor" (as many have erroneously thought in the past); he is actually a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales Australia (just don't ask when, he says). He can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (of course), shoot flicks, community-organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

Travel

Travelling farther away from home linked to better health

How often people travel and the range of places visited are important, with those who regularly travel more than 15 miles away from home more likely to report being in general good health.

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People who travel more outside of their local area feel that they are healthier than those who stay closer to home, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

How often people travel and the range of places visited are important, with those who regularly travel more than 15 miles away from home more likely to report being in general good health.

Those who travel to a wider variety of places are more likely to see friends and family. This increase in social participation is then linked to better health.

Researchers say the results provide strong evidence of the need for investment in medium and long-distance transport options, such as better serviced roads and access to trains and buses.

For the paper, published in Transport & Health, the researchers analysed travel in the north of England, where residents face worse health outcomes than the rest of England and many rural and suburban areas suffer from poor transport accessibility.

Specifically, they looked at the links between perceived constraints to travel outside of the local area, such as a lack of suitable public transport, and self-rated health, considering trip frequency, the number of different places visited, distance travelled, car use and public transport use.

Lead author Dr Paulo Anciaes (UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy & Resources) said: “We expected to find that restrictions on travel through a lack of access to suitable public transport or to a private car would be linked to residents’ perception of their health because of the lack of social participation.

“We explored the links between constraints to travel more than 15 miles from home, demographics and location and social participation in how residents perceived their own health, finding that the key variable is the number of different places people visit outside their local area. This links to more social participation and better health.”

The researchers conducted an online survey of 3,014 nationally representative residents in the north of England. Constraints to travel have previously been identified as contributing to economic disadvantage and a lower sense of wellbeing in the region, but the impact on health hadn’t been analysed before. The team used a research technique called “path analysis”, which uncovers the direct and indirect effects of constraints to travel outside of people’s local area.

The study found that the links between travel constraints, social participation and health are stronger among those aged over 55. Among this group, constraints to the number of different places people can travel to is linked to less frequent contact with friends and participation in clubs and societies.

Dr Anciaes explained: “Those aged over 55 are more likely to face other constraints to travel such as limited mobility. They are also more likely to suffer from loneliness. In the north of England, rural and suburban areas with limited access options are more likely to experience population loss as young people move to the cities in search of work and good travel options. Meanwhile, older generations are left behind in these areas with limited transport options. The range of places they can visit is low, leading to less social participation and lower levels of general health.

“The results of this study emphasise the need for public policies that reduce constraints to travel in the region, by providing better options for private and public transport that allows for more frequent and longer trips.”

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Destinations

The one-and-only Hobbiton from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is now on Airbnb

With access to 44 Hobbit Holes, The Millhouse, The Green Dragon Inn, and other beloved locations from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, guests will take an unexpected journey into Middle-earth for an experience unlike any other.

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For the first time ever, fans from around the world can explore the faraway lands of their favorite holiday films with an exclusive overnight stay at the original Hobbiton™ Movie Set. Russell Alexander is inviting guests to his family’s property to live like Bilbo Baggins and retreat to The Shire for an overnight stay at Hobbiton, as featured in the famed The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.

Nestled in the picturesque pastures of New Zealand’s Waikato region on a 2,500-acre working farm, the property’s rolling, green hills – bear a striking similarity to The Shire as described by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, and captivated Sir Peter Jackson’s movie scouts more than two decades ago. The team quickly realized the Hobbits had found their home – and this holiday season, it could be yours.

Alexander will host three individual two-night stays for up to four guests at NZD $10 per night* as an homage to the 10th anniversary of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, courtesy of Airbnb.

With access to 44 Hobbit Holes, The Millhouse, The Green Dragon Inn, and other beloved locations from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, guests will take an unexpected journey into Middle-earth for an experience unlike any other.

With sweeping views of The Shire, they’ll enjoy:

  • Cozy overnight accommodation curated by the trilogies’ Creative Director Brian Massey, including a writing nook fit for Bilbo Baggins at The Millhouse.
  • Private access to a personal Hobbit Hole, set up for relaxing moments of Preciousss  downtime and afternoon tea.
  • An evening banquet in The Green Dragon Inn with a feast featuring beef and ale stew, whole roast chickens, freshly baked breads and plenty of ale, plus Second Breakfast and Elevenses served daily.
  • A behind-the-scenes private tour of Hobbiton Movie Set.

Now, one does not simply walk into Middle-earth. There are rules.

  • No unexpected parties, please –  unless with Gandalf and company.
  • Bare feet are allowed but wipe them first.
  • Magical rings permitted, but keep them secret, keep them safe.
  • Pony parking is provided only at The Green Dragon Inn.
  • Straying far at night is discouraged, thanks to multiple troll sightings of late.
  • No pets are allowed, except Pickles the resident Hobbiton cat.
  • Never laugh at live dragons…

“For more than two decades, we’ve welcomed millions of passionate fans to Hobbiton Movie Set, but never before has anyone had the opportunity to spend a night in Middle-earth. I am delighted to share the beauty of my family’s farm and pleased to be hosting this iconic location on Airbnb for fans from around the world,” shares Host Russel Alexander.

How to book

Hobbits, elves, wizards and others may request to book one of three overnight stays on Wednesday, December 14 from 10:00AM NZDT/5:00AM PHT at airbnb.com/hobbiton. Stays will take place March 2-4, March 9-11, and March 16-18, 2023. You Shall Not Pass! (without requesting to book, of course).

To request to book, guests must have a verified Airbnb profile, a history of positive reviews and be aged 18+. Maximum occupancy is four persons. Two bedrooms are configured, featuring one queen bed, and the other two king-singles.

Guests are responsible for their own transportation to and from Auckland, New Zealand. Round trip car transportation will be provided for the two-hour journey between the airport and the property. (And just as a Wizard is never late, it’s important our guests arrive at their stay precisely when they mean to).

Travellers looking to book should note that this stay’s rules require strict adherence with local COVID-19 guidelines. Guests are responsible for their own travel to and from Auckland. Airbnb is closely monitoring COVID-19 infection rates and government policies and will offer booking guests a refund of the booking fee ($31) and $1,000 USD Airbnb travel credit if Airbnb determines it is necessary to cancel the stay due to COVID-19 guidelines.

*Plus taxes and fees. These three individual two-night stays are not a contest. The Hobbiton Movie Set is privately owned and operated.

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Destinations

Greenfield District in Mandaluyong kicks off its holiday celebration

To mark the beginning of the district-wide yuletide merry-making, the event kicked off recently with the traditional lighting of the 60-foot Christmas tree at the Greenfield District Central Park,. followed by a magical display of fireworks and Christmas caroling by a 20-piece chorale , setting the mood for guests to get into the holiday spirit.

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Greenfield District, the smart and connected urban center of Greenfield Development Corporation (GDC) in Mandaluyong City, transformed into a holiday wonderland with the launch of GDC’s annual Christmas festivities called “A Christmas for Generations”. 

To mark the beginning of the district-wide yuletide merry-making, the event kicked off recently with the traditional lighting of the 60-foot Christmas tree at the Greenfield District Central Park,.  followed by a magical display of fireworks and Christmas caroling by a 20-piece chorale , setting the mood for guests to get into the holiday spirit.

“After two years of not having face-to-face yuletide celebrations, Filipinos are surely excited to once again gather with their loved ones to celebrate the country’s festive Christmas season,” said GDC President and Chairman Jeffrey D.Y. Campos.  “Greenfield District is a venue where different generations, from senior citizen grandparents to Gen Z kids, can bond with each other by taking part in the fun holiday activities of the District,” he added.

Ongoing  until December 25, Filipinos of all ages are in for a lot of holiday fun at the District. On December 17, families, especially kids are invited to come and meet  Santa Claus at Greenfield District’s “A Night with Santa” , which will feature merry activities and gift giving.

Meanwhile, adults can start their holiday shopping early as the Greenfield District Central Park will showcase weekend bazaars starting this month until December. Shoppers can look forward to discovering value for money gift ideas, trendy fashion pieces, delicious treats and more. While shopping, visitors can also enjoy a quick food trip and engage in Arts and Crafts activities while immersing at the bazaars dressed in colorful Christmas decorations. 

With a mission to build future-ready and sustainable communities for generations of Filipinos, GDC upholds its tradition of organizing events that promote the value of togetherness and spending quality time with the family.

“At GDC, we are committed to not only building properties for generations but also creating verdant, spacious neighborhoods where Filipino families can create beautiful memories together throughout the years. Christmas is a special occasion for many Filipinos, and we want Greenfield District to be part of their memorable Christmas experience every year,” said GDC Executive Vice President and General Manager Atty. Duane A.X. Santos. 

Located at the corner of EDSA and Shaw Boulevard, Greenfield District is accessible to the public through various routes and roadways from the main business districts of Metro Manila, making it an ideal destination for recreational activities, get-togethers, and shopping this yuletide season.

Visit the Greenfield District with friends and family this holiday season.  To know more about the activities at Greenfield District, visit https://www.facebook.com/greenfielddistrict.

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