Can’t get enough of Claypot Rice

Claypot rice is so perfect for this cold December weather; it brings warmth at every bite. I have here two and I will add more restaurants for my Claypot rice series.

What it is to love about claypot rice? It is a one-dish meal wherein the flavorful rice is cooked in the claypot together with the meat and veggies. The traditional way of cooking it is by cooking using charcoal. It gives a burnt flavor…smokey… and creates a crusty bottom of burnt rice. It is best to season it with the broth or sauce to enhance the flavor.



Quiapo Trip: Souvenir Island + Ramon Lee’s Panciteria

Quiapo is a bustling district in Manila that is full of adventure. There are many things to do and places to see in Quiapo. This is home to the famous Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene where millions of devotees flock during “translacion” to get a chance to touch or kiss the feet of the Black Nazarene. Right outside the church is Plaza Miranda where vendors and fortune tellers manage to do business.

My friend Malou and I went to Hidalgo Street to check some photography equipment and some home wall decals. We walked along Palanca Street and found this interesting shop, Souvenir Island General Merchandise. I also showed her the “secret” stores in Kilion where to get affordable spices, baking ingredients, and packaging supplies. We met Malou’s hubby and threaded the narrow streets going to Carriedo. We had our late lunch at Ramon Lee’s Panciteria. The restaurant has been there since 1929. This is history, man! With the walls adorned with photos of celebrities and politicians, I knew we found a “gem” in this spot. Hooray for a “fine meal” – chicken, pancit, pinsec frito, fried rice, soup, and banana. Yum!


Souvenir Island General Merchandise

Address: 135-137 1001, Carlos Palanca Sr., Quiapo, Metro Manila

Contact Number: (02) 735 4319


Ramon Lee’s Panciteria

Address: 1003, 540 Ronquillo St, Santa Cruz, Manila, 1003 Metro Manila

Contact number: (02) 733 0642

Feast of the Black Nazarene – Quiapo, Manila

Newspapers say that more than a million devotees joined the festivities and grand procession of the revered Black Nazarene in Manila yesterday. I was one of those million people who braved the rain to celebrate and be part of this most awaited festivities in the country.

On a personal note, the Black Nazarene has granted my request a few years back and I’m truly thankful for that blessing He has given me. It is my first time to attend this celebration and yet I feel comfortable… I belong.

With feet drenched in mud, we walked around Quiapo while waiting for Nazareno.

I climbed up the stage where cameras from different stations were set just to get this shot. Rain or shine, there’s no stopping the devotees of Nazareno from celebrating this spectacular religious event.

The devotees in maroon and yellow shirts wave their small replicas of the Black Nazarene together with their handkerchiefs during the procession as they sing and pray.

This man wearing a white cloak imagines to possess whimsical powers to heal using “anting-anting” or amulet.

We felt hungry and so we decided to eat street food. I had 5 pcs of quail eggs for 15 pesos. The vinegar with cucumber, onion, and chili was good. I wish I had more but that’s too much cholesterol.

This man sells replicas of the Black Nazarene made from carved and hand-painted wood.

It was raining so hard I had to cover my camera with a towel, hence this shot. Devotees walk barefoot as a sign of humility.

Guardians held umbrellas to protect this replica of the Black Nazarene. You can also see the cluster of people trying to get a top view of the Nazareno from that side of the bridge.

This is the best spot to take a top view of the procession….that’s why most of the photographers are lined up here.

photo by: mishale aragoncillo

The crowd start to get packed as they await for the Nazareno to pass coming from Escolta. It is believed that the rope attached to the carriage of the Black Nazarene has healing powers that’s why devotees take risks just to touch the rope or the Nazarene if they can.

photo by: mishale aragoncillo

photo by: mishale aragoncillo

A sea of devotees united by faith. It just gives a different feeling seeing this huge number of people waving their towels/handkerchiefs and shouting all praise and glory “Viva! Viva!”.

photo by: mishale aragoncillo

photo by: mishale aragoncillo

This shows the significance of Jesus Christ in our lives. This celebration strengthened my faith and helped me grow spiritually. I know that it’s not only during this kind of events should we remember Christ and his teachings but everyday by living as true disciples of God.

It has been a wonderful experience and I’m thankful for that. Til next year and the years to come.

R. Ma Mon Luk Restaurant- Quiapo, Manila

While waiting for my siopao, mami, and siomai to be served, I read a few articles posted on the walls of the restaurant. That’s the only time I get to know who Ma Mon Luk is. I find his life story interesting; coming from China and moving to the Philippines, poor Mr. Ma Mon Luk had to peddle chicken noodle soup for a living. Also, he used to be a teacher before entering the world of business…a parallelism with my life (just a thought).

As he became popular among Manileños, he decided to open his first restaurant in Binondo, Manila and still continued to peddle his wares on the streets. Two of the five restaurants he owned remain open, Quiapo and Quezon Avenue branches.

Even with the tight competition in the market, Ma Mon Luk maintained the same ambiance of the resto like it was so antique.  What’s the reason behind it? They wanted the same atmosphere like it was the 1950’s.

Too many facts on the wall…let’s get to business.

On the table:

I was enjoying my hot chicken noodle soup a.k.a. Special Mami with a dash of pepper until my friend told me that squirting siopao sauce will make it taste better. It’s not too late though, with my bowl still half full, I added some siopao sauce until it gets brownish in color. It was more flavorful, indeed! Priced at Php 95, this big bowl of mami is to share.

The siopao is bigger than a fist… i’m not kidding. I was surprised to see a siopao that’s so huge. It has generous fillings; so savory that you barely need to put sauce on it. The special siopao is priced at Php55.

Note: Peel the paper and outer covering of the siopao (just for sanitary concerns).

I’m a fan of dumplings but sad to say Ma Mon Luk’s siomai failed to please my palate. Though they claim they use their own secret sauce, I’m still not impressed with their own version of siomai. It was chewy, the texture of the filling was crumb-like and was a bit dry . Ordering this was a disappointment. I find it pricey at 2 dumplings for Php40.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience eating at Ma Mon Luk. It reminded me of my Lolo since their siopao is one of his favorites. I was able to taste the “Original Chicken Mami” with siopao sauce. And… I felt good reading Ma Mon Luk’s success story.    🙂

Ma Mon Luk

Manila Address: 545 Quiapo Blvd, Quiapo Manila

Contact #: 7337596

Quezon City Address: 408 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City

Contact #: 7123560/ 7328756

Pasig River Boat Ride- Manila

It was February 14 of 2007 when former President Arroyo inaugurated the Pasig River Ferry Service, giving commuters an alternative route from the congested traffic in the metro. With just five stations operating during that time, NTSI’s (Natutical Transport Services Incorporated) service expanded to 17 stations passing major cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati and Pasig.

I’ve seen these catamaran-type boats pass along Pasig river when I used to go to San Joaquin but I’ve never tried riding one. Just as spontaneous with my other travels, I knew this ride would be exciting; Lucky enough, my friend invited me for a random fun shoot last July. From Quiapo station, we bought tickets going to Nagpayong which is the last station, and back. Ticket prices range from Php 25-60.

I was expecting the ferry to be fully packed since we left Quiapo station around 4pm. Surprisingly, there were not so many people at that time; the ferry can carry up to 150 passengers though. Less people means a great chance that security will be lenient enough to allow us to shoot in the front deck. It was only when we passed by Malacañang Palace when a security personnel warned the passengers not to take photos or else they’ll get our cameras (well that’s what they said). Yeah, I was obedient enough not to break the law…there’s Google Earth, anyways. Hehe.

Here are some photos taken during the ride:

Cruising along the Pasig river is a great photo opportunity. Though it was just a 2 hour boat ride I had, I could say that this trip is memorable.   🙂

The continuous effort of the local government and various private organizations in revitalizing the Pasig river  has made a lot of difference, from waste management and relocation of families residing along the riverside. Remember: It is man whose wasteful lifestyle that damaged Pasig river, we are accountable for the collective welfare of our society, we are all responsible in giving back reviving Pasig river.

One helluva boat ride makes me a “concerned citizen”…I thought so. Try out the Pasig River Ferry Service and you’ll understand what I mean. Let’s support a cause.


Plaza Mexico Intramuros, Manila, Manila
Escolta Binondo, Manila
Lawton Lawton, Ermita, Manila
Quiapo Quiapo, Manila
PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines) Santa Mesa, Manila
Santa Ana Santa Ana, Manila
Lambingan Punta, Santa Ana, Manila
Valenzuela Barangay Valenzuela, Makati City
Hulo Barangay Hulo, Mandaluyong City
Guadalupe Barangay Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City
Pineda Barangay Pineda, Pasig City
San Joaquin Barangay San Joaquin, Pasig City
Bambang Barangay Bambang, Pasig City
Kalawaan Barangay Kalawaan Sur, Pasig City
Pinagbuhatan – Acasia Barangay Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City
Maybunga Barangay Maybunga, Pasig City
Nagpayong Barangay Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City