The gift of “turon”


Something to get us teary-eyed other than the arrest of Janet Napoles.

Catherine Olivares, the turon (banana spring rolls) vendor who donated 70 pieces of her wares to the Alagang Kapatid foundation during their relief operations for typhoon Maring victims, has proven that no good deed remains unrewarded. Days after she made her contribution, she was called in to the Smart Communications office to receive a special gift for her generosity.

TV5 Chairman Manny Pangilinan and Smart have decided to give Cathy and her six children their very own loading business. They package came with brand new cellphones, prepaid cards, jackets, t shirts, and other items. Cathy’s donation of 70 pieces of turon could have made her PHP400 – barely enough for the needs of her six children. However, during interview, she said all she could think about was what if it was her family that needed help. Should that ever happen, she said she hopes there would be people who would also help them – and so she gave her whole day’s income to TV5’s Alagang Kapatid foundation.

The Smart Communications representative also teared up as he turned over the loading business items. He said the Olivares family may not be well off, but they were sincere in helping others, practically giving all they had to help those in need.

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Home Based Jobs in the Philippines: Great Opportunities for the Working Mom

More often than not, a woman is forced to give up her career once she becomes a mother. It has been a gender stereotype that women have to stay at home and care for babies while the man goes out and earns a living.  Times have changed a lot since the internet became prevalent. If before, the career woman had to stop everything she was doing to take care of her babies, now she can nurse an infant while maintaining an online career.

Philippines – home of the VAs

Home based jobs in the Philippines continue to increase as more and more entrepreneurs turn to Filipinos for their admin, clerical, web and even financial work. Virtual assistants do everything from arrange doctor’s appointments to scheduling meetings and even transcribing speeches or lectures.  And, it is here that majority of home-based moms have been able to forge a new career for themselves. With forgiving schedules, competitive pay rates, and the freedom to work from the comforts of your own home, home based jobs are a viable alternative to regular 9 to 5 work.

Challenging and rewarding

Besides work as virtual assistants, there are also plenty of other opportunities. If writing is your passion, you can become a freelance blog or content writer. If you have more time in your hands, you can even work fulltime for a client based abroad.  One can also work as a programmer, web designer, artist or even an online English teacher.

Like any other job, one will also face challenges and some difficulties with home based jobs. In the Philippines, power outages are a reality and weather conditions always affect internet connection. Be prepared with a back up laptop and an internet stick so that you can still report for work whatever the conditions may be. 

So if you’re a Mom who misses the demands of corporate life but is hesitant to leave your children at home, take heart. There are plenty of opportunities waiting for you online.






SM’s elevator girl gets recognition


Remember the viral video of the week post?

SM Olongapo’s bubbly elevator operator, Ms. Cheridel Alejandrino, is becoming more and more popular and will even be featured in this Sunday’s episode of Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho on GMA 7.

Additionally, the management at SM has finally recognized her dedication to her job. The photo shows Ms. Cherry holding her certificate of recognition from SM.  As a casual employee, she works 8 to 12 hours a day. Her dedication to her job and her positive attitude has earned her a spot in every Pinoy’s heart.


Photo from The Ultimate Fan

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Coup de Greasy: Zark’s Deep-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Burger Hits Close to the Heart


COCONUTS HOT SPOT — I’m sure you will agree that there are some days when our inner carnivore takes over and we want nothing more than to eat tons and tons of greasy, chewy, sinful meat.

And when it comes to meat, nothing satisfies cravings like a big healthy—or unhealthy—chunk of bacon. Spend even justa  few minutes a day on the Internet and you’ll know that almost everyone online has an almost borderline obsession with cats and bacon.

Leaving aside the furry feline, bacon is one of the things that people would wage an online flame war for. Say something bad about bacon and you’ll probably be condemned for life.

It is with that thought in mind that I found a hole in the wall in BF homes known as Zark’s Burgers. It wasn’t the most notable of places: It’s on the 2nd floor of a small building and is quite easy to miss.

I entered a small room that could easily have been mistaken for a school cafeteria from the outside. In fact, one table had six teenage boys in their uniforms—likely high school students judging from their rowdiness. I had to go out and check that I was at the right place.

Zark’s Burger is known for their outlandish burgers and over-the-top servings. The serving sizes are huge and the prices range from the affordable to the gourmet. However, if you are really looking for the ultimate burger experience, then you’d be hard pressed to find another burger place that offers the type of burgers that they have.

The quaint appearance of their shop made me wonder whether this place can actually placate the primal carnivore raging within me. However, looking at the menu, my worries were blown away. On that simple menu was probably enough meat to feed several bear-sized men (or actual bears).

They offer different kinds of burgers ranging from the traditional Cheeseburger with Lettuce and Tomato to the outlandish half-pound-patty burger with an egg on top.

It Just Might Kill You

What shocked me, however, were the last two entries in their menu and they’re probably two of the three things that people really come here for. The first one is called the Jawbreaker. All the other burgers look normal when compared to this one.

It’s a whopping triple patty cheeseburger with Spam, bacon, and melted cheese. It costs PHP250 along with fries and drinks but the startling thing about this is its five-minute challenge. Eat the entire thing in five minutes and your meal is free.

This is a tough feat even among those that are used to challenges like these.

However, the real coup de grace is the last entry in the menu. It’s as ominous as its name implies and as dangerous as the warning label says.

Aptly named the Tombstone, it is a monstrous five-pound cheeseburger slathered with cheese. All in all, it is a two-pound meat buffet that might literally kill you if you attempt to eat it on your own.

While finishing the burger is a feat in itself, the real challenge is to finish everything—burger and fries—in ten minutes to forever have your name and face immortalized in the Wall of Fame (Or Shame, if you are on a diet and it is not your cheat day).

It costs a whopping PHP500 but is worth it if you consider the fact that you are chomping down on two pounds of pure meaty goodness.

It Stays in your Arteries Forever

Being the real meat-lover that I am, I decided to crank it up to eleven and go overboard. I decided to order that one meal that isn’t even on the menu and costs P230 with fires and drinks. The Deep- Fried Bacon Wrapped Burger.

As the name implies, it’s a burger wrapped in bacon and then deep fried. It went beyond the ridiculous and went round back into awesome territory.

I noticed some of the students looking my way and asking the server what it was having and how much was it. I felt a bit special at this point as it was something that not everyone knows about as it is on the secret menu.

Perhaps it’s that special, or they kept it off the menu to keep the body count down. It was served with fries and what looked like BBQ sauce.

Being the type of person who dips their fries into almost anything—ranging from gravy to ice cream—I first tried the fries in the runny BBQ sauce. It wasn’t anything special, actually it didn’t really match. I started to worry whether this thing was only good to look at.

However, I decided to push through and thought about dousing the burger with it. However, if I did that, then I’d have to use the knife and fork to eat it and that would be sacrilege. Like eating pizza with a fork or using a spoon for sushi, its an insult to the food.

Not finding any way around it, I gave in and prayed to the burger Gods for forgiveness. I slathered the bacon-wrapped burger with the BBQ sauce, cut it in half, cut off a small portion, and took a bite.

I was at a loss for words and simply thought that I had gone to heaven. It was one of those meals that make you shout Hallelujah since 1) it’s so delicious and 2) you might be meeting your maker soon because of it.

It was one of the best things to ever enter my mouth. The crunchy bacon, smoky sweet BBQ sauce, and thick burger patty all melded together in one great ensemble that made it seem like rainbow spewing unicorns were dancing around on my tongue.

It was literally that good.

Not for the Faint of Heart

All in all, Zark’s burger is one of those food places that will make you hesitate to return to but you end up going back anyway. Perhaps it really isn’t one of the healthiest meals anywhere, but it’s bound to be one of the most memorable.

Also, despite how the place initially looked to me, by the time I finished my meal, the place was already full of people looking for meat.

The grease and fat that you ingest will probably stay in your arteries for as long as you live—or for what’s left of your life, anyway. However, it’s probably all worth it.

According to one online comic, there are 6 reasons why bacon is better than true love and one of them is: “Love is fleeting, but bacon stays in your arteries for all eternity.

Zark’s Burgers has branches in BF, along Taft Avenue, and on Katipunan Avenue.

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Richard Marx offers record deal to Pinoy YouTube sensation


Aldrich Lloyd Talonding first made waves online with his heart-wrenching rendition of “Dance With My Father”.  The YouTube video with his cousin playing the guitar appeared in mid April and has since been picked up by Hollywood talkshow host Ellen Degeneres. After viewing Talonding’s YouTube clip, Ellen extended an open invitation to the talented duo to guest in her show. She said she was impressed by the “soul” in the boy’s singing.

Fast forward to July. Talonding and his cousin James Bucong already have their passports and are just waiting for their US visas to be issued so they could go to Hollywood. Not only will they perform on the Ellen show, but they have also been offered a record deal by Grammy award winner singer and composer Richard Marx.

According to News 5, Marx sent a message to Talonding’s elder sister and offered to record and produce Aldrich and James’ cover of “Dance With My Father”.  It is interesting to note that Marx himself was one of the composers of the Luther Vandross hit. Marx will reportedly fix his schedule to coincide with the pair’s arrival in the US.

While this appears to open the doors to stardom for the young boy from General Santos, he says success is bittersweet. Aldrich lost his father in early June this year, and this allows him to sing “Dance With My Father” with so much more depth and emotion.  Besides the said song, their cover of the David Guetta hit “Titanium” is also becoming popular online.

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Sugar high at Vanilla Cupcake Bakery


COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Cupcakes are becoming more and more popular all over the world. In fact, there are TV shows dedicated to finding the best cupcake bakers, the most original, and, of course, the best tasting cupcakes.

These usually tiny and fancy treats are fast becoming a food group in themselves especially now that there is a new cupcake shop creating a buzz in the metro  – Vanilla Cupcake Bakery.

Country Meets High Tea

Anybody who has already visited the shop would admit that the first thing that caught their interest is how the place looks. It’s total eye candy! The moment you step inside, you will feel like a little girl transported into one of her storybooks.

The decorations, furniture, and over-all set up appear like something straight from a Strawberry Shortcake and Friends movie set. It’s a treat for the eyes and the tummy.

If you are feeling stressed and are looking for a comfort food that will make you feel warm and fuzzy again, Vanilla Cupcake Bakery will not disappoint you.

The place is truly relaxing and will give you the illusion that you have entered a magical realm where troubles and problems are left behind. Savor their red velvet, vanilla, as well as salted caramel cupcakes.

And, if these flavors do not suit your taste, you don’t have to worry since you have over fifty more flavors to choose from.

More Branches to Check Out

The place is perfect for mother-and-daughter bonding, relaxing and chilling with friends, and even reuniting with long-lost acquaintances as the ambiance and various cupcake flavors available for tasting will definitely bring everyone to their “happy place”.

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery has several branches in the metropolis, Glorietta 3, Greenbelt, Trinoma, Alabang Town Center. What is unique about this place is their decor and theme.

It is really whimsical, colorful and downright pretty! It’s probably where Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter would choose to have afternoon tea.

For coffee and beverage lovers, it is interesting to note that their drinks are served in mason jars with handles and oversized porcelain mugs.

As for their prices, they’re still pretty affordable. Cupcake prices average at PHP70 each.

The portions can be shared if you and your friends want to have a cupcake-tasting session. With close to 50 kinds of cupcakes, you might have to.

Be ready to experience a special kind of sugar rush when you go to a Vanilla Cupcake Bakery branch.

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Spring is here!


COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Growing up in a family that frequented Binondo has trained my palate to crave the taste of real Chinese food wherever I am.

Fastfood Chinese does not cut it for me. I look for the flavors of Estero in Ongpin and raise my eyebrows when the food served does not measure up.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for upscale Chinese food. What I want is the hawker-type street food that is tasty and yummy and makes your mouth water at first sight.

I was doubtful that I would ever find a (Peking) duck rice meal to match the experience I had at one of Singapore’s hawker places many, many years ago.

Duck Rice Craving Satisfied

Imagine my surprise when we came upon this hole-in-the-wall in Legaspi Village, Makati. Spring by Ha Yuan is at the ground floor of the BSA Mansion building and looks like it could seat maybe 25 to 30 people at most. It was small, unpretentious, and smelled of street hawker classics.

I nearly cried when I saw a whole Peking duck hanging in the kitchen. Without thinking twice, I ordered duck rice and hubby got the Maki mi – a thick, gooey soup with plenty of noodles and mushrooms. I, on the other hand, was very very happy with my duck.

Lumpia Land

La-Lah Lumpia Bowl

That was not our first visit to Spring. That week alone, we must have gone there three times and we’ve been back often. My duck craving satisfied, we proceeded to try out the other items on the menu. The place is almost always packed with diners looking for filling yet very affordable meals.

One of Spring’s specialties are the lumpias. This is lumpiang sariwa with sweet soy-garlic sauce and crunchy peanuts. If you go to Binondo to get lumpia, you have a pretty good  idea of what I’m talking about.

Spring serves different kinds (vegetarian,  seafood, meat, and even light versions) of their lumpias. You can even get in a  bowl instead of a wrap. Siomais and dumplings are also great to try. The price range is a very affordable PHP70 to PHP90 for the lumpia and dumplings. And did I  say that the portions were generous too?

Spring’s Mushroom and Chive Dumplings

For the health conscious, the restaurant offers healthy options like an all veggie Monk’s bowl or platter. Their kua paos also come in whole wheat buns instead of the regular white variant. The service staff are very attentive and courteous too.

If you’re on a tight budget but want to survive working in Makati by eating healthy and nutritious food, you should pay Spring a visit. They’ll give you complimentary house tea and free soup if you ask nicely. They start serving at lunch time until about 9 in the evening.

The only disadvantage about this place is that sometimes, they run out of my favorite items and they don’t restock immediately.

Spring by Ha Yuan is at the G/F BSA Mansion Legaspi Village, Makati

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