Category: reviews

“Leaving Soon” by Yolanda Moon

Another gem by this Manila duo. The song captures both the heartache lingering from a crumbled romance and the heat and the summer vibes of the Philippines, elements which I long for since I returned to London.

Yolanda Moon shows here their musical consistency through the melancholic lyrics and upbeat yet chill tunes, which is a winner for me. A bit faster than my other favourite Smlltlk, but both complement each other.

Also, the two actors in this video are phenomenal. How I crush on Clyde Rodriguez.

I can only dream about a life of being a Manila hipster, living the carefree and artistic life, soaking up all the 24/7 sun and posting #OOTD posts on Instagram with my also very cool friends.

Thank you, Yolanda Moon! You can expect me to be buying your upcoming EP!

Web Map:

Twitter – @YolandaMoonSays

Facebook – Yolanda Moon Music

YouTube – Yolanda Moon

– Troy

Foodtrips: Manila Bound

Once upon a time, I didn’t like eating. I grew up in Manila not having double rice and indulging myself in street foods (except BBQ and hotdogs!), and that’s why I grew up in a white sando and very thin. Like tooth-pick thin.

That’s a picture of six year old me all ft. my sisters Ate Aiya and Ate Michelle back in the late 80s.

That’s also why it was a great experience flying back home last month and deciding to eat our entire refrigerator and asking my sisters for bituka ng baboy and Jollibee. I remember asking for kanin and ulam at around 2:30pm, exactly the minute I felt cured of my unfortunate fever and cold. Yaya extraodinaire Ate Mildred was shocked at how much my plate was able to carry!

Where did Troyski na mahina kumain go? I think I ate him when I decided to be a part-time food blogger!

PS. One thing that did not change about me apparently was my spacey-ness and child-like laugh. Phew!

That reminds me of the time my friends and I ate in Chop Chop in Shepherd’s Bush and while everyone gave up with their big plate, I was still chowing down on my roast duck with egg fried rice!

Of course, I had my staples Jollibee, McDonald’s, Shakey’s and Tokyo Tokyo, famous names I grew up with in Manila, but I discovered so many more places upon my return that I just make me want to come back quicker!

Rancho Lorenzo

One of the more grown-up get togethers with my family, Rancho Lorenzo became our first stop to have a few buckets of San Mig Light and started the kwentuhan.

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I specifically love the native Las Piñas City feel here. The wind was just right and we were close to familiar landmarks that made me feel safer.

Food-wise, I had the salmon with lemon and sweet corn which could have been more enjoyable without the bones or maybe that’s just me used to eating salmon without the bones. Then we had I think four buckets of San Miguel Lights and Red Horse beers and more pork sisig which lasted just as long as we laughed, which felt like hours.

Hen Lin

Every Filipino knows Hen Lin! I had vivid memories of eating pork dumplings with my mom in Robinson’s Imus, a tradition that continued when we frequented Festival Mall before heading to my sister’s shop Ubehalaiya, the only difference being I developed a love for chili and calamansi and I had a tendency to order more than three orders of siomai, much to the glee of the Hen Lin assistants, and to the surprise of my mom.

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YES, that was all mine!!! No shame there, especially because I was the one who paid, anyway! Happy eating!

Serenitea

Thank you Serenitea for introducing me to wintermelon milk tea aka my future wife!

After going around Quezon City with my sister and mom we stopped by the nearest Serenitea branch and I was then introduced to my future wife: wintermelon milk tea. If you want to see just how ecstatic I got after the very first sip, scroll down to the photo below.

My second trip back to the same branch happened because I had heard good stuff about their Yakult tea, a drink which up to that point in my life I had sworn to avoid since my sister told me scary but false stories about the drink (I will not write it down here to avoid any problems with their company). Luckily, my reluctance towards the drink had been dissolved and has been turned back to love as I tried their Green Apple Yakult Tea, which was just as great as the Wintermelon!

Tip: Make sure to control your excitement and always shake the drink beforehand. You don’t want to spend the first half of the drink sipping one half Yakult and the bottom half green apple juice.

Infinitea

Green Apple Fruit Tea, Mango Fruit Tea and Lychee Fruit Tea

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I swear there must be something unhealthy about drinking fruit tea more than twice in a week, but I didn’t care since Infinitea exists. If I went to Serenitea for milk and Yakult tea, I went to Infinitea for some good old fashioned fruit tea.

I repeatedly ordered the Mango, the Green Apple and Lychee flavours as they were all so good and refreshing, especially after our Pansol roadtrip which I will write about sometime soon. Thank you Ate Michelle for buying me some when I had no extra cash!

Amber Pichi Pichi

Before visiting Imus, Cavite for the last time before flying back home the next day, we bought some food from the Amber branch in Bacoor. My sister suggested it on the way and I vaguely remember watching a YouTube video of Karylle and Coco Quizon blogging about the brand, so I was more game into trying them out.

Apart from the heavenly cheese pichi pichi (not a huge fan of coconut), I also remember the very tasty pancit canton, my all time favourite type of noodle dish. The very, very juicy pork bbq and insanely masarap na suka as sawsawan made the entire experience worth remembering, and worth coming back to.

Daddy’s Toasted Siopao

I had my first toasted siopao as a thank you gift from my best friend Jelyn’s sister Ate Camille when I dropped off her pasalubongs for her family there in Manila. I actually thought the siopao was to be brought back to London, hence why I didn’t say thank you. Sorry! Thank you so much!

Toasted siopao is basically what it’s called: a small siopao toasted so it can be eaten sort of like a small pandesal with palaman, either chicken or pork.

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It makes as a good savoury snack during the afternoon, especially for me as I am a self-certified ulam boy.

Route196

During Karylle’s pre-Valentine’s Day gig there in Route196 (you can tell how much of a fanboy I am!), my sister treated my mom and I with their pork sisig and iced tea. I will always remember their pork sisig for the fact that it had egg in it, which made me eat it quickly because the egg was going to get solid if I didn’t mix it, which I found weird. Did pork sisig always have egg in it or have I always been spacey throughout my life?

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See you again soon, Philippines!

– Troy

#nowplaying Bands! Groups!

I’ve been immersing myself in music the past couple of months since the Christmas season, and I’d thought to share with you guys just where my money went thanks to iTunes.

Here’s a load down of the albums currently on top of my Most Played list on my iPhone. Okay, I never really look at that feature on my iPhone so I’m not sure but I’m assuming it is. Happy listening!

Hale – Hale (2006)

Always been playing eveHaler since 2006, always been there during my problematic high school days three years later, and always around during my walks to and from work. Hale’s lyrics are so deep and relatable they can transport you to a college campus around Manila, letting you relive the pain the lead vocals Champ Lui Pio is feeling at that very moment.

Their second album “Twilight” deserves the same level of praise, as well. I’ve got my dad and his incessant playing of “Blue Sky” to thank for getting me into this band.

Songs to watch out for: “Take No” for its really catchy, emotional roller coaster hook, one of its singles “The Day You Said Goodnight” and “Underneath The Waves“. Not included in the album but in need of cheering is their other single “Toll Gate“; its storyline holds a very, very special place in my heart, a time when being young was all I had.

The Corrs – Talk on Corners (1997)

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I’ve got my mom to thank for instilling The Corrs in my young, impressionable mind. I will always credit them for my being a poet, what with their simply yet really clever lyrics, melting into double entendres, playing with pronunciations and making me a hopeless romantic at age five.

All throughout my life, I grew up believing that I’ve been in the same field where they filmed their “What Can I Do (To Make You Love Me)” music video because I watched it over and over again it must have been misplaced in my memory. I’m the only person who can also dance to “Runaway”, one of their famous songs not included in this album.

Songs to watch out for: “So Young” for the ultimate road trip song, “No Good for Me” and “Love Gives Love Takes” are the two songs that painted my childhood a poetry rainbow.

One Direction – FOUR (2014)

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I read an article somewhere last year that One Direction’s Liam Payne believes their fourth studio album will not only keep their female fans satisfied, but can also garner some attention from male listeners. Fast forward to now, and their more alternative rock-pop sound has effectively won me and my iPhone over. Well, you were right, Mr Payne.

Take away the mass merchandising and the screaming fans, the album has strong weapons under its sleeve to make it a solid record on its own. The lyrical depth, the raspy voices matched with the retro sound that they’ve slipped perfectly in like a glove. For cynics out there, I don’t suggest you be fooled by their first single.

Songs to watch out for: “No Control” for the Louis solo, “Fool’s Gold” and personal favourite “Stockholm Syndrome” for the 80s vibes.

Spice Girls – Spice (1996)

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I’ve got my sisters to thank for getting me into Spicemania, from dancing to “Who Do You Think You Are” up to remembering every single scene of their movie (“Sunday drivers! It’s only Saturday!”). I was the songs’ sense of optimism that made them stay in my playlist until now. Perfect for dark, rainy mornings to college and when it’s so nice and sunny but you have to go to work.

I also remember defending the Spice Girls as one of the best bands of the 90s when me and my friends were talking about it back when we were around eight years old and I still believe in what I said. Sorry, Backstreet Boys.

Songs to watch out for: “Naked“, “Say You’ll Be There” and my all time favourite “2 Become 1“, the single version, by the way, but I really, really like the version from their 2007-08 reunion tour.

And by the way, it was Posh Spice who captivated me the most, if you were wondering.

Jaspects – Broadcasting the Definition (2006)

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Blending together the musical genres that are jazz and hip-hop, one of the ambitions of this band is to combine these two genres, automatically creating a bridge between those two groups of listeners. I’m not fully familiar with this band, with my our mutual friend being the ever so elegant and fun Janelle Monae. Thank you!

One of those outcomes of my lazy scrolling around iTunes after payday, I love how clean the trumpet sounds but it still sounds quite vintage.

Songs to watch out for: “Next Stop, MLK” (the intro though!), “Is She…? (feat. DJ)”, “Peachtree Blues (feat. Janelle Monae)” for the ultimate throwback feel and “Throw Yo J’s Up (feat. Iyana)” because that beat, man. I will certainly be looking more of their work soon!

The Pernice Brothers – Overcome by Happiness (1998)

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Another band hailing from the 90s, The Pernice Brothers and I crossed paths in 2012 when my favourite Twitter person @JoshRadnor posted their titular song as his daily Song of the Day tweet, and from then on, their calm if not melancholic music has found its permanent home in my life.

Intense feels during my A-Level days, writing introspective poetry and Christmas ’12 with friends, the last year we were all irresponsible and living only for fun.

Songs to watch out for: “Overcome by Happiness“, “Chicken Wire“, “Wherein Obscurely” and “Ferris Wheel“. Pure joy, pure sadness. A poet’s dream come true.

How about you? What’s currently on your playlist?

– Troy