Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Gourmand (All About Food)

A Humble Rounded Bread: Pan De Sal
Balls on Sticks...Anyone?
Halo-Halo
Sizzling Sisig

The Traveler (Travel and Holidays)

PHILIPPINES
Agawan Festival: Sariaya's Tradition
Antique (Part One)
Antique (Part Two)
Pahiyas Festival (Lucban, Quezon)
Pueblo Por La Playa (Pagbilao, Quezon)
An Exciting Exfoliating Experience: Tibiao Fish Spa

The Agawan Festival: Sariaya's Tradition





This celebration in honor of “ San Isidro De Labrador “, the Spanish patron saint of farmers, one so old that not one alive today knows when and how it started, is the primary tourist attraction in Sariaya, which is being promoted by the Department of Tourism . The ‘” Bagakays “, an identifiably “ Sariayahin “ feature of the festival, are young bamboo trees cut and bedecked with a variety of goodies that form a gently swaying beautiful and bountiful canopy along the well decorated route of the saint’s afternoon procession.






On May 14th, the townspeople select the best produce which they artfully and painstakingly decorate into their houses like ……. “ Aranyas “ or bamboo chandeliers adorned with palay and rice stalks, Suman, string beans and luscious green mangoes, “ fences “ of sugar cane and coconuts with chains of orange betel nuts as colorful accents, “ pillars “ of green and yellow banana bunches, “ curtains “ and “ draperies “ of “ Pastillas “ or milk candies wrapped in colorful cellophanes and Japanese papers, “ Baluartes “ or archs of eggplants and gourd veggies like ‘ Upo “, “ Patola “ and “ Ampalaya “, mouth-watering succulent “ Lechon “ and golden brown roast chickens preening at the windows, and the like!







The hectic preparations that drag into the wee hours of the morning on the 15th , particularly the raising of the bountiful ‘ Bagakays “ on both sides of the streets, give off a sense of exhilaration to the busy house owners, and wonder to the roaming visitors alike! The early morning parade on the feast day itself never fails to elicit a sense of anticipation and excitement, what with the splash of color, folk artistry and fanfare for all to see!





Features of the parade vary every year, from floats adorned with fresh farm produce pulled by carabaos and horses to those that feature beautiful ladies serving as the “ Mutya “ of each Barangay, donned in Filipiniana and indigenous wear embellished with products representative of their locale’s livelihood. Any how, what is very evident is the active participation of all sectors of Sariayahin society who are just too eager to be part of this eventful undertaking.







At the end of the parade will be the “ Mga Taong Bagakay “ or ‘ Mtb ‘, human depictions of the beautifully bedecked, bountiful bamboo tree canopy, artfully garbed in Sariaya produce and products as the coconut-ty “ Mga Taong Niyog ‘ and the very colorful “ Mga Taong Pastillas “ for example. They will street dance their way around town in a contest of innovative costume design, artistic choreography, youthful energy and patient endurance!




After the afternoon mass in its honor, the antique image of San Isidro De Labrador, garbed in his familiar sky blue robe with shiny trimmings, atop its equally silver-plated ‘ carroza ‘ comes out of the church into a joyous procession amidst the explosion of firecrackers! People cannot contain themselves with excitement as they never tire of eagerly awaiting what is supposed to be the most dynamic and action-filled religious celebration these parts, year after year after year! As the image of the “ Poong San Isidro “ passes by, all the pent up energies are let loose like a dam suddenly opened to release excess water. Sack-bearing revelers positioned behind the icon suddenly grab at the bountiful decors within reach……Banana and coconut bunches, sugarcanes, commercial goodies, practically everything in sight, while eager and equally excited house owners rip off at their bountiful decorations, carefully thought of, artfully designed and painstakingly crafted the day or even days before.





In a frenzied spirit of unbridled, good natured fun, they throw them at the electrified crowd …….fruits, vegetables, fans, hats, umbrellas, native slippers, bags, clothes, money, bread, rice in small plastic bags, and everything imagined and unimaginable, like native chickens at times! Blessings as such rain like Mannah from Heaven, and as if these weren’t enough, the “ Bagakays “ are scrambled upon by the men folk, broken in a frenzy of jumping and tugging, and let loose to fall on the already ensuing grab fest or “ Halbutan “ as the Sariayahins traditionally call it!




Each is now on his/her own, pleading-shouting-even outrageously climbing fences just to get their treasured ‘ loot ‘ to safety, away from countless eager competitors, while alertly dodging falling debris like broken “ Upo “, bunches of Indian mangoes, and the ultimate, ‘ Sangkalans ‘ or wooden chopping boards hanging precariously from a Bagakay put up by a meat shop owner, No Kidding! And the ultimate wonder is that with all of these, not one has died or suffered from severe injuries as far back as town folks can remember, and minor cuts and scratches were merely dismissed off with an amused shrug, sweat-soaked and all!







As crazy as the “ La Tomatina “ of Bunol, Spain and the equally raucuous “ Orange Festival “ of Northern Italy, this very Sariayahin fiesta is by all means the most expressive and expressed form of hospitality, giving and sharing by a townspeople in the whole world, even in today’s very hard times. And the visitors, who are either awestruck first timers, or seasoned veterans who never tire of returning to Sariaya at this time of year truly agree! YES, it is a ‘ Controlled Chaos ‘, a ‘ Saintly Banditry ‘, the one and only ‘ Happy Pandemonium ‘ , aptly put!

Information Credits: Sariaya.net

Monday, March 7, 2011

Livingsocial.com: A Review




LivingSocial offers daily deals on handpicked experiences that can be shared with friends. Our mission is to add surprise to every calendar. So we dig deep, pursuing both the things that define a place and the undiscovered jewels. We design total experiences that bring an adventurous, loyal new following to local businesses. Innovation and imagination have made LivingSocial the fastest-growing company in the social-buying category. We satisfy cravings for the new and different at significant savings. LivingSocial means living with real connection. We shape social lives.

Strengths



Living Social offers users a better way to learn about their community and support the small businesses that operate within it. The site compiles lists of business information that allows users to see lesser known places they may not have been aware existed near them. The site also works out special rates and deals and presents them to users. This not only helps the user save money, but also encourages them to visit local businesses through daily deals. Living Social also includes many other handy tools that can help the user find the places they plan to visit.



Living Social incorporates a number of different elements to give users a full spectrum of resources. There are business profiles so that users can learn more about an entertainment venue, restaurant, or shop before they visit. Among other information, the site also incorporates Google Maps into the profile so users can quickly find out where the business is located and how long it takes to get there. Living Social also works out special deals for its users to encourage a visit to the businesses featured while giving the user a way to save money.



The Living Social website offers a very lighthearted, fun appearance. With the backdrop of a local scene, which changes from anything to a sprawling street of cozy buildings to a picturesque water side cafe, the site may at first seem a bit busy. It is intended for entertainment and socializing, after all. Users will quickly adapt to the colorful background and can get right down to business searching for the daily deal and learning about local venues.

Living Social keeps the registration process short and sweet. New users can find the email address field waiting at the top of the page within the header. After entering a valid email address and selecting a city from the drop down box, users can click the blue “sign up” button to the right. After submitting an email address, the user can begin searching for deals and browsing the site to learn more about their community.

Weaknesses

Customer service of Living social requires improvement. Here are the following feedbacks from their users:

My spouse and I purchased 2 Amazon gift cards using two different credit cards on two separate accounts since limit one person. Both of orders got cancelled. Called several times, spokes to 5 representatives, they accused me of open two accounts and tried to make multiple fraud purchases since the we same the same mailing address and similar credit cards. The representatives were rude and unprofessional that didn't listen to you. Three of them actually hung up on me during our conversation. LIVING SOCIAL IS THE WORST COMPANY I HAVE DEAL WITH STAY AWAY FROM THEM!!!

How weird -- I also got Omar when I called today! I was calling to get a refund because the restaurant had gone out of business. I was informed by "Omar" that because it was past 90 days (but the coupon had not yet expired!) that I would not receive a refund via credit card (which other sites like Groupon will grant you instantly) -- but could either get "credit" in my Living Social Account or a check that would arrive in 2-3 WEEKS! I was upset, and said that if you can't refund my credit card, and I have to wait weeks to see any refund, the least you can do is add some credit in the account as well for the inconvenience. After all, it's not my fault this restaurant went out of business & I'm stuck with a useless coupon!

Omar said no can do. I was pressed for time and said, fine, I have no choice, just send the check refund.

But to add insult to injury -- as I got off the phone, Omar DID NOT HANG UP THE PHONE -- but I could hear his conversation with what I later found out was a snotty, kiss-ass trainee named "STACY" -- and they were talking crap about me, ridiculing my concerns, with Stacy saying "she is ridiculous," and "she just wants extra stuff," along with other rude & unprofessional comments.

So of course I called back. Asked to speak to a supervisor. Was told there was one named "Dayo" but that she's "stepped out ten minutes ago." Hmmm -- sound familiar? I am getting the impression their "customer service" office has a very, very small staff. And that there are no real managers or supervisors at the contact number. So I get Omar on the line, ask to speak to "Stacy," and he puts me on intercom after informing me that she's his "trainee." I tell her -- and Omar -- how simply rude and unprofessional their comments are, & that I heard their entire conversation about me. Then they admit to it, apologize profusely, and Omar says, well, I actually gave you a "surprise & delight" credit of $10 before you called back." So after he tells me he can't give ANY credit, and then talks crap about me with "Stacy," all of a sudden he decided to do this before I call back? I am worried I will never see my actual refund -- a check???? In 2-3 weeks???? And some lame apology from a guy who forgot to hang up the call so I could see the true nature of living social and what they think of their customers. Apparently, we are "ridiculous" in their eyes!

Mamapedia and Family Finds, Plum deals -- so many others coming up every day. Plus this is the SECOND company to go out of business after I bought a living social certificate, and two previous companies were shady. I've gotten much better deals AND quality establishments on Groupon and the other sites.


Similar complaints on LivingSocial's Facebook page have kept company representatives in overdrive as they respond with apologies and promises to resolve issues. Here's a sampling of the Facebook complaints, one of which we've edited for space constraints:

"Never received code for Amazon card. sent email no resp. couldn't get a hold of c/s. Charge is still showing on my credit card."
"My wife never received her amazon card, nor did my kids. When my wife wrote them they said that it was because she had already ordered one, which was not true. No notice, no messages, nothing..."
"Never received code for Amazon card. I emailed 3 times, and only got the response that they were working on it. Called customer service twice, got put on hold, then the computer voice said, "good-bye," and hung up. The charge for the card is still showing up on my credit card. That's not just bad service, that's criminal."
Customer service responses resulted in some angry posts as well:


"Unbelievable. You people keep on lying and saying the same thing again and again like you are some kinda robots. Have you been brainwashed or not? Why don't you just admit that you living social made a huuuuuuge mistake and apologize to everyone at least. You will definitely remain in history as the worst business ever! You SUCK!"

Living Social did not immediately respond to a request for a comment, but the company has placed a link to FAQs about the Amazon gift card prominently atop the site's support center.

Alternatives

Groupon – www.groupon.com
The Dealist – www.thedealist.com
What’s The Deal – sowhatsthedeal.com
Woot – livingsocial.com


Information credits: Livingsocial.com, App Appeal, SiteJabber, WalletPop
AppVita

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why Use Stainless Steel Bottled Water Rather than Plastic Containers?



When we travel in areas where sources of water is either scarce or unsafe such as deserts of Egypt, the Grand Canyon, caves or mountains, it would be advisable to bring sufficient water to keep us hydrated. There are many water containers out there that can be used by travelers such as plastic bottles,stainless steel bottle water containers and disposable bottled water. Now, let me share with you a few things you need to know about using stainless steel bottle water containers compared to using other kinds of plastic bottles.


No Polycarbonates First of all, it does not contain Polycarbonates. Polycarbonate is a high-performance plastic that has dimensional stability, optical clarity, high heat resistance and excellent electrical resistance. It is used for electronic equipment, automobiles, construction glazing and sports safety equipment. The shatter-resistance and heat-resistance also make Polycarbonates ideal for tableware as well as drinking bottles and food storage containers that can conveniently be stored in a microwave or a refrigerator.
Bisphenol A also known as BPA is a building block of polycarbonate plastic.

Researchers have found that it can potentially migrate from the plastic bottles we use to our water. This being said, our water becomes unsafe. Pouring boiling liquid into reusable water bottles or baby bottles made of polycarbonate plastic causes a much faster release of the estrogen-mimicking chemical bisphenol A, new research shows. This may be a cause of breast cancer or prostate cancer.


Safe and Made Of High Quality Food Grade Stainless Steel- This means, it has no polycarbonates, and it is safe for you and your family! You do not have to put your health at stake. This is a healther option to make, and when choosing the right water bottle containers, you should not scrimp. Your health will take the toll in the long run if you reuse disposable bottles.
Plastic disposable bottles are not safe for use over and over. It contains polyethylene terephthalate, which is a carcinogenic element. These bottles are not meant for repeated washing and rinsing. This process can break down the carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer. You wouldn’t want these elements to reach your drinking water, right?


Environmental Friendly – Since stainless steel bottle waters are reusable, they do not add up to pollution. Did you know that disposable water bottles last seven hundred years? While they don’t contain BPA, they are piling up in our landfills. People in the U.S. throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles an hour. Plastic makes up much of the streetside litter found in cities and throughout the countryside.

Studies suggest that between seven percent and eight percent of the world’s fossil fuels are used in producing new plastics. This doesn’t sound like a great amount, but it accounts for millions of tons of fuels per year. Since plastics pile up on our landfills, in order to save space, plastics are often burned in incinerators. Upon doing this, fossil fuels and chemicals used in making this process are brought out into the atmosphere, also contributing to the greenhouse effect.

Saves You Hundreds Of Dollars A Year – The usage of stainless steel bottle water containers saves you a lot of money annually. Instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, since you have your own container, you just have to fill in your container with water from your home. No more paying for something that you can essentially get for free.

Convenient, Easy To Use and Easy To Wash – The stainless steel bottle water container is very convenient, and it can be brought anywhere and used anytime. It easily fits in your car’s cup holder. It has a wide opening that fits ice cubes. It is also very easy to wash, since it is dishwasher safe. Bring it to the office, to school, to the gym, to the park or just use it at home, there is no doubt this container is both convenient, useful and safe.
Look no further because I can offer you all these in one easy to carry stainless steel bottle water container – the Eco Canteen. It is a very handy way to carry your water. Grab yours now!

Information credits: http://www.stainlesssteelbottlewater.com/

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Exciting Exfoliating Experience: Tibiao Fish Spa






When i first encountered the words "fish spa", it became an enigma for me. At first, i thought that fish spa pertains to "spa for fish," but eventually i realized that fish spa pertains to spa for human beings using specific species of fish.








Fish spas are a form of ichthyotherapy that use small fish to clean the skin. Fish exfoliate the skin by feeding on the dead layers of skin cells. This method is safe and totally free of pain. In fact, the distinct tickly sensation produced by the skin-nibbling fish adds to the cleansing benefits and relaxing ambience of fish spas that made them popular in many Asian countries.



TFS stands out from conventional fish spas because of its affordable rates and novel offerings. While most fish spas use imported Garra ruffa fish which are expensive to acquire and maintain, TFS uses several species of fish sourced from the highlands of Tibiao in the province of Antique to provide the fish spa experience in a uniquely Filipino setting. Because of this, Tibiao Fish Spa has arguably become the most affordable fish spa in the world.



To date, thousands of guests from all walks of life have dropped by TFS conveniently located along the national highway in the town of TIbiao, Antique. Over a dozen nationalities have experienced the services of TFS delivered by its 10 part-time staff. These services now include foot and hand fish spa, body fish spa, traditional massage, and manicure/pedicure.



In December 2009, Tibiao Fish Spa also began to offer Katahum Tours (www.katahum.com) that takes guests around the different attractions in the town of Tibiao to experience nature trekking, kayaking, pottery making, lambaklad (modern fish corral) fishing, kawa (iron tub) hot bath, and much more as a complement to the fish spa experience.



Since its conception, TFS has appeared in several regional and national television shows, broadsheets, and tabloids. The news has also spilled over to a magazine and a newspaper in Thailand and several blogs and websites.
Tibiao Fish Spa made the bold move of opening an exhibit in SM City Iloilo in April 2010. The company’s fish spa concept was the first of its kind to be ever approved by the top management of SM.



Because of the encouraging reception by Ilonggos, on October 20, 2010, Tibiao Fish Spa opened its permanent outlet in SM City Iloilo offering expanded services such as VIP Fish Spa, Full-body fish spa, as well as a range of massage and reflexology services.



information and image credits: http://tibiaofishspa.com/

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