Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best cheap meal in Manila and jogging on a Sunday morning

When Dutchman and I are together—say during the weekend or when we are traveling, just like what happened during our travel to the Philippines last month, and this is when there is no family around—we tend to eat twice only in a day. We love to sleep in so by the time we wake up it is already brunch, and then later, dinner. I wish everyday would be like this but I guess a big part of the morning is gone, which isn’t good also.

So when we were in Makati, and after a tiring shopping day without lunch, we scoured Glorietta for a place to eat. We don’t want heavy stuff, no fast foods either, we just want to snack a bit, but at 4:30PM it looks like the restaurants are empty or they are getting ready for dinner. Then we passed by Cabalen and I had to stop when I saw the poster: Cabalen Merienda—P138 only! I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me so I quickly did a Peso to Euro calculation on my head. Huh—that can’t be? That’s just €2 for a limitless merienda (means snack) buffet!

Cabalen Merienda serves the ff dishes:
—Dinuguan (pork blood stew)
—Pancit Malabon (stir fried thick rice noodle)
—Pancit Palabok (thin rice noodle with seafood sauce)
—Lomi (thick fresh egg noodles made into a soup)
—Macaroni salad
—Ginataang Bilo-Bilo (glutinous rice balls in sweet coconut milk)
—Goto (beef tripe rice soup)
—Tokwa’t Baboy (braised tofu and pork from pig’s ears)
—Lumpiang Togue (bean sprouts spring roll)
—Okoy Kalabasa (squash and shrimp fritter)
—Turon with Langka (fried banana roll with jackfruit)
—Biko (sweet sticky rice)
—Pichi-pichi (cassava cake rolled with grated cononut)
—Puto’t Kutsinta (dry rice cupcake and glutinous brown rice cake
with grated coconut)
—Karyoka (deep-fried glutinous rice flour cakes)
—Palitaw (thin glutinous sweet rice with grated coconut and sugar)
—Halo-halo (shaved ice with various sweetened beans, glutinous rice
balls, fruit jelly, flan, ice cream and condensed milk)

They also had cassava fries (fried in brown sugar) served which I really liked.

This is probably our best and cheap meal in the Philippines (or ever, at least for now). I think we paid about or under €5 together with our bottomless iced tea. Dutchman and I had to keep shooing the diligent waiter who keeps pouring iced tea on our glasses, lol. We didn’t anymore have dinner because we were so full.

Highly recommended! Especially for those who would like to sample Filipino cuisine.

Anyway, we’re trying to wake up early now so we can make the most of our weekends. Like today, Dutchman and I went to the sports community center (I want to check out the sauna soon), he went swimming and I went to enlist for gym. Unfortunately, the gym opens at 10AM on a Sunday, a bit late than the rest of the activities in the center, so instead I took a walk around the surroundings and saw nice paths. I went running.

Whilst jogging, I saw women nicely dressed donned with lovely hats and the men in suits. It’s Sunday, where are these people going? A church bell rang and I realized they are all going to a church service. I rounded the small austere-looking protestant cathedral watching as families gather outside the entrance greeting each other with hugs and kisses. A really good looking young guy, in a dark suit with a huge smile across his face galloped past me. He was clutching a bible securely in his hands. A middle age lady, in pink and white dress with a titanic quirky pink hat that reminds me of socialites carousing in daylight during Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot Race in Berkshire, England was in a hurry as she sprinted towards the church's doorway.

The scenario before me brought me in deep thoughts—two decades ago I was like these people; a god believer who goes to church every Sunday, in fact twice a week and reads the bible every day. It’s a bit strange thinking about those people inside the church now and putting me into their shoes. They are happy people; they seem to be. I remember listening to the pastor's sermon—the guilt being used as a weapon, the lively songs we used to sing, hugging each other, I even did Sunday School for the kids, but the weird thing is I don’t miss all of these. No, not at all. In fact, I am quite happy I am out of it. For two decades I am free. Free to be who I really am and want to be.

As I ran further, I saw other joggers running by a path along the wide canal where ships and boats pass by. The wind was quite strong against my face—chilly too and I’m glad I wore a jacket. I like what I am seeing. Moving forward, I will be walking and running in this area during the weekends, and then I will run further to discover other areas of the city. Hmm, this is a nice plan indeed.

So when I got home I told Dutchman I won’t be going to the gym anymore, instead I will be running. It’s much better to run and explore the surroundings than be locked up for an hour inside a room with other people sweating on the machines.


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