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October 7, 2018- We are officially engaged! After several months of preparations for our engagement and wedding, finally, we get to cross one event off our checklist.

Time really seems to fly by so quickly. I can still remember D's proposal last January. After nine months, we are officially engaged.
Chinese engagement, or most commonly known as tinghun, is a formal announcement of a couple's plan to get married. It is a Chinese tradition passed on for many generations that signifies the acceptance and union of two families. I won't go much into the details on how to have a traditional Chinese engagement as there are several versions out there. But based from what I learned during my tinghun preps, the stricter you are in following old traditions, the more expensive your tinghun will be. 

For us, we opted to go for a semi-modern tinghun. Besides, we wanted to to have a tinghun more for the experience rather than for tradition. 

It wasn't really necessary for us to have a tinghun, but we are very grateful for our families who made it possible, and for letting us experience this momentous event.

How do you plan a Tinghun?

It was a question I was more than willing to find the answer. It was a long and tedious work, but given the chance, I would gladly do everything all over again.

Research, research, research!
I can't stress enough the importance of research to a Tinghun preparation. May it be online research, asking help from previous tinghun couples, asking tips from parents or elders, or seeking professional assistance from tinghun experts.

In my case, I did everything from buying a tinghun guide book, to asking notes from my friends who had their tinghun before. I even went back and forth to Ongpin to seek advice and tips from tinghun experts.

Tip: It is ok to seek assistance from experts, but be warned that following everything they say could make you spend more than you should. Which will lead me to the next tip:

Traditional or Modern?

Set your rules. Discuss with your partner on how you want your tinghun to be. This will also depend on the couple's parents. Most couples nowadays prefer a more modern engagement, but since some parents want to strictly follow tradition and culture, couples have to respect their elders' requests.

Some couples though are given the freedom to plan their tinghun. This way, couples can go for the more practical stuff and avoid spending on things that are no longer necessary.

In our case, we went for a modern engagement but still retained essential traditions.

Set a Date

Once you have discussed the extent of your tinghun, you can now set the tinghun date. People usually ask for an auspicious date from an expert. Lucky for us, D's grandfather knows how to check an auspicious date for our engagement- October 7, 2018 (Sunday).

Look for a Reception Venue 

Traditionally, tinghuns are done at the house of the bride. Nowadays, these are done in hotels or Chinese restaurants that offer packages inclusive of everything you'll need during the event.

We chose New World Makati Hotel as our reception venue and availed their Classic Tinghun Package.

Book your Suppliers

Think of your tinghun as a practice for your wedding, but more intimate. That said, there are suppliers that will make your tinghun special and memorable. Usual suppliers are: Coordinator, Host, Photographer, Videographer, Stylist, Cake supplier.

We didn't hire a coordinator since I wanted to be hands-on with the preparations. Hiring a coordinator is very helpful for couples with busy schedules and who don't have time to prepare for the engagement. We did not hire a host either as we invited only a few close friends and families. Instead, I had my brother do the hosting and provided him a script during the event.

We didn't get a videographer during our tinghun, and just booked a photographer for photo coverage.

Since we got a package from New World Makati, the backdrop, decors, and cakes were all included.

Prepare your Checklist

This will be the most important thing for your tinghun preparations. There's  a groom's checklist and a bride's checklist. Make sure you have everything listed here, and planning your tinghun will be a breeze.

Girl's Checklist:
 A pair of cakes (with names and sanghee) 8”- can now be same size for equality
 Men’s Watch
 Men’s Medallion Necklace
 Men’s Bracelet (Optional)
 8 pcs. Pomelo/Suha  (there will be an exchanging of suha)
 I-sit Chao Hu- can be bought as a set from Diao Eng Chay
 120 pcs raw eggs with Sanghee stickers on each (60 pcs in each basket, 2 baskets)
 2 kilos of uncooked rice (1kg each pack, 2 packs)
 Chinese Hopia Set (DEC)- kasaipia/kasaike (depends on how many groom side requires)
 2 basket of assorted goodies to be given to boy’s side
 Red satin to cover table for display during ceremony
 Sanghee stickers to be placed in any gift given to boy’s side
 New clothing for the groom- placed in red engagement box with Sanghee
 Red Juice or Orange Juice to be served as soon as ceremony starts
 Assorted candies in Chinese candy tray to be served after the juice
 Pastries and snacks for the guests
 Tea in tea cups to be served during ceremony
 Sweet Tea Soup with 2 pieces eggs, 2 Ang cho, 2 pcs Tang Kwe
*No need to finish soup. Can eat 1 egg, then cut the other egg in half.
*Must eat both Ang Cho and Tang Kwe.  Else do not eat them.
 Cooked Misua to be served to engagement party
 Chopsticks and Chinese Soup Spoon
 Gown, shoes, accessories for the engagement
 Angpao for Sin Na carriers (4 pax)
 Tinghun backdrop
 Shoes for the mother of the groom

Boy's Checklist:
 Corsage and Boutonniere
 Sets of Jewelry
 4 red envelops (1 pair with small amount, 1 pair big amount) – to be returned
 Ready to wear dresses for bride placed in red engagement boxes with Sanghee stickers
 A pair of Sin-Na or Chinese layered basket (each layer with Sanghee)
*You can borrow but remember to give a token of goodwill
*All gifts brought by boy side should be placed in Sin-Na (should come in even-numbered dozens)
*Items not placed in Sin-Na should be put in boxes with sanghee stickers
*bride side should return half the contents of the sin-na to the groom side
 2 Flower Bouquets
 8 pieces Pomelo/Suha
 Loot bags for the giveaways to guests (8 items per bag)
- Orange, Apple, Fruit Cocktail, Chocolate, Cookies, Candies, Sweets, Biscuits
You can go for the traditional items like pork leg, misua, peaches, fruit cocktail, but in our case, we went for cookies and sweets for the guests, and bought only the traditional items to be placed inside the sin-na.
 Ladies Watch
 Ladies medallion necklace
 2 Chinese Bangles bonded by red thread
 Wedding Rings
 Gift for the senior member of the girl- cloth fabric in box with sanghee
 Gifts for the girl’s parents- textile for coat for men, textile cloth for women
 Groom’s suit and shoes for the engagement

That is basically it! I may have missed some other items on the checklist, but these are just what we decided to follow.  We were lucky with New World Makati's tinghun package, as they provided most of the items needed during the ceremony like teacups, bowls, engagement ceremony food etc.

Here are some photos of what happened during our Tinghun day:


Makeup by Julius Cabanisas of Luxe Bridal Beauty
Hair by: Dennis Agaton

Tinghun gown by: Desino Dulce

Grooming by: The Urban Barber

Family Photos

Tinghun essentials and checklist:

DIY invitations

Tinghun cakes by: Cake Concepts

Tinghun essentials: candy tray and i-sit

tinghun essentials: 120 eggs and pomelo
Textile fabric for elders
Loot bags for giveaways

Sets of new clothes for the bride
8 kinds of goodies inside the loot bag
Wedding Rings by: Mayfair
Flower bouquets by: Royal Flower Shoppe by Gina Galang

sets of jewelries
a pair of watch, gold bangles and gold medallion
pair of small and big angpao

a pair on Sin-Na or chinese layered basket

Kasaipia/Kasaike "son-in-law cakes" from Diao Eng Chay
 Ceremony proper:

Groom enters with bouquets

Male relatives carry the Sin-Na

Bride enters walking backwards assisted by "lucky aunt"

Female relative of bride serves juices

female relative of bride serves candies

Groom put corsage to bride

Bride pins boutonniere on groom
Gift Giving: Groom side
Gift Giving: Bride side

Wearing of wedding rings
Groom introduces bride to the engagement party
Bride serves tea to groom's family
This is the time when you call your in-laws "Ma and Pa"

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Tinghun finally down, and one last push to go- the wedding day. Preparing for both tinghun and wedding may be exciting, but it can also be stressful at the same time. 

A month before our tinghun day, I was worried I won't be able to fit in my gown. It was quite tight that we decided to adjust it by an inch so I can wear it comfortably. Since our tinghun was a very special day for us, I wanted to look good and feel good. We regularly went to the gym, stayed away from unhealthy food and avoided eating out.

Then, I learned about The Zen Institute- A Medical Spa through a former schoolmate. I've always been curious if these non-invasive medical clinics really work. I know for a fact that these treatments cost a lot of money, and results depend on each person. I thought, if results aren't guaranteed, why bother trying it in the first place. 

But since it was for a special day, I decided to try their services. I scheduled for a free consultation to know which treatment is best for my problem areas and how much it would cost.

The consultation started with a one on one session with The Zen Institute's resident doctor. I filled up a form with my details, had my measurements taken, and we talked about my problem areas for assessment.

After the consultation, the doctor then recommended the right treatment and services to address my problem. She recommended UltraLift and Mesolipo. I was told that results can be seen after 3-5 sessions, and that I can do both treatments at the same time. They recommended 5 sessions for each treatment (once a week) just in time for our tinghun day.

Ultralift /Ultralipo is a soothing massage-like treatment that uses ultrasound cavitation targeting the cell membranes of the fat cells and breakdown and release the triglycerides. The massage also promote lymphatic drainage thereby improving appearances of cellulite.

Mesolipo on the other hand involves an injection of a fat-dissolving cocktail on specific areas of the body to melt the unwanted fat and create the desired contour. Virtually painless as micro needles are used to administer the medicine directly into the fat.

If you know me, that's a big no-no. I've always hated needles. The last time I had my vaccine, I ran out of the clinic and bit the arms of my pedia. I was 5 years old. Right after college, I had to take a blood test for a medical exam, I literally cried like a baby inside the hospital.

After much contemplation, I realized I had to face my fear once and for all. So, I finally decided to do it. I conditioned my mind and body for my first session and went to The Zen Institute in Binondo.

Just when I was ready for my first session, I was told that I still need to take a skin test to check if the medicine will cause some skin reactions. And only 3 days after the skin test can they start to perform the procedure. Talk about prolonging my agony. But plus points for ensuring and prioritizing their patient's safety and health.

I went back the next week for my first session.

We started with the  Ultralipo/Ultralift.

It was done in a private room with storage space for your personal belongings, clean towels and sheets, and the machine that will be used for the session.

After cleaning the surface area of my arms, a cold gel was applied all over.

Then a small hand-held device with metal plate was used to massage my arms. It was quite relaxing except for the buzzing noise coming from the machine. I was told that only I can hear the "tinnitus" sound or ultrasonic sound waves from the machine. It took around 8 minutes per arm, total of 16 minutes for both arms.

The Mesolipo was administered by a resident doctor since it involved a series of injection on the arms. An ice pack was used to numb the area of the skin. Trust me when I say, the burn from the ice hurt more than the actual injection. The medicine used (Phosphatidylcholine) for the Mesolipo is one of the safest medicine there is and is soy-based so you won't really feel a thing.

I can't help but laugh at myself whenever I see this photo.

There it goes!

Look Ma! I didn't cry!

The arms may show some bruises after a few days, but that is normal and will clear up after 5 days.

Now the big question is, DID IT REALLY WORK?

Let these photos do the talking:



First photo was during my first session and second photo was one month after the first session. I literally saw the big difference especially on the arms. So, yes, it actually worked for me.

I had a total of 2 Mesolipo sessions and 3 Ultralipo before achieving this result. I plan to continue the sessions before the big day and hoping I'll achieve optimal results soon.

The Zen Institute A Medical Spa
2F Downtown Center Bldg., 518 Quintin Paredes Rd. Binondo, Manila
Tel num: 255-0403
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No cook? No problem! Flour Plan is here to save the day! Flour Plan is subscription box that makes cooking at home easier and hassle-free. With Flour Plan's Do-It-Yourself Recipe Kits, you are this close to preparing your own meal without the trial and error. 

Flour Plan basically makes your cooking life easier with their pre-measured ingredients, a recipe card to follow, and some tools to help you in cooking a hassle-free meal and a personalized dining experience.

I was sent a Flour Plan box earlier last month consisting of their Family Size Recipe Kit. My recipe of the day was Flour Plan's Skillet Sausage N' Rice. Each recipe kit costs Php450 which is already good for 5 or more people. 

The box includes everything you'll need to recreate the dish. Everything is neatly packed and ingredients are guaranteed fresh so make sure you refrigerate the ingredients immaediately upon receiving the kits. 

There is a recipe card with list of ingredients and a step-by-step procedure that you just have to follow for a successful Flour Plan experience.

My first Flour Plan meal was a success. It didn't look as mouthwatering as the one in the photo, but taste-wise it was really good. 

Flour Plan also offers 2-person serving kits at Php350, ideal for those living solo or independently. They offer free delivery for Metro Manila residents and orders are sent out every Saturday. 

There are a lot more recipes available on the Flour Plan website from savory dishes to delightful sweets and desserts.

Check out www.flourplanph.com for  more recipes and how to avail your first order. 
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Popcorn is a whole grain that is made into a delicious snack made from a breed of corn that, when cooked, has a crunchy feeling. Popcorn has various health benefits, not known to many since its high in antioxidants. Sometimes even more than many fruits and vegetables. It’s also a good source of fiber.

You can pair a bowl of popcorn with a glass of cold beverage or ice cream while watching movie.

However, many people love eating popcorn although some of them do not know exactly how it’s prepared. If not well prepared your popcorn might not end up being as tasty as it should be. Preparation involves not only the right equipment, but also the right oil and amount of oil. Here are 4 tips to making your own popcorn at home and ensure that it has the best crunchy feel and flavor that you want.

Check the method

Popcorn is not just made using any method. For you to have the best and healthy popcorn, you need to air-pop it to ensure that you retain all the nutrients that are in it. Air-popping uses no oil, reducing the amount of calories that you end up consuming. Alternatively, you can pop it in oil, but this is not a healthy way since there is a large portion of fat that you ingest.

Consider the cooking equipment

People use different cooking equipment when making popcorn. One of the fastest ways home users like using is the microwave popcorn method. However, this is not a healthy method, especially due to the fact that it often contains too much salt. Also try and limit kettle corn where the popcorn is made by mixing it with refined sugar, salt and oil. There is a high chance of large calorie and salt intake when use a kettle.

The best equipment to use to make your own popcorn is a popcorn machine or cooking stove. It makes the popcorn not only to taste great, but it’s also fast. However, since using a stove requires that you make the popcorn with oil, it can be dangerous, especially if you are not keen on the amount of oil you use. Use at least 2 tablespoons for making your own popcorn and avoid using too much.

Consider the portion sizes

Portion sizes are very important when it comes to making your own popcorn. Though each serving size depends on the type of popcorn you are making, mostly, one cup of plain popcorn is almost 30 calories so you need to manage the portion sizes well. You should also avoid adding toppings since this will increase the calorie count.

Choose the right cooking oil

The best cooking oil to make your own popcorn is extra virgin olive, walnut or avocado oils. These oils have low cholesterol. Alternatively, you can use palm and coconut oils sparingly. But try and avoid butter, corn, sunflower and soybean oils.

When it comes to picking out toppings, you do not need to include toppings since they are not healthy. But, if you must, choose healthier, lighter toppings to spice up your popcorn though basically the above four tips should start you off on the right foot.
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Assi Fresh Plaza is one of the leading Korean groceries in the country with over 17 branches nationwide. Operated by MJ Global Corp., the Korean food store offers almost all your Korean needs. They have premium Korean fruits, noodles, snacks, chips, candies, chocolates, soup and other Korean food products you can think of. Basically, it is a haven of all things Korean.

With Filipinos still high on the Korean fever, Assi Fresh Plaza continuously finds a way to promote not only their Korean products, but the Korean culture in general as well. 

Through Assi Fresh Plaza sampling events, the Korean store is able to share some of their best-selling products to the Filipinos. This is a way to let us have a taste of their Korean goodies which we only often watch from Koreanovelas and movies. 

Assi Fresh Plaza holds a sampling event every month to generate consumer feedback and study Filipino preferences for future product development. The sales promotion aims to let people try their food products, and at the same time generate awareness on other Korean products we might not know of. 

On December 8 (Saturday), Assi KFood Antenna Shop in Laguna is set to prepare various Korean food and product samples for everyone visiting their branch. This will be a major sampling event you can't miss. Get to try new and classic Korean favorites and other food products in store. 

I was able to have my own product sampling from Assi Fresh Plaza, and these are what they had me try. 

First few items that caught my attention were these big round fruits of pear and apples. They were very fragrant and the sizes were bigger than usual especially the Korean pear. 

Korean Gimje Pear is widely known throughout Korea for its high quality. It is exceptionally big, crunchy, sweet and juicy, no wonder Koreans and even Filipinos love this! 

As juicy, crunchy and sweet as the pear, are these Geochang Apples beautifully encased in a clear packaging. Each case has 3 round apples perfect to give as a gift this holiday season. 

These Korean fruits are all organic and free from chemical and preservatives, so you can enjoy it as a healthy snack any time of the day. 

Nongshim Noodles is no stranger to me as we always have some stocks of their Shin Ramen at home. This one is another variant called Chapagetti or Jjajangmyeon- noodles in sweet black soybean sauce. For Korean ramen lovers who can't take the heat, this is definitely for you. Another non-spicy find is the Pho Instant Vietnamese Noodle Soup

For those looking for a healthy snack, the Neo Crispy Roll is a great option. They are baked, not fried, and comes in cream cheese, vanilla and cheddar flavors. What makes it healthy is that it is made with 21 Whole Grains & 8 Vegetables.

Care for something light and easy to prepare? This Poorrm Cup Rice Porridge is the answer to a quick and tasty breakfast meal.  You just have to put hot water, wait for 3 minutes, and you are good to go.

Visit Assi K-Food Antenna Shop in Laguna this coming December 8, and try some of these Korean goodies for yourself. 

Enjoy the taste of healthy and delicious Korean Food only at Assi K-Food Antenna Shop or Assi Fresh Plaza near you.
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Planning our tinghun was both exciting and challenging. We already have an auspicious date, but what's next? It was time to look for a reception venue. We inquired with a lot of restaurants and hotels, and compared all their packages and offers. Being the frugal person that I am, I considered booking suppliers separately on my own thinking that it would save us more than getting a complete package. Good thing we learned about New World Makati's Classic Tinghun Package that basically covers almost all our requirements at a very reasonable price. Add the fact that the food will be prepared by the hotel's in-house Chinese restaurant Jasmine- one of D's family's favorite Chinese restaurants.

And if you are familiar with most Chinese families, you'll know that they prioritize food above anything else when hosting an event or reception. 

With Jasmine's Executive Chef Wong Kam On helming the kitchen for our tinghun, we were confident that we will be in good hands, and that our guests not only will be satisfied with the taste of the dishes, but will also be satisfied with the serving size of the food.

But before going on with the food, here are the amenities and inclusions of New World Makati's Classic Tinghun Package:

Professional bridal consultant 
Elegant reception venue 
Engagement ceremony noodles, sweets and eggs (maximum of 14 persons) (braised misua noodles, red dates and dried winter melon, and 28 pieces of hard-boiled eggs) 
Two (2) pieces round fondant cake 
Chilled orange juice (maximum of 14 persons) 
One (1) round of iced tea for all the guests 
Fresh flower centerpiece for all tables 
Engagement backdrop 
One (1) set wrist corsage and boutonniere for the couple 
Two (2) bouquet of spring flowers as giveaways 
Choice of sumptuous set Chinese Lauriat menus 
Two (2) sets of personalized menu card per table 
Overnight stay in a bridal suite with buffet breakfast for two (2) persons at Café 1228

Let me go into detail the major inclusions of New World Makati's tinghun package.

Professional Bridal Consultant

Who needs a coordinator and a host, when you have Ms. Sapphira Chua, assistant director of events management at New World Makati.

The first time we met Ms. Sapphira was when we dropped by the events gallery to inquire for event and banquet packages. She still accommodated us even when it was past office hours.

She then invited us to the Official Launch of New World's Tinghun Engagement Package so we can better understand and experience their services.

She continued to be as accommodating even after we made our booking. She became more than a personal tinghun consultant, she became a friend.

Thank you Ms. Sapphira for everything you've done for us. From our preparations, to the ceremony proper, until the end of the event, you made sure everything was in order. We can't thank you enough for your genuine kindness, hospitality and unparalleled service.

Elegant Reception Venue
One of the main reasons we chose New World Makati for our tinghun reception was the Glasshouse.

The moment we saw the Glasshouse, we knew it was the perfect setting for an intimate gathering of friends and families. The place was bright and cozy, with natural light beaming through the large glass windows. The Glasshouse can fit up to a maximum of 8 tables. Since our total guest count was almost 100pax, we went for 8 tables of 12s, instead of 10 tables of 10s which would require a ballroom setup. New World Makati Hotel's tables are bigger than the average size, so it can comfortably accommodate 12 persons.

Engagement Ceremony Noodles and Sweet Tea Eggs

We didn't expect much on the traditional misua and sweet tea eggs, but everyone on the engagement table was pleasantly surprised with the ceremony noodles and soup. The effort put on each bowl was evident as the misua was really good, and the sweet egg soup was a delight to the palate.

Two 8" Round Fondant Cakes from Cake Concepts

I really wanted a beautiful couple's cake for our tinghun. But since it was already included in the package, I thought I'd just settle for a standard round cake with a classic design. You know how it is with package inclusions, either you chose from a pre-designed simple option, or customize your own design but at an additional cost.

Lucky for us, New World Makati is tied up with Cake Concepts to supply the cakes for their tinghun package. I touched base with Cake Concepts through Ms. Maite Gregorio, who was kind enough  to accommodate my cake design at no additional cost. The finished product was exactly how I envisioned our cakes would be- simple, elegant and most importantly, delicious!

Thank you Cake Concepts and Ms. Maite for our lovely and delicious cakes.

Engagement Backdrop by Royal Flower Shoppe 

Another package inclusion that saved us thousands of pesos was this beautiful grass wall with cascading silk flowers provided by New World Makati's in-house florist/stylist.

I've inquired with several backdrop suppliers, and most of them cost around 12k-25k depending on backdrop size and design. Fortunately, New World Makati's in-house florist/stylist is none other than the renowned Ms. Gina Galang of Royal Flower Shoppe. We didn't get to choose our own design as it was the standard backdrop inclusion, but it was already more than what we wanted.

Two Bouquet of Spring Flowers 

Royal Flower Shoppe also provided our bouquets of flowers for giveaways to all the single ladies during our tinghun.

Thank you Eunice and Ms. Gina for our beautiful tinghun backdrop and fresh floral bouquets.

Overnight Stay in Bridal Suite with breakfast for 2

This was a convenient inclusion for us since we were able to endorse most of our tinghun checklist items the day before. The hotel concierge assisted us in bringing things from the room to the event venue.

Staying at the hotel overnight was also helpful during preps as we did not have to drive all the way from our house to the hotel on our tinghun day. We had spare time for preps and pictorial, and the buffet breakfast at Cafe 1228 was an added bonus as well.

Choice of Chinese Lauriat Set Menu

The highlight of our tinghun package was the food and set menu from Jasmine.

We opted for a classic menu good for 12 persons. I was initially worried that serving size wouldn't be enough for 12pax. But come tinghun day, I personally witnessed the generous serving size of each dish. In fact, everyone at the VIP table was already so full halfway through the meal.

We asked around for feedback from guests, and most if not all raved about the food's taste, quality, and generous serving size of the dishes. Everyone was satisfied, full, and happy, and that's what really matters most for our families.

Thank you Chef Wong, the whole Jasmine team, and events/banquets team for a job well done!

We definitely made the right and best decision of having our Tinghun at New World Makati Hotel. Everything was hassle-free and service was top notch. The only concern we had during the event was the malfunctioning of the air conditioning units, which was immediately taken care of by the team.

Our Tinghun at New World Makati was certainly one for the books. Thank you to all friends and families who came, and to all suppliers who made our tinghun a memorable one.

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The famous SHAKE SHACK of New York City is shakin' up Manila as it finally hits the Philippine shores. The critically-acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand is coming to Manila and set to open its first store in the first quarter of 2019

Shake Shack Chick n' Shack

Shake Shack has partnered with SSI Group, Inc. in bringing Filipinos their first ShackBurger®, made with 100% angus beef, plus other best-selling menu items like Shack-cago Dog®, classic crinkle cut fries, wine, frozen custard ice cream and more.

Shake Shack intends to work with local purveyors and producers to create a one-of-a-kind Shake Shack for the Manila community, in keeping with its mission to Stand for Something Good®

Shake Shack Shack Burger

Shake Shack 'Shroom Burger

Shake Shack Flat-top Dog

Shake Shack has earned a cult following across America and all over the world. With its fine-dining heritage, commitment to real, premium ingredients, and fun and lively environment, Shake Shack is the burger joint Filipinos have been waiting for.

“It is with great pleasure that we announce the partnership between Shake Shack Inc. and the SSI Group,” says SSI Group President Anton Huang. “This is a testament of our company’s vision of enhancing lives and providing only the best for the ever-evolving Filipino consumer. Celebrating our 30th anniversary this year makes the partnership with this well-loved global brand even more meaningful to us. Staying true to Shake Shack’s mission to Stand For Something Good, we, at the SSI Group, are committed to continuously enrich the lives of our customers by offering the most rewarding curated lifestyle experiences. With the arrival of Shake Shack in the Philippines, we are excited to be amongst the first in Asia that will be home to the renowned American casual restaurant chain.”

Shake Shack Vice President of Global Licensing Michael Kark adds,"Manila is an incredible city; its heart beats with a distinct warmth and hospitality. We are excited to begin the search for our first site in Metro Manila and look forward to becoming part of this community.” 

Since the original Shake Shack opened in 2004 in NYC’s Madison Square Park, the company has expanded to more than 170 locations in 21 U.S. States and the District of Columbia, and more than 60 international locations including London, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dubai, Tokyo, Moscow, Seoul and now Manila. 

In its fourteen-year history, Shake Shack has been recognized with countless accolades,including Bon Appetite’s "The 20 Most Important Restaurants in America" (ranked #16), TIME Magazines "17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time" (ranked #7 for the ShackBurger) and winning "Best Burger" in 2007 and 2014 at the South Beach Wine and Food Festivals Burger Bash.

For more information, please visit: www.shakeshack.com or www.facebook.com/shakeshack.
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Hop Inn Hotel, under Thai hospitality firm, The Erawan Group PLC, recently opened its third branch in Aseana City. The Hop Inn Hotel chain, now with 30 hotels in Thailand and three in the Philippines, continues to provide excellent value for money for its guests, whether they be staying for a month-long business assignment in the metro or simply needing a secure and comfortable room for a night or two.

At Hop Inn Aseana City, guests enjoy the very best of their money’s worth and more with rates as low as PHP1,600 net per room night. A very small cost for such big hospitality.

Hop Inn Hotel Aseana, is located just 10-minutes away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and right in the center of Metro Manila’s fast- rising entertainment and commercial capital, Aseana City- one of the landmark developments to rise in the envisioned grandest gaming and entertainment complex in Asia, Entertainment City Manila.

Hop Inn Hotels are well-loved for their staff’s service friendliness, as they greet you upon check-in. Guests are assured of an enjoyable and worry-free stay by Hop Inn Aseana City’s cheerful and superb professional staff ready and available to assist 24/7.

Hop Inn Aseana City has ample parking available for in-house guests, as it promises two floors of spacious and secure parking spaces, absolutely free!

Hop Inn Hotel Aseana boasts 196 well-appointed rooms reflecting the signature Hop Inn aesthetic.

What’s more, guests who wish to enjoy an even more comfortable stay can book one of Hop Inn Aseana City’s Deluxe Rooms, a special room type available only at Hop Inn Hotel Aseana.

The 22 sq. m. Deluxe Room is designed for extra space and relaxation and comes with a queen bed with quality linen, a spacious bathroom, a cozy sofa, and coffee and tea facilities.

It has the basic amenities you'll need for a comfortable stay- clean bed and baths, air-conditioned rooms, high-speed wifi connection, cable TV, hot and cold shower, a workstation, hair dryer, bottled water, and other room extras. Hop Inn hotel also prides itself with providing a high standard of security across all of its hotels. A secure key card access to rooms and elevators, an in-room safe, and round-the-clock security and CCTV operations that make for a safe and serene stay.

While Hop Inn Aseana City is the best choice for budget-conscious business and leisure travelers, it is the perfect jumping-off point to their #travelgoals or a comfortable yet affordable launch pad for an epic layover in Manila.

A guaranteed #OneStopHop for budget travelers in the city, Hop Inn Hotel Aseana City, Manila perfectly captures the brand’s Four Pillars Promise: Cleanliness, Convenience, Comfort, and Security.

Aside from being accessible to the NAIA airports, the hotel is conveniently a 2- minute walk from the Department of Foreign Affairs Aseana and a few hops from Asia’s largest retail and events complex, SM Mall of Asia. It’s also right next door to the country’s premier performance venues and grandest casinos: Mall of Asia Arena, Solaire, City of Dreams, and Okada Manila.

Mr. Petch Krainukul, the newly- appointed President of The Erawan Group PLC, who graced the hotel’s ribbon- cutting ceremony on May 7th, 2018, proudly shared news of more Hop Inn Hotels #HoppingSoon in the Metro this year: Hop Inn Hotel Alabang opening in July, and Hop Inn Tomas Morato slated for a December 2018 grand opening.

Mr. Krainukul was also very honored to officially announce a collaboration between Hop Inn Hotel and multinational hospitality giant, IHG or Intercontinental Hotels Group, to bring to life a dual- brand hotel development in the heart of Cebu City’s bustling I.T. Park.

Hop Inn Hotel Cebu will proudly rise side by side with one of IHG’s biggest global brands, Holiday Inn. This mega project will surely be a relevant boost to the Queen City’s already massive tourism industry as well as an excellent employment opportunity for more Filipinos in the region.

For more information about Hop Inn Hotel, visit www.hopinnhotel.com and follow their social media pages at www.facebook.com/hopinnhotelph and hopinnhotelph on Twitter and Instagram.

Hop Inn Hotel Aseana
Lot 9 Block 5 cor. Bradco Ave. Macapagal Blvd. Aseana Business Park, Aseana City Paranaque
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Queensland is absolutely massive, something most people don't realize until they actually step foot into Australia. It spans from Coolangatta in the south to Cape York in the north and, in all, is about twice the size of Texas. It's also full of adventure and hearty personalities. The main attraction, however, is the incomparable Great Barrier Reef that stretches for 2300 kilometers. 

Photo source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

Book a boat trip to get a beautiful look at what lies beneath the water's foamy white caps. There are plenty of chances to explore this world wonder, whether you chose to strap on a snorkel or just get your toes wet. Port Douglas is a particularly great getaway for those trying to see the reef in all its glory. They have both ritzy accommodations and dining to boot. Plus, they have a whole marina of boats ready and waiting for you to see the world and float out to the highlights of the reef. 

Explore the Great Barrier Reef from above

If you aren't ready to take the plunge into the water, a day trip in a glass-bottomed boat is only one of the many ways to explore the reef. A scenic flight from Cairns or the Whitsundays is also a great way to gain a macro-perspective on its beauty. A reef walk is yet another dry-footed pick, especially at the southern sections of the reef during low tide, which become completely exposed. Hint: go to Heron Island. 

The Whitsundays

Photo source: www.pixabay.com

Located halfway up the coast of Queensland, the Whitsunday Islands are a tropical oasis. Photogenic, daiquiri-soaked, and worthy of a thousand photos, the archipelago is comprised of 74 islands. Accommodations range from luxury resorts on Hamilton, Daydream, and Hayman islands to budget bedrooms on Hook Island. A sailing trip is definitely a must-book and a yacht would be the best way to cast yourself off into the sunset to end a beautiful day along the white sand beaches. 

Travel Tip: Whether you're visiting family in Australia, on a business jaunt or taking a couples get-away, take off on your next flight knowing you've got cover with travel insurance. Expect the unexpected, and protect your trip.

Daintree Rainforest

Photo source: www.daintreerainforest.com

With more than 3000 plant species filling this 1200 square kilometer rainforest, this remarkable place is certainly worth visiting. There are countless critters, crocs, and birds to be seen and it's the largest tract of tropical rainforest in the country. It's also home to more native wildlife than you'd ever think possible. The lush green forest tumbles downwards towards white sandy beaches that are serenaded by bird songs and fan palms. Countless activities will keep you busy, from wildlife spotting and mountain treks to tropical fruit orchards, boardwalks, horse riding, cruises, kayaking, and so much more. 

Lady Elliot Island

Photo source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

If you're looking for something a little less touristy than the islands further north, the Capricorn Coast is worth looking into. Lady Elliot is ideal for wildlife watching and snorkeling, and it's also the best place along the reef to spot manta rays. Relaxed vibes and unpretentious hotels can also be found at Great Keppel. Meanwhile, Island Heron has a fantastic family resort experience to offer. 

Fraser Island, located a few hundred kilometers north of Brisbane, is the largest sand island in the world, spreading 1,840 square kilometers. Pack a snorkel and hire a 4WD to explore it. Ferry over to Fraser's grand beaches and spot the shipwrecks, the forests, and the fresh-water lakes that surround the rampant wildlife of the area. You're sure to see some wallabies, dingoes, echidnas, birds of prey and plenty of reptiles. 
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Last week, we took the Eatigo 1K Food Challenge and dined in one of their partner restaurants. The goal was to book a table via Eatigo app and enjoy a meal with only Php1000 budget to spend. It will be easy to do when you are going for a light snack at a nearby cafe or fast food. But when you plan to have lunch or dinner at casual dining restaurant, an eat-all-you-can restaurant even, now that is a challenge.

And when a food challenge gets thrown at us, we foodies never back down. Would you believe that a Php1,000 budget can get two diners a filling meal with drinks and even dessert?

Yes, and we did! With the right app, at the right place at the right time, we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch, an eat all you can meal for that matter, at Shabu-Shabu Ichiban in Banawe.

Booking via Eatigo was easy. I just looked for a restaurant nearby, and chose a time slot with its corresponding discount. Now, we just have to show up at the restaurant on the specified time, and enjoy the discount on our total food bill.

I made a reservation at Shabu-Shabu Ichiban in Banawe for our office lunch out last Friday. It was a bed weather day and so we opted for something to warm our bellies.

I booked the 11:00am timeslot with 30% discount for their Eat & Drink All You Can menu.

They have 3 sets to choose from, but unfortunately only Set A was available that time. 

Regular Price for Set A is P488/head. Our total bill would have been Php976 for 2 persons, but since we booked via Eatigo with 30% discount, our total bill went down to Php683.20 (P300 savings).

Step One: Choose Your Drink
Enjoy unlimited refills of iced tea, lemonade, pineapple, soda and hot tea while enjoying your shabu-shabu.
Step Two: Choose Your Soup
Shabu-shabu Ichiban has a wide selections of soup to choose from. You can order 2 kinds of broth, but the succeeding refills will just be their regular plain soup. 
Step Three: Choose Your Set 
There are 3 sets availabl which can get you unlimited refills of premium meat, mixed balls, tempura, king crab and more, depending on the set you will choose.

Our chosen Set A included unlimited servings of vegetables, beef and pork slices, dumplings and assorted balls, noodles, rice, egg and drinks.

We also got one serving of Kushikatsu and Japanese-style Fried Chicken Wing.

Shabu-Shabu Ichiban is a self-service restaurant where diners can get the ingredients they want from the chiller. This is to prevent leftovers and for diners to have control over the servings they can only consume.

We got the Curry and Ginger for our soup base, and basically tried everything on the chiller.

Our favorites were the beef slices, mozzarella balls, and stuffed buns. The dumplings were also interesting served without the wrapper, but in paste form.

Overall, Shabu-Shabu Ichiban has the essential ingredients for a hotpot meal. What makes it unique is its wide selection of soup base and the options to have unlimited king crab legs, tempura, chicken wings, etc.

Shabu-Shabu Ichiban Menu:

For me, what made our experience really worth it was the discount we got from Eatigo. I couldn't believe that our eat all you can lunch costs only Php340 per person. A bottomless drink alone would already cost P120 in other restaurants, and two scoops of ice cream would cost around P100.

Eatigo is definitely the perfect app for foodies who loves to score amazing deals and discounts when dining out. Plus, did I mention that the app is free for all Android and iOS users.

Download the Eatigo app here: Eatigo Free Download use promo code eati42aw and enjoy as much as 50% dining discounts from Eatigo's partner establishments. 

You too can take the Eatigo 1K Food Challenge and share your photos via social media with the hashtags #Eatigo1KFoodChallenge. 
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