Smokin'Hot Bar BQ

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two weeks ago, when I was checking my email - I was surprised to see one that came from Spanky!  You see, I've been in a sort of a food blogger hiatus - you know, being a mom and all.  I receive invites but needed to turn them down because of my priorities with kids.  So there, when I got an email from Spanky - I was delightfully surprised!  And I know I had to say YES, to whatever it is that he was inviting me to.  It was actually an invite to The Bistro's newest baby!

So there, I braved the traffic and drove all the way to Greenbelt to join the group in trying out this new restaurant.  I have to say, it feels nice to see familiar faces and it feels a bit off that I've been out of the loop for a long time!

Here are some of their dishes:

This is their Smokin' BarBQ Chicken - looks beautiful noh?  Well, it tastes even better!  The meat was oh-so tender and the flavor was fantastic!  This chicken was marinaded so well, it's really really good!  No exaggeration!  I had to made this huge so that you'd see how beautiful it is!!

This is their version of Kuhol!  
The sauce is really yummy, the snails though - were quite tough..

If you like the sour taste of Sampalok - then you have to try their
Sinampalukang Manok
I like mine REALLY maasim and this hits the spot right on!!

I am a rice person and I loved their Aligue Rice!
I had seconds and thirds!  Ask Abet, Jane and Jill!  Hahaha..

Turon 2.0
It's banana ice cream in a caramel brittle cone!

The fare is Filipino cuisine - and assuming from the restaurant name - I assumed it was a BBQ joint.  I was honestly impressed because they went beyond grilling.  The presentation was wonderful, I loved the coconut serving bowls!  The food tasted fantastic too!  I will definitely go back for more! :)    I must also add that their service was superb!  Customer service is very important for me and I am happy to report that they have trained their staff very well!!

Thank you The Bistro Group and Spanky for inviting me! :)  I am honored.

Smokin'Hot BarBQ
3rd Floor, Greenbelt 3

My opinion on the Kasambahay Bill

Friday, March 15, 2013

To be honest, I won't be adjusting much to the Kasambahay Bill because ever since (I learned from my mom) we've always given our helpers the SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig benefits that the current law requires.  Our (now, my mom's) helpers have enjoyed benefits from these three institutions, they were able to get Sickness benefits, refunds from PhilHealth and most importantly, they were able to borrow money.  So for the issue of the SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-ibig benefits - well, we already got it covered.

My issue with the Kasambahay Bill are the following:
a)  Required once a week day off
b)  The provision where you cannot deduct their 'utang' from their salaries
c)  The provision where you cannot deduct from their salaries if they break or destroy things
d)  Pre-Employment requirements (IDs, Birth & Baptismal Certificate, NBI Clearance, Medical Certificate)
e)  The 5 days notice that they will be leaving
f)  That deployment expenses cannot be deducted to their salaries if they leave you less than 6months

So let's discuss them one by one:

a)  Required once a week day off:
In all honesty, I really don't mind giving them a day off once a week.  The only problem I see with this is that, when the helper does not come back.  More often than not, when we allow them to go on a day off (especially if its overnight) they bring most of their things and then tell us that they will come back the following day, but then - they don't!

Since we are required to give them their salaries every 15th and 30th of the month - how should we hold the salaries?  Can we give them weekly?  I am confused on this because I am sure that when these helpers go out, they'd probably want/need some money for their expenses.  And I assure you, they would want to advance.

An issue my current Yaya told me was that - what if they only opt for the 1 day overnight day off - are they entitled for additional pay since they did away with the 'allowed' weekly day off?

b)  The provision where you cannot deduct their 'utang' from their salaries
This is actually not a problem for me, because I am very strict with my NO VALE, NO ADVANCE policy.  But I feel this is a problem for those employers who do lend and make advances to their helpers.  Here's a scenario:

Let's say you have Helper A, she told you that she has an emergency and she needs money.  You sympathize with her and give her 1 month's salary in advance.  Since the law requires that you give her a weekly day off - you allow her to go out with the assumption and personal assurance from her that she will come back.  Come next day - she doesn't show up.  What are you to do?

c)  The provision where you cannot deduct from their salaries if they break or destroys things
I understand that accidents happen.  But what it this accident happens OFTEN to the point of neglect already?  I am not saying that all helpers are not careful - but they sometimes don't care for our things because frankly - they are not theirs!  Like for example glasses, they deem that we have a lot of spare thus - they don't handle it with care!  Or let's say you have this labandera, who doesn't notice that a red sock is in a pile of white clothes to be laundered in the washing machine.  It was only when she cycle was done did she notice that everything is colored - pink!  What happens to those clothes?  If this happens, once - I can understand, but if it becomes a habit - well, are you just supposed to swallow all those pink clothes?

d)  Pre-Employment requirements (IDs, Birth & Baptismal Certificate, NBI Clearance, Medical Certificate)
Come on and be honest - do all of our househelp have the proper IDs on them?  They most of the time do not even have a birth certificate!  So how are we supposed to require them to get such?!  Plus, these certificates and clearances are not free - and their main purpose to work is to earn and even before they earn - they're already spending on these things.  We as the employers do our part and most of the time give in to shouldering all these costs - but what happens if they leave?  We can't withold their IDs and certificates right?  So - there, money down the drain, again!

e)  The 5 days notice that they will be leaving
Helpers have this nasty habit of not telling you the truth that they are leaving simply because they fear that you will not allow them to.  Personally - I am not like that, I am quite easy to talk to.  Just tell me truth of why you want to leave and I will not force you to stay.  Why force someone to say?  You'll just incur expenses and feed their tummies full!   They will tell you with promises that they will come back, even if they know that they won't.  As I always tell the helpers who go on a day off - to just say their honest intentions - that they will not come back, so we can immediately look for a replacement.

f)  That deployment expenses cannot be deducted to their salaries if they leave you less than 6months
We often shoulder their traveling expenses coming to us.  But what if they just use you to come to Manila?  This happened to a friend of mine - she was looking for a helper, and this helper said that she needed transportation expense - she asked to wire the money to her, so that she will be able to travel to Manila.  Thus, my friend wires her the money - and true enough, she comes and works for her - for only a few days then declares that she can't stand the work load and demands to leave.  My friend found out a few days later that she just agreed to work for her so that she can come to Manila to work for somebody else.  Based on the law - you cannot hold helpers in debt bondage.  So what happens to the transportation expense?  Are we just supposed to swallow it and smile? 

I think this part of the law should be rethought - IF the helper stays with you for at least 6 months, then I don't think you should still deduct her deployment expense, because at least - she stayed with you for 6 months and was able to help you out.  I say, that transportation expenses SHOULD be deducted in the first month and then REFUNDED after let's say at least 3 months.  Para fair diba?

Kwentong Kasambahay

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ahhh...  The age old tale of the kasambahays.

Can't live with them.. Can't live without them!

One fact I learned when I was a kid - that helpers and yayas come and go.  They will seem to be okay with their employers but backbite them to their fellow helpers.  They will one day be nice to you and another day be mean or make 'simangot' to you for no apparent reason.  They seem to have mood swings every now and then.  They will ask for a day off and promise to be back but never return.  They will make up excuses so that they'd be allow to leave to the point of killing all of their grandparents and more!  All of these issues boggle me to be honest.  I don't understand why these helpers can't just be honest.

In a certain household - there's katulong politics.  There's the 'head' the mayordoma - the one who orders everyone around.  The one you most trust (since she's been with you the longest)  Then, there are her minions - those who have been with you a shorter time, but long enough to be loyal to your mayordoma.  Then there are the newbies - the fresh meat, those new helpers.

It starts out harmoniously at first.  These people will try and get a feel of the dynamics of the heirarchy.  And then the situation is tested - as they say, familiarity breeds contempt.  The newbies get a hang of their role - some excel and some don't.  Those who excel get the approval of the 'Amo' and this irks the mayordoma.  The mayordoma then plans a coup, she will stir a bit of trouble with talk - and then it happens.  The ganging up begins - the minions of course, will side with the mayordoma leaving the newbies with just themselves.  In this kind of group dynamic - the losing side is the newbie - why?  Obviously, who will the Amo believe in?  The newbie who has just worked for you a few months or the mayordoma who (forewent getting married) has been with you for years?

There - the mayordoma truimphs.  She has learned to use her 'length of service' card as a ploy to get you to let go of the newbie.  Even if the talk isn't true and the newbie was just minding her own business - tendency is, (let's all admit it!) we listen more to our mayordomas.

The problem is - that we do not want to waste our energies in dealing with this katulong politics, that we just believe what our mayordoma says.  Thus, we let go of the newbie and maintain the mayordoma.  Since the mayordoma won, this gets into her head.  Now, she realizes - she now has power over the household.  She can now dictate how things will be with her minions - she can control them now.  If you want to stay, then stay loyal to her - kiss her ass why don't you, she now thinks that she has a say with hiring househelp.  She knows that - if push comes to shove, you will choose her - the Mayordoma.

Katulong politics is very much like Philippine politcs, there are trapos and the new breed.  We often hear from our elders 'Iba na ang mga kasambahay ngayon, wala ng loyalty, mapili sa trabaho'  Same goes true for local politcs - most run because they know they can get richer, there is no love of service and country, but only - greed.  The thirst for power is everything for them.  I remember the saying 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely' maybe our helpers need this control over other people to feel powerful?

Sigh.  Can't they just do their effing jobs?  I mean why is there a need for katulong politics?  Its as if someone is in the chopping block right?  And no one is!  In fact its them that has a hard time if kulang the househelp!  The mayordomas will do all the work, this then begs the question - WHY CAN'T THEY ALL JUST GET ALONG?  It will be beneficial to EVERYONE.

Seriously, why can't they just all get along, right?

It really boggles me, I mean really

I found these sites on a forum, it hope this helps!!

Help Watch - Watchlist of Yayas and Maids

Helper Skelter - Yaya & Helper Database

Update on Rotten Del Monte Pineapple Juice

Last March 6, I posted the images I took of the rotten can(s) of Del Monte Pineapple juice.

The next day, I called their hotline to inform them that I sent them an email with images but the email bounced back as the attached images were too big.  I was surprised when the operator asked if I was 'so and so' because they were about to call me.  So there, the procedure took a short while - they were asking for details such as when it was bought and where it was bought.  I only remembered where, but forgot the when.

She apologized on behalf of Del Monte and that they will send me a goodie bag and asked if they could have the 'damaged' items so they could further investigate.

The next day, I received the goodie bag - but mind you, the Del Monte Pineapple juices were no where to be found.  I was honestly just expecting them to replace the damaged/contaminated cans - but instead they sent me these:

I guess, FINE - for customer service sake, they're acceptable.  But I was expecting my pineapple juices!  Huhu...

Happy 2nd Birthday Kailee!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Happy Happy Birthday Kailee Inara!

There are so many things I want to say but can't seem to put them into writing.  And so I hope that the huge big (super superlative) hug that Mama will give you all throughout the day will suffice.  Thank you for bringing a smile on my face everyday.  Thank you too for bringing a smile on the faces of strangers when you randomly say 'Hi' to them. 

You have grown so much, developed so much that I can't seem to catch up!  You have constantly amazed everyone around you with your knowledge, ability and bubbly personality.  I hope that you continue to have that positive and happy attitude.

Thank you for being a loving Atchi to Connor.  Thank you for thinking of him and playing with him.

I wish you all the best things, life has to offer.

Remember always, that Mama loves you so very very very much.  Remember too that Mama will ALWAYS be here for you no matter what.

I love you Kailee!!

Happy Happy Happy Birthday.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

Thursday, March 07, 2013

I didn't realize that Shangri-La Mall has a new wing.  Has it been that long since I last went there?  Well, yeah!  Hahaha... I'm a Trinoma/Landmark addict - since they're nearby.

When my Panget tells me that we were going to Shangri-La, I was a bit disappointed.  You see, there are only a few dining options and most of which, I did not like.  So when we were parking, I was delighted ti know that there was a new wing!  Yey!

The new wing, looked - new.  But its still quite empty.  Only a handful of stores and restaurants were open.  The choices were - Filipino food or Japanese.  And while looking at the menu, we decided to try Ikkoryu Rukuoka Ramen.

Apparently, this joint was a franchise from, where else - Fukuoka, Japan!  And when you enter, you'd see that the cooks were - Japanese (or at least they looked Japanese!  Hahaha.. Just kidding)  The staff was nice enough to introduce the restaurant and its history and most importantly, the staff knew the menu inside out.  She then gave us recommendations and I have to say, I'm impressed - she did very very well!

Here are the ramen that we ordered:

I wasn't able to take a picture of the Karaage dish since Kailee had to eat it immediately (she was hungry at that time)  I have this habit of asking Yaya if the dishes I get for her are good - so when I asked her I was surprised to see in her eyes that the food was really good!  She gave me a piece to try and true enough - it was good! :)  My Panget was also curious, so he tried (yes, I'm sure you are thinking - kawawa naman si Yaya, nakikishare pa sila sa food niya!  Hahaha!) and he too agreed that it was good!

The verdict is:  Very Good!

For a Ramen virgin like me (I say this because I HAVE NOT tried Ukokkei YET) I find this joint good.  The broth was good and really hot (I like my soups boiling hot), the chasiu was flavorful and has this sort of melt-in-your-mouth and is not malansa.  The noodles were perfectly chewy, its exactly how I wanted it.

So there, I liked it and my family liked it. So, yes - we will definitely come back! :)

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen
Shangri-La Mall East Wing

Rotten Del Monte Pineapple Juice

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Just a few minutes ago, I was in the pantry looking for a juice to drink.

And then I saw... THIS


I immediately took pictures and sent Del Monte Philippines an email.  But it bounced back saying that my message was too big.  And so I decided to make this post, so I can just add the link to my message.  Let's hope they read this.  Tomorrow, I will call their hotline.

I also kept these cans.. Just in case Del Monte asks for a more concrete proof!


Starbucks' Asian Dolce Latte

Monday, March 04, 2013

Last Saturday, I was treated to a food pairing by Starbucks.

Food pairing you say?  I honestly thought it only was applicable to wines!  But lo and behold, we were all amazed that food, I mean real food can actually be paired with coffee!

I tell you, I was in awe - I never knew that food can taste as good when paired with coffee.  I think like wine, the flavors of the dishes stood out - without of course compromising the taste of coffee.

And so we were introduced to the Asian Dolce Latte.

So what's it all about?  Take a look!

See how beautiful it is?  Unfortunately, you won't be able to see the beauty of it when they serve it in the white cup!  But this is that it looks like!

Its a double espresso shot that is poured into steamed milk with Dolce sauce.  It tastes WONDERFUL - I am a lover of milk and this for me is THE perfect combination of coffee AND milk!  Do take the drink as it is, no need to mix of drink it with a stirrer straw (when applicable) because you'll get to experience the taste of the coffee and the milk as you finish the drink!  I love the creaminess of the milk at the bottom.

Here are some of the new food items on the menu!

This is my personal favorite:
Forest Ham and Monterey Jack Cheese on Brioche Bread

Dark Chocolate Turtle Cake

Crabstick Salad on French Butter Croissant

Salmon and Capers on Parmesan Bread

Available starting March 5, 2013