Twenty-two: Blackbird Makati

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Hello again, blog! I know I’ve been on hiatus for far too long already so I’m finally working on the huge backlog of posts I’ve got lined up. So many wonderful and exciting things have happened in the past few months and I promise I’ll write about all of them soon! But to get this blog back on track I’m starting off with a fairly recent one: my 22nd birthday celebration at Blackbird Makati. ☺

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Blackbird is an aviation-themed contemporary European and Asian restaurant owned by Chef Colin Mackay, the culinary genius behind Manila’s famed Sala and People’s Palace restaurants. Named after the world’s fastest air-breathing manned aircraft, it is located at the Nielson Tower in Ayala Triangle.

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Built in 1937, the Nielson Tower was once a part of the old Manila International Airport – the first airport ever built in the country. Its Art Deco elements and status as a heritage site proved very useful to Chef Mackay, who was able to transform Ayala’s only pre-WW2 structure into a sophisticated and contemporary international dining space.

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In case you want to relax and have a few drinks first before your meal, the restaurant has a wonderful al fresco bar area at the back. There’s also a lounge inside the building inspired by airport waiting rooms and Art Deco.

At the top of the restaurant’s spiral staircase you’ll find the historic Airport Terminal Tower, where the first news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor was heard. I was hoping we’d be seated somewhere with a good view so I couldn’t be happier when I found out that my companion had gotten us a table at the top of the tower itself.

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Chef’s special for the night: Duck Breast Salad (P640 + 10% service charge)

Instead of choosing our appetizers from the menu, we decided to give the chef’s specials for that night a try. This one was definitely our favorite. The duck was cooked perfectly and its rich taste blended so well with the sweetness of the marinated apples, the slight tang from the cheese, and the crunch from the pistachio crumble.

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Dry Rubbed Wagyu Hangar Steak, Mustard Butter, Fries (P980 + 10% service charge)

Always my favorite main. The medium rare steak was rich, buttery, and extremely tender – just the way Wagyu beef should be. ♥

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Lamb Rendang, Fried Egg, Pickles, Rice (P760 + 10% service charge)

I’m also a huge fan of lamb and I really enjoyed the dish’s medley of spices and textures. ☺

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Burnt Butter & Vanilla Seed Ice Creams, Chocolate Brownie, Candied Popcorn, Salted Caramel (P380 + 10% service charge)

You can probably see it from the photo but this was one indulgent dessert. We had to share since there was a lot (and we were full na haha)! I loved how the burnt butter ice cream carried such a rich buttery taste, and the fact that the dessert wasn’t too cloying thanks to the salty caramel and popcorn.

We didn’t take photos of our drinks but the Blackbird Iced Tea and Salty Lime Soda (I honestly can’t remember what it’s called, will check. Sorry!) were both good. They have a nice selection of wines too but we’re not too fond of wines (we’ll learn how to /adult/ some other time hahaha).

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Dining here is always such a feast for the eyes and the palate. The elegant, contemporary design coupled with the place’s historical significance gives Blackbird an undeniable and timeless charm. If you want to celebrate, go on a date, or just enjoy good food with friends and loved ones, this is the ideal place. It’ll always be one of our favorite restos for sure. ☺

BLACKBIRD by Chef Colin Mackay
Nielson Tower, Ayala Triangle, Makati City 
Telephone: 828-4888
Operating Hours: Open Daily 11.00am to 12.00mn
Budget: Around 2500-3000 per head (or more depending on the wine)

P.S. I promise I’ll work on all my other overdue ones soon! ☺

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Dear Orange

Orange #cat #GardenCats

A post shared by Cindy Cruz-Cabrera (@cindycatz) on

I still remember the day I first met you.

Mom and I were walking to the store when we suddenly heard this very loud, squeaky meowing outside of the house. It was really dark then, around 8 in the evening I think, and after carefully scanning the area we came across you – a tiny orange creature all alone in the middle of the road.

At first we were hesitant about picking you up. We knew that if we did, we would never be able to let you go alone again. Still, Mom picked you up in her hands and we brought you back home. A scared little kitten who kept trying to wander outside of the blanketed shoe box we had you rest in, meowing endlessly and ceasing only when one of us would let you sleep on our laps.

It’s funny how quickly you transformed into a very warm, adventurous, and plump kitten after only a few weeks. You learned to wander around the front and backyard gardens, beg to come into the house to sleep, and even climb the grills on our windows (I don’t know what that was all about but it was so silly and entertaining).

We thought up a million different names for you, ranging from fairly normal names to some ridiculously outrageous ones. Whenever we looked at you though, somehow all the names we thought of never seemed to fit you perfectly.

So we just always called you “Orange” – a name that, in my opinion, came to suit you better than all the other silly options we came up with.

When any of us would be working at the computer by the window you’d always stare from outside and climb up the window near us to nap or lounge about. It felt nice, knowing that our company comforted you so much that you’d always sit at the window of any room we happened to occupy at any given time.

I also noticed how you’d always sleep and hang out on top of this pile of boxes outside the window behind the living room couch, and how you’d keep watching and meowing at us whenever we were in the living room.

All these memories happened only within a few months, and yet they hold so much meaning. It hurts that we had to say goodbye to you so suddenly, and so sadly.

Sometimes I regret not letting you in the house all the time even though you’d keep following me whenever I was outside. You were too rowdy in the house to keep an eye on sometimes, but in retrospect maybe we could’ve managed anyway.

I came home tonight to a pile of boxes with no lump of orange fluff sleeping on top. No wide-eyed stare to greet me and beg to come in as I opened the door to the house. It was heartbreaking to realize that I may never see that again.

It’s a shame that you had to leave so early. Of course I can always think that you’re in a better place now but I know in my heart that you were perfectly happy with us.

Still, maybe I’ll get to see you again someday. But for now I hope we were at least able to make your short stay with us worthwhile, and I hope right now you’re happy, wherever you are.

I still can’t help but smile while writing this, especially because I always go back to this one wonderful memory I have of you. Simple, but it’s one I’ll never forget.

I was leaving for school last Saturday, and as the car began to exit the front of the house I caught a glimpse of you through the window – walking in the garden, your bright orange and white fur standing out like a ball of sunshine against the grey stone path and thick, bright green grass.

You stopped right in the middle of my view from the window, staring at us and then back at the garden – with eyes full of wonder and curiosity, as always. I don’t know how else to describe it. A fleeting moment, yes, but it made me smile. It was beautiful, and I thank you for that.

We love you, Orange. I love you. Thanks for all the fun. 🙂

“Do Something Awesome” – Inspiring Internship Adventures

I suddenly remembered that I haven’t written a single entry for 2013 yet, which is kinda weird considering the huge number of wonderful experiences I’ve had since the year began. So, here I am saying hello again to my  blog. I hope to create a wonderful chain of stories for 2013, starting with the biggest highlight of my year so far: joining The Spark Project (TSP).

I took Journalism in UP because I love going on adventures and sharing stories with other people. My biggest dream is actually to have a job in the gaming scene, or at least be a part of it in some way. I’ll keep working towards that goal for sure, but for now I’m going to tell you about The Spark Project since it was the main thing that made me realize a lot about myself this summer.

Some other things I love include arts and crafts, traveling, and doing volunteer work. Sadly, I knew that I wasn’t able to do as much related to those three during summer as I would’ve wanted to. Luckily one day I came across a job board on the Wanderrgirl blog and found a post on something called The Spark Project, saying they were looking for interns. Since I wanted to make the most out of my time and discover something new, I sent in my resume. A few days later I got interviewed and eventually got accepted as both a writing intern and crowdfunding apprentice for The Spark Project.

Ecstatic c:

Ecstatic c:

We interns had our first meeting with some members of the TSP team one Monday night at CBTL in Shang. There, I learned so much more about The Spark Project and the dedicated bunch of people behind it. It turns out that the whole idea was inspired by Kickstarter, the famous international platform for crowdfunding creative projects. The TSP founders made it a reality so that there would be an online crowdfunding platform for and by Filipinos where we could showcase and support the creative, innovative, and passion-driven ideas and projects of our countrymen.

I knew right then and there that I wanted to contribute as much as I could to this project. Why? Because nowadays, in this internet and information age, there is absolutely no excuse for us not to put ourselves out there, pursue our passions, expand our horizons, and help make a difference in this world.

One of the things I love about TSP is that it’s not all online dealings, they create personal relationships with project creators and take part in their clients’ projects and events. The first event I participated in was the Paint Some Happy project, where we painted the walls of a public elementary school in Quezon City with whimsical murals to make the students’ days more colorful and inspiring. The experience left me with a deep sense of joy and fulfillment, since I knew it would make the children very happy. After that I became so much more inspired to help others. I wanted to spend more time on my hobbies and the things that gave me a sense of fulfillment and joy.

To infinity and beyond!

To infinity and beyond! @ Paint Some Happy

Meeting the Spark Project team and some of the project creators really inspired me because of how they tirelessly worked to help others and create change. They did everything they could to make their dreams come true and it really made me realize how much I could learn and contribute by joining The Spark Project family.

I was amazed by how they made their dreams a reality and in turn I started to become more passionate about mine as well (in all fields – environmentalism, arts, gaming, volunteerism, etc). I’m very excited for what this year has to offer. TSP can give a student like me so much – work experience, an outlet for my creativity, the chance to meet new people, and the chance to make a difference in the lives of others. I’ll even get to see new places thanks to this internship.

We should all keep an eye out for opportunities that might come our way, especially when they spark our passions! Believe me, it’s so much more fun and fulfilling when you’re able to do a lot with your life. Do what you love, love what you do. Cheers! 🙂

// Check out TSP’s current projects that need crowdfunding at The Spark Project’s website! c:

Onze’s Yearbook Launch in Thirteen Days!

I can’t believe our batch’s yearbook launch is just a few weeks away! My batchmates and I have been looking forward to this day ever since we graduated from UPIS two years ago.

To get people even more excited about the affair, we Media Center (MC) and Senior Council (SC) peeps got together last week to shoot a teaser trailer featuring the yearbook. It felt great being able to hang out with the MC people again at UPIS. We were even able to take a little peek inside the yearbook!

I’m not giving out any spoilers, but I can assure you, the yearbook team did an amazing job. For now, you guys can enjoy this teaser trailer starring yours truly and the rest of the MC and SC. 😉

Geeky, Gamer, & Chic: The Perfect Comic Con Debut ♥

A person only turns 18 once in his/ her lifetime, and for a geeky, comic book & fashion-loving gamer gal such as myself, what better way to celebrate it than by throwing a Comic Con-themed debut? ♥

My SDCC-inspired logo!

I was never really a party person, but seeing as this was an important year in my life, I wanted to throw a really nice party for the relatives and friends closest to me.

Most of my friends and relatives have told me how weirdly amusing it is that I’m kind of dainty and maarte when it comes to clothes and hair, and yet underneath I’m a real “geeky gamer dork who even raced Tamiya Mini 4wd cars in Kinder”. It’s so funny especially in college, all the people I meet tell me they’re surprised by my interests because I don’t look like that type of person. But those are my ultimate interests, so I really wanted to incorporate them into my party so that it would fit my personality perfectly.

Since the party was gonna be held in October, I decided to take that opportunity and turn it into a sort of Halloween & semester-ender party as well. The venue, Chef’s Bistro, was perfect for the event. The place was recommended to us by my tita, since she had already held some events there. It was classy, comfortable, and had the most amazing food (plus free flowing beer)!

Chef’s Bistro (Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

I wanted to be able to dress up in an elegant dress (above the knee, of course, like all my other dresses) so I gave it a semi-formal/ cocktail dress code. To incorporate the Comic Con element into it, I asked all my guests to include little elements in their outfits that would help identify them as a certain character.

It was great how my friends didn’t just follow the dress code, they actually had fun creating costumes and looks! One of my friends showed up in a red sparkly dress since she was Jessica Rabbit, another friend stitched a red “A” to her black dress like in the movie Easy A. And another wore a polka dot dress with a mouse-ear headband to look like Minnie Mouse!

I myself went as Harley Quinn, with a red dress, a classy version of the pigtail do, a pearl necklace I made myself to resemble Harley’s collar, and the Joker’s “BANG!” flag of course.

Center stage! (Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

Harley & Joker’s “BANG!” flag gun (Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

My guy friends’ costumes really entertained me. My best friend showed up in a suit, but he had an ANBU mask and a kunai since he was a ninja from Naruto. Another went as James Bond. The two who entertained me the most, however, were the guys who dressed up as Spongebob (brown pants, white polo, red necktie, blue cap with a paper anchor glued to it) and Finn from Adventure Time (blue shirt, dark blue pants). Benta talaga.

The geeky-ness didn’t end there of course. Thanks to my tita and tito (and the amazing chefs of The Regali Kitchen), I was able to get my dream cake for my party! Believe it or not the cake I had always wanted for my 18th birthday was one modeled after the Zerg Baneling from StarCraft II. I started playing StarCraft I when I was in kindergarten and I had always loved using the Zerg. Plus I found the Hydralisks and Banelings ultra cute!

For the Swarm! For the Overmind! (Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

When I entered the venue, the cake immediately caught my attention. Seeing the cake for real was really breathtaking. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be and everything that I had dreamed for in a cake! It was the perfect blend of cute, disturbing, and awesome. It looked so real, the Baneling was even made to look like it was standing up and ready to attack!

Standing atop the Creep (Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

My mom’s friend (from Snapshots PH) was also very helpful with the party. He offered to cover the party and set up a photobooth! The photobooth was exactly what I wanted, with my very own Comic Con logo serving as the background for the photos (I made it with GIMP and used the SDCC logo as a template!) . It was like the San Diego Comic Con and Red Carpet combined!

(Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

During the party, my closest friends surprised me with a small program they arranged secretly. There was the “18 James Potters” (I love James Potter, he’s my HP crush), where 18 of my guy friends would say what they like the most about me. There was also the “18 Vendettas” (yes, V for Vendetta reference!), where 18 of my gal pals would share their favorite memory with me or spill a secret about me!

Aside from that, they also prepared a video presentation showing pictures of me growing up. It also had video greetings from some of my friends. What surprised me the most in the video was the final greeting, since it was from Parokya ni Edgar! I had known them since I was little since they were friends with my mom and dad. They even came to my 3rd birthday party and sang “happy birthday” to me! I invited them to my 18th but they were in Davao so they decided to record a surprise video for me instead!

Forever funny titos! 🙂

The final part of the party’s program was the tugtugan. Since it was a sem ender and we all missed the UPIS Bands’ Night, I invited three bands to play for us: Red Crew, Avis, and Datu’s Tribe. Red Crew and Avis are bands from our batch, and Datu’s Tribe is my dad’s band. Everyone really enjoyed the performances since all the bands were really good and entertaining.

Tugtugan! (Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

After the program, everyone had time to just sit around and relax. I never really wanted a super formal party, I wanted a more casual one where people could hang out too. My friends started playing guitar and singing along together, while enjoying the buckets of beer of course! Aside from the fun jamming moments, I also had a Perks of Being a Wallflower moment with one of my friends, as I offered him his first bottle of beer ever (at his first debut ever mehehehe!).

Cheers! (Photo credit: Snapshots PH)

All in all it was everything I hoped my debut would be. It was casual, fun, geeky, and it even had music! I was able to hang out with my friends and I enjoyed a whole lot throughout the night. I’m eternally grateful to my Mom, Dad, family, and friends for this; they’re the absolute best!