Monday, February 22, 2016

The Haiyan Food and Coffee Shop at Bislig, Tanauan, Leyte

I was finally able to check out this only game in about 5 towns coming from Sogod to the Palo, Leyte area named Haiyan Restaurant. As we can see the namesake, “Haiyan” is dervied from that devastating typhoon that ravaged Leyte in 2013. I wonder if the owners want to thumb their noses and defy said calamity by christening this eatery as such, or perhaps it's their way of exhibiting their resilience.

As for the entrées, some dishes are cafeteria arrangement while others a' la carte and most are classic Filipino dishes like Kinilaw (ceviche-type fish), pancit and other meat preparations, no annotations needed. Beside the main restaurant is a coffee shop as well and I also noticed a motel being erected within the premises, which will complete a trifecta of service and hospitality.

The décor is eclectic here, with the ubiquitous use of quality wood on the floor, walls, tables and chairs. The staff members are welcoming and helpful. The entire area is al fresco, so just be patient with a stray dog or 2 and the occasional vector visitors which can't be avoided but rest assured, the place is pleasantly rustic and even classy as a whole.

Oriental lattice woodwork.

 Creative and well thought out wood sculptures of lasses which has pocket of drawers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Aslan Café and Restaurant, a Turkish Wonder in TC

Mural of the Hagia Sophia

Wow! Today I found this place that rouse me up from the mopes. This authentic Turkish restaurant is on the corner of Paterno and Gomez Sts. and a place that all of us should check out, for the flavors, the ambiance and to experience something what we would consider “out-wordly.” I have not been to Turkey but I have been to a few Mediterranean restaurants in my day and when I walked in here, I was genuinely transported. It gave me joy that this is here in our town. 

Mousa, one of the owners, is quite the amiable bloke.

The menu is in Turkish (with English translations), it has descriptions and includes kebabs, Turkish meatballs, a staple of pita bread (Turkish style which is thinner than the Greek's), egg dishes, salads, beef lamb, spiced up with their own unmistakable flavors and all are Halal. So far there were at least 30 items on the menu and I know now where I will be having dinner for the next 30 nights (more or less). How sweet it was for Mousa, the gracious, polite owner to give me complimentary Stuffed Grape Leaves with couscous when I asked if they had some. Their homemade hot sauce is not like any, the meatballs' breading is also very distinct. I am very biased to this café now.

Stuffed Grape Leaves Mediterranean to the core.
The murals at Aslan depict iconic spots in Turkey such as the Hagia Sophia, the Brosphorus Bridge, ruins in Ephesus and in here I found something serendipitous: Shishas! It might be nice to look into this, inhale the water pipes and enjoy their coffee too! The coffee is traditional Turk and unambiguous. 

 Shishas (water pipes)

Rumi's proverb (shown above, Rumi's name in Turkish which appears as "Hz Mevlâna; Mousa informs me that this saying translates as, "This world is our test and one chooses to make it bad or good.") Mousa is good to converse with about Byzantium, Rumi, Gibran and so on. 

Mousa's mother is the mastermind behind the recipes, this made me so glad because this way we will be treated to authentic flavors, untarnished and uncompromising; soon, they will feature Baklavas! Wooo! I can't contain it. 

May I recommend this to all of you? Yes, it's unlike our Filipino dishes, it has a distinguished robust flavor but I've always believed that to experience new dishes is to be teleported to the very place where it came from and besides, cuisine, should be an ongoing education. 

Turkish meatballs and Pita bread

NB: The owners have been in our midst immediately after Typhoon Haiyan and have been involved in relief and rebuilding with the Turkish government. They were instrumental in facilitating Turkish President Abdullah Gül's visit which brought awareness to Tacloban. Already, they are making a story that will eventually dovetail right into the fabric of our island town. 

An abstract of a dervish dancer fashioned in Jalaluddin Rumi's time. I was a bit of a Rumi devotee in my early 20's and this brings me back. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

All Hands Volunteers Complete a Classroom Building in Camansihay, Tacloban City

The presence of All Hands Volunteers was perceived and welcomed in Leyte and Samar immediately after typhoon Haiyan, and they have remained here in our parts all this time. As of today, they continue to build school buildings, school playgrounds and shelters for disasters as well as assist other NGOs with projects where their help is needed. We who are recipients of said projects of course, remain grateful. 

Last Friday, they were able to hand over a classroom building in Barangay Camansihay near the San Juanico Bridge area for the elementary school there. For good measure, they threw in an extra play ground slide, see-saw and swing set for children to spend time with during break hours. 

The turn over for the project was conducted on Saturday, February 6, 2016 and it was a joy to have witnessed this event.

 The Classroom Building at Brgy. Camansihay,

The building is made of quality materials, design and engineering and is typhoon resistant. The teachers and students were elated to have received this gift from such selfless people. 

The District School Superintendent cuts the ribbon.

With Rory Thor Dickens as the project manager and Martina Manna as the project leader, along with the very valuable volunteers of All Hands, this project took flight and was completed within 12 weeks.

Rory and Martina attach the plaque of recognition on the bldg. wall.  

Our generous All Hands volunteers and aid workers during the ceremony.

It was said during the ceremony that the victims of the devastating typhoons (Haiyan and Ruby) became despondent because of the magnitude of these disasters, however, the NGOs with their volunteers gave them hope. On a personal note, seeing these volunteers give of their time and effort and their currency of heart and soul, that indeed made me think, "If they aren't giving up on us, who am I to give up?" 

 Volunteers hard-at-work

The legacy they leave behind won't be limited just to the structures they have built; the indelible mark of hope and inspiration for others to be selfless and the lives they helped rebuild will also resonate for generations.  

 Completed school building and playground

Thank you All Hands !

All Hands as we all know assists in all sorts of relief operations and rebuilding of stricken communities. If you want All Hands to continue their work, please show your support here:
----> ALL HANDS <----