Food: Tori Box

photo from tori box fb page

One Sunday evening, my cousin and her boyfriend dropped by to visit the kids.  Since we stayed home all day, we were excited to go out and grab some dinner.
Browsing through the internet for places to eat, we found ourselves going to the U Belt in Espana.  Depended on Waze to bring us to Tori Box.

We found Tori Box beside Starbucks in I Tower along P Noval in Espana Manila.

Tori Box is a small space compared to Starbucks and we got there just before people started filling the place.  We occupied the only parking slot in front of the resto and had a nice table in the middle.

photo from tori box fb page

The interior has that homey chillax feel to it.  The smell of the chicken karaage greets you as well.

Checked out the menu and we were so happy that the prices were very affordable.   “Presyong Estudyante” (student price) for working people like us looks very attractive.

We tried to order all that caught our eyes but many of them were either sold out or out of stock!  Too bad because we wanted to try the spicy ones.

Anyway, we settled for what’s available.  Here they are.

Milo Dinosaur
Spam Fries
Cheesy Karaage
Cheesy ToriKatsu
Curry Tonkatsu
BBQ Karaage and Mojos
Sour Cream Karaage and Rice

I love Potato Corner and eating these yummy Karaages in the same bbq flavoring that is my favorite is just heaven.

There are so many flavors to choose from! BBQ, Sour Cream, Chili Pepper, there’s 3 or 4 more and I forgot about them already.  

What I also love aside from the flavoring is the chicken karaage itself.  It’s not all breading.  You could actually taste the chicken.  

I would love to go back again to Tori Box!  If you want to visit them, they have branches in Agno, Taft, Manila and Regalado, Fairview, Quezon City.

Like them on Facebook, ToriBox.

Follow them on Instagram, ToriBoxPh.

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Food: The Goodness of 100% Buffalo Milk

Photo from Buffy’s Milk FB account

We are always left with no room for dessert after we have a meal.  So we decided to have desserts first!
Braved the drive from Batangas to Sta Rosa just to have a taste.  We don’t regret skipping dinner over pastillas and ice cream!

Buffy’s is a quaint little store that sells Fresh Buffalo Milk, Pastillas de Leche and Ice Cream made from Buffalo Milk!  Their products are all natural.  No preservatives.

Buffalo Milk.  So many flavors to choose from!  Our daughter chose the Chocolate Milk (Php250.00).  Both our daughters give their thumbs up!

Buffy’s Pastillas de Leche also comes in different flavors.  We decided to get the original one.

Pastillas de Leche (Php158.00)

The Ice Cream comes in 5 flavors: Original, Vanilla, Strawberry, Mocha and Ube.  (Php158.00)

Creamy and milky, not too sweet.

My new favorite ice cream.  

Buffy’s Ube Flavored Ice Cream. 

Like them on Facebook, Buffy’s Milk.

Disclaimer:  I am not a super fun of either milk or ube, but Buffy’s made a big difference.  Definitely worth the trip!

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Food: Cafe Aquatica Manila

Good news for everyone! 

Cafe Aquatica, that famous and relaxing fish shop / cafe in Greenhills, just opened their 2nd shop in Binondo, Manila!

It’s very near my workplace, about 5 minute walk.  This new branch is just a quaint coffee shop / restaurant.  Don’t expect something like their branch in Greenhills.  

It still has those nice aquariums though.  And when you enter the place, it’s like you’re transported out of the hustle and bustle of Chinatown!

They don’t offer everything in this branch. The menu is limited

This is what we ordered.  Take note, we were only 2!

Appetizer: Nacho Cups 

(super sulit – yummy and crunchy – only Php130.00)

Main Dish: Grilled Chicken & Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Drinks: Almond Shake

They also offer a variety of cakes and I can’t wait to taste them all!

Let’s go to the Aquariums.  

These are Albino Angel Fishes.  They are not available in the market.  

I think the next one is called Mickey Platy because of its inborn black Mickey figure in its tail.

This next one is the Neon Fish.

If you’re in the area, why don’t  you try Cafe Aquatica. We went there for our lunch and it surely took away the stress we were feeling at work.  Such a relaxing place to be in.  With its extraordinary aquariums and soothing music, this one’s really a keeper!

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Travel: US Visa Approved!

Throwback to the day of our appointment:

You can imagine our happy state as we walked away from the booth of the consul who said that our passports will be delivered in our address in the application!  My daughter’s got a twinkle in her eyes!

On exactly the 5th day after the appointment, we received our passports with our US Visas! We were all given 10 years! Great isn’t it?


So how did we do it?  Read on.

Be calm.  Be honest.  Two things to live by during this whole application process.  From the moment you fill up your application form up until the time of your interview with the consul, be calm and be honest.

Getting to the US Embassy
Lining Up

We had felt pity on ourselves as we lined up outside the embassy under the pouring rain, with 2 kids in tow.  That feeling was immediately changed as we went through a very easy process inside the embassy. 

Grateful to the staff attending to the lines outside because he gave us sort of like a Fast Pass seeing that we have 2 kids.  

There will be 2 security checks before you actually get to the Consular Building.

Once you get in, you’ll be directed to Step 1, the Pre-Screening.  No lines here.  At this window, the Officer will get your Confirmation Page, your Passport and your 2×2 picture.  Then she will ask the applicant his name and birthday, validate it against the application form you submitted online.  Takes about 5 minutes tops.

Step 2 is Finger Scanning.  There was a short queue for this.  There was also a hand sanitizer and paper towel for you to clean your hands.  Again, only the Confirmation Page and the Passport is needed.  The officer was very jolly and she interacted with the applicants well.  Her voice was loud so you’d think she was angry, but she’s not.  Finger Scanning is only for adults.  She asked us for our names and birthdays, then instructed us to put our thumbs together and had it pressed in the machine.  After the 2 thumbs, all 8 fingers were scanned together.

Last and Final Step is the Interview with the Consul.  We waited and were seated for about 8 minutes until we were called to stand in line.  There was a family in front of us, but unfortunately they weren’t granted the Visas.  

It was nerve wracking because the family before us just got denied.  While waiting in line, me and my husband were discussing our answers in the application form because that is the only basis of the consul.  

When it was our turn, we said hello to the consul and we were asked to wait first as he finished jotting down notes for the application of the family ahead of us. 

Be calm and be honest.

He asked for our Confirmation Page and the Passports.  He asked for our names then continued to interview us.  These are some of the questions he asked us:

  • What will you do in the States?
  • Where in the States will you be going?
  • Where do you plan to stay?  How long?
  • When do you plan to go?
  • What’s our occupation and how long we have been with our respective companies?
  • Who is going with us in our trip?

Right after he asked the questions, he just told us that our passports will be delivered to the address we stated in the application form.  He didn’t ask for a single document.

No fanfare.  No congratulations.  But in my head and in my daughters’ heads, there were fireworks!

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Public Service: Modus on Parking for US Visa Applicants

Our scheduled appointment was 8:45am.  US Embassy wants you to be there at least 15 minutes before your schedule. 
Together with the kids, we left the house at 630am.  We got into the tail of traffic at Quirino Highway so we decided to take another route.  Fortunately, the longer route wasn’t as jammed as the previous.  We arrived at the US Embassy area around 730am.  Well, at least we have enough time to spare. 

We looked for a parking space on a side street because all the service road parking near the footbridge was full already.  (The footbridge is the only way to cross Roxas Boulevard to go to the Embassy.)  

When we found a parking space, an ate from the parking bureau immediately assisted us.  When finally parked, hubby rolled the window down, the ate said, “Embassy Sir? 100 po.” (She said parking is 100 pesos if you are going to the Embassy.)  Shocked of her announcement, we said “why 100? Holdap ah?” (We asked why 100 pesos for embassy goers, we asked her is this a hold up?)  She answered, “matagal kasi interview dun.” (The interview takes time.)  We tried to argue with her and she discounted the rate to 70 pesos.  

What a shocker really!  The ticket’s print says that it’s just 30 pesos for the first 3 hours, then 10 pesos for every succeeding hour.  Even if we stayed until noon there, our parking should have been just 50 pesos.

And since we finished about 930am.  The 70 pesos we paid was just for 2 hours of parking.  A clear kickback of about 40 pesos. Grrr…

Funny thing is, when we were leaving the parking space, Ate was just standing there and not assisting.  Maybe she’s afraid that we will call her out with our parking fee if she gets near us.

Lucky her we were too happy with the result of our interview, we just let her be.

So guys, beware of these parking attendants.  If you don’t have a driver, make sure you don’t get hold upped by these attendants.  If you have drivers, better let them drop you off in front of the embassy and just let them know where to wait for you.  

Good luck with the parking!

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Travel: Booking Daj Suites

The first thing to do when going on a trip is to find a place to stay.  A comfortable and clean place where you can achieve the relaxation you want.  All the others follow.

Browsing through the hotels, the apartelles, the inns and what have yous made me so dizzy.  Good thing Daj Suites popped up when I was looking in Trip Advisor.  Not only did their competitive price got my attention, being a Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice hooked me!


Upon checking Daj Suites out (in pictures!), the place is something that suits my taste.  Clean, spacious, with wood accents, affordable, and especially this next one – it has so many good reviews!


I almost booked it using a hotel / travel app, but thought twice about doing so.  I then checked their own website and learned that booking directly with them is cheaper by Php500.00.

I decided to book online but chose to pay over the counter in a bank.  I was given 3 days to deposit my reservation of Php 1000.00.  Someone from Daj Suites texted me about the details of my booking and their bank details.

After depositing my reservation, I sent a copy of the deposit slip and they confirmed right away.  I received a text message with all the confirmed details of my booking.

I can’t wait for our mini vacation.  This is my little surpise weekend getaway to my hubby as we celebrate our 7th year together.

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Travel: Renewal of Canadian Visa

Previous months back, had an experience with applying online for a Visa.  I almost had a heart attack.  Read on my experience here.

Of course, mistakes of the past are meant to be lessons of the future.

One of our immediate family members needed to renew her Canadian Visa.  So I filled up her forms online, prepared the documents then submitted everything through the service provider which is VFS Global located at Chino Roces Avenue in Makati City.

What are the forms and documents needed for a renewal?  Kindly check out my list:

1) Application Form– IMM5257 (Application for Visitor Visa Made Outside of Canada)  It’s a 6 page application form you can download and fill up electronically

2) Family Relations Form – (IMM5645) – You will list all your immediate family members’ names and birthdates here.  And if they are travelling with you or not.  2 page form

3) Passport Info Page and Last Page.  

4)  Past Travels.  All the passport pages with travel stamps, especially those with Visas, expired or unexpired.

5) Letter of Invitation from someone in Canada.  This is optional.  

6) Bank Certification.  To prove that you have money to burn in their country.

7) Any property under your name.  To prove your ties with the Philippines.

8) Digital Photo

9) VFS Authorization Form

I already paid the Visa Fee online so there’ll be no hassle anymore when I go to VFS.  Once I got there, you just tell the guard that you’re for Canadian Visa then he’ll let you in.  Don’t worry about the long lines outside, they are for the other countries.  I went there as early as possible, before everything went chaotic, especially the traffic along Chino Roces!

Upon entering the next door, someone will ask for the purpose of your visit.  I told her I’m gonna submit some renewal docs, then she’ll check the passport and if you have brought a photo.

She’ll give you a number and buzz the door open. (Yes, it’s very secure inside!)

When you get in, there will only be a few people.  Filled up the delivery form then waited.  I got called within 5 minutes.  Since I made sure that I got everything needed, it was very easy for the assistant to process my docs.  She checked then asked for my payment.  A little over 1 thousand pesos is not bad.  Considering your passport will be couriered to you after visa has been stamped.

I was told that the passport will be delivered in 5 working days.

And we have it now.

No frills. Just Visa.

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Family: EQ Dry Buddy Bag

Hey mommies! EQ is at it again! And I was so excited, I already sent my entries before I wrote this post.  

As you see, I am an avid collector of EQ Dry Diaper Packaging and I always wait for times like this!  

Photo from EQ Diapers Facebook Page

This is the latest promo and you get this cute little animal bags for FREE! 

How it works?  How to do it?  Read on.  

With or without a promo, I always keep the diaper packaging of EQ Dry.  Depending on the size of the packaging, we can earn corresponding points.  

As for me, we always buy the jumbo pack as it’s the largest packaging available for the size we buy.  It’s convenient for us.  We automatically earn 3 points for each wrapper.
To redeem a buddy bag, you need to have 58 points. You can mix and match your wrappers if you have different packaging.

Before sending your entry, you must write the basic information needed.

Of course you have to include your top 2 choices of the buddy bag.  So I split all 4 designs into my 2 entries.

After that, you can either hand carry your entry to the JS Unitrade office or send it through mail.

I chose to send mine through a courier.

Now, I wait.  The company will send the Buddy Bags for free! Will post photos as soon as I receive them!

The promo is until December, 2016 so you have a lot of time to collect, prepare and send your entries.  You can send as many as you want.

Full mechanics here!

Update October 1, 2016:  

We received our package!  The bags are so cute!

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