Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Visit to Capas Death March Shrine

Capas Death March Shrine or Pambansang Dambana ng Capas is located in Barangay Aranguren in Capas, Tarlac.

Death March Memorial Shrine
Today marks the 77th anniversary of the heroic march. The site is a focus for commemorations Araw ng Kagitingan ( Day of Valor) which is an annual observance held on 9 April—the anniversary of the surrender of US and Philippine forces to the imperial Japanese forces.


 "Capas National Shrine" by then President Corazon C. Aquino on December 7, 1991. This was long overdue.

The area also have a 35 hectares man-made forest, but most of the trees planted were mahogany.  It is good to have visited this site for at least 3 times over the past 5 years. At least 31,000 trees were planted in the memorial shrine.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources -PENRO singage

Hundreds of Filipinos were cramped into these box types carts before meeting their fate. Only few examples survive to this date.


 A 70 meter tall obelisk made from cement, sand, gravel, steel was unveiled on April 9, 2003.

photo gallery

Defenders Gallery

Dendrobium anosmum or Sanggumay

flowering hibiscus

Oncidium and Dendrobium anosmum
flowering bougainvilleas

three smaller memorials to the countries whose nationals died at the camp: the Philippines, the United States, and the  Czech and Slovaks (used to be known Czechoslovakia ). A Defenders gallery/ museum and monument is also on the site.

Neatly manicured lawn and planted with bougainvilleas, hibiscus and native orchids.

bas relief
Memorial marker

This memorial marker was built by an American group called the "Battling Bastards of Bataan".  The names of the dead comrades and soldiers were immortalized in the walls.  


The obelisk is surrounded by a three-segmented, black marble wall engraved with the names of the Filipinos known to have died during the Death March.

President Manuel Roxas quote
 There are also statistics about the total numbers of prisoners and deaths, together with poems for peace.

There is a minimal entrance fees of Php 5.00 for students, adults and others Php 10.00 Use of swimming poll Php 30.00 and rental of cottage Php 150.00 big and Php 100 for small.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Good Old Panciteria Toho Antigua : Grand Dame of Philippine Restaurant

Panciteria Toho Antigua (now known as the New Toho Food Center) is incomplete when you wish to have a food tour in the world's oldest and one of the largest Chinatown in the world. 

New Toho Food Center aka Toho Antigua Panciteria
The panciteria (noodle house)was founded by Manuel “Po Kong” Bautista and his 4 Chinese friends decided to set up a place to dine-in 1888. Some culinary historians are telling that it might have opened earlier around 1866 ( citation needed).

After several years, the four other business partners/ friends went back to mainland China and the business was left to "Tai Ping". Eventually, the establishment was handled by his 7 children. Now, the business is being run by third generation descendants Mr. Alger Wong and Ms. Kathleen Wong.

All Time Favorite Dishes 

Toho dishes reflect the rich diversity of Spanish,Filipino-Chinese ways of cooking and the name of the dishes. 

Yang Chow Fried Rice ala Toho
 Morisqueta Tostada or Yang Chow Fried Rice ala Toho is one of the famed fried rice dish that one must try when you dined at this place. This had a generous mix of peas, chicken egg, ground pork meat and shrimps. Large serving is good for sharing between 4 to 6 people.

Lumpiang Shanghai ala Antigua Toho 

Lumpiang Shanghai ala Toho - This is their own version of this famed dish. The lumpia ( deep fried spring roll) had a generous combination of ground pork meat and carrot fillings. Lumpiang Shanghai is then deep fried to perfection. This is best partnered with their own version of chili paste with dash of calamansi juice and soy sauce. Or their all around sauce.

 Some say that it was in this restaurant that this spring roll was popularized and indigenized into the Filipino-Chinese cuisine.

Pancit Guisado ala Toho - The noodles were stir-fried giving it some crunch not too soggy and the noodles have thick sauce base.

The remarkable thing about the sauce is that despite the various meat parts, vegetables like Napa cabbage, pechay and carrots that are spread all over. The pork cutlets,pork liver, shrimp perfectly complemented the sauce. Some people who may want a more personalized experience can find it in New Toho as they are flexible when it comes to choosing toppings or change some of the topping ( like those allergic to shrimps or dislike liver).

Pork Asado ala Antigua Toho 

Pork Asado/ Liempo is one of the iconic dish served at this restaurant. The pork had been smoked for a long time with additional Chinese five spice flavorings that enhances its taste. Whenever there are big holidays like Christmas, All Saint's Day,Chinese New Year or Chinese Ghost Month. Customer would pre-order this as they are offered as "alay" or offerings to the ancestors or deities. 

Sometimes, this popular dish would be sold-out in just matter of few hours. we tend to pre-order at least a day or so during these season.

bloggers, vloggers, media and heritage advocates 


The restaurant got its name from Chinese- Hookien word " To- Ho" meaning good enough while the word "Antigua" from Spanish word "Ancient" which the owner wanted its patrons to remember things whose qualities have proven their value for over long period of time, which can last for eternity. 

Panciteria To Ho Antigua eventually reign supreme at Calle San Jacinto (now Tomas Pinpin street). The panciteria is near Calle Escolta,Calle Dasmariñas, Plaza Santa Cruz and within Binondo district which were considered as financial district during Spanish, American, Japanese occupation and up to the early republic era.

This was also featured in Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere”. The restaurant still exists over a hundred years after Rizal wrote the novel. 

 Old timers would sometimes refer this as Antigua Toho.Distant relatives also recalls that, The place was a hangout place for many well-known Filipino-Chinese newspaper writers (1950's to mid- 1970's),who would try to get some insider scoop with the latest ( gossip / tsismis) among the community.

Binondo Fireworks Firecrackers Lovers Organization Inc. Chairperson Ralph Soriano together with the group

Friendly Competitors 

When Panciteria San Jacinto opened just few meters away in 1894. This created some friendly rivalry between both restaurants. ( somewhat like Jollibee and Mcdonald type of rivalries today). Distant relatives who reside few blocks away, (old timers in Binondo) told us that some of the cooks and kitchen staffs were lured into working at the restaurant came from Toho. The old panciteria also burned down in 1984.

Mr. Benjamin Leung proprietor of Wah Sun / Sun Wah used to worked as a waiter at Panciteria Toho Antigua before opening his own restaurant in Santa Cruz in the mid- 1950's. Mr. Leung acquired some cooking techniques, recipes,management style of his own.

Battered Shrimp

Camaron Rebosado/ Battered Shrimp - Deep fried shrimp coated in simple batter is another perfect dish. Simple and tasty.
pinsec frito
Pinsec Frito -This is a good appetizer dish while waiting for the main course. The wanton wrapper had some ground pork filling then deep fried in hot oil.

Gregoria de Jesus-Lakambini ng Katipunan
Famous Celebrities,Politicians and Historical Heroes

Philippine heroes like Gat Andres Bonifacio, Lakambini ng Katipunan Gregoria de Jesus favorite was the pork asado and other dishes. Dr. Jose Rizal's favorite Yang Chow Fried Rice, Lumpiang Shanghai and Pancit Guisado. While popular actress Kathy dela Cruz, Fernando Poe Sr., Fernando Poe Jr., Senator Quintin Paredes, Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., Panchito,Chiquito, Leopoldo Salcedo, Ms. Camile and Mr. John Pratts are just some of the popular celebrity clientele.

heritage advocates, bloggers, vloggers and participants 

Other local politicians includes Mayor Arsenio Lacson,Ramon Bagatsing, Alfredo S. Lim have also dined at this restaurant.
Chinese style fried kikiam / quekeng/ quekiam

No less than Five Philippine presidents have eaten at this restaurant namely Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmena, Manuel Roxas, Carlos Garcia and Ferdinand Marcos.

Second Floor
The second floor is good venue place for family gatherings,weddings, debuts, product launching and can accommodate between 80 to 120 sit-in guests. There is a separate restrooms the second floor and an air-conditioned place.
door leading to second floor
To Ho Panciteria Antigua circa February 4, 1953

During the restaurant heydays,whenever there were championship meet of BAA and Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association ( MICAA). San Miguel Beermen under coach Ignacio" Ning" Ramos and the Utex Wranglers together with their supporters celebrated their court victories by dining at this place.

Same story with athletes from NCCA,UAAP, Toyota and Crispa players would be spotted dining at the restaurant.

old cash register
assorted kinds of dishes

The wooden restaurant had suffered another set back in 1984,when fire destroyed almost all the memorabilias leaving only few photos and an old cash register.

 It was eventually rebuilt along, hence having posted “new” in New Toho Food Center. Most of the chairs,tables and fixtures would be in this time period. One could not physically see the authentic 19th century ambiance,except for the popular dishes that people would cherish.

 This restaurant is also listed under popular restaurant app Zomatoph and Tripadvisor.

Address: 422 -424 Tomas Pinpin street, Binondo, Manila, Philippines 
Operations: Monday to Saturdays
Operating hours: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sundays: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm 
Contact : (02) 241-4208, (02) 242-0294

Branch : #16 Presidents Ave., BF Homes, Parañaque City (tel: 820-0668 to 69, open 10 AM - 10 PM) and at the second floor of SM City BF, also in Parañaque City.

Sources and Bibliographies:
Personal interview with the descendants of the restaurants
interview with relatives and friends living in Chinatown
Noli Me Tangere
Felice Prudente Sta. Maria's, 'The Governor-General’s Kitchen,Anvil Publishing, ISBN: 978-971-27-2608-8 ( 2006 first print, 2011 second print)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Elysian 727 Private Garden and Pool

Elysian 727 is a private garden, venue place and it had swimming pool which overlooks North Caloocan and nearby areas.

Elysian 727 along General Luis Malinis street , Barangay Caybiga, Caloocan City
This was a private house with sprawling garden and the owners decided to open a part of the garden area and swimming pool for the general public.  This is also near Mindanao Avenue extension intersection.

Venue Place

The private garden, resort is ideal for birthday, weddings, baptism, swimming parties, outdoor shoot, team building, family outings, corporate events among others.

There are also some local film outfits which had done some segment shooting within the private resort.

swimming pool which overlooks North Caloocan at day time

 There is an ample parking space within the private garden which can accommodate between 70 to 100 people at any given time. Discounted rate is at Php 10,000 to Php 15,000 with the use of swimming pool, outdoor shower, cabana, outdoor parking, garden area, tables and chairs.

Swimming pool with sunset at the horizon

parking space and rooms 

manicured garden with mango trees, traveler palm, cycad revoluta

Address: 727 General Luis Street, Barangay Caybiga
Caloocan, Philippines 1420

Contact:  0998 555 5619