Tuesday, June 28, 2016

PAL Mabuhay Miles Travel Card

Last April, despite it being the craziest, busiest time of my life, I made sure to squeeze in a trip to Cebu because something BIG was launching there.

The country's very first prepaid card, multi-currency wallet, mileage card and membership card all rolled into one.

I present to you... drum roll, please...

The Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles Travel Card

Before I tell you more about this brilliant piece of plastic, let me first share with you how Philippine Airlines spoiled us from the moment we stepped into the Mabuhay Lounge at NAIA Terminal 2.

Of course, every PAL experience starts with a comforting bowl of arroz caldo.
I like to top mine with crispy garlic, chopped salted egg, spring onions, and dilis.
Heaps and heaps of them. Confession: I never stop at just one bowl. 

After the smooth flight to the Queen of the South, we checked in at the beautiful Shangri-La Mactan.

The balcony in my room opens up to this va-va-view-m!
I would have stayed here all day, looking out to the hot, scorching, sexy summer (in the 
comfort of my air-conditioned room haha), except I had a very important appointment.

A very important appointment with my massage therapist at the Chi Spa 
where my body enjoyed a much-needed 60-minute session of Philippine Hilot.
Now that was a treat!

Later that evening, at the stunning Ocean Pavilion with the backdrop of the
midnight blue sky, a true industry game-changer was unveiled.

Guests were welcomed in Philippine Airlines fashion - big smiles, warm greetings,
genuine hospitality.

PAL President and COO Jaime Bautista introduced the Travel Card, a new chapter 
in the history of Mabuhay Miles. So exciting! It is wonderful to know that our national
carrier continually works to enhance its product and service offerings to frequent flyers.

To celebrate the special occasion, there was Cebu lechon

Traditional music and dancing

And miles and miles to give away. Lucky winners went home with
10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Mabuhay Miles.

Feeling very generous, Mr. Bautista gave in to the crowd's request for more prizes 
and raffled off a few thousand miles more. Everybody at my table won a prize. 
Everybody but me. Huhu.

But I felt like a million miler after everyone retired to the hotel and I had this
incredible starry night all to myself. I had never seen so many stars at once. 
They glittered like diamonds. It took my breath away.  

Plus I received my all-new PAL Mabuhay Miles Travel Card.

In a nutshell:

The Mabuhay Miles Travel Card is your Mabuhay Miles membership card and multi-currency prepaid card in one.

This prepaid card can be used to purchase products and services in stores that accept UnionPay.

Earn 1 mile for every P100 (or foreign currency equivalent) spent.

Redeem your miles for goods or services at participating program partners.

And the best part for me is, the card can hold up to 10 currencies!

US Dollar (USD)
Philippine Peso (PHP)
Euro (EUR)
British Pound (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Australian Dollar (AUD)
Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)
Japanese Yen (JPY)

This is so perfect for people who love to travel. Just load up your card with the currency needed at your destination, fly, eat, spend, shop, and earn miles while at it! Also, no terrible bill shock because you only put in your allotted budget, haha! 

The next day, we put our Travel Cards to good use.

We went to the new SM Seaside Cebu because, well, SM's got it all.  :P

But first, lunch to fuel us up, catered by a Cebu favorite, Cafe Laguna.
We dined right by the entrance of the mall, under its high ceiling.

My favorite from the spread was this scrumptious grilled pork belly

And then shopping began. I got a few items from Uniqlo for my UK trip. 
It was still chilly in that part of the world so these cardigans were perfect.

3 cardigans, 3 skirts, and a button-down dress all successfully charged to my
Mabuhay Miles Travel Card. Yay! I am happy to announce that the transaction
 was as easy and seamless as using a debit card.

You can also use the Travel Card to withdraw money from any BancNet ATM machine

I tested out this service and...

Ta-Da!!! Success!!!

Another great feature of the Mabuhay Miles Travel Card is the redemption of rewards
 at partner merchants using miles earned.

I experienced the convenience of this feature first-hand when I used my card to
check in at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

The hotel front desk debited 13,000 miles from my Travel Card and handed me 
the key to my deluxe sea view room. 

Isn't it splendid to be able to enjoy such comfort using only the miles you've earned 
and absolutely zero pesos? I urge everyone to enroll in Mabuhay Miles frequent flyer 
program and apply for the MM Travel Card. For more information, visit 

This chunky chocolate chip cookie is just the cherry on top. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Uma Uma Ramen and Horse's Mouth

This is Russell Yu, the bossman at Uma Uma Ramen, feeling just a little bit frustrated 
that it is taking longer than expected for his restaurant to open in Manila.
He has been ready and excited since 2015.

Exactly two months ago, we flew to Singapore with the agenda of trying out every single
item on the menu of the ramenya-izakaya that originated from Fukuoka, Japan.

I kid you not. This was just one-eighth of all the dishes we ate during our visits to 
Uma Uma's Forum Shopping Mall and Millenia Walk branches.

Uma Uma has been making ramen for over 60 years and prides itself for using only natural
 ingredients. The broth is a result of boiling pork bones for hours and hours, with no shortcuts,
and most importantly, with NO MSG. Every bowl is 100% pure and natural umami!

Russell's favorite is the signature Uma Uma Ramen with tender slices of chasiu, 
spring onions, black fungus, and egg in a spicy miso broth.

I love mentaiko on anything and was delighted to see Mentaiko Ramen on the menu. 
A generous scoop of the fish roe sat on top of chasiu, egg, spring onions and seaweed strips. 

Garlic Ramen with chasiu, white onions, black garlic, egg, bean sprouts and fried shallots.
Did you know that black garlic is all the rage now in countries like Taiwan, Japan and Korea? 
It has twice the antioxidant properties of white garlic and is proven to lower cholesterol and
prevent cancer. So happy that Uma Uma is making this available to Manila. We not only
get a tasty bowl of ramen, but also a nutritious and immune system-boosting one, too.

My favorite had to be the Tan Tan Men. A mix of Chinese and Japanese
flavors, every bite transported me back to my growing up years in Taiwan. 

Guess who finished it all  :D

Witnesses to my crime: Cassandra, Cheryl, Lani, Andrew, ZY, Anton, and Russell

People watching their carbs (not me, obviously!) will be happy to know that Uma Uma
 also specialises in yakitori. Here is Chef Satoshi Nakamura doing his magic on the grill. 

Chicken Skin

Pork Belly

Chicken Thigh

Shiitake Mushrooms

For the rice lovers:

Chasiu Don with Onsen Egg - another culprit to the severe food coma I suffered that day

Salmon Don

Spicy Tuna Don

Fast forward 60 days, I am seated in front of a smiling Russell because his very first 
 Philippines branch is finally opening!

Uma Uma is located in S Maison Conrad, Manila's newest lifestyle and dining destination

And look who's here, too. Satoshi-san and his team of Japanese chefs flew in
many weeks ago to prepare for the special occasion.

To celebrate, I had tasty little One-Bite Gyozas

Chicken Karaage with the perfect crunch

And the crowd favorite, Mazesoba, which is really the perfect choice in this sweltering heat!

Dry noodles with chasiu bits, bamboo shoots, spring onions, leeks, sesame seeds, onsen egg.
I like it especially with an extra drizzling of chili oil.

An extra bowl of 100% MSG-free tonkotsu broth to wash all that down.

Along with Uma Uma, Russell brings to Manila his whisky and cocktail bar Horse's Mouth

It was love at first sip with my Kopi & Kaya cocktail, a brilliant concoction of Ketel One 
vodka chilled over ice with coffee and sugar, topped with hot kaya foam. Truly Singapore and
truly me! To this day I dream about that heavenly coconut jam foam and look forward to that
moment when my lips can be reunited with the sweet and creamy goodness here in Manila.

Good news is, Horse's Mouth craftsman Johan Fong is in town playing around with our 
local ingredients. Russell mentioned something about green mangoes and bagoong.
So exciting!!!

Horse's Mouth Manila, where you can have your ramen AND your cocktails

The opening menu

The vavavoom view!!!

Yes to ramen with clear blue skies

And cocktails with the most amazing Manila sunset

Uma Uma and Horse's Mouth Manila open on June 15, 2016.

Uma Uma: Level 2, S Maison Conrad, Seaside Boulevard corner Coral Way, Pasay City

Uma Uma Website
Uma Uma Facebook Page
Uma Uma Instagram

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