I find it so fitting that I am writing a blog entry about Manila and Luneta Park on December 30, Rizal Day. Find this as my way of honoring our national hero on his day. Oh and I also ate at a restaurant celebrating Jose Rizal's characters in one of his novels. But more on Jose Rizal later on.
A day after Christmas, we took our trusty helper out to Manila because she wanted to see the fountain show at the Luneta Park. Since it's going to be her last Christmas and New Year with us, we decided to make it a little special for her.
After hearing Mass at Sacred Heart in Makati, we headed on over to Aristocrat near Malate Church for dinner. Although our home-cooked meals have been very good, we were getting kind of tired of eating pancit over and over again!
I'm not really sure if I'm the only one who thinks this is true but Aristocrat is like THE restaurant for Filipino families. It's been around since forever, and it's almost a sin not to eat there during one's lifetime. We've had one too many family reunions there too, when our balikbayan relatives come home and start craving for Filipino food.
Since it was a day after Christmas, everybody was still in a festive mood, so the place was packed to the brim. Since there was just the 3 of us, we had no problem in getting a seat.
I also loved their Christmas which was at the center of the restaurant.
For our starters, Mom and I got soup to warm our insides. The night air here in the Philippines has been really nippy, almost everybody I know is sick or about to get sick.
Mom had the Sotanghon soup. She would almost always order sotanghon soup if she sees it on the menu!
I had Cream of Mushroom.
Despite it's lack of glamor for the camera, it was really good. It was served hot and had ample mushrooms in it.
For the main course we all had what made Aristocrat famous the world over: BARBECUE! Mom had Boneless Chicken, I had Pork Spareribs (for a change), and Ate Dor had the popular Chicken Barbecue.
Paired with Aristocrat's very own Java Sauce, it makes one if not THE BEST chicken barbecue there is here in the country.
After the huge dinner, it was time for us to go Luneta Park to walk around and burn the chicken meal. Luneta Park is a very historic site in the country becuase this is where our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was shot on December 30, 1896. The 0 kilometer marker, which serves as a marker to all the cities in the Philippines, is also found here.
When we got to the park, it was just like Aristocrat, it was PACKED with families picnicking and just sitting around. It was like the whole of Manila was there! Kids ran around, parents slept, and vendors milled around, as the park's sound systems blasted Christmas carols.
I don't usually go to Luneta randomly, maybe I'm just a bit snooty that way, but I have to admit I enjoyed being there that night. It was a totally different Sunday night family affair.
Like us, everybody came for the fountain show. It only lasted for about 10 minutes but it was cool. The kids enjoyed it, especially when the lights changed colors. We weren't kids, but it was actually cool! Ate Dor of course LOVED it since she begged for us to come down to Manila just to see this! :)
Walking around the park, we noticed these blue and pink lights that kept flying up in the air. They were these slingshot toys the kids were playing around with, I was so intrigued I bought from this boy who was selling them for P15.
The kids were having so much slinging those things in the air. And when we finally got the hang of it, Ate Dor and I actually had fun with it too! So fun I bought 10 of these things to give to my college barkada for our reunion the following night.
Sometimes it really is the simple things in life that prove to be FUN and I think it keeps you grounded! Since we're all used to heading over to the malls and going to the Luneta Park was something of a relief. It's nice to see Filipino families bonding complete with their their pots filled with food, rice cooker, and plates. You just get to feel how the family is still the most important for us Filipinos, and you just can't help but be proud of it. And I sure was glad to be among those Filipino families in the park that night! :)
We ate at:
The Aristocrat Restaurant
432 San Andres St. cor. Roxas Blvd., Malate
Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel. No. 524-7671 to 80