Fireworks, food trip and a travel fair

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Once upon a time, life was simpler with weekend thrills of scuba diving and partying.

Anilao was our water playground and the Tubbataha Reefs were our ocean heaven. I remember those fun-filled trips as I send birthday greetings to both Gigi Santos and Eileen Juan, my best dive buddies, who share the same birthday today.

These days, the closest thing I get to scuba is when I’m on-board the dive boat Oceana Maria. I was there on the invitation of Mary de Leon to watch the wonderful fireworks at the 7th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition 2016.

The Pyromusical event paints the skies of Manila Bay in brilliant colors, a display that runs every Saturday until March 19.

On the day we watched, we were amazed with the spectacular fireworks of Italy and the United Kingdom at SM Mall of Asia.

Milestone

Last Monday I attended the milestone of another SM Supermall, SM City North Edsa, which celebrated its 30th anniversary.

The affair had a classic vibe, with the 30-piece Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and Morissette Amon performing. And for the younger set, DJ BadKiss took over for the after party.

SM launched its Shop N’ Fly promotion at the event, ongoing until March 13. Shop now and be one of 30 families of four that will be treated to a vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland.

The SM Group is simply astounding. Its investments in the country continue unabated. In three decades, it has built 62 malls nationwide.

Travel fair

With spring break just around the corner, we took advantage of some of the exciting travel packages being offered by airlines.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) kicked off a yearlong celebration for its 50th anniversary in the Philippines at the much-anticipated Showcase and Travel Fair 2016.

Its all-new Premium Economy Class cabin product and global network expansion with new destinations were unveiled at Ayala Malls’ Glorietta Activity Center.

Gracing the occasion were Singapore Ambassador Kok Li Peng, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., and Foreign Affairs assistant Secretary Minda Cruz, as well as some 500 guests from the diplomatic corps, travel industry, various business sectors and the media.

Mak Swee Wah, Singapore Airlines’ executive vice president, recalled how the airline started operating in the Philippines in 1966. From three flights a week, it now has 52 weekly  serving Manila, Cebu, Davao and Kalibo.

Internationally, the airline serves 280 cities in 70 countries. That means direct flights from Singapore to even smaller cities in Europe like Düsseldorf, and to the Aussie capital, Canberra, and others.

Singapore Airlines is also a founding member of the Star Alliance, meaning connectivity is enhanced with its partner airlines, which include industry giants like Lufthansa and even smaller players like Vistara in India.

The fares were so reduced that I got Premium Economy Class tickets for my daughter Annika and her high school classmates. The enhancements of Premium Economy include all in-flight services like food and beverage, bigger seats with more recline, more baggage allowance and priority check-in and boarding.

Together with the Singapore flights, I was also able to arrange one of Contiki’s top-selling destinations for the girls’ summer break. Contiki is the world leader in youth travel experiences. With its experience, I don’t have to worry about the safety of Annika and her small group of unaccompanied, newly graduated friends.

Contiki offers over 300 trips in more than 50 countries. These include such diverse tours as a four-day trip to see the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, to a more traditional, three-week tour of Europe. Its target market is Generation Yum, millennials who want to experience local flavors and authentic dishes in foreign countries.

Gourmand Market

Speaking of yum, the Gourmand Market by nawwTy’s kitchen is on this weekend at C1 Park, Bonifacio High Street in Bonifacio Global City. Open until  11 p.m., today, it will feature several food merchants serving savory and sweet dishes including Ricing Bowl, the new toppings resto of our son Bryan Prieto.

Ricing Bowl's Anton Panajon
Ricing Bowl’s Anton Panajon

The street market tagged “Eat Well, Live Well” will have several vendors and new startup food stalls serving organic produce and healthy dishes. Sponsored by Globe Platinum, the Gourmand Market is well organized and entertaining with live bands and shows.

Japanese treats

More on yum, I was at the opening of Osaka Ohsho and Café Kumori at The Block, SM North Edsa. The former is the second branch of the gyoza-focused, Osaka-based Japanese restaurant. The latter is the first full-scale concept of the Kumori Japanese Bakery. Both were brought to Manila by the Relish Group.

I could quickly see that Osaka Ohsho’s best sellers will include its five unique gyoza flavors, Chicken Karaage and Fuwatoro Tenshin Han, an omelet enveloping premium rice.

Café Kumori expands the bakery concept, “Japan baked daily,” by introducing various coffees and tea-based drinks into the mix. Its open kitchen shows patrons the skill and quality put into preparing the best-selling Krone, Caramel Crunch Cake, Hanjuku Cheesecake and other beloved pastries.

Indeed, the country has a blossoming foodie scene, and Osaka Ohsho and Café Kumori will be great additions to it.

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter and @seaprincess888 on Instagram.

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