Posted in canada, ottawa, Photography & Travel

Flower Photography for Happiness — Ottawa Tulip Festival 2020

Just parading a lot of tulip photos from this year. Every year, Ottawa celebrates Tulip Festival in celebration of Spring. It commemorates the time when the Dutch royal family took refuge in Ottawa during the Second World War, and Dutch Princess Margriet was born here in 1943. Two years later, Canadian troops played a key role in liberating the Netherlands. In gratitude, the Dutch government has sent Canada a gift of tulip bulbs every year since 1945, inspiring what has become the Canadian Tulip Festival.

It’s been a challenging year and all I want is to look back to good memories. 💐

Posted in Insightful, Own Story, Photography & Travel

Ottawa’s Magic of Lights

As we conclude 2020, we are hoping to wrap up the end of the COVID-19 era. An era that we never in our wildest dreams, will live to see and experience. Like most people, this year has brought me to a different terrain that was unimaginable especially in my career. When the news broke out that the virus has reached Canadian soil, I expected that it’s going to seethe and reach a boiling point. It was just a matter of time for it to spread and cause people to die like flies. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. It was a horrific encounter and would not recommend to anyone.

As the vaccine begins to rollout, I am optimistic that somehow, this pandemic would end and our lives will go back to normal. This era has taught us numerous things that are important to our lives. We now understand and appreciate that our lives pre-pandemic era, was definitely secure and splendid. We have learned the importance of minute things that we choose to ignore because we’re too busy with our own everyday struggles. Moreover, we can appreciate the value of social connections and interactions as it was forbidden for awhile. Our human connections and bonds were strengthened. Our headspace transformed which forced us to reflect on our values as a human being.

Let us now shift our frustrations to something that is blissful and look forward to a better tomorrow. Don’t let the Grinch (COVID-19) steal our Christmas this year. We won”t let him! Sorry for the dramatic intro but I feel like it was appropriate before shifting gears. Haha! So, this week, I had a few days off and decided to check out Wesley Clover Park’s Magic of Lights Ottawa Show. It was truly a magnificent experience and a night to remember.

The show will run from November 13th, 2020 to January 9th, 2021, from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Tickets are available online for $22 plus HST. You can also buy your tickets at the gate for $30 from Monday to Thursday and $35 from Friday to Sunday. Tickets are available here -> Wesley Clover Parks, Magic of Lights Ottawa Show. Now, if you’re looking to get away from the depressive mood of this year and start feeling the Christmas spirit, you should definitely check this out!

Magnificent lights
Magic of Lights Show

We also went to check out Ottawa’s famous Taffy Lane. This neighbourhood has traditionally been decorating their houses every year for the Christmas season. It’s one of the most famous streets in Ottawa during Christmas! You should definitely check this out and be amazed with their Christmas displays. The homeowners put a lot of effort into decorating their homes for everyone to see!

Taffy Lane, Ottawa

Posted in Food & Drinks, Photography & Travel

13 Delicious Filipino Cuisines You Should Really Try (If You Haven’t)

Looking for Filipino dishes to try for the first time? Or are you trying to convince your non-Filipino friends to try Filipino cuisines? These are the 13 must try dishes that are all-time favourites!

Filipino cuisine is a fusion of cultures and influences that sets the tone in every occasion. I will have to give you a heads up that Filipino parties are not always that simple. It’s a combination of table filled with scrumptious dishes and endless merrymaking. Don’t be shocked when you’re constantly told to eat more as you finish your first plate and be asked to come to the table and get some more. That’s just how Filipino hospitality is. The host will even ask you to take home some of leftovers.

So what do we know about Filipino cuisines? The Philippine archipelago with more than 7,000 islands is rich with ethnolinguistic groups and tribes influences including Ilocano, Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano, Visayan (Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray) and more. Additionally, the waves of influence from Spanish, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese and American style of cooking make Filipino food a melting pot of delicious tangy, salty, sweet and spicy flavours! With the abundance of seafood, tropical fruits, traditional cooking techniques and rich history, Filipino cuisine is a mish-mash of local, regional and ethnic influences that will surely satisfy your palate and a culinary experience like no other.

So, if you’re unfamiliar about Filipino cuisines but an adventurous food fanatic, you should try these delicious dishes! Let me remind you that these dishes come with boiled white rice which is a staple food for Filipinos. Are you ready for this?

PINAKBET

Pinakbet or Pak-bet originated from the northern regions of the Philippines. This dish is a colourful medley of bitter melon, tomatoes, okra, string beans, squash and more. This classic vegetable stew is accentuated with bagoong or fermented fish with a side of grilled meat or fried fish. Again, don’t forget the rice! Click here for the recipe.

BULALO

Ever tried beef shank with it’s bone marrow still inside? Bulalo is native to Philippines’ southern parts. This mouth watering soup includes leafy vegetables such as cabbage or pechay (similar to bok-choi), corn on the cob, onions, garlic and potatoes. Some add taro or carrots as well. It is commonly eaten on rice with soy sauce with calamansi (citrus fruit native to the Philippines). Click here for the recipe.

SISIG

I don’t think when you mention a dish made from grilled parts of a pig head and chicken sounds appetizing. However, this dish called sisig is seasoned with calamansi, onions and chili peppers will definitely change your mind. This cuisine originated from Pampanga in the island of Luzon. The ingredients are boiled, broiled and grilled, which is tedious but brings out the flavours. Sisig is often served in a sizzling plate and topped with fresh egg, ox brains, pork cracklings and mayonnaise. So, bring out the beer, shall we? Click here for the recipe.

PANCIT PALABOK

Noodles with shrimp gravy, anyone? Pancit palabok is a rice noodle dish with thick, yellow-orange sauce dressed up with shrimps, flakes of smoked fish, pork cracklings and layer upon layer of seafood flavour. This noodle dish is a variety that has a lot of Chinese influence that Filipinos commonly serve it birthday parties and special occasions as it represents long life and good health. It was also believed that when preparing this dish, the noodles should not be cut as it can bring about bad luck. Click here for the recipe.

SINIGANG

Sinigang is a savoury and sour stew combined with chili, vegetables such as bok-choi, chili leaves, onions and tomatoes with meat, fish or seafood of your choice.. If you wonder what makes this dish acidic, cooks often use tamarind. This dish provides you the comfort you need on a rainy day. Some also use unripe mangoes, calamansi, guava to give it that sour flavour. Get your 3 cups of rice ready because this is a dish you can’t resist! Click here for the recipe.

LECHON

Lechon (le-chon) is a Spanish word referring to a roasted baby piglet. It is also a popular food in Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. With its Spanish influence, Filipinos have acquired this tradition and every occasion showcases lechon as their main dish. Lechon for Filipinos, is a symbol of merrymaking and lavishness. Lechon is prepared with stuffed herbs that includes scallions, bay leaves, black peppercorn, garlic, salt and lemongrass. Lechon is typically cooked over woodfire or charcoal until the skin becomes crispier for several hours. A version called lechong kawali is cooked with hot cooking oil in a frying pan. Click here for the recipe.

PANSIT BIHON GUISADO

This noodle dish uses vermicelli (bihon) that is stir fried with various vegetables such as onion, garlic, cabbage, carrot, celery, beans and mixed with meat, shrimp with soya sauce. Just like the palabok, it symbolizes long life and good health and has since been a Filipino favourite in every function and occasion. Click here for the recipe.

TINOLA

Tinola is traditionally cooked soup with chicken, wedges of papaya or sayote, leaves of chili in broth flavoured with ginger, onions and fish sauce. The simplicity of this dish makes it so popular and a soup favourite. It was also existent during the Spanish period and was highlighted in Jose Rizal’s novel, Noli Me Tangere. This soup is so indulging and flavourful. Get your extra rice ready! Click here for the recipe.

CALDERETA

Caldereta derived its name to the Spanish word caldera meaning cauldron. This delicious stew is a cooked with goat meat. Some variations use beef, chicken or pork. It has a lot of similarities to dishes such as afritada and mechado which uses tomatoes, potatoes, carrots bell peppers and liver paste. Some cooks add pineapply to accentuate the dish. This stew is usually served with rice and a crowd favourite. Click here for the recipe.

KARE-KARE

Another popular Philippine stew is kare-kare. This yummy stew is eaten with shrimp paste, spiced with chili and sprinkled with calamansi juice. Kare-kare is made from oxtail, pork hocks, calves feet, beef stew meat and tripe. The meat is often tenderized and mixed with vegetables such as eggplant, Chinese cabbage and green beans. Best part? This stew is complemented with a thick savoury, peanut sauce. Again, this stew is served with rice and is often cooked when there is a special occasion. Click here for the recipe.

TAPSILOG

Tapsilog (tap-si-log) is a breakfast trio of “tapa, sinangag at itlog” which means beef steak, garlic fried rice and egg. This all-time breakfast favourite is enjoyed with fresh tomatoes, cucumber slices and spicy dipping sauce. A generous portion of rice is needed for this sumptuous meal!Click here for the recipe.

ARROZ CALDO

Arroz caldo or aroskaldo (a-roz kal-do) is a porridge made from glutinous rice and chicken infused with ginger and roasted garlic garnished with scallions, chicharon (pork rinds), boiled egg andblack pepper. It is regarded as a comfort food in the Philippines and is a popular breakfast meal. Arroz caldo is a Spanish name originated from congee which was introduce by Chinese migrants. The recipe has evolved over the centuries to use Filipino ingredients that suit the local tastes. Ready for your second bowl? Click here for the recipe.

ADOBO

This fan favourite is indigenous to the Philippines. Because of the country’s tropical climate, Filipinos cooked or prepared their food using vinegar to keep it fresh. This popular cuisine involves meat, seafood, vegetables and marinated in soya sauce, vinegar, garlis, bay leaves and black peppercorns browned in oil and simmered in the marinade. It is Philippines’ unofficial national dish. More rice please? Click here for the recipe.

Disclaimer: Photo credits to owner.

Posted in Photography & Travel

Top 10 Nature Spots in Ottawa and Surrounding Areas

Visiting the nation’s capital and its surrounding areas? These are my top 10 spots to visit when looking for places to unwind, chill and have a taste of Ottawa. While city life could be hectic at times, Ottawa living offers various options to explore and delve into a relaxing getaway. It could be a simple walk, bike ride, hike or picnic, these places have a lot to offer. Get your cameras ready when you visit these spots as it’s too beautiful and too instagrammable!

10. Mer Bleue Bog

Beautiful colours in Autumn

Mer Bleue provides a unique opportunity to see a northern boreal landscape located within minutes of a large city. This 7,700-year-old bog provides habitat for many species of regionally rare and significant plants, birds and other wildlife. It also supports plant and wildlife populations that are typical of northern boreal bogs.

Picturesque view

With more than 20 kilometres of trails, Mer Bleue offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Wonderful boardwalk

You can take a self-guided tour along the Mer Bleue Bog Trail, a 1.2-kilometre interpretive boardwalk. Check out the Dewberry Trail as well. Photography and birding are also popular activities at Mer Bleue.

Discover the remarkable trees in this area.

Remarkable trees

9. Rideau Falls.

The twin falls mark the spot where the Rideau River flows into the Ottawa River. The 2.89-hectare park is the site of several commemorations, including the Mackenzie-Papineau Monument, the Commonwealth Air Force Memorial and the National Artillery Monument.

Raging waters

Confederation Boulevard landmark, Rideau Falls Park is located at 50 Sussex Drive, a short walk from Rideau Hall. In the 1800s, the site was an industrial area powered by the falls. Rideau Falls Park was developed after the Second World War, when the area was acquired by the federal government and cleared of industry.

Rideau Falls and Green Island

8. Princess Louise Falls

This waterfalls is located in Orleans and is a part of a river system that was buried underground to allow suburban home construction.

Princess Louise Falls

7. Eagle’s Nest, Madawaska, ON

Eagle’s Nest Lookout is a 2.7 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near Greater Madawaska, Ontario, Canada that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Inukshuk on the trail, uniquely Canadian.

An easy 1.5 km hike along an old logging road that climbs gradually uphill, through the woods, leading to a spectacular lookout at the top of a 120 metre cliff. 

Trail to the Eagle’s Nest

Across the road, on your left, you will note the Eagle’s Nest trail sign marking the entrance to the trail. Follow the trail for about 20 minutes. Note the eagle’s head, painted signs in the trees above you on the right. As you pass a pond on your left, look for a large, colourful and informative sign, just off to your right. Follow the short trail up the hill to the right to the cliff site and enjoy the view.

Magnificent view from the top

6. Andrew Haydon Park

Andrew Haydon Park is a park on the Ottawa River that is managed by the City of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It is situated on Carling Avenue at Holly Acres Road.

Migrating Canada geese, brants, ducks, and shorebirds stop over along the marshy edges of the river near the park. Resident Canada geese and mallards also inhabit the park’s two ponds.

The park was named after Andrew Haydon, former Reeve of Nepean.

Red and orange
Serenity
Before sunset
Sunset at its finest
Just chillin’ here

5. Mississippi Mills, ON

Mississippi Mills is a town in eastern Ontario, Canada, in Lanark County on the Mississippi River. It is made up of the former Townships of Ramsay and Pakenham, as well as the Town of Almonte. It is partly located within Canada’s National Capital Region.

Mississippi River
Pakenham Bridge
Chillin on the Mississippi River

4. Petrie Island

The Petrie Islands group on the Ottawa River was formed by sand deposited at the close of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago. The 2 km by 500 m area, from the foot of Champlain St. to Trim Rd in Orleans, has a total shoreline length, including all channels and bays, of about 12 km.

Some simply come to relax in a peaceful setting, often bringing a good book; photographers, painters and musicians visit, and many come down to view sunsets over the river. The picnic area has brought new popularity to the islands, and children love to play in the sand or explore the trails looking for turtles and other wildlife. While the area is busiest in summer, it is a local favourite for ice fishing in winter and offers quiet woods for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

Petrie Island
Relaxing waters

3. Rockcliffe Park

The Village of Rockcliffe Park is like no other, offering not just abundant green space and beautiful homes, each with their own intrinsic character, but also a very special sense of community. It offers excellent schools within walking distance and recreational activities to fit almost every taste and stage in life – from walking, cycling, swimming, tennis, rowing and sailing, skating, cross country skiing and snowshoeing to a variety of indoor activities scheduled at the community centre. And all this just minutes from shopping along Beechwood Avenue and downtown Ottawa.

Old Victorian house
Whitemarl Drive, Rockcliffe

2. Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park is the National Capital Region’s conservation park. The largest green space in the region, the Park occupies an area of more than 361 square kilometres, and is a place of rich and unique biodiversity. It is the second-most visited park in Canada, and a destination for outdoor enthusiasts to engage in recreational activities that respect the environment.

Gatineau Park’s vast territory is divided into several sectors, one of which is accessible from downtown Ottawa–Gatineau, and each of which feature various points of interest and historical places. Unlike other national parks, this park has several entry points, and some roads through it, leading to the northern and western sectors.

Gatineau Park Lookout
Lac Philippe Trail
Gatineau Lookout
  1. Major’s Hill Park

Between events, the park is a calm oasis in downtown Ottawa, and the perfect spot to take a break between visits to the ByWard Market and nearby museums and galleries.

This park features some of the best lookouts in Ottawa, offering stunning views of the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and the Parliament Buildings. Take a stroll through the park’s stately trees, over its rolling lawns and winding pathways, and learn about its history through a series of interpretation panels.

Major’s Hill Park is an exceptional site to see tulips blooming in the spring.

Overlooking the Parliament Hill
Major’s Hill Park during Tulip Festival
Parliament Hill
Posted in Own Story, Photography & Travel

Living it up in the Knife (Yellowknife)

Living in Yellowknife at this time of the year is the worst thing, I think. You would be going out at a temperature of up to -52 degrees Celsius and be overwhelmed with the horrific coldness. It happens to be my 4th winter in Canada now and I am still not getting used to this coldness, well growing up in a tropical country (Philippines), I suppose. After being in this city for four months, I begin to appreciate the brighter side of the city.

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Coming from Ottawa, which is certainly a bigger city than YK, it was a huge change. Three years of living up in that city made me get used to a more urban/suburban living. What I mean is, everything is accessible at a snap. Ottawa has a nice public transit and is quite easier to anybody who doesn’t have a vehicle, like me which is just so neat. Even though I’m still trying to adjust to the culture and the dynamics that this city possesses, I have to make the most out of it and enjoy every single second.

I came at a very good time in this city which is the nicest season. Lakes, beach, fishing, canoeing, and, oh sun! This place has a lot to offer. If you are into these kinds of things, this is the place for you. One of my favorite places  is the Pilots’ Monument, where you could see a breathtaking view of the most part of the city. The awesome boat houses that afloat in the clear blue waters of the lake will capture your attention. During the winter, the lakes freeze and people could walk over it.

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I miss the summer and the warm weather. The winter in this part of Canada, they said is one of the coldest in this country. You have to be dressed really good and be prepared to battle the freezing weather. Apart from dreading the coldness so much, I like how beautiful outside is. The soft snow that blankets the trees, ground and houses, it truly is magnificent.

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I’d say, change is good. Yellowknife, please be good to me. I’m really beginning to love this place and will see what the future has in store for me. 🙂