Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Filipina's Food Trip (2 of 2)

Who needs a drink? Or a sweet fix?

In Part 2 of my massive food trippin' in the Philippines, I'm ushering in the last installment of what caught my tastebud's hearts. Let's begin with what can mostly keep us warm in the recently occurring winter here in Riyadh...let's toast and cheers to that! 

Cappuccino from Figaro

I did my best to stay away from the glare of Starbucks as it's already everywhere, home and abroad. While I was in the North, I enjoyed this rich cup of capp over the view of SM Baguio from Figaro. I am loving the coffee art too as it's not something I see everyday in Riyadh. 

Milk Tea from Serenitea
Milk Tea was also a big deal in the metro, with people flocking to "chai-it-out" (such as myself). Serenitea is a popular name in the milk tea business at the moment, allowing customers to customize their own drinks by size, tea flavor, and add ons (think zagu balls and or red mongo beans). And indeed, it is not your ordinary cup of tea. :)

Salted Caramel Cappuccino from CBTL

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at Greenbelt was a staple hang out for me during my last vacation since most of my friends work in Makati. One day, my aunt (who is a year younger than me) invited me to try out this drink, which I've only heard of the first time. I am not exactly a fan of salty food, but I am a fan of trying out something new - and lo and behold, I finished every drop of this salted+caramel fusion of a coffee. Think tequilla shots, but instead of Cuervo, you get a dose of caffeine - filling you as equally warm inside. :)

The Teen Craze
Speaking of alcoholic beverages, the Tanduay Ice Alcomix was all the rave when I was back on vacation. Tweeners were anxious to taste it and are excited to act like they can actually get drunk from it. But when I gave it a try, it almost tasted like a more sour version of a 7-Up and seriously, there ain't no buzz. To those who claim to get drunk by this drink, it's like saying even Cali Shandy can get you wasted. But then again, that's just me. Disclaimer: I am not promoting underage drinking.

Who would turn down a glass?
Now I'm not a big beer drinker, but the boys in Riyadh would often times torture themselves and imagine an ice cold beer, complete with the sisig to boot! This one is a classic folks, and should not be missed! Kampay!!!

Cosmopolitan from Friday's, MOA
And of course, to my ladies out there who just needs to loosen up a bit (but not get totally wasted), another classic cocktail drink is the Cosmopolitan (which happens to be my favorite). Mainly made up of vodka, cranberry juice and some triple sec and lime, this will still keep things classy and sassy. Plus it's pink! What's not to love? Cheers ladies! (And let's start talking about that new boyfriend! Tee hee!) 


Moving on to desserts..

FroYos are still making a name for themselves with stores like the White Hat and the Red Mango. I stayed safe in trying out these babies coz I'm not a big fan of sour-tasting food. And if you noticed, I kind of buried the froyo in a sea of chocolate (takot sa maasim!). 

Plain FroYo with Choco Bits

Banana Waffle with Froyo from Red Mango

This was a deliciously made waffle topped off with the right amount of frozen yogurt on top. I actually had this dessert with P while we were catching up at SM Megamall. It was soft and fluffy and the sweetness was just right. This I highly recommend. :D 

Cupcakes from Sonja
What is already an established name in the cupcake biz is "Cupcakes by Sonja" located at Bonifacio Global City, The Fort. Must tries are their red velvet line and these choco crumbles which just begs you to lick it. Price ranges from 85Php to 150Php a piece. 

Coffee Bean Sansrival from Chateau 1771
This, hands down, had got to be the most unique Sansrival I have ever tasted in my life. You have to taste it for yourself to know what I mean. :)

Mango Jubillee Gelato from Amici

Amici is one of the longest running Italian restaurant chains in Manila, especially the one located near Don Bosco. One rainy night, my friend introduced me to this wondrous place of gelatos and gelato cakes (among others) and found myself in awe of their homemade food. The taste and quality is worth your money. 

Sweet Potato from Red Mango Bistro
Simple but with impact. It's your regular kamote (sweet potato) that's been steamed and tendered, smothered with coconut cream sauce that may have a magic potion in it. This plate was wiped clean! 

Chocolate Cake from Conti's
Conti's is a popular pastry label in the metro too with minions flocking in and out for their many favorites. It's fast becoming the next Goldilocks if I would be so daring to say so. I liked that this chocolate cake resembled my mom's own cooking of a beautiful chocolate cake. Moist, right icing and not too sweet. 

Cinnamon Bun from Cafe by the Ruins, Baguio
Just from the looks of that luscious piece of bread can already tell you everything you needed to know. Did it taste as good as it looks? Hell yes! Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio is a quaint place that's loved by the locals and remembered by the tourists. They have these items freshly baked daily, plus an undisputed menu of specials. They have great coffee to go with this too!

Halo Halo Special from Chowking

Last but definitely not the least, how can we go home to the Philippines without having halo-halo?! Umulan man o umaraw! Granted that this is the commercial kind, but hey, if you don't have the luxury of time to hunt down the best street halo-halo in your neighborhood, then Chowking's version of it isn't too bad already. So, scoop away kabayan! :) 


And there you have it, what's been long overdue of my food trip part 2! 

I just got back from my trip to the Eastern Province, visiting Dammam, AlKhobar and Jubail all in one weekend. Perhaps I have that to talk about next! 

Til next time....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guide to Philippine Schools in Riyadh

So you've got your visa to sunny Riyadh (plus family visa too!)... but what about your kids? Will they be able to go to a DepEd accredited school? The answer is YES! There are currently a lot of Philippine Schools in Riyadh and other cities in the Kingdom. In fact, Eyecandy and I are proud graduates of Elite International School and International Philippine School in Riyadh. Laking Saudi talaga :)

(Photo credits:

The first ever school in Riyadh is the International Philippine School in Riyadh (formerly the Philippine Embassy School in Riyadh). In the late 90's, other International Schools were established. As of press time, the schools that are still in operation in Riyadh are: 

    Majority of the Philippine schools are located around the Riyadh Military Hospital and Suleimaniah Area. It's like the U-belt of Pinoy Expats here. :))

    Levels Offered
    Most schools offer Pre-Elementary, Elementary and High School education, however some schools like IPSR offer Post-Secondary Courses such as Computer Science, Business Management and Liberal Arts. SPIS also offer IT Occupational Courses such as CISCO training courses and introductory computer courses.

    What if you relocate to Saudi Arabia in the middle of the School Year? 
    That's not a problem. Most of the Philippine schools will accept enrollees even in the middle of the school year, to help OFW's adjust to Saudi life faster. But they will need all of your child's school documents in compliance with DepEd regulations.

    Documents that you MUST bring to enroll your child
    The documents required for admission would depend on the grade level of your child, but here is a list of documents usually required to enroll your child here in Riyadh:

         1. Birth Certificate (Photocopy)
         2. Iqama of Parents (Photocopy)
         3. Passport of Parents (Photocopy)
         4. 6 pcs of colored 1x1 ID picture
         5. Student's Passport
         6. Original Report Card
         7. Form 137
         8. Honorable Dismissal from last school attended
         9. Certificate of Good Moral Character
    Tuition Fees
    Tuition Fees vary per school but generally the tuition rates are around 4000 - 4500 SR per year plus 500 SR miscellaneous fee. You can pay for this in lump, quarterly or monthly installment. There are also schools that offer graduated discounts for the next child.

    For example, IPSR offers "graduated discount for the 2nd & 3rd siblings; whereas the 4th child enjoys 50% tuition fee discount and the 5th child is free from tuition fee." (IPSR website)

    Again this depends if the school is actually offering a scholarship grant. For example, RIS offers scholarships and tuition fee deductibles for consistent top-notchers in class.

    The Curriculum
    Philippine schools in Riyadh follow the prescribed curriculum from DepEd. Your child will still be studying English, Math, Science, Araling Panlipunan or Sibika, Filipino, MAPE, THE and Computer. Most of the time, they will also be required to study Saudi History, Islamic Studies and Arabic Language, which are mandated by the Saudi Ministry of Education.

    School Activities
    Schools offer a wide range of extracurricular activities like Intramurals, Field Demonstrations during the schools' Foundation Week, Quizbees, Literary Contests, Science Congress and JS Promenades among others. Students may also join non-academic clubs, school newspapers, CAT, basketball and volleyball varsities and Student Council Organizations.

    School Facilities and Services

    Photo Credit:
    Most schools would have a Clinic, Science laboratory, AVR room, Computer room, Home Economics room, Bookstores and Canteen. Quadrangles are also used for school activities and ball games like basketball and volleyball. School bus service is also offered by most Philippine schools.

    Some schools will offer tutoring service for children who are having a hard time coping with lessons. The rates vary per school but rates would be around 200 SR per subject.

    Gender Segregation
    In most schools, students are sectioned by gender and not by scholastic standing. This is also a directive from the Ministry of Education that boys and girls should not mix on campus. Usually, only the Elementary students are allowed to attend a mix gender classroom.

    Classroom Size
    The average number of students per class would be around 20-30 students. Some schools provide armchairs, while others provide desks and chairs for each student. Most rooms are air-conditioned and use white board instead of the traditional blackboards.

    Well, there you have it. I think this covers most of the basic details about Philippine schools in Riyadh. We hope this post will prove helpful to our Kababayans who are planning to bring their children to Saudi Arabia. :)

    All the best, 

    Sampaguita Pride

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