This post is a synergy between a food review of Mabuhay Restop in Rizal Park, Ermita (near Manila Ocean Park) and a write-up on a unique musical-comedy travel show called “Manila Vanilla!” . Actually, it took me a much longer time to publish this, since it’s my first time to write on both the food/restaurant plus a live performance. In the end, I decided to go with my normal format for food review and just share with you the highlights of the show. So here it goes… 😉
A little intro: My mom invited us to Mabuhay Restop as she purchased vouchers from MetroDeal two weeks ago. She wanted to experience what was said to be “the best of Philippine pop culture” while enjoying the dinner buffet served by the restaurant. She deserved to laugh, smile some more and just have fun as she’s going through a lot lately. Well, so did the rest of us.
Review of Mabuhay Restop and Manila Vanilla! (Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila)
Everything here is screaming hello, Filipino pride! Mabuhay Restop positions itself as both a museum and a travel café. The business is devoted to promote Filipino culture and heritage in creative ways while making a difference. This is seen clearly as there are several displays and merchandise on the first floor from various regions of the country. The products are truly Filipino-made. Pieces of dining furniture looked sturdy and familiar like those in typical Filipino homes.
The counter serves as a one-stop place for guests to inquire and know more about trips and tours being arranged and community services where they can help. As a Gawad-Kalinga advocate, the owner of this restaurant/social enterprise is inclined to offer volunteerism tours and other avenues to provide visitors with an opportunity to create better lives for communities who need it most. I’m a fan of the idea. *clap clap*
The second floor was really where we got busy. One side put forth more impressions of Filipino arts and crafts with paintings and decorations positioned everywhere, while the other side didn’t fail to attract hungry folks for food and entertainment.
The dining area was spacious, with lots of seats for maybe a hundred people, fronting the stage show. The buffet table was strategically arranged at the far end, so diners can get food with convenience without obstructing the view of the other audiences. I thought this place can be an ideal venue for conducting seminars and gatherings for large groups.
Reservation was made and confirmed through email with ease. We were given our table number when we arrived and we were treated well throughout our stay. The staffs were pleasant and always had a smile on their faces. They were accommodating to all requests and came to assistance immediately when we needed them.
The buffet spread looked pretty neat and delectable with favorite authentic Filipino dishes available. There were the likes of Sotanghon Guisado, Shrimp with Alavar Sauce, Beef Caldereta, Bangus Tamarind, Adobong Kangkong and more.
Sadly for me, the food tasted decent but overall mediocre. It wasn’t very memorable but fair enough to satisfy hunger or some craving for home-style Filipino food in a warm and casual setting while in Manila.
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
Considering the price of food only, I would have to give 3/5 stars. However, there’s more to food in Mabuhay Restop, as we knew and expected. I was super amazed by Manila Vanilla! and I had zero negative things to say about it. 🙂
Manila Vanilla! — A MUST-SEE CULTURAL SHOW WITH A MODERN TWIST
Learning that Manila Vanilla! was written and directed by one of the most prominent directors in the Philippines, Nestor U. Torre, plus the fact that its music was selected by the very accomplished Filipino composer Ryan Cayabyab, we were much in delight.
Packed with humor and song-and-dance numbers, the musical tells the story of a Filipino family who’s venturing into a bed-and-breakfast business while showcasing the beauty of the country. While they’re at it, both foreigners and locals can get to know more about quirks and idiosyncrasies of Filipinos in a creative and entertaining way.
Many of the audiences that night were game to sing along familiar tunes such as “Isang Mundo, Isang Awit” by Leah Navarro, “Mamang Sorbetero” by Celeste Legaspi, “Magellan” by Yoyoy Villame, “Da Coconut Nut” by Smokey Mountain, “Sana’y Wala nang Wakas” by Sharon Cuneta, “Balut” popularized by Katy de la Cruz, etc.
Filipino folk dances like tinikling, maglalatik, and pandanggo sa ilaw were also brought to light, as the GK Tanghal Performing Arts group performed these in between scenes.
I enjoyed the show so much that I want to see it again! 😀 Yes, for real, haha! Time seemed to fly and it didn’t feel like we were there for over two hours. When we were back home, I searched for YouTube videos uploaded featuring Manila Vanilla! but I can’t find a good copy. I’d be happy to run across one next time.
Not to forget, before the show ended, the performers asked for those celebrating their birthday in the month of October. We all sang the Happy Birthday song for them. Later, Sales and Marketing Director at Mabuhay Restop Billy De Jesus, called one representative of each table to come up on stage. It was me for ours.
The Filipino folk dancers taught us steps which seemed easy to follow and we danced without music.
I realized and recognized that the steps were of tinikling when one of the male dancers reached out to my hands. Then, the other performers behind us held the bamboo poles which they tapped against the ground in rhythm gracefully. OMG, I was even the first to try it!
My feet hurt every time they got caught by the bamboo poles. Obviously, this dance isn’t my expertise, but it was A+ for experience. 🙂
Dining at Mabuhay Restop and getting entertained by all Manilla Vanilla! performers had really gotten our money’s worth!