Saturday, May 9, 2015



“A SEOULful Summer”
Sun.Star Davao, May 9, 2015

It has always been a running joke in the family that my husband Gary owed me another trip to South Korea.

You see, back in 2004, Gary and I went to the Land of Kimchi for almost a week, taking in the sights and indulging in the food. Eight months after our vacation, I opened the CD photo file of our trip but lo and behold, there was no trace of any of our snaps from Korea. Apparently, the files were overwritten accidentally by my dear hubby as the CD was a rewritable one. Save for four printed photos which we bought from our tour guide, these were the only memories left from that holiday.

And, so, during our trip last month to Korea, I vowed to be extra vigilant in securing our photos. Eleven years after and with much improved technology, thankfully, photo files could be shared and uploaded in real time via Google Drive, iCloud, Viber, Instagram and Facebook.

What is it with Korea that fascinates me so?

Maybe it’s because of the healthy and appetizing Korean food that I could not get tired of eating? Or is it the ubiquitous presence of Korean groceries, parlors, etc. all over the Philippines that is oh-so-familiar yet still captivating? I am not a hard core fan of Koreanovelas because of their time-consuming nature but, whenever Korea as a holiday destination is suggested, I would definitely say “yes” to the invitation in a heartbeat. Whether you are young or old, experiencing Korea is certainly fascinating to each member of the family.

Our first day in South Korea was spent in the quaint French-themed cultural village Petite France. Its claim to fame is being one of the shooting locations of the hit romantic Koreanovela, “My Love from Another Star”, which I incidentally watched in just four nights upon my return in the Philippines. (Can you imagine, the last series I watched was “Lovers in Paris”?). French-inspired houses lined up the village making one feel that you are transported to Europe with a miniature Eiffel Tower, galleries, outdoor theater, among others.

A short ferry ride brought us to our next stop --- the 400,000-square meter Nami Island of “Winter Sonata” fame. As spring was just beginning, the picturesque Ginkgo Tree Lane was devoid of its lush leaves. However, this also created a dramatic mood during our leisurely stroll. After our delightful chicken barbeque lunch, my husband and I rented a tandem bike where we cycled in unison, enjoying the breathtaking gardens and woods of Nami. Truly magical!

The following day, our tour guide, Choi, arranged for our visit at the Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon showcasing three main exhibition halls named the Age of Inventors, Age of Industry Innovation, and Age of Creation. The kids were in awe seeing the old appliances and gadgets of yesteryears and went giddy over future inventions such as Samsung’s Smart Home.

In the afternoon, Everland Resort awakened the child in all of us as we explored the exciting themed areas like Global Fair, American Adventure, Magic Land, European Adventure and Zoo Topia. After trying the more kid-friendly rides for the sake of our little ones, I braved the T Express, a thrilling roller coaster with the steepest falling degree in the world, along with the other adventure seekers in the group.

A photo session galore awaited us all on our third day at the three-dimensional Trick Eye and Ice Museum in Hongdae. With the aid of optical illusions, visitors can act as the characters in the 3-D murals. Fancy being a part of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Starry Night’; defy gravity in outer space; or swim with the sharks? Then, drop by the Trick Eye Museum and get ready to do some wacky acting.

All that posing and smiling made our group hungry so we decided to have a quick coffee and snack break at the adorable Hello Kitty Café, within walking distance from the Trick Eye Museum. Every HK fan will surely be mesmerized with this two-storey café which highlights all things Kitty from the decors, food and drinks.

The remaining part of the day was spent learning about the traditional way of life of the ordinary people and aristocracy at the National Folk Museum; followed by a stroll around the compound of the historic Gyeongbok Palace. The palace was erected during the reign of King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty which lasted from 1392 to 1910.

Towards sunset, we went up to the 240-meter Seoul Tower considered as “Asia’s most beautiful tower”, where one can see a magnificent overview of the city from the observatory. Before leaving this famous landmark, we took photos at the Love Lock. This is where thousands of padlocks inscribed with the couples’ names were left by sweethearts at the fence symbolizing their promise of endless love.

On the final day of our tour, we learned how to make the staple Korean food which we have been eating since Day 1 --- the vitamin-enriched kimchi at the Kimchi School. According to our tour guide Choi, kimchi’s shelf life is 6 months and that the average Korean would have two refrigerators in their household; one to keep everyday essentials and another to store kimchi. Yes, Koreans love kimchi that much!

Hanbok wearing came next where my cousins and I had a blast donning the Korean traditional dresses and acting as the royal family of dynasties past. We blended perfectly well donning the costumes and could pass as true-blue Koreans with our chinky eyes!

Our guide, knowing the Filipinos’ penchant for shopping, brought us to Paju Premium Outlet for some good deals.

Since spring was in our midst, we dropped by Yeouido where the Cherry Blossom Tunnel is located. We caught a glimpse of the enchanting cherry blossoms as they started to bloom and indulged in some tasty street food as well.

Later in the night, we watched the Cookin’ Nanta, the longest running show in Korean history. It is a hilarious story about three cooks challenged to prepare a wedding banquet in only a short time. The task gets complicated when their bossy manager hires his incompetent nephew to join the kitchen crew. The must-see show effectively utilizes acrobatics, magic tricks, comedy, pantomime as well as audience participation. Through improvised instruments such as kitchen knives, cutting boards and even water canisters, the performers were able to expertly showcase the traditional Korean samul nori music.

After our tour with Choi ended, my cousins and I extended for a few more days to discover Seoul’s sights and culinary offerings on our own and at a more relaxed pace. We stayed at Sejong Hotel, conveniently situated near the Myeongdong subway station. Just a few steps away from the hotel were a plethora of shops, restaurants, cafes and even night market to satisfy our incessant food cravings.

In the next days, we visited the Coex Aquarium in Gangnam where 40,000 underwater creatures from over 650 species were on display; Itaewon district for some retail shopping with dinner/drinks; the hip Ssamzie-gil Complex in Insadong (Those into arts and crafts would totally love it there!); Lotte Department Store for some pasalubong shopping; Dongdaemun Design Plaza to view its various modern art exhibits; Namsangol Hanok Village to observe traditional Korean houses; and the trendy Garosugil, the so-called “Rodeo Drive” of Seoul, to witness how the fashionable set lives.

The very unique Cat Café in Myeongdong captured the hearts of our kids who absolutely adore animals. For just a minimal fee (inclusive of drinks), one can have snacks and beverages while interacting with the forty-five resident feline cuties of the café.  It was definitely a fitting and ‘purrfect’ way to cap our weeklong stay in Seoul.

Gamsahamnida, Korea, for our family’s priceless memories – and recaptured pictures!

E-mail the author at Visit

Saturday, April 25, 2015

“A ‘Yummy’ family tradition”
Sun.Star Davao, April 25, 2015

For over 25 years, Yummy has never failed to meet the discriminating taste buds of Dabawenyos and their families.

Who can ever resist their Yummy Fried Chicken, considered to be the restaurant’s flagship product which is deep-fried chicken served with homemade gravy and rice; their bestselling Lasagna Bolognese with Creamy Bechamel Sauce; Breaded Pork Chop; and Chicken Barbeque with Java Rice? During our high school days, these were our must-order dishes whenever we would hang out at the original Yummy along C.M. Recto Street.

Yummy is the brainchild of Alor Lim-Despabiladeras and her siblings who all shared a passion for preparing good food and indulging people with their mouthwatering creations. Back in the 1980s, Mama Alor would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to cook. This passion eventually became the catalyst for the opening of Yummy.

Today, Yummy stands proudly along F. Torres St. It recently unveiled its new look beautifully created by no less than Ms. Annie Paz-Lim, Davao’s premier party organizer who loves to dabble in interior design on the side for choice clients and dear friends.

Annie describes the newly-renovated Yummy as “fun, modern, exciting, chic and eclectic”. Well-loved pieces from the Despabiladeras such as their old dining and garden furniture sets were tastefully integrated with other existing pieces from the restaurant. Whimsical touches include inspiring quotations about family, life and work as well as dainty tea sets.

The restaurant has a homey and inviting feel; as if you are a kid again at Mama’s table, eating meals prepared with love. Whatever mood you’re in and whoever you may be with that day, you will surely find your own little corner – a nook to share an anniversary meal with your significant other, a couch where you can spend some quality time with your little ones, a lounging area where you can sip a cup of coffee with a friend or a good book, or a long table to hold business meetings in.

Good food

Yummy (version 2.0) is now being run by Mama Alor’s children, James Despabiladeras and Diana Despabiladeras-Chua Chui Hian, who are equally passionate to carry on the family tradition of serving nothing but the best from their kitchen.

“The word yummy connotes good food. It’s the first word or expression that would come to mind after having good food, or when you are craving good food. It is the experience that we strive to give our guests every single day and it is how we want our food to be remembered”, explains Diana.

“Our grandparents, Mama Alor’s parents, ran a bakeshop (Honey Bake House) along Acacia St. in the early ‘70s until the mid ‘90s. Thus, we (James and Diana) were exposed to the food business at a very young age. The bakery served as both playground and training ground for managing a business related to food. Yummy is more than just a place to work and earn for us. It is our life, as it has been part of our lives from when we were children”, Diana continues.

Diana studied Pastry Arts in 2005 at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management (ISCAHM) in Manila. At that time, she was a Project Manager in Accenture, but the passion for food that she undoubtedly inherited from Mama Alor prompted her to take classes on weekends. In addition, she took private lessons on pastry art with a pastry chef in Singapore.

The mom of one details that the “food in Yummy (and Alor’s) may best be described as comfort food; food that will bring back good memories, and generate new ones. These are dishes that many Dabawenyos grew up with and will make them remember tastes from home. It is food that you turn to in order to lift your spirits when you’re feeling blue, or celebrate an important milestone in your life”.

Never compromising quality

Families who dine at Yummy – or take their food home – usually love their signature Fried Chicken, Pork Knuckles, Mama’s Pork Ribs, Oven Crisp Pork Belly and 40 Cloves Chicken. Over the years, the Despabiladeras kept their core value intact while evolving to accommodate the changes that have occurred in the food industry in Davao City.

“The one thing that we stood by since we opened our doors in 1988 is ensuring that we serve only YUMMY food. Quality is something that we never compromise. This is the core value that we live by and instill in our employees. That is one thing that will never change”, assures Diana.

“To this day, Mama Alor and I, always work together. A day at work will mean standing in our home kitchen all day, perfecting old recipes and developing new ones. We would set aside time for research and development, which for us means traveling together to try new things and bring home new inspirations and, of course, share quality mother-daughter time and make new memories”, enthuses Diana.

Mama Alor is now 64 years old, but her drive to still learn truly amazes her kids. James and Diana may now be running the business, but their Mama remains to be their guide.

"Never ever compromising the quality of our product and using only the best available ingredients are the two most important thing that we learned from Mama, and is the cornerstone of what Yummy and Alor’s is today”, assures Diana.

Innovation and growth
At the same time, Yummy continues to create, innovate and grow. Their original 1988 menu has grown over the years, and the dining experience that they provided their patrons has also evolved.

They started out as a fast food chicken and burger joint, at a time when popular fast food chains were something that could only be enjoyed through a TV commercial. They also operated a catering service, serving mainly entrees and providing service.

Presently, Yummy is a full-service restaurant where one can have the old Yummy favorites from the good old college days, entrees that in the past could only be enjoyed at events catered by Yummy, and new dishes that may be developed down the line.

“Through Alor’s catering service, we will continue to be part of special events, wherever these events may be. Our services, however, go beyond just entrees; we also have a pastry line, and can provide dessert and cocktail catering services”, Diana says.

“There is another thing that never changed in Yummy, aside from never compromising the quality of the food we serve. It is the fact that Yummy has always, and continues to be, a family affair. I may have received formal training in ISCAHM and Singapore, but the best training will always be working with Mama Alor in our home kitchen as a little girl in grade school”, Diana stresses.

The Despabiladeras are extremely grateful that Dabawenyos have embraced Yummy for generations. “Thank you for the past 25 years. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your life journeys, for allowing us to share what we love and are most passionate about – good food, Yummy food – as you gather for a family lunch or celebrate an important milestone. It is what inspired us through the years, and what continues to inspire us to cook and to serve you. We hope that you will allow us to continue to play a part as you make new memories for the next 25 years – and beyond”, Diana ends with a warm smile.

Yummy is located along F. Torres St., Davao City (infront of Assumption Church) with telephone numbers 2225577 and 2225599; and mobile number 0917-623-3446. E-mail them at

E-mail the author at Visit