Author: Nick Yap Cugtas

Van Gogh is Bipolar

Van Gogh is Bipolar

Looking for a place to just relax, enjoy your company, and be as laid back as you can possibly get, then Van Gogh Is Bipolar is definitely the resto for you.  It’s as if you’re at home, a very interestingly decorated home that is.  And did I mention such an interesting mix of fresh natural ingredients included in each and every delicious meal?  And the rice! I’ll elaborate a bit more later.

During my March vacation in The Philippines this year, this was one of our very first restaurants that Roch and I tried out.  It was a really special treat as we were able to go on a double date with Roch’s best friend Hai and Hai’s boyfriend Sean.

Van Gogh Is Bipolar, what a name for a dining place, but you kind of get why once you step in and dive into the experience. The atmosphere in this place is just amazing, and every little detail seems to have been miticulously organized.  There’s structure in all of the strange chaos you see here.. I just love it.   And this place will always be a place that I remember.  There’s really a lot of good vibes coming from this place..


van gogh teapots

Considering they have a whole table dedicated to just tea, I think it gives us an idea as to how good tea can really be for all of us.  The health benefits of tea, not to mention how it can alter your mood is just amazing.  Here are the instructions on How To Make Your Own Tea:
I love that even in the directions they tell you where everything is. “note: teacups and teaspoons are in drawer 1 / saucers are in drawer 2″… so here are the steps.
  1. Choose your own teapot.
  2. Place 3 teaspoonsfull of your choice mood tea flavour. (see mood tea selection)
  3. Add 1/4 teaspoon of mint.
  4. Add hot water.
  5. Get some honey and place it on the honey glass.
  6. You may refill your teapot with hot water twice.
And like I said, the different types of ingredients can really affect your mood, here are the different types of tea and how it helps with mood.
Types of tea: Van Gogh organic MOOD tea selection
  • Extra Upper: Spanish Plum
  • Upper: Guava
  • Happy CHILL: Mango
  • Light CHILL: Banana
  • Soothing: Avocado
  • Extra Calmer: Guyabano
Caveat: For Super Bad Mood or insomniacs try: Sir Isaac Lithium Concoction (Fresh tea)


van gogh order station

Oh, the magic window of Van Gogh Is Bipolar is your one stop for everything.  Again, the theme of this place is really just amazing.  NO SERVERS!  But since every accommodation is already given, it honestly never even crossed my mind with regards to service.  In many aspects, the service here is great!  It’s honestly as if you’re at home, and all the utensils, the glasses, the teapots, cups, they are all available just to the left of the window.


van gogh drinks

This is one amazing drink.  At Van Gogh, this is called the Courtney Love’s POTION of the day.  The description they have on the menu is:

A very healthy non-alcoholic COLD concoction.  Made from the most fresh and organic fruit extracts with real fruit bits and pulp.  No sugar added.  Only wild Palawan honey is used.

I can’t stress enough, how attention to detail is taken to heart, even when it comes to these drinks.  Fresh cucumbers, some mint, mangoes, and a strawberry tops this delicious drink.


van gogh order 1

This is what Hai got for her order.  Interestingly enough, many of the toppings are similar, and in my opinion, I just couldn’t get enough of that black rice.   It says on the menu that “tuna is a good source of omega 3-fat-oil that unbelievably brings a gloomy – depressed mood to a smile.” And what about that rice?  Well, on the menu again, if we take a look here’s what they have to say about that:  “Van Gogh Rice is loaded with vitamins B1 and B3, and folic acid.  IT CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY.”

I know that Hai enjoyed her meal, and that tuna there on the side looks to be so moist and delicious.  Definitely not your everyday variety canned tuna, not even close.  That’s probably the most delicious tuna that has ever come across my table.  Almost worthy of a magazine cover if you ask me.


van gogh order 2

And here is my baby’s order.  Vangogh Rice topped with Norwegian Salmon Bits.  Just as in the other dishes, the ingredients are basicaly the same, you get some corn, banana chips, and some other garnishes too.  It’s really that rice and the choice meat that differ.  The portions really were so huge, I think we all agreed that with the prices the way they were, this is what we call “sulit”, worth our money.


van gogh order 3

And here’s my order.  President Clinton’s Meal with grilled Premium Australian Lamb. The lamb was very moist and succulent, probably one of the best cooked lamb I’ve tasted.  Marinaded to perfection, and grilled to perfection, garnished with some grapes, baby potatoes, and all on a bed of wonderfully aromatic black rice.  The bits of nuts, mangoes, and banana chips really made this dish interesting, and yet it all worked.  It’s one of those things that if you overload a dish with too much ingredients, you better know what you’re doing.  And I have to commend the chef and the owner of Van Gogh for creating such a wonderfully conceptualized menu.

The names may be silly, but there’s something to be said about just how much care they take to give you naturally fed meat, no preservatives or chemicals added, and they have also taken the time to know what certain ingredients will do to alter your mood.  On top of that, all of this information is on the menu itself.  Sort of like getting an education on nutrition at the same time trying to figure out what your order will be.


van gogh lamb

This is actually VanGogh rice topped with Aussie Lamb Bits. This was a bit different in terms of toppings.  It had the usual delicious Vangogh rice, and the meat was this very succulent and moist lamb cut into bits.  Had some banana chips, nuts, strawberry as a garnish, and some cucumbers, and oh look at that… some flower petals.  It’s amazing just how many ingredients are going into this dish, and yet when I think about the concept, the dish really just works.  A lot of flower petals are edible, I’m just not sure what kind of flower petals they used with this.


van gogh picture 4

I really love going out with Roch, if there’s one person that I don’t mind taking so many pictures with, it’s this lady.  Here we take a picture at one of the corners in the Van Gogh Is Bipolar House. Again, notice the attention to detail, the wine bottles in the backround, the candles, the interesting books on the bookshelves, and even the nice furniture.  I’m telling you, this place is great for dates, and I’m just thankful for sharing this moment with Roch.


van gogh picture 3

And look at the hat rack on the left of the picture above, another very unique thing about Van Gogh is Bipolar, if you haven’t noticed yet, is that you get to wear some of the silliest hats you will ever see in your life.  And some, well, pretty cute.  Just look at the two ladies above.   Two very blessed men, Sean and myself, for having such great women in our lives.  It doesn’t hurt that they look so cute in these hats, and of course it matches their outfits, which I think is what’s truly important if you ask them. Haha.

Now, one of the rules at Van Gogh is that you must take your shoes off at the door.  However, this was way back in March when I came to The Philippines for a vacation, and just about 3 weeks before my arrival, Roch had fractured her ankle, so she always had to wear boots in order to minimize any movements on her ankle.  So, you see, Roch is actually the only person that has ever gotten to wear shoes inside the Van Gogh house.  She’s famous!

An Angel and.. The Luckiest Man on Earth

van gogh picture 1

This is one of my most favorite pictures of Roch and I. Silly hats and all, but what you don’t see is just how happy I am. Aside from probably one of the best places to go out on one of your first few dates, Van Gogh let us be a bit silly, gave us space to talk and get to know each other a bit more. It’s at this moment, that once again, I fall deeply madly in love with Roch. How could I not. Just writing this makes me just want to give her a huge hug. Damn, so cheesy!

My Stiff GQ Pose

van gogh picture 2

Every nook and cranny at the Van Gogh house is really unique.  Not only is this particular corner ladened with business cards, notes, and all, but it just shows another aspect of what makes this place unique and special — the freedom.  You really feel at home, as I assume the owner of the place intended it to be.  I’m actually leaning on the entrance door.

Red Curse-Healing Wall

van gogh is bipolar red wall

First off, it was my first time to meet any of Roch’s friends, let alone one of her best friends, Hai. Also her boyfriend, Sean. Both were really great, I couldn’t have asked for a more nicer couple to introduce me into Roch’s world than them.

It was just my second day with Roch during my March vacation, suffice it to say, I was a bit nervous as to how they would like me. But anyway, aside from great joy because I had been spending the whole day with Roch that day, and my other emotion of some nervousness, the place really made me feel at ease, calm, and actually pretty happy.

It’s funny, but when you read the House Rules, it actually says to “celebrate your sh*t life by writing on the curse-healing wall”. But all we really did is write our names on the wall.  I may have broken a house rule, but one that isn’t a written rule, because as the ladies went out to look around, I wrote twice on the wall: once with my name, and another addressed to Roch.  To this day, Roch does not know what I wrote on that wall.  If you can find it, maybe you can tell her…


van gogh is bipolar entrance

This is the entrance into Van Gogh Is Bipolar.  As you can see, it really is just a house that was turned into a calm and inviting resto.  Van Gogh will leave you with a great memorable experience.  It’s so different from the normal places to go out and is definitely not your usual date night kind of place.  But this is one place that I would love to go to every now and again to experience that great calmness.   Van Gogh, because of its great portions of food, is a place, even though it seems so exclusive, has probably the best bang for your buck that Roch and I have gone to in the Metro Manila area.

I honestly could not give more praise to the owner and the cooks of this place.  Not only are the ingredients fresh, natural, no chemicals or preservatives, but they really put so much effort in all the conceptual details in each of their dishes.  I honestly don’t know what the owner did before opening this place, but he must have studied food nutrition or have been helped by someone who knew the value of wonderful natural ingredients and how they truly alter your mood.  We are, after all, what we eat.

So, experience a Bipolar treat, and come on out to Van Gogh, tell me what you think, and if you don’t agree with just how good the place is, and you get totally pissed off, don’t worry, have some calming tea from Van Gogh, and even your anger will subside!

I’m sure I’ve left out so many details in this post, and trust me, there’s a lot more to discover at Van Gogh.  You can check out the rest of the Van Gogh Pictures here OR go try it out for yourself!


Van Gogh is Bipolar

154 H Maginhawa St. Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, Philippines

My Solitaire Experience

The game of solitaire is no doubt one of those games that gets shot down just because of all the games available out there especially to gamers.  Even when it comes to card games it is often underrated just because we dont have long lines at the casinos for people wanting to play this game.

But for an old school person such as myself, I relish its simplicity, and sometimes it acts as a way to clear my mind.

It’s definitely a game of patience, but mostly a game to just calm you down a bit.   Heck, Solitaire is also called Patience in different parts of the United States, just not here in Michigan where I am.

But honestly, especially because we definitely live in more hectic, stressed, and busy times, sometimes a game of solitaire is just what we need to get us back to a more calm state of mind.   And I still contend it’s defintely one of the more nice games out there. It’s a classic!

I’ve recently come back to this game only because I honestly don’t play that much anymore, but I found myself just wanting to relax the other day, and lo and behold I came back to solitaire.  If you don’t know what solitaire is and how to play, first off I would have to ask where you’ve been, second thing is that I would implore you to go and play right away.

There are many different variations to solitaire which makes it suitable to many people.  In fact, you don’t really need a deck of cards because most laptops and computers already come loaded with games such as solitaire.  The variation that is the most classic of them all is actually a solitaire game called Klondike, but which most people refer to as just solitaire.

solitaire game

In the image above, this is what we call the initial layout.  The setup is quite easy.  From a deck of 52 cards, you take the first card and lay it face up, then dealing from left to right, you place the next six cards face down.  Then you start with the second column, with that card face up and the remaining 5 columns with the face cards down (again dealing from left to right).  You continue in this manner until you get the setup shown above.

What you see in the upper right corner are your foundations which become the receptacle for the four suits of cards (hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs).  Each foundation must start with the Ace then move higher up to the King.  When you have filled up these foundations according to the suits, then you have won the game.

During game play, what you see in the upper left corner is where the rest of the cards are placed (those which have not been used yet for the initial layout).  You deal in groups of three, such as what you see in the image above.  This is the traditional way of dealing and playing Solitaire, and by far, in my opinion is the hardest.  Dealing by groups of three is hard, because you don’t get to use all the cards for game play right away, and can only use the top card when it is dealt, thus the two cards below the top card cannot be used, unless the top card is used first.  Usually, you are able to deal indefinitely, in groups of three, until you have either won or there are no more moves to make and in which case you have lost.

But as I said, even the classic solitaire has variations, and usually these variations deal with how you deal the cards in the upper left corner to use during game play.  These variations include dealing the cards one by one, having unlimited passes through the deck, limiting the passes to just one, etc.


The actual game play itself is pretty straightforward.   The point is to basically build piles that are in sequential order but in order of alternating colors.  You can move parts of a pile or entire piles provided that it fits the sequential order and are still of alternating colors.  You can move piles into empty spaces provided that it contains a King as the base of the pile.

You continue in the manner of dealing in groups of three, filling up the foundations starting with the Ace, positioning your piles to sequential orders of cards that are alternating in color.

solitaire 2

In the picture above, this is usually the point where the game is certain, and you basically know that you have already won.  This is by far the most fun turning point in the game since you start filling up your foundations in terms of suits.  You need not think of your moves any longer since at this point it’s just a matter of route and you’ve won already.


Hard to explain, but definitely easy to play.  Sometimes, all these games out there, the more new and very realistic games out there, the role playing games, and others, they really can be too stimulating when sometimes all you need is something to relax you.  The great thing about Solitaire is that you can easily pick it up anytime and most games don’t take too long, which is another reason why it’s a flexible way to get your game fix.

Honestly, there really are a number of positives to playing a game of solitaire, or maybe I’m just too old school for my own good, whatever it is, I’m hoping I’ve converted a few of the readers out there, or maybe I’ve reminded some of you just how fun it can be to play.

Nick is Rochelle’s fiance. A blogger, Filipino, engineer, financial adviser, former business owner, and a lover of life. He loves to read, meditate, listen to classical music, and talk current events. Boring to most, interesting to a few.

Salt Movie Review

I went to see the movie Salt with my fiance when I went to visit her just a few weeks ago in August.  She usually does the movie reviews, but this time around, let me do the review for the readers here at HeaRty’s Haven, since Roch slept the entire movie! hahaha

If I could sum up the movie in just one sentence, then it’s definitely this: Nonstop action, twist and turns, espionage, and a well rounded cast of characters.  But I guess, even the cover of the movie does an even better job in summing it all up: “Who is Salt?”.  Because all throughout the movie, that’s exactly what I had to keep on thinking to myself about, just who she was, whose side was she on.  Those who love Bourne movies, will certainly like this movie.  The main character is played by Angelina Jolie, and she does a terrific job in this role.  She maintains the action movie character just like in the Tomb Raider days, but this one is more personal, and really shows off her versatility even in the more dramatic scenes.

I don’t do well with summary of movies, but let me try my hand at it.  The movie is about Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who becomes accused of being a Russian Spy.  Apparently, as the movie progresses, it is found out that she was raised as a child in an elite group of very young children, home grown in the Soviet days, to be a Russian spy.  Each of these children raised to be spies would be selected to infiltrate key areas of government, and in Salt’s case, her chosen area was to be at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

But these Russian spies, because of the nature of their work, usually never ever married.  Which is why, when Salt falls in love, and eventually marries to an Arachnologist, her unit worries that she has turned on them.

So basically, when her cover is blown, that she is a Russian spy, both sides end up chasing after her.  This is why, in the movie, I honestly could not tell at some points whose side she was on.  But, eventually, there is a point where you finally understand where she stands.  I don’t want to give too much of the movie away, but let’s put it this way.  I think there are two turning points in this movie, one is where she is outed as a Russian spy, and the other is when she is betrayed and something happens to her husband.

After that betrayal, and that incident with her husband, it all starts making sense a bit, but that doesn’t mean that even until the very end, you just don’t know where this movie will lead you.  And that’s exactly why I loved the movie.  Because even though I finally figured out at some point whose side she was on, I still couldn’t figure out where it would all lead.  There’s a lot of surprises along the way, until the very end.  The action and a lot of the shootings are very well orchestrated, and you really feel just how excellent a training Salt had as a Russian spy as well as a CIA agent.

Overall, I really loved this movie.  While my baby slept, she really missed one heck of an action-packed movie.  But I’m glad that I could share to you some of the reasons why this movie is defnitely a must-see.  I’m a fan of the Bourne movies, and this is sort of like those movies, the only difference is that it’s a woman this time that’s actually doing a lot of the shooting, killing, and some great action moves.

Rating for Salt: 4 of 5 stars.

The Great Tourist Destinations of The Philippines

This is my maiden post here at HeaRty’s Haven. After asking Roch if I could write, she happily obliged. It’s just amazing the vast amount of knowledge this girl has, and the amount of fun one can have. Food expert, travel expert, and an all around fun expert.

The Philippines is a great tourist destination, and with Roch, I got to experience just how fun the Philippines can be especially when you’re with the one you love. I try to come to the Philippines twice a year, because I truly just love our nation and our people. But, rarely will I ever venture out. Usually a coffee place is the extent of my vacation, but this time around, it was different, and it was simply an amazing experience.

The readers here at HeaRty’s Haven, know just how wonderful this girl is, but trust me, she’s so much more. And with her as your travel companion, it’s literally being in heaven all the time. It’s corny, but it’s true. The Philippines is definitely a perfect place for couples to vacation in, and tourists are always in for a treat with the vast amounts of activities and places that you can go to.

In Cebu, where I hail from, there’s Plantation Bay, the gorgeous old style churches of Santo Nino, and even their modern malls and the great varieties of restaurants to choose from, it’s old world meets a modern lifestyle that, I believe, the Philippines would do well in advertising towards these themes.

Whenever I talk to colleagues, friends, or new acquaintances here in The U.S., their mindset is always often centered on the only news that ever comes out of the Philippines. Whether it is natural disasters, floods, earthquakes, or tales of political turmoil, we really need to set the record straight at just how fun, exciting, and memorable the experiences here can get. We’re a nation that is blessed with such beautiful and majestic islands, and even in the heart of Manila, the hustle and bustle of the day scene, is balanced out with the terrific night life of the metropolis.

And when we speak of places like Tagaytay, where Roch and I spent a few days at Sonya’s Garden, dined out at Antonio’s, and had the most wonderful Bulalo at Leslie’s, I just can’t believe the great experiences that one can have in our very own backyard.

Even the malls and the cinemas are truly something to admire, especially when in places like the United States, one rarely ever sees such a great amount of malls and shopping centers. Having that shopping experience in the Philippines is as good as any other places in Asia, I really have to emphasize this.

I could go on and on with this, but the main point of my maiden post is simple, discover the Philippines, enjoy it with someone you love, the breathtaking destinations are endless, and one need only to randomly point to a map to realize, that at each corner of our islands, there is always something new to discover.