Blog | Z Hostel - Part 3
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The Aperitivo: A Taste of Italy in Makati

Been craving for those delicious cold cuts and cheese while sipping red wine? Put in some good music, wonderful company, and a cozy setting and it’s the ultimate Italian dream. This is what exactly came down at The Aperitivo last January 18 at The Apartment in Poblacion, Makati.

Manila locals and foreign visitors alike got a taste of Italy as The Aperitivo opened to the public their second installment of this traditional Italian social gathering over good food and drinks. The brainchild of Fabio Urbisaglia and Donatello Montrone, both pure Italians who have found a home here in the Philippines, The Aperitivo is their way of slowly but tastefully sharing the Italian culture to the country.

They started with and are still currently importing wine from small, quality wineries in Italy through the Vinoom Selection. They want to uphold the fine selection as the wines are only available in select hotels, restaurants, and catering services and cannot be found in supermarkets. As they gain a footing in Manila and have created a network of friends, they’re now starting to introduce the concept of Aperitivo. And by the looks of how everything went that night, it’s only the beginning.

Nothing could have been more perfect than The Apartment as the venue of the gathering — this new (open secret) bar in Poblacion is cozy and intimate.

Visitors enjoyed a whole selection of fine wine including Elfo Rosso Negroamaro, Elfo Bianco Chardonnay, Elfo Rosato, Laicale Chardonnay, Terragnolo Negroamaro. The good guys also served Spritz, made with Aperol and prosecco with a hint of Schweppes.

Accompanying this was a table full of authentic Italian antipasti prepared by Donatello himself: bruschetta and canape, porchetta, cold cuts and cheese. They also whipped up different kinds of pasta: pasta crudaiola (fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella), pasta with mushrooms and truffle, and one with cream of bell pepper and pancetta. Order a glass of wine and the food is free — and with how delicious everything was, it was indeed a great deal.

The night was low-key yet pleasing and enjoyable — a night when we all finally satisfied our craving for good Italian wine and food. Fabio and Donatello are planning to hold The Aperitivo every month and eventually open up an apertivo and wine bar. Don’t keep us waiting. Alla prossima!

Top Adventures in the Philippines You Should Not Miss

The Philippines is best known for its glorious beaches. In fact, the 2 world’s best (according to a travel magazine) can be found here. But while this country is every sun worshipper’s dream, the Philippines does not run out of other activities for the thrill-seeking traveler. Hooray for the adrenaline junkie in you, here are the top adventures in the Philippines that you should not miss:

4×4 Ride and Trek to Mt. Pinatubo Volcano

A gorgeous, emerald-colored lake awaits you at the crater of Mt. Pinatubo volcano. But getting there is an adventure in itself. What was once a dense forest is now a vast terrain of mud, sand, and lahar as a result of a major volcanic eruption some decades ago. The sight is other-worldly and riding a 4×4 across takes the experience to higher level. Get ready for dust and sad blowing off your face but it is definitely worth it. Another 2 hours of trek along a rocky trail and some vegetation and you finally get to the crater.

Skydiving in Cebu

Photo credit: SkyDiveCebu

For the adventure-seeker, no bucketlist is complete without skydiving. And you don’t have to go as far as Dubai. Skydiving is finally now in the Philippines in the island of Bantayan in Cebu. It may sound steep price-wise but the experience is definitely priceless. You can either go for a tandem jump or be licensed skydiver! And what tops it all? You get a bird’s eye view of this slice of paradise—complete with cerulean waters and a pure white sand shoreline. You can definitely relax on the beach and sip some cocktails after an exhilarating ride!

The Plunge in Bohol

Photo credit: Danao Adventure Park

Said to be the highest in the world, this canyon swing adventure attraction in Bohol is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Located in E.A.T. (Extreme Adventure Tour) Danao—a sustainable eco-adventure park where you can do rappelling, kayaking, caving, among others—the “Plunge” is 200 meters high and 300 meters wide. So imagine yourself freefalling into a gorge that deep and swinging like a pendulum after. If it’s any consolation, you have the choice to do it in a seated position or strapped on your feet hanging upside down. Are you in for the ride?

White Water Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

Photo credit: Kagay Outdoors

Down south of the Philippines is a treasure chest of amazing landscapes and exciting adventures. One of them is the famous white water rafting activity in the powerful rivers of Cagayan de Oro. Stretching approximately 22 kilometers, the river has almost up to 20 rapids and travelers can choose from different courses starting from beginners to advance and extreme. The river guides have been doing their jobs for decades so you’re sure they will keep you safe and definitely having fun all throughout your river rapids ride!

Rollercoaster Zipline in Pampanga and Laguna

Photo credit: Alviera Sandbox

You may wonder WTH is a rollercoaster zip line? Well, it’s basically a zipline with a fun level twice or thrice over! Instead of zipping your way through a straight line, this one takes you on a rollercoaster-like ride—up and down, curving from left and right. The whole ride takes a minute. The first of its kind in the Philippines and in Asia, it is located in Sandbox outdoor adventure park in Pampanga. But a bigger and longer one has been installed in Camp N, Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Emerging Travel Destinations in the Philippines this 2018

With a consistent presence in the world’s best islands lists and countless travel vlogger videos out on social media featuring the Philippines, it is undoubtedly becoming a tourist hotspot for both foreigners and locals alike. And while you are about to book that ticket to Palawan or that hotel in Boracay, you may want to take a look at these underrated but equally beautiful and emerging destinations in the Philippines you can explore (responsibly, please!) this 2018.


Photo credit: Instagram user @iammeherself

Considered by many to be the heart of the Philippines (because of its geographical placement among the country’s islands), Marinduque is an island gem that is still almost untouched. It’s worth the visit—gorgeous sandbars and beautiful beaches like Maniwaya Island, century-old churches, and a laid-back, sleepy vibe you would want to have as a break from bustling city life. Marinduque is mostly popular during Holy Week for Moriones Festival, where locals in giant masks and costumes replicating Roman soldiers fill the streets.


Photo credit: Instagram user @graysonofthebeach

Okay, you’ve probably booked that flight to Boracay already. But if you have the luxury of time, a town just a few hours away is worth a visit. Antique holds a lot of delightful attractions under its name. The rolling hills of Malalison quite resemble that of Batanes with a bonus of beautiful sandbars. Want to heat things up some more? Visit the town of Tibiao and be literally soaked in hot water inside a big kettle called kawa. Looks novel but it is supposed to be a relaxing and therapeutic activity, the caretakers would sprinkle freshly picked flowers, herbs, and leaves that have healing properties.

Kalanggaman Island, Leyte

Photo credit: Instagram user @irinamisa

It used to be Leyte’s best-kept secret but Kalanggaman Island is starting to gain more attention in the Philippine tourism scene. It’s not difficult to understand why: a sandbar with milky white sand, mirror-flat and cerulean waters, and a remote paradise feel. It is a great place to disconnect— there is barely any signal in the island and not much establishments. Another great thing about it is that it is only less than 2 hours away from Malapascua, a gorgeous island off the northern tip of Cebu.


Photo credit: Instagram user @nathan_ho25

If mountains and dramatic landscapes are your thing, this province down south should be on your list. Bukidnon literally means “of the mountains” and vast, spectacular ranges are what will greet you once there. Bukidnon is also home of the largest pineapple plantations in the country and driving across these hectares of pineapple-paradise is already a sight to behold. Getting more popular nowadays is the Panimahawa Ridge because of its rolling hills, lush canyons, and breathtaking gorges. Celebrate music and culture with Bukidnon’s Kaamulan Festival, hailed as the “most authentic ethnic festival” in the Philippines.


Photo credit: @adrianocarlo

It is mostly known as a university town, being home to the one of the best schools in the country, Silliman University. This youthfulness of Dumaguete cannot be unseen: the vibrant (but not rowdy) nightlife, the booming art and culture scene, and the unending gastronomic adventures here are worth the visit. Sink your teeth into the sweet and irresistable Silvanas. Dumaguete is also the jump-off point to many underwater paradise especially Apo Island, a marine sanctuary where you can responsibly swim with huge sea turtles and dive to see its breathtaking marine life.


Where To Get the Best Tattoos in Manila

They say the best moments, especially during traveling, are all in one’s memory. But we also know the best of times can be worn on our skin — forever! More and more people are embracing the art of tattoo and as the wanderlust of this generation is at an all-time high, tats that remind one of a place (or a person met on the road) are becoming a thing. Wondering where you can get inked when and while in Manila? We’re rounding up the best tattoo shops in the metro:

Vice Coffee and Ink

This is where the aroma of coffee and the smell of ink meet. Welcome to Vice Coffee and Ink, a household name in the tattoo industry as well. It doubles as a coffee shop and lists top local celebrities as loyal patrons. The main artist is Marlon Capuno, celebrated for his technical approach leaving clients in awe for such a straight design and clean work. | 7838 Makati Ave., Makati City

Katribu Tatu

If you’re looking for a more personal session and a personalized ink on your skin, Katribu Tatu is the shop for you. Run by a husband-and-wife tandem Jonathan Cena and Jean Sioson, they specialize in Filipino hand-tapped tattoos and often create designs inspired by Philippine traditional symbols and tribal art. It is said they have even received blessing from Apo Whang-od herself, the famous and legendary traditional tattoo artist up in the mountains of Buscalan (read her story here). While they are known for doing the art by hand, they also do tattoo gun works. | San Guillermo Avenue corner A. Santos, Buting, Pasig City

55 Tinta

A growing community of tattoo enthusiasts patronize this shop, which is regarded to be a brainchild of OPM band Kamikazee’s members. 55 Tinta is becoming the go-to place for tattoos especially in the northern part of Metro Manila. With music fueling the place and great resident tattoo artists at the helm, 55 Tinta is surely one rocking place to get your skin inked while in the metro. | 55 Maginhawa, Diliman, Lungsod Quezon, 1101 Kalakhang Maynila

P&P Tattoo

Probably the most popular tattoo studio as it has local celebrities as their regular clientele, P&P Tattoo guarantees a smooth and superb job on your skin. Hygiene and sanitation is of utmost priority here and reason why it has become a household name in the Philippine tattoo industry. Skills are topnotch, too — their artists earning awards in and out of the country. Their main branch is located in Polaris Street, Makati (just walking distance from Z Hostel) and they have opened up branches in Eastwood City and in the islands of Boracay and Palawan. | Makati: Unit G8 Bel-Air Soho Condo, 45 Polaris Street, Makati | Eastwood: Unit G1-C, Eastwood Citywalk 2, Eastwood Quezon City, Metro Manila

Gigie Santiago

If clean lines and precise skin work are your thing, Gigie is the person to go to. Even at a relatively lesser time in the field than more celebrated tattoo artists, Gigie has already made a mark precisely because of her elegant and graceful designs which make tattoos

Ugnayan sa Poblacion: Celebrating the Power of Art in Community Development

Step into an art-filled The Ruins in Poblacion, Makati as it showcases an art residency program by international artists running from October to November this year. Marking 70 years of diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines, “Ugnayan sa Poblacion,” is a two-month art residency program by artists from France that aims to bring together communities by harnessing creativity and making art accessible among the less-privileged sectors of society.

The program is organized and presented by a team of artists from Taverne Gutenberg, an art center based in France founded by French-Filipina designer Maia d’Aboville and her husband French artist Henry Lamy. The group that is currently in the country is composed of 4 Lyon-based international artists including Henry Lamy himself, Chufy from Switzerland, Abdoul Seck from Senegal, and Alexandre Beretta from France/Ireland who will all be interacting with many organizations and the public in several art spaces to promote the arts and provide a venue to think, perform, and create together.

The core of the program are the free art workshops to be done with over 200 street children from various NGOs including Virlanie, Project Pearls, Stairway Foundation, ACAY, and more in the hopes of inspiring these children through creativity and the arts.

Z Hostel, now a landmark in Poblacion, Makati and a proud major sponsor of the program, is providing free accommodation for the artists as well as the art space in The Ruins (just a few steps away from the hostel) where the artists can be found creating art pieces and are open to interact, showcase their creative process, and co-create with anyone interested (except for days of exhibits and tours in other parts of the city and country). Get in and feel free to soak in the artists works or even paint murals yourself! Schedules of the other events, programs, and exhibits can be found here:

This entire art residency program will be captured through a documentary by French photographer Lionel Rault and film director Simon Dubreucq in collaboration with Filipino media company Sine de Oro.

Art and Music Events in Manila this November 2017

Looking for fun things to see and do while in Manila this month? From a one-night affair with a music legend, a community block party, to art exhibitions, we’ve rounded up a list of happenings around the metro that will truly bring out the creative in you and give you an absolutely great time in Manila:

Komura: Book Fair and Busking Session

An intimate gathering of independent bookstores, specialty brands, and art shops, this one-day book fair Komura is a collaboration between Warehouse Eight and Kwago Bookstore aims to provide a venue for an exchange of curiosities; for artists to tell their stories in their most raw, natural, and free-flowing forms; and for everyone to participate in this creative process. There will also be reading lounges and music nooks for those who just want to soak in the vibe and transport themselves to other worlds through literature while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Nov 18, 2017 | Warehouse Eight, La Fuerza Compound, Makati

Art Battle

Happening in 50 cities around the world, Art Battle is a live competitive painting where painters have 20 minutes to create their best work using acrylic paint, brushes, palette knives, and non-mechanical implements. While the artists are creating, the audience can go around and closely watch the process and at as the allotted time ends, they can vote for their favorite winning painting.

Nov 18, 2017 | Pineapple Lab, 6071 Palma Street, Makati, 1210 Metro Manila |

Escolta Block Party

This historic street, at the heart of what many call “Old Manila,” is known for its neoclassical buildings and historical architecture built by national artists that have truly stood the test of time. And every quarter, a group of artists, historians, and local business owners have joined together to hold the Escolta Block Party — a whole day and night when the entire street is closed and is filled up with shopping bazaars and art exhibits, the best of local and international music is celebrated, and dancing to diversity, community, and history is all that matters.

Nov. 25, 2017 | Escolta Street, Binondo, Manila |

Irie Sunday 7th Anniversary Feat. Sister Nancy Live

It’s getting real! The legend Sister Nancy herself is set to bring the house down as she makes a special appearance at the Irie Sunday’s 7th Anniversary. The legendary singer from Jamaica is the one behind one of reggae’s most iconic songs “Bam Bam” which has been sampled by many artists over the years. Irie Sunday is the metro’s go-to place every Sunday night as it transforms a warehouse-turned-art-space in Makati, The Collective, into an underground party. Other acts performing during its 7th Anniversary party are Norris King, Lady I, Kulture Krub, and DJ Kunta with a live painting session by Wok22 from Japan.

Nov. 26, 2017 |  B-Side, The Collective, 7274 Malugay St., San Antonio Village, Makati

Bright Lights and Dazzling Sights: Where to go for Christmas lights shows in Manila

It’s that time of the year again! And what’s a Christmas celebration in the Philippines without dazzling sights and bright lights? More and more places and establishments here in the metro are decorating vast areas with thousands of lights and putting up a show for everyone to enjoy! Here are some of the best places in Manila to go to see wonderful Christmas lights show:

Ayala Triangle: Festival of Lights

Year after year, this slice of greenery in the middle of the urban jungle that is Makati is drawing thousands every Christmas season as it glimmers with thousands of lights beautifully hung in the park’s trees dancing to a medley of our all-time favorite Christmas songs. To give the viewing experience an added flair and drama, animation lasers and haze machines are also in place.

The show starts every 6 P.M. and runs every thirty minutes until 10 P.M.

Ayala Triangle Gardens, Ayala Ave., Makati City

Nuvali: Magical Field of Lights

Photo credit: Star Sabroso

What can you expect from the team that puts together the Ayala Triangle Festival of Lights?  A magical experience anywhere! They’re bringing the shimmering spectacle to Nuvali with their Magical Field of Lights, a 3,600-square meter filled with almost 5,000 colorful bulbs dancing to Christmas tunes like “Joy to the World” and the Filipino classic “Kumukuti-Kutitap.” Walking around takes you to a visual and auditory feast including a 50-meter light tunnel and brightly-lit Christmas trees.

The show starts every 6 P.M. and runs every thirty minutes until 10 P.M.

The Fields, Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna

Ayala Vertis North: Northern Lights

Photo credit: Vertis North Facebook Page

Taking the shiny, colorful Christmas experience to the North for the first time, the Ayala group is putting up a lights and sounds show reminiscent of the ones in Ayala Triange and Nuvali. Drawing inspiration from the Filipino Christmas tradition of Simbang Gabi, a huge cathedral installation wrapped in a multitude of lights including lasers and cyber spheres illuminate in this part of the metro. The Christmas medleys come in different themes like Traditional Christmas and even a Techno vibe.

The show starts every 6 P.M. and runs every thirty minutes until 10 P.M.

Ayala Malls Vertis North, Mindanao Ave., Quezon City

From South to North, the Christmas spirit and holiday spectacle is truly shining with these various Christmas lights and musical shows. So get up and bask under a cloud and sea of lights and Christmas medleys and fully enjoy this joyous season.

Kite Kebab Bar: Mediterranean Street Food Made Personal

There’s something new popping up in the corners of Poblacion without us noticing it. And while we love going on a gastronomic adventure, there’s one place that’s not necessarily a newcomer in the neighborhood but worth giving a try or a second look: Kite Kebab Bar + Mediterranean Street Food.

The owner is a familiar face, having had a celebrity status for some years before he went full-on as a restaurateur. Kian Kazemi walks in subtly but with an air of confidence and approachability. When he sat down and started talking about the restaurant, his passion for food and culinary filled the room and got our tastebuds in the mood for some great food. Kian is half-Iranian and while his first venture Persia Grill pays homage to traditional heirloom Middle Eastern cuisine, Kite Kebab Bar is where he gets more creative and true to his style.

While waiting for food, Kian lets us try their own specialty drink Kite Beer, an interesting mix of Kombucha (fermented tea) and beer, which he fondly says will detoxify and intoxicate you at the same time.

We started off with Hummus and Feta Cheese with homemade pita slices. The cheese added a tangy kick to the dish without losing the real Persian flavor of the peas.

The Falafel Salad was a medley of flavors and textures: deep fried crunchy falafel on a bed of lettuce, sweet grapes, olives, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Another winner appetizer was the Vegetable Samosas which had really crispy pastry and a burst of flavors inside. It came perfectly with tomato salsa on the side.

The biggest revelation of the night would have to be the Ox Tongue Skewer. Boiled until perfectly tender and soft, the ox tongue was then grilled to give off that smoky flavor.

Kebab after kebab soon filled our table (and eventually our stomachs) and they are grilled on point. Even the grilled tomato on the side was done so right.

If you want to spice your dining up a bit, order the Keema — should go well with a cup of hot Basmati rice.

What better way to balance out the smorgasbord of flavors and spices than a refreshing Cucumber Yogurt Shake — and Kian’s inspiring literary references. “It’s called Kite because it symbolizes how I am going against the wind — and that’s the only way the Kite will continue flying and won’t fall down. This is my personal, creative take on Persian food.”

Aside from the food, Kian also managed to put together a place that looks somewhere between eclectic and homey all from his imagination and pieces of furniture, trinkets, and installations from his past home and restaurants. Kite Kebab Bar is literally an extension of someone’s home in the neighborhood (the wall is next to the house owner’s garage). But most importantly, it’s an extension of one’s self — inspired by a heritage cuisine with a lovely, personal touch.

Where to Celebrate the New Year 2018: Your Guide Around Poblacion, Makati

Another amazing year is coming to an end. But in this side of the city, it only means a celebration for the year that has been and to welcome the new one in. So where is the party around Poblacion, Makati? Here’s a list of establishments where you can end 2017 and start 2018 on a high note:

Z Hostel

Undoubtedly one of the best spots to be during New Year’s eve is in the Z Hostel Roofdeck. Treat yourself with an amazing view of the Manila skyline which will lit up with fireworks when clock strikes 12. And it’s a back to back celebration for Z, too — it’s their annual NYE White Party and 3rd Year Anniversary! Music by DJs Steve Miguel and Cao Ocampo ‘til sunrise!

Here are the schedules of other establishments around Poblacion:

Pura Vida

Dec 31 – Open

Jan 1 – Closed



Dec 31 – Open

Jan 1 – Closed



Dec 31 – Open

Jan 1 – Closed


Time Club

Dec 31 – Open

Jan 1 – Closed



Dec 31 / Jan 1 – Closed


Dulo MNL

Dec 31 / Jan 1 – Closed

Yalla Yalla: Quick and good Lebanese comfort food

They say never go out drinking with an empty stomach. But in the hustle and bustle that is Manila, filling up before or in between those tequila shots and beer buckets seem like a daunting task. But if you find yourself in a drinking session in the quirky Poblacion, Makati, a new addition to the gastronomic block is what you’ve been looking for all this time. Enter Yalla Yalla Express, a charming food joint just a few steps away from Z Hostel, serving delicious, grab-and-go Lebanese comfort food.

A shawarma to go before some Jose Cuervo? We say yes! Although Yalla Yalla means “fast” or “hurry up” in Arabic, the food here is not without careful thought and preparation. It is tiny but very quaint and no-nonsense: just a few chairs and wooden counters, a chalkboard menu, and an almost-open kitchen where you can see the huge slabs of meat on the way to your tummy.

Their moutabal (roasted eggplant) is a star appetizer. The smokiness is on-point and layers of flavor gets you in the mood for a feast.

They also have an interesting take on falafel, it is rather crunchy and light than the usual ones around.

The beef shawarma is a clear winner, the flavorful meat almost melts in your mouth and the turmeric rice complements the rich flavors and spices. The side dish of pickled cucumber, tomato, and beetroot provides a fresh relief while the onions.

The chicken shawarma is also a good choice. The first bites feel flat, but after a few more, you’ll definitely get the zing. Splash some of their homemade garlic and chili sauce onto your meat or rice and you get a rounded, fuller taste!

If chicken is really your thing, try the shish taouk (chicken skewers) which packs an interesting mix of salty, sour, and sweet flavors.

Don’t miss trying the sujuk (spicy sausage) as well! If you have it served in wraps, it pretty much reminds you of tasty quesadillas but this definitely has another twist of savor and and explosion of spiciness that is very Mediterranean.

It’s refreshing to see more and more concepts and cuisines popping out of Poblacion. It’s definitely becoming a multi-cultural center where locals and foreigners come together to have a great time. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to to fill up at Yalla Yalla first — definitely a good, comforting start to what will be long night of revelry in Makati. (And who knows you’ll end up there again for some good, recovery food!

Yalla Yalla is located at 5652 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati. 

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