Sunday, December 21, 2008

Act N@W - my Concordia and San Juan Adventure


Since I'm pretending to be good this Christmas season, I decided to join some of the members of Newlyweds@Work (N@W) extend some help to Concordia Children's Services.

Concordia is a small orphanage that takes care of 22 kids and supports the education of 34 other urban poor children. Marj wrote about them in an email and a lot of N@wies picked up her plea for help. A few emails later, volunteer N@wies were already organizing a party for the urban poor kids. Many others volunteered to send donations. I was one of them.

Initially, I just pledged a little money. It was the easiest thing to do. But after attending several Christmas parties, indulging myself in food and alcohol and tremendously enjoying the company of friends, I felt like doing something different. So, I volunteered to take pictures at the Concordia party.

When I mentioned my plans to some officemates, they too got excited and offered to donate goods. Thinking that more people would be interested in helping out the kids, I sent out an email to almost everyone in my address books. The response was overwhelming. I could hardly pack all the donations that I was able to gather in our car!

Apparently, there were also tons of generous Nawies that we just had too much donations for 1 beneficiary. The organizers then decided to donate the overflow to St. Martin de Porres Charity Hospital.

A week before the party, I sent out an invite to the members of the Olyclub and the GSM PhotoClub to help me take pictures. I was happy when Mot, Honey, Oli and Rodge volunteered to cover the party with me.

The night before the party, I charged my batteries and prepared my memory cards. I was so excited that I didn't have enough sleep. I fell asleep at 2 AM but by 7:30 AM, I was ready to leave. I passed by Mot on my way to Concordia. Traffic was a bit heavy because of the hundreds of people who were going home to their provinces for the Christmas holidays. We arrived at Concordia 30 minutes before the start of the party.

Concordia was nestled in between Ligaya Lodge and Gardenia Terrace Motel. The entrance was a gate right beside a huge banner advertising taxi rooms for P599. We wondered if the babies in the orphanage were products of the activities in these motels.

As soon as we got there, we unloaded the donations from my car and started preparations for the party. I helped set up the table for the prizes, which was useless as more donations arrived after I set it up so they ended up fixing everything again. There were just so many donations!

The program started promptly and I was impressed by the host, Ate Ayie. She chose games that were appropriate for the kids and she even made animals out of balloons. 3 crew members of Jollibee were there to help her out. They were all great with the kids!

But the star of the show was Dani - she read a story to the children. She was able to capture the attention of all the kids with her story that they almost looked hypnotized! When it was time for the Q&A after the story, everyone knew the answers (except for me, hehe). I was really so amazed by her talent in story-telling. Tinalo niya talaga si Kuya Bodjie at si Ate Sienna.

The children also got excited when Jollibee performed. Jollibee was just so charming that even the adults (photographers included) wanted to have a picture taken with him. After watching him and taking pictures of him for 30 minutes, I was half in love with him!

I so enjoyed the program that I didn't notice the heat, the dozens of children running around and screaming and the fact that we were having the party at a parking lot. I was also having so much fun with the other N@wies that I ended up posing for a lot of pictures with them. We even had a picture taken with Jollibee! It surprised me how we all gelled and had fun together even if it was my first time to see most of them. I was also amazed at how everything was efficiently organized.

After the program, a handful of us went to St. Martin to turn over the donations. The administrator was visibly touched and she promised to make sure that the donations would benefit the patients and the staff. She also requested the head nurse to give us a tour of the hospital. At one point, someone asked if we were actresses (apparently because only actresses went around hospitals to give out free stuff). We wanted to answer that we were actresses but we weren't famous because: (a) we were never launched; or (b) our soap operas were televised at 3 AM and got axed after 1 airing.

Even after giving out slippers to the kids in St. Martin, we realized that we still had 2 full boxes of slippers with us. Wanting to ensure that the slippers were donated to less-fortunate children, we thought of institutions that would have children who may appreciate having new slippers. We decided to make an impromptu visit to the municipal hospital of San Juan. Right outside the hospital were 2 street kids. One of them was running around with bare feet but he still refused the slippers we were giving him! We were so desperate to give him the slippers that we were almost begging him to receive it. Hindi kami nagwagi.

The people in the hospital were a different story, they were so grateful for the slippers and showered us with thanks. One of the kids confined in the hospital was the sibling of the kid playing in front of the hospital. We left a pair of slippers for him. Ha!

Unfortunately, there were only a handful of kids at the hospital so we still had several dozens of slippers with us. Since we were on a mission to hand out those slippers, we discussed our next step. We thought about standing in a busy corner and give out the slippers to the kids who knocked on car windows to beg. We decided against it, natakot kaming pagkaguluhan (naks, feeling artista!) After a few minutes, we decided to distribute it at the nearest depressed area.

And so, we trekked to the nearest barangay hall and found ourselves talking to the people of Brgy. Balongbato (in English, Rockwell!) We told them that we had slippers to give out and that we would appreciate it if they invited children between ages 2-8 to get their slippers from us. After 5 minutes, at least 100 kids were swarming the place. We all felt like we hit the jackpot! We had the kids fall in line and gave out the rest of the slippers. we ran out of slippers halfway through the line. Once again, I was amazed at the efficiency of the Nawies - they not only gave out the slippers, they were also able to give the right size to the kids. Ang galing!

We finished at around 2 PM - I was tired and thirsty, my legs felt heavy after standing for hours and walking around with my gear (I really have to start working on becoming physically fit!) but I actually got a little sad when our adventure ended and said goodbye to my fellow N@wies. It would take some time before I see them again in person.

As I journeyed back to real life, I browsed through the pictures on my camera and smiled. I was pretending to be good but the fun and adventure that I had with the N@wies and my photographer friends were all real. Their smiles were saved on my memory cards. I just hope that my smile was saved on theirs - lalo na yung picture ko with Jollibee!!!

More pictures are posted at: http://abieco.multiply.com/photos/album/50/Act_NW

Monday, December 01, 2008

Call for Applicants to Philippine High School for the Arts Scholarships


The Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) is currently accepting applicants to the 2009 Annual Nationwide Search for Young Arts Scholars (ANSYAS).

PHSA is a government run secondary school for artistically gifted and talented children and youth located in Mt. Makiling, Laguna. It implements a special secondary education curriculum oriented to the arts while offering the Basic Education subjects prescribed by the Department of Education (DepEd). The specialized curriculum of the PHSA is focused on the disciplines of Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts.

Applicants must be Filipino citizens with outstanding ability in any of the following disciplines—Music (instrument and voice), Dance (ballet and folk), Theater Arts, Visual Arts, and Creative Writing. Applicants must be graduating Grade VI or VII pupils for the school year 2008-2009; of above average intelligence, proficient in oral and written Filipino and English; without any debilitating illness; and willing to study in a residential high school.

Likewise, applicants must be determined to pursue a college degree in Architecture, Fine Arts, Music, Dance, Theater Arts, Journalism or any related courses upon graduation from the PHSA.

Successful applicants will receive free tuition, board and lodging, classes with master teachers, a monthly stipend plus the chance to represent the country and the school in international festivals, competitions and exchange programs. Application is also free.

Established in 1977, the PHSA has a distinguished roster of graduates that include singer Grace Nono (Theater), filmmaker Raymond Red (Visual Arts), painter and installation artist Gerry Leonardo (Visual Arts), stage and film actress Shamaine Buencamino (Theater), pianist Hiyas Hila (Music), stage and film actor Soliman Cruz (Theater), bass baritone Jonathan Zaens (Music), Biag Gaongen (Theater) and dancer Candice Adea (Ballet).

The PHSA boasts of an impressive faculty as well. PHSA teachers, according to PHSA Executive Director Fernando C. Josef, are among the best of the country’s artists, practitioners and educators. “PHSA is the only national arts institution that provides a four-year scholarship to exceptionally talented young Filipino artists. It offers these young artists a comprehensive and highly specialized training supported by excellent facilities and in the idyllic and beautiful setting of Mt. Makiling.”

Application forms and the list of requirements per art discipline may be downloaded from the PHSA website www.phsa.edu.ph. All documents and requirements must be sent directly to ANSYAS 2009, c/o Assistant Reynaldo O. Wong, PHSA, National Arts Center, Mt. Makiling, Los BaƱos 4030 Laguna.

For inquiries, please email phsa@laguna.net or call telefax (+6349)5365971 to 73 and 536-2862.

*re-posted from ClickTheCity.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Hairspray

After years of not watching plays, I finally got a good excuse to watch one - my officemates were selling tickets! (I wanted to watch Wicked in NY but by the time I had a good idea of what my free days were, the shows were already sold out.) I was just too happy that Marian, Mich and Dette were also interested in watching Hairspray.

The only version of Hairspray I watched was the original (1980's) version. I just came across it while cable-surfing one evening and was instantly entertained by Tracy's dancing - she looked so huge but she was light on her feet and she danced with so much energy. She was so positive and bouncy that I really wanted her to succeed. Up til now, I still couldn't believe that Ricki Lake played Tracy in that movie.

The Manila version was also entertaining.

Mabel Ching was an acceptable Tracy. She also gave a positive vibe, was bouncy and she was effective in playing a love-struck teenager. She could dance but there were steps that she couldn't pull off. There were times when she was graceful and energetic but they weren't enough to convince me that she was the best dancer on stage. She was mostly in tune but her long notes made me cringe a bit when she lost control over her vibrato and she had the tendency to over-act the little-girl voice making her sound like a 4-year old instead of a high school student.

In contrast, Dulce really gave Motormouth Maybell a powerful singing voice but she couldn't pull off the role of a black diva. She just looked like a contestant for a Tina Turner-dance alike contest. But at least she had her moments and really took command of the stage when she sang I Know Where I've Been, unlike Tim Espinosa who was such a disappointment as Link Larkin. His voice was too thin, his dancing was average and he was never able to convince me that he was a hunk that girls would swoon for. It didn't help that he looked so ordinary.

Nyoy Violante as Seaweed also looked ordinary (and I'm being generous when I say this as he really looks like a troll) but his singing and dancing were impressive. I expected him to sing well but I was surprised that he could dance so gracefully and execute complicated dance moves. His moonwalk was amazing. He wasn't able to convice me that he was black (I didn't see the groove), but he was pleasant to watch.

Another person who was pleasant to watch was Christine Allado who played the scheming Amber. She was utterly convincing as a racist bitch. She had a powerful voice and she was a charming dancer. If Amber weren't so scheming, I would have voted her as Ms. Hairspray.

I also liked the performances of Leo Rialp as Tracy's father, Wilbur, and Monica Reynoso as the nerdy Penny, but the show-stealers were Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Velmo von Tussle and Michael de Mesa as Edna. Menchu and Michael were the obvious veterans - you could understand each word that they uttered and when it was their turn to shine, they dazzled me with their presence.

Menchu was amazing - I could really feel the venom in her voice when she sang, she was beautifully devious and she seemed to have complete control over her whole body, including her vocal chords. I really was convinced that she was a fame-hungry ex-beauty-queen who would use her body and connections to win. I found her performance of Ms. Baltimore Crabs more compelling than Dulce's I Know Where I've Been, because Menchu didn't only sing it powerfully, she also sang every line in character.

Michael was even more amazing. He didn't sing as well as Menchu but he really looked and acted like a doting mother to Tracy and a loving wife to Wilbur. I could almost forget that he was male. Of course, he wouldn't allow me to forget his masculinity when he deliberately switched to his deep male voice.

His acting alone was enough to keep me entertained the whole evening.

Hairspray was also a visual feast - the set was simple but the costumes were really beautiful - I've never seen so many colorful and beautifully patterned polka-dots in my entire life. All the dresses were so pretty that I wanted to wear them myself. I so covet the 2-toned raincoats that the girls were wearing in one scene!

Taken as a whole, the Manila version of Hairspray wasn't perfect but my experience was positive enough that I suppose I'll be watching plays regularly again.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sleeping with a College Freshman


We've always talked about taking up accounting but we never acted on it. But on Monday morning, encouraged by his officemates, B decided to go ahead and get his third degree. He researched on Quezon City schools and checked which ones had evening classes. He went home around noon to get copies of his transcripts and other documents. He finished his registration by 4PM. He had his first free cut on Tuesday, got a scientific calculator yesterday and had a quiz today.

Up to now, I still can't believe that at my age, I'm sleeping with a college freshman!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flying Asiana Air



Every time people learn that I'm taking Asiana Airlines for my New York trip, they would grimace, give me a concerned look and ask me why. I used to answer that I had no choice as Asiana offered the cheapest airfare.

If they ask me again now, I'd say "why not?"

I've tried flying Business Class on Lufthansa, KLM and Asiana over the past year and a half and among the three, Asiana is the best for me.

Both Lufthansa's and KLM's flight menus boasted of chefs on board. Asiana's menu was the simplest - it just provided the meal choices. But it served the best tasting food. The tenderloin was not as good as that served in Prince Albert's but it was good enough. I didn't get to choose how it will be cooked but since they served it medium well, I was happy. It was soft and tender and perfectly seasoned with just salt and pepper. It was served with sculpted creamy mashed potatoes. My other main meal was a delicious Bibimbap (translated as: Mixing and Harmonizing) which came with instructions on how to enoy it. It was as good as those served in the Korean restos in Manila, minus the heated bowl and the side dishes. They did serve kimchi with it, though.

In addition to this, I loved that they served salted butter in a dish. It was much easier scooping butter from a solid dish rather than trying to squeeze tasteless unsalted butter from the small packets that Lufthansa and KLM (and other restos in Manila) provide. I just held the piece of bread with my left hand, and scooped and spread the butter with a knife on my right hand.

I also loved the fact that in addition to the usual US movies, I also got to watch Japanese, Korean and Chinese movies. I enjoyed watching Korea's Princess Mighty during the Manila-Seoul leg. I attempted to watch Iron Man on the Seoul-New York leg but failed, as I was asleep most of the time!

And this was the real reason why I love Asiana - they had the best seats for me. Lufthansa had some nice chairs but the headrest was too high for me making me nod a little. the KLM seat also felt weird. But the Asia chair was so perfect! It fit my hips perfectly, gave my back ample support and it had the perfect space for my head! Even if I wanted to stay awake and watch a movie, I ended up dozing off.

Oops. Another reason to take Asiana was that their washrooms were always clean!!! In Lufthansa and KLM, there were times when the washrooms weren't clean. In Asiana, an attendant regularly cleaned them so they looked and smelled clean all throughout the flight.

Oh, and there's one more reason.(I feel like I'm in a home tv shopping show.) They have reasonable airfare!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back to Scrapping

I haven't scrapped in months - but since I was home this weekend and I've already promised my friends to create the invites for their kids, I looked through my materials and started scrapping.

I've forgotten how time-consuming it was to finish a lay-out but since my friends are happy with the designs that I made for my godchildren, I feel that I've spent my weekend wisely (even if I didn't get to see Kimura Takuya the whole time!)

Here's the invite for Jia - her baptism had to be pushed a few weeks later and the reception venue had to be changed because I'll be out of the country.


Her mom wanted the invite to be colorful (in pastel shades) with lots of digi-scrap layers. I also needed to include a Precious Moments element as this will be the theme for the reception. Clarice and I both got so excited that we're thinking of using a variation for a second page with the names of the godparents and a smaller version for the photo magnets. But before that, we have to insert the venue for the reception! Ok, back to Photoshop.

Speaking of Jia, before she was born, I helped organize a couple of maternity shoots for Clarice. We viewed hundreds of maternity photos online to get ideas and to see what types of clothes she needs to wear. The day before the shoot, we went shopping for clothes - we had very limited time, the clothes that matched our requirements (no prints, empress cut and in happy colors, didn't make Clarice look like the Marshmallow Man) were limited, but we still were able to get a couple of sets. As we munched on tacos and quesadillas, her husband bought matching polos for the dresses that we bought. There was a typhoon the next day so the shoot got cancelled, but Clarice still got to wear her clothes a few days later. Here are a couple of shots from Metrophoto:




Clarice, being Clarice, planned to have 3 maternity portrait sessions. The second was held at our house as we wanted the i'm-pregnant-and-i'm-proud-of-my-tummy phots. Mimi Abesamis and Karl de Leon took the shots. Here are a couple of my favorites (I actually liked the other shots better but my friendship with Clarice will end if I post them here.)




The third shoot didn't happen as Clarice was already in labor at that time. And that was supposed to be done in the studio.

Hindi rin siya addict sa picture, 'no?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Move over Jumong

Kimura Takuya is now king of my time.

[Picture obviously not taken by me]


He's sweet in Beautiful Life, adorable and charismatic in Change, lovable in Engine and absolutely hot in Pride. I can't wait to watch his other dramas. Sigh.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Usapang Lashing

It's 2 AM and I survived Thursday. I'm alive!!!

I'm admittedly tipsy after having drank several glasses of screwdriver. Nope, not the tool, but the drink. I can't sleep until I lose the buzz, because if I do, I'd have a massive hangover in the morning. I could not afford a hangover because the Boss nicely told me exactly an hour ago that he would be touring the foreign visitors to our floor tomorrow afternoon.

So why did I have survive to Thursday and why am I drunk before Friday?

First, I had to sing at a wedding. No, we're not just talking about 2 or 3 songs. I sang the bridal march, the songs for the offertory, communion, the Ama Namin and all the songs during the picture taking. I used to sing with the Ateneo Glee Club and I've sang for weddings before - but never on my own. And so, I was a nervous wreck the whole morning. I couldn't even finish my favorite hotdog sandwich that I was served for lunch. I had to file a leave as I coudn't complete any task. I arrived at the church early (despite the fact that St. James is actually a whole province away from the gate of Ayala Alabang.) Unfortunately, my accompanist (cousin of the groom) arrived late - just 20 minutes before the wedding. I still got to practice, though.

I suppose that it went well except for 1 song - "You" by the Carpenters. Yeah, it was a cop out because it was too easy. But I needed to rest my voice after singing the more emotional songs. I gave the signal for the coda except that the pianist and I had different ideas about what the coda was (we practiced the song Wednesday, but I guess we forgot.)

I felt good after the mass and it was nice to hear that the groom cried and claimed that it was because my voice. Of course, I knew that what he said was crap because he started tearing up when I started testing the mic and I couldn't find anything touching about singing half of a song, stopping in the middle and saying, "Manong, paki-dagdagan po ng mid."

Anyway, during the reception, one of the groom's relatives approached me and thanked me for singing during the mass. I said that he was welcome and managed to smile, but inside my head, I was thinking that I wouldn't do it again unless I get paid (and yes, if the bride or the groom was a really close friend.)

After the reception, we proceeded to Strumm's to celebrate the birthday of the Boss. We had guests from Chicago and Europe (I knew that we had a guest from Indonesia, I'm guessing that he flew out of Manila this afternoon.) It was fun dancing to 70's music as performed by Route 70, and 60's and 80s music as performed by the Authority. Having experienced a challenging day, I decided to indulge in a few drinks (or was that several? I suppose I lost count!)

And this is why I'm buzzed. So why am I blogging at this state? For one, I really need to get rid of the buzz before I go to sleep. But more importantly, I think that it would be fun to read this blog entry when I'm sober.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Diet is "Die" with a "T"


My office friends and I are starting our diet tomorrow, but I already started mine today.

Dieting has always been torture for me - I love food. I feel so happy when I'm eating good food that I sometimes wiggle my butt the way Porkchop wiggles hers every time I get home. I get cranky when I'm hungry. Eating good food can make a bad day turn golden. I can be bribed with food.

But since I'm cheap and I refuse to spend on a new wardrobe due to my weight gain, I'll have to stop pigging out. Still, I'm not willing to go on diets that I can't keep up with. So, when we were talking about our diet goals last Friday, they asked me what my goal was - I said that I will now start eating for one. Now the challenge is finding out what a normal person would eat for meals.

Two meals and I already feel like half my brain cells died. Sigh.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Twisted!


Mix 1 part soju with 4 parts Zesto Twist.


It's perfect with Jack & Jill's Tostillas with homemade salsa, which is really just a mix of a can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes, 2 small green peppers, 1 medium white onion, 1 chili, some cilantro leaves, the juice of half a lemon and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

I never imagined that I will be posting recipes on this blog but all these TV dramas are making me spend so much time at home!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CrHappy Endings

I watch movies and TV series the way I read books - from beginning to end. I always try to see and feel how the writers introduce the characters, establish the relationship among them, build the tension and whack my head with an awesome resolution or ending. I'm admittedly sappy so with effective writers, I always get to cry, laugh, scream and even dream with the characters. If the storyline gives me sufficient tension, I would just go on and watch the next episode, forgetting about sleep, food and skipping on conditioning my hair. For this reason, I really get disappointed, angry even, when good concepts go bad.

Here's my list of crappy endings.

1. Angels and Demons - I am NEVER going to read any of Dan Brown's books after reading Angels and Demons. I loved this book from page 1 to 500 - I loved the puzzles that they needed to solve, I even checked the net for pictures of the churches and the statues mentioned once in a while and turned the book upside down to appreciate the beauty of the ambigrams. Unfortunately for me, I wasted a night's sleep getting to page 500. As soon as I reached it, I felt like I headed into a dead-end after traveling for days and had no choice but to go back without reaching my intended destination. The last 70 pages of the book was just too painful to read that it took me 3 days to go through it when it only took me a few hours to get excited by the first 500 pages. The twist at the end was so dumb that Dan Brown had to justify it with 70 more pages. Robert Langdon surviving the fall from a helicopter was just too unbelievable but I guess Dan Brown needed the miracle of life as Robert Langdon was still the lead in the Da Vinci Code which was supposed to happen a year later. This book made me so angry that I wanted to tear it in half (or at 500 to be exact) - the only thing that stopped me was that I just borrowed the book from my sister. It's a good thing that I didn't pay sh!t for this book.

2. Last Friends - This Japanese TV series had potential as it had some of my favorite actors from Nodame Cantabile and was supposed to be brave enough to deal with domestic violence, child abuse and lesbianism. The first few episodes did not disappoint. I got affected with all of it - hating Masami for being such a wimp, feeling Ruka's pain in not being able to open up to anyone with her gender issues and cheering Takeru as he goes through life being nice even if he had a traumatic childhood. In the end, I just hated them all. Masami remained a wimp until the end - I was so disappointed that the violent Sosuke committed suicide as I felt that Masami needed to be beaten every day of her life until she grew a backbone and developed a brain.I was so disappointed with Ruka's speech when she won first in the race - it was the perfect opportunity to shout out loud that she was a lesbian and to hell with everyone who objected as everyone who mattered already accepted her as she was anyway. Instead, she went on and on about winning the race and being supported by her friends and family not as a male or a female but as a human being. She never even once admitted that she was a lesbian. As for Takeru, he never really blurted out what happened to him when he was a child, he just said that his sister tried to win him over to her side. What the hell was that? After all 11 episodes, they were all reduced to wimps. For all their speeches about fighting against violence, Takeru and Ruka did not even go to the police even after Sosuke beat Takeru with his cane and attempted to rape Ruka. In the end, all the controversial issues that the TV series promised to tackle were all swept under the rug. The only good think about it was that it showed that Ueno Juri could act. Oh, speaking of acting, I heard that Nishikido Ryo got an award for this movie. WTF? How can someone having only 2 expressions win an award?

3. Memories of Bali - No one who watched this Korean TV series would ever forget the ending. After having the characters go through so much pain, the writers just couldn't find a way to resolve all the tangles they created and opted for the easy way out - kill them all!

4. Coffee Prince - I loved Coffee Prince but the ending was really anti-climactic. They really should have ended it when Han Kyul and Eun Chan got together. Everything after that was not as interesting. i would have been happier if they just requested Gong Yoo to walk around topless and sing lullabies to Eun Hye for an hour.

5. Princess Hours - Just like Coffee Prince, I loved this Korean TV series but felt a bit disappointed with the ending. I felt like they wanted to squeeze out more money from a high-rating series by adding flimsy plots and minor issues even after the main storyline has ended. The last 2 episodes just confused the hell out of everyone even if they spent so much money bringing the cast to Macau.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Important Paalala

Underlined sentence from an Acknowledgment Receipt issued by the Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court of the Philippines:

"Please bring with you this receipt whenever you make follow-up of your petition."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Heaven in every bite

I just realized that my long weekend was all about food.

On Saturday, we celebrated Ate Janet's birthday at Dampa at Farmer's - we enjoyed pigging out on prawns in lemon-butter sauce, chili crabs, grilled squid, grilled fish, pakbet and sinigang na maya-maya. No one was surprised when Ate Cecile and I were the last to finish our meal as we tried to finish off all the crabs.

The next day, Nina, Frank and I travelled all the way to Batangas to enjoy a barrio fiesta. For breakfast, we had home-made suman, dinuguan and puto. A few hours later, we had buko salad. Lunch was literally a feast as we had binutuhan, menudo, habanera, chicken, mixed vegetables, leche flan, ube halaya and more buko salad.

From Batangas, we travelled to Tagaytay just to get the egg tarts that we reserved from Rowena's. And since we were already in Tagaytay, we passed by Massimo's to take home a serving of their artichoke dip.



Today, seeing that we had lots of nacho-tasting chips, I made my first home-made salsa! And for dinner, we had our own version of lettuce wraps - we grilled some pork, sliced some garlic and wrapped them in lettuce leaves that were smeared with red bean paste. We still need to perfect the marinade for the pork, but it was still fun eating our version of sam gyup sal at home.



I probably gained at least 3 lbs this weekend, but each bite I had these past 3 days was definitely worth the weight!!!

*******

More on the Batangas-Tagaytay trip -



I never realized that barrio fiestas can be so entertaining - marching bands took turns parading on the main road, there were lots of vendors selling balloons and cheap trinkets, but the star of the fiesta was the ati-atihan.



Batangas' version of the ati-atihan cannot be ignored - it started with a slim trannie going door-to-door wearing only a pink 2-piece swimsuit, I got the shock of my life when I saw one knocking at my friend's window. He actually succeeded in stopping me from taking my next bite. Then came the rest of the trannie gang wearing black skin-tight clothes. They performed modern dance moves in tune to ati-atihan music. Unfortunately, each of them had his own choreography. The best part of their performance was the duo of fire-eaters - they both ate and breathed fire with lust in their eyes. Scary, but still entertaining.



Inside the house, we entertained ourselves by watching the Olympic games (the athletes from Argentina were cute!), competed in our own Olympic game - jackstones (unfortunately, one of the stars broke before we even finished one game), and watched the US version of My Sassy Girl (really awful, as we expected.)



From Batangas, we took the Star Toll (a really beautiful stretch of road!) and passed through Tanauan. The road that brought us up to Tagaytay was pretty rough and steep. There were stretches that were cemented but most of the 30-minute drive was either cracked asphalt or just plain dirt. This national road was already narrow but it was 2-way. It gave us beautiful views of Taal volcano, though. So like the ati-atihan in Batangas, the road was scary, but still entertaining.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Anime Life!

All these anime I've watched seem to have jumped into my own life:

- Porkchop seems to like watching Lovely Complex. She also loved watching Will & Grace. She doesn't watch other shows.

- At a wedding we attended, when the host announced that 2 males will be singing a duet, I jokingly hummed the first 2 lines of Mariah Carey and John Legend's "With You I'm Born Again". And then the 2 guys started singing the same song with one of them singing the female part in falsetto.

- Rey's cousin, in her early morning confusion, almost poured her contact lens solution directly into a zip lock bag when I told her that when boarding planes, she's supposed to put in all liquids inside the bag. She even asked me if I was sure that the solution wouldn't leak from the bag. Eh?!

- Our office has a no-eating-in-workstations rule. They're so bent on enforcing the rule that our Executive Director actually issued 2 memos on it. Last Monday, I was rushing urgent work so I decided to eat a ham and cheese croissant on my desk. Our Executive Director walked in and asked me a question just as I took a huge bite! Apparently, he also walked in on another office mate who was eating a cookie.

*******



Speaking about offices, we recently moved into our new workspaces. And I now have a room. It feels great to have been delivered out of cubeville! I never realized how much I hated my cube until I left it. My new room has solid sound-proof walls, sufficent storage space (a set of drawers, a mobile ped and a china cabinet), and right beside it is a breakout room with really comfortable sofas (never mind that they're screaming red.) I love my new workspace!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reasons to Stay at Home on a Sunday



1. B (yak.)
2. Porkchop (?)
3. downloaded movies/tv series
4. a good easy-read
5. a comfy bed
6. relatively fast internet connection
7. beautifully cooked meals

Who am i kidding? I don't need any reason to stay at home and stay in bed the whole day on a Sunday!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why I worked from home last Monday

I was halfway to the office when I realized that I left my office laptop at home. Ang talino!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Word for the Day: Karoshi

"Karoshi" - deaths from overwork

I guess these are not uncommon in Japan as they already have a term for it. For the latest Karoshi news, check out:

Ruling finds Japanese man died from overwork

Sunday, June 29, 2008

OlyClub Philippines Photo Exhibit: DISCOVER NEW WONDERS

From Cris Alcala's Multiply:

The First OlyClubPh Photo Exhibit

"DISCOVER NEW WONDERS"... regular subjects, different perspectives

Venue: Ground Floor of SM Mega Mall, Bldg. B (Near the Main Entrance)
Duration of Exhibit: July 3 - 16 (2 Weeks) 10:00am - 9:00pm
Admission: Free (Open to the Public)

- On display are top 30 framed artwork photos, taken by OlyClubPh members using various Olympus dSLRs and Zuiko Digital lenses, as chosen by the respectable Mr. Jay Alonzo.
- Demo Olympus dSLR (Pro and Semi-Pro) cameras and lenses (No products will be on sale at the exhibit).
- 32" LCD Slideshow presentation of olyclubph's history (timeline) and a hundred other photos from the olyclubph members.

Ribbon Cutting on July 3, 2008, 6:00 PM, Thursday. Everyone is invited to attend the opening of this club event or visit the exhibition. We hope to see you all!

Print Exhibitors:

Christian "Chris" Alcala MD
Amie Alegre
Dennis Alfaro
Norman Aquino
Francis Cadiente
Abie Co
Mickey Cruz
Ryan Cruz
Frandy de los Santos
Rey del Rosario
Sandro Domingo
Marvin Nuto
Earl Thomas "toktok" Paler
Sean Paler
Mot Rasay
Randy Rivera
Dexter Tan
Francis Tuason

***Thanks to Donna Samonte for initiating the web announcement & invitation***

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Makiling Cafe

I love seeing pictures of Mt. Makiling. These always remind me of my high school days at the National Arts Center when the only thing I worried about was getting rid of the pimple on my nose.

So when a fellow Ibarang (which is what we call students and alumni of the Philippine High School for the Arts) sent links to his pictures, I eagerly downloaded all of them. Most of the pictures made me happily nostalgic but this picture of the NAC cafeteria (which we all called "cafe") made my heart feel a little bit heavier.


(Photo courtesy of kuya Daniel Honrade.)

Cafe was where most of us started our day. We would line up beside the metal counter where we were served breakfast in metal trays. If the line was long, we would sit at the edge of the wooden stage while waiting for our turn. When we were running late, the servers would scoop our viands into clear plastic bags and pack them in brown paper bags.

Lunch and dinner at the cafe were social events - we would chat with schoolmates while eating with distorted forks and worn-out spoons. Most of us would be seated in 3 long tables arranged on wooden floors, while the luckier ones get to seat at the balcony where they could enjoy the various shades of green that Mt. Makiling's trees and plants had to offer. The balcony was separated from the main dining area by glass doors.

With a wooden stage at the farthest end, Cafe was also "the" venue for staging mini-presentations, contests and even school announcements (major presentations and school activities were held at the NAC Theater). The transparent glass wall at the back of the stage allowed us to see the beauty of the mountain during the day but served as a black backdrop as soon as the sun hid behind Maria's back. I remember being in awe as I watched ate Pia, ate Anette, Ate Judelle, ate Grethel and mommy Christy perform "Limang Dipang Tao" on its stage. Four years later, it would stage a play that I directed where I required the actresses to gush like crazy over Gabby Concepcion while wearing ill-fitting monotonous clothes made up of metallic threads. I could still imagine Vivienne say, "Pedestrian lane, Pilut!"

Right beside the stage was an upright piano where Miguel would perform a classical version of Madonna's "Like a Virgin."

The dining area was not only meant for eating. It was the venue for exhibits, rehearsals and other school activities. This was where we auditioned for the school paper - we were all required to write an essay on the importance of art in life. I remember feeling so much pressure (I majored in Theater Arts and took up Creative Writing as a minor) that I was only able to write 3 short forgettable paragraphs. (I got to be Features Editor only because the title of my essay caught Ms. Almonte's attention. I borrowed the title of an old religious song, "How Great Thou Art!")

We held classes at the balcony when the rains prevented us from walking the kilometer down to our classrooms. The balcony also served as an alternative classroom for the Visual Arts Majors even on sunny days - I remember seating for hours in their midst as they attempted to draw my portrait and later on wishing for the portrait drawn by my high school crush. It was also the place where friends exchanged confidences and where several young couples confessed what they thought was love.

The Cafe survived the elements. Its grey stone walls refused to budge even as harsh winds swept the green plastic-and-metal chairs from end to end. These stone walls protected us during the 1990 earthquake - at that time, we were rehearsing a play when the cafe started to dance. Water violently sloshed out of its kidney-shaped pool. In panic, most of the younger students rushed to the balcony but the cafe valiantly carried their weight and didn't allow anyone to be thrown off the nearby cliff.

The cafe also survived our tears - the stairs leading to the dining area absorbed our despair when we learned at the end of our first year that we needed to say goodbye to 15 of our batchmates (we were only 28 in the batch!) We replaced the tears with shrieks and laughter when ten of us graduated three years later.

Sadly, the cafe did not survive the fire that razed it to the ground several years back. I see that it now has a roof but its sides are still unprotected without its walls. It is such a shame that it has not been rebuilt as I couldn't imagine life in the NAC without a cafe where students nourished not only their bodies, but also their minds, their art, and their love.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sometimes, it's not the government's fault


I took a leave yesterday to get my Community Tax Certificate and Professional Tax Receipt from the Quezon City Hall. Today, I hope to file my consolidated income tax return with B. The BIR still has not issued his W2 which is supposed to be attached to the return - I hope we can get his W2 today as our return is already terribly late!

I was dreading the trip to the City Hall as I was imagining that I'd be lining up for hours in a dusty, damp and smelly office. I even bribed B with a free movie so that he would accompany me. I shouldn't have worried! It only took a few minutes to line up for the Community Tax Certificate, and the line was in an airy and clean-enough corridor with no offensive odors.

Getting the Professional Tax Receipt was a different story - I was second in line to a frustrating taxpayer. Yup, the taxpayer was the one who was frustrating. From what I can understand of their conversation, the taxpayer paid some fees and wanted a local government stamp on her documents. The government official was patiently explaining that the stamp should be made on the 3 copies of the original forms, which could not be done since the taxpayer only brought 1 photocopy. The taxpayer kept on insisting that the stamp be made on the photocopy as that was what her boss asked her to do. Never losing her smile, the government official said that the government office to which the taxpayer was required to submit the forms would not accept photocopies and would definitely look for the stamp in the original forms which were colored pink, yellow and blue. After 10 minutes, the government official just stamped the photocopy with a warning that the said stamp was useless on a photocopy. What was worse was that when the taxpayer left, she even mumbled, "Hirap talaga kausapin ng gobyerno!"

I was just amazed at: (a) the patience of the government employee - I was ready to strangle the taxpayer on the 5th minute but she didn't even flinch when he heard the taxpaer's remark; and (b) how I was so engrossed with what was happening that I couldn't even remember the physical conditions of the room; and (c) how good I was at eavesdropping!

When I got my Professional Tax Receipt (it only took the government employee 3 minutes to issue it!), I told B about the taxpayer and asked him if he encountered people like her. He said that he's used to taxpayers who get hysterical when they didn't get what they want even if they failed to meet the requirements. Sometimes, they even accused him of not doing his job when it was part of his job to ensure that the proper documents were submitted and that all requirements were met before they issue rulings.

On our way home, the cab driver kept on blaming the government for the rising gas prices. B explained that the Philippines was not the only country which was experiencing an increase in gas prices. The cab driver then started blaming the government for the tuberculosis that several cab drivers were suffering which he believed were caused by the fumes from the converted LPG engines of some taxis.

I guess it really is just easy for people to keep on blaming all their problems to the government, and sometimes, the underpaid government officials are the ones suffering for it. Our government is far from perfect but we also have to make sure that we do what is expected of us. I guess we also have to remember to treat government employees with respect even if some of them really deserve to have all their eyebrows plucked for being so lazy and/or corrupt!

Now that I think about it, I should have told the taxpayer in front of me that this time, the government was not at fault. She'd probably be irritated with me but at least the government official at the Taxes and Fees Division would know that somehow, her efforts were appreciated.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This Made My Day!

Hi Abie,

I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has been short-listed for inclusion in the second edition of our Schmap Italy Guide, to be published mid-April 2008.

www.schmap.com/shortlist/p=76889912N00/c=SG31103500

Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can:
i) See which of your photos has been short-listed.
ii) Submit or withdraw your photo from our final selection phase.
iii) Learn how we credit photos in our Schmap Guides.
iv) Browse the first edition of our Schmap Italy Guide.

While we offer no payment for publication, many photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and link to high-resolution originals at Flickr.

Our submission deadline is Sunday, March 23. If you happen to be reading this message after this date, please still click on the link above (our Schmap Guides are updated frequently - photos submitted after this deadline will be considered for later releases).

Best regards,

Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birth Announcement for Shelsey



Credits:
Crystal Wilkerson's Spring Fling Elements
Bren Boone's The Peacock Lady Kit

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy to Downgrade



After 3 years if service, my Nokia 9500 finally gave up on me. It served me well - I've taken notes on it which I got to email directly to my former bosses, used it to review contracts and memos which clients needed "yesterday", stored frequently used laws on its memory card and even drafted and published blog posts on it. It also gave me quick access to my office email which always had urgent tasks waiting to be completed. Even if it looked (and weighed!) like a brick, it was always with me.

It took me quite some time to find a replacement - I ignored the fact that one of its hinges had already joined some cans on a recycle bin. But when the phone's LCD started acting up, I new that it was time to accept that my not-so-cheap gadget has ended its useful life (waaah!).

After considering some options, I bought a cheapo - a Samsung E590 (a little over 7T pesos at 0% interest for 6 months!), which only feature is to look handsome. It does have GPRS capabilities (no wifi!), a 3 MP camera (it can take decent pictures as long as there's sufficient light) with a mini-bean bag as a stand, and you can use it as an MP3 player and a radio (features which I probably won't use,) but it's still a definite downgrade from my old phone. I love my Samsung E590! I guess it's mostly because it reminds me that I no longer have to send notes within a few hours from attending a meeting, or review contracts or memos on the go. And I really do find it handsome. It also helps that it's really light!

Speaking about downgrading, I took advantage of another office perk that I now have - working from home. I started to do some research in the morning and ended a little after 1:30. Since I wasn't expecting too much traffic, I passed by UP to satisfy my curiosity about their Masters in Technology Management (admissions is closed for this sem, can't enroll middle of the year, their office is closed today - ha??? so what was I doing sitting on their sofa and chatting with the staff?). I was done by 2PM but heavy traffic along Katipunan road forced me to accept that I would never reach our office at the Bonifacio Global City by 3PM. Since I can't use my car from 3 to 7 because of this improperly-called-color-coding traffic scheme in Manila, I decided to work from home. It was not a good idea - when I reached our house, our room was being cleaned and it was just too humid and warm in it. So, I decided to work at the Starbucks branch a few kilometers away from our house.


Not being a tea drinker, I am not too fond of Starbucks. But today, it was my "home" as I can't literally ask my boss permission to "work from Starbucks"! It had wi-fi and a plug for my laptop. The chairs and tables were the perfect height for working and it had a clean washroom! The guard kept an eye on my stuff when I used the washroom or ordered more food, or ordered more food (no, I'm not being repetitive, I'm just stating what I did this afternoon.) The temperature was also perfect. At first, I ordered a grande Dulce de Leche Frap (really creamy and yummy!), and a honey-glazed donut, which I should have eaten as fast as I could, as it got tough when it cooled. An hour later, I started munching on their potato chips. I got a couple of bags in different flavors - barbecue and spicy thai (?). Those chips were crisp and delightfully spiced! The bags were a pain to open, though, so I had to request the staff to open them for me (or maybe I'm just a wimp? And no, I wasn't being helpless because I found the server cute - he wasn't but he was helpful so he was okay.) It was surprisingly quiet and the only distraction I got was a phonecall from my brother-in-law saying that I have a new niece! (I didn't go to the hospital immediately - I gave my sister a call and she said that she wanted to sleep. She also said that she was fine, just tired, and that I could only see my new niece tomorrow as she'll be in an incubator 'til then. I guess she just didn't want me to barge in her hospital room today with my camera with her still trying to shake off the effects of an epidural.) Needless to say, I finished the office task which I set out to complete today.

And since I didn't have to spend an hour in traffic going home, I got to take a peek at the pics I took during our summer outing! Unfortunately, I was not too happy with that batch of pictures - I guess I was uninspired or just plain tired (I only had a day to rest from Barcelona before leaving for Batangas.) Not that La Luz Resort was ugly. It was far from that - its Filipiniana-inspired decors were just perfect for the beach. I also loved the row of white beach umbrellas in front of the cabanas. (But La Luz was also far from being a luxury resort - the bed and pillows were as tough as punching bags, and the toiletries provided were in sachets.) The beach itself was okay, the sand was white but not Boracay-fine. The pebbles didn't prevent my other officemates from enjoying the cool water, though. I didn't swim with them - I didn't want to treat my officemates to an afternoon of whale-watching. But I still enjoyed our company outing - in the afternoon, I had a relaxing massage in one of the cabanas, and in the evening, I enjoyed singing with my officemates (I stayed up 'til 4 but some of them were still singing 'til 5 AM!)

So what's the point of this post? Wala ulit (but when I started writing it, it was supposed to have one, I just lost it along the way.) It's the coffee speaking.

Oh yeah, the picture with the laptop was taken using my new phone. Obviously, the picture above wasn't.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Barcelona pics are up!

The Barcelona pics are here.

I'm still feeling tired after the Barcelona trip - I only had 2 days to rest before heading to La Luz, Batangas for our company outing (now that's a different story.) So I don't have much energy to do anything other than work. I'm hoping I'll be better in a few days. See you then!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Kung Bakit Payat si Paris


With only 1 hour and 29 minutes left on my internet card, 250 ml remaining on my 1-liter bottle of Evian and 2 hours and 5 minutes prior to check-out, I decide to take a rest and divulge some facts that I recently discovered.

Bakit payat si Paris? Dahil hindi siya kumakain.

Bakit di siya kumakain? Kasi hindi talaga masarap ang pagkain dito sa Hilton!

At first, I thought it was limited to the finger food that they serve during the meetings. I was wrong. Yesterday, I was too exhausted to move after 3 days of non-stop meetings. So, I decided to order room service for lunch and dinner. The sea bass for lunch was fresh but poorly seasoned. They just grilled it with the other vegetables and the chef probably thought that the sauces of the onions of the aubergines and onions would be enough to flavor the fish. Just like me, he was wrong. The sea bass tasted flat.

For dinner, I decided to order something basic, something that even I can prepare - a bacon cheeseburger. Since they called it the "Hilton Cheeseburger" I was hoping that it would at least be decent. Again, I was wrong. The fries that were served on the side tasted like cooking oil, the bacon was tough and the meat patty was dry. I am just so happy that I can charge all those crappy meals to the office.

Bakit payat ang mga tao sa Barcelona? Kasi ang bilis nilang maglakad!

Only a handful of our meetings were held at the Hilton. Most of the sessions were held at the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos. According to everyone in Barcelona, Hotel Rey Juan Carlos is only 15-20 minutes away on foot. Since I didn't have any reason not to believe them, I walked from Hilton to Hotel Rey Juan Carlos. It took me 45 minutes to get there.

A similar thing happened for dinner. We were scheduled to eat at a resto, which the concierge said was only 10 minutes away from Hilton on foot. It took me 10 minutes to get there in a cab.

CONCLUSION: People in Barcelona as are fast as taxis.



Bakit wala pa ring Barcelona pictures? Kasi wala pa akong napupuntahan. Kagabi lang natapos ang meetings ko.

But I am now on my personal time. Hola, Barcelona!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'll be right back!

I'm in Barcelona on a business trip.

I arrived midnight last night and attended a meeting from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM today. Needless to say, all I've seen of Barcelona are the interiors of the hotel where I'm staying at - which isn't saying much. I don't get the off-white and metal combination of Hilton Barcelona - it looks cold and unwelcoming. I really feel like I'm sleeping in a school cafeteria! And an over-priced one at that. The sandwiches were ordinary, the salads were too sour, and the fruits on the desserts weren't sweet. But I love their extra-fluffy towels and robes, as well as their Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries.

I'll post pictures after I take a short nap.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Living without Mercy



I've been working from home since Monday because one of our helpers, Mercy, went home to her province.

I love working from home! I get so much work done because I don't have to spend time travelling. I have complete control of my time - I can start working immediately after breakfast and take a cold shower in the middle of the day when the summer sun is at its peak. I also don't have to worry about what clothes to wear! My only problem with it is that all our office software run a bit slower and it takes more time to retrieve emails and handle files.

I'm actually a bit sad that I'll be going back to the office tomorrow - Porkchop will definitely miss our morning walks! But it's not consistent with our office policy to have people working from home (at least not when we're still creating a corporate culture.) It's also helpful to interact with my officemates from time to time as we learn a lot from each other.



Speaking of Porkchop, she really must think that she's a human princess. While being the poster-girl for supreme laziness, she has found a way to communicate with us. When she's feeling warm (which is all the time this summer) she parades in front of the fan and makes funny noises until we turn it on. She also stares at the freezer until we give her ice cream. She goes to our bathroom and stares at the faucet when she needs a drink. She knocks on the door when she needs to get out of the room. She's such a brat, but the way that she's trained us is just so amazing!

So what's it like living without Mercy? We've been eating lots of pizza, our room's a mess and my back hurts after washing the dishes. I so miss our daily breakfasts in bed as we eat all our meals in the kitchen. (So now you know where Porkchop gets her princess-complex from.)

Monday, March 31, 2008

I am an ESTP!

Joey tagged me and suggested that I take an online personality test. She said that the results are eerily accurate in her case.

As for me, the results are almost the same as the results I got from the guidance office way back in college! Does that mean that I didn't grow up?

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saved by the Flowers


I attended a primer on lighting yesterday in what promised to be a beautiful eco-resort. The pictures in its website were so breath-taking and from the write-up you can imagine a place where nature and leisure were perfectly combined in a comfortable Philippine-style resort.

The seminar was supposed to start at 9 so we planned to leave early, with me picking up my first passenger (3 attendees rode with me) at 6:15 at the McDonald's branch near our house. By 7 AM, we were out of Manila. Unfortunately, the road works at the South Luzon Expressway and the terrible traffic at Calamba and Los Banos town proper stretched the 1.5 hour trip into a long journey of 2 hours and 45 minutes. I was happy to have offered rides to my co-attendees, as we enjoyed chatting along the way. (I wasn't planning to take passengers but when I saw the carpool details, I noticed that all the pick-up places where in Makati. I knew that there were some people coming in from Quezon City, so I posted an invitation at our forum. Their contribution for the gasoline and toll expenses also made my wallet happy.)

After the long drive, we were excited to see the place - but I already felt disappointed the minute we entered its gates. There were no directional signs, no one was there to welcome us, and the road we were supposed to take was blocked by a jeepney. This meant that we took the wrong road and had to make a challenging U-turn at the end of it. The main dining area was so-so. The ceramic birds hanging from the nipa ceiling were a bit interesting but the linens were too tattered for my taste and the china and utensils were probably bought second hand from a cafeteria that closed in the 50s. Its only saving grace was that the whole structure was covered by a screen that effectively blocked out the mosquitos.

We transferred to a conference room for our seminar. It was nothing special but it had adequate airconditioning and its washroom had running water, soap and toilet paper. This place served as our little haven against the offensive summer heat and that wreck of a washroom near the dining area that had wet floors and sinks that only had slime for soap. If asked to describe the eco-resort in a sentence, I would have just said that I was thankful that I'm not staying overnight.




When we were sent out to take pictures, I was uninspired by the huge GREEN pool, and the team building area which was bare except for the tires on the grounds. But the flora and the fauna were of a different class. Nature seemed compelled to make up for the unchic shabbiness of the resort - the flowers were beautiful and the plants looked so healthy even with the spiders and all those cute little bugs. They all stood proudly and welcomed the sun in all their colorful glory. As I took some shots of the flowers (which were a bit of a challenge since I didn't want to pick them out of their branches,) I was thankful for the existence of the resort, at least someone will be taking care of all those beautiful plants.

++++++++
If you're wondering about how the seminar went - a lot of attendees arrived late because of the traffic so the seminar started at 11 am. As expected, the primer gave me several light-bulb-over-my-head moments. It also strengthened my belief that I'll never have the patience required of a professional photographer. My co-attendee and I were joking that if we were to set up the lighting and do all the necessary computations, the sunset shot that we're supposed to take will turn into a night shot. The other attendees didn't seem to have any problems with all those processes, though.

Friday, March 28, 2008

B, b and CCME!

It's B's birthday today!!!



As tradition dictates, B brought food for his officemates today. Since I was busy this week, I was not able to order from my favorite caterers (Amber, Tita Len's, or Conti's.) So, yesterday, I crammed and surfed for caterers that can whip up meals for 20 people in a day's notice. And I found one!

I got the name CCME Homemade Foodstuff from an old thread at Newlyweds@Work. It was just mentioned once so I searched the net for reviews. While I did find a couple of blogs saying that CCME prepared yummy food, there were no details given. I then visited CCME's website, and while it was not aesthetically beautiful, I loved it for its contents! Everything was there - their menu, prices, location and contact details. Even better, they have a form for ordering online! Their prices are so reasonable and they deliver for free. I ordered food and fervently prayed that they send us edible meals.

I do not regret ordering from CCME. In fact, I told B that if we need to entertain a large number of people at home, we'll just order from CCME.

They delivered our lunch promptly. And the food was very good, specially if you consider the price!

We ordered 2 kilos each of kalderetang baka, lechon kawali, steamed prawns, laing, pancit sotanghon and 2 gallons of rice. It was more than enough for 20 people and we only paid a little over P3,000! They even gave us free puto.

The kalderetang baka was my favorite. The beef was tender, the potatoes were soft but not overly so, and the sauce was perfectly seasoned. It was the best kalderetang baka I've ever tasted.

The laing was not far behind. I don't usually eat this dish but one of the blogs that I read said that CCME's laing was really good so I ordered one. It was heavenly - it had the right amount of coconut milk and it didn't taste like I was eating a plant! It was only moderately spicy upon my request (B's officemates didn't like spicy food) but they sent siling labuyo that you can mix in with the dish if you want to spice it up. Next time I want to eat laing, I'll order one from CCME.

The steamed prawns were fresh. I didn't get any allergies from them and the prawns were cooked with the perfect combination of butter and garlic.

The lechon kawali and sotanghon were not exceptionally good but for the price we paid, they were definitely worth the price.

[For dessert, we brought a tub of Vanilla Blue Bunny Ice Cream. As expected, every one loved it!]

We placed a separate order for our afternoon snacks - we ordered more sotanghon and pancit bam-i for the department that B used to work with. For his current department, we ordered arroz caldo at P20 per serving. The delivery wasn't as prompt as our lunch, but the arroz caldo more than made up for the 5-minute wait. It was delicious! They placed different condiments (whole boiled eggs, calamansi, crunchy garlic, onion leaves and fish sauce) in different containers. The arroz caldo which had large pieces of chicken in it was placed in 2 giant containers of mayo. I loved them even better for recycling those containers! We enjoyed mixing everything together. The chicken was tender, the arroz caldo was still hot when it was delivered and it just makes for a perfect comfort food. It really tastes homemade, it made me remember the arroz caldo that Nanay Lilia used to cook for me when I was little. The consistency was perfect - hindi malapot, hindi malabnaw.

CCME is truly a good find. And for the price we paid, I really feel like I've found a gem!

[For dinner, Mama brought home food from Spring Deer resto. It was another delicious meal. Hopefully, it will be the subject of another post.]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not too Busy to Answer Yen's Questions of the Week

I haven't been blogging and blog-hopping much lately. I've shot some photos but I haven't downloaded them from my CF card. I'm a bit busy at work and I also spent a lot of time helping ate Janet with her real estate purchase. I had a few free hours this morning but I had to prepare for B's party at the office tomorrow - he's celebrating his 35th birthday! He's just not ecstatically happy tonight since he didn't win the lotto. Hehe.

Anyway, here are my answers to Yen's Questions of the Week. It's time to get mushy!

1. Have you ever had a summer romance? Care to share?

Yes, a million years ago - an era before law school and braces, a time when a vacation costs less than P1000.

2. Do you believe in love at first sight?

No. I always look for constancy, and you don't see that at first sight.

3. ‘You don’t marry someone you can live with, you marry the person who you cannot live without.’ What do you think of this quote?

The first part is not entirely true - it is important to marry someone whom you can live with! You'll have to know the imperfections of the one you're going to marry and decide if you can stand to experience these imperfections every single day. There's a big possibility that these imperfections will never go away.

The second part sounds nice and romantic but it only applies to people who don't feel complete without a mate. People should be able to live without their spouses! Only a small percentage of couples get to live and die together. Living with each other is more meaningful when you both know that you can live without each other but choose to live with each other anyway.

4. Where does true beauty lie? On the inside or on the outside?

If you're truly beautiful inside, it will manifest on the outside.

5. Did you ever had a crush on a classmate or teacher? Who was it?

Yes, a million years ago - an era before law school and braces, a time when a vacation costs less than P1000. Does this sound familiar? Hehe.

6. Summer wear - shorts or capris?

Shorts

7. Would you ride a roller coaster or sky dive?

Both, but if I had to choose, I would sky dive. I've ridden roller coasters before but I have never tried sky diving.

8. Last stupid thing you have done?

I do stupid things everyday. I brought my camera to work everyday except today, when the sunset was perfect.

9. Any summer plans? Trips, vacations and etc. Where?

I'll be in Barcelona for a few days this April on a business trip. I'll extend my stay for 3 days so I can go around and take pictures of the city.

10. In one word, define yourself!

Sunny.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone



This Easter made me realize that I need to get out of my comfort zone.

It started with little things - learning how to use an external flash, one of our helpers taking a vacation so we have to help with household chores in the next few weeks, attending Easter mass inside a hospital instead of the church (B's dad is confined at a hospital - I hope he gets well soon!), and having to live with a budget as we expect tons of expenses these coming months. While attending the Easter mass, I realized that I may really have to get used to the idea of having a younger brother (fatherlily is rumoured to have sired one recently) and that time will come that I will have to contribute to his living expenses. B and I have been putting off having a baby as we couldn't imagine the amount that we'll need to raise one. I now realize that I might actually inherit one from fatherlily. If I really have a baby brother, I guess I'll have to make sure that his life is as comfortable as mine and that he gets the best education available.

I really have a lot to be thankful for and I guess it's time for me to share my blessings, even if I need to get out of my comfort zone in order to do so.

On a lighter note, for our Easter dinner, B and I decided to have a light supper at Harbour View, an inexpensive restaurant that juts out into Manila Bay. We enjoyed a plate of calamari and fried chicken while enjoying the beautiful sunset that Manila is famous for. We only spent P800 (roughly $20) for our meal but we still had lots of laughs while enjoying the view.



I hope you all have a blessed Easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

B is for Biik


Sheesh. I feel like a real pig. All I did since Thursday was eat and sleep. B was teasing me earlier saying that I seem to really enjoy my 3 sleeps a day (a morning nap, an afternoon nap and my 8-hour sleep.) And he's right!

I guess after being sick and then immediately taking the long road trip to Pangasinan, my body needed to rest. And after 3 days of sleeping, I feel recharged!

Hehe. Now, I'm justifying my laziness.