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?


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!


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.

Yen's Questions of the Week

Now that I'm back to blogging, I'm going to try answering Yen's Questions of the Week. She's on her 11th week but I'm joining in, anyway.

1. What was the last movie you bought/rented?

I haven't bought movies in a long time! B and I just keep on downloading from the net. I've also started swapping movies with my officemates - I now have Orange Days and War of Money with me, both of which are Asian TV series.

2. Have you ever gone too far on a dare?

I haven't gone on a dare since college and that was 20 million years ago! I was a coward then (still am now) so I guess I've never gone too far.

3. Can you sing the alphabet backwards?

No. I just tried doing it and just found out that I can't.

4. Are you allergic to anything? What?

Dust, cement, pollen - they make breathing difficult for me.

Not-so-fresh seafood - I break out in hives and look like a shrimp when I eat them.

But I still eat anything I want and go anywhere I please - that's what allergy meds are for. Hehe.

5. Do you cry at weddings?

Not all the time. But I've cried in a wedding or 2.

6. Name one person you want to hug right now. Why?

B! I just want to hug him all the time.

7. Hair - natural or colored?

Natural. I used to have my hair colored but I was too O-C and felt that I needed to have my roots colored every 2 weeks. I had my stylist color my hair black and never had my hair colored again.

8. Do you like camping?

When I was much younger, I loved camping, but now I can't survive without a clean toilet and airconditioning. Sheesh, I really am old.

9. Most annoying TV commercial?

Anything with Kris A. on it. I just don't like her.

10. Favorite place to shop?

SM and Landmark! I find everything I need in these stores and they have the lowest prices. I rarely buy branded stuff so these stores are perfect for me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back from Hundred Islands

Pangasinan doesn't have 100 islands . . . it has at least 123! And a day in Hundred Islands is worth the 5-hour drive from Manila.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

10 March 2008

It was my birthday! I decide to enjoy my birthday by taking a break from work (as if I need it!). I took a leave and spent most of the day in bed (which I do most Sundays, but hey, it was my birthday, and I don't want to hear any complaints about it.)

Porkchop decided to join me on my lazy day. I tried taking pictures of her but she was uncooperative. After all, she felt that it was her birthday, too.

I took time reading the birthday greetings on my phone and my email. I went back to sleep when I got tired reading.

I did have to go back to the doctor's clinic for my follow-up check up late in the afteroon but I didn't stress myself over it. I went there when I felt like it, plopped down on the sofa in his waiting room and slept until it was my turn.

I met with B after going to the doctor. We had sushi and more sushi at a nearby place for appetizers. I also bought some oolong tea leaves for myself. As soon as we got home, MIL served us huge steaks for dinner! The meat was tender and it was so perfect with the gravy. My tummy couldn't be happier.

So what's the point of this entry? Nothing. It was my birthday and I get to be boring and pointless.

11 March 2008

I guess I enjoyed my birthday too much that I got a little sad when I realized it was over. But this made me happy:

My officemates wrote greetings on tiny sheets of paper and pinned it on my wall! Isn't that sweet?

12 March 2008

I get a little stressed as I learned that I needed to be in Barcelona by April 9, which is 17 working days away. I need 14 working days to get a visa, and I need to secure a formal invitation from Barcelona for that. Sigh.

To relieve my stress, I eat a "by-pass delight" lunch with officemates - deep-fried pork knuckes, bulalo (broth with beef marrow), sisig (A Philippine delicacy - deep-fried pork unmentionables; or according to B, deep-fried-pork-bits-that-the-pig-would-rather-keep-private-but-we-eat-them-anyway), a cup of rice, and for dessert, halo-halo (sweetened bananas, coconut, and other fruits, with shaved ice, milk, sugar and flan.)

13 March 2008

We brought a visitor from our Chicago office to Sonya's garden for lunch. Sonya's garden is a garden-resto in Tagaytay. With the infrastructure works on the highway, it took us 2 hours to get there (we also had to pass by a studio to have my picture taken, I needed passport-sized pictures for my visa application.) The setting in Sonya's garden was worth the 2-hour trip. The chandeliers in the greenhouse were beautiful, the decors were fabulous, and the food . . . was healthy. I'm sure all those vegetables did wonders for my body and I have to admit that the salad dressing and the pasta sauce were yummy, but I felt that the salad-pasta combination doesn't count as a full meal. It's a good thing that they also served tea with fresh leaves (which I loved, but our guest didn't dare drink.) I ended up gobbling up an egg tart on the way back to Manila.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Me and my bag

Yup, this is still about my new camera bag.

I still need to iron the flap but I love it already. Even my laptop can fit inside!

And for those who want to see what's inside my tracy joy bag:

There's still room for an external flash, and my other accessories (extra battery, storage cards, filters, and my really small tripod.)

What's in the box?

After weeks of waiting, it finally arrived!

[Photo taken on 07 March 2008, the minute I stepped out of the post office!]

Actually, it arrived in the Philippines on 27 February, but I was in Tokyo at that time. And since I got sick, I didn't return to work until 06 March. So it was only then that I saw the notice to get my package from the post office. I would have rushed to the post office the minute I got it, except that: (a) I had lots of work to do; and (b) I didn't have any government-issued ID with me (which I needed to present to the post office when claiming my package).

And so, on Friday, I made a quick visit to the Taguig City Post Office (which wasn't easy to find - had to ask for directions twice) and claimed my parcel. The post office looked as old as the sun, but the people there were helpful and I never had to wait in line for anything. It just took me 5 minutes to claim my parcel and that already included lining up at the cashier to pay the fees and going through customs to have it cleared.

So what's in the box?

My new camera bag - it's pretty and light, but it can carry my camera, my lenses and other accessories (my media cards, extra battery and even a small tripod). Not only that - it also comes with an extra flap!

It's definitely worth the wait (and the trip to the post office!)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Welcome to the Funny Farm!

There are sheep on my bed and cows on my feet:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Photo of the Day - My Comfort Food

It started when I was a kid and I had been sick for days. My mom served me grapefruit and I got well immediately after. It was probably not the grapefruit that cured me (although I guess the vitamin C helped) but after that, every time I get sick, I always feel a little better when I get to eat grapefruit.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Home Alone

All the excitement probably weakened my resistance. On Sunday evening, I started coughing my lungs out! The next day, I felt so weak and wobbly from all the coughing that I decided to see my doctor. He prescribed several meds and told me to avoid cold drinks and to have plenty of rest. I'm now in my second day at home and I am so getting bored!

I still managed to take some shots, though.

March 2 - I just had to take pictures of B's new toy, Soundwave. It's an MP3 player

that transforms into a robot! Isn't that so cool?

March 3 - I spent half the day in bed and the other half waiting for my turn at the doctor's clinic. While I was in bed, sheep kept me company.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Made in Japan

Here are some pics from my Tokyo trip:

25 February 2008 - my room at the ANA Intercontinental hotel, my home for 5 days.

My first meal in Japan - I checked in the hotel right before the sunset. After unpacking my things, I walked around the vicinity of the hotel. Japan looked clean and colorful, with all its neon signs and vending machines (there are probably 2 on each corner!) Too tired to have a full meal (I was lugging around my clothes on top of the 300 copies of the brochure), I decided to join the numerous professionals who pop in one of the convenience stores to grab a sandwich. I get lucky and get the best shrimp sandwich I ever tasted and tried on one of the Japanese juices, lemon peel and honey.

26 February 2008 - Japanese trinkets sold on the way to Senso-ji temple is Asakusa.

My favorite shot - fashionable Japanese girls on their way to Senso-ji temple

An interesting site - a caucasian dressed in a kimono being interviewed in front of the 200-lb bell at the entrance of Senso-ji temple

Still in Asakusa, a Japanese woman starts her day.

27 February 2008 - inside the Tokyo National Arts Center. The building was just so beautiful with its curved lines and the amazing shadows they create.

Shibuya Crossing is the world's busiest intersection. 6 streets meet at the center and all pedestrians area allowed to cross at the same time.

28 February 2008 - sunset at the Imperial Palace. The grounds of the Imperial Palace were so huge that we decided to just stroll around the water fountain and the nearby park. I found the sunset more beautiful than the fountain.

The sunset reflected on the building behind the fountain.

This was taken by the palace wall.

29 February - rush hour at the Shinjuku station; this station is said to be the busiest station in the world, with 2 million people passing through it everyday. I went there at 8:45 AM and literally got confused with the hundreds of people rushing to work.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

G's prom

I wasn't able to rest the day after I arrived from Tokyo, it was the day of G's prom. After lunch, I brought her to the parlor so she can have her nails, hair and make-up done. We spent several hours there but at the end of the day, all our efforts have paid off - she looked so perfect on her prom night!