Monday, October 30, 2017

October hodgepodge

October had its fair share of sad moments. Two very good friends their dads. Both of them live in the US now so they had to fly back to Manila. I made sure to go to both wakes. Hopefully my presence there was able to provide some support and solace to my grieving friends.

October also had its fair share of firsts. It was the first time I visited Estrel's in Quezon City. Estrel's is very well-known in Metro Manila for their caramel cakes but in this case, I was actually after their leche flan. I tried it once before a few years back and I really liked it. I had been meaning to buy some for myself but I never got around to it. At least not until early this month. The place was full of people when I got there but thankfully it seemed that almost everyone was after the caramel cake since their leche flan was still available. I left the place with three - one for my family, one for my grandma, and one for me. :)

It was also the first time I got to try Tim Hortons. While walking around in the Glorietta area one weekend, I saw a Tim Horton's right next to Anson's near Shangri-La Makati. I'm a big fan of coffee and donuts so I decided to have my afternoon snack there. I realized when I was there that they serve bagels, of which I am also a fan, so I ended up having an early dinner instead. I ordered an Italiano bagel, a Chocolate Graveyard donut (their limited-edition Halloween donut which was only available in October), and coffee. I really enjoyed my food.

I also ended up getting a dozen donuts which I brought home to my family but what I realized was that the Tim Hortons donuts don't last as well as Krispy Kreme or J.Co. A few hours after my purchase, the chocolate glaze on some of them had somehow slid off. Given this, I would recommend eating chocolate glazed donuts as soon as you order them.

While this one is not a first per se, it was the first time in more than two years I think that I didn't have a single game night in the entire month. My friends actually organized a game night in mid-October but I was unavailable on the scheduled date so I had to miss it.

I managed to watch one movie this month: The LEGO Ninjago Movie. I actually enjoyed this film more than the first LEGO Movie. I found the premise to be quite interesting - the hero is actually the son of the villain, but unlike The Empire Strikes Back, in this movie, it is the son who knows about the relationship while the father doesn't. It was such a fun and entertaining film to watch. The fact that Jackie Chan was part of the cast made it even more enjoyable for me. :)

Finally, after living on my own for such a long time, it was only this month that I sorted out cooking stuff at home. I bought a 2-burner electric induction hob a long time ago but I never got around to having a kitchen cabinet built for it. That is, until last month when I finally found a contractor that could build one for me. I purchased a stainless steel cooking set - a skillet, a sauce pan, and a pot - and I matched it with a stainless steel set of knives. The first thing I cooked? Instant mac and cheese LOL. I have a couple of cookbooks at home so I now need to start learning how to cook proper meals.

Speaking of food, I also got to spend a wonderful evening with my friends Doms and Zaza in Lugang Cafe in SM Aura. I suggested this place because I hadn't eaten in Lugang Cafe in maybe 7 or 8 years and I suddenly missed that place. Apart from the good food, I also really like the ambience. I think it was the first time that Doms and Zaza got to try this place and they both enjoyed it as much as I did. We capped off the evening with coffee in Coffee Bean before calling it a night.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Lion King is coming to Manila!

To say that I am really excited about this is a massive understatement. Disney's The Lion King musical is coming to Manila and I already got tickets!

I found out in early 2017 that The Lion King would be coming to Manila next year and that tickets would be on sale by October. As it turned out, tickets would be available to the public on November 2 but there would be a pre-sale for Globe subscribers and Visa credit card holders staring October 25. Since I knew tickets would sell very quickly and I might lose a shot at getting good seats, I decided to skip lunch on October 25 and spend that time buying tickets at the nearest Ticket World. The line wasn't that long - there were only 6 people ahead of me - but each person was being served at a snail's pace. By the time I got to the front of the line, the seats I wanted were gone on all the dates that I checked. I was a bit bummed about that but I am happy that I still got decent seat. In any case, the really important thing is that I now have tickets to a show that I had been wishing would make it to Manila for a really long time now.

I got to see The Lion King back in 2001 in London West End during a trip I took to the UK and I was absolutely blown away. I am now really looking forward to seeing it again, this time with my family.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


One of my closest friends, Mike, got married to Reb this month and he asked me to be one of his groomsmen. The wedding was on a Friday so I had to get permission to take a leave without pay (I had just started and I still didn't have any days off yet). Thankfully, my boss approved my request so I immediately told Mike I could be part of his entourage. Shortly after that, he asked me if I could sing mass songs during the church ceremony. Naturally, I agreed. I initially thought that would be it as far as my role during the wedding. As it turned out, I ended up being a lot busier than I had expected, but thankfully, it all turned out great in the end.

photo of the church ceremony taken by my friend Martin

The wedding was on a Friday and I realized I had a bit of a predicament. I can't drive my car on Fridays due to the color coding scheme. While I was trying to figure things out, Mike messaged the entire entourage asking us to join him in his condo right before his wedding so that we could keep him company, help him get ready, and even have a few photos and videos taken with him. I said I would be there and I asked him if anyone else in the entourage confirmed that they would go. That way, I could hitch a ride with one of them from Mike's condo to the church and from the church to the reception. Mike said that some people confirmed but that the worst case scenario would be that I could just borrow his car and drive him to church. I think the moment Mike came up with that back-up, worst-case-scenario option, it started to appeal a lot more to him and he finally decided it would  be best if I would indeed drive his car. He even loaded the wedding drinks in his car's trunk and the plan was for the wedding coordinator to get the drinks from his car during the church ceremony and bring them to reception venue.

On the morning of the wedding, I suddenly got a call from Mike. Apparently, the person making his wedding story video omitted a couple of key details in the video. He was told that the changes and the re-rendering would take a while and that the final video would only be available at around 5pm. Mike asked me if I could sort out the download of the video since he would obviously be unable to manage it himself at that time. He suggested I drive from the church to his condo, download the video from there, then head to the reception venue. While that sounded like a plan, I decided to bring my laptop, a power bank, and a USB drive just so that I had more options.

Fast forward to shortly before the wedding. Forty-five minutes before the church ceremony and we were still in Mike's condo. The photographers wanted to take more photos but I expressed my extreme anxiety since I hadn't had any practice with the band yet and I was worried we would get caught in bad Friday traffic. We finally made our way to the church and thankfully, we got there quite quickly. I now had about 15 minutes to run through 7 songs with the musicians - obviously not enough time but at that point I had to work with what I had. Once I got my cues on when to come in on each song and after getting a few other instructions, I made my way to the back of the church to get ready for my entourage duties.

That turned out to be quite stressful as well. As the principal sponsors started making their way down the aisle, we realized that (1) there was no coordinator with us at the back to help guide us and (2) there were more bridesmaids than groomsmen. Tensions were mounting since we weren't certain what to do and I myself couldn't really stay calm since I was already worried about singing seven songs with almost no practice with the musicians. Thankfully, one of the groomsmen seemed like he had been through stuff like this in the past. He calmed people down and assigned 2 bridesmaids per groomsman. I was so on edge that I started walking at a pretty fast clip so the two ladies who were with me had to tell me to slow down. As soon as Reb made her way down the aisle, I headed over to the musicians area.

It was a few minutes after that when I had to sing the first song, See Ye First, and I immediately felt the intense difficulty of not having had any decent practice with the band. I was trying to pick up the tempo from how they were playing but apparently they had the same idea and they were trying to adjust to my timing. As such, we ended up trying to feel our way through it too much that the song ended up being so long drawn out. The second song, Take and Receive, started out that way as well, but midway through the song, one of the musicians picked up on my discomfort so he started dictating the timing and I immediately followed. After that, the musicians started controlling the tempo of the rest of the songs and we managed to make it through. Not my best performance by any stretch of the imagination but that's what you get when you don't have time to rehearse properly.

At the end of the church ceremony, I started to think that the only problem left was the video that I still had to download. However, Mike pulled me into a conversation he was having with his dad and the coordinator regarding the drinks. Apparently, the coordinator's vehicle was caught in traffic but the drinks that were in Mike's car had to be brought to the reception venue immediately. That meant that I wouldn't be able to go Mike's condo anymore to download the video. (Good thing I had the foresight to bring my laptop with me. I also felt that if I couldn't download the video from my laptop, I could just beg or even pay the venue to download the video for me.) I drove to the reception venue with the coordinator and the drinks but by the time we got there, parking was completely full. Oh no! I told the coordinator to just bring the drinks down and I then proceeded to look for a space to park. I was getting very desperate so when I saw a guard, I begged him to help me with parking options, telling him that I still had a lot to do for the wedding. He must have seen the very panicked and stressed look on my face because he very nicely held a parking slot for me, telling all other guests that the spot was reserved. Wow! I am so glad I asked that guard for help.

photo of our table at the reception taken by my friend Me-ann

It was past 6 when I settled down at the reception venue and I contacted the video guy, who said that the video was still rendering. Not good. I ask him what time he expected the video would be ready and he said it might be around 7pm. I knew that the video would be shown at 8pm so there was a bit of time. I set up my laptop and tethered it to my phone so that I would be ready to download the video as soon as the link was emailed to me. I checked my data usage and thankfully, I didn't really use a lot of data in October so I could afford to download even a huge file.

I had to explain to so many of my friends who passed by our table (which was next to the buffet spread) that I wasn't working and that my laptop was on because I was sorting some stuff out for the wedding. The link finally arrived and thankfully, it was nowhere near as large as I thought it would be so I successfully downloaded it in just a few minutes. I watched and listened to it to ensure that it would play properly and it did. I copied it into a USB drive, handed it to the coordinator, and I finally breathed a deep sigh of relief. My work for Mike and Reb's wedding was finally done! I felt a great sense of achievement and I was finally able to relax and enjoy the food and the party. After the program, I stayed on so I could catch up with many friends whom I hadn't seen in a while. It was an incredible evening and while there were moments of stress and panic, I felt pride and a huge sense of accomplishment that I was able to do everything that I needed to do. I was also very happy to have been part of the wedding of two very important people in my life.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Adem Dance Crew amazes in Asia's Got Talent 2017

Asia's Got Talent kicked off its second season last weekend and I got to see it. The highlight of the show had to have been Adem Dance Crew from Kyrgyz Republic. (I am like almost everyone who wondered what country it was that they said they were from; I was more familiar with the name Kyrgyztan.)

During the interview, when the guy with the mic said "I think you've never seen this kind of dance before," I was a bit skeptical as to how different their performance would be. When they started doing pop-and-lock moves with some lighting effects in the mic guy's hat, my skepticism started to grow.
Obviously, they were really good but from a uniqueness standpoint, I was thinking "is that it?" Well, apparently it was not. Things just took off in an unexpected and jaw-dropping direction at around the 2:25 mark. The shock value continued all the way until the end. These (I'm guessing double-jointed?) men are flexible beyond belief. Check it out here:

video uploaded in youtube by Asia's Got Talent

That Golden Buzzer from new judge Jay Park was well-deserved. (They also won the Traveloka award, meaning they all get a free trip to Europe.) I decided to check out some of their other videos on youtube and their performances are really incredible. Contortionist pop-and-lockers, what a pretty amazing combination. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of them in Asia's Got Talent.

Adem Dance Crew

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Starbucks Chicken Pot Pie

My favorite pastry at the moment is the Chicken Pot Pie from Starbucks. I discovered it recently when I was looking for something savory to eat that wasn't too heavy. The moment I saw it in the display, I knew I had to order it.

I like this so much that the moment I got over my stomach problems, this was the first thing I ate. :)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stomach problems again

I'm not sure if I ate something bad or I suffered from dehydration (or both) but I ended up with some pretty nasty stomach problems mid last week. I defaulted to my "stomach problem diet" of Sky Flakes, bananas, and Gatorade and Pocari Sweat. I also took a couple of Diatabs capsules. Despite all that, I was still having trouble after 3 days. What was a bit worrisome too was that I felt a very slight cramp on both my legs which kind of made me think that I was still badly dehydrated. Which was a bit strange because I was drinking about 2 to 4 liters of fluids - water, Gatorade, Pocari Sweat, and oral rehydration salts - every day. It was then that I decided to head over to the ER of Makati Med.

I ended up getting my electrolytes checked and thankfully, despite my initial concerns, my electrolytes were normal. I was prescribed medication as well as Erceflora, which is a probiotic (read: good bacteria) that helps in proper digestion. It didn't work immediately but after a few more days of sticking to my diet and taking my medication and Erceflora, I finally got better.

Aside from the misery of being sick and not being able to eat any proper food (or even enjoy coffee), another sucky thing about this was that I had to take a few days of leave without pay. (I don't have any sick leaves yet since I am still new.) I also had to do quite a bit of catching up to do when I finally returned to work. The only good thing that came out from this was that I lost some weight, something I had been needing to do for a while now. Whether or not I can keep the weight off is another matter. :)

Friday, September 29, 2017

September hodgepodge

I haven't really been able to blog a lot in the last month because I've been quite busy, both at work and outside. The highlight of the month has to be my high school reunion. It was a milestone anniversary for my batch and because of that, almost half of our entire class went to the event, with many people flying in from other countries to join in the celebration. It was an amazing party and what made it even more amazing was seeing so many people I hadn't seen in such a long time. I was telling one of my friends that while I am still quite connected to many of my high school friends through social media and I get to interact with some of them every now and then, it was still very different seeing everyone together at the same time. It really was an epic night.

It was great to revisit my alma mater

Having many high school classmates in town at the same time meant that there were several smaller reunions organized right around the main homecoming event. My third year section had dinner at Toast at The 30th Ayala Mall and many of my classmates were able to make it: Trish, Edsel, Flo, Jan, Eugene, Elaine, Mitch, and George. I also had lunch at Marcia Adams in Tagaytay with Mitch and Eugene. I will write more about my lunch in Marcia Adams in a separate post.

Marcia Adams

Kingsman: The Golden Circle was the only film I watched at the cinema this month. This was a sequel of Kingsman: The Secret Service which I absolutely loved so I naturally had to watch this second film. I have to say that I liked the first one more and I think it had a tighter story but The Golden Circle was still a lot of fun to watch.

Two of my newest board games are Scythe and Century Spice Road, both which I brought to my September game night. I had played Scythe once before and I have to say that I really like this game, even if I did end up in last place. :) If the rules were easier to explain, I would probably get more of my friends to play it.


Century Spice Road is also pretty interesting. This one has easier rules than Scythe (it's been compared to Splendor but I don't think they are all that similar in terms of their game play) so I am sure I will play this with my more casual gaming friends.

Century Spice Road

I also brought my family to Niu by Vikings to celebrate my nephew's birthday. My nephews are in their teens and they can both eat quite a lot so I thought a buffet would be a perfect choice. It turned out to be a night of some massive feasting, with everyone heading back to the buffet spread for seconds and thirds (and even fourths). Niu is more expensive than a regular Vikings though so maybe for the next birthday celebration, we will go to a regular Vikings. (I think the difference is mainly that Niu has a few more luxury items and it also has wine but none of us had any wine so we ended up not really optimizing our dining options.)