Thursday, December 22, 2005

Twenty random facts about me

I actually owe this to Tanya who tagged me several weeks ago to do this. Anyway, here are 20 random facts about me.

1. I don't know how to swim. I can move in the water for a few to several meters maybe, but I am holding my breath the entire time so when I run out of air, I'm dead. =)

2. I once broke a tooth during an ice cream eating contest. The ice cream came straight out of the freezer and was rock-hard.

3. I am such a geek that I actually recall (from 2nd year HS biology) the scientific name of the following: rice, corn, dog, cat, lion, tiger, red tide, a certain blood fluke, a certain liver fluke, tapeworm in pigs, tapeworm in cows, gumamela, and makahiya. Yeah, I know, not really something to be proud of.

4. When I was in 4th grade, I co-hosted with June Kiethley for a couple of Children's hour episodes in Channel 4.

5. I drink too much caffeine. I down about 3-4 cups of coffee a day. That's not even counting the coke lights I have...

6. I have a big crush on Hilarie Burton a.k.a. Peyton Sawyer in One Tree Hill.

7. I am allergic to crab meat.

8. My most embarrassing moment happened when I was in college - I forgot the lyrics to the National Anthem while singing it in front of a fairly large crowd. The National Anthem! My God...

9. I have visited 16 countries so far in my life.

10. I actually started playing badminton more than a decade ago, when it wasn't popular yet. At the time, my friends and I were pretty much the best badminton players I knew. Now, I can name dozens upon dozens of people who can kick by butt. Can't believe I have now been left behind! hehehe

11. I am scared of heights and of spiders.

12. My record for number of pan pizza slices eaten at one time is thirteen. Happened during the Pizza Hut Eat-all-you-can days.

13. I have near-perfect vision.

14. When I was 10 years old, I managed to be an extra in a TV commercial. You couldn't really see me - I was in a crowd of kids. Got paid P700 for that short stint on TV. Back then, that was very good money.

15. I am planning to take Spanish and French lessons at some point in the next 1-3 years.

16. I do not know how to play any instrument (I barely got to Grade 1 on piano). And here I am, in an alternative rock band...

17. It's nearly impossible for me to fall asleep before midnight. That only happens when I wake up terribly early in the morning and am dead-tired by the end of the day.

18. You know how the person in a passenger seat of a car is supposed to talk the driver to keep the driver awake while driving? Well, you don't have to do that if I'm driving. Everyone in the car could be asleep for all I care. As long as I get to the play the car stereo, I'm fine.

19. I've done the Shooters in Cocomangas (you know, 15 and still standing) twice in my life already. No more plans to try it a 3rd time.

20. I can wiggle my ears.

Okay, now, who to tag? Dunno really. Maybe Iona, Ching, and well I am not really sure anyone else with a blog reads mine so I leave it at that. =)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Still alive

Yes folks. I haven't disappeared, and I haven't forgotten about my blog either. It's just been the latest in a series of massively hectic months that have all but completely disabled me from keeping people abreast of what I've been up to.

I am feeling kinda sucky that I haven't been able to keep my blog up to date about my recent business trip to Sao Paulo, about the recent rash of weddings and parties I've attended, about the latest set of problems regarding my soon-to-be new pad, about the Christmas gifts I have already received and opened (yeah, low EQ), and about things in general.

Ah well, such is life. I just hope that things get better real quick. I don't think I can remain on turbo-stressed mode for much longer. =)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Celebrating Christmas early

A couple of years ago, I attended a Christmas party on December 6, nineteen days before Christmas. At the time, that was the earliest Christmas party I ever attended.

This year, I broke that record by 3 days. My work friends and I decided to have our little Yuletide get-together on December 3. Not because we wanted to break any records of course. But well, Giselle and Paulo are getting married on Dec 11, so the week before that (which is this week) would be tight for them. Then while they go on their honeymoon, Joh and Raffa would have impossibly tight skeds as well due to their Dec 19 wedding too. And when they head off to their honeymoon after that, Pia will by flying off to Davao. So really, there isn't any time left for us to have our Christmas party.

So there we were- Pia, Raffa, Joh, Che, Tim, Pau, Gi, Peegee, and myself (along with a very late John Q who just showed up right as we were about to leave) - wining and dining in the lobby of the Manila Peninsula. It was supposed to be Partie Noire et Blanche, where we all dressed up in elegant black and/or white clothes, and for the most part it was. Except I was the only one in white and Peegee came in a B&W striped shirt and jeans. =) Paulo commented that having everyone wearing black made it kinda sad, so maybe the next time we have a black and white dress-up party, we assign colors to different people.

We also had our traditional white elephant exchange gift ceremony, but unlike in previous years, this one didn't drag on too long because (1) there were only 9 of us (John Q didn't make it to this part of the evening), and (2) seems either all the gifts were pretty good or people were more content with what they got. The havaianas I brought ended up with Pia, while I got a perpetual dog-calendar, which I felt would look good either on my desk at work or in what will soon be my new flat.

I guess we may have a part 2 though, but maybe without Pau and Gi (and probably Raffa and Joh). Mike, Suzanne and Nenen are all coming to Manila for Christmas so I am pretty sure there will be another party coming up. Wonder though if we'll have another white elephant exchange gift session. I don't have anymore havaianas to give away. =)

(P.S. stay tuned for a post on my recent trip to Brazil for more info on why I had spare havs =))

A good run

After being in the bottom half of the English Premiership for most part of the season, Liverpool have now clawed their way through and are now 3rd in the league, 12 points behind Chelsea with a game in hand, and 3 points behind ManU. I actually thought Chelsea were going to run away with it early in the season, but now I am starting to dream again.

Helps my delusions of grandeur, too, that Liverpool managed to draw against Chelsea twice in Champions League, which means that Liverpool top their group (Chelsea are 1 point behind in 2nd place). A 6th Champions League trophy for Liverpool this season? Heck, why not? =)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Still Oz reunion!

Actually, I shouldn’t call it a reunion because this was actually the first time that my band got to play a full set together. John V left for Singapore last January, and back then, we still didn’t have a bassist (well, we had John Q splitting his keyboard so that one half of it played bass notes while the other was a regular keyboard). John Q hasn’t really been able to play a lot of keyboards due to his tendonitis, but his wrist seems to have healed well enough for him to play at least one full set now.

So finally, last November 13, the whole band got to play as a whole band: Bunky on guitar, Cholo on drums, John Q on keyboards, John V on sax, Oz on violin, Sep on bass, and of course myself on vocals. Imagine that, seven people in a band. Haha, we might as well be an orchestra! But well with us it’s all about enjoying playing together and enjoying the music we play, so even if that means that our talent fee gets split into 7 (not to mention the manager’s fee going to Dex), we don’t really care.

The gig was held in the Edsa Central parking lot, and we played only one set, although this was kind of an audition for something and as such we didn’t get paid for it. But we hadn’t played in almost two months due to busy and conflicting skeds (our last gig was the one in Breakfast, which btw was also for free), and our next gig won’t be until December 9. Plus, we would be complete for the first time, ever. So we decided it would be great to play, even if it was for free and just one set.

Once we got there, though, we almost backed out at the last minute because the other band playing was a showband and we realized that that was so not our crowd. But we decided we were there already so we might as well play.

We changed the sequence of our set just so that we get the audience to pay attention to us from the get-go. So this is how our set looked like: With or without you, #41, Knockin’ on heaven’s door, Grey Street, All I want is you, Where the streets have no name, All along the watchtower, and Ants Marching. We sorted it out that way so that the unfamiliar songs would be placed between popular ones and audience interest in us wouldn’t wane.

Seems to have been a good idea as the audience started cheering once they realized we were playing the intro to “With or without you.” The coolest thing was, even for the songs that they didn’t really know (pretty much all the DMB ones), they were still banging their heads and cheering. It was also great that the audience seemed to figure out our genre as we got requests to do other 80s and 90s rock songs.

By the time we were done, we had put together a pretty decent set. Probably the best set that we played after not playing for a long time (normally, if we haven’t practiced or gigged together in about a month, our first gig is crap, but this one we pulled off pretty well. John V also brought his videocam and Dex got us on tape.

Next stop: Racks El Pueblo, 10pm on December 9!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ocean Adventure

During the first long weekend (Oct 29-Nov 1), I took my family (mom, bro, and two nephews) to Ocean Adventure in Subic. It was a 3-hour drive from Manila and thankfully, the traffic was cooperative.

We left the house a bit late (our planned ETA was 6am but we ended up leaving around 7am) and we actually started off with a massive scare – I got caught in Subic for running a stop sign which we missed seeing since everyone in the car had their eyes focused on looking for the signs indicating how to get to Ocean Adventure. Then it turns out my nephew in the front seat didn’t have his seatbelt on since we had just taken a pit stop and we forgot to put it on him again when we got back in the car. But the worst of it was, apparently my license expired two month ago (naturally I did not pay attention to it during all the hustle and bustle of recent months)! Since no one else in the car knew how to drive, the initial option was that we had to be escorted out of Subic, but my mom was able to talk our way out of it (and honestly, I really wouldn’t have tried to weasel my way out of that situation if it was just me, but we had two kids in the car who would be extremely disappointed if the trip didn’t push through). In the end, we were let go with little more than a slap on the wrist and a warning not to go breaking any more traffic regulations ‘til we got out of Subic. Needless to say I was like a soldier the rest of the way, making sure I didn't run into any more infractions.

But aside from that hiccup, the rest of the day went fantastically well as we got to do practically everything you could do there. We arrived at 1030am, just in time to join the first dolphin encounter at 11am (the next one was at 445pm). My mom was initially thinking of just having the kids participate in the dolphin encounter (it was P2300 per person), but we decided that the kids may need adult supervision with the dolphins so I told my mom and my bro to do the encounter as well.



I decided not to go in anymore since I had already done one in Mexico late last year, and I figured it would be good for me to just take pictures and watch over all the stuff we had while they were in the beach with the dolphins. Ciera ended up getting scared so my mom had to hold him while he was with the dolphin (their dolphin’s name is Loki), but CJ was really excited. It was great too, because the people taking care of the dolphins genuinely cared for them (as they should of course). During the encounter, the dolphins actually sit on shallow part of the beach for a few minutes for picture taking, and the trainer said that Loki was tired of sitting still and wanted to swim a bit so that’s what Loki did before returning to the beach to complete the photo op.

We then had some lunch before heading to the El Capitan Stadium at 1215 to watch the first dolphin and whale show that day. It was great, the dolphins were “walking on water” and jumping several feet in the air. Then the false killer whales came out and started dancing with the trainers and performing all sorts of neat little tricks. At the end of the show, the dolphins and the false killer whales all came out together and jumped out of the water all at the same time. It was a great spectacle. The host then started talking to the audience how we should care for these animals and our environment.


At 1:30 we headed to the Nautilus Theater for the Sea Lion show, and it was great too. They started off the show by having one sea lion lipsync the welcome remarks of the host. I also didn’t know what the difference of seals and sea lions were before: I used to think it was only their size, but it turns out it is also the way they walk on land – sea lions prop up their front body by using their flippers as legs and as such can walk fairly efficiently on land, while seals practically crawl on their bellies. Apparently they are also really strong as they can lift up their entire bodies using just their front flippers (one sea lion even lifted her whole body with just one flipper much like a break dancer!). Then a few more tricks were done before the show was concluded by another lesson on the three Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) and how we should not throw garbage into the oceans as it is the cause of death of tens of thousands marine life every year.


We then headed to the Sea Lion encounter area where my nephews and I had out picture taken with one of the sea lions named Madison. Unfortunately, our digicam ran out of battery so we only have a hard copy of the picture they took of us with their camera (by they I mean Ocean Adventure staff).

After the show, we headed to the Discovery aquarium, which is a collection really well maintained aquariums with an assortment of fish and other sea creatures like sea cucumbers, starfish, and even a lobster. My nephews naturally loved it and kept jumping from one aquarium to the next and back. We left Ocean Adventure at around 230 after what felt like a full day of enjoyment (this also meant that we got to Manila in the early evening). The place is quite expensive actually (even the lunch we had cost quite a bit), and when you compare it to similar facilities abroad, it isn’t as good. However, I think it is a great place to bring kids to (make sure you save for it though), and a great place to have an encounter with a dolphin here in the country (they also have whale encounters, but you have to be at least 8 years old to join that).

The rest of the long weekend was spent chilling out in Oakwood. I booked a two bedroom suite for two nights in Oakwood, and we headed there right after our Subic trip. Once again it was a lot of fun. We had good food and the kids enjoyed swimming in the pool and just running around the room. CJ also started drawing impressions of the animals he saw in Ocean Adventure, and my mom kept them all and decided to put them in a photo album along with the other photos we took of that weekend. After checking out on Monday, we had lunch in Outback because they had this promo where kids in costume got to eat for free. Both CJ and Ciera dressed up in pumpkin costumes. All in all, another great weekend.

Busy, busy, busy...

Hay, it seems to be that time of the year when things just go apeshit and my work-life balance tips too much towards the work side. Anyway, I'm checking in to say that I am alive, and that I am still around, but there hasn't really been enough time to blog. Which is kinda sad since, again, lotsa stuff has been going on. I think last week is the first week that I wasn't able to update my blog at all. Sucks when you realize that you can't even spare half an hour in the entire week for something like that.

Oh well, hope things get better soon.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Respect

Recently, an email about an answer supposedly given by Lara Quigaman in the recently concluded Miss International has been making its rounds. It’s a very interesting exchange and I’m copy-pasting it here:

Q: "What do you say to the people of the world who have typecasted Filipinos as nannies?"

A: "I take no offense on being typecasted as a nanny. But i do take offense that the educated people of the world have somehow degenerated the true sense and meaning of what a nanny is. Let me tell you what she is. She is someone who gives more than she takes. She is someone you trust to look after the very people most precious to you - your child, the elderly, yourself. She is the one who has made a living out of caring and loving other people. So to those who have typecasted us as nannies, thank you. It is a testament to the loving and caring culture of the Filipino people. And for that, I am forever proud and grateful of my roots and culture."

It’s a brilliant answer that not only gives a lot of respect to nannies but also uplifts the Filipino identity on a world scale. However, I’ve been told that this email was a hoax, that Lara Quigaman was actually never asked that question during the competition itself. Someone told me that she may have been asked that during an international press conference and not during the Q&A portion of Miss International.

Whatever the truth is about this e-mail, I am very pleased that it is landing in many an inbox. Primarily because it changes the level of respect that nannies (and people belonging to any other similar profession like maids and drivers) normally get.

People working these jobs, at least in this country, not only work very hard with little pay, but they are also looked down upon (sometimes on an unconscious level) by a lot of people with supposedly “more respectable” careers. One of the biggest insults maids and drivers get is how when someone who doesn’t look all that good is said to be ‘mukhang driver’ or ‘mukhang katulong.’ That is a terribly disrespectful comment on two levels. First, it means the recipient of that comment is looked down upon for not looking as good. Second, and immensely more disgraceful, is that it means that and maids and drivers have been made benchmarks of ugliness.

After all, imagine this. Someone was born into a poor family and is unable to go to school. However, since they don’t really have a lot of money, they decide to try and earn a living to help put food on the table. As they didn’t have enough funds for school, they can’t get any of the so-called respectable jobs. So they work as drivers and maids. Then they spend the entire day taking care of your kids while you are away, cleaning your toilet, cooking food over a hot stove, or waiting for you to get out of work and then driving you through two hours of traffic. And remember, they didn’t have enough money to go to school, so what would give us the idea that they would have the money to buy make-up and nice clothes?

Now, as someone who has had to wait a couple of hours in the car for someone I was picking up and then navigate through Edsa traffic during rush hour, I can safely say that by the time you get out of the car, the stress level actually shows on your face and you couldn’t really care less about anything else, least of all how you look. These drivers and maids and nannies all work to serve you and make your life better, not really having enough time to preen themselves. And why would they? If you had to clean a toilet, would you actually want to put on your best dress and look good for the cameras while doing it? I think not.

I find it really sad then that these people work hard to make your life easier, for a meager sum at that, and we think less of them for the way they look. Of course you can argue that you aren’t degrading maids and drivers when you say someone looks like a driver or a maid. But here’s a question for you – would you make that comment when there’s a maid or a driver sitting right next to you?

As such, I think it’s great that the supposed Q&A with Lara Quigaman is being read by an ever-widening audience as it can hopefully change people’s perspective a bit. I know someone who was once mistaken as the person who cleans rooms when he was in another country and he felt extremely offended by that comment. Now he says that, after reading that email, he no longer feels any less when he is mistaken as a housecleaner. One step at a time, I say, to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sick again

Got sick again last Monday. About a month ago I had to take a sick leave as well. I don't think I've ever had as many sick leaves in a year as I've taken in 05. Must be getting old. Or maybe I'm running myself ragged too much.

Thank God it's just a few more days before the long weekend! Can't wait to just chill out at home and get a bit more sleep than I am used to.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My least boring 10km treadmill run ever

Gold’s Gym had its 3rd Gold’s Olympics last Saturday. There are five teams, comprised of members and trainers, who compete in this event that features five elements – running, relay, bench press, boxing, and group exercise.

One of the trainers, James, was forming a team with the help of my trainer, Marlon. Thursday night last week, I got a call from James asking me if I wanted to run the 10km for their team. The run would be on a treadmill – the guy would run 10km and the girl would run 5km on an adjacent treadmill as soon as the guy finished. I told James that (1) I hadn’t run for two months, and (2) I don't run anywhere nearly fast as a lot of other serious long distance runners. I guess he was out of options (I later found out that his original 10km runner was unavailable at the last minute) so I was the guy. I figured I needed the exercise and it was an interesting thing to be a part of, and it was early on Saturday morning so I wasn’t going to lose my entire day. So I agreed to join.

I ended up finishing last out of five runners (as I expected) but I was quite pleased that I finished in under 55 minutes. Considering I haven’t run, exercised, or played any sport in the last 1 ½ months or so, that, for me, was quite an achievement. Also, I was only about 6 minutes behind the 2nd placer, 4 minutes off the pace of the 3rd placer and 2 minutes behind the 4th placer (I was worried my opponents were all track athletes who would be clocking less than 45 minutes and that I would finish in more than an hour which would have been embarrassing). With everyone watching and giving the runners encouragement, that 10km treadmill run didn’t feel boring at all (and it felt like it was less than 54 minutes too).

The cool thing though was that my partner, Jona (not sure if I spelled her name right) absolutely smashed the competition in the 5km. Her time added to mine put out team in 3rd place overall. In fact, she was so fast that if she pushed herself, she could’ve pulled us up to 2nd, but James told her not to overwork herself since she would be doing 100 abdominals in the relay as well.

At the end of the day, our team ended up 3rd overall, losing to the Black team and the Green team (both of which I think featured a truckload of trainers, we had about 3 or 4 only). It was so much fun that I am actually hoping that I get to join again next year despite my last place showing. Maybe if I train continually for the next year, I can shave off enough minutes off of my 10km time, allowing me to get a callback (hehe I wish!)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Still Oz live on Breakfast!

Chalk up another milestone for me this year – I can now say that I have sung live on national television! Imagine that!

A couple of weeks ago (Wed, Sept 29), my band Still Oz guested on the Studio 23 morning show “Breakfast”. Oz asked us a few days before the show whether we wanted to perform on Breakfast which airs at 630-8am. I am not a morning person and in fact I was terribly busy during that time, but opportunities like this don’t come along very often and I figured I would still make it to work early enough coz Breakfast finishes at 8am and Makati is less than an hour away from the ABS-CBN studio. I guess everyone else in the band thought so too so we all agreed to do the show.

We ended up playing 5 songs, all of them by Dave Matthews Band and U2. The set up was that we would sing 4 partial songs, usually leading to commercial. It’s not really very easy to sing first thing in the morning but I guess my adrenaline was pumping that day as my voice seemed to open up well enough for me to do a good job with all our songs.

The show opened with us playing ‘Ants Marching’. In the middle of the song, the hosts introduced themselves and what was lined up in the next hour and a half. Then later on we did ‘All I want is you’ and ‘Where the streets have no name’, both as segues into adverts. Several minutes later, one of the hosts, Patricia, interviewed us (we all got asked a question and you could see how inexperienced we were as our answers were not the most well-versed or well thought out) before we performed #41, the only song we played in full. We then finished the show with ‘Grey Street’ which we played while the credits were rolliwng. I was pleased about the fact that I managed to hit the 17-second sustain in that song (which still made the show, sort of, as I think the show cut in the middle of me holding that note).

Aside: Strangest coincidence. Oz’s friend who got us to perform on the show is apparently a high school friend of Kathy. As luck would have it, Oz’s friend also got Kathy and her friends to perform fire-spinning on the show (which they do every so often in different venues across the city), and on the same day! Now what are the chances of that happening? =)

All in all, a fantastic experience. Not sure if it’ll ever happen again, but at least now I can say that I’ve sung live on national TV. Now I just need to make sure I get a tape of that show.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Big 3-0 (part 2)

The rest of my birthday celebration was kind of a long weekend. My birthday was on Saturday, and my band had a gig in Racks El Pueblo on Friday night that was going to start at around 11pm. I figured there was a good chance I would be performing on stage when I turned 30, and true enough, I was. Can’t remember exactly which song I was singing at the stroke of midnight, but I knew that it was Sept 24 when I saw members of the Grin team (the volleyball team I coach who watched my gig after their game that Friday night) come up a few feet away from the stage and mouth ‘Happy birthday’ to me when I looked at them.

The gig itself wasn’t all that good technically – we majorly bungled up the intro to “Selling the drama” and well everyone was making quite a few mistakes. I have to say, though, that part of it was certainlty the sound system which sucked quite a bit and in fact my mic died a few times in the middle of a song (especially a couple of times during a cappella parts!). But the audience didn’t seem to mind, and the reception we got sort of mirrored that of 90proof where a huge part of the audience were standing up to watch us perform and even sing along with us (as if, again, it was a concert that they came to watch).

By the time the gig was over, the remaining Grin team whisked me off to their table where a slice of chocolate cake with a candle on top of it was waiting for me, and they started to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. (Earlier in the night, they also presented me with a nice picture of me with the team, and dedications from everyone at the back, Jane had also gotten me the ‘Free yourself’ CD of Fantasia Barrino, which was a whole lot better than I thought it would be, and I’ve been playing it a lot on my car stereo recently). Later that night er early early morning, Bunky realized that it was past midnight and the band and our friends who stayed to watch started greeting me as well. Sep even got me a San Mig light – one for the road – before I headed out.

The next day I got up quite late as I was exhausted from the long week and the long Friday. I then made reservations for ten in Cantinetta, this new restaurant next to Starbucks along Pasong Tamo extension. I learned about this resto from Anton’s blog and he raved about it so I figured it would be good to try it out. I knew it was pricey, but thje plan was that Mitch and I woudl split the bill since Mitch's birthday is just a few days before mine and most of the time we celebrate together.

I picked up Iona and Joyce on the way to Makati, and we got there right on schedule (730pm, as I had reserved). Mitch and Ferg got there shortly after, followed by Mike. Gary and Winnie came a bit later and Anna rounded up the gang. The food was actually very good – from the Tagliatelle, to the mushroom and spinach appetizer, to the different pizzas, to the cannelloni and lasagna. The wine that Ferg picked for us was pretty good too. Cantinetta served us a couple of desserts for free, but as that was clearly not enough for everyone, Mitch and I decided to get one each of the desserts they had.

The next day, Sunday, I took my family to Superbowl in SM Fairview for lunch. Unfortunately, Tatay was sick so he couldn’t join us. Tita Tuds and my cousins Tracy, Troy, and Twinkle were all unavailable too because they only found out last minute about it and already had other plans. So it was just me, Mom, CJ, Ciera, and Nanay in Superbowl. We just ordered extra so that we could bring food to those who couldn’t make it.

Finally, on Monday, I met up with my friends from Nortel in Good Earth in Metrowalk. I was actually sick that day and was on sick leave, but I didn’t want to reschedule so I rested the entire day and felt good enough to head to the Ortigas area at around 630. I arrived in Good Earth at 730 and for the first time, I was the first person to arrive. We all stuffed ourselves silly (the beef chow mein was our favorite dish that night, although everything was good) before capping the night at Coffee Beanery that was just right next door.

I also ended up with a bit more stuff from my wishlist and some other stuff – more starbucks GCs, aftershave gel and shaving cream from Body Shop, a concert ticket to the Company’s 20th anniversary, and a few more CDs: ‘A rush of blood to the head’ by Coldplay, ‘Hopes and dreams’ by Keane, and ‘The best of Sting.’

My Big 3-0 (part 1)

I finally turned 30 a couple of weeks ago! The big 3-0! And the strange thing is that I am actually excited to be 30. I guess it’s because I enjoyed the last 30 years of my life well enough to look forward to next 30 (fingers crossed…)

One of the things that make my life pretty exciting are the great, great people around me. So to commemorate my 30 years on earth, I made sure to celebrate with the different sets of people that have made my life worth living.

The first part of my celebration happened last September 19 with my friends from work. It was a Monday, so not exactly the ideal day for a party, but Mike and Giselle were here and would only be in the country that week, and a few other folks weren’t available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday due to late night meetings. So Monday it was.

Didn’t matter really, coz it was a great party! We held it in Mike’s house and I sorted out the food. Since I don’t cook, I just ordered delivery – Pansit Lucban from Buddy’s and Chicken Wings from Greenwich. I got to Mike’s place at 730 and dropped off the drinks, ice cream, and party stuff. Then I left shortly to get some siomai from Henlin since I wasn’t sure whether the variety of food was enough. By the time I got back, a few folks had already arrived although Mike had left. We started preparing the food, but we decided to wait for the other people who were on the way before digging in.


Turns out the people we were waiting for had a cake for me and they put candles in the shape of #30 on top of it.

Then we started eating – turned out the pansit was quite heavy and all 18 of us there could only eat half of the bilao. The Wacky wings from Greenwich was a surprise find – they were actually quite good, and was the only food item that was fully consumed. People were too stuffed to eat all the siomai and dessert although some of us still managed to have cake ala mode – tiramisu meltdown with Double Dutch and strawberry ice cream on the side.

Then we just chilled out and indulged in a lot of fun conversation and friendly banter. Before the night ended, though, we had a gift-opening ceremony. What made it great was that I managed to get quite a few items from my birthday wishlist which I posted a few weeks ago.

What I got – the Best of U2 1990-2000, a band necklace, Sister Act widescreen DVD, a book on bedroom household management for men (perfect for when I move to my new condo unit in a few weeks), several Starbucks GCs, a couple of Suriya Spa Spot Tension Release back massage vouchers, and Body Shop
Aftershave gel.

So all in all, a fantastic birthday celebration. Wouldn’t have happened if my friends didn’t come: Hannah, Marga, Pia, Che, Paulo, Giselle, Raffa, Joh, Mike, Chris, Shar, John Q, Elaine, Tim, Gio, Peegee, and Nats. The downside was that Meann missed it due to an evening meeting that finished very late, and Simon due to issues at work. But it was still a blast and was a great way to start the upcoming year. =)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Draw again

Another draw. What am I supposed to make of that? I guess it means life ain't too bad but that there is room for improvement.

Liverpool drew their Champions League match against Chelsea in Anfield. Home court advantage didn't do them any good. But at least they prevented Chelsea, current runaway leader in the Premiership and CL favorites, from taking all the points from this game. They get to play against Chelsea again this weekend, this time in EPL. I hope this time they manage to pull off the upset.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Miscellany

Last night, the volleyball team I am coaching, Grin team, played the last game in their best of three finals against the Stingers, the defending champion. Grin team and Stingers had split the first two games, both of which were played in three sets. The game started at 8pm but I had a meeting that finished at that time so when I got to Meralco for the game, they were already in the 2nd set. My team won the 1st set convincingly, 25-10, so they decided to let the rest of the team play in the second set. They ended up losing that set by about four points though, but at least everyone in the team got to play.

The third set was up and down. The Stingers took initiative first, taking an early lead. But good play and placement allowed Grin team to catch up and take the lead midway through the set. Unfortunately, at 19-16 in favor of my team, the wheels came off. The Stinger's star player found her range and took control of the match by blasting several tough spikes and wallop serves. Grin team lost 9 of the next 10 points to lose the set and the championship. Too bad. At least they had lots of fun and all their players got to play in the final game of the series. Til next year!

*****

Mig Ayesa made it to the final 3 of Rockstar INXS last week, but no further. How sad. I am proud of his achievement and I am even more pleased that he thanked his supporters from the Philippines and Australia. And as I guessed, INXS picked JD over Marty to be their new frontman. JD's voice and style match better.

While I am on the topic, I have to say that I don't think Marty is really that good or as great as people rave about. When I look back at some of his performances - Live's "I Alone", Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here", and Radiohead's "Creep" - I just think that he doesn't have the vocal versatility nor the appropriate emotional interpretation when performing (he always has this intense, bugged-out-eyes look). "Trees" was his only performance that I saw that I thought was great. But now that I mention it, maybe he doesn't cover other people's songs very well but he does a kick-ass job of performing his own. So maybe he actually is really good as long as he doesn't cover other people's songs.

*****

Michael Owen is starting to make a move in the Premiership once again. He had a lackluster performance in his first outing in Newcastle. But in his second game, he managed to score a goal with a great header and helped Newcastle win 3-0 over Blackburn. Then he scored the loan goal in their game against Man City helping Newcastle claw its way from the bottom of the league to 10th spot. Great job!

On the otherhand, Liverpool have not had as much success. They managed to hold Man Utd to a draw at home which is not the best result, but it was against ManU so I guess a draw ain't so bad. Unfortunately, they also drew against Birmingham away. They are now in unlcuky 13th place, although they do have a game in hand (or 2 even). At least they are so far doing well in Champions League. Hope Liverpool manage to upend Chelsea tonight!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Band stuff

Last Friday, we played 5 songs in a fashion show in IAME (Bunky and Cholo's previous school). Lots of the their classmates have supported us in many of our gigs so we agreed to play pro bono (although we did get unlimited free drinks which was a good deal). Besides, it was 5 songs only so not really a lot of work.

This Saturday, we are going to have an audition in Ojay's in Eastwood at 730pm. I've never been to Ojay's so don't ask me exactly where it is (I will figure out on Saturday how to get there). It would be fun if we get this gig so that we have a venue outside Makati for a change. But I don't really know what type of crowd goes there, so I'm not entirely sure they will appreciate our music.

Then on Sept 23 (Fri next week), we will have a gig in Racks El Pueblo. There will be three bands playing that night, and I don't know yet exactly what time we go on. Since three bands are playing, we will be on for only one set.

The good thing though is that despite the hectic sked, we aren't really playing 2-3 sets each time (or at least not yet), so it is still not as tiring as two 3-set gigs in a month.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tennis recap

After losing four grand slam finals (three of them to her compatriot, Justine Henin-Hardenne), Kim Clijsters finally shakes off the title "best player never to have won a Grand Slam" by trouncing Mary Pierce 6-3 6-1 in a little over an hour last Saturday to win the US Open. By doing so, Kim won $2.2 million ($1.1 M for the US Open title plus a 100% bonus for also winning the US Open series). This is the biggest paycheck in the history of women's tennis!

  • Aside from this fantastic record, here are a couple of other statistics:
  • Kim has now won 7 titles this year, more than any other woman so far
  • She also goes up to #3 in the WTA rankings
  • However, based on points won this year alone, she leads everyone else, including #1 Maria Sharapova and #2 Lindsay Davenport
  • With her huge paycheck, Kim also now has earned more money than anyone else on tour

Now that she's won, I am hoping she starts winning at least a couple more slams (perhaps the Australian Open next year). She didn't seem as nervous as she used to in Slam finals against Mary, apart from two consecutive games in the 1st set where she made multiple errors and barely won a point. But now that she has one Slam neatly tucked under her belt, the floodgates may have just opened for her.

******

Congratulations go out to Roger Federer for beating Andre Agassi in the final to win his 2nd US Open and 6th slam overall. Congatulations as well to 35 year old Andre Agassi for getting to the finals, winning three 5-setters in a row.

******

If there was an award for the ugliest tennis shirt, though, it has to go to the shirt worn by Dominik Hrbaty. He was actually asked about his shirt and he laughed about it and said something to the effect that maybe the designers thought that the holes at the back of the shirt were good for letting air in or something (although I don't think it's good for tan lines). If you don't believe me, check this photo out:


Coach

Interesting little thing. Last year, Mitch asked me if I could coach her volleyball team in their inter-department ladies volleyball competition. Naturally I agreed. They have a really good team actually, and last year they placed second, narrowly losing in the last set in the finals.This year, Mitch asked me if I could coach them again. My sked has been a bit tight as of late, but I figured I might be useful to them as a coach for at least a couple of games.

Tuesday night last week was their first tough game, against the defending champion. My team though buffed up their line-up: they have a new player who can spike and has great placement, and one of the players in last year’s champion team was reassigned to another division so she was now in my team. The defending champs though weren’t as strong as they were last year, so on paper, my team looked to be in a better position to win.

I got there in the middle of the first set, which they won comfortably 25-16. In the second set, however, their opponent started getting in the groove. With several strong serves from arguably the best player in the league, their opponents managed to take the lead late in the set and held on to it, winning 25-22.

The third set was a different story. With several well-placed shots and great ball control, my team built a big lead early in the set, and they just never looked back. A 6-point lead grew to 10 and by the end of the set they won very comfortably, 25-11. It was a very well-played game, and an exceptional third set.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Birthday wishlist

It's a couple of weeks 'til my birthday, and I decided to put up my wishlist in my blog. I got this idea from Dale. If you are interested in getting me something but don't want me to know, please leave an anonymous comment saying which item you intend to get me so that others no longer get me that item. Warning: some of the CDs might be hard to find:

DVDs (non-pirated):

  • X-men 2
  • Babe
  • Chicken Run
  • Sister Act
  • Sister Act 2
  • A few good men
Note - for the DVDs, please get my the widescreen edition. If you can't find a widescreen edition, please get me something else na lang. =)

Music CDs (non-pirated please):

Note - the CDs with * are the ones which I think should be easy enough to find.

Others (these items pwede more than one ang makuha ko):

  • Body Shop For Men Aftershave Gel
  • Rustan's GCs (I need to buy a lot of new pants but I'd like to fit them myself first so GC na lang)
  • Starbucks GCs
  • Band accessories, like a cool necklace or bracelet
  • Suriya Spa GC for Spot-tension release back massage (I don't like having full body massages so the back one will do)
(Update: I already got a few Aftershave gels to last me a while so I am striking this one off in the meantime. =))

They don't make gigs like this everyday (part II)

You can read about the first set of this incredible gig in my previous post. As for the rest of the story that night, read on… After our first set, we took a break and the band Bridge played one set. We had known that there would be two bands that night, and before we played, Bunky shared some concerns about the fact that Bridge covered similar songs to us, mainly those of Dave Matthews Band (DMB) and Sting.

So we were jolted when we heard Bridge play Sting’s “It’s probably me” then Bob Dylan’s “All along the watchtower” (although we do DMB’s version of this song) both of which were part of our 2nd set playlist. We were supposed to play 11 songs in the 2nd set, and since we didn’t want to play the same songs that Bridge played, we were now down to 9 songs. We were rushing to figure out what other 2 songs to put in when Oz told us that management said we had time for only 8 songs in the second set. We looked at our playlist and we decided to take out Poison’s “Every Rose has its thorn” since it was the slowest song we had that set.

I quickly show Oz the final playlist of the set, and he gives me a look like he’s not satisfied with it. We were about to go on, so I just told him let’s just play each song as well as we can. I myself was worried that we wouldn’t be able to live up to our last 3 songs of the 1st set, but those worries were soon put to rest the moment we started. Here’s a run-down of what we performed

“Lightning crashes” by Live. This is one of my favorite songs and one of the first ones we learned, so sing this is almost second nature to me. Since Oz didn’t seem confident in our set-list, I felt that I needed to sing this song well enough that it sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Sep had insisted that I stand up, partly to give us more space on stage and partly so that we would have more passion while performing. I’m glad that Sep insisted on this as it freed me up a bit more and allowed me to be more intense and use my vocals and my range a bit more. By the time I hit my first high note, there was an unmistakable vibe from the audience. And when song built up and became more powerful, we knew that we had picked up from where we left off.

“Bright lights” by Matchbox 20. We’ve gotten great response from our audiences with this song in the past, and tonight was no exception. The cool thing was, when we were learning Beatles songs for Ray’s wedding way back in January, Bunky realized that the instrumental part at the end of Bright Lights had the same chords as “Hey Jude”. Since then, we had been playing the “Na na na na na na na… Hey Jude” part of that song during the instrumental of “Bright Lights” and each time, the audience would start singing with us as they also did that night.

“Grey Street” by Dave Matthews Band. This was the only song that we played in the second set that was never released into the mainstream. But the song has such a great riff and tempo to it that it didn’t matter that almost no one in the audience knew the song. They still gave us a massive ovation once we were done. It was at this point that I realized that everyone in the bar was actually watching us. It wasn’t like we were background music anymore. At that point, the whole gig had the feel of a concert where everyone came there to watch us perform.

“Better man” by Pearl Jam. By the time we played this song, I knew that we had the set in the bag. This song was something that we generally did okay with, but we were already zoned by the time we played it that all of a sudden it felt like it one of the best songs we play. In fact, I saw Dex signal to me to try and ease up a bit as he was worried that I might be straining my voice too much. But my voice felt so strong that night that I knew it would hold up the rest of the set.

“One” by U2. 90proof crowd is an 80’s crowd, and as such a lot of people there are fans of U2. This is one of the most passionate songs that we do, and the atmosphere was electric while we were performing. I could hear the audience sing “Love is a temple, love’s a higher law…” along with me and when we were done, the audience had given us wild applause for the 8th song in a row that night.

“Knockin’ on heaven’s door” by Guns n Roses. We’ve never played this song and not have the audience sing along with us during the chorus. I recall looking at the audience right before we got to the chorus and I could see so many of them gearing up to sing “hey, hey, hey yeah yeah.” The instrumental bit though was absolute magic. Oz opened up the instrumental with his solo and Mano then followed suit on percussions, both of wowing the crowd. The cool thing during this solo was that Bunky started playing percussive guitar along with Mano thus enriching the sound quality. The audience was going crazy the entire song! It was uncanny.

“With or without you” by U2. We had put this song in to replace “Where the streets have no name” after we moved it to the 1st set. And it was the right decision to add "With or without you" to the playlist. The response we got from the crowd on this song was immense! It felt like everyone there sang along with us from the very first note. That has never happened to us in any gig, so it felt like we had broken new ground while performing this song.

“Ants marching” by Dave Matthews Band. Anyone who’s seen us perform before would know that we almost always cap off our night with this song. That night, we were all playing out of our wits, and yet we all remained in very good control (does that make sense?). Oz got the crowd going when he played his solo while standing atop a bar stool. We got raucous applause during most of the song. While playing "Ants Marching", we knew that we had just played the best set, and best gig, we've ever played, and we were simply putting icing on the cake. And what perfect icing it was too.

Cheers from the crowd for us to play more, even an encore of #41, filled 90proof but we had to stop as we were told by management that we had played our last song that night. We humbly apologized to the crowd that we couldn’t play anymore. But I guess it didn’t matter that much. Everyone in the band was on a natural high! We excitedly recounted how the set went with each other and with our friends. Noel confirmed with us that we had just passed our audition, and both Treena and Jaygat agreed that it was the best gig we had ever performed.

My hope now is for us to be able to duplicate this feat when more of our family and friends are in the crowd. Maybe even have John V and John Q playing with us when we nail another gig like this. In the meantime, I will continue to relish how well we performed that night. After all, they don’t make gigs like this everyday.

Friday, September 02, 2005

They don't make gigs like this everyday (part I)

Last Saturday, my band Still Oz played what is now considered to be our best gig ever!!!

Almost a week after we performed, everyone in the band is still on a natural high from it. I just remember, while performing, there was one distracting thought in my head - that I wished my family and friends were there to witness that performance. After each song of the second set, everyone in the band just kept looking at each other with disbelief, almost like we couldn't believe how well we were playing.

But the clincher was the audience response. We were playing in 90proof as part of its 2nd year anniversary. 90proof is a resto bar. And normally, when you are in a resto bar, you spend your time talking to the people you are with and drinking beer, only giving cursory applause to the band playing after each song (sometimes not even). But that night, during that second set - EVERYONE was watching us. It was almost like it was a concert. Our concert. And it felt unbelievable!

There were a couple of bad omens actually that gave us the feeling things wouldn't go all that well. Cholo couldn't play with us because of an exam. Also, the night before the gig, I hung out with my office friends because it was Pia's birthday, and we sang for 5 hours, from 930pm to 230am, in IO. I promised myself I wouldn't sing a lot that night, but when I got there, well guess what? I couldn't stop singing, even when I wasn't holding the mic (not surprising, really). Needless to say, my voice was clearly strained the next day. It was sufficiently hoarse that my band agreed NOT to do our U2 medley of "All I want is you-Where the Streets have no name" because that is one of the most taxing song combo that we do. We planned to play "All I want is you" in the first set and "Where the streets have no name" in the second.

When we got to 90proof, I started feeling jittery since that was the first time we were to play there and I wasn't sure how well my voice would hold up. Add to that the fact that there seemed to be a new TV show that would be shooting our first song and maybe part of our 2nd (the camera was actually about 2-3 feet away from my face and pointed directly at me). Our first set was going to be a bit laidback, so I decided I would sit while we were performing. We did a sound check, then I took a deep breath and we kicked off our first set.

We played "Counting Blue Cars" by Dishwalla first, to try and start off laidback and get the band in a playing groove. We are technically clean when playing this song, and it's a good song for me to open up my vocal chords with. We followed it up with Matchbox 20's "3am" which is another cool but laidback song, then performed our first of five U2 songs that night - "Stuck in a moment you can't get out of." The crowd sort of sang along with us for the chorus of "Stuck..." and we played every song very well, but for the most part, the crowd wasn't responding too much (since those songs, as I said, were all quite laidback).

Now since Oz and Bunky draw their energy from crowd support, there was some desperation in the atmosphere after the lukewarm reception to our first 3 songs. Oz said we needed to throw in a DMB (Dave Matthews Band) song to shift gears, but we didn't really have anything we could put in at that time. Instead, we decided to drop "Yellow" by Coldplay, another cool laidback song, and jump straight into "Anti-gravity" by Incubus which was a bit more loud and would hopefully get the crowd going a bit more. Ack, bad move! That was our only bad song that night, and I think it might have been because we were distracted. We still hung tight though, and I just kept thinking - we are following this up with "All I want is you" by U2 so we can still turn things around before we end our first set.

Now remember how I had a hoarse voice earlier that day due to singing too much the night before? Somewhere during "Stuck..." I realized that for some reason the strain in my voice while singing had disappeared. Maybe it was the adrenaline, or all the hot tea and mints I had that day. Whatever it was, when I hit the high notes of "All I want is you" I didn't feel as much strain on my voice as I normally do when singing that song.

The thing now was that the host and crew of that TV show shooting us earlier in the evening started cheering like crazy when I started belting out those high notes. And it seems everyone took their cue from those guys as now the whole crowd was getting a bit wild.

But that wasn't the defining moment. When I realized my voice was on top of its form that night, I quickly looked back at the band during instrumental and said "Let's do our U2 medley!" So I start hitting those high notes again, then I held that last high note without strain and longer than I have ever been able to hold it, and by the time I stopped, Bunky had started playing the chords of "Where the streets have no name." The crowd interest in us had definitely gone up.

The fantastic thing about our performance of "Where the streets.." what that we didn't practice it that day and we didn't talk about how we would play it either. But at the very last minute, Bunky, Sep, Oz and Mano decided to play a version of that song that they had practiced once and that we played once in Ponti. I picked up on it and started singing one of Bono's live versions of it. By the time we were done with the song, the crowd was definitely applauding a lot more loudly and were more involved and appreciative.

We capped off the first set with our first DMB song for the night, #41, and by the time Oz started mesmerizing the audience with his violin-playing, we knew that we were on to something special.

After that set, we were all going crazy. I recall telling everyone else, how the heck are we going to top that? We normally play that U2 medley towards the end of our last set but now we've tossed out our trump card too early. I was worried. But at the same time pleased at how well we played that first set. Save for "Anti-gravity," we played every song very well, crowd reaction notwithstanding, and it was by far the best first set we've played in a long while (or maybe ever).

(Stay tuned for details on how the second set went! This post is already too long! hehehe)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

US Open early upsets!

Wow, Andy Roddick is out of the US Open in the first round! That has to be one of the most surprising results I've seen this year! Which is maybe followed closely by Svetlana Kuznetsova's 1st round loss as well. Who is that, you may ask? Well, she is just the defending champion of the US Open!

What a truly interesting year of tennis, especially Grand Slam tennis. So far, none of this year's slam winners have more than one slam trophy - Marat Safin, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer on the men's side and Serena Williams, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and Venus Williams on the women's side. The most interesting stat though is in the women's side which was pointed out by a reader of the CNNSI.com - all of the women Grand Slam winners had to overcome a matchpoint on the way to the title. Serena saved a matchpoint against Maria Sharapova in the AO semis, Justine had to overcome matchpoints against Kuznetsova in the quarters of the FO, and Venus had to save a matchpoint against Lindsay Davenport in the Wimbledon final. Pretty damn cool stat, the one.

So back to the USO. I used to really dislike Roddick, but now he's no longer as in-your-face as he used to be, and I actually felt bad that he lost. Someone said that maybe the fact that even on his best day right now he is still incapable of beating Roger Federer has been playing in his head and has been eating away at his confidence.

Going on the who I think will be the winner, the men's side is a bit more predictable - barring injury, Roger will take it, and as such will have his 6th major. On the women's side, I am hoping that Kim Clijsters finally breaks through and wins her first slam. On paper, she is the player to beat on hard courts. She lost only once on hard courts this year, a fluke result against Shuai Peng (not to be confused with Feng Shui) but won five tournaments on the surface best suited to her game. And she did it by beating all the other top contenders - Davenport, Sharapova, Henin-Hardenne, Myskina, Dementieva, Kuznetsova, Mauresmo and even Venus Williams against whom she has such a bad head-to-head record. The only top player she hasn't gotten to beat on this surface is Serena Williams whom she hasn't played yet this year. But Serena is not in very good form as she hasn't played since Wimbledon so the odds favor Kim there.

Problem with Kim though is that she always loses the big matches. 4 slam finals, no titles. What a shame! Seems she doesn't have the killer instinct to close out the most important matches. So right now, the award for best player never to have won a slam goes to her hands down. I just hope she doesn't hang on to that title for too long. Good luck, Kim!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Michael Owen joins Newcastle

After about 3 months of people not knowing exactly what Michael Owens' footballing future would be, he signs up for a 4-year contract with Newcastle. A very interesting, albeit controversial move, which has put both Owen and Newcastle on the headline of the footballing world over the last couple of days.

I feel a bit bad for him though. He left Liverpool in the hopes that he would win more silverware. And really, anyone in his shoes would've done the same thing, given an opportunity to move to Real Madrid. The problem was, his style of play didn't seem to fit with the rest of Real, despite scoring quite a few goals during his short stint there. And then Real bought 2 Brazilian strikers, dropping Owen to 5th choice. In a World Cup year (during which time he will need to play a lot to remain sharp and fit). Which left him with no option actually but move to a club that would let him play. And well no other club seemed interested which is terribly sad. It would've been nice if he ended up in Liverpool again, especially since 'Pool doesn't seem to have a great striker right now. But Newcastle put in such a high bid and Rafael Benitez didn't really seem interested enough in Owen. So net, Mickey ends up in the team that is currently 2nd from bottom of the league.

I just hope now that Owen gets to start all the time and score lots of goals. The golden boot award would be nice for him to get this year. And who knows? If England do win the World Cup, then I guess all his critics and naysayers will eat crow.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

(You can read about my previous post for the background on this trip. Thing is, all the pics were taken using Ben’s camera, and I haven’t been able to get a copy yet, so the pics will have to follow.)

We left Manila really early on Saturday morning, July 30. Our flight was at 510am which would bring us to CDO by around 630. The flight was pretty much on time and we got to McDonald’s Divisoria at around 7am. We were supposed to meet up with the rafting group at around 830am so we had a bit of time to kill. After breakfast, Ben, who was out clubbing the entire night before and hadn’t gotten any sleep, decided to have a quick nap. The rafting folks were about 30 minutes late but that was okay since it meant Ben got to sleep a bit longer.

At 9am, we boarded a jeep that would take us to our adventure trip (I just realized we never got to take Ben's picture in the jeep). Inside were a family of Koreans with their Filipino yayas (apparently, the dad was a golf teacher in an exclusive golf club somewhere in the Phils) and a group of Pinoys from Manila. After a short drive, we picked up an international group consisting of two American guys (one of whom originally came from Trinidad), a Japanese girl, and a Cebuana. Turns out the Cebuana, Christine, is a very close friend of Irene and she said I looked familiar – we must’ve run into each other in one of my office parties where she had tagged along with Irene. Small world!

Our first stop was actually the canopy walk, which may be CDO’s second claim to fame (after the river rafting, of course). This part of the adventure (P300) involved walking on a set of rope-and-wooden-plank bridges that are set really high up on the treetops (there’s a safety line that is attached to each person to prevent any accidents). Once you get to the end of the set of bridges, you return to the starting point via a zipline. Pretty cool! Anyway, as you walk along the first bridge (there are three of them, one after another), it still feels pretty normal. Then somewhere along the second bridge, there’s a sheer drop (with a neat little waterfall close to the bottom) and all of a sudden you can hear people gasp as they see just how high up they are. I think I stopped looking down after a few seconds of trying to control my fear of heights. =) Finally, we got to the zip-line: it was about ten seconds of great fun! I would’ve loved to do it again since it wasn’t as long I wish it were (medyo bitin). But there was the main event beckoning, and I didn’t want to shell out another P300.

So we then headed to the river. After each of us put on our lifejackets and grabbed an oar, we got a short overview of what the trip would entail – the river was about 12km long, had 14 rapids I think, and it would take us about 3 hours to get to the end (including a break for lunch somewhere along the river). We then got grouped into different rafts – Ben and I ended up in the raft with the Pinoys from Manila. The people in our raft didn’t seem like they were the athletic type so I was a bit worried that our raft guide would bring us to the calmer parts of the rapids, which would have made the experience slightly disappointing. My concerns were short-lived, though. It seems our guide wanted us to get as much kick out of this experience as possible! In one instance he instructed all of us to paddle in such a way that made the raft spin clockwise while we were going through one set of rapids! And on three or four occasions, he told everyone on the raft to stand while paddling through rapids, including one of the strongest ones! Unbelievable! Would've been more interesting if someone fell off the raft, but no one did. =)

Somewhere close to the end of the trip we got off our our rafts and walked over some huge rocks to a small set of rapids. Not everyone got off the boats this time, it was only me, Ben, and the international group (and I think a couple of other people). It turns out there was another activity to do - we would all locks elbows and walk side by side across the rapids from one riverbank to the other! It wasn't very wide (maybe about 15-20 feet only) but the rapids were really strong and it made for a very interesting activity! In fact, people were worried that they might lose their sandals or flip-flops. And once we managed to get to the other side, we got into the river and let the current take us back to where the rafts were. Ah, so much fun in one day! =)

The adventure was over at around 3pm and we headed back to the city. After getting a room in Casa Crystalla (right smack in the Divisoria are) to clean up a bit and put our stuff down, we had a very late lunch in Max’s (we weren’t able to instruct the guides to prepare food for us in advance so we subsisted on Magic Flakes and ube bread while on the river). We had lumpiang ubod and crispy pata so Ben could try out some local food, and we also had sizzling barbecue chicken (first time I tried it in Max's and it was very good!). He also found out that in the Philippines, iced tea (which he doesn’t like) is lemon iced tea (which he likes).

Later that night, we walked around the city. It was good timing as well because there was some music festival going on in CDO in all Saturday nights from April to August, so the atmosphere in the streets was incredibly festive and alive. Aside from the live music, there was also a “mini-showdown” of break-dancing that was very entertaining and amusing to watch. Restaurant owners also set up food stalls, tables and chairs on the streets so that people could dine al fresco (hehe this is the first time I ever used al fresco in a sentence). I also ended up eating balut to show Ben what it was. He had some of the yolk part of it and agreed that if you could get past the chick bit, then it was actually quite good.

We had a choice of getting up early on Sunday morning and going to a beach about an hour from the city, but we decided against it as we wanted to sleep in and get a bit more rest after not having any sleep on Friday night. Turns out it was the right idea because it was absolutely pelting when we got up on Sunday.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience that I wouldn't mind doing again and bringing more friends to. The rafting itself costs about P1200 per person so it’s not too bad (+ the zipline makes it P1500). The only downside is that you have to fly to CDO from Manila, and the airfare is what eats up most of your budget. If anyone what the cheapest flights are that you can get to CDO, please let me know by leaving a comment. =)

Long day

This morning, I got up at 6am, which is terribly terribly early for me (those of you who know me well can attest to that). However, my nephew Ciera was at home and my bro couldn't bring him to school because he is on night shift which finishes at around lunch. My mom couldn't get a driver either so I figured I might as well bring him to Community of Learners.

As is always the case when I leave the house during rush hour, the traffic was quite bad. And since I had to take a detour to bring Ciera to the San Juan area, it took a while for me to get to Makati and I arrived in the office shortly before 9am. And from that time until late afternoon, I worked on finishing the job aids we need to complete by today at work. That's a huge chunk of work out of the way, and now I can focus on everything else.

I also finally went back into the gym after not going there for the last 2 1/2 weeks or so. As such, my workout was fairly light, and even then I struggled quite a bit, much to the amusement of Marlon, my trainer. I did manage to get the bicep and back workouts done fairly well, but everything involving triceps was a bit of a disaster, and my ab workout was nowhere near where it was right before my gym break. Hay naku, this is proof that I shouldn't take such a long break from going to the gym! My 30 minute run after the workout redeemed me a bit though (and I guess after I run a full marathon, 30 minutes on a treadmill should be a cakewalk). My heart rate was quite high the moment I took to the treadmill, though, because I was so tired from the workout. But I managed to go from 8.5kph to 12kph (with a 13 kphs[rint finish). I burned nearly 400 calories with that run, and so at least I ended my trip to the gym on a high note.

I had dinner (Chasyu Don, Miso Soup, and Tofu Steak with house tea) in Teriyaki Boy after my workout before heading back to the office to do the finishing touches on my last job aid. I also read up a bit on a few documents I received over the last couple of days.

Too bad that it's past midnight now because that means I won't be able to watch tonight's episode of One Tree Hill season 1 on Starworld. But after seeing the season-ender of season 2 in ETC last Sunday (with all its loose ends!), I guess I don't really need to see these early, character-establishing episodes anymore. Oh wait, that means I don't get to see Peyton (Hilarie Burton)! Okay well too bad I am going to miss it then. (Btw, if the WB don't give us a 3rd season of OTH, I will... I will... okay I will send them a nasty note and probably not do anything else. =))

Monday, August 22, 2005

High School Reunion

One more friend of mine who was celebrating her birthday in August (Aug 18, to be exact) is Joyce. Last Thursday, she had a party at her house in Project 4. Naturally, Anna, Iona, Mitch and Ferg were there as well. We were all late actually but it was still fun. I haven’t seen all of them together in maybe a couple of months (or at the very least, it felt like a couple of months) so it was great seeing them again.

Then we got into talking about this new Irish Pub, O’Mally’s (sp?), in Greenbelt 1. This is where Price of Wales used to be. We were supposed to hang out there with Gary and Winnie last two Saturdays ago, but as it turned out, only Mitch and Ferg could meet up with them (the rest of us had prior commitments). So the four of them opted for a different venue, and as such, they didn’t get to check out the Irish Pub just yet.

So during Joyce’s party, we thought of going there on Saturday night. However, because Ferg was playing in a badminton tournament that night and the Liverpool game wasn’t going to be shown on TV anyway, Mitch said that we could just all hang out in their place.

We got there shortly before 9pm and feasted on food from North Park and had some Dreyer’s ice cream for dessert. Then we just hung out and conversed ‘til past midnight. It was great fun as it always is when hanging out with them, and it’s great that after not seeing them for a while, I get to see them twice in a span of a few days.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Birthdays in August

Last Friday, we had a dinner birthday celebration dinner for Joh. I came in late since I had an ATM problem, and when I got to Gourmand in the Fort, the rest of the folks were already there - Joh, Raffa, Paulo, Peegee, Tim, Hannah, Che, Pia and John Q. The food there was quite expensive but it was incredibly good. Nice quaint place as well and fairly easy to get to if you have a car so I guess you can say it's a good date place.

After dinner, everyone but John Q and Peegee headed over to Coldrock, this fairly new ice cream place somewhere between Jack, Jill, and Gonuts Donuts. The setup is similar to Dairy Queen except that instead of having a machine mix the ice cream and 'mixins', the people there did it by hand. (And I must say, those people must have Popeye forearms because you could tell how hard it was by watching what they were doing!). I tried a made-up combination of mint chocolate and Aussie's best cookies n cream, with rocky road marshmallows mixed in. Not bad. But at P174, it's not something I want to have too often. We then capped the night off at UCC (I ended up having two coffees, but the second one was decaf so it's not too bad hehehe).

On Saturday I had to get up relatively early for the Bukas Sarili meeting in Makati at 1030am. We had great attendance once again, 11 people came - Vangie, Tess, Cushee, Audris, Kendrick, Avi, Susie, Sarah, Bunky, and MJ (plus me of course). The meeting went fairly well, and the latest news showed that we have now raised about P165K from the Pledge Run!

I had to hurry after the meeting though since I had a lunch party in my grandparents house in Novaliches. Pretty long way from Makati actually. But it was the join birthday celebration of my mom (Aug 9), grandfather, her dad (also Aug 9), my bro (Aug 3), my cousin (Aug 8), my nephew (Aug 31 - okay we are actually having a separate party for him too =)), and our household help, Mama Guading, who has been with the family since forever (Aug 11). Obviously that is such a huge party that there is no way I am missing that. Unfortunately, my bro was on night shift the previous night and had to fetch my nephews in Malabon so they arrived after almost everyone had left, at around 430pm.

I left about an hour later so I could go to Paulo's place in Greenhills (yeah, Fairview to Makati to Novaliches to Greenhills to Fairview! ouch!) which was where we were celebrating part 2 of Joh's birthday. This one was a surprise, and the fact that we had dinner the night before really threw her off. I came in late with birthday candles and pansit from Razon's so I missed the surprise part. Anyway, here's a question: What do you get when you have a dozen IT folks in a party? Answer: a geeky party! When I got there, I saw two laptops, a couple of webcams, a projector, and Giselle's webcam shot being projected on the wall. Later on, Suzanne and Nenen would connect with us as well - one laptop and one webcam per connection. Amazing! There was even audio with both Giselle (in Japan) and Nenen and Suzanne (in Philadelphia). Ian and Cathy called as well (or texted, I'm not totally sure) since they weren't able to buy a webcam. We then browsed through pictures of Paulo and Giselle in Japan, as well as a few other photos of trips people have taken (like to Boracay, Clearwater, etc) before calling it a day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Presenting: The Philippines!

A couple of weeks ago, a English friend of mine, Ben, came to the Philippines for a 2 ½ week holiday. Ben has been in South-east Asia for the last six months or so, doing charity work in Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, and Indonesia (most of his work has revolved around helping out with tsunami relief), and will be doing much of the same over most of the next four months. As such, he decided to take a short vacation from all that hard work and spend a couple of laidback weeks in the Philippines.

He didn't really know anyone else from here (he knew Omar, but well Omar is in London) so I came up with a list of suggestions of what he could do while he was here. Once I came up with that list, I suggested an itinerary for him which he thought was really cool.

Now during the course of this planning, the fact that there was still a lot of places in the country that I haven't been to and wanted to see was reinforced. So I figured it would be good for me to take some days off of work and accompany Ben. After all, once I realized a few years ago that I had seen a lot of places in other countries but not enough of my own, I decided to visit at least one new place in the Philippines every year. Plus Ben gets a free tour guide and translator.

So this is how the final itinerary looked like:

First stop - Boracay. He spent his first night (Monday) in Manila before heading to Boracay and spending 3 nights there. I would have gone with him if it were not for the fact that this was the same time as the SNS offsite in Shenzhen. I also had too much work to do during that week that I couldn’t take a couple of days off. Didn't matter. Boracay is very tourist-friendly so Ben didn't have problems going around, and I've been there a few times before so not a huge deal that I missed it.

Second stop - Cagayan De Oro. We met up on Friday night before splitting up again - I had dinner with Joh, Raffa, Chris, Shar, Meann, Hannah, and Paulo while he hung out with some new found friends at the Fort. As such, we had very little sleep since our flight to Cagayan De Oro was at 510am on Saturday. Spent the day white water rafting then headed back to Manila on Sunday.

Third stop - Coron, Palawan. I couldn't take Monday off since I still had to finish a ton of stuff, and I ended up working til about 430am on Tuesday but I did manage to sort everything out before leaving. We got there on Tuesday right before lunch and returned to Manila on Friday. I was supposed to have a meeting on Friday afternoon which was thankfully postponed because my flight was delayed by 2 1/2 hours and I would have missed it if it pushed through.

Final stop - Metro Manila. I took Ben to Malate on Friday night. On Saturday he watched a couple of UAAP games (UP lost to FEU, unfortunately). On Sunday he joined the other Bukas Sarili people for the celebration breakfast right after the marathon. On Monday, he played basketball with Chris and his friends (Basketball is Ben's sport and wanted to play it here, so when I found out Chris was playing on Monday, I managed to get Ben to join them). And on Tuesday, his last night here, he watched my band perform.

(Btw, the night that we hung out in Malate, the song 'Call on me' by Eric Prydz played in the bar we were in. He mentioned to me how it was a popular song in England and how the video was so hot. So I searched for it in the internet and manged to find it. And I have to say that it is the hottest video of all time!!! Haha, at least for me. Anyway (well, I guess only if you are a guy) I suggest you try to find it in the net. Note that there is no nudity so don't think I'm some perv hehehe. So now, whenever I feel a bit stressed at work, I just watch that video and I feel re-energized. =))

The details of my rafting and Coron trips will be in latter posts (can't fit them in here anymore). But after Ben left Manila last Wednesday, I felt pretty cool at how I was able to organize a full itinerary for him that represented the Philippines pretty well - great islands and cities to visit, cool places to hang out in, Pinoy food (adobo and adobo flakes, sisig, and even balut!), watching and playing our 'national' sport, and listening to amazing live music (of course it's amazing, it was my band playing! =)). He thanked me for sorting out his trip here and suggested that if things don't pan out for me in IT, I could work as a travel agent. =)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Time to get those anti-depressants out

On paper, this should've been a good week. The marathon is over, so that's one big project off my to-do list. Most of the stuff I need to get done at work have already been done, or are moving along well enough so no worries on that front either. And it surely makes sense that after I go rafting in Cagayan De Oro, snorkeling in Coron, and after a kick-ass gig, I should be on Cloud 9 right now. Or thereabouts.

But the truth of the matter is I'm not. In fact, it's quite the opposite really. I don't even recall the last time I have felt this depressed and down-trodden.

I felt so bad at the end of the day today that I was just supposed to have a quick dinner. But when I was done, I just realized I could not go back to my desk. I just couldn't. Ah, maybe I could watch "The Wedding Crashers." After all, as they say, laughter is the best medicine. Well, it was funny all right and a great movie. But the moment I stepped out of the theater, the weather seemed to match my disposition as the rain was pouring. And I had no umbrella.

I think that's where the problem lies. I don't feel like I have an umbrella while the rain is pouring. It's like no one's got my back. And everyone around me wants a piece of me. Or no, not even just a piece, more like a chunk. Right now, though, it doesn't feel like there is enough of me to go around. I've been holding the fort wearily for far too long, and the reinforcements don't seem to be anywhere in sight. Can anyone say 'exhaustion'?

Of course I do know that holding the fort is not bad. Makes you feel like people can count on you, that you are the go-to guy who makes things happen. That you can be trusted. That's always a good thing.

But the moment people take your willingness to help out as an indicator that you exist for the sole purpose of helping them whenever they need you, then it becomes tough. No, it becomes abusive. And shitty. And sad. This week has felt shitty because it seems as though everything I do isn't working. When you try to be diplomatic, you get maligned and manhandled. When you raise your voice, you become rude and unprofessional. When you tell someone you'll get them something done, they hound you until they get it from you. When you tell people you'll help out, they all of a sudden look at you to lead. Then when you ask someone to do something for you, they don't do it. Or don't do it well so you end up stepping in anyway to fix things. What a f*cking nightmare.

And I think what simply compounds things is that it's not just one bad thing happening, but so many bad things happening all at the same time. When that happens, you just feel like you can't breathe.

Guess I'm just gonna try and hold my breath a little longer. See how things turn up...

(I'll post the fun stories about my recent trips when I am in a better mood)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Marathon-for-a-Cause for the third year in a row

Yesterday, I just ran my third Bukas Sarili Marathon-for-a-Cause. 42 gruelling kilometers over nearly 5 hours. I managed to raise P73,000 raised, and almost P160,000 when you combine it with what the other pledge runners were able to raise. Quite unbelievable really. Especially when you think that running a marathon was never really one of my life goals or in my list of things to do before I die.

I ran for a very short period of time when I was in college, largely due to the influence of the people I hung out with at the time who were all into distance running. After that, I probably didn't run long distance again until 2003. This was when I just got back from my 3-month assignment in Belgium, during which time the chocolates and beer I consumed helped me gain some unneeded weight. So when Gosh asked me in Jan 2003 if I was interested to join this 8-km race in April, I agreed to join and decided to start running again.

And from March to May 2003, I ran about 6-10km three times a week. But even then, running a marathon was still not something I planned to do. I recall leading a Time Management training session at work in early June and telling my class that running 25km was one of my long term goals. Yup, only 25km coz at the time I didn't feel a need to run any longer than that. But then, I had one very brief yet life-changing conversation with Mike before a Bukas Sarili meeting in mid-June. He asked me if I wanted to run a marathon for Bukas Sarili. I said that I didn't think I had time to train for it since it was 2 months away. He said there was no need for me to finish, I just had to try and run as far as I could. So I agreed. A few months after that, I completed my first ever marathon for charity.

In the process, I not only got fitter but I also managed to raise more than P50,000 through donations by friends and colleagues. I figured that this was something I could do every year. It was like hitting two birds with one stone - raise money for charity and stay healthy. So I did it again last year. With 6 weeks of training (kids, don't try this at home! I never intend to train for just 5 weeks for a marathon ever again), I managed to cover the same distance in less time than I did the first time. I also managed to raise P71,000.

Which brings me to my third marathon this year. What is great about this year is that it marks quite a few records. I improved on my personal best as I shaved 2 minutes off my previous record (4:52 now from 4:54 last year), and as such marks the 2nd year in a row that I bested my previous result. I also ran the longest distance without stopping to walk due to tirednes (I managed to cover 30km before my I walked; prior to this year the longest I had run without stopping was 25-26km). I also managed to raise more money (individually) than I ever have for charity, with donations from dozens of people amounting to almost P73,000! That is still not counting the pledges I will be getting from about five people who said they would donate but sometime later this year. To say that I am inspired right now by the generosity of so many of my friends is definitely an understatement. I mean, P73,000. All I can say is, wow.

Add to that the support I got while running. Ray and Quintin met up with me on their bikes at around the 20km mark (just past Jollibee). Quintin then went in search of Kendrick while Ray kept me company the rest of the way. At around 7:50, I was on my way back at around the Jollibee area when cheers welcomed me as I saw Sarah, Bunky, Joy S, Vangie, Ada, and Jaygat. Then most of them got in Bunky's car and drove to the finish line where they, along with Tess, Susie, Vince and his girlfriend greeted me with more cheers and applause. Then they joined me from breakfast at Manila Hotel where Ben, who didn't get up to his alarm clock, met up with us all. Quintin and Kendrick then joined us a several minutes later.

I recall telling Ray at some point that I couldn't believe I was running my third marathon for Bukas Sarili. In fact, I have never been as mentally prepared for a marathon as I was this year, maybe in part due to the fact that I had already done this twice before. But in terms of the distance I covered during training, I actually felt less prepared. I managed to run 20km only once, 15km once, 12.2km once, 10km a handful of times and 5km the rest of the time. In some ways that isn't as good as where I was last year (physically). Last year, despite training for only 6 weeks, I managed to run >10k three to four times and >20k twice, covering a distance of almost 28km in my longest training run. My legs and feet hurt like hell now, and that must be proof of how poorly conditioned I was this year for a 42-km run.

But then I just think about the money I helped raised that will be used to help dozens of sick patients who are having trouble paying for tests or medicine in PGH. I also look at the number of people who have been so generous with their money and with their words of encouragement (tears have welled up in my eyes a few times from the beginning of this project until now). I think of everyone who worked hard and stayed true to make sure this project was successful. I think of all that, and all of a sudden I don't feel the pain. Of course, the massage helps too. =)

Seriously though, right now, what I do feel is motivation to do this again next year. And every year after that. For as long as I can.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Team building in China

(This has probably been the busiest I have been in about a year's time so my messages are coming in a lot more slowly and my posts tend to be about stuff that happened more than a week before I actually posted about it. Anyway, I hope my few readers bear with me. I should be calmer in the week of August 15, during which time I will be blogging about a lot of stuff: rafting in Cagayan de Oro, trip to Coron, my marathon for a cause, plus more. So please stay tuned! In the meantime...)

The entire Asia SNS team went to Shenzhen in China last July 24 for our annual team building event. The event itself was about 1 1/2 days long - Monday whole day + night, and Tuesday morning.

It actually started off a bit badly. On Sunday, we flew to Hong Kong via the Cathay flight that left Manila at 1230. It was actually delayed by about 45 minutes so we ended up in the HK airport at around 315. Our bus was supposed to leave HK airport at 345 and arrive in Shenzhen at 530. However, the bus ended up parking in the wrong place and it took us ages to find it, so we ended up leaving the HK airport at 430. Then when we were in Shenzhen, the bus driver couldn't find the Waterfront hotel which is where we were supposed to stay. So we ended up arriving in the hotel at 8pm. Wow! Considering that I had to leave my house at 9am to get to the airport 2 hours before my flight, you could say that I had lost my entire day to travelling!

Anyway, we had a pretty big dinner that night. Karen, Denden and I sat in the same table, and we ended eating most of the food in our table (well, Guoliang too =)), which was funny because most of the other Pinoys didn't fancy the food too much.

Monday had a lot of information sharing during the day. In the evening, we had the SNS awards. The Pinoy SNS community won a lot of awards, including my team and Grant (we tied for the Magic Innovation award) and Mhar, who won the organizational excellence award.

We also had the country presentations. There were four groups: China, Singapore, Philippines, and Japan. China performed some Chinese traditions, like taichi and dancing with fans, and Chinese rap and stuff. Singapore did a skit that revolved around Singlish (or Singaporean English). Japan performed this Japanese samba number. They ended up winning due to audience participation coz almost everyone danced along with them. However, the Pinoys put in a great performance (we later lamented that we shouldn't have joined the Japanese group when they invited us to dance with them because the audience impact cost us the top prize hehehe).

Our presentation started off with a spoof of what was going on in Philippine politics: Mando as Erap and Jobim as Ping were trying to take the presidency from Beni as GMA (they were terribly funny!). Then Paolo announced that Pinoys all over the country had united in cultural performances to celebrate unity (which was kinda the theme that night). Then it started off with an incredibly professional-looking Ifugao dance number (to the tune of 'Magkaugnay') from Karen and Erwin, who were in full authentic costume (they also won best costume that night). Then Denden, Mhar, Eric, and Ivan did a Muslim dance number. Tina, Lourdes, and Ava then performed Pandango sa Ilaw. The boys - Grant, Reden, Pabs and I - followed with a semi-funny Hagibis dance number in our barongs. We ended the night with a grand song performance, led by Denz, of "Isang Mundo, Isang Awit" which is the 80s song by Leah Navarro that says 'I love you' in multiple languages, including Japanese and Chinese (much to the delight of our audience). A pretty good performance, if I do say so myself. =)

My other personal highlight for that offsite was the fact that I joined this eating contest with Mando as my teammate, and while he had to eat polvoron, I had to consume a Japanese cracker that was dripping with intensely spicy wasabi. My tolerance for hot & spicy food has never really been good, so you can just guess what happened when I had to eat that. =)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My latest achievement

I worked out in the gym again yesterday. One of the exercises I did was, well actually I just realized I don't what it is called. Essentially I get on this apparatus and I bend my upper body so that it is makes a right angle with my legs then I use my lower back to pull my upper body right back up. The purpose of this is so that I strengthen my lower back. Anyway, to stretch your lower back after this workout, you have to just bend at the waist and reach down without bending your knees. I had my eyes closed while stretching when all of a sudden I just realized that I had touched my shoes!

Now, I actually do not recall the last time I was able to do this. I think it was in high school at least, and quite possibly in college, but I haven't been able to reach down that low in the last 7-8 years.

So when I felt the tops of my shoes, I was quite surprised. So much so, in fact, that I thought that maybe I bent my knees. So I tried it again, and not only did I confirm that I wasn't bending my knees, this time I was also able to reach my toes. Wow! I was feeling mightly flexible, or well at least more flexible than I have been in recent memory. =) So since I was feeling lucky, I decided to press my luck and see if I could reach the floor. Well, well, well, I could! I was so impressed that I started telling everyone. In fact, I am so impressed that I am even blogging about it now hahaha!

Anyway, I guess it is not really such a big deal. But I guess the fact is that I wasn't expecting it. I have lost weight, reduced my body fat, strengthened my muscles, and improved my endurance. I simply forgot that improving your flexibility is also one of the benefits of exercising well and regularly. Cool. =)