Sunday, May 29, 2011

5 Amazing Things Invented By Donald Duck

This is pretty cool.

The guy behind Donald Duck comics might be our generation's Da Vinci ...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A college reunion and some fondue

My schedule since March has been completely out of whack due to my horrific workload. So I am pleased that despite spending so many hours in the office and even sometimes working at home, I am still able to spend time with family and friends. The only downside? This time I spend with the people in my life involves a lot of eating. And with my crazy schedule, my lack of exercise prevents me from burning all the calories that I consume LOL.

Case in point: my friend Maileen was in town with her husband Nick and beautiful baby daughter Tamlin. She naturally wanted to see her friends while she was in Manila so she organized a lunch party at her house and invited our college barkada. Unfortunately, only a handful of us were able to go - me, Lala, Letlet and Gosh (it wasn't just us there though so at least it didn't feel like no one showed up). Despite the lack in numbers, it was still a fun afternoon with a lot of delicious catered food and even some lechon. Tamlin was asleep when I arrived but she woke up just as I was about to depart and I was able to have my photo taken with her and Mai (I haven't seen the photo yet, though).

I had to leave a bit early because I promised my nephews that I would take them to Old Swiss Inn to have some chocolate fondue. A couple of months back, I purchased an Old Swiss Inn voucher that gave me 50% discount on fondue and drinks and since I know my nephews love chocolate fondue, I felt it would be perfect for them.

It was around 5:15pm when we got to Makati but our reservation was for 6pm so we took a brief detour to Bon Chon Chicken for an early dinner. The plan was to eat just a little bit in Bon Chon since we knew we were gonna be eating a lot of fondue. My voucher was for fondue and drinks worth P1,000 and with the Toblerone Chocolate Fondue costing around P400, we ended up ordering two of them. The fondue was really good! The fact that they used Toblerone ensured that the fondue was top quality. My mom was working that day and joined us in Old Swiss Inn for the second order.

Our stomachs didn't feel all that full after the first set, but midway through the second one we realized that the Bon Chon meal and the two fondues were a bit too much. Nevertheless we managed to polish everything off. I asked my nephews if they wanted to have fondue in Old Swiss Inn again and they said we should order just one next time. Sensible.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jesse and Aldwin's birthday

Another weeknight, another gathering. This time around, it was to celebrate the birthday of my friends Jesse and Aldwin. We wanted to have a meal somewhere in the Fort area and since most of my friends have never been to the Piazza at Venice in McKinley Hill, we picked Little Asia as our dinner venue.

The entire gang was there and we ordered a whole lot of food. Tim got a couple of small-sized cakes which we shared after the meal was over (the waiters very kindly allowed us to eat there and even brought out plates and forks. I naturally ordered coffee to go with the dessert. We spent about 2 1/2 hours in Little Asia and would probably have stayed longer but Little Asia was about to close already. This must've been the first birthday celebration we had with this set of friends that didn't involve alcohol LOL but it was a weeknight so we couldn't drink a lot. There will be a lot more chances for that, though so nothing to worry about. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Barcino night

My friends Tim and Steph, who are getting married later in the year, were in town - they are both Singapore-based now - to do some early preps for their wedding among other things. Everyone had full weekends so a Friday or Saturday night out wasn't possible. To make sure we all got to meet up while they were here, we decided to meet up for dinner on a Monday night. At least we would get to start the work week on a good note.

We decided to have dinner in Barcino in Burgos Circle because Steph said she had a meal there before and really liked the food. There were quite a few of us there that night - Steph and Tim (of course), Joh, Raffa, Chris, Alvin, Doray, Peegee, and Mike. The food was good and so was the company and the conversation. After dinner, Tim very generously took the bill and we moved to Bar Dolci for dessert. It's not really advisable to have coffee and ice cream (hot and cold) but this is the second time in a couple of months that I have had that combo with the same set of friends. Me-Ann, who had an evening meeting, joined us in Bar Dolci. We stayed there for about another hour or so before calling it a night.

We didn't stay out very late coz we all had work again the next day. But it was fun to have a good evening meal on a Monday night. Maybe we should do this more frequently. Help shake the Monday blues away. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Adele's "Someone like you"

Fantastic song, fantastic voice. Performed with just a piano background in front of an audience of thousands without frills or fanfare. This is how it should be done. Adele sings her song "Someone like you" during the 2011 Brit Awards and it is absolutely brilliant.

video uploaded in youtube by user Texhnician

She has many other amazing live performances of this song (such as her more intimate performance on Ellen) and when you consider that she wrote it, it is easy to see why she connects so deeply to words. You can truly feel the emotion and pain in her voice, her face, and her gestures. I really need to get her album.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Celine's wedding

My cousin Celine just recently tied the knot and my family attended the wedding. The church ceremony was held at 1:30pm in the Shrine of Jesus, The Way, The Truth, The Life which is right next to MOA. It was an incredibly hot day so instead of parking my car under the sun, I decided to park in SMX (Philippine Fashion Week was being held on the same day in SMX, and it was interesting to see all those models and photographers getting ready.) My mom was a proxy ninang so we needed to make sure we got there early (we did).

The reception was held at the Diamond Hotel. We arrived at around 3:30pm and cocktails were served at 4pm on the 27th floor, providing us with a fantastic view of the bay. The program started at close to 5:30pm and when people were invited to join Celine and her husband Ian for photo ops before heading to the buffet table, the emcee randomly pulled out table numbers and picked ours second. Amazing! Even more amazing was the food. The buffet selection was enormous and there was even a pasta bar that I didn't get to try.

I also performed one song during the reception. Celine asked me a few weeks before if I could sing and I naturally agreed. I didn't have a lot of time to learn a completely new song so I suggested some songs that I had already performed before, and she picked 'Bless the Broken Road' by Rascal Flatts. I've sung this in two previous weddings, and both times I forgot the lyrics. Thankfully, I remembered all my lines this time although I added a big high note during the instrumental that wasn't hit cleanly - I guess I was really tired and dehydrated that day. In any case, Celine and most of the people seemed not to mind that and I guess for the most part it was still a decent performance.

The program ended at 8pm - it did start in the late afternoon - and while it was a tiring day (the heat in the early afternoon took its toll on everyone), it was great seeing my relatives and being part of one of the most special days of my cousin.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Deals, deals, and more deals!

Deal sites (similar to Groupon) have now become hugely popular in Manila. My friend Walter has been suggesting to me for a long time that I check these sites out to get massive discounts on food, hotel accommodations, and a lot of other stuff but I never really spent any time checking them out. That is, until recently. I saw a deal for a P1,000 voucher in Mr. Jones that cost 'only' P500 and I decided to purchase it. After that, I have become a bit of an addict LOL. I have now purchased discount vouchers (most of them 50% off) for CPK, Old Swiss Inn, Sweet Pea, Mr. Jones, and Murray & D'Vine.

Here are some of the deal sites I regularly visit now:

I've seen a lot of vacation package deals but I don't see myself being able to go on holiday right now. Hopefully there will be some pretty good deals next year so I can get a really good discount on an awesome summer holiday.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Running put on hold

This is definitely horrible news for me. I attempted to start training for the July 31 Milo Marathon in early April to give me 3 months to get in proper shape. But two things have worked to my detriment. First: my shift. I'm sort of working mid-shift right now which means my gym is closed by the time I get out of work. I guess you could argue that I should just wake up earlier and then hit the gym before I head to the office. But the second obstacle, my overwhelming workload, prevents me from doing this. I tend to wake up right before I need to head to work, and that leaves me no time to hit the treadmill.

I did weigh myself recently and I gained about 3 pounds. Crap. So even if I don't get to train well enough to run my 8th marathon in July, I should still try running anyways just to make sure I remain healthy.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Manny Pacquiao for HP Veer

Manny Pacquiao has cemented his place in history with another stellar performance against Shane Mosley to defend his WBO World Welterweight title. With his immense global popularity and international boxing success, it's nice to see that he is now endorsing something that is not sports-related. Check this out. :)

video uploaded in youtube by user bhopisback

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

More repairs

I posted a couple of months ago about the few repairs that were required in my place. Even more recently, I needed a few more. My kitchen sink has been clogged for some time now and I was thinking of having a plumber look at it. But while grocery-shopping one day, I saw a Mr. Muscle sink-declogger and decided to give it a go. Thankfully, it worked! My kitchen sink is no longer clogged, which means I didn't need to get plumbing services. Or so I thought.

I later on realized that the fill valve of my toilet was broken. Water kept pouring out even if the tank was already full. To make sure I wasn't wasting water, I had shut the water source and just turn it on every time I needed to flush it. So for this problem, I got a plumber who initially tried to clean my tank. This didn't solve the problem, so he told me I needed to get a new fill valve and some kind of pipe. Everything cost me more than P1000. Ack! But at least my toilet is working properly again.

One additional house issue I have is that some important buttons on my TV remote are no longer working. I think I've used those buttons so much that they don't responding anymore. Thankfully, the remote of my DVD player can be configured to work for my TV as well. As such, I haven't purchased a new TV remote yet. I may give the Samsung service center a call one of these days - I already have the number - to find out how to get a new remote (and find out how much it costs).

Monday, May 02, 2011


I've been tremendously busy the last months now so when I manage to watch a few DVDs at home, it was a good sign since it meant I had a couple of hours to spare. I still have a lot of unwatched DVDs at home, but a restful weekend allowed me to reduce that list by three as I finally saw The Bourne Ultimatum, Memoirs of a Geisha, and How to Train your Dragon.

My friends gave me The Bourne Ultimatum as a gift (either for my birthday or Christmas some time ago) and it's only now that I managed to watch it. It's a really good movie that's fast-paced and action-packed, and the fact that it ends positively for the lead characters makes it a feel-good action flick to watch.

I bought my Memoirs of a Geisha DVD a long time ago when I saw it on sale. I'm glad I had enough time to watch it carefully and really absorb it because it is such a brilliant and well-written story. The imagery in the film is equally superb, so it is not surprising that the film won Oscar awards for Best Cinematography, Art Direction, and Costume Design. The acting was also remarkable, with Zhang Ziyi in the lead role actually receiving a Golden Globe best actress nomination.

I missed How to Train your Dragon when it came out in the theaters here, but my friend Me-Ann told me that she liked that movie better than Despicable Me (which I really liked). So when I saw a DVD of this Dreamworks animated film, I decided to get it. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. The animation is great and I love the underlying themes of the film, like how you should not judge something that you don't know understand, or how friendships can be formed in the most unexpected places.

I still have a lot of DVDs at home, and hopefully I can continue to find some quiet time at home to allow me to watch more movies.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Family weekend

My mom decided to book a room at the Mandarin Oriental for the weekend as sort of a summer getaway for my nephews. The initial plan was that my nephews would go swimming upon arrival, but due to several delays, my family ended up checking in at around 4pm. My mom wanted us to get something to eat first, so we went to the Ayala Triangle and had a meal in Bon Chon Chicken. I ate here once before and I really enjoyed the food, and as it turned out, so did my family.

On the way to Ayala Triangle, my mom saw a billboard for 'Thor' and asked me when it was showing. I said that it already was. My mom wanted to see it so I decided to head over to Greenbelt to try and get tickets while the rest of my family had some gelato in Amici. All cinemas in Greenbelt 3 were fully booked (next available showing was close to 11pm already) but luckily for us, the old theater in Greenbelt 1 still had a lot of seats. And, since the cinema was older (but still clean and comfortable!), tickets here cost only P120. So not only did we manage to catch the 7:10pm showing, we got good seats and saved close to P400. Cool!

I really enjoyed 'Thor'. Of course, the special effects were amazing. And considering that this was a big blockbuster, I didn't expect that the cast would put in really good performances. Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins (who portrayed Thor's love interest and Odin, respectively) and Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki, were all great (I especially loved Hiddleton's delivery of an enraged and bitter Loki in one of the final scenes of the film). Chris Hemsworth was also very believable as the arrogant god of thunder who later learns the value of compassion and need for peace. I think what made the film an even better watch was the fact that it didn't take itself as seriously as most other films in the same genre. Leave it to director Kenneth Branagh to inject a lot of humor and witticism throughout the film that made it more interesting overall.

After the movie, we decided to have a late dinner in Mr. Jones. I've eaten here a few times but my family haven't, and I know there are lots of items in the menu that they would enjoy.

The next day, I took my nephews swimming while my mom went to the gym. The pool was pretty full and I wasn't really in the mood to get wet so I just listened to my ipod while looking after my nephews. They spent more than 2 hours in the pool before we went back to our room to get cleaned up before checking out. We ended up heading back to Ayala Triangle for another meal in Bon Chon Chicken (which seems to be my nephews' new favorite resto). It was a full and fun weekend, and why would it not be? Any quality time spent with the family is always fantastic.