Friday, June 29, 2012

Nadal out

What a horrible result. Rafael Nadal is out of Wimbledon. In the 2nd round! Ugh...

No one had really heard of Lukas Rosol prior to that 2nd round meeting with Rafa. So it was incredibly unlucky for Nadal that Rosol was playing on a different plane. His serve was practically unplayable. He was hitting his groundstrokes with as much power as I've seen on a tennis court. And he kept that level of play for practically the entire match.

It didn't help, too, that the match was put on hold when Rafa finally seemed to have found his rhythm and his return game. It was getting dark but since the tournament officials wanted to complete their match that evening, they decided to close the roof so play could continue. However, it would take 30-40 minutes for the roof to close and the court to be set up. By then, all the momentum Rafa built in winning the 4th set and breaking Rosol twice was gone. And unfortunately, Rosol didn't let up.

Which meant that Rafa Nadal, for the first time in years, was trundled out of the second round of a Grand Slam. It also means he will drop to #3 in the world. Oh well. He still has a shot at another important grass court tournament soon - the Olympics.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My new game boards!

My friends Joh and Raffa usually order lots of stuff from the US and have them shipped by bulk to Manila, and sometimes I 'piggy back' on their shipment. Last year, I ordered a lot of CDs and DVDs. This time, I ordered a few board games: Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, and Ticket to Ride.

I learned all these games through my friend Mike, who's a big board game fan, but he moved back to the US. I was initially planning to get my own 7 Wonders here in Manila but I found out it cost more than P3000 in Hobbes and Landes and it costs about half of that on Amazon. As such, I figured I would buy my board games on Amazon instead.

Next step: figure out which of my friends here in Manila are interested in these strategy games. What follows should be hours of fun! :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Losing channels

This is so upsetting. Skycable keeps dropping its channels. I could deal with the channels that have been dropped in the past: BBC, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and Cinemax, to name a few. But now, Starsports, ESPN, and Fox will be dropped effective July 1. Crap!! I now need to have a digibox set-up ASAP. Otherwise I won't be able to watch Wimbledon which is airing on Starsports right now, straight through to the first week of July. Oh well. I guess that is really how business works. Maybe I should just switch to Cignal...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Nephew time

I promised my nephew that I would take him to watch Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted this week. Since my mom also wanted to watch Rock of Ages (the movie, not the live musical which is also being staged in Manila right now), we all went to Powerplant to watch. We got there about 10 minutes before the next Madagascar showing and thankfully there was practically no line when we got there. I quickly buy two tickets for Madagascar, and one for Rock of Ages that was going to start about an hour later.

Madagascar 3 was a really fun and funny movie, with enough heartwarming moments to make it entertaining and appealing to people of all ages. I loved the circus angle (especially Vitaly the tiger's backstory), the ferocity of Captian Chantel Dubois, and the visuals - from the awesome car chase scene to the spectacular circus show. I watched it in 2D but there were a lot of scenes that I think would look great in 3D

Since our movie ended before my mom's, we decided to swing by Power Station where we tried a whole horde of games, including air hockey, go go balls, some shooting games, and Mario Kart.

By the time we finished playing, Rock of Ages was over so we all headed to Milky Way for dinner before heading home. It's always fun to have these relaxed days and I'm happy that I once again find some time to visit the cinema. :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

'Madame Butterfly' in CCP

I enjoyed my first opera experience when I watched La Traviata a few months. As such, I made sure to get tickets to Madame Butterfly, which was shown this weekend (June 22 and 23) in the CCP.

Madame Butterfly is an opera by Giacomo Puccini. It tells the tale of Cio-Cio San (Madame Butterfly), a young Japanese woman living in Nagasaki. She marries B. F. Pinkerton, an American naval officer who was looking for a wife for temporary companionship while he was based in Japan. Eventually, he returns to the US and marries an American woman. But Cio-Cio San doesn't know this, and continues to hang on to the belief that he will come back for her. When a letter from Pinkerton is delivered to her by Sharpless, the US Consul in Nagasaki, to inform her that he is coming back to Japan, she becomes so excited and reveals to him that she has a son with Pinkerton. Her anticipation of Pinkerton's arrival means that Sharpless is unable to share all the information in that letter with her, which is mainly that he has a wife.

When Pinkerton learns about his son from Sharpless, he visits Madame Butterfly along with his wife and with Sharpless, but he then learns that she is still deeply in love with him. He is unable to face her and promptly leaves her house remorseful and just as Madame Butterfly appears, and it is at this point that she meets his wife who then asks her to give her son to them so they can provide a better future for him in the US. Heartbroken and disconsolate, she agrees to give up her son if Pinkerton comes back to see her himself. As she ushers her son out, blindfolded, she kills herself with her father's hara-kiri knife just as Pinkerton returns, too late.

If this story sounds sort of familiar, it is because the London West-End and Broadway Musical was inspired by Madame Butterfly. I forgot about this so I still bought the program, but I guess it is nice to read more information about the opera, the production, and the cast. Another interesting thing about this opera was a translation of what was being sung was projected on a small screen at the top of the stage in CCP, making it easier to follow what was going on.

The opera was headlined by Mako Nishimoto, a multi-awarded Japanese soprano, and she didn't disappoint. I guess the fact that she is from Japan makes it easier for her connect to the character and the story. While the songs and arias in Madame Butterfly are not as difficult (I think) as those in La Traviata, the role of Madame Butterfly / Cio-Cio San is difficult to portray just because she sings so much throughout all three acts. Of her supporting cast, I was also impressed with Camille Lopez Molina, who played Suzuki (Madame Butterfly's aide), and Andrew Fernando, who played Sharpless.

The one thing about this opera I didn't like was the "Humming Chorus" at the end of Act II. You can see one interpretation of this humming chorus here. However, the director wanted to give an artsy, contemporary take on this sequence, which meant that he had singers and dancers performing while wearing strange, neon-light-fitted costumes. Maybe this means that I'm not artsy enough and lack an appreciation for modern and performance art, but I just thought it was cheap and inappropriate. I found myself wishing that the direction of this scene could have been kept clean and simple.

Nevertheless I was still very pleased and impressed with the opera. The standing ovations and thunderous applause received by the cast, especially Mako Nishimoto, were well-deserved. I also think it was cool that I was in the same audience as National Artist Benedicto Cabrera (popularly referred to BenCab). I think it's great that more operas are coming to the Philippines. While I had always wanted to watch one before, I now have watched two in a matter of a few months. The Barber of Seville will be performed again in CCP in mid-July and I will be watching this opera too.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jessica Sanchez sings the Star Spangled Banner

Check out Jessica Sanchez singing the Star Spangled Banner in the 2012 National Memorial Concert.

  video uploaded in youtube by PBS

While she had difficulty with the lowest notes of the song here, I think it's a better overall performance than her rendition during the Pacquiao-Bradley fight.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

It's the first time my family celebrated Father's day without Tatay. It's been exactly 6 months since he passed away so we decided to visit him in the cemetery.

Actually, I have been to the cemetery on almost a weekly basis for most of the year. It's not easy for Nanay to go to the cemetery unless someone drives her there so I try to bring her there every Sunday. (Obviously, I wasn't able to do it a lot recently because of my sprained ankle.)  But while a lot of those trips are just me and Nanay, this time, a lot of my family joined us.

After visiting Tatay in the cemetery, we had dinner in Adarna. We ordered a few items we already tried before but we also got to try a couple of new dishes: the Ensaladang Puso sa Gata and Grilled Chicken Breast with kesong puti boursin, bacon, and mango salsa. Both were really good! I love the fact that the ensaladang puso sa gata had tomatoes and vinaigrette mixed in because the acid cut through the richness of the coconut and added an additional dimension of flavor. The Grilled Chicken breast was also really good. The chicken itself was so well cooked and tasty, and the kesong puti didn't have the heaviness of other cheeses mixed in with food. I really love this restaurant and how the dishes served are Pinoy meals from all over the country but with a twist.

I also got the two Sugarhouse cakes I purchased at a good discount from Deal Grocer: Concorde and Cashew Toffee. (I initially intended to claim them for Mother's Day but that was when I had just sprained my ankle and couldn't walk, so I decided to claim them now instead.)

Tatay wasn't with physically with us today but his spirit was definitely present as we celebrated Father's Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Two-part Yaminoy reunion

It's not very often that I get to see my Yaminoy friends. Recently, however, Fred moved to Manila and since it was around the time of his and Eliza's respective birthdays so that was more than enough reason for us to meet up.

Our first get-together was scheduled in Little Asia at the Piazza. However, since it was on the same night as the Lifehouse concert here in Manila which both Yam and Meg were attending, we decided to schedule another dinner a few weeks after. I met up with Eliza, Marie, and Anj that night - most of the others ended up having last minute stuff that prevented them from joining - but despite the fact that there were "only" four of us, the conversations were extremely fun and exciting. After all, it was just shortly after the American Idol finale. :)

Naturally, American Idol also factored into the discussion in our second dinner which we had in Kitchen in Greenbelt 3. For this reunion installment, I was joined by Beck, Meg, and Fred. If the first dinner lasted three hours, this second one lasted more than an hour longer! LOL Clearly, the Yaminoys love catching up and talking about TV, music, movies, and just pop culture in general.

Hopefully we get to meet up again soon, this time with more people in tow. If groups of four made for incredibly fun discussions, I can imagine if more of us are together. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Happy Philippine Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to Filipinos all over the world! Apart from the appreciation of the fact that I did not have to work today, I also appreciate the courage and sacrifice of our forefathers, led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, in declaring, and fighting for, our independence.

I also love it that Google commemorates this important Filipino holiday by displaying a Filipino-flag inspire Google page. And I'm not just talking about (which of course also sports this Pinoy-inspired logo); the main page also features it. Cool! Obviously, it will change by tomorrow, but I took a screen cap. :)

Thank you, Google! And once again, Happy Independence Day to the Philippines!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rafael Nadal wins his 7th French Open Title!

What a great day! Rafa Nadal makes history by winning his 7th trophy in Roland Garros by beating his nemesis, Novak Djokovic, in four sets, 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5. The match, which started on Sunday, was interrupted by rain and had to be finished on Monday. For Nadal fans, it was worth the wait.

It started out like it was going to be a one-sided affair. Rafa started off exceedingly well and Novak, probably slightly worn out from some tough matches during the week, was not at his best. It seemed Nadal would win the championship without dropping a set as he went up a break in the third, 2-0. Then somehow, the rainy conditions that left the balls and the court wet and heavy took the sting out of Rafa's shots and prevented him from moving as well as he normally does on the red clay. All of a sudden, Novak won 8 games in a row and was up a break in the fourth. Rafa stopped the bleeding by finally holding serve before the referee called a halt to the match due to weather conditions.

Somehow, Rafa found his form again when the match resumed on Monday, and after being down a break at 1-2, he managed to turn things around and win the fourth set and the title. Woo-hoo!!

So many amazing things about this match:

  • Rafa Nadal now holds the men's record for winning the most French Open titles with 7, edging past Bjorn Borg who has 6.
  • His French Open career win-loss record? A staggering 52 wins and 1 loss. Incredible!
  • He now has 11 Grand Slam singles titles, tied with Borg and Rod Laver. Only Roger Federer (16), Pete Sampras (14), and Roy Emerson (12) have won more.
  • He also finally snaps his Grand slam final losing streak against Novak (Rafa lost to Novak in Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open). This also marks the third match in a row that Rafa has beaten the current world #1 against whom he lost 7 straight times. While that shaky third set leaves people to believe that Rafa may still have some mental demons against Novak, he still somehow managed to right the ship and win.
  • He also stays at #2. Roger Federer's loss in the semis assures Rafa of holding on to the #2 ranking until Wimbledon, which is crucial as it means Rafa once again will be seeded 2 and won't have to face Djokovic until the final.
  • Rafa now holds the distinction of being the only male player to have won three tournaments 7 times or more - Monte Carlo (8), Barcelona (7), and now the French Open (7).
  • Rafa has now also tied Roger Federer's (men's) record of winning at least one Grand Slam title each year for 8 consecutive years. He won at least one slam each year from 2005 until this year. Federer won at least one a year from 2003 to 2010.
Congratulations, Rafa! Here's hoping you can repeat your success in Wimbledon. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Reversal of fortune

It's a sad day for Filipinos as Manny Pacquiao lost his bout against Timothy Bradley. This was Pacquiao's first loss since 2005 when he was beaten by Erik Morales, snapping a string of 15 wins. What's more unfortunate about this result is that for most objective viewers, Pacquiao clearly won the fight. Somehow, the judges didn't agree and the split decision after 12 rounds meant that Bradley won. The good thing about it was the unexpected humility showcased by Manny after the loss. When asked about the result, he said that while he felt he won, he respected the judges' decision.

 After the fight, I think that a lot of people's minds immediately went to Pacquiao's win over Marquez last November. Most people had Marquez winning that but the judges ruled that Manny won. This time around, the tables seemed to have been turned, leaving Pacquiao with the short end of the stick. I guess that's the difficulty you have in sports where the winner is determined by a panel of judges. In any case, the fact that practically all fair and objective analysts feel that Pacquiao won,and with his gracious acceptance of the result, he should still come home to a grand welcome.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Tagaytay Food Trip: Chateau Hestia

The final leg in my food trip was Chateau Hestia. I didn't know about this restaurant until I read about it on tripadvisor and saw that it had some pretty good reviews. When I checked the official website and looked up the menu, I knew I had to visit.

Hestia is the Greek Goddess of hearth and home so you can expect to feel at home and quite comfortable here. The lush walkway leading to the restaurant entrance evokes a sense of tranquility and discovery, as if you are about to find a secret hideaway.

It was 1pm on a Wednesday when I had lunch here, and as it turned out, I was the only customer. I can't say what the service is like when the place is packed, but obviously it was pretty good when I was there since I was the only one being served. :) Being the lone patron also meant I could take photos freely without bothering anyone else. The restaurant design seems to be a charming fusion of European and Filipino themes.

They had a special set menu, complete with starter, soup, salad, main course, and dessert for P670 which is a pretty good deal but I wanted to try a few separate items. I decided to kick things off with the Forest Mushroom Soup (P145). Most mushroom soups have cream but this one either didn't have cream or had only a bit of it. As such, it tasted light and fresh while still being hearty with the strong flavors of the mushrooms coming through.

I followed that up with the Fresh Hestia Green Salad (petite size, P140). The menu says they use organic fresh greens in this salad, and the julienned carrots and sliced cucumber add texture to the dish. The vinaigrette dressing was pretty good too. I think the salad I had in Buon Giorno was better but this was still pretty good.

My main course was the Osso Bucco Milanese (P590), their version of a traditional dish from Italy of beef shank slowly simmered in tomato sauce served with mashed potato and mixed buttered vegetables. The beef was well-cooked and tender, the sauce was rich and flavorful, and the portion size was pretty good. I guess a couple of people can share this dish, although of course I was able to consume it all by myself LOL.

That said, I was stuffed by the time I polished off my main course that I didn't have room for dessert anymore so I just ordered brewed coffee (P95). I can't recall if the coffee came with just one refill or if it was bottomless, but I did have two cups.

I am glad I read about Chateau Hestia online because it's like finding a hidden gem in Tagaytay. I enjoyed my dining experience here - from the quality of the food to the portion size to the atmosphere. With a lot more choices in the menu that I would like to try, I'm pretty sure I'll pay this place a visit again, maybe with family or friends next time.


Chateau Hestia Garden Restaurant
Purok 5, Brgy. Bukal, Silang, Cavite, Philippines 4118

How to get there: the Chateau Hestia website provides a decent map that you can easily follow. Check out the directions here.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Tagaytay Food Trip: Buon Giorno

I love pasta and Italian food so I decided to have dinner on my second night in Buon Giorno, an Italian restaurant located at Cliffhouse. I realized at a later visit to Tagaytay that the view of Taal Lake from here is pretty spectacular so it's probably more ideal to have a meal here during the day.

The Buon Giorno menu is quite extensive so it took me a while to figure out what I wanted. As is the custom in most Italian restaurants, I was served bread along with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I love the bottle that contained both the oil and the vinegar:

I started with with the Buon Giorno's Special Salad (P218). This was pretty hefty, and the fact that it came with a lot of different ingredients that had contrasting tastes and textures made the dish quite lively. While some dressing - which was really good - had already been drizzled directly on the salad, a soup-spoon serving of it was neatly placed on the side of the plate in case you wanted more.

For my main course, I went with the Pollo Parmigiana (P507), a ham and cheese-topped chicken fillet with rich tomato sauce, served with spaghetti and a side of vegetables. The dish is quite expensive and taste-wise, I thought it didn't have a wow-factor, but the portion size was pretty good.

Plus points include the location (even if you visit at night and can't enjoy the awesome view, it's still a pretty cool and swanky place with a fair amount of parking slots), the portion sizes, and the wide selection of choices in the menu


Buon Giorno Caffe and Bistro
4 Cliff House
(046) 483-2102

How to get there: From the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa Road, turn right into Tagaytay-Calamba road. Go past the rotonda along Aguinaldo highway. Go past One Desitation (the place with a lot of restos like Teriyaki Boy, Pancake house, Starbucks, and Kon Tiki) and Leslie's Restaurant. Cliffhouse is right after Leslie's on the left side of the road.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Tagaytay Food Trip: Bag of Beans

I've been to Tagaytay a lot of times already and I've seen Bag of Beans several times in the past. Since I hadn't tried the coffee there yet, I made sure I included a stop here in my food trip.

Bag of Beans now has two locations in Tagaytay. One of them is in the rotonda area, which I believe is much newer. The one I have seen multiple times before is a bit past Mendez junction, somewhere between the rotonda and Sonya's Garden. Since this is the one I was more familiar with and it was easily along the way back from Sonya's Garden, I decided to spend my afternoon here. Looking at it from the road, you would think it is a pretty small cafe. What I didn't realize was that there was a much larger dining area at the back.

I found myself a cozy seat and ordered refillable Freshly Brewed Barako (P110). This was a perfect order for me since I planned to hang out in Bag of Beans for most of the afternoon and catch up on my reading.

After a couple of hours there, I decided to order Panacotta (P105).

The panacotta was decent and the coffee was really good. The fact that you can have refillable coffee makes this place a perfect place to just chill out for a few hours.


Bag of Beans, Tagaytay
3650 Aguinaldo Highway, Mendez Crossing West
Tagaytay City, Cavite
(046) 413-2724

How to get there: From the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa Road, turn right into Tagaytay-Calamba road. Go past the rotonda along Aguinaldo highway. Once you go past Mendez junction, keep an eye out for it on the right side of the road.