Monday, October 29, 2012

Celebrating with my family

To celebrate my birthday with my family, I used another discount voucher to book a two-bedroom suite at the Holiday Inn in Ortigas. We arrived at the hotel in the early evening, but for some reason, our room was still not ready. To compensate for this delay, the hotel gave us free wifi and a late check-out. Since we couldn't go into our room yet, we decided to go to Galleria. I promised my nephew Ciera I would take him to watch "Hotel Transylvania" so we quickly look at the movie schedules - there was a 9pm showing - so I got us a couple of tickets and we headed to TGI Friday's for dinner. Our room was ready by the time we were done with dinner so while my mom, my grandma 'Nanay', and my other nephew CJ (he wasn't interested in watching the movie) stayed in the room, Ciera and I went back to the mall. Hotel Transylvania was a fun movie, although I have to say it really caters more to kids than to adults.

Nanay's students back in the day had organized a reunion in Resorts World, and they invited Nanay to join them for lunch on Sunday. My mom was also attending a birthday party for the grandkid of one of her friends at 3pm that same day. The initial plan was that we would bring Nanay to Resorts World and then go back to the hotel since we were given a 4pm check-out but I felt it would be a better use of our time for us to just check out at noon. We leave the hotel at 12pm and I drop Nanay off at Resorts World. While waiting for Nanay, we go to Old Swiss Inn for a late lunch. Since CJ wasn't with us when we tried the Fondue Bourguignonne (prime beef tenderloin cubes dipped in hot oil, with a carousel of sauces and served french fries) during Ciera's birthday, we order it again using my second fondue voucher.

Fondue Bourguignonne

We dip these tenderloin cubes into the hot oil to cook them.

On top of that, I also order the Walliser Fondue (made with Swiss wine, Gruyere, Emmental, and Raclette cheeses, and fresh tomatoes and served with vegetables and crunchy bread). It's an acquired taste but I quite enjoyed it; it was especially good with the vegetables.

 Walliser Fondue

After our lunch (we ordered a couple of other items), we head back to Resorts World to pick Nanay up before dropping my mom off at her party. We knew she would be there for a couple of hours so I decide to go to Greenbelt and wait there. I thought this would be a good time for me to try J. Co Donuts. The line here is always tremendously long but we didn't really have anything to do. It took me almost an hour to be served but thankfully, we got a table where my family could sit and my nephews had their PSPs with them to keep them entertained the entire time. It didn't make sense to fall in line for an hour just for a couple of donuts so I got two dozen assorted donuts.

The long and winding queue at J. Co Donuts

Once I got the donuts, we head to Time Zone because I promised my nephews I'd take them there. We left Nanay at the Figaro right beside it - I ordered an iced tea for her and she got one of the donuts - and we headed straight to the arcade. We were all tremendously lucky in the ball drop game but when we discovered the pinball machine, we spent most of our time there. We wrapped up when my mom arrived and we then headed home.

As soon as we got home, everyone started trying the J. Co Donuts and well they were an instant hit. These donuts definitely lived up to the hype. They are light and not too sweet and it's so easy to eat a couple in just one go. Nanay mentioned that the donut with hazelnut cream she ate was really good so we gave her the other hazelnut donut as well as a couple other ones for her to try. By the end of the night, we had consumed a little more than a dozen donuts already!

The first box of 12 was wiped out by the end of the day!

It was a full birthday weekend with my family, so much so that even my nephew said by the end of Sunday that we did a lot that day. Hope that's a good sign for the coming year. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Several months back, I bought several photobook vouchers from Ensogo. They were all expiring in end-October so I figured I had more than enough time to create all my photobooks in time. Wrong! Crammer that I am, I only started in September. I should still have had more than enough time to get them done but my October was incredibly hectic. With 4 days left before the vouchers would expire, I still had 6 unused vouchers. Crap! (Yes, I bought a whole lot of vouchers. :))

I managed to complete and order three photobooks but with less than 48 hours left, I still had three to go. Of those three, I had finished the lay out of two of them but both were still missing captions. The last one, I hadn't even started yet. Thankfully, my friend Joh, who bought vouchers at the same time I did and whose vouchers were also expiring, texted me saying that she managed to get her expiry dates extended by two weeks. So I called Photobook Philippines about 13 hours before my vouchers expire and ask for an extension, which they very generously give me. Whew! If not for that, I would have had to submit my two photobooks with ugly captions and I may have been unable to use the last one.

Thankfully, we have two consecutive long weekends. I decided to rest a bit this last one but I should be done with all three remaining books by the time the Nov 1-4 weekend hits. I'm really pleased with the ones that have already been shipped to me so I definitely can't wait to see the remaining books. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Celebrity Chef Special in Bellissimo

I finally met up with Jette, Chari, and Anna (her Manila trip was timed perfectly) for my joint birthday celebration with Chari. We normally celebrate with Bett but she is currently out of the country until mid-November (Chari leaves the country for a few months in a few weeks so since she and Bett wouldn't be in Manila at the same time, we decided to meet up once now while Chari is still here then we'd meet up again once Bett is back). Ric was also supposed to join us but he unfortunately got stuck at work until the very late at night.

I picked Bellissimo as our dinner venue because Jette requested that we get together in the QC area. I had eaten in this Italian restaurant a couple of times before and I enjoyed the food and ambience. However, I didn't realize until I got there that location had changed! I last ate there about two years and it was still on Scout Castor street at the time. When I arrived at their previous location, I couldn't see it anymore. I had to ask a security guard where Bellissimo was and thankfully he knew that the resto moved to Scout Rallos extension. I quickly call and text everyone else to inform them of the location change and give them directions.

When we were all finally gathered together, it was a lot of good and fun conversation. The last time I saw Jette was a year ago during my birthday celebration while Chari I last saw in December. We ordered two pastas and two pizzas, including one that was called 'Sunshine Pizza', which is most likely named after Sunshine Cruz (Bellissimo is owned by Cesar Montano). I decided to order one more pasta - Aglio Olio - and it was Sunshine Cruz herself who served it to us. As she placed our order on the table, she told us all that she cooked it herself. Cool! I can't believe I have now eaten a dish cooked by a celebrity. And it tasted really good too!

The main drawback of this place now is that their menu is quite limited. They don't have antipasti (although they have sausages and a few appetizers) and the only dessert they carry is panna cotta. However, they do have an extensive pizza and pasta selection, some of which are quite interesting and unique, and the food is really good. If you are comfortable just eating pasta and pizza, Bellissimo is definitely worth a visit.

Sunshine talked to us a bit as we were all getting ready to leave and we told her that we really enjoyed our night there. Chari even said that she would return with her husband. Anna and Jette asked if we could have our picture taken with her and she very nicely obliged us. It was a unique experience being served by a celebrity who even cooked our food. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Catch-up night

I hadn't seen Jane and Martin in ages so I got in touch with both of them recently to schedule a catch-up night. We were supposed to meet in Resorts World but Jane told us there was a major event going on there so we changed venues and opted instead for Nuvo in Greenbelt 2. Martin arrived first and got us a table on the second floor. I had been to Nuvo several times before but I somehow never realized it had a second floor. It was a bit of a weird set-up though, with a live band playing on the ground floor and a DJ playing party music on the second floor. Since there wasn't a lot of soundproofing, however, we could hear the live music on top of the party music. Nevertheless, we didn't really pay much attention to the music as we talked about a lot of stuff. After all, there was a whole lot to catch up on.

I ended up getting a pizza and a bottle of wine. Later in the night, we ended up talking about Patron and how there apparently is a coffee variation of this drink. Martin got us each a shot but he suggested that instead of drinking it like a regular shot, we could just sip it. Which we did. It was actually quite good!

We were the last three people to leave Nuvo - I'm surprised they didn't kick us out haha. We decided that we shouldn't wait too long 'til our next get-together.

Monday, October 08, 2012

David Archuleta sings OPM!

When David Archuleta came out with his "Forevermore" CD that featured covers of a lot of amazing OPM (Original Pilipino Music) songs, I knew I had to get it. Instead of purchasing it myself, though, I added it to my birthday wishlist, so my friends ended up getting it for me. The verdict? I absolutely love this album! While his rendition of "Nandito ako" is particularly noteworthy as he has to learn how to sing in Filipino (and despite his slight twang, he does a very good job of it), I think my current favorite is his rendition of the Neocolours classic, "Hold on". Check it out:

uploaded in youtube by ArchieBR

I say that this is my current favorite because it could very easily change to something else. He does justice to every song in this album, and his voice is perfectly suited to these Pinoy ballads. If you don't have it yet, I suggest you get a copy. I think it's great that David Archuleta released this album, because it also allows the entire world to hear some truly beautiful music from our country.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Vettel makes it two in a row

Fresh off his win in Singapore, Sebastian Vettel continues his success in Asia as he wins the Japan Grand Prix. With Fernando Alonso losing control just as the race started after making contact with Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel's twenty-five points in this race now moves him extremely close to the overall drivers' championship this year. Alonso still leads with 194 points, but Vettel's 190 points puts him in good stead as the season winds down.

Felipe Massa takes second place while Kamui Kobayashi makes his home country proud as he places third, finishing 0.56 seconds ahead of Jenson Button. After a disappointing year, Button seems to finding his form once again as he placed second in Singapore and fourth here. Hopefully he can continue to drive well in the remaining five races of the year and improve his overall standing.

Friday, October 05, 2012

A good way to end the week

A lot of people from our corporate social responsibility initiative at work had already left the company. From a situation where we talk to each other and see each other regularly to barely seeing and hearing from each other was a big change. So while talking to one of the folks recently, we decided it was high time we all got together for a reunion.

Somehow, I ended up organizing it hahaha. I suggested three places and the gang ended up choosing Kitchen's Best in BGC; I figured this would be an easy place to get to during Friday traffic, the parking would be easy, and the food was good. It was also an easy place to have conversation, which was actually an important factor as we all haven't been together as a group in ages.

As expected, it was a fun night. Thankfully, almost all of us were able to make it: Doms, Denise, Zaza, Mon, Deryk, Leianne, Enrique, Kat, Kristel, and myself. The thing about having great friends is that even if you haven't seen each other in a long time, you just easily pick up where you left off. Lots of changes in people's lives but a lot of things still remain the same, too.

It was a few hours of updates and stories and laughs over good food and dessert. Kitchen's Best closes at around 10 or 1030pm but somehow we stayed there 'til way past their closing time. We all decided we would meet up again in December. Of course, I made sure someone else was assigned to organize that. :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

UP: UAAP Cheerdance Stunt Competition champions

Since I posted the winning cheerdance routine, I thought it was only fair to post the winning stunts competition routine as well.

video uploaded in youtube by iamthemanansala 

UP Fight! :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Conti's Strawberry Shortcake

Conti's is known for its good desserts. While most people rave about the Mango Bravo, I do think my favorite is their Mango Tart. However, second honors for me go to their Strawberry Shortcake. It's light and fluffy, making it very easy to eat even after a heavy meal.

This cake is P395 and is about 6" in diameter and 4" tall. Its size makes it perfect for small groups of people and its price makes it quite affordable. I ended up getting a whole cake for myself LOL. A friend of mine told me that I am the only one he knows who buys a full cake just for himself (of course I eat it over the course of a few days). But when you think about it, cake slices tend to cost close to P100 so getting a full cake (which translates to about 8 slices) means you save a lot more. It also means I end up eating a lot of sugar over the course of a week. But hey, I don't do it very often. :)

Monday, October 01, 2012

Pet peeve

Am I the only one who gets annoyed whenever I am asked if I want a float and twister fries with my McDonald's Value Meal? I know that they want increase their sales and asking if customers want to upgrade increases the chances that someone will actually upsize, but it really irritates me when I get into the following conversation:

Me: I'd like to order meal #2
McDonald's: would you like twister fries and a float with that?
Me: No
... pause ...
McDonald's: so what is your order sir?

I figured that if I say 'no' to an upgrade, they would realize that I just want the regular one. But then again I realized that each value meal doesn't default to the regular size anymore; the menu says there is a medium and a small version of each meal. I guess I will now change my ordering pattern and say "I'd like to order a Small Value Meal #2". (Of course, even then I am sure I will still be asked if I want an upsize. Oh well...)