Monday, December 31, 2012

Way to go, Nonito!

Congratulations to Nonito Donaire for being proclaimed boxer/fighter of the year both by Sports Illustrated and ESPN. He won all four of his fights this year which clearly locks him in as the year's best boxer, but it's his attitude that puts him head and shoulders above everyone else. He is the only fighter in the world who has enrolled in VADA for random drug testing. This means that the organization is allowed to test him any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, whether he is in training for a fight or not (read more about this here).

photo courtesy of espn.go.com

That Donaire almost took his own life as a ten year old is a testament to how much he has had to overcome in his life to reach the pinnacle of success. Congratulations Nonito!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Coffee spill disaster

A very tiring week ended in a bit of disaster. It was past 9 in the evening and I had just finished all the days chores but I hadn't had dinner yet. So I drive by to a nearby cafe to get some pasta and coffee for take out. Naturally, the coffee came first so I decided to bring it to my car while waiting for the pasta. I mixed in the sugar and cream while still inside the cafe, put the lid back on, and headed to my car. I must've thought the lid was perfectly locked in so in a monumentally stupid move, I held on to the lid as I lifted the cup onto the cup holder. As I did, the cup slipped out just short of the cup holder and practically all coffee spilled into the passenger seat. Argh!!!

To say I was frustrated and stressed out was an understatement. Most of the coffee went straight into the passenger seat and a so the few documents as well as my CD case also got a bit soaked. It could have been worse though; I could've spilled the coffee onto the driver's seat. I spent several minutes trying to clean up my car as best I could with tissue and the waiters actually had to bring my take out to me at the car. I knew I had to get my car cleaned ASAP and I know Banawe is the best place for anything car-related but it was a bit too far. So I looked for other options online and I stumbled upon Big Bert's.

Big Bert's Professional Detailers is located in Ortigas Home Depot and is open on Sundays so I decided to drive there as soon as I woke up. I thought the process would be more lengthy and tedious - and maybe there is an option that is more thorough - but they ended up just shampooing the seat. There's still a coffee smell in the car - at least it's coffee so the smell is a bit tolerable - but at least the seat is in better condition now. And it took only 20-30 minutes (I thought it would take up a whole day).

Waiting for my car to be cleaned made me think about getting a full auto detail. The guy there told me that it would take about 4 days and would cost about P7,500 (big car; it'll cost less for normal sedan-type cars of course). I'm thinking of having this done in late January or February.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dinner buffet at Paseo Uno

My mom had a voucher for a buffet at Paseo Uno that was expiring by the end of this year. She had only one voucher and since I am always in Makati and I eat more than she does, she decided to give it to me. Once again I put off my plans to lose weight by gorging myself. But hey, it's not everyday that you get to enjoy a grand dinner at Paseo Uno! My favorite was the grilled rib eye. Sooo good...


As if that wasn't enough, I feasted on a few items from the dessert station right after.


It was close to 9:30 pm when I was done with this wonderful buffet dinner. Not surprisingly, even hours later I was still pretty full. As such, any plans I had to run or exercise a bit at home were thrown out the window. I have now become one of those people who always have an excuse not to work out. (Whatever happened to my 21-day-challenge-championship mentality?) I need to start talking to and hanging out with people who regularly go to the gym. That way, their exuberance and desire for fitness may hopefully rub off on me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ber-month weddings

After Ben and Laila's wedding last November, I attended 3 more weddings to round out the year. First to tie the knot were Alvin and Doray. I was a bit late for the ceremony in Mary the Queen Parish right next to Xavier School. The reception was held at The Marriott in Resorts World. Food was served at the table and it took a while for everyone to be served all courses, but Alvin and Doray had the right idea: during dinner service, we played a game where people would have to identify the movie from which each of ten songs being performed by the band was taken. This meant that people were all paying attention to the band and talking amongst themselves and writing songs down on pieces of paper. This obviously kept everyone entertained. By the time the band was done with all ten songs, we were midway through dinner already.

The next wedding I attended was that of Chachie and JM. The ceremony was at the Archbishop's Palace (I've been there once before to watch a performance of the Philippine Madrigals) and we moved to the Light of Love Events Place for the reception. I also sang two songs. The first song I performed was Kahit maputi na ang buhok ko by Rey Valera. It's a beautiful song which was specifically requested by the couple and it's the first time I ever sang that song in front of an audience. It's also the first time I did a bit of an ad lib talk during the instrumental part to keep people entertained and eliminate dead air, much to the amusement of my friends there hehe. I then sang Cruisin' with JM's sister. We didn't practice at all but Chachie wanted us to sing together so we just went with it and it seemed to turn out okay (I guess we both knew the song pretty well anyway, so it was more a matter of matching each other and harmonizing).

Finally, my "uncle" Jim wed Mira a couple of Fridays ago. I use the term "uncle" loosely here because he's my mom's cousin so he's a generation ahead but I'm several years older than him. :) They got married at the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Makati. I've been there once about a decade ago for Amy and Duncan's wedding, but somehow I still remembered how to get there. We ended up being very early for the wedding because my mom was a 'ninang' so we had to make sure we got there before the start of the cerermony. As it turned out, the time indicated on the invitation was 30 minutes early so we had time to get settled. I was also asked to be part of the offertory. The reception was held at the the clubhouse of McKinley Hill. Thankfully, I was very familiar with the area because I managed to avoid the rough and tough Friday traffic during Christmas and we arrived at the clubhouse about an hour before most other people. At the end of the wedding, we took home some of the flowers that we ended up using for Tatay's death anniversary a few days later.

Most of the weddings I've attended before these last three have been suit-and-tie events so I'm quite pleased that in two of these, I got to wear a barong. I miss wearing a barong during weddings actually. It's so much easier and comfortable to wear than a suit. I did notice though that the sleeves of my barong are just a smidge short now. I don't know if it's because they shrunk a bit from washing or because I have gotten wider. Whatever the reason, I need to start losing weight ASAP and maybe I should also get a new barong for the next wedding I attend.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Little things" live by One Direction

I can't believe I'm actually posting about a boyband here on my blog LOL. I recently saw an episode of David Letterman and One Direction were performing. I was seriously surprised that I quite enjoyed, and was even impressed with, the group's performance of their song "Little Things". Check it out here:

 
video uploaded in youtube by soundcreepsTV

I wasn't expecting to hear a singer-songwriter vibe, nor was I expecting them to connect to the song. It makes me realize that while pop celebrities earn their big bucks through a lot of hype and catchy songs, a lot of them do break into the scene because they have a lot of talent. Of course, it also helps that this beautiful song was written by the amazing Ed Sheeran and Fiona Bevan.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A different and not-so-different Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone!

Christmas Day was naturally spent with my family. It was also a bit of a unique Christmas celebration. My mom, brother, and I visited my grandmother Nanay where we had Christmas lunch. After lunch, mom and I took Nanay to visit one of her best friends who was in the ICU. We then went to the cemetery to visit Tatay and our other relatives there. After which we headed over to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary church near Times Street for the wake of one of our distant relatives. We got there shortly before 6pm so we heard Christmas mass there. We decided to have dinner in Wee Nam Kee in Ayala Triangle so we could also catch the light show. It was 10:30 PM when we finally got home after a very long but eventful day.

Then again, not everything was all that different. Christmas isn't Christmas without a bit of binging and this year was no exception. I have to admit that I have unfortunately surpassed the amount of food I ate in past Yuletide seasons. I've always wanted to order some good food for Christmas but I never got to plan this well enough in the past and by the time I wanted to place an order somewhere, it was too late. Until now. I called Dulcelin early last week and ordered their US Beef Belly Roast Beef (P1700) and Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese (P1800). I had this during Christmas eve dinner, Noche Buena, and Christmas lunch. And there are still some leftovers. :)

US Beef Belly Roast Beef (P1,700)

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese (P1,800) 

The weekend leading up to the 25th involved a lot of eating too (of course):

  • Friday night: dinner with my colleagues and ex-colleagues where we wined and dined on lechon (wow!), pancit, chicken, fish fillet, and red velvet cake which we enjoyed with Nespresso, courtesy of Raffa and Joh and their Nespresso machine.
  • Saturday lunch: I attended (albeit extremely late) the 2nd birthday of Trigo where I had two full servings of spaghetti, chicken, barbecue, mixed vegetables, and a few other items from the buffet.
  • Saturday dinner: I met up with my college groupmates for our annual Christmas get-together which we had in CPK in Power Plant mall., followed by dessert and coffee in Brida.
  • Sunday lunch: I met up with my college gang ('the clan') for lunch where we had two different pasta dishes, pancit, barbecue, lumpiang ubod, chicken, ham and bread, vegetables, fish, and a caramel cake and ice buko. 
I reckon I must have now piled on at least 5 lbs. Now it's time to redevelop the discipline needed to hit the gym regularly.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ersao late at night

Christmas season in the Philippines, or more specifically in Manila, is always a busy time. People are always moving from one party to another, doing their Christmas shopping or buying other stuff they need for the holidays. I was not an exception, as this last weekend brought with it a lot of driving through gnarly traffic to meet up with different sets of friends and get some errands done.

Thankfully, the roads were pretty clear on Sunday but I was still pretty active all throughout the day. I somehow missed dinner so on my way home late at night, I decided to stop by Ersao in West Avenue for a good, hot meal. I was starving by this time that I got two dishes - the pork steak with rice (P105) and a small bowl of noodles with dumplings (P75). I tossed in a regular order of passion fruit green tea (P65).


Clearly, I was really hungry since I took this next photo about 11 minutes later:


All that for P245. And I do like the food. So for me, this place is good value for money. There are a few branches (check out this link for the list) although the closing time varies per branch. Thankfully the one in West Avenue stays open until 1am so I was still able to have a hearty meal to end the long weekend.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tatay's First Death Anniversary

Can't believe it's been a year. Today, my family and some friends joined us in the cemetery for my grandfather Tatay's 1st death anniversary. Technically, we observed this a day early, but Nanay didn't want a lot of us to take a day off. Of course, we also considered how horrible Monday traffic in December is, so we decided to gather one day ahead.


There is a chapel in the cemetery so we offered the 4:30 pm mass to Tatay. The chapel is pretty near the area where Tatay is buried where we had a tent, some chairs and a table with a lot of food set up for the day. We walked over there after the mass so we could all have some food and catch up with relatives and friends. Once everyone had their fill, we prayed we said a rosary.

A lot of us were together this afternoon, including an uncle and an aunt both of whom I haven't seen in years. It was a good day despite the rain. Hopefully, Tatay is having fun up there. We love you, Tatay!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Knock out

It's a sad day for the Philippines as Manny Pacquiao suffers his second loss in a row, this time against nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez. While their previous three fights have gone the full twelve rounds, this last one ended in half the time, when Marquez knocked Pacquiao out in the sixth round.

It hasn't been a very good year for Manny with respect to his boxing career as he also lost his belt to Timothy Bradley about six months ago. I'm not sure what impact this will have on Manny, on whether he decides to keep fighting or if he decides to hang up his gloves and retire. Either way, he has brought immense glory to the country and will still remain as a boxing legend.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

'Tis the season for parties

Late this year, there was a bit of reorganization in my team late and we had several more people join us. As the size of our team practically doubled, I felt it would be good for us to have a Christmas celebration to celebrate the work everyone put in during the year and to have everyone spend a fun evening together and get even more integrated. I didn't want us to have the celebration in the office and I thought that having the event in a big hotel room would be a lot more fun so we ended up getting a room in the Ascott Makati (thank God for Agoda for allowing us to get the room at a cheaper rate.

This was the first party I attended where I was sort of in charge of the music. I put together a couple of playlists on my ipod a few months back that I had intended to use for an out-of-town trip with friends but I missed it because of my sprain. I wasn't sure if there would be an Ipod docking station in the Ascott (there wasn't, at least not in our room) so it was a good move on my part to bring portable speakers. Everyone seemed to enjoy the music, which also made the party just that bit more fun and interesting.

We celebrated with a lot of food, drinks, games, music and conversations that made everyone learn about each other just that bit more. So much so that we stayed up til about 7am (or well, I did, a few other people carried on with the chit-chat up until around 8am). Hopefully we carry with us this momentum of working more closely together into 2013.

I still have several more Christmas parties lined up this month, some with work colleagues and others with family and friends. That's a lot of celebrating to do! I'm definitely looking forward to the next few weeks. :)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Attending my first Muslim Malay wedding

My really good friend Ben tied the knot last weekend and I flew to Singapore - where he has been based for the last six to seven years - to attend his wedding. It was a weekend of firsts for me, as I attended a Muslim Malay wedding for the first time (Ben's wife, Laila, is Muslim Malay and Ben converted to Islam.) It was also the first wedding I attended where neither the bride nor the groom were Filipino. In fact, as far as I could tell, I was the only Filipino in attendance.

Their wedding spanned two days. The first day consisted of the legal and religious ceremony, which was held at a mosque. It was fairly straightforward, although since part of the ceremony was spoken in Malay, I couldn't really tell you what was being said. It lasted 30 minutes and when we left the mosque, we headed over to the void deck of a nearby apartment block - this is where the reception on day 2 was also going to be held - for some food.

The second day was more celebratory. Apparently, in Malay weddings, part 2 of the wedding is meant to treat the couple like royalty. Ben arranged transportation to the venue for both days and since I didn't know how to get there, I headed to his apartment. As soon as I got there, the guys were all doing some Gangnam Style-inspired choreography. When Ben spots me, he immediately directs me to the back of the group and tells me I have to join in. It was slightly awkward because everyone else had on traditional Malay outfits and I was in a suit. But well, Ben did ask me to join the group and it was his wedding so I couldn't say no. This piece of choreography was performed during Ben's main entrance. It turned out pretty great, I think, as the Gangnam Style dance moves are universally recognized and enjoyed by everyone all over the world. :) The thing that scared me the most about this was that we were supposed to fire party cannons once the dance was done and I was concerned I would do it wrong or that I'd fire my cannon straight into someone's face. Thankfully, we pulled it off without incident. :)

The wedding was held outdoors so everyone was sweating buckets (I ditched my suit jacket as soon as our entrance was done but it was still hot; after all, we were in Singapore). Ben and Laila actually did one outfit change in the middle of the day. The event lasted from around 1pm to very late afternoon, during which time I actually went to the buffet table a couple of times. The food was really good! There was also a karaoke machine set up during the event and a lot of people had already performed in the early afternoon. At some point, Ben asked me if I had already signed up for karaoke and I said I hadn't. He said I had to do it. Once again, I couldn't say no. The song list didn't really include any of my usual repertoire of songs so I ended up singing "Unchained Melody". It was a different version played at a much lower key, but that was a good thing since I didn't have to worry about the very high note towards the end. It was fairly well-received although I was nervous throughout and my hand was even shaking. Not sure why, I guess it was my first time in a long time performing in front of a crowd I wasn't familiar with.

It was awesome for me to experience my first Malay Muslim wedding. Of course, the fact that it was held in Singapore meant that it gave me another excuse to fly to the and hang out with my good friends who are based here. I got to meet up with Anna, Tim B, Sarah, Kokog, Ina, Orly, Lalai, Lawrence, Hannah, Steph, Tim T, Che, and Paul. I also got to sneak in a couple of trips to the cinema to see Argo and Pitch Perfect (I missed both of them when they were shown in the Philippines so I felt I had to see them in SG while I still could.) All in all, a packed and very good trip.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

"Jump In" by Jessica Sanchez and Apl. De.Ap

I heard this on the radio today. Needless to say, I am not at all surprised that Apl.De.Ap and Jessica Sanchez collaborated on a song. :)

 
video uploaded in youtube by JessicaJumpIn

Would be awesome to have them both come to the Philippines and perform together.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Back from hiatus

I haven't blogged in the last three weeks, which is longest I have gone without posting in recent years. That's mainly because this November has been absolutely hectic. Not only did I had lots of deadlines at work but I also took a trip to Singapore in the midst of it all to attend my friend's wedding, which I will write about shortly. While I do have finally have some breathing room right now, the holidays are coming up so things will start getting crazy again. Which reminds me, I need to start working on my Christmas list.