Sunday, March 30, 2014

Catching up

I met up with my college friends last night because a couple of us who are now based abroad were in town. While it is great that we got to see each other, it was not under very good circumstances. One of us was undergoing a pretty bad personal situation so we all decided to meet up to show our support.

I met up with the gang in Greeka Kouzina in SM Aura for dinner. As I was very late, almost everyone had already eaten so I went through their left-overs, all of which were really good. As I was still very hungry, I ordered another dish - the Arni Keftedes Pasta or Lamb Meatball Pasta - but this dish was just so-so so I regretted picking it instead of the Moussaka which I initially thought of getting. Ah well.

After dinner, some folks had to go home already so the rest of us who was still there headed up to Coffee Bean where we stayed for the next couple of hours. We decided to sit outdoors since there wasn't much space for us inside. We got there shortly before Earth Hour which meant that for about the next hour, we enjoyed our coffee in relative darkness.

It was an interesting night to say the least and unlike most we've ever had as a group. While there were a lot of good, positive stories that people shared with each other, apart from the difficult personal situation of our friend, a lot of us also shared some not-so-good stuff happening in our respective lives. Hopefully the next time I see the gang will be under much better circumstances.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Negatives to CD

As everything continues to get more and more digital and more and more data gets stored electronically, I felt that I needed to convert my negatives into digital photos. After all, my negatives could continue to degrade over time. I saw an option in Kodak that isn't too expensive. Converting 250 pictures from negatives to digital copies that would be saved in a CD costs P500. Not bad.

I got my first digital camera in 2001 and while I did use a disposable camera in 2002 when I went to China because the battery didn't charge properly the night before and it died at the start of our day out, almost all of my negatives are from the 90s. Since it is Throwback Thursday, here are some photos I took with a non-digital camera back in the day:

This is me from my first international trip to Singapore, taken in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I barely even recognize myself here!

I can't believe how absolutely skinny I was back then. Here's another pic of me in Singapore, this time in Sentosa Island.

I had several business trips to Japan from 1999 to 2001, during which time I got to visit Rokko Island in Kobe... well as Tokyo, where I got to see Steffi Graf play tennis in early 2000 during her farewell tour (she played against Kimiko Date).

The oldest set of photos I have is from 1995. My friends and I went to Agoo. La Union for summer. You can clearly see that the negative has degraded quite badly over the years. :)

I have now converted almost 500 photos from negatives into digital pictures. I plan to do the same for my mom's negatives; she has a whole lot more than I do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Great Innovation

Amazing how the basic and omnipresent paper cup actually helped innovator Michael McDaniel come up with the idea for the Exo, a portable, easy-to-build temporary shelter. Check out this incredible idea.

Reaction Call to Action
from Reaction on Vimeo.

Hopefully we can see this soon in the Philippines and use it to help victims of natural disasters.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tragic news about MH370

Very sad news to start the week. The Malaysian Prime Minister announced a little more than an hour ago that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370), which disappeared last March 8, ended its journey in the Indian Ocean. It is claimed that all 239 lives were lost.

I've been watching the breaking news on CNN for the better part of the last hour and there aren't a lot of details being shared yet. The plane hasn't actually been found yet but the official statement from the Malaysian government says that the evidence shows that the plane went down with no survivors beyond all reasonable doubt. My heart goes out to everyone who lost loved ones in MH370.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wakeskating in the Banaue Rice Terraces

I discovered this video recently and think it's pretty incredible.

video uploaded in youtube by Red Bull

You can see breathtaking views of the unbelievably beautiful Banaue Rice Terraces, often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, and this video definitely makes me want to visit again. Who knows, maybe next year.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My blog gets a facelift

I finally changed the look and feel of my blog!

I didn't really intend to change my blog template until a friend of mine chatted with me the other day and mentioned that my blog still didn't have a "previous" button. I told him I hadn't figured out how do it yet and he said that his blog automatically came with an "older posts" button. I thought it might be because I was using an old template (after all, my blog is almost a decade old).

So I quickly decided to update my template to the newer version to see if  it would indeed address the problem and voila! My blog now has an "older posts" option. The archive section is also a lot cleaner and much easier to navigate. Now I don't have to worry about blogging too much and not being able to automatically find older posts within a month. While change isn't always easy to deal with, this one is. I'm really happy about it. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Weekend birthday celebration

My brother recently turned a year older and to celebrate his birthday, I booked a 2-bedroom suite at the Greenstone Serviced Residences. I had never stayed there before but I saw a pretty good deal for it in Groupon Beeconomic and thought it would be good for us to try it.

2-bedroom premium suite at Greenstone Serviced Residences

As you can see from the photo of the living room above, the 2-bedroom suite here is very spacious (it has an area of 151 square meters, so that is quite a lot). There are two bathrooms and the kitchen is fully furnished, complete with kitchenware and dinnerware that guests can use. If you wanted to cook your food here, you could. You can check out the room details here.

master bedroom in the 2-bedroom premium suite at the Greenstone Serviced Residences

Instead of one birthday cake, I got a few different desserts for our celebration. For the first time, we tried the Mango Torte of Cuerva Bakeshop which is located at the 2nd floor of the Petron station along Edsa and Pasay Road (next to the Pasay Road gate of DasmariƱas Village). The website doesn't indicate the prices but the small torte is P1000 while the large one is P1,200. It was a small price difference so I decided to opt for the large size. They don't accept credit cards so be ready to pay with cash. (It was good but I prefer the mango torte of Dulcelin and personally, even that of Conti's.)

Mango Torte from Cuerva Bakeshop

I also decided to get cupcakes from The Noodle Bakes. I got to try a couple of cupcakes from this place before when they set up a booth at the Baker's Dozen in Powerplant and I enjoyed them so I thought it would be good for my family to try something that wasn't readily available. I ordered two flavors: Garth Vader (P70 each), which is a peanut butter sponge cupcake filled with peanut butter cream, thick chocolate ganache frosting, and garnished with butterfinger, and Thirty-Seven (P70), which is a chocolate cupcake with an Oreo bottom then stuffed with cheesecake filling and crowned with chocolate ganache. If you order cupcakes from them, you have to get at least six of one variant and you have to pick up your order in Greenmeadows. (You can check out their cupcake selection along with the prices here.)

Thiry-seven (left) and Garth Vader (right) cupcakes from The Noodle Bakes

To complement our multitude of desserts, I got all of us coffee from Figaro which was just around the corner from the hotel. In the evening, we went to Glorietta 5 to do some shopping. I already got my brother a couple of shirts and some cologne but I decided to also get him shorts and sneakers in Cotton On. I also got one of my nephews a hooded jacket and the other nephew a shirt, both from Uniqlo. I had planned on us having dinner in Yabu so my family could try it but the waiting list was so long. Instead, we headed to Greenbelt 5 where we had a fantastic dinner in Kai. We ordered a few Japanese food staples but I also got some real crab California Maki, soft-shell crab tempura, and soft-shell crab roll, all of which were incredibly good.

The next day, we headed to La Cocina De Tita Moning. I once again made use of a Deal Grocer voucher so we got a big discount for our meal. It was the same set menu that we had before but I have no complaints since I really enjoy the food and the service here. I decided to purchase a couple of bottles of their salsa monja for us to take home. I would have also gotten some of their legendary bread pudding but we still had a lot of mango torte and cupcakes left. :)

table setting and set menu at La Cocina De Tita Moning

It was another great weekend that I got to spend with family and I'm happy that we got to try some new things as well as a few "old" things that we really love. I guess over the last few (many?) years, I've become the family celebration organizer and I actually really love that job. :) My grandmother will be celebrating her birthday soon as well and I've already got that all planned out.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Aswang on Grimm

It's great to see a Filipino mythical creature being featured prominently in a US TV show that has global viewership. Over the weekend, I caught the Mommy Dearest episode on Grimm where the wesen was the Aswang.

How did a Pinoy creature make it on Grimm? Apparently, Reggie Lee who plays Detective Wu on the show is Filipino and he submitted the aswang (along with a few other Filipino monsters) for consideration on the show and it was eventually picked up.

This episode was cool on so many levels. First, it was a pretty scary episode and was well-received by viewers, whether Filipino or not. Also, while the producers did take some liberties in defining what an aswang is and how it operates, they stayed true to a lot of its important and popular characteristics, such as making a 'tik-tik' sound, climbing trees, and attacking pregnant women. It was also cool that some dialogue was done in Filipino and English sub-titles were provided. While I thought the Pinoy accent wasn't completely accurate - I'm guessing they got Fil-ams who don't really have a Filipino accent so they had to fake it - it was a good enough effort.

Apparently, this Aswang episode of Grimm topped US television ratings, with about 5.65 million people watching it. Now that Detective Wu's character has been identified as Filipino, hopefully it provides an opportunity for more of the Pinoy creatures he submitted for consideration, such as the tikbalang and kapre, find some airtime on the show.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

#ABYlieve: DLSU settles for second place

UAAP Women's Volleyball concluded yesterday with Ateneo pulling off a comeback in the series, surviving elimination five times and eventually besting the De La Salle Lady Spikers, despite DLSU having a thrice-to-beat advantage. It was a very well-deserved win as Ateneo showed a whole lot of fight and determination and really peaked at the right time, with tournament and finals MVP Alyssa Valdez leading her team to their school's first ever UAAP volleyball title.

Being a fan of the DSLU Lady Spikers since 2009 when I started watching the games on TV, I was (am still) naturally very sad that they lost. I was hoping for a fourpeat and I really wanted team captain Aby Marano to end her collegiate volleyball career with a championship trophy (she just graduated). Alas, it was not meant to be. Players like Mika Reyes, Ara Galang, Kim Fajardo, and Mika Esperanza experienced their first title loss since joining the Lady Spikers and their anguish was evident in their tears.

This photo courtesy of Joseph Nebrida from the facebook page is pretty heartbreaking to see but it shows how much respect the team have for their captain.

La Salle fans worked on making #ABYlieve trend online to show their support for the player who has been the heart and soul of the team for the last few years. It will be tough for the Lady Spikers next year without Aby Marano, especially when you consider that current champion Ateneo won't be losing any players next year and other teams are continuing to get better. But hey, I will keep the faith and continue to hope that Esperanza's words to Aby - ""babawi kami sa susunod para sayo" - will come true.

I also hope that DLSU retires Aby Marano's jersey #2. I really think she deserves it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Billboard that produces potable water

This is such a brilliant innovation. It manages to earn money through billboard advertising while at the same time addressing a key local issue (lack of potable water) by making use of what's available in the environment (high humidity indicating large amounts of water vapor in the air).

video uploaded in youtube by locoteve2

Sunday, March 09, 2014

International Women's Day

I saw this in the news today and thought it was pretty cool. The government's commission on women and the local bottler of Coca Cola gathered together 10,168 people in Quirino Grandstand yesterday - International Women's Day - to form a giant female gender symbol.

photo courtesy of

Apparently the group is attempting to set a world record for the most number of people gathered together to form this symbol. It'll take about a week for the Guiness Book of World Records to confirm this but even if they don't set this record, it was still a great effort.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Spectrum by Florence and the Machine

Great song (with a bit of a strange video) by Florence and the Machine. Once again, it showcases the incredibly haunting and beautiful voice of the band's lead vocalist, Florence Welch.

video uploaded in youtube by FlorenceMachineVEVO

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Amazing night at the Oscars

Lots of great moments at the recently concluded Oscar Awards. Lupita Ngyong'o won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 12 Years a Slave. "Let it go" from Frozen won Best Original Song. And I just found out that one of the writers of this song - Robert Lopez - is Filipino American. He is now one of only twelve members of the very exclusive EGOT club - people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. I also just learned that one of the other guys Robert Lopez beat for best song - Pharell Williams - is half Filipino. Cool! Then of course there was the pizza delivery that had several guests in the audience enjoyed. And John Travolta butchering Idina Menzel's name (apparently he called her Adele Dazeem).

A record was also made during the Oscars, when Ellen took a star-studded selfie. Of course I'm really happy that Meryl Streep is in it, and it actually started out with Ellen and Meryl before Ellen started pulling a lot of other people in including Lupita, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Jared Leto, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie. Lupita's brother upstaged her by photombombing this amazing set of A-list celebrities.

Here's how this record-breaking selfie came about:

video uploaded by The Showbiz 411

This pic now holds the record for being the most retweeted tweet. In less than an hour, this selfie had been shared more than a million times, easily eclipsing previous record holder President Obama with 778,000 retweets. As I write this, I see that Ellen's selfie has now been retweeted more than 3 million times. Amazing!