Saturday, May 31, 2014

Of birthdays, baby showers, despedidas, and cupcakes

My college friend Jed and his wife Odette invited me and the rest of our college gang to dinner for a triple celebration. The evening served both as Odette's advanced birthday celebration and also her baby shower. The third part of the celebration was a despedida since both of them were actually traveling to the US the day after.

The thing is, I didn't know about the despedida part. Since I didn't have time to get a baby shower gift, I thought I would get Odette a box of Royal Touch cupcakes for her birthday instead. When I found out over dinner that they were leaving the next day, I felt like a bit of a dunce for getting perishable food items that they would not have time to consume before their trip. So I told Jed that I got them cupcakes and I even reminded him via text after I had gone home to make sure that they wouldn't go to waste. The next day, I got a text from Jed saying he and Odette thought the cupcakes were really good and they asked me where I bought them. Cool! It seems they enjoyed my gift. So what I thought was a wrong move turned out okay in the end. :)

The dinner was really good and the evening was made even more fun by a mini-program that included a series of baby shower games that we played. I was also really pleased to hang out with the gang since I missed our last get-together because it coincided with a friend's wedding.


A few days later, I ended up having dinner with some of my ex-colleagues. It was supposed to be a baby shower as well for our friend Dorothy but a last minute conflict came up so she and her husband Alvin weren't able to join us. Since we had all cleared out our evening already, we decided to proceed with dinner in Mesclun. I hadn't eaten there before and I thought the food was good although my truffle pasta was a bit overpriced for the portion size (I got the larger to-share option but it really felt like it was just a serving for one). As it turns out, two of our friends were going on international assignment so it was sort of an unofficial despedida for them too. We did plan when the official farewell party would be. Can't say I'm too happy about it given the fact that so many of our friends had already left the country for work abroad but that's the way life goes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Academy of Villains

Saw this video and I was really blown away. Academy of Villains won 1st place in the Vibe Dance Competition.

video uploaded in youtube by geraldnonadoez

Lots of people are highlighting the last "Bring me to life" part but personally, while that segment was thoroughly entertaining, it was really the main dance that impressed me. I thought the choreography, including the blocking and formations, was just absolutely brilliant.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not my year

Kinda self-centered to make this about me seeing that this is really about the athletes and sports teams I support LOL. But it kinda sucks for me as a sports fan when the people or teams I'm rooting for keep losing. Often after being in such a great position to win.

Take Rafael Nadal for instance. He lost the Australian Open final after being largely tipped to win his 14th major. What followed after that was a series of unfortunate losses, including once against David Ferrer, a player he used to beat routinely. In the Rome final, he won the first set against Novak Djokovic before I got home and turned the TV on. Of course Nadal then had to lose the match once I tuned in. Ugh. The French Open just kicked off last Sunday and unlike past years, I'm not so confident what the result is going to be.

It's not just in tennis either. Liverpool were, for the first time, in an immensely good position to win the English Premier League for the first time in decades. With only three matches left in the season, they were ahead of Manchester City by 3 points. Then they lost to Chelsea and drew against Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, Mancity swept their remaining matches. In the end, Liverpool ended up having to settle for second place. Damn! So close and yet so far!

But that's probably not the worst of it. I wrote about my disappointment a few months back when the DLSU Lady Spikers lost in the UAAP volleyball tournament to Ateneo. That they actually had championship point before losing the match and then eventually the championship made the loss even worse. Now what could be worse than losing after you've had championship point? Having it happen again! In the final of the Philippine National Games against the Air Force, DLSU had championship point again in the fourth set. Air Force saved it, won the set, then cruised to an easy win in the decider.

I almost don't want to watch any games of my team or player now for fear of me jinxing them. The strange thing is that I'm completely NOT superstitious except when it comes to sports LOL. Talk about being illogical. Hopefully things can start changing in the remainder of the year for my favorite athletes.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dulce sings "I dreamed a dream"

Not sure what I was looking for on youtube when I stumbled across this video. Dulce is one of the Philippines' premier vocalists and she has won a lot of awards, locally and internationally. This performance of "I dreamed a dream" from Les Misérables is apparently from The Music of Boublil and Schonberg in Concert held in Manila back in 1995.

video uploaded in youtube by Asian Guy in TO

We've had a ton of "divas" in the country but Dulce still stands out for me with her unbelievably rich voice and effortless and unmatched power. I'm really happy I stumbled across this.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


No, not the TV show. I'm talking about actual suits. I have one but it's not a really good one. I got it off the rack before and I didn't really know what I should be looking for, how it should fit, what color to get and so on. When a friend of mine shared with me this guide to matching suits and dress shoes, I thought I'd share it here as well.

photo courtsey of Business Insider

I'm not sure if this applies to the Philippines where people don't wear suits a lot. It says that the recommended first suit you should get is a charcoal, navy, or gray suit but most Pinoys I know get a black one first. In any case, I've been thinking about getting a new suit so I will most likely use this as a reference guide.

Also interesting is what kind of shoes to match with which suit. As I am not really familiar with the what an Oxford shoe is and how it differs from a Derby, I had to search online to figure it out. Here's a pretty interesting summary. Despite this, I'm still not sure I can pull off wearing a suit and matching it with shoes that are not black. But who knows, maybe one of these days I will give it a go and see what it looks like. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tagaytay birthday weekend

A few weeks ago, I took my family to Tagaytay to celebrate the birthday of 'Nanay', my grandmother on my mom's side. We stayed at Crosswinds Resort Suites.

We actually stayed there last year for my birthday but almost the entire time we were there, it rained a lot and we were unable to take photos and enjoy the scenery. When I saw another online voucher for this place in Deal Grocer, I figured it would be good for us to revisit in better weather so we could appreciate it more.

We got there in the early afternoon and since we hadn't had lunch yet, I took everyone to Buon Giorno at the Cliff House. My family had never eaten here before and they did enjoy the food. Actually, every food place that I took my family to that weekend, they had never been to before so it was a weekend of firsts. I think the Buon Giorno Special salad portion size got smaller but it was still good.

After resting a bit in our 1-bedroom suite in Crosswinds, we headed to Picnic Grove since one of my nephews really wanted to go horseback-riding.

It was still late afternoon when we left Picnic Grove and we still had a couple of hours to spare before dinner so I decided to take my family to Java Jazz Coffee. I really like this place and I figured my family would too (they did, and I guess the warm and friendly service made our experience here even better). The artwork on display that day were photos of the churches in Bohol that were devastated during last year's Visayas earthquake; proceeds of the art sales would go to church restoration efforts. We looked through the photos and enjoyed some coffee over the next hour or so before we headed to our dinner destination.

I've seen Pamana Restaurant in Tagaytay several times before and I actually saw it featured on a TV show a few years ago but I never got to try it until that weekend. We got there at around 7 PM that evening and thankfully we arrived when we did because I didn't make any reservations and when we got there, only one table was available. Perfect! We actually took a short tour of the place before ordering because on display throughout the entire restaurant were a lot of Filipino showbiz memorabilia. The food here is decently priced, with most dishes being in the P200-400 range. Along with the great service, our dinner in Pamana was a really good dining experience.

We checked out at noon on Sunday and for lunch, I took my family to Chateau Hestia. While waiting for our food to arrive, my mom and my grandma took a look at the items on sale in the deli and they eventually got several items, including some really good cookies (which they served to us while we were waiting) and bread. I'm also happy that everyone enjoyed the food. The cool thing about our lunch here was that they actually gave us a small cake on the house for Nanay's birthday. One of the waiters actually overheard me mention that it was my grandmother's birthday. Cool! Oh and the cake was really good too.

We had initially intended to pass by Good Shepherd on our way home but we stopped by Rowena's instead. My family got several items and I also bought a couple of boxes of their delicious assorted tarts. We also stopped by Paseo de Sta. Rosa where we did a bit of shopping. I ended up getting a pair of shoes.

I was completely knackered by the time I got home but it was well worth  it. Everyone enjoyed the great food and some new experiences over the weekend. Definitely an incredible way to celebrate Nanay's birthday.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Midweek reunion dinner

My friend and ex-manager, Els, was in the Philippines and as such, our team decided to organize dinner with her. Els actually spent most of her time outside Manila during this trip so the best time for us to meet up was the evening before her flight back to Europe.

I actually had some very important business meetings that same night that I couldn't cancel so I told everyone that I would be really late and that if they were still together by 10:30 PM, I would catch up. As it turned out, Els' flight back to Manila from her dive trip got massively delayed so she had just been with the rest of the folks for maybe half an hour or 45 minutes when I finally got there.

We had dinner in Chili's Greenbelt and we stayed there until around 12:30 AM. It was my first time seeing a few folks from our old team in a while. In fact, we told Els that she was the glue of the team since we all got to see each other only when she was in town so we told her she had to come back to Manila more often. :) As always,  it was really fun catching up with her and with everybody else. Hopefully, those of us in Manila also get to meet up more often since we're all here anyway.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Thanks to the May 1 holiday, I managed to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at the cinema within the first couple of days of its Philippine release. I'm a fan of the first Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield so I was determined to see this second installment despite the fact that it has been getting more than it's fair share of not-so-good reviews. I was ready to be a bit disappointed but it didn't turn out that way and I actually really enjoyed the film.

First things first, this isn't your typical super-hero movie. There are only a handful of action sequences where Spider-Man battles his enemies (and those scenes are very visually impressive; I've read that this movie looks great on 3D so maybe I'll go see it again LOL). In my opinion, it is more like a human drama framed in the context of a superhero film. Yes, one could argue that it is borderline chick flick, but it was important to highlight the intense and complicated relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy to tie the story in with the first installment and set the stage for The Amazing Spider-Man 3. In fact, when you look at it, the villains in the movie seemed almost like they were there to move the story along and lead it towards its explosive climax.

I've also read that there wasn't a lot of character development, specifically for the villains. I personally don't agree with this. I think the plots of these characters were defined well enough to make the audience understand exactly why they both had it in for Spider-Man. The fact that both Jamie Foxx (Electro) and Dane De Haan (Green Goblin) put in great performances made their characters even more believable.

Speaking of, this is probably the best acted superhero film I've seen (alongside the first Thor). Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), and Sally Field (Aunt May) all put in very solid performances. I will echo what so many other people have said that Andrew and Emma really do have the best chemistry of any superhero couple I've seen. I had a discussion with a comic book geek friend of mine who hadn't seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2 yet and he mentioned to me that Spidey really has one of the most unstable personalities among all superheroes because he was an awkward teenager when he gained his superpowers. Well, if that truly is the case, then this film stays very true to the comic books as you will definitely see an emo Spidey/Peter Parker here.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who enjoyed this movie. A lot of other friends of mine who saw it also thought it was good if not great. I read a very articulate and in-depth review by Mark Hughes on that analyzes why this film is the Spider-Man we've been waiting for and why it does a great job in staying true to the comic books. Check it out here.

I definitely recommend The Amazing Spider-Man 2. If you're a bit concerned about the bad reviews you've been reading or hearing about, I suggest you set that aside and go see the film since I'm guessing you will still enjoy it.