Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hearing for the first time

This is one of the most heartwarming videos I've seen. It's amazing to see these deaf people get to hear for the first time or have their hearing restored.

video uploaded in youtube by Tech Ticking

Monday, June 29, 2015

A night of firsts

I messaged my friends Joh and Raffa recently to ask for some help and in the course of our discussion, we realized that our set of friends hadn't seen each other in a really long time. Plans were quickly set and a few days later, I met up with both of them as well as with Mike, Alvin and Doray. Mike wanted to have ramen for dinner so we decided to eat at Ramen Nagi in SM Aura. Ramen Nagi has been around for a while now but it was only that night that I got to try it. I ordered the Original King (Butao) and it was pretty good. I definitely wouldn't mind having ramen here again.

For dessert, we headed to Magnum. Dining here is a bit complicated: to get a table, your group must order at least one plated meal per two people; you can't just order ice cream. Thankfully, I was in the mood for a plated dessert, as were a couple of other folks so we managed to get seated. Once again, it was my first time here. I ordered the Crepe Du Jour and I am so glad I did because it was so good!

Crepe Du Jour, photo courtesy of http://lifestyle.inquirer.net

Joh and Doray said however that Magnum will be closing on July 26. Not because it isn't doing well but because it was established as a pop-up restaurant and intended to be around for only about a year. Too bad. There is about a month left before it closes though so maybe I will visit this place again while I still can. (I heard the rest of the food here is pretty good too.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Weekend in Pansol

Due to some recent organizational changes, I joined a new team at work a few months ago. To help make sure people in our new team felt integrated, many of us spent the weekend in Pansol. We were asked to be at the resort by noon so that the activities could start at 1PM but since some of our teammates work the graveyard shift, a lot of them took quick naps to recharge so the organizers decided to start the games a bit later. As I waited for the games to start and as most people were asleep, I started walking around the grounds when I saw a dartboard so I decided to play darts to while the time away. I played darts a scant few times in the past so I had never previously managed to hit the bullseye but with some time in my hands, I managed to hit the outer bullseye twice! (I couldn't hit the inner bullseye or triple 20 though, so the next time I have a chance, that will be my goal. :))

The games finally got under way in the early afternoon. From the totem creation and protection to the fear factor-style games where I ended up eating Jelliyum soaked in patis to the retrieval of white marbles at the bottom of the pool that became practically invisible once the water was no longer still, there were definitely a lot of opportunities to bond with people we didn't get to interact with before. Our team ended up in a tie for second place so it was decided to break the tie through a beer pong-inspired game where each team had to shoot a ping pong ball in all the cups of the opposing team. I was crap at that game (I manged to shoot the ball only twice) but thankfully, my teammate was an ace as she managed to shoot the ball in about 1/2 to 2/3 of all cups, allowing us to win and secure the overall second place. Cool!

The evening was spent singing karaoke, having fun in the pool, and playing a variety of card games such as pusoy dos (I actually got a seven-high straight flush and a queen-high straight flush that evening!), tong-its,  and slapjack. The highlight for me though was playing bridge. I used to play bridge a lot in college but not a lot since then. In fact, it must have been more than a decade since I last played this card game. It all came back quickly though and me and my partner managed to win all but two of the rounds, sometimes by the skin of our teeth LOL. To be fair, though, one of the guys was playing bridge for the first time that night so my partner and I did have an advantage. Nevertheless, it was still a lot of fun and makes me want to play bridge again.

It was close to 3AM when I hit the sack, although plenty of people were still singing the night away so I guess I must have been quite tired since I managed to sleep through that. :) I woke up at around 9AM to a tasty breakfast of chicken fried rice, luncheon meat and eggs before heading back to Manila. (Thankfully, there was almost no traffic up until Magallanes so the trip was pretty quick.) It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and I'm glad I was able to go.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Zendee sings Flashlight with Jessie J

Zendee Tenerefe came into the public eye first when a video of her singing went viral. That video led to her guesting on Ellen. Now, another one of her videos is getting some online activity as she sings "Flashlight" with Jessie J. Check it out:

video upload in youtube by Zendee Rose Tenerefe

"Flashlight" is from the soundtrack of Pitch Perfect 2 and the radio version was performed by Jessie J. This duet was made possible through the Sing! Karaoke! app of Smule. I think the way the app works is that it has Jessie J singing parts of the song and anyone can "duet" with her. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I liked how light and easy it sounded and I love how Zendee harmonized with Jessie J. This is really fun to listen to. Makes me interested to look for other similar duets online. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Jurassic World kind of day

I watched Jurassic World last Sunday with my mom and my nephew. Which means I was a contributor to this movie's record-breaking opening. It is now has the biggest US opening (it's $208.8 million US gross edges out the Avengers' $207.4 million), the biggest gross outside the US (it's $315.3 million gross outside the US overtakes the $314 million of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), and it has the biggest global opening with $524.1 million. This marks the first time a film grossed more than $500 million internationally in a single weekend. Wow! I guess this shouldn't be all that surprising. When Jurassic Park came out back in 1993, it became the highest grossing film worldwide until it was dethroned by Titanic four years later.

My nephew told me last Friday that he wanted to watch Jurassic World, and he in fact wanted to watch that night but I told him I couldn't take him then. Instead, I could take him on Sunday. My mom had an errand to do that day and I agreed to do driver-duty for her so we decided to bring my nephew along so that we could head to the mall after her errand and watch the movie together. The last film I watched with my mom was Maleficent a year ago so I was happy that I was able to take her to see Jurassic World (now that I think about it, I watched Maleficent with my mom and my nephew as well).

We got to Shangri-La Mall at around 6PM and thankfully, there were still seats for the 7:10 PM showing. That gave us enough time to have a decent meal before our movie. I decided to take bring them to Duck & Buvette for dinner. I had eaten here a couple of times before and I thought that my family would enjoy the food here. And true enough, they did. My mom also really enjoyed the coffee she ordered. As we were finishing our meal, we thought it would be good to eat here again with the rest of our family. (I guess I should plan for that. :))

*** Semi-spoiler alert. Stop reading if you don't want to find out details about the movie. ***

Jurassic World is definitely a lot of fun. There is a whole lot of dinosaur action that will keep audiences entertained, the effects are awesome, and watching it makes you want to visit a theme park afterwards (even one with no live dinosaurs LOL). I also love how it even pokes fun at itself, with lead star Chris Pratt calling out co-star Bryce Dallas Howard's cheap shoes (I think he said cheap shoes), ensuring that people would notice how she managed to run throughout the latter half of the movie in heels that never broke. :) I did find the ending slightly over the top but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable movie. As an article said online, there is a universal fascination in dinosaurs that transcends culture. I am curious to see how much Jurassic World eventually earns. Can it beat the record recently taken by Furious 7 with the fastest time to earn $1 billion globally? With it's massive opening, I wouldn't be surprised if it did.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The 28th SEA Games

The 2015 Southeast Asian Games were held in Singapore from June 5 to 16. It concluded earlier today, with the Philippines placing 6th out of 11 countries with 29 golds, 36 silvers and 66 bronze medals.

Some of the notable results:
  • The GILAS Cadets beat Indonesia to win Gold in Men's Basketball. This means that the Philippines has now won every basketball event at the games since 1991. It also means that the country has lost once once since the SEA games started in 1977. (We lost to Malaysia in 1989.) Talk about dominance!
  • Josie Gabuco won her 4th gold medal in boxing. She has now won one gold medal in each of the last SEA Games (2009, 2011, 2013, and now 2015). Way to go, Josie!
  • Eric Shauwn Cray was our only multiple medalist in the games, winning gold medals in the 100m and 400m hurdles. He broke the SEA Games record at the 400m hurdles and his win there allowed him to defend the gold medal he won in 2013.
  • Other athletes who defended the gold medals they won in 2013: Mario Fernadez (boxing), Dennis Orcollo (10-ball pool), Kiyomi Watanabe (judo), and the Poomsae Taekwondo men's team.

Congratulations to all the athletes who competed!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nadal wins on grass!

After a disappointing European clay season, at least by his lofty standards, Rafa Nadal has returned to his winning ways on, of all surfaces, a grass court! Nadal took home the title in Stuttgart, beating Viktor Troicki  7-6 (3), 6-3 in the final. I did not see this coming but it is a very pleasant and welcome surprise.

Rafa was in trouble in the first few rounds of the tournament but he still managed to make it through. In the latter round, he seemed to find his footing on the slick surface as he upended both Gael Monfils (in the semifinals) and Viktor Troicki in straight sets. This is Rafa's first grasscourt title since winning Wimbledon in 2010 (five years ago! I can't believe it's been that long). He only reached the 4th round of Wimbledon last year. Hopefully, Rafa can do better at Wimbledon this year, move back up the rankings, and finish the year strong.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Manila wedding

Deryk was my co-lead in our corporate social responsibility (CSR) organization at work until he pursued other opportunities.We still get to see each other every so often along with the other people we worked woth very closely as part of the core organizing team of our CSR initiative. As such, when we were invited to his wedding which was held last weekend, a lot of us made sure to go.

The church ceremony was held at San Agustin Church in Intramuros at 1PM. It was, for the most part, beautiful. The wedding vows allowed us to learn about the love story of Deryk and his wife Gle and the amazing journey they took together over the years. However, the challenge of having a wedding in San Agustin church is that so many people get married here that the ceremonies tend to feel rushed. I remember a friend of mine getting married here and she initially wanted me to be the lector but she was told by San Agustin that they don't allow other people to act as the lector because they really have to move things along. We definitely felt that during the wedding as the lector seemed to be in rapid fire mode. Nevertheless, it was still a beautiful celebration and Deryk ang Gle both looked very happy.

The Manila Hotel served as the venue for their wedding reception dinner which was held at 7pm. Since there was a lot of time between the church ceremony and the reception, a few of us - Zaza, Denise, Leianne, and Kristel - decided to hang out in Robinson's Ermita. We had a late lunch in Jack's Loft and then we started to go around the mall. We checked out Japan Home and a few folks bought some items there. I still can't believe that practically everything in the store costs less than P100! They even have a frying pan priced at P88. Wow! This is a perfect place to get Christmas gifts and I think I will visit this place as we get closer to the Yuletide season. :) As we were walking along the mall, we passed by the Robinson's department store and I saw many foldable fans. Zaza mentioned she wanted to buy a new fan so when I pointed the selection of fans to her, we ended up going into the department store where practically everyone else purchased something (except me LOL). At that time, it was already past 5PM so we decided to head to Manila Hotel so that we would have time to get cleaned up. As we waited for the reception to start, we spent more time sharing stories while chilling at the beautiful hotel lobby.

We were among the first few people who entered the ballroom at 7PM and as we stepped in, we were all in awe. The ballroom looked stunningly beautiful! It had sort of a fairytale-woodland-in-winter feel. Strands of crystal were elegantly draped from the the ceiling, the presidential table was decorated with a plethora of candles that gave the venue a more romantic feel especially whenever the lights were turned down, and the table arrangements and centerpieces were exquisite. All five of us were so wowed by the ballroom that we just kept going around and taking pictures. (The photos just don't do the reception area justice.)

The attention to detail was also remarkable. I noticed that the tables had four different types of decorations: there were two kinds of tall arrangements made of tastefully decorated twigs and branches...

and there were two kinds of snow globe-looking centerpieces.

I noticed that the shorter "snow globes" were featured on the tables closer to the center of the room and the taller ones were on tables that were further away. I realized that the room was set up in this way because if all tables featured the tall centerpieces, then people who were further away would have their line of sight blocked. Smart!

The reception served as a bit of a reunion for a lot of us from our CSR organization since it had been months since we last got to see each other. Aside from the 4 people I spent the afternoon with, I got to spend the rest of the evening with Melody, Enrique, and Lou and his wife Leda. We were all seated at the same table and I would like to think we were very good wedding guests as we were all very actively engaged, often being some of the first to applaud each important moment and frequently starting the clinking of glasses so that Deryk and Gle would kiss. By the end of the evening, it took a while for us to make our way to Deryk and Gle to with them well and have our photo taken again with them since so many people were in line to say goodbye. We even joked that it was like we were in a meet-and-greet with some very famous celebrities. :) This was definitely a very memorable wedding and I'm happy that I got to witness Deryk tie the knot while spending the day with great friends.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Happy Independence Day, Philippines!

Maligayang Araw ng Kasarinlan, Pilipinas! :)

Today marks the 117th year of Philippine independence. As has been the case in the last four years (or at least as far as I have noticed), Google celebrates Philippine Independence Day:

You can check out the previous times that Philippine Independence was featured on the google page: 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Wildflour and Farmacy night

To kick off the long weekend, my college friends and I decided to meet up in Wildflour in BGC for dinner earlier tonight. Our friend Weng was in town, albeit under unfortunate circumstances, so we decided to do something positive and happy while she was still in Manila. I was actually about an hour late for dinner because I had to close out a lot of issues at work before the long weekend. When I arrived, Weng, Letllet, Gosh, and Kermin were already there and the food that everyone ordered had already been served, allowing me to dive in immediately. Which was good because I was famished. I ended up overeating but it was so easy to do because the food was good and I was very hungry. Lala soon joined us and ordered more food - which I still shared with her LOL - and later on, Jed joined us.

After dinner, we moved to Farmacy, which I think is also owned by Wildflour, to have some ice cream. I had never been to Farmacy before and it's a bit interesting because it's supposed to be an ice cream and soda fountain place but they also serve craft beers. We were all still quite full so instead of everyone getting individual ice cream orders, we just decided to get a few items and share them. Everyone seemed to love the Banutter sundae (vanilla, banana, peanut butter ice cream with caramel sauce, candied peanuts and whipped cream) but while it was really good, I somehow still preferred the simple but classic flavors of the Rocky Road Sundae.

I had planned on leaving at around 11PM and I had in fact already started saying goodbye but just as I was about to leave, Gosh told me that I should try to play Quiz App since he felt I would enjoy it. Quiz App is a trivia game where you compete with someone else in the world to see who can score more points on a variety of categories. Points are awarded not only for correct answers but also how quickly you respond. We started off with the Pixar category. We didn't do well there since there were questions like which movie did this person write or who created the musical score for which movie. Gosh played the Game of Thrones category which he easily won. We then moved to Star Wars which I requested and I would have won had I not made the stupid mistake of selecting Jim Henson too quickly as the voice of Yoda (when I knew in fact it was Frank Oz ugh) so we lost by small margin.

It was at that point where we moved to the "Name the movie star" category and here we won practically every round we played. The only time we lost was when Weng made the mistake of pressing Jeff Bridges too quickly when the person in the photo was actually Jeff Daniels. Our success in this category allowed us to move quickly to level 6. Cool! This also meant that I ended up staying about 30 minutes longer than I had intended hahaha. But that was okay. Everyone was telling me I should get that app but I probably won't as I may end up losing so much time playing it. :) It was close to midnight when I left but hopefully we all get to hang out again soon. A couple of people are turning a year older soon so we may have a party to celebrate their birthdays.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Way Back Wednesday: "Ikaw pa rin" by Ted Ito

"Ikaw pa rin" came out in the early 1990s and became an instant hit and cult classic. Performed by Japanese Ted Ito, it is a Filipino version of the Japanese song "Saigo no Iiwake" by Hideaki Tokunaga. Thankfully, we now have youtube that allows us to have Way Back Wednesday moments by listening to music that we don't really get to hear on the radio anymore.

uploaded in youtube by TheGoddess461

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

W is for Win

Williams. Wawrinka. Winners. Wow.

What a French Open that was. Serena Williams and Stanislas Wawrinka won the women's and men's singles titles at Roland Garros. With both players having initials S.W. , it would have been a tad cooler if they both won Wimbledon (which is also called SW19 because of its area code) hehe but their wins were both pretty incredible for different reasons.

Stan Wawrinka became the oldest man in 25 years to win the French Open, his second Grand Slam title after winning in Australia last year. He is now in a tie with Andy Murray (who also has two) and anyone who achieves this feat in the era of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic has definitely achieved something special. By winning last Sunday, Wawrinka also snapped Novak Djokovic's 28-match winning streak and prevented Novak from completing a career grand slam.

Serena, on the other hand, is now halfway towards completing a calendar grand slam. This is actually the first time in her career that she is this close to achieving a feat that only 5 people in history have achieved, primarily because each time she has won the Australian Open in the past, she lost immediately at the French. That she is this close to achieving what is deemed to be the most prized achievement in tennis at the age of 34 speaks volumes of just how unparalleled Serena's talent is. Her win last Saturday means that she has now won 20 majors, only 2 behind Steffi Graf and 4 behind Margaret Court. With no one looking like they can consistently challenge her, I wouldn't be surprised if Williams passes Court's record of 24 within the next 2-3 years. Another record she shares with Court - she has now won at least three of each Grand Slam title (Steffi holds the record with four of each).

Wimbledon is just a couple of weeks away and it will be interesting to see who will win on the men's side and if anyone can stop Serena. Predictions, anyone?

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Fall of the King

It was bound to happen at some point and unfortunately, it had to happen now. Rafa Nadal, the king of clay, has been unceremoniously dumped out of the French Open quarterfinals by his nemesis, world #1 Novak Djokovic. This has definitely been Nadal's most trying year in the last decade and this loss may very well drop Nadal out of the top ten.

Nadal fans - myself included - will have to wait to see if he can still add to his massive French Open title haul and claim a tenth trophy.