Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Smokey Mountain Greatest Hits

I was looking for a particular CD at a shop recently. As I was looking for it (and I actually didn't find it), I stumbled upon a Smokey Mountain greatest hits album. I looked at the list of songs and it had all their hits from both batches of Smokey Mountain. At P250, I thought it was very good value for money and as it was the last remaining CD on the shelf, I promptly picked it up and purchased it.


My absolute favorite song from this band is "Kahit Habang Buhay" which was performed by the second batch comprised of Chedi Vergara, James Koronel, Zhar Santos, and Jayson Angangan. As I listened to it again, I remembered just how good this song it and how much I love it. I learned that Yeng Constatino and Sam Milby remade this song but for me, the original is still much better. Check it out here:

video uploaded in youtube by Brian Sanchez

I prefer the second batch of Smokey Mountain to the first (although the first was good too). I remember watching Chedi, Jayson, Zhar, and James win the grand prize at the 1992 Tokyo Musical Festival with their stirring performance of Paraiso. It's pretty steady for most of the song but the finale from 4:27 onwards is sensational.

video uploaded in youtube by csntdualcore

I'm glad I walked into that CD store that day. I've listened to my Smokey Mountain greatest hits CD a lot since then, and I've replayed Kahit Habang Buhay dozens of times already. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A night of firsts in Serendra

My friend Anna was in Manila and despite everyone having a very hectic schedule last week, we still managed to meet up for dinner and drinks on Friday night. She wanted us to try the new Japanese whisky bar in Serendra so in keeping with the Japanese theme, we agreed to have dinner first in Mogu. We were all pretty hungry when we got there so I ended up ordering the Spicy Crispy Kani Maki and the Pork Kakuni (braised pork) and both were very good. I also shared Harami (thinly sliced imported marbled boneless beef shortribs) with Anna and Lala and that was a really solid dish. I can't believe I had never been to Mogu before given how good my meal was. I will be definitely be eating here again.

After dinner, we headed to LIT to enjoy some Japanese whisky. The three of us sat by the bar instead of getting a table and I thought that was a much better move for us as it allowed us to interact with Francis, the Japanese bartender (and I guess also owner?). He's a really cool guy and he took the time to share information about Japanese whisky with us. The ambience and the vibe here is so relaxed, comfortable, and inviting and having wonderful conversations with Francis made the whole experience even more enjoyable.

photo from the LIT Manila facebook page

I gotta say that once a menu was handed to me, I couldn't figure out what to order, mainly because I'm not a whisky connoisseur and also because there were so many options that I almost found it overwhelming LOL. I say almost because I eventually did make up my mind which ones to try. They have two serving sizes here: taste and experience. Taste, as the name implies, is a tasting portion while experience is a full shot. If you aren't sure what you want, you can order one of the four flight selections; these include three tasting portions and a highball. Lala ordered a flight, Anna got a Manila Old Fashioned cocktail, and I ordered two different whisky experiences. The first one was the Hibiki Japanese Harmony on the rocks (which is how Francis recommended that I have this drink).

photo from www.suntory.co.jp


The second one I ordered was the Nikka Takesturu (served neat, meaning a plain shot with nothing added to it; the other bartender suggested I have this one neat).


Both whiskies I ordered were good and I wouldn't mind having them again although I'm pretty sure that the next time I visit LIT, I will their other whiskies. :) As we were wrapping up the evening, I decided to order one last drink, a Manila Old Fashioned (similar to what Anna ordered) before we all called it a night. It was a really good experience and I'm glad I got to spend it with people who actually enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than I did. I am definitely visiting LIT Manila again.

Monday, July 27, 2015

90% Of People Can’t Pronounce This Whole Poem

I don't really know where this poem is originally from as I have seen it uploaded on several sites. I gotta say that while I was near-perfect, I didn't get everything right, mainly because some words such ague and Islington I hadn't heard of until I read this poem. Also, two new things I learned. First, Gertrude is apparently pronounced with a hard G sound instead of a J sound (I have an aunt named Gertrude and our family pronounces it with a soft G so it seems we have been wrong all this time but hey, I guess we have license to pronounce it however way we want LOL). Second, I learned about the word ere while working on crossword puzzles as a kid but I never knew how to pronounce it. I always thought it rhymes with here but apparently it sounds like air.

It's a pretty long poem so rather than copy-paste it here, I will just provide the link. Check it out.

90% Of People Can't Pronounce This Whole Poem - http://www.tickld.com/x/90-of-people-cant-pronounce-this-whole-poem-you-have-to-try-it

Here's a particularly interesting verse from the entire poem:

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.


If you can't quite figure out how to pronounce some of the words here, you can click on this link to see a video of how the full poem should be properly read. :)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Nora Aunor receives AIFFA Lifetime Achievement Award

This is actually more than 3 months late but I only learned about it recently. Nora Aunor was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards last April. She was introduced as someone "who has swept more than 60 different awards, internationally. She has won Cannes. She has won at the Berlin International Film Festival. She has won international awards in Russia, Hongkong, Venice and Egypt, just to mention a few." That is absolutely impressive.

This link provides a pretty comprehensive list of all the different awards and nominations that Nora has received over the years. Looking at her body of work and the recognition she has been given both locally and internationally, it isn't surprising that she was given this Lifetime Achievement Award. Here is a video of her receiving the award in Malaysia last April:


video uploaded in youtube by Bobby Bantay Rodriguez

This is truly an amazing and well-deserved honor for one of the best actors who has ever come out of the Philippines.

*****

While we are on the subject, I would also like to congratulate Cherie Gil for winning the 2015 AIFFA best actress award for her performance in Sonata. Check out this link for a list of all the AIFFA awardees which also includes other Filipino winners.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Christening and a day at SM Aura

About a year after my cousin Troy married his now-wife Joanna, they were blessed with a daughter, Jhoriel. Her baptism party was held last Saturday at Tramway Bayview Buffet along Roxas Boulevard. Naturally, most of our family, including my grandmother Nanay, were there to celebrate this special occasion.


Since we were out already, after our buffet lunch, we decided to go to SM Aura. I had originally planned to bring my family to Magnum Cafe for dessert so that they could try it before it closes later this week. Unfortunately, when we got there, the line was quite long. My other nephew didn't really eat anything at Tramway - he still wasn't hungry when we got there - so falling in line wasn't really an option at that point. Since he is a big fan of Japanese culture, I took him to Ramen Nagi instead. My other nephew had a lot to eat for lunch but he thought it would be cool to try some ramen as well. They ended up ordering different items - Curry King and Black King - and they both enjoyed what they got.

Curry King ramen at Ramen Nagi

Black King ramen at Ramen Nagi

I actually fell back in line at Magnum while they were finishing their big bowls of ramen but once they were done eating, they realized they didn't have room for dessert anymore. My mom and Nanay both don't eat a lot so neither of them felt like having ice cream. As such, I left the line and we just started going around the mall. Nanay went with mom while I took my nephews. After a short stop at Datablitz, we then went to Uniqlo, Cotton On, and Levi's so that one of my nephews could try on some jeans (I told him I would get him pants as my very belated Christmas gift since he couldn't make up his mind back then as to what he wanted and he only figured out what he wanted - or rather, needed - a few weeks ago.)

We decided to get the jeans from Uniqlo but I had to meet up with my mom to get her SM Advantage card. She was at the department store buying a few things and Nanay was looking at some clocks because the one at her house was broken already. When she made up her mind which clock she wanted, I decided to get it for her. We all then went back to Uniqlo - or well my mom and Nanay had coffee at UCC Mentore right next to it - so that we could get my nephew's jeans and so we could also have them altered.

It was around 6PM when my family headed home. I decided to stay at SM Aura to have dinner and maybe do some shopping myself. I headed to Todd English again and this time I ordered the T.E. Half Chicken. It was good but a few parts of it that were close to the bone were a bit too red for my liking so I surely prefer the T.E. Pork Chop that I had earlier in the year.

T.E. Half Chicken at Todd English

I then went window shopping (I've been looking for a red t-shirt that I really like that fits LOL but I still haven't been able to find one) before finding myself in Astrovision where I ended up buying 4 DVDs that were all on sale. I also snagged a CD of A Great Big World that was also on sale at P100. I had been planning to get "Say Something" - both the original version and the duet with Christina Aguilera - on iTunes for a while now and each would have cost around P50 to purchase online so a P100 CD with both versions on it was perfect for me. I also bought a Chocnut cupcake from A Taste of Slice and a Berry Cinnabon (this was so good; I was to have it again!) before finally heading home.

It was an incredibly long and tiring day but I am really happy that I got to be part of my cousin-niece's Christening and that I spent the day with my family. I'm especially happy that we got to take Nanay shopping since she doesn't get to do it very often anymore.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Driving dangers

Yesterday, as I was on my way to meet up with my family, I was driving along a road that was veering sharply to the right. I had my right turn signal on and as I was midway through the turn, I saw that a motorcycle had tried to whiz past me on my right side, between me and the curb. I almost hit him and he actually had to stop his bike. Crazy!

Gotta say that a lot of motorcycle drivers tend to be a hazard on the road. Many of them pose a threat to others and themselves by lane splitting and snaking in and out traffic, even fast-moving traffic. I've been sideswiped three times by motorcycles that forced themselves into the space between me and the vehicle next to me and of course none of them stopped or acknowledged the fact that they scratched my car.

Of course, I don't harbor resentment for all bad motorcycle drivers. I also feel a lot of compassion for many of them, especially those who are tasked to deliver food within a certain time period after an order is placed to avoid penalties. They not only have to drive by as quickly as possible through bad traffic, but in many cases they have to do it even in dangerous driving conditions. I remember I was on my way home at night and it was pelting and I thought of having food delivered once I got home. I changed my mind when I realized how difficult it would be for any delivery guy to bring food to me on a motorcycle that stormy night. So I decided to drive to a restaurant that was still open and have my late night meal there instead. Interestingly enough, not long after that, I was having a late lunch during a heavy downpour when I saw a McDonald's delivery man gearing up to drive through the rain. It took him several minutes to get ready to drive through the rain. I just started thinking how tough that work is.

That said, I still wish that motorcycle drivers, especially those who won't get penalized for missing a delivery deadline, would learn to be much safer on the road. I remember during the wake of my grandfather a few years ago, the wake right next to his was for a 30-year-old man who passed away because of a motorcycling collision. Not only can bad driving cause damage to other people's vehicles, but even worse, it can result in the bike driver's injury or even death.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Donaire wins in Macau

Congratulations to Nonito Donaire, the Filipino Flash, for winning his fight against Anthony Settoul in Macau. The former fighter of the year won by technical knockout in the second round after knocking down his French opponent three times. This win brings Donaire's career record to an impressive 35-3. It is his second win this year after defeating William Prado of Brazil last March. (Interestingly enough, he also won that fight by TKO and also in the second round.)

Watch the fight here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

An evening at Ludo Boardgame Bar and Cafe

Because July 17 was declared a Philippine holiday, I got to spend most of the day with my friends at Ludo Boardgame Bar and Cafe. My friend Jeoff seems to be a bit addicted to Resistance LOL and boardgame hangouts are starting to become more popular in Manila so we agreed to spend the holiday playing games at Ludo.

photo from Ludo facebook page

It actually started out with a lot of waiting. We were only waitlisted as we didn't have a reservation so when we got there in the late afternoon, we were still 6th on the list. We figured it would take some time to get a table so we decided to head over to Snack Shack along V Luna extension to have some burgers (actually, only my friends had food there since I was still pretty full from my late lunch). We got back to Ludo at around 6:30pm and we were still supposed to be 4th in line. However, a table became open a few minutes after we returned and the people ahead of us on the list were not there so we finally managed to get seated. Cool!

To get a table at Ludo, each person in your party needs to order at least one item - either food or a drink. This wasn't a problem for us as it was close to dinner time so everyone ended up ordering at least one thing (in fact, over the course of our stay there, I ordered a milkshake, spare ribs, iced tea, coffee, and brownie a la mode and I also shared in an okonimiyaki LOL). Other than ordering food or dinks, there is no other requirement (i.e. you don't need to pay an hourly to stay or to use the boardgames there). We ended up playing a few games: Ticket to Ride (once), Tsuro of the Seas (once), 7 Wonders (once), Resistance (three times), and Pandemic (three times). I have come to realize I'm not a fan of Resistance mainly because I feel it's pretty one-sided, heavily favoring the red spies over the blue resistance. True enough, the spies won all three rounds that we played.

photo from Ludo facebook page

Probably the highlight of the evening was Pandemic, which none of us had played before. As such, we struggled to figure out how to play it and we actually didn't play it correctly at all LOL. Unlike most other games, this one requires all players to work together to win. The first round was a major mess given that we missed following the instructions so many times and we ended up losing when we ran out of cards. We were stunned in the second round when we got hit by multiple epidemic cards almost in a row and we eventually lost when we reached the maximum number of outbreaks. (We later learned that we should be playing with only four epidemic cards that should actually be distributed throughout the deck in a manner that prevents them all from coming up early and in a row; it seems what we did was the "heroic" version which is definitely not what beginners should be attempting.) In our last game, we finally found all cures and won. However, we realized after playing that even then, we still missed following some rules LOL. After that third game, I was thinking that I didn't really like Pandemic but as we discovered what instructions we didn't follow correctly during our post-game review, I realized that this could actually be a fun game when played properly. I think I want to give it another shot next time.


It was around 1 AM  when we called it quits. At that point, we had been playing boardgames for more than 6 hours. Cool! Despite being tired, everyone started thinking of when we should play again. I'm definitely looking forward to that.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Nephew time

Recently, one my nephew asked me to accompany him to the mall because the charger he purchased earlier in the day wasn't working. We had about an hour left before the mall would close so I hurriedly drove him there. As my nephew was discussing the replacement of his faulty charger, I ended up also buying a charger for my own phone. On the way out, we passed by an Adidas shop. I asked my nephew if I could check out some stuff there and he agreed. After several minutes of trying on many different Climacool shirts, I ended up getting four - three of which were on sale. My nephew told me as we were walking to the car that I actually benefited more from driving him to the mall because I ended up getting all those shirts. He was right.

I actually got to do a bit of driver/guardian duty for my nephews a few times over the last couple of months. Aside from that trip to the mall, I also picked up my nephew from an overnight stay with his school friends in Ortigas. On the way home, we stopped over at Cafe Breton since I hadn't eaten lunch yet. It was his first time there and he enjoyed the Blueberries & Cream crepe he ordered (he already had lunch so this dessert for him).

Prior to that, my nephews had been staying with our in-laws and they asked me if I could pick them up one Sunday morning and take them to the mall so they could go to Datablitz. I picked them up in the late morning and I took them to lunch at Conti's before they went video game shopping. We also passed by a music store so they could buy guitar strings. I got some Portuguese egg tarts from Lord Stow's before we headed home. I think it's great that I get to spend time with my nephews this way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Way Back Wednesday: Sarsi "Angat sa Iba"

One of my favorite commercials from the 1980s.


video uploaded by Bebot*1943

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A picture paints a thousand words

This is an incredibly inspirational story. About a month ago, college student Joyce Torrefranca saw a kid studying on a wooden bench outdoors, using light from the nearby McDonald's to study. Moved by what she saw, Joyce took a photo and shared it on her facebook page.

photo taken by Joyce Torrefranca; source:www.dailymail.co.uk

This picture then went viral, being shared thousands of times and was even featured in news websites abroad (such as on NY Daily news, Telegraph.co.uk, News.com.au, to name a few). The boy in this photo is Daniel Cabrera. His mother Christina works as a domestic helper to provide for him and his two siblings. His father passed away two years ago and his family live in the mini-grocery of Christina's employers after the shanty where they used to lived burned down five years ago. Even without this backstory, seeing that picture of an underprivileged kid make the most of his situation to try and study was so inspirational to many people that help started pouring in. Daniel and his family have since received donations of cash groceries, and school supplies. He was also awarded a scholarship. Wonderful news!

Hopefully, Daniel can get a solid education that will help make life better for him and his family in the future. I'm just happy that Joyce Torrefranco took this photo that helped move the world into action.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

TBT: Universal Studios Japan

Back when there was still no Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I got to visit Universal Studios Japan.


I was assigned to a project in the Land of the Rising Sun back in early 2001 along with a few other Filipino colleagues. As luck would have it, Universal Studios Japan opened in Osaka on March 31 of that year. Since it wasn't that far from where we were, a few of us decided to check it out.


We visited the amusement park in late May but as it was still quite new, the queues to get into the attractions were quite long. As such, we weren't really able to try a lot of rides. We got on JAWS, Jurassic Park, and Terminator 2:3-D. We also got to watch the Universal Monsters Live Rock and Roll show. We also got to see some of the street shows that were going on.


Of the few attractions we got to try, my favorite was the Terminator 2:3-D, probably because it was the first time that I got to experience a 3-D ride where the images on screen really did look like they were coming out at you. I enjoyed it to so much that I bought a Terminator 2 mug as a souvenir, and more than a decade later, that mug is still with me. Another thing that stood out to me was that at each ride, there was a sign that indicated the approximate waiting time in line. I guess this is now commonplace in many amusement parks but that was the first time I experienced it, and the waiting times indicated were pretty accurate.


Digital photography wasn't as advanced then. I had a 3.3 megapixel camera that cost a fortune and I also had a128-Mb memory stick (yes, Mb, not Gb; amazing how technology over the last fourteen years has evolved). As such, I wasn't able to take a lot of photos. Nevertheless, I look at these crummy pics I took and they still somehow transport me to that really fun day that I spent with really good friends.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Another year, another early loss

Well this sucks. Rafael Nadal lost in the second round to Dustin Brown at Wimbledon. Brown was a qualifier in this tournament and the highest ranking he has achieved so far is #78. However, he has the game to trouble Nadal, with his big serve and strong forehand. Nadal hasn't been playing well this year and against Brown, he couldn't get his rhythm, mainly also because his opponent was playing incredibly tennis. Brown's level of play in their second round match kept Nadal off-balance and preventing the former #1 from finding his rhythm. As such, Brown sent Nadal packing with a score of 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

This is now the fourth year in a row that Rafa has lost early at Wimbledon:

2012: Nadal loses to Lukas Rosol in Round 2, 7-6 (11-9), 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6.
2013: Nadal loses to Steve Darcis in Round 1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (8-10), 4-6.
2014: Nadal loses to Nick Kyrgios, 6-7, 7-5, 6-7, 3-6.
2015: Nadal loses to Dustin Brown, 5-7, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6.

Such a shame because Nadal won Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and again in 2010, and he reached the final on three other occasions (2006, 2007, and 2011). Each of his losses in the last four years have been to low-ranked players who seem to have played one of their best matches ever when they met Nadal. This is definitely proving to be Rafa's worst tennis year in more than a decade. The only upside to this is that he has practically no points to defend in the remainder of the year so hopefully he can play with no pressure and find some of his top form again.