Monday, October 30, 2017

October hodgepodge

October had its fair share of sad moments. Two very good friends their dads. Both of them live in the US now so they had to fly back to Manila. I made sure to go to both wakes. Hopefully my presence there was able to provide some support and solace to my grieving friends.

October also had its fair share of firsts. It was the first time I visited Estrel's in Quezon City. Estrel's is very well-known in Metro Manila for their caramel cakes but in this case, I was actually after their leche flan. I tried it once before a few years back and I really liked it. I had been meaning to buy some for myself but I never got around to it. At least not until early this month. The place was full of people when I got there but thankfully it seemed that almost everyone was after the caramel cake since their leche flan was still available. I left the place with three - one for my family, one for my grandma, and one for me. :)

It was also the first time I got to try Tim Hortons. While walking around in the Glorietta area one weekend, I saw a Tim Horton's right next to Anson's near Shangri-La Makati. I'm a big fan of coffee and donuts so I decided to have my afternoon snack there. I realized when I was there that they serve bagels, of which I am also a fan, so I ended up having an early dinner instead. I ordered an Italiano bagel, a Chocolate Graveyard donut (their limited-edition Halloween donut which was only available in October), and coffee. I really enjoyed my food.


I also ended up getting a dozen donuts which I brought home to my family but what I realized was that the Tim Hortons donuts don't last as well as Krispy Kreme or J.Co. A few hours after my purchase, the chocolate glaze on some of them had somehow slid off. Given this, I would recommend eating chocolate glazed donuts as soon as you order them.


While this one is not a first per se, it was the first time in more than two years I think that I didn't have a single game night in the entire month. My friends actually organized a game night in mid-October but I was unavailable on the scheduled date so I had to miss it.

I managed to watch one movie this month: The LEGO Ninjago Movie. I actually enjoyed this film more than the first LEGO Movie. I found the premise to be quite interesting - the hero is actually the son of the villain, but unlike The Empire Strikes Back, in this movie, it is the son who knows about the relationship while the father doesn't. It was such a fun and entertaining film to watch. The fact that Jackie Chan was part of the cast made it even more enjoyable for me. :)


Finally, after living on my own for such a long time, it was only this month that I sorted out cooking stuff at home. I bought a 2-burner electric induction hob a long time ago but I never got around to having a kitchen cabinet built for it. That is, until last month when I finally found a contractor that could build one for me. I purchased a stainless steel cooking set - a skillet, a sauce pan, and a pot - and I matched it with a stainless steel set of knives. The first thing I cooked? Instant mac and cheese LOL. I have a couple of cookbooks at home so I now need to start learning how to cook proper meals.

Speaking of food, I also got to spend a wonderful evening with my friends Doms and Zaza in Lugang Cafe in SM Aura. I suggested this place because I hadn't eaten in Lugang Cafe in maybe 7 or 8 years and I suddenly missed that place. Apart from the good food, I also really like the ambience. I think it was the first time that Doms and Zaza got to try this place and they both enjoyed it as much as I did. We capped off the evening with coffee in Coffee Bean before calling it a night.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Lion King is coming to Manila!

To say that I am really excited about this is a massive understatement. Disney's The Lion King musical is coming to Manila and I already got tickets!


I found out in early 2017 that The Lion King would be coming to Manila next year and that tickets would be on sale by October. As it turned out, tickets would be available to the public on November 2 but there would be a pre-sale for Globe subscribers and Visa credit card holders staring October 25. Since I knew tickets would sell very quickly and I might lose a shot at getting good seats, I decided to skip lunch on October 25 and spend that time buying tickets at the nearest Ticket World. The line wasn't that long - there were only 6 people ahead of me - but each person was being served at a snail's pace. By the time I got to the front of the line, the seats I wanted were gone on all the dates that I checked. I was a bit bummed about that but I am happy that I still got decent seat. In any case, the really important thing is that I now have tickets to a show that I had been wishing would make it to Manila for a really long time now.

I got to see The Lion King back in 2001 in London West End during a trip I took to the UK and I was absolutely blown away. I am now really looking forward to seeing it again, this time with my family.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Entourage

One of my closest friends, Mike, got married to Reb this month and he asked me to be one of his groomsmen. The wedding was on a Friday so I had to get permission to take a leave without pay (I had just started and I still didn't have any days off yet). Thankfully, my boss approved my request so I immediately told Mike I could be part of his entourage. Shortly after that, he asked me if I could sing mass songs during the church ceremony. Naturally, I agreed. I initially thought that would be it as far as my role during the wedding. As it turned out, I ended up being a lot busier than I had expected, but thankfully, it all turned out great in the end.

photo of the church ceremony taken by my friend Martin

The wedding was on a Friday and I realized I had a bit of a predicament. I can't drive my car on Fridays due to the color coding scheme. While I was trying to figure things out, Mike messaged the entire entourage asking us to join him in his condo right before his wedding so that we could keep him company, help him get ready, and even have a few photos and videos taken with him. I said I would be there and I asked him if anyone else in the entourage confirmed that they would go. That way, I could hitch a ride with one of them from Mike's condo to the church and from the church to the reception. Mike said that some people confirmed but that the worst case scenario would be that I could just borrow his car and drive him to church. I think the moment Mike came up with that back-up, worst-case-scenario option, it started to appeal a lot more to him and he finally decided it would  be best if I would indeed drive his car. He even loaded the wedding drinks in his car's trunk and the plan was for the wedding coordinator to get the drinks from his car during the church ceremony and bring them to reception venue.

On the morning of the wedding, I suddenly got a call from Mike. Apparently, the person making his wedding story video omitted a couple of key details in the video. He was told that the changes and the re-rendering would take a while and that the final video would only be available at around 5pm. Mike asked me if I could sort out the download of the video since he would obviously be unable to manage it himself at that time. He suggested I drive from the church to his condo, download the video from there, then head to the reception venue. While that sounded like a plan, I decided to bring my laptop, a power bank, and a USB drive just so that I had more options.

Fast forward to shortly before the wedding. Forty-five minutes before the church ceremony and we were still in Mike's condo. The photographers wanted to take more photos but I expressed my extreme anxiety since I hadn't had any practice with the band yet and I was worried we would get caught in bad Friday traffic. We finally made our way to the church and thankfully, we got there quite quickly. I now had about 15 minutes to run through 7 songs with the musicians - obviously not enough time but at that point I had to work with what I had. Once I got my cues on when to come in on each song and after getting a few other instructions, I made my way to the back of the church to get ready for my entourage duties.

That turned out to be quite stressful as well. As the principal sponsors started making their way down the aisle, we realized that (1) there was no coordinator with us at the back to help guide us and (2) there were more bridesmaids than groomsmen. Tensions were mounting since we weren't certain what to do and I myself couldn't really stay calm since I was already worried about singing seven songs with almost no practice with the musicians. Thankfully, one of the groomsmen seemed like he had been through stuff like this in the past. He calmed people down and assigned 2 bridesmaids per groomsman. I was so on edge that I started walking at a pretty fast clip so the two ladies who were with me had to tell me to slow down. As soon as Reb made her way down the aisle, I headed over to the musicians area.

It was a few minutes after that when I had to sing the first song, See Ye First, and I immediately felt the intense difficulty of not having had any decent practice with the band. I was trying to pick up the tempo from how they were playing but apparently they had the same idea and they were trying to adjust to my timing. As such, we ended up trying to feel our way through it too much that the song ended up being so long drawn out. The second song, Take and Receive, started out that way as well, but midway through the song, one of the musicians picked up on my discomfort so he started dictating the timing and I immediately followed. After that, the musicians started controlling the tempo of the rest of the songs and we managed to make it through. Not my best performance by any stretch of the imagination but that's what you get when you don't have time to rehearse properly.

At the end of the church ceremony, I started to think that the only problem left was the video that I still had to download. However, Mike pulled me into a conversation he was having with his dad and the coordinator regarding the drinks. Apparently, the coordinator's vehicle was caught in traffic but the drinks that were in Mike's car had to be brought to the reception venue immediately. That meant that I wouldn't be able to go Mike's condo anymore to download the video. (Good thing I had the foresight to bring my laptop with me. I also felt that if I couldn't download the video from my laptop, I could just beg or even pay the venue to download the video for me.) I drove to the reception venue with the coordinator and the drinks but by the time we got there, parking was completely full. Oh no! I told the coordinator to just bring the drinks down and I then proceeded to look for a space to park. I was getting very desperate so when I saw a guard, I begged him to help me with parking options, telling him that I still had a lot to do for the wedding. He must have seen the very panicked and stressed look on my face because he very nicely held a parking slot for me, telling all other guests that the spot was reserved. Wow! I am so glad I asked that guard for help.

photo of our table at the reception taken by my friend Me-ann

It was past 6 when I settled down at the reception venue and I contacted the video guy, who said that the video was still rendering. Not good. I ask him what time he expected the video would be ready and he said it might be around 7pm. I knew that the video would be shown at 8pm so there was a bit of time. I set up my laptop and tethered it to my phone so that I would be ready to download the video as soon as the link was emailed to me. I checked my data usage and thankfully, I didn't really use a lot of data in October so I could afford to download even a huge file.

I had to explain to so many of my friends who passed by our table (which was next to the buffet spread) that I wasn't working and that my laptop was on because I was sorting some stuff out for the wedding. The link finally arrived and thankfully, it was nowhere near as large as I thought it would be so I successfully downloaded it in just a few minutes. I watched and listened to it to ensure that it would play properly and it did. I copied it into a USB drive, handed it to the coordinator, and I finally breathed a deep sigh of relief. My work for Mike and Reb's wedding was finally done! I felt a great sense of achievement and I was finally able to relax and enjoy the food and the party. After the program, I stayed on so I could catch up with many friends whom I hadn't seen in a while. It was an incredible evening and while there were moments of stress and panic, I felt pride and a huge sense of accomplishment that I was able to do everything that I needed to do. I was also very happy to have been part of the wedding of two very important people in my life.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Adem Dance Crew amazes in Asia's Got Talent 2017

Asia's Got Talent kicked off its second season last weekend and I got to see it. The highlight of the show had to have been Adem Dance Crew from Kyrgyz Republic. (I am like almost everyone who wondered what country it was that they said they were from; I was more familiar with the name Kyrgyztan.)

During the interview, when the guy with the mic said "I think you've never seen this kind of dance before," I was a bit skeptical as to how different their performance would be. When they started doing pop-and-lock moves with some lighting effects in the mic guy's hat, my skepticism started to grow.
Obviously, they were really good but from a uniqueness standpoint, I was thinking "is that it?" Well, apparently it was not. Things just took off in an unexpected and jaw-dropping direction at around the 2:25 mark. The shock value continued all the way until the end. These (I'm guessing double-jointed?) men are flexible beyond belief. Check it out here:


video uploaded in youtube by Asia's Got Talent

That Golden Buzzer from new judge Jay Park was well-deserved. (They also won the Traveloka award, meaning they all get a free trip to Europe.) I decided to check out some of their other videos on youtube and their performances are really incredible. Contortionist pop-and-lockers, what a pretty amazing combination. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of them in Asia's Got Talent.

Adem Dance Crew
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfeP0LbCY6FQM3IBmV-JUNw
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ademdance

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Starbucks Chicken Pot Pie

My favorite pastry at the moment is the Chicken Pot Pie from Starbucks. I discovered it recently when I was looking for something savory to eat that wasn't too heavy. The moment I saw it in the display, I knew I had to order it.


I like this so much that the moment I got over my stomach problems, this was the first thing I ate. :)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stomach problems again

I'm not sure if I ate something bad or I suffered from dehydration (or both) but I ended up with some pretty nasty stomach problems mid last week. I defaulted to my "stomach problem diet" of Sky Flakes, bananas, and Gatorade and Pocari Sweat. I also took a couple of Diatabs capsules. Despite all that, I was still having trouble after 3 days. What was a bit worrisome too was that I felt a very slight cramp on both my legs which kind of made me think that I was still badly dehydrated. Which was a bit strange because I was drinking about 2 to 4 liters of fluids - water, Gatorade, Pocari Sweat, and oral rehydration salts - every day. It was then that I decided to head over to the ER of Makati Med.

I ended up getting my electrolytes checked and thankfully, despite my initial concerns, my electrolytes were normal. I was prescribed medication as well as Erceflora, which is a probiotic (read: good bacteria) that helps in proper digestion. It didn't work immediately but after a few more days of sticking to my diet and taking my medication and Erceflora, I finally got better.

Aside from the misery of being sick and not being able to eat any proper food (or even enjoy coffee), another sucky thing about this was that I had to take a few days of leave without pay. (I don't have any sick leaves yet since I am still new.) I also had to do quite a bit of catching up to do when I finally returned to work. The only good thing that came out from this was that I lost some weight, something I had been needing to do for a while now. Whether or not I can keep the weight off is another matter. :)

Friday, September 29, 2017

September hodgepodge

I haven't really been able to blog a lot in the last month because I've been quite busy, both at work and outside. The highlight of the month has to be my high school reunion. It was a milestone anniversary for my batch and because of that, almost half of our entire class went to the event, with many people flying in from other countries to join in the celebration. It was an amazing party and what made it even more amazing was seeing so many people I hadn't seen in such a long time. I was telling one of my friends that while I am still quite connected to many of my high school friends through social media and I get to interact with some of them every now and then, it was still very different seeing everyone together at the same time. It really was an epic night.

It was great to revisit my alma mater

Having many high school classmates in town at the same time meant that there were several smaller reunions organized right around the main homecoming event. My third year section had dinner at Toast at The 30th Ayala Mall and many of my classmates were able to make it: Trish, Edsel, Flo, Jan, Eugene, Elaine, Mitch, and George. I also had lunch at Marcia Adams in Tagaytay with Mitch and Eugene. I will write more about my lunch in Marcia Adams in a separate post.

Marcia Adams

Kingsman: The Golden Circle was the only film I watched at the cinema this month. This was a sequel of Kingsman: The Secret Service which I absolutely loved so I naturally had to watch this second film. I have to say that I liked the first one more and I think it had a tighter story but The Golden Circle was still a lot of fun to watch.


Two of my newest board games are Scythe and Century Spice Road, both which I brought to my September game night. I had played Scythe once before and I have to say that I really like this game, even if I did end up in last place. :) If the rules were easier to explain, I would probably get more of my friends to play it.

Scythe

Century Spice Road is also pretty interesting. This one has easier rules than Scythe (it's been compared to Splendor but I don't think they are all that similar in terms of their game play) so I am sure I will play this with my more casual gaming friends.

Century Spice Road

I also brought my family to Niu by Vikings to celebrate my nephew's birthday. My nephews are in their teens and they can both eat quite a lot so I thought a buffet would be a perfect choice. It turned out to be a night of some massive feasting, with everyone heading back to the buffet spread for seconds and thirds (and even fourths). Niu is more expensive than a regular Vikings though so maybe for the next birthday celebration, we will go to a regular Vikings. (I think the difference is mainly that Niu has a few more luxury items and it also has wine but none of us had any wine so we ended up not really optimizing our dining options.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Nadal still at #1

This is very late but as a Nadal fan, I still have to congratulate him for winning the 2017 US Open. That win gave Nadal his 16th Grand Slam event trophy, his 3rd US Open championship, and his 5th title this year. It also ensured that Rafa would continue to be ranked #1. And here I was worried that he would lose the ATP top ranking after the US Open.




This Nadal win means that he and Roger Federer have split the 4 major tournaments this year. Considering that many people have felt that Rafa and Roger were way past their primes and may never return to the pinnacle of the sport, this resurgence of both athletes is a testament to how astounding and legendary they are, both physically and mentally. They are both pretty much a lock to end the year #1 and #2. While Rafa has the advantage right now, the remainder of the year will be played on hard courts, a surface that favors Roger so it will be interesting to see how this all pans out.




I was having a discussion with a friend of mine recently who was wondering why the up-and-coming men can't seem to break through. I told her that in my opinion, it was not because they weren't great; it was just because they were playing in the era of three of greatest players of all time. Over the last decade and a half, you would normally have to beat at least two of the three (Roger, Rafa and Novak Djokovic) to win a tournament. It doesn't help that usually, one or two of them are playing at the top of their game. And if they aren't, then Andy Murray is. All four of these players have had a lock on the #1 ranking since 2004! Novak and Andy have been practically absent this year due to injury challenges. It will be very interesting to see what happens next year when both return and with Rafa and Roger also at the top. It also makes me wonder who the next player is to achieve the #1 ranking in the ATP outside the Big Four.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Celebration dinner at Zucchini's

I had been wanting to try Zucchini's, a fine dining restaurant along Scout Tuason (near Tomas Morato), for a while now. When thinking of restaurants where we could celebrate the birthdays of my mom and my brother, I figured this would be a perfect venue.


Since we were celebrating a couple of special occasions, I decided to splurge on the food. We ordered a variety of soups: Forest Mushroom, French Onion, and Lobster Bisque. All of them were very good, but the general favorite seemed to be the lobster bisque. For our appetizer, we ordered the Seafood Platter, which consisted of smoked salmon, baked mussels, scallop gratin, and shrimp gambas.

Seafood Platter

We also ordered the Slow-Baked Bone Marrow with Sea Salt and Arugula. To enjoy this dish, we took some bone marrow, spread it on the crostini as if it were a pate, and added a bit of salt. This was really good too.

Slow-Baked Bone Marrow with Sea Salt and Arugula

In fact, everything we ordered was excellent, from the Certified Angus Beef Rib-Eye Steak...

Rib-Eye Steak

to the Chilean Seabass...

Chilean Seabass

to the Shrimp and Scallop with Truffle Oil Risotto...

Shrimp and Scallop with Truffle Oil Risotto

to the Lobster.

Lobste

After feasting on appetizers, soup, and entrees, we all still had room for dessert. Zucchini's very nicely gave us a couple of cakes for free to celebrate the two birthdays. On top of that, I ordered the Gruyere Parmesan Souffle with dulce de leche sauce on the side because I felt like trying a souffle and this combination seemed interesting.


What made our dining experience even more enjoyable was the ambience. The service is topnotch and the interior is warm and luxurious. The artwork displayed on the walls is fun and whimsical and, along with the dinnerware, give customers a sense that they are in France.



I am happy I chose Zucchini's as our celebration venue because my entire family greatly enjoyed our evening here. The food was exceptionally good and I'm pleased that my family also got to try menu items that they wouldn't normally order. Since it is a fine dining restaurant, the food is obvious pretty expensive but it is perfect for special occasions.


Zucchini's
http://zucchinis.com.ph/
20 Scout Tuason corner Scout Castor Streets, Quezon City, Philippines
(02) 415 5533

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August hodgepodge

Let's kick things off with some bad news. My car got hit by a tricycle. We were stopped at an intersection and I was on the 3rd lane while the tricycle was on the 2nd lane. When the stoplight turned green, the tricycle suddenly moved into my lane - and in fact the driver wasn't even looking my way - and he hit the front side of my car. He actually drove off and I had to keep honking my horn at him for him to stop. When he did stop, he had the audacity to accuse me of being at fault. Wow! I was livid and thankfully a few traffic enforcers joined us to help out.

On to the positive stuff. I got to spend some quality time with friends this August. My colleagues from my first company had a reunion early in the month. We met up with Raych who was in town for a couple of weeks. Anna was also in town so our dinner group included the two of them along with Jette, Mitch, and Ric and Lany (it had actually also been a while since I had seen Ric and Lany). We decided to have dinner in Provenciano along Maginhawa. Our friend Bett was unable to join us but she recommended that we try their bibingka so we ordered that for dessert and it was really good. (The rest of the food we had was also really good. No wonder this place is always full.)

Provenciano

My friends from my second company also had a reunion. Chris was in Manila and for the first time since he and his family moved to Canada, I got to hang out with him. Joh, Raffa, Alvin, Doray, Mike, Reb, and I joined Chris for dinner in Ping Pong Diplomacy. (The food was pretty good.) This reunion also doubled as Joh's birthday celebration. We then headed over to Toby's Estate for coffee and dessert.

I also met up with Shai and Pia, my colleagues from my previous company. We ended up having dinner in Florabel in Estancia. Shai and I had been planning to meet up for a while so we finally found a schedule that worked for both of us. Pia was also in the neighborhood so she was able to join us.

Finally, my high school friends and I celebrated Joyce's birthday at The 30th Ayala Mall in Ortigas. We had dinner in Shrimp Bucket and coffee in La Maripili. I actually really liked the interior of this restaurant. I also enjoyed the nutella crepe I ordered.

La Maripili

I recently purchased Clank! because it had some pretty good reviews online and thankfully, it lived up to the hype. It's a combination of deck building and dungeon crawl, and the first time I played this, I actually won.

Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

I also got to play a few more games, including Lords of Waterdeep, Dungeon Petz, Splendor, and a new game Here, Kitty, Kitty! Dungeon Petz remains to be one of my favorite games despite the fact that I have never won and in fact I have usually placed 3rd or 4th out of 4 players LOL. You know you enjoy a game when you keep losing and still enjoy playing it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Gospel version of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

A couple of friends of mine recently traveled to Europe to see U2's Joshua Tree tour. This tour is named after the album that they released 30 years ago and which is considered by many to be one of the best albums of all time. My two favorite U2 songs - I still haven't found what I'm looking for and Where the streets have no name - are from Joshua Tree.

This version of I still haven't found what I'm looking for is actually from another U2 album, Rattle and Hum. This lyrics of this song have a religious tone so this gospel flavor makes perfect sense. The video is actually not the version you hear on the album (click on this link to hear the Rattle and Hum album version) but it is from the companion rockumentary film.


video uploaded in youtube by MofoU2Slovakia

They did this gospel version as well recently, when they guested in Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote their Joshua Tree tour. The cool thing about that was the flash mob effect, where people from the audience who were actually part of the choir, slowly joined in as the song built up.

Monday, August 28, 2017

New job part 2: Pag-ibig, Philhealth, and NBI Clearance

Here's the continuation of my previous post, this time about Pag-IBIG, Philhealth, and NBI Clearance.

Pag-IBIG
http://www.pagibigfund.gov.ph

My first problem was that I didn't know what my Pag-IBIG number was. I actually had all my other government account and ID numbers except Pag-IBIG. My HR friend suggested that I call their hotline 724-4244 (more contact info about Pag-IBIG: http://www.pagibigfund.gov.ph/contacthdmf.aspx) which I did.

During the call, I was asked a few questions and they were able to pull up my Pag-IBIG ID and share it with me. Cool! However, a second problem: I was told that apparently, my Pag-IBIG account was also temporary and not permanent. It was the same issue I had with my SSS ID. Ugh. To fix it, I apparently had to go to a Pag-IBIG office and submit a Member's Change of Information Form (MCIF, which can be found under the Provident-related forms of their website http://www.pagibigfund.gov.ph/dlforms.aspx).

I went to the Pag-IBIG office along Jupiter and I did this on the same day that I went to SSS because they were pretty close to each other (about a 10-15 minute walk). When I arrived, it wasn't very clear where I had to go so so I asked help from someone who then instructed me to fall in line to get a number. It was a really long line - more than 50 people - and when I made my way to the front, I was told that I had to go the 2nd floor instead. Ugh again. Thankfully, there was no line to get a number on the 2nd floor.

When my number was called and I was being served, I was told that I actually had to fill out another form (I think it was the Member's Data Form or MDF). Once I filled out that form, I submitted it to the guy at the counter again and my Pag-IBIG account was set to permanent status then and there. Perfect.

NBI Clearance

To secure your NBI Clearance, you need to go to the NBI Clearance website to complete your online registration. There is an option to enter your old NBI Clearance data to speed up your online application, but since my old clearance was secured more than a decade ago, it didn't work when I tried it. :) As such, I had to follow the normal process.

I found the process to be a bit counterintuitive and lengthy. I first had to create an online account and during the account creation, I already needed to indicate if I was applying for new clearance or just renewal. Since my old clearance wasn't working, I had to select "New". (Personally, this isn't  the most sensible approach for me because account creation should be independent of the clearance request process.) After I created my account, I filled out the online NBI Clearance Application form. I then selected the location for my appointment. The earliest schedule I could find that was close enough to me was at the Mandaluyong branch located on the 3rd floor of Shaw Center Mall so I booked an appointment there. I then selected the appointment schedule. This completed the first part of my online appointment. I then got a screen that shared some pretty important details on how to proceed with payment, including your reference number. If you are applying for NBI Clearance, I suggest you save this screen since you will be needing the information on it later on.

There are a few options for payment and I decided to just pay via bank deposit. I selected Metrobank because the other banks include a minimal additional processing fee in Metro Manila while Metrobank did not. The NBI Clearance fee is P140. Here are the steps for payment:

  1. Fill out a regular deposit slip (use the details provided in that screen I mentioned; it will differ per bank) and pay the exact amount in CASH or ON-US Check (check issued by this same bank). Note that some banks may charge a handling fee for deposits in their provincial branches.
  2. When deposit is completed, click the link provided in the screen I was talking about (in my case, I got this link because I chose Metrobank - https://gw.dragonpay.ph/Bank/ConfirmDeposit.aspx?refno=WR7F9L94&procid=MBTX&wlm=1) and fill out the details within the same day of your deposit to validate your payment. You have to enter the branch code, date, time, and amount deposited, all of which are provided in the deposit slip (there is a sample deposit slip in the link provided which should help you know how to fill out the required fields).

Payments are processed at end of the day. NBI will send a confirmation email to you once your payment is validated. If you do not receive an email by noon the next day, you may call NBI at (02) 655-6820, email help@dragonpay.ph, or chat with their Customer Support. (Thankfully, I received an email later that day confirming my payment.)

On the day of my appointment, I brought a print-out of the payment confirmation e-mail and my deposit slip to the NBI office in Shaw Center Mall, which opens daily at 9am. (You can park in the basement.) There was a long queue when I got there but it moves pretty quickly. When I got to the front of the line, my photo and my fingerprints were taken but unfortunately, there was a hit. What?? And here I thought my name was relatively unique. I was told to return two weeks later to get my clearance. Thankfully, when I returned, it was pretty straightforward. I just handed my deposit slip which had a stamp that indicated the date I was supposed to return. Within minutes, I had my clearance. Would have been nicer if I got all this sorted out on my first visit but at least the second visit went pretty quickly.

Philhealth
https://www.philhealth.gov.ph/

Finally, Philhealth. I got a Member Data Record (MDR) from my previous company which I then submitted to my new company but a few days after I started work, I was told by HR that I needed to fill out two forms - I can't remember what they were - and then go to the nearest Philhealth office to submit them myself. I decided that I would just do this on the same day that I would get my clearance and thankfully, there was a Philhealth office along Shaw Boulevard (I think it might actually be the head office), making it easy for me to do both on the same morning.

When I arrived at Philhealth, I can't recall on which floor I was told to go - I think it may have been the 10th - but when I got there, there was no line. I was served immediately so I submitted the two forms I got from our HR. I was then given a new MDR along with the other form that I submitted (I think they just stamped certification on it or something). I was also given a Philhealth ID.

And there you go. It was a whole lot of effort trying to understand the processes, filling out forms, traveling to and from the different government offices, and falling in line. Thankfully, all of my government accounts are pretty much in order now.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

New job and sorting out my SSS records

One of the biggest changes in my life over the last decade just happened this August: I moved to a new company. It was such a huge change for me because I had been working in my previous company for more than a decade. Now, I continue working in the same field but in a different industry and my current role is pretty different from what I used to do. I am quite excited about this change and I am looking forward to growing a lot more as a professional.

That said, it also involved a lot - and I do mean a LOT - of paperwork. I realized that there was a ton of stuff I needed to do to sort out my SSS, Pag-IBIG, and Philhealth accounts. I also needed to get NBI Clearance. It was a whole lot of work but I am happy that I got everything sorted out.

SSS
https://www.sss.gov.ph/

First, I didn't have my SSS Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID). I supposedly had an SSS ID given to me a very long time ago, but either I lost it or it was marked as having been given to me even if it wasn't. Still, that SSS ID wouldn't be valid anymore since it should already have been replaced by the UMID. I did a bit of research and saw that I needed to have the following:

  1. SSS Form E-6, or a UMID Card Application Form
  2. Three copies of SSS Form R-6, or Miscellaneous Payment Form. UMID Card replacement costs P300.
  3. Affidavit of Loss

I downloaded Forms E-6 and R-6 online and filled them out. I also prepared an affidavit of loss for my UMID card. I then went to the corner of Makati Avenue and Jupiter to have my UMID cards notarized. I think it costs P100 to notarize a document in the small stall there. (You can easily spot it because there are signs that say "NOTARY" and "XEROX".

At the SSS Office along Buendia (Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue), I was instructed go to Counter 9 to process my UMID Card replacement request. Upon arriving at counter 9, I was told that my SSS ID was only temporary and not permanent and that this was most likely because my records were not fully updated when SSS upgraded their systems and processes. As such, I first had to go to Counter 12 to request my SSS account to be updated. For that, I needed to give give them the following:

  1. Two copies of SSS Form E-4, or Member Data Change Request, to update member record status from temporary to permanent.
  2. A copy of my Birth Certificate (thankfully I had it with me)

The problem was that the system was down when I was there. Also, the payment counter was already closed (it was past 4pm when I arrived). As such, I had to go back the next working day. Thankfully, the system was up when I returned. I first went to Counter 12 to have my member record status updated. Then I fell in line at the cashier to pay the UMID replacement cost. I then fell in line again at Counter 9 to submit my requirements. It was around 12:15pm when I was served and by then I was told I had to go to the third floor for UMID photo taking. Unfortunately, the talking of ID photos was closed between 12pm and 1pm so I had to return after lunch break. After getting my photo taken, I was told that my UMID would be delivered to my place of residence within 3 to 6 months. So I'm not quite done but at least I am done with all the requirements and now it's just a matter of waiting for my ID to arrive.

I will write about how how I sorted out my Pag-IBIG, Philhealth, and NBI Clearance in my next post.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Skeletor's Best Insults

People who are familiar with the 1980s animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe will get a kick out of this. I never realized it at as a kid but apparently, Skeletor is the master of insults. Major props have to be given to voice actor Alan Oppenheimer.


video uploaded in youtube by DreamWorksTV

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

West Side Story in Manila

I finally got to see another one of the most well-known and significant musicals in history - West Side Story. The show made its way to Manila for a few weeks this month and I made sure I got to see it. I knew it was like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet so I sort of knew how the story would go but I had never actually seen it in its entirety. As such, seeing the whole story unfold was a really good experience.


What I never realized was how magnificent and beautiful the soundtrack of West Side Story is. Almost every song has made its way into pop culture, whether or not people know that these songs are from the musical. Somewhere, America, I feel pretty, Tonight, and Maria are all iconic in their own right. Two of my favorite songs from the musical aren't quite as popular - I have a love and One hand, one heart. (I think it is because of the beautiful medley of these two songs that was recorded by Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis.) It was such a treat to see and hear all these incredible songs performed live. I've always known they were all from West Side Story but it wasn't until now that I got to hear them all sung as part of a story.


The cast was also remarkable. The best of them in my opinion was definitely Kevin Hack, who portrayed the lead character Tony. I thought his voice is absolutely incredible. His tone, clarity, range, projection, and control were all topnotch. Another standout was Keely Beirne, who portrayed Anita. I also really liked the guy who played Doc, even if it was only a speaking role (or well I am guessing he also sang, but just as part of the ensemble, with no solo parts).

All in all, it was a wonderful show with glorious music, brilliant singing, great choreography. and a timeless story about love against all odds. I am happy that West Side Story made its way to Manila and I am pleased that I got to see it during its limited run here at the Theatre at Solaire.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Macandili is 2nd best libero at the Asian Women's Volleyball Championship!

She spent the last couple of years impressing Filipinos with her incredible and buwis-buhay saves. Now she is also impressing the rest of Asia. Dawn Macandili, the multi-awarded libero from De La Salle University, competed as part of the Philippine team in the 2017 Asian Women's Volleyball Championships held in the Philippines. On the final day of the event last August 17, she was awarded 2nd best libero. What an amazing achievement!




This was the first time that Dawn was part of the national team and her nerves were evident in the first two matches, against Hong Kong and Kazakhstan. She finally found her rhythm against Vietnam, where she had 19 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions. She continued to showcase her skills against Thailand, amazing everyone with her speed and her commitment and willingness to throw her body however which way she could just to save the ball. Her efforts not only helped the Philippines achieve a top 8 finish, an improvement from our 12th place finish two years ago, they also got her her first international award. It is unprecedented as well since normally, events do not award a 2nd best libero (there is only a best libero) and all the individual awardees are usually from the top 4 teams. I am very happy for Dawn and proud of the honor she has brought to herself and to the country.

Interestingly enough, August 17 has now become a significant date for Macandili in the last two years. In 2016, she made history by becoming the first libero to be awarded MVP in the Philippines (this was at the PSL All Filipino Conference). Exactly a year later, she gets an individual award in her first international competition. While she isn't the first Filipino to win in an international event, I think most of our past awards have been at the SEA Games and I don't recall the last time we had a Filipino awardee beyond the Philippines and the SEA Games.

Speaking of which, Dawn will be competing with the rest of the National Team in the women's volleyball event at the 2017 SEA Games. The Philippines will play starting on the 24th. Good luck to the Philippine National Team and congratulations again to Dawn Macandili!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nadal is back at #1

Congratulations to Rafa Nadal for becoming the ATP World #1 player. He takes over the top ranking from Andy Murray who was #1 for 41 weeks. While his ascent to the pinnacle of men's tennis was assured earlier in the week when Roger Federer pulled out of Cincinnati - either Roger or Rafa were sure to supplant Andy - it ended up being a bit anticlimactic as Rafa was ousted in the quarterfinals by Nick Kyrgios (who eventually lost in the finals to Grigor Dimitrov). Nevertheless, the number 1 ranking reminds us how incredible Rafa's year has been, including a 10th title at the French Open and in Barcelona and Monte Carlo.

This stint atop the world rankings could be quite short-lived since Roger Federer is expected to overtake him after the US Open, where Roger is the favorite to win (or at the very least, to get further in the tournament than Rafa since it's a court that favors the Swiss over the Spaniard). Nevertheless, this is still a major accomplishment for Nadal. After being plagued by several injuries over the last three years, many had wondered if his best days were past him. Thankfully, they aren't. While we might not see peak Nadal as often as we did several years ago, it is still amazing how he continues to show us why he is one of the greatest tennis players in history.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Movie-watching in August

For the first time this year, I watched two movies on two consecutive days. That they both involved cars and fast driving is an interesting coincidence.

Baby Driver


I saw the trailer of Baby Driver while watching another movie recently and it piqued my interest so I decided to watch it. Thankfully I did because I enjoyed it tremendously. The movie revolves around Baby (portrayed by Ansel Elgort) who drives getaway cars for criminals. There's a lot more to the story than that of course but I will just leave it at that. Baby Driver is edgy and thrilling, moving along at a solid pace but still allowing the audience to understand who the characters are and what motivates them. As noted critic Roger Ebert said, "the survival of the heroes here becomes something we actively root for instead of just know is likely to happen." I actually gasped at least a few times while watching and I even muttered a somewhat audible "oh no" at one point. Everyone in the cast put in great performances, including Ansel, Lily James (who also starred as Cinderella in the 2015 live action Disney film), Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and John Hamm. I later realized that this film was directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed two of my favorite comedies Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. No wonder I enjoyed this movie. I've seen only 7 movies this year but this is my favorite so far. I will certainly get the DVD when it comes out.

Cars 3


I wasn't sure what to expect in this Pixar film, considering that I was a bit underwhelmed by Finding Dory and I absolutely didn't like The Good Dinosaur (these were Pixar's last two full-length feature films). As it turned out, I actually really enjoyed Cars 3. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. Please stop reading if you don't want to find out anything about the movie. What I absolutely loved about this movie was how it didn't force upon the audience the highly inaccurate notion that old-school "heart-and-soul" training beats out more modern and scientifically-designed training techniques and methods. It also showed us that great champions of the past, no matter how legendary they are, will at some point be overtaken by younger, stronger athletes. For a moment, I actually thought that Lightning McQueen would somehow miraculously beat the record-breaking up-and-coming rookie Jackson Storm. Thankfully, the story didn't go down that path. Cars 3 is not quite at the level of Up, Wall-E, or Toy Story 3 but it's a very good Pixar movie  that is definitely worth watching. It has heart, realism, and a feel-good ending.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Giordano celebrates the 40th anniversary of Voltes V

I grew up watching and being very into Voltes V when I was young and my predilection of this animated series has stayed with me until now. So when I saw that Giordano was releasing limited edition shirts on August 3 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Voltes V, I just had to get some for myself. Actually, around the same time last year, Giordano came out with Voltes V shirts but I was unable to buy then; I was in a rush when I passed by a Giordano shop that had many Voltes V shirts on display and when I returned a couple of days later, all Voltes V merchandise had sold out. As such, I was more intent on getting shirts this time around.

My schedule got tremendously packed in early August so I was unable to go to Giordano until a few days later. When I finally made my way to a Giordano store, some designs had already been sold out and a few more had almost fully run out, with only XL or XS remaining. Still, there were a few designs that had many sizes available. After selecting a couple for myself, I thought it would be nice to get shirts for my brothers as well (they are also Voltes V fans). Once I had selected 4 shirts, the saleslady suggested that I get 2 more because I would get a free Voltes V umbrella if I bought 6 shirts. As such, I ended up leaving Giordano with 6 shirts and an umbrella. LOL.


I am now looking forward to wearing my new Voltes V shirts. :) Thanks to Giordano for releasing these limited edition shirts. Happy 40th anniversary, Voltes V!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Weekend in Baguio

My friends and I decided to go to Baguio for a weekend. Normally, I wouldn't be all that interested to travel such a long distance for just a weekend but I know that Baguio is now "only" about 4-5 hours away from Manila due to TPLEX. I also hadn't been to Baguio in such a long time that I felt I wanted to make this two-day trip despite the distance.


The last time I was in Baguio was in 2004, when my friends and I went up Mt. Pulag. However, that doesn't really qualifies as a proper visit to Baguio because we just really passed through. We stopped briefly at our meet-up point in Baguio so that we could convoy all the way to Pulag and on the way home, we just had dinner in Baguio before heading back to Manila. Prior to 2004, I went to Baguio in 1996 for an inter-university contest held in St. Louis University so I didn't get to go around Baguio that time either. The last time I actually really got to go around Baguio was in 1995, but I barely remember what places we visited when we were there.

Awesome view of the sunrise at our Airbnb place

This trip didn't really have a fixed itinerary but I told my friends that I wanted to go to Mines View Park (for the photo op LOL) and so that I could buy strawberry jam and ube jam in Good Shepherd which is just right next to the park. There were a lot of people when we went there but thankfully, we all still managed to have photos taken with the view.

Mines View Park

I am also pretty happy that I was able to get three bottles of strawberry jam and four bottles of ube jam from Good Shepherd. My friends who had been to Baguio recently said that there was supposed to be a maximum number of bottles that people were allowed to buy. Thankfully, when we were there, we were told that we could buy as many bottles as we wanted. Also, in almost all my trips to Good Shepherd in Tagaytay, I had almost never been able to get strawberry jam there because it was always out of stock so I was pleased to finally get my hands on a few bottles of strawberry jam here. It also rained quite heavily when we were there. Thankfully, the rain didn't last very long.



The original plan was for us to go to Camp John Hay that afternoon but because it rained, the ground was quite muddy. As such, we decided to go to Bencab Museum instead (we initially agreed to go to the museum on Sunday morning). That worked for me since Bencab Museum was the other place that I absolutely wanted to visit.


I really enjoyed my visit here. The museum featured a lot of different artistic styles and media. I could easily have spent a whole day here just appreciating everything on display. Naturally, a lot of pieces featured in the museum are creations of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera but pieces from many other artists are also on display.


Tribal Masks by Bencab (mixed media)

Chinamoy (season) by Cawaon Cablog (Oil on canvas)

The museum also has a cafe at the lowest level. There is also a garden open to visitors. It was very foggy when we were there but that actually made for some interesting photos.

Garden at the Bencab Museum

Of all the restaurants that my friends and I visited while in Baguio, my favorite by far was the first place we went to: Arca's Yard. The food was pretty good and their coffee has a free refill. There are some incredible views of the mountains and there's an awesome library at the basement of the cafe. I can imagine spending an entire day at this cafe, eating, having coffee, and maybe even reading a book from the library. It's a bit far from the city center but I did feel it was worth a trip.

Library in Arca's Yard

I decided to leave earlier than everyone else on Sunday because I wasn't feeling all that well. I think the difficulty of driving - there was a lot of roadwork being done while we were there - and parking stressed me out a lot. (Travel tip: if you decide to drive to Baguio, you might want to just leave your car at the place you are staying and take taxis while you are there. Parking is extremely difficult.) Add to this the fact that it was cold and rainy and you have the perfect recipe for getting sick. After checking out of our Airbnb place (which I recommend), my friends and I had lunch in Good Taste before I bade them farewell and headed home. As such, I actually really only spent one day in Baguio. Despite this, and despite the fact that I actually got a bit sick, it was still a pretty awesome trip to a place I hadn't been to in years.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fan performs Everglow with Coldplay

This is amazing. During the Coldplay concert in Munich, Chris Martin of Coldplay spotted someone in the audience with a sign that said "Can I play Everglow with you?" The amazing thing was that Chris invited that guy to go on stage with him. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for that fan to not only perform with Coldplay but to do so in front of a massive crowd.

video uploaded in youtube by News Coldplay

The fan's name is Ferdinand Schwartz, a German jazz/pop pianist, arranger and composer. You can check out some of his work on his Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/ferdi.schwartz.music/?hl=en.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

July hodgepodge

I finally got my first ever Star Wars LEGO sets! I knew I wanted the Millennium Falcon but I also initially wanted an Imperial Shuttle, an X-Wing Fighter, or a Tie Fighter (okay, technically I also wanted the Death Star and a Star Destroyer but those were way beyond my budget). Since I knew I didn't have a lot of space at home to display completed LEGO sets, I decided to stick with the Millennium Falcon only. That is, until I saw a video of the LEGO AT-ST. Since this item isn't as big as the other Star Wars ships, I can surely slot it in somewhere at home. As such, I ended up getting it along with the Millennium Falcon. I haven't had time to build either yet since I am sure that will take time. I can't wait to put them together though. I will post about it once I do.

My new Star Wars LEGO sets

July marks the first time in 2017 that I got to watch two movies in the same month. The first one was Despicable Me 3. I actually enjoyed it more than the 2nd one but the first is still the best one for me. I like the new characters - Balthazar Bratt and Dru - in this third Despicable Me movie and I love how Gru's recently acquired hero/anti-villain mindset is challenged. It's not your most sophisticated animated film but the story moves along quite nicely and it's a lot of fun to watch.


I also got to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. While this is the third incarnation of Spider-Man in the last 15 years (the first version that featured Tobey Maguire came out in 2002), I was still thoroughly entertained. Peter Parker as a character was written quite well in my opinion because the conflicts and challenges he was facing were very high school in nature (e.g. fitting in, making a difference), which make sense given that Peter is supposed to be in his teens. I liked the twists and turns in the film but I have to say that I am not such a big fan of the fact that his suit and his web-shooters were created by Tony Stark. (That is more logical though since a high school kid, even a super genius, would most likely not have the resources nor the equipment to build a Spider-man suit or high-tech web-shooters. Still, I like the idea of Peter Parker having made those himself.)


No month would be complete for me without gaming. In fact, I played games with my friends on two consecutive nights and then again the weekend after. I played some games I had played before, such as Viticulture, Scythe, and Karuba, but I also played several new games. These include: 6 nimmt!, Dice Crawl, Jamaica, and Secret Hitler. Secret Hitler is kind of like Resistance, Avalon, and Ultimate Werewolf in that the liberals have to figure out who the Secret Hitler is while the fascists need to get Hitler elected as Chancellor. I somehow ended up as the Secret Hitler but a key mistake of the liberals early in the game allowed me to get elected Chancellor in the end so the fascists and I won. Aside from Secret Hitler, I also won a few other games: Karuba (twice) and my first ever Jamaica game. I had been losing a lot over the last several months so it was nice to be on the winning end again.

My friends and I also got to play two role-playing games, or RPGs. Both of them were pretty interesting and not too long to play. Odin's Eye is set in space and the players get to build the story based on a premise that is selected at the start of the game. It was a bit hard to play at first since you weren't sure how to make the story progress but once we got the hang of it, it became fast-paced and intense. The other game, Murder Hobos, is a lot lighter despite its name and it focuses on the interactions of the players with each other, depending on which character they play. The key difference of this game from the other RPGs I've played is that you get to play a different character in each round. While the story we built in Murder Hobos wasn't as well-constructed as the one we built for Odin's Eye, it was a lot of fun with many moments of utter hilarity.

A couple of other things. I bought slim jeans for the first time in my life. I was surprised that Old Navy had slim jeans that fit me but their Slim Built-in-Flex Jeans apparently have spandex and this allows the fabric to stretch. I ended up buying 2 pairs of jeans partly because I needed new ones but also because they were on sale. I also went on another trip in the Philippines, this time to Baguio with my friends. I will write about that trip separately.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wimbledon

This post is more than a week late because I got pretty sick last week and wasn't able to write. Nevertheless, I figured it was such an eventful Wimbledon - as usual - that I decided to still write about it.

Roger Federer continues to add to his already legendary status with an 8th Wimbledon title, which also marks his 19th Grand Slam singles title. That is just absolutely staggering in its magnitude. I actually didn't get to see the final because my illness resulted in me being asleep most of Sunday night so I just saw the result the next morning. I feel bad for Marin Cilic though, who lost to Federer in the final, because he couldn't fight as much as he wanted due to an injury. Roger would still most likely have won but it would have been nice to have too have Cilic battle it out in top shape. 2017 now seems like 2007 all over again, with Roger winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon and Rafa Nadal winning the French Open. While Andy Murray is still the world #1, both Rafa and Roger have won more points this year than anyone else. How many more major titles can Roger win? With how things are going this year, I wouldn't be surprised if he wins his 20th Grand Slam singles title in September at the US Open.

On the women's side, Garbine Muguruza won her 2nd Grand Slam title by beating Venus Williams in the final. Interestingly enough, it was almost 2007 all over again on the women's side as well because Venus Williams won Wimbledon a decade ago. She made her scintillating run to the finals and was 1 point away from taking a one-set lead over Garbine, with two breakpoints - set points - at 5-4 in the 1st set. What happened after that was quite unexpected, and a good omen for fans of the Spaniard. Muguruza not only saved those two set points to even things up at 5-all in the first set, she didn't lose another game for the rest of the match. She won the last 3 games of that first set and bageled Venus in the 2nd set - a string of 9 straight games - to claim her first Wimbledon title. Amazing! I was sad at how Garbine was treated by the crowd at the French Open, where she failed to defend her title, so this definitely makes up for that loss. Hopefully she can maintain this level of play or stay close to it. I would love to see her win more Grand Slam singles titles.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Petron Blaze Spikers win PSL All-Filipino Conference

Congratulations to the Petron Blaze Spikers for winning the 2017 Philippine Superliga All Filipino title! They very narrowly defeated F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in what may possibly the tighest volleyball match I've ever witnessed, live or televised: 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 25-23, 15-11 in almost 3 hours of play. Since Petron also beat F2 in Game 1, they sweep the best-of-three finals and take home the championship.


It is quite amazing that this Game 2 of the finals turned out the way it did because I watched it live at the Filoil Flying V Centre. This was the first time I have ever watched a pro volleyball game live. The awarding ceremony was also held after the match, making my experience even more complete. I think play started at around 6:45pm and finished at almost 9:30pm. The first three sets went beyond the 25-point mark and in fact all those sets featured come-from-behind wins since the team that got to 24 first actually lost the set: F2 was up 24-22 in the first set before Petron won 4 points in a row, Petron was up 24-20 in the second set before F2 won 6 points in a row, and Petron was also up 24-23 in the third set before F2 rallied to win it. The fourth set was very tight yet again and while it didn't go beyond 25 points, it ended up with a scoreline of 25-23. So all four sets were won by the smallest of margins (2 points). It was only the fifth set that was every so slightly less competitive, with Petron winning it with a margin of 4 points. Incredible! My friend and I were saying that this game was definitely worthy of a final, with neither team wanting to give up and both teams very evenly matched. I am so glad that this was my first live game experience. :)


The awarding ceremony wasn't shown on TV but since I was there, I got to see it. I was incredibly happy that finally, Mika Reyes gets an individual award. She was honored as the 2nd best middle blocker. She joined to other DLSU (current or former) players with awards: Majoy Baron as 1st best middle blocker and Ara Galang and 2nd best outside spiker. I am also happy that Aiza Maizo-Pontillas seems to have turned back the clock and found her lethal collegiate form as she was awarded league MVP. Here is the full list of individual awardees:

  • MVP - Aiza Maizo-Pontillas (Petron)
  • 1st best outside spiker - EJ Laure (Foton)
  • 2nd best outside spiker - Ara Galang (F2 Logistics)
  • 1st best middle blocker - Majoy Baron (F2 Logistics)
  • 2nd best middle blocker - Mika Reyes (Petron)
  • Best opposite spiker - Jaja Santiago (Foton)
  • Best setter - Rhea Dimaculangan (Petron)
  • Best libero - Jheck Dionela (Cignal)


I am also happy to see the success that Mika Reyes continues to have: from the DLSU championship last year to the PSL All-Filipino Championship last year to being appointed PSL Ambassador to being part of the Magnificent 7 that played against the world's best in the FIVB World Club Championships to being awarded Miss Volleyball 2016 to making the 14-woman roster of the national team that will compete in the SEA Games and even being named team captain. And now this PSL All Filipino championship and her first ever individual award. That's pretty amazing. In fact, it's quite interesting to note that with this championship, Mika actually wins back-to-back All Filipino crowns at the PSL. Awesome!


I actually came to the game as a fence-sitter since F2 and Petron were my two favorite teams in the PSL and I would have been happy with either team being champion. My friend did tell me though that it would probably be better for me if Petron won that night so that I could witness the awarding ceremony (which is exactly what happened). Needless to say, my first live game experience couldn't have gone much better than that. Congratulations again to Petron and hats off to F2 Logistics!