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!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Congratulations, Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra!

This amazing news made me incredibly happy. The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra won 2nd place at the the Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival, String Orchestra Competition Category in Vienna, Austria. Congratulations!

I had written before about unexpectedly catching the free Glorietta concert of the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO). It was there that I learned that they would be competing in Austria in July and that they had a proper (paid) concert in Ayala Museum on June 29. I was so amazed at the talent of these young artists that I decided to get a ticket to that concert so that I could watch them perform again.

Their Ayala Museum concert, aptly named The Road to Vienna, featured the actual repertoire that the MSJO would play at the Summa Cum Laude Festival (along with several other pieces to fill the two hour show):
  • Divertimento in D major, KV 136, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok
  • Ondoy-ondoy by Ryan Cayabyab
  • Serenade for Strings (Finale: Tema Russo) by Pyotr Ilytch Tchaikovsky

Ondoy-ondoy was composed by Ryan Cayabyab and if I understood correctly, he made a special arrangement for the MSJO since one of the requirements in the competition was one piece of a composer from the ensemble's home country. Jeffrey Solares, the conductor, told us that it would be the first time the orchestra would be performing Ondoy-ondoy in front of an audience so it was such a privilege to have been there.

Seeing the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra twice in a month made me very emotionally invested in their participation in the Summa Cum Laude Festival. Of course, even if they didn't win, it would still have been an incredible, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, experience and the fact that they were selected to perform in this festival was a world-class honor in itself. As such, their second place finish is a truly magnificent and special result. I now really want to see the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra in their next concert in Manila. I am sure that show will be magical.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Lakawon and the Tawhai Floating Bar

The main reason I chose Bacolod as my vacation site was because of my interest to visit Lakawon. Or specifically, the Tawhai Floating Bar in Lakawon Island Resorts and Spa. When my friend mentioned it to me and said he could take me there, I searched for images online and it looked like the perfect place to relax and chill. Now that I have been there, I can definitely say it was!

We left Bacolod in the late morning and we arrived in Lakawon at around noon. At the port, you need to pay the P250 entrance fee to the floating bar and another P260 for the two-way boat ride. The boat will then take you to Lakawon island.

It was actually raining when we arrived. I had seen the one-week weather report so I knew that it was likely to rain on the day we visited, but rain was expected the entire week so that day was just as good as any. While bright sunshine was much preferred, I figured it would still be a great experience to just lie about at the floating bar, whether or not it was raining. Thankfully, the rain lasted less than an hour. That gave us enough time to have lunch at the resort (the food was pretty good and quite affordable). By the time we were done eating, the skies were clear again.

We spent a couple of hours on Tawhai floating bar. There are cushions laid out on the front outer edge where guests can just lie down and look out into the sea. If you don't want to lie down while here, there are other seating options, such as bar stools and bean bags. You can also swim around the floating bar (life vests are provided). It wasn't until late afternoon that I had this desire to go swimming but by then we needed to make our way back to Bacolod so I missed that opportunity.

It was a very pleasant and blissful afternoon in a beautiful setting. Given the fact that I enjoyed my day trip to Lakawon immensely and that I missed out on going swimming while I was there, I have a feeling that I will be visiting Lakawon again at some point in the future.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Revisiting Bacolod

I wanted to take a vacation somewhere in the Philippines where I could relax and unwind for a few days but I wanted a place that had a lot of good dining options. I was initially thinking of Tagaytay so that I could just drive there. However, a friend of mine who lives in Bacolod said that I should go there instead and that when I do, he could take me to the Tawhai Floating Bar in Lakawon. I took a quick look at the images of the Tawhai Floating Bar online and that made my decision for me. I was going to Bacolod! (I will be writing about my trip to Lakawon in a separate blog post.)

The Ruins

I stayed at the Circle Inn which was a short taxi ride (or a long walk) away from Lacson Street. I used the Grab app a lot here since it made it very easy to get taxis. (It was my first time to use Grab and I used it quite extensively while in Bacolod.) I went to a lot of the same restaurants I visited in my first trip to Bacolod a couple of years ago. I had batchoy again in 21 (I realized I prefer batchoy without liver), ribs in Byron's, chicken inasal in Aida's Chicken, a few different desserts in Calea, and a few different desserts in Felicia's. I also went to a few new places. I had pasta and cake in Cafe Bob's, which is also where I spent a cozy rainy afternoon reading a book while enjoying coffee. I also wanted to try cansi or kansi, which is like bulalo but with a sour soup, adding a different dimension to the flavor. Sharyn's Cansi House is pretty popular online but it closes relatively early so I had dinner at Eron's Cansi House instead. I also got to have drinks with my friend Bacchus in Brewery in Paseo Verde before we headed to Cocina in The District North Point to meet up with our other friend Dex. My friend Ryan also took me to Portico for drinks on my last night there.

An interesting painting on the wall of Portico

I also decided that I wanted to see the Ruins again. Some call this place the Taj Mahal of Negros because the mansion was built by Don Mariano Lacson as a tribute to his wife Maria Braga. The ideal time to visit this place is in the late afternoon right before sunset and it is recommended to stay there until the sun goes down to see the Ruins lit up but I already did this the last time. As such, I decided I wanted to see it under bright sunlight this time around. It's interesting to note that on my first trip here, the Ruins had no roof but this time around, it does. Looks like they are doing some kind of restoration

Revisiting the Ruins

No trip to Bacolod is complete without bringing pasalubong back to Manila. On my last day, I passed by Bongbong's to get some napoleones and piaya. I also got a box of ensaymada from Felicia's. And when my friend Myna found out that I was in Bacolod, she suggested that I get pili squares from Emma Lacson. Apparently, you have to visit their ancestral house in Silay to buy these goodies so after my trip to the Ruins, I passed by Silay to get a couple of boxes of these pili squares. When I finally got to taste them once I arrived in Manila, I could understand why my friend was recommending them to me. They are pretty good.

Emma Lacson's Pili Squares
120 Rizal Street, Silay City, Negros Occidental (right across BPI Silay)
(034) 495 5047

A couple more things:
  • A taxi ride from the airport to the city center (and vice versa) is about P400. When you book a taxi via Grab, it will indicate that the fare is only about P150 to 250 I think but taxi drivers will ask for P400. I think this is pretty standard since the drivers of both taxis I booked via Grab (to and from the airport) asked for a P400 fare.
  • A taxi ride to the Ruins is about P250. The meter will read about P120-150 but the drivers normally ask for P250 because they generally can't get passengers on their way back to the city from the Ruins.
Room rates at the Circle Inn are about 1300 per night. I also got a relatively inexpensive flight from PAL. I think it cost me around P5000+. All in all, I spent less than P11,000 for 4 nights in Bacolod for airfare and accommodations. Not bad. This trip was both relaxing and invigorating. I am pretty sure I will be going to Bacolod again at some point in the future.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June Hodgepodge

June proved to be another full and productive month for me. First, I got to meet up with several sets of friends. I had dinner and drinks with my college friends at Wine Story in Serendra. For food, they only serve cheese and cold cuts there but they are partnered with other restaurants in the area like Chelsea, Mamou, and Abe so we all actually ordered dinner from those places. We ended up going through a few bottles of wine, all of which were very good. It was an expensive evening but it's not that often that we get together for wine. As if that wasn't enough, I also had another expensive evening with some ex-colleagues at Tomatito. None of us had eaten there before so we didn't realize until we got there that the menu items were pretty pricey. Thankfully, the food was good. The favorite that night was the Salmon TNT, bite-sized smoked salmon with honey and truffle. Our waiter highly recommended this and it really was delicious. For my main meal, I ordered Churrasco de Buey, slow-cooked boneless short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes, potato chips and demi-glace sauce. The serving size was on the small side considering the price (P925) but it was also very good.

Churrasco de Buey from Tomatito

For the first time in I don't know how long, I entertained a few friends in my pad. One of my friends installed The Jackbox Party Pack 3 from Steam on my laptop. This is an interesting compilation of games that require participants to use their mobile devices as their controls. Despite the use of phones, the game is highly interactive and, depending on the group you are in, wildly entertaining. I personally enjoyed Trivia Murder Party the most even if I didn't win any of the rounds we played. Tee K.O. was interesting because you come up with drawings and slogans and you have to mix-and-match the random drawings and slogans you get from the others. The cool thing was that all the t-shirt designs that were in contention for the win had either my drawing or my slogan on it (or both). Of course, the winner is the one who put the drawing and the slogan together so I actually didn't win but the winner had one of my slogans. :) Fakin' It was probably the toughest and most stressful game to play because it was very hard to fake an answer not knowing what the question was LOL. As challenging as I found this game, I somehow ended winning one round and I accumulated the most points in all rounds so I won it overall. Cool.

My winning moment in Fakin' It from The Jackbox Party Pack 3

I also had a few tabletop and board game nights in June. My friend Mich celebrated her birthday in Linden Suites. I got to try Eldritch Horror for the first time and this cooperative game can take several hours to complete. Unfortunately for me, our game master (who also owned the game) had to leave at a certain time so we weren't able to finish. A couple of weeks later, I played tabletop games again with Mich, Myna and Archie at Ludo Cafe. I finally got to try Scythe which I had been very interested in because of all the good reviews it had been getting. I have to say, it lived up to the hype and I really enjoyed it! I ordered it online and it is on its way to Manila from the US so I am looking forward to getting my very own Scythe game and playing it with my friends.

Playing Scythe in Ludo Cafe

I also organized my own game night, also in Linden Suites. I invited a few different sets of friends who are all into gaming so I could play with all of them in the same night. I tried Histrio for the first time (it took a while for me to figure out how the strategy works in this game but once I did, I actually quite enjoyed it). I also finally got to play my own Dungeon Petz game (the first time I played it, we used the game of my friends). I've played this twice now and I haven't won yet but I still really love it and want to keep on playing it.

Dungeon Petz

I also got a few things sorted out this month. I bought my very own HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3775 All-in-one Printer a couple of months ago but it was only this month that I finally set it up. It took a few hours for me to get it working though; the installation and set-up instructions weren't that straightforward and since it is a wireless printer, I had to connect it to my home wifi for it to work and that wasn't as simple as I expected. Nevertheless, I managed to get it to work and I've been able to print a few things using it already. I also finally upgraded our internet at home. We had one of the slowest internet speeds so I decided to bump it up a few notches. We are now on 16 mbps and my nephews have told me that the improvement has been quite significant. Cool! And finally, I got to have my shoes professionally cleaned. I had a couple of pairs that somehow ended being muddied and I couldn't really clean them that well. I stumbled upon ColorWash one day and I decided to try this place. The cleaning service is quite expensive actually - P700 per pair - but at least my shoes look a lot better now.

Not sure if you can see how much cleaner my shoes are now but they really are

One more highlight in June: I went Bacolod for a few days for vacation. I will, however, be posting about that very fun and relaxing trip separately.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Inspiring Mandy Harvey on America's Got Talent

This video was making its rounds on social media recently and for good reason. Mandy Harvey performed in America's Got Talent and blew the audience away not only for her talent but also for her spirit. Even if you didn't know she was deaf, you would already take notice of that voice. The fact that she has been creating and playing music for more than 10 years after losing her hearing at the age of 18 is inspirational. I was also moved by her reaction to the crowd's reaction (including that initial realization that the audience were loving her at about 3:19). Check it out.

video uploaded by America's Got Talent

She ended up getting being Simon's Golden Buzzer. Well deserved. And truly inspiring.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman has been getting a lot of very positive reviews and I was fully aware of this before I saw it in the movie theater. It's not always good to have high expectations of a film before you watch it since you may end up being disappointed when the it ends up not living up to the hype, but thankfully Wonder Woman actually delivered.

Spoiler Alert: stop reading now if you don't want to read any spoilers about the film.

Audiences first got a glimpse of Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman when she appeared in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. In it, there is an intriguing scene that involves a century-old photo taken during World War I with Diana in it.  This Wonder Woman film helps answer the question of who she is and why she was in that picture. A large chunk of the movie is devoted to the backstory of Diana who leaves Themyscira, the island of amazons where she lives, once she about the ongoing World War I. She believes that Ares caused this war and she seeks him out to put an end to the global conflict.

To be honest, it actually sort of feels a bit like Captain America, which is set in World War II and in which Captain America helps save lives. That said, Iron Man also has a bit of a war setting, albeit a much more current one. I guess that historical and actual war settings sort of make sense for superhero movies because sometimes the brutality gets so intense that sometimes those of us who feel helpless wish we had superhero powers so that we could do something about them. Wonder Woman tries to emphasize the importance of, and urgent need for, peace. This is just as relevant today as there continues to be divisiveness, terrorism, and violence all over the world. That No Man's Land scene where Wonder Woman reveals herself as a superhero for the first time is emotional, inspiring, and triumphant. What I also love about the movie is how she slowly realizes her power as the story moves forward. This film made me understand why she had no qualms doing battle with the terrifying and tremendously intimidating Doomsday in Batman V Superman and why she said she had killed creatures from other worlds before.

Wonder Woman has gained tremendous respect from critics and audiences alike for its social significance. It's the first successful and well-received superhero film that features a female as the lead. Yes, we've had Catwoman, Elektra and even the 1984 Supergirl headlined by Helen Slater but those films came at a time when we weren't inundated with superhero movies (I figure we have had at least one a year over the last decade or so). Also, all of them have terribly low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (and Metacritic for the first two). Wonder Woman has very good storytelling and character development. I've only seen three movies at the cinema this year but this is my favorite of the ones I've seen and I have to say it is up there when it comes to superhero movies. I highly recommend this film and I will surely get the DVD when it comes out.

Monday, June 12, 2017

La Decima! Nadal wins French Open title #10!

La Decima. Champ10n. Perfect 10. As many have said, it's near-impossible to describe with words just how significant this achievement is but Rafael Nadal just did the unimaginable by winning the French Open for the 10th time. Vamos Rafa!

This achievement is staggering on so many levels. No other player in the Open Era has won a major tournament 10 times. The only other player - male or female - to win a major tournament more times in history is Margaret Court who won the Australian Open 11 times, but 7 of those were won when tennis was open only to amateur players and not to professionals. As if that wasn't enough,  if we go beyond the majors, no other male player has won the same event 10 times. Nadal has now achieved this feat in three different tournaments: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and now the French Open.

A few more amazing figures:
  • This is Nadal's 15th Grand Slam singles title, moving him past Pete Sampras who has 14. The only male player with more majors is Roger Federer who has 18.
  • Nadal has an incredible 79-2 win-loss record in Roland Garros.
  • He lost a measly 35 games in all 7 matches he played, the second least number of games lost in a major event. (Bjorn Borg holds that record when he dropped only 32 games when he won in 1978.) He didn't lost more than four games in any set he played. That is just utter dominance.
  • This is the third time that Rafa Nadal won a Grand Slam tournament without dropping a set. He also achieved this feat in 2008 and 2010.
  • Rafa has now won a Grand Slam title in his teens, his 20s, and his 30s (he turned 31 during the first week of Roland Garros.). Talk about longevity.
  • He now moves up to #2 in the ATP Rankings.
  • He also  adds on to the lead he has in the ATP Singles Race, amassing more points in 2017 than any other player so far. If he maintains his level of play, he may just return to the top of the Tennis world before the year ends.

Click here for more impressive French Open stats.

Nadal's fantastic results over the previous months made me very hopeful that he would take home another French Open title and the way he played the first six rounds made me even more optimistic. However, Stan Wawrinka has become a giant-killer in majors in recent years and his 3-0 record in Grand Slam finals had me very worried. Thankfully, it was Nadal's own undefeated streak in French Open finals that proved to be stronger as he finally dealt Wawrinka his first loss in a Grand Slam championship match. Nadal has now won all French Open finals he's contested.


The awarding ceremony was made more special by the fact that his coach, Uncle Toni Nadal, joined the trophy presentation and brought Rafa a replica of the Roland Garros trophy that the Nadals will get to bring home with them. Uncle Toni will be stepping down as Rafa's coach at the end of the year to focus on his family and on coaching at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca so it was heartwarming to see the French Open honor the most successful coach in this event too before he moves on to other things.

Rafa has long established himself as the king of clay and it is just such a privilege to witness him add to his legacy by continuing to achieve unparalleled records in his already legendary career. Congratulations, Rafa!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra in Glorietta

I was doing some errands in Glorietta when I heard live orchestra music being played in the Palm Drive activity center. There were rows of chairs set up in front of a small stage and I realized that the music was being played by children who seemed to be rehearsing. It was then that I noticed a sign that said that they were the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra and that they would be playing a live concert later that evening. Since I had some time to spare, I decided to watch the show.

Aptly subtitled The Road to Vienna: A Musical Journey with Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra, the show was most likely meant to serve as a venue for them to practice performing live in front of an audience and to help generate awareness of, and even funds for, their participation in the upcoming Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria.

Their conductor Jeffrey Solares told us that whenever they perform in malls, they are often asked to have a more popular and current set so this show was an exception since their repertoire that evening consisted mostly of classical music, including pieces from Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bartok, and Vivaldi. They also played some Filipino folk songs and they closed the show with a beautiful string orchestra arrangement of Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N' Roses. Mr. Solares seemed genuinely pleased that the audience was still full at the end of their show. When he asked us if we wanted more, we naturally said yes, so the kids played Beauty and the Beast as their encore. It was a beautiful and uplifting show and I'm really happy I got to watch it.

I learned that the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra was formed about three years ago. Most of the members are 14 to 17 years old, but the youngest member is only 9. Wow! The conductor Mr. Solares encouraged the audience to support the orchestra through prayers and donations and he also invited us to watch their concert at the Ayala Museum on June 29. Tickets are available at Ticketworld (look for The Rush Hour Concerts). I wish the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra the best of luck as they head to Europe in July. Whatever happens, it will be a tremendous experience that will only help all these kids get better at their craft and move them closer to their dreams.

Read more about the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra
Summa Cum Laude Festival entry:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mystery Manila: Rebel Resistance

Escape room experiences have been around the Metro for a while but it is only this last month that I got to experience it for the first time. My friends and I went to Mystery Manila at Ayala Malls The 30th in Ortigas to see if we can could succeed in finding our way out of the room. We initially booked the Mr. Moriarty room but on the day of our reservation, there was a problem with that room and we were instead offered the Star Wars-themed Rebel Resistance room. Given that I am a huge Star Wars fan, this change actually went in my favor.

To be honest, I was not expecting to get out LOL. (Talk about not having any self-belief hehe.) The thing is, only about half of the social media photos of my friends who have tried escape rooms show them getting out. I also know that sometimes, strong-willed people can end up clashing with each other. Thankfully, that didn't happen to me and my friends. It was a very collaborative effort, with all of us contributing positively to helping us move forward and find our way out. Despite almost everyone in our group doing this for the first time, we managed to successfully get out in about 40 minutes. Awesome!

This was a very good first escape room experience for me and I am a fan. There are three other rooms in Mystery Manila at The 30th: Mr. Moriarty, the Harry Potter-themed Sorcerer's Stone, and Morbid Morgue. There are also three other branches of Mystery Manila: at Century City Mall, along Jupiter, and along E. Rodriguez Ave. in Quezon City. I am definitely going to Mystery Manila again.

Mystery Manila

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Aircon Woes

Oh man. Another major unexpected expense. It started when I had my air conditioner cleaned. A few hours after the cleaning, my aircon started to make this very loud whirring noise, almost like the fan was hitting something. Shortly after that, my aircon suddenly stopped working. I asked the aircon service company to take a look again the next morning and when they did, they said there was a problem with the compressor. I was in disbelief. My compressor was just replaced about 6 months ago and compressors are supposed to have a lifespan of at least 5 years. The problem for me now was that I had a different aircon service provider install the new compressor. So now, the service provider that cleaned the aircon was saying that fault was with the one that installed the compressor since they must have installed a faulty one but that service provider was saying that the one who cleaned my aircon was at fault. If I had more time and energy (and even money to hire a lawyer), I would probably take one (or both) of these service providers to court but I don't. I decided that replacing the compressor again would be too expensive and risky since the aircon might stop working again after a few months so I instead decided to buy a new aircon.

The challenge now was that the area outside my pad where the condenser (or the half of the split-type aircon that sits outside your house) was a bit too low and not many condensers could fit. I was talking to two aircon contractors and the first one said they could provide a customized aircon that would fit but it would cost about three times a normal split-type aircon. Thankfully, the other contractor was able to find one unit whose condenser would fit. I decided to go with that. The problem then became the indoor unit. The new one was only about 2/3 the length of the original one. This meant that once it was installed, holes in the wall that were needed by the older and longer aircon were now visible. Ugh.

When the contractor said that the new aircon would fit, I thought they meant it would fit both outside and inside. Apparently, they just meant outside. The holes on the wall were pretty big and glaring. Clearly, I needed to have this fixed ASAP.

I called the the engineering department of my building and they said that they could fix the problem and they could even match the paint as closely as possible the paint I currently have. The repair was done in phases. Phase 1 was the application of putty to cover the holes. Thankfully, the handyman actually made my wall look pretty good (even without the paint).

Phase 2 - repainting - came a few days later and thankfully the new paint closely matched the color of the rest of my wall (it's a bit different but  because light strikes the different parts of my pad differently, all walls and sections of the room tend to appear having slightly different shades of yellow anyway).

I am happy that my pad now has a new (albeit expensive) aircon. I hope this one lasts just as long as, if not longer than, my previous aircon. One thing's for sure though: I will be hiring a new aircon service provider to do regular aircon maintenance.

Monday, May 29, 2017

May Hodgepodge

I'm quite happy that I got to spend time in this last month catching up with many friends I don't get to see often. My friend Pia moved back to the Philippines and we met up for coffee and wine in Single Origin. I joined her and a couple of our other friends Joh and Alvin about a week or so later for lunch at Cibo in SM Aura. I also got to visit Ayala Malls The 30th in Ortigas for the first time to meet up with my friends Tim, Aldwin, and Mark. (Interestingly enough, I got to visit this mall a second time several days later, but I will write about that later). I had dinner at Gringo with my ex-colleagues Auds and Marco. Also, for the first time since maybe 2003, I got to meet up with my friend Daday more than once in the same year. We met back in January and we met again this May for dinner at Spatzle in Shangri-La Mall. We ordered bacon-wrapped mozzarella sticks for our appetizer and I ordered Rosti Complet, a potato pancake topped with bacon, mushrooms, and egg and served with truffle sauce. Talk about your bacon overload (although, as many of my friends said, there is no such thing as bacon overload LOL).

Rosti Complet at Spatzle in Shangri-La Mall

For me, no month would be complete without tabletop games and interestingly enough, all the games I played in May were those I had never played before. On my first game night, I played Dungeon Petz which I think is my new favorite game. I also got to play Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, a cooperative game (thankfully, we won both rounds we played). The last game I played that night was The Lord of the Ice Garden. This one has very interesting game mechanics but it was pretty tough to come up with a winning strategy. On my second game night of the month, I got to play a few rounds of Santorini before capping off the relatively short evening with Ticket to Ride: Asia. For the first time in a long time, I actually won a game! What was sweeter about that Ticket to Ride: Asia win was that I won by one point. I have lost by one or two points so many times in the past so I was really happy to finally be on the winning side of a game that was that close.

Ticket to Ride: Asia (my red token beat the blue token by only one point!)

I also started to slowly get my place in order. The pop-up drain in my sink was damaged a while back and it was only a few days ago that I got a plumber to finally fix it. I also purchased my very own personal printer so I can print stuff at home. In my many attempts to look for the old-school peanut bulb to replace the busted one in my current light fixture at home, I realized that they aren't that easily available anymore. In fact, they have been out of stock for maybe a year now. I am starting to get the feeling that this old-school peanut bulb I need might be in the process of being phased out. As such, I started window-shopping for a new light fixture since the bulbs my current one uses might never be available again. Finally, my aircon broke down less than a year after the compressor broke so I decided to just have it replaced (more on this in my next post.) It was sauna-like in my pad so instead of spending time at home, I would normally hang out in cafes and restaurants all over the metro until I absolutely had to go home. One of these places I hung out in was Maitre Chocolatier along Jupiter which I had visited before and was interested to try again. I ordered their Frey Milk Chocobloc Marbled Crepe which I thought was really good.

Frey Milk Chocobloc Marbled Crepe at Maitre Chocolatier along Jupiter Street in Makati

I also got to watch a few more DVDs, the first of which was Mad Max: Fury Road. This movie was nominated for Best Picture at The Oscars and it won a lot of technical awards so my expectations were quite high. I have to say though that I was a bit let-down, mainly because I felt it didn't live up to the hype. It wasn't bad, but once it ended, I was thinking "that was it?" There didn't seem to be much of a story although I will say that they created a very interesting post-apocalyptic world and the action in the movie was intense and pulsating. The performances were all pretty solid too. I also watched Porco Rosso, a highly rated animated film by legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. I purchased this DVD a really long time ago on Amazon but I had somehow been unable to watch it until very recently. Strangely enough, despite the critical acclaim this film has received, I found it a bit boring. The only other film of Miyazaki's I had seen is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind which I really love (and which like a lot more than Porco Rosso). Another DVD I saw was Sing, the animated film that had animals going up against each other in a singing competition. I actually really liked this movie even if it wasn't nominated for best animated film. (Personally, I like it more than Moana.) I have to say that the voice cast could all sing very, very well even if singing is not their stock-in-trade.

Oh, and I also purchased a new book: Slade House by David Mitchell. It was a blurb at the back of the book that got me hooked: "A Dracula for the new millennium, a 'Hansel and Gretel' for grownups, a reminder of how much fun fiction can be." Cool and interesting, right? Hopefully, I can find enough time to read this book in the near future.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

My second trip to the cinema this year was to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with my nephew and my mom. I enjoyed the first movie and there was a lot of positive hype about this second one. So what did I think about it?

For sure, it was good fun, but I don't think it was as good as the first. I think this sequel understood what elements of the first had the biggest impact with audiences and it focused on those elements a lot. To me, though, I felt that it went a bit overboard. Yes, Baby Groot was cute. But there was too much attention on the cuteness of Baby Groot that I found a bit distracting (I guess it wasn't my thing). :) There was also quite a bit of emphasis on family here, including the father-son relationship between Star-Lord and his real dad (and with Yondu) and the sisterhood of Gamora and Nebula. Personally, I felt it was a bit too touchy-feely for a fantasy-action superhero flick. I also noticed some some inconsistencies. First, Ego easily wiped out an entire fleet of space ships with his power but towards the end of the film, this power seems to have dissipated as he was unable to destroy his opponents with the same ease. Second, Drax the Destroyer is supposed to be very literal, meaning he is unable to speak figuratively or metaphorically. However, this seems to have disappeared in Volume 2. It could be that he has adapted due to his constant interactions with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy but it wasn't really explained in the movie.

That said, I liked how we got to see a different side of both Yondu and Nebula in this film. There was still a lot of humor-injected conversation, a trademark in almost every recent Marvel superhero movie. I also liked the new character, Mantis. The multiple end-credits scenes were also quite entertaining (I think there were maybe 5 of them? Make sure you stay until the very end). Then of course there is the set-up for future films in the Marvel Universe. All in all, while it is not my favorite Marvel superhero film, it is still entertaining and it helps move the entire Marvel movie saga forward in an interesting direction.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nadal wins again!

Rafa Nadal continues to build onto an already massive career as he wins the Madrid Masters. In a rematch of the Barcelona final, Rafa Nadal overcame a fierce challenge from Dominic Thiem in two tight sets, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4. This title gives Rafa hit 30th ATP Masters title, putting him in a tie with Novak Djokovic for most Masters 1000 titles to date. It also allows Rafa to move up the rankings to #4, supplanting Roger Federer. He is now also the current leader in the ATP Singles Race as he has amassed more points in 2017 so far than anyone else.

I have to say thought that I am a little bit worried that Nadal may have peaked a bit too early. There is still the Rome Masters before Roland Garros and he might run out of steam by the time we get to the second Grand Slam event of the year. However, there are many positive things going for him. First, he survived a set point against Thiem in the first set tie-break, showing that he still has the will and the mental fortitude to fight for each point. Second, he finally snapped a 3-year, 7-match losing streak to Djokovic, whom he beat in straight sets in the semifinals. Third, he has won all his claycourt matches this year so far. These should all help give Rafa much-needed confidence and the battle-readiness to help him win the French Open. I'm still trying not to hope too much since I don't want to be disappointed, but with how things have been going in the last few months, there are decent odds for Rafa to win another major title. Good luck, Rafa!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

DLSU Lady Spikers are Back-to-Back UAAP Volleyball Champs

Congratulations to the De La Salle University Lady Spikers for winning the UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball Tournament. The DSLU Lady Spikers are now back-to-back champions, adding to the championship they won last year. This marked the 6th consecutive year that DLSU faced off against the Ateneo Lady Eagles in the finals. It also marked the 10th championship that DLSU has won with Ramil De Jesus as coach.

This year's road to the finals and to the championship was not easy. DLSU lost to Ateneo twice during the elimination rounds. With these two university rivals battling it out in the finals, it seemed Ateneo had the mental edge because La Salle wasn't able to figure out how to beat them during the early part of the season. And after the first set and a half of their opening finals match last May 2, it seemed like Ateneo were on their way to reclaiming the title they won in Seasons 76 and 77. However, DLSU captain Kim Fajardo took matters into her own hands and helped her team gain the confidence they were missing to overcome the Lady Eagles in a very, very fiercely contested second set. It didn't help Ateneo that the officials made two bad calls towards the end of that competitive second set. Once the third set started, the Lady Spikers had gained the rhythm and confidence they needed and they found their range, allowing them to take the next two sets and the win.

The second finals game was even tighter, Ateneo and La Salle split the first two sets and it all boiled down to a fifth set. La Salle took a commanding early lead and were up 10-4 before Ateneo fought back hard to get back to 10-8. In the end, La Salle managed to steady and compose themselves. They won 5 of the next 7 points to win the trophy and give captain Kim Fajardo the best possible send-off, since she was playing in her final playing year.

To add to this incredible result, three DLSU players received four individual awards for the season and if you include the finals MVP award, that makes four. Majoy Baron was awarded season MVP, Kim Fajardo got two awards - Best Setter and Best Server - and Dawn Macandili won Best Receiver. The finals MVP was awarded to Desiree Cheng. NU's Jaja Santiago, took home 3 awards: Best Scorer, Best Spiker, and Best Blocker (if NU just did a bit better, like maybe make it to the semis, Jaja could have taken home the MVP Award as well). Kat Arado from UE won Best Digger and Ateneo's Jules Samonte bagged Rookie of the Year.

The sad news is that a few hours after the finals, Jia Morado announced that she will no longer be playing next year. As per UAAP rules, she could still play for one more year even if she graduated already but she opted to forego her fifth playing year. She was a very close second best setter of the season and a very close second best server of the season and she also ends up with the runner-up trophy. With Kim Fajardo not playing anymore next season, I was almost certain that Jia would be a lock for best setter in UAAP Season 80 but alas, it will not happen anymore. Good luck, Jia!

With both Kim Fajardo and Jia Morado, two of the best setters we've ever seen in UAAP, not returning next year, it will be very interesting to see what will happen. The other teams might just nudge one or both of this year's finalists out of the top 2 next year. But that's also what people said would happen this year since both La Salle and Ateneo lost a lot of volleyball stars at the end of last season - Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, Carol Cerveza, Mika Esperanza, Alyssa Valdez, Amy Ahomiro, and Mae Tajima - and yet they proved their naysayers wrong. Both universities have very strong recruitment and training programs so I am looking forward to seeing what will happen next year.

Congratulations, DLSU Lady Spikers and congratulations, Coach Ramil!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Nadal wins Barcelona #10

Just a week after establishing another set of records with his 10th title in Monte Carlo, Rafa Nadal continues to pile on the results to strengthen the claim that he is the King of Clay. He beat Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1 to win his 10th Barcelona title. Wow!

Apparently, winning one event ten times wasn't enough so he had to achieve the same record in another event. This is his 71st title and his 51st on clay. To put that in perspective, Nadal has won more titles on clay than tennis great Boris Becker has won on all surfaces in his career. Amazing! Even if you take out all of Nadal's 51 clay titles, Nadal has 20 titles on other surfaces - including 5 Grand Slam wins at the US and Australian Opens and in Wimbledon - and such a career would still have been enough for him to be a tennis legend.

These wins in Barcelona and Monte Carlo are especially significant because many people have written Nadal off. To be fair to them, Nadal's style of play is so gritty and physically demanding that it was easy to believe that his body wouldn't be able to keep up his high level of play much longer, and his results over the last couple of years seemed to prove this. Thankfully for Rafa fans (and tennis fans in general, I believe), he apparently still has a lot of miles left in him as he continues to achieve incredible records and results.

I don't want to hope too much at this point but it's hard not to think that Nadal could make it a third title #10 at the French Open, where he has already won 9 championships. I will be hoping that Rafa achieves grand success in Paris in about a month's time.


Don't look now but Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal are currently #1 and #2 at the ATP Singles Race this year, meaning they have won played better and won more points than anyone else in 2017. Clearly, two of the best players of all time are still

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Nanay's 90th birthday

What a momentous occasion this was. My grandmother Nanay turned 90 and our family gathered together to celebrate this incredible milestone. I helped my tita organize and we agreed that we would keep the celebration simple since Nanay herself didn't want something too grand. We chose Relish in Tomas Morato as our party venue. I had taken Nanay to Relish before so I suggested a few menu items that I know she enjoyed so we could include them in our buffet spread. Despite having the party on a Friday night, a lot of our relatives were able to join us.

We didn't really have a program planned but a few days before the event, my mom asked me to put together a video that we could show during the party. My brother gathered some old pictures from Nanay's photo albums and I of course had a ton of pictures with Nanay, a lot of them during local and even international trips that we had taken with her. I am not handy at all when it comes to making and editing videos and I just used Windows Media Maker to showcase the photos we have. My mom also told me to use the kundiman song "Minamahal Kita" as background music since this was the love song that Nanay and Tatay used to sing to each other when Tatay was still alive. Despite my very amateurish effort and the grainy quality of the pics, the video was very well-received, mainly because we had some really obscure photos that included relatives and friends in their younger years. Everyone actually asked me to play the video again so they could take another look at the pictures. I ended up projecting the raw photos on screen after the second video screening so people could actually look at and identify each person in each picture.

I did have one big miss. I ordered a cake from Earnest Bakes but I very stupidly confirmed the wrong delivery date. Such a bad error on my part!!! Thankfully, one of my aunts and my cousin were staying with Nanay that weekend so my mom and I brought the cake along with some food to Nanay's house so that we could have a second (albeit impromptu) celebration to make the cake presentation a bit more special. We naturally took lots of pictures. I have to say, Earnest Bakes put together a truly amazing and beautiful work-of-art. I also love that the fondant figure actually resembles Nanay!

Cake by Earnest Bake

What I am very happy about and thankful for is that Nanay is still quite healthy and mentally sharp. She remembers, and is often the best person to ask about, people's birthdays and anniversaries. She still has a lot of landline numbers memorized. When I visit her during the weekend, she will normally remind me about certain things that need to be done or tell me to remind my mom about some important matters. From a physical standpoint, she can also still walk without a cane. Nanay is my only grandparent who is still alive and I am thankful that we are still able to have many wonderful moments with her.

Happy 90th birthday, Nanay!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy International Tabletop Day

I didn't know there was such a thing as International Tabletop Day until one of my gaming friends told me about it. That made me understand why there were some tabletop game-related activities over several days leading to April 29 (and no, I'm not counting the game night in Ascott that I organized). First, Amazon had a one-day board game sale on April 24. I decided not to purchase anything from there since I was more focused on another sale that week: the Annapolis branch of Gaming Library would have its Summertime Warehouse Sale on April 26 and 27 and I decided I wanted to check that out.

This sale started at 10 AM and while I had wanted to be there when it started, I woke up late and got there at 11:30 AM. By the time I arrived, the place was packed and a lot of games, especially the popular ones, were gone. I had a list of games I wanted to get but only three of them were on the shelves when I got there. The way that the sale worked was that if you get any two items, you get 10% off. Get any three items for 20% off, any four for 30% off, and any five or more items for 40%. At that point, I had only three items in my pile so I had the brilliant idea to message my boardgaming friends to ask if any of them wanted me to get anything for them while I was there. Very quickly, my concern that I wouldn't be able to get five items to get me 40% discount was gone. In the end, I went home with a total of 14 games. Wow! Note that only five of those fourteen games were for me. :) It also occurred to me immediately after my shopping spree that 14 games are very, very heavy LOL. I got my exercise for that day as I carried all those games to my car that was parked quite some distance away. :)

My Gaming Library haul during their Summertime Warehouse Sale

My games include three planned purchases - Dungeon Petz, Tem-Purr-A, and Blueprints - and two unplanned ones. The first unplanned purchase was an extra copy of Tem-Purr-A which I decided to get since it was quite cheap and I thought I could use it as a gift for someone later in the year. The other unplanned game I got was Food Chain Magnate. I got "sales-talked" into it by three different customers. The first was someone who was getting a copy himself who explained to me how good this game was, the second was someone who saw me looking at that game and said that I should get it, and the third one was someone who saw my reserved stack and mentioned that Food Chain Magnate was really good.

While I was there, one of the gaming lib folks mentioned that they were having an All Aboard 2.0 event on April 29 and 30 at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall. This event was free and open to everyone. I had a few friends who were planning to go a board game place that same Saturday so I suggested that we go to All Aboard instead. As such, my friends and I played board games in the All Aboard event on International Tabletop Day. Cool!

We ended up playing Machi Koro, Lords of Waterdeep, and three rounds of Splendor before calling it a day. We also passed by the Gaming Library store in Alter Ego on the fifth floor to buy sleeves for the Sushi Go! Party I got for her during the warehouse sale.

It's amazing how deep I have gotten into tabletop gaming. It's a bit of an expensive hobby but it is a good one to have because it requires you to think all the time, helping you sharpen your I have also made so many new and amazing friends and gaming has strengthened my friendship with people who were already good friends to begin with since I now have a lot more shared experiences with them.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Funny Game Show Answers

I discovered this video a while back and it never fails to bring a lot of laughs. While it has a fair bit of misogynistic and politically incorrect answers, most of the others are absolutely hilarious.

video uploaded by theSeanGshow

Many people think that a lot of the contestants giving these answers are dumb but it's not purely a question of intelligence in cases when there is time pressure to come up with an answer. (In many cases, when the contestants answer, they immediately realize they have given an incorrect response and they themselves just laugh at the mistake.) Add the fact that the stakes are high (i.e. prize money) and that the shows are televised, often with a studio audience, and you can be sure of unexpected and crazy answers all the time. :)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quality time with family and friends

Tito Mario celebrated his 70th birthday this month. It was a simple yet beautiful celebration. His son and my cousin, Fr. John, celebrating mass as their house. Dinner was served after the mass, courtesy of Pink Chefs Catering, which apparently also caters a few ABS-CBN shows like GGV and Showtime. Cool! Karaoke-time followed, with my cousins asking me to sing a lot of songs. I ended up having a bit of a mini-concert LOL since I kept getting requests to sing more. As it was my uncle's birthday, I of course obliged. We wrapped up the karaoke session shortly before 10pm of course, and by then most people had left so I decided to call it a night as well. I'm really happy that I was able to join this milestone celebration of my uncle.

That wasn't the only milestone celebration I attended. My late grandfather's brother, Uncle Albert (yes, we call him Uncle even if he is two generations ahead), celebrated his 80th birthday in Shangri-La Makati. The cool thing is that the birthday of his wife, Auntie Isabel, is just a few days away from his so they had joint party with Auntie Isabel also celebrating her 79th birthday. Amazing!

One more amazing family reunion this month happened on Maundy Thursday. My uncle Jojit called both my grandmother and my mom very early that day to say that he had just arrived in Manila and wanted to have dinner that night. He was staying at Manila Pavilion so he asked if people were free to meet him at the hotel at 6pm so we could all have dinner together. Normally, my family doesn't go out on Maundy Thursday but since this was the only free date that my uncle had, we had to make an exception. A lot of places were closed due to Holy Week but thankfully, the original Aristocrat along Roxas Boulvard was open so we decided to have dinner there.

Aristocrat Roxas Boulevard on Maundy Thursday

I was absolutely stunned at the volume of people having dinner there that night. I think that due to the number of guests, Arisocrat used function rooms that would normally be reserved for weddings and events as regular dining areas for the guests that evening.

The Fountain at Rajah Sulayman Park right next to Aristocrat

I also got to spend some quality time with friends. Anna was in town for a few days so I met up with her and Chari for dinner. Since Chari lives in the far South, we agreed to meet in Rockwell. We had dinner in Wooden Spoon before moving to Dean and Deluca for coffee. I wanted to have dessert but I overate in Wooden Spoon. I did however try something different. Instead of my usual brewed coffee or Americano, I opted for a Macadamia Nut Latte. It was expensive but pretty good! I wouldn't mind having it again.

Finally, I had dinner with my friends Kathy and John. I hadn't seen them both since they got married more than five years ago. I had been meaning to visit them in Alabang but somehow it never worked out so when they moved back to Makati, I made sure to make time to meet up with them. This meet-up was also especially important for me since Kathy had just come through a very challenging medical situation and I'm tremendously happy and thankful to see her in good physical condition. Kathy prepared a sumptuous dinner, the star of which was a roast chicken served with potatoes and squash with walnuts. Just thinking about that dinner now is making my mouth water. It was also important for us to meet when we did because shortly after that, John left the country to work in Europe.

There was one more milestone event last month, but I will write about it separately.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Phone

This was several months in the making but I finally got a new phone. My old phone was not in very good condition anymore after I dropped many times, a couple of them quite badly. I did some research early last year to help me figure out what phone to get and I decided I wanted the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It's an expensive phone but since I was due for recontracting with Globe, I could get an S7 Edge at a huge discount. I had been calling Globe regularly since August or September of last year to check if the S7 Edge was available for recontracting but for many months, it wasn't. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I called and they said it was finally available. My guess is that it is because the Samsung S8 is about to be released so they can let go of older S7 Edge stocks since less people will want them given that something newer is going to be available.

I am now using data on my phone on a regular basis. I also finally decided to install apps. For the last few years, my old smartphone was used only as an old-school mobile phone i.e. phone calls and texts. Many people had been wondering why I don't have any apps, and it was mainly because of privacy and security concerns. (Yes, I know, this is such a strange concern for me to have given that I write about my life on a regular basis on this blog LOL but at least here, I get to pick what information to share instead of giving apps free access to whatever information is on my phone.) For instance, a lot of apps pick up where you are located and can thus predict where you live and where your work. Many also require that you share the information of all your contacts and grant them access to all your pictures. As such, I wanted to steer clear of app usage before. What changed my mind is the realization that everyone else is using apps and their information has already been shared (and most likely, mine as well). I figured nothing is really, truly private anymore so I might as well get the benefits of being able to use apps.

In the short time I've had my new phone, I have downloaded and used a handful of apps already. Probably the most useful to me so far has been Waze, which allowed me to drive to some unfamiliar places in Manila and San Juan. I have also ordered from Foodpanda a few times (I love that you can pay for your order with a credit card while submitting your order, removing the need for a cash payment upon delivery). I now need to start researching what other apps will help make my life significantly easier.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nadal wins Monte Carlo #10!

What an incredible achievement this is! Rafael Nadal already held the record for most titles won at a single event with 9 titles each in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and at the French Open and he just one-upped that with his 10th victory in Monte Carlo. He beat his compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final, 6-1 6-3. Congratulations Rafa!

Apart from being the only man in the Open Era to win the same tournament ten times, Rafa is now also the solo record-holder for the most claycourt titles, with 50. He moves past Guillermo Vilas, who previously held this record with 49 titles.

This is Nadal's 70th title, and he is now only four championship trophies away from the legendary Rod Laver, who has 74. He now also has 29 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, putting him just 1 behind current record-holder Novak Djokovic. I hope that Rafa gains confidence with this win and continues his good year throughout the claycourt season.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Game Night in Ascott

I have a few different sets of friends who enjoy playing tabletop and board games, many of whom I hadn't played with in a long time. As such, I decided to book a room in Ascott Makati and host a game night there. Ascott is quite expensive but I hadn't been there in ages so I thought game night was a good excuse to spend a night here. I also love its location which is in Glorietta, making it easy to park and easy to eat and buy stuff if and when needed. (I also loved the fact that Ascott has CBTL

I brought several games with me, including all the games I own: 7 Wonders, Settlers of Catan, Race for the Galaxy, Ticket to Ride, and my newly acquired Istanbul and Kodama. I also borrowed a few games: Lords of Waterdeep, Forbidden Desert, and Sushi Go! Party. (I actually also ordered a Sushi Go! Party from Amazon but it hadn't arrived yet when we had our game night). A few of the people I invited that night also have their own games and they brought a few with them.

A total of 8 friends joined us that night: Denise, Zaza, Kat, Melody, Jez, Pao, Doms and Yuan although Doms and Yuan were there just for the company and not for the gaming. The rest of us went through a lot of games that were played over several hours: Potion Explosion (twice), Kodama, Istanbul, Sushi Go! Part (twice), Battle Sheep (twice), and Tsuro (I didn't realize that there were two Tsuros; I had played Tsuro of the Seas before and while this Tsuro works on the same game mechanics, there is no dragon. :)) Everyone that night got to play at least one game for the first time. I am also getting pretty handy at explaining more and more games now. I think our game of the night was Potion Explosion which my friend Kat brought with her. It is quite easy to play and even to teach and after playing it only once, I was able to explain it to my other friends who joined later that night and who weren't able to play it earlier. I am now planning to get a copy of that game for myself since my friends enjoyed it a lot.