Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eat a 10-Course Meal This Holiday Season

I never considered that there are restaurants who will open their restaurants and make your Noche Buena for you. I guess I always thought of Noche Buena as a homemade treat. This years' Noche Buena for me was more about the gathering of people and eating together as a family no matter where you are, even if you come from different families ( Thank you for welcoming my sisters and I with open arms (you know who you are). Since more than half of our family was away this Christmas, the rest of us decided to eat a 7 to 10-Course Meal for Christmas as a way of spoiling ourselves until we drop with our holiday bellies. 

I did not expect that Aubergine will be full of holiday diners when Manila seems like a ghost-town every Christmas day when you go out of the house (well, it's one of those days when cars are scarce in the streets). Since it's almost New Year, I am looking forward to another round of holiday treats (there's post-Christmas, last-minute reunions, Media Noche, New Year, post-New Year).

Yikes! Toll Rates Increase, NLEX SLEX and SCTEX

NLEX Sample Toll Rate Increase in 2011

Balintawak to Pampanga 
Class 1 (cars, jeepneys, vans) - P174 to P195
Class 2 (buses) - P435 to P486
Class 3 (cargo trucks, trailers) - P522 to P583

There's more and it will make you go "Wow". Transportation to provinces in Luzon and Visayas will probably spike (I love airplanes...). Delivery expenses will balloon. Prices for goods coming from provinces like vegetables will probably go up, too. By the way, what is the advantage of increasing toll rates? Better take advantage of the 2010 Toll Holidays. Here's the list (

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Limited Edition BPI Globe Tattoo Stick

BPI is one of my favorite banks in Manila. Globe is my preferred telecommunications provider in Manila. Both teamed up and just made the impossible possible. Let me tell you my story and my issue with the current Globe Tattoo stick I have. I am a travel blogger, always on the move and attached to the online world. I don't want to enable the internet on my mobile phone lest I accidentally or it automatically selects the wrong billable connection. I usually bring my laptop with me so I need that Globe Tattoo stick and it works well once it has been loaded. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things I Just Learned About MMFF!

I came across the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Gabi ng Parangal on TV and learned a few things I never knew (or paid attention to) about the Festival before. I didn't finish the whole episode and incidentally watched the best of the rest - Ang Tanging Ina - a day after Christmas. 

Image Taken from the MMDA website

Here's what happened. Somehow, it left a number of questions unanswered.

Caught on Camera!

My Real Me-Time Moments with Dove Chocolates! 

Manila's Bellagio Lugang Cafe

It was a few days before Christmas and I was to attend my last Christmas party of sorts with friends. We decided to try out the newest restaurant in Greenhills that everybody was raving about. Turns out I tried this in Beijing a long time ago already (2006), only I know it as the infamous Bellagio and not by its Chinese name Lugang. These were some of the pictures of 鹿港小镇(原满星楼)a.k.a. Beijing Bellagio.

Bellagio is a go-to place in Beijing, known for its towering bean desserts.

Check out my latest Beijing Experience in this link -

Connecticut Greenhills Lugang Cafe - The menu was extensive and we ended up ordering a lot of good stuff for 10 people.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Me-Time Moments With My New Lumix and Dove Chocolates

You probably won't see me or my Lumix here but you will see my subjects, a lot of moments and what my new Lumix can do. Behind those moments is actually my moment with my camera and my desire to capture my friends' and family's first moments with Dove Chocolates and to improve my photography skills. Of course, some of them ate the Dove Chocolates so quickly so I have an excuse as to why the pictures turned out that way. I got my Dove Chocolates and Lumix at the same time so these were some of my first shots.

I used to see Dove Chocolates in supermarkets abroad. Now, this world-renowned silky smooth chocolate is available in Manila.

Noche Buena in XinTianDi

I spent the first installment of the Christmas holidays differently this year starting with the Noche Buena. I don't think I have eaten this much for 2 consecutive days in my entire life. My Christmas Eve was spent with a very late dinner at a hotel restaurant. By 10 p.m., I was so hungry and was ready to eat anything. I sampled everything that was in front of me with gusto... We ate the night away until Christmas. 2 hours passed by so fast.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pho Love

Did you go to Rockwell and watched Rent live? It was such a fun musical. Here's my story that night:

Prior to the movie, I sampled a bowl of Pho Beef Noodles at Pho24 located a few floors below the cinema.

Looking for Cooked Japanese Food

I am still on the road to finding that Japanese Restaurant. I must say finding one is hard since I don't eat raw food. I am sure there's more to Japanese food than this. 

Any Japanese food suggestions?

A BIG BIG Toy Store

Do you know who this pink cutie is??? I found this in the newest store of SM Megamall.

12 A.M. Craving Satisfied!

Having that craving at 12 a.m. but can't decide where to go? We went to a place I swore I'd never try and I was more than 100% satisfied. This place is open until the wee hours of the morning. It can actually be a date place for those who just love to eat.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lots of NomNomNom, None For Me

I can recommend something I've tried in NomNomNom, it was the best one for the night. Here's the thing: I think it's chicken or fish but I'm sure it was not my order.

Overheard About the Toll Holiday

Ready for the Christmas Holidays? Go to this link if you haven't heard of it yet:

Are you also up for a toll holiday this 2010 Christmas season? Those people living in the South or those going to Tagaytay or Laguna would be thrilled, that is, if they are in the area on these dates and times.

Quesadillas at Burritos & Tacos

I have been craving for quesadillas here in Manila ever since I got back from my Beijing trip last July. I could never forget the giant quesadilla in The Saddle Cantina that was well-kept in the Nali Patio ( I was still too shy to take pictures then. I would probably go back there anyway. Back to Manila: We just got back from our Subic trip with friends that day and decided that we want to see each other one more time before the holidays, immediately that is. We met at the quiet Burritos & Tacos restaurant where I got to sample another type of quesadillas in Manila (aside from Chili's). I insisted that we order the steak quesadilla although I am not so sure if Jeff ordered that one. I just wanted to taste Tex-Mex cuisine again. Bottom line: it looked like one. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Most Memorable Way to Spend Christmas in Manila

The most memorable way to spend Christmas is to eat like never before. We start by buying bibingkas and puto bumbongs sold during the Simbang Gabi, then we have the traditional Filipino Feast called Noche Buena on Christmas eve, followed by a reserved 10-course meal in a fine restaurant on Christmas day (in my case), then some left-overs for a day or 2. Finally, we end the year right with another feast on New Year's eve called Media Noche. All the pounds will have come off before next Christmas. It's fun to do with all the Christmas carols and decorations in the background. It's just one of the things that make the Philippines a nice place to visit during the Christmas season. It's one of the secrets as to why we love Christmas - eating. We complain after because we get heavier but we do it again and again.

Finally, it just gets exciting when all of the dates where there are feasts are declared as holidays in this country. You work and you get extra or you don't work and eat with your friends and family! 

Here's a list of the 2010 Christmas holidays: 

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Christmas Holidays in the Philippines!

Heads up, people! There are 2 ways to look at this. One is vacation time and you will have more time for family and friends. Tis' almost the time for opening of Christmas gifts and the time for jumping up and down for the New Year. That's double pay for regular holidays (200%) and 130% (for special non-working holidays) for those who are very hard-working!  The other one is forced spending for gifts for inaanaks and no income time coupled with pig-out sessions, shelling out for the extra 13th month pay and no earnings since your shop is closed for the holidays. In the Philippines, we call it Holiday Economics and spending becomes good. Now, what if we spend it elsewhere like abroad? There's a 50-50 chance for that.

Here's the list for holidays from December 24, 2010 to January 1, 2011.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Looking for Car Insurance Experts Online?

I don't have a car but others I know might. If you're reading this, you surely have some form of access to the Internet. This news just in: You can buy your car insurance online now in Manila (without talking to anyone if you're tired of hearing from insurance companies). This website can give you an instant quote based on your car model and their recommended insurance even on a holiday. You pay the market rates with your credit card instantly. Your car is insured! Just wait for the policy in your doorstep. 

Chocolatey Dairy Queen Christmas Treats

I would sometimes downplay my love for chocolate in the last couple of years because it was a known allergen. I just gave myself a break this December and enjoyed a cup of the Candy Cane Chill Blizzard among many other seasonal Dairy Queen treats (the Mint Mocha Moolatte and the Christmas Dilly Bar) that were in front of me last December 2. The Candy Cane Chill Blizzard is only available during this Christmas season and you might just never hear or taste it again. Imagine soft serve creamy vanilla Dairy Queen ice cream blended with candy cane pieces and thin slices of chocolate chunks.

My thoughts on the Candy Cane Chill Blizzard:

  • It feels Christmas-y with every scoop. 
  • It tastes better and better with each scoop and is quite addicting. 
  • Even if it becomes melted ice cream at around 30 minutes, I still felt like a kid fishing out and finding the endless chocolate chunks in my Blizzard.
  • I found myself going back again and again to this cup even if I was full with all the other Dairy Queen treats.
  • I say giving in to chocolate with a Dairy Queen Candy Cane Chill Blizzard was worth it.

A Smoke-Free Philippines?

While I was in college, I wondered if the pocket gardens they put up for smokers was just a fad. Thankfully, the pocket gardens helped me avoid cigarette smoke (which my body rejects as an allergen) while I was at school. It was then possible to just inhale some of the fresh air from the trees that covered the whole campus. At that time, smoking was also strictly prohibited inside enclosed spaces like malls and airports. I was thankful for that too from a non-smoker perspective. This way, it was easier to just drag a smoker friend in a non-smoking place and just enjoy the conversation without feeling sick of the smoke.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Food Writer's Top 22 Memories

I hope to have a wealth of meaningful experiences throughout my life. I am willing to try on other people's shoes and I might just have an experience of my own worth writing about even if it is the same experience. From an expert's point of view, everything seems so easy, memorable and magical. I long to be an expert in my own right and write about my foodie experiences from my own tastes, likes and dislikes.

MMDA's Christmas Gift to Private Vehicles

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) just opened special motorized lanes for private vehicles in the spirit of Christmas. The so-called "Christmas Lanes", soon to be "Mabuhay Lanes" after the holidays, will serve as alternate routes for the long stretch of traffic often encountered in EDSA. Future traffic update: Expect routes cleared of obstructions (even "potholes and road nuisances will be immediately repaired) and traffic enforcers who are ready to assist you along the Christmas Lanes. The purpose of these lanes is to divert the private vehicles to special comfortable lanes so that they don't use EDSA anymore, thereby reducing the number of vehicles and hopefully improving the traffic situation in this major boulevard. Sounds promising? I think so. At least private car owners get less headache from competing with public transportation. I am really optimistic that they can find ways in the future to get the jeeps and buses to listen and follow the rules. In the meantime, I hope people would not take this as a bad thing. It's probably normal to feel confused at first sight. I have long heard of people complaining about traffic in EDSA. Now, there are some people who are trying to resolve the issue and it's probably their first time to take on this challenge so it might help if we share our suggestions on how to improve the new system peacefully.

I tried to decipher the routes but I don't drive in EDSA very much. I hope these images can be useful to other people by reposting it here. I copied it word for word (because I might make a mistake if I paraphrase) from

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Manila MRT Strictly Orders You to Unwrap Your Christmas Gifts!

For those who do not think ahead before deciding to take the MRT and for those who have to take the MRT this Christmas season, consider yourself warned. Do not be surprised that your Christmas plans may suddenly disappear and you will lose that Christmas cheer. I tried to enter the MRT station on my way home and I brought with me a wrapped Christmas gift from a friend. I was stopped and I was given a blade to open my gift right then and there, watched by 2 guards. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

1st Christmas Party of Many - NomNom Foodie Club

I love the celebration of the Yuletide season in Manila. I have already heard my first Christmas song last September, my first Parol lights spectacle last October and my first Christmas decoration sighting last November. The month of December is all about the Christmas parties, the cool nights, the reunions, the food and the family vacations. Everything else becomes bearable because there is something good ahead.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What is This Bibincrepe?

This is the largest bibincrepe (pronounced bibingcrepe) ever made. It measures two meters and is really folded in half stuffed with different fillings. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

PMAP, Dingdong Dantes, SEAIR and the High Flyer Campaign

We were invited to a press conference for the PMAP High Flyers campaign. PMAP (People Management Association of the Philippines) together with Dingdong Dantes and SEAIR seeks to engage the youth to show how a student is the embodiment of initiative, communication skills and critical thinking. I believe this is a worthy cause. It is an honor to be able to guide students, while they are still in school, of the situation they will be facing once they leave their alma matter. There are others who want to enlighten young bright minds that the technical skills you learn in school and being booksmart are not enough when faced with companies who are looking for behavioral skills during a work interview. Don't you agree? I realized this from the moment I sat in that very first interview when I already graduated and I felt a tinge of regret that school was over and I could not do anything about the co-curricular activities portion of my resume. What I do realize now is that there are other organizations out there and other things you can do to help society. It is not as easy to get into though as student life. Plus, parents would still cringe at the idea of you doing extra-curricular activities. Newsflash: it might just help you and your kids to land that job or to succeed in their adult lives.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chili's Alcohol Ban

Elections can be good for a country in many other ways. Apart from the gun ban and bodyguard ban, establishments and citizens actually follow the alcohol ban a week before the election day. It was the night before the elections and we found ourselves in Chili's for an impromptu chitchat with our friend. Of course, Chili's is known among the youth mostly for its cocktails and free-flowing alcohol paired with its big servings of American-style food. Because of the alcohol ban, I came to appreciate new food and good conversation even without the help of the spirits.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Single Princesses and Blind Dates Drama 单身公主相亲记

Watch Single Princesses and Blind Dates Drama 单身公主相亲记 (My Literal Translation: Single Princess/es Blind Dating Diary) if you are into Chinonovelas. The length of the series is 30 episodes, about 20 hours total. The film's major locations are Shanghai and ChongMing Dao 崇明島. Single Princesses and Blind Dates is a Mainland production. It just hit the TV screens in the Mainland and I happened to catch it one day. Don't be surprised if they convert it to Filipino in the next few months. You'll also see what sand art is all about. I just finished my marathon today. Here are my two favorite characters: 

It would be overkill if these two ended up together in the series.

The Gravity of Blogging

Let's make it clear by illustrating that blogging is the center of my world. I have been living in this world for the past few months exploring it nonstop day and night. As with any adventure, some parts of myself have leaked out as soon as I filled myself with all these new experiences. I want to highlight this incredible pull taking me in deeper and encouraging me to transform and improve myself further. What sparked this muse? I believe the answer lies with the universe.

Facts on Philippine Barangay & SK Elections

Today, I learned that I am not qualified to vote for the SK elections since I am no longer 15 to 18. I originally thought the SK and Barangay Elections go hand-in-hand. Instead, I just learned that they just made the voting date the same for practical reasons. Why not hold it last May 2010 too? I only heard about the Sangguniang Kabataan after college when some elected candidate put it in his resume. Of course, I had not lived in the same house or neighborhood for more than 4 to 6 years in a row. For me, it was all school and house and workplace until I hit a hard, hard wall this year. This year, all the hype about automated elections and a more dynamic form of government persuaded me to vote in the May 2010 elections. Everything was easy because all the information was there from the voter registration to the precinct information to the election day process. I don't watch the news and read newspapers even then but I knew of the "Bilog Bilog" song long before the May elections. Now, I am not even sure if I qualify to vote for the Barangay Elections. I couldn't find anything in the internet to answer this simple qualifier question, "Does it mean that I can vote in the Barangay Elections if I was able to vote last May or is it a different registration?"

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Love Affair with Parisian Macaroons

I've been struggling with the thought of getting that Bizu card for months now and it's not because I can't afford it at P250. It's exactly because of that future drive to earn the P250 back past the break-even point by purchasing more of those very sinful Parisian macaroons that I absolutely refuse to get that card. I used to hate going to Bizu (I didn't find anything that I wanted to eat for the longest time) and I often wondered about the Bizu craze in the past few years. The original Parisian macaroons that my parents brought home from Europe did not taste that good too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Day for Myself and My Closest Buddies

The Electrolux Wash-a-Palooza event still pushed through with the rain. It was a good day to hang around Eastwood in a Saturday for a change. I was not dressed up for the amazing race but I still had fun watching and being the official photographer for the day. First, I finished all the pasta I could eat in Jack's Loft and chilled out by the lounge all afternoon while they were running around and getting lost. It wasn't hard to keep busy for roughly two hours because of the free WIFI, Jeff's ITouch and the cafe-like experience. The YoCard free postcards and magazines were also there to enrich my mind. The True Faith concert in the early evening was also part of the event and it was fun to realize that I actually grew up with some of their songs (knowing all the lyrics and all). The other bloggers were there to share the victory of Jeff's team. Dinner followed with a generous free serving of Fazoli (although I was never really accustomed to their food). 

Stuck in Fantasyland

I attended my first authentic Kiddie Party last Friday - AS IN! The clubhouse was reserved for this occasion and a party organizer was hired to do the works for a seventh birthday party - balloons, decorations, stage, tables, catering, program and a fairy emcee. The guest list could easily have been 200-250 people and the mix was around half-half adults and kiddies. I was oblivious to the program going on but I could hear the kids dancing, singing, performing and playing games on stage with their victimized mommys, daddys and yayas. Our side (the back portion) was filled with babies, relatives and friends of the celebrant's parents who engaged in their adult talk.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An Encounter With Guyabano

My dinner was paired with guyabano shake yesterday. The fruit was not alien to me and I have always thought that it was an okay fruit (not as bad as durian or papaya which would make me cringe at the thought of eating) although I don't recall eating it even once in my entire life. At my first sip, I couldn't help but think that I have tasted it before. It must have been one of those canned juices we used to have with the Melon Milk and Peach Drink. Before finishing half the glass of the shake, I also noticed that the contents were a bit chewy. It was a different experience drinking a juice with chewy "pulp" and it made me decide that I would rather drink guyabano juice than eat the fruit by itself. I was proud of myself for trying something unfamiliar and adding to my accomplishments for the day (I made improvised kimchi rice for lunch and sushi rolls in the afternoon). Come nighttime, I was craving for something to eat or drink while watching TV in my room and I surprisingly reached out for another round of the guyabano shake in the fridge (this time i filtered the juice a little). I also began googling about it (primarily to see what those chewy things looked like inside the fruit) and learned a thing or two about the guyabano.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Info on Philippine Barangay & SK Elections

I was watching Strictly Politics mindlessly on their discussion about the upcoming barangay and SK elections. Here are the things I learned. Originally, barangays were divided per 5000 residents (for city barangay) and 2000 residents (for municipal barangay) respectively according to the local code (any excess should form another barangay already). This being said, a city could only be called such in the past if it has 5000 residents. Now, the population per barangay determine how much budget they will get. Barangay elections are supposed to be non-partisan (no partylist) and are supposed to be conducted with the least possible expense (no campaigning). It used to be that nobody wants to be elected to this position. The final words of the guest politicians include one who hopes that the barangay can become a dynamic unit of government where people who practice good governance can offer their services to the people. They characterize the barangay as that which "brings the government to your doorstep". The delivery of the most number of basic services and leading your people to a better life makes a good barangay official.

It just made me think of these things.

Noodles, My Love

I am having these childhood memories again. This time, it's about noodles. I don't remember the first time I ate noodles like I don't remember almost everything about my life. I have every idea though of preserving my love for noodles for as long as I can. I always look forward to birthday celebrations especially those held in Gloria Maris for the infamous Chinese birthday noodles. They don't have them  as much nowadays due to the other noodle types, which was probably why I love them even more. I am also a fan of Korean noodles because I love a chewy treat. My craving for ramen, on the other hand, has never stopped since I was a kid. My head has been screaming for ramen lately with the opening of Ramen Bar. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Culinary Terrorism

Ever heard of deconstructed dining where you can eat unusual items like the menu? How about spending around $25,000 to dine and be strapped to your seat up in the sky? They even have bonus entertainment also held by a crane and you can have the pick of the view you want. How about eating authentic Grandma-cooked Italian food? Flintstone sizes of baby back ribs? I want to travel the world and see them for myself.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Found Kalihim!

I was surprised to find it in a bakeshop like Globake but I finally know its name - it's Kalihim! It's my favorite childhood treat and I used to ride a tricycle to that small bakery near our old house just to buy some. The one I found in Globake looked much more presentable but the filling was not quite the same. This had like an ube coconut taste unlike my favorite which had a more reddish color and more sugary filling. The filling is supposed to be a little harder too but the bread was just right and slightly sweet. I was so happy and reminisced about the old-style pan de sal, soft sugar doughnuts and the kababayan. The traditional Filipino small bakery (panaderia) is scarce and hard to find already, at least those that sells yummy Pinoy bread. The taste from commercialized ones like Pan de Manila do not quite capture that authentic taste anymore.

The Power of Music

I listened to the translation of the Angela Aki song Tegami yesterday. It's a song about a letter written to an older self and a reply by that same self telling her that all things will pass. I looked back on my 15-year-old self and my past experiences last night. Maybe I was too emotional back then to talk to myself but I definitely felt that I was alone and so misunderstood, as if my whole world was collapsing and I'd never get through it. The girls who heard the song for the first time were really crying. I guess when you're young, almost all the people around you wouldn't care if your world was falling apart and you feel lost.

I guess now I can only laugh at myself for taking things too seriously and hurting myself in the process. My childhood problems seem insignificant now but sometimes I miss the different and intense feelings of those times. There was definitely a time when I had the guts to fight for love and to just enjoy my life without a care in the world. I wonder if things have changed. I think I have grown weaker. I guess people just hurt you and pry on your life intentionally because they need the drama in their lives.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Heard About Josie Cruz Natori

Today I watched the Lifestyle Channel feature on Josie Cruz Natori, a Filipina designer who has made it in international fashion. From her passion for the arts and music to being proud of her roots to giving back through charity galas, her world must be full of life and purpose. They say that only Josie Natori can bring together the five CEOs of the top department store brands such as Sak's and Bloomingdale's. It's a little sad that I only heard about her today since most of her work is outside of the country. I think they are based in New York but based on the feature, her team is comprised of Filipino designers and workers to make her clothes as well.

What is good about the designs is that they are simple and mostly looks very Asian. Her lingerie would surely make me smile in secret. Her other pieces are designed to be worn outside the house as well as inside. Natori's forte is beadwork and embroidery (I would love to have one of those silky robes.). What I love most are the ready-to-wear pieces that will make you look simple and chic. Her collections are available only in Rustan's here in the Philippines. I must say that I wish someday I could splurge in style with her creations. I would remember that name in the meantime and I will be in the lookout for her three brands Josie, Cruz and Natori when I go shopping.

Monday, September 27, 2010

All Mixed Up

I had the most shocking experience. I wondered after how I was taught English and Filipino when I was young. The results were actually convincing and the lessons I have learned stuck long after that encounter. I put my hands down to Javier! Thank you. I guess I was still disoriented that my feet brought me to the Taiwan Film Festival in Shangrila again. This time around though it was so unplanned and as I said, not myself yet, so I went in half-heartedly at the exact play time. There were no lines outside this time and everybody was in already. A woman behind me suddenly asked if I collect stamps. She was offering and I obliged because it rekindled my youthful interest in them. Now I have to make time to find that stampbook since I had to add the ones I bought from this lady. The situation and timing seemed awkward but I doubt if she could make money for 20 pesos a set. She was 80 and these were her old collections she said. As for me, I jumped on the deal hoping that my hundred could take me places someday. With all these weird happenings I had, plus a movie that I couldn't make myself watch anymore, I went out the theater in the middle of the film feeling very tired and confused.

I came back to my senses at around dinnertime for that gastronomic adventure in CCA Restaurant in Eastwood. It wasn't meant to be for ramen so we tried out this hidden culinary school restaurant instead. Unlike Enderun, CCA has a more casual feel to it. We ordered the Slow-Cooked Beef with risotto (with free salad bar and soup buffet) and the Seafood Linguini with tomato sauce plus an extra favor to add cream. I ended up raiding the salad bar, tried the soups and lickin' my pasta bowl. The verdict: the food was reasonably priced for a full-course meal and we ended up like two very belly satisfied. We would definitely go back, me to try that corn soup they didn't refill and to try the other stuff in their menu. I was definitely happy about the food upgrade. I was dead tired when we got to Ronza's for a birthday bash. But I sampled the unlimited Nachos and Cheese before I went home early. It was a nice brief night of catching up with a few friends. 

Enderun and Culinary Restaurants

To be in Enderun seemed like a castle-like, majestic and fairy-tale experience, where you will eat good food paired with good service. The service had to be world-class with its international administrators and educational system. Or because the name sounds classy at the very least. I had these thoughts when I entered the restaurant of this college. I wish we had scorecards to rate the students to make it a different experience. I once heard of a restaurant also run by those offering a culinary education cooking up 50-peso full-course meals. If 50 pesos is the price for being a food lab guinea pig then I wouldn't miss that culinary adventure for the world. That was a gig they do on lunch during weekdays and closed on weekends because there were no classes. I think it's still available. I'll divulge the details to my friends and make the plans for the future food trip. Maybe after I've tried it on October...

Back to Enderun, the food took too long to arrive for me and I wish it wasn't because of the GC. But as long as the conversation kept on flowing, I guess it would be tolerable. The bread was yummy so I had two or three helpings before I stopped myself and continued waiting on the main meal. NomNom =) ordered the Pork Belly with rice. Jeff ordered Slow-Cooked Beef with french fries. I ordered Tagliatelle Pasta with parma ham and truffle cream sauce. The verdict: a little pricey and the food was so-so only for me. My pasta tasted like something I had before that I hated but this one was not too salty so I liked it. The beef didn't taste like beef. The pig with the pork belly was fat. The good thing about this place is that I think they change the menu often. The ambiance is magnifique, especially the events place that was all setup for the party that night. I would like to hold an event there someday - the place looked grand. It was very inviting and it could be intimate due to the size. Our timing was not perfect for the school tour but I was glad for it too. Maybe it's just the grand design and white walls that captivated me. I wouldn't go ahead with the tour if the insides would ruin my impression of the place.

"Healing" Spa and Berroni's Pizza

I swore I would never go to the spa again but the temptation was strong enough to carry me to Hotel H2O in Manila Ocean Park. The spa manager differentiated their spa with "healing properties". We were hooked with the scientific experiments and it was like we were in a lab and he was the scientist. There was the explanation about the positive ions forever present in our environment (which are unstable and mutate in the city) and his claim that a Japanese company has invented a way to balance it with materials that give out negative ions. It will increase blood flow for one and our fingers were subjected to a capillary microscope immediately. It turns out that my capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in my body, are pretty healthy (except for that one twisted capillary from the "lechon kawali"), they were visibly long and has a regular flow rate of blood, according to the microscopic evidence. When the material emitting negative ions was put in my arm near the finger, the flow rate within the capillaries magically increased. The excitement died down when the treatment started. Sadly, the material made that cute scarf cost a whopping three thousand plus pesos! The massage was normal and okay...until I was pressured to give a tip. I was also a little bothered when they were at a loss about what's next and made me wait out in the open. The hot bed was different but I was a little uncomfortable with the effects on my back shoulder henna mess. But it tickled my creativity and it was a different feeling to be in a sauna-like room lying down, at the same time alone in the dark with your thoughts. I ended the treatment after I couldn't breathe anymore. I was sweating like a pig in less than 30 minutes. The concept of the spa was nice but I couldn't get over the fact that the service was very poor and that no one was there to explain to me the connection between the "healing" intro speech and the spa treatment. Meanwhile, the little chat with the girls in the locker room calmed my nerves. It was like a spa party with friends that I never had. 

I was delighted when it was time to try out Berroni's, the pizza that I never had too. Berroni's is a quiet little place near the Valle Verde Country Club. It was named after the three sons of the Chinese owner, which surprisingly sounds very Italian to us. I ordered dinner myself without waiting for Jeff in my excitement. I ordered the Mushroom Soup, their Rockefeller Oysters, Lasagna and the Berroni's Pizza for us. The verdict was good - the ambiance is nice and it was a filling light dinner. The food though was perfect for a light afternoon snack or if you are just chilling out with your friends. The oysters were the bestsellers and the typical Berronian way to eat is with their hot sauce and some calamansi if you dare. The recipes come from an old restaurant in Metrowalk that closed down and it's a good thing that the staff still remained to revive the specials through Berroni's. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Rare Silence

Today, I watched a baby sleep for the first time. Unconcerned with all the noise around him, he slept so peacefully. I simply couldn't take my eyes off of him. I found myself content at staring, I didn't want to disturb his sleep. When he woke up, he was the center of attention. The others found him unusually quiet and unresponsive to all their provoking. When he turned his head to me, his fingers caught my hand and he stared at me amusingly. I hesitated to hold him in my arms for fear that I may do something wrong to this beautiful baby. But I wanted in my own way to make him smile. He was the perfect baby at the moment, I wish my future baby will be as quiet and used to people like him.

We were all gathered for the annual MoonCake Festival celebration of J's extended family. As what is tradition among the Chinese-Filipino families living in the country, we participated in a dice game with the exciting prizes at mind. The game was followed by a potluck and home-cooked dinner complete from salads to soup to pasta, chicken, beef, seafood and dessert. The air was filled with laughing and story-telling as groups form at separate dining tables. Children were also running around and playing with their young cousins. I don't have a big family and our celebrations are limited to my immediate family, an uncle, an aunt and my two cousins. Until now, I am still not used to being in big crowds and spending the day with a lot of people. When things slow down though, I wish I could be that baby who is left alone in peace. But the success rate would definitely be increased if I were as oblivious as him to the uncontrollable things happening around me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Freebies and Contests Galore

I tagged along to a Tang launching event in SM Mall of Asia for the unveiling of the coolest Tang Pick & Go Baon Pack. The hall was filled with kiddies and parents all lined up for the activities such as the pachingko and the face painting booths. While waiting, there was enough time to take a picture with the big IMAX modules for the Think Big Photo Contest. We saw the Eden booth promoting the Sarap ng Pasko a few steps away. This used to be an Eden Cheese Cafe a few months back but now, they are just using it for online registration site via IPad for the campaign. Jeff and I also decided to try out the Delifrance Tongue Twister Promo and ended up going to Netopia just to print that coupon for the Chicken Bourbon Sampler (around 1/3 of the original). "How much bourbon can a chicken drink if a chicken can drink bourbon?" is stuck in my head after reciting it for the cashier three times. The sampler was good and filling for a snack and it left me thinking that I have tasted something like it before, probably along the lines of Chicken BBQ. Back at the Tang event launching, I ran into a friend who was part of an ad agency handling the event. Here I learned from Jeff that several ad agencies can work together, but with separate jobs, at the same campaign. We watched the program until the end when they announced the winner for their contest. The new Tang sachet 3-in-1 drink is a great concept with its different flavors. The good thing about this is that kids can bring it to school and make the drink they like themselves. I don't know about others but this instant drink can teach kids a thing or two about lifting a finger and make their juice.

Dinner was a buffet GC for two claimed at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Galleria. Jeff and I had a great time in 7 Suites and we both agreed that the selection was just right. It is not as abundant as Spiral in Sofitel but it won't lose to Circles or the Hyatt buffets with added points for its location in the heart of Ortigas  which was nearer to us. The selection was complete with a salad bar, bread and cheese corner, cold seafood, Japanese sushi and sashimi, Indian food, Chinese noodles, pasta, pizza and meat section, a generous slab of rib eye and a hidden helping of lechon. There was also a desert corner with fruits, gelato, sherbet, cakes and chocolate fondue. I loved the tomato cream pasta and lemon-butter lobster that I asked for as a favor outside of the selection. The place was not jam-packed too, the service is good and parking is free. It is a quiet place to have a good conversation with your date. 

Expenses for the Day: 
Netopia computer time and printing - Php 12
Delifrance extra order of peach croissant - below Php 100

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Henna Mess

I spent the week recovering from the flu and a severe allergic reaction to the henna tattoos I got in Boracay. In one week, my fun and unique tattoos at the back of my hand and my upper back turned from black to itchy red and it felt like a horror movie. From the moment I had them, I had been reluctant and careful to wash them (the more visible one at the back of my hand especially) with soap for fear that the memories from the trip and the excitement I experienced will simply fade away like that. And because I look at it every day so happily, I had noticed the tiny red bumps that started forming that Wednesday afternoon right away. At first I thought it might be a symptom of dengue for I had the flu already going on since Monday and I was in a very bad shape. Surprisingly though, the red bumps appeared only in the outlines of my henna tattoos. I went online and found out that this type of allergy from henna tattoos was common, especially from small shops and in my case, sidewalk offers in third-world beach destinations. I was horrified to find out that it could scar forever. I helped myself to a tablet of Celestamine I kept for emergencies and rushed to the E.R. that night just to be sure. The doctor confirmed that it was contact dermatitis and prescribed anti-histamines for 5 days. I wondered how long the tattoos will stay there. Before I had the allergic reaction, I had wanted to wash off any red ballpoint pen residue used for my back to draw the tattoo so I washed it with a deep action cleanser I use for my face, soap and hot water all the time. I also accidentally scratched the one at my back on the first day so washing it all off did not matter anymore since the design was ruined anyway. After the E.R. incident, I tried to wash and rinse the area where the all the tattoos are (including the black of my hand) but I could see that little specs of black ink are still there at close range. Together with the red bumps.

The torture went on for that 5 days until now. It is also so dangerously itchy and I found myself time and time again, even after distractions, continuously scratching the red bumps. The bumps fully outline the design of my tattoos now especially at my upper back and they look like burn marks at my back. Tying my hands together did not help either. Distracting yourself is the key - doing other stuff, asking yourself if you want to have scars forever and taking cold baths. I am guessing those hot baths and rinsing did helped my skin in some way absorb the chemicals from the henna tattoos faster by opening up the pores more. I wish my body would recover from the stress I had put it through and for the physical scars to heal in time too. The experience will stay with me though as a very good learning to treat your body well and to remember that when you want to have fun in the long run. And it is the experiences that matter not the tokens that will only dig a hole in your pocket. The tattoo artists, as I would say, were only trying to make a living and they are very good at what they do. According to some, these people do not get penalized and had never been prosecuted because by the time the allergy appears (around 1 week), the tourists are already home or at some other place. Maybe they don't know themselves. I have wondered all this time why they, exposed to the henna as seen in the stains of their palms and hands, probably did not have the same experience as I had. It would not be wise to earn a living so openly about a substance you know would cause great harm or pain to other people, and in this case tourists who sustain their everyday living, and even pose so happily in the picture with me. Maybe my skin is just sensitive from my other allergies and glorious city living. Better not risk it too much next time and just spread the word to be careful when having fun.

Update: I recovered from this. I actually forgot when but as of 2013, no marks/scars whatsoever left.

Bad ER Rating

If there's anything I'm proud of health-wise, it would be that I have never been rushed to or confined in a hospital. The first of the two major E.R. visits I had, however, occurred because I was such in a dramatic and emotionally imbalanced state in Tagaytay so I "hyper-ventillated", which was a major happening for me because I thought I was going to be paralyzed forever. The trick was a brown bag and I would be okay. The learning I got was that too much oxygen/inhaling too fast would numb your hands and feet first, then your whole body. And if it happens, do not panic or you'll breathe more in. Stabilize your heart and control/slow down your breathing even if you suddenly can't speak and your mind is racing. The second visit just happened last week and it is "contact dermatitis". The learnings are not to get henna tattoos until you've researched well and my main focus in this post, how the E.R. people at CSMC treated a paying outpatient like me.

First, a person asks what is wrong with me and takes my temperature, blood pressure and heart rate and asks me to fill out a form. Next he asks me to wait at a corner and to just sign a waiver that says something like they will not be responsible if I go to them and I am mentally incapable or something (I did not read it through that much anymore because he was waiting). A young doctor passes by, chats with me (it went something like tattoo girl or something and laughed when I asked if it was dengue) and examines me there in the waiting area with another doctor saying you have to wait again. I waited while I see doctors/people in different colors of scrubs walked around, joked around, doors of nurse areas opened, doors of nurse rooms closed, doctors talked to the parents of a patient and I could hear them and maintenance people carry trash around. No other patients like me go in or out but there are others who just came and goes right in ahead of me. The young doctor who entertained me first takes a look at my rashes and throat and asks me questions at the waiting area again after 30 minutes. After a while, she ushers another senior doctor out to examine me there at the waiting area and the senior doctor has a recommendation. The person who took my temperature took it again for my discharge papers. After another long time, the young doctor shortly and happily briefs me on taking medicine like taking it after a meal and going back if it doesn't work. It was time to go pay the bill after that almost 2-hour long "public check-up". I was given my discharge papers and I found that they were supposed to do a final blood pressure and heart rate too but the figures there were all made up. There was no final check-up, except for the temperature because I had to pay for the ear cup. After that, I went to the drug store only to find out that they prescribed me with a medicine that I gave me severe stomachaches before. When I went home and read the label, it mentioned that a person should not be taking it when under a certain weight and I was at the border! They did not even bother to ask me relevant questions such as height and weight. Furthermore, I took the medicine after a meal immediately as the doctor instructed and there was that painful stomachache. I followed the label that said 2 hours after, stayed away from dairy and I got better without the stomachache. I wish this was an isolated case. I have decided that I don't want to be sick to the point that they will treat me in this hospital.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hoppin' and Munchin'

It’s past 3 a.m. and I’m still awake from the happenings that begun around the late afternoon until 2:30 a.m. I left the house at 5:30 p.m. to catch my 7:30 p.m. seminar briefing in Makati. This was the first time I was going to ride the MRT by myself. To do this, I had to give myself time to walk all the way to the station, squeeze in through the MRT crowd during rush hour, make my way to the Ayala station to go to the greater Makati area and find that particular conference center near Greenbelt. I guess I asked the wrong people because it felt like it took forever (around 45 minutes) to reach my destination, more like I circled the whole 5 malls. Good thing I was wearing my reliable travel shoes for the ride. This first time was not so bad but I am planning to shorten my travel time to go here when I go for the actual seminar in November. I need to find that shortest route. I also found out that it is not a nice experience if you miss out your MRT stop. It’s either you pay double to get to the other side or find a stop that has a middle portion to switch to the other side.

It was time to go “bar-hopping” with friends when we were dismissed. I never actually survived this long whenever I go out. It was probably a mix of the company, the GCs and the locations that made this night one of the most, for me, enjoyable and fun-nest night out. I have been to Il Ponticello once and it will always be the place where I lost my first eyeglasses. This time though, the place was not packed so we had a nice chill-out mode going on. The songs that were played would make you groove, sway and sing your heart out with matching actions to the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls. I think at some point, we all, boys and girls alike, liked, hummed and sang (sometimes even imitated the dance moves) those love songs of boy-bands and girl-bands of the 90s. It’s rare to be in a place where people dance and happily sing these “corny” tunes lyric per lyric (we also don’t find people singing them in karaoke nowadays and risk looking like an idiot). Next we visited Sidebar, which had wilder music and kind of like a semi-party posh crowd. What got my attention was the DJ and his digital player hooked to an Apple. I wish I knew what the buttons, switches and discs were for because I tried listening to the music but there was no or little difference. My conclusion was that a DJ was only needed during the intro of a new song. He looked cool though with his high-tech gadgets. One major issue though about Sidebar was that their glass washing station was exposed. The issue was not that it should be hidden but the way they (it got me thinking that it was the same for all bars) washed the glasses in the same soapy tub then to a water tub and let them dry upside down. The routine took about 5 seconds in all. So much for fast and efficient service. I am guessing the outside part where we drink from sometimes don't get washed anymore. I will be drinking with a straw from now on lest I want to contact some disease. Our party of four did not consume the GCs with all the alcohol we can order even though this trip was coined as “bar-hopping”. We decided to try out the food for a late dinner, particularly the Gambas and Pizza of Ponti and another Pizza with Gruyere cheese over at Sidebar. A good thing though about these “bars” was that they do not have entrance fees and you can dance quietly to the music all you want (dance at your spot, sitting on your seat or in a corner, no set dance floor). I liked the overall chill out session while we talked the night/morning away with our friends.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hippo Story

Today I found out about hippos, anthrax and the historic event in Uganda that led epidemiologists to conclude that hippos are carnivorous (as opposed to the general knowledge that they are herbivores and only eat grass at night) and can eat the remains of another hippo especially during the dry months when they have nutritionally imbalanced diets. Some areas like Uganda have anthrax in the soil that can withstand the heat and can easily be eaten by animals then transferred to humans. In this epidemic, the whole story involved more than 300 hippos at a national park dying with a particular strain of anthrax virus that probably started with one hippo eating grass infected with anthrax then died. The rangers always found a group of hippos around a hippo carcass and eventually found out that they were eating the intestines that were exposed once the hippos die. The tribe people living around the park also died when they ate the meat of the dead hippo. Even with restrictions to hunting and eating hippos, the meat was a popular delicacy and was believed to aide women to be more fertile. The epidemic had a natural death and the world, especially those in Uganda, knew a thing a thing or two now about handling baffling cases like these that occur naturally in the world of hippos. Oh, and I learned that anthrax looks like a violet virus under the microscope. Anthrax will kill you and can be contracted through touch (a black spot in the area will appear), inhaling (it will target your lungs and do the damage there) and by ingestion (it will target your intestines).  

Communications and cooperation between the vet in Uganda, their research facility, the rangers, the local people who helped with all the labor-intensive stuff, a foreign volunteer veterinarian epidemiologist and a facility in Germany that specializes in identifying biological weapons led to the root cause of the problem surrounding the case of the dying hippos in the national park. It just made me think that dangers lurk everywhere even from the soil to seemingly harmless hippos. These people who worked this case actually had something to be proud of for their dedication to their chosen fields. I hope this new knowledge teaches me something but does not attribute to a fear that will send me running the opposite direction when an opportunity to travel to say, South Africa, comes along.


Today I found out about the shows 4 Ingredients and Extreme Cuisine in Lifestyle. The 4 Ingredients show seemed to liven up that craving to be able to cook meals for myself and for my future family. This yearning involves not taking much of kitchen space (no going here and there or cooking different things at the same time, less ingredients = healthier?), not spilling ingredients here and there (for easy cleanup), simple measuring (so I can toss the oh-so-plenty measuring cups), not hard-to-find ingredients (so I won't have to go to the supermarket all the time) and making everything taste good so that there will be no leftovers (or I don't eat them by myself). Oh, I am so much tempted to buy that iPhone application. Good thing I don't have the gadget or it's an extra expense if I tuck away the idea again.

Extreme Cuisine is a different matter. After the show, I was left with the thought that it would be nice to go to Morocco, not for some of the delicacies that were featured in the show but for the experience and the hospitality of the people. I am guessing that majority of the population were Muslims. Maybe it's the show, but I'd like to experience life in Morocco as he did, except for the direct drinking of the camel milk and the eating of the the eel, the pigeon and the entrails of the ram. I learned about the making of the expensive argon oil from the collection of argon seeds from the discharge of the goats, the cracking of the seeds, the mashing of the inner white parts of the seeds to a paste which eventually leads to the mixing, squishing and straining of the paste to get the precious oil. The show also featured the adventure-seeker eating corn couscous with eel and rolling them in a ball before eating with their hands, actually catching the big eel with the fishermen, making cheese out of camel's milk, preparing and eating somewhat like a pie with layers of pigeon meat and almond paste, buying meat from a butcher who placed it in a jar and added a special spice mixture including aged butter, going to a place near public baths to bury and cook that meat in a jar, traveling and even climbing elevated areas to get to the different villages in Morocco, placing the ram in an oven made of earth and sipping a mint tea with a Moroccan elder. I would so love to break out of my comfort zone and eat in one of those rooftops, even using only my right hand, as what was the custom, to eat what I can eat, while experiencing life, culture and tradition with the locals, maybe even learning some of their language.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Delish Night

I think the appropriate catch phrase to cap this wonderful night is My Kind of Oyster, My World. It was a nice lounge-like experience to be in Delish. For me, it was a perfect and memorable place for good food, good company and three new delectable dishes that will probably stay with me for a long time. For the record, I would like to state my three most gastronomical favorites, two of which I never thought I would enjoy in this lifetime. My least favorite foods ever are oysters and potatoes but I will go back to Delish anytime to eat those Baked Oysters with Spinach, Bacon and Herbs and the darling side dish of Mashed Potatoes mixed with cheese and carrots. All the food served was “Delish-ous!” from the baked oysters to the grilled eggplant and pumpkin soup to the glazed chicken with mashed potatoes to the crispy pata to the spicy chicken wings to the fish fillet with banana and tomato sauce to the pinakbet and all the way to my most favorite, Butterscotch Paklova dessert. I am sure I would drag somebody to go back and try the other dishes in no time. I would not hesitate to put Delish in my top faves and start raving about it from this day on.

The thought of having a known favorite place to eat my two least favorite food would mean that I have set a whole new record for myself to go out there and correct or somehow curb bad first impressions of everything - two point five in one night. I am not certain though that this negates my dislike for them. I am only saying that I can eat oysters and mashed potatoes now but I will only eat them if it tastes like or even better that Delish. And to have a new favorite sweet tooth craving in that same place makes stuff even better too. I guess when some things are presented differently and you are with the company of friends, even those you have only met for the first time, a whole new appreciation for good conversation paired with good food opens up. I might get used to this life, thanks to all the wonderful people, new friends. What I want to say is as simple as this, kidding aside, at this moment I feel as if the world is my oyster.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Budgeting by Instinct

Back in the days, it was always a personal choice to keep track of my finances every few months. I must have lost my way somehow and things weren't as neat and organized as I thought. This time, however, I had to make sure exactly how much I am free to spend due to the recent developments that will affect my cash flow. Like I always do, I clear out any pending credit card balances even before the due date and separate the payment so that I won't be tempted to use the money. I paid the ones I knew before I went on the two-week holiday, just in case. I also have to make sure the interests have not skipped as scheduled. 

I am not a fan of budgeting like allocating how much money to spend in this category. I base my expenses on what I want to do at the moment and the cash I have on hand. My instincts kicks in usually when the price goes over or occupies a huge chunk of my remaining money. Of course, the opportunity cost of an unknown future expense I might like even more than this thing I have now puts me in distress. Mostly to settle things, I leave things to slim chance. Chances are, after a while, I'm better off not spending at all. The incessant craving disappears in a few hours and everything is normal again.

Painful Scrub

They say it's all for the name of beauty. For me, it's curiosity and the pain that engulfs you and keeps you awake in the whole process. After the treatment, I concluded that spas are one of my least favorite places in the world. The GC specifically said whitening marine mud pack. No offense to the warm and accommodating lady who did the whole process, but the scrubbing made me cringe in pain and take it all in silence. I imagined the experience as that biology experiment where the frog is pinned down and exposed until it slowly died while one by one its parts were removed for study. This scrub, like all scrubs, are supposed to strip away dead skin cells and the results leave your skin feeling silky and smooth, in a finite moment that is. But the point of the matter is, our lifestyles never change and the brave ones eventually go back and gradually, the painful experience becomes a very relaxing experience for them - a complete 180 turn. 

As I let my body recuperate from this shock, one fact remains as an outcome of that experience. Pain keeps us feeling alive. It occasionally drives us out of our wits and keeps us hoping that it will soon stop. Ultimately, it leaves an invisible scar but what makes us maintain our silence at a recurring rate is that, from our experience or view of how things work, there are some things are really supposed to hurt before it gets better, very much like that injection of anesthesia or confronting the past to move on with your life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Love Concert

We got a couple of last-minute lower box tickets to the BoyzIIMen concert! Sitting there in a corner, I watched while waves upon waves of love songs took me back to the most vulnerable moments of my life. There were brief flashbacks of my high school self and the general feeling of sadness. Loneliness was an old, old friend. It made me wonder why I was hooked to songs of heartbreak, separation and yearning. Why was I an avid fan of those kinds of songs anyway? They must have been there for me and spoke the depths of my mind aloud. Or at least in the song, there was a relationship that I didn't have.

I wished there were more songs of being in love and not of heartbreak. Maybe it could speak out my feelings at the moment with the love of my life and ignite that spark of romance. It is ironic that lovers would want to watch a love concert filled with songs of separation. In another light, it would be a good turnout to realize that they don't want to be in the situation of breaking up then listening to these songs. Or would it make things sweeter the second time around?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Traveling Habit

One day I was jotting down the things I wanted to do on a post-it note and crossing them out one-by-one immediately when accomplished. The key here was to scribble the simple little things you found important, find a way to do them, throw the list away once you're done and hope to get something out of that. I smiled when I realized that I was applying what I did abroad in my life right now.

I never thought I could experience it here, a whole new thrill to discover and do things you haven't tried before in something so familiar. Perhaps it is time to open my eyes and look for something else in my birthplace.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dissecting a Hard Drive

I was trying to finish my left-over work by scanning my external hard disk for previous policies that I could incorporate and I was surprised at how disorganized my files were. The idea of "clutter hidden in plain sight" did not surprise me when I read about it in the Unclutterer. I bought the hard drive to serve as backup just in case my laptop fails again. It did, twice, and while I was waiting for a new one, which took months, I used other computers to store my files. I collated everything I could in that hard drive and made a partial backup in my new laptop. I also use the hard drive as a backup for my new laptop so the data just piled under different folders. The thought that if I remove doubles and erase the more recent one bothered me so I just kept them both.

The hard drive was like a large magic drawer where I keep random stuff. I haven't even consumed half of the maximum GB. This is probably why I haven't thought about the cleanup. The circumstances have changed now, I have this gnawing feeling to separate my personal stuff with my previous work stuff, which I want to desperately turn over. I will still keep the work folder but I want to make things right by removing all the unusable drafts and duplicates. By the end of this arduous task, my hard drive will probably have more space for my future personal stuff.

Getting Things Done

The consequences of procrastination still haunts me to this day. I must be a self-made masochist leaving hopeless things to have fun but sometimes, you run out of time. You allot yourself a full day of plans, only to lose sight when you welcome distractions pleading for your attention early in the day. Regret comes after and my inner monster tells me over and over, "I should have stuck to my priorities." I hate the distractions, they should have made an appointment for my time. The next thing you know, your flight is tomorrow and naturally, what you have left behind extends the torture of moving on with your career.

I am stuck and they have me until I finish all of it. The only thing I can do is work under my own terms. Even under the circumstance and the constant uneasy feeling that my final freedom lies with me, I am glad that I can put an end to any additional tasks they throw at me now. To block the distractions, I have also blocked any invitations to stay a full day back to my former workplace. When I go there, I stick with the plan and plan a getaway after I finish my list. The bad thing about this gap period is that people think you are not doing anything so they push and try to do your schedule. When this happens, you must not allow yourself to get sucked back in. To move on, you would just have to tie up these loose ends. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cleaning Act

That next day after my return, I was determined to accomplish something as a free soul, something that I have put off for almost three years. I started rummaging through my two most basic closets. Finally, I had a pile for use-ables, donate-ables and repair-ables. The use-ables were arranged in smaller piles for easy access. The bags were stacked neatly and any extra things went somewhere except back to the two original closets. I put the donate-ables outside and vowed to let them go. Not seeing them helped and I completely forgot about the clothes in that pile before the temptation set in. My make-up kit, accessories, toiletry and medicine box came next. By the end of the day, everything that was tagged unusable was thrown out the trash and things that resembled each other were placed in the same pile. It was also a nice feeling to be reunited with my long-lost possessions hidden somewhere at the bottom of all the stuff.

Cleaning up is not so hard when you find time to get to things and never let anything pile. It also brings such relief now that things have an arbitrary order.  I have to make a conscious choice to stick to this new routine, for the better.