Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I just recently watched the Oscar-nominated film 'Frost/Nixon' and I must say, if you have a chance to see it, go see it!

I got a DVD of Frost/Nixon either last Christmas or on my last birthday since I put it in my wish list and one of my friends - I believe it was Anna - gave it to me. I hadn't gotten around to watching it in the last few months because whenever I watch smart, intellectual and critically-acclaimed films, I need to be in a specific frame of mind to enjoy it. If I haven't properly psyched myself to watch these kinds of films, I may end up not fully appreciating them which I don't want to happen.

So I finally watched my 'Frost/Nixon' DVD and it was incredible! We all know how the film would turn out in the end but the way the plot unfolded and the pace at which it did, amidst all the conflicts and difficulties faced by the characters and how Frost and Nixon ended up getting into a stunning duel, kept me totally engaged from start to the very powerful climax. There is no question that Frank Langella got into character as his portrayal of Nixon was immensely brilliant and definitely deserved an Oscar nomination (if not a win) for best actor (just too bad he was up against Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke) but the rest of the cast, led by Michael Sheen as David Frost, were all stellar as well.

'Frost/Nixon' exceeded my expectations, and given that it had so many positive reviews from critics and regular viewers alike, my expectations were already high to begin with. It's certainly one of the best films I have seen and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Good news for a change

It's been a while since I my favorite athletes and sports teams all had positive results in the same weekend.

First, Jenson Button finds his way back to the top of the Formula 1 podium with a great win in the Australian Grand Prix. He had the 4th fastest qualifying time, dropped to 7th after the first corner, then was bumped a notch down to 8th after his teammate Lewis Hamilton passed him early in the race. But Jenson made a judgment call to change his tires early, which turned out to be the single most crucial decision made in the race. This tire change turned out to be the right move since he ended up driving faster than anyone else at that point and he moved up the ranks quickly to 2nd. The brake problem that caused Sebastian Vettel - who had been leading the pack halfway through the race - to drop out led JB to take over and he never looked back.

(I feel really bad for Vettel though. This was the 2nd time that he had pole position and was ahead for most of the race but lost out due to issues with his car.)

Second, Liverpool win! This season, my favorite football team have been struggling horribly, and are now in great danger of being out of the top 4 and thus lose a slot in next season's Champions League. But they kept their very slim hopes of a top 4 finish alive by beating Sunderland 3-0 last Sunday. Their fate is out of their hands are Tottenham have a good lead over them as well as a game in hand, and Man City have two games in hand. But given that Liverpool wins this season haven't come as frequently as they have in the past, a 3-0 victory is very welcome.

Finally, Rafa Nadal makes it past his opening match in Key Biscayne. While this was an opening match which Rafa should easily win, it was against David Nalbandian, an ex-top 5 player who has won 2 out of the 3 matches he's played against Rafa and has won 8 times against the mighty Federer. When David won the first set of their match 7-6, I thought Nadal was in deep trouble. As it turns out, Rafa managed to lose only 4 games the rest of the match for a good win, allowing him to even his head-to-head against the Argentine and move through to the round of 16. (And now that he's beaten his countryman David Ferrer, he is through to the quarterfinals where he will be playing against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga).

Here's hoping Easter weekend will be filled with good news as well. Who knows, it could bring Nadal have another title, JB another trophy in Malaysia, and Liverpool another win. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Justin Timberlake is Da Bomb!

Wow. What a concert! I joined about 80,000 other people last Saturday night in the SM Mall of Asia grounds to watch the Shock Value II concert of Timbaland featuring JoJo and Justin Timberlake. And needless to say, I was not disappointed. That this was a benefit concert meant to raise funds to help victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng just made this whole event all the better.

It didn't start out all that well. The show, which was slated to begin at 8pm, kicked off at 9:45pm, almost 2 hours late. Most of the emcees were next to useless - only Sarah Meier seemed to have read her cue cards before getting on the stage and didn't read from them as she spoke. The band only started their sound check past 9pm. And the front acts - Q-York and the Philippine All-Stars - might have gotten better reception from the audience if people hadn't been standing for hours and weren't tired from waiting. Thank God it wasn't too hot and it didn't rain.

Check out the massive crowd!

But when the show started, it was awesome! Timbaland stepped on stage and performed some of his hits like "The Way I are", "Oh Timbland", and "I'll never be the same" and matched it with a great visual/light show:

After an hour of rocking his beats and getting the crowd going, he introduced JoJo who joined him on stage to perform their song "Lose control". JoJo then sang her biggest hit to date, "Too little, too late".

As it turns out, those were the only two songs that JoJo would perform. The DJ then started playing some songs to keep the momentum going, including "Ayo Technology" (I thought they would perform this live). When Timbaland returned on stage, he started to tease the crowd which, by that time, couldn't wait for Justin Timberlake to appear. Timbaland started singing bits of "Apologize", one of my all-time favorite songs, and as he does, Justin, who was still somewhere backstage, started singing along with him, causing the noise level from the crowd to go up several notches (I just really wish JT and Timbaland performed this song fully!). When Timbaland started his light show again, the face of JT came up and this drew even more mad cheers.

So when JT finally took the stage, the crowd went berserk. He initially shared the stage with Timbaland, performing a lot of the upbeat songs from his FutureSex/LoveSounds album like "Love Stoned", "What goes around, comes around", and "My love".

One of the coolest moments of the concert was when Timbaland beatboxed while JT sang a re-arranged version of his hit "Cry me a river". I found this performance on youtube (uploaded by user urfoolingmyleeg), check it out:

uploaded in youtube by user urfoolingmyleeg

He also accompanied himself on keyboard and performed a couple of tracks to slow things down.

Of course it didn't stay that way as he closed the show on a high note by performing more of his massive hits with Timbaland. And just as the show was about to end, JT came out to say "I've retired this song but f*ck it, I love you all so much" or something to that effect and then performed "SexyBack". As the Ticketworld website promised, Justin did perform at least 8 songs (I think he must've done 10?). Frankly, just his half of the show was worth the price of the ticket!

There was a lot of talk in late 2008/early-2009 that Justin Timberlake would have a concert in Manila in 2009 but it never happened, so it's great that he came here as a guest in Timbaland's concert. To be quite frank though, and I'm sure even Timbaland knows this, the real drawing power of this show was Justin. I'm sure most - if not all - of the 80,000 people were there to see JT perform live. And he certainly delivered.

Here's hoping that Justin Timberlake stages a full concert here in Manila as the main artist (and not just as a guest). Now THAT would be truly awesome!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lights off, Earth On

Let's join the rest of the world and turn off our lights during Earth Hour 2010 at 8:30pm on Saturday, March 27.

For a little bit of inspiration, check out this official Earth Hour video (Manila is featured at 2:30 :))

video uploaded in youtube by user earthhour2009

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I've been working a whole lot recently so when one of my projects was completed last Friday, I decided to take a few days off and just spend some time away from the office. I had a lot of errands to work on so I figured I would sort some of them out during this time.

One of the things that had been pending for a while was getting my SSS ID. I went to the SSS Main office in East Avenue a few months back to get the form, but I didn't have enough time then to fall in line so I made my way back there yesterday at around 11am. When I arrived, I was given number 1281. As it turns out, they were just serving numbers 921 to 925. So about 260 to go LOL!

The good thing was that SSS had a lot of several service counters and the evaluation process didn't take more than a few minutes on average. So they would normally call the next 5 numbers every few minutes. SSS doesn't have a lunch break - there are relievers who take over - so by around 1230 my number got called.

When I got there, I was told that my SSS ID is apparently flagged as temporary because I didn't submit my birth certificate before. What's even crazier is that their system indicates that my SSS ID had already been released. I really don't remember getting my ID LOL so either it was released before and I didn't get it or I lost it. So my next steps now are to submit my birth certificate in the Makati office then return to the Main office to submit an affidavit of loss or an affidavit of non-receipt, then re-submit my SSS ID form. What a mess! LOL

Strangely enough, I wasn't upset or pissed off about the whole thing. Maybe being on leave and not running after deadlines made me a whole lot calmer than I normally am. In any case, I headed to Pasig to look for the L.G. Collins office to get a new remote control for our TV - the one we have now still works but really needs to be replaced. When I called them, they said the remote would cost P888 but when I got there, I just had to pay P532. Not sure how that happened but I ended up having an extra P356 that I had already parted with mentally.

With this "extra cash", I drove to Diao Eng Chay - or DEC as I call it - in Wilson to buy a half-dozen chicken pies. My friend Michele introduced me to their chicken pie back in high school and until now I still crave for it every now and then (I've eaten two of the six since, and I'm sure I'll eat one more today LOL). I decided to get some siomai and hakaw as well. The hakaw was so-so but the siomai was great!

I was also planning to have my microwave fixed - it had been broken for a really long time as well - but as it turns out, Whirlpool does house visits so the repairman came to my place last Saturday morning to fix it. It finally works!

So while I didn't head out of town during my leave, it's been very productive so far. My life surely feels in a bit more order than it did a few days ago. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Agassi vs. Sampras 2010

For at least a few minutes, the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. It's the type of drama you expect to see on some reality TV show or talk show that thrived on conflict and intrigue.

Except it was happening on a tennis court. Even more surprising is the fact that Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, two of the greatest players to ever hit a tennis ball, were involved. Check this out:

Uploaded in youtube by user shakendagrass

This doubles match was part of the Hit for Haiti event. A lot of money was raised when part 1 was held during the Australian Open. All players were given microphones so that they could provide real-time commentary on their own match and engage in friendly banter. This seemed to really hit the mark the first time around that they decided to do it again for part 2.

Unfortunately, Andre and Pete got into a who-can-say-or-do-something-more-below-the-belt pissing contest that the entire crowd (and now, the entire world) witnessed. Not good.

The bad blood must've started when Agassi came out with his book and accused Sampras of being dull and lacking inspiration. And of being a poor tipper. So Andre saying "You always have to get serious, huh Pete?'' during this exhibition match seemed to push Pete's buttons one too many times, leading Pete to mock Andre by imitating his pigeon-toed walk. Andre then made a comeback by once again saying Pete was a poor tipper. The atmosphere got so negative that Roger ended up saying "This rivalry is intense, man. I mean, Rafa, start. Do something" to try and diffuse the tension a bit.

You could argue that champions locked in an intense rivalry for the better part of their careers would always have a competitive streak against each other even after they both have retired. But there is really no excuse to behave like spoiled brats who couldn't care less about airing their dirty laundry in public. That these two players, who are supposedly class acts and who have traditionally shown a high degree of respect towards one another, would conduct themselves so poorly during a charity event just makes this even more cringe-worthy.

The good news is that despite this intensely awkward moment, the event managed to raise 1 million dollars for the benefit of earthquake victims in Haiti.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Congrats, Manny!

Manny Pacquiao retains his Welterweight crown by beating Joshua Clottey in their fight in Arlington, Texas billed as The Event.

Photo from

While Pacquiao didn't win by KO or TKO, but his win was just as dominant. He threw more than 3 times as many punches (1231 to Clottey's 399) and he landed 246 of those (as compared to Clottey's 108). He won the fight in a unanimous decision with a scorecard of 120-108, 119-109, and 119-109.

Congratulations, Manny!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Five years

Happy 5th anniversary to my blog! :)

Can't believe I've been blogging for five years. I have now posted 391 times, which means I average about one blog post every 5 days. I read through my older entries recently and it's a lot of fun to recall the different things I experienced and the thoughts and opinions I had in the last 5 years. Hopefully I can maintain this for another five. :)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A fantasic family dinner in La Cocina de Tita Moning

My mom had been wanting to try La Cocina De Tita Moning for some time so when we realized that my lola had never been to Fort Santiago in Intramuros, my mom decided that the family take a trip to Old Manila so we could hit two birds with one stone. We decided to go last Feb 14, which made for a great Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year celebration. This is the second of two blog posts about this day and it will be about our dinner in La Cocina de Tita Moning.

La Cocina de Tita Moning
offers its guests a wonderful and unique fine dining experience with its combination of rich history, great food, and excellent service. It is located in the Legarda Ancestral Home in the San Miguel District of Old Manila. The house was built in 1937 and this is where Dr. Alejandro Legarda (son of Filomena Roces Legarda) lived with his wife Ramona Hernandez Legarda and their four children.

Ramona Hernandez Legarda, or Tita Moning as she was fondly called, was known for hosting lavish parties and treating her guests to gastronomic delights that she cooked up in her own kitchen. Shortly after she passed away in 1999, her family decided to open the doors of their home to the public by converting it into a restaurant and serving family recipes that Tita Moning used to cook for her family and guests.

Our experience that night began in the patio where we relaxed under the moonlight sipping on sangria and iced tea.

Once we had polished off our drinks, we were escorted by our tour guide Edel to the main entrance of the Legarda Ancestral Home where our dinner would be served. She talked about the history of mansion and how it was called home by members of the Legarda clan since 1937. The Legardas had a lot of interests and hobbies, and the memorabilia they collected have been put on display in the different rooms of what is now a personal family museum.

Among the rooms we toured before dinner were the Antique Camera Room (Alejandro Legarda was a member of the Camera Club of the Philippines and his camera equipment are on display here)

and the Antique Radio room (Dr. Legarda was also a member of the Philippine Amateur Radio Association, and this room showcases his old radio equipment).

We toured all the different rooms and you can read more about them here.

We finally made our way to the dining room where dinner was served on heirloom china, glassware, and silverware that Tita Moning actually used in the past.

La Cocina serves Spanish-Filipino cuisine, and you must choose a menu twenty four hours before arriving. What gave this place an even more unique, homely feel was that the main courses were brought to us by servers on serving trays. We could get as much as we wanted, and once we cleaned out our plates, the servers returned with the trays in case we wanted seconds (or thirds).

I can't recall our menu in detail - I think we had lengua, a pork dish, and a fish dish, fresh ubod, and paella - but the food was superb! We had queso de bola cheesecake and bread pudding for dessert, and while I'm a big fan of cheesecake, the bread pudding was the big winner. It's definitely a must-try!

Our dining experience is made even more memorable by the fact that the La Cocina Staff is made up of people who have been serving the family for years. One of our servers, Tining, is the La Cocina assistant and she joined the household in 1971 - almost 40 years ago! You can read more about the La Cocina staff here.

Before we left, we had our photo taken in the living room that is decorated with several paintings from very important Filipino painters such as Juan Luna and Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo.

It was interesting to note that we had four generations in our family that night - my grandparents, my mom, me and brother, and my nephews - so it was a perfect match to our venue that has been in existence for more than 70 years.

This dinner was definitely an incredible experience, and celebrating it with my family made it even more special. While the menu costs a minimum of P1500++, it's definitely worth trying at least once (or once in a while, if your wallet can handle it). La Cocina de Tita Moning takes fine dining to a whole new level by providing guests with an extraordinary experience that you can't get in any other restaurant.

As lunch and dinner in La Cocina are strictly by reservation, you can check out their website FAQ for more details.

La Cocina de Tita Moning
Address: #315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel District, Manila
Telephone Number: (+632) 7342146 / (+632) 7342141
Facsimile Number: (+632) 7342141
Mobile Number:
- from Overseas : +639175383490 (look for Suzette Montinola)
- from Manila: 09186551040
Email address:

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A Visit to Fort Santiago in Intramuros

My mom had been wanting to try La Cocina De Tita Moning for some time so when we realized that my lola had never been to Fort Santiago in Intramuros, my mom decided that the family take a trip to Old Manila so we could hit two birds with one stone. We decided to go last Feb 14, which made for a great Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year celebration. This is the first of two blog posts about this day, and it will be about our visit to Fort Santiago.

Intramuros, or The Walled City, was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. It's one of the few places left in Manila that still showcases old Spanish architecture, great churches (Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church), and cobblestone streets.

Fort Santiago was our main destination. This was where Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, was imprisoned before his execution on December 30, 1896.

entrance to Fort Santiago

The many brick ruins within The Fort are a reminder of the damage sustained during the Battle of Manila in February 1945.

As such, the main point of interest in this historical landmark is the Rizal Shrine, a modern museum that houses a lot of Rizal memorabilia, including copies of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo published more than a century ago.

an old copy of 'Noli Me Tangere'

an old copy of 'El Filibusterismo'

The final walk of Rizal (leading to his execution by firing squad) shows the path that our National Hero took from his cell to the location of his execution by firing squad.

We closed out our afternoon with a calesa ride.

Fort Santiago closes at 6pm, so since our dinner reservation was at 730pm, we still had time to hear mass in Manila Cathedral. This was another great experience as it was the first time that I heard mass here that wasn't a wedding.

Next post: a grand dinner in La Cocina De Tita Moning.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The month that was

It's only the second month into the year but February has been hectic. But in a really good way.

First, I spent a lot of quality time with my family. Just this weekend, we celebrated my brother's birthday. Me, my mom, two nephews, grandparents, and brother of course headed to Shang mall to have a late afternoon snack (and coffee) in Figaro. My lola wanted to watch 'Miss you like crazy' so my lolo and my brother accompanied her while the rest of us heard mass. My mom then went off to buy groceries while I took my nephews to Quantum, the arcade. We spent a lot of time in bowling game but it was in this other game - you drop a ball to a rotating disc and you win tickets based on the hole where it goes into - where my nephews were really lucky. They won more than 200 tickets in this game!

A couple of weeks before that (Valentine's day and Chinese New Year, actually), we went to Intramuros because my lola has apparently never been there before. We heard mass in Manila Cathedral - the first time I heard mass there that wasn't a wedding - before having dinner in La Cocina de Tita Moning. This was a really great day, and I figure I should dedicate a full blog post to this (maybe in a couple of days...)

I also spent a lot of quality time with my friends. Anna came home from SG for about a week and a half - she started her new job last week so we decided to have dinner with Joyce, Iona, JP and Aya (too bad Mitch was out of the country, I may have to organize another dinner get-together in the next few weeks). Just a few days before that, Joyce, Anna and I met up in Old Swiss Inn with Francis, who I haven't seen in almost a decade so it was great catching up. And a couple of days before that, Joyce, Anna, and I also met up in Powerplant to watch 'Valentine's Day'. I watched 'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief' with Walter and Tim in The Block in SM North Edsa because Tim had free movie tickets in SM cinemas. And finally, Raffa and Che had an advanced birthday celebration in Eat Well in Net Quad, along with Joh, Hannah, Peegee, Randee, and Chris (Me-Ann made a special guest appearance since she had an event that same night with her big bosses).

Feb also proved to be a very musical month. Aside from a couple of trips to Music Match with my videoke-addict friends lol, our band org at work had a harana event on Feb 12 (as a pre-Valentine's day gimmick). I sang a few different songs: "Forever" by Chris Brown in the style of Boyce Avenue, "Collide" by Howie Day, "Can't fight this feeling" by REO Speedwagon in the style of the Glee Cast, "Someone to love you" by Ruff Endz, "Let's stay together" by Al Green, and "Fly me to the moon". (This was really cool because I sang all but Collide and Fly me to the moon for the first time).

And to wrap things up, there was a lot of partying and clubbing. A couple of trips to Pier One and Encore (formerly known as Embassy), plus a visit to Distillery, Tiananmen, and Hai Bar made sure I had more than my fair share of alcohol lol.

If March is anything like Feb, then I can't wait. :)