Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pop Danthology 2013

Before we say goodbye to 2013, here is Daniel Kim's mash-up of the biggest hits of the last year.

video uploaded by kimaginati0n

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Royal Touch Gourmet Cupcakes

I've been hearing a lot of good stuff about The Royal Touch Gourmet Cupcakes. I noticed it when I visited SM Aura for the first time, and shortly after that, a friend told me that he had just tried the cupcakes there and they were pretty good. More recently, another friend went there and posted a lot of pictures online that further piqued my interest. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, a colleague was given a box of Royal Touch cupcakes and she let me try a bit. The ones I tasted were so good that I knew I had to get my own box. :)

I finally got to go on Sunday afternoon. There is a huge variety of cupcakes here and I ended up getting a box of six with assorted flavors:

Clockwise from top-left: Princess Rose Petal Cupcake (P95), Chocolate Cherry Baronet Cupcake (P80), Caramel and Date Squire Cupcake (P90), Apple Duchess Cupcake (P80), Chocolate Strawberry Marchioness Cupcake (P80), and Red Velvet Empress Cupcake (P80)

I decided to have the Caramel and Date Squire Cupcake in the store and I paired it up with brewed coffee. The rest, I set aside for my family.

This Caramel and Date Squire Cupcake was pretty good. The icing was smooth and silky, the cake was moist and delicious, and the whole cupcake, including the bit of caramel at the top, was just the right amount of sweet. I've never had a cupcake with dates before so this was a first.

While these cupcakes are not cheap, they aren't more expensive than a lot of others in the market (cupcakes often sell in the P60-90 range now). They are definitely worth the price and Royal Touch has now been elevated to my favorite cupcake shop!

The founder of The Royal Touch is Carolyn Robb, who was Executive Chef to Prince Charles, Princess Diana and the Royal Families so it's not surprising why these cupcakes are really good. I am definitely going here again. I want to try every item on the menu LOL but of course, it will take some time before I can go through their entire selection. Can't wait for that to happen, though. :)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Random holiday season stuff

I was driving along Ayala Avenue the other day when I got caught in some pretty bad traffic. As it turned out, I ran smack into the victory parade for newly-crowned Miss International Bea Rose Santiago. I got to see her waving to the crowd amidst a shower of confetti while I was stuck in my car and despite my annoyance at the traffic, I actually ended up waving back at her LOL.


I was there because I was going to Greenbelt to meet up with my good friend Daday. We had lunch in Kai then moved to Caffe Ti-Amo for coffee. At some point we ended up talking about how she missed out on seeing the metro stations in Moscow when she went to Russia so I ended up showing her my photos of the Moscow Metro  as well as the rest of my Russia pics. I then accompanied her to Globe before we went our separate ways since I had a haircut appointment at 4pm. It was another long day as I then drove to Shangri-La Mall to do some after-the-fact Christmas shopping since I still had several gifts to buy and I also had to have the batteries replaced in four of my watches.


The night before, I met up with another good friend, Che. She wanted to have Spanish food so we tried Relik Tapas Bar in BGC. The Baked Australian Brie was a bit bland, the Tenderloin was okay, and the Arroz Con Pollo was pretty good. It's been about a year since I saw her so there was a lot of catching up. Once the noise level in Relik started to go up, we moved to Kuppa which was just downstairs to enjoy some coffee.


A bit of bad luck right before Christmas. As I was walking to my car after picking up food from Conti's, I noticed that the rear right tire of my car looked flat. I drove to the nearest gas station and had it filled with air before bringing all the food home first. I then went to my friendly neighborhood vulcanizing shop to have the tire looked at. As luck would have it, my tire was punctured. Ugh.

Not sure how that happened. Thankfully, it didn't completely deflate while I was driving and that the vulcanizing shop was open the afternoon before Christmas.


And of course, the Christmas season brings with it extra weight. I've gained about five pounds over the last few weeks from overeating. There will be more food to enjoy over the next few days but hopefully, once January comes in, I can start going to the gym again to lose at least some of the extra weight. Good luck to me!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Seasons Greetings!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

In honor of today's holiday celebration, here's a really cool video of Christopher Lee reading Tim Burton's original poem "The Nightmare before Christmas".

video uploaded by fill10000

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What a day

It's not very often that you end up being more exhausted and having a fuller day when you are on leave than when you are working, but that's exactly what happened to me yesterday. Then again, a lot of people do experience this when Christmas is right around the corner, so I guess I'm not all that unique. :)

It started out when I took my car to the shop in Bonifacio Global City to have it looked at. I would get my car back at around 4pm so I decided to do personal errands over the next several hours. BGC isn't that big and I did have time to spare, so I decided to take a 10-minute walk to the bank to pay my credit card bills before heading to Early Bird Breakfast Club to try it out. I ordered an Eggs Benedict:

Eggs Benedict at the Early Bird Breakfast Club

The verdict? I thought it was just okay, considering the price (P420). Along with the coffee, I spent close to P600 here. My poached eggs were a tad overcooked - the silky yolk didn't start spilling over everything when I cut into it - but the shoestring potatoes were a unique twist.

After polishing off my food and coffee, I made my way to The Spa in Bonifacio High Street to get a gift card that I planned to give out for Christmas. I then headed to Conti's so I could place an advance food order that would serve as my family's noche buena and Christmas food. There was a relatively long queue of people at the take-out counter - as there always is during the Yuletide season - so by the time I had placed and paid for my order, it was already close to 1pm.

I had a couple of errands to do in Market! Market! but I also knew that Ender's Game would be showing in SM Aura at 1:35pm. I only had a couple of days to catch it because the Metro Manila Film Fest starts on the 25th but when I got there, I realized it was being shown in the Director's Cut theater, which meant I would be in a crowd of only a couple dozen people and I would get to sit in a lazy boy with free popcorn but it would cost a whopping P350. After thinking about i, I decided it would be a new experience so I got myself a ticket. It was an interesting experience (it is definitely comfortable having a lot more space!) and the movie was a decent sci-fi flick with pretty good effects.

After the movie, I went to Market! Market! to look for Dulcelin since I wanted to get their strawberry cake for Christmas. It took me a while to find it - apparently, there is no Dulcelin shop but instead, Dulcelin items are sold by Pelican Farms. Unfortunately, the only dessert they had ready was the mango torte; everything else is for pre-order. So I went into the mall to look for the place where I bought my watch before to ask if they also sold batteries but apparently the store is gone. It was at this point that I got a call saying that my car was ready for pick-up.

I wanted to watch Frozen as well but I had to pick up my car first. So after settling the bill and heading to the mall to catch the 6pm showing of Frozen, I saw that my right headlight was not working. Bummer! I called my service attendant and he asks me to bring my car back to the shop. Apparently, my headlight was busted and I needed to replace it but the shop was about to close so I was told to just return later in the week. What a hassle.

I still had enough time to make it to Frozen. Two movies in one day! This was a pretty good Disney movie, with excellent character development and a very unique take on the Snow Queen fairytale. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up winning Best Animated Film at the Oscars.

As if my day wasn't long enough, I decided to go grocery shopping after my second movie. Thankfully, malls and supermarkets stay open a bit longer nowadays. I then drove to Aristocrat along Jupiter to buy a Torta Delos Reyes chocolate sansrival cake (I only got the small one since I am still hoping I can get a strawberry cake from Dulcelin in Times Street).

Torta Delos Reyes (photo courtesy of http://www.aristocratbakeshop.com.ph)

I had a hot, hearty dinner at around 10pm before I got home. Despite the full and productive day, I still have a lot of stuff to do. While I have almost completed my Christmas shopping, I am still missing gifts for all the kids I plan to give presents to. I also still have to return my car to the shop. I also need to have batteries replaced in a couple of my watches. Nevertheless, I am happy that most of my to-do list has already been crossed out. Hopefully, I can get some much needed rest during the Christmas break. :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Alex and Sierra win X Factor USA

I'm really happy that Alex and Sierra won The X Factor USA, especially since it's rare that a contestant or team I'm rooting for actually wins. They first caught my attention when they performed an acoustic and version of One Directions' Best Song Ever. Their individual voices sounded good but it was their unique arrangement and their great harmonization that really made them stand out for me. However, it was their standout rendition of "Say Something" that locked me in and made me become a fan. Take a look at what I think was the performance of the season:

video uploaded by eduardoox03

I had goosebumps watching and listening to this. The song, originally by A Great Big World, is now one of my current favorites. There aren't many current artists who are like them so I'm looking forward to Alex and Sierra releasing an album soon.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nadal wins a poker tournament

Talk about an uncanny ability to win. Rafael Nadal recently participated in the EPT Charity Challenge in Prague, his first-ever live poker tournament. Amazingly, he won! And not only did he win, he did so in style be coming from behind and actually knocking out Poker World #1 Daniel Negreanu. You can read the play-by-play in this link, but here's a snippet of that link showing how Nadal took down Negreanu:

6.15pm: Nadal hurricane knocks out Negreanu in 4th, €5,000
Wow. The last few hands have seen Rafa Nadal go from short stack to chip leader! He first doubled through Negreanu jamming all-in with Q♦3♠ and caught a queen against Negreanu's A♠9♥. Then he doubled with Q♥9♥ against Negreanu's pocket threes catching a straight on the river, then he won a huge three-way all-in against Negreanu and Andriy Shevchenko to give him 80,000! More details to come.

This poker tournament win came with EUR50,000 prize money that would go to charity of Nadal's choice. Way to go, Rafa!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Wow, I'm really looking forward to this.

video courtesy of SonyPictures

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Donating to Yolanda victims through Globe Rewards

I recently got the following text message from Globe Telecom:

You can donate to the Yolanda Relief Operations using your Globe Rewards points. Just text DONATE[space]YOLANDA[amount] to 4438. Available amounts: 5, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. Ex. DONATE YOLANDA5. 1 point = Php 1 donation. Text BAL to 4438 to check your points.

I never get to use my Globe rewards points so when I got this text message, I used as much of my points as I could for Yolanda relief. I texted BAL to 4438 and found out I had about 380 points so I donated as much of it as I could. The instructions said that the available amounts are 5, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 so I texted the following to 4438:

  • DONATE YOLANDA100 (3 times)
  • DONATE YOLANDA5 (2 times)
That's not really a lot but it was a perfect use of my Globe rewards points that I would have otherwise not used. I intend to keep using my Globe rewards points for this purpose, at least in the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Epic Ad

This Volvo commercial was uploaded in youtube last November 13, and in just two weeks, it has amassed more than 50 million views. When you see it, and you probably already have, you won't be surprised as it just makes an immediate and powerful impact.

video uploaded by VolvoTrucks

I don't know if this split while mounted on two trucks is real or not, but the point is, you can actually believe that it is real (possibly done with a harness on one of the trucks that was erased during editing). After all, Van Damme is the king of splits. Check out this video if you don't believe me. :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Manny Pacquiao: Highs and Lows

Manny Pacquiao has continued to make headlines over the last week.

Last Sunday, he routed Brandon Rios, putting in a very dominant performance and reminding everyone why he was once declared the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. This came in shortly after the Yolanda disaster, giving hope to millions of Filipinos. Manny himself dedicated the win to Yolanda victims, saying "This is not about my comeback. My victory is a symbol of my people's comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy."

Just a couple of days later, however, Manny landed in the papers again, but this time under less desirable circumstances. News hit the media that Pacquiao's bank accounts were frozen since he supposedly hasn't proven to the BIR that he paid taxes in the 2008-2009 period. He allegedly has about P2.2 billion in back taxes. I think the point of contention now is that since he already paid taxes in the US - his winnings were taxed before he collected the prize money - he shouldn't be taxed again. Manny said that since his bank accounts were frozen, he had to borrow P1 million to donate to relief operations since he pledged to help out typhoon victims after his fight.

I don't know how this saga will play out in the end but needless to say, we will continue to see it in the news until it does.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Haiyan/Yolanda Aftermath

It's been about two weeks since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the Visayas region of the Philippines. This most horrific of natural disasters has been the worst that has hit the country in recent memory. As of today, the death toll is now 5,209 at more than 2 million people have been displaced. The damage is currently estimated at P22 Billion and while relief operations are ongoing, more help is still needed. A recent amateur video was published on youtube and the footage of the storm surge and how it just washed away a house is frightening.

video uploaded in youtube by itnnews

There are still a number of ways to donate. A good site to make a monetary donation via credit card or paypal is this site of the Philippine Red Cross: http://ushare.redcross.org.ph/. In this link, you can select the campaign to which you want to donate.

Thankfully, millions around the world have reached out to help the Philippines. The US, UK, Japan, and Switzerland are among the many countries that have donated several million dollars for relief efforts. International aid workers continue to head to the Philippines to provide assistance. News about 6-year-old Japanese boy Shoichi Kondoh and 6-year-old Russian boy Alexander Dzanaev who both donated the money in their piggy banks to Yolanda victims, made their rounds in the internet. Dozens of international celebrities have also helped out and they also encouraged their fans and followers to do the same.

Relief efforts are still being done and help is still badly needed so hopefully, as many of us can continue to do what we can.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

OneRepublic Live in Manila!

Okay so this blog post is two weeks late. However, I was looking forward to this concert for a really long time - I bought the tickets in late August, more than two months before the show - so I definitely still need to write about it. :)

I watched OneRepublic when they performed in Manila last November 6. Unlike the concert of The Killers where I was in the "mosh pit", my friend Meg and I sat some distance away from the stage at Upper Box B. I arrived shortly before 8pm, which was when the show was supposed to start, and to my initial dismay, I saw that the Smart Araneta Coliseum looked like it was only half full and I started feeling bad for OneRepublic. However, the show didn't start until about 30 minutes later (which was good as I had time to eat the overpriced Jamaican patties I bought there before getting fully settled). Just as the show was about to start, I realized that the coliseum was now packed. Awesome!

I have only one album of OneRepublic - the first one, Dreaming Out Loud - and I knew only a few of their songs from their succeeding albums (pretty much only those that they released internationally like Secrets, All the Right Moves, Good Life, and Feel Again, all of which they performed). This, of course, didn't stop me from fully enjoying their concert. What was fantastic was that most of the crowd seemed to know every song that they played that night. Every time they would start a new song, the crowd would go wild and in several cases, the people in the audience would be singing along. My friend Meg told me that she didn't expect to enjoy the concert as much as she did (she had already watched them perform live before in Singapore). You could sense that OneRepublic were feeding off all this positive energy, because at some point during the show, Ryan Tedder mentioned that they want to come back to the Philippines and do two shows! Their post on twitter after the concert proves just how much they enjoyed their concert here.

While I've always known Ryan Tedder to be a fantastic vocalist, hearing him live just made me a much bigger fan. He was able to easily slip from soft to loud and he effortlessly switched from chest tone to head tone like it was nothing. His ability to sing falsetto with just as much volume and projection as his normal chest voice was impressive, and he showcased his lung power by belting out some really powerful notes. He even went absurdly high in his falsetto range and each time he did, he got everyone in the crowd to cheer wildly. He also showed his artistic ability and control by playing around with his voice, going jazzy and stylizing a lot of notes. Absolutely brilliant!

I first discovered OneRepublic when I heard Apologize on the radio several years ago. Granted, what I heard was the Timbaland version. However, I was so drawn to that song that I searched it on youtube and kept playing it. I ended up buying both OneRepublic's "Dreaming Out Loud" CD and Timbaland's "Shock Value" CD. I even sang that song twice in company events and people had come to relate that song to me (it was a staple in my karaoke repertoire haha). So it was natural that the one song I was looking forward to hearing the most was Apologize. I wasn't disappointed. They even tossed in a bit of audience participation that made the experience really unique. Check out this video of their performance of Apologize:

video uploaded in youtube by isparkleen

I now know what I want for Christmas - the OneRepublic "Native" album! LOL I am hoping that they do come back to the Philippines like they said. If they do, I am definitely going to watch again and I will even try to get a front-row seat. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Last hurrah?

I was walking in Bonifacio High Street recently when I noticed that Kirin, the Chinese restaurant in that area, seems to now be closed. I'm not sure if it is permanent or if the restaurant is being renovated.

I hadn't eaten there in a really long time, up until a few weeks ago. It was a strange series of events actually. The inital plan was for me pick up my grandma, bring my mom and my nephew to his taekwondo class, take my grandma to the cemetery, pick up my mom and my nephew after his class, then have dinner before bringing everyone home. Sounds like a very long day with a lot of driving? Well, my grandma thought so too. So the moment we got to my nephew's taekwondo class, my grandma said she would just watch him in class and we didn't need to go to the cemetery again. I was thinking of where we would have dinner and I thought it would be nice to take them to a place where they hadn't eaten before yet. I figured Kirin would be a good place to go because my grandma enjoys Chinese food and my nephew loves Shao Long Pao (that's how they spell it here).

We over-ordered, which is what I usually do when I'm having a meal with my family because it means we get to try a lot of different dishes and we have enough left over to bring home for those who weren't able to join us. We enjoyed our meal and I've always liked the food here. If Kirin has indeed closed, at least we got to eat here just shortly before it did.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An evening of ballroom dancing

The last time I recall trying to learn ballroom dance was back in college. Through an interesting series of events, I ended up as part of the dance team of my department in an inter-department ballroom competition at work. All teams would have to perform a routine that consisted of boogie, jive, and cha-cha-cha.

This competition was the final event in our company sportsfest and our department was in a very good position to claim the overall championship. It would only happen if we had a good result in the ballroom dancing event. Talk about pressure!

To make matters worse for us, we finalized our roster only 3 weeks before the event, at which point other teams had already been rehearsing for a few to several weeks. We ended up practicing for about 2 weeks only but somehow we managed to put together a fun and entertaining routine.

We ended up taking third place, which is absolutely amazing considering the amount of time we had to practice. On top of that, because of our stunt-and-lift-filled routine, we had so much of the crowd cheering for most of our performance that we were also awarded crowd favorite. Cool! The best thing about the night however was that our department won the overall championship in our sportsfest. This was the first time we did this since 2009 and we definitely placed much better than we did last year (during which time we were 5th place).

I wanted to have a massive celebration last night but after the event, I started feeling extraordinarily tired. After a very late dinner with some of the colleagues, I headed home and got some much-needed rest. Ah well, I can always organize a late celebration next week. :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nadal is ATP year-end #1

He may have lost the final of the ATP World Tour finals to his current chief rival Novak Djokovic but Rafael Nadal posted enough solid results throughout the year to secure the year-end #1 ranking. It's a pretty impressive year: he won 10 tournaments, including 2 Grand Slam events and 5 Masters 1000 titles. He reached four more finals and two semifinals. Apart from that Wimbledon glitch, it was a very solid year.

By reclaiming the year-end #1 ranking, Nadal makes history as being the only player to reclaim the year-end ranking after relinquishing it on two separate occasions. He was #1 in 2008 and 2010 before taking the top spot again.

Congratulations, Rafa!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Yolanda storms through the Philippines: How you can help

Such tragic news. Less than a month since an earthquake devastated Visayas, the Philippines gets hit by another major calamity. Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) is said to be the strongest supertyphoon to ever make landfall, with sustained winds of up to 315 kph and gusts of up to a horrifying 380kph. The storm surge reached up to 15 feet in certain areas, submerging the first story of buildings (although some reports indicate that this may have gone up to 40 to 50 feet).

I had my TV on almost the entire night watching CNN, which covered, and still continues to cover, Haiyan/Yolanda. The news is just so heartbreaking. You can read a more thorough report on what has been happening so far in this article from CNN.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer facebook page shares some ways that you can help. Check them out here:

CNN also provides a link for people who wish to help internationally.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween with The Simpsons

Check out the amazing couch gag of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXIV. It is directed by Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim director Guillermo Del Toro and pays homage to a whole truckload of movies, horror and otherwise, throughout history. Can anyone name all the references? :)

video uploaded in youtube by ANIMATIONonFOX

Best. Simpsons. Intro. Ever.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Midnight snack at Old Swiss Inn

Old Swiss Inn is one of my frequent haunts when I'm really hungry and it's past midnight. There aren't a lot of non-fastfood restos that are open 24 hours and I do love the food here. A lot of the menu items are quite pricey but there are a couple that are less than P300. It also just so happens that my current favorite dish they carry is the Papet Vaudois which is part of their seasonal menu and costs a relatively affordable P250. a Swiss garlic sausage from Canton Vaud that is paired with a cheesy leek and potato stew. It's a perfect match because the creaminess of the potatoes provides a great counterbalance to the strong flavors of the sausage.

It's too bad that this dish is only part of the seasonal menu, which means it may be dropped at some point in the near future. If and when Papet Vaudois is no longer on offer, hopefully they bring back the Pork Parisienne which was one of my favorites in the seasonal menu a few years ago before it was dropped. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

A "scary" night at the movies

I had no interest to watch the 2013 version of Carrie but my friend Jane really wanted to see it and couldn't really find anyone to watch with her so I agreed to be her companion. I had some plans in Greenbelt earlier in the evening so we agreed to watch the last full show in Greenbelt 3. As it turns out, I was right in not really wanting to see it. While the effects were good and Julianne Moore put in an impressively solid performance as Carrie's abusive mother, I thought the film didn't really leave any strong impact. I thought that Chloë Grace Moretz, who played Carrie, was over-the-top. I can understand that she didn't want to do an imitation of Sissy Spacek's scary performance in the original 1976 film but I felt she didn't need to go that extreme.

I can't really say it was a horror flick since I didn't find it scary at all (not sure if it was meant to be), but I did have a truly frightening experience that night. As Jane and I were standing outside the cinema, I realized I didn't have my wallet with me! It must have slipped out my pocket as I was watching the movie. I rushed back into the theater but I couldn't find it in the area where we sat. As I was getting a bit frantic, I thankfully saw it lying on the floor a few feet away. Whew!

To add to the uniqueness of the evening, I decided to swing by J.Co Donuts 20 minutes before the movie just to see if there was a line. For the first time ever, there was almost no line! There were only three people there so I decided to go and get two donuts and a cup of coffee. It was the only time ever that I went to J.Co and got only two donuts instead of a full box. (Of course, it doesn't make sense to fall in line for half an hour to get just a couple of donuts so the only way I would get less than a dozen is if I don't have to wait more than a few minutes.) Cool!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


The last time I competed as part of a team in a company bowling tournament was more than seven years ago. In fact, before I hit the bowling lanes a few months ago, I hadn't really bowled in years as well. Nevertheless, our team somehow took third place in today's tournament. Woohoo!

It was sort of a come from behind top three finish as well. In the elimination round, our team didn't do very well. We managed to step up ever so slightly in the second game but so many other teams seemed to be doing really well so we weren't counting on getting to the final four anymore. Yet somehow we made it. And even in that final round, things weren't looking too good for us. It consisted of two round as well and our team was in fourth place after the first round of the finals. We were behind by about 34 pinfalls and the second round didn't start out that great as our team had many open frames. However, I think the team that started out in third place started playing poorly and we ended up edging them by a very slim margin of 14 pinfalls.

Our women's team did markedly better than us as they ended up overall champions for the women's division. We were the only team who had a podium finish in both the men's and women's division. To celebrate, we had dinner at Recipes where I ended up ordering two dishes and two cups or rice (and I almost polished off everything; clearly I was tired and hungry!)


The downside is that I lost a P500 bill. I must have inadvertently dropped it or I may have accidentally thrown into into a trash bin with some garbage I was holding. Damn. Oh well.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ms. Jackson by Outkast

So I'm kind of annoyed that Panic at the Disco just came out with a song called "Miss Jackson" when Outkast already has a song with that name (I mean, it's not like a generic song title like "Stay", "Breathe", "Home", or "Hold on"). So I'm re-sharing this song which was released almost 13 years ago to remind everyone what an incredibly great song this Outkast hit is.

video uploaded by Rapcity1Channel

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lucky Break

So I got stopped by traffic enforcers last Friday while turning left in what apparently was a no-left-turn intersection. I made the mistake of seeing only the no-U-turn sign and not the no-left-turn sign. I told the traffic enforcer that I didn't see the sign but the enforcer started preparing to write out my ticket. I asked him if I could get my license back on Saturday but he said I could only get it during weekdays, meaning that I would have to get it on Monday. I heaved a heavy sigh and just resigned myself to the fact that I would get a ticket for a traffic violation.

Just as I started to wonder what violation I would be charged with (I was hoping it wouldn't cost as much as my previous ticket), the enforcer all of a sudden tells me that he will just let me go with a warning. He asked for my license receipt and he made a notation there indicating that I had been warned already. I was very pleasantly surprised and I thanked the officer before driving off. What a lucky break.

Friday, October 18, 2013

More ways to help the Earthquake victims

I read that rescuers are now struggling to find more survivors of the earthquake that rocked Visayas a couple of days ago. The death toll is now close to 200 but people are still missing. If you are interested to help, here is a link to Rappler.com that provides a very comprehensive list of organizations that accept donations in both cash and kind.

Link: Help the Visayas earthquake victims

Ayala Foundation
photo from https://www.facebook.com/ayalafoundation

I also believe that Sagip Kapamilya of ABS-CBN Foundation and the GMA Kapuso Foundation are also accepting donations. I think Cebu Pacific

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Earthquake in Visayas

It's a tragic day. Earlier, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the Visayan region. BBC reports that the death toll has now risen to 93 with many more people suffering injuries. I'm watching the news as I write this blog post and it is heartbreaking to see how immense the damage is that was brought about by this natural disaster. People have now camped out in open areas since aftershocks continue to be felt in the region. My friend who has family in Bohol said that they now have experienced 320 aftershocks. That's all in less than 24 hours!

Bohol has been the worst-hit of all the provinces in Visayas since the epicenter of the quake was near the town of Carmen, which is where the world-renowned Chocolate Hills are. Unfortunately, that meant that this important landmark and tourist spot was not spared. This photo from http://www.philstar.com shows how bad the damage was to at least some of these beautiful limestone hills:

photo from http://www.philstar.com/ taken by Robert Michael Poole

Cebu and Bohol are two of the most important historical centers of the country and it's heartbreaking to see so many churches in ruins. The Basílica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu and the Baclayon Church in Bohol are two of the oldest churches in the country and both suffered major damage. Other churches that were severely impacted are Dauis and Loboc. I visited these churches when my family and I spent a few days in Cebu and Bohol last year and it's heartbreaking to see the damage to these historical landmarks. You can see more photos of heritage sites damaged by the quake here but here's a photo of the Loboc church as it looks now:

AFP Photo courtesy of http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/

And this is what Loboc church looked like before:

I read in www.gmanetwork.com that a Heritage Task Force will be deployed on Thursday to assess the damage and to map out plans for restoration. Hopefully, estimation and restoration efforts will be successful.

I'm still trying to gather more information on how people can help. The only ones I have now are the following, although I reckon the Philippine Red Cross is always a sure place to make a donation as they have now mobilized volunteers and staff to assess the Bohol earthquake.

Bohol Bloggers

La Sallian Community
COSCA will start receiving cash or check donations tomorrow (16 Oct 2013). You may send your donations directly to the DLSU Accounting Office by informing the Cashier to deposit these to the DLSU RELIEF FUND. You are to be given a white and yellow official receipt as proof of your donation. You may provide one copy to Ms. Jan Trampe, COSCA Relief Officer to acknowledge your donation.

For any inquiries, please contact Mr. Joseph Rosal, COSCA Coordinator for Community Engagement at 525-4267 or local 147.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Rafa back at #1

He may have lost the final of the China Open to chief rival Novak Djokovic - only his fourth loss this year - but Rafa Nadal has now earned enough points in the last 12 months to take over the ATP tour #1 ranking. Congratulations, Rafa!

Nadal has now reached the finals of 13 of the 14 tournaments he has played this year, winning 10 of them. With only a handful of tournaments remaining in the 2013 season, Rafa's chances of clinching the year-end #1 ranking have significantly improved with this result. Apart from being able to remain at #1, I am also hoping he can win the World Tour Finals for the very first time this year.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Bling (Confessions of a King) by The Killers

A few days later and I'm still suffering from The Killers withdrawal LOL so I keep listening to their music now. This song from Sam's town is currently my favorite song of theirs. (I'm so glad they performed it here.)

video uploaded in youtube by Anthony King

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Killers Live in Manila!

The Killers finally made it to Manila! Last Thursday, they performed live at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and I was there to witness their amazing concert.

My friend Beck and I got Patron tickets, and since this was the standing area - or mosh pit as I would like to call it - we got there at around 6:30 P.M. to make sure we could be as close to the front as possible. Even then, there was already a pretty big crowd in front of us by (there were probably about 10-12 rows of people in front of us). The opening act, Sandwich, performed a few songs at around 8 P.M., and it was around 9:30 P.M. when the Killers finally took the stage.

I remember being very disappointed when they cancelled their Asian tour back in January 2010. (Lead vocalist Brandon Flowers unfortunately lost his mother to cancer in February 2010 and the tour was cancelled so he could be with his mother in her last days.) More than three years later and finally, The Killers make it to the Philippines. Brandon even said so, telling the audience "Mabuhay! Sa wakas, The Killers are here" or "...are in Manila" and adding "thank you for not giving up on us." It was definitely worth the long wait.

The concert was perfect for their fans as their repertoire consisted of their best and most popular songs from all their albums. They opened with Mr. Brightside which caused the crowd to go into a frenzy. I will say that I was annoyed that everyone in the crowd was singing along to that song - and not very well! LOL - and I couldn't hear Brandon very well. But of course that was expected. Apart from that, they performed Smile and Somebody told me from Hot Fuss, Bling (Confessions of a King) and Read my mind from Sam's Town (which I think is my favorite album of theirs so far), and Spaceman and Human from Day and Age. I don't have their Battle Born and Sawdust albums but they did some songs from those two as well. (Check out their full set list here.) Of course, the concert featured Brandon's keyboard that is set-up as the lightning symbol in their Battle Born album.

While I can't be completely sure, I think The Killers were pleasantly shocked that the audience that night knew and loved all their songs, even the less popular ones that weren't released. When the audience immediately recognized For reasons unknown during the intro and started to cheer, Brandon said "You know this one?" And when they followed up that song with From here on out, the audience once again cheered wildly and Brandon said with a massive grin on his face "You know this one too?"

I will say that Brandon Flowers has become one of my favorite lead vocalists of a rock band. He has an amazing voice: powerful, clear, unique, and instantly recognizable. On top of that, he performs with a fiery passion that comes straight from the heart and the gut. That his performance level is matched by the rest of the band makes for an incredible show.

Once The Killers "closed" the concert with All these things that I've done and the band cleared the stage, the clamor for an encore was astounding. Chants of "We want more" and loud cheers filled the Araneta Coliseum and people even started singing again the anthemic "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" line from All these things that I've done. The band finally came back on stage and treated everyone to an amazing encore that included Jenny was a friend of mine and When we were young.

By the time the lights were all turned back on and the crowd made its way to the exits, I had been standing already for more than five hours. Needless to say I was tired and I had lost my voice but it was all worth it. I'm now in kind of a state of withdrawal, listening to their albums that I have to relive my excitement. I don't know what the odds are that they will return to Manila to perform, but I certainly hope I can see them in concert again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

UP places 2nd in cheerdance

It was bound to happen at some point, but I was hoping the UP Pep Squad could match UST's 5-championships-in-a-row from 2002 to 2006 before they eventually lost the title. Unfortunately, they got dethroned by a hungry NU and ended up in 2nd place. Nevertheless, UP maintained its unprecedented streak of having a podium finish in eighteen consecutive UAAP Cheerdance competitions. They got hit by a couple of major falls but overall, it was still a pretty good and entertaining routine.

video uploaded in youtube by TheABSCBNNews

(Sidenote: the DLSU Animo Squad had the best costume and props hands down, although the quick-change of UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe was pretty impressive too.)

UP clearly looked disheartened with their loss but hopefully they can bounce back and get back to their championship ways next year. Good job, UP Pep Squad!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pinoy youtube sensation on Ellen

Aldrich Lloyd Talonding was invited by Ellen a few months ago to perform in her show after she saw a video of him performing "Dance with my father" on youtube. Somehow her message reached him as he and his cousin James (who plays the guitar while he sings) made it to "Ellen" a few days ago. Check it out here:

video uploaded by MrNoypistuff

Aldrich has an amazing voice, with great control, power and expression. (He also speaks English quite well and apparently he did practice his English before flying to the US.) What makes this performance more moving and what gives it even more meaning to him now is the fact that he actually did lose his father last June.

Fantastic job, Aldrich and James! And thanks a lot to Ellen for providing many Filipinos a global platform on which to perform.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Charice in the Guinness Book of World Records

Charice makes global news as she has been listed in the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. She was 20 years and 150 days old when she mentored KZ  Tandingan, who won the the first season of the X Factor Philippines in October last year. This means that Charice is the youngest winning judge in any X Factor franchise globally. I don't know if there will be other X Factor shows that feature a younger judge in the future but I do hope Charice can keep this record for a while.

Way to go, Charice!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Wildflour Croissant-Donut

One of the most popular items in the foodie world at the moment is the "Cronut" (although I understand that the word "Cronut" has pending trademark applications filed in the US and internationally by Chef Dominique Ansel and as such shouldn't be applied to any donut-croissant hybrids). Cafe France, Krispy Kreme, and Le Coeur de France all have their version, but it was Wildflour that seems to have started the trend in the Philippines. I had dinner there late last week with my friends, and while we were having coffee after an exceedingly heavy meal, a waitress approached us, telling us that they still have cronuts available and asking us if we wanted to try it. It's very difficult to get a cronut in Wildflour and even if you order in advance, it'll take a few days before you can get your order. So when the chance presented itself, we decided to get two cronuts.

The verdict? It's good. But when I had my first taste, I wasn't particularly sure yet if it lived up to the hype. When we had a slice each that evening (you can see one cronut missing a portion in the picture above LOL), we were all absolutely stuffed and we had just consumed a slice of salted chocolate cake that was really good. At that time, I felt that the cronut was overrated.

However, several hours later, I ate the rest of the cronut that we partially consumed while still at the restaurant (I took home both cronuts we ordered) and it tasted a lot better and didn't seem as overrated as my first bite. Even the day after, the other cronut still tasted good. I will say that the Wildlfour cronut is miles better than the Cafe France one.

So after thinking about it, I will say that the Wildflour croissant-donut is actually pretty good (albeit a bit greasy) and I wouldn't mind having one again. It is not cheap at P120 but it sort of lives up to the hype. That said, I surely won't wait in line for a long time for it nor make an effort to order several days in advance.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rafa wins the US Open!

The King of Clay has extended his domain to the hard courts. Rafael Nadal wins the US Open trophy for this second time in his career, beating Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Rafa by the numbers:

  • Major title #13. Nadal is now on solo 3rd place in the all-time men's list, behind Federer (17) and Sampras (14)
  • Tour-leading 10 titles, reaching the finals in 12 of the 13 tournaments he's played
  • 22-0 on hard courts this year. Hard court title count: 1 major, 3 masters. Impressive!
  • 60 wins, 3 losses in 2013
  • #1 in the ATP Race to London, and will be more than 3000 points ahead of Novak
  • First person since Andy Roddick in 2003 to win the Montreal Masters, Cincinnati Masters, and the US Open all in the same year
  • First person since Roger Federer in 2007 to win the US Open Series and the US Open, which meant that Nadal takes home $3.6 million in prize money. Wow!!
  • Grand Slam title count: 8 on clay court. 3 on hard court, and 2 on grass

photo by Clive Brunskill (Getty Images)

It was a strange (and stressful!) match, with its share of highlights and momentum swings. Rafa was dominant in the first set before Novak found his form in the second set and started playing incredibly well for a set and a half. The third set proved immensely crucial. Rafa was playing catch up mode for most of that set, with Novak up a break early before Nadal leveled things a few games later. The turning point had to have been that ninth game. Djokovic was up 0-40 with three break points. If he won that, he would have served for the set and have gone up 2 sets to 1. Instead, Rafa fought back, went up 5-4, then opportunistically took advantage of the break point he earned in the next game to win the set. Just like that, Novak lost steam and it was all Rafa in the fourth and final set.

This win now means that Nadal has beaten Djokovic six times in their last seven matches. It's a huge turnaround from 2011, when Novak was near-invincible and beat Nadal seven times in a row. Nadal now leads their head-to-head 22-15 and they have split their Grand Slam final meetings 3-3.


On the women's side, Serena won her 17th Grand Slam title, beating Azarenka in straight sets. Serena is head and shoulders above the rest of the women and while she is 31 years old, she is playing as consistently well as she ever has (I'd say she is playing just as well if not better than she did when she dominated in 2002-2003). While Steffi Graf will forever be my favorite player, I wouldn't be surprised if Serena equals or even surpasses Graf's Grand Slam count.


If Rafa Nadal plays enough tournaments for the remainder of the year and does decently well in them, he will almost certainly reclaim the #1 ranking from Novak Djokovic. When the rankings are updated on Monday next week, Rafa will be only 120 points behind Novak and with no points to defend the remainder of the year, the #1 ranking is within reach.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major

I heard this soul-stirring piece composed by Johann Sebastian Bach while watching an episode of the now-defunct Emily Owens MD. I loved it so much that I noted down its title and searched it on youtube. (Thank God for youtube and the internet!) Check it out here, performed by Denise Djokic.

video uploaded in youtube by cbcradio3

There's just something about a cello's sound that is so powerful and moving. It perfectly matches the melody of this hauntingly beautiful piece.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Buffet lunch

One of my friends, Joyce, felt bad for me earlier this year when I was having severe stomach problems and could barely eat anything that she gave me a voucher for a lunch or dinner buffet in Heat, one of the restaurants in Edsa Shangri-La Hotel. Somehow I wasn't able to use it until today. I woke up a lot earlier than I normally do during weekends and I ate some of my leftovers from the night before for breakfast at around 7AM. By noon, I was feeling really hungry so I thought the timing was perfect for me to have a buffet meal.

Not surprisingly, I ended up eating a lot. When I finally laid out all my plates of food in front of me, I thought for a second I wasn't going to be able to eat everything. Somehow, I did. :)

And as if all that wasn't enough, I followed up my main meal with a plateful of dessert.

The buffet comes with coffee or tea but no softdrinks or iced tea (a can of softdinks or refillable iced tea here costs a whopping P220+ after tax and service charge). Needless to say, I was absolutely stuffed after my meal and I didn't eat again until several hours later. Thanks to my friend Joyce for the awesome buffet!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Can't Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton

This is my current favorite song. (In case you're wondering, Ryan Lewis is the producer. Ray Dalton is the guy whose impressive vocals you can hear throughout the song.) "Can't hold us" also has an amazing music video and, according to wikipedia, "shooting took place for three months, in 6 continents and 16 different shoots." Check it out here:

video uploaded in youtube by Ryan Lewis

It's no surprise then that "Can't hold us" bagged trophies for Best Cinematography and Best Hip-Hop Video in the recently concluded MTV Music Awards.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Family Weekend Celebration

To celebrate the birthday of my nephew, I used my ensogo voucher to book a 2-bedroom suite at Fraser Place in Makati for my family. Since my nephew had taekwondo (and had to be accompanied there by my brother), my other nephew had a school event, and my mom had work, I checked in with my grandmother "Nanay" ahead of everyone else. We all got together by around 6 PM and we decided to go to nearby Relish at Ponte for dinner. This restaurant never fails to deliver and once again, we all enjoyed our food.

We opted not to get any dessert from Relish because earlier that day, I used another ensogo voucher to get a Marjolaine cake from Sugarhouse. Only a couple of us had a slice of cake once we got back to our Fraser Place room (although once we got home the next day, most folks had a slice and only a small portion of the cake was left). My nephew and my brother headed to the swimming pool while everyone just chilled and watched TV. It was a relatively calm night and most of us were asleep quite early.

After checking out the next day, we had lunch at Heaven & Eggs Rockstar in Glorietta 4 since my nephew loves the shoestring potatoes there. We noticed that they had banana bread and raisin bread on sale there from Baguio Country Club and Nanay seemed interested in the banana bread but she felt it was too expensive, which each loaf costing P200. I decided to get her one loaf anyway and we were pleasantly surprised when, with her senior citizen discount, we ended up paying just P142. Not bad.

After lunch, we spent some time in the mall to go shopping for gifts for my nephew. That way, he could choose the stuff he wanted. I ended up getting him a Ninjago Lego set while my mom got him a jacket and a shirt. Clearly my nephews are getting older because in the past, they would always ask for toys but now they are also interested in clothes.

I was supposed take Nanay to the cemetery to visit Tatay but it started raining very heavily so we had to cancel those plans. I ended up just bringing everyone home then passing by the mall to get some food for our dinner. (I managed to a lot of free food because of my credit card charge slips!) We then headed to church to catch the early evening mass.

It was a great but full weekend, and I just realized that most of my weekends recently have been quite full. I got sick recently and had to take a few days off of work and go to the hospital to see a doctor. Thankfully, this coming weekend is going to be a relatively relaxed weekend for me so I will take full advantage of that.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

June archive

While looking through my June 2013 blog archives, I realized I couldn't see most of my June posts. Only four entries were visible, and I realized I have no "previous" button in my blog to allow me to see previous posts. Since I don't know how to set up a "previous" button yet, I will use this to list down the links to all my June posts to help me find them if/when I want to.

June 1 - Trying out a couple of new places
June 2 - Shakey's V-League
June 3 - Allison Holker and Derek Hough back on DWTS
June 5 - Kimstore!
June 6 - Photobook party
June 7 - Tree Nursery Activities at Haribon's Buhay Punlaan
June 8 - Jhen and Jay's Wedding
June 9 - Madness by Muse
June 10 - Nadal wins a record-setting 8th French Open title
June 11 - Early Father's Day Celebration
June 12 - Happy Philippine Independence Day
June 13 - Catching up
June 14 - From Russia with Love
June 16 - Moscow: Kremlin and Red Square
June 18 - More Moscow Sights
June 21 - The Moscow Metro
June 23 - The Golden Ring: Sergiev Posad
June 25 - The Golden Ring: Vladimir and Suzdal
June 28 - St. Petersburg: Peter and Paul Fortress

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Spectacular Cecile Licad

So this post is almost two months late but last June 29, I took my mom to watch Cecile Licad perform in CCP in her concert aptly called "The Pianist's Pianist". The first time I saw her perform live was when she shared the stage with Lea Salonga and Lisa Macuja in last year's The Legends and the Classics. This time, the spotlight was just on her.

It was a brilliant show that demonstrated Cecile's genius with a piano. She was backed up by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra with Gerard Salonga as conductor. Her repertoire included two pieces from Hungarian composer Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 and the Totentanz. She also performed three encores. One of her encores was Manchega, a lively piece by American composer Gottschalk. This video is of a performance in 2003 of the same song:

video uploaded in youtube by tiklado07

As we stepped out of the theater, we noticed what seemed like a meet-and-greet area by the staircase. We confirmed that it was, so I told my mom to fall in line to get an autograph. Thankfully we were quick about it because as soon as my mom got in line (she was around the 4th or 5th person from the front), a whole horde of people queued up right behind her.

The biggest shame about my experience was that I organized and attended a tree planting event earlier that day in Real, Quezon and I had only one hour of sleep. As such, I ended up dozing off for a short period of time in the first half of the show. Damn! Thankfully, the food and coffee I had during intermission gave me enough energy to stay fully awake in the second half. I do recall that as soon as I got home, I fell asleep almost immediately and slept for 14 straight hours! Talk about being massively tired. Hopefully, I get to watch another of Ms. Licad's brilliant performances in the future.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


While I haven't seen a movie in a few weeks, I did get to see a lot of films in the middle months of the year.

Pacific Rim
There are some holes in the story, the script could be better, and it comes with a fair share of cliches. However, the effects were superb and it was a thoroughly entertaining summer blockbuster. After all, you can't go wrong when you have giant robots battling giant alien monsters to save the world. :)

Monsters University
I thoroughly enjoyed this prequel of Monsters, Inc. I loved seeing how the friendship between Mike and Sully developed and it was great to see how they learned and combined to be the top-rated scaring team later in their careers. In true Pixar-Disney style, the story is brilliantly done and the character development is well-executed.

Now You See Me
I probably liked the first half of this movie more than the second half. This premise of this film is that four magicians combine to pull off massive crimes. I found myself at the edge of my seat early on, wondering what was going on and what was going to happen next. But at some point I started to feel that the magicians all just seemed too great and the FBI too inept. Then again, in the grand scheme of things, I guess it all made sense in the end. To quote my friend Ced, this movie seems like a cross between Ocean's Eleven and The Prestige.

Despicable Me 2
Strangely enough, while I did still enjoy this animated sequel, it somehow didn't live up to the hype as much. The minions were of course great fun to watch but there were a couple of scenes where I felt the production was just trying to milk the entertainment value of these cute and loveable creatures a tad too much. I think the first one was much better.

Man of Steel
From a conceptual standpoint, I didn't find much difference between this reboot and Superman Returns. Both movies try to show Superman in a different light to make audiences understand him better and relate to him more. However, there is one thing about Man of Steel that really rubbed me the wrong way: Superman didn't seem to care about who gets hurt or how much damage results from his monumental battle with General Zod and other members of his army. Superman should have attempted to bring Zod up in the air miles away from everyone else instead of going at him toe-to-toe inside the city, thus causing a lot more damage to a city already in ruins.

There were some movies I wanted to see but missed, like World War Z, White House Down, Fast & Furious 6, and The Wolverine. I guess I will just have to wait for the DVDs to come out or for these films to be featured on HBO or Star Movies.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nadal wins again!

What a year this has been for Rafael Nadal. On Sunday, he defeated John Isner 7-6 7-6 to win the Cincinnati Masters. Congrats, Rafa!

This is the first time Rafa won this title, and it also means that he has now gotten to the finals of all nine Masters 1000 events at least once. Just how great has this year been for Nadal? Here are the numbers:

  • 1st time to win the Cincinnati Masters
  • #2 ranking on Monday as Rafa moves past Andy Murray who will drop to #3
  • 3 hard court Masters 1000 titles this year.
  • 4th player in history to win the Canada-Cincinnati Double (Andy Roddick last did this feat in 2003)
  • 4 consecutive Masters 1000 tournaments this year
  • 5 Masters 1000 titles in 2013, tying the record set by Novak Djokovic in 2011
  • 26 Master 1000 titles in his career, the most of any player in history.
While no one else has more success on hard courts this year than Nadal, he isn't a lock to win the US Open which starts next week. Djokovic is still the #1 players in the world and is always a threat while Andy Murray is the defending champion. Roger Federer, who drops to #7 his week (his lowest ranking in more than a decade), gave Rafa a tough match in Cincinnati, as did Berdych and Isner. Del Potro is also doing well. Hopefully, Nadal's solid wins on hard court this season give him enough confidence to do well in, or even win, the last major event of the year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Traffic ticket

Such a hassle that I'm out P2000. My fault really. I was driving in Bonifacio Global City rushing for a 10AM appointment and for some strange reason, the traffic was horrible. I was at an intersection needing to turn left but stuck behind a lot of other vehicles. When the traffic light was green for cars going straight ahead and turning left, the cars in front of me were still not moving. I thought that maybe there was something preventing them from going straight, so since I needed to turn left, I moved out of my lane to get past them.

As it turned out, there was an officer at the intersection controlling the traffic and he asked me to stop. Damn. I ended up getting a ticket for a counterflow violation. To make matters even just that more difficult, I had to get my license in Bicutan. Ugh. The "icing on the cake" was the fact that my violation actually required me to pay P2000. That certainly hurt. Oh well. Just need to make sure it doesn't happen to me again.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dinner at Opus

A couple of months ago, I purchased a Deal Grocer voucher for food at Opus Restaurant and Lounge. I had been there a few times before but only for drinks. However, a friend of mine told me that the food there was superb and that I should try it. It is quite expensive there so when I saw a discount voucher at Deal Grocer, I decided to give it a go.

I ordered the U.S. Angus Beef Wellington (P980) which pretty much used up the full value of my voucher. However, it was money well spent as I was absolutely blown away by it. The beef was perfectly cooked and the pastry was just that right mix of soft and crunchy that matched perfectly well with the meat. There was some kind of filling or marinade between the beef and pastry that elevated the flavor profile of what already was a fantastic dish. I took a photo before diving in but the picture doesn't do it any justice.

U.S. Angus Beef Wellington

I was initially thinking of ordering dessert but by the time I got through my meal, I was stuffed. Note that I was served some bread while waiting for my meal (even the bread was incredibly good!). I'm now hoping that another discount voucher for Opus becomes available because I really want to go back there again and try more items in the menu. That U.S. Angus Beef Wellington is one of the best meals I've ever had.

Friday, August 16, 2013

U.P. Streetdance Club win Bronze at the World Hip Hop Dance Championship

Congratulations to the U.P. Streedance Club who took home third place in the recently concluded World Hip Hop Dance Championship in Las Vegas. They competed in the Megacrew division and apparently they also won bronze last year in this competition organized by Hip Hop International. Check out their 2013 award-winning performance here:

video uploaded in youtube by OfficialHHI

Way to go, U.P. Streetdance Club!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Busy Saturday

Weekends are supposed to be a time to relax and re-energize. Somehow that didn't happen last Saturday. I started out being late for a lunch party for Majel's children in Windmills & Rainforest. Majel and her family are based in Singapore and since it was a long weekend over there, they decided to come home to throw a party for the baptismal of her youngest and to celebrated two belated birthdays of her other two kids. It has been a while since I've seen Majel so it was good to catch up with her.

The party ended shortly before four so I had some time before my early dinner to get a haircut. The last time I got one was in April, a whopping four months ago! I keep telling myself I should have haircuts more frequently but somehow I never manage to get it done. :)

I ended up arriving at Stockton Place in Legazpi Village a few minutes before 6pm, making me early for dinner. As it turns out, I still wasn't the earliest there. Aries and his family overestimated the traffic last Saturday and somehow ended up in Makati at around half past five. Everyone else got there a bit late so it allowed me to catch up with Aries, who has been living in the UK for a while now.

I have to say that the food in Stockton Place is good but overpriced and the portion size is really small. I was initially planning to order the Crispy Pork Belly (P650) but when Aries and Audrey decided they were going to order it, I changed my order to the Poached Chicken (P550). Good move on my part because, while the portion size of my chicken wasn't huge, the pork belly was tiny! P650 for one strip of pork belly was a bit shocking, and while Aries shared his dismay, I was just thinking "thank God I changed my order". :) The steak that Lala, Kermin, Jed, and Ods shared was pretty good although you are required to order at least 800 grams of the steak so their steak cost about P3600. I'm not sure I'm all that interested to try Stockton Place again.

I had to leave just shortly after Letlet and Gosh arrived. Their plan was to head over to Jed and Ods place to watch the Gilas Pilipinas game versus South Korea after dinner. Unfortunately, I was double booked that night since I was also organizing a despedida at 8pm so I had to say goodbye at 7:30 before making my way to Centerstage in Makati.

My friend Basil was about to be assigned abroad so I gathered the troops to give him a proper send-off. And what better way to do that than through karaoke? I had a Deal Grocer voucher for a room in Centerstage that was perfect for us to use, especially since it's been ages since we all spent the night singing our lungs out in a videoke bar. I booked the room at 8pm and told Mari, who was one of the first people there, that my voucher was valid for five hours. She said that she thought five hours was too long and I disagreed. As it turned out, I was right. :) The fact that there were a few people there that night whom we haven't seen in a while meant that there was a whole lot of catching up to do amidst the singing. Before we knew it, it was already 1am and we were paying the bill.

As we were heading out, we all realized we were hungry and I told people jokingly we should go to IHOP which is open for 24 hours during the weekend. People then started saying "I haven't been there yet." Apparently, out of the dozen of us there, only three of us had been to IHOP before so we decided to go there for a post-karaoke meal.

Despite the very long and tiring day, I got home feeling quite energetic. Maybe it was because I got to spend some really good time with a lot of good friends and even seeing some people whom I haven't seen in a while. Or maybe it was the sugar rush from my IHOP meal. :) Whatever the reason, it was definitely a memorable day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pistachio Sans Rival from Delize

I promised myself last Christmas that I would try the Pistachio Sans Rival from Delize at some point soon. It took several months but I finally got to place an order for this highly rated dessert for my mom's birthday celebration.

The verdict: it definitely lived up to the hype. It has just the right ratio of butter icing and chewy meringue layers, and generous sprinkling of chopped pistachios gives this delicious dessert a unique twist. As is the case with any sans rival, though, the main difficulty in eating it is getting a slice without ruining the rest of the cake. :) (Make sure you use a serrated knife; a bread knife will definitely not work!)

The Pistachio Sans Rival from Delize costs P950 and you have to order it at least two days in advance.

Delize by Jill Sandique
Address: 33 Sunrise Drive, Cubao, Quezon City
Tel: 721-7022
Mobile: 0922-826-2673

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rafa Nadal wins in Montreal

Rafael Nadal reasserted himself as the best player of 2013 by winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Congratulations Rafa!

Nadal won his 8th title of the year, more than any other male player, and he has now reached the final of 10 of the 11 tournaments he has played. (The only tournament he competed in where he failed to get to the final was Wimbledon where he had a shocking loss in the first round.) This is also Rafa's 25th ATP Masters 1000 title, improving the record he already holds.

This win moves Rafa up to #3 in the rankings and increases his lead atop the Race to London (which counts only the points earned so far in the year). The most significant match he played during the tournament was a hard-fought semifinal match against World #1 Novak Djokovic that had to be decided in a third set tie-break. After losing to Djokovic in Monte Carlo, Rafa has now beaten Novak twice in a row. This also means that after seven straight losses against Novak in 2011, Rafa has now won 5 of their last 6 matches.

Nadal has now won the two hard court tournaments he played this year (both of which are Masters 1000 events) and he hasn't lost on the surface yet. Hopefully this is a good sign for him going into the US Open which starts in couple of weeks.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Family celebrations

A couple of days over the last week were spent celebrating some important family dates. Last weekend, my family and I went out to celebrate my brother's birthday. I had a couple of options for our dinner venue but people kind of got stuck in bad traffic. Since my nephews wanted to watch Pacific Rim, we headed to Superbowl in Glorietta 4 about an hour before the last full show would start. As it turned out, my brother and my nephews agreed to just watch the next day. In any case, we all hadn't eaten in Superbowl in a really really long time so it was good for us to enjoy a meal here again.

We passed by Krispy Kreme after dinner so I could get some coffee and because one of my nephews really wanted a Krispy Kreme donut. I ended up getting a half dozen because my grandmother saw the wide selection of donuts and she ended up wanting to try three of the flavors. As if that wasn't enough, I also used one of my Ensogo vouchers to get a New York Cheesecake from Sugarhouse. And since good things come in threes, to round out our dessert take-home loot, my brother also got a box of Gigi cupcakes. I don't know exactly which flavors I got to try but they were good; I definitely wouldn't mind having more of those.

This weekend, since Friday was declared a public holiday, my family got together again, this time to celebrate the birthdays of my mom, my grandfather "Tatay" who passed away more than a year and a half ago, and Mama Guading, who also passed away in 2011 just a few days before her birthday. I was unable to join the rest of my family when they went to the cemetery to visit Tatay since my mom just called me on Friday morning to let me know what the plans were.

Instead, I met up with them in Alba Restaurante Español in Polaris Street in Makati for a really late lunch. We missed the lunch buffet since we got there at close to 2pm. But that turned out to be a good thing because my mom had only ever tried the buffet in Alba so our birthday lunch for her was the first time she got to order a few à la carte items.

We passed by Papa John's along Jupiter Street to get some pizza before paying a visit to Mama Guading's family. My grandmother "Nanay" also brought cassava cake from Don Benito's. We spent some time catching up with Yaya Isot, Mama's sister. She told us that part of the cemetery where Mama's remains are kept was about to be demolished but thankfully it isn't Mama's section so there is no need to move her ashes. We shared some stories and memories about both Mama and Tatay before leaving.

The rest of the evening was spent in Shangri-La Mall which recently underwent some pretty major renovations. A couple of new wings were opened recently: North and East so we spent some time just walking around, checking out the new shops and restaurants. By the late evening, we had dinner in Balboa, an Italian restaurant at the East Wing. I thought the food here was pretty good.

It was a great long week of celebrations and remembering. That we got to experience a few familiar things and a few new things together as a family made our collective experience even better.