Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Code Name Vivaldi by The Piano Guys

I was in a CD shop when I heard a song being played that really caught my attention so I checked what CD was playing. I learned that it was The Piano Guys and the song that I heard was was Code Name Vivaldi, a mash-up of the Bourne Identity Soundtrack and Concerto for 2 Cellos in G minor by Vivaldi. It's a brilliant and captivating piece:

video uploaded in youtube by ThePianoGuys

I now have their CD and I have listened to it multiple times already. There are a lot of amazing tracks in the album and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shipping from US via Forexworld

I recently discovered Forexworld, a relatively inexpensive way to get stuff shipped from the US to the Philippines. It was recommended to me by a couple of friends who have been using it for years now and I decided to try it out.

In the past, whenever I wanted to purchase something from Amazon.com (usually because the item I'm looking for isn't readily available in Manila), I would have it shipped to a friend in the US who would be traveling to the Philippines. More recently, my friends who were using the services of Forexworld told me that if I needed anything from the States, I could include my order in their shipment and just pay for my share of the shipping costs. However, I realized in the last few months that I wanted to order enough stuff from Amazon to fill up my own balikbayan box. As such, I asked my friends about Forexworld and decided to give it a try. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed and I have now in fact availed of their services twice now.

I placed my first order last December. I ordered several items from Amazon, a few of them bulky. Once Forexworld received all my stuff, it took about a month for my package to be delivered from the port in LA to my doorstep. (Note that it does take a few days for your order to be shipped once all items have been received by the warehouse.) Not bad.

Once my first package arrived, with all items complete and in good condition, I decided to place another order. Once again, it took about a month for my package to arrive.

Both of my packages were medium-sized (red box) so the shipping cost was about $45 each or about P2250. Payment can be done by depositing into the Forexworld BDO account which you can find in their FAQ. They apparently have an air shipment option if you want to get your stuff more quickly but it is of course a lot more expensive than the regular option. I now have a next set of items lined up for order but I'll probably wait til mid-May before placing my next set of orders. :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday Fast

I wasn't really sure whether I would successfully survive with just one full meal on Good Friday. After all, I've been exceptionally busy the last several weeks and I was running very low on energy. I guess I managed to get enough rest on Maundy Thursday though since my food intake yesterday consisted of the following:

  • Salt and Pepper Squid + Rice (my full meal)
  • small pack of uraro
  • two biscuits
  • three slices of cheese

I also decided not to have any dessert. Considering that I wasn't able to fast on Ash Wednesday and I also wasn't able to abstain on all Fridays of the Lenten season, I am happy that I was managed to have just one full meal on Good Friday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Superb 80-year old dancer

This has to be one of the most amazing performances I've seen on Britain's Got Talent. Paddy, who turns 80 in July, performed a ballroom dance routine with her partner Nico on the show. I'm guessing they really intended to throw people off by starting off the number quite slow and basic before going into overdrive. The stunts they pull off are just mind-blowing.

video uploaded in youtube by Britain's Got Talent

Amanda pressed her Golden Buzzer which means that Paddy and Nico go straight to the live semi-final. I'm slightly worried that they threw in their full array of stunts in this routine and audiences later on might not vote for them anymore but I certainly hope they do. I can't help but be absolutely impressed by Paddy's strength, flexibility, and poise. Hopefully they get really far in the competition, if not win it all. Good luck Paddy and Nico!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Philippines places second in the Street Child World Cup

What an incredible result this is. Last April 7, the Philippine girls' football team achieved a second place finish in the Street Child World Cup held in Brazil. Congratulations team!

This story is truly inspirational on so many levels. First, let's talk about the event itself and how amazing it is. Street children from all parts of the world get to experience competing in a sporting event that will allow them to develop teamwork and camaraderie while being able to travel to another country. This will surely be a life-changing experience for all of them and it will provide opportunities to its participants that can help them all have a better future.

Then of course there is the team's success. Reaching the finals of the Street Child World Cup is no small feat for a nation that has had little football success on a global scale. The girls easily beat their first three opponents - South Africa (9-0!), El Salvador (3-1), and England (6-0) before getting past Mozambique in the semifinals. That the team lost in the finals to to Brazil, a country that is arguably the most successful footballing nation in the world, by the smallest of margins (1-0) in a match that could have gone either way just goes to show how superb they are.

This impressive result has to be attributed in large part to Coach Roy Moore. This Englishman who currently lives in the Philippines (he is taking up political science in UP) is Executive Director of Fairplay for All Foundation. As part of this role and his desire to make a difference, Roy set up football teams in Payatas and Kasiglahan. I can't help but be inspired to see someone from another country be so immersed in trying to improve the lives of the underprivileged here. (Here's an 80-minute interview with Roy Moore on youtube where you can learn more about how he ended up in the Philippines.)

While Pacquiao's win over Bradley will be the top sporting result in April for most Filipinos, my vote goes to the Philippines' success in the Street Child World Cup. While the boys didn't do as well as the girls (they lost in the quarterfinals), this is just one of those events where no one is really a loser. Thank you to Roy Moore and Fairplay for all and congratulations to our amazing girls and boys teams!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Way to go, Manny!

Congratulations to Manny Pacquiao for reclaiming the WBO welterweight title by routing Timothy Bradley.

photo courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

While Manny was not as destructive as he was back in 2008-2009, he still won a unanimous decision by boxing smartly and effectively. He landed 198 punches to Bradley's 141 but what's even more amazing about this decisive win is that Manny actually landed 148 power punches, more than Bradley's total punches.

It's such a shame that Manny's record is marked with a previous loss to Bradley when in fact the WBO President later came out and said that after reviewing that fight, Manny should have won by unanimous decision and by a pretty comprehensive margin. Unfortunately, the WBO cannot overturn the official results of a fight so at least Pacquiao got his title back.

This was a well-deserved win a great way to reclaim a belt he should never have lost in the first place. After his back-to-back losses to Marquez and Bradley, Manny Pacquiao has now beaten two fighters in a row and is back to his winning ways. Hope Manny can continue on this path before he finally calls it quits.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie time

I finally got to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I was pleasantly surprised. It isn't your typical superhero movie. In fact, it was more like a spy film or an action thriller. While Captain America is significantly stronger, faster, and more durable than any human, he can still be hurt by "normal" weapons like guns, bombs, and knives (unlike the Hulk, Thor, or Iron Man when he's in his suit). The same is true with Nick Fury and Black Widow. As such, it doesn't take a supervillain to threaten their existence, although in this case, they do run up against the Winter Soldier who almost evenly matches Captain America in every respect.

Spoiler alert! Please stop reading now if you don't want to know what happens in the film.

As I mentioned, this movie had the feel of a spy thriller. Its revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been had successfully infiltrated over the decades by HYDRA leading to its subsequent dissolution makes for a very interesting storyline. How this will impact the rest of the Marvel franchise films that are coming up (I'm guessing the next one lined up is Avengers: Age of Ultron?) remains to be seen.

As is the new Marvel movie tradition, there are two bonus clips at the end of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One of them which is shown pretty early during the end credits introduces two new characters: Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (not sure when exactly we will see them next). The second clip is quite blah and not worth the wait.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Amazing Parkour skills!

A friend of mine shared this video with me recently. I didn't know who Damien Walters was. Well now I do. This guy is absolutely unbelievable!!

video uploaded in youtube by Amobea

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Celebration Saturday

It was a double celebration earlier this evening at my tita's house. Our family gathered to have a simple dinner to celebrate my grandmother's birthday and my cousin's graduation. My tita got chicken and chap chae from Bon Chon Chicken since apparently my cousin loves the food there but she also prepared a lot of other food, including rellenong bangus and kare-kare. The kare-kare was a hit; apparently, my tita had been experimenting with a lot of different peanut brands brands and variants to find the one she really liked. When I got there, I thought I was really hungry but once I polished off my plate, I realized I was not that hungry and I had just overeaten. As such, I no longer had any room for dessert so I wasn't able to try the yema cake from Caramia. Too bad for me.

It was almost 10pm when I left my tita's house. Thankfully, I was driving home quite late because there is currently a whole lot of work being done on EDSA, resulting in a few lanes being blocked off in certain areas. It took me a long time to get to my tita's house because the traffic was really bad due to all the road work but thankfully, I had already been alerted that EDSA traffic would be very bad so I knew what to expect. I can't imagine how Metro Manila driving will be once all those skyways get built over the next couple of years.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sony Open

Happy April Fools' Day everyone!

I wish it was just a practical joke brought on by the "holiday" but unfortunately for me, Novak Djokovic did just wipe the floor with Rafa Nadal in the final of the Sony Open in Miami last Monday. Novak is now getting very close to Rafa in their head-to-head (Rafa still leads but the record is 22-18 now) and Rafa's lead at the top of the ATP rankings has gotten even slimmer. Here's another interesting stat: Novak has now won the event four times and Rafa has lost in the finals of this same event also four times. I wouldn't be surprised if Djokovic takes over the #1 ranking within the next couple of months since Rafa has a ton of points to defend while Novak doesn't. Hopefully Rafa finds his form of last year again and starts playing significantly better as we go into the clay court season.