Thursday, July 31, 2014

Car trouble

Recently, I was driving my car on a Sunday when all of a sudden, it just stopped. Thankfully, there were no cars right behind me; otherwise I could have been rear-ended. I was able to restart the car but I was a bit worried. This concern was compounded when it happened a few more times later that day. Damn!

As this was a very dangerous situation, I decided to have my car looked at immediately at the car shop. As it turned out, there was a major problem with my fuel pump and the recommendation was for me to replace it. You can imagine how flabbergasted I was when the quote they sent me was worth more than P130,000+!

I could not afford that and even if I could, it didn't feel like the smartest use of money. Thankfully, my mom was able to find a mechanic, Randy, who had done great work for her some of her colleagues and had gotten very good reviews from them. His quote was a fraction of the amount quoted by the car shop so I decided to avail of his services. As if the much lower price wasn't good enough, he actually also picked up my car and then brought it back to me once the repairs were done. Wow!!!

Randy initially told me it would take three days to repair my car but I was able to get it after only two. On top of that, the final price was only 60% of the initial price he quoted. My car is now running quite well again. Brilliant. Thank you, Randy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Movie Watching Part 2

I had planned to open this blog post with a "Spoiler Alert" notice but after reading what I wrote, I realized this one doesn't have any spoilers. Just my overall impressions of the three other films I saw recently. :)


photo courtesy of

This movie is my favorite of 2014 so far. However, I initially had no plans to see it. But when an office friend asked me if I planned to see it and another friend told me a couple of weeks later that she saw it and really enjoyed it, I took that as a sign. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. It's fun, feel-good, witty, and thoroughly enjoyable. The only "problem" is that your mouth continues to water as you watch the movie and it makes you want to go on a food trip and splurge on really expensive food right after. :) I am definitely getting the DVD of this once it is out.

Step Up All In

photo courtesy of

This is the fifth film in the Step Up franchise but somehow it's the first one I got to see in the cinema. I guess I have Step Up Revolution to thank for this. That fourth outing is my favorite of the series and it urged me to go see this one. Dance fan that I am, I did enjoy the movie. I especially liked how they showed how difficult it is to earn a living as a professional dancer. My main issue with the casting is that I don't think the lead female dancer, Briana Evigan, was good enough to be in that role. IMO, compared to the other incredible dancers in the movie, her skills paled in comparison. Nevertheless, while critics may not rate this movie well, it was good fun. awesome dancing that included some pretty tight group choreography sequences.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

photo courtesy of imdb

Before anything else, I have to say that the CGI in this film is just truly astounding. The emotion on the apes was excellently depicted and the rendering and degree of detail is absolutely incredible. From a plot standpoint, what I found really interesting about this movie is that it uses its non-human lead characters i.e. CGI apes to provide the audience with a terrifying glimpse into the dark and ugly side of human nature. It's interesting to see how distrust can form due to different biases and life experiences and how this distrust can split people apart and turn allies into enemies. It is quite heavy to watch because of its theme but that's also what makes this movie great. I didn't see the Rise of the Planet of the Apes but you don't t need to see the first installment to understand what's going on in this one.

I'm still in two minds as to whether I want to see Transformers: Age of Extinction since a lot of folks said it was really dragging but if I can find some time in the next week, maybe I will go see it anyway.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Movie Watching Part 1

For the first few months of the year, I didn't really get to watch a lot of movies. Once I managed to catch Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, both of which sort of kicked off the summer blockbuster season, I somehow found a way to make time to see a handful of films in the last couple of months. I did miss out on a few movies, specifically X-Men: Days of Future Past and 22 Jump Street. Nevertheless, here's a quick run-through of some of the movies I did get to see.

*** Spoiler alert ***
While I don't delve too deeply in the details of each plot, I do share a few spoilers so if you don't want to know anything about these films, stop reading now.

How to Train your dragon 2

photo courtesy of imdb

I was, and still am, a huge fan of the first film so I made it a point to see this one. The animation is amazing although the story of part 2 was not as solid as the first. However, the brilliant climax, which had me cheering wildly on the inside as I watched it, is worth the price of admission. :)


photo courtesy of

I heard a lot of not-so-positive reviews but I decided to still see it and make up my own mind. I can see why other folks wouldn't be all that entertained, but I actually enjoyed it. Maybe because I had low expectations and was just after good monster fight sequences and great effects. :) I wasn't too happy about Godzilla's look though; he seemed a bit too fat or bulky, like he was on steroids. I also was a bit let down by how quickly he dispatched of one of the M.U.T.O's. I will say thought that the main theme is pretty kick-ass. I left the movie with that theme running in my head and every so often I would go listen to it on youtube. Check it out in this link.


photo courtesy of imdb

Before seeing the film, I already got a bit of a spoiler that it would show Maleficent's backstory. Similar to the musical "Wicked", this movie would show that she wasn't as evil as she was depicted in the 1959 Disney film "Sleeping Beauty". I wasn't so pleased with that idea because Maleficent is quite possibly my all-time favorite Disney villain and I wanted her to have always chosen to be evil. I think I somehow started to think of this movie like it was an alternate reality and so I started to enjoy it a lot more. The fact that Angelina Jolie put in such a superb performance made Maleficent even more compelling to watch.

A few more movies to come in my next post.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beatboxing at its best

Check out this video of Dave Crowe captivating passersby with his beatboxing. It is absolutely mind-blowing!

video uploaded in youtube by TheBeatBoxingTV

If you're a fan of beatboxing, check out that youtube channel or their facebook page. Lots of pretty impressive stuff on there.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Unfortunate Air Travel Disasters

Statistically, flying is the safest way to travel. So it is both shocking and terribly sad that we've had quite a few very unfortunate airline incidents recently.

We all know about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 back in March. The world still hadn't gotten over this when another Malaysia Airlines flight, this time MH17, became the center of a major international incident. News reports seem to indicate that this flight was struck by a missile last July 17. I thought this was the kind of thing you only saw in the movies; I never thought I would see something like this happen in real life.

As if these weren't enough, two more plane crashes followed. Domestic TransAsia Airways Flight GE 222 crashed in Taiwan on July 23. A day later (July 24), another plane, Air Algerie flight AH5017, crashed in Mali's Gossi region.

Hopefully this is the last horrific incident involving planes that we hear in a long while. In the meantime, let's all spare a thought and share a prayer for the victims of these very unfortunate disasters.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Wonderful World of Sports

Congratulations Germany for winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by beating Argentina 1-0 in extra time. I don't think there was a runaway favorite in the final, with both teams having a legitimate chance of winning. However, recent history has shown that the team that scored the most goals during the World Cup leading up to the final would end up winning; it was no exception this year. Germany now become the first ever European team to win on South American soil.

photo from , courtesy of Getty images

It was an amazing World Cup with a brilliant mix of expected results and massive shockers. There were a lot of upsets - defending champion Spain failed to make it past the group stage, along with Italy and England. As scintillating shockers go, however, none would have been as big as Germany's 7-1 demolition of Brazil in the semifinals. (There are a while lot of amazing stats but rather than list them all here, you can just take a look at this link from Sky Sports.)

That Brazil semifinal loss wasn't the only shellacking that happened in a major sporting event in the last several days though. In the women's final at Wimbledon last July 5, Petra Kvitova won her second trophy by being in the zone and dismantling Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0. After the minor blip in the first set when Kvitova lost focus and got broken while serving for the set at 5-2, she didn't drop another game. It was the most comprehensive Wimbledon rout since Steffi Graf beat Monica Seles in the 1992 final with the loss of only 3 games as well. I normally prefer watching competitive matches when I am not strongly rooting for one player but sometimes it's great to see someone at the top of their game, with winners just continually flying off their racquet. It was an absolute tennis master class!

photo from the, courtesy of Getty images

Petra must also be Novak Djokovic's lucky charm. The first time she won Wimbledon in 2011, Novak also won. The two are now both two-time Wimbledon champions. However, unlike Petra, Novak was taken to the absolute limit by Roger Federer who had great chances to win the title, including when he held breakpoint in the fifth set. Alas, it was not to be as Novak saved that point and Roger eventually folded when he served to stay in the match at 4-5. (Of course, it can be argued that this really was Novak's match to win since he served for the match in the fourth set and even held match point then before possibly succumbing to nerves.) This meant that Novak is now the #1 player in the world again, supplanting Rafa Nadal (too bad). It also prevented Roger from claiming a men's record 8th Wimbledon title and his 18th Grand Slam title overall.

photo from, courtesy of AFP

So a big congratulations to Germany, Petra, and Novak for their amazing recent sporting successes (all on grass, I might add. :))

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Disappearing act

My normally crazy schedule has just gotten that much more hectic recently, with so much stuff going on at work. As such, I haven't really been able to post much in my blog in the last few weeks. Despite the crazy schedule, however, I am happy that I have still managed to spend a lot of time with my family and friends.

Apparently, the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Makati is closing soon - in September I think - so my family decided to have lunch in Tin Hau a few Saturdays ago. We had lunch in Tin Hau last year to celebrate my grandmother's birthday and everyone loved the food, especially the Peking Duck two ways. We actually over-ordered, as usual, but that was fine since we just took home the rest of the food. I somehow find it sad that Mandarin is closing soon. It's been a fixture in Makati for as long as I can remember so it will kind of feel strange not to see it anymore.

I also had dinner recently at NBA Cafe in SM Aura with my college friends recently. Our friend Jed was in town and wanted to meet up. I have to say that my experience wasn't all that great. The layout of the place is a bit strange and we ended up being seated in sort of like the hallway section between two larger sections of the restaurant which meant that it was really difficult to get the attention of the waiters. That we were behind a large pillar didn't help. The food was good but a tad overpriced and the expensive softdrinks didn't have free refills. While we enjoyed the company amidst the not-so-great dining experience, we all found it incredibly rude when they turned the lights off in our section! Can you believe that? I'm guessing it was because the restaurant was already closed but if that was the case, they should have just informed us that they were closed already. Ugh. Given my not-so-great experience here, I doubt if I will visit again. I will say though that the decor is actually quite good, especially if you are an NBA fan. Particulary eye-catching is this wall of NBA team jerseys:

I also had dinner recently with my friends Zaza and Doms, both of whom I worked with very closely in our Corporate Social Responsibility organization at work. We had dinner in Saboten before going to Cold Stone for dessert. As if that wasn't enough, we headed to Chelsea for some coffee before calling it a night.

Seems like BGC is a popular place for me and my friends to meet up because my friend Me-Ann organized her despedida in Melo's in Burgos Circle (she was heading abroad for a long-term international assignment). It was my first time to eat here and I realized that the food here is extremely expensive (the cheapest item in the main course item was already more than P800 if I recall correctly).

As if that wasn't enough time spent in BGC, I went there one more time to attend the first birthday of the son of my friends Kog and Ina. The party was held in Active Fun. They live in Singapore but they decided to come to Manila so they could celebrate this big milestone with their family without their family having to all fly to Singapore.

Of course, it hasn't been all about Taguig. :) When my friend Anna was in town, she wanted the gang to meet up in the QC area. I suggested UP Town Center since I had been there only once before and there were a lot of dining options there. We had dinner in Kos Greek Ouzeri before having dessert and coffee in Dulcelin.

Just weeks after I saw Eliza and Marie for the first time in a while, we met up again. Still in the Ortigas area but this time in Brotzeit in Shangri-La Mall. Eliza had some really interesting stories she wanted to update us with since our very interesting discussions just weeks before. :) The food here is expensive but pretty good. We all ordered different sausages that were partnered with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut and we shared the dessert sampler.

Finally and most recently, I met up with my friends Jane, Sabrina and David in Rockwell to have dinner at Celadon. Sabrina suggested this Thai restaurant and since I had never eaten there, I thought it would be good to try it. The food was good although I think the Tom Yum Kung was a bit thin (although I am guessing it way have been watered down a bit because we asked for it to just be mildly spicy; my companions weren't too keen on very spicy food.) Eating here made me remember Sukho Thai, probably the first Thai restaurant I ever tried in my life. Too bad this resto has since closed down.

While work has been very heavy recently, I am planning to take some time off soon. Hopefully I can get to recharge and spend even more time with family and friends then.

Thursday, July 03, 2014


My dear friend Liza passed away last week. :-(

I found out when our friend Acky shared the unfortunate news with me last Monday. She tried calling me but since I could not take her call, she texted me instead. I was shocked and in disbelief, so much so that I had to ask if she was sure about the news. She said that unfortunately it was confirmed. Getting what has so far been the saddest news of the year was an incredibly sad way to start the week. I couldn't focus nor get any work done for most of that day.

I went to the wake a few days after she passed away but I was unable to go to the funeral. I will continue to pray for Liza and her family that she left behind. While I am deeply saddened by this, I will always remember the many wonderful moments I got to spend with her when she was still with us.

Rest in peace, Liza.

video uploaded in youtube by Sergio Montanari