Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas reunions

Christmas, and consequently the entire month of December, is a time for meeting up with as many of your family and friends as possible so you can celebrate the holidays with them. Technically, I already had my first two Christmas reunions in the last week of November/first week of December. After those two, the next one, my company Christmas party, was the first of a massive succession of parties and get-togethers. During this event, for the first time in a long time, I actually won a minor prize during the raffle: a P500 Starbucks Gift Card. Cool. :)

A few days later, I joined my college friends for dinner and wine at Cav with Weng, who was home for a few days. It was in this trip that we learned that Cav would be closing right before Christmas. That's quite sad considering that I had many fun trips to this awesome place. Lala, our resident wine expert, chose the wines for our group but I also made a few trips to the wine "vendo machines" to try their other selections. I also ordered a shrimp dish for my dinner.

A few more days later and I met up with my friends from my second job. We had dinner at Kushikatsu Daruma in Uptown Mall in BGC. It is known for its kushikatsu or Japanese skewers of fried meat and vegetables. There are lots of signs that remind people not to double dip in the sauces which are really good. I also liked the bright interior and the fun vibe of the place. After dinner, we moved to Paper Moon for coffee and mille crepe cakes. (I really do love this place.)

I was double-booked a couple of nights later. First, our department at work celebrated our own Christmas party. As a new hire, I helped organize the event with the other new hires and I was also asked to emcee and to sing. It's been a while since I emceed and sang at an event but it turned out quite well. I also won a bottle of wine during our raffle. Cool! After the party, I headed over to Marriott in Pasay to meet up with my friend Tim and his fiancee Janice. It's been about a year I think since I saw them last and they were only free to meet up that evening because they were heading to Tagaytay for 3 nights before Tim had to leave for the UK so I made sure to meet up with them.

A couple of days later, I joined my high school friends for our Christmas get-together at Aruga in Rockwell. It was the first time that we had a holiday staycation. Mitch brought their Ticket to Ride: Europe game which they hadn't played yet. I also had never played it before (I had only played the original and the Asia versions) but I was familiar enough with it that I was able to teach everyone else the rules. It was really interesting and the most challenging Ticket to Ride I've played. After the game, we shared stories until the wee hours of the morning before calling it a night.

On Christmas day, I had lunch at my uncle's house where my extended family on my father's side had our annual reunion and celebration. We didn't plan anything on my mother's side - we had just had dinner at Tita Ace's several days earlier to commemorate the death anniversary of my grandfather and I guess that served as our Yuletide celebration - so my mom and I visited my grandmother and we had a simple dinner get-together.

The next day, I met up with my boardgaming friends at Ludo in Makati. I missed the bigger game night we had earlier in the month due to illness so I'm happy that I got to play before the month and the year ended. Unfortunately for us, Ludo closed early that night so we were only able to play one long game and one quick game. The long game was Terraforming Mars. It was my first time playing this highly rated game and it was indeed pretty good. I ended up in 2nd place, only one point behind Jovan.

After that, we had time for a very quick game: Rhino Hero (giant edition). There's a smaller, playing card-sized version but the game we played was massive. The gameplay is kind of like a reverse Uno Stacko since you keep on adding to the stack. The tower we built was really tall so we had to stand on our chairs towards the end of the game. We realized that if we play the giant edition, we have to stack it on the ground and not on a table. :)

The following evening, I met up with my college friends for dinner at Cafe Madrid in Estancia Mall. Considering that it was a weeknight, it was cool that a lot of us were still able to make it. I believe this place is owned by Terry's Gourmet so the food was pretty good, as expected. Unfortunately, I had to leave relatively early because I was already running on fumes and I still had work the next day.

Finally, a couple of days later, I joined my friends from our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) org in my previous company for our Christmas get-together. We wanted to meet in BGC so I suggested Mogu. As it turned out, in our entire group, I was the only one who had eaten there before. I was glad that I suggested this place because everyone enjoyed what they ordered. For dessert and coffee, we moved to Larry's Cafe, where I ordered a souffle (I thought it was just okay).

Amazingly, a few tables away from us were my high school batchmates who were having their own mini-reunion. Kog and his wife Ina were there and I hadn't seen them since I had dinner at their place in Singapore in the middle of last year. Once my CSR friends left, I joined Kog and our other batchmates until we called it a night at close to 1am.

Obviously, it was a very busy few weeks of December and just writing about it now kinda wiped me out. :) I do have more friends that I am meeting up with in January. While it is quite exhausting to have so many get-togethers, I have to say that I am really fortunate and very grateful that I have so many great people in my life who want to celebrate the holidays with me.

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