Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year-end Thoughts

Will you look at that? The year's about to end in less than 10 hours (Philippine time). It seems like only yesterday when I made my 2011 resolutions, now I have to make one for 2012. I looked at at the goals I set last year, now looking back, I'm glad I was able to keep some of them.

I was able to travel and appreciate the Philippines more. I faced my fear of getting my tooth extracted. I managed to give something for charity. I now eat more veggies than I used to (it's still not enough but it's still better than what I used to consume which is close to zero). I bought a bike recently for the purpose of exploring the town more and help me save from Trike fare for my trips to the supermarket, post office and bakery --that makes me physically more active without going to the gym. And, mind you, replacing Tricycle as my mode of transportation helps me save the planet, little by little hehehe.

But I still can't cook. I haven't really gone organic and I'm still have not save. Actually, I did save a little but it's not significant enough to be considered as an improvement. But that's life anyway. I still have 2012 and there's a big opportunity to make up.

I'll probably post my new years resolution next year. Right now, I want to look back on some of the important things that happened.

When I look back at the year that had been, I think of the important people I lost. I lost my uncle, my mother's younger brother, Kuya Al. And though we're not really that close, I can't dismiss the fact that we have close blood ties, thus, he's an important part of my life. When I think about my cousins who lost a father, his wife who lost a husband, my mom and aunts who lost a brother, his friends who lost a buddy-- I get really sad. A few months before he died, he went to the house and we had a little chat together with my younger sister. We were asking him if his son was gay and he said no, that he talked him about it, but his son said no. We joked that he probably scared my cousin, but he was serious when he said that it'll be fine with him if he is gay, that he felt deep sympathy for people who are forced to live a dishonest life to conform with the standards that society had dictated. I regret that I didn't tell him that I'm proud of him, for breaking the macho stereotype of refusing to accept the reality that there are people who are different. He was a great father and his children love him deeply. I know that he's in a better place now with my grandparents and will continue to watch the family he had left behind.

My mom lost a very dear friend who also happened to be my brother's mother-in-law. It was supposed to be an expected passing. Tita Ruby had been sick for a long time and knowing the sufferings that she had to go through over and over, it was best for her to go. But still, knowing that she'll go earlier than any one of us, it still makes no difference. I realized that nothing really prepares us from the pain of losing a loved one. She was a very generous friend to my mom and was very dear to us. It's too bad that she didn't get to see her 4th grandchild, Magnvs Rei, but I know that she looks after him now specially when he has a strong resemblance to her.

Kuya Al, Tita Ruby, we miss you, I will never forget you. When I hear the Auld Lang Syne tonight as we transition to the new year, I will think of you and all the good memories you've left behind.

2011 is not all about loss, while I mourned losing people I love, I also celebrated the coming of the newest members of the family. My cousin Butchoy's girlfriend gave birth to Clyde then my sister-in-law, May, gave birth to Magnvs Rei. These angels (including my other nieces and nephews) from God never fail to make me smile and repel the stressors that prowl me. They are the future carriers of the values and bond that that my family have nourished all these years. May they all grow up like a fine men and women that we became.

When I look back at the things that happened, the good and the bad, I feel blessed in anyway. But when I think of the year that's about to come, it's a mixture of anxiety and excitement. I worry about some scary stuff but I'm also excited for the adventures that await me. But in the end, here and now is all that matters, and right now, I just wanna enjoy the festivities.

Happy new year minna-san! (oh and be safe y'all)

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Well Spent Weekend

I normally spend my weekend bumming out, sleeping most of the time. I knew I need it as I barely get enough sleep during weekdays. But this weekend was a busy one, and as Christmas comes closer, I expect the succeeding weekends to be busier.

But let's talk about this weekend. Last Saturday, I attended the 25th anniversary of Toei Animation Philippines. I believe that I have outgrown the fandom and that my main reason for attending otaku events is to be with my friends. But then there are things from the community that I still cling on to, Toei is one of them. For one thing, a lot of the earliest anime and sentai series I've watched were produced by Toei. Having that said, I expected the event to be a nostalgic experience for me. The place was a really good choice, It's always great to attend an anime convention outside Megatrade hall. We didn't have to fight for a space to come through, there was no struggle to breath, the weather was great and the cozy atmosphere of Eastwood set a really good mood, in short, I love the venue, I should have worn a nicer pair of shoes! The ticket was really good too. I make a big deal out of it because I keep tickets for souvenir, and I have to say, their ticket is one of the best tickets I've gotten so far.

One of my disappointment though, is the fact that there's not much to be seen. I mean, we're talking about one of the biggest animation studio in Japan, I know for a fact that there's more to Toei than Dragon Ball and One Piece. There were very few exhibits to check, like probably six or seven booths and checking them out would not take more than 15 minutes (all of them). I like the dioramas though, I only wish there were more. I didn't see anything different on the cosplay activity. There's a photobooth with a long queue, It would have been better to have booths that have interactive activities. Then I wish there were merchandise booths, even if it's only Toei related, I've no problem with that, I'm sure there's a market for Toei merchandise, I mean, I'm sure somebody would be interested to get a Galaxy Express 999 music box.

Cosplayers nowadays are really creative and particular to details and accuracy of their costume, which is great. There's a lot that I don't recognize, but that's barely my concern. I have seen 2 group cosplay skit that I really enjoyed, Daimos and Voltes V. But I didn't bother to see the others. My appetite for cosplay have long dwindled, but there were still cosplayers that got my attention.

I couldn't help staring at their crotch to check the bulge. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a pervert, it's just that they are always flat on the actual series and I always wonder if the actors under the suit are really male. I know that the one cosplaying Red One is a female.

OMG! This guy has been cosplaying that character forever!

Who doesn't know Peebo? Who?!

I want to steal it!

If you ask me though, this handsome little guy is my favorite!

Of course, my friend Nagi, once again fulfills her Sailor Neptune dream cosplay :). Too bad Sailor Uranus is not around :(

My biggest disappointment was the float parade. It was the activity that I looked forward the most. With a cash prize of P100,000, I wish the contestants put more effort and I wish there were more contestants. The were only 3, get that 3 anime floats, and one Toei (studio) float, and none made my eyes expand or made me exclaimed wow! All of them looked like they were done by amateurs, I got that impression even though I looking from afar (really far). Our town festival's floats are far more amazing (and I live in a small town).

Dragon Ball float

But I have no complain. The event was free. It seems to me that organizers operated on a limited budget. I cannot remember seeing any sponsors. I do hope that the areas for improvement I've mentioned would be considered for the 30th year celebration. I hope they'd be more creative and get ample financial support next time.

The best part of the day, or any event I've been to, is hanging out with my friends. Chris, Nagi, Aish, Duston and Shamsa came. Like always, a day is never enough to hang out with awesome friends. We ate Takoyaki at a mini food court nearby. It was really good, the sauce reminded me of the Okonomiyaki I ate in Little Tokyo. The octopus meat was pretty big, I didn't get to see the actual meat in most of the takoyaki I've tried. We spent the rest of day at Aish and Duston's apartment. Duston made some brownies which was really good too. Shamsa was surprisingly hyper at home. She's friendly but normally quiet outdoors. This time I saw her screamed and laughed a lot and it was really heartwarming whenever I'd get a hug from her. Awww... We ended the day with a game of "which do you prefer" and "what's you top 3" which was fun. I got home past 2 am, I was so very tired I didn't get to brush my teeth before going to sleep. Ugh!


The next day, I woke up mid-afternoon and got a text from my elementary and highschool classmate Fati, reminding me of a lunch date with our other grade school classmates. Shoot! I have forgotten about it, I would have wanted to stay home but I have committed that if it was set on Sunday I could come. So I did. I thought I needed it too. I know so little about my gradeschool and highschool classmates. Reunions are the only venue I get to be updated. I need to be more connected.


This is the second time I attended a grade schooler' get together. We had a coffee then had little coldies session. It turns out to be more fun than I expected. I am aware that I'm different from my classmates, but I get along just fine. I have very little memory of events from grade school, I was a loner and I got bullied, it was a sad part of my childhood, but I'm glad that I didn't harbor hatred to my bullies to this day. I have not forgotten them but I have forgiven them. I have no problem attending reunions like this, I'd like to be updated, what are they now? Where have they been? I just wish there are more attendees next time.


When I got home, there was a celebration at home. It was my late Uncle Al's birthday, my cousins from Pasig came to celebrate. There were too many food, but too little space left on my tummy. I ended the day with a mass. Yesterday was the lightening of the first advent candle, this is the official start of Christmas celebration, which reminds me, we need to start putting up the Christmas tree and lights.

It was a tiring weekend indeed. But I am thankful. I have this exhausted body, but then I have this energized soul. Rawr!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering Pagsanjan Falls

The title is a misnomer. It's not that the place had gone stagnant or inactive, it's just that I have forgotten to talk about it hehehe. Yeah, a couple of months ago I went to Pagsanjan, Laguna and saw its prime tourist attraction, Pagsanjan Falls. Well it's been two months you know, I'm gonna try my best to relive everything.


Well first of all, my friend Dindee invited me to her company's (now my former employer) annual IQA outing. She always does, but this is the first time I accepted the invitation ever since I resigned. I thought it should be a good time to catch up with everyone and it would be really great to check out Pagsanjan. It was indeed great to see her and some old friends from the hospital. I gotta say though, so many people have gone somewhere else and I think I can only remember 4-5 faces when I joined the group. In a way, it felt a little weird to be there. For a moment I thought I'm not gonna have a good time. I was wrong anyway. I had a blast... uhm sort of...

We checked in at Pagsanjan Lodge, I can tell, without doing further research that it's an old resort. According to the locals, it was the biggest resort in town, but yeah, it's old, you can't expect five star amenities. I didn't really spend time examining the place, as soon as I got into our room, I took a shower, greeted some old timers and then I went to back to bed and sleep.

Reception desk of Pagsanjan Lodge

The next day was the best part, the part where we went to see Pagsanjan falls. A quick fact about the falls, it's actually located within the boundaries of Cavinti Laguna, but to get there, you have to take a boat ride originating from Pagsanjan river. So there. Who owns what is not my business, still I wonder who gets the money from the tourists hehehe.

Anyway, going back to the boat ride. what's amazing about it was, the two hour ride didn't seem that long despite the limited movement I could make while in the boat (you can lose balance if you move too much, and that can make the boat flip). I guess it's being one with the nature that's really fun. When you hear nothing but the trickle of the water, the rustling of the trees, the tiny chirps of the birds, the cry of the boatmen (that serves as a horn to warn approaching boats), and well, occasional side comments of my friend. I heard from one of our boatmen, while paddling, that in summer, the level of the water is so low, like neck deep, that locals cross the river by foot.



Another amazing thing about this boat ride are the boatmen themselves. Everytime rapids approach, they quickly jump out of the boat (there are boulders to step onto) to push the boat against the rapids. I would imagine that it takes a lot of strength to do that, well I can tell it's hard, because everytime they got back in the boat, I hear them gasp their heart out.

About halfway through the trip, there was a stopover point, called the Talahib Falls, it's a much smaller falls and it serves as a rest area for tourists and boatmen. There were food and soda vendors but none of us bothered to buy any.

Stopover at Talahib Falls

It was at this point that I regret not bringing any money, I would have wanted to buy our boatmen some drinks, I knew they were tired but I could not impose on anyone else to buy something for them either. At least I knew my friend gave them something at the end of the boatride, that should cover for everything, but sometimes, I feel guilty when I can't do anything for these hardworking fellows.

About half an hour ride after the stopover, the main falls started to loom before us. Growing up in a town that boasts our very own Daranak Falls, my first impression of Pagsanjan Falls was nothing out of ordinary. I thought it looked great, but nothing majestic. But things are about to get better as we approach the waterfalls.


The most exciting part was going under (well not exactly under, but almost) the water falls by means of a bamboo raft and boy was that exhilarating. I can no longer open my eyes when I felt the strong gush of water pour before me. It was cold and quick, the next thing I know, we were inside the cave behind the waterfalls, and it felt like going against a super typhoon.



After a while we started our journey back to the lodge. The boatride this time is a lot easier and faster since we're going along with the rapids.

I got to check some areas of the lodge, they have some sort of an adventure camp site. According to one of the staff there, it's perfect for team building activities. I'm not much of an outdoor stuff fan but I really liked the presence of Rambutan trees. I indulged myself in picking and eating, it was delicious and it felt really nostalgic. I remember a time in my childhood where I would spent time picking all sorts of fruits in my neighborhood and relatives' place (Camias, Indian Mango, Aratilis, Guava, etc.)

Avic, enjoying the Rambutan fruit

unusual insect I found at the adventure camp site

There weren't much to be done afterwards, we had our lunch and prepared to check out. One of the things that made me feel this trip to be incomplete was I didn't get to explore the town itself. Pagsanjan is the tourist capital of Laguna, there's got to be more stuff to check. I would have wanted to see the cultural aspect of the town, but again, who am I to impose the itinerary. I was just invited. At least I get to see Pagsanjan church. It's kinda odd though, because it was closed even though it was a Sunday. Hmmm...


The greatest thing about this trip though, is that I didn't spend a penny! Except for the pasalubong I bought for my family, everything was free. I want to thank Dindee for inviting me here, I enjoyed everything. I hope I could join the next IQA outing again. :)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

God Works Wonders

When I turned on my laptop, I was so ready to make a long post of venting over the week from hell I've had. I've been talking about it with some of my friends but for some reason, the uneasy feeling wouldn't get off my system. I thought, before I let this consume me, I will write about it. I'm sure bloggers knows how therapeutic it is to let ones emotions flow from the mind to the computer keyboard delivered by hands and finger.

I was just so mad. I didn't see it coming, I had forgotten what it felt like to be treated with injustice. I know I've been wrong and I deserve to be censured. But to be all alone and take all the blame for something that everybody else is doing, be put on a spotlight like I'm the worst performer without analyzing the real situation. Whether I'm a victim of stupidity or politics, it sucks. Top it off with an unethical act of tattling. My patience just went off its limits. Professionally I felt defiled, personally I felt betrayed. The latter hurt me the most. I knew in one millisecond that things will never be the same again. I rarely get mad, but I get mad for a good reason and I know that this is gonna stay for a long time.

Another reason is this health scare for a dear friend that I've recently learned. It's just terrifying when I hear something that concerns one's health. Illness is something I will never wish to my worst enemy. I always say, I don't care if I have no money, as long as everyone (I love) is healthy. But just this morning, I was able to talk to my friend, and thank God, it's not really something to worry. One less thorn off my chest :)

And as I was gonna say earlier, just before I logged in to blogger I received a letter from Citibank. A gift voucher that I've been waiting for so long ( I almost gave up I'm gonna receive it) arrived. The good thing about it is I didn't have to pay for anything as long as I won't upgrade the packages. See you Tagaytay in 3 weeks!

Lastly, I finally got successful in downloading the episode 1 of The Mentalist season 4! After 2 failed attempts, it's finally here on my hard disk. The Mentalist is one of the TV Shows I follow, the Season 3 finale was a total cliff hanger, but now it's here, I'm off for a tea time with Patrick Jane.

After a week from hell, I got these blessings that some people may call trivial, but for me are just enough to give me back my peace of mind. Thank you Lord :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pinball tale

What's the best way to kill time while waiting for someone at the mall? Hands down, it's gotta be pinball! If you're like me, that is *shrug*

I'm not a fan or anything like it by the way. But I like hanging out at Timezone. It's just that, it's one of those free games I can play when I'm out of credits. It's kinda odd though, that in this age of digital video games, you'd see one pinball machine in every Timezone outlet. Who plays pinball in this era anyway?

The funny thing is, I play it, even though I don't really know the mechanics and all. What I know is, I have to keep the pinball rolling using the flippers in each side of the machine. I know that my numbers keep counting everytime the ball hits something. I love it when the ball enters a tunnel and something lights up, then my score keeps going up too. I don't know how many balls I have left when I drop one and I don't know just how many bonus balls am I supposed to get. The important thing is, it keeps me preoccupied.

After a while though, I just want to give up. When will it end? How many more do I have left? I think played enough, I'd just let the balls drop until the screen shows "GAME OVER". And why am I not surprised to get the highest score?

But after earning the title for the highest score, guess what? As a prize, I get one more credit to give me a chance to top my rank. No way man, I'm leaving. I hope a random player takes advantage of the unused credit tough teehee.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Art of Letting Go

More than 12 years ago, when I was a still fledgling otaku, I started collecting anime related items. I can still remember, I started out with "text cards" of Yuyu Hakusho and Gundam Wing. Had I known ahead of time that typhoon Ondoy will submerge our town back in 2009, I could have prepared and I may have been able to show you what these "text cards" are. More commonly called as "text" or "teks", it is like the Filipino version of trading cards, only smaller and a lot cheaper (so cheap, for PHP1 you'll get 4 pcs). But so many things had happened for 12 years, so many stuff have been accumulated. My collection grew into something bigger, it has become my trademark. Not that I'm a huge collector, but collecting (anime) is my passion, in my circle, it's what I'm known for.

When we decided to renovate the first floor of the house after the Ondoy damage, I got the chance to own a room, and by room, I mean showroom. I mean, I shared bedroom with my siblings my whole life, and when I finally had my own one, I got to showcase my stuff. I had them neatly organized in shelves and have them situated parallel to my bed. I wanted them to be the first thing I see when I wake up.


It didn't disappoint, everyone who see it in person is amazed. It feels great I tell you, when something you put your heart into is appreciated by others. The thing is, it's an expensive hobby and I'm not rich. In so many ways, this hobby doesn't suit me because I had to sacrifice some of my needs just to purchase a single item. There are many useful commodities that my hard earned money could go to. This idea had never left me. In every purchase comes a tinge of guilt, I felt like that I'm being selfish. My eldest brother is my no.1 critic for this obsession. But I always justify that this simple pleasure of buying collectibles eases the loneliness I feel for being alone. ~sigh

Last year, unfortunate events in my life led me to believe that I'm being punished for forgetting God and being selfish. I am reminded many times that He does not punish but He tests, and I believe that. Still, I made it clear to myself that I would change ways so I that won't forget about Him. I prayed harder than I ever did and made a pledge that I will quit. I made a promise that I will stop buying toys. I could not give up books and comic books, I wanted to continue reading and learning but I had to stop hoarding toys...And I stop.

For 10 months now, I have not made any toy or even anime related purchase. Other than the happy meal toys that my friends gave me and the dispenser I won at M&M's online promo, I have not made any accumulation. Instead, I've come to a point that I figured I need to downsize, I need to let go of some stuff. Aside from the ones that I have in my room, I have more stuff tucked all over the house. I don't wanna end up like those hoarders I see on TV. I want to get rid (in a good way) of some items that I have less attachment. Stuff that I bought on impulse. My friends and I collaborated to put up an online shop (Fandorasbox) and I put up my own on ebay. I have already sold some toys and manga (I have my own share of "horror" stories with buyers but I'm not gonna talk about that now) and while I have items up for sale, I'm still figuring out the stuff that can stay and which ones should go. It's a tough process I tell you, I have deep emotional investment on so many things, but I figured that it's not healthy to cling on to material things. After all, we'll all end up departing from this temporary world we live in.

I'm working on this. Honestly I still check stuff on ebay, and everytime I see something interesting, it breaks my heart, because I know I can't get it. Not because I can't afford it, but because I made a promise. It's a form of discipline and to be honest, I don't know what I'm gonna get out of it. Suppressing my urges like that and quitting on what I believed to be my passion. I don't know where it's gonna take me. It's a tough battle I'm fighting, and it's too early to say I'm winning, but I know I will.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Body Remembers - Yuuko Ichihara

I have a confession to tell. But you have to watch the video first before you read on...

When I was in highschool, I was a big fan of Donna Cruz. I followed her music, movies and her TV series (Villa Quintana) up until she got married. Her career went on hiatus and so I moved on. That's the confession hehehe. That was a long time ago. Last year, I received a Snow Globe music box (in accordance to my wishlist) when we had our gifts exchanged during our department's Christmas party. I specifically asked a Christmas snowglobe music box. I love Christmas songs, I was expecting that this item I received plays one, but to my disappointment, no. The music was originally popularized by a Japanese pop/rock band Southern All Stars, a song called "Manatsu no Kajitsu". In 1997, Donna popularized a Filipino rendition of the song called "Isang Tanong, Isang Sagot". Amazingly, I recognized the song very quickly.

I have not listened to Donna's songs for a very long time, but I knew when I first wind up the keys, the music sounded familiar. It's true when they say (or when CLAMP said) that the mind may forget but the body remembers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boracay Getaway

I've been busy and lazy lately so I don't get to update my blog regularly. But I can't let a great vacation unposted, can I?

Well, it wasn't what you'd really call a great vacation, for one thing, I got an uncooperative weather. And I was warned that going to the beach on a rainy day is strongly not recommended. But being with my parents and seeing my sister and her husband was more than enough to enjoy a time away from the busy and smoggy city.

We left rainy Manila on a Wednesday morning. Right after my Tuesday shift. I met up with my parents in Makati and headed to the Airport. I was positive that our flight will be delayed, I don't know if it's a Filipino thing, because it did. Luckily, we were given the option to take the earlier flight, so thank God, we were spared from the trouble of waiting indefinitely (which I hate to the bones!). This was my second time flying (excluding my childhood experience), and the first time with my parents, so I was extremely excited. And because I'm the only kid on this trip, I have no competition for the window seat. Yay! We took off, 20 minutes earlier than our original flight.

What I love about flying is seeing the areal view of my country's beautiful and untouched islands. The coral reefs are just as breath taking, even seeing from up above. Sure I would love to set foot on these amazing places, but in my heart, I pray that these remote parts of the earth remain unmolested by commercial development. Leave them alone please!

We arrived in Caticlan airport just in time for lunch. We were instructed to go to the Tabon port via trike and take the boat to Boracay Island. The boat ride is less than 10 minutes, when we got to Boracay, Pipay and Mike met us and took us to their rented house, again via trike. While on the tricycle, I can't help but notice the overwhelming number of Koreans. I know there are many Koreans here in the Philippines to study English, but man, forgive me for my lack of term, but, they infested Boracay. There's a Korean church and a major convenience store boasted selling Korean products. I saw land for lease sign boards with Korean translation and a parade of bug cars (manned by Koreans of course). It's not a bad thing, It's good for tourism, I was just overwhelmed, I didn't see it coming hehehe.


We arrived at Mike and Pipay's place and ate lunch that Pipay cooked - Menudo. I was not surprised that she had learned how to cook, but I was amazed how well she did. My mom loved it and told her that she should be cooking for our town fiesta from now on. They are renting a studio type room that feels like a condo. Every furniture and appliance is provided by the landowner, and with PHP7K a month rate, all in (water and electricity), I thought to myself, I can escape the Metro and live here for a month! I can go on LOA! LOL!

After lunch, we settled for a while and head off to the island's famous beaches. My dad was hesitant at first, opting to stay and watch TV but my mom booed and, well, forced him to come with us. Our first destination is the Puka beach. Compared to the Long Beach, it has an off-white and less refined sand. However, it is less crowded too. There's not much establishment in place, other than the souvenir shops at the entrance and the walking ice cream vendor. If you're in for a much peaceful place, I'd say, this is where you should go.

having a great time despite the gloomy sky

behind me is the Carabao Island, another island worth checking

acting like a papparazzi to my parents

Next, we went to Long Beach a.k.a. White Beach (it's officially White Beach, but because the locals call it Long beach, I'll call it like that for the rest of this post). This beach alone defines everything I know of Boracay, white powder-like sand and party people. I think it's safe for me to say that much of the commercial development are concentrated here. Just a few walk from the sea is a (long) line of restaurants, bars, hotels and souvenir shops. It was such a pain for someone who values solitude I tell you, but in a way convenient. You practically can do anything to make your vacation worthwhile.

In the beach, there's a place for devout Catholics to seek refuge

checking the Grotto with my parents and sister

mom and dad, enjoying the white sand

While I didn't really look forward to swim, I truly enjoyed walking in bare feet on the sand. The powdery feel of the sand in my feet and the calm sound of the waves gives me a sense of peace that's hard to explain, despite the presence of the crowd. I would have wanted to experience the night life here, I didn't get to do it. We spent most of the time walking. After the beach, we headed off to D' Talipapa, the flea market to get souvenirs and pasalubong. My mom is a window shopping junkie. She checked every stall and and every item she find interesting. By the end of the day, I have no energy left to stay up. When we got home, I took a bath and went straight to sleep without eating dinner.



My sister and brother-in-law went to his employer's staff house to spend the night and left the place for us to stay. By morning, we woke up and fended for ourselves for breakfast. With my dad around, it was just like home, he prepared everything for breakfast. Pipay and Mike arrived to prepare for lunch and next activities. I witnessed my sister cook with her laptop on to check every now and then the recipe she downloaded from the net. So that's how she learned, I thought to myself. We spent the rest of the morning talking about our family and our lives. My mom and my sister always talk on the phone everyday, so there's really not much to catch up.

After lunch we headed to Bulabog beach, located at the opposite of Long Beach. I read that this is where sports activities like wind surfing and kite boarding are held but because of the gloomy weather, I didn't see those things. We decided that we'd try the helmet diving (reef walking). I find it a little risky but my parents were up to it. Because it's off peak season and we're Filipinos, we got a really cheap deal, for only PHP350 per person, where as foreign tourists are charged PHP1000 per person. I felt a little guilty, thought it was unfair, but then again, foreign employers pay OFWs less too compared to other nationals, so I guess that makes us even. We took a 10 minute speedboat ride to the reef then we were oriented what to expect and what to do under the water. The helmets that we're about to wear weigh 20 kg. I was excited and at the same time worried for my parents. I had reason too. They are not so young and a little mistake could prove dangerous, and in fact it did. While we were 8 feet under and the diver guide/photographer were asking us to pose for the cam, my dad went off balance and for a second, slipped off his helmet. Just seconds after that, my mom did the same thing. Good thing the diver who's assisting us was alert. He managed to have my parents get their acts together while I panicked. They made the right decision to go up, even though they just got down, who cares about getting their money's worth at a situation like that? In other words, I was left all alone with the diver, to enjoy the reef.

Being under the sea and seeing the wonders of nature is just amazing. I have no words to describe it. It must be fun to be a mermaid, there are just so many things down there that would continually take your breath away. It's fun to feed the fish, pretend to play with them and watch the live corals breath. My only regret was that I don't have the proper gears and suit for this. Maybe next time I'll get them. My parents went down for the second time and stayed for a short while for the video op. But because they looked more scared than excited, I'm keeping their videos to myself hehehe.

After the diving activity, we went back to Long Beach, I thought we could swim a little but the waves are huge and decided it's too dangerous to try so we went home instead and prepared for our next trip ~ to Shangri La hotel. Mike works as a facility engineer (or something like that) in Shangri La so we get to have access inside and have a peek what it was like in a luxurious hotel. It was amazing. Here is a secluded place, perfect for privacy-seeking celebrities with magnificent interior design and lagoon-like pools, everything that a huge earning executive VIP could ask.




This is not the first time I've been in a five-star hotel, but every time I get to experience it, I felt a surge of envy run through my veins. How can some people get to enjoy it when they want to and most (including me) don't. Life is unfair, that's the only answer I could think of. Maybe someday, I'll get to enjoy these too.

One of my favorite area in the resort is the Entertainment Center. They separated kids with adults. Having a kid within me gives me excuse to play around.



It was also fun to see the hotel holding its annual Boralympics for the employees. It was some sort of a relay competition. Looking at Mike and his colleagues, I got a sense that Shangri La Boracay employees seemed to be having a great time working there. I'm probably being shallow, but I want to keep my observation that way. It's heartwarming to see employees work towards a common goal. The past two employers that I've had are reeking of politics, no wonder I always long for a vacation.

After the tour at Shangri La, we went D' Talipapa. Mike and Pipay treat us in a Dampa-like eatery where you shop for your own sea food at the wet market then choose a restaurant who'd cook it for you. The restaurant where Pipay took us were fully booked, but she said it's the best one so we had to wait. Damn it was worth the wait. We had buttered shrimp with lemon and garlic, sauteed crab, stuffed squid and fried Tilapia. It was sumptuous!

After dinner, we went to a massage parlor. My mom enjoyed a mild massage (I don't know a massage name LOL!) while the rest of us wait. My dad and I had the option to have one too, but we're just not into it. I just don't get this whole massage thing, I find it painful to be slapped and have somebody's hand apply pressure on my muscle. Where's the pleasure in that? Waiting for my mom back there was probably the most boring part of the trip. Mike and Pipay were suppose to take me to the hang out places at night, but again, I was out of energy so I opted to stay and wait. When we got home, the first thing we did was pack our things. Our flight is the morning next day, we won't have the time to do it when we wake up. Then off to bed. Zzzzz...

Like any blog post I did for a trip, ending the post is always the most difficult. I hardly remember what the departure looked like. My thoughts back then are filled with longing for home and at the same time, sadness for parting with my sister and the thought of embracing the stress that going back to work has to offer. Going back to the loud city again.

One thing I know, this is not my last Boracay trip I promise. I want to try the night life next time And who knows, maybe I'll stay in Shangri La by then.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Timely Victory

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the pictures below. They belong to their respective owners (see

A fan looks out, during the semi-final match Japan vs. Sweden

It's been a week since the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup concluded but I'm still celebrating. I probably have seen the highlights video over a thousand times and yet I'm still not over it. What a breathtaking game! I remember waking up on a very early morning and looking for a live streaming of the game online, but to my lack of luck and laziness, I settled on checking the live play-by-play updates instead. But I gotta say, the excitement I felt as new update pops out paralleled the excitement of people who were actually watching the game. That, coming from a non-football fan or any sports in general.

Yep, I'm not a sports fan, I always find it fun to watch the finals of a cup, tournament, or whatever. I see it as an opportunity to make a friendly bet with family and friends. But this Women's World Cup was extra special to me. More than the fact that I made a bet for Japan, more than the fact that I'm such a Japanoholic, Nadeshiko's victory symbolizes so much hope and possibility.

Given the record of the US team in the previous world cups, and the fact that Japan had never beat them on their past 25 matches. Japan's victory over US is a classic David vs. Goliath story. Not only the teams, but also the fan base. In the online community I'm in, the people I follow on Twitter, the people I made bet with, were all for team USA and I kinda felt alone rooting for Japan, but seeing them win against a very strong team was very fulfilling. There were times that I was ready to give up but Nadeshiko Japan managed to equalize the game at a very unexpected manner, 2 times. And every time they did, a new hope glimmers and I believed that they can actually make it. And they did. They never gave up, they truly deserve to win. Just what a healing nation needed.

Nadeshiko Japan, relishing the victory

Hats off to the recipient of the Golden Ball (best player) and Golden Boot (top goal scorer) awards, Homare Sawa. She was amazing throughout the tournament. She remained a leader and an inspiration to the team and even after receiving the award, she remained humble and gave credits to her team mate, stating that she can't take any personal pride in taking them.

Ayumi Kaihori's impressive save

In my opinion, the player of the match Ayumi Kaihori, deserve the Golden Glove award (best goal keeper) instead of Hope Solo. Now I have nothing about the USA's goal keeper, I think she's great, it's just that Kaihori's saves are far more impressive than Solo's. I even watched the US-Brazil highlights just to compare, and I still think that Kaihori outdid Solo.

So now that I've blogged about it, I can move on. I'd like to think that the game converted me to a Foot Ball fan, but I can't say that yet. It's a little frustrating that I can't cheer for my own country. But it gave me a lot of hope that Philippines have a chance in making a name in sports other than boxing. There is hope.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Sorry State...

While I'm watching the live updates on the 2011 Women's World Cup finals and vigorously rooting for Japan, I am contemplating on this 7-11 survey that I saw a couple of days ago, and I'm talking of the previous' week's survey: Proud ka pa din bang maging Pinoy? (Are you still proud to be a Filipino?)

While it's a good thing that majority is proud to be one, it's alarming to see a huge number is not. 42% is just not right, it's almost half of the people who took the survey. And I may not be the best person to talk about this, just look at my profile and you'll know why. It's not surprising that a lot of Filipinos doesn't feel the pride of being one, we are a flawed nation. We have a disgustingly corrupt government and people lack discipline. When we are on international news, it's usually something that would upset the world. We have very little sense of patriotism, something I really envy from other countries. We have a lot to work on to improve, and saying that is an understatement.

Here's the thing though, I may not like a lot of Filipino stuff and I have a huge longing to go out of the country, to Japan specifically. But I know in my heart, that here is where my home is. This is the only place I would choose to die. I see the real beauty of my country and its people and I look forward to seeing more. While I breath, I hope to live to see the day that we become a nation truly proud for who we are. And yes, I am proud to be a Filipino.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Smartphone Inconveniences

When I saw signs that my Sony Ericsson K750i is on the brink of destruction. I felt the urge to get a new cellphone. A lot of people treat their phones like oxygen, but me, other than call and text, I use it as a clock. But don't we all love the technology we have now and do different things with cellphone? So when I was deciding for a new one, I list camera, music player, wifi and JavaScript capability as requirements.

But then, just when I thought I've had enough with gadgets, I found myself longing for a an Iphone. I hate to admit it, but I fall for it, I used to like one so badly I would countdown my postpaid contract end date to get one. Hear me out okay. I work for a company that used to be an exclusive carrier of Iphone, and when you deal with Iphone issues at least 3 times a day, you find yourself falling for the most expensive paper weight. I would check on Iphone users' forum and read about cool apps, I often see it on CNN, TEDS, and a lot of TV shows. Then I learned that my friend Mike teamed up with other game developers and put up a game studio developing games for iOS. So I decided, I'll get an Iphone!

But then, when you see too many people around you getting one, it becomes less and less appealing. I sometimes pride myself as someone who doesn't fall for something that everybody is into. It's fun to find music that feels like my own private experience, music that not everybody gets. So there, I totally lost interest on Iphone. A stubborn reasoning, but thank God that's me. It's just not worth the price. Instead I got an Android. Okay, so it's not the kind of music that I was talking about. To date, Android is the world's best selling smartphone OS. But then, it's a lot cheaper and my favorite wireless phone brand carries Android so why not?

oh no, my phone is a lot smaller than this hehehe

I got me a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini. Like many other new gadgets available, it has a touchscreen instead of a keypad. The camera has 5 megapixel resolution with a LED flash, it can take HD videos. The internet loads faster than my previous phone. I'm pretty satisfied. I love it.

Except that I have not really enjoyed the "smart" side of it yet. Maybe it's just me not being tech savvy, but I thought that a smartphone is supposed to do everything you need to make your "on-the-go" lifestyle a lot easier. I have some things to diss. (Now if you are a fan of smartphones, don't get too agitated, for this post, I'm only referring to my phone.)

The Apps. There are too many of them! But I only want a dictionary and a carbon footprint calculator, but why does it seem so hard to find a decent one. Maybe because I'm only looking for the free ones and most of the free ones requires me to connect to the web to use the application. I mean that's not fair, I shouldn't be required to add more charges on my phone bill just to understand what sigmatism means or help me decide if I should prioritize buying a vacuum cleaner over a water closet. Sometimes I have those moments that I feel like an idiot and I need a smart advice hehehe. Help me smartyphone!

Call Restriction. There are times when I don't want to receive calls. Not that I'm avoiding people, but calls from telemarketers offering loans are just annoying. Specially when they ruin my sleep. This function is one of the first things I checked and I was just dumbfounded when I realized I can't do it with my new phone. Now if you own the same phone as I do and you think I'm wrong, you might want to help me because I've checked call and security settings and there's just no option that would let me put a call barring. Or do I need to download an app for that?

Battery. Now I thought the battery issue is unique to Iphone, apparently not. At most, my battery lasts 2 days, my old phone would last a week without charging. Now as a defender of planet earth, this is a problem. As much as I want to conserve energy, my phone won't let me. Uh oh...

Messaging. If you are someone who likes to send GMs, forget getting an Android. The messaging uses a chat approach and there's no Send-to-many option. There's no inbox or outbox. Instead, there's a thread that stores my SMS exchanges for every contact in my phone book. It's not that hard, except that there are more steps and redundancy involve if I want to forward a heartwarming message to my friends. I figured that on Christmas and other holidays, I will insert my SIM to my old phone just to greet everyone. Another problem for this chat approach is when I have to share prepaid credits to my family. It's a more complicated process and I don't want to make a long post out of it, so I won't go over that anymore. Bottom line is, I want the old school messaging!

Those are just some of the things that irked me. Generally, I like it. Next time, I'll talk about the good things about it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Laugh. Dance. Win!

The only time I remember winning a raffle was 9 years ago, at a time when access to anime was limited and being a true fan requires commitment and effort. A group called Anima Anime held monthly anime film showings, at the end of the day, they will have a raffle for premium items. The grand prize can be DVD or OST CD of an anime series or anything that a fan would die for. I won an AXN post-it pad. Sure, it might just be a freebie from AXN, but hey, not everyone gets to own it. So I got excited when I won. To date, I haven't used up all the sheets, I am making sure I keep something as a souvenir because winning a raffle, no matter how small the prize is, happens once in a lifetime. At least for me.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from 2ndavenue saying I am one of the "lucky" weekly winners of an ongoing promo -Catch the Dancing Ellen Year 4. 2nd Avenue, by the way, is the channel that airs my favorite talkshow (and some of my favorite TV show). Every year, they give Philippine viewers a chance to win a ticket to The Ellen Degeneres Show, and the mechanics is pretty simple, it varies every year, but it always involves a dancing Ellen. This year, you have to take note of the feature guest when a small dancing Ellen appears at the bottom of the TV screen, and then you have to email the answer together with your contact information. I have only sent 2 entries when I won. I'm starting to feel like Ellen is my lucky charm, now I love her even more.

I won a Flip Camcorder, A t-shirt that says "I dance with Ellen", TEDS fridge magnet and pen and a 2ndavenue notepad.

The truth is, I really wanted to win the grand prize, I wish to see the show in person and I feel that I have very little chance of getting it. But winning a weekly raffle geared up my hope, and who knows...

And if you're wondering, the Flip camcorder is best for outdoor recording, it doesn't have LED light so I have to make sure I use it in a fine weather. But still, no one can stop me from taking music box videos hehehe.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ye Olde Wedding Watch

I recently participated a poll in Facebook, asking if I was interested in the Royal Wedding this coming April 29. I'm talking about Prince William and Kate Middleton of course. There are more than 70%, I think, who answered "NO". I decided to take a stand and joined the majority who didn't seem to be interested. When I think about it now, the fact that I took the poll must have meant I am interested, otherwise, I should have ignored it. Right?


Here's the thing, no matter how I keep myself out of it, with the attention the media is giving it, I can't help but be absorbed. I mean when you watch TV, every station has a special something before the wedding, every news program has a rep to cover the celebration, my email sign in page displays a guest book asking me to wish the couple the best for their special day. The experts are forecasting the coverage to be the most watched TV special in history. I'm pretty sure my mom and my sisters will be glued on the TV on April 29. And there's nothing wrong with that. Really. Two people in love, professing their lifetime commitment before the world. I wish them the best. I really do.

Still... I wonder. What's so special about it? Why so much fuss? I can understand the media attention when famous people are on the spot. When Michael Jackson died, I was glued on the TV myself, thinking "oh man, I can't believe it!". But I feel it’s different, it's MJ, he's an icon. He practically invented a whole new standard of performing and everyone followed. His music changed the world. Now my point is, I can't feel the initiatives of the royal family to make this world a better place. I'm sure they are doing something, I just feel it's not enough. Okay, now I sound like I'm asking too much. They are just human, they might be eating the most expensive food but our shit smells the same.

I guess the great thing about it is, hope. The royal family would always function as a "symbo"l of sovereignty, and this event symbolizes hope. Amidst the negative things that's happening around the world, there will be a reason to celebrate. And despite the fact that previous marriages of the other princes and princesses failed, I do hope that this one would stand still to disappoint cynicals like me. Cheers to yer highness!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Updates, updates!!!

It's time for another round of updates.

Some people decide to cut their hair for a new look, but for me, I do it for convenience. When my bangs start to irritate my eyes, it's a sign, I need a haircut! Ugh!

Yesterday I went to Manila Doctors Hospital to meet Dindee and her husband Benny. She was at the OR doing thyroidectomy, while waiting, I decided to look around at the hospital. I barely recognized anyone, it feels weird. I ran into Dr. Cuayo-Juico, she told me I haven't changed but I gained weight. I need to work out! Ugh!

On the other hand, when I met Benny, he told me I look like a Japanese. Yay!

The other night, my mom and dad went to a Jose Mari Chan concert at Thunderbird resort. I got envious because I'm a JMC fan, I wanted to go too, but I can't because I have work. They took home a signed copy of Souvenirs. Really, I am so envious!

I dropped by at Robinson's Place in Ermita yesterday to buy books. I am loving Jodi Picoult, she's very easy to read, at the same time very moving.

I also bought a copy of Songs for Japan with a hope that Japan recovers as soon as possible from one of its worst crisis. John Lennon's Imagine and Queen's Te O Tori Atte (Let Us Cling Together) makes the album worth buying. The other 35 tracks are not bad either. I highly recommend getting it, if you're in for a good cause and good music.

It's been really quiet these days...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Lakbayan (travelling) grade

My Lakbayan grade is D!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.