Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Rush

It's just two days to go before Christmas and I could feel the rush in a different way. I was itching to go some place for the week long holiday but all plans failed. Actually, I ought to stay put and rush to get things done. Assuming three positions for the past months has been ubelievably crazy. I must admit, I was out of focused at some point. I can't do these all at the same time so work has piled up over the months. It seems like it's not going to be a stress free holiday.

In these busy times, a late night massage with a friend home from London was just perfect. Sharing a meal with old friends is comforting. Last minute Christmas shopping @ the Parkmall was totally hassle free. Binging over lechon almost every day is nothing but satisfying. I hope I won't gain much this season, I've been missing in the gym for several months now.

But I can't wait for next year, my wow Philippines adventure continues inspite of having a heavy work load.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

TARA3 Theories

The Amazing Race Asia 3 has just concluded it's second to the last episode. Malaysian moms Ida and Tania is heading the race, finishing off with $5000 for this leg. Team Philippines is in at 2nd place while Sam and Vince from Hong Kong came third.

With Geoff's attitude problem, I never expected they'd go this far. Strictly speaking both of them aren't Filipinos. If not only they represent our country, I won't root for them. This season has not attracted as much interest around town compared to TARA2, where everyone was struck with Marc and Rovillson's charisma.

Geoff and Tisha will have a good chance if given a physical challenge, but for mental games especially one that requires a lot of patience and presence of mind, could possibly jeopardize their chances.

Are there any spoilers? A $5M non disclosure policy is up for the participants and crew. But based on previous season of TARA...

The season is launched where the winning team is representing. Season1 in Malaysia, Season2 in Singapore, Season3 in the Philippines (yihaa!).

On the otherhand, the winner gets to appear in full length ads to endorse sony. In the case of Adrian and Collin, they had the longest one. This year, it's Sam and Vince.

Basing on odds, the second theory is more realistic on a marketing stand point.

What's your theory? 7 days to go til the final leg.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tonsillitis 101

I woke up this morning with the renewed hope to be able to report to work. But when I swallowed, my throat remained sore, my ears in pain, my sinus blocked. It's my first time to experience something this sore sans cough and colds. So I went to my EENT, the same doctor that treated my barotrauma from diving. Although personal check-up doesn't really show my tonsils inflammed, I had a feeling I have tonsillitis.

I didn't even finished opening my mouth then he exclaimed, "it's time to take some (co-amoxiclav) antibiotics, you have tonsillitis!" Aside from antibiotics, he prescribed two types of pain killer, one of which I remember taking during my knee injury and the other which I should take if pain persists. He also mentioned not to gargle with any commercial oral antiseptic and oops I just did three times a day. No wonder it didn't work unlike when I get the usual sore throat. He suggested warm water with salt instead.

It's my first time to get tonsillitis (I think) so I have no idea how this goes but it sounds just like an ordinary infection. Later in the afternoon, it struck me, why did he have to prescribe all those pain killer. So I asked my friend A and she said, yes expect for it to get worse. Uh oh! I was even thinking of not taking any of the pain killer as long as I could resist, with that thought, I have to get them ready.

If you are as ignorant as I am when it comes to Tonsillitis, read on. Tonsillitis doesn't only mean inflammed tonsils. It comes with other symptoms like:

enlarged and tender neck cervical lymph nodes, severe sore throat (which may be experienced as referred pain to the ears), painful/difficult swallowing, headache, fever and chills, body ache and change in voice causing a "hot potato" voice. Tonsillitis is characterized by signs of red, swollen tonsils which may have a purulent exudative coating of white patches (i.e. pus) like these:



Don't fret, these aren't mine. I don't have as much but I had all those symptoms except for headache.

It can be viral or bacterial. Viral will go away on it's own while bacterial needs antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics doesn't necessarily expedites the healing process, it only shortens the time being contagious. Apparently, you are contagious while you still have symptoms. Most people stop being contagious 24 to 48 hours after they start antibiotics. If you don't take antibiotics, you may be contagious for 2 to 3 weeks, even if your symptoms go away. I'm not such a believer of antibiotics but it makes sense this time.

There is no mention as to taking too much sweets causes tonsillitis. Is this a fallacy? I can't blame the three servings of ice cream I had during All Saints Day and the slice of sans rival and chocolate cake I had the next day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Food for the Soul

I'm down with I don't know exactly what. My back was awfully sore yesterday that I had to rush home from work to take a rest. The culprit? I slept 2am the previous night surfing the net and didn't have a good sleep. For the past weeks, I've been reminding myself to sleep before midnight but I don't. I must also admit, I'm stressed at work. I'm faced with a responsibility that is stressing me out for the first time. With too much things at hand, I'm loosing focus and becoming less productive. For lack of sleep, coupled with stress, I knew this is coming.

Inspite of the good cupping massage at Thewi Thai last night, my back remained sore and my throat too! I don't know if it's flu, but I don't feel my temperature rise instead I felt chilling. The best thing about being sick is getting a day off from work. Let's just say half a day off cause I have to report in the afternoon otherwise I'll be putting my ailing aunt at risk of being sick again for stressing her out.

I had a cup of fresh orange juice for dinner, tomorrow, I'll have a cup of fresh apple juice. They all went to the grocery tonight to get me some fruits. My 5 year-old nephew and 4 year-old niece got me a pack of fresh milk and a bottle of soya milk respectively. It was their choice, their mom said. The lil ones insisted that they ought to be bring me some good food. God knows I'm not so fond of milk, but the thought these kids bring, was more than a hearty serving of food for the soul. It feels so much better.

Oh, my phone beeped, it reminds me that it's time to sleep. Ciao!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween

Halloween has become more and more flamboyant. Costume party and trick or treat in villages, in malls, in restobars... After the kids attended the Halloween party in the afternoon, we proceeded for a sumptuous dinner at my fave Chinese-Malaysian Resto KK Fine Dining. I had the off-the-menu specialty like seafood curry and siomai. A new discovery was the steamed tofu and mashed tofu soup! I can't help but notice it's Jack 'o Lantern, sporting chinky eyes!



All Saint's Day was a scorching hot day. I had three servings of ice cream through out the day. We had a brief visit to the cemetery to honor my grandparents. Unlike other families who feast around the tombstone, a bite of ice cream, chicharon, green mangoes, some knick knacks and drinks should be the most we used to have. We've spent lesser time in recent years than we use to, perhaps for lack of importance to the date (but not the dead). Gone are those days when we spend hours waiting for the candles to melt and roll the wax into balls. Kids these days aren't fond of these kind of toying as they bring their PSP anywhere they go.

We ended a day with a conference at work, seriously, some things need to be ironed out even on holidays. Undeniably, tough times are here again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Treat for My Readers by Seair

Trick or treat! It's Halloween and I'm giving a treat! No tricks here, promise. :)


I've previously posted about my readers getting discount with seair. It's no joke, Seair joins the bandwagon of offering promo fares with "flysavers fare", aside from that, my readers get 15% more discount. Applicable to promo and regular fares. Simply:

1. book your seair tickets online at www.flyseair.com from October 20, 2008 to February 14, 2009, and

2. input the promotional code fmcc88aa

Feel free to pass this on. It's time to beach bum in Boracay, surf in Daet, escape in Borongan (Eastern Samar), snorkel and dive in Coron/Busuanga, or explore Tablas (Romblon) with Seair.



Seair boasts of having the fastest flight to Boracay and Palawan with it's Dornier so I'm contemplating on flying with them for the New Year, in time for my birthday escapade. Hope Seair loves me too. hint, hint!

NOTE: The 15% discount only applies to airfare, some block off dates may apply. The discount says 0 PHP, simply click continue, the discounted price appears.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Seair Discount For My Readers

Yesterday, I was browsing for promo fares with Seair for my upcoming trip to Coron/Busuanga. Today, I got good news through my blog roll.

Seair joins the bandwagon of offering promo fares. I've always bumped into Seair among bloggers like Nina, Ferdz and Ivan. I envy them when they get free flights because Seair loves 'em (as Nina puts it).

I'm crossing my fingers to get even the slightest luck (I hope Seair loves me too), by giving my readers 15 percent discount on SEAIR tickets. As soon as I get the promotional code, I'm sharing that discount to you. It can be used when booking online at http://www.flyseair.com from October 20, 2008 to February 14, 2009.

So do come back in a week's time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hilot

Hilot (/hee-lot/) is an ancient Filipino art of healing, commonly used today to relax stressed muscles, otherwise known as massage.

There used to be Manang Nene, our next door neighbor, to soothe those growing pains, she was very effective in relieving body pains, cough, colds and fever with efficascent oil, when we were younger. I don't know where she is now, for sure she's very old by now. Hers was the authentic Filipino way of hilot.

In recent years, massage parlors have been sprouting everywhere in the city. I certainly welcome this development, making it more accessible and affordable. Years back, when Manang Nene wasn't available, I had to go to a hotel for a massage. Massage parlors also turned wholesome although there are still a few that offers that extra service (a friend's experience may warrant a completely different post.)

The most luxurious massage I experienced was probably at San Benito Farm in Batangas. Four consecutive days of different types of massage including one under the stars was superb.

I like best the routine of a Thai massage. It is a dry massage that involves stretching and deep massage, perfect for my sore musscles. For only P300, I enjoy an hour and a half of relaxing massage at Thewi Thai Massage. Theirs is very similar to the Thai Massage I had in Bangkok.

The stone massage is my second best routine. The warm stone rubbed and laid on the skin relaxes the muscles. Although I'm sometimes bothered by balancing the stones on my back which should not be the case. I had this at Medah Spa for P800 and it's low-end counterpart Touch 'n Heal for P400 or less, the former employs Physical Therapists.

Today, instead of going to the gym, I went to Holiday Gym and Spa for an oil massage to soothe my weary bones and spirit and my ankle that I sprained earlier today during a badminton tournament (injured myself again!). Luckily they had a promo, I paid P300 for an hour's massage; which normally costs P400-700 an hour.

When I have injury, I normally go to San Vicente Sotto Hospital's Rehab Center, there's a rehab nurse that is very good with Manipulative Therapy including joint manipulation (associated with the production of an audible 'clicking' or 'popping' sound).

More than the usual sights and food trip, having a good massage is one that you must experience when visiting Cebu.

Experience first class amenities at Cebu's most luxurious spa in Chi Spa Village in Shangri-La's Mactan Resort. A day spa costs around P5,000 to P20,000, in spite of being pricey, they get fully booked. Priority is given to inhouse guests, call(63 32) 231 0288 loc 68304 to 68307 to reserve. They open between 10 am to 10 pm.

In the city, more popular spa with sauna, with price range of P400 - P800/hour:

Holiday Spa
Molave Street (Off Escario), Camputhaw, Cebu City
(63 32) 231-0408

Holiday Gym and Spa
Banilad Road
(63 32) 234-4791

Sawadee Spa
2/F MD Bldg, Banilad, Cebu (Between Cebu Country Club and Crossroads)
(63 32) 234-4171

The Spa at Cebu
with indoor and outdoor spa
Maria Luisa Road, Banilad
(63 32) 412-0888 & 345-1777

Meddah
Crossroads, Banilad
(63 32) 234-2080 & 234-2083

Affordable massage parlors without sauna, with price range P180-250/hour:

Thewi Thai Massage
3 Llorente St., Capitol Site
across Palladium Suites
(63 32) 412 5278

Tonton Thai Massage
Doña Luisa Bldg., Fuente Osmeña (with branches in Mactan and Mandaue)
253-9639

Nuat Thai Massage

Body and Sole
(i do not recommend this since I had a bad experience with peeping masseurs)

Touch and Heal

I've been to all these except for two, Thewi Thai Massage is my personal favorite.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Questions than Answers

John 8:7
"He that is without sin among you,
let him first cast a stone at her
."


Is there friendship after love?

What's the point of holding on?

Where do you draw the line between love and friendship?

Would you go for the one you love or the one who loves you?

When does infidelity becomes acceptable?

Does two wrongs make it right?

Does karma exist?

Recent weeks' series of events left more questions than answers. As much as I want to know more, I am not here to judge, at least I tried.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What's in a Tagline?

A tagline is a branding slogan, a phrase that will reflect the product's concept or otherwise, it's a marketing tool to create a desired image in line with the company's mission.

In the Philippines, banks for one has taglines like "you're in good hands" with Metrobank and BDO has "we find ways". The former connotes confidence building while the latter aims convenience banking; both have somehow lived up to their tag line.

SM Malls goes for "we got it all for you" while Ayala Malls "because you deserve more", then there's Max's "sarap to the bones", Jollibee's "langhap sarap". Some claims ownership like Coca-cola's "coke ko 'to" and McDonald's "love ko 'to".

Even countries market their tourism sector with phrases like Wow Philippines, Amazing Thailand, Sparkling Korea, Uniquely Singapore...

Airlines like Cebu Pacific failed to live up to it's on time track record so they changed it's tag line from "99% on time" to "it's time everyone flies CP". The latter is a shift in marketing strategy to dominate the market by offering absurdly low fares. While PAL changed from "Asia's sunniest" to "It's about experience" to "Clearly No. 1", to highlight some facts or make a statement.

Asian Spirit on the otherhand recently changed it's name to Zest Airways, following it's new owner's Zest-O brand for drinks. By changing it's name it can save itself from the mockery of being tagged as "leave as asians, land as spirits". But what really struck me is their new tagline - "Asia's most refreshing airline." Duh, what's that again? I wonder what that tagline aims to convey or simply a lame effort to relate the word "zest" with "airlines". I hope it doesn't mean fresh air, the last time I boarded Asian Spirit, a fan is provided, that came in handy since there is barely cool airconditioning throughout the flight. Nevertheless, this is a welcome development to all travelers and a renewed challenge to the airline industry.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What Makes Weddings Complicated

Chinese weddings are known to be elaborate. It's outrageous how things have blown up, now, a wedding would cost roughly a million... let's say, P350k for the wedding reception for 500 guests, P120k for the bridal gown and entourage by a reputable designer, P100k for the flowers and ceiling work, P120k pre-nup, nuptials and post-nup photographer and videographer (having AVP is the in-thing), P50k for airconditoned church venue on a weekend, P30k for multi-tiered fondant cake, P25k for the wedding invitation, P20k for the wedding coordinator, P20k for entertainment/choir, P20k for ang-pao (red envelope) as token for the entourage these plus the engagement ceremony and the despedida de soltera. One can cut that into half, but that still is half a million.

Two of my friends just got married, they are quite opposite yet alike in many ways. The groom is quite skeptical about a lot of things, while the bride is quite in touch with tradition.

But what makes a wedding complicated? I'm not speaking about feuding in-laws, shot-gun weddings, us-against-the-world romance... It's about how wedding tradition complicates simple things. Common tradition includes:

PRE-WEDDING:
to send your daughter a watercloset, it's a privilege in old China to have one (common people use holes on the ground right?), put up a chinese lantern in your room til your first child, a male born on the year of the dragon shall sleep with the groom to be for a night on the matrimonial bed to be blessed with a son, siblings of the same sex are not suppose to marry on the same year.

WEDDING DAY:
the bride shall be combed by her mom using the finest bristle (those wooden comb use to remove lice), pregnant women are not suppose to attend weddings so are newly weds, younger siblings who marry first should pay their single older siblings otherwise the older ones won't marry.

POST-WEDDING:
the bride can only visit her parents house three days after the wedding, newlyweds are not suppose to attend funerals, weddings for the next year.

Chinese (in particular) wedding tradition has evolved through the years, making things more complicated with different version, sometimes contradicting the other. It's funny how Filipino-Chinese remain to give a big fuzz out of it when these are no longer practiced in China.

So to settle any contradiction, my friends got this palm sized book called "My little Kan Chiu Book" (my little wedding book):
They say, it has everything you need to know including Chinese dowry, reception, Chinese Astrology charts for choosing an "auspicious date". Tradition dictates to find that auspicious date, a good date that matches not only the couple but also their parents birth dates and signs. I just learned that these auspicious dates are released only sometime in August for the next year's date. With limited choice of dates, it can also be difficult to match those good dates on a weekend, with available church and reception venue. So we jokingly suggest that it's best to propose in July, be the first to find a date when the dates are released in August, plan, then marry the following year.

My girl friends has their own version, but this was more of the to do list filed in a ring binder. We promised to hand it over from one to the next. Having gone through four weddings, that sure does have all important and not so important details listed down. On the other hand, it could also be outdated. It's been 6 years since the last one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yin and Yang

We've been trying to find out what exactly is the english translation for the fookien word "tsin" and "diat", cool and warm is the closest I can think of. Every so often this comes up as a table topic. Chinese commonly use these terms to describe the type of food and it's effect on the body. So I googled, apparently it's called yin and yang.

Yin and yang is a Chinese philosophy, that seeks the essence of nature, a balance commonly related to two opposite but complimentary phenomenon.

Yin (陰 or 阴 "shady place, north slope, south bank (river); cloudy, overcast") qualities are characterized as soft, slow, insubstantial[2], wet, cold, conserving, tranquil, gentle, and corresponding to the night.

Yang (陽 or 阳 "sunny place, south slope, north bank (river), sunshine") qualities are characterized as hard, fast, substantial, dry, hot, excited, aggressive, and corresponding to the day.

The Chinese believe that to achieve bodily harmony, you must balance your intake of yin (cool, bland) foods with yang (the rich and hot). Do not be fooled by simple assumptions, as these terms often have nothing to do with the taste, nor how it is cooked. They relate to deeper essences of the foods nature.

Generally, new mothers should eat yang foods like fried pigeon since it is believed that tummy becomes cold after birth, same goes with those chronically fatigued. Yin foods, on the other hand, are recommended for the irritable, to pacify your mood. You might assume that all drinks are cooling; beer is, but brandy is not.

The Chinese also classify ailments as yin (cold) or yang (hot) and believe that as the body ages, it becomes increasingly yin. Such yin diseases as anemia are treated with yang foods, and assorted yang infections (sore throats, measles, etc.) with yin foods. So to ease dry (yang)cough, you have to take yin food, it means you can have ice cream but not chocolates!

Not all Chinese agree on which foods are yin or yang, but as a general rule, they break down as follows:

Yin Foods:
All bland or boiled foods, most greens. Almonds. Apple. Asparagus. Bamboo. Banana. Barley. Bean curd. Bean sprouts. Beer. Broccoli. Cabbage. Carrots. Celery. Clams. Corn. Corn flour. Crab. Cucumber. Duck. Eels. Fish. Grapes. Honey. Ice creams. Lemons. Milk. Mushrooms. Mussels. Oranges. Oysters. Pears. Peppermint tea. Pineapple. Pork. Potatoes. Salt. Seaweed. Shrimps. Spinach. Strawberries. Soya beans. White sugar. Tomatoes. Water.

Yang Foods:
Broiled meats, fatty meats and fried foods, hot and spicy foods, sesame oil, shellfish, sour foods, tangerines, vinegar and wine. Beef. Black pepper. Brown sugar. Butter. Cheese. Chicken liver and fat. Chillies. Chocolate. Coffee. Eggs. Smoked fish. Garlic. Green peppers. Goose. Ham. Kidney beans. Lamb. Leeks. Mushrooms. Onions. Peanut butter. Roasted peanuts. Potato. Rabbit. Turkey. Walnuts. Whisky. Wine.

On the otherhand, Yin and Yang also is a result of different cooking methods:

Yin Qualities: Boiling. Poaching. Steaming.

Yang Qualities: Deep-frying. Roasting. Stir-frying.

I remember

But seasons change and time erases the tears
As quickly as the rivers disappear
So while the song still brings that certain glow
And the words still sing of love I know
It isn't quite the way it was before
I remember the boy
But I don't remember the feeling
I remember the boy
But I don't remember the feeling anymore


A lovely song of moving on, no bitterness, simply letting go.

It remains inconceivable why my friend was stood up by her groom-to-be 3 months before their scheduled wedding. She kept mum about the reason, if there was any valid one, which left us wondering and speculating what has happened. Boys will be boys, bad boys can't turn good, can they? Nevertheless, I'm happy that she's moved on and I'm surprised that she finally spoke about her new found love. She found solace in the arms of a man who was annulled a month after his marriage to his girlfriend for 14 years. Hope they'll both find happiness with each other, anyone deserves a second chance.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blogging Influence

Being acquainted with the blogsphere has changed me in more ways than one. For one, it kept me company when I'm stuck at home (how pathetic!). It has opened my eyes into a world I never knew existed or let's say I never knew was of this great magnitude. A virtual world exists here with real people, unselfishly sharing their life experiences.

More than anything else, travel blogs have caught my attention. Reading these blogs makes me want to travel more than the usual. Traveling with great company has become my passion. As the designated organizer of the group, I handle all the headaches of planning a trip and the harder part of pooling in the right mix of travelers. Blogging got me acquainted with travel forums like virtualtourist and pex. Aside from that are real traveler's travel blogs like Anton, Tutubi and those in my blog roll. I also came across a couple of budget tour organizers like Owen's Diy Philippines and Travel Factor, that makes traveling more affordable and hassle free. I shall join them in the coming months. Hopefully I'll get a goodnight's rest during the trip unlike in the previous trips I've organized.

One more is having a travel mascot or as they aptly call as travel gnome. A travel mascot is a toy, a prop or anything that you bring around while you travel and perhaps take a portrait of them. Apparently not only Charlie Brown brings his blanket wherever he goes. My first attempt to travel with a travel mascot was four months ago. I named her Tokidoki simply it's from Le Sportsac's Tokidoki collection. I have to take shots candidly so that I won't draw strange glances from the people around me. I still have to overcome that shyness of doing it.


I've seen a few posts about travel mascots. I once saw a collection of island hopping trips with Disney's Lightning McQueen parked on those sand, that was so cute. I wished to share that here, but I can't seem to find that post over at Multiply. Of all that I've seen, I say Nina's travel gnome tops my list. These are no ordinary dolls, these are actually Pinky:St, a collector item. (This is another information discovered from blogging.) I love how these toys are portrayed on these pics, looking at them, I'm tempted to get one for myself. *wink*

How has blogging influenced you? You might want to share your travel gnome here too. :D

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hanging Rice


Puso or hanging rice or rice pouch is rice wrapped in shaped coconut leaves. Making it "portable", not to mention, biodegradable. If you're interested to learn how to make puso, check this out. It comes in different shapes and sizes.

I grew up in a household that eats puso when we go for a picnic at the beach in Mactan, Cebu. Everyday, on my way to work, I pass by a neighborhood that cooks puso in Barangay Day-as, along P. del Rosario Extension, Cebu City. It's best paired with lechon (roast pig) and street food like grilled chicken, pork or seafood and ngohiong (five-spiced fried lumpia). Many argue that it is not uniquely Cebuano. I didn't realize that it's not readily available in other parts of the country, not until a few years back, when my relatives have to order from here and have it shipped to Manila.

Puso sells between P2 to P5, depending on its size and the kind (quality) of rice used. The price hasn't gone up significantly. A restaurateur once commented that it's more viable to serve (simply) rice rather than puso. A cup of cooked rice can be priced P10 to P30 but never with puso.

During my frequent diving trips in Mactan, Cebu last year, I've been in search for the best tasting puso but I can't find any. During my trip to Kawasan Falls, I proudly introduced the puso to my friends from Manila which we bought at Carcar Market, unfortunately, it was too dry and hard, I'm sure my guests weren't happy about it. In my occasional indulgence of lechon at the mall's food court, I was disappointed with CNT Lechon's puso. 'twas dry, it can choke (an exaggeration maybe).


In my most recent island hopping trip in Mactan, my grand aunt brought puso. I haven't had that good tasting puso for a long time. She got it from Willer's Store. I can't help but ask for directions. Willer's Store is a small eatery that sells bar-b-cue, in one side street along Gorordo Avenue, Lahug (between JY Square & Sinangag Express). Puso is sold at P5, with generous serving size, they use ganador rice which explains why their puso tastes good and soft. They can be reached at +639163334779 or (032)4147145. They are open only at night, so you need to call if you need it during the day. I gladly volunteered to bring puso in our recent potluck dinner, I was sure a good puso was the perfect match for our tasty lechon and ngohiong. :D

(credits to the owner of these pics.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Executive Treatment

ECU stands for executive check-up. I don't remember the last time I had one, (if ever I did) so I volunteered myself to get one. I don't feel ill actually, I just felt the coming of age. Seriously, I thought I should have myself checked even I feel healthy before I feel unhealthy anyway, it's a privilege from our company's healthcare.

In preparation, I had to fast for at least 10 to 12 hours - no solids, no liquids. I have to confess, I cheated on the liquids. (hush, hush!) But I suppose small amount of water is allowed. My last meal was a bite of left-over sauteed lechon, oops I hope it doesn't affect the results abnormally.

I arrived at Cebu Doctor's University Hospital, the best equipped hospital in the city I must say, before 8am worried about long queues. As I presented the authority from my HMO, I was referred to the hospital's chairman's secretary. She gladly took the letter, had some forms filled up which shows the tests was worth more than P5,000 and informed me, she'll accompany me with all the tests. I had blood tests, (3 vials of them), urine exam, stool exam, x-ray, ecg, and ultrasound. I would have wanted a stress test but it's not included, I've tried all the tests before except for ecg, I kinda jerked at the start coz I didn't know it already started (oops!). I didn't have to queue, although not much patients were in line on a Saturday morning except for ultrasound which irked an out-patient why I was called in ahead along with other in-patients. I didn't expect this kind of service, apparently they provide extra assistance for all executive check-up packages. It was an executive check-up fitting for an executive.

An intern (Israeli or Indian?) found a cyst during the ultrasound but the radiologist said it's just physiological. As much as I don't want to think about it, the power of the mind is bothering. My dad was also asking for my blood results, I'm sure he'll take me to an alternative medicine clinic if something is wrong. The results will be available on Monday, but I will have to call to cancel my appointment, unknowingly, I have a meeting set.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Donsol, Sorsogon Travel Guide: Whale Shark Interaction

I must admit, I've been rambling too much about my two failed attempts. At this point, I'll put them into good use... I have compiled this extensive guide for Whale Shark Interaction in Donsol Sorsogon, probably the most extensive you can find on the net.

FACTS:

The name "whale shark" or locally called "butanding" comes from the fish physiology that is, a shark as huge as a whale that shares the same filter feeder eating mode. As filter feeder, these gentle giants feed on planktons, algae, and small nektonic life.

Donsol Bay has the largest concentration of whale shark in the world.


WHERE IS DONSOL BAY:
The interaction site can be reached by outrigger boat in 10 minutes from the shores of Dancalan Beach Area (Baranggay),
Town of Donsol, Province of Sorsogon, Region of Bicol, Southern Luzon, Philippines.

BEST TIME TO VISIT:

Monday, September 1, 2008

TravelMart

The 19th Philippine TravelMart happens this September 12 to 14 at SM Mega Mall. Organized by the Philippine Tour Operations Association (PHILTOA) in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, the yearly three-day event is the country’s largest travel fair and features showcase pavilions of the regional tourism offices, tour operators, hotels, airlines and transport services, plus other usual stakeholders of the local travel industry.

With the theme “Triple X: Xtreme Adventure, Xtreme Wellness and Xtreme Leisure in the Philippines“, this year’s travel mart will feature on sale a wide spectrum of adventure packages, ranging from low-impact activities to high-intensity tours, at discounted rates exclusive to the three-day fair.

If you have any travel plans, it might be worth the wait, tours and flights are expected to go on sale on these dates.

How I wish I could attend! The travel expo in Cebu was held in March, I missed that too.

Rediscover the Philippines as what I am doing, I'll be posting my own travel guide to Donsol and Banaue very soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Conspiracy Theory: 25 Years After Ninoy Aquino's Assassination

Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world.


I am particularly moved by these words of International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge during the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics which was aired yesterday. China has proved worthy of being host to the Olympics. They have been hounded with so much issues in the past, I hope the rest of the world sees China beyond its form of government. Undeniably, that was just a showcase of things to come, while other nations have to face that reality.

But what glued me on television last night was “Beyond Conspiracy: 25 Years After the Aquino Assassination” featured on abs-cbn by Foundation for Worldwide People Power (FWWPP). It reaches out to who are eager to know more about Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.*, his assassination, what happened afterwards, and who were the likely masterminds.

With so much written about it in the past, I've never bothered to read the news. I am as guilty as anyone else who have taken for granted what actually transpired. I was surprised to learn a lot more details behind his death. The documentary was very bold in implicating the possible masterminds and the conspiracy within the military. I never knew Marcos acknowledged Ninoy to be his best successor. I never knew Galman was really a fall guy, I thought he got away with murder. I never knew the person who shot him was his escort from behind, the angle of the gun shot wound proved it. I never knew about General Custodio and Ninoy's cousin-in-law Danding Cojuanco were implicated alongside the Marcoses and General Ver.

In the documentary, Ms Tina Monzon Palma, the onscreen presenter said:

“We’ve looked at motive, means and opportunity and have come up with a partial solution to the puzzle. We must now put the last piece in place by probing who had the ability—and the gall—to cover up the dastardly crime in full view of the entire world.”

“The temerity to kill the political opposition’s most charismatic leader in the middle of an international airport in broad daylight—and to telegraph veiled threats of these vile intentions weeks and months before—pushed the limits of Filipino sensibilities … the plotters must have calculated that, given some time to let off steam, Filipinos would soon file away the Aquino assassination in some dark corner where they store unpleasant memories that can be promptly forgotten.”


For those who missed it, watch the full-length 80-minute documentary here and see for yourself this conspiracy theory.

August 21 marks the anniversary of assassination of former Senator *Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. Returning to the Philippines after three years of self-imposed exile, Aquino was shot in the head and killed on August 21, 1983 as he was escorted off an airplane by soldiers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Aquino was a staunch opponent of then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino's death sparked anti-Marcos sentiment that led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where to Buy the Best Lechon de Cebu?

Lechón (Tagalog: Litson and Cebuano: Inasal) is the Spanish word for suckling pig. In the Philippines, it connotes a whole roasted pig, lechón baboy. Chicken and beef are also popular. The process of lechón involves the whole pig/piglet, chicken, or cattle/calf being slowly roasted over charcoal.

The pig had always been the center of communal feasts in pre-Hispanic Philippines, and "Lechon" is the normal manner it is prepared.


Undeniably, Cebu's Lechon is the best in the country. It is tasty as it is, there's no need for any savory dip to go with it. Ask for Mang Tomas (liver sauce) and Cebuano's will stare at you and laugh.

Cebu's lechon baboy is whole black native (free range) pig roasted over charcoal, skewed in bamboo, stuffed with herbs and spices like lemongrass locally known as "tanglad", salt (injected into the meat), pepper corn and more, then baste with either milk or soda or coconut water to keep the skin crispy.


I once saw how it is prepared, it's never a pleasant sight. Hot water is poured onto live pig to shed its hair and the rest is history. I've entered the roasting station of CNT Lechon, it is impressive to see several lines of mechanical rotisserie. That should make the cooking even, not to mention efficient.

We normally forewarn foreign guests, other nationalities especially from the west, find it barbaric to see a whole pig served on the table. But Chinese and Filipinos just love EVERY part of it, right? I feast on the belly and the skin, most on the ribs, some even rave about the tail, the tongue, the ears, the dinuguan (pork blood stew with internal organs), and the brain!

My previous post about Cebu drawn more than the usual readers, googling for information and contact numbers for Cebu's Lechon houses, there are hundreds of lechon houses in Cebu but these are the more popular ones:
NOTE: To contact via telephone, use COUNTRY CODE 063, AREA CODE 032

Cang's Lechon
Sanson Road, Lahug # 2328899
- the original Cang's Lechon, with crispy skin and tender meat, the fat looks like it's trimmed off, it's very tender that the vertebra easily collapse.

Cary Cang's Lechon (Edna Cang)
Sanson Road, Lahug # 2358886; +639276441923
-(similar to Cang's Lechon, now operating independently) my family's personal favorite. Aside from the usual lechon, a whole chicken (add P150 each) or rice can be stuffed inside. Imagine chicken or rice that tastes exactly like lechon.

Alejo's Lechon
Labangon # 2618575

Lighthouse Restaurant
Gen. Maxilon Ave # 2332383
-famous for Lechon de Leche, a few days old piglet, so tender, they use plates to slice it. For dine-in, you can order whole or smaller portions.

CNT Lechon
Archbishop Reyes Ave # 2326146
V. Rama # 2544249; 2546641
Juan Luna Ext Ave # 2335339
(with outlets in selected malls)
-famous for their retail outlet that sells lechon per kilo*, they can pack them in a box ready for cargo. Also available in Las Vegas, USA:
1203 E Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, USA # 702-270-2500


Se Ben's Authentic Cebu Lechon
SaveMore Supermarket, Parkmall branch
Reclamation road, Cebu City
# 4129799; +639173266999; +63922-8236168; benslechon@gmail.com
-promising new addition to the lechon industry

Rico's Lechon
Talamban, (Enrico Dionson, owner) # 3440119
-rumored for being former President Erap's source of lechon

Zubuchon (as endorsed by Anthony Bourdain)
(Edrid or Beverly) # 2365264 (M-F 9am-4pm)
Sunday Market at Banilad Town Center, Sundays, 10am-1pm


- but frankly, it doesn't come close to Cebu's best lechon.  You might just wanna try it simply because it was endorsed by travel channel Anthony Bourdain's blog.

Lechoncebu.com
www.lechoncebu.com
- offers the convenience of online orders, recommended by a few bloggers who are non-Cebuanos. I haven't tried this, but the published rates are quite expensive.

Carcar Town Market- famous for having lechon juice, a seasoned clear (salty) soup.

Lorenzo's Lechon Baka
# 4162849
- specialize in roast beef/calf with sweet brown sauce. My birthday party isn't complete without them roasting a leg for my guests. :D They also serve roast turkey and goat.

The price of Lechon Baboy has increased about P300 for whole and P50/kg compared to last year. During peak season, price increase about P200-500 or they serve a smaller sized lechon. Peak season is from December, extending upto January (for Sinulog). Normal price range now should be:
P300 per kilo
P2800 good for 20-25 (whole)
P3200 good for 25-30 (whole)

Updated price for 2010:
P360 per kilo
P3500 good for 20-25 (whole) about 8-10 kilos
P4000 good for 25-30 (whole) about 10-12 kilos

Airport to airport airfreight from Cebu to Manila costs about P500, the seller usually charge additional P100 for packaging. Including freight, it is actually cheaper to buy from Cebu than in Manila.

*lechon sold per kilo tends to use bigger and older pigs, the meat may not be as tender and the skin is thicker which tends to be harder even crispy. So I still prefer to order in whole, the younger/smaller the better. Don't worry about left overs, stewed (paksiw) or sauteed, they are still worth the added cholesterol. :D Our household cook has a superb recipe, I'll try it out soon and post the receipe here.

Ever wondered how to keep the skin crispy?
- while it's steaming hot, keep it loosely covered. Don't keep it too long in the (car) trunk either. The steam tends to soften the skin.
- while waiting to be served in an airconditioned room or windy area, keep it covered.
- reheat leftover skin (if any!) in pressure cooker or toaster on high heat.

A celebration isn't complete without lechon, Christmas season ('Ber months) is coming up, I'm so eager to feast on more lechon again with hanging rice "puso" to match it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Suroy Suroy sa Sugbo

Suroy Suroy sa Sugbo is a Visayan dialect that translates to "going around Cebu". Cebu Province's Gov. Gwen Garcia has spearheaded the project Suroy Suroy Sugbo. It's a way to promote countryside tourism in the province of Cebu. They have organized trips like:
The Southern Heritage Trail, Northern Escapade, Discover Enchanting Camotes, Explore the Midwest and Urban Adventure...

If my memory serves me right, my parents have tagged along in at least three of these. As they narrate, no less than the Governor joins the group and with her around, the group is always met by local officials with unparalleled hospitality and elaborate showcase of the visited town's best talents. My mom swears the performances are of world class standard. Some says it's like going through a political campaign, while others welcome that added attention from the locals, every stop is like a feast not to mention, food is free flowing. Aside from that, what's nice about the tour is the flexibility to choose the type of accommodation to suit your budget and you may opt to take their bus or drive your own car.



The next Suroy Suroy Sugbo will be on August 16 to 17, 2008, called Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2008 Urban Adventure. It covers city tour of Mandaue City, Lapu-lapu City and Cordova, then island hopping around Mactan Island including Olango (bird sanctuary) and Gilotongan Island (fish sanctuary) and an overnight stay in a beach resort of your choice. The tour ends with a showcase of Cebu's best talents with over a hundred performers at Cebu Parkmall grounds, right across Cebu International Convention Center, CICC.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Amici di Don Bosco

I've just learned about Amici di Don Bosco on my most recent trip to Manila. The night before my flight, I made plans to meet up with my friend L and she suggested Amici along Tomas Morato. I hinted on not having been to Trinoma, but she insists, she's not going any farther than Tomas Morato. So I agreed, not knowing anything where were heading to.



Amici di Don Bosco is an authentic Italian trattoria serving pizza, pasta, gelato and more. My friend's husband, gave me good background of the restaurant. It initially was a cafeteria along Pasong Tamo for Don Bosco Technical School. It was recently bought by the former owners of Red Ribbon. They now opened a new branch along Tomas Morato sporting a fastfood like look, much classier than their first branch's cafeteria look. We have to wait to be seated, we were sixth on the wait list. The way it is, I see it honing its way for franchising.

The Spaghetti White Vongole E Gamberetti is much more savory than what I've been cooking, it had anchovies in it. They use wood fire oven that cuts cooking time to 5 minutes; but it took them a while to serve our Shrimp and Basil Pizza. Then, there's Italian Garlic Sausage, Spinach Pasta, Strawberry Gelato and a liter of Tropicana Orange Juice, drinks are available by the liter which makes your meal much cheaper. With hungry pangs, I only got to shot what's left of our pizza:



The food is really good and the price is reasonable at P200-300 per dish. Best of all, twas my friend's treat. Thank you! :D But it's nothing fancy, I guess, us Cebuanos are spoiled by the many Italian Chef owned restaurants in the city like La Tegola, Idea Italia, Giuseppe and La Bouna Forchetta.

-0-

While having a chat with my chef cousin B, I've learned that Chef Giorgio Bucciarelli (developer of Amici menu, now no longer connected with Don Bosco) used to hold culinary class for Don Bosco Technical School. He paid about P1,500 per head for a class back then. That's not bad at all.

He was kind enough to share those recipe with me, yipee! :D I'll definitely be having an Italian feast in the next few months. :D

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage

How much of the UNESCO World Heritage have you explored?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

Five spots are identified from the Philippines:

1 Baroque Churches of the Philippines (1993)
2 Tubbataha Reef Marine Park (1993)
3 Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (1995)
4 Historic Town of Vigan (1999)
5 Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (1999)

I've only been to one, the Rice Terraces in Batad and Banaue. I've been wanting to go diving in Tubbataha but I guess I'm not yet skilled enough to go there. I thought Calauit Island Game Reserve is listed but apparently it's not.

I somehow equate the identified sites of UNESCO World Heritage as a must see travel places. I regret why I passed the chance to see the Pyramids of Egypt!

As I browse through the list, I've been to more UNESCO World Heritage sites than I thought:

1 Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing, China
2 Yungang Grottoes, China
3 Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, China
4 The Great Wall, China
5 Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay, France
6 Vatican City, Holy See
7 Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing
8 Palace and Park of Fontainebleau, France
9 Cathedral of Notre-Dame, France
10 Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge, France
11 Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci, Italy
12 Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, Italy
13 Historic Centre of Florence, Italy
14 Venice and its Lagoon, Italy
15 Cinque Terre, Italy
16 Works of Antoni Gaudí, Spain
17 Historic City of Ayutthaya, Thailand
18 Statue of Liberty, USA
19 Historic Centre of Macao, China
20 Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Canada
21 Palace and Park of Versailles, France
22 Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange
23 The Loire Valley

To add to my must see sites before I die:
1 Taj Mahal, India
2 Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China
3 Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, Philippines
4 Halong Bay, Vietnam
5 Angkor Wat, Cambodia
6 Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, UK
7 Grand Canyon National Park, USA
8 Pyramids of Egypt

But why am I looking at the list? With too much work at hand, I can't seem to focus on what I'll do first, I can't even clear the clutter on my table, I can't stop thinking about the long holidays that is coming up.

I somehow came up with the idea of a 6 day trip to cruise Halong Bay in Vietnam and see Angkor Wat in Cambodia. As I googled, looks like 6 days isn't enough, uh oh. Won't this be anti-climatic for a follow on trip to Coron, Palawan? Hmm...If you have any tips, do drop me a line. :D

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening

I missed the opening salvo of Beijing Olympics 2008.  With all the good reviews, I am but curious how it went... wow, it really is impressive.





Only China can pull off something like this.


Notice the missing FUWA (Olympics mascots)?  FuWa litteraly means lucky dolls, but superstitious belief has spread that the recent misfortune of China are related to them.


Check out a slide show, video.  Many videos uploaded have been suspended due to copyright issues.



for full length vids, download from http://www.mininova.org

credits to the owners of the pics - boston.com

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lea Salonga as Cinderella


My being a Lea Salonga fan dates back to when she first released her LP album entitled Small Voice. As a lil girl, every night I climb up on the sofa to reach the player and play and sing along with my favorite songs like the Alphabet Song, I Am but a Small Voice and Someone's Waiting For You. Those were the days when cassette tapes were scarce and CDs have not yet been invented. (how long ago was that?)

I have not followed her much as a teenie bopper on the big screen and on That's Entertainment, I know she too didn't like much of what she was doing back then. ;)

Her biggest break should be as Kim in Ms. Saigon, I flew to Manila from Cebu and watched her at CCP and I was so hoping that it should be her and not her alternate and YES, it's her! As the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Disney's Alladin and Fa Mulan in Disney's Mulan, I never thought she'd sound good for cartoons!

Over the weekend, I purposely flew to Manila from Cebu once again to watch her as Cinderella. I booked tickets and tagged along my aunt, 3 cousins and 5 nieces! I was so excited.

I am impressed with the production, performance, the lyrics & script and the whole cast. The carriage was oh so pretty; the rats were hilarious; i just love her gown for the ball and how it turned to rags ooh, they just made impossible things happen... everything is simply magical. Have a sneak peek!

Watching the show, brings me back to my happy childhood. I enjoyed watching these disney princesses finding their prince charming and lived happily ever after. I never realized their's was a case of whirlwind romance (ten minutes!), of course I didn't know anything about that back then. haha The story brings hope to anyone.

Nothing can dampen my spirit, not even a seven hour flight delay back home. Impossible things happen everyday in more ways in than one. :)

Rodger's & Hammerstein's Cinderella runs from July 29 to August 24, 2008 at CCP main theater. Tickets are available from P500 to P7,000 at www.ticketworld.com.ph or selected block sales agents. Their Asian tour will follow soon.

Do catch her...
*Lea Salonga will be performing on all shows sans injury or illness. According to Lea herself when I sent a PM on her multiply. ain't she so cool?! :)
*The show lasts for two hours. (There are 2 acts, each lasting an hour.)
*Show starts promptly as published (3pm or 8pm), late comers will be allowed entry minutes later.
*Cameras are not allowed.
*Be warned, there's a long line to the comfort room.
*Bring some cash, souvenir program (P200), a Tour Cast Recording CD (P550), caps (P400), shirts (P700), glass slippers key chains, charms, rat stuff toy (you'll appreciate it after watching the show) and more are available for sale.

More about Lea Salonga.

Watch and blog about Cinderella and win glass slippers!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Give Up on Cebu Pacific

To add to my long list of Cebu Pacific's bad service...

9. Our flight this morning scheduled at 10:15am left SEVEN hours later.

Need I explain further? At least two aircrafts were down (or so they said), as their announcement goes, 30 minutes before the flight "flight number... is delayed to 11:15 due to the delayed arrival of turn around aircraft." an hour later, same announcement was made and moved the flight to 2:30.
Thereafter, the boarding gate was filled with disgruntled customers with indefinite flight status. The manager on duty never showed up until some passengers went down to their office and demanded for free meals. They were able to negotiate and lunch was served past 2pm. Several flights were cancelled that day, hundreds of passengers were stranded in the airport (the only consolation is they now operate in NAIA Terminal 3). Passengers on cancelled flights got free airtickets (excluding taxes & fuel surcharge), overnight stay and three meals, while passengers on delayed flights for more than 6 hours gets free travel voucher, but we didn't get any simply because boarding announcement was made a few minutes before 6 hours would pass. Boarding announcement was made around 4pm but it doesn't end there.

This is another ordeal with Cebu Pacific, it is such a shame to us Filipinos especially Cebuanos for them deliver such service. During the whole time, I didn't bother to argue with them, the same people who assisted me during my missed connecting flight, was the same person handling us! I tried to haggle with my softest voice for our tickets to be refunded and be moved to PAL to no avail since the manager on duty never showed up to approve my request. So I quiet myself and bought The Secret.
But I couldn't keep my foot down, I went around, eavesdropped and talked to several strangers and shared experiences. Several passengers missed important meetings, several passengers came from Bangkok, their 10pm flight left 4am and were connecting on the same flight as I am.

I befriend the check-in counter staff, had our bags retrieved and had my ticket rebooked to another flight hoping it will leave earlier. Hours later, my original flight's aircraft arrived so I ran back to the counter and had my ticket rebooked again to my original flight. So my checked-in luggage and I were on separate flights, however, my checked-in luggage arrived earlier than me since we were kept an hour more on the plane before it finally left the runway. Sigh!

As we leave the arrivals door, the security guard asked us "you still taking Cebu Pacific?"

I don't exactly know how this will appear on the news, abs-cbn was there to cover it. I hope they will deliver an impartial report, a wake-up call to concerned government agencies to take some action.

NAIA 3

After much controversy which remained unsettled, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) 3 opens its door to the public last July 22, 2008. I was looking forward to seeing the place and bet my fate again on Cebu Pacific.

-1. The main driveway leading to the departure terminal was not as wide as Terminal 2, this will definitely cause traffic once the terminal is fully operational.
+2. The area where the check-in counter are, is spacious and has high ceiling, much like the terminal 1 of Hong Kong Airport.
+3. Terminal fees remained at P200 per head for domestic flights.
-4. Immigration counter are in place even for domestic terminal.
+5. There are two operating x-ray machines, separate lines for male and female
=6. The hallway leading to the boarding gate are wide but there are no shops constructed yet, except for center aisle kiosks of Delifrance and Go Nuts Donuts and make-shift stalls of National Bookstore, a convenience store and Cinnabon. Shops are expected to open six months later.
-7. The waiting lounge wasn't enough to accommodate the passengers considering it is not yet fully operational. There were four rows of seat that lead to a long stretch of boarding gates. It's not well lighted, it looked gloomy just like the weather outside.
+8. There's one walkalator.
=9. The comfort room has more than ten cubicles but toilet papers aren't always replenished. I overheard the housekeeper complaining to NAIA supervisor how dirty it has been. Actually, I didn't find it dirty, maybe the old lady can't handle all cleaning by herself with the numerous passengers around.
+10. Public Annoucement facility was available with make-shift speakers spread throughout.
-11. LCDs were not yet operational on each boarding gate. One make shift screen using excel file was show on screen but wasn't updated.


I am quite disappointed with what I saw. It's trying hard to be of international standards, had it been opened many years back, it could have looked more impressive. Actually, it's not yet ready to service the passengers. There are no enough man power, there are 8 running tubes but only 3 operators are available. No personnel available to assist the sick and elderly needing special care like wheelchair. As the steward on flight commented, the President's state of the nation address (SONA) compelled them to operate unequipped. The SONA was delivered 7 days after it's opening, did she mention anything about NAIA3? (I didn't get to follow that.) Flights are delayed for at least 30 minutes since and it is expected to remain that way for the next two months.

More than anything else, as I push my luck with Cebu Pacific, it just added to my already long list of bad service by them.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bargaining prowess

I could say my bargaining prowess is weak. I don't usually get the best bargains unlike my friend T. Maybe I'm just not the type who wants to argue, I'd rather keep mum than go over a lousy argument (with some exceptions).

With my bad experience with the lousy service of Cebu Pacific I know I have every right to sue them, I'll just put that on the shelf for the meantime. Yes, just for the meantime, wait til I get some connection inside, someone deserves to be booted out. tsk tsk tsk Anyway, i should learn how others bargain with Cebu Pacific...

1. Our family friend J. was bumped off on his flight to Manila, his father-in-law was a columnist, so he had his experience written in the national papers. They were offerred two roundtrip air tickets. I called him during my ordeal, apparently, he couldn't care less since he has swear not to ever deal with them again.

2. My friend A, together with her family was bound for Guangzhou, they were bumped off but after refusing to leave the counter, demanding that their hotel bills be settled as well, they were able to get seats! I think concessions were given to anyone who'd give up their seats.

3. My friend J, was bound for Bangkok, her mom was refused to take the flight for the reason she didn't have visa to enter since she's holding a Taiwan passport. There's no need for a visa, they insist yet she never get to fly nor got any concession. Yes, visa is not needed as confirmed by Thai immigration officials.

4. My cousin B, booked a connecting flight to Macau. Their local flight was cancelled so they cannot make it to the flight. He was asked to pay for rebooking fees, but after repeated calls, they were able to rebook for free.

5. My friend's cousin C, received a call and was offered if she could take an earlier flight and since she can make it earlier, she said yes and proceeded to the airport. When she got on the plane, the passengers applauded her. She learned from her seatmate, the flight was delayed for an hour and the announcement made was they were waiting for a passenger. Humiliating! Her story was published in the local papers, I'm not quite sure if she got concessions.

6. My cuz B along with the rest of the passengers were kept inside the plane for 3 hours before it was announced that the flight was cancelled.

7. Me, I've written my story. I filed a complain at the airport and sent email twice to complain but never got a reply. Keeping my cool, I worked out some documents, called every day to follow-up the cancellation confirmation, I got my tickets refunded three months later with the help of my credit card issuer.

8. Me, I booked again with the same airline last June for it's irresistible all-in rate. I got two calls while I was abroad that my flight was cancelled. (grr, I had to pay roaming rate for that) Luckily, I alreay decided to forego that ticket beforehand, I alreay booked another flight with PAL. With that, I'll get a refund for that cancelled flight that I no longer intend to take. *fingers crossed*

From these experiences, I've learned:

1. To always keep your cool.
2. Listen first to what they can offer, take a stand then bargain.
3. Never leave the desk until you get what you want.
4. Free tickets are no good, you still have to pay for the taxes and fuel surcharge.
5. To call their hotline, use local phone with speakers, you have to wait for as long as 30 minutes before your call gets picked up. It's best to call at midnight.
6. While on the phone, be patient, sometimes they'll have you wait for 10 minutes before they can give feedback.
7. On the phone, manage your anger, the call center agent now has on their manual to say, "sir/ma'am if you don't stop, I will hang up."
8. Check-in early but even with a boarding pass at hand, it doesn't guarantee you a seat.
9. Credit card companies entertain complaints only when a cancellation confirmation is issued by the airline.
10. Contact Arnulfo Alivio, director for Manila operations at (02)8536781.
11. Don't fly with Cebu Pacific ever again.

Their promo fare is irresistible so prepare to face your ordeal... yes, I have booked a flight home for Monday. I'm not in a rush, but I hope they'll redeem themselves this time. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Age of Marketing

The books tells you 101 ways to market your product... but there is no one successful formula. I'm no expert in this field either.

Have you heard of establishments with awards, like shopper's choice, outstanding retailer of the year and so forth? Yep, it doesn't only happen in the movie industry. As an ordinary consumer, I was led to believe that these companies were actually screened and given such award voluntarily. The truth is, these so called award giving bodies are actually advertising or marketing agencies. We received several notices that we are nominated as this and that and we shall be awarded in exchange for a sum of money. How can these be credible when a nominee has to pay for such award? It costs around twenty to more than a hundred thousand pesos to get that so called seal of excellence. Wow, such easy money for them! It shall remain credible for as long as the consumer remains ignorant of how the process works. Nevertheless, this new age of marketing seems to work.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When Harry met Sally

The other day, Ms. Corazon S. dela Paz, was interviewed on ANC. She is being hounded once again by media on issues relating to her resignation from SSS and her thoughts on the controversial Romulo Neri being her successor. More than anything, what struck me on that interview was her private story! She talked about how her name now is hyphenated as "dela Paz-Bernardo". Yup, she remarried last year and where was I to miss this news? Ms. dela Paz is actually my boss in my previous employment. She is highly regarded by everyone, I met her once in the boardroom of our office giving an intimate talk about her work life, the inside story on being part of the Saguisag Commission (Centennial Expo Scandal) among others and in another occasion, we got in an elevator at the same time. We couldn't help but keep the distance and cramp on one side of the elevator, as we felt intimidated around her. So she blurted out with a smile, "why is there such a big space between us?" and then we all laughed.

Read her simple but inspiring love story here with her high school classmate and golfing buddy, Ike. It's so cute, I can't fathom the thought how she managed to have a budding love life inspite of being overworked. :D

Monday, July 7, 2008

Simple things made complicated

Switched on the car's engine and it went click, 2nd try, 3rd, 4th and then finally it started. Later, in the middle of the busy downtown street, the engine went off and took another turn of the stop light and a couple horns honking before it started again. What could be wrong, when this car is brand new? After reading the car's manual today, we figured out that there is such thing as "engine immobilizer system".

Engine immobilizer system is a a chip built in the car key (holder). It's a security feature that prevents the engine to start with the use of unauthorized duplicate key. What is embedded in the key is one precision resistor. When you insert the key in the ignition, the resistor becomes part of a simple circuit involving 3 other resistors. If the key does not have a resistor or if the resistor has the wrong value, the circuit disables part of the car's electrical system to prevent the car from starting.

It's been a while since we last had a brand new car so I'm not quite sure how and when this thing is being used by car manufacturers. This is totally new for us. Apparently, when any electromagnet or metal touches the key, it interrupts and disables the chip from sending proper signals. So, key chains made out of metals should be position in a certain way otherwise, when handled improperly will cause it to immobilize. And there's one more thing... the clutch has to be (as in) fully stepped on (even on neutral) before the engine starts. Hay, simple things made complicated, don't you think?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Love is Mysterious

"It is a mystery why we fall in love.
It is a mystery how it happens.
It is a mystery when it comes.
It is a mystery why some love grows and it is a mystery why
some love fails...

Love always had been and always will be a mystery.
Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life.
If you keep your heart open it will come again."

-excerpts from Letters to my son by Kent Nerburn


Moving on is such sweet sorrow. The roller coaster ride makes life more exciting. While two failed, three has decided to tie the knot.

After being together for 3 years, he finally proposed, she obviously said YES!
And the latest buzz, after two months, (another) he proposed and got a yes too! I'm not really surprised but who cares! :D

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Her words

It has been a tough morning. We woke up at 2am as we heard a bang and found my 60-yr old roommate faint on the bathroom floor. She regained consciousness a few seconds later but it was a struggle to bring her up to her bed. She was cold, pale and dizzy, there were moments I thought she stopped breathing. I felt helpless for a moment not knowing what to do. Later, she felt better. So we went back to bed. Two hours later, we heard her calling. She was all sweat, pale and dizzy again. Not feeling any better, she started talking like it's her last. Her words send shiver down my spine, my knees weakening, I knew I was fainting so I moved away.

It is so odd to hear those words. I didn't want to listen simply because I know it is not her last, please not now, I thought.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Confessions of a shopaholic

I am a shopaholic in my own way. I am happy that I am not impulsive, you have no idea how much time and effort I spend before I buy. There are just moments when I feel like splurging, but that doesn't happen often. For me, splurging is a state of mind, because if I don't have plans to buy, I can settle with window shopping or not even bother to look around. I spend within my means, I don't believe in lay-away plans or installment payments. One thing I've noticed though, I'm becoming less thrifty now, uh oh! In recent years, I've spent on a couple of luxury items but I would justify it as an investment. What an excuse! ;P I recently listed them down for my future reference and I was surprised to know how much I've spent. No regrets though. :D

When it comes to less luxurious stuff, I've recently spent much on bags... light-weight-water-resistant travel bags and I'm still looking for more. :D I've also spent on clothes... I'm proud to say I'm slowing trying out new styles! haha It takes years for me to try out new things! I've always been stuck with classic styles and solid basic colors and it has been difficult to find them, so when I see one that I like, I have the tendency of getting it in different colors. The latest fashion has been better though, fit and flattering for my stature, it gives an illusion of some sort and it's heavenly to fit in the smallest size. hehe I've realized, as we age, we don't get sexier we just get "bolder". hahaha



(Promod was on sale today, that's 30-50% off! I hope the sale period extends more than just a weekend.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It only takes one morning

It has been three fun weekends and I am having a terrible hangover. For the past weekends, I've been beach bumming in Boracay, partying in Tagbilaran and team building in Shangrila, Mactan. What's more, I recently bought a slab of angus rib-eye and porccini mushroom (perfect for my home-cooked spaghetti funghi porccini) and had a tasty lechon, crabs & prawns last night! I feel like a bum... I've not been productive in the office, I haven't gone to the gym or played badminton since. I promised myself to wake-up early to attend baile latino, kick & punch and hip hop class since yesterday but failed. It only takes one morning to lift my lazy bone up, and I can't seem to do it. I hope I have not put on some weight. I'm looking forward to another trip in July and August, oh this isn't healthy! :p

*this is just a prelude of a busy year ahead!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Letting Go - Why I love Pacsafe

It's hard to let go of something that has become my constant companion.

I got this black sling bag from Esprit Factory Outlet in the US 15 years ago, it was pricey for someone who was a student then. I so love this bag that I take it everywhere I go. It has been with me in most of my travels simply because it's my ever reliable travel bag. At roughly 7"x10", it can contain my jacket, an umbrella, 185ml sunblock, wallet, face towel, tissue, candies, toiletries... seriously, it can contain all at the same time without having to take everything out when I needed any one. It even have a lil sister that my friend calls the "magic bag". During our trip to Davao, he was surprise to find out at barely 3"x4", it can fit my bulky wallet, a 185ml sunblock and a face towel.

It's getting worn out. I know it's even fully depreciated; I got these fifteen years ago. I'm ashamed to take it around with me now. I've been searching for that perfect replacement, but nothing seem to come close. If anyone has that in possession (preferrably brand new haha), I might be willing to buy it. Seriously! I can't seem to find something like that, light-weight, small but can pack a lot of stuff, versatile and can easily match my clothes. The le sportsac that came with my Tokidoki was fine but still not good enough.

So I'm still in search for the perfect bag to take with me to Ilocos in the coming days, to Coron in January, to Batanes in February and to Donsol3 in March! :)

-o- update

Two years later, I'm still in search for that perfect bag.  My needs for my so called perfect travelling bag has changed.  I can no longer leave the house without my gadgets: a dslr and a laptop; yet everytime I travel, I always worry about the safety of these stuff.  As I was surfing the net, I came across a post by my blogsy friend Nina about Pacsafe.  It's interesting to know that there's a bag designed for my travel needs.  I'm eyeing this CamSafe bag, perfect for my newly purchased Panasonic GF1;  the bag will still have enough room for its accessories, travel documents like passports and some toiletries for travel.

I'm also eyeing at this VentureSafe 200, hopefully my Vaio laptop fits in perfectly.  These anti-theft features of Pacsafe will be a perfect companion for my upcoming trip to Japan and more importantly to South America where theft is rampant.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What happens in Boracay stays in Bora

No electricity, no night life, no fancy resort but simply a long stretch of fine white sands and sand bars and clear seawater,  this was Boracay twenty years ago.




I've heard so much how Bora has turned into a commercialized touristy area since, seemingly nice and sad reality.  I arrived in Bora greeted by no less than it's lovely sunset, i could not help but lift my flipflops and stroll on it's fine white sands barefoot.  Yes, 20 years later, I am happy to see the sand remained white and fine, thank God!

(Beachcomber @ Station 1 by night) Chilling-out by the seaside, al fresco dining, drinking and dancing the night away... I think I had the most alcohol intake, my entire life combined in those three nights.  Exag? Maybe not!  I had my first taste of beer  (surprisingly, it doesn't taste as bad as it smelled), managed to stay sober with frequent pee break, I easily finished a bottle... a bottle of water! haha Alcohol and me just isn't the perfect match.


(Beachcomber @ Station 1 by day)  It is amazing to see the tides go low at night, making way for a larger space for the crowd to hang around by the shore. In the morning, the tides are high, perfect for a fun day under the sun.  I wonder if the tides ever go low in the morning and high at night?  In that case, there would be no seaside party!

While we were waiting for our hearty brunch at Lemone Cafe to be served I happened to browse through an article in the Inquirer entitled Bora's best-kept secrets - a write-up timely for six fellows undecided on what to do for the day, so we heed on:



Tip # 2. Rent a cabana at Waling-Waling and take an afternoon nap on one of the hammocks. Wake up to the view of the sunset and wonder where all those hours went.
 (The group needs to consume a thousand for the cabana, but since the manager was away, the waiter was kind enough to accommodate us. :D)

Tip #4.  At Nami, try the massage at their spa. You’ve never known kneading that good. - We tried calling (036)2886753 to 54, the cheapest massage service is @ P900, was it a good thing that no masseurs was available? hehe  So three of them opted for a massage at Waling-waling, I opted not to have one since I felt undeserving after doing nothing! haha Beach bumming it is!  I finally found the right term, that is exactly what we did for 3 days and 3 nights.

Bora is also enjoyed for its great food, so watch your diet, you may arrive with flat abs and leave with bulging belly!  The ribs @ Hawaiian BBQ, the pizza and pasta @ aria (italian for air), egg omelet @ lemone cafe, chicken @ Island chicken Inasal, fruits in ice cream... are superb but pricey!  Now, my mom tells me we should have gone to D Talipapa and buy-your-ingredients-and-we'll-cook-them-for-you system @ Plato D'Boracay.  I do not know anyone who's more frequent in Bora than my parents, they go there once, twice or thrice a year so maybe I should heed her tip next time.

I am so longing for another trip to Boracay and that should include:
  • a stay by a seaside resort  (i've walked passed the other end of Station 2 upto Station 1, and managed to visualize the map I've been looking at on the web, now I know where to check-in next!)
  • a ride on the flying fish (no one wanted to go on this, sniff!) and maybe try out kite boarding then have a well-deserved massage at Nami's Private Villa.
  • a glitter tattoo (i just envy my nieces tan line with those tattoo!)
  • another shot of the sunset
  • beach bumming once again with great company 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunset at Boracay

After 20 years, I've finally set foot on the fine white sands of Boracay again. 'Twas indeed an exciting vacation greeted by no less than it's lovely sunset...



three days later, it never fails to leave a lasting impression...




(raw pix by sony t-100)

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