Saturday, September 25, 2010

Binondo food trip

A few weeks ago, I couldn't stand the boredom that was my room. Most weekends, I would sleep the whole day. When I'm awake I'd check the net, facebook, emails then sleep again to make up for the sleep deprivation over the past work week.

For a change I decided to get out of my room and check what the world was like during the hours between 8am-5pm when I'm mostly at the office.

My travel plan wasn't anything grand or spectacular. I simply wanted to get my lazy butt of my room and go some place I have never been in a long while to exercise my mind and imagination that kinda stagnated with the monotony of work. I wanted to see and absorb things out of the usual so I could be more observant.

I know that going places not in your routine would do a lot to sharpen your memory. Traveling to and fro the office is routinary and doesn't quite jog your brain as much.

I had a short list of options. I could go to Los Banos, to UP for some nostalgia or I could go to Manila and just get to where my idle feet take me. I opted Manila cause it was much closer and I left the house late at around 2pm. Los Banos would have to wait another day when I leave the house a lot earlier.

So off to Manila I went. I would have wanted to ride a Lawton bus just like I did during College but it was a Saturday and there were very few buses plying that route especially around that time.

I took an EDSA bound bus and dropped at Magallanes then took the MRT to Taft and from there took the connecting bridge to ride the LRT.

Despite Manila being dirty and polluted and the crime rate, alarming, I still enjoy walking around its many streets and just absorbing the scenery. Of course I would have to always be on guard for pickpockets and snatchers more than I would, say in Makati but the local scene, the hustle and bustle, its old buildings dating way back from the American and Spanish colonizations are worth the extra effort to be mindful of the guy walking behind you :>.

I took the LRT and I must say there were quite some improvements in the coaches. When I was in college(early 90s) the coaches didn't change a lot from the time it opened operations in the early 80s. Now, I think it's slightly wider....say 20 percent and a little cleaner. The trains are now in Aluminum(paint maybe) unlike before when its body bore the beige and the characteristic orange srip.

Aside from the different route and the first letter of the acronym, what differentiates LRT from MRT are the type of passengers. MRT mostly caters to the working class, the yuppies. It's a mix of predominantly white collar and blue collar employees there. Only a few are students as there are very few colleges or universities along or near Edsa. I can name RTU, UP, Ateneo and that's probably the chunk of it. In LRT, most of the passengers are students as Taft avenue, the backbone of its route, the Edsa counterpart, is where most colleges and universities are. Aside from the students, the passengers are mostly Pasay, Manila, Caloocan residents. With the absence of a largely working class type it is not uncommon that you will see passengers wearing just slippers, shorts, and sandos. To put it bluntly, MRT passengers smell good while LRT passengers do have its stinkers.

I went to Robinsons Place in Pedro Gil as my first stop. This mall is fabulous. It's big and it looks pretty decent bordering to posh for a mall that is situated in Manila. The bigger and better malls are along Edsa but Robinsons Place in Manila will hold its own against them any time of the day.

I went to Healthway located inside the mall to have some skin irritation checked by a dermatologist. It so happened that the mall was the venue of the Party Poker Pool Championship which was televised live in ESPN. After going to the derma, I watched to catch a glimpse of some pool action. I was just whiling time away before I go to Binondo cause the heat of the sun was still heavy even at around 3pm. Close to 4pm I decided to head to Binondo. It was going to be a walkathon and 4pm was just the perfect time to explore the streets of Manila. I took a jeep and rode in front. I was supposed to drop in front of City Hall and take a Divisoria bound jeep from there but somehow, I opted to get off Quiapo. Perhaps I was still thinking of trying out Ma Mon Luk Mami and Siopao in Quiapo. But before I left home, I did my internet research and decided to going to Masuki(related to Ma Mon Luk as both were established in the 1930s and are both institutions). From the reviews Ma Mon Luk is quite dingy while Masuki is a tad better both hygiene and foodwise. When I alighted from the jeep I walked briskly as a deterrent to the pickpockets who mostly prey on onlookers and those who walk slow. I took the old overpass which was littered with vendors but they were orderly located in the middle serving as a boundary for two way traffic. I don't mostly stay long checking out what they are peddling cause I feel that in doing so, I am exposing myself to the pickpockets but I did catch a glimpse of an odd item, a vibrator. I wonder who buys these stuff. Talk about being non-discreet. It's so out in the open and the guy who sells it is so not apt for the job as he looked more like a perv than a deft salesman.

Had I taken the Divisoria bound jeep as initially planned, I could have dropped straight to Binondo church. Instead, I found myself having to take a longer route to get there. No, I didn't go to Ma Mon Luk so I guess my subconscious was just looking to punish my feet and knees more than it hinted that I check out first Ma Mon Luk to get an informed decision before trying out Masuki.

I walked along Raon and it gave me the " absorbing the scenery " high I was looking for. I remembered in college, we went there, to DEECO to buy electronic parts for our design. The place was busy everywhere you look at. It's an electronic bargain hunter's paradise. Raon is said to be the Akihabara of the Philippines although it's a very poor man's version of the famous electronic district in Japan. Stores in Akihabara sell branded items while Raon mostly sells electronic items cooked up by some ingenious Pinoy electronic enthusiast. Raon sells amplifiers and speakers, electronic guitar items and accessories, LED lights, streaming LED signages, unbranded MP3 players, china phones, portable DVDS. All dealing with electronics but not the branded personal electronic gadgets from Canon, Samsung, Nokia, Sony and the like.

Walking the whole Raon strip I found myself in Carriedo.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sun Life Prosperity Balanced Fund

Thanks to the long holiday, finally I have some time to update my blog. Since I made a post regarding mutual funds(MF) earlier, I'll follow this up with news on how I finally joined the MF investing bandwagon.

First on the choice of MF. I chose Sun Life because my brother has an insurance policy there. Also, my officemate has an actual MF investment in Sun Life. Though my brother's affinity is not exactly MF related, kindred spirit probably played more of a role there in pulling me towards Sun Life. Interviewing an actual Sun Life MF investor actually did more to convincing me. Seeing the actual receipts from his regular investments and hearing firsthand positive feedbacks sealed the deal for me. Of course I also did prior researching which involved checking the company background and reading other people's feedbacks in internet forums.

Now that I have my mind made up I took a leave from office so I could go to the main Sun Life Headquarters which operates only during weekdays. I could have just asked for an agent to visit me on weekends when I am free but my thinking was, if I'm gonna be stuck with a bad agent then I would gladly accept that as a consequence for going to the main office personally. That would be a much better bitter pill to swallow than to be stuck with a bad agent suggested by a friend or by the person in their hotline. At least if I end up having a bad egg agent, I've got only myself to blame and not any other person.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Frozen Yogurts Attack!

Frozen yogurt stores are everywhere. From the more expensive ones located in posh malls to the cheaper versions offered along the periphery of the SM grocery.

People are beginning to be health conscious and savvy entrepinoys are cashing on it by offering healthy substitutes and in desserts, we now have this frozen yogurt.

Frozen Yogurt has been in Pinas for quite sometime now. I think the pioneer is BTIC(Better than Ice Cream). But without having much competition, and perhaps the inadequate marketing strategy, their existence didn't create much of a buzz as do these fab and glam yogurt cafes like Golden Spoon, Red Mango,

BTIC sold their frozen yogurt ice cream substitutes in much the same way they sold their ice creams; in a small hole in the wall or in carts kiosk style.

In contrast, Golden spoon, Red Mango, White Hat went beyond that by investing on a larger dining area where the customers can sit and lick away, every ounce of it, their expensive indulgement.

Yes, frozen yogurts are ridiculously expensive. You pay 150 bucks for a few ounce which would put the old Magnolia Ice cream cups in shame inasfar as scrimp serving goes.

I used to veer away from Haagen Daz ice cream parlors because I thought they were pricey. Well they still are but with expensive Frozen Yogurt parlors everywhere, it makes you feel less guilty paying for 150-200 bucks for that littlest serving.

I tried Red Mango, Golden Spoon, and Tutti Frutti. I like the concept of Tutti Frutti which is self serve. You choose a cup from three different sizes(I guess it's three, I just chose the smallest) and you get to actually swirl your yogurt variety of choice as much as you want. Same goes with the toppings. The friendly people at the cashier just weigh the total contents of the cup and charge you for it. The customers have all the freedom in the world to be creative with their yogurt and topping combination. A word of caution though, don't get too excited putting in more yogurt than you actually want to pay for or you'd end up burning your wallet.

I didn't get all too giddy with Red Mango cause they only had the basic Yogurt and the not so tasty Green Tea to choose from. I had mango(cause they are red MANGO right?!) and nuts for toppings. It wasn't exactly something that struck my senses and I almost gave up on Frozen yogurts after tasting theirs. I'm not being too harsh on Red Mango but that was exactly how I felt at that time. Maybe because it was lunch and I'd be back to work in a few minutes that my mind and taste buds were a little distracted from fully relishing the sweet delight. Anyways, good thing I didn't totally junk trying Golden Spoon.

Golden Spoon prides itself for having yogurts that taste like Ice Cream. You see Frozen Yogurts, despite giving ice creams a run for their money, don't exactly approximate the taste that the saturated fat of ice cream brings. Yogurts will always be yogurts in taste(read: a hint of sour). And then here comes Golden Spoon. I didn't bother to find out how they get theirs to taste like ice cream. They even have a nutrition label as poster breaking down the macronutrient content of their yogurt and if what they really put there was true, then you'd wonder " How did it taste so darn good? "

I also tried Red Hat. Again, like Red Mango, not exciting. That's all I have to say about that. They could have at least made up for it by having a nice dining interior but I happened to eat on a branch that was put up along the walkway of the mall.

Golden spoon has the nicest dining area. The lighting is good, not so bright and the tables are spaced far apart. Upholstery is nice. Red Mango comes in second. Tutti Frutti exuded the vibe that was more like: self serve then eat outside despite having a small but uninviting dining area. In fact I did eat my yogurt outside because the place was so small and the tables all occupied.

Overall, I probably would be back to Golden Spoon. Can't wait to sample their wide variety of Yogurts.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blogging at Mcdonald's

Sleeping early has always been tough for me. I would constantly find myself looking for something to do until the wee hours of the morning that I only begin to try to sleep because I know I have to wake up in just less than four hours for work.

Mostly, that something to do is browsing the net or doing some work related projects that I tenaciously try to solve despite the non-urgency. Once I find myself hooked up into a particular task, it's hard to reason to myself the importance of having a 7 hour nap.

I live in a rented condo that is nearby to some 24 hour establishments. Among all these 24-7 fastfoods, I pick Mcdonald's as my place to loiter and while away time browsing the internet thru my ever reliable Iphone.

I like that the airconditioning is good and the customers, few, that even when I fall asleep( I sometimes do ),I am still in one piece when I wake up same goes with my gadgets sprawled across the table.

I simply order a diet coke and I munch on some crackers I bought from the 7-11 across the street. That option is much cheaper and lesser in fat. I've always frowned the fact that Mcdonald's doesn't offer much food in the "healthy" department.
They used to have salads but they pulled that out. It didn't end up being a regular fixture in the menu.

The healthiest, if ever there is, food you can eat at Mcdo is probably spaghetti. At least you are assured that the bulk of the meal is boiled and the fat in the sauce, you can control, if you won't mix it thoroughly with the pasta.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mutual Funds for beginners

I am looking to invest in mutual funds(MF). After years of witnessing my money getting defeated by inflation, I decide to put a stop to it. I choose mutual funds because I haven't studied in detail stocks yet. Knowing that the fund manager will do the investing and looking-after-my-money for me, I opted for mutual funds. I wouldn't want to get bogged down day and night looking to see how the stocks are doing so the stock market, for the moment, is beyond me. It's exasperating just thinking about that daily monitoring scenario. Again, I couldn't stress anymore why I choose mutual funds.

Some things I learned

1. Go for Balanced Fund with a little of your money on Equity Fund. They offer the highest yield. All the other products are just there to appease the scaredy investors.

Money Market, Bond Funds, GS Funds...those are practically almost regular banking deposit accounts in terms of interest. I am not saying you should totally disregard this conservative earning MF group. In fact they offer a good vehicle to temporarily park your Balanced and Equity MF investments when the economy is going sour.

In my case, I also have a large share of my money invested on T-Bills, Time Deposits, and SDAs that earn pretty much the same as these low earning but steady MF vehicles that it wouldn't make much sense to invest in them cause I would jus tbe practically renaming my Bank Accounts as "Mutual Funds".

2. Sales load, sales load, sales load. Look for mutual funds that have minimal or no sales load. Sales load is the commission that the mutual fund agents get for representing you or for going in between you and the mutual fund investment group.
Primarily, the agents job is to facilitate your placements. They also do other duties like informing you of the current status of the market and giving you advice on where you may want to park your money should the investing climate might be bearish as opposed to bullish. Agents are to Mutual Funds what Brokers are to the Stock Market.

3. Learn Peso Cost Averaging. Don't be intimidated by the financial terms that may spook you away from investing. Peso Cost Averaging is just a fancy name given to how, in the long run, you would see some significant gains if you keep putting in money to your mutual fund regularly. Volatility in MF investing is a given. Almost always, you end up gaining in the long run say around 5 years. Instead of paying one lump sum and not touching your money there until after 5 years, another option is to invest regularly in small deferred amounts. In this way the number of units you purchased have been spread over the period when they are purchased cheap or the times when they are purchased high. Averaging these smaller investments spread over time, you would almost always end up gaining without being stuck to paying for all your units in a fixed amount like you would when you subscribe to a one time payment.

4. Don't be rattled when the NAVPS goes low. NAVPS or Net Asset Value Per Share is the cost for a single MF unit. Say if the NAVPS is 2 and you invested 10,000 PhP, the number of units you effectively have are 10,000PhP divided by 2 or 5000 units(this assumes that you have zero sales load). You hear stories of disgruntled MF investors saying they lost a huge chunk of their principal in MF. Well they did so because the fluctuations spooked them like crazy and they withdrew their money prematurely and in such instances you are certain to suffer losses. MF are investments that are meant to stay there for medium to long term. 5 years is the magic number. To realise a significant growth, one should let his/her money stay there for 5 years before redeeming.

That's why ideally, the money invested in MF are excess/spare money. Don't ever try to invest your hard earned dough thinking that in 1 year you could get to pay for your child's college tuition based on the Year on Year data of the previous year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Afternoon delight

As has been my practice in all the elections I participated, I voted late in the afternoon to get away from the thick crowd during daytime. In the last elections I came in 30mins before the precincts closed and voting then was a breeze. Same thing happened yesterday where I didn't have to queue in a long line of humanity shown in the TV broadcasts early in the morning. Maybe it also helped that my precinct didn't hold as much registered voters compared to the others where the voters had to wait for 4 hours in line. Mine took just about a leisurely 15 mins including the time spent asking for where my precinct was. I had to check my precinct number with the local COMELEC group located in the school stage and fortunately, there wasn't a long line there too. The guy manning the COMELEC database was incidentally my neighbor so I guess that jump started my voting day right not having to endure the so called COMELEC personnel from hell, a byproduct of the humidity and temperature being all time highs.

Despite this elections having the most to candidates to vote for, I didn't bring any list to remind me in case I end up forgetting any. I didn't intend to vote much in the first place. Of course I casted for the president and vice. The senators however was a different story as I didn't complete all the 12 available positions. I wouldn't want to be held accountable should the country go in dire straits with "lemon" senators so I voted only for three guys whose background and capability I can truly vouch.

If I dragged a bit, it was in the local posts where I had to do some recalling for the councilors. I didn't complete the list also but what caused the stalling was some councilors I mistook for the other because of similarly sounding names.

There were a lot of onlookers at the back of the cramped classroom which served as my precinct. They made it a little uncomfortable as I feel like they were peering to see my choices. They probably are representatives for the candidates allowed to be there to guard the ballot or observers of some sort. They were just too close for comfort that's all I am saying. Someone should put a fence to keep them a good distance away from the voters.

Overall, I proved once more that afternoon voting is your best bet to avoid the hassles that you're sure to experience in the morning. I have proven it time and again so I recommend it to everyone. Hope not too much will subscribe to the idea or it would be just like tilting the seesaw to the other side. I want my afternoon vote to be hassle-free that means you morning guys should stay there...stay suggestion goes out for those who truly need the relaxed atmosphere, like the senior citizens and the like. :>

Sunday, May 2, 2010


My first post after a while. Rundown of what's new
1. I have been living in a condo for more than 6mos so I can be closer to work
2. I found myself staunchly advocating licensed softwares. Got me a windows 7 home premium in place of my licensed and oh so sluggish vista business. Soon after, I bought me an internet protection software from Kaspersky. Browsing and plugging in USB Devices have never been more secure. I tried getting a cadence allegro but the steep cost made me forget about it. Also got me 4 apps in iTunes store.
3. Lost some 26 lbs in 4 months
4. That's it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

May all of us be bountifully blessed this 2010

I hope for the following:

1. Peace
2. Recession be officially over. Consumers to spend spend spend. Get the economy rolling
3. To be as healthy as healthy can be
4. To learn new things. Spanish, Mandarin,
5. To go as far as far can take me
6. To be happy

May God bless us all!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

loving my Nokia E71 part 2

The Krussel leather case had a nice run until I finally figured out that the protection it promised was not all that it's cracked up to be. There was a major loophole, literally, on which the dust particles tunneled its way inside and that was through the square hole exposing the D-pad.

Despite using several stainless steel cleaning solutions, up til now, I haven't quite brought back the once scratch free metallic outlines back to its mint, fresh-off-the production line condition. It isn't quite as bad as I make it out to be but being an annoying obsessive compulsive fellow, my standards are quite high and at times, unrealistic.

I used a bevy of cleaning solutions from the very basic baking soda, to bananas, olive oils, and just about anything you can find inside your kitchen. When the cheap solutions didn't work, I bought a stainless steel polisher used for cars to clean its chrome parts. It did leave a squeaky clean polish that would make any military drill sergeant/inspector proud. The polished look will temporarily take your attention off the minor scratches but, yes....whom it would fool is you.

But I am the major critique. It is my discerning eyes which the polished look should try to fool or disillusion. But I am one tough customer and so long as I know, at the back of my mind, that there are scratches masked by the shiny clean look, then it just won't do. I won't settle for anything less than no scratch at all.

So I reverted to using the E71 comes-with-the package leather case. The phone slips right through inside easily and it is a fine looking piece of accessory, I must say. I set it aside cause I initially preferred a body hugging case that would protect the phone in case it accidentally slips or if something hits it. The default leather case won't do that round the clock as you'd have to take out your phone should you use it. It's just a slip-in slip-out case and not a 24-7 workhorse which the Krussel was(until I ditched it).

somebody dunked on Lebron

Some college hoopster dunked on LBJ during a pickup game of a Nike sponsored basketball camp. A video of the incident was recorded by one of the people watching from the sidelines which the ever careful people of Nike quickly confiscated after reportedly conferring first with LBJ. Apparently, according to Nike, video recording in the camp without their knowledge or permission is prohibited granting them rights to claim ownership of such materials.

Nike is doing a good job of playing its role as spin doctors by quickly implementing damage control to protect the image of its number one endorser to the hilt. Nike has spent so much for LBJ ever since he had been viewed under a microscope dating back from his prodigous highschool career.

This series of unsolicibbted publicity adds to the negative publicity James have recently figured into. Just a few days ago, James was reported disclosing his intent to stay as a Cav past 2010 apparently as a bargaining chip to lure Ariza, who already verbally committed to the Rockets, away from Houston to sign with the Cavs.

LBJ isn't exactly a media and fan darling Nike had hoped to. His recent playoff debacle is another stone to throw at LBJ and his stat filled credentials that haven't translated to a ring seven years going to the NBA. Critics are having a field day blasting Nike for what they perceived as undue hype accorded to the player. People have become well aware that a ring is the ultimate validity of a basketball player's career and until LBJ gets one his not so original pre game ritual of spewing powder.....the mimes are are interpreted as arrogance

Nike is still waiting for the ultimate validity that will save their faces years after having anointed LBJ as their flagship basketball shoe endorser. Until that day comes, LBJ is just another marketing icon playing one man flashy basketball

Saturday, July 25, 2009

loving my Nokia E71

Being a previous owner of the calculator shaped E61, I immediately fell in love with the ergonomics evolution of its incarnate, the E71. It didn't take much tinkering with the demo unit to convince me of buying one right away after all those days spent reading the reviews which gradually built the anticipation to actually get my hands dirty with one.

When I finally got me my own E71, I realised that the chrome finish and the stainless steel armor warranted a more body hugging carrying case to protect it from the outside elements plus the usual bumps and bruises it will inevitably be subjected to it being a pocket device.

I thought I made the wisest of decisions in buying the E71 Krussell leather case. The phone fits inside snugly with the qwerty keypad and the screen well protected from scratching with the plastic cover facade sewn to the leather material at the back shielding the all-stainless battery cover.

I had the leather case for a little more than 6 months. Yes it dampened the otherwise brilliant look and construction of the phone by shielding all the best angles in high grade leather but it was something I was willing to take so long as my phone gets the utmost protection.

Every now and then I would clean the phone and wipe away the dust that collected inside which found its way through the square opening of the plastic cover which was so designed to expose the directional-D-pad.

Just a few weeks ago, the dust that collected at the stainless steel bottom part of the phone was being as stubborn as my 4 year old nephew. It won't wipe off. The almost vacuum fit of the plastic side of the Krussel case must have pressed the dust particles ever so tightly that no simple wiping would do.

To make matters worse, tilting the phone at an angle under fluorescent lighting, you can see that there are also minor scratches. Darn it to heck! The very case bought to prevent premature visible damages is the one that is actually causing it. It was really frustrating to say the least.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

skyway traffic

Putting up with the horrendous traffic jam along south superhighway is squeezing out every ounce of my patience juice I'm gonna crack anytime soon.

The ongoing completion of the Skyway phase 2 connecting Bicutan to Alabang is rekindling stressful memories I had all throughout college as I similarly had to put up, for 5 years, 2 hour-one way trips from our place to Manila when the first stage from Buendia to Bicutan was being constructed.

Two years is the projected timetable for the completion. It is amazingly short compared to the rate they did it the first time but still, I am terribly flustered that while some are getting the worst of this Skyway-construction-induced traffic for the first time, I am counting this as my second.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weight Reduction

Dwight Howard of the NBA's Orlando Magic is an imposing figure at 6'11" and 268 lbs. He's made a name for himself as that big guy who can soar for a dunk. His broad shoulders are the envy of many a man with the shoulder balls being almost the size of his head. In short, he is a physical specimen that would easily make the shortlist of humans you'd want to preserve and whose genes you'd want to perpetuate in that doomsday scenario where a comet is set to obliterate all of mankind as we know it and you can only accomodate so much inside the man made contained ecosystem somewhere along the mountains of Texas.

Dwight is 6'11" and 268lbs. I am 6'0" and 240lbs. Something just doesn't seem right with those numbers. No, not Dwight's, but mine.

There is an 11 inch height margin and only 28lbs disparity? Most height-weight charts suggest men should weigh 6 lbs for every inch past five feet. Going by the numbers, I should just weigh between 172-180 but there I was(note time verb) weighing 240. Portly, however offensive, would be inappropriate to describe how Earth's gravity describe my vital stat entry.

It's not so much how I'd look at 240lbs that worries me( who am I kidding, I look awful and it bothers me like sheet), lurking from the background is the issue of health which I should pay a little more extra attention to cause I am predisposed to cardiovascular diseases and its complications more than the average Joe no thanks to my genes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

H1 Ewan

Well I’m back here again in China. Despite my initial resistance to travel due to the swine flu scare in Hong Kong, I find myself back in China. I won’t go anymore as to how I eventually relented cause it’s a long story where eyebrows were raised, there was howling , and the requisite grinding of teeth(No, not really but adding some drama makes for an interesting read). So off I went from Pinas to Hong Kong but not without fully equipping myself with all the right protection and stuff. I had me vaccinated with human flu antibodies which would very well last me for six months.

Yes the human flu vaccine is not for the swine flu strain but as most information against swine flu suggests, a human flu vaccine is better than no vaccine at all. I also stocked up on Vitamin C, Centrum, Bioflu, paracetamol, an antibiotic for tonsils, and 6 packs of strepsils. Aside from that, I ditched sleeping late and I am now chalking around 6-7 hours of sleep which is a huge departure from my usual 4 hour sleep. I also got this pocket atomizer which I regularly refill with alcohol(I bought 3 bottles totaling almost a liter). So everytime I deem the cleanliness of my hands have been compromised, I pull out from my pocket me little atomizer and just spray like mad. I spray like I have a lifetime supply of daily 10 liter alcohol provisions.

My hands have never been cleaner. The practice of spraying my hands also extended to my clothes and everything that comes in constant contact with me. I also spray my pants, my bag, anything that my paranoia dictates have brushed against any virus harbouring surface.... I just spray ‘em.

In the airport, most staff were wearing masks but very few passengers did. Maybe just around 6-10% of us did(yes I forgot to mention I also brought a mask-goes to show the preparation I went through making sure I wear that medieval armor protection like in the cecon commercial). But among those who wore masks, mine was the top of the class. I was wearing N95, now beat that. Other passengers wore the run-of-the mill good for nothing cloth masks. Mine was N95 baby!

N95 is not for those who'd like to be reminded of what their last meal smelled like.
This respirator has so little pores for particles to exit that those who have claustrophobic tendencies had better stay away from using it. I was in the wide open space of the airport and yet I felt like I was inside a torture chamber with the way I was like....gasping for air. I never realised that breathing can be such a daunting task.

I guess removing the mask every now and then defeats the purpose of using it as my hands would always come in contact with the cup. Touching the mask every so often increases the risk of polluting it with virus and germs that you'd effectively be fixing yourself your own virus culturing mini-lab which you'd be slamming right across your face.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Don't drink large Iced tea lite

Lately I've been reading stuffs on how to spend your money wisely. Yes I guess I've come to my senses now where the initial fascination I had over buying a car has gradually waned and has been replaced by the realization that this really is not a good time to be buying anything you could temporarily live without. To my credit, I knew that it was just a phase although it had, for a time, consumed my fancy.

I am not really a spendthrift kind of guy when it comes to buying food. Same goes to my choice of transpo as evidenced by my preference for riding a taxi from Edsa on the way to office and back. My budget is easily setback by 200 bucks just by those two taxi trips alone. As for food, I constantly find myself buying a large iced tea lite, and sometimes with fries, on the way home before riding the bus. So long as it is for food, I don't scrimp on shelling out money.

Perhaps being single and having nothing to worry about setting aside for living expenses for the wife and kids allow me to be a little generous with my daily expenses even though good sense tells me that I could be a little more frugal.

So I did a run down on how I've been financially behaving for the several years that I have worked since graduating from school. For reference, I went by with the wise advice which promotes saving at least twenty percent of your monthly salary. So I made this excel file. On one column I wrote down each working year. On another column, the base salary. A third column for the base salary multiplied by twelve months. And the last column multiplying the previous one to 0.2(twenty percent)

Adding all the twenty percent for every working year I supposedly was to save, I am still short for a certain amount although this is something I could still save since I projected the completion of a working year up to December. Deriving a pro rated value up to the last full month of April, I was able to compute that I've just been saving 17.8% instead of 20%.

The funny thing however is that the 17.5% wasn't uniformly spread throughout every working year. I know for a fact that I've saved a considerable amount just now and if it weren't for that, my saving habits for the years before would definitely look bad say just about.....10%. It's only now that I've recouped yet I am still 2.2% short.

Compared to my peers, I am not doing a heck of a job saving money. Three years ago, a friend whose salary closely equaled mine was able to buy a second hand car, spend for his wedding, lost 40k in a pyramiding scam, bought a motorcycle a couple of years earlier, and was able to save enough money to pay for the migration processing fees and is now in another country with his wife and kids.

He was quite the spendthrift and I am amazed to how much he was able to stretch his budget with a meager salary.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

passport renewal experience at DFA

I had my passport renewed at the DFA main office in Libertad, Manila. Normally, our travel agency does this for us but it takes them 3 days more than when done personally. I am set to leave in 10 days which is just about the same time our agency will have secured my renewed passport so I am better served taking this option which is rather arduous but faster.

You have to do a lot of asking to find your way around inside. The security personnel are your best bet to help you find your way through because there are no procedures/guidelines written on any piece of wooden board ( as I expected to see in old government buildings) to assist you. You just have to fend for yourself.

I was directed to the basketball court for the " appointment procedure" which you could also do online but judging from how simple it is, I'd rather not burden myself checking over the internet cause the actual procedure is nothing more than 3 stages of stamping which takes just about 5 mins.

After stamping, I was instructed to go to gate 2 which does have a signage saying "GATE 2" but barring any attempt to ask questions, these are nothing more than just plain landmarks. Inside the gate 2 facility is a building full of people on queue from just about everywhere you look but again, there are no signages telling you what to do. There are many entrances and exits aptly labeled but what do I make of them? Again, I asked not one guard but two as the first one simply said go there pointing straight to the exit. Every security guard I asked, I showed them my papers to lessen the explaining. I figured, given the lack of concrete instructions on how you should go about, the security should be well versed by now bearing the brunt of telling clueless applicants where to go, what to do next.

The second security told me to go to the queue outside the building. I saw a throng of people in a pavilion which is a surefire inconvenience on rainy days cause the roof is barely 4 meters wide and there are no walls, just posts to shelter you from the inclement weather. Most are seated on monoblock benches but it ran out on me so I had to stand.

I asked the person last in line if that was the queue for passport renewal. He gave a nod but as I peeked over his papers, he was a first time passport applicant. There were some standing in the same line though with green passports and the same stamped papers as mine so I figured that this queue must be a mixed lot. There are about 150 persons ahead of me waiting for just two windows: authentication and releasing to open.

I came around 12:15p.m. which was break time but the appointment guys in the basketball court were open for business and there was no huge line there so I took the chance to get that done with. This Q I was lining for in gate 2, however, given that they were accomodating first time applicants and renewers, was longer and the authentication and releasing windows were closed for the lunch break so the heavy line was mounting by the second.

The windows opened on cue at 1 o' clock. The people in front of the line hurriedly stood up and made their way to the windows. Some though didn't budge from their seats so the anxious ones overtook them and then it was chaos. I was very far to hear what the commotion was about which the guards quickly intervened and dispeled .

A few mins later, the majority of us were directed to go inside the building. Fuck it. It turned out that we were just made to wait outside the building, in the pavilion cause it was full inside. The authentication and releasing windows, which I took notice as being insufficient to accomodate us all was not really for us. That explained why some people from their seats didn't budge. Apparently, they were just waiting there until it got flooded with people with the same concerns as mine because inside the building, where the actual processes were to be done, was crowded.

The next step was the assessment of the docs for all types of applicants-renewers and first timers. From outside, we made a slow moving beeline to the docs assessment room which is but one of the many rooms inside that building. As I was moving gingerly I noticed that there were many independent lines with no markers to identify what they are for. The whole building was not well lit and again, I say, fuck those exit, entrance, cashier, releasing, authentication signages without having a complementary flowchart on what to do. Finally I was inside the doc assessment room which I labeled as such only for the lack of identifier.

Now picture this: This room had to be the biggest inside that building. The room is rectangular and the entrance is along the width. Our line entered the building on the right edge/length parallel to the wall. To my right is of course the wall and to the left are several columns of monoblock benches which when seated, you'd be facing rows of similar benches each of which are perpendicular to a booth like the ones you see on banks where a teller does her business. There seems to be a singular ratio of bench to window although it is quite odd that the bench is perpendicular to the person inside the booth meaning your shoulder would be facing her and you, you're facing the dandruffed hair of the person in front of you on the next row. I was still trying to analyse what happens next. I saw the farthest end of the room where the line seemed to end as the people were beginning to sit on the benches when suddenly, the girl in front of me, sat at the adjacent bench.

I then asked the guy behind me if I thought correct. I figured, we could sit on any bench we choose and not have to wait to reach the end of the line. Suddenly, people were beginning to also sit on the benches beside them and for good measure, I asked the lady already seated if what I thought was correct. She confirmed what I have been thinking all along. Fuck, I had to figure that out for myself. Talk about complicating things. This is exactly what I've been harping all along " WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE PUT THE PROCEDURE IN WRITING! "

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wiener Whiner

A hotdog is a mixture of beef and pork and chicken trimmings. Flour is added on the mixture plus some flavorings which depend really on the geographical location as some may like it spicy, bland, sweet. The meat combination goes through several mixing machines after the initial grinding. In later stages, water and some corn syrup are mixed to add a tinge of sweetness.

Smokey's is one of the more popular hotdog stalls in the country. Hotdogs haven't supplanted the Pinoy's love for burgers as a staple fast food but it is stil there. Jollibee, a famous burger joint, even included hotdogs in its menu.

For quite some time the footlong had its run as a fast food alternative to the burger. Footlong's main appeal is the quantity. Costing just a few pesos more from the basic burgers of Mcdonald's and Jollibee, these footlong sandwiches sold by no-name stalls that also sell fish and squid balls had its day in the sun until the fad simmered down. The initial appeal of quantity, in the long run, was drowned by the fact that Pinoys just haven't quite developed a permanent liking for the hotdog. Sure you could keep it there in the menu should the taste buds decide to have something different but you couldn't keep forcefeeding the Pinoys hotdogs as much as you could, burgers.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

short-lived marriage

What a way for Allen Iverson to end this season. He was shut down by the management owing to his back injury which supposedly requires an additional time healing but somehow you couldn't dismiss the fact that this came just after a recent interview where he expressed his frustration over his new sixth man role.

In just two games coming off the bench, AI made a 180degree turn by saying he would do what was required of him the first game and then hitting management's decision for rushing him into playing despite a back injury the next game.

Things are not looking good for AI come free agency this summer. Before these two games, AI sat for quite a while trying to recover from the injury. The Pistons made the most progress during this period which drove a lot of people to think that AI's prolonged recovery from the injury was really more for the bruised ego than it was anyway lumbar related.

If that is the last we'll see of AI before his contract expires we probably won't hear a lot of juicy offers for him this summer. While we know that he won't be duplicating this season's paycheck of 22MUSD when he negotiates for a new contract, the chances of AI getting a paycheck commensurate to his talent and box office draw have severely taken a huge blow with this recent tantrum. I don't even see how he could undo it even if he hypothetically does play the remaining games.

The tenure with the Pistons was bad for AIs contract year since his deficiencies that we knew all along had been revisited and verified. Analysts project AI to be getting the mid-level exception of 5-6M USD as max. This is truly a huge demotion for one of the league's premier players and it stemmed not from a severely diminished skillset, as we know he can still put up 20-25ppg, but it was more due to the realization that AI's mentality towards playing basketball is forever flawed and can't be rectified anymore, not at 33 and not in the next few years.

another day, another wedding

I'm sick and tired of having to attend weddings as it is a screaming reminder of how I should be tying the knot myself. This one particular wedding though was an exception as it was my officemate's, J's wedding. I have a special fondness for J as I have seen her grow professionally from her first day at work (which incidentally, is also her first job) up to her becoming the more consummate professional she is now. J will always be our younger sister who is the benchmark of youth since she was born the year of EDSA 1 when we were old enough to have vivid recollection of that fateful revolution while she, she doesn't have a single memory cause she was a toddler then. J comes as sweet, childlike, and genuine that is why when she invited me to come to her wedding, it was hard to say no and at the same time, say yes given how I have recently developed an abhorrence being at these events. I didn't commit at first although being there, witnessing another milestone in her life was something I would definitely not want to miss. When she overheard me asking another colleague how to get to the church she took that as RSVP and that perhaps sealed the deal- I was definitely coming to the wedding.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Oppressed or Off the Press?

chip tsao, the controversial hk journalist whose attempt to a supposed political satire backfired when he referred to the Philippines as a nation of servants recently appeared before a Pinoy audience in the HK Philipine consulate to personally apologize for his alleged racial bias.

one member of the audience didn't think tsao's apology was sincere and he didn't mince words in giving chip a piece of his mind. The irate guy stood from where he was seated and told tsao that he personally thought tsao was lying and that the public expression of apology was a sham.

When is an apology an apology? You'd think that Tsao appearing before a pinoy audience asking for forgiveness is the most he he could possibly do. On most occasions it would. A personal expression of apology almost instantly heals most superficial wounds and sometimes even the deepest cut but Tsao treaded along the sensitive topic of nationalism. Despite it was his own point of view and that he wasn't speaking for any group, minority, or nationality, racism is always frowned upon. That tsao's profession afforded him the ability to reach a larger audience/readership makes it all the more imperative that he stray away from culturally sensitive subjects. Unlike most of us bloggers, Tsao's opinions are viewed differently by virtue of his profession and of his medium-HK magazine. He is more under the radar so to speak.

Some political personalities took the opportunity to gain some media mileage out of this. The politicking Mr. Golez even went as far as saying all he wanted was for tsao to acknowledge his challenge for a round of boxing and after that he would forget but not forgive. Yes, it is a bit disconcerting that Golez' remark has some sort of disconnection there. He sounded like he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. The lengths people would go to just to ride the wave of popularity.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Need for speed

I want to drive again. The last time I've driven a vehicle was ten years ago during the time when my dad had just been discharged from the hospital after his stroke attack which prompted my mom to let me assume the driving chores.

I remember that day when my cousin went to our house and we took the car for a spin so as to refresh my driving skills which I never got to polish as my dad never did allow me to drive the car despite me enroling in a driving school four years earlier.

Given that my previous driving experience was a rather crude know-how of moving forward and back and some basic turnings, I was rusty to say the least.

My cousin was perhaps expecting that he would be teaching me from scratch that he was mildly surprised when I was able to maneuver the car which is basically good but still not road worthy yet since our practice was largely done on the less congested part of a neighbouring village.

That was the last I've ever laid my hands on a steering wheel. Eversince, I haven't been eager to one day drive another until now.

Well perhaps my sorry state of being single after basking into a fleeting moment of projecting myself diving into the uncalm waters of married life is largely contributing to my anxiety of seating in the driver seat.

I saved some money for my wedding fund thinking that by now I would have already been married. Well things didn't quite turn out as planned but if there is any consolation I could take on my botched relationship it is that it left me with some dough to entertain thoughts of buying a car.

I am fuckin _ _ years old with no marriage future in sight. I might as well enjoy being single by living it to the extreme.

Hahahahaha....Im crazy...and hungry....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour

Last night was earth hour. We turned off our lights for a little more than 60 minutes in response to Word Wildlife Foundation's call for everyone in the world to allocate one hour lights-off beginning from 8:30 to 9:30p.m, as per their time zone, as a sign of unity and awareness concerning the effect of global climate change.

This yearly practice promotes awareness and at the same time, actually contributing to ease off the consumption of electricity produced by power plants derived from burning fossil fuels which adds to the carbon dioxide emissions that confines the heat within the biosphere thereby warming the earth.

Earth is warm, the polar region glaciers and ice caps melt, the sea level rises and pretty soon it would paint a doomsday scenario. One hour may seem trivial especially since it is done once per year but so long as everybody is aware, it could go a long way as it targets one household at a time.

Those who took it to the extreme turned off not just the lights but all electricity consuming appliances. I would have done the same until I realized that my laptop is " ENERGYSTAR" compliant. Energystar is a worldwide standard which electronic devices are compelled to comply with and whose main objective is to reduce power consumption when in standby and improve energy efficiency when in use.

Technology has gone for the better to improve the energy consumption of electricity powered devices. It is good that something is being done now however disproportionate its contribution is relative to the actual need to just about even out the sorry state of the world's carbon emissions.

Just now I unplugged the power adaptor of my other notebook I am not using.
I guess this is what earth hour intends to accomplish.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

vios vs city

Despite convincing myself that this is no good time to buy a car, I still indulge in reading countless reviews of two potential buys anyone might want to take a good look at later should the business climate weather the current financial storm and that buying a luxury item will have become justifiable by then.

Toyota Vios and the Honda City are one and two on the subcompact category here in Pinas(the Philippines). Vios, of course, lays claim to the number spot for its low price plus the quality tag that the name Toyota carries with it. Honda is number two not so much because it is lower in quality(it definitely is not) but more for the heavy price tag.

Consider this, an entry level Type J Vios costs 585k PhP. Its entry level Honda equivalent, the City Type A, costs 676k PhP. That's easily a 13 percent price swing which would be a Honda dealbreaker to some. The Honda fanboys would however argue that this is an unfair comparison because the City's entry level has far better accessories than the scrimped type J Vios that the former should draw comparison to Vios' improved entry level, the Type E(649k PhP).

This is where the the great debate comes in. You can never compare each manufacturer's entry level apple to apple. The type A city is about a quarter-way more similar to the Vios' next version, the Type E. One might say that the City would then offer more bang for the buck because its entry level smokes its Toyota Vios type J counterpart until one realizes that its price is still around four percent more than the Vios E.

The City type A offers power windows, steering, locks, and airbags but has basic steel rims for wheels. Now note that the Vios E(the improved Vios entry level J) offers all aforementioned power functions but has the better alloy rims and not those ugly poor excuse for a rim, steel. The previous comparison will just send back the capricious buyer once more in a quandary.

There is also the issue about which engine is more powerful and fuel efficient. Looking at the specs, Honda City A offers a tad better Horsepower for 6000rpm. The Vios(both 1.3L types J and E), however, makes up for it by offering, again, just a tad, better torque than the 1.3L City. Honda City's engine is SOHC while the Vios is DOHC but despite having the simpler camshaft, City approximates Vios' DOHC in terms of power and torque.

Fuel efficiency is a mixed bag. Each owner has his fuel efficiency story but overall it looks pretty much the same with Vios having the slight edge in testimonies coming from Car forums which you can probably account to Vios having a larger market share: more owners, more forum entries.

For now I am leaning towards the Vios. Sure the City's resale value is much higher owing to the exclusivity tag Honda has maintained for itself by disallowing its vehicles to be used as Taxis. The higher price for its parts and maintenance services also add to the air of mystery that is Honda but with a tight budget, the 4 percent margin is already a considerable amount. Toyota further widens the price gap to its favor by offering huge discounts up to as much as 30k Php for its Vios.

Things that tip the scales in Vios' favor

1. DOHC. I'm no engine geek but DOHC is always better on paper than SOHC. The specs each manufacturer proudly puts in print are always subject to suspicion as it might have been gathered on some ideal conditions not stated in fine print. So taking their engine and their numbers propaganda with a grain of salt, a DOHC is still a DOHC and an SOHC is just a precedence.

2. Testimonies from taxi drivers. I always ride the taxi twice a day. I make it a point to ride the 1.3L type J Vios so I can interview the driver on what they think about the car. Sure most of them probably haven't ridden a Honda City but any testimony coming from a first hand user is a good testimony than no testimony at all. This is why I am biased towards the Vios. I don't know any who owns a City because the few people I know who have a Honda, have the Civic. They figured that if they're gonna splurge on a car, they wouldn't go intermediate by taking the City. It's either a Civic(lavish buy) or a Vios(spendthrift buy). Choosing a City just doesn't make sense moneywise.

In addition I've also got some of their comments which echoes the things you'll hear in reviews/forums like: Surplus of Toyota Parts(meaning an option to buy less expensive replacements), wider cabin space, sturdy body, good exterior looks but the one that stands out the most is how they marvel on the engine performance.

Some drivers say that despite being 1.3L, " HATAK(TORQUE) " is far better than even the Toyota 1.6 Liters of old(of course that is a given with the new engine technology and all). Of course, I took these statements with a grain of salt until one driver happily demo'ed engine performance by routinely overtaking some vehicles. We went to about 110km/h on Edsa and the car wasn't wobbly at all. You might think " Could you really go 110km/h on Edsa? " Yes we did because it was night time and Edsa's lanes were at its widest allowing the driver to proudly show his Vios' capability.

3. The looks. Initially I was favoring the City's front grills but overtime I have developed a liking for the Vios' " BATMAN " look as it is fondly called by the taxi drivers (I'm beginning to sound like a taxi driver here). The Vios is a subcompact whose family includes the Picanto, Getz, QQ, Alto, Yaris, i10 all small cars with the exception of the Vios and the City looking like it ingested some crazy growth pill they look more like a compact sedan in the line of Altis and Civic.

4. The price. I am on a tight budget thus I am entertaining only subcompacts. You can go as low as 350k on the Suzuki Alto and Chery QQ and as high as 676k on the basic City. The Picantos and the Getz border around 550k to 630k and they are really small cars by dimension. The Vios is 585k basic and 649k for added power functions, alloy rims, and ABS, and an alarm system. I would have gone buying a Getz but it almost costs the same as the Vios and the Vios looks way bigger. I am one huge guy and I would look silly trying to squeeze my way inside a euro-chic Getz. Sure the Getz looks good but its resale value doesn't bid well. For just some 30 to 60k more, you be paying for a better, wider car with a trusted name in quality, and you won't be giving up too much money should you decide to sell it in the future.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

wrote this last october using E71

Got my e71 last week and after a full week of usage I must say I am impressed. My purchase was justified when the guys at Nokia Care refused to repair my battered e61. Apparently, they said, after me forking out 200bucks for the diagnostics, that there was corrosion in some parts of the board reason enough for them to deny repair. I told the cheerful nokia lady, I wouldnt hold them liable should the phone be damaged after a few mos of usage upon their repair if that was why they were quick to refuse service. I knew that the LCD was the only damage of my phone and all i was asking was for them to replace it without having to be under the mercy of some policy that does really nothing to repair old nokia phones, rather, it forces customers to buy new ones. I am not one to think I was born to change nokia care's policy. Not today, not tomorrow. And so I left the store slightly disappointed but I was carrying with me a valid reason to justify my impending splurge which would soon ease the guilt of having to shell out a considerable amount of money for a luxury i can live without. Everytime i would make a purchase it is my habit to check out the reviews. After countless web browsings and countless trying of the dummy displays at the malls i finally went for it and got me my E71 at silicon valley MOA. They offered just a 100 bucks more from the cheapest price i got from their glorietta bpi madness kiosk where I was already set to buy until the guys there told me i'd to wait 2 more days for the grey steel colorway-my color of choice. But I am an impatient fellow and 2 days would be nerve wracking for me what with my inadequate eq. So expectedly, I found myself drifting to nearby MOA but without any real expectations of hinging my hopes on getting the phone there cause it was almost 7pm and I was fully aware of how conscientious i could be when scanning for the best buy. I took a MIA bus which would take me straight to the mall. Normally I take the mrt when going to MOA but Im no spring chicken and whereas before I would gladly welcome the exercise i would get from taking the stairs on the way to the mrt platforms, this time I was only to happy that i chanced upon a relatively few passengered bus considering that the few MIA buses plying along edsa, before it leaves ayala will be SRO flooded by the throng of commuters baclaran bound. The bus was old school at least judging from the choice of movie it was showing. Vic sotto and Osang was on dvd. Vic sotto definitely clicks to the masses. The passengers fixated at the TV and how we, yes I included, would laugh at the corniest of jokes were testament to Vic's broadwide appeal. In about 35mins I was at MOA. Yes the travel time was long but I wasnt about to complain cause I came there without any real expectations of

Saturday, March 21, 2009

what were you thinking?

Now i am giving myself the undue stress of thinking whether to buy a car or not. Good sense tells me that I shouldn't since we have yet to see the fangs of this monster called recession and buying a car at this tumultous period is more risky than playing with rapidly falling stocks. At least with the stocks you've the option to bail out and keep whatever you got left should u experience a major downfall. Withdrawing from car financing should you find yourself incapable of sustaining the amortization for whatever effects the recession would cause you sure doesn't look pretty good from a neutral observer's viewpoint cause either you sell your car right away and have someone pick up the financing, or your car gets repossessed and all you've got to show for it are stories and memories of when you were driving your once precious vehicle. It would have been well and good had there been no recession and I could safely assume the security of my tenure is guaranteed. No worries should that be the case but it isn't. If suddenly you get whacked then you'd be a jobless guy with a brand new car to console you. Yeah it isn't wise to buy a car when the global business climate is cloudy in forecast. This is just a phase. Hope it clears away soon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

overnight at the office

stayed in the office much longer than i should. I went out at exactly 5:20 am. At the lobby I saw the security supervisor doing some ankle stretching and wearing a matching pair of basketball uniform. Normally, when playing tuneup games, you don't neccessarily wear a matching pair lest you end up looking tacky. You try to skew it a little by combining a different colored jersey and shorts. But hey, it's his style not mine. As he would tell me, they were scheduled for a weekly pickup game at the nearby basketball court. I have a cool history playing games with the company detailed security. They would play with us every now and then and it helps to foster a good relationship and if you put up a good showing you'd earn their respect more cause basketball is one of the few things you've in common with them. I remember the guards would always ask me about basketball schedules and venues and how many points i scored And it's not like i talk to them about basketball. Out of the blue they would pop these questions which makes me think that basketball is a big deal to them.
You'd be like a top dog if they know you are good and machismo points are points you'd welcome anytime. It kind of sets you on a higher podium if you create this image of a basketball stud

Sunday, March 1, 2009

weight loss challenge

The one thing that stuck in my mind after having watched supersize me is the remark given by the main character's mom when she said that she was afraid that the experiment could lead to something bad beyond repair. The mother was aware that her son could get back his weight long after the experiment was over but what troubled her was that her son might be playing with fire here testing his health to play beyond normal evels which could leave a permanent dent that no amount of subsequent healthy lifestyle could fix.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

financial adviser

the threat of recession is upon us. Jobs cuts abound and there is no end in sight in the economic downturn that last reared its ugly head in 2000. Everyone is keeping a tight grip on their cash which only furthers the woes of the consumer-producer economic cycle. In this time of uncertainty, cautiousness is the ally of the wise? I am no economic expert but I do know that the longer the people push back on their spending, the more it will drive the producers out of business and the fallout would be increased job cuts. See the picture here? It's a vicious cycle that only the bigger people in the government could suppress. If they can come up with a plan to allay the fear, the sooner the consumers will start reverting to their old ways of happy spending and more money will flow and we'd be business as usual.

It's a spiral and we could only hope to get out of the downward trend that is eating the very life of the economy as soon as possible before things get more worse than it is now.

Despite me sounding like the guy who knows it all, like the guy who has the cure-all remedy already planned, I actually identify myself as the conservative consumer.

I am no Warren Buffet who would be more bullish at times of uncertainty. I am a regular Joe who goes with the trend of keeping my money to my pockets until the situation cools off.

My spendings mostly are allocated for food. My indulgences are electronic gadgets and my last spending was for a cheap portable hard disk drive which I convinced myself of buying by thinking it was a wise purchase to help me back up my system for security purposes.

I am single. I've no children educational plans to regularly put my money to and I don't have to worry putting money for food on the dining table for my wife and kids. While it may seem like something a regular husband would like to experience for a month or so to get away from the financial burden, I am not exactly raising a victory trophy not having to have the same worries.

Don't bus your horn

Last night at Ayala, Edsa as I was descending the flight of stairs at the MRT station there was a deafening concerted horning by the buses beelined along the road with them having made a terminal out of the stretch of the fenced partition under the MRT station.

I'm not one to easily stereotype people as belonging to a particular group of lowlifes and pricks but these drivers are beginning to sway me from my close-to-wavering stance.

What's up with these bus drivers blowing their horns simultaneously as if they were in an orchestra with their decibel uncalibrated horns as instruments? Well educated drivers know that the use of horns should be reserved in situations that dearly call for it. Why, it is almost rude to be blowing the horns for the heck of it. I remember my Dad when he was still driving as being overly cautious that he would press the horn everytime he took a turn. He said he did it to signal to the kids playing across the street that a vehicle was just up and about the corner. Pretty soon my dad realised that just as cellphones need to be turned off in churches or any public place where silence is a premium so is the need to keep the blowing of horns to a minimum neccessary in keeping with courtesy.

This brings us back to the bus drivers who were in a logjam beelined along Edsa. There were no MMDAs around so they took their time converting that stretch to a virtual terminal. I tried to find me a bus but the deafening horns made me retreat up to Dusit

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shaq and the Jabbawockeez

The 2009 All star weekend saw the big cactus once again participating after a year of absence. It is said that the All Star weekend was made for guys like Iverson and Shaquille O Neal: Iverson for his free wheelin style of play and Shaq for his own brand of showmanship.

Shaq surely lived up to expectations as he once again showcased why despite earning his slot by way of the coaches' sympathy vote, he has got a lot more to offer than just Shaq basketball.

Shaq was the last All Star reserve to be introduced and aptly so for all the right reasons. Shaq had something up his sleeve which he promised would take only 45 seconds but that which will surely be remembered for many All Star weekends to come.

When Shaq's name was announced, he came out wearing a mask of the Jabbawockeez-winner of America's Best Dance Crew season one. As if his towering frame wasn't enough to single him out from the rest of the dance crew, the small mask, barely covering his face, added to the eccentricity which has been his hallmark.

Shaq was trying to represent Hip-Hop again and this time by way of dancing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First post 2009

to welcome the new year, I formatted my vista laptop to make it perform the way the hardware had always promised to, in print. I got frustrated having a lamborghini of a laptop with a kia pride performance. I cringe at the thought of having spent an obscene amount of money for a laptop performance i would otherwise get from the ee pcs of the world.

Formatting my computer was actually but a speck of the bigger things I'd be actually accomplishing by doing so. Behind the techie guise of the time consuming clean install was me revisiting some of the botched resolutions I had at the top of the list last 2008; but as with most good intent resolutions, I had trouble sticking with mine.

" Stop Procrastinating!" I once told me with a genuine belief that self talk would go a long way to producing results.

" Minimize the clutter " I soon chorused having been emboldened by the tough guy talk-to-yourself talk.

I never got me going. I regressed to the exact same state my resolutions had tried to illustrate and address.

New Year is New Year but to those who think that it is the height of listing resolutions that eventually never gets done, well it is high time that that idea be scrapped.

Any time of the year could be New Year. You wouldn't want to fall from grace the first two months and wait for the next ten to finish before you clean up your act.

So there was I cleaning up my clutter last week of December. Physical clutter in my room plus the clutter in my computer even before the new year started. I don't know if that counted as 2008 resolution points chalked up at the last minute but I don't care. The long Holiday provided enough idle time for me to take a long look at my clutter that it would be a sin for anyone to simply come up with an assessment but not act on it.

The things that I came across cleaning my drawers and cabinet. I found me the bundle of Christmas greeting cards I bought 6 years ago. I probably used just 2 out of the 10 and kept the remaining inside my drawer only to gather cobwebs. Receipts upon receipts I held on to dating back from last month up to 3 years. Saw me some library cards(souvenirs) of my highschool friends and some of the pretty girls in school which a friend and I gathered a few days before graduation from a pile inside the highschool library but not without permission from our pretty librarian whose face and name I've already forgotten. I remember her being pretty though.

Most I threw in this big black plastic garbage bag but a few memorabilia I kept. Sticking to memorabilia and stuffs with undue branding of "sentimental" may be what ails a clutter but I think I'm better off than I was before the cleanup.

Now if only I could keep my mean streak going....:>

Friday, October 17, 2008


Back in the PROC! Naahhh...doesn't come close to sounding like the Beatles' song of that other Commi country but I am definitely back in China. It's not like I'm the best guy around to do the job reason why I am here. Our boss could pluck any of us 8 minus the worry of anyone fucking things up but I guess what went in my favor was my being single. Most of my co workers, at their age, are expectedly either married or BETHROED(wow, bethroed is so archaic that free online and webster dictionary went bonkers scouring its database) and I stick out like a sore thumb for not qualifying in either case, well , that's another story. Anyways, just after exactly three weeks I was again whisked away to China by way of HK(for a day). At the plane, our friendly travel arranger got me a ticket at row 45. Quite unusual as she would always find us the best seats at rows 30-36 where it is closest to the exit. I wasn't complaining though. Any which seat is good so long as I will go to Hong Kong first. There was one instance where they experimented sending us to Guangzhou airport bypassing the usual one night hotel stay in Hong Kong. While travel time is definitely short, it wasn't to most of the traveler's liking. Cause Hong Kong is Hong Kong. While it is now part of China there is no denying the great divide it has with its neighbouring cities. However they try to say HK has already been turned over to the mainland, even I, a tourist, can tell that HK enjoys a much better sense of freedom and commerce compared to Shenzhen-which is saying a lot cause Shenzhen is one of the most modern cities of China. And the western flavor/vibe is very much alive in Hong Kong so there is the affinity factor which us Pinoys will truly enjoy what with us, despite several decades removed from American colonizing, still perpetuating the American lifestyle, entertainment wise at least. topic......derailed....Anyway, there I was looking at my ticket and finding out that I was on the middle column of three and the middle seat of three. So you can say I was middlesome....aray! Behind me, I heard a very soft voice which unmistakably was either that of a Lady or if I was truly indeed Mr. Hard luck was that of a well practised ladyboy asking me if I was on the middle seat. I turned my back ever so slowly and was about to cross my fingers hoping it wasn't the ladyboy and lo and behold, I finally nailed one. Years of being mr heartbreak commuter, finally I hit the motherload(no pun intended). I finally got a seatmate worthy of the long wait and it couldn't have picked a much better mode of transportation than that of an airplane. You see, in airplanes, there is this unwritten understanding that you are free to mingle, mix it up, share a talk or two with the person next beside you. You have all the authorisation stamped all over your face, your skin, your shirt like a Rally race car with all its sponsors.... all the authorization you will ever need to justify making a conversation to a perfect stranger. She was from my initial assessment, 5'5" tall, slender,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where have all the cowboys gone?

Last Friday I went out for a very late 11pm dinner. As I was mostly thinking of some unfinished documentation I needed to submit I was kinda oblivious to my surroundings as I made my way from the office to the Italian resto where I promised to treat myself a meatball submarine sandwich. It was Friday so expectedly the place nearby was flooded with yuppies and students alike celebrating the weekend R&R. When I was kinda younger, or at least my lifestyle was, my friends and I anticipated Friday for it was a visual feast for our sore and weary eyes after one long week at work. With our office being near the gimmick area, we didnt have to go far and long to be able to ogle at the pretty ladies dressed in their Friday night attire for which we are ever so grateful :> to say the least!

There wa a running joke within the group where without warning, anyone could say "thank you" whenever he would come across eye candy ladies. It's like a pre-warning signal anyone is encouraged to utter to alert the group upon the sight of a pretty or sexy lady nearby. I watched in Discovery Travel and Adventure an episode about Ice cream parlors where the waiters would say " Check Vanilla" when a beautiful customer comes in. Well we're not in an ice cream parlor and our best attempt to coming up with our version of LAND HO is thank you. For a stretch it had its run until we grew old overtime complemented by the barkada thinning out as the years passed. It's been almost five years and now I find myself not with the barkada, not looking and checking out the ladies, not saying thank you for no apparent reason lest I come across as a loony, indulging in none of the crazy but contained Friday night wackiness and weird jargons, none, none of that. I just casually made my way across the throng of gimmick people with my object being to devour a 3 meatballed submarine sandwich cause my dinner was already 4 hours delayed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

row row row your boat

How does one distinguish between hopelessly sticking to plain pride without substance and a reasonable belief that one, despite the odds stacked against him, can still hack it? The Basketball Coaches Assocation of the Philippines or BCAP is finding itself once more occupying some premium space in the dailies as it tries to stamp its authority ,which they perceive to have been bypassed by a select few personalities in the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas(SBP) notably by Noli Eala the former PBA commish, over the hiring of Serbian Rajo Toroman, the former Iran basketball coach who is now tasked to preside over RP's international basketball program in the capacity of project coordinator. BCAP has always maintained its firm stance that the basketball coaching job in the country is primarily reserved for Filipinos and no foreign national may supersede the Pinoys unless he can come up with a plausible program which no other Pinoy coach can offer. This criterion is highly subjective and it seems to have been penned to practically discourage ballclubs from acquiring the services of foreign coaches. The details of the hasty hiring of Toroman is still rather vague but this early, the statements coming from the current and former BCAP commissioners Narvasa and Yeng respectively foretells of a long and messy legal battle. While the public has yet to determine who bypassed whom or if Toroman's hiring is illegal, we are getting the impression that ultimately, BCAP will reject Toroman's appointment even before he gets the chance to strut his wares. BCAP argues that SBP pulled a fast one on them when Toroman was inked for a contract even as they were still reviewing and waiting for some pertinent documents to be submitted before they could come up with their final assessment as to the validity of acquiring the Serbian's services. Take the case of Yeng who took to publicity when he said he'd gladly carry Toroman's bags if the former has up his sleeve a method by which six footers can beat seven footers. Allowed some more time to pontificate, Yeng then conveniently followed with an equally antagonistic comment by saying that RP doesnt need a Serbian coach rather, a Serbian seven footer. A clever play of words which was obviously made in reference to Toroman's hiring. While Yeng's arguments may be valid, it sure reeks of bad taste especially with that infamous carry his bags remark. Poor choice of words and a combative stance surely wouldn't bid well on their part as a group. Narvasa was similarly tactless when he reminded the public of their 100% batting rate when they take their case against foreign coaches to the legal court. His words are one of threatening. Why the defensive approach? Granted that they may have been sidestepped by Noli Eala when SBP inked Toroman, going ballistic on the newspapers especially at a time when the recent RP team debacle still is fresh on the minds of the Pinoys is certainly a turn on the wrong direction. Bcap's argument that hiring a foreign coach is tantamount to saying Pinoys are incapable and that this is as much an emotional issue as it is a legal issue is an invitation to the public's animosity. Pinoy basketball fans are a loyal lot. Despite RP's track record of failure in the international scene, there still is a glimmer of hope that someday we will be able to capture the glory days of basketball. The success of yesteryears is reason enough for the Pinoy to root for basketball glory however bleak the present is. But Pinoy

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


There is a nifty software that allows you to extract audio from youtube to mp3 format. Am not really an audiophile so just give me stereo and the encoding should have little noticeable noise and I'm OK. I don't have specially designed amplifiers or a souped up component system and my mp3 listening does not really go beyond using my laptop speaker or my phone's packaged headset so it doesn't really take too much to please my listening experience. All I want is just the original song from the original artist. I don't really have the patience to seek music titles that don't readily show up in google and that which would require you to do some clever searching and filtering. Torrent files take an eternity to download with my slow internet connection. I prefer listening to soft music, some easy listening, acoustic at one point(until everybody jumped to the bandwagon), at times contemporary R&B and rock but ultimately I revert to soft and mellow sounds which basically are LOVE SONGS. Yeah it sounds cheesy and kinda lame and it doesn't have the grunt that goes with " I LISTEN TO ROCK " but however I stray to try other genres I will always find myself going back to soothing love songs perhaps because as a kid, my MOM always tuned the radio to mellow touch. Love songs, the good ones, unlike pop or pop rock and R&B, like cockroaches ably surviving a nuclear holocaust, are able to get air time despite having been composed 20 or 30 years ago. When I was a kid, the songs playing in mellow touch were 10 to 20 years removed from the first time they aired.

The sheer oldness so to speak doesnt do a lot to help my googling easier and some songs have the same title so should I be lucky to get a hit there is a chance it might not be the one I am looking for. I guess when the song is about love, the titles left at the songmaker's disposal borders a little around the restrictive side. Thanks to youtube and the people who are similarly oriented to my kind of music I could dump googling in favor of searching them in youtube's database. Well that isn't entirely correct as youtube has been bought by google so if you look at it, we are stuck with google anywhere we go. Youtube may be for videos but one couldn't dismiss that it is easier to find your fave songs posted either as an mtv or without any videos just plain graphics within its wide database. The mp3 encoding of most songs in youtube may not be top notch but you can choose several uploads of the same title so you have a variety from which to pick the best sounding format.

An example of the facility with which you could go about in youtube in your song searching quest:

Only you by commodpres:

I couldnt compeletely find it until I searched in youtube. Now I have the mp3 thanks to the youtube to mp3 software.

Monday, October 6, 2008

test test

this is a test post using free wifi and my mobile phone. Wow. Wi fi here is definitely fast. Easily beats starbucks anytime.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


The BPI installment madness showcase in Glorietta held every quarter of the year is a haven for gadget freaks. What used to be an APPLIANCE sale has become an electronic gadgets extravaganza. There still are remnants of what the SALE was initially planned out to be. Household appliances from stores like ABENSONS and Automatic Centre still get some fair billing and they actually get the best location(The activity center) but the small kiosks of Laptop and Mobile Phone stores littered everywhere when accounted by their sheer number will tell you that the people who come in droves will largely skip the refrigerators and washing machines to salivate for the smallest and cheapest laptops from ACER and ASUS or the coolest and multimedia functionality loaded camera phones from NOKIA, HTC, and Apple among others.

What's good about this quarterly sale is that when the Gadget stores converge in one place for one event, they nose out the competition by offering the cheapest package. While it is not yet the norm, here you can haggle for the lowest price although most stores won't admit they would budge in to a customer's whims for a slightly reduced cash outlay say 1k to 4k less. Where one is likely to take the price of a particular item at face value inside the participating shops' regular stores on a regular day, here, where they are all cramped up occupying Glorietta's walkway in their makeshift kiosks, one is at liberty to get a bang for his buck by simply asking " What is the lowest price?" I guess the environment and the limited time allows for some bending of selling/buying rules. It's OK. You won't be sent to the gallows by haggling or being cheap.

The sale runs up to next week and already I was able to get some interesting info which helped a lot in my quest to arrive with an informed decision everytime I venture into buying something big. Already I got the lowest price for my targeted E71. I was able to get a cash offer of 3500 pesos less from the average ---1200 pesos less from the lowest ---and 5000 less from the highest all referenced on current market prices. That's already something considering that the lowest market price is not an authorized NOKIA reseller store. Silicon Valley offered E71 the cheapest. I can always count on them for the lowest price which is at par with the tax exempt electronic goods in Hong Kong. I don't know how they do it , perhaps they've already a strong foothold in the electronic goods market and they've good sources where they get their items the cheapest but one thing that I'm glad they have is recognition from the brands they carry, authorizing them as a reseller. I've gone through several prominent( by prominent it means they have several branches and they have websites and they are located at the malls) electronic goods stores in the country but only Silicon Valley by far offers not just the cheapest prices but authorized reselling at least in the brands I've purchased from them.

I got my second notebook from them for 5k less than the average market price. This does not include the additional freebies which probably amounted to 2k considering the hefty price of the original IBM optical mouse they chipped in for free(not part of the package. The leather bag and the 256Mb RAM though were part of the promo though). They also gave away a branded flash thumbdrive and a USB-A hub among others but that took some haggling on my side though I didn't break anyone's arm in the process. My E61, while I didn't get any freebies I was able to haggle for 4k less than the average price. While the price discounts look astonishingly low, these are based on average market prices. On their side it doesnt seem like a huge drop cause they are already going like 3k less(on the notebook) and 2k less(on the E61)on the SRP to begin with.

This has been proven for more than 3 years now since I first bought my notebook. I could always count on Silicon Valley pricewise and they're no fly by night retailer by any means. Most people I know don't know about this. I've tried telling them to try the store out but they'd mostly end up purchasing their items from another fancy looking shop. I guess some of their branch stores' set-up, which borders on looking stockroom-like, and the few customer traffic inside their shops contribute to Silicon Valley's anonymity. This store really sells cheap. Consider this, E71 is sold at Hongkong for 2500 pesos more than the cheapest SV offered me. While Fortress(HK store) is chipping in another free battery, screen protector, and USB charger outside the package, Silicon Valley's 2.5k discount is far better considering the freebies of Fortress would have probably amounted to 2.5k also or maybe less. But the dealmaker is that, Silicon Valley is based here on Pinas. Even if Nokia has an international warranty, the local stores' warranty is still something you'd gladly trade for about the same price.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I wanna buy me an E71

I still have my Nokia E61 but I have been stuck with the faulty LCD screen for almost a year now. My initial enthusiasm to use it primarily as a PDA has gone sour and now I simply treat the gadget as a calling device and for the usual SMS-basic functions I would otherwise be similarly served by a cheaper albeit outdated 3210. I accidentally dropped my E61 down the gutter somewhere along EDSA near Arnaiz Avenue last November '07 where it remained partially soaked in shitty rainwater for almost 2 hours before I hopelessly went back to salvage it and lucky was I cause there it was hanging by the edge clinging for dear life hoping not to fall down the shitty underground that is Metro Manila's sewage system. Since then the display has gone from BAD to WORSE. It doesn't help that the cold weather renders the display practically unreadable by producing streaks of white lines that scan from top to bottom. I know I should have just had it repaired but the time it got busted, repair would set me back by around 7k pesos. That was prohibitively expensive for me cause it was a shade above 1/3 of the phone price. I tried as much in my limited phone repair skills to come up with a fairly usable display without having to replace the LCD. I opened the case and blow dried the saturated components plus the LCD and while I was at it, I etched away some of the corroding elements which when left untouched would probably gobble up the PCB and the electronic components faster than I could say

While it took some getting to use to, once I got the hang of tilting the phone in the correct angle, the scanning lines have become somewhat tolerable especially whenever I get to thinking about shelling out
7k of precious dough. I was able to learn how to adjust to the faulty display by doing some hand and eye gymnastics that in no time I was good using the phone and Im 7k Php richer-another way of looking at the glass half full

It's been a good 2 years since I bought the phone and now Nokia has released a third version-the Nokia E71. The improvements are mile high from my 2005 model but the ones that would perhaps earn immediate notice from the novice user are:

1.A faster processor: From 200Mhz to 369Mhz
2. Twice the RAM at 128Mb
3.An FM radio.
4. A camera with an LED flash, autofocus, and 3.2 Megapixels at that
5. Very slim form factor. One would think there is none inside especially when the
bettery is removed.
6. Kept the same old poweful 1500mAh battery.

some features which are not readily noticeable but which one will be happy to learn they have are:

1. GPS is built-in
2. No-Pop Port. Pop port interfaces are just seeking to get loose overtime.
3. micro SD card is readily accessible outside the phone(you have to open the battery lid in E61 but is hot swappable just the same)
4. Micro SD is maxed out to reach 8Gb(E61 can only accomodate 2Gb in expansion memry)

The trade offs are
1. Smaller screen.
2. Cramped up keyboard.

I went for the E61 because of the QWERTY keyboard. It didn't bother me so much that the display wasn't touchscreen and PDAs at that time were known for the stylus. But the advent of the intuitive Iphone interface has rendered the stylus passe. Iphone's capacitive touchscreen allows you to use your fingertips exclusively. With that in order, somehow I lost my envy over the intelligent looking stylus PDAs. And QWERTY is the dealbreaker/maker. So long as I have QWERTY im OK. I am especially fond of writing and keeping journals that QWERTY is not anymore a luxury but a must. Palm Treo offers both QWERTY and touchscreen but Palm OS is one sneeze away from becoming passe. There is Palm with windows mobile though, but it is very hard to find in Pinas and I stopped entertaining Palm treos when I soon realised I'll not be in good company owning one cause, just based on my biased account, there seems to be a relatively few following of PALM treo users in Pinas. The outdated OS, the lack of built in WI-FI card in majority of their units, and their not being a PHONE manufacturer(the phone function is compromised), that just got me veering away from PALM Treos.

If there is another choice which can muddle my affinity towards E71 it would have to be HTC and the gamut of PDA phones it has using the rather user friendly Windows Mobile OS.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

close to a month

I've been here since Aug 18 and now my palate is berating me for the the constant serving of authentic, not Filipinised, Chinese, more specifically Guangdong dishes. Guangdong cuisine perhaps best represents the Chinese dishes we have come to know since this province down China's south is the closest to Pinas so you go figure. Authentic Chinese food can be utterly overwhelming that to keep our sanity and our taste buds intact, we pinoys here(I've 2 colleagues with me) would cycle our gastronomic pangs between Dormitory Food (whipped up by the Master Chef himself ,"Pogi") and this town's best attempt to interpreting western food served in one of the more famous restaurants pronounced only as Nyoo-pa!

Dormitory food is not bad as its description make it out to be. In fact this company subsidized food costs the most(but still cheap by restaurant standards) and is exclusively served for the managers and the big bosses within the company. We being the guests have the privilege to dine with them so our food is on the better tasting side but better tasting in China doesn't necessarily mean a chompfest for Pinoys. Our lunch diet is a merry mix of vegetables, and vegetables, and slices of pork, and oil, some more oil, mushrooms, and a local chili whose pungent odor, be forewarned, would temporarily stick to your clothes but overtime, when eaten on a regular basis would assimilate to your skin. I stay clear off the chili. If it were discovery channel you would see the pervasive chili particles polluting the surrounding space with every bite within a foot radius.

This day we had dinner in a dimsum resto. Dimsum here is served 8pm onwards. Yesterday, we made the mistake of coming in an hour early and the sight of waiters eating with half the lights of the resto lit shredded our salivating anticipation for YUM-CHA to pieces. Eating dimsum is a tradition and not a late dinner as one would normally think given the odd serving schedule-8p.m. Most Chinese, in this town at least, eat dinner at 6pm and will have dimsum around 9pm. Dimsum and tea are just ornaments to what the object of this after dinner really is-chat and leisure time. So it is normal to see people dressed down to their flip flops, and shorts, and sandos with cigarette smoking, commonplace.

We were early birds coming in at 7:30pm but this time, all lights were lit. I can barely speak Chinese and I mostly defer to my excellent :> hand gestures than actual talking but I still do get my message across. Dim sum is Chinese so I got away with that. YUM-CHA is Japanese though, I think, but I said it just the same. The waitress said Hao-le which roughly translates to Yes, OK, good, so I knew I got acknowledged and I was off to a good start. Should I fuck up with my attempts to communicating Chinese no way would I fold up and leave which was an option since the western resto is just on the next building but we wanted dimsum and we wanted it then and there. Knowing it is a traditional dimsum house made our ordering easier. Old dimsum houses like this one serve dimsum on a cart and you just point amongst miscellaneous dimsums and you're good to go. I know mi fan is rice so I got that covered. kuh-le is COLA and numbers are best communicated through fingers. Chang You? is soy sauce so practically all the Chinese words I needed in a dimsum restaurant setting, I brought along with me. Mai-tan is bill, fa piao is receipt, ta pao is take out and xie xie is the customary thank you. For 98 RMB or roughly 660pesos the three of us had 14 servings of various dimsums each consisting of 3 to 4 pcs. Dimsums here are easily 30-40% larger than its Pinoy counterparts. Included in our bill were 3 cans of coke, 3 servings of rice and the free bottomless house tea. Not bad for 220 pesos each.

Friday, August 22, 2008

so close to the olympics

I am back here in China. Us at work routinely go here to support " offsite " our product. What can I say, over the past three years I've come and gone the same old sour feeling creeps in everytime I find myself holed up here in what my fellow co-workers have infamously dubbed as " the prison camp". It is a running joke that being assigned in this far flung province is synonymous to being sent to boot camp.

I am not about to whine about the poor condition at work cause there just isn't any .... it isn't that. Actually, working with fellow Chinese counterparts brings about a heightened sense of professionalism which is just what the doctor ordered after stretches of toiling hard and long at work at the office back home. Getting the chance to travel overseas and stay in a hotel and soak in the Chinese culture somehow promotes a sense of pride which we every so often lose track of. So why the grumbling? One has to actually experience firsthand what it is like to be casted-off in a province so oppositely mirroring urbanisation to understand the deep-seated abhorrence of us who've stayed for one too many an assignment bear.

Picture this, prior to having KFC, the best fastfood the town could offer was a poor imitation of the famous chicken place. The laughable commercial name it took, KMC, screams " I am imitation ". What M stands for, I'll never know cause the place closed shop when KFC came to town just over a year ago.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

lost in Hong Kong 2

The FOREX was within the arriving passenger's premises but within view of the people waiting outside. I exchanged my money according to my officemate's instructions and it was my first verbal interaction with a Hong Konger(the immigration officer didn't count cause it was mostly look at my passport-look at my face interaction) but I didn't quite hear what she said after I asked for a split of my USD to RMB and HKD. I asked "come again?" In response she blurted or should I say blurred her speech once more. It didn't sound like she was soliciting for a reply, it was more of probably explaining a procedure/technicality so I just gave her a calculated nod. I moved further back away from the peering eyes and counted the money, hidden from view, behind an automated train ticket dispensing machine. Trains are an integral part of public transportation in HK. A first time HK traveler is better served choosing the train system to get him around the city than taxis or buses. Majority of HK's famous spots are accessible via their MRT/train system.

I made my way outside sporting the seasoned traveler look: poker faced, looking in one sure direction, walking slightly faster, not paying attention to the placards and not hearing any of the chants for Mr Wong, Mr Wei, Mr Chinese. I walked further straight up my landmark, as per my officemate's instructions, being the train station(inside the airport) to my right. I did see it but didn't bother cause it is but an option. For those who want to get the most out of their HKD they can also take the bus since the bus fare is a very cheap 1/3 that of the train's. I chose to take the bus not because I'm short of money but because it takes me just a walking distance from the hotel as opposed to the train whose drop off point is still a good taxi ride away. The airport train offers free shuttle service to all the major hotels in Hong Kong, mine included, but it ceases operation past 10pm.

It was 11pm, I was still walking and now marveling at the splendid airport HK has. A large part of the building was made using glass materials and silver beams. The building is well lit and tidy. It looks newly built. There is a a huge area inside the airport for the passengers' friends and relatives to while their time away. It is a stark contrast to the OLD NAIA which shows no love for them welcoming parties. The ceiling is high you feel like you are at the atrium of Megamall looking up only this one, there is just one floor level.

I took some time to absorb where I was during that particular instance. I was in a foreign land, I was in Hong Kong! I was no longer in the Philippines and all that took only 2 hours. It was so quick and I traveled at nighttime that the reality of it didn't quite sink in even while I was on the plane. Maybe if I traveled at daylight where I could have seen the clouds and the surroundings as the plane was taking off maybe that would have upped the awareness level a bit. But the lack of visual references rendered by night travel dumbed down my senses and then just a few hours later all that came rushing in. The rush jolted me short of like someone shaking me across my shoulders telling me to wake up. The first screaming realization I was in HK was when I saw the HK skyline inside the plane but that was shortlived as the processes I had to go through upon disembarking swayed my attention. Now that all the protocols and distractions were behind me, I had all the time to fully soak in what my mind was telling me as surreal but what my eyes are refuting to be otherwise.

There were seven elevens, magazine stalls, souvenir shops, Ajisen Ramen. Stores that can be found in the Philippines are also there but the items they sell and the personnel and the customers and the tag prices all spell foreign. I went inside a seven eleven to try and get a first hand feel of Hong Kong commerce. The entrance to the store was kinda narrow and I had this big luggage with me. I remember my officemate saying that the criminal notoriety we are accustomed in the Philippines.....not there in Hong Kong! Especially in places where the expectation for civility is highest e.g. airport security is not an isseu. You are more likely to lose your money via dumbness than be held up. Even my cynicism couldn't contain my desire to do a first which at this case-checking out the convenience store. I looked around and I saw passengers like me leaving their luggages outside cause there just aint going to be any way of bringing it in without causing a stir what with the crowd inside.