Wednesday, February 28, 2018

One OK Rock Ambitions in Manila is More than Okay!

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Two years ago, One OK Rock went to Manila for the first time for their “35XXXV" concert. My sister and I bought the sitted VIP tickets and we ended up feeling jealous of those in standing VIP. We promised that if they come back to the Philippines, we'll definitely be jumping with the crowd!

Last year, when Ambition tour's Manila stop was announced, I woke up early to buy tickets from the mall below my condo. Fast forward to January 29, the day finally came for our live OOR experience! That Monday night, I worked from 6am - 3pm and by 4pm my sister and I were on our way to Mall of Asia Arena. The traffic was tolerable and we still had a chance to claim our freebies, a poster and Pulp magazine, before eating early dinner. This was the first time that we learned about the queueing ticket that we need to log online. I printed it and we’re #56 and 57 on the gold entrance but we decided to stroll around at the mall instead. It turned out to be a good decision because when we returned by 7pm, we we're able to go inside the arena in a breeze.
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Finally, the lights were dimmed and we knew that the concert will start in a bit. They kicked off with the intro from Ambitions. When I saw Taka (singer), Toru (guitarist) Ryota (bass), and Tomoya (drums) on stage, I immediately forgot that I was tired from work and feeling sleepy.

     Deeper and deeper 
 Taking off 
 Cry out 
 Greeting in Pinoy 
 More dancing and jumping with OOR
Toru guitar solo 
Clock Strikes 
Bedroom Warfare
 Wherever You Are
One Way Ticket
Toru, Ryota, and Tomoya's solo
Bon Voyage
I Was King
Take What You Want
The Beginning
Mighty Long Fall
We Are


American Girls,” - “Come and break my heart, you Filipina girls!”
Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer

My sister told me that OOR’s official Philippine fan club distributed yellow and red tapes to cover phone's flash lights and it resulted to an ocean of yellow and red lights. It was a great sight from our area and I can imagine from the band's angle as well. There were big screen displays and better stage lighting this time but the best part of OOR experience is their raw talent with flashes of showmanship.

It took me a week to physically recover from my body pain because I was jumping like crazy for hours but this tita will do it all over again!

Thursday, February 08, 2018

We're Engaged!!!

I’ve been wearing this ring for 53 days already and honestly, I often find myself staring at it. It’s so pretty and CHINO IS MARRYING ME!!! I’m not really into jewelries because I often misplace it so most of time I’m paranoid about this ring =)). Last year, Chino gave me a bracelet and I somehow managed to lose it after working out at the office gym. I was so sad and guilty that I ended up buying a new Pandora when we went to Vietnam, thank God it was on sale!! The ring fits perfectly but I can’t afford to replace it =))). My friend told me that there’s this thing called “ring snuggies” from True Value which makes it tighter! So yeah, I’m just over the moon that Chino and I are taking a leap of faith together!

I still remember the day when he proposed, it was a Sunday and 7 days before Christmas. We’re hungover from a Christmas party hosted by my cousin and we went home at around 3AM. After 7 hours, we woke up because we had some errands to do. As usual, I’m the one who got up first to prepare because ladies have to do lady preps =)). I ended up wearing jeans with my Ginebra back to back champion shirt. My dad gave it to me months ago and I wanted to show him that I’m using it. Rarely does Chino comment on what I wear and that time, he asked if I’m really wearing my fangirl shirt. I didn’t give a fuss because I remembered our plans for the day. Go to SM North to get my ATM replacement, visit my parents & eat lunch with them, attend mass in QC and finally Chino will treat me to a steakhouse in the same area. I thought that maybe we’re going to a fancy restaurant that’s why he’s hesitant about my Ginebra shirt so I just changed into another T-shirt.

We finished our bank errands in a breeze but it took us 1hr to book our Uber ride to my parent’s house. We even ended up eating one of the pork bun pasalubongs. When we arrived at our house, only my mom was there, we ate our late lunch together and had our usual catch up. I had to go upstairs several times and leave Chino when my mommy asked me to get my new bag aka a gift to her but she already has it it the same color.

When we arrived at St Paul Parish in QC, the priest already started the homily. We stood outside for 5 minutes until we found  vacant plastic chairs on the right side near the door. I remembered that we really enjoyed listening to the priest’s homily, he’s a funny one. After mass, we usually go to the priest and wait our turn to be blessed with holy water. Chino told me that we should sit first and wait until people got off the Church before we book our Uber ride. I agreed because during that time, aside from his backpack, we’re carrying a big Gold paper bag which contained my new bag.

We waited for our turn to talk to Father Arlo because Chino said he wants to ask him to bless something. This is the part where everything gets blurry =))). I remember standing next to Chino and eagerly waiting for father to face us. Then Chino asked father if he can bless something important and he got a box from his pocket. Father Arlo then called everyone who’s still inside the church to gather and witness a special moment. I think, that’s when I started crying.  I saw Chino kneeling before me with a ring in his hand. He asked me if I will marry him, I said yes in between sobs. Father Arlo gathered us in a group hug and I saw people around us were taking photos, clapping, smiling while we’re in a daze. Father commented that it was his first time to bless an engagement ring and a couple. Chino mentioned that maybe he should officiate our wedding. Father Arlo also gave his sweet YES =))).

We thanked father Arlo once again and while exiting the church, we bumped into a happy, middle aged couple who congratulated us and said that that’s the best way to kick off our married life. They wished us well and we thanked them.

Finally, when we’re at the restaurant, I still can’t believe what happened but the spark from my ring reminds me that I’m engaged!! We started messaging our family while waiting for the food. My parents weren’t surprised because it turned out that Chino asked for my mommy’s permission when I went upstairs. He already had this  ring for several months, he even asked for his parent's blessings last April but he couldn't find the right timing to talk to my parents. Since my daddy wasn’t around, mommy said that she’ll inform him instead and Chino can proceed with his plan. When I showed a photo of my ring, my daddy said that he’ll buy my mommy a better ring. =))) My siblings scoffed that I should start dieting!

For a second, we regretted that nobody captured our engagement but we realized that it didn’t matter. We’ll always have that special memory..with Father Arlo and this tweet haha!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

2017, a Year of Journaling

I'm used to keeping a yearly planner but in 2017 I went full on crazy on journaling =)))

I became addicted to washi tapes and stickers which I use mostly to decorate my entries. I am so giddy to check out new designs, I've found the best ones on SM Megamall's Fuji Film store but I can't spent 300 and up on washi tapes! Fortunately, it's a trend these days and I was able to buy it almost everywhere from trusty National Bookstore, SM and Landmark's Stationary sections and even Divisoria! My favorite source is curlytwirlyph from Shoppee app because I can buy samples of washi tapes. I'm more of quantity over quality type =))
A box of washi tapes and samples

I also got hooked on stamps for alphabets and dates. I found the 100pesos stamp set from Divisoria, this is way cheaper from ones on tiangses and malls. I restrained myself on buying more so that I can stick to drawing icons and items which is the main point of bullet journaling. Good thing that my family and friends support my hobby, I received the colorful stamps and diary stamp set from my cousin in our exchange gift. 

I've bought a lot of pens from colorful gel to metallic pens. I've been eyeing Sharpies for a while now but I resisted spending 500 pesos and listed it as a wishlist on our office exchange instead. I've also bought and used up a lot of double sided tapes in 2017.

I'm so happy that I was able to religiously finish my 2017 bullet journal slash scrapbook where I drew highlights per day on the monthly view. I've become a memory hoarder and collected photos, tickets, tags, etc associated for individual days.
I also started and finished working on my "travel" journal. One day I just thought what would happen if Blogger suddenly stops working, so I thought of basically having an offline version of my travel blog entries. I'm still working on the "local travel" journal BUT I've finished my fiance's travel journal. Yeah, I have a fiance and I've also made him one when I finished my projects =))) 
Travel journal

But in 2018, I'll be busy with saving up for my wedding and wedding planning so I vowed on using my existing journaling "tools". I've bought a monogramed notebook for that on National Bookstore's Paper bar. I can't start a new year without a planner so also asked my brother to buy me Moleskine journal as Christmas gift! I'm also starting a "5 year planner" project but I'm using a journal I received from the office exchange gift 2 years ago. 
I'm ready!!!

I'm so excited to work on my journals this year, to list my plans and document the experience but now with no to little budget =)))

Friday, December 29, 2017

CNBLUE Between Us Live in Manila

At 4PM, I remember lying down in my bed, thinking that I will miss CNBLUE's concert. I'm just 3 train stations away from the venue and my boyfriend even offered to buy me a ticket. I refused because I already used up my 'concert ticket fund' when my sister forced me to buy VIP   tickets for One OK Rock's Ambition in Manila. I also kept thinking that it will be sad if I only go to the concert by myself. I told my boyfriend that it's okay because I want to preserve CNBLUE in Budokan as my last concert before the boys enlist to the military.

Thirty minutes later, I received a Viber message from my colleague Gigi and she's offering her extra VIP tickets for me and my sister! After panicking, I finally sorted out how my sister can pick up the tickets from Gigi and I was able to TMI take a bath and get dressed. It was rush hour on a Saturday so my supportive boyfriend helped me book Uber to no avail. We decided to ride a bus with less than an hour before the concert, I can't even remember the last time I rode a bus!

We arrived 5 minutes after 6PM but I knew that the concert will start on a later time. True enough, it started at 6:30PM and I still had time to go to the bathroom and buy drinks. Chino was kind enough to stay in one of the bars in Cubao Expo, I wouldn't torture him into attending a Korean band's concert, even if it's my favorite band!

They started with "Radio" my favorite Japanese track and sang my all time jams I'm Sorry, Can't Stop, Cinderella, Coffee Shop, In My Head, Domino, Love Girl, Blind Love, You're so Fine, Wake Up and the anthemic the anthemic "Young Forever. I also enjoyed the new songs from 7 degrees CN, their latest Korean album, "When I was Young", "It's You' and "Between Us", are daebak live!

For encore, they went back with acoustic set. Boice were very happy to finally have a closer look to drummer Minhyuk. CNBLUE even sang snippets of "Isn't she lovely" and "You look wonderful tonight", Minhyuk sang "Love Light" then they ended the concert with 10 minutes or more of "Manito"! =)))

It was a memorable concert, from seeing the boys go touristy in Cubao the night before the concert, the free tickets to beating the Saturday traffic to go to Araneta, the stage that let the boys interact with the fans, effort sa lighting and more importantly CNBLUE's solid live performance. To my disappointment, someone even taught them Tagalog words like "petmalu", "I am your lodi" and "Ang init"!   Kings of fan service!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

What to do and see in Bangkok, Thailand

I've been to Bangkok 5 years ago and I've been wanting to go back to just enjoy the city. Previously, I went with my high school friends and we booked through a travel agency. It was fun because we had a quick city tour then we went to Pattaya City for several days before exploring farther parts of Bangkok on our last day. We only then dipped our feet on Bangkok, to say the least, and I know that the city is full of promise! 

Chino and I's Bangkok itinerary was another gastronomic adventure with ample time for shopping and cultural immersion. 

Day 1: Siam Paragon food court, King Royal Inn, street food, Thipsamai and tuktuk experience! 
Siam Paragon
We had an early flight and we arrived at the Suvarnabhumi airport at around 8AM, we're greeted by a huge line at the immigration and I remembered that Bangkok is THE South East Asia destination. What's great about this city is that they have an efficient train system which enabled us to efficiently reach the city proper in less than an hour. We went to Siam Paragon, yes, our first stop is a MALL, but we needed a temporary indoor refuge while waiting for our 12noon check in time.
Food court
I remember vividly that Siam Paragon has an awesome foodcourt and lo and behold, they even have a street food festival when we got there. Chino and I took turns in buying food and looking after our backpacks. After lunch, we went to the big supermarket to buy my favorite instant Nestea Thai Milk Tea. I wrote a separate blog post for our Thai food trip here.
Thai street food <3
The thing about seat sales is that the departure times are too early or too late so we had to take a siesta to have enough energy to explore the city. We stayed at King Royale Inn, a budget old hotel but with super great location. It is adjacent to the Bangkok Train System (BTS) station which makes commuting very easy. It's in a business area ala BGC so there's not enough restaurants aside from Blue Elephant, which became our main landmark for this trip. We're still happy because there's a Family Mart on the building's ground floor and rows of street food stalls in front of it!
The search for best Pad Thai
Before going to Bangkok, we watched GMA7's Biyahe ni Drew, a local travel show, and we followed their advice of trying the Best Pad Thai in Thipsamai. We had to take a 30 minute train and almost 1hr cab ride to go to this area. When we arrived there's a long line of mostly foreigners eager to taste one of Thailand's famous dish. Fortunately, they have a good system in place and we've had our seat in 15 minutes.
Tuktuk experience
One of the must try things in Bangkok is to ride a tuktuk. After eating at Thipsamai, we wanted to check out the port area so we hailed one to drive us to there. We negotiated for a fair price and agreed on 100Baht for a one way trip to Yodpiman Riverwalk.  It was a fun experience because the weather was cool but there's this instance where we passed by a dark street and the driver immediately felt the danger as well. Good thing that he returned to the main road again because we'd rather take a longer route than less traveled paths at night time.
Where to next?
After the tuktuk driver dropped us off, we randomly strolled to the port area. We took pleasure in seeing Chao Praya river at night and the good weather. We enjoyed people watching, especially those who joined the river cruise. We even contemplated on joining but decided that it's better to just follow our feet.

Day 2: Chatuchak weekend market, more street food, So Dum Ter, Silom area & rooftop bar hole in a wall
happy place
The next day, we leisurely had our breakfast from the hotel. We ate just enough so that we won't get dizzy from the crowded market. We took the BTS train to Mo Chit Station and followed the big crowd who are all set to throw away their Bahts=))).

shopping haul
Almost everything can be found in Chatuchak Market. Chino and I spent 4 hours exploring just 1/2 of the area and I ended up with a new wardrobe for an entire week! I bought a couple leather sandals for us which looks like a local "version" of Birkenstock. We also liked the custom passport holders where you can engrave your name. It's apparently an in thing because we saw several similar shops. Always be ready to bargain because they don't have a fixed price. I saw a 1,000 baht black silk pants and considered buying it but after walking around, I managed to buy the same exact pants for 500baht. Well, actually, Chino bought it for me =))).

I like how Chatuchak Weekend Market is an organized chaos because there are sections for shoes, clothes, antiques, flowers, etc so you can definitely choose to divide and conquer your shopping list. Plus, whenever we get hungry, a food or dessert stall is 5 minutes walk away!

Hole in a wall
Most of the fun adventures while travelling happen when your plan gets derailed! For instance, we're supposed to have lunch at Rot Dee Det to try the recommended beef noodle soup but it turned out that the building is under construction! That misfortune led us to a TripAdvisor recommended place with the best fish balls!

We planned to do another night market shopping but we found the Silom night market too shady. It used to be a popular place for shopping but it's leaning towards to red light district area now with drunk tourists and locals offering pingpong shows!

We're also supposed to drink at a rooftop bar, Sky Bar was across our hotel but we decided that drinking and climbing the stairs to cross the street is not a good idea. We walked and walked and found a hole in a wall bar but it's too crowded. We walked and walked until we found a garage style place where lots of locals eat and drink.

Day 3: Wat Pho, Wat Triamit, Wat Benchamabophit and Rot Fai/Train Market
We booked a half day temple tour using Klook app, it was so convenient, we booked it on our first day in Bangkok and it was easily confirmed. We wanted to visit the temple's with a guide so that we can learn more about their history and culture.
Wat Triamit
We went to see the temple of the golden Buddha. This is the world's largest solid Buddha statue,  made up of 83% pure gold! It was found among the ruins of Ayutthaya, the ancient kingdom of Thailand.It is a smaller temple but still fascinating.
Wat Pho
We saw the giant golden reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. It's sheer size is unbelievable and makes it difficult to get photos =)). We also bought a coin for 20baht and placed the coins on vases behind the statue. It's funny because we bought and returned the coins but it was a great experience and believed to bring good luck!

Basically, temples in Bangkok are also cemeteries. Some of the temples that were built by kings, are the place where their ashes are stored. Also, the families who sponsored a statue in  a temple/wat can be a dedicated place for their family's ash. 

Sadly, the tour ended up on a bad note. The guide told us that we're changing our van so they dropped us to the waiting area which turned out to be a jewelry shop! I've been to this place before and yet again, I'm not keen on buying jewelries! We spent at least 30minutes there before they drove us back to the city. We got so hungry because we arrived past 1pm instead of 12 noon!
New Rot Fai Market - Cultural Centre MRT
In our search for night market, Chino randomly found the new Rot Fai Market located in Ratchanda area. The original Rot Fai train market is way out of Bangkok's suburbs while the new one is smaller but easier to reach. We love this place because it's a huge land with tents for food, clothes and antiques.
Sawadee ka!
I've spent my remaining bahts on a few more clothes! It's like Chatuchak Market but less stressful and crowded.

I went back to Manila with new clothes, shoes, stash of Thai Milk tea and awesome memories with Chino. Bangkok is truly a great destination for gastronomic adventure and shopping!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Tummy Tour: Saigon's Lunch Lady

So we followed Anthony Bourdain's recommendation from his No Reservations show and he did not fail us!
The Lunch Lady (Nguyen Thi Thanh) Vietnam, Hồ Chí Minh, Quận 1
I didn't realize that Vietnam is also a foodie heaven and one of the highlights of our Vietnam trip is eating at the Lunch Lady's. After checking just now, I found out that it's 2.7km away from our hotel and I think we walked more than that because we went to the Book Street and War Remnants Museum before having our late lunch
We relied on Chino's sense of direction and Google Maps then happily found The Lunch Lady!
Saigon's Lunch lady
It was an adventure to look for it and it proved to be one of our best decisions!

Side orders
It was already past 1PM when we arrived but the place is still packed. We didn't wait long to have our table. They automatically served side orders like fried rolls and prawn crackers.
Spring roll
They also served springs rolls and we're overwhelmed because food kept on coming =)))
Banh Ca Cua
The Lunch Lady specializes in serving noodle soups and she rotates her menu everyday. When we went there on a Saturday, we tried this noodle soup with rich broth, shrimp, crab meat, beef, quail eggs, fishcake and more goodness. The noodles is also thick, similar to Japanese udon.
Buko juice
 The next day, we realized that we don't have to order all the side dishes so when the server was offering spring rolls, I raised my hands to make a big cross sign. The foreigners from the other table laughed and was almost amused that it was possible to say no. Looking at their tables, they only finished their noodle soups and haven't touched their side dishes. Chino and I thought that it's expensive to order everything and we also want to try eat as much food from other places.
Lunch lady's
The noodle soup for Sunday had a light but yummy broth, fish cakes, pork and smaller noodles. 

If you're planning to visit Vietnam, make sure to go to the Lunch Lady's. The whole experience from not knowing what type of noodles soup will they serve that day to finally tasting it and enjoying it under a tent with other travelers is a great memory!

Tummy Tour: Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam

Because food is the best reason to travel
I didn't bother to research things to do and places to see for our spontaneous trip to Vietnam but I found time to look up the must try food and the recommended places to eat! 

Mon Hue's Bun Bo Hue
Bun Bo Hue is a Vietnamese soup with vermicelli rice noodles and beef. This one costs 65,000vnd and I tried it when I arrived in Saigon, it was late already and nothing was open except Mon Hue a fastfood chain found all over Ho Chi Minh.
Dac Biet
Dac Biet or chicken noodles soup from the cafeteria near Chino's office in Lu van Lang.
25 Hoàng Sa, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (it’s located very close to Lunch Lady)
Pho or noodles soup is one of the most popular Vietnamese food and we've tried to eat as much noodles as we can. We're actually full from eating from the Lunch Lady but it was right across and we can't pass up on this highly recommended place. The pho from Phở Phượng 25 is the best one that we tried, I can't forget how tasty the broth is and the big but soft beef strips. 
We found another good pho at a market across Bitexco Financial Tower. 

It's a foodcourt style restaurant where you can order food from different stores and pay at 1 cashier. At first they were wondering why we only ordered 1 noodle and then saw that we're sharing it. We have this feeling that we want to explain that we want to try as much food as we can that's why we only ordered one but didn't bother =)))
Pho Ha in Nguyen Hue
I've read that family run style restaurants are the best place to get good food so when we passed by this Pho place, we had to try it. There was a long line so we even waited for our turn.
We we're disappointed because the broth tastes like a watered down soup and we even bought 1 soup each! We're just happy that we're able to try eating on the street with these table and stools that reminds me of the study table that we use when we're younger.

2) Bahn Mi

37 Nguyễn Trãi, Ho Chi Minh City (though the address is 37, it’s right at Hem 39)
It was an adventure to look for Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai because it was inside a dark alley but it was worth it. 

Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese word for bread or baguette. What makes each Banh Mi special is the fillings, for 37 Nguyen Trai, they use little grilled minced pork sliders. It costs 16,000vnd or $0.75 but it's the best that we've tasted. We actually bought it, stored it inside my bag, had dinner, went back to the hotel and remembered it 5hours later when we're unpacking. The sliders were still juicy and we regretted that we only bought 1 piece!
Cheesesteak bahn mi
We passed by another Banh Mi store and tried this yummy cheesesteak banh mi.
3) Grilled Meat and crab

Barbecue Garden
Chino's officemates recommended this grill restaurant so that we can take a break from vegetables and healthy food =)). We liked the ambience and even if it's outdoor, they have a mist system which makes the heat bearable.
Barbecue Garden
4) Dessert
We tried Bo Nuong Pho Mai, grilled beef with cheese and crab fried dumpling.

For dessert, we tried Banh flan or custard caramel. The first one is from the hotel breakfast buffet and Anhhong brand is from the grocery. Both are addicting!
 When in Vietnam, drink lots of coffee and Jasmine house tea!!

Bonus: Craft beer and Burger
Craft beer
A well lit alley led us to Pasture, a popular pub in Saigon where we tried the craft beer sampler. The most memorable ones are coffee + beer, jasmine + beer and Thai tea + beer combinations. It was a struggle to go down from the stairs after I finished a total of 2 glasses while Chino willingly finished the remaining 4. 
The 'Worst Burger' in Vietnam
By pure luck, after buying Kipling wallets from Behn Thanh Market, we stumbled up the 'Worst Burger' in Vietnam as featured in Adam Richman's Secret Eats. We shared 'The James Brown' a burger with USDA beef, bbq sauce, pulled smoke pork shoulder, cheddar cheese and coleslaw! 
Soul Burger
Chino and I like to binge watch from Travel channel and Asian Food Network so this was a fun surprise.