Saturday, June 23, 2012

Waiting for the Rainbow

Today is a rather gloomy day, I've had better days.

Hello there, Murphy's Law.

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Unfortunately, plan A didnt work, but that is why there are 28 letters in the alphabet. Dont get me wrong I had a plan B but its just sad to execute because I've spent hours beyond my call of duty, studying, preparing, presenting and even arguing for this project. Even though I already saw this as a factor that could hinder my goal, its still sad to go through this.

For the past few days, I've had restless sleeps. I wake up in the middle of the night checking my emails and iTunesConnect. I've been dreaming of app downloads, the moment where all my plan can finally materialize. But then, you can plan all you want but if you are not the only stakeholder, if you dont have 100% control then all you can do is to "keep calm and carry on."

Do you want the truth, can you handle it?
For the second time, I proved that I'm really gifted with that instinct that allows me to feel if someone is cheating. Maybe I developed it because I watched too much movies or read a lot of books or women are really gifted with such. In both circumstance, I'm not happy to prove that I was right.

What is the proper or even socially accepted way to react when someone close to you say that they've caught their SO cheating? As she cried and shared the details, I sat there wishing that it wasnt true. I was speechless then I went on to wash my clothes, clean the bathroom & my room AND cry every chance I get. After 3 hours I finally had the courage to text and ask her is she's ok (..of course she's not!!!) and asked if she wants me to be there. In my mind I know that she's strong and I'm actually scared for her SO because I know that things will never be the same again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lego & Independence Day: More Fun In The Philippines

Tomorrow, June 12, 2012, the Philippines will celebrate its 114th Independence Day. My wish for my country is lesser corruption and crab mentality. For myself, I aim for freedom from debt and negativity. I thank you, bow!

On a lighter note, as part of the celebration of Philippine's independence, SM North Edsa & Lego have an amazing display at SM the Block.

In no particular order.. Butanding watching in Albay!

Basco Lighthouse, Batanes

I've been dreaming of Coron, Palawan!

 I've been here--> Magellan's Cross, Cebu and Chocolate Hills Bohol!

Hagdan hagdang palayan Ifugao and Baguio!

I've been to Davao <3

 El Nido, Palawan!

 Luneta, Fort Bonifacio, Manila area!

 Pearl Farm, Davao & Philippine Eagle

 Pineapple Plantation, Bukidnon + Pagsanjan Falls

There's Spratleys Island and Panatag Shoal!

 San Juanico Bridge

 Coron again! I cant find Boracay..

But here's Palawan's Underground River

 The Ilocos Norte, Vigan, Pagudpud area--> my next target local destinations

Wow, it made me realize that I haven't explored even 10% of our 7,107  islands!

The Spark is Back & The 2012 Ginebra Kings

Warning this is a fangirl's post :P Mark Caguioa ended the last conference with a good and bad bang! His performance for the entire conference was recognized when he received his 2nd (..just the 2nd!!!!) Best player of the conference award. The last time he won the BPC award, was in 2006-2007 season, he was the biggest contender for MVP but..ok that's an entirely different story. Fast forward Commissioner's cup 2012, he had a freak accident that made him sit through the semis and its kinda sad to say that although it proved that he's the most valuable player but also where the Spark goes, Ginebra goes. With Mark on the bench, Ginebra got eliminated by the eventual champions B-Meg.

To say that he embodies Ginebra's Never Say Attitude is an understatement. He's been playing for more than 10 years now and even after different injuries or setbacks, he manages to come back strong each time. You wouldn't think that his health was even questionable before the 2012 Governor's cup opened, they are currently 3-2--> almost 4-0 so far.  

Ok, enough of MC47, here's the team history on the last 10 conferences (
Come to think of it, after their 2008 championship, the team is neither here or there. I mean, they haven't placed lower than 6th in the last 9 conference, there's no instance where they really struggled, can we blame that on the never say die attitude? LOL. But they didnt end up being the champion either! After the consecutive trades, tweaking of coaching staff, here's the current line up of Brgy Ginebra Kings

PG: Mike Cortez, Rob Labagala, Jayjay Helterbrand
SG: John Wilson, Mark Caguioa
PF: Billy Mamaril, Nino Canaleta, Rudy Hatfield
SF Rico Maierhofer, Allein Maliksi,Willy Wilson, Dylan Ababou
C: Kerby Raymundo, Enrico Villanueva, Eric Menk
Import PG/SG: Cedric Bozeman
Coach: Siot Tanquincen
Asst Coach: Allan Caidic, Juno Sauler, Alfrancis Chua

In the past, they'll always have a chance - thus the 2nd-6th place finish but they always come short. I like the current mix on the line up compared before where the team feels like a "Security agency" because its too loaded with guards!:P

In Ginebra's first game versus Air21, this marked Caguioa's, with protective glasses, grand return with a good support from all around import Cedric Bozeman with 29points and 13 rebounds. This runaway win also featured the rookie Allein Maliksi who recovered from a ligament injury. When Ginebra got the Espana Express, between the 2 of them, I was rooting for Dylan Ababou to stand out but if we can have both, that's great news! I have high expectations from Dylan because I watched him became UAAP MVP. I can say that I havent tracked Maliksi's career, he was Dylan's backup in their UST Tigers stint but while the former was on the talent studded Smart Gilas, Maliksi became a PBA D-League MVP. 

The biggest story on Ginebra's loss to BMeg is the "benching" of super rookie Ababou. Maybe coach Siot's reason of not using Ababou for defensive purposes will be acceptable if they actually won. But they didnt and that sparked anger online. I often feel bad for Ababou, he had a stellar UAAP career, but his playing time - note: his playing time not his talent - went downhill when he joined the Smart Gilas national team. Then  he got drafted #10 by Barako Bull. Ok, so teams passed on him but that didnt stop him from showing moments of brilliance when he got his well deserved playing time. It was enough brilliance to get Ginebra interested.

The Spark is Back. That is the theme for Ginebra's 3rd game against Meralco Volts. Out of town games are Ginebra's forte no doubt plus Mark Cardona was missing! Caguioa took charge on the 3rd quarter, Maliksi had a career high 16 points, good game from Bozeman & Cortez plus Rico Maierhoffer had a breakout defensive game. As they say, he is the poorman's Sakuragi because he gives a different energy from his rebounds, hustle play - I'll take it!

Ouch Paul Lee. The loss versus ROS is one of those losses when you can't really blame anybody because its very winnable. They played excellent defense on the current #1 team but the import Cornley & super rookie Paul Lee made the shots during crunch time.

Not an ideal win vs Petron - but I'll take it. 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, Petron is in control with a 9 point lead then Mark Caguioa happened. He provided the much needed spark after sitting on the bench for half of the last quarter BUT the other key factors are Dylan's defense to Lutz, the old school Kerby Raymundo is back, Maierhoffer's hustle and Bozeman's consistency. But I also noticed - what is happening with Jayjay and Mike Cortez? Are they losing rhythm because they're sharing their minutes with the import? 

The good problem.  I think each team in the PBA have loaded line ups because of the limited number of teams so coach Siot shares this problem with 9 other coaches. The only difference is its magnified because of the multitude of Ginebra fans plus the social networks allow them/us to voice our opinions on coaching style, player rotations. But in the end, we have the same goal =  Ginebra's success.  As I said, I really like the current mix of veteran and rookies,  Maliksi, Ababou, Wilson and Maierhoffer are gems for the future. I can see a bright future with the four as core of the team. For the present, the best 5 are Caguioa, Ababou/Maliksi, Hatfield, Bozeman and Raymundo. I think this conference and/or the All Filipino cup next season is the best time time to  win a championship. Let's face it, the Caguioa-Helterbrand-Menk-Hatfield era are nearing its tail end. Maybe they can still play for 3-4 years but their competitive years, enough to win a championship, is ASAP!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thailand Experience: Floating Market, Elephant Show

Day 4
The difference between my HongKong and Thailand trip is on the former I was a tourist while on the latter I was a traveler. Here's one of the acquaintances I've met, my boatride seatmate from Uruguay!

Next stop is Wat Sai market in Thonburi, Bangkok. We paid 150baht for the 30 minutes boat ride experience. Its a good thing that we already went to several morning & night markets because the items here are overpriced! 

Nevertheless, it was quite an experience, it was a different kind of traffic :P
Our tour had several "optional" itineraries, an elephant village and snake show where no one  from our tour van joined lol. Out of all the optional tours, I enjoyed the handicraft store, the quality of work is just WOW!

By 12Noon, we had the buffet lunch and elephant show. The opening act  was an amazing magic show. Wow, I think its the first time that I saw those disappearing tricks, live!

 And the main show--> the elephants also called Chang, Thailand's national animal. I really enjoyed the elephant show that mixed Thai traditions, their history and love for football!
 Shortly after the show follows the crocodile show, I didnt really enjoy this because Im too scared for the performers.. or crocodiles arent as adorable as elepants!
 Good thing that were back in the city by 4PM, that means, we have enough time to search for the tamarind pasalubong and more time for shopping!!! We went to MBK for pasalubong shopping, we even bumped to our tour van-mates :)
During lunch, I ended up eating Spaghetti with bread and fruits because Indian & Thai food are too spicy for me! Good thing that back in Siam paragon, I had my Tempura for dinner <3. Since we have enough time before our flight, we decided to go to the grocery to look for powdered milk tea that malls have been giving away for free. And we found it!!! Yay!

I really enjoyed my stay at Thailand!!! I loved the balanced mix of preserved culture and touristy feel. I promise to come back soon xoxo

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Thailand Experience: Pattaya City & Coral Island

Day 3! There's a different feeling when you wake up with this view

As always, we started the day with a big breakfast! The hotel's manager turned out to have a Filipina ex-wife, we dont know if that triggered him to be extra mindful of us to the point of saying goodbye for at least 4 times LOL. We think he misses her although the ex wife managed to get all their properties, hmmm..
 Our itinerary for day 3 is Coral Island tour! It is 45 minutes ride by speed boat. We also met sir Rob, a Pinoy based in Davao who's currently on a business trip. They took this photo for insurance purposes and as souvenir as well.
 The speedboat stopped on the area for optional "sea walking" for 1500baht, no one tried it lol. The next stop is the parasailing, it looks fun but unfortunately Im out of baht :(
 Then, last minute, I decided screw the out of baht hahaha Its not everytime that I'll spend my weekend in Thailand and parasailing is actually cheaper here, 400baht compared to 1k plus in Boracay.

 By 11AM we reached our destination, Coral Island!! It was lovely but it turned out that we only have 30 minutes to swim/beach bum and enjoy the island before having lunch then were off to snorkeling.

 During lunch, we met 2 European girls but they just know limited English so we didnt get the chance for more chika.
 1 hour of snorkeling was amazing, too bad that when we got back to the shore, we only had 30 minutes to shower then were back to Bangkok! Sadly, I've been to Coral Island first before going to Boracay so I cant compare but the beach is really pure and clean. The white sand goes a long stretch that I didnt hesitate to swim even if its 12 in the afternoon!
 It was already 9PM when we got back to the city and checked in to First House hotel. Sarie & Patty's search for tamarind is still on. we risked on going to MBK mall but it was closed already. Our other problem was, we were out of baht so for dinner we looked for a place that accepts credit card! We also wanted to go bar hopping but since we cant find a money changer, we went to old reliable 7/11 and bought Thai beer and chips with our last 100baht hahaha. That was a funny experience, we have money but different currency! P.S. SanMig Light and Tanduay Ice are the best!

------->Day 4

Thailand Experience: Siam Square, Tuktuk & Pattaya

Day 2:
Were still on Bangkok and our goal is to shop before transferring to Pattaya city!  We had a big breakfast to prepare for the fun day ahead.

We found a nearby morning market which I fell in love with. I was so happy with the clothes' quality and  price that I went missing for about an hour. :P When Sarie and Patty found me, I had 2 dress and 4 tops for less than 2000baht.

By 9AM, we headed to the mall! Our tour guide Pita warned us about the scheming ways of Tuktuk drivers,  but we still want to try this kind mash up of taxi and tricycle. As expected manong Tuktuk driver scammed us by agreeing to drive us to Siam Paragon, then after dropping us to the mall, that's the time that he informed us that it wont open until 10AM. He even offered to drive us to a jewelry shop, I think he has a commission or something. Hmmm, charge that to experience.

We stayed on a nearby coffee shop to kill time and ironically, I tried an ice cream instead of coffee LOL. By 10AM Siam Paragon opened and it was a shopping heaven for Sarie & Patty because its filled with high end designer stuff. We went inside Mango where I found the perfect bag pasalubong for my nanay! I was also happy to see a $3000baht lace dress thats almost similar to the $250baht lace dress I bought on the morning market.
We learned a hard lesson on Thailand--> Leave "Filipino time" on Philippines! So, we really enjoyed shopping at Siam Paragon that we got delayed by 10 minutes. Our our van will fetch us at 11:30am, and when we arrived  10 minutes late, we received a note. Its the worst note that a tourist can receive - sorry, we cannot wait for you and we cant refund your money! :( We got no one else to blame so we just called our tour guide on what arrangement can we do since we already checked out of our hotel and the rest of our itinerary is in Pattaya :( Fortunately, Pita came to the rescue, we paid additional 600baht each for the cab. The distance of Bangkok to Pattaya is 3 hours, it felt like going from Makati to Batangas.. I really like the infrastructure in Thailand, its very tourist-friendly, they have several "Skyways".
By 3PM, after checking in to Pattaya Centre Hotel, we walked around the area and looked for authentic Thai food. We found it at Pbhok market, I ordered Seafood Sukiyaki and its beyond delicious for 40baht!
We checked out the beach then decided to buy pasalubong instead. Sarie & Patty was looking for this tamarind delicacy, we walked until its almost sunset but they couldnt find it on the otherhand I went ended up with a big plastic of pasalubongs.  Pattaya beach is nice but just as good as any beach in Batangas. The main difference is, Pattaya is made for tourists, it has the big hotels and establishments to make it a tourist destination. 
Actually, no hotel has direct access to the shore, you need to cross the road. After some creepy guy began talking to us, we decided to go back to Pattaya Centre and used the pool instead. The water is nice and its very private, maybe because we broke the rule of no swimming after 7PM 0.0
It was only the 2nd day but we already missed our burgers and fries! We went to old reliable Burger King for dinner :P So much for cultural/food immersion. We also found a custom Thai McDonalds!

After loading carbs, we have enough energy again to go on a night market! More souvenir shopping for Saria & Patty!

We're supposed to go on bar hopping but we dont want to be misinterpreted as girls looking for fun so we walked around and found a safe mobile bar. Vans are parked on the sidewalk and they setup tables and chairs and viola! Instant mobile bar for girls who want clean fun ;) I enjoyed my "Hello Siam" cocktail mix for only 80baht!

------->Day 3

Thailand Experience: City/Temple tour and Siam Naramit

A super late post on the supposed-to-be-South-Korea-trip-that-turned-out-to-be-one-of-my-best-trips!

If you have been reading my blog, you wont wonder why I want to go to Korea. What's not to love? Their culture- check, food- check, KPop stars - check, KPop music - only the OSTs, fashion - check!! So I was just too happy that my high school kabarkada, Sarie, agreed to go with me! We were supposed to be a big group but I ended up traveling with just Sarie & Patty.

The trip was conceived on one of our drinking nights at Timog, it sounded like a joke back then because come to think of it, the farthest that I've travelled with them was Tagaytay. Sarie is a med student on leave, she has been studying for quite sometime now and currently enjoying her vacation. She's the one who really pushed for the trip, everyday, she'll send me itineraries and quotes for Korea. The 4d/3n package which includes the tour, hotel and visa application costs around PHP50,000-60,000. So thats roughly PHP70,000 if I add the tipid food and shopping budget. The airfare was the reason why the price ballooned this much. I have to think twice because a) its expensive -  I have a friend who went to Seoul and spent 30K all in all although they got a discounted CebuPacific fare - and b) we wont even experience the Cherry Blossom or snow!

So, here comes plan B. Sarie and Patty have been to Malaysia & Singapore. I've been to HongKong. The first destination that came to my mind was Thailand. The funny story was, I recently watched a Thai movie called Hello Stranger where 2 Thai students went on a trip to South Korea. I was really inspired to go to Korea and unconsciously to Thailand.

Anyway, after the back and forth emails with my travel agent, we finally booked our Bangkok Tour.

Day 1: Our flight to Bangkok took 3 hours. We arrived by 10am on Thursday and we were greeted by a huge crowd of multinationals in the airport. Our tour guide Pita, met us at the airport and helped us check in to our hotel. She also assisted us in changing our money, the exchange rate is PHP1.5=1 Thai Baht.
Our first agenda after checking in to the hotel is to EAT!! We're famished since we were at the airport by 3AM for the 6AM flight. Luckily, our hotel (First House Hotel) is located near a mall called Shibuya. This mall will come handy as a landmark for our entire trip!  We went to the foodcourt section and were fascinated to know that we need to buy & use stored value cards for 100baht or 150 pesos. According to Pita, the store rentals depend on how much each food stall earned per day. I'm not sure if its a pro or con for those who own the stalls. I think I spent at least 20 minutes walking around to decide what will I eat, I ended up getting a Strawberry Yogurt shake and yummy Tempura fried rice.
We have the same weather with Thailand so on a mid May, we experienced a hot then rainy city tour. It was raining so hard that we just opted to stay on the tour van while Pita tells the stories about the 4 faced Buddha and the Thailand monarchy. We braced the rain and mini flood to check out one of the temples. I really admire the intricate details one their infrastructure. We also visited a jewelry factory, my mom's heaven haha but I ended up buying Bangkok shot glass souvenirs instead.

After the Bangkok city & temple tour, we had 2 hours to freshen up and do anything before our next itinerary. We went around the Petchburi area and tried out different street foods like chicken wings, the Thai counterparts of dugo, isaw and longanisa. All costs under 20baht or 30 pesos, local food is really cheap!
We went inside the Shibuya mall, which feels like St Francis Square or 168 mall in terms of the goods sold. We tried out and bought hats for fun, it was the best decision because it came handy on all of our tours. These are the fancy hats that we did not end up buying ahaha

What makes Thailand distinct is how they preserved their culture and traditions. In each street or landmark, you will find a monument in honor of their king or the monarchy in general. As a form of worship, people leave food and drinks on each shrine. And you wont find rotten food because its replaced everyday. I felt their strong respect and love for their king everytime I spoke with local Thais.

By 6pm, our tour van fetched us for our next destination. The Siam Naramit Bangkok show is a complete experience. It started with a buffet, 1 hour gastronomical experience of Thai, Indian and other Asian food. I really love the Taro ice cream, I had 3 servings to cool off the spice from my dinner.
Satisfied tummy and cold auditorium is not a good combination, good thing that the actual Siam Naramit show is that awesome! Its a musical, cultural show that showcased Thailand's tradition, history and customs. It lasted for 1 1/2 hour, yup that long, but everytime I'll feel sleepy something spectacular will come up -  live elephants on stage, suddenly there's a real river, amazing backdrops, just WOW! Cameras were not allowed inside the theater but thats ok because it allowed me to appreciate the entire experience.
Were back at the hotel by 10pm, were supposed to try the night market BUT it was raining. We just packed our stuff because we'll transfer to another hotel the next day. So, my wallet is still full by that time, here are the sample Thai money

------>Day 2