Monday, April 30, 2012

Birdy in the Family

A friend (recently leveled-up from being an acquaintance) went to Hong Kong for a family vacation and all I mentioned were milk tea powders. He left April 13, which is one of the worst days of my life. Yes, the worst days were yet to come and as a matter of fact, they're still lasting until the present. That's how sad my life is right now.

In any case, he mentioned out of the blue the exact same thing running in my mind - if I want to look for Birdy's CD in HMV while they're still in HK. I was really thinking about it (because another friend wasn't able to find her CD in SG) but was just not able to text or message him because of the gargantuan tasks that were dumped on me. It was a perfect suggestion at the perfect time. A couple of days later, I present to you.... Birdy in her eponymous album! Welcome to the family! I opened this CD (I don't usually open CDs I got overseas because I'm weird like that) and played it; yes, I was that sad and tired I was willing to rip open a fresh CD. Can't believe it's almost a year that I first posted her video in my blog and up to now, I'm still a fan. Really great vocals, hauntingly beautiful.
HKD 119 is not so bad a price to pay
when you're sad and low.
Birdy from Hong Kong! I can listen to her the whole day. Calming music. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reincarnation of the Quitter

From my Quitter post last month, I think it got resurrected in another sense. This is a bigger monster, probably the biggest monster I have ever seen. It would take 2 or more of me to practically finish off this sh@t and kill off the boss. I don't know if I'll level up after this or lose a limb or two. Or probably pack my bags and go somewhere else. I hope this doesn't come in three's because I'm already very very worried about the lingering one.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Simple Joys in Life: A New CD

So I really just had to share it. Yes, one of my simple joys in life includes purchasing CDs whether I order it through Amazon or just here in the local stores. A new item to be added in my stash is Ellie Goulding's Bright Lights CD! Asked a friend to look for it in Singapore (thanks, Kristal!) and she found one a couple of days before coming home for a vacation in the beautiful country of the Philippines.

At the conversion rate of April 7 the rank order of the 4 countries* wherein CDs cost the most:
1st - Singapore (intense cost of living!)
2nd - Hong Kong
3rd - US
4th - Philippines
*I only get my CDs from these countries so far. :)

So I guess I have to be thankful that CDs don't burn that much hole in my wallet since I live in the Philippines, eh? Well, the options/choices here are worse than the other countries. Nonetheless, I still have Ellie Goulding, yay! Listening party here we come!

Hair flip into perfection!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Michelle Branch - Breathe

Last Easter Sunday, well, before it was Easter Sunday - more like 5 minutes before Easter Sunday, I read from a friend that Michelle Branch and Jojo would be having a concert in the Philippines - in Manila on the 16th 7th of June and in Cebu. There... I died for a good fifteen minutes and was swiped clean in front of the computer like I was lobotomized 20 times. I think I was nursed back to proper consciousness 2 hours after. Then played Michelle Branch's "Breathe" because I need to. Then played all her songs in my iPod. Then smiled and realized that there is still hope for humanity (well, at least before the world ends in 2012).

Can't wait to die when I see her live! It's a dream more than a decade old! (Since 2002 FYI, haha.)

Friday, April 06, 2012

Viaje del Sol - Cultural / Food Trip

Last March 31 my aunt and her friends have already planned their daytrip to Laguna and Quezon and when they needed more warm bodies to bring aside from their kids; my mom, me, and my cousin are the instant tag-alongs. My cousin initially wanted to just watch "Mirror Mirror" but it's not everyday you can have a different kind of trip (or an adventure). It's much easier to just go to the mall or cinema and purchase a ticket. If you have free 2 hours or so, fwam. Done deal. So we're going for the cultural and food trip instead of the movie date, oh boy, can't wait to be cultured like a pearl!

All photos are taken from Zumi in Monochrome (soft) filter. I was itching to switch back to my original favorite - the Vivid filter but hey, I must optimize the other options made available!

We left home around 5:30am (no sleep for me) first to meet the rest of the wanderers.

Simple (art) itinerary:
Casa San Pablo (where we also had our breakfast)
Museo ni Cipra
Ugu Bigyan (where we had lunch)
Patis Tesoro's Garden Cafe
Collette's (for last stop of pasalubongs)

Casa San Pablo is a bed-and-breakfast hidden gem in San Pablo, Laguna. My mom and my aunt mentioned they remember Hidden Valley in the setting. Casa San Pablo has a wooden bridge, a pool near the entrance, and manicured lawns with pine trees scattered around the place. The setting is humble and very peaceful.

We had our breakfast here and the owner/manager, Boots Alcantara, is very sociable. First time to try hot chocolate with pinipig and then you eat it like cereals. Well the place is their family's land and the memorable line he mentioned while he was sharing the history of their place was, "So I asked my lola if I could borrow 1 hectare -" and of course we really had to interrupt, "You just BORROW 1 hectare?" They are landed. They have great interiors and there's an evident homey feeling. It's a great place when you want a quiet place to stay at. There are 18 rooms you can rent with different themes/designs and this place is good for teambuildings, retreats, and other group-oriented activities. One thing though, I didn't check the rates. Boohoo.

Museo ni Cipra has a PHP50 entrance fee. Dr. Cipra (a licensed dentist) at 86 years old can still drive around in her yellow Honda Jazz and she still makes art in an almost-daily basis. Modern art of patterns and colors (oh sorry, Zumi only got it in B/W). Don't ask me if they allow taking of photos inside. There are around 3 houses full of her works, different patterns, and welded metal.

Cipra's work of art.
Next stop would be Ugu Bigyan's place. Augusto "Ugu" Bigyan is a famous clay potter. His works can be usually found in the homes of art enthusiasts. To have lunch in his place, you have to place your order and reservation the day before. The thing is, you don't have to pay anything beforehand. Your order will influence their food for the next day. Minimum of 10 people to make a reservation, though, but the food is superb! I don't know, we were not that hungry yet from our breakfast at Casa San Pablo but I ate a lot. Their puso ng saging is amazing! It has that grilled-after-taste which was so good I asked the server (who also waves around a leaf to prevent the flies from attacking your food) if there's meat (pork/chicken/beef) included. He shook his head no and I was tempted to stuff the food inside my bag. It was that good.

Jars, mugs, cups, saucers, etc. for sale.
We also tried the hibiscus tea at Ugu Bigyan's, which as manong mentioned, is gumamela tea (which tastes like Twining's Fruit Tea - Strawberry and Mango). Mom and I were kidding that maybe our mouth would froth from the gumamela, referencing that the flower is used to make home-made bubbles solution. You crush the flower, add Tide or some detergent powder, mix with water, dip your blower, and tadah! Bubbles!!

Carlitos' open work area. He has a lot of (art) books
and a really neat swing/chair.
Next stop was Carlitos Ortega's place. He's a brass sculptor who gave us a short lecture on art and philosophy. I also pinched my nose to prevent blood from gushing. He doesn't take photos of his works because he said he doesn't want to be stuck to the past works as he'll keep on referencing it on his current work. And he has a big place, too. Artists in Laguna and Quezon are really landed...and rich.

Carlito explaining the process how he makes brass sculptures.
And the art and philosophy behind it.
We also had rice coffee with brown sugar (I have forgotten how brown sugar tastes like as I've been consuming just sugar-free sweeteners for a long time). So that's why it tastes different! Rice coffee. Hmm.

Last stop would be Patis Tesoro's Garden Cafe (as we didn't have enough time for Collette's factory anymore). Since we're still full and pressed for time, we just went directly to the shop inside the cafe. I saw a malong similar to what DJ gave me and it was PHP400 there. Dang. There were a lot of items for sale as well but all my mom bought were pasalubongs like vinegar, jam, etc. And oh, we also stopped by Collette's just because you can't go to Laguna or Quezon without bringing home a buko pie. No pie, no proof.

Malongs and sarongs for sale in the shop.
I really need to one-up my art knowledge. I was able to ride the philosophical references of Carlitos but when he asked, "who's your favorite Filipino artist?" I didn't want to be a sell-out and mention common names but I'm still too ignorant to be "hipster" though. A day trip full of beautiful places, it gave me the simple joy of discovering new things (and new food) without going too far from the comforts of Manila (nor going to the beach because it's the usual out-of-town trip).

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Using Globe Tattoo Sim in Your iPhone3G

So for some reason, I finally decided to use the office-issued Globe Tattoo post-paid sim. Maybe it's because the Holy Week vacation is coming up and hopefully I won't find the need to open my laptop for work.

Setting-up the iPhone 3G for use with your Globe Tattoo Sim.

Settings > General > Network > Cellular Data Network

APN must match your sim card - check if it's postpaid or prepaid.

Prepaid :

Username and Password can be left blank. :)

2.) Then turn on Cellular Data. 3G is optional but it's faster in both ways - faster data and sucks battery faster, too.

To check if you have connection or if it works: You can go to your browser (Safari) and load up some sites. Voila.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Club Balai Isabel - Talisay, Batangas

March 10-11 weekend was rocked by a trip to Club Balai Isabel at Talisay, Batangas with the family and relatives (so basically, it's still family, no duh). We had the tower offsite/team-building here as well but since I was the only one who has been able to set foot at Club Balai Isabel and the reviews about the place are pretty good, it was the target for the weekend getaway.

It was a familiar sight! :p
The pool at the Cafe Terraza at night.
There are no restaurants or other food shops inside the resort save for Cafe Terraza where they serve lunch buffets, too. Before you start complaining on the limited food choices you have, better be prepared to bring all your raw ingredients or buy food prior because they're not strict at all to whatever you bring inside their premises. You can bring a whole lechon and truckloads of alcohol for crying out loud and they won't mind (but please don't quote me on this). They have singers at night so you can watch while having your dinner, well, either you listen to them or watch the others wade in the swimming pool or maybe you can do both - whatever floats your boat.

It's a lake resort so don't be expecting fine sand and swim-worthy freshwater. The resort has 3 pools so you can choose where you want to drown yourself (they have lifeguards, mind you, so drowning successfully would be pretty difficult). There's also a church inside the place, so it's perfect for those who want to get married at a peaceful place with a nice view and near place for the reception.

The highlight for me though was the trek to the "real" Taal Volcano. Cousins and I took a boat ride to the island-volcano in the middle of the lake and there we started our 5km trek. It wasn't a difficult trek since I've been to a couple of mountains already and have been running for some time. It was PHP 2,500 for 6 people and it costs PHP 400 to ride a horse (to and from).

Boat ride.
Trekking trekking.
ISO 800 for fun.
Others opted to ride the horse all the way. The narrow trail can accommodate the horses as well as their excrement. Insider's tip: Don't be toooooo tired as to fail to notice the horse dung around the place and trail. They come in different sizes and freshness, so beware!

I don't know you lady, you don't know me. We're cool.
The horse isn't.

There were other routes but Club Balai Isabel purchased property that's basically a shortcut to the crater. Others have to traverse a farther distance to see that hey, there's another lake inside Taal Lake! Yipee! And they also let you drive golf balls.

View from the room. Yes, stupid enough not to open the sliding door.
See the dirt? :|
We rented a suite/room with a kitchen and can accommodate 12 people. I believe it's around PHP12,000 overnight, too. A thousand pesos per head is not bad since the room is pretty decent. You can cook all you can (no corkage!) and basically stuff people inside your suite. They don't count people and the security is not strict when you want to enter the resort (this might be a problem). It's not an exclusive resort (wherein you need to be a member) so it welcomes everyone to experience a lakeside resort (again, this is not a beach). It's peaceful enough for the family and the area is large enough for friends to pull off crazy stunts together. Definitely not the place to people watch but a good place to create memories with good company.