Archive for February, 2009

28
Feb
09

ONE PROUD DADDY

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God is really BEST! We were only praying this morning for Gabby not to forget his lines as he go up on stage to deliver his 2-stanza-poem entitled, “For My Country” but He made it possible for my son to win 3rd place out of 51 Nursery students, of two sections, mostly 3 1/2 to 4 years of age, in 2009 Twinkle Toes Academy’s Declamation contest held at the auditorium of Stella Maris College, Quezon City.

Not that the venue was far from our place, in fact it’s only 5-minute-drive, perhaps we were only excited for Gabby’s first scholastic/extra-curricular activity so we woke up at four in the morning to prepare for the 7:30AM call time as stated in the school’s memo to parents, that Twinkle Toes Academy teachers intended to promptly start the contest at eight. True enough we were the earliest birds at the venue, we got there an hour before their call time; at least we never rushed for we’re not late and got ample time to smile for the cam…

Gabby & my lovely wife, Tina…
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Gabby looked even more contest-ready when he wore his Barong complete with buri hat and met his classmates who were also geared up for the competition. I was telling my parents who sat with us at the auditorium that I don’t remember having such activity as early as preschool. Kids now really take one-step ahead in all aspects compared to our generation who were mostly brought up timid & shy, unaware of public speaking & who mostly lacked self confidence during those wonder years…

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That’s MY BOY!!!
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GABBY with his classmates/co-contestants…
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the new cast of Going bulilit, err Sesame Street…Batibot???!!! we wish!
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BACKTRACK last December, just before they had their Holiday break, teachers distributed randomly, the different poems to each kids for them to memorize. That’s when Gabby started reciting his piece even during showers.

FOR MY COUNTRY
I surely love my country,
the land in which I live.
And to my own dear homeland,
my trust & faith, I give.

But just to love my country
is not all that I should do.
I must be strong & noble,
courteous, brave & true.
Being a Filipino,
that’s all I should do.

Here’s the video of his award-winning piece, “FOR MY COUNTRY”…

After the 51 nursery pupils declamed with some went up the stage with not only costumes but backdrops & props, there was a 20-minute break before the program host gave the floor to the 71 preparatory kids’ declamation contest. And about an hour before noon time, we just found ourselves walking Gabby to the stage to accept his 2-feet trophy. It was really an amazing experience. Imagine, an achiever at an early age. We can’t help but be proud of him. He’s the champion for us.

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This one’s for the books, err blog!!!
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And Gabby’s equally proud Lola & Lolo (my parents!)…
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Then my parents gave their apo a VICTORIOUS lunch treat at Super Bowl of China in Gateway Mall…
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We munched on DIMSUM PLATTER…
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BEEF with BROCOLLI, YANG CHOW FRIED RICE…
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CRISPY LEMON CHICKEN…
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and a bucket of TAHO for Gabby…
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YOUR MOM & I ARE REALLY PROUD OF YOU, SON!
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27
Feb
09

PEEK-A-BOO

Was this photoshop or what ? I found this article on the net stating that viewers (including myself) of the 81st Oscars Awards few days ago missed out seeing nipple slip (again) from Beyonce Knowles’ sexy red costume during her awesome Broadway number with Hugh Jackman. Here’s the censored photo :

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And the video of their production number…

FYI, This was not the first time that Beyonce had the same peek-a-boo on-stage. Seems like a favorite show act, Ms. Knowles? Kidding, I know it’s always an accident, lol.

27
Feb
09

SANTINO!

This one’s a revelation. I admit to watching teleseryes (TV series) of ABS-CBN with Tina & Gabby on primetime and for the first time will confess that I found myself with crocodile tears on an episode of May Bukas Pa. Call me jologs or even sentimental fool, but I really think that the simple story of the child Santino communicating with “BRO” seems like effective means of reminding adults like me, moreso the kids watching that keeping a personal relationship with the Lord is a priority of our existence and only He is always present with us amidst trials and triumphs.

This is the main plot of the series sourced from abs-cbn.com :
When he was just a baby, Santino (Zaijan Jaranilla) was abandoned by his mother in a monastery. Santino was raised by the caring priests Father Anthony (Jaime Fabregas), Father Jose (Dominic Ochoa), and Father Ringo (Lito Pimentel). As a young boy, Santino will find a friend in a mysterious person named “Bro” who will help him change the lives of the people in their town. May Bukas Pa is a story that is set to open the eyes of viewers that there will always be hope amidst trials and difficulties. Miracles don’t just fall from heaven but comes to those who keep their faith.

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For a little cynical-judgmental-sometimes sarcastic-sinner like me, crying over a movie or a TV series is so unusual & rare except if it’s really something that moved me. Tonight’s episode of May Bukas Pa was really a tear-jerker, particularly the scene when Santino is being fetched by 2 social workers from the priests who adopted & raised him. The priests agreed on the turnover of custody for there was no legal adoption between them & Santino’s unknown parents. I’m no avid fan of Dominic Ochoa & Lito Pimentel (who are playing priests & fatherly to Santino) but these 2 actors were really effective in that scene. I myself was surprised with how I reacted with that episode. Perhaps I imagined myself in the same situation. I am a dad to my 4-year-old son Gabby & I guess it’s difficult for parents seeing their child being taken away. It’s a dysphoric moment even if it’ll be for the child’s betterment. As Shakespeare put it, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.” It’s just so heart-breaking.

26
Feb
09

TRAGIC

I am a father and I feel for the parents of this Grade 4 pupil of Ateneo de Manila University who died of a horrible accident within the premises of the Catholic school. This tragedy should never be repeated to any child or any parent. I so hope authorities will do something on this issue. Let us always pray for the safety & health of our kids.

My you rest in God’s grace, Julian Carlo Miguel “Amiel” Alcantara.

25
Feb
09

VEINTE TRES

It has been 23 years since the world witnessed the efforts of Filipinos that exceeded great expectations.
I was only 9 years old then when resistance to power was demonstrated by nonviolent revolution in a national highway known as EDSA. I can vividly recall how we received the news from our place in Pasig, that EDSA was already filled with millions of people longing to embrace democracy & change.

These moments were really glorious… It made us all proud to be Pinoys.

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But more than 2 decades after,
everything has evolved.
For the better?
LOL !!!
Now that’s a JOKE!

Where have all the flowers gone?

I think all of those kodak moments was put to waste.

Where are we heading next?
Uncertainties make me so sick, really.
I despise politics in my country.
Give me reasons to embrace it.

24
Feb
09

WHAT THE ?

What in the world is happening to people?
Is this a sign of Armageddon?
My, Oh my…

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23
Feb
09

ENVIOUS

spl70144_006_thumbnail3 The Oscars is over and watching it on cable few hours back, made me realize how much my wife adores Hugh Jackman who hosted the 81st Academy awards. She admitted long before her admiration to this 40-year-old Australian actor among other celebrities & I think nothing’s wrong with it (?) but seeing her eyes glued to the TV every time he occupies the screen made me NOT jealous, or insecure but a bit ENVIOUS . (oops, that reminds me that envy is one of those deadly sins, tsk tsk tsk…) lol!
What can I do? He’s really my wife’s eye-candy.

l23316592277_1431 I admit he did a great job as the host of the Academy awards as he gave the show a new kick by spicing it up with his Broadway & Tony awards-like moves & tunes. I liked his engaging opening number that introduced the Best Picture nominees and ofcourse the broadway-inspired stint with Beyonce Knowles and the stars of High School Musical, Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron was indeed something. Jackman is the first Oscars host who is non-comedian compared to those who already hosted it. Nonetheless, he did well and really pulled off the show.

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Who would not want to be in Hugh Jackman’s shoes? He was voted as 2008 sexiest man alive by People magazine, one of the bankable lead male stars in Hollywood who recently starred in the movie Australia with the beautiful & sexy Nicole Kidman, and most importantly Jackman’s the one who immortalized Wolverine in cinemas worldwide. I remember reading an article that featured an interview with Keannu Reeves when he starred in the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, that even Keannu confessed he was envious of Hugh Jackman for portraying the role of the X-men lead Wolverine though everyone knows he got the Neo role in Matrix trilogy to his name. SO IT WAS NOT ONLY ME WHO’S ENVIOUS OF HUGH! Another thing that I envy of Hugh is his weight loss. He apparently did lose some pounds with his new diet according to some articles on the web, perhaps in preparation for his Oscar hosting job.

wolverine_jackman_scenar_1Most of my date movies with Tina before starred her crush which include Van Helsing where Hugh Jackman played a vampire-buster, the helplessly romantic movie Kate & Leopold opposite Meg Ryan, Someone Like You with the pretty Ashley Judd, the flopped movie Scoop & even the cartoon movie Flushed Away where he lent his voice to the main mouse-character, & ofcourse, my personal favorites Swordfish and X-men movies.

Hugh Jackman’s next movie scheduled to be release on May 1st is X-Men Origins : Wolverine.
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For sure I’ll accompany Tina to watch this movie as I am a fanatic of X-men movies too.
Here’s the trailer…

21
Feb
09

OUR LUNCH @ PEPPER LUNCH

Finally, we have tried eating at Pepper Lunch, the new upscale japanese fastfood located in Shangri-la & Powerplant malls. Considering it’s a Saturday and it’s almost 12PM when we got there, we’re bit lucky to find a no-queue-minute at Pepper Lunch Shangri-la, because usually, diners have to be on a waiting list since it’s always packed. But we found ourselves with a reserved table number handed in by a crew and already in the counter about to order. However, the table number (#75) assigned to us was a bit far from the counter and near at the end of the resto. Nevertheless, eating sizzling good food that we get to finish “cooking” is definitely a new exciting experience for us.

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Pepper lunch has 200 branches across Asia, and according to their website, a must-try are their Beef Pepper Rice and Shimofuri Pepper Steak from Australia (Shimofuri means “marbled”). The food is served on an electromagenetic round sizzling plate in its almost-cooked state; meaning Pepper Lunch allows the diner to complete the cooking by mixing it up and spicing it with either garlic soy or honey brown sauce (or both); I go for the honey brown sauce, Tina agrees. Food combo comes with a drink already.

Tina ordered Beef Pepper Rice served with coke (PhP 235).

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Beef is thinly sliced, making it very tender, perfectly seasoned with pepper & honey brown sauce…

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I tried Chicken Pepper Rice + coke (PhP 235) which is also good but I find Beef Pepper Rice better… IMO, this should have been priced a little cheaper, because chicken is cheaper than beef. I thought of it before ordering but still want to try just to compare the two plates.

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We ordered Kuromitsu or soft ice cream (PhP 39) for Gabby…

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One of the service crew gave Gabby their freebies for kids, a cell phone accessory. Sweet!

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And BTW, they also serve dinner too, hehehe…

PEPPER LUNCH
Garden Court Lower basement,
Shangri-La Plaza mall, Ortigas Center

Pepper Lunch Rockwell
Unit 041, The Concourse
Power Plant Mall
Rockwell Center, Makati
Tel. 895-6185

21
Feb
09

BEFORE & AFTER…

Just before lunch time today, we went back to Color me-Mine in Shangri-la mall to claim & bring home our ceramic plate which we painted 10 days ago (see my previous blog entry : color me nori)…I just want to share the before & after photos of our “masterpiece” as a family… you can try it too, it’s a worthwhile bonding experience, kinda artistic too!

BEFORE….

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And AFTER we painted it ourselves and left it to the staff of Color me-Mine for them to glaze it and bake it in their pottery kilns, alas! here’s what we crafted for 4 hours of fun… We had Gabby’s right hand imprint at the centermost part of the plate making it as one of the souvenirs of his childhood.(colors are more emphasized after glazing & baking…)

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This is our second painted ceramic with them, and Gabby is still asking for us to go back next time and color again another art work…

Color me Mine is a franchise from the U.S..

21
Feb
09

LE CHING TEA HOUSE

One of our favorite, very affordable chinese resto is Le Ching Tea House in Greenhills. It’s well known for most hungry shoppers who look for quick & tasty meals particularly for Le Ching’s rice toppings. The ambiance isn’t best but the menu always satisfies our cravings for chicken mushroom rice (others like spareribs rice which is also good!), hakao (shrimp dumplings) with generous ingredients, and our very own favorite their shrimp cheong-fan but it’s only available in the morning in Le Ching and quite hard to find in other chinese resto except one in in Auckland, New Zealand when we where there, haven’t seen & tried it in HK (Can someone tell me wherelse can we find shrimp cheong-fan?, I’ll appreciate it, really.) Le Ching has another branch on the same site few steps away from its original resto, it’s called “Le Ching too” and another in Trinoma foodcourt. But our favorite is the original branch in Shoppesville, Greenhills.

Here’s our latest merienda in Le Ching Tea House in Shoppesville last 17 Feb… I had halo-halo congee, hakao & Tina had beef wanton noodle, bola-bola siopao hong-kong style…BTW, their food is greatest when you add some of their chili sauce + calamansi & soy sauce = yummy!

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Le Ching Tea House
66-67 Level A, Shoppesville Arcade
Greenhills, San Juan City, Metro Manila

18
Feb
09

I’LL STOP d WORLD & MELT with U

We’re still on HIGH with our experience last Saturday at the 14th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta which I also blogged here recently complete with our own photos taken at the site itself. It was really awesome to see those amazingly beautiful balloons so close being blown one by one by the wind in the clear blue skies of Pampanga on a Valentine’s day no-less. Our fascination lead us ( I, Tina & even Gabby) to surf for these photos from www and found ourselves going loco after these colorful uniquely shaped hot air balloons… looking at these pictures taken abroad is never different with eating your favorite flavor of ice cream…. see if you can resist the child in you…

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18
Feb
09

TGI FRIDAY’S KIDDIE LEAGUE

We revisited TGI Fridays at Trinoma last Sunday, Feb15 for quick lunch before hitting the grocery in Landmark. It was our 4th time to eat in TGIF, Trinoma; also had previous visits in their Glorietta3 branch. The one in Trinoma is more spacious and has more modern interiors, their tables don’t have the usual red & white striped mantles seen in other branches.

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I so like the walls!
… wish I had these walls in my room when I was a kid… Look at those snow ski boards made in Spain, a skateboard & a blue bike, traffic sign boards among other interesting things. How cool is that?!

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Tina ordered Tortilla crusted fish and requested for honey mustard dip…

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while I decided to eat sizzling chicken and shrimp in mozzarella cheese that was served with 2 scoops of creamy mashed potatoes… sinfully delicious!

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Our visit became more special when we enlisted Gabby in TGI Friday’s Trinoma Kiddie League after we were invited by the staff. As a member of TGIF kiddie league, Gabby will get the following perks as stated on their temporary membership card:

1. Free Kiddie Meal & drink every visit for 1 year (wow!!!)
2. Free Birthday Package good for 30 kids with PhP 1,000 accumulated receipts within 1 month after card
issuance (the bday package for 30 kids is only offered as delivery within Quezon City; good enough!).
3. to attend a KICK-OFF PARTY with other members as an official launching of the league; ID will be issued.
4. Restrictions : Only valid at TGIF Trinoma, Non-transferrable, must be presented upon dine-in.

As I fill out the form for my son, I found out that almost all members of the Kiddie League are studying in reputable schools which I think will give Gabby MORE oppotunitieS to interact with cultured kids, get social exposures and be engaged with fun-filled activities which are all essentials in growing up.

Wish they also have FREEBIES for parents, hehehe =)

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T.G.I. Friday’s Trinoma Kiddie League Membership : PhP 500.
For querries, please contact TGIF Trinoma General Manager @ 0917-5092601.

T.G.I. Friday’s Trinoma Bistro Americano Corp.,
Space 4009 Level M4, Trinoma, North Avenue corner EDSA,
Pag-asa, Quezon City.
Tel # 943-2163.

16
Feb
09

FONTANA!

It was good that everyone in our family was off from work last Friday, 13Feb., so we all geared up for another worry-free weekend escapade. We were just at the Island Cove a week prior to our Fontana trip and as early as now, my mom is planning again to spend our Sunday next week out of town for another family gateaway. These are indeed a whole lot of blessings!

Around 9 in the morning last Friday, I bought Krispy Kreme doughnuts in a limited edition tin can for Tina. She liked it so much, the doughnuts ofcourse and the tin can for she is a collector of those types; even took a photo before she shared it with our family.

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I & my wife Tina with our son Gabby were fetched by our whole family in a van to go to Clark Freeport, Pampanga and have an overnight stay at a villa in Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino. It was my first time in Fontana so I get extra excited to explore it and experience the fun of being with them again. My parents had been there already but that was almost a decade ago so they decided to go back and bring us there primarily to attend the 14th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta held annually (thanks to Capt. Joy Roa, organizer, host of a travel show Asian Air Safari at ANC which Tina & I like watching) usually every 2nd week of February so it falls on Valentine’s day. What a way to celebrate the day of hearts with everything that flies! (see my earlier blog about Hot Air Balloon Fiesta).

We joined our family at around 11AM, hit North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and had quick lunch at our kids’ favorite fastfood : Jollibee. After munching on some chickenjoy & burgers, we headed straight to Fontana. Fontana is a 300 hectare leisure park located 80 km north of Manila. It’s a leisure park with villas where guests/members can enjoy amenities of homes; it also has a golf course, a water park, a casino and a lot more. We arrived at the reception area at around 2PM in time for the check-in sched. We were given villa # 4901 about 2 blocks from the main gate.

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Gabby at the reception hall…

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With his cousins : Kelly & KC…

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Each villas in Fontana Leisure Park consists of 3 bedrooms with twin beds, 3 toilets & shower rooms, a comfortable living room with cable-ready TV, kitchen with fridge, sink with hot & cold water, and a dining area. It was comfortable enough, just like home away from home… Here’s a peak at our villa and its amenities…

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After we checked in at our villa, we decided to have an early dinner and as we went out of our rooms, we
spotted a karitela a.k.a kalesa (horse-driven carriage) with white horse…my brother who’s actually a private aviator didn’t hide his excitement riding it and posing for the cam…

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We hopped to our van and asked our driver to look for a chapel or a church first before we eat dinner for us to make 3 wishes.. We found Our Lady of Remedies Chapel near Fontana; were impressed with the serenity of the area and reminded me of churches’ structures abroad. (Clarkfield was a former US Air force base)

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After seeing colorful hot air balloons took their flights in the clear Pampanga skies, we trooped to Fontana Water Park…

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Fountains at the water factory inside water park…

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The fontana water park WAVE POOL…

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The blogger striking a pose for whatever…

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Till our next trip!

15
Feb
09

TASTING the WORLD @ CIRCLES!

My wife, Tina prefers dining somewhere rather than receiving flowers or anything mushy from her ex-boyfriend, ehem, that’s me, her husband for five years now :D  We don’t usually go out on a date during Valentine’s ever since, not only because she dislikes the part, but I, too don’t give in to cupid’s requests for it’s just too traffic everywhere when it’s hearts’ day.

But this year, we decided to celebrate it a couple of days earlier; not with flowers, neither a movie-date but with most interesting thing that we do as a couple, and that is enjoying good food and savoring best dining experience. It need not to be expensive, but for the ocassion, I went out my way to plan ahead for the budget was quite steep compared to our usual eat-outs.

We went to CIRCLES EVENTS CAFE in Makati Shangri-la with our four-year-old son, Gabby. I must say, I surrendered to the fact that CIRCLES offers one of the best, if not the BEST open-kitchen-hotel-buffets here in Manila. It’s comparable to buffets in hotels abroad. I remember the buffets in hotels in Vegas that I had with my family several years back. Circles buffet is similar to those, or perhaps even better. One can truly TASTE THE WORLD at CIRCLES for its varied international cuisines. There were Asian- Chinese, Japanese, Filipino stretch, there’s also Mediterranean food section, American and ofcourse the sweetest section is left for the gustatory cravings.

The price of PhP 1,639.40 net per pax is a bit expensive, but it’s reasonable in Circles! I’m not a culinary or a food expert, but I did appreciate how a dish in every stations at Circles buffet had been prepared with so much effort to stimulate not only the palate but the eyes as well.

I ran out of superlatives to describe how delicious the buffet in Circles is. It’s simply superb! Highly recommended! I’m just so glad that Tina & Gabby liked it too.

Here are the photos of our gluttonous romantic early valentine’s date that we enjoyed to the fullest and we can’t resist but to plan for our next visit…c”,)

The lobby of Makati Shangri-la Hotel…

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My son Gabby, who at the age of four, dreams of becoming a chef, as he sometimes watches Iron Chef on cable, now begins his exposure to the art of cooking and sublime dining…

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The signage of SINFULLY CIRCLES bakeshop & patisserie at the entrance of CIRCLE EVENT CAFE…

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Now, the food stations. Beginning with CHINESE CUISINE… dimsum, dumplings steamed or fried, cooked to perfection! Simply divine…

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JAPANESE section offers freshly prepared seafoods – from steamed lobster & tiger prawns, seasoned huge mussels, oysters to maki, sushi, sashimi and other jap rolls…appetizingly delicious!

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the MEDITERRANEAN food section…

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Care for some CHICKEN SHAWARMA? Freshly made by the Persian chef as you make your request…

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A portion of CIRCLES EVENT CAFE’s CARVING STATION…tender every bite…

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The most attractive section of the buffet… Make sure there’s still a gastric room for most of these treats…SWEETEST TO NONE!

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Don’t they look heavenly? CAKES were refilled swiftly by efficient and friendly staff…

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CHOCOLATE FONDUE…

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Now, these were our plates…

Tomato soup : creamy!

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My first plate : fresh cold salad, bread and butter…

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My chinese-asian platter : steamed sea bass, fried chicken dumpling, vegetable/kuchay dumpling, ebi tempura, pork siomai …

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Tina’s Asian plate : tiger prawns and lobster, dumplings and Japanese rolls…

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my seafood and jap preference… i so like the plate! The mussels are to die-for! I just can’t explain its herb-seasoned taste, simply superb!

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my attempt to try Mediterranean dishes : chicken shawarma, mutter paneer, naan, roti chanai, and there was also chicken kadai… spicy curries galore!

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while Tina opted to mix Persian shawarma and American beef steak and veggies…

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Now, let me show you the best part of our dinner : DESSERTS!

This was my first platter of sweetest things from Circles.
Makes me salivate and gives me reason to forget hassles,worries,whathaveyou…sigh ^_^

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Tina’s desserts…

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We tried to be subtle for the camera first, resisting the immediate sweet temptations for few seconds…

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Can’t get enough of those sweets…

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while Gabby was content with those sweet treats…

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Before asking for the bill, we requested a waiter to take a shot for us…

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We didn’t get to taste pizza, pasta, and other dishes for we were full already. It will give us reason to go back and experience again the joy of dining at Circles Event Cafe…
It was one of those few shared moments when eating was never a necessity but a pleasure!

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What made our Valentine’s this year extra-special was the fact that we are complete and happy.

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I SO LOVE YOU ITY & GABBY !!!

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14
Feb
09

LOBO : UP, UP & AWAY!

It’s not often that we see an elephant, a coca-cola bottle, and a red mug of cappuccino FLY high in the sky…img_3952But we certainly did when we attended the 14th HOT AIR BALLOON FIESTA at Clark field, Pampanga.  It’s an annual festivities of EVERYTHING that FLIES!   Made me want to hum, “Up, up & away on my beautiful balloon…” lol. :D

logoMy entire family had an overnight stay at one of the villas of Fontana Leisure Park a day prior to the fiesta and made sure that we’re at the venue before those colorful hot air balloons take their flights.   We all got up from bed at around 3:00AM, reached the venue from our villa in Fontana at around 5AM, then saw the preparation of the participating countries in this one big balloon fiesta!  We trooped to the site on its 3rd day (the fiesta started 12 February 2009)  at dusk and saw how those lovely balloons in their flat linens forms until they were graciously inflated. We had our breakfast of rice & spicy barbecue on location few minutes before the 1st flying object was seen on air.  I, for one, did not contain my excitement to experience such for the first time.  It was really a FUN experience! An unforgettable way to celebrate the day of hearts with my whole family…

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This is my son Gabby who was also in awe when we had that extraordinary, really amazing weekend…

The event started with a national anthem and an aerobatic performance with the national colors descent from heavens…

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Then one by one, we gladly witnessed those colorful balloons flew to the skies.  It was an awesome sight!

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Isn’t it obvious that this balloon became my favorite; such a burst of colors in the air!

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And there was also that flying cereals : Kellogs!

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Of course, my wife Tina & our little valentine GABBY are still lovelier than those balloons…

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A red cappuccino mug-balloon that came from New Zealand caught our interest  for 2 reasons :  we’ve been to Auckland back in 2005 for 7 week-vacation and has been missing it now, and Tina and I are both coffee-addicts! 

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Even a yellow phone booth managed to fly up in the air…

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Goofing about a yellow flying phone booth…

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There were also mascots to entertain kids and the kids at heart…

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Celebrating HEARTS’ DAY IN STYLE!

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Despite the fact that we barely slept for this event and the long travel that we took  just to be there;  it was all worth it!  :)  We enjoyed every minute we spent watching those balloons fly!  It was all pure FUN! :)   

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Till our next bonding moment…:)

12
Feb
09

GREY’SFUL EXIT

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There’s something about Grey’s Anatomy that’s addicting. It must be Ellen Pompeo’s eyes or (her character) Meredith’s quotes narrated at every start and end of each episode. It can also be due to Grey’s promiscuity or the drama itself behind a doctor’s profession. There may be few deviations on the medical & scientific aspects in the plot but I guess that’s part of entertainment. Bottomline is, I still like it. There was a time that I & my wife had a marathon of watching TV-series on DVD not only Grey’s Anatomy but our other favorites – Lost and Prison Break, until wee hours of the morning.

I was a bit surprised after reading a yahoo news a couple of days ago that T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl will soon exit the show for undisclosed reasons. The two play main characters of Dr. George O’malley and Dr. Isobel “Izzie” Stevens. The news came from their co-star James Pickens Jr. who plays Dr. Richard Webber or the “Chief” of Seattle Grace Hospital in the show. It would be a major revision on the story line
once these 2 important casts leave the show. Will they also transfer to another ABC series, Private Practice, which is an apparent spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy where Kate Walsh also plays the same character of Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery; remains to be seen on the next TV watching…

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Photos sourced from :

http://abc.go.com/primetime/greysanatomy

11
Feb
09

COLOR ME NORI

It was the schedule for us to claim our personally painted ceramic now glazed after 10 days at Color Me Mine in Shangri-la mall. As we were amazed how our own ceramic art of a small candle holder was turned into a little masterpiece after being subjected to an oven kiln and glazing, we decided again to paint another ceramic; this time a cross between a bowl and a plate, and sat for more than 3 hours doing color application with brushes. Here are photos of our 2nd attempt at being “pottery-inclined artists”…

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We’ll get the glazed and baked finished product on February 21st, and I’ll try to post here the difference of before-and-after thing…For now, here’s the BEFORE photo…

That was Gabby’s right hand imprint…

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Just prior to enjoying another ceramic painting, I brought Tina and Gabby to Sumo Sam japanese restaurant at the 6th level of Shangri-la mall for an early dinner. It was our 3rd time to eat there but nothing has changed since the 1st. What disappointed me was that I expected change of something from the menu, perhaps with the price to no avail. Or was it a plain and simple consequence for being headstrong to something?

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Taste of the food was really OK except that I think the menu was atrociously expensive compared to others which serve similar plates. I guess most who have tried dining at Sumo Sam will agree that other jap resto is far comparable but this one’s quite pricey. We haven’t tried eating at John and Yoko at Greenbelt 5, it’s Sumo Sam’s sister company for it’s also partly-owned by Marvin Agustin (yup, Jolina’s former reel partner). Do we have enough reasons to try it one day? Will it be any different from Sumo Sam ? Or only an upscale version? Anyway, here are what we munched at Sumo Sam, Shangri-la mall…

California rolls : yummy with kani shreds but pricey at PhP 218.

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Seafood Omelet Rice : I so like jap rice but Sumo Sam’s costly at PhP 228.

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Chicken Teriyaki : tender yes, but limited slices at PhP 228.

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Green Iced Teas; bottomless at PhP 98 each. (heard that John & Yoko’s has also a BLUE ICED TEA)…

And a generous scoop of Ube Ice Cream requested by Gabby; served with cherry & whipped cream of which price was nearly a pint at PhP 88.

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So will you try to bring yourself to Sumo Sam just as I did, Not twice but thrice?!!!
On the second thought…

11
Feb
09

BLUE WHALE !

Nope, this is neither the biggest marine mammal nor something about the ocean but a restaurant and a party place at Fun Ranch, in Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave, Pasig City. Fun Ranch is a place where everything is for kids and kids-at-heart. We’ve been to Fun Ranch before but haven’t explored its entirety. One of the restaurants within Fun Ranch is Blue Whale Grill. Beside Blue Whale is Ark Avilon where we enjoyed having close encounter with zoo animals before.

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My son Gabby and my niece KC…

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We experienced dining at Blue Whale last Sunday, February 08 when we attended a family friend/colleague’s son’s 1st birthday party. Kevin, the celebrator, was in a BEE costume since it’s his 1st BEE-DAY (B-day, get it?!) His parents and family members wore the same hues – black and yellow.
Balloons and giveaways were also of the same shade. And it was cute!

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The party was awesome. It featured kiddie games, acrobatic and magic acts, face-painting, carts of bottomless iced teas, cotton candy and different flavors of ice cream that served as “appetizers” to the main entrees. Just before lunch time, we were asked to queue in the buffet; one on the 1st level of Blue Whale & another at its second floor. Party yummies included ebi tempura, calamares, chicken teriyaki, burger steak and ofcourse, spaghetti.

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We chose to bring our plates outside the restaurant and tried dining at floating huts (again!) this time not on bamboo stilts but on plastic drums in a man-made mini-lake complete with water lilies. And on its other side were bumper boats to ride & enjoy. How cool was that?!

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BLUE WHALE @ FUN RANCH
Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave, Pasig City
(63-2) 706-3029

http://funranch.com.ph

11
Feb
09

PIG-OUT FAVORITE

FOOD TRIP = satisfying your taste bud’s cravings for affordable/reasonable yummies.

Dad’s Ultimate Buffet with Saisaki & Kamayan in Glorietta is one of our favorites in casual dining. It serves a long stretch of food items from Western, Japanese and Filipino specialties. We’ve tried their other branches but it’s the one in Glorietta that we’re a usual patrons because of it’s diner-friendly simple arrangement of what to eat. I, Tina and Gabby usually dine here whenever our domestic budget allows it to satisfy our gastronomic cravings. We’ve completed already a frequent-diner’s promo card that offered a FREE ADULT-PLATE after 10 validations regardless of number of visits (1 validation = 1 adult buffet plate). Each CROSS-OVER (Ultimate) BUFFET PLATE costs PhP 500 plus tax inclusive & for kid’s buffet plate PhP 200 plus also tax inclusive. Their Merienda Buffet from 2PM to before 6PM price is at PhP 139 plus.

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Here’s a list of my favorites :

Dad’s :
1. Lengua. very tender and the mushroom sauce is simply delicious.
2. Assorted seafood kebab in pesto. 2 of my favorites : pesto & shrimps in one dish!
3. Garlic mushroom. an always good appetizer.
4. Salads : potato, fruit, ceasar’s, apple & walnut.
5. Pasta
6. Nachos & dips.
7. Carving station : ham, turkey, roast beef with gravy/sauces.

Saisaki :
8. California maki
9. Tamago maki
10. Ebi tempura. lots of it..sinfully delicious!
11. Kani tempura. my son Gabby’s favorite!
12. Japanese rice.
13. Grilled pork in bacon wrap.
14. Cakes & pastries : blueberry cheesecake, creme brulee, creme puffs, chocolate cakes are a must-try.
15. Ice cream : vanilla, mocha, chocolate, strawberry.
16. FRUITS : watermelon, pineapple slices to aid in digestion as we pig-out

Kamayan :
17. Assorted seafod cream-based soup.
18. Bibingka. melts in your mouth, served hot with muscovado sugar, margarine & coconut shavings.
19. Crispy fried kang-kong with mayo dip.
20. Embotido.
21. Sisig.
22. Kare-kare.
23. Halo-halo.
24. LECHON !!! with their hot sweet & spicy gravy.
25. Buko-pandan
26. Maja

I just wish I can have a larger stomach-capacity to try these yummies every visit (GLUTTON’S WISH!).

10
Feb
09

BELLINI’S !

Last Friday, I and my wife, Tina decided to have dinner after work to finally try Bellini’s. This restaurant located in the subdued area of Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao, Quezon City offers great authentic italian foods. One will disregard the location and the how-to-get-there once he/she gets to experience the reasons why Bellini’s is a word-of-mouth when it comes to sublime italian dining experience.

We’re both familiar with the resto since we already heard & read reviews about it, even watched a local movie shown in cable TV shot in Bellini’s itself.

Bellini’s ambience is really inviting and very homey. It has cozy interiors with murals and art works of what makes Italy and its key cities popular. And because the owner Mr. Roberto Bellini, married to a Filipina Ms. Maria Luisa, was a former Italian paparrazzo, most of his precious photos from his work are displayed on the walls which makes the place more interesting. I guess courtesy is the second skin of Bellini’s waiters for they have ready smiles to greet diners and very polite when taking orders and answering our querries.

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We ordered a pasta called Bucatini all’Amatriciana, Bellini’s special pizza and 2 glasses of house iced tea. Tasting Bucatini all’Amatriciana was heavenly! I’m a fan of freshly cooked tomatoes and having it on thick strands of pasta was really something! The pizza was equally superb; its very thin crust and generous toppings made it really special. There was one funny moment when that Bellini’s special pizza was served to our table. The waiter also gave a medium-sized flask-like bottle of transparent semi-thick liquid with capsicum. Tina was clueless of what it was, so she asked the waiter if it was a bottle of vinegar and the server informed her that it’s a bottle of olive oil with capsicum - the Italian way of making pizza spicier. We were laughing at the moment and the waiter just commented that it happens all the time.  We’re both familiar with only tabasco or any bottled hot sauce or something in sachets.  Now we know more. LOL !

free breadsticks, house iced tea (PhP 50 each)…

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Bucatini all’Amatriciana (PhP 250)…

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Bellini’s Special Pizza (PhP 280)…

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 We’ll surely be back in Bellini’s to try other food on the menu.

Note : the photos were blurry because we only used a mobile phone in taking pictures.

Bellini’s Italian Fast Food & Restaurant
Stall 68-69 Marikina Shoe Expo,
Gen. Romulo Ave., Cubao, Quezon City
Tel : (63-2) 913-2550
(do i get a discount on this, Mr. Roberto Bellini ?)

10
Feb
09

OUR ISLAND COVE ADVENTURE

It’s natural for mothers to constantly make efforts for family bonding. And my mom is no exception. She usually schedules trips, eat-outs or anything for us to do or to go somewhere and enjoy. On the same month of last year, she booked a hotel accomodation for 3 days and scheduled a trip to Baguio for us to experience Panagbenga Flower festival. This year, we agreed to go to Island Cove Hotel & Leisure Park in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite; a small town of about an hour drive from Manila (less the traffic). My parents went there 2 weeks ago to celebrate the anniversary of their elopement. We saw their photos taken from their overnight stay and did not expect that our whole family will be there 2 weeks after.

Last Saturday, February 07, we were fetched before 5AM to catch the buffet breakfast at Something Fishy at Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City. The buffet breakfast is offered from 12MN to 10AM daily at PhP 114 pax exclusive of drinks; reasonable price for a wide variety of breakfast yummies. It’s a favorite not only of families but most employees usually call center agents around the area. Something fishy’s buffet breakfast includes arroz caldo, mami, sausages, mini pancakes, beef tapa, boiled and fried rice, fried scrambled eggs, palabok (local pasta with rice-based sauce), pancit canton (chinese noodle), tinapang bangus (smoked dried milkfish), adobong manok, kakanin (rice cakes) like bibingka, biko or some call it sinok-mani, and maja and others.

As we were escorted by the staff to our reserved seats for 11 adults and 4 kids, my brother’s fiancee’s eyes quickly spotted Sam Milby as he dines with his friends. And before he went out of the resto, my mom, as candid as always did not miss the chance and asked for a souvenir shot from Sam with my son Gabby and niece Kelly who are frequent viewers of his teleseryes. One of Sam’s friends was nice to volunteer to take the picture for them.

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After Eastwood City we headed straight to Kawit, Cavite where Island Cove is located. It’s a leisure park stretched in a 36-hectare island with swimming pools, animal land that includes an aviary, a butterfly house, a monkey & aligator farm, recreational facilities for badminton, volleyball, basketball, tennis, billiards and even a gym. It also has function rooms, bars where concerts are held, a spa, playground for kids, and a 96-room hotel other than the 17 cottages where one can relax. I also found out recently from a broadsheet article that the managing director of this tourism spot is the TV celebrity & former Congressman Gilbert Remulla. No wonder Island Cove is apparently well maintained to be a place where one can commune with nature.

I was so impressed with the cleanliness & availability of facilities; never expect to find electric sockets even in cottages & huts to plug in mobile phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets. Island Cove is also a wi-fi area so I got to check my e-mails and did some updates on my social networks. My favorite part of Island Cove is the Fishing Village where we had our lunch in a hut on stilts, enjoyed the sea breeze, while being serenaded by roving local string band and singers. Those dining and resting areas on huts on stilts are the best part of Island Cove where one can feast on Filipino food and get to breathe fresh air and think of nothing but enjoy nature. It’s really a relaxing sanctuary. I really appreciate that I had a chance to forget my worries at least for a day when we were there. You have to experience it, or at least, enjoy first my photos here…

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I tried feeding the ostrich myself with leaves I found on the ground…just for a photo-op of a kid-at-heart

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Ostrich remains to be the biggest flightless bird and probably with the biggest avian egg as well…

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My 4-year-old son Gabby & his 7-year-old cousin KC : who’s taller err, longer than crocs & ostrich ?

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And here’s the ultimate gateway to relaxing dining experience : the entrance to the Fishing Village…

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That’s our hut #20 on stilts ….

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What’s a Fishing Village without trying to catch something to grill or fry; but luck was not on our side…

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Gabby with his Lolo Ben (my dad) did some fishing…

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Three generations of fishermen-wannabe…

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Staff of Fishing Village doing the fish bait made from flour & water as a substitute to an actual fish feeds…

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Another sight to behold : Fishing Village’s menu…

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Here’s a peek at what we had for a family feast…

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Post-prandial smiles… perfect kodak moments (LOL !)

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My son, nephew and nieces enjoyed the swimming pools with clean and impressive facilities of Oceania Water Park within Island Cove. Swimming or not, one has to pay the entrance fee of PHP250 which includes the entrance to animal land and aviary etc.

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Proof that amenities & facilities are available in Island Cove…

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We left Island Cove at around 4PM and decided to take merienda at Digman in Bacoor, Cavite on the way back to Manila. Digman Halo-halo with sandosenang halo originated in Cavite before they branched out to SM malls nationwide.

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05
Feb
09

NURSING in USA: RECESSION-RESISTANT

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According to an article in yahoo news, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) approximates 3 out of 10 jobs by year 2016 in the US will be on
teaching & health care.
And here are the AVERAGE YEARLY WAGES of the 6 hottest US occupations which are recession-free based on 2007 census :

Registered Nurses….$62,480 per annum
Health Care technicians………$31,450
Computer Information Scientist….$100,000
Computer System Analyst……$75,890
Employment Recruiter & Placement Specialist……$50,000
Special Education Teacher….$50,000

Nurses, here’s the big reason for you not to waste time but to review and take up NCLEX-RN / CGFNS / IELTS; the basic requirements to land a nursing career in the land where CHANGES & HOPE personified by Barack Obama offer a great opportunity towards a secured future.

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Visit http://www.allgen.net for more details of Allgen the Intelligent Review.

05
Feb
09

mi piaci CIBO

It’s very comforting to eat food served with so much preparation & distinctly good taste. Other than chinese food, I & Tina also love italian, or at least for me – perhaps anything with tomatoes, cheese or pesto. I suddenly miss eating at Cibo after swinging into a blog called our awesome planet. We’ve tried Cibo’s branches at Shangri-la, Gateway & Trinoma malls and at ABS-CBN’s ELJ bldg. Although they serve the same menu, if my observation is right, no Cibo branch looks the same but all Cibo interiors are very contemporary which make dining experience more interesting & remarakable. Before having another plate at Cibo, I decided to repost photos of our favorites from the menu…

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03
Feb
09

ANOTHER YEAR

l41102731708_8718 I simply hate local politics and it has been a while since I last appreciate a news item on TV. But this morning is different. I woke up learning from a local news that cabinet members of the Philippine government axed the five-year-in-college proposal applicable to most courses even to non-registration or non-boards courses.

Adding up another year in college would only give parents an additional financial burden. Money isn’t only the issue but time. The proposal would delay the opportunity of a potential graduate to earn soon.

What the government officials should do is to set aside politics and do something to alleviate the intellectual poverty level of Filipinos. Focusing on programs to improve quality of basic education and learning system is more important than prolonging the collegiate calendar. Giving importance to teachers’ efforts by increasing their salaries would give them more reasons to think that their dedication to their profession is still worth it. I think it’s so unfair that call center agents here in Manila get higher monthly rates compared to a professional teacher. It’s high time to be logical.

03
Feb
09

CAN’T WE LIVE WITHOUT A WATER DIPPER ?

heater1The news about a Filipino machine operator in an engineering firm in Australia who was initially kicked out from his post created a stir. The issue : the 43-year-old Pinoy was seen last week by his foreman carrying a bottle of water to cleanse himself after an essential call of nature instead of using toilet papers. The news was written on papers and on the net and was shown here on TV Patrol World few nights ago. According to the engineering firm’s manager, the Pinoy employee should practice what Aussies do during toiletry visits in order not to impose serious health risks to others as he may leave toilet floor & cubicle splashed with contaminated water if he insist on his hygiene practice. Last thing I heard about it, the Pinoy received a letter from his company requiring him to go back to his work; Im not sure if it was a demand letter or a written apology.

Is there a need for a written/public apology from the company that prohibits someone from bringing TABO to the toilet? Was there really a violation or invasion of human rights & cultural beliefs? Should local activists be concerned with this more than other issues?

When in Rome, do what Romans do. True, we have to adapt to our environment but doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves to be dictated by other practices or submit to change our personal preferences.

I can surely live without a tabo..If I am in the shoes of Bernabe who was already warned about his toilet practice before the brouhaha about his issue, being a law abiding dude, I’ll be more than happy to comply with the company’s policy. Anyway alcohol-free baby wipes are more hygienic than tabo during you-know-when.. But not to be so primitive, i guess for other Pinoys, life is more comfortable with it. c”,)

02
Feb
09

first try at MONGKOK and CERAMIC PAINTING

It was unplanned but we surely enjoyed it.

Tina, Gabby & I went to Megamall last Sunday just to pick up the package from my 22-year-old sister-in-law based in San Leandro, California which she sent via her friend who went home to Manila for a reason. We got the package of branded shirts -Gap & Lacoste for my son Gabby and Lancome makeup & kit for my wife Tina at little past 11AM. Then we decided to go to Shangri-la mall for our lunch. Initially, I’d like to treat my family to Pepper Lunch at the basement of the mall but found long queue of hungry stomachs so we opted to eat somewherelse. We found our seats at Mongkok dimsum & dumplings at 6th level of Shangri-la mall. It was our first time to taste Kuchay dumplings and we like it!

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After enjoying another chinese eat-out, our feet brought us to a lower level where a ceramic shop called Color Me Mine is located. Few seconds after and we’re seated at a table of that shop painting a ceramic candle holder that we selected from their shelves.

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It was so cool! It was not only Gabby who had fun, but we all did. I haven’t done any art work since God knows when. (Believe or not, I used to collect medals from poster-making contests back in High School) And it was so RELAXING to enjoy selecting colors, doing paint-stencils in between, and just having bonding with my wife & kid.

One of the staff of Color Me Mine-Shangri-la was accomodating to my querries about the process that the ceramic art work will undergo after being painted by their clients. Customers will paint a ceramic of choice (price range from PHP300 plus up) with unlimited colors (for only PHP 180). The fee is inclusive of the unlimited (?)hour of stay (we stayed for more than 3 hours), paint, materials such as brushes, bowl of water, sponge, use of electric hair dryer and for the process that takes 10 days to complete after painted ceramic has been submitted to them. Once painting is finished, client submits it to the counter, pays fees and wait for 10 days before he can claim the art work. The 10-day waiting period is for the staff to glaze and bake the painted ceramic that will make it look as the client’s own ceramic masterpiece.
Claiming it on a specified date gives as another reason to try painting new ceramic(s) and enjoy another fun-filled art activity with my family.

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Color Me Mine, franchise holder of a US-based company, has branches at Trinoma in Quezon City, Greenbelt-3 in Makati and Bonifacio High St. at the Fort both inside Hobbes, but the largest inventory is still at Shangri-la. Call 6870801 for information.

02
Feb
09

SWEET TEMPTATION

Last week when I was at a mall checking out what’s new on the rack and some items on sale, I suddenly heard my name inside the Nike store being called by someone who knows me for sure. He was a colleague at the public tertiary hospital where we had our medical internship almost a decade ago. When I was still browsing my deepest memory to recall his name, he told me that he is also a licensed doctor (but) now-turned policeman and serves one of the major medical facilities for Filipino police force.
Considering that we’re only mere acquaintance, he was so tactless to comment on my apparent weight gain. Ok, I admit that I look a lot diffent now, perhaps more like a dad as I am already a father to my 4-year-old son, more mature compared to the lanky twenty-something of my old self but hey, I am far from being morbidly obese, for heaven’s sake. I think it’s so inappropriate & improper to say something negative to someone you’re not so close with, or even honesty requires utmost sensitivity. Or am I only freaking out about the naked truth?

I went home from that brief encounter with the not-so-tactful colleague and pondered on his comment. Do people need to reduce weight to impress others or do it for health reasons and self-esteem? Ofcourse nothing is debatable on this issue, it’s for the second reason hands down. But on the edge of planning to be compliant to what I preach to my nursing students & reviewees about weight management & risks of being obese, I saw the huge round tin can of CADBURY ROSES which is a variety of flavored milk chocolates given to me by my wife’s aunt based in UK as her gratis after I prescribed her maintenance drugs.
Such a sweet temptation hard to resist. Resistance is truly futile!

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