Archive for January, 2011

31
Jan
11

IT’S LOVE MONTH AGAIN!

For hopeless romantic people like, ehem, I am, Valentine’s Day on the 14th of February is such an occasion not to be missed.

Last year, I remember I took my wife, Tina and our kid, Gabby to a movie, dined in one of our favorites, and I never failed to give her a bunch of 3 roses of course (Click this for the blog post).

Valentine's Day 2010 : Early Dinner at CIBO, date-movie and a bunch of roses!

Apparently, flowers are synonymous with expression of our love to our special someone. And when it comes to love, boundaries and limitations are often times meaningless, if not, taken for granted. Not even distance can hinder how one can show his affection and care to his dearly beloved.

This year, because I am thousand miles away from Tina on V-Day, I thought of sending her a bunch of  red roses via online purchase with FREE delivery. Knowing my wife that she would not appreciate expensive gifts particularly from me, the offerings from this online gift shop called www.IslandRose.net perfectly fit what most people like me (and my wife) look for in almost anything : quality and practicality.

I did the online purchase of 3 stem red rose from www.IslandRose.net with only few clicks! It’s easier than munching and finishing a bag of your favorite chips!

Here’s how:

1. Go to www.IslandRose.net website

and sign up for an Island Rose Peso Rewards Club.

 Fill out the Sender and Recipient’s data…

2.  Click on the “Buy Now” on any of the 3-stem (red or white) Love Note under Bouquets.

3.  After completing the order, complete with personal message to your love one, click on the checkout button. Check the summary of order.

4.  Finish the order by putting the credit card details and tapping the “Continue” button.

Disregarding doing reservation and buying airfares, it was my first time to do an online purchase and it was such a hassle-free!

Incidentally, Awesome.ph in coordination with Island Rose is offering those 3 stem rose (red or white) with note with FREE delivery anywhere in the Philippines at 52% off (from P643 to P309). Now that’s a steal!  Other beautiful Valentine’s Day gifts are also available at www.IslandRose.net.

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Visit Awesome.ph and  www.IslandRose.net for more details.

30
Jan
11

AMANDA

“It is never too late to begin. Remember that you always wanted to play the piano, paint, write poetry, start a journal, read that challenging book, begin stargazing, learn a little Spanish, take up yoga or qigong, build something special. There will never be a better day to begin than today. Just do it.” –Jonathan Lockwood Huie

At 34, I know it’s never that late to learn new things and pursue other fields of fascination.

I never thought that homesickness and boredom out of living and working abroad would lead me to do things I wanted to do since God knows when.

This beautiful sunny Sunday morning, I went to Jalan Raja Uda in Butterworth, a 5-minute-bus-ride and a 10-minute walk from our place in Taman Robina.

The Chinese owner of the music school and her receptionist were both amazed that I came on the dot at 9AM as I have committed over the phone yesterday.

I cannot hide my excitement to meet her; that’s why! :D I cannot wait to take her home!  My wife, Tina already gave her nod for me to have an affair with my new love.

Meet Amanda, my new love…

Isn’t she gorgeous?  I just hope she’ll love me back! *wink*

She’s brand new; they ordered for me from their supplier and did not come from their display…

I scouted a music store in a mall yesterday and also google the web to compare prices, the cost is still cheaper and more affordable in music school.  

I will join 3 other MD-lecturer-colleagues in a beginner class for violin on 09 February when the music school reopens after the long Chinese New Year holiday here in Penang (CNY celebration starts Feb 3-4-5-6) and every Wednesdays at 6:30PM (after our office hours end at 5PM) thereafter.  Our class is scheduled an hour per week; 30-min theoretical, 30-min practicals.

Like a kid who wanted to explore and try new things, I am extremely excited to learn the basics of violin.  Little by little, I believe I can pull it off, who knows, after few months time, I’ll be able to play The Corrs’ Runaway and other beautiful music that Amanda and I will enjoy.

I’ll keep you posted. 

Do you know how to play any musical instrument?

For anyone who knows how to play this string instrument, would you mind giving me some tips and pieces of advice about its care, and whatnot?  Do you have any songs to suggest for me to play someday soon? *naks!* :D

Enjoy your new week, everyone!

—————————————–o

AKADEMI MUZIC NEE.  13 Tkt Mawar, Taman Mawar, Jalan Raja Uda, 12300 Butterworth, Seberang Prai, Pulau Pinang, West Malaysia. It’s only right across my senior colleagues’ place, Kondominium Cassia Their website here –> CLICK!

PS : I’m planning to enrol my son, Gabby to play+learn any musical instrument of his choice after he arrives here in Penang on late March with his mom.  It’s nice if we can play the violin together but when I asked him on Skype last week, he prefers piano at this early.  We’ll see.

28
Jan
11

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Last year, I celebrated Chinese New Year here…

I strolled this charming street of Manila called  Binondo with a bunch of fellow bloggers; was my first time to appreciate dancing lions and dragons with people of common interest.

This year, I am excited to witness how Penang people observe such occasion. And who would not be excited if there will be a very loooooong holiday next week because of the event?

It’s holiday here in Penang on February 3, 4 (Thursday and Friday next week), and of course the fun, definitely will be carried over to the weekend, Feb 5 and 6! *hooray for paid holiday!*

Those dates will be perfect to see cultural shows on the streets and to be delighted with those ornaments of red and gold. Indulging in some dimsums and dumplings would be so apt too for the occasion.

Other than going to Georgetown next week, my colleague-friends and I will try to explore more of Pulau Pinang (Penang Island).  I just wish the weather will continue to cooperate (FYI, we only experience very occasional rains here unlike in Pinas; no storms for the past 6 months here for Malaysia is located outside typhoon-risk areas).

But more than anything, I am looking forward to PAYDAY (we only get our salary every end of the month).

Can’t wait to send remittance to Tina+Gabby.

Do you have plans on celebrating CNY?

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Be blessed and be safe! :D

—————————–O

25
Jan
11

LOOKING AT MY SON’S PHOTO

6 months of homesickness is well worth this short sigh of contentment…

taken at Aquaria, Suria, Kuala Lumpur, Dec 25, 2010

If only I can pull the days to March to be with them again here in Penang, I’ll do it in a heart beat.

25
Jan
11

AS CHEESY AS IT GETS

Call me the biggest cheese ball on the planet, but it’s one of my favorite movies. Not because of anything but the lines on this film cut through me.

And times like this that I am alone in my room and when Skype isn’t enough to melt my homesickness away, surfing the web for quotes of movies and TV series I like might seem torture but surely is one effective way that helps me kill time.  Get it?!  If not, it’s OK! hehe :D

So here’s a couple of those lines from this 1996 movie that I like.

“Hey… I don’t have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I have failed as much as I have succeeded. But I love my life. I love my wife. And I wish you my kind of success.” -Dicky Fox.

“I am out here for you. You don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU.
It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, ok? ” -Jerry Maguire.

Do you like watching movies? I do. I like it better than TV.

What are your favorite films and why?  *sounds like a trivial question*

C’mmon, amuse me!

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!

———————–o

23
Jan
11

THIS ONE’S WONDERFUL!

I never thought blogging can give me so much pleasure. From gaining loyal virtual friends (of whom I met a few already) to receiving comments and opinions on my posts that they generously share, to a few perks of being invited to events, receiving gift certificates and freebies, to earning a few amount from exchange links and whatnot.

Yesterday, I got a go signal from my inbox to claim from any Western Union branch the payment for the little online transaction I engaged into, after someone bought exchange links from my blog.  After which, I went to the mall and grocery to shop for my baon (and a couple of shirts for office!)  to work for the new week. :D

This beautiful Sunday morning, my housemate-friend knocked on my door to give me this…

Now that you know my present address in Penang, you can send in fan mails, pre and post holiday gifts, pasalubong, etc. LOL!

Someone from Burbank, California spent USD 10.31 on postage just to send me a copy of his materpiece of which I have a very little contribution…

Call it trivial but for me this one’s amazing. I have never been so humbled with such appreciation…

A US-based Filipino author emailed me few months ago and asked permission if he can use one of my blog photos in his then soon-to-be-published book…who am I to say no?

This was my photo of Quiapo Church I posted on this entry –>My 15-minutes in Quiapo

With my watermarks and proper credits, my photo of Quiapo Church taken by an old-school digicam landed in Mr. Percival Cruz’s book; I am truly honored!

More credits for the contributors…

May Bagwis Ang Pag-Ibig At Iba Pang Kuwento by Percival Campoamor Cruz and Alberto Segismundo Cruz is available also via Amazon.com; here’s the the link.

To Mr. Cruz, thank you so much, Sir! Good luck on the book and More Power!

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21
Jan
11

THEIR HOME AWAY FROM HOME

I considered myself lucky for working in Penang where diversity of 3 races - Malaysian, Chinese and Indian usually comes with festivities and holidays. Yes, January 20th, Thursday was declared a holiday here for Hindu’s Thaipusam celebration. (Google translate : Ang daming paid holidays!)

My fellow Pinoys here and I heard from our Indian colleagues that thousands usually troop at Hindu temples and venues where Thaipusam festivities are held. So most of us feared to be caught in traffic decided to spend our day off differently.

While most of the Tamil community here observed Penance and prayers by as simple as carrying a pot of milk to as daring as  mortification of the flesh  by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers, I got curious about the ‘homes’ of 2 of our colleagues so I joined our friends in the plan to explore it.

Kondominium Kassia, Butterworth, Penang

The units have 3- 4 bedrooms, with 2 toilet and baths, veranda, washing area, the works!

And if you think our swimming pool in our condo is awesome…

We're at one of the penthouses of Wira Court, Butterworth for more than 6 months now.

think again…This is Kassia’s impressive pool for kids…

and the massive pool for kids at heart both located on the condo’s 2nd floor…

A simple yet inviting gazebo with squirting fountain separates the adult pool from the kiddie…

Don’t you wish to live here?

And look, there are more reasons for kids to love living here…

There are sauna rooms inside shower/toilet rooms too; everything is located just by the pool.

For health buffs,

The cost of rent of 2 of my senior colleagues ranges from RM 800 (or PhP 11,200 unfurnished) and RM 1300 (or PhP 18200 fully furnished with flat screen TV, fridge, washing machine, kitchen and sink, toilets etc). Their rent includes the use of all amenities –swimming pool, the gym, etc and did I already tell you that the place offers free wi-fi too?

More gym equipments that can be use at your most convenient time…

I didn’t take a dip (I don’t like swimming; read: I cannot swim!) but my friends did. According to them the pool’s great but the water’s cold.

That holiday was bitin (we felt short) because it was sandwiched in between 2 working days. Nonetheless, it was a nice day for me to forget boredom and homesickness.

Kondominium Kassia is beautiful, reasonably priced but require a bit of walking to and from the bus stops for most of us who don’t own cars here.

By August, our contract with our own penthouse in Butterworth will expire, and Tina and I are planning to get our own unit at the Island near her future work site and Gabby’s possible school. So help us, God! :D

Other than location, accessibility to everything, comfort of course, what else do you need in an urban living (make that living abroad away from true home)?

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20
Jan
11

SCHOOL IS COOL

I was smiling from ear to ear when I saw these last Saturday…

Too cute for words?

As a father to a preschooler, I cannot help but imagine how those innocent little hands molded these amazing creation. Impressive, isn’t it?

I and my 2 senior colleagues found these stuffs in one corner of the school we visited last weekend.

We were hunting for possible school for our kids here in Penang; for Gabby’s first year in Primary (or Elementary), and Primary and Secondary levels for the children of my colleagues.  (FYI, our son is finishing his last year in Preschool and is about to enter Grade 1).

From our respective places in Butterworth, we took an early bus trip and met up at the ferry waiting area at 8AM. Oh yes,  if you’ve been following this blog for sometime now, you know that we’re now used in crossing the sea via ferry for 12 minutes if we want to have a life go to the island where everything is.

Let’s put it this way –Malls, tons of restaurants, hawkers and eateries, Tina’s future work site and school for kids and other establishments are all located in the Island. So I’m afraid we have to live in the Island after my contract with our condo in Butterworth expires on August. Everything is still on a planning stage and we’re still keeping our options open, hopes sky high! :D

Who would not want his kid to study in this conducive for learning environment?

Because the school is located inside a seminary-retreat house and situated on hilly parts of Tanjung Bungah, it reminds me of Ateneo campus in Quezon City and Calleruega in Tagaytay…

So we inquired about details of intake (enrollment), uniforms, provision of service bus, medium of instruction (English for it’s a private school for foreigners), extracurricular activities (oh there’s a lot –from swimming, table tennis, musical plays, football, camping, family day, learning to play musical instruments) and of course, school fees…

Expectedly, we were given figures way beyond mediocrity and possibly at par with standards of teaching, location, and whatnot.

I recall, I had a deep long sigh and thought, “Kakayanin ba namin ni Tina?”

And just before I utter a word, the male senior colleague who have already raised professionals told me, “Ayos lang iyan; ikaw nga nag-uumpisa ka pa lang (magpaaral)…” I sensed the reality of  my parenthood in his statement.

Enough with the money matters. If it God’s will for Gabby to study there, then it shall be done. If it’s not, then we know, there’s a better plan.

I know Gabby will like these desktops…

Kids enrolled here get to learn their swimming lessons from the nearby Penang Chinese Swimming Club and other sports like football from their enormous playing field…

Apparently, kids here are taught more than what’s written on books…

Check out the school’s web page, they just staged Wizard of Oz production involving all their students. –>Sri Pelita. Faith.Hope.Charity

“Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.”
– Sir Claus Moser

It would take a lot of money to send our son to this private school, which is already considered reasonably priced compared to others we scouted.  But we only have 2 options –(1) Send Gabby to this school and work, work, work or  (2) Leave Gabby to my relatives in Pinas for him to continue his studies there as (Tina and) I work here in Penang.

The second option is rather painful.

As much as possible, Tina and I want to be with Gabby during his formative years. It’s so hard for any parent to miss the growing years of his kid.

If you are in our shoes, how would you come up with a critical decision?

C’mmon, educate me, please.

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17
Jan
11

10 THINGS I HAVE NOT DONE BEFORE

One of my friends of 18 years and counting, and the same person who introduced me to the world of blogging, Rob of Sensory Replays (to quote his verb-) urged his fellow bloggers to do a post similar with his.  He even required everyone who will follow suit to name the entry “10 things I have not done before.”  So obedient as I am, here goes my own boring list…*drum roll, please!* 

1. VIOLIN.  I want to learn how to play it, seriously. The thought didn’t come suddenly but a childhood dream. I cannot put into words how fascinated I am with this string instrument; each time I get to watch an orchestra play, my ears are always biased to its sound. 

You can just imagine my extreme excitement last Saturday, when my senior colleague told me that she and another MD-lecturer-friend are already scheduled to start violin and voice classes respectively in a Chinese-own Music School here in Penang. I immediately asked the rate per hour, and it’s reasonably affordable, RM 60/4 sessions in a month (that’s exactly RM 15 per hour x 4 sessions or PhP 210/session).  The instrument can be purchased from the Music School too.  Let’s wait and see…soon!

2. GO BALD. I wanted to sport a skin head for the longest time but Tina doesn’t allow me.

Admittedly, at 34 I have thinning locks. Thanks to my dad who unfortunately inherited me with hair attributes of poor quality (thin strands in less volume, got used to it already, so no worries).  Now, I can sense that the time is near to sport a new look but not too soon. *bagay kaya? vote now!*

3. ORGANIZE A CHARITY EVENT.  Another blog buddy, Chyng of No Spam, No Virus, No Kiddin’   inspired me after she successfully put up a Christmas party and gift-giving and more for the kids of a certain orphanage in Bulacan recently.  I think everyone who knows her should follow her footsteps in doing such generous endeavor.  At her young age, hats off ako kay Chyng!

I am not promising to do it this year but with a goal and plans in mind, I know things will spring soon.

4.  SLEEP ALL DAY and DO NOTHING.  I used to sleep less and wake up early.  Like even weekends, I have my body clock set with such schedule. I want to experience how it is to be narcoleptic and lazy for a day.  

5. SERIOUSLY SAVE, SAVE and SAVE.  *enough said*

6. SINGAPORE, INDIA and other parts of ASIA.  I could have included countries in Europe but with our personal 2011 financial outlook, a lifelong dream for a European trip shall have to be frozen until that time comes.  For now, traveling to neighboring Asian countries might be feasible but still subject for budget approval. *wink*

7.  GET MY OWN DOMAIN.  How does docgelo.com sounds like?  Honestly, I don’t have any idea of getting my own domain. Help! Only heard that it’s cheap per yearly rate and that’s it. On the second thought, I don’t want to have separation anxiety with wordpress.

8. SOLITARY BACKPACKING.  This one’s a challenge. For a traveler no, but for  a family man like me, it is. After Tina and I had Gabby, most if not all of our trips were done with him and I am not complaining. 

9.  SEND OUR SON to SCHOOL in FOREIGN LANDSo help us, God!

10.  BE A STUDENT AGAIN and PURSUE OTHER POST GRADUATE STUDIES.  I hope this happens soon. I cannot wait.

Do you have your own list or at least ideas in mind of the things you have not done before?

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16
Jan
11

MY USUAL WEEKEND

one of the charming sights in Georgetown, Pulau Pinang

I chanced upon this quaint Chinese facade in georgeous tone of green when I was walking in one of the streets of Georgetown, Penang last weekend.  I instantly fell in love with it.

Walking around Penang Island is a good way to while away hours particularly on a lazy weekend. The sights on the streets and the street scenes itself are not that difficult to appreciate in this UNESCO World Heritage site. Definitely, there are a lot of fascinating things because of diversities in every corner.  

Some of my colleagues and I plan to explore more of the island this coming Chinese New Year (It’ll be holiday here from Feb 3, 4, 5, 6  Thursday to Sunday)!  That’s one long weekend to look forward to. And there’s more of Penang that we haven’t seen yet.

Other than enjoying the sidestreets of Penang, my usual weekend is devoted to spending hours inside the mall, either Queensbay Mall or Plaza Gurney just to forget about homesickness and de-stress from the weeklong toxicity from work.

Just yesterday, after 2 of my senior colleagues and I went to inquire about details from a private primary and secondary school here (for Gabby and their own kids which deserves a separate post next week), we went to Queensbay Mall to meet other friends-colleagues, grabbed some bites for lunch at our favorite Filipino-Malaysian owned food stall, Little Wok.

This is my usual lunch set from Queensbay Mall : Little Wok’s Beef fried rice with egg and Tow Foo Far or taho and Peach Iced Tea from other food stalls. In more or less RM 10 (PhP 140) Solb!

yup, i know it isn't healthy. too much salt, too much sugar but hey, sarap 'yan! hehe

Besides spending few hours inside coffee shops (Starbucks or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) where wifi is free, we also like watching movies almost every weekend. Last week was Season of the Witch (Nicholas Cage) and yesterday we saw The Tourist (Johnny Depp and the lovely, Angelina Jolie). Have you seen these movies?

Then we commonly capped our weekend inside the grocery to buy food for our baon to work the next week.

Today, Sunday, I’ll hear Tagalog Mass in Georgetown (celebrated every 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month only) , sit in a coffee shop inside the mall again to revised my powerpoint slides for my lecture on Wednesday. The main goal always is to forget about homesickness even just for a while.

How’s your usual weekend like?

Enjoy your new week, everyone!

Be safe and be blessed!

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14
Jan
11

LAMAN NG MALETA KO

When the time came to load my luggage with things that I needed to bring to my work place in Penang a couple of weeks back, I intentionally did not forget some work essentials like shirts and silk ties, a pair of pants and some things that would usually make my gastric pits happier…

Now, my personal 3-tiered vault at the office (faculty room) has been stuffed with few cup noodles from Pinas (because I hate their bland and curried stuffs here; I prefer our local Seafood and Beef flavored cup noodles), Boy Bawang, Nagaraya, Flat tops, Dingdong Mix Nuts and of course, Choc Nut. 

From Clarkfield Pampanga’s DMIA to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur then finally, Penang, I almost strained my wrist with my luggage after I filled it with my favorites from Pinas : 4 cans of Century’s Spanish Style Bangus Fillet and 10 cans of…

 

I know most terminals abroad have rules on bringing in processed foods and canned goods even on checked in luggages. Apparently, here in Malaysia, we’re still allowed to bring such; although I have to admit I wrapped each pair of cans in newspapers, secured them with tape and asked my wife to arranged them neatly inside my luggage.

Let me tell you that I was not paid for this, but it’s really one of those canned goods that I cannot live without.

Sarap kasi! 

We have imported corned beef cans here, like those from Brazil but for me, nothing beats PF.

Agree?

Do you like canned goods? What’s your favorite?

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

PS : I forgot to bring local sardines and hotdogs (they don’t have hotdogs here, only beef and chicken dogs).

I also left a kilo of PF Fiesta Ham in our fridge back home (read: excess baggage ito!).

To anyone dropping by Penang, you already have idea of what pasalubong I want from Pinas.

 Syempre, imported na tawag namin dyan! :D

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12
Jan
11

REVISITED THAT TADPOLE-SHAPED ISLAND

I don’t know what charm this historic island has but like a magnet, it draws attraction from everyone, foreign and local tourists alike.  Never did I thought that in my recent brief vacation from work in Penang  that I’ll get another chance to revisit this tadpole shaped island located at the entrance of Manila Bay.  It’s my 3rd time to be there but the experience has always been unexplainably worth it.

The tram buses as usual, welcome tourists at the shores of Corregidor Island and like a magical time-machine, transport each visitors to the historic past.

Do you know that General Douglas MacArthur’s famous line, “I shall return” wasn’t uttered at the island itself as he exited Corregidor’s backdoor to Australia but during his Press Conference already soon after he left the archipelago?

It was a sudden trip; it was my father-in-law who served in the Philippine Marines for more than 10 years and who came home from Missouri, also for the holidays wanted to revisit this Island. Like most of us, he also have been to Corregidor several times; but his experience in the military can effortlessly explain why he wanted to take his grandchildren to one of the most frequently visited tourist spots of the country.  Libre kami ni Lolo Chito, ang saya! :D

However, we’re not that lucky that day for the light and sound show where the late Francis “Ka Kiko” Evangelista’s (of the original TV Patrol cast) voice was used for the annotation at the Malinta Tunnel had a technical problem thus was called off.

Those tram buses that mimicked the orginal mode of transportation during those years when Corregidor Island was used as reservoir of coastal artillery and ammunition magazines that defended Manila Bay and the city of Manila were still there to bring tourists to the rest of the hills of Corregidor.

It was only that day when our tour guide was at his best that I understood that Malinta Tunnel has tracks where those trams used to railed…

Tina and I wondered how one of the laterals of Malinta Tunnel served as a hospital in those critical times…

We’re glad to taste improvements on the buffet spread from the Corregidor Inn where we had lunch inclusive of the package tour (now worth PhP 1900+ per pax).

The ruins of the barracks were still there, weathered by times…

This used to be their cinema at the island…

Other than the small museum, I like this place in Corregidor the most…

This sacred altar built in honor of the heroes of Corregidor who fought for freedom is strategically installed under a hole of its dome where sun can exactly shine directly sometime on the first week of May at high noon coinciding with the anniversary when the island surrendered its glory.

Inside the Pacific War Museum…

The best part of our day trip : family bonding of course!

With his Lolo, Tito, Tita and cousin, Tina and I were happy for Gabby had fun that day…

Unknown to Gabby, the island surrendered to the war and many lives were lost.  I’ll let his history teacher someday to do the works.

For now, at least he knows that the whole world needs…

Have you been to this historic island?  I’m sure. 

What do you like most about it?

====================================

*photo of map of Corregidor was sourced from Wiki
10
Jan
11

OF OEC AND PUBLIC SERVANTS

at the POEA last 28 December 2010, 6:58am with Oversease Exit Clearance form # 302 and my passport

If you must know, our government in Pinas requires all Overseas Filipino Workers who go on leave and/or vacation from their work site abroad to secure Overseas Exit Clearance (OEC) from Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and pay applicable fees to Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) before they can be allowed to leave our terminals and report back to work abroad. The total fees for that OEC amount to PhP 2084.18 (POEA processing fee of PhP 100, OWWA membership PhP 1084.18 and PHILHEALTH PhP 900; I and my colleagues paid everything despite we have PHILHEALTH membership from our previous employers).

THE EXPERIENCE OF AN OEC FIRST TIME APPLICANT. After I left the country to be a Medical Lecturer in a University-College in Penang, Malaysia in 29 July 2010, I was very excited to come home (with my wife and kid as they spent 2-week-break in Penang prior to Xmas) to Pinas and spend a week-long days off.

Having briefed by fellow Filipino MDs who have gone home several times, of what to do and how to secure OEC, I thought I knew what to expect. Still, I was astonished by the volume of OFWs who trooped to POEA that same day as I applied for my OEC.

I arrived at POEA at 6:58AM on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 and the security guard handed my OEC application form number 302. At that early, there were already 301 OFWs who came before me; amazing! :(  Apparently, because most Filipinos of course would prefer to celebrate Christmas and New Year holidays at home.

So I queued and when permitted to enter the waiting area inside, I saw the crowd. Nabanggit ko sa sarili ko, “Ang dami nga pala talagang nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa at kabilang na ako doon!” (I realized that there are a lot of Filipinos working abroad and that includes me already!).

In fairness to POEA officials, the process was organized that day, however they have to make room for more improvements particularly on the attitude of few of them.

An old lady (perhaps on her late 50s) officer at the Evaluation window yelled several times to first few OEC applicants. Goodness gracious, aren’t she aware that we’re the so-called Bagong Bayani? that we’re contributing to the economy of our country as dollar-earners? that our taxes pay their salaries?

To consider that it was early morning, being reprimanded on top of her voice can really ruin your whole day. And so I prepared my counter statement should I’d be yelled at too. hehehe :D Hindi uubra sa akin yun! But thank God she smiled at me when I approached her window as my number  was called after 2 and a half hours of waiting!

I hate to think that my profession made her tone down a bit because I believe they should render their service equally to the public, regardless whether you’re a domestic helper, seaman, doctor, lecturer abroad.

I completed the process of securing OEC (evaluation, assessment, payment) in 2 and a half hours. I saw my colleagues from Penang who came in late that morning still waiting for their numbers to be called outside the building. FYI, they finished at around 4PM. Imagine, they were there almost the whole day! As one of them put it, “Isang araw na dapat kasama ang pamilya na minsan lang makita, kukunin pa nila!”

I appeal to those public officials serving not only OFWs but kapwa-Pinoys in general to kindly render their work with a smile. It definitely helps when you perform with friendliness, efficiency, accuracy and speed.

The same goes to those who are in the Immigration counters, pakibilisan lang po ang serbisyo lalo na sa mga Pinoy na pagod galing sa biyahe.

yun lang po.

—————————————–o

09
Jan
11

GELATISSIMO

Mocha Nut Crunch,  Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Macadamia = Instant happiness!

A world is lonely without ice cream, is it not?  It’s one of my comfort foods.  What about you?

During my recent week-long days off back home,  Tina, Gabby and I managed to dropped by our favorite malls in Makati and sampled a few flavors of gelato from Gelatissimo in Greenbelt 5.

With Gabby at the counter, I asked the crew of their bestsellers and one of them told me to try tasting first before making a choice.  Everything looked so delicious but we wanted to order 3 flavors only on their biggest cup; we eneded up enjoying various chocolate-flavored gelato.  It was like heaven in every scoop! :D

Look at Gabby’s smile with that cup of Italian gourmet ice cream; papasa bang endorser?  *paging Gelatissimo*

It was Tina and Gabby who already gave it a shot from their TriNoma Mall branch a few months ago and liked it from then on.

There’s Gelatissimo branch also here in Penang, located at Plaza Gurney in Gurney Drive but I refused the chance to sample it for I find it a bit costly and so does its Manila counterpart. I guess, indulgence always has a price.

Now, I’m craving for some ice cream. I wish I have vanilla on the fridge.

And you?

Have a great week ahead!  God bless.

——————————————o 

07
Jan
11

SEVEN YEARS NA KAMI!

 08 January 2011, Saturday.

 Tina and I are officially celebrating our seven years   of being married and ten lovely years of being together (we’re  on as bf-gf for 3 years before signing that contract to forever).    

*applause! applause!*

(you can review how our love-hate relationship started HERE! and our online wedding album from Ariel Javelosa website HERE!).

I just want to restate to my wife that she’s been so fortunate and blessed to have me as her lifelong partner, hahaha!  As what I’ve been telling her whenever I’m trying to please her, “Bukod kang pinagpala sa babaeng lahat to have me!” LOL!  (Kindly google translate it folks if you don’t know Tagalog).

Happy 7th anniversary, honey!

Truth is, I am grateful until my last breath to have you as my best friend, wife and mistress. hahaha! :D

We may not have everything yet today but more importantly, we’re enjoying the roads to get there in God’s time. *wink*

Iloveyou+Gabby!

05
Jan
11

17 MEMORABLE HOURS IN SABAH

My dearest  Tina,

How are you and Gabby?  It’s been only 2 days since I left home to be in my work site again here in Penang but homesickness has began to kick in again. I guess it’s really part of being away from family.  Anyway,  I know in 2 to 3 months time, God willing, you and Gabby will join me here for good; or at least until we finish our respective contracts.  Aren’t you excited to work as an Operating Room Nurse in Penang Adventist Hospital soon?  Let’s pray that your registration paper will be release immediately after they’ve received all your requirements from local offices there in Pinas.

Our trip en route to Penang was eventful; truly one for the books.  You know for a fact that it was (Doc)Ronnie who thought of going to Kota Kinabalu prior to Penang for a quick tour of the city and I decided to tag along with him. It was also him who told me to inquire about where to go and what to do on a limited time from one of our (best) PreMed students, Dante who hails from Sabah.  So when I did, it led to a wonderful experience we never expected to happen.

From Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga, Ronnie and I boarded a 4PM flight to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. 

Just after I turned on my cellphone by the time we reached Sabah few minutes before 6PM, I received a text message from Dante’s Dad, Sir Paul that he’s already waiting at the airport to fetch us. *we didn’t think we’d received such warm hospitality*

We were brought to a floating seafood restaurant that features cultural show…

The huge seafood place is built on stilts in a man-made lagoon. We were told it’s frequented by tourists and locals particularly on weekends and holidays but even on a Monday evening, we saw a number of people dining and enjoying the show.

It was our gracious and generous host, Sir Paul who ordered from the stalls of fresh veggies and live seafoods…

Our sumptuous feast in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah….

Grouper or popularly known in Pinoys as Lapu-lapu.

Soft-shelled crabs were divine! Sarap!

Udang is the Malaysian term for shrimps or prawns… It’s Ronnie’s favorite.

Clams in thick and creamy sauce…

Riped mangoes from the Philippines as our dessert…

Some more dances from the show…we found so many similarities with our own not only in the costumes but also in their moves. They also have Tinikling-like dance; a proof that we came from one root.  On the right photo were the 2 doctors who made Sabah their pit stop before reporting back to work and their gracious host, Sir Paul. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sir! Thank you for everything! 

Free photo-op with the performers after their show…

After our dinner, he drove us up to a hilly part overlooking the city, then just when I thought that he’ll only drop us off to our hotel lobby, we were pleased that he even stayed longer with us after we’ve checked in.

He offered to accompany us to the airpot the next day so we’re even more delighted.

We woke up at 6AM, checked out an hour after and met him at the lobby.  He brought us to a simple place where eateries and stores are located; he treated us again for breakfast. It was another indulgence! We cannot thank him enough…

He ordered white coffee (with condensed milk instead of sugar, sarap!) for Ronnie and I; 3 plates of soyed noodles, and four bowls of tasteful soups –pork, beef, fish and shrimps… It was overwhelming!

He even bought a couple of local papers for us to browse…

And just before bringing us to the airport, he managed to show us one of Kota Kinabalu’s beaches…

It added to a lot of reasons to go back to Sabah. :D

At the terminal, Sir Paul even carried our luggages to queue for check in; offered us hot milo drink at the lounge while waiting for our boarding time. His hospitality was really beyond our expectations.  We’re so grateful to have met him.

We learned that Sir Paul with our student, Dante and the rest of their family already visited Manila 2 years ago. He even had good recall of the places they’ve been to. Sir Paul mentioned he was impressed with Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and Tagaytay City.

From Kota Kinabalu, we flew back to Kuala Lumpur then headed to Penang via another flight on Air Asia.  There’s a direct flight from Sabah to Penang but we purchased our tickets from KL-Penang online long before we decided to go to Kota Kinabalu. Nonetheless, the entire experience of hopping from one terminal to another was amazing.

Someday, I hope to visit Sabah again with you and Gabby; and I and Ronnie also wish to return the favor to Sir Paul and his family whenever they’ll have a chance to visit Manila again.

Love,

your one and only *baduy!*

———————————————————-O

02
Jan
11

LASANG PINOY

How did you start your 2011?

My family and I had totally different New Year’s eve. For the very first time in my 34 years of existence, I defied family tradition, superstition and beliefs about New Year celebration. We never had fireworks and firecrackers. We didn’t have 13 round fruits on the dining table that were supposed to symbolize 12 fruitful months and a surplus for the incoming year. We didn’t prepare any home-cooked meals neither bought dishes or cakes from restaurants or fast foods even as take-away.  Perhaps because Tina, Gabby and I just came home from Malaysia a day after Christmas and we became so busy allowing time to just pass by. Nonetheless, I extremely enjoyed my days off with my family. :D

Few hours before the clock strikes midnight last New Year’s eve, Tina, Gabby and I spent simple dinner at Sulu Hotel in Quezon City with my wife’s balikbayan dad who checked in there for his holiday here from Missouri.

During my vacation, we also got a chance to visit my dad and brothers in Pasig City and had dinner with them too. 

The three of us watched  2 Pinoy movies (comedy and horror flicks), dined and strolled in malls I truly missed (Greenbelt, Glorietta, Gateway and TriNoma) and really savored my week-long break from work.

Before I report back to work in Penang early next week, I’d like to share with you the foods that I am extremely pleased to eat again after 5 months of being abroad.

Our very first meal after we got home  from the airport : Pandesal at goto…

Tina, Gabby and I arrived on 26th December from (Penang via)  Kuala Lumpur  at around 6AM after we were fetched by my 2 brothers from NAIA terminal 3.  We walked to Kawilihan bakery (the best bakery in Anonas/Chico Streets, QC) and bought a supot (brown bag) of  pandesal and goto for me! Sarap! miss na miss e!  Pandesal never tasted that delicious!

Reyes Barbecue, Glorietta Makati… Five months of no pork barbecue was worth the wait! 

 

Christmas season in Pinas won’t be complete without bibingka (rice cakes). This one was from a stall near Greenbelt chapel. We also had Ferino’s, one of the best tasting bibingka in town.

I am more of bibingka fan rather than puto-bumbong (purple rice cakes steamed from bamboo poles; do you like them both?).

Pancit Malabon :  I’d count the days until I can enjoy you again…

 Crispy Pata and Kare-kare from Dencio’s …classic Pinoy favorites.

 

And yesterday, my sister-in-law invited us for a dinner treat with Tina’s balikbayan-dad at Dampa in Libis, Quezon City.

Other than those calcium and iodine -rich yummies, my dad-in-law also missed Dinuguan, so he ordered one…

Of course it was seafoods galore!  We had Tiger-Prawn Tempura, Sweet and Sour Lapu-lapu,

Halaan (clam) soup … deliciously soothing!

I cannot imagine a world without baked scallops! hehehe!

Among those sumptuous treats I had with my family in Manila, these two are the ones to be missed…

Purefoods hotdogs (you know that we have raw pork meat in Penang, even various ham but there’s only beef and chicken-dogs).

And, it would take time again before I can dunk my fork at those crispiest Chicken Joy and delightful Spaghetti from Jollibee. I’ll also surely miss that Yum burger and Peach Mango pie… Can someone put up a Jollibee branch in Butterworth, please… hehehe..

On one of our meals at home, Tina prepared Crab meat Siomai, beautifully steamed and was perfectly tasteful but I forgot to capture them in photos *toinks!*

Despite the fact that Penang has been considered as food capital of Malaysia and I and my family and friends are lucky to experience their diverse gastronomic flavors, my palate still belongs to Pinoy foods. :D

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we’ll have Tuyo, Itlog na Pula at Kamatis and Sinangag for breakfast. :P

Happy 2011, everyone!  May we all have a more blessed year.

Here’s to more blog posts about Family.Food and Fun!

cheers!

———————————————————————–o




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