Archive for the 'EVENTS' Category

30
Mar
14

GOZO GARDEN RESTAURANT AT MILLENIUM AIRPORT HOTEL, DUBAI

5

When you’re in Dubai either for a brief stopover or a longer stay, you may want to drop by at one of the interesting and delicious hotel food and beverage outlets around – the Gozo Garden located at Millenium Airport Hotel.  I was lucky enough to be invited to experience their BBQ Themed Dinner Buffet followed by a Phil Collins Tribute Show that made one of my first few weekend nights in UAE less ordinary.

1
Lobby of Millenium Airport Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Upon the thoughtful recommendation of a fellow Filipino UAE-based blogger, Carla of  My Yellow Bells @ www.myyellowbells.blogspot.ae, whose blog I follow long before I came to Dubai, and with the generous invitation of Mr. Ben Hipolito, the hotel’s  Food and Beverage Administrator,  Gozo Garden  Restaurant and Millenium Airport Hotel, I’m grateful to be there that Thursday night, savored the food and music, and finally got a chance to meet Carla and another Filipino blogger based in Dubai, Rosell of  Kero’s Celebration @ www.mrspinkihan.com. It was nothing but fun evening that ushered our weekend in UAE!

For someone like me who’s so new to Dubai, finding the location of  Millenium Airport Hotel and getting there were not an issue.  I left my flat in Deira at around half an hour past 6 in the evening ; walked my way to take the ever reliable, Dubai Metro from Abu Bakar Al Siddique Station. After swiftly transferring to Red Line at Union Station, I alighted at GGICO Station and strolled to the venue. It only took me less than 20 minutes to reach the Millenium Airport Hotel from Deira via the Dubai Metro. Of course, getting there through private cars, taxi cabs and buses are also an option. It’s that accessible.

Thankfully, the sky and the stars were cooperative that evening; the seemingly odd downpour in Dubai for two consecutive days prior to that night halted on our favor.
2
3
The view from where we sat.

The simple outdoor set up for that Thursday evening highlighted the impressive space of the hotel. The buffet spread was truly enticing!
6
The delicious Gozo Garden BBQ themed dinner buffet outdoor.

Assorted slices of cheese, cold cuts and biscuits, a variety of salads, sushi, seafood, baked goodies and soups, plus a few more hors d’ oeuvres, main entrees that include Salmon wrapped in Banana Leaves, Stir Fried Seafoods, Pan Roasted Vegetables in Pesto, Roasted Rack of Lamb with Moroccan Spices, Grilled Hamour with Citrus Sauce and Basil, Roasted Beef and a lot more!  Desserts spread wasn’t overwhelming but a satisfying selection of sweets and fresh fruit slices.  A choice of beverages from wines and beers to fruit juices, coffee and tea were available too to complement everything that evening.

Let my few captures give you a glimpse of how modest but tasteful the spread was.
4
c
a
08
7
9

Desserts…

8
10
11

My plates…

b
d
e

There were a couple of cover artists who were playing good music during the dinner. Their songs from late 80s to early 90s while we’re indulging were so apt to introduce the main show that night.  A Phil Collins Tribute by Andrew James.

His voice did justice to Phil Collins’ hits and I must state, I caught myself clapping frequently. However, it could’ve been better if his repertoire included the classics,  “Against All Odds” and “Separate Lives.” You know how Filipinos can get so sentimental at any given place and time! ;)
17

Upcoming shows at Gozo Garden include, Tom Jones Tribute Show on May 1st, and another Tribute Show featuring hits of Lionel Richie on May 29th. You better mark those dates and troop to Gozo Garden if you’re in Dubai!

As for the gastronomic feasts nightly, Gozo Garden offers Latino Samba on Sundays, Mediterranean on Mondays, Oriental on Tuesdays, Out of Africa-themed night on Wednesdays, BBQ every Thursdays, Seafood Galore on Fridays and Arabian Night on Saturdays.  At AED 195 per person with selected house beverages, and AED 250 every Thursday with Tribute Shows, you’re definitely in for something fun and a delightful night!

It was a pleasure finally meeting my fellow bloggers at UAE, Carla and Rosell! Here’s hoping for more meet ups soon! Until next time!

18
Happy to meet fellow Filipino UAE-based bloggers, Carla (middle) and Rosell (seated).

Many thanks to Gozo Garden Restaurant and Millenium Airport Hotel for inviting us!

Gozo Garden | Millenium Airport Road Dubai, Airport Road, Casablanca Street, Al Garhoud, PO Box 13018
Dubai, 13018, United Arab Emirates | Telephone : +971 4 702 8888+971 4 702 8888 Fax : +971 4 282 0627 |
website : www.millenniumhotels.ae/millenniumdubai/dining/gozo-garden

>><<

31
Jan
14

SAN JUAN CITY | PUNLAAN SCHOOL’S FUNDRAISING DINNER

I considered it as a special blessing to be invited to a humble place filled with inspiring and encouraging people. Few days before 25th January 2014, I received the invitation via phone call and email, and despite the short notice, I’m glad I never hesitated and gave it an instant green light. The event was called, Heart For A Cause, A Fundraising Dinner for Punlaan School in San Juan, Metro Manila and its young scholars. The Five-Thousand-Pesos-per-plate invitation to the fine dining dinner spearheaded by Chef Babes Austria, a former Executive chef of Malacanan Palace and Taal Vista Hotel, for the Punlaan School was already enticing, and the fact that my only contribution to the event was not financial but rather small deed by capturing the moments on my amateur photos; the event itself was surprisingly meaningful as it moved me, as well as the rest of the esteemed guests to tears.

2
Herb Garden of Punlaan School.

The area of Punlaan School, M. Paterno Street in San Juan, isn’t new to me. I passed that street a countless times but I am not aware that there’s a productive school until I attended their Fundraising Dinner. Established in 1975, Punlaan School is offering a Two-Year-Dual Training Scholarship Program in Food and Beverage Services, that provides valuable training exclusively for young women who come from lower-income-sector. It’s very uplifting to note that a former school for helpers has evolved into a vocational-technical institution and tourism training center accredited by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Department of Tourism (DOT).  While it’s not difficult to appreciate that Punlaan School grows not only their very own herb garden that produces important ingredients to every meal they prepare, it is more significant to know that they breed students whose poor lives are transformed gradually as they undergo life-changing studies.

What made the event extraordinary, the scholars of Punlaan School prepared everything from cocktails, main entrees and desserts. The students were all involved from ushering of guests, to serving of meals respectively. And from every inch, they looked and moved professionally!

3
1
Tempura Scallop Mesclun on Sweet Spicy Fresh Mango Sauce.

I was warmly welcomed to the cocktails by Ms. Anne Marie Jacinto, Punlaan School’s Director.

Hors de’oevre with Beringer (yes, my favorite California wines distributed by Happy Living was there to support too!) Sparkling White Zinfandel were served at the cocktails held at the school’s Multi-Purpose Hall. Everything was tasteful.

ANS_9549
ANS_9552
Crisp Pawpaw Smoked Fish Cheesy Triangle with Pineapple Moringa Honey Sauce.

ANS_9545ANS_9529
Oven Roasted California Herb Mixed Nuts and Fresh Root Crop Chips with Punlaan Homemade Dip.
ANS_9553
Beringer Sparkling White Zifandel and my plate of bite-sized goodies.

As everyone were ushered in to the dining area at the second floor of the school, I got a chance to sneak inside the school’s chapel to utter some prayers.

ANS_9574

The lobby and the narrow wooden staircase gave me a Malacanan Palace-like vibe enough to heighten my curiosity and fascination with the school, its cause and of course, the dinner itself. The mood was casual, yet I had some hints that there’s a deeper purpose for my attendance.
ANS_9575

Here’s the hallway en route to the classrooms that were transformed to the evening’s dining area.
ANS_9579

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, here are the faces of students who need your support and unconditional assistance, for them to pursue their studies in Punlaan School and fulfill their dreams of helping their own families eventually.

ANS_9580
ANS_9589

One of the highlights of my experience was getting a chance to witness how our feast is prepared. I was ushered into the kitchen, et voila! It was so nice to see everyone was working in the chef’s Operating Room efficiently.

ANS_9602

Here’s Chef Babes Austria in her best element! I bet it’s a privilege and so motivating to be under her tutelage.
ANS_9608

It’s beautiful to see young chef-in-the-making, painstakingly setting our salad plates…
ANS_9620
ANS_9613
ANS_9603

Everyone seemed enjoying their work, and there was no trace of fatigue in spite of the fact that their call time to be in school for the event was 12 hours earlier.
ANS_9609ANS_9625ANS_9623

The dinner started officially as they opened the accordion divider to intentionally expose & introduce the kitchen and the people behind it.

ANS_9627

Introductory speeches from the school authorities were delivered and love songs were rendered by Ms. Roxy Abueg from UP Conservatory of Music. Her voice and renditions of popular and classic hits brought everyone in a more positive mood.

Dinner was served by the scholars themselves. My palates and taste buds sensed nothing but delicious!

ANS_9597
ANS_9637
Flowers and Greens on a Bed of Home-made Curved Slivered Atlantic Wild Salmon-Gravlax lightly drizzled with Limoncello Vinaigrette.
ANS_9671
Asian Symphony of Flavors. Clear Broth served with puff twisted bread stick.
ANS_9657
Not on the menu but Soft Shell Crab was served too!  Yummy!

ANS_9688ANS_9683
Poached Baked Fresh Bacalao in spiced milk served with asparagus and foamy Dayap French Vanilla white wine sauce.

ANS_9715
ANS_9711
Slow-cooked Roast US Pork Belly stuffed with California Walnuts, with Guava Java Mint Sauce.

I guess everyone, including myself, was not prepared to shed tears on a lovely dinner like this. One by one, while all of us were savoring the meal plate by plate, three remarkable alumni of Punlaan School took the podium and microphone and spoke from their hearts. Michelle Pacheco, who’s  a pioneer and still working with Resorts World Manila, Hazel Berbano, who’s working with Intercontinental Hotel Makati, and Rossel Dequito, who’s working with UCC Coffee, proudly shared their heartwarming and humble beginnings with Punlaan School. All their testimonials proved that despite they all came from poorest of the poor families in Metro Manila, their commitment to rise from their marginalized state by going through their studies successfully, to their hardworking efforts employed at their current work now, are all worth-sharing.

punlaan school alumni
From left to right : Punlaan School’s Alumni – Michelle Pacheco, Hazel Berbano, and Rossel Dequito.

Rossel, the last of the three speaker-alumni from Punlaan School moved everyone to tears. Her words about how she and her family survived and thrived on their house built on stilts by the sea, swaying with the waves and breeze, made us all realize our blessings – big and small.  She and the other girls from Punlaan School are truly inspiring!

Moving on with the dinner… A uniquely tasting sorbet called, California Raisin Lime (not in photo) was served as palate cleanser in between two courses.

ANS_9738
Grilled US Angus Steak.

Second course was a handsome fillet of prime beef with duet of sauce, au jus and quenelle pistachio cream pomerry mustard, served with baked potato, glazed baby carrot and French beans. The incredibly tasteful slab was paired with Beringer Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Tasted like a match truly made in Heaven! :)
ANS_9735

The steak was so gorgeous and delicious, I’m glad I immortalized it on this shot… hehehe! 
ANS_9739
ANS_9741

Finally but not the least, decadent dessert!
ANS_9748
Sweet Punlaan Harmony Banana-Carrot Pudding with warm Ganache, Lavander infused Creme Anglaise and fresh fruit.

From cocktails, to entrees and dessert, to the morally-uplifting words of the almuni, I came home not only satiated but was reminded to be more grateful for everything and to everyone, to always count my blessings and to share whatever I can to those in need.
ANS_9785
ANS_9751

“Heart for a Cause was sponsored by Beringer Wines courtesy of Happy Living, and Schott Zwiesel Stemware courtesy of Garden Barn,Down To Earth, Villa Ignacio Farms Inc., Mida Food Distributor Inc., Dane International Commodities Inc. and PTC.

Punlaan School is funded by voluntary government donations as well as private institutions and individuals. You can help by donating, accommodating women for training, or recruiting school graduates. For more information, log on to www.punlaan.com or call (63-2) 727-0581/82.”

*Special thanks goes out to Ms. Nana Nadal for the invitation.

>><<

12
Jan
14

ANGONO | HIGANTES FESTIVAL & BALAW BALAW RESTAURANT

ANS_7322

It only took me 20 minutes and twenty-two Philippine pesos on a single public-utility-jeepney ride from our place in Pasig City to reach Angono, Rizal.  Although it sounded quite near and convenient, I did not have any idea where to alight! I only remembered from what I googled, that the Higantes Festival parade would start at 7AM, Sunday, 17 November 2013,  in front of Angono Elementary School. Good thing, luck was on my side because a young family with grandparents were also on their way to the same town fiesta, sat beside me. I got off the jeepney when they did.

Just before 7AM, I found myself standing in front of World War II monument at the junction in Angono. The driver dropped off almost half of his passengers there, as the road going to Angono Elementary School was closed for the event. After few meters of walking, I smiled when I finally saw numerous Higantes, or giant paper mache on queue for the parade. It certainly brought back simple and happy memories of celebrating fiestas during my childhood years.

ANS_7265

Towering at ten to twelve feet, with diameter of about four to five feet, Higantes are made of paper mache for their heads, and bamboos and colorful textiles for their trunks. They usually add fun to almost all fiestas around the Philippines, but it is in Angono where the tradition started. History states that these Higantes originated as a creative means of protest of Filipino farmers and land tillers against their Spanish landlords during the colonial era. That explains why these Higantes have hands placed high up on their waists, they used to be the effigies of arrogant hacienderos before.

An awesome surprise treat for me was to see and photograph little pretty kids that were dressed in costumes of mermaids, fishermen and parehadoras (group of young girls holding paddles and wearing bakya or traditional wooden slippers); they were all in the parade at Higantes Festival as reminders that Angono was once a fishing village and that its town people were blessed with abundance of Laguna Lake.

ANS_7339
ANS_7343

And so my Sunday morning was made with infectious kiddie smiles and a lot variations of Higantes from computer-game-inspired, Plants versus Zombies…

ANS_7270

Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal…

ANS_7277

More animated characters…

ANS_7269

Local town’s cosplayers…

ANS_7310

Even the famous Filipino comedian-host, Vice Ganda was made into a Higantes!

ANS_7284

Like almost all fiestas in the country, the parade started with a lively marching bands…

ANS_7289
ANS_7384
ANS_7511
ANS_7462
ANS_7473
ANS_7519
ANS_7483
ANS_7534
ANS_7526
ANS_7551
ANS_7587

Fiestas are commonly celebrated in honor of Catholic saints, and in Angono, it’s the feast day of Saint Pope Clement I or locally known as San Clemente. Higantes Festival is held a week before the feast day of San Clemente, that’s usually celebrated every November 22-23.

After I stationed myself to a spot where I watched the parade pass by, I walked my way down to the town’s municipal building.

ANS_7592
The relief-structures of “Si Malakas at Si Maganda” fronting the municipal building of Angono, Rizal.

Since I am not familiar with the place, I asked bystanders and a few policemen of the directions to the San Clemente Church. It’s easy as I was told to stroll down where the parade was going.
ANS_7599

The narrow street en route to the San Clemente Church was lined by concrete walls in parallel, with sculptures and murals depicting local lives and other artistic creations of homegrown artists of Angono. This urban municipality would never been dubbed as Arts Capital of the Philippines for nothing. Angono is home to two National Artists, namely Lucio San Pedro for music and Carlos “Botong” Francisco for the arts. It is also in this humble town where Angono Petroglyphs, the oldest art work identified in the Philippines, can be found (not in photo).
ANS_7597

Finally, I uttered prayers of thanksgiving, asked for forgiveness and blessings inside San Clemente Church.
ANS_7640
ANS_7644

Outside, under the heat of the mid-morning sun, the Higantes Festival parade was still on-going. I caught myself with mouth-wide-open, at the sight of local men and women in their geriatric years, taking photos of the parade using modern tablets and smart phones.

I was in awe at the efforts employed by all participants, specially the boys and men who were carrying those Higantes, and of course, all the children and the old ones who were wearing traditional attires and costumes for the parade. Hats off to them who continue to pass this traditional celebration to the next generations.
ANS_7683
ANS_7652
ANS_7660
ANS_7672
ANS_7703
ANS_7696
ANS_7675
ANS_7702

Most people who visit Angono, Rizal also drop by the famous Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant and Art Gallery.  Of course, I did not let the chance to pass without sampling something from their menu. It only took me 5-minute-tricycle ride to get there.

Apparently, 3 Higantes from the parade were from the restaurant owners. I saw them how they disassemble the Higantes before keeping them inside the gallery. Amazing!

ANS_7706

The facade’s inviting with lush greens…
ANS_7789
ANS_7790

Inside, I found the restaurant quaint and fascinating…
ANS_7708

The view where I sat…
ANS_7711
ANS_7712
ANS_7766
Paper Mache : Local women with children, cooking local rice cakes, bibingka and puto-bumbong.

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant is known for local and exotic dishes from Angono. I forgot to bring my daredevil and adventurous attitude when it comes to food (as if I have one!), thus I only settled to personal favorites – Halo-halo to beat the heat, Balaw-balaw Seafood fried rice -that appealed to me as a meal-in-one, and a fresh mango juice to wash everything down.
ANS_7758
ANS_7738
ANS_7767

By its huge serving, I had more than half of the Balaw-Balaw Seafood fried rice as my take-away, and shared it immediately for lunch at home. Everything’s OK but certainly not the best compared to what I’ve tasted. To be fair, there’s a lot of Filipino dishes on the menu to choose from and perhaps, a single visit to this restaurant with minimal orders would not be enough to have a fair food review.

The restaurant houses an art gallery too.

Behold.

The craftmanship of Angono…
ANS_7774

A visit to their toilet with a 45 degree turn to the right will give you this view…

ANS_7777

More beautiful sculptures and art works installed at the other room of the art gallery…

ANS_7782
ANS_7785
ANS_7780
ANS_7787

Half day wasn’t enough to understand, enjoy and savor an entire town’s culture, tradition, food and celebration. But I reckon that I had fun nonetheless.

Have you been to Angono, Rizal? How was your experience attending Higantes Festival? Have you tried dining at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant?

>><<

San Clement Church | Baranggay Poblacion Ibaba, Angono, Rizal.

Angono Elementary School | M.L. Quezon Avenue, Barangay San Isidro, Angono, Rizal.

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant and Art Gallery| #16 Doña Justa St., Doña Subd., PH1, Angono, Rizal. (this is not a sponsored post).

>><<

05
Dec
13

INTRAMUROS, MANILA | 2013 GRAND MARIAN PROCESSION

“I love you when you bow in your mosque,

kneel in your temple,

pray in your church.

For you and I are sons of religion,

and it is the spirit.”

~ Khalil Gibran

ANS_8226

Around 3PM, I rode the MRT train from Santolan Station all the way to its last stop in Recto, Manila. Strolled my way to Quiapo, then took a jeepney ride to Pier and alighted near the Department of Immigration building. The road was completely blocked to private and public vehicles and only people were allowed to walk through the historic walled city. Few steps further, I found myself standing in front of the restored Ayuntamiento, among the thick volume of crowd, waiting for the 100 carrozas to float by.  Although I spent countless evenings of Holy Wednesdays, Good Fridays and dawns of Easter Sundays watching Catholic saint-processions with my family in Marikina City and considering I used to be a part of an all-boys-choir in Marikina Catholic School, who used to sing in First Friday Masses, Living Rosary and other religious activities in school during my growing up years,  attending the longest procession devoted to the Blessed Virgin entirely, was something new to me.  It was my first time to attend and witness the Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros, Manila that, correct me if I’m wrong, is an annual event held every first Sunday of December.

ANS_8243
Ayuntamiento

01 December 2013, Sunday, Intramuros, Manila. It was drizzling when I arrived within the vicinity of Manila Cathedral but the mild downpour miraculously stopped around 5PM, so timely for the start of the Grand Marian Procession for this year. Armed with my long black umbrella, I took a few shots of the first few carrozas on queue. Most of them came from nearby parishes in Metro Manila, to as far as Northern, Central and Southern Luzon, with few that came from provinces in the South.
ANS_8209
La Familia De La Virgen Maria.

ANS_8213
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth.

ANS_8217
Angel Gabriel on the Annunciation tableu.

ANS_8219
Annunciation

ANS_8224
Nuestra Senora De La O from Our Lady’s Nativity Parish, Pangil, Laguna.

I saw groups of people with gadgets that could take photos swarming around one of the carrozas that was literally filled with colorful and attractive flowers; mostly Ecuadorean roses in various hues. Not long after, I joined the bystanders and faithfuls who were in awe at San Jose and his float. It was the grandest I’ve seen!
ANS_8234
ANS_8233
ANS_8235
ANS_8228
ANS_8240
Roses in various colors & other blooms, mirrors, faux trees & crystals adorned San Jose’s carroza.

Within 4 hours of watching the procession, at times I whispered prayers to the Lord and to His Blessed Mother, whose many images passed me by, I was totally amazed and proud of the Filipino faith. Each Marian icon was accompanied and ushered by parish priest/s, sacristans, some with nuns, marching bands, a few came with Boy scouts, folk dancers and young and old ones who were dressed in their Sunday’s best and traditional Filipino attires, volume of parishioners and Marian devotees from the town or city the image came from.

Every expression of Filipino devotion to the Virgin Mary was unique. Some paraded in solemnity, complete with recitation of the Holy Rosary; some were barefooted, others attended in uniform shirts; while some devotees were amazingly cheerful, vocal and loud in professing their love to the Virgin Mary, with singing, waving of handkerchiefs, dancing, particularly the people from Pakil, Laguna who ushered Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba, people from Candaba, Pampanga who brought Nuestra Senora de la Merced and the people from San Mateo, Rizal who accompanied Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu.

Of all the Marian images I saw, I was moved and grounded as a Filipino when the carroza of Ina Poon Bato from Zambales passed by and I saw it was accompanied by Aetas, our indigenous brothers and sisters.

ANS_8241
ANS_8245
ANS_8256
San Roque.

Image of St. Andrew or locally known as San Andres was brought in from Catanduanes, Bicol.

ANS_8259
ANS_8260
ANS_8261
St. Andrew.

Then that incredibly beautiful carroza of St. Joseph or San Jose passed by.
ANS_8266
ANS_8267
St. Joseph.

ANS_8270
La Familia De La Virgen Maria.

ANS_8271
ANS_8273
Annunciation.

ANS_8276
Mary and Joseph.

ANS_8293
Nuestra Senora De Navidad.

ANS_8303
ANS_8304

From Cainta, Rizal, Mahal Na Ina Ng Kaliwanagan or the Our Lady of Light.

ANS_8312
ANS_8315
Other than flowers, the parishioners from Cainta used suman, or rice cakes in the carroza.Wow!

People from all ages and walks of life participated. We were all prayerful under one sky.
ANS_8316
ANS_8319
ANS_8324
Mary, Help of Christians.

ANS_8329
Our Lady of Penafrancia, Naga, Bicol.

ANS_8334
La Angustia De Maria La Santisima Nazarena.

Something new to me was the image of Mother Mary as Our Lady of Providence/Our Lady of China for the Chinese Catholic community. It was my first time to see such gracious image.

ANS_8338
Our Lady of Providence/Our Lady of China.
ANS_8342
Nuestra Senora La Desatadora De Nundos. Our Lady Untier of Knots.

ANS_8344
ANS_8347
Roses and annato/achiote or locally called in the Philippines as atsuete adorned the carroza.

ANS_8349
ANS_8350
Rosa Mistica. One of the few images that was carried via wooden poles on shoulders.

ANS_8358
Women who ushered their image in traditional Filipino attire.

ANS_8369
ANS_8379

La Pieta…

ANS_8393
ANS_8395
La Pieta.

As mentioned, one of the images of the Blessed Mother that paraded with numerous devotees and parishioners was the Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu from San Mateo, Rizal. The energy of the people clapping, singing, waving their flags and hankerchiefs, cheering for the Blessed Mother was beyond inspiring!

ANS_8396
ANS_8403
ANS_8409
ANS_8412
Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu from San Mateo, Rizal.

ANS_8441ANS_8444
Nuestra Senora De La Santisima Trinidad.

ANS_8474
ANS_8503
ANS_8507
ANS_8512
ANS_8515
ANS_8519
Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba from Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish, Pakil, Laguna.

ANS_8535
Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

ANS_8553ANS_8556
ANS_8559
ANS_8566
Our Lady of Montserrat.
ANS_8600
ANS_8603ANS_8614
ANS_8620
ANS_8634
ANS_8628
Our Lady of Czestochowa, The Black Madonna.
ANS_8641
Mary, The Lady of All Nations.
ANS_8646
ANS_8650
ANS_8651
ANS_8656
ANS_8657
Our Lady of Banneux.

Hail to Ina Poon Bato from Zambales! Accompanied by our indigenous brothers and sisters, the Aetas.
ANS_8672
ANS_8669
Ina Poon Bato from Zambales. 

ANS_8677
ANS_8684
ANS_8713
ANS_8718
Mary, Mirror of Justice from Comembo, Makati City.
ANS_8725
ANS_8728
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

ANS_8734
ANS_8735
ANS_8738
ANS_8745
ANS_8753
ANS_8758
Birhen ng Lujan.

*There were 100 carrozas in this Grand Marian Procession and please forgive me if this blog post only features less than half of them, a few without names of Our Lady.  I’m so sorry as I tried my best to capture the signages from each carroza, however, I only did as much for 4 hours (5PM-9PM) of standing and taking amateur photos for me to share on this site.  I’ll appreciate if readers could identify those Marian images on this post without labels.  Also, some of the photos turned out to be blurred that I chose not to post. The other Marian images were :

  • Our Lady of Caysasay, Taal, Batangas,
  • Nuestra Senora de la Merced, Candaba, Pampanga,
  • Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City,
  • Nuestra Senora de Barangay,
  • Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario de Malabon,
  • Our Lady of Piat,
  • La Naval de Manila,
  • Our Lady of Orani,
  • Nuestra Senora de la Soledad de Nueva Ecija,
  • Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Cebu,
  • and many more that I failed to list down and capture. Again, my apologies.

For four hours, my focus from challenges of daily living was deviated to something more meaningful; something peaceful. This religious activity truly defined what Filipino Marian devotion is to me.

On December 8, Happy Feast Day of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception!

Please pray for us.

>><<

15
Nov
13

A WEEK AFTER THE STORM

After being home for 3 weeks from Penang, one of my former Malaysian students sent me a private message on facebook, and asked of our condition in the Philippines. He mentioned, they learned from CNN that our country was ravaged by the recent typhoon. Another Malaysian student expressed her concern about me and our family regarding the same matter. I felt blessed and thankful.

A week after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known in The Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) struck our country and left most Filipinos in devastated state, I felt the urge to bring my feet back to the heart of Manila. I found myself with knees bent, inside the Catholic church dedicated to the patron saint of the hopeless and despaired.

Novena was uttered by the faithfuls; gospel was read and a brief homily was delivered by the priest. It almost moved me to tears, as I am grateful that my family and I, despite having difficulties, are still alive, safe, and healthy. I fervently asked for forgiveness, blessings and mercy, neither for my own sake, nor for my family alone, but more so, for those Filipinos who have been suffering from losses, physical and emotional traumas caused by the terrifying storm.

I lit 3 candles, said my prayers again and strolled my way out of the Malacanang vicinity. Barely an hour with surprisingly less traffic, I reached Malate Church via 2 jeepney rides. I went inside and talked to my Creator once more. Imagine a prodigal sinner coming home to His father.  Seriously, like a battery-with-full-bars, I felt extremely recharged! So with my spirit up and hopes high, I went out of the church. And everything became lighter.

manila bay sunset november 14, 2013 docgelo 529pm
Manila Bay, Philippines. 11/14/2013, Thursday, 5:29PM.

While I am one with the many who so appreciate the incredible financial contributions and generous humanitarian assistance being rendered by other nations to the Filipino people, I’m also grateful for the efforts exerted and donations given by our own countrymen.

Positive things must not end.  There must be no room for negative words at this time and beyond, as it would not offer any solution but add further insult to the injuries.

Life’s challenges taught me so well to be more faithful rather than lose hope. Better to put two palms together in prayer rather than to point fingers and blame others.

“The Lord is a refuge of the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” – Psalm 9:9

>><<

02
Aug
13

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI

salam aidilfitri

With just a week to go to celebrate Hari Raya or Eid,

Wishing all our Muslim students, colleagues, friends, and readers of this blog, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

Have a very meaningful celebration of Eid! :)

 

13
Jul
13

MEETING FELLOW FILIPINO BLOGGERS IN MALAYSIA, HONG KONG & SINGAPORE

Like a surgeon with his list of procedures done on the operating table. Like an architect with his volume of blueprints drawn for the structures he built. Like a lawyer with his number of  legal cases won for his clients. I’m very proud that blogging has been my passion for the past 6 years and counting. Apparently, it has been occupying the biggest fraction on the pie graph of my limited social life.

Documenting our family’s fun adventures from our dining table to wherever our feet lead us, so that I (and hopefully Gabby) will have something online to look back, particularly when we’re all old and gray, has been surprisingly beneficial! But over and beyond freebies and loot bags, sponsorships, invites, and yes, some recognition, the most engaging part of being a blogger, in my opinion is having the opportunity to meet people who share the same passion. Certainly a big plus when bloggers go to events, travel here and there, eat and do things they love to do together, then eventually share the experiences to their readers. Engaging. Informative. Entertaining. Interesting. Fascinating. Never boring.

Within the past 3 years of living in Penang as an Overseas Filipino Worker, it’s been a pleasure to meet fellow Filipino Bloggers beyond Philippine shores.  This post randomly enumerates our casual meetings with them in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

MALACCA, MALAYSIA

Before we checked out from our 3D2N sponsored accomodation at Quayside Hotel and Halia Inc. Restaurant & Coffee Bar on our second visit to Melaka last June 2013, Jun Baris of GalangPusa.Wordpress.Com with his charming wife, Cynthia came over to meet us for few minutes before we head back to Penang.  They were even thoughtful in bringing Gabby two packs of ChocNut as pasalubong! Thank you Jun & Cynthia!

1
2
3
Read Jun’s blog posts on his Malaysian adventures and more HERE!

PENANG, MALAYSIA

The youngest and the very first bloggers from the Philippines that we met in George Town, Penang were Lloyd of  TheLostBoyLloyd.Com and Dan of HappyWanderer.Com. I toured them for more than 6 hours within George Town to Gurney Drive during the 2012 George Town Festival. We went to Pinang Peranakan Mansion where we even witnessed a prenuptial photoshoot, strolled to Muslim’s Mosques, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu Temples which are all harmoniously existing within a few meters away. Diversity in this side of Asia isn’t only observed in religions but gastronomic delights as well. With all the rich cultures intertwined in Malaysia, it’s always a feast in almost all corners of Penang being the country’s food capital! We savored local restaurant and hawker foods to our delight! My only regret was not photographing the two for this blog. Nonetheless, I’m happy to be their half-day-tour guide in the island!

4
5
6
7
Glad to introduce my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish to them : Char Koay Teow!
8
Lloyd, Dan and I also sampled Penang’s famous desserts…
9
10
Ais Kachang, Cendol and Bubur Chacha! Sarap! Sedap!

They also spotted Lithuanian Artist, Ernest Zacharevic while working on his commissioned murals for George Town!
11
12

Dan and Lloyd, Maraming salamat sa pasalubong! Our favorite!!!
13
The visit of Lloyd and Dan to George Town blog post HERE! Read also Lloyd’s own take on their Penang experience HERE! I also suggest you visit Dan’s Happy Wanderer Blog HERE! 

Few months after, the blogger from Angono, Rizal, Anton Carranza Jr. revisited Malaysia and conquered Penang on foot in few days with his lovely wife, Teresa. They literally roamed around George Town on their own the day after I met them for dinner. I brought them to hawkers in Gurney Drive too but I thought, since they already tasted offerings from hawker stalls in Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur, it would be better if they try steamboat buffet in Seoul Garden inside Plaza Gurney Mall.

15
14
*Photo courtesy of Anton from his blog, PusangKalye.Net. Read his blog series on their Penang trip via his blog HERE!

Ivan Man Dy, the well-traveled Filipino Heritage Expert cum Tour Guide Extraordinaire and many other hats to his name has been to Penang several times even before I came to this Malaysian state to work in 2010.  We met Ivan several times in Manila but our first meeting with him in Penang was over Chicken Tandoori and Garlic Cheese Naan savored with barehands at Restoran Kapitan in Little India, George Town; blogged  HERE!

25
24
We met Ivan initially in Penang when I was a few pounds lighter and Tina hasn’t started her diet and physical regimen yet. She’ll kill me for this, hehehe!

Ivan decided to pay George Town, Penang another visit but this year, his trip was so timely on the city’s anniversary of incription as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. From our favorite local Indian-Malaysian restaurant last year, we brought Ivan to a sponsored and sumptuous Wine and Dine Dinner Buffet at no less than Sarkies at E&O Hotel; blog post HERE! 

19
20

After that Sarkies dinner, Ivan, Tina, Gabby and I went to Khoo Kongsi to watch the few moments of GTF2013. We were amazed and amused at the Taiwanese Puppet Show at the courtyard of one of the grandest clan houses in the island. We also got a chance to meet some local performers, who were all in their traditional attires.

16
17
21
18
22

Here are Ivan Man Dy’s pasalubong to us. Maraming salamat!

23
Visit Ivan Man Dy’s OldManilaWalks.Com and reserved a walking tour with him HERE!

Joey and Krissy of BoundForTwo.Com are Filipino bloggers currently based in Kuala Lumpur. We first met late last year when I visited Malaysia’s capital to renew my passport at the Philippine Embassy. We had some sushi and sashimi at a Japanese restaurant in Pavilion Mall.  Their blog post HERE!

This year, they also decided to explore Penang during George Town Festival. They stayed in the island over the weekend and Gabby and I (because Tina chose to do a ton of household chores) accompanied them to Kafe Heng Huat in Lorong Selamat where the most delicious Char Koay Teow that I’ve tasted with the most plump prawns and bowls of Ais Kachang among others are served. We also went to Thai and Burmese Buddhist Temples in Pulau Tikus, G Hotel and the famous hawkers and Plaza Gurney Mall in Gurney Drive. Like Anton and Teresa, they also toured the island by themselves before and after we met them. Thanks for the visit, Joey and Krissy!

26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

During the 2013 Blog Awards held by Ministry of Tourism where this site was awarded for two consecutive years as Best Expat Blog Award Winner, three topnotch Filipino Bloggers were flown in from the Philippines to participate as speakers in the conference held for the event. We met Tonyo Cruz, Vince Golangco and Blogie Robillo during the awarding ceremony that same night. Blog post HERE! 

17
2848
On this photo with the Honorable Tourism Malaysia Minister Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen (center wearing yellow gown) are Filipino bloggers Vince Golangco (standing second from right) of www.wheninmanila.com  , Blogie Robillo (standing second from left) of www.robilloblog.com and Tonyo Cruz (standing third from right) of tonyocruz.com.

HONG KONG

Tina, Gabby and I were invited by Hong Kong Disneyland for 3D2N sponsored trip and accomodation with full meals, together with Filipino celebrity bloggers.

ans_8622
ans_9981
ans_9184
ans_9099
ans_8374
Lesley (third from left on the photo above) of ShootFirstEatLater.Com, Gael Hilotin (eighth from left) of ThePinaySoloBackpacker.Com, Pastor Dennis Sy (next to Gael) of ActLikeAMan.Org, (next to Pastor Dennis on the photo above is his lovely wife, Thammie Sy of ThammieSy.Com and celebrity-fashion bloggers, Kryz Uy (third from right) of ThirstyThoughtByKryzUy , Robbie Becroft (behind Kryz) of RobbieOffDuty.Com and Laureen Uy (second from right) of BreakMyStyle.Com.

SINGAPORE

38
36
3735
While in Singapore and over Sufi Restaurant’s Babaganoush, Kebab on a Sword and other Mediterranean goodies, I’ve met the Nuffnang’s Asia-Pacific Award Winning Travel Blogger, Nina Fuentes of JustWandering.Org  on July 19, 2012 in Arab Street. I first met Nina on an invitational blogger’s event for Singapore Tourism Board few months prior my work in Penang started. Our Singapore casual yet tasteful dinner, blogged HERE!

And just a day after the dinner with Nina, I met a few more Filipino Bloggers in the Lion City as we were all invited to grace the 2012 Singapore Blog Awards; blog post HERE!

We were hosted by omy.sg and designated to various hotels of Far East Hospitality. I was luckily assigned to Oasia. It was fun when we attended the welcome dinner, the awarding ceremonies the following day where Noks wore that Joker costume and won over other contestatnts in superhero attires; we rode the Singapore Flyer together, and eat, laugh, eat, laugh in that happy cycle! Of  course, it was fun to meet fellow bloggers from other Southeast Asian countries; we gained friends after the event! :)

40414239
If this was the Blogging Olympics, here’s the contingent from the Philippines! (From left to right on the photo above) Brenna Bustamante of PhilippineTravelogue.Com, KC Canlas of SpreadSomeAwesome.Com, the Joker who won the Best Costume Award in SBA2012 -Noks Sosa of SiningFactory.Com (and his other blogs), and certainly not the least, Aleah of SolitaryWanderer.Com

June 2013, we met Paul Ang of the blog, MadDawgWorld.Wordpress.Com  and his cheerful and loving wife, Fran of the blog, FrannyWanny.Com who both are currently Singapore-based.

ANS_8033ANS_8080
Paul Ang (in acid blue shirt) and his better half, Fran (in pink shirt). We were invited by an inspiring Filipino achiever in Singapore and across Northeast and Southeast Asia, Dennis to a delightful Japanese Dinner in Hakumai Sushi and Omakase and French Desserts at Antoinette; blog post HERE! Dennis will kill me for posting this! Sorry, Dennis but again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for that wonderful dinner!

ANS_8074

Why did I painstakingly blog this?  

To tell the entire Universe that we, Filipino Bloggers are conquering the world and we chose to begin with our own continent. Kidding!

If you’re visiting us while we’re still here in Penang, we charge for MEET & GREET SESSION and we highly welcome pasalubong from the Philippines, JOKE!!! :P

Seriously, to all those mentioned in this long but humble post, thank you so much for taking the efforts and spending your precious time with us! Hope to see you again soon!

PS : If in any case I missed someone, kindly identify yourself, state where and when we met outside the Philippines and I’ll gladly edit this post.  Maraming salamat po!  :)

09
Jun
13

GEORGE TOWN FESTIVAL 2013 : TAKING OFF

6
Kite flying, like George Town Festival is for everyone to enjoy!

08 June 2013, Saturday, George Town, Penang.  There could never be more appropriate way to make a grand celebration soar to the heaven but to take it literally to the skies! The idea of having drums and kite making and kite flying in an incredibly massive open field, in front of Penang’s Town Hall and City Hall called, Esplanade or Padang Kota Lama, was too perfect to call people across the lifespan to gather and celebrate the official opening ceremony of  George Town Festival 2013. After all, everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity and economic status surely enjoys kites and kite flying! 

Right after spending almost half day from lunch at Queensbay Mall, my family and I trooped to Esplanade to witness the GTF 2013 official opening, aptly called, Taking Off! 

3 (4)
Town Hall, George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Photo taken July 7, 2013, Friday prior to I Musici Concert.

The night before the event, I was invited to watch I Musici Di Roma (Blog post HERE!) and before I went to the musical concert held at Diwan Sri Penang, I saw, for the first time, the larger than life art installation called, Theatre of Ships made for Penang by Indonesian artist, Joko Avianto. I was happy to bring Tina and Gabby there the following day.

3 (5)
Theatre of Ships. Larger than life installation. Inspiring!

5
Must have touristy shot! :)
3 (3)
3 (2)
3 (1)
Detail shot of Theatre of Ships. I heard more than 3500 bamboos were used to create this masterpiece!

The use of bamboos, in my opinion is a genius! This tallest of the grass species is known for being resilient at any weather, it can sway even with strongest winds and typhoons; bamboos are actually that symbolic! And to create a giant masterpiece out of it made everything even better!

I also liked the idea of involving kites as I think kites are symbolic too! Kites represent flights of many things! My family and I love kites and kite flying! My son and I flew a 5-ringgit-plastic-kite that we bought from Tesco supermarket in Penang and brought and flew it in Cenang Beach, Langkawi (Blog post HERE!). We even spent a Labor Day holiday back in 2011 in Kota Bahru, Kelantan, just to witness how moon kites, or Malaysia’s Wau Bulan are intricately made (Blog post HERE!)

wau bulan, kota bahru, kelantan 2011
We appreciated how Wau Bulan or Moon Kites are intricately made in no less than Kota Bahru, Kelantan in 2011.

It goes without saying we loved how GTF2013 opening ceremony was done.

9
7
11
10
13
Surprisingly, we saw a kite being flown from our country, the Philippines! Despite its simplicity and lack of striking and vibrant colors, it was one of the kites that soared highest against the wind that Saturday. ASEAN nations were invited to particpate in GTF 2013 opening ceremony  :)

Best of all, families of various races and ages came together one afternoon under the sun and blue sky! It was a sight to behold!

14

There were many tents around Padang Kota Lama that were put up for hawker food stalls that offer affordable local and Western food. From Penang’s famous Assam Laksa, to other noodle dishes like my favorite, Char Koay Teow and Hokien Mee and others, Indian-Malaysian sweet barquillo-like Apom Manis, to Japanese sushi, Thailand’s coconut jelly inside coconut shells and Western’s pizza and ice cream. We sampled apom manis for the very first time and liked it (not on photos). While Gabby enjoyed a small pizza we bought for him, Tina and I savored bowls of warm and satisfyingly thick and rish Shark’s Fin Soup at 3 ringgit each. Delicious! 
shark's fin george town penang
Shark fin’s soup from a hawker stall in Padang Kota Lama during the Taking Off event for GTF2013.

We went home with smiles on our faces and happy tummies! :)

>><<

For schedules of events in this month-long celebration of GTF2013 : www.georgetownfestival.com

*This is NOT a sponsored or commissioned post. Special thanks to Ms. Wanida of GTF2013. Stay tuned for features about GTF2013 on this blog!

Previous GTF on this blog includes :

08
Jun
13

I MUSICI DI ROMA AT THE OPENING OF GEORGE TOWN FESTIVAL 2013

ANS_8844
Antonio Anselmi, violin, I Musici Di Roma, being interviewed by a Penangite journalist at the backstage of Dewan Sri Pinang.

“Penang is the cultural capital of Malaysia…” these words were proudly spoken by the honorable Chief Minister of the State of Penang, Lim Guan Eng on stage of Dewan Sri Pinang, prior to the spectacular performances of Italy’s legendary string ensemble, I Musici Di Roma, that graced the opening night of George Town Festival 2013. I cannot agree more. Although I have only been working as a Medical Lecturer in Penang for 3 years and have only set foot to a few states of Malaysia, I and my family have witnessed how diversities in cultures, arts, music and tradition, not to forget, food have been constantly celebrated and promoted in this island.

The people of Penang are fortunate to have their own uniquely beautiful heritage and even more blessed to being exposed to the best of the world. Hats off to the efforts exerted by the men and women behind George Town Festival 2013, particularly Joe Sidek who has been religious in bringing culture and the arts accessible to Penangites and to the rest of the people of Penang, including us, expatriates and foreign workers.

antonio anselmi, i musici di roma
Genius! The hands and violin of I Musici Di Roma leader, Antonio Anselmi, backstage Dewan Sri Pinang

07 June 2013, Friday, George Town, Penang. The annual and month-long celebration of the inscription of George Town, Penang as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites officially kicked off with a grand opening night! Before the incredibly memorable musical concert of I Musici, there was the launch of Secret Gardens of Earthly Delights that features the larger than life, bamboo sculture of Indonesian artist, Joko Avianto called, Theatre of Ships (that this blog will feature on succeeding posts) and Fireflies at River Lalang, held at the Town Hall.

Before 8:30PM, everyone was led to Diwan Sri Pinang for the much anticipated musical concert of one of the world’s greatest performers, I Musici. The renowed musicians from Italy were honored with Brand Laureate Award by YAB CM of Penang and a precious memento of a literally framed gold CD was presented to TYT Governor of Penang. Those moments made the prelude to the concert lovelier.

I consider myself lucky to be part of the audience as one of the media men to cover the event, even more privileged to be escorted to a quick photo opportunity with THE I MUSICI backstage few minutes before they went on stage.

Here are the photos I took as the Italian genius musician, Antonio Anselmi was being interviewed by a Penangite journalist….

i musici di roma's antonio anselmiantonio anselmi, i musici, penang
Antonio Anselmi, violin, being interviewed at Dewan Sri Pinang, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

i musici
i musici
Roberto Gambioli, contrabbasso, backstage, Dewan Sri Pinang, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

I MUSICI has been existing since their successful public debut in 1952 when they started the group’s astonishing career at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Roma. They have toured the world at most famous international festivals and played intense concert activities in prestigious theaters and concert halls such as the Spring Festival in Budapest, the Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre in New York, the Symphony Hall, the Philharomonie in Berlin and many more. The 12-men-cast includes :

  • Antonio Anselmi, violin
  • Pasquale Pellegrino, violin
  • Gianluca Apostoli, violin
  • Francesa Vicari, violin
  • Marco Serino, violin
  • Ettore Pellegrino, violin
  • Silvio Di Rocco, viola
  • Francesco Buccarella, hapsichord and piano
  • Roberto Gambioli, bass
  • Vito Paternoster, cello
  • Massimo Paris, viola
  • Pietro Bosna, cello

i musici

Their stunning performance in Diwan Sri Pinang for GTF2013 included Italian classical pieces :

  • Giocchino Rossini’s Ouverture from the Barber from Seville (transcription for strings by V. Gambaro)
  • Niccolo Paganini’s Variations on the IV string on a theme from Mose in Egypt  by G. Rossini
  • Guiseppe Verdi’s Traviata – Preludio Atto
  • Gioacchino Rossini’s Une Larme for cello and strings
  • Pietro Mascagni’s Intermezzo da Cavalleria Rusticana
  • Giuseppe Verdi’s Sinfonia from II Nabucco   AND
  • Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons performed passionately by Antonio Anselmi with I Musici

i musici
ANS_8902
ANS_8877ANS_8858
ANS_8864
Pietro Bosna (center), cello, after his incredible rendition of Une Larme for cello & strings by Gioacchino Rossini  

ANS_8860
ANS_8883
ANS_8872
Intervallo. During 15-minute-interval.

ANS_8814
ANS_8816
ANS_8820
ANS_8825ANS_8835
THE brain and the smile behind Penang’s George Town Festival, Joe Sidek.

My most favorite part of the show was Antonio Anselmi’s passionate performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s classic, The Four Seasons. It was beyond auditory feast!  

I am in awe with talents and abilities to make extraordinary things look easy. I Musici performed beyond my greatest expectations. They redefined culture to me and reintroduced my pair of vestibulocochlear nerves to the classical Italian music appreciation. Their elegant, dynamic, whimsical, powerful and dramatic musical performance on stage of Diwan Sri Pinang was a fitting welcome to usher everyone to this year’s George Town Festival. Bravo, I Musici! Bravo, GTF2013!

>><<

For schedules of events in this month-long celebration of GTF2013 : www.georgetownfestival.com

Know more of I Musici Di Roma on their website : imusicidiroma.com

*Photos on this blog post were taken before and after the performance of I Musici

*This is NOT a sponsored or commissioned post. Special thanks to Ms. Wanida of GTF2013. Stay tuned for features about GTF2013 on this blog!

Previous GTF on this blog includes :

 

07
Jun
13

FROM MANILA TO MALAYSIA

From Manila to Malaysia!

Culture, architecture and traditional multi-ethnic dining in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

July 4-8, 2013

We’re in love with this northern city in Penang Island, Malaysia and we like it so much that we are sharing what we love about this place to you.

Old Manila Walks together with our travel partner Global Holidays and travel guru IvanHenares brings to you our favorites in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Georgetown and of course food! Best of all, our visit is timed on the weekend of the Georgetown Festival when the city’s multi-ethnic communities- Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan and more come out in full force to celebrate Penang’s multicultural mix through the arts and performances. It’s one big cultural fiesta! Join us as we immerse ourselves and eat our way to Malaysia’s Pearl of the Orient!

ANS_8577INDIAN EYESJune 2012 GT
Char Koay Teow, Penang

Rate: USD$435.00/head (based on twin-sharing). Single supplement available (extra)

Inclusions: Transport within Geogetown, Guided Tour, Site Entrances , (select) Meals,

Others/Extra : Book your own flight

July 4, 2013 (Thursday)  06:25-09:50 MNL to SIN via Cebu Pacific 5J801 (optional)

                                     15:05-16:35 SIN to PEN via Jetstar 3K675 (required)

July 7, 2013 (Sunday) 17:15 – 18:40 SIN to PEN via Jetstar 3K676

July 8, 2013 (Monday) 00:40-04:05 SIN – MNL via Cebu Pacific 5J804

Detailed IT upon request

Step by step,

Ivan Man Dy
Old Manila Walks | email : fun@oldmanilawalks.com |  www.oldmanilawalks.com 

“Your First Step to Knowing Manila!” Join Old Manila Walks’ community at Facebook, be a fan!

(Read: I’m one of their biggest fans!)
 
ANS_0720ANS_3365ANS_0484ANS_0533

07
May
13

COUNTING BLESSINGS ON MY 6TH BLOGGING YEAR

08 May 2013. Wednesday.

Beyond Toxicity @ docgelo.com officially turns 6 years old today!

*applause! applause! bow!*

I’m not throwing any blog contest or giveaways but simply celebrating it with sincerest gratitude to my few loyal readers particularly those who have been writing comments on my posts through the years unconditionally.

Thank you very much! Maraming salamat po! Terima Kasih! Xie xie!

Ushering this blog’s 7th year is a list of exciting BLESSINGS this May 2013 and more pleasant ones to come!

*drum roll, please!*

  • Nomination in the 2013 Singapore Blog Awards in 4 blog categories (Best Lifestyle Blog, Best Individual Blog, Best Family Blog & Best Travel Blog). Thank you very much! List of finalists to be announced in mid-June. Awarding ceremony on July 6, 2013. At stake along with recognition, prizes and freebies is a fully sponsored trip to Northern Territories, Australia! I want to win! I want to win!!! However, as 30 % of the judging criteria will be coming from public votes, will you support and vote for my blog if and when it gets in the finalists’ list?  *crossed fingers* :)

singapore blog awards

  • Nomination in 2013 Tatt Awards, Globe Tattoo, Philippines (Best Photo Blog or Microblog).  List of finalists to be announced mid-June. At stake is recognition and PhP 50,000 cash prize for the Regular Blog Category. Just like in 2013 Singapore Blog Awards, I’m very thankful for the nomination and I’m hoping for the best to be in the finalists’ roll. Once in, your votes will be needed for this blog to win.  I want to win! I want to win!!! :) But if it’s not for me, I’ll still take pride in being nominated this year. To God be the Glory!

tatt awards 2013

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored 3D2N accomodation at one of the five 123sqm-Corner Suites at the newest Victory Annexe Wing of the luxury-5-star-hotel, E&O Hotel Penang for hotel review and blog feature, May 2013

e&0

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored dinner at 1885 fine dining restaurant in E&O Hotel Penang for restaurant review & blog feature, May 2013

1885

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored 3D2N accomodation in Hotel Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen, Singaprore, May 2013

ibis on bencoolen

  • Invitation for Tina, Gabby and I to a sponsored 2 day-access to theme parks of choice by iVenture Card, Singapore, May 2013

iventure card

  • Last year, one of my photos landed on the pages of Postcards on Lonely Planet Asia magazine…

July 2012 LP

  • And for this year, the Associate Editor of Lonely Planet Asia emailed me recently that one of my photos of the Long Neck Women from Padaung Tribe in Myanmar who are currently refugees in Chiang Mai (blog post HERE!will grace one of the Postcard pages of Lonely Planet Asia on its July/August issue. Big deal enough for the non-pro/amateur photo-enthusiast in me! :)
  • And of course, I am still euphoric for winning the 2013 and 2012 Best Expat Blog Award from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and all that happened concerning this blog last year (blog post HERE!)

2013 best expat blog awards docgelo

Thank you so much to those people who are happy when we are happy!

My greatest appreciation goes out to those who nominated this site to those blog awards, to our few but very generous sponsors, to those who tirelessly recommend me and my family to our sponsors and of course, to those who continously express love and support, I cannot thank you enough. God bless all of us more!  Mabuhay po kayo! Maraming salamat! :)

21
Mar
13

TORBRECK VERTICAL WINE DINNER AT MACALISTER MANSION, PENANG

My entire experience that evening at the Macalister Mansion, Penang could be summarized into one word. Engaging.  The evening was defined not only by epicurean indulgence and luxurious wines but casual and fun interactions with fascinating people who became an instant personal inspiration.

ANS_1001

I was honored and pleased to be invited as the only blogger by the sophisticated and incredibly charming lifestyle destination in George Town, Penang, the  Macalister Mansion. The event’s invitation came perfect to end a tiring week at work, as receiving it on a Friday afternoon surprisingly made me look forward to a Monday! How often do you wish for Monday to come soon? Despite the short notice, I gave it a nod with a bright green light; it was that irresistible! Anticipating for Monday had never been that thrilling! :D

ANS_0963ANS_0958
The Torbreck Vertical Wine Dinner last 18th March 2013 was hosted by one of the finest exports from Australia, Torbreck Wines and Macalister Mansion, the newest boutique hotel in Pulau Pinang that’s intricately restored to maintain its rich heritage of being an English Mansion, fused with contemporary designs that transformed it into a stylish food & beverage outlets within an 8-room-hotel.

If you must know, back in the last month of 2012, my family and I initially fell in love with Macalister Mansion and chose it to be the venue where our family portraits were taken (blog posts here & here). Not long after, it felt so special just to experience this tasteful elegance again.

First priority when I arrived at Macalister Mansion that Monday night : to know where to go and who to go with. I was told the guests were having cocktails at the Bagan Bar.

Bagan Bar 2
Bagan Bar, Macalister Mansion
Bagan Bar 1
ANS_0947

Amidst sleek interiors and low lights, it didn’t take a minute for me to recognize few familiar faces -there’s a chef from Czech Republic whom my family and I met recently. I was so flattered while he was showing my blog via his iphone to his friends (what an introduction!), and of course, I was glad to see again the one who did our family portraits last year whom I considered as one of the most brilliant young Malaysian photographers in Penang, Sunny Tan! He generously shared one of his precious captures that night; Thank you, Sunny!

IMG_8793
*With Director & Owners of Macalister Mansion, Dato’ Sean H’ng (far left) and his wife, Datin Karen H’ng. With us is Australian Export Director of Torbreck Wines, Andrew Tierney. Photo taken by by Sunny Tan.

After those Bagan Bar-moments, everyone was ushered to Macalister Mansion’s Dining Room.

Its immaculate and almost poetic interiors is an absolute visual treat! It’s stunningly beautiful!

ANS_1005ANS_1008
ANS_0998

It wasn’t my first time to see the Dining Room but it was difficult not to marvel in awe once more! Unbelievably, such quaint place exists in Penang!

ANS_0993
ANS_1026
ANS_1032
*The fantastic dinner was opened by AsiaEuro Regional Sales Manager, William Chong and brief but interesting talk about Torbreck Wines and its history was done by Andrew Tierney; both sat on the same table I was assigned.

The 6 Torbreck wines. The 6 gourmet courses creatively prepared by Macalister Mansion’s very own, Chef Lance. The new friends I’ve met. The fun filled talks about wines, food, travels and whatnot in my table. Every minute, delightful!

ANS_1049
*Amuse Bouche paired with Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010.

What a crisp and refreshing start! I was in Nirvana in a heart beat!

ANS_1055
*Bergamot Smoked Salmon, Beetroot Dye, Thai Cucumber Pickle, Avruga Caviar & Olive Soil paired with Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010.

Given the fact that I’m a huge fanatic of anything-salmon, plus this appetizer was prepared smoked, and wrapped with thin strips of pickled cucumber; I almost forgot my name, baby!  Then it was paired with the very fruity and subtle Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010. A match made in heaven!

ANS_1085
*Know more about Australia’s Torbreck Wines via www.torbreck.com.

Wine and food pairing was brought to a higher level when the next plate was served. Drum roll, please!

Torchon of Foie Gras, Crumble, Gastrique Pearls
*Torchon of Foie Gras, Crumble, Gastrique Pearls paired with Torbreck Cuvee Juveniles 2011.

This plate of foie gras was too gorgeous to eat, it took me several minutes after staring aimlessly, to start savoring its rich flavor. Beautiful!

Perhaps, the only little disappointment on the menu according to my palates was THIS.

ANS_1135
ANS_1134
*Veloute of Spinach Soup, Hay Smoked Black Lip Mussel, Creme Fraiche, Pommes Brunoise and White Truffle Oil paired with Torbreck Cuvee Jeveniles 2011.

So much drama was put to the presentation of this seafood-spinach soup but unfortunately, fell flat on my tastebuds. I’m not that familiar with French cuisine and I truly appreciated Chef Lance’s efforts but I can only imagine if instead of spinach, a creamy and velvety pumpkin soup was poured on my bowl instead. Or probably, I’m just partial to my wishful thinking.

The time to cleanse the palate came.

ANS_1210
*Sorbet. We’re guessing that night if it’s cranberry. One can tell easily.

Have I told you the service at the Macalister Mansion’s impeccable? The multicultural wait staff had a ready smile that night; everyone’s quick and efficient. Good job!  After finishing my sorbet, I was asked by one of them of the main dish I prefer. It was choice between :

Pan Seared Halibut, Savoy Cabbage, Gold Miso & Cauliflower Floret
*Pan Seared Halibut, Savoy Cabbage, Gold Miso and Cauliflower Floret.

and

Chargrilled Wagyu Oyster Blade
*Chargrilled Wagyu Oyster Blade, Creme Fraiche Polenta, Carrot Puree, Grilled Cauliflower and Perigueux Syrup.

I had the beef instead of the fish not because the former’s better than the latter; as a matter of fact, guests were raving for the fish plate! However, I had a nice salmon-appetizer already, so I thought it’s but logical to try the meat dish which, in my opinion complemented the Torbreck wines effortlessly! Tender, nicely grilled, flavorful Wagyu. I loved it! :D

ANS_1163
ANS_1253
ANS_1141

Torbreck ‘The Struie’ 2010.

Torbreck Descendant 2008.

Torbreck Run Rig 2007.

I’m no wine connoisseur but I know my palates so well. Between Torbreck ‘The Struie’ 2010 and Torbreck Descendant 2008 which are Shiraz, I like the Descendant more. While Torbreck Run Rig, despite it’s only 6 years to date and a suggestion to the wine maker, Andrew was raised by my tablemates, that with 2 more years, Run Rig will be so much better tasting, it’s the most aromatic and dense among the wines served that night.

ANS_1070
ANS_1165
ANS_1310
ANS_1258

Great food, vivid wines, wonderful ambience, commendable service and most specially, fascinating people. Excellent combination.

ANS_1218
*Torbreck Run Rig 2007. 

Just when I thought I might be feel alienated by going to this event solo, serendipitously, I was assigned to sit beside this pleasant German lady, Evelyn.

Evelyn, German, guest MM

“I’m sorry, Gelo but WHAT IS A BLOG?” Evelyn asked me.  Then she burst into infectious laughter and from then on the great food, vivid wines, wonderful ambience, commendable service and most specially, fascinating people, those excellent combination was made livelier with my fun-filled chat with Evelyn.

Who would have thought that I’d meet a German woman who came with her equally friendly husband, Klaus, who’d tell me that they lived in my country, the Philippines for 8 years since 1963? Evelyn spoke how she and Klaus miss their lives in the Philippines. In between Torbreck wines and Chef Lance’s masterpiece plates, I’ve listened to Evelyn when she shared a bit of their interesting stories about Martial Law in my country duing those times, and on a lighter note, they professed how they miss Philippine mangoes and pineapples and how they enjoyed their home in San Lorenzo Village in Makati and their holidays in Cebu. Who would have thought that two souls from this awesome event could speak so much about the country where I am from? Amazing!

ANS_1242

Must have desserts.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the most uniquely delicious jam I’ve tasted. No, it’s not Durian! ;)

ANS_1240
*Brie, Jackfruit Jam and Sable Breton.

Don’t be fooled with the simplicity of the plate. The tug of war between the saltiness of the cheese with that sublime sweetness of Jackfruit jam was one of the many reasons why this event’s memorable!

While I enjoyed Brie, Jackfruit Jam and Sable Breton, the next dessert plate was even better!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Bitter Chocolate Ganache & Praline
*Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Bitter Chocolate Ganache and Praline paired with Torbreck ‘The Bothie’ 2011.

The sweet and chilled, bitter and salted and textured flavors simply overwhelmed my palates. I loved it!!!

ANS_1288
*Petit Four.

Simple and sweet ending that brought me back to my senses. I wasn’t in heaven, yet. Not yet.

ANS_1300
Macalister Mansion, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

*Special thanks to Macalister Mansion for the invitation. I am eternally grateful. :)

>><<

Macalister Mansion

228 Macalister Road, 10400 Penang, Malaysia | website : www.macalistermansion.com

>><<

17
Mar
13

SARKIES’ SEAFOOD BUFFET DINNER EXTRAVAGANZA @ EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG

*Allow me to begin this FOOD PORN blog post with a SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL DISCOUNT GIVEAWAY! Readers of this blog who are in Penang, Malaysia from March to April 2013 are entitled for a great deal at Sarkies’ Chef Petr’s Catch Seafood Buffet Dinner Extravaganza at Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang.  All you need to do is to print this banner
petr catch online promo 300x300px FA
and show this blog post’s URL :
(http://docgelo.com/2013/03/17/sarkies-seafood-buffet-dinner-extravaganza-eastern-oriental-hotel-penang/), then arrange an early reservation with E&O Hotel at contact #s +604-222 2000 ext 3601 | 3602 before 24th April 2013 and you can avail to dine in with a discounted rate of RM80 ++/pax (adult) and RM 38++/child
Happening every Wednesdays until last week of April 2013, this offer from Sarkies is limited to first 80 people who will reserve for the dinner. One printout of the banner per one diner only. Terms & conditions apply.
I remember on my very first days after my arrival to work in Penang from the Philippines back in 2010, Eastern & Oriental Hotel, a luxury heritage-all-suite hotel in George Town was one of the very few spots in the island that I came to know about. Being one of the landmarks in Penang located by the glorious bay, I have been fascinated with its sophisticated and historic charm.

8

Fast forward to 3 years after of being an Overseas Filipino Worker in this side of Malaysia, it was truly a pleasure to be invited with my wife, Tina and our son, Gabby to Sarkies’ Chef Petr’s Catch Seafood Buffet Dinner Extravaganza last 13th March 2013, Wednesday. My family and I enjoyed not only the eat-all-you-want-seafood-and more from Sarkies but Tina & Gabby also took time to appreciate the elegance that defines E&O Hotel with me. We all had a grand time!

7
ANS_0372
ANS_0358
ANS_0348
ANS_0363

Of course, TEAM DOCGELO had a wonderful time capturing the moments on lens prior to the main event! Tee hee! :D

5

Now, let’s get down to business. Before you continue reading this post and scrolling down, you must know the drill. Be ready first with a tall glass of cold water and promise yourself not to drool, hehe! :) Here’s a rundown of this one of a kind dining experience offered at Sarkies at E&O. Feast your eyes! Enjoy!!!
ANS_0500
ANS_0483
ANS_0474
ANS_0390
ANS_0393

The seafood appetizers were remarkable! My captures were probably incomplete from what’s on the spread but I’d like to showcase what I can recommend. I loved that delicately delicious salmon topped with caviar, thinly sliced scrambled eggs and fine green garnishing; my palates also admired those seafood canapes and those slices of freshest Norwegian salmon sashimi! The sashimi & sushi (yes, there’s a few sushi rolls too!) monster-in-me was so happy! There’s also that Duo of Gravlax that’s not to be missed from this buffet at Sarkies. Some people may find it a bit salty but that’s what gravlax is all about. There must be a tug-of-war between saltiness & sweetness on it. I liked it actually!

ANS_0411
ANS_0416
ANS_0406
ANS_0464

Imported & freshest seafoods galore! Alaskan Snow Crab Claws, Oyster on Ice, Poached Black Mussels that appeared to me as yin & yang as they’re put side-by-side with the more common mussels and there’s also Boiled River Cray Fish that I missed but Tina was able to sample. Other than what’s on my photos, there’s also Oyster Omelette, Marinated Cuttlefish, Seasoned Squid, Black Sesame Salad, Deep Fried Snow Crab Claws and a lot more.

Have I told you it’s not only seafood dishes that lorded the buffet spread? There’s actually something for everyone! If you fancy Roasted Duck (Yummy! check out my plates as you scroll down!), Chicken Satay, Beef and Lamb chops, a variety of seafoods to grill on the teppan, a few seafood like prawns and veggies cooked with sauces, a Noodle Station and more! You have to check it yourself if you have the chance.  :)

Meanwhile, after you’ve taken a glance of some portions of the spread, here’s a shameless display of our delicious plates :

3
2
1
4
ANS_0592
ANS_0609

There may be some dishes that my family and I were expecting that weren’t there, like Baked Mussels (we want it buttery and cheesy), Buttered & Garlic Prawns, Lobster, Sweet and Sour Grouper and at least some local Malaysian dishes. Nonetheless we’re grateful and satisfied with everything! As a matter of fact, when I was asked by Criz who invited all of us for this event, I told him & the blogger-friends on our table that I almost forgot my name as I was very satiated!

While Tina was pleased at how the Lamb was roasted that perfectly complemented with its sauce, Gabby and I preferred the Beef from the Carving Station. Very tender and flavorful, Gabby and I had more than one servings each! The Roasted Duck was also commendable! It’s delicious too sans mushroom sauce!

ANS_0667
*Gabby on his second plate of the Roasted Beef. Obviously, he ate with feelings! Hehehe!

One of the highlights of the evening was meeting Chef Petr of Sarkies at E&O. He was so friendly and accomodating to be photographed! I loved this photo as it captures the Chef and our very own Chef-Hotelier-Restaurateur-wannabe (so help me, God!)!

ANS_0485

An eat-all-you-want is incomplete without desserts.  Sarkies at E&O perfectly knows that and these are their current offerings.

ANS_0626
*If you must know, this photo was taken by my lovely wife, Tina. Applause! I’m proud of her!!!

Over and beyond the gastronomic feast and its sweet ending, I loved how Tina savored the moments photographing her plates. She took turns in using her ipod and our SLR. I know she had fun capturing what we ate as she’s one of those foodies now on Instagram (follow her @ teenasantos on Ig).

Here’s my dessert plate :

6

And here’s Tina’s that she shared with Gabby :

ANS_0634
ANS_0635

Some of those are fractions of these :
ANS_0552
ANS_0524
ANS_0553
ANS_0426
*This is a portion of Sarkies’ Dessert-Christmas-Tree-in-Mid-March! :)

ANS_0423
*Incredibly fantastic presentation, although I wished the doughnuts were softer.

Ambiance and service were impeccable! Our glasses were refilled with either warm or chilled water without prompting. The overall dining atmosphere and experience were classy yet comfortable and not intimidating.

ANS_0568

Great food, excellent service, fine ambiance, good laughs, good friends.

ANS_0623
*On our table : With Malaysian Bloggers all in black! What’s with black, lah? Hehehe! Oops, someone was wearing ecru! She’s one of our nicest Malaysian Blogger-friends, Emily of www.millymin.com.

Must facilitate peristalsis with coffee (not on photo) after fibrous fruits.
ANS_0656

Interestingly, we met managers of Sarkies and of them even proudly said that he married a Filipina and has been to some places in our country upon learning that the three of us there are from the Philippines.

After having cups of coffee and exchange of chats with our fellows, we bid goodbye to Sarkies and thanked the famous foodie Malaysian Blogger, Criz Lai for inviting us. It was another memorable family-food-fun adventure for Tina, Gabby and I! :D

SARKIES’ CHEF PETR’S CATCH SEAFOOD BUFFET DINNER EXTRAVAGANZA | Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang | Every Wednesday until last week of April 2013 | 7PM to 10:30PM

Regular prices at RM 110 ++(adult), RM 48++ (child).

Here are the other Dining Offerings at E&O Hotel Penang :
promo

eastern and oriental hotel penang
eastern & oriental hotel penang
eastern & oriental hotel penang

MARAMING SALAMAT ~ TERIMA KASIH ~ THANK YOU VERY MUCH to :

>><<

12
Mar
13

A VISIT TO ORPHANAGES IN PENANG : PART 3

Inside the bus, en route to our third and last destination for the day and while passing through cemeteries, we’re told that we needed to get off to walk a few meters because of the narrower roads cannot accomodate the big bus. The matter wasn’t an issue for those who wanted to reach out. No one complained. There were no signs of fatigue, neither exhaustion despite it has been a long day. We arrived at  Penang Shan Children’s Home with smiles on our faces. :)

ANS_8023
Look at that ear-to-ear-smile! His first time, I think to see a goat, up close! Momentous!
ANS_8022
ANS_8027
ANS_8028
ANS_8033
Few minute-of-walk-after, we arrived at the orphanage.
ANS_8034
ANS_8039
ANS_8038
ANS_8041
Here’s the board at Shan’s where they post a list of their daily needs. Let’s help them, please!
ANS_8068
ANS_8053
I salute all the Malaysian blogger-volunteers that day who did not only feed the children with Subway sandwiches & Chatime milk teas but spent precious time getting to know them. Time, indeed, is something priceless that one can generously share.
ANS_8059

Personally, I’d like to express my gratitude to the sponsors of this worthwhile activity, Chatime Malaysia and Subway Sandwiches Penang (Suntech, iAvenue & Leith Street) that fed the children in the orphanages and all of us volunteers, Ninetology that gave iPad units to the orphanages for the children to be abreast with modern technology and the organizers and my fellow blogger-volunteers; Termia Kasih! You are all INSPIRING!
ANS_7868
ANS_7991
ANS_7870
ANS_8073 - Copy

Few days after, our volunteerism landed on local and online news.

Thank you very much!

We hope to MOTIVATE more people to help, volunteer, donate & participate in any little way they can.

docgelo on malaysian newspaper
*Complete news on The Star online HERE!

Penang Shan Children’s Home Association | 679-D, Jalan Mount Erskine, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia | Tel: +604-2292186 / +6016-4127711 | Fax: +604-2292186

email: shanchildrenhomepg@yahoo.com

*This blog post is part of the series that includes :

Again, thank you to the sponsors of this worthwhile activity :

>><<

07
Mar
13

2013 MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD!

2013 March 6th, Wednesday.

2013 Malaysia International Tourism Conference & Blog Awards | MITBCA

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Beyond Toxicity @ docgelo.com is named

2013 Best Expat-Malaysia-My-Second-Home-Blog Award Winner!

BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013
Awarding the trophy was the honorable Tourism Malaysia Minister Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen

The scene was surreal. Almost deja vu of what happened last year…

May 2012 BlogAwards
2012 MITBCA blog post HERE!!!

It’s truly an honor to receive another recognition for this personal passion, particularly of which 80% came from public voting. I cannot be grateful enough to all those who follow and read this site since I started this virtual home back in 2007 in the Philippines, to those who remain loyal readers and commenters after we have moved to Penang, Malaysia to work and of course, thank you to those who voted for my blog to win last year and this year’s MITBCA! Your support is absolutely priceless!

Terima Kasih to Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and all the people behind MITBCA for appreciating and lifting the spirits of movers of Tourism and bloggers in Malaysia in general. Awards like this is certainly inspiring and motivating!  Maraming Salamat po at Mabuhay po kayo!   

Similar to last year’s event, MITBCA offered two-day-bloggers conference for free, but because I chose to limit my absences from work in Penang, I decided to attend the awards night and skipped the meeting of the like-minds and international movers in social media including a bunch of fellow Filipino bloggers. That was a wrong move from me. I could’ve learned so much from them but to regret is futile. Nonetheless, I met them in the Gala Dinner & Awards Night that was far better than last year’s. Proof that collective efforts have been put just to nail this year’s success of MITBCA! Kudos to everyone involved! The ceremony was nothing short of fantastic! :)

ANS_9626

The venue was bigger and more sophisticated. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, no less!
1

I arrived of course, with TEAM DOCGELO; who else but my loving wife, Tina & our bundle of joy and pride, Gabby!

2
3
4
05
5
6

We’re so happy to meet again Ms. Emila Yusof of emilayusof.com, two-time-winner of Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog Award from MITBCA and who happens to be the Malaysian Illustrator and Children’s Book Author who custom-made my very own blog header! I am one of his huge fans and she remains an inspiration!

7
8

After the cocktail, came the Gala Dinner & Awards Night proper. The mood inside the venue was festive!
9
10
11
12
13
14
The view from where we sat.

0
15
16
17

Drum roll, please! Let the show begin! :)
18
20
19

The honorable people behind the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Social Media Chamber and MITBCA shared engaging and powerful words about the reasons of our gathering.
22
22

Beautiful and talented Malaysian performers lorded the stage!
23
24
25
26
27
28
29

While local entertainers were doing their great parts on stage, we were busy dunking our forks and scooping our spoons to the delightful dinner they prepared. There were visual and gastronomic treats! It was a complete sensory feast!

30
31
32
33
34

Speakers in the Bloggers’ Conference were awarded by plaques; I wished I captured them all.
Here’s Malaysian Celebrity Chef (second from left of the photo below), Nik Michael Imran…
35

And the speakers from where I came from, the Philippines! Here’s Vince Golangco (second from left on the photo below) of www.wheninmanila.com.

36

Blogie Robillo (second from left of the photo below) of www.robilloblog.com

37

Tonyo Cruz (second from left of the photo below)  of tonyocruz.com

38
48
49

It was flattering when one of my fellow Filipino Bloggers shouted, MABUHAY! when my name was called as one of the winners, even overwhelming when Tonyo Cruz himself, told me, “kinikilabutan kami to see someone in Barong on stage” (kindly seek Google Translate, thank you!)

BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013
39
40
41
42
43
44

Blogger-winners included Best Tourism Travel Blogger, Squall Chin of www.wretch.cc/blog/squallczk whom I first met in Singapore Blog Awards last 2012.

45

And again, Ms. Emila Yusof of emilayusof.com, winner once more of Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog Award. Bravo!

46
For complete list of winners, visit www.mitbca.com.

47
50
51
53
54
55
56
57

More than the awards and recognition, I thank the Lord for my loving and supportive family!

They’re my LIFE!  I love you, honey! I love you, Gabby!

58

After the wonderful awards night, we walked a few steps to pay homage again to Malaysia’s magnificence, what else but the Petronas Twin Towers. En route, we dropped by Aquaria…

59
60

And just before midnight, our eyes set on those incredibly stunning twins again!

61
62
63
64

Malaysia, Thank you very much for everything!

To God be the Glory!

>><<

05
Jan
13

OUR 9TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

8th January 2013.

Tuesday.

Cristina and I are not celebrating our 9th Wedding Anniversary with wine and sweet words

but simply with Gabby and togetherness.

Family_007

Happy 9th Anniversary, ‘ney! I love you and Gabby!

Family_046
Family_059Family_065Family_039
Family_062Family_071
Family_011
family photo 2
family photo
Family_029
Family_026
1
Family_043
Family_045Family_056Family_041
Family_036
Family_024
Family_013
Family_058
Family_010Family_001
Family_051
Family_068
Family_005

*All photos on this post were taken by ace Malaysian photographer, Sunny Tan at the Macalister Mansion, George Town, Penang, Malaysia last December 1st, 2012. Tina, Gabby and I commissioned the ever easy-to-work-with & friendly, Sunny to do our portraits and we’re so grateful for his expertise. Thank you very much, Sunny!

Visit Sunny Tan’s websites at www.sunnysan.com |  Happy Family By Sunnysan |  sunnysanphotography .

*Our wedding photos, love story, etcetera, etcetera, click HERE!

>><<

03
Jan
13

HOLIDAY FEASTS

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

 

>><<

Celebrated Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dinner inside our room in JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur (and before eyebrows reach the penthouse and rooftops, we got the promo-rate for this deluxe room with free buffet breakfast months prior the Yuletide season).

ANS_4334

Tina phoned the concierge and asked for goblets, cake cutter, some saucers and forks. Luck was indeed with us because everything was provided free of charge.

ANS_4293
From Mercato grocery at the basement of Pavilion Mall, we bought an affordable chilled white wine from Australia and a chocolate-flavored milk for Gabby and one of the most decadent chocolate cakes we had was purchased from a bakeshop called, Lavander. Et voila! Our family’s Noche Buena! :D

ANS_4309
Back in our current home in Butterworth, Penang,  Media Noche or New Year’s Eve dinner was simply savored.  Although without conscious efforts, it was apparent that we did not deviate from the usual Filipino tradition to prepare round and circle things on the dining table to symbolize good fortune, joy and prosperity in welcoming the New Year. We trooped to the grocery on the late morning of December 31st and joined the shopping rush. We had some fruits (although it’s customary, we didn’t have the complete 13 round fruits to represent 12 prosperous months and an extra), and on the last minute, Tina decided to prepare sushi all from scratch.
ANS_6188
A few round fresh fruits, the classic fruit salad, some round cheese pita and some round and homecooked sushi sans the use of a sushi mat (we didn’t find any in the grocery!) all washed  down by Orange drink and our New Year’s Eve dinner was done. Odd combination, I know but it worked for the three of us! :)

ANS_6230

Believe it or not, we already spent a Holiday feast for only fifty pesos back in 2009 (blog post HERE!).

img_6700

Fastforward to 2013 again, we welcomed the New Year with high hopes and spirits at the comfort of our 11th floor apartment in Penang. Although we spent a little more than 50 pesos this time, what matters most isn’t the cost of anything but the happiness of being together as a family. Moments were priceless!
ANS_6256
ANS_6287
ANS_6274
ANS_6258

From our tiny porch, we enjoyed few minutes of fireworks from George Town across the bay and the highway right in front of our apartment.

ANS_6365

We’re grateful to the Lord for all the blessings- big & small that He has been showering us! We don’t have everything but there are a ton of reasons to be thankful for! We remain appreciative of the fact that Tina, Gabby and I are together in our work place here in Penang and we know it’s already a huge blessing that not all Overseas Filipino Worker could enjoy. :D

Happy New Year, everyone!

>><<

31
Dec
12

OUR CHRISTMAS MASQUERADE LUNCH BUFFET AT SHOOK!

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

*Warning : This is another visual overload. You know the drill before you drool. I suggest you get yourself a tall glass of iced water prior reading this post and salivate involuntarily. lol 

>><<

25 December 2012. Christmas Day. Feast Village, Starhill Gallery, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

00

Tina, Gabby and I had the grandest Christmas Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur and we hope you enjoyed yours too! We spent Christmas eve in a deluxe room in JW Mariott Hotel and savored our simple Noche Buena feast and a satisfying breakfast buffet meal at Shook! (both deserve a seperate blog posts). We were given the privilege of late check out at 2PM but we managed to settle everything at 12noon and went back to Shook! to grace their Masquerade Christmas Day Lunch Buffet!

1

This gastronomic experience is nothing short of spectacular! Of all the eat-all-you-want feasts we enjoyed from the Philippines to Malaysia, Shook! Christmas Masquerade Buffet Lunch at Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang (which literally means, ‘star hill’) is the most fantastic, stellar and stunning, certainly entertaining, lavishly fascinating gastronomic experience to date with all those scrumptious spread of Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Italian, Continental cuisines perfectly paired with free-flowing champagne (we passed up the bottomless champagne and opted to wash everything down with Evian water)!  Shook! offers this splendid theatrical buffet every Sunday but for us who currently live more than 300km from Kuala Lumpur, we’re thankful for the chance that we had it on the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas! What a great time and reason for such indulgence!

ANS_4411

I spoke to Mr. Raj, one of the main men behind Shook! in Feast Village and he proudly told me all those holiday decors and pretty ornaments were prepared by the staff themselves. Bravo for such efforts! They creatively set the ambiance and the mood for everyone’s enjoyment. Even the tiniest details on the tables were not overlooked. What a visual and digestive feast it was! :)

ANS_4425ANS_4495

“The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.

~CS Lewis

ANS_45826ANS_4543

Apart from the buffet spread, diners had the opportunity of choosing entrees on the menu; we selected one for each of us. Clockwise from top photo : Tina opted to try a beef dish that was pleasantly plated while I didn’t miss the chance of having seafoods and that Shook’s award winning dish that I sampled last November when they generously invited me for a tasting tour at selected restaurants in Feast Village, the Dancing Prawn. Gabby’s choice was predictable and classic; he had his favorite, Ebi Tempura that seemed like all coated with batter but were all nibbled by Gabby so I guess it successfully passed his young discriminating taste.

ANS_4417
ANS_4423
ANS_4416
ANS_4513

There were Mongolian BBQ, Roast Turkey and Beef Ribs (which I also sampled, delicious, tender & flavorful!), Western Style Salad Bar, Selection of Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar, Chinese, Malay, Indian and Thai Food Counters, Cheese Buffet, Antipasti and more but my palates were so biased to what I don’t usually eat on a daily basis. After all, it’s Christmas, must eat your favorites. And for me, it’s seafood dishes and Japanese!

7

While Gabby loves Ebi Tempura, I also share the love for such dishes with Tina. Look at my lovely wife’s plates…

ANS_4491

This is the only eat-all-you-want that we experienced amazing entertainment. There were clown-balloon maker, magician, juggler, all staff dressed in Medieval splendor, there’s Santa Clause who went table to table giving candies to the old and the young as if the dessert spread wasn’t enough, and yes, there was live band and choir singing what else but lovely Christmas carols! Everything’s magical! Surreal!

ANS_4586
ANS_4474
ANS_4494
ANS_4507
ANS_4665

The service of all staff of Shook! at Feast Village was quick, warm and friendly! Everyone deserves a salary raise if you ask me! They surely complemented everything on this fabulous feast!

Food. More glorious food!

ANS_4593
ANS_4516

Desserts were absolutely divine.

ANS_4438
0
2
5
ANS_4439
ANS_4448
ANS_4461
ANS_4467
ANS_4605
ANS_4610
ANS_4615
ANS_4612

Lively and lovely atmosphere…
ANS_4589ANS_4502
ANS_4597
ANS_4673
ANS_4661

Cups of cappuccino to end a beautiful meal.

ANS_4644

The buffet started 12PM and lasted until 3:30PM; too many food, so little time and stomach! lol. :D As we bid goodbye to the best buffet experience we had for 2012, we were gifted with freebies of heavenly chocolate cupcakes topped with moist and decadent chocolate icing and Christmas ornaments. What a great takeaway!

ANS_4757

Apparently, one can never measure happiness with anything money could buy. It’s not on the food we eat, the gifts we receive, the cars you drive, the things you shop but it eternally springs on those precious moments we spend with people who love and treasure us.  My biggest joy for Christmas 2012 was celebrating its meaning with my family and seeing ear-to-ear-smiles on their faces. Priceless definitely! :)

ANS_4722
ANS_4776
ANS_4772
ANS_4790ANS_4707

May the good Lord continuously shower all of us with more of His bountiful blessings this 2013 and beyond.

Have a Prosperous, Healthier & Happier New Year, everyone!

*This is NOT a sponsored post but special thanks goes out to Shook! and Starhill Gallery people, Yati, Raj and Rachel Yong! Warm regards to all the staff particularly to the Filipino crew at Shook! :)

Feast Village, Starhill Gallery | 181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur | www.feastvillage.com

>><<

09
Dec
12

THE 2012 OF BEYOND TOXICITY @ DOCGELO.COM

THANK YOU, 2012!

It’s only mid-December and the BEST SEASON, the BEST CELEBRATIONS are yet to come.

Despite all problems, challenges and daily hassles, counting blessings makes life more meaningful.

Words are not enough to express my gratitude for everything that happened to this personal passion called blogging.

Allow me to press the replay button, and sentimentally share with you once more

the vibrant and happy colors that made our family’s 2012 a kaleidoscope!

>>><<<

May 2012 : BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS from MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA

May 2012 BlogAwardsMay 2012 MITBCA

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/09/2012-ministry-of-tourism-malaysia-best-expat-blog/

January 2012 :  BATU CAVES, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

January 2012 Batu Caves

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/01/27/caves-and-bears/

January 2012 :  PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS SKYBRIDGE VISIT

January 2012 Petronas Twin Towers

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/01/21/our-fun-homage-to-malaysias-magnificence/

February 2012 : HONG KONG DISNEYLAND THEME PARK & HOTEL SPONSORED TRIP

Feb 2012 HKDisney
February 2012 HK Disneyland
February 2012 Hong Kong Disneyland
February 2012 HKDL

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/02/23/our-hong-kong-disneyland-trip-2012-arrival-lunch/

http://docgelo.com/2012/02/27/our-hong-kong-disnyeland-trip-2012-spectacular-burst-of-colors/

http://docgelo.com/2012/03/01/our-hong-kong-disneyland-trip-2012-timeless-magic/

May 2012 : HAVING MY OWN DOMAIN + BLOG HEADER

blog header

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/25/happy-blogging/

May 2012 : AN INVITATION from @ SAKAE SUSHI, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

May 2012 Sakae Sushi
May 2012 SS

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/28/love-affair-with-japanese-food-continues/

May 2012 :  INVITATION to PENANG SPICE TRAIL from MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA PENANG BRANCH

May 2012 Penang Spice Trail

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/22/penang-spice-trail-enticing-sensory-experience/

June 2012 : SHOWCASING GEORGE TOWN, PENANG 

June 2012 Penang Street Art

June 2012 Street arts Penang
June 2012 GT
June 2012 Intro to George Town
June 2012 GT Penang

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/06/24/how-i-introduced-george-town-penang/

July 2012 : PHOTO PUBLISHED ON LONELY PLANET ASIA MAGAZINE

July 2012 LP
July 2012 Lonely Planet

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/17/surreal/

July 2012 : INVITATION from SINGAPORE BLOG AWARDS  | FAR EAST HOSPITALITY HOTELS -

OASIA HOTEL SPONSORED 3D2N ACCOMODATION

INVITATION from MARINA BAY SANDS SKYPARK | HARRY POTTER EXHIBITION -

ANDY WARHOL EXHIBITION

jULY 2012 MBS Sg a1 bar
July 2012 Sg MBS
July 2012 Sg Harry Potter
July 2012 Oasia
July 2012 Sg Blog Awards
cooled conservatories from sands skypark, marina bay sands
marina bay sands, gardens by the bay

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/25/oasia-my-oasis-in-singapore-2012/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/28/marina-bay-sands-my-awesome-experience/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/08/infinite-dose-of-spring-gardens-by-the-bay/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/05/singapore-on-greater-heights/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/27/a-bloggers-weekend-in-singapore-lah/

July 2012 : HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG SPONSORED 3D2N ACCOMODATION

July 2012 HRHP
July 2012 HRHOTEL
July 2012 Hard Rock
July 2012 HRHP 2
July 2012 HRHP room
July 2012 HRHP 3

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/01/glorious-food-porn-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/31/our-rock-roll-family-weekend-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

 August 2012 : BANGKOK, THAILAND

photography inside tuk tukgrand palace 7
grand palace 10
grand palace 20
grand palace 21reclining buddha
reclining buddha
buddha's face in wat pho
mystic place bangkok 16
mystic place bangkok 4tina & gabby at amari watergate lobby
daddy's boy heichinrou bangkok

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/20/bangkok-series-2012-grand-palace/

http://docgelo.com/2012/09/01/bangkok-2012-series-golden-reclining-buddha/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/23/bangkok-2012-series-we-highly-recommend-mystic-place/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/25/bangkok-2012-series-chatuchak-weekend-market/

http://docgelo.com/2012/09/04/bangkok-2012-series-heichinrou/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/28/bangkok-2012-series-penang-bangkok-penang-via-bus/

September 2012 : INVITATION from LEGOLAND MALAYSIA

1 legoland malaysia
137 legoland malaysia
60 legoland malaysia

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/09/22/our-legoland-malaysia-experience-2012/

September 2012 : SINGAPORE ONCE MORE WITH TINA & GABBY

july 2012 singapore

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/09/29/a-saturday-in-singapore/

October 2012 : FINALIST in PHOTO CONTEST @ CHINAHOUSE,

GEORGE TOWN, PENANG, MALAYSIA

chinahouse george town penang

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/11/we-got-free-brunch-chinahouse/

November 2012 : EXCLUSIVE INVITATION to FOOD TASTING @ FEAST VILLAGE,

STARHILL GALLERY.

SKYBAR @ TRADERS HOTEL | CHYNNA @ HILTON HOTEL | 7ATENINE @ ASCOTT  

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

2
10starhill tea salonpetronas twin towersANS_13927atenine

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/17/village-bar-an-underground-fantasy/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/20/my-delicious-afternoon-at-feast-village-starhill-gallery/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/14/intoxicating-views/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/24/7atenine/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/23/dining-chinese/

November 2012 : SPONSORED AIRLINE FOOD REVIEW

November 2012 Airline Food Review

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/26/malaysian-dishes-on-air-an-airline-food-review/

December 2012 : PHOTOSHOOT for FAMILY PORTRAIT @ MACALISTER MANSION, PENANG

ANS_2880

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/12/02/weekend-at-macalister-mansion/

We commissioned one of the brilliant Malaysian photographers from Penang to do our family photos on the first day of December for an hour of unlimited shots at a very reasonable cost and a week after, he posted these two teaser-proofs on his facebook account. The rest of the photos will be delivered in weeks time.

family portrait december 1 2012
family portrait

As of this blogging, I’m also waiting for the result of ExpatBlogs.Com Best Expat Blog Awards

of which my site is nominated and currently 3rd among 13 expat blogs in Malaysia

(blog post : http://docgelo.com/support-docgelo/).

I’m also excited to share my interview and blog feature on InterNations.Org based in Germany soon!

On a more serious note,

Thank you to those people who lifted our spirits during our lowest moments this year.

Thank you to those generous souls who helped us in so many ways during those trying times.

Thank you to my blog readers, followers and fellow bloggers who have been a constant inspiration.

Advance Happy Holidays! A Blessed Christmas And A More Prosperous New Year to all of us!

THANK YOU SO MUCH, LORD ALMIGHTY!

All Glory and Honor is Yours, Now and Forever!

>>><<<

This is also my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : My 2012 In Pictures

05
Dec
12

SUPPORT DOCGELO!!!

This virtual home receives another blog nomination. Details here : http://docgelo.com/support-docgelo/

30
Nov
12

THE NIGHT WHEN EVERYONE’S YOUNG

About a couple of weeks ago, Gabby came home with an award…

543085_4763589608865_1834292857_n

What can we say but we’re so proud of him as always! Apparently, the certificate came in early prior to their Awards and Graduation Night. The recognition of the achievers and contest winners in their school were cited during the same night when little kids also graduated from their levels.  Parents, teachers and children in Gabby’s school here in Butterworth, Penang gathered once more just like last year at the pool side at the 5th level of the apartment building where Gabby’s school principal resides.

1

And similar to most gatherings, it started with a simple and casual dining! Yum yum yum! :)

3
4
5

In between awarding ceremony and raffle draws, there was the cute graduation of the little kiddos!

2
13

Twas an evening of performances too! All songs and dances were performed by Gabby’s schoolmates themselves. Gabby was involved in two dances, one of them was an interpretative dance and the other one’s pop but both were religiously inspired.

76
8
12
16
15
14

Photo-ops with the Filipina who works in Gabby’s school…Salamat, Ate Josephine!

9

And Asian smiles from the Malaysian school owners and colleagues from Pakistan whose children are Gabby’s schoolmates…

11

Congratulations, anak! You did a great job!  We’re always proud of you! We love you! :)

17

________________________

28
Oct
12

INSPIRED BY THE WALKING DEAD

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve definitely seen these photos taken from years of Gabby’s trick or treating in his school and malls in Manila and a mall here in Penang.
TRICK OR TREAT 4
TRICK OR TREAT 5
TRICK TREAT 7

Several weeks back, Tina and I asked our 8-year-old kiddo if he still digs being in costume to celebrate Halloween. Gabby replied positively but he professed he doesn’t want to join any contest in the mall like what he did before. He only wanted to have fun and enjoy the occasion. OK. Fine. :)

Luckily, few malls here in Penang partake in this Western tradition of celebrating Halloween; we had choices where to go to. Last year, we had it at Queensbay Mall while this year, we spent half of our Sunday at 1st Avenue Mall.

And because Gabby’s a bit older already, his choices in all things also mature gradually. This Halloween, he opted to dress as a zombie, perhaps so inspired by one of our favorite TV series, The Walking Dead. After having an idea of what to wear, Tina began to be more imaginative this time on how to zombie-fied our cute little Gabby.

She started with what we have in the kitchen. Egg white, artificial food coloring and tissue paper worked well with my wife’s creativity.
halloween 2012

She used these to make fake blood; the egg white served as binder or glue the tissue paper on Gabby’s school-boy-complexion making him look more like someone from the grave. Clever eh? I say pure talent! LOL! :)

At home, they had rehearsal. The two were in character!!!

halloween 1
zombie : halloween 2012
Call it weird but at least it’s clean FUN and most importantly, we’re HAPPY! ;)
halloween 2

28 OCTOBER 2012. Sunday. 1st Avenue Mall. We found a seat inside Starbucks Coffee after engaging on a hearty brunch meal at Dome. Of course, I needed to take the “BEFORE” photo of the two.
halloween 24

Beautiful, aren’t they? :D
Then my wife brought out all her stuffs -food colors, hypoallergenic face makeup, sheets of tissue paper, and yes, an egg that she had to crack on the table of Starbucks to get its white.
halloween 23
Gabby wanted it, so he was so submissive. Take note, there’s no coercion nor force here! :D
halloween 22
halloween 21
halloween 20
Just so you know, my wife is a professional Operating Room Nurse and a former Clinical Instructor and she has no formal schooling on makeup more so on prosthetics but isn’t her work amazing? And apparently, Gabby’s the cutest “Walking Dead” ever!!!
halloween 18
Must be in character!
halloween 19
Despite there were no candies, no loot bags that’s so unlikely the Philippines (we certainly miss going to Greenbelt, Landmark, TriNoma, and Gateway!), we all had fun taking photos of those Malaysians who were in costumes too!
halloween 17
halloween 15
halloween 16
halloween 12
halloween 11
halloween 14
halloween 5
halloween 7
halloween 10
halloween 6
halloween
halloween 3
halloween 9
halloween 8

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! :D

______________

26
Oct
12

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : FOREIGN

muslim brother

Despite the fact that I’ve been exposed to them for more than two years now here in Penang, Malaysia, their culture, language, tradition and religion still remain FOREIGN to me. There’s no absolute resistance to learning but time, chance and priorities restrict me to do so.

Nevertheless, I’d like to take this opportunity to greet our Muslim brothers and sisters here in Malaysia and in the Philippines and all over the world, Selamat Hari Raya Haji today! Thank you for welcoming me and my family in your community and work place here in Penang! :D

This post is my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : Foreign. I captured this before we disembark a ferry en route to GeorgeTown from Butterworth, Penang.

12
Oct
12

HIS HALLOWEEN HISTORY

TRICK OR TREAT 1
TRICK OR TREAT 2
TRICK OR TREAT 3
TRICK OR TREAT 4
TRICK OR TREAT 5
TRICK TREAT 7
TRICK OR TREAT 6

October. It’s that month of the year again when my family usually plan for Trick or Treating. Back in the Philippines since Gabby turned two, Tina and I used to bring him in full Halloween kiddie costume in TriNoma, Glorietta and Greenbelt malls and even in his school in Quezon City where he spent his Nursery, Kindergarten and Preparatory years, he participated and enjoyed Halloween celebration with his classmates and teachers. And when I brought them here to Penang, Malaysia in 2011, he also joined a Trick or Treat Halloween Costume Contest where he donned a Chinese-Pirate costume complete with face-make-up done by his lovely mom. He didn’t win in the contest but happily gained experience blending with Malaysian kids inside the mall. The photos above apparently show Gabby had fun in those Trick or Treating years. But for this year when Gabby turned 8 and has been acting and thinking like a young teenager already (read : he speaks of his crushes in school frequently), I’m not so sure if he still digs Halloween stuff; what I am definite is the fact that he’s excited again for the toys that Santa Claus will give him this Christmas. ;)

This is one of the joys of spending QUALITY TIME with the family; regardless of the season or the occasion, it’s always nice when an ordinary moment turns into unforgettable pleasant memories. :)

____________________

01
Aug
12

GLORIOUS FOOD PORN @ HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG

Indulgence is a must when spending quality time with the family or with friends. My family and I are very grateful to the people of Hard Rock Hotel Penang for they perfectly know how to pamper their guests across all ages by providing A COMPLETE SENSORY EXPERIENCE.

You’ve probably read my first post about our family’s grand experience (blog post HERE!). Now, here’s the conclusion of my 2-part-blog-series about Hard Rock Hotel Penang; I’m ending it with everything that satisfied our digestive tracts. :)  WARNING : FOOD PORN AHEAD! You may want to drink a glassful of cold water first before scrolling down this post. FEAST YOUR EYES! ENJOY! *wink*  

OUR FRIDAY DINNER @ STARZ DINER :  THE GREAT AMERICAN BUFFET with A TWIST

Shameless dispaly of indulgence. My plate # 1 : Fresh green salad, prawns, crayfish, salmon sashimi and cheese on a biscuit. Nom nom nom!!! :)

My plate # 2 : Mini Lamb Burger, Chicken Fingers, Mashed Potato, Chicken Wings and the most delicious and tender Smoked Beef Rib I’ve ever tasted! Tender. Delicious. *sigh*

Sarsi Longgan, anyone? Surprisingly, I liked it. It’s light, fruity and refreshing! :)

Our little-big-boy’s preference : chocolate fondue goodies!

HAPPINESS!!! …Can you imagine a world without ice cream?

This trio melted all my worries away, seriously!!! :D

Res Ipsa Loquitor means the evidence speaks for itself. Here’s a proof that Hard Rock Hotel Penang is beyond rockstars and adult-fun. People of HRHP are certainly KID-FRIENDLY TOO! ;)

The next day was made for another gastronomic adventure in epic proportions! ;)

OUR SATURDAY BREAKFAST BUFFET PLATES  @ STARZ DINER

LOVE! This platter on the buffet spread is just love. Smoked salmon and salted fish are so right in the morning!

My plate obviously. Smoked salmon FTW! :)

Tina sampled the do-it-yourself-congee.

Our kiddo is a cereal-monster! :)

Apparently, Gabby’s :) Don’t ask me if appetite is hereditary. LOL!

Early Weekend Morning Look! hahaha!

Dim sums in the morning? I had it for 2 consecutive weekend mornings. First in Singapore, then at Hard Rock Hotel Penang. It’s habit-forming and I’m not complaining! :)

Fiber-rich fresh fruits : A must for digestive process. Nutritious too!

What Gabby does to express happiness. :P

Tina’s.

My world revolves around them. End of story. :)

OUR SATURDAY LUNCH @ PIZZERIA

There’s so many nice things to experience in Pizzeria at Hard Rock Hotel Penang. For one, diners get to enjoy watching the chefs tossing and flipping the pizza as per order.  It’s entertaining in its own way! The wannabe-chef in Gabby and me enjoyed it a lot! Having an open-air-ambiance, located few steps by the beach provide a very relaxing and casual dining feel; it’s non-intimidating. :) Italian dishes on the menu look and taste authentic too! Highly recommended, a really must-try in HRHP! :)

Watching the chefs prepare those hand-tossed pizzas is an extra special treat!

Antipasto combo includes that tender baby octopus, mushrooms and diced eggplant that are complimented by that mayo-based dip. :)

All about Pizzeria’s pizza : I liked the thin crusts and the fact that toppings are served generously!

My family’s (Gabby’s) choice : Pizza Contadina, 14 inch for sharing. Tomato-based topped with chicken, mushrooms, onions, the works!

My plate : Pasta Aglio Y Olio (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers- very Italian? eduate me!). My verdict : I liked it except that my tongue does not favor too much spice, nonetheless, I finished the entire plate.

Gnocchi for Tina. If you must know, this pasta dish called Gnocchi is made of potato-pillows. Those worm-like-pasta are actually made of potatoes and starch.

Hot chocolate for Gabby on a hot weather. Why not.

Our blogger-fellows from Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Isaac, Chris and Emily with their companions savored these Italian goodies…

Gamberi pizza. Prawns in tomato base.

Calzone = folded pizza. Can’t get enough of that Pizzeria pizza-goodness! I’ve tasted this and I gave a thumbs up!

Tomato-based spaghetti.

Calamari. Classic. :)

Pizzeria also offers local Malaysian dishes…

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce. One of Malaysia’s favorite dishes.

BEVERAGES compliment tasteful dishes best. Either alcoholic-based or otherwise, Sand Bar and Pizzeria in Hard Rock Penang, as well as Hard Rock Cafe have a long list of choices from their beverage menus. There’s something special for everyone; even Gabby was happy with his Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Smoothies drinks. :D

Fellow Blogger Chris’ choice : Mojito

For our Saturday Lunch : Watermelon and strawberry-based smoothies for me, Tropical Paradise, a fruity shake for Tina, and Hot Chocolate for Gabby.

On the very first weekend evening that we met the invited Malaysian awesome bloggers, Isaac, Chris and Emily with the very hospitable people of Hard Rock Penang, we had a few drinks at Hard Rock Hotel Penang’s Sand Bar, a very apt spot in the resort to chill out and watch the gorgeous sunset.

Gabby had his Chocolate Smoothies from the Sand Bar. While admittedly, Tina and I are non-alcoholics (and non-smokers too), we’re not kill-joy-junkies when an occasion calls for it. I made Tina sample the drink from Sand Bar’s menu called, PICKLED TINK which is an infusion of Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka, Pina Colada Mix and Fresh Strawberries Served Frozen and garnished with two Maraschino Cherries. ;)

Guess who had what.  ;)

OUR SATURDAY FAMILY DINNER @ HARD ROCK CAFE PENANG

Didn’t I tell you that the entire Hard Rock Hotel Penang including Hard Rock Cafe is very family-friendly? Gabby’s delighted at the sight of specially tailored menu for kids his age. He immediately scan it and made his choices. Oh and by the way, he had two cups fresh milk that went perfectly with his preference. Can you believe Hard Rock Cafe has fresh milk for kids? They have actually!  :)

Gabby’s choice # 1 : Ceasar’s salad

Gabby’s plate # 2 : Mac and cheese. This is a favorite-kid-friendly-plate. Agree? :)

The scene early that evening. It became packed with hungry diners in a blink.

I went up the mezzanine of Hard Rock Hotel Penang and a volume of Rock and Roll memorabilia are on display too to delight the music-loving patrons. Can you spot that Madonna costume?

Now, I have a confession to make. It’s a lame excuse, I know but because of my hectic schedule from my social media commitments for two consecutive weekends (Singapore Blog Awards 2012 and this Hard Rock Hotel Penang invitation), not to forget the stress that my wife and I are currently getting from work, I committed an isolated glitch. It slipped my memory that we’re instructed to try the “Hard Rock Cafe Eats Platter” special offering from HRC during the Fasting Month (Breaking of the Fast or Buka Puasa during Ramadhan) and for that I’m really sorry. :( What I remembered from the invite they sent in pdf via email and a printout form was the phrase that made me smile ear to ear :  “if you wish, you may order other stuff.” I forgot to memorize the phrase that came before it (“After the platter,” ) toinks!!!  We came earlier at Hard Rock Cafe that Saturday evening than our fellow blogger-buddies, thus my family and I were done with the last meal of the day earlier too. I immediately emailed Ms. Danielle Fung of HRHP to explain and verify everything after our sumptuous dinner. And I must say, they’re really generous. Everything’s waived and we didn’t pay a single ringgit. :D THANK YOU SO MUCH, HRHP & HRC! I just had to be honest about it. Now, continue to feast your eyes on our dinner that Saturday night…

Tina ordered this thick prawn-based soup. It could have been better if it’s not too salty.

Gabby got MILK. Fresh Milk. Two Cups. From HRC Penang! :)

We did not expect it too be in HUMONGOUS servings! I ordered JUMBO APPETIZER COMBO that includes Fried Spring Rolls, Chicken fingers, Potato Skins, Onion Rings and Buffalo Wings with respective dips! SEDAP, SARAP!!! The HRC EATS PLATTER that my family and I failed to sample (please see posted below) has similar offerings except it has Mini Lamb Burger and the others.

DISCLAIMER : Tina and I did NOT finish everything we ordered; we had most of them as takeaway (or in our words, take-out, take-home). It’s good that our seaview deluxe room in Hard Rock Hotel Penang has a personal fridge to temporarily store those delicious leftovers. We literally took them home the next day after check out. :)

Tina was astonished with the serving size of her order. TRIO COMBO. BBQ flavored Chicken, Beef Ribs and Roasted Beef Brisket (Believe me, it’s the most tender beef dish that I’ve tasted! Flavorful too! We loved it! The chicken’s OK too however, it’s so frequent for us to eat chicken so the beef ribs and roasted beef tantalized our taste buds effortlessly. )

My HRC Surf and Turf dinner plate : NEW YORK BEEF STEAK with PRAWN SKEWER. I had it medium well and I lost superlatives to describe it. I finished the side dishes that were also remarkably delicious plus the prawns, a personal favorite! I had the rest of the steak as to go.

I just had to take one more shot. Beautiful plate, isn’t it?

What’s a rock and roll meal without a sweet ending? DESSERTS we had included this CHOCOLATE MOUSSE, it’s Gabby and Tina’s choice. I liked it too!

My choice from the HRC dessert menu : Haagen Dazs Sundae Trio. Simply divine!

OUR SUNDAY BREAKFAST BUFFET @ STARZ DINER

Our last meal enjoyed at Hard Rock Hotel Penang during that 3D2N sponsored staycation was our breakfast buffet at Starz Diner. There’s a vast selection of bread for those who want to have carbo-loading. There’s a station for free-flowing morning drinks -from coffee, tea, fruit juices, fresh milk and chocolate. The difficult part was choosing what to chow down! So many food, so little time and limited gastric pits! Nevertheless, I’ll state it again that we’re very blessed to experienced all this. Thank you, God! Thank you, Hard Rock Hotel Penang! :D

I told you, that smoked salmon got my taste buds seriously. I love it to bits.

Tina and Gabby’s Roti Canai, one of Malaysia’s famous breads for breakfast, actually, it’s all good anytime of the day!

There’s only one thing that Tina and I regret of not doing in Hard Rock Hotel Penang and that’s failing to watch the Filipino Live Band called, Tiempo who plays at Hard Rock Cafe at 10:30PM that (every) weekend. We like watching live bands however the show’s strictly for adults 21 years old and older and Gabby didn’t allow us to sneak out leaving him in the room, even for an hour. Oh well, parenthood duties!!! We’re not complaining. At least it became one of the reasons to go back to HRHP and HRC in the near future. :)

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG! :D

———-

Part one of this 2-part blog series : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/31/our-rock-roll-family-weekend-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

Buka Puasa & Hari Raya Buffets | Hard Rock Hotel Penang offers a wide array of dishes specially prepared and cooked by their rockstar chefs in time for Buka Puasa (breaking of the fast during Ramadhan season) and Hari Raya.

Buka Puasa at Starz | Starz Diner | Mondat to Thursday | 6:30PM till 10:30PM | RM 60++

Great American Buffet With A Twist | Starz Diner | Friday & Saturday | 6:30PM till 10:30PM | RM108++

Buka Puasa & Hari Raya Barefoot BBQ | Pizzeria | Sunday | 6:30PM to 10PM | RM60++

For reservations call +604 8811 711 ext 8703 or email fb.penang@hardrockhotels.net

———-

Hard Rock Hotel Penang
Batu Ferringhi Beach | 111oo Penang, Malaysia

http://penang.hardrockhotels.net/

Take the Hard Rock Hotel Penang VIRTUAL TOUR HERE! :)

———-

*Thank you to Ms. Danielle Fung of Hard Rock Hotel Penang for making this grand family weekend experience possible. :D

28
Jul
12

MARINA BAY SANDS : MY AWESOME EXPERIENCE

Where is this galaxy?” -asked by one of my distant relatives whose humor never fails immediately after I posted this photo on facebook as one of my teasers for my blog series on Singapore, that includes the majestic, Marina Bay Sands. Its laser lights and fireworks show was watched in awe and candidly captured from the 63rd floor of the newest bar in Singapore called, 1-Altitude. I must say, the efforts were worth it!!! More photos on succeeding blog posts! :)

No, I have not experienced yet the luxurious accomodation at Marina Bay Sands nonetheless, I had an incredibly awesome time at its foot and on its crown. :)

When I learned that I was one of those International bloggers from Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines who was fortunately invited to attend the Singapore Blog Awards on a sponsored 3D2N accomodation on the 3rd week of July, 2012, I told myself I had to maximize my second visit to the Lion City.  I did some planning, conversed online with few of my Singapore-based friends and decided to see Harry Potter : The Exhibition at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands.

I purchased my ticket online and opted to collect it via the counter an hour prior to schedule. Since I’m going to Marina Bay Sands, I thought of going up the Sands Skypark Public Observation Deck on the 57th storey as well. I emailed MBS if I could bring my camera to the HP Exhibit and to the Skypark but I had to observe the strict rules of the ArtScience Museum where HP Exhibit is ongoing. Thankfully, luck was on my side when Ms. Philicia, the Social Media Officer of MBS replied to me in a blink via email and offered an escorted tour to the Skypark Public Observation Deck for FREE and to provide me of official photos of Harry Potter the Exhibition from Warner Brothers given to media when it was launched sometime in May. They granted me Property License too to take photos at the Sands Skypark thus, I cannot be grateful enough. Excitement heightened as day went by. :D

As I became so thrilled like a kid and feared being late, I left my hotel at 7AM on that Friday morning, 20 July 2012 and reached Marina Bay Sands less than an hour later via the ever reliable, fast and efficient Singapore MRT. Marina Bay Sands is practically accessible by hopping off Bayfront MRT Station. ;) With only limited budget at hand, I chose to eat my first meal of the day at Rasapura Masters at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, one of the excellent food finds at the food court in Marina Bay Sands. I had the most beautiful and tasteful dim sums for breakfast! Yum!!! :D

Since I arrived early at MBS and my schedule for Harry Potter : The Exhibition was 11AM-11:59AM, and the time set for me to go up at MBS Skypark Public Observation Deck was 12:15PM-1PM, I killed time productively by cam-whoring  in and out of Marina Bay Sands. I had so much FUN!!! :P

Singapore Skyline taken from the ground near ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands

Apparently on my smile, I am a huge fan myself of the Harry Potter movie series. I watched all films with Tina and Gabby.

For a complete experience, I also pre-purchased an audio guide online making my Harry Potter : The Exhibition ticket amounting to Sg$30 nett. The non-tech-savvy in me was expecting a headset or at least a pair of earphones but to my amazement, I was only provided by something that looks like a TV-remote control. I was instructed to look at the number that appears per exhibit display, then to press the audio set and put it on my ear; it’s so cool for it to have strings attached to my neck; very handy whenever I want to listen to the details and trivia regarding the costumes, artifacts and props used in the Harry Potter movie series.

Because photography and video recording are not allowed inside the museum, I’m still thankful Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum via Ms. Philicia Tan, provided me some pieces of official photos of the exhibit from Warner Brothers. If you really dig Harry Potter movies and/or novels, seeing their costumes and props used in the movies is indeed terribly wonderful! It felt like stepping into the exact scenes and being with the characters and absorbing the story. Every detail of the clothes they wore and all the artifacts tell a story, a symbolism that’s fascinating.

My most favorite section of the exhibit is the room where Quidditch uniforms are featured. It took me several minutes staring at the costumes as I was imagining Gabby and I wearing those knee and elbow pads and those ultra cool gears! Incredibly awesome!!! :D

Costumes worn during a Quidditch™ match

Buckbeak™ the Hippogriff as seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™

The school uniform worn by Harry Potter as seen in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™.

Recreation of Hagrid’s hut

Harry Potter’s eyeglasses, Hogwarts™ acceptance letter, the Marauder’s Map and his wand.

Pull your own Mandrake in the Herbology vignette

Harry Potter™ and Ron Weasley™ costumes and artifacts that appeared throughout the Harry Potter films

Tri-Wizard Cup as seen in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™

I felt I must not leave the Harry Potter Exhibition without a single souvenir other than my photos just to remember that remarkable experience. And because I cannot afford the wands that cost Sg$ 75 and up, I happily settled with this movie poster taken from Prisoner of Azkaban that says, Undesirable # 1. Symbolic to me; like Harry Potter became what the poster described him to be, I believe we do not exist to please anybody. So it doesn’t matter to me whether people like me or not. It’s their problem, not mine. Oops, I digress. *wink*

Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore runs from June 2, 2012 to September 30, 2012. Visit Marina Bay Sands website for details and ticket purchases @ http://www.marinabaysands.com

Blessings and opportunities were pouring in that moment as Ms. Philicia invited me to experience the other exhibit at ArtScience Museum, MBS; Andy Warhol : 15 Minutes Eternal… Who am I to say no when a media pass was generously given? Thank you so much!!! I enjoyed it too! :D

Andy Warhol : 15 Minutes Eternal, Exhibition Entrance

Early years, Folding Screen

The Factory Years, Campbell Soup Series

Exposures, Sunset and Flowers

Early Years, Gold Leaf Shoe

The Factory Years, Death and Disaster series with Jackie Kennedy

The Factory Years, Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe

The Factory Years, Silver Clouds

Andy Warhol:  15 Minutes Eternal at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore runs from March 17, 2012 to October 21, 2012 (Extended). Visit Marina Bay Sands website for details and ticket purchases @ http://www.marinabaysands.com

For the list of Andy Warhol programs/workshops visit http://www.marinabaysands.com/Singapore-Museum/Activities/

Right after I saw Harry Potter the Exhibition and before I was immersed in the creativity of Andy Warhol, I met Ms. Philicia at Tower 3 of MBS Hotel and she escorted me to the SkyPark Public Observation Deck for FREE! Words are not enough to thank Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum and Ms. Philicia Tan for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! :D

Some interesting and fascinating facts about Marina Bay Sands and The Sands SkyPark :

  • “The hotel has sloping towers and straight legs connected at Level 23 to form a single building. In hotel Tower 1, the slope is as steep as 26 degrees, making it one of the most complex hotels ever built.
  • During its construction phase, Marina Bay Sands built one new hotel floor every four days, the fastest pace ever for a development of this scale in Singapore.
  • The Sands SkyPark  :
  • It’s an architectural masterpiece sitting on top of the three hotel towers at Marina Bay Sands. This 1.2 hectare tropical oasis is longer than Eiffel Tower is tall and large enough to park four-and-a-half-A380 jumbo jets.
  • It’s built at the height of 200 meters.
  • Its lush landscaped gardens are home to 250 trees and 650 plants.
  • It offers  a total of 12,400 square meters of space – big enough to fit three football fields.
  • It houses MBS’ acclaimed restaurants that include Sky on 57, KU DE TA, The Club at Marina Bay Sands that offers and indulgen Chocolate Bar concept that is opened to the public.
  • Hotel guests have the exclusive use of a 150-meter infinity swimming pool, the world’s largest outdoor pool at that height.” -Sourced from MBS Fact Sheet provided to media.

Here are my humble captures of the Singapore Skyline viewed from Marina Bay Sands Skypark Public Observation Deck. My photos don’t do justice to the spectacular views of the Lion City, nevertheless, enjoy!!! :D

*Special thanks goes to Ms. Philicia Tan, Social Media Officer | Communications, Marina Bay Sands. Thank you to Marina Bay Sands, Sands SkyPark Public Observation Deck and ArtScience Museum. MBS is totally one of the reasons to visit & revisit Singapore! :D

27
Jul
12

A BLOGGERS’ WEEKEND IN SINGAPORE, LAH!

20 July 2012. Friday. Singapore | Bloggers from Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines were invited to join the bloggers in Singapore to grace one of Asia’s biggest and most prestigious blogging events -The 2012 Singapore Blog Awards! I am thankful that I’m one of those fortunate bloggers who had the chance to spend the weekend in the Lion City and meet International bloggers from neighboring countries. It only felt a little weird to me as a Filipino, since my current address is Penang, thus my name was listed under Malaysia. Nonetheless, I know it’s a pleasure and honor to somehow, represent two countries in this one happy bloggers’ meet. The bloggers’ generous sponsors were The 2012 Singapore Blog Awards, OMY.Sg, Far East Hospitality Hotels and Singapore Food Trail at The Singapore Flyer.

I immensely enjoyed my 3D2N stay in one of the Club Rooms of OASIA Hotel Singapore, the breakfast meals, lunch at Zaffron & all the perks in Oasia’s The Living Room. Everything seemed perfect except my family, Tina and Gabby were left in Penang. :( Oh well, that’s another reason to head back to this beautiful city and stay again at one of Far East Hospitality hotels, like what we did on our very first trip to Singapore back in 2011 at QUINCY HOTEL.

WELCOME DINNER at LANDMARK VILLAGE HOTEL, July 20, 2012

After a hassle-free check in at OASIA HOTEL SINGAPORE, I hopped on the shuttle service they provided and we picked up other bloggers from the other hotels manned by Far East Hospitality. The group of International bloggers were clustered into 2; I belonged to the Orchard Parade cluster. We were brought to the Landmark Village Hotel for the Welcome Dinner they prepared.

Short but sweet messages were uttered by representatives of OMY.SG/Singapore Blog Awards and Far East Hospitality Hotels. After which, the simple but engaging party for all the bloggers kicked off. There were tasteful dishes on the buffet spread, free-flowing cocktails, even durian and coconuts were offered. Ladies and those few interested guys had their skin inked with henna for FREE and I myself with the others had fun posing for about 15 minutes as Idris, the great artist from Maya Gallery Singapore did portrait sketches for FREE; it also came with a Sg$ 5 discount voucher to less from the actual price of Sg$30/sketch.  I was lucky to have it at no cost. It was truly a lovely evening!

FAR EAST HOSPITALITY HOTELS TOUR for the Bloggers 20-21, July 2012

One of the highlights of this Singapore Blog Awards weekend was the hotel tour provided to us by Far East Hospitality Hotels & Residences. I enjoyed it a lot for I know not everyone is given a chance to peek at hotel rooms and amenities unless you’re a student taking the college course, Hotel & Restaurant Management, is it not? And so, I lived that moment and felt like one. :D

LANDMARK VILLAGE HOTEL

“Situated right in the heart of the town, the 393-room Landmark Village Hotel offers convenience and easy accessibility to business hubs such as the prominent Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre and Central Business District. With the addition of the new Premier Rooms from July 2012, guests can expect refreshing contemporary design, modern furnishings, a recliner armchair, open-concept wardrobe and an indulgent rain-shower experience in a stylish bathroom.  Landmark Village Hotel is only a 5-minute walk to Bugis MRT Station,  5-minute walk to Arab Street, Kampong Glam and Bugis Village. It offers wireless broadband internet access and  cable TV.”

ORCHARD PARADE HOTEL

“Right at the doorway of the famed lifestyle haven of Orchard Road is Orchard Parade Hotel, where a myriad of retail options promises a dream shopping spree. Find that much needed rest in our warmly-lit guestrooms, all 388 of them, complete with discreet hospitality. The ample culinary choices, from Italian to modern Asian, American and Japanese cuisines will make even the most discerning diner smile. Alternatively, you can choose to unwind in the tranquility of the Lobby Bar at the end of a hectic day. Orchard Parade Hotel offers Wireless Broadband Internet access and Cable TV.”

QUINCY HOTEL  (In as much as I like OASIA and savored my stay there, Quincy’s my first love. Indeed, first love never dies! LOL!) I love Quincy. My family loves Quincy. End of story. :)

“Located in the charming enclave of the prime Orchard district, the 108-room Quincy Hotel provides urbane business and leisure travellers the utmost privacy and exclusivity. Departing from the norm with its distinctive façade, the hotel’s bold colour palette of anodized steel and shimmering modular windows sets it apart from its neighbours and impresses you from the moment you arrive. It’s 5-minute walk to Orchard Road • 7-minute walk to Orchard MRT • 10-minute cab ride to Central Business District • Offers Wireless Broadband Internet access • Shuttle service to Paragon and Orchard MRT • Cable TV.”

ELIZABETH HOTEL

“Enter a world of modern chandeliers, black marble counters accentuated by warm-back lights and inviting smiles. Throughout its interiors, fittings and service, The Elizabeth Hotel exudes an understated beauty that can be best described as timeless elegance. Situated in the private and exclusive enclave on Mount Elizabeth, the 256-room hotel is within easy access to one of the world’s most famous streets – Orchard Road. It is truly a preferred choice for both business and leisure travellers alike. It’s a 5-minute walk to Orchard Road • 7-minute walk to Orchard MRT • 10-minute drive to Central Business District • Offers Wireless Broadband Internet access • Shuttle service to Paragon and Orchard MRT • Cable TV.”

Although Far East Hospitality Hotels and Residences have more properties to their name, our group only visited Landmark Village Hotel, Orchard Parade Hotel, Quincy Hotel, Elizabeth Hotel and certainly not the least, our cluster’s last stop for that exclusive 2 and a half hour hotel tour was my residence for that weekend in Singapore, OASIA HOTEL SINGAPORE. Okay, C’mmon, I love Quincy and it’s my family’s first love too, but OASIA HOTEL SINGAPORE cannot be far behind as my runner up ONLY BECAUSE WE FELL IN LOVE with QUINCY FIRST. That simple. I’m personally impressed with all Far East Hospitality Hotels we visited but I personally love both Quincy and Oasia hotels and cannot wait until my family and I revisit and relive the experiences. *crossed fingers*

“Inspired by the self-renewing elements of nature, Oasia Hotel Singapore presents a completely new experience in the charming enclave of the prime Novena district. The 428-room hotel offers a convenience and accessibility that is catered to the requirements and demands of today’s traveller. Elegant and comfortable, the rooms give a liberating sense of space, where palettes of natural colours are infused with unique Asian touches. Kick back and relax with each sensory detail carefully refined to be just right for you. •Oasia is a 5-minute walk to Novena MRT Station • 2 MRT stations away from Orchard MRT. Close proximity to Singapore’s premier Medical Hub • 5-minute walk to NovenaSquare Velocity and Square 2 • Offers Wireless Broadband Internet access • Cable TV.”

So glad to see beautiful staff. 2/3 Filipinas. :)

Thank you OASIA & QUINCY for all these goodies!

After that incredibly unique experience of hotel-hopping, the 2 clusters of International bloggers with our Singaporean blogger-hosts were all treated to a very tasteful lunch in ZAFFRON at the lobby area of Oasia (blog post HERE!). An hour of lunch after, we hopped into the shuttle vans and we’re brought to Singapore Food Trail at Singapore Flyer, the venue of the 2012 Singapore Blog Awards. I brought my camera with me, kept my excitement on my pockets and wore my rockstar shoes on my feet! :D

THE 2012 SINGAPORE BLOG AWARDS

For this year, Singapore Blog Awards opted to be more quirky and fun-loving by having a Superhero-themed event. And man, we’re all amazed by what we saw!

photo sourced from omy.sg

Best Blogger in Costume went to Noks from the Philippines. And my personal award for Best Singaporean-Blogger Host went to Mag, hands down!!! ;) I’ll hunt for you whenever we get a chance to go back to Singapore, Mag! It’s a threat, err, a promise! :D

Physically present in Singapore but mentally absent for I was thinking of my family in Penang –Cest La vie! Or the snobbish look is just so natural!!! #tulala,  LOL! *photo sourced from omy.sg

AWOOOOOOOOOHHHH! Ahmm, wait, I thought it’s Superhero-themed? *kidding*

In character si Ate!!! Scary! LOL! :P

If this was Olympics, this was the delegations from the Philippines!!! hehehe! (L-R) Brenna, KC, Noks in Joker, Me & Aleah. I had fun with all of them actually!

Joker won an overnight stay in Oasia! You go, Noks! :D

Then the blog awards went so smoothly and quick; I didn’t expected it to finish in 1PM-3PM! Wonderfully staged, never boring. (Please see list of winners HERE!!!) Special greetings of congratulations goes out to Willy Wah who’s one of those who took home a trophy! Had it not for him, I would not know of this SBA2012! Moving on, we got our FREE tickets to ride The Singapore Flyer, yeeeehaa! :D

And up we went! More photos on succeeding posts!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!

WE HAD FUN!!! :D

Special thanks goes to Ericia Li of Far East Hospitality, Alvin and Janet of OMY.Sg, Mag who was our warmest Singaporean-blogger host, the people of Singapore Blog Awards and of course, my host hotel, OASIA HOTEL SINGAPORE | 8 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307470 | Tel +65 6664 0333 | Fax +65 6664 0300 | Email : info@oasiahotel.com | www.oasiahotel.com

Do check out PROMOTIONS from OASIA and the other premiere hotels of Far East Hospitality Group

–>HERE!!!

*Thank you OASIA Hotel Singapore, Far East Hospitality Hotels, Singapore Blog Awards 2012 and OMY.Sg for making this wonderful experience possible

Beyond Toxicity @ docgelo.com presents Singapore series 2012 :

16
Jul
12

THE DAY SHE TURNED SIXTY

15th July 2012, Sunday. My one and only mom, Mamy Tessie, officially turned sixty. And I can almost hear her voice reverberating on my ears why do I need to broadcast to the entire universe that she had already stepped into the world of senior citizenship!  The answer is plain and simple.

I’m proud of her years.

I may not be that expressive and showy but I know she knows and she feels how I love her so. Despite our love-hate-kill-me-relationship, we remain mother-and-son and nothing and no one could ever change that. No matter what situation we’re in now, my family and I greatly owe our beings to our mom and her unparalleled efforts (read: mala-Maalaala Mo Kaya episodes) in what she (and my dad have) has been through in raising us all.

To celebrate her memorable years and to usher her into another life beyond her present age, we had random talks on how she should observe her natal day at 60.  We’ve thought of going to a nearby island resort within Penang Island, spending weekend in Cameron Highlands, a whole day in a spa, and even a swift visit to Melaka but everything was put aside when she chose to spend the day with Gabby in a happy kiddie place within a beach front premiere hotel here in Penang. She opted to celebrate her 60 years in Golden Sands Resort by Shangri La which was one of my recommendations, to sample the buffet spread in Garden Cafe of the same hotel resort because what comes with a Sunday brunch is a FREE admission to Adventure Zone, the hotel’s kiddie paradise. She was thinking of Gabby instead of herself. Too bad that Tina failed to join us for some reason.

Although this is not a sponsored post and considering the fact that I only did the usual reservation to the Sunday brunch online and never did an actual arrangement whatsoever, the staff of Golden Sands Resort’s Garden Cafe were so generous in providing Mamy Tessie a surprise birthday cake! Thank you, Garden Cafe! While the cake was expectedly delicious, that gesture was the sweetest! :D Special thanks goes to Mr. Mohamad Subri Bin Hashim, the Service Manager of Garden Cafe, his staff and to Ms. Norashidah Hussain, the Restaurant Marketing Manager who noted my reservation. Hats off to your good service!

We love the lunch spread because we got to savor some Western dishes, some local Malay cuisines and yes, desserts! The price was reasonable too and their biggest plus  was the FREE admission to Adventure Zone much to Gabby’s (and my) excitement!

A short walk from the Garden Cafe at the lobby of the hotel to its poolside led us to an air-conditioned-kiddie-fun-place, Adventure Zone…

Kids rule in Adventure Zone!

Meet Gabby’s cute playmates : Jerry and Jack, the twins from Hong Kong and the children from Sydney -George, Spencer, Jessica and Alex…

George and Jessica playing Wii…

Then George and Jessica were kind enough to let Gabby played Wii after them…

Jerry and Spencer…

Spencer solo…

These kids were simply adorable!

Adventure Zone isn’t only a kiddie colorful playplace but serves as a venue for functions too. Imagine your kids’ celebrating birthday parties, baptism or dedication, or even a simple and intimate get-together with your love ones inside one of these rooms; I bet that’ll be nothing but fun!

I like the Pirate Room the best…

I love its whimsical atmosphere particularly this corner…

Can’t help but to have pictures taken for posterity, hahaha!

One.More.Time.

We also spent few minutes inside the small room called, Circus where the birthday girl assumed the role of the carnival queen for my cam. :)

However, I’m still biased with the Pirate Room.  And you?

We went down for Gabby to try the giant colorful slide…

But wait, the birthday girl also wanted to enjoy the slide! :P Seriously, Before I get to say anything, I saw my mom and Gabby already on their way up to the slide. Mamy took the risk of sliding down those rainbow-colored fun just to be with her grandson and perhaps to make her day more memorable?! :D On the more serious note, Gabby accidentally pulled the sack and hit his right ear with the edge of the slide. He was teary eyed and in pain upon reaching the ground. Thank God he had no serious injury. The crew of Adventure Zone went to us hurriedly to check on Gabby but I told her everything’s OK.

Outside Adventure Zone is another area for a different high. It’s called the Segway. However, we didn’t try it since Gabby’s right ear was still aching. It seems a another must-experience in Golden Sands Resort…

Few steps away from the Adventure Zone is already the public beach…

I had my mom posed with the best background…Mother Nature that is! What were you thinking? ;)

Despite we had a very relaxing beach atmosphere at Golden Sands Resort in Batu Ferringhi, I must state the Philippines still have the most pristine shores. Well, we haven’t brought our feet to Maldives yet.

I tell you, Filipinos have high standards when it comes to resorts and beaches; we can easily spot what’s best from mediocre and something in between. You cannot blame us, we have 7,107 islands back home. Tee-hee! :)

While Gabby was busy making his Mr.Crab-inspired sand creations,

I was snapping few photos of a snake charmer doing good business, este throwing a show-stopping-performance with his rattle snake & cobra with a Caucassian family who soaked under the sun near where we sat. My attention was called by the snake charmer for I was capturing his acts for free. I understand him fully because nobody works these days for free except for charity, of course! Nonetheless, the moment was seized in my lens, hahaha! Sorry!

There were watersports like banana boat ride, parasailing, jet skiing along Batu Ferringhi with legit operators however I find them costly. Imagine a jet ski for RM70 (US$ 22) for only 15 minutes (but then again, Batu Ferringhi is one of the most frequented tourist spots in Penang). At dusk, the sides of the road instantly transforms into a night bazaar. While it might not be the best beach in the world, to us, it’s already a great escape from our routinary lives.

At least, my mom’s happy! :D

I asked Mamy Tessie to assume this pose of leaning her head towards the back rest before I snap my last photo of her in the resort because I simply wanted her to feel and look what she truly deserves at her age now. She has been working for all of us, her family all her life and so I wanted her to be relaxed as much as possible but it still seems to be a luxury to her. I just hope and pray that time will come soon for my mom to be worry-free and have nothing but peace of mind. So help us, God! :)

At around 4:30PM, we collected the cake that Garden Cafe gave Mamy and left the Golden Sands Resort by Shangri La, Penang with varied and joyful memories to cherish.

Happy 60th Birthday, Mamy! Welcome to your senior citizenship! Enjoy the benefits, hehehe!

PS : To my dad and brothers back home, maraming salamat sa padala nyo kay Mamy. To our relatives in Abu Dhabi,  thank you for the flowers; you certainly know Mamita loves those blooms and chocolates! :D

08
Jul
12

GEORGE TOWN FESTIVAL 2012 : JUST GOT BETTER

I anticipated grandiosity in this year’s celebration. I also set no less than great expectations of the pageantry of events. I thought there’s no way that the 4th anniversary of inscription of George Town, Penang as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites could get worse but otherwise. No one can blame me as I experienced George Town Festival 2011 : Tapestry of Cultures last year. I saw, heard, felt, smelt and tasted it as beyond spectacular! A flamboyant display of rich diversities that this cultural melting pot in Southeast Asia is known for. I was simply blown away by that 2011 holiday and I believe this year, it just got better! I haven’t traveled the world but where else can you find streets showcasing arts, heritage, culture, traditions, food, religions, performances and whatnot, mostly for FREE and readily accessible to public all at the same time?

July 7th is the gazetted public holiday for the George Town Festival but people behind it planned and prepared an entire month of merrymaking! This year, it extends from June 15th to July 15th. And if that doesn’t sound grand fiesta to you, I rest my case. ;)

With only my mom in tow, as my wife and our 7-year-old son decided to stay at home to do some chores and rest after, I arrived in George Town from our place in Butterworth on the afternoon of Saturday, July 7th. My mom and I did some necessary errands first, then headed to Plaza Gurney Mall and back to the laterals of Lebuh Chulia.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably known that the Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic‘s murals are all over the key streets of George Town. I assumed the muralist who did those fantastic and whimsical reflections of bits and pieces of life in Penang using mostly children and children’s imagination as his subjects, was commissioned specially for the GTF2012. I showed my mom one of his works located in Lebuh Ah Quee as we began our personal GTF2012 walking tour that weekend.

This Zacharevic’s art installation in Lebuh Ah Quee is an updated version that we saw on our visit last June 23, 2012; before it became more animated, it was firstly presented as ruggedly, rustic and restless looking street painting then…

His masterpieces at one of Penang’s waterfront settlement protected by UNESCO, Chew Jetty

Armenian Street which is my favorite…

and other streets of George Town are always admired by local and foreign tourists.

I regret the fact that I failed to come to Ernest Zacharevic and Gabija’s invitation via facebook and missed their exhibit called Rescube which was a collaboration with few more Malaysian artists.

What I like most of George Town, Penang other than its multi-racial diversities that are so apparent in their flavorful gastronomic delights, colorful and vibrant cultures and varied and inspiring religions, is the fact that this island boasts of creativity in almost every corner.

Another wonderful treat for the public present in this year’s GTF2012 was witnessing Malaysian artists creating their on-the-spot-watercolor paintings. My mom and I were very fortunate to chanced upon these artistic and skillful hands immortalizing parts of Cheah Kongsi and its nearby shophouses along Armenian Street. For few minutes, I was left in awe! :)

Still in Armenian Street, I walked my mom through a souvenir shop called, 14 Living Story which in my humble opinion, is one of the most quaint stores that sells interesting pieces that represent George Town and a few more things about Pulau Pinang. However, since it’s my nth time inside that souvenir shop and I somehow became familiar with what they could offer, I was more fascinated with one of their ornaments –a Chinese money plant! I like this plant and I want money, LOL!!!

Spotted this street performer at the junction of Armenian and Kapitan Keling Streets who’s throwing his unusual neon yoyo up in the air while grooving over an imaginary sound. He drew crowd expectedly.

Then we continued our aimless strolling and walked towards Cannon Street. Et voila, another Ernest Zacharevic’s mural!

I saw him when he did this last June 23, 2012…

The other side of the wall has pink pin wheels to send lovely vibes…

Meanwhile,  at the tail end of Cannon Street comes Lebuh Acheh…

How do you like sweet smiles as a welcoming party? :)

Whenever I fill out forms or converse with Malaysians and tell them that we, Filipinos came from Malay race, I usually get quirky stares because most of them haven’t heard of it yet. One need not google or read history books, there’s proof in things that are common among us. Traditional music with gongs, for one, is shared by two countries.

There were also live demonstrations of other forms of arts and handicrafts from henna tattooing, batik making and basket weaving.

 

Past half hour that we’re roaming George Town streets, my mom and I trooped back to Armenian Street and went inside Cheah Kongsi.

We were in Cheah Kongsi to witness one of a kind expression of Lion Dance. To most of us, Filipinos living in Manila, we usually enjoy such Oriental street performance in Manila Chinatown every Chinese New Year. We might be familiar with Lion and Dragon dances performed on the road with so much ease, but Penangites do it on stilts! The GTF2012 map and guide had Lion Dances on stilts at 6PM and Dragon Dance at 7 in the evening for that day. As soon as we got inside the Cheah Kongsi compound, I let my mom watched over my backpack and reusable shopping bags and thankfully found a nice spot that’s high enough for me to capture the impressive performance.

Yeah, right, I was on stilts too! LOL! :P No, of course not! I stood up the concrete fence with my stance secured and took extra efforts not to fall and break anything important while capturing this feature. So here’s a few of my photos of that amazing Lion Dance on stilts…

One of the breathtaking stunts they did was this…

And these were the two young men who moved the lion on stilts with ease and expertise…

This Lion Dance was tremendously done; absolutely entertaining! :D

There was an hour gap between the Lion dance on stilts and the Dragon dance thus, my mom and I opted to grab some eats from our favorite food place in Lebuh Chulia (photos just before the end of this post) and headed back to Cheah Kongsi before 7PM.

Just a few steps from Yap Kongsi and Yap Temple is a Southern Indian decorative design made of colored grains.  Where else can you experience Hindu, Chinese and Malays co-existing harmoniously? Pardon me but I really I have to state this : Indeed, “Malaysia, Truly Asia!”

We left Lebuh Armenian and headed to Lebuh Acheh where Indian, Thai and Sri Lankan dances will be performed at 8PM. Days before this event, I was personally invited by Ms. Pavaani, the classical Indian dancer whom I met last June 23rd before she performed then. Her email noted that I can capture a few shots of the girls just before their show.

Local and foreign audience in the street including my mom and myself were treated to fascinating cultural dances. First to perform were the very energetic and passionate, Punjabi dancers…

Each group as I understood it, prepared two dances. Each step was engaging; all eyes were glued to the steps of the performers.

I was surpised myself to see Thai and Sri Lankan dancers. I’m not sure if they’re from George Town too or must have been invited to grace the event. Either way, they made the night even more vivid and alive!

After the amusing Thai dances, the group of Ms. Paavani continued presenting “Dancing Feet”, a wonderfully choreographed various styles of Classical Indian dances, much to delight the audience.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the beautiful lady in yellow is Ms. Pavaani…  I believe she leads the group.

It was almost 9PM when we decided to leave and didn’t wait for the Sri Lankan dancers to perform; we saw they have real swords and spear-looking weapons as props. Not because we chicken-out of their performance, but we’re almost dead-tired. We saw they even needed a long table to put all those props in place prior to their performance. We missed their dances but nonetheless, my mom and I were happy with what we experienced. The shows were modestly done in streets yet so exuberant and lavish! :)

This blog entry would not be complete without food post of course! For our early dinner that Saturday, just before we came to watch the Dragon dance in Cheah Kongsi,  I brought my mom to our family favorite, Restoran Kapitan where we indulged in simple but tasteful Indian dishes.

We love Indian dishes from Kapitan however we prefer it less spicy (or for my family –non-spicy at all). We’re glad they have food choices to cater for the taste buds like ours. I ordered Chicken Cheese Kebab with Cheese Naan. It comes with flavorful dips which I like very much. That tangy tamarid, green mango and chili mix is one of the tastes that I usually crave for! It’s perfect to dip the Cheese Naan or Roti Cheese.

Chicken Butter Boneless is the bomb for me! It’s the first time I’ve tasted this and so glad my mom opted for anything without chili. It might be red in color but only because it’s tomato based. Creamy and buttery with hint of tomato sauce with Indian herbs (and spices), it’s another great dip for those Indian breads. I found another favorite in this dish! Can’t wait till Tina and Gabby sample this.

My mom loves Kapitan’s Mango Lassi which I also like. Lassi’s different from the usual and plain juice or fruit shake because it’s yoghurt based. We all washed down our Indian meal with thirst-quenching Mango Lassi…

This post was only about a few hours of a month-long celebration of George Town Festival 2012. It’s not even tip of the iceberg, so to speak. There’s a long line of programs that includes performers from other neighboring countries. So there were Sri Lankan and Thai dancers whom we saw in this D-I-Y-day tour but there are performers from Cambodia, Australia to name a few; not to forget, no less than my country’s pride, The Philippine Madrigal Singers also threw a 2-night concert that regretfully we missed (due to financial limits). More activities are in store for the remaining days of the festivities.

I remain grateful for being an expatriate here in Penang for almost 2 years now. Because of my work here, I and my family get to engaged ourselves in decent revelries like this. Most tourists and travelers would take efforts just to visit this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site but as mentioned, I consider it a blessing to be based in Penang and to experience George Town almost every weekend. This island’s diversities, heritage and gastronomic offerings are its strongest charms that lure tourists from near and beyond. In my opinion, those are the main reasons why George Town Festival should be celebrated by more generations to come.

———————-

01
Jul
12

GABBY IN UPIN & IPIN, LIVE!

When I was in the Philippines some 2 years back, my descriptions of Malaysia only revolved in three phrases. Their country’s very effective Tourism tag line, “Malaysia, Truly Asia!” that’s so compelling to make you feel the urgency to fly to Kuala Lumpur in a blink. Next was the incredibly iconic, Petronas Twin Towers that never fail to mesmerize me at dusk until now; they’re magnificently stunning! And lastly, the most popular animated characters from Malaysia, Upin and Ipin. Our 7-year-old son, Gabby has been into Upin and Ipin even long before coming to Malaysia. He has been watching the show religiously on Disney Channel and made it as one of his favorites. Believe it or not, our kiddo had suggested for the two Malaysian cartoon characters be included in the parade in Hong Kong Disneyland when he was asked by one of the staff during our last visit to the theme park early this year. It’s how big Gabby’s admiration to these duo. And as for me apparently, after I became an expatriate here in Penang, my perceptions about Malaysia have been improved but I still associate the identity of the country with those few phrases, specially Upin and Ipin! :D

30 June 2012, Saturday.  Imagine our joy that night when we saw Upin and Ipin, Live at AutoCity, Juru, Penang! What’s even happier was to see Gabby performed an impromptu dance with Malaysia’s famous cartoon characters on stage with the other children (my wife, captured the stint on video at the last part of this post). Despite the weather didn’t allow us not to perspire, excitement was upon us! :)

We were lucky to be accomodated warmly by Farhan and Daniel, two of the many men behind this seemingly modest yet fun-filled carnival who gave us a VIP access that allowed us, particularly Gabby, to enjoy the rides for free! They even gave us a nod to have a special photo-op with the two mascots after the show but we had to bid goodbye for buffet dinner (blogging next!).

First and only ride we tried as dad-and-son was the bump cars. Admittedly, I had fun more than Gabby! He was a bit surprised on how speedy those cars could go on a single step. He swore he’ll never ride bump cars again but I bet his spur-of-the-moment-decision would change once years are added to his age.

   

After a few carnival rides, we trooped to the venue of the show and while Upin and Ipin were still out of sight, Tina and I were delighted to take turns in capturing the kids who pre-enlisted to join the Upin and Ipin Coloring contest.

Then the much-awaited stars of the show arrived and strolled their way to the stage…

One thing that’s definite about Malaysia : almost the entire country, if not all, love Chicken Dance! It was one of the dances that our company introduced to us during a few-day-workshop years ago; even Gabby instantly learned it when we attended the 2012 MITBCA Blog Awards where no less than the Minister of Tourism led the audience to groove to Chicken Dance! Its popularity to Malaysians perhaps, properly equate to the love for Upin and Ipin.

Now here’s a run down of how Gabby and other children savored that minute on stage dancing Chicken Dance with Upin and Ipin! No rehearsals needed! No kidding! :P

Fastforward Play : Now, please yourself for a minute or so and watch Gabby and the other children’s on-the-spot-performance of Malaysians’ favorite, CHICKEN DANCE with Upin and Ipin on stage!

The children’s happiness was infectious! :D They cheered and danced with Upin and Ipin tirelessly! What a worry-free night it was!

If you’re in Penang, Malaysia (also in time for George Town Festival 2012) or nearby states, and would like to experience “World of Fun with Upin & Ipin”, catch the shows and the carnival that runs from June 30 to August 6, 2012 at 6PM-12MN daily at AutoCity, Juru, Penang. Admission rates are only 4 ringgit for adult and 2 ringgit for kanak-kanak or children. Tokens are sold at 2 ringgit each. *Special thanks goes to “World of Fun with Upin & Ipin” particularly to Farhan and Daniel for everything! :D

 —————————-

14
Jun
12

CELEBRATING FATHERHOOD

Some of the most worthwhile endeavors in life aren’t easy. Whoever said,  “Any man can be a father but it takes a ton of efforts to be a Dad”  really understood what fatherhood is all about.  As Gabby’s Big Daddy for almost 8 years now, each day is a happy one. In fact, life could never be better; however a constant challenge too.  It’s not simple to offer quality time and devote your entire life with unconditional love to your kid. To someone who would claim otherwise, I am definite he/she has not yet experienced being one, therefore has no right to make accusations or pass judgment. Waking up every morning to go to work to provide for the family is beyond purposeful. It actually transcends manhood.  Being there when your son asks you to be with him, thinking of his condition when he’s sick and you’re at work, listening to every intuitive queries a growing boy has, playing with him when there’s something more to do are very far from being uncomplicated. Things that come with being a parent can certainly take a lot of time to accomplish, even longer time to get things right. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there’s no school that teaches Perfect Parenthood 101, right? You eventually learn it as you become one. Life is somehow fulfilled no matter how imperfect, if you have your own child. No amount of money, recognition or success however you quantify it, can surpass the joys of raising a kid; every minute is a bliss! :)

And my nose is getting taller each day seeing Gabby grow and spending moments with him is nothing but priceless!

On the other hand, it may not be apparent because we’re not that expressive, I am grateful to my own Daddy. He worked as a (Safeway) Supermarket Manager for nearly 2 decades in most countries in the Middle East (while my mom was working back home as an Accountant/Comptroller) and  of course,  he’s a big part of whatever we (me & my 3 brothers) have become. Despite his own imperfections as a father to us or at least to me, regardless of whatever we’ve been through as a family, no matter how faulty he is, he remains to be our one and only Daddy. And I remain thankful.

On a lighter note,  I snatched this family photo from my paternal clan’s facebook account; the picture was taken some time in the 1960s with my entire paternal family. My Daddy Benruh (reverse nickname of Ruben) seated immediately beside my late grandfather, was noted to be a “pasaway” (insert English translation here) even as early as those days (until now, right Daddy? hehehehe!). Proof to that, according to the comment on this photo by my 3rd brother posted on fb, was the wound on his knee. Although to be honest, I never took any measures to ask him of the cause of that wound he had on this photo, it might be from a pure accident, who knew. ;)

My late paternal grandfather (seated beside my aunt, and my lola or his wife next to my aunt), apparently raised all of his children well (Can you count them all in photo?) and my daddy (and mommy) has reared 4 boys and here I am, I only have one (for now);  I can’t help but imagine how more complex fatherhood was for my lolo and my dad.

Fatherhood, obviously like motherhood to women, is a lifelong commitment. I highly consider it as my greatest blessing! :) It is my pleasure until my last breath and my life’s biggest achievement to be Gabby’s Big Daddy! :P

15
May
12

TEDDY FOR A CAUSE

No, these photos were not taken from a toy museum nor a toy shop but a garden-themed restaurant in Batu Ferringhi, Penang. The second floor (or as they call it here in Malaysia– the first level) of the restaurant was transformed into a venue for a FREE exhibit where handmade teddy bears were featured; most were sold, some were only for display. The proceeds of the sale went to a charity, caring for the children of Penang. With the few pieces I’ve seen as labeled, tag prices ranged from 75 ringgit to 880 ringgit.  In as much as I understood the cause of the event, unfortunately, my budget didn’t allow me to contribute and just captured the event for posterity. :)

Helen Lee’s Handmade Bear Exhibition was presented last April 15- May 2, 2012, 6PM-11PM by Ferringhi Garden Restaurant as a charity event for the benefit of Children’s Protection Society of Penang.

The name Teddy Bear comes from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was “Teddy”. The name originated from an incident on a bear hunting trip in Mississippi in November 1902, to which Roosevelt was invited by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. There were several other hunters competing, and most of them had already killed an animal. A suite of Roosevelt’s attendants, led by Holt Collier, cornered, clubbed, and tied an American Black Bear to a willow tree after a long exhausting chase with hounds. They called Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he should shoot it. He refused to shoot the bear himself, deeming this unsportsmanlike, but instructed that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery, and it became the topic of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. While the initial cartoon of an adult black bear lassoed by a handler and a disgusted Roosevelt had symbolic overtones, later issues of that and other Berryman cartoons made the bear smaller and cuter. -Sourced via Wiki

13
May
12

MOTHER’S DAY 2012 : SWEETNESS OVERLOAD

Bonding moments while preparing a no-bake-chocolate-cake-with-Cadbury-frosting.

An extra huge greeting card made by Gabby as his school project.

A bouquet of carnations (my mom’s favorite) from relatives in Abu Dhabi (my youngest brother, cousin & cousin-in-law & my niece).

A tub of COKLAT flavored ice cream.

And unconditional LOVE, GRATITUDE and my LOVE for our LOVE-HATE-relationship. ;)

Thank You, God for creating MOTHERS! :D

09
May
12

2012 MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA BEST EXPAT BLOG

There are moments in our lives that can be described as

unforgettable,

priceless,

SURREAL!

In my 35 years of existence and in my five years of blogging,

this once-in-a-lifetime-event is one of those special moments.

I am very blessed to have experienced it with MY FAMILY. :D

It’s my honor, joy and pleasure to receive the 2012 Malaysia Tourism International Bloggers Awards -Best Expat Malaysia My Second Home  Blog from the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia in the Gala Awards Night held at Saloma Theater in Kuala Lumpur, 8th May 2012.

I share this blissful moment with the people I live for –MY FAMILY,

with this blog’s readers and followers,

with my great friends

and all of my students in the Philippines and in Malaysia,

with the generous and selfless people who took time and efforts to vote for this humble site,

with my fellow Filipino bloggers who mostly remain an inspiration.

I am grateful to the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for including an Expat blog category in this international event. I am also thankful to the esteemed panel of judges and to the honorable Minister of Tourism Malaysia herself, Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen (the beautiful Malaysian lady in light blue gown in the photos), for empowering social media particularly, blogs and bloggers with such event and recognition. My greetings and congratulations go out to the other 15 blogger-winners of this prestigious event. This achievement will serve as a motivation for me to continue what I have considered a passion and a part of my lifestyle.

To God be the glory!

Mabuhay!

04
May
12

THANK YOU!

This blog is celebrating its 5th birthday on May 8th, 2012. Yes, it has been 5 years of blogging about life’s simple plesaures -family, food and fun. I honestly think that it has gradually evolved from what it has been before to what it is now. My blog has been growing with my documentation of my family’s, particularly my son’s memorable activities. Since 2007, I have been considering blogging more than a part of my limited social life but one of my passions that makes me happy and whole. In as much as I wanted to throw another blog anniversary online contest which has been well-received annually, or support or conduct a charity work, or at least buy a delicious cupcake-with-candle-for this site; time, chance and finances restricted me in doing so.  Nevertheless, there are so much reasons to rejoice and be grateful for.

A  DOWNPOUR OF  PRICELESS  BLESSINGS

Back in December of 2011, this blog received an invitation to partake in an all-sponsored Hong Kong Disneyland tour after it was selected from hundreds of blog sites from the Philippines. And by the middle of February of this year, my family and I flew from Malaysia to HKDL and joined 5 other esteemed Filipino bloggers from various fields of interests with their friends and families for that incredibly fantastic 3D2N family-food-fun-adventure.

Then came last month, April, my blog received its highest pageview per day – it garnered 6,776 views all in ONE DAY! These figures to most people may not be impressive but I so appreciate this considering that I am not a celebrity, neither I post sensational stories. My overall stat may have not reached half a million yet, but I am always overwhelemd with support from friends, readers and blog followers.

Also last April, I chanced upon a tweet on twitter that Ministry of Tourism Malaysia will be holding its very first Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference & Awards. I immediately clicked the link and found out that one of its 16 categories is to honor expatriates blogging about anything that has to do with tourism in Malaysia. I read the criteria, process and mechanics of joining, and nominated my blog (Oh yes, I nominated my own blog because I believe that recognition and appreciation should initially come from within) and began campaigning for it.

With guerrilla marketing strategy, I sent individual and bulk messages in facebook and twitter to my friends, relatives, present and former students and blog readers. “Judging criteria is based on 80% public voting and 20% on judges’ decision (10% site or blog content, 5% design and layout, 5% on ethics and effectiveness)”.  With such mechanics, I believe the feat is so much sweeter not only because the trophy will be coming from the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia itself but the VOTES of THOSE GENEROUS & SELFLESS PEOPLE will all be counted.

I took a chance and professional judging and people’s votes made me win! I AM HUMBLED.

With 5 other blogs as finalists, Beyond Toxicity won the Best Expat Malaysia My Second Home Blog Category. And as I ran down the list of 376 blogs from the 16 categories, this blog ranked 6th in overall standing.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

So on the evening of May 8, Tuesday, my family and I will grace the MITBCA 2012 Awards Night in Saloma Theater in Kuala Lumpur.

And with utmost sincerity, I am thankful to the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for empowering the international bloggers as part of social media and for recognizing the humble contribtions of expatriates in this side of Southeast Asia.

I am also forever grateful to those people who took few minutes of their valued time to entrust their votes to this blog.

Maraming Salamat po!

Terima Kasih!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinong bloggers! :)

19
Apr
12

LET’S DO THIS!

Beyond Toxicity  X  Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference & Awards 2012

Here we go!  This personal blog that gives reverence to life’s simple pleasures – family, food and fun,  is one of the official entries to 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards 2012 under the Expat Malaysia My Second Home Category. You know how I love my country, the Philippines but living and working in Penang for almost 2 years has made Malaysia my second home now. 

There will be a 2-day conference set on May 8th and May 9th, 2012 at Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur that will highlight and feature talks, workshops and panel discussions on tourism and social media to be conducted by a list of esteemed speakers. Registration is FREE! To know more of the details and schedules of the event, visit MITBCA website at http://mitbca.com/conference.php

I’d like to thank MITBCA 2012 and Malaysia Ministry of Tourism for having this event to honor the people behind social media and their humble contributions to the tourism industry in Malaysia. I take pride in being one of the MITBCA 2012 nominees under EXPAT Malaysia My Second Home Category!

“Judging criteria is based on 80% public voting and 20% on judges’ decision (10% site or blog content, 5% design and layout, 5% on ethics and effectiveness)” sourced via MITBCA 2012

The awards shall be given on 8th May 2012 in Saloma, Kuala Lumpur (the date incidentally coincides with this site’s 5th birthday! Yes, Beyond Toxicity will be celebrating its 5th anniversary soon!). As mentioned, voting accounts for 80%  so if you think this blog deserves to win, show some love, support and care -tons of them by CLICKING THE VOTE BUTTON on this LINK :

VOTE FOR BEYOND TOXICITY http://docgelo.wordpress.com!

Maraming Salamat po!  Terima Kasih!  Thank you so much!

*to browse or review my blog posts about our Malaysian adventures, click the links on my sidebar under Another Day In Malaysia category. :)

*EDITED : Voting ended before midnight of May 1, 2012. Thank you so much to those generous people who expressed support! :)

07
Apr
12

MOMENTS WE LIVE FOR

These are some of my favorite shots taken several weeks back when my family and I dined in two food places in Gurney Drive (that deserves a separate post). Then, the last photo was taken a couple of days ago after Gabby handed his advance Easter greeting card, one for me and another for his mom (hence, the date). I just cannot help but to smile whenever I look at these photos that captured little moments that we all enjoyed. They keep me sane, actually! :)

Our young family life has so many imperfections and we have problems here and there but we take efforts to smile and baby steps to rise up from life’s challenges. :) Waking up every single morning with my family is a huge blessing already that outweighs any hassles. At the end of the day, the fact that Tina, Gabby and I remain happy and alive together for better or worse, for rich or poor, in sickness and in health is reason enough to be grateful to the Lord and celebrate.

Happy Easter! God bless. :)

10
Feb
12

EXPERIENCING THAIPUSAM 2012 IN PENANG

*WARNING : Some photos contain SELF-MORTIFICATION BY PIERCING.  The volume of photos in this post may be overwhelming. That’s how I define something in epic proportion, LOL!!! :P

——————————————————————————————–

Seriously, how deep is your faith?

I am astronomically far from being religious but I certainly keep a constant communication with my Creator and Savior. My family and I don’t go to Catholic masses that often. I have not read the entire Holy Bible neither I am familiar with all the Catholic Saints. Not that I am proud of it but logically, there’s no use of being a hypocrite. Now, this  isn’t about our own faith nor our own religion. However, a reflection of one’s own is unavoidable particularly when you witness someone else’s expression of faith.

They crushed and smashed countless coconuts on the ground where the silver chariot of Hindu God, Murugan passed by a day prior to Thaipusam. The same scene was noticed in front of their Hindu temples at Thaipusam festival itself.

I missed it last year so I didn’t pass the chance to experience Thaipusam this year. It’s an annual festival celebrated by the Hindus here in Penang, Malaysia every last week of January or the first week of February. This year, it fell on dates Feb.6,7, and 8. The second day (Feb.7,2012) was declared public Holiday in Malaysia (read: And Feb 6 which was a Monday was also a holiday for the Muslim’s Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday, thus we got a loooong weekend again!).

There’s no excuse for me not to attend or at least witness for a few hours this remarkable religious event. However, Tina decided to spend the day at home to rest with Gabby; luckily, my mom who’s on her second month of vacation here in Penang (she applied for another month of Visa extension) was so willing to tag along with me to experience Thaipusam.

Peacock feathers among Hindus, I read somewhere they supposed to symbolize protection from harm and snakes. Can someone confirm?

My mom and I took a pre-arranged taxi cab (read : I called the driver few days prior) from our place in Butterworth that picked us up at 6 in the morning to Jetty where we had 12minute-ferry ride to Jetty in George Town, Pulau Pinang. From there, Thaipusam-Shuttle buses brought us to what supposed to be the location of the Hindu festival.

Then a funny thing happened to us. This was because we followed “Spongebob!” :P

Just before alighting the bus, Mamy asked me if I know the place. I told her that I just read it’s held every year at Waterfall Road. The almost clueless me told my mom to just follow pilgrims en route to the site. Logical, eh?  We saw one Indian family, barefooted who walked with a Spongebob balloon. We followed the balloon!  I saw a familiar looking hospital and there was no sight of a hill, neither a Hindu Temple nor the Thaipusam festival itself. The Indian family that we thought will lead us to the site went directly to their car that was parked at a gasoline station. Toinks!!! :D Then we concluded, they’re done with their devotion and we’re kind of lost at that moment!

My mom saw a Chinese lady at the bus stop who gave us instructions of where to go.  And after seeing a lengthy stretch of road shut to traffic and people in sarees walking barefooted, we knew we’re already on the right track.  So we walked, walked and walked until we reached the foot of the hill at Waterfall Road.

It was still dark at nearly 7 in the morning. Didn't I tell you that sun rises in Malaysia later than you think?

The presence of some people handing free cups of coffee which we didn’t sample, those many temporary stalls selling vegetarian food, commercially branded fresh milk in tetra packs (Hindus put milk in brass and silver pots and used it as offering to Murugan), souvenir items and a lot more made the atmosphere so alive and joyous.

But the day wasn’t meant for merry-making but more so for expression of faith, devotion and thanksgiving.

Malaysian Hindus proudly wore clean shaven heads smeared with sandalwood paste. This is one expression of their spiritual belief a Tamil family shares.

At few minutes past 7 in the morning, there’s already a build up of volume of faithfuls and Indian pilgrims queued patiently just to worship their deity Murugan.

A parade of various colors of sarees amidst the yellow and saffron clad devotees was a feast to the eyes. But frankly, as my eyes were delighted to their gears, my nose didn’t like the aroma of mixed coconuts smashed on the grounds with smell of fresh milk; it hit my olfaction and was wafted as curdled milk-like smell and it was definitely a- no-good-for-me; Sorry!  Nonetheless, I cannot resist the picturesque event happening right before my eyes. Kaya deadma na sa amoy!

Fresh milk were either carried in silver or brass pots as offering.

Before devotees climb the hills via flight of stairs, they drop by this Hindu temple and venerate.

A Sea of Faith

People across the life span gathered in troops to celebrate their faith and religion.

An arresting sight of brass and silver milk-pots called PAAL KUDAM.

They carried brass and silver pots of milk over their heads as offerings to Hindu deity, Murugan.

Elders…

Men…

Women…

and even children showed their devotion with pride.

KAVADIS are ornately adorned religious loads carried over their shoulders as offerings to Murugan.

Kavadis and more kavadis…

Didn’t I mention they walked without footwears?

Are these betel leaves?

Do you have any idea what’s on that saffron sling?

Couples who were blessed with offsprings over the past year carried their babies in saffron slings under stalks of sugarcane.

When he grows older, he will understand everything…  *i hope*

Thaipusam, therefore is a celebration of Thanksgiving and Penance as well…

Thuderous drum rolls esorted this devotee…

He was one of those who had vels or piercing and…

Drums that accompanied this devotee.

hooks individually attached to his back subcutaneously.  Note it was bloodless…

The same man almost caught everyone’s attention for a while when he began to move like a galloping horse that gave a more pull and tension to the hooks at his back. Painful to my eyes!

At this point, I knelt down and clicked my cam and became breathless for a sec.

Like all pilgrims, the man waited his turned, step by step on the stairs towards Murugan.

I saw a few non-looking Indian who professed their Hindu faith too..

Others had lime to weigh down their hooks attached to their back.

Some had miniature milk pots used as weights for their hooks.

I wonder how heavy this Kavadi was.

Peacock feathers were used to decorate their  Kavadis.

Imagine if someone accidentally pull or push either ends of that piercings. Call me morbid or paranoid but it surely is painful if your not in trance or at least on anesthesia.

More piercing and kavadis…

While I was busy clicking my cam, my mom was waiting for me at the sloped area still at foot of the hill. She had an engaging conversation with tourists from abroad. The not-so-ordinary-couple whom she conversed with was from Auckland, New Zealand.  What made them extraordinary among the many tourist out there (no, my mom did not spent hours talking to all of them, hell no! hahaha!), was the fact that they’re traveling the globe from New Zealand by their own boat. Repeat, they’re traveling the globe from NZ with their own boat docked in Langkawi Island in North of Penang. My mom, who was with us in Auckland, NZ back in 2005 during our 7-week break then, was truly amazed with the uncommon passion of the couple she talked with.

I called my mom after an hour and we decied to leave. I guess we had seen enough.

But en route from Waterfall Road to the main exit road (where we followed Spongebob), we saw some more devotees…

As my mom and I left the site of Thaipusam, we carried in our memories how Hindus worship their God, manifest their religion and practice their faith. Although it’s totally different from ours, nonetheless a common belief in Superior Being makes us all mere mortals and far from being seamless.

05
Feb
12

THE COLORS OF CNY 2012 IN GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

Road closure is inevitable when there’s either a repair or an important event. More than a week ago, the streets of George Town, Penang were not accessible to traffic because of the Chinese New Year Heritage and Cultural Celebration.

Kapitan Keling Street along Lebuh Chulia : Closed for the festivities

Everyone’s feet were on the go to welcome the Lunar Year of the Dragon!

Every spot and almost every laterals of Lebuh Chulia rendered a festive mood. Even Penang’s famous trishaws were dressed to the nines for the occasions!

Do you have any idea in mind about the next photo? Have you seen similar dry runs before?

They're rehearsing LION DANCE ON STILTS; Yup! LION DANCES ON AIR are observed in this part of Southeast Asia! Roads are not enough to dance to the beat of the drums! ....Too bad the shows were scheduled 7 and 9 that evening and I had to go home early. :(

As I marveled at the various preparations to make the event lavish and merry, I followed a few groups of people walking down the red carpet.

Walking on Red Carpet

Youngsters who rule the drums came in troops…

Drum roll, please!

Their thunderous drum rolls led me to the Opera Stage of Khoo Kongsi Temple…

The Opera Stage had these kids in traditional Chinese costumes prancing in lively tunes…

I only spent few minutes inside the Cannon Square of Khoo Kongsi because “something happened” to me (don’t ask what for now, will post it one day. Let’s just say, it happened all for the love of this hobby called photography). Moving on…

I exited the compound of Khoo Kongsi and went back to one of the streets of George Town…

Buddhist temples and clan mansions at this side of Malaysia are located left and right! :P

As I turned my back, another visual feast greeted my eyes : Chinese Opera Rehearsal…

The artists were stunningly beautiful in their costumes despite sans make up! I think this is because they proudly wear their culture on their skin.

Then, my feet brought me to this corner where kids were practicing what I assumed as yo-yo.

I wonder what they call this uniquely looking yo-yo. These kids are amazing! They're practicing the skill in sync

One more temple facade and I found myself back in Armenian Street.

In one of the souvenir stalls there, my eyes caught these pieces, won my heart and made me smile…

I know Tina would love these paintings as she appreciates art too. If only I have an extra budget for pretty but unnecessary things, I would have brought a frame or two for her. Perhaps, next time…

Do they appeal to you?

I’m sorry I failed to get the name of the artist, most of the artworks weren’t signed too so there’s no way for me to credit them.

CNY 2012 is being observed in Penang from 23rd January to 15 days after. A lot more streets will surely witness dragon and lion dances in the remaining days of the event; either on the grounds or on top of the stilts!

I know red is considered to be the most auspicious of all the colors. Does black attracts good fortune too? I guess so. It’s not a black cat anyway, it’s a lion! LOL! hehehe :D

And among the volume of  inspiring sights I’ve seen, this one’s most enticing…*wink*

01
Feb
12

DRAGONS IN KUALA LUMPUR & PENANG

As I am an ordinary spectator of the biggest annual event for the Chinese community here in Malaysia, my eyes continue to feast on the colors and festive moods extremely associated with the Spring Festival, the Lunar Year or simply, the Chinese New Year. It’s such a delight to learn that at the end of every grandiose day of celebration, a family reunion dinner and gatherings with friends remain to be the occasion’s most inspiring spirit!

Apparently, 2012 is the year of the DRAGON.

“In Sung Dynasty (a Chinese imperial dynasty lasting from AD 960 – 1279) texts, the dragon is described as having the head of an ox, muzzle of a donkey, eyes of a shrimp, horns of a deer, body of a serpent covered with fish scales, and feet of a phoenix.  The dragon usually clutches a pearl symbolic of its super-natural powers.  Invariably accompanied by thunder and rain, dragons move like lightning and whirlwinds – – all powerful yet totally unpredictable” (-sourced here).

And because Tina and I, together with my mom who’s with us currently here in Penang, are all under the DRAGON sign, behold my blog’s tribute to the ultimate auspicious symbol representing success and happiness…

In KUALA LUMPUR, dragons come in varied elegance…

At Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, My

Detail shot of one of the dragons in Pavilion Mall…

Pavilion Mall, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

And its entirety…

Pavilion Mall outdid Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex in terms of volume and size of their dragon displays. This is how Pavilion Mall’s 600-foot-dragon looks like…

And what’s a Chinese New Year celebration without dragon dances?

Embroidered dragon in a man’s court suit on display at Pavilion Mall…

In PENANG, the Chinese community also shows solidarity and unity in welcoming the New Lunar Year…

Drum rolls and beats make the atmosphere so stellar!

Armenian and Kapitan Keling Streets welcome everyone with this dragon-designed arch.

Dragons in Pulau Pinang are everywhere!  From stage…

to novelty stores selling stuffed dragons…

and street kiosks with paper ones…

fifteen ringgit is two hundred ten pesos. mahal!

The streets of George Town, particularly the laterals of Lebuh Chulia display a lot more dragons…

Do you like your dragon on textile?

which are obviously hand-painted…

Or would you care your dragon be inked on you?

To environmentalists and those who care for Mother Earth, a dragon made of recycled bottles surely looks awesome!

but to foodies like my family and me, these last two photos certainly seems enticing!

Gong Xi Fa Cai, everyone! :D

*CNY in Malaysia this year starts 23rd January 2012 until 15 days after.

08
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 19 : OUR BIG BINONDO FOOD WOK!

Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :

—————————–

04th January 2012, Wednesday.  In our last stop of our Binondo food trip inside Sa Lido Panciteria, one of the senior Chinese men seated at the table where I passed by to exit, called my attention and asked me, “Pogi, Pogi, saan ba lalabas iyang piniktyuran nyo, sa ‘NO RESERVATIONS’ ni ANTHONY BOURDAIN?“…..Me : “…po?  …In an instant, Ivan Man Dy approached him and explained that we will do some blog posts about it and not TV.

That moment reminded me that I was fortunate to be one of those who was tour-guided by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks just like what he did with Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations. I was silently smiling as I walked down the stairs out of that restaurant.

After Tina, my father-in-law (who’s now back in the US) and I attended Ivan’s invitation for him to tour us inside Malacanang Palace last December, he invited me and my family again for his Big Binondo Food Wok which I haven’t tried. Despite I have been to Ongpin Street and the rest of Binondo isn’t new to me, I was thrilled with the idea of going through the laterals of Manila again but this time, on a guided tour by the no-less than the main man himself of Old Manila Walks. He set the date to 4th of January, told me it would be his personal food tour of Binondo for us, and we’ll not be joining the other tourist.

Our vacation days went by and sadly at our last week in Pinas right after New Year, Gabby and I acquired cough manifested with fever :(. We’ve started on medications but as of this posting, we still have residual signs and symptoms. Because of this plus a handful of clearances that we had to secure from local government offices and our PRC license renewal, I almost turned down Ivan’s Binondo invitation. But things fell into places that I (and Gabby) felt better the night before the scheduled walking tour, and our documents were secured in a day. Thus, I was able to join the group of big time foodies (believe me, ako lang ang small time). I left my VERY OWN “BINONDO GIRL” at home to take care of our son and start packing our luggage back to Penang.

I was the last one to arrived at 1PM meet-up at the lobby of Binondo Church; thank God I was never late. We wasted no time and walked our way towards Carvajal Street….

One of the quintessential laterals of Binondo, Carvajal Street.

With lots of fruits, some carts with veggies, sun dried and smoked fish, some eateries and a bookstore, Carvajal Street is a long and narrow fascinating lateral of Binondo. It was my first time there, actually!

Our first stop was Quick Snack…Lesson: Do not underestimate simplicity of the signboard, food may blow your taste buds away! hehehe. :D

Ivan mentioned we’re in for 3 of his personal favorite food places in Binondo that he doesn’t include in his usual tours; reason : will eat up time of his walking tour.

At Quick Snack, Ivan stuffed us with what he called appetizers….

This Tofu Dish is SURREAL! ...ang sarap!

My favorite was this tofu dish. I like its crisp and crunchy coating because it’s fried but remained soft inside. The sauce was simple but to die-for.

Also on our table were plateful of kuchay empanada. I’ve tasted kuchay dumplings both steamed and fried from another Binondo eatery, Dong Bei, but never a kuchay empanada. It was interestingly good.

Kuchay Empanada.

Oyster cake is one of the hawker dishes in George Town and the rest of Pulau Pinang however, in my 18 months of living and working here, I haven’t dared try it yet. I never thought that Binondo would give my palate a sample of this seafood delight. It reminded me of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pie.

Oyster cake

Tsinoy cuisine would not be complete without a noodle dish.

What was told by Ivan as a light merienda cum appetizer turned out to be a heavy one; we’re all stuffed at our first stop!  Then we walked towards the end of Carvajal which is Nueva Street, a spot in Binondo where paper, stationaries or school supplies and uniforms of all colleges and universities are being sold, in retail and in bulk. We entered a hopia place, one that’s familiar to me and my family other than Eng Bee Tin…

What's your flavor? Tell me, what's youf flavor. ... haha! :)

Inside Holand Hopia, Ivan quickly showed us the different flavors of hopia which are ALL being sampled in his Big Binondo Food Wok. He also featured some other delights that are must-have for the Chinese New Year celebration. Case in point, the tikoy or that glutinous rice cake. Apparently, it symbolizes unity and oneness, but now, tikoy is being brought to the next level with its impressive variant and flavor. Have you ever tried dunking your fork at a tikoy beautifully shaped as a kois? One of our former Tsinoy Nursing student before gifted me and Tina a box of it with a pair of kois-shaped tikoy. It took us days to stare at it and to decide whether to eat or not. :)

As my fellow bloggers’ eyes roamed around the small food shop, the moment became nostalgic when my eyes spotted those peanut-caoated angpaw. It reminded me of my maternal grandmother who raised us; angpaw was her favorite and I used to buy her a pack as pasalubong before.

Tikoy became so versatile in flavors. There’s that Ube and Mango tikoy. Have you tried these flavors?

Tsinoys or Filipinos in general are naturally innovative. They usually never run out of new ideas to introduce to the market. Inisde Holand Hopia, I first found HOPTIKS, a fusion of hopia and tikoy all in one! How amazing!

After Nueva Street, we found our way to Ongpin. We saw that famous peculiar street sign again at the corner of Salazar and Ongpin. I asked Ivan the reason why the first letter N of Ongpin was inverted, he replied it must be out of carelessness or plain stupidity. Regardless of the reason, it remains to be the most photographed street sign in Metro Manila.

Ivan pointed out to us the original hopia in Ongpin comes from this simple and unassuming bakery…

The old Tsinoy couple gave Ivan sample of their old-school hopia that’s still wrapped in red Japanese paper.

It’s obvious that Binondo is an interesting community at the heart of Manila. There’s food, there’s culture and heritage and there’s history. At a new age building where Sweethearts Balloons (for parties and all) and other establishments are located, this National Historic signage is posted that an ordinary Ongpin-goer would not easily noticed. The sign deserves a second look.

From Salazar and Benavidez Streets, we strolled towards the second restaurant, ROSSO. Here, Ivan wanted all of us to sample a uniquely delicious offering of a hot pot – Sichuan style!

Most of us are familiar with Yakimix, Tong Yang and other Hot Pots in the Metro but having it Sichuan style is totally different.  We began to order two variants –spareribs and chicken.  They were severd in stew. Ivan explained that the difference lies not only on the taste; as Sichuan is known to be spicy, spicier, spiciest, haha! but also on how you eat it. In the usual hot pot even here in Penang, you eat the broth with everything on it. In Rosso’s Sichuan style hot pot, you eat first the stewed meat then a new soup base would be pour before you mix the other ingredients. Quite interesting!

The sparerib stew was so delicious, I preferred it over chicken.

Ivan asked all the members of our group to order ingredients for our hot pot. The unanimous favorite is the cheese ball (a fishball like with melted cheese inside, yummy!).

Deliciously good! :D

Another Sichuan dish that was served was Sichuan water cooked beef that’s so tender and flavorful…

But if there’s one thing that would make me go back to Binondo and eat at Rosso again, it’s this dish –Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork. This plate made me crave for a double cup of steamed rice!!! It was that good! There’s a burst of flavors in my mouth that pleasantly stimulated everything in my palate. It’s one of the best pork dishes I’ve tasted!

Then as we were almost struggling to eat more, Ivan brought us all to our final stop -Sa Lido Restaurant.

The second floor of that bank promises a coffee-panciteria area perfectly fit for Chinese men discussing their families and businesses with their old time friends.  If Starbucks Coffee didn’t hit Manila by storm, this type of panciteria would be the best option.

As I have surrendered to Rosso’s Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork as the best tasting food for that day, I thought twice when I tried Lido’s Pork Asado.  The slice of meat cooked in wood fire oven effortlessly melted in my mouth and offered its smoky delicious taste. I also considered this as the best Pork Asado in town. You will definitely like it even sans sauce or gravy. Two thumbs up and a must-try! :D

Ever heard and tasted HOTOTAI? I’ve long heard of this soup dish but never have tried it until last week. Thanks Ivan, it was heavenly!

Hototai’s tasteful until its last drop. :)

Ivan never forgot to order his favorite siomai.

Asado buns and Camaron rebosado, anyone?

Again, a Chinese cuisine is never complete without anything to represent longevity. Ang sarap ng Lo Mee na to!

Lido serves one of the best coffee in town. I can’t choose between coffee and tea so I had them both.

And what a glorious day of eating Chinese food it was and so perfect to end it sweetly with Lychee and almond dessert. Yummy!

We ended our half day Binondo Food Wok with our gastric pits overflowing. Thank you so much, Ivan Man Dy and Old Manila Walks for that sumptuous treat! We truly enjoyed it. :D

For the readers and followers out there who would like to experience Binondo in its most colorful and delicious ways, I highly suggest you join Old Manila Walks Big Binondo Food Wok on Chinese New Year. You’ll get a taste and stuffed yourself with Chinese cuisine, stroll with the dancing dragons and lions, and immerse with the diversity of Manila Chinatown has to offer with the best tour guide in town, Ivan Man Dy no less.  Below are the details of what’s in store for you.

the BIG Binondo Food WOK (Chinese New Year Edition):

Nibbling Our Way Through Chinatown

January 21 (Saturday) @ 1:00 PM- 5:30  PM (approx)
January 22 (Sunday) @ 8:00 AM-12: 30 PM (approx)

@: 2:00 PM-6:00 PM (approx)

January 23 (Monday 1st day CNY) @ 8:00 AM-12:30 P.M. (approx)

新年快樂

Happy Lunar Near Year!

恭喜發財

Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

"Oh yes, its that time of the year again when we BINGE ourselves silly as we welcome the the Lunar New Year with a BIG, BIG BITE! It's the BEST time of the year to do the BIG Binondo Food WOK as the year of the rabbit hops away and we ROAR into the year for the Dragon!

So what are you waiting for? Let us paint the town RED, join in the festivities(while filling up our stomachs!) as we usher in the Lunar New Year in Chinatown!

Rate: P1,500.00/head (inclusive of tasting menu and lotsa fun and surprises!)
      **Slots limited.Book early!

And if you happen to be participating this wonderful tour and/or would refer this to your friends/relatives, please don’t forget to tell Ivan you read it here on my blog.  Maraming Salamat po!  *wink*

02
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 11 : OUR STUDENTS’ WEDDING

Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :

—————————–

27 December 2011, Tuesday.  This was the day I first stood as one of the Principal Sponsors to the wedding of our 2 former students, Carlo & Nicole. The event was surely one for the books because I became a Ninong sa Kasal for the very first time at the age of 35. :)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Quezon City

Without hesitation, I accepted their invitation to become one of their godparents because they’re two of our good students. Tina and I became their clinical instructor and lecturer respectively back in the days when they’re still studying Nursing.  They’re remarkable in the sense that they were never late to my classes, didn’t have any failing marks, and were obedient even if I asked them to do a multiple page homework. hehe :)  Despite my age is considerably younger for the part, i took it as a pleasure as they wanted to regard me as one of their second parents.

You know it's Christmas season in our country when leaves of Poinsettias become red. And it's nice to see them lining one of the longest aisles in the Metro.

I like looking at stained glass windows

Team docgelo was ever present, of course! :)

My beautiful family wearing Punjabi dresses, steal purchases from Little India, Penang.

To be honest, the wedding could’ve been perfect if not for the uber toxic wedding coordinator who also stood as mass commentator. I’m sorry if she’s a relative of the bride or the groom but in my book, if you chose to assume the job, then you should be the one in control of everything, not the very first person to be anxious.

When the part that the entourage needed to queue, she started reading the names for us to line up.  I asked her, “Miss, saan ako?” without a smile and worst, without looking at me she replied, “Kahit saan na lang po, di na sunod-sunod iyan.” And then the unexpected happened –Everyone has a partner except me. :(  I was looking for the lady-coordinator but she’s out of sight already. When I was about to walk, I told a man in red shirt (who happened to be one of the choir), that I don’t have a partner. Thankfully to him, he graciously asked one of the couples’ aunt to stand as proxy.

Meet Mrs. Cuchapin, a relative of the couple who came home from Italy. She was so generous to walk with me down the aisle to the altar. Mabuhay po kayo, Maam! At Maraming Salamat!

I was true to my word that I will photograph the bride before she walks down the aisle…

Best wishes, Nicole!

And then there’s that obligatory respect for the parents…

Mano po! FYI, we share the same gesture of respect with Malaysians.

And before the couple became one, my cam was busy snapping at these kiddie fun!

cheers!

This was my "I wish we have a baby girl too-moment."

And then they became one…

Having experienced the same momentous event 8 years ago with Tina, I remember one of the most essential things in coming up with a successful wedding –the church or the wedding venue should be proximal to the reception. And Nicole and Carlo made the right decision in choosing Mount Carmel Church and Oasis, Manila; these 2 areas are just stone throw away.

More photo-ops for Team docgelo at Oasis. :)

Their 3-tiered deconstructed cake…nice!

I had the honor of sitting at the VIP area…

The program was lively hosted by a lady who could effortlessly pass as a trainer at call center office because of her wonderful pronunciation and a sing-songal diction.   :)

As the newlyweds became busy with photo-ops with all their guests, and people started lining up the spread….

I also enjoyed the pleasure of being served at our table and didn’t need to queue for the food.  The set from Hizon’s was delicious;  Carlo and Nicole had chosen a great menu to fill our tummies. :)

(This isn’t Beyond Toxicity without digestive feast!) I liked how a simple salad was served with 2 dressings -Caesar’s and Thousand Island.

Entrees included Fish Fillet with Honey Mustard Sauce, Hawaiian Chicken BBQ, US Roast Beef with Mushroom Gravy, Vegetable Lumpia with Peanut Sauce, Roast Pork with Apple Raisin Sauce and two pasta dishes…

Everything's fine except that Lumpia was served with bean sprouts or togue. I was just surprised. My favorite was Roast Pork with Apple Raisin Sauce; it was to die for!

The disadvantage of sitting at the VIP area : nakakahiya humingi ng second round, LOL! :D

Desserts were simple yet satisfying.

I loved everything in this set!

Another unexpected thing happened. I mean, despite Nicole requested me to be ready with a speech for her wedding on behalf of the male Principal Sponsors, I didn’t prepare one. I thought, it’d be best to be spontaneous. However, I was caught off guard at the timing! haha! :D While I just happened to insert a chunk of pineapple covered with luscious chocolate from the fondue served right on our table, my name was called to give a short message to the newlyweds. Of course, I had to swallow everything down in a blink. :D

The program at the reception got livelier when the host requested some names to be in front with the couple for some photo-op. But lo and behold, it was a pure trap for the single ladies and bachelors. They dished out that old bouquet throwing ceremony and settled to a more modern and quite surprising activities.

For the single men, they were asked to drink a bottle of beer with two straws –one inside and the other outside the bottle making it a bit harder to sip. The one with the less volume drank was declared the winner. He happens to be the groom’s brother.

For the single ladies, they were instructed to insert their right index finger to the mouth of the bottle of beer strategically placed in between the thighs of the groom’s brother. How naughty! Each lady who successfully inserted her finger onto the bottle was spared from the “punishment” este, was eliminated from the game.

Then the host asked the groom to dance his way from the door of the reception to his bride’s leg where he had to remove the garter using his teeth. :)

Did you find what you're looking for down there, Carlo? :)

One last photo-op with the newlyweds and the rest of our former students…

Nice to see you again, kids! :)

To Carlo & Nicole, our best wishes to both of you! Remember that wedding is just a day and marriage takes a lifetime of commitment. No Return No Exchange Policy sana! hehehe! :D  Whenever you need help or anything, huwag lang siguro financial, hehe, we’re just a message or a call away! Enjoy life’s very best! God bless.

06
Dec
11

NICOLE & CARLO

I’m not sure if Tina handled them under one of her classes in Nursing Skills Laboratory or perhaps in one of their rotations under her tutelage at the Operating Room but one thing’s definite, I became their lecturer in Medical-Surgical Nursing years ago. I remember tormenting challenging them daily to exert their best with no mediocre exams, surprised recitations, longest quizzes and hardcore homeworks. And guess what?  These kids went beyond my expectations. Their batch was brilliant!

The last time Tina and I were with them was over a sumptuous dinner at Mr. Rockefeller restaurant in Greenbelt 3, Makati where they, together with their closest friends from our class, treated us after their graduation.

Fast forward to few months ago, Nicole and Carlo asked my permission to be one of their Ninongs or to stand as one of their Primary Sponsors in their upcoming post-Christmas wedding. How could you say no to something so special? It’s one of those events that we will attend on our days off in Manila soon! :)

Two of our best former students will march down the aisle in few weeks time.

It was early last week when Nicole informed me that they have sent their wedding invitation to our home address here in Penang however, it’s too late when I thought of providing our office address instead.  I should have considered it because no one is left in our home to receieve the parcel. I didn’t know that the pack was huge that won’t fit our mailbox and required a proof of receipt.
So after Nicole and I coordinated via fb, after we have both called DHL to change the address where they should deliver the invite, after 4 attempts of DHL in sending it over at our doorstep, I finally got it from our office’s reception desk. 

The wonder boy got his Santa hat and wore it and asked me to photograph him with that huge envelope. *excitement unfolds*

Inside that DHL parcel were the very first Christmas card we received this year and their uber perky pop-up wedding invite.

With great-looking invitation, comes great responsibility.

(In the Philippines) It goes without saying that Primary Sponsors’ role peaks beyond marching the aisle at the wedding rites, giving pieces of advice and a short speech and doing ceremonial toast at the reception, as it entails becoming a second parents to the (soon-to-be) newly weds.  At the age of 35 and with only 8 years (and counting) of marriage, I didn’t expect to assume the part so soon (have you ever heard a ninong or ninang in wedding younger than my age?). I take it as a blessing to be given an opportunity and a privilege to extend our family with theirs. 

one of the coolest invitations we've received! :)

Good luck sa speech ng Ninong-Doc sa reception ng kasal! (I was handpicked too by the couple to do that requirement and I kiddingly replied,“sana man lang ipina-raffle nila ang names ng Ninong at Ninang to do the part, hehe!). Will this be a precedent to string of similar events? hahaha! :)

See you soon, mga inaanak! :)

24
Nov
11

IT’S HER DAY!

We seriously miss cakes from Red Ribbon, Bizu, Goldilocks and Conti's but Secret Recipe's fill the emptiness somehow, hehe!

Last Sunday afternoon, I traveled and was out for almost 5 hours from home and back just to buy some ingredients and bring home a box of cake.  Despite hassles in the trips via buses and ferry, I was nonetheless successful.

I wrote the spelling of our names correctly of course, before I handed in the small sheet of paper to the Malaysian lady at the counter for her to decorate on the cake. I also checked it before leaving  the shop but perhaps, my eyes really do have error of refraction because when Tina opened the box at home, she instantly noticed Gabby’s name was mispelled as DABBY. It made her laugh though. :)

Chocolate Indulgence : our favorite from Secret Recipe -bar none!

I made sure that our little surprises for Tina’s big day that fell on a Wednesday were already at hand 3 days prior. We didn’t plan to be absent from work but it happened.  On the morning of her birthday, she didn’t feel well and can’t go up to report to work (blame her Vertigo again). I cannot leave her alone at home thus, I decided not to go to work too (anyway, I had no class schedules); so did Gabby for his school. 

It tastes better than it looks!

Gabby became excited to safely use my favorite kitchen gadget, the peeler with one long carrot. Together, we prepared and cooked our own version of Seafood Marinara with only mushrooms, diced carrots, onions, a kilo of prawns and a kilo of scallops! Sarap! :)

Tina cooked Pasta Carbonara last September on my birthday, and last October on Gabby's. Now, we had roasted garlic and parmesan tomato-based sauce for our own version of Seafood Marina! :)

 Thank you for everything, honey and I’m sorry for my shortcoming.  Gabby and I love you so much!

Thank you so much, Lord for giving her to me and Gabby!  She’s one of Your greatest blessings to our family! :)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

22
Nov
11

SIMPLE WEEKEND MADE UNFORGETTABLE

Thank God it was another extraordinary weekend! We spent our Saturday night celebrating an event momentous to kids and their parents. Gabby and I attended his school’s Graduation and Rewards Night which was done without formalities, nonetheless with fun, food and more importantly,  values transcending cultural and religious diversities.

An infinity pool at the 5th level of a premium appartment building in Butterworth, Penang served as backdrop of the event.

Gabby arrived at the venue about 2 hours before I came. He was picked up by his Mandarin teacher at around 6PM from our place because they needed to have last minute-rehearsals so he was brought to Seaview Tower, the venue of their program (where his school’s principal and teacher lives).

Neither grand stage nor velvet drapes were at sight. What welcomed me were a casual poolside platform and a group of happy and proud parents with their kids! :)

It was my first time to attend a poolside Graduation event. Informal yet fun and memorable!

Blame her VERTIGO (read : severe dizziness) that Tina wasn’t able to join. :(  

Meet the first two people who greeted me at the event.

The Unsung Heroines of Gabby's school : Indian-Malaysian, Mary who impressed me with her English fluency and Ate Josephine, a Kababayan! Both of these women take good care of Gabby and his schoolmates before, after and whenever their teachers declare breaktime and class dismissal.

Few minutes after I arrived, the program began. However, I had to give Ate Josephine’s spread a try so I stayed with her in one corner while I dunk my fork in some of these…hehe! :)

Parents can’t wait to see their kids perform…

Not long after Ms. Jasmine, their Principal and Gabby’s teacher made her welcome remarks, the little beautiful “ducks” came out dancing, quack, quack, quack! …nice!

Who could not remember this “walang-kamatayang” dance song from those Korean singing sensation, Wonder Girls…

Most kids have musical talents…

There were inspirational performances too! One by one, kids came in front with boxes labeled with Hate, Sorrow, Fear, Greed, Pride, Stress then one of their groupmates introduced them to the Holy Bible, thus their negative boxes were transformed into Love, Joy, Security, Giving, Humility & Peace.

But of course, I am partial to Gabby’s acts.  His first with his friends was a brief drama skit about a King and his Ungrateful Servant. Guess what Gabby portrayed….

Then he sang his heart out with the song, Shepherd of My Soul….

After the song of the choir, must take a bow!

looks more like meeting de avance!

 Certificates were given to those who graduated the Primary School.

I also went on stage after a colleague, Dr. P (on-photo, whose daughter is one of Gabby's schoolmates) gave away honors and certificates to the graduates; I did it too! It was a pleasure sharing the stage with those cute twins who came out in immaculate ballgowns. It was a moment that I wished that Tina and I have little daughter(s) too!

 I was given a simple token for being one of the kids’ presenters…

simple but it's the thought that counts! :)

 The program ended at almost 10 in the evening and we all went home with smiles and stories to share.

our precious one!

18
Nov
11

10 THINGS I RELEARNED FROM MY FIRST IELTS EXPERIENCE

It might be a simple and petty exam for some but it was an experience for me. I took the International English Language Testing System exam–ACADEMIC (the other type is General Training), offered by the British Council last 5th November in George Town, Penang, Malaysia as per requirement of my present work as a medical lecturer. I took the RISK and defied a famous Chinese philosopher’s quote.

[1] PREPARATION IS KEY TO SUCCESS.  Indubitably, the quote above is true (It’s used in The Amazing Race, Season 19, in their Taiwan-leg recently). Gearing up properly for something will definitely yield positive. As for my case, perhaps, the stars, the moon and lady luck were all on my side when I sat in the exam. Seriously, I owe it much to the good Lord for He is great and merciful. He made it possible for me to pass despite I barely had review! I only spent two days of browsing the review materials that I printed from the web. Like Confucius, I absolutely do not recommend braving a war without a sword.

With Tina and Gabby in tow, I went to the British Council office before 9AM exactly a week prior to my test date. I downloaded and printed IELTS application form from their website and filled it out, brought my passport and 2 identical recent passport photos and the fee (to be reimbursed by our medical university), RM 570 (USD  182 or PhP 7,860; cheaper here compared to Pinas when Tina took it last 2007 it’s PhP 8640 then).

I asked the pleasantly looking Chinese-Malaysian lady staff at the counter who received me  that Saturday morning if November 5th testing date is still open. I got a nod and so I decided not to prolong the agony.  I told myself silently, “Let’s go, let’s do this!” :)

My IELTS memorabilia : receipt of application form with log-in number to free 30-hour online review which I failed to use, my candidate number and claim stub to my bag, my bag's tag number, official pencil & eraser, and my passport (recognized JPR wearing shades on the cover?)

[2] PUNCTUALITY INDICATES COMMITMENT.  I woke up before 6 in the morning of 5th November, Saturday;  hit the shower, drank my much-needed caffeine dose, filled my tummy a bit with noodles and hurriedly hopped on the bus to Penang Sentral. I waited for few minutes for the ferry and headed to George Town in about 12min-ride. At the jetty in the island, I rode the free shuttle Rapid Penang bus that took me to Cititel Hotel in Jalan Penang (notice my blog header?) or Penang Road.  I fortunately arrived 15 minutes before the 8AM call time for the exam. I would not have forgiven myself if I came late for the test. FYI, I am rarely late on any schedule I commit unless there’s valid reason.  Intentional tardiness doesn’t run in my blood.

[3]  FOCUS ON THE TASK GETS THE JOB DONE RIGHT.   At Level 3 of Cititel Hotel where ballrooms are located, I saw the volume of examinees across all ages and races waiting patiently for any instructions from the British Council invigilators. I instantly noticed a single laminated poster on the wall with directions and labeled illustrations of the Philips wireless headsets to be provided for the LISTENING TEST. I took mental note of its knobs, how to turn it on, how to adjust its volume.   

I greeted with a smile one of my foreign colleagues who was also there for the test (No one from our office knew I was taking the exam few weeks after it was required to all teaching staff). I immediately texted Tina that I have arrived at the venue and kept no interactions with anyone after. Soon, I collected myself and concentrated on the exam ahead.

Few minutes after 8AM, the senior invigilators announced the start of registration. With other IELTS examinees, I queued after 2 bladder trips to the toilet. I needed to empty my bladder to avoid physiological distractions during the exam.  I presented my passport as my ID, got a claim stub and a tag with my candidate number for my bag and long umbrella (part of the instructions was to bring drinking water on a clear and transparent bottle, I followed but chose to keep mine in my bag and did not drink until the first 3 areas were done), and subjected myself for body search before entering the test venue (hotel’s ballroom). 

With only my passport at hand and claim stub for my things, I finally found myself seated at the last desk of the middle column of examinees with the designated desk and my candidate number. I immediately tried the wireless headset and tear the plastic pack of mechanical pencil and eraser provided for the test.

[4] PRAYERS CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS.  Despite the shame that I did not prepare enough, I still silently uttered a short prayer and called for divine intervention. (I disregarded the thought that God the Father, Jesus and His Holy Spirit might be busy on more difficult problems of the world, hehe! Certainly, I know the Lord has time for everyone).

[5] FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS IS AS IMPORTANT AS BREATHING. The tables were turned. The moment came when the examiner became the examinee.  As a very strict educator(thousands of my Filipino students can attest this!), I am definitely aware how crucial it is to follow instructions correctly. And so I became so keen in observing directions as the examination began with the Listening test that required, “Answers should be not more than 2 words, or answers should not be more than a word or a number…”  

An excess word or unecessary answer to what is asked will lead you dead (read : wrong mistakes! haha!)

[6] ALWAYS ASK WHENEVER SKEPTICAL. Asking questions to the official invigilators by raising hand to catch their attention was allowed.  I did that when I had no idea on how to fill out and shade my candidate number on the answer sheetAfter I got a response, I was back on track. I tried to be in my best fighting form! :D

[7] BEING CONSCIOUS OF TIME GIVES YOU A GREAT EDGE. The four components of IELTS -Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking are all time-limited. Each test and subtest has specified duration that ranges from 20 minutes, 40 minutes to maximum of an hour. No extensions are given to whatsoever reason. Time is indeed golden!

[8] BE MINDFUL OF YOUR OBSTACLES. I thank the Lord that despite my rush decision of taking the exam without formal review, I managed to read some materials that somehow introduced me to the test itself.  More so, Tina guided me with her reminders and important inputs about the exam (FYI, she took and passed IELTS twice; first in Auckland, New Zealand where she got overall band score 7.0 back in 2005 with no review too, then she had to retake as it expired 2 years after. Her overall band score was again 7.0).

Instructions are given verbally on microphone heard over our headsets and are also written on the front page of every questionnaire. It is important not to turn the page of the sheets unless told to do so.

The LISTENING TEST is composed of various recorded conversations played (without replays of course).  The examinees answer the questions as the exam progresses. There are total of 40 questions to answer with specified number of words or letter of the answer as some questions provide multiple choices.

The READING TEST comes after Listening test.  In my module, there are three 2-page-articles to read with series of questions. Answers are in the form of words, letters of the answers, or letter of the specific paragraph. Similar to Listening test, there are also 40 blanks on the answer sheet to fill out with correct answers under given time.

The WRITING TEST is the last part of the first session of IELTS exam.  It has two parts and as explained verbally by the invigilator; its second part has more weight (40 minutes allotted) than the first part (20 minute for report or graph interpretation). I also noted the instructions given : “Use the third page for your essay and first and second page for your report.”

With much ease on the topic, I did the essay part first. The topic was like, “There should be more financial investment on teaching Science than in other subjects. Agree or Disagree?”  And being an educator for 8 years now with Medicine degree and BS Biology in my bloodstream, this really seemed like within my comfort zone. Nonetheless, I certainly know the scoring for this part would be subjective. And absoultely, SCORING is SOMETHING NOT IN MY CONTROL. 

The first part was a bar graph with topic on something like “comparative study on factors that determine success in business from correspondents in USA and EUROPE.”  Just when I was hoping to get a line graph, my exam had bar graph.  The report-interpretation with 20 minute-allotment requires the examinees to have at least 150 word-composition and the second part’s word count should be not less than 250. Again, everything should be accomplished under  specified time.

[9] KEEP IT ORIGINAL AS REPETITION IS LESS GOOD.  In WRITING TEST, keep your brain cells nurtured with tons of SYNONYMS, ADJECTIVES and ADVERBS.  Avoid using the same word more than once and utilize subject-verb agreement with utmost care. Thou shall not observe flight of ideas!  Do not digress! Stay on the topic and make sure to provide an introduction,  body and discussion and lastly, conclusion.

[10]  FLUENCY DOESN’T GUARANTEE SUCCESS, SPONTANEITY DOES! I am astronomically far from being fluent in English as it’s only my second tongue, however, I had no choice but to conquer the last part of the IELTS -the SPEAKING EXAM.  It dawned on me that one may be an expert at something but his expertise may be futile without being consistent and spontaneous.

I was neither fluent nor spontaneous and so I am not content with how I conducted myself during the SPEAKING test.  I never felt so awkward with any questions before!  I tried to be composed with proper hand gestures and facial expressions but everything did not fall into what I expected.

First few minutes of the test was a breeze. I was aksed to describe the CITY in my own country where I lived, then after several descriptive attempts on my end, the British-looking lady-assessor shifted the topic into BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS in childhood and adulthood in my country. We also talked about WEEKENDS (how do I spend my weekends, plan of activities for the next weekend, etc).  Then out of nowhere, she asked me about ANIMALS. Describing domesticated animals versus the wild was easy. I even relayed the importance of having pets at home and compared it with the extinct animals in their natural habitat. I even spoke of PETA, the non-governmental organization that cares for all shapes and sizes of animals (Thank God, I wasn’t asked of the definition of that acronym, LOL!).

Everything went well until we came to the second half of the SPEAKING  TEST. She handed me a manual where 3 questions were written (They were like, “Name an animal peculiar to your country. Describe it and its location where it thrives.” –something like that). 

At that moment, I became uneasy. Probably, because I wanted the whole day to end in a blink.  I initially thought of describing the Philippine monkey-eating eagle however, I believed I can say more about the carabaos or the water buffalos. hahaha! I needed to be like an authority to talk about that animal to salvage my score. And so I started with its physical characteristics.  Imagine me saying, “Carabaos or water buffalos are huge herbivores, black with 2 horns and 4 legs and a tail, LOL! hahaha! While controlling myself to burst into laughter, I continued by saying, “Unlike in Penang where farming is mechanized, these animals in my country are used by farmers in plowing rice fields.  Carabaos are commonly found in most rice-producing provinces in our country. ” I even mentioned the that “there’s a carabao festival in Bulacan (forgive me if it’s not in Bulacan!), a province located at the North of Manila, where these animals are featured kneeling in front of a Catholic Church just before they go on parade and participate in a race.” 

Never it crossed my mind that I will be speaking about CARABAOS on my SPEAKING TEST!  I cringed and wanted to shrink  from my seat, nonetheless after about 20 minutes, I was relieved to complete the entire IELTS exam and it was indeed one for the books!

Here’s how they grade The IELTS 9-band scale

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Candidates are graded on their performance, using scores from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The results from the four parts then produce an Overall Band Score.

This unique 9-band system measures scores in a consistent manner – wherever and whenever the test is taken. It is internationally recognised and understood, giving you a reliable international currency. IELTS scores have a recommended validity period of two years.

Each band corresponds to a level of English competence. All parts of the test and the Overall Band Score can be reported in whole and half bands, eg 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0.

Band 9: Expert user: has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

Band 8: Very good user: has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

Band 7: Good user: has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

Band 6: Competent user: has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band 5: Modest user: has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

Band 4: Limited user: basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

Band 3: Extremely limited user: conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

Band 2: Intermittent user: no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band 1: Non-user: essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

Band 0: Did not attempt the test: No assessable information provided.
Sourced from www.IELTS.org

Fast forward to THIRTEEN DAYS AFTER, the results were out. 

MY PERSONAL POST-RESULT ASSESSMENT : I realized I didn’t compose an arguement on my essay part of the Writing test. The topic was simple and was indeed within my comfort zone however, I just thought that the score could have been higher had I used the phrases, “In contrast…..” “On the otherhand…” or perhaps, “The other side of the coin shows…” Nonetheless, I cannot be thankful enough.

Are erasures and cleanliness parts of the criteria in marking the Writing component of IELTS? Do you have any idea?

Maraming salamat sa kalabaw at naka- 8 po ako sa Speaking test, LOL! :)

I am now certified fluent in 3 languages, Tagalog, English (kunyari lang!), and Sarcasm! hehe!

Seriously, my family and I are always thankful for all blessings -big and small.  Glory to God! Thank You, Oh LORD! :)

29
Oct
11

HALLOWEEN IN PENANG, 2011

At two years old, he was dressed as a pumpkin. The following year, as Count Dracula. And with his 3 years in Preschool –Nursery, Kindergarten and Preparatory, he wore ninja, scarecrow and tiger-chef costumes with appropriate face-paint makeups done specially by Tina.

From his school to malls in the Philippines such as our favorites, Greenbelt, TriNoma and Gateway, Gabby enjoyed collecting candies wearing his costumes we fancied every Halloween. He was even awarded as a student with “Most Creative Costume” in their school parties for 2 consecutive years.

Being abroad with limited budget doesn’t deter him from celebrating Halloween with other kids. Despite the fact that his school here and our appartment do not have similar activities, some malls here in Penang also conduct such events that add to priceless childhood happiness.  Although admittedly, it’s still best and more FUN doing all these things in our own country (read : we miss the malls and almost everything in Pinas!).

29 October 2011, Saturday –We arrived 10AM, so early at Queensbay Mall and headed directly to Starbucks Coffee, not only to grab quick morning drinks and bites but to be strategically near to the venue and stage where the Halloween Costume Contest for kids would be held. As I went to the counter to order a couple of ventis of frappuccinos (chocolate for Gabby, and dark mocha shared by Tina and me) and a plate of sausage roll, Tina didn’t waste any second and prepared her stuffs to do Gabby’s face paint.

If you must know, Tina doesn’t have any formal training, whatsoever on doing make ups. In fact, she only began wearing them few weeks after she first met me (she’ll kill me for this!). Apparently, she’s doing great with her face and with Gabby’s, isn’t she? :) This proves that Tina has many skills and talents. My wife isn’t only a diligent Operating Room nurse, a dedicated mother, a passionate educator herself, but also a creative makeup artist in her own right! :) She even managed to work well with the face paint I bought from Toys R Us here despite it was far from the brands she told me to buy (supply of those things is rare in this part of Malaysia).

In character before he ate his lunch!

Gabby requested one of his favorites, Pizza Hut for lunch. We’re delighted with a pitcher of Mountain Dew, a small loaf of garlic bread, soup of the day and a large 7-cheese-pizza!

Pizza Hut's Seven Cheese Pizza : Romano, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Provolone, Mozzarella and Cheddar. So heavenly!

Gabby remains to be a purist when it comes to pizzas so he wants it nothing but cheese.  This new offerring from Pizza Hut was welcoming to him and in fact, we all found it sublime that I am craving for another slice as I write this. 

We finished lunch a few minutes prior to 1:30PM call time for all participants. We went back near Starbucks, confirmed Gabby’s attendance and got his number-tag. He was contestant # 6 out of 33 (or was it 34?) kiddie participants all in all.

His royal blue Chinese-inspired satin tunic was a hand-me-down costume from his eldest cousin, that was worn at our wedding reception almost 8 years ago. We only added a few accessories that Gabby chose himself from a store also in Queensbay Mall for him to look more like a Chinese pirate (uniquely wearing a Beijing Opera mask).

Each contestant was called, asked to walk on the ramp and introduce themselves a little and greet everyone a “Happy Halloween!”. It was the very first time we saw Gabby became shy on stage (read : he doesn’t have stage fright for he had won and placed in several declamation contests in his former school back home).

They paraded on the entire Ground floor before the winners’ names were announced.

He lost but nonetheless, we’re definite that he enjoyed the experience this year. Tina and I had fun too being with these kids! As token of participation, we’ll be issued after a week, a  free 8R picture officially taken by Queensbay Mall photographer during the event.

Honestly, when Tina and I saw her and her props, we knew she deserves to be the contest’s grand winner, but this 10-year old girl geared as a ‘Halloween dinner table’ only bagged second place.

First place went to…

Tina and I told Gabby that he had done a good job on stage and made him feel our very own champion. He is and he’ll always be, of course!:)

Group shot!

One more time!

Gabby had fun, he even retained his face paint and costumes on until we reached home; except the fact that he only got candies and chocolates from the organizers of the event themselves because the shops and stores inside the mall didn’t prepare sweets like the way it’s done back home and else where.

How’s your Halloween?

Because obviously, we cannot visit cemeteries of our departed, we’ll just utter prayers for our late grandparents and relatives. It’s what we practice back home on top of trick or treating.

21
Oct
11

OF MUZIUM, LITTLE INDIA & DEEPAVALI

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucius.

This scene greeted me when I passed by one of the laterals of Little India, George Town. The Lord said, it's a beautiful day!

I certainly know that not all people would appreciate museumsold mansions, historical or touristy streets. Fascination to anything is such a unique trait that even twins don’t share. As everyone puts it, to each his own. A flower to me may appear a weed to you…

Neither watching movies nor spending lazy day inside a mall interest me lately. Are these signs of aging? haha! :) No, it’s just me.

On a bright and sunny morning, I got off the Rapid Penang Hop On Free Bus that I boarded from Jetty in George Town, a few steps from the most majestic building in Lebuh Farquhar (Farquhar Street), the Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinang or the Penang State Museum

With just one ringgit entrance fee (PhP 14 or USD 0.30), I was transported back in time on different era when history of this Malaysian state originated.

Although the 2-storey fully airconditioned building is absolutely smaller in scale than our very own Philippine National Museum (I love Juan Luna’s Spolarium!), Penang State Museum doesn’t disappoint with its uniquely impressive display of magnificent history and colorful diversities. The 3 Malaysian races -Chinese, Indians and Malays are greatly featured in each rooms and chambers inside the muzium.

Too bad, photography isn’t allowed but irresistibly, I secretly captured this art creation from colored rice grains called Kolam…


“Kolam, (far from the witchcraft that you’re thinking! haha!) is a traditional sign of invitation placed at the entrance floor to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes.” (sourced via Wiki) True enough that when I asked one of my Indian-Malaysian students about Kolam, she mentioned it’s intended to bring good fortune to homes.

And so when Kolam becomes apparent decors on the floors of entrances of homes, malls and establishments, one can easily tell a Hindu festival is approaching.

Colored rice grains in delicately designed beautiful patterns, a kolam on display at Prangin Mall, George Town, Penang

Detail shot of the kolam on display at the entrance of one of the groceries here, Carrefour in First Avenue Mall…

It’s entirety is amazing!

On the 26th of this month, Deepavali or the Festival of Light, a celebration of triumph of good over evil will be observed here in Penang, and the rest of Hindu communities worldwide. Deepavali is one of the public holidays here in Malaysia.

Cookies to share to welcome and celebrate Deepavali

I only stayed less than an hour inside Penang State Museum and via few minute bus ride, I found myself mesmerized in Little India…

With my more than a year of working in Penang, it was only recently that I brought my feet to Little India in George Town. And what a perfect day it was because all stalls and streets are geared up for that Hindu holiday. The mood that morning was so festive even the pigeons looked happy and lovely…

With several interesting things to see, I killed time effortlessly on these streets within this Indian community…

The structures in these streets truly reflect the fusion of cultures…

How timely it is to visit Little India days before Deepavali! The blissful atmosphere radiated throughout the shophouses and almost all corners of this market place…

Bollywood music were played to high decibles that made the sights and sound of strolling and shopping more festive!

There are multiple interesting items to see, hear, smell and taste…
Another feast for the senses!

I personally liked these lanterns in various hues. One day, Tina and I will build a house with lanai with all those colorful Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Venetian, Moroccan and Turkish lanterns! *wishful thinking*

Having open houses during festivities like Hari Raya for Muslims and Deepavali for Hindus where every visitor is welcomed to eat and partake on the occasion requires offering of traditional delicacies, sweets and cookies…

Amazing colors and patterns…

Ladies may fancy these…

or these perhaps?

Make the garlands and floral leis ready for Deepavali!

Before Mr. Sun hits high noon, I felt the urgency to fill in my tummy.  I walked towards Lebuh Chulia to sit and order from Kapitan…

And to complete the Little India experience, it was a perfect time to eat that platter of Chicken tandoori and cheese naan AGAIN! :)

At only RM 10 (PhP 140), this Restoran Kapitan’s Chicken Tandoori and Cheese Naan combo is a sure hit for me!

It was more than a year since I’ve first tasted this Indian dish here in Penang. I love Kapitan’s version of the tandoori; the chicken’s very tender with sauces and chutneys that are so flavorful! I asked the wait staff who politely told me about what comes with Chicken tandoori. There’s fish curry sauce, then there’s chili and green mango chutney, veggie sauce served with lime plus onions. These dips and sauces perfectly match my favorite, cheese naan. The wait staffs and other diners were looking at me while I perform my usual ritual of capturing my food before I eat it!  But wait, I just had to take another shot! :D

Ahhhhhh, Kapitan’s Chicken Tandoori and cheese naan –succulent, deliciously marinated, so tasteful!  I washed it down with a mug of Mango shake.

To my students and colleagues and all others celebrating the Festival of Light, have a happy Deepavali!

   ——————————————-

PS : Do you consider all these things on photos a flower or a weed to you? :)

02
Oct
11

ON GABBY’S SPECIAL DAY


“I love you, Ma, I love you, Daddy!”
These phrases never fail to melt our worries and stress away. And now that Gabby is turning 7 years old this Wednesday, 5th October, Tina and I cannot be grateful enough to the Lord for giving us His greatest blessing; we love our son beyond words.

Because his birthday falls on a weekday (we have work, he has school), we decided to celebrate it in advance last weekend. Tina was suggesting for us to dine at T.G.I.Fridays again but of course, the birthday boy’s wish prevailed.

He has been craving for some bites at an all-cheese-pizza from Pizza Hut so we gave in to his request…

He’s a purist when it comes to pizza as his preference is exclusively partial to 3 to 4-cheese pizza; like he really doesn’t like anything on top.
Gabby also favored calamari and garlic bread from the menu…

I maybe a doctor and an educator but I honestly don’t know everything. I’m not sure if the love for great-tasting food (read : huge appetite) can also be transferred via genetics, can it? Gabby might have been blessed with good genes, don’t you think? LOL! :D
My choice : Pizza Hut’s Honey Barbecue Chicken Wings –sarap to the bones! :)

We washed everything down with iced cold water, canned light Pepsi for Gabby (yes, I know sodas are junkie too!), and a tall glass of citrus flavored drink infused with calamansi and champoy at its bottom–uniquely refreshing; an eye candy too!

After that hearty lunch (we didn’t finish everything; we had some slices as takeaway *defensive*), Tina went to the department store and bought Gabby a new shirt while I headed to the mall’s barbershop for that much needed haircut. We met about an hour after, and had some grocery shopping too.
Then the time to blow candles on a birthday cake came; we sat inside Secret Recipe and the rest was momentous…

While waiting for Gabby’s cake, Tina took this photo on a whim. A littly grainy but I just had to post it because Gabby’s too adorable, isn’t he?

Chocolate Indulgence cake landed on our table with a cake slicer and 7 pieces of candles. Our little big-boy didn’t waste time and made his wishes…

The multilayered and richly textured chocolate cake was truly to die for; there’s no other name more apt for it but Chocolate Indulgence. It’s one of our favorites!

At seven, Gabby’s still a baby. He still likes toys a lot! Good thing he knows how to profess what he wanted to receive so we know what to give. Best, it’s afforbale and functional too. Uhm, I think so… hehe..

He could have asked for a remote control aircraft but opted for his second wish. With these, you now have a clue where we’re heading next weekend, if and when weather permits…

We left Queensbay Mall last Saturday with happy faces and full tummies.

The simple celebration continued the next day on our humble abode here in Penang. Tina cooked another irresistible dish – creamy carbonara with lotsa bacon bits on penne, yummy!

We’re joined by my dad whom we picked up from Penang Airport after we spent our entire Saturday at Queensbay Mall. With his Lolo Ben around (who went home 2 months ago to Manila with my mom for some important matters), Gabby will have longer sleeping hours again before he goes to school daily. The birthday boy’s smile reached ear to ear when his Lolo Ben brought out from his luggage a gift imported from Pinas from his Lola Tessie (my mom).

And there was a candle on a birthday cake again; he really enjoyed blowing candles on his cake. There must be something special about it.

What made his birthday preparation this year a bit different from before, he took the initiative and the efforts to pack his simple loot bags for his classmates and teachers on Wednesday (his actual birthday)…

Alone, he segregated candies and packs of chocolate bicuits piece by piece and put them on these loot bags. Such heightened his excitement to share his special day with his Chinese and Indian schoolmates too…

But we made known to him that he’ll only have loot bags as giveaways and no party will be thrown in his school here (read : we’re cutting on expenses, seriously!). Nontheless, it’s fine with him, after all, he understands and loves us so.

Our family life, although far from being perfect has been incredibly special and seems like there’s always an everyday-celebration because we have you, anak! We love you very much, Gabby! :)

18
Sep
11

ON THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON

Today’s my 35th birthday. Thank You, Lord for everything, most specially for giving me Cristina and Gabby. Amen.

————————-

updated @ 4:19PM  18 September 2011…

Who needs a fancy birthday party when I’m enjoying a great time bonding with Tina and Gabby?  I had the luxury to doze off after I left home at 6AM and went to public market to buy stuffs to last until the next weekend. Life is good.

And look what my lovely wife prepared and cooked for lunch…

Tina’s version of crispy birthday noodle is enough to complete the wish for longer & blissful life. Medyo maalat nga lang ang noodles, she needed to add water so it became a noodle soup dish after. What the heck, it’s still delicious! cheers! :)

PS : my blog’s hit couter just reached more than 300,000. thank you so much for the follow. it really means so much. Maraming salamat po! :)




BLOG STATS : THANK YOU!

  • 838,500 hits

Join 347 other followers

2013 BEST EXPAT BLOG WINNER MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA

 photo 8e3a63a6-47d9-4e50-9a84-64493e6bbc6b_zpse91c3a1e.jpg

2012 BEST EXPAT BLOG WINNER MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA

 photo d5d0d846-97c0-4bc5-911b-231b0211b123_zps280a7c27.jpg

FEATURED IN BLOGEXPAT.COM 2013

FEATURED AS ONE OF GREAT BLOGS ABOUT KUALA LUMPUR

FEATURED IN INTERNATIONS.ORG

living and working in a new country

MABUHAY ANG PTB!

PTB

2012 BRONZE AWARD EXPATSBLOG.COM

Expat blogs in Malaysia

FEATURED IN ExpatFocus.Com

2012 ExpatBlogs.Com Nominee

Expats Blog

2010 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS

Photobucket

2010 PHILIPPINE EXPAT BLOG AWARDS

 photo 229a28d6-1b89-4018-9282-997c17b69b98.jpg

2009 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS, FINALIST FAMILY & LIVING BLOG CATEGORY

BlogWithIntegrity.com
Blog Expat: living abroad
living in Malaysia

BlogMalaysia!

BlogMalaysia.com





DOCGELO @ BLOG NA PINOY

DOCGELO-35
Personal - Top Blogs Philippines
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

anong petsa na?

get your free blog banner at emilayusof.com
get your free blog banner at emilayusof.com
get your free blog banner at emilayusof.com

TOKYO 2010

ginza