There’s so much to be thankful for! There’s a lot of reasons to celebrate!
Happy 8th Birthday, Gabby! We love you very much, anak! -Daddy & Mommy.
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!
It was supposed to be a spur-of-the-moment-dinner date with Tina that she thought of, just after we received our pay last month. It’s a RARE and remarkable moment (she’ll kill me for this!) when my wife asked me via our personal emails (how sweet! hahaha!) if we could go directly after office hours to Sunway Carnival Mall in Seberang Perai, Penang (that’s in main land as she didn’t want to take the ferry ride to the island–worried that she might have another vertigo attack). I am too weak to resist!
Then, her maternal being melted into bits after she received a phone call from Gabby at lunch time. Our kiddo who’s currently enjoying his 2 week-school holiday asked his mom, “Mommy, pwede ba ako sumama sa date nyo ni Daddy?” (“Mommy, can I go with you and Daddy on your date?”) Tell me, how do you say No to such query? So, I was like, “OK, Let’s just ask Mommy (my mom) to bring and accompany Gabby at the bus stop so he can instantly hop on the bus (we’re riding from work as it passes by our place in Butterworth), anyway, I’m planning to go out with Mommy the next day (which never materialized).”
And there you go, we had our Friday-payday-FAMILY dinner DATE at one of our favorites, NANDO’S!
Gabby was only 4 and half months old when we first dined at Nando’s in Botany Mall, Auckland, New Zealand back in 2005. And since our taste buds were accustomed to our local Pinoy love-favorite, MAX’S Fried Chicken and also to one of our default choices, KFC (which Tina and I consider as lifesaver on days when we don’t favor the menu at our present office’s cafeteria and Gabby’s favorite too!), we found this Portugese-South African casual food place, Nando’s as fresh to the palate and uniquely tasteful! Too bad that as of this posting, no one has ever brought Nando’s yet to our beloved, the Philippines. Hypothetically speaking, if money isn’t an issue for Tina and me, we could have pack our bags and luggages and head home to franchise Nando’s or, Old Town Coffee & Restaurant, or Restoran Kapitan or Roti Boy (which deserves a separte post) –those are my family’s favorite food places here in Penang. Oh, well, that’s only me wishing upon a star! But seriously, that’s how we like Nando’s; a bit pricey but money’s worth, definitely!
Caramel Cheesecake was the first to arrive on our table at Nando’s, Sunway Carnival Mall. Oh yes! Without asking us, the wait staff delivered the dessert prior to the entrees. Not a problem to us anyway, but apparently, it may spoil someone else’s appetite. Nonetheless, it wasn’t difficult for Gabby to choose this dessert; the boy, like his parents know his palate so well.
For the nth time dining at Nando’s, Tina, Gabby and I opted for Lemon and Herb rather than braved our tongues at their mild, hot or extra spicy Peri-Peri Chicken; we just had Lemon and Herb chicken even as toppings of our Caesar’s salad. But Tina and I savored their Garlic Peri-Peri sauce to spice up our grilled chicken a little….OK, fine, with only Lemon and Herb, kami na ang duwag!
I’m such a potato-boy! I like potato salad and those baby potatoes! Coleslaw is also a no-brainer order for me, hahaha!
While you can obviously tell who chose corn on the cob and fries, his mom went for grilled veggies and some humongous fries too.
At Nando’s or wherever we dine and the food on our plates are all just secondary. What matters most is the moment spent with the family. Now that’s cheesy!
*BEHIND THE SCENES : Tina made another video and pressed FFW to make it chipmunkie; you may want to peek at what actually happened on this dinner. Watch and see how Gabby struggled with his chicken, hahaha!
Dining out with a 7-year-old-kid who absolutely knows what his palate wants and a wife who can whip almost everything in the kitchen with her disciminating taste, in Malaysian states where predominant dishes are richly flavored with herbs & spices (read : ultra hot, hot, hot!) may be a little challenge. Because of this and due to limited budget, we don’t really go out to eat on a weekly basis nor as frequent as others might think.
For someone whose family’s gustatory sense was not accustomed to spicy cuisine, I often bring them to something we’re familiar with. Our priority has always been Gabby’s preferences or something that he would agree where he can also eat and enjoy dining. Luckily, there are those food places that we all favor that usually reminds of our eating-out-moments back home. One of those restaurants we used to go to in Glorietta in Makati City and Trinoma in Quezon City that has a branch here in Penang and in Kuala Lumpur is T.G.I. Friday’s. ;)
Gabby’s favorites include that Cheesy Macaroni with tomato dip (5th photo above) and Cajun Chicken Fingers with fries and honey mustard dip. He also likes TGIF’s Caesar’s Salad. While Tina’s choices aren’t constant, I am otherwise. My default option if it’s TGIF has been Jack Daniel’s Chicken that’s fire-grilled and basted with that sweet Jack Daniel’s glaze. Sarap!!!
*Photos were taken randomly from TGI Friday’s branches in Paragon Mall in Gurney Drive, Penang and in Pavilion Mall, Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur.
For almost two years of living and working in Malaysia, most of our weekends are spent either enjoying the comforts of the 11th-floor-seaview appartment that we’re renting in Butterworth, our so-called-second home or exploring what Pulau Pinang has to offer. We’ve been to a few heritage sites, clan houses, public beach, various shrines of worship, shopping malls and groceries of course, have dined in local restaurants, some hotels and street hawkers, have gone to some of those must-see-tourist-spots in this island; yet, there’s actually so much more places to visit that are reserved for our Saturdays and Sundays.
Last weekend was no exception. With my 7-year-old son in tow, we celebrated another Saturday the best way we know how (read : family bonding) and finally set foot in The Tropical World’s First Live Butterfly and Insect Sanctuary, Penang Butterfly Farm.
Because my wife, Tina had to attend to a weekend medical community service required at work and my mom wasn’t feeling well to leave home, last Saturday, 04/21/2012 was another day of father-and-son-bonding. Incidentally, it was a day prior to Earth Day 2012 so I thought it was so appropriate and timely for Gabby and I to visit a nature’s theme park and passed up killing time on a weekend inside the mall. We’re happy to learn some things about nature and inevitably, ourselves too.
UNEXPECTEDLY, ALMOST IN PANIC
Had I not brought Gabby to this butterfly sanctuary, I would not know that he’s not that comfortable with delicately winged creatures randomly landing on his body. It was unbelievable because Gabby was even more excited than I am to go there and he himself labeled the day as our “Adventure Day” so I was very surprised that he almost panic when butteflies flew over him. I asked him to calm down and assured him that we’re safe with the butterflies and that it cannot harm us. He told me remarkably that he’s more at ease to see reptiles (Me: “What?!!! I usually freak out with the mere sight of snakes!). A couple of hours after, he’s already at home with the butterflies. I thought he was just overwhelmed as it was his first time to experience such. Nonetheless, he learned to appreciate those colorful day-flying insects before we ended our visit.
It was almost 12 noon when Gabby and I arrived at the front office of the Penang Butterfly Farm located in Teluk Bahang, near the tail end of the famous Penang coastline-beaches, Batu Ferringhi.
FREEBIES, DISCOUNTS AND MORE BLESSINGS!
When I was about to pay the entrance fees for me and Gabby, the male Front Office staff at the window-counter inquired if I am a tourist or a Malaysian (because of different Admission rates), I told him that I am a Filipino expat working as a Medical Lecturer since 2010 in Penang. He then asked for some IDs but I didn’t bring my company ID nor my passport with me. While I was flipping my card holder….
He only charged us 18 ringgit for me and 10 ringgit for Gabby instead of the usual rates (RM 27 per adult and RM 15 per kid).
After we stayed for 3 hours inside the butterfly sanctuary, Gabby and I headed to the food kiosks just before the exit and ordered Chicken and Cheese sandwich, a bottle of cold distilled water, 2 cups of Mango juice.
Sir Edzil happens to be Penang Butterfly Farm’s Front Office Assistant Manager.
With few minutes of chit chat; I learned that he’s actually a Filipino but raised in Malaysia and according to him, there are a few more Pinoys working as tour guides (yes, Penang Butterfly Farm provides informative, amusing and educational tour guiding but I opted to wander around with only Gabby as I took photos). We’re very grateful for his generous gestures.
CHILDREN, COCCOON ISN’T PART OF THE BUTTERFLY’S LIFE CYCLE.
It’s always amazing to learn beyond books and outside the four corners of a classroom. It’s even more wonderful when one practically acquires knowledge hands on. You actually get that learning set-up in Penang Butterfly Farm. The actual Science that speaks about the life cycle of these flying insects happens right before your eyes!
So the life cycle only includes EGG (those tiny yellow ones in the next photo) –> CATERPILLAR –> PUPA (not coccoon but CHRYSTALIS / NYMPHA) –> ADULT BUTTERFLY (or IMAGO). The caterpillar normally thrives in fruity plants like passion fruit and the like, otherwise, it dies and would not metamorphose into pupa and imago.
But as soon as these chrystalis become adult butterflies,
some of its species ONLY LIVE FOR ONE WEEK.
It made me wonder, how would you spend your life meaningfully if you only have one whole week to live?
Back in the Philippines, I remember going to Orchidarium in Rizal Park in Luneta where a small Butterfly garden is tucked. They usually feed the butterflies back home with bananas, here in Penang, pineapples are their favorite lunch!
One of my favorite spots in Penang Butterfly Farm is this Oriental gazebo adorned with everything Chinese and an interesting concrete bridge.
Would you not be fascinated if you see authentic porcelain sauce dish, cups, plates and even pitcher were embedded as decors in the bridge?
BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL
I must admit, the sun was scorchingly hot during our visit (at least we didn’t have a downpour) so the little airconditioned theater that incessantly shows short films about insects was really inviting; Gabby liked the movies we watched for few minutes.
After watching insect-inspired short films, we walked through the next hallway where Gabby enjoyed another interesting part of Penang Butterfly Farn called, Biodiversity. Here, kids get to stamp their notepads with the park’s mascot prints, play and learn with the interactive touch-screens that feature educational inputs about the environment as a whole. There’s also a part where reptiles and spiders are on display en route to exit towards the souvenir shops.
We went back to the garden where a myriad of butterflies await.
If you must know, I took up BS Biology prior to Medicine and one specimen in Botany that’s hard to forget is the Pitcher Plant. There’s a spot in Penang Butterfly Farm that’s devoted to Pitcher Plant. It’s quite unique for it can trap mosquitoes and other minute insects in its “mouth”, it has somewhat like a prey-trapping mechanism; interesting, is it not?
Then I guess I was lucky enough to be accompanied by two winged friends during our time in the garden. Lucky or stinky already *yikes!*, I do like how Gabby snapped this shot.
Just before we had our “free snack” courtesy of Sir Edzil at the food kiosk near the exit gates, we savored Magnum bar (which we paid for, haha!).
Nature tripping at Penang Butterfly Farm + Family Bonding + Magnum ice cream bar = simply perfect to end the day. It was another day for family.food & fun!
Penang Butterfly Farm exceeded our expectations! We had a chance to commune with nature. It was where I forgot life’s hassles, worries and stress. Four hours spent there were indeed worthwhile; we had fun!
Penang Butterfly Farm. No. 830 Jalan Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang, Malaysia. Tel # +604-885 1253. (It’s accessible by car, taxi cab or by Rapid Penang Bus # 101 from George Town, Penang).
The “morning after” edition of the New Straits Times newspaper was distributed to all hotel rooms at around 4:30AM, Thursday 4/12/2012 and my mom was the only one awake among us to pick it up.
4/11/2012, Wednesday was a public holiday for the entire Malaysia because their new King was crowned or in their words, was installed (Sultans of Malaysian states rotate on being a King, as explained by one of my Malaysian students). In spite of the holiday when one has the luxury to enjoy the malls and whatnot in the island, my family and I simply chose to stay at home together. Then at around 5PM, I thought of sitting on our rattan chair in the living room instead in the sofa, and felt the seat was rocking and sliding. In a blink, Tina and my mom came out of separate rooms telling me it’s an earthquake! I knew it’s an earthquake but my mind was in denial for a few sec because for 20 months of stay here in Malaysia, I haven’t experienced any natural calamities, not a single typhoon nor floods, neither anything alarming.
Our very first earthquake felt in Malaysia.
As the four of us walked hurriedly to exit our unit, we saw next door neighbors about to go down too. We didn’t panic except for Gabby who knew nothing of earthquakes before this incident! You cannot blame our 7-year-old boy for it was his first time to experience such. The boy was almost in tears, yelling for us to take the lift. I, who was still plugging out and turning off electrical appliances in our rooms, told Gabby, “We never take lifts during earthquakes, anak, we take the stairs!” (Good thing is, our unit is located adjacent to the concrete stairs, almost across the elevators and our block has 2 more exits other than what’s beside our unit and the 2 lifts.) Tina held Gabby’s hand and guided him and my mom towards the stairs –11th floor to the ground. I locked our unit, went down with only 7-year-old mobile and keys at hand. Yes, we didn’t panic but admittedly, we’re NOT ready with such EMERGENCY! (Lesson learned : Pack important stuffs such as passports, credit cards, money, keys, things that matter to you the most and those you cannnot live without in an “E” bag with a couple of clothes and toiletries for survival. I know this, actually but honestly was too lazy to prepare.). We went down the emergency-exit-concrete stairs with one of our Filipino colleagues and stayed for about 20 minutes in one of gazebos in the playground.
The aftershock and the tsunami alert.
Twenty minutes after, we returned to our unit. I heard my mom reminding us to pack important things to be ready enough in times as such. I turned on my laptop and browsed online news about the quake; I even managed to chat to my friends in Pinas and Saudi about the earthquake and inviting a few of them over to Penang on one of its holidays. While Tina called her older sister, relayed our situation over the phone. Then, the inevitable happened. An aftershock! This time, Tina brought money with her in a sling bag and I got my backpack with passports and credit cards, and camera but still left and forgot my laptop, chargers and other things. We saw more people coming down. A siren was heard all over. Security guards seen actively roaming and advising the tenants to evacuate and leave our units.
Tina, Gabby, my mom and I walked our way to a restaurant-cafe in front of our condo unit. We saw some colleagues and talked to one of them who pleasantly, despite of the stress about the quake and all, kept her composure for her own family. We saw them carrying a few of their clothes and other essentials to their cars. We stayed in the restaurant, watched news on TV even if it’s on Bahasa Melayu and stay tuned for updates. We sat in the resto so naturally, we had to order food. It was a blessing in disguise for we had to fill in as it’s almost dinner. Trying to struggle with panic and anxiety, we heeded to the advice of one of our co-workers to get clothes, bottles of water, toiletries and things we need for the night and leave too. So while my mom and Gabby were waiting for our food, Tina and I went up again our unit and finally got our things. Leaving our unit was an understatement -we evacuated! Tina even joked as she tried to fight her stress, “We’re like refugees now!” As we rejoined my mom and our son in the restaurant, I saw my mom flipping pages of the telephone book so I began calling our suking (*insert english translation here*) taxi cab driver. Luckily, the cab driver’s available to pick us up and transport us to a hotel near our work and far from the sea.
Tina, Gabby, my mom and I had to evacuate our 10th floor (actually, we’re on the 11th level as Malaysians consider Ground floor as their 1st) seaview unit in Butterworth, Penang because a Tsunami alert was issued.
‘We have issued a tsunami alert. We urge people to keep away from the beach in (the states of) Kedah, Perlis, Langkawi, PENANG and Perak,’ Che Gayah Ismail, Deputy Director-General of the Malaysian Meteorological Department.
‘People are advised to keep away from the beaches. It is not an evacuation order.’ She said she wanted to clarify an earlier statement by a department official who had mistakenly said an evacuation order was issued.
The 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island, triggering an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert. Sourced via StraitsTimes.com
Despite the news which I firstly read on facebook, stated it was only a warning and NOT AN EVACUATION ORDER, the sound of sirens screaming long and twice, the sight of our colleagues who also live in the same condo units packing and about to leave, the countless feet that looked like EXODUS of people of various ethnicities whose ages range across the lifespan –literally, there were a lot of babies and grandmothers, all going down the stairs -but some took the risk of taking the lifts, those series of text messages and (missed)calls and brief talks with Filipino concerned co-workers, and worse, the cry and plea of our 7-year-old son who practically learned about the meaning of earthquake first time led Tina and I to immediately decide to go somewhere else too far from the sea.
We left this seaview for a night…
and woke up in Hotel Seri Malaysia with this view on our window…
Renting our 11th floor fully furnished appartment for 950 ringgit monthly (PhP 13,300 or USD 310) exclusive of utilities and other domestic bills to a very generous and nice Chinese-Malaysian lessor for almost a year now has been a good deal, or at least for us. We know that with such priceless and remarkably beautiful view of the bay before George Town and gorgeous sunsets by the porch, it’d be difficult to find similar cost and perks in Manila or possibly anywhere else. However, it dawned on us that living in a condo unit by the sea has its own downside too. Tsunami risk and earthquakes are difficult to battle. We’re not complaining, just contemplating. In fact, we’re very grateful despite and in spite of everything. Adversities make us stronger and wiser.
On a lighter note, we safely arrived via our reliable taxi cab driver in Hotel Seri Malaysia in Kompleks Dato Kailan, Kepala Batas at around past 9PM, Wednesday. It’s a few meters away from our place of work (and around 40-45 minute-away from our appartment when we take the bus).
If it’s only Tina and I, we could have stayed the night anywhere and waited until the tsunami alert’s lifted, but we’re with our son and my mom.
So I got a Family Room for only 160 ringgit nett (PhP 2,240 or USD 52.13–probinsya po kasi ang Kepala Batas kaya mura kumpara sa iba) inclusive of buffet breakfast for 3, a spacious room with a Queen-sized and a double beds, cable TV, internet use, hot and cold shower and a clean toilet. It was another steal! God knows that we’re financially burdened and unprepared for these things so He led us where comfort is affordable and reasonable (with its inclusives, it’s even cheaper compared to one of our favorite budget hotels, Tune Hotel!). God is great, all the time!
Facebook buddies kept me posted through the night. Notably, just so timely that the concierge gave me a negative reply when I asked her about English news on cable TV, one of my students informed me via fb that there’s an English news on TV3 at 12MN. Thankfully, we learned that tsunami alert was lifted around 10PM.
My family were all knockout at few minutes after midnight while I managed to stay up until half hour past 2AM.
Morning came with a new promise. We headed down to the Delima Restaurant of the said 4-star-hotel. Delima in English means Ruby or the red gem as told to me by the hotel manager. Tina and I actually have been seeing Hotel Seri Malaysia almost every week as it’s located right in the spot where Rapid Penang Bus Station in Kepala Batas is, however we never set foot to it before our so called evacuation.
And with no expectations from an unexpected (excuse the term) staycation, we were delighted with the buffet morning spread…
We arrived home at around past 12 noon, Thursday 4/12/2012 and were absent at work and school. Despite the nice stay in the hotel that night and everything seemed going back to ‘normal’, we felt extreme fatigue as soon as we got back.
We kept on telling Gabby to trust and believe in the Lord and that He shall never abandon nor forsake us, not now, not ever.
DEUTERONOMY 31:6 –”Be strong and of a good courage, do not fear, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD your God, He it is who goes with you; He will not fail you, nor forsake you.”
*”We’re so thankful to those people who were concerned and professed that they prayed for my family’s safety on facebook, twitter and personal calls. Their messages were overwhelming! Maraming Salamat po!”
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.
Don’t be deceived by the photos above, they may look as scenes taken at wee hours of the morning but it was almost seven o’clock when I captured them in a blink, en route to the first scheduled Catholic Mass one weekend (read : Tanghali na kung sumikat ang araw sa Malaysia at gabi na ang paglubog nito). I hopped on the bus at 15 minutes before 7 in the morning with my family in tow. After the short bus ride, we strolled our way to the church. Gabby, Tina, my mom and I heard the 30-minute Mass in English in this parish called Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Hello, Mr. Sun!
Gereja Katolik = Catholic Church. The NBVM Church is located at the back of this old chapel.
That old chapel (or was it the parish office now? who knew?) in front of the church compound was always kept locked, or perhaps it was still early to open it. Nonetheless, I found a visual stimulus in its rustic metal padlocks over textured wooden doors.
Because it was only half hour past seven in the morning and the mall and the grocery are still closed, we decided to take our first meal of the day in one of the local food stalls across the street. The eatery or carinderia for us Pinoys, or as Penangites call it, hawkers is situated in front of a small Buddhist temple which apparently caught my attention.
The caridenderia’s big enough to sit 100 people; well ventilated and offers a variety of drinks and tummy fillers.
PRICELESS morning smiles…
Children, say, KEOY TEOW SOUP…
LOVE at 8 o’clock in the morning…
With warmed stomachs, we took another bus ride to one of the malls in Penang mainland.
Lunch was done in McDonald’s, in favor of Gabby’s collection of Happy Meal toys currently featuring his favorite, Spongebob. Then we decided to see a movie at around 12:30PM. It has been a while since we last munched caramel popcorn inside a cinema.
After the movies, must buy groceries…
After the groceries, must satisfy growling tummies again! We had purple yam balls which we didn’t like (nothing’s special), taho or what they call here, tofoo far with brown sugar syrup, 3 bowls of dried scallop congee that we topped with fried bread called yoo tiao from the restaurant called, I love Yoo. The congee bowls were made even more tasteful with a dash of soysauce and sesame oil. A tall glass of cold soya for Gabby, and a cup of white coffee for me completed the light meal. Solb!
We could not be unhappy when there are more reasons to be grateful!
Finally, we reached the CityGate Outlets located at the terminal end of Tung Chung Station via what else but Hong Kong’s very efficient MTR lines (Mass Transit Railway). Although it’s just a ride away from Sunny Bay Station where we hopped off from that awesome Disneyland Resort Train Line, you know what a new place can do for some first-timers-unseasoned-travelers like us. Luckily, our feet didn’t get lost.
CityGate Outlets is one those must-visit spots in Hong Kong particularly when you only have limited time to kill or you’re on a hunt for some branded merchandise on a super bargain price (read : 50 – 70% off, which to us wasn’t a surprise because in malls in Penang, discounts also go as low as those during sale season). As for us, our game plan for this short trip to CityGate was simply to see the place and while away time as we wait for our 5:45PM flight back to Malaysia. Oh, and to fill our tummies too!
KIDDIE TEMPTATIONS AHEAD!
Amongst the many branded stores of rubber shoes, bags, clothes offering huge sale, nothing seemed so enticing (to someone whose wallet was well guarded because the budget is uber limited!) to us than this kiosk…
TUNG CHUNG, LANTAU ISLAND, HONG KONG.
Yes, Food Republic is the CityGate Outlets’ food court! And I apologize for thinking that we might smell like the food they offer after eating inside; I was so wrong! It must be a great food place for it’s almost packed when we arrived.
I almost ordered a Korean Bento Box from that Korea House where Tina bought her lunch set but I decided to hop from one food stall to another and tried to feel what my gastric mucosa’s craving was.
Food Republic’s made of various Asian cuisines -Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and my palate opted for a Japanese fastfood favorite!
When in Hong Kong, one should savor Chinese dishes –dim sum, noodles, and anything cooked Cantonese or Sichuan.
But it has been years since we last enjoyed cooking our own food in a sizzling plate with lotsa butter and pepper on the rice meal.
We love Pepper Lunch! We miss their Shangri La Plaza and Powerplant Mall branches back home (We have not tried Greenbelt branch yet). We even won in one of PL’s promo contests years ago (CLICK THIS!). I know now that PL has a branch in Malaysia, but it’s in Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur! That’s 5 hour-away via bus ride from Penang. So when opportunity presented itself, Gabby and I didn’t think twice, we had PL Rice for our last lunch in Hong Kong!
We loved those moments in Tung Chung!
*PS : LEGOLAND MALAYSIA in Johor Bahru (near Singapore) opens end of 2012 (view HERE!)
19 February 2012. Sunday. It was the last day of our 3D2N grand family vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resort. And although we’re ecstatic with everything we had experienced in the Happiest Place On Earth, we tried to struggle a bit with fact that we’re leaving Hong Kong for our work place in Penang, Malaysia before dusk. It’s always hard to leave something so special that gave you many wonderful memories. Nontheless, we still had a day to enjoy so Tina, Gabby and I started our last morning in Hong Kong with ear-to-ear smiles.
Good Morning, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel !!!
From our room down to the lobby, we headed directly to Chef Mickey to have our buffet breakfast!
“Chef Mickey recalls the lavish Art Deco-styled studio commissaries of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Mickey decorations and various Disney characters in sketch form are found throughout the restaurant.” (via hongkongdisneyland.com)
Here’s the nice corner reserved for my family and me…
From the ceiling, fixtures, tiled walls and the spread, there’s a piece of Mickey Mouse to delight your senses!
It was Gabby who first noticed and told me, “Daddy, look at the plate, it looks like Mickey Mouse’s pants!”
Much ado about carbo-loading : My first plate had a crusty cheese bread, a delicate egg tart, sample of fruity and fluffy pastries and a piece of Winnie the Pooh banana cake. Of course, my morning would not be complete without a dose of coffee.
Who says pizza ain’t a morning meal? Gabby was wide-eyed when he spotted an all-cheese-thin-crust-pizza on the spread; he’s a purist when it comes to pizza thus, it’s his favorite! I asked him, “Anak, do you want some?” Of course, I received an excited positive response! I got a few slices for him, added some hash browns molded into smileys; how cute! And the basic scrambled eggs and bacon with Mickey Mouse waffles spruced up with maple syrup, while our boy favored chocolate syrup!
One of my favorites that I found so good from Chef Mickey’s various offerings was those thin slices of smoked salmon! I paired it with fresh green salad which I topped with different kinds of cheeses, some bits of cold cuts and vinaigrette and my morning instantly became perfect!
Tina and Gabby were satisfied with the breakfast too. Why, there were cereals which is a staple for my wife and son; yoghurt and fresh tropical fruits too! There were also some Chinese favorites –choices of dim sum, noodles, congee and a lot more that we wished our stomachs can accomodate.
After filling our tummies from Chef Mickey, we got our luggage and bags, had an early check out at 10:30AM, deposited our bags (for free!) at the Left Luggage Service of the hotel and trooped to the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden.
For the nth time, I owe some brilliant observations from our 7-year-old-kid. After first noticing those Chef Mickey’s plates patterned after Mickey Mouse’s pants, he commented about the aisle at the garden has film strips! And so I took a snap…
Bright and beautiful foliage at the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden…
The colors of the blooms – both big and small were awe-inspiring!
Pretty, isn’t it? My mother would agree (read : she loves flowers while my wife prefers food!).
It must be the great climate. It must be…
Happy moments in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel were made of these…
So happy he became buoyant on cool air!
Then, at the back of those “Hollywood Hotel” signage is somewhat discreet walkway where vintage cars are parked, excellent for photo-ops. What is Hollywood without them anyway?
Now, here are the exhibits of our “not-our-car-photos”….
Gorgeous cadillac coupled with those lovely smiles…
We’re almost ready to leave the garden when Gabby was fascinated with this movie ticket booth…
Gabby was inspired to do role-playing with his mom. Tina as the movie-goer and Gabby sells the tickets. Guess who’s their director? Definitely, not me! I played the usual camera man; Gabby himself called the shots! And all the while we thought his mind’s already fixed in becoming a chef, hotelier and restaurateur in the future. He got other talents, baby!
The moment came when he thought of dancing in the middle of a turntable-designed ground near the poolside. Elvis Presley songs were on air. He was then more of an entertainer with the grooves more than just an actor-director! haha! (I captured all of his moves in photos which I will probably post on a separate entry soon).
Time to bid goodbye to Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. Thank you for that warm and family-friendly accomodation!
As we planned to collect our luggage from Disney’s Hollywood Hotel at around 3PM before heading to Hong Kong International Airport to catch our 5:45PM HK-KUL flight via Air Asia, we rode the resort’s free shuttle bus and went to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Public Transport Interchange (PTI).
TRANSPORTATION IS ALSO WHIMSICAL AT HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!
Here are some info and tips on how to go about the MTR Disneyland Resort Line
Getting to and out the park is as easy as counting 1, 2 and 3. From Hong Kong International Airport, one can opt to ride a bus, a car, a taxi cab or a train to reach Hong Kong Disneyland and vise-versa if you’re leaving the Happiest Place On Earth.
We’ve been to Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland quite a few times already but we were always on a package tour (read : there’s a tourist bus that pick us up to and from the park) and we have not experienced riding that Mickey-Mouse-windowed train running on the MTR Disneyland Resort Line. And so we did not let the chance pass last month to enjoy such experience.
It’s always great to ask whenever you’re in doubt. So I went to the counter of the MTR Disneyland Resort Line to inquire how to go to Ting Chung via Sunny Bay. He instructed me to buy tickets from the machines located at the laterals of the station just before the turnstiles. He generously broke my bills into coins for the train ticket machines; very HKDL-friendly!
The ticket machines are touch screens; you need to identify and press the point of your origin before you touch the point of your final destination. Say for example, touch first Hong Kong Disneyland Resort then Tung Chung. The ticket price for adult and kids are different but the machine monitor will show the amount per person and you just need to press the total pax (e.g. 3 adults, 1 kid). Et voila, you collect the tickets to be inserted (or swipe if it’s loadable) on the turnstiles!
Convenience meets Fantasy.
That’s my first impression on Disneyland Resort Train Station.
It made me wish that all train stations around the globe would be as neat and pretty as this.
“Travel on the railway network of MTR and interchange for the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay Station.
- Only 23 minutes from the Hong Kong International Airport, MTR Airport station,
- 30 minutes from MTR Kowloons tation and
- 33 minutes from MTR Hong Kong station where Guests can pick up Park Tickets too!Operating Hours between Sunny Bay and Disneyland Resort Station
From Sunny Bay: from 6:15am – 12:45am the following day From Disneyland Resort Station: from 6:20am – 12:40am the following dayFrequency 4 – 10 minutes.” (-via hongkongdisneyland.com)
And at an instant, we fell in love with the train! Those train handles are one of the many reasons why one should visit and experience Hong Kong Disneyland!
Among the many train couches, we were lucky to randomly seated near that Mickey Mouse bronze statue.
There’s Tink’s and many other Disney characters immortalized in bronze enclosed in capsules.
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort line runs until Sunny Bay. From here, you wait and take other trains that will take you to your destination.
Doing the “tourist thing” at Sunny Bay Station….
Now, where did we go and what did we do after Sunny Bay would have to be posted next!
With that, I’d like to thank the people who made our Hong Kong Disneyland trip very memorable and fun-filled! Thank you to Jaclyn, Nicole, Catherine and Purple –you guys are the BEST!
Thank you to my fellow Filipino bloggers with their families and friends! Thank you to Gael of The Pinay Solo BackPacker and her sister, Juvy, Thank you to Thammie of ThammieSy.com who came with her entire family, Pastor Dennis of Act Like A Man and their two adorable daughters, Alyanna and Mika. Thank you to Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later who came with her friend, Ms. Elizabeth (not in photo but Thank you, Maam for giving Gabby a lego-Buzz Lightyear watch!), Thank you fashion bloggers and celebrities, Laureen Uy of Break My Style who came with her special one, Robbie, and Kryz Uy of KryzUy.com who went with her sister, Jack. Maraming Salamat! Don’t you wish we meet again in some similar trip like this? Better yet, let’s go to HKDL again someday!
Last but not certainly not the least, THANK YOU SO MUCH to HONG KONG DISNEYLAND for being the venue of our FAMILY bonding, offering more than expected delicious FOOD and providing us never-ending FUN!
In so many ways, this Hong Kong Disneyland vacation was truly an exceptional one!
Whether it was our first time or we’ve been to the park and hotels several times over, reasons are beyond words to go back and revisit the Happiest Place on Earth!
Let this last set of my photos speak of those remarkable reasons why WE SO LOVE HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!
As Shakespeare had put it, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.”
It was an enormous blessing that we got a chance to revisit Hong Kong Disneyland and experienced family bonding, food and fun beyond our great expectations!
Thank you so much, our dear God!
Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!
Till we meet again, Mickey Mouse!
This Blog Series Includes :
18 February 2012, Saturday. Tina, Gabby and I woke up early from one of our restful sleeps in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and excitedly prepared for our Day 2 in the Happiest Place on Earth!
It turned out to be glorious!
From Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we hopped on the resort’s shuttle bus and headed to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. We had a table reserved under our names at Enchanted Garden Restaurant for our breakfast buffet and Meet and Greet with the Disney characters! Everything seemed so thrilling particularly for Gabby!
As we went down directly to the basement of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel where the Enchanted Garden Restaurant is housed, this beautiful space greeted us…
We came in too early at 8AM (read : apparently excited!) and found from the Cast Member at the door of the restaurant that our table would be ready at around 9:30AM (so that’s the time that was reserved to us!). Without a hint of worry, we went out the door from the restaurant and spent time almost unnoticed in this perfectly manicured garden at the back of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.
The gazebo looks inviting as a perfect venue for couples to exchange “I dos”. Imagine a wedding with all your favorite Disney characters led by no less than Mickey Mouse! Amazing!
A more interesting part of the garden is the hedge maze that Gabby, Tina and I tried finishing…
This is called, “Mickey Maze!”
Our kid totally enjoyed every second inside the maze…
Spot us in the Mickey Maze…
Let’s play “Hide and Seek!”
More cheesy but priceless bonding moments in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel…
Must be so happy? You bet!
After almost an hour at the garden, it’s time to freshen up and hit the tables and the spread. On way to Enchanted Garden Restaurant, we spotted super cool and nice things.
Exhibit #1 : Wooden high chairs for kiddos. They made me smile.
Exhibit # 2 : A room near the Enchanted Garden Restaurant will surely entice parents and their little daughters…
In “My Little Princess”, little ladies may be transformed into a Disney Princess of their choice.
This was just a “one proud daddy scene.” The moment reminded me of our wish (I and Tina’s) to give Gabby a little sister. (read :If it will come, it will in His time.)
Exhibit # 3 : Spotted Cinderella at the lobby of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel with Alyanna and Mika (the beautiful daughters of Dennis and Thammie who were with our group in this HKDL trip).
Finally, a walk under those trellis! Splendid!
Being ushered to our reserved tables and seats felt surreal! Not that we’re excited to binge eat, hehe! but the ambiance exceeded our expectations!
The spread had Asian and Continental breakfast favorites. Everything looked tasteful and a must-try. There was more than enough for us to savor and be energized for another whole day at the park!
And then a thought popped out…
You don’t go to Hong Kong without sampling good bowl of noodles
and some tasteful dim sum and dumplings.
You just dont.
I just wished they had toyomansi (soy sauce + lime/calamansi) for the dim sums.
And because it’s Disneyland, Enchanted Garden boasts of Mickey Mouse figures in their waffles and pancakes! These made me stare at my plate for several minutes before I dunk my fork and knife at them. I had some of the goodies in pair, yum, yum!!! One of my plates had waffles, pancakes, hash browns and french toasts. Appreciate if you won’t calculate the calories! This is when my weakness in Math comes to be most useful! hehe!
The next set was mostly Tina’s and my plates. I had no chance to take photos of Gabby’s because he’s preoccuppied with excitement and huge appetite.
Known in local Filipino TV series, “My Binondo Girl as”Amethyst” that Tina religiously followed online (Malaysia has no TFC!) and more popular as a fashion blogger-celebrity and sister to Liz Uy, we met the charming and beautiful, Laureen Uy.
One Stellar Moment
More stunning episodes happened as some of the best loved Disney characters went to our table for us to take photo-ops! Diners of Enchanted Garden need not to queue to have memorable pictures with Mickey, Pluto and Goofy (and other characters). It’s another VIP treatment that we enjoyed in Hong Kong Disneyland!
Widest and sweetest smiles from my family as we posed with Pluto and Mickey…
Must have one more shot with Pluto…
After that one-of-a-kind-breakfast experience at Disneyland Hotel’s Enchanted Garden, it was time to explore and enjoy Hong Kong Disneyland Park again!
To those who are planning to experience HKDL for the very first time and have doubts if you can enjoy it in one whole day, actually, you can! But would you not wish to double the fun if you can be there on 2 consecutive days?
Weather forecast checked : 14 to 16 degree Celcius. We loved the climate; we didn’t have a downpour! God is truly great!
We wore various hats : A Cast Member volunteered to take our family pic just before a quaint door in one of the pastel-colored structures at Main Street, U.S.A..
Hot. Fresh. Delicious!
Then our feet brought us to Tomorrowland!
As Tomorrowland intends to give park goers a creative experience of being in the future, the moments became nostalgic to us.
Here’s how we looked five years ago…I guess only pounds and kilos of happiness were added!
Inside the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, we have been warned.
We had FAST PASSES to this awesome ride! It was so cool when Buzz Lightyear himself introduced us to Astro Blasters!
Shooting robots. robots and more robots! We liked it here!
After that exhilarating Astro Blaster ride, we trooped to the largest restaurant in the theme park with over 800 seats, the Starliner Diner and grabbed a lip-smackingly good fried chicken and fries for lunch!
Over and beyond the food, what Tina and I liked was the fact that Hong Kong Disneyland’s Starliner Diner prioritizes sanitation and cleanliness by providing plastic gloves given inclusive of the food tray. You’ll find them folded and pack neatly with your tray. So eating chicken with hands was no-worries at all!
One more time on this car, Gabby!
2007 on the left ; 2012 on the right –Take a look at Gabby’s Then and Now photos and appreciate what 5 years have done!
Another ride within Tomorrowland available with Fast Passes is Space Mountain. We gave our Fast Passes to Laureen and her friends as we’re not fond of rollercoaster rides (read : Tina has Vertigo, Gabby’s still uncomfortable and cannot ride alone and I might throw up!). But if you’re adventurous and somewhat fearless, by all means, Space Mountain will surely give you the thrill!
We bid goodbye to Tomorrowland and strolled our way in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to watch the Flights of Fantasy Parade for the second time! That 30 minute Hong Kong Disneyland parade really left us in awe!
Just before the parade started, Tina thought of a clever strategy. Since we didn’t have priority pass to the musical, The Festival of the Lion King, she suggested that together with Gabby while I am still drowned capturing the parade on photos, they will head to Adventureland just before the parade ends. In that way, while people are still busy watching the parade, they’ll be the first on the queue to that another must-see-musical..And true enough, it was a wise move.
The Festival of The Lion King at Adventureland
The scene became more fascinating after the stage lights were turned off. Let the show begin!
“It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle,
The Circle of Life….”
It’s visually stunning! The songs and their voices are overwhelming too. We have seen this musical at HKDL more than a couple of times already and performance gets better and better! My particular favorite was the gorgeous air stunt of this lady-bird character; the act was so graceful; almost breathtaking!
These live musical shows (The Golden Mickeys and The Festival of the Lion King) make Hong Kong Disneyland specially different from the other Disney Theme Parks!
Then, it’s Gabby’s time for some Mickey Mouse ice cream! Sarap!
Few more steps, we found oursleves in Liki Tiki…
These “leaky” tiki jungle poles squirts water like fountains; look how our little one enjoys the drizzling effects…
Playing with tribal percussion instruments entertained Gabby to the fullest!
Tina and I are the happiest when he’s happy.
OK, so we left Adventureland with a smile and moved on to Fantasyland with even wider smiles!
This Pixie Dust area where Tinker Bell usually drop by for photo-ops wasn’t existing yet way back in 2007 (Gabby’s first trip to HKDL).
Time for some Mickey’s PhilharMagic! This colorful 3D movie adventure about how Mickey Mouse lost his wizard hat and what Donald Duck has to do with it never fails to amuse us. You never get tired of great attractions in Hong Kong Disneyland!
3D glasses on!
Our last Fast Passes on our hands were for the The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh...Gabby was only 2 years old when he first rode the track to the story of Winnie.
Cinderella’s Carousel has 60 graceful, prancing horses!
I learned that last year’s celebration of the 5th Anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland, Tink had showered Sleeping Beauty Castle with her pixie dust… The effect is even more magical at dusk!
After Winter Must Come Spring… Is it Spring yet?
Smiles and blooms perfectly blend…
Ahhhhh… another stupendous day at Hong Kong Disneyland is about to end…
Thank You, Lord for another magical day!
We made sure we remember this trip not only through photos and video but mementos and souvenirs from HKDL shops itself. Other than the Disney character-hats that we bought, Gabby got himself a rubber Mickey Mouse wrist watch (When we got into the hotel room, he received a gift from one of our new friends in our group–a lego writs watch with Buzz Lightyear design! Thank You, Ms. Elizabeth for such generous gift!).
Before exiting the shop, Gabby called my attention, “Daddy, picture!” hence, this…
Before 7PM, we left Hong Kong Disneyland Park with almost a heavy heart. It’s our last day in the park and surely we’ll miss all the fun!
Thank you for the memories, HKDL!
We had our last dinner in Hong Kong at Disneyland Hotel’s WALT’S CAFE. I’m almost lost for superlatives to describe how great the overall gastronomic experience we had. First thing came to mind : The dinner was EXCELLENT!
I think diners of Walt’s Cafe can opt to enjoy their meals at the lobby…
I checked the reservation and we’re instantly led toward the end of the restaurant where everything seemed perfect.
This is the beautiful corner reserved to our group. Isn’t it divine?
Looking at my photos after the trip made me wish I have sampled a bottle of their wine…
The view from our table… The ambiance and the look of that by-gone era was almost ethereal!
The smiles to live for….
Now, let’s get down to business. We loved everything we chowed down; starting with this crusty bread that looked like a hot air balloon when you work your imagination; it’s baked to perfection and can be enjoyed sans butter.
Gabby favored one of Mickey’s Kid’s Meal -Oven Baked Ham and Cheese Macaroni with carrots and green peas, fresh fruit salad and a choice of drink; our kiddo got himself a hot chocolate.
For Tina, she savored, Grilled US Beef Tenderloin and Simmered Beef Short Ribs with Mushroom and Pinot Noir Sauce, HK$ 268.
Let me tell you, I had a great time from browsing the menu to having a taste of everything my family had. Here’s my preferences and recommendations from Walt’s Cafe..
Chicken Breast Fillet with Poached Crab Meat with Papaya and Mango Salad served with Honey Lime Scented Dressing, HK$ 128.
My palate was satisfied with its texture and flavors. The fusion of freshest and sweetest fruits complemented well the crunchiness of the greens. And the Chicken Breast Fillet? Heavenly!
I requested the wait staff to provide extra small plates so I can share my order with Tina and Gabby. I also sampled one Walt’s Cafe’s soups -
Double Boiled Black Mushroom with Kam Ha Wam Soup, HK$ 78.
The soup’s tasteful. I like the flavor of the Chinese ham and the black mushroom. Beautiful combo! The mushroom was shaped into Mickey Mouse’s head too! Amazing!
Then for my main entree, a huge plate was served first with one of the prettiest veggie side dishes I ever had…
To people who think amusement parks and their resorts only offer fast food junkies, think again! Hong Kong Disneyland’s Corner Cafe and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel’s Walt’s Cafe proved it otherwise. Their menus are beyond sumptuous! The ambience, sublime!
Seafood Platter for Two. (Grilled or Poached. I wanted it grilled). Lobster, Scallops, King Crab Legs, Squid, Salmon, and Cod Fish with Lemon Dill “Beurreblanc” and Crustacean Sauce, Assorted Garden Vegetables, and Boiled Potatoes. HK$ 538.
One word : Outstanding!
Just take a look at that lime gorgeously wrapped with golden tulle and ribbon; wonderful!
The entree, Tina, Gabby and I shared….
We cannot be grateful enough!
Moving on to desserts…
My choice : Penny’s Bay Mango Pudding with Mango Puree.
Tina’s sweet preference : White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis
Gabby’s dessert plate was the most divine!
Oreo Cheesecake never tasted this great!
It’s one FUNtastic dinner to end one glorious day of everything that this blog gives reverence for :
FAMILY. FOOD. and FUN!
I cannot help but marvel at the immense scale of blissful experiences we had in Hong Kong Disneyland! That 3-day-2-night vacation extremely gave us unforgettable memories that Tina, Gabby and I will cherish forever.
Hong Kong Disneyland spells H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S!
Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!
*Up Next : The concluding post of this Hong Kong Disneyland Series! Stay Tuned!
This Blog Series Includes :
It was actually love at first sight. She’s so iconic; mesmerized me effortlessly and blew me away the first time I saw her from the foreground back in 2010. She has an identical twin who’s equally gorgeous; they’re both breathtaking!
I can’t help but fall in love with Petronas Twin Towers every time I see her. It’s my 4th time to be in Kuala Lumpur, Tina and Gabby’s second and my mom’s first (except she passed by the city with my dad en route to the airport last year). We grabbed the chance to revisit Malaysia’s capital city again to celebrate this year’s long Chinese New Year weekend (we’re on holiday until Tuesday, 24 January 2012) and to accompany my mom (who’s visiting us from UAE) in (re)exploring KL.
Believe it or not, Gabby’s Lola did our itinerary for this trip. My mom surfed the net for top 10 must-visit sites in KL, personally called contact persons of each destinations including our budget hotel concierge to inquire about the whereabouts, transportation and whatnot; after which, she spoke to me of what’s best to do to maximize our 3D2N break et voila! After casual deliberation, our priority’s to experience the Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge Visit.
It was around past 6 in the morning of Saturday, 21 January 2012 when our 5-hour-bus-ride from Butterworth, Penang reached Pudu Sentral (formerly Puduraya) at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Thank God we slept comfortably on the midnight trip so we headed directly to our budget hotel in Chinatown. Since regular schedule for check in is at 2PM and we arrived early at dawn (sunrise in Malaysia’s later than you expect), we just dropped off our luggage and bags and hurriedly trooped via taxi cab to KLCC-Petronas Twin Towers.
My mom was right. Tickets to the Skybridge Visit should be paid and claimed the earliest possible time, ideally in the morning of the day of your tour. We already saw groups of tourists heading to the basement of KLCC to queue for tickets; we followed suit. I went on queue and asked my family to freshen up at the tandas and grab something for breakfast from the nearby convenience store; we took turns in doing so.
The zigzag lines of people grew so fast!!! Look, at half hour past 6AM…
and just before the office opened at 8:30AM…
Despite the many tourists, there was no stampede, no loud noises, discipline was observed. Very good!
When the gate of the office opened and the line moved at a nice pace, photo-ops are limitless…
Finally, after almost 2 hours of waiting, we got our tickets for the 9:15AM visit! I believe they’re making a census out of the number of citizens per country who came to appreciate Malaysia’s iconic towers. I smiled with pride when I saw the name of our country on our tickets!
As of present, the schedules for the Skybridge Visit are as follows : 9AM, 9:15AM (the one we availed), 10AM, 10:15AM, 11AM, 11:15AM, 12PM, 12:15PM, 1PM, 1:15PM, 2PM, 2:15PM, 3PM, 3:15PM, 4PM, 4:15PM, 5PM, 5:15PM, 6PM and 6:15PM. So the visiting hours stretch from 9AM to 7PM every Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. *Phone and advance bookings are not be entertained.
Entrance fees for Malaysian adults and kids are cheaper at RM 25 per pax (PhP 350) than for foreign tourists, RM 50 per adult (PhP 700) and 25 ringgit for kids like Gabby (7-12 y/o, ages younger are free!).
Soon after we got the tickets, we brought our feet to the Check In area where like any terminals and highly restricted places, all our bags and things were scanned on an X-ray machine; all visitors were subjected to body-check; everyone was provided a color-coded ID, stickers for kids, and those with bags were advised to leave them at the package counter except for valuables.
Then still few steps at the Check In area, the tour commenced with a brief hologram presentation of the history of the Petronas Twin Towers and some few reminders of what to expect and how to move during the entire visit.
A guide led us to the lift en route to 41st floor where the Skybridge is located. It’s actually a double decked Skybridge–41st and 42nd levels connecting the two towers.
My heart silently pounded for extreme excitement. Like a kid of Gabby’s age or probably younger, I was quietly jumping for joy as we took steps to the Skybridge.
But upon hearing from the staffs that they ONLY allow 15 MINUTE-STAY per 20 visitors, PANIC ran through my veins, became too ANXIOUS in a heart beat; worried of how to capture the moments, the SPECTACULAR VIEW from the Skybridge on such limited time. Do you know how? Like my mom, who more often than not is tensed with tons of things, I really had no “grace under pressure”, LOL!
I am no engineer nor architect, but my jaw dropped in amazement with such magnificent structure.
I just snapped my cam without a concrete plan in mind how to properly stretch the 15-minute Skybridge visit. I was caught by circumstance and drowned by awe but nonetheless, the moment was so surreal! Definitely one for the books!
The view of the garden at the back of Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex at 170 meters above street level…
While I was so excited taking photos, Tina’s busy capturing almost everything in video via her little gadget (from her dad). Then we meet at the moment to pause and smile for photo-ops, haha!
I love this shot!
One more shot before leaving Level 41 and take the lift to 86th floor…
Level 86th is the 2nd observation floor aside from the Skybridge. We were given 20 minutes to savor the amazing view.
“The design of each tower’s floor plan is based on simple Islamic geometric forms of two interlocking squares creating a shape of eight-pointed stars. Architecturally, these forms reflect important Islamic principles of Unity within unity, Harmony, Stability and Rationality.” -–Sourced via “Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised” visitors’ brochure.
*Quick Facts :
- Number of storeys -88,
- Height of each tower -452 meters above street level
- Length of Skybridge : 58.4 meters
- Height of Skybridge (Level 41 from street level) : 170 meters
- Lifts : 29 double-decker high speed passenger lifts in each tower
- Escalators : 10 in each tower
- Stairs : 765 flights
- Car park : 5,400 parking bays on 5 levels of basement parking
- Steel used : 36,910 tons
- Weight per tower : 300,000 tons
- Usable space : 213,750 sq meters per tower
- Two annexes : 186,000 sq meters of space *-Sourced via “Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised” visitors’ brochure.
*Milestones of the construction of Petronas Twin Towers :
- June 1992 ………………..start of project planning
- Mar 1993………………….start of foundation works
- Apr 1994………………….construction of the superstructure
- Jul 1995…………………..lifting of skybridge
- Jan 1996………………….fitting out of the interiors complete with furniture
- Mar 1996…………………jacking of the spires of Tower 1 and Tower 2
- Jan 1997…………………moving in of the first batch of Petronas’ personnel
- Aug 31, 1999……………official opening by YAB Dato Seri Dr Mahatir Mohamad, the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia -*-Sourced via “Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised” visitors’ brochure.
The 86th level observation area is kid-friendly. See how Gabby played his ticket lifting the hologram structure of the twin towers. Aliw ang bata! The other foreigner-visitors waited for Gabby to finish for them to use the monitor to play too!
Our almost half an hour spent at the 86th level of Petronas Twin Towers was definitely unforgettable! It gave us uniquely beautiful kind of high!
I would not mind paying the two towers a visit again in the future. And again. and again. Because I love them so.
*This is a part of a blog series on our 3-day-Chinese New Year holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As of this posting, the family & docgelo have returned to Penang.
Never underestimate things from rubbish for you might find gold in them. I told Gabby this while we walked our way towards Armenian Street in George Town after alighting the ferry from Jetty. The little-big boy, at first was puzzled until I simplified what it means.
I was surprised when our 7-year-old wonder boy is already familiar with the triple R -recycle, reduce, reuse. Apparently, his mom and teachers have been doing their duties wonderfully. Our casual father-and-son conversation became more meaningful when we spotted several used bath tubs now serving as plant boxes lining the street. Whoever thought of that must have been so environmental-friendly.
As Tina usually wants to spend her Sunday at home whenever possible (for she thinks and I also agree that she deserves a rest before she begins another work week), it was only Gabby and I who went out to the Island primarily to run some errands (we needed to go to a money changer to have our ringgits changed to pesos as we’re going home to Pinas for the holidays, we also had to buy some ingredients for Tina’s home cooked siomai and a few more pasalubongs for our relatives and lastly, I was asked by my lovely wife to bring her old denims for a change of zippers in a repair shop). However before doing all this, I decided to drop by AMELIE CAFE and grabbed the opportunity to expose my kid to something totally different.
Located in #6 Armenian Street beside a famous tourist spot, Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong that we have yet to explore some other time, AMELIE CAFE is a hole-in-the-wall cafe that serves quality Western food in the heart of George Town.
At first sight, one would not imagine that this tiny food place can provide a charmingly beautiful gastronomic experience. It actually looks like an ordinary carinderia outside, housed at the ground floor of a pre-war building except that its simple facade was made attractively beautiful by those lavish green potted plants and its unique hand-made sign boards express that there must be more than meets the eye.
Having been an expat for more than a year here in Penang, I completely know that this Malaysian state, particularly in one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, George Town, offers diversities not only in race, religion and color but evidently in culinary department as well. Like mushrooms in the woods, hawker food stalls, restaurants and coffee shops are having healthy competitions despite they thrive side by side. Food in this part of Asia is more than substantial but a lucrative business too.
With the commercially available kedai kopi like Starbucks Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf including the popular local kopitiam and the like, AMELIE CAFE, in my honest opinion has greater advantage above all these giants.
It’s edge –the highly creative atmosphere out of recycled materials.
Take a peek at what we had enjoyed inside…
It’s like we entered a hole-in-the-wall eatery-slash-museum-slash-art-gallery. Amazing’s an understatement!
No corner was overlooked; even its humble ceiling deserves a glimpse.
On top of the door were tin plates displayed beneath those water plants (I’ve known them as celia as told by my old relatives; we have some at home in Butterworth cut from the jetty/ferry station) placed in old bottles of various branded fruit jams.
What’s great with all of these decors, I think they’re highly mobile as the owners can move them from one corner to the other making the interiors of Amelie Cafe uniquely different in a snap.
There’s only one ceiling fan without unusual look but nonetheless functional.
Must have that detail shot…
On the left side by the door is a table and this wall…
As we stepped inside Amelie Cafe, we found out that it only has 5 small tables filled with mostly foreigners dining their brunch. Fortune was on our side when we spotted an available table located at the end, just by the kitchen. No worries for Gabby and I because astonishingly, smoke from the frying pan is handled professionally. I didn’t mind being welcomed by the gentle wafting scent of the bacon at late morning; it was so welcoming actually!
The limited 5 tables with 3 to 4 stools each do not come in set. Even their plates, cups and saucers never look alike but when put together they contribute to ones’ fantastic dining experience.
The finish of the walls, floor and ceiling was not made perfect but it added to its enticing appeal.
We were greeted by Yen, one of the owners of Amelie Cafe. It’s only Yen and her husband, Hung run the entire show at their very quaint food place. The wonderful duo serve as wait staff, at the same time, do the preparation of food, do the cooking and tender the cashier counter and if chance permits, entertain their diners. Fantastic! I just failed to ask them if they have formal education in culinary or in related fields nevertheless, I think it’s no longer important as they’ve been managing everything at Amelie Cafe smoothly and successfully.
As Gabby and I sat down, Yen handed in the menu…
She told us, pointing with her thumb (the way Malaysians do it-not the common use of index finger or for us Pinoys, with a pouting lips, hehe!) to the uber artistic dessert menu board beneath the stairs.
After getting our orders, I asked if they have tandas (toilet), Hung pointed towards the back of the kitchen. The kitchen looks like this…
These are some of the artworks located above our table. Other than the use of recycled materials, did you notice the recurrent theme? Mother Nature must be super happy!
Humor in recycled art : Old wooden planks nailed side by side painted with fish spines and dog bone noted with “meow” combined with “oof oof !” ….Nice!
I believe the couple also did all those colorful pieces. And it looks like they’re also responsible designing the whimsical interiors of Amelie Cafe. How many businessmen do their work with complete hands-on?
With all those eye-catching things, waiting for our orders to be delivered and boredom inside Amelie Cafe didn’t become an issue. After 15 minutes, Gabby and I were already sharing these…
I gave him the liberty to go over the menu and choose whatever he wants. He selected carbonara, hazelnut chocolate parfait and chocolate banana milkshake. That was pure carbo-glucose fix!
After that candid shot, my boy asked me to dunk my fork and eat all those crispy cut bacon strips from the pasta because he doesn’t eat bacon and seldom he likes ham. Sure, I replied to him; I became easily submissive with his wish.
As Gabby continuously dreams of becoming a chef, a hotelier, restaurateur someday, I told him that putting up a carinderia as gorgeous and attractive as Amelie Cafe would do. Thinking of owning something like this is more than surreal!
Hazelnut parfait was a perfect ending to our mini-brunch. It came with fresh cranberries that Gabby wrongly thought of cherries. The pasta plate was also satisfyingly good, although minimal in serving and less creamy than usual–the taste actually made the difference. And the milkshake? Refreshingly delicious!
Honestly, the food doesn’t come that cheap compared to what you might expect. The price is comparable to Starbucks Coffee’s. A little more expensive than the common fast food joints. But hey, you don’t get all these visual treats from those commercial food places.
Then the moment of “must sample their coffee” dawn upon me…
The first sip of this cappuccino was for Tina. Yeehaa! I really wished she’s with us with this (another) extraordinary experience.
The table where we enjoyed everything…
Just before ending our meal at Amelie Cafe, Gabby told me that he liked everything he ate and appreciated all things he saw inside. Like me, he loved all the artworks, all the delightful clutter including the simple presence of that fish solitarily swimming in that old jar. The sense of recycling old things and turning them into great use rather than considering them as useless junks was reinstilled in his young mind. The
exposure brain-washing, I guess was successful!
A few months back, there was one weekend morning that Tina, Gabby and I woke up with a great drive for eating. You might be thinking that there’s nothing uncommon about it as my family and I truly have passion for dining (READ : Gluttony is far different from being self-declared food enthusiasts or foodies; spelling pa lang po magkaiba na!) but that day was totally exceptional. We oddly tried two Steamboat and BBQ buffet restaurants in a day.
With no imposed obligations from them, I’m trying my best to give back to my parents by doing things to Gabby what they did to me and my brothers. It’s one of the simple ways I know to show gratitude to the people who raised us well.
Before I got married and raised a family of my own, I used to put up a Christmas tree with my mom, siblings and cousins on either the last day of October or after Undas (All Saints and All Souls’ Day). Like ordinary Filipino family, it has been a tradition for us to welcome and usher the yuletide season in our home by gathering around our living room to assemble one of the most famous holiday symbols, the Christmas tree!
From malls to shops in Divisoria, we usually update our decors almost every 2 to 3 years back then. Once, our mom even brought us to a specific distributor of Christmas decors and novelty items somewhere in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City (a company called ‘Unique’ that supplies National Bookstores and some department stores in Pinas). We used to have 6 feet Christmas tree with decors that are older than my nephew and nieces.
While on Tina’s end, my in-laws are also fond of sprucing up the house with holiday cheers. Last year, Tina, Gabby and I unboxed my in-laws’ collection of Christmas village that they have purchased over the years from US. (View them HERE!)
Now that I have Tina and Gabby, it’s more apparent that a simple activity as raising a Christmas tree can foster family bonding.
Except for the Christmas lights, Gabby decorated the tree himself, piece by piece…
S & J, a novelty shop in Queensbay Mall, Penang issued their free quarterly ”Bento magazine” to promote their items on sale. For the 3 of us, the most interesting items on the pages are the Christmas tree packages with mostly European themes.
There were a lot to choose from; themes were inspired by the key cities in Europe and few from other parts of the globe. There’s Barcelona, New York, Paris, Moscow, Helsinki, Rome, Edinburgh, and the one we brought that the three of us selected in its medium size (4 feet+) -Black forest (in Germany). The ‘Black forest’ tree was described in the Bento magazine with phrase, “Mesmerize with fairytale toys of wonderland Germany.”
Not only with their themes, but sizes of these Christmas trees vary from small (120 cm), medium (the one we got at 150 cm) and large (180 cm).
Here are detail shots of our tiny Christmas tree….
We love Christmas balls in any color, in any size!
The Black forest Christmas tree package from S & J was lacking of stocks of two types of Christmas balls so the sales ladies asked us to choose from their shelves. Tina singled out little mirror-balls for our tree.
From Mr. Snowman to Santa Clause and reindeers, the decors are a delight to our eyes! Gabby enjoyed putting them on the tree that’s only a bit taller than him.
Putting the star on top of the tree is somewhat symbolic. We also wanted Gabby to do it however he told me that he’s already tired so I did the job for him. The boy’s energy was exhausted in our first Christmas activity, hehe!
Et voila….Gabby’s masterpiece!
With no explanations needed, Christmas goes beyond those glittery and sparkling decors. We anticipate more our celebrations of the reason for the season as we do this earthly preparations.
Our Christmas tree heightens our excitement to come home to the Philippines on the 3rd week of December. We cannot wait to see how Manila and our relatives’ places have been decorated for this season!
Black Forest never presented this edgy…
Our 7-year-old wonder boy loves cheese and cheese cakes and so are we…
Gabby’s palatal exposure to wide array of digestive stimuli may hopefully contribute in his aspirations to become a chef, a hotelier and a restaurateur someday. So help us, God!
- me: Ano nangyari? Bakit dumugo? (What happened? Why did it bleed?)
- Tina : Hindi ko napansin e. (I didn’t notice.)
Then out of nowhere, Norizah, a short-haired pleasant female senior wait staff approached our table with utmost concern. She asked what happened and offered something she can do.
- Tina : (smiling despite bleeding) “My wound is bleeding but I’m OK. Nothing to worry. I am a nurse and my husband is a doctor.”
- me : (smiled and nodded at Norizah)
- Norizah : “You’re a nurse and he’s a doctor but you are my customers and I worry about you. Would you like me to bring something from the clinic? I’ll go get some band-aid.”
Right there and then, I wanted to give Norizah a “Natatanging Waitress Award.” (Outstanding Waitress Award) haha! Seriously, I could have told her that it’s our first time to experience such utmost thoughtfulness from a restaurant staff but Tina and I only thanked her for her impeccable service.
How many hotels, restaurants or any form of food places have thought of providing kids their own plates? Isn’t this gesture sweet?
Because excitement was difficult to contain, Gabby filled his first plate with chilled scallops that he topped with what else but parmesan and cheese dressing. Cheesy overload on those delicious mollusks. Takaw mata man, Tina and I were there to eat his leftovers. Sarap!
There’s a bar that has various cheese offerings; celery and carrot sticks made available for dipping.
How do you like blue cheese?
Or emmental cheese perhaps?
There’s no wine for obvious reasons but breads made a great combination..
Now, let’s proceed to shameless display of plates : I started with this few slices of cold cuts– chicken ham and that remarkably delicious smoked salmon, with bread and cheeses. We also enjoyed their thick and creamy corn soup.
Must have that detail shot, haha!
Second of my beatitude, “Blessed are the people who have no hypersensitivity, for theirs the kingdom of seafoods!”
I am a sucker for prawns and proof to this is the fact that I never miss out to buy prawns from the public market here every weekend (read : we’re lucky for it’s a lot cheaper here than in Pinas). Tina usually cook it either with garlic and butter or just steamed and we’re on cloud 9 already!
Mussels on the otherhand, aren’t as common as shrimps here. If you must know, the sweet taste and humongous size of mussels that we’ve eaten when we were in Auckland, New Zealand back in 2005 for our memorable 7 week family vacation there remains to be unforgettable! We’re fortunate enough that the buffet of Spice Market Cafe has mussels but not as close as what we had in Auckland.
Then there were those another family favorite which Gabby had singled out…
Have you tasted yabbies?
We could have wash our hands and enjoyed them to bits but I for one had no extra room in my gastric pit…some other time, I guess haha!
Here’s my seafood plate…
Pity those who must take anti-histamines when they eat these glorious foods!
Moving on, the Chinese section’s essentials were present like noodle station…
It’s an experience watching the chef make hand-pulled noodles live! The force in kneading that dough as he stretched and slammed it to have less air was already an entertainment while eating!
Noodle soup must have other ingredients…
But where are the dimsum and dumplings? Did we miss it out?
I was silently jumping for bliss when I saw that there’s a Japanese station. It has been months since I’ve last squeezed a sushi between chopsticks.
Although to our dismay there were no ebi and crab tempura which are also Gabby’s favorites, we were happy to have freshest tuna and salmon sashimi, and some sushi…
The little-big boy really had his time…
I can eat this plateful of yummies everyday, haha!
I just recently found my love affair with some Indian foods, so I tried some chicken tandoori (but too spicy for my palates), papadum and roti, and one of the famous local grilled goodies here, chicken satay with peanut sauce…
I like their chicken satay but had an aversion to eat it with fresh onions. Usually, it’s eaten with cucumber and onion slices. Don’t you love these brass wares? I do!!! I wish when the time comes that we need to leave Malaysia, there would be extra money to buy these as souvenirs (O marami nyan sa Divisoria? LOL!)
Do you like lamb? I don’t because of its usual-after-taste that leaves you wanting to gargle non stop, hehe! But the slices of roasted lamb leg from this buffet made me reconsider it!
Beef dishes, as I know it, aren’t easy to prepare. It needs slow cooking for it to become tender and the beef medalions with mushrooms from Rasa Sayang doesn’t disappoint!
Peking Duck and Char Siew Chicken were also sublime!
Most foreigners and tourists would dig the local Malaysian favorites so for the desserts section, they’re offering ais kacang, cendol, ABC and more….(their version of our Filipino Halo-Halo!)
However, we didn’t try their version; perhaps, next time.
Thankful to Gabby, he had the effort of going to the ice cream station to prepare a cup as Tina and I were already full that time.
Chef Gabby’s plating of ice cream…
Local Malaysian desserts were satiatingly good; our own versions we call them in Tagalog, kakanin…
Skewered for dipping…
One of this blog’s valued commenters (convictstock from Australia) mentioned before that their stay and dining in Rasa Sayang was made extraordinary because of their chocolate fondue. I agree but it would not hurt for Shangri-La Penang to double it with white chocolate fountain too! We have lots of hotels in the Philippines who offer it and it’s twice the fun of course!
Gradually, Gabby’s having big ideas of what his kitchen, hotel and restaurant will all look like in the future as he picks up beautiful things and notes those he must avoid doing by his decent exposures to all this. It’s like (positive) brainwashing 101 or more like an early immersion for our kiddo. Salamat na lang, lagi may promosi! (We’re always grateful for promotions as buffets in hotels are made affordable!).
Thank you, Spice Market Cafe for putting up such dining decors for kids and kid-at-hearts!
Fresh fruits were also on the spread but not the same with fruit juices; you need to pay extra for a glass or two. It’s unlike other premier hotel-buffets we have tried here in Penang where beverages are included in their offering; that’s one little disadvantage for patrons of Rasa Sayang in our humble opinion.
However, they uplifted our spirits when we learned that coffee is included in the buffet, yahoooo! Tina and I are just simple coffee-lovers!
One week prior to our dinner when I had phoned them to make a reservation, they told me that the 250-sitting capacity of the restaurant is almost filled. I just took the chance in requesting that if and when some guests back out for whatever reason, I’ll appreciate if they can accomodate us in for consideration that I am bringing Gabby and I was surprised on the eve of our indulgence, they did! They allowed us to sit inside the buffet dining area instead outside where they have nipa huts and more tables for diners.
All in all, our first dining experience in Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa Spice Market Cafe was indeed, less ordinary. Admittedly, I personally had great expectations because of its name and reputation and they exceeded it, bar none! More than great tasting dishes, their friendly service to customers showed how they value their market over their business. And where else can you spot such impressive factors for the price of RM 185 nett (PhP 2,590 or USD 59) for the three of us (at RM 104+ : buy-one-free-one+kid’s half rate)? The cost is such a steal that one will be tempted to go back for more! Visit their website for more details of their rates and promotions (http://www.shangri-la.com/)
Until our next family bonding moments!
30 August 2011, Tuesday. We left our place in Butterworth at around half hour past 6 in the morning to catch our flight scheduled at 12 noon. It’s a holiday that I planned several months ago, when days were less troubled and airfares were sold at discounted rates.
Time check: 1:30AM, I have to doze off now. In a few hours, we shall have a long (and fun) family day again! Our arrival was a blast. We can’t wait to seize the remaining days. :)
And so the weeklong break has come. We’re up to enjoy the Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) vacation from work (for Tina and I) and school (for Gabby) beginning today, 27th August until 4th September. I will take my wife & kid on Tuesday next week to a short trip in a neighboring Asian country for the very perstaym, but since it’s too early to pack our luggage and bags, we’re just happy to spend more time together for more than a week (repeat : no work, no school, yahoo!) and do things we’d like to do.
De-stressing at home : As Tina’s busy preparing our meals, she also finds more time to play her favorite computer games. Gabby’s doing a cartoon marathon on TV (making me miss to watch one of the series I follow, The Amazing Race but that’s OK of course) while I go online to do a little research on our itinerary next week, making last-minute reservations and bookings (akala ko ba de-stressing?) and blogging and blog hopping in between.
I’m happy that a popular Filipino website called spot.ph featured few of my blog pictures of the Japanese restaurant back home called, Zensho, with, permission, proper credit and link to my post (back in 2009), I was inspired to browse my photo files once more.
I chose to repost my favorite photos taken after I purchased my Nikon D7000 early this year. They may be far from your standards, but I’d like to share them again to you as my favorites to date as these captures simply make me smile when I browse them in files. Comments for improvements, particularly free tips on this hobby called photography (I consider it a big word for I am a neophyte with still so much to learn –blame my laziness to read the few photography books and magazines I acquired) will be appreciated.
And of course, my main reason for owning a camera is to capture moments with them with their precious smiles…
I don’t know of the technical aspects of photography yet but I like these pictures not only because of the subjects but the memories that come with them.
PS: I agree with what I have read before that “owning a DSLR doesn’t make you an instant blogger more so a photographer”. My 2-cents-worth: It’s not really the camera that matters for it’s only a tool; it takes passion, talent and the will to learn new things for you to love and improve on these hobbies.
Good news #1 : God’s healing hands are upon my nephew…
My 12 year-old nephew, Joshua is showing positive signs a day after his neurosurgeries. He underwent 3 procedures, the third of which was done last Tuesday, evacuation of hematoma. The blood clot that was sucked out from his AV malformation that led to stroke was as big as an apple. My brother told me this morning via SMS that his son was able to move his legs and dangle them over the hospital bed railings, was able to waive at the female doctors on duty at the ICU but shed tears whenever in pain. One thing is clear now–although apparently, it will take a long (and expensive!) process, he rose above the surgical procedures done on him, including the diagnostics (dye was used to visualize the trauma), Joshua is on his way to gradual recovery. Thank you, Lord!
We will appreciate prayers for Joshua’s condition to continuously improve as he’s schedule to be subjected too to radiation at the end of next month. Thank you!
Good news #2 : Despite life’s challenges and stresses, we thank the Lord for a long holiday ahead!
How will you spend a paid work holiday that stretches from 27th August to 4th September? Those are 9 glorious days that include the commemoration of the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan for the Muslim community here in Penang and a perfect chance for us to spend quality time with our families.
Because Tina and I decided to take our vacation (my annual work leave) to the Philippines to celebrate Christmas and New Year, we skipped the thought of going home mid year.
Life has to go on despite its trials.
Several months ago, I planned a trip somewhere for Tina, Gabby and I to enjoy on this year’s Hari Raya. I’ve patiently waited for a low cost carrier to even drop its airfare to a more affordable promo rate and I was successful. I just wish our 4 days next week to be spent outside Malaysia will de-stress us and recharge our spirits.
On our second day in Hat Yai, Thailand, my family and I started the day by eating a hearty breakfast (for us but not theoretically & practically for the heart) at the Food Loft of New Seasons Hotel. The morning meals were inclusive of the 3D2N accomodation package we availed.
Guests were provided a set menu that has butter+jam and toasts, coffee or tea, and a variety of local and continental breakfast to choose from. My options were artery-clogging bacon strips and slices of ham with sunny side up eggs then, I feared Salmonellosis, I had my eggs scrambled the next morning.
Delightful breakfast gone bad!
Everything was fine until a problem in communication happened. Tina and I opted to have extra fried rice. Knowing that the staff (and most Thai, let’s admit it!) can speak little English, I took extra effort in explaining to the wait staff our add-on orders.
Several minutes of patient waiting, no fried rice landed on our table. We called the attention of the wait staffs and politely (with a smile), made a follow up on our extra order. After slicing my bacon strips into bits, thankfully, fried rice arrived but the orders were taken and delivered wrongly. They were plateful, complete with fried pork and vinegar and side dishes (as shown on photo above, which my parents ordered for themselves)! I explained with utmost courtesy (you know how food people can do to your plates, so be very extra good in dealing with them), that we only asked for 2 plates of fried rice and nothing more–not a complete set of breakfast meal.
They immediately got the plates and returned to us with just fried rice on it. I and Tina enjoyed our breakfast (who would not with those bacon strips?–double order please! hehehe!) But I was again astonished when they made me sign the bill after I told them that Gabby’s meal shall be charged on our room bill. I saw that they charged us 2 extra complete breakfast sets where in fact we only ordered and ate 2 cups of fried rice –meaning without butter+jam and toasts, coffee/tea and viand.. WE ONLY ORDERED AND ATE EXTRA FRIED RICE! Despite my efforts in explaining the scenario, I thought my view was noted but I was wrong.
THIS SH*T HAPPENS WHEN USE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS A RARITY IN A COUNTRY! (read : I am not fluent myself, but most people if not all, can speak and understand English from my country, the Philippines! And I am damn proud of it–google translate: Kahit karpintero o tricycle driver marunong ng is-was-were sa Pinas; minsan fluent pa sila!)
On our last day, when I was about to settle the hotel bill, I found out the food people really charged us with 2 entire breakfast sets instead of 2 cups of freaking fried rice! Although, the receptionist at the front desk understands English and the situation completely, I still ended up mildly straining my larynx again in elaborating that it’s not an issue of price or cost (it’s so affordable at only B70 or RM 7 = PhP 78 per set meal and B20 or RM 2 =PhP 28 per cup of rice), but how efficient you are in delivering your service. They did nothing and still asked me to pay what we didn’t eat. I asked the front desk lady to take extra efforts next time in avoiding the same thing to happen again with other guests. Training of staffs would help.
Poor Customer Service is a Pure Insult to Paying Customers!
Sayang lang, gusto ko pa naman ang sign boards ninyo….
Enough… Let us not spoil the memories of our days in Hat Yai.
After that eventful breakfast, we hopped in the same tuktuk we hired the previous day and continued the Hat Yai tour.
I guess everyone will agree with me that no trip to any parts of Thailand is complete without Buddhist temple visit. I opted to include in our itinerary the Wat Hat Yai Nai, the shrine of the reclining Buddha which is said to be the 3rd largest in the world (so would that make the one in Penang, the fourth and the one in Kelantan, Malaysia the fifth? Can anyone confirm?).
This frequently visited shrine is located on Phetchakasem Road, near Saphan Khlong U-Taphao, Hat Yai. The image of the Enlightened One is said to measure 35 metres long, 15 metres tall and 10 meters wide.
What do you call these bells for prayers?
Now this quote on the Hilltop is too difficult to observe, agree?
It was almost 4 in the afternoon when we went down from the Hilltop, and since I asked the tuktuk driver (forgive me, I forgot to note his name!) to drop us off at a money changer to exchange few more ringgit to baht, I decided not to bring my family to Hat Yai Municipal Park. Honestly, by doing so, I regret now not having even a single photograph alongside the Laughing Buddha in the Municipality Park of Hat Yai
After going to the money changer, we were brought back to the hotel; spent an hour refreshing up then we went out for an early light dinner.
My excitement to try Mcdonald’s Samurai PORK burger went downhill when I found out that there’s nothing special about its taste after taking the first bite. The sauce inside the bun was far something that I will like. It was not that I am partial with beef burger (sure I am!) but this pork burger that probably is present only in Hat Yai (is it?) didn’t meet my expectations.
I remember I was also disappointed in Mcdonald’s Hat Yai because their Coca cola cups aren’t refillable unlike in Penang. Yes, here in Penang, it’s drink all you want Coke in all Mcdo branches, isn’t that great? *Imagine kung sa Starbucks drink all you want din?* LOL!
After Mcdo, we decided to watch Captain America in one of the malls in Hat Yai that’s walking distance from our hotel. Unfortunately, Captain America in Hat Yai also doesn’t speak English! Oh Well!
Out of disappointment that the movie we wanted to see was dubbed in Thai (FYI, in Penang –English movies are shown in English with only Malay and Chinese subtitles which for me is far better), instead of spending B120 (RM12) for a movie we won’t understand, we settled and just drowned ourselves to a better option–Thai local sweet delicacies, we so liked it!
Then few steps more just before getting to our hotel, we bought fresh fruits from this street stall…
On the same date last year, I left Manila to Penang and became an expat, or as most people from my country would call, OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) or OCW (Oversease Contract Worker). A lot of things changed since I decided to become one of the medical lecturers in this side of Malaysia.
One year abroad reminded me these things :
Mamy, Daddy, Tina, Gabby and I will spend 3 days in Thailand beginning tomorrow until Monday. We pray for a safe trip and a good weather. It will be fun, definitely. Have a great weekend too!
PS : What post from this blog about Penang do you like the most?
09 July 2011. Saturday
We left our home in Butterworth at half hour past 11 in the morning. It was another memorable weekend for my family.
After knowing that Transformers is only showing on 3D in one of the cinemas here, we decided to pass on the movie because my wife doesn’t want to watch anything that may trigger and aggravates her vertigo. Instead of a movie-date, we immediately brought ourselves to a Chinese restaurant and indulged in some dimsum and noodles for lunch inside Queensbay Mall, the biggest in the island that’s few kilometers away from Penang International Airport.
We needed to kill time before we pick up my dad who came from Pinas on dependent visa (valid until my work visa expires) via Kuala Lumpur, to continue his being dutiful lolo to his apo, Gabby.
The no-drama-and very casual-reunion at the airport was almost like we just last saw each other yesterday.
After the meeting, must eat Mcdo! Funny thing was, he’s also treated to Mcdo breakfast meal by my brothers in the morning of his flight right before leaving Pinas, haha!
Note to Jollibee : If you can bring your branches to Brunei and other parts of Asia, sa Penang wala pa! We’ll be your very first patrons, when that day comes. Promise!
I arranged a pick up service with a friendly Indian taxi cab driver, the same guy who helped us haul and transfer our things when we moved in to our new place a week ago exactly. The trip from Penang Airport (Penang Island) to our place in Butterworth (mainland Penang) cost around RM 70 (PhP 980).
Daddy’s first glimpse of that 25km Penang Bridge….
After that long stretch of magnificence comes another flyover that connects the roads going to Butterworth. The structure mimics the majestic Penang Bridge…
Then the time came to unwrap his 25kg Balikbayan box (yes, he didn’t have any luggage and only brought few of his clothes to accomodate and bring our request).
Tina wanted something from Pinas for our living room table centerpiece. My brother, Mac bought these balls for us from bazaars in Greenhills no less (tyangge, syempre!). For the meantime, Tina placed her balls on one of her plastic banana leaf plates until I’ll find something more appropriate.
And because religious articles are apparently hard to find in a predominantly Muslim state…
More reasons to be happy…. Lapid’s Chicharon, FTW!
Thank you, Lord for all the blessings, big and small.
While most people in Penang were still sleeping and curling up in beds last Saturday morning, my wife, Tina, our 6-year-old son Gabby and I were already on our feet to the bus stop at few minutes after 6AM. The reason was simple : to get a glimpse at the 32nd Penang International Dragon Boat Festival held in Teluk Bahang Dam.
I initially considered sleeping with my family in a cheap hotel in George Town to be up and early at the rowing site but Tina vetoed the idea; I surrendered to her choice.
I never expected that we would have a long hike getting to the venue.
Although it took us only few minutes to be at the jetty after hopping to the bus from our place in Butterworth, we’ve waited around half an hour for the bus to arrive and spent another 30 minutes for the ferry to arrive in Penang Sentral that will take us to George Town; note that the usual ferry trip takes around 12-15 minutes (Why ride the ferry? We’re staying in mainland Penang where our work site is and “the life” is in Penang Island so whether you own a car or you commute, either way, you still have to cross the bay via ferry–for both vehicle owners and commuters or take the long Penang Bridge).
We had another bus ride from George Town to Teluk Bahang; it’s Rapid Bus 101 that took us there for almost an hour. Now you can do the math computing for our travel time! It was almost 9AM when we got off the bus and immediately bought some chilled bottled water at the convenient store within a gas station. Oh, and by the way, we went there with fellow colleagues, Dr. Y and Dr. C.who are also photo-enthusiasts.
Dr. Y : “One kilometer na lang daw iyong dam, lakarin na lang natin! Kaya ba nyan (referring to my son)?“ (It’s still 1 km to the dam, let’s just walk; is it OK for Gabby?)
Me : “Sure!”
And my simple honest nod to his question took us for that unexpected morning hike.
After passing by Penang Butterfly Farm which we haven’t been to, we had that unforgettable almost 45-minute-uphill-walk to the dam. (You might think we could have taken a taxi cabs but ‘teksi’ here in Penang require to be contacted by SMS or phone call if you’re not riding it from their stations; or we could have hopped onto another bus but it would take another hour for us to wait).
We walked though this long and winding road…. Tina and I are just proud of Gabby; he took his steps through it with less complaints.
It was a good relief when we finally saw the dam…
The 2-day-competition held June 11-12, 2011 had entries from Guam, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, UAE, China, Malaysian states like Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Penang of course but Tina and I had our widest smiles when we heard the name of our country, the Philippines who, at the time of our arrival at the site was already rowing at the preliminaries.
Guess who competed for The Philippines…
Me to Tina : “Tanggal pagod nang marining ko ang “in lane….The Philippines!” (My fatigue was nothing after I heard, “”in lane….The Philippines!”)
Unlike in other foreign cities, there is rarity of Filipinos in Penang so understandably, it’s nice to see and meet Filipinos, more so if they’re here to represent our country.
After the DLSU-Philippines finished 3rd at their first row before the official Opening Ceremonies…
we caught them having their much needed-stretching…
then had their cheer for victory…
Meet some of the foreign and local Dragon Boat rowers…
Nice to see varied colors of uniforms!
The 32nd PIDBF had Standard Boat and Small Boat Races of 250meters and 500meters, with Open, Women and Mixed categories.
But wait, our beloved Philippine flag was displayed upside-down, gera ito! (means war!) Had it not for our colleague, Dr. Y who told the people there to fix our banner, it would have been in the air for two days wrongly.
As a beginner in violin, I was so impressed at these Chinese youngsters who played at the Opening Ceremony that was done at 10AM, their band played upbeat pop songs fit for the competition.
At around few minutes past 10, we decided to leave the event while our colleagues, Dr. Y. and Dr. C stayed until 5PM. According to them, DLSU-Philippines Dragon Boat Team placed 1st in one of the races that day, congratulations!
It was fun watching people…
Luckily, as we walked down the road, there was an empty taxi cab that passed by, so it saved our legs and feet in going back to the bus stop.
Although admittedly, we were fatigued from the event, we never regret our decision of attending it. As Tina and I witnessed how Gabby was strong-willed to finish the hike with us (as if he had other options!) and for being exposed to friendly competitive sports, I was reminded of the fact that if you really want something (like success in any task, or a glorious win),
there are a ton of ways to do it, but otherwise, you’ll just offer reasons to make up for not trying.
PS : While on the Rapid Bus 101 going to Gurney Mall from Teluk Bahang, we figured out it’s a perfect time to freshen up and try another wonderful lunch buffet! *burp* –>here’s our dining experience at G Cafe in G Hotel, Penang
Another chapter in our family life will unfold today.
My life in Penang will be happier for this late afternoon, my wife, Tina and our kid, Gabby will arrive from Manila via Kuala Lumpur. They’ll be staying here with me on dependent visa until (my work visa expires) God wants us to be here.
I certainly know how difficult it is for my wife to leave Manila for she will be missing two valuables in her life -
-her Ate who’s a doctor and a medical educator too (happens to be my classmate-friend back in Med school) and is the only immediate family she got in Pinas; the rest of my in-laws are based in the US and
-her job as a clinical instructor and a skills laboratory lecturer for Nursing college students in which Tina have been passionate about for some years (I think she didn’t resigned but only filed an indefinite leave of absence).
My wife shall begin to work here in Penang as an Operating Room Nurse once her license from MNC is issued. While waiting, she’ll continue to be the best personal and private teacher to Gabby as we prepare him for schooling here (read : we need to save first for Gabby’s private foreign school because its cost is so steep although the cost of living isn’t).
I know that with my family’s presence, I’ll be more inspired to wake up every 5 o’clock in the morning to hit the roads to work.
Another reason of my excitement is the fact that someone close to my family will pay a visit next week.
I already filed a replacement leave in our HR office because by mid next week, one of my best buddies of 18 years and counting, Rob of Sensory Replays will have his lone backbacking trip for a week in Malaysia. He’ll start his leisure tour in Kota Kinabalu on Monday, then we’ll fetch him at the airport on Wednesday and will serve as his tour guide here in Penang until the next day before he leaves for Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Rob is one of Gabby’s dutiful godparents so we expect pasalubong from him of course. haha!
It’s a whole new world for my family; a new life to begin. I am certain that there are reasons why the good Lord made all this possible. We cannot thank Him enough.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’ll have to prepare to go to the island, kill few hours in the mall before fetching my family at the airport. yeehaa!
Five months have been my longest physical absence from my family. Apparently, I missed Gabby a lot since I left him and her mom for work here in Penang last 29th July. So when the two of them arrived here last Saturday, every second has been truly momentous.
I was so excited to see him again, so thrilled to check how he has grown with only her mom on his side. I remember seeing him first on video-call via skype with only one front tooth then but now, he has 2 already. He remains to be my boy wonder. I should give all the credits and praises to her lovely mom, Tina. *thanks, honey!*
On their 3rd day here in Penang, I brought Gabby to work because Tina has to attend to her appointment in a medical institution here.
It’s very flattering to hear comments from my fellows here that Gabby’s good looking and seems to be a nice boy. *ehem, blame it on genetics!*
And since the medical university-college where I am working (with 23 other brilliant Filipino MD-lecturers) has yet to put up a Day Care Center soon for all employees’ children as part of our benefits, I took Gabby first at our faculty room. He lorded my work station and played with another kid, the son of my colleague.
Look how kulit they were so early on a Monday morning at my work desk…
I had to relocate to a vacant table of a colleague who’s currently in Manila just for my place to accomodate these 2 kids.
My laptop, daily morning papers and whatnot needed to be transfered too.
I have to take extra care of him everytime we ride Rapid Penang bus.
I have to prepare his food, snacks and drinks.
I have to accompany him to the toilet whenever needed.
I had to convinced him to doze off in the afternoon even on a couch beside our photocopying machine.
And because Tina was requested to report back to her appointment on Thursday, I’ll take Gabby again with me to work on that day.
I’m not complaining.
I so missed this thing called fatherhood.
You know that Friday used to be my favorite day of the week for obvious reason until I felt a bit depressed and fatigued this late afternoon.
Oh yeah, it’s all about work but I am not complaining.
Nonetheless, I’m still thankful.
–end of story.
These are the photos that I took this morning when we went to Georgetown, Penang.
It simply blew me away, son.
Funny, that a simple street scene can make someone’s day happy.
Enjoy your weekend, everyone!
Penang Island, see you tomorrow…
Ms. Mexico may have won the title for this year and our very own Ms. Philippines, Maria Venus Raj’s 4th runner up feat and her “major, major” mistake problem has become a trending topic on most social networking sites, nonetheless, she’s still a pinay to be proud of, but for me, my Miss Universe forever is of course my one and only lovely wife, TINA!
i love and miss you ‘ney+Gabby!
See you+Gabby here in Penang in late October.
*photo by Ariel Javelosa
What’s your take on our bet, Venus?
Kahit pala simpleng pan de coco mula sa paniderya sa Pinas ay nakaka-miss kung OFW ka na.
It has been exactly 22 days since my fellow Pinoy doctor-educators and I left our families, our country and our lives in Manila for work in a medical university in Penang, Malaysia.
Despite the frequent use of Skype, SMS, e-mails and phone calls, we’ve been seriously missing our loved ones and a whole lot of things back home. We’ve started experiencing the discomfort of being away from places we’re so familiar with, to our daily routine and even simple things like enjoying our common meals.
Being away from our usual lives and getting out of our comfort zones make us more sensitive and sentimental. I just want to perceive all these as challenges in exchange of a better life for my wife, our son and myself.
Inspite of a more lucrative career and a promising professional and personal growth, nothing can ever replace the warmth of smiles, kisses and embraces from people who matter to us the most.
Note to self : Welcome to buhay OFW, docgelo! Isipin mo na lang, mas malungkot kung hindi ka nabigyan ng ganitong pagkakataon at higit na mahirap ang mawalan ng pera para sa pamilya. Cheer up, you’ve got so many friends & relatives backing you up and a lot of blessings pouring from Lord.
Enjoy your weekend, everyone!
Dear Tina and Gabby,
I thank God that I and my other colleagues arrived safely at Kuala Lumpur Airport an hour past midnight yesterday. From the 3 and a half hour trip, we were ushered to an exclusive deluxe bus provided by the company that took us to 2 bus stops from the airport to our new place in Penang.
This is my first authentic NASI LEMAK experience…
Most of us had this entire plate of their so-called national dish at RM 5 (PhP 65 to 70 or perhaps there are even cheaper Nasi Lemak in other areas); in an instance, it reminded me of our very own Binalot, less the salted egg and tomatoes. I didn’t forget to have something to wash down the spice by getting myself a glass of calamansi-iced tea for RM 1.50 (PhP 20).
“Traditionally, this comes as a platter of food wrapped in banana leaf, with cucumber slices, small dried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and hot spicy sauce (sambal) at its core.” Sourced via Wiki
‘ney, although unexpectedly, I liked it, I don’t think you’ll love it the first bite; it’s hot that you might need a liter of fluids to washed it down. The glass of iced tea I had felt short to the requirement. The chicken looked and tasted curried; was ok but not that tender as I wanted. I liked the slice of cucumber, dilis and peanut combination. It’s just too early to tell if my digestive would take it easily as I, God forbid, might have this as breakfast on a daily basis. *kidding*
After that 2AM chow, we headed to another bus stop for our much needed bladder-break then we reached our work place’s office at around 7AM and was delighted to a FREE-Malaysian breakfast and some delicacies.
The turon-looking thing at the middle of the platter was actually like Okoy for it has bean sprouts filling but wrapped and coated with sugar and sesame seads. I just failed to get the names of these sweet treats, can anyone identify? I like the green and white thing; tasted like suman, biko and maja blanco combined! yum!
At around 10AM we’re brought to our villas.
This will be our temporary homes provided by our employer until we get our permanent abodes (parang ang hirap i-type yung salitang “permanent”) soon.
The villa is right across the clubhouse with wonderful swimming pool.
Look, Gabby, there’s a kiddie pool and a playground too!
A peek at my temporary own room… It’s not that grand, but complete with essentials. Thank God, my first sleep was restful.
After we checked in our villas, we changed into our business attires and attended to the first meeting with the CEO of the company. He warmly welcomed us and brief exchange of smiles were done.
Then our last stop for the day was shopping for our own survival kits. We bought bottles of distilled water, some crackers, hangers for suits etc.
First dinner in Penang was only at a food court of the same department store we went to.
I avoided being adventurous at my plate last night, probably because I was literally tired the whole day and would like to keep everything safe. Among the many must-try dishes from Malaysia, I only had SWEET and SOUR CHICKEN which I purchased for RM 5.90 (Php 80).
I know we have more days (and years!) to savor, taste and experience Malaysia.
Today, we’re off to Penang Island before lunch time.
Stay safe there, ‘ney and Gabby. I’ll try my best to check out the place and everything here first; and in God’s will, I may bring you here soon. I love you and incredibly miss you.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11.
From this post, I’ll be blogging until God knows when far from our home as I begin a new challenging chapter in my life.
I have been to a few places abroad; Tokyo, California and Las Vegas, Bangkok, Bendar Seri Begawan, Auckland, New Zealand and Hong Kong but this is the very first time that I am in a foreign shore not as a vacationist but as a father and a husband who seeks better life for his family.
I have made the decision to temporarily leave my wife and our preschooler son, to RESTART AND REBUILD OUR FUTURE as a FAMILY. It is however with high hopes that in several weeks time, they can also follow and stay with me in my new work place abroad. It’s a mutual decision between Tina and I as we both take part and contribute in EACH OTHER GROWTHS.
The thought isn’t new to me. In fact, my wife and I long to work abroad NOT because we don’t have hopes in our own country but personally, I believe we can CHALLENGE more our POTENTIALS to SUCCEED and further IMPROVE OURSELVES if we continue to pursue our dreams and gradually bring them to reality.
I am a child of OFWs; figuratively, “KATAS ng SAUDI.” My dad was a former Supermarket Manager all over KSA, Kuwait and UAE for more than 17 years. And just 2 years ago, my mom has extended her being an Accountant and Administrative Manager to the Middle East too. But neither of them influenced me nor forced me to become one as well. In fact, they constantly INSPIRE me with their perseverance, dedication, hard work, and above all, their LOVE FOR FAMILY.
I do have great respect to those Filipinos who continuously sacrifice their physical absence to most important occasions in their family in exchange of a more lucrative career. I admire those Filipinos who tirelessly complete and often times, renew and extend their contracts with their employers abroad with indirect efforts to motivate others to do the same.
I wish that I can also do well in the job that has been MY PASSION and I’ll continuously pray hard for me to deliver the work effectively, beyond expectations.
To my dearest wife, Tina and our preschool son, Gabby, apparently your unconditional love and support drive me to be on my toes and be willed enough to do this for our family’s future. With our constant communication and prayers, I know everything will yield positive things and bountiful blessings.
See you on Skype nightly and do keep your phone lines open to melt my homesickness away.
I am doing this for the Glory of God and for the sake of MY FAMILY, benefiting our country eventually.
Come follow me as this blog takes you to MALAYSIA and more.
This is it.
Let’s do this.
Blessings can be so overwhelming but I am not complaining. I cannot thank the Lord enough for people around us who continue to make our days special. From closest friends and family who tirelessly inspire and support us, to other people who give us simple reasons to smile.
Few days ago, I received an invitation from one of the bloggers I follow, Mr. Arpee Lazaro of Pinoy Life At Large to be part of BLOG NA PINOY (my blog under Lifestyle), a website-directory for Filipino Bloggers. It was indeed flattering. The photo shoot for my blog was done, this morning July 24, 2010 in Makati City.
Special thanks to ace photographer, Michael Sy Yu and fabulous make up artist, Bambi de la Cruz and of course to Sir Arpee.
*Proud to be a part of BLOG NA PINOY
OK, so I’ve been trying to stretch my days with my family and friends after I found out 2 weeks ago that I’ll be flying to Penang, Malaysia on the 29th of this month, together with more or less 30 other great Pinoy doctors, to teach in a pre-med and medical college there.
Am I excited? Extremely. Although, I already experienced being away from Tina+Gabby when I left for Tokyo for 14 days last March, I’m still having mixed emotions about leaving my family temporarily and meeting new challenges ahead in another country that I’ve never been to. I wish my wife and son can follow me there the soonest possible time; hopefully in a month or two. I also wish to deliver my job beyond expectations or at least, more than effective than I do here.
Got my on-line ticket reservation paid just this morning and it began to sink in that in 9 days, it will be a start of a new adventure.
How do you relax when everything seems a rush?
I pray, talk to my family and closest friends, eat and eat a lot and more importantly, spend time with myself.
Last 15 July 2010, I headed to a hotel-restaurant that I’ve been frequenting lately because of their generous invitation. What else but Oakroom Bar and Restaurant at the 6th level of Oakwood Premier, Joy~Nostalg Center in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
I put to use the Complimentary Breakfast Buffet voucher they gave me on my last wine and food pairing event that I’ve attended with some other press and bloggers.
On ordinary days, I try not to skip breakfast. I’m such a morning person and I like starting my day with a cup of coffee prepared by Tina and anything that suffices my empty stomach.
Tina and Gabby didn’t join me for this Power Breakfast for they both got work and school on that day.
Tina would’ve love Oakroom’s cereal and milk bar, and I know Gabby would’ve like the DIY congee.
Of course it could have been more fun if I’d share these plates with them.
Nonetheless, it gave me brief time to be with myself and think things over a cup of coffee and plates of indulgence.
plate 1: scrambled eggs, bacon, hungarian sausage, sweet and sour fish fillet and a high-fiber bread with apricot spread.
plate 2 : curried veggies, penne pasta, pan cakes with butter and blue berries, orange juice.
plate 3 : some bread sticks and bite-sized pastries, fruit choices : pineapples, apricots, melon, peaches, pomelo, guava juice (which I just tried for the first time) and strawberry yogurt (wish it was fro-yo, LOL!)
I know I’ll miss champorado’t tuyo, danggit, itlog na pula+kamatis, lugaw, tocino, longganisa and of course,
pan de sal.
What’s your favorite breakfast meal?
Bangkok, Hong Kong, Bandar Seri Begawan and lately, Tokyo.
These are the few Asian cities that I have set my foot from Manila to date. And there is more of Asia to explore and enjoy.
For one, I wish to bring my family to SINGAPORE to experience what most tourists have been raving about. I’ve heard and read so much about that enticing city and who would resist to be lured with its charm and beauty?
Incidentally, I was fortunate to be invited as one of the very few selected bloggers who sat with people who best represent Singapore. They’re Ms. Lynelle Seow, Area Director for Philippines and Brunei of Singapore Tourism Board and Mr. Lee Puay York, Head for Southeast Asia of Contact Singapore (photos of speakers below).
The fascinating talk was held at the Abueva Room of Heritage Hotel in Pasay City last Friday, 16 July, 2010.
“Contact Singapore is an agency of the Singapore government that aims to boost the country’s economy by attracting people from around the world to live, work and play in this country. It is the one-stop center for those who wish to pursue a fulfilling life, career and adventure in Singapore.
YourSingapore.com is Singapore’s destination brand that showcases Singapore’s uniqueness and offers travelers a personalized travel experience.
The Singapore Tourism Board is an economic development agency for one of Singapore’s key service sectors – tourism. The mission of the Board is to develop and champion tourism, so as to build the sector into a key driver of economic growth for Singapore”
As you may know, Singapore is rich in culture, heritage and opportunities. The small but global city and as a country itself takes pride in offering a progressive and comfortable lifestyle for everyone who wants to WORK, LIVE and PLAY IN.
Singapore’s constant innovation on almost everything opens door for professionals from other countries like ours, who may easily find a work venue in its more than 7,000 multinational companies that operate on highly in-demand and lucrative careers in technology, manufacturing, research, electronics, chemicals, biomedical sciences, infocomms, digital media, engineering, transportation and financial services.
With the affordable airfares that most carriers offer, Asia has become a smaller community. This makes Singapore as a tourist destination more accessible to people who want to visit and enjoy its famous and newest attractions and recreations.
Hopefully soon, I get to bring my wife and our preschooler son to Sentosa, Universal Studios and other exciting sites to experience a slice of what Singapore has been known for.
Of course, Singapore’s multicultural society is so apparent not only on its people and places but moreso on its food.
And during the Bloggers’ Event that I have attended, Heritage Hotel which is a Singaporean Hotel in Manila, prepared wonderful dishes that delighted our senses.
Take a peek at what we savored from the event….
SINGAPORE SLAW. This was so far, the most beautiful salad I’ve ever had. The fusion of textures and tastes was gorgeously plated and was perfectly paired with its dressing.
NYONYA MEATBALL SOUP (Bawan Kepeting).
SINGAPORE LAKSA and MEE GORENG. Heritage Hotel’s Laksa was one of the few I’ve tasted in the Metro that stimulated my palate well; Mee Goreng also doesn’t disappoint. Wonderful pair!
HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE. The most beautiful custom-made plate I’ve ever seen. Delicious serving!
SAGO GULA MELAKA with VANILLA ICE CREAM. Our sweet ending.
These and more are featured in the 2010 Singapore Food Festival that runs from 16 July to 25, 2010.
“At the SFF, visitors from the Philippines can expect to taste flavors they already love about Singapore such as Hainanese Chicken Rice and get a chance to fall in love with new ones, all in one festival. With so much feasting and fun in store, my advice is to leave the diet plan at home and indulge those cravings in Singapore” said Lynelle Seow, Area Director-Philippines, Singapore Tourism Board.
“Through SFF, Singapore enhances its identity as a true melting pot of cultures and as a destination that has something to offer many different nationalities. Fringe activities will also serve up ethnic Malay and Indian dishes, allowing Filipinos to enjoy the true ‘taste’ of Singapore,” added Seow.”
For readers who have experienced Singapore, what’s your favorite food you’ve tasted there and what are your most memorable moments in the City of Merlion?
For more details on the upcoming events in Singapore, visit my other blog, DOCGELO’S EYES
My family and I aspire for a better life; who doesn’t ?
But before you think of anything, we’re NOT going to Canada yet, at least for now.
Two weeks ago, Tina submitted our CVs to a Canadian Consultancy firm that emailed me few days after. We were told that I qualified for the present minimum point-system immigration requirement for Canada. However, their office is located too far from our place so I canceled our reservation to attend their free orientation.
Then another Canadian Consultancy and Recruitment agency texted Tina and invited us to attend to a similar activity. The venue was in Ortigas Center, which is more accessible for us. The 3-hour-free orientation was held at Development Academy of the Philippines on an early Saturday morning.
As expected, it was well-attended by various professionals. Some people like us came with their kids and spouses. The speaker and facilitators were compelling. The entire seminar was never boring and we felt the honesty and legality of the talk.
At the end of the orientation, each of the attendees sat in a one-on-one assessment to verify whether one qualifies to apply for an immigrant visa to Canada. And like what I have read from the email of another agency, I’m eligible despite I haven’t taken an English proficiency exam yet (IELTS/International English Language Testing System).
It was Tina who passed IELTS twice with both band scores of 7.0 (perfect score 9.0); first when she took it while we’re on a 7-week-break in Auckland, New Zealand then 2 years after it expired (IELTS has validity of 2 years), she took it again, here in EDSA Shangri la conducted by British Council Philippines.
She took IELTS test as a part of the requirement that led her to enlist herself under California-Board of Registered Nursing (yes, my wife is already registered nurse in Ca-BON) and also gained her a US Visa Screen Certificate issued by CGFNS (Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools) which is valid until 2014 (it has 5-year validity). So needless to say, my wife only lacks a petition for a working visa from an American employer that will enable her to claim her license from Ca-BON. *opportunity, where are you?*
Going back to Canadian dream, the seminar we attended enlightened us to these facts on how an applicant qualifies for an immigrant visa as of present :
Since my wife and I are both in the health and education sectors, our professions and jobs qualify under the present Canadian list of 38 high demand occupations. But what limits us from furthering the lodgement of our application is the required PROOF OF FUNDS (or what’s common to many as “show money”).
PROOF OF FUNDS – ability to practically support him/herself and accompanying members of family on basic needs; amount of money to support your family is determined by size of your family.
Meaning the more children/dependents you have, the more moolahs you need to have in the bank.
PLUS consultancy fee of more or less PhP 90K, medical exam fee of PhP 4,000 per applicant, and a whopping CAD $ 2,1000 for the total application fee.
Do you have interest in migrating to Canada?
Do you have that fortune to apply for Canadian Immigrant Visa? (fees exclusive of job offers)
For readers who have been to Canada and who are living and/working in Canada, is it really that practical to splurge and invest on that huge amount of money in exchange of a better family life?
Alas, we continue to seek possibilities here and in other foreign countries.
So help us, God.
During most of our grocery shopping, Gabby would have his own smaller cart to push and usually gets his own stuffs from shelves once Tina and I give our mutual nods.
One of his favorite grocery items is :
Now, imagine savoring Yakult as a creamy frozen ice cream.
Yakult + ice ceram = two of every child and kid at heart’s favorites.
Wonderful, isn’t it?
Sebastian\’s Premium Ice Cream has the edge over other cold delights; it has offered FRO-YA (Frozen Yakult) ! That cute little boy who happens to be my son, had enjoyed that tangy flavor of our old-time favorite drink on ice cream when we went to TriNoma mall in Quezon City this afternoon. He had it as dessert after our hearty dinner with my balikbayang-in-law.
Fro-Ya on the left for Gabby, and Sebastian’s Mango Sansrival on the right for me. Yum!
Yakult cannot be better than this!
An option to countless Fro-Yo (frozen yogurts) available in town.
Do you drink Yakult ? Have you tried Fro-ya?
Do you remember being afraid of thunder and/or lightning during your childhood?
Perhaps, I fear other forces of nature more.
Apparently, the story is different with our 5-year-9-month old son, Gabby. I found him one late afternoon sleeping soundly on the couch with hands covering his ears.
When he woke up, I showed him the photo above and asked him if he’s afraid of thunderstorm.
He said he’s not; he just didn’t want to hear its roar while he sleeps.
Oo nga naman, hate is totally different from fear.
My wife and I believe it’s parents’ privilege to grow up with their kid/s;
every day with a child is a reflection;
every minute is a new learning experience;
every second is a blessing!
Would you care to share your pet peeves and fears?
When we went to SM Megamall last Sunday to accompany my balikbayang-in-laws for their very first glimpse of the Metro after their 5 years of living in California, Tina, Gabby and I spotted one kiosk that sells crustaceans as pets. We’re so amused.
These are hermit crabs with shells that are hand-painted with colorful cartoon characters. We found them too cute for words!
Imagine how Gabby giggled over Spongebob and Mr. Krabs-painted shelled pets. They’re a visual delight!
Located at the basement of SM Megamall building A, the store is called Lucky Hermits. Wonder how lucky can you get once you own one.
I didn’t ask for the bigger ones but those in photos above are priced at PhP 300 per set that includes one hermit crab, a small plastic container and its food for limited duration, I guess.
Did we buy Gabby a clawed creature for him to own as pet?
Although it’s a given fact that it’s very rewarding to have pet/s, it’s also too demanding to own one and we felt that our almost 6-year-old son isn’t ready yet to care for such living thing.
I, personally cannot imagine if he’ll become so attached to it then one day, it’ll bid him goodbye due to natural cause. *paranoid*
We want Gabby to learn how to care for himself first before he shares his love to others (for now, his love is exclusively ours *greedy smile*.) Some weeks ago, he began to take showers on his own.
We don’t even own a dog yet; but if time comes that we’re ready to care for one, the three of us would like to have a pug one day. We like it so adorably wrinkled. We also want to set up a salt water aquarium once we’re ready to pay incredibly high electric bills.
What about you? What’s your pet? Would you like to have a hermit crab as house pet?
If you do, you might want to read this site regarding basic care of hermit crabs (oh yes, an association of crab owners even exists, would you believe? ) –>hermit crabs.com
For most married couples, dealing with difficult in-laws is always an issue. Thank God that I don’t have to worry about that thought because I am blessed (I believe so does Tina) with nice and warm “second family.”
Tina’s mom and her brother came home from San Leandro, California last Saturday for a month-long vacation here. They have to attend to some social gatherings and facilitate process of some insurance documents.
We’re thankful that despite the haziness and almost zero visibility in NAIA terminal 1 on the day of their arrival, their flight wasn’t diverted to other local airports unlike the others.
My mother-in-law who has been living and working in California for more than 5 years now, is usually mistaken by most people in the U.S. not as a Filipino or any other Asian woman, but as Spanish and/or Latin-American because of her natural and ageless physical and inner beauty. Tina, I and her siblings would agree that their mom is prettier than them! What made her even more simply attractive is her pleasant disposition in life; that includes being my biyanan. She’s really cool, inside-out.
Needless to say, she’s easy to get along with. And so am I. That is why when she requested her daughters (my wife included) her preferred food for their arrival dinner, we didn’t think twice to obliged. After all, what she wished to savor as they reached home were those all-time-favorite Pinoy foods that I’m guessing she dearly missed.
clockwise from top left : bagoong, hilaw na mangga, adobong pusit, saging pang-himagas, pork sinigang, pritong tilapia fillet.
That Adobong Pusit and Pork Sinigang were only substitutes to my mom-in-law’s original request : Alupihang Dagat or Mantis Shrimp that wasn’t available when we went to Nepa Q-Mart to buy.
Have you tasted Alupihang Dagat already? I haven’t.
And did they like the dinner we prepare? Of course!
For married people who read this, how are you with your in-laws? Are you the same with one of my long-time friends who call hers as “out-laws!” ? lol!
I don’t know if you’re like me who barely know CHOWDER.
It’s NOT that thick and creamy soup with yummy seafoods that’s best served on a bread bowl but this :
I grew up on Popeye, Smurfs and Thundercats and am currently lost with my son’s numerous favorite cartoons; one of them is Chowder from Cartoon Network.
Imagine how Gabby became so excited when last Friday afternoon, we chanced upon watching its free mascot show in TriNoma before we hit the grocery shelves in Landmark.
Tina and I were amazed how Gabby knew almost all the antics of the show. I guess what draws him to Chowder other than its being colorful is its theme of cooking. The show we saw involved Chowder and friends to cook a dish called Froggy Apple Crumple Thumpkin; whatever that means! So much for half an hour of kiddie fun.
Then undecided of where and what to eat, we went to TriNoma’s foodcourt and had different choices.
My wife enjoyed an affordable but satisfying meal from Le Ching Tea House : Chicken Mushroom Rice Toppings and HK style Asado Siopao + ‘the essential,’ chili sauce. You might think that my wife eats like a carpenter but she shared her food with Gabby and me. Yum!
Then my kid and I tried one of Tina’s favorites, Mongolian barbecue!
Our bundle of joy who dreams of becoming of a chef someday really enjoyed getting all the ingredients from the spread as I guide him what to put on our bowl.
Rice, vermicelli, julienned carrots, Chinese cabbage, onions, garlic, julienned turnips, red and green bell peppers, leeks, cubes of tofu and a personal choice of all-squid meat (there are also strips of chicken, pork, beef, squid balls to choose from) plus its sauce made our Mongolian barbecue bowl; all in for PhP 160.
There are directions on the spread on how to seasoned the bowl. I wanted it SWEET and SPICY :
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 scoops Teriyaki sauce
- 1 scoop Mongolian sauce
- 1 scoop Szechuan sauce
- 1 scoop Lemon water
- 1/2 scoop Garlic water
- 1/2 scoop Sesame oil
- 1/4 scoop Soy sauce
- -recipe from Mongolian Rice Bowl, Foodcourt, TriNoma, Quezon City.
Do you like Mongolian barbecue?
What’s your favorite cartoon/s during your childhood?
How’s your weekend?
Enjoy the new week, everyone!
Whenever July ushers in, there’s only one simple celebration in our family that’s always anticipated; my mom’s birthday on the 15th. But sadly, she’s not with us again this year.
My dear mom will celebrate her 58th birthday for the second time away from us. She’s in the Middle East, still maximizing her expertise in the field of management and accountancy that she has gained for more than 35 years and counting.
I miss her terribly. Her pieces of advice on anything about life, particularly on doing what’s always right and prioritizing family above self, constantly serve as a guide not only to my family life but on my entire being.
She, other than my wife and son, gives me so much strength and inspiration to continue to struggle throughout life and hold on to hopes and keep our faith in God.
On one of her e-mails to us a few weeks back, she simply wondered if by any chance, she’ll receive flowers again on her birthday this year. FYI, She usually gets a bouquet either from her sons (ehem, I’m the eldest and religiously try to give her one), from my dad who, one time gave her a simple 3-piece-roses bought from a street vendor or from her boss or gifts from friends and colleagues who value and love her the most.
She loves flowers from the tiniest bloom to even grass with colors. She likes her photos to be taken at almost any floral background she sees.
And because she’s abroad, I thought that honoring her on my blog and sending this post’s URL to her on her special day will somehow make up for our lost time.
Mamy, since it’s useless to go to Dangwa in Manila to buy you a bunch for your birthday because you’re not here and you’re like a million miles away except when we’re on Skype; also, you know that sending you a bouquet via courier will cost me a fortune and could not afford at the moment, here are photos of gorgeous arrangements I captured in a flower shop when I visited Shibuya, Tokyo few months ago.
It’s you whom I first thought when I saw these flowers because as you know, Tina prefers food more than twigs and petals, hehehe.
I know you’ll like them even just on pictures; anyway, ‘it’s the thought that counts,’ right?
Mamy, I’d also like to thank you for all the love and support that you’re giving me and my family unconditionally.
I don’t think there’s a perfect woman to occupy the position of being a mom to all of us but you.
Always take care of yourself; take your medicines and multivitamins regularly and please do eat on time. You know you won’t be productive and cannot think best if the tummy is empty. Drink liters of water to avoid dehydration in your place where 50 ‘C temperature is felt on a daily basis.
Whenever you feel home-sick, just close your eyes for a while, breathe and simply think of your 3 apos (read : 2 from my younger brother who’s a private pilot and of course, Gabby from Tina and I) and your 4 sons and Daddy of course, you know that we’re only a Skype and an e-mail or a text message away.
I’m so sorry for all our shortcomings.
We love you so much, Mamy Tessie! Advance Happy birthday po. We miss you so much.
It felt like Chinese New Year in June when my 5-year-old son, Gabby and I attended the festive grand launch of KING CHEF yesterday, June 29, 2010 at 3PM.
Dragon and lion dances, firecrackers and Chinese cultural dancers welcomed the opening of this newest Chinese restaurant in Banawe Street, Quezon City.
Dimsums were served during the cocktail reception prior to the official opening of the event. If you must know, my son fondly calls chicken feet as ‘chicken run’ as he’s always reminded of the cartoon movie with the same title every time he sees that Chinese dish. Admittedly, King Chef’s version is tasteful, but it’s not really my favorite steamed dish.
The brief downpour wasn’t a bother for the occasion and in fact was considered as a wonderful blessing. The ceremonial cutting of ribbon was led by the owners, Mr. Michael Chan-Ang and Mrs. Marites Apiado-Ang (couple in blue & red at the far left).
King Chef beams with elegant yet non-intimidating interiors with comfy seats fit not only for royalty but more so for friends and families.
The spacious facade and the beautiful interiors add up to the entire dining experience at King Chef.
A special buffet spread was served along with traditional Chinese dances for the invited guests.
Shameless display of my gluttonous plate which I shared with my foodie son, Gabby…
Now if that wasn’t enough for you to crave for King Chef’s authentic Chinese dishes, I suggest you try it yourself whenever possible and let me know of what you think of their reasonably priced delicious foods on their menu.
A venue for celebration and success, King Chef has exclusive function rooms and also accepts reservations for business meetings, corporate functions, wedding banquets, parties, and anniversaries. Also featured is the Tea Room where special private and exclusive celebrations can be held.
A daily Hong Kong style Dimsum Promo is also available 2 times daily from 2:30PM to 5:00PM and 9:00PM to 12MN. King Chef also caters and is getting known for their Dimsum Bar.
King Chef is located at 989 Banawe Street, Quezon City (in front of Manresa Retreat House; just beside Starbucks in Banawe Street towards Del Monte Street, QC) with contact number (63-2) 410-4919 and (63-2) 216-0136.
*My special thanks to Ms. Abigail Ang Delos-Santos for the invite to cover this event.
Updates: King Chef’s menu (prices subject to change without prior notice)
*click 2x to enlarge!
26 June 2010, Saturday — Despite the fact that I only had 3 hours of restless sleep and had to go with a family appointment that I’ll blog sometime next week, so early at 9AM on a ‘bed-weather‘ Saturday morning, we’re grateful that our weekend still ended on a happy note.
Tina and I were glad to finally give in to Gabby’s request to watch Toy Story 3 on the big screen. We didn’t want to deprive our preschooler son of a simple pleasure but the reason for the delay of watching it was because we initially thought that we’ll just enjoy it on its dibidi dibidi DVD copy days months from now which of course will be so much cost-saving.
After our 9AM appointment in Ortigas, we could not say No anymore to Gabby who’s doing so-far-so-good in his first week in school; we all went to Shangri La Plaza to eat lunch and to see the movie.
Due to lack of sleep, I was half-awake at few minutes of the beginning of the film. But as the story of those junky playthings soon progressed, I found myself in a roller coaster of emotions –laughing at most scenes and believe it or not, I was almost moved to tears that doesn’t happen frequently while watching a kiddie film.
The story happened when Andy who’s now 17 years old, starts packing his things to leave home for college.
His mom asked him to segregate his things in boxes –1 box with label for college, and another to be left in their attic.
Andy’s toys, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Bullseye, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, the 3 alien squeak toys from Pizza Planet, Slinky Dog, Rex and Hamm the Piggy Bank all wished that Andy will play with them for the last time before they get stored in the attic. Woody also hoped for a day to be played again and even for Andy to hand them down to his future kids.
And the rest of the amazing story is for you to see; it’s really worth watching!
I never expected that adult themes like abandonment, neglect, commitment to friends, loyalty to love ones, moving on with life and letting go of the past will be presented in an animated film primarily intended for children and the young at heart.
There was one particular scene that I think was most unique to the animated stories I’ve seen. It was when all the toys held hands before they were nearly incarcerated; it showed loyalty and friendship and yes, even the serious issue of facing death with dignity.
And did our son like the movie ?
While I was holding his hand when we’re descending the stairs of the cinema, he told me and his mom, “It’s the best movie!”
Have you seen Toy Story 3 ?
What’s your take on this 3rd movie installment of those lovable toys?
*First 4 photos were sourced via FANPOP.COM
Just after he saw a rainbow painted on gray skies the other afternoon, he asked me,
“Daddy, is that a rainbow?”
I said, “Yes, why?”
Then he replied back, “First time kong makakita ng rainbow eh, bakit po sa cartoons dark ang colors nila?”
I’m amazed how kids of his age are so intuitive and easily fascinated with simple things.
Don’t you wish to be forever child-like, to have lots of time to breathe, be worry-free, and do nothing but enjoy simple pleasures in life?
“I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.” ~Albert Einstein
20 June 2010 –I left the house 20 minutes before 6 in the morning when my wife and kid were still curling up in bed. I can’t blame them; everyone deserves longer hours of sleep on a weekend. But I had to leave even with an empty stomach because I gave my nod to a commitment to do clinics from 6AM to 10AM for a pharmaceutical company somewhere near our place. So even if it’s Father’s Day 2010, I didn’t pass on the chance to work even on a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning; after all, providing for family regardless of the value is one of the reasons for the occasion.
After that short but productive stint, I went to TriNoma mall to buy food for our lunch. I bought ingredients for pasta for Tina to cook. I also bought a cake that Gabby and I have been meaning to try.
Because my almost 6-year-old son is still too young to give me presents except for his priceless hugs and kisses, I took the effort of bringing home what we would enjoy together…
We like Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Gabby likes Oreo, while both Tina and I like Chocolate Extreme served upside-down! Ice cream never fails to delight us and having it as a cake is a huge plus! We’re all excited when I came home yesterday with the box of DQ Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream Cake! Sarap!
“Not your traditional cake. Made with thick and creamy DQ soft serve ice cream and layered with fudge, cookie crunch & chocolate and vanilla ice cream.”
Each slice was heavenly! Our sweet craving was absolutely satisfied.
I rememeber during my wonder years, my parents used to bring us 4 boys to a famous ice cream house along Aurora Blvd Extension in Quezon City to savor their cold treats and take home a box of ice cream cake. Sadly, this place that I’m sure, became a part of many Filipino childhood memories closed several years ago and we never had ice cream cakes since then.
Before dunking our forks to that wonderful dessert, Tina cooked pasta with two sauces to choose from- pesto and carbonara.
So while most families celebrated Daddy’s Day by dining out, we’re at the comforts of our own table, enjoying home-cooked meals and an ice cream cake that’s to-die-for!
To my own Daddy and fathers-in-law and to all dads out there, Mabuhay po, tayong mga tatay!
It’s always a great pleasure to be appreciated for all of our efforts.
How did you spend this year’s Father’s Day?
You’re my peace of mind in this crazy world.
You’re everything I’ve tried to find.
Your love is a pearl.
You’re my Mona Lisa.
You’re my rainbow skies.
And my only prayer is that you realize.
You’ll always be beautiful in my eyes.
He’s the kid who makes my life worth living…
I love you, Gabby! Your mom and I are here and will be here for you, come what may.
Some kids have unusual fear for mascots or anyone in costume or with mask, other children can’t even stand beside a clown. These illogical and strong fears fall under phobia specifically called :
Masklophobia – fear of mascots;
Prosopeiophobia – fear of masks;
Coulorophobia – fear of clowns.
Good thing our son, Gabby doesn’t have it.
Photos below were taken at Nickelodeon’s activity held in Bonifacio High Street two weeks ago and the last two pictures were taken in Eastwood City on the same day.
PHOBIA (from the Greek : φόβος,phóbos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is an irrational, intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, animals, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus. When the fear is beyond one’s control, and if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made.
Treatment options are not mutually exclusive. Often a therapist will suggest multiple treatments. Sourced via Wiki
Do you and/or your kids have phobia/s? I do. But not to the extent that I need Psychiatric help.
How do you deal with your own/your kids’ fear/s ?
Check here if you have one –>List of Phobia
As the occasional downpour and domestic budget keep us from going somewhere, our family bonding is mostly limited to pigging out home-cooked meals and playing computer applications.
In facebook, Tina, Gabby and I still enjoy plowing, harvesting and seeding crops by clicks on the mouse in Farmville (read: we don’t care if others think that it’s one of the 5o worst inventions of all time for as long as it serves an outlet for us to while away time and keeps me sane amidst a ton of problems).
We’re also hooked in playing this :
It’s addicting! LOL! We know it’s neither educational nor substantial but it keeps us happy as a family when we play it.
And as Gabby’s summer break is literally numbered because he’ll attend his last year in preschool beginning June 17, we allow him to delight himself in this fun-filled games before he enters Prep and be busy with assignments and other school stuffs again.
Do you play Plants vs Zombies?
Have a great and safe weekend, everyone!
God is great. He keeps us safe in His care all the time.
Admittedly, I was never exposed to household chores until I got married some 6 years ago. I grew up with house helpers and a driver in a middle-class family. I and my brothers are not brats but I remember we used to waking up every morning with almost everything prepared for us. My late maternal grandmother assisted my parents in raising us especially in cooking our daily meals.
Even when my wife and I began to live separately from my parents, we had a maid who only left us last October 2009 because of her pregnancy. Needless to say, I became dependent in people around me and knew little of domestic living.
Life is a learning process and indeed, every single day I learn a lesson or two.
Last Sunday, I phoned the LPG store to order and get a delivery. Yes, we don’t own electric stove or induction cooker and still use the common 2 burner stove fueled by LPG. Tina and I had used the tank for more than 2 months; we had it since April 1st.
When the 2 delivery boys came and installed the new tank, one of them told me that the stove is already defective. I told him it’s impossible because I even used it to cook dinner the night before. I asked Tina if she recognized the 2 delivery boys and became skeptical if they really know what they’re doing.
It turned out that I myself don’t know my fixtures when one of them found this :
This was the rubber hose connected to our stove and LPG tank; I was not aware that it’s severely worn out until it was checked by one of the LPG delivery boys. Everything went OK when they replaced the hose (PhP 120) and installed the new LPG tank (PhP 580).
Call me negligent and clueless; I’m posting this not to shout out that I became one, but in order for the readers to be extra careful at home particularly with appliances that in a blink can cause accidents.
If it wasn’t for the replacement of a new LPG tank, that rubber tube could have caused fire.
I’m sure that most, if not all Pinoy families and offices own at least one or more SHARP appliances. From the old and reliable calculators, radios, TVs, washing machines, fridge, electric fans to air conditioning units, this Japanese brand has been making our domestic and industrial lives a lot more comfortable for more than 28 years and counting.
Being the head of the family and a consumer, I’m excited what this trusted brand in electronic appliances has yet to offer. As we all know, Japanese are famous for their great innovations and creativity in almost everything. So when I received an invitation for a Press & Bloggers’ gathering for Sharp Philippines’ newest offerings, I didn’t pass on the opportunity.
Beyond Toxicity was invited to attend Sharp Philippines’ Beyond Expectations Press Lunch last Thursday, June 03, 2010 held at Rizal Ballroom 1 of Makati Shangri la.
The event started lightly with cocktails served with pastries that tasted like cheesy smoked salmon. Yum! Then Paolo Abrera, a local TV host and sports enthusiast emceed the program.
Let me share to you first what Sharp Philippines and Makati Shangri La had prepared for lunch…
There’s a choice of beverages from fruit juices to iced tea served on tables. Soup was simple but tasteful (not on the photo); there was also green salad but I opted for some sushi and freshest salmon sashimi. Got a tiny piece of lamb chops, some broccoli with almond flakes, a small serving of chicken and fresh mango dish, prawns and roast beef. And voila! My Thursday pig-out plate…
I also sampled some of those delectable desserts… The apple crumble was to-die-for, LOL!
Now more importantly, the main focus of the meet was to introduce to the public Sharp’s plans to improve more our daily living. After Sharp’s Japanese top management people explained thoroughly the company’s goals and global contributions complete with AVPs and interactive demonstrations, I was really in awe.
I give my ‘thumbs up!’ to Sharp for putting emphasis on “green technologies”. Imagine owning Sharp’s No-frost refrigerators with PLASMACLUSTER ION technology that can keep fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and other fridge’s contents fresher and longer as it inactivates and removes harmful airborne elements like allergens, viruses and molds. This amazing air sanitizing technology has also been incorporated into Sharp’s air purifiers, ion generators, air conditioners and even LED (light emitting diode) lamps.
The Plasmacluster Ion technology works by releasing positive and negative ions that attach themselves to the bacterial surfaces to break them down. Various test facilities in Japan and around the world have validated and confirmed the effectiveness of this technology in removing such hazards as SARS, corona virus, H1N1 human influenza virus and H5N1 avian influenza virus.
As a General Physician and a father to our almost 6-year-old son, my concern about microbial and possible disease prevention was truly addressed with this PCI technology. If I could only bring to our home all these great innovations from Sharp in a snap, life could be so much healthier. I so wish more establishments and offices will utilized this technology to support Sharp’s efforts in putting up a greener living.
About the LED (light emitting diode) lighting technology :
According to SPC President and General Manager, Mr. Juntaro Shimamoto, “The average cost of 1 kilowatt hour in Southeast Asia is 12 cents, while in the Philippines it costs 18 cents. This is 30% higher. One LED lamp consumes 7.5 watts to operate, while an incandescent bulb can require an average of 60 watts. If you consider that Sharp LED lamps can give you 80% energy savings compared to incandescent lamps, imagine how much you will save on electricity costs every month.”
Because most of us have monthly electric bills that continue to soar high despite our measures to save power, can you blame me if I dream of changing our incandescent bulbs to LED lights? *long sigh*
Sharp also further developed their audio-video products in the form of their QUATTRON LCD TVs. The name is such because Sharp added a fourth color to the basic primary of red, green and blue in TV technology, and that’s yellow; just to enhance the viewing of yellow and gold more vivid and lively.
There was a raffle for the members of the press and bloggers just before the event came to a close, and a Sharp LCD TV was the top prize among the 9 other freebies that were given away via randomizer. I admit, I desired to take home a unit myself for free, who wouldn’t? It would be a great pasalubong for Tina and Gabby that day, however, neither the LCD and flat TVs nor those air purifying units came home with me, LOL! Lady luck, where are you when I needed you most?
Another Sharp technology that was highlighted in the event was their Solar panels.
SPC president and general manager Juntaro Shimamoto said, “Unknown to many, Sharp is a world leading solar company. In fact, we began developing solar panels in 1959, well before issues on global warming and dwindling fossil fuel supplies came out.”
Sharp’s advanced solar panels are used in navigational systems, satellites, skyscrapers, villages, and various commercial applications worldwide.
Mr. Shimamoto shared, “One local facility that uses Sharp solar panels is the country’s first solar farm, operated by SEPALCO in Cagayan de Oro, which produces 1 megawatt of power. SEPALCO chose Sharp panels for their reliability and durability. We have also installed and tested solar panels on our very own solar jeepney. By 2012 we hope to have solar panel sales account for 7% of our total sales.”
I also wish that government and local offices, even concerned NGOs would utilize this solar panel technology as an alternative source of energy particularly for those remote areas of the country.
Other than taking pride in having greener technology, Sharp’s greatest strength as an established company here and abroad is their Customer Care Program. With just a text, an e-mail, or phone call, a complain is said to be addressed accordingly. Efficient and friendly service made them earn the first and only awardee of DTI’s Gold Seal of Excellence in the consumer appliances industry.
With commitment to personal and environmental health, energy conservation and advancement in electronic technology, Sharp continues to amaze its global clients BEYOND EXPECTATIONS!
Bravo to Sharp!
*Special thanks to Sharp Philippines and Ms. Lanie Juan for the invites.
Remember when I went home last Wednesday afternoon with a wide smile and a pasalubong for you and your mom? It was after I went to Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila located in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. I had a pleasure of being invited to Oakwood’s A Taste of Tuscany, Italian Wine and Food Festival Press Lunch.
I met gracious and wonderful people whom I even talked to about you dreaming of becoming a chef someday.
Like their Spanish Wine and Food Festival last April, what we recently had was a supreme indulgence!
I know you’ll enjoy looking at these pictures again, son…
Basket of amazingly delicious breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip.
Believe me, Gabby, the photo cannot justify how good Oakroom’s breads are! I’m sure you’ll like those soft and crunchy bread sticks or that herbed bread can surely stimulate your palate.
But of course, you understand that I cannot bring you to this event because those glorious foods were paired with finest Italian wines. Time will come that you’ll mature and develop the appreciation for occasional drinking. Who knows, other than being a chef that you wanted to be, you might become a wine connoisseur too!
Meanwhile, here’s ALBIZZIA, CHARDONNAY 2007, 2008.
*ALBIZZIA, TOSCANA : Flowers, apples and pears on the nose are followed by a palate of ripe peach and apricot. Green apple notes at the finish make this a wine well balanced between fruit and acidity. A light and appealing Chardonnay, with no oak.
This Chardonnay was paired with ZUPPETTA di LENTICCHIE con GAMBERONI e CORIANDOLO or Lentil soup with king prawns and corriander…
You know your Daddy, anak. Anything with shrimps or prawns is delicious to me. The texture and flavors infused into this soup were certainly new to me but I liked it as it was best complimented by that light and fruity Albizzia, Chardonnay.
PARMIGIANA di MELANZANE e ZUCCHINE or Aubergine and courgette parmigiana.
Tasteful! It was paired with REMOLE, TOSCANA 2006. I learned that gone are the days of following hard rule of white wines should only be for white meat and red wines are only for red meat. That afternoon, we had red wine paired with greens!
*REMOLE, TOSCANA is 85% Sangiovese (red wine) and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon but very lightly pressed, giving gentleness and subtlety. Fermentation and aging in stainless steel accentuates the fruit. The aroma has violets, raspberries and red cherries. The palate has red cherry, with hints of tobacco and leather before a soft finish.
Look how Oakwood Premier’s Executive Chef Jerome Cartailler prepared this eggplant dish to perfection…
Ultra-thin layers of eggplant were somewhat grilled for that much needed taste. Sarap!
Main entree was MEDAGLIONI di FILETTO di VITELLO con CARCIOFI LIMONE e PROVOLONE or Veal fillet medallions with artichokes, lemon and Provolone.
The required tenderness of the meat was there. The risotto with provolone was one of the best rice dishes I’ve tasted. This delightful dish was greatly paired with CASTIGLIONI, CHIANTI 2007.
*CASTIGLIONI CHIANTI, awarded as “Oscar for value for money from Italy’s prestigious wine magazine, Gambero Rosso. A nose of cherries, red currants and raspberries, backed by cassis, leather and tobacco notes. A palate of stone fruits (cherries, black plums and blackberries), with a long lasting, well-structured finish.
Another shot of that lovely plate.
What’s a great meal without dessert? We’re almost satiated but can’t resist this temptation :
TIRAMISU ai FRAGOLA or Strawberry tiramisu…
Luscious! I just dunked my spoon on this sweet treat, it exposed generous strawberry slices!
And we nicely capped that excellent lunch with espresso.
It’s such a beautiful experience, Gabby! An exquisite Italian fare we enjoyed. This proof is only a slice to the fact that Oakwood Premier has been living up with its tag line of “Luxury defined by trust.”
I hope this inspires you more to pursue your dream of becoming an iron chef!
I and your Mommy Tina love you, anak!
“A Taste of Tuscany” at Oakroom is co-presented by Future Trade International, Inc., distributor of Frescobaldi and Danzante wines in the Philippines. It runs from June 07 to 27, 2010.
For details and reservations, please call the Oakroom direct line at (63-2) 719-1160. Other phone lines : (63-2) 637-7888/ 910 8888 ext. 8118. Oakroom is on the 6th level of Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila, located at 17 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
Thank you, Ms. Genny Puno for the invite!
Regarding TASTING NOTES for WINE APPRECIATION, visit my other blog –>DOCGELO’S EYES .
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