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Midori was in Boarding School

IMGP2134 Growing up,  Midori proved to be too difficult to deal with.  I know that I made some very bad decisions when we took her in that lead to her unruly behavior.  This included leaving her alone in the house – outside of her crate – while we slept during the day.   This is why we realized we needed professional help.  So a few weeks before she turned one,  we decided to send her to Boarding School.  She went to Rak K-9 Training Academy which is run by Gio Marcelo.  For those who frequent dog friendly places like Bonifacio High Street and Tiendesitas, you may have seen him with his dog Raki, a Belgian Malinois.

Training was for three to four weeks and Midori had to stay with Gio all through the training period.  On the third week, Gio assesses the progress of the dog and checks if it can graduate from the training class.   I’m so proud of Midori because she did graduate in three weeks.  After training, it was as if she was a different dog.

It’s been a year since she went to Boarding School and whenever we are in public,  we are actually approached by strangers telling us that they’re amazed at how obedient MIdori is.  Of course, most of those who approach us are Beagle owners who have similar experiences with their own Beagles.  They are high energy dogs and without the proper training – they can really be a handful.

I am attaching a link to the RAK K-9 Training Academy site in case you are interested in getting your dog trained.  They are not cheap --- but it’s worth it.  When Midori attended the school we paid 15,000 pesos for it.   However, I can definitely say that it’s worth it.  When you have an obedient dog,  your relationship with it just develops to its full potential.  They are no longer just pets --- they can actually be companions.

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Basic Obedience Commands after training:(from Left to Right):  Sit, Heel Walking, Down Stay.

My Favorite iPod Touch Applications

I still have my iPod Video.  However, I have not been using it and it’s on loan to one of the House of Queens room mates.  It was a great MP3 player.  However, when I got my iPod Touch last year,  I could not look back.  I definitely think that it’s one of the best gadgets ever made.  I know that iPhone users are saying: Wait till you get an iPhone.  Yes – I agree – I’m missing out on the applications that the iPhone can provide coming from its Phone Capabilities and its Camera.  However – I think the iPhone’s Phone capabilities and Camera are just too second rate compared to its counterparts.   This is why I still prefer the iPod Touch over the iPhone.

On this post, I share my favorite iPod Touch Apps which sit on the gadgets’ home screen.  These are the applications which I use over and over again.  BTW – the PRINT SCREEN utility of the iPod Touch ( and the iPhone ) is another magical utility that I wish other gadgets have.   It just made this blog post so easy to create.

IMG_0292 1.  Bejewelled
It took me almost half a year to decide to purchase the iPod version of this application.  I’m a fan of the game in Facebook but the MISER in me thought that 2.99 USD is just too much to spend on the gadget.  Two months ago – out of a moment of weakness, I decided to buy the application.  Now – I spend hours playing the game.  The game is just so much better with the help of the capacitive touch screen.  I’ve broken previous records which I thought I could never break.

IMG_0295 2.  Facebook
Facebook applications on other gadgets are lame.  The only Facebook app that can provide the functionality of Facebook via the browser is the iPod version.  In this version,  I can view all types of newsfeeds.   Uploading photos is a lot easier and navigating through the different pages is a breeze.  One added bonus is the fact that I can upload content to the PAGE that I administer ( example the fan page of Midori ) using the application.  In other gadgets’ Facebook application,  I can’t even see my fan pages.

IMG_0293 3.  Tweetdeck
I never used the desktop version of Tweetdeck.  However – the free version of Tweetdeck on iPod is sweet.   Note that I have Twitter applications in my other gadgets.  I use Gravity on the N97 ( which is not free ).  I use Seesmic on the HTC hero.  However --- out of all of these apps – Tweetdeck still rules.  The panes – for the different accounts that I manage just provide an intuitive interface to viewing your Twitter Streams --- for the other apps – you would have to go back to the previous screen – just to get to other accounts.   And did I mention that it’s free?

IMG_0294 4.  iBear Money
There are two expense tracking softwares on my iPod Touch.  Both of them are not free.  What actually made me switch to iBear Money is its simple interface and the fact that I am able to track – not just my cashflow – but I can actually track my assets and my liabilities.   For accountants – I know that you would not be using this --- but for me --- I also found the ability to enter NEGATIVE amounts on the entries helpful.   For 4.99 USD ( at least when I bought it ) … it definitely has been a great addition to my iPod Touch experience.

So there goes my top Ipod Touch Applications.  I have other note worth apps on the gadget – but these are the ones that I use over and over again.

If you’re an iPod Touch fan ( or even iPhone fan ) – which applications are your favorites?.

I Dream of Soufflé

I woke up midday craving for Soufflé from Antonio’s.   They say that pictures paint a thousand words,  I think a thousand is enough to describe how this feels.


The Boracay Sunset

For Filipinos, the best time for lounging by the beach is at sunset.  With the sun about to say good bye for the day,  we don’t have to worry about its harmful rays.  As a nation we have always thought that fairer skin is beautiful.  I used to believe in that until I actually went to the US and everyone in that part of the world had the opposite opinion. 

If you have been visiting Boracay regularly,  you will notice that this time of day brings out crazy looking cameras.  If you are not into water sports,  one of the things you can definitely do is to take pictures of the Boracay sunset.  These pictures were mostly taken using mobile phone cameras.  Others were taken using a point and shoot camera.  I wonder how SLR camera pictures look like?  But with such a fantastic view --- I’m not sure you need high-tech gadgets to capture it on film.

Boracay 2008

Boracay 2009

Palawan: Make way for the Queens

Part 1

Today, we made the down payment to Coron Gateway; the hotel which we will be using for our upcoming trip to Coron, Palawan.  Our decision to use the hotel was actually serendipitous (or maybe a result of good advertising) since we found their ad in a magazine inside a coffee house at the time we were still trying to look for a hotel.   We booked our flights back in December when Cebu Pacific had a sale.  Fare to Coron was just 700 pesos per pax plus taxes.   Like all our trips,  we got this for a very good deal thanks for Regina's sleuthing talent.

This is not our first time in the Island of Palawan.  Three years ago,  we went to Puerto Princesa.  That was a good vacation.  We did the usual Island Hopping at Honda Bay and of course we visited one of the wonders of the natural world - the Tabon Cave.  After that trip, we resolved that we should definitely come back and explore Coron.   This year - we are finally able to do it.  I am so excited.  I will post pictures of the Coron trip after the vacation.  For now,  here are some pictures of our Puerto Princes trip.

Part 2

Remembering EDSA I


I was a 6th Grader and it was our graduation year.  There were definitely apprehensions over the event that has transpired on that year which made us question whether there will ever be a graduation that year.  My family lived in San Pablo City since my Father was a Medical Representative for a Pharmaceutical company - San Pablo was one of his areas to cover which is why I spent all of my elementary days in San Pablo City.

On the eve of the 24th,  the nuns in our school Canossa College called off classes so they can join everyone else in EDSA.  They never got to go since the Marcoses left that evening ending the week-long event at Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo.

After that, Cory Aquino was re-confirmed as the president of the Philippines.  The debates between the Marcos and Cory supporters continued.  We did graduate and after graduation,  my family moved back to Manila.   I studied at Manila Science High School (for which a petition was recently filed to have its name changed to Corazon Aquino High School.).   High School was also eventful with the Coup d'etat staged against the Aquino administration but in the end,  we also graduated from High School.

Last year,  Corazon Aquino died and the yellow fever (which started after her beloved husband, Ninoy Aquino was assasinated) was revived.  I was one of the millions of people who grieved for this loss.   It brought back memories of that glorious days of EDSA I - when I was still a child and had the optimism of a child.

Midori is a Snoop

IMGP2254It is common occurrence in the House of Queens for us to run after Midori my beagle whenever she grabs onto something.  This can be the remote control, a pair of slippers, the newspaper,  the latest electricity bill and a lot more.  It’s a game that she likes playing and even though she loses every time; she enjoys doing it.

The other day, it was the same scene,  she went inside her Nanny’s room and came out with a piece of paper.  This time, she actually stopped right in front of me as if to say,  take a look at this.  So I got hold of the crumpled piece of paper from her mouth.  Written on 23072008293the piece of paper are the months of January through August with amounts across it which corresponds to the Nanny's salary.   Midori then ran into the room again and came out with another piece of paper.  This time,  the months started in December and again ends in August.   Everything was the same except that this time,  written across the words December: Nabuntis ako ( I got pregnant).  I wasn’t shocked since it confirmed my suspicion that the maid is pregnant.   I gave Midori a good rubbing of her tummy and some treats as a reward for being a good snoop.  I wonder if Snoopy was named as such because beagles are good snoops.

I have not had my talk with the Nanny.  I have not made a decision on what to do.   She had been a good Nanny and all around maid.  Moreover,  I’m sure Midori will miss her when she gives birth and leaves.  For now,  I have at least 4 more months to mull over it.l

This Queen Went to Market


Sunday is Market day for us.  We go to different locations depending on what time we are awake.  If we are awake really early – we go to Landmark at the Ayala Center.  It opens at 8:30 AM everyday.  If we end up sleeping through Sunday and wake up late in the afternoon,  we go to SM Hypermart next to TIendesitas in Taguig.  They are open till 11:00 PM.

Today, we planned to go to Landmark which is a typical Sunday for us.  However – after parking and walking towards the entrance of the Supermarket,  we were told by the Security guards that we can’t go through that tiny strip between Glorietta 3 and Landmark because the security team of Ayala center is performing a drill.   We were asked to go around to the other side --- and when we reached that side,  we found that the entrance there is also closed.

Our conversation with the Marshall was a bit of a comedy.  we asked him: “How do we get to the Supermarket?”. 

He said – “go through the entrance.” 

“But the entrance is through this street that you have closed.   So the Supermarket is closed?”  we asked.

“It’s open.”  he replied.

Realizing that we won’t get anywhere with this conversation with an idiot – we decided to just go to Rustan’s at Glorietta ( which is open at 9:00 AM.   Leaving the drill scene – it makes us wonder if it was really a drill or there was another bomb threat in the Ayala Center.  Moreover --- if there was indeed a situation at the center --- will we have to rely on such idiots for our safety?

HTC Hero Home Screens

I gave in to the temptation and bought the HTC Hero.  I can't wait till Sony Ericsson releases the xPeria X10.  If the X2 and X1 release is any indication,  the Philippines will be one of the last countries which will get its release.  For now,  I thought getting the 2009 phone of the year will satisfy my Gadget Desire.   The good news is that HTC Hero may not be the latest Android phone but it is just pure bliss to use it.
To illustrate how I have been using the phone,  I thought it would be good to capture the SCENES that I have currently set-up for my phone.  BTW - the phone does not have screen capture.  Well actually it does if you gain root access which for me is too much work - so I just took pictures and they turned out good enough for this post.

N97137 1.  Home Screen - Toggle widgets.   This is where I setup all the toggle switches for bluetooth,Wi-Fi, GPS, Mobile Internet, ring tone etc.  They need to be handy so I can quickly turn the services off when not needed to extend the phones' battery life.   With diligent management of the services,  I can run on one full charge for over 24 hours.


N97138 2.  Contacts Page - I've set up this screen for all activities related to my friends.  My favorite contacts widget takes up most of the screen.  Other widgets and short cuts include Netashare (which is what I use to feed from my Google Reader), Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.   The camera shortcut is handy in case I need to get a snapshot for my contacts.


N97141 3.  Organizer - This is the page for my calendar,  phonebook, browser, phone settings, and SMS.  This page has the widgets that I used from previous smart phones that I've used ( if you are curious they were Sony Ericsson and Nokia handsets ).


N97139 4.  Multi-Media - This is where I've setup the music player widget.  If I have a wi-fi connection I use Wiki-tunes which actually displays the lyrics of the song that you are playing.   This is also the place for handy programs like Shazam and fxCamera.   You can also create shortcuts for your favorite Music Playlist.  The Foursquare widget is out of place - I agree.


N97142 5.  E-mail - I love the e-mail widget.  YOu can actually flick up and down to go through e-mails in your inbox.  I have decided to use this phone to synch my work e-mail.  This means that I don't need to bring my blackberry with me all the time.


N97143 6.  Internet Shortcut - Love the internet shortcut widget.   This allows me to go to my favorite sites quickly.  The shortcut widget also comes in another style where you can preview the site but I thought that it just takes up too much screen area that I chose this style.


N97140 7.  Favorite Applications - This is the screen that I use for the programs that I use often.  You'll notice that I still don't have a lot.  But take note that I have had the phone for just a week - so I'm still browsing the Google marketplace for other fun applications to download.


N97144 8.  The Locked Screen - This screen actually functions like the iPhone.  However, instead of dragging your finger sideways to unlock the phone,  you drag it downwards.  When you are listening to music - the album art replaces your default wall paper.


HTC Sense ( the customized UI of HTC ) allows you to have more than one scene ( or collection of screens ).  However - with all of the things that I have shown in this blog,  I don't think I will need another scene because I have all that I need.   BTW --- if you can't wait for the other Android phones to come to the Philippines shores - I totally recommend getting the HTC hero.

The Salcedo Market

In my introductory blog, I mentioned that I live in the middle of the Central Business District of Makati. Everyone knows that I love the place - because it is conveniently located near my office and I can actually go to the mall or the supermarket with ease and not be bothered by the a long commute. There are actually two main Villages in this area - Salcedo and Legazpi. These two villages have their own advantages --- but I prefer Salcedo because it has a lot more residential feel to it. Moreover -- there are a lot nicer developments this part of the city than Legazpi. Others prefer Legazpi because it's closer to the Greenbelt shopping Mall.

One of the attractions of the Salcedo village was the very recent establishment of the Salcedo Market every Saturday at the Salcedo Park. It started at around the same time that I started to live in the Village. A year later - they created a similar weekend market in Legazpi. Now - I hear they have a similar setup in other parts of the city. The market provides a place for merchants to sell organic vegetables, meat, plants. There are also home made food items like the Quezo de Bola spread. There are also plenty of stalls for home-cooked meals. One of the attraction is the Dirty Ice Cream being peddled by a Caucasian expatriate.

So people will argue that it's a nice addition to the village. It is --- if you don't live near the place. You see, the House of Queens overlooks the park and when they setup the stalls on Friday afternoons, the temporary structure becomes an eyesore. They actually look like shanties when we look out from the Balcony.
I call the people who frequent the market coming from outside of the village as minions. It's the most negative term that we can think of for the people who come to the market from other places --- and take note they --- are actually richer than me --- they drive better cars and they are part of Manila's elite. The problem is the cars that they drive cause a traffic jam around the park when Saturdays and weekends are supposed to be a respite for the Salcedo Village residents from the weekday traffic.

Oh well --- I guess I'm really just being nasty about the market. As I said earlier - it does provide some character for the area. However - I do hope that they do something about the traffic and the shanty like tents or else - the Queendom will continue to view it in a not-so positive light.

Midori - The Chewaholic

Blogger's Note: I spoke about Midori's previous blogs. Here is one of them. This was written prior to being sent to boarding school. She is now a recovering Chewaholic after going through the 12 steps program.

OneI'm Midori ... and I'm a Chewaholic. I chew on every type of material possible ... rubber, plastic ( hard or soft ), wood, metal. I can't stop myself ... my Daddy has to stop me. So he learned that he has to watch me like a hawk. That's actually why he hired a Nanny because when he's asleep during  the day he wants someone to watch over me. We both learned that I can't be cooped up inside my house all day because I get bored and I end up being noisy.   So the alternative was to let me roam around the house supervised.  So  Nanny is there to make sure I don't get into trouble.

These are the things that I destroyed as a Chewaholic:

Two1. The sofa. One Sunday afternoon ... Daddy left, when he came back - there was a hole in the sofa. Actually I remember doing that in my Grandparents house as well ... and I remember not seeing Grandma and Grandpa for a month. I heard they were very upset.

2. The kitchen counters. I didn't know my own strength --- I was able to get the boards pulled out and removed.

3. The mirrors have scratches. The China cabinet has scratches. The dining table and chairs have scratches.

4. And of course - there was one magical day when they left the door of the bedroom open. I chewed on a lot of shoes and slippers that day.


I'm Midori ... I'm a recovering chewaholic.  It's been 2 days since I last destroyed something in the house.  I thought they said I'd get over this after my first year but I'm already turning two in a couple of weeks and I still can't get over it.

Fun Pictures from the HTC Hero

I just bought a new phone last weekend.  I bought the HTC Hero which was awarded the best phone in the recently concluded Telecommunications fair in Barcelona Spain.   I think it's an award that is well deserved.

When I bought the phone - I had high hopes for its technical capabilities.  Most of those expectations were actually exceeded.  I have some gripes but nothing that actually makes me regret buying it.   The only real issue that I have with it though is the fact that it's camera doesn't have a flash.   This means that for poor lighting conditions,  I can't rely on the camera to give me a decent picture.

I was however pleasantly surprised that the Android Market actually has interesting programs that makes the Picture Taking experience a joy on the HTC Hero.  My favorite as of the moment is FXCamera.   The pictures that I took are actually comparable to the pictures that we take from our Lomo cameras.   So I guess - I have minimized that concern that I have on the less than excellent camera of the phone.   I am sharing the shots that I took using FXCamera.

FxCam_1266450604063 FxCam_1266450486069 FxCam_1266450536498
Description from Left to Right (Regular, Polaroid, Fish eye)

FxCam_1266450459993 FxCam_1266450508776 FxCam_1266450580040

Description from Left to Right (Warhol, Toy Camera, Symmetrical)

Up, Up and Away!!


There is an annual festival in Clark Pampanga which has become a favorite activity for Manilenos.  This is the Balloon Festival held in the Clark Airfield in Angeles Pampanga.  This year, the festival coincided with Valentine’s and Chinese New Year festival which makes it really special.  Unfortunately,   I was not able to check it out this year. 

These are the photos of last year’s Festival.  Hopefully,  we can check it out on 2011.

Brunch @ M Cafe

One of my favorite restaurants in the Makati area is M Cafe ( or Museum Cafe ).  It’s actually one of the longest running restaurant in the Greenbelt area which I think is a testament to it being one of the better restaurants who does not rely on just hype – but in the steady patronage of local foodies.

Last Saturday,  we decided to have brunch at the Cafe which proved to be a good decision.  We ordered our usual Roti Selection which has Pepper Acar, Canai, and Raita.  Regina ordered the Eggs Benedict and i ordered the Char-Siu and Prawn Omelette.  As always,  the food does not disappoint 

(Blogger’s note.  Museum (M) Cafe is located beside the Ayala Museum. )


Best Valentine’s Date

I had the best Valentine’s Date of my life watching the latest Gary Marshall movie: “Valentine’s Day”.  It’s a funny movie which is a trademark of Mr. Marshall.  It’s good to see him reunited with Julia Roberts of “Pretty Woman” and Anne Hathaway of “Princess Diaries”.   The best part of the movie that makes it my best Valentine’s date ever?  It featured three of the hottest men:  Eric Dane, Bradley Cooper and (my one true love) Topher Grace.


Pampanga Tour

I am reposting this entry as reference to the recently concluded Balloon Festival in Angeles Pampanga.  Last Christmas,  Regina and I joined Ultimate Philippine’s Pampanga tour which was done in conjunction with the lantern festival in San Fernando.

I created a video for the Christmas tour which is shown here.  In a future post,  I will showcase our photos in last year’s Balloon Festival.

Boracay Sailing - The Paraw Ride


Every time I visit Boracay, I take a Paraw Ride around the island.  I don't use the motorized boats because it's noisy and the fumes are just horrible.  With the Paraw,  you rely on wind power so there's no noise and there are no fumes.  You can hire a paraw for 700 to 1,000 pesos per hour.  Rates can go lower if you are a better negotiator than I am.

Things to do while you are on the Paraw. 

1) Lounge under the Sun.  This is how I get my tan ( to be more accurate - How I intensify my tan ).   This can only be done when the waves are not high - otherwise you might fall off the boat.   Waters are mild in the Summer months when winds are not that strong.

2) Get to the snorkeling sites.   You can ask the boatman to take you to the snorkeling site close to the Crocodile island.

3) Take a trip around the island.   This is how I was able to see Shangri-La while it was still under construction.  This is also how I saw the property that Manny Pacquiao bought.

4) Get a good adrenaline rush.  When waters are rough and waves are high -- it's like a scary Roller coaster ride.  This is usually the case in the windy months of December and January.

My Sci-Fi Fantasies are Coming True

Growing up, I've always been a fan of Science Fiction books, TV shows, and movies. As a kid, there was a time when I wanted to either be a scientist or an astronaut. One of my favorite cartoons is the Josie and the Pussycats in Outerspace. It was just awesome that a cute-sy cartoon like Josie and the Pussycats can be mixed with space exploration. I was also a fan of animes. When I started reading and through high school - Sci-Fi is also one of the Genres that I will read. My favorite book was Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov. From there I proceeded to read the whole Robot and Foundation series. Some ofthe books I actually read as an adult. For TV, I've watched the Star Trek series, any Gene Roddenbery inspired TV show, and anything on the Sci-Fi channel.

Apart from the story lines, one of things that facinates me with Sci-Fi is the authors' implied or direct commentary of what the future holds for mankind. Everyone must recall that Jules Verne in 20,000 Leagues under the sea wrote about the submarine years before the first submarine was built. A lot of the Sci-Fi TV shows demonstrated gadgets which can do pretty much about anything. It also shows talking computers and even dancing robots. As we all know, a lot of these are still fiction but a lot of these are starting to become a reality.

In my lifetime, I'm amazed at the speed that technology has developed. As a child - I remember being amazed with the personal computer. Of course - in College, I saw the PC evolving from the 8086/8088, to the 286, to the 386, 486, and when I graduated - the Pentium. I also recall using character based user interface to the first Windows. The internet was definitely one of the most groundbreaking technological development. I was so amazed with it when I first started using it. Of course - now - I am able to access it wherever I am - especially with the development of 3G speed for my mobile phone. Right now --- the development continues.

I remember when Java was still at its infancy. The people who developed Java wanted a programming language that can be used openly across systems. This will allow every-day people to access content and Apps in the most common things - like the Fridge. For example, the fridge can keep track of the inventory of items within it - and post that somewhere on the web where people can find out what they need to shop for. This blog entry was actually inspired by that thought. I have not seen a fridge developed like that. But I remember telling Regina, with both of us signing up for Google Wave --- we can actually create a Fridge Wave which our Maid can access to keep track of items that we should buy that weekend from the Grocery store.

One of the things that I'm also very excited about are the 3D movies that are coming up. Right now - we only see practical applications while watching movies. But imagine this --- if this technology can be replicated in the display of Mobile Phones, one only needs to wear stylish - 3D glasses - and you can end up with a hologram of the person you are talking to on the phone.

My Sci-Fi fantasies are indeed coming true. I'm excited about that --- and I know it just goes to show how much of a Geek I am. However --- I've never been ashamed of admitting that because I know that as much as I am a geek --- I'm also a fabulous queen.

Midori and Me

DSC00541 (Small)

One of my favorite books is Marley and Me. I read it recently after the movie came out and just by watching the trailer – the story is just too familiar. Marley is the male Labrador counterpart of my Female Beagle – Midori.

I am now thirty six – which means Midori and I had been together for over a year. I still adore her but looking back at the time that we’ve spent together – I realized that I wasn’t ready to have a dog. Note that I will not trade this experience for anything but I thought that it would be good to warn the other single men and women out there who are thinking of getting a puppy to be their company.

1. Be prepared to spend time with your puppy. They are pack animals and they go crazy if they are left alone. My solution to this problem: I hired a Nanny to be with Midori while I am asleep or at the office.

2. Be prepared to have a crate and a bed for your puppy. Make sure that they are used to staying inside their crate when you are not around. This is their special place. I was actually amazed the first time that I witnessed Midori going inside her house on her own when she is tired and ready to go to sleep. It’s good for your own sanity and it’s good for your dog’s sense of security.

3. Be prepared for Obedience school. I just had a really difficult time training Midori to behave properly. So I sent her to Boarding School. The tuition fee is extravagant but it was worth it. Our relationship with each has just developed after she came back from Boarding School.

4. Be prepared to exercise with your puppy. When Midori gets enough exercise ( at least 45 minute walks twice a day ), she is an angel. However - since she is a high energy breed - whenever we don't provide her with enough exercise we end up with a dog who constantly barks or bays or worse - one who ends up destroying our furniture thinking that they were her toys.

In our family – it’s actually a running joke that Midori is the second grand child of my parents. I have a four year old niece who sees Midori as her COUSIN. My mom calls Midori her We actually this as a resignation of my parents over the fact that I won’t have a child of my own. I never really gave up on the notion of having my own child even if I were gay. However – Midori did help me realize that I’m better off with a dog than a child.

Am I Elphaba, Glinda, or Nessarose

Recently, the song "Defying Gravity" had been playing constantly on the Radio. I knew of the song in the past and I liked it the first time that I heard it but with the constant playing - it just got me itching to listen to the whole soundtrack. Of course - this itch lead to me watching a recorded performance of the actual play.

As I watched the play - I can't help but ask myself the question - who among the three women in the story can I relate to the most?

Am I Elphaba? She is the smart and talented heroine of the story who turned out to be the most misunderstood character in the world. She grew up being despised by the people around her because of her appearance - but in the end - the tragedy in the story was brought about by the story that was spun by the villains of the story. And should I mention - that she ends up being with the cute guy?

Or am I Glinda? The popular girl - whose worst trait is that of being vain. And as much as she may not be the most talented witch - she had a golden heart and turned out to be the only real friend to Elphaba. She has pined for the cute guy - but loses him to the Green Skinned Girl. She realizes that no amount of popularity or congeniality can get her the man she loves.

Or am I Nessarose? Among the three - I fear being seen as this character. In the original book on the Wizard of Oz - and even in the Wicked Series and Musical - she ends up as a footnote in the story. She is the sister who develops the character of the heroine - and yet she ends up a weakling who dies because of the tragedy of a house falling on her.

Filling Station - Good Ol' Diner

Filling StationFilling Station1I was supposed to fly to Washington DC this weekend for a business meeting.   However, the DC area ( including Maryland and Virginia ) were buried in snow.  So the meeting got cancelled.

It was just fitting that since I didn't get to go to the  US,  that we try out a popular American diner in the Makati area.   I'm talking about the Filling Station located at Burgos st.   The whole place looks and feels  like a real American diner.  It has a lot of memorabilia and I was expecting the Fonz to appear.  I made sure I got pictures taken with two of my alter egos - Superman and Wonder-woman.

We took the opportunity to order milkshake and root-beer float.  There aren't a lot of restaurants in the Philippines who serve them.  We were not disappointed.   They were good.  Of course - all the other dishes we ordered - Pizza, Shrimp popcorn and Buffalo Wings tasted like what they should taste like - Diner food.   For my friends and myself - that means having that warm Fuzzy feeling after you take the first bite.

We are definitely coming back for the other dishes.   I think they have hundreds of options.   I will definitely try their breakfast fare next time because they advertised that they bake fresh breads daily.  Plus - I have not taken a picture with the Hulk and Flash.

Boracay View on Top of Mt. Luho

All Terrain Vehicle

I have been to Boracay so many times that when we decided to spend our New Year break on the island,   I told my friends that we better try new things. You know, activities other than lounging by the beach during the day and getting drunk at night.  As we all know – for tourists like us, there is no shortage of the “manongs” ready to hook you up with touris activities.  So as long as you are willing to spend money - they will give you a menu of items that you can add to your memories while in the party Island of the Philippines.

We decided to try the All Terrain Bikes.   We thought it was cool to see the island from the highest point.  The locals call it Mt. Luho.  The truth is I don’t think it qualifies to be called a Mountain.  It’s a hill at best.  You can rent the bike for 700 per hour.  It was fun – but you need to make sure you drive cautiously – there were several instances when we thought we were going to drive off the cliff for driving too fast and not looking where we were going.

Definitely something to try the next time you are  in Boracay. 

Exploring the Queen City of the South

Traveling with Regina is like having a personal travel agent.  She does her research well and that's why we get good deals and our vacation is hassle free.  For our birthdays last year,  we decided to take advantage of Cebu Pacific's deals which included a stay at Shangri-La Mactan.   Here are the highlights of the trip.

1. Shangri-La Mactan

ShangriLa We paid 15,000++ pesos each for a chance to stay at one of arguably the best Shangri-La Hotel and Resort. That amount included round trip air fare. Did I mention buffet breakfast was included? Cebu Pacific offered this net fare on its website. We had an option of Waterfront, the Hilton, and the other resorts in Mactan and Cebu. I of course   Snorkelingchose Shangri-La even if it cost 2,000 pesos more. The 2,000 peso difference is definitely worth it.

Each room at the Shangri-La has a beach-front view. One of the options for breakfast is at Acqua – which offers an awesome view of two infinity pools. We were not able to explore everything that we could do at the Shangri-La but we did take advantage of snorkeling at the beach. The fishes were not shy --- on many occasions – they bit the piece of bread right from my hand --- and although they’re not huge --- there were times I thought that I lost a finger.


IslandHopping2.  Island Banca Cruise

When in Boracay, I refuse to hire the motorized boats when I do the island hopping. I get nauseous from the fumes of the motor. So I prefer to get the wind-powered Sailboats called Paraw. Riding the Paraw allows me to lounge under the Sun while we sail around the Island. For our Cebu Trip, we discovered a really cool way of exploring the waters around Cebu. It’s a tour provided by a company called Island Banca. It’s a motorized boat – but it’s bigger than your usual tour boat and to top it off – you actually have a  huge deck with a number of bean bags. PERFECT for lounging.

3. Cebu Lechon and Cebu Sea Food

Everyone raves about the Cebu Lechon. Even Anthony Bordain hails it as one of the best tasting roasted pig in the world. I agree with him. I am not a big fan of Lechon – but you should try the Cebu Lechon. It melts in your mouth and the skin is the crispiest Lechon skin I’ve tried. You do not even have to use Lechon Sauce. The whole city is filled with Cebu Lechon stalls so it will be difficult to miss it.

We were also able to try one of the floating restaurants during our Island Tour. We had huge prawns, rock lobster and huge scallops. All cooked in Butter ( fried, steamed, and roasted ).

4. Abaca Restaurant

Abaca Hailed as one of the best Restaurants in the Philippines – we definitely had to try the restaurant. It is also a resort and it’s only open for Dinner. One has to make reservations because it doesn’t accept walk-ins. It has been said that some of Manila’s elite will fly from Manila to Cebu just to have dinner at Abaca. They serve Mediterranean dishes.

The resort is exclusive and very private. Rates are much higher than the Shangri-La ( at least 300 USD per night ). For loungers, they actually provide queen sized mattresses by the pool. It’s perfect for a honeymoon or a romantic rendezvous for those with illicit affairs.

When I showcased my photos in my Facebook profile my friends agreed that it seems like we had a great time. We did. I am now a fan of Cebu. For those who are looking for a beach destination – Cebu is definitely my top choice. Some of my friends would argue that Boracay is a better destination – I would have agreed five years ago. However – with Boracay being the destination of every Tom, Dick and Harry – it has lost its charms. Next time I visit Cebu --- who knows --- I might get lucky and find someone who will take me for a romantic getaway at the Abaca resort.

Ancient City in Bangkok

The city of Bangkok is a popular tourist destination for Filipinos. For Regina and I, Bangkok was the first city outside of the Philippines that we have chosen to visit almost four years ago. During our first visit, we allocated a whole week. This was a good decision given the fact that with the numerous sites, we actually needed some time to take a nap in the afternoon to ensure that we can still do activities at night.

This time, Regina and I spent less time in Bangkok. We were done with the temple tours so we looked for other things to do. One of the destinations that Regina found on the internet is a place called “The Ancient City”. For Filipinos – this is very similar to our “Nayong Filipino”. The different tourist sites around Bangkok are recreated in the compound.

Day 2 in Bangkok was spent in the Ancient City. we rented a golf cart to allow us to tour the whole place. Prior to the trip we were actually thinking of riding a bike around the compound. We’re happy that we decided against that. It was way too big and the humidity would have made us give up in the first 15 minutes if we decided to rent the bike.

The highlight of the tour is seeing the recreation of Ayuthaya. We saw the ruins of Ayuthaya during our previous visit and seeing this recreation of the royal gardens and one of the ballrooms was just magnificent.

Here are some of the photos from the tour.

Ancient City

Most Romantic Hideaway in Boracay

Hotel Nami is perfect for that romantic weekend far from the crowd of the Metro.  It's located at Diniwid beach away from all the other resorts of White Beach.  For added privacy, you can even have their private boat take you from the airport straight to the hotel skipping the pier altogether. It showcases rooms with the view of the beautiful waters that Boracay is famous for.     The rooms have a Jacuzzi which is strategically located at the balcony so guests can relax while looking out at the awesome view of the cove.

Instead of talking about the whole experience,  I thought of just sharing photos of our last visit to Hotel Nami. 





Room rates start at 150 USD/night.