31 August 2005

Spam spam go away

I know the word verification thing sucks. I myself find it inconvenient to try and decipher the letters so I can respond to comments. But it was really annoying to sift through the spam in a previous post to get to the legit ones.

So here's the deal. Teach me how to delete the spam so I can remove the word verification process. Before, all the comments had this nifty trash box immediately below it so I can zap nasty comments into oblivion. But I do not seem to see this recently. What gives?

Help please! Thanks!

30 August 2005

More than just dinnerware

The Landmark in Makati should pay me for advertising their shop but it's freebie for now :-)

My introduction to chinaware began when my mother gave me a small, old, chinked bowl that with Japanese art in it. She said that it came from the Japanese occupation era. I was intrigued, and learned - as so many historians already do - that these simple ceramic things actually hold interesting stories all their own.

While I did not delve deeper into artifacts, bowls of distinguishing colors and shapes have fascinated me. Especially when I developed the taste for Japanese food; the presentation itself makes the entire thing enticing! But hold the sea urchin please.

Actually I have been buying these Japanese bowls and plates and this small cup they use to drink wine with, until I realized (thanks to my wife) that I haven't really been using them much, and so these were categorized as non-essential items. I brought some to the office instead for lunch.

At any rate, I was just passing by Landmark last week when I saw this nice blue bowl. And then I saw a couple of plates. And before I knew it, I was already at the counter paying for these nice finds. I really don't like to dilly-dally and spend hours deciding on what to buy. When I like it, I buy it. Which must be why I'm in such a financial fit right now. :-)

I showed the photo of the things I bought to my wife (Who is in Baguio now), and she exclaimed I could have bought more so we have reserves for gifts this coming Yuletide season! hmmm...

And why would she let me buy more? [Refer to the photo above] Because the rectangular plate in front costs 15 pesos (great for serving peanuts, or sushi if you're into that), the blue bowl at the right costs 15 pesos (I like rice toppings!), the plate at the left costs 18 pesos (is that a plate? not sure), and the white one at the back costs 20 pesos. There's a good 4.75 to 6.75 off each item. I only paid 68 pesos for this quartet! What a find!

So if you'd like to jazz up your dinnerware, head on to Landmark today. I think the sale isstill on for the month of September.

25 August 2005

It's original!

My wife and I were on high spirits last weekend as we were eager to put our negotiating skills to the test in the ukay-ukay stalls of Baguio. We have grown so accustomed to each other's quirks that when we are quoted a high price for something we know should cost a lot less, we would exclaim WHAAAAAT!? in sync with wide eyes, and has gotten a lot of mixed reactions - mostly funny - from the vendors.

But last weekend definitely tops the list. And it wasn't funny at all. We were in one stall looking at designer bags. My wife then asked for the price of one she liked: a Prada.

"350", came the response.

We nodded in satisfaction. We can still have a few pesos shaved off that. After a bit more browsing, we visited the next stall. We saw another, smaller bag with the same brand and we casually asked the vendor how much it was.

"1,500", said the vendor without batting an eyelash.
"Original yan!", she butted in.

We didn't care to negotiate. We were disgusted because everybody knows they get their goods in bulk. In huge boxes. And the rate of one box is just about the same as the other, regardless of whether there are Guccis and Pradas in there. And how could she know if what she's selling is the real thing? She's the designer bag expert all of a sudden?

We'd have loved to give that vendor a piece of my mind. But have something better in mind. We'd go back to the other stall, buy the bag, then go to this other vendor, ask her price, and flatly tell her how much we got the much nicer bag we have. And it's original. Yes, we're experts :-)

24 August 2005

Oh, my aching half a head!

Are you a migraine sufferer? No? Lucky you.

I was in my senior year in college when it first struck. How could I describe the feeling of having this? Pounding in my head describes so little. The left side of my head hurt, including my left eye, left ear, and the left portion of the back of my neck. My cheeks go numb, when I move my eyes it hurts, the inside of my ear hurts, and while my head pounds, my neck has that constant pain going on. It was an all-day affair with the migraine that time. After three days of constant pain, a doctor-friend visited us and diagnosed my condition. He said I had migraine, and this would persist for a week or so. It will subside eventually, but expect it to return at around this time every year. He prescribed mefenamic acid for the pain, which helped a bit with the pain. And that was my introduction to the world of migraines and painkillers.

And so every year at around September - October, the pain would return for a week or more, and I would always have painkillers with me for good measure. I had gotten so used to knowing when an attack would arrive (there are symptoms) that I would pop a pill immediately so as to alleviate any further progress of the pain.

The late 90s was a turning point in my painkiller-popping career. Mefenamic acid no longer worked! I took a couple of 500mg tablets. A third. Nothing. That was when a colleague recommended Avamigran. And it worked!

The migraines eventually disappeared and did not surface for a couple of years.

That was until last Sunday, when I had an attack inside the bus going back to Manila. I had no medication on me, and I cannot go anywhere to buy some. The cold airconditioning must have triggered it so I hid under my jacket and tried to sleep it off. It worked. The pain subsided a while later.

I thought it was just a reaction to the cold, but it came back yesterday in the wee hours of the morning (which prompted me to take the morning off as I stayed inside the room. No lights, no TV. And then it came back last night too!

I went to the local drugstore to buy Avamigran. The counter attendant requested for a prescription. Huh? Uh oh. Now, it's a prescription drug? With no other option, I bought mefenamic acid instead. Then when I came back, a friend and fellow sufferer recommended Flanax, and he gave me a couple of tablets. I have not yet tried Flanax because mefenamic acid seemed to work for this bout. But I'm taking comfort in the fact that I have medicine when it attacks again. Anything than banging my head against the wall.

22 August 2005

Time space warp, ngayon din!

Jeff of Dubai Chronicles tagged me for this interesting bit of time travel. Here goes...

twenty years ago
[1985] I was second year high school then. At the height of the eighties! We generously spread vaseline gel on our hair or - after school hours - the variety with glitters on it. I went through the pins and metallic buttons on shirts phase. Baston pants, baggy pants, mismatched clothes. We joined a school competition and danced to the beat of Like a Cannonball by Menudo. I watched a Spelling Quiz contest, got most of the words right, and regretted not having joined. Our Social Science class asked us to do an essay on something I have forgotten. I didn't know it was a contest. My piece was chosen, but there was another contest right during lunchtime and I did not fare well, thanks to hunger pangs. Yes, I missed a lot of opportunities that year. Must be why I like writing these days. Met three of my best friends this year, and we still keep in touch. Sophomore year was one of the most fun years of my life.

fifteen years ago
[1990] Third year college. Got into the ECE course (first two years was general engineering subjects). Working student in the Library. Got a really difficult time balancing my schedule between work (1-5PM) and studies. But I had a lot of fun working. June 16 was a terrible time for Baguio City. We had the magnitude 7 earthquake. I was at the basement of the St. Louios Library with colleagues (that's where our office was). We first felt a slight shake, which stopped. We all stopped working and looked at the ceiling. We were about to resume work when the quake came full force! We embraced posts as we ran to the adjacent Medical Library which had an exit going to the nearby gym. We were about to go out when the shade at the entrance collapsed. We were nearly crashed on. I saw my bonsai plants which
I display at the Medical Library fall off the cabinet and the bookshelves topple on top of each other like dominoes. After the major seismic activity, people from outside called out for survivors and they pulled us out. We were lucky: we only got minor scratches. Funeral parlors got overbooked with corpses and had to provide makeshift extensions outside their shops. We had to deal with the occasional aftershock too! No electricity, and we had to save up on water. We had to line-up in grocery stores to buy canned goods and noodles. We are thankful they did not raise prices and made these things available to all.

ten years ago
[1995] I was just about to complete my first year as a working member of society. I was not doing very well in Sales, and so management decided to move me to Systems Engineering, a new department they were creating. October of that year, I went to Silicon Valley in California for a two-week Conference on the Sniffer, a network troubleshooting tool. It was my first time to go out of the country, and I was all alone! I landed at Los Angeles, and then I did not know what the next step was. I wandered in this huge airport, feeling dwarfed out. And then I saw the Delta Airlines schedule going to San Jose, which was part of the itinerary. I crossed my fingers, booked a ticket, and rode on this small plane. The house I stayed (owned by Mariott Residences) was haunted, by the way.

The following week, my boss joined me. We went to Disneyland Anaheim and had the time of my life. Star Tours was the best! I silently celebrated my birthday changing time zones as we flew back to Manila.

five years ago
[2000] After after six years' worth of working with the same organization, I suddenly felt that I needed a change of career. There was so much work to do and I felt being spread out too thin. And so February of that year, I resigned. I worked for a Web Development / Network Security company. I was having fun in my work but on the seventh month, I felt that I strongly missed the work I once did. No kidding. I missed the fast-paced business life. And my colleagues. I ventured to try to go back and talked to my former boss. Come September, I was back in my original office, this time working on the corporate website and eventually doing Marketing. I like my job.

three years ago
[2002] I got married! Many of my officemates went to Baguio to attend. They say it was one of the more well-attended weddings in our office, inspite of the fact that it's 6-hours away from Manila. Went to Boracay for our honeymoon. It was both our first times to go there and it was fun. We vowed to go back again.

last year
[2004] In November, we went back to Boracay! This time with four of our friends. We learned that my wife's pregnant! We went to Boracay by boat, then we went back to Manila by plane. Not because Tina would become tired of the trip, but because we did not have a boat ride going back :-).

this year
[2005] Tina delivered Jose Carlos at 9:44AM on June 18!

I was in Baguio. Baby Jo-Lo said his first words! Is that normal for a two-month old baby?

last night
I was in the bus on my way back to Manila.

I'm at the office catching up on work. We had an event last Friday so I'm taking it a bit slow today. We will have an ingress at the Shangri-La Edsa later for a Call Center Trade Show.

We have a partner event in the afternoon, a photoshoot for an awarding ceremony in the morning, and a meeting with the giveaways supplier for our golf tournament.

next year
I want to be halfway done with my debts!

five-ten years from now
I will be debt free and in the middle of a progressive business!

Wow, I never realized how interesting the past years have become for me. Thanks Jeff! I have never been good at responding to tags (I passed three actually), so I will leave this as an open invitation. Try it!

18 August 2005

Got coconut milk?

See the Lasang Pinoy Round-up at The Pilgrim's Pots and Pans

I received an e-mail from food blogger Stefoodie and asked if I would be interested in joining the First Lasang Pinoy Food Blogging event. This is the food bloggers' way of commemorating Ninoy Aquino and his staunch dedication and pride for the Filipino.

While I do not have a food blog, I have to heartily say yes! to this worthy endeavour. For, as my regular visitors will surmise, I am Filipino through and through in my consumption of gastronomic delights.

The time when Ninoy Aquino made the ultimate sacrifice and the important Philippine events that followed after that is actually quite a blur to me, for I was not in Manila that time, and I was still in high school. I remember, though, seeing the events unfold on the broadsheets and on TV, culminating in the People Power . Who would forget the day the top story of newspapers were "Marcos Flees", in allcaps?
Well, I don't have exactly a food association with those events because we were far from the center of climactic events. I have photos though of my family in various occasions flashing smiles and proudly showing the "L" sign with our thumb and pointing fingers.

But I admire Ninoy Aquino and his determination. Most of all, in the way he looks at Filipinos. I wish we can also always look at ourselves in that light, and love our country.

Filipino cooking is one aspect of our life that I love. The simplest things can turn into a culinary showcase! Take gata (or coconut milk), for example. We can do so many things with it. For merienda fare, we have guinataan, a sumptous blend of sago, langka, saba, camote, bola-bola [just some of the many things I do not have the english equivalent of :-)]. And have you tried guinataang bayabas (guava)? Simpy delicious. Rice cakes with coconut milk are simply the best.

For meals, we can mix gata with just about anything. Fish, crabs, shrimp. Mouth-watering delights! Even the simplest dish becomes an excellent companion to rice. Such as laing, for example. Shredded gabi leaves in gata. Add a dose of siling labuyo (small red and green peppers) for good measure, and it's sufficient to appease many an appetite.

My neighbors would usually go out on weekends to a fish market to buy clams and fish, enough to feed their families, and with lots to spare for the neighbors. They'd cook outside using firewood and make it look like a neighborhood cook-out. No occasion whatsoever. Just cooking and sharing for the fun of it. And they would also cook laing. Lots of it to go around. But bring your own rice :-).

Filipino food and the Filipino trait of sharing is just one of the many things that make me truly proud of my heritage. Kain tayo!

17 August 2005

Chinese Theater

Aside from the Saturday Fun Machine on Saturdays (duh), there is one more weekend show that we kids looked forward to in the 80s. It's the Sunday Chinese Theater on RPN9 on ... you guessed it: Sundays.

No, we didn't know how to speak Chinese then, and we don't know not to speak Chinese now. But the costumes and the people flying in these half-hour episodes of martial arts soap operas were too good to resist.

But in addition to that was this show about Chinese cooking. This lady would cook ingredients foreign to us that we would venture a guess exactly what that thing was she's cooking. Is it a mushroom? An animal part? We didn't know for sure, but we sat mesmerized as she dumped one thing into another on that huge wok of hers.

And so when I turned on the TV set last Sunday and saw this segment running on TV did I have the most wonderful of flashbacks. And in the very familiar layout too! The RPN9 logo at the upper right, the digital clock on the lower left, the huge banner with Chinese characters at the back, and the lady with the huge wok.

I speculated, just like old times, what this Chinese lady on TV was cooking up this time as I laid down on the sofa (I'm a professional couch potato come weekends). I'd swear it's the same lady from the 80s and she hasn't changed one bit! Must be some excellent youth-inducing food she's cooking up. Or was I watching reruns?

13 August 2005

Thank goodness for weekends!

Yes, I am looking forward to a restful weekend as my office computer hasn't exactly been very cooperative lately.

Yesterday, I e-mailed our Sales group and they received this single e-mail 12 times! Our Network Admin looked into the problem and he discovered that my e-mail client has reached twice the amount of e-mails it can handle. 2GB in all. So he re-configured my inbox and it looks ok so far. I just hope this problem didn't extend to customers I have been corresponding with.

And then, I was writing a rather lengthy document on MS Word when wham!. This error message popped before my unbelieving eyes.

It definitely is catastrophic. Wait a minute ... if I click on the OK button, does it mean that this catastrophe is ok with me? How come there isn't a NOT OK button?

Why is it that when you are doing something important, that's the time when things don't cooperate with you? Murphy's Law?

PS for some reason, I cannot make comments on my shoutbox. So I will just put my latest entries here:
Teacher Sol, visit ka lang when you have the time. No pressures, no worries :-)
Abaniko, ok rin blog mo so I linked you up as well.
Doc Emer, we're good. Thanks for visiting!

11 August 2005

Mango madness

Receiving this dried mango treat from Cebu as pasalubong reminded me of the time when I was an Account Manager and travelled outside Manila to set meetings with our clients and evaluate their requirement.

I was in Leyte several years back and I was discussing with the Information Technology Head (who was American, by the way) of a multinational company their connectivity requirements to their Manila office.

It was nearly merienda (snack) time when one of the employees went into the office and placed some fresh, sliced mangoes on the table. And so we went on discussing unhindered the business on hand as he took the spoon and scooped up a manageable size of mango.

He popped it into his mouth and his face went wierd. I remember I was the one talking then and I stopped in mid-sentence because his eyes were really wide open and he had stopped chewing! I was about to call for help (is he choking? is he allergic to mangoes?) when he suddenly blurted out:

"These are the best mangoes I have ever tasted!"

I exaggerate not. I heaved a sigh of relief and we stopped the meeting for a while as he savored the mango.

This incident also reminded me of this other American guy from the same company when we did our occular inspection in Leyte. We had to stop every now and then because he was delighted in seeing the vast expanse of ricefields and he took close-up shots of the carabaos (water buffaloes, I think) to show to his kids when he got back to Nebraska. And how he exclaimed "THAT is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life!" when our companion showed him what the inside of a balut looked like and how to eat it (we were having a round of drinks then while waiting for the boarding time to Manila. Nope, he did not venture a taste of this delicacy).

It's strange how it takes the eyes of a stranger to make us realize how blessed we are of natural resources, and how we take these for granted until they're gone.

05 August 2005

Farewell, Mr. Roco

I voted Raul Roco in the last Presidential elections. And I believe he would have made a difference, hawaiian shirt notwithstanding.

Here's an excerpt of the news article from INQ7.net. He was destined for something great even at an early age.

Roco was born on October 26, 1941 in Naga City, Camarines Sur province. He finished elementary at age 10, and high school at 14. At 18, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the San Beda College.

Roco was a delegate to the 1971 constitutional convention and served as the youngest president of the Integrated bar of the Philippines, serving from 1983 to 1985.

He later served as a staffer for martyred senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., during which, he helped draft the Study Now, Pay Later law.

He also dabbled in film making during a break from legal practice in 1974, co-producing "Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang [You were measured and found wanting]," a critically acclaimed and multi-awarded movie.

He served as representative of the second district of Camarines Sur from 1987 to 1992 before being elected to the Senate, where he served from 1992 to 2001.

Roco earned the moniker "honorary woman" of the Senate for espousing women's causes. He also authored, among others, the law that reformed the Central Bank.

During the 1998 presidential election, Roco placed third behind House Speaker Jose de Venecia and former president Joseph Estrada.

[above photo borrowed from kababaihan.org, where his accolades and condensed biography can also be found.]

04 August 2005

Made in the Global Village

International trade and commerce has truly affected the way we do business. Oftentimes, the cost of manufacturing goods always dictate where these are made, even if it means outside your own shores.

A friend once told me an interesting story that manifests this. He knows someone who went to New York on business. There's usually an extra day or two reserved for leisure, and this guy went shopping for sporting goods. Among his purchases was a pair of rubber shoes (whose popular brand name I will no longer mention) which he really liked.

So he went back to the Manila and gave pasalubong to his friends and relatives and he proudly showed-off his new pair of rubber shoes. And then he looked at the tag to check where it was made.

It's Made in the Philippines.

02 August 2005

Sinigang na corned beef ?!

I was happily munching my take-out lunch when I suddenly had this idea to take a shot of this unique meal I was having.

For those whose curiosity was piqued by the baby tomatoes in coconut milk, here is another: sinigang na corned beef (corned beef in tamarind soup)! But this was not made by my mother-in-law. It's being served by Sentro, a restaurant in Greenbelt. My colleagues have been swearing by how good this is, so when we dropped by Greenbelt, I decided to try it out. But we had to be back at the office so I ordered take-out.

The waiter would let you take a sampled sip of the tamarind soup, and you may want it to be more sour, or spicier. After which they'd cook the sinigang.

It was an odd combination (the corned beef and the tamarind soup), but it works! The sweetness of the beef mingles with the sour taste of the tamarind, and the soft beef pieces go well with the crunchy vegetables. M-mmmmm! As you can see in the photo, I have mixed the corned beef and soup with my rice in my bowl (which is how I like to eat).

An order costs around P300.00 but it's good enough for 2 or 3 people. Hmmm... Sentro must pay me for endorsing this dish ... :-)

01 August 2005

Happy Birthday Igor !

I was out last Sunday. No, not out due to hangover. I went out of the house. Which is a surprise becuse I usually just stay in the house and juggle the ever-important tasks of couch-potato duties with watching TV, doing the laundry, and cleaning up a bit here and there.

What could be so important as to let me ignore my routine and get out into the drizzle and the sun? It's Igor's birthday!

We go a long way, Igor and me. I think you can date the history back to 1998-1999, when we became members of CampV5. I was among the fortunate few who had a chance to work with him as a writer on many occasions. And he's quite patient about it too, what with the many deadlines I failed to catch!

I went to Paranaque (which is unfamiliar territory, by the way. Good thing we were able to hitch a ride going there) with Cherry, Cecil, Bibams and her boyfriend. And at the venue, we met Kenneth and Bebert. Well, what do you know. It's exactly the same group of people who met six months ago! Hmmm... if this keeps up, it might the next time we meet, it will already be on December. At least, we do get to catch up...

Igor is also popularly known as the gorilla so that's what we got him for his birthday. Yep, that's Igor Jr. on the above photo with yours truly. And nope, I wasn't drunk when that photo was taken. :-)

Belated Happy Beerday to you Igor, and may you have many more Beer to come!
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