26 January 2007

The more things change, the more things stay the same

I've got two bits of news to share...

Blogger, here I come!

I've finally moved to the new Blogger! It hasn't been allowing me to do so even when it got out of beta weeks ago. But as I was about to write a new post, voila! Move to the new Blogger I did.

I have heard there were problems with the beta phase, such as commenting. I do hope they've been fixed.

Though I'm in the new blogger, expect the same old me doing the food (sorry Princess Em, can't help it; I love food eh), movies, family, stories I enjoy writing about.

Ten years is quite a long time
I have been mentioning in my Baguio blog about my friends in college. There were 9 of us, and we were inseparable. We'd spend whatever's left of the afternoon after school and work (we were working students) together and even walk all over town to accompany each other home.

Wow... how time flies. Each has their own life to live now, we keep in touch from time to time but it's not as frequent as we would like it to be. Here's the best surprise for 2007. One of our friends have come to visit. She was gone for 10 years! She now lives in Canada, and she had a month's vacation to visit the Philippines. She spent a couple of days in Baguio. Prior to that, I also met her for dinner last week.

My wife told me they talked til late in the night catching up on each other's lives, and even baby Jo-Lo joined them in burning the midnight oil.

Ten years has gone, and yet she's still the spunky girl we know. Thanks for the pasalubong, Tess!

Here's to a year of more pleasant surprises. Happy weekend, everyone!

23 January 2007

A whole lot of soup

I've been passing by this restaurant called The Soup Kitchen in Glorietta every now and then, and in each instance I wonder to myself, "what do they sell there? Soup? It answers a lot, given their name, doesn't it?"

Well, I finally knew the definite answer to this mind-boggling question one fine day when some colleagues invited me for lunch outside the office. Unfortunately, that's what other people had in mind. We passed a lot of fastfood stores and saw the lines grow longer by the second. Famished, we thought we'd never make it to the counter to order our food so we found ourselves walking more than four blocks away from our office looking for the shortest queue possible.

Funny how we couldn't stand falling in line but we managed to do a mini-walkathon in the search for fast food! Anyways, we soon found ourselves in Paseo Center where there are two floors of food shops. But what we thought would be a quick find for a table and food became another search for quick service and short lines. And then we saw The Soup Kitchen, which still had a number of chairs available. And there was no line to speak of! And so we moved in for the kill.

And what did they serve? Bread ... and soup! Well, there was also rice but we thought... rice and soup? Nah. Bread it was.

I don't know what got into Dessagirl. She simple loathed vegetables but she ordered something with loads of the green things in it. So imagine her starved state trying to get the veggie-loaded soup into her digestive system.

As for me... I can't even remember what I had. Wait... I remember now. Clam chowder. After a hefty slurping of soup and munching of clams and bread, I was finally able to satiate my hunger pangs. Unfortunately I couldn't say the same of Dessagirl and Irish. After her half-finished soup, we made a beeline for good old McDonalds.

Pauline had good sense in her when she ordered from Kaya (a Korean Restaurant) for bibimbap instead and joined us at the Soup Kitchen.

Got soup?

17 January 2007

Heigh ho, to the Pig's Spine we go!

This was a trek from last year. I received the photos last December but workload was up to the ceiling so I'm finding time to update only recently.

But even if this happened last year, I can still remember the elation we felt when we finally arrived at the much-acclaimed Gulugod Baboy (or Pig's Spine). The place is named as such because a dominant sloping area there looks just like a pig's spine. The added feature of having a huge campsite makes this a favorite among big groups too. Plus, this is a relatively new site so it's not "commercialized" in the sense that there are no sari-sari stores around, no coconut juice along the way. Well, we missed the coconut juice of course but Gulugod Baboy is the place to go when you want to really feel that you "left civilzation".

We commuted on the way to Batangas, and it was already around 9 when we arrived at the base. As we surveyed the area, I thought I might get sunburned again (I turned mildly red at Mt. Maculot). Surprisingly, the trek here was shorter than the one at Maculot. It has been said that the trip going to the peak will only take 1.5 hours. But we're not like the ordinary guys out there. Nope. A level 1 climb takes us 4 hours to traverse. And this climb was not an exception. It was already mid-afternoon when we arrived at the peak. Which was not so bad at all because the sun was mid-way through its journey and the weather was cool.

It's quite windy up there, but not strong enough to blow down our dome tents. Cooking with charcoals was out of the question though, so we munched on the unroasted marshmallows instead.

What joy! The scenery was just wonderful. There were a handful of other trekkers as well, and a jolly bunch they were. Friendly atmosphere overall.

What a great time to unwind from work... really worth the weekend to go somewhere to just simply be with friends, cook whatever is there, enjoy the scenery, not think about how things are at the office... even just for a weekend.

15 January 2007

Song-Do Korean Experience

In one of our company presentations to a customer, Team Marketing was tasked to look for a suitable venue that has ample space for a presentation, and at the same time, have lunch as well. After looking at over five venues in the Ortigas area, we finally settled for a Korean Restaurant. This one's named Song-Do, and is located at El Pueblo near St. Francis Square at the back of SM Megamall.

While Pauline and I were comfortable with our choice, it turned out that our Sales team weren't as optimistic, especially when they learned that we have to remove our shoes, and that not everyone might enjoy Korean food. But their doubts were dispersed when the guests arrived and were delighted at the unique venue. They felt like they were in a Koren TV drama which is taking the local TV primetime slots by storm. And they didn't mind taking off their shoes at all. It's all part of the Korean dining experience after all.

We didn't have to squat all throughout the presentation; the space underneath the table is hollow so you can sit in the normal fashion. This is for the semi-private place; they have regular tables and chairs too, with stoves in the middle for Korean Barbecue.

At lunchtime, we were served a variety of appetizers. There was, of course, the kimchi. Pauline and I had bimbimbap which is also a popular food item because of the Koreanovelas.

They have this strips of beef that look like bacon that they cooked using this contraption over the stove. Yummy.

Song-Do is a very friendly place with a friendly price. And it's a relatively new place too, so it's spic and span. Highly recommended!

10 January 2007

How [not] to make a hot choco drink

Scrumptious delicacies sought after during the Christmas holidays abound in the Philippines. We have puto bumbong, taho, rice cakes, salabat, a hot choco drink.

It is the latter that I was reminded of when, in one of our organizer's meetings for our Christmas Party, Ma'am Sue shared with us her recipe for a really unforgettable hot choco drink. The thick syrup would slide down your throat and leave that chocolatey taste ever so pleasingly. And she told her story with sparkling eyes. Man, I simply had to try one of those.

Her recipe called for Hershey's cocoa powder. Put Hereshey's into boiling water and stir constantly. How much of it is up to you. When you ladle out the mixture and when it pours down as a thick syrup, then it's good. Add in evaporated milk and sugar to taste.

Sounds simple enough.

Not. We went to three different groceries in Baguio looking for Hershey's. Nada! We settled for Ricoa instead (though Ma'am Sue said Ricoa results in a rather bitter drink). As I wondered how many spoonful it takes to make the water syrupy, I decided to mix in the milk and sugar a bit ahead of time. I scooped out a cup and handed it to my wife.

She ever so slowly took a sip and declared, "bitter."

I took a sip and said "Hmmm... it's ok." Yes, I was salvaging my dignity. In the end I drank all of it up to show how delicious it was. Yum yum...

Oh well. Better luck next time.


To end my holiday rambling, here are the last batch of photos from our Christmas party. These just arrived from our photographer.

We had a dance number! After sooo many years, I danced in front of 0ver 200 people! It's the 80s once again!

We had a Memorabilia contest at the party. Lots of eighties entries! Songbooks and casettes, toys (I loved the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the Ghostbusters movie), giant coloring book, photo albums. The E.T. below is mine. If I were eligible to join the contest, I would have won something too I'm sure. My entry will be ... myself!

We wish for a prosperous year, both in material wealth and in our well-being. Happy New Year!

08 January 2007

Home is where the heart is

I had a rather different Christmas last year than the past ones... for one thing, my younger brother Dodi is in the Middle East. He usually did our video coverage and kept the overall energy of the party up. He would put up the disco lights outside the house, bring out the speakers and play Christmas and dance tunes.

And then my parents said they could not be able to cook anymore like they used to, so they told us to just celebrate Christmas eve in our respective homes, then visit them on Christmas Day instead. So my elder sister agreed, and our youngest decided to go to the province to celebrate Christmas with her husband's family.

It was a totally different Christmas from all those years where we celebrated it at my parents' house. It felt rather odd. I will definitely want to celebrate this year's holiday with them.

At any rate, we made the best of the holidays by preparing food and inviting my wife's brother's family and my mother-in-law to spend Christmas eve at our place.

Here I am cooking the barbecue. It's the first time we tried using this electric grill. The barbecue tasted strange using this contraption, a wedding gift from four years ago. When we didn't like the taste, we decided to go for charcoal grilling instead. That was more like it!
Here I am at the kitchen with my brother-in-law slicing and dicing away.
Jo-Lo with his cousins from Tina's side of the family.
We played cards while having red wine during a lull in the night activities.
Loads of gifts to open! We did not put these under the tree because Jo-Lo would have a field day with these.

We had our noche buena and opened gifts. It was a simple yet fun holiday for us all. Head on over to Jo-Lo's blog for photos with my parents!

04 January 2007

Holiday memories

Well, what can I say? Time does fly when you're having fun. Before I know it, I'm back in the office catching up on work.

I'd say least year was one of the quickest holidays ever. For one, I had to go back to work inbetween Christmas and New Year. Got loads to do. And when I got back to Baguio, I spent considerable time doing the groceries and shopping with my wife, who was also loaded with work so she wasn't able to buy the necessities for the Noche Buena and gifts.

I will post a couple more articles about my holiday, so please bear with the holiday hangover.

I loved our company Christmas party because our theme was the jolly old 80s! I learned that a couple more organizations had a similar theme as well and we were actually invited to these too but due to time constraints (we were part of the organizing team for our party), we weren't able to do so. In fact, I had so little time to look for my 80s get-up that I simply bought a red shirt with Macoy (that's President Marcos who decreed martial law that covered part of the 80s) and Kenneth (our web designer) loaned me a polo shirt on the party itself. Harhar.

There were balloons on the stage, along with some posters of 80s movies, toys, and TV shows on the walls, and of course a mirror ball! Here are some photos of the event:

Welcome to the 80s party!

Dessagirl, Irish, and me on the stage.
Team Marketing! [L-R] Joana, Kenneth, mini-me, Pauline.
Here are my camera-shy officemates.

Doesn't she look like Eula Valdez?!
Packing up while dancing after the event. We were running all over the place, coordinating the lights and sounds for the presentations, the raffles, the games. What the heck. It's one of the more fun parties we've had.
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