Thursday, July 29, 2010

Native Bag Shopping in Bicol

I am a bag-a-holic. I was about 5 years old in the photo below. It would be easy to spot me... guess who's the only angel who has a bag?

I still remember that bag. It was a small square red bag with a butterfly design in front. My Mom got it for me and I always had it with me. That bag started my love affair with bags.

Some people find it strange that I prefer native bags. I had a collection of it. HAD because they all perished during typhoon Ondoy. Most of them were from the 100 bags that I bought in Daraga, Albay. I sold most of the bags, but kept about hmmm... ten percent of it.

I've been trying to rebuild my collection of bags, but I've just managed to buy 2 from Davao. I had a 24-hour long trip to Legaspi, Albay last week and managed to squeeze in 30 minutes to go bag shopping. The hotel crew told me to go to Tahao for pasalubong shopping. It was bag heaven (but would've preferred to go to Daraga, Albay).

Typical pasalubong shop in Tahao, Legaspi, Albay.

Here are four of the bags I got during my trip. Good thing I brought an extra bag. I had to limit myself though because it could only house 3 bags.

I hand-carried this bag since it's quite big. I would've gotten the blue version but thought this looked more eccentric. The blue one looked dainty.

I got this bag because it can match any outfit. I have a similar clam-shaped hand-bag which I got in Davao but it's smaller.

I loved how they used maong on this bag. I got the bag because it reminded me of a similar one I had which typhoon Ondoy ruined. It's an upgrade though because it's bigger and I like the maong straps.

I consider this to be my toy bag. They had it in several colors and I had a hard time choosing. I almost got it in blue, red and green too, but I decided not to because it might shock Sweetie too much and I don't have that much space at home.

Guess how much I spent for these bags?

*map to Tahao

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cafe 5845, First Ever Cheese Cafe

I love cheese, so fresh from Legaspi City I went straight to the opening of Cafe 5845 at the Mall of Asia (it's just beside Cabalen/IMAX). Cafe 5845 is a project of Kraft Eden Cheese and Magasaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (MIHCA). It is the result of the Guiness World Record event where Kraft and MIHCA made 5, 845 unique-cheese based dishes last December 2009. 

Ï love the "Cheese Dynamite" dish. I am not a fan of eating sili (chili) but this one was stuffed with cheese and coated with breading (not sure about the right term, but like tempura). I was apprehensive that it would be spicy, but was assured by the food server that it wasn't. I loved it from the first bite (I wish Kraft would come out with the recipe!). (Sorry forgot to take a photo of the dish).

The cafe will have a different menu everyday and will be open only until end of August. Price is also very affordable so your one hundred pesos will get you a snack and a drink already. Tip: bring a fan since the venue is open-air.

Here's a couple of the dishes that were served during the opening:

Cafe 5845 is located at the SM Mall of Asia North Living Seaside Boulevard area (facing Manila Bay/SM Hypermarket side). It's in between Cabalen/IMAX/Friday's and Don Henrico's.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Majestic Mayon Volcano

I am Bicolana. My Mom was born in Pamplona and my Dad was Ateneo de Naga's basketball rockstar in the 1950s. I am a hilaw na Bicolana though because I cannot speak the local dialect, but I do understand it fairly well. I also fail at eating spicy dishes, but I absolutely love Bicol dishes (sans siling labuyo).

Locals always tell me that I am lucky that everytime I go to Bicol the Mayon Volcano shows itself. When I arrived early Friday morning I couldn't help but utter a loud, "Wow" when I saw the Mayon from the plane's window. The majestic Mount Mayon commands you to look at it. I have seen the Mayon many times already but I always find myself in awe of its beauty.

I have many happy childhood memories of Bicol and I can still clearly remember when I was a toddler my Dad would bring me up to the roof of the Apolo ancestral house (it's the base of the Moderna Bakery) in Naga. Early in the morning one could see (if you are lucky) the Mayon. Most of my drawings when I was a kid include coconut trees, our beach and the Mayon Volcano.

Best time to visit Bicol and see the beautiful Mayon Volcano is during the non-rainy season (December to May).

PNoy's First SONA, Solutions not Lampoons

President Noynoy Aquino's first State of the Nation Address was direct to the point and littered with a lot of data. It was totally different from that of the past president's SONA which was full of self-praise and bola. What I liked about his speech is his call to have everyone walk the straight path and help our nation. It is a good reminder that our nation will not rise by itself, we all have to work hard for it. Of course it helps to have bottomless optimism.

Service. That's what my Dad instilled in me since I was a kid. In fact my Dad has a whole book about it entitled, "Solutions not Lampoons". If you are interested to read it please leave a comment with your address and number (or leave a message here) and I'll try to send you a copy.

Thank you P.Noy, you have inspired me to work even harder to be of service :)

Some great links:
Copy of the 2010 SONA of President Simeon Benigno C. Aquino III
Archive of Tweets with hashtag SONA2010
Video of the 2010 SONA (part 1 and part 2)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ateneo Alien

Saw this alien draped on the old Ateneo library last weekend. It's made of orange electrical tubes (not really sure what it's called). Thought it was cool.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mouth Watering Singaporean Dishes

I had a rare treat the other day when I attended lunch hosted by the Singapore Tourism Board. I arrived early and had an animated conversation with Lee about Singapore, Filipino food, Filipino places, politics and quirks! I told Lee that he holds the record for the most talkative Singaporean I've met and I was really surprised with his knowledge about the Philippines and our unique characteristics as Pinoys.

I've been to Singapore countless of times and I've done a lot of write-ups about it in the past few years. Most of those posts were about food and a couple about Singapore tourist spots. I confessed to Lee that in the past year I have been obsessing about milk tea (thus my tea blog with Drew) and that I have been supermarket hopping in Singapore to find the best instant milk tea.

The highlight of the intimate lunch was the authentic Singaporean dishes prepared by Heritage Hotel's Singaporean chef. I lit up when I saw that the menu included mee-goreng. Mee-goreng is my most favorite Singaporean dish and have attempted to cook it twice already (both attempts failed), so I'm on the look-out for the best mee-goreng locally.

The Singapore Slaw. I didn't really know what to expect from the salad since it was my first time to eat it. Mixed the veggies and dressing after taking a couple of photos and then ate a forkful. I was surprised that the colorful combination was delightfully flavorful and tasty. I actually craved for more when I got home.

Nyonya Meatball Soup. Linelle explained that Bawan Kepeting is traditional soup like our sinigang/nilaga. It takes about a day to prepare this soup. I was surprised to see a lot of ginger in the soup and thought that I wouldn't like the taste. I thought wrong. The ginger added a lot of flavor to the soup and the meatball (which tasted like siomai) was a great complement.

Singapore Laksa. I have a confession to make. Inasmuch as I've been to Singapore numerous times I never tried the laksa because I was scared! Before I tried it out Sweetie exclaimed that it was really spicy. That got me nervous. I found it really spicy too, but I soon realized there was nothing to be afraid about the laksa because it was really delicious. I'm fond of coconut based dishes (that's the Bicolana in me) and I liked the rich flavor of the soup.

Mee-Goreng. My favorite Singaporean dish of all time, need I say more? I did impress Lee though when I told him that I knew the difference between Chinese and Indian mee-goreng. Haha. I hope to perfect this dish before the year ends.

Hainanese Chicken Rice. It's been years since I last ate this dish because I developed allergy to chicken. I was unfazed though because I was hungry and really wanted to eat chicken again (it's been 18 months!). Linelle explained that Heritage Hotel imports chicken since our local chicken isn't fat enough for this dish. And guess what? I didn't have an allergy attack. Linelle also mentioned that this dish was made by Chinese immigrants when they arrived in Singapore. Definitely a dish you should have when you go to Singapore. If I remember correctly it was the very first dish I had during my first visit to Singapore back in 2003.

Sago Gula Melaka with Ice Cream. There's a certain twist in this dessert that I couldn't pinpoint. I liked it anyway.

There's one easy way though to enjoy these dishes anytime - move to Singapore and work there! Harold from Stratworks mentioned that a TV news segment said there are 100,000 jobs available in Singapore. Singapore government has made it much easier to find a job through Contact Singapore and did you know that you can actually get a one year pass to find a job there?

I must say that based on experience, Singapore is an easy place to live in. Everything works like clock-work and commuting is a breeze. There is also so much to see in Singapore, check out my Lakwatsera Ako travel and food blog for more stuff about Singapore.

For more information about visiting Singapore as a tourist, visit And for more details about finding a job in Singapore visit

Thank you Lee and Linelle for the awesome experience!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Won John Lloyd Cruz, I Mean... a Phone

I have a confession to make. John Lloyd Cruz has been my crush for the longest time and I have watched most (if not all) of his movies and telenovelas. I also watch ASAP every Sunday whenever I'm home to see his antics with the other Kanto Boys.

We were destined to meet I tell you (haha!). I have had to pass on several invitations to meet him in the past because I either had meetings or the event was out of the way, but I knew that someday I'd finally see him in the flesh. Good thing my dear friend, Juned, reminded me and Sweetie about the event today. Things just fell into place since Sweetie and I were scheduled to go to Quezon City.

So you can just imagine how excited I was about the event. I immediately stood up to take John Lloyd's photos when he arrived (so I can show them off to my Mom and her amigas). Kim Chiu, Cherry Mobile's newest endorser soon followed and after awhile they announced the raffle. I was taken by surprise when John Lloyd said, "And the first winner is... Aileen... Apolo... de Jesus!"

And so this is what transpired when I got my bearings and went onstage to claim my prize. John Lloyd even joked that the phone didn't have a battery and charger. So sweet and charming!

Anyway, the chance to have my photo taken with him felt like the grand prize! Hahaha.

Thank you for brightening up my day Cherry Mobile, John Lloyd and Kim. =)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Isumbong ang Taxi Driver na Yan!

I've been planning to make this form for at least 2 years now, but I've always managed to calm down after a bad taxi ride experience. Coming from the LCF Expo this afternoon I experienced another taas kilay incident. If you ride taxis as much as I do there are usually three things that would irk you:

(1) Taxi driver won't take you to your destination (this is usually followed by a passionate door slam)
(2) Taxi driver will ask you for additional surcharge before you get in, or
(3) Taxi driver will ask you for additional surcharge once you're inside the cab

And then usually the taxi driver would either:

(1) Tell his sob story about how hard it is to be a taxi driver
(2) Rant about the traffic and its bad effects on their earnings

You get it worse if you are a foreigner since some taxi drivers would charge exorbitant amounts (I experienced this once when I was with 2 guests from abroad).

So I thought I'd finally put together this form and find a way how to get it to the proper authority. I've been riding cabs for more than ten years now and nothing has changed. Tsk tsk tsk.


P.S. If you are from the LTFRB I know you have this form but I'm not really sure if it works. I reported a bad incident once and I was told that I was going to get a report, but I never did.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


So we all thought that typhoon Basyang was one of those mahinhin ones. By midnight she was battering our home like how a Gargantuar does it on Plants vs. Zombies. We all thought wrong (except Pag-asa of course).

Winds from typhoon Basyang woke me at around midnight. I woke Sweetie up and told him there was a helicopter hovering above our house. He said it was just probably the wind and promptly went back to sleep. I peeked outside the window and saw trees dancing wildly. I also saw flashlights bobbing up and down from within neighbor's houses. And then I heard the sound of a metal sheet (yero) flapping around.

Eventually Sweetie got up and closed the windows. It was either we get wet or we feel warm. The winds got muffled a bit and that was the time I finally fell asleep. I know there are far worse typhoons but when I still lived in my basement most of it were muffled (like Ondoy) and I just usually slept through it. I guess this will be my life for now, sleeping beside a window.

*will add photo later

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2010

This is the fourth year of the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs! I won a car from it when I became part of the top ten back in 2007 (go check it out!). Now here's my list for this year's project:

1. Mabuhay ang Bagong Kasal - it's my marriage blog with Sweetie which we promptly launched on our wedding day. This is where my family and friends keep tab on our adventures and misadventures. 

2. Gagong Kasabihan - Pinoy funnies! The posts really make me LOL.

3. Version Mine - lovely collection of hits done by amateur singers. 

4. Illogical Poet - this blog works my brain and then I realize, yeah illogical nga!

5. - just looking at the photos makes me hungry.

6. Yes No Meh - interesting way to review stuff.

7. Tea, Completely - it's the only tea blog locally. It's interesting how the love for milk tea brought on this blog. 

8. Kusina Maria - I'm a newbie when it comes to cooking so I oftentimes defer to my Dad and Ate, blogs and online friends like Ria whenever I have questions. Ria's a great cook and I hope to be as adventurous as she is when it comes to cooking.

9. Ganda Ever So Much - Orman truly dispels the notion that bankers are boring. I always end up laughing out loud whenever I read Orman's posts (even when he is emo). 

10. Project 52 Weeks - this is Mica's video blog project for the year. The effort she puts in it is truly amazing. I wish I had the same zest she puts in this project. 

The project is sponsored by Events and Corporate VideoBudget hotel in MakatiPinoy Party Food, Copyediting ServicesPR Agency PhilippinesBudget Travel PhilippinesSend Gifts to the PhilippinesBlack Friday DealsRoomrent - units for rent,Search Profile Indexand Corporate Events Organizer

Seven Years Ago

I met up with my colleagues from a previous job last night. We met at our old hang-out place, Wendy's Parksquare, where we used to spend only PhP200 every Friday night. I don't know how five of us would get filled up with just PhP200, but we did.  (Remember my blog "Songs fromWendy's"?).

We decided to meet up last night because Jihan's home from Abu Dhabi. We haven't seen her for a couple of years now and not everyone was present for my wedding last Christmas so it was the perfect opportunity to see each other again.

I will not be surprised if Wendy's bans us on our next visit. We were really rowdy. We just couldn't help but laugh about how things were in the past. It was definitely just like old times (without the booze though!) and everybody was just the same save for the fact that half of us were already married and have kids.

Things were so different for me seven years ago and I never really planned what I'd be by this time. The only thing I envisioned back then was the fact that I didn't want to be working in an office by the age of 30 (and I did!). Seven years ago I actually had the time to curl my hair whenever I wanted to (I even had a curling iron in my office drawer!) and I led a routine life. Everything was almost the same week in, week out, save for the gimmicks every once in a while.

I don't have a routine now and I can say that I'm definitely happy in all aspects of my life, but one thing I truly miss are my old friends. Good thing though I have several barkadas who I meet every once in a while. I thought I'd make a post about last night's reunion after sifting through our jurassic photos. It made me a bit emo and nostalgic.

Those were the days :)

 2003. This photo was taken after our annual Christmas party. I had my hair up because we had to wear Filipiniana attire to the party (I think I was part of the party committee bleh) and this photo was taken just before we left for our after-party-party.

 2004. This photo was taken after the annual Christmas party (again). Portia curled my hair because I was unfortunately one of the emcees (errrrr!).

 2005. Some of us had moved on to other companies by 2005 (I was still working for the same company) so we just met up at Market Market.

 2006 (I think). One of our get-togethers. Not really sure if it was in `06.

 2007. Still looking young! This was at Max's Market Market. 

 2009. Didn't have a get-together in 2008 and just managed to meet-up on my wedding day. Some were not able to go due to unavoidable circumstances. This was the team though that managed the coordination for the day. It was the reason I didn't have to hire a wedding coordinator.

2010. Thank you Wendy's for not kicking us out last night! Haha. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Google DevFest Manila 2010

Yesterday hundreds of developers converged at the UP-Ayala Technohub for the Manila leg of Google's DevFest.  This event wouldn't have been successful without the help of so many people and I'd like to personally thank them here in this post:

The Googlers: Christine, Patrick, Jeremy, Dan, Timothy, Bob, David and Stephanie for coming over to discuss awesome Google technologies (Chrome/HTML5, App Engine, Social APIs, Maps APIs and Apps). Please, please, please come back!!!

From 2010 Google DevFest

(Not in photo are Stephanie and David).

Ayala TBI, Ayala Foundation and Ayala Land: Rhia and Michi for moving heaven and earth to host the DevFest at the UP Ayala Technohub. Thank you also to the maintenance staff of UP-Ayala Technohub, hope you guys enjoyed all the take home food.

The Philippine Google Technology Users Group especially the managers Pogz, Brian and Jomar who worked out the details for registration and getting volunteers.

From 2010 Google DevFest

The UP Linux Users Group (thanks Mikko!) for volunteering again to help out in DevFest 2010. These students were just froshies back in DevFest 2008. They've also been very supportive with other local projects.

From 2010 Google DevFest

Special thank you also goes to Leslie and her students (from De La Salle University) for helping out with the Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Brian's angels (for the coffee and cups, evaluation forms etc.), and the hubby, Jay, for being my personal angel (alam mo na yun!).

And special thank you for the support: Krispy Kreme (for the original glazed doughnuts) and Aqua Health Guadalupe (Arpee, you are the best!). And thank you Jon and Joy for the great service for the food and shirts.

DevFest Manila was brought to you by Google, Philippines - Google Technology Users Group and Ayala TBI.

For more details, slides, photos, updates and exciting stuff please check out these links:

Join the PH Google Technology Users Group
The PH GTUG Blog for new stuff and updates
The PH GTUG Google Sites page for resources
The PH GTUG Twitter account
The PH GTUG Facebook account
And follow me on Twitter!

And here are my photos!

Link love for photos and resources:
DevFest Manila 2010 Slides
Jerome's post about DevFest Manila 
Randell's photos
Yolynne's photos
Yolynne's photos (part 2)
Yolynne's video of Jeremy Orlow
Vignette style photos by Winston using an Android app
Randell's post
to be updated

Saturday, July 3, 2010

P. Noy Singing!

I was unable to watch President Noynoy Aquino sing live during the street party at Quezon Memorial Circle last Wednesday evening. I only found out about it in the news. I was really, really curious so I looked for a vid on Youtube. Here it is:

Thought it was really cute =)


BTW, Unilever's hosting the "Rexona Run 2010" on August 1, 2010. Details can be found on Rio's website, go here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Morning with Earthworms

Sweetie had to wake me up at five this morning since my rooster failed to do so. Miguel's schoolbus was already outside and pulled out before I could tell the driver to wait a bit for Miguel. Sweetie was surprised that I amped from 0 kph to 100 kph a few seconds from waking up. In no time I was on the phone talking with the schoolbus owner to tell him that the bus left without Miguel. I also complained that the bus always arrived before 5 in the morning! Sheer atrociousness I tell you.

After Miguel left I couldn't go back to sleep anymore. The sun was already peeking from it's hiding place at around 5:15 so I told Sweetie that I was going to do some gardening. Now gardening isn't something I've really done in the past. The most I'd do is water the plants. My Mom though has a green thumb. Any plant she touches thrives and flowers. A lot of our neighbors actually come to the house and have their dying plants rescued by my Mom. One of my Titas brought her newly purchased wheat to my Mom because she didn't know what to do with it. A few weeks later my Tita came back and was surprised to see her plant happy and very much alive.

As for me... well... when I used to live with my parents my Mom would always rush back home whenever she  went on a trip. Why? Because she was scared that her plants would die because of me. So far I've only sent one plant to plant heaven (or herb heaven since my basil died at the start of summer) and I'd like to believe that the brown bush outside was already dead before we moved in.

And so early this morning, before the sun was fully up, I took it upon myself to re-pot one of my plants (I don't know what it is) and plant some oregano. It took me awhile to finish re-pot the plant because a number of creepy crawlies started to show up when I was trying to ease out the plant. And then a big fat earthworm wriggled out and I froze for awhile.

I can just imagine my Mom laughing at me and heard her tell me in my mind, "Ano ka ba earthworm lang yan." So I took a deep breath and scooped out the earthworm from the pot (using the shovel of course) and set it free on the bushes. I breathed a sigh of relief when I managed to take it out. I was surprised though to find 2 more fat earthworms in the pot. Euw euw euw. I told myself though that I had to accept the fact that earthworms are good for one's garden and that if I really want to learn how to garden properly I should get over how I feel for creepy crawlies.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bagong Pilipinas! A New Philippine President

For the life of me I don't know how to express how happy I am about today's historic event, the Inauguration of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and Vice-President Jejomar Binay. (And this is my nth attempt at writing this post).

I have very vague memories of the previous inaugurations. The only one I witnessed firsthand was former PGMA's EDSA Dos inauguration (I was on the Ortigas flyover). It was interesting to watch this inauguration because it followed old traditions. 

I started watching the coverage at around 9 in the morning. As dictated by tradition the president-elect is supposed to go to Malacanang to pick up the incumbent president. He would wait at the foot of the stairs for the incumbent president (the stairway is believed to be the same set that Jose Rizal's mother went up on her knees to beg the governor-general for her son's life). They would then proceed to the Quirino grandstand in one car. We didn't see this when former PGMA took her oath of office six years ago. 

I thought that former PGMA was going to sit through the inauguration, but she only stayed for a few minutes. The AFP honored her with a gun salute and after one final salute she left in her private car. The crowd cheered (jeered?) when she left. 

The inauguration program started with a moving rendition of "Lupang Hinirang" (national anthem) by Charice Pempengco. The textbook interpretation (thank God) made me feel that we are indeed starting a new chapter in our history. After the ecumenical prayer Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile read the Congress resolution for the proclamation of the new president and vice president (not sure about the term). 

Since the new president had to take oath at exactly 12 noon some entertainment was provided and here are some of the songs that were rendered:

Bayan Ko by the Philippine Madrigal Singers
Sabihin mong Ikaw ay Pilipino by Ryan Cayabyab
Minamahal Kong Pilipinas by the Apo Hiking Society
Bagong Pilipinas, Inauguration song

Eventually some of the artists had to sing impromptu songs because the ceremonies started on time (indeed a new Philippines!). Noteworthy was Noel Cabangon's performance which I thought was just right since it was very Pinoy. Finally, the right time came and Vice President Jejomar Binay was sworn in. President Noynoy's oath taking soon followed. After the 21-gun salute, P. Noy's 21-minute Inaugural Address followed.

This is truly a historic day for us Filipinos! I hope we all work hand in hand to bring back the glory of our nation.