Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: Buon Giorno

Cuisine: Italian
Location:Cliffhouse, Tagaytay, Philippines

The food was great! For starters, I absolutely loved the minestrone, which was the perfect comfort food for a cold and windy night. The soup fit well with the bruschetta, which was served with cheese, tomato, and basil. The margherita pizza was not oily at all. The salad was refreshing as well. Then the entree came: I ordered pink salmon risotto with asparagus... it's a bit salty for my taste; otherwise it's also good.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Calaruega 25jan09

Impromptu trip to Caleruega, a set on Flickr.

Another trip to Calaruega. The mission: go beyond the church and the retreat houses, and reach the koi pond and the hanging bridge. Clouds made the sunlight less harsh, and made interesting pictures.

Hanna Odejar

While having some down time in my cousin's house, I took the opportunity to take some photos of my niece, Hanna:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Review: Lions for Lambs (2007)

Genre: Drama
A film starring Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, and Meryl Streep is expected to be great; hence, I waited until "Lions for Lambs" was shown on cable (being busy on my thesis during the movie's theatrical release). The movie was on the War of Terror told in three angles: a professor and his student, a senator and a journalist, and two soldiers on their first assignment.

Though I was expecting more action from this film (because of the two soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan), the arguments between the student and the professor, and those between the journalist and the senator, were all compelling. Indeed, these discussions may not present any new position or preach a new strategy, but these provide different points of view; foreigners watching on the sidelines can glimpse at what is going on in America. Movies could be reflections of one's version of reality after all... a social commentary, for some.

Does this mean that lions are being sent by lambs to fight the War on Terror? The film does not give a straight out answer. However, it does try to re-engage Americans' interest on this war, and regain their support. In the end, the decisions are not clear, with the ambiguous last scene of Streep's and the student's stare at the television while news on the Afghan front was being flashed on-screen.

I liked this film primarily because it exhibits the acting chops of the three leads.The music was so subtle that I focused entirely on the dialogue. I felt like I was watching a theater performance caught on film.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Murphy's Law

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." 

Earlier tonight, I heard a jeepney ram onto a store's doors. I had just gone out of the car, when the commotion began. Apparently, the vehicle's brakes didn't work, and the driver lost control while descending a bridge. The jeep must have been moving fast because it went over concrete stairs before hitting the store's doors. On it's way to the store, the jeep hit a person, who was rushed to the doctor.

As expected, a crowd began to gather around the scene of the accident. When I got back to my car, the jeep has apparently been removed from the crash scene and was finally back on the main road. However, because it did not have brakes and the jeep was on an incline, it inevitably hit the next object blocking its path: a motorcycle. The motorcycle's driver limped away from the downed bike, and other people nearby once again took hold of the jeep.

I didn't stick around to watch if there would be another accident, specially since my car was just across the street from the crash. 

Kapag minamalas nga naman.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review: Twilight (2008)

Genre: Romance

I finally watched Twilight after being assured that it's not a scary movie. I don't understand what the fuss is all about with this movie... perhaps because I am not a fan of the book series.

Can't wait for the next installment of the Harry Potter series... seven months to go.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama's inaugural speech

The 44th president of the United States of America was sworn into office earlier today (and I watched the ceremony on CNN in the wee hours of the morning). His speech highlighted the troubles USA - he - is going to face once he steps into the Oval Office. And like any good president, he assured the country that those challenges will be met.

I would have expected him to highlight his history-making ascent as the first African-American president, but he didn't (or at least not explicitly). Its absence, I think, is a good thing: he is now president of the American people, regardless of race and colour. Hopefully, his not being a Caucasian could actually bridge the gap between the USA and the countries it is in conflict with.

My favourite part of his speech was:
"... greatness is never given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."
An apt reminder for a generation being swallowed by materialism.

The transcript of his speech can be found in:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lola Estay's New Year party

The whole clan showed up to greet Lola a belated 91st happy birthday on New Year's Day! The reunion was held at the Del Riyo Resort in Brgy Pagsawitan, Sta Cruz, Laguna.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dinner at Max's with the Atengs :)

Mommy and Daddy had dinner with Mommy's closest friends from IRRI on January 6, 2009.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ice skating in the tropics!

Anna, who had won a silver medal in ice skating in a SM mall-wide competition, guided the cousins, nephews, and nieces on the ice. Everyone had fun, including the photographers. :) Too bad I only had the kit lens. I used Biboy's camera, with the telephoto lens, to capture the best shots.

At the Mall of Asia Food Court

Biboy and Ken introduced our moms to each other. Then Hannah and her mom, Ginny, showed up! It turned out that the cousins were there at the food court too! I went to the parking lot to get Anna's skates, then the kids went to the rink for more ice skating.

Tita Ising and Tito Sibing's wedding anniversary

We celebrated their wedding anniversary by way of lunch at Cafe Adriatico and milkshakes and coffee at Starbucks... all at the SM Mall of Asia. It's the first time for Mommy and Daddy to be there. January 2, 2009

the song in my head last year

Everyone has a special song that defines one's experiences at some point. For me last year, it's David Cook's winning song (during the seventh season of American Idol) "Time of My Life." The message of the song was an encouragement to me. It put the challenges I faced last year into perspective.

Time of My Life
(Regie Hamm, songwriter)

I’ve been waiting for my dreams
To turn into something
I could believe in
And looking for that
Magic rainbow
On the horizon
I couldn’t see it
Until I let go
Gave into love and watched all the bitterness burn
Now I’m coming alive
Body and soul
And feelin’ my world start to turn

And I’ll taste every moment
And live it out loud
I know this is the time,
This is the time
To be more than a name
Or a face in the crowd
I know this is the time
This is the time of my life
Time of my life

Holding onto things that vanished
Into the air
Left me in pieces
But now I’m rising from the ashes
Finding my wings
And all that I needed
Was there all along
Within my reach
As close as the beat of my heart

So I’ll taste every moment
And live it out loud
I know this is the time,
This is the time to be
More than a name
Or a face in the crowd
I know this is the time
This is the time of my life
Time of my life

And I’m out on the edge of forever
Ready to run
I’m keeping my feet on the ground
My arms open wide
My face to the sun

I’ll taste every moment
And live it out loud
I know this is the time,
This is the time to be
More than a name
Or a face in the crowd
I know this is the time
This is the time of my life
Time of my life
More than a name
Or a face in the crowd
I know
This is the time
This is the time of my life.
This is the time of my life.

What song will catch my attention this year? 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Aureline's despidida: aka Christmas party part 2 :)

For Aureline's last day at work, we had lunch outside for a change. We ate at Kamayan sa Palaisdaan in Bay, Laguna. Everyone seemed to have fun. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

IFSA Christmas costume party (2008)

the theme of this year's IFSA Christmas party

A party I sort of crashed into because I wasn't planning on attending it at lunch time. In the end, however, I became an unofficial member of the documentation team all because I had my trusty camera with me. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

... and now there were two

The reality that the holiday season has ended has come at last. Fireworks have been spent, the Christmas gifts have been opened, and the holiday food have all been eaten. The Epiphany is over a few days ago, and devotees of the Black Nazarene are currently now in Quiapo, Manila risking life and limb to touch the statue while its is being transported back to the church from Luneta Park. 

Anna and I have said good bye once again to the balikbayans in our family; the first time was the hardest, but the second time isn't less sad. Life goes back to what has been "normal" in the last four years. Everyone will be back to his/her daily routine by Monday.

Their leaving reminds me of the final chapters in "The Return of the King" (J.R.R. Tolkien): one by one, members of the Fellowship returned home. In the end, only the hobbits were left to go back to the Shire.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I don't know whose bright idea this is, but it seems like someone had a field day last year installing rumble strips on the national highway in Laguna. If I'm not mistaken, there are about seven or eight sets from Halang in Calamba to just before the road going up to PCARRD and Jamboree in Los Banos.

Yes, these are traffic calming solutions that alert sleepy drivers and remind them to slow down because they are approaching a highly dangerous area; however, four sets of rumbling strips with less than two hundred metres between each set has become excessive that it's plain silly! Each time my car passes over one set, I fear that parts of my car would fall apart! Then there would be another set in about two seconds! This is at the Monte Vista area in Pansol. Wouldn't it take just one rumbling strip set per accident-prone area to jolt a driver awake from the monotony of the road (if the obstacle course of a southbound expressway at its present state can be called monotonous)? 

Now that's just the drivers' point of view. How do the residents take this relatively new installation on the highway? I would presume that if these strips could wake drivers up (who just go through these strips once on a trip in each direction), then the people living along the highway would always be jarred awake with the BRRRRRRRRRRR sounds every single time a vehicle passes by. And with many vehicles passing using this bit of road, a lot of people must be losing sleep. Indeed, I think that some have begun thinking that these strips are a nuisance... a set of strips looked as if they have been scraped off or flattened near the water district pumping station in Bucal... these would no longer be of any use to warn drivers that there is a railroad crossing up ahead.

So, once again, I'm in a quandary: these rumble strips bring "music" to my ears and wake me up when I get drowsy while driving. On the other hand, these strips could damage the car. I certainly don't like these strips, but is it worth tearing them down, as apparently being done by the people living along the highway, who probably shouldn't even be living in that area? Destroying these strips is certainly a lot of government money (I assume that the government had these installed after a lot of thought and planning) gone to waste.

Christmas lunch 2008


Christmas lunch 2008, a set on Flickr.
We had lunch at Tita Tessie's house before going to the cemetery to visit Lolo Bats, Papa Mallari, and Tito Nani.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Post-Christmas Dinner at Tita Tessie's (2008)


Post-Christmas party 2008, a set on Flickr.
Tita Tessie's Christmas dinner was held off until December 30 to give way to the arrivals of the balikbayans. The Mallari side of the family, and some friends came by to visit as well.