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Showing posts from January, 2012

lessons I learned in miscommunication

Lessons from the leadership course I took are applicable to everyday situations. Some lessons are abstract concepts that need time before they could be implemented; other lessons are ripe for the picking. One such lesson is the importance of communication skills.
Last week is what I'd call my "Miscommunications Week".

A family reunion was organized over lunch where everyone had to bring food. Two aunts volunteered to bring shrimp; to have variety with the food, I had to ask both of them to change the shrimp with something else and see who would agree. Since one aunt doesn't answer the phone, I communicated with one of her sons via SMS. Two days of asking if they could bring another food item yielded nothing. On the third day, I sent a more forceful message; at last, a response came: my aunt doesn't cook anything else but shrimp. So I told my cousin that it's okay; I then talked with the other aunt, who subsequently agreed to bring something else.
On t…

My favorite things... six years later.

I had made a list of my favorite activities. Six years later, as I was listening to the cast of the Sound of Music sing about their favorite things, I started thinking: what do I love to do now? I'm adding to the old list because I had fun reading what I've written a long time ago. I haven't changed a lot, I realized... My favorite things six years ago are still true today except that I just don't have the co-hosting stint for Rotary at Your Service anymore.
Taking the road less traveled (and getting lost while at it).
I've got this road map that I take with me when traveling in the Philippines. When I have enough time and fuel, I normally go through the secondary roads rather than the main highway. Naturally, I've been lost quite a few times... sometimes with my now 95-year old grandma in tow. The adventures I've been on! Seeing Mount Malarayat behind sunflower-lined roads; the emerald rice fields between Tiaong, Quezon and Padre Garcia, Batangas; the sunr…

The Sound of Music at Resorts World Manila

The show was awesome!
I've seen The Sound of Music several times already, both onstage and in film (most of the time in film), but the presentation at Resorts World Manila was different.
The production attempted to bring the audience right where the scenes happened through computer-generated imagery: over the hills, under the trees, by the fountain... These animated backdrops were projected via the big screen behind the set. On some occasions, the animation blended right into the scene. As the nuns ponder how to hold a moonbeam in their hands, water continuously flowed at the fountain in the abbey's garden. While Captain von Trapp, Elsa, and Max were talking in the gardens, the view of the mountains and the gardens were kept alive by the fountain and the flight of birds.

However, there were some scenes where the animated backdrop did not work as well as they should, in my opinion. In particular, these are the scenes where the pixels of the images are most pronounced because t…

Celine Dion, Taking Chances World Tour (the Concert, 2010)

After watching Celine Dion's "Through the Eyes of the World" documentary on cable tv recently, I wanted to get a copy of her Taking Chances CD. However, instead of just the CD, I opted to get the concert recording (this CD came with a DVD of the Boston concert, I think) because some of my favorite songs are included in her set list.

I've noticed that the last few CDs I bought were mostly connected to the artists' concert tours (Sting, Maroon 5, and now Celine Dion).

Celine Dion performed "Because You Loved Me" and "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" in a medley, "The Prayer" in a duet with Andrea Bocelli, and "My Heart Will Go On" as the last song in the CD (I don't know if it's the last song in the accompanying DVD). I've associated these songs to memories.

"There were moments of gold and there were flashes of light. There were things that I'd never do again but then they'd always seemed right.&qu…

replacing my rose-colored glasses?

A few weeks of blurred vision and difficulty driving at night finally convinced me to have my eyes checked out. My pair of eyeglasses is two years old, so I thought it's a good time to have it replaced. At the shop, the optometrist took me through the paces of the eye exam and confirmed that the grade of my glasses have gone up: both for astigmatism and nearsightedness. Then came my favorite part: choosing the frame! I always get the ultra-thin, multicoated lenses to fit into smaller frames. The new pair is not available in the shop since the lenses have to be ordered. So now I wait. 
While in the shop, I remember the idiom "wearing rose-colored glasses" which means having an optimistic outlook in life. From what I gather from what a friend has told me years back, I'm the girl who has that attitude, who seem to have always lived in a tower, just like Rapunzel probably. He said it like such an attitude was a bad thing, but is it, really? Is choosing to look at the br…

how to finish vehicle registrations at the LTO in under two hours

For the past few years, I've always stayed at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for several hours either for vehicle registration or for driver's license renewal. At the worst, I spent more than five hours waiting for my registration papers to be processed (this was before the rule against "fixers" inside the LTO was enforced) AND the time I had to get a replacement for my license card... which, at the end of the day, misspelled my name.
Today, I am glad to note, that I finished the whole process of vehicle registration in 1 hr 40 mins, my best time yet. If you're tired of spending more than half a day in registering your vehicle, these few tips might help:

NOTE: These are all based on my experiences only. If you have other ideas, please feel free to post a comment at the end of the post.

A few days before registration, renew or sign up for the vehicle's compulsory third-party liability insurance (TPL).That should give your insurance agent enough time to p…

dinner at Josephine's

Right after the Calaruega visit, we went to Josephine's for dinner. Unfortunately, Taal Lake was too dark for our friend, Mandiaye, to see the world-famous volcano. But no matter... we were at one of the best restaurants in the area (sans the main attraction: the view). 
With all the diet restrictions we had, we ended up with a unique dinner combination: bulalo, sinigang na bangus, and grilled bangus with java rice, garlic rice, and plain rice. Eating at Josephine's never fails to amaze me: each meal there is a different experience! 
But thanks to Ate Grace, there's one constant in my visits to Josephine's. I always order guinumis, the drink that she had introduced to me when she was in the Philippines last year.
The description from the Josephine's menu for guinumis is:
"Tapioca and pinipig (rice crispies) drizzled with coconut milk and caramel syrup topped with shaved ice."
People say that it's a perfect refreshment during the summer, but for me, it…

impromptu visit to Caleruega

I've always said that if I go out in the afternoon on a whim, I end up in Tagaytay City or in tourist destinations close to it. This was one of those instances. With a few friends in tow, I went to visit Caleruega in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The flowers in bloom may be less colorful but the place still has that relaxing atmosphere that never fails to make me feel at peace... and according to the place's slogan, "closer to God".
My friends, who came prepared with SLRs, took the opportunity to take lots of photos of landscapes and of flowers. I wasn't as prepared as they were so I just took in most of the view WITHOUT taking pictures. After all, I went here on a whim, not for a photo shoot.

Obviously, however, I couldn't take the photography bug off me. I just had to take photos, especially of the great views of farmland and mountains that could be seen at the peak of the Caleruega camp site. And so, in lieu of an SLR, I just contented myself with the camera in my m…

unraveling the mystique of Isdaan

As the leadership course I was in wound down to a close last week, the participants, the resource people, and the organizers went to Isdaan Restaurant in Calauan, Laguna to celebrate.

Since its construction stages, I have been curious about this restaurant because the giant sculptures kept on changing. At the earliest stages, I thought I was seeing a statue of a gorilla. A few weeks later, I'd realized that I must have made a mistake because I was looking at a Buddha statue. Then later on, that statue seemed to have magically transformed into a Hindu mermaid princess!

The restaurant is certainly a crowd drawer. From what I'm hearing, people need to make reservations to make sure that they have a table on the day that they're visiting. It's nothing to wonder at though: there are so many things to see in Isdaan aside from eating. It isn't just a convenient stop over from the monotony of the road. It is also a destination in itself.
To prove this point, there is a …

what happened in Vegas... got blogged

Las Vegas was home away from home, away from home for a weekend. Aside from watching KA and the Lion King, going round the factory outlets, and eating at hotel buffets and at Asian restaurants, my family also walked the long stretch of the Las Vegas Blvd.
When I first visited the USA a few years back, the pilot of my Denver-Oakland evening flight announced that if we were lucky, we would be able to catch a good view of the lights of Las Vegas, particularly of the light beam from Luxor's pyramid. At the time, I wasn't able to see the lights but I got curious because the lights must be very bright to be recognizable in the dark. 
The pilot of that flight had been right. On this latest trip, I was amazed at how bright the Strip is at night! All buildings seem to be on fire because of all the light bulbs -- it was like (and much brighter than) driving by Concha Cruz Street in BF Homes Paranaque during Christmas time many many years ago!

Aside from enjoying the lights of Las Vegas…

Filipino food right on the Las Vegas Strip

A catch up post, yet again... ---
The advantage of having Ate Grace and Kuya Nat arrive ahead in Las Vegas is that they were able to search for good places to eat. :) And so on my last day in Las Vegas, they recommended to Mommy and Daddy a restaurant in the Hawaiian Marketplace called Kapit Bahay Filipino Fast Food. I was so surprised to see a Filipino restaurant smack in the center of the Las Vegas Strip! 
The restaurant setting was very different from the formal and the buffet restaurants we've eaten in. It's typical of the restaurants I go to in the Philippines (the office cafeteria, for example): just point at the food you fancy from a few selections in a glass case. The server puts them in bowls, gives you a plate with cupfuls of rice, allows you to collect your bottled beverage from the nearby fridge, and then collects your payment at the end of the queue. The only difference between Kapit Bahay and the restaurants I normally eat at is the size of the serving. Kapit Bah…

big healthy breakfast at Morucci's

And a third catch up article... This one's about food, for a change. ---
Tired of greasy burger patties and fries? Biboy, Mommy, and Daddy were. So instead of introducing me to typical diner food on my first hour in the USA, they drove me to Walnut Creek to eat at Morucci's, an Italian deli. 
There were so many choices of sandwiches that it was very confusing. I ended up with the avocado, sprouts, and cheese sandwich... and I absolutely loved it! I was just intimidated by the breadth. It's huge! I think it's equivalent to about a burger and a half in the Philippines. Despite the huge size, the sandwich was light and not overly filling. The avocado added creaminess to the crunchiness of the sprouts. Both cheese and sprouts contributed to the flavor of the sandwich. The restaurant was true to its slogan: "The food is good". 
I started my vacation with a healthy meal. This set the tone of the rest of my eating experiences during my recent vacation. My family bro…

a day at the Grand Canyon West

Still playing catch up on my travel posts...

Where the Diamond Bar Road ends is where the Grand Canyon West begins. Private vehicles are not allowed beyond the parking lot, so to reach the viewpoints and the SkyWalk, tourists have to take the hop-on-hop-off shuttle from the Visitors' Center. Tourists there are given a few options depending on their budget; in our case, we opted for the Legacy Gold Package. The $87.81 per person (tax inclusive) rate includes visits to the viewpoints and entry to the SkyWalk. The meal was included in the bill too.

Eagle Point At first glance, I didn't get why this place was called the "Eagle Point". I saw robins and ravens, but no eagles (yet). I got Biboy's telephoto lens ready just in case I see interesting wildlife while at this site. Indeed, the wildlife is very different from what I'd see in the tropics: I was on all fours chasing after squirrels and what looked like mayas on the grounds. But the biggest animal of all w…

the road to the Grand Canyon looked familiar...

After reviewing my posts, I realized that I barely wrote anything about the Las Vegas and Grand Canyon legs of my recent vacation. I'm writing them now in case I get flooded by more stuff to write about.
First up: my Grand Canyon road trip. ---
I've wanted to go to the Grand Canyon since I received a Crayola coloring book with drawings of cliffs that take on different hues; it's the very same coloring book which taught me how to draw a dinosaur, a bat, and and alligator. :) As luck would have it, I did go to the Grand Canyon with the family; I thank Ate Grace and Mommy for organizing this road trip of ours.

Our starting point was Las Vegas NV. We rented a minivan there the day after we watched KA. Armed with Ate Grace's list of directions, Biboy's iPad (with Google maps) and his wifi hotspot of an Android smartphone, we turned our backs to the city and took the road to the outback the Mojave Desert.

I'd only seen the red desert of Australia and golden desert of …

science behind choosing plates... and spoons

I've always loved looking at dinnerware in department stores, dreaming that someday, I'll be buying myself a set of white Bormioli Roccos or Corelles or Luminarcs. I don't know... somehow, the food always look more delicious on plain tempered glass dishes with clean backgrounds. Just take a look at the plating styles of all the yummy food at the photoble section on food photography
See? They all look so tasty! 
Notice the background? No? Exactly.
Then there's the cutlery. I like flatware that have minimalist designs, that are durable and are not heavy... and yes, I prefer them to be made of metal. Unlike the dinnerware, I have yet to identify a favorite brand for flatware. However, I particularly like the set used at La Cocina de Tita Moning. I doubt that I could get the same flatware though; the utensils are part of an antique collection! 
I used to think that the my preferences for my tableware all depended on my taste as the table-setter. But it appears that ther…

would you eat in the dark?

"Tonight, you will enjoy a delicious gourmet meal without your primary sense of sight." I was reminded of the movie "When in Rome" (2010) when I came across the article "Dining in the dark: How uncertainty influences food acceptance in the absence of light" because of the pitch black restaurant scene.

It appears that eating in complete darkness is popular in some cities in Europe and North America. In these restaurants, consumers are challenged to test their sense of taste or are invited to let their other senses take over the sense of sight during the meal. But does eating the food in the dark affect its acceptability to consumers?

The authors of the article, using two food products, found out that it DEPENDS... If the food can easily be recognized even in the dark, then it will be accepted by consumers. Foods that are difficult to identify in the dark do not enjoy the same easy acceptance from consumers. Maybe the survival instinct kicks in when people …

reliving Cirque du Soleil's Totem experience through music

After the Totem performance, I just had to get a copy of the souvenir program for my scrapbook. Luckily, the cashier at the souvenir shop said that I could get the CD with the souvenir program with the promo; so I did. A few weeks back at home, I finally got around to looking into the pockets of my suitcase. When I saw the CD with all the mementos I collected during my vacation, I thought I should listen to it when I drive. And so I did...
The soundtrack features fourteen songs from Totem. I honestly have no idea what the lyrics mean because they're not in English but the rhythm was enough to bring back my memories of watching the show. The composers were so successful in blending different genres together that it was difficult to dissect the songs into different styles (for someone like me who's not an expert on world music). There's a healthy dose of North American, Central American, and South Asian influences in the songs featured in the CD, as far as I could tell. Her…