Showing posts with label experiences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experiences. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The last flood experience?

Five years ago, we endured what we now look back to as our last flood experience. Here are some photos from that time when rains brought about by a typhoon flooded many areas in Metro Manila and its surrounding areas including our subdivision in the lower part of Antipolo City in Rizal Province.

The view from our old house on August 20, 2013
The view of the street from our former home on August 21, 2013
Another view of the flooded street from our former home on August 21, 2013.

I recall that after we came home from Singapore, we weren't quite ready yet to purchase property and build our new home. And so we ended up renting in condos in Quezon City and BGC during the rainy season where we stayed mostly on weekdays. On this particular day, one car was with the Clairvoyant and I already advised her against coming home that day. I left our other car (which was revived after it sank during Ondoy in 2009) at the university and rode with an officemate and came home before the flood waters rose.

This was the last serious flood we experienced and I say 'serious' because flood waters invaded our home. It was not as bad as the Ondoy of 2009 or Habagat of 2012 though as the water inside was only about 100mm at the deepest. By comparison, Ondoy was about 2m (scary!) and Habagat about 1m inside our home! At the time of the 2013 floods, our nbew house was already under construction and we were already looking forward to moving out of what we called home for 9 years.

The following year 2014, we moved out to our present home in upper Antipolo City. It would be quite improbable for our area to be flooded now and in the foreseeable future and hopefully, 2013 would be the last flood experience.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Looking back at Ondoy/Ketsana 2009

I started blogging back in 2008 and I was not really in to it at the time. I found writing to be somewhat cathartic for me after the floods of Ondoy/Ketsana so I wrote more frequently since then. Here's something I wrote a few days after Ondoy. We were reeling from the losses and could only wonder about the what-ifs.

Post deluge

My mind was full of ideas of what to write after going through what water resources engineering or hydraulic engineering textbooks term as a 40- or 50-year flood. From my experience (and I am a certified flood veteran) I am more inclined to say that what hit us last September 26 was actually a 25-year flood. I am basing this interpretation from the 1985 flood that inundated our village of Kasibulan in Cainta. Our whole family and all others from the subdivision had to evacuate our home when floods reached waist-deep at road level. We found safe haven in the factory across Imelda Avenue. The guards allowed us to seek refuge in the huge steel structures that housed heavy machinery no longer operating after the factory shutdown because of a labor problem. The striking workers actually assisted many families in getting to higher, safer ground that day.

Fortunately, no one from our village drowned from that 1985 flood. But it left a lot of deep scars that painfully reopened every year for the next 10 years that we were to experience flooding - not as terrible as 1985's but some comparable if you weren't used to them. A lot of memories were lost in those floods. My parents' wedding photos were lost including many of their photos before they got married. We were able to save many photos though - mostly mine and I'm afraid those were all damaged if not wiped out by typhoon Ondoy. We shared the same losses with our neighbors and made people closer in our village. In fact, we there were many of use there who studied at Lourdes Mandaluyong and one of our neighbors happened to be the high school principal at the time. Mr. Ben Dayo would always vouch for us when we claimed we had to miss classes because we had to help in cleaning our houses after the floods receded. I believe those floods have somehow influenced me as I grew up.

I wanted to believe that the floods in Town & Country wouldn't be deeper than what I had experienced in Kasibulan. I desperately wanted to believe that it could get deeper. But it did. When the clairvoyant and I bought a house there, one of the information I sought was about flood experience. Referring to the designs of the houses as well as neighbors stories, our home was supposed to be safe with the deepest flood experience in our area reaching only our gate. We were fortunate to have ample space in our second floor rooms. The clairvoyant and I were able to transfer our books and other personal properties with the help of Manang Aileen with an efficiency anyone can be proud off. Most importantly, we didn't have to abandon our home like many of our neighbors and we always had non-perishable food and drinks stocked. Many, we discovered afterwards, weren't as lucky as we were. We all lost our vehicles that day. Most cars went under overnight and emerged still parked in what everyone thought were garages that were flood-safe. But that's another story.

I was able to save my stamp collection from my parents' house in Kasibulan. Many items from an old brief case (what was my school bag when I was in high school)survived including old letters and bookmarks I had put aside as souvenirs from visits to Kamakura. These included old bookmarks from Tatay's visit to Kamakura in the 1960's.

The past days were blessings in that another super typhoon veered away from Metro Manila and still another will not hit the country. I honestly want to believe again that I won't experience another flood of that magnitude in say, 25 years (not the 40 years that would probably be much more damaging). If there was one thing I didn't want to share with the clairvoyant I guess an actual experience of such a flood would be it. But we did share the experience and we came out survivors (not victims as other people might label us) and I would rather believe that we came out better and will be stronger for this. We still have, after all, our faith.

We learned our lesson well and now live in a flood-free and better neighborhood in Antipolo. We are also glad that our daughter would not have to experience what we went through along with the floods due to the monsoon rains of 2012 and 2013.
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Friday, April 13, 2018

On inflight meals again

During my recent travel to the Netherlands, I decided to take Emirates in order to have more manageable (for me) times in flight. The flight between Manila and Dubai was about 7 hours while the flight between Dubai and Amsterdam was about 8 hours. My layover in Dubai was 4 hours. That meant a lot of time to walk around and get my bearings between long flights. I have also been informed that the inflight meals on Emirates were better than most airlines even on economy. I must agree with that observation and I’m now posting some of the “stolen” shots I took of the inflight meals.

Breakfast served on the Manila-Dubai leg of my trip
Breakfast on the Dubai-Amsterdam leg of my trip
Menu on the Dubai-Amsterdam leg of my trip
Details on the meals served on the flight between Dubai and Amsterdam

The lunch selection was okay and I always thought that one doesn't have to consume everything served to you inflight. Eat and drink just enough so you won't feel hungry or thirsty on a long flight. Check out the food if the taste suits you. If you don't feel like eating or it doesn't taste right to you then perhaps you should pass or opt for some light snacks. I do recommend drinking more as you tend to become dehydrated especially on long flights.

I refrained from taking photos of my meals back to Manila but they were again alright compared to most inflight meals I've had. I guess the better ones I've had would be those on my long-haul flights to and from the US via Japan Airlines (JAL). Of course, I am sure that other people would have other opinions about inflight meals including those who categorically state these are unhealthy. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. :)
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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Late lunch at the Enschede outdoor market

I returned from Arnhem and decided not to return to my hotel but instead take a walk around Enschede and maybe check out where the open market will be on Saturday. I was surprised to see an even bigger outdoor market than Arnhem's at the Van Weeksplein. The market at Enschede featured a lot of stores spread out across the wide area. The market's usually organized on weekends and holidays.

As I didn't have lunch in Arnhem (choosing instead to walk around the city center and had a small snack), I decided to have a very late lunch at past 3 PM. That lunch turned out to be a sandwich I purchased from one of the many stands offering grilled burgers and sausages.

Popular sausage and burger stand at the open market - there were a lot more patrons for this stand so I decided to check out what many people queued for here.
Bratwurst special with a generous serving of dressing and pickles
I like these outdoor markets for the variety of food they offer. I did write about one in Sydney last year. The one in Enschede was certainly one of those nice experiences that you wish there were more like this in the Philippines. There are at least three outdoor markets that I am aware of where you can get excellent food in Metro Manila in the weekends - two are in Makati (Salcedo and Legaspi) and another in Quezon City (Centris).
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Monday, April 2, 2018

First meal in Europe - Happy Italy

My first meal in Europe was...Italian! That should not come as a surprise considering this is usually a default choice for me if I am not knowledgeable of the restaurants in the place I am visiting. In this case, I really didn't bother researching about the restaurants in Enschede and based my decision more on what I felt like a restaurant that has a simple menu and many people patronizing it. The other restaurants looked too fancy for me though cost-wise they were okay. I thought, too, that the other restaurants were good if I had company. I had none.

This looks like a good motto for life.
I ordered this pollo a funghi pasta. It turned out to be a big serving and I had to take half home to finish it the following day.
The restaurant's main attraction was their pizzas. They had some good ovens there and all the ingredients were fresh. I also noticed a lot of people ordering meals for take away (take home).
I took home a copy of their menu as a souvenir. This side shows the pizza selection.
This side shows all the other items except their gelato, which was on another card.
Happy Italy is a chain and so at least I have established that they serve good food with very generous serving for pastas. I thought this would be a good reference for future trips to the Netherlands.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

On Visita Iglesia and overlooked churches

It is now the Holy Week and many people are likely to go on a Visita Iglesia this Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Visita Iglesia literally translates into 'church visit' and is an annual tradition for many and entails going to seven (usually) churches where people pray; often a novena on the stations of the cross (remembering the passion of Jesus Christ).

In recent years, this has become somewhat a touristy thing and many people from Metro Manila now roam around nearby provinces targeting the old churches in these area. The result can be traffic congestion in places where there usually is less traffic due to the sudden increase in the number of private vehicles generated by churches.

Metro Manila doesn't lack for old churches and among those that will probably be included in a Visita Iglesia list would be the following:
- Malate Church
- Manila Cathedral
- San Agustin Church
- Baclaran (Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help)
- Quiapo Church (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene)
- Sto. Domingo Church
- Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine

And there are many more including those in Marikina, Las Pinas and Malabon that are often not considered; overlooked by those who go for the "major" churches for their Visita Iglesia. Taguig actually has an old church located in the old part of the town that's probably unknown to many outside of Taguig. We usually pass by the church as its along one of the alternative routes to get from C-6 to BGC. I personally have not been in this church but based on the information you can get about it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taguig_Church), it is definitely one to consider for Visita Iglesia.

The Church of St. Anne in the old center of Taguig is actually an Archdiocesan Shrine and founded in 1587.
There are many more around Metro Manila that should be in one's list for this Holy Week but I believe that people should be more focused on prayer even at a single church rather than go around like a tourist (taking selfies or posting about the experience). Perhaps among the sacrifices to be made here are minimizing taking photos and refraining from uploading 'at the moment/ atm' posts. Many people take it for granted that Visita Iglesia is supposed to be a pilgrimage where you renew your faith, and not a tourist experience where you indulge in food and drink.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Food for Lent

It's the Lenten Season once again and its that time of year when meat consumption tends to go down for Catholics. We are supposed to fast and abstain from meat (that's beef, pork and chicken) on Fridays and the specific days like Ash Wednesday, Maunday Thursday and Black Saturday.

Frozen seafood i vacuum packs mean they will last longer in the refrigerator.

I usually get dory, tanguige, tuna and milkfish as part of our food supply. Bangus (milkfish) is usually for breakfast while the other seafood can be cooked a number of ways. Sometimes I get tuna belly for grilling and sashimi-grade tuna for a home-prepared version of this Japanese favorite. And this is not just for Fridays but for the entire week. Of course, I try to get fresh seafood whenever I have the opportunity to go to market. That's where I get our supply of vegetables, shrimps, fish and other seafood from our suki vendors.

There was a bit of irony when Ash Wednesday happened to be the same day as Valentine's Day. Some people (the more religious ones?) were in some sort of dilemma how they can "celebrate" Valentine's Day when it was a day of fasting and abstinence if you're a Roman Catholic. I'm sure they were able to figure that out while practicing abstinence from meat
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Monday, January 1, 2018

Farewell 2017 and Hello 2018!

With just a few hours until the new year, I looked back at a very blessed 2017. This was a very productive year for me and a momentous one. I turned 45 earlier this year and among the things I wanted to do were to travel to new places. I was able to do these with new places both international and domestic. Among my travels this year were my trips to Australia, Vietnam, and Zamboanga.

The Sydney Opera House
Ho Chi Minh City Hall and statue of the man credited for uniting Vietnam
Zamboanga City airport

I look forward to an even more exciting year ahead with new places to explore and more experiences to live. More importantly, I look forward to spending more time with family, especially our soon to be four-year old daughter who is growing and developing so fast before our eyes. Here's to life and love!

God bless us all this 2018!
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Monday, May 1, 2017

The Chi Spa at Shangri-la Mactan

It seemed appropriate to celebrate Labor Day by writing about something we like to have at the end of some busy days (even weeks or months sometimes). We love having massages and used to go regularly to a spa along Katipunan Avenue. That spa closed many years ago despite what seemed like good business they were getting. It was a legit one and not like others that provide "special" services that's associated with the more sleazy establishments.

I usually have massages when I travel and have them at the hotel where it is most convenient. Our favorites when the wife and I do have the chance when traveling or 'staycationing' together is at the better hotels that have fine spas as part of their facilities. Those include Sofitel and Marriott Hotels.

I first learned about the Chi Spa from the wife. Later, I learned more about it as I read reviews and so I looked forward to having a massage there. I did have one early this year, an early birthday present from the Clairvoyant when we stayed at the Shangrila Edsa Plaza. On vacation with our daughter last April, we decided to have our massages at the Chi Spa at Shangrila Mactan. We were not disappointed with the

Gateway along the path from the main wing of Shangrila Mactan
A view of the entrance leading to the Chi Spa's main lobby
The spa is practically a compound within the expansive Shangrila Mactan grounds. You get your treatments at one of the cottages in the compound. And there are a lot of facilities for one to use including the sauna and the jacuzzi. Of course, treatments at Chi Spa are on the more expensive side but I would say that it was well worth what we paid. The services and facilities are excellent, and the staff are very professional about their work. I am already looking forward to the next vacation at Shangrila Mactan.
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday musings

Maundy or Holy Thursdays these days don't really feel like what is was many years ago. For one, people seem to be no longer going to the churches for religious purposes. People appear to go on Visita Iglesia these days more like tourists rather than the faithful on pilgrimage. This is evidenced by the massive amount of selfies and other posts on churches and other religious places visited today and tomorrow. In other words, its more for show than for one to strengthen one's relationship with God. Do you really have to take a photo and post about the church on social media real time? Do you really have to "check-in" wherever you are tonight as you go for your seven churches?

Then of course there are the travelers who take advantage of the long week off to hie away to a resort somewhere in the country or abroad. I'm sure everyone's social media accounts have lots on their newsfeed about friends or acquaintances posts of beaches, resorts, hotel rooms, airports, train stations and others about travel and tourism. It's peak season for tourism facilities in the Philippines and those who can afford to travel do so to escape the heat and other discomforts of Metro Manila never mind how inconvenient the travels would be between their homes and their destinations of choice.

In my case, I have preferred to stay at home during these times of the year. While catching up on work is tempting (I have lots of exam papers to correct.), it seems inappropriate to do that during these holidays. Instead, the Clairvoyant and I have done some housekeeping, clearing various stuff from our cabinets, drawers and other storage. We've also taken the opportunity to spend quality time with our daughter and checking on our parents. That, I believe, is more valuable than going around or somewhere during the Holy Week.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunrise in Mactan, Cebu

I have posted a lot of photos of sunrises and sunsets in this blog and on social media. Among my favorites are the sunsets in Panglao, Bohol and Puerto Princesa, Palawan and the sunrises in Tagaytay, Cavite. Of course there are the sunsets over Metro Manila that we have had the chance to take photos of on many occasions from on top of the highest point in our village.

On a very recent trip to Cebu where went on vacation, I noticed for a couple of mornings that the sun rose early and the hues from our room indicated how beautiful they were. Unfortunately, I was still sleepy or too lazy to get up and capture the scenes. On our last morning in Mactan, Cebu, I made sure I would be up early to see the magnificent sunrise from our hotel room. We didn't have professional cameras but our smart phones did a great job capturing the following images. These have not been filtered or altered or enhanced in any way. I guess with such beauty you can't really go wrong with any camera? 

Here are three photos of the sunrise from Mactan, Cebu taken before 6:00 AM and only minutes apart:




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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chi Spa, Shangri-La EDSA Plaza

One of our guilty pleasures is getting a massage. We find massages soothing, relaxing, detoxifying - if done the right way. I've experienced massages where the therapist seems to be going through the motions and you can tell that by in many ways including the way they transition from one part of your body to the other. In certain cases, the therapist can't seem to estimate the right amount of pressure she's supposed to apply so that it won't be painful during and after the massage. Among those we've gone to are Nurture Spa in Tagaytay and Sofitel's Le Spa. These two have good menus of massages and we think their staff are well-trained. Last December, I finally was able to go to EDSA Shangri-la's Chi Spa, which is supposedly one of the best spas in the country.

Impressive lobby
Lounge area where clients wait for their turn of service
Another section of the lobby displaying spa products for sale
I just had to take a photo of this exquisite chandelier hanging in the middle of the lobby
We were served tea while we waited to be called
Inside the changing room - the showers, toilet and steam sauna are in this area
Massage tables in one of their suites
The view from the seating section just across from the massage area
Seat where you can wash
Entrance to Chi Spa from the hotel building
Chi Spa didn't disappoint and their service made you feel really cared for. I thought the massage was one of the best if not the best I've had for some time now. It was very relaxing and definitely a pleasant experience. I already look forward to trying out Chi Spa at Shangri-la's Mactan resort.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A tale about two good people - Part 2

After I brought Manang to the airport, I went straight home in order to catch up on some sleep. I was only 3:30AM then and I sped along C5 and was making good time when the tire alarm went off. This indicated at least one tire was loosing air and so I had to make a stop somewhere. I ended up at a familiar Caltex station just after the overpass above the Pasig Boulevard. There I discovered my rear right tire was flat and I just had to change it with the spare.

After jacking up the car, I had trouble removing the wheel with the flat tire. I knew I needed a steel pipe so I could easily loosen the screws of the wheel so I walked towards the nearby junk shop where I found a small group of scrappers just finishing their transaction with the shop. I asked if I could borrow a steel pipe and one scrapper volunteered to help me change tires. We ended up with him doing all the work while he constantly told me it was okay and that I was probably tired from the driving and that I was lucky the tire didn't blow up while I was driving.

After changing the tire, the person stood up, took my leave and started to walk away. It was clear to me that he wasn't playing coy and he even gave the parting "ingat po" as he walked away. And so I did what I thought was the right thing to do, offering food to my good Samaritan as I asked him to join me inside the pandesal shop at the station. I told him to get whatever he wanted to eat and drink and he was quite shy about it so I told him he deserved it for the help he gave me. I also gave him some money as we parted ways. It wasn't much but he did good, honest work and that deserved a good reward.

Rare are these people who extend their help without asking for anything in return. I thought I had met just one of those people and so I rewarded him generously. I hope he's well and doing good.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

A tale about two good people - Part 1

I had wanted to write about a couple of experiences very early in the morning during the last day of October. I just could seem to get into the mood though and could only manage a very rough draft. There have been a lot of other stuff to do including some catching up at work where there had been many deadlines for reports as well as on my lectures. Then, of course, there is the temptation to write about the heinous burial of a despicable (to be somewhat kind in the use of the word) person. I write this as a sort of pambawi since this is about two persons who did good despite their situations.

Our helper for about 8 years whom we affectionately call Manang finally went home last October 31. She had wanted to go home last year after some difficulties with the situation about her daughter but she was able to make arrangements during her trip there and came back hopeful about that matter. Manang has a special child who is already in her teens. Most of her closest relatives including her own children didn't want anything to do with this special child. This caused a lot of pain for Manang as she grappled with trying to understand why this is so and interpreted this as her own personal challenge in life. Still, she gave her 100% to our household and was selfless in her service. She was the kind of person who will not ask for a day-off so we had to "force" her not to work on certain days. 
 
I believe her faith allowed her to keep her composure and even sanity throughout what she considered as trials in her life. She wasn't overly religious but she was very happy to be in Antipolo and be able to go to Sunday Mass at the Shrine to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. She also mentioned to us several times that she prayed for us and we thanked her and expressed our appreciation that she included us in her prayers. We can only imagine her being so generous this way.

One of Manang's most challenging moments came early during her tenure when, in 2009, she experienced first hand the terrible floods brought about by Ondoy (Ketsana). She actually also asked us if she could go home after a few months and we only requested for her to find a replacement despite what we observed were signs of depression brought about by the floods. She recommended one of her daughters who wanted to come to Manila at the time. Inday, worked for us for many months until Manang decided to come back. The former transferred to my sister where she became yaya to my niece and nephew. She is back with us now as nanny to our daughter after a stint in Tagaytay where she worked at a store. Meanwhile, Manang has returned home after also finding her replacement. But of course, she will never have a replacement. You can never really replace a person whom we considered more as a relative, a loved one whom we've become close to. Our daughter affectionately refer to her as Nanay and Manang always had a soft spot for our daughter.

Thank you for taking care of us Manang Aileen Taipen. We wish you all good things especially with your family and specifically your daughter Cutie. We hope to see you again soon perhaps when our own daughter can already travel and maybe go to your hometown in Kabankalan, Negro Occidental.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Black Saturday musings

In my younger days when we spend our Holy Week holidays in my father's hometown of Cabatuan, Iloilo, Maundy Thursdays and Good Fridays were busy days. The Mass commemorating the 'washing of the feet' was Thursday afternoon and usually extended into the evening. I think those were the longest Masses I've participated in and were generally longer than Christmas or Easter Masses that I have also experienced in Cabatuan. The part of the washing of the feet was usually held with much fanfare especially during times when there were alumni homecomings for the town's National Comprehensive High School and when there were elections in May. There was a time when the apostles included the mayor, vice mayor and councilors of the town and the parish priest seemed so deliberate in emphasizing his moral high ground in his homily and the ceremonial washing of the feet. There was a Last Supper reenactment at the town plaza after the Mass.

Good Friday's were even busier with the Stations of the Cross  in the morning that started from the town's centuries old church to their version of Mount Calvary, which is a hill located in one of the barrios not too far from the town proper. The climb up used to be a treacherous one as the steps were narrow and were carved out of the hillside. Later, when I was already in university, the steps were already improved and made of concrete. They were also wider, allowing two-way traffic without having to stop and give way to others. The Stations of the Cross started before 6 AM and usually ended before 8AM for those who followed the main entourage of the priest and participated in the prayers. The rest of the people who joined in don't really seem to be in it except for the 'barkadahan' (fellowship) part, which was all about the merriment aspect of the event rather than the spiritual part.

In the afternoon, people gathered in the town plaza to await, join or watch the Good Friday procession that also started from the church and went around the town passing through the major streets of the bayan. I remember that there used to be less than a dozen carrozas with their santos (religious images depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ) when I was a boy until the time when I was a teenager in high school. Later, there seemed to be more than 20 carrozas that comprised the very long procession. It seemed to me that the organizers of the procession, which included church officials, allowed the additional carrozas and santos from the 'emergent' families of the town who suddenly had the wealth to purchase their own santos and build their carrozas. Having your santo and carroza was a status symbol in old towns like my father's. The old and prominent families of the town owned the old santos but the younger, newer money (mainly from OFW families and those who have established themselves in the US and Europe) were accommodated for one reason or another. 

I used to go with my aunts, cousins and friends on these Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Tatay used to take advantage of our vacations to reconnect with our relatives and friends including his high school buddies. The last time I was there, I went with my aunt and cousins but my childhood friends were no longer there. Most if not all have moved our to reside elsewhere particularly as many had to find work in other places. Truly times have changed over the years and Tatay's hometown has also evolved along with its people. I just hope that the town does not lose its charm and that when I do visit I could still reminisce happy days whenever I go around.
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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Teppanyaki at Somerset

One of the things we missed about Singapore was eating out. After checking in to our hotel, we found ourselves walking to the nearby SMRT station to board a train to Orchard Road. We alighted at Somerset to check out if our old food haunts were still there. We found that there was no longer a Din Tai Fung at the Somerset mall. The old Ramen Play resto was also no longer there. Marche was still there but we decided to go for the teppanyaki at the top of Somerset.

I know its Maundy Thursday but here goes a couple of photos of the set we ordered for our 'heavy merienda'. The Clairvoyant wasn't able to have lunch so we decided to have a heavy enough meal before taking a walk along Orchard Road.

Beef and seafood

Scallops and prawn
The teppanyaki came with a generous serving of salad and a cup of rice. Afterwards, we decided to go around the mall a bit to see what other changes were there before taking our Orchard stroll. More on our Singapore sentimental weekend soon...

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Monday, February 8, 2016

A bit of neighborhood history

We transferred to our current residence almost 2 years ago. We have made friends and acquaintances in our neighborhood over that time and when we go around for walks or jogs, we already have a healthy number of hello's and hi's among the people we meet along our route. There are many foreigners in our village and it seems a lot of them are here not only because they work or have schooling (many are missionaries working and/or taking courses in a nearby seminary) but also because its a good neighborhood with a very nice environment. In fact, we've seen many homes with cars bearing diplomatic plates so I guess these are families whose members are working for embassies or agencies like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. The wife and I even joke among ourselves that we seem to be living in a white neighborhood. :)

The more interesting neighbors are the elder residents of the village. We always greet them when we pass them during our walks and they almost always are eager to have short conversations. We have one neighbor who is of Spanish descent and she is always cheery and has a lot of stories about the old neighborhood. She's very proud of her grandchildren and is always malambing to our daughter.

Recently, we met an elderly man who was clearing his front yard of dried leaves. He also has a lot of stories about what the old neighborhood looked like and how it was with residents. I mentioned my old grade school buddy who lived along the same street the old man was residing at. He knew their family and pointed to a new house where my friend's family's home used to be. It is always nice to know about the place where you live. Ours is one of the oldest if not the oldest residential subdivision in Antipolo. There's been a recent wave of homebuilding and relocations in the village; infusing new residents and young ones to the neighborhood. We like our home and our daughter enjoys her walks and her interactions with new friends - young and old.
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy birthday Ally!

Our daughter celebrated her 2nd birthday yesterday. We decided to have a big celebration and invited close relatives and friends to the party. They, of course, came with their kids (of all ages). We had a blast and the venue, "Mom & Tina's" along C5, was just perfect for children and adults. Here are a couple of photos before the party before our guests arrived.

Dessert buffet - it was actually the adults who were excited about the dessert
Setting up before the party
We had heavy merienda for the guests but everyone, especially the adults, were excited about the dessert buffet. Mom & Tina's is famous for their desserts especially their tortes. I think I've written about the Dark Toblerone Torte and Mango Torte before. These are delightful treats to young and old alike. 

This Mom & Tina's also was a bit sentimental for us as we used to have quite regular dinners here. That was years ago when I fetched the wife late afternoons or evenings from her office at Bonifacio Global City. She didn't know how to drive then and traffic was not so bad along our route. Yet, there were times when traffic was bad or she had to finish a bit later than our usual sunduan time so we ended up having dinner along the way. Of course, that was years before we had Ally. Nowadays, we are excited to rush home to our daughter!
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Friday, January 1, 2016

Sunsets at year's end & greetings for the new year

Definitely not every ending is a sad one but not everyone gets the "happily ever after" that they wish for. Sunsets to me are always beautiful. While they seem to be farewells, the positive thing about them is that they also represent a promise. That is, a promise of a sunrise and a new beginning the following day. I start the year with a greeting - wishing everyone a prosperous and healthy 2016!

A Manila Bay sunset taken from the Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel grounds last Dec. 29, 2015.
Minutes later, one is rewarded with a view of the evening sky with remnants of the light from the sun
Here's a toast to new beginnings, a fresh start as we welcome the new year!
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Of foggy mornings and a warm December

The late and last typhoon this year to affect Metro Manila and our area in Antipolo brought in much needed rains before Christmas. The rainy days were also a welcome respite from the uncharacteristically warm December that we have had. It is the second to the last day of December today and I can conclude that this is the warmest December we have had in memory. That, of course, refers to all my 43 years of Decembers. It is climate change affecting us and whoever it is who deny this deserves more than a slap in the face to open his/her eyes to the truth.

Nevertheless, the typhoon brought us some very cool mornings and nights and some heavy fog (definitely not smog) over a few days. Here are a couple of photos taken from the back of our home (not) showing the mountains enveloped in fog. A third photo shows the conditions along Sumulong Highway where the visibility is limited by the fog.

This is to the east and you cannot see the top of the mountain as well as the many houses there. Note the roof at the corner of the photo as this will be a reference in the next picture.
This is an even thicker fog with the foliage in the background obscured. That house there is the same one with the roof in the first photo.



Rain and fog limit visibility along Sumulong Highway. This is during the day a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure it was tougher for travelers once it was nighttime and I hope people were more careful driving then.

We don't expect any typhoons this January. It is even rarer to have extreme weather this time of the year. But then that 'extreme' should not refer only to rains and winds but instead also refer to warm temperatures like the ones we experience the past days including last Christmas Day. I do hope that January and February will be cooler even if its just the night times and mornings. It just doesn't feel right to have warm weather this time of the year.


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