Archive for December, 2007


If there’s one place here in Metro Manila where nothing really changes, it would be the Quiapo area, including Chinatown.  After more than a decade, I was back in the innards of Quiapo and Sta. Cruz.  For the first time ever, I went with my dad to buy Chinese ham at Excelente.  He used to do it by himself since I was little.  Oh, I have been to Excelente with my parents at other times, but never during the Christmas season.  It’s a family tradition dating back to the time of my grandfather.  We were supposed to buy the ham last Christmas Eve (the only time we both had), but didn’t want to brave the mass of people that would surely be there.

Since we were going to Quiapo anyway, I asked my dad if we could also pass by Ongpin in Chinatown to get my favorite pork mahu and Eng Bee Tin hopia.  The first thing I noticed was that nothing much has changed in Ongpin since the last time I was there, which was 3 years ago.  We then went inside Sta. Cruz church for a while, then it was on to Carlos Palanca street for the Excelente ham.

It was a nostalgia trip for us.  I can’t count the number of times I came to this area with my parents when I was a kid.  My parents loved going to Chinatown and visiting their wedding godfather, the owner of Besa Shoes at Escolta.  Then we would usually end up at Carlos Palanca, which was then called Echague, to buy ham and bread.  Ah…those pre-mall years. 😀  My dad knows the area like the back of his hand since this was where he stayed when he first came to Manila as a college freshman up to the time he married my mom.  Even he attested that very little has changed.  Sure, some things looked newer, but that was it.  While walking along Carlos Palanca, I saw a sign that said ‘Vienna Bakery’.  That looked oddly familiar.  And when we finally passed it, I saw that it was indeed our favorite bakery.  One peek and I saw that nothing inside had changed!  It looked exactly as I remembered it from more than ten years ago.  It even smelled the same!  It was the same thing when we reached Excelente.  It was like the only change was that we’re older now…and I’m the one paying for the ham, haha!  When I told my dad about Vienna Bakery later on, he confirmed that it was indeed where we liked to buy bread before…and that it was also my grandfather who introduced that tradition.

Yesterday was a good day – a blast from the past to mark the days leading to a new year.  Sorry there are no pictures.  I was scared to whip out my cell phone, much more a digicam, hehe.  But it’s good to experience the best and worst of exotic Manila.  I swear I felt like a tourist. 😀

Got my planner!

For the first time ever, I completed the required number of stickers and redeemed my Starbucks planner. Many thanks to the double-the-sticker promo, other coffee-drinking friends, Tin’s brother, and the kindness of two strangers who passed on their stickers to me.

The only other time I had the Starbucks planner was the year that they introduced it. Tintin gave one each to me and Rebs as her Christmas gift. I attempted to collect stickers the last two years (helped by the Peppermint Mocha addiction, hehe), but didn’t really put much effort into it. I didn’t even ask Tin-the-coffee-addict to complete my sticker card, though she could easily and willingly do it. But this year, I somehow wanted the planner. I simply liked the cover, that’s it. And I usually get what I want. 😀

In keeping with the Starbucks topic, here’s one of my favorite photos this year:

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I’m happy today…because I also got a Powerbooks gift certificate in the office kris kringle. 🙂 Can’t wait for the long New Year weekend.

My favorite Christmas song encompasses my wishes for everyone this season:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! 🙂

Fire!

A little over an hour before our office Christmas party was due to start, the building’s (Pacific Star) big belen caught fire.

Here are pictures taken using my cell phone:

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That roof deck above was where we had our party. Yes, it pushed through, but started a bit late. My officemate and I were on the 6th floor to see if we could buy gift wrapper at 7-11. We had just entered the foodcourt when we saw a number of people looking outside, and then they started running towards the exit. We ran along with them when we heard them say that there’s a fire in the building. Some were warning us not to panic. We thought that we’re lucky to have our wallet and cell phone with us at that time. That’s really all we’ll ever need in case the fire escalates and we can’t go back to the office. The lobby smelled heavily of smoke when we reached it. There were no more flames when we saw the belen, but there was still thick smoke – and the firemen haven’t arrived yet. Caught in traffic, probably.

I still have bad memories of fire during the Christmas season. Just last year, there was a big fire on our street the day after Christmas. I hope there won’t be such incidents anymore.

The Early Bird

I arrived at the office very early today.  There was very little traffic on the way to Makati.  It seems like everybody went on vacation already.  As is my habit every time I arrive too early, I get off at Ayala cor. Paseo de Roxas then just walk all the way to Makati Avenue cor. Buendia.  I enjoy long walks on cool mornings, plus it’s also a form of exercise, so it’s really no hassle. I usually walk along Valero then right to de la Costa, then left to Makati Avenue.  This morning, since I had an hour(!) to kill, I took a longer route, turning left at San Agustin from Valero then right to Leviste in order to reach de la Costa.  Good route because I found a massage place!  I’m always on the lookout for massage places/spas, but somehow I rarely get around to actually going inside.  But one of these days, promise!

When I finally arrived at the building, I still had 40 minutes, so I went to Starbucks on the ground floor for my Peppermint Mocha fix.  This is bordering on an addiction every Christmas season.  Bad for the budget.

Hmm…I really have to find a way to kill time without shrinking the budget and expanding the tummy.  I wish there’s a library nearby…and one that’s open early in the morning.  Or else threaten Manong and force him to open the office earlier.  😀

Seriously though, I really love walking around the business district early in the morning.  It’s one of the reasons why I love the city.  I am not normally a morning person that’s why it’s such a treat for me.

I moved to my new job so fast that I forgot to even write about it.  I started just two days after my last day in my previous job.   The adjustment period in terms of having someone to talk to in the office was very easy since I’m already good friends with two people here – my officemates in the previous job, hehe!  And at last, I’m not the only writer in the office!   In case you’re wondering, I’m now working at a mobile media company.  I can’t give more details yet since we’re still preparing for the launch of our brand, but I’ll probably write more about it once we’re ‘all systems go’.

What I like about my job now is that I have the opportunity to write about almost anything I like.  And I’m back to the freedom and relaxed atmosphere that I had when I worked at a graphic design agency.  But I guess it comes with a price.  We have the big challenge of promoting our service and making it successful.  I’m excited!  That kind of challenge was the one thing that was missing from my previous job.

I’m on my second week now and I’m liking it so far.  It’s our Christmas party later, then off to a nice, long Christmas weekend.  Yey! 😀

Another Sign of Aging

I went shopping with friends last Saturday.  Among the stores we hit were a home and furniture shop and a hardware – and seriously contemplated buying some of their stuff!  It just wasn’t the right time, budget-wise.  We were supposed to be shopping for gifts (supposed because half the stuff we bought were for ourselves!).  Who would’ve thought that we would enjoy 30 minutes inside Our Home?

You’ll know that you and your shopping taste and style have matured when you begin checking out shops other than those for clothes and shoes.  It was a gradual maturity for me.  I started with enjoying the grocery.  I can’t go grocery shopping without passing by every shelf and scrutinizing the products…even the ones that are not on my list and never really intend to buy.  Then, a few years ago, I decided to get my dad a new tool box and new tools for Christmas.  Surprise, surprise – I actually enjoyed the hardware!  Lots of cute guys, too! 😉  Now I’m on to home shops.  Wonder what’s next…

Do you still have a Christmas tree?

We haven’t put up a tree at home for several years now.  I’m not saying that we’re not decorating for Christmas.  On the contrary, we have more decorations now…but no Christmas tree.  And we’re not alone.  A lot of people I know also haven’t put up a Christmas tree in the last few years.

It all started when we realized that we’ve had the same Christmas tree since I was a child.  My dad felt that it was already too old and some parts of it are already falling off, and he didn’t feel like buying a new one.  He also felt that the Advent wreath more accurately symbolizes the true meaning of Christmas.  So that’s what we’ve had the past few years – an Advent wreath with real one pink and three purple candles that we light every Sunday, then replace with one white candle after Christmas.  It was a very good change in tradition because it somehow made me feel the Christmas spirit even more.

There’s no Christmas tree at home, but I’m still in high spirits as ever on my favorite time of the year.  I can’t wait for the fireworks after Christmas Eve Mass and Noche Buena.

Joke Time

Antonio Trillanes should have held his attempted coup d’ etat at Hotel Sogo instead of the Peninsula Manila.  Why?  Kasi short-time lang.

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Got that from my cousin who always has a joke on the current socio-political climate ready.  I ran into him and his wife at Megamall last night.  They offered to drive me home and join them for dinner beforehand at Pho Hoa.  Good Vietnamese food.  Me happy. 😀

Bowled Over

A while back, I wrote a post listing things that I have never done, and I forgot to include bowling. Well, I finally went bowling at Rockwell three weeks ago. Not voluntarily, mind you. It was an office activity, held during office hours so I really had no choice. A lot of people enjoy bowling, but I have an issue with the weight of the ball in relation to my thin arms and small bones. I have this vision of bones breaking once I swing my arms and flick my wrist to release the ball. Watching too many comedies and my own clumsiness also made me think about the possibility of sliding on my belly on the bowling lane along with the ball. I enjoy outdoor sports more. I used to say ‘make me climb a mountain, rappel down a cliff or jump off a plane but don’t make me go bowling’. I am actually scared of bowling!

Thank God none of my fears came to pass, but I own one-half of the most embarrassing moments. As I swung my arm backwards in preparation for the release, the ball slipped out of my fingers and rolled backwards, opposite of the bowling lane. What a teasing I got! The same thing happened to one of my officemates, but I think his was more embarrassing. The ball rolled towards the other lane, and interfered with another person’s (a stranger) turn.

Oh yes, I sucked at the game, but I also really enjoyed it. Huh…who would’ve thought? I guess that’s one fear conquered, and I definitely wouldn’t be saying no anymore the next time my friends invite me to go bowling. Who knows, I might even be the one to ask them this time around. 😀

Evidence that it really happened:

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Of course I chose the lightest ball…and also because it’s orange 😀

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The gang

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My crappy score (23) preserved for all time on digital image. Hey, I scored 48 on the second round!

When’s the next game? Bring it on!