Monday, December 29, 2008

An evening with some CS tomodachis...

Yesterday was spent with some new tomodachis. Hehe! (Tomodachi is one of the very few Japanese words I remember.)

Anyway, Yasuyuki, a CSer from Osaka arrived in Manila yesterday and a bunch of Manila CSers got together to show him a little of the city before he flew to Coron today for some diving. Chad picked him up from the airport and I met the two at the Quirino Grandstand. It was my first time to meet both of them, but what's ncie about CS is that you easily establish the friendship, or at least very rare is there some awkwardness. It's one great way of honing people skills, that's for sure.

From Luneta, we walked to nearby Intramuros and brought Yas to the ever reliable Fort Santiago and other historical landmarks inside Intramuros. We then took a jeepney ride and got off at the Malate Church, for some more walking along Roxas Blvd.

After several hours of walking, we made our way to SM Mall of Asia where we met up with other CSers. We decided to stay at Aling Tonya's restaurant, which was one of the restaurants along the San Miguel by the Bay strip. For dinner, we had shrimps and sinigang na maya maya I think? We got Yas to try the local paluto. While I watched over our stuff, Yas and Chad did a little seafood buying. Hehe!

It didn't take long before more CSers arrived. Paolo, Tiger, Archie, Faye, Des, and Nicky joined the group. There was also a last minute addition. A Korean CSer Yong Joo just arrived in Manila from Cebu and he got the number of Nicky from Dawnie. So before the long fun dinner at Aling Tonya's ended, we were quite a good number of people already actually.

Because we didn't want Yas to miss his early morning flight, we bid him and his host Tiger goodbye around midnight. The rest of the gang, however, headed to Malate for some partying and dancing. Hehehe! We finally called it a night around 3 in the morning. It was a fun get-together.

Any get-together with tomodachi, new or old, is always fun anyway, hai?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The nice thing about a holiday break is

The nice thing about the holiday break is that you get to do things you don't normally get to do on a toxic work week. Haha!

Things like meeting up with friends or spending some "me" time, yeah?

Yesterday, I met up with good friends from Magsaysay - May, Shy, Cathy, Lenly and Benj. We went on a road trip and I'm really glad that the girls invited me. Much, much appreciated. Met up with them at Times Plaza a little after 10. Traffic in Cavite was kinda bad though so we reached Tagaytay past noon.

We were supposed to have lunch at Leslie's or RSM, but after the horrible traffic (augh!) we decided to drive further and ended up at a restaurant called Viewsite. The place was okay. We were able to get a table that gave us a view of Taal Volcano. Hehe! And since we were all hungry (no breakfast at all), we ordered way too much food. There was adobong pusit, lechon kawali, ensaladang talong and maalat na itlog, bulalo, inihaw na tuna belly, pinakbet and inihaw na tawilis. Hahaha! It was good enough to feed an entire family!!! The more surprising thing was we finished everything. Hahaha! We were that hungry!

From Tagaytay, we drove off to Enchanted Kingdom. Apparently, everyone thought the same thing. Hahaha! EK was super crowded, and what I really found annoying was that there were all these kids - toddlers and babies - who obviously wouldn't appreciate any of the rides. I don't know what their parents were thinking. Hahaha! Sorry, if I'm being such a whiner. I think it comes with ageing. Haha! Still, it was a good trip with the girls. I missed them super so it was great hanging out with all of them, even if we were all dead tired. Haha!

Today, I went on a "me" time thing. Needed to get a couple of stuff, and even before the holiday break started, I was already scheduling a shopping trip. Today, that happened and the scene of the crime was the Shangri-la Mall. Haha! I brought a to-buy list, and I'm glad that I was able to stick to it. Okay, fine, I added an item or two, but I still stayed within my budget. Woohoo! And by that we mean there's some cab fare left. Haha! Just kidding.

A pat on the back is deserved because I found the strength to walk away from a Comme des Garcons bag that was on sale. I stepped out of the neighboring stores empty handed. That's quite an achievement. At least, I wouldn't go hungry in the next few months. Harhar!

Seriously, I think that what happened today was good because there was some change. Had I gone to another mall, I would have fallen into my routine. I would have gotten the same pair of shoes that I got two years ago from the same store. I would have looked for the same pair of jeans from the same store where the ex got it five years ago, I think. I would have bought the same leather wallet from the same store where I got my current wallet four years ago.

There's probably a good and bad side to this behavior, yeah? The good thing is that stores will love me because I'm a good, loyal returning customer. I have the tendency to go back for the same item to the same store, if I find a product to be really good. That's the partly the bad thing, I suppose. Because I'm comfortable with that product already, I don't tend to check out what else is out there. I don't try to experiment. And I stay with the old. Not that I have a problem with it, since most of the pieces I choose are classic and are wearable for years. Still, it's good to have a little change every once in a while, right?

Tomorrow, I'm planning to meet some CSers. A CSer from Osaka is flying in, and I'm quite sure it's going to be another nice CS get-together.

How's your holiday break going so far? Photos from the EK trip to follow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

And Christmas was spent like this...

How was your Christmas day celebration?

Mine was spent at my Lolo's house in Diliman. That's how every Christmas has been for the past 29 years. The only thing that's changing are the cast of characters. My Lolo's passed away, so it's just my Mom and her siblings. Some of the siblings are abroad so only their families are there. Others are a no show. Some of my nephews and nieces have grown already, I barely recognize most of them. I keep confusing one niece with her older sister. That just goes to show that I need to make an appearance in future family gatherings. Hahaha!

Being Kapampangans, there was SO much food --- so much unhealthy food. Nyahahaha! I was looking for fish but there wasn't any. Except for the pasta with tuna and olives, every other dish is a guarantee to clog one's arteries. Hehehe! But again, us being Kapampangans, of course every dish was superb. If there's one thing that my Mom and my aunts got from my Lolo and their ancestors, it's being able to cook yum dishes.

From my Lolo's house, I headed to Gateway to get some plastic crates. One of my projects for the long holiday break is to do some decluttering in my room. Need to make it appear like a room again instead of a storage room, which is how it currently looks like. Hahaha! Magazines, books, tons of paper are all over the place. And then the art pieces I got a couple of years ago are on a wall but the way they were arranged would make Thom Filicia commit suicide. Hahaha! Pack rat that I am, there's just too much junk to get rid of, but I don't want to get rid of them.

Hay, I need an Ikea or Daiso or Muji fairy godfather.

I was able to get some crates from Shopwise. Handyman has some expensive crates, but service was bad so I stepped out. Daiso, yes Daiso, has a store in Araneta Center but they didn't have the size that I want but there are other goodies to get. Shopwise, ah Shopwise, is the solution. In less than ten minutes, I was able to get what I needed and I was out of the supermarket. Plus, the staff were super friendly. I hope the rumors that Shopwise Cubao will close isn't true. Hay!

When I got home, it was time to open some presents from people. All the gifts were nice, but I only kept a few. Eeeep! Is that bad? I still don't know what to do with the other gifts, but I think that it's better that someone else gets them rather than let them accumulate dust in a dark corner, right?

Anyway, so that's it. How was your Christmas?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maligayang Pasko!!!

To everyone who became and continue to be a part of my life this 2008, warmest Christmas greetings to you and your family! Because of you, 2008 has been such a memorable year. Thank you!!!

- Angelo 0=)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 will be written in my book as the year of...

Okay, I know it's still a couple of weeks before we say goodbye to 2008, but I thought I'd make a things to be thankful for in/ things that will always remind me of 2008. Okay, here it goes. In random order.

1. Travel. 2008 was definitely a banner year for travel. It’s been only a week (or was it two?) since the new year started and already, I was onboard a plane to Iloilo. A couple of more days and then I was back in Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival. Iloilo was followed by Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Dumaguete, aside from the other land trips to Luzon provinces. And then, for the first time ever, I got to visit three countries in one year – Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. Wow! When I was much younger and with really limited resources, it didn’t occur to me that I would one day be able to experience something like this. So I’m really thankful for the good career and the blessings that allowed me to do this.
2. Falling in love… with Iloilo and Singapore. The first time I set foot on Iloilo and got to see the city and the countryside, I just knew that I could live in the city. I love that it was laidback and yet still has an active city. And then, there’s Singapore. Oh man! One of my greatest fears about going to Singapore is that I would want it so badly. And that’s exactly what happened. Three days in the city, and I want to stay there already. I don’t care if others say it’s boring. I don’t care about the fines. I love the order. I love the discipline. I love that I don’t have to worry about getting mugged. Upon my return to Manila, that’s when I really felt that I am just so fed up with the chaos of Manila. Let me make that clear though. It’s just Manila that I’m so annoyed with. But the rest of the country, I still love. If an assignment ever opened in Iloilo or in some other part of the country, I wouldn’t mind trading Manila in an instant.
3. Adventures. The year has been filled with adventures, I must say. For someone who’s (almost) always on the safe side, I found myself in so many “adventurous” situations this year. There’s the whitewater rafting and the zipline adventure in Cagayan de Oro. Then there’s the conquering my claustrophobia by entering the Cu Chi Tunnel. And then I guess I’m really glad that I let go of all fears and took the trip to Kuala Lumpur all by myself. Getting lost in my own country was okay, but getting lost in another country that had a different language was different. I was a bit scared about being alone in KL, but I'm glad it went great and I couldn't help but think on the way back to SG, I was SO happy for taking the trip.

4. Getting (re)connected to people thanks to the Internet. Thanks to the Internet, I reconnected with friends from college and I was able to meet new friends as well. Through Facebook and Multiply, I got in touch once again with friends from college Len, Ella, John, Lovelynn, Christy, Dulch, to name a few. And then there’s Couchsurfing. Woohoo! Gotta thank Sharon for introducing me to Couchsurfing. The irony here though is that we’ve never gone to a CS event together. I signed up in May, but it took a couple of months before I stopped making excuses and decided to just go attend a CS meet. I was kicking myself for procrastinating. I’ve met so many interesting people through CS since and it really is just a wonderful way to expand one’s network of friends. CS really rocks!

5. Having more photos for the celebrity wall project. Okay, this not that life-changing but I can’t think of any other thing to add to this list. Hehe! But hey, having a photo with a former President, with a popular comedienne, with one of today’s hottest celebrities, with an up and coming pro bball player, and with an international band, to name a few, is enough to make any year memorable, right?

6. Good career. It’s been a pretty good year for my career as well, I think. A reshuffling of work assignment early this year paved the way for me to get involved in two things I love – the online world and community work. I would always be on a high when I am in the countryside, talking to the local community and learning about their lives. Uhm, there are sometimes when I would have my own interior conflict but a little processing always helps resolves whatever it is I’m thinking about at that moment. These are the times when I wish two friends from college were around. They almost always help me see things in another perspective. It is now that I really, really understand the need for “coaching.” But I digress. Going back, I’m really happy and thankful to be where I am right now. I enjoy what I do, and I hope I get to do more in the coming year.

7. Change in some beliefs. Because of the new environment I’m in and some recent situations I got myself into, there have been a couple of changes in the principles I believe in when it comes to a couple of things – relationships, marriage, fatherhood, career, friendship, to name a few. What’s nice about this is that these changes were brought about by conversations with people – old friends and acquaintances, young and wiser, gay and straight, and so on. Some things that I recall right now – “you don’t have to be friends with all the people you meet;” “you want people to remember what you said – say it in the beginning, say it in the middle, say it in the end;” “in an event, people won’t remember the program, but they’ll remember the food – so serve good food;” “a good host is ready to be the first to make a fool of himself.”

I wanted to have 8 on my list, but I only managed to write 7 so far. Hmm, maybe more good will happen before 2008 officially ends. Haha!

What's on your list?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

SMART Xmas Party 2008

It was the company Christmas party last Friday and I completely, completely enjoyed it. It was my first time to actually experience the party, since last year I was part of the program and therefore missed much of the program.

But this year, the party was different and I really loved it. The venue was still at the World Trade Center. We didn't get to book all three halls, and that's why security was so tight because confidential information was divulged that night. We were required to tap our ID prior to entering the hall, and we were also required to wear this pin or otherwise we would be escorted out of the venue. Yeah, it was that strict. I found out later in the evening why.

The program was divided into two parts. For the first part, a portion of the venue was set up in a theater style. A program was held with Aiai de las Alas and a fellow employee entertaining the crowd. The serious part of the program was the report of president & CEO Polly Nazareno on how we did this year. It really is a trying year, I must say. But still, we’re thankful that we’re doing well.

Afterwards, we were invited to "experience the future." The middle part of the stage parted and revealed a tunnel that led to the other side. Employees were ushered to the tunnel to the back part of the venue.

When we entered the "second venue," I only had one word - WOW! It was my first time to attend a somewhat of a national sales convention so I was really floored by the venue setup. Several gigantic videowalls surrounded the venue and coupled with the play of lights and the futuristic music, it really gave the feeling of being in the future.

What followed next were speeches from the rest of the ManCom. One of the major highlights of the night though was the announcement of a new product/service to be launched next year. I wish I can tell you about it because it IS fantastic and it will really take the mobile experience to the next level. That’s all I can say and I really can't wait to get a new phone for that new product. Haha!

Another much anticipated moment was the speech of our chairman MVP. Watch the video and you’ll find out why. Sorry, but I had to cut it. Haha! After the "announcement," I thought it was over but it turns out that it was just going to be the start of the party as some of today’s hottest celebrities came onstage much to the delight of SMARTees.

First up was Billy Crawford who did a la Justin Timberlake. After him, the crowd went wild when Sam Milby was called. And if that wasn't enough, Sam Milby called Angel Locsin. But what really, really made the people go crazy was when Angel called Piolo Pascual. Listen to a colleague screaming in one of the videos. Hahaaha! Other performers that night were Toni Gonzaga, Rufa Mae Quinto and Christine Reyes.

Other special guests were some boxers and Talk 'N Text team. Wooohooo!

It's going to be one happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas with my other "family..."

Last night was the Christmas party of our team. We had it at the roofdeck of one of the nearby condos here in Salcedo Village. Despite the tons of stuff that still needed to be done before the holiday break, we just had to take a couple of hours away from the office to party. Haha!

One good party, I must say. Tons of games. Lots of food. There was singing. There was laughter. There was dancing. It seemed like all the ingredients needed to have one fun and unforgettable party were there. Hehe!

Happy holidays to everyone from the PA family! Hohoho!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Night with the boys of Bloomfields

One of the perks of working for where I'm working right now is we get to meet interesting people every so often. Once in a while, we even get so lucky that they perform for us. Haha!

Last week was the fundraising event of UP alumni in the company and there was some kind of a mini-concert held at the 33/F rooms. Colleagues Tish and Cris got The Bloomfields to perform for the night. Since it was a weekday and there were other events on the same evening, not too many didn't get to stay to party with the Bloomfields boys.

But that's fine. Because it felt like we were having a private performance. Haha! And because Smartees are Smartees, we didn't want the Bloomfields guys to think that we're too "corporate" to party. Haha! So for about two hours, the crowd just jammed with the boys. Seriously, no water or washroom break for them. No wonder they were so exhausted by the time they sang their last song "La Bamba," while the crowd asked for more. Hehehe!

It was a nice party especially for a work night. Haha!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Carlo said, 'It's because we're neither...'

Hung out with Carlo last Friday. We were supposed to watch The Day the Earth Stood Still, but ended up watching an indie film. Hehe! The thing with Carlo, me and indie films is that we would always have a love it/hate it discussion at the end of the film. I can't count the times that Carlo wanted to kill me because I dragged him to some indie film, so when he told me that he did like the film we watched to a certain degree, I was pleasantly surprised. Hehe!

Carlo is one of the people I rarely see, but he's also one of the very few I will entrust my life with and open up to. (Haha! Yuck, drama!) We've seen each other through quite a lot and that's one big reason why I love the guy so much. (Hahaha! Yuck, more drama!)

What I enjoy the most about getting together with this guy is that we never seem to run out of things to talk about - from the most trivial to topics of great significance. Hehe! Rarely do I have this kind of conversation dynamics with a person, so I'm really happy every time I get to hang out with Carlo Pogi.

Last Friday, after the movie and while we were walking along Julia Vargas (I think) looking for a cab for me, our talk went into relationships. I was telling him how I noticed that my thoughts on relationships seem to have changed in the last few years. Then there's the question on being single. Hahaha! At the risk of sounding like Carrie Bradshaw, I asked Carlo to share his thoughts on his and my current status in Friendster, Facebook, Multiply and all the other social networking sites. Hahaha!

And this is what he said (or something like this). "Hmm, I think it's because in the social environment we are in, we're neither "<*****>" nor "<*****>." That makes it difficult for "people" to read us." I reply, "So, it's our fault, yeah?" To which he said, "Yeah, to a certain extent."

Hmmm, we could have talked further about the thoughts he shared, which I found quite interesting, but then a good cab arrived and we had to part ways already after a big hug. Hahaha!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Starry, starry night with CS Manila People...

Went to the Couchsurfers Manila holiday party hosted by CS Phils Country Ambassador Lil and her sisters Girlie and Candie. "Fun" does not even begin to describe how the party went. It was fantastic. It was crazy. It was a party to be remembered. Hahaha!

There were probably close to 100 people who partied that night. It was great meeting new people and it was equally great to party with the CS people who've become friends.

Before heading over to Lil's place, met up first with the usual suspects at Trinoma for dinner. From Trinoma, we were off to the really nice house somewhere in QC.

I stayed at the party til 230AM. Had to get a couple of hours' sleep because there was a nice Sunday lunch to be attended. Hehe!

Good weekend indeed.

I have to say that getting into CS is one of the highlights of 2008. In such a short span of time, I've met a lot of people from all walks of life and it's been really great exchanging stories with everyone. And then, of course there's the CS experience in Kuala Lumpur which was completely unforgettable because I got to meet local couchsurfers. Woohoo!

Couchsurfing rocks!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crazy over NUM...

Going gaga over NUM stuff at the Wheelock store

The rainbow bears waiting to be adopted

With NUM ambassadors Imran, Kee Wei and Issey

Me love NUM shirts

One of the things I loved about SG is the New Urban Male store. I'm not sure how I found out about it, if it was through Edsel or if I came across it while doing my research for my Singapore trip.

Anyway, the trip to the store was one of the highlights of the shopping part of the trip. Haha! Even if you don't know about the store, it's impossible not to go inside and check out their stuff. The window display and how things are arranged --- organized clutter --- will catch the attention of any "visual" person. Hehe!

Uhm, I got to visit four branches while I was in SG, but the NUM shopping took place on the final day of my visit. There are several items for boys and girls - shirts, bags, flipflops, shorts, accessories, and so on, but I guess my favorites are the NUM shirts and the rainbow teddy bears. The bears above are from the store in Wheelock. I went to the stores in Heeren and Novena Square, but it's not available. Cute bears, huh? They have this "adopt-me-please" look. Hahaha!

As for the shirts, I was only planning on buying one but I ended up getting "a couple." Hehehe! The one above is going to get me into trouble with my Mom (haha!), while the other two will, uhm, I'm not sure. But NUM's statement shirts are really nice. I like that it's unapologetic and somewhat irreverent. Haha!

And then, the sales guys are also part of the "store concept." (Sorry, I don't mean to make it sound as if they are products.) They're called ambassadors, and when you visit the different NUM stores, you'll see that there's something common among them. Anyway, the guys who were at the Wheelock store at that time were Kee Wei, Imran and Issey. Uhm, they're really nice and helpful (because they're sales people?).

I wish there was a NUM store in Manila, and I asked if they are planning to bring it here (no franchiser yet), but then thinking about it now, that would be one reason less to go to Singapore again, which I don't want because I heart SG super. Haha!

Check out the NUM site --- and their blog ---

And if you're shameless (or daring???) like Edsel and me, you can sing praises about NUM and if you're lucky, you just might find your photo on their site. Hehehe!