Thursday, June 28, 2012

Got my first two Postcrossing cards...

Recently, I wrote about Postcrossing.

It's this online project I stumbled upon whereby people from around the world tell other people from other parts of the globe about their own local culture via a postcard exchange.

Somewhat similar to a social networking site, except that this one involves the real world. Hehe. In a way, it also is keeping snail mail alive.

Guess what?

I just got my first two postcards. Wheeee!

My first ever Postcrossing card (and my first ever postcard from this particular country) is from Tanja who lives in Klagenfurt, Austria. She sent me a postcard showing the Klagenfurt Dragon. A quick Google of Klagenfurt Lindwurm led to an interesting historical background. :)

A day or two after, I got another postcard. This time, it's from Kathleen who is in the US. She sent me a postcard with the very familiar Grand Canyon. Just as interesting. :)

Since the postcards I've sent have already been received, I am now entitled to send three more postcards. Cool! I just requested for new addresses and all three random addresses I got are from Postcrossers living in Russia.

Can't wait to get more postcards!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fathers Day may be over, but...

I came across the article below while checking out some random stuff online.

I read it, and I couldn't help but share it with my friends because it is a good read.

 Just how good of a read is it?

Let's put it this way. Two guy friends told me that they cried while reading the article.

That's how good it is.

 I like the part where Paul was silently finishing Jeff's dinner. I thought that was really nice.

Fathers Day may be over, but this is still very much worth a read.

Click on the link for the full article - A Father, a Son and a Fighting Chance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Monday was quite shitty...

It's one of those days...

I dun usually have any problems with Mondays, but this week's Monday was turning out to be quite a challenge.

Work will be extra toxic this week, and I guess in the coming weeks. Because of some recent changes within the department, I have to transfer my current workload to another person. Afterwards, I have to take on a new workload. It's going to be somewhat different, and it's going to be like starting from scratch again because the processes are quite different with this particular workload.

Plus, it would mean a whole new round of introductions and figuring out working styles of colleagues who are scattered around the world.

But it's all good, I guess. New work means new learning experiences. It's just a bit saddening that this is happening as a result of what happened to a colleague.

Then, just as the day was going to end, I receive an SMS which caused further worry and stress.
Nope, no one's sick nor dying. In fact, if I'm going to be very logical about it, it should not be something to be worried about. But I do worry about it, because it is causing unexpected anxiety and worry.

It makes me question certain things that happen in my life. I am very grateful for the life that I have right now. I really feel blessed for being where I am. I am glad to have what I have at the moment. But I know it can be better.

And when I see certain things around me, I couldn't help but ask how come some things seem to be more difficult to me than it is for others? It makes me ask which step did I miss which led to things becoming more challenging? It makes me question if there's something in the rulebook that I failed to follow.

It's just one of those days...

I do know that they key is to remain and stay positive. Life is what you make of it, after all. So it's a matter of taking charge of the things you can take charge of, and doing what you can to change things you dun have full control of, I suppose.

As MkSurf8 always tells me, the important thing is to be happy. If at the end of the day, one is happy, then it should be okay I suppose...

Tomorrow will be better...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yours truly...

Check out this nice video. :)

I just saw it on the FB page of one of my friends. I'm sure it's going to have thousand more hits very soon.

Nice, nice.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Even the briefest touch of kindness...

 Wonderful acceptance speech of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in Norway.

I really liked the parts where she talked about kindness and compassion fatigue.

This is going to sound corny, but so what. Hehe! Seriously, I really believe that everyone would add a little more ounce of kindness and compassion for others, things could just be a little bit better.

I mentioned this belief to Pg Boy during one of our more serious talks in a very informal location. (We were standing in bus 518 on the way to Orchard I think and we were talking about some recently much-discussed topics locally.)


Watch the video. Or you may also read the speech here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Smart bags three awards at the ACA 2012...

In a recent blog post, I wrote about how I was missing what I used to do back in the Philippines to pay my bills - Corporate Communications/Public Relations.

Thanks to a message from my former Smart colleague Monet, I found myself at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel last night covering the Asia Communication Awards 2012 for Smart.


Smart was nominated in 6 categories, including CEO of the Year and Operator of the Year and my former colleagues at the Public Affairs Group needed someone to do event coverage.

How can I not say no? (Well, I would have if I was not able to find a DSLR to borrow.) Plus, it's sort of a raket as well. Yey! Hehe!

At the end of the night, the Philippines' leading telecommunications (writing that sounds very PR... LOL!) brought home three awards, including Operator of the Year!

That's a back-to-back win for Smart. I checked the ACA website and the company won the same award last year.

I'm glad that I can still remember most of the things needed for these events. Aside from taking photos, I was scribbling down notes on how the event was going.

It was also nice to hear a compliment Smart boss who attended the awards night for the company. He said something like, "Good thing you thought of asking the guy to stay behind for the photo. You really know these things."

Nice words to hear. :) Definitely "inspiring." *wink wink*

Congrats again to Smart! Double congrats for being the telecoms company who won the most number of awards! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just like the good old Smart days...

Covering the Asia Communication Awards at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront for Smart.

Excited. Feels like the Smart PA days.

Wheee! I miss PR/CorpComm work.

Hope Smart wins tons of awards tonight.

We'll find out in a few.

Blogging from my iPhone...

Downloaded the Blogger app for iPhone.

First post via the app.

Cooool!!! :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

A brunch place "star" in Farrer Park..

These past couple of months, it has sort of been a weekly mission to try different brunch places/cafes around the island.

The good thing about being here is that the country is quite tiny, so if one really wants to, one wouldn't mind travelling to other parts of the island. (I think the bigger challenge for most is getting up at 10AM on a lazy Sunday morning. Hehe!)

Yesterday, I dragged Pg Boy to Farrer Park so we can try the French-themed Japanese cafe L'etoile.

Farrer Park being so close to Little India, it's easy to assume that most dining places in the area would only be offering rich and delight ful South Asian cuisine.

Surprise, surprise, because you will find L'etoile in the neighborhood.

House in a two-storey shophouse at the corner of OWen Road and Dorset Road, one of the easiest ways to reach L'etoile is to take the Purple Line of the MRT and alight at Farrer Park station. Take Ext D which leads to Owen Road. The cafe is just a few minutes walk.

L'etoile is star in French, and I think it's quite an apt name for this new rising star, a French-themed Japanese café housed in a two-storey shophouse at the junction of Owen Road and Dorset Road. As it was the owner's intent to settle on an off-the-beaten track (read: ulu) location, having a GPS device with you on the first visit here is highly advisible.

When we arrived, it was just nearing 12noon. While most of the tables have already been occupied by fellow Sunday brunch people, Pg Boy and I managed to get a table at the second storey.

Whereas the first floor looks like a typical counter at a cafe, the second floor of the cafe is where the character and charm of L'etoile really is. One will find a mix of new and vintage items - an old Singer sewing machine (used as a table for two!), bookshelves with a mix of Western and Asian titles, crystalware, souvenirs from travels abroad. Certain sections of the wall have been painted playfully to make the place more memorable to the hungry soul. Hehe!

There were quite a number of things to order from the menu. Since it was brunch we came from, it was brunch that we ordered. The Big Breakfast ($14.90) consists of two bacon strips, two sausages, buttered toast, mushrooms, a side salad, and eggs cooked according to how you like it. Eggs Benedict was also on the menu, but Pg Boy did not see it. Hehe! We also ordered orange juice and a latte to go with the meal.

What was sort of a minor challenge was ordering. The friendly, kind lady who took our orders had a little difficulty speaking English. It even became more amusing because Pg Boy also struggled conversing with her in Mandarin, since he's not very fluent in Mandarin. Hehe! But thankfully, we managed and the food arrived after a few minutes of waiting.

For just $14.90, I must say that the brunch plate was quite filling. (Pg Boy and I, however, asked for some extra toasts because we were starving. LOL! I dun remember if they charged us for it though.)

Quite stuffed from brunch, I decided I'll try the pastries and homemade cakes some other time. After reading that the sweets are prepared by pastry chefs who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, that definitely gives me more reason to go back.

On my next visit to L' etoile, I'll make I'll bring a book with me as well. I can already picture myself just lounging on one of the comfy couches, reading a book (from a Kindle? hehe!), and enjoying the cakes and coffee.

L’etoile Cafe
160 Owen Road
Tel: +65 6298 2872
Tue to Sun: 9am – 8pm
(Closed on Mon)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Postcard exchange project...

In this day and age of email, SMS and iMessaging, it's nice to know that there are people who are still into traditional snail mail. Hehe.

I stumbled upon Postcrossing via the tweet of one of the Singaporeans I follow on Twitter.

It got me interested, so I decided to head to the website to find out what it was about.

The next thing I know, I'm already signing up to be a member and requesting for five addresses to send postcards to.

Postcrossing is an online project whereby people from around the world send postcards to each other. If you send one postcard, you're supposed to get a postcard from another member.

What makes it even more interesting is that addresses are randomly generated. You dunno which country you're going to get next. You dunno where your next postcard will be coming from.

Just like other social networking sites, you create a profile on the site. You can indicate your preferences (e.g. Do you want to receive postcards from the country where you're currently living? What kind of postcards do you want to receive? What do you want postcard senders to write?).

Each address you get comes with a postcard-ID, which you should write on the postcard you're sending. The postcard-ID will then be logged into by the recipient of the postcard. This way, I think you build your credibility. You also get to send more postcards afterwards.

For beginners, the maximum number of postcards you can send is five. The addresses I got were from Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Finland, and USA. It's my first time ever to write to someone from Russia and Finland!!!

I mailed the batch tonight. Hopefully, they'll get to the recipients asap, so that I can start receiving postcards as well. Hehe! :)

Exciting, yeah?! :)

Check it out here.

A suman by any other name...

Auntie gave me these last night. A little reading and I'm guessing it's because of the Dumpling Festival (?).

In Chinese, it's called zong zi. The Japanese call it chimaki. Singaporeans/Malaysians/Indonesians call it bakcang. Us Filipinos call it suman. Fil-Chinese call it machang.

Zong is a traditional Chinese food consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival. It's made of glutinous rice with different fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves.  It is cooked by steaming or boiling. The one Auntie gave me has red bean in it.

The Dragon Boat Festival is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. It is celebrated on the 5th Day of the 5th month. Hence, it is also called Double Fifth Festival. This year it'll be on the 23rd of June.
The festival is said to commemorate the sacrifice of Chinese poet Qu Yuan. History has it written that he drowned himself in a river to protest against rulers.

To pay tribute to him, people threw dumplings into the river with the aim of stopping fish to feed on his body and to scare the fish away.

In Singapore, dragon boat races are organized. This symbolizes the search for Qu Yuan's body in the river.

Amazing how much story behind a small delicacy, yeah?!

And here I was thinking Auntie had nothing to do that evening, and she just felt like making some dumplings. Hehe!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Born this Way Ball...

Almost missed Lady Gaga's Born This Way Ball concert.

When Pg Boy and his friends decided to buy tickets, I haven't made up my mind yet whether I really wanted to watch. One, they tickets they were getting were a bit pricey. Two, I'm not sure if I really want to see Gaga.

I do like a lot of her songs. And I have had many tugs nights both here in SG and back in Manila going gaga over remixes of her songs, but I really wasn't sure if I wanted to watch.

Big mistake in delaying my decision.

As expected, tickets quickly sold out for both days of the concert.

But luck was on my side. A third night of performance was announced.

This time, there was no way I was not going to get tickets. Hehe! Huge thanks to Richie for asking me if I wanted to watch with him, Mon and Coly. My ticket to the concert was secured. Hehe!

The concert turned out to be really great. She sang several most of her hits, which drove the crowd wild. The set was just amazing! I'm really impressed. The seats we got were a bit similar to the ones we got for Kylie's concert. Pg Boy and work colleague Alexie got the more expensive tickets for the pen, but they said that the ones I got was better.

On my way home that night, I realized that I would really have kicked myself if I missed this concert. I dunno when I'll be able to watch her perform again so I was happy to have decided to watch her.

I'm still dreaming of getting to watch the Madonna concert though.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Happy Independence Day, Pinas...

It's the 114th Independence Day of the Philippines.

Today's Google doodle marks that significant celebration. Yey!

Green SG: Hike at Dairy Farm Nature Park...

Small this island may be, I have yet to run out of places to head to for nature walks and hikes.

Of course, it helps that I've got Melvin, my Singaporean friend who's my sidekick when it comes to nature-tripping activities. I'm really grateful to have met him through our common friend Francis because the guy has been showing me the "wild" side of Singapore every now and then.

Last Sunday, we had our monthly "green" activity.

We agreed to head to the Bukit Timah Hill Summit once again.

The only difference this time is we're going to hike via the trails at the Dairy Farm Nature Park.

From what I read, the 63 hectare nature park at Dairy Farm Road was formerly a cowshed. Now, it houses the Wallace Education Centre and the Wallace Environmental Learning Lab. The Wallace Trail is also found in this nature park. The Wallace mentioned here is Alfred Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin who made significant contributions to natural science through is exploration of the Singapore in the 1850s.

Based on some of the other things I've read about the park, Dairy Farm Nature Park, compared to other hiking areas here in SG, has flat trails which is suitable for newbie hikers, kids and the elderly.

Okay, from the hike that Melvin and I did over the weekend, I can definitely say that we did not take any of the flat trails. Half the morning of Sunday was spent making our way up to the Bukit Timah Hill Summit through thickly forested area. The other half was spent for the descent back to flat terrain. Haha!

Though challenging, the good thing about the trail is that there are a number of huts along the way where you can take sit down and rest for a few minutes before carrying on with your trek. You would also find maps along the way to make sure you don't get lost, and to give you options on which trail to take.

For our trek last Sunday, we decided to take the "gentle" (which wasn't really gentle) climb up but was much longer. Melvin has never taken that path before, which is why we agreed to do that trail.

Along the way, we saw a number of interesting creatures - a green Oriental viper, a giant ant, a monitor lizard, some monkeys, and birds. Melvin being Melvin, he would get excited whenever he would see certain animals/creatures.

When he excitedly exclaimed "Ooohh! Snake, snake!" at least, this time I didn't jump out of fear. The first time he did that during a previous walk, I wanted to clobber him for scaring me. Haha!

We finished our walk just a few minutes after 11. It was just right. We started our ascent at 9AM, and we were back at the Dairy Farm entrance by 11. Though it's just for two hours, I was definitely exhausted.

From Dairy Farm, we headed to Jelina Vegetarian Garden at Cheong Chin Nam Road for lunch. Our road trip continued to Siglap Road, which was on the other side of the island, for dessert at Udders.

I've been wanting to try Udders for some time now, and I'm glad Melvin was kind enough to drive all the way to Siglap for dessert. Haha! We got the very sinful waffle with a scoop of Cookies N Cream and Chocolatey KitKat. Woohoo!

Really glad to have been able to try a new hiking trail over the weekend.

If you're interested to go to Dairy Nature Farm Park, you can take SMRT 700, 700A or 966 and alight at bus stop along Petir Road between Chestnut Ave and Dairy Farm Road.

Bring a change of clothes, insect repellant spray and bottled drink. :-)


Monday, June 11, 2012

Mark Chao made me cry...

While wondering what to do for the day last Saturday, Pg Boy showed me the last few seconds of the trailer for Chinese film "First Time."

Though I just saw a few scenes from the trailer, Pg Boy already knew that he made a mistake showing it to me.

My reaction was that like that of a kid who's just learned that he's going to get a new toy. Haha!

In the next few minutes, I was able to book us tix to the 6PM screening at GV Tiong Bahru.

First Time, featuring Chinese actor Mark Chao and actress Angelababy, is a romantic story of a young dancer wannabe and a rocker boy.  Angelababy is a young lady battling a debilitating disease. On top of having to give up her desire to be a dancer, the medicine she takes makes her feel like her memory is getting weaker. Because of this, she carries a voice recorder with her in an attempt to record her thoughts and experiences for that day. Mark Chao plays a rocker boy. He appears to be a toughie, but the reality is that he is also trying to face his own battles.

The two cross paths after Angelababy's mother in the film "hires" Mark Chao to pretend to be the guy that her daughter liked in secondary school.

And there begins the romantic story.

I'm not going to spoil the ending. But here's what I can say. The movie has the right amount of cheesy scenes. The treatment was a bit different, in the sense that the story didn't unfold in a very linear fashion. Mark Chao's could act. I saw him already in Love 2012, and I thought he was okay. But in this movie, he really showed that he can act.  I wouldn't say the story was tragic. It appears like it, but it's not.

If you want to know why I say this, then you must go ahead and watch it.

One final thing - dun forget to bring a packet of tissue or a hanky. I'm glad I did. Haha!

Han Yan

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Where SG's best homemade bean curd is...

After the movie date yesterday, I brought Pg Boy to this restaurant Chris, MkSurf8 and I stumbled upon some months ago when we did some exploring of the Tiong Bahru neighborhood.

The locals would know that Tiong Bahru has several hidden gems of dining places. But for foreigners like us, we have to either rely on blogs posted by locals or exploring on our own.

Por Kee Eating House in Seng Poh Road across Tiong Bahru Market is worth a try when you are in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood.

It is, I would dare say,  home to the best homemade bean curd in the whole of Singapore. This is coming from someone who doesn't eat tofu that much. The restaurants tofu dish is braised with mushrooms. The sauce tastes wonderful, and is a perfect pair to steamed rice.

We also ordered the half-roasted chicken and tou meow (which is a favorite of ours. Haha!) The roasted chicken tasted well when sprinkled with some of the salt and plum (?). Tou meow, on the other hand, is a bean sprout dish.

Better if you go in a big group though. Not only would you get to save more (our dinner was $50, which is quite ex), but mainly because the servings are really meant for sharing. The food we ordered could have been shared by about three people.

Blk 69 Seng Poh Lane, #01-02, Singapore
Phone: 62210582 | Mobile: 97304889

Friday, June 8, 2012

8th on 8th...

8 months, officially. 10 months, unofficially.

Time does fly fast, eh?!

To some, 8 months seems like a short time. Others find it quite long already.

To me, it's just right.

When I came to Singapore over a year ago, the last thing on my mind was to get into a relationship.

I came here to work so that I can really start saving for old age, so that I can (hopefully) help a little bit more with my family.

While I was determined to meet people and expand the circle of friends while I'm here, the thought of having a partner was something that I never thought of seriously.

Back then, I thought that it would be nice, yeah. It would be great to have that someone again. But that was it, I never really thought more about it. I was too busy dancing to the music at that favorite haunt of mine, as well as MkSurf8's and Chris'. Haha!

Who knew that the weekly activity I used to do (and intend to do again) would pave the way for meeting Pg Boy.

And now, here we are. Eight months later official, ten months unofficial.

There have been a few minor bumps, which have led me to take a second look at my own views and beliefs about certain things.

But so far, I must say that it's been generally a smooth sailing journey.

Happy 8th!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chin Chin Eating House at Purvis Street...

It's one of those rare weeks when Pg Boy does not have to fly out for work.

Ergo, we agreed to have a mid-week date of sorts.

I suggested that we try Saveur in Purvis St., a French cafe that has been receiving a lot of raves lately.

When we got there, there was a looong queue. I don't know how some people can manage to wait for a long time for food. Unfortunately, almost always I don't have the patience for it. Hehe!

Oh well, next time then.

So instead, we walked further down Purvis and decided to have dindin at Chin Chin Eating House.

I thought it must be good because I saw a tip from friend Jane when I checked in on Foursquare previously. Haha!

Apparently, the restaurant has been around since 1950s. It does feel like it. Hehe! It reminds me of those very old Chinese restaus back in Manila that didn't seem to bother to update the interiors. Chinese paintings on the walls, round tables with stools, no AC. One way of looking at this decision is that it gives an authentic feel of how the restau was like when it started. :P

On to the more important part, the food. The menu selection was quite extensive. There was beef, pork, chicken, mutton, soup, rice, and so on. There was a separate listing for Hainanese dishes.

Because I was starving and because both of us were not feeling well, we quickly decided to just get chicken and seafood vegetable soup. The steamed chicken was $13 while the seafood vegetable soup was $6 (we got the medium). We also each got a bowl of rice to go with the dishes. Total bill with drinks came out at $24. Not bad I have to say.

The service was quite fast and the serving was generous. Seriously, the chicken was good enough to be shared by three people. Same goes for the soup. We were really both surprised to see a huge plate of chicken and a huge bowl of soup when the dishes arrived.

There are other tastier chicken rice places around Singapore, that's for sure.

But if you happen to be in the Bugis area and you just want a quick, nice meal, you definitely should head down to Chin Chin Eating House.

Singapore Food Blog Review
Chin Chin Eating House
19 Purvis Street
Tel: +65 6337 4640
Daily: 7am – 9pm

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CorpComm/PR, I miss you...

I want to get back to Corporate Communications/Public Relations.

As much as I am grateful for the current job that I have, there's a part of me that really wants to go back to the world of Corporate Communications and Public Relations.

Eight or nine years of my work life have been dedicated in that industry, and though stressful it may be, I have to say I really love CorpComm/PR.

Also, part of the reason that I want to get back into it is the fact that I'm not really getting any younger. There's a part of me that just wants to find that one company and stay put.

Somehow, I envy some friends who have been with their companies for five years or more.

If an opportunity in Singapore did not present itself, I guess I would still be with my previous company. I was there from 2007 - 2011. Almost four years. It's the longest I've been with any organization.

Three years in the non-government sector; two years in the publishing industry with friends; a year in shipping; four years years in telecoms. And now, one year in publishing.

The good thing about being in different industries I suppose is that I've experience in various work environments. The years spent in each industry have helped shape how I see things in CorpComm/PR.

I'd really like to see, no make, some change again this year or early next year.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strictly Pancakes...

Netherlands-based friend Bernice was in town over the weekend for a business trip.

We agreed to meet up for brunch last Saturday.

I was undecided where to bring her. It was either a place that was familiar to me or something that I've yet to try.

Initially, I was thinking of em by the River. To me, it is one of the best brunch places in Singapore. The food is good. The venue is nice. And I think it's one of those places tourists won't know about unless they have a local friend.

However, after learning Bernice's schedule for the afternoon, I decided that we have to go somewher that's more accessible.

Hence, I chose to bring her to Strictly Pancakes.

It's been on my must-try brunch places, and the weekend brunch plans with Bernice was the perfect opportunity to head down to Prinsep St.

As much as I love my kaya peanut toast and kopi si from Toastbox, there are still weekends when I want to have pancakes for breakkie.

Because my weekend home is quite far from the city, my quick fix for pancake craving is MickeyD's. Haha!

Anyway, I got the All-American Breakfast - three fluffy and thick pancakes, bacon strips, two sausages, a quail egg sunny side-up and grilled tomato. For $14, it came with a choice of either chilled coffee or Long Black coffee.

Bernice, on the other hand, ordered the Eggs-A-Way! Two eggs cooked according to how you want it, accompanied by a side dish of back pepper mushrooms, grilled tomato and choice of drink.

The pancakes were quite delicious. Since they were thick and fluffy, you can actually just order one plate (to be shared by two people) and then just add other side dishes.

There are other interesting things on the menu left to be tried.

Definitely want to go back.

Strictly Pancakes
44A Prinsep Street Singapore
Tel: +65 6333 4202

Pink Dot 2012 this 30 June...

It's time for Pink Dot 2012!



WHERE: Hong Lim Park

WHEN: Saturday, June 30, 2012

WHAT TO BRING: Pink lights!

WHAT TO WEAR: Of course, PINK!

TIMINGS: Activities commence 5.30pm, Concert begins at 6.30pm, Dot is formed at 7.30pm, or when it is sufficiently dark

*Please note: According to the park’s terms and conditions, only Singaporeans and Permanent Residents may participate at the events held at Hong Lim Park. However, foreigners are most welcome to watch and observe.