Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Philippine Adventure: Day 8 - Lunching with my Family

25 December, 2007, Christmas Day

We paid Papa a visit. Last time I went to see him was in August, which was the last time I was here. It was just a quick visit as my brother was not feeling so well.

We headed for lunch at Max's. But this time, no more chicken. Puhlease... NO MORE CHICKEN!!!

Here are our photos from yesterday. ^_^

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Philippine Adventure: Day 7 - Christmas Eve Dinner

I went out to dinner with my Cookie's family. Too bad he wasn't here, and we all terribly miss him.
We had dinner at North Park in Glorietta. Yeah, I was really hoping we'd go Pinoy or Western. But it turned out to be an Oriental dinner.
It wasn't unfortunate though, because I was really there for the food. I was there for the company. I know how much Lord's family misses him, and I want to share with them as much of our adventures in SG as I can. And I see they are more than excited to hear about them
My Cookie's three nephews are adorable. The littlest one, Adriel, he's just the cutest. He picked all of the bits of green peas and carrots from the fried rice and ate them up. Kind of unusual for babies. He must have thought they were candies! ^_^
After dinner, Mama and the rest of the gang brought me home with a box of cake for my Mama. ^_^
I just really hope my Cookie was here with us. Sigh.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Philippine Adventure: Day 6 Part 2 - More Food Tripping

It all started with the TJs for breakfast this morning. Then kare-kare and dinuguan for lunch. Little did I expect there are more food gorging to follow. Hehehe...

After two days of being confined in the house, I decided to go on a little adventuring at the nearby mall. Well, today being only two days to Christmas Day, the crowd at the mall is at its thickest.

And so, I did not hold my hopes up for a shopping spree. Instead, my sister and I just did some grocery shopping for my "supplies" to bring home to SG. Before we went home, a quick stop at Tokyo Tokyo for some California Maki "take-away".

Two sets of the 8-pieces California Maki with a generous dollop of wasabi on the side and some soy sauce. Wonderful!

I missed the California Maki we have here. Especially the one with the ripe mango center. Yum!

The photo you see on the left was the few pieces left of the second serving. Well, I thought of taking a picture after I've consumed more than half of the stash. I told you, I missed the California Maki! :P

For dinner, some pork barbecue bought from the little grilling store at the corner of the street. Delicious!

These are the things that really make you feel that you are so far away from home. And so, I am taking in as much as I can while I am here.

During grocery shopping, I also bought a lot of junkfood - Mr. Chips, Oishi Caramel Popcorn, and a lot others. Oh my, it seems that gaining some pounds will be inevitable. Tsk tsk. So I better have a remembrance of how I look now. Hehehehe....

This photo of myself is taken today, around 7 pm at our living room with my sisters new Nokia 6300 mobile phone.

Philippine Adventure: Day 5/6 - Food Trip

After the crazy (mis)adventures of the previous days, I just opted to spend the next two days at home feasting on Pinoy food I gravely missed abroad.

22 December 2007, Saturday

For breakfast, I had two servings of Lucky Me Instant Pancit Canton. The spicy one with the black packaging. Yum!!! Tapos, ipinalaman ko sa monay. Wow! Sarap!

For lunch, Pampanga's Best Skinless Longganisa! Tapos, vinegar with garlic for the dipping sauce. At siyempre, mainit na kanin. Wow! Sarap!

For dinner, my Grandma's diningding. The best! It is one of the major things I miss being abroad - my Grandma's cooking. The diningding is a personal request of mine. I also asked for some "cardis" but she's still sourcing out for the ingredients. Hehehe...

To cap off the evening, we had balut and penoy. I had two baluts, and one penoy. I ate the sisiw for one balut. I can only gather up enough gut to eat one balut sisiw, so I had to pass for the other one. Hehehe...

23 December 2007, Sunday

I woke up this morning with a huge hunger pang. I WANT TJs! And so, my wish is the fridge's command. Hehehe...

I cooked up two jumbo TJs and some ham. And every minute of munching on the meaty hotdogs sure is heavenly. Hehehe...
But no matter how much I miss these treats, I just don't have the courage to pack them in my luggage to bring back to SG.
Too scared. :'(
And so, next best thing is just to gorge on them while I am here. Hehehe...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Philippine Adventure: Day Four - Disaster

21 December 2007, Friday
As originally planned, I went out with my siblings today to get them the Christmas present they requested - new mobile phones.
But before that, my siblings had to run some errands at school first, and after a day of being "trapped" at home, I just opted to tag along.
Getting to school via train was a disaster. As usual, the train was delayed and packed with commuters. And it was a good 30-45 minutes to get to the Pedro Gil Station.
At school, while my sister did her errand, I went on to visit my cousin Rose and a dear Professor. It was very nostalgic walking in the corridors of my alma mater again. I can almost see myself in the A-line checked uniform! Hahaha... :D
After a quick visit, we were off to the malls. We had merienda first at the Old Spaghetti House in the Midtown Mall, a new wing of Robinson's Place Manila. But since there's no Nokia shop there, we had to move the party to Glorietta.
Getting a cab to Makati from Manila was a disaster. The queue at the taxi stands were a mile long. And hailing a cab along Pedro Gil proved to be a difficult feat. And so, we ended up taking 2 jeepney rides and a bus ride to Glorietta.
We got the phone quickly. It is always easy to pick out something when you already have a clear picture of what you want in your head. Good job sibs! Now, it was time for shopping. Glorietta was a mess! At least compared to what I remembered of it. The section that was bombed a couple of months ago was barred. And that was where the good clothes and shoe shops were located! Darned.
We moved to the Landmark Department Store to see what they have there. My shopping experience is sadly best described by the word disaster. Well, it wasn't in the beginning until I lost my mobile phone. Hmm... In fairness to Landmark, it was my own carelessness that led to the phone getting "misplaced". When I tried on one blouse at the fitting room, I hung my phone by its pouch strap in the hook on the wall and forgot all about it when I left the fitting room.
It was a good 10 minutes before I realized that my phone was not with me anymore. And so I traced back my footsteps which led us to the saleslady who helped us located the phone at the Customer Service counter. But even after presenting my passport, id, my mobile phone number and a vivid description of my phone including the little orange Tigger charm I have hanging, it seems that the people in the customer service counter weren't convinced of my claim. My brother even saw one of the saleslady tugging on the elbow of the other saleslady who appeared to have found my phone, whispering "Itago mo na iyan. Tanga-tanga."
To settle the issue, the lady at the counter paged a manager. And this manager, an elder woman seemed to be just as corrupt. Why did I say so? Well, she "appeared" to dial my mobiles number and then blurted, "Hindi nagri-ring. Cannot be reached." When obviously, my phone is on. I am thankful to the other lady supervisor who made a call to my phone and had it ringing. And finally, they turned over the phone to me - the rightful owner. My only regret is not getting the names of those who tried to prevent me from recovering my phone. Had I only gotten your names, you might be jobless this Christmas season and I won't care a bit. Landmark should not allow dishonest people in their brood. Customer service sucks at Landmark, because the customer service providers suck even more.
After the incident, we decided to call it a night. And I guess we did pray enough to deserve a cab. Hehehe.. So it was the bus again for us - one hour travel time from Glorietta to Buendia. Tsk tsk. Very bad!
We tried to catch the last train from Buendia to Monumento. Even that was a disaster, too. They closed the gates too early. There were a lot of passengers begging to get in as at this time, only the Ticket Booths were closed and those with tickets should still be let in. But the security guards were too stupid to see the convenience that the trains offered their passengers and subject them to the gruelling travel via jeepney.
And so last night, it dawned on me, next year, I'll try to come home before the Christmas season. Why? Because eventhough Christmas is always special in the Philippines, it seems that the people doesn't care any more. Sigh.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Philippine Adventure: Cookie Greetings

It's only four days to Christmas, and it is the perfect time to send out the Cookies' Christmas Greetings before everybody goes out for the holiday break!

Merry Christmas!!! ^_^

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Philippine Adventure: Day Three - Cookie Greetings

Since my sibs still have school, and my Mama couldn't be stopped from opening the shop, I just sulked at home, practicing my "couch potato" skills which became dormant for quite some time already.

But I guess, my hands just couldn't stand being idle, and so I decided to work on the Cookie Christmas Greeting Cards to send out to our friends for the holidays.

Well, it started last year with the beautiful photo Ruben snapped of the Cookies at the Hotel Philippine Plaza. I just put a caption for greetings, and sent them through email. (Note to self: Dig up the photo and post here. Done!)

This photo is only one of the many others first posted on my ex-blog.

And this year, we intend to be loyal to this budding tradition. So far, this is what I came up with. The theme is, well, pink. Need I say more?

I'll try to come up with another version of this. But, I am sorry to disappoint you, I am sticking with the theme. ;P

I made this in Corel Paintshop Pro X. I am still a newbie in using this software. It seems that my Scrapbook Factory De Luxe needs an upgrade to be setup on a Vista machine. But I actually think it's a good Christmas gift for myself to finally learn how to use a photo-editing software. And even more thanks to Jajah for her (very) early Christmas present - a Digital Scrapbooking magazine. Really helpful! I have yet to download the freebies, but I sure am when I get back to SG. My dial-up connection now just wouldn't cut it. TOO DARNED SLOW! Sigh.

Philippine Adventure: Day Two - Kumares @ Outback

19 December 2007, Wednesday

My first dinner out with friends was at the Outback Steakhouse in Glorietta 4 with my kumares. :)

We set it at 7 pm but I was already there at 6:30 pm. Well, with the thick crowd roaming the malls, I just couldn't stand it. So, I chose the lesser evil, sit in the restaurant surrounded with mouth-watering food. Hehehe...

When I got into the restaurant, I ordered for drinks right away. That 1.5 hours travel from Caloocan to Makati surely parched my mouth and throat and had my stress level soaring sky high. Imagine, I had to run after a bus, a common scene in Metro Manila roads. I know I used to do this stunt every morning to work before I went to SG, and that's for most of the 6 years I worked here. But being exposed to how organized SG transport is, exploring the roads of Metro Manila will take some getting used to again.

Okay, let's get to the part where I was sitting in a cozy booth at Outback Steakhouse. My drinks came, and I ordered for some Fried Calamari for starters. And it was still a good 45 minutes before all of my dinner buddies showed up. And it was like before again - good food, hearty laughter, and tons of chikahan! Sigh... I miss those days.

And we capped the night off with a delectable serving of Choco Thunder from Down Under. ^_^

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Philippine Adventure: Day One

Cebu Pacific Flight 5J804 touched down at the NAIA at 4:40 am today. And so, this is Day One.
The weather is wonderful. No sign of rain unlike the last time I was here. The air is cool enough that you won't feel sweaty even only with the electric fan on.
I've unpacked and sorted out most of the pasalubongs. I've caught up on my sleeping also. And visited my Grandma this afternoon, too. Not so hectic for a first day. There is really no need to rush anyways since I'll be here for a good three weeks.
I just need to do some work on the new laptop I brought home for my siblings. And then, the pasyal and shopping shall commence!!! Hehehe...
There is just one thing missing to make my holiday vacation perfect... my Cookie. Sniff. :'(

Monday, December 17, 2007

Singapore Adventure: Handover

This is my last working day for this year 2007. ^_^
At 00:40 am, 18 December, I will be boarding the flight to Manila to spend the holidays. Yey!
I am so excited to have TJs for breakfast tomorrow which I have specifically requested from my Mama. And the diningding and itlog na maalat lunch several hours later. Hehehe..
Just some more handover documents to write, and I am all set to go. ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Singapore Adventure: Last Hurrah for Pasalubong Shopping

It's the Cookie's last weekend together in Singapore, and there are a lot of tasks to get done before the long three-week break to the Philippines.

~ o0o ~

WHEN: Saturday, 15 December 2007
WHERE: Orchard Road, Funan Digital Mall, City Link, Marina Square

My Cookie is now officially an OFW! Hehehe... The exchange rate is only at 28.40 PHP to an SG dollar, but then sending money home is non-negotiable. After all, it's the Christmas season, perfect time to practice our generosity, right? :P

After a quick trip to Lucky Plaza and being drenched with a heavy afternoon downpour, we went laptop shopping at the Funan Digital Mall in the City Hall district. We got an Acer Extensa laptop for the very affordable price of 1198 SGD (plus 3% bank charge) payable for 12 months. Not a bad deal, considering the retailer threw in some freebies - a 1 GB Toshiba USB flash disk (nowadays, what can you fit in 1 GB???), a headset (so bulky, waaah!!!), a cleaning kit (how dirty can a laptop get anyways?), a USB optical mouse (brand Hovono, what the?!), and an antivirus installer (do you know any Norman?). Hehehe.. My bad! >:)

Marina Square was our next stop. Just some window shopping really. And a hearty dinner at the 7,107 Flavours. A newly opened restaurant here in SG for Philippine Cuisine.
The ambience is very Pinoy. Pinoy band for entertainment, parols hanging from the ceiling, Tagalog speaking servers, and very Pinoy-style service (which equates to slow, sad to say).
We had Pork Sisig with Egg, Pinakbet, Grilled Pork Ribs, Garlic Rice, and bottomless soda. The bill rang up to 60 SGD. Well, fair enough. It would have been a better dinning experience had the food been served hot, because it was dead cold when it got to our table. Looking back, probably that's why they put only "Sisig" on the menu instead of "Sizzling Sisig" because though it was served on a sizzling plate, it seemed to be only for presentation purposes. The egg didn't even get cooked sitting on top of the sisig. Tsk tsk.
Looking on the bright side, we've no complaints about the staff there. It was actually the highlight of our dinner. Pinoy hospitality is indeed at it's finest at 7,107 Flavours!
Two pairs of tired legs and cab ride home to end the day.

~ o0o ~

WHEN: Sunday, 16 December 2007
WHERE: Causeway Point

Final stop is the prawn roll shop - Bee Cheng Hiang. I honestly believe I won't be let in to our house if I didn't bring home some prawn rolls. Hehe...
A total of 127 SGD was spent in that shop alone. Oh, they better feed me well when I get home! :P
A quick stop at Giordano and Bossini for some clothing items, and we were back at home again. Got to get packing.
The luggage tipped the scale at 19 kgs. Whew! That's darned close. I just hope the Ikea weighing scale (Kilan) won't fail us! :P
And on Tuesday morning, I will be waking up in the Philippines, 2397 km away from my Prince Cookie.. :'(

Monday, December 10, 2007

Singapore Adventure: What Happened to the Bangus?

At one of my grocery shopping escapades after work, I scored a nice piece of milkfish (bangus in Filipino) at Carrefour in Plaza Singapura. And instantly, warm thoughts of home came rushing to me. My Mama is fond of preparing fish dishes - paksiw, pesa, sinigang, fried to combine with pakbet, filleted to combine with guinisang monggo, escabeche, steamed, one time we even attempted fish lumpia which turned out quite deliciously. :)

Which got me thinking... How should I help this beautiful piece of bangus fulfill its life's purpose? Hehehe...

I cut the bangus in four pieces, the two pieces from the body will go together in one dish. The fish head and tail will go together in a separate dish.

Fish Dish # 1: Paksiw na Bangus

This is what happened to the two middle pieces of my bangus. I found the recipe from the internet, but kept a real good picture and memory of the taste of my Mama's home cooking.

I put the bangus slices with some crushed garlic, peppercorn, salt, ginger, vinegar and water in the pan to simmer. Turned the fish over to make sure it cooked evenly. When the water has reduced to your desired amount, it's time to take it out of the flame.

As of press time, my paksiw na bangus is still sitting in the fridge. It will surely taste better to keep it for sometime before consuming. ^_^

Fish Dish # 2: Fried Bangus

The head and tail became fried bangus. I sprinkled some salt on the fishes and then smothered them in cornstarch. When the pan of oil got hot enough, I fried them to a crisp.

It made me finish one and a half cup of rice in one sitting. I blame the toyo-mansi dip nd the cucumber salad side dish! Perfect combination.

Well, my Cookie didn't bother with the fish. He was quite happy with his cold pizza dinner from Sunday night. So, I had the fried bangus all to myself! Bwahahaha....

I know he has angst over seafood so I'll just make it upto him and prepare him something nice - most probably in the lines of spaghetti (again) before I set out for home next week.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Singapore Adventure: e-Donuts

If we have Krispy Kreme and Go Nuts Donuts in the Philippines, Singapore also has it's special donut shop that tastes just as good if not actually better. ;)
At the ground level of the Le Meridien Hotel, there is this donut place called e-Donuts. And as written on the box, their tag line is "e-quality for e-generation." Yeah, I know the tag lines kinda off, but believe me, the donuts are extremely delicious.
Yesterday, when my Cookie and I went out to do some pasalubong shopping for my upcoming Christmas vacation to the Philippines, we passed by the donut shop and purchased half a dozen of the delicious pastry.
Each of us picked three of those most appealing to us. On the picture are four of the six. The fate of the two donuts were instantly sealed as soon as the box was opened. Yum!

We used to have these sweets for dessert when I go lunching with Nikkos and Eric at the food court in the Le Meriedien Hotel basement. It's a bit of a long walk from the office, but it's well worth it. After they moved the Support Team to the Samsung Hub office, I lost my Le Meridien lunch buddies, and so I seldom go by there anymore.
Hopefully, now that I got my Cookie hooked to these delicious donuts, I can convince him to come with me to the donut shop on our weekend dates. ^_^

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Singapore Adventure: Seafood Feast

As we count down the days to Christmas, it is already starting to be chilly. The Christmas season really does bring in the cool breeze wherever part of the world you are.
And when it starts to get cold, masarap humigop ng mainit na sabaw!
For brunch today, I prepared Sinigang na Hipon. Sarap!!! ^_^
But since my Cookie is not so fond of prawns, I prepared him something else but still in the line of seafoods. This one, however, is already canned. :P Tuna with onions, plus some chili for heat.
Now, bring on the itch! Hehehe.. :P
Aside form the nice grey prawns, I was also able to score fresh milk fish at Carrefour in Plaza Singapura yesterday. I am still thinking what to do with it... Hmmm... Paksiw, Dinaing, or just plain Fried? Or all?? Hahaha...
Will post soon how the milkfish turns out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Singapore Adventure: SGD to PHP

Today, I went with Jet and Fred to Lucky Plaza to settle some business. Well, it's that day of the month when you wish really hard that the Philippine Economy is at it's lowest and so the exchange rate from SGD to PHP fares well.
But with a synchronized jaw-drop, at noon today, it was only 1 SGD to 29.00 PHP. Tsk tsk...
We often joke around, if PHP hits 20 to 1 SGD, then it's time to go back home. But then again, this last line from the above quoted article keeps ringing in my head.
"Life here is still easier. There are no jobs in the Philippines."
Aye to that.