Saturday, January 31, 2009


Whenever someone mentions cigars, you naturally think of Cub@n dictator Fidel Castr0. Locally, former Philippine President Fidel Ram0s is often seen in public sporting a cigar as his trademark gesture. Traditionally, cigars are handed out when a couple welcome a newly born baby boy into their family.

Cigars are also great gift items for any occasion. They come in their own box and are easy to gift wrap. Over at, they have a wide variety of cigars available which are sold exclusively, online. They offer everything from premium cigars, fine cigars to wholesale cigars all nicely showcased in clear visuals. They also provide cigar accessories like humidors, cigar cases, cutters and lighters.

Their extensive collection of a wide assortment of cigars is well presented in their easy to navigate website. An interactive portal with different interesting and informative sections about cigars. Their Cigar of the Month is the best way to sample the finest cigars available today in the market. Plus, all Cigar of the Month customers get 10% OFF any additional orders.

Be sure to drop by their Creative Cigar Stories section! You can submit your cigar story and get the chance to receive an Opus X humidor valued at over $1,000 in their contest. There are some great stories there, something for every cigar lover! offer prompt shipments and they guarantee to deliver fresh cigars at all cost. They are customer service oriented and you are ensured of good quality items at the most competitive prices available in the currently lucrative cigars market.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Have Passport, will Travel

Now that I got my passport (it was delivered this afternoon) with my married name to use as a valid I.D. as well as a traveling document, we can now actively plan for that mini vacation next month. Yehey. I'm already excited to go (re)visit a city I last set foot on in the early 80s. A period when it was still ruled by a monarch and I was still sporting a Princess Diana hairdo! =)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

8th monthsary

Today we "celebrate" our 8th month as a married couple! And we are as happy as we possibly can be with the loving support of our families and the countless blessings from the Almighty. Enuff said.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Some observations about my day at the DF@

1) Yesterday I had another appointment to get my passport renewed.

2) Getting up at 5 am on a chilly, rainy morning isn't pleasant for someone who likes to sleep in.

3) Thank the heavens for good taxi drivers who know shortcuts to get to our destination. He had the foresight to avoid morning traffic on Edsa and took us through the narrow roads of Caloocan all the way to the Pier area and miraculously emerged on Roxas Boulevard.

4) Due to abovementioned taxi driver, I was at the DF@ a tad early for my 9am appointment.

5) The email confirming my appointment time and date said to proceed directly to Gate 2 at 9am.

6) By 8:45am I was already seated on one of those benches along with a massive sea of people from all spectrum of society awaiting my turn to get my papers verified and evaluated.

7) When it was my turn the lady at Counter 12 told me I needed to go to the basketball court, counter B to have my papers verified. Then return to Gate 2!

8) If that is the case, shouldn't the email specifically state that I should proceed to Counter B instead of Gate 2? Ugh!

9) By then it was raining heavily but it was just across Gate 2 so I made a mad dash towards the basketball court to queue in front of Counter B.

10) The lady at Counter B takes a look at my papers and tells me I should go to Gate 2. What???!! I lashed out at her that I was instructed by lady in Counter 12 to have my papers verified at Counter B.

11) She keys in my details on the computer and stamps my picture then tells me to go to Gate 3.

12> Instead I return to Gate 2 and wait YET again at Counter 12 where a whole bunch of people were ahead of me now.

13) Some DF@ official sees my email and tells me I should queue at any of the counters 1 - 4 for appointment applicants.

14) Fine by me since the lines are shorter there.

15) At Counter 4, this time a guy upon checking my documents tell me I should go to Counter B first. Once again I lashed out that I just came from Counter B for Pete's sake! So I didn't budge.

16) He processed my papers. I noticed that he took the original copy of my NSO authenticated Marriage Certificate and stapled it along with my other documents. Good thing I requested for 2 copies from the NSO.

17) I told him I wanted my passport released after 7 working days, he issues a receipt and tells me to proceed to the Auditorium for the payment and the encoding step.

18) There are several signs leading to the Auditorium so you won't get lost.

19) First you go to the back of the auditorium to pay P500 for 14 working days or P750 for 7 working days.

20) Then you line up at the end of a very very long queue where at any point in time you need to get up, sit down on a chair and repeat the process several times as you inch your way to the front.

21) You sit and observe the surroundings, the other applicants, eavesdrop on some conversations as you can hear your stomach grumbling. You fidget with your documents, you try not to spill out the contents of your huge bag as you search for that last piece of Strepsils.

22) Once you are in front of the encoder, you need to open your eyes wide and check if she has filled in your details correctly. You sign here and there. Then get up with a piece of paper and you get up on stage.

23) Yes it is actually a stage! There are two authoritative guys in barong who tell you to stick your left and right thumbs on a ink pad and get your fingerprint on that final document.

24) There are no wet tissues or napkins of any kind on that stage so you end your passport application sojourn with black ink on both of your thumbs. Nice going!

25) The stress, the fatigue and the hunger from the almost 2 hours ordeal all faded away when I saw the smile on my husband's face. He insisted on accompanying me on his only day off and poor thing had to stand in the rain. Hopefully he won't have to endure 2 hours when he applies for his own passport, next week. Being a government employee, he can avail of the courtesy lane.

Some tips if you are going to apply for a passport or have your passport renewed:
1. Proceed directly to the entrance. Do not entertain any of the barrage of fixers outside who hound you endlessly.

2. Be sure you have all the correct documents. Photocopy every singe I.D that was issued to you in your lifetime.

3. Never trust the information on their official website. Call their hot line several times and specifically ask what are the requirements. For instance, the need for a NBI clearance isn't stated on their website but when I called their hot line I was told that first time applicants need one.

4. Wear comfortable shoes that can withstand long lines, heavy downpour and slippery surfaces due to wet floors. I made the mistake of wearing my wedges to look more 'presentable' and ended up with wet feet.

5. Do bring a small umbrella which you can use to protect you from the harsh rays of the sun or that sudden heavy rainfall.

6. Do not listen to people seated beside you asking if you have a photocopy of any i.d.! You will just end up panicking that you weren't able to photocopy your voters i.d. To be safe, follow my tip # 2.

7. You are not allowed to bring anyone with you unless that person is also going to apply for a passport. Your companion will have to wait outside the allowed areas.

8. You can have your passport delivered to your residence or office through a number of messenger services. They can be found at the basketball court across Gate 2.

9. Be very very very patient!

10. Keep a positive attitude unless provoked by unreasonable counter staff!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Schmap Salzburg 6th Edition

I received this email from flickr:
I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly released sixth edition of our Schmap Salzburg Guide:

Hellbrunn Castle and Park

If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, then this same link will take you directly to your photo in the iPhone version of our guide. On a desktop computer, you can still see exactly how your photo is displayed and credited in the
iPhone version of our guide at:

Hellbrunn Castle and Park

Thanks so much for letting us include your photo - please enjoy the guide!

Hellbrunn Palace Salzburg

This is the picture which was featured in their Salzburg guide which was taken by my sister sometime in March of 2001. We traveled to several places in Europe and Austria was part of our itinerary. We stayed in Vienna for a few days and took a train to Salzburg for a day trip. It was freezing cold but still tolerable enough for me to not wear my red woolen hat. The yellow baroque style building is part of the Hellbrunn castle. It was the summer vacation house of the Hapsburg family of Austria. A sprawling place with beautiful gardens, manicured lawns and its famous trick fountains which is only operational during summer. So we weren't able to see its magical tricks. I really cherish that European trip. And this picture brought back very fond memories of my travels. =)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Yummy Food, Nippy Weather and a little mishap on the way to the Chapel on a Hill

The title best describes our trip to Tagaytay last Monday, December 29. We left Manila at around 9:30am and headed for the SLEX which was undergoing pockets of road construction. Merging of lanes here, there and everywhere, traffic bound for the Santa Rosa exit though was still moderately light.

First stop was lunch!

They ran out of crispy tawilis and crispy crablets. So we feasted on ginataang kuhol (my favorite), bulalo, tortang talong, grilled hito and fried tuna belly. We were seated outside in a little nipa hut with a great view of Taal lake and volcano and the weather was a pleasant mix of cold breeze with overcast gloomy skies.

Then we shoved off to Caleruega in Nasugbu, Batangas. If you are familiar with the Tagaytay area, you would know that there is a huge C@sino Filipino establishment in front of the newly developed Taal Vista Hotel. It is a busy intersection as there are a number of cars coming out of the C@sino, going to the Hotel and others making their way to Batangas. We were in full stop right outside the C@sino when a SUV bumped us from behind. The driver claims that we were reversing. That is not possible. We were in full stop and certainly not moving a single inch. But there wasn't any heavy damage to either cars. The other party wasn't willing to shelve out any money to pay for the scratch on our car. There wasn't any filing of a police report. The guy told us he will be contacting us yet so far nothing, not even a text message. We simply didn't want to ruin the whole day by a little inconvenient mishap so we still made our way to the little Chapel on a Hill.

It was my first time to go there. There was a wedding about to take place so I wasn't able to fully explore the inside of the Church. But I did manage to take a sneak peek inside to see the magnificent stained glass interiors. It had a very cozy and intimate feel to it and the chilly weather added to its quaint charm.

After countless pictures taken from all angles of the chapel, we left the parents by the main entrance of the place because they were already tired. My sister, D and I decided to explore the stations of the cross, the koi pond as well as the hanging suspension bridge.

It was a beautiful place to explore, commune with nature, do some reflecting and just soak in the pure clean air of Batangas.

By the time we left C@leruega, the sun was about to set. We made a quick dash to Mary Ridge to buy some ube jam and suman sa lihia made by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. We stopped by for an early dinner at Mushroom Burger before heading back to Manila through the unlighted lanes of the SLEX.