Friday, March 30, 2012

Short vacay

Well I meant that this blog will be on a hiatus.

We are going to attend my uncle's funeral, tomorrow.

On Sunday, my sister is coming home for the Holy Week.

Yay it's R & R bonding time hence no blogging posts.

So whether you will be at the beach, at some family outing or just staying put in a reflective mood, let's all remember that it is called Holy Week for a reason.

Have a blessed and solemn Semana Santa.

Till next blog post, be safe everyone!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The old hometown looks the same ...

It was a sad weekend for the family as we were awoken with news that my father's youngest brother had passed away after suffering an asthmatic attack. My father hails from one of the prominent families in a town in the province of Cavite. But, by prominence I don't mean wealth but stature and respect.

My father is the eldest in a brood of 5 siblings. He worked himself to the bone to provide for his siblings, sent them to school, took care of them even though we lived overseas for long periods of time. He never failed in his huge obligation as the eldest son of a family that fell on hard times during the second World War. Their family is well known in that tiny town with its rolling hills and rice fields.

It was a big shock that my uncle (who was 20 years younger than my dad) would pass on, so suddenly. My father is devastated, to say the least. Early Sunday morning with heavy hearts, our grieving souls made our way to his hometown. The last time, my parents went home was in 2006 to attend the burial of a relative. Me, I haven't been on Cavite soil in ages. But D & I tagged along as it was an opportunity for me to reconnect with my relatives as well as introduce D to my father's side of the family.

As most wakes in the Philippines goes, it turned into a big reunion of the different clans. All my younger cousins have large families of their own. There were kids of all shapes and sizes gathered in the ancestral home. Me, being the oldest 'granddaughter' was welcomed with open arms. We mingled, we ate, we were boisterous beyond comprehension. It was a very noisy environment with babies crying, kids playing, my aunts' very animated 'kwentos'. It seemed like the whole town was present at the wake. Even though it was a sad occasion, we enjoyed the company of our relatives who never seem to run out of stories to tell.

D 'survived' the intense scrutiny with flying colors. My relatives were clearly impressed with him and couldn't stop gushing over his good looks, kuno. Hopefully next time after we attend the funeral, we would get a chance to go around so I can show D the historical landmarks of my father's hometown.

It didn't seem appropriate to take photos during a wake but I managed to snap some shots of the historically renowned church - the Parish Church of the Assumption of our Lady.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Have keys, will enter

I have my own set of keys to everything. Keys to this apartment, the condo unit, my parents' house, the 2 cars (even though I don't know how to drive) even to the cabinets/book shelves/closets/drawers of pieces of furniture found in different places. So I can easily access these places, vehicles if need be. This trait is something I inherited from my dad. He always makes sure, we have spare keys to everything that can be locked.

So coming from that background and with that frame of mind, I certainly don't get it when people don't have their own keys. I mean hey it's fine with me if you weren't trained that way BUT for the love of peaceful early mornings don't shout at the top of your voice for your partner to unlock the gate.

Sleeping is one of my fave things to do. But I'm a very light sleeper. The bark of a dog, the roaring engine of a tricyle/jeep, people's loud voices even though they are just walking by - anything can trigger me to wake up in an instant.

Naturally someone shouting at the gate for her husband to wake up and unlock the gate would get me in a really foul mood. Is it right to disturb people from their precious sleep at 4:30 in the morning? If you knew you would be coming in late, won't it be practical to bring your own key? Why are people so full of themselves and don't care if their inconsiderate behavior will cause a disturbance?

Being subjected to her incessant shouting, I wanted to wake up D and tell him to go downstairs and unlock the gate for her. Yet I remembered that D being the very cautious person that he is, he once told me (yes this has occurred several times before and always courtesy of the crazy people who live in the 4th apartment) we cannot really trust people. What if she wasn't really living there and just wanted to enter then harm anyone who lets her in? You never know and you can't be too careful.

He told me then to just 'try' to go back to sleep. That is easier for him to say since he can sleep at the drop of a hat or in this case the moment his head hits the pillows. For me, I would toss and turn. My mind would wander off into random thoughts which would keep me more awake. I would get all riled up at the rudeness of their actions. It would take me forever to calm down and invite sleep back into my conscience.

Then before you know it, the sun is already shining. A new day has begun. I need to get up even though I lack sleep. I'm in a bad mood. I'm pissed off. That's how my Lenten Friday started today. A day when Metro Manila scorched at 34.7 degree Celsius, hottest recorded this year. Hot (headed) indeed!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Random observations on a Wednesday

  • Prank calls are the stupid doings of lonely, bored and boring personalities.

  • But getting a prank call as a wake up call sucks super duper big time!

  • Nowadays, the first websites I log on when I go online are my facebook and twitter pages.

  • FB to gawk at other people's vacation pictures and silently wishing I was on vacay too.

  • Strangely enough I now get news updates from tweets! Shocking, no?

  • As well as juicy bits of gossip from reality stars supposedly now known as celebrities.

  • And minute by minute tweets about the ongoing Impeachment trial of the CJ from all parties concerned. From the media, the attorneys, the senator judges themselves and a whole gamut of people who are tuned in regularly. It is addictive!

  • I've also gotten into heated arguments with people whose views I've opposed.

  • Come on, people! Just because I disagree with your opinions doesn't make me a negative person. I'm just expressing my views, geez! Lighten up.

  • To ease the 'tension' I log off and play Scrabble on FB.

  • Nothing beats widening your vocabulary, any time!

  • I decided to fry tilapia for dinner which I really hate. I mean I dislike frying fish not the fish itself. I got oil spats all over my tank top, the skin of the fish got stuck to the bottom of the pan and I 'ruined' the dish!

  • That's it! Next time I will leave the frying of marine life creatures to D. God bless him ... he can fry fish without losing his sanity. :D

  • Despite repeated warnings from the Church annotators for people to dress appropriately when they attend mass, I still see people (mostly teenagers) in tank tops and short shorts.

  • You devote only ONE hour every week to worship so have the decency to respect the rules. Parents need to teach good morals and lead by example. Unless, of course when the parents themselves break the rules. Tsk tsk.

  • In church, sitting behind families with small cute babies can be very very distracting. Most of the time (during the entire mass) you end up cooing and making funny faces at the toddlers. Bad, yon! But I'm guilty as charged.

  • During this month First Friday mass, an old lady (must be around 60+) squeezed herself into the pew. She sat herself beside me. Come on, if you are going to hear mass be early or on time. If not, then just stand at the back of the Church. Don't force yourself into the pew when you can CLEARLY see that it is already full.

  • The funny thing is that the other lady who was seated on her right side, kept berating the late comer to go sit somewhere else. She kept whispering 'puno na kami dito, lipat kayo sa ibang lugar' But what does the latecomer do? She totally ignored the other lady and even inched herself more into the pew.

  • Gosh! There you are inside a place of worship where you are supposed to be in a prayerful mode and you have two women (old ones at that) squabbling over a seat! Only thing I can say is that you would think that women of their stature would know and behave way better than most people. Grabe.

  • That is one thing I cannot stand - inconsiderate people who don't give a hoot about their bad behavior. Unfortunately, their lot seems to be increasing instead of diminishing.

  • I am in a constant state of worry that with the price of every commodity, services and utilities increasing at an alarming rate, we would end up sacrificing too much of our already very spartan lifestyle. God have mercy!

  • I got to watch a movie (after my first friday mass) at the cinemas, after such a long time. Then I immediately regretted it because the ticket was priced at 200pesos. As I was watching the film ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close") I kept thinking I could have bought 200 pesos worth of groceries, instead! But I really enjoyed the film so it was such a guilty pleasure.

  • Finally, I am really hoping that my sister will be able to take some time off this Holy Week. She needs a break to spend some time with her family here. It would also be a break for me from my routine. So please make it happen, now na!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

CIty of Dreams, Macau (December 26, 2011)

The lake performance at the Wynn Hotel was spectacular but our tummies were now grumbling from hunger. So we took a shuttle bus to "the City of Dreams". This huge complex is located in the Cotai strip. It is a big podium with four towers namely the Hard Rock Hotel, Crown Towers Hotel, and the Grand Hyatt Macau with its 2 towers. Its 3 floors includes a mega-casino, 200 high end shopping outlets, a food court, restaurants and bars and hotel guest facilities.

This is the Virtual Aquarium. It combines live action with CG animation to create a illusion like show that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. Using two enormous custom designed screens, it shows a rare glimpse into a mystical world under the sea. Larger than life mermaids swim onscreen and into the distance at the end of the short show.

Located in front of the City of Dreams complex is the majestic The Venetian Macao. It was the first casino/hotel built in the Cotai strip of Macau. We had our dinner, spent a few minutes at the slot machines (yet again), and took loads of pictures outside with The Venetian in the background.

We took the shuttle bus to the ferry terminal to catch the last ferry back to Hong Kong. But upon reaching the counters, we find out that all of the seats were already booked. The next ferry was at 6AM! Suddenly, one of the counters announced a special trip at 2:10 AM with limited seats. Luckily, we were in the correct counter so we snapped up 5 seats. Since it was only around 10:45PM, we decided to hop over to the MGM Grand!

We returned to Hong Kong at the unholy hour of 4 in the morning of December 27, 2011. We were exhausted from the very long day, and also very sleepy. But we had so much fun, took tons of pictures and truly cherish our wonderful Macau experience. I hope I can go back so I can watch those spectacular shows like the Cirque du Soleil and the House of Dancing Water extravaganza. So until then, I humbly remain a big fan of M-A-C-A-U!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Things have been really bad. Unfortunately it seems it would continue to decline rapidly in the coming days even months. I'm talking about the economy. In the past 2 weeks, gas prices have spiraled without any relief in sight. And you all know once gasoline prices go up, then prices of commodities will also increase.

Lately, I noticed my grocery bill has spiked up even though I still buy the same items every week. So now I buy small(er) portions of items like dish washing liquids, insect repellent, canned goods and dairy products. My eyes spark whenever I see the term 'discount' in stores.

I've been diligently collecting points from my cellphone load so I could redeem rewards like gift cards which would go a long way in alleviating my grocery bill. I believe it is the same all over the world. A distant relative living in the US told me she has turned to a coupon lady. She accumulates Walmart gift cards for her shopping needs.

We are implementing cost cutting measures in our household. We recently downgraded our cable TV subscription to a basic plan. Sure, there are now fewer TV channels but the monthly bill will be "slightly" reduced. We are also thinking of canceling our telephone land line and just rely on our cellphone (to make calls) for our communication needs.

Times are hard. We have no choice but to tighten our belts to survive!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wynn Hotel Macau (December 26, 2011)

After we were through exploring the majestic Grand Lisboa hotel, we crossed over (took the connecting underpass) to the Wynn hotel.

On the way, we caught several glimpses of the Macau Tower

The 2,200-meter Sai Van bridge links Macau peninsula with Taipa islet. The bridge is the gateway to Cotai, known as casino capital of China.

Here is the facade of the Wynn hotel

The grand interiors

Then we 'wasted' time at the casinos where you all know it is prohibited to take pictures. We didn't really win big at the slot machines. Just 'barya' to while away the time. I get bored easily so I just played for a few minutes. I cannot just sit and press those buttons over and over and over again! It isn't entertaining, for me. On the other hand, my dear mother can just sit and play for hours. It is therapeutic, daw!

At around 7pm, we caught the hugely entertaining musical show known as the performance lake. It is a spectacular show featuring dancing water jets with dazzling lights and flames. It is shown daily from 7pm onwards (with 15 minutes intervals) at the fountain area of the Wynn Macau.


Monday, March 12, 2012

General cleaning

This hot sweltering month of March marks the end of yet another school year, here in Pinas. D will be extremely busy grading the final exams as well as encoding the grades of all the classes he handles this semester. Then it is vacation time for him. 2 1/2 months of taking a break from teaching, grading and other extracurricular school activities.

We are not really big on summer vacation. Because for one, it is going to be too hot to really enjoy. We are both NOT beach bodies more like home bodies. We will just be sharing and enjoying quiet moments of bonding over iced tea, ice cream and internet connection. Secondly, our budget constraints prevent us from spending like crazy on summer getaways.

This year also marks the 4th year of living in this rented 2 storey apartment. I feel it is time we did a general cleaning to de-clutter our home. It is funny how much 'junk' one accumulates in a span of a few months not to mention 4 years. I want to get rid of old clothes and shoes, damaged appliances, empty boxes of gadgets and appliances that just gather dust. Basta I just want to make this place more presentable. More livable, so to speak.

I was also thinking of turning "the computer room" into a more professional office space complete with decent office chairs. My work from home station needs some sprucing up. After all, a comfortable working environment will inspire me to be compose more blog entries.

So yes that is what I'm looking forward to this summer 2012. Be more productive. More creative. While trying not to melt in these soaring temperatures. Anyway, I could just take more showers to freshen up. So bring it on!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Grand Lisboa Macau (December 26, 2011)

The hotel casinos in Macau are located in several parts of the Portuguese colony. The ones we visited were the closest to the historical sights. A fair walking distance away like about 2 blocks from Senado Square.

Our first stop was the Grand Lisboa Hotel. A massive structure in the shape of a pineapple plant. It is situated in the same block with Hotel Lisboa and Casino Lisboa.

I was impressed with the decors inside the Grand Lisboa Hotel.

The hotel caters mostly to the Mainland Chinese market

So most of the decors were reflective of the Chinese culture

Quite opulent

It was all lighted up at night!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Awkward, anyone?

It has been really really hot lately. Summer has officially graced our tropical nation with temperatures reaching a sizzling 34 degress Celsius, the other day.

At home, my usual garb is a tank top, shorts and my hair in a ponytail. Not glamorous. No makeup. No contacts. Plain, nerdy (thick glasses on), 'losyang' look all day, all week long. Sometimes, my neck and my back are covered with baby powder so I have the unflattering 'geisha' look.

My layered, wavy hair is at a strange length. The side parts are shorter than the back. I tend to wear a head band to keep the shorter hair strands off my face. The rest are tied with a ponytail then I put it up on my head with some plastic hair accessory (I don't know what it is called) to keep my neck, hair-free.

The other day, I couldn't find my usual head band so I grabbed the one I bought at HK Disneyland. You know, the one with Mini Mouse ears on them. I went on with my usual online activities, my household chores (cleaning, dusting, cooking).

Suddenly, the messenger knocks on our door to deliver our cable TV bill. I rush down and opened the front door. As I was signing the invoice, the messenger said "Ma'am, mukhang bumabata kayo ha" with a silly grin on his face. At first, I couldn't get what he meant. I thought it was kinda rude of him to comment or remark, he normally doesn't say anything at all. Then I realized he was referring to my head band and that drove me into a giggling fit. I tend to giggle when I am caught in some awkwardly embarrassing moment.

Note to self: Next time you open the front door, check to make sure you don't look silly or else bare the consequences of your appearance!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Magnificent Macau (December 26, 2011)

It was the day after Christmas 2011, we set foot on Macau soil for the second time. Our first visit in February 2009 was a brief half day tour so we weren't able to explore much.

Since it was officially a holiday (Boxing day), most of the ferry rides were fully booked. We managed to get 5 seats for the 11:00 am ferry then made a mad dash to the boarding gate. An hour later, we were in Macau, the immigration counters were brimming with people of different nationalities waiting in line.

But the long wait was worth it once we saw the amazing sights of Macau! First stop was the Ruins of St Paul's Cathedral.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

A 17th century Portuguese Cathedral dedicated to St Paul the Apostle, it was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in the 1800s

The ruins consists of the baroque stone facade of the Church and the 66 stone steps leading up to the entrance

In the crypt, there is a chapel of the bone relics of martyrs. It contains the Cross of St Paul and the bone relics of the martyrs

In the museum of Sacred Art, there are several paintings. A painting of the martyrdom of Catholics in Japan. Among them Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz, our first saint.

Then we had to squeeze our way through the crowd to get back to Senado Square.

We said a little prayer at St Dominic's Church.

Main altar of St Dominic's Church.

It was already around 2pm when we had a very late lunch at NOW Cafe.

Our meals were mostly Portuguese fare like Bacalao fried rice and beef stew.

Then a few steps away from the NOW Cafe was the Cathedral of Macau.

The Cathedral is located in Plaza de Se.

It has beautifully carved wooden Stations of the Cross.

Elaborate main altar of the Cathedral of Macau.

A long walk back to Senado Square with its numerous colorful and historical buildings.

Christmas display in front of the Post office of Macau, Senado Square

Senado Square

Senado Square

D & D @ Senado Square

Then it was time to make the rounds of the different casinos. And it deserves an entirely separate post ... so this Macau series will be continued.