My 2010: Highlights and then some

I’ve been going through several drafts of this post, figuring out what to write as a year-ender. In the past, I’ve done this survey about the past year. I’ll still do that, but I wanted to do something else. I don’t know what, but I’ve been inspired by several people’s posts.

There’s Kimmeh’s “first” post, where listed down things she did or experienced for the first time. Then there’s the various gratitude posts, which I truly would love to do, as I feel that 2010 was the year that I have so much to be thankful about. I decided to do a bit of both, since most of the firsts are also things I’m thankful for.

Being able to travel
This year I was able to get out of the usual places I go to. I went on a rather impromptu trip with my best friend and my brother to Bicol. It was the first trip Nez and I ever took together so it was fun. We had a lot of misadventures from the get-go but everything else was just great. It was also a first for so many things: Wakeboarding, going to Peñafrancia, Daraga Church, etc. It was also Miks’ first time on a plane.

I was also able to go to Bohol, and with a people I barely knew except through Plurk. It’s something out of my comfort zone, because I always believed that it was best to go someplace with people you know. However, I was proven to be wrong and had an amazing time with them.

It was also a thrill for me to bring some friends to Zambales. Even though I’ve been inviting people to visit, this is only the second time that friends really took me up on my invitation.

Celebrations with the family
This summer, Mama’s family took a vacation in Candelaria. We spent the weekend there, singing, swimming, eating and having a great time. For Mama and Nunik’s birthday, my Tita Ruth took us to Tagaytay for the weekend. It was great fun as I was with my crazy family and it allowed Mama to catch up with her siblings. Food and laugh trip all the way. It’s something I’m so very happy to have had.

This year we also had a string of family food gatherings, cookouts and trips, mostly with the Bañares side of the family. We went to Binondo, then had several food cookouts (including my birthday) and dinner whenever Tita Ruth and Tito Vic would arrive from a trip abroad.

Lolo Sal also celebrated his 85th birthday. We invited people who knew him from way back, and it was the first gathering we had for him since Lola passed away years ago. I think he enjoyed it, and I’m glad we had the chance to give him that.

Papa also won a position in the town council as kagawad in this year’s elections. It was a tight race, and even with all the challenges he won.

New friends
This year was when I expanded my circle of friends. Most of them are people I met through those I already know, or I got to know better through Plurk (I love that site). In a year’s time, I’ve gone on trips with them, eat all sorts of food, start a new hobby, saw them get married and seen all sorts of things (good ones, mostly).

This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. There’s a lot more things I’m grateful for that happened in 2010. While it’s not the best year, it isn’t the worst either. There were so many challenges this year, but I’m so thankful to have hurdled them. 2011 will bring new challenges, and I think I’m set to face them. I’ve got my family, and I’ve got true friends who I know will help me, support me and give me a kick in the butt if they know I’m being stupid.

And without further ado, my yearly survey!
Continue reading My 2010: Highlights and then some

Darren Criss: Totally Awesome

I was giddy when I heard the news of Darren Criss coming to the Philippines. I’ve long been a fan of his since I saw “A Very Potter Musical” months back. I was also a fan of the entire Team Starkid because of all the love and effort they put to make this project. There’s also “Little White Lie”, “Me and My Dick” and of course, “A Very Potter Sequel”. A new project “Starship” will be showing soon.

When the news that Darren was going to be on Glee, I was half excited, half skeptic. As I always am when something I like breaks into the mainstream, I was worried how this would affect the Starkid fandom. Darren himself had an inkling about this and said in one tweet of his:

StarKid fans, meet your new baby brother GLEE. We’re all family now, so play nice ok? Remember, this doesn’t mean that I love you any less. Darren Criss, Nov. 10, 2010.

Let’s face it. Fans can be rabid and petty, especially if it’s about a person and they’ve crossed boundaries, there’s bound to be “I knew him first!” wars. I’m guilty of this, even though I try to curb it.

So, Darren on Glee. Excited too, yes. When he came out… um. I loved “Teenage Dream”, but to be honest, I didn’t like his role, and I still don’t. I had long stopped watching Glee, and I guess I didn’t really miss out. But I still love Darren… and Joey, Joe W, Bonnie, Devin and the rest of the Starkids.

Tonight, thanks to Glee’s popularity, I had the good fortune of watching Darren Criss perform live at Trinoma. I was with Presea, who used her A-Card to get free passes. We were surrounded by fangirls, most of whom we thought were there for Glee. Ah, we were mistaken. They were Starkid fans. A lot of Starkid fans. It was fun for us, probably not for those sitting behind them.

The kids loved our AVPM/HP Musical poster, but the Ayala people didn’t so they took it in until after the show. Boo. We also made a new friend who knew every single song that Darren sang. The stage was rather far from the audience. There was still a big gap between the edge of the stage to the first few rows so cameras had to be in zoom mode. Too bad my video camera had a limited zoom, so Darren looks really small.

Darren. Ah, Darren. Watching you live has further cemented my awe of you. Hearing you sing your songs live has made Starkid the more real for me. I sang every single song that you played, nearly lost my voice but boy, it was fun. Best song of the night? Well, all of the Starkid and Human songs, but I truly enjoyed “Granger Danger” and “Getting Back to Hogwarts”. Seriously, singing that long song and letting us go crazy with it? Totally awesome.

I think the people who were there just for Glee were totally shocked when a lot of us started singing out loud to the songs they didn’t know. Especially with the two songs I mentioned. I also loved how often he mentioned Starkid. That’s where it all started and while they weren’t physically with him, the songs made them feel a heck of a lot closer. Seriously, no drama.

While my heart is still disappointed and somewhat bitter that I didn’t get any passes for either the meet & greet or the CD signing, knowing that I’m more a fan than half those who got their stuff signed, I feel happy. I repeat. I am happy. Really 🙂 In any case, if Darren or any of the Starkids read this, please send me something signed by you *wishful thinking*

I’m currently editing the pictures and figuring out how to work the videos that I have. I got all of his performances. For a list of the songs he sang, please see this post. For the meantime, I shall head off to bed.

Edit: First video up. “Not Alone”

5th Christmas Toy Con

Today, I went to the 5th Christmas Toy Fair. It was also a joint event with the Mom’s Holiday Finds. I really wasn’t planning to get anything, but I was hoping to score some Pinky:St parts from Akihabara Toys. It was also my first trip outside after a week’s seclusion thanks to my infected eye. My sister gave me the go-signal to go out, so long as I take care of myself.

Yue, Ryan and I agreed to be there at 10 AM so we can maximize the morning. Yue arrived first while the mall was still closed. I arrived a few minutes later and Ryan came much, much later, thanks to the traffic in his area.

While waiting for Ryan, Yue and I went ahead exploring the booths that were there. According to Yue, this was a much bigger event than the last one she attended. Ryan said the same thing later on, that the space for the 2009 con was smaller than this year’s.


Here is the Akihabara Toys booth. They’re a toy store located at Malolos, Bulacan. Field trip, my fellow toy collectors?

Japanimation also had a booth there.

Since there’s so much to see, I will refrain from trying to write something in a narrative form. Instead, I will spam you with pictures (which you will see by clicking on “Read more” below) and provide some comments.

Continue reading 5th Christmas Toy Con

Dear Universe

I started blogging in late 2003, and since then, there’s this meme that I do every year. It started in Livejournal, and I first saw it through Roch of magnetic-rose.net. It’s where you write down ten things you want for Christmas, and your LJ friends will try to fulfill them for you. It doesn’t have to be a wishlist full of expensive, material things. It can also have silly things like “I want someone to go with me to an STP concert” or something.

This year, I made my list (I decided to keep it in LJ for sentimental reasons) and some friends did theirs too. However, thanks to a post on Plurk from Yvie, I thought I’d make another wishlist, this time full of things that I want to happen rather than material things that I want to have.

It’s a more tough list to make because these are things that aren’t really that easy to think of, if you get my drift. These are things that you know will affect you, your life and possibly the people around you too.

So what grand things do you wish the Universe will grant you?

House Arrest

It’s the fourth day of my house arrest. I started counting from Monday, where I first took a sick leave. I am very grateful that there’s Internet, or else I’d be bored silly. I’m also thankful that even though it’s my eye that’s infected, I can still use it. I have a cousin who occasionally get severe eye allergy and he literally is blind for a few days.

“It’s tough not to be able see, Ate,” he told me the last time he had this allergy attack. “You can’t read, you can’t watch TV, you can’t play video games. There’s music to listen to but that’s still not much.” True indeed. If I played a musical instrument it would be fine, I suppose. But my guitar lacks a string and there’s only so much I can play without resorting to chords.

I’m not making much sense now, am I?

This eye virus/infection is really something. I am not really sick, meaning I don’t have any fever or anything that renders me physically incapable of getting out, going to work and doing my job. However, it’s the kind of illness that makes you stay home because it’s quite contagious, and it doesn’t look pretty. I’ve gone through several rolls of tissue because it’s like I’m crying all the time. *sigh*

Anyway, I’m off to the doctor. My youngest brother Dion said that it’s healing how since I’m “crying” all the time. I’ll be glad to get rid of this. While getting some rest is nice, I’d like to go back to my regular schedule.

Update
Just go back from the clinic. I went to Medical City at SM Marikina and the doctor who attended to me was Dr. Jaime P. Capco. He said that while the problem with my eye is not contagious (so you don’t have to run when you see me people), it is caused by a bacterial. He had me do some tests (which proved that my eyesight is still pretty good) and said that I need two medicines: one to drop on my eye and the other to take orally to fight the bacteria. I can go out and work, he said, but I’d better take some precaution to protect my eyes. If by Saturday it’s still like this, I have to go back and see him.

I hope the medicines will take effect ASAP. As nice as the doctor was, I don’t want to see him again, and I mean that in a good way. 🙂

Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

Last Saturday, I attended the wedding celebration of my friend Fristine to Alvin. There’s a lot of things unique about this wedding, not just on how it was celebrated, but also how I got acquainted with the couple. Fristine was a friend of my friend Lornadahl. I’ve never really spoken to her before, but Lorna asked if she could bring Fristine along when we planned on the Zambales trip a few months back. I said sure, because the more the merrier.

In all honestly, as much as I like to meet new people, I am very shy… to the extent that people see me as a snob. I am rather nervous at meeting friends of friends because I’m afraid that we may have nothing in common. There was no such thing with Fristine. From the get go, I was in awe of this woman who took whatever life had to offer — bad or good — and make it uniquely her own. The more time I spend with her, the more I admire her and oddly enough, the more I believe in myself. I don’t know if you’ll understand what I mean, but sometimes, you meet people who unconciously make you want to be a better person, people who inspire you simply because of who they are. Fristine was like that, and while I’ve got a long way to go before I’m truly happy with myself, I believe that I’ve changed for the better ever since I met her.

We don’t meet up much in real life, most of our talks were mostly on the Internet. Imagine my surprise when she not only invited me to join her wedding celebrations, but also to help make the invitations. I was floored, and very humbled. Here was this awesome woman asking me to create something for her. Pressure!

Fast forward to a few months later. Plans of having a bridal shower for Fristine was hatched through email and text messaging. Ideas flew, from hiring a macho dancer to what food to prepare. In the end, we fell back to the theme of her wedding: simple, intimate and a reflection of the things the bride believed in. We had dinner at Corner Tree Cafe in Jupiter St., Makati. I immediately fell in love with the place, cozy and homey. The food, wow. I’m a carnivore, and have long lived on the “meals are not complete if there isn’t at least on meat dish” mantra. However, the food here was so flavorful that you wouldn’t even look for meat. I enjoyed every bite and want more!

It was a lovely evening of good food and great company. Fristine had already been out with Lornadahl and Ces, and she didn’t really have an idea what was going on. When she saw who else was there, she was truly surprised. I was pretty excited myself that I spilled the beans on who else was coming haha. Sorry.

The Wedding
Fristine’s wedding day fell on the same birthday as my best friend, Carmenez. The first thing I did before accepting Fristine’s invitation was to ask Nez if she had anything special planned, especially as it was her 30th birthday. When she said she didn’t, I accepted the wedding invite. It was hard to choose between two good friends, one whom who’ve had for nearly all your life, and one whom you’ve just met. I feel blessed that both friends were that amazing.

Fristine and Alvin celebrated their wedding in a very unique way. The ceremony itself, held at the Filipinas Heritage Library, was for their family, and while many expressed their disappointment in not seeing the two exchange their vows, everyone understood. The second part was a guided tour at the Ayala Musuem, which the couple said they wanted to do in order to be able to share with their guests how wonderful the Philippines is and how much we can do to help bring it to its full glory. The tour made me both sad and happy.

We saw the exhibit of works by National Artists Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo, gold works of our ancestors from the Pre-Hispanic era, the diorama exhibit and more.

Closing the day’s festivities was dinner at Travel Cafe Philippines in Greenbelt 5. It’s my first time to try the place and I love it. The Pancit Buko was very tasty and filling, and you don’t feel guilty eating a lot.

The rest of the night was spent with much laughter. I had a great time meeting all these people that were there to help celebrate the couple’s union. I was both in awe and utterly humbled by these people.

Thank you Fristine and Alvin for sharing this part of your journey together with us. I look forward to your adventures in the years to come!

Hello weekend

I woke up yesterday with my right eye feeling a bit swollen. It didn’t look like it was bitten by an insect, so I didn’t give it much thought. When I got to the office, Gio commented that it was somewhat red. The nurse at the clinic gave me some eye drops to help relieve it. Later, I went to see the company doctor who told me that I might have viral conjunctivitis. She gave me a med cert and told me to go home.

I missed out on the office get-together, but that’s all right. I’d rather be here than infect everybody, then we’d all be out on Monday. Weeee. The business would love that.

Human Heart Nature haul
After a long time, I finally got to order some things from HHN. They’ve released several new products this year, which replaced some of the things that they’re removing from their line up. I’m a bit sad that the mango butter conditioner line is phased out, and they’re just emptying out their stock. It’s my favorite conditioner, and the peppermint one is really very nice.

I decided to get their new balancing facial wash. Fristine had the privilege of testing that before it launched and she said it was great. I must agree. It’s made for normal, oily or combination skin, which is exactly what I have. This wash is so refreshing and it makes my skin feel very clean. I haven’t tried the toner yet, but I will hopefully soon.

I also have the hand sanitizer, which is small enough to fit my bag. I didn’t like the smell at first, but when I got used to it, it was pretty nice. They also have a new make-up like called “Love Minerals” but since I don’t wear make-up, I’m not sure if I want to try it. Still, HHN has a lot of hits with me. I look forward to trying out their new products.

Food trip: Sambokojin Yakiniku

Last Thursday turned out to be food trip day. The guys decided that they wanted to try out that new smokeless grill place above Something Fishy in Eastwood called Sambokojin Yakiniku Smokeless Grill. We’ve been seeing the ads about it for quite some time now, and we thought it would be nice to give it a try. The day before, Arpee passed by and inquired about their prices and service, so he was raring to go, as was Gio. At first, I didn’t want to because I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry, but then again, I’m glad I gave in.

“Sambokojin”, as the waiter told us, is the Japanese god of the kitchen, which should be very apt for the restaurant since in essense it’s one big kitchen, since you cook your own food at the grill on your table. Sambokojin (the restaurant, not the god) has several sections of food that’s already prepared, like the wide selection of Japanese sushi and sashimi, as well as choices of other Japanese and Korean dishes.

The restaurant also has a wide array of meat for grilling. The clever thing they did was to arrange it by sauce, so you can take your pick of different sorts of meat marinated in teriyaki, kimchi or the special Sambokojin sauce. Seafood is also available and there was also choices of bacon-wrapped goodies. I’m a big fan of the Shitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and asparagus.

Sauces are also available on your table. The Sambokojin sauce is a favorite.

There’s also a good selection of desserts and salads, which I unfortunately didn’t get to taste. I tried their ice cream and some pastries, but I feel that I wasn’t able to really taste them because I was so full. It’s enough reason to go back.

Buffet prices vary. Lunch during Mondays to Fridays are P495, while dinner is P595. Lunch and dinner on weekends are both P595. Not a bad deal right?

I waddled out of Sambokojin a very happy customer. Not only was the food good, but the service top notch. No sooner than I finished the contents of one plate, a service crew is right there to whisk it away. They also call you by your name, which is really nice, making the dining experience more personal. You also won’t have to run back and forth if you need an extra plate while getting your food because the entire shelf below the choices are full of plates.

My only complaint? An hour’s lunch break isn’t enough.

You can read Arpee’s post about Sambokojin here.

Update: Sambokojin will open a branch along EDSA! I saw a sign next to Dad’s/Saisaki. That’s great news for those who find Eastwood far away! More updates! I think the EDSA branch is now open! I passed by it the other day (I was on the MRT hehe). If anyone can confirm, I’d appreciate it! 🙂

Techie woes

My phone’s ancient. By today’s standards of smartphones and tablets, my phone should’ve been replaced years ago. It’s a first generation touch phone, when Nokia was still working on its Symbian phones with sliding keypads, mine was already revolutionary for being a colored phone that looks better but works as well as a Palm.

I’ve had my Sony Ericsson P800 since 2004, and I got it with much drama. I’ve lost it thrice, dropped it countless of times, tried replacing it with a Motorola and a Nokia N92, but it still comes back to me. It even survived a theft last October.

I’m somewhat proud of my old phone. It’s been with me for six years, going on seven. It looks awful now, what with the loss of the keypad (which isn’t really a keypad), the gaping front cover, the missing stylus, the broken battery cover and the peeling paint. Still, it’s long proved its durability and I know I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

I’ve used it to capture pictures of events and concerts (seriously, but I was front row that time so it was easy). I’ve installed third party apps for games and taking videos. I don’t know how many pictures I’ve taken with it, but it has, over the years, been pretty handy even if the quality isn’t that good.

Early today, I couldn’t send out any messages. At first I thought it was a network problem, as my boss was having trouble sending out messages. I didn’t really mind it, but after two hours and I still didn’t have a signal, I wondered if it were a phone problem. My teammates started teasing me, that I should retire my phone and get a new one. I was seriously contemplating on doing just that.

When I got home, I traded phones with my brother just to see if I could pinpoint the problem. His SIM worked fine on my phone, but my SIM didn’t work on his. Ergo, it’s a SIM problem, which makes me really, really sad. I’ve had this particular number for almost as long as I have the phone. I don’t want to throw it out and get a new number.

I’ll be heading to Globe sometime this week just to check if it’s still possible to save my SIM. I hope so. If not, then I just might give in and get a postpaid line. *sigh*