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22 February 2007

A Day In Manila

It's been a while since I've literally been around Manila. Despite the intense heat during that day, it was a delight to revisit what this old city has to offer.

I started out the day having breakfast at Pancake House over at Harbour Square, which has a magnificent view of Manila Bay, The Manila Yacht Club and the stretch of buildings along Roxas Blvd. At this time of day, the coastline is reflected on the bay causing a beautiful mirror image effect.


After breakfast, I headed to my intended destination of business for the day, the Bureau of Immigration. Since the main building has suffered a severe fire a few years back, the Immigration is now split into 3 different buildings. And you have to go back and forth to these buildings while you're there. Even though it was chaotic, being around people of different races and countries makes you realize the true meaning of belonging to a global community.


The goverment facility closed for a lunch break and I went around the to the nearest restaurant to have lunch myself. It was a hot 5 minute walk and I happened to pass by some monuments. One is the Centenario de la Expedicion Maritima Mexico Pilipinas. This is first time in a long time that I've heard the word Expedition not referring to the Ford SUV. This was situated in front of the river leading to Manila Bay. Unfortunately, there was some graffiti in this historic monument.


Finally, I was able to escape the hot sun when I entered Max's Restaurant which is very near the Manila Cathedral within the Intramuros area. I'm not sure, but this may be one of the oldest Max's restaurants in existence. I noticed that there was a lot of memorabilia in terms of photos of how Max's Chicken started out. There were some pictures of the old exterior on the walls close to the ceiling. Interesting to note was a picture of Max's menu from half a century ago. The price of an entire whole friend chicken dinner was only P5.00 which included rolls, butter, corn and asparagus (I think). The menu was predominantly American. Rice then wasn't a standard entry in their menu and various kinds of sandwiches were on the menu instead of the newer and current favorite Filipino entries (kare-kare, sinigang, pancit, kamaron rebusado etc).


During lunch, I got a a text message from a colleague asking me if I could send a picture I took the night before to be used in an entertainment column for Manila Bulletin. Good thing I had my laptop with me and tried to send the file. Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to send it. So I was thinking of submitting it directly to their offices since they're also located within the Intramuros area. However, I had a strict schedule that day which couldn't permit me to add another appointment. And so I decided to look for an internet cafe instead.


The only place I could think of was along Pedro Gil. I took the Luneta scenic route going there and saw some Korean tourists having their picture taken in front of Jose Rizal's statue.


I made a wrong decision in which street to take going to Pedro Gil as I took the jeepney route and passed through Del Pilar street. It was chaotic cause all the jeeps were taking their time seeking passengers. It gave me time to notice the surroundings in the area. What used to be a red light district seemed to be abandoned leaving only the establishments minus the lively nightlife. It was daytime though and so the sidewalks were filled with vendors instead. While waiting for the stoplight to turn green, what suddenly seemed like fog was actually smoke from street food being cooked to the left of me - Barbeque to be exact.


Approaching the Adtriatico area, I saw a huge construction. What used to be the former location of Manila Midtown Hotel is now an expansion phase of the Robinsons Place Mall. I used to frequent the area as I worked several years ago for Samsung whose office was located nearby.


Unfortunately, the internet cafes I saw didn't have any decent parking spaces so this trip to Pedro Gil became more of a tour.


Due to my strict sched, I had to leave the Manila area and head for Quezon City and Cainta to continue my schedule. Spending half of the day in Manila though was still a treat and a change of scenery for me from the busy business districts of Pasig and Makati.


Quoting the Hotdog classic, "Manila.. Manila... I keep coming back to Manila..."

Kung Hei Fat Choi - My Unlucky Day



I was over at Megamall the other day. After looking at some irresistable gadgets, I proceeded to the record bar to buy a CD. On my way back to the other building, I stopped to look what the crowd was watching. It were those long dragons that dance and bite the "ampao" hung from the ceiling of each store which served as goodluck for the year to come. I took a picture of the dragon while it was resting for goodluck.




Well, I didn't realize it until after I got home that I left my credit card in the last store I was in before I went home. It so happens that the cashier who was busy doing the bagger's job, was so preoccupied and forgot to hand me my card. I too was preoccupied looking at other items for sale while in front of the counter and thought I placed my card back in my wallet.




When I got home, I was frantically looking for my card. I knew I hadn't misplaced it and so I traced back when was the last time I saw or used it. And it was in Megamall. I immediately checked the receipt for a phone number but unforunately there wasn't any contact. I then went online and tried to search for Megamall's phone number.. kinda impossible. I then figured that I have to look for the store's phone number and with the help of the ever reliable website ClicktheCity, I found the store's number.




I called them up and told them my name, purchase, time I was there and the description of my credit card. Good thing the cashier surrendered it to their customer service and I was instructed to pick it up along with proper identification.




The sad thing was that I called them up 30 minutes before closing time and there was no way I could make it. So I had to go there the next day to claim it. I figured the only way to make my trip back worthwhile was to buy a bunch of donuts.




I was told that my horoscope says that this year will be a good and lucky year for me. I hope that missing credit card incident would be the last unfortunate incident for the year.

17 February 2007

Top 10 Meals for those on a Budget

I don't really enjoy drinking softdrinks. There just no choice at times. That's why I've started bringing my own supply of bottled mineral water to where ever I go. Since then, I've also been able to cut down meal costs since I don't purchase drinks anymore. With that, I give you my top choices for food on a budget of P55. or less.




1. Wendy's Super Value items - Chili Rice, Side Salad, Hamburger are anywhere from P25 - P29. and delicious. You can buy any two items for less than P55.




2. Yakitori King - 1 piece yakitori on a barbeque stick with lots of rice and pickles on the side in a cool foldable box for P41. Lots of Yakitori sticks to choose from. I learned to love Yakitori during my 2 day stay in a Japan airport.




3. Chowking Chicken Noodles - get the meryenda size bowl for P49. You'll have hot soup, tasty noodles flavored with chicken strips and strips of vegetables.




4. 7-11 Meal #3 - My all time favorite. I buy this when I'm going home and it's late and I haven't eaten dinner yet. Meal #3 is a Jumbo hotdog (your choice of Regular, Spicy, Mexican, Beef or Super Hot) and a drink. I usually get a slurpee. Their Manhattan dressing is excellent for the hotdog. All for only P36.




5. French Baker - (closing time only) 50% on all remaining bread and pastries. If you're lucky, you could get a 2 beef or tuna turnovers for the price of 1, which is around P45. (Insider tip: Many don't know that their drinks are also half-priced. So you can get a Huge Mocha drink for half the price which totals to around P25.)




6. Tokyo Tokyo California Maki - 4 pcs. for P39. It's more of a snack and you won't get full with ordering this but it's a good way to trick your stomach of being full for an hour or two.




7. Komorosoba merienda budget meal - Their only surviving branch is at Megamall. Their katsudon meals are the best. And what's better is that they have a smaller serving size during the afternoon for only P49. Add P10. and get an additional iced tea with that.




8. Gardenia Chocolate Bun - this is handy if you happen to pass by a supermarket. This is a handy piece of food you can eat while driving, commuting or just about anywhere. It looks like a cross between a siopao and hamburger which cholocate filling. It goes for around P12.50. Buy 2 pieces. Also comes in strawberry and ube.




9. McDonalds Coupon Meals - only until March 31, they've given away coupons for discounted meals. Those under P55. are the Burger Mcdo Meal (P29.), spaghetti meal (P39.) and 1 piece chicken without drink (P47.). You can also buy a french fries snack with drink for P29. I wouldn't recommend the spaghetti though. I feel it tastes much inferior to any other spaghetti in the market.




10. Pizza Hut Buy 1 Take 1 slice - my personal favorite food when I'm in a hurry. Two slices for P49. with your choice of Hawaian or Ham & Cheese.

Car Scar - Care Scare

I've been driving since I was 18 years old. During this span, I've pretty much had a very few accidents and been a cautious and careful driver. I guess I could say around 3-5 very minor accidents and most of these accidents were not my fault. Earlier this week though, and for the very first time, I had a parking lot accident where I was at fault. And it was in broad daylight.

I was trying to turn in to a parking slot and miscalculated that I could park in one turn without maneuvering. Unfortunately, I bumped the left car in the rear. When I realized I bumped the car, I was in shock. I immediately put the car in reverse and while pretending that I didn't know what just happened, parked anyway. When I turned off the engine, I looked for any witnesses. I saw a bunch of schoolgirls hanging around Starbucks just across the slot where I parked but didn't seem to notice. I got down from the car and without suspiciously facing the bump, I tried to view it from my rightmost eye view. There was no dent. I only saw a 4 inch red line which obviously came from my car. To make things worse, the car I scratched was white. So it stuck out like a wrong answer marked with a red ballpen in a test paper. I got a white scratch too but didn't mind since I was the one at fault.

I was supposed to photocopy some documents and hang around a bit but because I wanted to move my car away from the parking lot, I was in and out of the mall in less than 5 minutes. When I got back, the car was still there. I immediately left.

I know it was the wrong thing to do. But since it was my first time, I really didn't know what to do. Should I have waited for the owner to arrive ? What if he was going to take a while ? What if he would charge me an arm and a leg for a small paint scratch ? And so I did the only thing I could think of... leave. The owner of the white car, my license plate is.... *C*2** ... you wouldn't think I'd actually leave my license plate here would you ?

And then karma strikes...

A few days ago, I parked in basement parking area of a mall. When I got back, I didn't realize that the guard placed a "No Entry" sign stupidly close to the rear of my car that it was inevitable I would hit it. And I totally didn't notice the sign since it wasn't there when I parked. And so when I backed up, I hit the post from the rear and it left me with a 5 inch dotted yellow line on my bumper. I couldn't argue with the No Entry sign even if I wanted to... it wouldn't talk back.

Ok, I guess I deserved that. Two accidents in a week is a huge deal for me considering my track record. I guess I have to take care more.

08 February 2007

4 Days/3 Night Stay at the Crown Regency Hotel ?

I received an unexpected call this afternoon from a certain Ms. Michelle Chavez that I had been a lucky pick from over 1000 registrants who won a 4 day /3 night hotel accommodations for 4 people (2 adults and 2 children) at the Crown Regency Hotel with my choice of either their Cebu or Davao hotel.

At first I was surprised cause I don't recall joining any contest. When it was explained to me that I was one of 50 lucky draws from over 1,000 registrants during the PALMM expo at the World Trade Center late last year, it kinda made sense. However, I was still skeptical with the whole thing, knowing that it may all be a scam.

Here are some details given to me which makes me skeptical about the prize:
  1. She said there are no obligations, financially that is... However, winners need to watch a 1 1/2 video showcasing the hotel and its amenities, services and highlights.
  2. After saying that the hotel accommodations are free, there is a P3,000. booking fee though which should be placed 1-2 weeks before using the prize.
  3. Claiming of the prize is anywhere between 6-8pm at Room 1902 Centerpoint Bldg. I checked the hotel's official website, and this is not their Manila address.
  4. When I asked for the hotel's website from the person I was speaking with, she told me that she can't divulge any info about it and just told me to search for it on the net.
  5. I searched for her name "Michelle Chavez" on the net and it's a generic name, also a name of an actress.

Because of my skeptisim, I've asked my friendly friend Aileen to accompany me to the presentation. As much as it's an exciting prize to actually win, I'm still not 100% convinced it's totally legit. I really do hope it's legit.

______________________
Update:

Just got back from picking up the prize. And my suspicions were correct. Upon entering the building lobby, I immediately looked at the tenant directory and Room 1902 was unlisted. Strange. I then asked front desk what company occupies Room 1902. The guard said "Crown Regency". So at least I knew I was going to the right room.

Upon entering 1902, Aileen & I immediately saw what seems to be a conference and showcase area. While we were asked to be seated, our couch was directly across a cabinet of what looked like beauty products. The first thing that came into my mind was MLM (Multi Level Marketing). I've been through the experience of avoiding this years ago and here I am, a victim of a somewhat similar experience.

After filling out a form with some personal information extracted from me, we were accompanied to a small cubicle which resembled a videoke room. This was where we were to watch a 1 1/2 hour video. Fortunately, they only let us watch around 15 minutes worth of it. It seems that we may have not passed as being credible clients to what they were offering.

And so here it is... they were offering club membership to access their chain of hotels. The prize I got was actually not totally free. If I were to use it, I had to pay the 1st day (worth P5,000). and the next 2 days would be free. For someone who hasn't been travelling out of the metropolis nor the country for that matter, this has no appeal to me whatsoever.

And so I was finally given my prize check of the hotel accommodations but I will only be able to brag about it by showing the certificate to others but will never get to use it especially that it isn't transferable.




07 February 2007

Back to Backlog - Random Thoughts

Ok... here I am again not being able to post lately due to a ton of stuff I need to do... So I'll just post some random thoughts here for now.


1. Don't place your laptop on the floor at night and wake up in the middle of the night walking around in the dark. There is a possibility that you'll step on it.


2. One night when I got home, I saw a huge lizard playing inside my favorite drinking glass. Even though how many times I've sterilized it, I opted to retire the glass cause I can't stand using it and thinking of that lizard inside while I'm drinking. Blechhh!!!


3. If you happen to find a PLDT phone card on top of a PLDT phone booth, chances are it's because it has no more credits. (Ok, I had to try it out, it was just there and I was down to my last P2.00).


4. When you use a pay phone and can successfully dial but the other party can't hear you and you dial again, they'll think it's a prank call. It's frustrating cause it's a legitimate call but since the other person doesn't hear anything, you've already agitated and angered them even before you get to speak with them.


5. I have two cousins who are sisters and currently confined in the same hospital at neighboring rooms (just across each other). My tita (their mom) has to go back and forth both rooms. Why can't the hospital just place them together in one room ? They do have the same sickness, and their mom is getting tired switching from one room to the other. Is it cause the hospital gets to bill them double ?


6. Even though the last time I've been hospitalized was around 17 years ago when I had dengue, all the memories come back instantly, when you visit someone in the same condition you were at that time. And for one who has a low tolerance for pain, I can't stand seeing the needles stuck in ones body.


7. I think I made a personal record of calling 20 people I don't know on the phone in just 5 minutes. Okey it's was cause I was inquiring for a certain product that no store had.


8. I miss leisure surfing on the web. Right now, the sites I visit are either websites I need to visit in order to maintain my website and a few friends' blogs. I miss checking out the latest items up for bid on ebay.ph, the latest tech news on cnn.com, and the latest software on download.com


9. I am slowly becoming a hot tea addict. I just bought a pack of orange tea and red tea even though I haven't finished my jasmine tea box yet. I want to try them all.


10. I have tried to concentrate on working on my laptop in a bench with a couple right beside me smooching it away. It is very distracting. And I refuse to move elsewhere cause I was there first. I wish I had a webcam with me then and would broadcast them live on the net while I work.

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