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27 February 2019

Our Most Unique Vacation Ever (Day 1)

We usually plan for vacation, listing down things to do, places to visit and people to see.  But this particular vacation was really for us to relax.  It's not like it's our first time to visit the Philippines so minimal research and planning was required.  So our plan was basically to visit family and friends, spend a few days out of town, and taste the foods we absolutely missed.

We thought of trying to combine all into one plan. So we decided on spending a few days in Tagaytay, south of Manila with our relatives and join us in eating popular Pinoy dishes.  And so my dad, mother-in-law and cousin joined us in a weekend leisure drive to the chilly city.

Our first stop in Tagaytay was Gerry's Grill.  We wanted to order everything in the menu.  Good thing there's six of us so we could easily order different platters of food and taste a little bit of everything, a combination of seafood and grilled meat.  Too bad we didn't have our checklist of Pinoy foods to eat.  That would've made ordering easier.

Gerry's Grill had a breathtaking view of Taal Lake.  A break from hot weather (and some traffic since it was a weekend) was also very welcome.
This is my idea of relaxing.
Gerry's Grill view while you eat

While we were there though, there was a rescue team nearby.  We found out that someone had gone over the steep cliff and has been down there for hours.  There were about 15 men pulling a rope little by little in efforts to rescue the victim.

My dad, being the curious one, tried to come closer to the scene to find out what's going on.  I escorted my dad back to the parking lot as we were on to our next stop.  Little did I know that I would have a close encounter with these rescue people again in a few days (check my succeeding blog posts to find out how.)

We finally got to our destination: Casa Maria Y Martha.  It's one of the lesser known bed and breakfast accommodations in Tagaytay City, but surprisingly at the heart of many landmarks including Our Lady of Lourdes Church and Ayala Malls Serin which are both conveniently located across the street.  Casa Maria Y Martha, recommended to us by a family friend, was a homey place.  Past reception, the ground floor looked more like a living room than a hotel lobby, which is a good thing.  This also led to their dining area which had a serene view of the lake.
the Taal lake view from Casa Maria Y Martha

We had a few hours to relax before attending mass just across the street.  Since we attended sunset mass, you could feel the weather starting to feel chilly.  It was nice to attend mass in a non-airconditioned church and yet feel as if it was.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church
After mass, we just crossed the street to the mall where our family friends Tita Rose and Tito Henry joined us for dinner.  It wasn't your typical Pinoy food but still, we enjoyed the pasta and pizza from Carlos Pizza which I learned has been in Tagaytay for over a decade.  How I didn't know about this is beyond me but I'm glad I did get to try their Italian cuisine. I highly recommend it.
dinner with family and family friends.  Fruitcake not in the pic yet.

We brought a special treat too for everyone.  Aileen made a special fruitcake and it traveled more than 2,000 kilometers to it's destination, in all our stomachs in the form of dessert.  Tito Henry is a chef and Aileen was so happy that he approved immediately after taking his first bite.  Thanks to his sweet tooth and our special surprise, it made all the effort to prepare and bring this fruitcake to them worth it.

Around this time, the mountain weather was very apparent and also signalling us to head back to our hotel and call it a day.  Good food, quality time with family and a blessed day was a perfect way to end our official first day on vacation.

Next up. Day 2 and how I planned what to do for the day in less than 10 minutes.

31 January 2019

The Hard Way To Avoid Spoiler Alerts

The WWE Royal Rumble is one of my most favorite wrestling pay per views that I love watching every year.  Since it's usually shown on a Sunday night in the U.S., that translates to a Monday morning in my timezone.  Since the show is live during my worktime, I'll have to watch it when I get home which would most likely be a solid 8 hours after it's ended.

I do try my best to avoid any spoilers so I can watch the show with the suspense of not knowing what's gonna happen.  Social media though makes it extremely difficult with all the live tweets, fan discussion, viewer reactions, memes and news updates readily available online.

I had to avoid looking at my phone, which had trending topics automatically loaded on my landing page.  I had to disable automatic notifications in case it pops up on my screen.  I had to lessen reading my friends' social media feeds in case they were sharing anything about the event.  All this led me to staying offline as much as possible. 

In case you don't know what my job is, I manage social media.  So much for staying offline.  So my best effort was whenever I hinted a page would show results, updates or any news about the Royal Rumble, I would cover the screen with my hand or cover part of my eyes, similar to the technique I use when watching horror movie.   I kinda survived the day.

I finally got home.  I didn't mention it during dinner in case my family would accidentally talk about it much more tell me who won.   I took the risk of not saying I would watch that night so it wouldn't be a dinner topic.

Dinner was over and I was ready to watch.

I found out that the show is 5 hours long. 

I don't have 5 hours to spare! So I settled for watching an hour and a half of it and decided to watch the rest the next day.

The next day was more challenging as there's even more content online: more tweets, more video clips, more screenshots, more and more of everything.  The trend hasn't died down yet. Even the website with the on demand video already posted the results.

I just had to be very careful avoiding any news possible.  Because of this, I had to sacrifice my usual engagements with my online communities, a couple of wrestling fan friends and just treated it as if it never happened.

I survived the day again and finally got home and was ready to watch. 

I turned on the TV, loaded the on-demand video sit back and relaxed.


Looks like I relaxed too much.

I woke up with the main match already halfway through and not following the action from the start led me to confusion on what happened, why did it happen, who was on while I was asleep and how much did I miss!

I eventually had to restart the video but lost precious watching time, especially since it' been over 48 hours since it aired. 

I did get to finish it but my sleepiness got the better of me.

All this because I wanted to watch it without finding out any spoilers.

So what did I do the next day?  I just read a summary of the show online.

What do I plan to do for the next live event?  If I could take the day off and watch, I would. 
But more realistically, I'll probably go through this entire experience again.

How do you manage spoilers?

15 January 2019

Tugtog Tuesdays

I've been dabbling on the piano from time to time trying to play some songs that catch my interest.  I was originally hoping to play and record one every Tuesday, but that was too ambitious.
I did post a couple on a Tuesday which I dubbed as "Tugtog Tuesdays" (play Tuesdays).

I kinda miss arranging songs the way I used to when I was doing this for a living as a musical arranger.  I'll give it a try this year and see if I could compose again.  And I just realized that I still have some compositions that I never published online.

Meanwhile, here's a playlist of what I've posted in the past.
In case it won't play, click here to watch my playlist on YouTube.
Hope you enjoy!

14 January 2019

Being a Local Guide

One of my most memorable experiences was being recognized as a Local Guides contributor by Google.   Because of this, I was given the opportunity to meet 149 other active contributors from different countries and be invited to the Google Local Guides Summit in San Francisco in 2017.  I gained friends from all around the world while helping people be better informed.
I was able to contribute reviews of locations, map some out and share photos with the public.  My photos reached the 10 million views mark.   

I wasn't able to contribute as much in 2018 but I was still surprised to be a top Local Guide in my community.   This 2019, I hope to add more contributions and live up to the title of being a Local Guide.  

13 January 2019

Returning to Tech and Digital for 2019

It's been more than a year since I last shared anything on my personal blog.  My laptop severely slowing down and degrading in performance was one of the main reasons why I stopped blogging among other things.  My digital tracks kinda came to a complete stop and I was mainly using my phone for everything.  Creating content on mobile is convenient and I have done a lot relying on apps but there are just some things that are faster done on a laptop.

And so I'm back in 2019 with a new laptop thanks to Aileen for giving this to me as her Christmas gift.  Because of this, I feel inspired to create new content in all forms, blogs, photos, music, videos and give new life to my social media using all the techniques I know using new tools.

Since I'm using tech and digital as my theme for 2019, I am also interested to revisit one of the fundamental skills I learned in college: programming.   I may be out of date but it's never too late to learn a new language.  So we'll see where that goes.

I do have a lot of ideas I hope I get to implement and execute this year.  It's also time to create or invent something new.  The last time I conceptualized something big was when I created a music website and that lasted for 13 years.  I don't have any concrete idea yet, but it will either be on automation, artificial intelligence or robotics.   Bold predictions.  I'll be happy to achieve at least one of those.

So this is the start of a new year and what better way to kickstart 2019 than to blog and share my goals with you.

Happy 2019!

PS:  In case you're interested, my new laptop is an ASUS Vivobook S14.  I'm very happy with the size and speed.

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