March 29, 2009

Kome Join the Karnival

Attention chocolate lovers! The world famous Krispy Kreme just got better. Come drop by any Krispy Kreme branch and enjoy a chocolate karnival!

A Chocolate Karnival welcomed Bloggers, Media and other guests during the launch of these delectable treats last March 28, 2009 at Bonifacio High Street. Dubbbed as "The Greatest Chocolate Show on Earth" a parade of clowns, magicians and circus games were enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Highlighting the event was watching the Krispy Kreme donuts go through the conveyor belt to get their chocolate bath!

Just the smell of these donuts made me feel like my hips were getting bigger hehe!!!
But it definitely was a must-try!

I personally enjoyed the donut better the next day (I got to take home a box with a dozen donuts for playing the games!) coz when it's too hot, it literally melts in your hand, mouth and everywhere else!!! I could barely hold it because it was getting smushed.

With ten chocolicious varieties, there's definitely going to be a sweet treat for the choco addict in you.

Visit to glaze your friends and yourselves and get
a free taste of this delectable treat!
Thanks to Iris for the photos! to continue reading...

March 27, 2009

Purse Tag

And so begins my first attempt at blog tags...hehe. I only recently discovered the whole concept of tagging in Facebook, but I never really saw much of it in blogs. Then again, I seldom randomly blog hop...anyways, I got this tag from Jen and so I can sense a new addiction beginning. However, I don't think purse tag would be appropriate for me...I think bag tag is more like it!!!

Here's why:'s no purse!!! I got this Esprit tote bag during my last trip to Baguio. Yup, it was a treasure found in the ukay ukay. It was actually one of six bags I bought in that trip. If I'm not mistaken, it was originally quoted at Php 150.00 but I was able to haggle it down to Php 90.00.

It has a pretty pink and blue flower print in canvass, and the top part, the aqua strip, is like a water-proof fabric. Don't really know what it's called though :-) Anyway, the nice thing about this bag is the the way the strap was designed. It has a metal claspy thing that attaches to metal rings. If you notice, there are two sets of rings that it can attach to. This makes the bag adjustable in size. If I unfold the flap, the bag goes up an extra 2 to 3 inches. Cool right? An added bonus to this bag is that it is reversible. It's perfect for the beach because it resists water. I like using it too when it's rainy.

The day Jen tagged me, I decided to use this bag becuase it matched my dress SO PERFECTLY.

I particularly like big bags because I carry a lot of things all the time. In fact, my friends tease me that I need a maleta or suitcase when I go anywhere. Often their right. If I was tagged a day before being done so, the bag i had was twice the size of this!

Why do I need a big bag? Here's why:

I stuff it to death!!!

I've ruined a lot of bags doing just this, which is why I make it a point to find affordable bags. Can you imagine spending a lot of money for a bag that just gets broken?!? Plus I often get sawa with my bags after a while so I like buying lots of different cheap bags rather than just one investment bag.

Here's a rundown of what was in my bag:
1. My laptop. I almost never go anywhere without it!!! More so when I have to go to class.
2. A scarf that I got in my last trip to Bangkok (the blue one that everything is on top on).
3. My car papers. The small black pouch beside my laptop. I had to pick them up from insurance on the way to work.
4. My wallet.
5. Test papers that I have to grade.
6. My faculty ID
7. My Nokia 6500c.
8. My SEW760i phone.
9. My camera in the Gola case I bought super cheap in the World Trade Bazaar last Christmas.
10. My "dump"pouch (the transparent one). It has all my accessories for the laptop: charger, pointer, VGA connector, USB's, ipod cord and ballpens. Plus little sheets of paper from class.
11. My kikay kit (the brown pouch). It was one of my favorite Christmas gifts last year, from my co-teacher in preschool. It's got all my essentials...and more hahaha.
12. A DVD of Don Juan De Marco. We had film showing in class :-)
13. My ipod.
14. An almost empty pack of Giggles wipes.
15. Some tissue inside my yellow tissue case.
16. My inhaler. Especially useful this past three weeks given how my asthma is acting up.
17. A small bottle of alcohol.
18. Bench Bratz Kiwi Alcogel.
19. Off spritz.
20. My Denman hairbrush.
21. A small fan.
22. My house keys.
23. My car keys, the one with a Disneyland keychain. Yup, Andrea tunay kong pangalan.
24. Coins that were scattered at the bottom of my bag

That's about it. Apparently it was a good thing I was tagged on a day when I had a "smaller"bag wahahahaha!!!

Now what?!? I am tagging Ryan, Jen, Trina, Summer, and Janine.

Here are the rules:

1. Post a picture of whatever bag you are carrying as of late. No, you can't go into your closet and pull out your favorite purse! We want to know what you carried today or the last time you left the house.
2. List how much it cost. And this is not to judge. This is for entertainment purposes only. So spill it. And if there is a story to go along with how you obtained it, we'd love to hear it.
3. Tag some chicks. And link back to this post so people know why the heck you're showing everyone your bag. to continue reading...

March 26, 2009

I Hear Ya', La Sallians!

As an undergraduate lecturer, I always strive to encourage my students to go beyond the four walls of the classroom and to think outside the box. This week, I was blown away by how far my students have gone.

Let me backtrack to a few weeks ago. You see, I attended the launch of The Rock Ed Original Project in partnership with Havaianas, where I found out about their contest for a grant for a youth oriented project. At first, I thought the event that I had attended was just a simple product launch, perhaps for a new line of flip flops or what not. However, as I went through the press kit and tried to get into what they meant with their "Original" campaign, I realized it was not just another way to get the public to buy flip flops, but there was something much more!

The whole idea for the grant project is quite interesting. To be honest, I started thinking myself what I would like to do, especially in light of research findings about mental health and the Filipino youth (Yes...I do get involved in research...I just don't like it!!!). If I were to propose a project myself, it would most likely have something to do with computer literacy, internet access, and the youth. Anyway, getting back on track, the launch happened to coincide with the class modules on Service Commitment and Leadership.

With those in my mind, I got the idea to require my students to identify an advocacy they would like to push for and to design a campaign for their message.

This week was presentation week. I was simply amazed! So much so that at the end of the class sessions, I flashed the project site, I encouraged my students to pursue their advocacy's and to not just make it a class exercise, but to use it and go beyond my classroom.

I hope to see one of my students end up as the grant winner...this would be a true testament to learning outside the classroom!!!

Whether or not they win (or submit for that matter) I have to say being in my classes this week made me once again proud of my chosen profession. to continue reading...

March 25, 2009

Summer Tripping.

There is no doubt summer has arrived...the heat, humidity and the sticky breeze we feel everyday is but a reminder that it's time to go out of town. As I said in my last post, I was lucky enough to go on a little weekend, but there's a whole summer still ahead!

This got me to thinking: putting financial considerations aside, where would I go for the summer? Lately Sago of has been sharing news about Sagada, and while this is an exciting and truly cool (pun intended) place to go for the summer, it wouldn't make my list. However, as I browsed his playground, I got to thinking...I should go to somewhere I've never been yet. If you had asked me to name 3 places I would like to go for summer before blog hopping, I would have answered Bora, Laiya and Baguio in a heartbeat. Why? Not only are these gorgeous and wonderful places to go, but because they are familiar already. With that, I'm sure I will have a good time.

However, inspired by Sago's adventures, I decided that for my next Project 3 things, I will list 3 places in the Philippines I'd like to go to but have not been yet.

1. Caramoan. My cousin has been telling me about the nice developments in the island, particularly Gota Beach, which, if I'm not mistaken, is where Survivor! France was taped. Because she is affiliated with CWC, she keeps pushing me to go visit them and take a trip to both CWC and Gota. Hmmm...very nice!!! I'd love to try that spelunking thing that my friend was talking about too.

2. El Nido. Pristine beaches, gorgeous sunsets, need I say more?!? Oh, and the fact that this was featured in an episode in the Amazing Race doesn't hurt either.

3. Cebu. Though I have family who own property in Cebu, I've never been. Well, at least not as an a little child perhaps, so I guess that doesn't count. After all, I don't remember anything about the place. I choose Cebu as the third spot in my list because not only does it have the beach requirement for me (hehe!) but there are a lot of other places to see and things to do in the city. Plus of course really good food!!!

If you could go anywhere this Summer, without worrying about the money needed for it, where would you go and why!?! to continue reading...

Summer Weekend Getaway!

Whether or not it is summertime, a beach getaway is always a welcome reprieve from the daily hustle and bustle of city life. This weekend, I was blessed to have such a reprieve.

My family and I spent the weekend at a family friends house in Caylabne Bay Beach Resort. It's a perfect place for a family weekend because it's got almost anything you would want...a beach, swimming pools, play areas...I've been there so many times in the past already but it is always nice to be there again, although I have to admit, this weekend posed some minor disappointments, which, to be fair, was not really the resorts fault.

First, we did not know that there was a company outing being held in Caylabne. Of course I can't complain about that, because that is indeed one of the features of the resort. I figured if I was with the company, I would be very happy about the chosen venue. However as a private citizen attempting to enjoy a vacation, it was a slight setback.

As I said, for a company outing, Caylabne would definitely be a good place to choose. Not only is there the beach for games and activities, there are also two swimming pools that can be utilized. I even remember in a previous trip there was an obstacle course set up for another company activity.

The second disappointment for me over the weekend was the fact that the sea was infested with jellyfish!!! Again, no fault to the resort I suppose. I guess it's because it's summertime and most beaches are filled with these sea creatures. I have to laud the resorts efforts to keep the jellyfish at bay, however. I saw their employees work tirelessly at plucking them out and disposing of them in big tubs or burying them in the sand so people could at least play in the water. In all fairness, the jellyfishes around were not like those in TV that sting you and are quite painful. In fact, while my mom and I went clamming (I'll get to that a little later!) we'd occasionally pick them up and throw them to shore. Nope, no stinging or itching at all!

The third downside to this latest trip is the one thing that can be attributed to the company, I guess. It was sad to see that the resort was not as well maintained as it used to be. In fact, they even do not have the lounge chairs in the beach front anymore. Also, the garbage bins that used to be all around and easily accessible to the guests were gone too. This is quite sad, especially since the resort actually charges very much for an overnight stay in their hotel.

In any case, despite these disappointments, I still enjoyed my Caylabne Bay weekend. It is still nice to see a sanctuary for flora and fauna alike. The chirping birds can definitiely still be heard throughout the resort. We even saw monkeys loitering around, like we used to several years back when we first came over. With regards to the beach, what I like best about this particular beach is that there are a lot of clams near the shoreline. My mom and I always enjoy searching for these clams and picking them then later on having them for dinner. This weekend, the clams were plentiful!

The best part about going on a weekend retreat is coming home with that to-die-for tan!!! Yipee...I have tan lines again!!! to continue reading...

March 24, 2009

Positive Inspiration.

The past few days have been a bit rough on me, what with things not going the way I planned, being sick, finding my car damaged and work piling up. Plus having the birthday blues creep in and bite me in the ass has definitely not been any fun at all. But then as I blog hopped yesterday, I came across an old post by A Filipino Mom Blogger and was once again reminded that while we cannot control what happens to us, good or bad, one thing that's truly ours is the way we respond to it.

It reminded me of lessons I learned in my Dark Night of the Soul, a metaphor coined by Thomas Moore in the book of the same title about periods of difficulty, sadness and depressions that come into our lives. In it he spoke of how these dark nights should not be feared or shunned, but welcomed and allowed in to our existence as it makes us better individuals. Just like wines and alcohols that need to be fermented in dark cellars, our souls need that darkening too.

Of course dark nights are not easy to welcome. They are frightening, painful and truly difficult. However, as I learned in my own dark night, we need to be still and at peace with it so we can receive the gifts the darkness brings.

With that said, I resolved to affirm the good that I have right now, with no intention to disregard the bad, but to highlight that despite and in spite of everything, I am okay.

For today I am grateful for my dog, Bubba, who has made living with dark nights so much more bearable and easy, especially since I know he loves me unconditionally. In my last post I did talk about how sometimes the loneliness of being single creeps in every now and then. I honor that loneliness as a valid and essential part to making me who I am, but it will not define me. I am loved, even if sometimes it is hard to see it.

I am grateful for my blossoming social life, thanks to the blogging community where I have found so many new friends and acquaintances. I have also been able to realize many of my dreams through it, in whatever simple way, shape or form.

Lastly I am grateful for my many life's it nice gadgets, the internet, my own car, and not having to pay my own rent. I have it a lot easier than many others, that's for sure. And I have to admit, I often take it for granted and complain about what could be better instead

Like I said, today I honor these things that I am grateful for, and also acknowledge that while there still are dark nights that take away all that's bright and shiny, I am not less for it. In fact, having that (as Meredith Grey would put it) dark and twisty part of me, makes me only better as I learn to merge both the yin and the yang of my soul. to continue reading...

March 21, 2009

Down the Beaten Path.

Looking ahead I can't help but feel like I've wasted so much...time, effort, money...myself. Every year, just about this time, I get an overwhelming feeling of being stifled and stuck, no matter how good things are. Must be the birthday blues. This year, however, it seems it's coming earlier than usual. Perhaps it's especially pronounced now because I'm turning 30 and as I take stock of my life, part of me has to admit I'm not happy with many me the choices I've made. It's not really that I regret them, but to some extent, I can't help but wonder what if I did things differently. For example, much as I love my jobs and what I do, I can't really say I've built a good financial future from it. It makes me think whether or not I should consider my options, such as teaching in the US. Perhaps heightening the feeling of being stuck and all is the constant reminder, especially now that my friends are getting married and having kids left and right, of my lack of a love life, plus of course the sound of my biological clock ticking. To be fair, I love how my social life is going now, but it still gets lonely at times without a love to call my own. Like I said, I'm generally happy with my life, but whenever the clock winds down to my birthday, it's like the curtain draws to a close. As sure as there's a next act to follow, I am stuck between looking forward and looking back. to continue reading...

March 18, 2009

Lost Causes: What Nicole and Rhianna's Stories Tell Us.

In the television series The Practice defense attorney Eugine Young harshly cross-examined a rape victim during a trial with the words that go something to this effect: accusing someone of rape is a horrible thing...not only does it hurt the accused, but it does a world of disservice to future rape victims.

Now I do see how true this statement is.

In the past two days, news that reported (I no longer feel confident in not including identifying her as a victim, given everything that's happened) rape victim Nicole has migrated to the US spread like wildfire both in traditional media as well as in the blogosphere. I first heard about the situation from a plurk thread. Initially I sat back quietly and read the response of other plurkers until finally I figured out what to say: that's so sad.

At that point that's all I could think of. However, as the news continues to grow and details continue to emerge, I am caught in an onslaught of emotions ranging from curiousity, disgust, understanding, and dismay. True, I am not Nicole and I cannot begin to explain why she did such a thing, but for me, I am truly, truly saddened and disappointed by the news. I am not here to judge her as a person, but I feel that because of this, rape victims' cries have been silenced once again. It's not just her change of story that troubles me, really, but the fact that because of this, pursuing rape cases will now be even harder than it was in the beginning. I was a staunch defender of the principle of not blaming the vicitm for being raped, especially in response to the many criticisms about Nicole's behavior (i.e. drinking, "dirty dancing" with the men, wearing skin-tight jeans, etc.). However, with her recanting her story, it boils down now to the idea that it was her fault she got in such a precarious situation. Now, how can lawyers and women's groups fight and say that what we wear does not give men license to rape us? How when our own says perhaps it was indeed my fault?

Looking at Nicole's story from a wider lens, I feel the situation has caused the cause of Women Empowerment more than two steps back. After the hard battles to make just a little progress, it takes this one story to derail it from gaining ground. In many ways, this really gives the saying "a lost cause" meaning. It is not only Nicole's story that saddens me. I'm sure many are also aware of the Chris Brown-Rhianna incident. The breaking news of Rhianna's alleged beating at the hands of her lover caught the youth's attention and it was a great way to inform people about the dangers of domestic violence. But now that she takes him back, it seems to give the message that what happened is okay.

These two women tell the same story: that women are weak and can be "bought" and swayed. In Nicole's case, it was entry to the land of Milk and Honey. In Rhianna's, it was promises of love in the arms of her batterer. What's even worse, they give abuse victims a bad name.

I know this blog post is coming out as rhetorical and perhaps many would feel it is pointless. However, being a blogger, I decided to use my platform as a venue not just to share personal experiences, talk about new and upcoming events, but to also further causes and advocacies I beleive in, so I start with this one.

I am a woman. I am proud to be one and I will fight to defend the rights of women, in my own little way. With that said, I, along with all the other women in my country declare NO TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN in whatever shape, way, or form.

To all the Rhianna's and Nicole's out there: I will not claim to know how you feel. I will not even say I understand what you are going through. I do say, however, you are worth more than you think you are and NO ONE has the right to lay their hands on you.

Nicole and Rhianna's stories' tell us that fighting for our rights and really standing up for ourselves (or having "paninindigan"for that matter) is a lost cause. Let's change that story and say, no, it is not a lost cause. to continue reading...

March 14, 2009

Triple Treat on the Thriteenth.

While the date traditionally has it's share of jinxed news and the like, I have to admit that this Friday the 13th has offered by far one of the best treats I've had in a long time. Perhaps make that three :-) Hence, this blog post will be a three-part feature.

Part 1: Regine Velasquez goes Low Key
To start it off the triple treat, there was the Regine Velasquez show at the Eastwood Mall Open Park. Being a big fan, I knew I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to see her perform live again, despite my admittedly waning admiration of her.

However, after watching her tonight, I am a fan again!

I got her new album Low Key a few weeks ago and after playing it about five times in my car's cd player, I was undecided about whether or not I liked it. What I enjoyed was the playlist, as it featured many of my old favorites, such as Of All the Things, She's Always a Woman, How Can I Tell You and Longer. What I disliked, on the other hand, was the absence of her signature tagalog songs, especially thosed penned by her "good friend" (weee) Ogie Alcasid. I also felt a little disappointed at first because her renditions did not seem as effortless as she usually seems. It seemed to me initially that as she strived to keep a low key, it felt strained and over controlled to me. But then again, I'm no music expert! To be fair, I did love the fact that she lessened her "birits" because at one point, it really was too much!!! Nonetheless as I watched her, I was captivated once again. It made me remember why I enjoyed her as an artist to begin with.

Part 2: Eastwood City Mall .
Of all the malls in Metro Manila, I think this is the only one left I have not explored. While tonight did not give me the opportunity to go through the entire mall, I was really glad to finally see Eastwood City. It's not just a mall apparently! I am amazed at how big and spacious it is. It literally is a whole city on its own! As a noob, I mistakenly tried to park in the first parking area I saw...which apparently was CitiBank. Duh! Hehe. Before going off to see the show, I browsed their website,, and was impressed at the concept of the mall. Can't wait to check it out further next time! The host of the show this evening mentioned something about Eastwood Mall being the only one to have a Concierge service that included Butlers that you could get to carry your purchases as you shopped. Hmmmm....I wonder.....

Part 3: Truly Indulgent Chocolate Cakes from Indulgence Deli Cafe

A friend of mine told me about the yummy food served in Indulgence Deli Cafe located at Perea St. , Makati. As usual, the directionally-challenged me has not yet mustered up enough courage to brave the one-way-infested streets of Makati so I haven't really tried it yet. However, Leirs, the cafe manager and a friend of mine, surprised me with not one but two slices of cake when I saw her today. HEAVENLY INDULGENCE!!! In the picture is the Amaretto cake. I liked it, but it had to much of a strong after taste for my liking. Delicious nonetheless. But the other one... Oh my gosh....It was like a mesh of chocolate mouse, pure chocolate, and soft moist can you go wrong?!?

See, Friday the 13th isn't always so bad, right?!? Hope yours went pretty well too!!!

Heartfelt thanks go out to AZ of Azrael's Merryland for organizing the Online Bloggers for the show (as well as the one of The Dawn, whcih I opted to skip...hinika ako sa tuwa kay Regine e!) and to Ms. TinayMagtira, marketing officer of Eastwood Mall for the VIP seats.

Deep gratitude and appreciation also goes out to Iris Acosta for the photographs...what would my blogpost be without it!!!

And of course, Leirs, my hips thank you too. to continue reading...

March 13, 2009

Summer Serenade at the Eastwood Mall.

Being a big Regine Velasquez fan, I am so looking forward to her performance tonight at the Eastwood Mall Open Park. I already have a copy of her Low Key album and seeing it on stage tonight is surely going to be an exciting evening for me. Show starts at 7pm. I think you can get VIP seats if you purchase a copy of her album from the Concierge.

Add to the fun of the evening is another concert that will be held in Eastwood as well. The Dawn launches their latest album at the Eastwood City Walk Central Plaza at 8 pm.

Both concerts offer free admission. If you're not doing anything tonight, come by and enjoy a night of music and more at the Eastwood City! to continue reading...

March 11, 2009

No More Tan Lines.

A few days ago I was browsing through some of my old photos and realized: I have no more tan lines. Let me backtrack a bit and explain that statement: I am a certified beach bum. Whenever there is a long weekend, or if I need some "me" time, I will definitely find my way where ever there is sand, sea and surf. Just take a look at my blog header and you'll see how much of a sun lover I am. In fact, I used to be in the beach so often that one day, one of my teachers in graduate school commented that she had forgotten what my true skin color was. Yes, maputi talaga ako. But beacuse I'm such a beach-a-holic, I have a perpetual tan that often fools people into thinking I'm darker than I really am. Just take a look at the photo: see how different my real color is!?! However, as I penny-pinch and tighten the proverbial belt due to economic demands, I have not had the pleasure of lounging in the sun for quite some time.

Given that realization (the faded tan lines, that is), I decided to do some virtual beaching...sad to say, I can't afford to go to the beach now, so I'll have to satisfy myself with cyberbeaching.

So off I went googling and blog searching about nice places to go, when I came across Sago's post on Malapascua, Cebu's very own Boracay...the pictures alone blew me away. Reading the article made me want to go see this beautiful place for myself even more...despite knowing now that the island does not really have standing electricity in it! The whole article was not just a narrative of the authors experience of the resort stayed in, or the island itself, but like those articles in travel books and the like, he even included some trivia about the island and other activities one could try out when in Malapascua.

As summer kicks off, I have to say thanks to Sago for this article...Malapasua Island in Cebu is definitely now on my places to go list! to continue reading...

My Take on the Movie TAKEN.

Imagine having a dad who's a cross between Jack Bauer, McGyver and a Superhero. That's how I would describe Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson). As an ex-operative for the government, he truly had "a unique set of skills that make [him] a nightmare for [kidnappers]".

As an expert in the field, Mills knew exactly how to untangle the twisted web woven by a deeply-rooted human trafficking ring that snatched up his 18-year old daughter Kim upon her arrival with a friend in Paris.

From the simple dreams of young teenage girls off to see the world on their own, a frightening modus operandi involving not just Albanian crooks, but even the French police and airport security was uncovered as Mills fought to beat the 96-hour window that would spell the difference between his daughter's safety and never seeing her again.

The film takes the viewer to the dangerous underworld of such a syndicate and gives one a glimpse into the harsh realities of human trafficking.

If you're looking for a good way to escape the summer heat, head off to a cinema near you and get enthralled by this enxciting, nerve-racking, "at-the-edge-of-your-seat-holding-yor-breath" flick!. The only downside to the film, however, is that there were no captions for the dialogue in French...which left me kinda guessing what they were trying to say. Nonetheless, I would give this movie a grade of 3.75 (5 being the highest).

Released by Viva International Pictures, TAKEN opens in cinemas today, March 11, 2009.

Props to AZ for scoring us invites to the movie, and THANKS to VIVA INTERNATIONAL PICTURES for welcoming us to the premiere :-) to continue reading...

March 6, 2009

A Taste of Provence at Café Provençal

This summer, you don't need an airplane ticket and a passport to the south of France to celebrate Summer in Provence...Café Provençal can take you there...and it's just an MRT ride away. Located at the 2nd Floor of the Shangri-La Mall, Café Provençal is a quaint little corner for you to enjoy fantastic pizzas, an assortment of wines, and delicious food.

In celebration of summer, the cafe offers four variants of Napoletana Pizzas, a perfect pairing to a chilled glass of wine. With only the freshest ingredients topping a crisp, freshly-baked crust, these pizzas are excellent any time of day. My personal favorite was the Asparagus Pizza. Yup, asparagus. I never imagined having this particular vegetable on a pizza, but as Chef and General Manager Jacq Tan explained, the asparagus gives a unique nutty taste to their pizzas. With sundried tomatoes and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, this pizza was quite satisfying, and yet quite light. For those who want a pizza that packs a meatier punch, the Tarragon Chicken is a great choice. If you're looking for some heat, try the Spicy Chorizo pizza, or if you're the vegan type, the Roasted Garlic (with fresh basil and chili flakes, yum!) one. We were served chilled Rosette Wine with our pizzas. Despite not being much of a wine afficionado, I have to admit the two together was simply superb.

top half: Roasted Garlic bottom half: Asparagus

We bloggers were not only treated to a taste of Café Provençal's wine and pizza. We even got a taste of their take on putanesca as well as their special Beef Burgandy. The beef was beyond delicious!!! Soft, tasty, indulgent, perfect with mashed potatoes, rice or even pasta noodles.

Beef Burgandy served with Mashed Potatoes

No meal would be complete without dessert...and of course, we were not left in the lurch! We sampled their beignet with chocolate sauce and strawberry cheescake. I loved them both of course!

Overall, I would give Café Provençal a big, loud burp (perhaps more than just one!) of approval! to continue reading...

March 3, 2009

They've Literally Got it All For You.

When SM Malls say "we've got it all for you" they really mean it. Not only do they have shoes and bags, restos and more, they've even got their own wifi system rendering their mall a hotspot!

Last Saturday, I was one of the lucky bloggers to be invited to test the Wifi system of SM MARIKINA.

I think were about 200 bloggers roaming the mall testing the capacity of their wifi system, and I must admit, it was pretty good. Some of the bloggers stayed in the Cyberzone area while others went up to the 3rd floor. As per personal experience, the 3rd floor seemed to have a stronger signal and was quite faster than the one downstairs. What I didn't like about the Cyberzone area was that I kept picking up other signals (from the stores, for example). Nonetheless, the SM Wifi signal was generally stable.

Since I was using a Pocket PC, I was able to walk around and use my gadget to see whether or not I can be connected. I learned that yes, in almost any spot, I was connected. I noticed though that towards the ends of the halls (such as near the comfort room areas), the connection would be quite slow. And no, there is no signal inside the bathroom hehe.

It was an interesting and engaging 3 hours of wifi testing, many of us plurking each other even if we were just in the same area. I was able to meet a lot of new people and I had a great time hanging out with them. Too bad I didn't win the ASUS Laptop that they gave away!!! Congratulations to the birthday girl Sha who won it though!!!

I hope other SM Malls soon follow really rocks that there is a free wifi connection in the mall...I don't need to buy expensive coffee and prepaid cards anymore to access the net! to continue reading...

March 2, 2009

A Harsh Awakening: Lessons from Amiel's Tragedy

Like many others, I was shocked, appalled and saddened by the devastating accident that claimed the life of the Ateneo fourth grader Amiel Alcantara. Albeit I am a relatively active blogger, I made it a point not to get too caught up in the discussion in the blogosphere about the accident, but like a moth to a flame, I found myself browsing articles as I surfed.

Of all those that I read, one article hit home hard.

When I first heard of the tragedy, I casually (and perhaps insensitively) blurted out to my mother, "bet tayo nagtetext kasi yun kaya nakabangga. malamang tinetext niya anak niya na come out na, I'm here already". My mom just blew off the comment, saying something to the effect that I should not assume anything especially since I was not privy to the event anyway. However, when I read the article about how a cellphone may have contributed to the accident, rather than feeling smug that I was right, I felt ashamed.

You see, the reason why I so blatantly blurted out that comment is because I myself often catch myself texting while driving. To be honest, sometimes I even do it when I'm in the expressway and not in a parking lot, the way the mom who hit Amiel allegedly was doing. I have actually been unintentionally photographed by my friends texting while we're in the car. Lately, I've even gotten addicted to surfing online or plurking while I'm stuck in traffic, especially on my way to work while I'm stuck in the endless stoplights lining up the road heading to Quirino Ave. Like the eye-witness account shared, the mom supposedly bent down to pick up something while in the drivers seat. I've done that too. And although I try to be aware about taking my feet off the pedals and pulling up the handbrake, seeing the consequences of such an action was truly a harsh awakening for me.

This has been an important lesson I've learned from the tragedy. Amidst the finger-pointing and the appealing for changes in the system (be it the Ateneo traffic system, the justice system or what-not), I would like to believe that as cliche as it may be, we need to start making changes in ourselves. While changes in the system are crucial and definitely needed, making our own little changes is just as important.

For one, maybe we can all be more aware about what we do with our cellphones while we drive. I don't think I'm the only one who has bent the rules about this...For me, I've started zipping up my phones inside my bag when I'm in the car. To be honest, when I hear the "toot" of my phone, I catch myself automatically reaching out for my bag but I consciously remind myself that the message is not that important anyway. It's not like it's gonna save my life after all, and it can wait. I try to do this even while stopped in front of a light or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Despite that itch to do so, I consciously fight the urge. I have failed every now and then, but I try to stop myself and have started to put my phone on silent while in the car so I don't get tempted to keep on checking.

Another lesson I have learned from this incident is really being more patient while driving and being more considerate on the road. Just recently, I wrote an entry about the lack of driving etiquette in the Philippines. In it, I complained about how people often sideswipe and make gitgitan just to get ahead. They even form three to four lanes in front of a left-turning stoplight, thus blocking the road for those who are trying to go straight. Not only that, drivers seem to think that by tailgaiting, they will get to where they are going any faster. Maybe this is not what happened in Ateneo, but by reading the descriptions of how bad traffic can get during dismissal time and hearing how the kids seemingly play patintero between passing vehicles, I can't help but think the lack of driving etiquette is also something that has to be changed. Again, I have been guilty of all of the above, well, except for the extra lanes. To be honest though, not because I'm being polite but because I'm afraid of getting cited by police officers.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the most valuable lesson I've learned in this incident is that we should not wait until it is too late to make changes in our lives, no matter how small they may be.

I know this is of little consolation to the Alcantara family, but if we all learned one lesson from their son's tragic death, then maybe, just maybe, they can find an answer to why the Lord allowed this accident to happen, and perhaps some comfort in knowing that their son did not die in vain. to continue reading...

March 1, 2009

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