Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: My Year in Review

It has been said that to understand the present, you must look back at the past. So before I completely say goodbye to 2011, I'm taking a trip down memory lane to see how my year has gone by.

My Writer's Dream - Fulfilled

I'm not really an artsy-fartsy kind of creative person. But I am proud to say that I can spin words and create a story out of it. This year, I finally got the chance to see my dream fulfilled: my dream of seeing my work published. I can never forget being offered the chance to write for Sex and Sensibilities (read them here and here) and actually getting paid for it too! And it's all thanks to this workshop I attended this summer. 

Part of 2012 bucketlist: Continue writing! 

Adventures in the City 

Walk This Way Tour with Carlos Celdran (Intramuros & Living La Vida Imelda) - These are really fun tours! 


I was supposed to watch this play with Ryan but he couldn't make it as it would turn out. I never really appreciated RENT until I saw the play. Made me cry. Such a beautiful play! 

What a roller coaster year 2011 has been! I can't wait to find out what 2012 has in store for me. Whatever it is, I'm going to welcome it with open arms. Cheers guys! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Walk This Way: My Intramuros Experience with Carlos Celdran

My favorite subject in school next to English was History. Whether it was Philippine history, Asian history or World history I really enjoyed learning about the past. In fact, back in high school, I was always Best in History for four straight quarters.

I've always thought that the Philippines' history has been a very interesting and colorful one. I remember taking a trip to Intramuros when I was still a student, exploring Fort Santiago and imagining the old city of Manila during the time of the Spaniards reign and when our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was still alive and locked up. And no matter how many times I've taken a trip in Intramuros, I never get tired of re-learning our history.

So imagine my delight to find out about Carlos Celdran, a man who gives historical tours in Intramuros for Filipinos and tourists alike complete with theatrics. I think it was back in 2006 when I first read about him and ever since I've been wanting to experience his tour for myself. It's taken me this long, (hello 2011!) to actually get around to it. It's all thanks to When in Manila and my friend, Ryan, who got the assignment and was kind enough to make me his plus one (after much begging hahaha)

It was a sunny day when I made my way to Intramuros but as soon as Ryan and I got to Fort Santiago, it became an overcast sky. Luckily it didn't rain. 

The man himself, Carlos Celdran, in the flesh. I was so excited to meet him. Haha.

Getting a little story telling done by Carlos. I love the little trivia he gave during the tour. I truly didn't know the famous General MacArthur's Leyte Landing photo was taken thrice! Carlos makes history a whole lot more fun to learn I tell you that because aside from learning history while walking in and along the historic walls of Intramuros, there's background music playing while you do so and of course there's the entertainment factor brought about by Carlos Celdran and his theatrics. 

Picture souvenirs to remember our little trip to Intramuros at Carlos Celdran's Walk This Way. (",) 

That's Ryan inside the calesa that took us to the other side of Intramuros where we saw the old Ateneo de Manila and St. Ignatius Cathedral...or what's left of them. That was his first time to ever ride a calesa. 

A view of the Ilog Pasig. You know what I noticed? The river doesn't stink anymore. Kudos to the Clean Up Pasig project of Mrs. Gina Lopez. Hopefully in the near future the river will become as beautiful as it had been during the Spaniards time in Manila and we can all take a bangka ride... Yes, I do mean bangka, not the airconditioned ferry. 

The ruins of Ateneo de Manila and St. Ignatius Cathedral after the bombing incident of World War II. 

Our tour ended with Carlos giving us all free halo-halo for snacks. Why halo-halo? There's a story on this. Carlos compared us Filipinos to halo-halo. Why? Well because we're a mix race. We come from the lines of Chinese, Malay, Spaniards, Americans and Japanese. And our culture is a mix of these races. Our procrastination habit - Spaniards. Our love for Coke - Americans... 

It was a really great experience overall. Would I have tried it if I didn't get to go for free? Yes. It's quite expensive - Php1,100 for adults, but if you love history like me, I would still go. It's worth it folks. I've an assignment for When in Manila too similar to this - I'll be going on the Livin' La Vida Imelda tour on the 19th! Yey! I'm so excited! I'm taking a picture with Carlos Celdran on my next trip. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gossip Girl I Will Always Love You

Before Serena van der Woodsen was brought to life on the small screen by Blake Lively and before Blair Waldorf was brought to life by Leighton Meester, I already loved Gossip Girl - the book series. I remember collecting the books, anxiously waiting for the next book to become available at Powerbooks. I got lost in the pages of Gossip Girl, imagining the glitzy world of the Upper East Side and basically constantly waiting to see how the love triangle of Blair-Nate-Serena would turn out. And when the stories of these characters ended in the Gossip Girl books, I felt sad...

Then one time while I was browsing the bookstore with my friends, Mai and Ryan, I found this book:

Cecily von Ziegesar came out with another Gossip Girl book with the characters I've grown to love. Nate, Dan, Serena, Vanessa, Blair and Chuck were all back in New York, a little older than they used to be but still truly delightful. 

Well, when my friend Mai bought it, you bet I borrowed it from her as soon as she was done reading it. Typhoon Pedring gave me the break I needed to finally read it. Still a great read I will tell you that much. I read it in one sitting even until dusk came along. Not even not having electricity could make me put down the book until I finished it. 

I highly recommend Gossip Girl fans to read this. Not just I Will Always Love You but the entire series with the original casts.    

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lenovo Philippines' EExtraordinary 10-second Hero Finalist

Confession: I really loved watching Captain Planet and the Planeteers when I was a kid. I used to sing along to its theme song too: Captain Planet, he's a hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero... 

All over the world nowadays we feel the wrath of Mother Nature - better known as climate change - coming down upon us. In Metro Manila alone, the streets become flooded quite fast - with just one heavy downpour. No storm mind you. Just a downpour.

That's of course all thanks to the garbage some people carelessly throw out on the streets, canals and rivers.  But what can we do about it? We're only one right? Not like we have superhero powers like Captain Planet - one huff and puff - fire's out, flood is gone...

Well that's what Zyra Bambico together with her orgmates from the Rotaract Club of San Pedro East are proving to the world through their GreEnvironment project. We don't need superhero powers to help save the Earth. In fact, she says that in under 10 seconds, we can do something small that can make a big impact on the planet.

I personally believe in this cause. And that's why I've been voting for her to help her become Lenovo's EExtraordinary 10-second hero grand winner. You see peeps, Lenovo is awarding the chosen EExtraordinary 10-second hero's charity of choice $50,000! Of course,it's not the only prize Lenovo is giving out.  For being one of the 24 finalists, Zyra already gets an IdeaPad laptop.

If you never got wind of this contest by Lenovo, well lemme give you a short backgrounder on what it's about.  Lenovo's EExtraordinary 10-second hero contest was announced back in August and it's calling all "doers" all over the globe to submit 150-word essay about a good deed they, someone they of or an organization they know of has done in 10-seconds. Out of  so many entries, Zyra Bambico is the Philippines' chosen one.

                                    Zyra Bambico, Lenovo Philippines' EExtraordinary 10-second hero finalist.

This girl truly embodies a "Doer". She graduated in 2007 at San Pedro College of Business Administration with five awards including 2 leadership awards and a a writer of the year award. Today she works as an IT instructor at her College alma mater. She also serves the church and her community by being part of the Rotaract Club and by being a member of the Faithful Jesus Church's Worship team.

Zyra with Lenovo Philippines and Microsoft Philippines executives

From L to Right: Vicky Agorilla, Lenovo Country General Manager; Zyra Bambico, Lenovo EExtraordinary 10-second Philippine finalist, Lalaine Zulueta, Parner Account Manager - Multinational Accounts, Microsoft Philippines and Anna Abola, Marketing Communications Manager of Lenovo Philippines 
Why is Lenovo doing this contest, you ask? Well this is recognition of their Enhanced Experience 2.0, a feature that can be found on select Lenovo computers. If it has the EE 2.0 seal on it, your computer is going to boot up much faster - like 20 seconds faster than your average PC! As Lenovo says, it's a small feat that makes a big difference! Just like their 10-second hero contest. Here's Zyra's entry for Lenovo's EExtraordinary 10-second hero contest: 

I personally think the GreEnvironment is a worthy cause and if you do too, then help her win! All videos of the 24 finalists can be found here: Voting is now open to the public and will last until October 5. All you have to do is select your country, register with your email address and find GreEnvironment entry among the finalists. Click on view story then click Vote for this Entry for your vote to count. The grand winner is the one that gets the most votes so spread the word guys!    

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pan de Amerikana: A Hidden Retreat in the Heart of Marikina

Confession: I have not seen a lot of places in my own country. I grew up in the city, the south side of town, Makati, to be a little more specific and my weekends are normally spent either at home or at the malls near my place. But I do want to travel. See the world... I haven't been anywhere outside the country yet. Still dreaming, planning my first out of the country trip... I figured I should start my travel right here in the Philippines. Be a local tourist first before becoming a foreign one.

And so on a long weekend in August, my friends and I let the wander bug bite us. It took us to the north side of town with the city of Marikina being our first stop. We're all from the south side of town so we were all local tourists.

How did we get there? We all met up at MRT Taft-Rotonda and went down Cubao station. From there we took the FX that had SSS village signboard. Our destination was Pan de Amerikana. It was almost lunch time when we got there. We initially planned to meet up at 9am but some of us are perpetually late comers so when we finally arrived in Marikina, our timing was just perfect.

Let me walk you through the place:

When my friends and I got inside, we all couldn't help but go "Wow". It's so nice here! The place even has a swing and a second floor rooftop footbridge...the kind you'd see in those movies with jungle scenes...

The food we ordered: Good food served at Pan de Amerikana. Pretty affordable too.

My adventure friends:

Marikina is a very clean city indeed. And though it was quite far, with the company of my friends, it was truly a fun day. Would I do it again? Heck yes! It's great to play tourist in your own country. Plus it's nice to get out of your comfort zone from time to time.   

Note: Most photos are taken by my budding photographer friend, Ryan. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Rainy Manila Adventure

After a crazy week at work, I finally got to catch up with my friends. Mai and I accompanied Ryan in Manila, specifically in Quiapo. Quiapo as I discovered is also a place full of affordable yet chic and cute accessories. Look at my cute finds:

I'm so in love with these accessories. Actually saw Camille Co sporting these accessories. Though I didn't like  walking in the puddled streets, shopping for these accessories lifted my mood. These accessories are only Php40! 

Also went to Robinson's Place, Manila. It's been awhile since I last went there. I mean really go there to look around. Before we window shopped, I begged them to find a place to sit down since my feet were really aching already - been standing a lot longer since Wednesday's event which I will blog about in a separate post. We settled on resting at Secret Recipes. 

Chocolate Indulgence

Carrot Cake

My friends have a sweet tooth like I do so they ordered cakes. These two are heavenly! Sweetness overload! 


Ryan's lasagna looked yummy. It tasted good as well. His only disappointment is that the fillings of this lasagna was only on top. Nothing in between. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I ordered Chicken Cordon Bleu. I love foods with lots of cheese in or on it. This is one very juicy chicken. I only wish there was more cheese in this. 

The staff at Secret Recipes were very accommodating to us. They even made sure we always had a glass full of water. And we even got a 30% discount voucher which we can use if we dine in at any Secret Recipes branch in the next two weeks. 

I forgot to take a photo of Ryan. Haha. That's my good friend, Mai smiling for the camera. 

And here is me. I made an effort to actually tie my hair and make it hold its place and I wore some make up too. It's not often you'd see me like this. But I figured I need to exert more effort on looking good just like Andrea did on Devil Wears Prada. My friends also say I should do so. 

It was a nice Manila adventure minus the rain and puddles of course. I seriously love weekend adventures. Next time, I'll blog about my long weekend adventure on the northside of town.