Monday, October 28, 2013

My Bacolod Adventure Part 2: Friday night party people!

On our second day in Bacolod, my friends and I partied the night away and Calvin Harris' Feel So Close was the song that kicked up our party mood...

This was not really part of the plan. Just a spur-of-the-moment decision between three people who wanted to celebrate Masskara Festival in their own way while in Bacolod.

Actually, my second day in Bacolod started out like so...

Shale took me to Mambukal resort. We were supposed to see the waterfalls but because we spent the rest of the afternoon lying in our room, we didn't get to do so. Haha. The bed was just sooo darn comfortable, what can I say?

But we did tour the resort and took lots of photos. The view there is just amazingly beautiful especially with the sun shining and it's sooo relaxing!

Take me home, country road, take me home. 

That road lead the way to Mambukal resort. Shale and I thought it was just so fantastic, we just had to take a photo of it! Those tall grasses on the side by the way are sugar canes because Negros Occidental is known as the Sugarbowl of the Philippines, the province accounts for more than half of the country's sugar production. 

We were at Mambukal the entire afternoon, swimming at the pool and the sulfur hot springs and eating and sight seeing. Very tourist-y! 

We got together with Jaton that evening when we got back to town and from relaxation, our mood turned to party! And it started with Jaton getting a glitter tattoo! 

Because it's Masskara Festival in Bacolod, Jaton got a masskara!

Then we partied the night away at A Venue Hotel

The A Venue roof deck party was full of teens and early twenty-something party peeps. So what if we were in our late 20s already right? Age is just a number. With good music, great company and oh yes, unlimited tequila shots, we definitely had fun at that party! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Freestyle cover songs brings me happy vibes

When I was in high school, Freestyle songs were part of the soundtrack of  a lot of teenagers' real life love stories. Till I Found You was the "pampakilig" song of the guys who wanted to get the sweet "Yes" of their prospective girlfriend and it was also the ultimate couples' song. So Slow was dedicated by girls to their boyfriends because they believed that they shouldn't give in to their teenage hormonal urges in fear of losing the romance/sweetness of their relationship. And of course, Before I Let You Go was the ultimate sad breakup song in those days! 

That's just something I observed from a distance because I was a late bloomer who spent my high school years pining for one guy until graduation day and therefore did not give any other guy a fighting chance. Freestyle was not part of my high school love story soundtrack. But I loved them anyway. 

Fast forward years later and Freestyle is still making sweet music - granted the vocalists are different now -no more Jinky and Top and granted they are cover songs - but they are great cover songs! I've been listening to Freestyle again this past week after my high school friends and I saw that the band had gigs at a resto bar near our place and we got to reminiscing about how much we loved their songs.

Here are my favorite cover songs by Freestyle at 19 East: 

 Breathe Again originally sang by Toni Braxton.

Changes in my Life

Ebony and Ivory

I Just Can't Stop Loving You 

My friends and I are planning to watch one of their gigs soon and I'm definitely excited about it! Nothing like good music to bring out the happy vibes on a chill out weekend like today. 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Bacolod Adventure Part 1: Playing Tourist

I've always been fascinated with travel and I've always thought that the Philippines with its 7,107 islands is a beautiful country to visit. Bacolod City, otherwise known as the City of Smiles has been part of the places I've been wanting to see ever since I read an article about it in Smile magazine during one of my work-related travels out of town. Last week, I was finally there in the flesh.

My four day adventure in Bacolod was filled with a lot of fun! fun! fun! I will break my story into parts because there are just so many things to share. 

Shale is from Bacolod so lucky me! I didn't need to book a hotel for this trip. I stayed at Shale's house where she lived with her family in Bacolod. I was so well taken care of during my four day stay there.

Shale with her parents
Day 1 in Bacolod was all about checking out the must-see places in the city.

My pretty tour guide/tour buddy
Those photos of us are taken at Pope John Paul II Tower. This tower was built to commemorate the event that happened there 21 years ago, February 20, 1981 when the late Pope John II visited Bacolod city.

Inside the tower you'll see various photos of the late pope from different occasions and some artworks.

There's also this 12 foot stainless steel lighted cross on top of the tower

Shale and I also visited the Negros Museum. I enjoy visiting museums because I enjoy learning about history so when I saw that Smile magazine recommended the place as a must-visit place in Bacolod, I asked Shale to go there as well. 

That train was used to transport goods in Negros Occidental back in the old days. 
At first glance, it looks like US Dollars. But it's actually the old Philippine peso during the Japanese regime.  

We had an old TV just like this at our house before!
Various photos of things to see inside Negros Museum 

Shale and I came straight from the airport to touring the city of Bacolod so we decided to relax for a little while at Negros Cafe which was right beside the museum.

Shale sipping her coffee. Doesn't she look so relaxed already? 

Negros Cafe was located right beside the road but the ambiance of the place was super relaxing even the outside area. I can just imagine reading a book here or writing!

So that's part one of my Bacolod Adventure. More about my trip in this beautiful city in Negros Occidental in the coming days!  

Friday, October 25, 2013

What I learned from Norton

Recently, Norton by Symantec released its 2013 Norton Report findings (formerly known as the Norton Cybercrime Report). Norton has been doing this for four years now to spread awareness on the issue of cybercrime. I find this report very interesting and valuable as I was a cybercrime victim myself once before. 

Once upon a time, my Yahoo mail was hacked. I was sent an email by "Yahoo" saying that they are in the process of deleting inactive email accounts and it asked that I send in my username and password to verify that I am an active user. Out of my own naivety, I responded to the email because I actually thought it was an official email from Yahoo because it had contained Yahoo's logo. Next thing I knew, the hacker pretending to be me sent out emails to all my contacts asking them to deposit money to a certain account because I was "stranded without money and passport due to being robbed" somewhere out of the country. Thankfully, none of my friends and other contacts were gullible enough to send money and they thought of calling me first to check on the legitimacy of the email. I never got to open that Yahoo mail ever again after that as my password had been changed.    

That dear readers is just one of the ways cyber criminals operates. With technology more advanced than before, these cyber criminals have also leveled up. In fact, 2013 Norton Report findings show that while the number of online adults who have experienced cybercrime has decreased, the average cost per victim has risen by 50 percent (US$298 up from US$197 in 2012)!

Not only that. Findings from the Norton Report have also shown that cyber criminals have moved to targeting just PCs to targeting consumers and enterprises' mobile devices - tablets and smartphones alike because we've become more mobile nowadays owning more than just one gadget to accommodate our life on the go. And you know what is alarming to know? While consumers have learned to protect their PC device, there is a lack of awareness to safeguard smartphones and tablets. 

I actually was part of the majority of consumers who don't safeguard their smartphone and/or tablet. But I've realized my mistake because as Symantec's Product Marketing Manager for Consumer and SMB, Philip Routley said, "Today’s cybercriminals are using more sophisticated attacks, such as ransomware and spear-phishing, which yield them more money per attack than ever before. With 49% of consumers using their personal mobile device for both work and play, this creates entirely new security risks for enterprises as cybercriminals have the potential to access even more valuable information.” 

Philip Routley, Symantec Product Marketing Manager for Consumer and SMB

While I listened to Philip Routley discuss the 2013 Norton Report findings, I realized how right he was! It's not just hacking that I as a consumer need to worry about. My digital identity is still in danger if my smartphone and/or tablet got lost especially because my social networking accounts and emails - personal and work plus can easily be accessed by the wrong hands because I don't log out of my social networking and email accounts for convenience. Norton isn't saying we shouldn't use our smartphones or tablets to access our social networking sites anymore or emails for that matter because let's be honest - in today's world, that's kinda hard to do! - what Norton is simply saying is we have to take the proper precautions to avoid becoming a cybercrime victim.  
In fact, here are some of the general tips and best practices courtesy of Norton:

Defend Your DataA comprehensive security suite provides a strong defense against online threats. Norton 360 Multi-Device offers protection for PCs, smartphones and tablets, in a single solution. -I actually use this on my gadgets to keep me protected. (",) 

Think of Mobile Devices as Mini-Computer 

Mobile is the fastest-growing target for cybercriminals. Make sure your mobile device requires a password, and take precautions to ensure you device is protected against theft, loss and cybercrime.

Be Cautious in the Cloud

While cloud storage solutions make it easy to save and share files, they also open other avenues for attack. Be careful about who has access to your files, and use a solution with built-in security if possible

Save Sensitive Transactions for Secure Connection

Free or unsecured Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for thieves to eavesdrop on your activity. Avoid doing any sensitive transactions like banking or shopping while connected to these networks, or use a personal VPN client

After You Connect, Double Check

Check credit card and bank statements regularly for fraudulent transactions, and report any suspicious activity to your provider and/or law enforcement

Have a strong password

Create complex passwords which include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and change your passwords regularly. Consider using a free password manager like Norton Identity Safe, to eliminate the hassle of remembering multiple passwords while keeping your personal information secure

Protect Your Social Network

Don’t blindly click on links within your social network and avoid clicking on any dubious content you may see with sensational, attractive titles. Norton Safe Web for Facebook application is a free tool that uses site rating technology to scan people’s Facebook news feeds for malicious web links

Let's all err on the side of caution folks especially in this digitally connected world we live in now.      

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An Exciting Read: Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol

It had been raining Friday and Saturday this past week because of Typhoon Santi and that kind of weather called for staying in at the comfort of one's home so I did. I stayed home with a good book for company. 


I know it's been out in bookstores for awhile but I haven't really done a lot of reading lately so... Anyhow, one Saturday while Bonsch and I were waiting for Ryan to arrive at Powerbooks, I chanced upon an open copy of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and I decided to pass the time reading it. 

The Lost Symbol is a follow up to Dan Brown's best sellers - Angels and Demons and his first controversial book, The Da Vinci Code which were both turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks. I read both books too and between the two, I actually liked Angels and Demons more because it was a fast-paced thriller.

That's what I loved about The Lost Symbol too. The first couple of chapters that I read at Powerbooks were already exciting and intriguing. A mysterious character joining a secret society for some seemingly evil purpose and somehow Robert Langdon was the key to the success of his evil master plan.

It's a riveting read! At every turn of the page, I was always in suspense, excited to find out what was going to happen next to the characters. The Lost Symbol had me wondering who were the enemies? Was there more than one? Was there a conspiracy? Who could Robert Langdon actually trust? 

I love the mysterious plot presented by the book and I have nothing but praise and marvel for Dan Brown for being able to write stories such as this - merging symbols, legends and history that are actually existing in real life and weave it all together into a great read! 

Out of the three Robert Langdon adventures Dan Brown's already written, by far The Lost Symbol is on the top of my list. I have yet to read his fourth Robert Langdon book - Inferno - but I definitely will. I'm waiting for the paperback version to come out before I buy it.    

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones is a new addition to my list of must-see TV series.

The show is stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as father and daughter who own an advertising firm in the windy city of Chicago.


I heard that Robin Williams had a new sitcom but it was only through a classmate from DLSU that I found out that it was called The Crazy Ones. She recommended it saying it's a good show for marketing peeps. Well, I'm in the business of marketing communications so my curiosity was piqued.

I searched for it and I instantly loved its pilot episode.

Meet the cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robin Williams, Hamish Linklater, Amanda Setton (believe she was one of Blair's minions on Gossip Girl) and James Wolk.

What drew me in: It was Robin Williams' pitch to their client McDonald's: the story of McDonald's is not about the meat (hamburger) but about family. Probably not original from the show but hey that is a genius pitch! It's creative! And I loved that jingle they did with Kelly Clarkson - it was very catchy. 

And I loved the second episode too about the Windy City Coffee where Sara Michelle Gellar had to think outside the box as to how to advertise the coffee brand then they came up with that giant coffee pot pouring coffee for the people of Chicago.

As someone who works in PR and dips her hands into marketing as well, I can so relate to what the characters of the show were going through. With so many brands in the market offering the same thing as your client, what is their edge and how do you as as their communications agency tell the story creatively/ differently so that they will get noticed from the crowd? And yes, it's one of the most stressful jobs but it's also an exciting line of work I tell ya!  

Although I did love the show, some critics were not impressed. They said this was just another show where Robin Williams does his crazy antics which they said used to be funny but not anymore. They called the plot unoriginal and compared it to Mad Men. 

Well I'm no critic or TV sitcom expert but as a viewer who has seen both episodes, I'm going to say this TV sitcom is promising! Robin Williams is still a comedic genius. He's great as the unorthodox ad man Simon Roberts and Sarah Gellar as his uptight and play it safe daughter/co-owner of Roberts and Roberts - they mesh well together. 
Cutie James Wolk is my new Hollywood crush

I hope CBS doesn't cancel this show. It's entertaining to watch. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bitten by the Disco Fever

Last Friday night, I danced the night away...

I went with some friends from LEAP to Throwback Manila. It's this really cool vinyl disco experience held at NBC Tent. Peeps who grew up to the music of the 70s, 80s and 90s trooped to The Fort last Friday for the ultimate blast from the past dance party!

In fact, our table had a bag full of goodies that just took us back to our childhood.

I loved eating this chocolate when I was a kid. 

Me playing with the plastic balloon

Mhay & Russ best friends having a good time with the slinky.
Ledge dancing with dance floor queens Shale and Louie

What's a great party with friends without capturing the fun on camera right? Here are more photos of us at Throwback Manila. 

Serenity girls are party girls! 

Love, love, loved Throwback Manila! And I specially loved that I spent that night with these friends of mine.