Thursday, December 28, 2006

Home for the Holidays

A pretty quiet Christmas celebration passed by over Singapore. I had spent time with officemates and friends, having a little party to celebrate the event as best as we can. After eating a nice Filipino-inspired dinner, Love Actually was being played on free-to-air TV as the Christmas movie. And just to make it a bit more religious, we watched another movie. You know, it's one of those cheesy movies about a person being sent to this world to save us. He suffered before making the ultimate sacrifice. And after the world thought he was dead, he mysteriously disappears. I believe the title was Superman Returns.

That was basically it for Christmas eve/day. Before and after, it's just rain, shopping, rain, malling, rain, and more rain.


I had to squeeze one more day at work just because there was nothing better left to do. So I breezed through that and managed to do everything I needed to do at the time. Pretty quiet as well in the office, in terms of festivities. Understandable for such a diverse population.


After work, I packed old clothes and gifts into my luggage and personal belongings in preparation for flight PR 502 to Manila the following day.

I had a bit of luck finding a cab and getting to the airport since it wasn't raining at the time. And oh, the long lines of Pinoys at the check-in counter. Took about fifteen minutes to check in my baggage (clocking at 23kg). After some last-minute duty-free shopping, I headed for the gate. There was also this debacle about changing gates 30 minutes before the actual departure time. So, minus points for you, Changi Airport.

Three or so hours later, and after the Step It Up showing, we're back home in Manila, polluted skyline and all.


Immigrations was smooth, baggage took a while, and customs was a breeze. But let me just express my disgust at "well-wishers" in the arrival area. The fucking place was PACKED with people who do NOT need to be there. You know, kids, inaanaks, lolas, and babies. There was even this one family who had a van packed with people -- "O, hindi na kasya. San natin ilalagay yung yung mga bagahe?". Idiots. You nitwits deserve it.

Anyway, after a few calls, I managed to find good ol' mum and dad, with my good ol' car (2 years more before I complete payment).


Even after I was determined not to go home this holiday season, it still feels good to be back, and be pampered and all.

The room with the termites.

The noisy neighbors with their loud mini-components and videoke machine.

The terribly soft mattress.

The road rage-inducing traffic.



I still know how to drive, which is a good thing. And the newspapers are ever-entertaining (this morning they captured a shot of a normal house gate with a sign "WALA DITO ANG NINONG NIYO!!! [Your godfather is not here!!!]". Priceless.

Internet is a bit slow, which people say is because of the recent Taiwan earthquake. This affects most of Southeast-Asia.

Cable TV is great, basketball and other American shows.

Weather is great. It's comfortably-cool, especially during the evenings.

People-watching is also very satisfying ;)

And food? I ticked one of my checklist: Teriyaki Boy. Yum, yum.


So if you're in Manila, see you around. I'll be here for a week and a half, leaving on the 8th.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When It Rains...

Terrible, terrible weather these days. Rains and winds. We got stuck on the bus stop last Sunday, in the midst of strong, almost horizontal downpour. I still haven't quite gotten sick when I normally do after getting wet with rains and cold winds. Air is clean and has few germs.

On the other hand, it's not so hot outside. So that's gotta count for something.


Wow, one week before Christmas.

I want Christmas ham.


And also one week before going to Manila. Wow, as well.

Haven't set my sched yet. Not as tight as I wanted it to be. Lots of free time.

I mean lots and lots.

I should only spend a small amount of time lazing around.

Should get exercise as well.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Hours

Last night, I did something I never did before at work. Stay in the office overnight, awake, and on the phone.

I had to work from 5 PM onwards to do a code release, and ended up going home at 7 AM. In-sanity. Going on London time like that without actually being in London, well, has its obvious disadvantage. One of which is the whacked up sleeping/waking hours. Instant simulated jetlag.

Anyway, sparing you the details, I got through, and still managed to report to work seven-odd hours later. Maybe also just to prove to myself that I can commit to work like that.


Singapore will be having its island-wide free Wi-Fi soon. Free as in beer. Just whip up your Smartphones and laptops, and you'll be downloading your podcasts and RSS feeds whenever, and wherever.

I'm also starting to get tired of my O2 XDA so I might put it up on eBay someday. It's still using the first SIM card/number that I had when I went here, which I rarely use nowadays. There's no sense for me to keep bringing it along. But I guess I just don't know what to do with it anymore.

My Globe SIM is at home in Manila, unused. I might use it for one last hurrah when I come back in a few weeks, then rightfully have the line disconnected, and the number retired. Or recycled. Whatever it is carriers do with their disconnected phone line numbers.


Tomorrow, with the guys and gals at the office, we'll be having our holiday season BBQ party somewhere. Should be fun. I hope the weather cooperates.


Today I am rich. Next week, it's back to normal. Yes, the company has reimbursed me for the expenses using the corporate card I brought with me to London. American Express will get the full amount in a week. Do I still have time to put it on mutual funds for a week? Nah. Too close. Would be nice though to earn some interest off of it ;)


And speaking of mutual funds. I'm a bit proud of myself with knowing these things about the business/industry I'm in. It's in investment banking, in case you didn't know. I may find this knowledge useful for, we'll let's face it, getting even more mo-nay. I mean, it's not your normal paluwagan (the mechanics of which had just been explained to me a few days ago). I hope to learn yet even more from this.


A good habit developing this late in life: reading books while travelling or commuting.

Just bought a nice black cover edition of Good Omens.


Was done with Neverwhere. I liked it a lot, especially after going to and experiencing London itself. Good idea for me to pick it up from Waterstone's.


Wow, one week away from Christmas. Hardly felt it here. Although I feel I can ride it out otherwise, I can't wait to go home and see my friends and party and such.


Note to self: Don't go crazy on spending in the next few weeks.

Now if American Express suddenly forgot about me...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Merry Christmas. Seasons Greetings.

The decors are up, the lights are on, the music is playing -- but the spirit is not there.

The Christmas season, of course, is quite consistent in feeling a bit less fun year after year. It could be because year after year, you realize more and more that Santa really isn't coming. Or maybe it's just that we're getting older and older and Christmas is for kids.

I also miss the Pinoy X-mas songs. Especially the traditional ones (or at least the ones I usually heard when I was a wee boy).

But I do miss most of all is the foooooooood. Majestic ham. Fruit Salad. Puto-bumbong. Bibingka w/ salted egg. Mmmm....


Now I'm trying to make the most out of 27th of December until 8th of January. Meet a couple of special friends. Go to some parties and catchups. Eat, eat, eat (see below). Spend time with family. Maybe do a little shopping and going around. Buy back issues of FHM, Maxim and UNO... :P




... Teriyaki Boy
... Jollibee
... KFC (w/ proper gravy this time)
... Chowking
... Chicken Bacolod
... Max's
... Gonuts Donuts (aaaaand Krispy Kreme)
... Brother's Burger
... Gerry's Grill
... Yellow Cab
... California maki w/ mango (instead of avocado)
... Superbowl
... North Park
... Eng Bee Tin
... Italianni's
... Chili's
... and good old home-cooking


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


In the drafts section of blog is a half-finished melodramatic potential "essay" on how depressing or at least how different it is to be celebrating a birthday away from family and home. That post is never going to see light after what happened last weekend.

I'll elaborate some other time but at least let me say that I'm happy with how my birthday celebration turned out to be. I was treated to a surprise party (surprised party!), a couple of sweet greetings and phone calls from my friends, snail-mail from home, gifts galore and Pinoy home-cooking (with the traditional pancit for long life).

Some of my new toys: a Canon photo-printer (thanks Nes!), and 120GB External Backup drive from myself.


I'm also set to go to Manila this Dec 27 - Jan 8. Tickets were a lot more expensive than normal. PAL has return tickets for $900, Singapore Airlines for $700, and the low cost fliers, Cebu Pacific, JetstarAsia hovering at around $500. Thank God for agencies and their group bookings, I got a ticket home for $395 flying PAL.

I'm planning to meet a lot of people when I'm there. So if you're reading this, I hope we get to see each other in a couple of weeks. Please don't mention that I've gained weight :P

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Last Word on London: A Day Too Much

It's been a couple of days since I left London. But not a lot of people knew what sort of nerve-wracking experience the journey home was.

The day started off great. Nice, sunny and cold. Almost everything I did that day was documented in my previous post, and the picture set is here. What happened after, well, listen up.

I was set to be picked up by the airport shuttle my company had arranged for me at seven o' clock at the apartment I was staying in. A couple of minutes before seven, I had turned off my laptop, sat in the lobby (luggage and all) and tried to read my Neverwhere book. Seven came, no one was around yet, save for the receptionist. Five minutes went by, I thought it a bit unusual for the driver to be late. Seven-fifteen, I had resolved to take it up with the travel agent, the company uses. The contact at the other line was puzzled as well, and tried to contact the shuttle service. It was already around forty past the hour when she told me that the driver is already there and they tried to contact me using my mobile. My phone of course, is fully charged and has full service (signal) but no call came. The receptionist went outside and saw nobody. The contact finally said that they didn't know what happened and that it would be twenty minutes before someone can pick me up. They said that if I can find my own way to the airport, it would be so much better. I still had the sanity not to take it out on the travel agent contact, so I just politely thanked her for the help.

I hauled my ass out of the apartment near Westferry Circus to flag down a couple of cabs. Not being totally prepared for this disaster, I had no money (or at least I was afraid it wasn't enough) and was only armed with my credit cards and debit card. After attempting to flag down around five cabs, I realized that none of them take credit cards at the time, much less American Express. I went back to the apartment and tried to book cabs over the phone.

No such luck. All units with credit card-swiping machines have all been dispatched already.

At that point, almost eight-o-clock, I had to take things into my hands. I lugged my stuff from the apartment all the way to Citibank in Canary Wharf, which took me a good fifteen minutes, in single-digit temperatures, with (I soon learned) thirty kilograms of luggage plus handcarried bags.

Quarter past eight, I was able to flag down a cab. The driver, aware that I'm running late, suggested that I go to Paddington Station and take a fifteen minute ride on the Heathrow Express to the airport, instead of going all the way by car. I took the suggestion and he was on his way. The cab ride, took a good thirty minutes. Before I alighted the cab, Qantas (the codeshare partner of British Airways) had called me up and asked me if I will be joining them tonight. He suggested that from the look of things, and judging from where I am, I might not make it, since I needed to be at the check-in counter at quarter past nine. It was already 8:50pm. I thanked the cab driver for the 35 pound trip, asked for the receipt and ran the platform towards the ticket counter.

One way to Heathrow Airport, fourteen pounds-fifty. Luck was still teasing me, the train will be leaving in around four-minutes just giving me enough time to catch my breath inside.

I asked the ticket-inspector, Ben, who is also Filipino (I learned because he had a flag of the R.P. on his name tag) how long it would take to get to the airport. He said fifteen minutes, I'll make it.

The clincher I think was that it stopped first at terminals 1,2, and 3, waited for four minutes (it was already 9:14PM) before it went on the four-minute ride to terminal four, where I should be.
The train arrived at terminal four at 9:18PM, then I ran til my veins pumped battery acid. I had not eaten dinner yet, my mouth was dry because I had no water to drink, and my body ached from pulling that weight of luggage. I took the lift up to the check-in counters.

At 9:20 PM, the lady at the check-in counter told me they already closed the boarding for the flight to Singapore and that I am not able to get on that flight, no matter what I do.


Tired, hungry and thirsty, I knew I had to take a later flight. I asked the ticket sales what time the next flight was, there was a morning flight at eleven, and an evening flight at nine. Both only had economy class seats. At that point, I knew that I had stayed in London long enough, and opted to replace my business class ticket with a sure-economy ticket on the morning flight, and just have myself waitlisted for business class.

Once I settled that, I had to spend the night somewhere. The Hilton Hotel at Heathrow was the closest, a ten-minute walk through the tunnel. I didn't even care how much it cost or if I will be able to reimburse the company for it.

At the check-in counter, the lady told me of a £159++ room which I can stay for the night. I had given her the corporate credit card, which was, for unexplanable reasons, declined to be charged. What it meant was that I had to shell out some money first, which I didn't really have to since I got my personal credit card with me. At least I'd earn some rewards points for this, I thought.

At Room 423, I watched TV and called room service to order a Hilton burger which cost around a bit less than £30. The order arrived some twenty or thirty minutes after. It had a decent taste and I tried hard not to gobble it up so quickly to avoid getting indigestion.

Eleven-something, adrenaline pumping, heart still beating fast, I tried to get some sleep and wake up the following day, feeling refreshed and relaxed from the events of the day before.


You know in the movies where the character reaches some sort of breaking point after enduring trial after trial? Almost happened.

I woke up at around seven thirty, peeked out the window, and looked at the heavy fog and rain outside. I was afraid my flight will get cancelled. Nonetheless, I thought I'd take a nice bath with the beautifully laid out Crabtree and Evelyn products in the bathroom before heading out to the terminal.

After taking a bath, here was the moment. I was cleaning my glasses when the right lens fell out because the screws on the frame, slipped out for some reason. It was almost impossible to screw it in because it was so tiny.

There were no tears, I only let out a sigh.

I pressed the part together forcibly making the screw tight and just hoped it wouldn't fall out until I get some jeweller screwdrivers.


The check-in went well. I was told by the Qantas/BA crew that from the look of things, I might just get that business seat; but I couldn't find out until before boarding. I still was able to get into the British Airways Lounge and grab some breakfast and snacks, and surf the Internet while waiting for the flight to start boarding.

Blood pressure went to normal once the receptionist at the lounge told me that they are able to accomodate me at business class after all. Big smile on my face. At least a few things went my way.


The flight was relatively uneventful. I met my first single-serving friend, Philippe, on his way to Australia (after it stops at Singapore). I watched World Trade Center, a bit of You, Me And Dupree and Lucky Number Slevin. I only got a few hours sleep, got hungry, ordered a lamb sandwich before breakfast.

Twelve or so hours later, Monday morning, I was at Changi Airport feeling the tropical heat, and relieved to get back home.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


It's 4:28 PM GMT, Saturday. I've checked out of the apartment and I'm just surfing (if the network allows me to) until the shuttle picks me up at 7 and brings me to London-Heathrow Airport, terminal 4.

It was a very productive last day for me. I set the alarm for 7:30 AM and snoozed until 8. Did my last attempt at packing after I took a bath. Checked out early, left my baggage and set out to the last pasyal I'm going to make.

That last trip started from this apartment to Columbia Courtyard to Cabot Square, Canary Wharf Station then rode my last Tube ride to Westminster Station. Once I alighted from the station, I found that it was a very bright and sunny day, in contrast with the wet and windy night before. Walked from Parliament Hall to Westminster Bridge (where I got extorted for £5 "for the children") to the London Eye to Charing Cross Bridge to Victoria Garden, then back to Parliament Hall. I noted the time the Royal Thames River Services departs for Greenwich (12:45PM). Since I had an hour to spare, I walked to Westminster Abbey (saw the long line going in) and took pictures from outside and walked back to Westminster Pier where I boarded the River Cruise boat. After waiting for about three-quarters of an hour, we were ready to go. The commentary the captain did on the cruise was very funny, and he just kept going and going about the factoids and the funny aspects of the sights of River Thames. About half a kilometer past Tower Bridge, he ended his commentary since there was nothing else to see until we get to Canary Wharf and Greenwich.

Once we docked, I got off the boat and looked for some place to eat lunch, and I chanced upon this small restaurant serving roast beef. The reason for that is that I was freezing my ass off already with just my normal clothes and a jacket. I brought this upon myself, I wanted to savor the cold. After lunch, I took one last stroll on Greenwich Park and took pictures of the autumn landscape. I didn't go up the hill anymore to the Royal Observatory since, again, I was numb from the cold. My little Greenwich trek ended with a DLR ride back to Canary Wharf Station. I headed underground to Cabot Place and went up to ground level where the ice skating rink in Canada Place Park is. Took some uninteresting pictures then finally went "home" back to Circus Apartments. It was around four in the evening. Yes, that's right, the sun began to set minutes before. Well, that's the temperate zone for you.

So now, I'm bumming around, ready to go, waiting for my shuttle with my intermittent wifi connection, drafting this blog post on notepad. If you're reading this, then I successfully found an opening with this crappy Internet service.

Next stop: Singapore!

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's A Nice Place, But Not Really Home

Those words were spoken by a colleague of mine who was also sent here to London for a month. I have the same feeling. I'd like to stay but...

The Bath trip last weekend probably capped the entire trip to the U.K. I'm done visiting, and I'm ready to go home.


Home for me is Singapore. I'm flying from Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 on Saturday, 11PM GMT, and ETA at Changi is 6:30 PM Sunday, +0800. I'm taking a cab home, get my night's sleep and report back to our beautiful office down at Orchard Road.

So what did I think of London?


London has the history and culture that welcomes visitors and immigrants from around the globe. True enough, it was once the center of the world, and it still is, if we're talking about time zones. Old world charm juxtaposed with 21st century progress. London is the result of many ideas, almost two millenia worth. In contrast, Singapore has generally one idea, which could be a good thing or a bad thing.

It can't be said enough that London is an expensive place to live in, even more expensive to visit. Transportation, food, and entertainment. The general and practical setup for work probably is to get a nice apartment outside the city, and commute at least an hour to the office. I just learned that London Underground trains are NOT airconditioned, which must be hell during the summer. I personally don't like what I hear of my colleagues commuting experiences such as bad train services, weird commuters, drunk people sleeping on the platform...

If given a chance to live and work in London, I might give it a try, but it'll be a challenge.

I am going to miss London. I hope they send me back again in the future. For now, it's back to the predictable efficiency of the Lion City, my home.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bath and Beyond

One of my goals while I'm here in the U.K., is to take one serious excursion outside of London. I had a couple of choices for places to go to. There's Oxford, Cambridge, Windsor, Liverpool, Stratford-Upon-Avon...


In the end, we decided to go and hour and a half by Great Western, west of London-Paddington, a city called Bath Spa.


It's founded on hot springs, famously associated with the Roman Empire, since they put up temples and buildings around it. A few thousand years after the fall of Rome, it's been preserved quite well.

So have a check on the pictures I took of the Roman Baths, The Jane Austen Centre, and as I mentioned on a previous post, Croydon.

Flight patterns


If there's one thing you notice from seldom cloudless London skies is that commercial planes are zipping and zooming across. I've noticed it since I arrived and I can't help but take the picture I posted above. Not a perfectly composed picture, obviously, but it should illustrate my point.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Croydon Foster Home


I'm here right now in Croydon, around less than half an hour train ride south from Victoria station. I went home with my foster parents Gay and Wood who I also went with today to Bath Spa, or simply Bath. They extended an impromptu invitation to their home, I happily accepted without missing a beat.

Since I don't have my laptop with me, I can't post pictures to flickr yet. I took some really nice pictures of the Roman Bath and Bath Abbey. And though I had no interest whatsoever with Jane Austen, I found the tour at the Jane Austen Museum about her short stay in Bath, very intriguing.

Night fell quickly and early on the U.K, my last Saturday weekend excursion here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Small Steps


I managed to catch the Game On Exhibition in the Science Museum in South Kensington. This exhibit focuses on the history of video games. I'd say 90% of the people who shelled out £8.50 (adults, at least) weren't so much interested in the history, as opposed to playing the demo units, hands-on. I was able to take a trip down memory lane with the Donkey Kong arcade game, Atari 2600's Pitfall and Indy 500. There's also Prince of Persia, various Sonic and Mario games, Dance Dance Revolution, The Sims, and scores of handheld games. I did two matches of Street Fighter II Turbo Edition with some other guy. Naturally, I creamed his E. Honda with my Blanka, and later, his Ryu with my Ken. I rule!


After I visited the area taking pictures of Victoria and Albert Hall and the Natural History Museum, I went straight to Covent Garden. After watching a couple of street performers, I headed for the majestic St. Paul's Cathedral.


I was only able to look inside for a short while, as Sunday mass was being held. (No taking of photos allowed, unfortunately). Then I walked towards Bank and the 'Gherkin' at 30 St. Mary Axe.

Finally, I went up Monument, which is a memorial to the Great Fire of London in 1666. I went up the viewing deck, climbing 311 steps (and going down the same 311 steps).


I took this picture inside, going up the steps. Right before leaving, I was handed a certificate, saying that I was able to climb three hundred and eleven steps up the monument. Priceless and well-deserved.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I watched Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan last night, a film notoriously known for its offensive comedy. Most of the time, it works. I was laughing like crazy throughout the film. Here in London, I get to watch a couple of episodes of Da Ali G show which includes segments of Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen, of course, is my new current favorite comedian following his performance as Jean Girard in Talladega Nights. Have a go at Borat. Chances are you'll have a great time laughing and unable to look away, even when you should. Mark my words.


I've done almost all of the items in my to-do list. Rode the London Eye (even if I lament the fact that I should have ridden when the skies were clearer). Watched Avenue Q and Spam-a-lot. Borat was a London Film Festival Film, so that counts. Went out of London, to Bicester. Currently still taking account of all my meal expenses.

Tomorrow, is the fifth of November, Guy Fawkes Night. In honor of the foiling of the plot to blow up the house of Parliament. There are already some residents here trying out their fireworks for tomorrow. There isn't really any one celebration. Just a few scattered drinking and lighting up fireworks parties here and there. I probably can get a good view from going to some park.


I went to Camden Town today and walked the entire length of Camden High St and Chalk Farm road. A lot of stores selling clothes in various markets, it reminds me of Greenhills and its various tiangge stalls. Camden, I learned, used to be the place where the hippest fashions are created. Or word to that extent. Anyway, I didn't find anything clever enough which was worth buying (since it's expensive even here, £12 for a shirt, or 2 for £20). And I was briefly reminded of how, even in Singapore, there were a lot of clothes I wanted to buy. The problem was that I'd rarely get the chance to wear them. Now if they were nice office clothes...


I also walked from Tottenham Court Station to Oxford Circus, traversing Oxford St. A stretch comparable to Singapore's own Orchard Road in number of commercial and retail establishments. Walked inside Marks and Spencer and bought a beanie and a pair of thermal long johns. Again, I stopped myself from overspending. Especially on autumn/winter wear.

After the little stroll along Oxford, I went to the National Gallery and even witnessed an environmentalist/political rally right on Trafalgar Square. Inside the National Gallery, I viewed works of Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Renoir and various others. I particularly noted the works of Canaletto, whose pieces on Venice had remarkable detail on Venetian architecture.


I walked from Charing(!) Cross to Westminster Station and took a chance on catching the right riverboat schedule. True enough, I was right on time. I took the river cruise from Westminster Pier to Tower Millenium Pier. It cost six quid, one way. DLR-ed my way to Canary Wharf, ate at Chili's in Cabot Square, then walked home and applied ointment to my legs and feet.


Next weekend will mark my final weekend in the United Kingdom for this trip. I fly out the weeked after that. Better make the most of it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sharp Frossssst Tonight

I can't stop thinking and talking about the weather and the temperature.

I had a conversation earlier this evening about the advantages and disadvantages of cold weather and warm weather. Most of my teammates were surprised that I prefer this cold weather than warm comfy weather. One of my teammates pointed out that one thing he liked about consistently warm weather is how light he can dress for anywhere. Fair enough. For my part, I don't experience cold weather often enough in my life in the places I have settled, whereas in the temperate zones, they have these four seasons to speak of.

Anyway, indoor heating is almost always on, up to a level where I can still wear a pull-over sweater over my shirt. I just found out though that even just wearing the down part of my parka can make my body extremely warm even if the air outside is very chilly. I also found out how helpful a scarf is in keeping warm. I managed to walk about a couple of hundred meters in just my business clothes, a sweater and a scarf. So after much apparel-tweaking, the right clothes for me for this type of weather is my normal long-sleeved shirt, trousers, sweater, gloves (if I can't put my hands in my pocket) and the outer jacket of my parka. I'm thinking of getting a bonnet, but I might not need one at all. (And besides, it's going to mess my hair :P)


I'm expected to fly back to Singapore at 18th of November, 11:00PM. I already have an idea on what to do on the day of departure itself. Canary Wharf is going to open an ice skating rink near Canada Square that day. I might just check it out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You know the sunlight always shines, behind the clouds of London skies

Today was the first time I had to go to work on the first of November. Ever.

And let me say that the temperature here in London has dropped a couple of degrees down and that the wind chill brings it down even further. Forecast tomorrow is a high of 9°C/48°F and a low of 3°C/37°F. Brrr...

Walking home, my face, and fingers were numb from the cold and wind. I did want to experience this. I brought this upon myself.

Anyway for the first time in my life, I get to dress up for autumn weather. Heavy jacket, sweater, scarf, gloves. I don't even know how to wear a scarf. I just wrap it in such a way that when one of the ends get caught in something, it'll surely crush my larynx. Anyway, by tomorrow, I'll know how to wear it. Thanks again to google.


I've experienced body overheating as well, if that's what it's called. The disadvantage of course, for wearing cold weather clothes, is that when you get inside buildings (or in the Tube) where there's indoor heating, you'd have to take them off. Or at least, I'd have to take them off. I'm very sensitive to temperature changes. When it gets hot, I sweat profusely. So what happened was that I was still wearing that thick jacket while in the shopping centre. And then when I thought I forgot something, blood pressure rose and body heated up. And let me tell you that jacket is a good insulator. Keeps the cold out and the heat in.


I think I also need thermal underpants. Brrr...


Yesterday, I managed to catch the evening showing of the West End play Spam-A-Lot, starring Tim Curry up at the Palace Theatre right on Cambridge Circus. It's very entertaining and very funny. It's "lovingly ripped off" from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with a few revisions here and there and a new major character in The Lady of the Lake.

I got the (not-so) restricted view seats for £35. E2, which is five rows from the front, the rightmost seat.

The songs were very interesting and catchy. A lot of metahumour and breaking the fourth wall. True to the spirit of Monty Python comedy. At one point, one of the actors couldn't help but snicker uncontrollably at what he came up with improvising a bit of dialogue. There's also the ever-reliable audience participation which could have been me (since the guy picked was sitting in front of me).

All-in-all, I would say that it was a very enriching theatre experience for now. I'm done with it for this trip. Indeed, it costs a lot but every pence piece is worth it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Turning back the Hands of Time

The last Sunday of October marks the end of British Summer Time, and all clocks in the U.K. reverts back to Greenwich Meridian Time.

So to cap an eventful Sunday which took me to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, Bond St., Buckingham Palace, and Borough Market (for some Hog Roll), I went to where all the vertical lines of the globe originate.


The Royal Observatory at Greenwich. (That strip of metal on the ground is 0º 0' 0" E/W. Ooooo...)

The complex stands atop a hill overlooking Docklands and Canary Wharf. The admission to the museum is free and from Cutty Sark Station (Dockland Light Railway, or DLR), you get to go through Greenwich Park with the vast green grass mixed with autumn yellow-orange.

There are a lot of places of interest nearby including the National Maritime Museum, The Cutty Sark a clipper ship, and Queen's House, which is a completely symmetrical set of two buildings. And there's Greenwich itself, with its street markets and its various eating places.

I got almost 1GB worth of pictures just for this day. I didn't need the extra hour because it seemed like a day well-spent, anyway.

The Essentials

Things you are most likely to see me with these days

Nike Diver Bag, Columbia parka/jacket, Nokia 6070, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trooping to the Outlet Stores: Bicester Village

Last Saturday, me, my friend Gay and her husband Wood went and did a little shopping at some outlet villages. The choice was either Freeport Braintree or Bicester Village and we picked the latter because of the more frequent train schedules.


Bicester Village is in the town of Bicester (sounds like bees-tuh) an hour or so away from London, or more specifically London - Marylebone Station.

There are a lot of choice brand names here. I wouldn't honestly say that they are inexpensive enough. Certainly there are good selections and some good deals (discount on second pairs). I lament the fact that most of the selections are from the autumn/winter collections of their respective labels. Nonetheless, I managed to get buy a shirt from Tommy Hilfiger and another one from Reebok. It was very tempting to buy some nice long-sleeved shirts. But I'll be out of here after three weeks. Back to Singapore, where I rarely wear any less lighter than shorts a shirt and sandals.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Internet Is For Porn (and other Avenue Q songs)

I just came home from watching Avenue Q in Noël Coward Theatre near Leicester Square (West End, natch). It's pretty entertaining with all those catchy songs, smart quips and even graphic puppet-on-puppet action. The show is a little bit over two hours including the 15-minute intermission-val in which Häagen-Dazs sponsors the snacks. I got a Royal Circle seat for £37.50 (not on discount), which is second level, second row, center. The U.K. is the first country this is shown outside the U.S.

As one of the songs here say, there's a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time. I love this show.


I got a new favorite drink: Krispy Kreme Hot Chocolate.

I got a new favorite snack: Krispy Kreme Cinnamon Apple filled Doughnut.

I got a new favorite breakfast item: Bagel Factory Sausage Eggworks on Cheese Bagel



One of my colleagues today (who's in London from Singapore as well) told a story of how he got startled that someone entered his room at 5Am and almost gave him a heart attack. It turns out that a lady from room 24 had the guy from reception check something in her room. She mistakenly said she was in room 25 (where my colleague was).

So you people out there. If you're somewhere else, don't sleep in the nude.


I won't be able to catch Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan in the London Film Fest. BUT! Regular showing is on November 2. Cool!


This week is Star Wars week on cable. Today, I think, Star Wars IV: A New Hope is showing.


Next up, Spam-A-Lot! Ni!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don't you Shiver?

I remembered a conversation a I had with a couple of people on my first day at work in Singapore. We were talking about each other's backgrounds and I learned that they come from various non-tropical countries. Places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand. And so I quipped that I've experienced spring, summer and I've yet to experience autumn and winter. Also that I haven't seen snowfall.

They said winter/snow overrated.

What the fuck? Way to burst my bubble.

Anyway, I realize that the proper response to someone saying "oh, I haven't experienced something-something" is "you should see for yourself and knock yourself out."

I was talking to a colleague who was originally from Liverpool who works with me in Singapore and now is currently on business trip to London. I told how I love this weather and that I can't get enough of it. He said it's a novelty that will wear off after a few days. I said that I didn't think so especially when I remember the boring humidity in Singapore and that I have been living in the tropics all my life.

So I love this weather, hovering around 9°-15°C because of the intermittent showers. I like the way that mist comes out of your mouth everytime you exhale. I like how you constantly walk around like you were wearing a blanket. I like how you breathe in the cold air that fills your lungs. And of course, I like how I get to wear these things that I don't normally wear.

Nice and chilly. It's getting colder and colder by the day.

No work for Manila and Singapore. In London, a normal cold work day.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Week One: God Save My Money

I did my first week receipt accounting using Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I was cheap enough not to buy Microsoft Office when I bought my laptop and instead tried to be content with Microsoft Works.

Anyway, more or less (not to mention I forgot to ask for receipts) I spent £179.12 on meals this week. Try to resist the temptation to convert in Singapore dollars or (shudders) Philippine pesos. It's no secret that the cost of living here is fifth in the world and second in Europe only to Moscow, Russia. Everything costs about an arm and two legs. Singapore is 17th and Manila is at 141st.


I rode the London Eye on a rainy Sunday morning, at £13.50. Yikes.

I also went to Oxford Circus to that three-floor Niketown store and bought a small messenger/diver bag and three pairs of socks. Cost me £27.00. Ouch. I also bought Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (£7.99) and Battle Royale DVD (£9.99) at the five-floored Waterstone's at Piccadilly Circus. Great shopping selection here, except (I'll say it again) it's so damn expensive. You better really (financially) prepare for a trip to London to sustain yourself.

I better leave shopping to when I'm in Singapore and just to absorb the culture while I'm here going on trips and tours around the area.

Transportation is also as expensive as it can get. A one way ticket can set you back around £3-4. A conversation between me and a colleague:
Me: ...transportation is also expensive...
Mike: Expensive AND rubbish!

The Tube or London Underground, as it is called, is pretty old and cramped in some areas. I can't imagine claustrophobes using it. They're bomb-shelter deep and sometimes unreliable on weekends (as some parts are being serviced, and stuff like this doesn't help). You're going to do a lot of walking down there especially when transferring lines. A good side, though, is that it has good coverage of the city. But then again, that's what it's supposed to do.

Train stations have a lot of history, which is good. Paddington Station, aside from servicing a lot of suburban and countryside towns and cities is also known for, what else...


...the Paddington Bear.

I haven't really scratched the surface of what's in London.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Appendix A: Things To Do While I'm Here (Part One)

First Days in Greenwich Meridien Time (DST): Part Two

Heathrow Airport is, well, unimpressive. But maybe it's unfair to look at it with respect to our own NAIA Centennial, Hong Kong Lantau, and Singapore's Changi Airport which are relatively new and better planned.

Halfway out of the arrival area and I'm already gathering as much tourist leaflets and brochures as possible. London walks, maps, theatre guides, and what-have-yous. Flying business class on British Airways allowed me to go on the fast track lane for immigrations so I didn't have to line up long. The immigrations officer asked about my trip here, the purpose, what sort of formal training I'm getting, how long, and what company I work for. After that last question, he stamped the page my UK visa was on and I was on my way. Heathrow Airport public address system reports a fire on another building. A good ten minutes waiting on luggage belt three and I'm on my way out. I had to look for the guy holding a sign with my name in it. The guy looked like Alfred Hitchcock and stood in front of the Hertz counter. Once I signalled him a greeting, we were on our way.

Out past the sliding door, I was greeted by an old friend, the cold climate, which I have missed for almost a decade now. The service was, I think, a BMW. I told the driver (who I later knew as Tommy) to guide me through the places we were passing.

Heathrow was a good 15-30 minutes from the interesting part of the city. I found the row brick apartments very appealing. Soon, the driver was pointing me to museums and parks, Buckingham Palace, the Thames, the London Eye, Tate Modern and various government buildings. We headed straight to Docklands and Canary Wharf, where he pointed out where I'll be for the duration of my stay, Circus Apartments.

(More on the apartment on a separate post)

It was already past seven in the morning and I was itching to squeeze out a walk to explore the city. It doesn't get any more touristy than the South Bank Walk.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

First Days in Greenwich Meridien Time (DST): Part One

My boss had tipped me about a possible London trip a few weeks back and asked me for my availability. I told him, I'm just about free until Christmas. A few days after, he told those of us who would be going to prepare requirements for the trip, but wait for approval. I had the tightest of schedules for preparation. I still needed to apply for a UK Business Visit visa, which takes about a week. The day I started was a Friday. I was supposed to leave a week and a day after, and I've yet to finish my visa requirements. The following Thursday (the 12th), I was supposed to get an answer for my visa application. No news. I had worried that they might need more requirements from me since I ticked the "Have you ever been denied visa to another country?" checkbox. Of course, I have, pinoy ako eh! Too many times I've been denied a US visa, I might add.

Friday, I haven't packed yet. No word on the approval at work. And no word about the visa. 1PM, I had an appointment for crowning the root canalled tooth the previous day.

You know how it went anyway. I'm here in London, after all. Friday morning, my line manager said to assume that I'm going. The company's travel agency said that the UK visa has been approved and ready for collection. Needed to do some last-minute cold weather shopping and I'm off.

One last thing I didn't do to prepare was to get a haircut. Bummer.

I had to fly Saturday night on British Airways. Business class, natch! I'd have picked Singapore Airlines to rack up the miles but anyway, it wasn't meant to be. The flight is for 14 hours long. It'd be the first time I'd be in this part of the world. I would be away from Singapore, my foster home, for a month.

The flight was Saturday, 11:25PM Singapore time. I'd arrive in Heathrow Airport in London, 5:45AM Sunday, British Standard Time.


The flight was great and not as long as it seemed. But then again, that's what you get with free flights on business class.

At first, I slept for about five hours. I woke up while we were hovering above India, Pakistan then Afghanistan. Mission:Impossible 3 was showing in one of the channels. Next time I woke up, we were somewhere above Slovakia, Austria, and finally Germany. The plane was on-time. When we landed at Heathrow airport, the pilot was pretty pissed that some of the guiding runway taxi lights weren't on as expected. So he announced that he will do something about that on our behalf. Looking around, it looked like I was the only Asian on the upper deck of the plane. I'm itching to get out into the city and step into the United Kingdom.

Friday, October 13, 2006

London Calling

After a mad scramble for requirements, I'm finally headed for the United Kingdom. I'll be staying for a month.

And you can bet your ass that I'm going to start blogging again, with pictures!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Body Movin', Body movin'

Dear Mom, stop nagging me. Hehe. Pero I love you pa rin :)


My boss invited people in the office to go wall-climbing last Thursday. Lo and behold, only the Noyps (Pinoy) were game for it.

This is a picture of me belaying, my boss, Jon (who'll probably kill me when he finds out I posted a picture of him here) and Jai (a teammate, climbing the wall) The wall-climbing place was around Tanjong Pagar, still near the city central, and is called Climb Adventure. Not bad. But then I find that the PowerUp facility in Pasig is way, waaaay better with the higher walls, the smaller stones (for the increasing level of difficulty), and the safety pulley fixed to the ground (in which this place has none at all). I did about five climbs before I realized that I lack exercise.


Yesterday, I got invited to a little night out at Clarke Quay, the most happenin' place in the country. Pity I didn't bring my camera, but then I don't want lug something with me when I move to the groove (it's more of a seizure-like wriggling, but anyway). I don't remember if I've ever gone clubbing, but then there's always a first for everything. So we headed for the brilliantly named Ministry of Sound and danced the night away. It's got these different rooms with different themes (70s, house, hip-hop/r&b). Entrance fee goes for at least $20 (comes with two drinks) depending on what day and time it is, and if you're a guy or a girl. Don't forget to bring your ID.


We were also advised to go to the "new" temporary office in Tai Seng Avenue. It's our disaster recovery (DR) site. It's a bit lifeless really, looking around the area, I mean compared to the Atrium@Orchard office. The thing is that we SHOULD take a cab going to and from the place because it's hardly the most accessible office in the world. We'll see what happens in the following weeks.


After visiting the DR site, couple of my officemates took one of our visitors from the New York office around Suntec City. We ate lunch at Marche's then went our separate ways.

Met up with a friend in Heeren on Orchard. But not before purchasing boardshorts. It's a black, red and white Ripcurl boardshorts. At size 32W, it surprisingly hangs scandalously low (I'm supposed to be a 33), as in bolex low. (Ask your friends what bolex means). Anyway, I'm just leaving some allowance for wearing trunks underneath the shorts which is how things should be.


Sunday afternoon and evening is pretty uneventful. Took a nap. Had dinner in KFC Bedok. Did a little grocery shopping in Giant then went home and watched Batman Begins on HBO.

I've also found that Sunday nights are the best time for blogging and in essence, recalling what I did in the week that came before.

So until next time...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fried Hokkien Mee

Nes and I just came from Bedok, just one station east from where we live. It's where we ate some Fried Hokkien Mee or Prawn noodles. Really nice food. Of course, if a local (i.e. one of my officemates) tells you where it's nice to eat a certain kind of food, you just go! Usually the nicest food can be found in the hawker centres (or food court or carinderia), so you really can't be picky about the place or how dirty the place looks or how noisy it is. So this is in Bedok "Cooked Food Centre" which is right beside the bus interchange and MRT station. Sometimes you can tell which stalls have the good food just by looking at the number of people waiting for their takeaways. Sometimes you just have to do a little sign language since most of them don't speak English.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Isang Bukas Na Liham sa Ilan Kong Kasama Sa Trabaho

Sa Katrabaho #1: Pare, magpabango ka naman. Hirap naman sa atin, wala kasing effort yung mga iba riyan. Alam na alam ng tao kung kailan ka dumadaan sa likod dahil napapalingon kami.

Sa mga Katrabahong gumagamit ng urinal sa CR: Mga pare, i-shoot niyo naman sa loob. Di naman mahirap yun eh.

At isa pa, please lang magtuyo kayo ng kamay bago lumabas ng silid. Wag munang hawakan ang handle ng pinto kapag basa pa.

Malamang marami pa akong reklamo, pero heto na muna ngayon. Salamat.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Awful Tooth

How's this for recreation? Our boss just invited us to shoot clay pigeons one of these days. It ought to be one hell of an experience. The last time I held a gun was at Villamor Airbase for that ROTC shooting Sunday. I didn't think I hit the target because the recoil really hurts the shoulders (and our dunderhead of a commanding officer made us do pushups the day before). That was with a light M16 rifle. This time, with a 12-gauge shotgun, I'm determined to get at least one target.

Funny guy, our boss. He sent an Outlook invitation email that had you vote for your selection with these choices:

"No, I'd rather not do that sort of thing" and "Yes, I want to kill things"


And speaking of work, we learned today about our temporary move to Tai Seng Avenue. This place is waaaaaay out of easy commute. So we're looking at getting taxi allowance as well as meal allowances because of the sudden change. This'll happen late next week. We'll be there for two months then we'll be back at the sweet confines of The Atrium@Orchard, right in the heart of Singapore.


Today was also the day I went to the dentist. After doing some cleaning and X-rays, she explained to me how much work needs to be done. And I heard the two sweetest words of the English Language: ROOT CANAL. Times TWO! Yep, too bad most of you won't be anywhere near to hear me shriek like a girl. A couple of extractions need to be done as well. Most of it is covered by my lovely dental plan. The dentist also suggested that I get tooth-coloured fillings, which cost and arm and a leg (yes, even for a guy who can afford a plasma TV and a laptop). Anyway, I'm going for all of it. I've never really taken care of myself like this before. Might as well go all the way. Leave a beautiful corpse, that sort of thing.

Curiously, one of my lola's, the second eldest among siblings who's probably never gone to the dentist, still has her teeth intact (although not perfect) at NINETY YEARS OLD. It probably helps that she's a nun and she probably fasts a lot. Good ol' Lola Madre.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

National Day

Originally uploaded by ton2fig.
Today is Singapore National Day, my first holiday here. There are some "national day" events happening at the, where else but the National Stadium. There are national day sales here and there and also national day TV specials.

Have I said "National Day" enough?

Last night was part two of Singapore Fireworks Festival, featuring the Singapore Team. Lots of people gathered around The Merlion and The Esplanade to watch the fireworks display in Marina Bay. Unfortunately, we picked the wrong spot to watch and scrambled for position only after the fireworks started. Nonetheless, I managed to capture some interesting pictures, with people's heads as foreground. The display lasted for about twelve minutes. Bought a tripod yesterday and set the camera on the fireworks setting. There are a couple of interesting snaps, including a "star effect" shown here. I caught them by chance, as I set a one-second delay in shooting so as not to nudge the camera when taking a shot.

This is the star effect, or whatever it's called:

So check the rest of the snaps in here:

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bum-around Sunday

Sunday began in the late morning with a trip to catch the 12:15PM mass at The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. It's just one bus stop away from home although it was already starting to rain once we set out. After mass, we headed for Pasir Ris MRT just to see what was there in the area. Pasir Ris is the north-easternmost end of the East-West Line and the one MRT area I haven't explored yet way out east. As it turns out, we didn't really go far and just went to this one mall beside the station. Ate lunch at McDonald's, looked around some shops, and then headed home for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

It was laundry day for me as my hamper was already barfing out my clothes. I did four batches from the afternoon until around 11PM tonight. Almost ran out of hangers. In the following days, I should be ironing the lot of them or else the wrinkles will really be hard to get out.

So while waiting for the laundry to finish, I was either playing SimCity 4, watching cable or watching DVDs. I purchased the DVDs yesterday at Tampines Mall (yeah, right after I wrote that post about NOT spending). This evening, it was Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) showing on good old plasma TV.

This weekend probably marked the first days that I never spent any time in the city. The malls in Tampines area are almost as good as any regular mall, and it's just four MRT stops away from the weekend traffic. I think it's safe to say that going to the city on weekends will get rarer except for special occasions. Malls outside the city -- that's good urban planning for you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Shore leave

If you're a spending and shopping machine like I currently am (what with the laptop, plasma TV, O2 XDA...), then this article might be a good read for you.

And this after I bought 2 for $30 DVDs of Fargo and About A Boy, a $60 Akira Special Edition, and a $30 Abre Los Ojos. It's been bum-around Saturday for me today. This morning, I went to Tampines Mall, ate McDonald's Chicken Nuggets. I passed G2000 and their "final sale". There were a couple of good buys, shirts, pants. But none, I really, REALLY liked. Besides, the lines were long. So I just went to Fairprice grocery and bought a few things for the bathroom.

After I went home, I just channel surfed, went online and played SimCity4. It's nice to hang out here at home if I really wanted to avoid the weekend crowds. It's breezy, the air is clean, the sun is shining and there's a bunch of food in the fridge. People are milking National Day sales here and there which makes it extra hard to use public transport to the city.

Wednesday is Singapore National Day. Woohoo! Tonight, there will be a fireworks display on Marina Bay. There's a good chance it can be seen from the apartment, as good old #13-03 faces west towards the city.

With a house like this, who'd ever want to go out again?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

There and Back Again Part One

So here I am, back in my foster home, the Lion City. Since then, I've jotted down some blog topics that I might someday post. I intend to write all bout them down here. Prepare for information overload! Just refer to my flickr pictures for visual aid.

Flight Back

I didn't use to fly this often. Now, I'm starting to hate it. The cramped seats. The aching ears and butt. The cold airconditioning. The bad movies. The awful food. Most especially, the fact that it just takes too darn long.

Then again, I've found out (once again) that listening to Sitti on the in-flight radio makes flying much better. My favorite from her debut album is "Hey Look At The Sun". Enchanting voice.

Astoria Park

After the flight, I headed for the baggage collection belt, picked up what's mine, walked casually through the "nothing to declare" customs lane and headed for my new home in Astoria Park condominium. Changi Airport Terminal 2 has the MRT station right below. Four stops from Changi Airport is Kembangan, which in Malay means "expansion". Right outside the MRT station is where our flat sits. Pool. Gym. Thirteen levels up. Great view of the city. Breezy. All worth the extra cash we chip in every month for a year. When I arrived, it was just my IKEA Aneboda bed set, the ref, washer, and iron inside. In the next few weeks, we'll slowly complete the furnishings. and then some.

MRT vs Bus

Being in Treetops in June, I got used to the 10 minute bus ride to the office. In Astoria Park, it's a three minute walk to the MRT platform, then an estimated 25-minute train ride to the office. The trains are quite packed during rush hour. Saka, alam niyo na, marami DIYAN mga may putok. Lalaki, babae, matanda, bata, maganda, pangit, matangkad, maliit. You can probably guess what sort of experience that's like.

The train ride home takes roughly the same time, and the rush hour crowds are still heading home East. I once tried taking the bus. I saved 1-cent, and spent 20 more minutes. But I at least got to sit down and read the newspaper. Every once in a while, I might try taking the bus home, just for kicks.

The Sovereign

Went to Joey's cousin in Meyer Rd. in an apartment called The Sovereign. Wow. Now THAT is an apartment. Very luxurious, and comes with its own elevator. Nonetheless, it's not so commuter-friendly but that's understandable as most of its residents drive cars or take the cab.

Had salad, spinach lasagne and various kinds of pizza. Stuffed myself, as usual.

Move to 4th Floor

When I got back to work, I spent around thirty minutes reading backlog e-mail before I got to the email which said that our team moved to the fourth floor from the eighth. I got my mail anyway, including my very own ATM and credit card.

The fourth floor in The Atrium@Orchard, where I work isn't as good as the eighth, as we all found out. First of all, there's less space, ther's no TV, the vending machine doesn't give out Milo and softdrinks, the chairs are less ergonomic AND, get this, the rest rooms have access codes(!) As to why we need to key-in the four-digit pass every time we want to take leak, who knows, really. I learned that we might need to move somewhere else as our team is growing and growing by the month.

But for now, our office sits opposite MTV Asia/Singapore studios. So every once in a while, we see Denise Keller smoking outside the ground floor lobby, going to the restroom, and such. Go Google her up, if you don't know who she is.

Credit card

Of course, one of the best "welcome back gifts" I received is my very own credit card (this time with ample credit limit). So since I got it, I charge almost everything I buy. Rewards Points galore. Also helped me purchase my laptop at 0% for 12-months.


The thing with banking with Citibank is that they LOOOVE to send out letters. New PIN. Letter. Logged in for the first time. Letter. Activated this. Letter. Used our ATM for the first time. Letter. Walked in front of the branch. Letter. Hehe, kidding on the last one.

I conclude that they hate trees.

Dell XPS M1210

As I mentioned, I got myself a slick Dell laptop with 12.1" screen, 2.0 Ghz Core Duo, 1GB RAM. 12 months to pay at zero interest. Sweet. We also got ourselves Starhub broadband and Cable TV. I'll be online almost every night, and sometimes in the morning when i'm working shifts. We set up the wireless network here at home and secured it, of course.


We managed to catch Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest (with Chinese subtitles) at Suntec City. It's fairly entertaining in some parts, and bits of comedy here and there. I felt that it was quite long, which means that they spent too much screen time on useless things. While it's nice to see the old cast back, the movie is still no match for the quality of its predecessor. After the first time I watched Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, I thought that it was truly a value-for-money movie, funny and engaging all the way and in the end, you wanted to be a pirate.


My drinks of choice when I eat at the Hawker centres or Kopitiams are cold soya milk, White Grape soda called Qoo, or good old Horlick's. When you guys visit, have a taste of some of these.

Of course, there's the old Iced Lemon Tea, Iced Peach Tea, Iced Green Tea and other Iced Tea.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


"We have attempted to deliver your Dell items to you but unfortunately you are not around, please contact our customer service at XXXXXXXX during office hour to make reappointment for delivery.

Thank you very much!"

Ten minutes later, I finally arrived home to get this message.

Sucks, man.


So I was so annoyed, I just decided to vent my frustration by ironing my clothes.


See you some other time

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tomorrow: The Long Story

We got our Starhub Cable TV and MaxOnline broadband today. Tomorrow, when I get the laptop that I bought. Expect a long post (or lots of small chunks of which) about what's been happening since I came back from Manila. Which you probably care to some degree if you're reading this space.

Also, pictures I took since then will get uploaded to flickr.

Oh, and sneak a peek on my webcam tomorrow. Shall we say, around 8PM-ish?

That is, of course, if we get to buy a wireless router. Aaaand, if I decide not to iron my clothes.

Hey that would be a sight to see. View My Webcam to see me iron my clothes. Hehe.

See ya! No, wait. Make that "see me" :)

Monday, July 10, 2006


Bye! I'm leaving again. It's raining again.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

This is the Last Time (again)

I really didn't want to go back here in the motherland this soon. At least not until I've gotten homesick. One month in, I was still having the time of my life. It was a vacation plus a new opportunity, not only on work, but in life. I had to learn to be self-reliant, independent, and be more mature.


I did get to meet and catch up with old friends, which is always refreshing. I played a game of basketball with (my dad's) Greenhills quality shoes (absolutely not to be used for anything other than standing around in). I got to eat food I used to enjoy eating. I was able to visit places that I used to bum around in and window shop. I managed to buy (relatively) inexpensive clothes and items. And again, I got to experience weather I've decided that I love: cool and wet. And the fresh air that comes after. And the wacky sensationalist news. And the awesome cable TV shows. And the farce that was the Pacquiao versus [opponent]. And the lovely sights1.

Aaaand, again, I'm leaving them all behind to face the life I've chosen.

And so, fare thee well. Au revoir. Sa muling pagkikita.



1 The conversion rate between pretty ladies in Manila as compared to Singapore is: 1 sale night in Power Plant Mall is roughly equal to 1 month worth of people shopping around Orchard Road. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez - July 8, 2006

Congratulations to you two! It was a fun wedding! The rain just made everything more exciting.

Come take a look.

Aaaand, it's always nice to be in the company of friends. I will miss you guys! Visit me in Singapore!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Loose Ends

Just cancelled all of my credit cards here (both of them). It gives me fewer things to pay for here (just the monthlies/annual) . So now, I'm just paying for my car, which is halfway into the term already, my camera, and my Globeline, which I might hold on to for a while.

Gotta hold on to something.


One of my favorite movies is on HBO right now. Groundhog Day.


Wow, wow, wow! Sketchup is a cooool app! If you want to dabble into novice 3D modeling, that is.


Still have to do more errands.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Voyage Home

I've been back home in Manila for four days already. A lot of people I've talked to in Singapore before I left kept saying how lucky I am to be on vacation for a week, back home even. I must tell you, the feeling is weird for me, but not really hard to explain.

Going back here is like going home from a vacation. Fun's over. Get back to work. Earn your wages. Look forward to the next vacation. Whenever I take a trip away from Manila, the trip back has always been a journey back to the "real world", whether school or work.

There's a scene in the (really pilit) movie Star Trek: Generations that could maybe parallel the feeling I have. It was the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701B (the second generation starship) and they receive a distress call. There was this ship that was being ripped apart by some galactic ribbon of sorts that we'll know of as The Nexus. When the Enterprise was able to beam most of the survivors, the general feeling of the rescued lot wasn't of relief, but rather of longing, and a desire to go back. Then it turns out this Nexus brings you to some sort of paradise where everything works out for you, and you can do most anything you want. So the general plot of that movie was this bad guy, Dr. Soran (played by the excellent actor Malcolm McDowell) wanting to go back to the Nexus even if it means the destruction of an entire star system.

While I have no desire to destroy star systems myself, Singapore is my Nexus, and I want to go back.

"No, you don't understand! I have to go back! I have to go bac...." - Dr. Soran, right before he was sedated.


Nonetheless, I've been able to accomplish a lot so far. Preparing for Noel's wedding on Saturday. Watched Superman Returns. Played basketball in Ateneo. Ate at KFC. Ate at Wendy's. Had a (stupid) haircut. Bought undershirts and underwear. Bought office pants and had them altered. I just need to buy some more stuff like a tabo, more shirts, more shorts, Goldilock's Polvoron, Pan de Pugon Wheat Pandesal. Obviously, the last two are bilins. Such is the lot of a Pinoy balikbayan.


Oh yeah, and I AM a certified balikbayan. Before I left for Manila, I had to go to the Philippine Embassy at Nassim Rd. to apply for membership in Overseas Worker Welfare Association (OWWA, bi-annual fee of $43, around P1440.00) so that I can get an exit pass. What this exit pass does is that they waive the departure tax (which I have never really encountered even when I was travelling as tourist) and the terminal fee of P550.00 in NAIA. It costs $6 (around P200.00) for an exit pass so it really saves me some money for a couple of extra airport steps.


Speaking of Superman Returns, I've quite a few things to say about it. Brandon Routh can pull off the Superman/Clark Kent bit, which is excellent and makes for a good (re-)start to a franchise. The effects were a bit over-the-top and sometimes unnecessary. The story was god-awful. I mean with the budget they have for this, they could have thrown in a few creative minds in there. Did anyone really feel suspense on the first rescue that he did? Was there any doubt that he will save them? After all, he's Superman! Now, in Superman II, he was up against three(!) superbeings who were also from Krypton. In that movie, you'd wonder if he'd ever come out alive. At least, you'd wonder how he'll ever beat them. See, now that's suspense.

That's in terms of the movie. In terms of the character himself, Superman is capable of being much, much more interesting. Unfortunately, before this movie came along, my idea of Superman was the guy in Kingdom Come (one of the best graphic novels for me), a being beyond mere mortals, and gods themselves.

But I guess that story is way too advanced for Hollywood. Anyway, they just scored with Batman Begins, and now this one. At least they know how to make box-office hits. That's a start.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Born to Fly

Hey, I'm here at the boarding gate already, E22. Flight PR504 to Manila, arriving at around 4-something PM. I get free 15 minutes internet access. Maybe I'll hog it :P We'll be boarding in a few minutes. Did some last-minute shopping at the airport, small stuff.

See you around!

% I'm goin' back to the Philippines %

Flyin' home, baby!

Had an undeniably terrific time. Craving for more. A new life is ahead of me. For now, it'd be nice to be back home (and not do laundry).

See you in Manila!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pre-departure Preparations

Nes and I did a lot of walking over the weekend. Showed him around Orchard Road in Lucky Plaza, Wisma Atria, Tang's, Ngee Ann City and Plaza Singapura. At night, I got invited by his friend Stephan, to watch the Germany-Sweden game near Capital Square. Can you believe it, I missed the only two goals of the game, and I was just late about ten minutes!

Sunday, we went to IKEA to pick out initial things to put in our apartment. I chose a nice bed with lots of space underneath so that the storage boxes I had shipped here can fit. Mattress, mattress pad, quilt cover set w/ pillowcases, pillows, and probably the matching bedside table. I'll probably go back there and buy it so that they can deliver and assemble it next week, before I get back. So at least on July 10, I have a bed to sleep on.

So I flipped through catalogs and wondered: What kind of dining set defines me as a person? (Fight Club reference). But then I really did just that. I'm looking at some shelves also. First, I have to measure some spaces in the apartment. Really interesting experience.


Got my Employment Pass and disembarkation/embarkation card today. Sweet!


Today I opened an account in Citibank and all I got was this lousy card that has my name, account type, and account number scribbled by the bank officer. After doing a lot of waiting, and a cup of coffee, two sugars, and two coffemates, he promised me the debit/ATM card in a few weeks(!) time. I hope my credit card application also gets approved.


McDonald's for lunch. Chicken Fold-over Meal for $6.95. Pretty good. Tastes like chicken shawarma. I really think I'm getting fat by insisting on always finishing my food (with slightly large servings here). That's cause it's relatively expensive when I convert to pesos (a habit I should stop soon). Take that meal for example, $6.95 = P233.00. You better believe I should finish it after spending that much for lunch.


After work, passed by some malls. In one particular mall, Midpoint Orchard, I think, there's a DVD place selling pretty rare Criterion Collection which the owner probably ordered off Amazon. Akira Kurosawa boxed set. Masculin Et Feminin. In The Mood For Love. I even told him, "You have a pretty good selection(-lah)". "Well, we try", he answered proudly. I told him that I would come back next week with money even though I had some in my wallet. What I did was that I scribbled the prices on my XDA to compare it with Amazon prices online. Lo and behold, they were rip-off prices, waaaay above Amazon's listed prices, not to mention the standard discount. So that's the end of that idea. Pity.

Ate a Pepperoni hotdog and Orange Julius original orange smoothie combo for dinner. It's turning out to be a bad idea, as I am getting hungry now. I'm still up savoring the rest of my stay in Treetops. I checkout on Thursday. Fly to Manila on Friday. PR504, ETA 4:40PM at NAIA Terminal 2.

Nes gets my shipment stuff on Saturday, probably the IKEA ones too. Swish. Getting adjusted fine at work. Swish. Everything falling into place now.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I'll Be Here A While; Ain't Going Nowhere

You guys know how I'm such a worry-er, right? Always trying to prepare for the worst, taking into heart Murphy's Law, always jumpy and anxious? I know, it's a bad thing to be always worrying about things all the time. I'm learning to set aside some problems and face the music when they happen.

Yesterday, 23rd of June, 2006, and my father's 57th birthday, it was a day that I can conclusively describe to be one of my best days in recent memory. It's for the simple reason that a lot of the weight I'm putting on myself (figuratively), a lot of the thorns on my side, vanished in one fell swoop.

The first good news I received signalled what was to follow. June 23 would be a great day. The messenger brought me an envelope containing my first paycheck and a complimentary certificate of employment from human resources. It was the first also after a month off between jobs. After lunch, I would scoot over to Citibank, in the building right next to the office, the MacDonald House, and watch the teller bring out the big bills. Literally, that is. Singapore has crazy-sized currency, not unlike Hong Kong.

Yung susunod naman tatagalugin ko na muna kasi baka mabasa nung bosing ko na ka-bonding ko kahapon sa isang sikat na kapihan (hehe, ang cheap tuloy ng dating). Bale, yung mga kasama ko talaga, nasa London, at ako lang sa team yung nagde-develop dito sa Asia-Pacific (i.e. Singapore). Nandito yung team leader ng mga isa't-kalahating linggo para magbigay ng presentation at para na rin i-train ako tungkol sa trabaho. Hindi naman ako masyadong mahilig mag-kape, puro Milo nga ako eh. Kaso gusto ko na rin siya i-libre dahil nga natanggap ko yung unang sweldo ko. Doon, nag-usap kami tungkol sa trabaho, at sa buhay-buhay. Pinaringgan ko pa na gusto ko rin minsan makapunta sa London. At ayun, sabihin na natin mayroon na akong maaasahang isang biyahe papunta roon sa hinaharap kahit sinabi niyang nag-aayos pa lang sila ng ganung klaseng posibilidad. Masaya rin mangarap, lalo na kung malaki ang pagkakataon na magkatotoo. Sa wakas, makikita ko na rin si Mr. Bean at si Danger Mouse.

The third good news is that I'm getting a PC with 2GB of RAM, and add in an extra monitor for good measure. "What?!", you exclaim, "you can have more than one monitor?!" Apparently, I can, and I will. I promise to take a snap of my workspace once the request is done. Pretty exciting for a developer.

The fourth good news brought a ton of relief (I'm a Ton of relief! :P) . My employment pass, which I was worrying about for the longest time, finally got approved. I got this letter of approval-in-principle giving me the standard 24 months to legally work here under this fine company. An approval-in-principle, in effect, is like saying "if anybody asks, you can work here for two years". Anyway, this letter won't be useful for long. I'm getting the real pass on Monday stamped on my lovely Pinoy passport so I can show it to immigrations officers, bank officers, and whoever cares to see it for whatever reason. In Singapore, it's almost impossible to do banking without an employment pass if you're a foreigner. So as early as Monday, I can finally open a bank account in Citibank, and hopefully apply for a credit card too. That way, I won't be holding this lumpsum paycheck in my bag. So why didn't I just hold on to the check until I opened an account. Because it's weekend, and I'm going to do what Singaporeans do! (% Why don't you shop a-round, with your friends %)

The fifth good news also put an end to a long-term project. Nes and I finally found an apartment to stay in for at least a year with tenant option to renew. This wonderful place is in Astoria Park right beside Kembangan MRT (Green Line). It's around 20-30 mins to the office which itself sits on top of Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. This is in rush hour of course, when the trains travel more frequently. It's probably takes around the same time for Nes who'll work in Capital Square. I have to transfer to the red line to get to my destination. So this is a 3-bedroom unit with only a slightly new refrigerator and washer-dryer inside it. It's well-maintained, has a great view of the city, has excellent facilities, and as mentioned, sits right beside an MRT station. So this weekend, we expect to be looking around IKEA, Park Mall, and wherever else they sell house furnishings and bring out the interior designer and feng shui consultant within us. Crazy discounts on furniture also plaster the newspapers, we just have to look for them.

Why three bedroom, when there's only two of us? Because you (yes, YOU!) are welcome to come visit and stay with us. But, just don't drop in unexpected.

With the apartment available on Thursday night, I can move in the stuff I had shipped from Manila and also the clothes I'm planning on leaving here.

Ah, leaving Treetops already? You've been so good to me. Somehow, you make me feel welcome every time I go home to you. Then it turns out the maid cleans the mess I make everyday, so that explains that :P

Finally, I am 100% sure to go home on Friday afternoon, June 30. My boss was considerate enough to make an exception to the rule which says that I can't take holiday leave while on probation. Again, I have an employment pass already which gives me less problem going in and out of the city-state. What's left to do is to go to the Philippine embassy and apply for an exit pass and an application for Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA). Once I finish with that, they can waive the terminal fees and the departure taxes for me, which, obviously, saves me a lot of money and grief. I'll go back here, hopefully to our new apartment, on July 10, new furniture and all. Rackin' up the Mabuhay Miles...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mi-a-mi, screeeeeeeeeeeam!

For me this NBA season felt anti-climactic, or at least had a muted NBA finals. Almost literally, that is. I only knew what happened in the finals because of the muted CNN recap showing in our office. Basically, everything else in Singapore has World Cup 2006 fever.

Anyway, from the muted newsbits that I saw, it seems like D-Wade almost willed them to the championship, after being down 0-2. He deserves it. He really is a superstar. It's a good thing also that he got it this early. The beating he takes everytime he drives hard to the basket will probably take its toll in 2 or 3 years time. So good for him. And Shaq too. I think he better go before he embarrasses himself in the next season. Well, maybe one more season for him. After he's the self-proclaimed "most dominant player ever". True enough, he's still a presence in the middle. Also good for Zo Mourning, who came out of kidney surgery to give it another go in Miami. And also, Gary Payton, who's been selling his soul everywhere just to get a championship ring. Bold predictions? I don't think Miami will repeat next season.

I had Dallas picked to win the series. How could have I gone wrong? For starters, Dirk Nowitzki shoots the lights out everytime he shows up. A seven-foot guy who shoots like Larry Bird? Wow, gotta have one of those in your team. A pretty solid bench. Anyway, it resulted into a great regular season. But then that doesn't get you the ring.

It's been a great season with lots of drama and highlights. And like every year, I can't wait for next season.


As for me, I'm still finding a more permanent place to live in. I've been doing a lot of apartment viewings as you may know and will continue to do more until I've found "the right one".

Yesterday, we had a viewing in Simsville. Funny name, for obvious reasons (or just let that reference pass by over your head).

The apartment was OK except for the common/guest room which had this monstrous playhouse thing going on. So no go for this one. Blech. Probably had soiled mattresses too.


If everything goes well, I''ll be flying home on June 30 and will be there until July 10. Hope I'm still welcome here in Singapore. It's a nice little place they got here.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Online! Boo-yah!

Thanks to Debby for letting me "break-in" her brand new Dell Inspiron 640m laptop.


So I paid for a month's subscription for broadband access here in the apartment. And let me tell you, I'm gonna make the most of it.

In fact I'm gonna....uhm...I'm gonna...

Ok, I'll think of what to do. Until then, I'll always be online when I'm here at home. Now there's no reason to go out and spend more than I need to. Fan-tast-tic!

See ya online! :D

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oh boy, Milo makes my Day

This blogging by email works great!


So I cooked my first breakfast today, after a trial run the other day.
Bacon, eggs and rice, with fresh orange juice. I don't have a rice
cooker in the apartment, so I bought one of those rice in a bag
things. Put the bag in boiling water for 10-12 minutes, drain and you
have instant rice.

Good thing housekeeping will be cleaning up the mess.


I haven't exercised since Sunday (and that was just 15 minutes on the
treadmill). Before that, not since I left for Singapore. I need to get
back on track. I'm still in my weight range of 145-150. I'm up to
147.5 the last time I weighed myself.

At least I'm back to non-fat yoghurt and fruits.

But Milo, makes my day!


Got to taste Kaya Toast yesterday. Quite good. It's just normal
toasted brown bread with butter and some sort of marmalade
combination. That and more hot Milo.


The Orchard Road novelty is wearing off a bit, because I'm trying to
save up until payday, which comes next week. And even then, I
shouldn't be spending it here, but instead, I'll go crazy when I go
back home in July. Cheaper everything. So why shop here? Because of
the variety and the availability and the crazy sales if you're lucky
enough. But maybe the solution may be as simple as going out of
Singapore central, and try the shopping centres in the far off towns.

Aaah, but who has time?


Very quick weather changes here, could be sunny in the morning, and
rainy before lunch, and clear in the evenings. I haven't gotten sick
yet. Must be the Milo.


Anyway, in the office, I'm usually online on Googletalk. Yahoo
Messenger usually needs a bit more of setting up, which I can't do yet
in the forseeable future.


More Milo!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Originally uploaded by ton2fig.
Check out my first househunting trip. I need to select by July when my term with Treetops expires. They're actually pretty good places. A bit on the (relatively) high-end. I mean, it is, given the budget that we've given.

So have a look. Mind the tags.

Note: That last one at Warner Court is f*ckin' huge!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Singapore: The First Week in Pictures

Originally uploaded by ton2fig.

Good stuff! Have a look!

Uhm, ignore the last photo. Yeah, the (apparently) green tea bath tub.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Well, I didn't plan to go online today and chat or blog or whatever it is I do. I thought I would only blog whenever something interesting happens. At least, interesting to me. One week in Singapore, and there's still some places I haven't gone to. Not that I have all the time to tour and sightsee.


In the office, I just keep abusing the vending machine that dispenses free drinks (although, it does have a coin slot for some reason. My drink of choice is hot Milo. Mmm-mm! There's also that interesting Lemon Barley soda that I drink occasionally. It tastes like watered-down lemon tonic water, with some fizz removed. Also free.


Lunchtime, I ate at KFC. I miss pinoy KFC, if anything. The chicken doesn't look fat enough with flour and there's automatically no gravy to go with it. But there's some in the mashed potato, so there you go. I did like the cheese fries (cheese flies, hehehe). It's just the normal fries (not the KFC fries that we know of) with cheese sauce, some sort of sour cream, and spring onion leaves. Costs around $6, about P180.00. Pwede na!


I also discovered this hawker centre, a few hundred meters from work. A hawker centre is essentially a food court. Chicken cutlet rice, $4.00, iced kemon tea, $1.95. Pretty affordable.


Well, the legends are true. they do have free wi-fi inside McDonald's. And speaking of, their Chicken nuggets Barbecue sauce tastes different. I swear the counter guy also asked me If I wanted curry instead.

That brings me to the worst part of commuting: the smell. I really, really don't get it. I mean, we all have noses. Do they find the smell relaxing? energizing? Well, honestly, I find it revolting. Hong Kong MRTs didn't smell anything like this.


Anyway, I had to endure that smell on the way to and from Queensway Shopping Centre. That place is famous for discount sports gear. I bought myself a pair of Nike sandals for $84, marked down from around $120. I don't know if I saved a lot. But they have some pretty good stuff on discount over there. It's just that it's far away from where I'm staying and I had to take an MRT and a bus for that little trek.


I thought I'd be able to go around a lot more this weekend. It turns out that I'll be doing just that, except in a different way. Someone from the real estate agency is going to show me around to look at some long-term housing. I hope I get a good deal.

The place I'm going to live in for a couple of months, maybe years, is probably going to be less desirable than the place I'm staying in right now.

On the way to Queensway, I've seen the HDB (government housing) flats that people stay in. Man, they look lonely. True enough, that's Singapore's version of a depressed area. I'd hate to stay in one of those.


Next week, I should get down to business and start budgeting. Daily expenses on meals, commute and travel time also. I can't wait til payday.


World Cup 2006 starts tomorrow. People here are crazy about it.

I'm a minority of course. I'm rooting for the Mavs to win the NBA Finals.