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