Urban Adventures: The Great American Circus (12.22.10)

I am no newbie to the SMX area so I wondered a circus can fit in the convention halls. I was thinking of a huge open court where all the trampolines and trapeze lines could all fit in but when we came there no tent was in sight. Even when I asked the guard she just instructed us to go downstairs. They are dead serious that Halls 1 and 2 are enough! So I held my breath as we we walked in. How in hell would they be having a circus in a convention hall...?

(Cricket chirping) You won't see a photo of the entire place because I forgot to snap some shots with the lights on but I will describe it to you the best way I can. On the left side is the circus ring where covered monobloc chairs formed a half moon for the audience. No special theater-like seating like in those carnies, just simple chairs. Well there is a bit of elevation but it's just about a ruler high I estimate. On the right side you have some food stands, a Private Iris booth, a souvenir shop, a stage for photo ops and a few arcade machines. Just seeing the PI booth with mascots gave the cue that this would be a kid friendly show.

Lights out (exactly 4pm mind you) they started with dancing. What happened next were more dancing, with props such as boleadoras, hoops, suspended fabric and other aerial props, an MJ impersonation, different sets of balancing acts and slapstick comedy. Yes guys. At this age it still exists.

Everything so blurry... there's nothing left that's real...

Interesting moments I find amazing were just a few, and most often it involved "danger". Like that act of the crossbow masters where husband and wife perform arrow shooting. The balancing act of cylinders and chairs and anything that can look dangerous stepping on when on top of another is also interesting. The very last act was the the wheel of death which almost scarred us for life because both performers almost fell off of the wheel; most especially the huge guy who attempted to jump rope. The trauma it might have caused if they fell off for real might have left us in trauma and phobia of any circus ever.

The trauma I tell you!

 Balancing Act Fig.1 

Balancing Act Fig. 2 You can't see it here but that was wobbly

I came in with little knowledge on what a circus would be like but it won't take a genius to figure out that from what we have seen, the ticket was utterly overpriced. As i've said if it weren't for the acts having dangerous moments, there really is nothing to spend time to this event no matter how all the posters in all SMs tell you so. There is also no reason for anyone to get a high priced ticket because even if you bought the cheapest one, you can still see every bit of what we see on our side. Movie house even fared better (remember the days when Deluxe and Premiere charge different tickets). Renting the Hall 2 was also another unnecessary feature because they haven't utilized the entire space rented that even if all the seats were taken in Hall 1, there is still room for Hall 2 in twice the number; only that it was left out as a huge void. Whether they decided it to be some food area, I don't see any tables nor did they prohibit anyone bring food in the viewing area, making the place, I don't know, useless?

What was this again?? More dancing?

I should also tell you how numerous times the somersault act (where at the end of the seesaw a guy would be thrown off to a high chair) were a failure thrice. The guy fell off of the chair inspite of being caught, only to succeed at the fourth attempt. I could say that the performer was in tears when he finally perfected the act.

Ooppss... not it. But same group.

What didn't get to impress me more was the MJ impersonation. He was singing and dancing ala Michael but seriously, the guy is probably too old for the act he can't reach the tones anymore and at most he was just catching his breath. He (together with the clowns) get to have photo ops too. Dunno if anyone dared.

And you know what's worse than that intermission number? The fire act of the arcade boy (yeap he have earned this moniker from us after seeing him playing in the arcade in the 15 minute break) who might as well give it up. Local acts are even better than that.

You ain't seen nothing yet. Nope you haven't. I didn't get to see the fire ball here

And of course, the slapstick. Two clowns spitting at each other's faces with water and other old antics. I tried to laugh but nothing came out of me. So much for the funniest duo in the world. At this point I was hoping for a miracle.

If Splendide was any better, I won't know but I am pretty sure that I won't be back in case they visit the country again. Or if I ever would, I hope they'd be more reasonable in pricing. For all I know I don't see what was 'Great' on it.

Yang Chow: Cheap and fabulous. (11.01.10)

Why Imus hasn't yet become a city is because of the rare businesses that should be there in the first place. Take for example the food industry. There are only a few of these restaurants that exist in the Imus area and most of it are either in malls or just your regular fast food joint. So it's not hard to imagine why Yellowcab has been a breath of fresh air especially to the social wannabes who wanted to have other places to hang out.

One of the restaurants that opened this year was Yang Chow in Palico. It's this small little Chinese place which after it's grand opening, closed even before a week due to technical difficulties (says so in the banner back then) and reopened. And when it did, we it was our chance to finally have a taste of the place.

First they'd offer you tea. I know that I shouldn't be drinking tea because of me being acidic but what the heck. It's the best free tea I've ever tasted in a chinese restaurant. 

Then came some bird soup. I have to get pass the disgust in the texture of it (reminds me of saliva, eww) but the taste is superb. After that one by one, the rest of what we ordered came served to us with their friendly waiters. All of which as you can see are fair picks, or should I say, like someone who is might need a visit to the doc after eating.

Initial reaction: Eww....

Yes that's chicken feet, dimsum and siomai

Shanghai, Yang Chow Rice and Liempo

This came late. It's shrimp covered in batter. Don't worry, you can still see the shrimp inside. It exists. And the dip is really made for it. Sister won't try since it looked like mayonnaise but it was more sweet than sour. Dad said it reminded him of pancake batter.

Price of the meal (see photos) plus another plate of garlic rice and iced teas (not there), was 1,223. Not bad for a celebratory meal (mom's bday although she's not here in the country).

Taste wasn't bad at all, if it were closer to church I would love to have lunch out here most of the time compared to Chowking.

Will absolutely go back for more.

TIB: Stupid Facebook Dilemma of the Day

"Do I add the friend of the ex of my boyfriend?"
-- heard in a bus from a girl caller in a local radio station

That's why I don't join Facebook.

SNAP: Switching to Touchscreen (An LG Optimus One Review)

Urban Adventures: Switching to Touchscreen (An LG Optimus One Review)

It's now days since I own an LG Optimus one. Remember how I ranted about not getting anything at that LG fale (fail sale) of theirs? Well, I was one of those guys who got so hyped and disappointed but in the end gave in buying it on regular price. Maybe the marketing manager thought that it would be better to piss off a few clients and hope that suckers would still buy their unit due to the hype. They’re lucky I’m stingy.

LG Box

First off, I really have small hands so the width of the gadget has to matter, in this case, I could never flip it in any way as it needs my entire hand to hold it unlike the one I've been using for a long time. I also have to mention that the finish is a bit slippery to the palm and I might need an anti-slip cover for it just to lessen any stupid accidents in the future. Here's a comparison of the Optimus One to my sister's Itouch:

We still can’t figure out how to use the new digicam T_T

Width of ITouch is thinner without the cover my sister professes.

Being new to the touchscreen revolution, I can say I have no extensive experience in any keypad less device. I haven't replaced my phone for a really long time and the only other gadget I own is a PSP, both didn't require me to touch the screen. This also means that I could not complain that much on how I am disabled when in bumpy rides I could not find which keys I am meaning to use. In a keypad based phone I can text without ever looking at the screen (most handy in early mornings when I can't look at the too bright of a screen) but this time I find myself retyping the useless words I come up with only to end up with accidentally hitting the send button while I'm in the middle of editing my unreadable text. There is an option where I can use other keyboards but I wanted to train myself with QWERTY

Upper QWERTY is the Android pad, bottom is LG’s.

One of the things that add plus (to me anyway) to any phone is its’ feature of how you can set the brightness in anyway you want. Indoors and in bright light it's not noticeable but I often have mine in the lowest setting although I still use the brightest mode outdoors where the sun usually darkens screens.

This is the only angle where you won’t see me reflected in the screen.

SMS thread though already a feature in most phones is still something to rave about. I just can't figure out still how to change my photo.

Those aren't the only messages I have. Honest!

And speaking of photos, since the phone is integrated with a Google account, once I've registered mine to the unit via Wifi (no, I've tried GPRS but a hundred credits later it still didn't work) I get to have my email contacts synched. Existing phonebooks contacts were updated: their respective emails AND headshots get to be included to their phone numbers. It's a feature that shows how naive I was, since my sister told me all wifi capable phones are like that.

I’m hoping it’s okay for me to post that part.

Other than those, benefits of registering Google to the unit does not end there. It also does the following:

1. Unlocks the Calendar feature, uneditable out of the box.
2. Enables you to be notified once you have new mail at Gmail.
3. Automatically sets your phone to accept pms from Gmail’s Chat feature.
4. Updates your gallery to whatever photos you have in your Google account.
5. Gives you the option to share files/notes/contacts from phone to your online account.
6. (Not 100% sure with this) Forwards you details how to unlock your phone if you accidentally forgot how to unlock it.

All of those above are available once you join a Wifi network. No need to sign in everytime. What is also cool once Wifi is on it automatically updates the weather and temperature on the home screen. Without it though, you can still enjoy the day and night transitions as seen below. Live Wallpapers follow suit but since it is animated I dare not use it to prolong battery life.

You should see how that screen changes when it’s raining in Manila.

Also to love is the notification bar. It's a pullable toolbar on the top of the screen that enables the user to see what's currently updating and downloading. It is also your shortcut to enable Wifi, GPRS, GPS and volume. Neat. It only takes a single click to enable any or all of it on. This makes it possible for me to play Sudoku and still reply to any message that comes.

I don't know with IPhones but based on what happens to an Itouch, once I got off of a program, when I get back to it, it resets back to its original state. This on the other hand, keeps the last activity I've been doing. So let's say I've been adding numbers in my calculator. If I accidentally hit the Home button, no matter what program I've been into, once I select the calculator back, It still shows my 1+1 equation. And speaking of calculators, it supports a lengthy form of equation, making it handy in groceries. You never have to input 2 items of the same price twice, but you can simply type in 342.54 X 2 + 1922.30.

Another wonderful feature is the Task Killer, aptly named from its Windows counterpart. It enables you to remove programs that are hogging the phone’s memory.

For a camera that was 3mp, I expected better since my old one was just 2mp. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t mastered how to make most of it or if the camera just sucked. I still can’t make decent photos indoors especially when there’s people involved. It is also frustrating that even if I may use the volume buttons on the upper left side of the unit to zoom in and out of a subject, there is no dedicated button for it. It’s obviously a challenge if I wanted to take a photo of me and someone.

Although I have complains on what the camera does in other photos, I most especially enjoy the Macro setting. 

Storage also gets a low rating. It would have been nicer if they released Optimus One with a higher internal storage, useful for apps that cannot be moved to the SD Card due to how it was programmed. Initial SD (micro) is only 2Gb so I might get a higher one so I can save more videos.
Other minor flaws in my opinion include:

1. In spite of declaring that you can simply drag and drop a video from your pc to phone and watch it then and there, this is simply not true as you will still need to convert the video to the resolution of the screen. Don’t worry where to find the converter though. The micro SD out of the box has the installer for it.

2. There are times that even if I haven’t used a program it still stays on making Angry Birds lag from the reduced memory available. I usually work around this by refreshing the Task Killer or remove them manually from it.

3. Subfolders created from a previously uninstalled app needs to be deleted manually.

4. Battery life is extremely bad. After a day of moderate usage (Wifi, text) I can only get halfway through a movie.

5. Up to now I still can’t open the back cover of the unit. I feel like my nails would bleed if I tried harder.

6. Touch screen has varying modes of sensitivity at times.

7. It’s a wonder how portrait to landscape mode transitions lags a second for normal applications (SMS, calculator) but is quite quick when it comes to games.

For 12150php, buying this out of my 30 day holding period (it took me about a few days before giving in) is not bad at all. Let’s just say it’s good enough that I can use it for another long period without replacement AND without the unshakeable feeling of how I can use that amount to other stuff; unless of course mom insisted in buying me a Samsung Galaxy hehe.

Bye Nielsen!

Even if I haven't watched all of your films, I enjoyed the ones I did. Thank you :-)

HP7: Goodbye Part 1

Although it isn't obvious, I have semi-dismissed my movie reviews (as if anyone would miss that haha). Anything I've seen starting from the last Resident Evil I haven't thought of writing but I'm making last Saturday's movie an exception-- the first part of Harry Potter 7.

With the thought of Rowling co-producing the last two movies me and my youngest sister have huge expectations. For anyone who have seen the last one and actually read the book, I'm betting that we all are much disappointed how the last film turned out. It skipped so many important things, the Elder wand was out of place and the amazing description of Dumbledore's funeral never took place. And since we are now saying goodbye to the series, it is most fitting that we get to see more of the celebrated franchise.

And so we watched. It wasn't in an IMAX cinema as I've promised before but because I thought that since there isn't a 3D moment, there is no use shelling that much money especially when I'm the one whose paying.

When the movie started to roll in, recollections of what I read started to surge in my memory, telling me what I need to expect for next. I haven't read the book since I read it years ago so I am sure I missed on a couple of things but nonetheless I think they got most of it right. Here are some frames that I think were tweaked/skipped out:

1. Hedwig was supposed to be in a cage. But the alteration of our beloved owl shielding Harry from an Avada Kedavra curse looked much heroic.

2. Lucius Malfoy's existence in the movie. This I only agreed on when my sister told me. I am not that 100% sure of this but the reason why I agreed with her is because for Draco to be the replacement of his father as a Death Eater, Lucius shouldn't be there in the first place. This is also heightened by what my sister told me, how the actor who played Lucius begged (in his knees) just to make it to the movie.

3. The missing Snorkack or Erumpent Horn as Hermione said. I believe that it has come into discussion with the 3 (harry, ron, hermie) what type of horn was it that they are seeing in the Lovegoods' house. It is what actually exploded when everyone was flying curses, verifying that it was indeed an Erumpent horn as Hermie argued.

4. While we are in the Snorkack/Erumpent business, this is also supposedly the scene where Hermione makes it obvious that Harry was indeed in the Lovegoods house. It is not shown on the film.

5. The scene where Hermie erases her parents memory is not described in the book BUT it did indeed happen. Although as I recall it, she only mentioned it to her friends.

6. Some lady actually talked to Harry and Hermione when they visited the Potter's house who said that the place has become an artifact/heritage site after what happened with Voldermort. Again, not in the movie.

7. Tent dancing scene didn't exist in the book.

8. Other than the awkward the nude kissing scene is not what I recall to happen. It was just too graphic.

Days later as I'm writing this I could not remember the rest of what I thought the minute I got out of the cinema but I can still recall how I got so emotional. Seeing Tonks and Lupin was the start of it (even if they'd still make it to the next) and then there's Mad-eye and Hedwig. I was also trembling when I saw one of the twins with the missing ear because it reminded me how one of them will die in the end. Last scene I thought that was heart wrenching was the moment that Bellatrix's last desperate move of throwing a knife to those who apparated signalling the death of one of Harry's elves.

I am much more satisfied with this one inspite of some inconsistencies, some I may not have written or noticed since it's been a while since I read the book. But now that Part 1 has passed, I dread for Part 2 to come.

Image: http://www.bloginity.com/blog/2010/11/16/harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-premieres-with-good-reviews/

LG: We came, we saw, we were fooled. (11.13.10)

Dear LG,


I wanted to thank you how you ruined my date last Saturday. Imagine, 4 hours of our date was spent sitting on those hard steps of SM Megamall. We even ate lunch at a takeout from a fastfood joint which we haven't done for the past months of dating not until today. That mother who was complaining how she can't leave the line to eat and her blood sugar were down must be also thankful. I wonder if you rushed her to the hospital in courtesy.

Thank you for bringing our hopes up that no matter how long the line is, for as long as we are IN THE LINE from 2-3 we atleast will get something from you. For all we know you only went to as far as giving out stubs to less than a 100 people. And those people who are so fortunate to get in are either your parents, friends, sales ladies or fitness first employees. The rest of us are left to be told that 'please stay on the line, WE MAY BE ABLE TO DO AN EXTENSION' (yes, this statement was from this LG girl in black and said she was in the ticketing).

Thank you for bringing up the hype by advertising it in newspapers, radio and sites only to be dismayed by supporting only a handful of people. You should have just added in your advertisements that the promo is only open FOR 20 LUCKY so called customers a.k.a SM EMPLOYEES. Thank you for making us see how pathetic your entire team of people were by making the rest of us wait when you can simply tell us to f*ck off when the line was getting longer.

Thank you for taking our photos, how the line snaked from the 4th floor to basement and back just so you can file reports that you have served this many when I believe in a conspiracy theory that only those employees of yours had the upper hand in getting the units beforehand.

Thank you LG. I would never, never, ever go to any of your promos in the future. I doubt none of those who came will ever too.

Experience Jatujak (10.03.10)

One of my goals as a food junkie is to experience all the restaurants I can ever put my hands (or mouth) on in the area I am closest. Now I'm working near the Megamall area so my goal is to have atleast experience dining on each and every restaurant there is in the mall. Nearest to us is Mall A so let's start with that.

One of the probably least looked at food chains are at the area where Toy Kingdom is facing. Currently Toy Kingdom in front of food court does not technically exist yet since it is under construction as of this writing so in case in the future you are reading this, Jatujak (Thai restaurant) can be found on the leftmost part of the Ground floor.

It's just a small space that has a few tables on the actual store, way much smaller than Mexicali in that area. It also has this distinctive violet color you'd seldom see on a food shop and their waiters donning the same colors.

I sat down on one of the chairs nearest the glass wall and pondered over my menu. Most of the food there I have no idea what was but I instinctively ordered Seafood Pad Thai which was priced around 200php. They served it in a huge plate and a serving spoon, meaning to say it was made for sharing.

Initial spoonfuls are honestly heavenly.  I have always enjoyed the infusion of nuts in all sorts of dishes and this one just came in tie with Kare-Kare. It's sweet, nutty and savory. But like what happens to me when I eat something too good to be true (Shrimps for instance) I eventually forced myself to finish the entire plate just so I won't have to do a take-out (why didn't I thought of that?!!) for a reason I am not sure now. All I know is that too much of a good thing only spoils my appetite. I never ate anything the entire day.

I also ordered this Lemon Iced Tea. I forgot how much this cost exactly but the glass is taller than what most restaurants offer at the same price. I didn't like it as much as the dish I ordered and to give you a better description, it's like drinking a lemon-flavored candy, your pick Max or Strepsils diluted in water. That's how it was for me. I will never order this again.

So in a spoonful:
Billout cost was around 300. A tad bit expensive for a lunch.
Shop decor was fairly cute and original, and violet is somewhat new.
Serving time is moderate.
Service rapport is a thumbs up.
FYI, they also have a branch at MoA.

Note: We are revamping our old food review. Now, we get to write the whole food experience yey! I just figured how it is much more difficult for me to keep it up like that before. This would also lower my update flooding that is embarassing when I get the write surge which happens very often because it takes weeks before I get to actually post all the piles I write; So let's just put it into one post per restaurant visit from here on forth! Expect old ones left unposted in the future!

Urban Adventures: Some Harry Potter Phils. event (10.30.10)

After bargaining to my youngest sister where I would take her (this vs. the free movie showing in the Korean Film Festival) she agreed on this HP event held at Powerbooks Greenbelt just last Saturday. I've only heard of it from my PB Newsletter but haven't known of the existence of HPP prior. So even skeptical how we can fit in without robes we still pushed on. We maybe the first ones who signed up.

When we got there, it was as I expected. I am not going to describe how they 'actually are' but just to be safe the members are in locally made robes and have this sort of inner circle of friends who are, to be honest, quite intimidating for us sore thumbs. Thank goodness more Muggles came, even though most of them are forum active.

Some of Harry Potter Philippines members

 Sister signed up for 2 games and without my knowledge signed me up in one too where we get to share a team with Sarah, someone we met just on site when she signed up on our group of 3. First game was finding the Hallows which sister get to join with 2 girls she didn't know but won anyway and second was finding the Horcruxes ala Amazing Race around the PB area (those are just the main ones but there was the bring me games). Basically if one of you were ever there at that time wondering why there are roaming robed-people and girls running to and fro, that's us finding Horcruxes.
That's Sarah holding her freebie, I'm holding one my sister won in the Bring Me Game. P.S. I should do something with my huge arms T_T

Just so you'd know we haven't won. Too bad. I think I'm the only one from the visitors who never participated much. In the end, Sarah get to take home a free book (she said when opening was 'I've been meaning to buy this) from the bring me game and sister from one bring me game which is in a similarly paper bag but is a different book (diary of a wimpy kid) and the Hallows game--  a loot bag of books (Edge Chronicles, a Patterson book and a Notebook + a free umbrella). No HP stuff but better than going home without nothing right? Which I did. But hey, sister just got new books I can simply borrow haha! But not the umbrella. She said she's going to sleep with it tonight.
That's my youngest sister and Sarah. Just look at that blue loot bag.

There was also a story telling part where this lady who I forgot the name (we found out that she was a professor in La Salle teaching the Harry Potter class elective there) with the participation mostly of the cutesy kid named Tyler and Robin who were both active in answering questions. With kids like that none of us older 'kids' need to steal their spotlight.
I should ask my sister what her name was T_T

That's the cute Tyler I was talking about

It took us awhile to get comfortable with all this 'blending in' business but I learned alot of random things from this day like:

1. There is such an elective class about Harry Potter.
2. Never to make my sister be the 1st prisoner to go for the Horcrux game since she technically knows the directors and the actors by heart unlike her old sister (me) who can't even remember Madam's name.
3. Sarah works for QTV and from her stories, has all the perks that would make a freebie hoarder like me would love.
4. It's possible to sing the Hogwarts anthem even if you have no idea what the tone was.
5. Most HP fans here are girls.
6. Getting yourself a Hogwarts robe would make you a witch/wizard and going with casual clothes would instantly name you a Muggle.

They did try their best to make everyone felt comfortable with this whole get-up but I am kind of dismayed with all the delays and all the waiting we have to endure just for the program to officially start or for a new game to commence. I don't have an idea what was actually causing it but hopefully in future events everything would start earlier and in time. I admit my stomach was getting grumpy when at six we were still there.

New books!! Drool!

They do have a book discussion this Saturday at Greenbelt. Not sure if I can make that appointment but will surely update if I can. Till next time HPP!

Experience Jatujak (10.03.10)

One of my goals as a food junkie is to experience all the restaurants I can ever put my hands (or mouth) on in the area I am closest. Now I'm working near the Megamall area so my goal is to have atleast experience dining on each and every restaurant there is in the mall. Nearest to us is Mall A so let's start with that.

One of the probably least looked at food chains are at the area where Toy Kingdom is facing. Currently Toy Kingdom in front of food court does not technically exist yet since it is under construction as of this writing so in case in the future you are reading this, Jatujak (Thai restaurant) can be found on the leftmost part of the Ground floor.

It's just a small space that has a few tables on the actual store, way much smaller than Mexicali in that area. It also has this distinctive violet color you'd seldom see on a food shop and their waiters donning the same colors.

I sat down on one of the chairs nearest the glass wall and pondered over my menu. Most of the food there I have no idea what was but I instinctively ordered Seafood Pad Thai which was priced around 200php. They served it in a huge plate and a serving spoon, meaning to say it was made for sharing.

Initial spoonfuls are honestly heavenly.  I have always enjoyed the infusion of nuts in all sorts of dishes and this one just came in tie with Kare-Kare. It's sweet, nutty and savory. But like what happens to me when I eat something too good to be true (Shrimps for instance) I eventually forced myself to finish the entire plate just so I won't have to do a take-out (why didn't I thought of that?!!) for a reason I am not sure now. All I know is that too much of a good thing only spoils my appetite. I never ate anything the entire day.

I also ordered this Lemon Iced Tea. I forgot how much this cost exactly but the glass is taller than what most restaurants offer at the same price. I didn't like it as much as the dish I ordered and to give you a better description, it's like drinking a lemon-flavored candy, your pick Max or Strepsils diluted in water. That's how it was for me. I will never order this again.

So in a spoonful:
Billout cost was around 300. A tad bit expensive for a lunch.
Shop decor was fairly cute and original, and violet is somewhat new.
Serving time is moderate.
Service rapport is a thumbs up.
FYI, they also have a branch at MoA.

Note: We are revamping our old food review. Now, we get to write the whole food experience yey! I just figured how it is much more difficult for me to keep it up like that before. This would also lower my update flooding that is embarassing when I get the write surge which happens very often because it takes weeks before I get to actually post all the piles I write; So let's just put it into one post per restaurant visit from here on forth! Expect old ones left unposted in the future!

Urban Adventures: MIBF 2010 (09.18.10)

MIBF Entrance at SMX

MIBF or Manila International Book Fair hasn't eluded my eyes again (or so you think since I haven't posted anything after the event). Inspite of being disappointed twice over last year after enticing an officemate to come with and not even coming close to her expectations, I still went here in positive to find gems.

To give you reader to know how I do this book buying decision, I am that type who randomly buy books from fairs but I do have this criteria:

1. It must not be too expensive (since it's a fair after all).
2. It must still be intact, no dog ears, no book ridges.
3. The teaser must be exciting, I must have heard it elsewhere or the author is someone I know or have heard.
4. Decisions would only be made after making sure that I haven't seen it elsewhere.

That's REX Bookstore

So I made my rounds first, scouting every single store as I normally do on trade fairs. Again, not all picky with the authors. In the end here's what I've got:

1. Sudoku Fever - pages and pages of Sudoku. Haven't played it in a while. I might use the brain teaser.
2. XML Developers guide- I will eventually study this when I have the time.
3. From a Buick 8/Stephen King - probably priced 100php in hard bound.
4. A Woman with two Navels/Nick Joaquin - this goes to the Filipino pile.
5. Catch me a Firefly/ - got this on a discount, way cheaper for it's current price at any bookstore.
6. Change we Can Believe In/Barack Obama - around 50php I think.
I was skeptical about this but just thought how cheap they're selling a book in good-condition. Not sure about the contents but at least I haven't spent that much.
7.Scent of Apples/Bienvenido N. Santos - I remembered him from my Filipino Lit. class
8. Personal Finance Book 8/Robert - the cheapest hard bound book I ever saw in Personal Finance, not even priced at 100php. I leafed on it and find it informative.

When I was done I found myself hauling so much books I have ever carried my entire life. Just those three (1, 2, 3, 8) weigh so much being thick and all I even bought that colorful SM Bag because I was afraid my ever so reliable Doulos loot bag's straps would give in. I think I almost broke my back.

So much did all of these cost? Around 800php, and that includes my entrance fee of 20php. Not bad this year don't you think?

Urban Adventures: Myth of the Human Body Museum (10.23.10)

On one of the rare occassions that I find myself awake on my commute on a bus I saw this host and Drew on morning tv talking about plastination. You know, the process of preserving the dead by adding some formula that will make them stiff as plastic and not decompose? Yeah that one. Instantly I thought of a wonderful change of plans on a Saturdate. I've always been in the haunt of finding good places to go in the metro and this I wanted to see. I never had the chance to know where and how much was the entrance fee because I slept on it waiting (commercials and the interview/roaming of Drew and the other host was cut into different parts) but knowing that it existed is enough.

So after hopelessly searching for the details on the net without ever knowing that the exhibit was named as such (the title), using broad queries such as taguig, plastination, exhibit, museum, dead, corpses I really thought I wasn't going to find it. I was so glad when I really found their website and the details I was so needing, for instance a landline.

What I really like about EDSA is that the trick of not getting lost is finding the nearest MRT station. There is no way for you to get lost when it is your benchmark. So with the power of google maps, I tried looking for the said exhibit and how far it was from the nearest MRT station. Not good. I've only went so far in Taguig back when I was college visiting a friend who lived there with the company of other college friends so I don't remember a thing about the directions. There was a time though just this year that I was assigned at Taguig but it doesn't go much further than Market! Market! and when I looked at the map it was a bit far from my benchmark. Not being deterred by this roadblock, I just called the curator for directions instead.

After the call I get to write down Guadalupe, jeeps infront of MCDO, Gate 3 and CWSLAI. I really thought it was easy when we got there but we looked obviously lost on which jeep we should take. So we ended up in a taxi. First one don't have an idea where and the second only know Bayani Road. Good enough.

Traversing the road I saw on our right Market! Market!. So we are near there after all! Why did the map told me that it was so far and --- fine. I don't know how to read maps and what was actually the distance of point A to B.

The taxi went on and we are both trying to look at the places where our landmark must be which was CWSLAI. Imagine saying that a couple of times. It's like reciting ABCDEF. It doesn't make sense what that is right? It's so embarassing repeating it numerous times. Who knows what the driver must have thought of me. Anyways, on my side of the window I saw another marker. I remember the curator saying that the building has Gods and Goddesses sculptures. There it was! And to verify it more, there's C-W-S-L-A-I! It exists, yey!

 After the cab dropping us off, the guard kindly ushered us on the left side of the building where you get to buy the tickets. Lookie I am visitor 202!

When we came in, we are greeted by tour guides all for our own. I forgot if they let us pick anyone but one suddenly said, "Are you ready to go in?"-- like as if we have to prepare ourselves for what we should be seeing. Like a horror house only well lit and in my mind I was imagining that I might get nightmares in the tone of his voice. When we said yes in unison (is it still unison when there is just the two of us?) he gave out the rules: No photography (haha DSLR wannabes might die) and no touching of the specimens (duh, why would you touch a century old dead?!!).

Ground floor houses the specimens who are into sports. Tour guide also gave a primer on how plastination was done (he was scanning and reading the wall print) and I found myself nodding vigorously. Maybe because I don't really care about how it was done and was just itching to see the rest. He also mentioned that they used Greek Gods to represent the parts/systems of the body in the exhibit. Being an old lover of mythologies I hate being lectured on who Heracles was and Zeus and argh. I started eyeing the stairs.

After a minute or so, we went up alone (he said to watch out for the lowered beam which when I got I don't even  need to duck) to be greeted by another tour guide. This time I was getting interested but unfortunately my least remembered part. I now forgot what was on this side but I remembered two things: he kept on ushering us quick by saying "now moving on..." after successfully saying the medical names of the bone structures we have no idea how to verify and to add to the confusion he has braces. It's like he's saying a tongue twister all along.

Next part was... was... I think it was the respiratory system or something. I do remember that we now have joined a family of 3 (mom, dad and son, who was probably our age too) where being parents and all who are more concerned about health, are curious at every little thing. At the circulatory system where they have the all-vein guy they discussed for eternity while both me and my date are arguing the nail-like shape of the veins on the tips of the fingers. I just urged him on to look at the oversized hearts preserved in their own diseased glory.

(Borrowing a line from one of our tour guides) Moving on, It's like a whirlwind of dead and more dead and tour guides reciting more medical terms I have no possible way of memorizing in an instant. I don't even have an idea how many we've passed before we got to the most uncomfortable part (there was digestive and the circulatory systems not so sure which came first) -- the reproductive system.

If it wasn't for the mom I would be more uneasy. It's not comfortable seeing a piece of err... the female genatalia in it's full glory (it even has hairs T_T) nor was it with the males when the three people in my group are men and one of them is probably at the same age as my dad (or older). It's like this feeling that I get whenever I'm watching two people torridly kissing on tv, with both parents on my side. Really awkward.

After that we got to the brain section (oh oh they had a multimedia presentation on the reproductive system or more like the miracles of pregnancy before I forget) where I learned that when someone dies you first lose sight, then hearing then touch. The rest is just a blur. There was also a 'bonus' like specimen, a full body of a child vertically dissected into 3. This may sound gruesome, but seen in that kind of butchered state she really looked like meat. I brushed it off my mind before I become vegan.

Then there's the section where they have fetuses in different stages of growth. Most fascinating was seeing them in cylinders showing blood, one of them, if you may so visit will not miss, the scariest bright red fetus I've ever seen. Looked like a rocker's idea of an album cover.

Fast forward to elsewhere we saw the only part of the museum where you can only take pictures, but only at the right side. On the left was the the MRI like dissection of a woman suspended in mid-air (missing a leg and an arm I theorized to my date who noticed the missing parts was intended so they don't need to hook more parts anymore) and on the right was the tarpaulin as seen here:

After seeing those we came back to a small little room that the family we were with went in instead of what me and date did of going on. There We get to do some inking on paper which you can take home as souvenir and not make parts of your own in clay as I previously thought much cooler. But let's just make do of what we have. Thankfully it's just the 5 of us. Imagine what it would be like if it's a field trip. Here's a scanned copy of my work:

In the end I realized how unprepared I am to even get pregnant (I think seeing how a woman's internal organs temporarily move upwards to accomodate a baby is too graphic for me) and how scary a stomach of a person with an ulcer looks like. Sadly we should have gotten more out of it if they thought that not all visitors are medical students who would get what the jargons they are saying. It's flattering to instantly assume that we are still students (hehe) but doing so will not make an exhibit whose initial purpose is to promote health and wellness friendly in the general public. Not everyone needs to be well-versed in medical terms just by visiting an exhibit.

I also disapprove having the last part of the exhibit with the most number of tour guides who are mum on what we are currently looking and had dumb looks and didn't know what they were doing. I don't even have an idea why they're there in the first place. I was expecting them to tell us what's this fetus is, and the development stage and not just ogle with us over the specimens.

Verdict? I will say I'm not thoroughly satisfied. I did see plastination in Ripley's episode before and it was more stunning. Remember that rider and the horse? That was cool. Or maybe just sensitive tour guides who gives time to their visitors to ponder on the specimens. They're there all the time but we aren't. Besides, there aren't any much of visitors that day too.

As you can see on the ticket above, you have until April next year to decide on whether you wanted to go or not because for 350 that's the best you'd get.

The Influence of Financial Books #5. Pay Yourself First

Before I even started reading books, I was already introduced to this concept by Ed. I was fascinated by this and ever since I've learned about it I became more dutiful in saving.

Pay yourself first is a concept wherein you simply have to allocate a portion of your money as payment for yourself, may it be for the work that you did or for the commission you received. Think of yourself as a resource that has to be paid. For most of us this is in the form of a treat, like a spa, or a movie. But we should not interchange this wonderful concept to indulgence. There is a huge difference. Bear in mind that in paying yourself first, you are making sure that you, your very own resource gets paid for the time you spent on working every single day and not the owner of that boutique you bought those pair of shoes.

Not clear enough yet?

Look at your paycheck. See the tax there? That's one way of seeing the beauty of paying yourself first. The government wants itself to get paid FIRST before anything else, your debt, your bills, and whatever expense you incur. Remember, you are not an infinite resource. You grow old and gray and by that time when no one wants to pay for your services anymore, there is no way for you to pay yourself anything at all. But isn't that what your salary is for? Well, nope it isn't. Your salary is what you use for everything else remember? For that lunch, that electric bill, that grocery. Everyone gets paid other than you. In rough terms you are merely a medium of sharing the money around and unless you do something about that, well, goodluck in generating money from air.

Now the question, how much is this must be? Back in our old post we have discussed how much emergency funds usually cost, this is no different. Ideally, it's 1 hour for every 8 hours you are paid for. You can increase it if you want but make sure that you make realistic allocations or you'd be only be stressed not being able to pay for all your needs (and wants if you may).

Paying yourself first may sound like a fancy "term" of saving but when you think that you are the one benefiting from this, it's really hard to contest. So what should keep you from paying YOURSELF first before your landlord or MERALCO or whoever? Don't you see yourself much more important?

Image: http://www.google.com.ph/imglanding?q=pay+yourself+first&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&tbs=isch:1&tbnid=Cw5ZabdwuGBcdM:&imgrefurl=http://www.onlinefinancialupdate.com/&imgurl=http://www.onlinefinancialupdate.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/saving-money-258x300.jpg&zoom=1&w=258&h=300&iact=hc&ei=Woi7TPv7DISycbzO3cUM&oei=O4i7TPf4O4zvcI74kLsM&esq=13&page=10&tbnh=167&tbnw=132&start=127&ndsp=14&ved=1t:429,r:10,s:127&biw=1065&bih=683&safe=on

Investing Mindset

Ever since I started reading financial books and I was getting more interested in this personal finance stuff, I've had experiences on this matter when people learned that I am educating myself about it.

First was the Powerbooks guy who was so eager to help me out when I gave up finding Lynch's book. That was after he looked at me from head to toe in astonishment when he asked who I'm buying the books for. I told him it's for me, that I'm the one who wanted to do investment. His reaction was 'you don't look like one'.

The other one was over lunch times, there are three of us, one of us are onto stocks for around 3 years now. I frequented asking him what's this and that about stocks until one day, the other guy told me 'tell me if you've gained so I can do the same'

The other time was with another officemate. When she saw this financial book on my table (this time it was Gamboa's), she asked if I was already investing. I told her I'd start soon (as I am done with papers and stuff) and in the slightest way I told her the advantage if she does the same. Her reaction when I started with stocks? 'What if it loses?'

Then there is also this officemate who I learned is more interested in real estate. We plan to be some sort of partners, I'd do research on liquid investments and she in real estate, and we give each other tips and ideas when to invest where.  It took me a few chat time sessions (via office messenger) until I convinced her to chill in the holding periods and fluctuations. Of all of them she is the closest to my age (with the exception of the PB guy I think) and our minds are in synch in finding our milking cows. I can smell partnership in the long run.

Of all of these I realize more and more what Gamboa was saying about thinking poor. I get his message really but there is no good of an example when you experience it first hand.

Example A has an investor look in his mind.
Example B is a free loader.
Example C has a low risk profile.
Example D needs a push.

Though Example A has superficial expectations on who should read who (or who should be an investor or not), it's apparent that he himself is interested in investing. But based on how he talked to me he never mentioned engaging in actual investing. He did mention some guy who was a regular customer who he professes buys his books from his passive income where  that investor guy only sticks to just one tip to be successful. But listening to him relaying stories of other people but not himself is quite weird. All the knowledge in the world you gained from books, especially personal finance must be put into action too. I hope next time he'd be more inclined in doing the same too.

Example B is well, obviously what most Filipinos are. Tell them that there is this guy who was talked by another guy about some investment that give high yields just by recruiting somebody. No surprise why most of us fall for pyramid scams. We all love to tag in without asking what's this and that. And most often we just rely to another guy's confession, not information.

Example C is a bit hard to convince in stocks. You can never convince someone if their mindset is protecting whatever funds they have. I know I haven't mentioned but this officemate is a mom of two kids. Of course she is more insecure in putting in cash that has no definite return.

Example D is a different case all together. We all believe that real estate is the answer to everything. Ask anyone and everyone wants to be a landlord. But it's not just real estate that we all have to focus in. She needs a push in a way that she also has to see that there are other ways in skinning the cat; no matter how Kiyosaki tells you so.

I'm not saying that I'm better than everyone else's because other than getting burned, I am still a newbie. I've only been trading for less than a month and there is no telling if I fail a lot of times because of my inexperience. And with that in mind, I know that failing is part of this whole business and it's not a game like most people think. Pinoys are always on the extreme sides whenever it comes to investing that when someone is optimistic about it, the slightest provocation means they'd get out of it ever. Pessimists then won't ever join in no matter what. The fact is, failure, tolerance, patience and having an open mind is what investors get successful in. If there is only one thing I can agree with Kiyosaki it's his repeated lines 'that it doesn't need money to make money'-- to add, it's your mindset that counts. And unless Pinoys get over the fear, the ostrich effect, greediness and the urge for instant self gratification, well, not a trillion pesos would ever make someone a really successful investor.

image: http://smallbusinessphilippines.blogspot.com/

Incoherent Musings about Carlos Celdran and the RH Bill

When I was still in this Non-Life Insurance company I remembered that time when they had two consecutive outings, one was an all expense paid trip to Bora and a tour date at Intramuros. For a non regular employee (I was just deployed as a Developer/Consultant there) of course we can't take part on the trips but unlike most of my officemates who are envious at the Bora outing, I was more interested, drooling to add at that, to the Manila tour with Carlos Celdran. I don't recall when but I know for the longest time, I am quite fascinated with the guy (and I haven't even met him yet!).

For the past weeks we've been seeing him on TV, and on how he was imprisoned for a while for his solo protest. I was shocked I almost stood from where I was seated (I was at the bus) but smiled after a while when I learned of his reason. It's so like him. Even his protest has 'class'.

Like most sensible bills that haven't seen the light of day in this country, the RH bill is one of the most talked about bills that is clearly misunderstood by most people, even the Church. In one interview some bishop said that they are against the abduction of life. How they come up with connecting that with the bill is stupid like as contraceptives are to blame for this. The bill specifically said methods on how to 'prevent' the conception of a new born. Nowhere will you find it endorse abortion of any kind. (Can't find that link but I did saw that on tv)

Another issue concerns moral values. Unless they don't watch tv or go out in the streets they won't realize that our population has grown out of proportion and the culprits aren't really singles simply promoting promiscuity. At most they are married (well not so sure about that) couples who raise their family like a factory.

The days are gone when families own ample real estate to give out to their 10 kids so that they can have a living off the land. My parents are both from semi-huge families and in spite of them having really good land inheritance, at the number of how we are much today there isn't much left for our generation. That's just us we are talking about. But how about those families who mutate in number for years and years in make shift houses and public infrastructures? Their kids imagine that they own wherever they were raised on that other than living off of something they don't own, they pollute it and whine when everything is not bright and cheery anymore. For a country that is lazy to be taught of family planning, ‘capping’ the conception is exactly what we needed right now.

In another note, obviously this would only result to teens becoming more exposed to the (not so) sensitive issue of sex. That when the time comes that contraceptives are as normal as buying OTC drugs, we may be more liberal in what the Catholic Church still find as ‘taboo’. Ask me and I still am uneasy seeing how TV and magazines talk about sex, condoms and positions and whatever most kids are more exposed to than I am. But even with that kind of thinking, I still believe we needed the RH Bill. And this is exactly what Carlos is fighting for.

No matter how I think of it I still believe that CBCP doesn’t see it in a manner that most of us would benefit from. Yes, it’s still wrong to be involved in sex out of the sanctity of marriage (review your Bible and read that this is also adultery) but it is much worse to
  1. Promote civil disobedience for your cause but not the other way around (e.g. Celdran) especially if it’s against your wills (double standard!).
  2. Involve in the decisions of the government. (Government and Church are different entities)
  3. Let the ‘national pastime of poor families’ be everybody’s burden
  4. Have more fetuses left in bathrooms and other public places of parents who are not mature enough to have in the first place.
  5. Putting on blinders and not seeing this as a terrible problem.

What Celdran did last week was a really good example of our current situation that even though I do not agree with ‘when’ it was done, I still believe that it got ‘their’ attention. Hoping though that this goes somewhere relevant, I really wish they'd just shut up. I have more than enough former classmates who are clear evidence of unprotected sex.

Homework Ban

Just as I thought that E-vat was the stupidest thing that has ever happened to Pinoys, here's a neck to neck contender. The no Friday homework. The intention of this law is so that students may have more time to bond with the rest of their family during weekends due to teachers not giving them any homework. Even if the intention meant to be "good" as they say, I really don't see any sense.

For one, students DON'T DO THEIR HOMEWORK ON WEEKENDS. They cram Monday morning. And what family bonding are they talking about? They'd (students) have more time in front of the computer or go malling with their friends! And why? Because their parents are either asleep the entire weekend, or are still keeping up with generating more income (that's because their salaries flow out of their pockets due to excessive taxations in every little thing there is) or do weekend chores their lazy fat ass kids don't bother do. Our student demographic are lazy and stupid enough to add more to their bad habits of not doing school work during weekends. The only ones happy with this setup are malls, dimwits. I hope you guys who passed this realize that in the long run we'd have more students who does not pass a simple job interview or worse, experiment with their boyfriends 'what to do with their spare time'. Goodluck with that.

It's no secret that in passing a law, never mind the time it consumes Congress since it's their job anyway, requires a resource that the rest of us are dying just to pay, funds derived from our taxes. I can't imagine how this moronic law was ever considered given that they could have just devoted time to that much awaited PERA that is so past due. There was even a talk of lengthening the tenure of our students in schools and now this? What's even more disappointing was when confronted with this DepEd head simply said that it is still upon the prerogative of the teacher if she would ever impose it to class. But the mere fact that students now has more reasons to complain, it also poses a question, why does it need to be a law in the first place?

Links: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/201827/angara-backs-depeds-homework-ban
Image: http://kg.bahay-bahayan.com/

The Influence of Financial Books #4. Keep an Emergency Fund.

Though there is a difference in every individual on how much and till when would this be, for us singles, that amounts to your cost of living for 6 months without work. Someone said 3 months would do but since this is an emergency fund, I might as well do the 6 months mark. This would also be your source for whatever inevitable thing happens-- accidents, medical issues, death of a relative or whatever emergency means to you (puhlease. that cute bag you saw on sale is not an emergency). And when that time comes, no matter how much you spent, you must save back till the last cent to ensure that you have more of it for the next incident.

I'm around 30% of my emergency fund as of this writing and my goal is to be done with it before this year ends. And because this is an amount that I needed to have anytime it is needed, I plan to invest just half of it to RTBs and the other half at my disposal so I can benefit from the interests gained in the tenure of the coupon and still be able to make use of it when something happens (don't want to be disappointed by all the fees that I might get when I withdraw prematurely from the bond). And the interest? Everything would just be invested back in low risk investments once I accumulated enough.

There is also a thing called insurance. But really. An emergency is something urgent. You don't want to be held back by some stupid company who has a gazillion clause so you'd get as little as possible. Have an insurance if you want, but also keep an emergency fund on your own. Not only is it much accessible, it is less paperwork and headache for you.

Image: http://technorati.com/business/finance/article/three-steps-for-creating-an-emergency/

First Investing Ventures

Though it's not about a month of immersing myself into this investing business through reading and guidance from various sources (Ed, Investor Juan, Peter Lynch, Alvin TabaƱag, Larry Gamboa, Colayco, Investopedia, etc.) I have now started to take action to the tune of Mutual Funds and Stocks.

Why Mutual Funds?

I've only read (not done with it yet) Lynch's Beating the street and though he was not discouraging his readers too much, one would notice that he is saddened by too many people engaging themselves in Mutual Funds  than in stocks themselves. If you ask me my impression with MFs are a good investment (with it's risk factors of course), though when I talk about it to friends, I get straight to the point, telling them, 'it's for you who are lazy enough not to do homework'. So why would I even bother? Here are my reasons:

1. The fund is a mix (what I got anyway) of government securities and stocks. I know I can't afford a decent RTB that would give a reasonable return so here's my way of going to that type.

2. The fund is managed by a guy and his analysts that have way more experience than I have. I am so engrossed in getting myself involved in stocks but I have to be realistic here. I have limited resources and means of studying companies. It's imminent that I might stumble upon stocks that would give me nothing but misery. Atleast while I'm trying stocks on my own out I get some investment that really is going somewhere. 

3. This is my 20% of my investing ratio plan (80 high, 20 low). Of course I have a plan. Though it doesn't fall to the category of low risk, for the sake of my investment plan, I'd classify it there while I can't get a decent fixed income government security bond.

4. The power of many. Colayco said something about pooling resources to get a much more fruitful result. It doesn't need a high IQ to derive that by investing with somebody else, you not only make it possible for the fund to grow more (so it can be invested to more vehicles) but it also spreads out the risk. Simply put, we share each other's load.

But why stocks?

For one, you are your own boss. You can invest how much you want on a company you feel and researched that is really promising. You also enjoy the less stress environment of stock picking without people shunning you or getting you out of your fund when you suck. Not only that, you can put money in places no one ever looked at but you realized is a good bagger.

Why not Government Securities?

Come on. We all know how much we would earn in government bonds. And the only way you can get the most out of it is when you have a hefty sum to lend the government in the first place. For instance, there was this couple who put in 200k on RTBs and it's return was 2000+ every quarter for a short period of time. Maybe if you have a 100mil it will make all the difference but since it's obvious that I don't have that amount yet, let's just stick to high yield high risk.

So today (well let's just all imagine that it was September 2010) marks the start of my first baby steps to financial freedom. Maybe in the future I'd have the guts and money to do real estate. But as of now, let us all stick with what we can all enjoy without ever leaving the house. Owwww I can't wait to know how it will be next year!

Secret Recipe: A Tale of Two Visits (09.26.10)

Visit #1 (09-26-10)

I have an open mind when it comes to different tastes of Spaghetti and Tom Yum Spaghetti (200) would be a good competitor against my all time favorite pesto. It has this distinct taste I can't compare to what, with a slight pinch of spiciness I would love to replicate at home. Great for meat lovers and are tired of the red sauce spaghettis.

What I'm not exactly a fan of is how they aren't exactly the best servers. It took a bit long for them to get to me so it really has not made my 1 hour lunch break that awesome anymore.

Visit #2 (12-04-10)

They had a treat this day to encorporate meal sets just like in Red Ribbon. I got their Satay which is just okay. The Black Forest cake, I am not really a fan of ever since but was able to finish anyway. I liked their other cakes but they seriously have to have a lot of them available so I won't have to make do with what they currently have.

Find them at Megamall B, Atrium 2nd Floor.