MIBF 2013 Stash (9.15.2013)

I've got less books this time BUT, a big change of game in MIBF this year, it's much rewarding for those who really wanted to find something to read. I've been going every year and to me this is the best yet. More bookstores for novels unlike before that focused on textbooks and kid's stuff. So here's my stash:

Philippine Folk Literature Series (UP)

There are 6 of these and I do love collections but I just can't imagine buying all because these are too thick! The Riddles if I can remember was the thickest and I although it would bring me so much joy having a new collection, I just want to lessen my unread books. Each book costs 700 php.



Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I've read a few books of David Levithan's and this was brought to my attention finding other books of his. This is a collaboration with John Green, writing a specific Will Grayson per chapter. It was a fun to read I finished in a few days. Here's a compilation of my favorite quotes



Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie

I have no concrete idea of the theme of this book but I'm hoping it won't be another Twilight.I was merely enticed by the fact that this is the last collection at NBS so I bought it :-)



The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

I still can't find a complete collection of Unfortunate Events so I've settled on something that looked like it. Looks mysterious and so far I am not disappointed (currently halfway through the 1st one)




Extra

I've bought these memo pads (20 php each) which have funny hilarious quotes on them as Christmas Giveaways. You can never be too early for a Christmas gift!!


Gloomy Day at Sky Ranch (9.8.2013)

There's not a lot of places to go to Tagaytay and it's a shame that even if we live in Cavite, we haven't been to Sky Ranch since it opened. So on one Sunday (I drove most of the way) we went there without actual plans.

View inside the Sky Eye


Entrance Fee is supposed to be 100 pesos but we got a discount for 50 pesos each. Little did I know that everything is just extremely expensive inside. Most of the rides are 150 each!! Imagine if you have tons of kids!



I don't have a liking for rides anymore but I've wanted to experience their so called Sky Eye which rivals the one at MoA. After which I've decided that MoA Eye is more worth the money than this Sky Eye. Not only is it so narrow inside but there's this huge pole in the middle that it's impossible to sit more than 4 average people.



One of the best features of the Sky Ranch is that you are overlooking the small volcano without obstructions and best of all, all facilities are quite new! They also have a large outdoor convention area. I can imagine people getting married on, with guests having a good time with the Sky Ranch's theme park rides.



If you change the color to pinkish, I would imagine a large shrimp :-D


If it's possible, go have lunch elsewhere first since there's only a few small food stops here and one KFC that is open. Maybe in a few months it would be much more packed.



BooQuotes: Will Grayson, Will Grayson






More of it here

Da Vinci Exhibit @ Mind Museum (9.21.2013)

I have no idea why there's two exhibits of Da Vinci this quarter (one at MoA and another at Mind Museum) but we chose to go to MM instead as we haven't been there lately.

We got there a bit late so a full package of a day pass w/ Mind Museum access is not option. We've been inside as well so I don't think we are missing anything. So anyways we got in, and even if the exhibit have been running for quite a while now, there are still a lot of people in.



The exhibit features replicas of Da Vinci's works- ranging from his inventions to his artworks. And unlike most exhibits a lot of the replicas on display are okay to play with.



They also have a 1 hr presentation (looks like it came from History Channel, I'm super sure I've heard that narrator elsewhere) which runs every hour so you may want to catch that to sit a bit. When we came in some chose not to stay but I didn't regret the hour.


For the price of 250, don't expect to see original works, some are even a smaller versions of the original. Heck even the Last Supper is just a projection! But trust me that although none of which are the actual works of Da Vinci, it is still quite impressive and are presented nicely.

The exhibit runs for 3 months and if you have more time to spare, go get the full package. It's entertaining and informative at the same time.

The Road to Becoming a Driver

(pun truly intended!)

In my bucket list is one day experience driving a car and owning one for that matter. Being able to drive is a life skill that opens up too many experiences that is too tempting to resist. But before all the opportunities driving has to offer, there are steps we must do to even become a real driver. Here's our full adventure report:

Step 1: Get a Student Driver's License

Step 2: Enroll for a Driving Class

Before we even apply, we asked around which school we should go. My father insisted that we go to A1 (he studied there) while another office mate who studied earlier recommended us to SMART. I've no idea how we decided that that's the school we should go, but I guess our choice was okay.

My office mate and I decided to enroll for 10 hrs of class (around 5k) and they added us an hour free each. I get to start by Monday (Ai started an hour on that Saturday) in which we go on having turns of 2 hrs each. But before we even start the actual driving, we attended a half day lecture at their office. Driving basics were discussed, most of which I didn't understand that time (can't remember them now unfortunately).

What to expect

You get to drive on the first day. As in. My first day was unlucky though, because the car I was about to use started heating up. The instructor told me we switch places until he gets to pour water on it on the nearest gas station. But instead of it becoming better, it ended up not starting at all. The instructor have done all the skills he have probably learned through years just to get it back to the garage and switch for another car. When we got there it has gotten so over heated they hosed the thing.

Since we have not paid extra, we get to have different cars and instructors each day which needs a lot of getting used to. It may sound awful but it does have it advantages, like learning more with different types of drivers and not getting scared of picking up a car to drive in the future since we are not conditioned to just one type of car.

There's supposed to be another free seminar after the lessons but we forgot taking that. A few weeks later, we went on with applying for a driving license.

Step 3. Driver's License

We went last Friday September 6, 2013 at the LTO East. I heard it's the main LTO branch and we've decided to go there because as instructed by our last driving instructor. We went there before 8 am via taxi. Upon arrival, we've told the guard we're from SMART so he instructed us to head on their booth for assistance. We've filled up the forms given to us (same form as the first time so I've already learned my lesson regarding the incorrect signature box), paid 850 and were formed as one batch. There's probably 5 or 6 of us who were assisted for Medical (which is around 10 minutes worth of walk, I wonder why they don't have one at the compound).

We are very lucky that drug testing is not mandatory anymore (due to DUI) so our medical was fairly quick (100php). Me and my office mate then went back for review. They'd let us choose whether English or in Filipino which also determines what exam we'll get. It took us a long time to get in the exam room because it requires a much bigger batch to complete plus you get unlimited time to take the written exam so it would definitely take time.

I always hate exams and I feel so unprepared even after the review but I realized that my fears are just fears when majority of the exam (multiple choice) is common sense and some signs not on the review are on the wall for us to see. I came out much longer though (I wished I've brought a sign pen for better coverage). There are 40 items and 30 passing. It's unfortunate I didn't know how I fared. I should have checked my paper with SMART earlier :-(

Lies, all Lies

All of our office mates swear that they didn't even take a practical exam and we deed not worry. But lo and behold, we were surprised that we have to!! We came so unprepared, I haven't practiced ever since my last day from driving school. I was hoping to practice prior to our licensing but my father was at work the Sunday prior so it made me so much more worried I forgot how to run a car.


Surprisingly, I didn't forget how to drive (although I made a few mistakes out of panic) but passed anyway. After that, I was told to wait at cashier 13 where my officemate was waiting for me.


Yay License!

They probably make licenses by batch as even if I was scheduled 2nd to the last finish, my card came as soon as the other exam takers who were earlier than me. It took a bit time, but it wasn't as long when we were waiting to be called for exam. We still have time to get to work for a half day yet the area is filled to the brim. Goodluck if you came there late.


Updates

My first driving was the Saturday of that week to Tagaytay. I drove right after my father had filled our car with gas, back home and then to Tagaytay City. My parking is still awful so I was dreadfully scared when at Max's I have to park on a steep downhill  diagonal parking. Either I scratch one of the cars or I go straight to the restaurant. Can't have that so I parked on the side and let my father did it haha! Driving that long was just too exhausting that after that I had my father drive us to Sky Ranch and at my bus stop.

My next drive wasn't as successful though because I just bumped a parked tricycle. I ended up paying 200 for the damages. My father was a bit traumatized by that I think that's why he drove us back home after a quick stop at Robinson's. I did practice with him at our subdivision for a while which made me more confident on driving through parked cars in a not so wide road.


In Conclusion

The first time I held my new shiny license in my hands, I kept on looking at it. I can't believe that I was able to get one and drive a car on my own. It will take a long time for me to be extremely confident in driving a car in 4th gear (I still get scared at that, 3 is my limit haha) and proper parking, but at least I've already learned how to. Now I just need more experience and improve what I learned. See you guys next year on the road!! (wink wink)



TIB: No to Coastal Grand Terminal!




If it weren't for constant fatigue due to more than 4 hours of commute everyday, I wouldn't have had decided to rent. 

If I haven't rented, I may have been in that photo above. 

If I was on the photo above, I may have ranted earlier :-D

I have only seen it on the news and I was saddened at my fellow Caviteños who have to suffer this chaos early in the morning, IN THE RAIN for Pete's sake. They were oblivious on what to do, they may have paid more than they should that day, most of them late and tired and hungry and drenching in sweat and rain. I was lucky to be free of that but it doesn't change how I felt about this so called change.

I understand the need for a new traffic scheme but this is just drastic, careless and anti-commuter. What MMDA thought of as convenience for the Metro, is not so to the mass of people from Cavite who study and work there. I know, I've been there. And I experience it now when I go to and  fro Cavite in Sundays. Imagine Sunday mornings and I have to stand on a bus which is literally empty a few weeks back prior to the ban. Same goes at Sunday noon making it hard for me to commute back. Why is it now you say?

Previously there are a lot of bus lines going to and fro Metro and Cavite.  

Destination Manila we have San Agustin, Erjohn and Almark and random aircon buses near post office (please correct me on that one, I rarely commute to Manila)

Destination EDSA have Jasper Jean, San Agustin (Cubao to Tagaytay line), Saulog (Same route) and random open air buses that dock at Pasay and some more aircon buses by MRT-Taft, there's also Ayala routes that either go via EDSA or Leveriza. 

(I rarely commute to Manila so I would focus on the EDSA route, k?)
  
Since there are a lot of options, you can choose whatever bus you fancy. Let's say I want to go to MoA, I can just ride any bus from the list and get off at Baclaran, hail a taxi or ride one of those yellow shuttles. I can also take any Destination EDSA buses, get off at Harrison, cross via foot bridge, hail a jeep. If I don't know where to get off at Harrison, I can just simply get off at Pasay-Taft, use MRT's foot bridge and get a jeep or taxi from Kabayan Hotel. See how many options there is? To go to Ayala for instance, I have two options whether if my destination is nearer EDSA or if it's nearer the actual Makati CBD. Going to Megamall is full of options too, the easiest involving just one bus ride, or if you're saving money, why not get a Pasay open air bus then ride the MRT. It was amazing how you can mix and match bus/train/taxi rides to get to your destination, which is both convenient and possibly a money saver. 

However, convenience costs a big price: traffic, the exact reason why MMDA pinpoints Cavite buses as one of the reasons to blame. So they came up with a solution, which involved putting up a Terminal, prohibits majority of the buses to go any farther. From there, what we now need to do is get on the bus and go. The problem with this though is that the line is ridiculously long and is not a good translation in real life. Someone even dumbly suggested to mix and match bus, jeep and MRT just to get to Cubao from Cavite and he made it sound so easy. Others even suggested walking to ride any more public transportation. W.T.F. Whoever these guys are have no idea how far the terminal is from MRT, and how far anyone can manage to decently get to EDSA without losing their make-up and temper.


Red box is the edge of Coastal Road, Orange for Baclaran Church (where most buses are btw) and Green for Pasay-Taft. 


Now, how about people going to NAIA? From the Red Box, (left is the Central Terminal, Cavite buses are from the right) the easiest way to go is BEFORE the bus crosses the intersection, you get off immediately and take any taxi or jeep in front of KFC. Not only is it the easiest, but it's the most logical option. But noooo. Ever since the ban, no bus is allowed to let any passenger off EVEN at a STOP sign on the right side and instead can only be dropped off at the terminal. I do agree that dropping off passengers there isn't disciplined, but imagine you're going to NAIA and you're dropped off at the other side of the road WITH 5 pieces of luggage. You will need to cross via this:


Goodluck.


I imagine the intent of MMDA to alleviate whatever traffic ailments the Metro have but you seriously have to think this over. There's just one bus I see that are able to go to EDSA safely without these guys all over them and it's one hell of a ride because everyone, even those who just intend to go to Pasay have no other options but take the bus that's supposedly used to cater those who'd go farther than them just so they won't be inconvenienced by your terminal. And my sample earlier would have been okay if YOU GUYS HAVE ONLY THOUGHT THAT SOME OF US MAY WANT TO GO NAIA. An unloading/loading bay would have been better you know?!! And since the terminal takes too long to even dock off, you'd be forced to walk so far just to get a bus. 


Do you have any idea how far I've zoomed out just so I can draw in those lines?!

Imagine doing this every single day. Imagine doing this in heels and in makeup. Imagine doing this in your best suit. Imagine doing this when you're already late. Imagine doing this when the weather is awful. 

I now believe no one in MMDA who have approved of this commuted to and fro Cavite-Metro Manila AT ALL. 


Other than renting, I can now consider getting a car (excited in getting a license!!) but how about the tons of people who wanted to comfortably reach their destinations? Yes, you've somewhat freed EDSA of our buses but have you ever considered what Caviteños gave up just so you can drive your private cars quicker than before? You should have thought carefully how the transition would affect everyone! You've removed our mode of transportation and you replaced it with what? Buses that queue for too long and that stupid footbridge? You haven't even prepared your signs on your roll out day!!

I don't know how long my fellow Caviteños need to have endure this, but as I know, our hopes for an LRT extension is too far from reality now since we've now lost bidders. Too bad the bus ban came much earlier :-(. It would have helped all of us.




Notes:

Images of maps are from Google Maps.



Juicy Pork at Ginza Bairin (08.03.2013)


It's been a long and overdue makeover for Glorietta (probably the only good thing after the unfateful blast) and one of the changes in their store line up is this Pork Katsu restaurant we have not tried before, Ginza Bairin. While Japanese restaurants most often mean sushi and ramen, here's another restaurant that highlights Pork Katsu on a visit. And speaking of visits, don't wait too long to decide in having a seat down. That precious time will only cost you a seat as they end up full house.



Your eyes are not fooling you. The photo is indeed a bit blurry. I was in a hurry eating!!




There are 3 katsu specials, one with rice, a donburi bowl then as a sandwich. We opted for both Kurobuta Rosu Katsu sets (595 php) which come with miso soup, a bowl of rice, fruit of the day and shredded cabbage, which just like in Yabu, in unlimited servings. You also get sesame seeds and cabbage dressings readily available on the table (see first pic).

At first you'd hear a slight crunch, then the soft pork's juices on your tongue. You won't need to chew much as it is really soft and juicy. It's unfortunate that they only offer a small bowl of rice, I would have asked for another one if it's as unlimited as the cabbage*.

We ordered gyoza (150 php) as well, comes in 5 pcs and stuck with each other. It takes a bit of effort just to get a piece. It's just okay, nothing to be missed.


Another unlimited item is their house tea, but you may have to test it first to know if this is something you would drink. It's not sweet nor bitter and I can't think of anything to compare it with. Maybe it's better if served hot.

Like I've said earlier, the house gets full easy and I appreciate how we were accommodated first before the couple who suddenly wanted to list themselves when they arrived (even though I've been waiting to be listed myself). It's a bit rude if you ask me but I appreciate how the usher have noticed me standing there for a while. This is not to be said to the experience of the guy on the next table who had to make a scene complaining to the manager on how they were bumped further from the list. I don't know about him, but if they're the listed couple who was repetitively called for but showed up ages later, I believe they have no right to complain.

Their menu is just too limited, I don't see myself going there just to try the Sandwich or Donburi. They don't even have lovely desserts that would have completed our meal so the recurrent visits may be far from the future. Loved the pork but hey, you won't have the same meal over and over right?

 

*FYI. Japanese rice is intrinsically expensive in real local Japanese restaurants. Don't be tempted :-D

Le Cupcake Directory

Even though I have a hard time losing excess weight, I can't help but be enticed with any sweet shop I can find. This blog post will forever be updated (unless it goes too long) with the ever growing list of cupcake shops you may want to check out.

1. J. Cuppacakes

Offers a variety of cupcakes and muffins with flavors and designs that are hard to resist. My favorites would have to be Boston Creme and Peanut Butter. Pricing is around 50 php above a piece.



2. Cupcakes by Sonja

Innovation is not much in my opinion BUT they set the bar high on how they make their version of known cupcake flavors. Price is a bit steep going as much as 95 php above so you may have to decide which flavor you would spend that lunch money on. BTW, their Pistachio is amazing.





3. SugarCakes

In front of Tony Moly, this new cupcake contender caught my attention when we went out for lunch. It took a long time though, for me to give in (I have this weird yo yo diet which is practically eating a lot and going guilty after). Prices are 80+

Most of their cakes have flavors that are rampant amongst cupcake makers but the only new one I've seen so far with Blue Velvet. So I got that and their Banana Walnut.



You'd probably notice the wooden spoon if you're paying attention. Unlike most cupcakes where you have to dress it down, this involves you digging in. The bread itself is quite dry so that thick layer of icing on top is in my experience best utilized by mashing it with the bread. Whoala. It's finally amazing to eat. Although with this kind of price though, I may have really good reasons why I'd buy from them again.

4. Khay's Cupcakes

Newly opened at Ayala The District, we got in as soon as I saw it open. We took out our orders (our father is already waiting) and unfortunately the red velvet (for some reason) tumbled out of it's place and was ruined. Pricing is 70 up. They also offer drinks and meals.



I was only able to finish two: the (Banana?) Nutella cupcake that didn't taste anything like Nutella and the Chocolate Compote which is Frosting Queen for all I know. It was too much on top and the actual cake is missing in action. That's how thick the Frosting was.


I haven't lost hope for them yet. Maybe next Sunday I will try new flavors.

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Side note: Oh hey, new updates! :-D
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5. Wicked by Cravings

This is at the Shangri-la new wing, just in front of Kettle.



The flavors are intense. Will be back for more. And I love that they have mini cupcakes so you can try tons of flavors at one time. 



COMS: Ramen at Ikkoryu Fukuoka


On the new East Wing of Shang-EDSA where everything is shiny and new lies a Ramen house that is generating a lot of traffic lately: Ikkoryu Fukouka.




For our lunch we both ordered Ajitama Ramen. It's a bowl of milky soup with a piece of pork and an egg sliced in half to reveal the soft boiled yolk reminiscent of the one at Sentouka. The noodles are sticky and thin and slippery I forgot how to use chopsticks for a while. The soup was good as well, although it made me want to eat more meat :-(. At the end we decided the best way to 'beat the system' (when ordering with a date) was to order a bowl of Chashu serving 3 slices of pork and Ajitama for the egg. This way, you can have 4 slices of pork and a half of egg each :-D. The best part about this plan is that they have the same price of 330 anyway.



We also had their gyoza (150php) which comes in an even number of 6. I particularly liked that it's even because we don't need to justify who gets the last piece. Unlike most gyoza that are steamed, this is both steamed and fried. It kind of diminishes the taste I can't even remember it anymore.

At the end of the meal, I requested for dessert. I got Sea Salt Caramel (100 php). Bf got Ice Cream Shiratama Zenzai (180php). The name is really fancy, although it's just an upgraded version of Shiratama Zenzai (130php) but with ice cream. Although he enjoyed his ice cream, (I tried it but I can't sense where's that Green Tea they talk about), I liked my sea salt caramel best. It's a flavor I've never tried in any ice cream shop and something I would like to come back for. I never thought the combination could even work!

Sea Salt Caramel: What it lacks in looks packs in flavor!


Cold Ice Cream, Red Bean Paste and Hot Mochi Balls


Prices are good. The serving of the ramen can be shared if you wish. And as you can see from their gyoza, you get more with the same price compared from other restaurants. Although the ramen isn't extraordinary, it won't disappoint you for the price. And do try their Sea Salt Caramel!! It's amazing!

Problem Solved: Fast Duplicate Finder

Is your machine filled with duplicate files? Were you in frenzy copying files to and fro different folders and forget where these might have gone? Are you starting to arrange your files but is stuck on the ordeal because of duplicates?



I said yes to all of those and just this free day of mine I decided to put an end to to it. My drives are all filled with duplicates that I have now no idea how to arrange them all. So I went to look for a duplicate finder which is much better than the old one I had which only looked at the similar file names so I ended up checking each picture, the purpose already was defeated.

Fast Duplicate Finder is different, it checks sizes, times and assess how similar the files are. They also provide deletion in batch so all you need to do are a few clicks and you're done.

I only downloaded a free version so there's a few limitations I can work with. Here's a list from their website:


Download your free version on this link below:

http://www.mindgems.com/products/Fast-Duplicate-File-Finder/Fast-Duplicate-File-Finder-Download.htm



TH: JNBM Paper Clay Art


Been to Franchise Expo and was enticed by this Paper Clay Art. For those who know me personally, I truly enjoy handicrafts. I've seen a sister of mine having a similar project back in school and wanted to try it on my own.






Paper Clay Art involves colored mashed paper where you apply on a design (white space) through the use of sticks. It ought to stick on the board with proper application for as long as it's moist.


It was easy to do but became tricky when the pattern started to be so tiny to apply paper clay. I was able to do a lot for 2 days after that and took longer for the finishing touches.

Here's my finished product after a week (not a full week, some days I don't work on it)


For more of these, visit their branch at GF of Market! Market! You can also visit their Facebook page here.



TME: Getting a Student Driver's LIcense (7.26.13)

This is it! I've finally initiated to get a Student Driver's License after a long long long time of procrastinating. We decided to do it on a Friday, on our lunch time. Here's the steps we undertook:

1. At Window 1 we asked for a form to be filled up.

2. Our filled forms are passed to Window 1. I mistook signing on the bottom left part of the form to which (luckily) the guy at the counter was in good mood to simply white corrected the error and didn't get cross. I think the smiling worked because he was half serious half smiley at me telling me to stop being giggly on apologizing and not mess up again.

3. Window 2 called us and incriminated what we wrote, to the conversion of our height and weight, up to our addresses. Again, another mishap, I wrote the Street of our house first before the numbers. The guy on this counter is also friendly, although for a moment there I felt how condescending he was in "interrogating" us. We were given a piece of paper of where to go next, but only after we were called.

4. Photo was next, the same guy from #3. It was another quick step and waited for a few minutes for step 5.

5. Payment, costs 317.63 (although you can't possibly give exact 63 cents so you have to shell out 318. I wonder where the 37 cents went*). This is also the window that gives you your receipt and the student driver's license.

The entire stage only took less than an hour, (our taxi ride back to work took even longer) and if you have someone with you, you won't even notice the time.

For those who wanted to get their license at LTO Pasig, just hail a taxi to Ynares Gym (or if you wish you can commute, but I've no idea how), have it drop you off inside LTO grounds and you're set.

Don't forget to:

a.) Bring a photocopy of an ID with your Birthday. Not sure if other IDs are allowed, but to be safe, bring along a Government ID.
b.) Bring PHP 318
c.) Bring your TIN number
d.) Know your height and weight in CM. They do allow other conversions but you really must know those stats because you'll never know how the guy on the counter will react with that not filled up.
e.) Pen

Now off to driving classes this Monday yay!


You don't expect me to put my details here don't you? :-D



Just a quick thought: If they process 10 (a very conservative approximation) student licenses everyday a month (let's assume 365 days) so it's .37 * 10 * 365 = 1350.5. I wonder how they close their books if they have this not accounted for. Hmm...