Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Virtual Office

I can say that I have officially transformed Caffe Firenzo into my own little office. I love how the place is set up. The ordering area is on the ground floor while the main dining area where the comfy seats are is on the mezzanine. Gives me a sense of privacy somehow. The food is nice especially the whole wheat sandwiches. The drinks -- well, I've heard complaints that they taste like cough syrup. But if you know me too well you know that I like gross medicine-tasting drinks. I dunno but I'm weird that way.

Today I had a nice Raspberry Iced Tea (P75):

Tastes like Robitussin mmmmm :P

After an hour I had my all-time favorite Corned Beef Sandwich on whole wheat bread (P60):

Freckin' delicious!

* * * * *

My friends invited me to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Or rather, I invited them. Ok I don't remember lol. Anyway we saw it at the NCCC mall near our house. NCCC is the best place to watch movies in Davao IMO.

The movie was long and dragging but I enjoyed every bit of it. I was simply amazed by the makeup effects that made Cate Blanchett look like a teenage ballerina and eventually into the old woman on her deathbed. Not to mention the effects applied on Brad Pitt, who through time was made to look younger and younger. There was one point in the movie where he looked like his prime when he was just starting out as an actor in the 90's. Wow, I have to applaud the makeup artist. Or the CG artist if he was responsible for it. Or whoever. A guy who sat 2 seats away from me was in total awe that he commented, "Ang gwapo ni Brad Pitt!" (Brad Pitt is so handsome!) Hahaha. And he said that to his girlfriend.

The movie made me reflect on myself. Why do I fuss about my appearance when I know that it will all be gone when I'm old and wrinkly? Why do I try too hard to earn a decent living when I know that I can't take it with me when I vanish from the Earth? Who created the buttons on my shirt? LOL

For now I can't come up with a convincing answer to these questions. But I guess I'm only making the best out of my life. I'd be doing myself an injustice if I allowed myself to be fugly and poor at the same time. Life is a great thing. I'll enjoy it to the fullest. That's why I'm going ziplining this afternoon :P

* * * * *

Sorry for the abrupt ending^^. Let me end this post properly. So I went ziplining yesterday with 11 other people. The surprise of the day was my friend's 50-ish mom tagged along. She turned out to be the bravest among the twelve of us. Talk about living life to the fullest!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Domain! Woot!

Recently I decided to purchase a domain for my blog --!

Please update your bookmarks! If you like my blog, feel free to link to me too. Hehehe.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Chinese Grandfather

Surrounded by the Chinese in Macau

I dunno about you, but my family never celebrates the Chinese New Year, despite us having authentic Chinese roots. Our heritage traces back to my great-great-grandfather Lim Chuan Juna who as a teen left China during the 1800's to try his luck in Mindanao. I found out that he's way way cooler than I thought. He started out as a pearl diver and fisherman in Jolo and later made a living trading pearls. Comparing him to myself -- he easily beats my web development profession 10 to 1 on the awesomeness scale. I mean come on, he owned practically all of Davao City when he got here. He owned ranches, coconut plantations and hectares upon hectares of useless real estate LOL. He was such a big rockstar that he changed his name to Francisco Villa-Abrille. Ok. But he was a nice guy at the same time, coz he freakin' gave away most of the land and left us with nothing! Just kidding. He left us a good amount of commercial land but my family thought that by selling them they were actually being shrewd businessmen.

*Ducks* Yes gramps, they sold everything!

I feel bad though because only 1/16 of gramps is left inside of me. I'm sure that had we met, we'd get along pretty darn well. We're sooooo similar. We're both goodlooking (as proven by the pics above), athletic (I'm a gym bunny, he dived for pearls for crying out loud), enterprising (I make money online, lots of it; He was just a plain filthy rich bastard). If I had a chance to meet someone who's dead, he'd be the first person on my list of most desired dead people to meet. Ok, please don't show up in my room without prior warning!

To my gramps: I apologize for not caring about your country of origin's excuse for a New Year. The non-Chinese one was more exciting.

Gong Hei Fat Choy!

Cei Tenks Bai!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Diet

My friend RJ asked me to email him my diet.

I'm not sure if you'll agree with it but it works for me :D Here it is:

1. Avoid eating too many rice. Half cup for lunch, half cup for dinner, better if brown rice.

2. Drink green tea to speed up metabolism.

3. Avoid eating fatty parts of meat. Go for the lean parts of beef, pork and chicken. Eat any part of fish :P

4. Don't drink sodas -- including diet sodas.

5. Don't drink 'fad' drinks such as Vitamin Water or Gatorade.

6. Drink 100% juice (e.g. orange, grapefruit or pineapple), don't drink artificially sweetened juices.

7. Preferably, drink water. Lots of it.

8. Don't drink frapuccinos or milkshakes or slurpees.

9. Avoid salty foods like potato chips, fries.

10. Secret hehe

11. Eat cheese only sparingly; avoid butter

12. In between meals, if hungry, eat a handful of raisins, prunes or dried cranberries. Fresh fruits like bananas, pomelo, apples, oranges, grapes are also good.

13. Eat something sweet after each meal to lessen cravings (see #12 for examples)

14. Eat dinner early between 6-7pm. Don't eat anything heavy afterwards.

15. Do vigorous cardio (jogging, running or spinning NOT walking) for an hour, 3-4 times a week. If you're working, you may exercise at night. You actually burn more calories.

16. Sleep at least 7 hours. You gain weight if you lack sleep.

17. If you eat chocolate, don't buy white or milk, go for dark. If you don't like dark, don't eat chocolate!

18. Take multivitamins like Centrum. Also take a probiotic supplement (acidophilus/bifidus) and/or an enzyme supplement (check Healthy Options) to aid in digestion. B vitamin supplements help you lose weight but make you feel hungrier. L-carnitine supplements help you burn more fat if you exercise.

19. Don't hesitate to splurge on weekends, but ease up on the rice, bread, sugar and fat intake.

20. Try to keep a diary, journal or blog to record what you've been eating. It makes you more self-conscious about your diet.

Let me know if you have violent reactions!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dos and Don'ts in the Restaurant Business

Restaurants are a key part of my daily diet. I find it exciting to try new types of food and cuisines. That's why I'm often "in the know" when a new restaurant has sprung up in the neighborhood. People call and ask me where to eat and what to eat. It feels good that they find my advice valuable.

With that I've taken note of the most annoying things I find in a restaurant that will make me promise to myself never to come back:

1. Don't offer items on the menu that aren't available. On one occasion, I encountered a menu where most of the items were unavailable. I told the manager why bother giving us the menu? An early warning would have sufficed.

2. Similar to #1, don't take orders for something that isn't available. My family was eating at an Asian Restaurant that was ill-prepared to handle our group. My brother and cousin ordered the same dishes. The spicy pork ribs if I'm not mistaken. Only after 30 minutes did the food start to trickle in. Exasperated to see that all of us were eating except them, they asked what happened to their orders. Turns out that it was not available. Seriously, they were pissed!!

3. Don't send out waiters that don't know a thing about your menu. More often than not, your customers will ask about your food. Two days ago my mom asked a waiter what kind of suka (vinegar) was being used in a salad that we were eating. The waiter scratched his head and said "vinegar sya mam" (it is vinegar). Well, duh mister, my mom didn't ask for a translation!

4. Don't use "lang" (only) in explaining what's inside a dish. In one of my favorite Japanese restaurants, a waiter was attempting to explain what a Shoyu Ramen is. He said in Filipino: "noodles lang sya sir, pati sabaw" (it's only noodles and soup). The worst thing you can do is reduce a dish into something so basic such as noodles and soup. After hearing that, would you still order a Shoyu Ramen? I didn't think so.

5. It's common courtesy to give customers a full or partial refund when something goes awry, like when a waiter spills soup on a customer, or an alien life form is found swimming in the food. Restaurants here rarely honor that practice. These refunds mean a deduction to the manager's and/or staff's salaries. But then again it is the right thing to do.

6. Don't stop customers from taking pictures of their food. The worst sin is to piss off a food blogger. Blogging is a great way to promote your restaurant. Leave them be -- they're not trying to steal your trade secrets. If you read nothing great or nothing at all about your establishment on the Internet, that means only thing. Your restaurant sucks.

7. Having lots of flies, roaches or rats inside your restaurant is never excusable. I was eating at a place that specialized in grilled baby back ribs. The problem was a bunch of fruit flies was hovering above it while I was trying to eat the damn thing. I complained. The manager said "matamis kasi ang sauce nyan" (it's because the sauce is sweet). Lamest. Excuse. Ever.

8. Don't serve cooked food that's older than a day. Odds are that food will taste not as good than if it were newly cooked. Moreover, it could be already spoiled.

9. Use realistic pictures on your menus. Too much bells and whistles in your pictures will leave your customers "underwhelmed" when they see the real thing.

10. Print ample amounts of menus. Count the number of tables in your restaurant. That's the minimum number of menus you should have ready. To be safe, double that.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Awesome Nieces

Times like these, I miss all the people who matter to me. But out of all of them I miss my nieces the most.

They both are the daughters of my brother Dennis who's based in Manila. His family didn't come home to Davao for the holidays because his wife was having pregnancy issues. This bummed out everyone in my clan but it was for the best, I guess. My mom was the most bummed out.

Each of them has her own personality.

Mavis (aka Maria Venice) is the shy and sweet one, but there's another side of her when she's not in the mood. One moment she's adorable and another she's like the queen of the damned lol. But as she got older she's toned down a LOT and now she's a pleasure to be with 24/7. Mavis also has a natural sense of humor which she probably got from me (hmm) and a great love for animals (definitely not from me). She loves to dance like my mom. When she's all grown up I'm sure she'll break a thousand adolescent hearts haha. And I'll be there to break their skulls!

Maddi (aka Maria Danica) is the feisty one. She knows what she wants and makes sure she gets it! Being the second child Maddi follows on her older sister's footsteps. When you first approach her she's extremely shy. But when she sees that Mavis has opened up to you, she'll follow suit. She likes to bully Mavis around because she knows that Mavis won't fight back. Wait till their new baby sister arrives! As you can see Maddi is also quite easy on the eyes. Wow, I can already imagine the headaches coming our way when they hit puberty. :\

Maby, the upcoming third baby, will be born in April this year. I can't wait!

To my three nieces: I love you a lot! Hope to see you in February!! (ok maybe just two of you)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rainy Days

Today is a rainy day in Davao, both literally and figuratively. Literally, the rain hasn't stopped pouring since this morning. The streets didn't flood that badly, fortunately. I drove my Pajero instead of the usual Toyota Vios, in anticipation of stronger rains tonight. Here, when it rains hard, it floods almost instantly. When I'm in my Vios I feel like the car is sinking and it's taking me along with it.

Figuratively, I am having an awful day because my server stopped working and my webhost said there's a chance that no data can be recovered. Worse, no backups were made. I'm kicking myself now for not making any backups, not even one. But I also can't believe that the webhost didn't care enough to back up my files. I mean, I'm paying for a dedicated server and they took no prerogative whatsoever to make backups. One tech support guy whom I've hated from day 1 said "it was out of their control". That's pure bullshit because unless a lightning struck their server farm, everything is within their control to prevent such disasters form happening. Good news is I'm leaving them in a month or so unto greener pastures. Ugh, at the same time I'm also dealing with an advertiser who hasn't paid me for two months. Could this day be rainier? Is 2009 the Year When Andrew's Life Will Suck Ox Balls? Coz it seems headed that way!!

* * * * *

A friend from Manila suddenly called and wanted to meet for dinner. Where will I take her? Hmmm.

* * * * *

Listening to "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire. Nice song but better not sing it in front of prostitutes LOL

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Cheap Style

For several years, my personal style philosophy has been: "If you can get away with it, fake it". You'll be shocked to know that most of my clothes are knockoffs of popular brands :P But people tell me that my clothes look expensive. Whoaaa! What a nice compliment! Props to Structure and Quick Change stores (found at Greenhills Shopping Complex in Manila) for having balls of steel to sell such quality black market clothing without getting caught! Seriously, spending your own money is waaay more difficult and it makes you think twice, thrice, fwice (?) before you let go of it. That's the reason why I've gone cheap on my wardrobe selections.

I like to dress up casually. I hate wearing formal clothes like long-sleeved shirts, barongs, coats and slacks. Ugh. I hate them because for one, the weather here in my country is damn hot. The only place where I like to sweat is inside the gym. Secondly, I don't like formal events. They usually bore the hell out of me. My daily attire is a shirt plus a pair of jeans or cargo shorts.

When I go shopping, I look out for basic crew necks with nice prints. I avoid colors that look awful on me like yellow, light blue and green. I love black shirts because they go with anything. The shirt sleeves have to be 4-5 inches from my elbow and length has to be just below my waist, or else I won't buy them. Gone are the ghetto hip-hop days of oversized shirts and torn jeans lol. I still like my jeans pretty loose. I wear a size 32 although my waist is a 30.

Two days ago I got concerned about using wax on my hair everyday. My Style Sensei says it's fine as long as I wash it off at night. That's the problem. I don't take showers at night and to think I exercise vigorously late in the afternoon! Am I gross?! Answer! Now that I know, I'll be forced to clean up in the evening before I sleep :x I promised to myself to apply wax three times a week tops and wear my hair normally for the rest of the days.

I take good care of my face by washing it with a facial wash that my cousin Gwing gave me for Christmas. I checked it out at Skin Food to see if she was cheaping me out but boy was I NOT disappointed! That place is crazy pricey! Thanks Gwing :P I use a toner afterwards and apply an exfoliating cream from my mom. You can say I'm vain :P It's ok hahaha.

* * * * *

Last night I was talking to a friend over YM about losing weight. He and his group of friends are *trying* to undergo some bootcamp-style diet program that involves eating brown rice, veggies, lean meat and avoiding sugar and carbs altogether. He asks why I'm so conscious about my weight since I'm already thin. I said it's because I'm not young anymore and I carry my dad's genes (he's diabetic). My dad's a good guy but sadly he's doesn't care about his health T_T Next time I'll give him another one of my lectures and hopefully he'll listen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Moral Dilemma

Late last night I met up with my friends Christine (aka Chicklet the bubblegum) and her husband Mac for coffee, 'coffee' being a misnomer because not one of us ordered a thing that had coffee as an ingredient. Yeah, ok.

Chicklet lent me a DVD of the first few second season episodes of the TV show Chuck. And for about ten minutes she couldn't stop gushing about her crush on Chuck. She says Mac can do a great impression of Chuck having a 'flash' if that's the right word. He looks something like this:

Fotunately she likes Chuck Bartkowski, and NOT this jerkoff:

I said why don't they train Chuck to be a spy so he can defend himself? Chicklet agreed, but we sort of realized that that would ruin the premise of the show. It's like Ugly Betty becoming pretty all of the sudden, or like that silly show Prison Break where all of the main characters are not in prison.

* * * * *

After the Chuck talk I suddenly had the urge to tell my friends about an incident at the gym I go to. As I was running at the semi-outdoor track, I saw an uncle of mine with a girl. A girl who isn't his wife. I dunno what to make of it. Are they friends? Or clandestine lovers? I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I wish I never witnessed it because now I carry this burden of whether to tell my aunt or not. My friends say I should shut up until I'm sure the affair is real. So yeah, I'm keeping my mouth shut and not risk putting my family and/or my life in shambles. What do you think? I hope none of my relatives read this lol too late.

* * * * *

Tonight I'm eating at a Japanese restaurant called Tadakuma with my mom and her sister's family. It's a bit on the trendy side but the food's good. They have an old branch across the Central Bank that has an authentic Japanese ambiance which I prefer. Nevertheless the food and prices are the same. Oddly enough, they didn't print a trendier menu to match the trendy branch. They use the same authentic menu that doesn't belong in a restaurant trying to be trendy. Perhaps I'm bitter that they always run out of salmon. :P

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year and Old Stuff to Resolve

The day before New Year's my family and I headed off to the Eden Nature Park where we'll be partying and parting ways with 2008. I was a tad pessimistic about the scenario because 1) we've been doing it for 2 years 2) it was getting boring 3) my cute nieces Mavis and Maddi weren't around 4) the rain was pouring 5) means we'll be stuck in our cottages instead of going fishing or ziplining aka non-boring activities.

(Taken the next day; Failed to catch anything. PHISHING PHAIL!)

The trip was quick. After watching one episode of Gossip Girl on my PSP, we were about 3/4's there. But that doesn't change the gloomy outlook -- it was raining a lot harder in Eden than the city that we left behind. To make matters worse, we were assigned to a tiny 2-bed room that was farthest from all the other rooms where my cousins are staying. I forgot to mention I was with my mom and my brother, both of whom I can't stand because of their heavy snoring. After much grumbling from my mom, we were moved to a much bigger room, one with 4 beds. Ah, good job mom! I also learned that my cuz Ria will stay there too. Ok, that time it was around 4pm and the four of us were becoming restless in our room because of the rain and the lack of things to do. My mom decided to take us to the cafe where there's free wireless Internet and food to eat. On cue, Ria and I took our Nokia N82 phones from our holsters and logged on to our favorite website -- Ria was flustered because her phone couldn't get a decent signal. I, on the other hand, was able to access to site, albeit intermittenly.

I ordered a regular ham and cheese sandwich, while my big brother had himself a club sandwich. Mom and Ria ordered banana fritters. The folks at the cafe got my drink wrong. I specifically asked for a mint iced tea. They gave me a Nestea. I pretended to be in shock after drinking half of it and realize it had no trace of mint in it. They promptly provided me the correct replacement drink. :P

Afterwards we headed back to our storm shelter and waited for another hour before the New Year's mass. I'm not the religious type and I admit I dread going to church. That's why I suggested to my mother that I wait at the cafe to reserve seats for our 25-member clan. My bro and cousin liked my idea and volunteered as well. My mom thought it was a marvelous idea too and allowed us to skip mass.

At that same cafe we were at that afternoon, we were surprised to see the number of people already there and exploring the buffet tables! We left our jackets on our reserved tables to get our plates. There was hardly a line yet which was good because I was already hungry as hell. Ok, in retrospect, I wasn't a fan of the food at Eden, but this year they went above and beyond my expectations. The appetizers were great particularly the toasted bread slices with dried tomatoes. Out of the main entrees, I liked the pasta that had dried tomatoes and olive oil in it (or pesto? I don't remember LOL) For dessert I had a spectacular slice of red velvet cake.

The highlight of the night began when I took out my camera. Camwhoring times!! I'm the official family photographer during important events and that night was hardly an exception. Let the pictures speak for themselves :P

For me, the photosessions were way more exciting than the countdown that happened downstairs. Everyone was going insane! I continued to take pictures because I'm not much of a dancer.

To end my obligatory New Year's post let me jot down a list of things I need to do and change for the year 2009. 2008 was a nice year. 2009 will be a year full of challenges. Good challenges I hope :p

1) I hope to stick to my diet and fitness plan and lose 5 more pounds
2) Remain tobacco-free
3) Blog more!
4) Go bungee jumping in Malaysia or Thailand or Macau or anywhere
5) Be a better friend to my friends
6) Become more sociable and meet more fantastic people online or offline
7) Work harder. I slacked a bit in 2008 because of laziness and Plurk :c
8) Become more financially stable (aka richer)
9) In relation to #8 I should stop being an impulsive shopper and use my credit card less often.
10) By hook or by crook, I'm going Hongkong!!
11) Learn a new skill, perhaps dancing? haha
12) Learn how to take better photos. Does that mean I'm buying a DSLR? We'll see about that!

PS - Did you notice my new layout?! :P