Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Thoughts on the Papal Visit 2015

Pope Francis is visiting the Philippines in January 2015. During this time special non-working holidays have been declared in Metro Manila from basically January 15 - 19, 2015.

I don't know if it occurred to anyone, but for most employees special non-working holidays means no work, no pay. That's what the government says, unless your company has a more beneficial collective bargaining agreement. So that's basically three days of salary people will be missing out.

So ask yourselves this, would you rather have five straight days of rest with no compensation or three days of work with salary? I know I'd pick the latter.

Besides, it's not as if we as a country are 100% Roman Catholic. What about all our countrymen who have different beliefs?

I'm Roman Catholic, and I'd rather have those three work days, specially since it's only January. We just came from the holiday season and already we're getting another five days of no work? Pass. Maybe if the Pope was visiting sometime in the middle of the year, I wouldn't mind. But right now, I'm ready to work, and work hard. I don't really want the long holiday to disrupt my rhythm.

This is also bad for business owners. Because if they tell their employees to go to work, they have to pay them the overtime pay. Good for employees, bad for business owners. See it from both sides of the coin.

Look, i'm not saying I'm against the Pope's visit. I appreciate the fact that he's coming over, actually. What I'm not in favor of is the long, unpaid, holiday coming up.

Maybe if they declared the Pope's visit as regular holidays, then I wouldn't mind.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Trusty Rav4

297/365 - Car Wash for a Cause
An old photo of the Rav4 getting a car wash
I recently had a discussion with a friend about mods I'd do to a dream car. He then asked me what my budget was, and I honestly replied, "None." It was a dream car, and for now it will remain that way. Then I told him if I did have a budget I would most likely spend it to upgrade my trusty Rav4.

The Rav4 still belongs to my mom, as I love to reiterate. However it is technically assigned to me since I use it almost all the time.

Anyway you can guess what this article will be about. Mods to the Rav4. I just gave this an oil change with a BG oil change package that improved consumption by 1km/L. Also the Rav4 was recently fixed for all the issues found during the 45-point check-up it got. So now, in order of priority if I had the money, are the mods I'd do.

Headlights. Again I want to try the all-weather headlights and fog lamps. Plus I did some research online and found a way I might be able to restore the headlights to near brand new look without having to buy a new set of headlights. Unless I decide to buy new fixtures.

Sounds. A new head unit and maybe upgrade the speakers. Nothing too fancy. If I can mount a small but effective sub-woofer that won't eat up too much space I might do that also.

Tint. The car still has no tint. I just need a decent clear tint that can keep the car cool if I am travelling during the daytime.

Rims. I still wish I can get the RS Watanabe looking rims. If not possible I wouldn't mind just getting better looking and lighter rims to improve fuel economy.

Interior decor. I currently work for a company that imports Brembo aftermarket brakes and Sabelt racing gear, to name a few. I plan on getting a few "luxury" items for the car interior. Harness pads for the seat belts and a little something crazy I plan on doing. Plus maybe pedals and footrests, even if the car is an automatic.

Brembo brake pads and discs. This is more of a practical luxury item since the aftermarket pads and discs are built as good as, if not better than OEM discs and pads.

Lowering springs and sports suspension. I want to see how good the Rav4 can handle. And I don't want it too low. Just around 1.5 inches or so.

So you must be wondering why I'm putting Sabelt and Brembo among the last. The answer is simple, the top three mods I've wanted for the longest time. The others are not as crucial for now. Plus these things do cost money, so I have to prioritize the more important details first.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

On CM Punk

Today I just saw on the internet that former WWE Superstar CM Punk has signed with UFC.

Just a few days ago I was finally able to listen to the interview Punk did with Colt Cabana. After seeing the events unfold I now will not be surprised should CM Punk return to the WWE someday.

Why? Brock Lesnar. He's basically following Brock Lesnar's footsteps. I remember he was saying he had the opportunity to get some personal sponsors during his time with the WWE but was not allowed to. However he did also say in the podcast that when Brock returned he had sponsors on his ring gear because he had already signed those commitments before he returned to the squared circle. So in the future I won't be surprised if he returns to the WWE with his personal sponsors in a contract similar to what Brock, or The Rock, has.

Now I will admit that CM Punk is not Brock Lesnar. He has his own motivations for leaving the WWE and trying out the UFC. And as a big fan of his, I do wish him the best. I want him to be successful. That doesn't mean he has to win every match in the UFC, but I want him to be a very capable MMA fighter. And I want him to have an MMA match with the Green Ranger.

So best of luck, Mr. Phillip Jack "CM Punk" Brooks. I wish you success in all your endeavors. And I cannot wait to watch your first match in the UFC.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014


The past few weeks have been draining for me. Mentally, physically, emotionally.

Once again I feel myself slipping into negativity. My cup of optimism is nearly empty. But now I know better.

I am still permitting myself to "slip." Not because I have no self-control, but because I know it is part of my healing process. I also know that I should tackle my defeatist attitude head on.

That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm no longer just wallowing in my sadness. I'm looking for things to focus on so I can move on faster from it.

I guess I have grown up.


ps I'm not that depressed. But I am drained. I'd rather not post about why I am. I just am.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The BMW E34 Dream

Ever since I started working in an automotive-related field, my knowledge, curiosity, and love of cars has grown leaps and bounds. I know more. I realize there is more to know. And I want to know more.

My taste has also changed greatly.

I've started to grow fond of "classic" European cars, specifically the BMW E30 3-series, and quite recently the E34 5-series.

There's something about the shape of both cars that I like. For the E30s I like the coupes (specifically the non-M3 coupes) and wagons. I like the E34 sedans and wagons. And because I love to daydream, I've thought of ways to modify the said cars. Tonight I will ramble about the E34.

Recently I was browsing OLX and I saw a manual E34 525i with an M20 engine. According to my colleague Alvin, the M20 engined E34s are the earlier models. Anyway, Alvin also has an E34 that he has given some aesthetic modifications. Well the E34 I saw was the same color, and I was joking him that if I could afford it I would buy it, give it the same exterior mods and park beside him. But that's another story.

Why an E34 all of a sudden? Simple reason: it's technically a family car, but you can give it enough mods to make it a bit more sporty. Definitely more practical as a family car than the Subaru WRX STi I also want, and not as wild as the Subaru Forester STi that I also like.

So here's a quick rundown of the stuff I'd do to an E34 should I have the opportunity to buy and modify one.

Looks-wise I would give it RS Watanabe F8-Type 17" rims. I'd give it a subtle ducktail spoiler. To continue the JDM styling, I would install tsurikawas  for the front passenger and rear passenger grab handles. I would also install JDM-style fender flares, because I've been big on JDM styling recently. Don't ask me why.

Regarding suspension and brakes, I'd try to keep the ride height stock, but go for stiffer suspension. Preferably adjustable coilovers if it was available. For the brakes I would replace the front brakes with a Brembo Gran Turismo big brake kit.

On to the electrical stuff, I'd install a good, modern sound system for the car. I would upgrade the headlights to projector headlights and I would use all-weather bulbs. I'd also install fog lamps. Finally I'd try to install a hidden ignition kill-switch as a safety feature to prevent unwanted car theft.

As for the engine, since this is all just a big dream, I'd turbo the M20. Then maybe install a fuel-starvation kit and an oil-starvation kit. Just in case the E34 suddenly gets invited to a track day. Again, this is all a big dream (unless I win the lottery).

Well, there you have it. At least now I'm not blogging about VW Bajas anymore.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Slow November

The end of November is near, and I've only got one blog post up. Much as I'd want to have at least three or four posts a month, I do realize that quality is more important than quantity, and I don't really have anything to post about.

Maybe I should try to do another Project 365. See what happens if I take a photo and post a blog about it everyday. Or at least weekly.

To be honest, there really is nothing to blog about. Or nothing I want to share with the world. I've gone back to my hermit mode, keeping to myself online. And that's the way I like it.

With all the social media faux pas committed by people nowadays it does seem prudent to just shut up.


Sunday, November 09, 2014


November 2014 has arrived.

I have nothing to blog. I really want to write, but somehow I don't know what to write about.

It's all mostly car posts in my head. That or a sad point-of-view of what's going on in the Philippines (hint: thanks to talangka/crab mentality I think we're going down the drain).

I'd like to believe one person can make a difference, and I do try to make a positive contribution, but as with crabs in real life, others drag me down. I won't point to anyone in particular because there is no one in particular. Environment forces my hand.

I want to rant more, but I'll stop here. I don't want to write about something I have little control over. Maybe I'll just write a "Top three cars for under a million" article soon.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Amateur Review - Final Fantasy VI for iOS

A few days ago I decided to purchase Final Fantasy VI for iOS. I had played the original US version, Final Fantasy III, on my neighbor's Super Nintendo and I never got a chance to finish this game. So when I had some spare funds available I decided to buy this app for my iPad 2.

Instead of starting with the usual stuff like what's great with the app, I will start with the things that changed, and things I don't really like so far. Here we go.

First off, movement controls weren't translated well to iOS. That's because I don't have an external controller, and I have no plans of getting one. The default 8-axis controls were hard to use because I have a fat thumb. I switched to the 4-axis controller, and things improved somewhat.

What's annoying with the movement controls is anywhere you tap on the iPad that's where the center pops up, so if I place my thumb near the lower left corner, the left and down axis is usually unavailable. If you ask me I would have fixed the control stick in a specific place so that you don't start accidentally moving in another direction if you accidentally reset the position of the controls.
Town Scene with "Control Stick"
See that "control stick" and how clunky it is?

World Map with "Control Stick"
Yep, still annoying.

The battle UI is also an issue for me, as some buttons are spaced all over the screen. The back button changes location depending on the attack or spell selected. The "select all" when casting magic was almost hidden from my view the first time I used magic. And scrolling through the various moves a character can do in combat is sometimes clunky. Targeting is also an issue when I try tapping on the opponent instead of scrolling through their names. I tap on an opponent and another opponent gets targeted. Annoying but I can live with it. Perhaps this game will translate better on iPad Minis, although I can't afford to prove this theory right because iPad minis are goddamned expensive.
FFVI Fight Scene
Buttons are scattered across the screen.

The names of a lot of spells, attacks, and others have changed as well. Instead of the classic "Cure 1" to "Cure 3" names, it's now "Cure" and "Cura." I haven't unlocked level 3 cure yet, but I'm guessing it's something like "Curaga" if it's anything like the newer Final Fantasy games. I guess they were standardizing to the more modern spell names found in, if I remember right, Final Fantasy VII onwards.
Renamed Spells
It used to be "Cure 1," "Cure 2," and "Cure 3."

Another name change was Cyan's Swordtech, now known as "Bushido." The moves now have new names too. Sabin's Blitz attacks also have new names, or at least "Aura Blast" is now known as "Aura Cannon."

The sprite graphics have been updated as well, though if you ask me I would have preferred the original sprites used in the SNES version. I do see some inconsistencies with the art, because some enemies don't look as sharp as the newer sprites.
In-game Cut Scene
Portraits and sprites were redone, the environment looks like the original.

So far those are the only complaints I have. Now let's talk about the things I like about the game. Three things, actually.

Number one, it's a nostalgia trip. Like I said, I first played this game on SNES. We even customized the character names to our names, and I got Setzer and Shadow. Now I'm just keeping the names default. And I can still remember some of the hidden passages in the game.

Number two is the music. It's still the same music, and I'm glad they didn't do any revisions to the original sound. I love the midi style music.

Number three is the art. During my first job an officemate of mine introduced me to the art of Yoshitaka Amano, who did concept art for FFVI. Seeing the characters and their portraits again made me appreciate Amano's art even more.

So in closing, is Final Fantasy VI for iOS worth the USD15.99? Yes, definitely. For someone like me who played the original game and who hasn't finished it yet, I think it's a great purchase. I can play this game anytime on a very portable system, plus the storyline is so well written that you won't really be able to finish this game in a short time, and that's not including grinding levels.

For those in my age group who've played this before, get it for the nostalgia trip. For those who have never played this, get it. You'll be surprised how an excellent story trumps the best graphics anytime. And that's why I love Final Fantasy VI (and Fallout 1 and 2) because the story gets you involved.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Thinking Small (House,Or Tiny House)

I've long been fascinated with small and tiny houses. I don't even know what makes a house a small house and what makes a house a tiny house. What I do know is that I am fascinated by how they are designed and how people live in them. Let me explain.

I recently watched the first episode of Tiny House Nation and I was amazed at how they managed to fit a family of three into the relatively small house. It was inspiring to see how they managed to create a sleeping area for the couple's child and include a loft play area above it. It just showed me what you can do with a small amount of space and a lot of creativity.

I also like how efficient the designs are of small and tiny houses. Everything has a function in the house. One set of cubby holes here could also serve as a stepladder to get to higher cabinets. Or a wall mounted board of wood folds down and transforms into a table. Or the wicker stools you sit on double up as cylindrical storage baskets. There is no wasted space.

And these houses aren't just efficient in design, they are also energy efficient, requiring less amounts of energy for lighting, cooling, and heating purposes. You need less bulbs to fully light up the house, and you won't be taxing the air conditioning unit on a hot summer day since the rooms will cool down faster.

Another reason why I am fascinated with small houses is the lifestyle involved. I've noticed in the house we're living in there are three to four rooms currently being barely used. The living room / main dining room is usually empty. I use our main dining table as my laptop station and my daughter plays in the living room, but that's it. No one really uses the rooms for their purpose, and we rarely entertain guests. My old bedroom has become a temporary storage room until Martina is big enough to move in. So technically there is a huge amount of space we haven't maximized at home.

If you noticed what I wrote in the paragraph above, you'll realize we have tons of unused and unsorted stuff lying around the house, gathering dust. I'll admit I'm a hoarder, and a lot of those things are mine. In comes my theory that the bigger the house you have the more space you have to put junk in. Also, if I could have one week to sort through all my stuff and sell, donate, or throw away things I don't use I'm guessing this house will be a lot more spacious.

On a side note, the closest thing to a small or tiny house in the Philippines would be to purchase a condominium unit. Most middle class condos today average around 30 square meters for a one bedroom unit. That would be your typical tiny house, except more expensive.

Living in a small house is a big lifestyle change, and it won't work out if the person who will move is not open to change and not open to a simpler lifestyle. I honestly cannot say if I can survive in a small house, but I am willing to try if I could afford it. Perhaps that change in lifestyle and mentality will work wonders with my attitude.

Honestly I think a full kitchen, a work space for both Maica and I, a flatscreen TV with a Playstation 3 (or 4) and cable access, and internet access are the basics my family would need to live in a tiny house. I honestly wish Maica, Martina, and I could try this out. Who knows, it might even make us closer both physically and emotionally.


Saturday, October 11, 2014


This is the nth time this year I've gotten sick. The scary part is it's happening more frequently than before. I've got a couple of theories as to why, but I'd rather not discuss it here.

I am at home now, trying to recover from my annual tonsillitis flare up. I thought I could brave through it yesterday at work, but things took a turn for the worse and I had to take yesterday afternoon and today off.

I guess I have to start eating healthy and maybe start losing all the weight I've gained back, because this is not good for me. Even my dad noticed I keep getting sick lately.

And it's not just tonsillitis. I've had migraines, dizzy spells, fever. Things that never bothered me before.

Maybe it's part stress-related, maybe it's part six-day work week. I need to time for my body to rest. It's not in the best shape, so pushing it hard isn't really helping it either.

I'm just glad my boss is very understanding.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Subaru XV

Yesterday I was able to drive a Subaru XV. The shop was full and we had to move some employee (and boss) cars and I was handed the keys to the XV. Now, I've always been curious about the car, and I was sort of anticipating the opportunity to try it out.

The inside is nice. Very high-tech looking, with plenty cubbyholes and cup holders. The instrument cluster had the usual speedo and tach, and there was a center mounted multi-function display that I never bothered to explore. Hey, it wasn't my car and I wasn't taking it for a test drive.

Oh, and paddle shifters.

As with most cars today though, you really can't see the end of the hood so I just had to be a little extra careful with clearance since I wasn't familiar with the car yet.

Driving it was interesting, it was responsive and well-behaved. I guess because I was usually going around 30kph looking for a vacant parking slot. But it seemed to be a decent ride. Not bumpy, not stiff, just right.

Anyway, I just posted my latest update of top five family cars. Well I think this one bumps the Suzuki SX4 off the list and takes the fifth spot. The Subaru XV 2.0i is priced at Php1,298,000.00 and the 2.0i Premium is at Php1,478,000.00. I have no idea what's different between the two since their local website doesn't say. That or I haven't found it yet.


Thursday, October 02, 2014

Family Car Wishlist Update

It's been a while since I posted an update of the top family cars I'd want. Well, here goes a new set. As for my category for choosing them, it's about practicality, fuel-efficiency, bang-for-buck, and aesthetics. I'm also giving special consideration to ride height, since I've experienced a couple of flash floods driving around the metro again.

So here we go for the nth time...

  1. Kia Soul 1.6L CRDI A/T (SRP Php1,020,000.00)- A new ride takes my top spot, and rightfully so. A bit pricey at over Php1M, but it's a five-seater with decent ride height and boot space. The current version is also a diesel engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission, so this will hopefully be a fuel-efficient car. It looks nice too, but it might look too dated in the future. Or look too much like a car for young folks instead of a mid-30's family man.
  2. Toyota Innova 2.5 E Diesel A/T (SRP Php1,062,000.00) - Still hanging in my top list of family cars. This one stays because of the space inside, including the third row, and because Toyota. I'm not too fond of the latest Innova's look, but aside from that it's still the practical family car you can rely on. Unless I'm wrong and the myth about Toyotas being nigh indestructible is all wrong.
  3. Ford Everest 2.5L 4X2 XLT A/T (SRP Php1,390,000.00)- This comes in at number three because of my boss. I've ridden and even driven on occasion his old Everest and am amazed at how practical, fuel efficient, and decent it is. We've used it to haul almost anything related to work, and it just keeps going and going no matter how heavily loaded it is. Biggest downside is the price. So far it's the priciest of the bunch.
  4. Honda Jazz 1.5 V CVT (SRP Php808,000.00) - The smallest of the bunch, I didn't bother to choose the higher end models despite the lack of fog lamps. Besides, the Php100k you save from choosing V model you can probably use to add foglamps either from the dealer or from an aftermarket source. I am still impressed with the Jazz's folding seats and the variations you can do to maximize the space inside the car. However this would suffer in flash floods, hence the drop to fourth.
  5. Suzuki SX4 Crossover A/T (SRP Php899,000.00) - This rounds out my top five family cars I'd want. Similar to the Jazz, I'd want this because of the price, looks, and space inside. The ride height seems higher than the Jazz so this might be able to wade slightly deeper floods. The Jazz just gets higher consideration because Honda.
And there you go. The latest update to my top five family cars. You'll notice I'm not even going for the highest spec among them, despite the fact that usually only the higher spec cars get the fog lamps.
Why am I so obsessed with fog lamps? Because I need them at night for better visibility. Considering the price difference between vehicles with and without fog lamps, I'd rather go for the ones without and use the savings to buy aftermarket fog lamps and other accessories I'd need for the ride.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bum Anniversary

It's been a little over a year since I left the game development company I used to work for. After I left I spent about two months as an unemployed bum. Why?

I couldn't find work. Almost all the companies I applied for either rejected me or never got back in touch. And it was devastating for me. It was a very dark time in my life, not the darkest though.

Sad to say I have a bad feeling I'm repeating some mistakes I've made in the past now. I'm still letting my negativity get the best of me, specially these past few weeks. I'd rather not bring it out in the open for now, but I have been battling my negativity a lot.

So I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same? I have no idea. Maybe I'm just reverting to my old mindset. I'm trying my best not to spiral back into all the negative experiences. Maybe I need to see a shrink.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Moments of Introspection

I've been doing a lot of introspection lately, and I realized my priorities in life have changed. I would say for the better, yes. This might be a long and boring post, but I feel the need to get this off of my chest.

My priorities before were basically 1) Money 2) Myself and 3) Family. It used to be I was after a bigger salary so that I could provide not only for myself, but for my family. I was always gunning for a bigger paycheck, and sadly that left me in a "dangling carrot" scenario, as I liked to call it.

I did a lot of things that were suggested to me in my evals, not because I knew it would help me as a person, but because I thought it would help get me that bigger paycheck. I was bending over backwards (in my mind at least) doing things and changing stuff about myself that I wasn't totally willing to change and I think it made me lose touch of what was really important.

I blogged about this before, but I'm too lazy to look for that post. I was willing to risk my safety for a few hundred Philippine Pesos. Long story short, a big, bad storm was about to hit Metro Manila and I didn't want to under-time so I could go home safely. Until my mom convinced me to leave before usual work hours were over.

The funny thing was, after I left to go home that day most of the people in the office followed my lead.

I was so busy gunning for a bigger paycheck, and even ignoring my own personal safety, for a few Pesos. Was that right? No. Eventually I burned out. I got frustrated at work, and it led to me leaving my old job without a back-up plan. Basically I was jobless for a little over two months after that. Did I hit rock bottom? I don't think so. It did help me realize how skewed my priorities were.

Now my priorities are 1) Myself 2) Family and 3) Money. What changed? I realized the value of time and money. And I believe that taking my current job helped me realize that.

I have a smaller salary now compared to before, and because of that I have learned the value of money, and I have learned to appreciate it more.

I work six days a week now, and thanks to this I now value and appreciate time more than ever.

It's interesting that I had to have a change of careers to have a change of perspective. To be honest, I think it's also because of my new work environment that let to these changes. Yes I still have my faults, and they still manifest a lot. Overall, though, I have seen my changes. And I do feel that now, more than ever, I am prepared to handle whatever life throws at me.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Confessions of a Car Nut

Traced and Riced Ferrari 512bb
Traced 512bb, with fender flare mods by yours truly
I have a confession to make. I am a ricer.

I like the fender flares. The wide stance. There are cars with huge spoilers that I appreciate. Call me weird. Call me an artist. There are certain cars that look good riced out.

However I don't believe it stops at looks. If you want to make your car look fast, you'd better make sure it can go fast too. And stop great. And handle perfectly.

And while I would prefer to drive a sleeper car, meaning a normal looking car that has amazing performance, I still can appreciate those tricked out rides.

I have a confession to make. I never was a Ferrari road car fan.

I liked them. When I was young it was the Testarossa. Then it became the 360 Modena. That's it. I could identify most Ferraris, but I never was a big fan of the cars.

Until Gran Turismo 5.

See, I got a Ferrari 512bb in GT5. Purchased it to race in a few of the series. Similar to what happened to me in Gran Turismo 2, where I fell in love with the Ford GT40, I eventually fell for the 512bb too.

As I grow older, I guess my tastes are starting to develop more, and mix too. See what I drew above? A Ferrari 512bb that I traced from a reference picture, THEN I added fender flares and a wider stance. Sort of like east meets west. The 512bb by itself looks great, but I just think how cool it would be if it had fender flares.

And yes, if I were to be given the chance to own ANY Ferrari, it would be the 512bb. Over the F40. Over the Enzo. Over the LaFerrari. Over the 250 GTO. Or I'd get any Ferrari and sell it so I could buy a 512 and modify that car.

I can dream, can't I?


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Amateur Review: Tonkatsuya Japanese Cuisine

We have work in AutoPerformance on Saturdays. Since yesterday was a relatively slow and good day, my officemate Jeremy suggested we finally try out that katsu place our bosses were telling us about. So we did. With our bosses too.

Tonkatsuya is a simple restaurant located in the lower ground floor of Palm Tower B. Basic directions to get there? If you're on Chino Roces coming from Shopwise, turn right at Estrella St. and turn left at the first corner. Palm Tower is the cluster of condominiums on your right. At the second building building look for the stairs leading down, then turn right. Or you can ask the security guards there where the Japanese restaurant is. I have no idea where you can park, since we just walked. I'm guessing along the street.

Tonkatsuya Menu
Tonkatsuya's address is on their menu
I ordered their hirekatsu curry. Hirekatsu because I prefer lean pork over the fatty pork, not only for health reasons but also because I just don't like fat (even if I am fat).

Tonkatsuya's Hirekatsu Curry
This is their hirekatsu curry
How was the hirekatsu curry? It was good. The meat was lean and tender. The curry sauce had a hidden spicy kick that I like. And similar to Shinjuku's katsu curry, the curry sauce had bits of tender meat. It was very filling, and even the shredded cabbage was good.

My biggest (and only) complaint was the katsu portion seems small. I know this was cheaper than other usual katsu places, but I just found the meat to be a bit lacking.

Can I compare it to your typical katsu franchises like Saboten and Yabu? No, I don't think it would be fair. Tonkatsuya's hirekatsu curry was good in it's own right. And I definitely enjoyed it.

How about the price? It was cheap. My meal cost me Php250.00. Add in canned sodas for an extra Php30.00 (I did not, though, the cold tea was great) and you get a relatively affordable place to grab a bite.

Ambiance? It's simple, nothing too expensive feeling. There was the usual bookshelf filled with various issues of manga. Oh, I forgot to mention a very important detail. There were plenty of Japanese patrons. The best way to find out if a Japanese restaurant is good is if Japanese eat there.

Would I eat at Tonatsuya again? Most definitely. I wouldn't mind eating there once a month or so, budget willing. The food was good, the service was fast, and again, Japanese people were eating there.

Would I recommend the place to others? Sure. Try it out. Keep an open mind, and an empty stomach and you may just be as pleasantly surprised as me.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Rav4 Renovations

The Wrath of Typhoon Glenda
This happened on July 16, 2014.
Last July 16, 2014 Typhoon Glenda (internationally called Rammasun) caused a portion of a tree to fall on the hood of the Rav4. It has since been repaired, but the car needs more work done. I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

Most important are the headlights. I may have them sanded to clear the yellowing on the plastic. I'm also saving up a good amount of money to upgrade the headlights and fog lamps to more powerful, all-weather bulbs. I've driven once or twice lately in the dark during rains, and the headlights aren't really up to it anymore. Better illumination will help.

Also a leak has developed on the driver's side of the car. Whenever it rains the driver side carpet gets wet. I haven't been able to find the source of the leak but I'm hoping once I do find the time to look for it we can find a way to seal that leak.

Back to the hood, while it has been repaired I have yet to have it brought back to the shop that did it for sanding. So the hood still looks rough, but hopefully soon that problem will be solved.

The sound system is also an issue. I need a new head unit, basically. And maybe a new antenna.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Welcome the "Ber" Months

September is here.

I won't be surprised to hear Christmas Carols when I go to malls. I won't be surprised if I see a Christmas countdown on most local morning shows. That's just the way things are in the Philippines.

I'm currently listening to Billy Idol - Happy Holidays album. I guess I'm just prepping myself for the inevitable.

Not that it's a bad thing. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Traffic will get worse, for sure. Finding decent parking in malls during weekends will automatically get bad too, for some unknown reason.

Let's focus on the good things, though. From a religious point-of-view, we'll be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ again. It's the time for reunions and catching up with all our friends.

It also signals the last quarter of the year is near. Another year done, another year of personal growth and experiences that lead me on my journey of life. I have learned a lot about a lot of things since last year. And for those things, I am very grateful.

Here's the thing though, I am a negative person. I complain a lot about even the most mundane things. That's just the way I am. However, over the past year I have noticed that I am more aware of the good things around me. I see more good things, I see more beauty around me. I'm more thankful than before, and I am also a bit more optimistic than before.

I really can't remove that part of me that is a negative person / complainer. That's already in me. I just know now how to control that part better, specially around other people.

I still slip once in a while, but not as often and as bad as before. Because of that, I feel like I've improved a lot.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I spent the last few days with my wife, daughter, and my parents in a resort located in Panglao Island in Bohol.

I have no problem with this. I enjoy getting darker and I am very proud of my dark brown tan. So proud, in fact, that I usually wear a watch so I have an area around my arm where I can see what my skin color would be without getting sun-kissed.

However there is one big downside to just using SPF 4 as a sun tan lotion — the sunburn. It isn't as bad as previous sunburns, where the slightest contact of the burnt skin produces pain. No, the problem now is the itch. It's not as bad as some sunburn itches I read online, but man is it bad. I keep scratching but the itch won't stop. Thank goodness it's only located in small areas.

So damn annoying, yet the results are so damn worth it.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

On Dream Cars

It's probably because of my current work, but right now the latest dream car that I want is a heavily modified Subaru BRZ. Yes, not the Toyota 86, the BRZ. Not just any BRZ, though, I want it with a Rocket Bunny widebody kit.

There are times when I do realize a couple of things about this new want-car of mine. And these things are:

  1. I don't drive fast. I try to follow the speed limit in real life, and I generally try not to drive like your typical Filipino driver. This is a good thing because why would I want to drive like a dick just because I've got a fast looking car? I can always join a car club and join their track days, which leads me to...
  2. I have no track experience at all. I've been to BRZ and CIS, but I've never driven around the track. I would love to learn how to drive around a track, but for now I'm a track day virgin.
  3. I've always wanted to do a road trip around the Philippines, cruising highways and discovering the beauty of this country. The BRZ doesn't really feel like a car to cruise around in. Plus if the roads outside of Metro Manila are bad, I'm guessing it's going to cause problems with a car that low.
What am I trying to say here? Basically it means I still want a Beetle Baja. No matter how enamored I get of fast cars, stanced cars, drift cars, and rice rockets, I always end up wanting the Baja Bug the most.

And if I had the budget to purchase and maintain a BRZ? Chances are I'd probably just use that budget to get a Beetle and turn it into a very reliable and fun-to-drive Baja Bug.


Saturday, August 02, 2014

Mitsuyado Sei-Men Revisited

We last ate in Mitsuyado Sei-Men barely three weeks ago. Yet here we were again, Maica, Mom, and I, about to eat there again. It was my decision to have dinner there for two specific reasons: 1) It was raining, and some hot ramen would be perfect for this weather. 2) I really was curious to try the other offerings they had there. And no, I would not let the fact that part of the restaurant's name sounds like a male bodily fluid prevent me from eating here again.

We started off with some cold brews. Mom got this Hitachino Nest brew while I went with my old reliable, San Mig Light. I did get to try a swig from Mom's bottle, but I couldn't tell the difference between the two since I already took a gulp from mine. Maybe next time I'll try it before drinking my familiar beer.
Cold Brews
Foreign brew for my Mom, old reliable for me
Mom got the chicken karaage (better than the first time) and this Chashu Pao. A take on the Chinese cua pao filled with some slices of chashu. Chashu seems to me like a Japanese version of the Chinese tsar siew, but since I haven't done any research don't take my word for it. She did say it was very good, and she finished the whole bun. The big drawback I saw was that the sauce was too drippy and it soiled the sleeves of my Mom's jacket.
Chashu Pao
Mitsuyaado Sei-Men's Chashu Pao
I originally wanted to try the Cheese Tsukemen but since Maica decided to get that also, i switched to option number 1b: Curry Tsukemen. Feeling very hungry, I decided to order the large portion.

Right off the bat, the biggest difference between this and my previous order, Jumbo Chashu Tsukemen regular size, is the lack of chashu slices. But that was about the only complaint I had about my dish. The taste was your typical Japanese curry taste. It had a medium kick of heat after every slurp. There were very tender chunks of meat (I couldn't tell if it was beef or pork, but damn were they good) mixed in with the curry sauce, along with some fish cake slices.

The taste was great! I had a great time devouring my meal, partly because I was starving, partly because the hot curry dipping sauce made me feel warm on a cold, rainy night, and mostly because my order was very, very delicious. Plus having ice cold beer to wash the food down was a great bonus, and helped warm my insides a lot more.
Curry Tsukemen (Large)
My dinner – Large Curry Tsukemen
As with the first time I ate in Mitsuyado Sei-Men, I once again finished even the dipping sauce. And to be honest I also ate about 1/4th of Maica's Double Cheese Tsukemen order. That was also a great tasting dish, but I liked this Curry Tsukemen better.

On a side note, Maica did find her dish delicious, but ever since getting sick she hasn't been able to eat as much food as she used to.
Empty Plate!
Clean plate! Empty beer bottle! Used moist towelette! One satisfied Gani!
In closing, Mitsuyado Sei-Men is fast becoming a favorite go-to restaurant for myself and my Mom. The food is worth the price, service is relatively fast, and best of all the restaurant wasn't even full on a Friday night after payday!

Oh and if you still have space for dessert, try the Japanese bakery beside the restaurant. In fact I think it's a sister company since there is a door from Mitsuyado Sei-Men to the bakery (whose name I am totally forgetting, sorry). I got the chocolate mousse for take out so I could share it with Martina, and it was very delicious! A bit too sweet, but delicious nonetheless.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quick Amateur Review - Yakiniku Sakura

Kakiage Soba Meal
My only pic of the place, my kakiage soba set meal
Today I treated my wife's family (parents, some siblings, some siblings' kids) for my birthday lunch. At the suggestion of my father-in-law, we ate at Yakiniku Sakura located along Pasay Road, near the new Park Square parking.

The place looks old. Maybe because it is old. If you've ever watched a Restaurant Makeover or a Restaurant Impossible episde, the place reminded me of that. It was sort of dark, and the decor was really old.

The food was relatively cheap. You'd probably spend about Php300 - Php450 per meal, depending on the order. Also apparently during lunch they have select dishes that they offer as a set meal. You get rice, pickled veggies, some sashimi slices (depending on the main dish), miso soup, and some fruits for dessert.

I was too hungry to take pictures of the other dishes, but rest assured the set meals were definitely bang for the buck. Just take a look at my order, a kakiage soba set meal.

Taste-wise the food was good. It was typical Filipino-Japanese fare, meaning it tastes good for the Filipino palette palate (edit 20140721 - wrong spelling), I guess. Maybe I'm underrating it. I enjoyed my dish. It was definitely worth the Php270 I paid for it.

Would I recommend eating there? Sure, as long as you're not the type of person who cares too much about ambiance. There's a reason why the place has been open for all this time, and to be honest I want to discover more of the food offerings they have.

I'll definitely do my best to try and eat there again.


Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I've changed a lot in the past year. I think I'm more aware of my shortcomings, and I'm also a bit more optimistic than I was.

That doesn't mean it always goes that way.

A recent turn of interesting events has caused me to dive deep back into my negative, pessimistic, time-to-give-up attitude. My old, "Why does this have to happen to me?" thinking quickly surfaced last night. Fortunately it happened extremely late, and I was able to sleep after an hour or so of fretting.

My fretting was basically justified. I'd rather not talk about it online, as always. Let's just say there were equal parts Typhoon Glenda (international name 'Rammasun') aftermath, animal foreshadowing, and personal issues.

Okay, so the personal issues were unjustified. The first two were extremely justified, though. And contributed greatly to my sour disposition upon waking up this morning.

Still, life goes on and things seem to be heading toward a more positive swing. I've taken steps to make sure that the animal foreshadowing incident from last night might be averted. So we'll see.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Amateur Review - Mitsuyado Sei-Men

July 14, 2014 — My mom wanted to treat us to dinner at this ramen place she was raving about. Boy was I glad we ate there. The name of the place? Mitsuyado Sei-Men.

According to my mom, this place became known because of this cheese tsukemen dish they serve. What is tsukemen? Apparently it's ramen that is served separately from the broth. So it's sort of like dipping the noodles in the broth before you eat it.
Mitsuyado Sei-Men
The restaurant's facade
The inside of Mitsuyado Sei-Men reminded me of some ramen places in Japan. They have this old school look. I'd go so far as to say the decor made it look like a "classy carinderia"  for lack of a better term.
Decor inside Mitsuyado Sei-Men
The decor inside the restaurant
There were also tons of decor from Japan. So there really is a great Japanese vibe to the restaurant. Now that we've established the ambience, how would the food fare?
Dinner Time
The decor inside the restaurant
Mom got some chicken karaage and gyoza for starters. They were pretty decent, not that great. Personally, I think it wasn't a good idea to get the side dishes for the simple reason that the portions of the dishes were huge. The karaage and gyoza were just extra calories. I'm not saying they tasted bad, they were okay. I've had better, and I've definitely had worse.
Chicken Karaage and Gyoza
Chicken Karaage and Gyoza for starters
Then came my main course - Jumbo Chashu Tsukemen. This is my first time ever eating tsukemen. I never bothered to try it in Japan. What can I say about my dish? It was great. The chashu was "fork tender" and almost disintegrated if manhandled with the chopsticks.

The broth was salty but not overpowering. You could still taste the other ingredients in the broth, and they complement the chashu strips and the cold noodles. Yes, I chose to have cold noodles per the recommendation of our server. And it was definitely a good call, since the broth was relatively hot. The broth was so good I finished it up with the spoon you can see in the lower right of the picture below. I don't think you're supposed to do that, but the broth was that damn good.
Jumbo Chashu Tsukemen
Jumbo Chashu Tsukemen (regular size) for me
So would I go back there again? Absolutely. I saw a couple of items in the menu that I would love to try next time (I'm looking at you, curry ramen). The price was a bit on the high side, but it was definitely worth it. The taste was good, the service was decent, and the portions didn't leave me feeling like they skimped on ingredients like a certain ramen place we went to before.

Finally, do I have some complaints about the place? Yes. One, they don't have service water. They do have service cold tea, though. Two, the ceiling aircon drips. I had a drop splatter on my menu once, then again on my arm after I moved to the side a bit to avoid it. So if you're not careful or aware, you could be slurping on aircon drippings. I hope I didn't.

Those two faults I saw were pretty minor, well not really the second one. If that gets worse it could be an issue for other diners.

In closing, despite the two minor annoyances I would definitely recommend Mitsuyado Sei-Men to anyone who likes ramen. The food was good, the portions were decent, and the ambiance was nice. Just don't sit under the aircon vents.

For those of you interested in trying the place out, I took a picture of their address. Here you go:
Here's their address in case you want to visit

Sunday, July 13, 2014

362 - 365/365 - End Game

362/365 - New Clothes!
Got some new shorts I wore this weekend
363/365 - Another Laptop Wallpaper
One of my laptop's wallpapers that I took myself
364/365 - TBT — Osaka
Throwback Thursday - Japan 2013
365/365 - Wise Words
Wise words to live by
Well, I turned thirty-four yesterday. And I finished my Project 365. If you want to see all my photos you may view them here. I plan on looking at the photos again one of these days. I just don't know if I plan on reading the blogs. We shall see.

Anyway, I did miss a few days. I did finish the project. I never expected that a year could go by just like that. It seems like only last week that I decided to do this project, and now it's done.

I'm free. Free to take photos when I want, and how I want. No more feeling forced to shoot. I will miss it though, because it was a challenge everyday to try to look for something to shoot.

It was a fun one year.


Monday, July 07, 2014

361/365 - T-Minus Five Days

361/365 - New Tires
The Rav4 got new tires last Satuday, July 5, 2014
Five days to go. I have no idea what to write about. Part of me wants to write something deep, and another part of me just wants to finish this quick.

However, I will say this. I am very, very grateful for everything that has happened to me in the past year. No matter how horrible, or how great, I am very thankful to have experienced it. And I am very thankful to still be alive and to have the opportunity to learn from past experiences.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

354 - 360/365 - The End is Nigh

354/365 - Martina and Zumba
Martina trying out zumba
355/365 - The Race Car Meets My Car
I park my car at work and a race car parks beside me.
356/365 - Maica's New Monopod
I got Maica a monopod to help our selfies.
357/365 - Martina's Loom Bands
Loom bands for Martina
358/365 - Black Lit
Black lit Hello Kitty pin
359/365 - Bananas
Bananas from "the farm"
360/365 - What to Order?
We settled on pizza for dinner
End game is near. I can't believe there are only five days to go with this Project 365. Sure, I missed a few days of photos and cheated by taking a photo the next day. More often I was faithful with snapping any photo for a day. Uploading is a different story.

During the course of this project, a great many things happened in my life. Here are some highlights and lowlights.
  • I resigned from my previous employer, whom I had worked with for over five years. It was mostly because I needed time off to think and fix some negatives things about me, but I will not let them off the hook that easily. They played their part that lead to my resignation. I will leave it at that.
  • We euthanized our pet dog, Rebus. The day after my birthday. Like I said before, maybe he was just waiting for my birthday to say goodbye. I cried a lot that day, but I was also there by his side until the end.
  • I was jobless for over two months. That was stupidity on my part. My folks always told me never resign from a job until you have a landing zone. I decided to take a risk. I was rejected a lot of times, and it was an amazing wake-up call for me.
  • I found a new career. This was my very selfish choice. I wanted to stop doing what I used to do, because I couldn't stomach it at the time. Let's just say I needed to recharge my artistic juices.
I was thinking of blogging something similar on the eve of my birthday, or even during my birthday. However, maybe it might be better to focus on something else for my birthday.