Tuesday, December 13, 2016

[741] Reasons to Drive to Vigan (Again)

Before I go on, apologies in advance if I get some of the names wrong. I should be bringing along a small notebook to take notes next time I travel.

A few weeks ago my family and I drove to Vigan for a three-day holiday. It was a long and tiring drive, about 10 hours at our pace from Metro Manila to Hotel Veneto de Vigan.

I won't be recapping what we did on our trip. I will be writing down reasons why I would happily do this again. Budget and schedule willing, of course. So here they are, the reasons why I would want to go to Vigan again via road trip.

The Food

Before getting to Vigan my family and I stopped to eat at Bistro Candon in Candon, Ilocos Sur. We intentionally did not have lunch anywhere to eat here. My mom mentioned how good the food was, and boy it did not disappoint! The two highlights of our meal were the Bagnet on Poque-Poque Pizza and the Sunny Vigan Longganisa Pizza. Great food, so great I would probably willingly drive all the way and spend a night in Candon if I can eat lunch, dinner, and breakfast there before driving home!

My favorite pizza - Sunny Vigan Longganisa. Look at that egg!
Bagnet on Poque-Poque Pizza - also a great dish
Good food is INDEED meant for sharing.

Another amazing surprise was the restaurant in Cordillera Inn. The food was also very good, if not a bit pricey. Pricey in the sense that in the eateries outside you can get a meal for around Php60. But the price here is definitely worth it. The food is just great. The fact that the restaurant is air conditioned is just a lovely bonus. I am just glad my mom also recommended we eat here. I honestly didn't have any plans to eat here since every time we passed by the restaurant it was always empty.

Cordillera Inn's Bagnet Sisig
Poque-Poque, Fish Croquetas, and Bagnet from Cordillera Inn

Another reason to go back is the Ilocos Empanada. I only had one the whole trip, and to be honest it wasn't as great as the empanada from Laoag or Batac. I think I have to go back there to try Vigan empanada and not just from one branch.

Finally a good friend of mine recommended we try Tongson's Royal Bibingka. Good thing Maica went there early to buy because the lines were already getting long. Their bibingka was heavenly. It was made of cassava and was a lot chewy and creamier than the usual budin I eat from Quezon Province.

Tongson's Royal Bibingka - bite sized and very delicious
The Sights

So on the only whole day in Vigan Maica, Martina, and I took a calesa city tour. We were lucky our kutchera (female calesa driver) was very nice and pleasant. Aside from that she was also a very experienced tour guide. She brought us to the two places I wanted to visit -- Bantay Bell Tower and the Pottery places. If ever you want to take a city tour in Vigan, look for Manang Ditas.

Manang Ditas with Maica and Martina taken at Baluarte

This building is older than me. Obviously.
One of the Spanish era houses in Vigan
Calle Crisologo is the most famous place in Vigan. It is a cobblestone street and all the buildings there are Spanish-era restored buildings. This street is full of stores selling pasalubong and there are plenty restaurants to eat at. Calle Crisologo is also where Cordillera Inn is located.

Calle Crisologo at night

Finally, Vigan has two Churches to look at. San Agustin Church with Bantay Bell Tower and Vigan Cathedral.
San Agustin Church

Bantay Bell Tower - Decorated for Christmas Season
View from Bantay Bell Tower. The left mountain range is Cordillera and the right is Benguet.
Vigan Cathedral at Night
Family Bonding Time

Of course time spent with my family was the best reason to go to Vigan. It was a chance to relax and enjoy each other's company in a different environment. We spent around 72 hours together, for good or for bad.

Our family photo just outside the hotel. The start of our city tour.

Anyway that's all I have as reasons for going back to Vigan. I would definitely love to save up for another trip there.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

[740] RIP Grandma

My paternal grandmother passed away a little over a week ago, November 18, 2016. She was 96.

It was her time, and as much as I was saddened to see her go, I was also relieved that she was not suffering here anymore. She did have cancer, and she was in pain. What little improvements I saw when I last visited were minor victories for us, not for her. Maybe she fought through the pain for a few weeks to be able to interact with everyone. Just to say goodbye.

I am just very happy that I managed to visit her a few weeks before her passing. I was glad she waved goodbye to me that time and I was glad I was there in her wake and in her funeral.

You will be missed, say "Hi" to Lolo Pabling for me. Also to Lola Berting and Lolo Turing in case you see them.


Monday, October 31, 2016

[739] Lucena Weekend

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Lucena visiting my Lola Jinny. 

Call me naive but I thought she had improved from the last time I visited her. She was responding more when we spoke with her, and I was surprised she was making an effort to speak with Martina when she saw her.

I give all the credit to the physical therapist they got for her. She was doing a good job not only with making her body move but also giving her some speech exercises.

This does not mean everything is good of course. I did notice my grandmother would groan a lot whenever she was in a "sitting" position on the bed. I have no idea why, but according to my aunt it's because my grandmother is in pain when she sits.

Still, it was good to visit my grandmother and bring here even a small bit of cheer knowing that people still think of her.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

[738] Podcasts

The moment I got a smartphone last year I bought a podcast app. It turned out to be a good investment.

I usually listen to them as background noise during work. They are my first option now rather than listening to music.

It's unfortunate that most of the good podcasts come out around Wednesday night here in the Philippines. Usually I have a hard time listening to podcasts during the weekends and if I try to listen to them the next week they aren't really as relevant by the time I listen to them.

So what podcasts do I listen to? Mostly NBA and WWE related stuff with a sprinkling of car podcasts. I also started listening to some other podcasts just to increase the number of episodes I can listen to every day at work.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

[737] Major NBA Retirements 2016

This 2016 off-season the NBA has lost three all-time greats to retirement. Kobe Bryant, announced before the start of the 2015-2016 season that he was retiring. Tim Duncan announced his decision to retire this off-season, as well as Kevin Garnett.

I grew up with these guys. Their careers started when I was in my mid-to-late teenage years. And to be honest I wasn't really much of a fan of them back then.

I was only starting to get to know the NBA during the mid-to-late 90s. We had cable TV and there were regular games showing every Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Unfortunately I was not allowed to watch TV during school days so I would get my fill during the weekends. If we weren't going out for the day. I usually tried to watch the games live in the morning here in the Philippines because I would be doing other stuff at night (like playing the guitar, playing video games, or reading).

I am sad that the players I grew up watching are now retiring, but I am happy that these guys were able to have long, successful NBA playing careers. I never really was a big fan of these three guys but I really respected their games and contributions to the NBA game.

Out of the three Tim Duncan would be the player I like the most. He was quiet, efficient, and a team player. He rarely made waves and was willing to take discounts to make sure his team was almost always successful.

Kobe Bryant is the player I would say is the closest link to Michael Jordan. His game was almost the same as His Airness. And for someone who really misses MJ (despite the fact that he's not even in my top three favorite all-time NBA players) Kobe was the guy I loved watching because of how "old school" he was.

Finally there's Kevin Garnett. I never really liked him. I was impressed with his versatility and his defensive prowess but I never liked his "tough guy" attitude. That's just my opinion.

Anyway, thanks to those three for all the memories you gave me and countless other NBA fans. May you find the success and happiness you found on the court in your new lives as retired NBA players.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

[736] Fitness

My weight has always been an issue with me.

A few years ago I managed to drop to around 95kg. It lasted for less than a year. The biggest reason I managed to do that was the office I was working for at the time ran a "biggest loser" contest. While I did not join the contest, I decided to try to lose weight with them.

It worked. I lost a lot of weight, roughly 10kg. Then I tried to maintain my weight for a few months. Unfortunately I resigned and moved to another job, and then I went back to my old, bad habits of enjoying food a little too much.

Now I'm back at around 105kg and trying to be fit again. The difference now is I am not trying to lose weight, I am trying to be healthier.

I am forcing myself to walk a lot more. And to use my 20lbs. kettlebells at least twice or thrice a week. And to eat healthier.

I have no idea what this will lead to. I do know I need to lose weight, but more importantly I need to be healthier and more fit.


Sunday, September 04, 2016

[735] Lucena

Yesterday Maica, Martina, and I hitched a ride with my Tita Ginx so we could visit my Lola Jinny in Lucena.

It was a day trip. Tita Ginx usually goes to Lucena every weekend because she is an ophthalmologist and she does a half-day clinic there. We left Metro Manila before dawn and we went back after lunch.

Lola Jinny is fine, I guess. She'll be turning 96 this year, and she looks like she's put on a lot of weight from the last time I saw here. I guess this is good.

Sadly she rarely speaks anymore, and is usually always asleep. She barely even opens her eyes when she is awake. I hope her hearing is still sharp and I hope the presence of her first great-grandchild (Martina) was enough to lift her spirits.

I am planning on visiting again. I might even try to do this at least once a month. If not with Maica and Martina then by myself.

My grandmother could use all the company she needs. Despite the fact that she's almost always asleep and rarely opens her eyes, I did try to strike up a conversation with her. She will nod her head and respond to my questions. Which is good.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

[734] It All Came Crashing Down

When I returned to my 3D career I was really proud. Who wouldn't be? I had been gone and relatively out of practice for over a year-and-a-half. I was trying to get back to my "bread and butter" which was the world of 3D.

And I did. And I was very happy. I was happy to be working where I was. I was proud to work where I was. And I became even prouder and happier when I passed my probationary period and became a regular employee.

I thought things were going great. And they were, to be honest. Things were going along rather fine and I thought I was regaining my form and getting excited to learn new things. I was even excited to grow with my team members.

Then something happened around late first quarter this year that changed all that. I won't bother to get into the specifics but after that I realized I am still just a "salaryman" trying to earn a living so I can take care of my family.

Ever since my perspective has shifted. Yes I am still proud to work where I am, and I am still happy with my current situation. Hell, I'm still excited to learn new things in 3D. I do also remember that I still have other priorities in life.


Sunday, August 07, 2016

[733] Black Sambo

I made black sambo again yesterday. This time I made it to bring for our weekly pot luck at my in-laws' place.

They seemed to have enjoyed it. I hope they really liked it and not just saying it was good because I made it.

Oh well, at least now it came out as expected. Two really separate layers. One black and one white. The taste was a bit sweeter, maybe because I used a different brand of condensed and evaporated milk.

I want to try other ingredients next time. Like maybe adding some rum or coffee. Or vanilla extract.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

[732] This is the End...

... Of the month of July in 2016! More than half a year has passed by.

Yesterday, 30th of July 2016, I decided to try to re-create a recipe for Black Sambo. It's apparently a jelly-like dessert that looks like a two-tiered cake. The lower part is a dark brown / black jelly and the upper part is the creamy jelly.

I got the idea for this because this was served as a dessert one time in the office and I was not able to try it out. I checked the internet for a recipe and decided to try and re-create it at home.

Before anything else, it was a decent success. It tastes good, I guess. I've never tried the real deal so I have no point of comparison. However I did make one really critical mistake. I didn't wait long enough for the lower part to set before pouring in the upper part. I got too excited to finish it. 
So basically it still looks two-tiered but there are places where it looks marbled.

It is an interesting effect but I don't think that's how black sambo is supposed to look. Some photos below.

Black Sambo Ingredients for the "White Part"
Some ingredients (I had already cooked the black part here)
Base Part for Black Sambo - Done
Black part done and waiting to set (Next time I will let this set for three hours)
First Attempt at Black Sambo
My first attempt at black sambo (still tastes good)

Monday, July 11, 2016

[731] On the Eve of my Birthday

On the eve of my 36th (yes! amazing how time flies) birthday I only have one wish. Higher salary.

This may seem contrary to what I usually preach to others about being happy with what you have. Except I am happy with what I am currently earning, except I now know that it isn't enough to give my family what I know they deserve.

This mindset might seem similar to my mindset around 2011 - 2013 but trust me, it isn't. Before I used to want, or need, a higher salary. Because I wanted a higher salary. And that is what drove me to my burnout. My reasons for wanting the salary were shallow.

I want a higher salary now because like I said two paragraphs ago, I want to give my family what they deserve. And I cannot do that completely with what I am earning now. I will be compromising the things I can provide.

Does this mean I will burn myself out trying to earn what I want? No. I now know the value of money, and the importance of budgeting finances. I also know that no matter how hard I save for my daughter's future it will directly affect how much I can contribute to my household. So basically do I sacrifice the quality of education I should be giving my daughter so we can live comfortably? No. Do I sacrifice how we live to give my daughter the best education possible? Sort of. Do I need to do that? No.

I will be doing whatever I can to provide a better life to my family. And this includes looking for the best way to earn or make money for my family.

If you want a rough estimate of how much would tide me over for maybe one or two years, I would like to be able to take home about  a month. That would be great.


Friday, July 08, 2016

[730] My (Almost) Annual Birthday Wishlist

It's that time of the year again when my birthday nears and I start daydreaming for stuff I want. I may not be able to do this post every year but I guess since it's 0447 hours (GMT +8) and I have no work today I thought I would do a birthday wishlist. So here we go!

  1. A new laptop. I've actually narrowed it down to two laptops: Dell's Inspiron with no optical drive but better video card or ASUS' ROG with an optical drive but a 'weaker' video card. The Dell laptop has the lead because I have heard favorable stuff about Dell from people more knowledgeable about laptops than me. And because I already have an existing external optical drive I bought when my current laptop's optical drive died.
  2. LeBron Ambassador 8 basketball shoes. I saw this once in the mall and I was smitten by it. It looked good, the price was reasonable (compared to the main shoe LeBron wears), and it was an 'outdoor' shoe meaning it is designed to be used on concrete courts and not exclusively for hardwood courts. Three things prevented me from buying it then: 1. I already had a pair of basketball shoes (adidas D. Rose Englewood 3); 2. I wasn't a big LeBron fan that I had to have his shoe (though I keep reading how great his shoes are for guys who play forward); and 3. I am trying to live a simple lifestyle so I don't need too many shoes.
  3. One or two pairs of Old Navy jeans. Yes a specific brand. The most recent pair of jeans I bought was a set of loose fitting jeans from Old Navy. They are great. I wasn't able to buy another pair simply because they ran out of my size in the other colors. So all I have is one pair of dark blue Old Navy jeans. They had faded blue jeans too and I hope to one day find a pair my size.
  4. Lego Architecture Studio. Yes this is still to expensive to buy here in the Philippines. I was holding onto one in Japan I could have bought for cheaper but I decided not to since I was planning on buying a new iPad at the time.
  5. A Playstation 4. Yes I still remain loyal to Sony despite Forza 6. Also because There is a new Gran Tursimo game that will come out in PS4. At least I think it will come out in PS4.
And that's it. You may be wondering where those other, more 'far out' wishes are. Why bother to include them? Everyone knows I want a place of my own and two cars. But I also know I can't afford to maintain those myself.

I guess the biggest wish I want to have on my birthday is a job that will pay me enough that I can take care of my family and my parents, be able to have enough spending money to buy some 'luxuries,' and most importantly be able to put aside enough money for my retirement. If I can get this then all my other wishes can come true.

And don't lecture me that I have to learn how to budget my money. I have learned and I am applying what I learned. I just know for a fact that I am not making enough.


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

[729] My Thoughts on Kevin Durant

Today I found out Kevin Durant is leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors. After reading a lot of reports and opinions I think I can express my thoughts better now.

I have mixed emotions about this.

I am happy for him, as he has exercised his right to choose what team to play for. He also has the opportunity to maximize his career earnings.

It stops there. I feel really bad he left the Thunder. He had a great thing going there with Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, and the rest of the crew.

I had become a fan of OKC because KD had been my keeper in an NBA Fantasy League since his sophomore season. I became an even bigger fan of the team when they drafted Russell Westbrook. They were one day f the NBA teams I root for.

Now Kevin Durant has moved on. I have ceased being his fan. I am sticking with Mr. Westbrook and the OKC Thunder. I will be with that team until maybe Westbrook leaves. 

LeBron's move to Miami was different. He was carrying the Cavs all by himself with little to mo quality help. He was taking a risk forming "The Heatles" because they were unproven in the playoffs.

Durant is moving to arguably the best team in the NBA right now. They have championship experience and the record for best regular season record.

Karl Malone and Gary Payton also had different situations. They were on the downside of their careers and were ring chasing. They also sacrificed their salaries to move to a contender.

Durant is entering his prime, and will be earning max or near max salary. He sacrifices nothing.

Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were traded for by the Celts. As far as I know they never forced a trade, they only agreed to be traded. They also gave their previous teams some assets to help them rebuild.

Durant left without giving OKC anything. Not that he owes them.

Anyway enough rambling. I am still salty.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

[728] Thirty-six

The winds of change blow more frequently now. Not as strong as before, but it is there. I can feel it.

Or if you want another analogy, you could say that the idea has been planted and is starting to sprout. Like an unwanted weed it grows without assistance, slowly spreading its roots into the cracks in the concrete. And once the weed grows the foundation breaks.

Also, my birthday is coming up. I have a few ideas what to give myself. The biggest idea is a new laptop. This current laptop I have is around four years old. I think I got in 2012, maybe even 2011. It has served me well, but it is starting to show its age.

Next on the list is a Playstation 4. I really don't need one to be honest. I broke my Playstation 3 around 2012 or so and to be honest I really haven't missed it that much. Maybe for Gran Turismo only. But aside from that I've learned my lesson.

Another option is a Nintendo 3DS or whatever is the current iteration. I really want to play the latest Pokemon games, and I am not ashamed to admit it. I do enjoy Pokemon, however there are no realistic racing games available for the 3DS.

A long shot is a mirrorless camera. My colleague and seatmate at work just recently got one, a Fujifilm X-T10 and I must admit to being a bit jealous. Mirrorless cameras are offering the one thing I miss from my DSLR -- a manual focus ring. And that is something my trusty and beloved G16 cannot give me. Fast manual focus.

The Fujifilm X-E2S looks really nice. Too bad it's as expensive as the laptop I'm looking at and getting new lenses each will cost a low end laptop.

Anyway I have managed to divert what was supposed to be some "mysterious" ramblings about shit going on in my life into a birthday gift wishlist. Which is for the best since I really have learned my lesson and I don't really want to share my deepest thoughts online.


Monday, June 27, 2016

[727] License Renewal

I just finished renewing my license earlier today at the LTO Satellite Office in Taguig. I was not surprised that I would not be getting the new plastic license since apparently all branches are out of the plastic used to make the licenses.

So I got my temporary receipt and went home. The whole process took a little over two hours, most of which was spent waiting. Ah, red tape. I can't really complain since things were going as fast as possible. I think the LTO still uses Windows XP on antiquated CPUs so that helps slow things down.

The other thing that slows things down in my opinion is the layout of the office. You have to go from one place to another to get stuff done and in my opinion that just leads to a lot of inefficiency. I know they are making do with the layout of the place but if they could create a process that allows a smooth transaction moving from one window to the next window it would speed things up a lot.

Let's say there's one lane for licenses. Another lane for vehicle registrations. And of course the courtesy senior citizen, PWD, and pregnant women queue. Then instead of making people go around the entire compound jumping from window 3 to 7 then to 1, maybe they could just make three sets of windows dedicated solely for licenses. So go to window A to submit the documents and confirm that everything is correct, then move to the neighboring window B for photograph and signature, then to window C to pay the dues, and finally you can go wait somewhere for releasing.

It's sorta there already, to be honest. Except the windows aren't side by side. After getting my information verified I was asked to go to another window for picture and signature, which was on the other side of the building. Once that was done I was back in the main waiting area waiting for my name to be called to pay the dues. Once that was done it was back out to the other side to claim the receipt / temporary license.

Surely there are more efficient ways of getting things done.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

[726] Company Outing

This 2016 KLab Cyscorpions Inc had it's annual company outing at Canyon Cove Resort in Nasugbu, Batangas. The company outing was held on the from the 24th of June to the 25th.

I've been participating in the company outings since I joined last year. For the simple reason that if I don't join I have to file two (2) days leave for not participating. Yes, they count both Friday and Saturday as part of the outing. Unfair? Not really. This year we have Monday, June 26, off to offset the Saturday part of the outing. Last year we had a similar day off as offset but not immediately after the outing.

Aside from that I also took this outing as an opportunity to get to know some of my colleagues at work. We are around 200 strong and I know a handful of people only. Missions accomplished? Not really. I did get to know some from my department better than I had before.


ps This is only post number two for June. I need at least one more if I am to meet my three posts a month self-imposed quota.

pps I apologize if my posts of late are pretty "shallow" or not as introspective as before. I'm not in the mood to write and I have been more and more careful of posting my thoughts online.

Friday, June 24, 2016

[725] Smart Phone

I only recently got a smartphone for myself. Before that I was using an old, hand-me-down Nokia N8 from my Mom. I guess that was considered a smartphone too when it came out, but when I started using it it was only good for calling, sending SMS, taking photos, and storing some music and videos.

This new phone of mine is an android phone, because iOS phones are very expensive here in the Philippines. I really appreciate the connectivity of the phone. I can check all my emails on-the-go. And because it is LTE ready it makes it faster to check email than using my laptop.

I also mentioned that I switched to a prepaid number and dropped my old postpaid number. I prefer the flexibility of prepaid where I can allocate what funds I need for mobile data and calling.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

[724] Rainy Season

Apparently summer is over.

It has been raining for the past few days. This is a welcome change from all the heat we experienced during the summer. It was El Niño during the summer, meaning our summer was hotter and drier than normal.

Now I've been hearing news reports saying the rainy season is upon us. This is both good and bad.

Why bad? Well because La Niña is now going to happen. This means a wetter rainy season. Unfortunately if you are familiar with what happens to Metro Manila during the rainy season you will know what this means. Flash floods.

I just hope people are preparing for what will happen. Good luck to us all, and stay safe.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

[723] Arroz Caldo

The best arroz caldo I ever ate was made by the kasambahay of one of my great-aunts. It has probably been decades since I last had this.

Before I go reminiscing any further, what is arroz caldo? Basically Filipino rice porridge with chicken. Sometimes hard boiled eggs are added. And you usually top it off with chopped green onions, toasted garlic, and tofu.

Anyway my favorite arroz caldo is just plain chicken and rice. No garnishes. The way she used to cook it was what made it taste good. I'll try to see if I can remember bits and pieces of her techniques and recipe.

She would first sauté some garlic. Maybe add some ginger. Then she would add the uncooked rice, or bigas, and "fry" them until they were a bit translucent. Once it reaches that stage I think she would drop a chicken bouillon cube and let it dissolve. Once dissolved she would then add the water and let the rice cook. They would usually go for a thick consistency instead of soupy.

Come to my think of it, the way she starts out the arroz caldo seems similar to how you would start cooking risotto.

So when do you add the chicken? I honestly can't remember. In fact, I don't even think it was arroz caldo I ate. Maybe it wasn't arroz caldo. Maybe it was lugaw, which is basically just rice porridge. I can't remember.

Oh well. Maybe I should try to recreate it but add chicken. Modify it by adding slivers of chicken breast fillet along with the bigas to enhance the flavor. Hopefully I have time to do this.


Monday, May 16, 2016

[722] Farewell Postpaid

After all these years My dad finally cancelled the postpaid plan I had been using since the early 2000s. It was not a difficult decision to do.

Using current prepaid sim card is more economical. I can avail of different prepaid promos that can stretch what I would normally use to pay for the postpaid plan I was using.

Also I can now adjust my budget to focus more on data plans than SMS and calls. I rarely call or text anyone, anyway.

So here is to more financial flexibility.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

[721] The Lite Ace

Allow me to reminisce about one of my folks' previous cars. A 1993 Toyota Lite Ace GXL. I think I've written about it before, but I want to write about it again.

In hindsight, it was one of the ideal family cars. It had good interior space for five with the rear seats folded. It was relatively compact outside, having relatively small exterior dimensions. The only negatives I could think of with the Lite Ace were lack of power for the engine, weak air conditioning, and the middle sliding windows were a security concern.

The Lite Ace might have benefited from a few costly modifications. Sadly we don't have the resources for it. What would I have done? Engine swap to a more modern, efficient, and powerful engine. Improve the air conditioner. Upgraded brakes. Basically whatever mods I want to do to other dream cars of mine.

Anyway the Lite Ace is gone, sold to someone else. So all I can do is reminisce and dream.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

[720] Work

I've been working since 2004. Thanks twelve years. During that span of time I've worked for many different types of companies. Each company I worked for was totally different in make-up from the other.

I started in 2004 with a relatively small animation studio of about ten to twenty regular employees. We mostly catered to local television commercials providing both 2D and 3D assets as needed.

In 2008 I moved to a game dev company. This was a bigger company having at most around fifty employees at one point. I stayed with them for over five years.

Late 2013 I joined an automotive parts importing company. This was a relatively new company and when I joined we were four employees. When I left we up to seven.

My latest employer is similar to my previous game dev company. Except there almost 200 employees.

So there. I guess I could say I've had the pleasure of experiencing different types of companies. From the humblest, start-up-ish company to a big, sorta-multinational company.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[719] Nothing to Post

As the title says, I have nothing relevant to post. The internet at home is too slow, and I cannot blog using my laptop. I have to use the app on my tablet.

Not that it's a bad thing, the laptop is just an easier way to blog, format, and post pictures via my flickr account.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

[718] Cooking

My mother-in-law gave me her secret recipe for chicken inasal. That's Ilonggo style barbecued chicken, if you ask me. I haven't cooked it in a long time, but I've been having this urge to cook again.

So maybe this weekend I'll try to experiment and make a somewhat healthy chicken inasal. Instead of using the usual breast, leg, thigh, or drumstick I'll use exclusively chicken breast and thigh fillets with no skin. Sacrilege, I know. But I've been curious how something like that would taste for the longest time.

Also instead of grilling it over hot charcoal I will use our electric grill. Again, sacrilege. Again, I don't care. I want to experiment.

Cooking was an outlet for me before, I'd like it to become an outlet again. An outlet for stress, an outlet for creativity, and an outlet for whatever it is inside me.

I should turn cooking into my hobby.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

[717] Restaurant Review - Nadai Fujisoba @ SM Aura

We've only eaten twice in Nadai Fujisoba at SM Aura. The first time we ate there I was shocked. Shocked why we never tried eating there before! Not only is the food really good, the price is very, very reasonable too! Oh, and did I mention they have free tenkasu (the deep fried  bits of tempura batter) to sprinkle to your udon / soba dishes as you please?

I can't find the official website (because I'm too lazy and the internet is so darn slow) but here's a link to Nadai Fujisoba's menu. You can find the prices of the items pictured below there.

Before I go on with the positives, just one quick negative. The service. Yes the crew are attentive. Yes they are pleasant to talk to. There are times when they get your order they forget something when they repeat your order. Probably because they don't write down orders. I have no idea why they don't write it down though. They sometimes have to be asked more than once for a spoon and fork set for my daughter, who still hasn't mastered using chopsticks. Basically very minor issues, nothing that would stop me from eating there again.

Again, the food there is good and the price is very reasonable. Just by the strength of these two points I am willing to go there again. And again. And again.

The first time we ate there I had the Yasai Kakiage Ten Tama Soba. It's basically a soba dish with a gigantic piece of kakiage on top. The kakiage has the usual onions and green leafy vegetables and carrots. It tasted great. The broth was light and not too salty. The soba noodles were firm. And the kakiage, good God, the kakiage. It tasted great with the broth, and it tasted great dipped in tempura sauce. It tasted great without any of the two either. It also had an egg, I thought it would be an ajitama egg but it wasn't. It went well with the soba though.

Yasai Kakiage Ten Tama Soba
Yasai Kakiage Ten Tama Soba

Speaking of kakiage, they also have a side dish called Kakiage Mori. It consists of three different kakiages. The one on the dish above, a shrimp kakiage, and the best one of all (for Maica and I) one that has pickles. According to the menu it is called the Beni Shoga because that is the ingredient used in the kakiage.

Kakiage Mori (3 Kinds of Kakiage)
Kakiage Mori Set (clockwise from top - Yasai Kakiage, Ko-ebi Kakiage, Beni Shoga (our favorite of the three)

After some quick research onlineBeni shoga is a type of pickle, or tsukemono, made from ginger. You usually encounter this type of pickle in other restaurants that serve gyudon. Interestingly Nadai Fujisoba also serves gyudon and I may try it the next time we eat there.

This lunch (Easter lunch!) I ordered the Kitsune Soba to try something different. Another quick search on the internet tells me that the tofu product on top of the soba is not yuba as I originally thought, but aburaage - a deep fried tofu. The broth and soba noodles were the same as the one on the Yasai Kakiage Ten Tama Soba so I don't need to describe them again. They were good. That's it.

Kitsune Soba
Kitsune Soba with Aburaage topping

Quick aside, whenever I eat there I add generous helping of the chili powder they provide. After checking my dear internet again, this chili powder is called Shichimi Togarashi. And yes, they make an already delicious broth come alive with some subtle heat.

Maica ordered the same dish both times we visited Nadai Fujisoba. The main reason for this is because they have the Teisyoku Set, that offers a rice bowl dish with a noodle dish. She's ordered the tendon (shrimp tempura) with kake soba (soba noodles with scallions) both times so she and Martina could share. Trust me, the teisyoku set is not only worth it, but it is good for two people. She says the food is good, and I believe her. Even Martina loves the tempura.

Teisyoku Set - Ebi Tendon & Kake Soba
Teisyoku Set consisting of Ebi Tendon and Kake Soba

So there you have it. I highly recommend Nadai Fujisoba at SM Aura! Be patient with the staff because the food is worth it. Taste-wise and money-wise.


Friday, March 18, 2016

[716] Internet Speeds in Metro Manila

The internet speeds at home are really slow now. I can't use my laptop to browse facebook or blog. It takes ages to open either Google Mail or Yahoo Mail.

So how can I blog right now? I'm using the Blogger app on my iPad. For facebook I use facebook lite on the Nexus 5X the office assigned to me.

That's how bad the internet is at home. I don't know if it's because there are plenty people connected to the wifi (I hope not) or if my laptop is just old. Or maybe the number of broadband users increased in the area hence the significant decrease in internet speeds.

Pretty sure it ain't my laptop since despite being four or five years old it still is an i7 with 8GB RAM.


Monday, February 29, 2016

[715] Leap Year 2016

Today is February 29, 2016. It is a leap year. This happens once every four years.

We get an extra day. It is up to us how we use and appreciate this extra day.  Unfortunately for me today wasn't that great.

Nero, our pet labrador, was sent to the vet because he had been vomiting all morning and was very weak. He's pretty up there in age, I think he's at least twelve years old. Maybe even fourteen.

His brother Travis has been bummed the whole day. He's been lying down and skulking. They've been together since birth, since they were given to us.

It bums me out. I just hope for the best outcome with Nero. I hope he isn't suffering.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

[714] Photography

I still take photos. I still try to follow the rule of thirds and find good camera angles. Sadly I think all the things I learned before when I was still shooting with film are now rarely used.

I just snap whatever I see. Which is sad.

Honestly I still stand with my previous belief - I shot better photos when I was using film. Simply because I was limited with the photos I could take, I was more careful with my shots.

And to be honest I really miss taking the photos I used to take. I guess it's also my fault I don't find time to take photos.

So with that statement I guess I will try to do my previous 365 day challenge of one photo per day. And not one forced photo. I'll try to take one good photo per day. Here's the catch: I don't know when I'll start.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

[713] The 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

In one word, amazing.

Aaron Gordon should have won it. His dunks were more impressive and more challenging than Zach LaVine's dunks. However LaVine did more impressive dunks during the tie-breaker rounds.

What LaVine did during the entire contest was amazing, though. And I'm glad he finally brought some swagger to his post-dunk celebrations. That was what was missing from what he did last year.

I'm glad I was able to watch the live telecast. It was worth watching.

Thank you, Mr. Aaron Gordon and Mr. Zach LaVine. This is why we play, and this is why I watch. I love this game.


Monday, January 18, 2016

[712] That Houseboat in Amsterdam

For the final leg of our European vacation, my folks, their friends, and myself spent two or three (or more?) nights in Amsterdam. We stayed in a houseboat located near the Science Center Nemo and Amsterdam Centraal train station. 

I'm pretty sure the houseboat is the one I marked above.

Amsterdam Houseboat
View of the houseboat from one of the water buses we rode.
Amsterdam Houseboat
Our tiny, humble, but very homey houseboat. The big building behind it is the Science Center Nemo.

The houseboat was the moored beside one or two other houseboats. You had to cross them to gain access to the main entrance located on the left side of the boat, beside the water. Now imagine us arriving on the first day carrying really heavy suitcases. And we did that too on the last day. I was really worried either the luggage I was hauling would fall into the water or I would. On the roof was a picnic table.

The houseboat was pretty small, but very cozy. Upon entering you would be at the main hall with the kitchen, dining area, and living area. Turn right and you'll see the bathroom entrance.

Amsterdam Houseboat
The common area. The left door leads to the bathroom, the right is the main entrance.
Amsterdam Houseboat
View of the main hall from the bathroom.
Amsterdam Houseboat
Our neighboring houseboat (for rent also) and the view from a kitchen window.
Amsterdam Houseboat
The bathroom, as seen from the master's bedroom.
Go past the bathroom through another door and you would be transported to the master's bedroom. Here you had to sleep in a nice little nook. It really gave you the feeling of sleeping in a houseboat.
Amsterdam Houseboat
Sleeping area of the master's bedroom. I REALLY wanted to sleep here.

On the other side of the houseboat was the other bedroom. This looked more like your regular bedroom. And of course, just outside this other bedroom was my sleeping area.

Amsterdam Houseboat
The sleeping area of the regular bedroom.
Amsterdam Houseboat
The morning after my first night.
Outside there were plenty of birds you could feed if you wanted, ranging from ducks, swans, and seagulls. Pigeons were also present. It won't take a genius to figure out my folks and I spent time feeding them and relaxing.

There were also plenty of other houseboats of various designs around the area. Some of them were for rent, like the one we stayed in, and the others were most likely homes of some residents.

Amsterdam Houseboat
Standing on the roof. A giant floating Chinese restaurant behind me.
Amsterdam Houseboat
The picnic table, and behind it to the left, the entrance to our houseboat.

How was it sleeping in a houseboat? Relaxing, to be honest. Being on the water meant the weather was pretty cold and breezy. The way the boat rocked with the waves was also pretty calming, and helped put me to sleep at night.

Unfortunately my body would be feeling like I was still on the houseboat even though I was already on solid ground. I would get phantom sensations in my body that the ground wasn't stable. This was a very small issue that really didn't bother me.
Amsterdam Houseboat
We had to cross two other houseboats to get to the dock.
I'm guessing if you read my three posts about the major places we stayed at you would see that my favorite place was the apartment in Paris, followed by this houseboat, and finally that apartment in Rome. We did stay for a few nights in a hotel in Florence, and we also spent a night or two in a bed and breakfast in Venice. None of those two places made as much of an impact on me as these three, though.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my memories of places I stayed at. Hopefully I'll have more travels in the future I can blog about.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

[711] Two-Bedroom Apartment in Rome

During our 2009 European holiday our first stop was Rome, Italy. It was my first time ever in Europe, and I remember that we arrived very, very late in our apartment. I think our apartment was located in Via Angelo Emo, though I really can't remember correctly. I'm pretty sure it's one of these four rectangular buildings you can see in the map below.

It was in the second or third floor of an apartment complex in an area very near the Vatican. Once you entered you walked into a common area that had the kitchen, a small dining table, and if you looked behind you to your left there was a reading area you could relax in.

Apartment in Rome
The kitchen and dining areas, to the right the door to the bedrooms.
Apartment in Rome
The living room area, to the left is the entrance. The curtained area opens to a small balcony.
Go past the only door and you would be in a small hallway with the bathroom to the left, the "master's bedroom" to the right, and on the front left was the other bedroom, that had two single beds. This was where I slept.

Apartment in Rome
The master's bedroom.
Apartment in Rome
The other bedroom, aka, the room I slept in.
I don't have as many fond memories of this apartment. I didn't "fall in love" with it like I did the one in Paris. I did appreciate this apartment because of the layout, and because of how practical the design was.

Unfortunately at the time we went there I did not take photos of the bathroom. I think I was still starting to get interested with "interior design," "architecture" or whatever term you would have for it. Let's just say I was just starting to take note about how rooms were laid out, how big they should be, how practical the designs should be.

I'm not sure if there was even a small walk-in pantry area somewhere. I can't really remember. One thing is sure, though, This apartment's design was something I would want to live in with my wife and daughter. But if you made me choose between this and the one in Paris, hands down the answer would be the latter.


Saturday, January 09, 2016

[710] That Aparment in Paris

Back in 2009 when my folks took me with them to a European vacation we spent a few days in an apartment Paris. My mom got this through a website, and I can't really remember the details. All I can remember is that the apartment was located on a street parallel to Rue Mouffetard. I think the street was Rue Lhomond.

The moment I stepped in that apartment I fell in love with it. We arrived in the morning and we were greeted by the owner and her professional cleaner (who happened to be Filipina). They were finishing up the final touches in the apartment when we arrived, I guess they weren't expecting us that early.

It's been a while since I last thought about that apartment. I don't even know why I suddenly thought about it again. That apartment is one of my dream homes. Not necessarily that specifically but the design. It is such a beautiful and practical home.

It is a rectangular house, with a second floor loft. Once you enter the door (located in the middle of the width of the house) to the left is a kitchen and the toilet. To the right is the dining table, a sofa-bed and the television. Obviously I took that spot. There is a narrow L-stairway located at the left-most part of the house that leads to the second floor loft.
Apartment in Paris
The entrance and a quaint little reading area.
Apartment in Paris
The kitchen area.
Apartment in Paris
This wall separated the "living room" from the kitchen.

Apartment in Paris
The toilet area, right beside the kitchen.

Apartment in Paris
That's the sofa bed I slept on, and to the right is the dining table.
Apartment in Paris
My little area in the apartment.
Other details, the second floor loft has two wide windows that open to see the first floor. The main doorway also has floor to ceiling windows. When you get out of the apartment you come out to a lovely courtyard.
Apartment in Paris
View of the bedroom and the entrance to the bath area from the first floor.

Upon getting to the second-floor you enter the "library" or common area. At the time there was a mattress on the floor for my folks to sleep in.Beyond that room is the only bedroom, where the friends of my folks who were travelling with us slept, and located inside is the shower room and a washing machine.
Apartment in Paris
View upon getting to the loft.
Apartment in Paris
My folks' sleeping area.

Apartment in Paris
Downstairs view from the bedroom loft.
Apartment in Paris
Washing machine, sink, bathtub.
The only issue I have with this design is that the bath area is inside the bedroom. Assuming I copy the design I'd rather have the bath area in a more accessible place. Also maybe I'd try to convert the second-floor common area into another bedroom instead for my daughter. Aside from that I love that house.

Why am I suddenly posting this? I just remembered this house and I tried remembering all I could about it. I'm also posting some photos I took of the apartment. I just regret not being able to take photos of the exterior of the apartment and the courtyard. Oh well.

Maybe for my next post I'll be reminiscing about the apartment we stayed at in Rome. That was another apartment I loved.