Saturday, December 27, 2008

Home Theater Sofa

Our 3-seater home theater sofa was delivered by Blims today! We went for a China-made cheaper version of La-Z Boy. It was about P10k cheaper (based on La-Z Boy SRP) and came with a free Toshiba Regza 19" LCD TV. Not that we really needed another TV, but I want to have 2 x PC's at our den and I don't want to buy another LCD monitor for the 2nd PC. A 15" LCD monitor nowadays costs about P6k.

From LGV House Blessing

The recliner mechanism of this sofa is not as good as La-Z Boy's. But one thing I liked about it over La-Z boy's 3-seater is the center seat reclines as well. With La-Z Boy, only the left and right side reclines while the center one converts into a table where you can put food. But I thought it was more important to have seating space so I opted for this one.

The home theater's configuration is supposed to have 2 x rows of theater sofas. But since we're on a tight budget, we opted for one set first and placed it on the raised floor section. Maybe we'll just put bean bags for a while on the front row for the kids.

The home theater is 6-meters deep. The sofa is just slightly behind the overhead projector. So that puts it at about 4-meters from the projection screen. I think its just right. If we put another set on the lower floor level, I think it will actually be too close to the screen.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas @ Boracay Day 3

With still almost the whole morning to spare, Cols, Caitlin, Les and I went to ride the banana boat. Ethan stayed at the hotel beach front with Dad, Nikki and William. At first Caitlin was afraid, but she got over it soon. After the banana boat, Cols and Les went parasailing. Caitlin and I stayed on the motorboat that pulled them.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

After the activities, the hotel shuttle drove us back to Discovery Shores were we played a bit more on the beach. I was advised a few weeks ago by PAL that our flight from Kalibo will be delayed by an hour. But the hotel insisted that we should leave at least 4 hrs before. So we left the hotel around 1pm. The shuttle took us to the ferry port. They arranged for the hotel boat from Boracay to Caticlan and hooked us up with a private van to take us to Kalibo airport. The transfer service was pretty efficient.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

We dozed off on the ride to Kalibo. When we got to the airport, there was nobody there as it was still too early. I checked us in while Cols ordered for food at the restaurant across the airport. We had a late lunch there. The flight took off on time. There were so few passengers. I think there were barely 20 of us in the Airbus back to Manila.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas @ Boracay Day 2

After a quick breakfast, it was off to the beach for the kids. We took the "island hopping" package from the same agent we got the sea walker yesterday. Mom and Les joined us. Nikki wasn't feeling too well so she stayed on shore with Dad and William.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

The supposed 3-hour bangka ride did not go far because of strong waves. December usually has strong waves and the sky is not as bright. There is always an overcast cloud, which is ok I guess since at least we don't need to put on that much sun tan. We went snorkling a bit in one section of the island beyond the former Station 1. After snorkling for about 10 to 15 mins with Les, we came back on board and were greeted by a marshall of some sorts who charged us for some environmental fee.

Then the bangka headed back towards the other direction (the side of the hotel) and went past Discovery Shores. There are several more resorts being constructed there including one supposedly owned by Manny Pacquiao. Then behind the bend is the soon-to-open Shangri-La Boracay. The beach sand there, in my opinion, is not as good as the main area though.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

After lunch, Ethan went to take his nap while Caitlin went to the children center at Discovery Shores. I called home to check on the maids and the house and we were advised by our helper, Didith, that the ceiling in their room has a big leak. We coordinated with our contractor/architect Juni for have someone come over. But being Dec 24 and all, her workers were all on leave. Cols was eventually able to get hold of Eloy, the electrician/plumber, and had him go over to the house and check.

Around 3:30pm, Cols, Les, Mom and I went over to Sea Wind to be entertained by the owner who is a former neighbor from Iloilo. She toured us her place and we had a hearty snack at their restaurant. We were so full that we had no more appetite for dinner. But we accompanied the kids for dinner at the beachfront of Discovery Shores.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

We took the hotel shuttle to D' Mall after dinner. That's the commercial area of Boracay where all the shops are. There's a small ferris wheel in the center area. The folks joined us in a while but Nikki and Les stayed home to rest. Caitlin was pretty sleepy already so after the folks had dinner at Mang Inasal, we called for the shuttle again for pickup.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas @ Boracay Day 1

We woke up early to catch our 9am flight to Kalibo. This being Christmas season and all, we wanted to make sure we won't get stuck with a long queue at the airport terminal. But surprisingly when we got there, the lanes were not congested at all. We took PAL from Terminal 2, while Dad and Nikki took PAL Express via Terminal 3. This is because we availed of our PAL miles last summer, but our trip got cancelled due to the typhoon. So we moved it to December to coincide with the whole Chiang family trip to Boracay.

Caitlin has been excited about going to Boracay the past 2 to 3 weeks. She's been counting down the days to Dec 23. So here we are. Our plane touched down on time at Kalibo and we took a chartered bus to Caticlan ferry terminal. From the terminal, we took a bangka to cross over. Then from the Caticlan terminal, we took a multicab for P250 (rip-off!) to get to Discovery Shores. We got there ahead of Dad's party even though we had to travel a longer distance because their plane left Manila much later.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

We arrived at the hotel around 1pm. Our room was not yet ready so they placed us in a temporary room. But we headed to the restaurant to catch a late lunch. The kids weren't complaining of hunger anyway. The folks arrived about 30 mins later and joined us for lunch.

After lunch, the kids went off to the beach. Cols and I contracted with one of the "agents" walking around the beach offering sports/activities. We went for the "Sea Walker". The guy took us via tricyle for P50 (another rip-off!) to get to the station. As it turned out, the station wasn't that far from our beachfront to begin with. One of the Yellow Cab Pizza outlet is behind that station.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

A motorboat took us to the location of the sea walker platform. A heavy piece of round helmet was put on our heads and it pumped in oxygen, which prevented the water from coming in. We got a quick briefing and jumped down. The walking area is about 20 to 30 feet below sea level. Its a very claustrophobic experience. It was already around 4:30pm and the sky was cloudy so the water below was also kinda dark. There were not much corals in that area and not that much fish either. The guide handed us some bread to break in the fishes. Cols and I had some shots taken by the guide using Les' underwater disposable camera. Just for the guide to take your picture, he'll also charge for the service (tourist trap!).

From Boracay Christmas 2008

For dinner, we walked over to Sea Wind Resort. They were having an eat-all-you-can barbecue buffet by the seaside. After a hearty meal, we had fruit shake smoothies at a popular place called Jonah's. Then headed back home to call it a night.

From Boracay Christmas 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mozcom Christmas Party

Mozcom and Comnet celebrated their Christmas parties separately this year. As far as I can recall, this is the first time that the two sister companies did not have a joint party. Since today's a Thursday, its the CRV's color coding so we only had one car. We scheduled a board meeting at Taipan in the afternoon so I just took a cab from the Peak to Taipan.

I instructed our driver to bring the Altis and park it in the adjacent public carpark at Taipan and just hand over the key to me when he's done servicing Caitlin. I usually park on the big lot between Taipan and Prestige Tower. But the driver had a different idea in mind and parked on the Julia Vargas side. So it took me some time to find where he left the car! Grrr...

The traffic within Ortigas Center was quite heavy. Lots of companies are probably having parties also. It took me about 30 mins just to get from Taipan to Shangrila EDSA Plaza. We were booked at Krocodile Grille. The party was a lot smaller this year because Comnet was not part of it. The three tech guys who played host did well. The motif this year was safari, but as usual, only a handful of people actually dressed up for the occasion.

We were done by around 9pm, I think so I headed home. Cols was simultaneously having a Christmas party with her Fortune Tobacco friends at home. By the time I got home, they were still chatting. Jehan, Carol, Bridgitte, Mar, Ollie, and their respective spouses and kids were there. The party lasted until around 11pm and that's when we called it a day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

First Monday

Its my first Monday to leave home for Makati. Since the Altis is on coding today, I left house the house pretty early at 6:15am to make it to Makati before 7am. I headed to Rockwell Club to workout at the gym. I'm not used to working out this early, but it was actually quite refreshing after the shower. Since the car is still on coding, I took the cab going to The Peak. The cab ride costs about P60 to P70 from Rockwell to The Peak.

Nikki arrived from Canada this morning with Leslie and William. We agreed to meet up for dinner at King Crab in Greenhills. But since I'm on coding, I couldn't leave Makati before 7pm. That was ok since I still had to empty the refrigerator; disconnect the PC; etc. and load everything onto the car.

I got to King Crab at about 7:30pm. The folks and Nikki soon followed. Ethan did not stay long as he was getting sleepy so he went home ahead. William still kinda looked the same from we last saw him. But Nikki assured us that he grew taller. :P

The food at King Crab tonight fell below my expectation. The King Crab rice wasn't as good as before. I think this is the only branch left. Poor control of food quality may have caused other branches (like the one here before in Jupiter St.) to close down.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Microwarehouse Sale

Cols, Caitlin and I came to Rockwell this morning to check what items have still been left behind. Cols also had to do the payroll from here since our LGV house still doesn't have Internet access and the PLDT DSL is still active at Rockwell. We had lunch by the poolside, then Cols and Caitlin went shopping while I went to a warehouse sale.

Microwarehouse, one of the larger distributor of Apple products in the Philippines, held a warehouse sale at Enterprise building along Ayala. It was publicized online, mainly via Facebook contacts. Social networking must be a pretty effective means of communication as there was a big turnout.

I parked quite far away since there's no street parking near Enterprise. I had to walk about 5 blocks, I think to get to Enterprise. To control the crowd, they assigned people numbers and only allowed 50 numbers at a given time. So I had to wait for my turn for about 30 mins, I think.

I initially planned on buying a Linksys (now Cisco) DSL router, but ended up getting a Belkin DSL router + wifi when I came across a former Mozcom employee (Dianne Lee) who is now Belkin's country head for Sales. I also got Cols an iPod nanochromatic since it was on sale at about 17% off. Cols has been dropping hints that she wanted an iPod after test-driving my demo iPod that we borrowed for Fliptunes before.

After I got my items, it was time for the cashier. The line here was ridiculously long and slow moving. I must have been there on that line for a good 2 hours. Luckily, Cols didn't get mad at me for going back to them late since I got her an iPod as my Christmas gift.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our First Blackout

I went back to Rockwell first thing in the morning to meet up with Quickpak for the last batch of boxes to be transferred. The guys came a bit late but we were out of the condo by noontime. So by afternoon, all our stuffs (aka. junks) are now officially at our new house in LGV!

Things went normally until at night, the power went off. At first, I was afraid that something went wrong with our house's (or Meralco's) electrical wiring. But I was reassured when I noticed that the entire neighborhood also had no power.

This was our first blackout for a while. Having lived at Rockwell all these years have spoiled us and left us unprepared for such eventualities. The residential complex's massive backup generator powered us through even the worst power outage in years as brought about by typhoon Milenyo a couple of years back. Caitlin kept complaining about the blackout.

Since we didn't have any backup light, we had to borrow one from Aunt Lucy. The power outage lasted for about half an hour, I think. According to our neighbors, these types of outages are quite rare. Who would have known that we'd be so "lucky" as to experience it just on our 2nd day of living here. :P

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Big Move-In Date

Our movers (Quickpak) arrived around 7:30am. They got a bit delayed because the admin person who needed to sign some gate passes for them was not yet around. They came up to our unit by around 8am and quickly started with their packing. I think there were around 10 packers.

They came with giant rolls of bubble wraps and packing tapes. They looked like they were really used to doing this as they quickly wrapped our 6 years worth of possessions into cartons. In a way, it was kinda sad to see our things leaving Rockwell, which had been our home since we got married. We brought the sofa with us, the huge master bed and the big master entertainment cabinet. It was amazing to see how they figure out how to disassemble it and re-assemble later.

I stayed at Rockwell to oversee the packing while Cols went ahead with the maids to LGV to receive the items. The Quickpak truck was only able to make 2 trips due to the heavy traffic. So several boxes still had to be left for a 3rd trip tomorrow. The important ones (like the bed) made it to the 6pm deadline of LGV for movers.

I left with the 2nd trip after locking the house. I arrived at LGV about the same time as the movers. The movers finished reassembling everything around 9pm to 10pm. We had our first dinner and overnight sleep at our new home tonight.

From Moving Out of Rockwell

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Meeting Arnold @ Petron

We've been moving in some boxes already to our new home in Loyola Grand Villas (LGV) ahead in preparation for the big move-in date tomorrow. We brought the maids to help clean the house already. After the day's work, we decided to just have a quick dinner at the Petron gas station outside the La Vista gate. Cols wanted to eat Jollibee with the household helps. Since I'm not particularly fond of Jollibee meals (the last Chickenjoy lunch I had was pretty disappointing), I went solo for Chowking.

While eating my rice topping, I saw a familiar face walking towards the restroom. It was my old Planet employee Arnold Julio. Last I heard of him, he said he went to UK to work for some telecom-related business. I waved him and we got reacquainted a bit. Seems that he's home for the holidays because of a death in the family. But he's already working for Nortel in a suburb a couple of hours from London. I'm happy to hear that he's doing well there and that his (second?) wife and baby have migrated there along with him.

Pretty amazing and coincidental how we happened to be in the same gas station at the same time. He said he just stopped by to use the restroom and was on his way to his house in Fairview.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cousin Lindsay's Wedding

Cols' cousing Lindsay Go got married today at Mary The Queen church. Caitlin was the flower girl. Its a weekday so I took the afternoon off (although I had a meeting in the morning with Beta, Elvie and Ronald at Taipan). Lindsay's husband (Zhen) flew in from the States and Lindsay will be living there next year.

The blushing bride was blooming on her wedding day. Caitlin tried to hide her missing front tooth by not smiling too much. Samantha (Uncle Peter's daughter) was the other flower girl. Shawn acted up and cried while walking on the aisle prompting Shella to walk down with him. All in all, the wedding was simple, but beautiful. Not very emotional (read: no crying from parents of losing their daughter).

Since the wedding started around 2pm, there was a long lull afterwards before the dinner at Shangrila Makati. The wait was well-rewarded as the sit-down meal was quite heavy starting off with my favorite smoked salmon appetizer of Makati Shang.

From Lindsay's Wedding

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yellow Cab Marikina Christmas Party

After 4 years of being a Yellow Cab Pizza franchisee, Cols and I finally joined our store's Christmas Party. This year's party was held at a small "resort" about 10 mins from Blue Wave called Nemohaven. Its basically a single pool with a small activity area and a room upstairs. Its kinda expensive at around P5k for the use of the facilities for the evening. Amazingly, it actually has a website --

We donated a lechon from Lydia's along Marcos Highway. Other dishes include chicken, vegetables and pasta. The store closed early (around 8pm) to give the staff enough time to clean up and head to the party venue. Everyone was in good spirits and joined the fun and games.

Cols and I stayed until past 11pm. The staff still stayed and swam on the pool. See the photos of the Christmas Party 2008 here.

From YCMK Christmas Party 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

First Party @ LGV

We held a small Christmas Party for our construction workers and contracters at our new house this afternoon. Cols prepared spaghetti, rice, buttered vegetables and chicken. We had about 20 guests which included our architect and general contractor Juni Azachee and her husband Anton, our Interior Decorator Monica Lagman, Arch. Arnold who drew the original house blueprint, our landscaper Noel Metilla, and the actual workers.

Grandma and Grandpa came over to also take part in the merry-making. Ilene, Alvin and Honeylen came to join. Cols rented monoblock tables and chairs for the guests to use at the garden.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Taking Cab Home from Training

I took the cab from Marvin Plaza since our CEH trainings have been finishing quite late. I had the misfortune of getting a cab with a neophyte driver. When I got into the cab, he asked me to give him directions to Rockwell. Ok, fine.

I gave him general directions to get to Makati Avenue. Surely, he would know such a common street. But he missed the intersection and kept going straight along Buendia. So we had to make a turn at Paseo de Roxas, then to Jupiter and back to P. Burgos towards Rockwell. I don't know if he's feigning ignorance just so his taxi meter gets to run longer or whether he's really clueless.

I reached Rockwell with the meter reading more than P100. I refused to pay him the amount because my cab ride the other day was only P70. I reasoned that it was his fault that we had to go farther than usual. I grudgingly paid him P100.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

CEH Training Day 1

Since the training yesterday was postponed due to the holiday, the first day of my CEH training commenced today. There were only two of us students for this class. My classmate is an auditor from ICTSI (a sea port container operator). Our instructor is Mr. John Ang, a certified Microsoft and EC-Council trainor.

The course material is voluminous. Even with 5 full days, we cannot possible cover all modules. So only the major modules (maybe 1/3-rd of the total) will be discussed. The rest is self-study if we are to go for the certification exam.

Meals were included -- that's both lunch, snacks and dinner because we have to do overtime up to 8pm. I just took the cab home since its quite late and we already sent home the driver.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Of Tires and Jolly Green Giants

Today was supposed to be the first day of my Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) training course. But due to some miscommunication, the party that booked my training (Softweb Consulting) was not advised that the training center will be closed due to a holiday (Bonifacio Day, which is normally Nov 30 was moved to the nearest Monday, Dec 1, as per President Arroyo's holiday economics rule). I went to Marvin Plaza but found out the training center was closed. Bummer.

I brought the CRV to the nearby Rapide along Makati Avenue for a new set of tires. All 4 tires are pretty worn out. These are still the original tires from way back in 2002. The normal place where we buy our tires do not have staff today due to the holiday, so we just asked Rapide to match their price and have it done there.

While waiting for the tire change and wheel alignment, I watched Hulk 2008 starring Edward Norton on my portable Sony DVD player at the Rapide office. Its certainly a much better Hulk than the previous attempt by Ang Lee in 2002(?). Marvel's Stan Lee made his usual cameo appearance in the movie as a victim who drank from bottle contaminated with Banner's gamma-poisoined blood.

Having a big, familiar baddie like The Abomination also gave it a feel of a superhero movie. The 2002 Hulk only had the usual military guys running after The Hulk. Tim Roth as the human-before-he-turned-into-Abomination was good except that I thought he looked kinda short compared to the other actors. For a toughie mercenary look, I would imagine they would have gotten someone bigger.

But I guess it did not matter much as he transformed to The Abomination, it was all computer-generated graphics (CG) already. The CG artists took a lot of liberty redefining The Abomination though. He was no longer the web-eared monster wearing spandex trunks like the comic books. :P