Sunday, August 29, 2010


Two things I like about business travel:

1) Flying - I love the thought of being in an airplane, it's a synthetic Superman fetish of flying. I am, at birth, an air elysian, a lover of a wind element, lofty by attitude, humble by amplitude. I like seeing things from above. In fact, I always had my plane seat arranged at the window. The sound of a plane struggling a turbulence of flight path is music to my ear, and makes me think, "hah, you're in my universe. I am Shu, holder of the sky, god of air." Under the thick wind rushing through my face, it's as if nature is revering me.

2) Luxury Hotels - hotels actually vary in terms of service portfolio. Some have more wellness services, some have loyalty rewards system, some even have more bars to hop for gimmick nights, some don't have them all except for a welcoming brand of customer service, and what-have-you. One thing I love about being a gallivanter is the fact that I can avail and maximize any of the hotel's amenity and package inclusions. I am a cheapskate and I am a sucker for anything free, hehehe.(Or marketed as free).

Well, a breakfast buffet is a de facto standard. Since I don't swim, I don't find the Olympian-sized, neon-lighted pool to be a remarkable sight other than the long arrays of food to choose from at their flagship restaurant buffet section.

Hotels that would astutely suit to my senses should have an ambiance akin to Europe's or US finest. I am not asking for a Waldorf-Astoria or Hotel de Crillon but should be cozy enough for me to focus myself from the work at hand without thinking that I am far from my business resource at the office.

Wifi is a give-away. Speedy wifi is an amenity. There's a difference between the two especially if you're the kind of business traveller who uploads most of his reports from business travel to the office's servers, via VPN or wifi channel alone.

I travel light and easy, so tendency is I don't bring much clothes. And with that, chances are whatever clothes I wore during my ingress might be the same set of clothes I wear on my egress. So hotel's in-house Dry Cleaning services must be impeccable, fast, and reliable.

Mabuhay Lounge wiFi

I always have a niggling feeling that PAL flights always get delayed because they have a quite dubious history at it. In fact, their history of being a non-stickler of time has been a source of other competitor airline's marketing campaign slash brand positioning, while for others, a source of laughing stock and mockery.

And as an iota of proof, if this blog is completed, that means that I have all the time in this damn world waiting for my damn plane. Oh yeah, I'm in Mabuhay Lounge now, wifi-eing to my heart's delight and reviewing the scientific journals for my presentation at the Manila Planetarium while waiting for my boarding readiness.

Good enough that their wifi speed is satisfactorily speedy, and best of all it's free, otherwise, I would have been killed with utter boredom. Or rather left off by reading offline files, e.g., Scientific American magazine in pdf.

Airports nowadays placed dedicated laptop stations where people can saunter around, Skype their friends and family, and shout out Facebook wall. There's nothing like a cool amenity than wifi as it bridges digital divide from the main highway to the information super highway.

The lounge is huge enough to accommodate several laptop station at every strategic gate clusters.

For those who are not lugging around laptops, ebook readers, or any electronic files(from their cellphone), I'd suggest you bring yourself a nice hearty read novel. That will ease away the discomfort of waiting, at least for some part.

Now time to catch my plane.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Munch and Mobile Away

Lately I mentioned about the office folks' fun fat-burning challenge. Although I refuse to be a contingent, I myself have sworn from the masters of the universe that I will shed down unwanted flabs in the belly and ultimately make myself fit and formed in the process.

So passing along the arrays of restaurants, I was wishing I can grab non-rice based menu. I bumped along one nicely-lit interior. You know how a moth gets attracted to light?

I was ushered into a dimension of Superman-Pigs at the The Flying Pig and ordered their burger as an escape route to elude from rice intake. Or so I thought. The burger ends up two for one single order. Buy one, take one. Along with the burger comes potato chips and a basket of garlic bread. You get full at a garlic bread alone. At the end of the meal I realized that I am merely exercising futility as my inclination to burn fat rendered useless with two burgers in one setting.

The Flying Pig serves no less than pork burgers, so you just can imagine how cholesterol cosset compounded on my belly.

The Flying Pig is a diversion from the main man's "brandishing seafood typecast". The man I was referring to was Raymund Magdaluyo, the same man who forged restaurants chains like Red Crab and Seafood Club, Blu Fish Coastal Cooking, Crustacia, Paloma, Heaven 'n Eggs, Cocorama, Clawdaddy Crabhouse, American Grill, Hula Hula Seafood and Barbecue House, Blackbeard's Seafood Island, The Red Crab, Sumo-Sam, and Texas Smoke 'Em.

One thing that enamored me to choose this restaurant is their conspicuous display of flying oinkers hanging in their wall paintings and in some nooks of their interiors. Kudos to the well-defined, well-decided concept.

I've been to almost all of Raymund's restaurants and The Flying Pig is one that I can consider to be a comfort food. Oh yeah, I never like the tedious unveiling of the meats inside crabs and lobsters served by his other restaurants. Delicious but it was never fun. I don't have the luxury of time and my time is not bent on spending it that way.

The Flying Pig, I think, is a French-American bistro type with an all-meat niche concept, as simple as munch and go mobile.

Oh, I hear one oinker saying "swine and dine, and be mine." Toink :0)

Comic-Con Pinoy Version?

When I was a little kid, I always dream of possessing superpowers of my favorite superheroes, and there's a long list of them, from Superman nonetheless to Batman's richness to AstroBoy's technest. I used to stack myself a pile of comics where I surreptitiously read during night time before bed. Some of them are comic books from collectible merchants. While some are only seen through expos and convergence like Comic-Con.

Just recently me and some friends hit with what we presumed to be a bit like a Comic-Con. For those who had been sleepyheads, a Comic-Con is an expo where superheroes exhibit their fine and formidable powers to their rabid fans via the proliferation of life-size(sometimes larger than life) statues and comic book writers displaying their creative geniuses. Unluckily, Comic-Con International is held in the US(San Diego, California to be exact) and we never had one in our shore.

Thank goodness this small-scale exhibit is the closest to what a Comic-Con is, although it's still way behind in terms of coverage, featured programs, exhibit highlights and buzzwords. Seen in the pic is Patricia who possesses our combined guts to pose with the boy Astro. Nice one Patring.

But this collectible sale is enough for me to relive my affinity to my favorite superheroes. Among them were the ones being showcased here. I was looking for my humongous Hulk but he's not there. Maybe because it was too heavy and unrealistic for these comic book dealers to carry him there.

Had I been one of the superheroes I aspired myself to be when I was a little kid, I would have the ultimate edge of mobility, Superman's power of flight(no mention of X-ray vision), Flash's blistering speed, Green Lantern's wish ring, AstroBoy's butt canon, Spiderman's tensile strength web, and Batman's toys-for-the-big boys.

However those were merely figments of imaginations concocted by the minds of these comic book writers and artists. Truth be told, they have been an inspiration as well to my scientific quest of truth: the truth behind going beyond human potential, cell regeneration, mutation, force field, nanotechnology, molecular shifting, psionic beams, and strength beyond requisite mass, etc.

And while most adored dreaming it, I might just stay in touch with science and the development of the new breed of human race. I am not a genetic engineer, but an engineer nevertheless, one who can fully understand the quantum physics of things.

Creative Juices at Work

One formative reasons why I grab a Mac is to be able to stir in a mobile computer a creative juice complimented with an adequate horsepower and applications and ultimately churn out great pieces of digital artwork.

A bit late for feature blogging though, just a few months back I was commissioned to create a menu for a sports bar for Chef Liezl of Philippine Airlines. She is about to put up a soccer-themed bar at the Bonifacio High Street, The Fort and at Madrigal Business Park, Ayala Center Cebu.

I also helped out in the proliferation of the brand concept, being a marketing practioner myself, and it turned out to be a way ahead of the time. Way ahead since there aren't any soccer-specific bars out there. There are numerous sports bar but no sports specialization.

Months after that came the FIFA madness and everybody was rooting on their favorite country of origin and contingent favorites. That FIFA-craze is what I plotted as a central-hosted event once the bar opens.

The bar, catering to sports fanatics and some office folks nearby, is figured to be a thriving sports bar and restaurant operation known for its delectable blend of sportive spirit and sumptuous hearty American-Italian meal. It's a place where soccer enthusiasts celebrates stadium victories beyond stadium confines, and for amateurs to display their vigorous stardom-quality with friends. Indeed, San Siro Sports Bar's core competency is anchored through fulfilling all known gastronomic goodness that nourish sportsman's appetite, serving on big platters and beers. In the completion, they hope to usher a good after-sports ambiance for sportsmen and spectators-alike, celebrating game and gourmet in just one setting.

During one of our brain-draining brand management discussion, they ask as to why I have chosen San Siro as its name and why the menu is themed after Italian and American soccer players. My modest answer:

"Italians and Americans are one of the best soccer breeds in the world, topping in the chart with leading scores of the major league. San Siro, now known as Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, seats the most fans and hosted global highlights in the soccer arena. It is a stadium where champions celebrate. It is where the creme de la creme meet and match, the blending of the best, the amalgamation of the supreme. It is where triumphs are told.

And what else could be better than the epitome of the best Italian and American cuisine fused into one house of mouth-watering goodness. San Siro's menus are based on the best soccer players in the Italian and American league(e.g., David Beckham and Andrea Pirlo)."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Delimiters of Mobility

One must know the horses in his stable for him to win the race. Just as one must know the cars in his barn to get him to places.

Yes, cars have been the forerunner of our mobile lifestyle. It is the very workhorse that leads us to any of our pre-determined destination.

Cars have been the bourgeois of our freedom. The time of the industrial revolution in the US marks the capital ventures of cars as a necessary means of transport and a subsequent decline of public railway system. The urban proletariat received such a welcoming air with open arms. They can now travel to places far and wide, be it business or pleasure.

To date, almost an entire Filipino family has at least two transportation. Despite our ever squeaking garage space, we never stop acquiring car as our delimiter of mobility. The individual car ownership offers more than just a giant leap of opportunity, the freedom to go where and when you want. That was the same freedom 'undreamt of' of the early working class of earlier generation. Indeed, for a person learning to drive is a major break from the stifling restrictions of the family and first step to adulthood.

Each car owner has to go extra mile for the maintenance of their cars. That is a classic example of technology enslaving mankind. Almost every corner of our society lies a fairly competent auto mechanic but nothing suits better than having to know our car's condition first hand. A car owner to his car and a car to a mechanic is just like a parent to a child and child to a doctor.

As a common American dictum says " when GM(General Motors) sneezes, America catches cold."

It spells a broad range of economic linkages that had become entirely dependent on car condition to such that it has evolved to be a mobility indicator of its own right.

Before the mobile internet and laptop, a car is the primordial soup to mankind's mobility. And just as any gadget which has a distinguishing mark of our identity and uniqueness, we dream of cars that would extend that very same character that we are or aspire to become. Here comes auto-detailing and car set-up and design.

The cars in your barn, in one way or another, speaks very highly of what you are as a person. Seen in the pic are the cars in our now crampy garage with my brother standing.

You, what have you cars exclaimed of you as an owner.

Curtain Call

Our beloved Mac comrade just opened a new restaurant and we were lucky to be the very first marauders during the maiden launch. I, on the far-end of the table at the pic, am enjoying so much.

Charlie, the owner Digital Hub, a retail chain of Mac products just recently unveiled another ardor of his business genius via the launch of a Ramen restaurant.

Serving authentic Japanese ramen is not as simple as it sounds. We were toured around into the inner sanctum of the preparation processes where we are briefed a 'crash course 'on how tedious a ramen is prepared, and they prepared it in-house, they don't have a commissary for it. Even as simple as a hard boiled egg takes two days to prep before it swims into your ramen soup. The ingredients are served fresh and the taste is exquisite. Service is a grandeur. Large bowls are champion to the stomach.

This is not a typical run-of-the mill Ramen haven. Authenticity is the key. Ramens are served just right. With a perfect quality and quantity combination, this is definitely a hit in the metro scene.

The interior is a high-ceiling edifice with good lighting to commensurate a pleasurable dining intimacy. The logo nicely lit-up on the wall seemed like a call for a bowl-for-bowl experience.

The day after the soft-launch, the place so jampacked with people, the lengthy lines of people outside waiting for their turn is reminiscent to that of a "Max's Chicken-All-You-Can" fervor. Not that I am equating the quality with Max's but the thick flow of people and a surprising market reception is exhilaratingly unexpected.

This is the cheapest option than going to Tokyo and trying out their local sub-urban ramen.

Curtain call was a staggering success.

Charlie and the Burger Factory

I hit the Ortigas road with Charlie's Grind and Grill delectable burger.

I was on my way to meeting some friends at Everything at Steak when, out of unsuspected reason, the meeting was cancelled. The rain was what I perceive to be the arch-culprit.

But never was my route wasted as I stopped by Charlie's Grind and Grill. Oh yeah, the Black Angus burger served with fries as their apex of specialization was what I engorged to the lats bite. You can add smoked bacons if you want.

Charlie's Grind and Grill is a brainchild of Chef Rob Goco, the same chef who concocted and ultimately beefed up the menu at Cyma, one of metro's fine dining fusion cuisine.

Not only do they serve pound-for-pound goodness burgers, they also dished cheese steaks and the spanking hot buffalo wings. Cheese Steak is a must-try. The scrumptious combination of ranchero sauce and Cheese Whiz makes it an ultimate American comfort food.

They used to thrive at Pasig at the back of some urban car spa but they invaded other metropolitan section with the establishment of their Ortigas branch.

Same as their Pasig branch, the interior concept of Ortigas branch is almost an exact copy. Elegantly designed, well-lit, and two big screen LCD TVs hanging in the wall to further delight your dining experience.

This hole-in-the-wall category dining haven might not be mainstream yet(I love non-mainstream restaurants as they are not yet severely commercialized) but this has resonated its market reception quite well.

….Another case of "to-where-my-MacBook-Pro-and-camera-took-me" blog.

Next time, I'll order a Panko Crusted Deep Fried Cheese-stuffed Portabello Mushroom Black Angus.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blending the foodie trend

My pals at the office are launching a smear campaign and a weight-loss challenge called "Biggest Loser Winner". This is very timely industry-wise. In that challenge, one has to lose 10lbs within a month's time. Those who can't reach the quota will have to pay Php2,000. The pot money will have to be partaken by those who are able to successfully unload unwanted fats and compounding cholesterols up to 10lbs or more. I dread that the pot money will be used to fill in the deprived longing for smorgasbord meals. Haha.

Timely I should say as par as food industry is concerned. have you ever noticed that the latest trend among the foodie revolution nowadays is shifting towards a healthy diet? With the myriad of fitness-related events like takbo etc. , Manila's prandial folks are now super-wary about their health statistics. The intake will have to be in the healthier side, be it veggie-loaded meals, light and easy ready-to-drinks, or yogurt-replaced dessert, every pound of calorie will have to be measured depending on the body's need.

I, for one, have to give up some explicit sweetness in life. Instead of stuffing my gastric-tank with a pint of Haagen Dazs, I now have to lay low on yogurts. And as a nutritious measure, I may have to visit yogurt(non-powdered) houses more often.

Although I didn't join the barricade of losing 10lbs with my colleagues because of the upcoming town fiesta, birthday invitations, baby showers, and foodie adventures brewing my schedule, I may have to lose a bit of pounds in the long run.

For those who won't be able to join the office's fat marauding, you can go with me on our "underground restaurant" adventure, starting off with the Chinese Restaurant With No Name in Rockwell. Legend has it that they serve spicy Hunan cuisine and that freshly-migrated Chinese locals are frequenting the place.

And for those who doesn't really know what I am talking about, "underground restaurants" are basically non-mainstream, usually offsite resto's that serve niche entrees, authentic to certain taste and race.

.... Because being healthy is a definite plus to one's mobility.

Mobile Library

There's a war out there in the mobile library devices. And it's imminent. The war between ebook readers. This war seem like a war waged by PDAs late 1990's until middle of 2000. The war waned as time passes by, and PDA companies were forced to halt production lines out of declared losses and weak market reception. People's need for mobility mutated through the advent of hybrid phone with integrated PIM functionality.

Will this be the same fate our stand-alone eBook readers soon be marching on? The deathmarch? Knowing that one can have similar function from their laptops, or more appropriately, from their notebooks?

eBook Readers or "eReaders," as tech nomenclature calls it, is aimed at a very mature market(age notwithstanding) of rabid readers who want to bring the entire library with them in digital format.

Almost all consumer electronics manufacturers have their own of this pie. And although they have been in the market since the start of the PDA era(remember Franklin eBook Reader?), there has been numerous missing features among them. Most notably, a compatibility issue with one another in terms of ebook functions such as synchronization capabilities, especially for the last pages read, notes, highlights, bookmarks in ebooks, web bookmarks, web history, and a lot more.

Given all the supported formats(EPUB, PDB, PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3, etc), I'd still go for the Barnes&Noble's Nook because of its connectivity options that not only limit to wifi but 3G as well. Amazon's Kindle has 3G and wifi combo too but it's not touch technology-implemented. Others are touch screen devices like BeBook Neo but no connectivity combo. One feature of the Nook that stood out from the other breed of eReaders is its ability to lend books to others. Meaning, just by using Barnes&Noble's eReader software, you can send books to other devices like PC, Mac, iPod Touch, or iPhone. You can loan a book for 14days, and for the period of the loan, you won't be able to access the book on your device. I also like the Nook of the Nook more than the aesthetics of its competitors.

Do I need to compare Nook with Apple pad? Their market seemed to cross the line but iPad is primarily intended as an entertainment tablet more than a device with excellent reading experience.

I just wish iPad can share ebooks too just what the Nook does. Or every library for that matter. In the end, this war is jostled and won by consumer preference, which will vary for that matter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Qoola coolah

It seems like I am magnetized at every angle by anything Canadian. My favorite coffee shop too is Canadian-based. And lately, in my frenzied search for a feel-good cold dessert, I am lured to yogurt cafes instead of the hardcore gourmet coffee shops.

I am been to almost every yogurt houses and chill out joints, from Yogurt Nation to Red Mango, from Golden Spoon to Cold Spoon, from Tutti Frutti to California Berry.

Yet, nothing really sashayed my 'diabetically'-roused, sweet glands than the blissful taste at Qoola's yogurt in variety of flavors. Nothing to fear, I should say. Afterall yogurt is a healthier option than sundaes and ice creams.

Qoola is a Canadian-sprung yogurt chain hitting the metro, weening their flagship fresh-frozen yogurt with natural ingredients and all its probity and goodness.

They currently have four based flavors, raspberry, original, banana something and a chocolate something. Of course, I didn't pay attention to other dispensers since my heart was throbbing for the green tea, which they don't have at the moment. So I opted for the original variant instead. Although one can always ask for a free taste, in which the very accommodating staff will not deprive you with, I am so bent already on getting the original if I can't get the tangy green tea.

I chose all-natural toppings to go with it, mango, strawberry and kiwi. That makes my yogurt topped in three pirme colors, green, red, and yellow.

This place has been a frequent afternoon pilgrim of me and my friends but for scrimpy reason, I never bothered to blog on it. Until now. Now that I am alone, relishing the week-end afternoon amidst the drizzle of rain.

As always, one cardinal feature of a restaurant or cafe for me is the ambiance. And I can fairly say that the ambiance is warm and vibrant. Transparent chairs, comfortably cushioned seats in white leather, and minimalist design makes the interior stylish and young. I like the embellished Japanese inspired wood bars crossing the monotony of the window and glass view.

Not only do I find the ambiance lavishly inviting, they have free wifi as well. And I am writing this blog as it happens. Everyone need not feel alone if they're hooked up with wifi, as they can Skype their hearts out with friends.

Locals and ex-pats converge in this place where entree crosses cultural boundaries.

Saunter along with me with life-changing talk over a feel-good doze of yogurt.


Band of bothers unite for almost a decade of solitary, single-handed life's stride.

Lately my brother's condo has been forcibly opened, a known vicious drill by thieves and thugs alike in the metro, reportedly middle-class men in their twenties. And it was to my knowledge recently that some condo suffered such a malevolent attack.

Accordingly three units of that same condo where my brother was staying at suffered the same fate.

The disheartening scenario was that, since these men are, by economic stratification, in their middle class, they have more or less an access to lawyers and they can pay bail, which I suppose is not that financially debilitating.

My brother's MacBook Pro(serial number W8842H221AX), passport with US Visa, and some few cash in dollar currency were taken. Come to think of it, both our dollar bills are casually seating in the comfort of our homes, and it never occurred to us to open a dollar account.

So he was forced to find one with a bit of heightened security implementation. He has chosen Cityland Tower 8, newly constructed with relatively newer facilities. Not that they have an impeccable record of less crimes but it was, I think, way better than his previous condo.

We went into visit the place and although not yet ornamentally arranged and internally kept as he just moved in, it was better and not mentioning cheaper since his rental includes association dues and other onerous fees in meager fraction.

High-rise and towering over the metroplis, the unit comes with a swimming pool and a gym, usual amenity of a urban-based condominium.

Me and our younger brother came to the place, surveyed around, and were more than glad to vouch for it.

Rooftop is such a view to relax, chill out some glass of Cabernet Sauvignon-type wine, gaze around the starry night, the bedazzling cityscape and the glistening Manila bay front.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who is Salt

After having read some of the Vince Flynn(whom I fondly regard as young Clancy) books, my affinity to espionage had once again surge into fervor burning.

Lately, with some of my dear 'friendly friends'(not that I have bitchy friends), we hit the silverscreen with Angelina Jolie's latest movie. Our expectation has been relatively low since in this economic impecuniousness, some award-winning actors and actresses suffered from waning movies(remember Wanted by same actress Jolie?)

But this time however, I should say that this movie packed certain goodness in terms of plot twisting and storyline divergence. There are some inconsistencies in the movie of course, like how frailty Salt was when trying to elude the speeding cars in the highway, but ended up single-handedly braving 200-300 pound men and knocking them off unconscious. Also, lakes in the US are freezing cold that any topnotch Russian spy may not be able to survive hypothermia. But hey, that's what movies are for, to exaggerate and at times bend reality.

I am not a Butch Francisco on movie review but I can fairly say that this may pack a 4 star rating. And where else would we watch it than at the cinema where unlimited supply of popcorn abound a La-Z-boy comfort of Ultra 7.

Some folks over at GMA7(where I live near at) said that this movie ought to be a role for Tom Cruise but he preferred to take on Knight&Day instead.

While I think it was a good decision for the producers to get Jolie coming from her wide range of action-film experience as Lara Croft and the assassin from Wanted, it was also understandable for Cruise to reject the role outright as that might be associated by the audience as 'nothing more than a rehash of Ethan Hunt' in Mission Impossible franchise.

This movie seemed like a directorial job of Pierre Morel(Taken and From Paris with Love) but with less emotional ardor. But this one is an artistry of Philip Noyce, same director who brought The Bone Collector and The Saint.

Overall, this packed hard-hitting action from beginning to end, a must-watch spy movie.

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