Saturday, December 25, 2010

The poignant music: John Boswell's Festival of the Heart

It was in 1994 when I first discovered this album by instrumentalist John Boswell (a year after it's release). I had become a fan since his album Count Me In that featured a beautiful song "Do it as a friend" that he co-wrote with actor Robert Downey Jr. So I plopped the disc in not really knowing what to expect save for the knowledge that it was a Christmas-themed album. All I can say is that it has become a staple of the season's music for me ever since. I've recommended this to quite a few people and they've come away feeling the same. That you can almost feel the snow fall on your head, that winter chill and a warm cup of coffee by the fireplace. The giddiness and cheer that the season brings. I remember playing this during one White Christmas and it made the moment all the more poignant. I previously mentioned this in the11-11pages and should have done so at the start of the Christmas season.  This is something that tugs at the heart.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Overheard at the Greenhills tiangge 12/24

I thought that the Christmas season is a time to be jolly. As I went to the Greenhills tiangge to buy stuff, I came across these Holiday scrooges and whiners:

Woman to husband: Wala bang mura dito?

They should have locked up this guy in a bank
Guy to his girlfriend: We should have never come to this place! Now I have no more money!

Take advantage why don't you?
Tourist to tindera: No. No. No. (it seems that the saleslady marked up the price for him). You're selling it to me at PhP800 but your sign says PhP300! You think I can't read?

One saucy biatch Fil-Am:
Girl: All they have are fakes! 

When these gangster-types come up to me and say, "DVD. DVD." I reply, "Gusto mo bumili?" Snicker . Snicker.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Boss!

Happy Birthday to my longtime boss Meckoy Quiogue! In our Gatorade group, there are five Ateneans but Abelle Lacuesta was a no-show for the surprise party. But here are the Fantastic Four from left to right: Oz Arcilla, MPQ, Ton Gatmaitan, and me. Lots of hidden talents among my officemates. Sure was fun.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An unexpected reunion and rootbeer floats saving our soul

This is Lola (yes, she jokes everyone all the time that she's a grandma owing to here name). She was our liaison officer when I was with Smart Gilas Pilipinas in our FIBA Asia Challenge Cup stint in Jakarta two years ago. When the Azkals paid a visit to Balay Pinoy, the guest house of the Philippine Consulate in Jakarta, we were surprised to see each other there (she works there and now hopes to take up her masteral studies in either Ateneo or UP). Nice reunion! And to the Embassy people, thanks for the Mongolian food. It was a nice change of food for us all.

After our Balay Pinoy lunch, the whole team went to Mangga Dua for some crappy shopping. So me and old bud Mark Zambrano went to have this noodle type thing they call Mie Ayam (see the menu below). It was real good. There were lots of people eating at the store so we figured out we'd try it too. Then we washed the whole thing down with an A&W Rootbeer Float! Rootbeer floats rule! Mark and I used to work together at Solar Sports where we became good friends (aside from the fact that we both went to the same school) and it sure was nice to catch up and have fun! You know what song was running through my mind as we were having that rootbeer float? The Pixies' "Monkey Go to Heaven." Love that song!

Now take a gander at this vehicle which is their version of a tricycle. No way am I or Mark Zambrano or any of the Azkals' taller players going to fit in this. If we do, it's gonna be murder on our knees! Still it was amusing though.

Traffic was horrible. Took us an hour and a half to get back to our hotel. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Delinquent passports & no free wifi. Traveling with the Philippine National Men's Football Team in Jakarta, Indonesia

I was supposed to leave with the Philippine National Men's Football Team last Tuesday night for Jakarta but I was not allowed on board due to my passport having validity for under six months (it had five months and a day left). I was planning on getting a new passport but we had to leave for Indonesia. It was so disappointing to not be able to leave and so much uncertainty about getting an extension that I couldn't sleep the night before. I spent several hours at the DFA getting my extension of the validity that I was unable to write anything. To compound matters, someone cancelled my flight. Barely an hour after I managed to re-book my flight with no incurred fees shit happened again. I swear it was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right. Luckily, I was able to seek the help of PFF interim president Nonong Araneta whose travel agency was able to get me a new ticket. Guess the good karma rolled around coz it was a business class seat! That was a real cool ending.

This is our room at the Sultan Jakarta. I am sharing a room with fellow writers Cedelf Tupas (Inquirer) and Abac Cordero (Star). There's no free wifi anywhere in this hotel. An hour's worth whether you consume it or not will expire in six hours. Twelve hours' worth of wifi is valid for 24 hours from the moment you use the card! What highway robbery this is!

But we have a great view of the surrounding area and we're 10 minutes walking distance to the Bung Karno Stadium. I've been to Indonesia several times before and every time it's been for work. There are times when I've been able to go around but not too much. I hope to look around for a spell on my third day back here.

Some food I ordered at the Bung Karno while covering the match on twitter and for Business Mirror.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nam Dinh, Vietnam

We left Hanoi past 8am and arrived in this rustic provincial city southeast of Vietnam's capital. This is a rural area out here. Rice paddies and all. What I noticed right away here in this country is how patriotic people are. I see a lot of houses and buildings with the flag of Vietnam hanging from a pole or a window. What pride! While at Saigon, I got to see some of those Russian Hind helicopter gunships and those weapons of destruction look so different when you're in front of one instead of watching them on television or in a movie. In Hanoi and on the way to Nam Dinh, we passed by T-72 battle tanks and a mothballed Mig. I've been wanting to buy those war helmets the Vietnamese Army uses but I wonder what I'd do with them back in Manila.

Sorry. Military buff here.

Nam Dinh is closer to China and from December to February, it's winter weather. Mercifully, I brought my jacket with me coz no way am I going to survive the cold without one. Winter after all, is setting in. And luckily, I've got my Yankees beanie too.

This city was the birthplace of Trang Durng Dao who twice defeated the barbarian hordes of Mongolian conqueror Kublai Khan. He is Vietnam's first national hero (if I remember that correctly). 

Walked around the city streets and if you're looking for restaurants maybe not in this part of town (we're at the Vihoang Hotel along Nguyen Du Street). It's got lots of coffee shops though. Interesting. I stopped counting at 15.

Here's what I ordered -- black coffee with condensed milk. If you want to dilute its strength, add some water or ice (for an iced coffee version).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Free day @ Hanoi's Latin Quarter

Free day today. Except of course for the media officer who still had to file his story. There was a press conference at 10am for the upcoming RP-Myanmar match. Then after lunch we all went shopping in the Latin Quarter. Wish I went to the tomb of Ho Chi Minh. We passed by but did not go down. I've always been a history buff and if there was time, money, and an interpreter, I'd go visit those famous battlegrounds like Dien Bien Phu.

I wanted to try this bit of food but I was afraid I'd get left behind by our tour bus. So I snapped a pic of it instead. Lotsa people trying this out. Tourists even.

Just had to take these pictures. Was using my digital camera. Wish I had a better one.

No bargaining? Hahaha. I was able to haggle VD 75,000 off one bag. Am kinda good at that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walking the streets of Hanoi

I know that the streets in Hanoi can be somewhat chaotic. In fact, we witnessed an accident this afternoon (no one got hurt thankfully). But I could live in a place like this. Me just riding about with a Vespa. Hahaha. There are times that it reminds me of Macau and at times Bangkok. But it's still unique. I can't imagine going around without someone who speaks the language. What am I looking for? A Vietnamese football kit. That's what. Or something uniquely Vietnam. Will go around again. Their flag looks pretty cool though.

Does the wine suck?

Man fishing by the riverside at dusk.

Friday, December 3, 2010

As a media officer for the national football team to the 2010 Suzuki Cup in Hanoi, Vietnam

Am currently in Vietnam covering the 2010 Suzuki Cup Final Rounds (Group B -- Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, and the Philippines). We're here in Hanoi for nine days (Dec.1-9) and I'm ecstatic about being here as the media officer for the National Team (my new assignment). It's my first time here and I wish I could really go out and explore. But you need an interpreter to go with you and someone who knows the area or else because of the language barrier, you could get lost. But it seems beautiful and maybe tomorrow morning, I'll do a little exploration. In the pic above, am wearing the photographer's bib that allows me to shoot pics from behind the A-boards and the goals. We can't move around during the game and can only switch during the half. As Media Officer, I have an all-access pass throughout the grounds including the locker rooms. Cool ain't it? But when I'm at the Sheraton Hotel, I constantly prep stories to send back to media friends back home.
After the 1-1 draw with Singapore, I got interviewed by Vietnam News TV about the match, Vietnam, the frenzied atmosphere in the stadium and our upcoming match vs Vietnam. I was quite surprised when I was asked. I was up in the fourth floor media center watching the Vietnam-Myanmar match when I was approached. Why not, eh? Sure is fun.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A millionaire even for just a moment

Only in Vietnam can I be a millionaire even if only for a minute (unless I'm rather frugal when it comes to expenses). I don't advise changing money at the airport because it's always lower. Plus it's always good to ask around. But I needed it because I had to take an airport limo to the hotel. A hundred US bucks netted me Vietnamese Dong 1,948,000! But it cost me VD 600,000! Talk about being taken for a ride!