Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Others

Ok, I was supposed to talk about some other things in the last post, but I realized the previous entry has gone on too long (sorry, once I start talking about tennis, I usually don't stop)

So... here are the best of the others:

Best movie I saw this year: Inception.
It had everything, a great concept told in a very entertaining and exciting way, an interesting group of people you could root for, and if that didn't work for you, you could still take it as a great action/heist film with awesome visuals. And that top didn't stop spinning.

Best TV series: I usually just say The Amazing Race here anyway, so I'll just enumerate the 10 runner-ups:
Bones, Criminal Minds, Burn Notice, White Collar, Modern Family, Parks and Recreations, Cougar Town, Community, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Big Bang Theory.
(Note: not that I have a lot of time in my hands, I don't even download any of these via torrents. I just watch these shows whenever I catch them on TV.)

Best line from a TV Show:
"All I ask is one thing... and this is... I'm asking this particularly of young people that watch. Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you. Amazing things will happen. I'm telling you. It's just true. As proof, let's make something amazing happen right now." (goes on to sing Freebird)
Well said, Coco. Well said.

Best Performance in a Movie:
Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl.
*Don't watch if you're under 18 or are otherwise immature or have strong aversion to gore.

Best Viral Video:
I was tempted to give it to the Cebu Pacific's Dancing FA's, but I remembered this one. It was hilarious when I first saw it floating around on Facebook. Still hilarious now.

Top 3 Annoying Facebook Trends:
1. People saying "unlike" when they really mean "dislike".
2. People tagging me on pictures where I'm just a blur in the background.
3. People tagging others on pics of things that they're selling. (Thanks to Jun for reminding me of this!)

Best Fake Twitter Account:

Top 3 Food for Delivery:
1. Shakey's Greek Summer Salad + mojo potatoes with Caesar dressing
2. KFC's California Maki Twister or Hotshots + Choco-Banana Krusher
3. Wendy's Big Classic Burger with cheese

Most Addicting/Time-Wasting Android game:
Sige na nga, Angry Birds. (Air Control and Word Up are the runners-up.)

Best New Restaurant/Food Place:
Bon Chon at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. Saraaap ng chicken wings.


2010 Sports

2010 sports was definitely dominated by the World Cup, and while the teams I rooted for fell by the wayside one by one (France, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands...) Spain was undeniably the best team in South Africa. Of course, in the last few weeks, our own Philippine Azkals also made waves here in Southeast Asia. Maybe it's too soon to think about seeing our boys play in Brazil 2014, but hey, there's nothing wrong in dreaming of seeing them maybe in the next World Cups in Russia and Qatar, right?


Since my blog is tennis-dominated, my year-end sports review will mostly focus on tennis.

Male Player of the Year: Rafael Nadal
Now, you probably know that I'm a die hard Federer fan, but 2010 was Rafa's year. He won 3 of the four grand slam titles, including his first US Open, which put him in the very exclusive group of players who have won all four Grand Slam events.

Female Player of the Year: Kim Clijsters
Caroline Wozniacki may have won the most WTA titles and ended the year as #1, and Serena may have won the most Grand Slam titles among the women, but Kim won two big titles (the US Open and the WTA Year End Championships) and managed to be significant for the better part of the year. So by process of elimination, she's my player of the year.

Saddest News of the Year: Elena Dementieva retires :(
Elena took the tennis world by surprise by announcing her retirement after playing her last match at the WTA Year End Championships, without any hints or advance warning whatsoever. She's had a great career, where she won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing, and ended each year ranked inside the top 10 for about a decade(!) An update on Elena's facebook page earlier today just said that she's been hired as the Vice President of the Russian tennis federation, so it looks like her post-pro tennis career is going to be great.

Match of the Year: Wimbeldon, First Round: John Isner def. Nicolas Mahut, 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(9–7), 7–6(7–3), 70–68
70. 68. Nuff said.

Breakthrough Players of 2010: Petra Kvitova and Ernests Gulbis
Kvitova made the semis of Wimbledon where she made Serena work hard before eventually losing. If she can play in 2011 like she did there at Wimbledon, she could be a contender. There has always been some buzz about the talent that Gulbis has, but it really was only this year that he showed what he can do on the court, which is to beat Federer and take a set of Nadal on clay. Too bad an injury stopped his momentum at the French Open. I was thinking that he was ready to make a serious run to the top 10 during the second half of the year. Maybe in 2011.

Players to watch for 2011: Grigor Dimitrov and Laura Robson
I've been following Dimitrov's career for a couple of years now ever since I heard people calling him Federer Jr, and found out that he was being coached by Roger's previous coach, Peter Lundgren. He has loads of talent, and went on to win 6 ITF titles the past year. He's now knocking on the door of the Top 100, and I expect big things to come from him next year. Robson, like Dimitrov, won the Wimbledon juniors title back in 2007. I saw her playing at the Hopman Cup in Australia last January and was very impressed by what I saw. She played great for a then 15-year old girl. I don't think she'll be breaking into the top 10 in 2011, but it'll definitely be fun seeing her rise up the rankings.

And of course, closer to home, props to our Asian Games gold medalists (all coming from the 3 B's, naturally): Boxing's Rey Saludar, Bowling's Biboy Ramirez, and Billiards' Dennis Orcollo.

At siyempre, kay Manny Pacquiao. :D

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Travels

2010 was another great year for traveling. I mean, I got to travel a lot this year, which is always fantastic.

I made my second trip to Singapore last July in time for the Great Singapore Sale and the quarterly IT Show, and I got to see my BI/DW friends again, which is always great. I also returned to Hong Kong and Macau last November, this time with my new teammates. The weather in Hong Kong and Macau that time was perfect. I was also able to appreciate Macau more this time around since I got to walk along the Historic Centre of Macau (and we got to visit more hotels and casinos too.)

I attended three destination weddings this year. Two of the weddings were held in Baguio (Victory Liner's deluxe buses are awesome, as is the PNKY bed and breakfast), and the third one was in Iloilo (where our airfare was only around 300 pesos, roundtrip! Thanks, CebuPac.) It was my first time in Iloilo, and I stuffed myself with La Paz Batchoy from Ted's and Deco's, and oysters and other seafood in Tatoys and Smallville. I also got to see the Miag-Ao Church, which is just a beautiful structure.

After the Iloilo wedding, we went Guimaras to see the beaches and eat mangoes. Guimaras is a very scenic place and the mangoes I brought back to Manila were the yummiest mangoes I've ever eaten.

The highlight of my traveling year was definitely Batanes. I've been wanting to go to Batanes for several years now, and this year, the trip finally happened. And Batanes definitely didn't disappoint (even considering that the end of our trip was ruined by a typhoon that made a direct hit on the islands and left us stranded in Basco for 3 days.) Batanes is just absolutely stunning, and the people in Batanes were nothing short of kind and welcoming. The Ivatans definitely embody that hospitable trait we Pinoys love to bandy about when promoting Philippine tourism.

Batanes is right up there with Coron and El Nido as the best places I've ever visited in the Philippines. Scratch that. The world.

hellgod_13’s Charts

So here goes the start of my year-end lists.

According to Last.fm, these are my most listened-to songs of the past 12 months.

hellgod_13’s Charts – Users at Last.fm:
1
13
2
11
2
11
4
10
4
10
4
10
4
10
4
10
4
10
4
10
Not even one song here was released within the last 3 years, LOL... but I'm blaming this on the Last.fm scrobbler plugin not working on my laptop (plus me doing most of my music listening through my trusty, 3.75-year old Creative ZVM)

But if I had to choose a song that really made an impact to me this year, it's this gem by Up Dharma Down. (Alright, I know this song wasn't released this year either, but bear with me)
Something about this song (the *brilliant* lyrics, the smooth melody, Armi's incredible voice, Carlos, Pol and Ean's tight playing, the witty original video) and something about the things that happened the past year just *clicked* in an incredibly affecting way. The above video was taken from Up Dharma Down's live performance during the last few days of NU 107's existence (tear...)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Happened in December

This December has been a pretty hectic month (as it is for everyone, I guess.)

The Hong Kong-Macau trip at the end of November with my teammates was fun, but it also meant I had some catching up to do at work as soon as I got back. Once December came though, the company Christmas parties came one after the other. First was the company-wide party/charity fundraiser at PTTC beside the Manila World Trade Center (it was originally supposed to be at the Megatent in Ortigas, but was moved to PTTC less than a week from the event because of some, uh, trouble? in Megatent.) Next, there was my team's planning session/team building/holiday party at the really nice Punta de Fabian resort in Baras, Rizal. It also served as our farewell party for our teammate Mel, who's leaving to take up her Masters in Australia.


In between those two events, I went up to Baguio to attend Karon and Wayne's wedding. This was the third destination-wedding-care-of-former-teammates that I attended this year, after Camille and Marlon's Baguio wedding and Mich and James' Iloilo wedding. Baguio at this time of the year is just so nice. The weather, the food and the sights are awesome, and of course, Wayne and Karon's wedding was really nice too (the food was GREAT!)

Congratulations, Karon and Wayne!

After that, there was the AMG (our group) year-ender party at the New World Hotel, where everyone was dressed well, and the food was great and the party was nice. It's probably the best HP party without alcoholic drinks I've been to (because for some reason, alcoholic drinks aren't allowed at official company parties anymore, effectively killing any chances of the HP Beer Bash ever coming back... Boooooo!)

And that's why a day away from Christmas eve, I'm still not done buying Christmas gifts for my godkids and housemates. (Actually, it's really because I'm not a big fan of Christmas shopping and I'm a lazy shopper... but why say that when you can claim to be busy attending parties?)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Woof For the Azkals

After Manny's epic win over the bigger Margarito last month, we have another awesome news for Philippine sports with our Philippine football team, the Azkals, making it to the semis of the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time in the tournaments history.


Our boys successfully made it through the qualifying rounds (because we have a low world ranking), and then went unbeaten in the round robin stage by drawing against Singapore, beating defending champion Vietnam 2-0 (upset of the tournament!), and then playing to another draw against Myanmar. Of course, Southeast Asian football is definitely just a small pond in the football ocean, but there was a time a few years ago when our team was getting beaten 7-nil or 13-1 by our neighbors. Those days are over and our team is improving quickly!

Hopefully, now that the Azkals have shown what they're capable of, the Philippine Football Federation and our government's sports institutions will start providing support to the team so that they could reach their full potential.

Seriously, I can just imagine how awesome and exciting it would be to root for our team in the next World Cup (kahit sa qualifiers lang :p) Let's go Azkals! Woof!














Oo, Neil Etheridge, ikaw na ang magaling na goalkeeper!


Next on my sports wishlist: Our Davis Cup team making it the World Group!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Year

It's been almost a year since I posted this. Sadly, both issues are still unresolved.


The problems we have regarding reproductive health remains unaddressed, and worse, the anti-RH "advocates" seem to be getting more ignorant about the issue while at the same time becoming more aggressive in their advocacy. What a dangerous combination.

Justice is still elusive for the victims of the massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. I remember the overwhelming emotions that people had when this heinous crime came to our knowledge. Today marks the anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre. I hope we don't see another Nov 23 like last year's in our country's history, and I hope we won't have to wait another year before justice is finally served.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gujab, Manny!

Gujab, Manny.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Numb Left Arm

Ok, I got a huge scare when I woke up yesterday morning. My left arm was completely numb. I couldn't move it at all, not even a twitch of a finger! I tried holding it and slapping it with my right hand but I couldn't feel a thing, it was like my right hand was hitting an inanimate object. Then, I lifted my left arm up with my right hand, but it just fell straight down. That really, really, really freaked me out. I tried slapping my upper arm until the feeling went back again and after about a minute, I started to get the pins-and-needle-pricking sensation on my arm and I was finally able to move my left arm again.


Then, earlier this evening, I met up with my college friends to have dinner at ROC in UP Bahay ng Alumni (good food, but they have very small servings). I told them the story, and then Joan told me a similar story about someone who had numb arms too. It turns out the man (who was in his late 50's) had a mild stroke. And yeah, was. So as soon as I got back home (after having some great desserts at Wicked Kitchen, where Gluttony and Sloth rocks!), I googled about getting numb arms while sleeping, and most results seem to say that it's a common problem caused by a compressed peripheral nerve. So I guess there's no reason to panic just yet and I'll just wait if it happens again before checking with a doctor.

I just thought I'd blog about this so that just in case something bad (or worse) happens to me, I've got it documented.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A New Wilson

I just bought a new tennis racket:


Let's just hope this won't end up like the time I signed up for our company-sponsored gym membership, but never actually went to the gym except for those two times when I spent 10 minutes on the treadmill.

I've got 2 other tennis rackets here at the house (a purple Wilson and a green Prince), but I haven't touched them in about 6(??!?) years (actually, I have touched them, when I play shadow tennis, but I guess that doesn't really count.) I decided to buy a new one since a tennis group has been established at our office, and I'm not sure if the old rackets would still hold up, since I've used them since I was around 11.

I'm thinking of taking lessons again, since my serve was pretty shitty the last time I played. I serve using an old school technique, where my right foot lands on the ground first, just like Karol Kucera. It's the only way I can make the serve go in on the ad court. My 2-handed backhand was better than my forehand, but both shots probably suck now. I loved practicing my volleys, but I never really learned how to hit a slice, a drop shot, or a lob. I would probably need to learn those things since I'm not sure if the brainless baseline bashing and bludgeon-your-opponents-to-submission tactic would actually be possible for me to do.

Anyone up for a hit in Las Pinas? :-)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Watermelons!

Now that I've seen the premiere episode of The Amazing Race, and it looks like that lady turned out okay... I can finally admit that I was laughing my ass off after watching this scene. Multiple times.


So here's what I tweeted as I was watching the team intros. First impressions:
  • Home TV Shopping Hosts: Annoying.
  • 8months Dating Couple: Will fight a lot.
  • Beach Volleyball Teammates: Woot!
  • Ivy League Acapella Singers: Good voices, stop singing.
  • Doctors: Double WOOT!
  • TeamJumba: Dad's hilarious.
  • Tattooed Couple: On the fence.
  • Theater dudes: Not theatrical enough.
  • Outspoken Douche Couple: Yeah...
  • Dad/Daughter: Thick accents.
  • RH Poster Girls: They just met.
This turned out to be a very likable cast, except for the blonde Home TV Shopping Host, who wouldn't stop talking and talking and talking and seems to just be generally self-centered and rude. Even the self-proclaimed aggro dudes from the dating couples weren't that bad. (Thomas, the self-proclaimed outspoken douche, was even polite at times.) The tattooed couple were HEE-larious. I was rooting for them to not be last just so they could bring in the unintentional laughs in the next episodes. It was fun to see the theater dudes get lost in England after boasting of their superior navigational skills and Bachelor and Master's degrees. I liked the Parent-Child teams too. The dad from TeamJumba is funny, and the Dad/Daughter team are pretty endearing.

I'm rooting for two FF teams though - the Doctors, who are most probably smart and can work well under pressure, and the Beach Volleyball teammates, who look athletic enough to last on the race, and seem to have cutthroat-bitchy personalities hiding underneath, which I like on TAR teams.

Next week: Teams head to Ghana! (I think.) Should give Tattooed couple lots of opportunities to bumble around.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

US Open Catch Up

I have some catching up to do.

Rafael Nadal completes his collection of grand slam trophies by taking his first ever US Open title, after he defeated Novak Djokovic, who remains a one-slam wonder. Kim Clijsters increases her US Open title count to 3 by beating Vera Zvonareva, who is suddenly a 2-time grand slam finalist after also reaching the finals earlier at Wimbledon.

I was predicting a Roger win, since he usually does so well at the US Open (5 straight wins followed by a finalist showing last year), but he didn't play up to his level in the semi against Novak. On the women's side, I predicted a Caroline Wozniacki-Victoria Azarenka final, with Vika taking the win, since they both played so well on the US hardcourt tournaments right before the US Open. But Vika fainted during her second round match (due to a mild concussion she sustained before the match), while Caro was upset by Vera in the semis after decimating the draw from the 1st round to the quarterfinal (with an impressive win over Maria Sharapova.) Oh well... Maybe the blonde BFFs can take the grand slam rivalry at next year's US Open.

Meanwhile, Rafa has a rare chance to hold all four grand slam titles if he wins at the Australian Open. The last player to do that was Serena Williams, last 2002-2003. With his new serve, Fed on the "bonus stage" of his career, and contemporaries Djokovic and Murray unable to consistently contend at grand slams, looks like he's got a good chance to do so.

Congrats, Kim and Rafa!

Other winners:
  • The Bryan Brothers, Mike and Bob, won the men's doubles over India/Pakistan's Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi
  • Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova and American Vania King won the women's doubles, their second consecutive grand slam doubles title
  • Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan won the mixed doubles
  • On the juniors side, American Jack Sock won the boys title and Russian Daria Gavrilova won the girls title.
  • Shingo Kuneida won the men's wheelchair event, while Esther Vergeer won the women's wheelchair title. Vergeer's records will put Roger's to shame. She has been unbeaten since 2003, and is currently on a 394-match winning streak.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why I Love Traveling The Philippines, II

Second day of our Batanes trip.

We took the early morning 30-min faluwa ride (traditional Ivatan boat) to Sabtang Island. Upon arriving, we had breakfast near the Sabtang port. Our first stop after finishing our breakfast was the village of Savidug, where most houses were made from the traditional coral stones. Our next stop was Chavayan, but before heading there, our guides took us to Lime beach, the place where Ivatans baked coral stones so that they could use them to build the walls of their homes. This practice isn't being done anymore though.

After that, we passed by one of the most beautiful sights in Batanes. We were riding on the topload of our jeep, so we had a great view of the green fields that looked just like The Shire. It was hard to take a good picture since we were on top of a moving vehicle, but the place is really, really beautiful. I seriously wouldn't be surprised if I saw hobbits living there. Hell, I could live there :p


I think the theme for the day was overload of beautiful sights, because after seeing that place, our guide dropped us off on the Chamantad-Tinyan viewpoint. This is probably the most incredible view I've ever seen in my life. The green, rolling hills bordered by dramatic stony cliffs leading sharply down a cove to the clear blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. The beach was lined by white sand and rocks that were being pounded by splashing waves. My pictures don't do it justice.

We finally reached Chavayan. Chavayan is a beautiful village filled with traditional stone houses on a backdrop of green-covered rock formations and hills. Chavayan is such a charmingly quaint village. We went to a house that sold traditonal weaved products, and took a pitstop on a small plaza where we drank some fresh buko juice served by a bolo-carrying lola. Apparently her father, Lolo Marcelo, is the oldest man in Batanes at 104, so she invited us to meet him. She also invited us to see their kitchen, which was used for a Nescafe ad.


After Chavayan, we went back past to Centro to Nakabuang beach, where we had lobster, lapu-lapu and adobo for lunch. After lunch, we just enjoyed the beach and taking pictures of the Nakabuang arch. The waves were pretty strong so we just waded around, and we were all pretty burnt by that time so we didn't stay long, which was good since it turned out the falowa going back to Batan island was already waiting for us, along with about a dozen other passengers.


Sabtang Island, in summary, was just unbelievably amazing.

Why I Love Traveling The Philippines


Batanes. There's really nothing else to say other than it is an incredibly breathtaking place made even more beautiful by its very nice and friendly people.

Mia, Kian, Ish, Geebee, Chrissy and I booked our tickets last February/March when Seair had a sale on its Batanes flights. We've seen nothing but good pictures and heard nothing but great things about Batanes, so we were all excited for it, even if the trip wasn't gonna happen until six months later.

So, six months later...

We started our Batanes trip by exploring the northern part of Batan island. For the second day, we headed to Sabtang island, which just completely amazed me. The 3rd day of our trip was spent going around the southern part of Batan island. The 4th day, Kian and Ish climbed to the top Mt. Iraya despite the heavy rains, while the rest of us were stuck in our hotel rooms because of it. The 5th day, we were supposed to go home, but Ester rained it all out. Instead we just stayed at our room watching Here Comes The Bride (hiliarious) and taking a short walk around the town, which was supposed to celebrate its town fiesta (Ester completely rained it out too. Not hilarious.) We spent about 5 hours of the 6th day waiting at the airport, since we were chance passengers on the two Seair flights. Only four seats were available for the six of us on the 2nd flight to Manila, so Kian and I ended up staying behind. So we just walked and biked around Batan island the rest of the time there since we were running short of money. We finally got home by Day 8.

Batan Island

The sights of nothern Batan island is very subtle. The beautiful rolling hills covered by the greenest of grasses, a church and a hotel made of stone, wide green fields parted by hedges, rock formations that were used as fortresses in the old times, a beach covered by huge boulders instead of the typical white sand, a lighthouse that provides you with stunning views of the sea and the hills and the cliffs and the setting sun... This part of the island doesn't pound you in the head with its amazing beauty, it doesn't insist itself the way other touristy places do, you know what I mean? It's very charming, and polite, if you can use that to describe a place. But don't mistake it for something else, because it's breathtaking nonetheless.


Now, the southern part of the island is nothing but subtle, with its amazing blue lagoon and Rakuh-A-Payaman (more popularly known to tourists as the Marlboro country), the cliff by the coastal road in Imnajbu, and the postcard-perfect Mahatao Lighthouse. The places we saw here were all just begging to be photographed.

See what I mean?