Sunday, February 21, 2010

Traveling and Budgeting

Funny how last January, I was complaining about not having enough trips planned yet for the year. Fast forward to now, and I've got Boracay, Baguio, Singapore, Iloilo and Guimaras, Batanes, and Baguio all lined up.

Woot! Cheers to airline promos! Ubos na naman ang pera ko!

The Iloilo (with a planned sidetrip to Guimaras) and two Baguio trips are actually for weddings of friends/current & former officemates (Mich and James, Marlon and Camille, and Karon and Wayne), so those are pretty much planned out. The Iloilo flight is probably the cheapest flight I've ever paid for at 300 pesos (round trip!!!) from Cebu Pacific. And Guimaras is less than an hour's boat ride from Iloilo City, so that trip is definitely a steal. Baguio is a 7-hour bus ride, so we actually haven't planned those ones yet.

Last January when Cebu Pac had another seat sale, I was asking (a.k.a. begging) my office friends to go to Bohol/Singapore with me, but not enough people bit the offer for various different reasons... So when we heard that another team in the office was going to Boracay for their team building activity, Pat, Mats & Becca, Rommel, and I decided to tag along with them (we're crashing in on the other team's team building trip since they found discounted PAL flights and cheap accommodations there. LOL.)

And then last week, my college/office friend Mia was planning for a Singapore trip and found discounted flights on Singapore Airlines, so when she told me about it and found that an IT Fair and the Great Singapore Sale was going to happen around the same dates of the trip, and Mike confirmed that Universal Studios SG is now open, I jumped in on it too. We're planning on just crashing at our former officemates/currently Singapore-based friends' apartment to save on costs. Thanks for not objecting to our planned invasion, Ben, Jyue, Mike and Geebee!

Finally, we've been planning/trying to plan a trip to Batanes for several months now. We even have a discussion on Google Wave for it (because we're dripping with technogeeky hipster coolness as it is. Heh.), but found most travel options either too expensive (14k + on Seair, or a chartered flight from Tuguegarao), or too um, hardcore (boat from Curimao, Ilocos Norte, anyone?) So when Seair released their promo fares in time for this year's Philippine Travel Expo, we were finally able to finalize the dates of the trip. Woohoo!

So... now I really have to work hard to stay on my monthly budget (also: I guess now have to start setting a monthly budget) and reduce unnecessary expenses. As a first step, magce-Century Tuna at Ligo Sardines na lang ako araw-araw.

Also, kailangang humanap ng role na malaki ang on-call pay.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Era of Roger/Serena

Roger Federer won his 4th Australian Open, and 16th grand slam title overall, after beating Andy Murray in dominant form, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(13-11). Roger played great tennis in the semis vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and carried that form through to the finals. Murray just couldn't find any openings to break down Roger's game. And honestly, when Roger is playing his best (or close to his best), Murray's best just isn't gonna be good enough on the day. So with Rafa struggling with a knee injury, will this be Roger's year to win THE grand slam? We'll just have to see. One down, three to go.

Better luck next time other Andy, at least you didn't bawl your eyes out like last year's losing finalist.

The women's final ended with Serena Williams winning her 5th Australian Open title and 12th singles grand slam title (She also won her 11th doubles grand slam title with Ate Venus) by beating Justine Henin in 3 sets. Serena is slowly inching her way to the Steffi Graf/Martina Navratilova/Chris Evert group of Best Ever. She's gonna have to survive Justine's return from retirement to get close to the 22/18/18 grand slams that the 3 aforementioned legends have won.

Justine made an impressive comeback at Brisbane on the first week of January, where she lost a brilliant final to fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters. She then followed that up by making the Grand Slam final in only her 2nd tournament after more than a year off of tennis. She couldn't quite replicate Kim's run at the US Open (and Serena fortunately didn't have a line judge-related meltdown too), but with a more aggressive game and the same Allez-screaming, fist pumping, never-say-die attitude, Justine will probably add a few more grand slams to the 7 she already has.

Also, big props to:
1. The Chinese ladies Jie Zheng and Li na who both made it to the semifinals. This is the first time that two Chinese players (heck, two Asians) ever made it to the semifinals of a grand slam.
2. Croat Marin Cilic, who survived several 5 set matches against Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Roddick to reach his first grand slam semifinal. Cilic is having a great year so far. He has played in two other tournaments besides the Australian Open, and won both of them.
3. Blonde Eastern Europeans - Maria Kirilenko, who followed up her upset win over the other Maria by making it all the way to her first grand slam quarterfinals, and Victoria Azarenka, who made her first Aussie Open quarterfinals and had a 6-4, 4-0 lead over Serena before succumbing to an avalanche of Serena's aces and winners.

*pictures courtesy of the Australian Open website/Getty Images