Friday, November 30, 2012

Highest Duty: Miracle on the Hudson

Remember the airplane that landed on the Hudson River, New York in 2009?

All 155 passengers and crew on board US Airways 1549 survived the water landing after the A320 hit a flock of birds and lost its 2 engines. In less than 3 minutes, the pilot made a decision to land the plane in the safest spot possible and made Captain Chesley Sullenberger a hero.

I followed the landing on the news and when I saw the video of Capt. Sully's talk in our company's headquarters, I knew this guy has been preparing his entire life to make that historic and heroic landing. You see, the company I work for is BIG on safety, ensuring that all employees stay focus on their jobs and get to go home to their families unscathed. Capt. Sully's leadership and personal commitment to airline safety are very inspiring and that made me decide to buy his biography.

Unfortunately, his book is not, if rarely available, around Glorietta area so on Person A's recent trip to NYC he got me the book. At a heavily discounted price.

Person A mentioned that Strand Bookstore is a book-lover's haven. It has a library vibe and most books are discounted. He said, "You would love it there".

Let me share why you should read this literary piece for entertainment purposes and to learn lessons that you can impart to your colleagues:

1. It is well-written: simple, straight-forward and engaging. It chronicles his life from a little town in Texas and tries to pinpoint the defining moments that equipped him to land the A320 safely on the Hudson.

2. The book reminds me to stay focus and know what are the important things at the moment. In order to execute the landing, he was able to weed out the unnecessary steps and just focus on getting the plane safely on the ground. Similarly, there are a thousand distractions in this world and we just need to learn to focus on what is important and necessary for the moment. Of course, without losing the big picture.

3. I admire the man. He knows what he wants and constantly reinvents himself. From the age of 5, he knows that he wants to be a pilot and so at 16, he was able to get his pilot's license. Then he needs to get a good education so he enrolled at United States Airforce Academy and named Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship in his graduating class. He holds 2 master's degrees. He has a safety consulting company.

4. He's a real person who is devoted to his family.  He has stay married to his wife since the early 1990s and they have 2 adopted daughters. It's a lovely story how they tried to conceive and ended up with 2 daughters who look like them.

Very inspiring. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mactan Quick Getaway

Last weekend, Person A and I stole a quick getaway to Cebu. Stole because we only spent a night in the Queen City of the South but it was a getaway because in the 40 hours we were in town, 70% was spent on the beach while the remaining 30% was spent with family. It was one of the most efficient vacations we've had mainly because we availed of extra cheap airfare, value-for-money hotel stay, we were able to recharge and we get to meet family.

Let me share with you how we managed to be that efficient.

The Carrier: Tiger Airways

Cebu can easily have the most number of flights from Manila, with the 5 well-known carriers flying the route 5 times a day. Tiger Airways , the budget airline from Thailand, started operating in the country and we were able to avail of their initial offer. The airline flies in partnership with Seair. 

All-in, roundtrip flight cost to Cebu with 20kg baggage allowance: PhP 700/person. Tiger Airways operates from NAIA Terminal 4: that's the old domestic airport. They had it renovated but not quite there. There's Seattle's Best though.

We were in Cebu at 6 in the morning.

Left our bags in the hotel and by 7:30 we've traversed the city and found ourselves in Talisay to meet my Aunt. Then we started our way back to Mactan with a brunch stop at an Austrian-themed restaurant.

By 10AM, I received a call from the front desk that our room is ready. We can't contain our excitement.

The Hotel Stay: Shangri-la Mactan Resort and Spa

We looked for the resort map and decided to explore the place. Boy, it was a good mid-day walk. Guaranteed sunog! One of the numerous reasons why you want to pay for a stay in Shangri-la is they got it all for you. 

There's the grand hotel entrance and excellent hotel rooms and amenities if you want the all-out, luxury experience. There's a lush garden with generous walkways if you want a relaxed and family activity filled stay. You can bird watch. 

The center piece of the humongous garden is a pool for babies, toddlers, kids and adults! There's a water slide, playground for the kids, miniature world-renowned tourist sites and a giant chess set.

Yes, I have the King wrapped around my fingers and let me point out that the minions are surrounding the queen-wanna-be. The photo shoot is Person A's idea. He doesn't want to join.

There's a secondary adult pool by the Ocean Wing and since it has an "infinity" view of the sea and lesser number of swimmers (with no kids because it's at least 4ft deep), we prefer to tread and swim in the Ocean Wing pool. It's really relaxing. The photo below is a view of the ocean wing coming from the beach.

There's also the award-winning Chi Spa at the far, right corner of the resort. And there's an expansive golf course. 

Here's a lone tree we fancy taking a picture with. Sariling sikap yan!

As you head out nearer to the sea you will be treated by this view.

So nice, breath taking. For the most part of our stay, we were in this part of the resort.

We lounged by the cabanas. Notice the hearts carved on the path. We sat there for a good time and took photos. That night, the 2 cabanas were set-up for a private, candle-lit dinner by some guests. Sweet.

Strolled and dug our toes in the sand

Lounged by the beach. That's my 2 boys right there. 

Had milk shake 

and pizza by the beach. 

That's what we call "Living the Life".

Service is exceptional. Staff appears discreetly to cater for your needs. May it be a glass of cold water, setting up your lounge chair with those pretty cave-like shades, or fresh towels. 

To my surprise, snorkeling is also a good thing to do in Shangri-La. I have low expectations having snorkeled in Puerto Princesa and El Nido but on Saturday morning when the tide was low, we were able wade, dip our heads and manage to snorkel in thigh-deep water to be greeted by a cacophony of fishes. Like hundreds of them in different species and sizes!

1-ft length parrot fish is not rare! 

I was even sad because before we headed back to Manila, we dropped by Tabo-an and I saw these dried parrot fishes. I was just chasing their kin a few hours earlier.

The only downside is the corals look battered. The hotel can use some rehabilitation program. It's really awesome. There are even clown fishes-anemone patches. The clown fishes are territorial that day and loved to pick a fight with my aqua shoes. You don't need flippers that shallow. 

Another thing we love about the hotel is the lounge. Every night, there's a piano player and a band 

that plays 45-minute sets so it's nice to have coffee, 

surf the internet and engage in a conversation.

And before we forget, the food is also awesome. There at least 4 restaurants: Tides (main buffet), Aqua, the one by the pool, another one by the beach and Cowrie Cove. This is dinner we had from Cowrie Cove, the best seafood chowder we've tried and delicately grilled seafood. 

Then this is what's left of our fare from the breakfast buffet before I thought of taking a picture. Wide selection of Japanese, Chinese, American and Filipino breakfast. It's one of the better Shangri-la selections I've tried. 

While we were dipping in the pool some minutes before check out, Person A and I seriously contemplated on extending our stay. 

Good thing our rational selves kicked in and we were contented on saving up for another trip, hopefully sooner than later.

Showbiz Wedding of the Year

I am sure there are more awww-worthy moments on YouTube, better places and better ways to execute the entire thing but whatever my and your opinions are, this proposal and wedding made a lot of eyes cry, hearts flutter and well, this is one for the books. 

Aminin! Kinilig ka rin, no? Personally, I give Zoren "pipty percent por da epport!"

Random observations:

1. Zoren is one major cheese ball. 
2. Carmina's character shone through her raw expressions. I think she handled the entire thing very well.
3. I am always on the look-out for Kris Aquino's expression. Just because. 


Starbucks 2013 Planner

After breakfast in our new favorite Starbucks (ischoloveley, by the way!)

Person A gave me his Starbucks stickers card to redeem my planner. Hooray, for generous boyfriends! I stopped regularly chugging Starbucks for the calories and the moolah so it's implied that my stickers are way below the 17 stickers required to claim one planner. Secondly, I am not able to maximize the use of the planner. I love to plan and organize but my current gadgets get the job done. So the planners I've been accumulating the past years are just sitting in my desk at home.

Nonetheless, let me share with you why I think this could be the most amazing Starbucks planner to date. For 2012, my favorite is the Seattle's Best planner - which I use as a personal diary.

It comes in 3 colors: black, green and white. I was contemplating between the green and white for the sole reason that the green looks so fresh. However, Person A just commented to stick to the white because it's my favorite color shade, after all.

Here's my white, leather-bound planner.

There's a monthly summary page. This is a winner for me.

A bigger space for daily planning. However, I still prefer a page a day design to capture the important notes I have for the day.

It's more personalized and have these stickies you can use to brighten someone else's day.

There's the traditional freebies coupon which is presented in a more creative way.

And what I love most next to the white cover is the free book mark! A mug of coffee + a book sounds like perfect combination.

And I'd like to end this post with my make out session with the frappuccino before we parted for the day.

We were amazed that it's been a long time since I had one. The past year/s, I always order hot or iced despite craving for a frappe. Again, calories. 

Oh Starbucks, you are always loved.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Love Is...

While driving with a friend one night, she posed a question that caught me off-guard: 

Friend: "Eh Sol, paano ko malalaman kung mahal ko siya?" 

I was so tempted to quickly reply "Basta you'll know" or the slumbook answer: "Love is like a babolgam (bubblegum), kung mupilit, makabuang". Relate much? Though I know deep inside there's a better answer to that. And with the bevy of vehicles trying to cut my way along Ayala, 1 Corinthians 13 crossed my mind... and thus I replied:

Me: "If you can love the person according to 1 Corinthians 13"

So presenting the 15 ways to love. Love is...

1. Patient
2. Kind
3. Without Envy
4.  It is not boastful
5. It is not arrogant 
6. It is not ill-mannered
7. Does not seek its own interest
8. Overcomes anger
9.  Forgets offenses
10.Does not delight in wrong
11. Rejoices in truth
12. Excuses everything
13. Believes all things
14. Hopes al things
15. Endures all things

This to me is the best definition of love. And while we were going through this chapter one day, Person A pointed out to me a line "And when what is perfect comes, everything imperfect will pass away." 

I can't share enough how I love this bible verse.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Donut Love

In 5 days, 3 individuals have told me that my face is getting really small. If you're perplexed, I am a little girl so it follows that I have a small-sized face. However, I will take it a notch higher  by saying that I have an exceptionally small face which I heard, faces this size look okay on television, hence TV personalities tend to have really small faces. Haha! Yabangan na!

Anyway, back to my friends. The first one was a colleague who saw me in the hallway. Another friend commented on my recent Facebook-uploaded photo 

and the last group were Person A's friends who asked him if I embarked on a diet again (or something like that).

I've been maintaining my 2-year lifestyle (run and minimal red meat) and cheating more often. These days, I've been cheating with the donut - which Person A pointed out some years ago - is my favorite. 

In the same 5 day-span, I lined up for an hour to buy my first box of J.Co donut. This photo actually captures 2 professional-looking women fighting over the donuts at the counter. Seriously!??! 

I can't help but order an extra donut and tried it before paying the bill. 

J.Co is soft but I think it's over-rated. I first saw this in Indonesia and was never enticed to try it until I got curious why people line up and fight for it.

Two days later, I had donuts for breakfast. 

Yummy hotel donut!

And lastly, just this lunch I passed by this donut stall after my bank errand.

I shared with my colleagues the donut fight that I witnessed last week and that had me craving for some since yesterday. So today, I seized my dream and ordered chocolate-coated donut.

Ahhh... donut love. I love them so much that I can't help but take a bite before I can even pay or take a picture of them. So consistent of me.

As for my weight, honestly, I am gaining mass. Maybe my fats are turning themselves into muscles (how I wish!) or maybe I am wearing hip-waist-flattering clothes (how I wish, again!) but I think the culprit for my seemingly smaller face is my bangs.

Because the Korean hairstylist and I had a miscommunication. I instructed her to cut my hair instead she gave me bangs.

Of course, I am kidding. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012


My camera died a natural death after some yearssss of documenting what I eat, how I feel and where I go. Maybe it died a glorious death. In death, it refuses to close its "eye" and immortalized itself in this manner.

And so last month, I scoured for the perfect replacement and voila, fresh from the land of laksa, meet S110.

It is the size of a pocket camera but one retailer at Glorietta 5 tags it as a "Professional Point and Shoot".

Say what?

I haven't taken a lot of photos and I haven't read the manual yet but take a look at the photos I snapped of the Ferrari Lego car I built some nights ago.

The Lego pieces.

Step 5.


Finished product on my bed.

Finished product on my desk.

Amazing photo quality, right? It was a toss up between a Panasonic LX5 or the S110 because I need something portable - clutch portable - that is, but takes SLR-quality photos. The 2 have very good reviews but what made me decide to get the S110 over the other is the higher megapixel, better video quality and more compact design.

Here I am exploring more of its function yesterday.

I think I made a good choice.


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