Sunday, January 27, 2008

Miguel's 2nd bday Jollibee Sienna 27jan08

I don't know what is it about Jollibee that makes every child in us jump with glee and hug the beejeezums out of the foam filled mascot. Never mind that we know that a poor Jollibee employee is sweating inside the suit. Never mind that the costume is soiled with ice cream smudges of childrens' fingerprints and according to Kiko, smells like socks. It's still Jollibee.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cost Center NIghtmare

I currently have/had a project which was 3 years in the making. I came up with it as early as 2005 and only got the approval to proceed last year.

The reason why it took so long was the cost. The service provider gave me a quote of $10K to do the project (this was down from $20K). My boss pushed me to come up with the figures and present it to the head of the business for approval. I made my presentation and got his nod to proceed.

I was so overjoyed when it was approved. No more late nights for my people and the controls embedded in the program will eliminate, if not, decrease errors.

I submitted the signed approval to the provider and it was returned to me late last year as I have to get the approval of the head of the whole business as well as the business finance manager. Ok, fine. But since they were on leave, I was only able to accomplish this last Monday.

However, I was not able to indicate who's cost center it will be charged to. I asked my boss and she said it should be under the business head's cost. I went to the business head and he said, it should be under our cost. I went back to my manager who disagreed and said that it should be under the business head's cost center. Again, the business head disagreed. So I went back to my old boss and she then said that since we've transferred divisions, my new boss should approve it. Of course, my new boss was not in the loop before and was surprised that he was suddenly being charged $10K. With payback not in the same year and with a tight budget, he refused and I am now forced to cancel my project (which fortunately is only in the preliminary stages of data gathering).

For my readers who are not familiar with the corporate setting, you might have difficulty understanding what happened. But basically, I am so frustrated and discouraged. Sobrang sumama ang loob ko at naiyak ako sa sobrang inis. Because of that I left the office early. I told one of the team leaders to stay until the final upload to watch over the team and do some last minute sign-offs.

I'm ok with what I do right now. I like managing and leading a team. Somehow, it's times like these that really make me think twice on why I put up with it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mandarine Spa

Leo and I "discovered" a nice spa (Mandarine Spa) which was recommended to us by my father-in-law. Being the spa-addicts that we are, we readily tried out the place and was pleasantly surprised. Their foot reflexology service really hits the spot.

When you enter the reception area, they serve you tea with plum. They bring you then to this enclosed area with really comfortable seats. They make you change into a provided pajama sets. After you've changed, you soak your feet into these wooden tubs half-filled with hot (but tolerable--depends on your threshold for pain) water. While your feet happily soak, they give you a back massage (they use their elbows and arms).

Once you've been massaged and your feet are thoroughly soaked, they make you lie back on the comfy seats, put your feet up and give your feet a nice reflexology massage. During this time, I was already asleep (hopefully, not snoring).

The massage lasts for an hour and and 30 minutes (I think) and costs only P480 (tip not included). Not bad considering the service and the ambiance.

Unfortunately, for those in the North, you have to go all the way to Alabang to indulge. Their shop is located at Casa Susana beside Alabang Town Center. Their phone number is 809-6108.

Leo and I have visited them for 2 consecutive weeks already. We'll probably be regulars from now on.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

January Weddings

This month is full of weddings--well relatively.

My hubby and I were invited to the wedding of a former boss. However, as the invitation arrived quite late, we made plans already and were unable to go. If I knew about it earlier, I would've gone. Instead, we had lunch at my father's house in Makati. We gave them our pasalubongs from Bangkok.

Yesterday, we attended the wedding of my one-down. He has been planning this wedding for less than a year and he's so excited over it. He obviously loves his girlfriend (now wife) very much. The wedding was held at Manila Cathedral with the reception at Ibarra's.

The beautiful bride was crying as she walked down the aisle. I remarked that I did not cry during my own walk. Actually, in our wedding, I was on the verge of crying while waiting outside the church. However, when the giant wooden doors of St. James opened and I saw all the flashing cameras and people looking at me, the tears just stopped. I just concentrated on smiling.

The reception was fun to watch--especially the garter and bouquet "tossing" tradition. One of our male officers (who happens to be gay), was roped into the garter ceremony. He got the garter and one of the female officers got the bouquet. It was hilarious watching his reactions to the whole thing.

At the end of the month will be the wedding of one of our friends in Mandaluyong. She has also been planning this wedding for a year. Good luck!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

2008 Personal Projects

In lieu of new year resolutions, here are my 2008 Personal Projects:

1. Eat healthier
Every year, I always note down as #1 is to lose weight. Somehow, I've figured out that to lose weight I would either need to: go to the gym, find a sport or go on a diet. Thinking about it, my gym days are over and I don't have time to find a sport. Diet is also not my cup of tea so I decided to just eat healthier. My husband is into it so hopefully, I'll be influenced by his food choices.

2. Get a non-prof driver's license
As I mentioned in my previous posts, I'm dependent on the driver to bring me to the shuttle terminal every morning and for him to pick me up at night. I'm also dependent on the shuttle schedules which prevents me from going home the time I want. Hopefully when I get my license, I can bring the car to work and go home anytime I want.

3. Go back to school
I still have 2 subjects (6 units) to go before I can take my OCE. Leo already graduated this year and I hope to follow his footsteps.

4. Have a laser eye surgery
This has always been on my list. I don't know if this is possible though considering the cost. Nevertheless, it's still in my to-do list.

5. Visit my mom and sister in the US
And other relatives too. My husband and I are planning to visit the US later this year just in time for my sister to give birth. I would want to see my new niece/nephew as I'm sure it will be a long time next I will see him/her.

6. Go to Disneyland
When I went to the US when I was 11 years old, that was I told the consul when I was applying for a VISA. Unfortunately, I was not able to go and my dream to visit Mickey Mouse land was never realized. Hopefully this year, we can do this.

7. Visit another place in the country
We managed to visit Palawan in 2007 for our honeymoon. Hopefully we can go to Cebu or some other province one of the long weekends. Probably Boracay too. Leo has not been there and it was a LOOONG time ago since I've been there.

8. Finish our photo albums and scrapbooks
I have this one big chest full of pictures that I want to put into an album or scrapbook but have not the time to make it happen. Maybe this year.

9. Regularly visit my doctor
I was supposed to return to my doctor on October last year but was not able to go. I just returned this morning--two months after my schedule. Hopefully I'll be able to stick to the schedule.

10. Celebrate our first year wedding anniversary
Not as extravagant as our wedding--just something to commemorate the event. Leo and I have not decided what we'll do or where we'll go but hopefully it will be something memorable.

A New Year

Ever since I started my blogsite, I made it a habit of writing down my Personal Projects for the year and posting it on the sidebar. It's a permanent reminder for me on what I would want to do for the year. So far, it helped.

Last year, I managed to mark out 6 out of the 10 items noted down. Not bad. A 60% achievement rate is more than what I've expected. Considering last year was the worst, yet best year of my life.

Worst because I hit rock bottom with my worklife. I never realized I could feel that way with my work. I finally found my way out and have moved on. As the saying goes, when you've hit rock bottom, there's no way to go but up.

My paternal grandparents also passed away, four months away from each other. I also visited funeral parlors to pay my respects and condole with different families almost every other month. That's a record for me considering in the past, it's already an anomaly if I visit a wake more than once a year.

I also had a major operation wherein they had to take out my swollen appendix. The cost of the operation alone is enough to buy a second hand car (to think I only stayed for a day).

All those things were put aside though by one life changing event that happened this year on September 1--I got married to the man I love. A lot of friends also got pregnant and gave birth. Together with the deaths comes the baby boom. The circle of life in full effect.

Work-wise, I returned to my old unit where it began to feel like home. I moved on and hopefully, I've learned my lesson.

Hopefully 2008 will be better than 2007. I'm beginning to feel hopeful.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Shop Til You Drop - Our Bangkok Adventure Day 4

Being our last day, Leo wanted to check out another mall at Central Chidlom.

We had our last breakfast at the hotel, checked out early and left our bags with the concierge. We took a few pictures of our hotel and of our surroundings.

The second picture was taken at the overpass near our hotel. You can't believe that this street will be full of cars by mid-afternoon. A New Year's countdown party is scheduled to happen that night in front of Centralworld.

We then walked towards Central Chidlom. As the malls don't open til 10AM, we waited at a nearby Burger King.

Central Chidlom is like Rustan's (although I like Rustan's better). We bought more pasalubongs and Leo bought more stuff. We went around for an hour and returned to Big C to have an early lunch at KFC as we will be picked up at noon by the van which will bring us to the airport.

The airport looks beautiful in the daylight. It looks so imposing when you drive towards it. It's design lets in a lot of natural light. They also have nice set-ups inside where you can take pictures.

(note the shoes. This was the shoes I bought in Siam. Such a comfortable pair).

This set-up, if I remember it correctly, was near the entrance and check-in counters.

Speaking of check-in counters, it's really different compared to our NAIA. They have hundreds of check-in counters all over the place. And the counter was already open when we arrived.

After checking-in, we went through immigration and customs and walked towards our gate. The airport is actually a mall extension. Lots of brand shops going to the gates. It also helps that they have a walkalator.

Our flight was thankfully on time. We left Bangkok at 305PM and arrived in Manila 715PM. We were home by 9PM. Just in time for the fireworks.

Bangkok was a wonderful experience. Too bad we did not have enough time to go out of the city to see the floating market or experience Chatuchak. Or even Phuket! Maybe in the future.

Until my next travelogue.

Shop Til You Drop - Our Bangkok Adventure Day 3

As we had no scheduled tour the next day, we were in no pressure to wake up early. Nevertheless, we were up at 630AM. We planned to go to Health Land Spa at Sathorn Silom and avail of the world-renowned Thai massage.

We finished breakfast by 830AM and Leo being the every-boyscout that he is, managed to find out how to get to Health Land by just taking the Skytrain. So we walked to the Ratchadamri station, got on the Silom line and we got off at the Su Ra Sak station. We backtracked where we found the spa--still closed but with a line already. We were the fourth pair to be there.

Fortunately, the receptionist speaks English so we were able to book a couple's Thai massage for 450baht each for two hours (not bad) with no problem at all. We were made to change into slippers, pajamas and a loose top. We also had our own room. The massage was really heavenly. I remember dozing off and being so relaxed.

Thai massage is not for the weak hearted or those with a low threshold for pain. It's a combination of pressure and strokes and the massage is also dry (which I prefer. I hate the oily feeling after a massage).

After our massage, we decided to go to Siam Center and check out the malls there. When we got a cab, I asked the driver if he knows the Standard Chartered branch at Silom. I wanted to take a picture of myself outside the branch and fortunately, the branch was just around the corner. I jumped out and posed beside the big sign with Leo taking my picture. I felt like I was part of the Amazing Race Asia. Hehe.

When we finally got to the Siam, I was so overwhelmed by all the branded/signature stores that I saw: Gucci, Chanel, Balenciaga, Valentino, Kenzo, Hermès, Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Chloè, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry and Salvatore Ferragamo (wala halos lahat nito sa Pilipinas!). After ogling at the bags and shoes (I did not dare enter the store. I felt so out of place), we found our way to the food court where we had lunch at a little restaurant called Homework. Leo said that he read about it and the food is good and the review is very much correct.

We walked around some more and saw that they have their own ocean's world underneath the mall. However, Leo opted not to go inside as he wanted to use our baht to buy other stuff. So I just contented myself by posing beside the sign (while eating my my Haagen Dazs dulce de leche ice cream)

I also bought some books at Kinokuniya Bookstore. Found some books that are not yet distributed here (new book of Linda Howard and Julie Garwood).

From Siam Paragon, we walked to Siam Center and then to Siam Discovery. My feet were really hurting so I gave up and bought rubber shoes at New Balance. Was I so thankful that I did. We had a banana split at Swensen before going back to MBK which was just right across the street.

Upon entering MBK, I saw this stationary shop where I went gaga over the designs. I had to stop myself from buying one design of each. Yes, I still buy stationary as I have a friend who only corresponds through pen and paper. I oblige her as I love writing and receiving mails (and I love buying statio too. There was a time that I went through a Papemelroti stage where all of my statio was only Papemel).

We walked around more where I found and bought 2 jeans that fit me nicely and a couple of blouses. Leo bought more shirts.

After that exhausting walk, we got on the National Stadium station, got off at Siam and caught a train at the Sukhumvit line where we got off at Chidlom station. We checked out another mall (Gaysorn--another luxury mall--Christian Dior, Fendi and Louis Vuitton) and went back to the hotel where we rested again.

We then went to the Super C Mall where we had an unsatisfying dinner at a small eatery. I was still hungry so I had a gogo sandwhich at a nearby KFC (yeah, sue me). We then walked to Centralworld where we went malling again. This time, we discovered the Arsenal merchandise shop which Leo excitedly entered but did not buy anything (even if I offered to pay for it).

I succumbed to temptation and had my last Haagen Dazs ice cream. I reasoned that all the walking burned off the calories that I had from all the ice cream eating that I did. As it was technically our last night there, we stayed out late and went back to the hotel at 9PM (yeah, that's late for us).

Shop Til You Drop - Our Bangkok Adventure Day 2

Since we were going to be picked up at 8AM, Leo set our alarms at 6AM. Not contented with our two alarms, he had the front desk give us a wake up call as well. When the alarms went off, he woke me up and told me to take a shower first. I don't know why I had to go first but I didn't argue (after all, I was so cranky with him the night before).

After a hearty breakfast, we were still early so we walked out a bit. This was what we saw:

CentralWorld, according to Wikipedia, is the largest shopping center in Southeast Asia (was this written prior to the opening of Mall of Asia?). I would agree on it being big though. Lots of brands too (Leo went gaga over the Arsenal merchandise shop. More on that later).

As promised, Ping Pong picked us up at 815. Reason for him being late was that he had to pick up another Filipino family checked in at the Amari Hotel who will join us in our half day city tour.

Our first top was the Wat Hua Lam Phong temple (I think). Nothing special about it except it's really beautiful.

The red platform behind us is where the monks  meditate. In fact, no one is allowed on that platform
except for the monks.

It's very spacious outside.  There are buddha images outside as well as bells which will bring you luck if you ring them (which I did).

After this temple, we went to Wai Trimit where the Golden Buddha is located.  This buddha image was constructed during the Sukothai period and weighs 5 1/2 tons of pure gold. It used to be encased in cement but during the 1950's when it was being moved, a chunk fell off and they saw that it was gold underneath. It was said that the image was coated with cement to prevent the invaders from stealing it from the temple.

There were a lot of European tourists in the area. Heck, there were a lot of tourists.Period.

From this temple, we went to a jewelry factory where Leo bought me a pair of earrings (blue topaz, amethyst and citrine) and after that, we went to a leather factory where I bought a wallet for Leo.

After the very exhausting tour, we went to a Thai restaurant (Chon Ngern Chon Thong) where we had lunch. It's where I realized that I'm not really partial to Thai food (I just don't get the spicy sour soup). Leo loves it though.

We then asked that we be dropped off at MBK (Mah Boon Krong) Shopping Centre. It's one of Bangkok's famous malls. Actually, I see it as one big bazaar. 7 big floors of merchandise. Leo bought jeans, rubber shoes and shirts on our first foray.

By mid-afternoon, I was beginning to feel the lack of sleep and was getting all grumpy. I asked Leo that we take a cab back to the hotel as my feet was killing me too. We readily found a cab but when it encountered traffic, he let us off at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club and said that we can walk the rest of the way. We thought that it was nearby but apparently, it's quite far. I don't know how far it was in meters but it felt like we were walking for 30 minutes.

By the time we got to the hotel, my feet have died. I quickly changed into my Havaianas (muwah muwah muwah) and after resting for an hour, we went to CentralWorld. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant up at the grocery and I found the rice cracker wrapped in seaweed snack that I'm so fond of (low cal! baked not fried!).

I also had my 1st cup of Haagen Dazs (at 2 scoops each!) Dulce de Leche ice cream at Central World. Prior to that, I had a Blizzard at Dairy Queen while we were at MBK. Speaking of which, I noticed that Thais love spicy food. Maybe to offset the spice, they have ice cream at every corner. They have so many Haagen Dazs, Swensen, Dairy Queen and Baskin and Robbins branches! I just had to taste them all. :)

Since we both lacked sleep, we went back to the hotel at around 8PM. I soaked in the tub for around 15-30 minutes and was asleep by 930PM.

Shop Til You Drop - Our Bangkok Adventure Day 1

What can I say about Bangkok? Definitely a shopaholic's paradise. Make sure you wear sturdy and comfortable walking shoes. I bought a pair of walking shoes from Naturalizer before I left but my feet still hurt. I ended up buying a pair of New Balance rubber shoes at Siam and they're definitely more comfortable.

Anyway, to start off with the travelogue:

Our Thai flight was scheduled to leave on Friday, Dec. 28 at 820PM. Papa dropped off me and Leo at NAIA at around 430PM. The check in counter opened at 6PM (Yes, we waited for an hour and a half). After checking in our luggage, going through immigration and customs, we ate at one of the restaurants inside the airport. Not expecting much food at the flight, Leo and I had beef and noodle soup.

Leo tried surfing for awhile and I kept myself busy playing with my Nintendo DS. We walked towards the airline gate at 730PM. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed. Boarding was supposed to be at 750PM but the plane hasn't arrived yet.

Finally, the plane arrived at 9PM and our flight left at 930PM.

Being a first time flyer (international flight) in almost 20 years, I did not know what to expect. The flight was pleasant and it was a good experience. I initially expected that we'd be flying PAL but we ended up with Thai. Good thing though. I loved the rice crackers that they served. They even served a full meal which I readily gobbled up.

The flight was not that full so it was not much crowded. I entertained myself with my DS while Leo got some shut eye.

We arrived at the Suvarnabhumi airport at Bangkok 3 hours later. It was 1130PM local time time but 1230AM Manila time so I was VERY sleepy already. I love their airport. It helped that it's relatively new (around less than 2 years old). Immigration takes your picture while they stamp your passport.

According to our travel document, we're supposed to meet our tour coordinator at Gate 9. I was very cranky already and I wanted to sleep! I left it to Leo to look for our ride while I just tailed him. Fortunately, Ping Pong (yes, that's his name) was patiently waiting for us at the gate and he hurriedly ushered us to the waiting van.

Even if I was very sleepy, I loved their highways. We were going FAST! I'm not familiar with speeds but it was very fast compared to our highway. Probably more than 100 (kph? mph?). Their highways are also new and I had to get used to the right-hand drive thing. We were driving on the left side of the big highway.

We were reserved at the Arnoma Hotel (part of the package). Location was absolutely awesome. In the heart of Bangkok--Ratchaprasong. Our hotel is right across CentralWorld and beside Gaysorn. Very convenient. Ping Pong dropped us off telling us that he'll pick us up at 8AM (but he'll be 10-15 minutes late).

We hurriedly checked in and upon getting to our room. I showered, changed into my nightclothes and fell onto the bed. I think I fell asleep before Leo did (he knows I'm cranky unless I get my sleep).

That was our first day in Bangkok.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Leo and I just arrived from Bangkok last night so I'm still out of it.

I'll post a detailed account of our trip probably by tomorrow. I have to catch up on my sleep.

In the meantime, I've already uploaded the pictures in the photo section.

Happy New Year!

Bangkok Pictures - 28Dec07-31Dec07

Pictures that we took in our Bangkok trip

Christmas Eve at Dita - 24Dec07

Celebrated Christmas Eve at Dita with my dad, my siblings and their families.

We were there after lunch (after delivering gifts and pamasko to my friends at Mandaluyong). I cooked Pancit Molo, Sugpo in butter and lemon and mango ref cake. I was so tired that night. I haven't cooked that much for a long time. I barely had the appetite when we ate that night.

Here are some photos that we took.

Lunch at Lenina's - 17Nov07

Lunch at Lenina's condo with my HS barkada. Atha brought her little girl (who also is my goddaughter)--Ninay.