Weekend at The Bellevue Resort

Location, location, location. This I am sure is what was in the minds of the people behind The Bellevue Resort. Situated in Alabang, the hotel can be accessed by almost everyone coming from any direction. The Bellevue Resort can be easily reached by guests coming from both Northbound and Soutbound of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), by people passing through the kanan service road, and even by those coming from Cavite via the Daang Hari road.

Getting around the hotel and nearby establishments is also a lot better than any, if not most, hotel in Makati. Like us who do not have the privilege of having our own chauffeur, driving to and from the hotel is not as stressful. Compared with traffic volume in the Makati commercial district, Alabang is more manageable although one must expect to get stuck especially on a payday weekend as there are two malls and several office buildings in the vicinity. Here’s a driving tip: read the hotel’s guide on the first day and familiarize yourself with the location map in one of its pages. In my regular visits to Festival Mall, I have been thinking all the while that the hotel is just right across another block but good thing there are alternative areas where anyone who is lost can safely make a turn.

What about hotel accommodation? For the price of around Php 5000 we got ourselves a room that we did not expect to be a lot better. With wifey and our five-year old boy who changes sleeping/play spot without notice, our hotel room bed was more than enough. Our room on the 8th floor of The Bellevue Resort also has several features: a long study table and a matching ergo chair; a Sony Bravia wall-mounted flat TV; a wide wardrobe section that includes a safe and an ironing set; and a bathroom with well-maintained fixtures–our son, however, still prefers the tub over the rain shower head.

Included in our 2-days 2-nights resreservation is a buffet breakfast. We already enjoyed one yesterday in Cafe D’ Asie. Breakfast is from 6-10 AM and I have just checked the display of the Philips iPod docking station below the bed lamp and it is past 6:30. It’s time to wake kiddo, make a dash from the tower wing’s elevator, through the main lobby, then to the 2nd floor of the main wing where scrumptious breakfast awaits. It’s our last day today, so I might eat more than yesterday. Well, that’s the plan but if the little brat decides to sleep longer, then wifey and I still have time to enjoy the free WI-FI.

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Mood: 3/10! (Hope that today he will behave.)

Golden Kuhol and MBA

The good thing about having US-based customers is that people in the call center industry who support them also enjoy a time off whenever there is an American holiday. So yesterday we did not waste the precious non-working day and spent it mall hopping. It was a day I never thought would bring back so much personal memories.

Our first stop is the farthest among our itinerary and it is for a lunch we planned since last year–our ever favorite Japanese food dine out. The Dad’s buffet routine went like the ones we had in the past—get plate, pick food, eat, get another plate pick food, eat. But the golden kuhol did the least expected. As I remind my son that these are the same snails Jack of Oggy and the Cockroaches cooked, my mind opened up another stored story.

It was sometime around the ‘90’s when I, with two other friends, had a scary experience because of our fondness for these golden snails. We were picking live kuhol from a rice field on a very sunny noon when all of a sudden we heard someone shout from afar. It was an old man who immediately sprinted towards us. Surprised, our adrenalin kicked in but despite our best effort to make a dash across makahiya-filled grounds, we got caught as others heed the call of the old man for help. My friend (the other escaped) and I soon learned—too late—that we have trespassed a private area which we have been frequenting to get the abundant kuhols in the rice paddies. Thankfully, the folks ruled out detaining us in the nearby police station—they must have realized that we are minors—and instead dropped us off at home before dinner time. Ulam was not kuhol, by the way.

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A couple of minutes after the crossover buffet lunch in Megamall, we headed to Rockwell in Makati to claim my 2011 SY yearbook in AGSB and also to give wifey and Marcus time to window shop in the Power Plant Mall. And like my other visits in this posh place, just being around–without even spending a buck except for parking–makes me thank heavens for giving me the opportunity and support to endure two years of MBA education. God must have a plan after all with the lessons and experiences he gave me from a lowly kuhol to a pricey MBA degree.

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Our supposedly last stop on our list is SM Aura. It is new, it is beautiful but I was not impressed. In spite of its extraordinary shape, a far cry from the boxy SM malls, I find its interior dark and its atrium area a bit tight compared with other malls. Well, since it opened only last May 17, I would expect that they can address the illumination issue (I saw several unlit fixtures) soon but definitely everyone needs to get slimmer if they hate literally rubbing elbows with the crowd.

However, if there’s one thing that I love about SM Aura, is its parking—even if it reminds me of the other day’s Instagram pics showing the basement parking partly flooded due to sudden downpour—because it has a direct exit to C5. And I know Marcus also benefited from this since after finding no Filbars store in the mall I made a deal with him that we would only drop by Festival Mall to buy el cheapo Ninjago substitutes if we don’t get stuck in traffic. And true enough, C5 gave us a quick getaway and we ended up reaching Alabang in no time. That makes it four malls in one Memorial Day time off.

Memorial Day time off. (Clockwise from top left): 1. Marcus’ first mallows on stick of the day–he finished about five among others; 2. Wifey and Marcus; 3. Marcus thrilled that one of the cinemas still shows Iron Man 3–he’s a big fan; 4. Inside SM Aura.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Still stuffed.)

Busy Eater

Just woke up. I’m now catching up on my emails; catching up on forum updates; staring blankly at the Badminton Olympic match on TV. At last I’m at home and I’m staying put, at least for today. For the past few days, I’ve been on the go and I’ve been longing for one good day of rest and I think today is the day.

The lull in activity gave me time to think of what kept me recently occupied. I can’t believe that I’ve been so busy that I miss my afternoon siestas so much. So what was it really? Work? Maybe. My new motorcycle? Maybe, but not quite. Now I remember. Surprisingly (or not), I’ve spent so much time lately on mall-hopping and food. Yes, you read it right…F O O D.

Last Wednesday, on a trip down memory lane with my wife to her alma mater in Taguig (I was surprised that it made me reminisce my own memo- ries of the place) we decided to have lunch at Shakey’s Magallanes while having a break from the school clearance process. The last time we were in Magallanes was more than 10 years ago when our manufacturing plant was still in Makati. The whole place has significantly improved; other restaurants are now available and several other establishments have opened up for business. Shakey’s pizza (and shakes) of course still continue to perk up my palate. One thing I miss though is having the real Tabasco to come with my pizza. Anyway, my wife pointed out that even other restaurants have changed their hot sauce to cheaper brands in the name of cost cutting.

Thursday last week was Saisaki day at the Glorietta Mall. I’m once again with the company of my wife and her colleagues. Despite working with another team (which requires me to file a leave), what makes me comfortable joining hers is the fact the most of these guys are also Japanese food lovers just like I do. Well, Saisaki day just doesn’t mean pure Japanese foods as the option to do a crossover is always picked, thus lechon, turkey, and ginataang kuhol (escargot) never fail to be on the plate–at least on my plate. And normal side trips with them always include San Mig lights beer and a coffee stopover to cap the night. (Note: 1 beer bottle per hour is always followed when I drive).

From Friday to Saturday, I reported to work on a night shift. Normally being on this shift gives me chance and excuses to go on a diet as the cafeteria food especially at night, pardon the word, sucks. Saturday however wasn’t the case this time. My colleagues got totally bored of canteen food that they decided to have rice, lechon manok and liempo for our meal. Desserts were chocolate rolls and a super sweet pastry. If I were to count calories I might need a calculator to do so.

Coming from the graveyard shift, Sunday was a day off that was supposed to be a rather light day for us. Instead, after a 5-hour sleep and a trip to the dentist, wifey and I decided to go to MOA (Mall of Asia) with the intent of either watching a movie or buying my helmet. But once we reached the mall, it seems like my teeth having come from the dentist wanted a test of their biting power. My wife suggested UCC Vienna Café. I eagerly concurred and I promised, “I’d take only coffee and a light food.” But the sight of Risotto in the menu changed all that as I’ve been so intrigued with this food every time I watch it featured in cooking shows on TV. I thought that it’s just lugaw cooked by an Italian chef. After tasting UCC’s chicken, cheese and curry risotto, however, made me a fan of this food. Their Sumiyaki coffee and mango crepe were remarkable as well. Prices in this restaurant are worth it.

Monday was no different. And I blame it on the absence of good movies. After we arrived at ATC, we learned that Wall-E and X-Files are still not showing. We decided instead to eat at North Park where once again I or- dered their lechon rice toppings. This food is good all the time and this is one of the restaurants where food is a bang for the buck. Now if only ei- ther of the two movies is available, then I could have had coffee and donuts only for lunch. In Festival Mall the movie titles haven’t changed as well. Good thing I was able to stand firmly that I’ll have only coffee and muf- fin in Kenny Rogers – although the call to have baby back ribs is almost inescapable.

I have now lost track of the calorie pile up – or scared of knowing the exact score. I’m also thinking how many liters of gas we’ve actually consumed the whole time.  It was indeed a busy week where we’ve been spending money, burning gas and piling up calories. And now I’m quite sure that my 3-hour badminton and gym session yesterday wasn’t enough to undo the calorie damage. But there’s still hope. But then again there’s activity in Batangas next Sunday – it’s someone’s birthday. Will there be food? Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s about time I get my wife a helmet and a pair of riding boots. At least we’ll save on gas.

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The Yoyo and One Vantage Point

Every now and then, I would always remember one of the emails I received regarding man having just two choices the moment he wakes up and starts his day. So as this week seems to be a week of confusion, fun, adventure, fun—or in short, just confusion, I had to deal with these two choices: is it going to be a good or a bad day? So on April fool’s day, despite already having a hint of the things that may happen within the week, my wife and I refused to let it go down on us. We chose to be happy.

At lunch time we decided to eat at Brazilian Bbq restaurant in ATC which is fairly new in the area. The place is just at the back of the former Saisaki restaurant and its small space gives a homey feel to it. I think it can only accommodate approximately 50 customers at a time—less elbows to rub, less buffet rivals, more chance to pick and savor the food. Don’t be deceived by its size though as this restaurant packs a variety of good food, mostly grilled. I don’t know who conceptualized it, but this place gives yoyo diet a new definition.

Other than the plates, spoons and forks, and condiments, the waiter also places a yoyo on the table. To a newcomer, this may come as surprise as to what its purpose may be. The yoyo is colored green on one side and red on the other. Laying the toy with green on top means a waiter will come to your table with random grilled food still at its rotisserie stake although you may ask whatever food you preferred. They’ll be coming right back until you’ve turned the yoyo over with its red side on top. It just occurred to me that this is a good way to keep the customers from saying “stop” while their mouth is “stuffed”. Wise idea.

As we normally do, we checked out the movies after the hearty meal. And as much as I’m longing to watch an animated film, Horton. I quickly erased the thought of it as the grilled meat made me look for something adrenalin-packed. So we transferred to the nearby Festival Mall and without any doubt I saw what I’m looking for—Vantage Point.

The first 30 minutes of the movie will make one think of seeing a crappy film. The scenes keep on coming back at 11:59:59 AM. Back and forth, back and forth. It drags. Sooner though, the plot continues to become clearer and interesting and that is when the movie reveals what 8 strangers, 8 stories, 1 vantage point mean. The car chase scenes are almost at par with that of Ronin. Other that the obvious Hollywood flaws like the almost preserved clean state of some of the characters amidst the bomb blast and car crashes this movie has a cast who renders convincingly great acting. Two thumbs up.

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Die Hard on A Sunday

After a hearty buffet lunch at Cabalen, my wife and I headed for Festival Mall’s cinema ticket both and picked movies to watch. Out of the nine cinemas there were only three others not showing the latest Harry Potter. Since I’ve never been a Harry Potter fan (though my wife is), we only had three more movies to choose from and those were Transformers, Die Hard 4.0 and a pinoy film, Tiyanak.

Transformers. We’ve watched it already on its second day. We like it a lot that we viewed it twice in a row. The last movie we watched several times in the cinema was Saving Private Ryan.

Tiyanak. I avoided it at first glance. I knew CGI’s would rule this movie. And I have a thing about pinoy CGI’s especially if done on horror films–it sucks. I can count the pinoy thriller’s I’ve watched with my one hand.

So Die Hard was it.

More often than not, I’d get sleepy on the first quarter of most movies especially when viewed right after lunch. I even joked about it with my wife that I would rate movies depending on how long I stayed awake during the whole film.

At first I was trying to convince myself that despite being shown in a movie house with stiff and short seats, the story will make up for it. And it appears like so. Just right after the start, the explosion and fireballs so typical of Die Hard series reverberate in the theater when some geek was blown out of his house as a super penetrating virus made its way into its PC. Not bad. Good concept. This could be interesting. I was beaming with anticipation. More explosions please!

However, as the movie progresses the story turned ridiculous. I was starting to see the faces of Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savages of Discovery’s Mythbuster as if debunking the stunts every time one is shown. It started when John Mclane threw a fire extinguisher at the bad guys and guess what? I was right. He shot it and a far bigger explosion happened that threw the villains into kingdom come. Damn. That one ruined my day.

After that one bit, I started seeing the movie as a quilt made from past movies. I saw Matrix in the highway interchange scenes. I saw Crouching Tiger in the fight scenes. I saw Rambo superimposed in John Mclane’s face. Before I dozed off, I knew I even saw Mr. Bean. I saw utter stupidity in the bad guys too. And the last few scenes remind me of typical pinoy movies that when the police come in the end credits would soon follow. It was that bad. It’s a pity because I knew the stars could have done better roles. Mclane’s daughter was hot. The Asian bad chick was foxy. Even Bruce Willis could have even made a better come back without having to appear in this poor Die Hard film. So I now wonder who’s to blame for this messy movie experience? The producer? The director? The scriptwriter? Or the Mythbusters? Definitely not the ginataang kuhol I had for lunch. This movie should have been titled “Sleep Hard.” Such a waste.