Brand New 365 Days

Just like that here comes another fresh set of twelve months. The past year was interesting and fast wherein lots of things happened that I could only recall all with the help of Facebook’s a-year-ago-today feature or Timehop app. That year is over in what feels like a blink of an eye with its ups and downs making me believe that 2018 was a rollercoaster ride we all enjoyed and survived.

Now it’s day 1 of 2019 and hopes are all up. I have no written resolutions, a good thing and a bad thing at the same time, but I look forward to a better year ahead. By God’s grace I wish our whole family good health and harmony. Improved finances is of course welcome.

The second year we’ve been breaking and changing this Lego calendar.

Our routine resets this week. No more Christmas songs–though it’s tempting to still play them on Spotify. Everything goes back to normal whether we like it or not. Work resumes and the rat race begins once more. Although I’m one of those who take one day at a time, I want my days busy. The busier the faster the week ends. Repeat 52 times.

So for the nth time, I say happy new year. I will keep my fingers crossed and see what the next 365 days have to offer.

***

Some images from last night’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Food at home was minimalist just how I liked it to be. Arriving from Bacolod with barely a day to prepare also helped.
Ground was muddy from days of rain and it was not wheelchair-friendly so some relatives dropped by to pose with Marcus.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (All’s well that ends well.)

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Evia has Evolved

We broke routine this weekend. Christmas is getting closer and yesterday’s advisory on SLEX’s LED monitors showed hint that grinches, I mean shoppers, are flocking to Alabang onwards. But luck was on our side this time.

Our recent plan to check out Evia Lifestyle Center once more was timed right. For the first time I drove coming from Calamba to Daang Hari via MCX and parted ways from motorists on SLEX who were then pacing slowly like reindeer-less Santa sleighs. Traffic to this mall in the middle of the Villar-owned properties was light with only a slight hitch at the toll gate. Thanks to RFID we got through faster than those queuing at the cash lanes.

Evia has evolved and improved a whole lot since we first set foot two years ago. It now has more stores and more parking spaces. Basement parking is also now open and there’s an extended parking area across the mall close to Petron gas station where free shuttle service to and from the mall is available from 10 AM until 10 PM.

Evia Lifestyle Center is part of the growing Vista Mall chain and construction is ongoing. I realized this must be the reason some of the guards are as confused as us. We asked a couple of them for directions to the cinemas and we were advised we can take the escalators with Marcus in his wheelchair. We obliged despite protest but soon figured there are two elevators we should’ve used. First is the one that’s only until the 2nd floor and another that reaches the cinema level.

Evia’s 3rd level offers more than just movies. We discovered after spending a thousand for two persons for dinner that there are cheaper alternatives like pizza, pasta, burgers, churros, and even street food snacks. No regrets though as Bulgogi Brothers served us a nice hotpot plus the staff were very accommodating.

Evia has a newly-opened iMax cinema but Marcus has his mind set to the new Fortnite season and was also anxious to get back home to see our dog which is why we skipped the movies this time. Anyway I’m sure we’ll be back some other time soon.

Evia’s Christmas decor beats the Ayala malls’ we’ve visited.
The tight elevator makes good effect.
At Bulgogi Brothers. Away from fatty pizza and burgers.
Cinema area looks nice.

***

Big question: what’s with malls that they would rather use a PWD elevator than build a ramp?

Evia’s wheelchair/stroller elevator.

Ayala Town Center has this similar elevator which remained broken until our last visit and it was the reason I didn’t like going there anymore. Hopefully they already fixed it is our access to the cinemas, North Park, and the sports store that sells nice shoes. Wink, wink.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Weather’s nice but I got cold to deal with.)

Red Wheelchair’s Farthest Run Ever

Stopping for his chocolate chip frap at Starbucks Sto. Tomas.

I ran with Marcus. Yup, not just for Marcus. A dream coming true for me even if he’s on a wheelchair. For two days in a row we covered the most distance and we achieved more running this time. In his gaming parlance it was “achievement unlocked.”

Saturday’s run on a route we once took with wifey earlier this year was short and quick. Seeing two clowns on a motorcycle was the one of the highlights of this run and although Marcus neither saw goats nor cows, he found a compound with Ostrich. An animal sighting made the 3K session worth it for him.

The next day Marcus wants more of it. I thought he won’t ever ask to do it in succession as he’d have to deal with smoke-belching vehicles, dusty road, and was exposed to the sun for a longer period. But I was wrong. Marcus didn’t mind staying out in the open on his red wheelchair. Our second run is proof that he loves to do more.

Sunday afternoon we started earlier. At about 4:30 PM we met the blinding sun head on. He refused to wear the visor cap which he calls a stupid hat because he finds it weird that the top portion is open. So I gave him the option to wear his Batman baseball cap and told him to just look down and avoid staring at the sun rays. We reached shade more than a kilometer later. Running was easier at this point.

Marcus was chatty almost the entire time and it was a good thing. Having a conversation with him diverted my thoughts away from the effort I was exerting to keep running. I would only check my Garmin whenever he’d ask how much distance we’ve covered so far and that’s only when I’d also see my heart rate and pace info. Every now and then he’d look back to check if I was sweating or not. I’d respond back that I’m fine.

We hit the 7K mark at exactly an hour later just in time before dark. His Starbucks chocolate chip frappuccino we got halfway of our run is already consumed except for its whip cream when we stepped back inside our house. I’m not sure when the next time is but I would love him to join me again while I try to rack up more miles this October.

7K with Marcus.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Air time for Marcus in few more days.)

Our first visit to a store that doesn’t exist

It’s been weeks since the monsoon rains have stopped Marcus from getting his regular Friday physical therapy. Opportunities to get him out of the house and away from his video games every weekend have been much harder. Yesterday weather permits but instead of going to the malls we frequent, we decided to go to SM Mall of Asia (MOA) instead with Marcus and I having our own secret goal: visit Ikea.

It was a two-hour drive slowed further by weekend traffic at the SLEX and Skyway expressways plus intermittent heavy rains. The sky cleared when we reached MOA via Entertainment City exit and it appeared then we could move around SM by the bay when the mall gets stuffy for Marcus.

Still clueless of what we’re about to discover, we pushed through finding Ikea. While having dinner at Pound by Todd English I checked online and read that Ikea is between MOA Arena and SMX. Next plan was getting there as soon as we have our tickets for Mission Impossible: Fallout and when drizzling has stopped.

I began to feel suspicious and stupid when I realized I must have skipped some details on the news about Ikea opening in the Philippines. Three security guards later, the last we asked said, “Yan malamang sir (That must be it.)” He was pointing to a still empty fenced block right outside of the mall. Sucks. It was a matter of will open versus is open. With only one short crane sticking out of that place, I don’t believe we’ll see an Ikea store this year.

Mainly to take note where we parked.

***

The latest Mission Impossible sequel was a disappointment. It’s overrated and hyped. It’s like one of those films with trailers that are a whole lot better than the movies. My wife and I were dozing on and off but Marcus said he enjoyed it although I know it would’ve been a better experience for him if we watched it in a cinema with stable reclining seats.

We should have just watched the free Okada fountain show.

***

Wheelchair access Bows and Boos

Bows:

Elmo at Pound by Todd English’s bar area.
  • Jollibee staffs at MOA Entertainment Hall who made sure Marcus and his wheelchair get a space.
  • Pound by Todd English staffs who accommodated us despite the tight setup of their restaurant. Burgers were surprisingly affordable and great too.
  • Restroom staffs who kept the PWD area clean.
  • Okada tour bus attendant who entertained our questions and promised to get Marcus prioritized.
Recreating how he looked like 10 years ago the first time he was in this mall.

Boo:

  • SM Mall of Asia south parking building elevators were already unavailable when we got out of the cinema past 12 midnight. Someone parked in the same area had to find security guards to get it back running. Not cool.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Weekend weight.)

Fight For PWD Access

It’s another payday weekend, malls would be packed once more, and when this happens parking becomes more challenging than usual. No big deal if you think about it as sooner or later, a slot frees up and it could be yours. Its proximity to the mall doesn’t matter. We could just walk.

Sadly, not everyone has this luxury to just walk. Not everyone could just park their car somewhere, take a hike to the mall, and on rainy days like today, make a dash to the nearest covered area. Not everyone.

Image by Robert Mark Santos as posted on Facebook.

If you still don’t know it yet guys, people with disabilities (PWDs), specifically those in wheelchairs exist. Young and old alike, whether they can wheel themselves on their own or not, they exist. And if you still aren’t aware of it–by ignorance, poor upbringing, or plain insensitivity–PWD parking slots exist and should be respected.

PWD parking spaces are supposed to be reserved for folks who lack mobility. These slots are specially marked, wider than the regular ones, and are normally located close to PWD access ramps. While not all PWD parking spaces are “intelligently” designed, being aware that these are made to serve a specific purpose–and therefore must be used only by its intended patrons–is already a good start in showing that we are sensitive to others who need the PWD parking spots the most.

Not all PWD access look like easy access but don’t block it anyway. (Credit to owner.)

So if today you plan to enjoy your weekend, be sensitive and kind. At least before you enter the crowded mall. Don’t be that guy who parks in PWD slots just because you find it available when you arrived at the parking area or just because you figured your compact car or motorcycle fits the spot. People in wheelchairs will appreciate it a lot if you make their life less stressful by giving them the access that they deserve.

***

The struggle to get a PWD parking slot is real and to understand why people who seem fit and abled continue to use it.

Whenever I see a party of abled individuals getting out of a car parked in a PWD slot I couldn’t help but wonder if either one of them qualifies as PWD. Someone once disputed that definition of disability is broad which makes it hard to judge if a person who appears fit should be allowed to use the PWD spot.

Pregnant women, elderly, and those who lack mobility are apparently the ones who need to be prioritized in using the PWD slots. But what about those with other conditions that aren’t obvious physical disability?

Then there’s also inconsistency in implementing Republic Act 10070 which protects the welfare of PWDs. There are still establishments that lack PWD access and there are places wherein nobody regularly checks if a person using the PWD parking space is indeed a PWD or with one who needs assistance.

There’s still so much room for improvement in dealing with PWDs. We just can hope and pray the day would come when more, if not all, people recognize and respect the needs of people with disabilities.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Internet drags.)

Getting Used to Fancy Cinema Seats

When Marcus was smaller he almost got stuck in a cinema seat when the foldable chair tilted back in place. Since then he would hesitate to be seated alone for fear of falling in the gap once more. So it did come as a surprise when he immediately loved the first time he experienced watching a movie in a stable and comfy recliner seat. It was back in 2016 in California. It was a Star Wars film.

With our recent preference to avoid Alabang traffic we discovered that Cinema 3 of Solenad in Nuvali also offers such luxurious seats. For P400+ (approx USD7) per person it’s a win-win regardless if I like the movie or not. The recliners make comfy beds when boredom or effect of graveyard shift takes over.

Uptown Mall’s ultra cinema knows how to spoil a kid.

Two days ago we found a better movie deal. Uptown Mall in BGC has what they call ultra cinema which likewise offers recliner seats except that for almost the same price tickets already include refillable snacks of soda and popcorn. Take note, refillable. Soda. Popcorn. Besides the regular buttons to control the seat’s positions, there’s a summon button for the attendant when snacks run out. Thankfully that didn’t happen and our Incredibles 2 started and ended without interruption. Sort of.

Coming out of a short nap, thanks to the spicy Scott PNC burger and the free cheese popcorn and 500ml Coke, I had to excuse myself for a pee break. But what did I miss? None. Not only that the cinema’s toilet is clean, it also has speakers that play clearly the movie’s audio. I could have stayed longer in there and wouldn’t have missed any except watching Mr. Incredible play regular parent for the most part of the movie. This is how all cinemas should be like.

***

New rings after 19 years.

We stayed for three days and two nights in F1 Hotel Manila, BGC to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. The hotel was average and our room is similar to what we had in A Venue Hotel wherein there’s a separate room from the suite’s receiving area.

It’s not an issue that the bathroom didn’t have a tub but it took time for housekeeping to provide a chair for Marcus to use while taking a shower. So his first shower was done seated on the floor. Lesson learned for us: bring our own monobloc chair next time.

The hotel has three pools but the lap pool was under maintenance. Two options left weren’t really good and pool area was quite tight considering Marcus has a wheelchair.

A couple of treadmills in the gym were also down. Towels aren’t readily available unlike in Acacia Hotel. I had good sessions though and what kept me going back was what I like the most in this hotel.

What the hotel lacks in its room and service, it makes up for in its breakfast buffet. F1 Hotel Manila serves remarkable food. I liked everything I had on my plate–veggie curry, Frankfurter, omelette, tortang giniling, Danish, pancakes, etc. My MyFitnessPal app recorded about 1000 calories alone for each free breakfast which was more than enough to fuel my treadmill runs and weight training. FYI, I returned home with just three pounds more.

***

It rained hard so we sought shelter and learned we can afford Denny’s.

The hotel didn’t stop us from enjoying wedding anniversary though. We tried new things like our first Grab car ride and we discovered that we can afford Denny’s. It was also nice to set aside my phone for most of the day while I give more attention to Marcus, watched cable TV movies with him and listen to his perfect impression of his mommy sleeping. Trust me, he nailed it. Good times.

Glad we grabbed a Grab.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Uneventful return to reality.)