The Author

The Author

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quickscapade to Laiya

And so came finally the much awaited weekend to redo the recent disastrous escapade, but this time with much caution and careful planning. We didn't want history repeating itself. We reconsidered a safer choice - Laiya, Batangas.

After having been there (Laiya) several times already, we knew we couldn't go wrong. There are a lot of resorts lined up catering to various types of budgets, from "biglaang lakad kahit wala pang sweldo" to the "gusto ko sosyal at memorable" -type.

I wanted to try out Virgin Beach Resort, famous for being the filming location of the Here Comes the Bride movie which i think had made the place even more expensive than it already is. Luckily, this i say because we were not up to spending that much for lodging, all Cabanas - what they call their units - were already booked for the night. They only had Parasols available for overnight stays. I didnt have much problem if i were in a different mood, but for that day i wanted to have the luxuray of having our own bathroom, instead of only a communal type offered for such of rental.

UPPER: Cabana
LOWER: Parasol

So we drove further until we sighted a familiar signage (from Googling of course) saying ACUATICO RESORT posted closely with another board which says ACUA VERDE. We were already aware of the high endedness of the former and knew it would not be the best choice for budget travelers like us. We simply wanted a relaxing trip with reasonable expenses. Anyway, here's an inside look to the luxurious one..

Ahhhhh.. who wouldnt be lured by their infinity pool? Us - or anybody abiding strictly with their limited budgets.

We turned right once we reached the intersection of the narrow dirt road leading to both resorts. This lead us to ACUA VERDE, which turned out to have the same owner as the adjacent luxurious resort we tried avoiding. Surprise! So much for low budget resort picking! We wouldve opted to turn back around, but the width of the road wouldnt just allow. What have we to choose from other than driving straight ahead and just check what they had to offer?

Ambiance was what i noticed almost immediately after entering the gate. Peaceful, no more than 20 people in sight - including resort crews that is. Very private, and my favorite - sosyal.

When a staff approached us, our first inquiry was - how much? Here's to summarize her enthusiastic response to our query:
Room: P5,900/night inclusive of the ff:
- free welcome drinks (which by the way is just buko juice with green coloring)
- buffet dinner and breakfast
- unlimited kayaking, beach volleyball
- unlimited use of parasols
- evening bonfire (nakakain ba yun?)
- wifi
- airconditioned with bathroom

I quickly ran through some calculations and it turned out they offer much less, compared to the same resort class which seemed to offer lower lodging rates with a catch of having to purchase meal packages costing at most 2k per person. This appeared to be the best choice, luckily.

There was indeed a bonfire that night - only that and nothing more - i would have wanted to watch firedancers and stuff. Then the buffet dinner. They offered enough variants to keep it interesting, one of which my favorite - stuffed inihaw na pusit. They had soup, pancit, lechon, vegetables, fruits and hot and cold drinks - all good - i tried everything. Yum! The bar by the beach was surprisingly fully functioning even with 1 customer, whom we joined later that night.

Woke up early the following day, not to miss out much of what could be experienced. Breakfast was very Continental, and so was not that interesting for us. It would be nice to have danggit, tuyo, itlog na pula, fried bangus and the likes. We ate relatively quicker than others since we were eyeing the kayaks, which i mostly wanted to do since i got there - would be my first time ever. It wouldve been a lot of fun if the tides waves were tamer that day. Not the best weather due to the slight shower but who cares - we were getting wet anyway.

All the staff were extremely nice - 5 stars to that - attending to all our needs and stupid questions. Overall, i enjoyed the experience, living up with every bit of my expectation from such place. I would definitely do a come back, once i get the time off from my busy engineering career.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What makes PINAS suck-suckan ng poor

I have always had these thoughts from time to time, mostly during pot sessions (kidding, just smoke sessions) and of course when super idle (i tend to think a lot when doing nothing, so there's really not much of idle time relative to my brain activity, maybe the idle time is right before i fall into REM stage at sleep).

1. Kulang ang basurahan
Now if only there are a lot of waste bins, specially those collective types allowing sorting, allocated by - say the government - there could be lesser trash in areas where there should be none (practically everywhere). I noticed this one time when it took me 10 minutes to find a decent bin to throw my cigarette butt into. I for one believe that if there are a lot available and accessible garbage containers around, then it can increase the likelihood of trash ending up in them. This may be the reason why first world countries have developed their sense of cleanliness and OC-ness - their people have acquired the habit of throwing trash in its designated collection bins.
Dahil walang mapaglagyan, pasimpleng binibitawan.. ginawa mo na rin to im sure.

2. Property tax - what the hell?
OK, this is really confusing for me.. Not that im aware of all the logic why this was integrated into the taxation scene in the country, but my logic says to hell with this! I only realized this after getting myself a unit (in a subdivision). I finally acquired one only because i was starting to feel, after so many years of work, i have not had any solid investment yet and my income has been simply going down the drain. For me, when it comes to this matter, Ive always been aligned with the common way of thinking - kung may property ka, of course may tax, UNTIL one of the countless smoking sessions with coworkers (have i mentioned smoking for the Nth time already? At work, we dont consider it a break. Its a time when we come up with freshest and most out of the box ideas to solve issues we left at our desks prior - see, just one of the numerous benefits! People tend to not notice things like this, and instead only highlight the darn bad effects - ano ba naman ang cancer kumpara dun?).
Payslips have just been distributed that day, and like 15 days prior (di na nagsawa at nasanay), most complained about the huge tax deduction. Who wouldnt? It was consuming a lot of what we could be bringing home into the table. Then one asked how my latest investment was - my newly acquired property. Several more things were discussed before we got into the property tax. With so much frustration, i went ahead and asked "Why should one pay property tax for the same property acquired with an income which was already taxed?" (Income tax) Dont you think its a little bit too redundant? I know im not an economist or so into politics or whatnot but i just cant help but think its flatout ridiculous! Im dumbfounded by this idea. Like any average wager, I could use the extra money for a lot more important matter or just simply save it for future (for an Ipad 3 or an Iphone 5 perhaps?).
Ok, granting this is an added income for the country (which i do believe it is, and fact is Philippines does need a lot), why not create brackets according to property quantity and value by a single owner & then base the taxing from there? The single and minute-value property owners being EXCLUDED of course from these darn taxes! Just and fair dont you think? This will also prevent the tycoons from taking over the world, the more they have, the higher the tax they pay. Minsan, parang ninanais ko pang maging komunista na lang. Kaso ayaw ko din namang dumami ang tamad.

3. Smoking BAN (Really???)
This has been so sensational to me, especially being an "occasional" smoker.. I couldnt help but laugh at the thought they put behind this: karapatan ng bawat Pilipino ang makalanghap ng malinis na hangin. Come on! Dont get me wrong. I have always been respectful of people's preference over things. When i get visitors at home, take note sa bahay ko, i choose NOT to smoke inside, rather i take the effort of going outside to do sessions even when i know its just a single person inside who doesnt smoke and, take another note, does not mind me smoking across or beside. Thats how respectful i am. See, not all smokers are inconsiderate.
The thing is, similar to the logic ive grown used to at work, address the biggest and controllable problem first - SMOKE BELCHING!. Did the same people who cooked this rule up and then got impressive with themselves for having thought of it give enough scrutinization prior implementation? They could be stopping some 1000 smokers a day, not knowing it could just be equivalent to a jeepney's smoke belch for a few hours! For what its worth, they could be saving the health of many people, so they believe. Or they could just be funneling down resources into something which does not need the highest attention. Control for smoke belching, on the other hand, is so much feasible - with the LTO registrations ALL vehicles go through regularly. They only have to strictly abide by the EMISSION TESTING protocols if they want this to be effective. If not, they could always review the frequency if proven insufficient, say bi-annually, i dont know, whatever works. My point is - there is already an existing system and it only needs enforcing!
Imagine successfully banning ALL smokers in public places, pretty isnt it? Then you go ride a jeepney for a few kilometers not minding sucking in thick black smoke in your lungs and the evident collection of black soot inside your nostrils (should you decide to pick your nose in public, which i highly doubt) from a vehicle ahead. Best part is, you do it DAILY.
I dont mind rules like prohibiting smoking in public places - i just dont agree how they think through things. And i quote Teofisto Guingona Jr., from the recently held public hearing on the helicopter scandal : "It doesnt require technical background to comprehend this."

I get so flabbergasted when i hear negative comments from dumb people who hope that in a single year of term they expect Philippines to get rich instantly. Thats definitely not the way things work. And considering the current status of the country, we are far from becoming a 1st world country, not to mention the unstoppable sprouting of population which adds more to the already high rate of unemployment. Forgive me but its just annoying they keep on complaining about not feeling an improvement in their lifestyles, but at the same time not doing anything about it! If you want change, do something for a change, besides baby-making. Yes, maybe at some point they are right about not having the same opportunities as others, or that there is not enough jobs out there. But check jobstreet alone and you can see a lot vacant positions available for taking, which leads me to the next point - they are not equipped for these jobs. This is primarily because they either didnt have the means or simply didnt have access to educational facilities. Partly because budgets have not gone into where they shouldve. Take one step back and you probably might understand that the government is perhaps trying to address the ROOT CAUSES (God i hope so) instead of laying out band aid fixes which i believe what these dumb people (forgive me) are expecting from the government (e.g. salary increases, commodity price reductions, etc.). Instead of trying to understand what the proposed solutions are for and why in the first place they have been proposed, they immediately rally against it.
RH Bill - stabilize population growth, controlling the ever increasing demand especially with the so little supply we have. The lesser recipient, the more for each.
Anti-corruption - national budget gets spent appropriately.
Sa totoo lang, pabor ako sa Martial Law, if its the only way para mapasunod ang napakatigas na ulo ng Pinoy! After all, look at how we bid in the ASEAN region during that time, we were 2nd richest amongst everyone.

This is just to name a few, sure there are lot others worth discussing.
- tindero sa daan, nagpapatayo ng bahay hanggang sidewalk, double parking, ginagawang garahe ang kalsada. E kung pagbayarin na lang kaya lahat ng mga to, siya pang dagdag sa kita ng gobyerno, kesa sa patong patong na buwis!
- pagtira sa super liblib na lugar, tapos pagrereklamo na walang tubig at kuryente at paaralan. What if the government predefines or selects residential areas where it can easily deploy aids to help sustain and improve living condition or lifestyle. This way, budgets are less partitioned and benefits of which will be felt more greatly by the constantly complaining citizens.

Kung gusto mong iasa ang lahat sa gobyerno, e di hayaan mong ang gobyerno ang magpatakbo ng buhay mo!

The chart toppers in my own take of TOP PINOY ISSUES - why we havent developed into at least a 2nd world country, or even 1st (asa pa) Wouldnt you want to travel around without preceding hassles of securing visas? Thats what most, if not all, people from 1st world countries enjoy - free passes!
I wont get that started, whole different topic, yet from a ripple-effect.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows at Imax

I still vividly remember my first Harry Potter experience at SM Manila somewhat 9 years ago, back in my college years. I didnt know then what the heck it was. I was clueless as i tagged along the group, collegiates from Baguio City - mga tagabundok. We came to Manila as representatives of our school in the yearly held Chemical Engineering quiz show, but my teammates were more excited about the movie than what we came for in the Metro. And so right after the quiz show, which by the way we lost without much regret, we rushed to the nearest mall to catch the last full show of the then phenomenal flick (almost a decade after, still is). The theater was so packed that i didnt mind sitting down at the very center aisle, neglecting the inconvenience, just to witness the film. I guess i just got carried away with the craze, for after the film i thought i was not as amazed as my friends were. Their faces were worth a thousand expressions - hindi maipinta. For me it was just "ok lang." To them it was "My God!"

Almost a decade after, I was on my way to the only Imax theater in the Philippines, conveniently situated in Mall of Asia. I thought that the best way to experience the conclusion of the epic series was through the spectacle of a full 3d cinema. For films such as this one, passes are scarce when one opts to watch during the prime dates - premiere or few days onward. Luckily, we had the chance to secure tickets a week prior when we watched the 3rd installment of the Transformers in the same cinema.

Initially, we browsed through the available timeslots & seats on the first day and just as we suspected - all seats including the not so good ones have already been booked. Down on the second date there were only a few left..
TICKETLADY: (reviewing the seats in the monitor) sir meron pa sa pinakababa.
US: ok ba dun? honestly. same 3d experience pa din ba?
TICKETLADY: ok lang naman po. un nga lang nakatingala kayo.
US: (kamusta naman ang isang oras na nakatingala? stiff neck???)
TICKETLADY: (pointing at the choice seats right at the middle portion of the seating plan) lam nyo akin tong apat na ito. nireserve ko para sakin at family ko. (smiling)
US: pwede bang amin na lang please? sa Saturday mo na lang sila papanuorin. hahaha. di nga, seryoso.. I'm sure maiintindihan naman nila. sabihin mo na lang fully booked na ang Friday. please?
TICKETLADY: (napabuntong hininga) ok.. di bale may technical screening naman bukas, exclusively for SM cinema employees (at nanginggit pa!)
US: Yehey!!! Thank you! May hiring kayo? (hahaha)
And that's how we ended up having the best seats, facing the center of the 6-elephant-tall screen.

We got there rather early (Indi naman halatang excited), we must've overcompensated the traffic. Travel was rather smooth, surprisingly for a Friday afternoon.

We entered the theater from the bayside entrance, facing the parking lot. Inside was a small Harry Potter museum put up just for the event and I immediately went toward it. There were the complete film posters, which remind you well of each experience, some costumes and large enough backdrops for those who came with cameras to take stills to remember the moment with. Nice setup indeed for, if I may quote my witty HR manager, photo options (which, for the normal population, is being referred synonymously asphoto opps).

The crowd grew by the minute. Some came in with their coats with hoods, wands and whatnot - hindi masyadong prepared nor excited - making me look just about normal for the event. Before lines started building up, we queued up to get some popcorn and drinks - how else to enjoy a good movie than with cheese popcorn? (try spaghetti, or 2-pc chicken with extra rice or maybe bulalo! Don't be surprised if you ever see a few actually having these - the latter being very rare. They might've mistaken entering a movie house for a restaurant!)

And so minutes before show time we headed to our seats and you could almost feel the excitement of each one, even if most, I assumed, had already read the book and have known every bit of detail the movie is about to show.

Truly an epic one, Harry Potter, 7 books and 8 movies after, has finally come to an end. What is there to watch out for next? Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, perhaps. Hahaha..

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A getaway to disaster

The idea, like any other, was out of impulse. I was hitting my last stick of cigarette for the day at work, after an entire day of technical combat - happens on a daily basis by the way, when I came up with an idea of maybe spending some chill time for my senses.

I first wanted to go somewhere I've never been to, close enough from where I stay of course - Sto. Tomas, Batangas, but far enough to give the illusion of a "getaway." Quezon province seemed to be the perfect destination. And so days prior, I did some research - came out as a reflex after working for close to 8 years in the engineering business. Googled and surveyed potential places, but i ended up just going for the thrill - pack up & go with no definite plan at all -type.

Came Saturday morning and I haven't really made up my mind as to where to go. I was then with 2 of my friends, procrastinating, until around early afternoon when we decided to just hit the road. We packed a few things and just relied on our GPS - "kahit saan sa Quezon, basta mura at puti ang buhangin." We took Lucena route via Sto. Tomas Batangas national highway, through San Pablo City. The whole trip I had my eyes & hands on my phone doing last minute research. My searches returned several potential resorts, majority of which were situated in Sariaya.

Halfway to Lucena, we sighted one billboard which caught our attention: Catanauan Cove - the picture sure showed a really appealing white sand beach, but, after querying this new destination in the GPS (to my disappointment), was farther than I expected. The time then was nearing 4pm and the GPS had provided an estimate arrival time of past 6pm. We then decided to just drive for Sariaya instead.

There were a lot of setbacks when we finally reached Sariaya. Funniest was when we didn't realize we were driving against a one way street. We only found out after noticing that a lot of tricycle drivers have been giving us strange stares - "dumb tourists!" kinda way. Who would've guessed this small city had one way streets in it? Yes we had our GPS but I didn't expect the map to have this kind of information. Definitely missed that big ONE WAY sign at the entry! Stoopid engineers, yeah.

We saw numerous Jollibee NOW OPEN signs that somehow triggered our tummy acid to react - we were getting hungry. We headed for it. Would've opted for McDonald's but, unfortunately, there was none. Like always, in a newly opened Jollibee in a developing rural area, there were long lines of fanatics. We didn't want the hustle. Good thing 7-11 was just beside it. Grabbed a hotdog bun, poured manhattan dressing and chili con carne, and immediately started munching - combination wasn't bad at all. I was at my last bite when I noticed a young lady who sat agitatedly at the front of the store, by the door. She seemed to be painfully waiting for someone, and definitely a local. Since we still had no idea where we're headed, I approached her to get inputs on which resorts around the area are worth visiting. I was uttering my first words when I noticed she looked so stunned by my approach. She appeared so caught off-guard, like I was some celebrity or something - haha! It was like I was speaking a foreign language or some dialect she hasn't heard before. I immediately wiped my mouth thinking I might have had some dressing smeared around it, and then checked my reflection from the glass door. My face looked normal. She composed herself after realizing I was actually asking her directions. Her directions suggested we already missed the turn. She also told us to be careful not to take the alternate road which would lead us to the resorts because it's not safe at night - we could end up kidnapped or murdered, chopped to pieces and then thrown into the fields as compost. I just imagined the latter, but she did tell us to be very careful not to take the dirt road and just stick with the highway route.

It was already dark when we got back on the road. A few minutes after, we realized that luck is really nowhere near our side as we were already along the dirt road the young lady made very clear we should not be on - for safety's sake. Stupid GPS. No, stoopid engineers! You could imagine the frustration. If we'd known this ahead, we would've chosen just to spill the same amount of gasoline down the gutter while drinking beer, soaking to high bass house music back at the apartment and save ourselves from all the trouble. But we were already miles away, and the best choice at that moment was to get to the nearest convenient resort to just spend the night, drink a couple of beers, then press on who's fault it was we ended up miserable - never mind the white sand and the previously craved for relaxation.

Thanks to the many signs leading to Sariaya resorts, we were able to reach the place. Checked my watched and it was 7pm. Who goes to beach resorts at this time? (Us!) There were a lot of resorts lined up along the road as it was already near the coastline. GPS showed a lot of candidates but we just stuck to the common places we've queried during the first hour of driving.
Blue Bay Waters - closed for renovation
Villa del Prado - place is not enticing, jampacked with an entire barangay, even if it was not we would've not stayed at all
Dalampasigan - same, boring
Paraiso Beach Resort - yawn!
Monte Vista - that was it! I wanted go home.

We checked them one by one and not one, really, not one measured up to our expectations! All these resorts had either one barangay in a swimming pool (imagine accidentally drinking a concoction of chlorinated water and piss from who knows, let alone perspiration or dead skin cells - I can't) or busted sounds and disco lights in what seemed to be basketball court (who goes to the beach to play basketball?) or canceling flats and sharps from videoke singers wanting to replace Charice Pempengco from her spotlight. Their websites are so misleading, showing pictures from back when their resorts were actually brand new - damn marketing strategy. Wait till you check on their rates, even more unreasonable!

And so we veered back home, wasted, not to mention feeling robbed from the toll fees collected from road stops with improvised bamboo levers along an unpaved road (that part I really cant understand, do they own the road?). What a wonderful trip.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pablo City