Baymax!

It’s been a while since I last saw a movie. If my memory serves me right, it was around September; the movie Maze Runner just hit the theaters then. For two whole months, I have been idle, never having enough willpower to go to the cinemas. I missed quite a few hyped up big titles. I realized [today] it was high time I went to the cinemas.

One recently hyped up movie is Big Hero 6. I remember watching the trailer half-asleep. Never got around to watch the entire trailer. And here I am now, just waiting for the last full show of the said movie, too excited that I actually started live blogging about it.

Traffic was really heavy and hit us hard. Not to mention it was pouring. Cars and jeepneys filled the very narrow West Service Road, horns roaring in the dead of night. Our travel time took us almost two hours whereas it would have only took us around forty five minutes supposedly. I fell asleep a couple times en route. The cold weather mixed in with the sensation of traveling almost instantaneously lulls me to sleep.

The three of us: Alexa, Stephanie, and I, planned on watching the movie on 7:30PM. We didn’t make it. Stupid traffic. We had to settle for the last full show at 9:50PM. Alexa had second thoughts. She has classes tomorrow morning. Early morning. Eventually, we all agreed to watch, not letting our efforts of coming here go to waste.

Before looking for a place to eat, we secured our tickets. The cinemas were relatively easy to find, situated on the fourth floor. Alexa chose our seats for us. She got us seats in the middle section for better viewing and less craning of our necks.

I felt like getting a sub and Alexa felt the same way. I got a BLT footlong with no tomatoes. I resisted the urge to get a side of chocolate chip cookies. Subway’s cookies are really good. Alexa ordered a 6-inch sub. I didn’t pay enough attention to find out what it was. Steph bought dinner from KFC which was just beside Subway.

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A huge life-sized Baymax stood proudly between the cinema entrances. Seeing as how we had time to spare, we took a couple of shots with the white dude. Even without seeing the movie or even half of the trailer, Baymax’s popularity skyrocketed. Anyone who’s anyone knows him.

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See you on the big screen, Baymax!

Tagaytay

Almost everyone who knows me knows well that I haven’t set foot on Tagaytay. Ever.

My partners tease me all the time, saying stuff like “Let’s go to Tagaytay!” or “Wanna go to Tagaytay later?“. The thing is, it never happens. It never has… until today.

Thursdays and Fridays are my kind of rest days. For my first rest day of the week, I had an out of the blue roadtrip slash adventure to Tagaytay – one of the places I’ve been longing to visit since time immemorial. Funny thing was, I was accompanied by people that I never thought I’d be with. These people being Agnes, Migs, and Benjo.

The lot of us rendezvoused at Festival Supermall. I still have no idea why it’s a supermall. If I’m not mistaken, we went via SLEX. There were way too many truck, easily outnumbering the cars. No truck ban, I guess.

Sleeping is my trademark when it comes to roadtrips. I was tempted to sleep earlier but was way too excited and slightly hyper to do so. Plus, I had my not-so-trusty pocket WiFi in my shoestring bag. No sleep for me this time.

We passed by Splash Island, The Coca-Cola Company with their signature humongous soda cans, the very familiar South Supermarket, a few dozen delicacy stores, and nearly thousands of pineapple gardens. [Insert corny FarmVille joke here] We had a few.

Before I even realized it, I was already in Tagaytay. I screamed in excitement like a little kid. Finally. Fi-na-lly! One day before my return-to-PH anniversary. I barely made it in time. See, I dared myself to visit Tagaytay before November 21 (the day I came home to the Philippines) and I was able to do it.

Mushroomburger

First on the list was this little burger joint called Mushroomburger (one word only). I hear people say that you won’t fully experience Tagaytay until you try one of their mushroom burgers. Well, I tried their Mushroomburger Royal, and I must say, I was satisfied. Truly a burger fit for Royalty at a fraction of a cost.

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The addition of egg sealed the deal for me. I paired it up with… drum roll… mushroom fries and soda. A mushroom-filled snack for the power eater. For some reason, I kept calling their fries Truffle Fries. No, the taste had nothing to do with it. Probably some short-term memory that stayed longer than expected.

Mushroomburger has this cute little park slash playground just beside it. Swings, slides, a mini clubhouse, rock clumbing walls, and a few tables were present. It was one of those moments that you feel like a little kid playing in the playground with other kids. Back when tablets and smartphones didn’t exist yet.

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Sky Ranch

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Second on the list was a theme park that doubled as a getaway of students called Sky Ranch. For some reason, we kept pronouncing it Raunch. Again and again.

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Anyone visiting the place would notice the Sky Eye first – a huge white ferris wheel overlooking the Great Taal Lake. Wait, not sure if it has the word Great in it’s title.

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After minutes of persuading me that seemed like hours, the three of them got me to agree to ride the Sky Eye. I brushed away my fear of heights momentarily. As we got on board, as if practiced, they started shaking the gondola. I held on to the white pole inside. Not funny guys. Kidding! It was hilarious. Migs, Agnes, and Benjo were having scaring me. We got up so high! I was rewarded with a bird’s-eye view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano. The ride wasn’t really that scary. We were going really slow. I’m glad I gave it a try. In all honesty, the Sky Eye was probably the only decent ride in the whole theme park. Other rides were mostly for little kiddos.

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As we roamed around, the air started getting chilly. The cold crisp breeze blowing from the lake felt like a freezing blanket wanting a little hug. Good thing I brought my jacket.

My visit to Sky Ranch would hardly be complete without souvenirs. This holds true to any place I haven’t visited before. Benjo and I did most of the shopping. Payday always equals spending. Aren’t we lucky that our rest day fell on our payday? I bought clothes for mom and Trixia. I also got cute little wine bottle ref magnets bearing the place Tagaytay City at the bottom for my aunt.

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Leslie’s

Our last stop was a Filipino Restaurant named Leslie’s Restaurant.

Leslie’s has an outdoor setting with huge wooden pillars and a wooden roof. A sea of tables can be observed from the entrance. The place is huge! The number of guests was really small. A bar for alcoholic drinks is located at the right part near the restrooms. The kitchen is situated in the left. The servers were clad in green polo shirts for their uniform.

Our order consisted of the signature Tagaytay dish Bulalo Special, Sisig, and steamed rice. The bulalo’s meat was really soft that it almost felt like it melted in my mouth. A joy in every bite. The sisig with egg was crispy and was cooked really well with a few additional ingredients setting it apart from typical sisigs. The meal was really delicious! Excuse the plainness of my way of sharing my food escapades. While eating, by the way, we were serenaded by a group of people in yellow. The front man, or should I say woman, had a really angelic voice. She first sang I’m Yours by Jason Mraz and Benjo actually joined the group and banged on the beatbox with mad skills. We enjoyed the group so much that we asked for two more songs. I forgot the second song. The last song was requested by Migs. The group sang Rude by Magic.

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The four of us chilled while enjoying the cold breeze and dark view of Taal Lake. My pocket WiFi ran out of juice by this time. Migs and Benj smoked while Agnes kept checking her Instagram. We bought souvenirs for ourselves and the store before heading home.

The rest of the day is a recollection of everything that happened. I feel so tired but at the same time happy for today. I am grateful to these three. Without them, I would never have set foot on Tagaytay. I can finally scratch it off from my Places to Go list.

Afternoon Buddies

With the continuous expansions, Project Pie is becoming even famous than ever. New stores pop up here and there. And with the opening of a new store comes the team building of the previous store opened. In this case, it’s Park Square’s turn for team building.

Being around for the first two months at Park Square, I have gained more friends and a better understanding of Project Pie in general. I assumed that I became a permanent part of the roster of Park Square partners. I assumed wrong. An abrupt twist of fate led me back to my roots – Block 28 Alabang. Before the third quarter of the year ended, I was back – better than ever. Equipped with the knowledge from Park Square, I set forth.

Fast forward to two months and we have ourselves the much-awaited Park Square Team Building which is today, to be exact. Plot twist: it’s at Tagaytay. With no companion, I deemed traveling there to be lonely and somewhat dangerous. I have never set foot in Tagaytay. And even though this was the perfect opportunity I have been waiting for, it just wasn’t the time yet. Plus, with my zero sense of direction, I’d get lost for sure. Thus, I have chosen to stay at home and look for company.

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I found Chuckie and Selecta lying around with Nexus (tablet) and instantly made them my afternoon buddies. One can never go wrong with ice cream and chocolate drinks. Excuse the sugar rush.

Expel the negative vibes and indulge a kid’s wish of a pure chocolatey fantasy.

All Saint’s Day

Allow me to share one of the traditions of my Mom’s clan (Astilla’s) – the annual grave visit.

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On the first two nights of November of each year, the Astilla Clan plans the entire visit to our local cemetery – from which candles to buy to the type of food to bring. My grandma, grandpa, and about seven more relatives lay buried there.

Mom multitasks and tries to bring all the essentials, including food, flashlights and mosquito repellents, to name a few. Even though my other aunts and uncles would volunteer to bring food enough for all of us, Mom would still insist on buying pastries or snacks. 

First on our list upon arrival is the lighting of the candles and offering of our prayers. I particularly like the huge red candles with gold dragons that one of my aunts always bring. Gives off the feeling of class, dignity, and a little Chinese vibe.

I have vivid memories of our food. As if top priority, we always had pizza. Pizza hardly left the scene. Heck, The Ninja Turtles would be jealous if they saw us. For starch, we didn’t always have rice. Bread and pastries replaced it usually. Pasta would also be available at times, mostly spaghetti or carbonara. I prefer the latter all the time. As for sweets, which was always present, there would be brownies, cakes, pastillas, and even branded chocolates. No one has a more prevalent sweet tooth than me. Hence the reason why I am always the prime target of mosquitoes. In case you were wondering, mosquitoes are attracted to humans with high blood sugar levels. Bam! I inserted a little scientific fact in my post. How do you like that, huh? Oops! I got carried away.

Praying with the rosary commences soon after everyone has ate. I close my eyes as all of us pray in unison. The soothing sounds of nature coupled with our heartfelt prayers resonate euphorically. Night brings forth the ever twinkling stars and graces us with moonlight that irradiates an eerie yet calming aura.

A quick storytelling then ensues. I distinctly recall my uncle and his many riddles. All of us would be perplexed and keep guessing until we eventually give up. Here’s one of the riddles:

Three mothers, each accompanied by their two daughters, walk into a restaurant and occupies only seven chairs. How is this possible?

Good times. Unfortunately, this year would be different. Mom and the others would still be visiting our local cemetery… without me. I’m staying here in our country’s capital. Not necessarily a bad thing, me staying here. Just different, is all.

Happy All Saint’s Day! Don’t forget to visit your loved ones who have crossed over to other side.

Wild Wednesday

Drinking alcohol has never been my thing. Never has, never will. I see no joy nor sense in spending money on something one will eventually barf. With that said, I don’t deny that I do [have to] drink on certain occasions – like last night. It’s what Filipinos call pakisama.

My friend Miguel, who I call Migs or Miggy/Piggy, celebrated his birthday yesterday in the comfort of his own house. Tons of people were invited, booze being the only invite item needed. I still had to close the store with my other partners. Delay in arrival was in the cards.

A couple of my friends were already there. A few unfamiliar faces welcomed us which was to be expected. Forgive us but the first thing we did upon arrival was scour for food. The closers were starving. We were starving. Migs’ mother, hereinafter referred to as Tita (Aunt), whipped us up some spaghetti, pansit, and barbecue. Tita is very nice and accommodating. Our group devoured a whole styropack full of barbecue while getting to know Tita and her whole family more. One of the more interesting facts we found out was that their family is musically-inclined. A keyboard was placed near the entrance. Adjacent to it was a set of drums and some speakers. A brown acoustic guitar lay flat on their soft brown sofa. One couldn’t be anymore music-ey than that.

Getting down to business, one of the few things I told Migs is I’ll take a shot or two for him. It was his birthday; he’s my brother from another mother. I took a shot of Emperador Light and drank this chaser specially concocted by Migs. I distinctly remember him referring to it as his Special Juice. What made it special, I have yet to ask. I guess there are stuff that I just don’t need to know. My second shot came in the form of a half-full jigger of Bacardi. I felt the heat in my throat as I gulped it. Even with ice cold water, my body temperature rised and my throat felt really dry. Just shows how much of a non-drinker I am.

My Park Square partners arrived a little later. I hugged them so tight. I missed those kiddos. Catching up proved to be challenging but still manageable. Park Square’s Team Building is nearing. I’m psyched up!

Singing, dancing, partying, drinking, socializing. Pretty much all the necessary elements of a party was present. It wasn’t long before the birthday boy himself passed out in his room. At least, I think he was in his room. Migs has been drinking from late afternoon until an hour past midnight. He couldn’t even walk straight. Hosting a dope party like that drained him. With endurance and alcohol tolerance that high, he’s a vital element for any party.

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Happy birthday, Migs! Thanks for having us!

The Arrival

To celebrate the arrival of Jerome, my cousin’s Alexa’s boyfriend, they have set a dinner date at Conti’s. All housemates were invited.

Our supposed rendezvous time was 6PM. Obviously, with me having to clock out at 5PM and battling head on against the apocalyptic event known as the Rush Hour, tardiness was inevitable. Anyone who has had to undergo this trial would know. I actually made good time, arriving at around twenty minutes past the hour of six.

Conti’s Bakeshop and Restaurant located at President’s Ave. in BF Parañaque was a good choice. Having tried many of their items from the menu, I can say that they make it a point to serve high quality food. My taste buds have already been acquainted with their salads, pastas, and cakes. It was high time I tried a rice meal. Choosing was tough. Pork, Chicken, Beef, even breakfast meals – they had a wide array of choices to choose from with so little time. I settled with a Chicken Teriyaki eventually. I wanted a hint of Japanese for dinner.

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The juicy chicken drenched in sweet Teriyaki sauce and sorta crunchy sautéed bean sprouts was a harmonious blend of flavors. The Japanese rice was nothing special.

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Look at our happy faces. You can tell we were satisfied with the food. Yes, our plates have been touched. They just look full.

Now for some desserts. I felt really bloated after eating my dish with another side of extra garlic rice. But who can resist dessert? I certainly can’t. I paired up with Stephanie and ordered a Black Velvet cake. Both of us were aware that our limits have been reached and it was near impossible to finish an entire slice of cake on our own. Alexa and Jerome paired up and chose an Oreo Cheesecake. Not a fan of cheesecakes.

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For me, desserts are vital for completing meals – it seals the deal. Unfortunately, this Black Velvet wasn’t my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, and even if I wasn’t that full, my taste buds won’t deceive me. One thing I liked about the cake though is the toned down sugar level. Very tolerable even for someone like me who loves exponential levels of sugar. Did I mention the dessert was Alexa’s treat? Hooray!

Dry Run

What do you do when you open seven stores of a franchise? You open an eighth one. At least, that’s what the guys of Project Pie PH are aiming for.

The awesome guys of Project Pie PH has always had their eyes on Makati. An opportunity to open up two stores in the ever bustling city came at a price that I am unable to describe clearly. One is at Park Square (my previous store) that opened its doors at around the second half of July. Fast forward to around two months and the second store – Valero – came to be.

Project Pie Valero, the eighth store, had their dry run yesterday. Along with Block 28 Alabang partners, we dropped by to support their Officer In Charge – Beau (previously a Manager of Block 28). Transpo was courtesy of Gel and her Trooper. New additions and alterations were incorporated to the tried-and-tested already-loved interior. One notable tweak was the revamping of the line. The new layout featured a U-shaped line and was significantly shorter compared to the lines of other branches. With two stories, I half expected the store to have more space. Wrong. The second floor spanned only half the length of the building. I feel like a lot of space was wasted. Then again, I might just have missed the al fresco which was still under construction. Overall, the store was reminiscent of a New York restaurant.

Our group was luckily entitled to four free pizzas regardless if we had invites or not. Yes, dry runs cater exclusively to invite holders. Coincidentally, there were eight of us. Four pairs in total.

The pairs:
Gel and JJ
• Diane and Agnes
• Me and Benjo
• Bea and Sabs

Save the best for last.

I figured giving either one of our names was too typical. A combination of our names were out of the question.  I suggested to Benjo that we use a different name. To deviate from the usual. That’s when an imaginary lightbulb lit up above my head. Superman. Out of the blue, I came up with Superman. Benjo approved. Plus, the dough greeter and other partners were amused. It was a win-win situation. We ordered a modified number 6 and divided it into two. Our pizzas were ready in minutes.

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Upstairs, we spotted a table by the window. Park Square partners were also present. Catching up proved to be really challenging. So little time. So much stuff to talk about. I mingled with pretty much everyone I was acquainted with.

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When it was time to leave, it started pouring as if to keep us at bay. No rain could stop us though. We pushed through and asked Gel to drop us at Park Square by the terminal. Diane and I couldn’t wait to enter Project Pie Park Square. Racing with each other, we rushed to the entrance. Kuya Jay, the guard on duty, opened the door for us. Without a second to waste, I hugged everybody really tight and exchanged I Miss You’s and How Are You’s. Words couldn’t express how much I missed my Park Square Partners and Managers. My face was lit with a smile the moment I walked in until the moment I left the store.