Monday, April 29, 2013

Focus through the bright sunlight - online

It's stifling hot and horrendously humid. Summer is the season when I just can't stand driving without wearing sunglasses, or even when going out to buy lunch. Even if I don't get to wear them often as I am indoors for the most part of the day, I love wearing sunnies whenever I can. They instantly add that cool factor and make almost anyone look better than they really are, myself included. Ha!

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I just found a place on the web, Focus Online, that's a one-stop shop for all things sunglasses. It carries a number of well-known brands like Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Persol, Carrera, and Ray Ban, to name but a few.

One Tagaytay Place: Not exactly the one place to be in Tagaytay

We recently tried One Tagaytay Place for a brief overnight stay. We didn't want to spend much and got a good deal from Asia Travel. Because Php 5,000 for a one-bedroom suite doesn't sound bad, we got it despite some of the negative reviews I've read.

Reservation and check-in
We booked via Asia Travel so I can't say much about the hotel's reservation experience other than that they have an online booking facility. Check-in, on the other hand, proceeded without a hitch while we sipped on our welcome drinks. I was, however, slightly miffed when they wouldn't give me an extra key card. There were three of us together who may not all be going out of the room at the same time, which was why an extra key was needed. They just said they can't and that any staff could help me get in if the need be anyway. Really?

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The hotel lobby. The ceiling is very low that I can touch that overhead lamp over there.


Friday, April 26, 2013

REVIEW | Iron Man 3: Tony Stark and much less of the iron suit

Iron Man 3 is not really a sequel to Iron Man 2 but rather a follow-up to that blockbuster fun ride that was The Avengers. The film takes place after the events in New York City (Remember that alien invasion action extravaganza?), which was repeatedly referenced throughout the movie. Apparently it has left Tony Stark scarred, who's now suffering from sleepless nights, panic attacks, and even a bit of paranoia.

This third installment in the Iron Man franchise takes on a very Tony-centric approach, and as such, we see a lot of Robert Downey Jr without the tin suit, something reminiscent of the first movie -- heck, even more than the first movie! It was a clever treatment in which we get to see Stark as the real hero, with or without the suit. It was nice to see him make do of what he has, to see gadgets fail, and to once more bear witness to his creative genius.

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Ben Kingsley as "The Mandarin."

While the film attempts an introspective ride, it stops itself short of becoming too dark each time, what with Stark's funny and irreverent quips and one-liners. Even in the supposedly bleakest of circumstances, and with a mysterious and portentous villain in The Mandarin that he has to deal with with practically nothing, you can always count on Stark's cockiness to prevail. This is, after all, no Dark Knight.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

[Throwback (Travel) Thursday 04.25.2013] Doing the Underground River's 'Monkey Trail'

Today everyone seems to be flocking to see the famed Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, especially after it was named as one of the New 7 Wonders of the Natural World last year. People come in droves! But ten years ago, this wasn't the case at all. This Throwback Thursday post is not about the Underground River, though. Instead, it's about our little journey getting there.

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Me giving that Robin Padilla stare on one of the beaches we came across with during our trek.

I was with a colleague from our local office in Puerto Princesa then, and after a three-hour bumpy jeepney ride (now the roads are all concrete), we found ourselves at Sabang Beach, the jump-off point. As to how to actually get to the Underground River, we were faced with two options: first, by a very easy, no-sweat 20-minute boat ride; or second, via an approximately 2-hour arduous trek. Thinking of how pointless our 3-hour trip would be if we just took a boat, we went with the latter option.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

[Lookbook 04.24.2013] Covered up for summer

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Temperatures are rising and ironically, I decided to cover myself up. It's so easy to fall for short-sleeves and other such stuff in this weather but sometimes we need to layer, if only to dress things up a bit. And today I did just that with this lightweight jacket, at least at the office.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Warby Parker launches new 1922 collection

It sure seems that innovative eyewear maker Warby Parker has recently developed a fascination for all things vintage starting with its Hayworth Collection back in February and this time again with its limited-edition 1922 Collection. But I'm not complaining, of course.

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"Translating interwar glamour into a wearable future," the 1922 Collection introduces eyeglasses in three new frames in Warby Parker's signature custom acetate and stainless steel. And I'm loving the old-world appeal!

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Harry Potter would love these perfectly round and lightweight spectacles. They're both playful and formal, and they come in both gold and silver.

[Lookbook 04.22.2013] Brown man revival

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Yesterday was Earth Day. But instead of being so green, I was so brown. Anyway, brown is an earth color, right? So I'm not totally out of touch after all. And besides, putting on pieces in varying shades of brown is such a mindless thing to do. It's sure to work.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

[Throwback (Travel) Thursday 04.18.2013] Puerto Princesa's Sabang Beach a decade ago

Everyone seems to be so familiar with Palawan's Underground River, thanks to Puerto Princesa's massive campaign for its inclusion in that 7 Wonders of the Natural World thing. Sadly, people are also quick to overlook the gorgeous beach right there at the jump-off, which, in itself, deserves some respect. This is Sabang Beach.

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Happy me on Sabang Beach.

I first fell in love with the beach ten years ago when I went to see the famed Underground River in one of those side trips I make when I'm out doing field work. Sabang is a long and wide beach with cream-colored sand that's very fine and foot-friendly. It has a gradual sloping seabed that's perfect for swimming although there was nary a soul in sight.

Monday, April 15, 2013

[Lookbook 04.15.2013] Marooned and blue

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Haven't done an outfit post for some time now although I'm not really coming back with a bang. The punishing heat of summer hear in the tropics just drains you of any desire to dress up. So this week I'm making an effort to dress up a bit, as long as they don't make me sweat like a pig.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Beating the summer heat with homemade paletas and ice pops

Ever since we came back from our short getaway at Pico de Loro Cove, My Bibe has been steadily making us paletas, those Latin American ice pops made from fresh fruit. Blame it on the sweltering summer heat but I am definitely one happy guy at home.

A healthier alternative to ice cream, paletas are fairly easy to make. It's basically just mixing stuff, freeze them, and voila! Here are some of what we've been enjoying so far:

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Diced mangoes, preserved cherries, mangosteen juice, and a few greens for color.

We have these cutesy popsicle molds but lately we've been leaning more towards paper cups because they allow for bigger servings.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

[Throwback Thursdays 04.11.2013] My first communion

It's flashback to the 80s with this week's throwback post: my very first communion!

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One of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, the Holy Eucharist is probably one of the most important. One first receives it only after a certain age, and only after baptism and his first confession. I remember first communions were done in conjunction with some liturgical ceremony. Mine was in third grade.

I was such an angel back then, am I not?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kwittie Boy's summer cut

I haven't posted anything about our cats in a very long time. Anyway, yesterday we finally brought our oh-so-furry Kwittie Boy to the groomer because it's just so hot. Imagine wearing a fur coat day in and day out at temperatures between 34 to 36 degrees Celsius! I'm sure that's how he feels. (Just look at him here.)

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Time to go, Kwittie Boy.

Our cats aren't used to going out of the house that much, so whenever Kwittie Boy sees me bringing out the pet carrier, he scampers away. He hates it. Just look:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

TRAVEL | The vastness of Pico de Loro Cove

I mentioned in a previous post that we've recently been to Pico de Loro Cove in Batangas, the first phase of development on the sprawling 5,900-hectare Hamilo Coast by SM Land. Pico de Loro is but one of 13 different coves along this property, so more construction can be expected. However, only 1/3 of the total land area is developable and the rest will be left to nature, at least according to their representation.

The lagoon area
Development on Pico de Loro involved construction of condo units spread among several buildings around a (presumably) man-made lagoon. And with the surrounding mountains that somehow serve as a perimeter around the structures, it's a beautiful and picturesque layout.

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Picturesque, I kid you not. Buildings are reflected on the placid waters of the lagoon.

People could either own a unit or simply become a club member to enjoy access to the place and its facilities. But since they've added a hotel into the fold, the Pico Sands Hotel (read my Pico Sands Hotel review), that air of exclusivity has dissipated. Yes, non-unit owners and non-members like me can come here now.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Capology: It's all about caps... and more!

There was once this phase in my life when I wore baseball caps a bit often, especially when I didn't want to worry about styling my ugly hair. I've been thinking why I have stopped wearing them somehow since it also served me a purpose, and that maybe I should wear them again, at least sometimes. But I don't know where my caps are in the house right now; sucked up in a black hole perhaps.

Browsing, I stumbled upon online store Capology that sold, well, what else but caps! I'm not really the sporty type and I'm not much into hiphop and urban wear either. But still I saw a lot of pieces that I think will suit my usual style, like these cute Marvel and DC designs here:

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Marvel and DC Comics designs from New Era.

Cute, right? I also thought this striped number here would provide a nice twist to a preppy outfit. I mean, looking at it I'm reminded of seersucker suits.

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King Apparel Rs 5panel in navy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

[Throwback (Travel) Thursdays 04.04.2013] Trek to the crater of Pinatubo

This week I'm taking a retrospective look at my mountaineering days. Back in March 2005, we at the Smart Mountaineering Club organized an open climb to Mt. Pinatubo, that infamous volcano that, in 1991, produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century and sent humungous amounts of aerosol into the atmosphere, which resulted in a drop of 0.5°Celsius in global temperatures. The havoc wreaked by the eruption stretched on for years.

Eventually the destructive lahar flows have eased and Mt. Pinatubo has since become a tourist attraction with its lahar canyons and picturesque lake at the crater. While today the norm is to hop on board 4X4 vehicles all the way to the foot of the crater, at the time hiking was still prevalent. It wasn't much of a climb, as the slopes were extremely gradual, hardly noticeable in fact. And so we dubbed that activity "Trek to the Crater of Pinatubo," or TCP.

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It's a desert out here, framed by fragile and ever-eroding lahar canyons.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pico Sands Hotel: Not quite there yet

We recently had the chance to visit Pico de Loro Cove, the first phase of that gargantuan development along the 5,900-hectare Hamilo Coast in Batangas. Although it's primarily a residential and club membership facility, people like me who neither own club shares or a unit there (or even know someone who does) are still welcome because they also operate a hotel.

I'm writing about our experience at the Pico Sands Hotel first and just save the rest for a separate post (read The Vastness of Pico de Loro). And yes, this is a review.

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A section of the view from our room at the Pico Sands Hotel.

Reservation
The hotel's website is practically useless. Apart from not having an online booking facility, there's also hardly any information about the rooms other than the floor area and size of the bed. No published rates either. So I had to call to get a better picture of the room and how much. FYI, room rates differ for members, referrals from members, and non-members, that last category being the most expensive. And since it was Holy Week, a super peak time throughout the country, the rate was even more expensive at Php 12,500 a night.

To be fair, however, processing my reservation was fast. After our phone conversation, it didn't take long for them to send me a confirmation email. And once I replied with my confirmation and credit card guarantee, that was it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

For all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

There sure is a lot of buzz building up for the new Michael Bay-produced film adaptation of our beloved "heroes in a half-shell," the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As it is, those tough green warriors are slowly making their way into mainstream consciousness once again after peaking in popularity in the 90s. But of course, fans would argue they never really left.

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The turtles with Sensei Splinter.

Anyway, while that movie still has a long way to go as it hasn't even started shooting yet, fans can always get their fix of TMNT news or take comfort in the latest cartoon series on Nickelodeon, which acquired the rights to the franchise back in 2009. And just like the turtles, please do so with lots of pizza on hand.

There's also an unofficial fan site for all things TMNT including news, features, quotes, and more. To the uninitiated, you can introduce yourself to the world of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello with short and comprehensive bios for each of the turtles. The site may be unofficial but it's owned and maintained by true fans who, without a doubt, know their stuff.
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