Friday, November 30


The group had a blast in yesterday's swimming party. It was planned several days ahead, of course, but the bulk of preparation happened in Wednesday night when the group started the preparation and cooked all the food that will be brought to the beach. Almost all the gang were in Fidel's flat, which is only on top of our flat, and so we also didn't miss the fun. Actually, the dinner that night happened in our flat, of course, after they had finished cooking "bulalo" in Fidel's. After dinner, some of our friends played tong-its, while some, including me, watched movies. We had finished two movies that Wednesday night - Blood Diamonds and Over the Hedge. The group decided everything is ready and finished at around 1AM and decided to go back to their respective flats.

We started going to the beach early on Thursday, the bus is actually rolling at 8:30AM. We reached the resort before 11AM, and since it is almost winter already, we were not immediately able to dip into the water as it was still very cold. The wind, of course, is quite strong this time of year, which made the waves a little bit bigger than they usually are, and when we finally decided to swim, we had a fun time riding these quite big waves, which made the activity all the more funny. After our rendezvous in the water, the boys decided to take a little swig at the nearby clubhouse. the girls, meanwhile, stayed at the cottage, and continued nibbling on the abundant food that were prepared the night before.

We decided to leave the resort around 4PM to go to the mall and bought some stocks - food, toiletries, etc. After staying and roaming in two nearby malls, we decided to visit our favorite fish restaurant and eat good grilled fish at 8PM. We finally get to go back at 9:30, and arrived home at 11:00PM.

It was indeed an exhausting but enjoyable day...

Food and Cooking

One of my passions is cooking. It's not cooking as in cooking like a chef, but the kind which you might call home-cooking cooking. I'd like to cook and have Alice critique it, and I relish when Alice liked a particular recipe. When I'm still in the Philippines, I also cooked for the kids... I'm always looking forward to that time when I can cook for them again, especially those dishes which they really like.

Anyways, I've been experimenting with some dishes during the past several days, and I guess - based on Alice's feedback - that they are quite good. I've made our own recipe for home-made hamburgers, and we've made a dinner of hamburger steaks one time, combined with Alice's famous mashed potatoes :) It was indeed sumptuous, and both Alice and I finished two big burgers each. Then I've made some medium-sized chicken balls another day, deep-fried them and finally made a sweet and sour dish out of them. Alice liked it and thus, after that, our next meal had been chicken balls dipped in Thai sweet-chili sauce.

When we get the chance, we buy salmon steaks in our favorite supermarket. Both Alice and I like baked salmon with only the usual salt, freshly ground pepper, and butter on it, with sparse topping of parsley when it's cooked. This dish had been one of our favorites now, and we always have a nice meal everytime it's on the menu for the meal of the day.

For sure, there will be more food and recipes that I'll try, and more dishes to be perfected and made favorite. A good thing about cooking is you can always experiment. And with Alice always giving good "reviews", I could keep on doing it.

Wednesday, November 28

Finally, today...

I configured and put up my site... it's not really my own actually, I am sharing it with Alice and the kids... however, I am the one managing it (well, that's understandable). Putting up a site, I learned, really requires patience. You have first to register your domain, subscribe to a hosting server (if you do not have a 24-hour machine to host your website), then wait for your domain to propagate over the web, and finally create the web pages for your site.

I actually created only a single page in the meantime. It actually serves as portal to all the sites that I and Alice have been maintaining through these years. Most of these sites are social networking sites, by the way. And most of the contents are journals (blogs) and pictures about our own personal and work activities, as well as those of our kids'. Anyways, having a portal that will compile all those is really another very good step, as our friends (both existing and future) will have a single site to go through everytime they would want to visit any of our existing sites.

Although the site is currently a one-page site initially, I am planning to expand it to a full-blown personal-commercial site in the future, and hence, you can expect developments on the site in the coming days or weeks. Hopefully, and if time permits, I could improve it quickly for the benefit of everybody.

As it is right now, you can visit the site to go to our journals and blogs at or alternatively use Alice's domain which also points to that address at

Well then, see you there!

Monday, November 26

Celebrating a birthday...

It's Rain's birthday today... she's seven years old now... as we've been chronicling on our family's site, she's helping her Mima organize her birthday party for quite a while now. I didn't really believe she'd been that "mature" already, but indeed she is, as narrated by her Mima - my mother - when they called me this afternoon, just after the celebration...

My mother told me that Rain was very happy, and really was in a very jovial mood throughout the celebration. She said that the little girl made the table hopping herself, talking and joking with her guests - some friends in school, neighbors, and of course, aunts, uncles, and cousins. She also told me that Rain even sang a song for the visitors during the party, and distributed the loot bags to the kids who attended her party. She don't usually do those things during her previous birthday celebrations, she's always the shy type. I guess the girl is really growing up...

What really moved me during our conversation was the little story that my mother told me during our conversation: she said that in the morning when they are still preparing the tables and chairs, and doing some decorations at the place, she paused for a while and sat on a chair feeling a little pain on her nape. She rested for a while thinking that maybe she has a case of high blood pressure. Rain approached her after a while asking how she's feeling... she said she had to rest a little since she's not feeling too well. Suddenly, she said, Rain looked at her very seriously and said, "Mima, me sasabihin ako sa 'yo" ...she asked her "What is it?", thinking that maybe Rain would ask for another thing to be bought or another thing to be done in the party. Rain then said she's a little bit embarrassed to say it.

Her Mima then told the little girl, "you can tell it to me, there's no problem"... Rain then looked at her intently once more, and with tears welling in her eyes said: "Mima, thank you very much, ha?... for everything." At that point, my mother told me that she was not able to contain her emotions and cried. I was eating at the cafeteria when my mother told me that story... I would've cried - I want to cry, actually - if not for the many people there eating their lunch at that time. Alice may had seen the sadness in my face that she asked what happened. I had to pause for a while and clear the lump in my throat before narrating her the story.

Anyways, our little girl's birthday party went well... as I talked to Rain after my conversation with her Mima, she was still in a party mood. She said she'd had many gifts, and even received some money from friends. She's even already had one special gift that she already liked very much - the one given by her Tita Jet, Alice's eldest sister. She said that she's a little sad that her teachers were not able to attend the party, but anyhow, she's also happy that some of her friends and classmates were there. From the way she sounded when she told me more stories about her party, I would have to say that the celebration was indeed successful even though we're not there...

I somehow feel guilty that we're not there on our little girl's birthday party, me and Alice. I even felt more sad when my mother told me that "Thank You" story. I guess somehow, our kids really had grown up and become more mature faster to cope with us not being there with them throughout most of their growing years. I guess that's a natural outcome of one's adaptation to their current environment. But somehow too, I am thankful that they're able to cope with us being not there with them... as I mentioned previously, everybody in the family is doing his or her share of sacrifice in the family's current situation, and I'm very proud of my kids for always hanging tough and still remaining their sweet and respectful self for us...

As Rain celebrated her birthday today, I could see she's really grown up... in more ways that I can imagine.

I love you my little girl... happy birthday again...

Friday, November 23

Preparing for a party...

Our only daughter, Rain, will be turning seven this Sunday. As we're not there to prepare for that important day in our little girl's life, we have relied on key family members to do the preparation for us. For her part, Rain had told everybody else there what she wants and what she needs for the party. The preparation had been going on for more than a month now... not that it will be a very big party, Rain wants it to be a simple celebration - with only the family members, some of her school friends, and teachers to attend.

Anyways, as they prepare for the event little by little, it took them a month for the planning and execution to complete everything. We found out that our little girl has a knack for events planning, as she directs her Mima how she wants the party to be. As it is, they are now into the finishing touches, just checking their orders and making sure that everything will be ready come Sunday. We told them to take many pictures so that we'll have many to see and relish. Well, that's another sacrifice we have to make :(

Anyways, I had chronicled several important communication between me and Rain during her preparation, and I posted them in the Calendar section of the family's site ( You can check them there. In the meantime, Alice and I are hoping the coming storm won't ruin everything Rain and her Mima had worked for...

Thursday, November 22

Wednesday Club

Pinoy expats here in our place had this tradition of meeting together every Wednesday evening for a nighttime of casual conversation, good food, and just being Pinoys and friends with each other. Nobody actually started it formally, it just came into being that way. I remember the time when we're just new here, Alice and I, and two other Pinoys working in the same office as ours. We'll call each other up on the phone on Wednesday nights, asking each other to walk to the city centre for just the fun of it... we'll settle in one of the many restaurants dotting the Centre afterwards, the kind that's usually frequented by other expats trying to while the time away. We'll talk of our jobs, the office, this new place that we're in and how we're currently coping, our families back home, any and all topics, really... and just like the others, we'll spend hours there, whiling away time, until we get sleepy and decide to go home again. This simple routine usually takes us several hours - usually until very late at night - but we're thankful for each other's company... well, at least even for several hours a week, we tend to forget the rigours of everyday activities at work, and we feel like we're in the Philippines all over again with the company of other working Pinoys.

When more Filipinos began coming in this place, our small group slowly became bigger and bigger... and suddenly we found ourselves occupying several tables in the restaurant, the biggest group of regulars there during Wednesday nights. We were even given the same waiter to serve us everytime we go there. Our simple routine became an important weekly activity for Pinoy expats in this place... we had formed the Wednesday Club.

The meeting of the Wednesday Club is one activity that's always anticipated by Pinoy expats in this area. It's meeting is actually an informal one, its activities are just plain talking with other "members", sharing new jokes, and just being good buddies. But it became very important because it deepened the bond of Pinoys... it strengthened their friendship. For the last year or so, I haven't experienced a week that the meeting was cancelled. Sometimes, it's moved to Thursday or maybe even Tuesday (when there are other important activities that most "members" should attend) but everybody made it a point to be together once a week. I do believe that this is one characteristic of the Filipinos that makes them different from other nationalities. We really extend our family as much as possible... and in a foreign land, we do that through our Pinoy friends, our brothers and sisters here.

Tonight is one of those nights the Wednesday Club had their get-together... Alice and I had just arrived from the meeting, and with tonight's get-together ending quite late, Alice immediately fell asleep after arriving. I'm still listening to Alice's collection of rhythm and blues in her iPod nano... sleep hasn't caught me yet. While at it, I decided to write a blog, and well, what better topic than the just-concluded activity. The Wednesday Club had been there for more than a year already, and I haven't written anything about it yet... the Club had already witnessed many things, and for sure, it will witness still many more. Various stories will definitely be written for the Club. For now at least, the Club's history (in this blog) had begun.

Friday, November 9


It's weekend today... there's nothing much to do aside from a little paperwork I brought from the office last week. And so, after getting my hair cut from the barbershop at the corner near our flat, Alice and I visited our favorite fruits and vegetables store which happens to also be near our home and bought some ingredients for the dish that we'd like to cook for lunch. After everything's ready, we proceeded to cook...

I've been wanting to cook kare-kare for several days now, and I decided this is another perfect time to cook one. We bought some cubed beef from the supermarket several days ago, and there are still some pieces left from the dish we'd cooked before which I thought will be good for kare-kare. I had eggplant and sitaw just freshly bought from the nearby veggie store, and all other ingredients are available from our stock... and so, after sometime, I had another kare-kare steaming from the pan and going to the dish...

Alice, meanwhile, had decided to cook "ginataang halo-halo" for dessert. Well, I guess you have to read about it in her blog, since I know she'll write about it there :)

Anyways, we shared these sumptuous dishes with two of our close friends at lunch, eating them while watching Pearl Harbor and enjoying ourselves with some light casual conversation. It was indeed a nice weekend.

Thursday, November 8


In this new world we currently live in, everything is connected. Thus, you can communicate with your loved ones easily and efficiently using the telephone or the Internet, your office sends your salary to your bank which is in turn connected to your favorite supermarket, and to your electric and water companies, and even to your credit card/s. You even do your studies on the web, connected with other learners - your classmates - who are located in other parts of the world.

We really are living in a connected society these days, and for us to function well and efficiently, we have to be connected with the rest of them. Thus, our companies try very hard to be connected, both inside and outside. But getting connected is only half the story... getting connected fast - at least for companies - really makes the difference. That's why being the manager of the network infrastructure of a company serving a network of more than 600 computers really becomes very very difficult if your connection bandwidth is only a normal DSL-grade technology. And that's why, after weeks of tensed anticipation, I got ecstatic yesterday when we finally got the E1 connectivity we've been waiting for, and the assurance of getting a lower grade T2 after sometime.

What can we do with an E1? Well, that's a no-brainer actually. Having languished in our external data transmission for quite a while now, an E1 connectivity is like a breath of fresh air. That means the data transmission speed for our external connectivity will at least be several times faster than it was before. Well, it is really nowhere beside our internal speed of 1 Gigabit per second, but it will be good for our staff and also our clients' works. Moreover, having a good external speed allows the staff to get connected to the Internet faster which is essential when you're maintaining e-learning courses and is dependent on the Web for much of the information you use in your work.

Anyways, getting an E1 line is definitely good news, both for the company's staff and me (especially). At least in my case, complaints from staff about the Internet connection speed will be diminished for quite a while (I hope). More so, I can focus now on other infrastructure matters like consolidating our servers and getting blade servers for that purpose, and upgrading our storage capacities by implementing SAN instead.

Well then, I think I can relax even for a little while now...

Monday, November 5

Notting Hill

This is definitely my favorite movie.

Let me just make it clear. I'm not really a fan of Julia Roberts (although I'd say some of her movies are done well), nor of Hugh Grant (I prefer the other "Hugh" of the series "House"). But I really really like Notting Hill. And I don't know why. Maybe it's because of the simplicity of the story... or the fact that it's the most successful love story formula: similar to that of Cinderella and other fairy tale classics. And this one's with a twist: the guy is the not-so-famous-and-rich one. Well, whatever it is, I always get that familiar rush of emotion on the scene when Anna utters the most important dialogue of the movie: "... i'm only just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her..." as well as the last dialogue between the two, when Hugh asks Julia if she'll reconsider... maybe I'm a sentimental romantic afterall :)

I got the chance to watch it again tonight when a friend of ours brought the VCD to our place for a night of good movie. What can I say? It's definitely feel good... I love it.

Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel

It is always good to go back to things that you love. Be it movies, books, or places, you always want to re-experience the thrill and the emotion you get when you read, watch or visit them again.

I learned to know and like Isaac Asimov from his Foundation series when I started to get fascinated by science fiction stories during the 90s. Way back then, I think I read every book of that series and the other Asimov works that are related to it. Anyways, when I visited my favorite bookstore sometime ago, I happen to pass by those "bargain" books that they have - those with two stories or novels in one paperback. More fortunately for me, I saw a classic Asimov novel, Caves of Steel, together with an extra series, The Rest of the Robots. Of course I bought it.

I just finished reading the Caves of Steel three or four days ago. It was actually one of the first novels written by Asimov, and also the one where he introduced his so-called "new generation" of robots that are the opposite of the mephistophelian variety that existed before it.

The Caves of Steel is where Asimov introduced the three laws of robotics. This is where he introduced the idea of positronic brain and the humanoid robot. It is a police story set in the future, when humans and robots co-existed, and when extra-terrestrial colonization is the norm. Asimov painted a picture of the modern "city", where efficiency is prioritized over individuality and privacy. It is the future earth according to Asimov. And it is classic.

The story of The Caves of Steel, its setting and its ideas may be absurd to some, but it can also be the future. One good thing about Asimov's work is that they are close to reality, and the more we read and think, the more convinced we become that they could happen someday. Robots and humanoids and space colonization could be eons away from us, but reading Asimov make them quite already here now. That is why I like reading his works. They always are interesting pieces.


Alice had always loved coffee. She drinks it in the morning, and also drinks it at nighttime. Sometimes in the afternoon, she also drinks it. And Alice loves good coffee even more. Thus, she can spend time (and dollars) sipping coffee at Starbucks, or Gloria Jeans... and sometimes also at Costa and Seattle's Best. Well, if it's about coffee, you bet Alice will be there (to sip)...

Anyways, while wandering around the mall one weekend, we passed by a new coffee shop. The place is kind of small, similar to those small kiosks you'll usually see at the middle of mall corridors in-between the shops at the sides. The coffee shop is situated under the escalator in one of the wings of the mall, and people are crowding, that's why we got interested. The coffee shop's name is Barista Espresso.

After finding a seat, we ordered two short cappuccinos as well as two blueberry cheesecake. The cakes were good... well, knowing this region, definitely cakes will always be superb. The coffee?... better! They even have those big coffee cups, the variety that's being used in Costa - those ones that are the size of a small bowl. I really really like to drink my coffee from those cups (sorry Starbucks!). Anyways, Alice loved the coffee (as usual) and put it on the same league as the others.

And so, we spent a little bit of time at the Barista Espresso, sipping our coffee and savoring the cake... and reading on the side... it was a good way to spend the weekend.

Sunday, November 4

Missy Higgins, Akon, and a long road trip...

I need to go to the main office of my company three days ago to submit some important papers. I was actually ok with it, except that the main office is almost 200 kilometers away from my place! Well, this is one of those times I couldn't do anything to postpone it, and so, after waking up early that morning and doing all the necessary activities one has to do after waking up, I started with my long journey...
This is one of those rare moments when I curse myself for not buying a car... I just contented myself riding in the bus, and brace for the two or more hours bus ride that I will have. After settling in one of the seats near the front, I plugged my iRiver earphones and proceeded on listening to my favorite Missy Higgins songs... well, at least I have Missy Higgins to give me company during this trip. This is one of those times when I really appreciate my iRiver and the Missy Higgins songs that were saved there.
And so it went... I had the iRiver phones plugged in my ears and Missy Higgins constantly humming there while I waited for the bus to finally arrive at the destination. The bus ride took a little more than two hours, I arrived at the main office, look for the person I need to talk to, and then finally submitted the papers. It took me just a little more than 30 minutes to finish my task! And after that, I have nothing to do anymore...
I don't want to bear the agony of taking another two-hour bus ride that quickly, and so, I went to the mall first. I spent several hours roaming the shops, which allowed me to find a Tissot watch that I really wanted to buy. Anyways, I think I got my wits back at the last minute and I decided not to buy it that time... at least I will have enough time to think :)
Anyways, after window shopping at the mall, I proceeded to a favorite eating place - the one with very good grilled fish, and ate a good dish. After that I decided everything is finally settled, and I decided to go home.
During the trip home, the bus driver started playing Akon's music. I decided to just listen to Akon's "R" lyrics for a change, and it somehow made the trip back home a little less discomforting. I arrived late at the flat that night and with that, another day is over...

The Google Story

I finished reading this book more than two weeks ago. However, due to pressing deadlines in the office, I was not able to write anything - reviews, blogs, anything - in all my web spaces in the past couple of weeks, and thus I am only writing this review tonight...

The Google Story is the colorful story of the Google Guys - Larry Page and Sergei Brin, and how they build, developed, and made a dot com empire that is now called Google. The book narrated how these two PhD students from Stanford University met each other, became friends, made more friends and contacts, and from there had the idea of building a dot com company that will evolve in an important product - the search engine. The book also intimated how the then two would-be billionaires decided not to be conventional in all their business approaches, choosing instead to build their company using the alternative ways, and constantly trying not to succumb to the charm of being businessmen, and do their business ways as businessmen do.

Larry and Sergei chose to remain technologists and run their company as technologists would, and in the process maintain their mantra of "Do not be evil" in creating their empire as we know Google today.The Google Story is a success story - we all know that, of course - that shows how it pays to chase a dream and constantly working to realize it. It also shows that a company can be big and dynamic, motivated and progressive without having to be similar to others. The Google Story tries to teach its readers that to build a motivated company, one (or two) have to make the employees happy and contented, to the point of providing them gourmet free lunch and spas at work. The Google Story is a triumph of technology... but more importantly, it is the triumph of the human spirit fueled by an ordinary dream. The Google Story is probably played by gifted individuals, but the story can be realized by anyone... its story is for everyone.
As an added bonus, the Google Story also narrated some inside happenings about the dot com business as it is today. It intimated how Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and many other big players in the IT arena constantly haggle, quarrel, and make friends with each other again, to survive, win and stay on top of their business areas. It gives us a glimpse of what's happening at the corridors of IT powers, and how the big players lay their cards on the IT business table. Indeed, it also teaches us a point or two in IT business.

For these and for all its worth, The Google Story is indeed an interesting read.

Google Fast Facts:

Google Inc. was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergei Brin, when the two were only in their late 20s; Page and Brin, both 34 years old this year are worth 18.5 billion US$ today (according to Forbes magazine); Google has been in the top 5 companies in terms of value for several years now; the company's last quarter profit is approximately 2.5 billion US$; as of December 2005, it has 5,680 fulltime employees; Eric Schmidt previously of Cisco Systems is the current CEO; Googleplex is the name of the sprawling complex of the company; Google came from the word Googol, a mathematical term for the number 1 followed by a hundred zeros.