The Great Bangkok Binge-Walk, Day One: A Glimpse of The Grand Palace

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Welcome lunch at Baan Glom Gig courtesy of Note (left) and her sister Nham (center)

Much as the midnight downpour is making me feel like I didn’t leave home, I’m glad to report that this trip did kick off on a positive Note. And yes, I intentionally capitalized the last word of the previous sentence because it happens to be the name of my gracious host. I first met Note three years ago, when she visited the Philippines and we took her to see Tagaytay. Fast forward to 2015 (specifically, earlier this morning), she wasted no time getting in touch with me just hours after my arrival. “I’m picking you up within an hour. Wear long pants and shoes”, she instructed via wonky Facebook call. Being a first-timer in the city, I promptly obliged.


Note arrived about half an hour later. As I stepped out of the elevator, she greeted me with a warm-hearted chuckle. “OK, so maybe you took it a bit too seriously”, she said, alluding that I was a tad overdressed. “I just wanted to be sure”, I replied, returning the chuckle. I boarded her car and met her sister Nham, whom she spoke lavishly about back in 2012.  Soon, we were off to brunch. “The place we’re taking you is very, very far from your hotel”, Note quipped as she turned at Soi Ruam Ruedi. It was a joke, as it turns out: Baan Glom Gig is only a quick stroll away from Chateau de Bangkok. Upon settling down, I further got acquainted with Nham over duck curry, omelette and rice cakes. Suffice to say, it was a hearty gastronomic welcome.

I accompanied the sisters over a quick errand. After which, Note whisked me off to Phra Nakhon (sans Nham) to see one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks: The Grand Palace.

Continue reading The Great Bangkok Binge-Walk, Day One: A Glimpse of The Grand Palace

“Bangkok, Oriental Setting…”

“…and the city don’t know what the city is getting.”

One Night in Bangkok by British actor Murray Head has been playing in my head since I arrived, except that it’s morning, and a rather gloomy one at that. Plus, I’ll be staying here for three more nights. (Sometimes I wish my brain came up with less literal mental soundtracks.) The climate here is no different from home, to be sure. Our send-off from Manila was heavy downpour; our Thai welcome was a slight drizzle.

We touched down in Suvarnabhumi Airport a little past midnight. But because of the prolonged immigration queue and a mix-up in transportation arrangements, we managed to enter the city in the wee hours of the morning. This means I have to wait 12 more hours until I imbibe the infamously glitzy nightlife.

Still, it’s good to finally make it to Thailand after several false fits and starts. I can’t wait to see the rest of the capital. But for now, some catch-up shuteye. Later!

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TOP ROW: The gloomy morning skyline, as seen from our hotel room; BOTTOM ROW: Glimpses of Chateau de Bangkok in Pathum Wan district, where we’ll be staying within the next three days
Welcome leis courtesy of Chateau de Bangkok front desk
Phuang Malai: Jasmine garlands that are, in effect, the Thai equivalent of the sampaguita leis sold ubiquitously in the streets of Manila: our welcome token c/o of Chateau de Bangkok’s front desk

Holy Week Escapade: Return to Baguio City

Growing up, summer usually meant an annual visit to Baguio. Considering that frequency, it’s almost hard to believe that this is my first visit in nine years. The Holy Week crowd extended our travel time by three hours, but thanks to TPLEX, we still managed to arrive before noon. The weather is relatively warm; the midday sun overpowered the characteristically cool climate – almost as if there’s no looming storm. 

Much has been said about the boom of commercialism taking its toll on the city’s indigenous charm. But, it’s still great to be back. 

Meanwhile, I still think it looks like a different animal.

Happy Day in Bahay Aruga!

Last Friday, TV5 celebrated UN’s International Day of Happiness with a visit to Bahay Aruga, a free halfway home for pediatric cancer patients nestled in the vicinity of Paco, Manila. Executives, celebrities, and other volunteers banded together in providing an afternoon of fun and laughter to the 27 residents, who were more than happy to welcome their special guests.

The kids were treated to song numbers by Tuesday Vargas and Marvelous Alejo and games facilitated by Ritz Azul, Chanel Morales, Chris Leonardo, and Malak So Shdifat. The short visit culminated with a ceremonial release of red balloons, which symbolizes the network’s goal to spread love and happiness.

Activities and performances aside, the real scene-stealers were the children, who never lost their capacities to laugh, play, and maintain their youthful spirits in the midst of their life-threatening condition. It was indeed one memorable afternoon, and we have these young warriors to thank!


Career Fest Crashers

Jobseekers who attended Day 2 of this year’s MVP Career Fest were in for a pleasant surprise when Kapatid celebrities dropped by the venue earlier this afternoon. The stars entertained the crowd in an intermission program hosted by News5 personalities MJ Marfori and Laila Chikadora. Their appearances were interspersed with motivational talks delivered by renowned executives.

Highlights include Talent Center artists Mark Neumann, Akihiro Blanco, Chris Leonardo, Alberto Bruno, Nicole Estrada, and Malak So Shdifat gyrating to Magic’s Rude. This was followed by an appearance by Tropa Moko mainstay Wendell Ramos and a raffle draw conducted by PBA players. The segment was capped off by two song numbers. First was by Talent Center‘s Marvelous Alejo, who took on a KZ Tandingan single. While the second was by Martin Escudero, who took on an iconic APO Hiking Society ballad.

Here are photos of those mentioned highlights:

My Bb. Pilipinas 2015 Wish List

Because of previously-scheduled commitments, there’s a cloud over my attendance in the Bb. Pilipinas 2015 pageant tonight. Thus, I’m left with no recourse but to catch the telecast as soon as I get home.

If last year was akin to Survivor: Fans VS. Favorites, the 2015 edition can be compared to Survivor: All-Stars. The roster of frontrunners consists of acclaimed three-peaters and highly-touted veterans from other local pageants. There’s also a tinge of showbiz royalty tossed in. Needless to say, expect this to be another tight race. (I know I say that almost every year, but this time, I mean it.) Here’s a quick rundown of my picks:

Continue reading My Bb. Pilipinas 2015 Wish List

Wrong Ramen, Right Company


Well, if there’s any consolation in missing Malasimbo for the umpteenth time, I got to reunite with my film school buddy Miray over dinner earlier. Prior to this, our last encounter was Direk Marilou‘s wake back in 2012. She relocated to Ireland via her husband’s new job posting ever since.

This catch-up paved away to another “reunion”. While I’ve eaten in Wrong Ramen, Forbestown, BGC on sporadic occasions before, I never got to go back since I moved out of our Fort office. This marks my first visit after nearly two years. And since Miray’s food trips during her 3-month visit comprised mainly of burritos and ramen, this choice is hardly surprising.

I ordered the F.U. Ramen, which is one of my staples next to The Communist (their take on Tantanmen). It’s breakfast ramen topped with sinful morning fare: bacon strips, fried egg, Spam, and a slice of cheddar. It’s basically a vat of calories, and as the name suggests, you will feel the urge to hurl expletives after your first slurp. The best part is when the cheese starts to melt.

F.U. Ramen (P425.00)
F.U. Ramen (P425.00)

The Sea Men Ramen was Miray’s choice. You don’t really have to delve into the apparent innuendo (the menu is overflowing with them). Obviously, it’s their seafood variant.

Sea Men Ramen (P345.00)

For dessert, we ordered Poop of the Gods. Calm down. It’s just a dollop of Belgian chocolate sprinkled with sea salt and soaked in olive oil. It’s an off-beat combination, but it works.

Poop of the Gods (P135.00)

Given the establishment’s crammed table set-up, we concluded our reunion at the nearby Starbucks Reserve, which is far more conducive for catch-up banter. There, Miray detailed on her life as a work-at-home wife and her upcoming Vietnam-Cambodia trip. All in all, the reunion was a pleasantly surprising and welcome treat. Way to reignite my dreams of someday visiting Europe. For that, I will keep my fingers (metaphorically) crossed.

These Irish treats bode well for my occasional sweet tooth.
These Irish treats bode well for my occasional sweet tooth.

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