Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cindy



It was a very sad moment
When you closed your eyes
Without saying goodbye
Then I took the courage not to cry

I remember that every Saturday
We used to go to this scary place
But you were really strong
And you chose to ignore the pain

Oh how I miss you and I'm thinking
Of what you might have become
Maybe a popular and famous singer
Because that was your dream and passion

Sometimes I have regrets in my heart
That I didn't show my full love
Maybe it’s a natural way of being a man
But I'm sure you are well love there in heaven

Since you've been gone, no more birthdays for me
But I still put on my smile
And behind that are your happy memories
Thinking only your smile, voice and laughter

Next year it will be a decade
Since you left us and stayed with Him
Thank you for the fourteen years of your life
You'll always have a special part in our hearts

Kuya loves you and misses you so much.

Image taken from recover-from-grief.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nepal Trip Part 3

Before coming to Nepal, I researched about the tourist spots that are interesting to visit. The hotel offers travel package but it seems like too expensive. There are six captivating spots; they divided it into two days of tour, worth 80 USD each day. So the total would be 160 USD (585 AED). Since I have befriended my Nagarkot tourist guide, I asked him if those tourist spots can be seen in one whole day. He said it's possible so I asked him to accompany me the next day. He hired a taxi for whole day worth 3,000 NPR (122 AED) which is way cheaper than what the hotel was offering. So after breakfast, Pradeep (my tourist guide and now my Facebook friend) picked me up at around 9 in the morning and we started our journey.


Our first stop was in Boudhanath. It is among the largest stupas (a dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine) in South Asia and it has become the focal point of the Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty six meters overhead. It is required for the foreigners to pay the entrance fee but Pradeep advise me to act like a local since I look like a Nepali. Fortunately, I was not asked by the security to get ticket first. Instead, I entered directly the vicinity and acted normal. It is one of the perks of being an Asian tourist in an Asian country. Well, the place was surrounded by a lot of tourists and small souvenir shops. I saw monks in maroon robes walking around and I also spotted some locals worshipping and praying inside the stupa. For centuries, Boudhanath has been an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalis. This place was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.


Pashupatinath Temple was our next destination. It is considered as one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. Before you enter the main entrance, you have to remove your shoes and tour the place with bare foot. Upon entering you will notice that the place houses the sacred linga or phalic symbol of Lord Shiva. There was a place where only locals are allowed to enter. The guard asked me a question in Nepalese on which I wasn't able to answer, so on that instance, I was not permitted to enter the holy place. So I asked Pradeep to go inside and take some pictures. That part of the temple is a place where devotees can be seen taking ritual dips in the Holy Bagmati River flowing beside the temple. Also, cremation of the dead body Hindus takes place at the bank of Bagmati River. It was so crowded that time; nevertheless, it was fun to experience some Hindi culture.


Another UNESCO World Heritage site was the place of our next stop. It was the Bhaktapur City which means "the city of devotees" in Nepali language. It is also known as Bhadgaon. That time, I have to pay the entrance fee. I'm not sure how the guard identified me as a foreigner. As always, Bhaktapur is free of entrance for the locals. Today, Bhaktapur City covers an area of four square miles and is flanked by Khasa Khusung and Hanumante Rivers. The site is indeed quite big with several old temples which showed true Nepali culture and architecture. Among other monuments in Bhaktapur are the big bell, the Golden Gate, the five-tiered temple of Nyatapola, the Bhairab temple and the Dattatreya Square with its woodcarving and metal work museums. The second part of this tour will be posted in the next few days.

Monday, November 26, 2012

CD Review: Lotus & R.E.D.

On the 25th of November, I received a package from US containing the CDs of my two of my favorite artists: Christina Aguilera's Lotus and Ne-Yo's R.E.D. I have a self-imposed policy that I will buy original CDs/music of my favorite artists which also includes Usher, John Legend, Musiq Soulchild, Madonna, Adele and Rihanna. Initially, my plan was to buy music from iTunes but download isn't available here in UAE yet so I was kind of frustrated that day so I immediately ordered in Amazon. 


Lotus is Christina's 7th studio album and was released last 13th of November. In this album, the curly voice was lessened and it has now a feeling of electro-pop music. I'm not really sure but I think Christina made it safe with her music and only conformed to what's the latest tunes. Her voice on this album is as always undeniably good and I haven't heard Christina this joyful and energetic in the past few years after the roller coaster of events happened in her personal life. Overall, the album isn't bad at all and the old 'Xtina' feeling is still in this CD. My favorite track from the album is 'Just a Fool', a duet with country star Blake Shelton. The self-empowering track 'Let There Be Love' is a trendy and catchy song and a possible hit for her. The song 'Blank Page' is an emotional song and showed the power of her pipes in doing ballad songs. Unfortunately, the CD didn't sell that much and debuted only at #7 on the Billboard 200. The sale was lower compared to her previous album Bionic. I think the reason is that there is no strong single and there is no much marketing done and lack of edgy promotional strategies.


R.E.D. (acronym for Realizing Every Dream), Ne-Yo's fifth studio album was released on the 6th of November. The album comprises collaboration with Wiz Khalifa, Diddy, Fabolous and even country music icon Tim McGraw. The album entered #4 in the Billboard 200 but the first week sales was 46,000 lesser compared to previous album, Libra Scale. Nevertheless, it debuted on the top of R&B/Hip-Hop albums. I'm kind of missing more energetic songs from this album. But the flavor of genuine R&B is intact. The track 'Let Me Love You (Until You Learned to Love Yourself)', in my opinion is the best song in this album but those soul songs were quite of equally magnificent showcasing his signature music with full of emotions about love and loss. Being an in-demand songwriter, he didn't fail to provide good and quality lyrics to each of the songs and as a hit maker himself, the smooth R&B is all over the place. My favorite track is 'Miss Right' with words "… spend forever looking, all the time wasting. Soon as I throw my hands up and I say quit, turn the corner and there my future sits." Well this new album didn't fail me to fall in love all over again into R&B music.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nepal Trip Part 2


My second day in Nepal was generally exhausting but fun. I woke up at around 7 in the morning and took my buffet breakfast in the hotel's restaurant. Afterwards, I fixed myself and was ready to explore the country side. I was picked up at around 9:15 in the morning with a private car and a tourist guide. It was more than an hour of journey before we reached Nagarkot. The view was picturesque as the place was surrounded by valleys and hills and the temperature was a bit cold. It was actually a trekking trip that required us to walk more than two hours to reach a certain place.


Nagarkot is situated on top of a ridge at an altitude of over 2000 meters above sea level. It is renowned for sunrise and sunset views along with the majestic peaks of Himalayas including Mount Everest. The trekking started around 10:30 in the morning. During the walk, we passed the Nagarkot village on which I witnessed the simplicity of the lives of the residents. There are also rice terraces same as to the Philippines. Their water resource is coming from the jungle and I was informed that it is clean and safe to drink. We reached the top before 1PM and the view was amazing and refreshing. This is the best thing I love about travelling. To experience different cultures and to personally witness how beautiful our planet is. The trek was very tiring and it was a good thing that I did leg exercises in the gym before this trip. It was an uphill climb and I really felt my heart pumping but the view of Nagarkot paid it all and casted away all the pain. Also, the weather that time was really good.


I was dropped back in the hotel at around past 3 in the afternoon and I rested for a while. I ordered food from the room service as my late lunch. Before 5 in the afternoon, I left the hotel to roam around the city. Civil Mall was my next destination. It is known as the biggest shopping mall in Nepal. It is way smaller compared to malls in Singapore and Dubai. There were no glamorous brands inside; instead the shops were mostly local retailers. Initially, I intended to watch a movie but the films being shown are mostly Indians so I just had a coffee then left afterwards. 


The next area I visited was Thamel. It is a popular tourist destination in Kathmandu and is a full Wi-Fi zone in Nepal. There were lots of shops selling varieties of souvenirs and foods. You will see tourists in every corner and it was like a shopping haven for us. The area is also surrounded by budget hotels, travel agencies and money exchange. It was a good thing that Thamel is walking distance from the hotel so I went back by foot. The streets were so dark and the flashlight I brought was a big help that time.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Waiting



Loving isn't easy for me
There were doubts and uncertainties
Am I afraid or scared?
I can't really tell the reasons
 
For years I've been alone
After the events of pain and hurt
Confuse what the plan is
Not sure how to move forward
 
I'm in the middle of questions
On how this sadness will end
I know I have to take my part
And to Him I always pray
 
Only time will really tell
If I'm ready to face the stage again
The phase on which I'm weak
A stage that I'm vulnerable
 
I believe my time will come
When I can sing my heart out
Bursting the love I have
To the woman I've been longing for
 
Each steps won't be easy
And I want to take it slow
Not in a rush just to fill the emptiness
She will come and I will be here

image taken from stevewright.info  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nepal Trip Part 1


Islamic New Year was observed here last 15th of November so I took the chance to make a quick vacation in Nepal. The decision came just two weeks before the holiday so my preparation and research for this trip was limited. I was surprised how cheap Gulf Air is so I booked a business class with a stopover in Bahrain going to Kathmandu. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed that the airport is so small and the line wasn't properly organized. Nevertheless, the staffs were very accommodating and all smile and very helpful. As a tourist, I have to pay 25 USD for visa on arrival. I booked for a prepaid taxi and I was shocked when I saw the "taxi". It was a small and very old minivan but still, I got to the hotel safely.


I checked into Hotel Shanker in Kathmandu at around past 12 in the afternoon. It was an old palace that was converted into hotel so the architecture and environment is magnificent. Internet access was free with welcome drinks. When I entered the room, it was kind of okay and wide enough for me. The only downturn of the room was the smell. It was a room full of bathroom smell. I wasn't sure if it was due to some air freshener that they used. Also, there was no toothbrush and toothpaste. I rested for a while since I haven't slept for 36 hours that day.


At around 3 in the afternoon, I decided to take a little walk around the area just to familiarize the city and embrace their urban culture. During that time, it was cold in Kathmandu. The temperature was below 20 degrees so I was excited to take a long walk since it wouldn't be that tiring. The city isn't fully developed yet. There were no proper traffic management, no pedestrian lane and was kind of polluted. I saw many people having cover on their nose just to avoid the mixture of dust and smoke. On the other side, the city is quite beautiful since it is surrounded by valleys and hills. Anywhere you point your eyes, you will see a shadow of valley. I took some pictures and looked for a store where I bought toothbrush and toothpaste. I came back to hotel after almost three hours of walk because I felt very tired that day and I knew that I need to catch some sleep.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Movie Review: Triple B (Bruce, Bond & Bella)

I was really trying to connect these three movies just to have a unique post title. Fortunately, I found one. Bruce Willis is one of the lead stars of Looper; Bond was played by Daniel Craig in this 23rd film installment and Bella, played by Kristen Stewart is one of the main characters in the Breaking Dawn.

1. Looper - Actually, the plot of the film is something new. I haven't seen such kind of screenplay that science fiction, thriller and love story was entangled creatively. The lead stars, Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt both did an incredible job. Emily Blunt was a surprise showing physical and emotional transformation compared to her other films. She was shown as a strong woman, loyal and fierce. The film has been included into several lists of best movies of 2012. The direction was intelligent combining the roughness of a gang, the simplicity of life in the farm and the art of love factors in an Asian country. The scene where Sarah's son, Cid, showing unusual telekinetic powers is the climax of the film. The special effects were quite okay and the ending was unexpected. Really, a must watch movie.

2. Skyfall - Of course, I'll give high praises to this film since I'm a big fan of the franchise. Have you seen the box office returns? This film is the highest grossing James Bond film of all time. Kudos to the ensemble cast and technical people who mixed their intelligence to come up with such film. I love the acting of Javier Bardem on which you can't really tell if he was becoming psychotic or a victim of an unjust procedures. Sadly, M died in this film and was replaced by Mallory. Also, Moneypenny was introduced in this movie. The concept of resurrection is a success which also compasses the theme of revenge and vengeance. The action scenes, as always, were superb. This movie convinced me to visit Turkey after seeing same location scenes did by the movie Taken 2. Its thrilling appeal was good enough respecting the tradition of the franchise. I can't wait for the next Bond movie! It is also confirmed that Daniel Craig will still play James Bond in the 24th and 25th installment.

3. The Breaking Dawn Part Two - Before the first Twilight movie came out, TV series from HBO, True Blood, was being shown and I loved it instantly. The concept of vampires and blood gave me curiosity to watch the first Twilight movie. Initially, I was bored since it's all about love story but the deep tackling of the romance between human and vampire is commendable. Well, this movie alone surprised me at the end. I really didn't expect that thing to happen. That after all those suspense and great action scenes, it was just all about the future. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the series ended in a good way. I just didn't like the special effects they did on the baby. It was so obvious and it irritated me. Nonetheless, it is still an entertaining movie but will not be on my list of best movies I have watched this year.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Abu Dhabi Tour


After days of exploring the city of Dubai, my father and I had the chance to roam Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. It was a tour package from Yahoo Tours. We were picked up from the hotel lobby at past 9AM. Inside the van, there were around 10 more tourists. The driver was also the tourist guide that day and he was good in multitasking. While driving, he was talking some facts about Abu Dhabi such as the difference of road colors, the naming convention, citizenship and other stuffs. Our first stop was in Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque which is the largest mosque in UAE and eighth in the world. We were told that some of the areas of the mosque were pure gold. We were required to take off our shoes before getting inside and the women were required to wear Abaya. The place was really nice and way better and bigger than the mosque that I saw in Brunei. It was also surprising that taking pictures inside the mosque was allowed. The chandeliers inside were huge and you will see lots of gold being displayed around the place.


We went back to the van after almost an hour and during the road trip, the driver/tourist guide was giving some information on the buildings and places that we passed by. One thing that got my interest was the AlDar HQ building which is the first circular building in the Middle East. I'm not sure but the driver/tourist guide mentioned that it is the second largest circular building in the world and have won 'Best Futuristic Design'. We also got the chance to see the Emirates Palace; it was the location shoot of the Hollywood movie, Sex and the City. We were only allowed to pass by the prestigious hotel without getting out from the card so we took some pictures from the van.


The person in charge brought us next to Corniche road. It was like a marina bay that has several restaurants and establishments surrounding the waters. There was also a public beach for the use of everyone and yacht parking area for the rich people. Abu Dhabi’s pristine Corniche beachfront has been awarded the coveted Blue Flag status - the internationally renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas that guarantees clean and safe bathing water. From the place that we were standing, we were able to see the tallest flagpole in Abu Dhabi.


Next was the UAE Heritage Village. The place was like an outdoor museum. It shows the old ways of life of the first Arabs. There was a house that was built of rocks, a tent that served as temporary resting place for the workers and an area which was made out of woods. It was also the place where we took our buffet lunch for 65 dirhams. There were also some souvenir shops on which we bought key chains and magnets. But one thing that caught my eyes was a complete set of Arab national costume. Of course, I bought one set for 80 dirhams maybe as souvenir also or for future use. 


The final stop that day was a brief visit of the Ferrari World. The race was on going during that day but we didn't have any ticket so we just consumed our time roaming the place and some photo ops. It was a whole day activity and it was very tiring. Nevertheless, it was a great time learning more about the country on which I am currently living. The entire tour was fun, we never get bored during the trip, hats off to the driver/tourist guide that day, he did an awesome job.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dubai Tour Part 4


Last 2nd of November, my father and I experienced this desert safari thing. It was tagged as a "must" for every tourist in UAE. Initially, the tour was in the midst of postponement that day since the travel agent was having problems with cars and drivers. Fortunately, I was able to talk to someone in the same agency that helped to find available cars and even gave us a discount. We were picked up by the driver at Kempinski Hotel around past 3:30PM. The journey from Dubai to the safari area took us almost an hour. When we got there, there were other 4x4 wheel drives then our driver decreased some air from the tires so that the car can run perfectly on sand. 


We started the journey and at first, I was very scared since I saw the car in front of us doing some skills in conquering the sand. Above video shows what I am talking about hehe. Eventually, I became comfortable since it was kind of okay when you are in a car compare to witnessing the other cars stumbling and almost rolling over the sand. It was actually fun! After more than 15 minutes of "fun ride", we stopped for a while to witness the magnificent view of the sunset. Then we went to a camel area for some photo ops.


Our last stop was in an area in the middle of desert where foods and some entertainment were being provided. There were small souvenir shops and a bar area. We had our buffet dinner there (also included in the tour package) and my father and I had beer for refreshment. The foods were Indian cuisine and it was a great thing that they have fish. Next is a dance number from a male performer, same dance performance in dhow cruise where the steps were the continuous circling and rounding routine on the middle of the stage with some special effects. Lastly, a belly dancer graced the stage on which the crowd enjoyed. I'm not sure but I think the lady danced for almost half an hour but there were no signs of tiredness on her face. It was actually a good experience and I must say, yes, every tourist in UAE should experience this!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Starting a Blog


A former officemate introduced me into this kind of stuff, a stuff where I express what I want to say and share my happy moments and became my outlet of anger and sadness. It's been 7 years since I started blogging. Initially, I used the Friendster blog function and it lasted for almost a year. Then, I was introduced to blogspot.com and after two years, I bought my own domain.

Blogging isn't' just about sharing things over the internet but it also influences and/or inspires others. Some of my friends started their own blog too. So if you are planning to start a blog, you should consider several things in order to accomplish a site that will reflect your identity and that you will treasure and love.
  1. You need to have a passion in writing and able to share several things without limitations.
  2. Choose a free blog host and select some available templates initially. Choose the color that will emulate your personality and title that will suit your site.
  3. As a beginner, don't be too cautious with grammar but ensure that what you are saying can still be understood. When I reviewed my old posts, I was laughing at myself the way I wrote those things, maturity will come naturally.
  4. Select a topic on which you are interested and can share personal experiences.
  5. Don't forget to put citation or credit to the sources that you used like images and some statements.
  6. Allocate time in updating your blog. Treat it as software that needs an update continuously.
  7. Ask for some opinions and suggestions from other bloggers on how you can improve your blog and its contents.
  8. In expressing thoughts and opinions, always consider to gather information first. Don't speculate and apologize if necessary.
  9. Blogging is also like journalism, be responsible in every post that you will make and take ownership of your actions.
  10. Just be true to yourself and don't hide anything that can be a hindrance in elaborating a certain topic or issue.
  11. Read other blogs and learn some technique but never imitate.
  12. Add some widgets on your site. These things are available over the internet and mostly are free.
After few years, you will realize that it was like doing an online diary. But trust me, it is fun to read old posts and it brings memories of the past. Blogging is not that simple but if you have dedication and passion it will be a piece of cake.

Image taken from www.whitec0de.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I am Hooked with Maya & Sir Chief


Surprise surprise! Yes, I am a fan of ABS-CBN's series 'Be Careful with my Heart'. This is the first Pinoy TV series that I have watched in almost 4 years. During the first few runs of the show, I saw several comments and praises regarding this morning program. I am not really into Philippine television shows. Since I started working abroad, I started to love US series on which I am really addicted to and I even did a 24-hour marathon for a show. Yes, 'Walang Hanggan' was also a hit based on Facebook and Twitter trends but I am so fed up with heavy drama and some kind of impossible scenarios (like a person rose from death to life; a criminal who wasn't arrested despite the obvious evidence and the list goes on).

It's like I am filled with much suspense, cyring scenes and roller coaster of events in US series alone. Because of those posts on my FB timeline, my curiosity in this show heightened. How can a soap in a morning timeslot be this successful? So I subscribed to TFC.tv (1,500 PHP for 3 months) and began my journey with Maya & Sir Chief. So there, I compiled a list of items on why I think the show is so successful.
  1. The plot and storyline is so simple and "napakagaan". I think this theme is so applicable if you will start your day by watching the show. It's a great way to spend with your morning routines as it could give you positive vibes that can be used for the entire day.
  2. The family values and lessons that we can get from the show are big factors. Those scenes are really happening in real life. Everyone can connect to every character. We might be experiencing the same thing with a role that is being portrayed. The "kapit-bisig" theme expresses how Filipinos truly are: being strong in the midst of crisis and adversities and putting up a smile on every problem.
  3. I'm sure that most of us are looking forward to the love story of the main characters. How can they make us "kilig" even if there are no kissing scenes and love scenes?
  4. Even if Maya is not really working abroad, I can relate to those scenes on which she really misses her family. Every OFW is experiencing the same thing on which it is also a reminder that family is the true source of strength.
  5. The "loveteam" of Kute and Papa Pards is very different from what we were used to. I think the Filipino audience is becoming matured now and more understanding given the fact that Kute's sexual preference is different and it did not became a hindrance in establishing a good family.
I believe that other networks are trying (or have tried already?) to compete with the show but I think 'Be Careful with my Heart' will continue to touch our heart in every way and will be on air for many months (or even years?). They have already established a standard in morning programming and because of that, they deserve a bonus from their network, haha.

Image taken from abs-cbn.com

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dubai Tour Part 3


My father and I started the day last 27th of October with a simple breakfast. Let me change that, it was a sumptuous breakfast. We had sautéed tuna and shrimp with rice (yeah, rice in the morning). After quick preparation, we headed our way to Atlantis. I was kind of excited to visit the place as I haven't been in a beach for years and I just want to experience being under the sea (well, not literally). I have booked for a day tour in 'Lost Chambers'; it was like a museum of fishes and sea creatures. It is like the 'Underwater World' in Sentosa Singapore, only bigger in space. The displays were amply designed and subdivided into big glass windows. As a souvenir, my father bought a cap while I took a shirt.


After that "under the sea" tour, we came back to Mall of the Emirates to have a splendid lunch in Chilis. For appetizer, I ordered 'Spinach Queso' and I loved it! It was so tasty and very delicious. My father chose grilled chicken and I ordered seafood platter and we were so full after the meal. Then, we watched 'Skyfall' in Vox Cinemas. I was shocked when my father mentioned to me that there is no movie house in Riyadh. How can I live in that place?


We went home after the movie but prepared immediately for our dhow cruise dinner buffet (oh yes, lots of food). It was a bigger boat with two decks and we were seated on the upper part. The place was so jam packed that we need to share a big table with a family of four. Nevertheless, the foods were kind of okay, it was Indian cuisine and I loved the fish fillet. I'm not really sure what sauce was used but it was so enticing that I had two rounds of it. After a while, a male performer danced in the middle of the dining area. I don't know how to call that cultural number but the man was circling and rotating continuously for almost half an hour. While doing the round dance, he was doing some tricks and special tasks such as handling several hats, light effects and alteration of costumes. The show was actually nice and entertaining.

 
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