Sunday, September 27, 2009

And again with the geek mode and addictions, the latest member of the short list is a PC game starring a non-vertebrae. Bookworm Adventures 2, the latest offering of PopCap games is an addicting vocabulary game combined with RPG environment.

Your goal is to guide Lex the (book)Worm into different twisted fairy tale worlds and defeat equally crooked fairy tale characters to gain points, power ups, lives and saves. Every now and then, Moxie the Fox will intervene and offer you 4 mini games in which you can win ever so useful powers and lives. This time, companion guides like Granny Goose, that weird cat from Alice in Wonderland and other mystery guides I have yet to unravel can accompany you through the different levels of tiledom and grant healing elixirs to freshen up waning health.

For me, the game is pretty easy until you reach the difficult levels at the end of each chapters where all you can see on your tile grid is X, Y, and Zs and you need to Scramble or else play 3-letter elementary words. The characters are interesting and amusing to watch. Witty quips and character descriptions bring attitude to the game. It's not hard to stay glued to the monitor for hours long.

Like all games, it can get tiring after long hours of play, but it's enjoyable enough to keep you coming back for more. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

AIDS vaccine promising; experts urge caution
By: Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer

(09-24) 19:20 PDT -- As Bay Area scientists celebrated the first promising results from the largest-ever AIDS vaccine trial, they cautioned that much more research is needed before a vaccine could be available to the public.

The news that an experimental AIDS vaccine tested on 16,000 heterosexual volunteers in Thailand had been shown to be safe and modestly effective surprised researchers, who had become used to failure in the decades-long effort to find a vaccine to protect against HIV infection.

The elusive search for a vaccine has its roots in the Bay Area, where one of the two genetically engineered vaccines used in the Thai trial was developed.

The trial relied on a combination of a modified canary-pox vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur and a drug made from an engineered version of a protein found on the AIDS virus, which was made by a Brisbane biotechnology company called VaxGen Inc. The patent for the VaxGen vaccine is now owned by Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, a nonprofit in South San Francisco.

"At this point, especially after all the failures, any promising information is exciting," said Dr. Phillip Berman, a VaxGen co-founder and inventor of the vaccine, who woke up to the news Thursday morning. "But it's still a long way to having an approved product and figuring out how to deliver the vaccine to the people who need it the most."

The watershed results announced Thursday in Bangkok came just over a year after the National Institutes of Health dropped plans for a large-scale test of its AIDS vaccine. Two years ago, Merck & Co. halted its vaccine study after results showed the drug may have actually increased some participants' susceptibility to the virus.

A one-two punch

The vaccine, known as RV 144, employed a two-pronged or "prime-boost" approach in the Phase 3 trial. The drug made by Sanofi Pasteur "primed" the body's immune system to attack HIV and the drug developed by VaxGen "boosted" the body's response.

According to the Thai Ministry of Health and the study's other backers, the vaccine regimen was safe and 31 percent effective in preventing HIV infection compared with a placebo. Researchers described that result as significant and promising for the future, but not enough to make such a product available to the public soon.

"We are still many years away from a vaccine that will be used universally," said Dr. Jay Levy, professor of medicine at the AIDS Research Institute at UC San Francisco and one of the discoverers of HIV. "But this is encouraging because it says maybe we can derive things from this study and not have to go into something totally different."

Half of the more than 16,000 study participants were given six doses of the vaccines in 2006, and half received placebos. All received condoms, counseling, regular HIV testing and treatment for any sexually transmitted diseases. Of the 8,197 volunteers who were given the vaccine, new infections occurred in 51 people. New infections occurred in 74 of 8,198 participants who received the placebo shot.

Questions remain

The most confusing aspect of the study is that the people who received the vaccine and still got infected had no lower levels of the virus than those who took the placebo and got infected. That indicates the vaccine may be better at preventing the virus than controlling it once it gets into the body.

"That would suggest the immune stimulus isn't very strong," Levy explained. "With that said, it still was enough to block low levels of the virus from coming into the body. We would want a vaccine that would also control the virus if it infects a person."

One strain rare here

In addition, the trial focused on two subsets of the HIV strain that are common in Thailand and Southeast Asia, only one of which is commonly found in the United States. So it's unclear whether the results of the vaccine combination could be replicated in a different population.

Researchers said many aspects of the trial results are unclear. For example, several scientists said it is uncertain how the drug combination worked and whether one part was more effective than the other.

"We don't really know why and how this vaccine worked and did what it did," said Dr. Alan Bernstein, executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an alliance of AIDS scientists, governments and donors.

"This trial is raising more questions almost than it's answering," he said. "It's opened the door and it's opened up a whole lot of questions that are answerable and will be answered over the next months and years to come."

Because of the long time frame, health advocates warn that people should not count on a potential vaccine to treat and contain infections.

"It doesn't have a public health impact perhaps for many, many years," said Mark Cloutier, San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "We need to continue to keep our vigilance about prevention, testing and getting people into care."

San Francisco Chronicle

Being a part of the health care system (being stay at home blogger at the moment not counted), I could not be more concerned about serious illnesses that threaten our well-being every day. It's hard enough being amongst the sick and the dying for a living. Being enveloped in the gloom and despair of wrecked bodies and psyches regularly with pointy needles that could go through any skin barrier is even more terrifying.

Normally, I am not a paranoid person. When the Swine Flu broke out, I was probably the least concerned among my family and friends. I did research on the internet and after a while, I realized that it was nothing more than a severe type of common flu with a different strain. The virus, like any virus, is self limiting and will go away after our immune system gets into the rhythm of kicking its bottom. Though people should still be vigilant, they should not let paranoia reside in their brains because having the flu is not the worst thing that could happen to a man. It's not the worst type of disease to be infected either.

Which brings me back to HIV/AIDS. Sexual encounters and contaminated blood transfusions given, what's more bothersome to a registered nurse is the everyday possibility of a rogue used needle pricking your own skin and and ending your life (figuratively) before you know it. Even if you put on every medical suit of armor (PPE or Personal Protective Equipment) available, it still will not protect you unless every inch of your body is encased in metal. Which will weigh a ton, btw.

I've heard a bunch of horror nursing stories from school and review centers to know how important it is for a vaccine to be made real soon. Decades have gone on without any breakthrough and hopefully, this time, our researchers and specialists are in the right path. I, for one, could not wait for this vaccine to be distributed to the people in hopefully the near future. Health care workers and vulnerable groups of top priority of course. :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

After the Red Cross adventure of last season comes another blockbuster hit that will surely be flooded with unemployed registered nurses all around the Metro. The IVT Training season is well on its way to record breaking box office success. As hospitals open its doors and slots get taken as fast (or maybe even faster) as reservations open, no one could predict what's in store for this new and exciting season of... The Amazing IVT Race.

I can still remember how 3 weeks ago, we were supposed to head on to Fabella Medical Center to pay our reservation fees for the upcoming September IVT training. We planned it all the day before when we found out that the said hospital was open for such. Needless to say, the very next day, dressed and ready to go, I called them to ask if there were still available slots. The answer that I got was a fat "NO" and that the October schedule has not yet been announced. So I hanged up, called my friends and canceled our trip for the day.

Same goes with other hospitals. It's either an irate operator/nurse/admin person tells you there are no slots left or there are no schedules yet available at the time or a friendly operator/nurse/admin person tells you there are not slots left or there are not schedules yet available at the time.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating here. Applying for trainings in provincial hospitals may not be that disappointing but since we're Metro Manila people living in/near MM, those health care institutions are the only ones available for us. Though, I have yet to try and apply in hospitals near our rurban community. But I'm not sure if they're ANSAP accredited and I don't want to take a chance enrolling in one that is not.

Speaking of ANSAP, from a very useful blog I am very grateful to, here is the partial list of accredited hospitals conducting basic IVT training, including their contact numbers and addresses. I would consider this the bible of IVT Yellow Pages.

List of Hospitals Conducting Basic IVT Training

Credits go to this blog who has uploaded and posted almost everything needed to become a certified IV therapist including video tutorials, pdf files, directories, and news about other related events.

With that, I wish that you would wish us the best of luck in finding a suitable and non-toxic environment for our future trainings. Tips, advice and prayers are also accepted.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Harvesting is the new trend nowadays. And no, it's not because of a sudden uprising of agricultural and environmental concern among young Filipinos. It's because of a social networking site games, of all things, that got this generation hooked on becoming farmers.

Facebook exploded on the Philippine web market this year (yes, a couple of years behind other countries but we're getting there) and many have already made the switch from the prehistoric Friendster to this new and exciting site. If you're like me, you still keep your Friendster account but rarely visit it much less update it. People with no internet access at home and are not that comfortable in the cyberworld may find it more difficult to create an account from scratch and adjust to FB's more complicated user interface but I see a FS like phenomena with FB in the near future, I daresay.

But with addictions come great drawbacks (and hilarity). A few years ago, some internet war game stole the time, money and attention of males of all ages from the things they should be doing and/or spending time with (e.g. their girlfriends). Scorned women were everywhere and needless to say, text message jokes didn't let this instance pass.

I remember reading jokes and hearing true stories on how girlfriends were forgotten because of their man's addiction to DOTA. I think it's despicable how guys can be so immature to let everything slip away because of some stupid game. Plus, the fact that they look so barbaric shouting at each other while pounding on the keyboard like madmen did not help.

These days, a new trend of girlfriend vs. computer is on a rise. And it has flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables on its side.

One time while I was staring at my wall looking for new updates of my friends, I saw one status saying something like this, which really cracked me up.
"Tigil tigilan mo nga yang pagtatanim dahil hindi ka magsasaka!"
Followed by:
"Ngayon alam ko na ang feeling ng mga girlfriends na pinagpapalit sa mga computer games at Facebook."
I was, like: Seriously? Guys are also hooked on virtual planting?. This was hilarious! A comedy goldmine! Having been addicted to the same kind of thing 2 months ago but quickly got over it, I now find this situation extremely amusing.

Thank Obama my boyfriend doesn't use the internet that much and does not even have a facebook account. He even complained to me how annoying his teenage (male) cousins were playing "those games where you plant things" because he thought they were acting like kids. I've also received a text message some time ago making fun of the same situation which I LOLed at.

What I just want to point out is that... Well, I have nothing to point out. Just want to share this to you all because I'm finding this freakin funny, and you should to. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm jumping on the bandwagon and doing my own WW posts every week. Not only does it save time and trouble writing about something, I get to showcase pictures I don't know what to with. Enjoy. :)

Guess what this is.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Undergraduates may think that the day they graduate or the day they pass the board exam will be the happiest day of their teenage life. Some students can't wait to graduate from reviewing and doing mountains of paper works. I was not one of them, yet I felt like I took for granted those days when, no matter how toxic the requirements were, all I should worry about were finishing them and what to eat at lunch the next day.

Now that I know better, I urge them to think otherwise.

Graduation is just a formal ceremony where you can see your professors, deans and high ranking officers of your school wearing poofy dresses and oddly shaped hats. There is nothing special about it especially if you still have to take and pass the board exam before you can do anything with your diploma.

Passing the board exam is another thing, though. You know that you have surpassed the one thing that you needed to in order to start your life, and it's very fulfilling to see your name listed together with the thousands who passed when so many more have failed to do so. The euphoria may last up to months, if you're lucky. Other passers, like myself, weren't so fortunate.

Because what comes next after passing the board exam and having your oath taking in front of the legendary BON? Parents, families and relatives, that's what.

Being a practicing registered nurse (with salary) is not as simple as the graduate -> pass board exam -> have job -> have money -> be a productive member of the family/society chart that parents seem to have etched on their brains, especially parents from non-nursing/medical background. But reality is more complicated than that especially nowadays that clinical jobs are more elusive than ever.

And even if you have a willing backer ready to, well, back you up, you still need numerous papers which include a PRC license and certificates which takes forever to be released by your school and the PRC itself.

So what do you do while waiting for those requirements and/or job opportunities? First, if you really need the money you'll apply in a call center, make your family really happy but put your 4-year education background to waste, at least for the time being. If money is not a necessity, you bum around in your house, surf the net, be a house maid and look for Red Cross and IVT trainings. Oh, and yes, have your parent constantly nag and tell you how you're wasting time and space doing nothing.

Wow, thanks a lot. Fresh grads like us are already in an emotional turmoil of "WTH do I do now?". Add to that the sudden transition from a comfortable routine time table to an onslaught of free time you don't know what to do with. All our lives, everything followed a certain schedule where days were filled with subjects after subjects and we learned to live life in that manner. Lunch breaks were spent eating with a group of familiar people you share food, jokes, problems and laughs with everyday. Where are they now? Even if you remain good friends with all of your college classmates everyone's scattered into different directions now.

And it's not like we want to stay stagnant and be a certified bum forever. I, for one, is jealous of my batchmates who now have a paying job in the palm of their hands. I feel like everybody's moving forward leaving me all alone in the depressing state of unemployment. Still, I resist to succumb to the monetary lures of call center careers. Health care (and writing) is my passion and my background and I want to make use of the 4 years I spent studying NCM to use.

So what now? Now, I will further express myself in cyberspace because it's one of the things I know I do well and enjoy at the same time. I'm not planning to stay like this for the rest of my life but give me time.

As for tomorrow, I'm going to finally claim my PRC license. *enter big grin here*

Sunday, September 20, 2009

So after a long half-day of touring the city, we finally went to Disneyland. I could tell from the start that we only have limited time but I didn't expect that we would only have 5 1/2 hours to experience the whole of the amusement park. We arrived at the parking lot at about 2pm and proceeded to walk the almost 1 km distance from the parking lot to park's gates. It was hot and humid and I wish I had brought a scrunchie to tie up my hair. After about 15 minutes of walking under the furious sun, we finally reached the ticket booths and the entrance to the house of mouse.

Disneyland arc and mansion upon entrance of the park.

Since it was past 2 and we still haven't had our lunch, we proceeded first to a small food kiosk inside the park and ate hotdogs, some kind of seafood rolls and iced tea. In a true Snow White fashion, I was surprised to see flocks of birds circling our tables and pecking up scraps of food. I thought they were so cute and brave because I'm used to birds terrified of people here at home.

Birds the Snow White Way.

While eating, we found out through the pamphlets we took from the entrance that the parade is going to start any minute. So after eating, we waited for the parade to come to our place while trying in vain to stay cool under the scarce shade of some random tree. Waiting was a mistake I have only realized after leaving the park later that day. This was the time that we should have visited the shops near the area and bought something (anything!) because we weren't going to be able to go back to them later on because of lack of time. I did, however, got to visit a small store full of Disney crystals. It was the one store I got to visit amongst the probably almost a hundred inside the park.

Disney crystal maker.

After a, more or less, 15 minute wait and a big dose of preschool tantrum (in Disneyland, of all places!) the parade started. I was clicking and recording like mad. I was alternating between recording the whole thing and taking pictures of the floats and dodging heads and other cameras held high to capture a clean shot.

Start of the Disneyland Parade.

Alice in Wonderland and Disney Princesses (feat. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella) floats.

One thing I noticed was that there were tons of Filipino dancers on the parade. It almost felt like Enchanted Kingdom on parade. Ha.

The Little Mermaid Float and the finale of the parade, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy.

After the parade, we walked around the place, past Sleeping Beauty's castle, took tons of pictures , rode the carousel and ended up in a garden where random Disney character mascots were available for picture taking. We got to pose with Minnie Mouse and Goofy. Unfortunately, while in line to pose with Mickey Mouse, Minnie decided to show up and take Mickey away. It was so cute seeing mascots visit each others gazebos, still in character. In reality, they probably need to change the person inside the costumes.

After the picture taking, we decided to watch PhilharMagic, a 3D feature in a nearby theater. I actually envisioned my experience in Disneyland to be full of rides and shopping rather than settling down and watching shows but since we were bordering on having heat strokes because of the sun, sitting in an air-conditioned room seemed like a pretty good idea.

And it was. The 10-minute show was well worth it and mom and my sister had a great time because it was their first time to watch a 3D show. After that, our tour friends insisted on watching a 30-minute Lion King show and since it was still so hot outside and the heat was starting to take effect on us, especially on my mom who was already having palpitations and headache from all the walking under the sun, I didn't contest the idea even though I wanted to ride as many rides as possible with the limited time we had.

Disneyland map and a snapshot of The Lion King Live.

And again, the show did not disappoint. If it was only me, I would have not spent 30 minutes out of the less than 2 hours that we have left before the fireworks watching some show instead of further exploring the park even under the extreme heat. But since I had no choice, at least I didn't waste my time watching some boring production. The play was really good and it featured a really cool fire dance, a gymnast hanging from the ceiling and really good actors and singers.

Upon exiting the Lion King theater, since we're already on the jungle part of the theme park, we decided to ride the Jungle Log-ish ride ride with a group of Caucasians who complained later on that the tour boat guy was too fast. Ha.

After walking back to the center of the park, we rode some kind of circling space thing for kids because my sister wanted to and I have to accompany her. This was the time when I knew I'm not going to be able to do the things I've always wanted to do in Disneyland. I wanted to ride the It's a Small World fun ride and that Astro ride for thrill seekers. Heck, we didn't even get to explore the Tomorrowland part of Disneyland. There was simply not enough time. And like clockwork, the park's speakers announced that the fireworks was going to start in 5 minutes so we scurried to find a good spot for the display.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at night right before the fireworks display.

All the rides close right before the fireworks which starts at 7:30 and we were supposed to be on the bus at 8pm sharp. With the uber long walk to the bus parking lot, it's safe to say that we should leave the park right after the display.

The fireworks display was amazing. I have the whole thing on video and I'm glad my camera decided die on me after the show. Both my cellphone camera and my digital camera perished that night and it was a waste that I didn't get to snap shots of the park with all the pretty lights on. Everything's prettier in the evening, a general rule in picture taking that every tourist should know about.

We bought pastries for dinner as we proceeded back to the bus that would take us back to our hotels. It had been a very long day and we were all exhausted. Me and my sister were still on a high as we reached our hotel room, but we needed to sleep as early as possible, because tomorrow, we're going to Macau. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

There's something about mindless PC games that just gets so addicting you forget it's time to eat, drink or sleep. What is it about doing nothing productive that just makes you want to do it more?

The latest addition to my current list of Really Pointless Time Wasters is, yes, you guessed it, Cooking Dash 2. Now I've been a fan of these strategy games where you get to serve customers and stuff back in high school and even in college. Boy, these games can take hours off your precious time and make it seem like minutes have just passed by.

It all started with the famous Diner Dash saga where Flo, the star of this popular restaurant strategy PC game series, is a waitress trying to seat customers in their proper color arrangement, serve food, pick up the tab, clean up mess and provide high chair for those irritating crying babies. Put in that way, yes, it sounds a game a toddler would play but it's more entertaining than that, believe me. So entertaining that the original version generated sequels to further enhance its franchise giving birth to Diner Dash 2: Restaurant Rescue, Diner Dash: Flo on the Go and many more.

The latest addition to the Flo Restaurant strategy takes us to the land of the grill and fryers. She is now a chef trying to cook and waiter at the same time with the help of Grandma. Thus, Cooking Dash is born. I've also tried the first version of the said game and all I can say, aside from the breathtaking graphics, is that it is as addicting as its older sister. I didn't get to finish the whole game because I got stuck in a certain level I can't get past and my computer decided to have its annual issues at that time resulting to another re-installment of my OS.

Now, Cooking Dash 2 is out and, as expected, it delivered the usual customers we all know and love with additional characters to spice things up.
  • 3 New celebrity customers
  • Special power-ups
  • Over 25 decoration and upgrades to purchase
  • 5 New on-set restaurants, each with an original menu

I do not read the cartoon comics that comes up after each level depicting some kind of a story I don't really care about. All I know is that the setting is in some kind of a show shooting and it's Flo's responsibility to feed the production crew and the cast. It's not much different from its predecessor, meaning it will probably eat up my hours in the upcoming days until I get stuck in a certain level I can't get out of. Oh happy happy days.

I have just finished my 5-day BLS and CPR training and is now a Licensed First Aider. So, maybe, I deserve to waste a few days clicking and straining my eyes. *wink* :)

P.S. If in case you've paid close attention to the first image in this post, you may have noticed that it is welcoming a player who calls him/herself WAYSTED. Now, let me make it clear that I am not that player and I will never use such username in any account that I have or will have in the future. I have no affiliations with the seemingly alcohol induced player. He is a product of google image search. Thank you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just finished our First Aid training down at PNRC East Rizal Branch. For a newly graduate and registered nurse, it is now a growing trend that after graduation and/or while waiting for the result of the board exam or having passed the said exam, one would enroll into as much seminars and trainings as humanly possible in a desperate attempt to have something put into their resumes and increase their credibility as a professional. It's common knowledge that almost all the hospitals here in the Philippines are on freeze hiring right now because of surplus of nurses, and it is now almost mandatory to have an edge among the hundreds of thousands of competition out there. Unless, of course, if you have a backer.

Anyways, among all the numerous seminars and trainings many hospitals have wisely integrated into their institutions as both help to their staff's continuing education and a business racket among jobless newly grads, the top 3 contenders for the Most Popular Seminars/Trainings among Nursing Graduates are:

1) BLS or Basic Life Support which includes trainings about everything regarding CPR etc.
2) First Aid Training which tackles on bandaging, transfers and emergency management of various cases, and
3) IVT or Intra Venous Therapy Training which we are now fighting tooth and nail for.

All of these trainings have pretty sparkling licenses at the end of their paths. BLS and First Aid valid for 1 year and IVT for 3 (?) years.

And as of this day, we're 2 down, 1 to go.

What I've Learned:
  • That CPR is really tiring work and a pain in the knees and elbows.
  • Rescue breathing is harder than chest compressions.
  • Bandaging techniques are not that hard especially if you've already memorized them back in your college years.
  • Doing them neatly, though, in a time pressured situation is a whole different thing.
  • I can lift my 5 feet partner.
  • My partner cannot lift me. Ha.
  • Registered nurses know more than we ever thought we knew compared to people with non-medical background.
  • I've forgotten at least 40% of what I've studied in review classes. :(
Sharing our all RN class with 3 caregivers made me realize how simple terms in our world are not at all common to others. In a society who view nurses as money hungry selfish unpatriotic people in white who would leave the country at a moment's notice (more of that in later posts), it's a great feeling to again be enlightened on how much we know and how much more we can do for other people in need of our help.

Also, I am now compelled to read over my review materials in college and review center because I feel as if I've forgotten almost half of all the essential things I've learned over the past year. Facebook's farms and mansions and stupid little pet friends for sale has taken its last nursing neuron from my brain. Time to get them all fired up again.

Now, the hunt is on... again. The hunt for an IVT training hospital, that is. It seems like everywhere we look, slots get taken right before our very eyes and it's a pain waiting for another training session to open for reservations for the next month. Hopefully, we'll be able to get reservations for an October training if all goes well. As of this moment, I'll be happy and contented with being a Licensed CPR and First Aider. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 2 started with an early morning rise. We were supposed to be ready for the tour at 7:45am so we went down for the complimentary breakfast at 7. Little did we know that the ham and egg sandwich breakfast with coffee or tea would be the the same breakfast we'll have for the next 3 days. At around 7:40, people were starting to crowd the hotel lobby, mostly Filipinos. My mom befriended 2 ladies who were, as it turned out, in the tour with us. The tour guide arrived on time and we boarded the bus to our first stop.

Our tour group were composed of a semi-deadma all Filipino crowd, including a newlywed couple who were probably in their honeymoon, another family of 3 and a large family with several members. I didn't do a quick count but I would guess that we were probably 15-20 tourists in the bus.

The tour guide gave us a detailed map of Hong Kong with a piece of paper referring to our hotel so we could start tracing from there. This proved to be very useful on our 3rd day as we have to reach the Hong Kong Ferry Terminal on the other side of the city, all on our own.

Our first stop was in a kind of overlooking bay with a brass Bruce Lee statue and stars embedded in the pavement ala Hollywood Walk of Fame but featuring Hong Kong stars. We got the chance to take many pictures of the great view and the garden. But it the sun was shining a little too brightly so after the pictorial, we headed to the washroom to freshen up and back to the bus.

View of the bay. My camera decided to have issues at this time hence the gloomy photo. In reality it was freakin hot.

One of the stars etched in the pavement.

While riding the tour bus to the next stop, my cellphone proved to be a reliable camera amidst the window glass and movement. With it, I was able to capture these photos of some of the numerous skyscrapers of Hong Kong. (Click for a way bigger picture.)

Hong Kong is like a never ending Makati / Ayala with tall infrastructures everywhere.

Next stop is a taste of Victoria Peak. Here we were offered another view of the city. From high up a mountain.

View of the city and a Polo Club. Hence, all the greens.

I was not expecting this, but our next destination involved a sort of lake and a boat ride which showcased the fisherpeople of Hong Kong. Our tour guide said that long ago, fishing is the primary means of living of residents there and there are still families who chose to live at sea. With the boat ride (that costs HK$50 adult, $25 child), we were able to circle the body of water and take pictures of the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant. It is said that meals there costs an awful lot, but you get to be treated like Kings and Queens for the day.

I had a great time taking videos and pictures of everything. And if you're not interested in the view, the boat lady controlling where we go has buckets of souvenirs for sale, including T-shirts, magnetic Hong Kong thingies that you stick in the refrigerator, and other stuff for all ages. We ended up buying a couple of shirts and some of those magnetic things for giveaways.

Boat houses floating along the bank and the intricate design of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

Next stop was my least favorite. If it wasn't mandatory that we go there, I would've chosen another place to go to. We went to a jewelry shop where we got to see how various gems are polished to perfection then made to very very expensive accessories. We almost got harassed into buying an expensive ring but we made it out alive. The down side was that our group had to spend extra time in the store because our tourist bus broke down on us on our way there and they had to replace it with a different one. Hence, the lost time and the wait.

(1)Shot of the craftsman's working table and an (2)icon of everlasting luck.

Aboard the new bus, we were on our final stop of the half-day tour. It was a factory outlet of some sort with various items for sale. From chocolates to bags to Disney products, we were treated with free taste tests of the chocos and free delivery of what we have purchased to our hotel concierge. There we bought key chains and sweet stuffs and had it delivered to our hotel so we didn't have to carry it with us.

After shopping, we boarded again our bus. This was the time that we part ways. Some families were going to be dropped off to the shopping district for a shop-till-you-drop afternoon while others were going to... Disneyland! We, and the two ladies my mom befriended back in the hotel, were part of the Disneyland group. So, we sat back as half of our group left the bus, and together, we headed on to Lantau Island where the theme park is located.

I watched the window view as I imagine how many more shots the 3 cameras with me can stand. Ha.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Finally, after long long years, the trophy found its way back to Morayta. For those who didn't get to catch the results, here they are in proper order:


1) FEU - 86.10
2) ADMU - 83.40
3) UP - 83.10
4) UST
5) NU
7) UE
8) AdU


Now, I've been reading a lot of tweets and facebook status saying that FEU winning the title is, for lack of a better word, "LUTO". Now, I must admit, FEU's routine was not as creative compared to other contenders but what they lacked in style they made up for execution and technique. I keep saying this over and over again because it's hurtful for us to be considered only winners because FEU's the host school for the 2009 UAAP. I don't think that's the case at all.

Judges this year were Douglas Nierras (director of Powerdance), Evan Alva (President, Pilipinas Cheerleading Federation), Dr. Sylvia Chua (President, Cheerleading Association of the Philippines), Joy Valenton (National Judge Gymnastics Association of the Philippines), and Ai Hasegawa (International Judge, Foundation of Japan Cheerleading Association).

The UAAP CDC didn't have judges like these in their past competitions. Normally, judges are composed of one representative from each school and a special judge with a honorable background in cheering. The change in the judging system is probably what caused the disarray of the UP-UST-FEU Top 3 tradition of the CDC. What appealed to the crowd may not be appealing to the expertise of the judges. Plus, everybody I knew who watched in Araneta can contest that FEU's routine was superb.

Another thing is the new Sarimanok (Ok, more like Chicken) theme of FEU's routine. Now, I was also confused at first. I mean, I know we're supposed to be the Tamaraws, and I know Tamaraws don't have wings. Turns out, the Sarimanok was FEU's emblem when it was first founded way before World War II. In being UAAP Season 79's host school, FEU brought back the mythical creature to signify camaraderie and unity among participating schools with its multicolored feathers with a theme "One color. One goal."

I am beating myself right now for not watching the competition live in Araneta. If I had known that my school would be champions this year, I would've fought real hard for the sought after tickets. Anyways, I'm real proud to be a bonafide Tamaraw alumni. Here's to hoping for more gold! Get that ball! :D

Now I know why I'm getting so many hits from google to my A Very Potter Musical post a month ago. Starkid(potter)'s official site is now up along with the downloadable rerecorded official soundtrack of the said musical. And when you search "a very potter musical official site", my AVPM post shows up 4th on the list. Thank you google. But besides from the added traffic, I also wanted to point the lost Potter fans to the right direction because I was also confused for a minute there on where's the starkidpotter's site. So to all the AVPM fans out there, the OFFICIAL SITE'S right this way:

It features not only A Very Potter Musical but also Little White Lie (which I have yet to finish). There's not much on the site yet because it's fairly new but the link to where the soundtrack can be downloaded is up. Yay! As you can see from my screen cap I am currently downloading the zip file as I write this post. I've already listened to the soundtrack over and over again via imeem but having it saved in my computer and my cellphone for continuous play (on loop) is another thing. I'm so excited!

On another musical note: I'm so gaga over GLEE!

GLEE is the latest brainchild of Ryan Murphy, the creator of Nip/Tuck and Popular (which I also watched every episode of back then). In a nutshell, it's High School Musical meets Election (the movie, starring Reese Witherspoon) but with a sharper, more sardonic wit. It thankfully lacks HSM Gabriella's irritating pout and Disney's childish humor.

The pilot episode, for me, was a bit rushed and I've learned that it was premiered right after American Idol's season finale so that's probably why they tried to pack so much in one episode because the next one's set for September, four months after the pilot showing. After watching the second installment, though, of Glee, I'm hooked. Add to that the Don't Stop Believing number that I now have on my phone which I still can't get over.

So there's my take and humanitarian efforts for the two musicals so deserving of recognition. Go and watch A Very Potter Musical for the nth time, visit the site and download the soundtrack. Glee, meanwhile, if you're from the Philippines, will be premiering on ETC this Tuesday Sept. 15 @ 10pm.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

We left for the airport at around 7am. We arrived at the wrong airport at around past 8. It was both embarrassing and hilarious because we went to NAIA only to find out that we were supposed to go to the Centennial version of NAIA where Philippine Airlines have long moved since 2003. I was disappointed that I'm not going to be able to enter the same airport that we've been sending countless of relatives to. The Centennial version was smaller than its big brother with bright luminescent lights not complexion friendly. Haha. Anyways, after a bunch of lines, we finally made it through the aircraft. I was sitting at near the aisle at first and was not happy about it. My sister, who was in the window seat was not even looking out of it. Halfway through the flight though, I convinced my sister to switch seats which she happily agreed.

The first photo was from my aisle seat (yes, 3 seats from the window and I'm still taking pictures of the scenery). The second one was a happy moment for me as I got to the vibe of endless snapping of the clouds and the plane's wings.

Initial photos of Hong Kong as we were landing.

Upon landing, Hong Kong airport was a whole different story. It was huge. Like, Mall of Asia huge but I don't have the figures to back it up. All I know is that it's a mall and airport all in one. There are tons of shops around and there's even a terminal to the MTR (the LRT version of HK). We easily identified our travel agent amongst the crowd and we were told to wait for the transfer to the hotel. There we got a taste of my sister's first tantrum sessions. We had no idea she was going to have one every 2 hours.

We reached Mexan Harbour Hotel past lunch time. We all were both hungry and exhausted from sitting all day. Me and my mom wanted to go out and explore the city but the prima dona of the trip felt otherwise so we ended up buying food from the hotel cafe and eating in our room.

Thankfully, our afternoon didn't go to waste. After asking hotel clerks who can half-understand us, readying out coins for the bus fare, walking a great distance to the bus stop and figuring out how to use their drop-coin-here way of paying for the fare, we managed to reach a nearby mall located in front of Kwai Fong MTR station. There, we went grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping in a foreign country was a fun treat, as I expected. You see tons of products you've never tried and it's fun getting stuff you don't know what it is exactly you're buying. I also enjoyed taking pictures of the rich items they have in store including soda bottles in pretty colors and ready to eat delicacies like shushi and other recipes I cannot pronounce.

We didn't know we were supposed to have a bag with us ready. It turned out that people there don't use plastic bags for groceries anymore. All the customers have their own bags to put their groceries into and if you don't have one you have to pay for a (very thin) plastic bag for HK $.50 (roughly Php3.50). So we paid for 2 bags and went to find a money changer.

After getting our US dollars changed to HK dollars, we headed home because the bags we were carrying were getting heavier by the second. I would have liked to stay and explore the place a little more but, like I said, we have a prima dona with us who needed sleep and rest every hour (and no she's not an infant) so we headed back to our hotel, ate our food and enjoyed our hotel room's view.

We slept early because we'll be having a big day tomorrow. Our Hong Kong day tour will start at 7:45 am then we'll be heading to Disneyland till closing. Read about the yayness on my next HKM post...
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