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Monday, November 29, 2010

Restaurant Review: Mango Tree Bistro in Trinoma

I love Thai food yet unfortunately, I can never seem to get my fix for Thai food here in Manila.  Last night, Vic and I tried this newly opened restaurant in Trinoma - the Mango Tree Bistro - and it turns out that the place offers Thai cuisine!  Well, we got our usual favorites - from Tom Yung Goong to Khao Phad - yet the taste was pretty ordinary.  I don't know if the cooks here 'Filipinize' the taste to suit the Filipino taste buds, but I'd still rather go to Bangkok to get my Thai food fix.  I think the cooks substitute the spiciness too much because in Thailand, I could always feel that my ears are burning from the hot spices!  But here, I rarely experience that.  

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Quarterly Purging

Last week, I decided to embark on some form of general cleaning, as the rooms and the halls of the house was beginning to accumulate clutter.  We've had to close one of our offices and the tables and chairs alone from that place was enough to make the house look very cluttered.  So last week, I decided to clean out the room which used to be our bodega.  

For Filipinos, a bodega is where you place stuff you don't want the neighbors to see in your house.  But why have a bodega?  Why just choose stuff from it that I still wanted and just give off the rest.  That is exactly what I did, and now, the bodega is empty and all the chairs and tables from the office are piled neatly and stored away, hidden from the view. 

However, I still could not throw everything, so there is still so much clutter left, which has now transferred to the fourth floor of the house. I still also have to clean the fabric area of the house, which is still messy.  Oh, well, maybe next quarter.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Daily Expenses - November 27, 2010

Today was my friend, Precious' birthday so we went to her place in Malolos, Bulacan, about one and half hour ride from my place. That was the biggest bulk of my expenses today for the gas and the toll fees.

1.  gas - 500 pesos (US$11.39)
2.  parking - 35 pesos (US$0.80)
3.  toll fee - 128 pesos (US$2.92)
                    663 pesos (US$15.10)

My Daily Expenses: November 26, 2010

Today was another date night, this time, with my gal pal Rica.  We both love to eat out so we decided to check this new reincarnation of an old restaurant, in Cafe 1771!  Anyhow, I used my credit card to pay for it so I will only list my cash purchases for today -

1.  movie tickets for Skyline - 250 pesos - (US$5.69)
2.  parking - 45 pesos - US$1.03)
3.  brownies - 170 pesos - (US$3.87)
                         465 pesos (US$10.59)

I expect more expenses next week as the Christmas season kicks in with its parties and gifts to give!

What My Friends Actually Wrote About Me in My College Yearbook!

This is me now, 16 years after college (I graduated at the age where some of my friends are already finishing their masters degrees!), and I unearthed my college yearbook and found out what my friends actually wrote about me.  It's a fun read and although what eventually happened to my life is not what's really written there, I won't trade it for anything else since I love now, the life I have created for myself!

"Faster than a speeding Ikot when late for class....
With words more powerful than a locomotive...
Able to write great essays in a single sitting....
It's a's a tutor.........
It's Antonio H. Fabe, Jr.!!
He is an industrious and witty student by day and a party-going disco-maniac by night.  A real audiophile who loves to indulge in his ever-growing collection of cassette tapes, he'll either be seen giving advice in his distinct Cebuano accent, or won't be seen at all when you need to ask him for money (just kidding).  Hopes to be a journalist and psychologist in the mold of Dr. Margie Holmes, and dreams of continued success in his tutorial business.

Indeed, a SUPER GUY!"

My College Yearbook Missive

This was what I actually wrote on my college yearbook!  This was my hope and dreams at that time!  Some of it still are and it's funny that, in a way, that was exactly what I wanted to do with my life!

"There's a lot of things going for today's Filipino youth and I'd like to take an active part in their development and growth.  There's always a certain joy and excitement whenever I get to partake in a conversation with a kid.  They see the world so differently, so much in contrast to the jaded musings of an adult.  I feel some kind of responsibility, not only to my students but also to my country.  I feel that I'm in a position where I can make some changes in the way we live, and in the way we view things. I wish to impart values which would give them that power to make changes in their lives and to make them aware of their responsibilities towards their family, their country and to God."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dinner Tonight at the Cozy and Charming Cafe 1771

I actually chose the place because I read about it in a magazine article in the Philippine Star last weekend.  Anyhow, Vic and I have also been fans of the previous Chateau 1771 there so I was curious as to how the place has changed, and why they changed it into a cafe. 

My friend chose the lemon chicken, while I had the lamb caldereta.  The taste was ok.  The meat was tender and I practically scraped everything from the bowl and ate everything, including the beans.  I just left the bones. 

 Well, this is a good place to go for a little dinner talk with friends especially if you want some cozy place to hang out. It's a bit pricey though since our bill reached one thousand five hundred pesos (US$34.17) since we were only two people, and I didn't even order a drink.  I stuck to my water regimen!  However, I love the service!  It's quick, they are polite and not intrusive, and deserved the service charge you see in the bill.  Even their uniforms blend well with the interiors!  Har har!  I don't know if that's a good thing but it was certainly pleasing to the eye.
Well, the place is cute and cozy and charming, you'd actually wonder if you've entered a library and not an actual restaurant.  I was glad we were seated in their 'library' since it's more quiet, than the main area where most of the guests enter.  It's a bit noisy there.  I suggest you make a reservation in that area, unless of course you have kids. If you do, it's better to get the main dining area because there are many breakable things in the library area!

My Look For Tonight's Dinner - November 26, 2010

Well, every chance I get, I try to dress up, even for simple dinners like the one I had tonight with good friend Rica.  We chose a cute and cozy restaurant tonight called Cafe 1771 at the El Pueblo in the Ortigas area.  Tonight, I decided to accent my shirt with a modified blue bowtie I bought in a shop in Tutuban mall in Divisoria.  The cloth of the long sleeve shirt I wore came from Indonesia and I had it sewn. It has petit gold trimmings in it sewn into the cloth.  The cloth also feels like spandex and it's cool and stretcheable.  This look reminds me of what the men wore in the court of Louis XIV, although my version is less ostentatious.

Bigoli in Trinoma

 If you want something inexpensive on a budget date night, the Bigoli restaurant in Trinoma is for you.  I decided to try it tonight and I found out it's an Italian style restaurant with self-service bottomless iced tea and soda.  I tried their fettucine carbonara.  It had lots of bacon on it but it was fine.  Nothing exciting though.  However, I got the bigger plate so next time, maybe I should just get the solo thing since I had to eat a lot just to finish it.

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My Daily Expenses: November 25, 2010

Today is date night so I have no choice but to spend, although I keep watching that it doesn't go overboard with it.  Anyhow, here are my expenses today -

1.  movie - 320 pesos (US$7.29) - that's for two tickets already
2.  dinner - 220 pesos (US$5.01) - I should've just eaten at McDo
3.  Burger King - 235 pesos (US$5.35) - it's food that I brought home so that Vic and I can have a midnight snack - at 3AM!!
4. Mrs. Fields - 150 pesos (US$3.42) - I just love their brownies and I usually buy some to eat when I watch a movie
5. toiletries - 250 pesos (US$5.69)
                       1175 pesos (US$26.77)

*  and this is a cheap date night!  We didn't got to no fancy place or watch a concert!  Oh well, time well spent though - and good company to be with too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Daily Expenses: November 24, 2010

I spent a bundle today and in a way, it's making me irritated because I have a busy weekend ahead and I might not have enough money to pay for things.  Anyway, here are my expenses today -

1.  engine oil - 160 pesos (US$3.64)
2.  pan de sal/Coke - 80 pesos (US$1.82)
3.  junk food/fruit - 357 pesos (US$8.13) 
4.  toiletries - 100.75 pesos (US$2.29)
5.  cellphone load - 40 pesos (US$0.91)
                                577.75 pesos (US$13.16)

Maybe I could've saved around 100 pesos if I did not buy those chocolates.  Those should be the last chocolates I buy for myself this week.  Otherwise, I needed all the other stuff.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

My Daily Expenses - November 22, 2010

I had only about 800 pesos (US$18.22) in my wallet today and I ended up spending most of them.  Here were my expenses today -

1. Fitness First replacement ID - 400 pesos (US$9.10) - stupid of me to lose my previous ID.  I left it in the locker room at SM North EDSA and I was shocked to find it now costs that much to have it replaced!  No choice there.  Next time, I guess I'd have to be more careful and remember to have my ID always before I leave!

2. gasoline - 200 pesos (US$4.55) - I brought the van today and because of the traffic, I wasted that much on diesel. The van is always almost empty and I don't load it up on gas since I just use it, at most, twice a week.

3.  Nova crackers- 28 pesos (US$0.64) - snacks to munch while watching TV

4.  cellphone load - 40 pesos - (US$0.91) - I am a cheapskate and would try my best to stretch this to 3-4 days.  Good luck to me!

5.  credit card payment - 4,132 pesos (US$94).  I really want to get rid of this debt in one year's time.  I have three credit cards, but two of them are being paid by the company since they are being used to pay company bills.  The one I'm paying is my personal one.  I drew up a large amount of debt last year and it's only these past few months that I'm actually paying a little more than the minimum.  So, I sacrifice every week and give almost 80% of my weekly salary on debt payments. Gosh, I sound like the Philippine economy!!


My Personal Christmas Wish List

I know giving gifts during Christmas is nerve-wracking so I'm just going to make it easy for you guys, especially those who plan to give me something this Christmas.  I know all our budgets are tight so it would be such a waste if the gift we give is not something we really want.  Anyhow, this is for those willing to take a hint!!  Merry Christmas and happy shopping!!

My Christmas Wish List for 2010 -

1.  Chocolates -  J'adore chocolat and it can be cheap ones like Chocnut, or common ones like M&Ms or Baby Ruth.  If you have the cash, Vic and I really love Godiva especially the ones in those boxes, the truffles, most especially, but you'd have to fly to HK to get us those. Just in case anyone is flying out to HK and coming back before Christmas.  Anyhow, even the high end chocolates available locally like Royce or Leonidas would do fine, although I've never really tried them.

2.  Planners - Well, I don't really mean the giveaway ones, which are fine, because I need planners for my TV guide, and my travel journal and my movie tickets, etc, etc.!  I love the ones in Powerbooks, the ones with the paintings.  Vic and I always buy a few everywhere, and we never even use them.  They're just so pretty! I prefer the bulky ones which may be expensive so the pocketbook ones are fine too.

3.  Notebooks -  Vic and I are notebook persons!  And I don't mean laptops. I just bough a new laptop so I've covered that.  I mean, paper notebooks. Powerbooks has many lovely notebooks (and I don't mean Moleskins) - the quirkier the notebook, the better.  If you have the cash, HK has some nice stationery shops which sell very quirky and very cute notebooks.  Oh well, just in case you're in IFC.

4.  Books - I love books as presents.  I discovered Neil Gaiman and Allan Hollinghurst because they were Christmas gifts. I read almost anything EXCEPT anything religious or inspirational.  Don't give me Chicken Soup or How to Be Happy.  I don't care for self-help books. I'm fucked up and I know it and no one can help me, so I prefer to get my good values from fiction.  Fiction is more fun.  No one has ever given me a nonfiction book, so that would be interesting too! I love art books too, especially those about European or abstract painters.

5.  Soap - I love soap!!  I mean the bath soaps, but body washes are also fine.  I receive several during Christmas and it's cute because I get from different brands - the more unfamiliar, the better.  Locally made is what I like since i want to support local products.  I buy soap when I travel.  The more recent ones I bought came from Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana.  Cocoa soap and Coffee-based soap!  They smelled so good I could've eaten them.

Well, that's just about it.  These shouldn't be too hard to find in any mall in Manila and shouldn't set you back so much.  As they say, it's always the thought that counts.

What I Would Do If I Won the P535 Million Lotto Prize

For the record, I haven't bet on this particular lotto prize yet but because the prize is so stupendously big, and that everyone is just talking about it (from my driver to my gym buddies), I've decided to write about it.  What would I do if I did win P535 million pesos or roughly US$12 million dollars?  Let me see....ok, here it is....

1.  Pay off all my debts and mortgages.  A measly amount compared to what I've received.

2.  Invest 100 million pesos in the Philippine stock market.  Filipino companies are doing well now due to good management so that would be my contribution to boosting my confidence on their leadership and stewardship of these companies.  And of course, to help the Philippine economy na rin.

3.  Give 100 million to charity.  Put up a foundation so that I can purposely choose which charities to give, although I think I'd give outright lump sums to three churches, the one in New Manila, the one in Timog and the Roxas church, since they were instrumental in helping my first business, my tutorial center.  Maybe 10 million each.  Then 20 million to the Missionaries of Charity, since I'm a devotee of Mother Teresa and I've seen their work with orphan babies and unwed mothers.  Then another 20 million to World Vision since I've seen how they acted after Ondoy.  They really helped! And they were quick!!  Another 20 million to Gawad Kalinga since I've seen their work with different homeless communities - and they've helped a lot of people. I hate doing manual work, even for photo-ops, so I think I'd just do the next best thing.  The 10 million I will reserve for the foundation and decide along the way, which charities and NGOs to support.

4.  Give 100 million to my immediate family and some relatives who helped us when we were really poor.  Special mention to my lovely cousins Rissa and Vanessa who just accepted us for who we are, to one of my lolas, who was always accomodating to me when I wanted to watch betamax in her house, and her son, who is my uncle, for always respecting me, even if I think he knew I was gay. I love his Dad, my lolo, very much for the respect he gave to me.

5. Leave 50 million for the educational trust fund of Laura and Dylan so that they can go to the best schools when they reach college and they have seed money for whatever they want to do with their lives. 

6.  The remaining 100 million +++ I will just save it for the meantime and continue to live my life the way I always do.  I will continue to work since I love what I'm doing and maybe bankroll a project or two, which I have always wished on doing - like an independent movie, or invest on the fashion line and open some stores.  No hurry.  It's very easy to spend money but difficult to earn it back.  At least, with 135 million in the bank, I won't have to worry where to get the money to pay off my next few bills.

OK, back to reality now.  But that was a cool exercise!  Good luck to whoever wins it though!  Having too much money in a country like ours is such a headache!  Everybody is now your friend - or feign a blood relation with you!!

Sunday Family Dinner at Cyma Shangri-la

We usually gravitate to the same restaurants in most of the malls we visit.  For example, if we are in Shangri-la Mall, it's now usually a toss up between Cibo and Cyma.  We used to go to CPK before but Vic said the taste of their food has changed. So we don't go there anymore.  Anyway, I just had my Saturday dinner at Cyma with a friend, and now, I have my Sunday dinner again, in Cyma Shangri-la, this time with my family.  Vic did most of the ordering so he came up with interesting stuff like moussaka, baby back ribs, which is his favorite, and the angel hair pasta.  They did not serve any clams since they said there was a red tide.  The food was good, as usual, so I take back my observation last Saturday.  The angel hair was a bit soggy but I like the taste of the tomato sauce.  Today, I decided not to order Coke, which is good.  It's one of the things I have to limit the intake of, because I'm so addicted to it! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pink Fox Tales: The Kindhearted Ferds

Ferds is 27 years old, a call center agent, a nursing graduate who worked as an English teacher in Korea years ago.  When we went out, he recounted the days when he had lots of money since he earned well as a teacher in Korea. He laments the fact that his salary now as a call center agent is too low for him.

Anyhow, like most Filipinos, he helped and continues to provide money to everyone in his family.  That's why he is always short of money.  I think it runs in most Filipino families to shell out money to everyone.  I am however thankful, that my mother was very strict with that and just taught us to fend for ourselves first before helping others.  I am normally surprised about the mendicancy attitude that most Pinoys have, especially when they have a family member who works abroad.  Yeah, I was also like that, easy to give, but I've learned my lesson that people will only love you when you have money, and will leave you soon as you lose it all.  So now, I just prioritize my needs first, then the kids, then maybe some charitable institution. As for family members asking for money, my rule is, if it's for my Mom, yeah I will give it freely, but for them, I will have to check if they deserve it.  God knows, I have been fooled many times over.  I will have the last laugh this time.

I tried to tell Ferds to have that hard-nosed attitude, because the reality is, it's his hard-earned money and sometimes, luck may run out for us, so we should have something for the rainy days!  Pay yourself first, as they say!

My Daily Expenses - November 21, 2010

Today, I just paid for two things, 100 pesos (US$2.28) for the church tithing and PhP1,914.75 (US$43.62) for my Standard Chartered card.  I try to budget a weekly payment of around 2000 pesos (US$45.56) to that card so that I can slowly get rid of my huge debt on it.

The temptation to use it is always there but I always remind myself of the high interest charges they have so that alone can dissuade me already from using it.

This Week I Will.... (for the week ending November 27, 2010)

Well, last week, I went back to my old habit of buying CDs and I think I bought too much and I'm afraid they'd stack up again without me ever listening to them. So I will limit it again to just one CD a week.  So that would be around 4 CDs a month. I will reserve two of those to OPM CDs and the rest to international artists. That should help boost my OPM stock a bit to 26 CDs in a year.  Before, I would only buy one OPM CD every 3 years.  I was so out of touch with OPM music.

These are the other things I plan to do this week -

1.  Clean the third floor room and clean up the first floor and donate all unneeded stuff.  The house should NOT turn into a MUSEUM!!
2.  No Coke or softdrinks this week.  Choose water if it's a meal and junk the soda.
3.  Return to watching one local movie a week and prioritize an indie movie.  It's funny that I'm a stranger to the entertainment produced in my own country.
4.  Change my workout program once again.  Add Attack and Jonas' Tuesday hiphop class. That should jolt me a little bit.

These are the things I want to continue to do this week -
1.  Pray the rosary upon waking up.
2.  Read for 30 minutes.  This week, I'm reading Jane Hamilton's 'A Map of the World'.
3.  Spend time with Mabel, my bff.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Look For Today's Date - Brooks Brothers, Hugo Boss, Zara

It's funny how much quandary we get into, especially when we go out on a date.  I had to weigh several things. My date was 12 years younger than me, the mall we went to was upscale and I wanted to be comfortable.  I tried several looks, especially with those tight fitting shirts very popular today, but I decided on a Brooks Brothers look - which fits my age perfectly.  

A little preppy, a little fashionable and I decided to pair the Brooks Brothers polo shirt with my favorite Hugo Boss shorts with a tassle, and then the blue Zara shoes.  My date said I looked so different the first time he saw me.  He said I looked so respectable and I fixed my hair!  Har har har!!  And he said I looked cuter now.  

I think it's my glasses.  I've heard that compliment before when I woer my glasses, as opposed to just wearing my contact lenses.  I actually enjoyed my look today.  I guess I should veer towards that direction - instead of trying to hard to look like on of today's kids!

My Pork Chop In Cyma

Cyma used to be one of my favorite restaurants but tonight, as I ate their pork chop, I didn't quite enjoy it.  I had the good sense to share the pork chop with my date, since I'm trying to go on a diet - and two big slices of it would've been just too much!!  Maybe because I forgot to squeeze the lemon on it, I really don't know.  Thankfully, it was tender and I sliced it easily. But still at 520 pesos (US11.85) I think it was too much.  It was bland and tasteless.  Maybe I should've asked for Maggi soy sauce.  Too bad really since I used to get excited eating there.  Well, there are several restaurants beside it so maybe I try those next time.
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My Parking Instincts Are So Poor

Anyone who has driven in Metro Manila can attest to you that you'd have to have killer instincts here when it comes to parking in the malls, especially now that it's a -ber month.  It becomes worse during the Christmas season!  Anyhow, I drove myself today since my brother borrowed my driver.  So I went up the Shangri-la Mall car park and it took me 12 minutes to get parking space!! I arrived 6:10 PM, I found a free parking space at 6:22PM, which is ages to someone who used to have killer parking instincts.  What pissed me more was that five cars behind me found parking spaces before I did!!  I used the 'stay in one place' technique but the space I chose was not lucky.  All the people who got their cars were parked way behind me!  Which pissed me off again!  Anyway, next time, I just go around the lot, ever so slowly, and ever so mindful for a slot!  Let's see tomorrow.  My driver will have his day off.  Wish me luck!

My Daily Expenses - November 20

Ever since we cut a lot of expenses, we are now able to breathe a little more and enjoy life a little.  I think this has been the first week, in a long time, that I've been able to enjoy myself a little.  Even then, I want to write my daily expenses again so I can check myself.  I still am deep in credit card debt, lest I forget.  But not too deep anymore that I can't enjoy life a little.

My expenses for today (everything in Philippine peso) -

1. parking - 45
2. movie - 402
3. Cyma - 673.57
4. McDo - 180
5. Mrs. Fields - 175
6. mineral water  70
7. toiletries - 93.70
8. entertainment - 220
    TOTAL  1859.27 (US$42.62)

Well, the food expense was particularly big today, getting 59% of my expenses.  I had a date today and I didn't ask him to Dutch treat, but maybe next week, I'll ask him to share some of the expenses, at least for the food.  Maybe I could have saved a little if we just ate in a fastfood,  I could've saved 400 pesos.  And maybe next time, just water, no more drinks.  Also, for the movie, we can go to another mall, like Robinsons perhaps, where the movies are cheaper by 15%.  Also, maybe I could just get one brownie instead of two.  I could've saved around 600 pesos or 33%.  Ok, lesson learned.  Eat in a fastfood.  Ask if he can Dutch treat and don't get the meal if they have mineral water for free.  And don't watch in Shangri-la mall anymore. Overpriced movie tickets!

Pay with your eyes wide open and save what you can!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yummy Chinese Food in Mann Hann

We have always been fans of Mann Hann especially when Laura and Dylan are in tow.  They particularly like the Green Seafood Soup which is all they eat, along with a little of the Yang Chow rice.  Vic likes the Spicy Spare Ribs and the Lemon Chicken, which we had again tonight.  This time, we ate at their branch in SM North.  We are usually habitues of their Trinoma branch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Have A Haircut Or Not

Now that my hair is starting to grow long again, I am now faced again with the dilemma to have it cut or not.  I've always wanted a Josh Groban hair style but I think I have to have my hair cut so that when it grows longer, it achieves that Josh Groban look. 

I have never grown my hair long in my entire life, since when it becomes longer, it has a tendency of achieving that Madame Marcos look when it's dry. So having long hair will require a lot of hair products and maintenance.  Anyway, Vic's friend Jackie, seems like the perfect person to give me that much needed haircut soon.  He just won the Men's Division in the hairstyling competition of Hair Asia last Tuesday.  Maybe he could give me some ideas on how to style my hair!  But for now, maybe I'll see how I'll look like as my hair grows longer.