Thursday, January 31, 2008

Starbucks profit update

It was very ironic that this morning I originally planned to get a cheap breakfast at the nearby 711 convenient store, but was hounded by the distance and convenience of a Starbucks branch located at the ground floor of our building. Location. Location. Location. Have you ever wondered the mushroom effect of Starbucks versus those of 711 stores, granted that Starbucks is really not your one-stop practical coffee chain? Unbelievable and yet they have clinched their place in the market that it's not surprising to find two Starbucks branches in one block. Starbucks kind of resembles a life or oxygen station where people could refuel. It creates the impression of being a need rather than a want.

As I began to trot down my lazy butt, I saw a report in that tickled my fancy, and yes it's about Starbucks.

We all know that Starbucks is an all-American brand, and America right now is not faring economically well. They are at their trying times, specifically on the way to recession and consumer spending in the states currently adopts a sluggish pace. As the globe feels that the biggest financial and consuming nation in the world is having troubles, I guess it would be an understatement to say that Americans are the ones who immediately feel the backlach of their trigger happy consuming country. They are now being haunted by their power and excess, and what better way to illustrate the unfortunate chain of events, than to illustrate the effects through their popular brand, Starbucks.

According to, Starbucks profit slows as US business weakens. The report was made by Matt Andrejczak. In his report Starbucks said that it will close 100 under-performing US stores, or roughly 1% of its current coffee shops, by the end of September. The new strategy that by reducing the number of openings, they would be able to optimize their resources and reduce cannibalization of existing stores.

They have tried to emulate different businesses like what fastfood chain does by offering food, breakfast meals and such, but their price is quite unappealing to that of McDonald's, which is by the way already entering Starbuck's turf in providing good coffee with sandwiches at a very low cost. Starbucks has to rethink and adapt through the times.

As of now, we have to wait Starbuck's new strategy as it would unveil five major consumer initiatives on their March 19 annual meeting. I wonder what Starbuck's would do to fight this US economic meltdown, that's for us to find out.

To fly on ATR-72-500 this Summer

I love to travel, and I guess it's a good thing that I'm not afraid of flying. Rollercoasters, airplanes, parasailing or anything air-related will not unnerve me. I guess that yearly trip to Cebu ever since I was a baby paid off. Also, it must have something to do with my mother's penchant for traveling even if she's 7-9 months pregnant with her kids.

It's really very common for people to develop phobias in flying. I could understand their irrational behavior. We all have our own phobias and quirks sometimes, as I do have with lizards. It just gets weirder and weirder.

Although there is one thing that I dare say would make me totally go hysterical when it comes to the possibility of flying. The weighing in. ACK!!! Are you serious? I never even weigh myself privately. I rely on my mental self-estimates, which are very unrealiable. I don't like numbers to begin with, and certainly I don't like numbers reminding me how much I've gained for the past year. But weighing in public, out of sheer security measure, is way too traumatic and death-defying.

Which reminds me. My friends and I are geared to spend our summer getaway in Boracay this March. Last year, the arrangements were done differently as my boyfriend and I decided to take Cebu Pacific to Kalibo, city proper of Aklan, and take a van en route to Caticlan port going to Boracay, while our friends took a direct charter flight via Sea Air airlines straight to Caticlan airport. To understand Caticlan airport means one should also understand that the planes that fly there are relatively smaller than your usual aircraft. It only has less than 30 seats. I haven't tried that yet and frankly there was no opportunity, but definitely based on my assessments, for those who have fear of flying especially in cramped small aircrafts, this might be a thing to consider.

I could take in the small structure of the plane, the whirl of the fan and engine, turbulence, or the supposed rumors that these super low budget airlines pool interns to be the so-called captains of the flight (that's why it's so low budget right?? the pilots are cheap..well you know why!). Fine, i could take that in, it could be added to my adventure book even...but except for this one they really have to weigh people in? Seriously, that is far traumatic and it is a certified deal breaker.

I don't know if this is true, I heard it one day from a voice in the midst, voice meaning from a real live friend before you conclude that it came from my imagination, that passengers riding in those types of aircrafts are expected to step on the scale publicly to properly distribute weight on the plane. How very logical it is and how very frightening. That would be a modern version of the boat is sinking. The difference is aside from being an odd man out, you're a laughing stock of the whole batch and did I just mention that your trip and ego would be crushed? It's like the fat guy would have to sit with the bunch of body beautiful dudes and dudettes, to cancel out his group's fat weight at the right wing. Talk about subtlety. That would be the worst ride of my entire life. Give me turbulence, give me airport food, give me backache, but do not give me that damn scale! I paid to sit wherever I please, with whomever I please, and I did not just pay to bruise my ego in that 45 minute ride in the air. And worse, the group you departed with on the first trip would be the same group you'll return with, oh boy, that's a vacation from hell.

But seriously, when I learned that we are to fly straight to Caticlan, I must admit it did raise one concern.

To confirm the hearsay, I immediately checked our reservations and confirmed that we are to ride the carrier Cebu Pacific, that has by the way initiated their first Public Offering this February 1st 2008. They give the country's carrier, Philippine Airlines a good kickass competition. In fact in a report, they have bested Philippine airlines in the number of passengers accommodated and in the number of local flights of the previous year. Cebu Pacific is also the pioneer in offering low budget, Piso Fare rates. They've increased their market by more than 50%. They've improved their ticketing, internet facilities, although personally they still have to improve their promptness, you know, being stuck in the airport for more than 2 hours last year was no big joke. Despite that glitch, they've also engaged in high cost and massive advertising. They've also expanded their horizons in opening numerous international flights. In fact, they are now covering more international direct flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Macau as of Sept-October 07. They are poised to conquer the local Philippine air.

That's not all. Cebu Pacific has announced that staring on February 29, luckily my father's birthday, they will be finally flying Manila-Boracay route and on March 28 they'll be opening the Cebu-Boracay route! Double whammy for me! Roxas - Boracay - Cebu, what more could I ask for?

But wait, does this involve the weigh in? Luckily NO! Due to Cebu Pacific's ongoing expansion, they are poised to get 10 new aircrafts this year. They are currently increasing their fleet to 4 more Airbus 320 and 6 more ATR 72-500 planes. And if you're wondering what allowable aircraft will be flown to Caticlan, it's the 74 Seater ATR 72-500.

Airbus and Beoing are familiar and trusted carriers, but just for the benefit of my friends and others who are simply curious of ATR 72-500, here's the deal on the Aircraft:

ATR-72-500, is the most environmentally friendly aircraft with the lowest emissions of any 70 seat aircraft, thus reported by Skycontrol site. ATR is a regional aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, Southern France. In 2006, ATR posted a turnover of USD 700 million, an increase of 30% since 2005.

Here are some images of what an ATR-72-500 looks like.

Bravo for Cebu Pacific's initiative!

Aside from looking forward to sunny and beachy moments. I think I'm more excited to experience this new addition to the Cebu Pacific aircraft collection. I hope that for those with immense fear of flying, well no fear; riding this aircraft, for anyone's quick trips to small islands and airports, will offer fruitful, safe and more pleasurable promises!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

RE: The Monica Bellucci Confusion uncovered

I simply adore Monica Bellucci and her movies! But surprisingly as it may seem, I think I might have discovered something very relevant to her existence on this rather uneventful Wednesday. But first let me identify myself as a certified odd-man admirer, admiring the likes of Gary Oldman, Daniel-Day Lewis, John Malkovich, Andy Garcia, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp as supposed to the norm admiration selection of Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and blond blue eyed heartthrob. Yes, believe me, this is an essential part to my rediscovery about this Monica Bellucci confusion.

I know I've noticed Monica Bellucci's beauty, prowess and acting abilities way before I stepped into the maturity arms of college. And through thorough observation, I've successfully canceled out my confusion of Monica with another French Actress quite similar to her beauty, Sophie Marceau. But there is still one beauty and actress that I know who unconsciously tries to trick the visuals. I never expected I would remember her now.

As I was reading Jessica Zafra's blog, I couldn't help but agree with her full admiration to Daniel Day Lewis (one of my emotional weaknesses). The next action I realized I was doing was searching the actor through my reliable source, wikipedia. I must admit that it's been a constant habit of mine to know more about facts on people, artists, titles and occurrence as soon as it tickles my fancy. Sometimes I do surprise people of my intensity to know facts however silly and plain it may seem, just like surprising a friend yesterday by calling him out of the blue while trying to confirm after a thorough research that he is a cousin of my long lost classmate in grade school. Did I say he was left dumbfounded of this certain intensity? Anyways, Wikipedia and all other network resources nowadays are very informative. This is the actual where I get the latest info in just a byte away. I use it for spoilers sometimes. I already knew the ending of Harry Potter, the last book, through wiki even before my friends could actually get their hands on the real thing. Hehe.

Going back, as I was reading Daniel Day Lewis' factoids, I read about his personal life and his long 6 year relationship with a European actress Isabelle Adjani. Hmm...that's familiar. As I googled her in another tab, lo and behold, I totally remembered that she was the one, the face and the aura that is quite similar to Monica Bellucci's. I don't know if she is actually aware that she looks like Monica Bellucci, or vice versa. But for me, bravo for the confusion! But then again, she is pretty in her own right, if you tend to observe her a little bit closer. And here's one for a better look.

Am I right, or am i right? (Just click on my previous blog Monica Bellucci for Monica Bellucci's images...and prepare to be amazed.)

I say, do all Europeans produce beauties like this on a normal basis?

What you're about to view is the beautiful French-Hollywood actress Isabelle Adjani, my source of Monica Bellucci confusion. They're not related...although if some European family tree branch has broken somewhere, I wouldn't be surprised if they find out they are relatives.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Families "food poor" reflection

I just read an article this morning at Manila Standards online. It says in the headlines that 34% of families "food poor" and rate declining since June of 2006.

We all know that this country is developing. Poverty is present everywhere you look. The terms "poor and poverty" are sometimes even casually used in modern Makati wherein educated, supposed financially independent professionals, work and reside. But sometimes, even I occasionally use the term "budget meals, tipid meals, PG" and other different kinds of demoralizing terms to describe the personal poverty I am experiencing. But yes, I am guilty of using these terms without actually considering that these are just paltry representations of what other unfortunate people have. The usual term na "Wala akong pera" "Naghihirap na ako, Tagtuyot" for me and the majority who have appropriate jobs are just results of...most of often than not lack of proper budgeting or lack to budget implementation as my mom would say. It's easy to see where one can draw a line here which end up just your social life / ego getting affected.

But this particular news made me reflect on my/family's standard of living when it comes to food. According to the survey 34% of Filipino Families consider themselves "poor" in terms of food. The survey also showed that 34% consider themselves "not poor" in terms of food, while 32% of Filipino families put themselves on the "food borderline" or "in between."

According to the SWS survey, "self rated poverty has been on a collective downward trend since June of 2006, reaching 37% in June 2007 before bouncing to 43% in September of 2007. The latest record was on December, which hit to 34%, the record low since June 2004. Amongst the three major islands, Mindanao's majority dragged the percentage followed by the Luzon Counterparts. Visayas had only minimal to no=change.

The survey was conducted by asking household heads to rate their families on the three categories (poor/not poor/in the middle) based on the type of food that they eat.

Despite the inflation, accessibility of resources, a declining poverty threshold, "despite the rising cost of living, means that households are lowering their standards, or they are tight-belting."

As Lelaina Pierce's mom, in the film Reality Bites said "Times are hard, sometimes you're just gonna have to swallow your pride." Pride...Pride chicken!?

It's quite difficult when the changes one has to make go beyond the normal adjustments of entertainment and other activities. It's already hard trying to put your weekend shopping money to rent, to rising bills, to food, but does one have to suffer lowering the standards of food in order to live? That is a sad sad thought and very unfortunate thing to happen to any person. It couldn't get any lower than that. It's an indication that you've somehow drained of strategies to avoid the inevitable, which is tight belting on the basic thing that nourishes people physically and psychologically.

I remember, being in love with grocery shopping, a place where I successfully developed my innate trait to be a nuisance to my mother, I've always been attentive to the food that my mom buys. I know my family's specification, and I know our brands. Hence we have a certain standard to uphold, a standard that is based on our chosen food for taste and comfort. But as I grew, and as time began to change, the amount of grocery items more or less did not change, but the end total amount of every trip to the cash register right now would make my mother faint if she was to see it 3-5 years ago.

She had to do a little sacrificing here and there, subtle sacrifices. She had to take out the imported twinkies. She had to take out pounds of bacon. She even tried to experiment switching from Purefoods to Argentina (Which was a totally big mistake, and immediately corrected). We had to adjust to changes as expenses are ballooning for different purposes like medicine, electricity, travel, addition to the family etc. Just like any company, we had an early concept of budgeting.

Naturally my mom is a thrifty person, hence she's the only one who can stick up to food budgeting; and any sale or discount she could find, she'll have to acquire in an instant. But standards make everything all so human. If you ask if certain standards are important, in some circumstance like food, security and health it is important. Standards also make us unique from anyone else, it's a matter of expression. It's a matter of preference, that's why choices are available to humans.

But how poor is poor when we cannot even keep our own standards with our food? A wealthy lifestyle can be easily identified and remedied, but how does one feel when standards in food are compromised? I think when standards of food are compromised, the basic sustenance and the only natural, acceptable luxury known to man, is lowered then it's just totally depressing. It is the lowering of standards at the lowest possible sphere. It is the moment when one has exhausted all possible efforts to uplift ones life that even compromising your basic comfort, which is food, is entertained. It's a sad thought, but a fact of life. Thinking of the things I would sacrifice, I have to admit, I got so many. I could even list a couple of things I would have to sell when I'm at the poverty point, but I just cannot bear the thought of lowering my standards to food. It would be, for me, the lowest of the low. And it would be like surrendering to the times of increased hardships and more suffocating tight-belting.

The past reminds us, through the lives of war and famine, that standards in food and basic needs were close to non-existent. Present promotes standards and challenges for people to uphold them. The future remains a mystery and a great hope in the shadows that no one should be able to loose the power to choose and submit the standards to the fangs of survival.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Calories in your face: In fast food menus

Fast Food junkies! Hear ye!

I just read an interesting article in googlenews today. It's also being talked about in Sanjay Gupta's blog. Amazingly, there is a place on earth, particularly in New York, wherein the City Board is now discussing the requirement of putting respective Calorie contents on Fast Food Menus.

Yes, you read that right. The Nutrition table that you just normally see at the back of the milk cartons, chip bags, jars of sauces and preserves, canned foods, bread etc., will all be included soon in the New Yorker's fast food menus.

How fun is that?!

It is pretty interesting to appreciate the effort if you think about it. Majority of people, sometimes me included, do not give a shit about what's written in the Nutrition Facts. Seriously! If I'm craving for something, a particular flavor of a chip, I would always result to...let's say PIATTOS. I do not give myself even more confusion and pondering moments to decipher and compare nutrition facts from one chip brand to another. Naturally speaking, that is not how humans kind of operate if they are buying food. We normally buy food because of the need, the taste and the price.

But since everything is more accessible, easily processed and made, we are somehow feeling the backlash of our buying or consuming methods. Diseases, obesity (Hear! Hear!), Gastro diseases, heart disease and such, are just results of eating without being conscious or knowledgeable about the HEALTH part. That is why countless of bloggers and nutritionists tend to put up internet sites that list the famous foods (Fast food, famous food brands in different categories) and their respective calories. People are now trying harder to get the message across.

The experts feel that the mere presence of nutrition facts in grocery items or food items is not enough for people to choose wisely. Health advocates have even used primetime talkshows to discuss on these matters. Time and again they are continuously targeting the supposed main culprits or sources of CALORIE overload, which are the FASTFOOD CHAINS.

Fast Food chains are the double faced geniuses and culprits of our century. Everyone has been to fast food chains. We have favorites. People are familiar with the menus. Changing times mean lesser times really, that's why fast food chains work. They offer yummy to goodness food, cheaper and faster. Those are the three main characteristics that are on at the top of our list. But behind those yummy bites of nuggets and burgers...we fail to consider the amount of calorie it consists. Who the freak cares right? I'm hungry. I want a burger, screw me if I don't know the calories!

Well according to research, an average amount of a good burger already consists of 600 calories...imagine BIG MAC. But who eats only a burger for lunch right? It has to have drinks and fries! It's a staple! And the meal sums up to as high as 1,300 calories, already 66% of daily caloric requirement you need. You already have enough energy to supply you for more than 12 hours. But for us, it's just lunch. As long as we don't feel full, we still have space for mid-afternoon snack.

Aside from the transparency of nutrition facts on grocery items. There are other constant efforts to educate people on how to be conscious about calories in food. They use primetime talkshows, blogs that concentrate on displaying caloric amount of famous food brands and fastfood meals and some are independent nutrition sites that provide medical explanations on the calories of food.

One time, I stumbled upon this very informative site, The site is dedicated to divulge calories of specific menus of popular fast food chains. The site is very organized and rather complete from McDonald's to Starbucks. That day, I was planning to get a Grande Caramel Macchiatto and found out that is has 320 calories, when I've already had a cheeseburger and fries at McDonald's which accounts for 600 calories. Wow, talk about remembering what my Math teacher used to say. You may not get it right now nor do you appreciate it, but Math is essential to our everyday lives. Yeah,and now I'm doing calorie mathematics in my head. I suggest you Do the math and probably get a hand of what's within the 2000 calorie limit when you crave for your next fast food combo.

It's crazy. I know. It has in a way influenced me that everytime I see food, I imagine the numbers...the calorie amount that goes with it. There's already a calorie angel in my head that keeps on buzzing. Sometimes it's annoying that "reason" over adhering plainly to "human satisfaction" outweighs everything. In the end, you find yourself poking a salad no matter how you deserve a hamburger.

My mother now, due to the plight of my rather obese brother, is already keen to looking at nutrition facts while doing her grocery shopping. Before, she only used to consume 1.5-2 hours getting everything done, comparing net weight over prices of various products, but now she finishes in 3 hours because she's already paying attention to those nutrition facts. It's insane. She told me about what she watched in some morning talkshows about how to properly read nutrition facts.

For example:

Example of a normal NUTRITION FACTS TABLE:
BRAND: CHIPS A. with a net weight of 60 grams

Total Energy/Calorie: 150 per 30 grams

Taking in consideration that you're leaning on purchasing Chips A. Since we are in a hurry or could care less of these nutrition facts, we sometimes depict Chips A to only have 150 calories, when in fact according to the label it's 150 calories per 30 grams. If you consume the whole bag...obviously you multiply 150 by two, since you consumed the whole 60 grams of chips.

It's crazy, right? I can't even believe I'm digesting all of this...a FOOD lover!

Now according to a recent news I've read, backed by Sanjay Gupta's blog, calorie amounts would already by required to be presented in fast food menu, at least in New York. But it's a step towards Global effort. I wouldn't be surprised that the next time you enter McDonald's, not only will you be bombarded by the price and endless choices, in the future you'll have calories to add up to your selection process.

HAMBURGER 35 Pesos / 290 Calories
CHEESEBURGER 42 Pesos / 340 Calories

But in general, I feel happy with the efforts. There is nothing wrong with presenting these facts to you, no matter how obsessive it may seem. It gives you an additional avenue to choose. It empowers people to make the right decisions. At least you'll know the reason why you're adding inches in every imaginable parts of your body.

It's up to the individual on how he/she would react to this. She could either be consumed by it like a psychologically demented supermodel who feeds on crackers and soup, or he or she could enjoy life through food's real glory, given the power of balance and control, which can be achieved by exposure to these sorts of information. It is a fact that as much as we enjoy food, we should be made accountable for every choices we make.

My bottomline here is that given the information and empowerment, our roles still do not change. At the end we are the still the consumers. At the end of that counter, it is our sole right to choose what we need and want. The information is just there to help us, to remind us. No one will condemn us if we get a Big Mac now an then as no one couldn't condemn us for the personal choices that we make. Just as long as we know how to stand by it, to make peace with it, and finally, be happy, empowered individuals as we make it.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hazard 101: Driving while Sleeping

It was a hellish morning for me and my brother.

Recently, our mornings are always in a crazy drill of chaos ever since my dad's driver, Mang Romy, fail to report to work for consecutive days. I thought we were saved when I saw Mang Romy this morning only to find out he's suffering from a kidney problem, which really is a dreadful thing for any person to experience. You can see it in his face, the pain and agony of not controlling the flow of your urine. We found out that he was suffering from that ailment for 7 years already. Gosh. It's just this morning that he decided to seek medical attention. It's a bummer. Health always seems to haunt everyone whose been trying to ignore it. It always goes back to you with vengeance. But this topic is not about health, it's about security...particularly me and my brother's security.

For three days now, JD and I have been gripping the edge of our car seats thanks to my father's rather crazy driving. Well, he stops when he doesn't need in a middle of a free flowing highway just because he thought he saw an imaginary hump. He steps on the brakes a little too late that every turn, every corner, every hump and intersection is always a scene of suspense for us, just like in any mystery movie when the villain gets closer to his prey..without the sound effects.

Aside from the his recent exhibition of unreliable driving skills, he always seems to forget something at home. His wallet, his glasses or.. his sanity perhaps for driving while sleeping?! Unbelievable. Only my great father could do that and make a joke out of it. Well thank god he's good at it...we're all still alive aren't we?

I literally catch him driving with his eyes closed. Forget about M. Night movies...this is far scarier. What he would do is to just dismiss it and scream a very incomprehensible phrase and make JD laugh, while I can't seem to grasp on the humor. Even though in his whole life he has proven to be a very resourceful and experienced driver, it all goes to memory when he starts to form a habit of driving while sleepy. It's like a voluntary enlisting to road accidents. It's not a funny thing when you realize that every 2.5 seconds of sleep while driving makes every moment subject to sheer luck.

It is a scary experience for the passengers as they fear for the driver itself and their safety. Driving while drowsy is a very hazardous practice. Actually, the ramifications of sleepy driving and drunk driving are pretty much the same. Some say they drive better when they're drunk and far worse while they're sleepy, well, observing my father for consecutive days already, sleeping with your eyes closed now and then, 2-3 seconds while stepping on the gas while crossing intersections, just beats every hazardous driving method there is.

According to

"Many popular methods to stay awake, such as drinking a caffeinated beverage, opening windows, turning on air conditioning, or blasting the radio. Studies have shown these to be ineffective, however. The only proven preventative measure is to pull off the road and take a nap lasting at least 20 minutes. This small break is enough to restore a driver's abilities. It’s best to nap, awaken more refreshed, and then continue on to a safe place to sleep longer."

Whether you are behind the wheel or a passenger, recognize the signs of drowsy driving:

* Heavy eyelids, frequent blinking, difficulty focusing vision
* Impaired concentration
* Missing exits or traffic signals
* Repeated yawning
* Drifting into other lanes or off the road
* Irritability or jumpiness

He dropped me off at the office and told me how much he was still still sleepy. He smiled sheepishly and knew he was playing with nature again. It was a cue to tell him how I felt by snapping. I snapped that he shouldn't drive when he's sleepy. It's damn dangerous. "Delikado ang ginagawa mo, Pa." with of course a hint of concern, without the mushiness.

I call all the saints, especially the saint who guides travelers to take care of my sometimes hardheaded and risk-loving father. He just wants to spend more time with his kids even though he's depriving himself of proper sleep. I pray to the saint to take care of Mang Romy so he could come work for us again and be healthy. And I pray for the saint of employment, for us to properly hire and find the right driver for my father ASAP.

Rocky's BDAY Bash

Rocky, Mitch's dog, friend and son rolled into one,' just had its 28th birthday last weekend.

And that led me to promise Rocky that I'd give him hotcakes for his birthday, initiate a simple hotcake party, and probably do a simple documentary in the life of Rocky "Babs" Bautista.

After skipping work on a Monday morning, I went to SM Bicutan, purchased a Maya Hotcake mix, and went home. Being a culinary moron as I am, some didn't come out right, but I had to improvise with whatever I could find like Harina and cinnamon. It was his birthday and he should only get the very best ones.

That afternoon after cooking, I happily went to his abode in Sampaguita Street; and I knew I should have braced myself before seeing the cuddly, passive, adorable Rocky, morph into a Crazed Hotcake Barking Machine. Rocky is LOCO for hotcakes. I never actually saw that side of him. It was pretty revealing.

What's so shocking? Well, I've seen him with a bone. It was a pretty normal dog enjoying a bone, but certainly not being LOCO over hotcakes. He just kept on jumping and anticipating for that every hotcake throw that only survived a milli-second in the air. He was amazing. He made my effort of cooking hotcakes priceless, and I hope he didn't notice that the hotcakes were a little bit pale due to excessive water content.

Anyways, it was short, but it was fun! It makes me want to make stacks of pancakes tuloy and just shove it in his happy big mouth. That would be a treat for both of us!

Happy quarter life birthday, Rocky! Cheers!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Monica Bellucci the Goddess

I had a great find where all great movie finds are found, in MCS of course.

I was able to get a copy of Monica Bellucci's DVD movie collection! Yey! Yey and YEY!

It brings me back to the day I first watched Malena, a very popular European movie about a woman, the mysterious Malena Scordia and the funny yet shockingly realistic sexual journey of an adolescent, Renato. But now, I can actually observe Monica Bellucci's beauty maturely and appreciate her goddess like qualities, trapped in a modern artist's form.

Hmm...I do sound like a raging oversexed perv, but indeed she is for me the SEXIEST, most Sensual woman on earth, not just an actress, but a woman. All the popular models, actresses with exquisite beauty and other personalities may just trail at her helm, but still she remains to be , for me, the epitome of how a woman should be.

For the benefit of those who do not know Monica Bellucci, let me just tickle your film nerves that she has the most stunning, NATURAL and killer curves that women long and can relate to. The proportions of the torso, of the limbs, of the waist are close to perfection. Angles are enough to capture each measurement's beauty. She has a body that is unpretentious, very goddess-like and very womanly. She may be the perfect inspiration of those European Renaissance paintings. Her body speaks of health. You would not dare brand her thin, nor fat. She has a beauty and body of ripe maturity and exquisite imitation of perfection.

Her bust, her behind, her neck, her color are all in great unison that everytime the camera captures her, you know the camera has become alive. You appreciate the best thing that a woman's body could represent.

Aside from the goddess like figure, how can you reconcile the most angelic and classic face? She may have a body of a goddess, body of a a mother and of a seductress, but that face could launch more than a thousand ships of Troy. Her eyes gently yet mysterious and engulfing. Her face makes you want to feel safe, nurtured and loved. It is a reconciliation of her body as a perfect temple, and a face of classic beauty and mystery.

As I was watching Beowulf yesterday (the Animated version one, released in 2007), I cannot help but think that she would've played the perfect part of Grendel's mother, the seductress and sensual being. The graphic artist could've saved more time altering the Character using Angelina Jolie, if they would've used Monica Bellucci. And the eyes, the acting ability and the ripeness of her glory would've made it seem easier, and come on! Angelina has to use the fake accent? Monica Bellucci is the Angelina before Angelina. But unlike all other actresses, like Angelina Jolie, who seem to be perfect in embracing seductress, bad-ass type of roles, Monica Bellucci could do both. She could be the timid, mysterious one like in Malena. She could be the beautiful and sophisticated muse like in Matrix. She could be seductive and sinful as in Bram Stoker's Dracula or Brother's Grimm, but at the same time could be damn saintly playing mother Mary or Magdalene. The film industry could never go wrong.

But before we get carried away with her innate beauty, she is an actress after all and she has proven herself equipped, matured and very efficient in playing out her characters. She is fluent in English and has starred in various French and Italian films, now that is a core versatility. She has played a heroine, a supporting cast, a lead which showcases her flexible and artistic abilities.

For those who do not know Monica Bellucci, I pray you find time to study her and her works. She could drive men insane, that is understood. She could drive women to envy and desire, that is not very surprising. She could be a lot of things to different people. But she is for me a WOMAN, a woman of the most sensual, artistic, beautiful characteristics ever created by nature to attempt at perfection.

* After Malena, I would start observing more of her films and give feedbacks. For those who would like to be spoon fed, she appears in Brotherhood of the Wolf (French Film), Malena (Italian), Shoot em up with Clive Owen, Bram Stoker's Dracula and...god...this is giving away already, Persephone (Matrix Reloaded).

Basic Information about Monica Bellucci from Wiki:

Monica Ana Maria Bellucci

She was born in Umbria Italy on Sept. 30, 1964 which makes her 43 now, turning 44
She was a law student at University of Perugria, modeling financed her education.
She is fluent in French, Italian, English and Semi-Fluent in Spanish. She also learned Aramaic (Passion of the Christ)

She is married to fellow actor Vincent Cassel (French) and has a daughter named Deva, born on Sept. 12, 2004.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good News Saturday

It was not any typical Saturday.

As planned, Mitch and I were supposed to go DVD hunting at MCS and explore this Japense Hamburger restaurant at Mile long, but we knew it all had to depend on our respective, coining the term, "medical mission" in Makati Med.

Mitch went to Makati Medical center for an endoscopy as early as 6 in the morning, accompanied by his mom and brother, Antawn. On the other hand, I woke up at 9 in the morning, eager to get my medical appointment done, only to find out that the ever reliable Honda City, that's been remodeled so many times due to the driver's reckless road accidents, was nowhere to be found. It was brought to CASA for a general check-up.
Hence I'm left with my specifically Kaye-Cursed car Mazda Tribute as my only transportation. This is the first time I've driven it since that Dec. 23 incident with a villager.

Setting the ill feeing aside, I drove the car to Makati and reached Makati Medical center at 10:30 where I saw Tita and Antawn. It looked like they've been waiting forever for Mitch to finish. As we chatted, we cannot help but feel poor for those who have had their endoscopy. Patients who have just finished the procedure, groggy and drugged as hell, are made to sleep in their medical beds outside the corridor for all visitors and passers by to see. That violates the primary concept of privacy. Tita was also disheartened as she plans to write a letter to the Makati Med directors to have a specialized Recovery room for patients, and not just leave them at the corridors for the whole wing to see. YAY for that, when we glimpsed at Mitch whose hair was fluffy and eyes were literally drugged. It was amusing to see him like that though. He never drinks and never have I seen him drunk or drugged, so at least I get the impression of what he'll look like when it happens. I find it really cute though, helpless, sleepy eyed, pouting Mitch.

As we waited for him to recover from his deep drugged slumber, Antawn and I decided to buy some food and KREMIL-S to ease his stomach nuisance. Apparently he had too much coffee for that day. After buying some gigantic overpriced siomai and overpriced jamaican patty at Floating island restaurant, we went to the pharmacy and fell in line for his precious Kremil-S. I kept joking that he wasn't supposed to fall in line in the 'serious' line where people are buying 'serious' medications. Unforunately Kremil-S was out of stock. It was comedic, but good thing Simeco was there on the rescue.

We finished our errand at the pharmacy when we saw Mitch and Tita arrive at the ground floor. Mitch was exceptionally grumpy and drugged when we saw him, but hungry nevertheless. They decided to go to KFC in People Support building as I decided to get my 'scary-do-or-die' lab results at my HMO building.

You see, I've been nursing the paranoia that I might have the dreadful hypothyroid problem. I've been constantly susceptible to colds, allergies and low voice, but it's not as if I didn't have it when I was kid, but it all mixed up with paranoia and wikipedia knowledge, that prompted me to take a lab test. It also doesn't help that Diabetes has constantly plagued our clan.

I went to the clinic preparing for the worst.

I waited for more than 30 minutes thinking of the possible things that could happen. I know I'm getting fatter every second, but it would be hopeless if I were hypothyroid, now would it? Or I might be paranoid every time I get a scratch or a wound because I have not been able to test if I was diabetic. Now all my theories and all the sickly things that go on in my mind will be put to rest.

The doctor called me in after that reflective wait and told me....I HAD GOOD LAB RESULTS. There was nothing to explain, really. She said I have excellent glucose stat. I had 80, which is by far healthy :) And my blood chemistry does not depict that I'm suffering from any thyroid issues. I am still good at the health department at least. After being relatively depressed the day before, I saw that there is still a reason to celebrate.

I went back to Makati Med to meet Mitch and his family. I told them the happy news. In short, I was just paranoid needing for a quick psychiatric evaluation. After Mitch's consultation, we also received good news that he is on his road to recovery.

After spending half day in the hospital, we were all blessed with happy results. Mitch and I went bade goodbye to Antawn and his mom and continued our afternoon date.

We went to MCS for a DVD hunt. I bought movies, a mixture of cartoon ones, and the Monica Belluci collection. I also bought Juno, a movie that was a hit in the States. And Mitch and I decided to buy a Ben Stiller comedy, A Heartbreak kid for our dvd date.

After MCS, we decided to go to Landmark to do some grocery shopping for the movie night and for Mitch to buy his medicine.

After a pretty euphoric afternoon, it just keeps getting better and better as I walked through the aisles of the grocery. I love groceries. It has a positive effect on me. I got hungarian sausages, mustard and bread, but I felt like I hit a dope.

I met Mitch after an hour and went home. We reached sun valley at around 5 in the afternoon and proclaimed the good health results to my parents. I went to our under-construction, soon to be new home, and saw my father there discussing something with the architect. I went to my room looking bare with lots of promises and saw our massive bathroom for the first time. It was a classic white with black accent that depicts simplicity and extremity. It was funny because when i went inside and saw the tiles of our bathroom, one wouldn't have guessed that it would belong to ladies, but then again, my sister and I are not your typical dainty ladies.

I went down as the sun begins to hide and started preparing for my movie date with Mitch.

It wasn't an ordinary Saturday full of good news.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

I kind of like Dixie Chicks. Laugh all you want, but at least I know why i love them.
They have a spunk of a lady, not necessarily that of emanates pop version, but of country...but their songs speak of the heart and the angst of being a woman, and not just the glamor side of it.
Well, apparently I'm not in any mood to exert too much analysis as I might break down...

Nursing a broken heart and struggling spirit, this song is of the moment.
I need to get out. I have to leave everything behind. I know I've grown out of the same places and same faces.

It's sad to think that I don't belong here anymore....

"Wide Open Spaces"

Who doesn't know what I'm talking about
Who's never left home, who's never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl's dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won't be coming back with the rest
If these are life's lessons, she'll take this test

[Repeat Chorus]
She knows the high stakes

As her folks drive away, her dad yells, "Check the oil!"
Mom stares out the window and says, "I'm leaving my girl"
She said, "It didn't seem like that long ago"
When she stood there and let her own folks know

[Repeat Chorus]
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Good morning, BAGEL and MILK!

I was having dinner in Mitch's house the other day and his mom asked me of what my family usually makes for breakfast. I know this might sound weird, but I didn't know what to answer her. Sheepishly, I said. "Nothing. We're really not breakfast people, there's no breakfast or anything of that sort. What usually happens is they would just buy hot pandesal, put it on the table, and it's like every man for himself. Some, not me, request boiled eggs, coffee or sometimes, but it's one of those out-of-the blue moments."

She smiled and told me that breakfast is something MAJOR in their household. She sometimes find it equally odd that breakfast more of like resembles a big lunch to them. And I thought, why the hell didn't I grow up getting used to having a conventional breakfast? But then again I remember, my family, a kind of quirky and positively dysfunctional folks and children, well I didn't search for anymore explanations and just let it be.

All my life from Pre-school to grade school to high school to college, for the life of me...I never grew up having 'breakfast'. In our household, breakfast is a meal that happens when we have relatives or guests staying over. But when the house is devoid of any guests, it is also devoid of breakfast.

I'm not sure why, but we're really not a fan of it. My mom never did have any breakfast before and after she worked. My sister and I didn't even look for breakfast ever since we were kids, although we are forced to drink SUSTAGEN in the bathroom just before we take a shower. It's really not counted because sometimes out of sheer rush, we don't actually drink it. Sustagen was like a reminder of "Here's your attempt for morning energy, breakfast all-in-one."

But then again, there's recess right? Every kid appreciates recess, but several skip breakfast at home. It's still different. That's why whenever I go visiting or having slumber parties at some of my friends' house, I get an overwhelming bloated and off balanced feeling because of what they usually have, heavy breakfast. And it's a shame to decline, right?

It was just a couple of years ago when I read through health and wellness magazines that skipping breakfast is not very advisable. Some in fact regard Breakfast as the MOST important meal of the day. Studies have shown that CHILDREN who eat breakfast do better in school, and children who DO NOT EAT BREAKFAST are tired and moody in the morning, and worse, it is one of the major factors of weight gain. Since the body runs low in energy in the morning, we tend to eat more during lunch and mid-day snacks, in result metabolism declines.

Okay, I get it. I am not really a morning person, by nature, I think breakfast has something to do with it. I'm generally a moody person,I think breakfast contributed to it. And I'm not sporting an ideal weight....yet, so maybe breakfast really has something to do with it.

And after years and years of skipping breakfast, a ghost meal, I suddenly found myself for the past year having a simple conventional breakfast. I've been constantly looking for scrambled eggs and ham on weekends. My lifestyle changed wherein I couldn't afford to do activities in the morning and wait for lunch. My stomach's not used to the empty morning feeling anymore. By 9 am, I usually look for something to munch.

And I just realized since the start of the year 2008, I've been having a usual set of breakfast I couldn't get tired of. I usually get dropped at the office at 7:30 am. I wake up at 6, leave the house at 7, but I always tell the driver to have a quick stop at some convenient store near my office. What I usually buy there is the cute Nestle Repackaged milk that costs 39 pesos (a skyrocketing increase of 10 pesos more than the usual grocery stores). I sometimes buy crackers or fruit cups, which are convenient. After the stop at the convenient store, I get dropped off at our office, and I pass by Starbucks and buy the deliciously made multi-grain bagel, or banana loaf, or multi-grain croissant for breakfast. If you have read one of my previous blogs about marketing, I have already established a profile and relationship with starbucks baristas for my morning attendance. Sometimes, I would go on a luxury buy and get some coffee or frapp, like right now I am proud to say that for 4 days straight I've been getting either croissant or bagel with jam and unsalted butter for breakfast.

Bottomline is that my system now longs for breakfast, whether it may be bagel, mcdonald's, quick stop at some convenient store, or Starbucks or Coffee Bean Stops. Of course, there are some situations whereintime doesn't give me any grace period for breakfasts, but compared to before, this has become rare.

I'm now 90% a breakfast person, I'm surprised at the change, but loving it. There's nothing bad about it actually, and when you come to think about it, I have less reason to indulge in lunch and in between meal snacks. So I hope this would be one of my very first good change for 2008.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

PHILS: Population on the Rise

Attention people, our country is definitely leading.

You read that right. We are be the most populous nation in South East Asia that is.

I was on my way to my 'supposed' work as I heard this news on the radio. According to the announcers, Philippines has again clenched first place for being the most populous country in Asia, and it's funny to think that we, of all countries, do not practice polygamy.

I know it's old news. We're tired of hearing it. We are daily witnesses to it, just try to walk at the metro, or if you want a great big slap in face, try walking in impoverished areas and you'll go home wondering the ingenuity and creativeness of Filipinos in creating homes for themselves. Not only do you get impressed and amused on how they choose their specific territory, whether it may be on absurd public places, but you will also see their ability to adapt and live a normal life, minus of course a functioning toilet, a healthy and clean environment and a concept of privacy.

The population problem in the Philippines ballooned over the years and I still remember us discussing it in College. It's one of the main attributes that anchor our development as a nation and instead of just getting used to it and coping with it, it seems it has taken a toll for the worst.

Let me state to you the most recent facts of this very "OLD" national development issue.

According to a leading news source, The Manila Times reported that "The Population will be increasing at the rate of 200 babies for every hour this year," the NSCB said last monday.

At present, the Population of the Filipinos according to the news source is around 84 million. According to Wikipedia, it's around 85 Million. 1 million difference, not that impressive.

This makes the population growth rate close to 2%, which is about 1.75%.To give you general statistics, Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country. Manila, our capital, is the 11th most populous metropolitan area in the world. (Wiki)

It would be nicer to think if we were living in another world that this is a high achievement. But in the real world, unfortunately it's one of the worst categories to lead in. More people, demands many resources, and not the other way around. The rise in population tends to go geometrically, while the demand for increase in resources tends to go arithmetically. It also doesn't help that the population distribution in this nation is whacked.

Even if we are exposed and educated globally; and career-oriented individuals who are rearing a rather sustainable life in the metro are not exposed to massive rise in population, how come we cannot seem to downsize the ballooning rate? Is it because of our religion all in all? We are predominantly catholics, we're not even condoning polygamy like other Muslim nations do, but what's the problem with that?

Ah, contraceptives right? We are modern, yet we're still traditional in so many ways. The struggling modernity and supposed 'liberalism' of this nation do not reconcile with our selective traditional attributes.

According to Virola, an NSCB board sec. general, cites that 1. Reliance on guidance from Catholic church on such methods is one of the top three reasons of this trend. Second would be that the poor, usually uneducated strata, has lack of access to modern-family planning methods. Lastly, their justification of increase in birth rates is that more children to do household chores or help in economic activities of the family. More children means more chances to pull the family out from the slums right?

According to Manlia Times, Virola said, poor families are larger than non poor families by more than one number. Specifically, 21 out of every 100 poor families had at least 7 members in 2003. Members of poor families are likely to reach college.

It's sad to think that our thinking methodology is skewed. No matter how noble and religious our intentions are, I don't think anyone would intend us to make our situation worse by relying on pure assumptions, misconceptions and dependability on a supreme being to sort out our problems. It doesn't work that way. Believing in God is one thing, while depending on God to fix up the mess we do is another. We are not exercising our right to be human at all if we just depend on him and take religion as a scape goat to our rising problems. As adults we do not have any right to compromise the future of children. It is not what God wants at all, I'm sure.

People make mistakes. People are are only humans therefore people should take the most necessary precautions to not get muddled in compromising situations. As much as I'd condoned abstinence, it's not a foolproof method. In this age, there is a need for proper contraceptives at times when the will of man grows weak. There is always comfort in the knowledge that there's always a way for retribution. I am pro-choice, as long as for every given choice, is backed up by information.

And what about the idea of quantity versus quality. It's obvious that we are suffering from this dilemma. Majority projects that quantity is always better, more sticking to the odds, when old lessons tell us that quality is above quantity. It is very absurd, and I find it ridiculous actually, that some people feel that the more they have children, the more chances they'd win a ticket out of poverty. These are all based on assumptions, as the parents obvious depend it on fate. If a couple cannot manage to rear children, provide their nutritional needs, give them opportunities to access education, therefore I think there is no point in making the wheel go round. It's a vicious cycle that they need to stop. The quality of children you produce by giving them the best of education, basic needs and opportunities, are key to a better life,it could never be quantity.

That is why there are always projects for education, to inform people about what sex is all about beyond the pleasure. There are also projects for livelihood, not to only accommodate the majority, but to present a core cure. It gives options to women and men to do something worthwhile, than just dreaming their ambitions away and wait for the partners to go home and have sex.

It's sad to think that our neighboring countries have already seen the loophole of population generation. Some say "the more the merrier," in this case, I beg to disagree.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Marketing Developments in the eyes of a shrewd

Monday is really not a favorite day of mine.

I easily get cranky. I'm thrown in a heap of miscalculated balance. My outlook is too anxious to end the long week as I'm nursing a bloated feeling from the weekend culinary fiasco.

As I got out of the car this monday, with my hair still dripping, the crankiness sets in because I realized that I left my band (tali) at home. There are two things that particularly set my day on a very...very....cranky note.

1. If I'm "watchless"
2. I don't have my 'tali' with me.

And It doesn't help that it's Monday and condition number 2 strikes.

I grudgingly got my heavy butt to the lobby and opted to catch the elevator shamelessly, when I am just one floor away from the office. I knew I needed that exercise, but I'm cranky. It seems to be a perfect excuse for everything.

I needed a comfort boost to start a very dragging and unpromising day. And I already know where I would get it from. Good Coffee.

To justify myself further, I don't usually allow myself to buy expensive coffee from Coffee Bean or less in Starbucks because I see it as a luxury and a treat, but this is one of those times that it is an exception. I am cranky.

I went down the lobby and contemplated if I would walk a few buildings away to my favorite Coffee Bean or just settle for Starbucks for now. It was an obvious choice. Since I'm cranky and needing of immediate caffeine boost, my thighs directed me to Starbucks.

As I entered the expat-driven coffee hub, I suddenly felt the crankiness go against me. Here they are looking ravishingly unaffected with the silliness of the world, enjoying their breakfast and coffee while discussing or reading some newspapers. Whereas I, in such a disheveled look, entered with a messy untied hair, my face picturing a frown and my attitude getting the best of me.

I went in line and savored the visuals of their pastry offerings. A man in white shirt approached my area and tried to re-establish my customer-loyalty role in Starbucks. He is a familiar face to me, as I am to him because usually I get my drink at Starbucks in the mornings or late in the afternoons, which denote that I am not technically a loyal customer of Starbucks. It's just that they have the location advantage and I am the type of customer who relatively hates walking on an uneasy work mornings.

He greeted me "Good morning, kamusta po kayo?"

I felt that he was intruding. Of course it's a silly reaction. But I am a silly and highly introverted person. What am I supposed to say? Aside from the fact that these small talks unnerve me, I really don't find it comfortable talking to a stranger. Well, he is no stranger after all. He is a legitimate, worthy citizen who works at Starbucks and who seems to master its regular customers, me included. This gives him gives him the proper ground to offer comfort and ask me unusual questions like "how I was."

But seriously, what am I supposed to say? "Okay lang?" Eeew...that would probably be the vaguest answer in the book. We say "okay lang" for almost everything. There is not a measure, it's just mediocre reply, or worse, one hasn't decided yet of a particular answer that's why "okay lang" proved to be safer. But I hate saying "okay lang" that would be dishonesty to myself and to him. But really now? Does he really care or does it really matter?

Sorry to be a pessimist, maybe it's just that I'm noticeably cranky, but I remembered I was telling Tim about the new "Customer Spiel" that's being instilled in some companies. One of which is Starbucks. Before they were just concerned in giving you the perfect coffee experience by being efficient and friendly in taking your orders. They have established themselves to be the pioneers and best in the business. 3 starbucks could exist in one long avenue. They mushroom anywhere where there's people regardless of the distance of one Starbucks to another. But now, aside from seeking orders with their American Accent and passable friendly and genuine smiles, they have started to ask how people are feeling. There is an element of reaching out to people beyond the business of just taking your orders. I experienced it first in Starbucks glorietta, near Landmark, just beside David's while I was waiting for a friend. They asked me if I was okay. "Kamusta po kayo?" "Okay naman po ba ang araw nyo?" And I was like...."Yeah???" They put me right on the spot...and I was literally off balanced. I'd rather go on interviews than having an ambush check-up out of nowhere.

Second would be on a Shell gas station near our village. These hardworking gas boys while filling up your tank would ask a lot of things that a motorist should be concerned about. They're like human talking POST-ITs. Sometimes it could be a little bit annoying or a little bit amusing. It really depends on the motorist's mood.

I remembered once, Mitch and I were having his car fueled up at Shell. And the gas boy apparently has practiced his spiel. Mitch was amused. I gave them credit for trying to reach out and pulling out the dragging reminders. If you think about it, they are disadvantaged. They could never know if the motorist is by nature an asshole or just having a bad day. My dad once, out of sheer annoyance and bad mood, shouted at the poor gas boy for being too nosy or "makulit." My dad just wanted to get gas after all.

"Good morning po, sir. Welcome to shell." the gas boy cheerfully greeted.
"1000, unleaded." the driver said.
My father uneasily shifted his seat as he was already feeling nauseous and late for his meeting.
The gas boy diligently fuels the car. My father passed his credit card to the driver and murmured to make it fast.While his card was being processed the gas boy stands in front of the driver's window to ask if they would want other services being offered. "Sir, window cleaning sir, para maging malinaw ang pagmamaneho, sir."
"Hindi na." my father immediately replied.
"Yung oil po natin sir baka gusto po ninyong--"
"Yung gulong po sir, pwede po nating i-check sa--"
"Hindi na. Okay na. Asan na yung card?!" my father annoyingly replied.

The gas boy, as if hearing nothing, returned to the car with the card and receipt.
"Thank you po sir, ingat po sa daan." with a faint wave.

I know it was irrational of my father. I was pretty amazed of their continuous efforts to reach out on a quite personal level. It's obvious that they are just doing their job. I'm sure their HR had trained them on this new method of engaging with customers. Essentially, come on, they don't really care what you do with your life, but it's how they say that "Hey, we are going an extra mile to care for you...yes you, dear customer of ours.It's our business to care for your wellbeing." Shell is a perfect example of this. They remind you relentlessly of road safety measures.

In Starbucks for example, they have changed their marketing strategy. According to, Starbucks is undergoing a marketing revamp, not only to introduce their company and coffee, but to improve customer loyalty. They constantly ride on the trends and people's need for simple conveniences. That's why they've embarked on improving their branches in putting up wi-fi and cell phone charging hubs. They'd also want Starbucks to be the banner of improving the sense of community, that is why they constantly ask how people are on a personal note. They memorize and treasure usual customers and develop a homey relationship with them. It's startling at first, but when you come to think about it, it is a new and very admirable strategy.

People like me should get used to stuff like these. There's nothing quite wrong with it, I'm sure. In fact it's quite amusing to hear people ask about your day, even though you're really not sure if they actually care. They offer to be the front line release-busters and non-degree counselors. They want you to open up and remember the store not just a store...but a caring establishment that wants you to be a part of their community. I wondered if the next time they'd ask me how I was I could attempt to answer honestly no matter how unfortunate I may be.

SCENE 1: (All the questions asked by Barista are personally experienced by me...I'd just alter my answers to theorize on the what if's.."

7 PM, Starbucks office building, while waiting for your ride home.
The ride is 2 hours late. I'm supposedly snappy and decided to buy a Vanilla Frap.

Barista: Good evening, ma'am...(reading the office ID)Kaye. Pauwi na po ba kayo?
Kaye: (SUPER CRANKY MOOD...about to burst) Pauwi is an understatement. I am supposed to be at home right now. I have to eat my dinner. I have to work out and I'm dying to play SIMS. This is a perfect example of wasting your time. Pano ba naman kasi, I asked them if they could pick me up, they said yes. Kung alam ko lang na hindi sana nag commute nako!"
Barista: (Totally fazed..HAHAHA!) Maybe you might want to try our drinks first while waiting. You could read magazines para di po kayo mainip.
Kaye: Ano pa nga ba ang gagawin ko? One Grande Vanilla Frappucino with whipped cream.
Barista: (Anxious) One vanilla frappuccino grande for Kaye please. Thank you ma'am.

That was weird....or how about....

SCENE 2: A blotchy woman, teary eyed and depressed, falls in line in front of the counter.

Barista: Good morning, po ma'am. Kamusta naman po ba kayo today?
Woman: Okay lang. (Faintly and teary eyed)
Barista: OKay lang po ba kayo?
Woman: Do I look like okay? (Crying and being hysterical)
I just found out my husband is cheating, okay? our business went bankrupt! I'm still working on a business lawsuit! My dog just died yesterday and my car just got towed! I want to die!" wailing

That would be funny.

But in short, I admire the new marketing strategies of these companies. They're seeing the market in a different light. Customers see them exerting more effort than doing a mere business transaction. What they're forming here is a relationship.

IN Western countries like in the US, locals are pretty much friends with the bar owners, bar tenders and waiters of a diner in town. If people want to look for someone in town, all they'd have to do is ask these people, and they're likely guided. Doing spiels like this is a small step to a bigger cause. Not only do they want to increase and anchor their customers' loyalty, but they're also trying to build a sense of community.

The next time that I'd be exposed to their efforts, I'd know better and do my share.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pandemic Talks

The movie I am Legend is not everyone's movie. Aside from the fact that it displays world class computer graphics, exhibitions of Will Smith's impressive acting prowess, a simple storyline and fluid storytelling, the movie's subject may stir so many reactions and reflections.

I will not tell and spoil the movie here just like what I did with Hitman. All I'm going to say is that the movie talks about a certain pandemic attack, and the holistic effects on the remaining human survivors. It puts humanity back to basics. It puts a person's psychological and physical capabilities to the test. The world is shown in the eyes of the survivors. And it doesn't help that the infected acquire vampire-like qualities and the survivors as main source of food.

I am Legend is reminiscent of movies like 28 days and 28 Weeks later. These three films similarly talk about survivors of a very chilling pandemic. In 28 days and 28 weeks, the pandemic comes from a virus unknown to man, specifically from the Raging qualities of an ape or was it a chimp? Hence the virus is called the RAGE virus when people develop a penchant for killing brutally all the uninfected. It's like people are driven mad to kill, with the effects of blood gushing from their eyes and mouth. For I am Legend, the virus is called the K Virus when the infected develop vampire-like qualities and which human psychology, behavior and physiological attributes are totally wiped out.

Movies like these tweak people's minds. It tests the possibility, and unlike the movie ENCHANTED, movies like I am Legend and 28 Days Later, have a better grip on the possible and frightening reality. Audience of pandemic concentrated movies cannot help but put themselves in the character's shoes. It causes a shudder here and there and the possibility of it happening is entertained yet violently pushed aside...or is it?

When I got home from watching the movie, I was put into a research mode savvy to learn more about what PANDEMIC is all about. I browsed at my reliable information source, wikipedia, and found Pandemic to be a form of epidemic that spreads through human population across a large region.

According to World Health Organization, there are three conditions that should be met before ruling it out as pandemic.

1. The emergence of a disease is new to the population
- It just means that no proven cure is made available or accessible
2. The agent infects humans, causing serious illness
- Humans are susceptible victims and the effects of the illness is grave or fatal to oneself or others.
3. The agent spreads easily and sustainably among humans.
- The speed is faster and consistent than anyone thinks.

Pandemics are by far worse than any man-made military war. It strikes so fast and it's not selective. Unlike war, the opponent is identified. The cure is to diminish political egos and collective and sensible revolution. With Pandemics, the virus is often like a ghost. It's not known and cannot be easily identified nor killed as it continuously spreads to anyone from children, to women to men. It's unmerciful unless the cure is identified.

This world has suffered numerous forms of epidemics, but thankfully not pandemics. MOst recently we had the H5N1, which is simply known as the Avian Influenza. In 2005, World Health immediately announced to the public to prepare of a pandemic flu that could strike as much as 20% of the world's population. Looking back on ancient times, they had tuberculosis, typhoid fever and typus. Bottom line of these pandemics are that each pandemic is new the first time it strikes. A pandemic can never be an old recurring disease. A pandemic is like a thief, it strikes at the back, cripples a defenseless man and kills whoever witnesses it.

Pandemics usually are lowered to the epidemic degree since humans are lucky enough to control the situation. At this point, we should still consider ourselves very lucky.

It made me contemplate on man's wheel of fortune. We are constantly trying to challenge science. We are slaves of scientific pursuits and evolution in a hope to cure recurring diseases like cancer or AIDS. But does science have a limit? Does it always tend to work for us? Think of it this way, Without any disease, there wouldn't be any reason to pursue in developing a certain cure. It just goes to show that no matter how ingenious and brilliant we have come in the field of science, we are still at the mercy of nature.

Nature can easily destroy us, drive us to insanity and pieces before actually finding a particular cure. It saddens me to think that pandemics are actually possible. It's real and we can never foresee it. Therefore it humbles us.

These types of movies do not only tell the possible hardships of any survivor. It reminds us to be thankful and treasure life. It reminds us not to be boastful with science because Nature can just easily turn it against us and douse our egotistical nature with a deadly touch of regret. And no matter what we do and ignore the fact that this bogus idea is absurd, remember that that is the main element of what a pandemic is all about. It's Bogus. It's Unknown till it strikes and often than not, it's Fatal.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Movie night with Mitch

It is a bed weather today. I don't think the sun actually showed up. The rain is almost continuous just varying in intensity. I was supposed to have my intensive "workout" but i ended up sleeping till 4 pm. Good thing i woke up and arranged this pending movie date with Mitch.

After great will power to give up the cold embrace of the sheets, i drove the car and went to Mitch's place and head to our first 2008 movie date, I am Legend.

According to the sources i've read last Christmas, the movie was a blockbuster hit in the u.s. The story is again one of those that displays the tests of human capacity to survive in a certain pandemic...not only a serious pandemic, but a pandemic that causes people to acquire vampire-like qualities. There will be no spoilers here, so you can just breathe.

I have to admit that i expect it worth of every cent i paid for. Movie fees now are skyrocketing like oil prices. A movie costs 3-4 good quality pirated DVDs (Shame on you!)

After parking the car, we immediately bought the tickets which cost us 170 pesos each...that's because it's THX. Non THX cinema tickets cost 150 pesos, people. Can you just imagine how much a movie ticket will cost in 3-5 years time? No wonder movie goers are that selective and chose to rely on dvds as alternatives, which is bad and hurting the movie industry of course.

After having dinner at Bubba Gump, we directed ourselves for a warm coffee treat at our favorite Coffee Bean and Tea leaf, where I am now currently writing this through the convenience of my Nokia E61. The wonders of technology, you say...i still have to find ways to maximize and digest everything.

So many things to say, yet so little time. We are on our way to the cinema as wi fi goes out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My sister's Motorola Handset has inevitably reached its lifetime. Aside from the actual adhesive tape that is holding the battery in place, I think it's time to declare it as 'technically resting in peace.' It was in that obvious state to give it a rest and give medals and gratification for its more than a year of use. Now is the perfect time to look for a more durable and relatively usable phone for her, without sacrificing the funky factor of course.

This country has established itself to be a favorable market for the mobile industry. With almost more than 85 million population, close to 40 million already have cellular phone. It's been a form necessity of communication that it goes even beyond the actual usage, but it goes with the actual normal human operations. Gone were the days of meeting through word of honor. People sometimes or most often than not panic when they don't have their cellular phones with them. It's like they've become and instant invalid. People change cellphones sometimes in a month's time. That is why mobile companies like Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and now Apple have decided to target not only the Philippines, but the world. Now with all of the Apple products Hype up, which overwhelmed the whole market for their steady profitable increase especially during the Black Market season, it was damned obvious that people are excited to get their hands on the Apple's latest and most daring edition to the gadget product family, which is the IPHONE.

Now that Apple established its mark through the rising sales of IPODs and MACs, it's no wonder that they have decided to enter into a very lucrative market of Mobile Phones.

It was a pretty good strategy to begin with. When I hear of Apple it immediately projects the world of the Elite. Apple products, started by the IPODS, are funky, updated, simple, chic and very fashionable. People instantly loved it. It's like offering function like no other, packaged in a highly "ergonometric" state. Soon Macs have infiltrated the gadgeteers, and those who are far from being one. I remembered a person once who bought a Mac for the sake of the TREND and the status that says "I'm cool! I have a MAC!" It was amusing at it was annoying at the same time. You come to realize how Apple has slowly positioned itself. It has shook its hardware and OS competitors to double check their market stands, and now shaking up its Mobile Makers once-stable positioning.

Singling it on my sister though, it was not much of a shock to me when she was given an IPHONE. Relating it to me however, probably I'm one of the few who are not that tech-savvy. Which means I don't change phones every time a new batch appears. I don't change phones just to let people know I'm updated and savvy. I am quite a very loyal and practical buyer with technology consumer stuff just as long as it delivers its primary, promised important features of what a mobile phone should be, and some.

Here are things that I consider on choosing a particular phone, granted that the most justified reason to get one is present: note that it you may depict me as a Tech-simpleton:

1. KEYPADS - Yep, KEYPADS are at the top of my list. You see, I'm a big girl and I have relatively long and heavy set of fingers, but I generally type like a speeding bullet. Fast, yet strong. So I need a very durable, appropriately shaped keypads that doesn't hurt any pressure points in any of my fingers. I don't like the ballooned keypad 5110's and the like. It's much too elevated and ballooned that continuous texting ignites pain in some parts of my thumb. I also do not like the the small, congested keypad spaces found in small LG or Samsung units. Actually before actually considering a phone, I first have to feel the keypads. Usually the keypads I love are in those FLIP phones. They are flat with appropriate spaces and with the appropriate size to accommodate my fingers. I like my fingers to have a feel with every keypad edges and glide.

2. TEXT and CALL Features - The primary reasons for having cellular phones, right? They should have the basic, call forwarding, group call-text, dictionary etc. The text graphics and call graphics also matter.

3. ORGANIZER - It should have a good notes section / calendar features and calculator features. And the OS of the computer should be able to be flexible enough for the user to customize what they see in their main menu, just like what E61 does, it adds personality. If you like your contacts to be on the immediate menu, or games or whatever thingamajic program you have.

4. CONNECTIVITY - for the net. Wifi stuff is present to be accesible on the net. The triband-quadband are also present.

5. DESIGN - I really couldn't care much of the design as long as it it meets the top 4 critieria, because this design or brand is accommodated by its price.

I have to say the Apple IPHONE generated some mixed emotions and reviews.

Aside from it's a touch screen type of phone, the keypads are non-existent. I tried texting and it proved to be a mere inconvenience. One really has to look and make sure you're not mispelling any words. It's like texting in the dark, but imagine it without the basic feel of keypads to direct your spatial estimates. And another thing with texting, whenever you press any letter it has a graphic that makes it look bigger. It's a major distraction, not to mention the pesky dictionary feature that you have to repeatedly turn off.

Although the graphics and the design are sophisticated, funky and impressive, i couldn't really sacrifice the texting part. It has an MP3 player, a total ipod storage package. The camera captures great pictures by the way. But all of that combined, I just felt that the IPHONE is not for me. IT would not be for everybody, I presume, but my sister's doing quite well with it. She's loving every IPHONE moment, or maybe it's just a matter of getting used to.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hambugers and Archie Comics

I was craving for a specific hamburger hours ago. I realized this when I've nothing else to observe but the rumblings of my stomach, as I wait for my turn to be attended to at the bank. I coined the term specific because it's not just any other patty in the bun, but a plain McDonald's Hamburger. It's been so long since McDonald's, here in this country at least, have subtly eliminated their plain hamburger on the menu. It's not included in any other value meals that, I and majority of the public, have been accustomed to.

What is this specific fixation with the PLAIN McDonald's Hamburger? There is a reason why it was taken out by the McDonald Management in the first place. I don't know what that reason might be. It might be because it tastes raw and plain. You see, Filipinos have accustomed to incorporate so many other added flavorings in their meal like catsup, toyo, suka. Well, i don't. The taste of that raw and untainted meat is just perfect for me, specifically McDonald's flavored beef patty.

It took me some time to realize that McDonald's actually eliminated it from their menu, just like what they did with Strawberry Sundae. But if there's no harm in asking, so all one has to do is to ask for it and wait for at least 5 minutes to get it done. That's what I've been constantly doing for the past years, if I have time to spare. Otherwise, I'd go order Cheeseburger by default.

As my colleague gave me my McDonald Plain Hamburger request for lunch, I immediately googled and had my youtube directed to the Archie Cartoon series. And it's time to tell you a story about this loony habit of mine.

I love hamburgers. I'm not actually addicted to it, but I just appreciate it. And when/if I crave for it, I've already got selected few hamburgers in my list, but unfortunately Burger King's not one of them. I usually crave for the Plain McDonald's Hamburger, Carl's JR plain burger and Friday's American burger preferably without the cheese.

These specific hamburgers have already claimed a part in my neuro-memory, and usually it's automatically associated to Archie Comics. I've discovered this loony habit of mine one afternoon when we came home from Robinson's Galleria Mall. That afternoon was pretty traumatic for my parents for I was technically lost for at least 2 hours, and I was just around Grade 5 then. The whole mall search party was formed and my mother went hysterical as I can remember. But silly old me, I just remembered to go to Guard in the hope that I won't be swallowed by an imaginary myth of a Human Snake that's supposedly a twin of the Mall's owner. (Story's pretty famous and a complete farce)

Nothing in hand and just my National Bookstore package, I waited patiently for my parents to pick me up. Then minutes passed as I began to get scared. I remembered the tears already welling up as the guard waved his hand to his colleagues. There I saw my mother running towards me and being hysterical.

I found it to be instantly funny as all attention's focused on us. I found relief too as I wouldn't be the next Snake-man's dinner. Out of a form of consoling, my father decided to take me to McDonald's. I immediately bought the plain burger and urged them to go home.

When I went home I locked myself up in my room, after receiving a relatively good scolding, and began to read my newly bought Archie Comics. As I read, I started to eat my burger. That moment was priceless. That was the time I realized that after all those years of reading Archie Comics, I knew I'd enjoy it more if I have a burger with me. And vice versa, whenever we eat out at McDonald's, it would have been funner if I had my Archie comics with me.

It might attributed to Jughead's passionate interest on Pop Tate's burger, or it might be attributed to actually having the whole Archie Gang as my first time heroes...okay...friends. I tell you, the foundation must've been that strong in childhood, that I somehow learned how to adapt it until now...until now that I have my burger in my hands and watching Archie Cartoons in youtube.

We all have our little things. I have little things...little weird numerous things that I carry till now and I figured this is one of those loony things. hehe

After I've devoured the burger, I've again devoured the euphoric memories of my childhood. If I had to document the my whole childhood existence, I would definitely dedicate a chapter to the priceless Plain McDonald's burger with the literary classics of Archie comics.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Saturday Ho-Hum Carnival

Speaking of roller coasters metaphorically in my previous blog, do I daresay mention that I was in one last Saturday?

It was a dreary Saturday morning when I battled the desire to linger more in bed and waste the precious time sleeping, in a yet to be concluded New Year season. Mitch and I were discussing on a perfect Saturday date while he was playing DOTA and I was playing SIMS. With the lack of better options and creative ideas, we've decided to go to MCS for a DVD shopping hunt and just have lunch at the fabulous Chinese restaurant at Mr. Choi. It was not less than 5 minutes after we said our goodbyes when he called up again.

"What's up?" as I anticipated some massive alteration of plans.
"Do you want to go to Global Fun Carnival this afternoon?" he muttered
"Global Fun carnival, as in the one in MOA?" excitement's already evident in the tone here.
"Yup. Anton and Angela are going, I think AJ has free tickets." he confirmed.

And it was pure excitement from then on. The height of excitement doubled since I didn't expect my beloved Mitch would actually suggest that, since he is not a total fan of theme parks. Any ride that's elevated from the ground, except I suppose carousel, gives him the uneasiness. That's why he wouldn't dare to think of it as an option. But lucky me, his girlfriend, won't turn down a perfectly promising theme park, and a free entrance of ride all you can to boot!

Dressed up in shorts, shirt, jacket and messenger bag, I hopped outside the gate as soon as my ride had arrived. Not only did I look like a tourist, but I also acted like one.

Going to Global fun carnival via Macapagal was hassle-free at around 4 pm, noting the fact that MOA is having an end-year sale at that time. We parked the car in a massive space in between MOA and the carnival and hurried to meet AJ and Timmy.

As we entered, walking amidst the gravel laden ground, we tried to view the perimeters. Frankly speaking the first thing that comes to my mind was "PERYA/PERIA." For the benefit of those not exposed to this word, peria is some sort of 'localized form of carnival,' that usually is associated in school and town attractions. It's really not the typical elite carnival that I expected like in Enchanted Kingdom. The images and drawings that entice you tor ride can be done by billboard art displays you see in dimly lit cinemas in Aurora. But what can you expect, Global fun carnival is a moving / nomad carnival after all? It reminds me of a what a carnival should be though, with all the gypsy history.

As we tried to decide which one to ride first, I viewed the selections, and frankly I wasn't really that impressed. There's the usual roller coaster, Star City's better. There's Flipper, a group ride, wherein you get spun off constantly as you get elevated, (just imagine you're inside the tea cup, twirling in mid-air), there's the usual ferris wheel, bump cars, airplane ride (for kids) and ranger, a sort of 360 degree version of Anchor's away.

Some of the rides like the GFORCE and the other one which failed to resonate its presence in my memory were inactive. Aside from the not so impressive rides, were various games, which have impossible chances of winning, and numerous general attractions like mortuary (attempt at horror attraction), jurassic park and the mummy. Unfortuntalely the crowd spirit didn't help much.

After being immobile at the center, we decided to ride the infamous FLIPPER. AJ, Timmy, Angela and I dared it as Mitch and Anton declined, who immediately took on other roles as photographer and Baggage counter representative. Angela was hilariously becoming nervous as the ride begins to resume, she kept on worrying about the technical aspect of the ride, primarily because of the 'peria feel." She kept on catching the maintenance guy's attention to check our unit to see if there's any loose strings or something. "Di pa tayo name-maintenance check!" I think that was her exact words, mixing it with laughter and nervousness.

The Flipper well, was just like what a flipper should be, it imitates the feeling of being tossed and grabbed in midair. It was fun at first, but as the momentum speeds up, it was much more of a discomfort. Most of the peeps ended up feeling nauseated and the discomfort hits right at the head, not at the stomach, which is far worse.

We started to take a long break from rides and tried to meager through the grounds and looked at the game booths. I didn't take part of the gaming activity. I'd rather observe and just be hell KJ about it, cause frankly to win in those ludicrous game booths, one must have immense luck and superhuman calculated strength skills, otherwise you'd better treat your money as a form of donation.

After they've had enough gaming, the rest fell in line for the bump cars while Mitch and I tried to investigate on the snack booths. It was the usual finger food delights, nothing special. Lastly, I decided to venture to the last interesting ride in the carnival alone, which is called the ranger. It's just like a 360 degree turn of ANchors away with a special 10 second "tihaya" feature in the air. It was okay, better than flipper if you ask me. After that I went another round with AJ, and we all decided to go home.

Well, good thing the tickets were free. I'd hate to think I'd be cranky on the way home paying 400 bucks, for something that could easily be worth a 100, entrance and rides. The bad part is I didn't quite enjoy. The expectations were not that high really, can't blame it on me. But from the images, to the structure, to the ride selections, it's really not worth 400 bucks. Star City would've been better. But then again there's a first in everything.

*I'll try to post the picture as soon as Mitch hands them over to me.
So, if you're just not doing anything and wanted to experience the nauseating flipper and pay 400 bucks for the rides/entrance, well, be my guest, but for those who have doubts...listen to them, it might save you your wallet and time.

*Image borrowed from

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Ride to a new life

Happy New Year Everyone!
Actually it's already pretty late, and it's been like a whole month and some days since I've written in this blog of mine.
To be more exact, HAPPY three KINGS.

Well, the 12 days of Christmas have just ended, people! It's just about the right time to put away those shimmering lights,prickly Christmas trees and miniature golden disco balls. It's time to make the house squeaky clean to represent life's new clean slate.

That clean state started exactly by watching a fireworks display in Ayala with some of my friends from work. Checked in a fabulous metropolitan hotel is the only way to go, experiencing new year with a little bit of luxury and comfort.

The feeling of collective celebration in Ayala was something worth it, I tell you. It beats being stuck in the house and listening to self-made fireworks orchestration that litters improperly in your village streets.

The new year celebration was pretty unexpected for me. I had a couple of talks with good friends, equally divided quality time with loved ones, and most importantly had a quiet reflection just before the closing of 2007.

I think everyone should be able to do that, snatch a few minutes or hours of their time writing or doing what they love to do when reflecting. Doing this activity allows relaxation and thinking. Good or bad things it may be, I think it's worth another look and worth saying good bye to.

Cliche is really not my thing as I bluntly say that 2007 was kind of a 'shit-year' for me. Talking metaphorically is understated, but shit in a good way, like what you scream on a deadly roller coaster ride. "SHIT!"

You scream that word "shit" knowing you're scared. You scream that word knowing that you wouldn't know how you'd end up with. You scream that word with bravado, publicizing to the world that you are in a very unstable position and there's honestly nothing you can do about it, but to brace yourself to somehow survive the ride.

I think I've come to realize that life is sometimes supposed to be like that.

No matter how you plan and manipulate the situation, there are just some monumental moments wherein you're 'riding that rollercoaster.' As it gets steeper and steeper, as much as you'd want to go back, reassess your strengths and try again next time, sometimes it just doesn't happen that way. One wouldn't realize you're taken into the ride of your life and the situation is beyond repair, that the first step to get it solved is to just to let it go and suffer the ride. There's nothing you can do but scream the word...SHIT.

Now that the roller coaster has stopped, I successfully got off. And I'm happy to get off, as I'm happy to realize that the ride is over. I am getting off in that blasted 2007 bringing memories of uncertainty, adrenalin, spontaneity, love and hate for life. I'd go down that ride facing friends s I carry on new activities. Although the person who got off that ride is quite different and changed compared to that person who got on.

Hopefully this year would be good to all! It should be a mix of ride of some sort, a relaxing one, a rushed exciting one, an uncertain one, romantic and fulfilling one, mostly happy moments and not shitty moments. But knowing that everything has its purpose and everything has its end, just like what happens to any ride, makes it all better and bearable. And right now at the start of 2008, I'm starting to feel and enjoy this ride called life.