Monday, August 1, 2016

To all STI Alumni: Let's all Reconnect

Being a part of the STI Alumni Association has its many perks. Just recently, STI launched the Alumni Continuing Education Seminar on personal and professional development featuring Anthony Pangilinan as its resource speaker and was given for free to all STI Alumni who wanted to join.

In an effort to touch base to more Alumni, STI is calling all of you to reconnect, register and update your profile. Here is what you can do.
2.  Like the STIAA fan page
3.  Tag your batchmates

Reconnecting with STI is that easy. Sign-up, Tag and Win one of three MacBook units. Know more about future STI Alumni events and seminars!

What more can you ask for? Guys lets reconnect with STI now.

#STIAlumniReconnectCampaign #STIAAFamily

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Blessing of the Jesuit Health & Wellness Center

The Jesuit Health & Wellness Center

Five years ago our batch was preparing for our Silver Jubilee, we were listing down beneficiaries to which our efforts will go after the said Silver Jubilee. Our batch, Ateneo High School 1987 came out with so many ideas. The funny thing was that we were quite low on funds considering that we had to raise around two million pesos to run the annual homecoming and were worried that there won't be anything more left for our beneficiaries.

Photo ops with Fr. Mario  Francisco S. J

Through the efforts of my batch mates AA Aquino and AA Legarda, they spearheaded what we call the Jesuit Infirmary Project. Our core group then composed of Rufi Parpan, Dino Tanjuatco, Jacob Divino, Dong Feliciano, Dondi Narciso, Mike Rotea, Ricky Bello, Manch Carpio, Ronald Ledesma, Noel Garcia, Poopie Estrella and Dan Soliven just followed their lead.

Fr. Herb Schneider S.J. hosting the inauguration

I remember getting an email in 2009 from my Ateneo e-groups and it elaborated the sad state of the Jesuits staying at the Ateneo Jesuit Infirmary.  Fr. Assandas Balchand, then the Jesuit Prefect for Health, spearheaded efforts to raise money by talking to various alumni and most of his former students to be able to sustain the care of the Jesuit priests in the infirmary.  As they say what can one man do to make a difference?

Mr. Ramon S. Ang & Fr. Jett Villarin S.J sharing some stories

Maybe the Jesuits are truly blessed because after a few years their prayers were answered. After a few meetings spearheaded by the Ateneo HS 1987 Jubilarian class, San Miguel Corporation President Ramon S. Ang (RSA) agreed to shoulder the construction the Jesuit Infirmary.  

Fr. Tony Moreno & RSA unveil the marker

The project which eventually yielded millions and millions of pesos was a donation that RSA made to the institution where he entrusted most of his children. Today, the Jesuit Health and Wellness Center is now a reality thanks to Mr. Ang. One man can truly make a difference. 

  RSA also gave thanks

During the feast of St. Ignatius mass at the Ateneo High School covered courts Fr. Tony Moreno S.J, the Jesuit Provincial Superior, announced  Mr. Ramon S. Ang’s generous offering and called him and his family on stage. The ground breaking was held on December 2013. Construction of the Jesuit infirmary began January of 2014 and was set to be completed by January 2015.  

AA Legarda of AHS 87 spoke of RSA's generosity 

Unfortunately, there were so many problems that the project encountered as Fr. Tony said. One of the most debated problem then was the West Valley Fault in which the building was directly sitting on. As I said, probably the delay was the fault of the fault – a double fault. 

Do you remember them?

Eventually the Jesuits found their way around the problems and just this morning the 38 -room, four storey building was blessed and is now "Jesuit ready." The Jesuits taught me a lot especially when I was actively participating in the Days with The Lord and that was why I was so happy that this project came to be.  

AHS 87 with Fr. Florencio Cuerquis S.J

This project is came to fruition because of God’s divine grace and a perfect example that when we put our minds together we can make the impossible become possible. Our thanks again to RSA, Jun Dalandan and also to Ms. Jane Llanes who has been there helping us in making sure that one man can truly make a difference.

AHS 87 with RSA & Jun Dalandan

Monday, July 25, 2016

Orchard Hotel Singapore

Along Orchard Road

When you say Orchard Road, you will always refer to that famous shopping street which is the retail and entertainment hub OF Singapore. Orchard road is a major tourist attraction. One of the major malls in the place is the Lucky Plaza which is frequented by most Filipinos in Singapore.  

The Orchard Station

The place is very accessible since the Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transport has three major stations within the Orchard vicinity namely the Orchard Station, Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut Station. There are also many bus services plying the area with SBS Transit, SMRT Buses and Tower Transit Singapore which makes the place easier to go to.

My room at the Hotel

The Orchard Hotel Singapore is one of the top hotels in the area as the hotel boasts of more than 600 rooms and suites that will fit your need. The Orchard Hotel is a part of the Millennium Hotels and Resorts group that manages other hotels form around the world. That means what you get is world class service in this hotel.

The Orchard lobby

One thing nice about this hotel is the accessibility to other things. You can walk to the MRT and go to Universal Studios if you like. You can also eat at their fine dining restaurants or opt to get your food from the adjacent convenient store or supermarket which is just beside the hotel.

The usual amenities

Registration took us just a few minutes to finish and with no paper work. At the same time they let us check-in way before the standard 2:00 pm check in time which helped us a lot since we were going to the University studios and were rushing to get there. The rooms are classy and it will definitely fit your needs of having a good hotel with great service. When in Singapore, you can check out this hotel if you want to go and shop and look for great signature stuff in Singapore.

442 Orchard Road

A July Solstice

Took a pic passing by

I had a meeting at 8 Rockwell Building which was near the Power Plant Mall. First I was amazed at the security measures of the building since they gave me back my ID after scanning it. They eventually gave me a card that I had to swipe going in and swipe again for the elevators.   Great security. After our meeting I was asked to join my prospective event sponsors for lunch at Solstice which was at the ground floor of their building.

These are my Salad Days

It was unfortunate that I was running late for another meeting so I had to eat and run once the food was served. In the little time that I was in the restaurant I was amazed at one of the owners who greeted us and called on the waiter to assist us in our needs.

A little heavy on the belly

A quick look at their menu showed that they their appetizers plenty of diverse food namely Beef Salpicao, Chilean Black Mussels, Avocado Supreme and Swiss Cheese Fondue. Instead of the appetizers I went for the Caeasar’s Salad with its crisp romaine and crispy bacon. 

The Chicken was very tasty

I didn’t go for the soup either but got the Pomodoro Pasta and we also settled for the Garlic Shrimp Pizza. I wanted to eat light since I was going to another meeting in Laguna and didn’t want to go there stuffed. My lunch mate ordered their Chicken Dish and after a few minutes I hit it off. It’s so nice to be treated for lunch especially when you are in a rush.

Delicious Shrimp in the Pizza

The name Solstice is derived from the astronomical transitions that happens in June and December. For their full menu check out the Blog Our Awesome Planet where you can check every detail of what they serve. For me on a simple Tuesday this day in July, I was just passing by and admired what i had for lunch.

photos were taken from my Samsung phone

Brad & Pits Ribshack: Angelina would love these chops

If you believe in the saying that there is a parallel universe, then you can say that Maginhawa street in Quezon City is the parallel universe of Lilac Street in Marikina. If you are in search of great food then you would understand what I am saying. The explorer in us brought us to Lilac Street in Marikina one Sunday morning and have our lunch at Brad & Pits Ribshack.

From the Restaurants name alone you would know that the specialty of the house is baby back ribs. Since we had no prior knowledge of the place we just asked what their specialty is and the four of us ordered separately to have a taste of each and every dish we ordered.

Rothz ordered the Spicy rib Pomodoro which is a Baby Back ribs dish served with Pasta instead of the  usual rice that goes with it. Considering that the dish costs P 189.00 you can say that its quite okay with the serving and the taste was okay for its price. I ordered the Rib Mountain Baby Back Ribs which was enough for my appetite.

Krisvi on the other hand tried a different dish. She tried the Chicken wings and upgraded the Mashed potatoes for her side dish. I tasted the wings and nice to say it did not disappoint. RJ tried their basic Spicy Baby Back ribs which had 

For their drinks their Naturally brewed "Allmytea" Iced tea caught my eye. I don't usually drink Iced tea but this one was quite tasty and I liked the taste specially when poured on a glass of ice cubes. For those looking for something new check out this restaurant. Their menu is flexible specially if you want to eat a lot or just want something on your stomach. 

116 Lilac St, SSS Village, Concepcion Dos,

Marikina, 1811 Metro Manila

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Return of the King: Cleveland wins first NBA Title

Cleveland's first NBA Title

When Lebron James decided to return to Cleveland he brought with him the blueprint to win a title from his four years on the job training in Miami.  Lebron said that winning a title for the city will be a long process that will test his patience but is excited to face the challenge to rear a young squad that did not even make it to the playoffs in the four years he was in exile into becoming a championship team.  The only bright spot when he arrived was the 2011 draft first over-all pick Kyrie Irving who was slowly making a name for himself.  After his first year, Lebron led the Cavaliers to the NBA finals and lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Lebron on the fastbreak (game 6 photo)

This year the Cavaliers steamrolled through the Eastern Conference and was ready to make amends but unfortunately started the NBA Finals down 0 – 2 as the Warriors manhandled the Cavaliers. After two more games at the Q the Cavs were now down 1 – 3 and heading to the Oracle Arena where the Dubs were almost invincible all year round. But the resilient Cavs were unfazed and focused on some adjustments in game 5 that gave them a statement win with both Lebron and Kyrie scoring 41 points apiece. In game 6 Lebron scored 41 points once again and added 11 assists to lead the Cavs to another blowout win and more importantly forced a game 7 with the defending champs.

Kyrie scored the winning three

Game 7 set the stage for the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history as Lebron scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 11 assists, the third triple double in a Game 7 and his 7th in the NBA Finals as Lebron willed his team to victory.  Actually Lebron has two more games (Games 1 & 4) wherein he was one assist shy of a triple double. For me, the play of the NBA finals is Lebron’s spectacular chasedown block on Andre Iguodala. That play showed that Lebron did not want to lose again to the Warriors as he prevented Igoudala from scoring the go ahead basket that would have brought the house down.

One of Lebron's many dunks (game 6 photo)

For the record, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 1 - 3 deficit and win the title. Also, they are the first team to comeback from a 0 - 2 deficit with the league MVP playing on the other team which incidentally is also the third team to win the title after falling behind 0 – 2 in the series, the 1969 Boston Celtics and 1977 Portland Trail Blazers where the last teams to do that. The Cavaliers are also the fourth team to win a best of seven finals on the road - the Celtics (1969 & 1974)  and Bullets (1978) were the only two teams to do that.

Hail to the King

Lebron James on the other hand is the hands down Finals MVP. He is the first player in NBA history to top all five major statistics for both teams in the finals. His averages were 29.7 ppg, 11.29 rebounds per game, 8.86 assists per game, 2.57 steals per game, 2.29 blocks per game and he also led both teams in minutes played at 42 minutes per game. Lebron is also the second player alongside Kareem Abdul – Jabbar to win the finals MVP with two different teams. Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Hail to the King he is definitely home.

thanks to for the photos

Saturday, June 18, 2016

If the shoe fits

Their showroom in Marikina

If there is one problem I have encountered the past 20 years is buying quality leather shoes that I can use to go to work.  The problem here is because my feet are horizontally challenged and most of the time finding shoes that will fit my feet would take forever. One time it took me 3 months going from mall to mall to look for shoes that will fit me until I found the one.

My shoe fits perfectly

Three years ago I have stumbled across one of the best shoemakers in Marikina – the Gibson’s shoe factory. Luckily, one of my officemates had a sister working part time in the factory and referring clients to them which was just a stone’s throw away from their house. I visited their office in Concepcion Marikina and was lucky enough to have my feet measured and after a week got my new shoes for P1,500.00 only.

other styles you can choose from

This is probably the best customized leather shoes I ever got and who could imagine that it comes at an affordable price. If I would have seen something similar to it in the mall, it would have cost me P 3,000.00 pesos at least which was the last leather shoes I bought in Cubao. I was so happy that my feet can now breathe while walking and I will not have problems specially when it’s swollen and I have to slowly put my shoes in.

Going to school will always be easy with these

After three years I am back to replace my shoes. I was taken aback that Gibson’s has now a showroom for their shoes. I think it’s about time considering their history and what’s nice is that they still accommodated me when I asked to have custom made shoes at the same price.  What’s nice is that they have added their line of shoes. Gibson’s usually caters to the students buying school shoes for school. At the same time, combat boots are also their forte but this time around you can see a variety of shoes that can fit whatever style you like.

Give Love with Gibsons!

As usual I bought another pair of shoes for my nephew and also referred this showroom to my friend who is getting married. Hopefully he can customize his shoes for his wedding. Just go to their website and check out their shoes then go directly to their showroom. You can look for their very accommodating sales people namely Edith and Mitch. 

133 Katipunan St. Concepcion Uno,
Marikina City 1807
Telephone #s: (632) 477 – 8879 or 654 - 7932

Friday, June 17, 2016

A hundred and one adventures at the 100 Islands

While living in exile in Dagupan city in 1988, our neighbor who ran a salt business invited me to join them on their outing to the Hundred Islands. The next day, their boat picked us up at Pantal River and we road off all 40 of us to one of the best natural wonders in our country. Upon arriving we immediately went down on the only island allowed to have some people which was the Quezon Island. It was fun eating and swimming on that Island and as the day ended we commuted back to Dagupan city.

In 1993 I went back with my High school friends and lo and behold we were also led to the Quezon Island to have some R&R. Nothing much has changed but back then it was more of enjoying nature and the pristine beach in that island. I am not a tourism consultant but being there you dream of Island hopping and dropping by other Islands.

Twenty years after my dream was realized when I came back to these Islands. First thing that caught my eye was how organized they were in accepting tourists since there was a center being built where you can rent a boat. Everything was centralized, impressive. Next, I discovered that not only can you drop by Quezon Island, but the boatman has an itinerary to tour you around until 5pm or go on specific islands of your choice. Lastly, not only can you swim and eat but there are other activities you can enjoy as well like riding the zip line, snorkeling and many more. We rented a boat for P 1,400 which can fit 5 people. The bigger one is P 1,800 for 6 to 10 people. I think its better now because you don’t have to haggle with boatmen on boat prices like before.

I am happy that the Department of Tourism has finally thought of a way to “sell” the Hundred Island to tourists by way of having a great experience in these islands. Much of the things that you can experience here is now similar to the beach activities in Boracay.

Our tour was quite simple, we alighted at the Governor’s Island which is a must for photographers since it gives you most probably the best view of the Islands from atop. Going up 150 steep flight of stairs for me is enough to see the majestic view from above.

Since there were many people in the other islands we managed to just take a peak at the other islands namely the Marcos Island, Romulo Island, a Children Island. One of the more intriguing islands is the Devil’s Island which had so many trees and I believe more than a thousand bats resting on those trees.

My buddies and I settled for a dip at the Old Scout Island. It’s quite small but had less than a hundred people on it. One thing nice though was that the place is ideal for snorkeling. Unfortunately, there were lots of boats passing by that was why viewing the corals was quite dangerous. Like an old scout, we went on to get our food, placed some used newspapers on the sands and had our lunch old style under the rocks.

We eventually went back after seeing the dark clouds going towards our direction. It was unfortunate for us to get wet because of the strong rains that we braved but luckily we survived it and went back ashore trying to dry up. Good thing there was a shower room for rent at the park where washed off the sticky feeling coming from a rain.

For now the 100 Islands impressed me considering the fact that a national treasure has been reborn. I hope a few years from now I would be able to blog again on new experiences on this fantastic Philippine wonder.

Thanks to Ian Siongco and RJ Marasigan for their wonderful pictures

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pangasinan 2016: Reminiscing my past

Pangasinan is a place close to my heart because for one this is the place where my mom was born and grew up but more importantly this where I found refuge when I was a lost teenager. Although I stayed in Dagupan City which was at the heart of Pangasinan, this trip served as a refresher to me since it brought me back to the western part of the province which I barely remembered since I was quite young then when I first visited this part of the Pangasinan. This visit made me quite amused since a lot has changed and it’s something worth telling to some friends. This visit brought me from West to East with some stops in Bolinao, Alaminos and Manaoag.

In this trip I was with my travel buddies, Rothz de Lima, RJ Marasigan, Ian and Krisvi Siongco. We left Quezon City at 7:30 am, had some stops to buy water and snacks and only stopped when we needed to use the toile as I drove straight to the town of Bolinao. Bolinao has become a popular place for tourists in Pangasinan since it has so many tourist spots and a lot of resorts were developed the past to fifteen years. 

You can actually ride a Victory liner bus or Dagupan bus that can take you to Bolinao or Alaminos straight since I saw the Bus stations of those two Bus lines. It might be a 6 – 8 hour trip depending on the stops and traffic. Since I brought my car along it took us almost six hours to get there. We passed by NLEX and SCTEX and took the Hacienda Luisita Exit. I was trying to look for familiar landmarks but used my Waze app instead to make sure I was led to the right path. After a few minutes I finally found the town that I was looking for which was the Camiling town access road. This access road will lead you to the Pangasinan towns Mangatarem and Sual which will then end leads you towards Alaminos and Bolinao. 

Unfortunately when we visited there was a power interruption that made us cut our visit short because the caves we wanted to visit were not accessible because they needed light inside the caves. So we then visited one of the main attractions that is a haven for photographers – the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse tower. We then went back to our resort and rested after a long morning ride.

Our next day saw us visit one of the country’s top natural wonders – the Hundred Islands. These group of Islands used to be a place that mostly people from Northern Luzon would visit, now it is pretty much more accessible to Southerners and foreigners too. The Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan has developed into a Tourism spot where everyone can have a good time. This is my third time to go to the Hundred Islands and I am happy that there has been so many developments in the place that it has now become a popular tourist destination.

First, there are more Islands to go to. The two times I went to these Islands in 1988 and in 1994, you can only access the Quezon Islands and mostly people who can afford it can go for some Island hopping and just go around. Now there are more Islands to discover as they added the Governor’s Island where you can hang around and more importantly have a great view of the place on its view deck which will have you go up to 150 flight of stairs.

Since there were a lot of people in other Islands we decided to stay at the Old Scout Island where there are less than 50 people and was near a great snorkeling area. We eventually brought our baon to the shore and had our sumptuous lunch along the sands. After lunch we saw that the clouds were fast forming into a storm so we headed back to the wharf amidst the heavy rains that went our way. Luckily there were shower rooms for rent at the Park where we came from.

On our third day, we headed east before going back to Manila to visit another popular place in Pangasinan which is frequently visited by faithful Catholics - the town of Manaoag. Everyday, this place is visited by thousands of devout Catholics because this is where the Basilica of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag is located. Locals would tell you that Manaoag derived its name from the word “Mantaog” which means “to call” in their Pangasinense dialect. The Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag houses the 17th century ivory image of the Virgin Mary which was brought to our country from Spain in the same century. It was told that there was an apparition of the Virgin Mary holding a rosary in this area way back in 17th century and that was where the church was built. The small church has evolved into a bigger one and I cannot recall anymore the images of the church when I last visited the place as a kid. Thousands of devotees flock the place and pray for Miracles that would alter a person’s life most specially one’s health and fate.

My reimmersion of Pangasinan was a great one and the only problem I had was that time was not on our side since we only had three days to tour almost 800 kilometers of driving and getting around. Hopefully next time I can visit my hometown Dagupan and other beautiful towns and beaches in the province to further reacquaint me of my teenage years and who knows some past acquaintances might come up. 

many thanks to Ian Siongco and RJ Marasigan for the beautiful pictures