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Friday, April 22, 2011

Which Camera to Choose?

I'm not so into photography but I like taking pictures (and I also love my pics to be taken!).  I get a little frustrated when my camera didn't capture what my eyes are seeing.  Most especially if the colors or the lights didn't go perfectly well with my camera.  And so I decided to upgrade my 2 year old Olympus FE-370.

No, I am not considering SLR cameras.  I know it can perfectly capture what my eyes are seeing and even more.  But they're expensive, in the long run.  I know because my brother in law is into photography.  His equipment is at par with most professional photographers.  I recall my sister telling me that his camera is often more advanced than the official photographer in a wedding ceremony.

Another reason why I am not considering SLR cameras is because they are bulky.  I am known to carry small little things in my small little bags.  And besides, I always pack light when I travel so small and lightweight camera is an essential factor for me.

I've heard that various camera models today have the "SLR camera" capability.  This is what I'm looking for!  Another factor that I am considering is a camera that can produce great pictures at night or at low light, most especially in a city skyline and fireworks shot.  These shots must be taken without a tripod but can still produce a clear shot.  Can a simple digital camera produce this?  My Olympus does but you still need to position the camera in a steady surface.  My friend's Canon Ixus can also produce nice pictures at night but some are too grainy maybe due to high ISO setting.  Another thing that I'm after in a digital camera is the video capability.  It would be best if it has high quality or HD video capability even if at far distance.  Other factors I'm considering are image stabilization, panoramic scenes availability, fast shutter speed, longer battery life, affordability and of course good quality pictures.

So I'm choosing from these "pocket SLR cameras":  Canon Powershot S95, Panasonic Lumix LX5, Olympus XZ-1, and Nikon Coolpix P300.  I have read the reviews of the Nikon.  Not so positive but I think it is capable of taking nice quality night shots without tripod.  I also can't understand the technical specifications (aperture, RAW format, wide-angle focal length, etc.).  So I'm not really sure about the review.  Can someone help?  I would greatly appreciate your responses.  And if you know how much is it being sold here in the Philippines, please post it and let me know.  Oh and by the way, if you know other camera models that fits my description above, please let me know also.

Thanks so much in advance!

Good Friday Snack

I'm living up to my sacrifice of not eating meat today.  I had baked fish this lunch and now for snack, I had spaghetti in tomato and cheese sauce.  This recipe is very simple.  I wasn't able to get a picture of the "finished product" though.  I need not to use further seasoning as the gourmet sauce is already flavorful.

Spaghetti with Tomato and Cheese
(using Del Monte's Gourmet Sauces)

picture courtesy of

1.  Saute garlic, onion and tomatoes.
2.  Add canned tuna (or ground pork) without the water or oil.
3.  Add 1 pouch of Del Monte Tomato and Cheese Gourmet Sauce.
4.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes.
5.  Sprinkle Italian Seasoning if desired.
6.  Pour cooked spaghetti noodles (about 200g) onto the sauce and mix well.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top.  Serves 4.

*The cooking time of the sauce depends on you since you can still continue to cook it while pouring the noodles.  But make sure you lower the heat for it not to stick to the pan.


Good Friday lunch

It is a practice to most Catholic Filipino to avoid eating meat on a Friday during Lenten Season.  This is part of the sacrifice one can make if they cannot do fasting.  I honestly can say that I have not been practicing this type of abstinence during the Lenten Season.  I always forget that meat should be avoided on a Friday.  And so this time, last Friday of Lent, I especially ensure that I will avoid eating meat.  I prepared this baked fish for our lunch today.  I got this recipe from

Baked fish with Cream Cheese and Mayo

1. season fish with salt and pepper.
2. fry fish, half cooked. put in paper towels to drain excess oil. set aside.
3. saute mixed veggies (corn, peas and carrots - yung frozen pack) in same oil. set aside.
4. mix softened cream cheese, mayonnaise and grated garlic (or minced garlic).
5. place fish and mixed veggies in baking dish.
6. spread the cream cheese/mayo mixture on top (and bottom) of fish.
7. bake for 10mins or until the top portion turns into light brown.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

All Concerts Should be Held in Araneta Coliseum

And nothing else.  Well, I haven't seen concerts in SM MOA concert grounds and SMX Convention Center but in my opinion, these two are not the best choice for concerts to be held.  Why?  Simply because their offer is not as convenient as that of Araneta Coliseum.  Let me state my 2 basic points:

1.  From side view, the seating arrangement of the venue in Araneta Coliseum is slope type.  So even if you're on the farthest area, you can still get a nice view of the performers even if they seem to be very  tiny people.  When I say performers, this includes the drummer (if it is a band) which is often situated at the back of the stage.  You can see what they're all doing.
2.  You get what you pay for if you're in Araneta.  That is, to get a good seat.  In Araneta, you can choose your choice of seat upon purchase of ticket up to the Lower Box Area.  That is about up to 2 or 3 levels starting from the ground.  You don't need to rush to the venue and line up to get a nice seat on a first come first serve scheme since you already paid for your chosen seat.  All you have to do is be at the venue at about 10-15 minutes before the show.

I have tried watching concerts in open fields and it wasn't good as well, especially if you're in the farthest area.  You're only chance to see what the performers are doing is through the wide screen or projector they're providing.  It is like just watching them on TV.

My rant came about when I learned that the 2nd expensive concert ticket price of Maroon 5 is just a free seating.  This is going to be held at SMX Convention Center.  Imagine, 2nd expensive and yet it can still be inconvenient for you especially if you still need to fall in line just to get a good seat?  What's more, the ticket is considered as "Gold" ticket but the treatment wouldn't be "royalty".  I'm really really pissed!  I also heard that the Justin Bieber concert initially have reserved seating for Gold tickets only but later on the organizers decided that the silver ticket holders shall also have reserved seating.  This is to be held at SM MOA concert grounds.

I can't understand why they can't provide reserved seating to those expensive tickets.  Can't they be a little bit considerate to those who paid a lot for the concert?  I was happy that now I can afford to be near the front seat for Maroon 5's concert with its price almost half than their previous concert here.  But if it isn't going to be reserved seating, I'm having second thoughts of buying it.  My major reason is that, the concert date falls on a Monday.  I will be coming from work in Makati.  I cannot tell how bad the traffic can be from Makati to SM MOA.  If I leave at 5:00pm in Makati, the latest time that I will be arriving MOA will be 7:00pm.  Concert starts at 8pm.  Do you think I can still get a nice seat if I arrived late?

I'm really really pissed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Script: My experience

Remember my previous blog when I say I won't be able to watch The Script's concert?  Well, here I am, blogging about my experience from the concert.

It wasn't really a planned activity for me.  I only decided that I wanted to watch the concert, 5 days before the concert date.  I got curious with all those reminders, announcements and advertisements of the concert from Facebook.  It was all publicized that made me think, this may be a good concert.

When I called up Ticketnet, the concert tickets are already sold out.  Well, 5 days before the event, where else will I get tickets? So my friend and I sourced out "connections" just to get tickets.  General admission is ok with us as we're not really die hard fans of them, well at least for me.  As I've mentioned in my previous blog, I just like their songs and I just want to hear them perform live.  Good thing, the Manila Concert Scene fan page from Facebook announced that they'll be having a contest about The Script concert and the prize is free ticket for 2.  Without hesitation, I joined that contest.  Also, the fan page mentioned that Araneta Coliseum, the venue of the concert, will be selling Standing Room Only (SRO) tickets for the upper box A, B and General Admission on the event day iteself.

Unfortunately, our connections don't have any tickets for sale.  I didn't win the contest as well from the fan page.  So my last option is the SRO ticket.  Even if its "standing room", the area are all free seating.  And so you have to be there early if you want to be seated.  First come first serve.

The fan page announce that tickets will be sold by 3pm.  So my friend and I decided to be there around 2pm.  My friend arrived earlier than me that's why she was able to fall in line with only a few people in queue.  By the time I got there, people are already piling up.  We waited in line until about 4pm and no ticket is being sold yet.  There were rumors that only tickets for upper box A and B are to be sold.  We're already quite hesitant as we are only after the Gen Ad tickets.  But we still waited.  When the security asked us to line up properly and direct people to line in front of the ticketing window, that's the time we asked and confirm the rumors.  Well, the rumors are quite true, considering we're in the queue for upper box ticket selling!  The queue for Gen Ad ticket selling is on the other side of the coliseum.  The security informed us there are only less than 100 people in line.  So we hurriedly went to that Gen Ad ticket booth and luckily the line is quite short.  Then within seconds, people are also lining up behind us.  These are the same people from the upper box ticket booth.  I guess we all got confused as to where to line up.  When we got there, there's already a line going to the Gen Ad entrance.  People are really excited about this concert.

They started selling the tickets at past 5:30pm already.  Upon receipt of ticket, we immediately went up to line to the entrance of Gen Ad area.  Another line.  We've been falling in line since 2pm!  By around past 6:30pm, gates were already open.  But still, we have to fall in line again on the last door at the entrance of the coliseum itself.  One last line and this is it!  We got in by around a little past 7pm.  Whew!  What a long journey!  And finally this is it.  Lights closed at about 8:30pm and The Script were already on stage.

It was an entertaining concert.  I can feel that The Script is very happy with the Filipino's appreciation of them.  It was fun that the band even took pictures of them with the audience.  The Script also mentioned how the Filipinos love to sing along.  I thought they will flash the lyrics "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" from their huge screen background.  But instead, Danny let the audience sing some parts of the song.  With sold out tickets and standing room tickets, the whole Araneta Coliseum is occupied.  People are all singing to almost all of their songs.  This is what I've learned from the concert.  It's SOP to memorize the lyrics of at least 3 songs of the artist/band so you wouldn't be left out!  As for me, I just hum as I don't know the lyrics :)

Here's the setlist from the concert:

You Won't Feel A Thing
Talk You Down
We Cry
If You Ever Come Back
Before the Worst
If You See Kay
The End Where I Begin
Science and Faith
The Man Who Can't Be Moved
I'm Yours
Dead Man Walking
Rusty Halo

The band bid goodbye but of course we haven't heard their famous songs yet.  And so "the script" is people will shout "more" and the band will come out again and play.

For the First Time

Of these, my favorites are For the First Time, Nothing, Breakeven and The Man Who Can't Be Moved.  I didn't have much pictures and I didn't even bother to take videos as we're seated on the top of the world.  Overall, I enjoyed the concert.  It may not be the perfect concert I've seen (with a pause of about 10-15 seconds before the next song is played) and Danny has a little difficulty performing live but it was entertaining.  The long queue was worth it for just Php 850 :)

Taipei Trip Day 3

(Feb. 15, 2011) Today is our last day in Taiwan.  I can still remember the first time I got here.  I was too nervous while waiting for my turn in immigration at Taiwan airport.  It is my first international trip.  They may ask too many questions that I cannot answer, haha!  When it's my turn, the guy said: "Ni Hao?"  I replied: "I'm ok, thanks."  I know its not polite to answer that way as I responded in a different language.  I got scared in answering him in Mandarin as he may further ask questions in Mandarin.  Well I'm half Chinese but I can only understand very little Mandarin or Fookien.  Luckily, he didn't ask further questions.  Unlike with my friend,  they kinda converse a little.

Anyway, our first itinerary for the day is the Sun Yat Sen Garden.  There was a Lantern Festival event when we were there.  This will run for about a week until the Lantern Festival itself which I think is on the 17th of February.  There were exhibits of various lanterns made by different schools along the walkway.  There are even children having their field trip.  I guess it will be better if you go here at night to see the beauty of the lanterns when lit up.

Panoramic view of Sun Yat Sen Garden

We get the chance to see the dancing fountain.  It lasted for about 5 minutes.  Just a short performance but it was nice.  Again, maybe if this still happens at night with lights, it will be spectacular view.  Mini rabbit lanterns are also to be given away at 2pm.  At that time (around 11am), there were already long queues in that area.  We can no longer wait for it as we still have other areas to visit in our itinerary.

From Sun Yat Sen Garden, the Taipei 101 can already be seen.  So we took pictures with Taipei 101.  But I insist to still go to Taipei 101 even outside or nearer the area to take a picture.  So after Sun Yat Sen, we walked the streets of Taipei city  and got a nice shot of Taipei 101.

Taipei 101 shot from the streets of Taipei

Taipei City is very clean.  The pavement have designated walkway for bikes and people.  People seem disciplined and I admire the cleanliness of the surroundings and "safe" feeling while on the street.  What catches my attention was the unique pedestrian walk in the middle of the street.  Pedestrians can reach the other side of the road by crossing in the middle of the street and not the usual side street.  I wasn't able to take a picture of me crossing the street as I don't want to stop in the middle of the street and I might get caught by the police.

Intersection Road

This can be eaten without rice
Last in our itinerary is the Flora Expo.  But before going there, we stopped at Sogo Hotel as my friend is going to buy some shoes.  The boots she bought in the streets of Ximending gave up after only a few walks.  It didn't even lasted for one whole day.  She bought it for only NT$250.  Well, maybe that's what you get for a very cheap shoes.  Anyway, when some of my friends are shopping around Sogo Hotel, my other friend and I had a sumptuous lunch.  I enjoyed my lunch here as it was really hefty and inexpensive.  My lunch cost me only NT$150.  I'm surprised that I wasn't able to consume it all!
Flower gallery

We arrived at Flora Expo at around 4pm already.  We don't have plans of touring the whole Flora Expo area, we just picked up a few places to visit.  As what the name implies, there are a lot of flowers displayed and floral art works/exhibit.  Upon entering the area, there is a designated sketch and stamp area of flowers.  If you collect stamps, make sure you have a lot of spare blank sheets on hand as the venue only provides one sheet.  Also, you can use your blank sheets to sketch various images of flowers.  It was lovely.  Good thing my friend loves stamps and she brought a small notebook.  So everytime there is a stamp available in all the areas we've visited since day 1, she never fails to punch one in her notebook.

Panoramic view of flower gallery

We visited a pavillion where exhibits from different countries are displayed.  Of course we visited the Philippines' exhibit.  I thought I'll be seeing flowers there but it turned out, various tourist attractions were featured in the Philippine's booth.  It was still nice though, at least more people will get to know the wonderful places of the Philippines.

Since this is our last day, I bought some souvenirs at the Flora Expo.  I bought a cute magnet for NT$35 and a plastic folder at NT$30.  Not very cheap, but it's ok.  I also bought a Hello Kitty cellphone charm here as we will no longer visit Hello Kitty Sweets.  And I'm not sure if there is still one at the airport.

The soup is so yummy!
It was still chilly when we left Flora Expo.  We're thinking of the best restaurant to eat for dinner as this is our last night.  But we decided it to be nothing fancy.  We wanted to try out the small restaurant just outside our hotel.  Its like shabu shabu but there's no cook pot in your table, instead the mini cook pot is served individually with your food cooking on top of it.  It's pre-cooked already but it is still serve to you with cook pot.  Thus, it gets really difficult to consume it immediately as it is very hot.  But the food is very yummy.  For just NT$100, you get the bowl of soup with veggies and noodles plus free drink and rice.  You also have the option to refill your soup.  Many people go here to dine in or take out.  The varieties are just little but I guess that doesn't matter as the food really tastes good.

So that how my Taipei trip goes.  My budget for the whole trip (including visa, airfare, accommodation and pocket money) is only Php 15,000 but I go a little over it.  I think I spent around Php 17,000.  Here's the breakdown of my budget (not detailed though) per person.

Airfare - Php 3,000
Accommodation - Php 3,900
Visa - Php 2,500
Pocket money - NT$5,000 (Php 7,500)

Before I forget, we arrived early at the airport wishing we can do a little more shopping there and hoping to see that Hello Kitty Cafe.  But unfortunately, the whole duty free area of the airport is under renovation.

Here's my blog for day 1 and day 2.  I guess I will still want to go back to Taipei.  I still need to see that Hello Kitty Cafe.  And I believe there are a lot more nice places to be visited.  Besides, I really love the cold weather and winter fashion!  You can't get that in the Philippines!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Longchamp and Cath Kidston Bags

These are the new brands in my bag collection.  What's special about these bags is that they all came from my own pocket!  And they cost about Php 3,500 and up!  Yes, I do have other branded / designer bags but they all came from my siblings.  For the love of bags, I normally just buy any brand, mostly locally made.  My favorites (I've got more than 10 bags/accessories from them) are bags from Fab Manila.  And the most expensive bag I bought does not exceed Php 1,000.  Even the Girbaud bag I had was less than that amount (I had it on sale)!  Now I've changed.  I want more designer bags.

When my sister was flying to Paris last year, I had second thoughts in asking her to buy me a Longchamp bag.  I don't understand why girls are raving about it, even my sister loves it so much.  So out of curiosity, I asked her to buy me a limited edition Eiffel Tower Le Pliage medium short handle.  This isn't really my first choice but this is the only one available.

Le Pliage Eiffel Tower, Php 3,500 (converted to Peso)

I fell in love with the bag when I first saw it.  It's so spacious yet not bulky.  The short handle is quite off for the size.  Being spacious, I tend to put on a lot of stuff and it gets a little heavy for me to hand carry or carry it in my arms.  And so I decided to buy another one, this time long handle.  Since I had plans of going to Hong Kong at that time, that was my target: buying another Longchamp bag.  I'm choosing between Abre de Vie and Planetes.  The latter is quite cheaper and my friend told me that I already have a Le Pliage and so I bought Red Planetes small long handle.  I so love this bag! The size is just right.  It is still spacious and sophisticated looking.  I love carrying it on my shoulders.

Red Planetes, Php 5,300 (converted to Peso)

So its summer.  I still want that Abre de Vie white or the LM metal in white of Longchamp.  For some reason, I got attracted to white bags.  Then my sister introduced me to Cath Kidston.  Oh my! They're the perfect bags for summer!  Reading reviews and comments from the ever reliable Girltalk, I become eager in getting a Cath Kidston bag for myself.  Alas, last Tuesday, my sister and I ordered 2 Day Bags in Briar Rose, white and blue.  Of course the white one is for me.

Day Bag in Briar Rose (Stone), Php 3,800 (sale price)

I only get to see my Cath Kidston bag yesterday since it was delivered in my sister's house.  Upon seeing it, OMG! I so love it!  It is so summery!  I immediately transferred my stuff and used it right away.  I thought the Day Bag will be the same size as my Eiffel but it's a bit smaller.  I love it.  I'm not a fan of big bags, really.  It is spacious and looks sturdy.  The handle can be used for shoulder or hand carry.  It's perfect.  I can put my 10" netbook there.

Of these 3 bags, only the Cath Kidston was bought here in the Philippines.  Nowadays, its hard to identify authentic Longchamp bags here as they are everywhere!  I thought Cath Kidston will have no fakes or knock offs but I was wrong.  I already saw an imitation of Cath Kidston bags in facebook.  Same material, same floral design but without the Cath Kidston tag.  They're only selling it for just Php 449.  I also read somewhere that S&R is selling this bag but a fake one.  Sad to say the price is about $1,000+  So before you buy online or anywhere for that matter, better be careful and double check its authenticity.

I'm still eyeing another Longchamp, still the white bags I mentioned, but I'm still thinking about it.  I also like the Herve Chapelier.  I'm still pursuing my sister to give her Herve Chapelier to me as the bag is too small for her :)

Maybe in the future, I'll target to save money to buy on other famous designer bags like LV, Hermes, Chanel, Balenciaga and many others.  Hmmm... Wishful thinking...

Taipei Trip Day 2

(Feb. 14, 2011) My friend told me that today will be colder than yesterday.  I thought I’m still “equipped” with that since yesterday I didn’t feel so cold.  But I was wrong.  I thought my clothes are thicker today than yesterday.  But it seems that the cold winds penetrate my clothes! Brrr!

At about 10am, we’re already at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial.  It was raining at that time that made the weather [again] super cold!  There are about 3 temples in CKS.  We took our pictures here and there but we couldn’t take a group shot.  At least two of us should take the pictures, one to hold the camera and another one to hold the umbrella to protect the person and the cam from getting wet.  There’s not much to do at CKS but we waited until 12 noon in time for the changing of guards. 

Panoramic view of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

The changing of guards was amazing.  They’re perfectly synchronized.  They even have an instance where they point out their swords to their leader just to make sure that there distance to each other are all equal.  The whole activity took about 10 minutes.  It’s hard to tell whether these guards are good looking as their faces are all serious and almost covered by their helmet.  Haha!

One thing I noticed that the temple provides not only rack for umbrellas but plastics as well where you can place your umbrella and bring it inside but without getting the floor wet.  We find that useful so we can put our wet umbrella directly in our bag.

Lover's Bridge
Our next stop: Fisherman’s Wharf/Lover’s Bridge.  It was located in Danshui line and from there you either walk or ride the bus before you reach the Lover’s Bridge.  We stop by at some market place in Danshui where we get to taste another street food.  The candy covered tomato is delicious.  Crunchy in the outside, soft and juicy in the inside, haha!  I also get to taste some bread with fillings.  Yummy too!  I intend to buy a jacket as it was really cold but I end up buying only gloves.  It cost me NT$100.  That’s enough to keep me a bit warm, I guess.  My friend was also able to buy one from original price of NT$200, she was able to bargain it at NT$100. 

Arriving at Lover’s Bridge… IT WAS REALLY REALLY COLD!!  I can barely walk up the bridge!  But for picture purposes, keri lang!  The bridge is quite long so I have to endure the coldness of the weather before reaching the other end.  It was nice scenery though with the pink colored bridge.  I wonder how it would look like at night.  There are some shops and restaurants at the other end but some were close.  When we get back to the other end, we saw a couple all dressed up.  It seems like they’re going to have their pre-nuptial pictures take there.

Our next stop is the Fort Sto. Domingo.  We took a bus to get here.  I think this is also called the Red House.  As what the name implies, it is all painted in red.  It seems like this is a dorm house.  There’s not much to do here too, just picture taking.  We left the area at about 5pm already, rush hour.  We expect the buses and trains to be jam-packed with commuters.  And yes it is.  Just like in the Philippines, the buses are occupied and you wouldn’t get to sit anymore.

Our last stop, Shilin Market.  My much awaited destination.  This is shopping time!  At first we seem lost as the market we entered only has a very few stalls.   Not even clothes, just food and some games for kids.  We were not convinced that that is the Shilin Market.  So we walked across the street and there it is!  Shilin Market is like Divisoria.  So many clothes, shoes, accessories, toys and many others stuff on sale.  I saw one boots which only cost NT$180, that’s only around Php 300!  But I didn’t buy it as I think I won’t get to wear it again even if I’ll be in HK next week.  I won’t be wearing it while here in the Philippines.  So I just shop for clothes which I can get to wear in HK.  I heard the weather is also cold there at this time.  There are a lot of cheap clothes there except for souvenir shirts, I find it expensive.  The kids’ shirt already cost almost NT$200. 

10 Degrees Celsius at 11:51pm in Shilin Market
Oh by the way, we had dinner here at Shilin Market.  Unfortunately, we were not able to taste the stinky tofu.  But the food we ate was ok.  We also tried their pearl shake, yum!  We spent the rest of the night here that we almost missed the last ride going back to Xiamending.  The last train trip was at 12 midnight and we’re still in Shilin Market by 11:45pm!  We were running but glad we made it!  The recorded weather for today was 10 degrees Celsius.

Read on for my Day 3 Taipei trip :)  For details of Day 1, click here.