Family, Food, Friends, Fun, Fancy!

On September 17 this year, I was in New Zealand! I still am in New Zealand right now actually and I’ll be here a while because my sister is about to give birth in a few weeks! To twins! 😀 Everyone in the family is super excited, my dad’s already been here since August, my mom’s coming next week and my brother will come to visit in October. I arrived a few days ago and was really planning on just celebrating my birthday here, but of course my friends had other plans, er, requests.

They knew I was going to leave Manila for a while and before my birthday, too, so they asked if I could celebrate my birthday before I left. And though I normally don’t celebrate my birthday before the day itself, I figured this was a special circumstance and I could give in to their demands. 😛

So plans were made, invitations sent, outfits picked out and viola! These are the things that happened:

A Coffee Afternoon

This is the year of specialty coffee! Or, perhaps it isn’t really, but to me it is as this is the year that I started to learn more about it and now of course, I’d like to share it with my friends. So I invited everyone for coffee and merienda at EDSA Beverage Design Group in Greenhills.

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I know, I know, it’s a ways from us Southern girls, but I think it’s a cool place what with their handcrafted beverages and nice space. I have to admit that as much as I love the South, there are places elsewhere that are worth going to. And I’m extra touched that despite the distance, my friends made it! M even brought a cake from the South!

I think it was a nice change of scenery for us and I’m really grateful to X for sponsoring our cab ride to get here from ATC, and to M2 for driving us back to the South in the heavy rain.

Since we were all girls, we had a story-telling game of sorts. I wrote some questions that we each had to answer and I gave notebooks to the ones whom I thought had the most interesting answers. M2 and K won for their honesty and because they had the most benta stories. Hehe. I hope they like the notebooks I gave them.

Of course, we also enjoyed the coffee, cakes and other pastries and beverages that we ordered. What I like about EDSA-BDG is that they have drinks other than coffee so even non-coffee drinkers can have a good time, and I think we all discovered something new about how we like our drinks. You find out something more about a person when you find out how he/she takes his/her coffee, I think. And I’m really happy when I get to know more about my friends. 🙂

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A Fancy Dinner Party

We left Edsa-BDG at 5:30 p.m. exactly as right after our coffee afternoon, I had to get ready for dinner! It was only my girl friends who were invited to coffee as my guy friends aren’t at all interested in that kind of thing and would much rather just be drinking alcohol. So I had a different celebration planned for them, and it really stared out as being not much different from our semi-usual Saturday night inuman at my house. Originally, I was just planning on ordering a case of San Mig Light from a tindahan in the village and getting food from the Mr. Liempo at the village entrance, but then I realized that if I just did that, then it would just be just like our semi-usual Saturday night and that it happened to fall a few days before my birthday wouldn’t have made a difference. So I thought that I should do something special to distinguish it from our other get-togethers and I thought of serving drinks other than San Mig Light.

I searched on the Internet for easy-to-make cocktails, preferably ones that had beer as the main ingredient so it wouldn’t be too expensive. But the Internet being the Internet, suddenly I found myself looking at sites that told you which wine to pair with your food and which glasses you should use for a particular kind of cocktail. I told my mom about it and she said that I could use our nice glasses that she received as a gift but never ever used since we never had dinner parties anyway, and then she got all excited about setting the table and using the nice plates and…

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I have actually always wanted to have a fancy dinner party like this, but never thought I could pull it off. I thought my friends wouldn’t be up for it, or that maybe it would be too expensive, and I guess it was a bit more expensive than I’d hoped, but surprisingly, I didn’t have difficulty convincing my friends to come to my house in semi-formal attire. And with help from the right people and the right menu, I didn’t have too much difficulty setting up everything else either. 🙂 Thanks to my ate and my mom and Ate E and Ate M who were all ever-so-supportive of my crazy ideas (and also gave me some of their own).

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ANTIPASTO. Rosemary olive oil batard, parmesan, mozzarella, salami, prosciutto ham, tomatoes, basil, almonds, cashew nuts, dried blueberries and grapes.

Because we started so late, we ended up eating most of the bruschetta after dinner, but I think we made a nice setup for a makeshift appetizer bar. Special thanks to K2 for slicing the cheeses and placing these ingredients on the plates. I was supposed to do it, but at the time I thought putting on make-up was more important. 😉 And K2 likes doing these things anyway.

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We took this photo just before dinner and unfortunately weren’t able to take more we started so late we were so hungry. But the experience was more important than the pictures anyway, and I think we were also able to take some nice ones during and after the dinner itself.

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Dinner was fish and chips (to go to with the beer cocktail), roast chicken (to go with the red wine), rice (because Philippines) and cucumber, red cabbage and carrot salad (because health). Lemons to taste.

After dinner, we had cake for dessert. And because it was my birthday, the cake came with a candle and a song. 🙂 I was only supposed to have the one cake, the Frozen Brazo de Mercedes I ordered, but I received one that afternoon from M, K and K3, and another one that evening from J and K4. So I had 3 cakes in all. Hooray!

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Mama also wore a semi-formal dress for the occasion, which is good, so she didn’t look out-of-place in the pictures. Although she was just wearing her fuzzy slippers with the dress. I guess I shouldn’t have told you that. 😛

Anyway, we had a Cranium-like game of sorts after dessert and it was so much fun my friends are crazy competitive. The winner’s prize was a chocolate bar from Japan. Well, it was a Japanese brand, but really I bought it in SM. Hehe.

Afterwards, we continued to stuff ourselves with food from the antipasto bar, drank the German beers I bought from S&R (on sale!), the wines that M and K2 brought, as well as the Black Velvet cocktail whose recipe I found on the Internet. We sang some songs as J played the guitar and the first people who left didn’t leave until 6 a.m. the next day, which I think is the sure indication of a great party. Yes?

And here’s another picture of us girls just because. 🙂

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A Pasta Feast and a Show

The next day (but really, it was a few hours after the dinner party), my mom woke me up so we could go to Solaire and watch Singin’ in the Rain on stage! We got orchestra tickets at 50% off and it was my first time at Solaire and Singin’ in the Rain is, I think, my 2nd favorite musical (Fiddler on the Roof is first.) so I had a really nice time all the way until we met up with my brother and sis-in-law for dinner at Va Bene Pasta Deli at Bonifacio High Street.

We had black ink pasta, two kinds of ravioli, some soup and some gnocchi. They were all really good and I wouldn’t mind going there again in the future.

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The next day, it was time for me to go to New Zealand! I didn’t sleep anymore as I still hadn’t packed my stuff at this point and I needed to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. to make it to my flight. Luckily M and her sister T came to the house at midnight to help me pack my things. Anyway, after making sure all the stuff I had didn’t go beyond my 20kg limit, we had breakfast and said goodbye and my mom and Ate E brought me to the airport!

A Lot of Ribs and a Free Dessert

I arrived at Wellington a little over 24 hours later and a little over 24 hours after that, it was my actual birthday and because my sister is the best sister in the world, she and her husband treated me (and Papa!) to a yummy restaurant dinner! Ribs!

We ate at Lone Star Restaurant in Petone and they have really big servings. We had so much leftover to take away! But it was all well and good because as it was my birthday, I got a free dessert! It was a kind of meringue cake with cream and passion fruit syrup. Yummy!

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Now it’s September 18 and my 2015 birthday is officially over. I think it’s the best one yet because aside from celebrating it twice with my friends, I was able to celebrate it twice with my family! I should always go to New Zealand around this time so I can always celebrate my birthday with both my family in the Philippines and Ate and her husband. Haha. If only!

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8 Days Before Christmas

Let’s talk about recent events, shall we?

Perhaps the world will end on Friday. But I was watching a NatGeo special last night and it was talking about how the whole end of the world prediction by the Mayans is actually very vague. The world ending on 12.21.2012 is just one of the interpretations of one of the writings that archaeologists found. So it could very well be wrong, and there are apparently other texts that say that the Mayans didn’t believe that the world would end because they believed in cycles, which meant that the end of something would just bring about the beginning of something else, much like how the 20th century ended and the 21st century began. Not that I ever believed that the world would end on 12.21.2012 but I’m not judging the people who believe/d it either.

I saw another show on NatGeo last night, which was about testing your memory and I’m proud to say that out of the brain games they did, I was able to get an above average score. Of course, they were memory games and there was no math involved. I wish my mind was more well-rounded.

And speaking of wishing for things I don’t have, I realized just last Saturday (I know, it’s very strange considering I’ve been experiencing it for my entire life, basically) that I apparently have “Insecurity Attacks”. At least, that’s what my friend R called it. Is it a real thing? But even if it’s not, I would say that that is the most accurate description for what I have. You know those sudden bursts of self-pity when you just uncontrollably spew out everything you hate about yourself? Yeah. It happens to me a lot, but quite embarrassingly it happened last Saturday just before our Christmas party. My friends put make-up on me and as if my discomfort about make-up wasn’t enough, some of the people in our house (those inconsiderate ones, including and most especially E) called me a clown and/or a Kabuki actor, which was so not what I was going for. Let’s see you not have an insecurity attack after that.

Anyway, my office friends and I eventually made it to the Christmas party. We were too late to qualify for the raffle and I regret that I didn’t think of a very good back-up plan in case the driver didn’t show up (which, he didn’t, and that’s why we were very late) but at least we weren’t late for the start of the program, the dinner, the dance number (which was my reason for coming to the party) and the video presentations, which were really quite interesting.

The party was at this new hotel at The Fort, which made me feel like I was back at my old job, because my previous office was only a few buildings away. My 4 years worth of work experience in that area came in real handy as I was the one who led the way to the places that we went to after the party — Kuppa and Keg. We just walked because we’re without private transportation, which made me think that it’s probably high time I learn how to drive. Alas, I really feel like I’m too timid a person to drive.

We did ask the guys what they wanted to do after not enjoying themselves in Keg. I asked if they wanted to a) go dancing at a club or b) hang out at my house. They replied with the following:

K: Do I look like I’m in a dancing mood?
R: Did you say “club”? NO.

Not that I didn’t agree. Between you and me (and by you, I mean, the rest of the world), I’m really not fond of clubs/dancing either. So we spent the wee hours of the morning at my house. We got there a few minutes before 4 a.m., just in time to hear the bells of the chapel in front of my house ringing, signaling the start of Simbang Gabi. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen the Simbang Gabi happening. We didn’t attend, but I still sort of felt the Christmas spirit, even though we were hanging out at the porch, not paying attention to the mass.

When the sun rose, we had danggit and garlic rice for breakfast. And we talked about The Morning Rush until it was 8 a.m. and everybody had to go home. I slept as soon as they all left and didn’t wake up until 12 hours later. But all in all, I’d say it was a pretty good weekend. Insecurity attacks notwithstanding.

@ keg after the party
Don’t our smiling faces say it all?

Because “Party of the Year” was ripe for the taking

I’m kidding of course. It was most definitely not the “Party of the Year”. Or maybe it is, but only to me. But I think my friends had fun, and I’m glad about that.

You see, my high school friends and I used to celebrate our birthdays with each other. Especially J, since her birthday is in the summer. She would invite people over to her house and there used to be 20 or so of us. Now though, everyone else is busy with their own thing and we hardly see each other anymore. We only get updates on each other on Facebook, and that’s just not the same. Plus, I miss my former officemates, too. I’m sick of getting jealous, looking at their pictures whenever they all go out with each other. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t quit that job at all. And yet another plus, I had to celebrate my birthday with my current officemates, too. We’ve been inventing so many occasions that it’s nice to have a legit reason to meet each other and be drinking on a Sunday.

So really, I just used my birthday this year as an excuse to see all my friends. I would’ve invited more if I could but there were money matters in the way. Sorry about that. Anyway, I had a really fun time. 🙂 It was nice seeing friends I hadn’t seen for a long time, and also those I’d seen less than 24 hours before Sunday night. 😉 And I’m glad they got along. I mean, they mostly did, didn’t they? There weren’t any fights that broke out, and I think people found the games fun. Because yes, there were games. It was really a kids’ party, because you know, I’m in denial of my real age and time is merely an imposed construct anyway.

Dinner was inihaw na liempo, barbecue chicken, inihaw na tilapia, pancit bihon, sinigang na hipon and some pichi-pichi from my friend.

For dessert, we had 4 layers of Leche Flan.
Blowing of Candles! And everyone sang the Happy Birthday Song while clapping their hands.
Obligatory Birthday Photo – After blowing out the candle, we pose for a photo. It’s tradition!

But you know, this was Sunday night and my birthday was really on Monday. Some of my friends waited until midnight so they could greet me as soon as September 17 came ’round, which was the point of having the party on a Sunday night. I’m so happy my friends made it even though it was Sunday. Because Sundays are usually family days, but maybe my friends and I are close enough that we’re all like family? Haha. Ang senti lang.

Anyway, my actual birthday was spent with my family. My parents and I went to a resort in Laguna for swimming, and for dinner, we ate at Sam Won Restaurant in BF Pque. And the waitress remembered me from a meal I ate there 2 weeks ago. What good memory she has. Not that I wasn’t thankful. She remembered what I ordered back then, too, which was exactly what I wanted again this time so ordering was easy.

(L-R) Kuya, Papa, me and Mama in the best Korean restaurant in the Metro. At least, according to me and based on my experiences.

It was really a fun and interesting 24 hours, September 17, 2012. Of course, September 17, 2011 was interesting, too, because I was in New Zealand at the time and we were celebrating the Peñafrancia fiesta at my aunt’s house. And my birthday last 2010 was interesting, too, because it was spontaneous and it involved very different people from the people who were at my birthday party last Sunday. I like celebrating my birthday. I like it because I get to see my friends and do happy things like watch a movie, eat delicious food and play silly games. The gifts and cakes and attention are just bonuses. But even if they weren’t there, and even if it rained so the day wasn’t perfect, it was really fun, and it was a really happy birthday. 🙂

We Won! We Won! Part III.V

Woohoo!!!! 😀 Yehey!! 😀 Wheeee!!! 😀 Asteeeeg!!! 😀 Galeng!!!! Panalo!!! 😀 *applause!*applause!*applause!* 😀

Hahaha, hindi naman ako masyadong high na high? 😉 Can you guess why? (Oy, rhyming ‘yun!) Nanalo kasi kami sa singing contest sa office. Yehey!!! Whee!!! I love it!!!

Although, you may have noticed na Part III.V (3.5 hahaha na-gets n’yo ba? 😉 ) lang imbis na Part IV ‘yung title ko. That’s because we actually only won 2nd place. Pero so what? Ang sagot ko diyan:

2ND PLACE, HELL YEAH!!!!
(Bonus points to whoever can figure out what movie that’s from.)

Hehehe! After all, I personally think na kaya lang kami second place was dahil natalo kami sa alam n’yo na, the ever important criteria — audience impact. Mayabang ako kaya sasabihin kong magaling kami, pero honest din ako kaya sasabihin ko ring pagdating sa audience impact ‘eh wala talaga kaming laban. Paano ba naman? 10 lang kami sa team, and we were against 9 other teams in the department, who each had mga 10 members din. And of course, none of them ever cheer for us, kasi, ewan ko rin. Haha! No, kasi nga, mga alien kami na madalas mag-solo. Hehehe. ‘Pag meron ngang isa sa kanila na may birthday, invited buong department except our team. 😛 Pero oks lang naman, nasanay na kami, plus, it’s really mostly our own fault, you know, for not socializing too much. But, I’m getting off-topic. I was talking about the singing contest.

We’d cheered as hard as we could when they announced my teammate’s name (for the purposes of this entry, let’s call her T). Yeah, all 10 of us cheered. Haha. Well, okay, we did have some friends from other departments. And by some, I mean about 3 people. Haha! But again, it’s fine. I think we cheered loud enough for everyone to know that T had some real loyal supporters. Haha. One of the judges even mentioned us and said “You’ve got a great cheering squad!” Wheee!! That’s us! 😉 Hehehe. Although speaking of the cheering thing, I really didn’t like how some girl would always raise the banner they made for the other contestants whenever we would cheer. I mean, she was obviously supporting the other contestant and was doing it as an “in your face” kind of thing, which is really just so low. I mean yeah, we don’t cheer for the others as much, but we also don’t sabotage or boo them. But whatever. Complaining about it more will only make my IQ points drop (if they haven’t already just by being offended).

Anyway, T did really well. She sang My Immortal and she even had the “Amy Lee look”. Seriously, she was in a black dress and hi-cut boots, plus dark make-up. And we asked the special effects people to turn down the lights, too. You know, to get the atmosphere.  She hit all the notes, save for one, around the end, and you could tell it was because she ran out of air because the note before that was really hard. But the judges said that it didn’t really affect her performance that much, since it was after all just one note.

Biases aside (oh, who am I kidding, of course I’m biased, but I will tell you why I didn’t like the other performances), I really think that it was T’s performance that showed the most amount of skill. But I’ll give points to the other 2 contestants as well, since by choosing an upbeat song (i.e. I Kissed a Girl, Jai Ho), they really got the crowd going. One of the judges even said that she felt like dancing along with the contestant who sang Jai Ho.

Anyway… After all the performances were done and deliberation was over, I knew that we were only going to get 2nd place. Because sabi ko nga, talo talaga kami sa audience impact. It’s really weird ‘pag nandito ka. I mean, on normal days, we don’t really notice it, kasi we’re all working and don’t need to interact with each other much, pero tuwing may event na ganito, kitang-kita mo talaga — it’s Them v.s. Us. Hahaha! Pero ano ba, bring up ako nang bring up niyan, nakakalimutan ko tuloy ‘yung point.

The judges were so nice to say that T was “only behind by 1 point“. I mean, if that’s not a clear indication that she had talent, then I don’t know what is. And here’s a secret: After the awarding ceremonies and encore and other hullaballoo, one of the judges approached T and told her, “It was a really great performance, but we didn’t choose you as the winner, because of the crowd.

WHOA! Way to validate what I had in the back of my mind! Haha! But we didn’t really make anything of it, unless you know, unless we wanted around 90 angry people glaring at us everyday in the office. But you know what, I think they’ll do it anyway? Hehe. You know, our supervisor even had to remind us to cheer and support M, the winner, when she was doing her encore song. Because our team had actually already gone out of the venue and were taking pictures — enjoying ourselves, but with just ourselves. Hahaha. We even made quite a ruckus when we got back to our work stations, too. Although that’s nothing new since we’ve always been the noisiest team anyway. (Yeah, that’s why we’re a, and I quote — “great cheering squad”! Hahaha!)

Right. I have a feeling that all of this is going to be too wordy and isn’t going to make a lot of sense tomorrow, but haha, whatever. I’m still high on excitement. And this is without alcohol!  Haha! (Oh great, now that I mentioned alcohol, you’re all going to think that I’m drunk, aren’t you? Well, I’m not. Get my blood tested (or is it urine that you’re supposed to test?) if you want. Haha!)

Right. Stopping this now and going back to work. Would you believe, after all that, I still have work to go back to?!?