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New year, new beginnings

1 Jan

Photos have the amazing ability to hit just the right spot.  I saw this photo via a twitter friend’s Instagram timeline.  What caught my attention was the use of Fleetwood Mac lyrics from the song Dreams caption.  “When the rain washes you clean will know.  A New Year, a new beginning.”  That struck a chord in me.   Thanks C for letting me share this photo on the blog.  You are a star!  The photo and the words just fit.

Take this chance everybody, to reinvent yourself, to better yourself, to get rid of the bad habits, to right the wrong decisions, to forge new paths.  God blessed us with New Years so that we can get do overs…but then again, it’s also important to remember that each morning, His mercies are new, and we are blessed with new chances.

One of my favourite New Year quotes is from William Arthur Ward:

“Another fresh new year is here . . . another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear, to love and laugh and give!
This bright new year is given me to live each day with zest
. . . to daily grow and try to be my highest and my best!
I have the opportunity once more to right some wrongs,
to pray for peace, to plant a tree, and sing more joyful songs.”

Happy New Year everyone!


Photo credits – Christine Vega


Please help them!

27 Dec

I’m posting this Google document in the hope that it will reach more people.  Please help my countrymen.

If the links don’t work, please view the document here.

Photo credits: Help CDO image from

Help Cagayan de OroOn the night of December 16, 2011, Tropical Storm Sendong killed hundreds & displaced thousands in Cagayan de Oro & Iligan City – a populated area in northern Mindanao, Philippines.  This site compiles relevant information about the disaster and a list of relief organizations accepting donations, so that more help can be provided where it is needed.

We are accepting relevant information related to the disaster relief operations. Join us in our Facebook Group Mata na, CDO at this link . We are also accepting collaborators for this document, email or

Other sources :


Immediate Needs

Blankets, mattress/banig/cardboard boxes, clothes, underwear, soap, tissue paper, rubbing alcohol/hand sanitizer, toothpaste, timba/tabo, bread/biscuits, first aid medication, slippers, milk in tetra packs for kids, diapers, sanitary napkins, ready to eat food (there is inadequate power/fuel and water for cooking). Rubber boots and strong protective footware.



1. Be at Cathedral 1:30 pm. Memorial Mass at 2 pm for all those who perished in the tragedy. To be presided by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma.

2. After the Mass, the Task Force Macajalar will present an environmental situationer. There will also be inter-faith prayers.

3. Following this, there will be a march to the Provincial Capitol, passing by the City Hall.

4. A multi-sectoral rally will be held there, with speakers from various flood victims. The rally will be an occasion for all to decide what course of action will best be beneficial for our city on the matter of public accountability.


Volunteer Work

Do you want to volunteer? Or are you looking for volunteers? Click here.

  1. Xavier University – XU Operation Tabang Sendong accepts volunteers at its main campus in Corrales St., Cagayan de Oro City. Just bring your ID.
  2. DSWD Cagayan de Oro – accepts volunteers at Masterson Road, Upper Carmen, CDO. Contact +639066150095 and +63 8822 8588892
  3. Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro – San Agustin Cathedral – Everyone is welcome to volunteer regardless of religious affiliation
  1. Archbishop’s Residence, P.O. Box 113, Fernandez St., Brgy. 1, 9000 Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Telephone: (+6388)857-1357; Fax: (+638822)72-63-04
  1. All parishes all over the city – Everyone is welcome to volunteer regardless of religious affiliation
  2. Southern Philippines College – Julio Pacana Street, starting Dec 22, 9AM
  3. ABS-CBN Station – Macapagal Road, Bulua


Evacuation Centers

Cagayan de Oro City

  1. West City Central School in Vamenta Blvd, Carmen
  2. Bulua Gymnasium
  3. Xavier University Covered Courts
  4. Capitol University Gymnasium
  5. Carmen Brgy Hall
  6. Macanhan Elementary School
  7. Carmen NHS
  8. Macasandig Brgy Hall
  9. Macasandig Elementary School
  10. City Central School
  11. BonBon Brgy Hall
  12. Kauswagan Brgy Hall
  13. Kauswagan Elementary School
  14. Iponan, Bulao Elem School
  15. Iponan Proper
  16. Balulang Upper Covered Court
  17. Balulang Lower Covered Court
  18. Brgy 18 Brgy Hall
  19. City Hall
  20. Macabalan ES
  21. Puntod ES



  1. Sitio Kalakala, Macasandig
  2. Tibasak, Macasandig
  3. Biasong, Macasandig
  4. Tambo, Carmen
  5. Balulang
  6. Macanhan
  7. Emily Homes
  8. Isla de Oro
  9. Consolacion
  10. Pasil, Kauswagan
  11. Delta, Bonbon
  12. Lower Bulua
  13. Barra, Iponan
  14. Pagatpat


Latest News/Advisories/Commentaries/Statistics/Photos

COWD Advisory: Water Rationing Schedule effective December 20, 2011

Latest: Situation Report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council


Free Water

Local water service is severely disrupted. Here’s information as to where to get water:


  1. Pepsi-Cola Philippines – announced that they will be giving free water at their Tin-ao, Brgy. Agusan Plant. Just bring your own containers. They will be providing 24-hr free water supply.
  2. Coca-Cola – in Lapasan
  3. Rainsoft – located along Kauswagan National Highway, right beside Mazda. They will be providing free NAWASA water.
  4. Deep Well – Dongallo Compound – Hayes Street, Camaman-an (infront of Jetti Gasoline Station) (bring container/s)
  5. Deep Well – Macarilay Residence – Golden Glow Village, Pueblo de Oro. Look for Ferdie Sahagun.
  6. Deep Well – Imperio Residence – 7th and 5th streets, Nazareth (8-10AM and 3-5PM) (Bring container/s)
  7. Pan de Pugon (Kauswagan Branch) – for washing and bathing (bring container/s)
  8. COWD – Cagayan de Oro Water District – Kauswagan provides free water.
  9. Faucet near Mindanao University of Science and Technology- in Lapasan
  10. Faucet in Balulang Booster Station – Balongis, Balulang
  11. Faucet outside City Hall
  12. Faucet in City Tennis Court – Near Cathedral
  13. Faucet in Brgy. Lapasan Plaza – Lapasan
  14. Fire hydrant near GSIS Carmen
  15. Fire hydrant outside of XU Main Campus – Corrales Avenue
  16. Fire hydrant at XU Grade School Campus – Macasandig
  17. Fire hydrant at Elipe Park – Vamenta Blvd., Carmen
  18. Fire hydrant at Golden Heritage College – Vamenta Blvd., Carmen
  19. Fire hydrant at Jollibee – Vamenta Blvd., Carmen
  20. Fire hydrant at Julie’s Bakeshop – Vamenta Blvd., Carmen
  21. Fire hydrant at KSY – Vamenta Blvd., Carmen
  22. Fire hydrant at Capistrano Complex – Entrance of Capistrano Complex, Gusa
  23. Fire hydrant at Capitol University Medical Center – Across CUMC in Gusa
  24. Fire hydrants (4) at Rio Verde (near Xavier Estates)
  25. MWS  Water Treatment Facility at the bridge by Paseo Del Rio (near Rotunda). Those who need potable water may now bring containers to the said area.
  26. Ms Kaye’s residence, Mandumol, Cagayan de Oro City (Phone 09173055439)
  27. Shoppes at the Estates in Masterson Ave. just across Rosevale School
  28. Robillos Residence, Luminarias village, Camaman-an, CDOC (Contact Romy at +63 8822 722805 / +63 915 748 8691
  29. Naturespring, CDO Plant, Cugman Hiway, CDO (providing purified water)
  30. La Buena, Gran Europa water tanks
  31. Vista Verde Village Gate
  32. Mapawa Nature Park – for drinking (to be boiled) and washing
  33. Xavier University High School – Pueblo Campus
  34. Oro Gardens (Pryce Memorial Gardens) Gate



  1. Ravanera-Olegario & Associates, 3F Norkis Building fronting Civil Service, Vamenta Blvd, Carmen. Look for Atty. Jay Francis Bago or Rommel,Telephone 8501668


Medical Assistance

  1. Polymedic Medical Plaza – Free outpatient consultation and tetanus shots at or flood-related injuries. Doc Farina will be there everyday except Dec 20.
  2. Macasanding Evacuation Center – Wound dressing on December 19, 2011 ( please get in touch with Bert @ 09264631441)
  3. For breastfeeding please contact  Dr. Jessamine Mae C. Sareno  09175014155
  4. West City Central School – Free clinic (free medicines and relief goods will be given away. Please contact Dr. Fahad Macadato on Facebook:
  5. XU Covered Courts – Medical assistance provided by XU and German Doctors.
  6. Tabique Medical Clinic – Free medical assistance and consultation to those affected and badly hit. (Address: 1st St corner 18th Street, Nazareth, CDO)



Missing Persons

We are now using Google Person Finder to submit names & search for missing people. Please click here to access this tool. Proudly powered by Google.

List of casualties, as released by the DSWD 12-22-2011 – click here.


Apartment Search

If you can afford to take in temporary visitors, or rent out apartments, use the first link. Just in case you need a place to stay, or know someone who needs a place to stay – use the second link below.

  1. Please click on this link to list your name and apartment information as available for others  –
  2. Please click on this link to submit your name, contact information if you’re looking for a place to stay –


You may view the submitted, available apartments at this link. Persons who need that place to stay are listed here.

Online, Cash and In-Kind Donations

Below you’ll find a list of groups in the Philippines that are accepting cash and in-kind donations to help with disaster relief efforts:


Monetary Donations


1. Bank Donations


For US tax-deductible donation (in US dollars using credit card; with secured payment site). –


Account Name Bank Peso Account Number Dollar Account Number Branch Type of Account Swift Code
* Fr. Eric Garcia Velandria S.J. Xavier University BPI 9331-0133-63 BPI MAIN BRANCH CDO
Simbahang Lingkod Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan BPI 3081-1111-61 CHECKING 3084-0420-12 SAVINGS BPI Loyola-Katipunan Branch Peso Checking,

Dollar Savings

ABS-CBN Foundation I ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.-Sagip Kapamilya BPI 3051-1127-75 West Triangle, Quezon City BOPIPHMM
ABS-CBN Foundation ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.-Sagip Kapamilya BPI 3054-0270-35 West Triangle, Quezon City BOPIPHMM
ABS-CBN Foundation ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.-Sagip Kapamilya BDO 39301-14199 BNORPHMM
GMA Kapuso Foundation GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc. METROBANK 3-098-51034-7 2-098-00244-2 Savings MBTC PH MM
Tsada Edmonton Association of Alberta, Canada Tsada Edmonton Association HSBC 880-080639-080
Gawad Kalinga Gawad Kalinga BPI Edsa Greenhills 3101 0977 56 Current BOPIPHMM
Gawad Kalinga Gawad Kalinga BPI Edsa Greenhills 3104 0162 34 Savings BOPIPHMM
Angel Brigade Isdanco Foundation RCBC Main Branch – Ayala Avenue 4001577579 Savings
Smart Money Smart Money BDO 5577-5130-6822-1104 Savings
LBC Foundation LBC Hari ng Padala Foundation Inc. Banco de Oro 006958002065 Savings
Jaycees Macajalar 24K Jaycees RCBC 0095015337 Savings
Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc BDO 1768022630 Xavier University Branch Current
Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc BPI 2044006882 Savings Velez Branch, CdO Savings BOPIPHMM
St. Mary’s School Cagayan de Oro SMS Relief Operations China Bank 374-034911-2 Divisoria Branch, CDO Savings
Kagay-anon sa BC Kagay-anon sa BC Royal Bank of Canada Transit#: 00480

Account#: 100-743-4



* For Xavier University account: Those who wish to receive a receipt, please email with details of their donation (donor’s name, amount, date, receiving bank branch).


2. Credit Card / Paypal Donations


  1. Born 2 Serve – via Kizzay/Buding Balan
  2. PNRC – Phil. National Red Cross via
  3. GMA Kapuso Foundation –
  4. Pinkblood99 (Lourdes High School Batch 1999) – Paypal account: (Event details: – contact person: Rona Lipke +639176906442,
  5. Help CDO – via
  6. Help Portrait CDO – via Bryan Alano
  7. Fundraising Campaign – Typhoon Hits Southern Philippines via Coby Mendoza (US West Coast)



3.  SMS Donations


Procedure Smart Globe
PNRC – Phil. National Red Cross send RED <amount> to 4143 SMART,  2899 GLOBE.

e.g. “RED 100” , then send to 4143

Valid donation amounts for GLOBE are 5,25,50,100,300, while SMART 10,25,50,100 and will be charged to bill/load.

4143 2899


3.  Cash Donations


  1. 7-11 outlets, nationwide  (No service fees will be deducted and donors will be provided an official receipt.)



In-kind Donation Drop-off Points


Fast Logistics in Manila has volunteered to help in ferrying/trucking of relief items within Metro Manila to shipping/drop off points. Please message Bomboy Lim +639175822667 or +639228889898 on Facebook for coordination.




  1. Cagayan de Oro City
  1. GMA Kapuso Foundation – 2nd Floor, Hotel Conchita OR Capitol University Gym
  2. ABS-CBN Foundation – ABS-CBN Office, Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City
  3. DXCC Radio Mindanao Network – Velez St., in front of McArthurt Park
  5. DSWD Cagayan de Oro – located near SM Cagayan de Oro
  6. VESHA I Chapel of the Resurrection – Villa Ernesto, Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City
  7. Brew Berry Cafe – Velez-Chavez Sts, Cagayan de Oro City
  8. All Bigby’s branches
  9. Route 11, Kauswagan Highway, RER, Cagayan de Oro City (beside BPI Bank)
  10. Gawad Kalinga, Corpus Cristi School, Tomas Saco Street, Cagayan de Oro City Contact Harvey Maraguinot : 0917-8888427
  11. Scuba de Oro, JR Borja Extension, Cagayan de Oro city
  12. Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori, Recto Avenue beside Gaisano City 856-1980/ 722-366
  13. Alpha Phi Omega at Maxi’s, Dolores-Velez Streets
  14. Rosevale School in Lumbia near Xavier Estates
  15. St. Mary’s School, Mandumol, Macasandig,Cagayan de Oro City.                Mobiles: (SMART) 09208507755 and (Globe) 09178512727 (Nonong B. Palabrica)


  1. Manila
  1. DSWD Field Office  IV-A:Alabang-Zapote Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City 1770 Tel. No: (02) 807-4140Fax No: (02) 807-1518
  2.  DSWD Field Office NCR: San Rafael St., Legarda, Manila
  3.  DSWD Field Office IV-A: Alabang-Zapote Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City 1770 Tel. No.: (02) 807-4140 Fax No.: (02) 807-1518 Contact: Gina Laranan 09108860826 DSWD Field Office IV-B: 1680 F. T. Benitez St., Malate Manila. Contact: Shiela Tapia (02) 5252445
  4. Araneta Centre Cubao
  5. Negros Navigation (NN) -ATS Express Center at Pier 2
  6. NN-SuperFerry corporate ticket outlets in 1) Robinson’s Ermita, 2) Araneta Center Cubao, 3) Victory Mall Caloocan and 4) Pier 15 and 5) Pier 2.
  7. The Enderun Community Drive – Enderun Colleges, McKinley Hill, Taguig City
  8. Lasalle Greenhills – 343 Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong City
  9. Ateneo de Manila University – Diliman, Quezon City (at the Fr. Ortiz Hall, Social Development Complex)
  10. ABS-CBN Foundation – ABS-CBN, Mother Ignacia cor. Eugenio Lopez St., Quezon City
  11. All Bigby’s branches
  12. One Meralco Foundation – G\F Lopez bldg, Meralco Center, Ortigas. Call 6328301, look for Joy.
  13. Biketown Cyclery, #2240 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City, Metro Manila 1200 (Goyo Larrazabal, Tel: +63 2 387 2173
  14. G-Stop Space 125, Town Plaza, Alabang Town Center, 1780 Manila, Philippines
  15. AIM Campus in Makati
  16. Everbright International Academy, Josol Bldg. Tirona Highway (beside SM Bacoor)
  17. Victory Mall, Caloocan
  18. National Resource Operations Center (NROC) Chapel Rd. Pasay City (Back of Air Transportation Office) Contact: Francia Fabian 0918 9302356
  19. Moonleaf Cafe Maginhawa st., Quezon City
  20. Dan’s Bike Shop 13B La Fuerza Plaza Compound 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave. Makati City 1231
  21. Bike King Boni High Street, The Fort
  22.  The Starting Line Multisport Store Westgate, Alabang
  23. All Terra Bike Shop Ortigas Home Depot, Ortigas Q.C.
  24.  Second Wind Running Store Ortigas Ortigas Home Depot, Julia Vargas, Ortigas, Pasig City / tel # 914-0283
  25.  Second Wind Running Store QC 45 Malingap st., teachers village QC / tel # 238-4005
  26. Trinity Cycle Shop #41 Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City
  27. The Brick Multisport Store Mc Kinley Hill. The Fort
  28. UP Manila Office of Student Affairs Padre Faura St, Ermita, Manila
  29.  Word Community Church – 352 Capt. Henry Javier St. Brgy. Oranbo, Pasig City 1600 Philippines (This is near Ultra and Valle Verde Counrty Club. A donations drive spearheaded by Jojo Lastimosa)
  30. ALL McDonald’s Branches in Luzon
  31. All LBC Branches


  1. Cebu
  1. Warehouse in Cebu, please call Karen Lim 09176211622 or Luvella 09175975124
  2. Bigby’s at Ayala Centre Cebu or SM Cebu
  3. Citi Church, Salinas Drive, Lahug (near Waterfront Hotel and IT Park)
  4. ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya, Fuente Osmena Circle
  5. Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu
  6. Any LBC Branch
  7. Stream Global Services: 7/f i2 Bldg, IT Park, Apas, Cebu City
  8. Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Incorporated, Lopez Jaena Street
  9. Aegis Tower – Villa St., Asiatown, IT Park, Lahug, Cebu City
  10. ALL McDonald’s Branches


  1. Bacolod
  1. ALL McDonald’s branches


  1. Bukidnon
  1. Malaybalay – DILG Office, Capitol Grounds


  1. Davao
  1. Cubepixels Design Studio – Wheels N’ More Compound, JP Laurel Ave, Bajada, Davao City (Telefax: +63 82 2250362)
  2. Southern Philippines Medical Center (formerly Davao Medical Center) – JP Laurel Ave, Bajada, Davao City
  3. Crea8tech Solutions Office –  Dr. 6, Gutierrez Apt., J. Abad Santos corner Mabini Street, Davao City


  1. JRS EXPRESS – All nationwide outlets, contact +632 631 7351-56


  1. Mail and More, Air21PH – all nationwide outlets


  1. PhilHealth Regional Office 10 can accept provincial donations coursed through the following PhilHealth Regional Offices and contact persons:
  1. PhRO 1 – Jose Quiton – 0917-420-7677
  2. PhRO 4B – Cyril Balmaceda – 0905-240-2785
  3. PhRO 7 – Jenet Ann Advincula – 0917-325-4423
  4. PhRO 9 – Ed Faustino – 0908-864-7864
  5. PhRO 11 – Jayjay Angala – 0922-807-4411 / Patrick Uy – 0917-706-8596 / Filbert Sollesta – 0920-938-0744
  6. PhRO 12 – Dr. Miriam Grace Pamonag – 0922-878-8463




  1. USA
  1. LBC Offices nationwide
  2. Shipmate Warehouse, 7404 Grand Ave Elmhurst NY 11373 for 25$ only. Dropped off (at Warehouse in NY) and Picked up (14th St., Extension Tomas Saco in Nazareth, CdO. Call Grace Barcelona at 858-1238) ONLY. Shipping on 30 December 2011.
  3. Texas – Goods can only be sent free of charge to foundations (Suggestion: Send to Capitol University Foundation, Corrales Extension, Cagayan de Oro City)
  1. Filipiniana, 9671 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77036
  2. Filipiniana (1960 Location), 4051 Cypress Creek Parkway, Houston, TX 77068
  3. House of Chicken, 10950 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77099
  4. Pinoy Kargo, 13329 Veterans Memorial Dr. Suite P, Houston, TX 77014
  1. Southern California – UCCI Mindanao Express, 1335 W. Willow St., Long Beach, CA 90810. All donations will be shipped for free.
  1. Canada
  1. AIMS Human Resource and Immigration Inc. – Suncor Energy Centre, West Tower, Suite 3000, 150 – 6th Avenue SW Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3Y7 (formerly Petro-Canada Tower) Telephone: 403.457.6201
  2. Kagay-anon sa BC – Telephone : 604-439-7539 or 604-544-2572  or email



  1. Japan
  1. Transtech Balikbayan Box, 1-7-18 Shinkiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan 136-0082


LBC –  For LBC International, please see participating branches below. They will directly send to LBC Foundation Philippines whose NGO partner in Cagayan de Oro is Red Cross.

  1.  KSA – Store 14-16 Abi Alabass co. Murshdi Sts. Al Batha District Riyadh, KSA
  2.  UAE –  Mubarak Khalifa Bldg 75 Shop 4 10D St Al Karama, Dubai, UAE
  3. Singapore – LBC Aircargo 2/F Lucky Plaza 304 Orchard Road Singapore
  4. HK – Worldwide 1, 2 & 33/F Worldwide House 19 Des Veoux Road Central HK
  5. HK – Tsuen Wan Branch 2/F Liksang Plaza 269 Castle Peak Road Tseun Wan, New Territory
  6. HK -Hung Hom Branch G/F Planet Square 1-15 Takman St Hunghom, Kowloon
  7. HK – Northpoint Branch G/F Blk 7-14 Garden 233 Electric Road
  8. HK – To Kwa Wan Warehouse 2/F On Lok Factory Bldg. Blk C.  88-90 Kawloon City Road Tokwawan, Kowloon
  9. HK – Kennedy Warehouse 20/F Hongkong Industrial Bldg 444-456 Des Veoux Road, West HK
  10. Brunei – G-06 Badiah Complex Jalan Tutong, BSB
  11. Malaysia – G/F Kota Raya Complex Lot G.13 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, KL
  12. Malaysia  – B11 4.08 Complex Tun Abdul Razak Georgetown, Pulau Penang
  13. Taiwan –  No. 27-1 Chung Shan North Road, Sec. 3 Chung Shan District, Taipei City
  14. Taiwan – No. 360-5 Demin Rd. Nantzu District, Kaohsuing
  15. Taiwan – No. 34 Lane 62, Chung Cheng Road Taoyuan
  16. United Kingdom –   Unit 9, Victoria Industrial Estate, Victoria Road, Acton, W3 6UU
  17. Spain – Calle Doctor Cirajas # 12 Planta Calle 28017 Madrid Spain
  18. Spain – C/Roure 2-4 Poligono Mas Mateu El Prat De Llobregat, 08829, Barcelona
  19. Italy – Via Calatafimi 20, 00185 Rome, Italy
  20. Italy – Privata Turro #8, Milan, 20127 Italy
  21. Canada – 103-1595 West Broadway Vancouver, BC V6J1W
  22. Canada – 4500 Sheppard Ave East Unit #2 Scarborough, ON M1S 3R6
  23. USA – All branches – Northern California, Southern California, Virginia Beach, Nevada, Illionois, New Jersey, New York, Washington State, Oregaon, Hawaii. Please check for branch details.

To the movies…

11 Dec

I am probably a cinema Scrooge.

I don’t think I’m a miserly old man bah-humbugging going to the cinema and I am miserly when it comes to shelling out the money for a movie ticket.  I love movies, whether in the cinema or on the couch at home.  I love the movie watching experience and I go the whole hog.  I make sure I have great seats, movie snacks and the appropo beverage (more often than not a diet soda.).  I love watching movies enough to go to the cinema alone.  When I needed time away from the world in the Philippines, I’d nip out and watch a movie alone.  I was there in a quiet part of the movie theatre, with my soda and my popcorn happily muching away while staring at the huge screen.

I love being able to watch a movie in peace.  I take great pains in making sure I’m sitting where there isn’t anyone to block the view and the area is quiet enough so I can watch AND listen to the conversation in the movie.  It doesn’t matter whether I’m sitting in the front or way in the back.  I just want to make sure I’m sitting where is quiet and my view is unrestricted and there aren’t a lot of people around me.  I get really irritable when there are conversations about the movie around because I try so hard to munch on my movie snacks quietly so I don’t interrupt anyone else’s movie-watching pleasure (although I really think it’s just that I’m becoming ornery in my old age—grumpy thirty-something alert!), the least some people could do is to try and not ruin anyone else’s movie-watching pleasure too.

At the cinema


4 Dec

I was supposed to post the surprisingly good parody of the John Lewis advert that Channel 4 did for Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas special.  Mind you, I don’t like the guy very much as I think the man is a pompous so-and-so, BUT, that parody was quite good!

And because someone’s decided not to share their toys and throw a hissyfit, the youtube video’s been marked “private” and I can’t share it with you.


Turning the air blue

18 Oct

I would like to think that I’m not too much of a delicate soul.  I’d like to think that I’ve grown up a little, am not to wide-eyed with wonder, slightly toughened up and a little more street-smart now.  But street-smart and toughened up does not mean accepting that having to swear every other sentence is the norm, not in my books anyway.

Since I’ve moved to the UK, I’ve learned more swear phrases than I care to mention.  Mind you, people are always mostly polite and when they do blurt out an expletive, I find it endearing when they apologise for it by saying something like, “Oh pardon my french!”

I never realised, really, how disruptive to one’s psyche swearing is.  I was raised to never swear.  I remember once, when I started using the S word, my father sat me down and gave me a stern lecture about how a lady should never swear, and all his children were raised to behave properly.  Also, being someone who has grown up in church, I was taught that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…” (Philippians 4:8) that is how we should behave.

I work with someone who has a penchant (and that’s a gross understatement) for swearing.  It seems like there is a swear word in every other sentence.  When I first started working with her, it was a novelty…and I thought I could cope.  I still cannot believe that a woman, a mother would have such a potty mouth!  I find myself gritting my teeth and actually swearing, too, in my head.  She would probably laugh this off and say something flippant like, “Oh I do love having someone to corrupt!”  But I very, very rarely swear and I find that I do it more and more in my head now.  I find myself in constant prayer for patience, for God to make her stop swearing and for my tongue to stick to the roof of my mouth, so I, myself, don’t swear, even in thought.

There are days when I find myself looking up to check whether the air hasn’t turned blue yet with all the swearing.  I’ve asked that she not swear, and she tries to humour me (which includes remarks about not being allowed to swear).  This lasts a few hours and then she reverts back to type.

I find it very unnerving that she does not make more of an effort.  I make an effort to adjust to her, shall we say, quirks, the least she can do in return is respect my sensitivities.  It’s not an environment that I want to be in, and it’s not an environment that I feel particularly productive in.

I’m at my wits’ and patience’s end, really.


Woman Swearing, from


Photo credits:

Woman swearing –

Service is as service does!

26 Jul

I think when you come from a customer service background, you’re quicker to spot customer service booboos and shortcomings.  I’m a firm believer that the way customers are treated make the restaurant.  It’s mostly the staff and how the staff treat their patrons that tips the balance.  I have places that I love that may not necessarily be the best places to eat, but because the service is amazing and, when I go there, I feel important and valued (no matter how much my tab is and no matter how much of a tip I leave), it’s on my list of great places to have a meal at.  During my recent London sojourn I ate at 2 different Chinese restaurants and let me just say that one restaurant offered stellar service while the other one has been tossed into my “do not visit ever again” pile.

A Tale of Two Restaurants

HK Diner, Chinatown, London
After I’d done my whistle stop pilgrimage to the Methodist Museum (it was after 5pm, so naturally, the museum was closed and all I had was a measly 7 snapshots!) it was decided that we’d go to Chinatown for dinner.  I’d been looking forward to dinner for a long time because it had been decided AGES ago that dinner would be at Tai Ka Lok.

HK Diner, Chinatown, LondonHaving dinner at Tai Ka Lok is like having dinner at your Chinese aunt’s place (I’m not Chinese, but in my head having a meal at Tai Ka Lok would be like having a meal at one’s Chinese aunt–stereotyping, I know!  Tres guilty!).  It’s very pared down and very simple.  You get the menu, you get the free soup as an appetiser, they bring you your food, you eat (of course after you finish eating, you pay!).  The roasted meats are amazing (my absolute favourite is the crispy pork but their version of the pork mapo tofu is amazing too!) and you can see that a lot of people like eating at Tai Ka Lok because the table turnover is hard and fast (mind you, even though the table turnover is quick, you never really feel that you’re being rushed through your meal and I feel that’s a sign of great customer service!).

But, I digress!  Anyway, there we were walking towards Tai Ka Lok when we noticed the front window was papered with…well, newspaper.  Apparently, the restaurant was being refurbished so they said to go to another restaurant.  One of the suggestions was HK Diner.  So off we went to HK Diner.

I’d pooh-poohed HK Diner for such a long time because I didn’t really think it was going to be as good as my Chinatown favourites Tai Ka Lok and New World (dimsum on trolleys! YUM!).  But as we were hungry and the other option wasn’t something we wanted to try (and it was very forgettable as I can’t remember the name now!), we decided to risk HK Diner.  If it was a bad experience, we’d just never come back.  But surprise, surprise!  The place was light, airy and somehow comforting.  We were shown into a huge booth and were handed menus.  The chinese tea came right away, steaming hot, and after we’d placed our orders, the food came shortly after!  The service was quick and the staff were very friendly and helpful.  I loved the fact that they asked us if everything was okay and if we needed anything else (mind you, in hindsight, it might’ve been their way of hurrying us along, but at the time we were none the wiser and it didn’t feel like we were being prodded along).

Also, and this was my favourite bit, when we asked for the leftover food to be wrapped up they gave us chopsticks!  They gave us the generic packet that has a plastic soup spoon, chopsticks and a paper napkin.  Mind you, it doesn’t take a long time to plonk that into a bag, but the thought process behind that take home packet of utensils was what I admired.  Now that is service!

Hung Tao, Queensway, London
I had high hopes for this place.  It looked clean, and airy and the food hanging by the window looked well-cooked (I’m a sucker for crispy duck!).

It was clean and airy.  But that’s where my commendations stop.  We were greeted in a hurried fashion and led to a table, with menus placed on the table unceremoniously.  I wasn’t alarmed then because, really, you were in, you were made to sit, and you were given a menu to peruse, you were given food, you ate, you paid, you were out.  That was fine.  Nothing unusual.

I made a point of asking for a pot of Chinese tea as I was removing my coat.  I was thirsty and it was a bit chilly outside as it was just starting to rain.  It was a good thing I ordered the tea because it took them ages to take our order.

After looking at the menu, we’d decided to each get a rice plate with our choice of meats.  After ages trying to catch they eye of waitstaff (after seeing people who arrived after we did get served first!), I guess they finally took pity and came to take our orders.  I still wasn’t disappointed at this point.  But the seeds of doubt about the service came when the girl, with pen poised over pad, took note of our choices.

I chose the roasted two combination with rice, which was a plate of rice (it was a huge plate of rice that my brother would’ve devoured I think!) and your choice of roasted meat (I think you can choose from crispy duck, soy chicken, char siu pork and crispy pork).  I was waiting for her to ask me which roasted meats I wanted but she didn’t.  So I had to ask her to make sure I had crispy duck and soy chicken.  She looked at me with this little frown on her face.  I guess she expected me to get crispy pork and duck—or whatever was the popular choice.  The frown was still there as she wrote down my choice.  To go with our rice plates, we asked to have stirfried vegetables.

And then the waiting continued.  It took them about 25 minutes to get our orders and it took them nearly twice as long to bring our food.  It wasn’t until I noticed that people who had arrived before we did were served first and were given their orders first that I started feeling little niggles of irritation.  What was up with that?!?  And to add insult to injury, the meats arrived cold, my duck had bones with tiny little shards of shattered duck bone everywhere.  I thought the duck was deboned before you got served it?

There was a couple who were seated beside us who looked at the food we got when it arrived.  They asked us what we ordered and we described it.  When a member of staff came to take their orders it was so painful to hear and watch.  There was a language barrier, definitely.  But with the customer pointing to what they wanted and the member of staff insisting they wanted something else, it was all I could do to stop myself from getting involved.  They finally got their orders, but I don’t know if they really got what they ordered because by the time we’d finished and paid our tab, their food hadn’t arrived yet.

The food was good, albeit being cold (I guess they expected the rice to warm it up.  Didn’t happen, buddy!) and I was happy with the flavours.  But it really was the service that ruined the experience for me.  The waitstaff seemed to have a system of prioritising customers which I couldn’t understand.  I’m not asking to be waited on hand and foot.  But nearly and hour of waiting to be fed is not funny.

Nuff said.


Photo credits:

HK Diner –
Hung Tao – The London Evening Standard

To Live or To Die?

22 Jun

Yesterday, in the morning, I was sleepily reading through my Twitter timeline when the train driver apologised for the non-movement of the train.  To be honest, in the back of my mind, I was wondering why we weren’t moving from the Mistley platform.  Apparently, at Manningtree, someone had attempted suicide (I’m assuming it was by jumping on the tracks) but was apprehended by the police.  There was a “congestion” of trains on the platforms at Manningtree because of this and this was the reason for our train’s non-movement.

I was mentally thinking, “People with suicidal intentions are selfish!  Why attempt suicide at the busiest time of the day and inconvenience the rest of the world?”  After having said that, I had a bit of a think.  I am not normally insensitive to other people’s feelings.  I tend to be a bit more considerate as I will, more often than not, adjust according to what is best for everyone.

My stand on suicide is a bit more inflexible though.  Suicide should NEVER be an option.  There is always something else, some other way out, some other solution, some other way of dealing with a problem.  Life is too changeable to just want to end it.  And besides, the old adage of life being like a wheel (sometimes you’re on top, sometimes you’re on the bottom)?  That’s pretty much true.  Things will get better and they always do.  It’s never really bad all the time.  There are wonderfully good times, even if there are only snatches of it.  And I believe that the good times, however few and far in between, are worth staying alive for.

I am blessed to have faith that bolsters me when things are difficult.  And when I hear news about people committing suicide, I just wish they had the reassurance that I have from my faith, because it gets me through the toughest thing.