August 27, 2007

Magnets on the wall

I installed my Magnetic Poetry Kit this week in my new office and below are the lines my boss composed (the last one's my favorite):

"I need people to let me relax & drink" Sweet! Looks like I'm going to enjoy working here.

My Betty Crocker diploma

As a kid who grew up in the kitchen(in more ways than one), one of my childhood dreams was to someday own an oven and bake the yummiest cakes and pastries to satisfy all my sweet tooth cravings. I got one step closer to that dream when Tita Lorna gave us an oven as a "wedding" present last month (laGermania 4 burner oven with grill. Yahoo!). I've experimented on a couple of dishes already but I haven't been as daring in the baking department. I decided I should take it one step at a time (I wish it could be like those the Sims characters where you just read a cookbook and you get 1 skill point). My mom is supposed to fax me her recipes but since she hasn't gotten around to doing that yet, I've decided to try a hand on the instant stuff first. Brownies, courtesy of Pilsbury instant brownie mix, was my first venture. Not bad. As delicious as instant brownies go. My next experiment was chocolate cake. For this I had to invoke Betty Crocker and again, it wasn't bad but not as good as something from scratch.

I think my next project should be...cookies! haha I'm already excited thinking about it! Maybe I'll get myself a mixer and some cookie cutters next pay day. One of my goals this year is to perfect my cookie recipe in time for Christmas. So, to all my dear friends reading this, expect Jampacked's special cookies this Yuletide season =)

August 26, 2007

Quick! Hand me my Aquanet!

Hairspray is definitely one of the happiest movies I've seen in a long long time. Tracy Turnblad's energy (played by Nikky Blonski) is simply contagious! Not only am I inspired by her optimism to change the world, but her confidence makes me believe that I, too, can dance for a TV show...hahaha! I just hope they weren't using real aerosol hairsprays during the shoot. The amount of CFC released during the Corny Collins scenes were alarming =p

I have a feeling I'll be watching it again soon. In the meantime, hand me my Aquanet! I need to get me some huge hair and a plaid headband.

Thanks Nikki for the autograph

Here's one of my favorite scenes from the movie. Enjoy!

August 24, 2007

Breakfast Bleeeeeech

Breakfast this morning reminded me of why I don't like eating at Jollibee. Whatever you do, don't ever try their Chicken Tocino. It tastes like devil shit. Totally ruined my morning. Give me McDo Longga meal any day!

August 20, 2007

Heroes new season

THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS! The new season of Heroes starts September 24!

Speaking of seasons, guess which show is also starting a new season on September 19! Bwahaha! Bimbo central all over again.

Rick & Steve - The Happiest Gay Couple

After Queer as Folk and L Word, here come's Rick & Steve:The Happiest Gay Couple from Logo TV. Its simply hilarious!!! And guess what RICK'S PINOY!!! This makes the show even more hilarious! Here's a clip from the pilot episode but there are loads in YouTube. Check out user derhindemith's channel for uploaded shows.

Ecce Homo

Artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin's Ecce Homo exhibition opens our minds to modern gay interpretations of religious iconogrpahy.

Marketing AIDS

More here.

August 18, 2007

Vietnam: My Globe Trekker tribute

I've been a fan of Globe Trekker ever since the show was still called "Lonely Planet" on Discovery Channel a couple of years ago. Travel tales from Justine Shapiro, Ian Wright and Megan McCormick have inspired me to dream endlessly of exploring the old castles of Europe, the Giza Pyramids and the ancient civilizations of South America. While Pau and I haven't gone out of South East Asia yet, I think we've pretty much covered 80% of it - from the tourist traps of Chatuchak and Orchard Road to the less visited sites of Angkor and Hoi An. Maybe someday I'll write about our past adventures but for now, I've had enough of Buddhist monks, old European colonies and emerging economies. Anyway, going back to Globe Trekker, what better way to end my Vietnam blogs than a tribute to the show who inspired me to explore the world in the first place. Here's my tribute Globe Trekker jampackedbear-style. Enjoy!

Vietnam: Traditional water puppets

Wth all the noise about the local Avenue Q production, I think it'd be interesting to show another form of puppetry - Vietnamese water puppets.

Water puppetry is performed in a chest-deep pool of water, with the water's surface as a stage. The puppeteers stand behind a curtained backdrop. First performed a thousand years ago on the surface of ponds and paddy fields in Vietnam's Red River Delta, water puppetry (roi nuoc in Vietnamese) is the lively creation of farmers who spent their days in flooded rice fields. At some point, they discovered that the water was an excellent medium for puppetry: it not only concealed the puppeteers' rod and string mechanisms, but it also provided exciting effects like waves and splashes.

The water also provides the best setting for the puppeteers' theme: day-to-day village life. Water puppets bring wry humor to scenes of farming, fishing, festival events such as buffalo fights, and children's games of marbles and coin-toss. Fishing turns into a game of wits between the fisherman and his prey, with the fisherman getting the short end (often capturing his surprised neighbor by mistake). Besides village life, scenes include legends and national history. Lion dogs romp like puppies while dragons exhale smoke and shoot sprays of water at the audience. Performances of up to 18 short scenes are usually introduced by a pig-tailed bumpkin known as Teu, and accompanied by a small folk orchestra." - the Puppetry

Free Krispy Kreme

Craving for a Krispy Kreme donut? Here's how you can get one for free:

1.) Visit their Bonifacio Global City branch and stand in front of the display counter.
2.) Pretend you're having a hard time choosing the donut you want.
3.) The staff gets a freshly baked glazed number and hands it out to you for free.

This happened to us twice so it must a regular operational procedure. Of course, you have to order another one (or maybe a whole dozen!) to satisfy your craving because one donut is bitin. Hmmm...thinking about it now I think its a great marketing strategy. I wonder what happens if someone just gets the donut and leave without buying? hahaha

Seeking Refuge at Fully Booked

Pau and I found refuge from "Egay" last night in Fully Booked-Bonifacio Global City. I've always enjoyed book browsing and shopping in Fully Booked but this branch raises the experience to another level. What I especially love about this branch (aside from the books of course) is the music collection. Other branches of Fully Booked carry a music collection but I think this branch is where they store the good stuff. I'm not talking about chart toppers or the latest R&B sensations but hard to find stuff like great movie soundtracks, rare jazz reissues and lots of classical albums. It's gives the impression that whoever put together the collection know who its shoppers are. Definitely a far cry from your local Radio City. The only disappointment I had with the branch was it's video collection. I was half hoping I'd stumble into an HMV with loads of DVD documentaries, TV series and music concerts but that wasn't the case. I guess the local market isn't ready for that yet. But hey, its "Fully Booked" right? And as far as the books go, the store's definitely worth the visit.

August 16, 2007

Vietnam: Magnificent Halong Bay

One thing a tourist in Vietnam should never miss is Halong Bay - another UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Vietnam's most popular attractions. Booking a tour for Halong Bay is easy because it is widely featured in all of Hanoi's travel agencies (there should be around 1 or 2 agencies in every street in the Old Quarter). Tours range from 1 day to 3 days. Pau and I scouted for the best 1 day deal and we found one for $30 inclusive of transfers, lunch on a junk, entrance ticket to other attractions in the bay plus a 5 hour cruise. Other operators go as low as $20 for a 4 hour cruise but this agent promised us a VIP boat with only 14 other passengers. This was also the only agent who could converse well in English and for some reason this made her sound more reliable.

I've seen how beautiful the bay looked in guidebooks and websites but nothing could have prepared me for the real thing. Just a few minutes out on the sea and you are greeted by magnificent limestone peaks jutting out of nowhere. It was just island after island after island rising spectacularly out of the emerald green waters. A lot of times I felt like I was in the scene in Lord of the Rings where Frodo and his friends were greeted by a gigantic gate with two stone guards on each side. It was simply awesome.

spectacular scenery

The first stop in the cruise was a floating fish pond where you can fish for your lunch. A selection of crabs, HUGE prawns (which were more like lobsters), HUGE fish (which looked like baby sharks) and fresh shellfish were cultivated in nets hanging into the ocean waiting for the next hungry tourist to catch them. I wanted to catch one for myself but the fish sells for $17/kilo. Bummer.

floating fishpond

Kids selling local fruits to tourists at lunchtime

While the passengers got busy on the fish pond, the crew on board prepared lunch Vietnamese style - spring rolls, soup, noodles, fish, wanton and french fried(yep, that how Vietnamese call it. I wonder if they have twister fried or criss cut fried as well haha). After lunch, passengers had the option of exploring a small nearby cave or just lounge on the boat. Those who wanted to explore the cave had to rent a smaller boat for VnD 30,000 or $1.8) per person. Pau had a mini-adventure and this was what he had to say:

getting on the smaller boat

The next couple of hours was spent cruising. This was the best part of the journey for me. There I was lounging on the roof deck with spectacular scenery in every angle. One interesting thing I saw were sea eagles circling then swooping down on the ocean to fish (very National Geographic). I was hoping to see Dolphins but our guide said there weren't any in the area.

360 degree view of the bay

The next stops were two HUGE caves which, for me, were boring because I'm not a cave-person =p

tour mates from Laos and Saigon
(I think I blend in perfectly hehe)

At around 5pm, we arrive back on Halong City for the 3-hour ride back to Hanoi. The long bus ride to Halong Bay and back was worth it. The only thing I regret was not getting the 2-day tour. It must have been spectacular to spend the night on the bay, fall asleep under the stars and experience sunrise with the breathtaking scenery. Oh well, there's always a next time. This experience is definitely one of the beach retreats you can get for less than P1500.

sunset on the way back to Halong City

Me and Pau aboard the junk

August 14, 2007

Vietnam: King of the road

They come unannounced, a whole swarm of them. No, not flies or bugs but motorbikes, lots and lots and LOTS of motorbikes. You can't miss them. They go "beet beet" in all hours of the day without stopping for pedestrians, cars or red stop lights. They stop whenever they wish - in the middle of the road, in front of an approaching vehicle or on the sidewalk. They turn corners whenever they feel like it. Never mind if there's a van approaching the same corner on the opposite direction or the vehicle in front of them has stopped to comply with the traffic light. Its an extension of their family, they pack loads of produce on its back to sell in the big city, they pile 3 or four kids between two adults and they text while zigzagging in and out of traffic. What else can I say? They are the kings of the Vietnamese roads and you be damned if you can't live with them.

Vietnam: Shopping for history in Hoi An

A wall advertisement in our Hanoi hotel reads "the best way to see Vietnam is to get out of the city and into the coutryside". I couldn't agree more. My most memorable days in the country were spent in Hue, Halong and Hoi An - especially Hoi An.

Hoi An, a 16th century port town in Central Vietnam, is home to a functional yet beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. In it you can loose yourself in a maze of ancient shops, cafes and museums offering goods and services anywhere from traditional Vietnamese crafts, art galleries and souvenirs to customized suits and shoes. What I liked most about this town is the mix of authenticity and modernity. The structures have retained their traditional facades yet you see no signs of tacky attempts at renovation or rebuilding. Wooden display cases might have given way to glass and plastic, but the shops still remain open to the street instead of being air conditioned. The younger generation of shopkeepers who sport the latest hairstyle and fashion still interact with farmers in conical hats who peddle fresh produce around the city.

carving made out of bamboo roots

fresh baguettes in the local market

traditional lanters on display

I had a blast designing my own sneakers for only $20(see video), scanning gallery after gallery for an art find and just sitting on the town plaza people watching. It was funny because some locals would come up to us and ask where we were from and whenever we'd say "Philippines", they would acknowledge but not really know where the Philippines was. I guess Filipinos are rare in places outside the well known tourist locations.

Another place which makes Hoi An special is the food but that deserves a separate entry on its own. Hoi An is also the perfect place to set up base if you want to explore the My Son ruins (think Angkor Wat but older). Overall, the town is a charming retreat where Vietnamese culture is still very much alive and where motorbikes haven't taken over every inch of the street.

petitions and incense in one of the ancient temples

monk's bell

catching up by the river

August 13, 2007

Vietnam: Where Ms. Manners is as alive as Uncle Ho

Find me at least 10 Viets-on-the-street with manners and I'll bet a million Dong they were educated outside the country. In the past 3 days in Hanoi, I have been shoved, pinched, pointed at, stared at, tapped, kicked and almost run over without as much as a word from the doer of the action. In a country where "excuse me" or "thank you" is not part of everyday life, its hard to spend a day without feeling unwelcome. Yes the hotel employees, tour operators and shopkeepers are warm and friendly (definitely not like their Hong Kong counterparts who shoo windowshoppers and scold tourists), but that's just about as much hospitality as you can get. Food attendants, taxi drivers and even those working as attendants in tourist attractions would rather ignore you than acknowledge your question (the ticketgirl at the Municipal Theater where they have the water puppet show made us wait in front of her while she took a very long mobile call, issued tickets to another customer and played with her daughter). Is this just a simple case of unsophistication or are these people just rude? I'd like to think its the former resulting from a lot of other factors.

First, majority of the modern day Viets are of Chinese descent. If you've seen how rural / provincial Chinese live then you would know what I mean. Unlike the Chinese in the Philippines who have been inculturated, educated, and enjoy a decent way of life or the Singaporeans or HongKongese who live with first world standards, Chinese Viets still peddle their wares on the street, congregate on groups of four on sidewalk cafes, squat on small stools eating noodles and sipping tea, cook and clean their dishes on the sidewalk and throw their garbage wherever they wish.

The second reason why they may be like this is because they don't know any better. Those I've met who do know basic rules of courtesy practice it. If this is the case then the Tourism Authority needs to launch a massive education campaign immediately.

The last reason I can think of is because they have recently welcomed tourism and capitalism to their shores. As new WTO members and a booming tourist destination, the locals still have to cope with the effects of modernization - more cars vs motorbikes, traffic lights (which riders are still familiarizing themselves with), road rules (which still have to be implemented) and road safety (a major issue for a population who refuses to wear helmets on the road).

Vietnam might be catching up on education, commerce and technology but they have a long way to go if it wants to be as tourist friendly as there Siamese neighbors.

August 10, 2007

Nothing but springrolls

The first hitch yet so far in this Vietnam trip is the sudden change in flight schedule. We were supposed to get a Danang-Hanoi flight at 745 but we learned upon checking in that the new flight schedule was moved to 845. Bummer! Now were left with more than an hour of waiting time in this airport. Well, at least I discovered they had free Wi-Fi (and lucky for me I have a Wi-Fi phone. I don't see any computer terminals around. Suddenly I feel so techy. Ooh I'm a mobile blogger =p).
Vietnam has been very interesting so far. In fact, the most exotic place I've been ever. Maybe I'll write about all our adventures here someday but for now I just want to talk about food. Before coming here, I've always wondered why Lonely Planet dedicated a book to Vietnamese cuisine when, from previous experiences restaurents like Pho Hoa nd Pho Bac, the food wasn't that great. All my doubts were erased when we had a culinary adventure in Hue and Hoi An. Never had I tasted flavors so interesting and subtle. Imagine meat and vegetables with a bit of saltiness from Chinese food, and a bit of spicyness from Thai food plus the aroma of herbs mixed in a bowl of white noodle soup or fried in rice paper. Mmmm! I love the spring rolls so much, we've been ordering it with every meal for the last 5 days. One order(usually priced at VnD 25000 or P50) gets you 8pcs with dip(not Jufran mind you but a clear vinegar-type dip)...Oops were boarding. Later.

August 7, 2007

Jobhunt Chronicles #4 - Transitioning with friends

Like everything in life, each step you take is sweeter when there is someone else holding your hand. It so happened that I was part of an exodus from my last company so there now there is a whole group of us starting new careers, swapping opportunity leads, compiling a directory of headhunters and fitting in new office niches in Makati and Ortigas. In the age of email, Multiply and YM you don't need to be in the same office anymore to remain friends. Sometimes we still get together and bitch about the old days but its the friendship we've nurtured that binds us together. The dreamer in me wishes that we can all be working together again someday. Maybe put up our own events firm or a marketing consultancy but I guess that'll have to wait. For now we're having too much fun comparing new bosses, nitpicking employee benefits and analyzing new officemates.

August 5, 2007

Jobhunt Chronicles #3 Headhunters and Job Sites

When job hunting, get a friend to refer you to Human Resources or apply directly to corporate websites. Headhunters give you false hope (not all but most) and JobStreet does nothing else but gather leads for clients. Most clients bypass Jobstreet anyway and ask you to send an email directly to their HR. Between Jobstreet and JobsDB, prioritize your JobsDB account. I've been part of JobStreet since graduation and so far I've had less than 10 interviews. JobsDB gave me 3 interviews in less than 6 months.

August 3, 2007

Attacking boredom with creativity

Check out this Audi "Rhythm of Lines" campaign that let's you discover your hidden artist. Be careful though, it can get very addictive but its a creative way to pass the time. Below is a snapshot of my work =)

Bahay Kubesh

Sung to the tune of Bahay Kubo. Reposted from JessicarulestheUniverse

Valer kuberch, kahit jutay
Ang julamantrax donchi ay anek-anek.
Nyongkamas at nutring, nyogarilyas at kipay
Nyitaw, nyotaw, jutani.
Kundol, jutola, jupot jolabastrax
At mega join-join pa, jobanox nyustasa.
Nyubuyax, nyomatis, nyowang at luyax
And around the keme ay fulnes ng linga.

Hilarious! I predict this won't be the last of it

Jobhunt Chronicles #2 - Not all HR VPs are created equal

In the course of my job interviews, I've met a couple of HR VPs worth telling the world about. As persons holding high management offices under "HUMAN RESOURCES", you'd expect a certain kind of stature, bearing or demeanor. More so if they deal with potential members of their organization or are responsible for wooing new talents to pump up the current roster. I discovered that not all HR VP's are born of the same mold.

Case #1
Do not judge the book by its cover.

Is it possible to imagine a Filipino VP of one of the biggest brands in the country who doesn't speak English? Leave it to my luck to discover this rare gem. I had my first Tagalog interview EVER with this person and not because it was out of nationalism or patriotism, but because it was lack of skills in speaking English. At one point I found myself wondering if this was a practical joke the employer was playing on me. It didn't help that he did not look like a VP at all. Picture everything you DON'T expect an executive to look like and he's your guy. Believe it or not, the first description that popped into my head was "retired bus driver" followed by "MMDA" followed by "Jollyjeep operator" (Jollyjeeps are those small canteens set-up along the streets of Salcedo and Legaspi. Consider them the the modern and mobile versions of the neighborhood carenderia). The friend who endorsed me for the interview warned that this was an SEC DE company. How was I to know she meant the management and not the market? =p

se # 2
Non-profit for Profit

"I need people who are willing to take two steps back (in career advancement and compensation) and dedicate themselves selflessly to the objectives of the company"

OK STOP. Which industry VP do you think this statement most likely originated from? An NGO fighting for the rights of Cordillera tribal ancestry and heritage? A political organization dedicated to improve the conditions of the urban poor? A religious company focusing on spreading the good news through its media products?

BUZZ! None of the above. This actually came from someone in the most profitable category of all - FMCG. This is perhaps the biggest corporate crap I've heard so far. How dare do capitalists ask their people to step back and dedicate themselves without question when they just sit behind their fancy desks and count the cash flow? It's one thing to openly say that a business needs to make a profit but another to actually recruit employees who would voluntarily be underpaid and underemployed for the good of the profit. We're not improving lives and working towards a greater good here. This one is all about making people spend more on things they don't need. This is just a dayjob honey. Its not life.

August 2, 2007

Bag-ong Diskowberey

My friend Louis sent me this link to Tan-awa unya. Mabuang kag katawa! HAHAHAHA! Mogawas imong pagka-bisdak!


At Dunkin Donuts:

Counter Crew: Ma’am, what’s your order?”

Ma’am: Uhm, I want the…ano…kanang ham and cheese BANWIT


Gasoline Station sa Banawa.

Gas Girl: Agay! Akong napaak akong dila! Number, number!

Gas Boy: Seven.

Gas Girl: Seven. A…B…C…D…E…F..G…kinsa man akong kaila nga gasugod ug “G” ang pangan oi…

Gas Boy: Si JUN-JUN!


4:00 AM, on board a 10K Jeep to Pardo, Cebu City:

Nakatupad ko’g mag-uyab who were both working at a call center. They were arguing about something.

Girl: I know what you did! I know people from your account. They tell me things.

Guy: Huh? Babes, I woke up late. That’s why I was late. I even called my Supe. You ask her!

Girl: Why are you DEFENSING yourself???


Radio interview, Cagayan de Oro, 12:25 pm, July 27, 2007:

Announcer: Sa imong tan-aw Misis, unsa gyud kaha ang hinungdan nganong gipakatap man sa maong foreigner ang imong mga hubo nga hulagway sa internet?

Misis: Wa gyud ko kasayod ngano iya man gi-post ang akong mga PECS sa internet. Wa gyud ko kabalo unsa gyud ang iyang MOTIFF.

Jobhunt Chronicles #1 - a pleasant dillema

In 3 weeks I will be joining my 4th company in 7 years as wage earner. The name and the industry I will make my mark on still remains to be the question. You see right now I have a very unique problem of having to choose from 3 different opportunities each with its set of pros and cons.

First there's Company A, a media conglomerate about to launch an international brand into the telecommunications arena. This is the most attractive of my options in terms of position and global exposure. As a potential officemate said, "Nothing you can't handle". I guess the technical know-how and systems processes will not be a language which would be alien to me but at the same time, a part of me is scared of facing the challenges of the job. It'll be hello again to "subscriber" "ARPU" "churn" "platform" and "network". In terms of career path, this could be a jump off point to work in the regional or global offices of the company. The experience can also lead to much higher opportunities within the telco industry...which is exactly my biggest issue. I will be dealing again with the industry I have turned my back on and vowed to stay away from. I had promised to expose myself to other markets and industries which exploited my telco training.

Company B comes from the industry I want to be a part of - FOOD! I've had positive meetings with Management and an offer has been drafted. The company is aggressively reinstating its position as a challenger in its category so a major transition is taking place in the organization. The position intended for me has not been approved yet but, according to the Marketing Director, has a 99% chance of being approved. There's only one catch. I have to join the team at an entry level position until such a time when the new organization will take effect. Now I already have been scarred by a history of unfulfilled career promises by Management so I've become very doubtful of these tactics. As much as I found the industry attractive, I am not about to give up years of experience to start again at the bottom of the ladder. The only reason why this is still a valid option for me is because I've been informed to give them 2 more weeks to work it out. If all my issues pull through with this company, then you just might see me blog more about food than anything else. In terms of career path, this will open doors to lots of other players in the food industry. Exciting!

Then there's Company C, a communications agency servicing the country's largest consumer goods company. This is the most bogus of my choices because the position and scope I'm being eyed for is, as the VP put it, "changing every day". Like Company B, this organization is also in transition but the possibilities are exciting. Potential perks of the job would be dealing with a client that significantly contributes to the country's GDP, giving recommendations to a category known for cut-throat advertising and in-depth exposure to real consumer work. The only downside to this is that I will be going back to client servicing. My last client was hell on earth but I'm told this potential client is much more professional in dealing with agencies. If I decide to be part of Company C, I would have rounded out my brand management experience and doors will be open to careers in Marketing Communications.

I've asked God for a sign to somehow ease the decision making process and what I got was a dream of me having a pregnant wife - which my friend says means "a major change is about to take place". That's good. Change is good. But change towards what? I think I need to go back to sleep and see whether my wife has given birth to twins, puppies or vegetables.