Archive for January, 2008


Ice cream, anyone?

January 30, 2008

Ice cream anyone?This is the weather forecast for the remaining week and today was colder than the day I arrived from Jakarta. Talk about timing and when I turned on the water heater this morning, it freaking ran out of batteries! Brrrr.. That was probably the quickest bath I ever took and I was done in a minute from head to toe! My Hanoian friends told me that this was the longest cold spell in Hanoi they experienced and they were even buying thicker jackets.. Ha! I’m not alone freezing my butt here hihi 🙂 I look like a Michelin mascot already with the amount of padded clothing, scarf and jacket but it’s really fun to experience winter! The wife is a bit envious ‘coz Manila is around 30c right now.. hihi 🙂  Konting paypay lang dyan honey.. hehe. Tomorrow will be a winner as it goes down to 7 degrees! The little children’s schools are closed when it’s around 10 degrees during this inclement weather and if baby Justin was here, he’d be having the sniffles like me too! 😦

Well, this ain’t too bad compared to what’s happening in China right now.. yaiks! I hope people still get to enjoy Tet (Chinese New Year) in Vietnam and I’m ready to brave the cold winter nights! Ihanda na ang apoy!


Hello Jakarta!

January 29, 2008
Hot Indonesia!

 I recently came back from Jakarta over the weekend and having a cold made it very uncomfortable throughout my stay there. I have a bad case of cough and sniffles after being healthy for a couple of years but due to my freezing arse in Hanoi (which is at 9° C right now) and then the drastic change of weather in Jakarta, that was my tipping point. Nevertheless, Indonesia was quite an experience and it’s good to see a country similar to the Philippines. It made me feel at home but not close enough as I still continue to miss the wife, our baby and everything else surrounding them. Some interesting stories about Indonesia from a new traveller’s POV:

1. It reminds me of the Philippines (Weather, Traffic, Ethnicity) but multiply it three times. People here seem to have more purchasing power as the luxurious brands are evident in most of the shopping centers. The roads are wide, buildings sprung up everywhere and the city is alive with a mix of high end cars and motorbikes. The taxi we usually rode was the new Toyota Vios which was quite interesting enough. Lesley (my colleague from Ducati-RicSaigon) and I were supposed to ride a Mercedes Benz taxi from the airport but they ran out and we had to settle for a Toyota Crown (sosyal ito dati ah *LOL*).

2. Language is quite similar to us due to the Malay influence (correct me if I’m mistaken). It’s going to be easier to learn Bahasa rather than Vietnamese as many pinoys here mentioned that it’s just like learning a new dialect in the Philippines province. Some words that I quickly picked up:

  • Thank you – “Terima Kasih”
  • Welcome – “Selamat Detang”
  • Right – “Kanan”
  • Left – “Kiri”
  • Taxi – “Taksi”
  • Be careful – “Hati-Hati”
  • Free – “Gratis”
  • Police – “Polisi”
  • Cheap – “Murah”
  • Choose – “Pilih”
  • Toilet – “Toilet” 😀

3. Right hand driving.
This is the second country (first one being India) I’ve visited with a different driving orientation. Make sure to look right when crossing the street! The results though are far U-turns that adds to your travel time and and taxi fare! 😦

4. Hot, Curry, Spicy. Description of Indonesian dishes and that’s the way they like it! Although we were able to enjoy a very traditional and highly consumed Filipino food that wasn’t available in Vietnam —McDonalds! Yahoo!

5. Malls and Entertainment are everywhere. Ah.. breathing mall air! This is the shopping capital of Indonesia and shops here are huge and usually nearby each other. A great concept is the Auto Mall where the latest cars from Beamers to Ferraris are displayed. Even the motorbikes are nasty hot! From Repsol, Harley to Ducatis! Let the pictures speak for themselves!

They also have a theme park here ala Enchanted Kingdom which they call Dufan (Fantasy World). The long lines are worth it especially the Tornado ride where you get hanged in the air and spun four times.. Fantastic! Here are some before and after shots from this ride:


We're ready!
All set and ready!


Fun at Dufan!
L-R: Les, me, Albert, Erwin, stranger who is about to puke


Ho-hum… no challenge.. next ride please!

6. There’s a lot of Chinese here too! Like our Fil-Chi back home, I met some Indo-Chi and we all have that chinky-eyed trademark 🙂 Some of them are unable to speak Mandarin anymore but most have a good grasp of the Fookien dialect. Yes, I heard the word “Lantyaw” being told to somebody as a joke and if you need to find out what that means, ask your Chinese friend! This is a wholesome blog site 😛

7. Telecoms are cheap! Would you believe international SMS costs only around 2-3 pesos per message? There are more than 8 mobile providers here sharing the telecom market for around 200million people! Consumer spending is up!

It was a short but fulfilling trip here in Jakarta and the business conference was quite rewarding as well. It’s nice to know that Vietnam is not alone in the outsourcing field outside of Phililppines and India. We were able to learn more about the Indonesian culture and how they made it successful despite being a recent player in the Call Center industry. The best part about the trip is hanging out with the other pinoys and just having a great time. For your hospitality guys.. Terima Kasih.


Canon EOS 450D / Rebel XSi is out!

January 26, 2008
Buy me..

Boy, this is one time that hesitation helped! I was starting to get into photography and ready to pull my buying trigger with the Canon EOS 400D/Rebel XTi/KissX after reading several reviews and enduring the dark battle with the Nikonians (that Nikon D40 was so tempting for a newbie if you’re looking for a budget DSLR investment worthy of your hard earned money!) After much Googling, I found out that Canon will be announcing their EOS 400D replacement at the PMA conference which is consistent with their 18-month new product cycle. Well here it is! The Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) has been officially announced by Canon. The rumors were pretty accurate that it would now have LiveView (LCD preview ala Point and Shoot camera) and with a higher megapixel. I won’t go into details with the technical features since it’s readily available at dpreview but this DSLR may be worth waiting especially for a newbie like me.

What makes the new 450D better than its EOS predecessor ?

  • 12.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor (I won’t be printing large images but the higher resolution is much welcomed!)
  • 3.0” LCD with Live View Shooting (a LiveView feature for those lazy days when you just want a P&S function, and a 3-incher LCD to review your pics better, that’s what I’m talking about!)
  • DIGIC III image processor (Ric has stopped drooling at this point.. more, more!)
  • Compact and Lightweight body (I was expecting a smaller body like the persistent Nikon D40 but the larger LCD screen makes up for it. It’s still an EOS with their signature robust body and with slight modifications to the grip)
  • SD card support (Goodbye CF! I wonder how much difference would it make on R/W speed compared to the previous memory storage format for DSLRs. The upside is that the SD card makes it easier to port this through the laptop’s built-in card reader which is mostly supported by manufacturers).
  • Larger battery capacity (Well done Canon! This’ll hold off purchasing a battery grip!)
  • Image stabilized version of 18-55mm lens kit (Great feature for the stock lens kit!)

I’ve read from the Canon USA website that the EOS 450D will be released by April ’08. For Asia Pacific, I’m not yet certain but I’d be sure to find out soon and I hope it will be cheaper in Vietnam (please post a comment if you hear anything about its availability in our region). Now I’m thinking.. should I get this one or the reduced price of the EOS 400D which would be a steal! This is still under negotiation with the Budgetary board headed by my Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mrs. Simbol. I need to resubmit the proposal with a better ROI. What if I just get a videocam instead (Sony DCR) for capturing ’em Baby Justin moments 🙂


I am your brother.. Darn proud to be a pinoy!

January 23, 2008

There’s been much discussion about the next William Hung. I won’t go into details as this guy has been all over the news.. instafame! I seriously believe that Renaldo Lapuz is on a league of his own. Pinoys are known as great entertainers throughout the world and Mr. Lapuz from the American Idol Season 7 audition, did that easily. Pale in comparison to Charice Pempengco, but Mr. Lapuz stands out in his unique way and has probably more youtube hits by now! Mabuhay ka Renaldo and we are brothers forever!


This is just too good not to blog. Renaldo made this world a better place because of his unwavering loyalty to Simon Cowell.

WARNING: LSS (Last Song Syndrome) ahead.


Snapshots of NAM

January 20, 2008

For those who haven’t been to Vietnam or want to experience living here, here’s a few pics that I haven’t posted before taken with my trusty Motorola V3xx DSLR (Dinaan Sa Low Resolution).  These are mostly city pics of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and I hope this helps anyone out there searching for what it’s like here..

Saigon Style:

Night at Saigon

Based on this picture,  the ratio of car to motorbike is probably 1:100 🙂

Caps and Hats!
Caps, caps, caps everywhere!

No delicious, No Pay!
 Yes, I like their positivity. Compliments to the chef!

Ukay-ukay sa sidewalk!

Humbling Hanoi:

Rush hour Hanoi
The same 1:100 ratio applies here.. *LOL*

Dinner time!
 Typical dinner on the streets! Yum! 🙂

Hanoian Nights

On my way home..


Papa.. there’s a paparazzi! I guess this is my pulitzer shot depicting fatherhood.. taking his kid to school, checking SMS from work.. and with the beer poster on top, what a way to end the day..


PSP Games.. Roll call for 2007

January 19, 2008

Allo! That was a quick year 2007 and I’ve somehow managed to sneak in a little gaming time with my PSP. Here are some of the best and worst games I’ve played since owning this superrific gadget in May ’07.. The categories and the chosen ones are:

Worst Game of the year award goes to..
Freakout Extreme Freeride– The soundtrack is interesting but gameplay, graphics and controls really sucks. Stick with SSX if you want some hardcore thrilling snow action on the PSP. Note to Ricster… read reviews first before getting the game!

Disappointments of the year:
The Simpsons Game– Being a fan of The Simpsons TV series for 18 seasons, this was something to look forward to especially since I enjoyed the movie. To cut it short, the graphics are pixelated, camera view is poorly designed and this game would probably be better on home consoles such as the Xbox or PS3 as the game trailer looks promising for those other consoles. Homer and Marge, two thumbs down 😦 Ben10 did a better job!

Transformers– the movie rocks, but the game sucks! ’nuff said! Transform to another PSP game please!

Surprise hits on the PSP.. games that I really enjoyed:
Ratatouille – Help Remy get all ’em recipes! If you liked the movie, this game highly compliments it.

Virtua Tennis World Tour / or vT3– Career mode and wireless multi-player takes the cake! This was one of the games that got me to buy a PSP after seeing it on youtube.

Brooktown High – graphics are solid and I like this better than the Sims 🙂 The game is quite short though and it’s finished before you even graduated high school!

Castaway Game of the year – this is the only game I’d bring if stranded on an island with a PSP)
Nba Live ’08– Keep playing it over and over again.. dynasty mode and its latest The Crown feature makes this a winner! Adjust the game sliders for a more realistic play and it’s not as easy as the previous EA sports franchise. Nba Live ’07 was a wimp and I can easily beat the CPU in Superstar mode but this one was quite challenging. Good job EA Sports! The Go-To moves are a bit disappointing at first but the more you use your players and team, you’ll start to get the hang of it. The only downside experienced from this game is that a lot of people experienced freezing during summary of The Crown especially in Dynasty mode. So far mine has stopped after I got the European version and I haven’t got the time to upgrade to the latest CFW yet (3.71m33).

Frustrating but Fun
Lumines– The trance music keeps you going.. I still need to beat the wife’s high score. She bumped me off before leaving Vietnam. Grrr!
DJ Maxx Portable – Dance, Dance Revolution in your hands!
Juiced 2– Darn chain drifting section! I give up! It’s fun upgrading cars and racing for pink slips though. I found this game highly better than the NFS series.

My Game of the Year for 2007:
Medal of Honor: Heroes 2. I never thought a FPS game would be so much fun to play in a PSP. If you play this game with a headset, you’ll be immersed in the World War environment! From one mission to another, it’s addictive and the ease of control is amazing. Maneuver through the battlefields! When I played this game, the first mission got me hooked. If you’ve seen Saving Private Ryan.. you’ll like this.

Runners up.. we can’t let the others go unnoticed..
Silent Hill Origins – I dare you.. play this with the lights off and wear your headsets. Creepy!
Killzone Liberation – sorry, I’m a late bloomer of the PSP 🙂
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 – It’s good to play RPG once in while.

Anticipated Games for 2008:
There can be only one for me.. GOD OF WAR! The fact that this was a hot game on the PS2 and I haven’t gotten the chance to play it before, I’m looking forward to its PSP version. For Anna, I think she will like PATAPON since it’s like Locco Roco but better! This will be a great platform game 🙂

As for the wife’s favorite games:
Lumines it took Anna a few weeks to get the hang of it.. then she kicked me out of first place! I shall return!
Sims 2 Castaway – I never appreciated this game. The wife has the patience and creativity on playing this 🙂
Diner Dash– Anna’s great at multi-tasking.. so this one is easy! She finished the game in a few days! geeez!
Ratatouille– She loves Remy but I usually help her out on the difficult stages.. hehe 😛

..To  the late bloomers of PSP fanatics like me, what’s your favorite game?


Manila to Hanoi.. Direct!

January 17, 2008


 Freaking good news! It’s finally confirmed that Cebu Pacific will be flying directly to Hanoi and HCM starting April. *Yey* It seems that Vietnam is gaining more visibility to investors and they are doing a good job of riding the waaaaave! Cebu Pacific has an ongoing promotion now which is a one-way flight for Php499 (travel tax not yet included of course). I’m concerned though about the flight schedule that leaves Manila at 10:50PM and arriving at past midnight in Hanoi. But considering the savings and convenience, it may be worth it and at least there’ll be no traffic from your point of origin to destination! The wife and I are discussing this but we’re a bit hesitant about CebPac since it’s their first time to fly this international route… hmmm. It’s just too good to be true right now and if this is a dream, don’t wake me up! We’ll see in the next few days and we need to book fast! If this happens.. April pa darating mag-ina ko dito.. waaaah! ;(

Mr. Gokongwei — ang galing mo, Anh Oi! You are kicking PAL’s a$$ by doing this.. big time!