Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Good news for music lovers out there

Music is soothing to the soul. It's common knowledge that Filipinos love music. It is is no wonder than that a large number of Filipinos join singing contests (just look as Philippine Idol and Pinoy Dream Academy), and the business of selling music CDs, mostly pirated, is a thriving enterprise. As a result, we are always on the watchlist of the United States for software piracy.

What accounts for this continuous abuse of the intellectual property rights of the music producers/composers/singers? My guess is that since we are a poor nation, with more than half of the population living below the poverty line, the masses in general cannot afford the stiff prices being charged by these music companies for original CDs.

Which is why I think that the new venture being planned by Universal Music Group to launch Spiral Frog, is music to the ears of music lovers out there. According to its official website, Spiral Frog, touted to revolutionize the music industry, is the new online music destination offering advertising-supported legal downloads of audio and video content licensed from the catalogs of the world's leading record laels and from independents. It likewise offers music-lovers a compelling alternative to illegal file-sharing and pirate sites, with a secure environment for them to satisfy their unyielding passion and thirst for music, entertainment, information and brands at no cost except their time and attention.

Spiral Frog will offer users of its no-cost web-based service the ability to legally download music by many of the world's most popular and award winning artists. How does Spiral Frog earn revenues from this venture? It will instead rely on advertising as a source of its revenues instead of charging the consumers directly. Many advertisers have expressed their desire to be part of the project.

Are you excited already? Whoa, hold your horses. This service wil be made available to the public starting December, 2006 and will be initally offered for residents of the United States and Canada. I just hope that this service reaches the Philippines soon. For more info, please visit this article on the New York Times.

Tag category: Intellectual Property Rights/Law

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rexona Cup and MAP Badminton Tournament

Last Sunday was a very busy day for my husband and I. First off, we had to go to Club 650 Badminton Court along Libis, Q.C. for the Rexona Cup. No, my husband did not join that tournament because it wasn't open for national and ex-national players. Instead, they were part of an exhibition team, the PB Shuttlers, to be launched that day. As mentioned in my earlier post, the PB Shuttlers are composed of former ex-national champions and players who were tapped by Pinoy Badminton Inc. to perform badminton exhibition matches (ala Harlem Globetrotters style.)

I am happy to announce the PB Shuttlers received very good feedbacks during the exhibition match. They did not just exhibit their talent in the court, they also elicited guffaws and thunderous applause from the audience because of their funny, yet unstaged (*wink*wink*), antics. Here they are:

Badong "The Magician" Banquiles
Jojo "The Gentle-" Mance

Ronald "McDonald" Magnaye

Rocky "Balboa" Magnaye
After their exhibition match, we had a light lunch and proceeded to the MAP (Malaysian Association of the Philippines) Badminton Tournament held at Powersmash Makati. My husband paired off with Denden Dimarucot, the #1 varsity player of University of the East.

Jojo Mance and Denden Dimarucot

Unfortunately, they were immediately pitted against the Indonesian pair, Rudy Wijaya and Kwee Tek Min, former members of the Indonesian National Team. What can I say? They really tried their best but they eventually lost to the Indonesian pair.

Rudy Wijaya and Kwee Tek Min

Even the powerful duo of Ian Piencenaves (2006 JVC Champion) and Jaime Junio, current member of the national team, were no match against the Indonesian pair. Piencenaves and Junio even won the first set. The game went to a deciding set but was eventually won by the Indonesian pair.

Ian Piencenaves and Jaime Junio

The winners of the tournament? The Indonesian pair of Rudy Widjaya and Kwee Tek Min. Filipinos have yet to go a long way in becoming world caliber badminton players. The Asuncion siblings (Kennevic and Kennie), are one step closer since they are currently ranked #20 in the world, according to the 24 August 2006 ranking issued by the International Badminton Federation. Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to shine in regional tournaments because the world champions are also from Asia (China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea, among others.) But at least, our Filipino shuttlers are trying their best. They need more support from the government if we ever dream of bagging the World Championship, the Olympics or the Thomas and Uber Cup someday.

Tag category: Badminton Tournament ; PB Shuttlers

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Korean Beef Stew

Tag Category: Recipe

A fellow blogger, Mita, requested my recipe for Korean Beef Stew, so I decided to prepare this dish today. If you're reading this Mita, this one's for you.

1 head garlic crushed
1/4 cup oil (can be reduced later)
3 pcs. siling labuyo
1 tsp. shredded ginger
1 kilo beef short ribs
3 tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups water
3 tbsps. corn starch
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsps. toasted sesame seeds

Combine the first 10 ingredients. Cook until beef is tender. I use a pressure cooker which takes about 30 minutes. Others do not like to use pressure cooker and prefer the slow-cooking method to allow the flavor to seep in. In that case, it takes about 3-4 hours. After cooking with a pressure cooker, transfer to another pot and bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the corn starch, sesame oil and sesame seeds. I have to admit we ran out of corn starch, so mine doesn't have it, but it is preferable if you put it in order to thicken the sauce. Then transfer to a serving dish. I added chopped leeks to give it that decorative touch. Voila!

In our case, I do not immediately put the sesame seeds in because there are others here at home who do not like the taste of sesame seeds. I just put some on the side so that those who prefer it can just put it in their dish. We respect diversity in our house...hahaha.

Anyway, since this is a Korean dish, I decided to pair it with Kimchi. No, I did not make the Kimchi nor do I know how to make it. Fortunately, these things are readily available in groceries and supermarkets. I prefer the chinese cabbage variety.

Arrgghh, I'm gaining weight with all this cooking. Oh well, I'll just start dieting next week....hopefully.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Introducing the PB Shuttlers

Introducing a new concept in the Philippine badminton scene...the PB (Pinoybadminton) Shuttlers. The PB Shuttlers will be composed of the following ex-national players:

Badong Banquiles - Former Philippine #1 (1988); U.S. Opens Veterans Mixed Doubles First Runner-Up (2002, 2004); Badminton Coach.

Jojo Mance - Former Philippine #1 (1987, 1989-92, 1994-95); former Assistant Coach to the RP Team(1998-2002, 2005) and Head Coach to RP Juniors Team (1996-97); Badminton Coach.

Ronald Magnaye - Former RP national player (1990-98); former Men's Doubles Champion; Assistant Coach to the RP Team (2005); Badminton Coach.

Rocky Magnaye - Former RP national player; member of the PBA Grassroots Development Program; Badminton Coach.

The PB Shuttlers will not only showcase their talents inside the badminton court, they are guaranteed to bring smiles to the faces of the spectators. Their initial exhibition match will be held at Club 650 Badminton Court (Libis, Q.C. beside shopwise), on Sunday (27 August 2006), 11:00 A.M., as part of the highlights of the Rexona Badminton Cup. If I'm not mistaken, Prime Diva (RPN 9?) and Solar Sports might be covering this event, as well as Channel 23 (for Badminton Extreme).

If you have the time and you're just near the area, please drop by and you'll surely have fun watching the exhibition.

Tag category: PB Shuttlers

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What's your name again?

I just wanted to share with you this funny site. It’s a twist on the “name generator.” I first came across this game while watching an episode of “Will & Grace.” Apparently, there are different variations of this game.

Porn name (or drag name)

Combine your first pet’s name and the street you grew up on. – Mine is “Balto Kapitan Tiago.” (Hmmmm, doesn’t sound sexy at all.)

Super-villain name

Combine the color of your shirt or blouse you’re currently wearing and your least favorite vegetable. – “Pink Kinchay!” (Hahahahaha…….Pink Kinchay is here to destroy the world! I can’t imagine anyone being frightened by that name.)

I hope you enjoy playing this game as much as I did. :-)

Another sisig place

Last night, while my husband and I were on our way home (around 9:20 P.M.) and could no longer ignore the hunger pangs we were feeling, we decided to eat at ALING LUCING SISIG along Pasong Tamo, Makati City. I read in a blog somewhere that ALING LUCING SISIG originated in Pampanga and the blogger had high praises for this establishment so we decided to try it out.
I had sisig with hotdog. (Price: Php 69.00 or US$1.34)
My husband had sisig with chicken. (Price: Php 69.00 or US$1.34)

Not bad considering the price. We still prefer the sisig of Dencio's because it's more crunchy. (I think they put fried pork skin to make it crunchy. ) But considering the reasonable price of the meals at Aling Lucing, it was acceptable. Next time, though, we plan to order the plain sisig big shot (Price: Php 130 or US$2.53) good for 2 persons because I did not like the taste of the hotdog, although the chicken was ok.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Rules to be introduced at the U.S. Open

Aside from being a badminton fanatic, I also love watching tennis tournaments, especially the 4 grand slam tournaments. I also have lots of books about tennis at home. Sadly, I can only manage a decent forehand and backhand stroke. I don't even know how to serve...that's because my tennis lessons went only as far as those 2 strokes before I eventually ended up playing badminton exclusively. (Previous story on this topic.) However, my love for tennis still persists.

I'm glad to learn that the upcoming U.S. Open Tennis Championships at Flushing Meadows will introduce a new innovation to the sport...instant replay. What happens is that when a player questions a call, above-court video screens show a graphic rendering of the ball's flight, in slow motion, with a dark spot indicating where it landed. That spot either touches a white line -- the ball was in -- or it doesn't -- the ball was out. Simple as that. (Wow!)

(Photo courtesy of the official website of the U.S. Open)

According to the U.S. Open official website, here's how it works:
- Each player will receive 2 challenges per set to review line calls.
- If the player is correct with a challenge then the player retains the same number of challenges.
- If the player is incorrect with a challenge, then one of his/her challenges is lost.
- During a tie-break game in any set, each player will receive one additional challenge.
- Challenges may not be carried over from one set to another.

This is a major change in a sport steeped with tradition. I'm glad to see that they're moving in step with advances in technology. I'm certainly looking forward to it! I just hope that the International Badminton Federation also adopts this new rule. Now, wouldn't that be something?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Badminton 101: Court Ethics

Tag Category: Badminton 101

I love watching a good badminton game. I am what you might call a professional.....spectator! Hahaha... (
Did you think I was gonna say professional player?) What makes a badminton game enjoyable to watch? In my personal opinion, it becomes enjoyable when the players are good, of the same caliber and of course, well-mannered. I have watched a million informal games in court and even a sizable number of tournaments and I have observed that there are a good number of players who do not practice the proper decorum in court. I have even seen a shouting match in a tournament when a player succumbed to the cheerings and jeerings of a spectator-mom, but that's another story altogether.

What constitutes good manners and right conduct of players in court? There are no hard and fast rules, although there are really some behavior that are prohibited in court as stated in the Players' Code of Conduct issued by the International Badminton Federation, the official governing body of badminton associations worldwide.

I also came up with my own list. Some of these can also be found in the Players' Code of Conduct, others are just my own observations. Please feel free to come up with your own list.

1. When the shuttle falls dead on your side of the court, you should return the shuttle properly to your opponent. The shuttle should be picked up either by hand or by your racket and properly tossed to the other side of the court. Please do not kick it, sweep it or smash it back to your opponent.

2. When the opponent is serving, do not engage in threatening acts or words in order to psyche out your opponent. Please leave that for the boxing match later.

3. When you are serving, please wait for your opponent to be ready before you swing at the bird...err...shuttle. Surprising the opponent is a "dirty tactic" that is easily gaining popularity...tsk tsk.

4. Please do not abuse the shuttle or your racket, especially in moments when you get frustrated. It is not nice to see a racket doing somersaults and back flips during a game.

5. When the opponent inadvertently lifts the shuttle high and near the net (
otherwise, pag benta na -- badminton aficionados will understand this term), please do not aim for your opponent's face. This is not target shooting.

6. Show only the appropriate amount of emotion in court. Do not shout obscenities, use foul language directly to your opponent, the linesmen or the umpire. That behavior should've retired together with John McEnroe.

7. When playing informally with a group of friends, and the shuttle falls on your side of the court, please make the appropriate call. Please do not say that the shuttle is out when it obviously fell in. Remember the Golden Rule.

8. While this is not necessary, I really appreciate a show of apology by either raising your hand or your racket when the shuttle grazes the net and still falls in your opponent's side. After all, even world no. 1 Lin Dan does this. So shouldn't we, lesser mortals, follow his example?

9. Do not be intimidated by spectators. (Ang mapikon, talo.)

10. Finally, before this list gets any longer, after a game, please do not forget to shake your opponent's hand. (And that includes the service judge and umpire when playing in a tournament.)

With this in mind, just remember that the most important thing in a game is to enjoy. Happy playing!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bicol Express

The abundance of coconut trees in our islands is probably one of the reasons why our culinary culture is steeped with dishes using this ingredient. Coconut milk, which can be extracted from coconuts, can be found in native dishes like bringhe, bikol express, guinataan and laing. While coconut milk is now readily available in cans and tetra paks, I still prefer the taste of freshly extracted coconut milk.

I decided to cook bicol express today since it was my turn to cook in the kitchen. It was tough extracting coconut milk. Fortunately, Manang Anita was there to help me. I still had trouble though in slicing the pork since the skin was tough. Manang told me it was probably because the pig was already old. Ouch! I suddenly wished I had once of those super sharp knives available in the TV shopping network, so sharp according to the commercial that it can even slice aluminum. Hahaha…I’m really a sucker for these kinds of commercial.

Anyway, here is my recipe for bicol express:

cooking oil
5 pcs chili pepper (siling amerikano, the big green kind. You may also wish to use siling labuyo. Just adjust the amount according to your
taste/tolerance for heat.)
1 tbsp. salt
4 cups thin coconut milk
1/3 cup ready-made-bagoong ( I used Barrio Fiesta’s bagoong)
½ kilo pork liempo, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, minced
2 cups thick coconut milk

Heat the oil. Brown the garlic before adding the onion. Then add the pork and the bagoong. After 5 minutes, add the salt and thin coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chili pepper and cook until half of the liquid has evaporated. Pour in thick coconut milk and continue cooking until oil comes out.

Here’s the finished product.
My husband absolutely loved it! :-)

Tag category: Recipe

Thursday, August 17, 2006

That fateful night...

It was a hectic day at the office yesterday. I had lots of stuff to do so I had to work overtime. My husband picked me up from the office at around 8 P.M., but since I was not yet finished, he brought me dinner and waited for me until I finished at around 9:10 P.M. Finally, I could just sit back and relax, or so I thought.

Traffic was light and we were slowly cruising along South Super Highway coming from Makati City. We were in no hurry to get home. Conversation inside the car was light, the topic ranging from the latest news about his friends to my current obsession -- blogging. As we were about to approach the Makati-Manila boundary, our car suddenly careened off-tangent, zigzagging as if having a mind of its own. Fortunately, my husband had presence of mind and the clear sense to grab hold of the steering wheel even when it was spinning wildly, trying to steer the car back to its proper course. Then the car stopped. Silence ensued.

Ladybug: “Anong nangyari?” (What happened?)
Hubby: Silence…breathing hard…
Ladybug: “Anong nangyari? Pumutok ba yung gulong?” (What happened? Did the tire explode?)
Hubby: “Malamang, hindi ko alam eh…” (Probably, I really don’t know)
Ladybug: “Grabe kinabahan ako dun ah…” (I got really nervous there for a while…)
Hubby: “Teka, mukhang nabangga tayo nung truck eh.” (Wait, it seems like we were hit by that truck.)
Ladybug: “Bakit parang hindi naman natin naramdaman.” (Why didn’t we feel anything?)
Hubby: “Teka, itatabi ko lang tong kotse.” (Wait, I’ll just park the car to the side.)

Upon doing so, my husband got out of the car and looked at the damage. It turns out that we were indeed hit by a truck – let me rephrase that – we were hit by a big six-wheeler delivery truck. This truck apparently transports alcoholic beverages for La Tondena Inc. The driver got out of the truck and talked to my husband. He was very apologetic and acknowledged his fault. He claimed that he was just trying to avoid some branches (what bloody tree is he talking about???) and he did not see our small (translation: teeny weeny) car driving in front of him. My husband kept his cool but I was silently chiding myself for cutting my nails the night before as I wanted very much to lunge at him and create big, red, blotchy, pus-filled stretch marks across his face. Well, at that point, what else can I do? Darn.

The time was 9:30 in the evening and upon talking to the owner of the trucking company, we had no choice but to go to the nearest police station to get a police report – a requirement of the insurance company. We went to the nearest police station which was a few blocks away, near Quirino Ave. and just before the Depot Station. Unfortunately, it was already part of Manila and they did not have jurisdiction over the incident. After about an hour and a couple of hits and misses, we finally found the appropriate traffic command station that had the jurisdiction and proper authority to fill out a police report. But it didn’t stop there. We had to photocopy the registration papers, as well as the license of my husband and the truck driver in order for them to properly fill out the police report. Mind you, this was already 10:30 in the evening. Finding an open photocopying business at this time of night is no mean feat. We finally found one after an hour of searching. I was cursing the truck driver under my breath.

Finally, we went back to the traffic command station with the required papers. Photographs of the vehicles were also needed for insurance purposes. Hey, I have a new camera—Canon Ixus 750! I could take pictures with it! Oh no, I suddenly remembered that I left the camera at home, safely nestled inside my drawer, gathering dust.

Darn! I made a mental note to always bring the camera with me from now on.

Here’s a picture of the damage to the back portion of our car. (Taken with my camera phone only.)

Finally, at 12:40 in the morning, after pictures were taken and the police report filled out, we were on our way home, FINALLY.

We arrived home at around 1:10 in the morning. We were so exhausted all we could do was climb into bed and fall asleep.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Travel Advisory Update (for ladies only)

I just saw a recent travel advisory update on CNN. Apparently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States started receiving feedbacks from passengers regarding the strict measures they have imposed as a result of the planned terror attack in Heathrow airport involving planes traveling to the United States. As a result, the TSA made some changes to their list of banned carry on items.

Passengers are still prohibited from carrying all kinds aerosols with them on board. However, under the new rules, travelers can take up to four ounces of non-prescription medicine, glucose gel for diabetics, solid lipstick and baby food, the agency said. Solid lipstick you say! Hahaha…I can just imagine the number of lady passengers who complained about not being able to bring with them their lipstick on board.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One book that...

I got tagged by Senor Enrique…and it’s all about books. :-)

It took me awhile to finish the meme, but here it goes…

One book that changed your life. "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. It has revolutionized the way I interact with my husband.

One book that I read more than once. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. I’ve read it about 5 times and I plan to read it over and over again. I consider her a feminist during her era.

One book you would want on a desert island. Hmmm…I’m not sure but I think I would want to read a book about the paranormal, about ESP. I think I would want to muster all of my paranormal powers to ask for help if I get stuck on a desert island.

One book that made you laugh. "Bridget Jones Diary" by Helen Fielding.

One book that made you cry. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

One book that you wish had been written. Hmmm… "How to Win the Lottery"?

One book that you wish had never been written. I don’t know…probably "Guerilla Warfare "by Che Guevara? But I really haven’t read it myself so I really can't say.

One book you are currently reading. “1421. The Year China Discovered America” by Gavin Menzies. I’ve been reading it for quite some time already. Aarrggghhh….. nakakaiyak na sa haba. Maybe I should put this under the category “Books that made me cry.” Hahaha.

One book you have been meaning to read. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Now, I have to tag 5 people to do this meme. So, I’m tagging the following people:

(1) Toe – kurokuroatbp
(2) Snglguy – Inside the Mind of a Single Guy
(3) Dinna – Pinay New Yorker
(4) Kat - yet another corner in a maiden's life's downtown
(5) Jairam - Insomniac's Mind

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My version of squash curry

I decided to try out Mitam’s recipe for squash curry. Please check out her site, The Unofficial Cook, for the recipe.

Let the onions, garlic, ginger and curry powder cook slowly. (Haha…pasensha na, the pot looks very old)

Add the coconut milk and the squash

Bring to a boil and let it simmer

Unfortunately, her version looks a whole lot better than mine. Hahaha…mine doesn’t have a very good presentation. But believe me, the dish tastes great. I would recommend it for curry lovers. Next time I make this dish again, I’ll probably add chilis though. I have a penchant for hot dishes. Thanks to Mitams for the recipe. :-)

Friday, August 11, 2006

What am I most thankful for?

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the discovery of the planned terror attack against Heathrow airport. (Read more about this here) Boy, I can just imagine that the U.K. and U.S. authorities must be heaving collective sighs of relief until now because of this discovery. Terrorists were in the "final stages" of a plot to simultaneously blow up as many as 10 jets leaving Britain for the U.S., sending the planes and thousands of passengers into the Atlantic Ocean. I could not even fathom the destruction and the psychological damage that such a terror attack could instill.

In view of this development, I decided to come up with a list of five (5) things that I’m most thankful for. None of the gooey “I’m so thankful for the air we breathe and the food we eat” stuff. This list features the things that I’m thankful for – despite an unfortunate incident that happened in the past. Feel free to make a list of your own. Here it goes…

(1) I’m thankful that I’m still alive. Sheesh! I know what you’re thinking. I just said none of the gooey stuff, right? Read on first before judging. I’m thankful that I’m still alive, despite the mild stroke I had at the age of 29. Yes, folks, a mild stroke. Fortunately, the stroke was reversed immediately and I was able to return to work after a month and a half of rest. This experience changed my outlook in life. I’m more appreciative of the people around me. And I know that even though my family is undergoing some difficulties right now, I am still thankful because I get to experience these things with them. Any problem is surmountable as long as we pray and help one another.

(2) I’m thankful that my mom is still alive. No folks, my mom did not undergo a stroke or a heart attack. I do not want to dwell on the fact that my dad and brother passed away already. While their demise caused untold grief and heartache in our family, I cannot change the fact that they’re already at peace with our Creator. I want to celebrate life. I want to celebrate that I still get to spend time with my mom, my sister and her family and my husband.

(3) I am thankful that I’ve found my soul mate. I do not regret that I went through several heartaches in the past. These experiences have molded me into becoming the person that I am now – more appreciative of my husband and more understanding of the differences between a man and a woman. I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I am still unreasonable sometimes (haha…just ask my husband). But I’m thankful that I made those mistakes with other people in order to prepare me for my relationship with my husband now.

(4) I am thankful for the lessons I learned in joining past badminton tournaments (I joined a grand total of 4), even though I was not able to win in these tournaments. (Note: I was about to win in the third tournament that I joined, however, this was the time I had the mild stroke. Napurnada pa.) The experiences I gained and the lessons I’ve learned made me discover my inner self. Sorry folks, I am not the competitive type. I enjoy the journey more than the destination. But don’t you get worried for my sake, I still hope to win at least a single tournament before I hang my racket up for good.

(5) Finally, I am most thankful that it’s Friday once more! Hahaha…Four days of stress-filled work days are worth it. When Friday comes, there’s just something in the air which soothes me and tells me that nice things are going to happen in my life this weekend. After all, I get to spend the weekend with my family.
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” - taken from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Badminton Story - My first badminton experience

Tag category: A Badminton Story
For those who are hooked on badminton, can you still remember the first time you played this sport?

I can still remember that day. The year was 2001. Badminton was not in vogue then and there were only a few courts in existence: Rizal Badminton Hall, Villamor, Crame, Aguinaldo, Bonifacio, Club Filipino, to name a few. I was working at the Supreme Court (SC). Eric, my friend and officemate, had been convincing me to play with their group at the CA (Court of Appeals, beside SC) badminton court for some time already. I did not want to play the sport since I thought it was just a game for kids and I was more interested to play tennis. (Previous post on this topic)

Anyway, most of my friends in the SC were playing badminton already, and some were even hooked. So in order for me to spend more time with them, I had to play also. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. My first racket was a Prince racket, but definitely for beginners. It cost less than 1,000 pesos (approx. US$20).

I walked up the hot and stuffy stairs to the 4th floor of the CA Bldg. where the court was located. My outfit was an old t-shirt and sweatpants. I did not even bring water as I was not expecting to break out into a lot of sweat. The game looked easy enough. I had no expectations whatsoever. I had no idea that when I took the first swing with my racket, I was on my journey to a new dimension in my life. Haha…sounds melodramatic.

Anyway, I enjoyed my first game. However, observers surely noticed from our stance (we stood and ran like children running loose in the park) and swing (we looked like we were playing palo sebo…hahaha…a local game where a blindfolded person would swing a bat, trying to hit a pot filled with candies and other goodies) that we were just beginners. It did not matter to us. My friends and I would break out into fits of laughter, especially when we would miss certain shots.

I was proven wrong. I was so exhausted after 2 games that I had to stop. I needed water. Fortunately my friend brought lots of water and gave me some. I went home very exhausted…and very satisfied. I finally found a new sport that I really loved. That sealed my fate…I got hooked on badminton. Who knew that this sport would introduce to my future husband? ;-)

How about you? Got any badminton stories of your own?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lutong Pinoy

Tag Category: Recipe
(Note: For non-Filipinos reading this entry, the title of my post means “food cooked the Filipino way.”)

I was feeling quite lazy this morning, I just wanted to lie in bed and sleep the whole day. But since today is Sunday, it was my turn to cook our meal. Hmmmm … what to do … what to do.

I looked at the refrigerator and searched for ingredients. I wasn’t feeling particularly creative today, I just wanted to prepare something quick and easy. I saw a pack (1 kilo) of jumbo hotdog. I decided to try out a very simple meal which I saw in some turo-turo. “Turo-turo” literally means “point-point” referring to a small cafeteria selling various meals catering to the C-D-E crowd where customers can just “point” to whatever meals they want to eat. The meals are supposed to be cheap, hence, turo-turo owners must be able to come up with simple meals which consists of cheap ingredients and are easy to cook so as not to consume a lot of electricity/LPG.

But I digress. I cooked the pack of hotdogs first, then sliced it and set it aside. Then in a wok, I heated 2 tsps. oil and sautéed some minced garlic and sliced onions. Once the onions became transparent, I put in some chicken liver. After a minute or two, I put the sliced hotdogs and 400 g. of tomato sauce (I used the UFC brand which is kinda sweet since Filipinos are not used to the traditional tomato sauce and prefer the sweet kind) and 2 cups chicken broth (plain water will suffice). I added some salt and pepper to taste. Finally, I put in 5 chopped chilis (the relleno, inferno hybrid or elephant trunk type
...not too hot) to give it some kick. Here is the finished product.

Believe it or not, my nephew and nieces loved it! Ubos na ubos. What Filipino child/pre-teen can resist any dish containing hotdogs? Hahaha! Uhhm, by the way, I have a confession to make. I cheated. I was too lazy to cook some more so I asked Manang Anita to cook nilagang baka (beef and vegetable soup) and fried tofu.

With the rising costs of energy and gasoline, people from walks of life, and not only Filipinos, must come up with ways on how to survive on a very limited budget.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Lunch at Cafe Breton

Yesterday, my friend invited me to have lunch with her at Café Breton located in Greenbelt. I readily agreed as it has been a long time since I ate at Café Breton.

When I used to work at the Supreme Court, my friends from work and I would eat at the Malate branch of Café Breton. We had to wait for this branch to open at 6 P.M. since we, as government employees then, were out of the office at exactly 4:30 P.M. (haha...those were the days)

Fortunately, this branch of Café Breton is open during mall hours.

Here is a yummy picture of what my friend ate (Blueberries and Cream - surprise! there are 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream inside)

And here is a yummier picture of what I ate (Le Magnifique – with nutella, whipped cream, nuts and bananas)

Yummy! There’s nothing like a chocolatey dessert to pick up a tired spirit. :-)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Badminton 101 : Proper leveling - the heart of every tournament

Tag category: Badminton 101

In my opinion, the heart of every badminton tournament lies in the proper leveling of the participants. Leveling is a procedure in a tournament whereby players are required to go to a certain venue and asked at random to play with other players in order for the organizers to ascertain their level in the tournament. Of course leveling is only done for tournaments at club levels. There is no need for leveling in tournaments of international calibers since these are “open” tournaments (i.e., no leveling and players can be pitted against anyone, even against members of the national team.)

I have seen many tournaments fall flat on its face due to misleveling. I hope I don’t give you the impression that other aspects are not important as well, e.g., having an experienced and well-versed tournament director, proper organization, having competent umpires and linesmen, sizable quantity of participants, good venue and proper lighting, excellent time management, etc. All of these factors are equally important. However, if misleveling occurs, either due to favors being granted to friends of the organizers or sandbagging, the reputation of the tournament becomes tainted and players will steer clear of such tournaments in the future.

Sandbagging occurs when, during the leveling of the tournament, the players deliberately do not play well in order to be placed in a level much lower than their actual level. This is being done by certain players in order to ensure that they win in their particular level. Sandbagging is unavoidable in every tournament and cannot be totally eliminated. However, if this happens on a wide scale in a tournament, then tongues will start wagging and the reputation of the tournament becomes at stake.

I have seen at least a couple of tournaments in the past wherein there was a wide scale of misleveling and sandbagging. These tournaments (whose names I will not mention) have not been staged since. (One time wonder lang kumbaga.)

How does one avoid misleveling during tournaments? I asked my hubby this question since he is the expert in this matter and not me. According to him, the leveling must be conducted by an acknowledged expert who will notice the various nuances in the acts of the participants. To clarify, the players may not win the game during the leveling but the “expert” will see how the players handle the rackets and shuttlecocks and will be able to at least differentiate a beginner from an intermediate player. An additional deterrent should be the length of the games during the leveling period. The “real strokes” of the players will most likely show if they play the full 1 or 2 sets instead of a shortened set. There are other telltale signs which can be recognized by an expert but I’d rather not mention them all here for fear that a “sandbagger” reading this blog might be able to pick up hints.

I hope that organizers keep these things in mind to make future tournaments, if not enjoyable, at least tolerable.