Monday, June 27, 2011

Once Upon a Time in China

You know those inspiring family movies where a ragtag football/hockey/baseball team, brought together by a common love for one sport, ends up winning first place? They start off rough, they lose badly, they start winning, then there's some sort of conflict (the star player decides to quit, the coach has some family problem that's holding him back, etc.), but they somehow get it all together and amazingly make it to the finals. And then they beat a team made up of players that are bigger, faster, and by all accounts, more skilled than they are. Because they have heart.

My team, Manila Dirty Ice Cream + Boracay Dragons' Dada and Xtian

Our Shanghai story is nothing like that. Haha.

On our first day, we arrived on the gorgeous, drool-worthy fields with such high hopes. We were raring to face off against some of the best in the region; on that day, we were scheduled to play versus Singapore's Freakshow, Beijing's Big Brother, Team Pilipinas, and Hong Kong. Let's just say that non-Philippine teams normally had a height advantage over us...

That's 6'2" Nina from Beijing, with Map--who actually guarded her on the field! Just to give you an idea of how small our female lineup was, I was the third tallest girl!

Our win-loss record at the end of Day 1? 0-4. Our spirits were kind of low so...we (or they) kept the other "spirits" flowing at that night's hall party! Many of the Philippine players were booked at the same hotel, and every night, we would gather out on the hallway to down the bottles of Ginebra Premium that were stashed in our check-in bags. (I merely watched.)

The next day, it was more of the same--our team strangely didn't gel the way we did during our Manila practice sessions. We ended up placing third in Pool B, after a fun-fun game with Singapore's Disc Knights. C'est la vie. We really couldn't expect to dominate considering we had only a few practice sessions, and were from seven different teams back home, all with different plays. On the bright side...

...we got to cheer for the other Philippine teams: Team Pilipinas and Boracay Dragons which placed second and third in Pool A, respectively. Finals match was between TP and Big Brother.

DIC, Dragons, and TP group hug

...I did a proper layout for the first time!!! I was thisclose to catching that disc at the endzone, and was so utterly frustrated that I didn't. But I did a proper layout for the first time!

...I am now in the possession of a pair of magical cleats! TP's Pia couldn't find a pair to replace her old ones, and was thus shoe-less the night before the tournament. I had packed an extra pair, which fit her perfectly. Pia went on to bag the Female MVP award! She was uh-mazing! I am building an altar for those cleats.

With Pia, wearing my prized cleats, after her jaw-dropping finals performance. Notice Putow (in orange) pouring a drink. Free-flowing beer during the finals!

...we still partied like champs.

Nobody parties like the Pinoy disc community. We were the only ones left after the finals, dancing on the ledge, no less! (Don't be fooled by that fake white guy. He's as Pinoy as dirty ice cream.)

...I can check "play at an international tourney" off my bucket list!

So that concludes my Shanghai tourney report. Not entirely an ideal ending, but happy nonetheless--we didn't win, but we had fun. And really, that's more than enough.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Empire State of Mind

I've seriously been missing New York lately.

I've only been there a handful of times, but it's one of my absolute favorite places, and I feel quite at home there. Last year, I was privileged enough to go twice. I believe it was The Secret in full effect--that photo above was my wallpaper, and sometimes, sitting in front of my Mac in the evening, it felt like I was looking out a window onto NYC. At the start of the year, I had also drawn myself in autumn attire, walking through Central Park with Hamil. I ended up going back to the city for work--and walking through Central Park--in the fall. Alas, Hamil couldn't come with me. Perhaps he should have drawn his own picture?

I guess I've just been feeling restless, and there's been some emotional stuff that I've had to deal with (realizing which friendships--and people--are true and which aren't). And I just need an escape. In NYC, at least to a visitor like myself, every day feels like an adventure. And I never feel like I have enough time to do everything I want to do. I want to watch more shows, go into more stores, linger in the park, perhaps toss a disc with friends, properly tour the museums (and get more than a glance at Van Gogh's works), figure out the subway, spend time with my family, and eat, eat, eat. But with Hamil this time.

The Secret, get to work.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Road to Shanghai

Let me blog a bit about getting a Chinese visa.

It ain't easy, especially considering all the road blocks I encountered. I intended to go on a mere four-day trip, primarily to compete at the 13th Shanghai Ultimate tournament. Some of the requirements for a first-time China tourist:
  • An NBI clearance specifically for travel, made more complicated by the fact that never in my more than eight years of working and traveling was I required to get one. (Go figure.) Tip: Should you need one, go to the NBI office in the afternoon. EVERYBODY goes in the morning.
  • A photocopy of my SSS ID (which I lost, and which would take months to replace) and contributions (which, apparently, SSS doesn't issue. So they gave me a certificate instead).
  • A certificate of bank deposit--which I had to re-submit,to the embassy because my initial submission was from the association where I keep my time deposit, not from a commercial bank. (The Korean embassy seemed to think it was fine, but oh well.)
  • A TIN ID--while trying to get this, I found out that all these years, I was listed as a "professional" and not an "employee," which means that I have "open cases" despite all the damn withholding tax I've been paying for nearly a decade.
  • Additional requirements for me, since they figured out I was a member of the media: letters from me and from my employer stating that I was not going to publish anything about the trip. (Hmm does blogging count?)
And then there was the matter of our passports.

Our rag-tag team made up of players from different Manila teams had submitted our passports, along with our other requirements, to one person (X) who was to take care of visa processing. It was a Saturday at Nuvali, and in the middle of a game, one of my Manila teammates told me, "Someone broke into X's car and took all the passports." Seeing that I wasn't really reacting, she added, "I'm not kidding."

I just shrugged and kept playing, strangely calm. The first thought that had occurred to me was, "If we don't have our passports, we weren't meant to go for some reason." So it was all good. I was at peace with that. I was just bummed that all my three passports--with my still-valid US visa and all my other old visas--were gone.

After the game, I headed to the clubhouse, where I was greeted with, "Anak ka ng swerte!" ("You're a child of good fortune!") My passport was one of just five (out of about 30) that were left behind! I started piecing together what had happened: Thief smashed a window and took X's bag and the paper bag lying beside it. This paper bag had our payments for the visa fees, plus the passports. Passports of those who had additional requirements were set aside and, thus, remained untouched.

And then reality set in. While I was relieved that my passport was safe, I felt really bad for everyone else. What about our grand plans of conquering Shanghai? What about all the fun we were supposed to have as a team? What about everything we'd paid for, all the plans we'd made?

We were thinking of all possible options and connections. We had some semblance of a plan in place (it partly involved DZMM...), but everybody was feeling utterly dejected. A teammate was texting me that night, and I could feel just how low her spirits were. I said a prayer to St. Anthony--whom I grew up thinking was the "saint of lost things"--before going to bed.

The next day, I was on my way home from a lunch event when I received a text message to go online. I logged on and found my entire team in a YM conference. Someone had contacted X's dad saying that they found a bunch of passports at McDonald's Tagaytay! The team was waiting to hear from two people who had volunteered to drive down south to check if the tip was for real.

We waited. And waited. We'd get occasional updates ("Rotonda na"), as one guy was connected to YM through his phone. Until finally...

All the passports were there! The cash was gone, but everything else was in order, albeit slightly crumpled. You could practically hear the collective sigh of relief over YM. And then there were the fearless forecasts: "Champion na 'to!" After all the crap the team had to go through, we were destined to win!

So did we? Will blog again soon.:)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Filler Post

Sorry I know I haven't posted in agesss. Got back from Shanghai yesterday. Will blog about the trip soon. For now, I leave you with my one and only note from Facebook--25 random facts about me that I posted a couple of years ago and just read again today.

1. When I was a kid, I wanted to be: a doctor, an archaeologist, a teacher (I come from a family of teachers), an interior designer, and Miss Universe. Not necessarily in that order.

2. In kindergarten, up until early grade school, my brothers would make fun of me when I would speak in English (laking-Tagalog kami). It's funny how I ended up becoming an editor.

3. I can't light matches. Or lighters for that matter.

4. I have this weird habit of pressing my lips against that area opposite my elbow. My mom tells me my dad does this too.

5. I have my dad's eyes, my mom's eyebrows, my dad's lips, my mom's jaw, my mom's ears ("Parang Volkswagen na nakabukas ang pinto," my dad once told me), and an improved version of my mom's nose. My beautiful mother calls me an "improvement of the race," though I think she's purtier. I have my dad's skinny legs. But they're all muscular now from all the running and dancing. I earned those damn muscles.

6. I'm OC about money in my wallet. The bills have to be arranged in ascending order, faces forward. And they have to be arranged with the oldest bill in front and the newest at the back per denomination.

7. I have two surviving older brothers (the eldest, Tonton, passed away two months before I was born), but I consider Kuya Vic (my first cousin based in NY) another brother. He's insanely, sweetly protective of me. I'm convinced I'd still be single if I had grown up with him around.

8. I am absolutely in love with my nephews, Anton and Diego, and niece, Marga. I taught Diego to say "Awesome!" so now he says it whenever he sees me. Awesome!

9. My chocolate crinkles used to sell like...hotcakes. My chocolate chip cookies too. But I got so tired of baking after spending way too many Saturdays in the kitchen.

10. I am deathly afraid of (and grossed out by) ipis, especially the flying kind. I can't even kill 'em coz that means I would have to go near 'em. The only time I've killed a full-grown cockroach was when I walked into a dark room and felt something crunchy underfoot. Like, eyew.

11. I have three best friends, all of whom I got close to at different points in my life: Bridel in grade school, Patching in high school, and Mads in college.

12. Strangely, people think I'm a romance-novel reader and chick-flick watcher. But I haven't read a single romance novel, and I only watch chick flicks on HBO.

13. Hamil asked me why I walk with my hands in my pockets sometimes. I wondered about it one time as I was walking with my hands in my pockets...then saw my dad in front of me, doing the exact same thing.

14. I don't eat polvoron, peanuts, kare-kare, and Pinoy fruits like santol, bayabas, sineguelas, and duhat.

15. My first kiss was stolen from me. In nursery school. By a dude named Honey Boy. I am not making this up. I wish I was.

16. It's narcissistic but I like my eye color, especially when the sun hits my peepers. It's pretty unusual. A friend described it as "maple syrup na dinaanan ng ilaw."

17. I can't whistle. Or ride a bike.

18. I have no solid dance training. I took ballet class for about a month before my parents pulled me out for some reason. It's one of my big sort-of regrets. But people say I might have a hard time doing hiphop now if I had taken ballet, so...yeah.

19. I'd like to live abroad for a year--maybe Spain. I'm still trying to convince Hamil to move the family there when the kids are in high school. We'd spend our weekends traveling to the different regions and sampling all their food.

20. One day, I'll be able to speak at least four languages fluently: Filipino, English, Spanish, and maybe French. And I vil rule ze vorld!

21. I'm allergic to alcohol but I drink anyway. I'm stubborn that way, but I know my limits.

22. I have "food and drink phases"--when I like something, I'll eat it every day for, like, two weeks. I had a sago't gulaman phase, a Chef Tony's cheddar popcorn phase, a choco-soymilk phase, an Oreo cereal phase, a quezo real ice cream with chocolate syrup phase (this one had to end because I started muffin-topping out of my jeans)...

23. Whenever Gladiator is on, I can't help but stop and watch it. I even recite the characters' lines with them sometimes.

24. I can run in three-inch heels. I had to learn to do it at my old office, when I was always running to the bundy clock to beat the time.

25. The first live concert I ever watched was...Menudo when I was in first grade. My dad took me. Now THAT is what I call love.

Again, I'm tagging everybody! Let me know once you've posted your own random 25.:)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Me, in Room Form

This photo from today's Sneak Peek over at Design*Sponge is sooo me.

Lots of neutrals and classic pieces with pops of color. It would be totally me if the wall and/or the chair were white.

Random post in the midst of a hectic week.

P.S. Still trying to get used to the new Design*Sponge site. Kinda miss the old layout.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Recipe: Kofta Balls

Quickie post. I got the main meatball recipe from the May issue of Good Housekeeping. I just whipped up sauce, trying to replicate Uncle Moe's version.

Kofta Balls


1/4 kilo ground beef
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Pinch of paprika
Half an onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
About 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Egg (eyeball it), slightly beaten
1/2 a small block of quick-melt cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tsps onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pack tomato sauce
Ground black pepper
Chili powder
Coriander, crushed
  1. Make meatballs: Combine all ingredients except cheese. Add more bread crumbs if mixture is too wet.
  2. Wrap about a tablespoon of the meat around cheese to form a 1-inch ball.
  3. Pan-fry until golden brown. (I removed it from heat when almost done and popped it in the oven for about 5-10 minutes.)
  4. Make sauce: Saute onions and garlic. Add tomato sauce and all spices. Simmer.
  5. Top meatballs with sauce. Serve with rice.
Makes about 10 meatballs. Enjoy!