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Monday, April 26, 2010

Survival Notes from the Teambuilding Weekend at Caliraya

You’re probably reading this with a sore leg or sunburn. Thanks to TFC (ehem, ehem) for another round of energy-zapping (and probably stressful) set of teambuilding activities last weekend at Caliraya Recreation Center in Lumban, Laguna. True to its initial vision, “social club year” was capped with something simple and massive fun.

Surviving it is definitely a good back story. Here’s the list from my plate (feel free to share yours, too):

1. The resort is isolated by a lake so it means an extra five minutes boat ride to reach the civilization. Not only that, the crossing is limited by a curfew. This means, you have to secure the booze (among other stuff, of course) the moment you check in. There’s a store near the main building that sells goody-goody food like chips, water and soda. Price is reasonable though (a small bottle of C2 costs P25). Unfortunately, the store closes at midnight. So when the evening gets cozier, the best you can get is a chaser;

2. Yes, you can sneak in some long necks but the idea there is to keep it discreet (or else, expect some corkage). Pretty much just like any other resort in the Philippines and Filipinos are pretty much good at under-the-tables. What actually happened last weekend was we converted one of the rooms (C4 it is) into Distillery (a favorite hang-out place in The Fort). We had a barista there who served Ja-Coke, “Guyabano juice” and the like but we had to finish the drink inside the room. Since C4 couldn’t accommodate all of the tugs-tugs-tugs people, we ended up chitchatting at the nearby alley. Good times;

3. I just realized last weekend that sunburn is not always synonymous to sun. You can get it even during the night;

4. Officemate Josh celebrated his birthday there, complete with tipsy kind of singing and a little interview. Proof of the interview here;

5. There are lots of things to do inside the resort. Aside from the usual swimming pool, basketball court and videoke machine, they’ve got a spot for jet ski and canoe. They also have this water roller and a giant round thing called Earth Ball. Plus a section for wall climbing that connects to the zip line (the resort’s best seller). There's also a mini zipline called Slide Pinoy (there's a video here). I’m not into sports and the only thing that fascinates me big time is the mudslide. It’s a must-try (which I did for three or more times). I can say that beyond words, officemates Justin, Joey and Jay-jay enjoyed it, too. Proof of the slide here and here;

6. Just a thought: sliding into the mud is best enjoyed with friends. Literally and figuratively;

7. If you care for some precious me moments, good spots could be the viewing deck at the gazebo and the hanging bridge. The more obvious option is the House of Prayers;

8. Meals are served within certain of period of time only. Except for breakfast (until 8am-ish), that in-house rule is tolerable. On our part, we went to the function hall at a little past the morning schedule and we ended up sharing a limited plate of hotdogs and mini-pancakes. I’m not sure if they have the usual sunny side ups. Food is generally OK. I can single out the butterscotch dessert during lunch on Day 2;

9. If there’s another activity during the weekend that moved me most, it’s probably the bonfire ceremony. Or better yet, the camaraderie established while looking at the fire and enjoying its warmth after having a breezy dinner by the lake (check out the video here). Biblically, there are two elements of cleansing. One is water and the other is fire; and

10. I believe that a teambuilding event is effective if you see colleagues from all walks of life hanging out. Getting drunk altogether is, of course, another statement.

Complete set of pictures here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Phantom of the Libera (Show)

My music inclination last Friday somewhat surprised me. I don’t know what’s got into me but the road led me to RCBC Plaza to catch the Libera show at 8pm. The little boys’ choir music, just a background, is synonymous to Vienna Boys Choir (probably the most popular example), Montserrat Choir in Barcelona and to our very own Loboc Children’s Choir in Bohol.

But the whole experience was not smooth and I have a story to tell.

I came to the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium only to discover that the tickets had been sold out. It’s not that I was not anticipating it (tickets are very cheap at P850 for orchestra then P650 and P500, I think) but the contact details on their show poster seemed bogus and there was no way for me to secure a ticket. I thought then that the tickets cannot be bought in advance so I arrived at the venue an hour over only to be disappointed. Last resort was to buy the CD for the autograph signing which will be held right after the one-hour concert. At least, I thought, if I can’t see them perform live, I have a signed copy of their music.

Just before I went to Soup Kitchen, I even made an appeal with the resident ticket seller that I will buy any returned tickets in case there’s any. The potato soup and herb bread had never been that comforting. Roughly minutes before the start, I came back to the booth but to no avail. The last two tickets were fetched, according to the seller, by the British consul himself.

Got no choice then but to watch patrons enter the auditorium. Then I started talking to this guy wearing a “Spring Awakening” jacket and shorts and shared my desperation to watch the boys sing live (let’s just call him “Mike”). He mentioned that I should give him some minutes and maybe he could let me in. I thought it was a joke and even considered him to be a scalper. Mike left after a moment and I just stayed in the area.

Five minutes before the show, I saw Mike again on the other end prompting me to follow him. We rode this small elevator and went past two more doors leading to the top most part of the auditorium, something like close to the ceiling. Mike happens to be the official caretaker of the theater and the place he just brought me in is where the big spotlights were used. There I met the spotlight guy (let’s just call him “John”). A Monobloc chair was waiting for me there and casually, Mike mentioned that so long as I don’t have fear of heights, I can enjoy the show for free. Out of courtesy, I offered a payment but he refused.

There I realized that I was wearing my blue “Spelling Bee” shirt. I got it after watching the production by Atlantis which is the same producer of the local staging of “Spring Awakening”. Maybe that did it. Mike shared some stories about theater productions which I gladly welcomed and listened to with enthusiasm. He’s amazed that I dig stage plays and the like. We exchanged contact numbers after he said “Minsan, may mga complimentary tickets ako, ‘di ko naman alam kung sino ang mga bibigyan.” John, in a loud voice (that’s even during the Libera performance), would share his own stories like the best time to watch a play is during the rehearsals. Mike would occasionally and jokingly shut him up and John would retort “’Di naman nila tayo naririnig eh!

So I watched the Libera show for free and from a different and exciting angle. I can say that it’s one of the best concert experiences I had, regardless if one of the soloists from the group didn’t reach one of the songs’ high note. For the show alone, it’s a bit short for me. All in all, I like their repertoire that includes Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” in which one of the boys mentioned about the only place they’ve been to in the song lyrics is Cebu (they had a concert there last year). “Bayan Ko” was their encore song. Sweet.

The autograph signing was also fun because I did try my best to catch them on iPhone without even knowing their names or whether they are popular among the lot. I heard stories from the guys behind me that Koreans are annoyed about Libera having a longer stop in the Philippines than in South Korea. On the contrary, the Korean girls in front of me seemed to have a ball. They even gave the boys some lollies during the signing. I never attempted a small talk but at the back of my mind, I was guessing, the boys might be tired and sleepy.

More celfone pics here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life is an iPhone # 035

Clockwise from top row:

1. Green Chapel. In Lucena United Doctors Hospital. It’s my first time in years to attend such a solemn (and humbling) mass celebration in this small chapel;

2. Aussie Steak. Tried this steak in SM City – North EDSA’s Kangaroo Jack. Surprisingly, the price range is relatively cheap, a little similar to those from food court stalls. I don’t remember what I ordered but it’s just OK;

3. Xiamen Foot Massage. While killing time for a film, I found this wellness place in SM City – North EDSA Annex called “Be In Tune”. Since I was already strolling then for more than an hour, I tried their Xiamen foot massage for 30 minutes for P260. It’s relaxing as expected and deserves another visit. Too bad the mall is far from my place;

4. Pinoy Pirata. A friend tipped to me about a stall in Quiapo that sells Filipino film classics for P25 (sans the case). I understand that piracy is bad but this one’s slightly different. Unfortunately, these films do not have any available digital copy yet in the market. Until just recently when one Good Samaritan started to archive films from VHS and the like. I got a rare copy of Chito Roño’s “Private Show”, Gerry de Leon’s “Banaue”, Lino Brocka’s “PX”, Ishmael Bernal’s “Galawgaw” and a whole lot more;

5. Fish & Chips. After the Sam Milby – Anne Curtis film’s presscon, we headed to Wicked Kitchen just opposite the ELJ Building. It’s very much known for a yummy cookie dessert but I had their fish and chips for the main course. It’s just OK for me;

6. Landmark. I think it’s been ages since I last passed by this other department store in Makati. An ongoing make-over is evident in the ceiling so I made sure to document it. Sooner or later, the store will be very much beaming with that all-new interior. I can’t wait;

Friday, April 09, 2010

Thoughts from the Swimming Pool

As of this writing, I am still in the process of recuperating from all-night booze and a little swimming at a certain Joseph’s Resort in Antipolo City (near Assumption College there) last Thursday. I didn’t know that at this age, I can still survive such kind of partying like a college student. Must be the company I was with.

Aside from the place being well-secured (complete with a caretaker who can be approached almost any time of the night), the cottage we were in is also well-maintained, complete with neat beds and sheet, a mini-ref and a flat screen TV on the second floor. The swimming pool can go as nine feet deep and the area that serves both as a bar and kitchen is serviceable enough. Toilets are equally clean.

The partying proved once again that you can never go wrong with two important V’s: videoke and vodka. Mood was generally fun. No room for emo and the like (well just less of it, I think) and the night (and the morning after) was spent with mostly singing. It’s an advantage to say the least that I was happy. The downside of that is this lingering thought that sooner or later, I may be seeing these guys only on an occasional basis. No more flying pillow or a noisy dog tag or a hideous question on how to make a woman happy.

Seeing people leave a company is like having a break-up. It’s like being dumped for someone else. Most of the time, it’s painful. The only consolation there is to understand the reasons behind it which varies from incompetency down to this so-called pursuit of contentment. Acceptance is indeed happiness’ best friend.

Furthermore, seeing peeps leave is like sitting on an almost empty jeep, watching passengers alight and take their own tracks. I wish I could discourage them from doing so but the stop I am heading to may not be healthy for them (or it’s the other way around). In a moment like this, I have to trust manong driver to just bring me to my own destination safe and sane. This doesn’t mean that I am sold to the idea, that everything will be OK and that I am not affected. This only means that life is mostly like that: sucky and freeing, evil and orgasmic, destructing and constructing. In between, there’s camaraderie. In between, there are lots of beer drinking, jump shots, tong-its when drunk, singing “Doon Lang”, a tap at the back and a whole lot more.

To you with whom I had a great time spending an evening by the swimming pool, thank you. Let’s not end our journey there. Pl0x.

More celfone pics here.
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