I ♥ San Francisco

I mentioned in my last blog entry that I was going on a three-week trip to the United States. The three weeks have passed and I’m now back in the Philippines.

The last three weeks have been amazing. The last time I was in the U.S. was when I was 11. You don’t fully appreciate experiences when you’re that young. I remember I was just so homesick to really explore anything and you can’t really explore without an adult when you’re 11 so the experiences are limited.

This time, I went with my family and at 31, I can say I am able to appreciate new experiences more.

Our vacation started in San Francisco where we stayed for three days. It’s a pity we only were able to stay for such a short time because it was my favorite place. The weather was just so ideal, having come from a place with an average temperature 30 degrees celsius on hot summer days (which for the Philippines comes in March and ends in May). We stepped out of the San Francisco International Airport and a gust of cold wind (16 degrees celsius!) greeted us.

Gabbi and I enjoying the cold!

Outside SFO

We stayed at Residence Inn, a Marriott airport hotel, which is located by the bay, and is really beautiful especially during the daytime. Ours was a two-bedroom suite with a fully-equipped kitchen. The bed was too soft for me but the yummy sausage they served at breakfast made up for the discomfort. Here are some pictures at the hotel:

Mom, Gabbi, and Amico

Loving the weather

Crossing the bridge when we got there

The kiddos enjoying the view

We arrived around 10:00 P.M. so we went straight to the hotel that night. The next day, after the above photo opportunities at the hotel, we headed to downtown San Francisco to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Outside SF MOMA

Cool device where you type in a numeric code of an artwork and
it plays an audio explanation about the artist or the work, sometimes
even showing a video (like how Andy Warhol did his huge works)

A Frank Stella

Gabbi at the top floor bridge

Lesende Reader by Gerhard Richter

Red Liz by Andy Warhol

Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat) by Henri Matisse

After the trip to the museum, we headed to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.

Mom posing

Eating at the Franciscan (which we were told later at our SF tour
was not the best seafood resto at the wharf)

Mom’s seafood pasta

Some Fish and Chips

And a view of Alcatraz

The next day we went on a day tour of San Francisco that made me appreciate the beauty of San Francisco even more.

First stop: the Golden Gate Bridge

Another cold morning

Passing by the beach

A super cold beach! The tour guide said some people actually
try to surf and swim here!

Even after reading this warning

Also stopped at a high point to get a view of the city

Also got to see San Francisco’s Painted Ladies

Here’s another one

Our time in San Francisco was lovely indeed and I wish I can get the chance to visit again soon. Next blog will be about our week in LA!


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June 5, 2010 at 9:01 pm 3 comments

Quick Update

My family and I are flying to San Francisco tomorrow. I haven’t gone back to the U.S. since I was 11 so I’m quite excited to see Disneyland again at 31 years old and see Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and New York for the first time!

Another big thing I’m excited about is seeing my Dad again after 20 years. Last time I saw him was when I visited the U.S. when I was 11. I’m so happy and excited.

May 12, 2010 at 12:43 am 2 comments

Holy Week Break Update

I am officially on break for the Holy Week. And let me tell you, I am feeling great! I have been dreaming about this break for a few weeks now, usually when I wake up Monday mornings and I think about how great it would be if I could sleep in and plan to read, eat, watch TV or DVDs, and do other relaxing things at home.

Well, I am on my second day of no work now and I thought I’d blog about the things I’ve been doing and the things I want to do for the rest of the break (three full days more of doing nothing).

1. I woke up on the first day of the break in my brother’s airconditioned room (for friends from the US, it gets very humid here in the Philippines especially this time of the year) cuddled up with the cutest baby Shih-tzu ever. It’s amazing that our pup, Audrey, does not wake up in the middle of the night. She sleeps as long as I do. Maybe even longer if I don’t force her to get up. Brought her to the vet to get a vaccine shot in the afternoon and got her some dog vitamins. Aside from this, most of the day yesterday was spent  in front of my Macbook or my TV. Very productive, don’t you think?

2. Today was a little more productive. I decided today I needed to make a dent on my reading. I am still reading Watermelon by Marian Keyes (the first 200 pages are quite slow for my taste). I’m a little over halfway done so I should be able to finish by tomorrow, which is good because I cannot wait to get started on my next book. I think I’ll start reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Catching up on my reading

In our comfortable balcony

With the requisite reading companions

She wanted to keep me company, too.

3. Right now, apart from writing this entry, I am also looking through the blogrolls of blogs that I follow. I am trying out Bloglines and looking for blogs I can follow using the service. I’ve seen new ones that are very interesting. I am excited to follow them.

Here are some of them:
Locally, there’s chuvaness.livejournal.com who is followed by thousands here in the Philippines and a lovely friend of mine from church, Sam, who blogs at http://www.happysammy.com/ .

Elsewhere, I’m starting to follow Lauren from Texas, Nothing But Bonfires, BooMama, Sweet Bliss, These Little Moments, Callapider Days, and Suburban Euphoria.

4. I went out to walk early this evening. I am still a little wary about running since I don’t have the right shoes yet. I don’t think I ever mentioned it in this blog but I got a running-related injury about a week before my first real race and I’ve consulted other runners and described the pain and circumstances that led to it and consensus is that I might need new running shoes and that I should do gait analysis so I’ll know what’s wrong with how I run. Haven’t gotten down to doing that yet because I don’t really have the budget for new running shoes right now.

For the next few days, I am hoping to watch a few movies on DVD, arrange my books on my newly-installed and newly-painted shelves, work on my to-bring-to-Boracay list, work on a few blog entries for this blog and my book blog, and maybe also do some homework.

Hope everyone else is having a restful Holy Week!

April 2, 2010 at 2:18 am 2 comments

Meet Audrey

I was heartbroken when my puppy Truffles died last February. It was really difficult coming to terms with her death. So when my Mom told me we were getting a new dog, I said I wasn’t ready. I guess my heart was still raw from the pain I went through when we lost Truffles. I didn’t want to fall in love with a dog again.

But no matter what I said, Mom had already decided we were getting the puppy. You know how they say Mothers Know Best? Well, it’s true. I guess she knew this was what I needed to finally let Truffles go.

It’s funny because my new puppy Audrey is so much like Truffles. Sometimes I catch myself calling her Truffles instead of Audrey. She’s a lot more energetic than my former sick puppy but she’s just as loving, just as loyal, and just as adorable. Truffles will never be forgotten. She will always be in my heart. But I am very happy we have Audrey in our lives.

Meet my new baby, Audrey.

March 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Currently in March

Got the idea of this regular monthly post of talking about what I’m currently doing and loving from Kathleen of Kapachino. For those of you who don’t know, Kathleen is my favorite blogger. Do check out her blog. Anyway, looked for the history of her Currently posts and she credits Lauren of Lauren from Texas for the Currently idea. Thank you, ladies!

Current Book(s): I am currently reading Watermelon by Marian Keyes, which is about a woman whose husband leaves her for another woman on the day their first child is born. I love Marian Keyes (my favorite Keyes novel is Sushi for Beginners.) and I hope this one (her first novel) does not disappoint. I am also reading S.H.A.P.E. by Erik Rees. This is a Purpose Driven Life resource and is supposed to help you figure out what your unique “S.H.A.P.E.” (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences) is. Also thinking of starting American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Current Playlist: Whenever Idol season comes, I find myself always passively singing songs the contestants perform. For this week, I’ve been singing “Everybody Knows” by John Legend, sung by Alex Lambert, “Think” by Aretha Franklin sung by Siobhan Magnus, “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy sung by Andrew Garcia.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I would have to say American Idol. I literally try to work around the AI schedule. If I can’t watch live (6PM Manila time on Wednesdays and Thursdays), I make sure I am at my workstation (where I have a television. Yes, it’s needed for the job, Yay!) so I can catch the episode. I am also still addicted to Honest Tea’s Milk Green Tea with Black Jelly. Anything that good can’t be good for me.

Current Color: I would have to say still purple. I am also attracted anything lime green.

Current Drink: Ice cold water and the aforementioned Milk Green Tea with Black Jelly.

Current Food: Cebu Lechon and Roast Chicken (by Baliwag and Robinsons Supermarket)

Current Favorite Show: American Idol, Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, and The Good Wife. Loved this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy!

Current Wish List: New running shoes (ones that don’t make my feet hurt), a MacBook Pro, a Blackberry, a new car

Current Triumphs: We had a successful party for our entertainment magazine YES! Magazine two weeks ago. It was tiring but a lot of fun. Here are some photos:

The Gutierrezes Ruffa and Richard being interviewed by reporters

Young actress KC Concepcion

That’s me with popular “starmaker” German Moreno

Current Celebrity Crush: John Lloyd Cruz. 🙂

John Lloyd and moi 🙂

Current Indulgence: Sebastian’s Ice Cream in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Current Mood: Feeling in need of a long break. Weekends are just never long enough. But pretty excited about things to come.

March 7, 2010 at 11:46 pm 3 comments

A little customer service goes a long way

I have been getting my nails done at the California Nails and Day Spa (Robinsons Galleria branch) for a few years now and I have always been happy with their services. They do my nails well. I have tried getting mani/pedis, footspa, foot massage, and back massage there and so far, I have no complaints.

There was one time a few months ago when I walked in on a Sunday afternoon. I only had an hour to spare before I had to go to church, so when I was told that I had to wait for around 50 minutes, I said it was okay, that I was in a hurry, and I’ll just come back next time. I couldn’t ignore my unsightly toenails so I tried a different nail salon — Luxe Nail Lounge located at the basement of Robinson Galleria.The treatment was good; nothing fantastic, though. And so I said to myself I would remain to be a loyal client of California Nails and Day Spa.

California Nails and Day Spa went as far as texting me a few weeks later to follow up when I’d be coming back. I thought, wow, this nail salon really goes the extra mile. I joyfully answered the text message that I would be back soon, that I had to get my nails done somewhere else a few weeks before but I still preferred their salon. All was well until the texter replied: Okay po, pwede po malaman name niyo? (In English: Okay, but may I get your name, please?) Quite funny that they had my number but not name. Strike One.

True to my word, the next time I had to get my nails done, I went straight to California Nails and Day Spa. I remember that that was a weekday and I had had a long, tiring day and was eager to have my feet pampered. I went to the salon a little before 7:00 P.M. Was not expecting to be served immediately, of course, but was expecting to be served that evening.

Me: Hi, papedicure ako (In English: I would like to get a pedicure)
Receptionist: Ma’am, puno po. Wala na pong gagawa sa inyo. (I’m sorry but the place is full, no one will be able to serve you at this time)
Me: It’s okay. I can wait and just come back. Just let me know what time I can be accommodated.
Receptionist consulting another receptionist: Naku, Ma’am. Kasi 9 kami magco-close. [Remember that I came in before 7 and they had at least 5 manicurists there]
Me: So hind niyo na ako ma-aaccommodate? (So, does that mean you can’t accommodate me anymore?)
Receptionist: Ma’am, yung mga nandito kasi nagpa-appointment sila. (Translation: The ones who are having their nails done made appointments, they did not walk in {like me}) [I cannot believe the receptionist took a tone with me as if teaching me the proper thing to do as a customer]
Me: Okay. (and I walk out)
Strike 2

I have to explain why I was upset. First, I distinctly remember that I came in at past 8:00 in the past (in 2008) and they were still able to accommodate me. Yes, the salon posted the ‘closed’ sign at 9:00 but while the manicurist (my favorite manicurist) was finishing up, the others tidied up. They don’t really close shop at 9:00 and I knew that from experience. So, I went to Luxe Nail Salon again that evening. By the time I was able to get to Luxe, it was already past 7:00. The salon was also full but I was asked if I was willing to wait. I said yes and that I’d grab a quick bite and be back at 8:00. When I came back, my feet were pampered (better than the first time) and we finished well after the 9:00 PM closing time. No receptionist made me feel bad about not making an appointment earlier or coming in at the hour that I did. And I’ll bet if I leave my name and number, they’d know who they were texting.

I also have to mention that there is a strike 3 but I ignored it before since I didn’t really get affected but I might as well share it, because I know that some people would mind. I came into the salon middle of last year and I was wearing an empire-cut top. The lady receptionist at California Nail and Day Spa as I was paying for a service, asked me if I was pregnant. Good thing I was in a good mood but hello, did no one ever tell her never to assume someone is pregnant? I think though that she might have asked because she was with child. Last time I saw her (also the last time I set foot in the nail salon), she was just about ready to pop.

Needless to say, it is unlikely that I’ll go back there. It’s too bad because the services are excellent. The good news is Luxe Nail Lounge has a new customer in me.

*-*-*

My Mom, sister, and I flew to Boracay last Friday. We were booked to fly to Boracay via Sea Air, which meant we board the plane at the Manila Dometic Airport. Have you seen the Manila Domestic Airport lately? It’s still an old building but it is much cleaner than it used to be! The restrooms were very clean, stocked with toilet paper, and has automatic flush! My Mom said it’s much, much better than the NAIA. She told the restroom attendants, who asked her to put her comments in writing. You know what that got us? A stay at the VIP Lounge! My Mom was so happy she wrote another email to the General Manager. That’s what a little customer service can do. Bravo, Manila Domestic Airport!

March 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm 9 comments

Goodbye, Truffles

The day I first met Truffles

Dearest Truffles,

You died today, February 21, 2010,  a little before 9PM, in my arms. When I woke up today, extra early because I was participating in a run, I didn’t think it would be the last morning I would snuggle up in bed with you. Tomorrow, when I wake up, I will be heartbroken not to see your big, beautiful eyes staring at me, waiting for me to wake up. I will be heartbroken because instead of having you beside me as I try to sleep for ten more minutes, you will be downstairs, your lifeless body wrapped in a towel and beautiful pink paper.

I know I told you this afternoon that you could go if it’s too painful to continue living. Sweetheart, now I know you were really just waiting for us to say that, because as the hours passed, your body became weaker and weaker. Thank you for trying, for us, for me.

I never thought I could ever love a dog as much as I love you. You are the loveliest, sweetest puppy ever. You brought out the best in me, in Gabbi, in Mommy even. You will be missed terribly.

We will never forget you, Truf. Thank you for being a part of our lives.

February 21, 2010 at 10:19 pm 3 comments

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The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. -Psalm 145:13-14

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