Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Facebook on Chrome: What the?

Anyone experiencing this? For the past few days, Facebook seems to be messed up when I use Chrome as a browser. Notification drop down doesn't work, chat won't pop up, and a lot of other bothersome issues (mostly the real time javascript/ajax applications). Really frustrating. I thought it could be my system, so I rebooted, and tried again. The same thing. Tried it on Safari and Firefox, and everything worked out fine. The thing is, it seems to be only affecting Facebook.

Could this be an offensive move by Facebook against the almighty Google? Apparently, it has made me switched from Chrome to Safari. If this is a tactical move, it's a pretty darned good one.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

iOS5 Beta on Pre-Release for Apple Developers

The iOS5 Beta has been pre-released for iPAD, iPhone and iPod developers. Since I am one, I'm now downloading it to check it out, probably install it on my first gen iPad first. Hopefully it's not a buggy release.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sweetest Serenade for Kat de Castro

Our sweetest serenade this month: Our harana surprise for Kat de Casto (daughter of Kabayan Noli). Harana.ph artists, Rap Presa and Nanun de Borja, barged into Petit Four bakeshop and sang two tunes for Kat. But there was another surprise in the end - watch the video!

Good job, Harana.ph team!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One of My Favorite Haranas We Did This Month

Our Harana.ph team recently serenaded Camille from her husband Ryan in her office at Fort Bonifacio. We sent Vince, Nanun and Try to surprise her while at work. Tears of joy! Love it. Hope you enjoy it like I did.

Harana.ph is one of our "feel-good" businesses because our goal is to make people happy all over the Philippines, through surprises and serenades. So far, so good.

Please do visit our website, http://www.harana.ph or our Facebook fanpage at http://www.facebook.com/haranaph for more videos, or if you want to send one yourself. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gloria Maris Hot Pot on a Holiday

Since we weren't able to eat at Green Maris (or Gloria Maris hot pot restaurant) on Father's Day, my dad decided to treat us today. I've been craving for this since yesterday, so I prepared myself for gluttony by not eating breakfast. 

The first thing to arrive was the bowl of birthday noodles. What can I say, it's birthday noodles. Yummy toppings, with naughty cholesterol-infused quail eggs and rubbery squid - chinese noodle goodness. The end result was an empty bowl.

Then the hot pot ingredients arrived, together with the Yang Chow Fried Rice. Now we're talking. We ordered the fish balls, shrimp wantons, abalone mushrooms (awesome), and some sort of green leafy vegetable. Not in the picture was the beef, which was sneakily placed on the bottom tray.

I couldn't eat hot pot without my all-time favorite gout-inducing tofu.

Oh yes, it has reached boiling point, ladies and gentlemen. Time for the ingredients to swim in their choice of spicy or plain soup.

The selection of sauces and condiments beside us. I only used the chili though, because I've been salivating for good chinese chili paste all week.

Here's Gabby enjoying his Yang Chow.

There goes our diet down the drain.

My son, gabby was so satisfied, he fell asleep in the car while munching on an oreo cookie (hence the black crumbs around the mouth). We went to S&R Pricemart after lunch to do some groceries. Guess what happened? Left my car door open the whole time! For 45 minutes, my car was open for looting. Good thing that the roving security guard noticed it, and stayed with the car until we finished shopping. I hope he puts the 50 pesos tip to good use.

And just to share with you, I saw "Caffeine-free" Coke on the shelves. Do you still consider this as Coke? 300+ pesos for 12 cans. 

As a whole, it was a good day. It's back to work tomorrow. Daddy duties again! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Green Lantern: Appreciation is Inversely Proportionate to Expectation

We caught the film, Green Lantern, today on Father's Day after a good lunch at Amici, Greenhills.
Reviews on the web weren't that fantastic with someone even cruelly blogging "Green is the color of boredom". As a matter of fact, as we were leaving the theater after the movie, I heard some people say that they slept through the film. So I entered the Cinema 5 of Robinson's Galleria expecting the worst. Surprise, surprise...my wife and I enjoyed the movie, even though she fell asleep for a bit in the middle of it.

My thoughts on the movie:
  • Special effects and set design were spectacular. Lots of green though.
  • Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern? I'm still undecided. I always thought of him more as a romantic comedy kind of guy with that non-superhero person. I guess this helped in adding a little comic relief in the movie. He's also lean and fit, which makes the costume sort of cool. 
  • Storyline not as deep and engaging as I would have wanted it (battle between the "greens-Will" and the "yellows-Fear"). Kind of corny?
  • Audio was fantastic. It's so effective, it made the bad scenes looked really good.
  • The mask did no good in hiding his identity. But that's not their fault, since it's based on the comic character.
I guess appreciation is inversely proportionate to expectation. When you expect the worse, you will appreciate the movie more. I liked the movie despite the fact that everybody was saying it was just okay, or that it was boring. In fact, after the movie, our reaction was "Hey it's not that bad." Still, we went home not saying a word about it anymore.

I feel that it's a movie that you will enjoy watching, but will stop talking about after a few days. I'm not a huge DC Comics or a Green Lantern fan, so I just sat back and enjoyed the great effects, comical lines and fast-paced action. Younger people who don't know Green Lantern from their childhood will probably not love this. I'm not sure how avid Green Lantern comic fans will react to this, though - will probably start a revolt. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another Successful Harana in Pampanga

Last Thursday, Harana.ph (my company that does surprise serenades around the Philippines) drove all the way to Pampanga to do a surprise harana from Bojok to his wife, Knor, in celebration of their 14 years of blissful marriage. I tagged along with the team because the sender of the harana happened to be the first cousin of my wife, so I wanted to supervise and check it out myself. As expected, it was another successful serenade surprise for my whole team, and once again, we made a girl cry out of happiness. What girl could resist the voice of Vince Alaras (Southborder) singing one of their hits right before her very eyes.

Details of this harana:
The victim: Knor Batac, mother of 2 kids, husband of Bojok for 14 years
The sender: Bojok Batac
The event: 14th year  Anniversary
Place: Max's Restaurant, SM Pampanga
Serenade Artist: Vince Alaras (former Southborder frontman)
Instrumentalist: Nanun de Borja (Coffeestlye)
Coordinator: Tryron de Guzman (Coffeestyle)
Task: To surprise Knor with a serenade while dining in a restaurant for their 14th anniversary

When we arrived in San Fernando, Pampanga, Vince and Nanun rehearsed a little behind my car before the scheduled harana, while goofing around with us and the coordinator, Try. My wife and I took photos for documentation.

After some mobile coordination with the sender, we entered SM Pampanga to meet the accomplice, Krizia, to get the bouquet of flowers. I noticed a lot of people looking at Vince, former frontman for Southborder. That's my wife, Gaye, taking photos while walking.

We stopped by a Jollibee on the way to the location.

Vince received the flowers from the accomplice before going in the restaurant for the surprise.

When the time arrived, we went quickly to Max's restaurant for the surprise harana.

The team went straight to their table to surprise them. A lot of by-standers were getting a treat also from the mini-concert we created inside Max's Restaurant.

Vince sang three songs, including their hit song, Kahit Kailan, to the wife.

Knor could not hold back the tears of joy. One reason why we love working as Harana.ph. We've done so many serenades, and each one is so special to us. Here is Vince reading a love letter/poem for her from Bojok, sincere, emotional, beautiful and poetic. Bojok got a little teary eyed as well. 

More songs from Vince....

Some congratulatory words from Vince to wrap up the surprise harana.

The lovely couple celebrating their anniversary. Plus pogi points for Bojok that night! Hm...who's that girl behind them watching the coverage?

Picture taking with the couple and the Harana.ph team. 

Some waiters also came to join in the photo shoot. I have no idea how I'm going to send these photos to them.

Vince was really excited about his "Chicken all you can" meal. Thanks Vince for a job well done.

What's left of the "chicken all you" can plates. Only the harana boys ordered, while my wife and I ate sinigang. After this, they got really dizzy from eating too much chicken.

There are more photos at http://www.facebook.com/haranaph. Watch out for the video of this harana! Meanwhile, you might want to check out our other harana clients - http://www.facebook.com/haranaph?sk=app_2392950137

Harana.ph is a business I established with partners late last year, is the first and only professional serenade service in the country today, where we send professional artists to surprise serenade your loved ones. If you want to send more than the usual gifts, don't hesitate to contact me personally. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Passport Renewal at DFA: A Better System Goes a Long Way

Today, we went to DFA to have my wife's passport renewed and my 2-year old's first passport processed. 

We left the house at 6:30 am with horrors playing in my mind with images of long queues, body heat and noisy fixers. Our appearance appointment was at 8:00 am, so we were hell bent on making it on time, since I didn't want to reschedule it again. We arrived pretty early and parked at DFA headquarters on Roxas Blvd., only to find out the passport appearances have been moved to the new building at Macapagal Ave near Mall of Asia. We were really hungry since we left without breakfast, so we decided to just get it over with.

Well, to tell you honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. We were in and out of there in like an hour or so (for a government agency, this is really good), and waiting wasn't really a bother. Our appointment time was 8:00 am but we were at the cashier even before that time. The building looked new, good airconditioning, and clean. There were no fixers around at all since it was strictly enforced. Staff were courteous, and led the people properly to their designated seats. Actually we spent most of the time moving up the line than we did sitting down. 

This was the clincher: while we were on our way to Step 2 (cashier) which was all the way up on the second floor and in another wing of the building, I got an anonymous call on my mobile phone. An official DFA employee from Step 1 (ground floor) found my wife's passport on the floor. My wife told him she would go back and get it, but the man on the phone said he would bring it up to us personally. He went all the way to the Step 3 location (enrollment and encoding) to hand over the passport to my wife. Woah, were we at a government office? 

At Step 3: Encoding and Enrollment - about 60 people ahead of us, but it was our turn in less than 15 minutes. Now that's what I call an efficient system. There are a lot of encoding stations where you can take your passport photo with a Canon Ixus, take your fingerprints digitally and have your information encoded into the system. Notice the smile on my wife's face and how fresh she still looks. Not typical when doing government errands and stuff, right?

So that Gabby would just sit and behave while we waited for our turn, we gave him the ultimate baby sitter, the iPad.

I managed to take a shot of Gabby from afar talking to the staff of DFA during his encoding step. He had a lot of retakes for his photo (looking to the side, eyes closed...etc) but eventually got a great first passport photo. Couldn't say the same for my wife though. She said she looked horrible because according to the girl, "Don't show your teeth." Is that really a passport photo policy?

The last step was Passport Delivery Service. You pay P120 per passport, and they will deliver it to your home on the date appointed. Convenient! We were out of DFA before 9 am!

We had the extra time before I had to go to work, so we had a good brunch at Flapjacks in Greenhills. Country fried chicken and Chicken Longganisa. Yummy way to start the day. 

Look, maybe it was because our appointment was early in the morning, and people were less harassed, but nevertheless, great job DFA.  It proves that if you have a good and effective system in place, you will have happy customers. Anyone have a bad experience with DFA? Please let me know.

Remy Martin Cognac Appreciation Night

Last Wednesday night, I stopped by Golden Bay Seafood Restaurant along Macapagal Ave. in Pasay for Remy Martin's cognac appreciation event, Xtra Ordinary Affairs (a play on the X.O. acronym), which was beautifully organized by our dear friend, Sunny Ku. Free flowing cognac all evening! Good, unique chinese food (shank, mantis, sea cucumber..), Binondo secret taipans,  really tall good-looking girls serving cognac without hesitation and a great opportunity to network.

Outside Golden Bay restaurant. Sorry for the bad photo, what can I do with an old camera phone at night?

The door welcomes me with a big X and O - I'm in for a treat tonight.

My first glass of cognac for the evening, on the rocks. It was really smooth, though if it's your first time to drink cognac, you will need time to get used to it. 

The menu. Mantis, shark - a lot of things I haven't tried. 

Ah, the taste of grapes and rubbing alcohol touch my lips.

Soup with shark meat. It tasted like fish.

The mantis was good. The taste was a mix of shrimp and lobster served in a sweet sauce.

The shark "head and bone" were cooked in lots of garlic, salt and pepper. I ate mostly the garlic, salt and pepper.

Sea cucumber, traditional chinese style cooking with broccoli. It was kind of rubbery for my taste.

Fried rice was really pale looking, but I realized it was called Special Fried Rice with Egg White after reading the menu again. It was good and tasty, though.

Spinach Bean curd. Had two of these because I was a fan of tofu, but I've had better at Mr. Choi.

Peking duck wrapped in lettuce. You can't go wrong with this, except with your cholesterol.

Peking duck meat with kropek. Tried to avoid this but I couldn't. I love Peking duck. 

I won the raffle! Limited edition Remy Martin Cognac flown in from Paris.
I took the opportunity to have my brag photo taken.

I didn't want to leave without a photo op with Sunny Ku and the hot Remy Martin girls.

It was a cool night with live jazzy music and a lot of cognac. What topped it all was the fact that I won in the raffle, and now I have a red bottle of cognac which I can keep for generations to come until somebody decides to party hard. Now the question in my head has been answered, it IS pronounced as Remy Martan (sounds better too in a fake french accent). Thanks Sunny Ku!