Back to you

I feel quite compelled to explain my absence, especially when I just started posting more regularly than before.  Mostly, I’ve been quite busy commuting from Manila, Philippines to New Jersey, USA.

With a trip that was 10 years in the making, August 21, 2014 marks as Le Beau’s first time picking me up at the airport purposely.  I’m quite thankful for my mom and my boss for helping me afford the long time off in time for Le Beau’s birthday.  I’m ecstatic how things have fallen in place.

Carlallan at JFK

It is quite annoying that Delta forgot to load my luggage along with others in the DTW-JFK leg.  But who am I to complain?  The string of good and blessed fortune just keeps coming; I can only be humbled by it.

I didn’t really announce to most people that I am going on this trip.  In the process, I missed at least two grad school parties, a get-together with my management trainee batchmates, and a handful of end of season sales in the Philippines, when I usually shop for holiday gifts.

Not to brag or anything, but it’s pretty much worth it.

Carlallan at Goethals Bridge

Whilst I continue to battle jet lag and the ceaseless energy my nephews and nieces have, I will do my best to update the blog and not bombard it with the cheese that is ever present throughout my stay.

A good friend said I am in cloud nine.  In my opinion, clouds are an understatement.



Passport Renewal at DFA

So here’s the thing:  in order to properly carry out my communing with nature, exploring the world mantra for 2013, I have to renew my passport.  My passport has been expired for quite some time, and because we never really made plans to travel I never really saw the need to renew it.

Until now.

So I set up my appointment to this morning at 7:30 in the morning through their online appointment system.  It took me a while to find an open schedule.  I think DFA only opens the slots for the next ten days.  Anyway, I got that schedule and I had my youngest brother tag along with me.  This is his first application.

We woke up late and oh my god did we rush.  You have to be at the DFA at least 30 minutes before your appointment time.  They have a list of required documents hereTip 1:  Do not forget to photocopy every single one of the required documents.  There’s xerox service near the entrance but it charges P3.00 for every copy.  That’s too much.

For the fun of it, I decided to time the entire process.  Note however that I did not factor in the verification portion.  So the time starts from after they checked out the application form’s completeness.

They started calling out the people from the 7:30am appointment about 12 minutes ago.  It was weird because they have these huge lounge seats and they keep saying, “Upong jeep lang, hindi eroplano.”  It’s so weird that people are so crass in this place, given that there are “Service with a smile” posters everywhere.

The lady behind the counter quickly breezed over my old passport and counter-checked the input data from the application form.  Tip 2:  If your old passport still has that plastic cover, ditch it.  They take it out and throw it back to you… as politely as they can.  They’ll punch holes in them and that’s that.  Then you’ll go up to the cashier to pay.

What’s sad though is the male employees are just ushering everyone in a yelling manner.  Like people can’t understand them if they didn’t have that harried tone.  It was a lot of unnecessary negative energy early in the morning.

Tip 3:  Bring the exact amount you intend to pay — regular processing is P950, expedited is P1,200.  They do not accept any other form of payment but cash.  Actually, that part is the saddest for me.  I think I’m 43rd in line but when I got to the cashier, her register is already brimming with bills.

I honestly believe it’s time for the government to accept cards.  Debit, prepaid or credit, they should open more channels and alternatives for the public to pay.  And I’m not just saying this because our department’s mandate is to activate electronic payment in government.  I’m saying this because of the actual convenience.  When it was my turn, the cashier got the receipt, got my cash, counted my cash, confirmed receipt of cash, reprinted the receipt, arranged the cash, and gave back my copy of the receipt.  If they had accepted cards, that could’ve easily been tap and go, or swipe and go.  Easy peasy right?

I got the next number, encoding and enrollment.  It was a good wait, not really much of a hassle.  The space was well ventilated and even though the pews were a little intimately arranged, the cue was fast.  The personnel obviously had gotten this down to a routine.  They work fast.

Tip 5:  Do not wear contact lenses, colored or not.  According to my encoder, some lenses — even though they’re clear ones — reflect back a hint of light.  Should this occur, I would have to come back and have my picture taken again.  Remove all earrings, wear minimal makeup, make sure your bangs are off your eyebrows and smile with no teeth.  Hahaha.  I honestly believe I looked like a Ma Mon Luk siopao in my passport photo, but the encoder did her job fast, efficiently and was even able to sustain a good amount of small talk.

Before I knew it, I was done with the data capture.  I went over to the 2Go booth outside of the long queues to have my passport delivered to the office.

I finished right on the dot, one hour.  It was pretty quick.  This is definitely something you can do for your lunch hour.  I don’t know though if it’s because I took the early appointment or if this is really how they operate.  If not, please do let me know.

Plus sides:The area was well ventilated.  You won’t break a sweat, hence higher probability of taking a good passport photo.
The steps are clearly outlined.  Actually, they don’t need the ushers.  They’re the only ones making the noises and the somewhat rude callouts.
The staff works fast and efficiently.  I wish though that they made more eye contact or broke a smile every now and then.  The only smile I got was from the encoder and the 2Go guy.

Down sides:
I really hate those ushers.
I really wish they smiled a lot as they say in the posters.  I wanted to point out that the smile can break the monotony of their doings.  Eh.
Cash only payment.  Good luck to the cashier at the end of the day.  I can only imagine the horror of bundling money, stacking coins, separating mutilated and fit bills, and worse dealing with shortages.

So there you have it.  My day at the DFA Consular Affairs Office in Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay City (or is it Paranaque?).  Their performance is quite well, so I hope this encourages you to interact with your government offices more.  Hopefully, most offices are this efficient.

Now… how do I suggest online payment to these guys?  Hmmmm…

REVIEW: The Avengers

I don’t know why I delayed watching The Avengers so much.  I guess it’s mostly because I didn’t really get to become an ultimate fanatic when we were watching the cartoons and reading the comic books when we were kids younger.  When Dylan invited me to watch the movie, I said yes, and lemme just say, he was excited from start to finish.

I don’t know if there’s someone out there who hasn’t seen it, so let me put my review/reaction under the cut.

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Reunited with the Flames

I have been trying to live a healthier lifestyle, and although it has been to no avail (as of tonight, at least), I managed to trim down all the excesses that I used to indulge every so often.  I don’t remember the last time I ate at Mister Kabab, or the last time I had crispy liempo at Kanin Club, or the last time I had an entire cheesecake.  Yes I can finish an entire cheesecake.  Do not pretend you can’t.  I know you.  There’s no use hiding.

So when Adah and I realized that it has been too long since we last saw each other, we decided to meet up at a favorite spot:  Flaming Wings.

The last time I was here, their menu was a bit um… traditional (read:  printed and laminated).  Now, it’s quite revamped.  They even managed to put a trademark on their dessert, Wicked Oreos.  They increased their prices but  nothing more than P5.

I don’t know why we even needed the menu.  We knew then what we were having.  And it’s no surprise.

I had my usual Tenders meal with smokey barbecue sauce and ranch dip.  The good thing about this meal is they finally included bottled water as one of the drink selections (among red iced tea, pink lemonade and mango juice).  We decided water was the only thing healthy we’ll have.

Adah had her Wing meal 2 wings in original sauce with bleu cheese dip.

I can’t quite recall if we ever talked at all.  I do recall having a moment of silence after taking the first bite.  It has been a good five months since we last had this, if not more!  It was heavenly.  It tasted exactly the same way when we last had it.

Of course, we cannot do a Flaming Wings run without having their signature dessert.  Usually, we don’t have to worry about the Wicked Oreos since Euske was there to finish the third piece the last time.  I love this dessert; it’s just pure indulgence!

That’s Oreos wrapped in batter and deep fried to perfection, matched with vanilla ice cream with sprinkles, finished with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder dust.

Yes.  It’s so good.

I need not say how our plates looked like a good 30 minutes after.  :)

I wish I can say that I’ll be back for more, but after the fitness evaluation in the gym, I know I have to embark on a far healthier lifestyle.  I am only in my early years, and already I have to worry about a rapidly expanding hipline.  I wouldn’t really be surprised if people would think I gave birth to Chuchi!  Marga is almost back to her original weight!

So yeah.  It was good.  It was sooooo goood.  It pains to say that I won’t be back soon, but I definitely will be.  Maybe after five months again.

Flaming Wings can be found in front of De La Salle University Taft, Aguirre St. in  BF Paranaque and along Katipunan, QC.

Day 3: Clouds

Managed to take a peek at one of Manila’s filthy windows, and I realized the windows are not the only thing that’s filthy around here.


Notice how the smog covers almost the entire sky?  Grabe.  We should really exert more effort in taking care of the environment.