Sunday, January 29, 2012

About Music

My taste in music has evolved over the years.

I grew up listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary, the Beach Boys, Steely Dan, and Elton John. My Dad and my Mom loved music and would often play records on our turntable and I learned to love the music from generations past.

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Music like this:

 If I had a Hammer by Peter, Paul, and Mary

Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys

Field of Gold by Sting

Then later on, I started to appreciate pop and RandB:

 You Got it Bad by Usher

I Know Where It's At  by All Saints

Say My Name by Destiny's Child

Now, I'm beginning to appreciate country and folk music. I don't know what it is about this kind of music that just touches my heart.

 Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts

The House that Built Me by Miranda Lambert

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

But when you get music and words together, that can be a very powerful thing. - Brian Ferry

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My NBI Experience

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m going to be working for a new company soon. You know what that means–pre-employment requirements! And here in the Philippines, it can be quite a hassle. Hassle, of course, is spelled N-B-I.

I don’t understand why it has to be so difficult to prove that you’re not a criminal. For friends outside the Philippines, every time you have a new employer, you need to submit something called an “NBI Clearance.” NBI stands for National Bureau of Investigation. What you do is spend hours lining up, filling up a form, have someone verify in their computers that you are not a wanted criminal, and have your picture taken. Consider yourself blessed if you are issued a piece of paper on the same day. For some people (myself included), you have to come back after two weeks because you have a “hit.” You can have a “hit” if you are a criminal or you have the same name as a criminal and now, the guy from NBI tells me, when you are or were a government scholar. I fall under the last category.
Now, this has always been a painstaking process. In the past, I would have to wait in line for about three to four hours to get my clearance. And just when I thought it could not be worse, it does get worse!

Here is my experience.

Now for those of you who have not tried getting an NBI clearance recently, the news is that NBI now uses a biometric system. What does that mean? Wikipedia defines biometric this way: In computer science, in particular, biometrics is used as a form of identity access management and access control. Simply put, and this is according to me, it means two things — the good news is that you don’t have to get your fingers dirty with stamp ink and the bad news is because there is a new system, the wait is now longer and you have to be there earlier. No more walking in at 4:00pm and finding no line because everyone else lined up in the morning.

Thanks to this blog entry and tips from co-workers who recently suffered the ordeal of getting an NBI Clearance, I knew I had to be at the NBI Satellite office really early. A coworker said he was there at 4:00am and was #39 in line, which is very good because you get to finish early. I wanted the same experience so I was at Robinsons Galleria EDSA-side entrance at quarter to 4:00am. And what did I see? A LOT OF PEOPLE!

the line at around 6:00am

I guessed that there were at least a hundred people already there. I found the end of the line and claimed my spot. In less than 10 minutes, the line got a little out of control because there wasn’t any more space (when I got there, the end of the line was near the parking entrance and near the shrine) so the guards of Galleria intervened and tried to create some order. That meant I got to move nearer the entrance.

I was prepared. I had reading material, a fully-charged iPod touch, tuna sandwich and a small bottle of water. I thought I would keep myself occupied by playing games on my iPod. However, the guard in Galleria yelled “Ingatan niyo po ang gamit niyo dahil baka snatcher ang katabi niyo!” (in english, “Take care of your things because you just might be sitting next to a thief!” So I kept my bag attached to my body and definitely did not take out my iPod. I made good use of my time praying silently instead. At 7:00am, the start to give out numbers and let maybe the first 200 into the mall.
Remember I got there at 4:00am? At 7:00, I found out that I was Number…

Apparently, the first group in line got there at 2:00am. Can you believe that?

Inside the mall, we are again made to wait. But this time, it’s a little more comfortable because at least it’s a little cool because the basement’s aircon is on. The line also moves quite fast (relative to the three hour wait in the heat). From the basement stairs (near Netopia), you get to enter the room beside the NBI Satellite office. It ain’t pretty but at least you get to sit on chairs instead of the floor or the stairs. The security guard then calls people by batches of 10 to line up at the cashier. By around 9:00am, I am called to that line.

When you get there, then you will understand why the wait is so long. There is only one person in the cashier and one (sometimes two) person/s who encode your data from the form you filled out into their computers. There’s a screen that’s facing you so that you can ensure they don’t misspell your name or incorrectly encode your details.  After this step, you go to the one person taking care of getting your fingerprints into the system via Biometric Machine. This person also takes care of taking your picture.

The part from the cashier to the taking of the picture takes around an hour and a half. But by then you’re so excited you actually see the process, instead of just staring into space, that you won’t mind too much the more-than-an-hour wait. I eventually finish at 10:30am but because my receipt gets stamped “HIT,” I will need to come back in two weeks to get my clearance (hopefully).
If you are going for your NBI Clearance soon, here are my tips:

1. Get there before 4:00am. I wouldn’t advice you to get there at 2:00am. Although you’ll be first in line, I don’t think it’s safe to be there that early especially if you are alone. You are bound to feel sleepy if you did not get some shut-eye the night before. So best to sleep early and wake up early enough to be there maybe 3:30. You’re bound to be part of the first 100.

2. Bring food and water but do not go overboard on the eating and drinking. Remember, you are in line for hours. If you eat or drink too much, you will probably need to go to the restroom and that means you need to leave our place in the line. I didn’t want to risk losing my place or have people cut the line so I did not go to the rest room for 6 1/2 hours. And I think it was a good decision because there would be times when the guards would change where the lines were formed.

3. Now, my third tip is make friends. Know who is in front of you and behind you. At least try to make conversation so that when you do need to go to the restroom, someone will save your place. It’s also such a bore not having anyone to talk to for that long, so be nice and smile.

4. Fill out the form properly. There were people who were asked to step out of the line to fill out their forms again. AND the NBI employees can get pretty mean. My heart broke whenever the cashier lady would loudly berate people who didn’t get to fill out their forms properly. Anyway, here’s a sample for you and some tips, too.

5. Bring a newspaper or anything wide enough to sit on. You will need to sit on the floor a lot. Also, be in comfortable clothes because you will sit and stand and sit again A LOT.

6. Bring TWO valid IDs. The ones that they will accept are Driver’s License, valid Passport, Voter’s ID, SSS ID, company ID, original birth certificate. There are some more IDs that are acceptable but these are what I remember. No need to bring your old personal copy of your last NBI Clearance. Because it’s a new system and a new supplier for their system, everyone is treated as a first time applicant.


For a full list of where you can apply for NBI Clearance, please go to the NBI official website.

That’s about it. If you have questions, leave a comment and I’ll try my best to answer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sale Season

Don’t you just love SALES? I certainly do! That's why I love January! So many post-Christmas sales!

Was walking around SM Mall of Asia when I saw this sign outside the window of VNC, one of my favorite shoe stores.

I walked straight in and came out with two new pairs of shoes!

Got this pair of navy sandals for only P300+ (around $7)

And this pair of beige pumps for only P700+ or $16

Also got some dresses on sale from Dorothy Perkins. As much as 70% off! Who can resist that?!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Restaurant Review: Ang Mo Kio

Last week, my coworker Leslie invited us to try this new restaurant at Podium that served Singaporean food. The resto is called Ang Mo Kio, which according to Wikipedia is a town in North Central Singapore. The locality’s name is believed by some to derive from the Hokkien phrase Ang Mo Kio, meaning “Red Tomato.”

I love the art on the walls of Ang Mo Kio. Leslie was one of the artists responsible for the fab walls.

Even during the soft opening last week, the place had a good lunchtime crowd.

The service was great. Although Leslie already knew what to order for us, the waitress helped explain what made each dish or drink special. That was great because I don’t know a lot about Singaporean food. When I was in Singapore early this year, we mostly had Chinese food.

These are what we ordered:
Their Teh Tarik was good. Teh Tarik literally means pulled tea.

I had the Hainanese Chicken Rice. I opted for my chicken to be roasted. It can also be taken steamed. Ang Mo Kio’s Hainanese Chicken was juicy and flavorful.

My favorite dish that day was called BakuTeh. It’s a pork bone tea soup. Very similar to Nilaga or bulalo but instead of beef, the soup had pork ribs. The soup was really tasty. I would definitely go back to Ang Mo Kio for their Bakuteh.

Anj also had their Chicken Wings. They look yummy, don’t they?

For dessert, we had this yummy chilled tapioca pearls with sweet coconut milk and melon. I do not recall what this dish was called but it was a perfect way to end our meal.

Thank you, Leslie, for the wonderful lunch!

Leslie, EJ, and Anj

me, Philipp, and Roge

Ang Mo Kio is located at the 3rd floor of Podium, right next to Shi Lin.

New Year, New Job!

I am excited to share that I will be starting a new job come end of January! I am thrilled to be part of this new company and industry! It will require me though to put aside my jeans and casual tops and start wearing clothes more appropriate for a corporate setting.

There are endless possibilities in fashion, especially when you have a tiny body, but the fact is, even at my slimmest, I was a UK Size 12, which is a large here in the Philippines. This limits my choices a little bit.

We don’t have a lot of stores in Manila that cater to plus-sized women. There are a few local plus-size clothing brands but I find most of their clothes to be dated and for the most part un-stylish. So my usual go-to store is the UK clothing store Dorothy Perkins. I’ve been shopping at Dorothy Perkins since the store opened here in the Philippines.

Here are some dresses that I like from DP:

Dorothy Perkins Spot Drape Side Dress
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Dorothy Perkins Leopard Print Drape Dress
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Dorothy Perkins Mini Dogstooth Belted Dress
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Dorothy Perkins Animal Yoke Wrap Dress
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Dorothy Perkins Black 2-in-1 Cowl Dress
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And some I just recently bought:

Dorothy Perkins Leopard Print Dress
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Dorothy Perkins Cobalt Pencil Dress
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Dorothy Perkins Multi Spot Jersey WrapDress
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I have to tell you, though, this corporate-dressing thing is quite an adjustment because I am more comfortable wearing more casual clothes to work. But I’m excited for the change. And I’m excited for the new experiences, new people, and new challenges in store for me this year.