Sunday, January 31

Pinays are funny...

My friend Lo shared these videos on FB... I just had to post it for the Pinoys reading this blog. To those who can't relate or don't understand Filipino--move along... will have something for you once I shake off this migraine.





hat tip to Pinoy Blabbermouth for sharing this vid:

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Thursday, January 28

Tips On Requesting BPI Credit Card Annual Membership Fee Reversal



The title is quite a mouthful I know, but I'm just giddy happy that I've got my BPI edge credit card annual membership fee reversed. I'm late to the party actually-- I've had this card for almost 3 years now and I didn't know you could request for a waiver on your annual fee until my friend Ludy admonished me when she noticed my credit card bill includes a monthly membership fee of P110($2.6) per month. I didn't think it was a big deal since it's not a lot of money anyway... but she has a point that little expenses do add up. So I asked her for tips on how to go about this and she advised:

1. Be sure you are in good standing with the bank--they check your payment history, how much you charge every month etc.

2. Email a request for annual membership fee reversal to expressonline@bpi.com.ph.

3. or Call the BPI call center at 89-100. Be nice but very firm to the customer service representative.

4. Never, never give up the points you've earned (they'll try their darndest to make you)

5. Threaten to cancel your credit card if they would not waive your annual fee. (This is a last resort, only do this if you're sure and you have backup credit cards just in case they actually do it)

Armed with these, I called 89-100 and proceeded to tell the CSR that I'd like to request for a membership fee reversal. She asked me for my credit card number and other pertinent informations then asked me to wait while she checked my record... after a minute I was given a "reference number" and told that my request has been approved and the reversal will be included in my next billing statement.

It took all of 2 minutes to accomplish so I was like "huh, that's it?". I was expecting a little resistance, LOL. But apparently if you've charged at least P200,000 ($4300) on your BPI credit card in a year, they won't give you a hard time and I've charged way more than that and I also always pay in full and on time. Kinda anticlimactic but it worked.

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Wednesday, January 27

So long, Panda.


you did good...

My mother just informed me that our dog Panda has died. She found him in his usual place near the doorway, lifeless. He was her faithful protector and friend for more than five years. Panda was my dog first though... My cousin Tox' wife Jenny gave him to me when he was a puppy because she was concerned that her newborn baby girl might get hurt since he was so rambunctious... he looked so adorable I immediately relented and took him home not thinking that I could not possibly take care of a puppy with my hectic hospital schedule.

So I asked my niece Girlie(who was about to leave for New Zealand)to take him home to my mother in Bicol... fooled by his cuteness, she readily agreed. Girlie would later tell me that he was such a pain in the 10-hour drive ( barking, crying, pooping), it was the worse trip she's ever had! Anyway, so Panda became my mother's dog that way. She's convinced that he's the epitome of an alpha dog--the other dogs, puppies and cats followed his lead. He chased away chickens and wannabe thieves from the farm and barked at anyone who got too close to our driveway.

My Mama is still baffled why he just suddenly died on her like that. But she was thankful to have had such a good, fiercely loyal companion... what she will miss the most was his gamboling around by her side in her backyard "farm". It's always sad to lose a much-loved pet... but such is life. We're all just here for a little while... so we should try to make each day count. Good Lord, I'm feeling melancholy...

*** pic courtesy of Girlie

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Tuesday, January 26

New Michael Jackson routine from the 'Dancing Inmates' of Cebu

This is pretty cool... too bad this wasn't finished in time to go on the DVD and Blu-Ray discs of This Is It... Sony Pictures released this video on YouTube.



The "Dancing Inmates" from Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a maximum security prison, were treated to a visit by Michael Jacksons long-time choreographer Travis Payne and dancers Daniel Celebre and Dres Reid to learn performances from THIS IS IT.

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Sunday, January 24

Remembering Cory Aquino


It's her birthday...

I met Corazon "Cory" Aquino when I was 11 years old while she was campaigning for the presidency. I went to school adjacent to our local Catholic church so we were herded to see her when she was there. I did not know the significance of the event unfolding before my eyes or even remember a word she said, but I recall shaking her hand and holding on to her skirt when she was about to leave... I didn't know why I did that, but she smilingly and very gently extricated herself from my grabby little hands.

I then went home boasting to my mother and anyone who would listen that I nearly got a glimpse of Cory's underwear! Grossly exaggerated I know, but you know how kids are. She subsequently "lost" the election to Ferdinand Marcos--the people were aghast at the obvious cheating and took to the streets. Cory Aquino then became president through "People Power" and Marcos hightailed it to Hawaii.

I didn't pay much attention to politics in the intervening years... apart from going to EDSA 2 where I saw her again, I pretty much didn't care about who's in charge of the country... except for Cory,they all are thieves anyway--sadly a fact of life in the Philippines.

When President Aquino died on August 1, 2009, I was one of the hundreds of thousands who flocked to the streets to pay respect to a great lady who gave so much. My friends and I waited for more than 3 hours in the noonday sun for a glimpse of her funeral cortege as it passed by Ayala Avenue on its way to the Manila Cathedral.

The outpouring of love for her that I witnessed there is an experience I will not forget. I met doctors, office workers, students, retirees--all there to pay their last respects and celebrate her life saying "siya lang ang di nagnakaw sa atin". The only president in our recollection who did not steal from us... and she restored democracy. Her presidency was far from perfect but we all knew she was honest.

Today would have been President Aquino's 77th birthday. Statues will be unveiled, masses offered for the woman who so changed history and up until the end, held the affection and respect of Filipinos. Her son Noynoy is himself now running for president, let's hope he's got his mother's integrity and selflessness.

“I have led a full life. I cannot complain," President Cory Aquino said in March 2008, when she was told that she had stage 4 cancer of the colon.

Here are some pictures of the funeral cortege last August '09:


confetti for Tita Cory


climbed up a fire truck for a better view


took pics while waiting


at last!



she was decent and honest


a fitting send-off

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Saturday, January 23

Sunday Scripture Verse: 1 Corinthians 10:13



No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

*** photo courtesy of Alyssa

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Friday, January 22

Airport screening woes @ NAIA Terminal 3: My flip-flops' a threat!


hands up, shoes off!

This Yahoo buzz article caught my eye... a teenage boy's harmless religious garb was mistaken by a fellow passenger for a bomb causing the plane he's on to be diverted. It somehow encapsulates everything that's changed in the way we and the authorities behave in airports around the world since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.


mighty difficult to put sneakers back on

Times really have changed. Gone are the days when we could just zip through airport security with our shoes on and perfumes/shampoos safely in our purses. When I was little, we were even allowed to see off departing passengers at Naga Airport up to the time they board the plane with only a glass window in between (that changed in 1998 when a government official was assassinated there right in front of me--shattering my eardrum, but that's another story).


...whatever

On to my airport screening tale... I took a flight recently and remembering how I had to take off my shoes before being allowed to go through the metal detectors at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3, I thought it would be best this time to wear my "tsinelas" (flip-flops). Surely I would just be waved through after putting my hand-carried purse and laptop on the X-ray machines, right? Wrong. The lady in charge of frisking passengers at the metal detector thingy, still insisted I took my flip-flops off and have it pass through the X-rays.


potential "terrorists", all

I know some stupid terrorist tried to blow up a plane--with a bomb hidden in his sneakers a few years back. I certainly understand why this has become necessary... but what the heck kind of weapon could I hide on my flip-flops? There might be gum underneath it but I could vouch for its "innocence". I just had to ask that to the metal detector lady and she told me "marami" (a lot). When I asked her to name one example how a flip-flop could be used as a terorist tool, she just glared at me.


put your shoes back on now, girl

I didn't mean to give the lady a hard time, her job must get tedious at times--dealing with thousands of passengers impatient to get to their destinations... sometimes with questions she doesn't want to answer or she's answered a million times already. But it is just really annoying that the terrorists' have succeeded to scare us so completely that common sense sometimes takes a backseat. We had to follow these new rules and everyone's treated as a suspect.


innocent: the offending tsinelas

Picking up my flip-flops after its X-rayed, I hang around for a while and observed the people going through airport screening... little kids, teenagers, grandparents, moms... everybody had to take off their footwear. A few weeks ago another stupid loser terrorist tried to bomb a passenger jet using explosives hidden in his underwear. I'm glad he was stopped before anything happened... but I shudder to think what kind of screening will result out of that.


haha

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Thursday, January 21

Catfight: "I hunted rats for you!"

Rediscovered this video... I watched it again with my cousin Rose and we nearly busted our guts laughing. This drama is epic... even cats cheat? Hmmmm...


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Wednesday, January 20

Noynoy Aquino and Shalani Soledad

goodluck!

I found this article about how Noynoy Aquino met his girlfriend Shalani Soledad.

SENATOR Noynoy Aquino was dining with friends in Alfredo’s Steak House on Morato when the topic of his “type” of woman came up. The bachelor legislator, who turns 50 this year, was at a loss for words but as his eyes wandered around the restaurant, he spotted a woman a few tables away. Straightaway, he told his friends: “See her? That’s my type of woman.”

A few minutes later, the senator stepped out for a smoke (a bad habit he should quit soonest) and was greeted by the woman he had spotted and her group. Told that they were councilors from Valenzuela, Bulacan, Noynoy warmed up to them, not least because, as he laughingly reasons, “I was then chair of the Senate committee on local government.” Of course, he managed to get the woman’s name and they exchanged numbers. And while strengthening relations with local governments, he and Shalani Soledad soon became a couple.

...So what attracted him to Lani, as she is called by friends and family? “The minute we started talking, there were no communication barriers,” he shared. “We clicked instantly, and I found that I could talk with her about almost anything.”


Awww... I hope Noynoy has finally found "the One". At almost 50, I bet his judgment has gotten pretty good. Choosing the right person to marry is one of the most important decisions one could make. I don't think it's a knock on his character that he's taking his sweet time. I believe he could be a good President while single. So it's not good to pressure him to get married if that's not what he wants.

Shalani Soledad seems to be a fine woman... pretty, unassuming, well-spoken and she is not running around boasting about her connections, either. I might be a little biased though because 'Lani' is a proud Bicolana and a councilor in the 2nd district of Valenzuela City (where I went to school). It would be nice to have a First Lady like her, but she must be ready for the pressures that comes with all that too.

Update: new Inquirer feature "NOYNOY-SHALANI A love story people are talking about".

Update 2.0: The Aquino women (Ballsy, Pinky & Viel) on Shalani: 
 ALL three have only good words for Shalani Soledad, the city councilor who is Noynoy’s main squeeze. Though none of them have been on the stump with her, they are aware of Shalani’s own campaign sorties, and Ballsy says she’s heard so many stories about Shalani’s capabilities as a campaigner.“Being a local government official, she would know the challenges and demands that a politician faces,” Ballsy says with approval.
Asked if Shalani is their “favorite” among Noynoy’s girlfriends, all three roll their eyes and Ballsy, sighing, says: “We’ve had so many favorites among them through the years. We don’t want to hope again. We leave it all up to Noy.”
Update 3.0: from Philstar: Shalani Soledad: Simple and sincere 
Update 4.0: from Manila Bulletin: She’s that girl 



Update 5.0: Shalani will have to wait to be First Lady... getting married is not a priority for Noynoy post-election.



Update 6.0: Kris interviews Shalani on The Buzz.







Update 7.0: @ Noynoy's proclamation


Update 8.0: Breaking up? Confirmed. President Noynoy is now dating his stylist, Liz Uy. Well that's life, goodluck to them both.

Read more...

Tuesday, January 19

Kris Aquino's Latest Travails


Kris Aquino is embroiled in yet another controversy. This time she confronted a woman who apparently acted too chummy with her husband--basketball star James Yap. The woman's family subsequently informed the media to the effect that "now they know who they will not vote for" because of the incident (Kris' brother Noynoy Aquino is running for President of the Philippines). Kris took to the airwaves to deny she shouted at the woman and pleaded for people not to drag Noynoy into her domestic troubles.


The scandal plagued but good natured Kris Aquino has continuously been in the public eye for more than two decades since her father Ninoy was martyred and her mother Cory became President... she must know by now that everything she does will provoke comment, condemnation and adoration depending on who you ask.

She is well within her rights as a wife to react to what she sees as a threat to her marriage and family. As a public figure and tireless campaigner for her brother though, she should have thought long and hard before she showed up at the house of her husband's overzealous female "fan", even if her intention is not to cause a scene but to just talk to the former about her inappropriate behavior.


When I first heard of this incident, the first thought on my mind was "this could not have waited after the election, huh?" And then I sobered up and remembered that this is Kris Aquino we're talking about here--she's practically indestructible. Filipinos have taken Kris into their hearts that whatever outrageous skirmishes she'd gotten entangled with in the past, she always was able to bounce back even stronger than before.

She had survived so many scandals ( unsuitable men, STDs etc.) quite unbecoming of a daughter of heroic figures but the public though exasperated, has always been forgiving. Of course there are snarky comments but most people usually wish her well. In this latest dust-up there's no doubt in my mind she'll get over this too. She's left her husband temporarily to have some "space for me" and is not yet ready to say her marriage is over. I hope she and her husband patch things up eventually.


*** photos courtesy of Kris' FB

Update: That was fast--Kris confirmed in a statement that she and James are now back together.

Latest Kris issue: Ruffa Gutierrez' "walkout" from "The Buzz". I don't see anything wrong with what Kris said to Ruffa here though. But like everything that involves Kris Aquino, this has become big news.



Annabelle Rama just had to play drama queen again on behalf of her daughter, so the furs flew. I think it's unfair to drag Noynoy's name into this but I guess Kris is so identified with her brother's campaign now, people just couldn't help themselves.



Kris for her part has apologized to Ruffa and Annabelle.  But I can't help but think that Kris has been used in all this to drum up interest on Ruffa's new show on TV5.



Kris to Pacquiao: Unlike you, Noynoy undefeated in polls
“In politics, Noy has won 3 straight terms sa Congress and won almost 15 million votes sa senatorial [race] in 2007." “How sad na he didn't think na in politics, knock out nga s’ya,” 
Kris gives up on James. Marriage over. James still fights, wants an "intact" family.





Update: Kris left for US vacation with her kids, lawyers file for "declaration of nullity of marriage".
             James Yap hopes for a miracle. 

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Monday, January 18

Bad news for Manny Villar

a Filipino success story

This is disappointing news... of all the Presidential candidates, Senator Manny Villar has the best backstory... born into a poor family in Tondo, Manila--he sold shrimp and fish in his youth so he could support his education. With determination and grit he was able to build one of the largest real-estate companies in the Philippines. He is completely self-made and is now according to Forbes Asia magazine the 9th richest Filipino with an estimated net worth of $530 million. It's very hard to root against a guy like that.

The Senate investigation on the C5 road extension controversy has been going on for months. Villar is being accused of having used his influence so the road would run through his properties... his corporations allegedly received road right-of-way payments. As a keen observer of the goings-on in Philippine politics... I would not even pretend that this is not politically motivated, of course it is. This is the Philippines--everything is politics here.

Whatever happens with this investigation...I hope the Senators would be fair to Manny Villar and quit their grandstanding. I might not be voting for the man (succumbed to the "Cory Magic", wink!) but I have profound respect for what he has achieved by his hard work and daring.

Update: LP points to Iloilo land case as ‘pattern’ of Villar’s wealth. Hmmm...
Update: Villar pressure on PSE to okay stock offering bared 
              Villar concedes to Noynoy 

Enlightening Winnie Monsod video about the C5 road extension project controversy: 

 

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Sunday, January 17

Bicol Travel Notes



Loyal readers of this blog know that I spent the holidays in my home province Camarines Sur... I did not really expect to go anywhere else but I somehow found myself gazing at the majestic awesomeness of the Mayon Volcano again... to the beach and the mountains...it made me rediscover how blessed my region is and how incredibly diverse its natural wonders.



Looking at the pictures now, I just had to share it with you guys to let you know just how amazing Bicol is. I must admit having lived most of my growing-up years there I had taken its beauty for granted... but no more. So expect to see "Bicol Travel Notes" posts. It might include mall visits too so consider yourselves warned, LOL. Just my way of bragging up Bicol and if some of you might be tempted to visit and see for yourselves, all the better.

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Saturday, January 16

Sunday Scripture Verse: John 16:33



"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." ~ John 16:33 (NIV)

***photo courtesy of Emman

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Friday, January 15

Shopping at "Kultura"


Kultura Filipino store


Traditional costumes


Bicol-made bags


Lo with her tiny shirt


Lo and Ate Myrna at pearls aisle


I went to Kultura with my "balikbayan" friend Lorna and her mom Ate Myrna and was surprised that the Filipino products specialty store now occupies even more space at the 2nd floor of SM Makati. We had a lot of fun admiring the craftsmanship of the products there from handicrafts to souvenirs but we spent most of our time in the bags, clothes and pearls aisles.

We were excited to find some cool Cory Aquino shirts but sadly they didn't have the yellow ones in my size--anyone who knows me also knows that I hate yellow but I thought if I'm gonna buy a Cory shirt it might as well be in her color otherwise, what's the point? Lo is super slim so she got one that fit her. The shopping day wasn't a complete bust for me though because Ate Myrna bought me some delicacies that I have not had for a while, yay! They are SO good. I'll post about them soon...

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Thursday, January 14

Sense and Sensitivity



Actress/TV personality Rosanna Roces was recently involved in a controversy when she said mean things about teachers in a talent show ("Showtime") where she was a judge. A big brouhaha ensued and though she apologized, she was still removed from the show. So I don't understand why The Movie and Television Review Classification Board (MTRCB) still suspended "Showtime" for 20 days.

Sure, what Rosanna Roces said was insensitive but she's entitled to her opinion. I think the MTRCB is overreacting. The offending party is not with the show anymore so a "preventive suspension" is ridiculous at this point. I think it's up to the viewing public to decide what they want to watch on TV, not a government body. The government should stay out of silly controversies like this and focus on serious issues.

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Wednesday, January 13

Praying for Haiti



A terrible magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Many buildings collapsed and thousands are feared dead. I could not even imagine how incredibly hard it must be for those who are affected by this tragedy. For this to happen in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere is even more challenging.

I feel really helpless just watching the news... but I know one thing, prayer is powerful and effective. And in times like this, holding on to faith sustains us. It gives us hope that God would see us through our difficulties, even when we don't understand...

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
~ Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

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Monday, January 11

Now it's "Global Cooling", huh?

'An Inconvenient Truth' for Al Gore et al.

So after all the "global warming" scaremongering we all have been subjected to for years, scientists are now saying we could be in for decades of cooler temperatures. Many parts of the world are experiencing its coldest weather in recent memory.

From the Daily Mail:

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in
summer by 2013.
The "global warming" story is an example of science getting needlessly politicized. Even reputable scientists get tempted to manipulate data or conform to the status quo. It does not help that when you question the veracity of "global warming" some people would immediately jump and call you a "climate denier' as if that's a terrible crime. It's always good to ask questions and not follow anyone blindly.

I would not be surprised if with this cooling trend so-called "experts" would try to scare us again into believing that the sky is falling and we're going to freeze our butts off if we don't do what they recommend. It would do us good to just relax and continue to be mindful of the environment but not be panicky or scared. The earth has its own way of coping and chances are it will outlive us all.

Update: Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified

Update 2.0: Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

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Friday, January 8

@ "The Dollhouse" Radio Show

The Dollhouse's Sarah Meier and Vicky Herrera

My friend Lorna from California was invited to appear on the Sarah Meier and Vicky Herrera radio show "The Dollhouse" on U92 FM. I have not listened to radio for years so I was not aware of the show but I know of Sarah Meier's work as an MTV VJ and model.

Lo during commercial break

It was fascinating to see the inner workings of this radio show. Meeting Sarah and Vicky was a real treat... and they are truly funny. We were inside the radio booth the whole time and we could not keep ourselves from cracking up especially when the mic was left on by mistake when the commercials were supposed to be playing.

choosing the winners of the Ne-Yo concert tickets

The topic was about going home to the "motherland" and reconnecting with your roots. We had another treat when one of the show's loyal listeners and Ne-Yo concert ticket winner Hannah Mae Aldeza showed up... she was born completely blind but she had never let that stop her(I'll post more on her later).

Vicky, Sarah, Hannah Mae and her companion, me, Lorna & Mom

I went home completely impressed with how smart, witty and spontaneous these women are (it does not hurt that they are very nice too) that I have just become a fan and will be listening to their show Monday-Friday at 5-7pm. You should check them out too.

Update: from Vicky Herrera's Facebook page--NEWSFLASH: THE DOLLHOUSE NOW COMING TO YOU LIVE & DIRECT 6-10AM MANILA TIME. via @sarah_meier

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Thursday, January 7

Mariah Carey's Tipsy Acceptance Speech


Next time, get drunk after you've won, Mariah

This is embarrassing and funny at the same time. Mariah Carey gave a drunken, rambling, loopy acceptance speech when she won at the Palm Springs International Film Festival for Best Breakthrough Performance for her role in the movie "Precious".

Maybe Mariah did not expect to win, hence the boozing before the awards were given out. Whatever the reason, at least now we know Mariah Carey is a happy drunk. Let's hope she wins more awards.



***Pic from Getty Images

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Tuesday, January 5

The Blind Side breaks box office record


This is wonderful news. It is really great that The Blind Side has become the first film with a female lead to make over $200 million at the North American box office.

Sandra Bullock's inspirational football movie has made over $208 million since its release in the U.S. and Canada. So this means Bullock beat out A-list stars Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie for the distinction.

I'm not really a film buff but when a good book I have read gets made into a movie... I get caught up in the excitement. And this movie getting positive audience feedback adds to my anticipation. I can't wait for The Blind Side to open here.

Found videos from ABC's show 20/20 and CBN with the real Michael Oher and the Tuohy family:




Update: Sandra Bullock just won the award for outstanding performance by an actress in a dramatic motion picture at the Golden Globes.

Update 2:
Opening in theaters in the Philippines January 27

Update 3:   The Blind Side is now the all-time number 1 sports movie in the US earning $255,119,553 so far.
                 a  list of its box office rankings here.

*** also 'The Blind Side' Tops Weekly BLOCKBUSTER(R) Hit List of 'Top 10 Renting DVDs' 

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Monday, January 4

Back to normal...


bye for now

What is it with going back to work/study after a long vacation? The two-week Christmas break is tough to get over for me. I've been spoiled silly with the home-cooked meals, fun trips to the beach, sightseeing, attending fiestas, driving around town, sleeping as long as I wanted, joking around with the kids etc.

Not looking forward to leaving all that but real life beckons. Will hop a flight to Manila this afternoon... I have to be back to work at the hospital tomorrow. I believe I'm not alone in feeling a little disjointed by the long vacation but I'm grateful to have spent quality time with the family...see you next Christmas guys!

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Saturday, January 2

Sunday Scripture Verse: Jeremiah 29:11-13



For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

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