Monday, April 04, 2016

Azure Urban Resort Residences (Paranaque, Metro Manila)

Head straight to Bicutan Exit in SLEX and you will not miss the sign to this resort and residences. Azure is very near SM Bicutan. Without the traffic, you can reach this destination in a few minutes if your coming from somewhere in Resorts World Manila.

We had a nice stay though it was just an overnight experience of staying in a condo with just a few walks to the beach. Of course, the beach is man made with white sands reminding us of far away Boracay.

If you would like to experience the beach without the hassle of very long travel, this resort residence is indeed a good option. The area is safe with a very good ambience and the scenery provides a very nice escape from the usual. There is large wave pool, kiddie pool but the lap pool however is exclusive only to unit owners.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Studying Chess

At first glance, chess appears to be “simple” but actually the game is “complex”
and very “dynamic”. Each move played, immediately changes the situation on the board and requires examination to determine its tactical or strategical purpose. A move may be considered “correct”, “unsound” or a “blunder” only after spending some time to analyze its objective. With a possible million moves and combinations, chess is a game that definitely requires time to study.

As it said, chess is a game that is easy to learn but very difficult to master.  The three phases of the game – opening, middlegame and endgame -  requires a great investment of time to master.  There are at least a hundred known openings in chess with variations numbering to a thousand. If we add the million different middlegame and endgame complications, we can imagine the  amount of time needed to study chess.

In this very busy world, only a few are blessed with time to spend for a game like chess. Almost everyone, with the exception of the elite few, is busy with trying to survive.  More than forty hours in a week are usually devoted for work or school and if there is any time left, would you spend it to study chess? If  you are serious the game, you indeed need to spend time to study chess. In fact, you got to devote a lot of “study time” to chess if you desire to improve your game, increase your rating or acquire a title. Talent alone is not enough in chess.

But how do you study this complex game? One recommendation from experts is to  study the endgame first before other phases of the game.  I think this is very logical since in the endgame you handle only a few pieces.  If you learn the rigors of handling the few pieces left on the chessboard during the endgame, then you can learn handling all the pieces during the opening and the remaining pieces during the middlegame. Studying the endgame however requires a lot of patience because this is the phase of the game that is dull compared to studying the openings or tactics. From the endgame, you can proceed studying tactics then the openings.

Studying chess requires a lot of patience and perseverance. In fact, patience is the key. It cannot be done overnight as if you are cramming for an exam. Study chess gradually. Based on your existing circumstance, create a realistic schedule to study chess and stick to that no matter what.  

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Flowers and Garden Ideas

I recently visited an "Orchid Show" at the Quezon Memorial Circle. Different species of Orchids were on display including  other beautiful ornamental plants. Flowers were in full bloom and the diverse array of colors created a picturesque sight.  The combination of flowers and other plants were indeed well thought of.  

If you are into gardening, this is definitely one place to be. There are several plants and other landscaping materials for sale. 

By just looking at the plants and how they were arranged by experienced gardeners, you can get great ideas for your own garden.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Zoocabia Fun Zoo (Mabalacat, Pampanga)

Have you visited Subic, Safari? if you like animals and nature, there is another attraction that should not be missed and that is "Zoocabia" in Pampanga. After a quick visit to Dinosaur Island, we took a less than ten minute drive to this destination. Apparently, we cannot get enough of Clark in a day and we decided to explore this attraction. 

Zoocabia is located in the extended area of Clark Freeport Zone. From Manila, we took the SLEX and exited the Angeles Exit. The Waze app is a very good navigational guide to reach this attraction. Inside Clark, the app is pointing to a direction  that is outside of the gated Freeport Zone, we asked the guard at the gate and he pointed us to the direction of Zoocabia. It was just a few meters from the gate where we were met with a rough road going to the site. 

This is called the "Gravity Car". The ride is said to be patterned
after the luge in Sentosa Resort in Singapore.
The entrance was reminiscent of Subic, Safari. It reminded us of the animals when we last visited Subic. Like in Subic, Safari, Zoocabia is a place to see different kinds of animals  but offers a different kind of experience. There are several attractions to enjoy but what we enjoyed the most is the "Zooc Ride". It is riding a small car downhill utilizing gravity to the max. There is a way to control the car and it definitely adds to the thrill. Once the car accelerates almost everything is left to gravity and only a few to your driving skills.  This thrilling ride is experienced twice. Not only once you get to ride downhill, you are given another chance to redeem yourself.

Zoocabia has a "Barn" where we had the experience of feeding animals such as goats,  sheeps, horses and camels. Yes, you got it right - camels! It is not common to see Camels in the Philippines. While it is not our first time to see a Camel, in Zoocabia we got the chance of getting close to the animal and feed it with leaves as provided. Cute potbellied pigs  can also be seen at the barn just waiting to be fed.

We had a great time at this theme park. It was a nice afternoon of fun and bonding with loved ones. The experience is a must try for the whole family. Aside from the Zooc Ride, try feeding the Ostrich with your bare hands at this park.

Dinosaurs Island (Clark, Pampanga)

Are you fascinated with dinosaurs? If they have not gone extinct due to that meteor gone off course, will these huge and magnificent creatures still survive today? What do they really look like and what kind of sounds do they make? It is very difficult to speculate and the only thing we have left about dinosaurs are their fossilized remains and our limitless imagination.  We imagine these creatures as huge and terrifying. If somehow, the famous "Tyrannosaurus Rex" or the T-Rex is still in existence are there cages large enough to contain their devastating nature? 

Our only reference to these terrifying but magnificent creatures is what we see in the movies such as "Jurassic Park" and "Land Before Time". Inside the movie house, dinosaurs seem to be real. It is not only entertaining to see dinosaurs on the big screen but somehow we learn a lot about these creatures. Now, aside from the movies, there is another place where you can see dinosaurs, interact and take photos with them - at Dinosaur Island near the Clark Picnic Grounds in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

In this theme park, there are several life sized animatronic dinosaurs. They are almost real if viewed from the eyes of children. When we visited the park, and it was a Saturday, I saw several buses with school children on educational tour. I can see how excited the children were while lining up at the entrance of Dino island.

To get here, we took the SLEX and exited at the Angeles Exit. We proceeded to Clark at asked for the way on how to get to  Clark Picnic Grounds. Getting to Dino Island can be a bit challenging if you are not familiar with the area. The drive however is smooth and traffic free inside this former military base.

We enjoyed Dino Island. But for the little ones this theme park can be really fascinating. Adults may be amused but this theme park is really for children. Their curiosity and fascination about dinosaurs can either be fully satisfied or fueled  by visiting this theme park.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT)

I recently went to Shangrila Mall in Shaw Boulevard and to escape the notorious and horrendous traffic, I opted to take the Metro Rail Transit ("MRT) at its North Avenue Station. It was a Saturday and I know that traffic in EDSA (Metro Manila's main thoroughfare) is heavy. Well, given the present traffic situation in Metro Manila everyday is like going through a stop and go situation where there is more of the former than the latter.  Despite every and other known, opinion based or supposed scientific solution to the traffic situation the problem still exists and persists.  I even heard that if the traffic situation in Metro Manila if not given the appropriate solution, the city may become uninhabitable.

Happy and thankful to survive and finally reaching their destination
I purchased a ticket for a one way destination to Shaw Station. What I noticed in the ticket is that (thankfully) it no longer bear the face of politicians or government officials. The ticket is of simple design without much fun fare as what these types of tickets should be. Luckily, I have not experienced that dreaded long queue of passengers. Again, it was a Saturday. And maybe  because it's a Saturday, the very long line of passengers was not there. I was able to purchase my ticket in less than a minute.  Usually, even during weekends, the very long line of passengers is the first great hurdle that you have to overcome in riding the MRT.

I simply tapped the ticket at the entrance where the machine is provided to validate the ticket. I headed to the yellow lines  and waited for the train to arrive. After surviving the long lines, the next obstacle in riding the MRT, as I have experienced it before, is getting squeezed inside due to a great number of people.  With a throng of people, the battle for for oxygen supply inside the train  becomes a mean to survive until the next station.  You also got to be careful of pickpockets and people who maliciously takes advantage of the situation. I was relieved that somehow during my MRT ride, it was less crowded and though I have not been able to get a seat, at least, the crowd inside the train is domesticated enough for a comfortable ride. 

What my experience shows is that while generally riding the MRT nowadays is very inconvenient and comparable to a "survivor series". However, there can come a time when your train ride can be smooth and hassle free. For this somewhat miraculous event to happen, I suggest riding the MRT during non rush hours which is from 10 am until 2 in the afternoon. But of course, you can only do this if you got the luxury time or the flexibility of schedule. 

The MRT is a cheaper and faster mode of transportation for commuters living the daily grind of EDSA . It is a viewed as a wonderful alternative or solution to the worsening traffic in Metro Manila. With the increasing number of commuters coupled with the prevalence of train mishaps, riding the jam packed MRT makes a lot of us think twice. But if we are on a rush, the MRT is undeniably a  better alternative to our car or taking the bus or taxi. 

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Capitol Commons (Ortigas, Pasig City)

Capitol Commons 
Meralco Avenue
Corner Shaw Boulevard
Ortigas, Pasig City

While staying at nearby Privato Hotel, we walked to Capitol Commons in Pasig City. It took us a few minutes from the hotel to reach the area. After crossing the street and passing by the Ynares Center, we were greeted by the sign that says we have reached a several restaurants  that offer a delicious dining experience.  If you would like to enjoy fine dining or simply try something different, Capitol Commons is a good alternative. If  you would simply like to stop for coffee, there is Starbucks. All these great restaurants are located at Capitol Commons' Gastro Strip.

We continued to walk along the area. It is like walking in a park similar to Bonifacio High Street. There were beautiful and cute dogs being walked by their owners. We saw a Chihuahua  and other toy breeds. It was such a lovely sight to see these dogs being walked by their owners  and we missed walking our dogs in  High Street.  Walking with your dog creates that kind of bond with your pet that somehow makes you both closer with one another. It is also a very relaxing experience. But wherever you are, never forget to pick up after your pet.

We seated ourselves at the bench, took some time and observed the surroundings. The area is  clean and there were guards roaming around to ensure security of the area. It was afternoon and we saw some joggers. This park at Capitol Commons is indeed ideal for  a quick afternoon stroll, jogging and walking your pet dogs. It is clean and secure.

Across the bench from where we were seated is Estancia Mall. A mall that fits the high end mixed development at Capitol Commons. After a treat at the restaurants at the Gastro Strip,   you can immediately head to this mall and check out various imported brands of clothes and shoes. If after shopping you get hungry, Estancia Mall  has several restaurants too for you to choose from.

Capitol Commons is still undergoing development. We saw that a condominium is still being built and there are other on going development in the area.  Given its location of being strategically situated in Pasig City, getting a unit at this condominium can bring tons of convenience. Everything is all here and anything you may need is just a few blocks away.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Privato Hotel (Shaw, Pasig City)

Privato Hotel
706 Shaw Boulevard
Pasig, Metro Manila
(632) 7175888/ 0998866952

It's roof deck gives a very spectacular and unimpeded view of Makati, Ortigas and the Fort Bonifacio Skyline. At night, the amazing symphony of lights from establishments and houses provides such a very relaxing ambience. I intend to go back to enjoy again this view. I really cannot explain it, but having a view from the top gives that kind of feeling as if you own everything as far as your eyes can see.  A feeling where there are no boundaries means freedom from anything coupled with the absolute imagination and relaxation while enjoying drinks and the food at the Verona Rooftop Lounge on the 23rd floor. This bar serves mostly international cuisines from 11 in the morning until 12 Midnight.

Have I mentioned that the swimming pool is also located at the roof deck?  As I looked at the pool, I recall our previous stay at the Azumi Boutique Hotel in Alabang. Both hotels have their swimming pool at the roof deck. However, Azumi's swimming pool has an unobstructed view.

Privato Hotel struck us to be simple and unassuming yet of very relaxing ambience.  It's lobby of mostly white with black paint immediately convey the idea that this a good place for a temporary escape from the stressful corporate and personal life.  The floor tiles of similar accent blend perfectly to a very welcoming tone. It is not spacious compared to other hotels but this hotel is indeed relatively "new".  Of course, the accommodating reception is something you can expect and makes each guest feels welcome.

We were billeted on the 19th floor. The room described as "executive" is smaller as what I have expected. It is however clean and comfortable enough for a good night sleep. The comfort room is equipped with a bidet but without a bath tub with the usual soap, shampoo, a dental kit, hot and cold shower and towels. The color theme for the whole room is black or gray and white. I think this idea of having such colors is something to consider if you want your room to look clean and simple. There is a split type air conditioning, a ref and a flat screen, all designed for a convenient stay. The wifi is likewise very reliable.

One advantage of staying at Privato Hotel is the fact that is just walking distance from Capitol Commons - a place where you can find the best restaurants in Pasig City. It is where the high end Estancia Mall is also located. If you stay in this hotel, it means an opportunity to shop or simply just stop and sit by at Capitol Commons and see dog owners with their dogs just like in Bonifacio High Street. 

If you really like shopping, it may be good to know that this hotel is just one ride away to huge malls such as Shangrila and SM Megamall. Location is one good reason of staying at this hotel. It is conveniently located somewhere beyond traffic laden EDSA and yet near enough for a quick visit to these gigantic malls.

The buffet breakfast at its price is reasonable but do not expect something extraordinary on the menu. Breakfast is from the customary 6 to 10 in the morning at its Piazza Privato located at the 6th Floor. 

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